By Clare Riley, Content & Editorial Manager, SiteMinder
It’s an exciting week for hospitality technology professionals. HITEC 2015, the world’s largest hospitality technology conference and exhibition, will open its doors to more than 5,500 attendees, as 300 companies (including us!) prepare to showcase best-of-breed technology in the Austin Convention Center, Texas.
HITEC is a great event with an even greater history. The story starts in 1972 when large hotels began looking at the very first property management systems and electronic cash registers. Cloud technology such as SiteMinder’s was merely an underlying concept, Google didn’t exist, and the pocket calculator was something of a revelation. HITEC also had a more futuristic name in the form of ‘IAHA Tech Quest’ (yes, innovation at its finest!).
Industry pioneers including Robert Bennett; Dave Berkus; Richard Brooks; John Burns; Ted Horner; Michael Kasavana; Jules Sieburgh; and Harbans Singh took part in the conversation. Here are eight of SiteMinder’s favourite quotes:
1. Richard Brooks on visualising the benefits of IT:
“Perhaps the greatest consistent challenge I encountered was just the acceptance of technology in our industry. For many years technology was viewed as a ‘necessary evil’, or a tool that had not reached sufficient functionality and maturity to be a truly competitive asset to hospitality managers.”
2. Robert Bennett on IT managers:
“Early in my career as an IT manager at a hotel, maybe 75% of my issues were hardware related, leaving little time to improve applications or processes. Today, those hardware issues are almost completely gone and IT managers can make much more valuable contributions to hotel operations and guest satisfaction. Inexpensive, reliable, standard hardware and operating systems are really what have allowed technology to expand in hospitality.”
3. Dave Berkus on new technology:
“Each seven to 10 years, there is a new generation of technology that challenges suppliers of systems to upgrade or rewrite in order to remain current. Hospitality technology vendors and users must learn to be agile and adapt to change — or suffer a loss of leadership or even relevance. This form of creative destruction has continued to ravage the industry from its technology beginnings, and provides openings for new companies with new ideas periodically to shake up this industry.”
4. Michael Kasavana on self-service:
“All self-service applications are counter to the once held principle that hospitality functions need to be conducted on a face-to- face basis. In other words, technology had to remain out of the guest’s sight in order to preserve the sheltering of automation.”
5. Robert Bennett on cloud technology:
“What is most exciting to me now is that by combining the power of cloud computing, and the universal access to data via the Internet, we can create business intelligence applications using large databases that will allow the hospitality industry to serve guests better, improve operations and therefore thrive. I predict that data-driven analytics will become one of the next awesome technology-based developments to benefit hotels.”
6. Harbans Singh on guests and their needs:
“I feel that the front desk of the future will change with the developments in mobility and cloud-based applications. Guests are going to be driving the needs for the technology deployed in the hotels, unlike currently where hotels are deciding what their guests need.”
7. Ted Horner on smartphones:
“Smartphones and the proliferation of apps give us the power to do so many things from the palm of your hand. The hospitality industry has embraced apps to the point that mobility is an essential part of how hotels communicate with guests and vice versa.”
8. John Burns on big data and insights:
“The potential insight available through big data, to better understand what is happening and why, as well as the possibility to achieve real personalisation in online commerce and relationships between hotels and their guests.”
As the landscape continues to change of this wonderful sector we know as hospitality technology, HITEC is a chance to celebrate the true essence of innovation and disruptive, now and as we look ahead to the next four decades.
What does our very own (and very brilliant!) David Chestler have to say about his 25 years in the business? Read this article in CIO Review’s special edition on technology in Travel & Hospitality.