Cendyn’s Charles Deyo isn’t your typical hotel tech founder by any stretch of the imagination. Deyo is an avid scuba diver, he meditates under pyramids for spiritual guidance and even plans to play guitar at an underwater music festival next year. By 1996, the same year that Expedia was born, Deyo had spent 20 years in the hotel industry before founding Cendyn with his wife Robin to help hoteliers win in the digital age. Cendyn’s first product to market was its eProposal solution which allowed hotels to accept group business RFPs via their websites and grow their group business. While eProposal is still a core component of the Cendyn Hotel Sales Suite, it is only a small piece of Cendyn’s current offering. Today Cendyn’s sales and marketing solutions power more than 30,000 hotels globally through products that touch on hotel CRM, sales software and hotel digital marketing services. Back in 1996, Cendyn’s initial product to market was its eProposal solution which allows hotels to accept group business RFPs via their websites to increase group bookings. Today, eProposal is still a core component of the Cendyn Hotel Sales Suite. The best tech companies listen carefully to client pain points and develop solutions based on those requirements. The history of Cendyn is a textbook example of how to build a great business by listening to your customers. As the internet boomed through the early 2000s Deyo and his team noticed that there was a huge skills deficiency in digital marketing amongst hotels and began to offer digital marketing services to help clients grow their direct channel. During our interview with the Cendyn chief, Deyo told Hotel Tech Report that the biggest inspiration for building his empire was Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia. When asked why, he noted that the Grateful Dead is not just an iconic band but is actually one of the greatest brands of all time. The Grateful Dead brand is so prolific that at its peak it raked in more than $90M per year. Deyo believes that the Grateful Dead’s success could be attributed to one of Garcia’s core beliefs that is summed up in this iconic quote: “We did not want to just be the best at what we did, but the only ones doing it.” ~Jerry Garcia Deyo has always wanted to innovate ahead of the competition and be the “only one doing it” as an ode to Garcia. When Deyo started Cendyn there were few (if any) online platforms facilitating group business RFPs in hotels and he wanted eProposal to be the only one doing it. While others were busy copying his recipe for success, Deyo was pioneering the concept of hotel CRM to provide actionable marketing insights where hotel marketers previously lacked any tools to make data driven marketing decisions. Cendyn is yet again pushing ahead with plans to change the way hotels leverage CRM systems within their businesses. Historically, the hotel CRM sits within the marketing function but Deyo and his team believe it will become much more operational in the future and Cendyn is focused on pioneering the ways hotels leverage CRM systems for operations and not just marketing. Related article: "Super Angel" Dave Berkus on the convergence of PMS, CRS and hotel CRM Deyo believes that hoteliers, too, can benefit massively from living by Jerry Garcia’s credo. The hotel industry is one of the most competitive in the world and in order to stand out hoteliers must find unique ways to can add value for hotel guests, shareholders and staff. In this exclusive interview we spoke with Cendyn CEO Charles Deyo about the competitive advantage enjoyed by hotel technology early adopters, the evolution of hotel CRM as an operational tool and more. Power couple Charles and Robin Deyo co-founded Cendyn together What was your background prior to starting Cendyn? Before starting Cendyn I had many years of hospitality experience including 13 years at Hyatt Hotels as Regional Controller and AVP of Sales and Marketing, 3 Years at Kerzner International as Senior Vice President during the development of Atlantis in the Bahamas and 3 Years as Regional Vice President at Boca Resorts (which also owned The Biltmore and Registry Hotels). Tell us about the Cendyn founding story. After spending 20 years in the hotel industry, I realized that hotels needed software solutions to run their business better. We developed solutions that eliminated the pain points for hotels and drove sales and marketing performance. When Robin and I started Cendyn in 1996, the Internet bloomed in front of us and we decided to use this new medium to develop web-based tools that could help the industry we had worked in for years run their businesses better. The first product we brought to market was eProposal, which is still the industry leader almost 20 years later as part of the Cendyn Hotel Sales Suite. Back then, I did it all, from being the programmer to the accountant and everything in between. We were a small, family-run tech firm. After expanding into hotel CRM and digital marketing, (we were one of the early trailblazers in these areas for the industry), the momentum kept going as we won some of the biggest brands and best hotels in the world as clients. That really amped up with the investment from Accel-KKR a few years ago that gave us opportunities to open new locations, acquire companies and accelerate product innovation. Today, we’re lucky to have over 30,000 hotel clients using our solutions. Who was Cendyn's first customer? Frank Calaguire at Starwood. Frank and I worked at Hyatt together and we deployed our first SAAS solution (Cendyn eProposal) at The Westin back in the 90’s. Frank was a good friend and the Managing Director at Westin Copley Place. eProposal is now in over 22,000 hotels worldwide. The hotel tech market is incredibly competitive, how does Cendyn stand out? Cendyn is a cloud-based software and services provider that develops integrated technology platforms for driving sales and marketing performance in the travel and hospitality industry. The Cendyn Hospitality Cloud offers the most complete set of innovative software and services in the industry, covering hotel marketing, guest engagement, group sales, and event management. Cendyn's eInsight CRM is more than a marketing tool and delivers operational insight Who is one mentor that has made a big impact on your entrepreneurial journey? This is probably not one you hear everyday in hotel tech interviews but The Grateful Dead has had a huge influence on my perspective both personally and within the realm of entrepreneurship. Jerry Garcia said: “We did not want to just be the best at what we did, but the only ones doing it.” Most people don’t realize that the Grateful Dead was one of the most successfully marketed bands of their time and turned their brand into a cash cow which generated $95 million a year at one point. What's one commonly held belief that most hoteliers believe to be true that is actually wrong? Hoteliers believe delivering personalized experiences is hard. I have always looked at technology as an enabler for innovation. With the right enablers, hoteliers can take advantage of technology to make personalization easy, which is one of the cornerstones of our eInsight CRM product. I think either hotels don’t know where to start with their data, or they haven’t democratized access to the right people who can leverage it to drive home personalization. Hotels that standardize 2-way communication among systems and make data integrations a priority are the ones able to break through and outperform in personalization. Information is more relevant, robust and customized when all the systems are speaking to the touchpoints guests have in the journey. What's the most surprising thing you've learned about scaling technology into hotels since founding Cendyn? I was always surprised that standardized integration took so long for our industry. Today, we integrate to hundreds of hotel systems which is key to getting a true 360-degree view of your guest. There are hotels leading the way in how they use technology integrations and those at the other end of the spectrum, but what we do see day-in-day-out is in those hotels that have done so, they have an improved ability to; send the right message to the right guest, through the right channels; gain a clear understanding about the history and preferences of each guest in real time regardless of how they booked; empower their guests to receive information and communicate in the ways that work for them; and deliver the best kind of service, whether it be human interaction or through the use of technology. How do you see hotel tech changing in the next 5-years? We will see more intelligent use of data with AI and bots to further leverage the guest experience. Because of more integrations between technology systems and a higher flow of data between platforms, bots and AI will increase in learned automation and intelligence that can deliver more of the right messages, at the right time through the right channel. We’re in the process of breaking new ground with CRM technology as the core with bots and AI serving based off centralized intelligence. In five years, it will all evolve around the model of a central global profile for guests that references a sophisticated rolodex of data to help serve the customer’s desire for personalization at every touchpoint. Bots will make recommendations, personalize communications and adjust service algorithms in real-time based on data points. CRM will no longer be seen as a marketing function, but rather an operational tool that intelligently orchestrates how everyone interacts with a guest. For Cendyn specifically, we will continue to grow our organic revenue at 20% year over year, along with continued evaluation of M&A opportunities. Do you have any new products or feature launches? As we continue to operationalize CRM for hotels, our latest release of eNgage allows for more sophisticated algorithms that anticipate varying engagement opportunities with hotel guests that, in turn, alert hotel staff. We have a lot of hotels using this solution with great success for personalization, including our client TFE Hotels, headquartered in Australia. They’ve got eNgage across their international hotel group in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark and Hungary. What advice do you have for hoteliers in this economy? Adopt more technology. Even with all the strides the hotel industry has made, it is still behind other industries. Technology must have an ROI by driving sales and marketing performance. With eInsight, our CRM product, we drove an average 33X ROI for our hotel customers in 2018. As the economy hits an inevitable slow down, technology will determine the winners and losers. What's one piece of advice that you have for any entrepreneurs looking to get into the hotel tech space? Keep it simple. Make it valuable. This has been a mantra of Cendyn from the beginning of our company. What is the best book you've read lately? I think we are experiencing significant generational differences due to technology, social media and the varying thought processes. Given that, I thought “Sticking Points” by Haydn Shaw does a great job of explaining how we can make this work with our evolving business teams. Great people working in harmony make great companies. What is your favorite podcast Cendyn’s upcoming podcast series, of course. What is one thing that most people don't know about you? I play guitar and am certified in scuba diving. I plan to play the underwater music festival in Big Pine Key, FL next year. I also meditate under a pyramid on life and business opportunities when needed.
