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    Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference

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    Palau de Congressos
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    Minneapolis Convention Center

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Article by Georges Panayotis

Who Will Benefit From the Digitization of the Hotel Industry?

Hospitality ON 29 January 2019
The notions of the "money back guarantee", "exchangeable product" and sales were invented at Le Bon Marche department store. Nearly 200 years later, Black Friday has become a global institution, and no customer can imagine not being able to exchange an item.But major department stores such as Le Bon Marche have since changed their strategy and become brand distributors.Will most of tomorrow's hotel groups also operate like major department stores? A wide range of products, services, ranges... We can go to all floors to find new "accessories" to strengthen the brand, customer relations and our guests' experience. We will find digital, marketing, consulting, design, distribution, co-working, entertainment... Operators tend to offer a multiple service to their franchisees who will remain the craftsmen of hosting, in direct contact with guests.Or will they be more like mass distribution?Offer white brands that reassure consumers in the same way as you go shopping in food stores to buy a product that can be organic, branded or unbranded. These products are more similar to some of our brands that have not been able to develop real brands but have remained as consumer products.In the future, the focus will be more on brand names than on real labels.However, they do not invest as much as the major brands found in specialised and especially luxury stores, in terms of publicity and promotion."No matter what, groups will be anything but hoteliers, they wallon longer handle operations;" they will be able to buy anything with respect to the customer experience and become fully horizontal. But will they succeed? They must compete with both IT professionals and customer relations. The digital world did not wait for them. Booking already offers many additional services and is perfectly familiar with all its guests. The giant Amazon is not hiding the fact that it wants to sell absolutely all products all around the world. What role will hotel groups play? How is it possible to compete with a player that affects half of the American population? One of the major challenges is that loyalty programmes could offer a response, but for that to happen it would be necessary to significantly reconsider customer expectations as well as what franchisees are able to offer, "it seems completely absurde to consider a loyalty program without thinking about operational levels." In the end whose responsibility is the cost of customer loyalty? The franchisor's or the franchisee's? Often, the guest is only familiar with the with the hotelier whose services he pays and it is the hotelier who reimburses the distributor and the franchiser. Like remoras that travel upside down attached to a whale.The hotelier, rightly, is a local producer who cultivates relations and a network that is increasingly involved in the local area in order to enrich the customer experience. The hotelier captures a share of its clientele directly and is able to create close ties and personalized with in order to develop customer loyalty. It also relies on the franchiser to reach other clientele and uses Internet to expand its catchment area. It is up to the hotelier to efficiently juggle all the information he holds in order to maintain a balanced distribution and not wind up hostage to one service provider or another."Here were at the crossroads, faced with a round about..."On the one hand, the practice of the profession as an artisan will develop with operators who must be fully attentive to their customers and ready to surprise them at every opportunity.... On the other hand, the support functions will play an increasingly important roles in the development of their franchisees and partners and thus legitimizing their brands by providing real added value. Everyone must embark on the road to excellence that will enable them to achieve an essential level of specialization with the support of digital technologies.The fact is, today's hoteliers lack information because most of them are at headquarters or at distributors' but not with operational staff where they are able to adapt their services to customer demand.Tomorrow we will have to ask ourselves : who will own the data? the hotelier? the brand? the distributor? The data war has only just begun...
Article by Georges Panayotis

