As the implementation of technology in the hospitality industry continues to become more commonplace here in 2019, it is increasingly important for hotel and restaurant owners and operators to understand how to incorporate these advancements into their own facilities - whether they are operating just one location, a local franchise or a global brand. Many brands might be hesitant at first, as the investment for some technology can be substantial and change is always a gamble, but if implemented in the right ways, the cutting-edge innovation can prove to be wildly successful.
First and foremost, every organization’s goal is to grow, and new devices, services and apps are able to create growth in ways traditional hospitality practices cannot. For example, a mobile ordering system for restaurants increases the number of customers able to be served and decreases wait times for patrons, which leads to a better experience and more revenue. Self-serve beverage technology cuts out long waits at a bar and helps operators save money that can be used to reinvest in new locations. Guest apps for hotels drive brand loyalty, empowering guests to stay more often and engage more with the brand. No matter what type of technology, it is important to keep your brand up-to-date in these ever-changing times.
To get the best understanding of how technology is evolving and can play a role in your brand, it is important to attend hospitality network events, and immerse yourself in the hospitality ecosystem to see the huge variety of products and services that are now available to you. This sensory overload can be both super inspiring and also overwhelming at the same time, as the possibilities are almost endless. For your brand, you need to think about specific problems that you’re looking to solve, and you need to know how that problem affects the whole operation. Will adding in some new tech be a Band-Aid for a bigger issue or will it actually help your operation to run better? For instance, will automated check-in machines in your lobby reduce labor costs? Yes. But perhaps even with this implementation, there will still be the costs for installing and running the system that need to be considered. Factor in how this cost will play out, in the long run, to see if it is worth the change. It’s important to understand the role that technology will play, so that you can manage expectations and choose the right tech partner.
To give an example, we’re seeing incredible success with tech hospitality projects such as Starwood’s use of the Botlr, a 24/7 robotic butler that is able to fulfill guest requests every minute of the day - something that a traditional concierge might not be able to do on a cost-effective basis. We’re also seeing brilliant strides in internal technology such as infrared sensors that alert housekeeping services when hotel rooms are occupied, saving the awkward knock at the door. Little things like this allow for a truly seamless guest experience, and allow brands to work smarter, not harder.
The last thing to keep in mind is the scalability of your added technology, and that it must be able to grow with your brand and also change with the times. If you’re going to invest, make sure that your money is being put into something that won’t be obsolete in five years. The industry is constantly evolving, so for a technology to work at scale, it needs to constantly evolve, too. Talk with the brand and discuss what their next ideas are, and what they have planned for the next year, or even a few years down the line. Talk about some hurdles you foresee and inquire about solutions they think could be of help.
Implementing technology is an intimidating task, but will payoff if you do your homework and select the right partner. With new brands emerging everyday and consumers truly having the world at their fingertips, technology is what allows hospitality brands to stand out from the crowd and have a leg up on the competition. If used in a way that helps with both an internal bottom line as well as improves customer service, the ways technology can aid in a brand’s growth know no limits.
Josh Goodman is the Founder and CEO of PourMyBeer, a provider of self-serve beverage technology. Based in Chicago, PourMyBeer creates tap systems that allow restaurant and bar patrons the freedom to pour their own drinks and offers clients unique technology to lower operating costs, customer wait times and wasted goods.