Surfing on the Digital Tsunami

A massive wave of digital innovations, tools and techniques is flooding the hotel industry, sweeping traditional management practices at such a speed and intensity that it has become a huge challenge for the top management, to adapt the organizational culture, resources and strategies to this shocking new scenario.

There should be no doubt that staying out of the digital wave means staying out of the business and, moreover, incorporating technological tools and practices without proper approach will certainly end up into unforgettable headaches and significant money loses.

So, here are my recommendations about how to deal  with this fantastic Tsunami:

  • Make sure that you have clear understanding and reliable metrics of your competitive gap (current performance versus goals-potential market position) in at least three key dimensions of your business: a) your product portfolio performance, b) your market reach and market competitive position and c) the commercial channels performance. Finally, you will need to precise by what means you will be able to convert your competitive strategy into specific actions.
  • Give the digital side of your business proper scale and assign enough, well balanced resources. Make your best effort to find a point of equilibrium between financing daily operational needs versus investments in digital innovations that will secure your future competitiveness. Make a critical review of expenses and investments eliminating “inertias” – i.e. the paradigmatic influence of previous allocation of resources – at the moment of preparation of your annual budgets.
  • Don´t underestimate the importance of having qualified staff to manage the digital marketing efforts. There are skills that should be considered as a “must have”:
    • Solid general marketing know how
    • Knowledge of the business performance of the hotel, and the general situation of the markets, competitors and industry
    • Conceptual understanding of essential digital tools and platforms: web performance – paid campaigns- online direct bookings and OTA´s
    • Ability to interact with external digital experts to become a bridge between the technical language and the business needs
  1. Take your time to identify and contract proper consultancy. There are many techies wondering around, but just a few with the required skills to partner with your organization to add specific know how that cannot be covered by the staff. Look for the following profile:
  1. The provider demonstrates a full understanding of the industry and the property special characteristics, limitations, business objectives, target markets and past and current commercial performance
  2. Ability to elaborate clear performance indicators and a methodology to track them
  3. Ability to interact with internal M&S resources of the property: Reservations / Revenue Management / Sales to achieve a synchronized effort
  4. Ability to match property potential with industry standard performance, in order to recommend reasonable, affordable but challenging goals
  5. Ability to create effective / creative commercial content and to propose regular refresh of images / texts into the web and other platforms
  6. The provider should bring a proposal comprising regular analysis of performance, identification of weaknesses / needs of improvements in platforms contents and campaigns. Once problems and actions are identified, responsiveness in implementation is essential and the role of the consultant as coach to keep momentum becomes essential.
  • Assume that the digital environment has become part of the essence of your business, as well as it has become a natural part of the life of your guests.

Claudio Oliveira