Expedia recently made headlines with the news that it is investing in Alice, a back-end platform for hotel operations and guest app for communicating with hotel staff.

Many believe that this partnership will allow Expedia to market the Alice platform to hotel partners, according to this SKift article.   Alice allows the OTA to get a leg up when it comes to guest-facing technologies with this software-as-a-service platform that enables multiple departments within a hotel to respond to guest requests and provide reporting and analytics. But what does this mean for hoteliers?

In one sense, this investment reinforces how OTAs like Expedia truly see the value of leveraging big data to enhance the guest experience. Ultimately, Expedia wants to serve as the “guest service back end” for hoteliers, who have traditionally been slow in embracing these types of solutions.

However, one question remains: will hoteliers be willing to allow OTAs to have a deep reach into guest data?

This remains to be seen. And, hoteliers should also consider whether or not the vision of this effort is to enhance the guest experience, or steer the guest away from their respective properties. This should go much deeper than the traditional OTA model of helping guests find the best hotel rates.

As always, any guest-facing innovation should focus only on pleasing travelers, which ultimately translates into long-term loyalty and enhanced revenue. It seems that OTAs are aiming to get a piece of the pie in an area where hotel brands have been slow to catch up.

Either way, leveraging big data for enhancing the guest experience is a new shift that is here to stay – and it seems that OTAs are taking the lead.