Investing in any kind of technology can be a difficult decision. By performing due diligence, assessing options, and taking your time, you can find the right solution for your hotel. Are you thinking about investing in a new hospitality technology solution? If so, keep these four steps in mind as you begin the process.
1. Admit your current systems need a facelift.
There’s no sense in buying a new solution just for the sake of it. But if you haven’t upgraded your network in several years—and certainly if you haven’t updated it in a decade or more—it will be difficult to compete against your more modern counterparts in today’s tech-driven climate.
Thanks to the popularity of mobile apps that provide seamless experiences, guest expectations subconsciously rise every year. If your hotel isn’t continually moving toward a more connected experience, your guests will quickly let others know via online reviews and word of mouth, and occupancy rates could consequently suffer.
So first things first: Before you can invest in new technology, you first need to admit that your current infrastructure is outdated. Once you’ve done that, you need to start your research and begin making the business case for network investments to get the rest of your team to buy in.
2. Identify the features your ideal network would have.
For the best results, you need to be proactive—figure out which features your guests and staff need to have, as well as which technologies would be nice to have. Here are some questions to ask during this step of the process:
• What are my brand recommendations or requirements?
• Do I want a converged network at my hotel?
• How many users do I have, and how much bandwidth do I need?
• What kind of security features do I need for guests?
• Will a cable channel lineup suffice, or do I need to provide content streaming options?
• How much equipment do I want to manage?
• How often will I need tech support, and can I handle those needs internally?
Because the needs of every hotel are unique, you’ll likely have additional questions. The questions above should help you narrow down installation needs for the network.
3. Compare in-room technology vendors to see which can best meet your needs.
No two hospitality technology solution providers are exactly the same. Even if they have similar offerings, vendors have different price points. Some providers have more experience than others. Some are more specified in services offered, while others do many things well. Some vendors offer on-site technician support, while others expect you to manage everything on your own.
To figure out which solution is the best match for your property, start with researching the technology options that are available to you. If you are affiliated with a hotel brand, start with the approved or preferred vendor list. Compare the provider options to determine which solutions have price points that fit within your budget, and which are connected to national support networks to meet your needs. Discuss past experiences with other general managers or IT directors who have had similar installations. Don’t hesitate to ask your professional network on LinkedIn who they use and why.
4. Ask questions as you narrow down your search.
After you’ve honed in on a few providers that you believe can meet your needs, reach out to them directly to see which is best suited to help your hospitality business get to the next level. To figure out the best match, ask questions—and a lot of them.
You’ll want to discuss features of each solution, technical requirements, pricing options, and special promotions that may be available. You’ll also want to understand the provider’s tiers of support; there’s a big difference between next-business-day support and 24x7x365 in-house support.
Be sure to ask about implementation, including questions such as:
• Will the data, video, and/or voice system be a turnkey solution?
• Who’s responsible for installation?
• What type of network connectivity or equipment will be required?
• What does the installation process look like, and how long will it take?
• Will there be any downtime?
• What can staff expect to experience during the transition to the new system?
• What kind of support services does the vendor provide?
• Is there a warranty available? If so, what does it include?
Essentially, you’ll need to determine what role you’ll play in implementation, and what kind of support resources will be available to you after your Wi-Fi network, TV, and/or voice solution solution is up and running. The more questions you ask, the more likely you’ll be able to make the best decision. By doing so, you'll have a good understanding of technology options designed to meet the unique needs of hotels, the things to consider when shopping for a solution, and the steps you need to take to find the perfect fit.