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Executive Q&A: Leveraging Technologies That Address the Guest Experience and Operational Efficiency

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Katie Riddle, Global Hospitality Strategist, Verizon

HT’s survey data suggests that lodging tech budgets are growing, including the allocation of more resources to research and development. What spending priorities should be top of mind for hotel tech leaders?

It’s most vital to invest in technologies that address the guest experience and operational efficiency, and they’re tied together in many ways. First, address the foundational network and infrastructure. Then use your voice of customer (VoC) input to determine which technologies can make the most impact on a great stay. Mobile check-in/out, digital room keys, and in-app communications are all table stakes in today’s hospitality environment. And while all of these make for an easier, seamless guest experience, they also allow you to use labor more efficiently, which is important with current labor shortages at most hotels.

 Sustainability is another area that both guests and hoteliers care about. How much more efficient could properties be if there was one dashboard monitoring all energy usage, communicating with IoT devices throughout the hotel to turn on and off power as needed? Guests want to stay at properties that share their values around sustainability and hoteliers want to save money and the environment.

We see high adoption rates for self-service tech such as mobile reservations, check-in/out, and digital room key. How can the move to mobility and self-service help drive revenue and operational efficiency?

By empowering the guest to interact with the hotel in the ways they prefer, you’re enhancing their overall experience. Using mobility and self-service applications allows you to allocate your staff to higher-value activities, like providing face-to-face service where it’s desired. Mobile apps can also increase guests’ awareness of all of the services offered at your hotel, which can lead to incremental revenue from dining, spa services or equipment rentals.

Security is always top of mind. How can hotels ensure privacy and data security in an evolving landscape?

It’s so important to stay vigilant to protect consumer and transaction data to maintain customers’ trust. Verizon is on the front lines both as a retailer and a security solutions provider, so we understand what’s at stake. To secure transactions, we suggest continuously monitoring your infrastructure to keep bad actors out, implementing solutions that provide zero trust capabilities and embedding security within your networks to keep them safe. Hotel operators will need to implement new payment security practices related to PCI DSS 4.0 across all applications, from web-based reservations to in-hotel sundries shops. For those hotels without a dedicated security team, it makes sense to have a security partner to safeguard against and investigate potential breaches, fraud or data security issues.

What are the challenges in implementing some of the more innovative hotel technologies?

A strong network foundation is imperative to support the plethora of new hotel innovative technologies. As hotel digital transformation progresses, more new software will be hosted in the cloud and the applications and data will be primarily accessed through mobile devices, enabling hotels to better leverage data to provide their guests with personalized experiences. These increases in technology will test the hotel network’s ability to handle additional traffic, particularly when it comes from devices that require low latency and process bandwidth-heavy files. As the number of mobile and connected devices continues to grow, there will be an increasing need for faster speeds, less network downtime and a better ability to manage peak traffic.

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