[Part 1] 2011 Year in Review: Hospitality Technology

As 2011 comes to a close, we here at HFTP Connect will be reflecting on highlights we saw from the year. This year in review will be a three part series that includes the latest happenings in hospitality technology, hospitality finance and with HFTP.

The 3 Biggest Hospitality Technology Topics for 2011

We start this series with a look into what hospitality technology subjects were buzzed about in 2011. Several of the buzzed about subjects in the list below were mentioned in the HITEC 2011 Special Report.

If you haven’t read the HITEC 2011 Special Report yet, make sure you do it as soon as possible. It is a compilation of white papers from various industry sources on the latest technology trends that the HITEC Advisory Council, a group of industry experts, felt were important to the industry this year and in the near future.

So here we go. Make sure to tell us your thoughts on these topics.

1. Head in the Clouds

Every where you turn, there’s another article or another education session about cloud computing. The big discussion this year wasn’t whether cloud computing is here to stay — that much is obvious. What everyone was talking about this year was if they should convert to it or not. Do the risks outweigh the benefits of cloud computing? A popular panel at HITEC 2011 discussed the pros and cons of cloud computing. Click here to view the recording of the session>

Lyle Worthington, CHTP, CIO of Horseshoe Bay Resorts and HFTP Global Director, does a good job of summing up the view of cloud computing in 2011. His article “Clouded Vision: Do Your Research Before You Committ” in the HITEC 2011 Special Report says, “…with the right vendors and right applications, the benefits of cloud computing far outweigh the drawbacks. It is up to you to do your homework, make a realistic analysis and determine whether it’s the answer you’ve been looking for or not.”

Do you think cloud computing will continue to be a hot topic in 2012?

2. FYI on PCI

With the hospitality industry as one of the leading targets for hackers, it was about time that PCI Compliance and data security made heads turn. This topic was such a big deal this year that HFTP decided to take action and help the industry learn to protect itself from fraud by forming the PCI Compliance Task Force. This group quickly identified 12 initiatives they felt were important to the industry. Click here for more PCI Compliance resources>

The HTSIC (Hospitality Technology Strategic Initiatives Council), an informal affiliation of associations and other entities, felt it was an important topic this year too. This September the group met and HTSIC identified PCI compliance as one of the three big technology issues in the industry. Valyn Perini, points out in her October 7, 2011 Tnooz article, “The fragmented nature and location of hotel systems means a guest’s credit card number could exist in multiple systems in formats of varying security in locations of varying security.”

Want more education on this topic? HFTP’s The Bottomline magazine is hosting a series of articles on PCI Compliance. Each issue from now until HITEC 2012 will include two to three articles on various PCI compliance topics. HFTP members can access the articles online at any time. The articles will be available for nonmembers at HITEC 2012.

What issue do you think is most important in relations to PCI compliance and data security?

3. Mobile Technology

The lesson this year was clearly that mobile technology is exploding and if you aren’t on board, you’re going to get left behind. 82 percent of travelers in this informal survey say they carry a smart phone when they travel. Consumers are using their phones to check in at their hotels, check in on social media geolocation sites and check in on the latest travel deals. So make sure you have a mobile strategy that alines with how the consumer wants to interact with your property.

“There’s an app for that” is so cliche now – mainly because there really is an app for just about everything. App companies were popular in 2010 and that trend continued through 2011. Aron Ezra with Bally Technologies (formerly MacroView Labs) hosted a webinar earlier this year on how to achieve a successful hospitality app. He said that with over 20,000 travel apps on the market, consumer expectations are growing. Click here to learn more>

And the easiest, yet most often overlooked, thought we saw in regards to mobile technology: Make sure your phone number is easy to find on your mobile site (after all, your consumers are using a phone).

Is your phone number easy to find on your mobile site?

Bonus Trend: Mergers & Acquisitions

The saying goes that two heads are better than one. This wasn’t an official trend per se, but we couldn’t help but notice that every time we turned around this year, another hospitality technology company was being acquired (like this one, this one, this one, this one and this one to name a few).

Do you think this is good or bad for the industry? Will you notice a difference?

Did we miss something on our list that you think was bigger than these three topics? What do you think will be the buzz items for 2012?

Katy Walterscheidt is the PR & social media manager for HFTP. She is also the editor of HFTP Connect, the hospitality  professional blog. You can reach her by e-mail at katy.walterscheidt@hftp.org.

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