By Larry and Adam Mogelonsky

As we descend into Q4, every hotel brand is starting to set up strategic planning meetings to determine what adjustments to make and what new initiative to take in 2023.

Without knowing your specific brand, its customers, your finances and your locations, we can say:

  • Labor issues will continue next year for (almost) the entire industry as will the need for improved employee wellness programs
  • Automation and other forms of efficiency-improving tech are critical to maintaining service levels
  • There are many permanent effects from the pandemic that will persist, such as the need for workcation and extended stay setups
  • 2023 will be just as fast-paced as 2022

So, we all know that more tech deployment will be important, but how do you approach this process with a wise, long-term mindset so that you aren’t forced to revert to another system two years from now. In many ways, the vendors you evaluate should be viewed more so as partners that you grow and deepen your relationships with rather than one-off solution providers.

With this in mind, we’ve developed five important points to help you navigate the multitude of suppliers out there in order to develop the critical path of implementation and drive both the top line and bottom-line savings using tech. Again, this isn’t about specific solutions or trends but one level higher – the mentality you have to guide what solutions and trends to even consider.

  1. Develop a process for continuous success. Deploying anything new is hard. From evaluation and implementation through to team training and ensuring ongoing ‘daily active usage’, technology needs to be hardcoded into your culture through SOPs, rich data integrations and, above all, a tacit ‘why’ that every member of the team understands. With so many vendors out there, a hotel stack can easily become convoluted to the point where incremental improvements to the guest experience are stymied by incompatibilities or ‘zombie platforms’ that no one really uses.
  2. Protect your human stack. Regardless of the hardware and software deployed, ultimately everything in a hotel comes down to the people you have who find the best solutions, develop the platform interfaces and maintain all the systems. The more the world of hotels becomes entangled with technology, the more central your IT team becomes and, at the same time, the more paramount it is that everyone in every department has a firm grasp of how it all works. Nurture your people that make this happen by embracing technology on the cultural level and supporting this process through continuing professional development.
  3. Simplify before you expand. The whole notion of ‘zombie platforms’ implies many disparate silos of data coexisting and overlapping. Look to simplify by finding partners that can deploy versatile solutions. In an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ manner, quite often the best solution is to first deepen your relationship with existing vendors rather than deploy a wholly new one to fit a narrow range of functionality. Again, part of the process must be to continually upgrade your human stack by ensuring that team members are trained on all current systems and that they have time to keep up-to-date with all the latest technology news.
  4. Build rich data connections. Whether it’s an integration or interface, hotel tech stacks are gradually moving towards unified guest profiles and sophisticated customer personas at the center, with onion-like layers of automation software extending outward to all departments. You will unavoidably need a field manual to understand the alphabet soup of hotel technology acronyms out there – PMS, CRS, POS, CRM, RMS, BI, WBE, CMS, PM, CDP and so on – but these pieces cannot exist in isolation. You need good IT professionals and a clear vision to build the data connections that will make all these tools actionable and improve the guest experience.
  5. There will always be more you can do. One of the most profound beauties of technology is that it never stops improving. Each vendor is hard at work developing new features to stay competitive, while companies outside the hotel industry will influence the direction of the guest experience, either directly through bespoke products and sales efforts or implicitly by influencing customer behavior or traveler demands. Technology is as much a process of evolution as it is any given function, thus reaching a likewise mindset to ensure success.

To conclude, there’s no shortage of online resources to help you educate yourself on hotel technology. You can’t learn it all in one night, so be sure to read the news, get on LinkedIn and convince your organization to set aside a budget for conferences or tradeshows.