Written by: Carl Weldon
It was a pleasure to host the more than 30 HFTP members and delegates who attended the HFTP Members’ Interest meeting at the superb Rosewood Hotel in London last week. While scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m., it was a good sign when the attendees arrived early and stayed late.
The programme looked like this:
I presented an introduction on behalf of HFTP and HITEC. Following this introduction, Mark Pitcher of smashthebox.com spoke for 10 minutes of the journey through life — and he asked our attendees the question, “What are you passionate about?” rather than “What do you do?”
Sarah Duignan, director of client relationships of STR Global proceeded with a lively review of worldwide, European and U.K. performance statistics and market trends for 2018 — including the upcoming hotel pipeline coming into a London market with 1,606 hotels and 140,305 rooms already available every night.
There are another 387 hotels planned with 35,639 rooms in the works. Duignan also gave an overview of the new benchmarking tool Forward STR which will benchmark future bookings (or pace report, as some hotels call it).
Andrew Evans, CEO of event sponsor Keystep Solutions, led a session titled, “What Roadmap?” He proceeded to answer thought-provoking questions like, “Where are the multitude of new ideas and technologies taking hospitality?” and, “Are they helping or just overwhelming IT departments with more projects to deliver?”
Evans also reviewed technology usage in the wider consumer market today, outlining how all that is promised is not necessarily delivered — and how frustrating it can be to make it all work together. This translates itself into today’s IT infrastructure issues in hospitality. “Throughput of information renders centralized decision-making inefficient,” he noted. “The system — in this case, a company — adapts by fragmenting its structure and changing the balance between responsibility and accountability of its people.”
The six technology trends and challenges for hospitality companies identified by Evans during his session included: mobile ubiquity, integrating mobile data, enabling guestroom technology, future-proofing networks, beefing up security and energy conservation.
This all creates a serious challenge, not just for the IT manager but also the hotel operator, who is also grappling with Capex and cost issues. Door locking is a good example, where operators leave it to the last moment to upgrade to a decent, modern system — an area of security and technology where Evans is always able to step in and help.
To conclude the meeting, Adam Blake, CEO of event co-sponsor ThreatSpike Labs 9 with Transputec explored “InfoSec in a Hospitality Environment!” In this session, Blake encouraged attendees to view data security with a fresh pair of eyes and experience threat-hunting as they had never seen before. He presented the security challenges in business that we must be aware of today in terms of both our staff and guests.
Blake also discussed the generation managed security devices that provide the technology and expertise required to detect and mitigate threats and vulnerabilities across complex IT environments, especially as found in hospitality and hotels.
These services are typically:
- A cloud service which provides dashboards, reporting and analytics without having to worry about on-site retention, disaster recovery, scalability and capital expenditure.
- 24/7 monitoring for threats and vulnerabilities by expert teams of penetration testers, security analysts and software developers.
- A range of protective security controls for proactive and reactive blocking of threats.
- A per-seat pricing model which covers all features, as well as monitoring by our specialist team.
These systems can even provide a benchmarking report of how the hotel, for example, compares to other similar hotels already in the system in various areas.
Blake went on to highlight how one hotel employee had downloaded what looked like an invoice (in Word) and the system detected the virus threat within nine minutes and cleaned and cleared everything up automatically within 12 hours. It was a sobering thought… but a reminder nonetheless that security for both staff and guests is a serious and ever more complex issue, and a responsibility for hotels and all other hospitality companies today.
A huge thank you must go to Barry Thomas of Rosewood Hotels who provided the superb facilities and opening canapes and drinks for the evening events. Despite Barry being in his new role in California as corporate director of information technology for Rosewood in Europe. The hotel “did you proud, Barry.”
Carl Weldon is the COO of Europe for HFTP. Contact Carl at Carl.Weldon@hftp.org or +1 (512) 220-4164.