Thought Leadership


How innovation in hotels can help build customer loyalty

Izzy Ashton

Assistant Editor of BITE


Equator - Smart hotels

In today’s world of AI and smart technology, it’s time for hotels to lead the way in embracing innovation. Never has so much technological capability been available at such low cost, with huge potential to build brand loyalty and to counter increasing commercial pressure from Online Travel Agents (OTAs).

As more hotel systems become cloud-driven, we are seeing a shift towards a customer-centric view and away from obese legacy desktop and server-based systems.

With open systems powered by customer data, machine learning and analytics, hoteliers can exercise customer data with more flexibility. At Equator, we work to intelligently connect these systems. There is now huge potential to deliver new forms of service through automation and machine learning, achieved through the connectivity offered by contemporary systems.

It’s this path to innovation that has the potential to free the hotelier’s reliance on OTAs and bring their market share down. And suggesting the transition from desktop to mobile could throw this all into jeopardy is telling only one side of the story.

Key take outs:

  • Exploiting mobile. A website connected to a smart CRM system with visibility of its location can tell you User X is currently in your hotel. It should then cross and up-sell services on-premise, not try and get another booking.
  • The power of good data. Relentlessly selling to the consumer and haunting them across devices will lead to disenfranchisement, no matter how personalised you make it. There must be a value exchange. If we don’t respect this, we risk losing that relationship altogether or having legislation come in and remove our right to try and own it.
  • Deepen loyalty. Now, customers are arriving at the hotel with the same device they made their booking on. This has the potential to finally give you greater insight into the look-to-book-to-stay journey in a way previously unavailable.
  • Modern machine learning. The next big innovation is machine learning and AI technologies. What was once the preserve of few is increasingly available to many. The consumer already benefits from this technology and they’re barely aware of it.
  • Chatbots. By embracing AI-driven chatbot technology, a two-star business can offer four-star service without the additional costs.


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    Richard Carroll, Business Development Director, Equator,

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