Event Management Software Articles
In our Product Deep Dive series, we go deep into one solution to help hoteliers evaluate and assess the best software for their specific situations. Among the growing number of revenue management tools, IDeaS has established itself as one of the world’s top revenue management systems. Its flagship IDeaS G3 RMS processes 100 million revenue-enhancing decisions each day across 1.6 million rooms, translating rich data inputs into a dynamic revenue engine for peak profit performance. Here are 6 of the features of the IDeaS G3 system that we most certainly can’t live without. #1: Demand-based pricing by room type One of the latest IDeaS G3 RMS features allows revenue managers to yield by room type. For example, let’s say the system detects a spike in demand for the “deluxe double” room type. It will automatically increase the price for that room type -- without also boosting prices on other room types. Yielding by room type unlocks a purer yield management approach, with rates priced according to guest demand and price sensitivity for specific room types, rather than simple attributes or inflexible rules. This reduces the burden of manually yielding across multiple room types, says Angelo Fernandes, SVP for Terranea Resort: “This technology has enabled us to look at inventory by type or segment and actually make decisions to yield room types uniquely across different channels. Terranea is very unique, with 582 keys and a mix of rooms, suites, villas, casitas, and bungalows. IDeaS helped us understand pricing, availability, and demand for each room in order to optimize profitability.” The demand-based pricing approach gives revenue managers a more accurate, holistic view of a hotel’s demand profile. Automation ensures that each room type is priced appropriately for the demand, which yields the most profitable business mix. Sometimes dynamic room-type pricing can be unintuitive, says Fernandes, where smaller rooms are actually priced higher than larger, more premium ones. But it’s all based on actual demand rather than instinct or historical performance. “Effectively, each room type has its own BAR, so we’re now selling more rooms at the correct rate, and we’re also avoiding overbooking a certain room type and then having to move guests to a bigger room.” The IDeaS RMS “at a glance” dashboard #2: Virtual Revenue Management Service (VRMS) Most hoteliers feel under-resourced. Yet, smaller properties are naturally at a disadvantage when it comes to resources -- especially independents that find themselves in direct competition with “soft” brands that don’t directly rely on their parent company’s identity. These brands appeal to a different cohort than the majors, while still taking advantage of the parent’s revenue management expertise. That’s not to say that brand-affiliated hotels don’t also feel the squeeze when it comes to finding resources to devote to revenue strategy. IDeaS set out to solve this issue for any hotel, with its Virtual Revenue Management Service. VRMS helps hotels accelerate their revenue strategy by assigning an industry revenue expert to work directly with hotel staff—no matter the business objective, resource mix or skill level. The three phases of VRMS align hotel management and staff around the techniques and habits of a revenue-focused culture. With the end goal of establishing clear standard operating procedures around revenue optimization, VRMS ensure that hotels of all kinds benefit from the revenue management revolution. #3: Ideal Pricing delivers continuous pricing Automation is at the core of the IDeaS approach to revenue management. Through artificial intelligence and machine learning, it makes precise revenue management decisions that most revenue managers would never be able to see. Ideal Pricing uses deep market intelligence, such as search penetration, competitor rates, booking trends, and reputation scores, to intelligently forecast demand and power a continuous pricing model. The automated system prices room types at the ideal rate for a given product and set of guestroom attributes. The ideal pricing model intelligently prices by day or length of stay, while also allowing hotels to price within a range or set specific price levels for certain attributes. Revenue managers can link products to BAR or independently price as agile rates to dynamically flex products based on unique demand and attributes. The best part of this is that it all happens in real-time and in the background, so revenue managers can focus on tactics and strategy rather than manual data entry. The AI-powered analytics recognize relationships between all rates and segments, continuously making the smartest pricing decisions based on the latest information. With Ideal Pricing, hoteliers achieve peak profitability decoupled from a traditional rates-based framework. #4: Support before, during, and after implementation It’s a common refrain here at HTR: customer support is always a core consideration when evaluating new partners for your hotel. Poor support can scuttle even the most advanced product; without knowledgeable resources available before, during, and after the implementation, a tool risks failing due to low adoption and minimal integration into existing processes. IDeaS sees itself as an ally in implementation, and, as a result, provides robust implementation support that supports a hotel’s efforts to nurture a sustainable revenue culture. The clear plan is to train staff at the outset, as well as through continuous learning so that everyone has the tactical knowledge necessary to get the most of your chosen software. This includes how to read reports and what actions to take action based on those reports. #5: Rate publishing tool Most hotels realize that all distribution channels are not created equal. For peak profit performance, the highest value booking at the lowest acquisition cost. Individual channel performance, plus overall channel mix, equals the optimal revenue strategy. To achieve the optimal mix, hotels need a rate publishing tool that consistently and accurately updates rates across all chosen channels. This Functionality is integrated into the workflow, making it simple and easy to publish rates across channels. No more logging into multiple extranets and manually entering the same information multiple places. It’s all about working smarter and more strategically. Hotels also realize that there’s a trust issue when it comes to rates appearing equal across channels. Rate parity breeds confidence, and an integrated rate publishing tool empowers hotels to build that confidence through seamless rate management. The Demand360 view highlights the competitive market data alongside your hotel’s forecast and decisions. #6: Limited Data Build functionality Launching a new hotel is both an exciting and challenging time. It's a fresh slate to serve a new segment or expand in an existing market. The freshness also poses a problem for revenue management: Without any historical data, how should a hotel be properly priced in its early days? Pricing affects positioning; getting the pricing wrong can alter demand and consumer perception. The Limited Data Build feature addresses this existential issue for new hotels. To forecast demand in the early days, IDeaS will clone data from existing hotels with similar business mixes to provide baselines for demand and predicted guest behavior. One new brand in Germany, Me and all, found that the baseline data helped beat its ADR expectations by 15% in the first half year. “Up until now, one of the biggest problems has been forecasting how a new business will unfold. Normally, we rely heavily on a hotel’s historical market data besides examining the public price points of other hotels to get a feel for the market. On this occasion, however, there was a bigger knowledge gap to fill. -Monika Sand, Corporate Manager Revenue at Lindner Hotels AG Bonus! Lucky #7: Smart Space The complexity of managing revenue grows exponentially when adding groups and meetings to the mix. For larger hotel groups, there may be an additional layer of communication between a centralized revenue management team and property-level sales managers. SmartSpace is a dynamic cloud-based strategy application that provides a revenue-focused visual analysis of meetings-and-events trends and performance. Thanks to more intelligent analysis, hotels can finally optimize revenue on key demand days by using detailed demand profiles to price more strategically. The SmartSpace Functionality guides hotels on forecasted demand, performance trends, market competitiveness, and pricing strategy. Through data and visualizations, it provides a guide to pricing decisions, as well as prioritization of RFP responses. Demand-level data can also reveal patterns across many meeting room types, to reveal which rooms are most popular and which were underutilized. These patterns inform the optimal configuration of those event spaces to ensure that supply meets demand. For instance, rarely-used rooms could be combined or repurposed to better suit the needs of today’s event and meeting organizers. “Smart Space makes it a lot easier for us to study our booked and lost business and better prioritize sales team efforts,” said Christine. “To be able to pull vast sums of relevant data and see that presented in an intuitive and consumable format is such an advantage. It’s the first step of some very exciting progress we’re seeing in meetings and events.” -Christine Wassell, director of revenue optimization for Radisson Hotel Group
Last week Hotel Tech Report attended ITB to discover the most cutting edge innovations in travel and hotels. Each year thousands congregate at Messe Berlin to connect with peers, partners and clients from around the globe. Below are 5 key trends that every hotelier needs to know about this year. In this article we outline each trend, tell you how it impacts your hotel and give an overview of the companies that launched or showcased on trend products at ITB. For those of you who couldn't make it to Berlin we also cut a reel from the show so you can get the next best thing to being there. Check out Hotel Tech Report's official ITB Berlin 2019 Recap video above 5 key trends & takeaways from ITB 2019 1. Automation is going mainstream 2. Software tools are breaking down operational silos 3. Hotel software is moving towards self service 4. App marketplaces are soaring 5. Meeting venues are getting wired up Our take on automation in hotel software Automation allows for time consuming, tedious and repetitive processes to be handled completely by software. When a task or process reaches the limits of the software’s capability, the appropriate team member is looped in to take over which is a beautiful thing. Let’s face it, if you’ve ever worked in a hotel you know that there are dozens of repetitive tasks that seem like a computer should be able to handle and in many cases perform even better, and now they can. Automation frees up staff to focus on the things that those computers can’t handle like high level strategic thinking, trying new products and serving guests. Many hotels are still afraid that technology and the personal touch are conflicting ideas; however, innovative hotel groups are realizing that technology and automation actually enable them to focus on the personal aspects of experience in a way they couldn’t when they were bogged down with repetitive tasks. What's new in automation? IDeaS launches Investigator to let revenue managers uncover the rationale behind automated pricing decisions by asking Alexa. IDeaS announced Investigator, an intuitive way to answer your management's question: How did you achieve that price and those results? IDeaS G3 is the most popular RMS on the market and now clients can ask the system via Amazon Alexa to rationalize the decisions that it automates to provide transparency into the decision making process that is out of a revenue managers