In these times, it helps to look ahead and try to understand where the hospitality industry is headed. This is even more true when you’re working with the IT systems for hospitality groups. We spoke with Markus Felinger, IT systems and analytics expert, about his approach to data, tech, and guest experiences, and how the three are deeply interconnected. We also chatted about the tech strategy he and the team at Falkensteiner Hotels & Residences developed for their 30 hotels in seven countries throughout Europe.
Falkensteiner Hotels & Residences are an impressive hospitality group with an innovative IT strategy. With over 30 hotels in seven countries, they are industry leaders in Central Europe and are well known for their smart use of tech in their marketing and brand awareness work.
Shiji: Let’s start with your work at Falkensteiner. Tell us about the group.
Markus Felinger: Falkensteiner has 30 hotels, 2 camp groups, and a variety of 4-to-5-star leisure hotels and city hotels, but mostly leisure. They’re headquartered in Vienna with hotels in Southeastern and Central Europe and the EU: Austria, Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro. The group was started by the same family owners with a small traditional guest house in Italy over 65 years ago and today has grown to 4,700 rooms.
What was your role at Falkensteiner?
My career with Falkensteiner started in the Finance department. I was there to build up reporting and take over reshaping the controlling structure. Then, three years ago, I took over the systems department and with all the knowledge gained in the process, streamlined the system landscape.
I had to be aware of trends in the industry: What new tech is out there and what fits the brand? Where do we want guests to have a better experience? Reevaluating different systems and asking, “How do we want to enhance the guest interactions?” and so on.
Then, looking at employees: How can we automate things like sending offers? We automated our offers in the last year and reduced the workload by 80%. We tried to digitize the guest side and also the backend on the employee side.
How did you address such a diverse group of guests?
We wanted to be able to address the guest in their own language as the hotels are in seven different countries and guests come from even more countries. We tried to personalize the experience as best as we can, for instance, allowing them to book on whatever device they’re using.
In your mind, how does tech play a role in better meeting guests’ needs and expectations?
Try to eliminate or avoid things that aren’t suitable. At Falkensteiner, this was a kiosk system. We didn’t feel it was appropriate for leisure hotels as front desk staff wanted to give additional information to help guests or upsell.
I take pride in extracting data from each individual system to be used in reporting and analytics. I try to extract as much as possible. This helps data quality. Try to capture information once, so guests don’t have to provide it again.
From a data analytics standpoint, we need to get a better understanding of guests, increase automation, make things more personalized, and interact with guests on more of a device level.
If you focus on managing experience like in restaurants booking, you can say, “Did you see that there is a spa appointment available tomorrow?” It’s all about enhancing the guest’s stay.
Data quality is important. If someone inputs their own name and street address, that information is more likely to be correct than if someone at the front office is retyping that same information. Data quality improves when the customer supplies the data themselves.
At Falkensteiner, we created a portal for tour operators where they can see their bookings or manage their bookings from a tour operator or travel agency point-of-view. They can book directly, manage their reservations, and push promotions with B2B communication. We tried to digitize as much as possible.
Sign-up for the weekly newsletter.