Technologies have had a profound impact on the way we do business. This, along with the ‘always-on’, always connected mentality of customers means that businesses, large and small, are using technology to improve their competitive advantage.
In light of this, Vodacom Business today has launched the Vodacom Hospitality Solution, powered by NightsBridge, at the Tourism INDABA – a solution that will give smaller operators a competitive edge against their larger counterparts.

Through the Vodacom Hospitality Solution, small to medium sized accommodation providers will be able to advertise on relevant websites, manage real-time bookings and offer guests Wi-Fi via Vodacom Broadband Connect. In addition, the solution includes access to Vodacom Business’s secure cloud storage offering, connectivity, a virtual PABX, voice lines and mobile devices that can be rented out to international guests for the duration of their stay, providing a complete end-to-end technology solution.

Wi-Fi connectivity has become a key differentiator in the hospitality industry and according to a Forrester Research study, 90% of respondents highlighted Wi-Fi as an amenity to attract potential guests.[1] This is supported by a study conducted by which found that guests would prefer to receive Wi-Fi from their hotel rather than a complimentary breakfast or free parking.

According to Anthon Muller, Executive Head of Managed Enterprise Mobility at Vodacom Business, “Technology is key to business survival in today’s digital age. It helps to streamline business operations and also provides value-added benefits to your guests. While larger hotel groups have implemented solutions to meet their guests’ demand for Wi-Fi, for example, boutique hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts often haven’t been able to offer this solution to their guests. As such it can cause these companies to lose out on potential revenue as travellers seek out alternative accommodation.”

Another challenge facing smaller operations is simply being found. This is supported by the PWC Hospitality Outlook: 2014-2018[2] which states that while occupancy rates are on the rise, guest houses are showing a decline. The report indicates that real-time, online booking is becoming the norm. Smaller hotels that often don’t have the budget to spend on IT platforms are missing out on the opportunity to engage guests online and are putting themselves at risk of not being able to compete with their larger counterparts in the industry.

The Vodacom Hospitality Solution, powered by NightsBridge, aims to give smaller businesses in the hospitality industry easy access to a range of ICT solutions to enhance their proposition to potential guests. Online accommodation booking is becoming more popular. With this solution, smaller operators will get exposure on a variety of travel websites and have access to a real-time booking facility and front-office booking software, which makes managing their business much simpler. This, coupled with high-end information communication technology solutions, such as mobile broadband, fixed line communications and a cloud hosting solution, will help smaller operators gain ground on their larger competitors.

Theresa Griessel-Emerick, Managing Director at NightsBridge said: “Independent B&Bs, guesthouses and other accommodation properties face the challenge of coming to the attention of corporate bookers, agents and tour operators. They also have the struggle of updating their availability across a range of online accommodation booking sites. NightsBridge’s technology solves that problem, enabling properties to manage their bookings in a mobile environment, suited to the busy lifestyle of the guesthouse owner.

“NightsBridge is delighted that Vodacom’s providing technology to assist more small accommodation businesses to take full advantage of online distribution. We’re also excited that the hospitality solutions provided by Vodacom will give smaller properties the ability to compete on the level of their larger counterparts.”

Muller said, “The travel industry is very important to the South African economy with PWC finding that accommodation spend exceeded R17.3 billion in 2013 and projects that this will increase to over R28.7 billion in 2018. At the same it is a highly competitive market with companies of various sizes trying to attract and retain guests. We believe this solution will make a significant difference in helping the smaller businesses in the industry to compete against the larger hotel groups.”

While Wi-Fi is a sought after amenity when selecting travel accommodation, it is critical that it is good quality, fast and reliable in order to meet the guest’s expectations. Vodacom Business’s Broadband Connect offering, gives companies access to the next generation of wireless technology, that enables lightning-fast Internet browsing. This will meet the business traveller’s need to easily and affordably access email and business data while the leisure traveller can stay connected with friends and family. “The right type of technology that drives business efficiency, improved exposure and the tools to streamline how you deal with bookings and manage your capacity could have a tremendous impact on your occupancy rates,” adds Muller.

“After extensively researching the hospitality industry, we are excited to have found and partnered with NightsBridge to bring the Vodacom Hospitality Solution to the South African travel industry. NightsBridge has a solid track record in helping businesses in the industry to market and sell their accommodation to the relevant target audience. By adding the Vodacom Business offerings to the mix, we provide solutions that will further help these businesses to grow and succeed in the competitive hospitality industry,” concludes Muller.