Skip to main content

GMs Tell the Truth About Tech

Employee communication, POS, PMS and guest personalization technologies get hotel General Managers fired up.
HTNEXT 2022 GM Panel
Advertisement - article continues below

On the closing day of HT-NEXT 2022, Robert Firpo-Cappiello, Editor-in-Chief of Hospitality Technology magazine, spoke on stage with two general managers from the Miami area: Mutluhan Kucuk, Complex Managing Director, Loews Miami Beach and Glenn Sampert, General Manager, InterContinental Miami. During this conversation, Kucuk and Sampert talked about tech tools that make their lives (and their employees’ lives easier), technologies that seem to be dropping the ball, their wish list for tech, and their views on cybersecurity – among other things. Below are a few brief quotes from the session, but to dig deep and really hear what they have to say – watch the session via the video link below!

What’s the most surprising aspect of your job?

Glenn Sampert: Every morning I do a walkthrough of the property where I engage with customers, meeting planners, housekeeping, engineering, etc. And technology play an important piece in all those areas. As GMs, we have a good working knowledge of all the technology systems being used in our hotels.

What tech tools make your job easier?

Glenn Sampert:  Tools that connect employees to each other or connect employees to guests are very important. Anything that touches on how one department communicates with another is critical for us.

Mutluhan Kucuk: Using technology to help organize housekeeping and keep that department up to date.  Paperwork can create large mistakes, but using technology to communicate with housekeeping makes their life easier, enhances the guest experience, creates efficiencies, etc.

What hotel technology is overrated?

Mutluhan Kucuk: The hotel PMS and POS systems are very behind. We realized how behind our industry is during the pandemic. If PMS and POS providers don’t see what is coming, they’re about to have a rude awakening. POS and PMS systems are virtually operating the same as they did decades ago, but hotels are looking to move on.

If you could commission any tech tool, what would it be?

Glenn Sampert: Digital concierge and AI chatbots are great for giving guests instant access to assistance. I want tech providers to lean into this technology and provide seamless services to help guests book positive space and attractions. For example, we often have 1200 guests and we have a great concierge team. But there are only three people on that team and they obviously can’t help all of our guests at the same time. So, having a tool to help them out would be fantastic.

Also a tool to help with tracking the availability and scheduling of our teams. We need an enterprise-wide solution so we can communicate with all staff members, whether they are full-time or part-time, about shifts and schedules. Right now, there is a lot of texting that goes on between managers and shift leaders and employees on availability and callouts.

Mutluhan Kucuk: Hotel staff have to do a lot of repetitious work. For example, inventory counts of glass, linens, cutlery, etc. This has to be done every few weeks and it takes up so much time and labor. It’s mind boggling we don’t have a technology that can do this for us.

Also, there has to be a better way to identify repeat guests. I’m not talking about loyalty programs. I want a tech piece that can really enhance the guest journey. We have already collected the information on our guests but it sits there passively. You need a way to look it over and take action. I want technology that will look at our data and then use it to trigger actions that our staff can take to help create a better guest experience. It’s possible. The information and technology is there, but the communication is lacking.

What role do GMs play in creating a culture of cybersecurity?

Mutluhan Kucuk: We constantly educate and train our team members on why cybersecurity is so important. We partner with our home office to send team members phishing emails to test their knowledge and measure our success rate. I feel we have good systems in place. However, you’re never going to be 100% foolproof. It’s a real threat to all industries.

Glenn Sampert: Culture is everything. GMs have to be culture leaders even when it comes to cybersecurity. Anyone who has gone through any type of breach understands the potential for harm. It used to be saying No to the guest when they wanted you to print something for them off a USB drive. Now it’s about email security. We just need to be knowledgeable ourselves and communicate it in a way that makes sense and give our teams proper workarounds.

Do guests share their happiness (or unhappiness) with hotel technologies?

Glenn Sampert: Ease of use has become the hallmark of a modern hotel: text to chat, digital key, etc. We developed an app for ordering in-room dining during the pandemic. I was expecting to have really strong adoption of this technology, but last night it was only 3% of my F&B orders. So why isn’t the app working? Is it a bad experience? Is it easier to pick up the phone? Guests “tell” you where the pain points are based on their use of your guest-facing technologies, but it’s up to hoteliers to figure out why it’s painful.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds