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When managing major technology projects that play a key role in driving and retaining new guests, hotel CIOs often deal with many challenges that actually keep them up at night.

At the recent Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) North America conference, leading CIOs and CTOs of major hotels gathered on a panel to discuss the most stressful aspects of their jobs.

Here’s a quick rundown of what keeps them up at night.

  • Bringing Innovation to Life: 
Several of the CIOs and CTOs discussed the challenge of bringing an innovative idea to life.  Oftentimes there are “too many cooks in the kitchen” and keeping all expectations in check can be a difficult road.
  • Changing the Ecosystem:  Many IT leaders are concerned about the impact of new technologies or aren’t immersed in new technologies that are being embraced by the younger generation.
  • Path to the Cloud:  Getting senior leadership to understand that cloud-based systems are safe and viable IT options can be difficult.   In addition, a common complaint among owners and third-party managers is that brands are unwilling to share much of that data with the actual property operators because it dilutes brand value.

Managing IT for large brands that consumers are facing is a challenging endeavor.   One area where these pressures can be mitigated is by focusing on innovations that directly support overall business goals.  When innovation is directly tied back to the business model, hotel CIOs have a better chance at managing expectations and proving their direct value to the organization.

In addition, we believe that all new technologies should focus directly on providing a completely Frictionless Guest Experience™, where all innovation removes any barriers for potential guests to book a stay.  Whether it’s through the cloud or mobile apps, these innovations directly drive more revenue and provide the key metrics and analytics that justify the investment.

Business units also often have competing priorities when it comes to implementing new technologies. To solve this challenge, hotel brands need to balance business objectives with the perceived and actual desires of guests. When there are too many cooks in the kitchen, it creates a situation where agility and the ability to be nimble are lost by attempting to build out too many functions in the first release.

It is ideal to tap into outside partners who help prioritize both the needs of overall business and guests. External partners bring innovation, flexibility, agility and fresh perspective and no competing agendas.   In addition, new open platforms provide many of the functions brands are seeking to implement, as well as allows brands to retain control of certain aspects of a solution — while not having to build out the infrastructure.

This allows the brand to focus on bringing value, not building toward value. It also allows them to quickly assess the viability of functions and features, altering them based on guest feedback. Essentially learning while building toward the larger goal, rather than attempting to build an entire solution upfront.

It is always interesting to hear the pain points of hotel CIOs and CTOs. Through the right agile approaches to developing IT projects, it is possible to mitigate many of the headaches that come with being responsible for developing new innovations.