In advance of this year’s HOTEC North America Operations event, taking place June 10-13 at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., Hotel Management spoke with Dominic Locascio, VP of sales for the Americas at software solutions provider InnSpire, to discuss the challenges surrounding guest entertainment and how hoteliers are innovating in response.
Locascio is nothing if not positive about entertaining guests. In 2015, InnSpire launched its guest services and entertainment platform in the U.S., which consists of products that network directly with guest devices to turn their personal content into additions to the hotel guestroom. Since then, InnSpire’s growth has doubled year-over-year, and Locascio said for 2018 the company is gunning for the top spot in the guest entertainment space.
The next stop on Locascio's list of enhancements: voice integration.
“We are looking to extend our platform even further, with plans to integrate voice capabilities being at the top of that list along with offering managed services, additional revenue-enhancement tools and more real-time data on guest engagement with the interface,” he said.
When Martin Chevalley and Mathias Adolffson founded InnSpire 2012, they did so with the goal of improving hotel revenue and creating guest entertainment systems that flowed together seamlessly. Today, this is a reality, and strides made in voice- and text-based technology have allowed for new innovations the industry didn’t expect even five years ago.
Locascio said this aspect of these advances, while exciting for developers, can be a pain point for hotels, which are forced to anticipate trends—and invest in them.
“The biggest challenge is that, for many hotels, [guest entertainment] remains a great unknown,” he said. “With so many different solutions out there and a wide range of customer experiences, educating the marketplace still remains an important part of what we do as a company and as an industry.”
The first step in the process of educating the hotel marketplace, Locascio said, is understanding just who is staying at what hotel. Learning as much as possible about a hotel’s guests is part of the job, and it helps inform InnSpire’s decision making when working with clients.
“Is the hotel looking to upgrade their entertainment, add apps, support streaming or full concierge services? Different hotels have different guests and different needs, and often hotels do not know how much the technology has evolved in just a few short years,” Locascio said.
One thing that differentiates InnSpire from other entertainment companies is its approach to interfacing with hotel guests. InnSpire declines to use apps and servers to deliver its guest experience, and this approach is easily understood by hotels making use of cloud-based property-management solutions.
“Ultimately it is important to communicate technology in terms of how it impacts the guest and hotel operations,” Locascio said. “The technical means is just a vehicle to accomplish the real objective of driving revenue, enhancing the guest experience and improving hotel operations.”
Many hotels struggle to keep up with current trends, in part because doing so often requires frequent investments in new technology that sometimes won’t last until the next trend comes around. Locascio said this will always remain a challenge, but thanks to a rise in cloud computing and the ubiquity of smartphones, investing in improving the guestroom entertainment experience is growing more cost effective. This is, in part, thanks to a convergence in smart devices.
“If you can leverage technology that guests are already using, like the TV and their smartphone, you eliminate the learning curve and can deliver a better level of service,” Locascio said. “There is a lot of discussion today around voice as well, which also has great potential to simplify the technology interaction.”
Locascio has been a frequent attendee at HOTEC events, and said he is looking forward to developing new partnerships at the upcoming Operations & Technology event in June.
"I have been an attendee and advocate for this show through three different companies going all the way back to the first event and it has never failed to live up to expectations," he said. "I want to develop new partnerships as a result of attending, but educating the marketplace on how our technology can really help deliver a positive impact to their hotels is my main goal. At each conference, I always walk away with a great new business relationship and strong follow-up meetings—with both vendors and buyers."