Hotelverse is a 3D immersive booking system for hotels. It allows customers to have an aerial view of the property and explore the building, as well as see, choose and book the room they like the most. The IT company has been awarded with different prizes, such as the “Best Customer Experience” at the Tourism Innovation Award 2020. In this interview, Alex Barros, Chief Growth & Innovation Officer at Hotelverse, tells us about the future of hotel bookings.
1. Digitalization seems to be a pending task for hotels, why do you think that they haven’t developed their digital businesses as other actors in the travel industry have?
Hotels have been inundated by the amount of tech available to them, it is often hard to understand what really adds value to hotels and to their assets. There is a world of opportunities with digitalization for hotels from revenue generation, revenue retention and transforming the experience of guests. Digitalization is imperative to the development of a strong value proposition for any hotel. The reason why this is a difficult task at hand is the fact that there are limited resources and a lack of integrations with many legacy systems that do not facilitate the process, in fact they create hurdles for the development of the digitalization of the industry. When you take it to what we do, many companies have tried and failed to achieve what we have achieved to enable hotels to evolve and offer guests the ability to choose their rooms and design their stays. It seems to be an obvious and natural ask from the consumer, as we are used to booking our seats on aeroplanes, theatres, football games and even if you want to go to space, you will get what you expected. The booking experience hotels provide currently to guests is non-authentic, non-specific and non-emotional. We are extremely well positioned as our platform was created within Iberostar, and we were able to iron out all the issues that came along the way. The tech stack for hotels and the distribution channels are still using legacy platforms, and this was the factor holding back the industry. We have managed to find a way to scale and make the value generated bigger than the costs associated with creating incredible customer experiences that deliver more engagement, better guest satisfaction and higher profitability.
2. For many, digitalization is simply having an online sales channel, but what are for you the key investments in IT that a hotel has to consider to be competitive nowadays?
There is an opportunity for hotels to take a quantum leap into the experiential digitalization that is an enabler to profitability for any hotel company. The tech stack that a hotel company has must enable them to move fast and integrate with new technologies that will empower them to better serve their customers. It should also add value to the guest experience and help hotels to provide a strong value proposition on their own channels, including pre-stay, in-stay and post-stay. The technology can provide a differentiated, specific and emotional experience to add value to the direct channel, making it more competitive.
3. Artifical Intelligence (AI) is changing the way we do things, how do you expect AI to change the hotel sector?
AI is changing the entire industry. The amount of data available is immense and without AI we cannot extract the value of all the data that is available. In our case, for example, we use AI to understand guest engagement, shoppers and guests’ preferences, as well as their choices. It also helps us to make sense of all that information to enhance the guest experience. We can understand the level of engagement each room generates for each room. This, in turn, gives hotels the ability to understand where there are yielding opportunities that will be converted into value and generate more profitability.