Given the turbulence that the hospitality sector has experienced over the last several years, it’s not surprising that so many hotel chains have had to reexamine every facet of their business in order to increase operational effectiveness and strengthen their brands. The challenges facing the hotel industry have shaped the new reality chains are operating in, and forced organizations to find new tools.

Technology is playing an increasingly vital role in shaping the entire guest experience, from booking to checkout. Not only have guests reached a critical phase in the way that they locate and interact with travel services online, but every class of customer is now demanding even more in terms of data access and tech-related amenities. Behind the scenes, implementing cost-saving technology has been just as transformational. These changes are forcing chains to make specific investments as requirements for being noticed.

Websites that Engage Users

Guests are looking for your website to be a digital portal to the hotel itself, not just an online booking service. They want to be able to explore their room, hotel amenities and even that the surrounding area has to offer, all through your website. That means multimedia assets, photos, videos and even digital partnerships with vendors that many chains haven’t even begun to develop yet.

Guests also want clear rate details, which many hotels are loathe to provide without certain gate-keeping features in place. But if a potential customer can’t get information on booking rates for their chosen date range, and for a dynamic array of services and amenities, they’ll likely abandon your site in favor of one that gives them the data they want.

Hospitality’s growth in emerging markets has also proved challenging online, and many websites are lagging behind when it comes to serving non-English-speaking clients, providing region-specific sites and websites for the growing mobile market. All of these need to be addressed to avoid hurting a company’s brand value.

Hospitality and Tourism Management Systems

Every area of hotel activity, from the brochures to the turn-down service is now being evaluated for its effect on customer experience, and therefore brand perception. That emphasis has put more pressure on driving a top-down standardization of the guest experience in every operational process, regardless of location or staffing level. Managers are hungry for tools that will deliver ways to implement these new expectations.

An effective hospitality management system is now a requirement for entry to the industry, not just a cost-reduction measure. Software that allows for easy automation helps set up a framework for implementing Western style management systems and operations in new markets where culture and language can be a challenge to expansion.

Digitization of previously paper-based processes provides asset tracking and inventory management tools that let managers plan ahead with preventative maintenance schedules and materials ordering. The reduction in corrective repairs and inventory fluctuations introduces cost savings in every operations area. And the reporting features that robust facilities management solutions provide help ease compliance and accounting burdens.

Robust Internet Service

Internet access has long been a prerequisite for high-end frequent travelers, but it’s now increasingly a necessity for all travelers. Their data-hungry devices are straining hotels’ bandwidth capacity, introducing new costs that most customers will be unwilling to shoulder in the cost of their accommodations. Protecting those systems from hackers, and keeping them separate from networks used by personnel for hotel business, is something that should be of concern as well.

These investments in technology aren’t just bonus features that chains should be looking to offer their clients; they’re requirements to compete in an industry that has been hardened and refined by a massive global recession and globalization. These investments, and others, are the foundation for success in 2013.

Author bio: Derek Smith is a marketing manager and writer for ManagerPlus, an asset management software company that specializes in serving the hospitality industry. When he isn’t writing about emerging technology and industry trends, you can find Derek impatiently riding a ski lift.

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