And no, this isn’t going to be a column about how it’s perfectly possible to put a full English breakfast inside a roast chicken.
This week we went to an event hosted by Mews about technology and how it helped deliver better service and before you run off screaming into the middle distance, weeping and reliving your last attempt to get your broadband fixed, that’s not what we’re going to be discussing here. Largely because you can read about it here. And then, really, we need a new word for ‘technology’.
But there we were, enjoying seeing the backs and sides of people’s heads and appreciating how much further a debate can move on when it’s in person and not on Zoom. In particular, reminding the assembled that hoteliers are not the equivalent of your Dad with a tool belt failing to programme the VCR 20 years ago.
The hotel sector is actually very innovative. Starting with lifts and ice machines and moving through to the first stabs at wifi, show us a fancy new technology and we’ll show you a hotelier eager to employ it.
This has been the sector’s undoing. Early adopting rarely leads to long-term happiness, but it has led to unpleasant internet contracts and being lumbered with 16 different types of software at checkin.
This had led many working in and around the sector to think that the people in it don’t know what they’re doing with technology. That they would rather spend their time thinking about thread count or swan kebabs or rooftop terraces with infinity pools. And of course we’d like to think about those things, but the sector has also come to appreciate that technology ties all this together.
But many who would sell into it – and this is not specifically Mews – think that they have to speak very slowly and clearly. Yet they are dealing with people who work within the most complex asset class you can imagine. They can cope with the concept of the cloud.
Nizar Vriji, director, Euston Square Hotel, told the event: “Hoteliers are a lot brighter than people think.”
He added: “You choose your [technology] partner based on who listens to you. If I want to serve strawberry ice cream in a flowery bowl, that’s what I want to do. Technology companies should try to be more customisable and help your clients to engage with the products.”
Hoteliers have been running hotels a lot longer than software companies have been coming up with solutions to the many and varied issues that grow and grow in the land of the hotel. They have a reasonable idea of what they need and not a bad idea about what that might look like.
The current technology on offer to the sector is helping hoteliers realise the potential of their sites. It might be fun if there was a pooling of minds on the next phase.