Peter O’Connor, Ph.D. is Professor of Information Systems at ESSEC Business School, where he also serves as Director of the Global MBA and the MBA in Hospitality Management.
With the hotel sector in a state of turmoil, how and where we sell to the customer is quickly evolving. Competition is increasing from OTAs, sharing economy players like Airbnb, and larger, more marketing-savvy hotel brands. Technology is evolving at blinding speeds and consumer expectations are shifting in new, unforeseen directions.
Such dramatic change makes it challenging to understand what is happening within the hotel distribution and online marketing environment. Many hoteliers are struggling to keep pace, and to assess the implications of the latest developments in distribution, marketing and operations.
To help address this issue, Revinate, SiteMinder and ESSEC decided to host a visioning session with industry practitioners during the 2015 World Travel Market in London. The goals of this session were to assess the current state of hotel distribution and online marketing; forecast future trends; as well as assess how the sector might develop in the short term.
By tapping into the wisdom of the crowd, we were able to identify the key distribution and online marketing challenges faced by hoteliers today. We also established the relative importance of each issue so as to be able to identify which should receive the most urgent attention from the industry as a whole.
The study yielded findings in 5 key areas:
1. Focus on the guest experience
2. Integrate technology systems
3. Improve data collection and security
4. Modernise team organisation and management
5. Drive urgency
Overall, as can be seen from the document, a wide variety of very different issues were identified during this year’s visioning session with industry practitioners.
What is quite remarkable is the level of interconnection between those identified. Even though working independently in subgroups, each came up with not just similar ideas, but themes and concepts that are indisputably intertwined with each other.
For example hotels simply cannot collect and leverage increased guest data to improve customer service and online marketing efforts until these issues around personal identifiable information (PII) standards, system integration, team organisation and managers’ mindsets are addressed.
Similarly, the challenge of system integration cannot be attacked until rules about PII are clear and questions about how the hotel organisation of the future will be structured are addressed.
Sometimes it seems like “Catch 22” – nothing can move until all of the other pieces on the board fall into place.
But make progress we must!
If hotels are to survive in today’s highly competitive online travel marketplace, then we need to significantly up our game, better manage our distribution and online marketing, and fight more intensely for the customer.
To succeed we must establish our own destiny by adequately addressing many of the issues identified in this study. Once these issues are resolved, we can take back control over our property’s distribution and online marketing and ensure the hotel’s future.
Complacency is simply not an option!
Read the full whitepaper here: SiteMinder Resources