For the first time, technology has become a real point of differentiation for hotel companies. As owners and asset managers become more involved and focus on technology and distribution, the pressure will grow for brand companies. It’s great the entire industry recognizes the problem, but the question becomes, how does it get solved? Or worse, what happens if it doesn’t?
After attending the summer season of hotel industry events, I was surprised to see a new found recognition from hotel brand companies that technology has become an urgent priority. It is refreshing to hear executives admitting that they have fallen behind the curve and are desperate for new solutions.
It wasn’t that long ago that technology and distribution were barely mentioned at these events, but now they are often the focus of general sessions at even the biggest investment conferences like NYU. And now we even have newer events like the Revenue Strategy Summit and the Hotel Data Conference where distribution is a main topic on the agenda.
It’s remarkable to see such a transformation, but that’s where my excitement stops. In the next breath, many of the same hotel brand leaders talk about a renewed commitment to building better technology. They want to compete with Expedia, Priceline, and Google by creating their own in-house platforms.
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“It was being used to circumvent case law and proper court procedure to obtain privacy information,” Seiders said. “The police were using these local laws to avoid having to go through judicial review. I think that’s where it became abusive.
More than a decade ago, a group of hotel owners sued Los Angeles. Now their actions have caused reverberations in hotels throughout the country.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 22 in City of Los Angeles v. Patel that the police practice of asking for a hotel’s guest registry without a warrant is unconstitutional.
“It’s certainly providing privacy protection and extending it to companies, both to the company owner and the guests that are there. It’s certainly a win for the hotels,” Attorney Dana Kravetz said.
“This is going to have widespread impact – and already has had widespread impact – on a host of cities and really the industry at large. It’s a powerful decision. It really sets it out pretty clearly as to what the police can or cannot do.”
This ruling goes beyond Los Angeles as so many other U.S. cities have similar ordinances, said Kravetz, managing partner of Michelman & Robinson and chair of the law firm’s hospitality group.
“It’s really a great day for the hotel industry,” said Frank Weiser, the attorney for the group of hotel owners (Patel). “It’s a great day for businesses throughout America.”
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Ed Higgins, vice president of Thousand Islands Insurance Agency in Clayton, N.Y., and vice chair at the Applied Client Network, says he believes that independent agents are missing out on the opportunity that mobile apps provide…Thousand Islands Agency was an early adopter of the MobileProducer, the mobile-app version of Applied System’s agency management platform. For Higgins, the key benefit of the app is the ability to deliver what he calls the “Starbucks experience” for customers.
Four years ago, Apple trademarked the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” With more than 1.2 million offerings in the iTunes App Store—and about 1.4 million in Google Play—it would seem that the phrase is more true than not. However, only a few general-market agent productivity apps exist, and none have more than a few reviews from users.
“It’s a relatively small number of agents who are using insurance-specific apps today,” says Chad Hersh, senior vice president at The Nolan Co., an insurance management consulting firm. “Granted, a lot of agents use general apps on their mobile devices to the extent that many people do in their daily lives and jobs, but the penetration just isn’t there for insurance apps for agents.”
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