February 20 2017

Technology Keeps Moving Forward; Are Hotel’s Keeping Pace?

Uh oh.

In the past, it was a well-known truism that the hospitality industry was slower to adopt newer technologies, and lagged behind many others industries when it came to introducing innovations to streamline operations and run more efficiently. Well, according to a new study it seems that the industry is still stuck in the past when it comes to moving onto better things.  

The research from ‘The Hotel Industry in 2020’ carried out by Peter O’Connor, IDeaS Revenue Solutions, Revinate and SiteMinder, asked hundreds of leading hoteliers around the world which technology hotels could not be without in 2020, and surprisingly (and disappointingly) respondents named those already implemented in many hotels i.e. revenue management systems, customer relationship management systems, property management systems, channel managers and e-marketing solutions. Not only that but way back in 2007, Peter O’Connor examined some of the tech issues that were ranked as the most important for hoteliers; problems included things like standardizing property management systems, consolidating guest data, enhancing online distribution and refocusing in-room systems – unsurprisingly all these issues are still hanging in the air today to be dealt with. “These results reflect the high degree of conservatism within the hotel industry, particularly when it comes to technology. It is as if the industry is still preoccupied with the same issues as ten years ago.Thomas Landen, EMEA marketing manager at Revinate.

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So what’s the problem – why can’t we move forward? No one can argue with the fact that the pace of technological change has been astounding and it can be challenging to keep up sometimes — but today, it’s essential for those who want to grow their businesses.

While lack of budget can be an obstacle, as mentioned by Landen, conservatism in the hotel industry is a big problem; there is a lack of tech-savvy hoteliers. “For as long as I’ve been in this industry there have been a relatively few hotel managers who really get technology, who know how to use it and know what numbers to monitor to ensure above average results.  Many more feel that their priority should be on maintaining an appealing property and good guest relationships.” Jon Inge Independent Technology Consultant

Similarly many hoteliers are simply afraid of the change new technology may bring and the perceived hassle involved in upgrading to a new system. Systems can be unreliable, vulnerable and incapable of interacting with other systems, but as long as it’s adequate, hoteliers see little incentive to replace it. Even if a piece of hardware breaks and must be replaced, there’s often more concern about whether the obsolete utilities required to run the old software can be found and installed on the new hardware than on taking advantage of newer approaches. “It’s a pretty common phenomenon – the fear of change, so no great revelations there. But what is perhaps a little more unsettling is the contrasting view between business survival and a fear of being “too efficient” and risking jobs as a result, yet ironically the failure of one will surely lead to the certainty of the other. …The speed at which technology is progressing can be frightening, but when all is said and done, businesses simply want to use system that work. This conservatism or fear of change however, does lead to many businesses operating with poor old technology for too long; and this means the business loses monet and spends more time than is needed on expensive administration” Jerry Brand, Caternet MD.

We know that technology can help hotels drive their business objectives better and are key to a hotel success – yet few hoteliers are investing in advancements. So, as technology keeps moving forward how can we change hoteliers’ mind-set to move with it? According to the panelists of the latest report, they believe, in order to break the cycle, they advocate for the rise of a new breed of hotel management, one that includes applying a different set of skills and mindset capable of pushing technology forward—a process already successful within industries such as retail and banking.

Here’s hoping in ten years time that we’ve moved on… and we won’t talking about the same technology issues!