Hospitality in the Cloud

The Future of SaaS Trends in the Industry

By Bernard Ellis President & Founder, Lodgital Insights LLC | July 05, 2015

According to Gartner's Top 10 Strategic Technology Predictions for 2015 and Beyond, "By the end of 2017, 70 percent of successful digital business models will rely on deliberately unstable processes designed to shift as customer needs shift." This ability to adapt with the consumer is directly applicable to the hospitality industry, as meeting the ever-changing expectations of guests is essential to profitability. When considering which technology options can have the greatest impact on dexterity and flexibility, cloud computing should certainly be top-of-mind.

As more hotel and casino operators have familiarized themselves with the potential benefits of Software as a Service (SaaS), momentum behind the cloud is here to stay. Hospitality organizations have moved past previously associated concerns with the cloud, and it has now become a fixture and regularly selected path for IT in the industry. This progression has brought about several new cloud-related trends, all centered around achieving business goals such as increased revenue, enhanced guest services and improved operational efficiency.

Impact on Limited Service Hotels

Limited service hotel brands are a vital part of the hospitality market, typically offering room rates that appeal to budget-savvy travelers. However, because they do not have as many ancillary revenue streams as full service hotels, decision-makers are often unable to allocate sizeable funds for IT to match their larger counterparts. In the past, this has created difficulty for these properties in remaining up-to-date on business systems and potentially hindered them from capitalizing on the latest innovations.

Fortunately, the cloud provides an opportunity to change this. Many national or global organizations are choosing to invest in SaaS to provide their limited service brands with access to technology that may otherwise be beyond their reach. When the parent company evaluates potential applications, selects the vendor and equips its brands with the necessary tools to execute the project, these hoteliers are positioned to reap a multitude of benefits, both immediately and in the long-term.

Advantages from moving back-end systems to the cloud center primarily on day-to-day operations

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.