The Unique Technology Challenges Faced by Large Hotel Chains (Part 1 of 2 Part Series)
by Binu Mathew, CEO of IDS Next
Bangalore, September 17, 2019: The hospitality industry, perhaps more than any other, is facing massive disruption. For large hotel chains, the continued onset and evolution of the digital age requires constant adaptation on behalf of brands. So as guest needs and expectations continue to evolve, hotels must establish nimble, flexible, agile hotel organizations.
At the same time, rapid innovation in technology has made a variety of traditionally separate solutions that are now converging. This can make for a challenging landscape, especially for larger hotel chains, which are often faced with a unique set of challenges relating to technology.
Some of the challenges are:
- Implementation and integrations
- Large hotel chains have multiple options and multiple vendors making the management of this challenging
- Creating a true partnership with their software provider
- Support and service of the software
- As hotel chains grow through acquisitions or new builds, their technology partner needs to assure them that they can scale.
- Solutions catered for hotel companies that offer multiple brands
- Flexibility to provide both cloud and on-premise solutions
Continued innovation may be the answer, but what does that path to innovation look like? How can hoteliers recognize and combat those tech-specific challenges? Ultimately, how can large hotel brands best position their properties to remain ahead of trends and remain in lockstep — or better yet, ahead of — cutting-edge competitors?
Ease of Installation and Integration
Most modern hotel platforms come with a host of exciting features and capabilities. However, a hotel property cannot truly benefit from the enhanced functionality of new technology if it’s unable to integrate with some of the property’s existing software. The operational backbone of a hotel, especially in the case of large hotel chains, is a highly sophisticated property management system. If modules or disparate systems are unable to communicate with each other and the PMS in real-time, hoteliers are unable to effectively utilize data and enhance the guest experience. This contributes to the creation of data silos (segmented groups of data from a hotels CRM, CRS, POS, Social Media, etc.) rather than a single, holistic view of guest data across all touchpoints. Legacy systems were notorious for this short-coming, often offering integration only at a high cost to hoteliers, or through means of expensive upgrades.
Smaller and independent hotel brands often can be more agile with respect to technological change and updates, while larger brands require more time to approve and process large-scale shifts. The focus should now be on all-in-one hotel platforms which offer easy integration through the use of an open API, centralized data integration, and flexible, customizable options. Even further, the installation process should be entirely streamlined — ensuring a quick and painless update across multiple properties.
A Centralized Solutions Provider
It’s essential to recognize that although there is no ‘one size fits all’ management solution, there do exist platforms which offer a robust portfolio of features. On the front end, hotels need to deliver consistent, guest-centric experiences across all channels to drive sales and loyalty. Behind the scenes, driving process efficiencies, visibility, and control over spend is how you maximize profit.
In coordination with an open infrastructure, enterprise technology systems with integrated modules and customizable options allow for a more centralized and organized management structure. Although a stack of individual implementations may work well within a single property, their value diminishes if they lack the potential to be extended and centralized across the hotel’s other features. Not only can this affect revenue, but it creates the opportunity for inconveniences, which negatively impact the guest experience. Reports show that non-standardized systems at different hotels introduce unwanted learning periods for guests during their stay.
Rather than working towards the individual implementation of multiple solutions, hoteliers can vet and select an all-in-one hotel ERP provider which offers an enterprise, multi-module system aligned with the service delivery promise of large-scale, branded hotels. Ultimately, management of the operational ecosystem can be challenging — with this in mind; hoteliers should aim to find a provider that offers a high percentage of what is required to run their hotels.
Support and Service
In the world of hospitality technology, support and service can make or break a technology partnership. Large hotel brands are comprised of so many intricate moving parts — micro-managing a new collaboration isn’t in the cards.
While vetting prospective solutions, hoteliers must pay mind to the level of support offered by each provider. Are they looking to engage in a transactional relationship or a long-term partnership? Is the training process complex, and does it require elaborate staff training? Is the interface user-friendly and intuitive? Are upgrades installed automatically, or based upon regional issues that need manual interference? In terms of program enhancements, can the software be upgraded promptly? These are just a few of the questions that hoteliers should ask when implementing a new system, as large hotel brands should look to establish a genuine, collaborative partnership with their software provider.