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HITEC 2022 Show Floor Insights

Solution providers discuss how the industry is evolving and where they see technology heading.
a group of people at a tradeshow

In addition to a myriad of great educational sessions during HITEC 2022, this editor had the opportunity to meet with a wide range of technology solution providers to discuss how the industry is evolving and where technology is headed. Here are some insights.

The Industry Is Confident in Recovery

“Even in the face of rising interest rates, continued conflict, and the threat of a recession, I’ve not seen the industry this bullish in a very long time. When you see the ADR recovery we’re seeing, the acceleration rate and pace, and the willingness of travelers to go forward – it only makes us more excited for the future!” – Mike Chuma, IDeaS

“Before COVID the savings rate among Americans was less than one percent. During COVID it suddenly became 13 percent. So, now people have a lot of money and the desire to go out and spend it.  And, hotels are getting more of it. Even with occupancy being down, hotels are able to charge more per room and they’re okay with fewer guests because they have fewer staff members.”  – Sanjay Nagalia, IDeaS

“The speed of market recovery and economic conditions are leading to new strategies – hotels are attracting guests who are paying more and are driving profit by filling less rooms at higher ADR from the most profitable channels. New tools help them manage the risk associated with being selective about their distribution strategy – balancing costs of service and acquisition.” – Stephen Hambleton, IDeaS

Keep It Simple

“Hoteliers want simplicity. When it comes to learning a new technology, no one wants to have to sit through a week’s worth of training anymore. And no one wants to deal with a complicated support process.” – Mark Lewis Brown, Zuchetti North America

"During the last two to three years, we’ve seen a massive focus on efficiency. Hoteliers have been asking for software that is modular, scalable, and can adapt quickly." – Mike Chuma, IDeaS

“Hoteliers are tired of people coming to them with new sources of data. That’s not the problem. It’s knowing what to do with the data. How do you apply it in decision-making effectively? Our industry isn’t filled with statisticians, so we have to figure out better ways to make sure we’re making data actionable. And actionable doesn’t mean a dashboard. It means turning those insights into business decisions directly.” – Stephen Hambleton, IDeaS

The industry is drowning in data, but users are lacking the actionable insights they need. Hoteliers want vendors to give them the information they need without having to go into a live application itself. And that then creates a need for unlocking and applying artificial intelligence and machine learning on top of data sets to create information you can act on versus just providing access to the data itself.” – Jeff Bzdawka, Knowland

Integration Woes

“People are sick of integrations, they’re a necessity but a lot of Property Management Systems don’t have open APIs, so establishing those integrations isn’t easy. And when something goes wrong with two integrations, both of 'em look at each other and say it's the other person's fault, so people are looking for an all-in-one solution.” –  Steve Carran, Stayflexi

“Integrations aren’t just an issue for hotel operations, they’re an issue right now for the guest experience. All too often, guests are asked to use a variety of touchpoints: check-in, spa reservations, golf reservations, etc. That creates a disjointed guest experience. There is an opportunity to go deeper into integrations and start pulling in all of those things to a single place to create a better customer experience.” – Alan Paul, CardFree.

"When it comes to integration, hotels – in general – want the easiest solution: an all-in-one solution. Why? Because they don’t have the bandwidth to manage multiple agreements. Stacking technology provides a more streamlined process, more personalized service and often a cost savings. But some hoteliers are resistant to change and want to continue using a specific technology and that’s where the need for integration comes in." – Jessica Lampl, InnRoad

"Everybody is looking for more from their partners. They're looking for integration because they don't have time to go to 14 different people to figure out the solution. They want technology to work, and they want it to work as a familiar type of environment." – Jady West, Blueprint RF

Staffing Problems

“With labor shortages, we’re getting less and less experienced staff working in hotels. We can’t afford to bring on someone new, take an entire month to teach them how to use a software system, and then lose them to a different job two months later. We need to rethink the cost associated with that training and look for solutions that are much more simple to use.” – Steve Carran, Stayflexi

“The labor crisis means that not only are hoteliers looking for more automated solutions but also for more training. With the high amount of turnover, hoteliers are asking for help in teaching new staff members on how to use our system. To help them with that, we’re releasing eLearning modules which will be core classes available for free to customers.” – Mike Dickersbach, Infor

“Hoteliers are often hiring individuals who have never worked at a hotel before. They’ve never heard of – let alone used – some of these technologies. For that reason, we’re working hard to create a simple training process and offer very easy-to-use software programs that allow new hires to understand and use these systems in a matter of hours – not weeks or even days.” – Mark Lewis Brown, Zuchetti North America

Pre-pandemic, hotels that had 10 sales people are lucky to have four post-pandemic. And now these salespeople have responsibilities that cross multiple markets and – in some cases – sell not just for one property, but for multiple properties. As the industry rebuilds itself in a completely different way, the impetus is on us – technology vendors – to figure out how we can really help our hotel clients be successful. That is why we are focused on expanding electronic data acquisition and partnerships across platforms and applications.” – Jeff Bzdawka, Knowland

“Hotels are having a hard time not just attracting talent, but attracting good talent. Guided learning will be a game changer for our industry when it comes to training new employees. Guided learning is not putting employees through a training course where they learn how to use a product but aren’t operational. Instead, it uses AI to walk an employee step-by-step through the program: ‘First click here, next type this information there, then click here, etc.,’ so that anyone can be operational immediately.” – Louise Casamento, Oracle 

"Because of the pandemic, staffing is still a challenge in the industry. Many hoteliers don't have the same kind of resources that they once did at a corporate level. They're looking for more from their partners, more strategic solutions, and a single hand to shake. Companies that have stability and can really deliver on the things they're missing."  Jady West, Blueprint RF

"Ongoing labor issues caused many hoteliers to ask about contactless ordering and payment solutions that can streamline the guest experience. By unburdening the ordering process from the servers, they can spend more time with the guests. This creates lasting memories and less time spent on the transactional side which is an advantage for operators." – Deborah Tappan, GoTab

Contactless Is Still Important

“Contactless check-in remains a high priority among hoteliers. This is for a couple reasons. First, the pandemic created a desire for less human interaction. Second, many hoteliers are actually looking to run their businesses remotely or they just have less staff available to them to man the front desk, and contactless check-in helps take that labor pressure away.”  – Jessica Lampl, InnRoad

“There used to be a persistent feeling among hoteliers that technology came between the hotel and the guest. But now, hoteliers are beginning to realize that technology allows them to serve their guests better AND guests not only want but expect it. In one of our recent research reports, we found that contactless experiences are non-negotiable in the consumer’s eyes. They want to decide if they want to interact with the hotel staff.” –  Louise Casamento, Oracle

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