INSIGHT: How independent hoteliers are investing in tech

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New research from Expedia reveals the key priorities, challenges and factors involved for independent owners and operators when it comes to investing in and implementing technology. Helen Maher, director of market management, London, Expedia Group, shares the results.

Technology has changed not only the hotel booking landscape, but has also become a core part of a hotelier’s role today. From mobile check-ins to voice assistance technology, AI concierge and smart room keys, the UK’s accommodation sector is thriving and modern hoteliers, big or small, have an opportunity to take the lead towards innovation.

In the midst of strong brand proliferation, staying relevant in the face of competition from larger hotel chains, and attracting leads that turn into returning guests requires focused and consistent online marketing efforts, as well as a seamless guest experience.

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Expedia Group has conducted research with a pool of UK independent hoteliers to gather insights into their views on technology. The data reveals the key priorities, challenges and factors involved for owners and operators when it comes to investing in and implementing technology.

Value of technology to improve business processes  

Smaller, boutique hoteliers are increasingly adopting an ambitious stance towards the integration of technology and realise the value it brings to their business. It’s clear that technology is an important investment priority for hotels, with 90% saying they would ideally like to spend more on either new technology or improving their existing systems.

Cost remains the biggest challenge

Expedia Group’s survey reveals that the biggest challenge for independent hoteliers effectively implementing technology is cost, with nearly 3 in 5 admitting it’s their top concern. Interestingly, larger hotels and chains care more about tech integration as cost is only a small issue, however smaller hotels continue to focus on affordability and value when considering technology purchases.

Strong digital presence is a priority

When asked what their key priorities are when investing in technology, over half of independent hoteliers said they would spend money on making enhancements to their websites to improve the user purchasing journey. On the other hand, 2 in 5 of respondents indicated they would allocate their tech investment on digital marketing to drive additional visitors to their websites.

Boosting revenue and better guest experience

Although most independent hoteliers see the value in developing a strong digital presence, another huge priority for them is finding ways to improve the guest experience and subsequently, increasing the number of positive guest reviews they generate. One in 4 are focused on this, as they believe investing in technology will boost revenue. Nearly 3 in 5 would spend money on renovating their rooms if they could use 100% of their non-operating budget on something.

Complexities of integrating technology

While affordability of tech is a huge issue for smaller hoteliers, another challenge they constantly face is how to integrate technology seamlessly into their existing systems and processes. 39% report that their biggest challenge with technology is lack of tech integration.

But the future looks bright as boutique hotels are becoming more progressive. These businesses have ample opportunity to offer a more tailored, personalised guest experience and utilising technology to enhance this. 

Expedia Group surveyed 1,215 global hotelier participants, including 132 UK respondents, from the boutique hotel industry, including Revenue Managers, General Managers and Operational Managers.

The survey was conducted in July 2019. 

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Zoe Monk

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