This naive phrase spoken by that wet-behind-the-ears comic book character “Mafalda” can well describe the state of frustration experience by more than one hotel director or entrepreneur before the endless avalanche of technological innovations that threaten to turn upside-down all strategic marketing and distribution plans.
The rapid assimilation of the Internet as a business platform has brought consumers and suppliers closer in a way unknown until now. The travel sector has been one of the greatest beneficiaries from the start. That this opportunity was based on the development of new internal capacities, as much in technology as in the formation of specialized resources, was taken for granted and adopted perfectly by the hotel sector. All the big hotel groups devoted themselves to the development of direct sales, to improve their Internet presence, to open new sales channels and to experiment with new marketing concepts, means and tools. All with the sole objective of taking advantage of the many opportunities of an ever more promising market.
The benefits to the sector have been and continue to be unquestionable, although the success in absolute numbers can vary significantly between one business and another, depending on its ability and knack for adapting its organization to the new business reality.
A decade after taking the first steps in unchartered territory and learning the basic rules of the game, the hotelier now confronts the hard reality that this has only just begun. As soon as he seems to have assimilated a new concept in marketing, it becomes obsolete. As soon as he is up to the latest technological tools, he discovers that more advanced tools already exist. The hotel sector is stuck with learning at an increasingly fast pace, whether because the technology is more complex or market trends are changing:
- Management of multi-channel distribution platforms
- Technological developments for mobile devices
- Direct sale/Management of “attraction cycle” – Conversion – Maximization
- Monitoring online reputation/Interaction in social networks
- Customer relationship management & Data base management
- Profitable management and monitoring of online marketing campaigns
- by market/language
- by product/ownership
- by format/sales channel
- by terminal type/desktop, tablet, mobile
The weakness of the world economy, the appearance of new feeder markets and the need to act quickly to position oneself in those markets adds a little more complexity to the reality confronted by the sector. In short, it is increasingly difficult for the hotel operator to act in coordinated fashion on all the fronts that open up with the same resources at his disposal.
This new reality demands that the hotelier review his organizational abilities and investment priorities:
- In what circumstances is it preferable to externalize specific processes of business management?
- What is the real cost of the learning curve for each new tool, media or channel?
- How to ensure team productivity before the multiplication of formats, channels and management processes?
- How to minimize the dispersal of resources pursuing trends with an uncertain return?
- What are the limits to the scalability of the new commercial processes?
The conclusions will be as different as the businesses and management teams themselves. However, the external pressures that dictate strategic decisions will be the same for the entire sector. Or as a veteran hotel operator said at a recent sector event: “This whole technological evolution and the continuous emergence of new trends and social phenomena do not allow anyone to take a breath. We are all rushing to keep up anyway we can.”