The beginning of a new year will undoubtedly see large numbers of accommodation providers of all shapes and sizes weigh their options in adopting new technologies to streamline operations and enhance guest experiences, but hesitancy over the unknown still remains.
Investing in new technology can feel like a leap of faith for many hoteliers. And, it can be difficult to make that leap if there’s a fear of the unknown. Additionally, investing in new tech can feel like a tall order. You need to make sure that your investment streamlines operations and/or drives revenue, ultimately delivering in a return on investment (ROI).
Beyond driving revenue and saving costs, the most successful tech investments happen when hoteliers are thinking creatively about what experience they want to create for the guests of tomorrow. Once you know your vision, you can easily go to any tech provider and ask: Can you help me get there? That’s when you reduce the emotions that come with a leap of faith to more of a matter-of-fact checklist.
But, you have to ask the right questions to answer as many of the unknowns as possible during the RFP process. The ultimate goal is making the best decision for your business—because it’s not always easy to revert once the implementation process starts. That’s why we’ve outlined the top five essential questions you need to ask a tech provider during a request for proposal (RFP).
How user friendly is it?
One of the critical components in hospitality today is recruitment. The industry has lost a lot of jobs, either through layoffs or people choosing to leave the industry. Recovering some of that expertise is going to be difficult. If you have to train a new user for weeks or months on how to use a piece of tech, you’ll lose even more valuable time. The system you choose needs to be easy to use so teams can get up and running quickly, which is absolutely critical for success in a transition period.
What additional systems do I need?
A single, homogeneous platform is much more powerful than a spaghetti code of disjointed tools and services that have little interoperability or optimized workflows. Why would you want 10 different tools if one tool can do all the things that you need? For instance, if your availability changes inside your traditional PMS, don’t you want all your channels to be updated in real time and without dependencies of different systems that may or may not talk well together? When all systems are on a single platform, the user experience is easier and operations become more streamlined.
How reliable is the technology infrastructure? – First, look for a tech solution that’s in the cloud, as it offers a better user experience, easier integrations and real-time feature updates. The truly innovative solutions will be built with an open architecture and as part of a single platform, giving operators the ability to scale up or down as needed. The tech’s infrastructure should work for you and allow flexibility, with the option to plug in systems and solutions based on your needs.
What’s the onboarding process, and how will I be supported? – You want to know that the tech provider you’re vetting will have your back and will have an open-door communication policy. Ask for feedback from other users and customers for verified insights. And, look for a true partner who will support you, be a consultant, and who will help you to navigate the tool and explore the depths of the functionality in a way that your entire team will understand. Additionally, a great tech partner will always be open to making your experience better. Be sure to ask how the provider collects and acts on your feedback.
What is your roadmap for innovation? – Hotel tech is not static; it’s constantly evolving—and the lodging industry is going through more changes than ever before. You need to look for a partner who has a good product today but who is also committed to pushing the product forward through innovation. It’s not just about how your tech partner can help you now, but how are they a leader in driving the entire industry forward so that you can be sure you’re future-proofing your business?
Look for the leaders – As you look to invest in new tech, be sure to look for solutions that advance simplification and automation. The problems the lodging industry is experiencing today—such as the labour shortage and unpredictable demand—are going to continue to be headwinds as the pandemic continues and travel recovery begins. The tech you invest in needs to work for you and make your job easier, first and foremost.
But, beyond that, you need to partner with a tech provider that isn’t afraid to think outside the box. The best and brightest will make your life easier today but work to stay ahead of tomorrow, solving for the issues you can’t see yet.
Look for the leaders, the ones who never stop innovating.
Sebastien Leitner is Vice President- Partnerships at an independent hospitality software developer Cloudbeds.