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Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

The hotel and hospitality sector goes back thousands of years, but in recent times it’s led the way when it comes to using tech to improve operations.

After you’ve checked in to your hotel (once you’ve tried to score a discount or upgrade), you head up to your room and put your bags down and look around – in addition to the mini-bar, there’s a tablet on the desk that’s replaced the room service compendium and it’s connected to the hotel’s free Wi-Fi.

And that only scratches the surface of the technology that’s involved to this point: Revenue management software with complicated algorithms set the rate on your room, you likely checked a review site like TripAdvisor® before you decided on it, and the loyalty program you’ve signed up to determined what room you received based on all the other times you’ve stayed.

When it comes to where you stay, the technology is working towards two goals: Make your time as pleasant as possible and put money on the bottom line.

There’s a lot for the wider business sector to learn.

a close up shot of a person using a purple swipe card to enter a hotel room

Revenue management

There are few industries that have variable pricing when it comes to their products, but hotels have long altered their pricing on a day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month basis – capitalising on peak periods and stimulating demand when times are leaner.

And driving this behaviour is sophisticated revenue management technology and forecasting that uses a bank of historical data to predict the level of demand at any given time – strategies that can be used by any businesses.

Identifying what data you have, where it comes from and organising it into a format that can be analysed can tell you lots about your processes, customers and business that can inform your operations. For example, if you see more foot-traffic in December, sales might be less required. If you know client budgets get signed off at the end of the financial year, it might be worth putting more effort into marketing around then.

Making the most of add-ons

The immediate “product” when you think about a hotel is the room, but complementary services like spa treatments, massages and hotel restaurants can make a big difference to the bottom line: A recent report from EyeForTravel stated that nearly a third of hotels have reported ancillary revenues are contributing 25 per cent more to the bottom line in some hotels.

So what’s the lesson for business? Look beyond your main product and into services that can deliver ancillary revenue – add-on sales can make a big difference to the bottom line, and can offset a reduction in the main product price to get people in the door.

Making process digital

Remember the old room service compendium? The big, leather-bound tome that gave guests an overview of the hotels’ services and the room service menu? It’s being replaced with tablets that automate the ordering process and can be tailored to individual guests.

Again driven by data, tablets can provide timely meal offers and promotions in real time and orders are sent directly to the kitchen, removing the middle-man and reducing human-error in the process.

Using tech, the hotel sector is seeing the benefits of going paperless.

Encouraging (digital) word of mouth

Four years before Facebook launched, TripAdvisor was bringing user-generated content together to shape brand perception of hotels across the globe, putting hotels at the mercy of their customers’ opinions publicly, long before it affected other industries.

As a result, customer service became even more of a priority, as did encouraging loyalty and establishing a presence online. For businesses, particularly in the service industry, the role of social media and managing your digital presence is more important than ever.

Know your customers

The heart of hotels’ embracing of technology is to know more about their customers: What to sell them, when to sell to them, and how much they’re willing to pay. By using tech to improve the customer experience and streamline processes, they’re able to sell more to happier customers, without overinvesting in resources.

Serve your customers easier

with Telstra Small Business Tablets.

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