Define what you need
Defining what technology a hotel or a hotel group needs is the core of the problem. Hoteliers want everything to work but have no clue how things should work or what they need to get things to work. The reason is a vast knowledge gap between hospitality traditions and the potential benefits of using technology to enhance the guest experience, revenue, and profitability. In addition, hoteliers do not believe that technology will do any good for guests, and hoteliers are hesitant to give guests any freedom of choice or handling processes, such as the check-in process.
In the 1990ties, very few hoteliers realized they needed a website and a booking engine and that guest behavior would change from calling to making a reservation to make reservations online. Entrepreneurs outside the hotel industry saw an opportunity when the internet gained traction to offer people to book hotels. These websites grew in popularity and made a fortune from hotel commissions. The world outside the hotel industry is changing rapidly, which changes guest behavior and expectations. Many guests perceive that hoteliers lack an understanding of their needs and are slow in adopting new technologies widely used in other industries for years.
What is possible?
Other industries have been very successful in moving work from employees to customers. For example, if a hotel were like a modern bank, the guests would book, set preferences, check in, access the hotel room, order food and beverage, room service, communicate with housekeeping, and check out all by themselves. When did you last talk to someone at the bank while paying your bills? Would you like to return to what banking used to be and meet someone who would do the job for you? It is not even difficult to have a seamless process from booking to check-out in a hotel.
Back-of-house is probably even worse. Systems cannot be integrated, data is not essential, and endless Excel spreadsheets are still used to patch things between systems. Nevertheless, it is possible to solve all these problems and become better informed, more productive, and less frustrated over systems that do not deliver what they were intended to do.
Be creative in your thinking of what is possible. Think ahead a few years and imagine how technology could enhance guest experiences and make running a hotel more profitably easier. History has shown that nothing is impossible, so widen your scope and lay out a vision. If you do not know what you are looking for or have a daring vision that is close to impossible to reach, in both cases, your first stop is to talk to vendors specializing in providing technology to hotels.
Advantage - Industry Solution
Generic systems are not ideal for hotel solutions as they do not cater to hotels' unique working methods. An industry solution is software designed for the hotel industry and tailored to meet unique needs and processes. It offers a comprehensive solution that streamlines data collection, analysis, and reporting, with advanced features tailored to the unique needs of the hotel industry. There are four solid arguments for an industry solution.
Tailored to the industry
An industry solution is tailored to the specific needs of the hotel industry, which means it can help hotels to optimize their operations and increase their revenue. For example, an industry solution can include revenue management, rate optimization, and inventory management, which are essential for hotels to manage their revenue.
Advanced features and functions
An industry solution often includes advanced features and functions specific to the hotel industry. These features can help hotels to improve their performance and increase their competitiveness. For example, an industry solution can include data visualization, data validation, and error handling, essential for hotels to make data-driven decisions.
An industry solution is often designed to integrate with the systems and processes specific to the hotel industry, which can help hotels streamline their workflow and improve their data management. For example, an industry solution can integrate with property management, point of sale, and revenue management systems, essential for hotels to manage their operations.
Companies that offer solutions to the hotel industry have developed the ability to recognize and tackle the unique obstacles that hotels encounter. Additionally, if the management of the company has prior experience in hotel management, they would have the necessary knowledge to understand the needs of hoteliers and deliver suitable solutions. Therefore, it is crucial to exercise caution when dealing with vendors who provide generic software or have no experience working with hotels.
Now that you have gathered valuable insights from vendors and defined your vision, the next step is establishing the selection criteria for a system that will effectively address your needs. These criteria are the essential features (5-10) that the system must possess. Irrespective of other great functionalities a system may offer, it must meet your specific selection criteria. Here are some examples of selection criteria (must-haves) based on the type of hotels you manage.
Multi-property: If you manage multiple hotels, it would be convenient to have a system that can handle all of them together, allowing your employees to access information for all properties without the hassle of logging in and out or switching between hotels. However, if you only manage one hotel and have no plans to add another, this feature may not be necessary.
Integrations: Hotels must have systems that can seamlessly integrate with all relevant systems used in the hotel. It's essential to thoroughly investigate the integration process, including the type of integration, such as one-way, two-way, or real-time, as they vary greatly.
User-friendly: In the hotel industry, where employee turnover is often high, it is essential to have intuitive user interfaces that can maximize system usage and minimize the need for extensive training.
Cloud-based: Nowadays, the majority of systems operate through the cloud. However, it's essential to verify that the system utilizes a major cloud service, like Amazon, Microsoft, or Google, to ensure accessibility, scalability, security, and automatic backup.
Specific functionality: The system needs to include a comprehensive group module if a hotel handles numerous groups. Similarly, a complete meetings and events module is necessary if the hotel has substantial meeting spaces.
A hotel's biggest mistake when selecting a new system is when a vendor convinces the hotel that one of the selection criteria is unimportant and can be worked around with the vendor's system. Therefore, never let anyone change your well-thought-out and ranked selection criteria.
Be cautious when dealing with vendors' salespeople who may prioritize selling their systems over your needs. Watch for implementation timelines and ROI calculations that may seem unrealistic. Introducing a new system requires more than just receiving training on how to use it. It often entails altering the existing work process. As a hotel, you have recognized the benefits of modifying your approach and adopting new, streamlined procedures to boost profitability. After conducting a comprehensive assessment of various systems, you have identified one that nearly matches your requirements. However, it is essential to acknowledge that no system can fulfill all your needs, so that some compromises may be necessary, provided the system meets your selection criteria. The real challenge is to convince everyone to switch from their current practices to the more efficient methods offered by the new system. To achieve this, it is crucial to introduce the new processes gradually, giving people time to adapt to the changes and familiarize themselves with the new way of working.
One advantage of implementing processes step-by-step is ensuring everyone is on board and working towards the same goals. As you and your employees become more familiar with the system, you may identify opportunities to improve or streamline processes. A vendor who values long-term relationships will be receptive to customer feedback and ideas, which can lead to new features and improvements in the system. Collaborative development is a mutually beneficial approach, as customers can achieve greater productivity with enhanced features, while vendors can attract new customers with a more robust and functional system.
Innovation at Demand Calendar
As a hotel industry solution, Demand Calendar is exclusively tailored to the needs of hotels. The idea for a SMART Suite (Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Technology) came to me after struggling to align everyone towards a common goal of generating revenue during my many years as a CEO in the hotel industry. I became frustrated with vendors who promised seamless implementation and high returns on investment but failed to deliver on their promises. As a result, we developed a step-by-step implementation and training method to combat these issues and work closely with our customers to continuously improve and innovate new functionalities. Although customers have already seen benefits after using the system for some time, we continue to strive for perfection by implementing more improvements and developing new functions to make Demand Calendar the ideal system.