Ithaca, NY, November 30, 2016 – A wide-ranging discussion at Cornell University on the impact of technology in the hospitality realm, involving two-dozen industry leaders, touched on such topics as the adoption of cloud computing, best practices for rolling out new technologies, and online marketing strategies.

A full report on the event, “High-Tech, High-Touch: Highlights from the 2016 Entrepreneurship Roundtable,” by Mona Anita K. Olsen and Jennifer Blumenfeld, is available from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. Olsen is an assistant professor and academic director of the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, where Blumenfeld is a student.

In a session titled “Voice of the Crowd on the Cloud,” panelists noted that consumers, acting as “the crowd” on social media platforms, now serve as social and environmental responsibility watchdogs, holding businesses accountable for their actions. “The cloud gives the consumer a loud, amplified voice; companies are held to a higher than ever level of morality and accountability as a result,” said Larry Hall, president and CEO of Trillium Services Group. Hospitality businesses were advised to use the same social media connections to mitigate consumers’ concerns while building public trust.

Roundtable participants addressed the pros and cons of in-house versus outsourced technology systems, suggesting that while outside contractors may deliver a better solution in a more timely fashion, hospitality businesses are advised to create an in-house technology team to oversee implementation and delivery of new services. One hurdle for the industry in technology implementation is its conservative outlook, participants said. Jules Sieburgh, of Jules A Sieburgh LLC, said, “Not legacy systems, but legacy thinking is what is holding us behind in the hospitality industry.”

When new technologies are implemented, hospitality businesses should not lose sight of the person-to-person interactions that define them, roundtable participants noted. Christopher Sanson of Code Union suggested the use of technology at “the pain points,” specifically in the food and beverage industry where improvements are made in the back-of-house without directly affecting the front-of-house guest experiences.