Hotel decision-makers and technologists have been talking
for years about “the traveler journey” – the need to take care of the guest
holistically from the moment of booking to rebooking, as it opens new revenue
upside for the property.
It’s become clear that the key to curating and monetizing
the guest journey for hotels will sit ultimately within a holistic platform or
platforms. These platforms must be connected with an API-first technology
foundation that brings applications together seamlessly and enables them to run
smoothly and productively to serve the guest and the hotel owner and operator.
In the race to create “the single best platform” which we
seem to be pursing as an industry, a funny thing happened: The human
element crept back into innovation, as hoteliers struggle to find new
solutions for providing great service and maximizing revenue in an
inflationary, labor-challenged post-pandemic environment.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
It has become equally clear that innovation will work for
hoteliers only if it takes its bearings from the human connections and interactions that drive the guest journey, and in fact, the entire lodging
It may seem obvious to hoteliers who are trained from the
outset to put people first, but a review of the needs and desires of the human
connection that drive successful property operations is in order.
Here is a roadmap.
The guest first interacts with your property when she books
a room; receives her first impression upon entering the lobby and checking in;
and has her stay experience shaped through a thousand touch points leading up
to departure and hopefully rebooking.
How do you ensure a seamless, enjoyable experience from
start to finish?
New tools and innovations are being cooked up in the areas
check-in, mobile key and enhanced guest service every day. It’s
often said that the front desk will disappear altogether, as a new generation
of traveler seeks less direct contact upon check in, not more, and new
innovations make it possible for guests to access their rooms quickly and
The backbone to enable the adoption of these new tools is the
move toward open, secure and seamless integrations with a high-functioning
property management system at the core. The PMS should be the connective tissue
that enables all other hotel technologies to operate effectively and seamlessly.
The evolution of the PMS has been taking place for years,
and the merits of one system over another or a single system for all things
could fill an entire volume. The reality is that a seamlessly connected system
with redundancy is actually much more powerful than a single system (think
single point of failure).
Some points for practitioners consider: Is your PMS
furthering the kind of human connection that a guest seeks when he visits your
hotel? If contactless check-in is key, does the property management system
integrate to make it possible? Is the
system adaptable to different kinds of properties in different segments,
catering to different kinds of guests? Does it offer the full range of features – from reservations and
housekeeping to revenue management and POS – you need to save staff time,
dedicating more time to the needs of your guests? Is the data integrated to
systems like loyalty and planning and forecasting tools to ensure ongoing
These are all critical questions to answer when selecting the
operations management solution or solutions that work best.
It’s become clear to thoughtful observers that the hotel
human ecosystem is not just a collection of individuals whose paths cross to
facilitate a decent night’s sleep – it is an evolving culture supported by
tools and technology to engage a broad range of people from diverse backgrounds
in a common set of activities to create great experiences, and value.
From panic buttons to full mobile operating platforms, the industry is embracing new innovations that promote staff’s safety and well-being while improving property efficiency.
Georgine Muntz - Visual Matrix
Nowhere is that clearer than back of the house.
As hotel brands make important efforts to respect and reward
the diversity of their workforce, the working conditions and well-being of
hotel staff have also come under increased scrutiny.
For example, a recently adopted California ordinance affords
to housekeeping staff. This is just the tip of the iceberg as the industry
wakes up to the fact that the well-being of every person engaged in the hotel
enterprise ultimately impacts not just the guest experience, team culture and
retention - but profitability.
From “panic buttons” to full mobile operating platforms, the
industry is embracing new innovations that promote staff’s safety and
well-being while improving property efficiency.
People should always be the focus when developing advanced
Since joining the industry two years ago, I’ve enjoyed
interacting with dozens of brand leaders, franchisees and hotel owners of
properties across all segments.
My overwhelming takeaway when discussing the challenges during
these unprecedented times is this: It’s past time to set aside siloed, outdated
thinking to collaborate and integrate.
There’s no better path to encouraging this than the
important work being done by industry organizations such as AHLA and AAHOA. They
are at the vanguard of breaking down barriers between brands and franchisees,
owners and staff and the providers that support them.
Each stop on the roadmap begins from the perspective that
even as hotels and technology providers compete effectively in their markets, industry
and standards are key to building a stronger hotel ecosystem and operating
environment for all.
A recent McKinsey
study pointed to the importance of more effective communication, transparency
and advanced technology systems in producing better business results
across a broad swath of industries. And hospitality is certainly no exception.
From new communication platforms to smart staff management
technology, technology once again lies at the heart of progress, and
integrations are the path forward.
The last critical stakeholder is investors. From bankers and
private equity to venture capitalists, there has never been more interest in
the long-term growth potential of the industry.
Hotel mergers, acquisitions and the introduction of new
brand concepts have hit
a fever pitch, as the investment community tries to align long-term travel
trends with hotels’ ability to serve guests faster, better and more
technology providers have also spurred increased innovation
of solutions that hoteliers need to operate more
efficiently and effectively.
As experts across the investment landscape have noted,
successful investing requires factoring in not only financial, but operational
and market-level data. Hotels are not only an investment but more
importantly a uniquely local and human experience and a street-corner business.
What this means is that adopting a joint investment mentality is absolutely critical to success.
It is important to view a hotel not just as a collection of
operating statistics, cash flow projections and revenue optimization trends –
but a human ecosystem that benefits from collaboration across departments,
stakeholders and interest groups.
Critical here is not only human collaboration, but
collaboration between people and technology, through open
platforms that foster the exchange of competitive strategies and best
The faster the industry can develop such platforms, the
quicker and more substantially every participant and constituent in the hotel
ecosystem will be rewarded.
Creating the future: connection and collaboration
If there is one immutable truth over the past 10 years,
it’s that people and enterprises are more connected than ever.
The rise of “online-everything,” a financial crisis that
showed the intimate interconnections between institutions and industries, and a
pandemic that reinforced once again the yearning for human contact and
collaboration – all have demonstrated that future success depends on human connection
more than ever.
It’s time for the hotel industry to fully embrace that fact,
and it has already begun doing so.
Now more than ever, the guest journey is defined by the interplay
between technology, innovation and human interconnection.