Caryl Helsel
Oct 19, 2023

Driving Adoption of New Technology

Driving Adoption of New Technology

Caryl Helsel
Oct 19, 2023
New Technology

In the evolving hospitality sector, adopting new technologies is vital. Updating a tech stack demands due diligence, robust change management, project management, and effective training. When a

hotel undertakes a technology change, it’s critical that the internal culture and processes change to enable full adoption of the solution.

For employees to truly embrace a tech transformation, they need to understand its significance. It isn’t just about explaining the what, but also the why. Begin by crafting a persuasive narrative that highlights the update’s advantages to the employee. Ensure the narrative highlights tangible benefits like bolstering productivity, heightening efficiency, improving guest experience, and growing revenue. It's about creating a clear vision of a brighter future, where the updated tech stack isn't just a tool, but a catalyst for collective growth.

Conduct Due Diligence Based on Guest and Employee Experience

The first step to any change is to identify what’s important to your hotel. This helps your employees become more efficient while delivering an ideal guest journey. What employee experience do you intend to deliver? What guest experience do you expect your team to provide?

Once you map this effectively, you’ll need to develop a technology strategy based on the experience you want to deliver for your hotel.

Explore questions like:

  1. What type of mobile experience do we want to deliver?
  2. Do we want self-service solutions or more options for our guests to do things their way?
  3. Do our employee teams require mobile solutions? If so, does our infrastructure support this?
  4. How easy do we want to make it to spend money with us?

Many hotels never design a strategy, and they end up with a mismatched cacophony of technology, many duplicative systems, and a tech stack that isn’t fully integrated.

Some companies choose to complete the due diligence on their own, assuming each technology offers a basic level of functionality. However, our team has found that technology companies often overlook the simplest requirements, making the migration more difficult than necessary and often requiring a last-minute development that delays the go-live date and increases the solution’s delivery cost.

In many cases, if the hotel completes a request for proposal (RFP) process at all, it isn’t granular enough to truly reveal the best solution. Hotels must document and prioritize their business requirements, ask detailed questions, ensure integration within the existing tech stack, and score the results to design and install the best solutions for their specific requirements.

While searching for and selecting new technologies, it’s critical to adoption that the employee team doesn’t lose important functionalities. Don’t take away existing features if doing so requires employees to do things manually and makes their jobs more difficult. Any new technology play should make the employee’s job more efficient and lead to an improved guest experience. Technology projects can fail when teams believe the new technology has made their lives harder.

Without appropriate due diligence, many technology changes are doomed to failure based on business requirements alone. Creating a cohesive tech stack strategy and completing effective due diligence are the first steps to technology migration success.

Change Management Is King

The change management paradigm is indispensable when navigating a tech stack update. Without effective change management, a technology change will not be successful. At its core, the process centers around driving internal behavioral change associated with ushering in fresh technological tools and systems. The following actions are critical to effective adoption once a new technology is selected:

1. Establish Unambiguous Goals:

Defining the endgame, including timeline, budget, and desired employee and guest impact, is critical. Team members need to understand the vision to enthusiastically adopt new processes.

These goals shouldn't be arbitrary; they must resonate with the hotel’s overarching strategic blueprint. Cogent objectives act as a rudder, directing the multifaceted decisions that permeate the tech transition journey. It isn’t just about mitigating confusion, but aligning every participant toward a collective and successful outcome.

2. Deploy Project Management:

The project plan is the roadmap you must follow for a successful technology implementation. Someone needs to own the project and manage it daily to ensure it is delivered on time and within budget. Selecting the right project manager is key to successfully managing implementation resources.

Even if you don’t use project management software, at a minimum, you should document and develope your plan in a spreadsheet. Outline who specifically owns the task (not just the department), set a start and end date, define critical path items, set dependencies, and determine task deliverables. Finally, you need to document any roadblocks that could impact the budget or schedule and update them weekly.

Your project manager (PM) should establish a regular cadence for meetings and distribute action items to the team. They also need to identify potential risks and offer strategies to mitigate them as they arise. Something will always not go as planned, so have a plan for the unexpected. This resource serves as the “Chief Nudger” to rally the team around the goal. It’s crucial to have the right PM to successfully drive the project to completion.

3. Engage With Key Stakeholders:

The project team’s caliber and composition is central to the tech stack overhaul’s success. When you undertake significant technology change, it’s important to engage with key stakeholders throughout the organization. Find the influencers in each department and get them involved in the process.

Create a cross functional steering committee who can work together to launch the change throughout the organization. Identifying and employing team members who can ensure holistic teamwork is key. Often these steering committee members are champions for the change and can influence the rest of the team to adopt technology more quickly than leadership can.

4. Develop a Robust Communication Plan:

The next step is to construct a robust communication plan. This will ensure that all key stakeholders and their teams are aware of the coming change and preparing for it internally.

The plan should allow for outbound communication to employee teams and should also facilitate feedback. This means gathering their insights, apprehensions, and questions. Ensuring honest. two-way communication means no one will feel the technology is being forced upon them by a disconnected home office that doesn’t understand their concerns or take them into consideration.

5. Migrate Data Effectively:

What goes into a system comes out of that system. Migrating unclean data can result in failed adoption. The key is to decide what you can migrate, what you should build manually, and how you can accomplish this efficiently.

Depending on the technology, some things must be migrated. This includes future reservations, top guest data, and hotel description content. However, there are times when it’s better to start with a clean slate. This is a strategic decision you should make at the project’s outset. Don’t treat it as an afterthought. Develop a data migration plan and stick to it.

All-encompassing SOPs and Training Blueprints Are Vital to Adoption

Technology transformations aren't just about shiny new tools. They’re about getting people to use those tools. One recurrent bottleneck during such updates is users’ potential resistance or inability to adapt to new systems. Three factors are often to blame: lack of vision, lack of procedural change, and lack of effective training and education.

The endgame is to transform your employee teams from tentative explorers to confident navigators. The goal is not to overwhelm them, but to equip them with the training and procedures they need to be successful. The keys to creating an effective training blueprint are:

  • Identify the key audiences and what they need to learn.
  • Document new standard operating procedures using the new technology’s full functionality.
  • Educate teams on the technology’s purpose, processes, and functionality.
  • Provide FAQs that answer the most common questions.
  • Teach users how to get help should they encounter an issue.

Embracing the Change: Navigating Organizational Shifts During Tech Stack Updates:

A tech stack update isn't merely about the technology. At its core, it involves reshaping the organization's fabric to align with the new tools and systems. By employing the strategies outlined above, hotels can successfully launch technology projects and significantly improve adoption rates. This will result in improved efficiency, greater productivity, enhanced guest experience, stronger employee satisfaction, and greater profitability.

CARYL HELSEL is the founder and CEO of Dragonfly Strategists.

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