Carlos Flores Martínez, is the luxury guest star of our third #easygoing. He has been working in the hotel industry for 26 years in charge of multiple disciplines within renowned chains such as Holiday Inn, Sheraton and Grupo Posadas. He has also been, as he himself says, “belonging to the TCA Software Solutions family” for more than 20 years. There, he has developed his career occupying the most important positions in the different departments of the company: implementations, support and business consulting. He is currently responsible for offering business consulting to important chains within the industry in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Today we are lucky to be able to learn from his words through #easygoing.
How long have you been working for the turistic/hospitality industry?
My career in the tourism sector began more than 26 years ago. He began with professional studies related to the industry and climbed to operational positions in important hotel chains such as Ramada, IHG’s Holiday Inn and Starwood’s Sheraton. In the company where I currently work, over 23 years I have contributed to the growth of different prestigious chains in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean such as AM Resorts, Velas Resorts and POSADAS. I have participated in the development of its operating standards focused on jointly creating tools that support its organic growth. Today, as Group Consulting Manager, I am in charge of operational and innovation analyzes to provide our clients with tools that allow them to be at the forefront of technology in the hospitality industry.
In which sense do you think technology can improve guest experience?
Thanks to digitization today, hotels can improve and standardize their service levels. They can rely on technology to perform different operational tasks and reduce their response times, allowing employees to pay more attention to the needs of guests. This results in a higher quality service, fast and efficient, and long-term relationships.
Working to improve the customer experience is an everyday job, and we certainly face some obstacles when trying to do it. In my opinion, I believe that technology provides a lot of value to achieve it. You have to keep looking for customers to come back and keep buying/reserving. It is not enough to treat them kindly, you have to seek to resolve their needs or complaints in a timely manner and give them reasons to continue on your list of preferences. The tools for this purpose must not only be for the client but also for the end user in order to deliver a first-class service that contributes to the excellent experience of the clients.
How do you think hotels can take advantage of digitization?
Many hotels continue to operate with fragmented models, unintegrated communication channels, and little or no automation in their business processes. For this reason, today it is vital to integrate state-of-the-art technology in various areas of hotels to give life to a superior guest experience in every way: increase efficiency, effectiveness and productivity in its operation; improve the satisfaction of its collaborators and, ultimately, obtain competitive advantages in a sustainable manner in the market.
Thanks to digitization, hotels today can achieve a myriad of things that they couldn’t before. The sum of them can be included in operational, administrative and commercial benefits. Today, technology allows hotel chains to have an efficient operational and administrative connection, which in turn enables better control of resources and processes, reduces time and improves results. In parallel, it allows to increase commercial opportunities, establishing new channels to attract and connect with its guests. All this contributes to greater benefits for the industry in the short, medium and long term.
At which point of the digital transformation do you think we are? (in the sector in México and Latin America)
I think we are halfway there, at a point where we understand that the digital transformation process in Mexico and a region like Latin America must respond to very particular needs. Where the service is one of the most important and characteristic factors, and for this reason, you must be very careful. Companies and customers expect and develop new technological solutions at an increasingly accelerated speed to offer and receive better service and attention. In this way, today technology is becoming a key link in the industry to provide new and better experiences that, at the end of the day, is what hospitality is all about.
Despite the fact that digitalization in Latin America is undergoing an accelerated adoption process, the reality today is that many hotel chains are not prepared to adopt it and implement it efficiently in their operations. That is why this process must be carried out with great care and good planning in order to avoid possible business risks.
How do you think the industry is committed to multichannel?
In my opinion, multichannel is a factor that has remained relevant for a long time and remains today. Specifically in hospitality. Today hotels cannot marginalize any channel, since the sum of them can provide different benefits to the different strategic areas in hospitality. The important thing is to convert an efficient system around the omnichannel by which in any medium where there is contact with a person, a solution can be offered to any requirement or need to generate greater value in their relationship with the hotel chain.
– In marketing: thanks to the knowledge we have of the different guest segments, the omnichannel responds to the different needs and problems that people face to offer them a holistic, consistent and tangible solution that allows us to accompany them throughout their purchase cycle (inspiration, consideration, planning, booking, travel, stay and loyalty) at each of the touchpoints relevant to them.
– In sales and distribution: multichannel has come to the industry to offer new and better ways of planning and reserving rooms for the traveller. In turn, to the hotel, new ways to generate traffic and encourage greater occupancy.
