Hotel innovation – an interview with hotelier Eytan Krips
InnovationScouts.tech spoke with businessman and hotel-owner, Eytan Krips about his views on innovations in the hotel industry.
InnovationScouts.tech (IST): There’s a lot of noise about innovation in the hotel and hospitality sector, much of it focusing on the innovative disruptor like AirBnB. As with any industry, there’s the attention-grabbing headline innovations, but there is also a lot that can be done to improve things like operations and guest experience. What areas do you think are the low-hanging fruits in the hospitality business, places where focused innovation can be applied to great effect?
Eytan Krips (EK): Hotels are using technology to improve efficiency and service. Apps offering pre-arrival services and auto check-in including the phone being the room key. This is very efficient, providing better service and reduces operating costs. New brands are being launched which offer a different experience, some being very targeted e.g. green ‘eco-resorts’ ‘social/club’ hotels. Hotels are offering more than AirBnB can in terms of the experience. Big data can be used to enhance loyalty programs, price comparison, location date, clearly this will increasingly be used by large hotel groups and Online Travel Agents (OTAs). TripAdvisor is relaunching it’s site to take advantage of information about guests’ habits and activities.
IST: How have new entrants, for example AirBNB and the big online travel agents changed the ways that you need to talk with your prospective and existing customers? What tools are you using to support this?
EK: OTAs, our ‘frenemies’, offer lots of opportunity, they have enormous power as they have a larger budget to promote your hotel than you do. At the same time if you know their system very well and spend time on it daily, there are significant benefits to be gained. OTAs also provide data and analysis of the local market and competition. They are able to draw in the public and also hotels as they offer benefits to both.
IST: With the advances in technology, leading to both the creation of new business models and new competitors in the hospitality market, how have your customer’s expectations changed, and what are you doing to address this?
EK: The market is constantly changing, it is therefore important to be aware and open to change. Terms of business need to be adapted, lots of different packages on offer with different terms and conditions e.g. cancelation policies. We have to be aware of many options that are available to the customer so that we don’t miss out. The terms need to be well communicated to our team so that they don’t make mistakes. We have more than 30 different types of stay offered through the various channels at any time. We can also open or close channels according to market conditions.
IST: How do you balance the introduction of new operational procedures and technologies with the expectations of your long-standing customers versus the potential for gaining new customers?
EK: Long standing customers expect nothing to change. We have decided to keep the traditional ‘tariff’ style reservation system for these guests. We are therefore using new technology and methods alongside traditional systems as both are beneficial.
IST: In your industry what do you think will be the most exciting innovations during the next 12 months?
EK: Big data will be increasingly used to better target and entice target audiences. TripAdvisor is about to relaunch and I would expect similar changes from the other OTAs. Technology will be used to enhance your stay, with systems similar to Alexa at home being adapted and enhanced for hospitality. The phone being the key is likely to spread fast.
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