Forget AI — it’s a new generation of hotel general managers that’s transforming the hotel industry
When it comes to the tech revolution in the hotel industry, everyone talks about AI and big data. But there is another force driving change which gets far less coverage and is far more human — a new generation of hotel managers.
Traditionally a hotel general manager (GM) may have been raised through the ranks of food and beverage (F&B). Nowadays however GMs come with more formal academic backgrounds in business schools, fully prepped on the power of data and technology. These business-minded professionals are focussed much more on strategic thinking and new technologies, sometimes even coming directly from tech roles themselves.
Increased demand for tech talent
Hotel schools are seeing more companies on campus looking for professionals with training in areas like digital marketing and business analytics. Job listing sites are noticing an increase in technology postings in the hospitality sector. And big chains like Hilton have added hundreds of technology roles in the last few years (140 in two years alone). All of which is no wonder perhaps when the World Economic Forum predicts 50% of companies in the travel industry will require an increased workforce due to new technologies by 2022.
From the techy perspective the hotel sector can be attractive because there is the possibility to make large-scale changes and achieve big wins in relatively short timescales. When combined with the perspective and power of a GM role, these changes can be sweeping and thoroughly transformative, engaging big data to empower bold business decisions going forward.
Increasingly this new generation of talent is transforming hotel management from just selling beds and food to creating agile businesses that use enhanced customer and market knowledge to make better decisions, more accurate predictions and ultimately maximise profit.
How are they doing this?
Data analytics is a huge push in the hospitality industry and increasingly managers are relying on the predictive power of big data to make decisions on room pricing, availability, special offers, upgrades and extras. Automated property management systems and revenue management systems that draw data from all aspects of the business allow rooms to be sold at the most effective rates while maximising the total revenue per available room (TREVPAR).
Automation is another key, with management looking to optimise staff time and capabilities by offloading repetitive tasks to computers. Smart keyless entry systems, automated check-in and check-out procedures, and automated booking engines are all becoming increasingly prominent. But the process of automation also extends to back room procedures with complex tasks like responding to email bookings now being performed by machine learning algorithms.
Perhaps the most important strategic step the new generation of hotel managers is looking to implement is the integration of the various legacy systems that have come burden the industry. Such integration can only be done with technical knowledge and GMs are increasingly looking to outsource the task to highly-skilled technology teams with in-depth industry knowledge that can do the job quickly and efficiently.
These are big goals and require forward thinking, strategic planning and bold decision making. Knowing your food and beverage may have been enough a few years ago but nowadays if you want to be a GM in the hotel industry it no longer cuts the mustard.