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Honoring the Visionaries Within

Hotel technology budgets are projected to hit record high levels this year, but hotels themselves are still struggling to differentiate. The pressure is coming not only from the competitive hotel down the street, but also from the AirBnB rental across town. Service expectations are elevated every single time a customer has a great shopping experience, with anyone, on their mobile device. Technology is part of the solution, but so is vision. Out-of-the-box technology solves many operational challenges, but true uniqueness is inspired from within.

This is why we’re so excited about this year’s Hotel Visionary Award winners, Grand View Lodge and Starwood Hotels & Resorts (see page 14 for their full stories). This year’s winners illustrate not only how technology can set a hotel apart, but the critical role that internal talent plays in leveraging the power of differentiation.

Starwood was chosen for the development of a true global standard for a hotel-based electronic procure-to-payment system. It’s a massive project that entailed consolidating information from more than 12 different systems globally into one cloud-based system. At the other end of the resource spectrum, a 100-year-old resort in central Minnesota was named a Visionary Award winner for the development of a fully homegrown digital concierge. There, an inefficient manual registration process has been replaced by a web-based concierge. Last year alone, the resort welcomed 17,000+ visitors and booked 3,435 activities through the new tool.

In both cases, unique requirements inspired these companies to build homegrown solutions that differentiate their brands. At a time when hotels often — and with good reason — look to partner with third-party solution providers for their technology needs, it’s exciting to call attention to the development work that is happening from within.

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