How to build a digital culture at your hotel

A hotelier's guide to navigating digital transformation

Hoteliers face a lot of things: from macro-economic headwinds to local market trends, from rising guest expectations to a diminishing pool of talent, there’s an underlying current of change: digital transformation.

Today’s tenuous reality changes often. Just when you start to grasp a concept, master a skill, or leverage a channel, a new thing emerges that requires evolving your understanding and adapting your approach.

It’s exhausting. But it can also be invigorating with the right framework for putting digital transformation to work for your hotel.

How to navigate the turbulent rapids of digital transformation

Managing digital transformation doesn’t always have to be complicated and slow. A methodical approach can actually deliver simple and speedy results.

There are three key areas that will encourage a digital culture change at your hotel. Looking at them in detail will see increased productivity, stronger profitability and provide more memorable moments of true hospitality for your guests.


“Doing business digitally isn’t an “add technology and stir” proposition. To succeed in digital business means making fundamental changes to how you do business — not just how you reach or serve customers, but how you identify competitive markets and allocate funds.” — MIT Sloan Management Review

Here’s how to foster this engagement to nurture a digital-first approach throughout your hotel:

1. Employee engagement

2. Guest preferences

3. Data-driven decisions


1: Start with employee training and advocacy

To create a resilient digital culture that survives turnover, hotels need an ongoing approach that infuses digital literacy throughout employee training and professional development initiatives.

Employee training

By training employees in digital literacy, you give them the tools they need to succeed in today’s hospitality industry. An added benefit is more trust issued by being transparent about technology’s role in the workplace.

  • Easy access to training: Continuous digital learning is critical to embedding digital into a hotel’s culture. Make it very clear that your hotel supports professional development.
  • Promote collaboration: Promote collaboration across teams by encouraging knowledge sharing. Consider a periodic employee newsletter that focuses exclusively on digital trends in the industry, or other means for employees to get engaged with the topic of digital transformation in hospitality.
  • Lead by example: If you don’t know what Snapchat is, how can you expect your staff to care? While it’s important to hire people with different skill sets as yours, it’s nonetheless necessary to have a broad understanding of digital pillars, such as social media, search marketing, and emerging technologies.


Do you have regular staff meetings? If so, assign a rotating duty to source and present via video about a current digital hospitality trend or issue facing the industry. Video helps maintain interest and rotating employee presentations spice up otherwise repetitive meetings.


Employee advocacy

Employees are your greatest assets when it comes to building a digital culture in your hotel! Platforms are rich with opportunity to turn employees into brand advocates.

Consider this: According to Instagram, the average number of likes per post is 1,261, and Social Media Today found that content shared by employees receives eight times more engagement than the content from brand channels.

By empowering employees with relevant messaging, and celebrating employees that share content about your hotel, your hotel harnesses the power of employee advocacy. The additional benefit is that encouraging this behavior shows that your hotel is a digitally-savvy, forward-looking place to work.


Do you create content for social media regularly? Try launching a competition among staff to create and post the most engaging content related to the hotel. Share your brand guidelines to be sure everything aligns appropriately. Avoid placing too many additional restrictions, such as requiring approval of each post. Reward the winner publicly – and be sure that the reward is significant worth competing for.

Want to read part 2 & 3 on how to implement a digital culture at your hotel?


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