Platform Paradox: The Achilles Heel of Every Hotelier
How digital transformation will play a key role in the evolution of the hospitality industry
Over the years, my work has placed me in the same room as countless hospitality executives, from boutique hotels to mid-size properties and global chains. I've noticed a trend throughout my conversations with industry leaders; specifically, I’ve noticed a common pain point that is seemingly cited as a grievance more often than it is not. This grievance can be best described as a platform paradox; as hotels have worked to distance their properties from the limitations of one-size-fits-all legacy technology, they have embraced an alternative extreme – an overflowing, fragmented tech stack.
“It starts to feel disorganized,” one executive told me. “The point of these platforms is to benefit from automation and data, but if those benefits are siloed within disparate systems, I feel as though I’m never able to gain a bird's-eye view of the organization. Instead, I’m pulling reports and requesting updates from multiple systems and multiple teams, trying to piece together a collective whole and identify overlap.”
This might seem counterintuitive at first glance. After all, our industry has long come under fire for its attachment to antiquated technology that lacks the evolutionary potential and flexibility to scale alongside the hotels it's meant to serve. In the wake of legacy technology, the term ‘tech stack’ has become a buzzword of sorts, promising hoteliers the opportunity to create the perfect, custom stack of platforms that will effectively transform their operational model. The ‘divide and conquer’ approach to technology acquisition was framed as our industry’s solution, so what went wrong?
As with most things in life and business, an important sentiment reveals itself: more isn’t always better. With each new vendor relationship established, hotels find themselves juggling multiple platforms and multiple contracts that start and finish at different times. Individually, these platforms may boast a wealth of functionality and promise, but, together, too many platforms can create a logistical nightmare rife with inefficient workflows and data silos. As we move into a period of hospitality that prioritizes tech-driven efficiency and data-driven personalization, hotels will realize that the answer isn’t necessarily to adopt more technology; but rather to adopt the right technology.
The Cost of the Platform Paradox
If your hotel stack seems to grow with new platforms and features at an unruly rate, there is a good chance your team is suffering the unexpected consequences. Disjointed tools – especially those that cannot seamlessly integrate and communicate with one another – create a digital ‘patchwork’ effect. Necessary functions are taken care of, but hospitality workers are left to learn and navigate the user interfaces of an ever-growing portfolio of platforms, remember login credentials for each tool, and identify/discern workflow overlap or data incongruence when it occurs. For members of your team, this may start to feel like a digital game of ‘Whack-A-Mole”, as they constantly switch their attention from one target/one platform to the next.
In fact, in a survey published in October 2020, McKinsey found that companies had adopted as much new technology over the previous several months as they had over several years prior. A subsequent study by Cornell University and Qatalog finds that “technology has run amok in the digital office,” and workers are “reeling.” More than four-in-ten (43%) said they’re spending too much time switching among different tools to get their jobs done, which “promotes context switching and causes a drag on our creativity.” Not only that, but on an average day, workers spend an hour searching through different tools for the information they need.
An overflowing tech stack can also represent a significant cost to a hotel beyond the potential operational inefficiencies. This is, of course, in direct contrast to the promise of next-gen technology. Legacy platforms, after all, were notoriously costly due to their inflexible format and constant upgrade and integration fee requirements. On the other hand, a modern tech stack is meant to help hotels cut costs and protect their bottom line by automating tasks, increasing staff productivity, and identifying revenue opportunities. However, with multiple contracts that adhere to different pricing models, and ongoing maintenance requirements, the cumulative cost of multiple, single-purpose platforms can eat into a hotel’s bottom line over time.
A Strategic Approach to Digital Transformation
The purpose of this article is not meant to warn against digital transformation; digital transformation will play a key role in the evolution of the hospitality industry. Instead, I urge hoteliers to take a more strategic approach to that transformation. Platform acquisition should not exist in a vacuum; each new feature-set or tool must fit into a hotel’s existing ecosystem and digital workflow. So, hoteliers, ask yourself – will another platform disrupt or enhance that ecosystem?
Fortunately, a solution exists that helps hoteliers strike a balance between digital innovation and end-user functionality and simplicity. The answer, if you ask me, is a microservices architecture. For anyone unfamiliar, microservice architecture is described as a development methodology wherein you can fragment a single application into a series of smaller services, each executing in its own process and interacting with lightweight mechanisms. Working with a vendor that has built its platforms atop a microservice architecture, hoteliers can adopt a “plug-and-play” model that, unlike the aforementioned overflowing tech stack, empowers end-user efficiency and cost-effective scalability. Within a single product, hoteliers can benefit from thousands of different API endpoints categorized into microservices that take the shape of a revenue management platform, reservation system, property management system, and much more.
Without compromising workflows or the end-user experience, hoteliers can finally create a fully functional, customized, and future-proof digital ecosystem in the form of a collection of loosely coupled services and applications. These applications act as “building blocks” that piece together a horizontally scalable tech stack unencumbered by the limitations of monolithic platforms and overwrought tech stacks. One vendor, one platform, one contract, endless possibilities. Digitization without disconnect and flexibility without compromise. This is the future of hospitality – and the future looks exceedingly bright.
Going to HITEC in Orlando? Please come by booth #1307 to meet with the APS team, and explore our latest innovations!
About Above Property Services (APS™)
Above Property® is leading the charge to deliver innovative, scalable, and services-oriented platforms for the global travel industry and other related verticals. We think differently, and we are constantly innovating. Above Property Services (APS™) offers the only platform that can evolve seamlessly in response to industry demands, with credit to a microservices architecture that empowers continuous development and refinement.
Built from the ground up, the APS ecosystem empowers continuous development and refinement of your critical business processes via a unique microservice architecture. Designed for performance, flexibility, security, and stability, the future-proof framework is up and running quickly, delivering a scalable, cost-effective solution that can work with or replace your existing tools and investments. APS is a platform that adapts to you – not the other way around.
Powering both large and small companies, we understand the industry's challenges in the past, and we have developed a platform that is suited for the future.