Traditionally, hotels were largely dependent on cards and paperwork at the front desk to keep in touch with old and current customers. They were largely at the mercy of the desires of vacationers to arrive, and on their own efforts and staff to be ready for potential surges or long droughts of occupancy. Luckily, such inconvenience and old-fashioned methods are long since past, thanks to advances in information technology.
The first area in which information technology became important was in regards to billing. Old-fashioned paper-based book-keeping was time consuming and inefficient, and was not able to quickly tell a hotel owner what the situation of their hotel was. Luckily, advances in modern record keeping allow for a hotel owner to keep track of what they have on hand, how much of it they have, and how much it costs. Accounting is complicated, but advanced accounting software, especially that tailored to the unique needs of the hospitality industry, helps to enable hotel owners to make smart decisions. Services and products that are no longer used can be quickly cut off to save money, while those who show demand can be increased in quantity or modified so as to reduce the heavy usage.
Most hotels are familiar with booking rooms and reservations over the phone, but information technology has expanded well beyond that. Hotels can now work with various online travel companies and booking services to have their rooms booked online, with no need to employ expensive staff. This also allows a hotel to advertise their open rooms and special deals directly to persons who would be most likely to purchase them, instead of wasting lots of money advertising in an unfocused manner. High quality information technology thus allows for better arrangement and management of bookings in order to allow a hotel to better maximize occupancy, and to know in advance when large groups or lean times are approaching. This allows a hotel manager to make plans regarding temporary staff, good times to renovate or expand, or other concerns, because he/she can determine the state of their hotel currently and for the next few months with only a few clicks on the computer.
The advances in information technology extend well beyond booking, however. The internet is essential for vacationers who wish to contact those back home, and for those traveling on business to get in touch with the office. Therefore, wireless internet has become a very common and very useful service for hotels to provide. Many business minded persons even require that a hotel offer internet services so that they can keep working while on the road. Luckily, such services are easy to provide, as all that is required is a wireless router and various devices to ensure the entire hotel is filled with the network. Modern advances in wireless internet also allow for the wireless internet provided for hotel visitors to be used to network the hotel itself. Security cameras, door locks, and other devices essential to hotel security and safety can be wired into the network, so that staff are alerted whenever a door is propped open, a fire alarm goes off or suspicious activity occurs. Though the hotel guests are wholly unaware of it, this sort of added safety and security keeps them safe, and in the event of a problem they will most certainly appreciate the benefits of such a system.
As advanced as it is, information technology in the hospitality industry is still going forward. Intelligent booking systems enable rapid and efficient guest feedback, along with the ability to predict who is likely to use the hotel again and inform them via e-mail or text messages when good deals arrive. Hotels with room service or other guest services can offer their menus online, allowing for quick updates, high-quality photos, and other ways to allow guests to see and order services before they even arrive. There are also advances in terms of payroll and inventory which make information technology a valuable asset for saving money and maximizing profits. The unique nature of the hospitality industry makes it a great place for new and emerging information technology, and forward-thinking hotel owners and managers are always looking for smart equipment and software to invest in.