Home Samples Information Communication Technology and the Marketing of the Hospitality Sector

The study aims to critically evaluate the marketing of the hospitality sector impacted by ICT. The study has found that ICT supports hospitality organisations in providing effective customer service by applying CRM technology. Organisations like Travelodge, IHG has successfully applied ICT-enabled CRM system for providing better facilities to customers. ICT enables organisations to provide Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) for developing effective interaction with customers. The study has found out that digital marketing strategy can effectively be developed by organisations like Travelodge, Premier Inn and GLH hotel due to the development of ICT. However, ICT has a threat of security issues such as malware attacks. ICT has increased the expectation of customers from the hospitality industry and motivates organisations to invest more in technology rather than employees.

1. Introduction

Information Communication Technology (ICT) refers to the infrastructure that supports modern computing systems. ICT includes networking components, devices, systems, and applications that permit organisations and people to develop interaction in the digital world. ICT supports the hospitality sector in enhancing communication with customers, the guest service system, and the reservation system. The study aims to critically analyse the impact of ICT on the marketing of the hospitality sector considering customer relationship management, Integrated Marketing Communication and digital marketing strategy. The study will analyse the impact with respect to the examples from the hospitality industry.

2. Impact of ICT on the marketing of hospitality sector

2.1 Customer Relationship Management

ICT enabled customer relationship management support organisations of the hospitality sector to develop better communication with target customers. CRM support hospitality organisations to track room occupancy and food inventory effectively. ICT enables organisations in the hospitality industry to use CRM software for quickly identifying information related to customers (Sota et al., 2020). It also helps organisations develop personal interaction with customers by responding to their queries on time and meeting their requirements which is beneficial for customer retention and allows the hospitality industry to enhance the customer conversion rate as CRM software enables customers to interact with the organisations for their queries and feedbacks. It has been identified that 77% people see at least 6 to 12 reviews before booking a hotel (Sharifi, 2019). Therefore, it can be understood that most of the customers know the activity of the hotels before they contact the sales representative. The impact of ICT on CRM of hospitality organisations can be understood with respect to Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) which develops the new CRM system to respond to its member customers’ preferences at each stage of their guest journey and it helps the organisation to understand the choices of customers for pillow type, room location, booking option, and post-stay services (InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, 2016). ICT supports hospitality organisations to enhance their business scale by developing effective communication with individual customers. Travelodge, another popular hotel chain in the UK hospitality industry, adopts a CRM system by outsourcing it from Hitachi Solution to understand customers' rapidly changing requirements and upgrade their service according to customers' needs (Hitachi-solutions, 2016). The CRM system allows Travelodge to manage multiple room bookings effectively. It also allows Travelodge to improve its scale by enhancing customer relationships. Therefore, it can be determined that an ICT-enabled CRM system helps hospitality organisations better understand the customer's requirements, which supports them to provide better customer service. Therefore, an effective CRM system allows customers to book hotels as per their preference. The small organisation sometimes fails to understand the actual value of the CRM system as the CRM system provides a 360-degree point of view regarding the interaction with each customer of the organisation. Further, ICT infrastructure supports customers to remote check-in and check out from their mobile devices which is beneficial for hoteliers to manage their staff effectively. Remote check-in and check-out facilities alert hotel staff regarding the arrival of the guest and support them to prepare the room for their guest (Gupta and Sharma, 2021). The importance of ICT enabled CRM has increased in the hospitality industry due to Covid-19 as major companies focus on technology for developing better customer service facilities.

However, ICT-enabled CRM system has a threat of data breaches related to customers. Data breach is the negative impact of ICT as this results in loss of reputation for the organisations. Cyberattack is one of the common problems in ICT-enabled CRM systems. The Marriott cyberattack leads the organisation to lose the data of 400 million customers (Chang et al., 2019). The popular International Hotel chain Marriott fails to protect the information of their customers. Therefore, security issues are a major negative impact of ICT on the hospitality sector as it creates overdependency on technology for providing effective service to customers. 

2.2 Integrated Marketing Communications

Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) refers to the process of combining different elements of marketing communication including social media, public relations, business development principles, audience analytics, and advertisement to create a brand identity across different media channels (Juska, 2021). IMC is a multidisciplinary communication system that includes both new and traditional media practices. ICT helps hotels and food service providers to manage inquiries from customers from a wide range of communication channels including SMS, social media account, e-mail, and others. The study of Al-Qeedaa (2019) has identified that social media marketing, advertising, and public relation as integrated marketing element has a positive impact on the marketing performance of hotels. The application of ICT for integrated marketing communication enables hospitality organisations to send automated emails and messages to customers for thanking them for their stay or informing them regarding their offers and other details. Therefore, ICT fastens the communication process between customers and hospitality organisations. ICT has changed the booking system in the hospitality industry as customers can self-book their room or order their food by visiting websites or applications of the organisation (Pelawi and Aprilia, 2019). Therefore, IMC tools guide and influence customers for consuming the service of the organisation. For example, the integrated communication strategy of the Hilton international hotel chain develops an effective relationship with media outlets, lifestyle and travel reporters, bloggers in order to influence 200 secondary Markets and 50 designated market areas of the globe (Hilton, 2022). Further, the global advertisement campaign of the organisation encourages customers to book directly from their website. Hilton utilises the social media platform Twitter for informing customers regarding their service and facilities. Another one of the largest hotel chains in the UK, Premier Inn uses the press for public relations and showcases their advertisement on social media platforms, indicating the organisation combines different media channels for marketing purposes. Premier Inn has become one of the known hotel brands in the UK by focusing on integrated communication. Premier Inn targets the family market segment by developing communication through e-mail, website, newsletters (‌Linkedin, 2022). ICT supports hospitality organisations to efficiently manage different media channels which is beneficial for creating brand awareness among target customers.

