Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The future is here!

The Future Is Finally Here

When it comes to the promise of on property operations, technology has finally caught up with imagination.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Glenn Haussman
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Hotel technology is as much about powering the property as it is empowering the customer to be more productive while on site. And the lodging industry is seeing a giant leap in technological advancement that is finally bringing to life many ideas that have been spouted about throughout my entire career.

It’s about time too, I for one have been getting very fatigued listening to prognosticators talking about all these technologies that will be implemented during the next year or so only to find out a year later they are saying the same thing.

But finally it seems computer power, flexibility and advancements in touch screens are finally catching up to the dreams of the tech future seers. Now the hotel industry is on the precipice of massive change that will save hoteliers money while also making employees more productive. And as lodging executives continue to look for ways to lower expenses, technology is proving to be a potentially fertile ground for big cost savings.

The way I see it, and from the looks of what vendors a HITEC last week were showing off, there are a few seminal shifts taking place. Movement to the cloud, more intuitive user interfaces and portability for owners to see critical information on the go.

First up is the cloud. Aside from me personally hating the term and being irrationally annoyed anytime someone uses it, (we really need to work to get a better name for this here) there is great potential for hotels to save big bucks by getting most of the technological guts off site and into the virtual universe. 

And while the name irks me, the potential here delights. Mostly because of cost savings potential but also because of the headache factor. Or should I say lack of headaches. When shifting technology to the cloud (ugh) a hotel no longer has to keep the technology on site.

That’s a great relief to hotel owners everywhere considering they no longer have to pay an IT person every time their system acts wonky or requires an update. Now all that stuff is handled remotely leaving only bare bones terminals at the hotels. This is a potentially great advancement for property management systems, point of sale systems and spa systems as well as many others. Even in-room entertainment systems no longer have to have everything on site and can be run from remote locations. Today’s hit movie, for example, is just there.

Think about it, software is updated remotely so the entire brand is running the same system at the same time. It’s about time.

I also saw a lot more intuitive interfaces on display as well. What I mean here is modern systems are being designed to be a lot more employee friendly and that will translate into compressed training time for people such as front desk clerks where turnover can be rapid. Selfishly it will also mean less time at the front desk waiting for the person to stop typing. I never understood why it is when I ask for a specific type of room like king bed, or anything really, the front desk personnel than types for 20 minutes. I think Steven King wrote The Stand in less time than it takes for me to get a room at a resort.

I am also seeing touch screens being brought into the process too, which should help speed guests along and further reduce training times as more systems are reinvented.

Owners too are seeing programs and services they can use remotely as well. And this is good news for owners with multiple properties or major control issues. Now they can change rates, see status reports on their properties and manipulate a lot more info too on their handheld device or tablet. No more excuses to avoid visiting their kids’ school for the latest art show at 11 in the morning. But more seriously the technology allows hoteliers to access information and make changes on the fly or be on top of critical issues when they cannot be on site.

Technology is finally at the point where it is going to make another great leap in productivity and cost savings in hotels. So the big question becomes, what are you most excited about in existing or promised technological advancements? We’d love to know, send us your thoughts. 

Glenn Haussman   Glenn Haussman 
Editor in ChiefHotel Interactive, Inc.
Bio: Glenn Haussman is Hotel Interactive's Editor In Chief, where he manages all editorial content for the hotel industry’s leading online information resource. Here he creates unique and in-depth content that stimulates and educates the publication’s ...

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