THE NEXT-GENERATION RETAILING OPPORTUNITY

Technology continues to drive innovation in the sector

Clinton Anderson, EVP of Sabre and President of Sabre Hospitality Solutions, recently participated in a keynote panel at the ITB Berlin Convention on the future of hospitality and tourism in times of Arti cial Intelligence. We asked him what the key stakes are in the hospitality industry today and heading into the future in this respect.

Technology has transformed how all of us connect to everything – to friends and family, businesses, service providers… you name it. Obviously, the hospitality industry is no exception, and consumers are looking for new tools to enhance their travel experiences. As a result, travellers’ expectations are higher and more diverse than ever. This means that an individual and personal approach can be a significant success factor and differentiator for hoteliers.

HUMANITY WILL ALWAYS BE ESSENTIAL FOR SUCCESS IN THE ACCOMMODATION SECTOR

How do you de ne next-generation retailing?

We de ne next-generation retailing as the opportunity for hotels to shift from being room-centric businesses to entities that sell and monetise every aspect of a trip, from meeting spaces to early check- in, to mugs and umbrellas as souvenirs. This transformation is quite radical for hoteliers. It demands enablement through deep retailing technology to sell any item or service, just as easily as selling rooms at different rates today. A pivotal element of these retailing capabilities is to encode every sellable entity—room, spa appointment, dinner package, event ticket—as a merchandising unit, just like any typical retail business.

In luxury hotels, it’s a fine line as to what “human touch” can be taken away. How can we work that issue out?

There’s a big opportunity to focus on high-value engagement with digital technology, which helps optimise, but is not replacing human services. It actually allows humans to engage in more personal ways, in ways that only humans can. Humanity will always be essential for success in the accommodation sector, particularly in the luxury hotel space. Data analytics, machine learning and automation are really just positively supporting the efficiency of human services. Scalable technology can take care of the work behind the scenes.

What will AI bring to hotels in the coming decade and how is Sabre working on this?

Built-in machine learning algorithms process vast troughs of data from reservations, guest pro les, and purchase history to dynamically determine and rollout best offers to guests via appropriate channels in the right sort order. Through machine learning, hoteliers will be able to dynamically optimise pricing and create packages and offers based on unforeseen events. Further combined with guest personalisation, hoteliers will be able to target and engage guests thoughtfully, at different stages of their travel journey, with the most relevant products and services to meet their unique needs.

Photo: Clinton Anderson EVP, Sabre & President, Sabre Hospitality Solutions