Reliance on technology is becoming increasingly important in the lodging industry as hotels begin to recognise how they can gain key competitive advantage with strategic technology investments. However, new research from travel technology specialist Expedia reveals significant differences in how hotels prioritise technology investment with chain hotels found to be 77% more likely to increase technology investments, while independent counterparts instead look to prioritise room renovation.
According to its survey of more than 1,200 hoteliers, chain properties (defined as properties self-selected as part of a chain affiliation or group of properties with more than 100 rooms) are nearly twice as likely as small independent properties (defined as independent properties with no chain affiliation and 100 rooms or less) to prioritise technology investment.
Alternatively, small independent properties were found to be 1.5 times more likely than chain hotels to prioritise room renovations – indicating a gap in technology investment strategies among different hotelier segments.
The 2019 Lodging Technology Study from Hospitality Technology had indicated that more than half (54%) of hotels planned to increase their technology budgets for 2019, while only 8% planned to decrease their investment. However, Expedia’s latest research highlights that cost seemingly continues to be the key barrier with technology adoption for many hoteliers.
Nearly half of the small independent hotels surveyed indicated that technology investment decisions were based on affordability and value. In contrast, more than half of the chain hotels prioritise technology that seamlessly integrates with their existing systems.
“We’re witnessing chain hotels place significant investments in technology, which opens the potential for a greater divide between properties that are not able to match those investments,” says Ait Voncke, senior vice president, Expedia Group.
Among the small independent hotels surveyed, one in four cited complexity as their biggest challenge when adopting technology, with one in three saying ease of use is a priority when evaluating solutions.
Expedia Group sees this gap as an opportunity as operating a small property generally means owners juggling multiple responsibilities. It has introduced enhancements to its Expedia Group Partner Central platform to further streamline everyday tasks and supply relevant information.
“Technology has the power to level the playing field for hoteliers of all sizes. We continue to listen to our partners’ needs and invest in how best to serve all our partners so even the smallest of properties can compete effectively and find opportunities to succeed,” explains Mr Voncke.
Recent new and enhanced features have included:
- Partner Central Mobile App improvements – a series of upcoming enhancements will make managing rooms and rates easier, says Expedia, with modified calendar navigation, the ability to view inventory and availability and make real time updates to reduce errors. Suppliers will also be able to receive mobile notifications for bookings, cancellations, guest messages and prioritise them with easy to use filters.
- New ‘Rooms and Rates’ overview page – a simplified view streamlines information and tasks related to rooms, rates and inventory. Expedia says the new page will reduce the number of links and help suppliers determine where to take action with business alerts and high-level insights.
- New ‘Marketing’ overview page – suppliers currently using marketing tools will see reporting on their results, while suppliers that are not will be educated on the various tools available to influence their availability and increase conversion, says Expedia. The page brings the top five countries with the greatest booking opportunity and raises awareness of their property within the marketplace.
- New adaptive home page – designed to provide customised recommendations for partners based on their current familiarity with Partner Central, according to Expedia. This personalised experience enables suppliers to identify certain time-sensitive tasks they should take to accelerate booking potential on Expedia Group’s marketplace and will be made available to majority of properties at the end of the year.
- Multi property portfolio dashboard – provides a portfolio snapshot for suppliers managing two or more properties. The dashboard indicates the list of accommodations associated to the user, says, Expedia, and provides insights for each property and signals when and where action is needed.