Hospitality technology veteran and HFTP Hall of Fame member, Dave Berkus, partner in Hospitality Automation Consultants, LTD, presented his vision of hospitality technology trends to an attentive group of worldwide hoteliers last week at the Hospitality Industry Conference at the Alcatel Forum 2005 in Paris, France.
Berkus focused his remarks upon the reach of technology beyond the room, taking advantage of new capabilities in wide area networking and customer relationship management. He identified what he described as dominant themes for 2005 and beyond.
“Information must be available everywhere great guest service demands it,” Berkus stated. “Wide area networks must connect all properties and service facilities, using a single guest name record. It is no longer prudent or necessary to replicate guest information in a central system, at the property and in a CRM system all at once.” He went on to describe his vision of the ideal network in which property-based computing power would be used to handle local charging and system failure backup, with central server farms charged with service of single image guest information to all properties and locations. “Guests would be recognized and rewarded from any location, permitting much better service and more responsive marketing and honored guest recognition programs,” he added.
Berkus cited use cases from groups such as Wyndham, Canyon Ranch and Affinia, all of which have such networks in place or in the design stage, greatly reducing system costs and enhancing guest service.
Turning his attention to the problems and opportunities evolving from an increasing number of inventory distribution channels which must be actively managed, Berkus focused upon the emergence of new tools for central management of inventory. He noted that the problem is really a once-in-a-generation opportunity for hoteliers to use technology to greatly increase revenues. A single dashboard control can now be used to deliver inventory allocations and pricing to retail channels such as Expedia, Travelocity, hotels.com and more, as well as to the world’s 450,000 travel agents through Amadeus, Sabre, WorldSpan and Galileo. These channels have begun delivering between three and six percent of allocated inventory in incremental direct bookings, responsible for measurable increases in revenues, he stated.
Berkus commented upon the primitive state of hospitality marketing in the past, and in the emerging opportunity to not only mine the existing guest data, but to combine it with demographic data to zero in upon guests most likely to greatly enhance revenues. As a result, Berkus stated his belief that revenues will be measured by guest, not by room, when hotel groups find that focus upon the individual generates extraordinary increases in revenues.
Tying all his themes together, Berkus identified the overriding trend to be “marketing to the power of one.” He presented examples from reduction of wasted general marketing messages, effective leveraging of known guest preferences, and the effect both have upon increased revenues.
Optimistically forecasting the future of technology utilization within the hospitality industry, Berkus ended his presentation with a description of some of the newly emerging tools and technologies which will accelerate adoption by properties seeking more efficiency in operations and better revenues through intelligent exposure to a larger, more receptive market.