Capsolve is a leading hospitality marketing and technology research company known for their thorough and actionable insights on hospitality solutions. In fact, they just wrote a Professional Review of Shiji Group’s portfolio of products. We thought it’d be a great time to connect with Capsolve’s founder and CEO Tim Henthorn to learn more about Capsolve, his perspective on the broader hospitality technology marketplace, and the changes he’s seen in recent years.
SHIJI: What’s your background? And how did that lead you to Capsolve?
TIM HENTHORN: My background is primarily in the hospitality industry with a splash of a couple other industries and a significant amount of consulting. My 28 years of experience includes working in or with vendors, agencies, consultants, brands and locations. I have had the opportunity to bring more than 40 products to market and work with nearly every major hotel brand.
Having these different perspectives allowed me to identify consistent, reoccurring needs whether it was part of a product development initiative or tackling a project for a hotel, club or restaurant company. That is, when a company makes a change to their marketing, technology or operational infrastructure, certain tools and services work to ensure project speed and success. Most of these projects require a combination of money, people, time and technology (MPTT). Companies may consider software, hardware, agencies, or consultancies as potential external solutions to complement their existing resources. Capsolve provides significantly improved access to thousands of vendors and helps business leaders quickly find relevant solutions in today’s vast marketplace. A key focus in this area is Capsolve’s research as it facilitates the identification, evaluation and implementation of these solutions while promoting the proper due diligence required by stakeholders.
How did Capsolve get its start exactly?
I started the company in 2015 after beginning the research and tracking key trends in the space. I simultaneously realized that there was a much larger vendor ecosystem than what I found when originally exploring this concept in 2005. The research continued to mature and began to identify tangible opportunities for hotels, restaurants and golf courses to not only improve decision efficiency with respect to their solutioning, but take the industry forward in leaps and bounds as it relates to project success rates, capital efficiency and return on investment. This in turn lowers the risks associated with this type of progress.
Three years ago, Capsolve began publishing industry level insights into its research to pair well with its services and create a valuable resource for the industry. Capsolve has a unique, comprehensive view of the marketplace and is able to identify the best potential solution paths for nearly any strategy or tactical plan composed by today’s ingenious companies.
Looking at that overview of solutions, what do you consider the main categories of hotel technology that hoteliers should focus on?
This varies considerably by client. I recommend that hoteliers build toward a future state, wherein point decisions may be made in the context of the overall direction. Each industry segment we serve has its own set of pillar technologies and ancillary solutions. When put together, this forms a framework for that property, property portfolio, brand or chain. Our view of the technology partner marketplace starts with a Solution Map. This is a potential set of building blocks to support the needs of a client.
Certainly, the most common categories for a hotel are the Property Management System and Point-of-Sale in combination with the operational, human resources and financial systems. However, this is only the beginning for most hotels as their marketing stack and technology array may go well beyond this.
Restaurant, Club and Golf Course pillars usually start with the Point of Sale and may include Restaurant Management and Kitchen Displays along with amenity specific solutions, such as a Golf-specific POS or Online Tee Times. Yet again, depending on various factors, the supporting systems may go well beyond these.
When talking about the future and what systems might be key to success in each industry, there are many solutions to consider for healthy businesses in stable markets. These may include Marketing, Analytics, Distribution, ECommerce, Mobile, Room Technology, Event Technology, Payments, Interfacing and Sustainability solutions. However, these choices are driven by the priority of the client.
It’s an interesting area because in approximately the last 15 years, there are now more than 20 companies that have a primary focus, if not their entire focus, on key facets of interfacing various technologies. As always, the APIs across the solution ecosystem play an important role in this interconnectivity. However, it’s important to understand the cost of managing each API and their versions along with the active connections across live systems. Similarly, the flexibility offered by this nearly new category of solutions is immense.
Eine universelle Content-Management-Lösung
Die Gruppe wandte sich dann dem zu, was manche als den heiligen Gral des Content-Managements im Gastgewerbe betrachten: Eine universelle Content-Management-Lösung, die die einzige Quelle für alle Inhalte auf allen Plattformen wäre, die ein bestimmtes Hotel nutzt. Wie würde dies aussehen, welche Hindernisse gibt es, und was ist derzeit verfügbar?
Natalie Kimball: Wir [Shiji] müssen als Technologieanbieter berichten, welche Datenpunkte es gibt. Durch HTMG, wurden so viele Datenpunkte gesammelt. Wir haben bereits die Daten. Wir brauchen jemanden, der die Verantwortung übernimmt und sagt: “So wird es funktionieren”. Und dazu brauchen wir die Hilfe von GDS und von allen Beteiligten. Vielleicht müssen Wyndham, Hilton und Marriott irgendwann sagen: “Wir müssen aufhören, in dieses Hamsterrad stecken zu bleiben.”
Warum sollten die Anbieter aufstehen und sagen: “Okay, ja, wir machen das”, wenn es keinen Anreiz von kommerzieller Seite gibt? Vielleicht muss der Anstoß von einem großen Anbieter kommen, der über genügend finanzieller Mittel verfügt, um anfangs in die Sache zu investieren. Und wenn sie ein kommerzielles Modell entwickeln, das Einnahmen generiert, wird man anfangen, die Kosten zu decken. Aber es kann sein, dass es anfangs einen Verlust geben wird, damit wir es für die Branche anpassen können.
