October 14, 2019

Cool course alert: Hospitality Technology (Tisch Center)

In the spring semester, Professor Max Starkov will teach an exciting course on hospitality technology. Developed in collaboration with Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), the course culminates in students taking the Certified Hospitality Technology Exam. Professor Starkov tells us more in this post.

What is your background? 

I have over 30+ years in hospitality technology, operations, distribution, marketing and consulting.  I co-founded and served as President & CEO of three consecutive online travel and hospitality startups: TravelBreak.com (online travel marketplace), WhaleMedia Technologies (hotel SaaS technology - CRS and Website Booking Engine developer), and HeBS Digital (Hospitality EBusiness Strategies, Inc.) www.HEBSdigital.com , a 150-employee hotel consulting, digital tech and marketing services firm, headquartered in New York City and with global offices in Las Vegas, Europe, and Asia Pacific. I have been teaching various hotel technology, CRM, marketing and distribution courses at NYU’s Tisch Center of Hospitality since 2001. 

What are the class objectives of the new technology course you are teaching? 

At many hospitality schools, technology is NOT part of the curriculum or is very vaguely addressed, and this is quite disturbing to me. Many hospitality students are graduating without having any hospitality technology experience and completely unprepared for the real world out there.

With the explosion of the “digital way of life,” the traveler’s customer journey has become increasingly complex, which necessitates hoteliers to create and manage a robust digital presence and engage, acquire, service and retain travel consumers in this increasingly mobile-first world we live in. It requires hoteliers to overhaul their marketing and technology stack strategies and investments. They must understand and invest in digital technology and marketing that enables the best possible user experience, provides the best customer service, increases efficiencies and boost revenues.

Technology touches on every aspect of hospitality, from hotel management, to distribution, to revenue management, to customer relationship, to marketing, and to many other areas. Essentially, everything we do in hospitality is powered by technology. Today’s hospitality is a 100% technology-powered industry, and 100% of this technology is digital technology. Digital technology is used in every aspect of the industry: hotel operations, guest services and communications, revenue management, distribution, CRM and marketing.

Today’s hotelier must understand, know and use hospitality tech solutions in the day-to-day work environment, and be able to assess, evaluate, recommend and acquire technology solutions to improve efficiencies, productivity, customer services and revenues.

This course aims to bring the hospitality information systems and technology world into the Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism and create the next generation of tech-savvy hoteliers needed to meet the challenges of the digital world. The course builds technology skills and practical knowledge that is necessary to operate, succeed and stay competitive in today’s tech-enabled hospitality industry. 

That being said, from this course, students will be able to understand the “big picture” of hospitality technology needed for hospitality & tourism organizations to be successful in today’s complex digital world, analyze and develop a viable Technology Strategy aligned with the needs of the hospitality organization, understand key hospitality industry technology applications, products and tools and their role in hotel operations, distribution, marketing and CRM, and in the customer lifecycle, evaluate the concrete technology needs of the hospitality organization and help identify and acquire leading technology applications and solutions for the organization, and apply key technology applications and solutions needed by the hospitality organization to better acquire, engage and retain their best guests, lower distribution costs, and increase revenue.

What are some concrete examples of the material that you will be covering? 

My course aims to bring the hospitality information systems and technology world into the Tisch Center and create the next generation of tech-savvy hoteliers needed to meet the challenges of the digital world. The course will build technology skills and practical knowledge that is necessary to operate, succeed and stay competitive in today’s tech-enabled hospitality industry. The course addresses the Hotel Management Technology, including Property Management Systems (PMS), Point of Sale (POS) Restaurant Systems, Self-Checking Technology, Back Office Automation, Concierge Technology, Guest Services Tech, etc.; Revenue Management Technology, including Revenue Management Systems (RMS), Rate Shopping Technology, Group and Travel Demand Business Intelligence (BI), etc.; Distribution Technology, including Global Distribution Systems (GDS), Central Reservation Systems (CRS), Website Booking Engines (WBE), Channel Management Technology, Hotel Switch and API Technology, Online Travel Agency (OTA) Technology, etc.; Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Technology, including Guest Data Management (DMP) Technology, Guest Communication Technology, Marketing Automation, Loyalty/Guest Recognition Technology, Online Reputation Management Technology, Data Security Technology, etc.; Digital Marketing Technology, including Website Technology, Content Management System (CMS) Technology, Cloud Hosting Technology & Security, Social Media Technology, Web Analytics Technology, SEO Technology, Programmatic Technology, Demand Side Platform (DSP) Technology, Email Marketing (ESP) Technology, etc.; Next Generation Technologies already making their way into hospitality, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics and Blockchain, etc.

Why are you interested in this specific topic? 

This is what I have been doing for the last 30+ years. The new type of digital technology that has emerged as been very interesting to study and I simply want to share my experience and real-life examples to my students.

What kind of impact do you hope to have on your students? 

The main impact I hope to have is to prepare my students for the real world by exposing them to concrete technology applications and provoking them to think like digitally-savvy industry professionals. For example, customer relationship management (CRM) technology performs miracles to increase repeated guests and yet, less than 5% of independent hotels have this technology in place. Acquiring a new guest is 10-20x more expensive than retaining an existing guest yet there is a lack of understanding and education in this sector of hospitality. Exposing the students to what’s available out there and conveying to them the big picture of hospitality technology is what I hope to do. I ultimately want them to apply these learnings in the real world when they start working in their jobs after graduation.

Hospitality school graduates are called upon to carry the digital technology torch and help the industry overcome its technology deficiencies and embrace this rising tide of digital technology-obsessed travel consumers. 

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