Characteristics of the New “Ideal” Hotel System Vendor

Order a reprint of this story
Close (X)


To reprint an article or any part of an article from Hospitality Upgrade please email Fee is $250 per reprint. One-time reprint. Fee may be waived under certain circumstances.


October 27, 2020
Technology | Trends
Ted Horner -

Would You Make the Grade?
The technologies getting the most buzz right now include mobile check in, guest service applications using AI, new customer relationship management, kiosks, chatbots and robots. If these are the new technologies, then what are the key characteristics we should be looking for in those vendors offering these new technologies? More importantly, will the major established vendors be willing to reinvent themselves in order to meet the technology challenges that COVID-19 has brought on our industry? The hospitality industry will see a number of new vendors come to the forefront, to challenge the major companies already in play. The following 10 characteristics will help to set companies apart in this bold and dynamic new marketplace

In the post COVID-19 era, the entire guest-to-staff relationship will change, as human touch will be minimized. Hotels will run at lower staff counts as they build back to full occupancy. “Contactless” will be the new currency in hospitality for the foreseeable future (or until a vaccine for COVID-19 is released), and any technology that will enable contactless check in and zero interaction with door handles, locks or in room controls will be key. Until consumer confidence is back to pre-pandemic levels, people will feel more comfortable with automation than the high touch approach of the past that involves human interaction with hotel staff.

1. Agile and Innovative
Does the company respond quickly to developing next generation technology? Does the company have an open and publishable API and does it make these readily available to third parties? Does the company have an open marketplace where other vendors can access the API for little or no cost? Is the company willing to work (in some instances) with competitors to provide hotel clients with exactly what is needed quickly and cost effectively? Does the company use the latest rapid software development tools? 

2. Embraces modern technology platforms Is the technology open to using mobile communication platforms such as What’s App, We Chat and SMS as an integral part of its software to simplify guest communications? It has operating systems independence so that software will run on all the major operating systems such as Windows, iOS or Android. Does it go beyond the industry norm of RFID and is willing to embrace NFC contactless payment (restaurant POS, front desk, kiosk) and NFC contactless access control for guestroom doors, parking garages, elevators, meeting rooms, gyms, spas, front doors in hotels thereby reducing the need for guests to touch shared surfaces?
|Certifi ed and compliant with industry standards Does the vendor company have a relationship with the hospitality industry’s premier standards body (eg., HTNG) and is it certified or fully compliant with the standards that have been documented and agreed upon by the major hotel chains and HTNG?

3. Certified and compliant with industry standards
Does the vendor company have a relationship with the hospitality industry’s premier standards body (eg., HTNG) and is it certified or fully compliant with the standards that have been documented and agreed upon by the major hotel chains and HTNG?

4. A vision for the future
Even companies that are new to the hospitality industry will need to have a vision for the industry’s future and be able to explain how they plan to solve the unique technology challenges facing the industry in a post COVID-19 era. Vendors who have succeeded in other vertical markets and come to hospitality off the back of their successes may fare better than others who have not. 

5. Must have references
As an experienced consultant I have a golden rule: Pioneers get the arrows. Settlers get the land. Never underestimate the importance of professional reference checking as it is the only way to validate claims made by vendors. If it is necessary to be the pioneer, make sure the contract protects you in every way and minimizes financial risks. 

6. Availability of new pricing models
Current commercial pricing models in the current economic climate are making it more difficult for owners to move quickly to invest in new technology. Vendors should be willing to provide new pricing models to meet the challenges faced by owners. • Month-by-month pricing based on hotel occupancy – when occupancy is low the price per room charged reflects those lower levels (this model is particularly relevant to PMS pricing models.) • An alternative is pricing based on the star rating of the hotel or average price per room that hotel charges – why should a 1 or 2-star hotel pay the same price for a PMS license compared to a 5-star property that typically charges more per room? 

7. Global partnerships
Is the vendor willing to partner with cloud native technology vendors such as AWS or Microsoft who have global reach and charge low or no set up fees and then small fees per room per month to host applications in the cloud?

8. Emphasis on security
In this era of cybersecurity, how secure are the software solutions that these vendors are proposing? What security tools are the vendors using to ensure that guests’ data is fully protected? 

9. Embraces AI and machine learning
Are the vendors on your shopping list embracing AI and machine learning technology? Are they able to demonstrate how they are incorporating these tools into their solutions?

10. Builds the case for investment
Are the vendors you are reviewing able to build strong business or ROI cases to justify the investment in these new technologies? Investing in new technology for the sake of it or just to keep up with the competition is not enough. As I consult to owners who ultimately have to pay for it, I am often disappointed with vendors who spend little or no time successfully building a business case to justify the investment.

2020 has been a very stressful time for the global hospitality industry and right now it is difficult to predict when COVID-19 will end. At last count, billions of dollars are being spent globally trying to develop a vaccine but no one has yet been able to demonstrate 100% success. In light of this, any investment in new technology has to be carefully considered and the above characteristics are a good guide in the selection process. One thing is certain, post COVID technology will play a pivotal role in how hoteliers interact with guests. As one my clients has advised me, “We have to accept that occupancies are going to be much lower for the foreseeable future, and we are going to have to lower our labor costs accordingly.” This is where new technologies such as mobile check in, mobile key and others are going to prove critical to our success moving forward.

want to read more articles like this?

want to read more articles like this?

Sign up to receive our twice-a-month Watercooler and Siegel Sez Newsletters and never miss another article or news story.