Connectivity Fatigue | PhocusWire
 

Connectivity Fatigue

The unspoken challenge that’s crippling hotel technology innovation

William C. Brown, an electrical engineer who pioneered microwave power transmission in the 1960s, once said:

"We all live in a small unique world, that's why we need at least one sole common language."

For many years, that small unique world for me has been the multi-billion dollar hotel technology industry.

And, while its members have come from all walks of life – some, developers and innovators; others, hoteliers, entrepreneurs and business analysts – for the most part, we have been joined by one common vision and that is to make our industry one that provides a means for every member to succeed.

If I had to think of one thing that holds us back, I would say it is not creativity, a progressive mind or an entrepreneurial spirit, nor is it a willingness to collaborate.

It is perhaps the absence of a sole common language – a fundamental link to literally unify us.

When can we connect?

In an age where information from a mobile phone can be delivered within seconds to the other side of the world, it shouldn’t be so hard for technology experts to make their system work with others. Technology, after all, is what they do best.

But such is the reality for providers of hotel systems and applications, who’ve spent years perfecting their own product but lack the time and resources to make that product accessible to the masses.

It’s almost as though the concepts of instant data transfers and globalisation apply to every industry but hotels, which has long suffered from a fragmentation that has hindered technological innovation – or simply technological adoption, for that matter – in spite of housing some of the most valuable consumer data on the planet.

Today, the biggest constraint for providers of hotel management systems (more commonly known as property management systems or simply PMSs) is time – specifically, time spent on making their product work with others rather than time spent on the product, itself.

As Mats Persson, director of one leading provider, Sirvoy, says:

"We like to focus on what we're good at, and we're good at providing our customers with a first-rate, innovative PMS solution. Time spent developing connections and integrations with other software means less productivity in the more crucial areas of internal development."

For others who have focused their efforts on product enhancements, the choice has come at the cost of falling behind the competition and becoming irrelevant in a hyperconnected world.

But it’s a sacrifice many PMS providers have had to make, as investing time and resources into both their product and connectivity is no longer a viable option if they want to scale.

This challenge felt by PMS providers has created ripple effects for developers of new hotel applications which have emerged for hotels to navigate an increasingly-consumer-led world.

Today these hotel applications encompass everything from guest engagement and feedback tools, to up-selling platforms and revenue management systems – and they are the end recipients or "subscribers" of the information that is housed within and made available by every PMS or data "publisher".

In an ideal world, Duane Hepditch, the founder of hotel guest engagement and marketing platform Guestfolio, says in order for hotel applications such as his to benefit from data, PMS providers would need only “publish once, rather than re-configuring all of their various feeds”.

But with PMS providers unable to connect their system with others, that ideal world seems generations away for developers of applications who, too, are consequently faced with the impossible task of choosing between innovating on their own product or building a much-needed bridge between their product and others.

Unexpectedly sideswiped

It’s a situation neither PMS nor application providers were privy to when they began their entrepreneurial business.

Hepditch recalls:

"When I founded Guestfolio ten years ago, I wanted to be in the business of developing solutions to make a guest stay more enjoyable and I wanted to solve the operational problems the hotels were experiencing. To do this, we needed real-time data. We could have brought way more features to market quickly if we didn’t have to build out unique integrations to the various vendors in the marketplace. Half of my development team were managing the sourcing and transfer of data rather than having the time to better interpret data for our customers. We could have serviced our customers better by finding opportunities in their data rather than finding the data."

Erik Tengen, the co-founder of Oaky, an upselling platform for hotels to enhance the guest experience, shares a similar story.

"The connectivity problem, we didn’t really realise. We were total newbs, but it worked out!" laughs Tengen, as he thinks back to the days when the pain had became too real to ignore.

"I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so there was a lot of preparation for every part of the business but in regards to that aspect there was very little. We learnt about it the hard way. We started saying ‘wow, we signed a hotel here and there, let’s make sure we can integrate’. Then we spent so much time on it, we quickly realised we’re not innovating on our own solution anymore. What are we doing wrong? We’re spending all our time on integrations. We need to find a solution for this."

And, therein lays the problem. From where will this solution come if everyone is fatigued and crippled by the same connectivity challenge?

Additionally, can a single, objective solution really exist in an industry that also suffers from rapid market consolidation?

Amid the connectivity issue, the face of hotel technology has changed continually in recent decades with mergers and acquisitions that have seen the bigger get bigger and newer entrants struggle to gain market share. It’s as though the independent voice for hotels has become indistinguishable, if not obsolete.

The consolidation has meant even smaller players today are often governed by a higher calling – a drive to simply make profit rather than solve a problem that plagues the industry at large.

PMS and application providers have grown weary, helplessly seeking an independent solution that will one day allow them to get back to what they do best, and all the while protect the hotel data they’ve been entrusted with.

It’s about time


HTNG and Hotel Tech Report say:

"Historically, purveyors of closed software architectures were sensitive to disruption, leaving the majority of the industry today vulnerable”.

At SiteMinder, we believe it’s time this era of vulnerability for hotel technology providers comes to an end.

So, that’s exactly what we’ve made sure of.

As we get set to make our latest groundbreaking announcement, I invite you to be a part of the conversation this month as I am joined by an esteemed panel of experts to talk innovation and the connectivity fatigue none of them were prepared for when they began their business.

Joining me on the panel are:

  • Charles Deyo, President and Founder, Cendyn
  • Erik Tengen, CEO and Co-Founder, Oaky
  • Jason Pinto, Co-Founder, Pace
  • Mark Houser, CTO, Autoclerk.

Details:

  • Date: Tuesday, 19 June 2018
  • Time: 3.00pm - 3.45pm CDT
  • Moderator: PhocusWire’s own Mitra Sorrells

To reserve your spot at HITEC, tune in for the live stream or receive a recording, please sign up here.