Digitalisation of hotels in the COVID-19 pandemic
What has been the role of the COVID-19 pandemic in the digitalisation of the hospitality industry? Domenico Morrone, Nicola Raimo, Annunziata Tarulli, and Filippo Vitolla of the Department of Management, Finance and Technology at LUM University, in Casamassima, Bari, Italy, hope to answer that question in the International Journal Digital Culture and Electronic Tourism.
The pandemic has pushed many normal activities into the online realm in unprecedented ways leading to the notion of e-tourism or smart tourism. However, the way in which hotels have been affected by the pandemic has not been investigated in detail in terms of the drivers for digitalisation until now. The team hopes to fill this gap through a case study investigation of hotel structures. Digitalisation in other realms might involve the use of information and communications technology (ICT) not only in communication and marketing areas but also in production, sales, customer relations, and beyond.
The researchers have found that the motivation is mainly concerned with a desire to improve the quality of the hotel structures, to adapt to competitors, and increase financial performance. Digitalisation has had a series of positive effects related to boosting revenues and reducing costs as well as improving corporate image. COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the digitalisation processes, the team writes.
The team suggests that digitalisation is perhaps the only way forward for hotels during the pandemic and perhaps beyond. "Through digitalisation, in fact, it is possible to guarantee and certify the sanitation of the structures, maintain social distancing, guest traceability and other measures, making people free to enjoy hotel holidays," they write. This implementation will allow tourists to be relatively safe in hotels, allow hoteliers to resume many of their normal activities. Digitalisation will also give the hotel industry a way to face possible future crises with more security.