To Build or To Buy: If That's the Question, What's the Answer?

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By Andrew Sanders
Vice President, Travel, Transportation & Hospitality
To Build or To Buy: If That's the Question, What's the Answer?

As a rapidly increasing number of hoteliers seek new tech solutions to improve business operations and enhance the customer experience, the eternal question of "Build vs. Buy" remains a conundrum for many.

It's clear that expanding the sophistication of a hotel brand's technology is an essential part of retaining a competitive edge in the current marketplace. But deciding whether to build the tech in-house from scratch or manage an off-the-shelf product proves to be a particularly challenging question for many to answer.

The benefits of each choice may often be easier to see than the disadvantages, while the key is precisely identifying the unique qualities of your goal along with a realistic vision of executing a viable solution.

Building your own product offers a level of customization that can be difficult to achieve when modifying an existing solution. Additionally, the thorough knowledge of a hotel brand's business that is possessed by internal staff provides a seamless journey from the tech's initial concept to its development and eventual deployment.

On the other hand, what business do you really want to be in? One of the most common mistakes made by companies who decide to develop their own technology solutions is wildly underestimating the complexities involved. Without an all-encompassing understanding of what it takes to build a tech product, the sad truth is that some businesses find themselves completely abandoning the project before its completion, with less money in the bank and their tail stuck between their legs.

The reality is that even companies with seasoned development professionals on staff will benefit from consulting with the experts in this field before embarking on a solution build. Nothing can match the knowledge derived from being involved in a long line of tech builds from their conception all the way through to their release. And comprehensively understanding everything that's necessary to seamlessly integrate a new solution into your existing tech stack is another crucial piece of the puzzle that frequently requires deep analysis from an outside source. The potential pitfalls are enormous, and their avoidance frequently makes the difference between completing a project successfully or watching it fall to the side.

Personalization is at the center of improving the customer experience, and building your own tech solution carries the potential to develop innovative products that will make a brand stand apart from the rest. However, the customization of existing software sometimes offers a sufficient level of personalization, depending on the goal, and it's essential to save time and money in these scenarios by purchasing software off-the-shelf and devoting additional resources to marketing its deployment.

If "to build or to buy" is the question, the answer ultimately depends on determining several layers of a brand's aspirations and abilities. But above all, avoid the massive issues that can arise in either scenario by consulting with experts in the world of solution development, a highly complex area with a web of factors to unfold.

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