28 March 2018 | Andrew Sanders
Reap the Rewards of New Hotel Technology – Avoid the Pitfalls
I have been in the hotel technology industry for a long time, but I have never seen the pace of technological change and advancement move so quickly. It is almost as if, within the last two years, the industry has been pushed into hyperdrive and every small, medium and large tech company is jumping on the bandwagon. In the past, it was a big deal when we could connect a CRS to a PMS and implement a 2-way interface. Now we are talking about in-room voice recognition, robots, AI and much more.
Most people won’t argue that technology innovation can be a very good thing. It can help hoteliers streamline their operations, help engage with their guests more effectively and in certain cases, drive ancillary revenues. The challenge that the hotel industry faces in dealing with this level of innovation is the struggle to keep up with guest demands while still ensuring that they are making solid technology decisions for their business and their guests. This can be an incredibly difficult juggling act to perform. Just because there is a new technology in the market, it is no reason for you to adopt it. It is vital that your organization’s new technology integration strategy must be closely lined up with its strategic objectives and goals. Though technology innovation can be an enabler, it must be implemented effectively to maximize the impact. For example, a hotel can’t implement a guest messaging platform that can't connect to an incident management platform or a food ordering system that doesn’t connect to the point of sale. Though this should seem straightforward, at times, it may be anything but.
Interoperability and integration will be our industry’s biggest challenge as innovation takes hold. Hotel properties, on average, have 20+ systems in place to help run operations efficiently, receive reservations, take orders, plan for meetings, etc. Many of the systems at the forefront of the hotel technology movement have already been integrated. However, with the speed of emerging technologies in play now, integration can, and will be, a critical challenge due to development bottlenecks, one-off interfaces, and costs. Companies at the center of these integrations often have a backlog of interface requests that impact any roll-outs of new technology initiatives, and some of the interface schemes need to be updated. Also, in most cases, each company in the integration chain will charge a fee for the interface development.
Don’t get me wrong, there is time for everything, and everything will have its time. One of the key aspects that helps hoteliers remain at the forefront is its vision and capability of adopting new technologies. The hotels that place the right bets now will probably be the industry leaders in the next ten to 15 years if they match their greater investment in technology with a company-wide commitment to change. However, much will depend on how the new technology integrates into the guests’ world as well as the hotel's technological infrastructure. This is an exciting time for our industry as we begin to embrace chatbots, artificial intelligence, robots, augmented reality and more. However, hotels need to know what tech is worth adopting, and what isn’t as well as the best way to integrate new technologies into their current operations.