NB:Â This is guest article by Brandon Dennis, director of marketing atÂ Buuteeq.
Technology advances incredibly fast, not least in an industry such as travel which has seen incredible levels of disruption across so many disciplines.
As online marketers, weâ€™ve checked off all the things weâ€™re supposed to do – build a website, start a blog–but now weâ€™re being told that a website is not enough!
We have social media, mobile browsing and SEO to worry about. Itâ€™s hard for hotel owners and marketers to keep up-to-speed on the latest tech trends when they have rooms to fill and guests to please.
Imagine if we could manage all of our online marketing efforts from one place. Imagine if our marketing was always up-to-date and never became outdated. Imagine no more: itâ€™s called utility computing in-the-cloud and has been used by technology giants for years.
Utility computing is a broad concept that encapsulates cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS).
Nicholas Carr, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, member of The Encyclopedia Britannicaâ€™s editorial board and regular contributor to The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal and others, wrote a definitive book on utility computing called The Big Switch.
As he puts it:
“A hundred years ago, companies stopped generating their own power with steam engines and dynamos and plugged into the newly built electric grid. The cheap power pumped out by electric utilities didnâ€™t just change how businesses operate.
“It set off a chain reaction of economic and social transformations that brought the modern world into existence. Today, a similar revolution is under way. Hooked up to the Internetâ€™s global computing grid, massive information-processing plants have begun pumping data and software code into our homes and businesses.
“This time, itâ€™s computing thatâ€™s turning into a utility. In the years ahead, more and more of the information-processing tasks that we rely on, at home and at work, will be handled by big data centers located out on the Internet.”
Instead of digging our own wells, we pay a subscription to the water company. Instead of running a generator, we hook up to our local power grid.
The concept of paying a subscription for a utility has gone online as well. Instead of setting up web servers in our home or office, we purchase a web hosting subscription. While interest in personal tax and finance consultants decreases, use of in-the-cloud-solutions like TurboTax and Mint continues to explode.
Not long ago, if we wanted a new piece of computer software, we went to CompUSA and purchased it in a box. Now, big box computer stores are filled with mobile device accessories and toner cartridges, not software.
Where do we go to get Dropbox, Shopify, Zendesk or Salesforce? We purchase a subscription online. SaaS is a business model that works, has been adopted by thousands of service providers and isnâ€™t dying anytime soon.
Renting versus owning
The current and future dominance of utility computing is evident, but even so, SaaS can be an intimidating concept for some hoteliers. They feel like they will lose ownership of their online marketing, as if purchasing a subscription is simply renting a website.
However, we all use subscription-based services every day, and we have for decades without thinking about ownership. You donâ€™t rent water. The idea is silly.
No one is going to knock on your door and ask you to return the water youâ€™ve consumed when you end your subscription. Neither will the electric company ask you to return your electricity, nor the garbage company drop ten years of collected garbage on your doorstep.
By purchasing a utility, you own all benefits that come with it. You use it, consume it and master it – it is yours. Renting, on the other hand, demands a return. When you rent a car, you are expected to return it with a full tank of gas.
When I rent a movie from Blockbuster, I have a limited selection (whatever fits in the store) and when Iâ€™m done with the video, I have to return it and rent it again to watch it again.
Alternatively, when I subscribe to Netflix, I have open access to hundreds of thousands of videos that took billions to produce, which I can stream as much as I want, when I want, as often as I want. As you can see, renting and subscriptions are two, distinct concepts.
Subscriptions work when obtaining the product on your own is unreasonable or produces a poorer product. I could go dig my own well, but subscribing for the utility is cheaper, gives me better water and makes more sense.
Never outdated again
When technology advances, SaaS companies pass those latest advances on to their clients.
This means that instead of having to pay an arm and a leg to update your website or build a new website from scratch when internet trends X, Y and Z emerge, SaaS services embrace those advances for you, make the necessary changes and pass those upgrades on to you at no additional charge.
Like Netflix, which delivers video content that took billions to produce, utility computing delivers web design built with an information architecture that took millions to produce.
This means that when you embrace SaaS, you gain million-dollar technology that never grows outdated instead of buying a static website built on thousand-dollar technology that canâ€™t help but grow outdated.
There are innumerable options when it comes to forging an online marketing plan for your property. Itâ€™s a tough job to weigh the pros and cons and choose the best solution.
My advice is to put in the tough work and choose a solution that delivers amazing results now and adapts to technology changes later, so you donâ€™t have to go shopping again.
NB: This is guest article by Brandon Dennis, director of marketing at Buuteeq.