By Ryan Hamilton
Back in 1999, the trajectory of a NASA satellite made the news – and not for the reasons you might expect. When the satellite reached its destination (Mars) to begin orbiting the planet, the Mars Climate Orbiter deviated course and crashed into the planet due to a ‘data integration error’. As it turns out, a breakdown between two software programs caused the satellite to navigate too close to the planet. While this represents an extreme example of a technological breakdown, it speaks to a common issue that exists across countless industries – especially hospitality.
In the world of hospitality, we talk a lot about legacy technology. Specifically, we talk about the ways in which legacy infrastructure has impeded the continued evolution of hospitality technology and digital connectivity. It’s our industry’s best kept secret – only, it isn’t a secret at all. The hospitality industry is notorious for its reliance on legacy technology, despite our intimate understanding of the bottleneck which this creates.
Oftentimes, it feels like hoteliers have one foot in the door leading to the future, and one foot planted firmly in the past. Our allegiance to the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality is our Achilles heel, informed by the belief that hospitality tradition could somehow be lost in the transition from legacy technology to new-age platforms. I assure you; the tradition of great service will not only remain intact throughout the departure from legacy tech – it will reach new heights.
You might be wondering – does legacy technology really deserve such a bad rap? What exactly is the issue with traditional, dated systems? Beyond the apparent limitations of systems built for a world (and a guest) that no longer reflect our current reality and the associated demands placed on hotels, legacy platforms are often closed systems. This means that legacy platforms are reluctant or, at times, unable to “open up” to third-party integrations which, in the era of the hotel technology stack, is a big problem for hoteliers hoping to optimize their operations. In fact, this is precisely where the Mars satellite crash scenario lends a valuable lesson.
A closed system is not only a costly dilemma (legacy systems are notorious for steep upgrade and integration fees), but it also creates a fragile environment defined by data silos. When systems can’t communicate with each other, hoteliers are unable to benefit from data-backed insights derived across cooperative platforms and, more often than not, systems can become unworkable or compromised. As you might have guessed, it’s not just the staff using the technology that suffers from this unfortunate consequence – it’s the guest. Is this really the tradition we hope to carry into the future?
From Legacy Technology to Open APIs
If legacy technology is the past, open API technology (application programming interface) is the undeniable future. It is estimated that any full-service hotel should be utilizing over 100 APIs with third-party applications to effectively meet the needs of modern guests. From the moment they step foot on property, to the moment they leave, guests today expect an increasingly digitally savvy experience that strikes a seamless balance between self-service convenience and hands-on, high-touch service. Mobile check-in and self-service kiosks, keyless room entry, AI-powered concierge services, guest messaging, voice-activated assistants, smart room technology, and more make up the current guest service ecosystem.
With this in mind, it’s increasingly important for these applications to possess the ability to connect and communicate with a hotel’s core systems, including the PMS, Sales and Catering, CRS, CRM, RMS, and more. Better integration across multiple systems leads to better data use that helps hotels remain competitive and one step ahead of guest needs. Ultimately, in today’s landscape, any technology vendor that doesn’t come to the table with an open API, cloud-based platform, and a selection of key integration partners, cannot claim to be an innovative, future-proof technology provider.
A Strategically Integrated Future
The topic of integration and truly connected technology has long been a focus of SalesAndCatering.com’s hotel software ecosystem. The development of our core offering, STS Cloud, takes all the features of our STS-R platform (a full-featured desktop sales and catering program) and expands them on an entirely web-based platform. The elimination of program installation, and increased flexibility of access on all devices, including iPads and phones, allows the hospitality professionals to work from any device they prefer, at any time. Additionally, there is a level enhanced service offered in the Cloud version, including multiple interfaces available for PMS systems. Both products provide clients the best choice for a well priced system, giving them all the flexibility to establish single or multi-property databases, single-user logins for corporate, regional, and area teams, and comprehensive reporting to properly track sales activity, booking pace, and detailing catering for ease of contract output.
More importantly, STS Cloud integrates with many of the best-of-breed solutions in hospitality technology, enabling hoteliers to do their best work effortlessly and often without leaving our software. Currently, our connectivity partners include:
– Oracle PMS
– StayNTouch PMS
– Skytouch PMS
– Choice Advantage PMS
– Jonas Chorum PMS
– Bay Lakes Information Systems PMS
– Sertifi (in progress)
The open API ecosystem has enabled an influx of interfaces across hospitality technology platforms, but at salesandcatering.com, we are careful not to push integrations for the sake of a press release. Why? Because that isn’t good business. We are here to supply amazing service to clients and, SalesandCatering.com prioritizes interfaces and integrations which are strategic towards the continued optimization of our client’s technology stack. We work to integrate effectively and seamlessly with the sales and catering ecosystem and all of the different products that impact that operations landscape.
With this in mind, when we consider the long-overdue departure from legacy technology and look ahead to the future of open API technology, it is strategic and client-focused interfaces that will offer the most meaningful impact to hotels looking to streamline their operational ecosystem, maximize revenue, and better serve their guests well into the future.