Company insight

he last 15 months have been very difficult for those of us in the hospitality industry to navigate, and for some personally it has been a tragic year. As we evolved through the pandemic, it became clear that we should all be prepared to expect the unexpected. The challenges have clearly driven operators to evaluate their technology and, as a result, to re-evaluate their technology vendors. This has been particularly true when trying to create an environment where guests are provided a higher degree of control over their level of comfort and safety. As someone who has worked in the hospitality industry all my adult life, I don’t think that I have ever seen a time when technology was more relevant in helping to manage operations and deliver a desired guest experience than it is today. Sure, the early days of POS and PMS systems were transformative and created the foundation for a plethora of technology solutions that are used in hotels every day, but today, table stakes solutions are required to enable the guest experience, from online booking to check-out and at many points

New horizons T

As the hospitality industry continues the journey towards full recovery, technology is once again playing a significant role in enabling hospitality to reinvent itself to meet the ever-changing demands of travellers, writes Don DeMarinis, senior vice-president, sales and marketing of Agilysys.

in between. There is nothing new here other than the fact that the technology now must extend to a device that is owned and operated by guests: their mobile phones.

At Agilysys, we developed numerous self-service solutions for F&B and hotel operations a few years ago to enable our end-to-end solution strategy, and having those products served us well over the last year. We initially built those solutions to provide convenience to guests, reduce costs, create efficiencies, drive revenue and so on. What we did not know, but have since learned, is that the self- service solutions that we now refer to as contactless have enabled a whole new level of guest experience, opportunities that are the result of giving guests control and choice. In the end, it is all about providing options to guests that allow them to decide how to best experience the hotel. Years ago, I met with the CEO of a well-established luxury hotel brand who started the meeting by saying, “ROI is great, but if it doesn’t enhance the guest experience and elevate our brand, we are not interested.” The point was that it gets

ROI from delivering a consistent guest experience that comes from a combination of things that impact the guest during their stay.

New tech

The pandemic forced the adoption of many new technologies, and those technologies are likely here to stay. Not only do they empower guests, help with operating costs and boost revenue, but they also add an additional layer of valuable data that can be collected. With the right strategy, the right technology and well-integrated solutions in place, there is no reason in today’s world to not have a very robust profile of guests. The key is to have the right amount of technology in place that provides a level of choice and convenience, but does not burden them with what they might feel is a task that the hotel is now putting on them. In most cases, there must always be the option of human interaction to avoid the risk of alienating and frustrating certain customers. Finally, there is the ongoing challenge of what to do with all that data. Today, we hear the term ‘data ops’, which refers to people in an organisation who operationalise data. These teams are valuable in helping companies market and operate their hotels, but the immediate benefits of all this data can come in the form of guest information that is presented to hotel staff in real time that enables them to personalise interactions with guests. When multiple systems are well integrated with the specific purpose of providing seamless, frictionless, and personalised service to guests, the combination of leveraging data to optimise operations, combined with the use of real- time data during guest interactions, can have a powerful impact on delivering a great guest experience. ●

Services technology in hotels has changed so dramatically in the past decade. Connective systems now need to contact every guest individually, through their mobile devices.

Hotel Management International / 31

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