Innovation is not just a trendy term.

NB: This is an article from Cloudbeds, one of our Expert Partners

For today’s lodging properties, innovating through technology is key to balancing operational challenges, such as labor shortages, and meeting modern guest expectations, like contactless services. But where should properties invest?

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These are the top 5 technology investments independent properties plan to add or upgrade in the next two years, according to our 2023 State of Independent Lodging Report.

1. Guest engagement

Independent properties are prioritizing guest engagement technology as their top technological investment. Even though travelers are more price sensitive, they expect an exceptional travel experience and top-notch service from properties of any type or size.

Using a guest engagement solution, you can enhance service by providing faster responses, tailoring experiences to specific interests, and empowering your staff to do more. Through guest relationship technology, your team will learn more about guests’ profiles, providing valuable data that can be used to strengthen connections across various touchpoints during the traveler’s journey.

Additionally, when it comes to communication, travelers prefer to be contacted through different messaging channels like WhatsApp and Messenger for convenience. Guest messaging solutions enable your hotel staff to use the right channel for the right guest while improving efficiency.

2. Website design and digital marketing

People buy everything on the Internet today, and booking a trip is no exception. According to Statista, 69% of total revenue from the global travel and tourism market is booked online and is forecasted to exceed $521 billion in revenue in 2023.

But when booking a hotel room online, travelers tend to be extra cautious. To convince travelers, hotels must provide a clear picture of what to expect, starting with the hotel website. That’s why one of the top investments is website design.

Your website can be a persuasive tool in gaining the trust of potential guests and boosting direct bookings. It should be visually appealing and easy to navigate. Your hotel website should have certain essential features, such as mobile optimization, an integrated booking engine, conversion drivers, upsells, reviews, high-quality images, and relevant information. Creating a website can be challenging. Even though templates are available in the market to help you build yourself, outsourcing this job might be more cost-effective in the long run.

In tandem with a conversion-optimized website, a successful digital marketing strategy is paramount for your property to thrive. Aware of this behavior, hotels are willing to invest in digital marketing to develop effective messaging and marketing campaigns. You can start by focusing on metasearch, SEM, email, and social media. You can hire a marketer or outsource this aspect, and prioritize a company with experience in the hospitality industry. Various technologies can help you with different strategies, such as email automation or chatbots.

3. Mobile keyless entry and pre-check-in

As hoteliers continue to face staffing shortages, finding ways to maintain service excellence becomes challenging. To address this and meet the demand for convenience, independent properties are prioritizing investments in mobile keyless and pre-check-in technologies.

While only some prefer a completely digital experience, many guests still appreciate having personalized self-service options. Travelers expect the speed and efficiency of automation, particularly when they arrive after a long trip and are tired. Waiting in line for a room key is the last thing they want. You can build customer loyalty and reduce reliance on the labor market by providing various options.

Self-service technologies can streamline check-in processes by handling repetitive tasks, resulting in faster and more efficient service at the front desk. Guests will be more satisfied, and so will your staff.

4. Frictionless payment

You want to make it easier for your guest to spend money, and offering frictionless payments is a good starting point. Managing multiple systems or vendors, using manual systems, or waiting a long time to receive payments are just some of the challenges hoteliers must overcome to provide a seamless payment experience.

Using technology, you can simplify guest payments and ensure a quick, hassle-free, and secure process. With the right tool, hoteliers can avoid manual errors, chargebacks, and fraud. It can also generate reports to help you control your financial status and make well-informed decisions.

5. Pricing and revenue management solutions

Increasing revenue has always been top of mind for independent properties. Today, a successful revenue management strategy involves analyzing tons of data, which can be challenging for a human to do. That’s why investing in a revenue management solution is listed as one of the top five technology investments this year.

Maintaining a dynamic pricing strategy, shopping competitors’ rates and adjusting prices in response to market demand are some of the benefits a revenue management system can provide. With the help of machine learning, AI and automation, today’s technology can do a lot of the groundwork. Choosing a tool with the right functionality can maximize occupancy, boost overall profitability and help adapt to changing market conditions faster.

Final thoughts

The industry’s changing travel behavior and complexities require technological investment from properties of all shapes and sizes. Without such investments, lodging businesses may struggle to survive and thrive. The adoption of technology in different areas of the hotel industry is happening. Some say slowly, but it’s happening for sure. And it will continue to grow.

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