However, ICT influences hospitality organisations to spend more on technology for developing integrated communication with customers. Therefore, hospitality organisations tend to spend more on technology for creating advanced facilities in the organisation but that aims to reduce their expenditure on workforce which indicates another negative impact of ICT (Ashcroft et al., 2019). Focussing on ICT enables hospitality organisations to reduce their focus on employees, raising issues of poor job satisfaction in the hospitality sector. Lower pay scale is one of the major issues of employees in the UK hospitality industry. It increases as an organisation wants to reduce labour costs but invest in technology to develop efficient marketing communication.

2.3 Digital Marketing Strategy

The development of ICT has enhanced the practice of digital marketing strategy in the UK hospitality sector. ICT enabled the hospitality sector to create highly valuable content influencer marketing live events and other marketing activities on digital platforms. The digital marketing strategy enhances the online presence of hospitality organisations (Shankar, 2019). Digital marketing strategy allows hotels, food service providers, and other hospitality organisations to influence the customer journey by understanding their requirements. For example, the digital marketing strategy of Premier Inn addresses the need for cleanliness and hygiene of customers after Covid-19. The organisation showcases its commitment, CleanProtect in its digital marketing strategy (‌premierinn, 2021). Premier Inn focuses on direct digital marketing activities to enhance customers' conversion rate by influencing them to directly book from their websites. Further, ICT helps hospitality organisations to send personalised bulk emails to their customers (‌Lysne, 2018). ICT also permits hospitality organisations to analyse the impact of digital marketing strategy which is beneficial to understand how much the business has improved due to the marketing strategy. For example, the digital marketing strategy of sending mail to customers by Travelodge enables the organisation to witness an 80% increase in its website traffic through email (‌RedEye, 2020). ICT allows hospitality organisations to develop data-driven digital marketing approaches. Travelodge witnessed a 40% increase in their email revenue in 2018 by focusing on the customer journey in their digital marketing activities. Therefore, it can be understood that ICT helps hospitality organisations to improve their performance by enhancing digital marketing strategies. Digital marketing strategy is also beneficial for understanding customers' feedback regarding the services. Furthermore, GLH Hotel, a hotel chain in the UK also witnessed a 61% increase in their return on investment and a 32% decrease in their cost of sales through focusing on digital marketing strategy (Greenlightdigital, 2022). It can be understood that ICT allows hospitality organisations to analyse their performance due to digital marketing activities. Digital marketing activities are also beneficial for enhancing the brand awareness of the organisations and ICT helps to quantify the brand awareness of the organisation (‌Robul, 2020). For example, the brand recognition of Travelodge has increased by 90% when the organisation invests a hundred million on modernisation including digital marketing strategy (López-Andreu et al., 2019).

However, ICT digital marketing strategies increase the purchasing power of customers as customers can easily compare the facilities and prices of different hotels at the same time. The expectation of customers has increased due to the digital marketing activities of organisations (Aydin, 2020). ICT innovation has rapidly increased the customer's expectation regarding the organisation services. It becomes difficult for small hoteliers to provide personalised service to all customers which have become a significant trend in the hospitality industry due to ICT-enabled digital marketing strategies. Further, the marketing budget for small companies is also very limited which is another challenge to their survival in the hospitality industry.

3. Recommendation

The organisations in the hospitality industry are recommended to focus on data security while applying ICT to marketing activities. The organisations are required to focus on the cybersecurity aspect for ensuring the safety of customers' privacy. Organisations can protect the information from malware attacks by ensuring network firewalls are in place and updating the software. Organisation also needs to restrict IT access for protecting the information from the unauthorised entrance to the system (Jones and Comfort, 2021). Organisations need to develop rules and regulations for personal data storage and transfer in order to avoid losing all information at a time. The organisations also need to train employees efficiently in order to make them knowledgeable regarding the security issues of ICT.

The organisations in the hospitality industry are recommended to invest equally in technology and employees. Hospitality organisations need to keep employees satisfied to provide effective customer service by applying ICT (Baum, 2019). Keeping employees satisfied helps the organisation optimise ICT utilisation in marketing activities. It can help the organisation improve its performance and reduce employee resistance regarding ICT implementation.

Further, the hospitality industry organisations should also focus on the need of the customers for maximising the application of ICT on digital marketing activities. The marketing activities can be effective when it meets the requirement of customers. Real-time feedback to customers' queries and complaints is an effective way to enhance customer relationships by applying ICT technologies. Furthermore, organisations need to be up-to-date regarding the hospitality industry's technological changes to address the increasing expectation of customers (Kloutsiniotis and Mihail, 2020).

4. Conclusion

The study has identified that ICT has an integral role in the marketing communication of the hospitality sector. ICT enhances customer relationships with the organisation by allowing them to meet the requirement of customers. ICT develops the communication between the organisation and customers at different media channels including social media, advertisement, and public relations. It also helps organisations effectively implement a digital marketing strategy, which is beneficial for improving the organisation's performance and digital presence. However, the study has also identified that the organisations need to focus on security issues to prevent the ICT threat. The hospitality organisations also need to invest in employees to reduce employees' resistance regarding ICT implementation. They are required to remain updated regarding the latest technical development for meeting the increasing expectation of customers.

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