There is a great deal to be said about attending Kindergarten. It is the beginning of one’s educational journey that will hopefully have a lasting impact on his or her life. If the career journey you have chosen is within the hotel technology industry, then the impact of Kindergarten will likely be even more significant. I am not suggesting that at the tender age of 4 or 5 you will start to code the next great guest engagement platform. Nor will you be given the educational value that will ensure you fully understand API’s or XML Schema. However, at the core of what we learn in Kindergarten are some guiding principles that will always impact the hotel tech industry.
First, let’s take a look at the basic curriculum framework for Kindergarten which focuses on some very basic elements of communication, the understanding of community, and continuous learning. Below are the main components of today’s Kindergarten classes:
- Aesthetic Expression
- Personal Development
- Technological Competence
- Spiritual and Moral Development
I would like to concentrate on three key sections to delve a little deeper into their impact on the hotel technology landscape.
Communication is at the core of hospitality industry, whether it occurs during the booking process, on-property or any point during a trip. It is the bedrock on which the hotel industry stands. If we don’t communicate effectively with our guests and exceed their needs, then we will likely lose their trust and business. Communication at the technological level is also paramount to the industry’s overall success or failure. We have embedded a myriad of systems into the hotel operations world, and if these systems do not communicate with each other, there can be catastrophic outcomes that detrimentally affect the hotel’s operations, profits, and relationship with their guest.
Problem-solving may seem basic, however, in our industry, it can be quite challenging. The demands of our guests tend to drive the development of solutions and platforms that will address their needs. Today’s guests are much more difficult to read and often quite fickle. Mobile has entered the fray and is now the primary tool for guest engagement on a daily basis. The industry has jumped at the challenge to address this mobile-centric environment by developing a plethora of guest engagement applications, guest communications platforms and almost everything else under the sun. Have we solved a problem or developed one? The core of problem-solving is understanding the issues that are affecting the guest or the industry at large. Sometimes we do this in a bubble and develop what we think the guest will need – without ever asking their opinion. I sincerely wish that more technology providers invested time interviewing guests and asking them questions that are genuinely relevant to the application or solution development. Grassroots problems-solving through the use of real-world market intelligence is key to the success.
Having technological competence included in as part of the Kindergarten curriculum is quite an eye-opener. In our advanced, connected world, children are much more in tune with technology. Such immersion will bring an amazing amount of knowledge and insight into our industry in the near future. Whenever I am traveling, I see children everywhere glued to their smartphones and tablets where they are continually learning unless of course, they are watching movies, but I guess it depends on the movie. In our unique industry, we must always be learning to innovate. We need to learn from our guests, from our peers, and from our mistakes, but most importantly, learning is a constant. We, as an industry, need to cultivate young minds and support them so we can create the most relevant and useful technology to our guests.
I personally don’t remember very much from my earlier years, but I do understand that those years had an enormous impact on my life and career today. The people around me, the teachers, the mentors, my parents and siblings, all influenced who I am today. Each and every day I am learning from people within our industry, and I thank them for publishing provocative articles, developing great software and for being innovative. It all started with Kindergarten.
About the Author
Alan E. Young is the Co-Founder and President of Puzzle Partner, the leading agency specializing in hospitality and travel technology marketing. Previously, Alan has held executive level positions with start-up companies such as Newtrade Technologies, (acquired by Expedia), Hotel Booking Solutions (acquired by IBS Software) and TrustYou. Alan is past Chair of The Board of Directors of The OpenTravel Alliance and been very involved with other industry associations most notably AHLA, HEDNA, and HTNG. With over two decades of experience in the travel and hospitality technology world, Alan specializes in helping innovative companies achieve winning performance and dramatic growth. You can connect with Alan on LinkedIn.