Technology Today

March 11, 2015

Growing up in Austin, I have always had the privilege to be around some of the greatest people, events and experiences this world has to offer. And truth is, this city is much more than the “Live Music Capitol” of the world. As my professional career has developed I have come to see what also makes this city so great: Technology.

Do I need to live in one particular city to fully understand the importance of Technology? No. But Austin is a great example of what the world has become over the past 2 decades, and constantly hearing about the tech-based innovations in our backyard is a daily reminder of how businesses are evolving everywhere.

Until a few years ago companies and organizations heavily depended on outside resources associated with high costs. In fact, many small businesses could not afford these means and would operate without these assets. How much will it cost me to build a website? How can I promote my business to the world without hiring an outside firm? Or more recently: How do I track my customers and what are my statistics? No longer do we have to ask ourselves these questions as often, nor pay the price the last generation did. As a millennial, what we have seen develop during our short professional careers has evolved the way this world does business.

H4Htech_LaptopA great example of this is how we operate at Hotels for Hope. One of the privileges I am responsible for with this company is building and operating our booking portals for clients. How has recent technology innovation allowed myself and this company to operate more efficiently? Here are a couple examples:

1. Coding: In 2008 when I hopped onboard the Austin Hospitality train, I had just over 13 months of hotel experience. In the professional world I knew how to sell hotel rooms and not much of anything else, other than what my Public Relations degree and a few other business classes in college taught me. By 2010, our small business had evolved into a social enterprise (Hotels for Hope). Not only had our business model improved, but the demand to book client’s blocks of rooms and hosting site(s) to secure reservations skyrocketed.

With this change came a demand to develop white-labeled booking portals turnkey, as well as have the ability to adjust client requirements at our fingertips. Using open-sourced online programs (and much practice), I took on the responsibility to learn many different technology-based Management Information Systems (Treehouse is a great example).  Sure, we could have hired an outside resource to develop these booking portals, but that’s no fun, right? In all honesty, learning the javascript language, CSS, HTML and other web-design programs has not only expanded my horizon  (and allowed me to better understand / manage future MIS-based employees and interns), but saved us quite a bit of money along the way.

Analytics

2. Data Analytics: One of my favorite shows on television these days is Shark Tank. If you have ever watched this program, you will notice one of the very first questions a shark will ask (especially Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary) is associated with data. How many sales do you have? What are your conversion rates? Who are the primary consumers associate with your business and where do they reside? This is one of their primary concerns because without this information, business owners, investors and key partners would not be able to appropriately evaluate and operate their company. The way we function and operate as organizations is primarily based off of what we are selling, and later in response to what our data tells us. Yes, Information is gold. Regardless of the size of your company, capturing data is a must. It may not be who drives the bus, but part of the engine that runs it.

When Hotels for Hope evaluates who is traveling to one of our partnered events, of course we understand who our target market is, but how can we track the number of users visiting our booking portals? From the 100,000+ unique users in 2014 that visited Lollapalooza’s booking portal, how many are actually booking reservations in Chicago hotels? Where are they coming from? What is their favorite flavored bagel? Not only has recent technology evolved to make collecting this data easier, but the information is stored and used to enhance how we operate and better service future customers. No, we do not ask travelers what their favorite flavored bagel is (at least not yet), but with accessible automation processes at our fingertips we have the freedom to collect this type of data, and use it to everyone’s advantage.

A benefit of living in the greatest city in the world (Texas Pride here…) are some of the wonderful events that take place. This month South by Southwest hits the streets of downtown Austin, bringing in Music, Film (and most appropriate for this blog post) Interactive experiences for attendees. Whether you are looking for creative inventions about to hit the market, or would like to learn more about how recent innovated technology can benefit your business, I would encourage you to attend the Interactive portion (March 13-17). A few sessions you may run into me:

A/B Testing at Scale: Minimizing UI Complexity

Data Design: Where Math and Art Collide

Data and the Science of Leadershipsxsw-interactive-logo

Secrets to Powerful APIs

CSS as a Service: Maintaining Style

Google Analytics Hacks to Track (Almost) Anything 

HTML5: Tooling and Techniques – MEET UP

Big Data Made Actionable. No Really, It’s Possible

Trendology: Capitalizing on RTM with Social Data

Traveler and Traveler Meet Up

How does technology effect the way your company operates? What advantages are you currently missing out on? All types of businesses rely on completely different types of technology – you just need to find your niche. And no matter how advanced or knowledgeable we are, technology will always evolve. When it does, how quickly will you adapt?