Recently, our Chief Revenue Officer, Maarten Plesman, sat down with Daniel Zelling from techtalk.travel and Hospitality Industry Club to discuss the future of technology in the hospitality space. Below, we’re sharing some of the key highlights from the conversation.
Daniel: What is your advice to the hotelier operating with all this technology and solutions? How do you effectively integrate it?
Maarten: Hoteliers are so busy that sometimes they overlook the end state. What’s the bigger picture? As a hotel, you need to reach guests and make sure they find you, then convert them, serve them, and hopefully encourage them to come back.
With that in mind, all these decisions you make fall somewhere along that continuum, and I’m finding that people get confused about those things. For example, as an independent hotel in Amsterdam or Germany, you’re unlikely to beat Booking.com in reaching travelers from Brazil. There’s a game, and conversion is another interesting game. Everyone who ends up on your website has been able to find you, and it’s a different game at stake.
As a hotelier, you have to ask, “What do I think my capabilities are? What am I able to develop on my own versus asking someone else to do it?” You have OTAs, agencies, technology providers, your own people, consultants. You have components you can mix and match. A smart hotelier can look at that in a bit of an unemotional way. What gets me excited is that, in the end, whether they choose a voice platform or a chatbot or a new PMS or something that we sell like a CRM and email marketing platform, the end state is that you have a total cost. And the total cost is:
- A) What does the actual product or technology cost?
- B) How productive are my people using this platform? That is a critical factor. Is it easy to use? Are your employees trained well? Employees in hotels sometimes have up to 30 different technologies they have to log into. There’s a cost in training your staff.
- C) Does the solution you chose get it right? Does it solve the problem? That is by far the biggest part of the whole equation. If you don’t get it right, then you’ve just lost the money you’ve invested, you’ve trained the people so you’ve lost time, and you still didn’t solve the problem so now you’re actually further away from where you want to be.
I believe only 10% of the total cost in the end is the solution itself. Probably another 20-30% is the people, and then 60-70% is “Did you get it right?” Getting it right is so important. Don’t shy away from intensive discussions with vendors if they get it right.
Daniel: In terms of industry evolution, you’ve mentioned chatbots and voice search and blockchain coming up. It’s almost overwhelming what’s happening out there. Seeing all the things happening in our industry and globally as well, how do you see the industry evolving over the next two, three, four years?
Maarten: That’s a very wide, open question. First of all, I look at the overall industry structure. In the old days, OTAs brought traffic, bookings, and a certain level of occupancy.
But these days, it’s a little more blurry. For example, an independent hotel who has a really smart hotelier can combine various OTAs and other marketing platforms, or a mid-market sized management operator could couple their independent hotels and manage it as a group. I believe you’ll see this kind of industry pulling apart a little bit more. The brands are going to play their scale card a little bit more, the middle segment will turn to technology innovation and differentiation a little more, and independents will be left with a choice. Their choice is, do I join a brand, do I partner with someone who can bring me the intelligent technology innovation, or do I just basically say, “OTAs, will you fill my rooms?”
That’s what I see happening. Now if you think about how that’s going to play out, the innovation that you’re going to see from the large groups center largely around cost-savings and scalable solutions. In the middle segment, I think you’ll see some different solutions. Like hey, how can we be smarter? It’s not only about scale. It’s about smarter solutions, smarter ways to serve the guests, smarter ways to come to intelligence about how to create the right experience and differentiate. So, I think you’ll see some different paths.
Daniel: How do you see Revinate evolving further in the next two, three, four years?
Maarten: We talked about augmented service where you pair your day-to-day observations as a hotelier with machine-driven intelligence for better knowledge of your guests. I think we’re going to continue down that path. We’re here to help hoteliers, ultimately. We’re not here to help necessarily the large brands nor the OTAs — we’re going to help the hoteliers. I think you’ll see Revinate investing even more deeply into getting it right.
Our solutions will prove to be just right for hotelier use cases. We will be the best at what we do. Now that we have reputation and surveys and this concept of CRM and email marketing, the next natural extension is the world of conversion and reaching more people, but that’s down the line.
In the middle phase, we’re going to be solving this problem of “How do you know how to create the right experience for your guests?” A guest needs to move away from doing admin stuff at the front desk and instead have a great experience. A hotelier needs to move away from admin to insights. I need to know who you are, what you’re thinking, what you’re keen on. And so, if we do our job right, you’re going to see solutions that basically allow guests to just experience and hotels to just serve guests better. That’s the evolution you will see from us.
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