2017 has arrived. What’s your strategy?

Anna Ransom

2017 has arrived. What’s your strategy?

A new year has begun and with it comes new goals and objectives. What are the top priorities for your organization? How do they align with other hospitality organizations?

According to the 2017 Lodging Technology Study, respondents indicated that their top priority in 2017 will be a focus on improving digital customer engagement/guest loyalty. This area stands out from the other goals identified by a substantial margin.

Top 10 Strategic Goals for Tech Infographic

Add to this, more than half of respondents also indicated that they anticipate an increase in IT budgets in 2017 to allow for successfully achieving this goal.  When considering a breakdown of how these budgets are allocated, the largest area of focus is on software.   There are many components that should be considered as it relates to using software to improve digital customer engagement and guest loyalty.  We’ll break some of these down over future posts.

Today, I couldn’t help but think of the stated goal of customer engagement in the context of group business. In my experience, successful delivery of group events can lead to new brand advocates on an individual basis. For many years I planned our corporate events, giving me the opportunity to experience varying levels of service at a multitude of properties. These planner experiences influenced my personal buying behavior at such a level that when I’m travelling with my family, I first to look for particular brands in a city rather than being driven solely by price offered.  Nothing defines hospitality quite as well as being recognized upon arrival at a property. The extra measures taken to create an inviting experience for my young children far surpass the value of a few dollars savings that might be experienced elsewhere.

Recent research by Smart Meetings indicates that I’m not alone in my perspective. Providing an added level of service and implementing technology solutions to empower a deeper level of engagement and collaboration will be key ways that venues can differentiate their offering. Allowing planners the tools they need to access critical planning details, even going so far as empowering them to directly book their business online without having to engage with a sales person are other key areas that are quickly becoming a “need to have” rather than a “nice to have” offering.

How can hospitality organizations effectively deliver on their brand promise as well as guest and planner expectations? We know from the 2017 Lodging Technology study that IT budgets are increasing, with software being the largest area of allocation.  Implementing innovative software tools that allow planners to directly book group events online, collaborate through all phases of the planning process, visualize their event flow prior to arrival on site, while empowering venue staff to manage all event details in a single location are key components to growing your sales & catering business while differentiating your brand and creating new brand advocates.  Beyond that, ensuring that all of these systems work together to provide robust insights and analytics are key factors to deepening customer engagement and growing your business.

Let’s talk about how to make this a reality for your business.

Drivers of Change in Hospitality

In our largest hospitality study to date, we asked more than 7,000 travelers and industry experts to define the future of the industry. The results highlight several emerging trends for hoteliers to remain relevant, timely, and preferred in a world of evolving guest expectations and intense competition.