Technology: Tech-Tonic Shift In Hotels

Business Today|July 12, 2020

Technology: Tech-Tonic Shift In Hotels
From smartphones doubling up as room keys to real-time data access for staff to new solutions for cleaner air, technology is transforming the hospitality sector
Nidhi Singal

During his stay at the Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway in January, Delhi-based executive Rishabh Gupta did not have to stand in queue at the front desk. Instead, he used the hotel’s mobile key to check-in, and accessed the room key using his smartphone.

While hotels have been investing in consumer-connect technologies for over a decade, it has now found more takers after the Covid-19 outbreak, with social distancing being the new norm.

According to industry experts, technology can bring down the operation cost of a hotel by 15-40 per cent, or even more, depending on the property (boutique or budget hotel), footfall, and the kind of systems deployed.

“Travel and tourism is among the fastest-growing sectors in India, contributing nearly a tenth to the country's GDP ($247.3 billion) and accounting for roughly 42 million jobs (direct and indirect). The role of technology will be key in the post-pandemic world. Most states have already put in conditions of ‘contactless’ check-in/check-outs. QR codes, artificial intelligence and machine learning will soon replace physical menus in hotels and restaurants,” says Vivek Agarwal, Partner, Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare Services, KPMG in India.

This year, due to the virus outbreak, the domestic hotel industry is likely to see a 57 per cent decline in revenue at ₹90,000 crore, against ₹1,58,113 crore in 2019, according to consulting firm HVS. “RevPAR (revenue per available room) in the organised segment is expected to decline by 58 per cent. The industry has not seen such an unprecedented decline in RevPAR in the last two decades, since we started recording this data. The unorganised segment, which is 10 times the size of the organised segment, is also likely to witness a similar quantum of decline,” says Mandeep Lamba, President (South Asia), HVS ANAROCK.

Taking the Hit

Source: HVS Anarock

₹1,58,113 Crore Revenue earned by the hotel industry in 2019

57% Estimated fall in revenue in 2020 due to the Covid crisis

58% Estimated decline in RevPAR (Revenue per available room) post-Covid

Guest Management

From managing bookings to guest interactions, resource procurement to accounting, the industry preference has shifted towards cloud-based solutions, from the earlier practice of storing data on-premises. This saves time and minimises chances of errors, while leading to increased accuracy and efficiency.

“By migrating from on-site software to Cloud-based (SaaS) software, we have lowered the cost of hardware, maintenance, manpower and other operating system licences. Online training and adoption in our team have also become easier,” says Shiv Kumar Mehan, Chief Operating Officer, Leisure Hotels Group.

For instance, Oracle Sales Cloud helps hotels manage the sales cycle, while keeping a tab on interactions with customers. “Today’s sales representatives don’t just need data. They need to be able to access and leverage timely and relevant insights that empower them to serve customers better,” says Rakesh Jaitly, Senior Sales Director, Customer Experience (CX) Solutions, Oracle. Tata group-owned Taj hotel chain is already using the software to provide its sales team with real-time insights into customer behaviour.

“We offered ITC Hotels a customer-experience platform to handle thousands of guest queries, ensuring that nothing slipped through the cracks and each communication received a prompt response. This has resulted in a 43 per cent increase in guest satisfaction and 24 per cent cost-saving,” says Raj Mruthyunjayappa, Managing Director, Talisma Corp. It helped the hotel chain drive collaborations across teams with ease of information sharing, enhanced monitoring and tracking, all of which were also available to the management.

In fact, hotels are leveraging technology at every step. “Until recently, hospitality was all about human interactions, with high dependence on manual processes. Technology was only seen as a good-to-have feature. The Covid crisis has turned our world upside down with social distancing mandating strict safety checks, resulting in service delivery issues,” says Anupam Verma, CoFounder, Revo-Ex Technology.

Hotel Sarovar Portico in Naraina, New Delhi, is using the company’ guest management platform, including mobile/kiosk check-ins, mobile smart locks and smart power control, among other things, for better customer experience.

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July 12, 2020