Digital isn’t about technology
Digital isn’t about technology
07 MARCH 2018 1:20 PM

If you’re constantly chasing the “latest and greatest” without integrating those into a more thoughtful, strategic approach, you’re really just chasing your own tail.

I don’t know about you, but I’m done hearing about the tech that will save the day for hoteliers.

Almost every day another topic enters our lexicon of trending terms that will undoubtedly break the backs of intermediaries and upstarts. AI, blockchain, chatbots and a host of other technological marvels claim they’ll completely upend the status quo and return hotel marketers to their rightful place at the top of the mountain. Just recently, Airbnb announced it will now accept—for a modest fee—hotel listings alongside your nephew’s spare air mattress and those undersold condos down the block.


Now, don’t misunderstand me. I believe most of these platforms and technologies offer opportunities to improve how we connect with guests.

Artificial intelligence already plays an enormous role in shaping how we find, attract and convert customers not just in the future, but today. 

Blockchain represents an exciting foundational technology that may disrupt business every bit as much as the internet has.

Chatbots offer the potential for guests to access information they need in simple spoken language while reducing the heavy overhead associated with contact centers (though, admittedly, not without introducing some substantial overhead of its own).

Even the Airbnb announcement likely represents an effective, low-cost distribution channel for your unused hotel inventory.

Those all are positive developments—ones you should put to work for your property, but only when and where appropriate.

We’ve got to stop pretending that some mythical, magical event exists—can exist—that will disrupt OTAs, restore sanity to inventory and yield management, and return hotel owners and operators to their rightful place atop the distribution landscape. As stated so eloquently in a recent television commercial: “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.”

The only way you regain control of your distribution and marketing is to, y’know, take control of your distribution and marketing. It’s to take the time to understand the changing needs and behaviors of guests, to uncover the best sources of revenue and profitability for your property, to focus on providing guests differentiated service, and to develop a plan that connects those with effective processes for finding, attracting and converting customers to loyal, repeat business for your hotel. 

You’ll see any number of sources out there selling FUD—Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt—around whatever the sexy tech du jour happens to be. “You’re not using [insert their propriety platform or process]?!?” they’ll say, aghast at your lack of knowledge (or, more likely, aghast at the fact you’ve yet to cut them a check). “Oh, no. Well, I guess you can survive in this environment without it, but, I’d hate to see where you end up.”

That’s not helpful. It increases confusion, decreases understanding and only really helps those selling services that way. More importantly, it diverts you from building and following an effective plan. Don’t listen to that. Instead, listen to your guests. Learn what matters to them throughout their journey. Then use only the technologies that help you improve their overall experience.

Yes, it can be fun to play with new tech. And your plan should accommodate testing new ideas, new channels and new opportunities. But if you’re constantly chasing the “latest and greatest” without integrating those into a more thoughtful, strategic approach, you’re really just chasing your own tail.

So, sure, listen to what’s happening with technology. Understand how it affects guests throughout their journey and how it can help you create a positive experience for your guests. But keep your carts and horses in the right order; use technology to support your overall strategy, not in place of that strategy. After all, when you take care of your guests, helping them throughout their journey, meeting their needs, that’s where the real magic happens.

Tim Peter helps hotels and resorts put digital to work to grow their business. Since 1995, he has developed innovative e-commerce and digital marketing programs designed to increase sales and revenues. An expert in e-commerce, digital strategy, and marketing execution, Tim focuses on influencing customer behavior and delivering business results for companies worldwide. Prior to founding hospitality digital marketing strategy consulting firm Tim Peter & Associates in 2011, Tim led the world’s largest hotel franchisor and the world’s premier independent luxury hotel representation firm in using digital to help hotels and resorts around the globe drive billions of dollars in revenue. He can be reached at or 

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