How to Win at the Hotel Technology Innovation Game Through Symbiotic PartnershipsBy Pierre Boettner - founder and CEO, hospitality pulse
When it comes to hospitality technology, finding symbiotic technology partnerships for your product can be an advantageous way for your company and products to embrace innovation continuously. Aligning your solutions strategically with like-minded companies offering cutting-edge technology, hospitality experts can better generate ideas, streamline processes, and cultivate their product offering for eager hoteliers. In a good partnership, both partners should win, emerging from the relationship better than they were before.
Of course, technology partnerships represent a dynamic, fluid relationship, and primary technology providers will be faced with important questions throughout the vetting process. How do you identify those solutions which embody the values of your product, while still pushing the envelope from an innovation perspective? Will they add value to your current offering? Will they add value to the end users of your products? Will they help to enhance guest relationships for a hotel? Finally, will they improve the financial results for the parties involved?
Uncertainty about such questions can make some stakeholders unsure of how to take their technology and offering to the next level — but rest assured, innovation through partnerships can be a real game-changer. The most innovative technology available to the hospitality industry is often a culmination of various solutions. It's crucial to see this dynamic arrangement as an opportunity, rather than as competition. To evolve your product to deliver on the demands of today's hotels and their guests, you can spend time, money and resources on development – and end up late to the party. Alternatively, you can seek out strategic partnerships with advanced technology providers that can take your product to the next level quickly. After all, if you cannot create it yourself, partnerships and combined innovation may be the answer.
Here are some primary points to keep in mind when considering a symbiotic technology partnership.
Recognize the Value of Emerging Tech
New technological offerings are evolving at a faster pace than established ones, for a few good reasons. There is no legacy functionality to maintain compatibility with, no pre-existing code architecture and, possibly most importantly, there is little to lose, so experimentation can be much more determined. Continuously trying to stay one step ahead of the rapidly evolving demands of the modern guests can distract from important contracted deliverables. Experimenting also means accepting an uncertain outcome, something few corporations can justify to their stakeholders. Hotels are for example rapidly moving away from employee-oriented interfaces, to embrace mobile-friendly, cloud-based and data-driven solutions that enable guests to connect with them when and how they want; through an employee, or unassisted if they prefer. But go back just a few years, and you find that 'all mobile' strategies often confused the guests' expectation to be 'met on their terms', with an unstoppable 'no human interaction wanted' trend. It is these truths that only emerge through failing initiatives – something an established corporation can rarely stomach. But armed with the right technology, hotels can optimize operations, deliver on guest expectations, monetize features and amenities, target their marketing efforts, open up new communication channels with guests and offer genuinely personalized experiences. All the while, an established vendor relationship is only strengthened in the process.
Hoteliers that want a more competitive edge are actively seeking out technology solutions which can readily transform their relationships with each guest and drive revenue. They want platforms that offer easy integration with current systems and actionable insights derived from valuable data sources. So, the question becomes, what technology partnerships can enhance your core offering to meet the demands of hoteliers and give your brand a competitive edge? After all, if you aren't evolving your offering with emerging tech, well, you simply aren't evolving.
Finding the Right Partners
Knowing that there are technology providers that try to 'do it all' and sometimes come up short, is a "best of breed" approach the best way to go when looking a redefining your hotel technology offering? The answer is definitely yes. However, the industry as a whole needs to realize and trust the fact that the well-orchestrated technology-enhancing partnerships will help hotels optimize both guest levels and by revenues. There are a few traits that make a good technology partner. First, the company must first have the attitude of solving problems and being solution-oriented. The leadership teams must have the right expertise to make something exceptional. Furthermore, the organizations cannot be hesitant to try new things and be agile.
The other issue that must be addressed when choosing a partner is support. When you have strong, symbiotic relationship that is focused on mutual success, then reliable support will follow suit. However, when the partnerships are forced or loosely aligned, then the support of the different, integrated platform may be troublesome and reflect poorly on both companies.
Strategic technology relationships, from the vendor perspective, need to be integrated in a way to deliver on the partner's brand promises. If the technology partners are working together cohesively to tackle issues that have been challenging in the past, then there is a higher likelihood that the providers will work closely together to combine their solutions at an optimal level. This creates value, and in turn creates revenues, or decreases costs for all parties involved.
Harnessing Different Viewpoints Add Worth
Google is one of the world's most innovative brands, but they don't go at it alone. To continue developing breakthrough products, Google methodically seeks out partners that complement their offerings and capitalize on their unique areas of expertise.
Innovative products, services and business models often come from partnerships. Having multiple vendors that have integrated their solutions to benefit the hospitality industry should be a primary goal for like-minded hotel technology companies. There is a great deal of benefit related to having multiple partners focused on the same objective as they will bring diverse viewpoints and knowledge to the table. Having this level of increased knowledge from various stakeholders will enhance technology solutions and their respective implementations. Partnering provides flexibility and speed – allowing technology providers to quickly access the technology and resources they need, rather than spending time developing them internally.
By collaborating with smart visionary companies of all sizes, hotel technology providers can accelerate advancements and grow market share for both their customers and for their own brand. It's a win-win for all parties.
"Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Pierre Boettner spent his entire life between hotel operations and hospitality technology. In 1993 he pioneered an industry-first forecasting and pricing tool for Mövenpick Hotels and was later involved in many system innovations, helping hoteliers improve their distribution capabilities. Recognizing the increasing difficulty of managing rooms operations, he and long-time colleague Denis Bajet founded hospitalityPulse in 2013. This company has dedicated itself to solving the most complex operations tasks still requiring daily human intervention. Pierre Boettner is a graduate of the esteemed Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne.