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NetLink and Marriott

Hospitality Providers: Top Five Tips for Achieving Maximum Technology ROI

As we head into 2012, it is important for any sector to maximize its technology investments to ensure the most effective business outcomes.  And, in no other industry is this more important than the hospitality world.  With fierce competition to capture guests’ attention, coupled with the ongoing challenges of a lagging economy, it is vital for hospitality providers to make the most of their IT spending.

Based on our experience in working with leading hospitality providers, we have provided the following top five tips for maximizing IT in 2012:

1. Align IT with Business Goals: When embarking on a new IT initiative, it is critical to align these efforts with business goals.  As such, hospitality IT leaders need to be fully connected to the C-suite and have deep insights into the overall business goals and strategies and use these to guide all efforts.

2. Use IT for Competitive Advantage: Hospitality providers need to gain competitive advantage by providing unique offerings, which will allow them to be differentiated from their peers.  In essence, every IT project has to support efforts to eclipse the competition – whether it is building out a new CMS, simply enhancing your core web site with more features and functionality or developing a mobile version of your web site.

3. Use Innovative Project Management Approaches: When working with IT vendors and integrators, it is important that your technology partners offer a project management approach that is highly effective and mitigates any risk of derailing a project.  One key approach is to make sure that your partners provide results early and often throughout the project management process – as opposed to presenting a solution at the end of the project lifecycle.

4. Be Realistic About the Level of Complexity and Associated Costs: When considering going for Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) as opposed to a custom IT solution, it is important to be realistic about the costs and complexity associated with this decision.  The greater the complexity, the greater the chance that custom solutions are required, though as we have highlighted before, this is not always a “black and white” decision.

5. Remove Any Barriers Between Hotel Technology, Marketing and Operations: As highlighted in a recent white paper by Amadeus and RockCheetah, hospitality providers should consider creating the “IT Pathfinder” role.  This person can 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.  In addition, it may be more cost-effective to rely on an outside partner to serve as the “IT Pathfinder.”

Information Technology is clearly a major business driver for the hospitality sector.  When used appropriately, it can create major competitive advantage and ultimately drive additional revenue.  The key is to use your IT investment wisely, align IT with your business goals and make sure you are using the right partners and solutions to meet these objectives.

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

Marriott International Invites NetLink to Celebrate Gift Card Site Redesign Success

It is an absolute privilege to be providing web solutions to some of the world’s premier organizations like Marriott International.   The fact that we get to support very high-profile projects that lead to tangible business growth is very exciting and rewarding.

While NetLink does not actively solicit gestures of gratitude from our clients, it is very rewarding when a client comes forward to thank us for our hard work and dedication.

This week, Marriott International did just this by inviting us to attend a company party at Seasons52 in Rockville, MD to celebrate the successful conversion to their new gift card vendor, which included our efforts in re-designing their U.S. gift card site. The event marked a celebration of a successfully completed, 9-month project that required us to streamline the e-commerce process, establish interfaces to Marriott’s new gift card vendor, and enhance the existing robust administrative portal used for servicing customer purchases for its gift card site.

Marriott originally approached us in 2005 to fully re-design the gift card site for the U.S. market, improve on the original site’s functionality and increase revenue.  In the last six years, the additional websites and applications we have created and maintained for Marriott’s global gift card offering has resulted in more than $35 million in revenue.  More importantly, the new system architecture provides condensed time-to-market capabilities to undertake online opportunities in new geographical regions.

Knowing that we have significantly helped Marriott grow their business is extremely rewarding for our organization.  Being invited to celebrate as a partner thought of as integral to the success of a significant company-wide effort is a gesture that makes us feel greatly appreciated.

Posted by: Steve Short, President, NetLink Resource Group