Guest Post: A digital maturity strategy without a focus on the customer is a missed opportunity

Guest Post: A digital maturity strategy without a focus on the customer is a missed opportunity

Tim Davis, managing director of research and management consulting company PACE Dimensions, says businesses should strive to compete and excel in new ways

Digital maturity is both one of the most used and misused terms in recent years across the travel and hospitality industry. 

The challenge for businesses is that commonly the level of innovation and change invested in digital maturity to address a challenge, in fact doesn’t go anywhere near far enough. 

Those embracing digital maturity run the risk of not grappling the full force of the issue and opportunity by looking for solutions that improve one area of a business. 

Instead, digital maturity needs to truly transform the whole business and operating model in order to be truly successful. 

Most travel and hospitality businesses are focused on distribution and selling. Therefore, many investments and improvements are channelled into these areas. 

However, these functions often don’t address making measurable operational productivity gains or providing a far better travel and stay experience for the customer.

To fully embrace digital maturity and maximise business returns, approaches to ensuring digital maturity runs through every vein of an organisation must be thoroughly joined-up. 

The proposed solution should be answering the fundamental questions of ‘how do I drive improved productivity and growth?’, and ‘how do I appeal to customers more?’ at every stage.

Without these guiding principles, any investments will have only short-lived returns. 

To provide business stability and growth into the longer term, digital maturity enhancements should make a real difference to the guest experience in a way that matters, and in a way that guests truly care about. 

One area for important consideration is using technology to become attractive to different types of customers, and to make it easy for them to buy more of the things they value. 

This increases demand, a very important factor in an environment where overall demand will likely be restricted for some time. 

For example, most hotel brands make it relatively easy to book a room online, as long as you are happy to pay for the room, services and features the hotel has decided you want, and can check-in and leave at a dictated time.

But having the flexibility to book more precisely what a guest wants, when they want it, and pay for what they value, requires a different approach. One transaction doesn’t appear to be able to do it all, yet. 

Booking and transaction platforms don’t currently take into account differing needs. 

Many features already bundled into a room rate could in fact be removed from the core cost, and sold as optional extras. 

This ensures guest have the choice to pay more for what they value, and to treat what are often viewed as essential services, such as daily housekeeping, as a paid-for additional service. 

In a market where travel is happening less frequently, this allows for more competitive room rates and has the potential for a greater number of bookings. 

More guests committing to a booking also provides for opportunities for upselling both before the stay and in-property. 

Of course, this is only possible if you have the right technology to make it intuitive and simple. 

Technology should enrich the experience, make it easier to access the services, and make everything more personalised. 

Importantly, one area where the travel and hospitality industry can really learn from the tech behemoths is having a service, empowered by technology, that can be infinitely scaled. 

For example, Uber’s app booking platform allows as many ride hails per minute as there are available cars, with the market responding to demand by more drivers registering on the platform. 

It doesn’t cost Uber any more to add this scale, in fact if demand goes up prices surge. Creating rapid scale allows businesses to truly transform and grow with their clients and partners. 

The key for successful recovery in these most difficult of times is for travel and hospitality businesses to maximise technology to allow them to think beyond selling what they have in front of them. 

Ambition and innovation need to be applied to transform a business, to find ways to be more productive and lower the cost base and in many cases to completely reinvent.

Digital maturity is a big part of the solution, but only when it is approached with a full understanding of the opportunities and value drivers open to an organisation. 

A successful digital maturity strategy should see a business compete and excel in new ways. Anything else is simply missing the opportunity. 

To download the Digital Maturity: How to Stay Ahead in a Transformed Industry whitepaper click here