By Anthony Anton, president & CEO

In May, I proclaimed 2018 the Age of Disrupters in my State of the Industry talk.

Definition of a Disrupter:
a: to be the cause of disorder or turmoil; b: to be the destroyer, usually temporarily, of the normal continuance or unity; c: to be the cause of radical change.

There are so many disrupters in hospitality right now – from scheduling, to millennials, to third-party delivery and the onslaught of new technology. Undoubtedly, this month you have been dealing with at least one disrupter in your business.

Any economic cycle tends to have two to four disrupters. What makes this business climate unique is the volume of disrupters. The association is currently tracking more than 30 disrupters in hospitality in this economic cycle.

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One of the reasons tech is challenging is because it isn’t what we do. Most of us got into hospitality either because we love people or we love the culinary arts. It’s the nature of our industry. None of us entered the industry seeking to get and use the best in tech. So how do we deal with something so out of our natural skill set?

This is where we look to the largest businesses in our industry that have resources to develop solutions the rest of us can learn from.

What do we see so far?

The largest companies are hiring experts. They aren’t 1990 IT nerds that would come by our desks to fix a printer, but truly strategic leaders who can develop and/or adopt tech innovations that can deliver us to the other side of this storm of disrupters.

Nearly 100 percent of the top hospitality companies by size now have a chief tech officer or equivalent. Many employ more tech professionals than either tourism marketing organizations or menu developers.

For example: Domino’s Pizza’s CEO Patrick Doyle told Harvard Business Review about the importance of technology when he said, “We are as much a tech company as we are a pizza company.” He also pointed out that of the 800 people working at Domino’s headquarters, 400 people work in software and analytics.

As your company’s leader, you don’t have to understand the differences between Snapchat and Twitter, know how to fix your Wi-Fi, or know how to create an e-dashboard for your business. But you do need to identify someone who does.

We understand most hospitality companies are too small to hire on full-time expertise to pave the way for modern success. So maybe the solution for our problem today is to look to our past.

When we needed bridges to technical solutions in the past, we all had a fixer. We all had a hood fixer, a cash register fixer or a refrigeration fixer.

On Sundays, my dad was constantly headed down to our family business to meet the latest parade of fixers with skills to solve an issue he couldn’t fix.

Maybe the time has come that we all need a tech fixer. Or maybe that is too broad; maybe we need a handful of them: a social media guru, a programmer, a dashboard creator, a data manager, etc.

The point is that someone needs to be delegated to prepare and adopt the changes your company needs for the technology disrupter. And as your company’s leader, or at least as one of them, you are the one who must execute that delegation.

We would love to learn how we, as your primary source of information, can help. Tell the association what it can do to help you navigate the disrupter of tech.

We’re looking forward to helping you get to the other side.