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Are smaller operators getting left behind?

A new study has found a widening technology gap between small and large hotels.

Chain hotels are nearly twice as likely as small independent properties to prioritise technology investments according to the Expedia Group-commissioned research.

The survey of 1200 hoteliers shows chain properties are 77 percent more likely to increase technology investments, while mum-and-dad operators rank room renovation higher on their improvements list.

Cost is the key barrier to technology adoption for many hoteliers, with nearly half of the small independent hotels surveyed indicating their technology investment decisions are based on affordability and value.

A perceived inability to master latest tech is also driving the disparity, one-in-four operators of small independent hotels surveyed saying complexity is their biggest challenge when adopting technology, with one in three saying ease of use is a priority when evaluating solutions.

In contrast, more than half of the chain hotels prioritise technology that integrates with their existing systems.

“The fact that small independent properties are 1.5 times as likely as chain hotels to prioritise room renovations indicates a gap in technology investment strategies among different hotel sectors,” says Expedia Group.

“Reliance on technology is becoming increasingly important in the lodging industry as hotels begin to recognise how they can gain key competitive advantage with strategic technology investments.”

The study leveraged data from Expedia Group’s global hotelier panel to compare technology spending between chain hotels and small independent properties.

Chain hotels are classified as properties self-selected as part of a chain affiliation or group of properties with more than 100 rooms, while small independent properties are classified as properties with no chain affiliation and 100 rooms or less.

“We’re witnessing chain hotels place significant investments in technology, which opens the potential for a greater divide between properties that are not able to match those investments,” said Alex Moxey, director of market management for Expedia Group.

Brendon Granger, founder of Technology 4 Hotels, agrees. He told AccomNews: “Based on my experience, their findings about both technology and the prioritisation of room renovations for small independent properties are true. Renovations in smaller independent properties are often done room by room or a couple of rooms at a time.

Pointing out that larger hotels tend to have owners and operators with deeper pockets and investment plans which factor in renovation costs, he said: “I think it’s a factor of the size of the management team. In a smaller property, it’s an owner/manager versus in a larger hotel, a team to handle things.”

Mr Moxey points out technology has “the power to level the playing field for hoteliers of all sizes”, but it seems the cost and complexity of implementation is increasingly putting latest developments out of reach for less cashed-up operators.

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Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions: editorial@accomnews.co.nz

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