A major new study has shown how hotel chains are using technology to capture bookings, at the same time as illustrating how they want the ecosystem to evolve.
The study was carried out by the H2C consultancy in conjunction with Sabre as part of the technology provider's ongoing review of the market and its requirements.
It follows a report penned into so-called Digital Darwinism by Altimeter Group's Brian Solis, revealed exclusively on PhocusWire earlier this month.
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The H2C study spoke to 92 hotel chains and 14 technology experts from around the hospitality sector.
Here follows a series of findings from the report.
Computer reservation systems
In terms of distribution, 18% of chains use a channel manager or property management system, compared to 82% that utilise an existing CRS.
Still, some 28% of the functionality contained within a CRS is not used, meaning that the tools are "over-designed", the report argues.
Whilst only 1% of respondents are less than 50% satisfied with their CRS, 28% would say their satisfaction levels are in the 70-79% range, and only 14% in the 90-100% bracket.
Holding CRSs back are a range of complaints, included limited tools for group bookings, lack of detailed reporting, marketing opportunities are missing and corporate profiles are not fully recognized.
Hotels consider reporting, business monitoring, alert functions and automated information flow as extremely important functions within a CRS.
The direct booking conundrum
Most hotels know that direct bookings are the "greatest value driver" for a property, yet H2C argues that to some extent the internet booking engine "requires a reinvention", generally.
This can come in the form of more ecommerce-type functionality, where elements such as ancillary sales and personalization can come to the fore.
The report says a hotel website would provide a better experience, adding: "With mobile check-in/out and door opening becoming more popular, guests will increasingly use services and applications directly provided by hotel chains including the IBE."
But still the online travel agency channel provides some 73% of online bookings to hotels. Some 45% of total bookings are made offline (41% online), with global distribution systems accounting for 8%.
Business Intelligence in Hospitality
Booking.com is the top performing channel for hotels (55%), yet properties expect this to decline to 39% in three years as their direct booking efforts kick in.
The decline in the reliance on the Booking Holdings-owned brand is not mirrored with other channels, with Expedia increasing from 15% to 16% over the next three years.
The metasearch angle
Hotels argue that metasearch channels can be seen as "expensive and complicated", not least with OTAs also competing in the marketplace.
Only 14% of hotels do not use metasearch as a booking vehicle, yet this is seen as a chance for hotels to continue participating as long as the model is based on cost per booking rather than cost per click.
H2C found that seven out of ten chains generated a maximum of 5% of room revenue from metasearch channels.
Future CRS needs
As systems evolve to handle both the requirements of guest expectations and bookings, hotels have very specific demands on what they perceive to be the next wave of the platforms that they will use.
Topping the list of "extremely important" items is better integration with existing, in-house technology.
This is followed by an uptick required in the sophistication of internet booking engines, specifically to include more mobile-led services.
Other demands include guest profile management tools, business intelligence services, revenue management and personalization functionality.
H2C concludes: "No matter how far property management systrem and CRS functionality merges in the future (either in form of hybrid solutions [with improved CRS interfaces, strongly integrating RMS and yielding functionalities in the CRS] or as entirely new hotel management platforms), the aforementioned approach needs to be taken into consideration.
"The industry requires faster development cycles and this is a clear call for vendors to improve their R&D as well as their testing processes."