Technology continues to play a huge role in the hospitality industry’s efforts to navigate today’s extraordinary environment. And forming cohesive technology partnerships has always been fundamental to the success of a hotel business.
Because the right partners at the right times are of tremendous value to hotel executives, here are the critical questions you should ask yourself in the journey toward a successful technology partnership.
How to define a successful technology partnership?
Before you can outline what a successful technology partner looks like for you, you first need to define who you are and what you stand for as a company. This is instrumental in aligning your goals and your partner’s.
What is your identity?
To determine your identity, consider the kinds of words, phrases, and ideas that best describe the core values of your organisation. What do your current customers say about you? What do your staff think of you? What principles help you create and nurture your culture? What do you want to be as an organisation and what’s missing?
Establishing your identity will help you to match your values to those prospective partners and help you to reduce the noise as you find the right ones.
Who are your internal experts?
After you’ve defined who you are as an organisation and the goals that come out of them, it is time to consider the expertise from within your hotel business. These experts should be drawn from various departments.
From revenue management to business development to IT and beyond, these internal experts will help you paint a clearer picture of which goals and directions are achievable and make the most sense.
From there, it becomes much easier to create a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis from as many expert points of view as possible, and to develop a list of must-wins. So does setting the tone when it’s time to seek out external partners.
What are your hotel business objectives?
Where do you want to be in a year? What about five years from now? What is the scope of your strategy to achieve your goals? Will you focus on winning a new market, expanding into a new region, or on changing the nature of a guest journey according to emerging cultural and technology trends? It is important to be specific. From there, you will create a more considered and focused roadmap.
With your objectives as well-defined as your company values, it will be easier to filter out distractions. You will be in a better position to judge the newest and shiniest technology solutions vaunted in the industry magazines, pitched in vendor webinars, and seen on the trade show floor. Investing in technology and the partners who offer it becomes a lot less noisy.
Clarity on what success looks like as a first step will serve you well. If you know who you are, what you are trying to do, and have a sense of scale around how to get to where you want to go, the parameters for choosing a supportive technology partner to help will be a lot easier to establish.
How well does the partner understand your business?
Ask yourselves this when reviewing RFPs and presentations; is the prospect able to express their capabilities in terms of what you need as their potential partner, or are they mostly flooding you with product features and the pedigree of their brand?
Beyond that, what is their vision of the future when it comes to technology, culture, and the hospitality industry? Do you see the merits of that vision? Do you share it? Most importantly, does the prospective technology partner speak to you about value-add to the guest experience, employee empowerment, brand building, or any other of the objectives you’ve identified?
Do they apply what they are selling to real-world challenges that are relevant to your goals? When it comes to business objectives, the best prospects are the ones that specifically match what you’ve laid out to the greatest degree of alignment.
Do they speak your language?
Language is another important aspect of your prospective technology partner getting you. A common vocabulary around key industry concepts is one of the signs that two parties are likely to connect over the long term. A shared lexicon reflects an equally common purpose.
Here are some examples.
When you are in talks with prospective partners, do you find yourself having to explain your goals in too much detail? Do you have to unpack too many statements when you’re outlining what success looks like for you? Do they stay focused on what you are saying about your business goals without veering off track with unrelated product features and benefits? Do they ask you questions that match and further your story?
When it comes to successful technology partnerships, clear and concise communications are paramount to success at every stage. Assessing the quality of the communication early on when you are shortlisting prospective technology partnerships (or reassessing existing ones) is an essential aspect of making sure that you’ll gain the support you need later when new technology is in place.
Do they inspire you?
Another sign that a prospective technology partner is going to be supportive is their ability to inspire you and your teams. This isn’t about pitches and promises. The kind of inspiration to look for grows from their willingness to collaborate with you, adjust to meet your needs, and in so doing give you a new perspective on your own objectives.
When you are exchanging ideas, discussing your goals, and outlining your vision, do they help you focus on what you are trying to do? Do they describe how their own technology solutions meet those goals, or even more importantly, do they see a way to adapt their offering realistically, adding features, and rolling out new functionality in response to your conversations? Can they explain the practical process to make it happen within measurable timelines?
As in all healthy partnerships, of course, inspiration should flow both ways. A supportive environment between provider and customer thrives when the results of your interactions help to move you closer toward your shared objectives. This is what helps to make the hospitality industry better for everyone—when business needs drive technology development, and then circle back into benefits for guests, employees, and brands alike.
Now that you have chosen the right technology partner. In the next part, we will talk about what you can do to enhance that partnership. Stay tuned!