June 20 2014

After 19x at HITEC, I’ve Learned a Few Things about Hotel Technology Trends

As we at StayNTouch approach our inaugural HITEC Conference in Los Angeles next week (a big deal!), I find myself thinking back over the past 19 or so HITEC’s that I’ve attended. My very first HITEC was flooded with the ubiquitous MICROS Fidelio gold brochure in 1995 promoting the release of the OPERA Property Management System…well, maybe the release didn’t happen then, but the promotion sure did.

While I realize that there are many other industry veterans who have been to more HITEC’s…19 visits has afforded me some perspective. The thought occurred to me that I’ve actually been around long enough to see actual trends be created, develop and grow! It does date me a bit, but I moved from working in hotels (Colonnade Hotel Boston) to working in hotel technology right when the DOS to Windows revolution began in earnest in hotels. My first job was with Newmarket Int’l selling Delphi and I was there to see the launch of Breeze, Newmarket’s first Windows product (who remembers!?). OTA’s were born and continue their growth. Distribution management, web booking/marketing and CRM are a few others that were beginning and have grown to be substantial technologies in our industry.

As I think about these transformative technologies, I think what’s the next big thing for hotel technology?? Perhaps its leveraging BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). Maybe its integrating Google Glass. Maybe its something really cool that I don’t even know about.
Maybe, just maybe, its right in front of us…mobility. Yes, that seems obvious as mobility continues to transform industry after industry. Telecom, Music, Airlines…and yes, Hotels, though far more slowly than many others. The hotel industry is still trying to come to grips with the skyrocketing % of hotel bookings made from smart phones. And guess what…the OTA’s are winning that race.

I do not believe that I’m alone when I say that there is no technology today that has the power to redefine our industry more than mobility. Mobility for hotel staff…for front desk, engineering and for housekeeping. A more flexible, efficient staff will be able to provide a higher level of service at reduced costs to the operation (training, infrastructure, etc). Mobility for guests…the great majority of your guests are carrying around amazingly powerful communication & engagement devices in their pockets…the smartphone. The time will come when all hotels will put engaging, integrated experiences on their guests devices. Why? Because the guests will (and are already) demand this connection.

So, as we enter the 2014 HITEC, look around…how many tablets and smartphones do you see in the hands of the attendees. Almost all of those attendees are staying in a hotel somewhere nearby…and so are their mobile devices.

All that said I’m still not quite sure about Twitter