hands and handled by the systems powerful A.I. engines. Hotelchamp launches Autopilot to help hoteliers leverage web data and user behavior to deliver personalized web experiences to boost conversion. Hotelchamp announced Autopilot technology, which wants to transform how hotels approach their online guest bookings and experience. Autopilot uses AI to deliver an adaptive experience that is tailored to every single website visitor, and is completely GDPR compliant. Using an A.I. engine to identify customer segments and audiences, Hotelchamp Autopilot can automatically serve the best information for each guest. Autopilot has been trained using pre-populated content, insights from the Hotelchamp data science team, and millions of A/B test impressions. Using this knowledge and live insights from the hotel’s website, Autopilot recognises and personalizes the website experience in real-time to convince visitors to book direct. All Hotelchamp tools can now be controlled by Autopilot, meaning the system will only deploy the right tools at the right time to the right audience. This process happens in real-time and is entirely personalised to each individual website visitor and moment in the booking phase. Crave Scheduler enables hotels to send targeted automated messages generating $5,000/mo in late checkouts. With the amount of times mobile comes up in conversation and the media, you might think BYOD (bring your own device) is the only way to go but the reality is there are lots of occasions where hotels just simply don’t have the ability to get a guest’s contact info or get them to download an app. Crave Interactive has a unique, and near unavoidable, position in the guest’s periphery with its in room tablets that see upwards of 90% guest engagement. At ITB, Crave announced a new feature called Crave Scheduler that puts a unique spin on automation allowing hotels to set rules to send target messages to guests. One of the prime use cases that Crave customers have been taking full advantage of is timed late checkout offers which have seen upwards of $5,000 month in revenue at Crave hotel partners who received early access to the feature. UpsellGuru announced "Auto Pilot" which automates the entire up-selling process. Upsell Guru now sends targeted emails, calculates the dynamic minimum and maximum upgrade bidding prices, sets up the system to decide which offers to accept and when, updates the PMS - all fully automated not requiring human interaction. The new feature allows hotels to up-sell their rooms & ancillary services without moving a finger. This saves hotels plenty of time and allows them to use the system without having to log-in on a daily basis. They’re initial trial was successful with a British chain of 30 hotels where they achieve GBP 65,000 per month in up-selling revenue without any manual human work. Quicktext showcased its website chatbot to help guests find answers faster while unlocking $140,000 in requests per 100 rooms. With Quicktext, guests can book at your hotel through a conversation (on various channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Website Live Chat and SMS), something that has been mainstream throughout Asia (specifically China) via WeChat but has been slower to catch up in the West. The most practical use of chatbots is on a hotel website where prospective guests often get lost looking for basic information. A chatbot can answer critical questions instantly like “how far is your hotel from the convention center?”, “what is the best way to get from the airport to the hotel on public transportation?” and “can we add a cot to our room?”. This helps shorten the time needed to research the hotel and in turn increases conversion into your booking engine flow. Humanise.AI had Gem on display boasting automation of 80% of inquiries. Humanise.AI announced automated web-chat for hotels ensures that guests get an immediate response most of the time, but can still summon a member of hotel staff when needed. When hotels use human-only web-chat systems, they often struggle to respond to enquiries quickly enough, meaning guests leave the web site before they get a reply. With Humanise’s Gem product, they claim to automate ~80% of enquiries, radically improving the guest service and improving conversion-ratios for direct bookings. SABA put its multilingual guest request and F&B ordering chatbot on display. SABA Hospitality Technology announced a bespoke and fully automated hospitality chatbot (SABAGuest Request). This multilingual chatbot and digital F&B ordering platform provides guests with a seamless communication experience, without the need for downloads. It provides operators the opportunity to eliminate language barriers, provide instant answers to all guest requests and enquiries, and engage with guests on their preferred communication platform: messaging. This allows for the redeployment of staff away from call centers and other low-value repetitive tasks, to engage in meaningful guest interactions that help build long-term guest loyalty. Our take on breaking down silos in hotel organizations It’s no secret that hotels have historically suffered from siloed organizational departments because historically without better communication tools and access to data, teams were essentially on an island in their own physical locations. Technology companies are starting to realize that their products and tools can help hoteliers to become more effective by aligning departments around common goals, systems and data. At ITB we saw a lot of this happening as evidenced by a shift where CRM companies are starting to focus heavily on the operational applications of their guest data where historically that data has just been used for marketing purposes. Who's breaking down operational silos? TravelClick weaves Demand360 data into its Campaign Advisor toolkit to leverage market intelligence data to optimize marketing campaigns fostering collaborative efforts between revenue and marketing. TravelClick announced the addition of Demand360 to the Campaign Advisor toolkit. Building on last year’s email send time optimizer, Campaign Advisor now allows hoteliers to take the guesswork out of marketing by providing them with recommendations on when to run marketing campaigns based on predictive occupancy in the market. Demand360 is the hospitality industry’s competitive market intelligence product providing forward-looking reservation metrics and competitive share by segment and channel. Hoteliers using TravelClick’s GMS and Demand360 products will have access to current and projected occupancy data versus competitive sets to best identify the most valuable time periods to run campaigns, allowing them to avoid offering discounts and packages during peak market occupancy and place campaigns when they need it most. A huge pain point for hoteliers is knowing when to send promotions and emails to customers, as hoteliers do not have a clear picture of how their future occupancy compares with their comp set. It’s hard to determine the most valuable time to run a campaign. The Campaign Advisor and Demand360 integration, which is proprietary to TravelClick, takes guesswork out of the equation and enables hoteliers to leverage market data to feel confident that they are choosing the best time to run campaigns and capture demand. Serenata CRM announced Decision Maker, a solution that combines business intelligence with campaign management. Serenata Intraware's Decision Maker allows different users groups like owners, management, operations and marketing to view the same data but from different perspectives to get an optimal view of the hotel operation, identify potential problems and take corrective actions. The Decision Maker KPI dashboard gives a high-level insight into revenue, OTA share, loyalty contribution and other key metrics and trends. Other dashboards give subject matter experts from operations and marketing the ability to drill-down and identify the root cause for a problem and based on this insight create marketing campaigns using micro-segmentation to mitigate the problem without changing tools or breaking the workflow. Cendyn announced eNgage which brings marketing’s CRM data and customer profiles to front line operations teams bringing the gap between marketing and operations. Cendyn's next generation product empowers front-line and call center staff to instantly access guest profiles including historical guest feedback, membership information, brand-wide stays, social profile information and more. Used in conjunction with Cendyn’s eInsight hotel CRM, eNgage sits on top of a hotel’s property management system or call center application and intelligently guides staff to create authentic, meaningful encounters and upsell offerings based on guest history, preferences and loyalty status. This lightweight application can be accessed on any device and features configurable messaging prompts and data displays. Like all Cendyn products, eNgage integrates seamlessly with other hotel systems, utilizing an open architecture that ensures the accuracy and completion of guest information for all team members at every touchpoint in the guest journey. Cendyn’s eNgage solution allows hoteliers to provide the right approach to personalization for guests throughout their stay. eNgage brings to life all the data that hotels are collecting on guests and it displays it in real-time through an application window that always sits on top of the hotel PMS. For staff on the front-line, access to data instantly is critical for them to manage their workload and allows them to navigate every situation elegantly with customer service and upselling, so guests feel known and valued, not overly monitored. Fornova expands its business intelligence offering to create a cross department interface for data insights. Fornova announced that they recently acquired HotelsBI, a hotel Business Intelligence platform. With this acquisition, Fornova now caters to all roles and departments in the property and chain. With this acquisition, Fornova now has three product offerings; Distribution Intelligence, HotelsBI & eCommerce Optimisation. HotelsBI simplifies the process of analysing internal and external data sources thanks to simple, intuitive dashboards - enabling faster, data-driven decisions to optimize hotel performance. Revinate’s CRM is now being used by front desk staff and showcased the scalability of its platform on newly AWS servers. This shift allows Revinate to scale more efficiently and ultimately open guest data to new departments. Revinate showcased the capabilities that get unlocked when front desk staff and managers can access CRM data. MeetingPackage.com brings revenue management and pricing optimization to your sales team. The Company announced a partnership with IDeaS revenue solutions to bring real time dynamic pricing to meeting venues. When paired with MeetingPackage’s online booking engine for event spaces, this is a truly groundbreaking development providing hoteliers with real time insights to optimize pricing and a seamless, intuitive, flexible and real time booking experience. Our take on self service software in the hotel industry This is one of the trends that we’re most excited about at Hotel Tech Report. Freemium and free trials are ubiquitous in the software world but it’s not until recently that it’s broken into the hotel market. The challenge historically with hotel software has been that you need to ingest data from core systems like the PMS to make any software work; therefore, it’s hard to offer a free trial or self service. As the hotel software market moves this direction we’ll continue to see exponential upticks in innovation and sophistication. Another key reason that hotels don’t like trying technology is because even if they like the solutions that they try - they’re so busy that they don’t want to add one more thing onto their teams’ respective plates. Long complex implementations have stifled innovation for