On the second day of HITEC Dallas 2021 at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, LODGING had a conversation with business intelligence services provider ProfitSword CEO Robert Ryan and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Paul Bennie about their outlook from the conference, changes in data sharing, and the importance of technology integration for the hospitality industry.
The overall sentiment at this year’s HITEC is moving hoteliers into the next chapter following the pandemic. What is the outlook that you have seen from your clients?
Bennie: We are seeing our clients already budgeting for 2022 and forecasting for the rest of the year. This year has still been a struggle—and a lot of that has to do with supply bottlenecks and COVID—but as we come into March 2022, we’ll see an uptick in demand and occupancy. What’s most important right now is that there is finally stability in occupancy and demand; it’s not back to 2019 or 2018 levels yet, but the stability of demand coming back is a positive sign and it’s going to help the industry turn a corner.
Has the labor shortage affected ProfitSword’s operations in any way?
Bennie: From a ProfitSword standpoint, it hasn’t affected us directly; we have actually grown our staff and added more individuals to help us continue to grow. But of course, it has affected our clients directly.
Ryan: It’s interesting because our clients have been forced to do more with less. That positions us as their partner to help them continue doing more instead of scaling back their teams too quickly or at all until they scale back their business. The silver lining to the labor shortage is that it has highlighted some of the inefficiencies that we’ve been able to shed light on through our platform.
What are you sharing about ProfitSword at HITEC?
Bennie: We’ve noticed that there is a need driven by the labor shortage to find a new way to be more efficient by using technology. Our clients need to not just have data but to use the data to start helping them make decisions and being more proactive with their direction. And our direction is we’re starting to take this data, turn it into useful bits of information, and give them insights into how well their property is doing. Then, they’re operating based on that benchmark.
Ryan: Shifting from descriptive to prescriptive is extremely important. Some of our new developments are at the forefront of helping our clients run a better, more healthy business.
Do you see that shift from descriptive to prescriptive being a permanent fixture going forward?
Bennie: The demand is there. People are asking for it even though they may not necessarily know exactly what to ask for. So, it’s up to us to create design and give it to our clients. That’s the direction we’re heading in right now: helping our clients manage and giving them exactly what they need to be successful.
Most of the buzz at the show is about automation leading the future of hospitality. Does ProfitSword also see that trend?
Ryan: Definitely. We have integrated with over 200 different partners and different data systems, and what we are seeing is a strong demand for not only making those as fully automated as possible but to expand the scope to other areas and other types of operational data that we haven’t necessarily been working with. Over the past four months, we’ve been taking client data and coupling it with more of the operational side. It’s created some fun marketing, and it’s exciting because we’re going in many different directions.
The hospitality industry is occasionally slow to adopt some technologies. Have you noticed any changes in the way vendors are embracing using data and sharing that with clients?
Bennie: All vendors have been affected during COVID, and at HITEC, I’ve noticed that everybody is rethinking how to go to market, add value to a solution, sell products more.
Vendors have been talking to us about not just integration, but taking our relationship to a new level, creating a value that maybe wasn’t there before. People are expanding on not just the data sharing, but how products integrate. That’s new: Seven years ago, people were hardly even sharing their data. Now, they want to go to market together. What used to be a differentiator has now become a survival tactic. It’s been interesting to see.