Upping the Ante: The Evolution of Hospitality Technology In 2015

By Bernard Ellis President & Founder, Lodgital Insights LLC | 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.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.