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People today expect to be connected always and everywhere; sometimes it’s hard to believe that there was a world before smartphones and Wi-Fi. In the time since Wi-Fi became ubiquitous in hotels, apartments, and public spaces, it has fueled the evolution of connectivity in a lot of ways. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the most basic needs start at the bottom, and you can’t get to the next level without a strong foundation. 

By now, everyone is aware that hotel giant Marriott International announced on Friday a massive data breach that goes back more than four years and may have affected up to 500 million customers worldwide. 

After two years of preparation, the FlyZoo Hotel — a futuristic property that uses interactive technologies to do everything from greet guests to deliver room service — is ready for business. 

Mobile technology is fast becoming central to the entire travel experience. Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to research trips, book accommodation, check in at the airport, and access their hotel room. But one of the next big roles mobile has to play in the travel process is mobile payment. The idea of an entirely cashless society might still seem some way off, but mobile payment is gaining popularity. As it becomes more widely used, its fast and frictionless nature will bring benefits before, during and after a trip. 

Digital marketing, also known as internet marketing, plays a significant role to boost hotel website traffic and online bookings. Recently, many big announcements were made in the digital industry, for example when Facebook introduced a new video format for marketers, or when Google announced a board core algorithm. If you are a new hotelier and want to stay ahead in the industry, then you should know what’s going on in the hotel digital marketing industry. 
 



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Can Real Innovation Come Without Disruption?

02/22/2016

If you’re like me, your inbox has included recent cover stories, emails and blog posts about disruption. Some have spoken about embracing disruption, others have offered ideas on how to minimize it. Regardless how you feel about it, the amount of disruption in our industry is going to increase.

Last year at this time I established three key principles for my finance and technology teams to incorporate into their daily routines and strategic planning. The first two principles are support and partnerships. This goes back to a basic premise of the hotel business.  Finance and technology should always focus first on supporting operations in the daily interaction with our customers. 

The third principle I conveyed to the team was innovation. Everyone can be an innovator. It doesn’t matter what their role is or even what department they work in. Innovation is finding a better way to complete a task or complete a goal. A decade ago this idea might have been referred to as continuous operational improvement, or COI.

For example, let’s say you have the latest property management system on the market which can produce a multitude of filtered reports on the fly. These reports can be displayed, converted to PDF and emailed, or even exported to Excel. Printing these reports and re-entering the data into a spreadsheet is not innovation. Generating an Excel export file linked to a pre-designed template is somewhat innovative. But wouldn’t it be more innovative to get accustomed to the new system report? And who needs to print anything today?

If the challenge comes from trying to compare actual data from the PMS with the daily budget information residing in another application then innovation can go one of two ways. Developing a spreadsheet template linked to Excel exports from each system is a tried and true method but can be a problematic. The more innovative approach would be a PMS with workspace set aside to house a daily budget for reporting.

These are samples of ways we all innovate every day and these innovations are not viewed as disruptive. In fact, we are happier and feel a sense of accomplishment. Technology has been driving us to rethink how we do things for a long time. 

Your PMS is likely light years ahead of what was in use 20 years ago, but are you leveraging all of the features? Why not? Because we often want the software to adapt to the way we have always done things. We become the roadblock to letting the software fulfill the promise of change.

This is where disruption comes in. Experience shows real innovation requires a commitment to let the past be the past. Take the time to really absorb how a new system works. Reflect on how you can leverage the software to improve the way you do business. Don’t be burdened by how things are currently done, or how the layout of a report is different.

If you buy into the promise of the software’s transformative potential, then the only thing standing in your way is disruption. Everyone impacted by the new software will go through some level of disruption, starting with training on a new application while still working in the old one.

Innovation equals change. It might be a little change or it could be a major change, but if things don’t change for the better then you failed to innovate. Human nature tends to resist change and some actually fear change. Or do we fear the disruption part of change?

Disruption doesn’t need to be feared, it needs to be managed. It requires forethought into identifying how things will be different. It means identifying the things we will stop doing. The inclusion of all stakeholders into this conversation will give them the opportunity to embrace the change. Disruption will still happen, but it won’t be as frightening.

So what are your plans for change this year? Are you going to install a new or updated software package? Will the change be transformative? Is the team prepared for disruption? Or will the change only result in gripes about how the old system was better.

The technology sector knows hospitality is ready for disruption. Creative solutions in the form of hardware and software show up every day. The companies who will be leading hospitality tomorrow are those embracing disruption today. These new solutions will be more effective if we can disconnect ourselves from how we have always done business.

This year is already shaping up to be one of change. Are you ready to be disruptive?

About The Author
Ron Strecker
Chief Financial Officer
Al J Schneider Company


Ron Strecker is a 35 year veteran of hospitality industry finance and technology.  A graduate of James Madison University, Ron spent his early years working for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts in Louisville, Dallas, Austin and Kansas City.  His career continued with assignments that included chain-affiliated, independent, urban, resort, luxury, and limited service operations.  Ron joined the Al J Schneider Company as CFO in 2007 after 10 years working for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia.  He is an active member of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) and has earned their top accounting and technology certifications (CHAE, CHTP).

 
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