Platform thinking has fundamentally changed consumer experience across every industry. According to Vox, Uber conducted research in global markets to measure how long consumers were willing to wait for a ride. Over twelve months, consumer patience with waiting decreased by 30%. Uber, a platform company, requires a complex data set "interwoven" with an AI algorithm to deliver the nearest car in the shortest amount of time. Delivering on technology and experience at this elevated level changes the "way all industries are expected to work." Hotels are no exception.
For hotels, delivering on changing guest expectations requires more than one single platform. Hotels have long conflated the idea of a platform with one central system that underpins the operation, most notably the PMS. From there, most properties have stitched products together to solve other business needs. Many PMSs have attempted to integrate some of these product pieces into the platform (i.e., guest texting apps, mobile check-in, housekeeping turnover, and so forth). However, to meet evolving guest expectations, hotels must take a platform strategy instead of purchasing products piecemeal. For instance, upselling tools have long been sold as either a product that can be purchased for a specific phase of the guest lifecycle, most often during the online booking phase, or a service in which staff is trained to anticipate guest preferences and coached on delivery. This disjointed approach creates inconsistencies in offer presentation and pricing, with no way to link data or performance, or strategy. However, creating an upselling platform strategy generates a consistent and reliable approach to generating conversions and revenue from the very first point of contact and throughout the stay.
The term platform has achieved some amount of ubiquity in the last decade, with the rise of B2C, platform-driven companies like Airbnb. Harvard Business Review recently defined a platform saying, "Products produce a single revenue stream, while platforms—which we define as intermediaries that connect two or more distinct groups of users and enable their direct interaction—can generate many." In this case, a platform serves as a foundation that allows a variety of services to reach a diversity of users. Examples include Uber, which connects those who need a ride with those who can provide one, Amazon, which connects sellers with consumers, or the iPhone marketplace, which gives users access to a wide array of apps.
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