By Steve Lapekas, Chief Operations Officer and EVP, Business Development for APS (Above Property Services)

“Sorry, you’ll have to give me a minute. I think I have to delete some things off my phone,” muttered my colleague, whom I had met up with for coffee, as he squinted at his iPhone in an exasperated fashion. “I have 128 GB of storage; I don’t understand how this always happens.” Of course, this is a familiar technological crux, as iPhone users frequently complain of operational dysfunction as their phone storage creeps towards its capacity limits. More often than not, this problem arrives not because we’ve all assumed the role of an amateur photographer and maxed out our photo albums; but because we simply have too many apps installed on our devices. In many ways, iPhones represent the ultimate tool for connectivity and convenience with credit to the apps they’re able to store and run; however, with too many apps taking up backend real estate, the functionality of these devices may be compromised.

There is a lesson to be learned here. Technology is designed to liberate us, but can it begin to weigh us down at a certain point? This is a question that any technologist must consider, as well as any business owner – especially those that rely on ‘technology stacks’ to bring their product or service to market. A tech stack is a set of technologies stacked together to build any application. Within industries such as hospitality, the adoption of tech stacks marked an important evolution. For many years, legacy technology was the hospitality industry’s hypothetical elephant in the room, as countless hotels were weighed down and held back by tenured platforms that had failed to evolve over time. Fortunately, by moving away from the limitations of those legacy, monolithic, ‘one-size-fits-all’ systems, hotel brands have entered a new world of digital possibility and efficiency.

Today, many hotels instead ‘stack’ different applications and platforms; for example, a PMS from one vendor, and a CRM from another (and so on), until they’ve created the ideal stack of platforms that offer the functionality their property requires. While this transition beyond the confines of legacy technology was (and still is) undeniably important, we must also recognize that tech stacks come with a cost of their own. Just as hotels were notoriously weighed down by legacy technology, many hotels are now weighed down by tech stacks that constantly propagate with new, siloed applications.

Is Your Hotel Experiencing Tech Stack Fatigue?

Let’s think back to the iPhone storage scenario I described earlier. As technology continues evolving at a blistering pace, many of us struggle to stay current; after all, there always seems to be a new phone model or app fighting for consumer interest and adoption. Over time, if we take a more critical inventory of the contents of our phone, we may realize that our device is home to countless apps we don’t actually use or apps with overlapping functionality. And if you’re like my colleague, the weight of those unused or overlapping applications may, eventually, begin to erode your user experience.

In many ways, hotel brands are plagued with this same dilemma. As hotels look to keep up with (or better yet, remain ahead of) ever-changing guest demands, they may acquire an influx of individual tools and applications that add unnecessary weight to their tech stack. While this may work in the short term, this digital patchwork approach often becomes harder to manage over the long term as hotel brands look to scale, reduce costs, and prioritize operational efficiency. Hotel staff may also become frustrated with incongruent systems and the fragmented workflows and data silos they often create; are multiple platforms and applications creating unnecessary double work for staff?

The Bedrock of a Future-Proof Tech Stack

Simply stated – more isn’t always better, and tech stacks comprised of more applications don’t always offer more functionality. Hoteliers should aim to piece together the best toolbox for the problems they’re looking to solve, not the overflowing toolbox with duplicates and broken or unused implements.

To this effect, recent PEGA research indicates that application switching (“the virtual swivel chair of the workplace”) is a significant problem for workplaces across industries. The users analyzed in their research reportedly switched applications over 1,100 times a day, toggling between as many as 35 applications in each shift. “Workers using 30 applications or more in a shift have a 28%  higher error rate than those using fewer apps,” the report reads. “Expanded over the years, this means hours, and potentially days, of lost time, as well as highly error-prone activity.” Moreover, according to SHRM, having too many platforms in the workplace can create a negative experience for employees. Too many tools in the operational toolbox can, in many instances, lead to problems for employees and, in turn, the businesses they serve.

When auditing an existing tech stack, hoteliers should look to answer the following questions:

  1. How many essential platforms are currently in use?
  2. Do any of the platforms or applications in use have overlapping functionality?
  3. Are all platforms built upon an open API and able to seamlessly integrate with other applications?
  4. Are all platforms easy to update, maintain, and scale?
  5. Are employees regularly engaging with (and benefitting from) the use of these platforms, or is user adoption low?
  6. Are there any siloed platforms or applications which could be replaced by a more innovative, all-in-one hospitality platform?
  7. Is your hotel getting measurable value and ROI from all the tools you use?

For hoteliers, it’s increasingly imperative to prioritize creating a digital infrastructure that is not just modern but adaptable and fully integrated. Personalization cannot be achieved without data, but data cannot be leveraged if it is siloed within applications that don’t play nicely with other platforms. Moreover, superior guest service cannot be achieved without digital automation and efficiency, but hotel staff cannot be liberated from time-consuming, monotonous operational tasks via increasingly fragmented workflows. Finally, operational scalability cannot be achieved without the continued support of new-age platforms and their providers. Still, hotels do not have time to proactively manage relationships with an ever-growing list of vendors that offer varying degrees of support.

With this in mind, the case for a more streamlined tech stack or, better yet, a more comprehensive, multi-functional, and flexible solution becomes undeniable. Hotels must look for platforms (and technology partners) that help them plan for the future. Fortunately, when revising an existing tech stack or purchasing new technology, it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Technology adoption and evolution is meant to be iterative, allowing hotels to work with vendors to build out more customized digital solutions as their requirements (and guest expectations) change. This is precisely why Above Property Services created Hotel-In-A-Box®: a gift-wrapped, all-in-one solution for independent hotels which includes an Internet Booking Engine, GDS, Channel Manager, c-PMS, i-RMS, and more.

Hoteliers, is it not time to shed some of the weight of your tech stack and take a more frictionless and scalable path forward?