SHIFT + DEL! Do we need a massive reset?
— 22 experts shared their view
From the days of holidex, Fidelio v6 and Micros 2700 we have for the last 30 years been adding technology upon technology in hospitality. In my last classes with my students (online), one reoccurring question was always, "why is there not one solution that can do everything". Once we discussed this more (language requirements, local fiscal reporting, support, etc…), the students got the complexity of using software and systems to run businesses. But moving forward, future managers are going to want their hospitality software to behave more like WhatsApp, Instagram or Snapchat. Download, install and work. No training or massive configuration to be done. So, where does this leave the hospitality industry? Do we keep on going with our "Lego" approach or do we need to say hold on, that's enough? Let's restart from scratch and what would that look like and how could we conceivably even do that.
The future of hospitality is undisputedly riddled with technological concerns, and the industry is shaped by millennial staff and guests who lived and breathed through a digital revolution. So, embracing technological advancements is inevitable.
The question is not about whether but about when the reset should happen. I believe it is time!!
To this end, the first striking feature is that the systems of the future must be all-in-one.
Yes, no more LEGO!!
Why should we have PMS, POS, Contactless, Housekeeping, and Service management systems separately? Why should we have the core front-office operations stitched together from different vendors with different UX? It is the gaps or deficiencies of the so called legacy PMS systems that have led to the successful mushrooming of numerous complementary solution vendors. Alas, the gaps still remain..
I strongly believe that there are three core areas that should define the entire spectrum of technology software in a hotel;
- Distribution, including revenue and yield management
- Hotel operations solutions that include front of the house, guest management and back of the house solutions
- Centralised data management and chain or group solutions.
While all hospitality technology companies cannot be the jack of all trades, the serious solution providers must have complete focus and domain depth in at least one of these three areas.
The second reset that we need in tech is simplicity.
The tech overhaul should bring in simple systems with intuitive designs that guide users through the processes without extensive training. These systems must be self-educating, self-training models with quick and easy deployment. At the end of the day, the staff needs to focus on improving the customer experience, not be glued to a screen that is confusing to navigate.
The third reset is connectivity and interoperability between different systems and vendors.
How standard is a standard API? How open is an open API platform? Well, I am sure all of us know the answers to that. We also know that “the chain is as strong as its weakest link”. This means that the least number of connectors makes a stronger system. All-in-one systems can reduce connectors significantly, and that is a true reset from best-of-breed systems.
The final question is whether such an overhaul is even possible. Although the very word 'reset' is intimidating, many industries have leveraged a technological change to emerge stronger. For instance, the classic retail industry has incorporated technology in innovative ways to provide convenience to the customers, gather analytics, and engage in targeted marketing effectively.
The travel industry also has evolved into a highly tech-based system that prioritises convenience, speed, and specialisation. From prioritising mobile functions to maintaining automated processes, the tech adoption of the travel industry provides a few excellent pointers for the hospitality industry.
At a time the industry is going through a reset, I believe this is the best time to think differently and demand a difference from the hotel technology partners.
It's time to leave the LEGOs to the kids!!