Tim Thilleman, Director of IT, Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond
In the ever changing and growing climate of Hotel Brands adding to their portfolios the Millennial-esque, Boutique, or Mid-size upscale style hotels with full service amenities has thrust technology as the resource savior in this labor-intensive industry. These new or refreshed brands such as Cambria Hotel & Suites by Choice, Canopy by Hilton, 1Hotels by Starwood, Centric by Hyatt, EVEN Hotels by Intercontinental, Moxy Hotels by Marriott, Radisson Red Hotels, and Virgin Hotels—all share those unique and illuminating esthetic and technical features to attract the new business traveler from the Millennial, Gen X, or Gen Y age groups. As many of these new brands are sprouting up in the world, they all have one common question— “How do they meet the demands from the consumer for insatiable technological advancements?”
As the hotel room has always been thought of as a home away from home, we are in the process of placing those residential amenities in the hotel room. Apart from the coziness of a quaint old eastern shore resort destination, off the beautiful Chesapeake Bay, the customers expect more freedom. Freedom with making app-based bookings while traveling, choosing the perfect room with exact amenities, pre-determined climate control, comfortable web check-ins, and seamless checkouts. Guests want to engage and book their rooms from their smartphone and choose their room as well as understand all property details. The guest want to have the option to use their smartphone to open their guestroom doors and check-in as they do for airline travel 24-48 hours prior to arrival. Most new travelers would welcome the guest engagement technology. In today's world, the missing pieces of the human puzzle to deliver full-service amenities are backed by technology—driving a better person-to-person interaction.
Embracing the Technological Boom
The hotel industry has been primarily relying on the Property Management System (PMS) to become the primary interface for 3rd party software integrations.
While we are stuck with yesterday's platform, tomorrow’s technology is already here
Earlier, applications such as the POS, EMS, and accounting systems needed separate hardware to integrate with their PMS systems, adding extra costs for every plug-in support. Static applications, the alternative, proved to be a “double mess” as it needed to be heavily managed, requiring people to run those pieces of equipment without a proper integration—wasting time, money, and effort. Due to these complications, there arose a need for a coordinated effort or a platform for integration, may be a tool that acts as open APIs, and flexible enough to allow integration to all of its 3rd party peripherals.
No matter how big the hotels are, they still have limited resources to capitalize and deliver to every single guest, and they are yearning for technology to help them provide the personal touch. At this point of time, why rely on that PMS system? As we venture into cloud, PMS becomes the software application just as much as POS or EMS. Having a centralized control over all the peripherals, the complexity is handled without any human involvement, and every hotel can maintain the integrity of their brand, and also encompass new requirements. It becomes a management dream as it empowers the brand more and gives that built-in flexibility. While we are stuck with yesterday's platform, tomorrow’s technology is already here. We need that technology today in order to understand what we might use five years from now.
Perfecting the Art of Service
To book ameal in a typical hotel, the guest has to call up the front desk, get transferred three times before reaching to the right person, and hope for the food to get delivered on time. A few hoteliers now have broken down the full-service into a mobile app that allows guests to choose from a variety of menus, and the information is delivered to the kitchen directly using the integrated POS system. Service recovery is another aspect of a great service experience. While it’s important to resolve problems, technology takes the human error element out of the equation and proactively approaches the issues before they become a problem. Using this type of system allows the front desk employees to welcome customers and bartenders to serve drinks instead of answering phone calls.
Great Returns from Great Service
If we have something that people use at home, we always try to replicate in hospitality by combining a lot of home devices and home comforts for a homely environment. Whether it’s a leisure traveler or business traveler, both expect the same comforts, and based on these amenities; the client decides to come back time and again. That’s the actual brand loyalty that increases the Average Daily Rate (ADR) and the Return on Investment (ROI). The ROI is built into the fact that technology increases the service level to a point where organizations don’t lose money in service recovery. When technology is introduced, hotels proactively sell more amenities and allow powerful marketing campaigns—bringing more ROI.