HTNG’s Vendor Advisory Council 2.0
Collaboration has always been the focus for HTNG, with hoteliers and vendors working side by side in workgroups and at events. Together, their efforts help hoteliers to better leverage technology to serve their guests all over the world.
However, the organization was led by a hotelier-only Board of Governors, so vendors’ valuable perspectives would sometimes be overlooked when it came time to set goals.
That is changing thanks to a newly enriched role for the HTNG Vendor Advisory Council (VAC). While the VAC has long been the voice of the vendor community, that voice will now be better heard by the Board.
The VAC, made up of 14 of the most senior hospitality leaders from a wide range of technology suppliers, now has a representative position on the Board and vice versa.
“The VAC’s two primary responsibilities are to be the voice of the vendors and to provide advisory services to the Board of Governors,” says Micah Friedman, senior director, Travel & Hospitality, for Cognizant and a co-chair of the VAC. The recent changes help the VAC better meet those goals. “We now have a very productive group of senior industry leaders, and we regularly discuss issues and provide guidance to the Board of Governors on a whole host of topics.”
All of that may sound like the dry inner workings of a trade organization, but it is actually a big benefit for hoteliers and vendors alike.
Tech guidance to shape goals. Hoteliers are experts in serving guests; vendors are experts in their respective technologies. When vendors share insights, they help the Board set achievable goals that are in line with technology direction in hotels.
Improved workgroups and events. That same sort of input helps shape key HTNG activities. Vendors have already recommended improvements to HTNG’s certification program and workgroups that will help hoteliers get ahead of technology changes. Additionally, the VAC provides valuable input on many issues pertaining to HTNG’s meetings and global events.
Broad knowledge base. With the new structure, multiple consultants and vendors are reaching consensus and sharing valuable knowledge with HTNG.
“It’s an opportunity, in a non-sales, non-threatening way, to provide our expertise to hotels so that they can receive information which otherwise would be quite costly for them to access,” says Vanessa Ogle, president and CEO of Enseo and the other VAC co-chair.
Easier access to experts. The new format fosters strong vendor-to-vendor relationships that benefit hoteliers.
“It’s amazing how quickly problems can be overcome when you can make a quick phone call to the head of another technology company, that just happened to sit with you on the Vendor Advisory Council,” Ogle says. “Being able to get all of the right people from both organizations on the phone right away, versus the weeks it would take to go through normal channels is a soft deliverable but it is quite powerful.”
Stronger representation. The VAC has always been a forum for vendors to express their views on everything from event formats to membership structure. Now vendors can feel more confident that their input will get to those who can take action.
More direction on what hoteliers want. The tight-knit relationship between the VAC and the Board of Governors allows VAC members to act as liaisons to other vendors. Hearing first-hand what problems are on Board members’ minds, the VAC can share this knowledge with the rest of the vendor community to provide solutions.
Collaboration. A strong VAC attracts more participation from the vendor community. The VAC held its first-ever vendor-only session at HT-NEXT, where they discussed issues and priorities with the greater vendor community, so all vendors would have input.
Much of HTNG’s work focuses on laying the right foundation on which to build solutions to serve the guest. When hoteliers and vendors collaborate on those goals, everyone benefits.
“It decreases risk, decreases time to market and increases value,” Friedman says.