As a hospitality and tech enthusiast, to my dear friends and family there was nothing more logic than me switching sides and landing in this industry: the hoteltech. This rapidly evolving part of the hospitality industry always had my interest since it is driven by innovation and data. New initiatives, disruptors and challengers draw my attention as hotelier. In this column, Ask Mark, I will share my point of view from both perspectives, these being the old hotelier and the new techie. The subjects of each column will be based on topics I discus in the field.
This month topic: “Are you up for it!”
Do you know the feeling? You have a problem, you see a solution, you want it. It is right there, underneath your fingertips. But, although it seems close, the lack of time and/ or resources ensures it is still out of your reach.
I notice this a lot within the hotel industry regarding new system implementations. And trust me, I know, system implementations can be a hassle. I did a few myself back in my hotelier days. And despite all the efforts of the vendor it always takes an organization somewhat (or a great deal) out of the regular rhythm. But then again, if there are problems within the rhythm, shouldn’t we speed the beat a little?
Often new systems change work processes and effect the way people work. A frequently heard comment is: “but we have always done it this way” or “can we create a button over there cause the current system has it as well and it very convenient”.
Why is adopting new systems seen as a complex and time-consuming issue?
You might think that current generations are used to change, especially when it concerns new technologies. Since 2010 we all adopted the smartphone as our live line. We accept new apps in such rapid pace without even considering that we are changing the way we work or live. When I ask hoteliers if they would prefer to go back to the old days when reservations were kept in a reservations book, they always scream no and even consider me nuts. But then why doesn’t this answer change when their current operational system has an error or down time.
So, considering all this I can only ask myself the question ‘Why’? Why is it that we see adopting new systems in our company as a complex and time-consuming issue? I mean we are used to tech changes and have an easy adopting when it comes to new apps. Is it bad implantation process causing the resistance? Is it fear of change? Or should we look for the responsibility at the hospitality tech-companies? Do they make their systems to complex or simply see onboarding as necessary evil without giving it the attention it deserves?
Is this the future of our market?
In my current company we are adopting new systems quite rapidly, without too much resistance. And I know, since we still are a relatively young and agile company it might seem easier. We don’t have the large teams or detailed worked out processes. Anyhow, in many cases these new systems, like Scrum mate, Slack and Hubspot, fill in a blank or replace manual labor. Those implementations go online, through self-onboarding without many sessions and even without any direct contact with these companies. Is this perhaps the future of our market?
As described in the book of Ed Catmull (Creativity, Inc – the Pixar story): “As we try to learn from the past, we form patterns of thinking based on our experiences, not realizing that the things that happened have an unfair advantage over the things that didn’t. In other words, we can’t see the alternatives that might well have happened if not for some small chance event.” This combined with the mantra described in my previous blog: that “the human factor and tailor-made work makes the difference” can very well be the justification of why we feel it is hard to change within hospitality.
It is a fact that adopting new technologies goes beyond our short-term goals and past our rapidly evolving consumer live styles. Within the hospitality industry, the most difficult resource to find is time, especially for implementing these types of technologies. Leaving out the fact that one must first also find the motivation to innovate and implement. Each day I talk to more and more entrepreneurs taking on these challenges, and it really excites me. We, the HotelTech community, feel the responsibility to build solutions worth investing your time in. And we are trying to support each other in doing so. Hopefully we can keep this spirit alive and prevent it to fall into the same inside focus as some of the ‘dinosaur’ vendors of the industry did. But the main question remains: Are you up for it?