Hoteliers in Ireland are looking to technology to help boost visitor numbers, particularly from overseas.
According to a survey conducted by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) of hotel and guesthouse owners and general manager, released as part of their annual conference held in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Cavan today, capital investment projects in 2018 will include technology aimed at improving guest experiences and business operations.
One of the major barriers, particularly in rural Ireland, is broadband access, identified as a key area for investment – most visitors rarely travel without a smartphone, tablet or laptop. However, high-speed broadband requires investment and infrastructure that is often beyond the budgets and capabilities of individual businesses.
“Poor broadband infrastructure is costing rural hoteliers business across the leisure and corporate sectors. The drop in corporate business is of particular concern as its broader seasonal spread makes it a valuable source of business during off-season,” said outgoing IHF President Joe Dolan. “In many cases, the hotels most affected are still in the early stages of recovery, so any further delay in the roll-out of fibre broadband is a real worry.”
Technological investment goes far beyond a broadband connection – many hotels are bolstering their room offering with flat screen or smart TVs. However, Dolan notes that while many of these upgrades will be visible to guests, the most important innovations are and will take place behind the scenes.
“Technology has the potential to help us to automate and simplify operational tasks. It can help us improve how guests interact with our business – from booking a room, for example, to check in. This can help to improve efficiencies and free up staff for more one-to-one personal engagement with guests, which is critical to the delivery of best-in-class customer experience,” he said. “It can also assist us to drive down costs. Take energy conservation – smart thermostats, motion sensor lighting systems and energy efficient kitchen appliances all help to cut the cost of energy consumption. This contributes to better cost-competitiveness, which is essential in such a price-sensitive sector as ours.”