March 06, 2019
By Brian Chee

It’s getting to the point where technology is a part of just about everything. In fact, it’s practically a required part of facilitating and managing events — whether through improved communication with attendees, by streamlining operations, or through a digitally connected and immersive experience.

For hoteliers and venue managers, change driven by tech innovation is a constant and will stay that way. Savvy managers should stay abreast of current trends, understand how it applies to their group business, and move forward in a strategic way. Here are just two examples that span the experience — and the operation — of events:

Say What? Intelligent Technology Is Part of the Experience

In just a few years, artificial intelligence (AI) has gone from being a Hilton concierge robot named Connie to the basis on which voice technology now stands, ready to change the world — one verbal command at a time.

That’s not hyperbole. According to a report published by Canalys in 2018, the number of installed bases will reach 225 million units globally by 2020. What that means for hoteliers is simple: Planners and attendees will soon (if they don’t already) expect a voice-activated experience. Indeed, it’s a powerful value-add to the guest experience. According to Amazon, Alexa is already in many hotel rooms around the world, “deepening guest engagement through seamless voice-first experiences that offer new ways for guests to access services and amenities during their stay.”

Take note, however: Voice search relies on quality content written in a long-tail, or contextual, way and not based solely on keywords. That requires the creation of schemas around popular questions, which takes some time. When done, you have an ample repository of location-specific and helpful answers for customers.

Takeaway: Technology has the potential to transform hotel operations and the guest experience. Using such tools, however, takes data integrity, transparency, and ownership. Make sure you own your customer data and can utilize it to better serve your planners and attendees. Go here to dive deeper into voice technology.

Commission Cuts May Create a Direct Booking Pressure Cooker

Commission cuts for third-party planners may increase the need for hotel managers to direct-book more group business. Doing so creates an emerging technology need to keep the cost of acquisition low and the process efficient. According to a study done by Kalibri Labs and PwC, 2017 group room revenue totaled $30 billion in the U.S., and the cost of intermediaries accounted for about $1.3 billion — based on 43% of group room revenue being intermediated at a commission rate of 10%. The study also found that 40% to 60% of group business is intermediated at the point of sourcing and at other points prior to execution.

Commission cuts may cause hotel managers to direct-book more group business.

As the dynamic of changing commission structures unfolds and the industry adjusts to a new reality, it’s yet another case where technology designed to create operational efficiencies can help hotels adjust and take advantage.

Takeaway: With commission fees continuing to change in 2019, hotel managers should be thinking about lowering costs in order to handle the expense and operational complexities of more direct booking.

Technology is invariably driven by the search for answers to a problem of business or the customer experience. In that way, hoteliers should keep a weather eye on the horizon, as the business of meetings and events continues to look for ways to increase profitability and improve efficiency — while delivering the type of experience that planners and their attendees expect. Whether that includes a more widespread adoption of voice technology or a solution to a shift in the industry’s common practice, technology will always be at the forefront.

What’s Next?

Learn more about technology and other emerging trends in the group ecosystem: Download Cvent’s Eight Great Best Practice Tips and Trends eBook.

Brian Chee

Brian started out as a beat reporter in Los Angeles, covering pretty much anything newsworthy or interesting. It was a deeply formative experience — and one that has helped define his writing career. Since then, he's tackled everything that tells a story, from advertising to marketing, now as a Martech writer in the B2B space. Brian has enjoyed a diverse career of writing about topics including software, hospitality, automotive, digital marketing, and retail. 

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