Today, you can plan a vacation in a matter of minutes thanks to technology-backed websites and portals.
--BY ANIL GOEL
In this digital era, when contact with technology is inevitable, any form of business can create disruption in the industry with the wise and clever use of technology. The hospitality industry, till a few years ago, was human intensive with every big and small player striving to provide quality services and amenities through its vast resource pool.
However, things are taking a major turn and the hospitality landscape is transforming. Nepal itself is at the cusp of a technology boom. With 4G cellular network technology being introduced in the country, there are endless opportunities and avenues available to the netizens today. For instance, ride hailing apps are changing the way people travel. There are food delivery apps bringing about a pervasive change in the food ordering and delivery experience. With technology further touching the hospitality experience, both locals and travellers can book a standardized and predictable accommodation in minutes at the touch of their phone in 2-3 simple steps. For companies, this is a great time to innovate and unleash their potential to not just meet the changing requirements of customers, but also to revolutionise old industries to make them relevant to the 21st century.
As we continue to make progress in artificial intelligence and machine learning, especially in the customer experience management segment, personalisation and responsiveness of tools and app features continue to improve dramatically. Today, you can plan a vacation in a matter of minutes thanks to technology-backed websites and portals. The power of decision-making with a click of a few buttons has empowered customers to create their own personalised experience. For the indecisive, there are chatbots with the omniscient AI technology to further ease the decision-making process.
Technology can also help dramatically modify established industry processes and throw surprising results. For instance, the OYO OS (Operating System) that involves a full suite of technologies that can help identify, track developments and transform every OYO hotel. Features on the guest experience end include facilitating express check in, check out. However, bigger benefits lie in ensuring online procurement and inventory management. The OYO OS further offers apps for housekeeping and regular room audits while introducing solutions for multiple hotel management aspects like expense management, staff training and engagement along with monitoring performance review and incentives for the hotel staff.
The Darwinian evolutionary theory, thus, holds true for business practices as well - more so since technology has emerged as the single-largest reason for change in the way we do things. While hospitality may not be the oldest industry in the world, humans, since the early ages, have been inquisitive about exploring new destinations and cultures. The hospitality industry, therefore, needs to embrace technology to adapt to the needs of the contemporary traveller. Implementing new age technologies allows us to deliver a highly personalised experience to customers while giving us insights on their preferences, travel patterns, expectations, among other parameters. We are further experimenting with speech recognition, natural language processing, deep learning and other AI techniques to improve guest experience at our hotels.
So, our core strength lies in the mix of technology and the wealth of expertise that we, at OYO Hotels and Homes, have amassed during this ambitious journey. Our understanding of the hospitality landscape in Nepal has led us to customise our tech offerings to better suit the region’s needs. As a rule of thumb, our strategy is focused towards utilising the power of technology not just to ensure superior guest experience, but also empower asset owners in the form of informed and fact-based decisions when it comes to managing and operating any property. Currently, we provide multiple app-based solutions to customers, employees and asset partners.
The utility of these solutions has led to faster growth and has had a profound impact on the hospitality sector. For instance, OYO’s in-house Property Manager app acts as an end-to-end solution for managing all the daily functions of the building – visibility on bookings, sales channels, customer requests, housekeeping, finances etc. Co-OYO is another app that helps asset owners get real-time information on the health of his hotel investment through visibility of cash flows, business performance, pricing, customer reviews and recommendations. OYO Optimus, the dedicated transformation app, helps OYO teams understand the transformation requirements of a building while giving cost estimates, budget in addition to assigning tasks and tracking the pace at which the process is taking place. It also enables overall visibility on the process to all the respective stakeholders including the hotel owner and the OYO teams.
Every OYO hotel located anywhere among the 500 plus cities and 10 countries where we are currently present is benefitting from our proprietary technological solutions that are driving the OYO growth story further every day. This is helping us save costs for our franchisees while driving efficiency and delivering high-quality, standardised hospitality experience to millions of guests worldwide - something that was never heard of in the hospitality industry so far.
AI, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Point of Sale (POS), Internet of Things (IoT), Meta Language (ML), cloud computing, voice and facial recognition, biometrics, robotics, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) aren’t just buzzwords but present us with a unique opportunity to bring about a paradigm shift in our sector as well as enhancing guest experience. In the days to come, scalable and robust tech DNA will catapult the hospitality industry on to another growth trajectory, perhaps at the speed of thought.
The author is the Chief Technology Officer at OYO Hotels and Homes, India’s largest hospitality company which has operations in countries including India, Nepal, Malaysia, UAE, China and Indonesia.