Did you know that in the next five years, according to h2c, 60% of hotels plan to change their PMS? And that 6 out of 10 hotels are “missing” 20% of the CRS services they need? With all the amazing tech choices out there, why is this happening, and how can you keep it from happening to you (again)?
In a recent webinar with our friends at apaleo, we took a deep, honest dive into the why, what, and how of today’s typical hotel tech buying scenarios—and how you can avoid the most common mistakes, choosing instead to go after the tech that really fits you. Check out the highlights that follow, then be sure to check out the full webinar broadcast for some amazing Q&A.
“Shopping when you’re hungry, you come home with a lot of ‘cookies,’ and cookies don’t get the job done.”
—Jason Emanis, SHR VP of Marketing
It’s human nature to focus on the past or even the present, to avoid the future, and to long for fast fixes. But when it comes to your hotel tech, operating in a default “cookie” mode can really cost you. So, take a breath (or two), relax, and start fresh by defining your true business objectives, your service needs, your guests’ demographics and their needs, and how you can really stand out in your market. Once you’ve figured out all that, then (and only then) should you start your tech research for products and services, and the support that can not only bring your vision to life, but keep it alive, now and in the future. Look for technology that will adjust and scale with you, and with new innovations as they occur. Knowing what those new innovations will be means finding vendors who are forward-thinking. Also, keep in mind that soft or hidden costs like support, training, and future integrations often aren’t clear in the beginning, but can make themselves known (and add up!) very quickly as things progress. Do you have a fear of implementations? You’re not alone, so make sure that you also understand exactly what your onboarding process and timeline might be with any proposed vendor. Bottom line? It’s best to get everything out in the open right up front by sitting down and thinking about the entire process far past the signing of a contract.
“Take a deep breath, and imagine a white, blank piece of paper. Envision your ideal infrastructure. Now, if you could develop your OWN software, what would that look like?”
—Zsuzsanna Albrecht, SHR-Europe VP of Sales
Now that you have your vision, it’s time to start doing your tech research. This is where many hoteliers may toss out all of their careful research and revert to choosing largely based only on relationships with familiar sales people or peers. In addition, going with the biggest “safest” providers is also very common. This is where a solid RFP process becomes indispensable in cutting through the noise and any preconceived fears; one not based solely on current system features or on price alone, but on really understanding systems, how they work together, implementations processes, support, and what it all means to your hotel. System overlap is also becoming a big problem as many tech providers continue adding overlapping functionalities, trying to enhance their offerings, sometimes beyond what is truly beneficial to you in your situation. So, don’t replace any of your systems without reviewing your entire tech stack. This will allow you to find and remove any redundant system modules to avoid overlap—before you buy.
“Seek out vendors who have the core competencies you want, but who also understand what’s valuable to you. Only then you can you really start to build your perfect tech stack.”
—Alan O’Riordan, apaleo Co-Founder
It can be easy to overlook the human factor when it comes to new tech, instead focusing on features and what the system can do. And change can be scary to many people. The truth is, no system can work without people who understand it, and who actually want to use it! So, consider your users—the people you’re depending on to adopt your new technology and get the most out of it. Look for easy-to-use platforms that are intuitive and not intimidating to your staff. Also, you may be in the habit of just addressing tech changes with a handful or even one key person at your hotel, such as your RM or your GM. In reality, there may be many on your team who will be using the system, or multiple systems, so make sure all relevant departments are involved upfront in the decision-making process. Ask yourself, for example, can any of the systems you are considering automate mundane tasks or streamline processes for your team? Think about the day-to-day encounters of your team a year from now, not just the time it takes to onboard.
A Few Words on APIs
If you’ve ever had a situation where your calendar has been automatically updated on a flight, that’s an API at work. Standing for Application Programming Interface, API is simply the newest, fastest, and best way to do integrations at a lower cost. It’s also a deeper integration because it’s two-way and it’s real-time. With an API, you can often plug and play an integration from one system to another. So, you really should seek vendors who are API-friendly. (Side note: SHR and apaleo integrated about 10 times faster than normal simply using an API.)
“Vendors should be sharing their APIs with the world for the betterment of the industry, the hotelier, and their guests. Anyone planning for a new tech stack really must put open APIs at the center of that plan.”
—Alan O’Riordan, apaleo Co-Founder
When you stop, think, and then start shopping with a clear vision that can flex with your growing hotel business, you’ll be happier, your staff will be happier, and your operation will generate more revenue, fewer excess costs, and more guest delight than you ever thought possible.