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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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.