Hoteliers expect to invest more in cloud computing technology that is revolutionising the way hoteliers and restaurateurs run their businesses and interact with their customers. Donald Gasper speaks with some of the specialists.
The hospitality industry may be a relative laggard in joining the cloud computing revolution but it is said to be at a tipping point in terms of cloud adoption, with hoteliers expected to invest 7-8 per cent more in cloud computing technology over the next three years. While the hospitality industry may not be noted for early adoption, there are already many hotels that have seen the positive outcomes of moving to the cloud, according to Michael Schubach, strategic deployments and programme management director, Infor Hospitality.
“For the hospitality industry, cloud computing enables flexibility, mobility and connectivity, empowering decision making by providing real-time insights and data,” he says. Cloud computing, working hand-in-hand with other next-generation technologies, helps hoteliers and restaurateurs gain deeper understanding of their operations and guests, particularly across multiple locations, service outlets or management structures. This can improve product offerings, service levels and visitor satisfaction, all of which boost the bottom line. The benefits lie not only in the results being produced, but also in the way in which they are achieved; the total cost of cloud-based technologies can be lower over time, freeing up capital and human resources for other needs.
“Managing transformational change may seem intimidating or overwhelming, but when you partner with the right vendor in pursuing the your company’s most important objectives, then moving to the cloud can have positive impacts that resonate not only throughout your operational departments, but across your entire enterprise,” says Schubach.
Speed is of the essence
According to Grahame Tate, regional vice president, Hotels and F&B, Asia Pacific at Oracle Hospitality, among the foremost priorities facing hoteliers and restaurateurs today is the challenge to enhance capabilities to deliver personalised experiences – which guests are increasingly demanding. The critical prerequisite for providing such individualised service at scale is the ability to accelerate innovations. If hospitality operators can’t deliver new products and services at unprecedented speed, it’s impossible to keep pace with customers’ ever-changing expectations. Cloud-based solutions address this fundamental issue by injecting speed into the equation, converting the impossible into the possible. Operating in a new world order where empowered guests make individualised demands and expect fast fulfilment, there is a premium placed on improved productivity, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Cloud technology lowers costs by allowing hotels and restaurants to centralise hardware and software, eliminating the need for on-premise servers at each property. Backups, maintenance and updates are performed by the cloud technology provider. The implications of that change are enormous: Software and hardware upgrades are faster and easier as they are done centrally. And, new functionality can be activated at multiple locations simultaneously, meaning market-leading innovations can be introduced faster.
“Equipped with the proper enterprise management platform powered by cloud, hoteliers and restaurateurs can tackle a full spectrum of tasks, including managing staffing needs, accelerating hotel check-in, improving kitchen operations and providing mobile devices that enhance guest service anywhere, anytime,” says Tate. “By addressing every facet of the business, a cloud-based solution optimises operations across the board, yielding the speed, agility and efficiency required to meet guests’ ever-changing needs.”
Hazem Hussein, CEO of the Hospitality Division at Amadeus, says that many independent systems, either premises or those claiming to be cloud-based, do not integrate with additional technology solutions openly, if at all. Data silos prevent hospitality professionals from having a comprehensive view of their business and their guests, which limits a hotelier’s ability to adapt to changing market demands and manage guest experiences and preferences in meaningful ways.
Outdated and non-integrated technology poses a considerable challenge to creating memorable guest experiences and personalisation, says Hussein. A personalised experience is something every guest expects who visits a property. Hotels that want to succeed must anticipate guest needs, understand previous stay preferences and challenges, and proactively address these using data, analytics, and business intelligence.
Managing these expectations can put a considerable strain on resources at a property if you don’t have the right tools. By switching to a cloud-native solution, it reduces the burden on team members, as well as reduces the cost of managing and running possible outdated IT infrastructure. Cloud-native solutions don’t rely on hardware that can crash. Instead, cloud providers manage the entire platform, providing both hardware upgrades and software updates that keep properties running smoothly.
Many properties can also see a lower impact on budgets as a result of the savings in IT hardware, staffing and maintenance costs. With a cloud-native solution comes consistency in pricing with a subscription-based product, as well as access to the latest software releases as soon as they’re available.
Hospitality professionals need cloud-native solutions that can be scaled up and down to accommodate fluctuating demand, as well as higher ease of integration across systems. These combined benefits allow properties to focus on what matters most, the guest experience.