years and lead to a massive trust gap between buyers and sellers. At ITB, Oaky cracked the code on this problem by launching it’s simple onboarding wizard which helps hotels go live in just a few simple steps. Who's helping you take things into your own hands? Oaky’s new self service onboarding lets hoteliers start upselling in under 5-minutes. Oaky announced an onboarding wizard which allows hoteliers to go live themselves, by completing a few steps. This reduce onboarding time and effort, and allow hotels to buy Oaky from marketplaces and go live without human touch. Inside the wizard they’re putting together many millions of upsell moments, and predicting the optimal upselling set-up based on the type of hotel and its guests. From combining variables around the upsell, with data around the guest and the property - they suggest the optimal setup for the hotel (what deals to sell, which content, and so on) which also predict how much conversion and ancillary revenue guests that have not yet booked will spend using this setup. In today's revenue management, the room rate is often based on the room and not taking predictable revenue from segments into account. This upsell variable can impact the distribution decision and help hotels better price their rooms. When the revenue management system knows the upsell spend of a guest from various booking channels, they can deduct the distribution costs and end up seeing how to price their rooms for a more profitable booking. Some segments spend 20% on top of the ADR, which makes sense for the hotel to 1) have an upsell setup that allows for that, and 2) an RM strategy that takes it into account to acquire more of those (more profitable) guests. Atomize’s self service functionality lets hoteliers try out automated revenue management on their own time. Atomize showcased its advanced revenue management platform that has flexibility that allows hotels to control as much or as little as they’d like when it comes to revenue strategy. Atomize’s mobile first platform has been designed from the ground up with the idea that hoteliers should be able to go live and try it out without ever speaking with an Atomize rep. The company’s founder, Leif Jaggerbrand told us that he’s had clients come in that his team has never met from countries he’s never heard of. This dynamic is widespread in the broader SaaS industry and companies like Atomize are bringing this dynamic to hotels. Cloudbeds’ PIE bakes new revenue management capabilities native into the PMS. Cloudbeds announced PIE - Pricing Intelligence Engine. PIE is built directly into Cloudbeds hospitality management suite. It is seamlessly integrated with the entire Cloudbeds suite, including PMS, booking engine and channel manager. This helps hoteliers and hosts who want one easy-to-system to manage everything. Many of Cloudbeds’ clients have never used revenue management software before so this provides a lightweight way for them to get started making better pricing decisions. Our take on hotel software app marketplaces Marketplaces are nothing new to the software industry. The reality is that it’s impossible for one technology company to be the best at everything. Historically the hotel tech industry has taken a different approach where incumbents have tried to bolt all functionality into the PMS and maintain a closed architecture but that is rapidly changing as hoteliers are increasingly unwilling to work with closed vendors and sub-par tools. In response to the shift most forward thinking providers are taking towards open architectures, several innovative cloud PMS companies have taken note from tech darlings like Salesforce, Intuit and Apple by creating marketplaces. These marketplaces facilitate seamless integrations and eventually the ability to easily try new products with the click of a button making it easier than ever to find the best tools to grow your hotel business. Cloudbeds, Mews, Hotelogix, protel and Apaleo were the latest entrants into the marketplace space each launching their own native marketplace baked into their PMS empowering hoteliers to easily tap into a plethora of best-of-breed tools to grow their businesses right from their PMS. eRevMax was the first non-PMS marketplace on the market and Snapshot was next but SiteMinder and more recently BookingSuite are clear favorites in the race to marketplace dominance. Hapi is also taking a unique and differentiated approach by building a marketplace that is solution agnostic. Hoteliers should note that none of these marketplaces have gained significant traction from a demand perspective so the field is wide open. While the idea has been around for some years we are still in the early innings. Two-sided marketplaces require supply and demand to develop but those rarely happen simultaneously. Each of the players below has focused on signing supply/tech partners lately so it will be interesting to see which is able to deliver the best user experience and actually change the way hotels interact with their software. Who's who in the rise of marketplaces Cloudbeds Marketplace. On top of announcing its native revenue management tool, PIE, Cloudbeds announced the official rollout of its marketplace offering enabling its 20,000+ hotel clients to access a variety of best-of-breed 3rd party tools to mix and match to find the perfect fit. Mews Marketplace. In a blaze of glory Mews Systems continued its streak of creative conference displays to showcase its marketplace with this year’s theme of Pimp Your PMS (a parody of MTV’s Pimp My Ride) and its booth was cleverly referred to as ‘The Pitstop’. In true Mews style, each team member was adorned head-to-toe in race car pitstop jumpsuits with patches for various apps that are integrated into their marketplace. Touche team Mews, touche... Hotelogix Marketplace. Hotelogix Marketplace launched at ITB and is a one-stop shop for all the hospitality technology needs of a hotelier. It helps hoteliers find and evaluate best-in-class Hotel Technology products on a single platform. Hapi. Hapi is taking a unique and differentiated approach by building a marketplace that is solution agnostic. Why is this important? By being solution agnostic, Hapi's marketplace is freed from the confines of being locked into a single PMS. In fact, Hapi offers technology partners (ie marketplace apps) a way to normalize fragmented and messy data into a streamlined and unified structure opening up the potential to integrate to multiple PMSs (as well as various other hotel systems). Their marketplace offering enables partners to gain exposure to hotels on the platform and enables hotels to tap into other available systems that are connected to Hapi. Although Hapi is a smaller marketplace with only about 30 partners currently, its connectivity to multiple solutions from companies like Oracle, Infor and Salesforce signals a great deal of potential. apaleo. apaleo announced its One connection, where data from all pre-connected tools within apaleo's store is available directly within apaleo’s property management system. No switching between browsers or systems. It happens all too often that hoteliers start off their work day organized, and then somehow within a matter of hours (or sometimes even minutes!), end up with dozens of browser tabs open and many systems running. Especially for front desk staff, it takes tons of clicks and searching around to find the info they need, when they need it. It isn't pleasant. With apaleo One, all the info that hoteliers need is visible within apaleo's PMS, saving staff time and creating a more seamless journey for guests. protel Services Marketplace (SMP). While not quite its first appearance, protel proudly featured its services marketplace at ITB showing off its shiney new native ratings and reviews (syndicated from yours truly) to help hoteliers research, vet and discover the best tools to grow their businesses without leaving the protel app store. Pretty awesome! From the protel team, “The SMP empowers protel customers to choose from a variety of certified and evaluated 3rd party technology vendors covering all the essential hospitality technology services, such as RMS, CRM, PMS and POS. In other words, it's THE App Store to start integration with protel. It's also the point of entry to integrations for any 3rd party vendor to showcase and offer their powerful services to our 14,000 customers around the globe.” The protel SMP marketplace features reviews from Hotel Tech Report to deliver transparency for its users BookingSuite App Store (by Booking.com). BookingSuite unveiled its app store for the first time where hoteliers can use single sign on (SSO) to activate new apps. Many hoteliers are naturally wary of relying more on Booking.com or giving them more data, but overall it is a clear strategic move by Booking to provide more value to hoteliers to mend their often shakey relationship. BookingSuite’s approach is similar to the way LinkedIn, Google, Amazon and Facebook allow users to login to 3rd party apps with their APIs. The difference between BookingSuite and these other tech giants is that they want to take commissions (into perpetuity) from technology vendors. The commission vendors pay in the BookingSuite App Store is 25% for year 1, then 15% into perpetuity. If you are a vendor with an average monthly revenue of $800 per hotel and a 7 year average customer lifetime that means you'll be paying Booking $2,400 in year 1 and $10,080 over the duration of the contract to acquire that single customer. In our opinion, this fee will eventually be passed to the end user (hoteliers) over time and is just another form of integration fee. Google and LinkedIn give away this service free to foster innovation and strengthen their respective platforms. So while BookingSuite’s tech is innovative we’re concerned about their commercialization model and understand why hotels and vendors might want to remain cautious. eRevMax. eRevMax rolled out updates to its LiveOS platform that allows its hotel clients to centralize the usage of various software applications into one interface using single sign-on. While the LiveOS platform was one of the first to offer a marketplace offering, they seem to have fallen behind the competition with a limited range of apps available but seems to be pushing forward continuing to try to continue to explore the potential of LiveOS as a central operating platform, that can plug in various systems to help hotels make critical and time saving decisions across multiple systems without having to piece the data together manually. Our take on wiring up meeting spaces for easy booking During November’s Phocuswright event Hotel Tech Report tried to book the rooftop of several hotels for a client event. In order to book the spaces we had to go to the hotel websites and fill out a form, then wait for responses from sales reps. Some websites didn’t even have a form so we had to manually email reps based on contact info from their website (that we had to dig around for). Out of the 5 desired locations which were some of the hottest hotels in downtown Los Angeles - not a single one responded within 24 hours and 1 didn’t respond to our inquiry at all. Then to make matters worse, by the time they responded the first question was ‘how much budget do you have to spend’. Needless to say, this was a pretty horrible customer experience so we decided to take our business elsewhere and avoided hotels all together for our event. Imagine if you had to write to a hotel to inquire about availability. Now imagine that when you wrote, the hotel wrote back asking “what’s your budget?” The idea is absurd. Hotel websites and OTAs have wired up the industry to make sure this would never happen again. It starts the relationship off with a bad taste for the customer and completely undermines the intended nature of a collaborative ally that a sales manager should be for any client but especially given that they are a prospect who intends to spend