Exclusive Interview: The Future of Hotel Technology
For hoteliers looking to stay on top of the latest in hotel technology, it can be difficult to separate the flash-in-the-pan trends from immediate necessities. We had the opportunity to speak with Philip von Ditfurth, Managing Director at hetras, a company that offers cloud-based hotel management software.
Philip, you worked in many different industries before moving into the hospitality industry. What is the main difference you have noticed working with hotels, and what can hotels learn from your experience in other industries?
Other industries, especially those with higher consolidation, often have higher levels of automation and standardization. Even though the benefits are obvious, it is still hard to convince hoteliers that standards can help dramatically free time for the staff to let them act like hosts again. For example, with the right technology, staff can walk around the hotel, meeting guests’ specific needs, rather than standing behind the reception desk with a long queue of customers.
What is your take on the current state of technology in hotels?
The rise of the self-controlled guest journey has just started and will shift further towards mobile. There are still a lot of opportunities for better convergence of technologies to improve the guest experience. The technology already exists that would allow guests to check in anywhere from their mobile device, use their mobile phone as a room key, and check out without stopping at the front desk. Technology means greater convenience for guests and staff alike.
What is the importance of technology that has an API and allows hoteliers to export and import data from different systems? Can you give an example of a good use case from one of your clients?
The days of big monolithic systems are gone. Interoperability of loosely coupled systems using API’s is the way to go. There are many use cases that show the benefits of dynamic data exchange supported by strong API’s. For hetras as property management systems, two of the most obvious API use cases are the connectivity with a good customer relationship management platform like Revinate or to revenue management applications. But hetras also provides very good solutions with specialized parties for banqueting, conferencing or housekeeping and maintenance. All of them are based on our open and self-service API.
What do you foresee hotel technology will look like in five years?
We will see many more platforms and applications with open interfaces that allow hoteliers to choose those that work best for them. These will very much rely on self-service, so hoteliers will be able to assemble them for their own hotel concept, whether it is classic, modern, green, or anything in between.
Philip has been involved in the software industry for over twenty-five years, during which he built the first Internet-based tracking system at German Post DHL and co-founded the company conject, which became the market leader for real estate lifecycle management. Based in Munich, Philip enjoys an active lifestyle that includes cycling, running, skiing, traveling, cooking, and spending as much time as possible with his wife and two children.