The Future of Hotel Technology Integration: There Is A Right Answer
There’s no doubt that innovation in IT can help the industry drive revenue and offer more customer centric offers. However, due to the challenges such as data silos and legacy systems, the hospitality industry is hindered from advancing and taking advantage of its most valuable resource – data. While there is a lot of existing innovation from a technology perspective in companies and startups that are building new applications and software, as highlighted by Pillau, the integration of legacy systems with such technology is not that easy and is very costly.
Without the right technology in place, the value of data is very low. “The amount of data that we generate is not recognized as a valuable asset,” said Booth. “Some hotels are just not able to wake up to that. We need to take a step back. It’s more a philosophical situation we’re in right now,” he continued, “Do we see the value of data?”
Changing the mindset about technology and innovation is one of the biggest challenges in the industry. “We look at technology as an afterthought,” said Worthington. “It needs to be thought in a different way – here is a problem I have in my system, I need to find the technology to solve it – instead of the current way of thinking – this is the system that everyone is using, it should work the same for me,” he said.
By looking at other leading industries, we can see the driving forces created by innovation and technology when the concept of open platforms and marketplaces has proven to be a success, like it has for Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, where data is at the core of their business.
One of the main data challenges is caused by the decentralized nature of the industry and legacy systems where all data is generated and stored. “The reality is that you own that data. You need access to that data and find ways to emancipate it into a format that you can actually leverage and use. Transform it from data to information to knowledge and wisdom. That’s our secret sauce at SnapShot,” said Booth.
“The biggest challenge we’re facing is getting data out and working with it,” continued Pillau, “I think what we have to promote is really the open systems of data models and openness of platforms.”
One of the ways to solve data challenges is utilizing education to change the industry mindset.
“Educating the industry from technology vendors to hoteliers enables the world to change and look different as opposed to how it looks today,” said Pillau.
Despite the challenges, the industry is in fact moving forward with many leading examples of organizations supporting the education of the industry and introducing higher standards, such as HFTP (Hospitality Finance and Technology Professionals) and HTNG (Hospitality Technology Next Generation).
“Revenue managers are evolving from revenue management to revenue optimization and if they don’t evolve quickly enough to use data science, they’ll be out of a job,” continued Booth. “We all need to look at the systems of data that we have, and move towards data science as a service because that’s really the next step. Revenue management will be the first tangible impact that will hit an individual hotel or a group very, very soon,” he said.
Legacy systems challenges
Although it’s been acknowledged that legacy systems are slowing down innovation in the industry, they are still in use by most hotels as it isn’t as simple as immediately retiring them and installing new cloud solutions.