We live in an interconnected world. Imagine trying to live without internet access. Mobile devices have become an extension of ourselves – the average person uses at least 10 applications a day. Technology is so ingrained in our daily lives that we often take for granted everything going on behind the scenes, especially how apps work together to share information in order to do what we ask them to do. This applies not only to our personal lives but to how we work, including hotel software we use every day.
As a simple example, think about a standard price comparison website that returns updated pricing and availability from multiple sites in just a few seconds. The website allows the user to browse multiple establishments in a city, check hotel locations on a map, rent cars, book activities, and ultimately process payment simultaneously. The website developers could have built a web-scraping model or an entire architecture to do this, but apart from all the time and effort spent, they would have had constant coordination problems whenever anything had to be updated on any of the other sites they scraped information from. Instead, they use integration, which automates the coordination between applications, making everyone’s life easier.
An API is simply the connection point between two applications – it is the bridge that makes the connection possible.
Hotel Software: Integrations & APIs
An integration is the connection between software to allow access to certain data from one app to another. This is possible, in great part, thanks to the existence of Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs. To illustrate, imagine many years ago, sending a messenger pigeon to ask for soldiers to go to battle. The pigeon delivers the message, and the recipient sends the pigeon back to the sender. In this example, the pigeon is the API. It’s really that simple. An API is simply the connection point between two applications – it is the bridge that makes the connection possible. See the excellent chart below from Techtalk.travel to illustrate the concept in further detail.
Let’s look at how APIs function in the hospitality world. A Property Management System (PMS) is the core of a hotel tech stack, and every piece of data flows through it via API. PMS integrations are primarily focused on improving guest acquisition by allowing hoteliers to connect with Booking Engines, Global Distribution Systems (GDS), Central Reservation Systems (CRS) and Channel Managers. These technologies have succeeded in exposing hotels to Metasearch Engines and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) to maximize revenue and reduce overbooking risks among other benefits. Although these integrations are common, hospitality distribution is transforming at a fast pace and new applications (for instance, Guest Experience tools) are expected to play a key role in the future of the industry due to their improved ability to support APIs. This will allow technologies to work seamlessly, increase employee efficiency, and boost guest satisfaction.
Tech is the Key
Technology has become a core component of business, driven by guest expectations and the way they (really, we) experience the world. We’ve seen a shift in the way people travel, but also in how hotel brands manage their operations. Not only do they have tech teams involved, but also the sales, marketing, revenue and distribution teams sharing the same goal: to win back business by making the guest experience simple, fast, and still personalized, while at the same time reducing operational costs and improving service quality. No small feat, right?
Technology is the key to accomplishing this. Yet, a considerable number of hoteliers still refuse to adapt. They claim expensive initial investments and unknown technical challenges (why invest in complex system migrations if existing implementations can get the job done?). Hoteliers worry about the costs, but ignore the opportunity costs of not optimizing resources. The main issue is the inability to connect their legacy system to new technology providers (if that’s even possible).
Analyzing data from current guest experiences prove that hotels that implement the most up-to-date solutions end up meeting guest expectations and generating higher revenues than those that are not willing to take risks. Yet this aversion to change ultimately exposes operational inefficiencies and can potentially damage guest satisfaction.
Tech Powering Guest Experience Management
The pioneers in our field are shifting focus towards guest experience management and the implementation of tools like contactless solutions (mobile payments, online check-in, kiosks, mobile room keys, etc.), integrated messaging channels, and Artificial Intelligence-based solutions like chatbots.
While the search for an all-in-one solution continues, the reality is that no single system can do everything. Luckily, publicly available APIs (open APIs) expand the possibilities to integrate and facilitate multiple interactions and reduce dependence among applications, adding value for both hotels and guests. Despite the implementation requiring dedication and technical knowledge, marketplaces and Software as a Service (SaaS) providers like ReviewPro have emerged to empower hoteliers to benefit from cloud-based technologies. The best of these provide faster, more flexible, affordable, and secure integrations.
To summarize, as better guest and user experiences occur, more hotels will shift to modern, advanced solutions, making industry-wide change inevitable, and forcing all hoteliers to adapt. With hotel guest data, the list of new capabilities is virtually endless, but improving the execution of current tasks is also key for success. Moving from legacy hotel frameworks to API-first suppliers that provide seamless integrations is the necessary first step for any hotel that wants to not only survive post-pandemic but thrive.