• Ryan Haynes

Oracle's Holistic approach to digitalising hospitality

In this episode we’re joining by Eric Hallerberg, VP EMEA Sales, Oracle Hospitality who presented at IHTF looking at ways to develop a full tech stack and framework in a modern hotel. He talks about the hospitality value chain the the importance of focusing on the common customer.

During this chat we cover:

  • Approach to thinking of the guest experience and journey

  • The important factors to developing the tech framework

  • How the tech stack for hotels changed

  • Oracle's approach to distribution specifically adapting and evolving in the coming few years


Program Notes


Ryan Haynes:

Hello and welcome back to Travel Market Life. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes:. And during the IHTF 2022, we had interviews with NH hotels, Accor, Melia, Vulcan Steiner results, and the collection alongside many other technology companies addressing key industry challenges. In this episode, we're joined by Eric Hallerberg: VP EMEA Sales at Oracle Hospitality, who presented at IHTF looking at the waist, develop a full tech stack and framework in a modern hotel


Ryan Haynes:

Eric, thanks ever so much for joining us today. So you were really looking at the different framework ways to framework tech stack within a hotel, but firstly, you were helping hotels really start to have a think about the different approach to thinking of the guest experience and guest journey. What is the approach that you guys are taking there at Oracle?


Eric Hallerberg:

Well, Ryan, thanks for having me. Good afternoon. You know, I've been in the travel and hospitality technology space for about 18 years and started when I was four, obviously, and I've developed a mantra and it's, it's my mantra. It's nothing that's revolutionary, but I think it's important to, to think about when, when you think about what I call the, the hospitality value chain or the ecosystem that we all sit in, we all have our niche, right? But we all have a common customer. So it's, we can talk about the guest experience. I think that's super important, but it's not us as tech providers on the B2B side, telling hoteliers to focus on the guest experience. Of course, they're going to say that's what we live every day, but it's, it's understanding that we all have this common customer.


Eric Hallerberg:

And if we focus on that, wherever, whatever our niche is, we're only going to, it's only going to drive more value through the hoteliers, to our common customer. But I think it's more than just the guest experience, really people experience because so much of that guest experience is influenced by staff it's it's by that human interaction. And I think as a, as a technology provider, we really think about providing a great staff experience. Then that's going to translate into great guest experiences. So we need to think it holistically and not just say about how are we making the guest experience better. It's how are we making that staff experience better? So it's easier for them to provide that guest experience.


Ryan Haynes:

I mean, it sounds like you're merging the two there, as you say, it's one side is what the consumer sees guests sees on a size, it's what the employee is dealing with and, and how they're interacting with that. And we've talked about so long, you know, we we've been trying to move things from the real world to the digital worlds and it seems to be a replica rather than sort of working on looking at how you can augment the experience and that to be where we are much more now, maybe with the digital generation coming up through the massively digitally native rights. So they don't expect the real life to be exactly the same online. They expect it to be augumented in some way.


Eric Hallerberg:

Well, you're absolutely right. And, and but if you think about it, we talk about consumer grade graphics, right? Why should there be different between consumer grade and say your, your working life? Right. So I, I also take a step further and say, how could we actually take technology and make it a differentiator for hotels from a recruitment perspective? So why would, why would a guest, or why would somebody working for the hotel step in after using their mobile and doing all the cool things that you can do, you've been able to do for about 15 years, right? And then say off, push that aside. And then I have to go use a system that looks like it was built in 1995 and the guests expect, or the guests not expect they're going to get the same kind of interaction they get today.


Eric Hallerberg:

Whether they're talking with their friends, other businesses, you know, whether it's through chat, whether it's through messaging, whether nobody's using email, right? Nobody's if you want to use the same channels and you want to empower your team and your staff to do that too. So I think if we think about it from that perspective and say, why don't we just take what the really great stuff that's happening in the real world, like you said, and apply it. So when, when I go to work, I'm not putting my cool phone aside and saying, oh, here we go. I'm just, it's just seamless right in. And I'm loving working because I'm using the coolest new technology with the coolest new interface. And that really, you really portray a new enthusiasm to the guests.


Eric Hallerberg:

I think we're, we're not quite there, but I think that if you get the mindset right, then you can start thinking about how do you develop that and how do you push that out into the industry?


Ryan Haynes:

It seems like we shouldn't be doing this on our own. We, we really should be calling on our staff, those at the front line to ask them, how do they use tools and technology? What are their expectations of delivering a service when as you say, they probably spend all their spare time on their mobile devices. They know what, how they want to, how they want to interact with a hotel. So how do they want their own hotel that they work for to be interacting with the guests?


