By Jason Q. Freed
There are three stages of the hospitality data lifecycle, starting with adopting the cloud for digital document management. As an industry we’ve made progress, now let’s unpack the work that remains to be done.
To best understand where the hospitality industry stands in terms of its adoption of digital tools and cloud-based solutions, it’s important to step back and look quickly at the big picture.
First, as far away as it seems, remember that the internet itself wasn’t a widely popular tool until about 20 years ago. But it changed the game so quickly for consumers that businesses scrambled to adopt their operating models for a new age. As the internet paved the way for cloud storage and cloud computing, businesses within hospitality and other industries again took various approaches to leverage the incredible capabilities.
For two decades, hundreds of hospitality solutions providers have tackled individual challenges in their own unique ways, to the point where, frankly, it’s somewhat of a mess today. Many systems are built on legacy platforms that provide barriers to integration. Outside of that, getting disparate systems to talk to each other, share, and centralize data is costly and cumbersome.
But, remember, it has only been 20 years. We’ve made great strides, we’ve learned a ton, and we’ve identified the right path forward in many cases. Many companies are understanding the value of centralizing and sharing data for the collective benefit of helping owners and operators run a better business.
For hoteliers, there are three critical stages of hospitality data management to consider:
– 1. Moving data storage and management into the cloud
– 2. Extracting the right data to gain business-wide intelligence
– 3. Using data as a framework to build your commercial strategy
Below, we’ll unpack Stage 1 in more detail, identifying why moving your tools and data into the cloud will help you build the framework for a long and successful data management strategy. In future pieces, we’ll discuss how hoteliers are extracting, aggregating and analyzing their portfolio-wide data to make smarter business decisions.
Embrace the Cloud
For many operators still relying on legacy systems, it’s easy to get comfortable and blame things like deployment time and training as reasons for not moving to the cloud. But planting the seed now will bear fruit in the near future. It’s time to adopt cloud data management and Software-as-a-Service solutions, because neither are going away, and by delaying the inevitable you risk falling behind your competition.
In many cases, on-property systems hinder hotel companies’ ability to operate effectively and deliver the best guest experience. Cloud technologies with SaaS models enable hospitality businesses to accelerate speed-to-market and pave the way for innovation that drives new business outcomes. It allows businesses to quickly adjust course to capitalize on industry shifts and emerging technologies.
Key benefits of operating in a cloud environment:
– Increased efficiency through automation. Let’s face it, there are probably fewer team members on staff today than there were a few years ago, but there’s more to do. Team members can’t spend an inordinate amount of time manually downloading files, exporting reports, shipping paper – the back office teams need to get more done with fewer resources. Moving your critical documents and data into a secure cloud environment automates most of those processes.
– Ensure security and compliance. Moving compliance documents into a secure cloud environment ensures delivery and approval in a timely manner. This increases accountability across your business and ensures you’ve got all the necessary documents easily accessible should you need to access key financial information. Today’s solution providers keep their environments up to date with the latest security patches and conduct regular vulnerability scans. Data should be stored separate from applications to safeguard from impacting data should a system server go down.
– Reduce your environmental footprint. Smart companies today are prioritizing sustainability and building a better future. A sustainable hotel takes care of the planet by consuming fewer resources and avoiding toxic waste. A new generation of travelers wants to patronize properties that align with their values, and are willing to pay more for sustainable offerings. Many group rate RFP’s often now include requests for information on sustainability practices. By adopting digital document management and removing the file storage room and paper transportation process, the environmental impact is effective and measurable.
What Cloud Means for You
Hotels shouldn’t be storing night audits, accounting files, performance reports, or any other financial documents in a cabinet in the back office. Cloud data storage removes your burden of storing and sharing physical documents. Now the files, data and reports that team members across your organization need to see and approve with the click of a button are available in real time.
Building the framework of your data management strategy in the cloud will pave the way for unpacking that data, analyzing it, and actioning it. With the right data, your teams will be armed to make better business decisions that drive performance well into the future.