Technology in the hospitality scene has transformed over the past few decades. What started as centralized, server based systems has evolved into specialized, cloud-based technology. As the landscape continues to change, so do the requirements necessary for hotels to be successful.
One common topic that comes up when discussing technology with hoteliers is integrations.
But what exactly does it mean to have an integrated system and what should hoteliers look for when researching tech?
In this article, we discuss the definition of software integrations and share insights from Cam Szarapka, an Integrations and Product Specialist and Software Engineer at Event Temple, on what to look for with integrations, the benefits of integrations and why integrated solutions are the future of hotel technology.
Software integration by definition is “the combining of subroutines, software modules or full programs with other software components in order to develop an application or enhance the functionality of an existing one.” In layman’s terms, it’s when two systems are able to talk or pass information to each other.
There are two main types of integrations – one-way and two-way. A one-way integration is where data can be shared from a primary location (source) to a secondary location (target). Any changes made to the data in the target will not be reflected in the source. A two-way sync is when the source and the target’s information sharing can go from source to target and vice versa.
You can start to see how broad the definition of integrated software can be. It’s not as simple as it either connects or it doesn’t. There are so many possibilities in between which can make the topic confusing.
I sat down with integrations specialist and product engineer, Cam, to discuss integrations 101 and what hoteliers can do to ensure they’re purchasing the right product for them.
So what should hoteliers look at in regards to hotel tech integrations?
“The answer really is: it depends! Integrations come in so many shapes and sizes, some small, some very deep and complex. When somebody says their solution is integrated it’s really important to dig a little deeper and understand what they mean by that. Integrated is definitely a buzzword these days and everybody has different expectations for what it means — you don’t want to end up with software that doesn’t meet your needs!”
Cam believes hoteliers should always start their sales process by having a salesperson walk them through how the system will accomplish standard flows and tasks you would need to do.
Once you have a solid foundation of the software and potential connections, you can dig deeper. Here are a few topics Cam recommends discussing before making a purchasing decision:
Define Your Needs:
What do you specifically need the integration to do? Let’s look at email integration as an example.
“There is so much you can do from your email app. You can receive, compose and delete emails, organize them into folders, and even set-up forwarding rules. When asking if an application integrates with Gmail, you really want to be specific about which of those functions you need to be able to do through the integration.”
“One of the hardest features to get right when integrating two systems is synchronization. It’s important to understand if synchronization is something the integration offers, and if so what and when does it sync? Asking these questions will give you a better understanding of how an integration can automate your workflow and where any roadblocks could be presented.”
Bugs and Support:
“Even the best software has the occasional bug. Combine two systems together and it’s almost impossible to avoid. From chat messaging in Intercom, documentation, and insightful in-app warnings and error messages, it’s important any integration helps you solve issues that come up. I would absolutely ask about how to manage the integration and how will you know if any errors occur.”
What are the benefits of an integrated system?
“The biggest benefit of integrations is that they allow you, the customer, to use the most optimal products. In the past we’ve had to deal with monolithic, mega systems that are the jack of all trades but master of none. What’s so exciting about integrations is that they allow companies to focus on building software that is incredible at solving their specific niche problem. Goodbye slow, ancient systems that never get updated. Goodbye features you don’t need (and shouldn’t pay for!). The future is lean and collaborative.”
Why are integrated solutions the future of hotel tech?
“These days, hoteliers are not demanding less features or functionality from the software they buy. The goal to provide the best guest experience is ever-alive and the right technology can bolster your efforts. The reality is that hotels are asking which software should I buy and not if they should buy software. What you want is software that is the best at solving the hotel’s problems, and plays well with others.”
Technology is here to simplify and streamline our everyday activities. We are starting to see technology solutions become more specialized. As this trend continues, tech companies need to build software that is able to communicate with other systems. Buyers need to research and prioritize the integrations that are necessary for success. You need to ask the right questions and understand the functionality of an integration to deem if it is worth the investment.
In the end, technology should be simple, automated, and connected. Look for companies that build products with these top of mind and you will find yourself with a well rounded, integrated tech stack.