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Hospitality Execs Talk Emerging Tech
Tech is experiencing an innovation boom, and many in the hospitality industry are ready to replace the “slow to adopt” mentality with strategic IT investments. From cloud computing to mobile devices, hotels and restaurants are monitoring, testing and deploying new solutions that improve the guest experience, streamline operations across vast franchise networks, and create new opportunities for solution providers.
To get insight into some of the specific areas that hospitality operators are—and should be—focusing on, VSR’s sister publication Hospitality Technology consulted its Editorial Advisory Board. Here’s what they had to say when asked the question: What emerging tech do you think will be particularly useful to your company?
David Lehn, VP of IT, Noodles & Company
We are using iPads in a few of our restaurants, in conjunction with our online ordering system, as a line-busting device. But where we are most excited is the possibility of a tablet being the sole computing device for our operations area managers (above-store managers who oversee upwards of 12 locations). The touch screen capability in a highly-portable device, to access various forms we have built out on SharePoint, has been very well received. Our executive team has also widely adapted to, and in fact demanded, these devices as a supplement to their existing tech arsenal.
Rocky Lucia, Director of IT, B.R. Guest Hospitality
An emerging technology to us is hosted voice over IP (VOIP). I’m in the process of planning a complete cutover from PBX to VOIP. Even though this has been around for years, there are some good companies out there hosting this product. This will be very useful to us as we can use our existing infrastructure, and get rid of expensive phone lines and PRI circuits; another great plus is we can manage all phones and users ourselves, which eliminates the need to call a PBX vendor to add phones, program, etc.
Mark McBeth, VP of IT, North America, Starwood Hotels & Resorts
In 2011 the term Hotspot 2.0 became a popular tagline the for much anticipated 802.11u WiFi protocol. This protocol enables a WiFi network to detect and auto-authenticate a connection to your smartphone or tablet. It allows for seamless transfer between the carrier cellular network and a hotel’s WiFi network, giving users the ability to roam between the two networks without manual authentication, which is often cumbersome and complicated.
Brian Pearson, CIO, Stacked Restaurants
NFC: While it’s been out there for awhile, we are finally beginning to see manifestations that are concrete enough to plan and prepare for its integration into our environment. For example the ability for a customer to sign-in to iPads in our restaurant, pay for their meal, and affiliate with the brand in many other ways. With the inherit insecurity of credit cards, and the broad backing it has from major retailers like McDonald’s, Walmart and 7-11.
Scott Wise, CEO, Scotty’s Brewhouse
QR technology is not emerging… and there is probably more innovation to come with its use, but I don’t think these codes are being leveraged enough right now, in the right applications or processes. We are using them on our coasters. When scanned, they take you to an up-to-date list of the 30 beers we have on draft. We also put them on the top of our guest receipts and, when scanned, they go to a mobile-friendly, quick comment form for feedback. Without them, our online comments were at about 40 per month. In the first 30 days of using them on our receipts, our comment usage went to 800 submitted (a 4,000% increase). In the next 30 days, we had 1,400 submissions.
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