What’s at the top of nearly every hotel IT expert’s to-do list? The answer might surprise you: It’s providing a unique and memorable guest experience.
More specifically, it’s enabling the operations team with better tools and resources around guest preferences and loyalty, according to hotel IT experts from a range of hotel brands.
Speaking recently at HT-Next in New Orleans, Saundarya Shah, Chief of Technology Solutions at Zendesk, said in today’s world every hotel guest wants “to be treated like a Kardashian."
“Everyone’s looking for that Kardashian experience. So, what are my preferences? When’s my spa and when’s my tee time?” Shah said. “The more information you have available, you’re going to be able to proactively offer those things and they’ll lead to additional revenue opportunities.”
Just how do hotel CIOs and Chief Technology Officers view using technology to stand out amongst the ever-increasing crowd of brands?
Dan Kornick, CIO of Loews Hotels:
- “I want my team focused on improving the guest experience, not running back-end technologies. Let my partners run my solutions - that's what I'm counting on - but my differentiator is going to be operations and service. Putting that into the cloud is saving us millions of dollars but also giving me a platform for growth.”
- “We'll never compete with Marriott on a program so why not do something different? We look at VIPs coming in and see what makes sense for them. It's getting to know the guest and personalizing their benefits. For CRM and preferences, it’s important for us to have that connected so we have a platform instead of a multitude of systems.”
- “We run at 88% occupancy, so if I’m going to make a change and add Alexa to my rooms, am I going to get to 89% or 90%? Or am I able to then raise my ADR? If the answer is ‘no’ to both, then I’m not going to implement that piece of technology.”
Marco Trecroce, SVP & Chief Information Officer, Four Seasons:
- “I’d love to have everything in the cloud, but a lot of this industry is built on legacy. We want it driven by technology, but there are still challenges. ... We’ll take a cloud system over everything, especially if we can augment it a bit to fit our business.”
- “Of all the money we’ve spent, our mobile app and chat messaging system has by far had the biggest impact. It’s unbelievable what people will share on these chat channels. Our hotels know what channel you came in on and can continue that conversation.”
Noni Gonzalez, VP, Commercial Applications at IHG:
- “Concerto (IHG’s new Guest Reservations System) was bon of the idea that we need to provide our hotel employees with the tools, because that’s where it starts. Employees need to be able to take care of guests, and here they were Xeroxing. We had a lot of legacy systems.”
- “And so we took the opportunity to abstract the work that each role in the hotel needed to do ... because if we can make the employees’ lives easier, they’ll pass that on to the guest. The goal was unifying the employee experience with the front-end.”
Page Petry, Chief IT Officer of the Americas at Marriott International:
- “Bringing all the systems together and getting a data strategy finalized will pave the way for Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to really come to fruition. You can’t just use AI for the sake of using it, you’ve got to understand the business case.”