Navigating New Hotel Technologies

By Melissa Maher Senior Vice President - Global Partner Group, Expedia, Inc | August 05, 2018

There have been many technology advancements over the years, and there is no end in sight as pace of technology development, and its impact on the industry, will only increase. How can hotels seamlessly test and integrate new technologies while also weathering uncertainty and addressing changing customer expectations? Hotels need technology partners that can help them navigate the change, innovation and evolution that is inevitable, so they can focus on what matters: customer experience and customer acquisition goals.

Trends impacting the hospitality industry can fluctuate, but some things remain constant: the rise of operating costs, increased competition, the pressure on RevPAR growth, and changing customer expectations. This is where technology solutions can play a key role and give hotels, regardless of size, a competitive advantage.

Value in a Technology Partner and Single Platform

Hotels have historically been skeptical of technology, and in turn, how they view technology providers, though there's been a shift in that sentiment as hotels are increasingly welcoming these conversations to better understand how technology can help them. A technology partner that strategically focuses on the needs of evolving businesses can help solve for any challenges they may face and surface opportunities to help them reach their goals.

When evaluating a new technology platform, it's important to have a provider that is a true technology partner, listening to your hotel's needs while leveraging world class technology to power your hotel's performance. That is how Expedia Powered Technology was created and the premise that it continues to operate on. Our technology offerings all started as test and learns with lodging partners to address their specific needs and pain points. From white label offerings to revenue management tools to guest review insights, there are opportunities across all areas of operations, and all stages of the travel journey, to streamline and drive efficiencies, which should be the number one focus of your technology partners.

At Expedia Group, this is our number one focus. Every day we put our strengths as a technology provider to work for our lodging partners, helping them drive incremental revenue and acquire new customers. To do this, we have evolved from a distribution platform to a technology platform to best provide our lodging partners with data-driven and tested technology solutions. The depth of our technology testing and innovation, and strength of our single platform, allows us to constantly evolve our tools and services on behalf of our lodging partners and travelers, to address their business needs and changing traveler expectations.

Technology Innovation and Investment

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.