Digitisation: when was the last time you actually phoned to make a hotel reservation?
Most people probably couldn’t remember with greater than 60 percent of bookings taking place through some form of online medium, so if there was an industry impacted by digitisation, the hospitality industry would absolutely be one of them.
After spending a bit of time on the industry here at #LondonBusinessSchool, we note three huge trends impacting the market today; firstly, there are more and more online travel agencies, so direct sales for the hotel brands is becoming harder; secondly, people like to share experiences and are now influencing buying behaviour, and thirdly there is a need for a sharing economy where people are giving up their private spaces and renting them out much more easily on open platforms. All three trends are influencing how customers are making decisions on where and how they stay.
Putting the actual customer at the heart of it all. If we take a step back, digitisation isn’t just an accident, it’s driven by the customers themselves who don’t care about what a digitisation is, but focus on outcomes, those outcomes that provide more choice, prompt access to services, provide more personal choices, are more informed before they can make those choices, can easily switch providers when they want, and an experience that builds on emotional connections. Could these outcomes could be applied to other industries too? In the telecommunications world the answer would be ‘yes’ for sure.
Where is the hospitality industry on their digital journey? By digitising the front end through introducing mobile applications, the back end through platforms enabling customer data mining, improved online experiences via key word matches and adverts, some hospitality firms are now able to substantially influence how quickly they can directly acquire a new customer and keep those that want to return back.
The future could look different. Could the hotel firms go one step further and look for a superior customer experience through #digitisedbuildings? Could the hotel industry forge stronger relationships with services providers to enhance the in-building experiences? How would you feel if you could pre-book your parking slot when you left your home via an app? What would your experience be if you could book services to your room at your leisure rather than being woken up? What if you ran a hotel business and you wanted to only heat up/cool down part of the building that was actually being used? What if you wanted to measure EVERY customer interaction on your premises for every service you provided?
The market is still very much at the early stages of digitisation and there is plenty room for taking that customer experience to supreme levels when you the hospitality industry could implement digitisation strategies with every business it interacts with.
With that thought in mind, businesses should take on the ‘digital is here to stay’ mantra, be flexible and make bolder choices as the competitor landscape changes at this fast pace.
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