We’re in a world where advances in technology are rapid and this leads to more and more automation which can feel a little overwhelming at times. But how should we approach and evaluate these changes? Automation is simply the application of technology to run processes. But do these automations bring the benefits claimed like efficiency, accuracy, revenue increases, improved competitiveness, lower costs, happier guests and even reduced stress levels?
So how do you assess these benefits? Usually, the simple question is, “Could I do it better myself and if so, how much time would that take?”. The answer is usually you can probably do it yourself just not as well and at a significant cost to your time. Valuing your time is the key here. What else could you be doing with your time that a machine could not…like talking to guests, preparing food, looking for new marketing opportunities etc?
Measure these against the cost of automation remembering that there are costs to adopting automations that aren’t just the price, it’s learning how they work and the best way to implement them for your business. From our perspective the challenge is about how we build these automation tools in a way that makes them accessible i.e. super easy to understand, evaluate and implement in a cost positive way.
What’s also interesting is who adopts the automations. Our experience shows that the most successful people (and their businesses) are generally the first to try them out. So what differentiates these people and their businesses? It is probably that they are just more curious and always looking for new ways or different ways to improve things. That curiosity is a hallmark of an open mind, one that seeks to ask questions and analyse (benefits versus costs) then to actually take the odd risk. It is sounds obvious, but these characteristics have probably underpinned every successful business long before this level technology was available.
If you think of your guest’s journey end to end from searching, booking, staying through to post stay you can see where automations are having an impact. Here are a few examples.
This is the most widely adopted automation, it improves efficiency, reduces errors and removes double bookings. You also have more control over your channels to close out availability on specific channels over certain dates and have different rates in different places… to ensure your direct rate is always better.
This automatically adjusts prices using your occupancy, market demand and how quickly you’re filling up – solving that age old problem for so many small businesses of “how do I set my prices?” Most small businesses under-value and therefore under-price their services, losing them a lot of money. Read more here.
Card details are checked, stored, transferred and used with little or no human intervention. These efficiencies have also reduced costs through lower transaction costs, pay as you go models (no monthly minimums) and even the removal of hardware fees.
Messaging systems and apps now create more direct ways to engage with guests helping to share and collect information. For much of this you do not actually have to do anything apart from set it up once and then let the scheduler send them out on your behalf.
These tools get you more great reviews posted in the right places (i.e. Google, TripAdvisor etc). They even protect your reputation further by filtering out bad feedback and keeping it off public sites.
The number of automations is only going to increase as technology becomes more deeply embedded in our daily lives. They are also becoming more connected so using them alongside each other brings incremental benefits e.g. Google and Channel Manager, where featuring your direct rate next to the channel rates is easy and you close out channel availability on busy dates yet still feature available on Google. This is smart use of automations to ensure competitive advantage.
Some people fear that automations lead to a loss of the personal touch and control, yet from the example above you can see that you get more control of your sales channels. Guests also view automations as personal and they even free up your time to be even more personal, making the stay not just a great one but an amazing one.
All these tools are just automations that improve revenue, increase efficiency, reduce costly errors, improve competitiveness and ultimately reduce stress.
If I look back over the 24 years we’ve been in business I know 100% that if we didn’t exhibit curiosity and an open mindset (when it comes to change) alongside a willingness to try some things out… we simply wouldn’t be here!
Expect to see more automations from us…