Why Hotel Technology Investments Today Pays Guest Dividends Tomorrow

Investing in new hotel technology can be a daunting task; however, there has never been a better time to invest in new technology. Guests now demand a “home from home” hotel experience including the technology they use at home like smart TVs and strong Wi-Fi. They also want the choice and convenience that hotel technology brings such as automated check-ins and contactless payments. With the rise of generative AI and the increasing use of IoT devices, investment and upgrades in new hotel technology are now a must. 

According to a Travel Technology Trends survey, top hospitality leaders aim to boost their technology spend by 16% over the next year. In fact, one fifth of them plan to invest 20% more than the previous year. The message is clear: if you don’t invest in hotel technology your property will be left behind.

In the past, property owners have been reluctant to upgrade simply because a mish-mash of different solutions can cause problems; if one system needs an upgrade, it requires unexpected upgrades to others because of integration issues, and costs can easily snowball. Many hoteliers work under the constraints of brand parameters meaning the range of products and vendors can be restrictive. Fortunately, many brands are now remedying this by expanding the choice of hardware brands and products that are compliant to standards and more affordable.

If you’re looking to invest in hotel technology, here are five factors to help you get the most from your investment.

1 Embrace Innovation

Lower budget does not have to mean lower tech. Look for vendors with the ability, motivation and capability to add new products and solutions to their portfolio. Bigger isn’t always better. Surprisingly, some of the well-known, entrenched vendors are slowest to update because their size and market presence makes them think they can set the pace of innovation. But that can keep hoteliers stuck with old technology. Instead, be sure the vendor you choose has a willingness to adapt and modernize as evidenced by a history of innovation and a robust product roadmap. Lastly, supply chain delays are still a concern, so keep this in mind when discussing available/in-stock inventory and timelines for delivery and installation. 

2 Integrated Solutions

These days, guests expect a wide range of hotel technology, like TV casting, check-in kiosks, mobile services and  digital in-room assistant. You need infrastructure that’s compatible with these options, allowing you to expand services without adding complexity. One option is to consolidate technology that used to be separate, siloed systems onto a single solution platform to simplify management and lower overhead costs. With fewer licenses and service agreements to manage, an integrated approach, which combines Wi-Fi delivery, bandwidth management, and security/compliance, could prove invaluable as a hotel technology solution. It can also provide you with key insights into guest behavior. 

3 Local or National partner

For a single hotel, local partners are often a better option when it comes to service. For example, if you’re entrenched with a big name provider but located in a rural area and something goes wrong, prepare to wait. Tech support can only do so much through remote access – and that’s assuming they can remotely access your systems to begin with. Otherwise, you could wait days for support staff to make their way to your property for service; especially for select service properties that are very often DIY when it comes to technology, having a local partner is invaluable. However, the opposite may be true when working across numerous properties in different locations. The bottom line – choose a partner you trust who can source compliant solutions that are a just-right fit for your needs and your budget.

4 Fallback Plan 

Some hoteliers may worry that consolidated solutions could introduce the risk of a single-point failure that brings down the whole system. But having a variety of solutions isn’t foolproof either. Outages happen. It can be a fault inside the property, or a car hitting a pole down the street that knocks out your incoming ISP service. Regardless of whether you’re running a piecemeal or a single-vendor solution, you should always ensure you and the vendor have contingency plans in place. Sometimes those plans cost extra – like paying for backup 4G service, for example. But the overall savings from an integrated solution can more than make up for it. 

5 The Right Sized Security

Some hotel brands have security requirements that many hoteliers assume require expensive, big-brand-name enterprise security solutions. But these can be expensive and overly complex for select service properties. You may not need such complicated protection. Instead, a rules-based firewall can be a just-right fit. These offer protection for administrative solutions that’s compliant with brand standards by segregating operational technology from guest access, providing a more conservative and affordable security solution where it’s needed most. 

Guests now expect the technology in hotels to meet the same high standards as they receive at home. And that’s why the hotel technology market is rapidly growing. Most connectivity solutions need an overhaul every three years, but many hoteliers wait until it’s critical and that puts them at a disadvantage. Existing solutions may no longer be up to the job and there are products now available that can exceed standards and expectations without hefty price tags.

If it’s time for an upgrade then shop around. You may find that brand standards give more flexibility than you realize. It’s also worth the time to keep an eye on trends and investigate different solutions. By doing so, you can expect increased operational efficiency and better guest experiences. In short, technology investment today reaps guest dividends in the future.

If you want to find out how hotel technology can help you, reach out here to us.

Mike Gray is Global Vice President – Strategic Partnerships at Nomadix,  and is recognized as a global technology leader in the AHLA Global Technology 100 (T100). 

This article originally appeared in Today’s Hotelier.