The only way humans learn to walk is by falling. Over and over and over again. We are creatures programmed to learn through failure. Over time, though, we condition ourselves to run from risk. To play it safe, become book smart for the grade, avoid crashing and burning at all cost. This is not a recipe for success. Failure is a necessary ingredient for innovation.
In the hospitality industry, we have this situation with data that is getting in the way of necessary failing, learning, and innovating. We’ve buried data in databases, making it hidden and unusable. When you actually put data to good use, however, you get Spotify, Netflix, and Amazon, for instance. Each of these companies combines user data with past purchasing behavior to make the buying experience better and more lucrative. When you combine data and robotics, you get maidbot and Relay. Combine data and voice recognition, and you get Alexa and Siri. Combine data and hotel energy conservation, and you get Interel. This company gives guests control over water flow and temperature, while simultaneously monitoring water usage and consumption to help hotels manage settings that will save energy and money. These are innovative and creative uses for data that are completely reshaping the consumer experience.
The hotel industry languishes with unseen, unused data. We have been looking at data all wrong. It has become synonymous with dashboards. But dashboards don’t do anything. Analytics and historical reports are just consumable. What hotels could be doing is using data to improve operations, cut costs, and predict the future. Making data actionable.
So why aren’t we? Because there’s too much friction between hotel software. In fact, 87% of hotels say that integration is their biggest pain point when choosing technology. Making it worse, the sales cycle eats up time and resources. It takes forever. So hotels become risk-averse when it comes to trying a new technology.
What if, instead of being afraid, hotels embrace new technology? What if hotels could test new applications, evaluate them, and, if they work, run with it, if not, fail fast and move on. This is where the seeds of innovation sprout. To be able to do this, hotels must shift course; they must change their mindset. When evaluating your hotel software (both current and future), ask yourself the following:
Once you ask yourself these questions, you will naturally start gravitating towards new technology that will allow you to move faster, test often, and fail quickly. You will break down the walls that keep data in silos, which will allow you to use data in new, previously unheard of ways. And best of all, you will continue to optimize your software so that it better serves your customers, your staff, and your budget. This willingness to try new technologies—even to develop the technology yourself—and an understanding that failure is inevitable and good is what will reshape the hotel industry.