As the world ushers in the New Year, industry pundits are busy reading their crystal balls to forecast business trends that will rule in 2017. Let’s see what predictions lie in store for the hospitality industry.
Technology will continue to be the BIG thing
According to a study by Hospitality Technology, 54% of the hotels had acknowledged a desire to increase spending on technology, especially in payment & data security, guest room tech, bandwidth and mobile engagement. This year, a greater number of hotels will adopt cloud technology to keep their distribution strategy real-time and minimize the manual errors. They will delve deeper into the implementation of game changing technologies such as IoT, virtual reality, wireless charging, robotics, interactive digital displays, smart control apps and beacons to take the guest experience to the next level. Hotels will continue to leverage technology as a game changing strategy in the market.
Starwood and Hilton have already upgraded a few of their properties to allow their guests to unlock their rooms or access hotel facilities such as spa and fitness centres through a smart phone app. Guests can also use their smart devices as a remote control to control the television channels, lights, fans, blinds and temperature in their rooms.
In India, hotels such as ITC Grand Chola, The Oberoi, The Leela Palace and ITC Maurya offer a similar experience through iPad for room controls, stream movies on demand, order food or chat with other guests.
Revenue intelligence will become more important
Hotels are privy to a wealth of unstructured customer data from various online and offline sources. However, most hotels still struggle to handle this data and gain strategic insights from it. Hotels have limited inventory and usually struggle with higher room inventory utilization and pushing ARRs as adding new rooms is an expensive affair. 2017 will witness a sharp increase in the use of big data, analytics and intelligence products in the hospitality sector to predict customer behavior, provide them a ‘wow’ & tailor made experience and result in better yield management. Hotels will implement tools which will help them to accurately estimate occupancy, and attract optimal price for every room, taking into account low and peak periods, weather conditions or local events. As the hotels mature, there will be a big shift towards revenue intelligence, even in the sub 4 star segment.
The American hotel chain Denihan has set an excellent example of how big data can work wonders for the hotel industry. It uses IBM Big Data Analytics software to combine their own data sets and data collected from blogs, social media platforms and review sites to understand the preferences of their guests, personalize the offerings and determine the room rates accordingly. This way, they are able to optimize their revenue round the year.
Back home in India, Petoo, an online food ordering startup uses algorithms to study the historical data of customers and eating-out habits, and predict order volumes, plan inventories, manage menu and reduce wastage.
Mergers and acquisitions will gain momentum
2016 was a year of consolidation in the hospitality sector with Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Accor Hotels’s acquisition of Fairmont Brands, MakeMy Trip’s acquisition of Ibibo and the most recent Louvre Hotels Group’s acquisition of Sarovar Hotels. The spill over effect may be felt in 2017. Several international chains are keen to expand in India and a few domestic brands are adding new properties, which will set the pace for more deals.
Cashless payments will go higher
The demonetization drive has majorly affected all industries, including hospitality sector. However, this is a short-term slowdown and will yield positive results in the long-run. More hotels, especially in the unorganized sector or smaller players, will switch to digital payment options to attract more customers. Due to the availability of more cashless payment modes, the inflow of foreign tourists will go higher as they will not have to deal with currency exchange hassles. As the digital economy penetrates the rural India, business for hotels offering agri-tourism or located in offbeat/remote locations will also see a jump in revenues. 2017 will see hotels adopting cashless systems, if they haven’t done already so.
Direct online booking competition will heat up
The tug of war between hotels and OTAs to earn a bigger pie of online bookings has intensified like never before. The entry of Paytm, India’s largest e-wallet player, in the travel space will take the war only a notch higher. A Millward Brown report revealed that online booking comprises 25% of hotel reservation channels, with 18% bookings are made by OTAs and remaining 7% done through hotel brand websites. While customers benefit the most with the best discounted deals on their plate, the smaller, independent and boutique hotels end up losing 20-30% of their revenues via OTA commissions. Hotels may not be able to do away with OTAs completely, but they will definitely up the bait for customers and competition for OTAs by promoting direct bookings through loyalty programmes, run special campaigns, freebies, etc.
However, unlike OTAs and luxury hotel chains, middle & low end hotels can’t afford to spend a huge amount on marketing. Hence, these hotels will have to ensure that their direct booking engines are visually appealing, interactive, easy to navigate and mobile-friendly. Since hotels have the best knowledge of their property, food and local culture as compared to OTAs, they will also look at highlighting these features on their websites and social media handles.
It would be interesting to watch how 2017 unfolds for the hoteliers.
How DJUBO can help hotels to make the best of 2017?
DJUBO, a SaaS based 360 hotel sales platform, can help hotels to improve their guest experiences and operational efficiencies through cloud technology. It manages booking confirmations, room hold requests, room queries, online channel partners, booking engine, payment follow up and much more through a single interface. It seamlessly integrates all sales channels such as direct websites, OTAs, direct walk-ins and offline resources for hotels of all sizes. Here are some notable features of DJUBO platform:
- Builds your own branded website with beautiful design, simple navigation, call to actions and SEO & mobile friendly features.
- Integrates a booking engine on your website to accept direct bookings and, thereby, save on OTA commissions and increase direct revenues.
- Installs a price comparison widget so that visitors can do a quick price comparison on your website instead of doing it on OTA websites. This further amplifies direct conversions.
- Offers ‘Quick Pay’ and ‘E-collect’ features which enable to accept cashless payments and save the time consumed in processing cheques or in case of non-working of credit card machines.
- Offers Review Intelligence Suite which helps hotels to get analytics on guest behaviour (grievances as well as appreciation). It uses use a machine learning algorithm to decipher the sentiment behind every review across multiple languages globally across all online review sources.