Ask the Experts: Bob Bennett

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Bob Bennett is president of Starr Technology Consulting. He is the 2000 inductee into the HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame and is a member of the HITEC Advisory Council.

What’s the best way to establish and maintain a relationship with a vendor/service provider?

Work with the vendor to improve their product by offering up suggestions and also providing some design specifics without charge. Be willing to test new releases. In return, you will often get your priorities addressed first.

Also, be a good reference for the vendor. If you can’t honestly give a favorable reference, tell the vendor why and give them an opportunity to rectify the issue.

Have you been a user of SaaS/Cloud Computing? What has been your experience?

  • SaaS/Cloud Computing can lower the cost of property technology. With a PMS, for example, a server can be eliminated and the workstations can be entry-level models.
  • Web-based applications usually are very intuitive to use and offer online training. Again, this can eliminate the need for onsite trainers, which is very expensive.
  • Applications delivered over the Internet do not necessarily need expensive high bandwidth connections. So, a PMS can operate very well over a satellite or DSL connection for small and mid-size properties.
  • Centrally hosted applications should only be used if they operate in a world-class data center. The downside of a poorly managed data center is that an entire chain can be impacted by downtime, not just a single property.

Name three areas within hospitality technology that are evolving the most?

  1. Mobile Apps — Mobile applications are at the point that they can perform all the functions of a desktop Internet session or a call center exchange.
  2. Guestroom Technology — The upgrading of guestroom technology to provide more choices for entertainment and connectivity is still big. Hotel rooms must once again catch up to the technology in a typical home and then try to add unique services beyond what is expected.
  3. Cloud Computing — We are seeing a migration of hospitality applications to cloud-based services. Today the hotel operator has at least a few options in every application category and many more will be forthcoming.

Since you’ve been in the industry, which technology do you think has changed hospitality the most?

This would certainly have to be the Internet. It has impacted the industry in at least three important ways:

  1. The transparency of pricing and the ability for the customer to very quickly and easily shop all options. This is one reason that ADR has not risen faster.
  2. The ability for a brand or a property to have a direct individual relationship with a customer through e-mail, web sites and social networks.
  3. The decrease in technology complexity and cost at the property through the use of cloud-based applications.

This Ask the Experts column was featured in the February issue of the HITEC News Flash.

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