Some of the main channels that, in my opinion, we must take to omnichannel are OTAs, Channel Managers and GDS. In this way, it will be possible to make the collection of reserves more efficient at a lower cost.
Which is the biggest challenge you think you face regarding processes digitization?
I think that the biggest challenge faced by digitalization in hotels is the transformation from 0 to 100 in a single step because they do not have the idea to carry it out and this can lead to failure. This must be contemplated in 3 important realities and must also be progressive: digitization, automation and process optimization. Nowadays, companies need to be hybrid spaces where there is the flexibility to combine the different existing work processes in a simple and easy way. Some physically and others digitally.
Another of the great challenges of digitization is not only adopting a change in the way of operating but also a change in the mindset of the entire organization, which must be planned, executed and constantly evaluated in order to ensure a positive and effective change. “Digital transformation must be conceived as a journey, and not as a final destination.”
What impact do you think digitization has had in your particular case?
Within the environment in which I work and in general in the hotel industry, I have promoted digitization, which is a process that we have always supported and is prevailing. One of the impacts we have had is the forced acceleration of innovation that has led us to rethink our road map to meet the complexity of market demand and the needs of our customers.
How do you face the ‘new norma’l in TCA Software Solutions?
Life is kicking back in, but it doesn’t necessarily feel normal. The process of adapting to the new normality has been progressive. Initially there was a lot of uncertainty in the time that the tourist activity would begin to be reactivated. Therefore, strategies were started to avoid cancellations and create an environment of empathy with the client to postpone and not cancel. Subsequently, initiatives were created to give confidence to local clients to stay with extreme hygiene measures, thus creating a safe environment for guests. Likewise, giving way to new technologies that will increase the tranquility of the guests during their stay, covering the 3 milestones that, for my taste, encompass the solutions of the new normality:
– Contactless: Technologies and practices established in order to maximize security and prevention measures in work spaces or common places with a large influx of people inside the hotel.
– Paperless: Going paperless offers numerous benefits for both your hotel and the planet. To cite a few examples: signing electronically, replacing paper, is much safer. Save time and money to sign documents and contracts, simplify the process of ordering offices or administrative facilities by using fewer documents, help reduce the environmental impact…
– Cashless: The idea of touching bills and coins at this time may seem unpleasant and even dangerous to many. A growing number of people and businesses around the world have stopped using paper currency over fears it could spread the virus. Therefore, technological tools must be implemented to avoid contact with paper money and even with TDC.
Solving these 3 core milestones also reaches the hotel’s most important assets: its employees, creating a 360 security in the hotel operation.
Which role do you think digitization plays in the industry recovery?
Digitizing for recovery is paramount as it enables organizations to better compete in a constantly changing global environment. In the tourism sector, it has been confirmed that in order to reactivate its economy, all digital media must be added to achieve it.
Which weight do you think COVID-19 has had in the industry digital transformation? And in your particular case?
Covid-19 has pushed society and the economy to permanently operate in a different way. It demands fewer physical interactions between people, more health and safety measures, new behaviors and a permanent change in the way the industry operates.
These new dynamics have come to stay, bringing with them great opportunities and new ways of implementing innovation. As a constant and ever faster flow to search for and propose solutions to the different problems that arise. In this case, what we developed were solutions: contactless, cashless and paperless.
And definitely in our case in the technology/hotel area, it made us rethink our road map within the company to implement technological innovation in order to counteract the effect of the pandemic and deliver trusted solutions to our customers focused on managing this crisis.
How do you think the hotel of the future will be like?
Definitely focused on technology. The hotel must implement tools with the use of Artificial Intelligence with an increasingly precise focus on the customer profile and offering a better journey experience for them. Also innovative tools that support you: from reserving your room, through your stay and after your stay. In essence it will be a “Smart Hotel”.
What is your prognose about the future of the industry keeping in mind the current situation?
I think there is still uncertainty about the near future of the sector. In my personal opinion, I would be concerned that our speed to innovate does not lead us to make mistakes such as making a radical change in operating processes and undermining guest service. We may be very innovative but we are not sure that the guest is prepared to receive it. I believe that for now it will be important to mitigate the impacts as they occur in order to look ahead
Get to know more experts opinion clickin in #easygoing