Hoteliers’ lesson from Iowa: Know your tech vendors
Hoteliers’ lesson from Iowa: Know your tech vendors
07 FEBRUARY 2020 8:28 AM

U.S. politics recently has highlighted the fact that unmitigated faith in tech companies is a recipe for disaster.

I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb or being overly political by saying that the Democratic caucuses in Iowa this week have become an overly complicated headache.

Why is that? The party officials for that state put too much faith (and not enough skepticism) in an unproven tech vendor.

To recap, the Iowa Democratic Party’s decision to employ a new smartphone app to tabulate and report results from the individual caucuses scattered around the state. Ultimately, they went with a group called Shadow, Inc. that didn’t seem to have a proven track record at that point.

The app failed and Iowa officials are still scrambling to get accurate vote tallies released days later, even though that process traditionally was mostly wrapped up the same night of the caucuses.

That should be a wakeup call and reminder to hoteliers everywhere to know whom you’re working with when it comes to the software platforms you employ on-property and to know how to reach out for quick remedies so that the end-user experience for guests and employees isn’t as frustrating as it has been in Iowa.

I don’t want to try to portray this as an indictment on any and all tech vendors, because I’m sure there are any number of groups that could’ve carried out the task handed to Shadow in a more effective manner. But it is a reminder that a tech companies bona fides are more important during the vetting process than relationships.

Just think of all the places a hotel property could similarly have tech-related disasters, from property management systems to customer relationship platforms to automated revenue management.

If any of those started churning out bad data or just stopped working all together, it could be a huge problem for a hotel that would result in lots of revenue lost and new costs incurred.

Thankfully, the hotel industry does seem to have quite a bit of infrastructure in place to help hoteliers make sure they’re working with trusted partners who can be responsive and helpful in the case of a crisis. Those resources include obviously the brands themselves, which have a vested interest in keeping bad tech companies from eroding the guest experience for their brands, as well as industry groups such as Hospitality Technology Next Generation that bring together tech experts, hoteliers and consultants to come up with best practices and workable solutions.

So lean on those resources instead of damning yourself to avoidable chaos.

What do you think? Let me know via email or on Twitter.

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