e-Hospitality is an umbrella term that incorporates the entire range of information communication technology (ICT) applications in the hospitality area. ICTs penetrate at a fast pace, by integrating the hotel operation; reshaping the marketing function; improving total efficiency; providing tools for marketing research and partnership building; enhancing customer services while providing strategic opportunities. Consumers increasingly expect ICT-enabled communications and interactions before, during, and after their visit. Hotels will be unable to perform their operations profitably without using technology extensively. The emergent ICTs provide unprecedented opportunities for hospitality organizations, as they assist the promotion of properties to a wide range of institutional and individual buyers around the world. ICTs are increasingly recognized as a means of achieving competitive advantage for the hospitality industry. *
Managing internal operations
Hotels need ICTs to manage their inventory. Hotel chains in particular use group-wide systems to focus on the management for single properties as well as the distribution through a variety of electronic distribution channels. Most hotel properties around the world operate a property management system (PMS) that enables them to integrate their ‘back-office’ operations. As a result they can improve general administration, as well as specific functions such as accounting; marketing research and planning; yield management; payroll; personnel management; and purchasing at individual properties. Increasingly these functions move on Intranet platforms, improving interfaces and allowing easier employee training. PMSs were also introduced to facilitate the front office, sales, planning, and operation functions.
This was achieved by employing a computer reservation system (CRS) to administrate a database with all reservations, rates, occupancy, and cancellations (Frew and Horam, 1999; O’Connor, 2000). PMSs and CRSs facilitate the following business functions:
- Improve capacity management and operations efficiency
- Facilitate central room inventory control
- Provide last room availability information
- Offer yield management capability
- Provide better database access for management purposes
- Support extensive marketing, sales, and operational reports - Facilitate marketing research and planning - Enable travel agency tracking and commission payment
- Enable tracking of frequent flyers and repeat hotel guests - Allow direct marketing and personalized service for repeat hotel guests - Enhance handling of group bookings and frequent individual travelers (FITs).
The proliferation of the Internet supported the development of a number of additional electronic distribution options. These include direct bookings to the hotel; hotel chains’ own reservation central offices; independent reservation agents; hotel representation and consortium groups; airline CRSs and GDSs; hotel aggregators (such as Hotels.com) and destination management systems. For hotels to manage their distribution best they need two integral components, namely yield management and guest history. The yield management assists hotels to maximize both their occupancy and room rates contributing directly to their profitability. Revenue and yield management systems ensure that hotels optimize their revenue, by taking into consideration past and forecasted performance, as well as a wide range of additional factors. Revenue management systems are critical, particularly for large properties with numerous outlets and departments. Moreover, the guest history is effectively an early CRM software which records data for past guests and other intermediaries, assisting thepersonalization of the hotel. [hide] - [top]Interconnecting partner systems and extranets
Hotels develop partnerships with a number of intermediaries to expand their distribution network. Hotel chains have...