Eric Hallerberg:

That's absolutely right. I think that, you know, here I am of a certain age to telling, telling a younger generation, Hey, this is, this is what you really want. We should be listening to them. They should be telling us, this is how I do it outside my job. Why can't I help our guests do it while I'm doing my job?


Ryan Haynes:

I mean, I was certainly had my eyes opened last year at the ITT conference. When I was speaking to a 24 year old, who was showing me how they book holidays and all these apps, I'd never even heard of, you know, we, before we know we could be prehistoric. So we've got to be careful ourselves when it comes to building the tech stack, what's the important factors to developing the framework. Would you say,


Eric Hallerberg:

Well, I, I think that if you think about how, how the industry is, is progressing and, and really it should be a quantum leaps from an on-prem to embracing cloud, you think about how the evolution is in, in mindsets. And, and I think much of it in the past has been a very closed, right? So you have tech providers, they're providing certain components, whether it's property management or it's a point of sale, it might be add on. So like an upsell, but it's, it's a very closed system. And what we've seen and what we've embraced is that you flip that and you, you completely open it up. So what you want to do is we want to stop thinking in terms of individual solutions and thinking more in terms of a platform and the idea behind a platform is that you'll, you're going to have the core, so you're gonna have the property management, right?


Eric Hallerberg:

So you're going to have the rates and inventory and, and you're going to have the loyalty and you're going to have those absolute necessities in that core. But what you're doing is you're taking the API APIs that drive that and, and you're opening them up and you're creating a platform. So what we've done is we've taken more than 3,500 API APIs. Those are the ones that our own developers work on on a daily basis. We've exposed them. So anybody can work on them. And, and what we've done is say, okay, here's the core, but there's all these other applications outside. Now, you can consume them from us and we have pretty good applications, but there's some things that we don't do. Or there's some things that you may prefer to work with with another third party, we're allowing you to do that.


Eric Hallerberg:

So it's this change from a closed mentality to really open mentality that allows our customers and third parties to access the platform and really extend the capabilities of it. And I think what that does is it, it it's sort of goes back to the conversation we were just having about, let's listen to, to our teams and say, okay, how can we better help you interact with the guest and create a better guest experience? We don't know everything right. And there may be new players out there, startups that, that look at it a little differently and say, Hey, we could really enhance what you're doing. Something you're never going to do because it's not in the core, but let us do it by opening up your system.


Eric Hallerberg:

That's what we've done.


Ryan Haynes:

I mean, it's incredible by how much we've had to really focus on those APIs and the connectivity within the industry. Something that I think that's in a few companies championing for the last 15 years or so, but we've really got that movement moving quite fast now. And I've been seeing across other sectors, both in retail and property. We're not alone. It is an issue that's facing multiple sectors, but without these API APIs, you are essentially shackled to a very limited system. Whereas if you've got this unlimited ability to be able to customize that, as you say around sort of either using branded tools and applications or, or going out there and, and finding your, your, your own choice, that then can better reflect what your strategy is for your hotel.


Eric Hallerberg:

I think you're absolutely right in, and you're talking about retail and banking. I mean, we're clearly in hospitality, we're not an early adopter, right? We're, we're behind the curve and it's, you know, we, we are catching up very quickly, but I think we've got a long way to go. I think one of the interesting things is that it's not just about the technical piece, it's the commercial side too. So if you think about a model where you're charging all parties for interfaces, whether it's the hotel and the third parties and, and good for you because you're driving revenue, but what you're doing is you're creating a very high bar of entry. So you're really suppressing innovation because you've got a certification fees and interface fees that startups frankly can't afford, right?


Eric Hallerberg:

So you're, you're taking a whole component of innovation and pushing them to the side and saying, you know what, we're, we're not interested in working with you because you don't fit into our commercial model. When you flip that to a more open system and, and, and an open approach with open API APIs, you change the commercial model at the same time, you say, okay, assess you pay one fee. Our customers, you get access to the API for free third parties. You can develop, there's no certification. You can develop against those API APIs. Now there is a commercial model, but it's based on usage. And it's the idea is you want to shrink the cost and align it with the value that they're driving to their customers. It creates a it's a win-win win situation.


Eric Hallerberg:

That's good for us. It's good for our customers. Hoteliers is good for the third parties in which you create as a, in, as part of a you create this partner community. That's bringing in all this innovation and all these great ideas that are really extending the capabilities, even beyond hospitality. So you're going to get third parties have never even thought about working with hospitality companies saying, wait a minute, we can actually provide some supplemental value here that really enhances that guest journey that, that ecosystem, that hospitality value chain. And it's something that with the closed model that you never would have even had those conversations,


Ryan Haynes:

It is fascinating, isn't it? And you get to see a lot more collaboration happening in the, in the sector now. And it really is, as you say, sort of allowing for greater innovation and for us to really think differently, as well as people coming from outside the sector and joining travel and hospitality and recognizing how they can bring their experience and their achievements into this sector is much, much needed. So, I mean, from that perspective, there's a lot of opportunity there for hotels, as we said, to really customized product and their platforms around their specific hotel and their strategy. Now, one of the key areas that you were talking about was distribution.


