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Hospitality

The Website Lifecycle and a New Agency/Hotel Relationship?

11 May 2018

By:

It quite often breaks my heart launching a new website. The square eyes, time, late nights, caffeine-induced hysteria, endless lines of code. Why? Because it is likely that everything that we have written is likely to go to code heaven after three years or so.

Without risking sounding like an old fart, doesn’t technology move fast these days?! From a website standpoint, it is likely that within three years, we will have gone through numerous versions of WordPress, at least a few of renditions of Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox and the screens we view our websites on will be totally different. Probably buried in our arm or something.

While everyone at Umi gets jumped up about all the exciting advances in technology, there is still that underlying knowledge that whatever we learn now will most likely be superseded in a couple of years. Yet despite this slight tug, it’s essential to keep abreast of it so that we all keep those incremental steps going and delivering each website that is ever-so-slightly more advanced than the last.

If I have one message to hoteliers it is to understand that sadly this is the world we live in and to assure them that it is not entirely ‘sales chat’ about staying up to date with the latest and greatest technology. It pains us too when we have to put a whole website in the bin.

So with this being the case, surely there must be ways for companies like Umi to permanently keep things up to date? Well yes, there are, but it requires a very different business model and buy-in from agency and hotel alike. I’m not talking about putting in place your standard maintenance contract to keep things secure and backed up, I’m talking about something that likens itself more to a mobile phone contract or renting a flat. I think a new model would involve monthly amounts being paid into the future and in return, the website is kept not just up to date, but actually re-engineered as you go to keep it at the bleeding-edge of technology. So what kind of re-engineering am I talking about? It involves things that you simply can’t cover in your regular maintenance contracts.

 

 

Ok, so there are some interesting developments on the horizon. How might this actually work in the real world and what might the business model look like to cater for these significant pieces of re-engineering?

I need only look back a few years to my ‘sustainable business’ module at university. In those under-appreciated, bleary-eyed lectures our business course was introduced to the concept of product-service systems. In a nutshell, these are business processes that approach commerce as a cohesive delivery of both products (the website) and the support (the standard maintenance). Rather than focus on selling websites, we shift to selling “direct bookings” or “an ongoing strong brand image online”. The concept relies on us treating general consumption like we do with our houses and other rental items and consuming a service and a producing simultaneously. We are already highly accustomed to this idea for property and vehicles, indeed the whole car industry is propped up on hire-purchase and other financing/service schemes. We see this in the travel industry where major airlines buy “flight miles” as a product/service as opposed to ever owning the engine. We see the likes of Rolls Royce providing Virgin with ongoing, supported airtime. So I ask the question are we ready to apply this properly to software development? Here are a few pros and cons to weigh up the debate:

 

Pros

 

 

Cons

 

 

So I’ll close with this – Does anyone want to give it a go? Very open to discussing the concept with you.

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