Brad’s Laws for Good Hotel IT Products

I’m going to start with a caveat:
An old, jaded and cynical hospitality software developer wrote this post.

I think in terms of return on investment. If you think that hotels are gilded palaces to guest experience, then this post is not for you.

You are cordially invited to stop reading now.

Still here? Okay. Good.

Here is the underlying premise to Brad’s Unwritten but Logical Laws for Successful Hotel IT: Hotels are businesses.

They exist for the sole purpose of making money for their owners. Period. The End.

If you think differently, then this post is not for you and you are once again cordially invited to stop reading.

Still here? Wonderful.

You are hearty stock and shall be rewarded generously with the following knowledge. Here are the laws.

In order to be a successful hotel product your goods or services must:

  1. Increase the number of paying guests that walk through the front door, or
  2. Extract more revenue from guests who have already walked through the front door, or
  3. The third, but minor, rule says that if your product can create efficiency sufficient to generate ROI within a reasonable time frame, then that’s okay too.

Can’t do one of these three things?

Then in my opinion, perhaps you do not have a viable hotel product.

I can hear you out there whining already…but Brad, what about “improving guest experience”?

Are you one of the 0.5 percent of high-end properties that is picked solely on the basis of amenities?

Okay, then you — and you alone — are allowed to go out and spend $1,000 on a gold plated, self-warming, fully automated, hypoallergenic, nanotechnology enabled toilet seat.

Everybody else?

Make sure your properties are clean and well kept, and that your staff are courteous and professional. If you had great, free and seriously high bandwidth Wi-fi that would be fine too…but I stray.

What does this rant have to do with HITEC you may ask?

Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve scoured the aisles, patrolled the 10 x 10’s and perused the presentations. I found three of what I’m sure is a long list exhibitors that satisfy at least one of Brad’s laws.

For the record, I am not endorsing — nor am I recommending these companies, products or services.

My only interest in any of these folks is that they have shown me something that interests me personally, and that meets one of my criteria for a successful product. Your mileage may vary.

First up The company with the name I completely do not understand, fits into category one.

Nor1 has found money where previously there was intuitive opportunity, but not a lot of science. Specifically, the company is working to exploit the period between purchase and arrival.

I confess that I don’t fully understand it, but trust me when I tell you it IS science.

Nor1 data reportedly demonstrates that if you get your timing and product offering right, guests will view their initial purchase as a single transaction, and any subsequent up-sell as a separate, distinct transaction.

The second wallet, they call it.

Powerful stuff because the customer will view this new, second buying opportunity within the context of a new buying decision and with fresh perspective. Nor1 asserts that turning up-sell into a second decision increases the amount of revenue that can be derived from up-sell opportunities.

Nor1 is also helping its customers find money in selling intangible amenities that historically would be called special requests. Hoteliers that have rooms with distinction (i.e. high floor or great canyon views) can use Nor1 to help monetize those distinctive features in new ways.

These next two groups fall into category two. They’re working to help hoteliers extract more revenue from each guest already in-house.

I found this next unlikely pairing on the press tour of the new GUESTROOM 20X.

Almost overlooked in and amongst the admittedly cool voice activated televisions and moving murals was a little white box from Cisco Systems.

We’ve all seen ‘em — they’re the Wireless Access Points that enable Wi-Fi in our everyday world.

Well, it turns out that little white box, with a bunch of its cousins in specifically design network architectures coupled with Cisco’s Mobility Services Engine opens up all manner of possibilities for guest location services and messaging.

Cisco has teamed up with a small company named Meridian to be a gateway and enabling tier for delivery of new branded and generic apps.

These apps can help managers use opt-in geo fencing and location services to assist in measuring and determining guest intent, and then deliver timely and geographically relevant marketing messages.

These messages can alert the guest to opportunities in and around their immediate area.

I brought up the possibility that this new technology could be used to do something “creepy” and was assured that this is a matter of great concern for both Cisco and Meridian. They are thinking and working hard to make sure that guests get the information and opportunities they want without incurring Orwellian style overlord monitoring.

What’s old is new in mobility

My next find comes courtesy of Thursday’s super session on Mobility.

One of the presenters came from SkyWire Media, a company using Short Message Service (SMS), or text messaging to enable some new revenue-generating behavior.

One example presented was that often, early arrivals find their room not ready. Rather than sit in the lobby for a few hours until check-in, these patrons will wander off in search of other fun things to do. Using integrated text messaging from SkyWire, hoteliers can suggest revenue generating on property instead.

Sounds simple, but the company also has the unique capability to track fulfillment and redemption of offers, enabling comprehensive reporting and re-marketing based on past behavior.

I questioned SkyWire about their use of SMS; isn’t texting so last year? According to the company, that’s actually a huge benefit.

Because SMS is a more mature technology, nearly every patron carries a device that can get the word.

Think about it.

Texting works if you have a five year old flip phone or the latest smartphone.

Texting works almost anywhere, any time, irrespective of Wi-Fi availability and signal strength.

Finally, if a guest is in the one square inch of the world without cell coverage, when they walk back into range, text messages are queued up waiting for them.

In short, texting is the primordial amoeba of message delivery, and while it may be mature technology, SkyWire has made SMS sexy again.

I’m sure that there were a bunch of other exhibitors whose products fit my personal criteria for successful endeavors.

If I didn’t speak to you, I apologize!

HITEC was a big show this year, and I think there was at least one whole aisle I didn’t get to in the short time I had available.

I encourage each of you to break out the HITEC Buyer’s Guide to review exhibitors, even now that the show is over.

Review them.

Brad More

Find those nuggets that fit your own criteria for success, and give ‘em a call.

Brad More is a former Naval Aviator who stumbled into hospitality technology and found a home. He is co-founder and president of Atri Leo, a new company focused on the practical application of technology to hospitality. Follow Brad on Twitter @brmore or e-mail him for more information.

The content published in this section was provided by HITEC Guest Bloggers.  The information is the view/opinions of the Guest Bloggers and not of HFTP, nor of any person or organization affiliated or doing business with HFTP.

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