Predictions for Hospitality Technology in 2016

By Bernard Ellis Vice President of Industry Strategy, Infor Hospitality | February 07, 2016

What a difference a year made in hospitality technology. For Americans, Chip-and-PIN/EMV appears to be the new Y2K – those who prepared are feeling terribly anti-climactic, and those who ostriched, so far, haven’t felt much pain. It did, however, provide more widespread awareness of the need for credit card tokenization, and data security in general. People who previously hadn’t moved to the cloud out of fear of losing data security, now started doing so to actually increase it. And the predicted revolution in HR did indeed happen, but rather than seeking more optimal staffing levels, today’s humming business levels made it more of a priority to leverage talent science to avoid bad hires – not only because they are costly, but because there’s simply no time for them.

More of the industry infused science into their revenue management practices too, but learned the hard lesson that it all begins with the data, and that some systems aren’t just a “cigar box” after all, as was also discovered by their colleagues who were attempting to power guest-facing apps from them. And a lot of system purchasers now have a heightened appreciation for vendors who actually seem to want their business, and for systems that actually do what the presentation made it sound like they would do.

Transaction System Overhaul

So what’s coming for the rest of 2016? First, re-read the last two sentences. Many predict that seemingly innocuous “cigar box” systems, such as PMS and POS, will be replaced in droves, and that data collection and security, ease of integration, and overall quality of partnership will actually take priority over system functionality. RMS, CRM, and HCM selections will be made with input from more stakeholders than in the past, but little of the debate will center around whether or not to go cloud.

Credit Card Security

As stated above, in the United States the October EMV/chip-and-pin liability shift deadline came and went with little fanfare. But, I’m afraid that doesn’t mean we won’t be talking about it for another year. But, shouldn’t it at least be a little less boring? If so many hotels blew past the deadline for investing in the new chip readers, shouldn’t we now be reading gripping stories about humiliated general managers and IT professionals getting hit with heavy fines, going to jail, or at least being brought downtown for questioning, as a result of their moral turpitude?

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.