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It’s Resort Time! No Time for a Vacation

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June 01, 2016
Resort | Technology
James Lingle - james@jameslingle.com

The resort is a magical place where the mere mention of it conjures up images of relaxing by the pool, playing golf, soothing spa treatments or, for the more excitement driven crowd, music, night clubs, water slides, zip lines, hitting the slopes and the thrill of the casino floor.

But while visiting the resort of our choice allows us to take a break from the pressures of working and daily life, resort technology has no time for a vacation.

For all the boringness of infrastructure, it may be the single most critical component. I am a sucker for all those home improvement shows. Part of the formula for these shows is that for every “forever home” that is getting a remodel there is at least one major problem during the renovation. Overwhelmingly it is structural. Homeowners are required to compromise on the cosmetic aspects of their remodel, but they never compromise on fixing a structural issue. Through all the complaining, they realize that without the proper structure, major future problems await. The same can be said for technology. For all the exciting possibilities of guest tracking, revenue management and improved guest experience, without the proper infrastructure, you will never receive the promised benefits of any system. Invest here first.

Perhaps the two biggest trends in F&B are mobile ordering and payment movement and the incredible uptick in the social component of dining. What we often forget is how tied together these two trends can be. 

You might be thinking – I can just interface to the PMS and the payment problem is solved. Sure, a PMS interface is a suitable alternative for your traditional hotel restaurant, but it doesn’t effectively work for high traffic, mobile environments like nightclubs, millennial hotspots or the casino floor. The most common tools like Google Wallet, Apple Pay® and company-specific payment apps are now relatively prolific thanks to the emergence of NFC-capable mobile devices.

How many of these apps actually drive the social aspect? Better yet, how many of these payment methods allow you to look at buying patterns and turn them into marketable activities? The answer is too few! These apps are only focused on the ability to process a payment. Those that collect data are often driven by the specific merchant and require much in the way of internal resources to support this environment.

Third-party developed “open” apps are necessary that can meet multiple needs while unloading the burden of support. This will provide organizations a better opportunity to add value through the use of the data rather than supporting an ever-changing app.

Some of the coolest advances in technology are in this area, specifically the use of analyzed data to become responsive to guests and actually change guests’ behaviors.

Imagine that you walk into your favorite retail establishment and the mobile app for that store kicks in on your smartphone and begins tracking your movement. As you walk past the shoes, you see a pair that catches your eye. You dwell there for a moment and then move on, but you can’t get them out of your head so you go back trying to decide whether you want to buy them. Suddenly the store app notifies you that there is 5 percent discount on your shoe purchase today, or perhaps you receive a coupon to purchase shoes later (the difference between real-time analytics and data review).

Extrapolate that now to a resort – how many times did the guest pass the spa? Where did she go after the show? Perhaps the resort wants to drive business to an under visited area so an incentive is provided.  Much of this doesn’t even require an app. You can successfully capture traffic patterns via other devices and methodologies and then process the data and make intelligent decisions.

GPS is a great tool to use in the absence of other data collecting and tracking mechanisms. Apps can use smartphone GPS to track how many runs you’ve skied down the mountain. Geo-fencing can allow skiers to more quickly pass through lift lines. Combine this with a social app, and all their friends know they are at your resort having the time of their life, providing you with free marketing.

There are an amazing number of other resort technologies out there and it is easy to get lost in the options. But first understand what you want to accomplish (not to be confused with what you want to do – they are very different things). When you have an idea of the end state, you can identify the right technologies, focus on the proper infrastructure, determine what you can and cannot do (including what you should and should not do), plan well (and try to leave flexibility for change), choose great partners and execute.

For more than 20 years, James Lingle has been a part of technology in the hospitality space. He can be reached at james@jameslingle.com. 
©2016 Hospitality Upgrade
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