TECHNOLOGY IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY:
Information and communication technology (ICT) is an important part of the business culture today. In the modern world, the use of ICTs is no longer a distinct characteristic by itself but has been integrated into the industry. It’s effective and efficient usage can be used to garner a competitive advantage. If the right technology is available and applied, a manager is able to stimulate the company’s growth and can also be able to achieve visible organizational benefits, in line with market evolution.
The hospitality industry is at the front of the entire tourism sector. It is especially sensitive to the increasing competitive pressure as well as the growing need for better and more effective operational and control tools.
The help that can be given by ICTs is seen as capable of providing new opportunities for business development and is therefore very much sought after. The hospitality industry needs to be more open to implementing technological advances since the face of technology is changing gradually. They must do this while also striving to maintain a high level of service quality and guest loyalty. The vast majority of hotels in the world are small or medium size and thus the major problem for them is to be able to have a clear framework of the adoption of ICTs. The aim is to be able to identify the correct level of the utilization of ICTs in a way that will benefit the small and medium-sized hotels.
Hotels and restaurants are continually competing for location, employees, market share and more recently, information about consumers. A large amount of information about consumers is being trapped on web server logs as more and more people use the internet (Garver, 42). Organizations need to develop the ability to take advantage of external environmental factors in order to help the firm grow and sustain in economically challenging times.
Organizations need to structure the way they think around how customers think and act (Piccoli, Spalding and Ives, 21). In today’s world, customers are more demanding than ever expecting a whole lot more from the hospitality industry than they did in the past. Surveys in the hospitality industry of IT utilization point to a medium level of satisfaction due to little or no integration among the various functional modules, which are usually purchased from different vendors (Hoof, Hubert, Verbeeten and Combrink, 17). This complicates data warehousing and leaves decision-makers in the industry lagging behind in adoption of automated forecasting tools and decision support systems (Marek, 97).
Hotels are generally using ICTs at a much lower level than recommended by researchers. This is especially true for areas such as customer relationships management, or activities considered as strategic such as data mining and yield management. Leading hospitality properties have embraced technological innovations which has enabled them to differentiate themselves from their competition. This has led to increase in their market share and improve revenue.
Innovative technologies have been embraced as a way of differentiating a hotel property. The Digital Door Viewer is one such product. The need to accept innovative technologies in the hospitality industries to maintain market leadership has been recognized globally. The Digital Door Viewer is one such product that is a functional and visible amenity which is both beneficial to hotel guests and hotel operators. It’s a product that helps differentiate a hotel property. Choosing the right technology has become as critical as other elements of a hotel’s design. It’s an integral part of not only the success of an operation, but also what makes one brand better than another or more interesting to travellers than other brands (Kenchington 32).
Organizations need to be able to understand their environment in order to build successful firms. They therefore need to consider carrying out strategic analysis which will enable them to engage in strategic planning. Strategic planning has been seen to be very fruitful in enabling organizations to stay ahead. Studies have shown that firms that engage in strategic planning tend to have higher levels of performance (Miller and Cardinal, 94). Hoteliers and restaurateurs need to be aware of the environmental factors around them and how they can drive change in the industry.
Both technological and societal trends should be points of critical interest to hoteliers and restaurateurs. From a societal perspective, organizations need to look at influences such as current hot topics, emerging attitudes, demographic shifts and new fads (Oparanma, et al., 9; Harrison, 20). Societal trends include social media sites such as facebook, linkedIn, twitter among others.
Technological advances focus on the innovation of products, procedures, or services and how these developments can affect the hospitality industry (Yang & Fu, 8; Harrison, 30). For example, online reservations have grown exponentially over the years (Jin-Zhao & Jing, 2009). It is very important that industrial executives be able to understand the implications of technological advances and promptly be able to come up with strategies to take advantage. This is a critical part of strategic development.
Hotels ability to collect, process, and access large amounts of data can help companies build a competitive advantage (Griffin, 15). This is because the information collected can be used for support of strategic market analysis including sales analysis, targeting new customers, fine tuning loyalty programs and conducting trend analysis. It’s mostly applicable in hotels and restaurants that have fully and successfully developed and implemented data warehouses to facilitate data manipulation.
Especially in financial times, hotel executives understand the power and importance of information. The development and use of information systems can additionally aid in hotels ability to develop concepts for new development, target better locations, identify potential franchises, locate new labour markets, track employee performance, and, most importantly, track customer satisfaction (Jin-Zhao & Jing, 29; Griffin, 18).
There are six essential factors identified six essential factors that can help build successful marketing strategies through the use of data mining, a statistical technique that builds models from vast data bases (Magnini, et al., 23). These factors have been recommended to be used together with other statistical modelling tools and therefore help build competitive advantage. These factors are; (a) Planning of seasonal promotions. (b) Creating direct mail campaigns. (c) The planning of timing and placement of ad campaigns. (d) Create personal advertisements. (e) Defining emerging and growing markets. (f) Assist in room reservations (wholesale and business customers) (Magnini, et al., 23).
Companies that effectively use technology will have the biggest affect on the customer satisfaction (Siguaw and Enz, 38). This is because the use of technology has led to increased customer satisfaction which in turn eventually leads to increased returns and also increased market share. It also improves service quality and therefore enables hotels to differentiate themselves from their competition.
The use of technology in restaurants has led to ‘lighter’ work since orders are no longer handwritten, workers no longer need to remember the pricing of foods and services or hand deliver them to the kitchen. There are also tech online reservation systems and automated ordering systems. There are little negative attributes associated with what technology can do for the hospitality industry except for maybe costs. Cost of technology is probably one of the major reasons the hospitality industry has been slow to accept and adapt new technology. Smaller hotels are therefore unable to afford the latest technology and may have to depend on second-hand information such as information from the internet.
It is evident that technology will continue to play a key critical role in the growth and progression of the hospitality industry. Technological aid initially developed to assist in reduction of labour, efficiency of operation, food and other operational costs have ultimately helped in attainment of the ultimate goal which is customer satisfaction and in turn lead to repeat business.
All in all, technological advances are meant to make things easier and generally create competitive advantage. It is important that the hospitality industry embrace information and communication technology to better improve the service quality and ultimately achieve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
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