The hospitality industry is experiencing growth as the nation shows signs of economic recovery. Movement into the “third platform” with technology adoption including mobile, cloud computing, and Big Data, is part of this growth, and as a result there are increasing opportunities in the hospitality market for VARs and MSPs. In addition to their responses for our Business Solutions Partner Program Insider 2014, industry leaders had this to say when asked which are the most significant opportunities and trends in hospitality:
Adnon Dow, vice president of global mobility solutions for SYNNEX Corporation, says, “The hospitality industry is increasingly finding more value in IT — from helping internal operations run more smoothly to providing convenience for guests. One of the biggest opportunities moving forward lies in infrastructure. Hotels are shifting to a model where data is collected via tablets — no more walking the hotel floor to relay information to management or the front desk.” He points out hotel management staff immediately know when a room is ready and guests are able to check-in, and in hotel restaurants, orders are sent to the kitchen via mobile devices and tables are turned over at a faster rate.
There is also great opportunity when you consider the number of business travelers constantly on the road. Despite the latest innovations in virtual meeting spaces, the Global Business Travel Association predicts a 7.2 percent increase in business travel spending in 2014. “Each hotel room is considered an office for these travelers, and it’s becoming an industry-wide standard for rooms to be equipped with everything they need to operate business as usual,” says Dow.
Andre Nataf, senior business development manager at Digital Dining, says, “The biggest trends have to do with the mobile hybrid technology that allows restaurants to use tablet terminals as both fixed and mobile POS (point of sale) stations. The reliability and peripheral choice combined with their availability on feature rich mature products has given restaurants a way to better customer service and increase top line sales. This is becoming a game changer and now can no longer be discounted, it you are competing without mobility you are not winning right now.”
Jared Isaacman, CEO of Harbortouch, says, “As new technologies emerge in the hospitality industry, particularly in the POS space, restaurant owners are looking to take advantage of these trends. Many restaurateurs have become increasingly interested in new features such as cloud based reporting and POS management, integrated online ordering and reservations, mobile integration and advanced loyalty functions … By offering value-added technology to your customers, you can differentiate your offering and also increase customer retention.”
Joan Morales, director of channel marketing at Axcient, says, “Key trends we see in hospitality are related to mobile devices, service automation, remote access, and data protection. As more guests carry tablets and smartphones, providing services and an experience tailored for those devices will become increasingly important as a point of differentiation, allowing guests to register, check-in, check-out, and interact with the venue’s multiple amenities and offerings. This will require a thorough planning and coordination of technology and services executives to agree on how to deliver that experience. Service automation is becoming a standard offering that is required for today's busy travelers to provide check-in/check-out and other amenities. Remote access infrastructure to provide Wi-Fi coverage is on the rise as guests request an ‘always-on’ experience. With the amount of data being gathered by hospitality companies on guests transactions, preferences, and services the need for data protection becomes even more pressing.”
Terry Cruikshank, senior marketing manager, industry marketing, OKI Data Americas, says, “Over the past few years, the restaurant hospitality industry is increasingly becoming mobile. Daily procedures now involve more electronic processes and mobile technologies such as smartphone apps and mobile websites. Finding solutions that streamline procedures like sending invoices or human resource documents to headquarters via scan-to-folder with multifunction devices, fleet management tools that track device status, and control printing related costs across all locations are important."
VARs and MSPs can provide services and solutions that help companies — by improving their infrastructure; selecting the right POS system; implementing management and automation software, integrating online ordering, reservations, and loyalty functions; and deploying mobile devices — and ultimately enhancing their clients’ ability to provide excellent customer service.