2019/2020 Tech Deep Dive with Charlestowne Hotels
When it comes to leveraging technology in the hospitality industry, a seamless consumer experience is always the end goal – after all, if the tech doesn’t make life easier, then what’s the point? As such, many hotels are upgrading and renovating to seamlessly integrate new technologies into their plans, whether it’s to make operations run more smoothly, or help guests navigate with more ease.
For example, the St. Regis Atlanta tapped into the services of Mode:Green to support its latest smart building design. Complete with automation to welcome guests (upon check-in, the staff remotely opens the shades, adjusts the temperature, and brightens the lights), to an iPad on the bedside for guests, integrating technology helps to provide a better guest experience, while smoothing operations for hotel staff.
So while technology is on the forefront of many hotel executives’ minds now and in the future, HT caught up with Vice President of Operations Gavin Philipp, and Vice President of Marketing Michael Cady, to see what Charlestowne Hotels has been working on as we enter the last quarter of 2019, and what’s on the horizon for 2020.
Seamless Communication Tech
According to Philipp, as we are entering the end of this year, Charlestowne Hotels is in the process of rolling out a highly comprehensive and operational internal operating communications tool across its portfolio. Essentially, it’s a platform that can be accessed by computer or mobile devices which allows its hotels to communicate a number of different things seamlessly. On the inside, it provides auto capabilities for equipment and facility maintenance, and includes guest/employee messaging capabilities, concierge features, and logging capabilities such as lost and found or shift pass-on information.
“We’ve rolled this tech out across six properties so far, and we’re hoping to have a vast majority of our hotels on the platform by the end of the year,” Philipp says.
As for 2020, Philipp notes that Charlestowne Hotels is looking to fully integrate the financial reporting system it currently uses into all of its efforts.
He explains, “Historically, we’ve only used it for financial statements – now, we’re using it for budgeting, forecasting, creating real-time dashboards (so that our hotels and corporate staff have access to revenue), expenses and labor data at their fingertips. We’ll have custom dashboards for GMs, revenue managers and operations team members, incorporating all kinds of customized widgets and metrics.”
The underlying goal in integrating this technology is “to have a stronger finger on the pulse as it relates to real time financial performance management,” Philipp adds. “As the industry becomes hyper competitive and more stable, a heightened focus is warranted, especially as it relates to expense management.”
Outside Industry Inspiration
With its internal operating communications tool underway, and a stronger financial performance management system on the horizon, HT asked, ‘What industry outside of hospitality do you keep a close eye on for tech inspiration?’
According to Cady, “online retail is so ahead of the game – from larger brands like Amazon and Nike to boutique brands that are targeting niche customers through paid social opportunities where users can even shop through Instagram.”
He explained that these retail companies make direct purchases seem so easy, even though it’s quite complex on the back end.
“Hotels should try and follow suit – we want to be in a place where guests can put their thumb on their phone, have their details and preferences auto-filled and then enjoy their stay,” Cady adds. “While we’ve seen major steps forward in the last three years, there still isn’t enough emphasis on connecting branding, UI/UX and guest technology as it relates to hotel bookings, and there needs to be.”
Cady closes, “I think the major brands within our hotel industry are taking huge steps forward and are investing in the technology.” However he cautions that the independent sector needs to follow.