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With the news cycle laser-focused on the looming threat of a COVID-19 second wave happening in nearly every territory, it is up to each and every hotel to ensure we are all fully compliant with virus safety guidelines in order to restore group booking confidence. And the only way to ensure compliance with these safety guidelines is through contactless and compliance technologies to give guests a strong guarantee of proper sanitization as well as peace of mind.

A great deal has been written over the years about the viability of moving a hotel’s property-management system (PMS) to the cloud to take advantage of the latest technologies, but hoteliers need to realize that it’s not the only viable option. All platforms have advantages, including self-hosted, private cloud and on-premise solutions that leverage the latest mobile, contact free and web-based technologies. Independent operators can still enhance the digital guest experience, support personalized and mobile check-in, deploy contact free technologies, and secure hotel/guest data even if their PMS does not reside in the cloud. It should not be a question of “Cloud or On Premise?” but rather “Does the PMS solve your business objectives in both technology and service?”

Much has been written in the mainstream hospitality press about the challenges COVID-19 has presented to the industry. Hotels are in more pain than at any time in our memories. Because of the extensive media coverage, I won’t dwell on this topic further in what is primarily a technology column. But it’s the background for this week’s column, and so merits acknowledgement.

Are You All In?
Posted: 07/27/2020

Imagine everyone in your organization engaged, aligned, and performing to their potential. Imagine everyone playing “All In.”

Great organizations have synergy. Their culture allows them to play to a rhythm at a different tempo than the average organization. How do you get that at your organization?

Many front-line hospitality workers rely on tips for a significant part of their paychecks. If not for tips, many hotel associates who serve as waitstaff, bartenders, housekeepers, bell staff, concierges and pool attendants would soon be looking for other jobs. This is a regional issue: in most of Asia and Europe, staff get higher base pay, and tips are either not expected at all, or are truly discretionary. But in the U.S., Canada, Britain and other countries, tips are an important reality, and one that’s not likely to change anytime soon.



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Can Real Innovation Come Without Disruption?

02/22/2016
by Ron Strecker

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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