This month’s roundup of news from the technology sector includes 20 years of OTAs; how to personalize with tech; and more.
Hotel News Now’s Tech Impact Report each month features a news roundup from the hotel technology sector. Subscribe to the free monthly report here.
Tech can help predict what guests want
Hoteliers have more and more tools today to get to know guests before they step on property, which Hotel News Now contributor Alicia Hoisington writes gives hotels the opportunity to leverage technology to personalize services.
Greg Horeth, COO of Spire Hospitality, told Hoisington that brands have been offering increasingly sophisticated property management systems that help in this regard.
“On the brand side, when the customer makes the reservations via phone or online, it goes into (his or her) customer profile,” he said. “The majority of them have frequent traveler or loyalty profiles, and profiles are built with requests included, much like what you see with car rental agencies or travel agencies.”
How OTAs and the hotel industry have grown over 20 years
It might seem crazy to think that online travel agencies have existed for 20 years, but this year does in fact mark the 20th anniversary of the October 1996 launch of what was then known as “Microsoft Expedia Travel Services.” Much has changed since that launch, writes Hotel News Now contributor Ed Watkins, and the increasing power and prevalence of OTAs presents both challenges and opportunities for hoteliers.
Sources told Watkins that, while it’s easy to bemoan the fact OTA commissions take a chunk out of hotels’ bottom lines, overall they have been a net positive.
“There certainly are some real pluses and real minuses to the OTAs, but to me the pluses outweigh the minuses,” said Robert Rauch, CEO of San Diego-based management company RAR Hospitality. “For one, they have done a phenomenal job of marketing, and they are so far ahead of (the hotel industry) in terms of technology. They also have a tremendous grasp of what’s coming down the pike in social media marketing, channel management and use of the internet. They understand this space better than any hotelier does.”
Marriott launches tech accelerator
Marriott International want to see more innovation in travel-related technology, and to that end, the company has launched a tech accelerator program in Europe, reports PSFK. The program, called Marriott TestBED, invited eight companies to participate and “pitch to a panel of experts” before choosing two winners.
Marriott officials said they expect the tech that comes from the program to help enhance the guest experience.
Compiled by Sean McCracken.