Predictions for Hospitality Technology in 2016

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

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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.