When you have read this article you will be able to:
. Identify the effects of developments in information technology
on hospitality management and operations.
. Analyse current key issues associated with information technology
and explore their implications for the hospitality
. Evaluate key challenges limiting the use of technology
within the international hospitality sector.
The use of information technology in the hospitality industry
has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. This journey
has not always been smooth, but it has become clear that
information technology is now a critical competitive weapon
in the industry. This article examines how the use of information
technology in hospitality has developed, highlights
the current role that information technology plays within
international hospitality companies, and examines current trends
and issues while also attempting to speculate on the role that
this technology will play in the industry in the early part of the
Information technology in hospitality
Information technology was first used in the hospitality industry in
the 1950s, when multinational hotel chains began experimenting
with the developing field of computer science. As in most other
industries, the majority of the initial applications focused on
accounting and automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
Software was ‘borrowed’ from other industries on the assumption
that it could be ‘easily’ adapted for use by hospitality companies.
However, such conversions were usually only partially successful,
and a large number of changes to business processes and procedures
were often needed to accommodate the requirements of the
computerized system. Moreover, the expense and technicality
involved in both developing and running systems made the use
of computerization economical only for the largest companies
Despite these problems, the hospitality industry at large has
pioneered many information system innovations. Airline reservation
systems, for example, were completing electronic commerce
transactions long before the commercialization of the Internet and
the dot-com bubble of the late nineties. In the early 1970s, the
Hotel St Jacque in Paris introduced software that automated reservations,
check-in, guest billing and various aspects of management
control. Punched cards were issued to guests, allowing
charges to be instantly posted directly onto their ‘electronic’ bill.