Over the past few decades, there have been many attempts to adopt various technologies for tourism development, but very few have managed to become successful. Most of them are mostly limited to pilot projects or uncompleted prototypes. But one key sector in tourism that has been largely receptive to new technology is the hotel industry, which is also the sector that can benefit greatly from cloud computing technology.
It has been posited by analysts that the hotel industry’s current way of handling information and computer resources will soon be turned upside down with the migration to the cloud, regardless of the size of the hotels concerned. As is the case with firms, cloud computing can greatly lower the time requirements and cost of entry for hotels, as it gives a very pliable scale of computing power that can be distributed across different streams in a relatively short amount of time. It can also provide immediate access to hardware resources without needing any capital investments upfront.
However, like in any other industry, most hotels are using the cloud in conventional ways that prevents them from maximizing the potential of the cloud.
Common Benefits of Cloud Computing Technology
Cloud Computing Technology is no longer in its infancy (though the technology itself is still being innovated and polished, and will most likely further evolve in the future), so the industry has already gleaned a good picture of its primary benefits. With regard to the hotel industry, the cloud can help in the following ways:
1. It helps reduce costs and resources – since cloud services can be acquired on an “as needed” basis, hotels no longer need to invest a hefty sum at the forefront just to get a basic backend running, as they only need to pay for the exact amount of computing power and storage that they need.
2. It shortens the deployment process – another benefit of renting the service on an as needed basis is that the hotel management no longer needs to experience delays in the deployment, as the service is ready to use once they acquire it from the provider.
3. Strengthens security – since the data and critical information are all in the cloud, guarded by highly skilled staff of a provider that is ethically and financially obligated to maintain high security levels, and the fact that data is safe from physical damage due to the cloud provider having redundant and off-site backups.
4. Makes information accessible – another benefit of the cloud is that most of the grunt work that requires technical skills is already handled by the cloud provider, and customers only need to learn how to use the systems on an end-user level. This not only saves on training, it also allows even non-tech savvy people from the executive level to gain access to pertinent and mission critical data.
The Use of Cloud for Customer Service
A number of hotels have already begun to use cloud technology in order to improve the overall guest experience of their respective businesses. Some of these include improving time to market of new systems through affordable pricing, as well as being able to extend the life of their existing systems in order to gain competitive advantages in the hospitality industry. Some hotels are being more creative in employing a cloud-based guest Internet platform, which allows them to maximize revenue while providing a compelling guest experience.
Much as it helped in the overall quality of service, there is still some potentials that haven’t been tapped yet especially by smaller hotels.
- Data for a personalized service. Hotels are yet to learn on how to extract data and interpret it to provide each of their customer a personal service without having to spend a lot. Currently, regular high rollers in hotels can get the most personal service they can afford but those that rent the cheapest rooms also get an equivalent quality of service.
The fact is that there are a lot of data that may be collected that would make it possible for hotels to provide a more personal service without having to spend an extra dime. Knowing a customer’s health condition, for example, will allow hotels to cut down on cost of their buffet as they can serve only the dishes that customers may eat.
- Taking down geographical barriers. One of the many advantages of the cloud is the ability to make the world a smaller place. Information and services may now be extended to anyone in the world. Hotels may develop a more intimate connection with their customers if they only know how to utilize the cloud.
One of the weaknesses of the many hotels is their inability to stay connected with their customers after the customer left their hotel. The cloud may be help in allowing hotels to provide service to their customers even when they are not checked in.
- Providing total package. It is still amazing how many hotels miss on the opportunity to earn more by simply linking with other businesses. The cloud can provide many hotels the capacity to partner with travel agencies, offbeat recreational companies, entertainment companies and others.
More Practical Applications of the Cloud in Hotels
There are hotels who have found more practical – in the sense that it is easily visible to customers – uses for cloud computing technology. Examples of these include Spa and Salon appointment systems, POS and restaurant ordering systems that can be migrated to the cloud and accessed on a mobile phone, a PC, or a tablet, so that guests can start booking appointments or ordering food from the comforts of their rooms, so that everything will be ready by the time they reach the establishment.
At the end of the day, the main benefit of cloud computing technology for hotels rest on the laurels of cost-efficiency. The cloud’s ability to provide savings in the form of reduced spending on redundant hardware or unneeded manpower can be passed on to customers, or reinvested back into the business and used for improving existing services or adding new ones.
However, smaller hotels must learn how to use the technology to their advantage. It is the only way they can truly develop a faithful customer base and have a fighting chance against bigger hotels.