Ryan Haynes:

How does Oracle Hospitality, do you see distribution specifically adapting and evolving in the coming years?


Eric Hallerberg:

Well, I think that, again, we, we, we try to slot, or we've been talking about terms, okay, you've got the property management, then you've got the distribution. It really becomes part of the platform. Right. And so there are different different from, in, in distribution that you're talking about, but they're also different, different components that you're selling. Right? So in the past, it's all, it's been mainly the pricing has been built around the room. So you, you, you, you book the room and then you book everything else, the way we look at it and what we're developing, it's a new pricing engine. So it's, it's, we're decoupling pricing and the building of experiences from the room. So the idea is build any pricing engines.


Eric Hallerberg:

That's flexible. And, and we, we, we enable access through our API is where you can start just booking experiences, right? So it's, it's, you know, whether it's a, an FNB booking, whether it's, you know, food and beverage, I've been told not to speak in terms of PMs and afterwards, and you know what, I'm probably going to get scolded for this letter, but, but experiences. So anything that, that, that a guest would want to do during a stay, we want to, we want to allow the guests to book that, and it doesn't have to be centered around a room. So, and what that does is it allows a hotel to bring in any kind of inventory that they want to bring it in.


Eric Hallerberg:

They want to sell, and not just a hotel, maybe it's, maybe it's a, an ecosystem of interconnected resorts that are multi-branded, but you want to provide a single experience, a seamless experience to the guest. They walked through the gates of this, this interconnected resort, and they can go there. They're staying at one hotel. They can go eat in another, they can, they can book an experience at another, and it it's, it all just creates this flexibility. That's not based around, okay, you got to book this room first, and then we add on anything else you can, you can book, you can, we can price and sell without having to worry about having the room booked first. And I think that's an important piece that we're decoupling, which allows us to bring in any piece or any kind of inventory.


Eric Hallerberg:

Those that we know now, and those that I think the visionaries of the industry are looking at, you know, in the next 2, 3, 5, 10 years, and say, we're going to completely revolutionize the way that, that the hospitality industry globally, or in certain regions, we want to provide the flexibility to the technology really future-proof the technology. So it allows the visionaries to go out and do what they want to do without being hindered by inflexible and, and frankly, old technology.


Ryan Haynes:

I mean, I must say the last couple of years has given us a lot of through for thought, especially the hospitality sector, those that were forced to close. Those that could open and open certain business units were able to, and, you know, rather than having, you know, the full resort open, they could have aspects of it and recognizing the value that each of the business units brought. Also the lack of travel and restricted movement men that we have to really focus on our neighborhoods and the local surroundings. And as a result, we've seen such a plethora of new products and services I'm actually open up. And as you say, we it's just like, we're moving towards that hotel retailing, where there is so much more choice and the customer or the guests can enter at different parts and different stages of the journey, whether they're staying at the hotel or whether they're just visiting the property as a patron.


Ryan Haynes:

And so, as you sit say, you, you can see, you know, there's, there's so much more expanse in that area without necessarily having to just focus on selling that room anymore.


Eric Hallerberg:

And I think what's exciting about that is, you know, necessity's the mother of invention and you've got these innovative ideas that come out of two years of just really trying to figure out how you're going to come out of this. But what's exciting is the investment that's behind it, the commitment and, you know, coming out saying, okay, w we're we're now seeing demand ramped up. And so we're able to open our doors. No, it's about, we see what the future's like, and we want to put our bets on it. And, and I think, again, that the amount of investment in certain regions, certain sectors is staggering and been really encouraging that, that these investors see the value of hospitality and really see a vision for a new type of hospitality.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. Eric, that was lovely. Thank you ever so much for really helping us understand sort of like that flexibility within the Hotel Tech stack now, and, and really looking at from a platform perspective and really putting that guest and that employee first


Eric Hallerberg:

Grads. Great talking to you. I appreciate it.


Ryan Haynes:

That was Eric Hallerberg. I'm the VP EMEA of sales at Oracle Hospitality. Thanks ever so much for joining us, check out the other episodes coming very soon, as well as the hoteliers voice series, where we learn from hotels, how they're deciding on their tech stack and their key purchase criteria. I'm Ryan Haynes:. You've been listening to Travel Market Life









8 views0 comments