lunes, 28 de octubre de 2013

Designing the Next Decade of Hospitality Industry - Jordi Gaya (7th Semester Bachelor´s Degree in Hotel Management)

Jordi Gaya
7th Semester Bachelor´s Degree in Hotel Management

The hotel industry is a business that by its definition is always looking to be revolutionizing, expanding and adapting its particular service to the new market and global trends as they develop. Technology plays a very important role concerning how fast can these changes be made and these new trends molded into the specific requirements of the user or company. But in order for these elements to combine and generate revenue, hoteliers need to know how to use and understand the impact that it is causing that instant on the perspective of future guests. This is why I believe that in the next decade, with the help of technology and education, personalization of service will be the key factor to staying on the competitive end of the hotel industry.

I will now discuss briefly what I believe are the six key technology trends that will be the topics of tomorrow.

I. SaaS: Software as a Service. The whole idea behind having different programs tailored to specific needs is to facilitate action and processes. I will refer to this software as “the cloud” for easier comprehension and the fact that it is not in a fixed location. Firstly, initial investment is lower with the cloud as there are no initial hardware costs or associated expenses such as full time, in-house IT staff to maintain the system. Secondly, hotels like the idea of taking the headache and distractions of IT off their site, leaving them free to focus on the day-to-day business of looking after their guests. As well as the low capital expenditure of the cloud and the cultural "fit", there is also the fact that implementation timetables can shrink from months to days, resulting in immediate and obvious benefits in obtaining time to value. The sum total of these drivers is that cloud technology is no passing fad: for the hospitality sector it is the new norm.

II. Mobility: Mobile is the new face of computing as devices such as tablets and smart phones revolutionize the way we interact with technology. Hospitality is no exception to this revolution, in some cases even leading the way. There has often been the expectation that because hotels are, by their very nature, fixed entities, mobile technologies may have minimal impact. However, this myth has been thoroughly laid to rest as tablets, mobile phones, smart phones and laptops have become critical tools on both sides of the check-in desk.

Now, I do not mean for mobile devices and future technologies to replace human contact because that is the very essence of what we are doing, and why I chose to study here at CESSA. Although 21% out of 100 guests are looking forward to checking in, ordering room service, scheduling meetings, and do all processes through a device, the vast majority expects a certain level of human care and contact from their service provider.

III. Personalized Systems: Customers expect their experience within a hotel to be totally personalized to them: from the welcome message on the television screen and food preferences to additional services such as personal training or flowers in the room.

This quickly creates a huge range of valuable customer preference data that needs to be fed into the hotel management system in order to deliver a personalized, high quality service for each return visit. This is not just a case of linking the customer relationship management system into the hotel operations - it is embedding the process of capturing guest preferences and proactively using that data.

IV. Integration: Hotels span many functions - from accommodation and event catering to specialized facilities such as golf or health spas. Each of these areas has, traditionally, operated an individual software system. Whilst this approach has delivered specific functionality, it has also led to massive amounts of information.

Integrating these systems can provide more comprehensive management information, faster reporting and a truly comprehensive view of profitability. The hotel can also pull together truly holistic reports for management information and customer communication.

In the same way, integration offers the possibility of being able to "revenue manage" the guest across all areas of their stay: this requires transaction level interfaces but are not necessarily complex to use. Critically it aligns the marketing -based personalized offering with the financial outcome of the revenue secured.

V. Social: Social media has had a profound impact upon the hospitality industry. Trip Advisor has become one of the main sources of information for people researching holidays, hotels and leisure facilities. Meanwhile, newer social tools like Facebook or Twitter are quickly becoming just as influential. For any hotel to not at least monitor social media is as good as thinking that guests will just show up.

The online reputation of a property is business critical. It does not however, stand alone as a marketing department concern, but relates directly to daily operations. As such, social media monitoring must be interfaced with the hotel management systems so that swift, appropriate actions can be taken.

VI. The last major trend currently in the hospitality industry is globalization. In the 21st century, hotel companies will need to adopt different management approaches to survive and develop amidst high levels of economic uncertainty. As international trade and business expand, there is no question that international links will become more important for the hotel industry. This means that the technology systems in use - especially those in large chains - must account for the global perspective.

This may be something as relatively simple as issues of scalability or international languages, or something as complex as accounting for different regulations and working practices in different countries.

Finally, I would also like to point out the necessity of education and the key role it represents in the future. It is an intricate word “future”, involving an image as far as your imagination allows you to, and it depends on as many variables as there are people who can make it change. Now, we can predict room demand, occupation, seasonality based on past behavior and solid numbers, but we cannot know for sure the direction of an industry that is constantly changing. The subjects that students are required to know and be tested on in the future are not yet known. The problems that we will face are complex and unknown, but what we do know and possess thanks to you, are the tools to examine and understand what is happening and why it is behaving in such a way. This foundational idea is why students thrive on teachers who have had previous experiences on the subject. It is of outmost importance that classes are led by teachers who dominate