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Op-Ed: Why now is the time for hoteliers to embrace tech

The economic rebound of the past few months has been a welcome surprise for many.

For the Australian economy, the latter half of 2020 broke records, with GDP growing more than 3 percent in two consecutive quarters — the first time this has happened in more than 60 years. With other countries also starting to see their fortunes rise, during the next six to 12 months the tourism industry has a huge opportunity to recoup the losses experienced during 2020.

Already we’re seeing the return of international travel edge closer, with the CEO of Flight Centre envisioning a vaccine powered restoration of flights by late June of this year and closer to home, the Australian government pledging to offer reduced air fares for internal flights.

For hoteliers and accommodation providers — a group that was among the hardest hit during the pandemic — the return of travellers means there is a vast opportunity for them to re-establish themselves as must-stay destinations.

Although there’s no silver bullet to guarantee success in the next year or so, one way the industry can set itself up for future growth is via the smart use of technology. This can come in many forms, but essentially technology has the ability to improve pretty much every area of a hotel operation by making things slicker and more efficient.

But where to start? Well let’s break it down into some key areas.

Firstly, you need to make sure that your staff are fully on-board, as they’ll be the ones using the technology day-to-day. The advice here is to focus on the end-goal, outline how the technology will help them and hopefully make their lives a little easier. Also ensure to put in place processes so that you can easily train new staff to use the technology that you have in place. Similar to other tech providers, Preno provides free training for all new staff using our tools.

In terms of the technology itself. Identify the areas where you feel your operation needs assistance and choose the right tools for the job. For example, promotion and marketing is a key driver of interest for any business and tech can help here.

It may be getting a bad rap recently, but Google is most definitely your ally. To increase your hotel’s search rankings on Google, so potential guests can find you easier, you need to boost your SEO. This can be done by ensuring your website contains the right keywords and information for Google to scour and evaluate. Where you can, also make use of backlinks by getting your partners or other websites to link back to your homepage. This will also push your hotel up the rankings. 

Linked to your search engine strategy, you also need to be making full use of social media. From Facebook, to Instagram and even TikTok — all social platforms have their worth and can be valuable when promoting your hotel, both among potential guests and previous guests. Consider the existing content about your hotel you can share across these social platforms and perhaps also encourage guests to share their own content during their stay while ensuring to tag your pages or accounts. It will all help to build up your hotel’s online presence and give onlookers a glimpse into what you offer.

Beyond promoting your hotel, the tech you use behind the scenes is also highly important. Automate where you can. Technology can be used to automate repetitive yet laborious tasks such as checking-in arrivals or updating guests. The time saved completing admin, will allow yourself and staff to focus on providing better service where a personal touch is required, such as advising guests on the best local restaurants or bars.

When selecting software, consider making it something cloud-based. In simple terms, this will mean something you can use online without necessarily having to install large cumbersome programs or apps. The benefits of going cloud-based include having everything in one place. There is no paper or no physical on site hard drives. This means wherever you are, all your information is secure yet accessible.

Lastly, if you are using technology to run the business, make the most of it by collecting and analysing all the data you’ll be no doubt collecting. The performance of your business will vary through time. Industry trends transform, customer demands shift, and product and service expectations change. But, by accurately tracking and analysing these changes, you and your team can draw insights to help refine future approaches.

The travel industry has been through hell and the back in the past 12 months, however, there is now a solid opportunity for the industry to rebuild and rebound stronger. By investing in the latest technology that is aligned to your operation’s goals, you could possibly make the next 12 months the best your business has ever seen.

Amelia Gain

Amelia Gain is CEO and co-founder of hotel management platform, Preno. She started in tech, before operating a world-leading hotel. During this time running a hotel, she became passionate about hotel operations and the guest experience but noticed the amount of manual work that was involved. This led her to the concept of Preno, which is a core tool for hotel operators with a mission to make their lives easier, so they can focus on what’s most important: the guest experience.

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