December 11 2014

Time for Hotel Technology to Move to the Post-PC Era?

The front desk is one of the entry-level positions for those starting a career in the hotel industry. What was my first job in a hotel? It was as a front desk agent on the swing shift at the Best Western Mardi Gras in Las Vegas…which worked out great while I was a student at UNLV. The next time you to check in at a hotel, go to the front desk staff and look at all those young fresh faces! And what technology trend defines this group of future hotel leaders? Touch computing / mobility / smartphones / constant connection and constant availability of information. Yet the great majority of today’s hotel technology is still designed with the PC in mind. Tab and field driven user experiences, ”point & click” navigation, busy busy screens. What’s up? Why haven’t the industry’s tech providers delivered on what technology leaders (such as MIT’s David Clark, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates) pointed out as early as 2007…that the world is moving to the Post-PC Era.

First, just what IS the “Post-PC Era”? Wikipedia sites defining it as follows…

POST PC ERA: The decline in…personal computers in favor of post-PC devices; including mobile devices…smartphones and tablet computers…emphasizing mobility and connectivity, including…cloud-based services & consumerization of the user experience.

This move is occurring in almost every industry, re-inventing both how enterprise technology is deployed and used, how business processes are dramatically improved AND how customers can be engaged on the devices they carry with them everyday. Restaurants (cloud/tablet POS, OpenTable), Transportation (Amtrak apps, Uber), Retail (again cloud/tablet POS, iBeacon)…etc etc etc.

So, what specifically are the business benefits for this new world? Matt Baxter-Reynolds, author of “Death of the PC” lists in a ZDNet Article the following…

  • Enterprise solutions will generally be very lightweight, cheap, and easy.

  • Implementing them should be a process of checking boxes and long, lazy, self-congratulatory lunches.

  • Mobility allows the user (hotel staff) to break outside of the physical and temporal boundaries of work-space

That is quite a list! I still remember my experience at an Apple store when I first experienced what could be called a “Post-PC Service Experience”. The store was very busy…as Apple stores often are. The very nice Apple guy helped me find the widget I was seeking. At that point, I turned to go get into the very long line at the ‘register’. At that point, Apple guy pulls out a mobile POS terminal from his pocket, scanned my purchase, ran my credit card and emailed me my receipt…boom…done…AMAZING! Imagine the impact this kind of personalized, more engaging service exchange can have on the hotel business! In an industry that competes with service, the early adopters will run rough-shod around those that are slow to integrate these industry-changing, service enhancing evolutions.

Have thoughts or opinions on the topic? Please post a comment and I’ll get right back to you!!