Oracle Hospitality Exec on Its AI Plan in ‘Every Single Release’

Skift Take

Oracle Hospitality has transferred thousands of hotels to its new tech system, and there are thousands more in the pipeline.

Oracle Hospitality is taking its time to integrate the latest advancements of AI into its hotel tech products. 

But once the momentum builds, it won’t stop. 

“Every single release, we’re going to have new things,” said Laura Calin, vice president of strategy and solutions management for Oracle Hospitality.

Calin shared the company’s plan for AI and new tech products in an interview with Skift during the Hitec hotel tech convention this week in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

The AI upgrades will be released through Opera Cloud Central, the multi-system hotel tech platform that the company began selling in the last year. The system was an expansion of the Opera Cloud property management system that was released five years ago.

Oracle Hospitality, which has a leading market share position in hotel tech, has been working to transfer 40,000 properties from older versions of its tech to its cloud-based system.

Scandic Hotels Group was the first customer of Opera Cloud Central, and others have been announced since then, including two this week: Thon Hotels in Norway and Red Sea Global in Saudi Arabia.

Waiting on Next-Generation AI

The tech that Oracle Hospitality sells — along with upgrades — comes in-house from Oracle, the software and hardware giant that has thousands of developers. 

Oracle is integrating the latest AI into its hotel tech and other parts of the company, but it’s a long process, Calin said. 

  • “We’re patiently waiting until they bake it correctly, because it’s AI. Yes, you can talk about the use cases, and you can talk about all the flowers and how beautiful it’s going to be — but it all starts with data. Is the data available? Is it green? Is it secure? Is this thing going to scale? And is it going to be affordable?”
  • “Once it’s mature and the scalability is there and the costs are under control and the security is good, I think we will see a lot of things coming up.”
  • “I’d say a lot of the conversations are still very much in the buzzy [phase]. There is a lot still that’s fluffy.”
  • “We do have a couple of proof of concepts that we’re working with. We’re going to consistently release something. It could be big things. It could be small things.”

The Process of Designing New Tech Features

Oracle Hospitality draws creativity from a few different avenues when looking to develop new features for its hotel tech, Calin said.

  • “There is a team at Oracle called Oracle Labs. This is where a lot of the masterminds at Oracle are. This is a team that we can access, and we can throw any problem at them. We work together on a proof of concept. If it works, then we surface it to customers, and if we like it, then we put it in the product.” 
  • “We can also pull universities to help us on that research, and we work together with them.”
  • “In our development team, we have something that we call Innovation Fest once a year. We give our internal teams the top 10 things that we’ve heard from the customers we want to solve for. We give them a week to come up with a concept, code it, review it. And then there is a contest that we do, and then the top three ideas go into production. This year, we couldn’t choose just three, so I think about 10 went into the roadmap.”

A Growing Marketplace of Tech Vendors for Hotels

Along with Opera Cloud Central there is a marketplace of third-party tech vendors that offer services for digital tipping or housekeeping, that hotels can connect their system to. Many of these tech vendors are startups. Oracle Hospitality is working to expand that program, Calin said.

  • “We do have 500 partners now in our marketplace, and then 1,000 more that are in development and getting to the marketplace. That means a lot of choice for customers.” 
  • “I like that we can power startups. I like the fact that we are an enabler of innovation. Because there is no cost to them to get going. They get access to the tools. They get access to the APIs, they get access to our customer base.”

Quotes have been edited for length and clarity. 

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