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FutureLog's Visionary CEO Frank Dierberger Shares Insights on Digitising and Automating Hospitality Procurement to Be Future-Ready

Business is, at its core, about problem-solving.

To be a good entrepreneur is to be a good problem solver. To create a successful brand is to see a gap in the market – an opportunity to bring disruption with a new solution or build upon what currently exists in a meaningful way. In this sense, leaders in any industry are fluent in the language of their customers’ problems, wants, and needs. They know what keeps them up at night, and they make it their mission to help them rest easy. In the case of Frank Dierberger, the CEO at FutureLog, the mission was simple on paper but lofty in practice – solve the procurement problem by digitising and automating the procurement process.

Of course, the world of procurement may appear straightforward from the outside looking in – how hard could it be to locate goods to purchase or services from an external source or vendor, bid on those goods or services, and agree to terms? As it turns out, procurement has been a traditionally complicated and painfully manual business endeavour rife with opportunities for errors, wasted resources, and miscommunication – especially within the hospitality sector. But in 1999, FutureLog set out to change that.

Today, FutureLog boasts over 20 years of procurement leadership and is widely known as a best-in-class, Swiss-based software company that provides digital procure-to-pay solutions for the hospitality and gastronomy industries. Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Frank Dierberger to discuss his journey with FutureLog, the biggest challenges hoteliers face when it comes to the procurement side of their business, future opportunities for the industry at large, and so much more.

Prior to taking the reins at FutureLog in 2006, Dierberger spent over two decades in executive procurement positions at the Mövenpick Group as well as Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. “When it was first founded in 1999, FutureLog acted as an internal procurement company for the Mövenpick Group, which then included Hotel and Restaurant segments,” explains Dierberger, adding that FutureLog handled procurement for the entire group at that time. “Over the years, I recognised the need for customer-centric technology and easy-to-use software for procurement, which inspired me to develop FutureLog’s webshop platform. “We see our long history in procurement and hospitality-specific software as competitive advantages. Much industry expertise went into the design and development of the FutureLog platform, and we continue to invest in our product from a customer-centric point of view.”

It is precisely this industry tenure and commitment to customer-centric product development that sets FutureLog apart from other platforms on the market. “Our backgrounds in hospitality and procurement give us a unique perspective into the needs and challenges hoteliers face,” he continues. “It’s a boots-on-the-ground approach because we know intimately what challenges hospitality and gastronomy industries struggle with, and we have designed our offering according to that problem set.”

Dierberger notes that FutureLog also takes customers’ feedback very seriously. In fact, that feedback is often incorporated into product developments and iterations, as was the case in the development of their mobile app. “Our strong dedication to customers in the hospitality industry has helped us grow internationally as it has a long and proven track record. We recognised the need for a digital-first approach, and now our customers can use our native mobile app for working while on the go.”

Disparate systems - data cannot be reliably leveraged for business purposes

Hospitality brands, in particular, struggle with information silos that arise as a result of disparate systems. If there is a lack of integration, data cannot be reliably leveraged for business purposes, and inefficiencies inevitably emerge.

“The industry has also long suffered from a lack of automation – hotel teams spend far more time than they should on repetitive, manual tasks that could be better streamlined with the help of intuitive technology. Overwhelmingly, hospitality brands are looking for tools to boost operational efficiency, integrate and produce actionable insights, facilitate data-driven decision making, offer real-time insights into cost optimisation, and help them reduce waste through processes like automated stock decrementation.”

Although we are all eager to lay any mention of the pandemic to rest, it is impossible to deny that thehospitality industry has changed dramatically since the pandemic. As hotel brands vet prospective new technology, one of the foremost questions they are likely to ask is: How does your solution accommodate our changing needs and help us to circumvent new industry/global challenges? How will you help us save money, time, and resources and make smarter purchasing decisions?

According to Dierberger, the pandemic only accelerated the widespread adoption of digital processes and highlighted the need for platforms like FutureLog. In any industry, it can be quite challenging to find skilled employees, but hospitality has grappled with labour challenges for a long time – and especially right now. With the help of FutureLog, our customers are able to heavily reduce their time spent on administrative tasks and the procurement itself while improving visibility into any purchase made. Not to mention, today’s hotel teams are digital natives and expect apps that automate processes. They don’t want to spend time on manual, repetitive tasks. Our native mobile app, for instance, is incredibly well received by the hoteliers which utilise it.”

Looking towards the future, Dierberger, anticipates that the momentum across the industry in 2023 will continue into 2024. “Due to strong demand and a recovery from the pandemic, we see that hotels were able to increase their prices and occupancy rates. As average daily rates increase, so do profit margins, which spells good news for hotels. At the same time, very large development projects are coming to fruition, especially in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia. We are delighted to see such immense growth in capital expenditure being allocated to new projects. I also think the continued evolution and implementation of artificial intelligence will only enhance hospitality development and hotels’ ability to focus on the human side of hospitality.”

Additional procurement features roll out in the near future

As for FutureLog, Dierberger says we can expect to see additional procurement features roll out in the near future, including smart invoicing enhancements, broader integrations, and a CAPEX management tool that will enable the tracking, approval and analysis of CAPEX across the organisation. “With our Business Intelligence functionality, we enable a smart and easy-to-access way to view procurement-related data in every hotel, restaurant and venue that is using FutureLog. Our overall goal remains the same – empower our customers by giving them a full suite of robust and flexible procure-to-pay tools that will help them to save time and resources via automation.”

With offices in Switzerland, UAE, Germany, France, Singapore, Thailand, and Australia, FutureLog is creating opportunities and bringing value to customers and communities around the globe. Through innovation, seasoned expertise, and unwavering dedication to delivering world-class service, FutureLog stands as a beacon of trust and reliability, ready to take hospitality e-procurement into the future.

According to this visionary CEO, hospitality clients are rather sensitive regarding their procurement process, and, as a result, they want visibility into all purchases made. “With the help of FutureLog, our customers can bring new levels of transparency into all purchases,” he explains. “It enables them to direct all purchases to suppliers approved by their procurement office. Our latest development, our Business Intelligence tool, supports this transparency and enables our customers to have a real-time overview of their procurement.”

About Puzzle Partner

Puzzle Partner is a marketing agency focused exclusively on the complex B2B initiatives of hospitality and travel technology innovators. By combining industry expertise, strategic thinking, and passion for delivering exceptional results, the agency helps clients achieve their business objectives and stay ahead in competitive markets. With its deep understanding of the hospitality and travel sectors, Puzzle Partner has established itself as a trusted advisor to leading global brands. The agency's insights and holistic methodologies have helped clients navigate the evolving marketing landscape, maximize brand exposure, and drive revenue growth.

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Alan Young
Puzzle Partner Ltd.
Puzzle Partner Ltd.