World Panel
Viewpoint23 May 2019

Is Hotel Technology Lagging Behind other industries?

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For over a decade I have heard industry pundits, consultants, other experts, and myself say that the hospitality industry lags behind other industries in innovation, investment, and adoption of new technologies. Is this really the case? If so, what are the barriers, issues, and conflicts that have led to this situation? More importantly, what should we do about it?

This viewpoint was created by
Lyle Worthington, Technology Executive and Consultant & Past President of HFTP Global
HITEC Minneapolis
Event Coverage
This Viewpoint is part of the HITEC Minneapolis panel
Mark Fancourt
Co-Founder at TRAVHOTECH

There are a number of factors to consider; 1. Ultimately the hospitality industry is a real estate business. Most rental property owners like to avoid heavy continued investment into the asset, if at all possible. For that reason any decision to make further investments into the asset are heavily considered. That includes technology. As a result of the process progressive technology adoption is slowed through the natural investment cycles of real estate ownership. I'm not of the view that owners are anti-technology. It has more to do with asset management in general and technology becomes a victim of circumstance.

2. As an industry and particularly from a technology perspective, generally there is a pre-disposition to wanting to be somewhere between 2nd place and last place in relation to new technology. I've always found the desire to be anywhere but first a fascination. Not too many businesses in an industry would not strive to be No. 1. For the most part everyone is waiting around for someone else instead of taking a leadership position.

3. As a result of 2. above the industry in general does not reward innovation. Many large and small provider company's commence with the right idea in mind for bringing large steps forward in capability to market. They are often crueled by a lack of courage in industry adoption and either disappear or fall back to the pack. There are many examples of early to market products that disappeared for something that eventually became main stream.

What to do about it? 

A. Encourage a change in attitude by industry toward technology investment and an appetite for a reasonable level of risk that would encourage innovation. Today's technology is far more reliable than that of the past. Many of the traditional risks don't exist on the same level due to lead time to failure and survivability of technology platforms.

B. Applaud and recognise the early adopters as an industry. Nothing improves without change and if one organisation wont take the 'risk' then they can at least support those that do. A rising tide floats all boats.

C. View technology adoption as a competitive advantage. Today's technology is the business process and the operational platform. Technology provides the opportunity for being faster, higher, stronger than your competitors. The window of opportunity to be able to do things in your business that other's cannot through a lack of willingness to adopt can give years of business capability before the rest come in 2nd to last.

D. Have a go! People talk about 'what if something goes wrong?'. Things go wrong now. In my view better for things to go wrong with additional operational power and capability than waiting for your competition to surpass your own business capability. At the end of the day our industry technology platforms are going 'right' more than 99% of the time. Why focus on less than 1%?

Despite statements to the contrary, there is and has been for many years a wealth of great technology available to the hospitality industry. More coming all the time, despite the challenges outlined above. Don't lament what could have been. Get on board and move your business and the industry forward.

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HITEC Minneapolis
Event Coverage
This Viewpoint is part of the HITEC Minneapolis panel
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