Talking Tech: Why Implementing Technology in Hotels Requires a Personal Relationship

guest checking in at a hotel front desk using a tablet with help from associate

Hoteliers across all markets and property classes have worked over the past several years to introduce new technologies to address the changing wants and needs of their customers. Implementing new technologies at the property level can be expensive, and making sure it all goes off without a hitch can be a delicate balancing act.

Hotel companies owe much of their success to franchisees, and investments in technology can be a huge benefit to franchise operations and profitability. Franchisees do not benefit from business interruptions, especially if they result from the rollout of new technology. Initial friction with a new tool can be detrimental to its implementation in the long run, and therefore it should be minimized, or eliminated at best. In order to achieve this, an open chain of communication must be maintained between a hotel’s operations, its marketing, and ownership teams, as well as any support staff responsible for helping hoteliers as they adapt to new implementations.

The right technology can provide great upside to franchisees, particularly when operators understand the why behind a new implementation. For example, contactless check-in solves needs for both hotel guests and operators by giving travelers more control over their hotel experience, while cutting down on the number of necessary interactions at the front desk. However, a half-hearted implementation of contactless technology and practices can reduce efficiency, frustrate guests, and divert unnecessary traffic to the front desk.

This can happen if operators cannot find use for a new tool, or they believe a new implementation is disrupting their processes. The best remedy for this situation is clear communication between franchisees and franchisors before, during, and after new technology is rolled out. If franchisees understand exactly which implementations are critical and how they can be managed, they can be prepared to adapt as guest preferences bend toward digital interactions and contactless interactions evolve.

Not too long ago, self check-in was considered a threat to the core hotel experience. Today, however, this technology is gaining traction, including with several big brands. Shifts in the way the public prefers to interact on property, spurred by the onset of a global pandemic, have made alternatives to the traditional check-in experience more common across the industry. This tool also benefits hotels’ bottom line because it diverts some of the workload from the front desk so fewer employees are required.

There will be a great emphasis on technology that fulfills guest needs while providing operational support throughout the next business cycle. This presents an opportunity for hotels to develop new operating models that will benefit their bottom line. New technology should not be used to automate yesterday’s processes. When looking to the future, it is important to consider what makes an investment in technology successful in hospitality. By being open to new processes and vocal with requests for support, franchisees can use technology to improve operations and profitability.

The overriding goal of hotel technology remains unchanged: to allow guests to decide the best way to book, save them time and effort, and allow them to decide what the key features of their hotel stay should be. The future of guest satisfaction turns on digital connectivity between travelers and hotels, as well as greater precision and flexibility when delivering rates. The hotel is responsible for offering the tools to make this connectivity a reality. Franchisees are responsible for implementing, and providing feedback to help solutions evolve.

All of this begins with a dialogue, one where both owners and hotel companies are encouraged to have a free and open dialogue, challenge each other and arrive at the optimum solutions. So, let’s talk.


Sponsored by Red Roof 

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Ted Hutchins is chief information officer for Red Roof.