The Vision Thing

By Reid A. Paul, Editor-in-Chief | May 01, 2005

Often it seems visionaries get a bad rap. On television at least, visionaries are typically portrayed as kooks, one small step from mass murderers. In these cases, seeing into the future is portrayed as more a curse or a delusion than a necessary skill. We at Hospitality Technology, take quite a different view. To our minds, the 2005 Hospitality Visionaries serve an essential role helping us all map the future of our industry.

It is all too easy for all of us to focus on the here and now and mounting piles of work we all must manage. However, without a sense of what is to come in one year or four, we also risk falling further and further behind. When technology projects sometimes take years to roll out, knowing what move to make next requires more than a little bit of fortune telling.

In this month's cover story, "Vision 2010" (page 19), HT asks 10 industry leaders nominated by our readers to describe their vision for the future of restaurant and lodging technology. Whether it is a belief in the importance of in-room or in-kitchen technologies, the transformative possibilities of RFID or self-service, our visionaries map a course for the future of our industry. You may not agree with everything, but we credit these "leaders" for getting the discussion started.

We, too, have some thoughts on the future of restaurant and lodging technology. In the spirit of fairness, I'll go out on a limb and offer my own "vision" of hospitality technology in 2010:

While many restaurants have developed strong reputations for flipping burgers (or steaks, or tacos) quickly, in the past the same could not be said for the industry's ability to change business processes, let alone technology systems. The industry's attempts to react to the short-lived Atkins diet fad, is only the latest case in point. Over the next few years, as more major restaurant companies align IT and business strategy, they will begin to react more quickly enterprise-wide. The closer that alignment, the faster restaurants will react to market conditions, new nutritional trends, and business growth opportunities.

True hospitality has always been about the personal touch. Hotel companies in every segment have succeeded—or failed--based on their ability to make guests feel at home, comfortable, and taken care of. While that over-arching sentiment will not change dramatically, the meaning of "service" will undergo a slow, but steady transformation.

Increasingly guests view self-service as a necessary extension of customer service. Guests will expect to order room service or make a restaurant reservation without picking up a phone. Most importantly, they will expect these services to be transparent. Just as guests do not want to learn a new alarm clock at every hotel, they'll want easy interfaces at every touch point The hotels that can meet these guest's desires will carry the mark of true guest service.

Every restaurant and hotels needs to have a vision for the future. Let us know what your vision is for 2010.

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