Digital Should Serve the Guest, Not Take Over

By Martin Cowen

Tnooz covers the fourth annual Travel Question Time event in London, produced by DataArt in partnership with the magazine. The standing-room-only event, moderated by Tnooz editor Kevin May, brought together the industry leaders who discussed ‘digital hospitality’, ‘OTAs vs direct bookings’ and other challenges faced by the hospitality sector.

“Greg Abbott from DataArt realises that the hotel sector is being disrupted at every level, and that maybe digital’s biggest role for hotels was to improve the efficiency of its operations via virtual concierges and the Internet of Things. He pointed out that not everyone wants a conversation with the hotel receptionist, a lot of people just want to get to the room.

…Chris Roe runs sales and distribution for Accor UK and when asked about the hotel of the future responded with the idea that the hospitality industry ‘needs to get the basics right first,’. Digital can play a role in helping to deliver the basics, such as Accor’s Mercure brand introducing mobile check-in and check-out at hotels where the data shows a lot of guests have booked on mobile.

…Suzie Thompson, chief marketing officer of Red Carnation Hotels, said that ‘digital reputation’ was a natural benefit of ‘prioritising the customer experience’ and that, generally, Red Carnation’s approach was to concentrate on the guest experience and to partner with specialists for the tech and digital side of the business.

…Another guest on the panel was Elliott Pritchard from Triptease…His take is that at the same time as hotels are looking for more direct business, the OTA market will consolidate further as the big players not only add hotel IT services to their portfolio but also squeeze out the medium-sized OTAs.”

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