Hoteliers should embrace innovation amid tech worries
Hoteliers should embrace innovation amid tech worries
18 JANUARY 2017 1:55 PM

Calls to reject trendy and largely useless tech fads make sense, but hoteliers shouldn’t let that line of thinking cause them to turn a blind eye to more vital forms of innovation that help bring them closer to guests.

Last week, my boss Stephanie Ricca let it be known that she’s not impressed with some of the big waves of technology adoption in the hotel industry.

In calling out the Wynn Las Vegas specifically for its rollout of Amazon’s Echo technology in guestrooms, which was announced at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Ricca stressed that hoteliers should keep in mind the potential pitfalls that come with technology. In this case, it is easy to see how those pitfalls could lead to greater risk than benefit for both hotels and guests, since the voice command tech opens up privacy issues in particular.

But I want to caution hoteliers that this line of thinking, while useful or even vital to a point, can be toxic in large doses, since it causes many to sit on their hands as wave after wave of new technology is rolled out, adopted by consumers and largely ignored by the hotel industry.

As my recent story highlighting research from Essec Business School’s Peter O’Connor points out, consumers have left hoteliers in the dust in terms of technology over the past couple of years, and we’re definitely in catch-up mode at this point.

Investing in technology can be a hard sell, since it often comes with a significant price tag and has an expiration date that hits much earlier than other forms of capital improvement. But that doesn’t mean just not doing anything is an option.

If the goal of this industry, along with each individual property and GM, is to leave guests with a lasting (positive) impression and give guests the kind of experience they will recall fondly, then technology is needed to realize that dream.

If I go to a hotel that is great in every regard, except they don’t have any tech amenities and the Wi-Fi is lagging, I generally don’t have a positive view of that property, in retrospect. If I go to a hotel that is a bit rough around the edges but smartly uses tech to make my in-room experience more seamless and convenient in a way I haven’t experienced before, that’s the type of place that I’ll be calling home about.

Hoteliers, just like any kind of business person, have to weigh risk and reward every day, and obviously technology is no exception. But the truth of the matter is there is in fact an acceptable—or even necessary—amount risk when it comes to technology that hoteliers must embrace in order to stand out from the rest of the pack. Don’t let fear push you away from being cutting edge.

Think hoteliers are doing a great, terrible or mediocre job embracing technology? Let me know via email or on Twitter.

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