thousands of dollars to throw an event. Meetings and events contribute $325B of direct spending in the U.S. alone (source AmexGBT) - so it’s about time this highly profitable inventory got wired up. Who's laying the groundwork to wire up meeting venues? MeetingPackage.com brings channel management and a seamless booking experience to your meeting space inventory. Meeting Package’s Joonas Ahola Joonas also announced his firm’s launch of a meeting space channel manager which allows inventory and rates to syndicate not just on a hotel’s website but across a myriad of 3rd party channels that have popped up to help them find new demand to generate additional revenue . Meeting spaces today can be booked on platforms like AirBnB as well as on niche marketplaces like Breather, Bizly and VenueBook. Venuesuite launches demand side marketplace to help venues and planners work better together online. Announced its direct booking platform (or marketplace) that helps venues & planners work better together online. The platform significantly simplifies the RFP process and sourcing of venues. The time required to book a venue for a meeting/event is reduced from days to minutes. Both planners and venues. It enables planners to find venues fast, book instantly and configure meetings & events 24/7. For venues it generates more revenue via qualitative leads & higher conversion rates as prices are shown upfront to bookers. Within 10 months 1,000+ spaces available in The Netherlands via dedicated venue partners who've joined the new way of online (platform) working. Other notable product launches and showcases Business Intelligence Pegasus announced its Business Intelligence Platform. It's difficult, if almost impossible to transform raw data into actionable insights - it pains most hotel companies, particularly independents. Pegasus BI combines guest data from multiple sources and deliver it with automated intelligence and an easy-to-understand dashboard. Hoteliers can gain immediate insights that allow their properties to increase bookings, revenue, occupancy and profitability. Revenue Management RevControl announced rate recommendations calculated by room type separately. This announcement is specifically meant for hostels where the rate difference between private rooms and individual beds in a dormitory is huge and unrelated. It is now possible to use a separate set of business rules for each room/bed type and link each room/bed type to its exact match at hotels in de comp set to get individually calculated rate recommendations for each room/bed type. RateBoard announced revenue management modules for leisure hotels. RateBoard offers a special module for leisure hotels, taking historical holiday seasons from different countries, matching this data with the booking window of the different nations and optimizing the forecast due to this important factors. HotelPartner Yield Management announced the implementation of success-based billing models. The implementation of success-based billing models aligns incentives between HotelPartner and clients since they don't charge new partners without having achieved added value in regards to room revenue. This is an interesting and innovative approach - we're curious to see how it works as demonstrating uplift is a really difficult thing to prove given market fluctuations and the massive # of variables that can't be controlled. Marketing Travel Tripper announced Real Time Ads & Metasearch Direct. These tools help hotel marketers minimize costs and maximize RoAS on their digital marketing campaigns. Real Time Ads is the first digital marketing tool that allows hotels to advertise—in real time—their rates, availability, popularity and more right on their Google search ads, delivering double the conversion rates. With Metasearch Direct, Travel Tripper has helped hotels generate 38x their spend on metasearch with our direct connect to Google Hotel Ads. Their unique commission model means that independent hotels with smaller budgets can play on the metasearch channel without any risks—and for less cost than an OTA commission. Travel Tripper announced ADA Monitoring Platform. Many hotels in the U.S. are in constant risk of ADA compliance lawsuits simply because their websites are not accessibility friendly. Not only does the TT Web team offer full-service ADA audits on websites, but they also have built out an automated ADA monitoring platform that performs website checks in real time to ensure compliance. Hotel marketers are immediately notified whenever an element of their site falls out of the accessibility guidelines (for example, lack of alt tags, color contrast etc.) Serenata CRM & IgnitionOne launched a next generation CRM partnership that combines both historic guest information combined with real-time intent data. By tracking and scoring website visitors interests and propensity to convert hoteliers can tailor messaging, content and offers, both on the website and in the booking engine accordingly to this data. The scoring technology also supports new guest acquisition by identifying unknown website user that show high interest in a hotel property or a specific offering from the hotel. Based on the interest and score, the visitor can be prompted with personalized newsletter invite. This approach has proven to massively increase the number of newsletter signups, something necessary for many hotels after recent introductions of privacy regulations like GDPR that eliminated a large part of the hotels marketable profiles due to lack of marketing consents. The newly created newsletter subscription profiles are enriched with the interests and intent information from the IgnitionOne scoring engine monitoring the hotel website and can be used for marketing purpose complementing the historical data points already stored in Serenata CRM. With Serenata CRM and the real-time intent triggered personalization powered by IgntionOne you can deliver a true personalized experience for your guests and website visitors to drive incremental revenue. Integrator announcements HAPI announced it’s recent Salesforce integration following a 2-way oxy connect with Oracle’s PMS dailypoint™ - software made by Toedt, Dr. Selk & Coll. GmbH announced a data cleansing solution which allows hotels to automatically clean, correct, and de-duplicate their guest profiles and push that data back to the hotel’s PMS. The fully automated, AI-based process includes hundreds of steps, reviewing all key data points within the guest profile. It removes duplicate profiles, corrects mistakes made from human errors, corrects addresses for more than 240 countries and ultimately creates one single, accurate guest profile for each guest. This data is stored in the central data management solution by dailypoint™ as well as pushed to the hotel’s PMS so that data is accurate across all key sources. Operations Customer Alliance announced Customer Experience Hub extending their surveying capabilities from solely focused on post-stay reputation and review gathering into the full guest journey. The Customer Experience Hub allows hoteliers to customize automated messaging based on events through the guest journey to collect feedback and pipe it in real time to the department or team member who can act on it to recover fast, improve the guest experience and in-turn--improve review sentiment and gss scores. Betterspace GmbH announced Smart Check-out feature with digital invoice and the Self-Ordering function, both for the digital guest directory iQ Tab.The Smart Check-Out enables guests to comfortably check out of the hotel and allows them to view and split their invoice digitally and receive it by e-mail. Thanks to this feature, long waiting lines at the reception desk are a thing of the past. Self-Ordering for the digital guest directory gives guests the opportunity to order food and drinks with the digital guest directory - without leaving the hotel room. Orders are sent directly to the hotel restaurant Both features simplify operational workflows, optimize processes and thus relieve staff and relax guests. This reduces administrative/bureaucratic efforts, saves time and money and the time saved can be devoted to what is important: hotel guests. Travel Appeal announced Mobile Coach, a mobile app designed for on-the-go managers. By combining artificial intelligence with human experience, the Coach is able to detect even the most granular details from customer feedback. It’s the perfect solution for obtaining actionable insights about everything that really matters to a business. Review and operations management, made simple. The Coach app not only improves and simplifies business strategies, but helps users manage and respond directly to customer feedback - reviews, posts and photos published by customers are delivered directly to your mobile. Uncover what your clients really think to offer the best experience and maximize satisfaction. Live updates and a seamless user experience allow managers to track competitors and monitor brand reputation while also collaborating and assigning tasks to staff members. hotelkit GmbH announced a HOUSEKEEPING module. Their existing platform is used by over 40.000 hotel employees in more than 800 hotels worldwide. This new solution now focuses on all housekeeping needs and guarantees high-quality housekeeping standards through fully digitalized processes. Through an easy and modern paper-free task allocation, housekeeping processes are way more efficient. The workload can be distributed efficiently according to an employee's time and skill credits, thus, productivity is enhanced. Through digital checklists, quality standards are significantly high and the entire cleaning process can be monitored easily through real-time tracking. Smooth and efficient housekeeping routines are a crucial aspect in hotels, as cleanliness is particularly important when it comes to the guest decision making process. However, typical housekeeping processes within hotels are still highly inefficient. In order to be able to substantially increase guest satisfaction, hotelkit HOUSEKEEPING was developed together with several luxury hotels - among them the Sacher Hotel Vienna and Salzburg, and the Radisson Blu Hotel Hamburg Airport. As all processes are digitized, fast reactions, increased quality standards, and high guest satisfaction can be guaranteed! Knowcross announced PANIC BUTTON. Hospitality workers are subjected to an inordinate amount of sexual harassment and abuse, which is why as a technology provider we considered the introduction of Panic or Safety Buttons as our way of giving back to the industry. Panic buttons give hospitality workers the ability to summon assistance when needed. PANIC BUTTON helps hotels to provide a safer working environment by instant reporting of harassment complaints by hospitality workers by using technology such as GPS and Bluetooth. Guest Applications & Devices Criton announced multiple property group functionality which was piloted with London-based Cheval Residences became the first brand to adopt the new product. Created specifically for the hospitality sector, the new product gives accommodations providers with multiple properties a platform to include information on each one within a single parent app. With locations across the capital city, luxury serviced apartment specialist Cheval Residences are the first group to adopt the new technology with eight of their luxury properties contained within their new app. Group functionality is a game-changer for multi-property organizations like Cheval; enabling them to showcase the unique personality of each property while reinforcing their brand, increasing direct bookings and driving loyalty from new and repeat guests. GuestTraction announced online check-in to reduce queuing at Front Desk by moving check-in to pre-arrival. More than a third of guests polled (38%) indicated that a source of frustration was the front desk taking too long to complete requests.
