The new digital economy has many advantages for firms who chose to embrace so-called digital transformation, or indeed those who architect themselves as ‘digital natives’ at start-up.

In line with this new digital positivity, there is a new and much more ‘measured’ level of analytics that pervades digital business. This tough environment means that firms have to execute operations with exemplary credentials and exacting precision.

Failure to perform productively, effectively and profitably creates the risk of losing business to a competitor, perhaps overnight. Markets move fast in the digital age.

Digital business velocity

The velocity of digital business pervades every business vertical, but the hospitality industry is probably a case in point. Massive levels of disruption have been experienced due to the emergence of online services and web-centric product and service delivery.

When a customer needs something, they want it now and they expect it fast – hence the suitability of accelerator programmes for hospitality start-ups. These are firms that need to grow fast and provide full-blown services capable of competing with established suppliers who may have been in the same services niche for decades.

Accelerator programmes are, of course, designed to provide mentoring, training and strategic business direction.

A recipe for digital growth

Hospitality accelerator programmes, much like those in any industry, will often spend a period with the start-up examining customer needs to ensure the correct level of customised services appropriate to a segment. They will look at suitable levels of price differentiation, and have the ability to use particular customer value propositions to differentiate.

A key benefit of accelerator programmes is their ability to allow firms to focus on product and services development and get help with the rather ‘mundane’ elements of business operations such as accounting, staffing and legal issues.

Hospitality accelerators

In the hospitality market in particular we find ‘specialised’ accelerators that actually understand the demand and supply model of the industry and the innate characteristics of each local market.

Using these vertical specialists is an invaluable way of tapping into established best practices, but in a way that still allows the ‘acceleree’ (no, it’s not quite a real term, yet) to implement their own version of those best practices according to the nuances of their own business model.

Firms will be shown how to test, measure, analyse and re-rationalise service elements to suit customer requirements and market trends.

In the hospitality industry, in particular, this analysis could often focus on annual cyclical trends and special events, all of which can have their own consequences and effects on operations.

Deeper and onwards

Accelerator programmes are not for day zero start-ups; this is, of course, why early stage incubation programmes exist. Working with firms in their crucial early adolescence is still a sensitive process though and good programme directors will be sympathetic to the fact that just because a firm can walk, it does not necessarily follow that it can run, jump or twist round in spirals.

This ‘twist’ action will ultimately be important in all accelerator programmes. Hospitality firms, in particular, need to develop the ability to reposition for future market diversity. These firms need the ability to ‘reinvent themselves’ and be able to produce key differentiators on the road ahead.

Essentially, this whole process is a chance to work in a ‘guided but free and open environment’. In this way the firm in the accelerator can still learn from its own mistakes.

The accelerator programme is a logical part of digital business in that it envelops a firm within an accountable and quantifiable guidance process underpinned by data.

In the hospitality industry it all comes down to people, customers and the user experience. There is still a commercial bottom line; it’s just that it is being driven at a greatly accelerated speed.

As they say in business school, get with the programme.