Early signs of change may often appear insignificant, yet the speed of change can often pick up momentum rather quickly. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for a long-simmering change in the hospitality industry. Hoteliers now need to rethink what their product is, or can be in the future, and how they approach content and product creation, distribution and fulfilment.
What were the big changes within the last year? What role will technology play in the future?
These are great questions, and I had the pleasure of discussing them with Stefan Leser, CEO of Langham Hospitality Group at ITB last month.
To begin answering those questions, let us explore these fundamental questions first: How has guest demand changed during the pandemic? How will demands change after COVID-19 or in the long term? What role do guest experiences play? What experiences will guests seek?
Stefan addressed these questions perfectly well: “The travel restrictions put in place over the past year have meant that the world has become more ‘local,’ and, as such, hospitality businesses have had to rethink who their guests could be, the kind of experiences they want and how best to deliver them. With a lack of international travel, there has been a need to leverage the ‘staycation’ trend and therefore attract a new segment of guests. Hoteliers have had to reposition based on their knowledge of these new clients to ensure that they are meeting expectations and capturing the business.”
As an example, whereas hotels in the Langham Hospitality Group typically serve as a kind of springboard to explore cities or local attractions, domestic clients are looking more for what the hotel itself provides. Therefore, hoteliers have had to adjust by offering an array of local experiences, helping establish the hotel as a community hub. Technology is key to capturing this value proposition to meet customers’ expectations and enable increased consumption.
From a tech perspective, with all of the complexities and challenges of the current travel ecosystem, hoteliers around the world are looking for end-to-end tech solutions that remove complexities and help maximize the opportunities available. Advances in open source technology and open APIs allow hoteliers to work in smart, flexible and agile ways, while automation capabilities and platform solutions capture and support guests’ needs. These solutions allow better integration, easier distribution and reduced costs while increasing consumption and revenue.
We have known that providing consumers with personalized offers translates to more purchases, so Sabre is innovating technology to help hoteliers retail and fulfill personalized packages. In addition to greater top-line revenue, Sabre Hospitality’s intelligent retailing approach yields other positive outcomes, including higher guest satisfaction and retention, as well as strategic differentiation from competitors. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence help deliver highly relevant and personalized content that meets the demands of today’s traveler, creating expanded revenue and margin growth opportunities. That’s why Sabre is partnering with Google to develop a radically modern way to help power the future of personalized travel.
Sabre Travel AI is a first of its kind technology for the travel industry, capitalising on state-of-the art AI technology and advanced machine learning capabilities that sense, analyse and predict consumer behaviours – all fuelled by real-time marketplace data insights and sophisticated, travel-specific knowledge. This technology is expected to be integrated into the Sabre Hospitality Solution’s SynXis platform in the first half of 2021.
When business is going well, it is not common to change course and embark on a journey of transformation for future profits. Motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic, however, hotels are now in a prime position to open many new revenue streams, increase loyalty and appeal to a wider segment of guests – building resilience in times of recession and bolstering performance in periods of growth.