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How new technology boosts business for budget hoteliers

By Abhinav Sinha, COO, OYO

Friday, September 15, 2017, 11:19 Hrs  [IST]

In the pre-Internet era, budget hotels had little hopes of matching the footfalls received by their starred and chain counterparts. Thanks to the Internet, we now have a levelling of access where technology has removed barriers between customers and hoteliers, and delivered significant advantages to both.
From the search stage, to bookings and right up to checkout, technology has had a transformative effect on customer-engagement with budget hotels. Previously, travellers generally booked in advance and confirmed their bookings over a phone call. On arrival, they were quite likely to find an unreliable experience in the way of musty rooms, dirty linen or washrooms leading to lack of trust in this option.

Technology, the leveller!
Not anymore! Big or small, every hotel now has the opportunity to go online and attract travellers directly. Technology offers them a platform to become discoverable to a huge population of individuals travelling for business, leisure or using a hotel room to watch a football match or avoid a long commute after a hard day at work. While increased availability and ease of access has generated unique use cases for hotels, it has also solved for the bigger issue of supply-demand mismatch that impacted business for budget hotels in the past. A standardised experience is the biggest factor driving up occupancy-levels at these hotels since it assures customers about receiving predictable service. Finding a good hotel room with useful amenities like air conditioned rooms, WiFi, spotless linen is not a daunting task anymore. A single app has become the ‘go-to’ option for travellers to search for affordable hotels in their vicinity and create a booking within seconds. They can also use the app for ordering food or looking for a cab or finding a restaurant for dining out. In short, app-adoption delivers comfort, convenience and cost effectiveness.

Technology has also enabled hoteliers to enhance guest-experience. Guest feedback, audit scores and reviews are collated to identify problem-areas and gaps. Thanks to OYO educating and skilling frontline hotel staff in thousands of hotels across India, even the smallest of the budget hotel now understands the value of maintaining quality standards and offering a satisfactory experience to guests.

Dynamic pricing & more
For hoteliers, business apps boost the speed of service and delivery. These factors then trigger higher bookings. During the off-season, technology interventions ensure better-than-average customer demand and occupancy. Real-time information means hoteliers can adopt a dynamic pricing model, depending on the demand-andsupply scenario.

Another advantage of online platforms is permanent data storage. Hoteliers can later refer to this and gain insights about guests – their likes, dislikes and preferences. Big data analytics can throw up insights that were otherwise not accessible to small hoteliers. For example, they can now find out the exact price-point during off-season beyond which guests would be unwilling to pay, and price their rooms accordingly.

The dividends through technological innovations are only the beginning. Advances in the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, robotics and other smart technologies will further transform the hospitality experience.

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

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