Integration: A New Age for Hospitality Technology
Choosing a technical partner is a challenging job. An operator’s IT department needs to screen for all of their current needs and make sure it can integrate with the existing systems in place. This is a complex puzzle that often results in compromise; turning down requirements from the operational team results in not addressing 100% of what it was intended to do. Even if we can agree that this is acceptable, what happens tomorrow when we need to turn down additional requirements because the system can’t grow with the operational needs?
With this in mind, some of the largest technology companies in hospitality, and some innovative startups, have been hard at work transforming their solutions. Some have taken the approach of a “one-stop-shop” that can handle a hotel’s entire operation single-handedly, but in practice this goal has often fallen short of what was promised.
Even if a singular company is able to theoretically provide all of the technology necessary to assist hotel operations, they would still require strong third-party partnerships to ensure everything runs smoothly at the property level and be ready to swap some partnerships with emerging better players.
Technology companies that have focused on a specific dimension of the operational scope, while being able to integrate with multiple systems, are better able to ensure their customers can grow and adapt to future needs.
But, how can a hotel's IT team make sense of the growing complexity influencing the operational workflow? What type of partners do they need to support them today and in the future? More importantly, what questions should hoteliers ask of their technology partners before purchasing a solution?
Integrating New Technology While Maintaining a Smooth Customer Journey
When evaluating a technical solution, workflows and use cases are key to understanding the actual impact the solution will have. If it addresses 95% of the workflow but the other 5% just created an extreme operational overhead, is this actually helping the business?
Integrating effective technology for hospitality starts with looking at existing workflows. First of all, how will this interact with the existing guest behavior and how could it change it? Does it support the entire workflow, or will there need to be new workflows created for where it lacks?
Second, for all the use cases related to the workflows it supports, what happens if the software fails? How does the guest and the operational team recover from failures? The edge cases are what normally determine if the rollout will be a success or a failure. Operational teams want to get rid of technology solutions not because of how well they work but how badly they fail. The cost to handle that failure is the driver in replacing that technology.
Technical solutions that can handle 100% of their workflows and use cases while maintaining a low friction for failure recovery are the solutions that provide an elevated guest experience and high adoption by operational teams. The reality is that even if 95% of guests are able to use a check-in tool without error, for instance, that still leaves 5% of guests who need assistance and if the operational cost to support that 5% is too high then the operator has gained nothing and potentially lost the gain in efficiency.
Hospitality is as much about communication as it is about providing comfort, security, and making the entire experience feel effortless. This is true for your guests, why can’t it be true for your teams behind the scenes? If operators are supported by an open system focused on addressing all of their customer use-cases and have the flexibility to adapt to the rapidly changing needs of the future, we can only imagine their potential.
Alleviating Complexity and Improving KPIs
Today’s hotel operations workflow is still full of tasks that have no impact on Net Promoter Score or bottom-line revenue. If we look at what the airline industry has done to remove those tasks and create an elevated experience for their customers, we can see they have generated higher guest satisfaction and boosted revenue. The workflows are similar so why not take the same approach? The reason it worked for them is that it addressed 100% of their customers while maintaining a low operational overhead. Once that was achieved, their staff was free to elevate the customers’ experience versus dealing with tedious tasks.
Hospitality has been chipping away at the complexity of the check-in and check-out process for years, but the refinement it requires to meet today’s guest expectations for safety and security are essential for success. This has been the case even as other industries iterate above and beyond consumer expectations, such as in the airline and retail spaces.
Many hotels are already providing a contactless check-in experience, but where the industry needs to see improvements is in the number of edge cases that slip through the cracks, preventing contactless check-in from becoming a complete front-desk replacement. As they say, “the devil is in the details” and while the guests of today are becoming more technology savvy, they still may need assistance along the way — and that should not be from your front desk manager.
If the goal is to create continuity between the physical and digital sides of your business, this is a concern that must be resolved. Once resolved, travelers will gain renewed faith in the technology your hotel uses to interact with them, in turn relieving hotel workers to focus on other areas of operation.
This brings us back to the greatest barrier between providing this ideal experience and successfully rolling it out for each and every guest: comprehensive software solutions. If hotels are able to convince guests to believe in the technology they have been given, it has the potential to relieve much of the pressure bearing down on hotel operations. This in turn leaves operators with more time to focus on providing the next level of guest satisfaction, which in turn will drive NPS and revenue.
About Nadav Cornberg
Co-founder at Virdee, leading product development including engineering, product, design and rollout. Prior to co-founding Virdee, Nadav was the Head of Engineering at The Guild, where he managed engineering, project management and IT. For the last 17 years, Nadav has managed large scale teams of software engineers at companies including Zynga and Check Point. His expertise centers around leading and scaling teams. Nadav holds a BS in computer science from the University of Bar-Ilan. Out of the office, Nadav enjoys working on backyard projects and hiking with his family.