By Jos Schaap CEO and Founder – StayNTouch
When it comes to hotel technology, are hotels and their system providers on the same page?
The answer to the question can be found in the 2018 Hospitality Technology Study (available for download here) conducted by the leading hospitality technology brands Fuel Travel, Flip.to, and StayNTouch. Over 358 respondents, responsible for buying or selling hospitality technology were asked to identify common priorities along with potential divides among hoteliers and suppliers.
Some of the key takeaways:
1. Guest experience is a top priority; leveraging technology is how we accomplish this.
2. The industry is lacking technology integration; educate, improve, and invest wisely.
3. Hoteliers and vendors are mostly on the same page; can we save time and money?
4. Hotels struggle with data; they’re asking for supplier support.
5. Don’t believe the hype; the next best shiny tech isn’t always the next best shiny tech. Again, take advantage of the tools and the research in order to invest wisely.
When asked about their top three hotel technology challenges, it was no surprise to me that both groups agreed that the number one challenge was a lack of integration between products (note that twice as many suppliers chose this). In the number two spot, hoteliers cited increasing costs, while suppliers cited a lack of innovation. Both of these ideas are true and have everything to do with the lack of integration . Finally, both groups agreed that meeting guest expectations was the third largest challenge in terms of new technology.
Overwhelmingly, 55.2% of hoteliers were not satisfied with their current PMS provider. My guess is that this is because many hotels are reluctant to move from legacy PMS systems to more modern ones. Other hotel technologies rated a bit higher for the most part. However, based on other questions in the survey related to provider support – it would make sense that hoteliers may feel good about the technology but not as good about the service they’re receiving to support the technologies.
When considering the most important factors for choosing new solutions, both groups agreed that ROI, integration to current technology, and ease of use were top priorities. Support, price, and mobility were also top priorities. As our industry evolves to the new open architecture environment, the period for transitioning and connecting systems can take less time and should not add recurring expenses. Hotels are now able to transition to a new cloud-based PMS seamlessly, with no large upfront hardware investments as we finally see the trend move away from the old model of proprietary systems and costly integrations.
Top priorities for booking engine solutions were: integration with PMS and website, ease of use for guests, and mobility. But herein lies another difference. Hotels were focused on ease of use for their systems while suppliers were looking at ease of use for the guest. Still, mobile friendliness held a much higher priority for hoteliers, and in turn for their guests. Ease of use with systems translates to ease of use for guests so in the end, these two priorities are more closely aligned than the survey responses might suggest.
The overall shared consensus provides the best starting point for both groups invested in building open solutions that will continue to redefine the technology landscape over the next few years. Further down the list of priorities: chatbots, virtual reality, and blockchain, all of which came in last place. Whether this is because of a failure to deliver on the promise of this technology, or a failure to understand the value of it, no matter: AI is likely an important advancement for both hoteliers and suppliers alike. Voice search was also determined to be another major disruptor on the horizon.
To me, the survey results are very encouraging. There should definitely be a continued honest exchange of ideas and dialogue between hotels and technology leaders for the greater good of our industry. As we narrow the gaps and come together toward an even more dynamic and integrated technology future, we look forward to building stronger partnerships with greater communication around creating the most flexible solutions, designed to satisfy guest and hotel business needs today and for years to come.