Learn how Kevin Brown went from Guest Services Manager to Product Marketer at a $30B dollar hotel tech company in under 4 years
Working as a front desk agent at a hotel is insanely hard work. Hotel guests have extremely high expectations: they want to be checked in fast, they want amazing service, a 24/7 smile and they want to be upgraded to the best room for free. They want you to know everything about them but not too much that it’s creepy. They want friendly conversation but they don’t want you to talk too much. Check-in systems break down, reservations are lost, overbookings happen and so much more can go wrong that is completely out of your control. All that said the buck stops with you as the front desk agent. Rarely will guests ever call your GM to tell them how great you were but they are quick to let your boss know when you’ve messed up in their eyes. So you’re frustrated and stressed behind the front desk - what do you do? If you’re anything like Kevin Brown you’ll find your passion and put in the work to follow your dreams. Today Kevin Brown is a Product Marketing Manager at Amadeus Hospitality, creator of global hotel management software like Delphi Sales & Catering, HotSOS operations software and core GDS solutions for hotels. Most front desk managers and housekeeping managers would think that Kevin’s role today is out of reach. The good news is that your successful career as a technology executive is completely within reach. To get there you’ll need curiosity, outside the box thinking, self guided learning and lots of hard work while your colleagues are going out for drinks after their respective shifts. Here at Hotel Tech Report we’ve recently documented similar career rises like how Matt Welle parlayed his role as a Hilton sales rep into becoming CEO at Mews Systems, one of the hottest technology startups in the hotel software space and creator of a leading property management system for hotels. “What I wish I understood far earlier in my hotel career is that the hotel and travel industry actually set the standards of service for every other industry out there. The skills you develop in hotels DO translate, and frankly what you learn about service in the hotel industry is cutting edge.” ~Kevin Brown Kevin began his career in hotels at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, a property known for its sophisticated technology integrations and infrastructure. While at the Cosmo, Kevin took every opportunity possible to learn about the technology under the hood of the hotel. His unquenchable thirst for knowledge led him into learning the intricacies of every system in the hotel and developing a clear understanding of what was working as well as what wasn’t. Kevin took advantage of his role at the hotel to build relationships with technology companies, he became a power user of their products and they began learning from him as much as he was learning from them. When Kevin first met the Customer Experience Manager at Amadeus Hospitality he knew that’s where he wanted to be. Kevin’s story is an incredible journey that demonstrates how you can leverage your role behind the front desk into a successful technology career so we interviewed him to learn tricks and tips for hoteliers who are thinking about a career in technology down the line. Remember to build close relationships with your existing technology vendors, try lots of different technology products and never stop learning. Can you tell us about your career background in hotels? My career in hotels is quite odd since I only worked in one hotel before I became a part of the tech industry. I originally came from the marketing and production world of the music industry. It was by happenstance stumbled upon an opportunity at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. During my time there I was able to hold almost every major departmental role in the hotel division; both traveler facing and back of house areas. What I enjoyed most about working in hospitality was the blending of so many cultures and nationalities and how much I could learn from people. The only part I dislike about the hotel industry is that it is the most overworked and underappreciated industry. What every hotel industry professional has to go through and deal with on a day to day basis is astounding. To create memorable experiences for travelers is truly nothing short of extraordinary, and yet a majority of the time the only feedback hotel staff get from travelers is negative. Many travelers do not get to peek into how much talent and effort goes into making their stay amazing, and I think hotel staff like room attendants and call center managers deserve recognition for that level of service. What was one technology that you couldn't live without while working at the front desk? I could not live without any tech that automated my work processes and ability to quickly turn data into knowledge. Manual process and effort is the absolute bane of our industry, and with the rapid evolution of traveler and group expectations for personalization and quick response times I do not know what I would’ve done without those empowerment tools. I was lucky enough that I was immediately introduced to technology the moment I stepped foot into the hotel industry, and I feel like I was exposed to cutting edge stuff like chatbots, task automation, and traveler profiling years before hoteliers even knew about it. When the Cosmopolitan opened, the vision of tech integration was a key foundation to the success of the hotel's brand. What would you say is the most widely held misconception that hoteliers have about technology? I think the single biggest misconception is that hoteliers think the solution to their traveler personalization problems is to invest in traveler facing technology and create an omni-channel experience. The biggest problem hoteliers face is actually their staff turnover. What is the point of having traveler facing technology, without experienced staff that have the right technology to empower them to deliver on the brand experience? Your staff must always come first if you want to truly personalize and fulfill your brand promise. This means hoteliers need to balance their traveler facing and staff facing investments more effectively. Tell us about your journey from hotelier into the technology industry. I am 100% a geek and love keeping up with the future of technology. Once I got into hotels, with an immediate exposure to technology, it became a goal of mine to inevitably work with hotel technology. When I was a customer many vendors just wouldn’t listen to the real pain points that my teams had. Many vendors that I was exposed to were just trying to sell their technology without showing me what value they were bringing to solve an actual problem that we had. I developed a strong point of view on what great vendors did and what bad ones did so that I could start adding value and also to help me identify where I’d ultimately want to work. When I met my CEM (Customer Experience Manager) with Amadeus, he and I struck a solid relationship that built over time into a really strong partnership. When my CEM decided to get back into hotel operations, he asked me if I wanted to replace him. Every staff member I met from Amadeus was solely focused on solving problems for their customers. After my interview with my soon to be leaders, and learning that almost every one of my teammates worked in hotels in the past, I knew I had found my new home. The rest is history! What was the most challenging part of moving from hotels into technology? There really was no challenge for me. For me, the adjustment was so surreal to see how greener the side of this world is that suits my passions when compared to the constant, fast-paced nature of hotel operations in Las Vegas. I have to admit, I am lucky beyond measure to let my inner geek out, travel, meet incredibly brilliant people I can learn from, and tell stories that have real meaning for our industry. You obviously loved Amadeus as a customer even before you worked there, what is it that stood out to you about the company? Hospitality is all about the human connection and a property’s ability to deliver positive experiences for guests. Amadeus’ technology solutions provide cloud-native capabilities for the Central Reservations System, Property Management System, Sales & Event Management, Business Intelligence, Media, Guest Management solutions, and Service Optimization. These solutions not only cover the entire life-cycle of a guests’ journey, but offer properties the added benefits of usability, functionality, and visibility into guest data. This represents a game changer for the industry, as venues commonly work with multiple technology vendors and have fragmented views of their guests. Imagine that you're going to open the hotel of your dreams tomorrow. What kind of hotel would it be? My dream hotel to open would be independent, targeted at middle upper to luxury travelers. It would be small with about 75-100 rooms in the heart of Chicago or Las Vegas that catered to music, art, and entertainment with a 40’s-50’s post modern flair. I would also ensure that the property had tactful touches of advanced technology bordering on science fiction levels of experience. I would love to find the right way to bring back the big band era style of hospitality. That post-modern design, and the elegance back then was so timeless. Pairing that timelessness with technology would really be unique in a market so saturated with the same kinds of offerings. I would name it The Indigo. Not only do I enjoy the color, but indigo dye has a really interesting history and it was one of the largest influencers in the globalization of the world. From a technology perspective I would focus on building the hotel with the best infrastructure out there so it was future proof for the next 10 years like fiber lines, BLE, mesh sensors, and building management automation. Otherwise, if I didn’t I would have to keep upgrading every other year or so which is so much more expensive in the long run. I would actually highly limit traveler facing technology, and be tasteful with what channels and tech travelers were exposed to. I would then invest in the best staff facing development tools and technology money could buy to ensure that my staff could work smarter and not harder. I believe staff should always come before the guest, so I would want make every effort to ensure my staff to have every tool they need to easily conduct their day, maintain building integrity, and have knowledge about any traveler they interact with to make the ecosystem engaging and meaningful for both staff and travelers we would host. What's one piece of advice you have for hoteliers who have dreams of working in technology one day? Surprisingly, there are many hospitality tech vendors out there in the world with a majority of staff that have never worked for a hotel a day in their lives. Because of this problem, I think we actually need more hoteliers to move into the tech space than ever before. Thankfully with Amadeus, I am surrounded by decades of hotel experience between my teammates, but almost everyone I work with shared a similar sentiment when they were in hotel operations. Many hoteliers think the moment the work in a hotel, they are sucked into a vacuum of an industry they cannot get out of, and that their skills cannot translate to other industries because travel is so specific. What I wish I understood far earlier in my hotel career is that the hotel and travel industry actually set the standards of service for every other industry out there. The skills you develop in hotels DO translate, and frankly what you learn about service in the hotel industry is cutting edge. It takes years for other industry sectors to adopt hotel industry best practices, so you have more to your advantage than you think. What's one podcast, newsletter or book that you recommend hoteliers read if they'd like to eventually move into tech? Read everything by Malcolm Gladwell. Blink, The Tipping Point, David and Goliath, read all of his stuff. His work opened my mind to new perspectives about how to help others, learn, and gain a greater understanding about what it means to be in service to others. Hospitality is about engaging with people, and dealing with human problems. There is no uniqueness to the problems hoteliers face every day. Travel technology needs as much humanity as possible because travel is all about connecting with a place, with people, and with yourself. What is your favorite hotel in the world? As much as I have thought about this, I honestly cannot pick a favorite hotel in the world. It is just too hard because every great hotel I have stayed at has always offered something different that I enjoy. Each one stands out in its own way. However, I can say this: I think the best hotels in the world are the ones that anticipate my behavior and needs based on what they know about me, especially if they greet me by using my name. What is the most exciting technology you've seen in the hotel tech space that is not built by your own company? Why? Mesh networks and beacon technology. I think that is one of the most impressive future hardware developments not only for hospitality, but for the world. While it is an extremely fine line – where many data collectors have pushed the creepy line to the edge with tech like this – I think that mesh network and beacon technology can truly enhance the lives of travelers and consumers alike. What is one thing that most people don't know about you? I am an identical twin.
