Say Hello to ScandiPay!23.4.2023
Embracing Digital Transformation in Hospitality8.8.2023
In today's highly competitive hospitality industry, staying ahead of the curve is essential. Customer expectations are constantly evolving with the introduction of new technologies, making it crucial for hotel owners and restaurant managers to embrace new trends and technologies. To shed light on the impact of technology in the industry, we sat down with Juha Maatala, a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in international management positions within the hotel industry.
Juha Maatala's Unexpected Journey into Hospitality
Q: Juha, can you tell us how you found yourself in the hospitality industry?
Juha: It was quite an unexpected journey, to be honest. Originally, I had planned a career in retail sales. However, after completing my military service, I began contemplating alternative paths. I came across the Hotel & Conference Management program at Laurea University of Applied Sciences, and it piqued my interest. Given my enjoyment of working with people, I decided to apply, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Overcoming Barriers to Technology Adoption in the Hospitality Sector
Q: What are the major challenges hoteliers face in improving the guest experience today?
Juha: From a hotel management perspective, one of the most challenging aspects is finding the right balance between investments and guest experience. Many companies have limited budgets, and striking a balance between achieving the desired service level for their brand and managing expenses becomes a constant battle. It's crucial to make investments that bring value without compromising customer satisfaction.
Q: How has technology influenced hotel operations and the guest experience?
Juha: Technology has had a profound impact on hotel operations, particularly in sales and distribution channels. Online booking platforms like Booking.com and Expedia have revolutionized the way guests reserve hotel rooms, reducing the reliance on traditional methods such as phone calls and letters. Additionally, hotels are exploring ways to leverage technology to enhance the guest experience, with some developing their own apps. While not all customers may embrace these apps, incorporating technology as part of the overall customer service strategy can yield positive outcomes. Furthermore, technology has streamlined back-of-house activities, such as inventory management and housekeeping, resulting in more efficient operations and improved service delivery.
Q: What are the main barriers to technology adoption in the hospitality sector? How can the industry overcome them?
Juha: The hospitality industry faces several barriers to technology adoption, with one of the key obstacles being the integration of Property Management Systems (PMS) with other systems. Smaller players often lack access to these systems, hindering their adoption of technology. Additionally, some guests still prioritize personalized service, especially in high-end hotels. However, certain segments and types of hotels are more likely to embrace technology. To overcome these barriers, it's crucial to understand guests' preferences and invest in technology accordingly. Striking a balance between technology and human interaction is vital to enhancing the guest experience.
Q: How has the hotel industry adapted to a changing world, and how can technology help hoteliers innovate moving forward?
Juha: The hotel industry has been adapting to a changing world by considering customer needs and implementing innovative technologies. However, most of the development occurs at the headquarters level due to resource limitations at individual hotels. Balancing customer needs with the implementation of new technologies remains a challenge for larger companies. Nonetheless, startups are emerging to bridge this gap, and the industry is slowly transforming. For instance, the use of QR codes in restaurants to scan menus and make payments demonstrates the industry's willingness to embrace change. Localization and translation technology also play a role in providing seamless experiences for guests. Striking the right balance between technology and the human touch of hospitality is key to driving innovation and maintaining competitiveness.
What makes us different?
Q: Can ScandiPay simplify hotel management processes?
Juha: It's impressive to witness the continuous evolution of startups within the industry, and ScandiPay is no exception. This platform has the potential to streamline hotel management operations, benefiting both guests and staff. Simplifying work processes is crucial, as excessive programs can slow down work and result in poor customer service. ScandiPay's user-friendly interface allows for easy adaptation by staff, eliminating the need for multiple passwords and software. However, there are still challenges to address, such as efficiently responding to guest messages through technology, especially when front desk staff are occupied with other responsibilities. Striking the right balance between technology and personalized service remains essential for the industry's future success. As someone who has worked with numerous programs daily in revenue management, I can attest that simplification would greatly benefit hotel management.
Q: Can you share the best digital experience you've had at a hotel?
Juha: Despite my 20 years of experience in the hotel industry, I must admit that I have a fondness for personalized service. However, during my hotel manager training at Mandarin Oriental, while exploring various destinations in Europe, I had a memorable digital experience. During my stay at one of their hotels in Barcelona, they took note of my preference for salty liquorice, a Finnish delicacy not commonly found globally, and surprised me by having it waiting in my room. Although it may seem like a simple gesture, it was a digital experience as the hotel had collected data on my preferences and used it to provide a personalized touch. As someone working in the industry, it's challenging to impress me, but I truly appreciated the effort and attention to detail.
In the ever-evolving hospitality industry, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. Technology has significantly impacted hotel operations and guest experiences, transforming traditional methods and streamlining processes. However, the industry still faces barriers to technology adoption, such as integration challenges and the need to balance technology with personalized service. Nonetheless, by understanding guest preferences and investing in the right technology, hotels can enhance the overall experience. Furthermore, startups like ScandiPay are simplifying hotel management processes, providing opportunities for efficient operations. Striking a balance between technology and human interaction remains the key to innovation and continued success in the hospitality industry.
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