Fundamental Need for Expansion of Technology Footprint

Todd Davis, CIO, Choice Hotels
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Todd Davis, CIO, Choice Hotels

Companies today, in order to stay competitive must put a particular emphasis on cutting edge technology. This is of specific relevance to the hospitality industry. As such, the expansion of our technology footprint is fundamental for Choice Hotels. We want to ensure we provide cutting edge, flexible and mobile options for guests and franchisees alike as technology rapidly evolves.

From websites, to mobile, to tablets, the rapid pace at which technology is evolving has changed the way customers book their reservations, and it’s critical for companies to stay abreast of these trends. If not they risk losing their edge and more detrimentally, their customer base.

The “millenials” are the largest generation in our history and have to engage with them on their terms, if we are to succeed in converting the business. This is an industry agnostic proposition. Using technology is the most effective means to engage this massive customer base.

Social media is also redefining our industry. At Choice Hotels, guests can now engage with hotel representatives in real time through Twitter and Facebook, advising us of their experience. In this environment it is critical that we are timely and responsive. That is the nature of social media and we need to act accordingly.

Research indicates that booking decisions for 81 percent of consumers are influenced by comments posted on review websites.  In response, we launched an online verification system for Choice Hotels. The system ensures that only individuals who have actually stayed at one of our properties are able to post a review on our website, providing consumers with an added layer of authenticity. Unlike other sites, guests posting reviews on Choice Hotels are asked to provide their booking confirmation number to verify their stay at the hotel and thereby provide potential guests with the added confidence they need to make their booking decision.

At Choice Hotels, across our portfolio of brands we offer free Wifi to guests because this is something customers demand. Furthermore all of our Cambria Suites properties feature Media Hub technology that allows hassle-free Internet connectivity for a variety of electronic devices during their stay.

The way people are making hotel reservations is constantly changing. We want to ensure that we provide cutting edge, flexible and mobile options for guests and franchisees alike as technology rapidly evolves. Two great examples of initiatives Choice has made to provide flexible and mobile booking options are, first our partnership with Trip Advisor’s new Mobile Assisted Book app and mobile site. Through this new program, guests can book on TripAdvisor’s Mobile Assisted Book at Choice Hotels’ properties without redirecting to our website, streamlining the reservation process.

“Booking decisions for 81 percent of consumers are influenced by comments posted on review websites, indicates a research”

The other initiative is Choice Hotels’ RapidBook, which enables travelers using mobile devices to make reservations quickly and easily on the Choice Hotels mobile site by eliminating the need to fill in information and credit card numbers on a tiny phone screen. Users simply enter their information one time when completing their online profile. After that, they’re ready to book quickly through the Choice Hotels mobile website.

Perhaps most importantly, we are diversifying into the technology business with our SkyTouch Technology division. SkyTouch boasts the most widely distributed cloud-based property management system in the lodging industry today. We believe that launching SkyTouch Technology as a separate line of business apart from our core hotel franchising operations gave the division the independence it needs to offer custom solutions and high levels of support, service and security to all its users.

Choice has made significant financial and strategic investments in a broad range of technologies—from emerging mobile platforms to central reservation system delivery—that play to our strengths. These investments have positioned us to plant the seeds of new initiatives and accelerate the pace of innovation.

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