Deploying new technology in a hospitality setting is a huge step; in many cases, it requires vast amounts of capital to implement and an additional time investment for training and education. But in a day and age where guests expect convenience and familiarity, hotels and restaurants often do not have a choice but to invest in technology. The majority of business owners won’t have the talent available to create the technology they need, and will instead have to outsource it.
Understandably, hospitality leaders may feel overwhelmed by the abundance of technology providers out there. The first step is to sit down, assess the issues the business is facing, and identify technologies that can resolve those issues. For the uninitiated, we’ve put together a few questions hospitality leaders should ask before investing in hospitality technology.
What hardware or software is needed to support the new technology?
When a brand starts investing in hospitality technology, it naturally also requires the hardware to support it, and vice versa. In some cases, brands can use existing hardware to run new software, but in others, the software will require special devices, upgraded machines, or an updated operating system to function efficiently. Whatever the case, a complex system of software and hardware is usually involved.
That said, when it comes to hospitality, the benefit of most guest-facing solutions is that guests can use their own devices — be it a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone — to access the software. Since this lessens the burden of purchasing hardware on business owners, it’s something they should really take into consideration when weighing their options.
How will it integrate with existing technology?
It’s an unfortunate reality, but not all systems play nicely together, especially if the brand wants to integrate a legacy system with something new and flashy. Some integrations will require a workaround; if this is the case, the business owner should determine whether the vendor has the resources needed to make it happen. If the vendor can’t easily integrate using its own resources, it should ideally have a partner that can make it happen.
Which pain points does it address?
Technology should never be implemented for its own sake. Savvy business owners will have a clear reason to implement, whether it’s to improve operational efficiency, offer guests better service, or both. Before investing in hospitality technology, they must make sure the solution addresses most, if not all, of their problems. If they choose wisely, technology can even help them solve problems they didn’t know they had!
What kind of customer support will we receive?
Many business owners won’t understand all the technical details of their new implementation, which is why it’s important that they have adequate support should any questions or issues arise. They should seek out vendors that offer more than just software or hardware; vendors worth partnering with should offer installation services, ongoing training, and customer support as well. At Benbria, for example, we assign every client a customer support manager who can walk them through set-up, answer any questions they may have, and troubleshoot problems they experience.
Will the vendor have an ongoing relationship with us?
Whatever vendor a brand chooses, the relationship should be one of collaboration and mutual respect. The vendor should be able to work with the brand to meet their needs and tweak the product so it can serve them — and their other clients — better. Regular meetings between the brand and the vendor are recommended so that the vendor can stay on top of things and deliver updates and new features in a timely manner.
What will happen if we don’t invest in this technology?
Innovation moves at a rapid pace, and as we’ve said, today’s guest expects to have the same conveniences at a hotel as they have at home. Mobile technology is now a prominent aspect of modern life; almost half of smartphone owners say their device is something they couldn’t live without. People can use their mobile phones to purchase clothes, order food, and request a taxi, all without speaking to another human — of course they expect the same convenience at a hotel. Hospitality brands that don’t keep up with new technology, particularly when it comes to mobile, risk being left behind as guests choose more technologically-advanced lodgings.
What kind of partners does the provider have and what can they offer me?
Partnerships between technology providers are common in the industry today. Brands looking to invest in technology can learn a lot about what a solution does and how it can integrate with other solutions on the market by identifying the vendor’s partners. In many cases, brands that work with a vendor will have access to its partners’ complementary services, or at least benefit from them in some way.
Benbria’s network of partners includes some of the top players in hospitality technology. Together with Digital Alchemy, we offer a communication solution that connects the guest with the hotel from the moment they book until after they’ve checked out. We also work with Mitel and Verizon to create an impeccable experience for guest and hotel.
What would you say are the important questions to ask before investing in a technology solution? Let us know in the comments, or on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.