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It is the Hotel CEO's Job to Buy the Right Technology

14 November 2023
Hoteliers complain about their hotel technology for several reasons, such as too complex to use technology, too little training, slow support, lack of functionality, lack of understanding of hotels' needs, and even too many functions that hotels never use. These problems have been around for decades. Is there a way to minimize these problems? More profound industry knowledge from vendors and using the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework could be a way to better hotel technology.
Modern hotel technology must be innovative and intimately aligned with the real needs of hotel operators and guests. This is where the Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) framework becomes essential. In this blog post, I will explore how the hotel CEO can apply the JTBD framework when buying new technology. At the end of the blog post, I will also mention how Demand Calendar, a hotel management platform, has embraced the JTBD approach, ensuring that every aspect of its design and development process is driven by a deep understanding of the specific 'jobs' its users need to accomplish. Let's get started with explaining the JTBD framework.

Understanding Jobs-to-be-done

The development of technology for hotels has become increasingly important in today's fast-paced world. To ensure the success of these technological advancements, it is crucial to understand and align with the customers' needs. This is where the Jobs-to-be-done framework comes into play. In this article, we will explore how the Jobs-to-be-done framework can be effectively used when developing hotel technology, focusing on hotel management, revenue management, and guest experience.
The Jobs-to-be-done framework revolves around the concept that customers "hire" products or services to help them accomplish specific tasks or jobs. Technology developers can gain deep insights into customer needs and preferences by focusing on the job the customer is trying to get done instead of analyzing customer profiles or data correlations. This understanding enables the creation of technology that genuinely addresses the core functional jobs, related jobs, emotional jobs, consumption chain jobs, and purchase decision jobs of customers.
The Jobs-to-be-done framework provides a structured approach for defining, categorizing, capturing, and organizing customer needs. It brings order and structure to the innovation process. It allows product teams to identify unmet needs, discover unique customer segments, and create breakthrough products that predict market success and provide customer value. However, any substantial technology investment is up to the hotel group CEO after stakeholder input and a solid ROI calculation, including evaluating upcoming changing consumer needs and a competitive advantage when attracting guests.

The CEO makes the final decision about buying hotel technology

All hotel CEOs know that buying and implementing hotel technology is demanding for all team members, including managing the natural human resistance to change. Every CEO wants to minimize the risk of buying the wrong technology and maximize the potential for additional revenue, cost savings, enhanced guest experiences, and strengthening of the market position. From a CEO's perspective, selecting and buying technology for a hotel involves several key aspects to achieve the maximal effect of a hotel technology investment.
  1. Strategic Alignment: The CEO must ensure the technology aligns with the hotel's strategic goals and objectives. These objectives could include guest-centricity, increased productivity, making data-driven decisions, and real-time business performance.
  2. Understanding JTBD: While a CEO may need to gain technical expertise, they should have a good grasp of managing a hotel business and their customers' and operations' JTBD to guide technology choices.
  3. Collaboration and Expertise Leveraging: CEOs often collaborate with IT experts, hotel department managers, and other stakeholders to understand the technical aspects and ensure the chosen technology addresses the specific JTBD effectively.
  4. Risk Management: They must assess the risks of implementing new technology, including financial implications, integration with existing systems, and staff training needs.
  5. Vision and Innovation: CEOs play a crucial role in fostering an environment that embraces innovation, encouraging the adoption of technologies that could provide a competitive advantage.
While a hotel group CEO may need more detailed technical knowledge, their role is to understand the broader needs and ensure the selected technology serves those needs effectively, leveraging the expertise of their team and industry experts.

The Role of Deep Industry Expertise

Developing technology for hotels requires in-depth knowledge. Ideally, hoteliers and technology developers with specialized industry experience can identify and prioritize relevant jobs like hotel management, revenue management, and guest experience. This is, however, where things start to go wrong. Hoteliers are often too busy running the day-to-day business and need more time to become experts in defining the jobs. In hotels, the work has been taught from generation to generation, and the jobs have been done the same way for decades. One example is the check-in process, which has been the same for at least a hundred years. Hoteliers explain to technology providers that this is how it should be done. Their only wish is that the PMS could pull up the guest information faster and the credit card machine could process the authorization quicker to speed up the check-in process. The hotelier is not different from any other customer and can only come up with incremental improvements. Even if there is no proof that Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses," the quote captures the difficulties of thinking outside the box and creating game-changing ideas.
This is where the jobs-to-be-done theory comes in. Why do hotels need to check in guests? What is the job that has to be done? Here are a few ideas of what the job is:
  • Know if the guest has arrived
  • Identify or match the guest with the reservation
  • Welcome the guest to the hotel
  • Secure payment
  • Give the guest access to the room
  • Give the guest information about the hotel rules
  • Upsell the guest to a more expensive room
  • Market and sell other products and services to the guest
When the job is clear, innovation on how to get the job done can start. Let's look into "secure payment." The traditional way is to ask the guest for a credit card, authorize the card in the credit card machine, and ask the guest for a PIN code or signature. Instead of this ancient process, the booking engine could process and authorize the credit card if the guest books directly. Another way is to hand over the job to the guest in an app on the smartphone. Hotel staff can get a green light that the credit card is authorized. Creative people could come up with ten other ways to secure the payment. Based on all these ideas, a technology vendor could design functions that will handle the "secure payment" job without friction for hotels.
Deep industry expertise goes beyond the day-to-day standard operating procedures and searches for why things must be done to develop solutions that get the job done. Hoteliers and technology vendors need more industry expertise. It is too much work to think about how things could work. The hotelier just wants a new PMS and has heard that a cloud-based PMS is what the hotel needs. The vendor is eager to sell, so they will sell a generic PMS as long as hotels are buying generic PMSs. The same goes for POS, RMS, CRM, etc. End of story. Hoteliers will continue to complain because they did not know exactly what they bought and the technology did not solve the problems they expected.

