What’s in Your Hotel Technology Stack? (And Why Your Stack Matters)
What’s your stack look like? No, that isn’t a pick-up line – it’s technology lingo to describe what software and programs a hotel uses in their day-to-day operations.
It’s a term I’ve only recently seen applied to the hospitality industry, despite the fact that many other industries have been analyzing technology stacks for years.
So why should you care what’s in your hotel technology stack and how can it help you achieve your goals this year (such as increased direct bookings and improved guest satisfaction)?
First, let’s look at what a technology stack is.
What is a hotel technology stack?
A hotel technology stack is made up of all the software and programs you use to manage your digital marketing, operations, booking software, revenue management, third-party distribution, guest services and even more. In other industries, you might hear the term marketing stack or sales technology stack which specify the types of tools you use in those departments. For our purposes here today, we’re going to focus on the entire suite of technology that you use to power your hotel’s operations.
The technology options for hoteliers are increasing year-by-year; as well, it’s hard to compete if you don’t have the right tools to do your job.
What should your hotel technology stack include?
In Skift’s latest trends report, they broke down the ideal hotel IT solution by categories – which are similar to the ones that we’ll be looking at here; specifically Marketing tools and Hotel Operations.
Hotel Technology Stack: Marketing
These include tools that help you market your property online and on third-party travel websites like OTAs. To market your hotel effectively, you need tools that allow you to easily manage your online marketing, distribute your hotel on third-party travel websites, build loyalty with customer satisfaction tools, analyze your marketing and spend with analytics, and manage revenue and reservations.
Here are some tools that you might use in these categories:
- Online marketing: Leonardo and BookingSuite both offer a digital marketing system for hotels to build their own websites and mobile sites; they differ on the other features included (for example, Leonardo offers third-party channel distribution; BookingSuite offers revenue management tools)
- Third-party distribution: Fastbooking’s Distribution Manager lets you update your room availability and pricing for all third-party travel channels, using just one interface. Fastbooking also offers website development, SEO and a booking engine
- Analytics: Google Analytics should be installed on your website to, at the very least, track which pages your audience are visiting (page views and sessions), how long they’re staying (time on page) and on which pages they’re leaving (bounce rate)
- Loyalty: TrustYou offers an online reputation management program and its new acquisition of Checkmate also makes it easy to build loyalty with guests since you can actively engage with guests before arrival and on-site
- Revenue management: Rainmaker offers revenue optimization and analytical solutions to transform complex data from numerous sources into actionable insights. For example, their guestrev tool uses data to forecast demand and set room rates and their revcaster provides revenue managers with data on comp-set hotel pricing
Hotel Technology Stack: Hotel Operations
These include tools such as your property management system; think of anything that enables you to manage guest requests, facilitate smoother check-ins and check-outs and deal with guests’ issues (maintenance).
Here are some tools that might make up your hotel operations technology stack:
- Guest relations: StayNTouch – Their Zestweb product enables guest check-in via mobile (guests receive a “pre-engagement email” inviting them to check-in or out via their smartphone and desktop – no need to download an app). Rover Front Office allows front desk staff to be mobile – and thanks to their live integration with the hotel PMS, staff can check guests in and out from anywhere as well as deal with any guests’ concerns. Rover Housekeeping allows housekeeping staff to use any mobile device to keep track of room statuses, clean lists for the day etc.
- Sales and catering: An events program like SocialTables may be your go-to technology to manage meetings and events
- Scheduling: A booking engine tool like JackRabbit can help increase direct bookings and increase conversions
- Maintenance: You might manage maintenance with a tool like hotel ServicePro that automates the scheduling and reporting of safety requirements, guest requests, preventative maintenance and more.
Why it’s beneficial
In 2015, there were over 1,876 different marketing tools on the market, an increase from just 974 in 2014. As more and more technology tools enter the market (with many vendors focused exclusively on the hospitality industry) and as more travelers demand the latest, most innovative technology to book hotels, it’s easy to get caught up with questions like Should I be using that tool? Is the hotel down the street tracking that? If we don’t start using that tool, are we going to fall behind?
If those questions have caught your mind, you’re not alone. 50% of hotel professionals surveyed by Skift said they plan to invest more in operations technology this year.
Using the latest technology isn’t always the answer; instead, you need to evaluate if the technology that you have is making it easier to do your job and is improving the experience of your guests.
Take a moment to analyze your own hotel technology stack:
- Start by writing down all the categories we’ve included above and then list the tools that fall into each category
- Are there any gaps? For example, do you have too many marketing tools but no analytics or guest loyalty tools?
- Then, ask your staff to rate the tools that you’re currently use in terms of preference and also in terms of how often they’re using them
- Finally, cross-reference the information you’ve gathered with your goals for the year: if increasing bookings from destination websites and OTAs are a goal, do you have the right tools for the job? If decreasing maintenance spend is a focus, are you investing in any tool to make your processes more efficient?
It may seem like a difficult process but knowing what tools you use and why is the first step to not only a more efficient operation but also a more successful one.
We’d love to know: what tools make up your hotel technology stack?