Hotel Tech 101: How Everything Works Together

with Ira Vouk

Even though I've spent most of my career working in hospitality tech, it all still feels so complicated. And I'm not alone. The person we’re learning from today, Ira Vouk, recently created a simple illustration of a hotel tech stack - all the pieces you need to run a modern hotel efficiently - and it went viral, with tens of thousands of people viewing and quickly sharing it.

Ira is a former hotel operator, technology company founder, the author of multiple publications on hospitality tech - and teaches students about this at San Diego State University in California. Today, she explains the hotel tech landscape, teaches us how to shop for technology, and then gives her predictions on how technology will evolve.

We’re also learning about:

  • “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

  • “Upcycling” interesting buildings

  • RM professionals as ideal candidates for C-suite roles

  • …and much more

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Find the Best Hotel Property Management System For You

Research shows hospitality leaders say property management systems are their most important piece of hospitality technology today because they power nearly every other technology, enabling all aspects of operations and guest services.

How do you know if you have the right property management system? Shopping is hard. Many software review sites are filled with handpicked, happy customers - and it’s tough to understand what will be a good fit for you.

That’s why I am building an independent, unfiltered guide with and for other hospitality providers, so you can see what it's really like to work with the different property management systems out there.


Hotel Tech 101: How Everything Works Together

with Ira Vouk

Ira Vouk

Technology plays an invaluable role in what we’re all trying to do in hospitality: delight our guests, make life easier for our teams, and increase profitability as we do this. However, understanding and navigating the complex landscape of all the tech out there can be daunting.

Today, Ira Voulk, a former hotel operator and technology company founder, shares her expertise in hotel tech and provides valuable insights on evaluating and shopping for technology solutions. She also shares her perspective on where technology is heading so you can be aware and prepare now.

Complexity in Hotel Tech

Ira acknowledges the complexity of the hotel technology ecosystem, which often leaves people feeling overwhelmed - even people who have worked for decades in hospitality - or building tech companies like me 🙂 

It's a very, very convoluted environment. Not a lot of people actually understand how to navigate in this complex ecosystem.

Ira Vouk

Beyond the complex ecosystem, one contributing factor is the lack of structured education on hospitality technology in most hospitality schools.

Ira’s mission is to bridge this gap by providing accessible and comprehensive education on hotel technology.

Overview of the Hotel Tech Ecosystem

Ira’s illustration of the hotel tech stack provides a simple overview of the components required to run a modern hotel efficiently:

At the center of this ecosystem lies the Property Management System (PMS), which acts as the hub for valuable reservation data. The PMS is the foundation for other technology solutions, as they rely on integration with the PMS to function effectively.

Ira categorizes hotel technology into operations, distribution, revenue management, sales and marketing, and guest-facing technologies. Each category encompasses a range of software and hardware solutions that cater to different aspects of hotel operations.

How to Evaluate and Shop for Technology

When it comes to evaluating and shopping for technology solutions, Ira advises starting with a clear understanding of your business's specific needs and use cases.

What do you want to accomplish?

By identifying these - and the functionalities required to support these - you can narrow down the search for suitable tech partners. Considering the provider’s ability to support your onboarding process, respond to service issues, and provide regular software updates is crucial.

It’s also important to get feedback from other hospitality professionals who have experience with the technology solution in question. Their insights can provide valuable information beyond what a salesperson may present in a demo.

The Future of Hotel Technology

Ira envisions a greater shift towards a true Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model in hotel technology that makes activating software very simple - and is already seeing this with some property management systems.

PMS providers are already offering marketplaces like an app store that you see on your phone. You go there and immediately see all the vendors that are already connected to this PMS provider. And you just click and get instant access because the integration is already there.

Ira predicts that the market will eventually consolidate, with a smaller number of cloud-based PMS providers offering user-friendly solutions, seamless integrations, and app marketplaces being the only ones who succeed in the long run.

The older dinosaur ones that have large market share are not there yet and probably will never be. That means that they will eventually die. Those who are not investing in building seamless integrations and an app marketplace will go out of business.

Navigating the complex world of hotel technology can be challenging, but the insights shared by Ira today help us all (me included!) get a better understanding of the ecosystem and make better decisions when evaluating and shopping for technology solutions.

As the industry moves towards a truly open, integrated SaaS model, we can look forward to a more streamlined and efficient process of adopting and integrating powerful technology into our operations.

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