The hotel business rebuilds servuction

Hospitality ON 11 July 2018
What if it was all for nothing? What if living an unforgettable stay experience, which one will absolutely want to repeat, depended only on impalpable elements? A functional and attractive aesthetic product is now the bare minimum to attract and retain customers. While it is absolutely necessary, it is not enough. For the customer, these services are self-evident. Comfort, ergonomics, a sense of security are essential to good accommodations.But it is necessary to have a more global and far-reaching vision with a broader focus; offering an accommodations product now means providing a universe, a whole that can meet all needs, all expectations and adapt to all rhythms and lifestyles. Materials and products are now accessible to more and more consumers, and is becoming increasingly difficult to surprise a customer. If you are not fortunate enough to own or operate an exceptional property that conceals hidden treasures of craftsmanship, like the Lutetia, which resuscitated paintings and moldings created more than a century ago when the property was created, or other properties that are in an exceptional architectural setting, then it is necessary to invest in other ways to stand out.The key to good performance now lies in the success of the customer experience through services, staff, attitude, posture, practical and comprehensive socialization tools that become a genuine sindrofos or travel companion - like Sancho Panza was for Don Quixote- for the guest. A faithful servant available via his or her smartphone that is ever present, from morning to night and even at night. The host must be reachable at all times and able to meet immediate needs or even anticipate them in the same way that a butler would have done more than a century ago; the host must also be able to provide guests with suggestions that can meet their needs.After all, how can you judge a successful design? How can we hope to build spaces that enchant both Middle Eastern and Asian clientele at once? How can we cope with the overbidding of products and services? Rather than focusing on a battle lost in advance for most institutions, it is better to invest resources in digital tools that are adapted, efficient and readily available. Book a meeting space, find a restaurant selected and certified by the hotelier, plan an out of the ordinary excursion, live like a native thanks to advice on the best bar in the area, know the weather; meet other customers at the property and why not do business with them: this is what makes the difference. It is by putting everything at the client's fingertips that we will build a lasting relationship with them, and it is through this lasting relationship that profits will be maximized.We must not forget the central role of staff, whether or not they are in direct contact with the client, because accommodations are like beehives where each person has a crucial role to play. Employee training is decisive for the success of the stay. Everyone must have a strong service culture but also carry within them the values of the property in order to be able to translate them into their actions, decisions and attitude. To succeed, therefore, the hotelier must be dedicated to his customers and also take a staff-centered approach to retain and push staff towards excellence.Current and future technologies offer us boundless possibilities, the only barriers between a hotel owner and his customer are those of our own creativity. In an environment that is constantly changing and undergoing profound transformations, it would be delusional to want to do without soft skills and invest only in hard because it would mean completely missing the foundations of customer relations. The business of hotel establishments will undergo its own mutation as well, since a good part of the service will be provided by applications whose ownership will not be associated with the business. The battle is just beginning, some operators are investing heavily to create these ecosystems at the level of their own brands. After the mutation that has taken place in digital distribution, the next stage will occur within staff and ecosystems created by applications. The revolution of hospitality is still in its infancy.
Article by Georges Panayotis

Hospitalty Hiring Paradox: Time to take a stand!

Hospitality ON 19 July 2017
All too often, the hotel industry conveys the image of a sector that is ungrateful, has difficult hours, and under-valued careers; but what has truly been done to change that? With its history and that of generations of pigeonholed employees, the world of Hospitality is like a giant cruise ship trying - with great difficulty - to change its course. So it would be best to take the helm quickly. The transformation of concepts goes hand in hand with a return to the drawing board to reexamine the human role in the hotel industry. Traditional functions are exploding in in light of clients' increasing need for autonomy and - paradoxically - a need for more direct and more authentic exchanges with personnel. The jobs, defined in terms of vertical functions that are associated with one another, no longer correspond to the expectations of a more polyvalent, warmer, less technical and more interactive contact.The technological revolution that has taken place at headquarters must now trickle down to each property. This type of consideration of the hotelier's work, from every angle, must not be subject to any taboos. The use of artificial intelligence and different applications makes it possible to give employees new tools to strengthen their abilities to know clients, meet their expectations and control several functions at once, and thus gain in terms of expertise and qualifications.For hotel management, it is also a means of lightening structures, making them flexible again and increasing profitability that may thus result in better wages. There is no reason why the world of tourism and hospitality should be condemned to this image of minimum wages where propel work while they are looking for something better.In hotel groups, each employee had a kind of "passport", a more or less precise road book detailing their experience, training and qualifications. Today, they may be given a professional "toolbox" allowing them to handle any situation. This technical manual grows with the employee's knowledge, experiences, and any information supplied by management. Such software is already available at major industrial firms where it is a kind of "Pilot Book" with descriptions of jobs and and related tutorials to increase polyvalency.Hospitality is a world where start-ups get involved wholeheartedly. While hotel groups may have trouble bringing on this cultural revolution of management on the field, they can rely on the creativity of young people who assist in their metamorphosis, as other sectors have done. Daily management gains in efficiency and reactivity. The much hoped-for loyalty development can be realized when operations are able to give it meaning.The hotel industry needs to strengthen its heart and lungs, its core, in order to nourish a new form of passion and reception and service and breath new life into its trades, which while they are old should not remain antiquated.

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