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Challenges to implementing new hotel technologies

Challenges to implementing new hotel technologies
Implementing new hotel technology comes with its challenges. While hoteliers want to modernize and ensure guests are satisfied with their in-house experience, budget, security and interoperability with other systems are still obstacles to adoption.

Overcoming the cost concern

Funding for hotel technology is still often a challenge for hotel operators when wanting to implement new technology, regardless of the cost saving potential. A survey by Expedia of over 1,200 hoteliers found that chain hotels are almost twice as likely to prioritize technology investment over small independent hotels. Still, a report by Hospitality Technology found that only 54 percent of the hotels surveyed planned to increase their technology budget in 2019.

Robert Stevenson, CEO of Intelity said his company addresses the budget problem by providing a broad guest and operations platform, which helps keep costs low versus purchasing many discrete systems. Its platform also delivers on only what a particular property needs, be that improved mobility, in-room technologies or back of house improvements. “Many of these technologies drive immediate efficiency gains that pay for themselves,” he said.

Resistance to change

Resistance to change is another hurdle that hotel management and ownership often face, according to Brian Shedd, VP of Global Sales and Marketing at OpenKey. “Many hotel general managers are slow to embrace new technology that requires re-thinking how things are done at the property. Many hotel staff are resistant to new technology that changes the way they do things, even when that includes eliminating things they really don’t like doing,” he said.

Many hotel operators face resistance from associations and unions that rely on hotel employees to pay membership dues, which happens when attempting to deploy technology that reduces staffing.

“OpenKey works with hotel operators to help train staff on how mobile keyless entry can allow them to focus on aspects of their jobs that improve the guest experience while allowing technology to handle tasks that don’t require human interaction,” Shedd said.

Fighting against fraud and security concerns

Fraud is also a concern, especially when deploying self-check-in options. “Fraud can hurt a hotel’s bottom line through chargebacks, unnecessary housekeeping costs, missed bookings from actual customers, and of course the reputational damage to the hotel’s brand,” explained Nicole Dehler, VP of Product Management at StayNTouch, a Shiji Group Brand.
 
Nicole Dehler, VP, Product
Management, StayNTouch,
a Shiji Group Brand

Dehler noted that many hotel operators have a mistaken view that self-check-in increases the likelihood of fraud because an attendant isn’t physically present to verify the credit card and ID. However, modern self-check-in systems can use advanced facial recognition to scan IDs and check them against international databases for validity.

“With the modern integrations of payment processors, automated check-ins are as seamless and secure as assisted ones. Today, hoteliers can provide their guests with services that are secure and convenient, allowing guests to choose how they prefer to interact with the hotel,” she said.

Guest safety and data security are also concerns for hotels adopting a more staff-less approach. According to Shedd, with the proliferation of data hacking today, hotel technology platforms should collect as little guest data as possible to deliver the required outcome. “Any guest data collected should either be deleted immediately after the stay is completed or stored in a data repository with enterprise-grade security to keep it secure.”

Ensuring systems can work together

Another major challenge is ensuring that the property’s tech stack is comprised of complementary systems that integrate with each other. The technology must be able to work seamlessly every time.

“Glitchy hotel technology will result in guests going elsewhere out of frustration,” Shedd said. He used the Henn na Hotel in Japan as an example — the hotel famously “fired” half of its robot workforce for “sucking at their jobs.”

Dehler also emphasized that hoteliers must insist on platforms with a truly open API. “Hotels require a myriad of technological systems to run successfully, including PMS, CRS, channel manager, RMS, CRM, POS and payment integration systems (among others). All of these platforms must interact seamlessly in order to maximize operational efficiencies, and provide a truly personalized guest experience,” she said.

She added that integrated systems are better able to collect and share important guest data, leading to more robust and nuanced guest profiles, more targeted guest messaging, and ultimately a more personalized guest journey.
 


Product Adopted:
Hospitality


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