As we lead up to HITEC 2012 in June, HFTP Connect will be talking to various hospitality professionals about hospitality technology through the Ask the Experts column.
A Distribution Professional’s View on Hospitality Technology
Valyn Perini is an experienced travel professional with more than 15 years in hospitality and travel operations, sales and marketing, systems, consulting and software development. As CEO of OpenTravel, Perini oversees the operations of the organization, including developing and executing strategies to reach the goal of standardizing electronic distribution of traveler information in the travel industry. She is a member of the HITEC Advisory Council.
How is your specialty changing? How will it evolve over the next two-five years?
My specialty is distribution, and it’s hard to quantify all the changes going on right now. The pace of change is just breathtaking — for guests and hoteliers.
The industry has evolved from the GDS being the primary electronic channel of distribution to the incredible proliferation of channels and business models.
In the next two years (who knows what distribution will look like in five years?), we’ll continue to have the discussion of mobile sites vs. apps, and sites like Room77, hoteltonight.com and other niche hospitality distribution sites will either take hold or fail, depending on the market.
What kind of guest technology thrills you when you encounter it at a hotel or resort?
I like a really nice sound system that I can plug my MP3 player into.
Hotels spend so much money and effort on televisions and almost no thought on an audio system; not everyone watches TV.
Some of the newer televisions have audio input but they’re not always easy to find, and to use them, you have to have your own cord – hardly guest-friendly.
I’ve seen some very nice small stereos that have a docking station or built-in cable to connect to an MP3 device in some hotels; I wish other hotels would follow suit.
Since you’ve been in the industry, which technology do you think has changed hospitality the most?
The cost of technology — not any single technology — has had the most significant impact on the industry.
Technology and development is getting less and less expensive, leading to innovation in technology development and the proliferation of technology in what was historically a manually-driven industry.
A really good recent example is the move toward cloud computing. This is only possible because the decreasing cost of storage and the increasing robustness of connectivity makes cloud-based applications affordable, even for the smallest hospitality operation.
What is your favorite hospitality-related mobile app that you use?
I must confess: I don’t use any hospitality-specific apps because I don’t find them useful enough yet.
What I do find useful when I’m traveling are restaurant and activity-related sites, to help me find things to do in-trip (as opposed to pre-trip).
Hospitality companies would do well to ensure they’ve tagged their publicly-available activities, outlets and other amenities so they are ‘findable’ by mapping sites and search engines.
This will allow travelers to find the property while in-trip, generating additional non-guest revenue.