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Independent hotels leverage tech to improve operations, cut costs

06/23/2021| 11:29:29 AM| 中文

Technology evolves, but hoteliers need to innovate while still focusing on each individual's needs and wants.

Not having to adhere to brand standards has given independent hotels an advantage in trying out new types of technology to save on costs and make operations more efficient.

Speaking during the "Owner-Operator Growth Strategies" session at the online 2021 Boutique Hotel Investment Conference by the Boutique Lifestyles Leaders Association, Rob Blood, founder and president of Lark Hotels, said his company has started to integrate technology in a more comprehensive way that allows it to do things better.

Revenue management is one area where Lark has leveraged tech to make operations more efficient, and that has helped the company work through staffing challenges, he said.

"If you have two hotels that share revenue management, it's probably $40,000 a year for each hotel," he said. "To drive the value of the asset, you can't have two hotels sharing a revenue manager. Having a robust, dynamic pricing tool ... and having a couple people manage that core portfolio is much more possible now than it was 10 years ago."

Independent hotels have more freedom to leverage technology because they don't have proprietary tech like the hotel brands do, said Ray Martz, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, during the "View From the Chief Financial Officer’s Desk" panel at the online event.

"We prefer that because [we have] more of an open architecture," he said. "It's more flexible, it's not as costly and the technology tends to be newer and better."

Cost-Effective Tech

Hilda Delgado, chief financial officer for Viceroy Hotel Group, said technology allows boutique hotels to be more sensitive to costs.

It's harder to try out different systems with big-box hotels that have multiple restaurants and a spa component, she said, adding that boutique hotels tend to be smaller and yet have more opportunities to test different technologies.

Tech innovations might prove to be cost-effective over time but require some trial and error, said Jason Altberger, chief investment officer of Sage Hospitality Group, during the "View From the Chief Investment Officer's Desk" panel.

For example, Sage Hospitality tested robots that vacuumed rooms and found that while they didn't work well in guest rooms, they did do better in banquet spaces "because you have a banquet and then you take the tables away and turn the robots loose overnight or in the morning," he said.

Balancing Traveler Needs, Wants

Technology evolves, but hoteliers need to innovate while still focusing on each individual's needs and wants, Altberger said.

Some guests want a contactless experience where they check in on their phone and use mobile key without ever speaking to someone while others just get to the hotel and go to the front desk. It's important to offer both options, Altberger said.

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TAGS: travel technology | independent hotels
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