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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

Removing Barriers Between Hotel Technology, Marketing and Operations

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