Gianna Rivera: Viele unserer Unternehmen denken über die verschiedenen Inhaltskanäle auf individuelle Weise nach. Ich glaube nicht, dass das nur für das eine oder andere Unternehmen gilt. Wir müssen dazu beitragen, dass diese Gespräche zu einem einheitlichen Denkprozess führen und dass sie verstehen, dass es im eigentlichen Sinne um Inhalte geht.
Hochwertige visuelle Inhalte
Zum Abschluss des Gesprächs diskutierte die Gruppe darüber, dass nicht alle Inhalte gleich sind, und tauschte einige Ideen darüber aus, wie hochwertige Inhalte tatsächlich aussehen.
Sarah Fults: Eine der größten Herausforderungen ist, dass man sein Hotel für das Fotoshooting vorbereiten muss. Für diejenigen von uns, die eine hohe Auslastung haben, kann es sehr schwierig sein, einen Termin für ein Fotoshooting für ein Hotel zu finden. Das ist die größte Herausforderung: Die Zeit zu finden, den Raum einzurichten und sicherzustellen, dass man überhaupt das Wissen dazu hat. Welche Blickwinkel? Von was sollte man das Bild machen? Wie kann man das im Rahmen des Budgets machen? Wie viele Jahre dauert es, bis man das nächste Fotoshooting machen muss?
Natalie Kimball: Es ist eine aufwendige aber wichtige Investition. Und jeder Geschäftsführer wird sich fragen: “Was ist mein Return on Investment?” Selbst wenn die Auslastung um 2 % steigt, ist das nicht genug.
Inhalte sind ein Verkaufsförderungsinstrument, und die OTAs haben uns das bewiesen. Es gibt einen Grund, warum jeder von ihnen Badezimmerfotos verlangt.
Ich glaube, es geht darum, dass ein Hotel nicht mehr darüber nachdenken muss, welches Foto wichtig ist und wie man es bekommt. Es geht um die Automatisierung. Und haben wir dann das Recht, das Foto auf jedem Kanal zu verwenden, der Zugang zu dieser Hosting-Plattform hat?
There’s also a lot happening in the pillar categories. Many of these vendors have made advancements that are welcome in their respective categories and I expect they will have even more of this in the future. A high demand need on this front is bringing legacy systems to the cloud and often upgrading their functionality at the same time. This is an expensive proposition for technology companies for many reasons, but usually considered a necessity. Further to this, legislation in the area of privacy has already begun to affect the technologies and how businesses apply them.
Distribution is a key area and is a complex maze for many hotel companies. Recent years have caused more brand and chain level functionality to migrate to the property level, placing pressure on brands to innovate. The industry’s newly connected distribution paths create a lot of potential. As a prime example, Shiji’s Distribution Solutions connects areas of the world that were much less accessible as recently as five or ten years ago and account well for the global nature of today’s distribution landscape. And these categories are just glimpses into the future and what adding these advanced technologies may do for their business in the proper context.
What changes have you seen in the hospitality tech landscape over the years? Have there been certain types of technology that have grown in importance?
I alluded to the migration to Cloud services and Data Privacy, but let’s go deeper. These remain at the forefront of most corporate agendas. Legislation like GDPR in Europe or similar laws in the US and many other countries continues to have a significant effect on how businesses use and change the technologies that support their operations. It affects your website, booking engine, marketing systems and the data management across nearly every marketing system. Shiji has made foundational investments in this area by taking a rather unique approach to managing this aspect of consumer data, especially within its newest systems.
Regarding the actual types of technologies, business priorities have changed rapidly in recent months and caused waves of change across technology decisions and priorities. As examples, Digital Ordering Systems, Payments and Mobile Solutions have increased in prominence and caused companies to make rapid decisions regarding this timely technology. Some hotels are also finding time to replace their pillar technologies and are considering new PMS and POS solutions. Some restaurants are taking the same approach with their POS software and hardware and are realizing the Food Delivery Services and Food Marketplaces are changing marketing priorities. Yet others are being cautious and waiting for business to rebound before making the investment.
Increasing the time horizon beyond this, we found many other trends as an industry. Guest surveys were essentially replaced by Reputation Management solutions. Many hotel brands have embarked on a journey along the Mobile Solutions path. Restaurants have witnessed major changes within the POS category, including the addition of modules to address Digital Ordering. Payment related products have increased an incredible amount creating more options for consumers and businesses to make and accept payments, respectively.
How are vendors responding to these changes to better support their customers?
Many vendors have taken recent opportunities to adjust their core products and add new modules to address current business needs. While revenue within travel segments was extraordinarily disrupted, it caused many vendors to innovate and prepare for the future despite the overabundance of unknowns. We also noticed many new entrants in selected segments as previously mentioned. All of these creative solutions have entered the market in search of clients.
This creates even more choice than existed before the pandemic. The ability to find solutions, especially those that cover multiple categories or complex business needs, is very powerful for a business leader who is creating a roadmap for their company’s future. Capsolve’s research solves this proliferation issue and makes the identification and research portion of an evaluation a task measured in days or hours instead of weeks or months. The value of this research and knowledge base persists into the evaluation and may even support the implementation cycle if desired.
However, I don’t want to get too far into that now. You can read Capsolve’s Professional Review of Shiji’s solutions to get more insight into the unique value of this market leading product set.
To read Capsolve’s Professional Review of Shiji’s products, click here.
To learn more about Capsolve, click here.