Digital transformation is not an end in itself; rather, it is a constant process. As Xavier Codó, VP Managing Director of Iberia & LATAM at Mitek points out, “We don’t believe that there are hotels that can be completely ‘digitally transformed’, as technology is advancing and changing at such a fast pace. The need to update is constant”.
However, the amount of technological solutions available to the hotel industry is overwhelming. How do we choose the most appropriate solution for our hotel? Although companies are investing more, and more effectively, in new technologies, The Digital Transformation PACT Report shows that a significant portion of these investments are not successful: 36% of companies consulted in more than 15 countries have cancelled some sort of digital transformation project, with an approximate cost of half a million euros, whilst 10% of planned projects have not been carried out. Based on our experience, the data from the hotel industry is not much different.
One of the biggest keys to digital transformation in hotels consists of the intelligent use of information. The internet gives us an enormous amount of data about our users, but it is essential to know how to choose the data we need, filter it and interpret it properly.
This allows hotel chains to convert digital transformation into a strategic plan, and not just into a reactive response to changes in the market.
According to the SoftServe Digital Transformation Report 2017, the majority of companies consider the most valuable technologies to be those that are aimed at creating engagement or improving customer experience.
However, technologies that allow processes to be automated, such as online check-in solutions, or improve internal management, especially financial management, are also highly strategic.
Ultimately, people are responsible for implementing digital transformation as well as using it efficiently on a day-to-day basis. For this reason, it is important to have qualified staff or to provide them with training on the most recent advancements.
Emilio Parrilla, IT Manager at Onagrup, believes that “Training in the sector is very important. Due to the rate at which new digital solutions are created and implemented, it is essential that staff are trained and know how to make the most of these new solutions so that they can not only be more efficient, but can also give a better response to the customer in any given situation.”
There are barriers to any change, and digital transformation is no exception. According to The challenge of digital transformation for the economy, a study by Roland Berger and Siemens, the two main barriers are resistance to change and cost estimation.
Regarding resistance to change, adequately training staff and informing them of the advantages of digital transformation is essential, not only so that they can make better use of it, but also so that they can understand and embrace it. The problem with cost estimation is not necessarily a financial problem, but rather a problem with company culture: Investing in digital transformation is seen as an expenditure rather than an investment. A good financial plan is often just as necessary as a change in strategic approach.
Investment in technological solutions is not only necessary to respond to the market; it must also be strategic and proactive. But, above all, it must be done based on data and a detailed understanding of our end customer. The technology has to add internal value and benefit our customer in order to be profitable.