After working more than 14 years in the hospitality industry today I can say that one of the great challenges hotels are facing, is how to exploit technology to facilitate the management of their properties, unraveling the lack of connectivity between the different “systems” that they have implemented so that it becomes a better experience for customers and at the same time have an impact on costs.
The application of digital tools and capabilities to the processes, to seek an improvement in efficiency, can be understood as digital transformation. This may sound very complex or distant to an activity such as the hotel industry, but the truth is it´s not. In fact, the most important thing is that it can help improve customer value, discover new opportunities to generate revenue, and reduce costs.
I have noticed that in the hospitality industry, one of the major problems present in most properties, regardless of size or budget, is that there is a total separation between IT, Sales, Reservations, and Marketing. The biggest problem here is because there’s usually no shared participation between all these departments in the decision-making process for the acquisition of commercial management software and/or technology.
Moreover, we can put it in simpler words. Suppose that either General Management, Financial Management or the person in charge of IT, starts looking for a property management “system” , but in this process they do not take into account the difficulties that reservations executives face, or how to manage the needs that sales have in negotiating contracts with agencies, and even less, how to integrate marketing efforts to generate a traceability of campaigns.
Before continuing with some details that I am sure you will feel totally identified, we will return to mention the concept of Digital Transformation and from there, I hope to make you visualize how this ethereal concept can help you achieve the most important for any business, which As one ex-chief of mine said, "in a business any action that is done must make the cash register sound."
Is the adoption of new technologies in the different areas of the company, seeking to change the way processes are carried out and thereby give greater value to customers. This also means a change in the culture of organizations because it proposes to challenge, experiment, and expose themselves to failure, by the implementation of new ways of doing things.
One of the fundamental factors for digital transformation is the process architecture. Fernando Solano, Senior Consultant expert in process mapping, defines it as: “The set of interrelated functional activities, executed in a specific sequence by the different managers identified within the main activities or support in the value chain of the company in order to achieve customer satisfaction, the idea is to have a direct impact on the experience of guests”.
Carrying out a process architecture will allow you to identify which path to follow since there is no single application or technology that allows digital transformation but there are multiple key elements to address it:
- Technology development
- Mobile or responsive platforms (NOT apps)
- Process automation
Let's develop these concepts:
The cloud is a method for managing IT resources which allows replacing the installation of local software, networks, local servers, with online data storage through a remote provider, granting the organizations quick access to the software they need, new features, and something very important: updates. The cloud also gives the versatility of being able to access the information from any part of the world.
- The technology development: To print the digital transformation in the company´s DNA allows you to focus on investment of resources, research, processes of the organization, and development of solutions that we could say are “customized” since they are developed according to the specific requirements.
- The mobile or responsive platforms (NOT apps): Cloud and technology allow the development and implementation of mobile platforms, which are available through online servers, allowing the work to be done whenever and wherever. At the same time, platforms also offer the advantage that these can be configured as responsive, which allows access from any type of device. It is possible to make the recommendation not to spend on the development of an app. There are recent studies where it was established that mobile users allocate on average 96% of their time among the 10apps of most everyday use.
- Process automation: is the integration of technological tools and software that seek to replace manual processes, which reduces errors, improves response times, monitoring, among others, this translates for companies in satisfied customers and cost reduction.
Now tell me if not but, the main problem that usually occurs in hotels, when they try to carry out a digital transformation, is that IT are the ones who assume the transformation, leaving out the people in charge of commercial management. This is a problem because IT speaks in terms of:
While we, the ones in business management, think of:
This can be a bit overwhelming, but I must say that it can actually be solved in a simple way, first it is important to keep in mind that the process must be led by Sales, Marketing, and Reservations, but the key to simplifying this and implementing it, is the omnichannel of the information. This is basically the integration of all channels and systems into one. In other words, it means the development of a cloud platform that integrates all areas and departments of the hotel.
We must bear in mind the key benefits that these efforts will generate, which are:
- Time saving.
- Higher productivity.
By automating and systematizing processes and data management, time is saved. Additionally, it helps to improve productivity because it allows to remove the burden of repetitive tasks, giving employees more time to focus on generating value by working more closely with the clients.