Investing in technology is a great way to improve and increase the value of your hospitality business. Whether you are looking to boost internal operations or add to the guest experience, technology provides a versatile range of tools to help you do so. But, for property owners to see the full benefit of tech, they need to look beyond functions and features and be thoughtful about the experience. Plenty of programs and devices look good on paper but botch the execution. To succeed, you must consider the users and their distinct needs from the beginning – starting with your employees and customers.
Employees need to use technology to do their jobs. As their employer, you are responsible for enabling them to do these jobs well by providing adequate tools and resources. When introducing new technology into their daily routine, you need to communicate with staff, provide them with comprehensive training and resources to solve technical problems and, most importantly, make sure the technology actually helps, not hinders, their performance.
If your workers will be the primary users of a technology, then you should give them a say in the process. While you may be the final decision maker, your employees can provide you with a frontline perspective of what kind of tools are needed. Consider forming a small team for technology feedback consisting of employees in different positions around the property. As you research property or reservation management system vendors and look at product demos, include them in your search and encourage open and honest feedback. Any technology solution you select will have a greater chance for success if the people who use it most feel they have a say.
Give Them the Support
You need to pay as much attention to training as you do vendor selection. You can select top-of-the-line tech, but if no one can train your staff how to use it, it’s just going to collect dust. When interviewing vendors, pay attention to how many questions they ask you about your business needs. Are they educating you about the product as you engage with them? Ask about training processes to see what options are available to you. Some vendors will do personal onboarding, while others have vast libraries of training videos and articles. And remember that support is an ongoing process. Even after training, make sure you and your team have the resources to address challenges quickly.
Make It Easy to Use
This one is tough to tackle. Plenty of programs, devices and interfaces promise an easy-to-use system, but their directions are entirely confusing. Again, remember to include your employees in any tech decisions that directly involve them. Barring that, here are a few other things to keep in mind in your search:
- Integrations – If a technology solution needs to interact or exchange data with other solutions in your tech stack, it needs to be able to integrate with them. Know what other programs are critical to your daily operations and double-check that a solution can connect with all of them.
- Demos – Sometimes, hands-on is the best way to learn. It is impossible to tell from photos and videos if a piece of software or a new device will be easy to use. Search for vendors that let you get your hands dirty and experience it yourself. Remember to include employees in any demos.
- Accessibility – Hospitality workers are always on the go, so look for technology that can go with them. Programs that are cloud-based and have mobile compatibility allow staff to go where they’re needed and still access important information.
- Hardware – Tech solutions are only as good as their hardware. Outdated computers and lagging internet connections will affect performance.
When it comes to technology for customers, things get a little bit trickier. You can at least have an ongoing conversation with your employees, whereas guest-facing technology has more guesswork. However, there are several common themes when considering technology for guests. They want to use their phones, they want options, and they expect you to keep their data safe.
Must Be Mobile
Smartphones are the center of our digital lives and our analog ones, too. Almost every important task we do can be done via phone. That’s why mobile-friendly should be one of the first things you look for when adding guest-facing tech.
A crucial part of customer service, and the guest experience, is meeting people where they are. This means providing them with options for communication, purchasing and other essential services. The pandemic handed a lot of control over to guests to allow for socially distanced travel with things like mobile check-in, communicating with staff via text messaging and even using phones for additional accommodations and upgrades. The pandemic may be over, but guests have shown they want contactless tech to stay.
However, these kinds of tech should always be optional. Do not force guests to use them if you do not have to. Knowing a guest’s preference is a huge part of hospitality. Some guests enjoy the human interactions of staying at a hotel or campground; others don’t. But both are your guests, and you need to cater to each.
Keep Security Up to Date
More technology means more places hackers can try and access private information. Don’t let your tech be one of them. As a business that collects personal and sensitive information, it is your legal responsibility to keep it safe.
Be thorough when selecting technology vendors. Hold detailed discussions about how data is accessed and stored. Know what their action plan is in the event of a breach. Ask about security trainings for users. Make sure their technology is compliant with current data security standards.
In your own business, keeping your network and devices protected and having an educated staff are your two biggest safeguards against a potential threat. Always keep devices up to date and use essential security tools like anti-malware, firewalls and network monitoring. Back up essential systems and data regularly. Ensure every staff member undergoes regular security training to stay informed about the latest practices and threats. Create and enforce strong business data regulations and ensure they are clearly communicated.
Success in Tech is a Balance
Getting technology right isn’t easy, but you’ll find improved success when you do. Just remember, when seeking new solutions to bolster your property, you need to provide a heightened guest experience on top of solving internal operational challenges.