By Larry and Adam Mogelonsky
Lean operations are the name of the game as we prepare for an interesting year ahead. While international travel has reopened and the vaccine has boosted confidence, news stories emerging over the winter months may cause a full recovery to sputter. Right now, there’s a COVID-19 surge in Europe with more lockdowns imminent, while the hotel industry continues to contend with the macro trends of labor and supply chain shortages.
Putting all this together, we can’t definitely say that 2022 will see a full-fledged return to 2019 occupancy numbers. To keep a healthy operating margin and still uphold quality service levels, the saving grace for hospitality will be automation technologies. But in order to seamlessly digitalize our operations so that lean teams can be more productive, hotels can no longer tolerate pieces of the tech stack that don’t talk to each other or connect to a centralized hub (be it a PMS, CRM or CDP).
Luckily, vendors are also aware of this concern and the latest products available stress integrations, APIs and versatile operations platforms that sit one tier above the PMS. Broadly speaking, the hotel tech industry is consolidating onto a series of universal platforms that can manage a variety of tasks with better analytics, lookalike marketing prospects and team accountability. And as platforms blend together, so too will previously siloed departments for hotels to realize additional labor savings.
However, the path to simpler, cheaper tech stacks isn’t a fanciful yellow brick road. Working towards one system will involve a lot of pain in migrating data and onboarding new systems. Moreover, both of us would argue that this platform convergence into one ubiquitous system is not happening fast enough relative to other industries, ultimately to the detriment of your revenues and the ability to rein in costs.
Acting as owners’ representatives for various hotels, it still amazes us how many aspects of a property depend on excel spreadsheets stored on a manager’s hard drive, often without any cloud copies or digitalized backups (ones that connect into other systems). Moreover, when it comes to integrations or API development, various platforms map and pull select data points from one another on an as-needed (or as-programmed) basis rather than pushing everything to a single hub for other pieces of the stack to then collect. Many connections are still customized one-offs rather than innate abilities.
What’s critical for 2022 is to understand this overarching trend then set a multiyear goal of looking for ways to bring all your data and processes under one roof. How can you do more with less? How can you use tech to keep staffing levels low while still increasing productivity? This will require a vigilant eye for tech and, of course, some budget (SaaS and human capital) for the transition. The competition will be fierce in the decade ahead and data-driven decision making will be what inevitably builds revenues, cuts costs and protects the value of any hotel asset.
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Editor’s note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry or Adam directly.