Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The hospitality sector faces challenges unlike any other industry, with markets developing, economies fluctuating and consumer preferences evolving.

It is essential that the tourism industry embraces the fourth industrial revolution to accommodate the digital advances that will make them sustainable.

The digital revolution used to mean a business had a website. Though a website is central to much of a brand’s activity, there’s more to it than that — it allows industry giants to operate with more agility, achieving more in shorter periods.

Customers have, by and large, shifted to mobile devices when doing business, from researching holidays to booking and paying. Travel sites must be mobile friendly and destinations must offer Wi-Fi access. Visitors need a seamless approach that allows them to do what they want on one platform.

Companies spend vast amounts on app development only to have limited uptake from a market saturated with apps. Research should be conducted into the benefits of app development before they are developed and launched. There could be far better technology already that can be adapted to needs.

Great platforms provide great data that in turn produce valuable insights that allow for more personalised service. Companies should provide seamless business services across channels from one platform so that visitors can get what they want with little inconvenience, saving them time.

Great platforms provide great data that in turn produce valuable insights that allow for more personalised service. Companies should provide seamless business services across channels from one platform so that visitors can get what they want with little inconvenience, saving them time

Many hospitality businesses are shortsighted about payment options — limiting options to Visa, Mastercard or electronic funds transfer. Chinese-based UnionPay is the largest card-payment organisation (debit and credit cards combined) in the world, based on payment transactions, schemes and number of cards issued, yet many companies haven’t tapped into its network potential. Given that Chinese travellers prioritise establishments that accept it, it makes sense to add it to the bouquet of payment options.

Energy-wise and water-wise buildings are the way forward — but too often businesses stick to decades-old approaches to developments built using outmoded practices that do not acknowledge the essential role of sustainable tourism in ensuring business longevity.

Alternative water and energy supplies should be considered as part of the scenario planning for developers. A local water supply drying up or the national power grid experiencing hiccups are common occurrences, but many businesses do not mitigate for these considerations.

IT teams are no longer a few people in an office. IT touches every aspect of a modern business and only through recognising this and incorporating IT input across the board can sustainable hospitality be achieved.

• Duminy is CEO of Cape Town Tourism.

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