Like it or not, hotel companies are tech companies, too
Like it or not, hotel companies are tech companies, too
10 MARCH 2016 9:41 AM

Nothing annoys me more than hearing top-line hotel company executives say, “We’re not a technology company; we’re a hospitality company.” You can—and must—be both. 

Over the past few months I’ve heard the same phrase repeated often at hotel conferences, usually by pretty big-name brand CEOs, and it’s this: “We’re not a technology company; we’re a hospitality company.”

Usually the context is that the speaker is trying to hammer home the idea that hotel companies at their core are people-focused, hospitality-focused, guest-satisfaction-focused and all of that.

It’s also usually a direct hit to the message that Expedia President and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is fond of saying, which is something along the lines of “We’re not a travel company; we’re a technology company.”

Every time I hear that “we’re not a technology company; we’re a hospitality company” chestnut, I cringe. What I hear (and I’m probably not the only one) when an executive says this is, “Our core business is hospitality, so that’s all we’re going to do, and we’ll leave the technology to fairies who come in the middle of the night to take care of that tech stuff so we don’t have to focus on it.”

Hoteliers, you couldn’t be more wrong. There is no either/or in this scenario: You can be both a hospitality company and a technology company, and what’s more—you must be.

Successful companies that rely on e-commerce have to be what I call “technology and” companies. You can be a “technology and hotel” company (or a “hotel and technology” company if it makes you feel better to say it that way). You can be a “technology and shoes” company. The list goes on and on. The bottom line is this: if you’re selling anything online, you better consider yourself a “technology and” company, or you’re going to lose.

Hearing hotel executives from big-name brand companies say definitively that their companies are not technology companies sounds so outdated and quaint, to be honest. Of course, technology may not be your core business, but if you don’t consider it to be at or at least pretty darn close to top billing with your core business, you’re going to miss out on growth in today’s tech-driven world.

I don’t think any strong business can afford to be a one-trick pony anymore.

Look at it this way: All of us managers these days ask our employees to be more than one thing—I ask people to be a reporter AND an editor. You ask people to be front-desk staff AND breakfast attendants. These examples show us that well-rounded people bring better insight to an organization or a property’s goals.

So why would you consider yourself “just” a hotel company these days?

Share of the week
Human trafficking is a known issue affecting hotels around the world, and staff at hotels across all segments are trained to recognize signs of trafficking and to report it.

This week, two Democratic senators, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), introduced legislation that would require training for airline industry employees to recognize and report signs of human trafficking. Read more about it here, where you’ll also find information on other legislation covering human trafficking.

Along those same lines, this week National Public Radio’s Marketplace program ran a three-part series on human trafficking that’s worth checking out. The series showed just how important it is for employees at all entities—hotels, hospitals and airlines—that may encounter people being sold for sex and slavery around the world must act together to report suspicions. 

As always, if you want to share comments about this blog or anything else we do here at Hotel News Now, drop a comment below, email me at or find me on Twitter @HNN_Steph.

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  • Jules Sieburgh March 10, 2016 11:00 AM Reply

    From a long time technology executive for the hospitality industry I think that the reason you hear hospitality CEOs deny that they are a technology company is because too many have equated that with being a technology DEVELOPMENT company. And the cost of developing and maintaining technology in-house has tainted views of what technology can and must do for their guests. There are new and creative ways that technology has been taken advantage of, just look at what citizenM guest tell you about their experience. But their biggest asset is still the excellent ambassadors that make anyone feel at home and taken care of.

  • kikusha March 17, 2016 1:24 PM Reply

    All high level executives enclosed in their ivory tower for too long have lost touch with reality of business as developing at ground zero. They are pushing Capex without regard to its viability for the franchisees who are facing double whammy of whimsical capex prescriptions and Airbnb.
    All are trying to control Airbnb and the efforts are like trying to turn the clock back. Such futile efforts arise because these high placed executives who have none or very miniscule ownership stakes, have not been in touch with reality of the day.

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