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Sat 18 Apr 2009 04:00 AM

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Balancing heart and mind

Tech guru Jitendra Jain explains why technology and marketing are a match made in heaven, as long as the right measures of both are employed.

Balancing heart and mind

“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door” — Ralph Waldo Emerson may have put a poetic twist on human fascination with new technology, however, the statement certainly lacks in bringing across the crucial importance of marketing.

History is littered with examples of great new inventions and astonishing advances that never made the light of day, mainly because not enough people knew about them or they just didn’t understand them.

The hotel industry has to shake off that old ‘Jeeves’ image and become the hip and tech-savvy solution the modern traveller is looking for.

I am a big fan of technology and in the broad sense believe it is the only sustainable means to true human progress. But humans are emotional creatures — some would say we operate on a Pareto mix of 20% intellect and 80% emotion.

Marketing, or ‘taking to market’ appeals to both of these facets and creates value that the intellect can understand and ‘love’ that the heart can embrace.

It takes a great understanding of people to make products and services reach their true potential. Branding, positioning, advertising, distribution, etc are all means to this end.

The hospitality industry has generally been considered a low-tech, high-touch sector, but no aspect of the hotel industry has remained unaffected by the advances of technology over the past two decades.

From advanced yield management systems to fully integrated property management systems, point-of-sale devices, process automation, online distribution and more, various low-tech facets of hospitality have been radically transformed.

Marketing hasn’t been far behind, either — with the bedding wars behind us and mass commoditisation, most hotel chains have shifted focus to a war of emotion, with lifestyle products and branding aggressively making inroads over the past few years.

After all, what makes one hotel property different from the other, or one brand different from the next?

Logos and slogans just don’t cut it.

This is where savvy marketers and brand evangelists pulled out all the stops and plunged head-on into the fields of psychology, sociology and biology to move beyond that 20% and into the 80% that draws on the power of our imaginations, desires and the physical senses.

From mood lighting and music to distinctive scents and tactile design, everything plays a vital role in the hotels of today — and tomorrow.

None of this would have been possible without technology though.

The point I’m trying to make is that technology is what enables us to better the human condition and allows us to develop better, faster, stronger and more efficiently.

But ‘pure’ technology in a human world represents wasted potential — it needs the synergy offered by its exciting cousin, marketing, in order to capture our imaginations, create an understanding of value and help us identify with products and services emotionally.

On the flip side, just because hospitality has always been a ‘people’ industry, doesn’t mean that we can allow technology to fall by the wayside. Hoteliers need to actively embrace new technology and trends to see how they can create added value for an evolving customer base.

The hotel industry has to shake off that old ‘Jeeves’ image and become the hip and tech-savvy solution the modern traveller is looking for. Our future survival depends on it.

Jitendra Jain (JJ) is the founder of various online initiatives like www.hotelemarketer.com, www.thetalentjungle.com and www.younghotelier.com (among others) that “dream, connect, educate and share all that is glorious about hospitality, technology and most importantly, the people that define our times”.

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