How far can hotels grow and stay relevant with blockchain’s ever-evolving advancements?
Blockchain and AI, more specifically smart contracts, will revolutionise the hotel industry through a multitude of changes. Guests are incorporating their everyday use of mobile devices into their hotel experience and blockchain will be the cincher in engaging across the touchpoints of the “always addressable customer”.
With the presence of Home Away and AirBnb among other home-sharing options, hotels will need to bridge the technology adoption gap, to capture their audience share and for want of being irrelevant.
Harvey Norman, hospitality advisor and director at Hospitality Tech Guru says in an interview with Medium that hotels will need to evaluate the challenges of adopting blockchain technology carefully. “However, there will be the cost of installing the new technology that hoteliers need to consider before giving up traditional ways altogether. This will include hiring the right talent, investing in new tools and training the right people <…> Since the bitcoin will disturb the medium for OTAs <…>, hoteliers are expecting to face some resistance. However, most experts agree that it will be a win-win situation for hotels and OTAs.”
At the Infinity and Beyond Travel Trade Show, one of the leading luxury travel international trade shows, this view was echoed by Mike Ghasemi, travel, retail and hospitality chief analyst. The blockchain’s potential to strengthen the industry is unbridled, ranging from simplification of payment processes, tightening data security to seamless collaboration between travel players.
Here, we examine some of the ways in which blockchain technology is giving hospitality a boost in competence and productivity as well as the ways in which it is optimising information, user experience and customer engagement.
Optimising workflow and broadening the customer experience
From consideration to booking, blockchain will be a useful workflow optimisation tool and ideal for enhancing the customer experience. Processes can be sharpened through capturing customer pain points while analytics lend a personalised approach to customer needs.
Samantha Ahuja, partner at a hospitality and commercial real estate development firm, says there are plenty of growth opportunities by having blockchain adopted for the hospitality industry. “You can use blockchain to create more secure IDs, shoring up security within a brand’s loyalty programme, as well as to track baggage or manage your supply chain,” says Ahuja.
“Customer data unification will be the main competitive advantage for the hospitality sector. This will enable them to personalise their service according to customer transactional data. In addition, blockchain will bring security as all data is centralised and traceable which can be important when dealing with financial transactions,” says Mike Ghasemi on how blockchain can carve a competitive niche for the hospitality sector.
Creating credibility for hotel reviews
Unfair or fake hotel reviews hurt a hotel’s brand and give strikes against its reputation. In an era of multiple review platforms, anyone is able to write and post reviews, regardless of whether they’ve actually stayed there.
Fake reviews give a far-fetched portrayal of the resort or hotel and often mislead guests with their expectations. These cause reviews to be read with a pinch of salt as consumers are unsure of their accuracy.
Some blockchain-developed online review platforms, such as Revain and Lina.review, incorporate blockchain to make their online reviews transparent and reliable. In this gesture, hotels are then more credible and proactive with adapting their guest experience – making concessions should it be disappointing.
Elevating and refining the user experience with loyalty programmes
A nimble loyalty programme makes decision-making easier for consumers in using their access points. As tokens are offered in a digital form, these will be used at the consumers’ convenience and allow them to respond to touchpoints they relate to. The holiday-goer’s experience can also be cohesive through a partnership between hotels, airlines, car rentals and tour guides.
Tokens can also be used to manage the feedback loop. Incorporating blockchain technology will allow the hospitality industry to link independent or unrelated hotels in a similar league. An unparalleled customer experience is also within grasp as back end functions get ramped up, delivering more continuity.
Smarter contracts for enduring partnerships
There exists a widening gap between hotels and travel agencies where their mutual strengths are not complemented. A smart contract helps at driving a partnership, which can tighten the links between hotels and travel agencies. Blockchain work at breaking down a transaction but providing better interoperability between travel agencies and hotels hence driving hikes in room bookings.
“The main benefits of blockchain centre on booking transactions and property management. Since hotel room is one of the most dynamically configurable inventory (due to their shortest lease lengths and high number of guests), hoteliers are arguably one of the strongest contenders in the hospitality market for effective blockchain application. Here are some of the ways in which hotel operators could benefit from applying blockchain to their technology ecosystem: smart contract, smart identity and verified trust,” says Mike Ghasemi.
Enhancing digital identification for travelling
Political unease tends to affect hotels the most extensively. From the terrorist attacks at the Oberoi in India to the Intercontinental in Kabul, you can never be too complacent about hotel security. Be it boarding flights, booking hotel rooms or checking in as a guest, identity theft is rampant and easily forged. Blockchain introduces digital IDs that use cryptographically secured codes to validate a person’s identity. The digital IDs secured on a blockchain are impossible to alter or remove and prevent attempts at forging guest identities.
Using competitive intelligence for growth
Blockchain has the ability to trawl, sift and lock databases that can then help drive your business’ growth strategy. For example, mapping demographics and internalising local review data will help you determine what type of hotel is best constructed and the types of facilities, features or amenities that best suit your targeted guests.