Technology takes control: a review of the hotel industry 2016

Guest spending in UK hotels has increased by a third* this year as hotels of all sizes have found clever new ways to engage with new and existing customers.

Even with the growing popularity of AirBnB and financial uncertainty following the Brexit vote, 2016 has seen an exceptionally strong travel market.

This has led to record hotel trading and double digit revenue per available room (RevPAR) growth across many European cities, according to PwC.

Key to this growth has been the increased use of technology across all aspects of hospitality. Technology has been used to provide guests with a more luxurious and responsive stay, justifying higher room charges, but has also driven down costs and increased efficiency creating an opportunity for stronger growth.

Here are four ways technology has impacted the market in 2016. 

Guest engagement

Maintaining open and friendly communications with your guests is vital. The past year has seen an increase in guest communications and email marketing from hotels keen to build brand loyalty.

Email makes it easy to stay in touch but it can be difficult for busy hotel staff to find the time to draft and send regular updates out to guests. That is why our property management system (PMS) Hotel Executive’s guest engagement module has proven so popular.

In 2016 we launched a new improved version of guest engagement after listening to extensive feedback from our many customers. Branded automatic emails can be sent before and after a booking, which can be tailored to create a personal touch.

Guests demand more

TripAdvisor highlighted an increase not only in customer spend but also customer demand in 2016. Value for money is still the buzzword, particularly those booking a hotel for the first time – in comparison to repeat business thus underlining the importance of brand loyalty.  

The travel review site suggested that 46% of guests would not stay in a hotel that lacks Wi-Fi, classing it as an essential amenity when deciding where to book.

So with WiFi now considered a minimum requirement, to impress, hotels must provide added value services and offers that boost guests’ connectivity and access to online entertainment even further.

Some hotels have even taken the step of providing guests with in-room smart phones and tablets.

Front-house flexibility

A growing number of hotels are making use of technology in their check-in process, meaning they can offer guests more flexibility.

Guests no longer accept an extended wait to check in or out as they want to maximise the time during their stay. Hotels then have a choice; increase front of house staff, which is costly and inefficient or automate the process for a more flexible front-house experience.

Our easy to use hotel front desk software makes it quick and easy to stay up to date and provide guests with a fantastically smooth service. It gives front desk staff all the information they need, at their fingertips, making it easy for them to make reservations, manage room accounts, and welcome guests efficiently.

Putting the best out front

An increase in the National Living Wage and an ongoing industry-wide skills shortage has come together in 2016 to give hoteliers a workforce headache. Hotels can’t afford for good staff to remain trapped in the back office rather than focusing their efforts on ensuring the guests have a wonderful stay. But neither can they afford for tasks such as payments, deposits, billing, and accounts to be left.

Our Hotel Executive system allows our clients to take full control of back office tasks, storing and providing all important detail, with a complete historical record that can be accessed quickly. It provides numerous reports for an overview of how the business is performing at every level, enabling staff to focus on adding value to guests.

Get ahead for 2017

So, if 2016 was the year for tech-savvy hotels to get ahead, 2017 is likely to build on this trend as more people choose to get connected whilst they take a break.

Don’t get left behind, make sure your hotel is supported by systems that will enable it to flourish!