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OH Connect in San Diego: Day 1 Highlights

What does CERN’s Large Hadron Collider – one of the world’s most-complex machines ever built – have in common with hoteliers improving their business?

They both require making sense of unimaginable quantities of data to enhance the work that they do, whether it’s deciphering the universe or uniquely personalizing the guest experience for every individual.

And they both benefit from Oracle solutions.

Grasping the importance of using technology to tap data and, more importantly, learning how to use Oracle innovations to achieve it summarized the first full day of Oracle Hospitality Connect, which kicked off Jan. 29.

The company’s premier industry event, held at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, assembled North America’s top hoteliers, industry experts and Oracle leadership. The forum serves to share technology best practices and address hospitality’s most-pressing topics – and the critical role Oracle solutions can play in tackling them.

The escalating need to capitalize on hospitality technology is attributable to several factors, not the least of which is an anticipated economic slowdown. After a historic 10-year bull market in the US, as measured by RevPAR growth, experts are predicting “things to flatten out,” said Alex Alt, Oracle Hospitality’s senior vice president and general manager. In such an environment, he added, there will be fewer opportunities to open new properties, meaning even greater reliance on technology to improve operational efficiency and boost financial performance.

Such pressure is being compounded by a confluence of industry trends – including short-term rentals, security concerns, sustainability, and payment evolution – that has made perpetual change hospitality’s “new normal.”

According to Alt, Oracle Hospitality is well positioned to help its customers navigate a turbulent marketplace, because it can leverage parent Oracle’s commitment and resources to drive innovation; since 2004, Oracle has invested more than $64 billion in research and development.

That level of commitment has yielded the Oracle Autonomous Database, the world’s first, which is “self-driving, self-securing and self-repairing.” What does that mean? It redefines database management by using machine learning and automation to eliminate human labor, human error and manual tuning.

The Oracle Autonomous Database also reduces IT cost and complexity and ensures higher reliability, security and operational efficiency. Which explains why CERN, the renowned particle physics laboratory, uses it to manage the data collected from the thousands of sensors in the Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile-long particle accelerator buried underground at the French-Swiss border.

Oracle’s relentless pursuit of innovation is manifesting in Oracle Hospitality solutions, which also are incorporating artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation. As a result, OH customers, for example, are receiving new features and functionalities in OPERA Cloud every nine weeks, according to Laura Calin, vice president of strategy for Oracle Hospitality.

Such rapid innovation means hoteliers can outpace change by gaining the ability to increasingly personalize the guest experience and capitalize on platforms that enable security and compliance. Those efforts are being complemented by Oracle Hospitality’s new “open API” strategy to better facilitate integrations.

“We understand that you’re most likely building a best-of-breed digital ecosystem that comprises multiple applications from multiple vendors, and that it’s our job to make sure that our software is extremely integratable with those other applications – and that we make that very easy for you to accomplish,” said Darko Vukovic, director of Oracle Hospitality integration strategy.

Using data effectively to create a “unified guest experience” also means ensuring PMS and POS platforms work better together, said Courtney Walton, who oversees hotel food and beverage strategy. It’s one of the driving principles behind the collaborative development of OPERA Cloud and Simphony Cloud point of sale, which will enable the exchange of guest information and preferences from one platform to the other – giving staff a more comprehensive understanding about their guests so they can deliver better personalized experiences.

Having the right technology also is crucial to address the industry’s growing emphasis on total revenue per available room (TRevPar).

“The amount of revenue that’s not associated with rooms – figuring out how to maximize that revenue opportunity is a big part of what we’re all trying to get at,” said Jeff Doane, Accor’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “The challenge is having the appropriate technology to be able to manage it.”

Oracle Hospitality customers who have made the move to OPERA Cloud, resoundingly echoed its benefits.

“You’re doing away with the cabling, the older servers, the old big server rooms, and you’re really transitioning to the fun things – the tablets and the tools that you can put in your frontline staff’s hands,” said Steven Schultz, director of rooms for Banff Park Lodge. “The biggest wins are that it’s mobile, and it’s access from wherever.”

Added Doug Leckie, senior vice president, cast and guest systems, Disney Parks and Resorts: “Where this platform is headed, this is the future. There’s zero reason to avoid it.”

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