Computer Weekly recently ran a fascinating interview with Chris Hewertson, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for GLH, a UK-based hotel group. Chris discussed the changing role of the hotel’s IT department and how technology and innovation are now the main drivers of growth at GLH. Hoteliers can learn a lot from Chris and his company’s approach to technology, and I’ve picked out the 5 key lessons from the article for you…
1. Every Hotel Needs a CTO
No, not an IT Manager/Director, but a CTO – someone whose focus isn’t on maintaining hardware systems or running Windows upgrades, but on understanding how the hotel’s business can be improved by technology solutions. The CTO’s job is to discuss each department’s requirements, select the relevant tech products, implement them, and ensure adoption. “You have to think about how the great things you find will be implemented and operated” says Chris. “My number one advice for CIOs is to be more like a CTO. It’s a lot more fun when you’re involved with the innovation.” If your hotel doesn’t yet have a CTO, then who is in charge of your technology portfolio? Think about it.
2. It’s All About the Cloud
The days of spending thousands of dollars on tech solutions and installing new servers are now gone, with pretty much every imaginable hotel technology now migrated to the Cloud. That means lower costs, fewer barriers to entry, and greater efficiency. “We used to do fire fighting on an ageing back end and we’ve become a technology organisation that is supporting the business in the things it wants to do,” is how Chris puts it.
3. IT’s Role is Shrinking
With 95% of his group’s tech solutions now Cloud-based, Chris’s IT team consists of a mere 13 people across the whole group. “We don’t have to upgrade anything because everything’s managed by our service providers,” he says. This frees up the IT team to take a more strategic role, as well as being able to devote more time to guest-facing infrastructure.
4. Integration is Key
In this data-driven environment, it’s no longer enough for each department to have its own technology – all your hotel’s solutions need to connect so that managers have an overview of the whole business. GLH’s approach is to put an API layer on top of all their various Cloud-based solutions in order to generate reports that reveal how the whole business is performing. And their API has been so successful it is now a revenue stream in itself, as other hotels buy the technology from GLH!
5. Direct Booking & Retention Are the Goal
Whatever tech solutions your hotel uses, the ultimate aim should be to generate more direct bookings and to increase customer retention. Old-school loyalty schemes simply aren’t cutting it any more. “Hotel CIOs must think about how to retain guests and to make them book directly with the chain,” says Chris, and he singles out providing service pre- and post-stay as a vital element in customer retention.
It’s rare to find a hotel group with such a clearly defined and progressive approach to technology, and even rarer to find a hotel with a dedicated technology specialist. When we ask hotels who is responsible for their technology solutions, the answer varies from “The IT department” to “The GM”, or from “Every department does their own” to even “I don’t know.” Having a results-driven CTO is essential in ensuring your hotel selects the right solutions, implements and adopts them effectively, and sees technology as an essential revenue driver. In Asia at least, not many hotels have adopted this approach.
Representasia represents the world’s best hotel technology solutions in Southeast Asia. To find out more about how we can help your hotel implement revenue-increasing technology, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.