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OH Connect in San Diego: Day 2 Highlights

Louise Casamento
Sr. Director of Marketing, Oracle Hospitality

If perpetual change is the new “normal” for hospitality, what’s around the corner for hoteliers?

At Oracle Hospitality Connect, Skift Research, presented highlights from its 2020 Megatrends in Travel report and provided a glimpse:

  • More than 73 percent of Gen Z travelers say it is important to choose travel businesses that prioritize environmentally sustainable practices.
  • Smart, minimalistic design – responding to urban densification – will become a deciding factor for consumers making travel decisions.
  • Travelers increasingly will crave experiences that tie into their lifestyles, and the ability to deliver them will play a major role in earning loyalty.
  • And in an existential twist, it’ll be key to discover ways in a digital world to use technology and data to help consumers better connect with their “real-life” passions.

Connect, Oracle Hospitality’s premier industry event – held at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, Jan. 28-30 – assembled North America’s top hoteliers, industry experts and Oracle leadership. The forum serves to share technology best practices and address hospitality’s most-pressing topics – and the critical role Oracle solutions can play in tackling them.

Many of the trends identified by Skift require a greater reliance on technology to gain insights into consumer behavior, which, in turn, can be used to design personalized experiences that guests covet. In many instances, that means making interactions frictionless. Nowhere may this be more evident than on the payment front, where innovations can shorten wait time, improve security and enhance service.

“I think payments need to be taken more seriously as a strategy for creating better experience,” said Marija Nakevska, Adyen’s global head of hospitality.

Which explains why payment vendors are increasingly viewing cloud platforms as a way to better serve hoteliers, especially for their ability to address security concerns more effectively.

“PMS is on lockdown. (Hoteliers have) put their arms around them so nothing can get in here…. But what that has done is insulated us from innovation,” said Daryl Buss, vice president of enterprise business development for Shift4 Payments. “I think this movement to the cloud makes us all more nimble. Then, innovation has a chance to be adopted at a better rate simply because you’re not so on-premise oriented.”

OH Connect focused on delivering information and insights that matter most: understanding how to best use technology to improve operations, increase profitability and elevate the guest experience.

With hoteliers turning greater attention to food and beverage – because they believe its potential as a revenue source hasn’t yet been fully realized – Connect also focused heavily on the topic. Specifically, the event underscored Oracle Hospitality’s efforts to create a “unified guest experience” by ensuring that OPERA Cloud and Simphony Cloud point of sale work better together. Among such efforts: Simphony’s push to work with third-party delivery providers to execute omnichannel initiatives. Though offering delivery is unconventional for hoteliers, it’s proving effective in increasing revenue and exposure.

“We first tried to ignore it, but we learned we have to embrace it,” said Brenda Simonis, director of outlets for The Pfister Hotel – Marcus Hotels. “This encourages people who’ve never had our food before… it gives them a chance to try it, and some people have even come into our restaurant (as a result).”

At Viceroy Hotels & Resorts, Brian Chambers, director of IT, said: “We also just introduced Alexa into our hotels, and we want to integrate that into the F&B side. Alexa is here to stay; voice control is here to stay. We want people to be able to order room service from Alexa.”

Oracle Hospitality is well positioned to drive such innovation because it can leverage parent Oracle’s commitment and resources to the cause; since 2004, Oracle has invested more than $64 billion in research and development.

For Oracle Hospitality customers, that means having access to a broader offering of Oracle solutions. They include, for example, Oracle Marketing Cloud, which, through its integration with OPERA Cloud, can execute tailored push notifications to potential customers throughout their entire guest journey, efficiently courting them and engaging them upon booking.

And that’s just the beginning. Oracle is laser-focused on pursuing emerging technologies that’ll drive the guest experience, ranging from the Internet of Things to blockchain to digital assistants (more commonly known as chatbots). The latter, in particular, likely will resonate with hoteliers, according to Carlos Chang, Oracle’s senior principal product marketing director.

 

He shared the following statistic: By 2022, 70% of white-collar workers will interact with conversational platforms on a daily basis. Such widespread use is anticipated because chatbots will be so easy to use: There’s no need to download an app nor is it necessary to learn how to use them. Guests will only need to talk with chatbots, meaning hoteliers can reduce wait times, increase satisfaction, and free staff to tackle more value-add tasks.

Chang’s rhetorical question perfectly capped OH Connect – and underscored technology’s promise to hoteliers:

“Wouldn’t it be great to have an intelligent, conversational interface that can answer all the questions for you?”

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