Lightning Speed & Why It Matters

With technology, there is “what it does”—the functionality—and then there’s “how it does it,” as in how fast, how accurate, what the interface looks like, and so forth. Functionality is that by which we decide we need a technology—a new POS, PMS, CRM—and so the “how it does it” becomes a secondary consideration. The way a technology does what it does gains weight as you move through the evaluation process. When you are presented with competing technologies—those that seem to do the same thing on the surface—the differences start to become clear and the “how” takes on a new magnitude of importance. For instance, legacy property management systems can take months to set up, a typical cloud-based PMS can take weeks, and one with self-service set-up (hint hint: apaleo) alows a property to be set up in minutes. That’s right, minutes!

Why does this matter so much and why should it be a primary consideration? Of course, there’s the simple fact of speed. Who doesn’t need more time, more productivity, and faster employees? According to the Hospitality Technology 2018 Lodging Technology Study, among the Top 12 Tactical Objectives hotels have for this year are reducing the cost of managing technology (#4) and increasing employee productivity (#5). The two go hand-in-hand.

In order to meet these goals, hotels must give more priority to how technologies do what they do. 1). Setup speed and length of training required, 2). user interface efficiency, 3). Ease in which it can connect to other core systems, are all key components of this evaluation. Whether you’re looking to reduce turnover among front desk staff or to increase efficiency, a speedy, intuitive technology will do both. What won’t accomplish these goals are closed property management systems that require hours upon hours of set-up, two weeks of training to onboard, and no ability to connect innovative apps. Hotels need systems that take just minutes to set up a new property with inventory, services, rate structure, and policies, as well as add on innovative apps to help run the business.

There’s more than the act of moving faster—and the implied time and money savings—at play here. In his article, Four Reasons Speed Is Everything, Adam Fridman writes that if you’re not fast, your competitors will be and that companies should establish a culture of speed, because “no company in any industry can get ahead with a slow culture” (Inc.). The hospitality industry, even as it has grown in lodging supply and demand, finds itself repeatedly behind the curve with technology. The lag is understandable given the scale on which many hotels must operate and the cost to implement new procedures (another benefit to a speedy and easy-to-use PMS), but there is an undercurrent of resistance to change or, at the very least, slowness to adapt, that runs deep and holds the industry back. One essential aspect of embracing new, innovative, and fast technologies is that it moves the whole industry ahead, and those on the forefront of the movement will be more successful than their competitors.

We have entered a phase in which the pace of technology has increased exponentially, but as economist Larry Summers notes, “productivity statistics on the last dozen years are dismal.” About this, Vox Editor Ezra Klein says, “There’s a simple explanation… It’s changing how we play and relax more than it’s changing how we work and produce.” Hotels have the opportunity to go from lagging technologically to a leading technological industry simply by embracing technologies that help them get ahead, setting a new pace for not only staff productivity but also for guest service. It’s time for hotels to play in the technology space in a bigger, more thoughtful way. As CNBC’s Todd Haselton puts it, “Every company is a technology company now… as tech has quietly become the beating heart of efficiency in every firm.” And speed is one of the most important components.