HOSPA CEO, Carl Weldon, recently visited the world’s largest Hospitality Technology Event – HITEC
and brings back some interviews, notes and observations from the event and the keynote speakers he experienced
5 Minutes at HITEC with Jon Inge - a Brit working in the USA in Hotel Technology for over 30 years
What are the main issues and challenges at the time of HITEC 2012?
The continued fragmentation of the industry. There has been good progress towards more integrated systems and vendor cooperation on better-interfaced applications, but much remains to be done to produce a truly integrated environment. Many vendors have extended the scope of their systems, often with considerable overlap between them, and a very few offer a complete suite of modules covering all areas. Nevertheless, in most hotels there still remains a complex and inefficient mix of poorly-integrated applications.
In HITEC’s third “year of the tablet” mobile devices have matured from novelties into essential tools. Several pull data from multiple systems and display a useful selection of information targeted to a specific job in a concise and visually appealing manner. The discipline required to achieve this on a small screen is beginning to cross over into improved user interfaces for desktop systems. Screens provide not just a 'load of data' but a real Dashboard adaptable for this manager doing that job, displaying key data with quick and intuitive access to greater detail and providing guidance as to what functions might logically come next at each stage.
What challenges are your customers putting in front of you?
Mostly I work with hotels looking to acquire new or replacement systems, or wanting an operational audit to help clarify their challenges and identify the technology needed to overcome them, often with a longer-term road map. I also review vendors’ systems to advise them on gaps in functionality for their target markets.
The key areas for all my hotel clients is Integration - not Isolation. They are fed up with working around the restrictions of their systems and data, and making it smoother to pass information from one system to another is now key.
There’s an old saying that “Experts start at the Front Door.” I don’t subscribe to that – there’s frequently considerable expertise on property already – but it is often true that someone coming in from outside with an objective, informed viewpoint and none of the internal politics can help everyone define a clear road ahead that high level management can buy into.