You can't even stream Netflix in most hotel rooms. That's changing at some IHG Hotel and Resorts hotels, one of several industry upgrades announced in the last few weeks.
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Several big-name hotel companies have entered 2023 with tech partnerships to modernize operations and services.
The tech adoption is in line with what CEOs have said about increased plans to modernize in the near future as they seek to recover financially after the pandemic, though those plans are moving slowly overall.
It’s a significant topic that we are continuing to keep an eye on in 2023.
Most recently, Marriott International partnered with Groups360 on software that streamlines the process of booking rooms and spaces for meetings and events. Historically, this can be a time consuming process, considering the need to book meeting spaces and guest rooms separately, factoring in discounted rates that often come with that type of business.
Using the software, organizations can view the best available group rates and inventory online before booking. For small events, planners can then make their selections and book instantly. For larger events, planners can view the available inventory before inquiring about booking. Marriott is piloting the software at more than 1,500 properties in the U.S. and Canada, with plans to expand throughout 2023.
“This offers our group customers what they have told us they are looking for, which is a much more seamless and efficient booking experience,” Drew Pinto, global head of sales, distribution, and revenue management for Marriott, said in a statement. Tennessee-based Groups360 already provides services to Accor, Hilton, IHG, Omni, and Premier Inn.
Aside from a general lack of modern digitized operations, another criticism from experts is that hotels have come to lack even basic amenities that people are now used to having in their homes, like smart TVs with streaming services.
IHG Hotel and Resorts is addressing that through a new partnership with PPDS, a company that provides Philips products to companies in hospitality and other sectors. Through the partnership, Philips MediaSuite TVs will be placed in certain hotels early this year. The TVs feature Chromecast, giving guests the ability to stream content from smart devices onto the TVs. IHG brands include InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Holiday Inn brand family, Crowne Plaza, Voco, and Hotel Indigo.
Among other recently announced partnerships:
Shiji Group, a Beijing-based company that provides a number of software solutions to hotels, has said it has made partnerships recently with OTH Hotels Resorts and Bluesun Hotels & Resorts, and it’s continuing to expand its existing partnership with Hyatt.
The Maho Group, which manages a portfolio of hotels in the Caribbean, recently selected software company Cendyn to power customer relationship management, revenue management, and business intelligence at two of its resorts with casinos. Among the new capabilities, the platform will allow the resorts to track guests’ individual preferences in order to offer personalized experiences meant to create customer loyalty.
Late last year, Hilton said it connected its hotel digital system with the distribution system provided by Amadeus, creating a better connection to share data like credit card information, cancellation policies, and meal plan details. That faster transfer of information gives Hilton the ability to scale operations more effectively and release new features more quickly, the company said.
Niche Heli-Skiing Bookings and Software Company Buys First Resort
With years of experience providing a booking platform and software to heli-skiing operators, the tech company Heli purchased its own property in a move to expand within the industry in a different way.
Heli-skiing, or helicopter skiing, is a type of off-trail skiing in which the skier is dropped off at the top of the mountain by helicopter.
Almost all of the heli-skiing operations in the world list and sell their inventory on the Heli site, according to Andy Culp, CEO of Heli. Heli has been focused on the extremely niche area of heli-skiing and later expanded to other types of adventures. Heli also offers back-end software that operators can use to manage their business, having raised a total of $4 million in venture capital for that portion of the business.
Heli recently purchased the Great Canadian Heli-Skiing and Heather Mountain Lodge in British Columbia, Canada, for an undisclosed price.
“We’re perfectly positioned to now start buying our own assets,” Culp said. “That’s the first one that we’ve ever done. We’ve been thinking about this for a long time.”
Acting as consultants to heli-skiing operators has given Heli access to a lot of information about both sides of the market — what it takes to run the business and keep customers happy.
Many of these operations are independently owned, and those owners will eventually want to retire, which is where Culp sees an opportunity. It’s also a way to combine some of the fragmented industry.
“We’re deliberately focusing on our existing business, ensuring continued success of our first acquisition, and we are actively and constantly evaluating the myriad of opportunities that life and this industry present.”