Upping the Ante: The Evolution of Hospitality Technology In 2015

By Bernard Ellis Vice President of Industry Strategy, Infor Hospitality | November 23, 2014

2014 has been a big year for the hospitality industry as a whole. Business is improving, and many hoteliers are seeing larger Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR) gains than they have in several years. Technology has played a critical role in the effort to grow revenue while simultaneously managing rising costs, and it will continue to be an important part of changes in the industry as we enter the new year.

Some technology trends from 2014 will persist into 2015 in a continuation of their current state, but others will shift in focus as business applications, and the mindset of hoteliers, change to examine existing processes in new and different ways. Ultimately security, the cloud, analytics and big data, and human capital management strategies will be primary focus areas for organizations looking to minimize costs and increase efficiency.

Continued Movement to the Cloud

According to a recent study, 33 percent of hotel and gaming companies are already using cloud-based applications for property and revenue management.(1) Another 35 percent intend to migrate their property management system in the next eighteen months, half of which intend to move to the cloud. Most cite cost savings, enhanced guest services, increased revenue, and improved operational efficiency as motivators for selecting cloud deployment.

These numbers prove that the cloud is no longer a “bleeding edge” route taken only by few. Its benefits have been clearly established, and many hoteliers are shifting from apprehension to recognition that this is the logical next step for their business applications. Companies are now asking how do we move to the cloud, rather than why. The most important thing for organizations taking this route to remember is that selecting the right vendor is critical to a successful cloud implementation. Choosing a solution that delivers the same in-depth, industry-specific functionality as an on-premise system while demonstrating compliance with ISO-27001 guidelines is essential to ensure that the organization’s needs are met and security remains a priority.

Integration is also key because cloud-based applications cannot maximize their potential if data silos are created in the wake of their implementation. Benefits will not be fully realized unless systems are connected for automated, real-time information exchange, which also enables a holistic view of the company and allows for easy upgrades. Visibility across multiple properties is critical for better decision-making and optimization of revenue management.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.