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02/10/2022

3 Best Practices for Introducing Tech into the Hotel Ecosystem

New tech rollouts shouldn’t cause business interruptions.
Image
frustrated hotel manager in front of computer

Game-changing technology should be a gift, not a hardship. The hospitality and travel industry is dealing with enough of those for the foreseeable future. More hoteliers are putting faith in technology than ever before to automate operations and grow revenue, so why are operators and franchisees still having to contend with business interruptions that may come with a new technology rollout?

There are right and wrong ways to introduce technology into the hotel ecosystem, and all the tech in the world won’t make a blip on a hotel’s bottom line if it is not used or installed correctly. The need for an actionable—and realistic—implementation plan is paramount. It is only possible if hotel owners, operators, and technology partners are aligned strategically. You’re going to make an impact to the bottom line when the tech knows what you know, and you know what the tech knows—at your moment of need. Let’s talk best practices for applying that across the organization:

Plug & Play Is Key

Hoteliers are focused on operations—they have too little time (and maybe too few employees) to implement complicated new processes despite the promise of increased efficiency or revenue. In practice, operators will comply as best they can without falling behind the daily requirements of the business. This inevitably lengthens the amount of time a rollout may take, while potentially building a negative perception of the new tool among existing users and hotel staff.

When labor is limited as it is today, it is in hoteliers’ best interest to rely on the skills and expertise of their technology partners to enable a rollout to the best of their ability. While hoteliers are benefitting from the adoption of new tools, it is not necessary for them to take part in the installation or set up of any new tech. And this is not some futuristic ideal. Today’s hotel workers should encounter nothing short of a ready-to-use tool.

Hotels need to ensure they trust their technology partner to manage a rollout without disrupting ongoing business. Operators are consistently seeking ways to reduce the downtime spent learning a new system, but the biggest advantages come when an owner or hotel company rolls out technology at scale. If operators and franchisees can trust the tech they are receiving works without taking their attention away from their daily duties, then these tools will be adopted.

Keep It Simple Whenever Possible

There is plenty of time for complexity, but your grand vision and the ensuing disruption need to be broken down into simple messages. Tech investments often come about during periods of significant change for a hotel, and often they aren’t pursued in isolation. Tech upgrades are no different from other infrastructure changes that may impact a hotel’s operations. Changing the way hoteliers adjust pricing for each day may impact operations just as construction on a public area would.

A hotel wouldn’t attempt to stay open with all its guest rooms under maintenance at the same time, just as it can’t expect to operate efficiently if too many vital tools and processes are being disrupted simultaneously. While tech upgrades are often considered separate from other infrastructure investments, the impact they can have on operations and business processes, as well as the preparation required, are not necessarily different. Stacking numerous changes on top of one another at the same time can drag down operations and create an unnecessary pain point for hotel workers, which should be avoided at all costs.

Operators who have confidence in their tools are likely to use them. The best way to foster trust between hoteliers and new innovations is to keep things simple. If hoteliers are informed on how a system works and what they can expect in advance, they can be prepared to deal with the choke points that come with new changes head-on.

Solutions could be as basic as a guide to adjust strategy on a busy day, to prioritizing your daily time in the system, to simply explaining the “why” a value is important. Always ensure the technology, supporting processes and training serve each of your audiences and that those objectives have been made clear to them as well.

Many challenges are often the result of growing pains as a property adapts to a new organizational strategy, but the early days of an implementation are some of the most important. Hotel brands and technology partners share this responsibility in nearly equal measure. Tech vendors must design their tools in a way that suits hotel operations, and it is necessary for brands to provide access to learning tools and support to help hoteliers adapt to their new technology and processes.

You’ve Set It, Don’t Forget It

A tech rollout is only as good as the analytics it provides, so results should be measured to ensure participation across the organization is as desired. Hoteliers can work with their technology partners to find gaps in rollout, engagement, and other areas for improvement to remain consistent across the evolving portfolio.

The best way an organization can track real engagement with a system is through direct communication with hotels’ operations teams. A good communication strategy for a successful tech rollout includes clear and compelling messaging in advance of the launch and after its implementation, supported by detail directly from the technology to demonstrate success.

Adoption is a powerful indicator of how well revenue management technology is being positioned to improve a hotel’s operating and revenue efficiency, and this includes any time it takes to ramp up the new tech. By seeking opportunities to address hotel partners’ questions, concerns, and challenges, technology partners can identify areas to focus on well before anyone is forced to.

There are many audiences we must serve when changing technology, but at its core, it should always improve the business. Hotel owners, operators and technology partners should always engage collaboratively to meet that goal.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With nearly two decades of hospitality, travel technology, and digital transformation expertise, Blake Madril offers a strong background in hotel business strategy, travel industry trends, and revenue management consulting. As Principal Industry Consultant to both IDeaS and its clients, he is responsible for global initiatives to maximize revenue technology and the supporting strategies aimed at helping hospitality, and new industries pioneering revenue management, develop the people and processes to optimize profitability.