G6 Hospitality has been rooted in the economy segment for 55 years, but the company’s tech-focused strategy looks toward the future. G6 Hospitality is in the midst of rolling out several technology-focused initiatives to give its properties a competitive edge and secure its brands—Motel 6 and Studio 6—as leaders in the segment for years to come. From the company’s standpoint, recent advances in technology provide cost-effective opportunities to streamline operations, improve efficiency, and enhance the overall guest experience. Jessie Burgess, executive vice president and chief information officer at G6 Hospitality, spoke with LODGING about the company’s focus on tech, and how G6 Hospitality is positioning itself to rollout the technology of the future.
What’s new and emerging at G6 Hospitality?
A major initiative we have going on here at G6 is called our IT 2.0 program, which is really a complete change in our overall IT philosophy. We’re evolving our IT systems, our support structure, and our processes to support the rapidly evolving business environment, especially in the hospitality industry. We have a few underlying objectives for our 2.0 effort. Number one is to be cloud-first. That means we making it a priority to be cloud-enabled in everything we do. Second is to reduce our technical debt. When we are operating, we want to increase our level of flexibility as we move into the future and the things that we can do to support the business. As demands arise, we want to be able to respond faster. And lastly, we want to improve our scalability and extensibility. Any platform we deploy, we not only want to meet the initial objectives—we want to make sure that we are capable of using the platform as the business extends to new needs and new requirements.
How do you plan to implement new technologies across the brand?
We absolutely want to take full advantage of what the cloud has to offer. That’s why it’s the first thing we name in our IT 2.0 program. We’re at the point now where the environment has evolved to where it changes the playing field and the toolset that you have at your disposal to run your IT organization and support the overall business. The cloud really allows you to operate in a way that you wouldn’t have been able to afford in the past. Before, it would have been very difficult for an organization to build a program like this, considering the levels of redundancy, security, and availability of tools. The cloud is really a foundational point for my IT organization and how we’re going to be able to do more for the business as we move forward.
How has the rollout of HotelKey been progressing?
We’re over halfway done with the HotelKey rollout and on track to finish all 1,400 hotels by the end of August. What has helped the rollout go well is that we started off this project by listening to our franchise owners and operators and what they wanted to see in the next generation of our property management system. We took that input and we were able to overlay those requirements and those desires with the cloud capabilities. HotelKey is an app that is operated on off-the-shelf tablets, which is a key for rolling out new tools quickly to our owners and operators. We’re looking forward to finishing that up on time this year.
How is G6 redefining the economy segment with new technology?
We feel that taking advantage of technology to run our business is necessary to continue to play a dominant position in the economy segment. HotelKey is a great example. Being able to deliver a platform that is easier to use for our front desk staff allows our front desk staff to interact better with our guests. That’s a core piece of the economy segment. We feel that technology in that case helps us be who we are, but even better. When you think about our presence in the digital space—with a world-class website and mobile app, and our interoperability and connectivity to OTAs and other booking channels—these are things where technology helps us be even better at what we do. Another example is our new call center application that is on track for development. The application will give our call center agents faster access to the right information so they can serve our guests more efficiently when they’re booking via the phone, and be more personable. Some of the other things that we’ve worked on are our revenue and rate management optimization platform. These are all things that help solidify our position in the economy segment.
What’s your outlook on the economy segment?
The consumer is now at the leading edge of technology. The consumer is using more advanced technology every day that is highly integrated into their lifestyle. What we’re going to have to do in our business is pay attention and listen to that consumer, understand that their needs will evolve, and that they will evolve quickly and on faster cycles. In order to stay competitive, we will have to make sure that we know and understand our strengths, and how we can enhance those strengths with the available technology.
What challenges do you expect to face in the coming years?
The biggest challenge will be deploying the right technology at the right time. With so much technology emerging, there are a lot of opportunities for guesswork and a lot of opportunities for missed guesses. In addition, we want to make sure that we are not locked in with any technology to the point where it becomes outdated and inefficient, and we can’t move. That’s going to be a big challenge. With all the technology out there, there are opportunities for missteps so it’s important to be really thoughtful and make sure that you have a structure that allows you to be agile.