It’s been nearly two years since the headline-grabbing merger between two leading events technology companies, Cvent and Lanyon. The boldness of the moment marked a shift for the meetings and events industry, signaling the strength and momentum of the sector. Another signal of health for events and meetings is its size: A landmark research report from the Events Council sized the impact of meetings and events in the U.S. alone at $845 billion, resulting from 1.6 million meetings attended by 251 million attendees. Amex GBT predicts continued strength in global demand for meetings and events. As CWT Meeting and Events VP Tony Wagner notes in CWT’s 2019 Mega Trends report, this demand outstrips supply of venues and hotels, creating challenges for hoteliers: “It causes challenges and we’re seeing more hotels declining to respond to requests for proposals, which encourages clients to increase their lead times to get the properties they want for their events.” Hotels are thus competing more fiercely at greater lead times, changing the way the average hotelier must approach capturing their share of demand. The following trends are guideposts for hoteliers as they navigate the lucrative promise of the booming segment. Data from the latest CWT Meetings Mega Trends report. It’s not just about the meeting room The focus on the experience starts with venue selection. Attendees are no longer satisfied with basic hotel rooms and standard conference spaces, says CWT Meetings and Events’ Emma Chamberlain: “Venue selection in 2019 will be about being adventurous, creative and having the space not to have to sit on a chair all day. Attendee experience is driving that completely, to ensure each delegate has a successful, creative meeting.” Venues that offer exclusivity are in demand, as attendees prioritize unique and memorable experiences when choosing which events to attend. When there are so many events and conferences worldwide, hotels shouldn’t underplay the importance of both the destination and the venue’s appeal to potential attendees. Hoteliers without direct access to historic, creative or other alternative spaces should link up with appealing local venues to build a compelling, diverse portfolio. These options can become secret weapons of competitiveness for hoteliers competing in a dynamic global environment for meetings and events. Industry trade organization Meeting Planners International highlights the aspirations of the meetings and events industry. Mainstreaming of VR and AR technologies To achieve more interactivity in the experience, an Eventbrite survey found growing experimentation with virtual reality and augmented reality. These two much-hyped technologies shape new ways to interact with an event, pushing beyond the existing physical space to create hybrid events. Virtual reality (VR) brings remote attendees closer to the real-world experience, and can also be deployed on site to boost conversions for tradeshow exhibitors. Destination marketers are a great example of this; by offering VR capabilities on site, destinations trigger emotional reactions which boost the ROI of attending tradeshow-style events. Augmented reality (AR) quite literally layers information on top of the physical space. Whether for wayfinding during a large event, finding specific exhibitors, or building new billboards for sponsors to engage with attendees, AR expands the possibilities for events and meetings as anchors of the business world. Streaming is now a must It was only a few years ago that live streaming seemed premium. Today, events see live streams as table stakes. Whether as an additional revenue stream for remote attendees or as a value-add to attendees who want flexible ways to consume content, live streaming is more popular than ever. In the Eventbrite survey, 96% of event organizers had plans to live stream in 2019. Another advantage of live streaming is that video can be re-packaged into smaller clips for promotion on social media, post-event marketing to attendees, and even as a standalone ‘video only’ package. For hoteliers looking to be competitive, be sure to invest in bandwidth capacity to support the needs of both event organizer and attendees. There’s little-to-no patience or slow Internet. Shifting commission dynamics drive festivilization Recent moves from IHG, Hilton, and Marriott to cut commissions from 10% to 7% in North America has wide-reaching implications. Beyond the obvious dip in revenue for travel agents and meetings planners, the change necessitates greater innovation into the experience. Within these shifting economics, the ‘festivilization’ of meetings and events puts a greater focus on strong audience engagement that both boosts attendee satisfaction and event popularity. For example, hoteliers should collaborate with event planners on additional components to events that increase impact and revenue, such as offering off-site activities, expanding menu options to include more premium selections, and supporting new technologies within the meeting space. Other collaborative opportunities exist when curating entertainment, designing visuals, and planning an event’s layout and flow. Amex GBT found that lower commissions are top-of-mind for planners. Now, more than ever, each event must stand on its own without relying on hotel commissions as a key funding source. Hotels can facilitate this shift by helping to deliver events with the impact organizers want and the experience attendees love. Full bellies belie culinary satisfaction Murmurs of displeasure heard in the buffet lines act as a potent reminder: just because attendees eat the food doesn't mean they like the food! The culinary expectations of event attendees have grown alongside the farm-to-table movement. Today, hotels must offer broad coverage of diets and preferences, without sacrificing quality or dramatically increasing prices. These offerings boost attendee satisfaction, which can increase likelihood to return and makes an event more successful. Outside of the conference schedule, there’s also the attraction of a culinary hotspot within a hotel. As a venue for evening events, lunch meetings, or cocktails, many hotels use chef-driven F&B as a key selling point. And, as technology facilitates efficiency within a hotel’s operation, these culinary expectations extend to room service. "With more event choices than ever, the attendee experience has become a differentiator and a key driver in achieving the meeting or event objectives." -Amex GBT Global Meetings and Events Forecast The integrated event app It's no longer optional to have an event app. Thankfully, there are ways to adapt the investment to the specific needs of each event. For instance, a web app costs much less than a standalone event app. And while the standalone app requires a steeper investment, it can be the integrated backbone of an event’s operations, handling a variety of tasks from CRM to networking to registration. The event app coalesces social engagement by making it simple to share content from the event. This functionality drives engagement for both attendees and those watching from afar. “The way we use social media in our private lives is being used more and more in our business lives. That is not about adding a hashtag to a meeting, but thinking how we use social media during an event to create greater impact, and using it much more for delegate advocacy.” -Perinalla Andren, CWT Meetings & Events The event app also harnesses the wave of artificial intelligence, with chatbots driven by machine learning becoming ubiquitous in 2019. Event organizers and hotels can leverage the popularity of the event app to communicate with attendees and guests in new ways. By being more useful in providing information through conversational interfaces, the app further entrenches itself as a must-have communication tool. Small meetings and off-sites Meetings and events are not all massive affairs. In fact, one of the fastest growing Segments of meetings and events are on the smaller side. These are generally staff off-sites and small meetings which don't have a lot of people but still require thoughtful execution. This trend emerged from the adoption of remote work, which offers geographic flexibility to a company's employees but reduces opportunities for face-to-face interactions. For some companies, quarterly off-site have become the norm. Technology for self-serve group bookings has proliferated in recent years. Companies like Breather and Bizly offer a simplified interface to quickly and efficiently organize a small meeting. The importance of small meetings and off-sites will accelerate through 2019. *** As hotels begin to respond to RFPs for events deep into 2019 and beyond, it’s not easy to predict what the world will be like once an event nears. The best approach is to consider the velocity of current trends to understand the likely impact on a future event. Even so, it’s impossible to predict the future, so hotels must be nimble with their offerings. Hotels that adapt dynamically will be best suited to capture more of the valuable meetings and events trade.
