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Hotels Told to Pay Heed to Young Clients’ Needs

By on Nov 12, 2015 in Hotel-Tourism, Property News

THE SO-CALLED millennial generation is the future demographic for the hospitality industry as it is set to outspend baby-boomers in hotels by 2017, says accounting firm Grant Thornton.

Hotel operators of all sizes have to embrace social media and other new technology that serve the needs of this group of customers in order to survive the rapid changes in the nature of hotels and their guests, it says.

Grant Thornton Thailand has urged Thailand to take urgent steps to improve the proportion of gross domestic product derived from its services sector, since manufacturing is unlikely to be the powerhouse of the Kingdom’s economic growth that it has been in the past.

“Technology is going to allow us to serve the customers better as well as to serve the future customers the way they want to be served, and ultimately they will bring all sources [sorts] of benefits, but I think that is the key,” Gillian Saunders, global leader for hospitality and tourism at Grant Thornton, said in an exclusive interview with The Nation.

“Nevertheless, the psychical physical hotel experience and the psychical physical experience is still a must,” she added.

Access to social media will provide new channels for revenue, and if hotels do not develop this online platform to interact with their customers and new technology to serve them better, they will lose out in terms of winning millennial customers. To some extent investment in digitalisation on their online reputation is more of a “defensive strategy”.

One of the examples is where smart mobile devices have presented a major opportunity for hotels to personalise the customer experience, but the sector is still lagging behind other industries, many of which are already using mobile technology to provide accessible, customised and relevant services.

Hotel companies that can deliver effective mobile-centric personalisation will become the brands of choice by 2020, Saunders said.

According to surveys, 46 per cent of millennials agree that being able to check in and out using a mobile device would motivate them to return, and 28 per cent of smartphone or tablet owners used a mobile device to research their last hotel stay, she said.

She explained that hotels needed to work to understand their guests’ requirements, making the most of big data to analyse and establish where personalisation through better use of mobile devices can really add value.

“It is all about striking the right balance between apps and technology, as well as human interaction, which is still highly valued,” she said.

Saunders also commented that the government’s investment in digital infrastructure, such as the fourth-generation wireless platform, was important, since it would support the digitisation of hotels.

Grant Thornton Thailand says the country’s hotels and restaurants saw more growth than any other businesses in the services sector, with 18.7-per-cent expansion in the second quarter of 2015 year on year.

A total of 24.36 million tourists arrived in the first 10 months of 2015, a 24.75-per-cent year-on-year increase, with the expectation that arrivals will be well over the Tourism Ministry’s target of 28.8 million this year, the firm said.

Tony Chisholm, general manager of Pullman Bangkok Hotel G, said in a panel discussion yesterday that creating partnerships with local Internet and communication-technology firms was “absolutely crucial” for a hotel to embrace new technology, while data collection on social media and after services was important for a hotel’s reputation.

Erick Stephens, chief technology officer for Microsoft Asia Pacific, said in his presentation that hotels have to connect digitally and empower their staff with technology to maximise the benefits from data collection and technology, while business insights are critical to compete in the digital era.

Chisholm also commented that free Wi-Fi, interactive digital television and various room automations or the “alienation of lobby” from the use of technology would become the norms in the future.

Looking for Thailand Hotel Investment

Source: The Nation – 12 November 2015

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