While at The Hotel Experience Expo in New York City, INTELITY CEO Robert Stevenson participated in a panel on “Measuring Funding and ROI of Your Technology Investment” alongside ALICE President & Co-Founder Alex Shashou, and Expedia Senior Director of Market Management Deb Surden. Moderated by AAHOA Secretary Neal Patel, the panel focused on how technology has transformed the hospitality industry and the all-important question of how to measure the ROI of tech investments.
The Impact of Tech in Hospitality
The general consensus amongst the panelists is that without a doubt, over the past few years, technology has transformed the hospitality industry and the travel industry as a whole. All the panelists agreed that hospitality technology has helped even the playing field between branded and unbranded properties and that the focus of tech, from both the guest and staff perspective, is to deliver a great guest experience. Shashou noted that the value prop of a hotel is to provide great service to its guests and that is best achieved through the proper implementation and optimized use of technology.
Put Your Guests in Control of Their Stay
Shashou and Surden both pointed out that technology has empowered people to own their travel experiences and has placed the modern traveler in complete control of managing their trip. Stevenson added that guests expect this same experience when staying at a hotel. This expectation has increased the demand for self-service solutions, like mobile check-in and mobile key, that allow guests to bypass the front desk and better manage their experience with a hotel property or brand.
Personalized Experiences are Key
The panelists also discussed the increase in the adoption of guest experience tech, like mobile apps and in-room tablets. Surden pointed out that modern guests want a personalized guest room experience, which guest-facing technology helps provide. Shashou added that in-room tablets and other forms of guest experience tech should be the standard at four and five-star properties, a reversal on past statements where he indicated guest-facing tech was not worth the investment. Stevenson also noted that guest experience technology is increasingly adaptable and can help support staff and back-office software by automating and expediting tasks and guest requests.
Tech Should Augment Staff, Not Replace Them
The biggest takeaway from the panel is that hospitality tech is not meant to replace hotel staff, but rather optimize their performance by taking over mundane and monotonous tasks. Using technology to automate various tasks and maximize response time frees up staff time, so they can focus more on creating social interactions with guests rather than transactional ones. In turn, these social interactions are more valuable to the guest and help elevate their experience at a property.
The Gift of Time
The return of time is the most valuable return on investment that technology provides. By optimizing operational flows and streamlining guest and staff interactions, technology gives time back to both staff and guests. This means team members can oversee and manage processes rather than complete each individual task themselves, therefore becoming exponentially more efficient. It also means hotel staff is empowered to focus on creating more quality interactions with guests, investing in further training, or supporting fellow team members. Freeing up time for guests leads to a better overall experience and a higher rate of guest satisfaction.
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