Food and beverage options can sometimes hit your budget hard. But there are ways to reduce your spend by working with your hotel for alternate F&B options. Here are 3 tips to help you save on F&B at your next hotel event. Save on water: Instead of paying for plastic water bottles that are costly and impact the environment, provide water on the tables at your event. This can be simple tap water and only requires the attendees to pour the water for themselves. Even better, offer a sponsorship for a branded reusable water bottle that can be filled up each day. Skip the breakfast buffet: Many attendees will not want a large breakfast buffet to start their conference. Instead, work with your hotel to provide a breakfast voucher, which could offer breakfast at a reduced price. You can also have a specific menu at the hotel restaurant that is available with the voucher. Many attendees skip breakfast or want something smaller, so this can give them additional options. Rethink the break: If you do offer some kind of continental breakfast or buffet lunch at your event, ask the hotel staff to leave out items like soda, coffee, fruit and pastries. You have already paid for them and if not used, they get thrown out. Attendees may want to continue to snack so leave those food items out for attendees to eat during a natural break point during the conference. You can work with your hotel meeting staff to help reduce your F&B without impacting the attendee’s experience.
When you are developing items for attendee engagement, consider using the show hotels and the attendees’ room to provide engagement throughout the show. The show bag: Many times, a show will provide a bag where items can be added for the attendee. You may want to skip the printed postcard and think about a giveaway that attendees will appreciate and use. Branded items such as hand sanitizer, notepad, or phone charger provide brand awareness and attendee use. Those items will make it home with the attendee, which is what you want. And with a delivery done to each attendee in their hotel room, you know the item is getting where it needs to be. The show bulletin: Your show may also provide a daily show magazine or bulletin. This is another opportunity to add in content that will be read at the start of each show day. Many times, the show bulletin will be printed and added to the show app, so both of these modes of communication will make it into the attendees’ hotel room. Offer content to this communication channel to showcase your expertise and make your content something your attendee will want to read before they head out of their hotel room. The show extras: If you have the budget, you can have some fun with ‘show extras’ that attendees will not expect. Think something interesting like providing chocolate on the pillow for one of the show nights. You can also provide something like a happy hour sponsorship in the lobby where attendees have the opportunity to engage and network with each other on the night before the official show opening. Extras should be out of the box and allow for branding, since they will be put directly into the attendees’ hotel room. Use the location of the attendee in the hotel guest room for in-room and branded engagement.
In pursuit of more conductive, unconventional workspaces, business types are leaving their sterile offices in large numbers. There has been a steady increase of worker on the move in recent years, which is to say that more and more of them do not possess a steady office anymore. Parts of the hospitality sector are adapting in order to meet this new demand spike. Namely, forward-thinking hotel brands are figuring out how to accommodate a new wave of mobile workers. They are reconverting their capacities into places for both work and sleep in order to support changing work patterns and habits. And that is just the beginning. The game has changed Increased mobility and the modern communication technology surge are reshaping the way we go about our obligations and daily tasks. Business travel is on the rise and the lines between personal and professional are blurred. Being chained to an all-purpose workstation for the better part of the day is no longer an appealing proposition or everyone’s idea of having a really productive time. Business owners have a lot to think about here as well. Does it really make sense to commit to long-term leases for office buildings when they can rent small-scale meeting rooms and other spaces in hotels? Well, companies determined to trim overheads are encouraging transient workers to flock to hotels. After all, real estate usually represents the second largest expense for an average business. On top of that, not having too many workers in the office every day solves problems such as continuous reduction is space allocation, high noise levels, lack of space for focused and solitary work, and increasing sharing rates—issues that are even more pronounced in open-plan corporate environments. This does not spell the end of assigned and permanent workspaces altogether, but we could be heading in that direction. Reinventing the lobby More and more hotels are allowing guests and non-guests to use communal spaces with Wi-Fi and mingle and network there. We are also witnessing pop-up offices sprouting up across the hospitality sector. Of course, while some people are happy to just have a desk and internet, others want more. One of the issues hotel-based workers would often face is privacy. The good news is that things are looking up in this department as well. Today’s hotel rooms are more flexible, offer a high level of privacy and customization opportunities. All of that is available and packed in a smaller footprint. Furthermore, hotels that go the extra mile are increasing the amount of useful, revenue-generating spaces. They are taking on contemporary office refurbishment projects to transform underutilised capacities and give off a strong professional impression. Some chains feature whiteboard areas for brainstorming, workstations that multiple people can use, and even entertainment amenities in the form of gaming consoles. Lounge areas serve as interview and meeting spaces, a role that lobbies used to fill before. Speaking of lobbies, they are now turning into multifunctional areas with bars, coffee shops and chill-out zones. There, one can eat, drink, meet and work. Taking work experience to new heights Another trend is hotels connecting their indoor and outdoor spaces. We see rooftop terraces, bars and restaurants, as well as other areas popping up in major cities across the globe. They want to enable workers to experience the surrounding city or natural features. Moreover, it is also possible to play mini golf, unwind by the pool, take advantage of wellness facilities and get the taste of unique dining experiences in themed restaurants. You could say that hotels are well aware that modern employees often have to tackle a variety of diverse tasks throughout the workday. Thus, they want to give them a chance to move around and choose how they will utilize the space. All in all, there is so much more a hotel can offer than a traditional office. It is high time to wake up to the new reality: The future is now and it is only a matter of time before other hotel brands and businesses jump on the bandwagon. The best of both worlds Recent years have brought forward a profound shift in how people perceive spaces designed for leisure, work, and other life priorities. Hit by these winds of change, the hospitality sector itself is undergoing a transformation, bent on capitalizing on developments like digital revolution, shifting demographics, and new work practices. These days, hotels provide a combination of communal, social hubs, various entertainment amenities and private enclosed areas. Dropping out of the 9-5 office cycle, next-generation professionals eagerly spend time there, exerting freedom over where and when to work.
Hotels have a unique selling position for hosting events and meetings, with both convenience and atmosphere. When touring new hotel properties, while I am happy to view the typical meeting room, the fun begins when I get to see spaces that would take a corporate event to the next level. Properties should take these ideas into consideration when promoting their corporate event capabilities. Embrace the outdoors: We are well into summer weather now – and having meetings outside reminds me of when you would sometimes have a college class on the quad. Change up the learning environment, especially when you have smaller groups. Create an ‘enclosed’ environment with proper seating and even a small canopy. Outdoor activities do not have to be just for happy hour and networking events. Think different with a penthouse suite: If you have a client who is looking to do a design thinking workshop or brainstorming session, utilize a penthouse suite to create a more intimate environment. With a living room, breathtaking views, and easy access to food and beverage (kitchen and dining space close by) and bathroom facilities, a suite provides a unique environment, especially when meeting spaces might be already in use. Move into the hallway: Quick breakout sessions can easily be done right outside the meeting room. While many event planners only think about the hallways as a means to get from point A to point B, or to have food and beverage stations, hallways can be set up to provide smaller gathering areas. Provide clear seating, tables and outlets so each group can grab their area and start their conversation without having to move furniture. When you are working with event managers, consider how your entire property can be used for an upcoming event. Your event manager will be happy to see you thinking outside the typical meeting room.
February 12, 2018 - Hotel Tech Report has named Delphi 2018’s top rated Sales Software based on data from thousands of hoteliers in more than 40 countries around the world. Over 100 of the world’s elite hotel technology products competed for a chance to win this prestigious title. The HotelTechAwards platform (by HotelTechReport.com) leverages real customer data to determine best of breed products that help hoteliers grow their bottom lines. “The GM of perhaps New York’s most esteemed hotel once told me that he viewed his property like a factory. He elaborated that he viewed group business as the output of that factory and that leisure was the excess capacity that he flexed seasonally and cyclically. Without effective sales software, your factory doesn’t stand a chance” says Hotel Tech Report’s Jordan Hollander. Amadeus’ Delphi Sales & Event Management product line is poised for sustained growth in 2018. Hoteliers recognized the product’s ability to deliver an incredible return on investment with a score 6% higher than the category average. “Delphi provides powerful functionality for sales and catering, account and contact management, and reporting and analysis that help properties and venues drive revenue, increase operational efficiency, and improve guest satisfaction” says a Boston based corporate Director of Sales with over 10 years experience in the hotel industry. To read the full review and more, head to the Delphi profile on Hotel Tech Report