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Why Are Many Hoteliers Hostile Towards Technology?

16 April 2024
Many hoteliers exhibit a distinct reluctance towards adopting new technologies. This hesitance is not just a trivial resistance but a pervasive stance that can affect all areas of operations, from guest services to back-end management. The reasons for this resistance are multifaceted and often deeply ingrained in the culture and operational fabric of the hospitality sector.
By exploring the reasons behind hoteliers' hostility towards technology, we can better understand hoteliers' challenges and identify solutions that could bridge the gap between current practices and the technological possibilities that promise to enhance efficiency and guest satisfaction in the hospitality industry.

Six reasons for hostility

Let's examine six reasons behind hoteliers' hostility toward adopting new technology, providing a detailed understanding of each concern. Many of those are based on my experience managing hotels.

1. Previous Disappointments

Hoteliers who have previously invested in technology that failed to deliver its promises are likely skeptical about new technological solutions. Vendors sometimes overpromise the capabilities of their systems, leading to expectations that are not met. This mismatch between expected and actual performance can result in financial losses, operational disruption, and a general mistrust of similar technologies, making hoteliers wary of further investments.
"When I was managing a few hotels, we had recently opened a new hotel, and the occupancy forecast for the next few months was around 65%. However, after some time, we observed guests not showing up as expected. We contacted the PMS vendor for assistance, and they acknowledged that the booking data in the system was unreliable and they could not help us. I began searching for alternative vendors and put in much effort to create a detailed specification of our requirements. Several vendors reviewed the specifications and informed us they couldn't meet our needs. However, one vendor promised to deliver everything we needed, which was a false claim. While the new system resolved the on-the-books issue, it had other critical flaws. Another disappointment came a few years later when the vendor launched a new version of their system that needed a total reconfiguration and manual entry of all reservations. Many of those legacy PMSs also required a lot of training, which led to only a fraction of the functions being used after a while when the staff turnover had gone full circle."

2. Clunky Old Systems vs. Lack of Functions in New Systems

Many hotels operate on legacy systems that are deeply integrated into their operations. These systems, while outdated, are familiar to the staff and are perceived as reliable despite their inefficiencies. On the other hand, new systems may offer sleek interfaces and promise integrations but often lack critical functionalities specific to the hotel's unique needs. This creates a situation where neither the old nor the new systems provide a perfect solution, leading to frustration and reluctance to transition. In many cases, the vendor ceases to support an older version of their system and forces the hotel to upgrade or switch to a new system. Often, the new system lacks vital functions, but a hotel can always bridge the flaws by using Excel to solve these problems temporarily. I have been forced to use Excel for critical functions a new system could not provide.

3. Lack of Industry-Specific Knowledge

A common complaint among hoteliers is that technology vendors lack a deep understanding of the hospitality industry. As a result, the technologically advanced solutions do not align with the specific needs of hotels. Features developed might address general business needs but miss the nuances of hotel operations, such as multi-property functions, a well-thought-out rate structure, group management, complex booking requirements, and integration into distribution channels. This disconnect discourages hoteliers from adopting new technologies that do not precisely address their problems. The lack of industry knowledge is also a problem within the industry. How many hoteliers have detailed the guest journey and assessed all the steps to balance guest expectations and operational validity? A recent debate among hoteliers revolves around the use of technology in the check-in/check-out process. To design the guest journey effectively, it is necessary to incorporate technology to enhance the guest experience while maintaining human interaction in areas where it can make a significant difference.

4. Time and Resource Constraints

Implementing new technology is a significant undertaking that requires time, financial resources, and a shift in business processes. Many hoteliers operate with tight schedules and budgets, making it challenging to allocate the necessary resources for a large-scale tech implementation, even if it promises future benefits like revenue growth and higher profits. The immediate disruption and the long-term commitment required often serve as deterrents. The process of implementing a new system is a lengthy one that involves several steps. It all begins with identifying the problem that a new system will solve. Then, the specifications and use cases are documented, vendors are researched and met, a vendor is selected, a contract is negotiated, technical implementation is carried out, and the users are trained and coached. Planning is crucial for a successful implementation, but often, hoteliers don't have enough time to create a comprehensive plan.

5. Loss of Control and Transparency

New technologies have the potential to automate guest interactions and streamline operations, but some hoteliers may feel that digitizing processes means losing personal touch with their guests and employees. They may also worry that increased transparency can expose operational flaws or gaps in service that managers might prefer to address privately. These concerns can lead to a perceived loss of control over the business and may add to the resistance to adopting new technologies.

6. Complexity and Training Demands

New and advanced technology solutions can be difficult to learn. These systems are often complex and may overwhelm staff and guests, necessitating extensive training and adaptation. The need for training can result in additional costs and resistance from employees who are used to established workflows. Furthermore, if the technology is not user-friendly, it can result in low adoption rates and negative guest experiences. There seems to be a conflict between vendors, developers, and hoteliers. To understand the issue, look at Steve Jobs' philosophy of creating intuitive systems with limited unnecessary functions. This approach resonates with hotel guests and hoteliers. On the other hand, vendors follow Bill Gates' philosophy of building systems with all the functionality they can think of, even if nobody will ever use them. A good example is the check-in and check-out kiosks, which are too complex and time-consuming, making manual check-in and check-out faster and easier. Today, when the attention span is getting shorter and shorter, systems used by hotel guests and hoteliers must be extremely simple to use, especially since guests rarely use the system more than a couple of times, and a high turnover rate among hotel staff requires a fast onboarding.
By addressing these concerns directly and offering solutions tailored to the hospitality industry's specific needs, technology vendors can help bridge the gap between hoteliers' operational requirements and the benefits of modern tech solutions. This approach could mitigate hostility and improve the adoption rates of new technologies in the hotel sector.


Hoteliers' reluctance to adopt new technologies is rooted in legitimate concerns that stem from past experiences, operational challenges, and the complexity of integrating new systems. However, the evolving demands of the hospitality industry and the undeniable advantages of modern technology make it imperative for hoteliers to reconsider their stance on technology adoption. By addressing the specific needs and concerns of the industry, technology providers and hoteliers can work collaboratively to overcome barriers and leverage technology to enhance operational efficiency, guest satisfaction, and, ultimately, profitability.

Key Takeaways

  1. Build Trust Through Demonstrable Results: Hoteliers need assurances based on proven success, not just promises. Vendors should provide trial periods, case studies, and transparent communication to build confidence in their solutions.
  2. Demand Tailored Solutions: Technology must cater specifically to the needs of the hospitality industry. This includes customization options that align with hotel operations and address specific challenges unique to hotels.
  3. Plan for Gradual Implementation: Technology adoption should be implemented in phases with full support and adequate training to minimize disruption. This allows for smoother transitions and better integration into daily operations.
  4. Foster Collaboration Between Developers and Hoteliers: Continuous feedback loops and collaboration during product development can ensure that the technology serves its intended purpose effectively and meets the nuanced needs of hoteliers.
  5. Emphasize Simplicity and Usability: Systems should be intuitive and easy to use, requiring minimal training so that staff and guests can adapt quickly without frustration.
  6. Secure and Maintain Control: New technologies must enhance rather than diminish hoteliers' control over their operations. Ensuring data security and providing customizable features that allow hoteliers to retain significant oversight are essential functions in any hotel system.
By addressing the underlying causes of technological resistance within the hospitality industry, hoteliers and technology providers can forge a path toward successful technological integration. This improves the operational aspects of hotel management and enhances the overall guest experience, leading to sustained growth and profitability in a competitive market.