Information and communication technology in Auckland hotels: context and impact
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The aim of this study was to identify how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) affects business processes and service delivery within hotels and how ICT interacts with strategic issues confronting hotel managers. The areas of exploration were: 1) the business context of ICT; 2) the main role of ICT in day to day business; 3) ICT's impact on service delivery to hotel guests; and 4) the role of ICT in the future.As the study was exploring the General Managers' (GMs) perceptions, interviewing was selected as the most appropriate data gathering method. The sample covered a range of Auckland hotels which differed according to location, size and quality. Semi-structured interviews were used to facilitate the comparison of data between interviewees. Common themes and concepts were identified which were compared to the demographic characteristics of the hotels as well as previous research detailed in the literature.The contextual issues identified were staff availability and retention, competition (particularly price wars resulting from discounting), and location and infrastructure issues. Only half the GMs interviewed identified benefits from ICT in the day to day operation of their business. All of them described challenges or disadvantages posed by ICT. The impact on service delivery to guests was viewed more positively but there were still misgivings about the potential barriers which ICT created. There was a strong view that staff were of overwhelming importance to service delivery. Finally, envisioning the future, ICT was perceived as having the ability to make a strong contribution to business development but this ability would be constrained by staffing problems. Analyses of the findings suggest that ICT has a dual role of gathering management data and providing guest services, and GMs appear unaware of how this dual role contributes to the challenges posed by ICT. Similarly, there was limited awareness of the interaction between human agents in a business, the organisational structures, and ICT.The business implications of these findings suggest that GMs would benefit from being aware of the roles of ICT and addressing the needs of staff for a clearer understanding of how their role, and the ICT that supports it, fits into their broader operation of the business.This study is the one of first to examine the impact of ICT in New Zealand hotels, and, in particular, how this interacts with the broader social issues, and offers insights into the areas of potential conflict and ways to manage the impacts of ICT in hotels.