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4 Ways to Clear Tech Hurdles

Delivering a seamless, personalized experience requires the elegant behind-the-scenes orchestration of many different technologies. This is far from easy — or inexpensive.

HTNG has just chartered four new workgroups aimed at reducing the time, cost and other obstacles standing between hoteliers and ideal brand experiences. All workgroups are now welcoming industry participants.
1. Easier Wi-Fi Access
Hotels want guests to easily and securely book rooms or amenities, use digital keys, control in-room systems, respond to offers and communicate with staff. But most hotels lack a mechanism for easy guest Wi-Fi authentication across properties.

Building on previous HTNG work, the Centralized Authentication workgroup will identify new processes and technologies to seamlessly onboard guests’ growing number of devices to hotel Wi-Fi.

“Forward-looking brands have gone beyond local authentication so they can look at data and analytics and standardize the guest experience across properties,” said Eric Sullender, vice president products for Eleven, who along with Jai Govindani of Red Planet Hotels and Chris Headings of Sunray, all volunteered to lead the workgroup’s initial phases. 
2. A Tech Dashboard for Non-Techies
Many hotel systems have their own monitoring platforms, but they’re isolated — and highly technical. What hotel managers really want is a cohesive, coherent and comprehensive view of hotel systems they can use to monitor and prevent problems. 

“If I’m a GM and there is a switch outage, I want to know who is affected. A conference space? Two floors? That could have cost implications,” says Richard Wagner, director of emerging technology for Marriott International and a workgroup co-chair. While larger properties have local tech staff, smaller locations often don’t know who to call or when preventive maintenance
is needed.

HTNG’s new Hotel Systems Dashboard workgroup is taking this on, starting with a network dashboard. Building on Marriott’s work in this area, they will create an open platform to incorporate any network system, deliver information and collect data for trend analysis.
“It will be accessible by non-technical people so they can understand what’s going on and what action needs to be taken,” says Graeme Powell, founder of Veridicum and co-chair.
3. Better Hotel Tech Renovations
Particularly at smaller properties, hotels need to maximize square footage that generates revenue, because renovation plans rarely include enough space for equipment. 

“Renovations often run over budget, it takes longer than you expected, and your revenue stream is cut off so you have to move as quickly as possible,” says Neal Medjes, vice president hospitality for Engineering Plus and a workgroup co-chair.

The new Hotel Technology Renovations Management workgroup, co-chaired by Kenn Isakson of Wyndham Hotel Group, will establish best practices to minimize the pain by identifying technologies and practices that use less space, reuse infrastructure, coordinate multiple vendors and keep projects on budget. 
4. An Open API for Hotel Systems
The pace of tech innovation is intensifying, but many are inaccessible to hoteliers due to a legacy of inefficient integrations among business systems. Vendors spend excessive resources on multiple one-off integrations. This effectively blocks the industry from enjoying lower costs, shorter lead times, custom tool development and the ability to draw on a larger pool of talent and vendors.

The Open API workgroup will build an infrastructure standard for sharing an open-source set of libraries to enable rapid development and testing of integrations. Martin Zam, CIO and co-founder of Impulsify and a workgroup chair, says the hope is to create a single integration path for all conforming applications.

Other integration standardization efforts have fallen short in part because users had to simulate the corresponding system, which in the real world does not always correspond to documentation, Zam says. Impulsify plans to donate a reference test bed for this purpose.

“The real game-changing moment will be when hoteliers realize that virtually any brand approved tool can be quickly integrated, providing unprecedented access to technology not previously available to them,” Zam notes.  
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