Technology: To Implement or Not to Implement? That is the question.

Eric Oppegaard

I recently heard a technology organization encouraging companies to not pursue particular technologies as it could remove the element of personal service, commoditizing their offering creating a loss of revenue. I sat back bewildered. Astounded. I couldn’t believe it. And then the wheels in my head started spinning.

Do you remember the quote, “Where we’re going we don’t need roads,” from the movie Back to the Future? Okay, follow me for a moment… When Marty McFly told Doc they didn’t have enough road to get the Delorean up to 88 miles per hour for time travel one might think that he was being practical – that was the reality he knew. But truthfully he was short-sighted, he hadn’t envisioned all that was possible.  Though we haven’t made it to October 21, 2015, I haven’t seen any time machines or Hover Boards recently. But let’s think about what we do have…

According to feedback presented by planners in MPI’s Summer 2015 Meetings Outlook,

  • 72% expect business conditions to improve in the coming year.
  • 48% indicate that domestic corporate business is setting the pace for growth.

This is great news for hospitality organizations looking to grow their group business. But there are other factors to contemplate. This same report identifies that,

  • 33% of planners expect their budgets to remain flat for the next year.
  • 39% of planners expect only a slight budget increase (1% to 5%).
  • Nearly 50% of people in the marketplace – planners, suppliers and attendees – don’t have a history of understanding what a prosperous meetings market looks like.
  • Planners are reporting much shorter lead times as organizations await final budget approval prior to moving forward with confirming events.
  • Planners repeatedly cite that the value of business relationships is paramount in the current economy.

Considering these planner perspectives, as a hospitality professional you must ask, “How do I differentiate my organization in this economy, in my market, and with my planners? How do increase the value of my offering and gain market share?”


Here’s where implementing technology as an enabler of business processes and relationships becomes a differentiator.  A quick search of the question “What is technology?” on any web browser returns literally billions of results. Here’s my favorite answer:

Due to innovation, technology has grown to
enable us to create connections across the globe.

That’s a powerful statement. Have you considered the power of utilizing technology to enhance all aspects of your interaction with planners? You can use technology solutions to:

The list doesn’t end here… I’m merely suggesting that you utilize technology as a tool in your toolbox.  It’s not a cold, lifeless entity. It’s a tool to develop stronger relationships with your customers. When you consider the rapidly changing demographics of both your organization as well as your customer’s organizations, it becomes imperative that you forge ahead as a leader in empowering your consumers with the tools that they need expect.

Not every customer is going to want technology as a resource for connecting with you. Anecdotally, I can tell you that my 60-something year old mother still wants to pick up the phone to connect, but my 7 year old can easily unlock and navigate any mobile device that she gets access to… As you think about setting up your organization for future success, consider the current demographic shift in the market.  It won’t be long before the next generation is the one submitting RFPs to both you and your competition and they come with an entirely new set of expectations. How are you shaping their experience with your team and standing apart from your competition?