How do I Select a Hotel Technology Vendor?
Hotel Technology Vendor, Certified vendor, approved partner, listed supplier…. they go by many names. The industry is well populated with these players. All bidding for your attention, your time and most importantly, your money.
In the infancy of the technological evolution of the guestroom, solutions were allowed to develop organically. Local providers, international vendors, someone’s mate, all supplied pieces of the puzzle. We hoped this would grant functionality to the guest.
Of course, more often than not we ended up with a solution that didn’t quite deliver as expected. Funny that.
Consequently big chains began to certify their Hotel Technology Vendors.
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As the noughties gave way to the “teenies” or whatever the current decade will become known as it was clear at a corporate level that many of the major players needed a plan.
Out of this realisation came the development of 2 key terms that are used almost constantly within the Hotel Technology space:
Hotel Brand Technology Standards
Here, we will focus on point 2, certified vendors.
“What is a certified vendor?” I hear you ask. Well, I assume you’re asking by reading this post.
Clearly a dictionary visit is not required, like in our last post, let’s go straight for a stab at an industry definition (It must be easier than “things”, right?):
Certified Hotel Technology Vendor Demystified:
A solution provider or partner (vendor) who can not only deliver the technology you require but also has met the standards imposed by the Hotel Brand’s Technology department.
I had only just said that this post would not be about brand standards, and yet here we are bringing them up.
Well hotel brand technology standards do form part of the standards to which a hotel technology vendor can be certified.
Essentially these standards relate only to the functionality of the system. Here we have a deeper set of requirements about how a solution provider can deliver. These are based on things like:
- Regional/global coverage
- 24 hour support centres
- Demonstrable experience of meeting Service Level Agreement’s
- Reporting & Dashboards
- API’s/Integration options
- PMS integration
- Branding support
- Ability to install and support brand approved hardware
- Certified engineers
All the above points are critical to a successful vendor, but not necessarily critical to a deployment you may be focussed on.
Major chains hold readily available lists of certified vendors, for all the solutions you may require.
Nonetheless, some are more tightly regulated, and some less so. Some solution providers offer more than one solution, others specialise in something specific. Also, to be frank, some are just, how can I put this…… Better than others.
I’ve spent many years of putting myself in the shoes of a hotel General Manager (GM). Only now can see how unbelievably hard it is too differentiate between a number of hotel technology vendors. All of whom are certified. Delivering a solution to the same standards. Giving the same experience to the guest.
Yet, with those many years of experience, I can tell you, the difference is astounding.
The concern is often the one differentiator is price. We already identified that all the vendors SHOULD be delivering the same solution. These solution providers, riding the certified vendor gravy train, know that being on the list was the golden ticket to the big numbers.
Subsequently, brands are now wise to this, and things are changing, but that’s for another article!
Some have used this to build a solid foundation. They constantly deliver excellent solutions, staying close to the brand corporate representatives, and requirements.
These vendors lead the way in technical innovation. Others, well they cling on by their fingertips.
Who will have the best price?
The company who invests millions a year in R&D and a solid support structure? Or the company clinging on, with an off-the-shelf product?
The answer? We honestly don’t know. We really don’t. Hardware requirements, geographical constraints, staffing, cash-flow, product features are all deciders in how the price is created.
The above goes to show why we should not rely on price as a differentiator. Yes, the lowest bid may be from a struggling provider, but it may be from a solid vendor, who just really wants the business.
Maybe one provider has a local presence which reduces their overheads, allowing a more competitive price? Perhaps one partner can supply overseas labour, but they have a tight timescale for the install? Discounting a bid on price, be it high or low? Naïve.
The Hidden Cost of Install
What about your costs of install? Surely this is the price you pay right? What about those tiny lines on the quotes and offers? How many rooms do you need to provide? How many engineers require canteen access 3 times a day? What about the speed of install? How many rooms will I have out of service? What about these forgotten costs….. Someone has to pay for them. Most of although, that dreaded term PCO.
PCO, or Project Change Order, is the reasoning a vendor will use to charge extra once the project has commenced. It’s pretty standard across all industries.
I totally agree that if there is a change, a delay or something out of the hands of the vendor then they reserve the right to charge for it. Any reasonable person would agree.
What a hotelier should be aware of, is any exclusions that you think are included.
Beware the small print.
Absolutely the last thing you need is an ever spiralling budget. Imagine you have a team on-site. Your project manager now states something is excluded from the budget, but required to progress the project!
“How do I select one?”
We’ve established that selecting a certified vendor is challenging. Partly due to the fact that all offerings are meeting the same requirements, yet our one differentiator, cost, is not reliable.
The way to select one? You grill them.
Figuratively, obviously, but get them to show you why their solution is the best. Probably not quite as aggressively as our chap below!
Today’s GM’s, Operations Directors, Finance Directors, Chief Engineers and IT managers are stretched, there is no question.
Running multiple properties, dealing with franchise owners and corporate contacts is a challenging and time-consuming activity. There is no time for issuing requests, multiple meetings, visits, tours and surveys. This is where HotelTCS can help you.
Stress Relief in Hotel Technology Vendor Selection
Imagine removing all the stress of finding a solution. Imagine knowing the actual project budget, rather than asking owners for more money.
HotelTCS offer a mature Request For Proposal (RFP) creation, management, vendor interview and selection and finally vendor management process.
We can provide requirements gathering, site survey, and business case building, to save you effort and cost. Guestrooms for surveyors aren’t free, right?
Begin with an initial request to HotelTCS and end with your solution fully deployed.
We will use our industry experience to do the “Grilling” for you. We are your differentiator.
The industry experience we bring allows us to select the right provider for you. We ensure the best price and make sure they deliver the solution exactly as specified.
Contact HotelTCS now to understand our vendor processes, to let us show you how we can make your project a success, from start to finish.
Hotel Technology Services
Here at HotelTCS, we are experts in Hotel Technology. Involved in hotel technology and want to know how we can help you avoid costly mistakes? Contact us now.
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You may also enjoy some of our other articles, such as “A Hotel is Just a Building”, “Can Intelligent Hotels find their voice?” and “The Fate of Hotel HSIA”.
About the Author
James Harrison is a technology consultant who’s main focus is how hotels use technology in the Guest room. James has a passion for both technology and the written word, producing regular content on technology in the hospitality industry. Connect with him for more insights – LinkedIn.
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