Land Carlo Cagalingan, CIO, Robinsons Corporation
On the age of ready information, ignorance is now a choice. Hoteliers cannot ignore the new trends in technology - now, more than ever. The first step is a mind shift, from the traditional and conventional to the radical. The likes of Air BnB will eat us up if we do not innovate. We need to be like these newcomers who use technology passionately. Cloud computing, as it is, is a remarkable concept in technology. I am part of the sector of IT leaders who are wary of such and still prefer the traditional approach - setting up mostly on-premise systems. The hospitality industry however can benefit from this setup when hotels want to build operations quickly with a minimum amount of capital expenditure. Cloud computing also promises accurate data across platforms for the customer. Most cloud providers offer services for any device and for any location where there is Internet connectivity.
"The seamless integration of in the cloud could offer more accessibility for both employees and guests"
When we need to talk about technology, CRM and Business Intelligence are the two key components that have to be utilized more effectively to explore better business outcomes. So, placing these two techniques in the cloud could offer more accessibility for both employees and guests. Seamless integration with front desk application down to concierge would get this act right. A good CRM lets the business review customer behavior, offer rewards, and keep track of customer preferences. However, most CRMs have this chink in the armor when the guest is already in front of the check-in counter - the front desk personnel needs to update theCRM, the front desk and the property management system. A system that integrates these would do wonders in customer check-in experience.Guests will always find the most value for money and at the right location. These information needs to be present or readily available in every marketing channel enabled by technology. A good SEO and marketing partnerships is key.We need to make the information about our hotels more concise and attractive to our customers.
For the Philippines, the key differentiator of the hospitality industry will be the internet speed and overall experience when one uses the internet inside the hotel. I see the battle to be is who can offer the fastest and most reliable guest
Wi-Fi. There is a huge challenge locally on internet bandwidth pricing and we only offer a few MBPS to each guest, sometimes even lower at peak occupancy. Hotels will need to increase bandwidth soon. Room costing with drastically change if Telco pricing doesn't change.
However, increasing bandwidth will not solve the problem. The need will increase proportionally with the increase in bandwidth. Guests will never get enough. The key here is a good bandwidth manager that IT can control depending on demands.
Evaluating the Technology Challenges that Lies Ahead
I didn't see any drastic change in my role as CIO. It has always been an innovator and business support pillar of the company. Always listening to the business strategies and what IT can do to enable and support these strategies.
In the past two years though saw a role that’s being more stringent in terms of cost controls and being cautious on innovations. The best technology may be right for a competitor but not with us. The role has been more "wait-and-see" rather than be the first to innovate or implement. Big budgets don't mean freedom on expenditures; each peso must have the best return. The delays in the procurement process are worth the wait.
You are what you settle for. What define you as a leader are the choices and decisions that you make.The success of your organization depends on what its leaders settle for. In my years as an IT leader I've had many regrets in the choices I've made. The only way that you settle for the right decision is when you've made enough mistakes that you would know the right one. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. To ease this fright, be ready with the consequences and be ready for mitigation plans if your plans didn't pan out as expected.