When the news came into market in October about the new relationship between Hongkong & Shanghai Hotels’ Peninsula Hotels teaming up with China based hospitality technology provider Shiji it immediately caught my attention. In some ways it took me a little by surprise. Then I reflected.
Why reflect on an industry where technology sales are often and regular? For me there are direct impacts and milestones on my own hospitality technology journey. From a personal and industry perspective there is much to reflect on and more to learn about the business of technology in the hospitality industry.
Peninsula Hotels as a brand stemming from the early days in Hong Kong to the original flagship hotel is a storied one. The Kadoorie family, Shanghai and the heady times of Asia in the late 19th and early 20th century, World War 2 are tied into the roots of this company. The Peninsula Hotel and subsequent hotels that have come after it are some of the most gracious hospitality experiences available in the industry. Naturally a 5-star luxury product.
Although the highlight is Peninsula’s approach to the guest and customer relationships. I’ve had the pleasure to stay at multiple properties in the group and these are memorable experiences. Peninsula go to a great effort to know their guests well. Supported by technology.
It is an old adage that people do business with people. This gradual migration demonstrates that truth. Through multiple technology company providers and products, one of the factors that has remained common is the people. Many of the people that established the trust in the earlier relationships have transitioned though the companies. They are now with Shiji.
The best relationships are a two way commitment between the parties. There’s a great deal to be gained by both companys as they embark on a very visible technology journey together. Peninsula Hotels are a traditionally loyal customer and business partner and they make a deep commitment to getting the most from the relationship. In Shiji they will find a willing technology company keen to learn from their operational experience and improve their product and service offering to the industry. People will cement the trust.
Peninsula are known for traditionally high standards of customer service. It is a brand hallmark and a minimum expectation from their customers in alignment with their brand promise.
The great challenge providing technology to the hospitality industry is that as a vendor you serve a customer who is in the service business for a living. It follows that they expect their technology partners to meet their needs in the way that they serve their own customers.
That is what it means to be in hospitality technology. The technology only gets you in the door. Your service is what keeps you there.
Buying a technology product is the first step. The next investment is ensuring that the technology is well used. Then constant engagement with the technology partner to continually improve the product over time. Peninsula are vigorously involved in product improvement and many of today’s standard features resulted from their energy, input, and agitation for change.
Doing meaningful things with technology in a business takes time. Peninsula’s relationship with Fidelio began in the 80’s and expanded to a point where the brand deployed almost every product in the portfolio as Fidelio transitioned to Micros over 20+ years. Peninsula’s core technology leadership team has also been a cohesive team for more than 20 years supporting consistency and follow through on their broader strategy and execution of plans for their technology ecosystem.
Before I began my own journey leading technology for hospitality companys, Peninsula was my enterprise technology client in my time at Micros Fidelio. While I was delivering my expertise to our client, I was reciprocally benefiting through observation of the technology program management and application to business through Shane Izaks and Fraser Hickox.
Hallmarks of Peninsula’s program include discipline, high standards, rigor and thoroughness. They adopt a long-term approach to technology in the organization applying energy and detailed orientation to the adoption and deployment of technology into company business process and a focus on the guest.
Benefit from a different perspective.
One of the more difficult achievements for a technology vendor to undertake is platform migration. I am referring to the underlying technology foundation change that supports the end user software application. Databases, programming languages and tools and structural layers. Not what the user sees and engages with.
Some technology companies perish because they are not able to make the transition. Others undertake the massive migration of technology, development, operations and infrastructure as they lead their customers through these major change transitions.
Shiji COO, Kevin King cited their willingness to make the transition to cloud platforms and ground up technology build as a key factor in the suitability of their software for Peninsula Hotels future.
The world has changed remarkably in the last 30 years. It has become smaller, more connected and we are now in the early stages of what is considered to be the Asian century. Both Hongkong & Shanghai Hotels and Shiji are based in Asia and in China proper with Hong Kong transitioning toward a formal part of greater China post the 1997 handover. Their location and shared cultural understanding will be key to shared growth and success in the future.
Overall we learn that change is constant. Although the more things change, the more things stay the same in relation to the contributing factors that bring about the confidence to make such a major technology shift. Exciting times ahead for my friends involved at Shiji and Peninsula. Perhaps not as exciting for friends at Oracle Hospitality, although the tenure of the relationship has also stood the test of time.
If you would like to discuss the idiosyncrasies of technology in the hospitality industry and building blocks to your success as a technology provider or hospitality company TRAVHOTECH can help. You can contact us at email@example.com.