Commentary: Technology plays a vital role in the recovery of the hospitality and tourism sector in Scotland
In the hospitality and tourism sector, adoption of new technologies has been mixed. Two years after Scotland’s first lockdown was introduced, effectively shutting down the tourism industry, hoteliers are optimistic following an increase in guest numbers. Booking.com had one of its best months ever for bookings in February and at RoomRaccoon we also saw cancellations in Scotland down 200% in March compared to January this year.
However, the industry is still under pressure to return to pre-pandemic occupancy levels and increasingly smart technology will continue to play an important role in streamlining business processes for Scottish hotels. Hard times have catalyzed an era of digital disruption and it would be a mistake to think that this is a passing trend. The hospitality industry has taken significant steps to improve its systems over the past couple of years and the new and improved technology is here to stay.
Automating front desk tasks such as reservations, check-ins, payments, and special requests to front desk administration such as accounting, billing, ordering, and auditing can save time and money and ultimately giving business owners more time to improve the customer experience. Besides the financial reward, implementing cloud-based systems during the pandemic also meant hotel managers could manage operations remotely, striving to meet guest expectations as they arise. evolution.
Another major benefit of improved smart tools is that hoteliers can generate more revenue. For example, by implementing artificial intelligence software that can understand supply and demand at source, hoteliers can ensure they have a dynamic pricing strategy that accounts for fluctuating demand to maximize revenue per available room. By considering occupancy levels, past performance data, industry trends, and the likelihood of rooms selling out, performance management can ensure businesses generate the best possible rates across all sales channels.
For independent hotels in particular, access to automated technology plays an important role in ensuring that thousands of pounds of potential revenue are not lost.
Occupancy rates can also be increased through a tactical approach to upselling. Traditionally, the “room upsell” responsibility falls to hotel receptionists when a guest arrives for check-in. However, the problem is that at this point it is often too late. Reception is under pressure to reduce queues and guests want to get to their rooms as quickly as possible. By stimulating the upselling of room categories between booking and arrival through automated technology, hoteliers can significantly increase availability and inventory levels and therefore increase the chances of achieving full occupancy on a given day.
As the summer season approaches, domestic and international tourism is set to make a big comeback, with travelers looking to make up for lost time. In the era of digital transformation, it is no longer enough for hoteliers to rely on word of mouth to sell rooms. Increasing online visibility is the best way for hotels to improve the chances of getting full capacity at the best possible rates.
When it comes to online travel agents (OTAs), ensuring you reach a wide audience plays an important role in targeting a variety of travelers. A successful OTA profile with attractive images and well-managed reviews can go a long way in increasing a property’s attractiveness. But it’s becoming increasingly important that hoteliers can also craft a strategy that puts them at the forefront of online search to drive direct sales.
Many independent hotels still have an online sales strategy that relies solely on OTAs for sales and therefore have to pay big commissions. Developing a balance between distribution with OTAs and driving direct sales through digital marketing can help hoteliers get the best price for rooms and create a more meaningful direct relationship with guests. Tools like Google Hotel Ads can help properties reach a wider audience and are also often cheaper per conversion.
Along with an obvious change in the way visitors travel, customer expectations have also changed over the past two years. Guest-facing and in-room technology has played an important role in ensuring guests have access to the service and experience they need and want in an ever-changing landscape. From interactive online check-in to in-room chatbots, once “nice-to-have” technology is now having a major impact on hotel service levels, relieving the strain on receptions during busy check-in periods.
It’s no secret that the way we store and use data, across industries, is also changing at a rapid pace. Understanding the data hotels have can have a huge impact on decision-making and improve the guest experience. For example, the digitization of customer profiles and feedback means marketing can be more targeted, experiences can be personalized, and upsell opportunities can be exploited before it’s too late.
The way technology is being integrated into the hospitality industry has certainly accelerated over the past couple of years. Early adopters will be better equipped to attract more customers at better rates. Technology will only advance and in times of economic uncertainty, it is essential that hoteliers grasp the tools at their disposal.
– Steven Reffin, UK Account Manager at RoomRaccoon UK
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