Is Hotel Technology Lagging Behind other industries?
— 18 experts shared their view
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?
In 2015 McKinsey released a study on the digitization of industries in the US, and the hospitality industry was at the bottom of the chart ranking only above construction and agriculture. Even government and education had a better “overall digitization” score. Although there are is no new data since then, it feels like the industry is catching up fast. You only have to look at the number of hotel tech vendors at ITB to see the difference. And this feeling is backed up if you look at the investment.
According to Skift, the travel tech industry globally has raised more than $5 billion in venture capital in 2018, up from $1.6 billion in 2013. But still, we as hotel tech vendors talk about the lack of technology in hotels and scratch our heads when we look at the legacy tech still commonly found at hotels we are visiting.
I believe part of the 'hotels lag in technology' problem is the perception we have as hotel tech vendors. We are surrounded by smart engineers, data experts and the latest developments in tech, so when we compare our standards to others it is easy to point out the difference. Tom Goodwin, Head of Innovation at Zennith, sums this up perfectly: “I'm not sure when our industry became so obsessed with what's shiny over what's profound. I'm not sure when we became so keen to use buzzwords that we didn't check what they mean — or that they even have any meaning at all.”
So having that said; is there then no opportunity for hotels to improve their technology? There absolutely is! Almost all hoteliers I talk to want better working technology and according to a survey of travelers by Oracle and Phocuswright, two-thirds said investment in hotel technology that enhances the guest experience is “very or extremely important. So the question is why this is not happening. When we recently asked hoteliers during a webinar with Avvio, the biggest technology challenge was “systems that don't talk to each other”. And this seems like a problem we as hotel tech will need to solve.