Vijay Choudhary, GM-IT, HRH Group of Hotels
Hospitality industry is purely a guest facing industry. The role of the CIO and his tech team is to face the tech aspirations of various stakeholders’ - from customer / guest to the Board / Successor. Business acumen is required to be developed by the IT department for developing the business skills to handle people-processes.
Today, it has become necessary for the Hotel Industry to imbibe the latest technologies which assist them in controlling the costs. No restaurant or hotel owner, in today's environment, can afford to ignore technology.
This system synergizes the various levels of hotel operations and creates a profit-rendering business model. This model leads to cost-effectiveness and a changed working atmosphere. Moreover, this needs to be done, regardless of the size of the entity - from a small, low-end standalone restaurant to a high-end, five to seven-star luxury hotel. Today, the use of technology offers range of solutions for effective cost control at operational, financial and strategic level, which can affect the P&L significantly. Studies at various level shows that if CFO and CIO work together on aspects of cost control, they can yield a definite ROI.
Revenue is the ultimate business aspect for everybody in an organization; from the board of directors to the stakeholder. In hospitality industry, revenue optimization is greatly enabled by technology. There have been several case studies published on the success of revenue management techniques. A major trend happening in the hotel technology right now is, the use of social media data and customer review analytics in optimizing distribution and maximizing revenue growth.
Community management and engagement on social networks is important. However, when it comes to leveraging the social web to increase revenue in a measurable way, tapping the power of effective revenue strategy would indeed result in measurable ROI.
If the hotels are not using technology, like online customer review analytics and trend reports, as part of their revenue management program, they are leaving the money on the table.
The big question is: How well are these technologies used?
Business Agility, Strategy, and Customer Delight
With today’s uncertain economic climate and the proliferation of the new and emerging technologies, such as social and mobile computing, landscapes are changing swiftly. Today’s strategic thinkers are preparing their businesses for this, by placing business agility at the heart of strategic planning. An agile organization is the one that can maintain or achieve faster revenue growth in this unpredictable environment, scale resources according to the demand and respond effectively to the changes.
The hotel industry has traditionally managed the IT applications and network infrastructure, locally on the property, which led to higher costs associated with having local resources on premises. However, now, many hotels have realized the need for greater operational efficiency and effective Virtualization seems to be the solution.
Other Aspects of the Hospitality Business (employee, partners, security, risk management, succession)
In today's world of 24/7 information access via smart phones and tablets, the next generation of hotel guests expects instant gratification and craves constant connection to the information and services they seek. According to Forrester, online and mobile consumption, as a whole, rose from 29 percent to 40 percent between 2009 and 2013. This has significantly impacted the hospitality industry as hoteliers are facing the challenge of keeping pace with ever-increasing service expectations from the guests through a growing number of outlets. In order to meet these expectations, hospitality organizations are examining the internal processes and looking for new technology platforms to boost the efficiency and speed service to the guests. While the impact of using social media externally is well recognized, the use of social collaboration tools for employee¬ to¬ employee communication is often overlooked. However, this has the potential to be equally, if not more, beneficial for the hoteliers. Hospitality companies should focus the efforts not only on building a social presence externally, but on improving internal productivity and guest services through the latest social platforms for business applications.
Safe-lodging and reputation of the hotel are critical, if not paramount, to ensure success for a single property, hotel or hotel chain. These entities must properly provide for the protection and maintenance of assets. This includes protecting human, physical and intangible assets. A hotel reputation and conduct of business is based on the protection that is offered to the guests, employees, contractors, visitors, physical structure of the premises and all that is contained therein and pertinent to the property. In this era of technology, various options are available to enable security by paramount use of technology in each area of hotel operations. The alignment and understanding team-work between CSO (Chief Security Officer) and CIO (Chief Information officer) is paramount.