Currently, there are many new hotels in the pipeline in South Africa, and with the explosion of travel into emerging markets, this trend is sure to continue. North Africa, particularly Egypt, Ethiopia Morocco fares in the top five countries by new number of rooms this year. This rings true for the rest of Africa as well as other developing markets. More so than ever, travelers today are seeking out an authentic “bucket list” trips to exotic locations far from the typical norms such as London, Paris, New York, and Berlin. Companies able to bridgehead into these regions or already have a strong foothold will be the ones to watch when it comes to the implementation of hospitality technology. A recent PWC report focused on the hotel industry and its growth in this area. You can see from the chart that tourist areas in Africa are beginning to see dramatic room revenue growth and this upward trend is expected to continue into the year 2021. This same trend is forecasted for India, the Middle East, and APAC.
There are some challenges that the industry faces, one of which is the fact that we are in the midst of what can only be termed as “technological chaos.” With so many different companies delivering the promise of innovations that drive revenues and guest loyalty, one must wonder how the General Manager of a hotel or the VP of IT for a larger hotel chain can successfully vet what is most suitable to their respective needs. Is mobile the way to go or does it make more sense to stay with an on a premise-based solution? The decision becomes even harder and more complicated when dealing with newer markets. These regions offer their own complexities, whether it is the lack of IT infrastructure, or the basics of language issues or the proper way to conduct business in these markets.
There are several very large players in the hospitality technology industry that have the resources to enter these emerging markets with full force, but do they really appreciate what it takes? Do they understand the impact of what they have built for other regions of the world and if it will even be applicable within an emerging market? Do they know how to foster the sales relationship in different cultures or to support the solutions once they adopted and implemented? Also, will their solutions even function in an emerging market? It will depend entirely on country, region, and location. These are all very important questions to ask when looking at emerging markets within your overall growth strategy and yes, there are many more.
Companies that want to enter emerging markets will also need to be cognizant of new technologies and issues that are now impacting our industry – or will do so in the future. Some of these innovations and issues include:
- Smart Rooms and the associated Mobile Device
- Mobile Check-in/out and Mobile Keys
- Voice Integration
This isn’t to say that emerging markets should just be abandoned because at first glance they appear to be too hard to penetrate and support. However, they need to be well-researched from a business and personal perspective before any organization makes the leap of faith. Emerging markets are indeed the future of hospitality technology growth, but tech companies must do their homework.