The past five years have seen a boom in the adoption of technology by hoteliers to support their businesses. Property Management Systems (PMS), guest relationship tech, marketing software, revenue and / or distribution management systems all help optimise the business, but true digital transformation requires a fundamental organisational shift. So what is it all about?
What is digital transformation?
Anyone who’s been around the hospitality industry will have witnessed some big changes to the way hotels operate, particularly since 2015/16. Whether you work in a hotel or you’re a consultant to the sector, you’ll have seen an influx of tech hardware and software solutions that help drive efficiency and profitability.
But today ‘digital transformation’ is a broader concept than simply investing in more IT and ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) interconnectivity. Fundamentally it’s a new way of thinking about the business that requires leadership to set specific goals and then steer the organisation towards a shifted mindset. Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination, and it runs right through company culture and operations.
How does it help?
A decision to undergo a digital transformation shouldn’t be taken lightly – it might even be something you hand to a consultancy – but if clearly targeted as part of the company strategy, it’s about using technology to leverage the organisation’s assets to drive functionality and growth. Any hotel business that isn’t working towards this, risks being left behind its competitors.
Done well, the transformation will impact people and processes to enhance business performance and deliver greater value to customers. This demands strong leadership to drive the change management process, and clear internal communications to reassure employees and take them with you on the journey. Training will undoubtedly be a key component.
At the end there should be a new way of running the business that - depending on the initial goals - reduces overheads, improves employee retention, strengthens customer engagement or increases revenue.
What does it mean for hotels and their consultants?
Digital transformation can be a really powerful way for hotels to level up their business. The key is to set the specific goal you want to achieve from the process. Do you want to drive your customer engagement and website traffic? If so you might need an integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool and Content Management System (CMS).
Do you want to drive your revenue through improved rate and distribution management? Is your motivation reduced costs with an upgrade in room offer and service quality? In this scenario a comprehensive cloud-based PMS like Oracle’s Opera is worth investigating.
Solutions like these are often extremely powerful, offering features like mobile adaptability that releases staff from the reception desk to serve guests anywhere in the hotel and supports customer messaging to enhance the guest experience. They can reduce mistakes, speed-up operations and improve guest ratings.
To my mind, whether you’re a GM or a hotel partner offering consultancy or other services, the industry’s widespread undertaking of digital transformation should be firmly on your radar. You need to be well versed in its intent, its delivery, application and impact.
In my experience, the best partners add unique value to their relationships. For example, Oracle has actively contributed to its OPERA Cloud PMS clients’ progress down the digital transformation path in three ways:
- The Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform (OHIP) allows partners and vendors to connect to OPERA Cloud PMS, giving them unimpeded access to the data and functionality within it, for faster product development. OHIP represents a reinvention of Oracle’s integration model, literally “changing the way the game is played” with its open architecture.
- In the past, partners couldn’t begin an integration without engaging Oracle Consulting for guidance. But with OHIP, every integration is now a self-service experience. Users simply register for OHIP and they can immediately take advantage of every functionality without assistance, because of the platform’s intuitive design. Another distinctive OHIP benefit is its creation of two-way integrations, meaning data can be “pushed” as well as “pulled,” leading to near real-time access to information.
- All Oracle Hospitality Integration Partners are given access to Oracle Hospitality Innovation Week 2021, a series of live and on-demand digital events - where yours truly will join a live panel discussion this week.
Attendees will explore the best ideas for future hospitality solutions and discover pathways to make them a reality. In my segment, I will discuss Fornova’s role in facilitating and expediting digital transformation: through OHIP, we are in the process of integrating OPERA Cloud PMS with FornovaHBI, our Hotel Business Intelligence suite, so we can bring hospitality BI data to the people.
In a post-Covid world, how can digital transformation give you a competitive edge?
Market share is going to be critical for hotels battling for high occupancy as travellers begin to return. Pressure will be on Revenue Managers to optimize their rates and distribution. To support this, we’ve developed a suite of solutions like our Revenue Intelligence (RI) analytics dashboard and our Distribution Intelligence (DI) data platform, which helps hotels easily check their performance and visibility across the market.
But these alone don’t represent a step-change for hotels seeking to digitally transform their business. For this, Revenue Managers and hotel partners need a more holistic approach to data analysis so they can gather true business intelligence across all channels, seeing real-time rates in different points of sale. Combining a Competitive Intelligence solution with RI, offers Revenue Managers really powerful, actionable insights that can shape their pricing strategy and rate decisions based on robust data.
These two solutions combined represent the most comprehensive global data set in travel and hospitality and should be top of the list for anyone looking at a digital transformation strategy. Hotel partners and Revenue Management consultants need to be recommending solutions like this and supporting hotels to empower their businesses. Our Partner Program could be just what you’re looking for.