“ I run a 60 room hotel and cannot decide how hi-tech my reservations system should be. How do I decide”?
In the Strategy Clinic, we have frequently referred to the effects of IT on most aspects of hotel management. Ironically, the effects on the front desk and reservations departments – areas under constant technological bombardment have perhaps not been talked about so much. Plenty has been said about the ability of operators to package dynamically and for the lucky customers to exercise maximum choice, but the new technologies can actually disempower those whose role it is to offer a service.
Historically a head receptionist would allocate and reallocate rooms with the deftness and skill of a chess Grand Master. Today this task has been largely reduced to handing over the room key. Likewise, the Concierge previously the fount of knowledge when it came to top restaurants, prime theatre seats and other less savoury city-centre services now finds his opinion and expertise challenged by various Blogs each claiming to be the voice of democracy (will the cynic at the back who said the Blogs criticize properties where their parent companies cannot get decent allocations please leave now).
Another important point you raised is that you have sixty rooms. In terms of the industry therefore, you are a small player. This is not an insult (indeed small is often beautiful or at very least-boutique) but it is important because it is my belief that modern systems favour the bigger players simply because they are expensive to install and to maintain. Most hotels the size of yours – particularly if they attract tourists, eschew investing in a costly system and tend to allow third party websites and wholesalers to flog the standard rooms (at a low price-naturally) while they hold onto the rooms-with-views and family suites to sell to the highest direct bidder. As a strategy, it’s about as good as you can hope for.