Applying JTBD to Technology Solutions

A way forward would be to use a common framework for communication between hoteliers and technology vendors. The jobs-to-be-done framework focuses on the essential jobs and should be used to align hoteliers and technology vendors. Then, technology vendors can create practical and innovative solutions that improve the guest experience and operational efficiency and drive industry advancements. The Jobs-to-be-done framework facilitates effective communication, understanding, and stakeholder cooperation, leading to relevant and customer-centric technology solutions.
Understanding the job-to-be-done (JTBD) for hotel guests and operators is crucial in driving innovation in hotel technology. By focusing on JTBD, technology companies can develop solutions that are not just technologically advanced but also highly relevant and effective for the hotel industry. This approach goes beyond superficial features, targeting hotel operations' core needs and challenges.
For example, a typical hotel JTBD is efficient and personalized guest service. Technology solutions that leverage data analytics and AI can provide customized recommendations or services to guests, enhancing their experience. Similarly, hotels need streamlined operations – a JTBD that can be addressed with integrated management systems, optimizing everything from booking to housekeeping.
Moreover, aligning innovation with the specific needs of hotel operations ensures that the technology is not just a novelty but a practical, value-adding tool. This might mean developing mobile applications that allow contactless check-ins and room service orders or IoT solutions for energy management to reduce costs and improve sustainability.
By understanding and focusing on these JTBDs, technology companies can create solutions that are not only innovative but also deeply integrated into the fabric of hotel operations, leading to more efficient, guest-centric, and profitable hotel businesses.

Future Trends in Hotel Technology

The Jobs-to-be-done framework can also be used to speculate on future trends in hotel technology. By analyzing evolving customer needs and technological advancements, one can predict the direction the hotel industry is heading.
One potential trend in hotel technology is the use of AI-powered personalization. By leveraging AI algorithms and machine learning, hotels can analyze guest preferences, behaviors, and historical data to deliver highly personalized experiences. This trend aligns with the job of providing personalized recommendations and services to guests.
Another trend is the rise of contactless experiences. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, contactless technologies have gained significant importance in the hotel industry. Contactless check-in and check-out, mobile keyless entry, and voice-activated controls are examples of technology solutions that enable contactless experiences. These solutions align with the job-to-be-done of seamless and safe guest interactions.
The Jobs-to-be-done framework can guide future developments in hotel technology by providing insights into customers' evolving needs and expectations. By aligning with these needs, hotels can stay ahead of the curve and deliver exceptional experiences to their guests.
For instance, let's consider a hotel that incorporates AI-powered personalization into its guest experience offerings. The hotel can deliver highly personalized dining, activities, and amenities recommendations by leveraging AI algorithms to analyze guest preferences and behaviors. This technology solution aligns with the jobs to be done by guests, providing a unique and memorable experience.

Key Takeaways

The Jobs-to-be-done framework offers a powerful approach to developing technology solutions in the hotel industry. By understanding the jobs customers are trying to get done and aligning technology solutions accordingly, hotels can create innovative and customer-centric experiences.
Deep industry expertise plays a crucial role in utilizing the framework effectively. It enables the identification and prioritization of relevant jobs in hotel management, revenue management, and guest experience. By leveraging this expertise, technology developers can effectively create tailored solutions that address specific challenges and meet customer needs.
Based on the Jobs-to-be-done framework, a collaboration between hotels and technology vendors leads to the development of innovative and customer-centric hotel technology solutions. By working together, hotels and technology vendors can leverage their expertise to drive industry advancements and enhance the guest experience.
In conclusion, the Jobs-to-be-done framework provides a valuable tool for understanding customer needs, predicting market success, and creating customer value in the context of hotel technology development. By embracing this framework, hotels can unlock new opportunities, overcome challenges, and deliver exceptional experiences to their guests.

Demand Calendar focuses on hotels JTBD

Demand Calendar is a hotel management platform designed from the hotel group CEO's perspective, driving the business toward long-term financial success. Demand Calendar effectively integrates the JTBD (Jobs-To-Be-Done) framework in its design and development to ensure the CEO that the hotel organization has access to the information needed to perform their jobs as quickly and accurately as possible. Demand Calendar has three core design principles:
  1. Intuitive: The system is designed for ease of use, catering to varied skill levels without extensive training, ensuring quick onboarding and improved productivity. A broader system use helps the CEO align everyone toward the same goals.
  2. Insightful: By transforming complex data into actionable knowledge, Demand Calendar provides deep insights, facilitating teamwork and enhancing revenue generation and profitability. The JTBD framework ensures stakeholders swiftly get the information they need instead of having to extract the essence from all the overwhelming noise.
  3. Interactive: The interactive design, with features like drag-and-drop and easy functions to add human knowledge, encourages active user participation, enhancing user experience and effectiveness. The CEO will get one truth, including nuances the team members provide.
These principles, rooted in the JTBD framework, ensure that Demand Calendar's solutions are technologically advanced and closely aligned with hotel group CEOs' specific needs and challenges.