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Although the hospitality sector has been dealing with an extended economic downturn for the past three years, a new dialogue has been emerging that focuses on the best use of information technology to fully meet marketing and operational goals – especially in the face of today’s economic climate.

As an organization that does a lot of work in the hospitality sector, we recently came across a compelling white paper by Amadeus andRockCheetah that fully explores a topic that we believe is very important:  how hotel companies can align business and IT strategies to drive business transformation.

Here are some of the key findings from that report:

Aligning Business and IT Priorities Hotel business leaders are focused on discovering innovative methods to grow revenues, attract new guests and reduce costs.  With hotel IT leaders prioritizing initiatives around cloud computing, virtualization and mobile technologies, they are attending to core central and property system platforms as opposed to following other industries in developing collaboration and web 2.0 initiatives.

Identifying Key Business Drivers and the Enterprise Value Chain — To bridge business and IT objectives, a common vocabulary is required to open lines of communication across business units. Outcomes must provide material results based upon clear actions that offer measurable economic value, while business drivers should relate directly to satisfying guest needs.

Defining Strategic Hotel Business Priorities — Hotel business leaders are seeking to enhance their property portfolios by expanding into new territories. Brand development rates high as a priority – from repositioning existing brands to the launching of new ones.  Improving guest satisfaction and operational efficiency are interrelated for hoteliers as both share the common goal of enhancing the guest experience, thereby increasing revenues.

Defining Strategic Hotel IT Priorities — Hotel information technology leadership is prioritizing enhancement of core CRS and PMS platforms while strengthening direct distribution channels. From an infrastructure perspective, virtualization of systems, with migration to cloud computing and SaaS, heads the list of key goals with the purpose of increasing security, reliability and scalability.

In addition, the report calls for the creation of the “IT Pathfinder” role.  This person would create a greater alignment between corporate business and technology objectives, as well as identify appropriate solutions and implement the initiatives that create the greatest economic value.

As the hotel industry has essentially survived one of the most dramatic economic downturns in history, many hoteliers are embracing new business initiatives that rely heavily on IT to drive business growth.

Being an organization that continually provides IT solutions that combine clients’ business objectives with the appropriate technology, we applaud this shift in the hotel industry.

And, as we are still facing uncertain economic times, we believe every organization must make sure that their IT investment provides a maximum ROI for continued business growth.

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group