The last couple of years has given the hotel industry time to reset and look for the opportunities that come from understanding their customer mix better. Hotels have been able to rethink how they approach their markets, and what segments of those markets are the ideal fit for their offering.
For many hotels in the Middle East, 2022 was their best year ever, and part of that was because they had to reinvent how they went after the business. Before the pandemic, the Chinese market was a big inbound market for the region, especially during shoulder season months. When this stopped, hotels were forced to look at other inbound markets and think about how they needed to tailor their approach to attract these markets.
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Dubai worked hard to reposition itself as the center of the world. And it has been open and busy since July 2020 because the industry here continually looked outside of the box and took a proactive stance in its go-to-market strategy.
However, while 2022 was a bumper year, the industry cannot afford to be complacent.
The Tomorrow Team
Hotels need to have a ‘tomorrow team’. This is a team separate from the ‘today team’. The tomorrow team strategizes on what is needed from a technology point of view, from a guest point of view, and where the company wants to go.
This also frees up the today team to deal with the here and now, because a lot of the time we expect hotel teams to bring in the business, to serve the guests, to deal with everything that is going on now, and at the same time to also think about the future.
The future thinking needs to be done by a different team or with external consultants and experts that can help the today team come up to where they need to go.
A good example is cryptocurrency. There are some payment providers already accepting cryptocurrency. This is coming, but it is yet another area of technological advancement where the hotel industry is so far behind.
Continued Tech Investment
To stay ahead in 2023, the industry needs to continue its technology spend. The digitalization of the industry must continue. There are so many sophisticated systems available now, not just for rooms, but across all revenue-generating functions, including F&B, spa, attractions, and other ancillaries, that hotels need to start investing and focusing on total revenue management.
In 2023, hotels need to start optimizing every single element of the property and maximize every single square meter that they have available to offer. The more you can streamline operations and processes, and the more you can have the systems do the work for you, the more time you can spend on strategizing.
However, it’s easy to say ‘the more automation the better’, but automated processes do require solid integrations and clean data. Otherwise, it’s just garbage in / garbage out.
If there are no standards on how items must be entered into the system, and how the users are using them, then the automation is great, but the output is not clean. And from that, your strategy setting, decision-making, and evaluation aren't good, and you might not be getting the outcome that you're looking for.
First, take a step back and look at what you need. This is where, potentially, you may benefit from having a consultant involved.
Next, get all the key stakeholders around the table to find out which systems do what and how they will work together. Look for integrations and easy-to-use interfaces that can streamline your operations, improve the guest experience, and collate data to help you know your guest better.
Make sure you focus on total revenue optimization. That your systems can know the revenue and profit per occupied room and even the revenue and profit per square meter of your hotel. This is essential for owners and asset managers, and important for hotels to understand because it helps you evaluate your spaces and how they can be converted into revenue centers.
Make sure your systems give you a commercial lens that goes across not just traditional revenue management and hotel sales but also incorporates F&B revenue management; a profitable restaurant is a key component to a successful hotel and to increasing total guest spend.
To do this you need to have a fully integrated tech stack that includes all customer touchpoints, from your PMS and RMS to business intelligence tools, CRM, point of sale, and more.
Set Yourself Apart
Hotels need to focus on how they set themselves apart from the competition. There needs to be more focus on storytelling, and on highlighting the experiences on offer for those wanting to travel. This helps build value and enables you to command the price points you want to go after.
To do this, hoteliers need to be adaptable and constantly looking for new income streams. It’s about being proactive and not reactive – and the right systems and strategies enable that.
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