If you are in the hospitality industry, digitization is the way to move forward. Customers today are demanding. Their behavior has undergone tremendous change with the evolution of the digital world.
Customers are looking for customized experiences. They want to have all details about their accommodation, activities, nearby tourist attractions, special events, and so on before they make any bookings.
Having a digital persona in the form of a website or social media presence has become essential. In addition, to cater to a global audience, you need to be available 24/7.
Including IT in the hospitality industry can help attract, acquire, service, and retain customers in the long run. By working with a third-party service provider, you can let a skilled team handle technical issues and let employees focus on serving customers better.
Let us look at some challenges that plague the hospitality industry and how IT can help.
Top 6 IT Challenges in Hospitality Industry
If you want to offer customers a superior experience, understanding these concerns and having a plan in place to tackle them can help.
1. Digital Representation
Having a digital representation of your hotel is no longer a technique that will give you an edge in the market. Instead, it has become necessary if you want to survive as a hotel.
If you do have a website, it needs to be optimized for different devices like mobiles and tablets. Most people today browse, plan and book a vacation through their mobile. So, it would help if you made this process convenient.
You should be using Google AMPs to improve page visibility and drive traffic. Also, invest in advanced commerce platforms that will help you push deals and sell packages better.
If you do not have a website and profiles on social media pages, that is where you start. Ensure both aesthetics and functionality are taken care of.
2. Customer Relationship Management
Right from when customers engage with your digital profile, provide details, make bookings, and visit, they generate a lot of data. This data needs to be stored in a centralized location and analyzed to understand how you serve and retain customers.
You cannot have such data distributed across teams. This can lead to duplication or inconsistent records. In addition, you cannot reach out to customers based on incorrect data.
Investing in CRM software can help maintain a centralized guest profile. The software will get rid of data duplication, maintain a single source of truth, handle customer communications and loyalty programs and help design personalized packages and offers.
3. Smart Room Services
IoT technology can help customers personalize their rooms according to their preferences. For example, give customers the option of controlling their room’s temperature and lighting.
Services like WiFi and smart TVs have become essential features. However, if you want to take the experience to the next level, provide virtual assistants to manage the amenities in the room.
Using smart occupancy sensors, hotels can send menu notifications to customers and suggest options based on their previous orders. Some hotels have robots delivering room service. This shows that IT + hospitality can be a great way to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.
4. Contactless Travel
Governments may have eased restrictions around the world, and people may be more open to traveling. But, the pandemic has brought forth a new segment of contactless traveling.
The pandemic, shortage of labor, and rising customer expectations have led hotels to invest in self-service tools. For example, customers can now check-in and out of hotels with self-service kiosks.
There are services like digital concierges offered. This could be virtual chatbots or people working behind the scenes. Either way, hotels will have someone available to answer queries 24/7.
Then you have smart parking tools that can be accessed using the hotel’s mobile app. Depending on a customer’s check-in time and parking availability, they will be guided to an empty space, removing the need for a valet.
Investing in such IT + hotel tools can help employees focus on their core jobs. It also offers customers a different experience.
Cybersecurity is increasingly becoming a concern across the globe. The hospitality industry is no different.
Recently Marriot confirmed they had been the target of another data breach. Hackers are claiming to have stolen sensitive data like guest information.
This is not the first time the hotel has suffered a data breach. In 2018, the hotel chain was fined $24 million by the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK for a data breach that occurred in 2014 but went undetected until 2018.
The hotel has again hacked at the start of 2020, with hackers getting away with data for 5.2 million guests.
So, it is your responsibility to have secure IT infrastructure in place. If needed, partner with an MSP to ensure your hotel does not miss out on important updates and maintenance activities.
6. Emerging Trends
The hospitality industry is competitive, and the changing demands of customers add to the pressure. So now, you have hotels offering virtual tours of their properties to engage and drive customers to click on that ‘Book’ button.
Atlantis Dubai offers virtual reality tours highlighting the prominent features of their property. The whole travel planning and booking process are being revolutionized with game design elements.
Lufthansa offers an interactive world map with details like travel allowed, test and travel, and entry restricted. This can justifycustomers plan their trips better.
Hotels need to step up and have a digitization strategy in place if they aim to stay in the competition.
How Can MSPs Help the Hospitality Industry?
An MSP is a third-party IT service provider. They offer a range of services like outsource help desk, system and application maintenance, network monitoring, storage, and disaster recovery, among others.
If you need a team of skilled personnel available 24/7 to respond to employee and customer queries, an MSP can help. They can take care of routine system updates to protect your infrastructure against cybersecurity threats.
Maintenance activities ensure your system is available with minimal downtime. Network monitoring can detect threats and alert the right team or take action to safeguard your assets.
IT + hospitality trends are here to stay. Hotels have sure opened up to customers, but there has been a significant change in their planning, booking, and staying behavior.
Customers want to know well in-advance everything there is to know about your hotel. In addition, they expect personalized vacation plans and deals.
Explore the possibility of investing in IoT, self-service kiosks, and tools like a digital concierge.
Consider partnering with an MSP for your help desk needs. They can also keep your system up and running and protect your brand from cybersecurity concerns.