In her NY Times article, “13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married,” Eleanor Stanford suggests couples talk to each other about a variety of essential issues before tying the knot because doing so before committing makes for a more stable, less conflicted, and overall more successful relationship. For instance, she poses questions like, Will we have children and, if so, will both partners help? Will previous relationship experiences get in the way or make us better? Where do we see ourselves in the future?
Getting hitched to a technology partner is curiously similar. Just as a romantic relationship is about far more than looks, a successful technology partnership is about more than well-designed brochures and cleverly described deliverables. Digging deep and asking important questions before signing on the dotted line can make for a longer-term, more productive, and more profitable partnership.
This season is the perfect time to take stock of what’s important. Our recent Questions to Ask Hotel Technology Vendors makes weighing your options extra simple.
Some example questions to ask tech partners include:
1). What are the contract terms?
Committing to a technology partner shouldn’t require a “‘til death do we part” clause. Technology changes quickly as do companies. Go in with the hope of a lasting relationship but ensure you have the flexibility to move on if the promises don’t last or adapt.
2). Are all fees broken out clearly up front?
Nobody likes surprises from their partner, especially financial. Be on the lookout for variable pricing that changes per minute or per unit, etc. Ask about any additional charges for support, custom reports, etc.
3). Do they offer a performance or ROI guarantee?
A prenuptial ROI agreement with your tech partner can help set expectations for the relationship and give you recourse if the partnership doesn’t produce.
4). Are they integrated with your existing technology (e.g., PMS, call tracking and routing system)?
Before you say, “I do,” make sure the new technology plays nice with your existing technologies. Otherwise, there will be significant bumps in the road.
5). Do they provide dedicated Client Advocates who monitor your performance and hold your team to performance goals?
A support system, be it friends, professional advisors, or family, is essential in most healthy relationships. Think of Client Advocates like a business therapist keeping you on track for revenue and performance goals.
6). Do they provide on-site implementation and staff training?
Getting the household set up quickly and intelligently with hands-on training at your property will ensure a connection with your team and understanding of your business. This means quicker rewards.
7). Do they offer client references you can speak with directly?
You know your partner’s friends, you meet their parents, you get a sense of their trustworthiness, background, and relationship tendencies long before committing. Ask tech partners for client references, even those that have left, so you know what kind of relationship you’re getting into.
8). Do they provide or outsource their services like call routing, recording training, support, and so on?
In a marriage, you can outsource dinner or house cleaning, but the important parts of a relationship can’t be farmed out. So it goes with technology. Ensure the crucial pieces of service and support are kept in-house so they’re there when you need them. And in many cases they’ll be able to sense an issue and head it off in advance.
9). Do they have redundant technology and partners that act as a backup if systems go down to ensure your business is not impacted?
Like an insurance policy for the deliverables of the relationship, backup technology support ensures you are still able to serve your guests even if your partner is out of commission.
10). Do they offer 24/7/365 support? Are the employees of the vendor based in the U.S.?
Relationships don’t have set hours. Things happen during work hours, in the middle of the night, while cooking dinner. Hotels must have the ability to respond anytime and communicate effectively on your guest’s clock and your own.
11). Do they offer an education platform with resources and training videos for your team?
Tech partners worthy of the wedding want to empower and educate their clients. They care about you and provide the support to ensure your success.
12). How long has the company been in business and demonstrated stability?
Many tech companies are newborns, which can make for rocky territory at times. Find out how the company is funded and what the long-term plan is when considering a company that hasn’t matured yet.
13). Are they PCI compliant? How are they keeping your data safe and ultimately protecting your liability?
When you get married, your credit history becomes intermingled, and you become responsible for each other financially. Technology partners that handle any of your payment process (i.e. call recording, PMS, etc.) must be PCI compliant, and if they are not, you will be the one who is liable. It’s worth double-checking.
Equipping yourself with the tools and questions to vet tech partners early on will save costly heartache down the road. Because at NAVIS, we believe technology should make you money, not cost you money.