You Fools, You Picked Me Again

Well, hello again! For better or worse, I’m back for another year as a HITEC Guest Blogger. I so enjoyed meeting and speaking with many of you last year, and writing up my thoughts,that when the opportunity arose I once again tossed my hat in the ring. I’m pleased and gratified that HFTP has (foolishly) seen fit to let me do it again this year!

Rather than repeat myself and my bio, I’ll just point you to my introductory post from last year; Pretty much all remains the same, including my interests in mobile, discovery and cloud.

For this year, however, I have my eye on a couple of new concepts that aren’t so much about technology itself, but how technology can help us do better serving our customers, whether those customers are guests or other businesses.

First, I’d like to talk a little bit about social (cringe). Frequently I hear discussion around social focus on “how do we share our message and get our brand out there.” To my thinking this represents a failure of understanding with respect to how social works. It is likely, dare I say certain that your brand is already out there.

What we need now are tools and workflows to help monitor social streams for mention of our brands. We need to both answer individual complaints with “we’re sorry” and compliments with “thank you”, but also to determine if identifiable trends and patterns are forming that could collectively damage reputation, brand, and revenue.Career Development in the Digital Age

I’m also deeply interested in the trend towards social as an instrument of real customer service rather than just another marketing channel. A great example of this is Delta Airlines’ handling of the @Delta and @DeltaAssist Twitter streams. I speak from personal experience when I tell you these feeds are closely monitored not just by a marketing team, but by full blown customer service reps. These folks are quick to turn a negative tweet into a constructive and helpful interaction. Speaking for myself, I think we need far more of this and far less of the “follow me / like me” we’ve seen to date.

But wait, what does any of this have to do with HITEC you ask? I firmly believe that social should be a high growth/ high investment area for our businesses, so this year I’ll be talking to hoteliers and management groups to see how and if their social relationship needs are being met. Are existing tools from the “geek” space, such as ThinkUp or HootSuite analytics tools starting to appear in our business consciousness? I’m also going to speak to some vendors to see if our own industry is or contemplating inclusion of social in their “intelligence” product mix. If not, why not?

Failure to embrace social will put us in the unenviable position of leaving money on the table, and somebody will have some explaining to do if that happens.

Secondly, I’d like to briefly revise and extend my remarks contained in my final posting from last year, in which I did a riff on John Inge’s assertion that customers will be picking the winners and losers in the “coming years”. The general takeaway idea was that the proliferation of mobile and self-service will someday put the power of vendor selection in the hands of our guests.

Well, a year later, mobile has done nothing but explode, with new versions of Android, Windows Phone, and iOS increasing the power and capability of hand-held devices. Additionally, new hardware from major vendors has made these ubiquitous devices sensor laden, contextually aware information gathering and distribution machines. We ignore the power and influence their users have at our collective peril. In short, I am no longer certain we can afford the luxury of using future tense in this discussion.

As melodramatic as that last paragraph sounds, it’s actually good news both for consumers and for hoteliers who recognize and embrace the trend(s). Shifts of this magnitude often create inflection points in the vendor ecosystem. Every customer carrying a computer changes the paradigm of service delivery, and gives us as providers the opportunity to further delight and engage our guests! And that should be exciting to all but the vendors who don’t or didn’t get the word.

Finally, I really am happy to be back. There has almost never been a more exciting time to be involved in hospitality technology and technology in general. Social and mobile are getting literally and figuratively huge, empowering us to provide new and existing services to customers and guests in bold new ways that only a few years ago were the stuff of science fiction and fantasy.

What could possibly go wrong?

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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