The digital era that we find ourselves in can be viewed from two perspectives – one in which companies are inspired by the new possibilities of the digital revolution and one in which technological investment is an overly costly expenditure. Technology seems to be on a fast-track to evolution, meaning platforms that emerged just a few short years ago could already become obsolete by the newer, updated solutions of today. While this is the reality of the progressive age we live in (and the ongoing influence of modern consumer demand), companies far too often fall into the trap of focusing on the price of new technology, rather than the cost of outdated technology. Sure – investing in new technology might appear to be expensive, but we tend to neglect the compiling costs associated with merely trying to survive on old technology.
This dilemma becomes especially apparent within the hospitality realm – an industry which has established a reputation for slow technological adoption. While other industries surged ahead to embrace much-needed digital updates and reform, hospitality often lagged behind, relying instead on traditional legacy systems. Fortunately, the undeniable influence of modern guests and their ever-evolving set of expectations over the last few years has implored (or better yet, demanded) hoteliers to finally embrace new-generation technology. This long-awaited shift has brought with it a guest experience that is more intuitive, personalized and frictionless – from planning to booking, on-property, post-stay and beyond.
However, there still exists a segment of our industry that is often limited by the burden of outdated technology. Despite the complex nature of group bookings – specifically, large hotels catering to conventions and meetings – many hotels are still relying on legacy venue management systems. While they may be surviving (albeit, with no shortage of frustrations and missed leads), it is becoming integral for hotels to ask the question: Are those outdated platforms bottlenecking the groups and events segment into a stagnant, inefficient bucket? Is it (finally) time for an industry-wide upgrade congruent with the digital standards set across other sectors? So perhaps the most critical question of all – just how much is your old venue management technology potentially costing your property?
With the modern hoteliers in mind, we’ve created a two-part series to tackle these very questions head-on:
Catering to the Modern Event Planner
Large-scale resort properties especially experience mounting pressure to maintain occupancy rates during the off-season (and shoulder season). Fortunately, these resorts often have a revenue-generating advantage to rely on – venue space – and the capacity to host and attract events and meetings of various size and scale. Whether a convention, tradeshow, bachelor or bachelorette party, wedding, or corporate meeting, events can represent a lucrative travel segment that is far less reliant on high-season timing. However, those hotels are hard-pressed to truly capitalize on that revenue stream without the right tools in place to empower the group segment and effectively market to modern event planners. And when it comes to marketing venue space, planner perception absolutely matters. With planners becoming increasingly sophisticated and digitally-savvy, they possess the power to be more selective in those properties they favor. As such, those hotels which cater to their desire for a more up-to-date process model will surely thrive in comparison to those who remain stuck in the past. Let’s consider the following:
– 61% of consumers think a company is outdated if they are using an operating system that is more than four years old
– More than 80% of customers will leave a business’ website and abandon an online purchase if the site is outdated
– 57% of consumers agree that small businesses that use modern technology are more competitive in the marketplace
– About half (49%) of planners use the internet as the primary way of finding an event venue
– Event professionals list “session descriptions” and “schedule building” as the most important features of their mobile apps
Now, more than ever before, it is imperative that hotels shift away from the often painstaking manual processes associated with the traditional group booking process to embrace a more streamlined and tech-savvy solution. The modern planner wants to book online, and to do this they require prospective venues to readily offer live availability, virtual tours, customizable packages, instant, online RFPs, online payments and so much more. Tight deadlines should no longer be a point of contention, as hotels can finally advertise their venue space on an online marketplace that effectively showcases all the details a planner requires to vet and book that property.
While we are speaking to the modern event planner, we can’t ignore the increasing influence of millennial planners across the group travel segment. Born from 1981 to 1996, millennials represent today’s (and tomorrow’s) group travelers and, respectively, group planners. Let’s consider the following statistics:
– Studies indicate that 85% of meetings are unmanaged. Often, millennial assistants are doing the planning.
– 58% of millennials prefer to travel with friends, and that is 20% more than older generations
– 81% of millennial organizers desire real-time inventory and pricing and 83% want self-service
With impressive buying power and an unrivaled understanding of the ongoing digital evolution, hoteliers’ ability to cater to their booking preferences is paramount. Unsurprisingly, the millennial generation is hyper-connected, spending an average of 25 hours per week online. As such, it’s no surprise that planners from this generation crave a digital, hyper-efficient booking experience. And if one property doesn’t provide that desired booking model, surely those millennial planners and organizers will take their business elsewhere.
Ready to re-invent your group booking process? Stay tuned for part two of this series.
About the Author
Lauren Hall is the award-winning Founder and Chief Executive Officer of iVvy. Lauren is a passionate entrepreneur with more than 25 years’ business management experience at Executive and Board level, successfully building multiple companies from startup to strategic and financial exit. With a background in programming, accounting and marketing, Lauren’s expertise spans manufacturing, retail, advertising and technology industries in both South Africa and Australia.
She co-founded iVvy in 2009, overseeing our growth to 1,000 clients in 13 countries and expansion to New Zealand, Asia, Europe and North America.
Ernst & Young recognized Lauren as a future global leader of industry through the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women Asia-Pacific program for 2016. Lauren won three International Silver Stevie Awards for Entrepreneur of the Year Globally 2016, Innovator of the Year 2016 and Entrepreneur of the Year Asia Pacific 2016 and recently was named Gold Coast Business Woman of the Year 2016.
iVvy offers meeting planners the ability to search, compare, book and pay for function space, catering and group accommodations online, 24/7. By providing conference centers, hotels, restaurants and cruise lines with an integrated revenue management and distribution platform, iVvy equips Venue Operators with the tools they need to manage inquiries on any device, anywhere. With enhanced reporting and analytics, Venues are provided with greater visibility over their business so they can yield their meetings & event spaces to maximize revenue.
With offices in 5 countries and a global team providing support 24 hours a day, iVvy’s groundbreaking, cloud-based software offers scalable solutions that tackle core issues faced by the travel, MICE and events industry, and continues to service the world’s leading hospitality groups, major corporations, travel companies, government offices, associations, universities and nonprofits.