Hotels are watching guest behavior closely and identifying opportunities to both connect them closer with services they already use and cut out services that have become superfluous.
In January we launched our annual package, Megatrends Defining Travel in 2016, where we identify the global trends in travel in 2016 and beyond.
Hoteliers understand that on-demand technology is changing passenger and guest expectations around service and responsiveness. They also know that it’s better to partner with existing on-demand providers than to try to create their own services.
Implementation is moving in two key directions: plug-in infrastructure and external service providers to on-site guests.
- Plug-in on-demand infrastructure means, most directly, a back-end overlay in large part replacing what have traditionally been telephone- and in-per-son operations for hotels. Third-party on-demand providers such as Alice are already allowing hoteliers to satisfy guest requests for room service, house-keeping, tickets, dinner reservations, even booking a private jet as part of a mobile digital interface.Furthermore, hotel management can monitor all requests and services from a 360-degree vantage. While large hotel companies are working with in-house iterations of this on-demand/mobile-based tech — Marriott and Virgin Hotels, for example, have recently done so — smaller hotels will turn to third-party solutions, and Alice is the first of them, rather than expend massive resources on building out the needed infrastructure by themselves.
- External service introduction is another angle of on-demand that hoteliers are talking about. The deeper unbundling and more extensive opening-up of the on-demand milieu to third parties who can bring outside services into the travel brand’s space stands to augment or replace traditional hotel food and other services.For hotels, bringing on partner-level on-demand suppliers stands to eliminate expenses and create a percentage-based revenue stream without the ancillary business responsibilities of running an on-property venue.
Success at solutions such as those in the preced-ing examples rely upon close attention to partner selection and incentives: hospitality will have to either pair with the best and brightest third par-ties — ones capable of supplying deep inventory, significant variety, and white-glove customer satisfaction strategies — or they’ll have to create incentives.
Logically, these would be incentives attached to loyalty programs — ones that nudge the on-demand partner into the first-choice/most-favorable category for users seeking points, discounts, and increasingly personalized offers.
When they work, on-demand partnerships will put cost-cutting and service-amplifying features into travelers’ hands — and they offer the potential of creating new leaders among the vanguard hotels that adopt them — creating a tangible advantage, in 2016, within an increasingly unbundled milieu.
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