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.