Hotels across the world are at different stages of their tech and digitalisation journeys. But most agree that technology is an absolute necessity to keep hotels running, profitable and delivering an exceptional guest experience. In recent years, there has been an explosion of technologies entering the market specifically for the hotel sector. So what should hoteliers be focusing on when selecting and investing in technology for their hotels?

“Hoteliers need to not see technology as an unknown term or something that is scary,” said Sotiris Kopatsaris, CEO and founder of Future Hotels. “But rather it is friendly, nice and intuitive. It’s something that helps hotels become more profitable.”

Introducing new digital technologies to a hotel can feel like a mammoth task. Significantly, 63% of hospitality operators do not believe their business has invested enough in digitalisation (Hospitality & Catering News). And although 75% of top executives in hotel chains supported the idea of marketing using artificial intelligence tech, only 36% of them actually deploy it (eHotelier).

With so many technology solutions out there directly serving the hotel industry, the current focus is on finding the right technology partners, rather than developing technology in-house. “Hoteliers can’t do everything,” said Tess Mattison, President and CEO at Zaplox. “Tech is complex, expensive, and you need competence and knowledge in it. A partner can complement what is already in place.”

Investing in technology solutions frees up hoteliers’ time to focus on the guest experience, and keeps them closer to the cutting edge. “There’s not a typical architecture historically implemented in hospitality; [we need] to innovate,” said Paolo Dona, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at StayCity. “I don’t think a single hotelier doing everything in-house will be able to achieve the level of innovation required to stay relevant in the next few years.”

So if buying the right technology is the way forward, where should hoteliers start? According to Zetter Hotels’ Managing Director, Liutauras Vaitkevicius, you need to assess technology “operationally, commercially, and as a wider brand. You can’t [succeed] without having the right tech stack behind the scenes.” Tech that helps understand a hotel business, and not just deal with transactions, is also essential.

With so much technology to choose from, what should the key buying and selection criteria be for hoteliers?

Focus on ROI, not the cost

Investing in anything carries a burden with it for hoteliers, particularly in the current economic climate. It can be tempting to be led by cost, and by finding a solution that you think you can afford as a hotel business.

But instead of focusing on cost, look at the return on investment (ROI) instead. Does it actually deliver what you need? Ask for proof that the product delivers – don’t be rushed into a decision if you’re not sure. According to Hotel Tech Report, “hotels should break out their digital transformation into small, achievable efforts directly connected to a business outcome.”



It’s important to check that technology solutions can adapt and grow with your hotel business, and not just deliver the solution you need right now. This is critical for making an investment in technology that makes sense for the medium to long term, as well as for the hotel’s needs right now.



Technology solutions that integrate and talk to each other is an absolutely crucial point in the buying journey for hoteliers. “The technology stack in the hospitality business is very fragmented,” said Antonis Chalkiopoulos, Co-Founder and CEO of Triparound. “There are so many software solutions that hoteliers are using. You cannot connect all of them in one place.”

Alexandre Pereira, Head of Commercial Strategy at Real Hotels Group explained this is his top priority. “We need to guarantee there is seamless, real-time integration with all our different systems,” he said. “If you look back 10 years, we managed two different systems: the property management system (PMS) and a financial system. But now, we’re maybe looking at 10 or 15 systems.”

Roger Tabbal, Vice President Global Guest Technology and Innovation at Accor, also recommends open API technology. “A lot of integration is required, so we work on an open API strategy,” he said. “It means we can integrate other solutions into self-check-in, such as in-room management.”


Align with key teams

The kind of technology you bring into a hotel depends on the state of readiness of different teams in the business who will use it. Involving operations, marketing and sales teams in the process of acquiring new technology is crucial. Assessing how aligned all the various teams are is also critical. “There is a quote that says ‘would you rather go fast, or far?’” Alexandre Pereira from Real Hotels Group said. “Take things step by step. We need to have full alignment from the operational team so we walk the path at the same speed.”


Consider access

The nature of most hotel groups is that staff are based at different properties and offices across the world. So it’s important to ensure any technology that is implemented can be used and accessed seamlessly, regardless of location and geography. Many hotel groups making progress with their digitalisation strategies say the cloud is the key to this. “Whatever we do, we do it cloud-based,” said Roger Tabbal from Accor. “That’s the Accor strategy and vision to 2025, where we will move all our applications to cloud.”


How apps work

Many hoteliers see the benefits of having an app, as it can help guests self-serve, while creating deeper and more personal connections between hotels and guests. But it’s important to give guests choices, as not all will want to download an app. Accor gives guests the option to either use a web progressive app, where a download is not required, or a downloadable app, which brings extra benefits. Whatever decision you make, integration between the app and other hotel technologies is also vital.


Ease of use

Hoteliers must ensure any technology they introduce can be used easily and intuitively. “Any new system means staff have to learn to use it,” said William Lee, Chief Business Development Officer at Onda. “And the learning period of time is usually short.”

Most hoteliers will want to ensure the training time for staff is short, as ultimately, this helps to manage limited staff time and resources. The same principle applies to any technology that hotel guests will interact with. “We want to make sure that tech is so seamless and so simple that customers just don’t think of it,” said Liutauras Vaitkevicius from Zetter Hotels.


Maintenance, support and security

Thinking about some of the practical implications of a new technology solution being implemented can sometimes be an afterthought. Yet maintenance and support “will be one of the biggest concerns of a hotel when implementing a system that is outside their country,” William Lee at Onda explained.

Think about time differences, language support and the other practicalities of getting help if you need it. Security should come top of the list before a technology is implemented too, as guest data could be at risk if not. Let your tech partner convince you of their security credentials to ensure this isn’t an issue.


Make sure it’s easy to switch providers

It may seem counterintuitive to plan how to end a partnership before you even start one, but hoteliers need to be free to continually innovate. And this means not being tied to a technology that might not work for you in the future. There are plenty of technology suppliers out there who show flexibility and fluidity with their offering. So ask about the exit options before committing to a technology partner, and find out how easy it would be to switch providers if necessary.


Some takeaway points:

  • Ask questions. Don’t rush your decision – or let vendors rush you. If it’s terminology you don’t know, ask.
  • Involve your team in the decision-making process. Trust them to give you honest feedback. They’re the ones who use the systems so really listen to their thoughts.
  • Talk to other hotel brands or properties using the system you’re interested in. Don’t just take the word of vendors who produce their own case studies and testimonials.
  • Prioritise areas that will bring your company efficiencies and improve the customer relationship. Automation and personalisation are key areas to focus on. The reward will be seen in your revenue.