At many companies, buzzwords like innovation and collaboration are simply that – just “words” sprinkled into marketing collateral and displayed on a website homepage. At SkyTouch Technology, these words embody who we truly ARE – a hospitality technology company. This was evident on October 24 when SkyTouch held its third Alpha Games, a semi-annual event that highlights collaboration, innovation, and healthy competition. The Alpha Games was conceived to help SkyTouch promote the concept of employees breaking from convention to work together to generate truly forward-thinking ideas that disrupt the hospitality technology and marketplace.

Nearly 100 employees took part in the latest Alpha Games competition, with SkyTouch employees from various departments assembled into 15 teams ready to flesh out-of-the-box ideas into winning concepts. The goal is for these concepts to help evolve the company’s Hotel OS® (cloud hotel PMS) platform and create a competitive advantage for SkyTouch and its customers. “In order to be innovative for our customers and disrupt our industry, we have to up the ante by mixing things up and finding ways to break from convention,” says SkyTouch Technology President Ric Leutwyler. “That’s what The Alpha Games is all about. We are fostering that mindset by creating opportunities for all employees to intermingle their skillsets and tap into each other’s strengths to breed ideas that have the potential to become groundbreaking customer solutions.”

With coffee and energy bars close at hand, Alpha Games teams get pumped for a day of intense fun. After a kick-off ceremony, teams convene to build their ideas and must be ready to present a one-minute synopsis of their concepts by lunchtime. The teams then make “formal” presentations showing what they accomplished the Monday following The Alpha Games, giving them the weekend to hone their efforts. Participants then collectively vote on the ideas presented based on the following criteria: creativity, feasibility, use of The Alpha Games to elaborate on their concepts, and how their concepts support the SkyTouch mission and vision of freeing hospitality professionals from the limits of convention. The top three teams are awarded trophies, miscellaneous prizes and, of course, bragging rights! This year’s winning projects included a combined “Sales and Onboarding” process to allow potential customers to demo and purchase the Hotel OS product entirely in the cloud; an “Experience Program,” enabling hotels to offer customers a more customized rewards experience; and an innovative “Interactive Floor Plan” to provide hotel staff with the ability to view room status and filter by room attributes in order for the front desk to seamlessly place guests in their preferred rooms. This year, a new “Bend the Spoon” award category was created to recognize the most out-of-the-box product concept. The winners in this category conceived a mobile “concierge” app to help guests manage their hotel reservations and preferences on-the-go.

While creating a winning solution is clearly the goal of every team who participates in The Alpha Games, the competition holds a two-fold purpose for SkyTouch. In addition to enhancing the company’s product, The Alpha Games is meant to strengthen the company’s culture by sending a clear message that good ideas can and should come from every employee – regardless of their tenure, title, or department. Employee participation in The Alpha Games has grown by 40% since its inception, and participation has even expanded to include SkyTouch vendors and partners.

Ultimately, The Alpha Games is so much more than a way for SkyTouch to identify a new companywide concept to implement or hospitality technology solution to take to market. It breeds a feeling of empowerment that lingers within the company culture, driving employees to create, collaborate and innovate across every level. So, ultimately, The Alpha Games is not only a means to delivering a better Hotel OS (cloud hotel property management system) product, it represents the SkyTouch commitment to investing in culture to breed innovation and further organizational excellence.