Hotels invest in tech in bid to seize power from online travel agents


Embracing new technology will help hoteliers revolutionise the customer experience and win business back from online travel agents (OTAs), according to a new report.

The head of innovation at Equator explains how AI-driven chatbot technology and smart UX can bring a more meaningful service for customers.

The agency, which has offices in Glasgow, London and New York, has experience in the hotel industry, working with Village Hotels, Hotel du Vin & Bistro, Gleneagles, Malmaison, Rocco Forte Hotels, Dalata Hotels and Crowne Plaza.

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Recent innovative work includes helping Village Hotels be the first in the UK to roll-out the Amazon Alexa as a virtual concierge service.

The Amazon Echo Dot has been customised by Equator’s Innovation team to allow guests to ‘Ask Village’ a range of questions including sharing restaurant, pool, gym and spa opening times, things to do in the local area, checkout times and delivering wakeup calls. Plans are in the pipeline to expand Alexa’s capabilities even further.

Martin Jordan, head of innovation at creative agency, said: “The UK hotel industry has long been an early adopter of new technology, unafraid of venturing into the unknown to secure a better experience for customers.

“Now is definitely the time for hotels to show that attitude and act – there has never been this level of technological capability available at such a low cost with so much potential.

“By leading the way in building a better experience for customers, brands can stand head and shoulders above the competition, countering increasing commercial pressure from OTAs and boosting profit margins.”

Equator is a creative agency that connects brand, marketing and technology to deliver more effective experiences. The company believes only innovative ideas built on meaningful connections can make the most of these opportunities, resulting in big numbers that truly transform brands.

Tags : hotel technologyhotelierhotelsonline travel agentsTECHNOLOGY
Emma Calder

The author Emma Calder

1 Comment

  1. Am I the only one that doesn’t understand how adding an Amazon Echo virtual concierge service to a room will help win business back from OTAs? By the time they experience the Amazon Echo, the guest has already made the booking. Do we really believe the device is going to encourage guests to book direct on a return visit?

    The whole point of a concierge is to be genuinely helpful and go above and beyond. While AI technology is amazing, a “virtual concierge” is a long way from being able to match the human touch, even if it has all of the information. If check out is at 11:00, will the virtual concierge tell the guests “it’s OK so long as you are out by 11:45 for us to clean the room”? I can hear it now… “You must be out of your room by 11:00 otherwise late fees may apply.”

    A virtual concierge seems to be the ideal service for hotels who take all of their bookings through OTAs – unable to pay for real people to be their concierge and provide a no-frills service based on volume alone.

    Jase at Otium Boutique

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