Popular Guest Facing Technologies Categories

Popular Guest Facing Technologies Products

Crave Interactive (Tablets)

World leading developer of cloud-based solutions for hotels that provide digital guest services, including food ordering, digital concierge, entertainment and automation via proprietary in-room tablets. Crave clients range from Iceland to Tasmania, from 25 to 4,000 rooms, and from luxury to limited service hotels. From a simple directory replacement to a full range of innovative digital guest services, Crave in-room tablets offer the right solution at the right price for any hotel

ImpulsePoint by Impulsify

A front desk POS and comprehensive retail management system for hotel lobby retail. Automates front desk transactions and inventory management for unattended grab-and-go markets with barcode scan technology and a massive product database of retail business intelligence, ImpulsePoint takes all guessing out of running a profitable lobby store.

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10 pieces of advice for innovative hotels according to top tech executives

1. Don't overestimate the difficulty of delivering a personalized experience “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.” ~Charles Deyo from Cendyn eInsight CRM “Many hoteliers believe that personalisation is not important enough to spend time on. But in reality, the cost of standardised digital communication, and generic upsell offers and promotions is enormous. Hotels are literally losing money with every guest that is walking through the front door.” ~Erik Tengen from Oaky Upsell Software   2. Place importance on vendor quality rather than size “Unfortunately, in this industry, the size of a hotel tech vendor sometimes is overplayed or overemphasized, while the quality of product and engineering teams is underemphasized. People often assume that large companies have better products simply because they can afford better engineers relative to smaller companies. This is far from the truth—I've seen very large companies struggle with their platforms and engineering initiatives. And I’ve seen smaller companies blow away the industry with their solutions. The important thing for hotels to remember is not to judge tech vendors by the size of the company, but by the quality and capabilities of their product and their dedication to customer service. It seems obvious, but happens more often than you think.” ~Gautam Lulla from Travel Tripper RezTrip CRS   3. Understand that artificial intelligence will not take your job “Hoteliers believe that revenue managers will lose their jobs when artificial intelligence gets good enough. I believe that artificial intelligence is going to make revenue management an even more valuable skill because it will take more insight and analytical rigor to stand out from the competition set in a data-driven world. Hoteliers are used to looking at PMS as a cost centre of the hotel. With the maturity of Cloud PMS, the paradigm has changed. A PMS should not be considered as cost, but as a system that will help them grow revenues and business. Also, for most hoteliers, deciding on PMS is an operational decision whereas I feel it should be more of a strategic decision.” ~Aditya Sanghi from Hotelogix PMS   4. Stop running your operations with pen and paper “Perhaps the most common belief I used to hear was that the Concierge didn’t need an application because they could use Excel or their logbooks. We obviously felt differently especially after spending time behind the desk and seeing the amount of work done manually and the importance of providing a tool to enable the team to be more efficient. We believe the role of the Concierge should be in the center of the hotel operation since their work touches so many departments and has such a significant impact on the overall guest experience. A good Concierge team does the job so well that they make it look easy. What is often not recognized or seen is the volume of work being done behind the scenes to deliver such a great guest experience. Investing in a tool allows the team to be more efficient and spend more time and attention on the guests. I believe the reason guests come back now is mostly because of the way the Concierge and other team members make the guests feel when they leave, more so than just having a beautiful hotel. Without a tool such as ALICE, it is very difficult to be efficient and create that great guest experience.” ~Adam Isrow from ALICE Hotel Operations Platform   5. Leverage technology to decrease staff churn “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.” ~Kevin Brown from Amadeus Hospitality   6. Place less emphasis on meeting budget in volatile markets “Hoteliers are not comfortable making changes to prices without knowing the effect it has on their ability to reach budget. In a volatile market, too much emphasis is placed on meeting budget and making safe pricing decisions that ultimately limit a hotel’s revenue achievement. Placing an emphasis instead on demand-based pricing will help secure the highest possible revenue from the marketplace. "Some hoteliers believe it is prudent to wait until business is strong and making more profit before they invest in “nice to have” tools such as revenue management software. That is like saying an athlete should wait until they can run faster before they buy good running shoes. It is the revenue management system that will enable them to maximize their yield and create the bigger profits." ~Ravi Mehotra from IDeaS Revenue Solutions   7. Embrace technology, software is cheap and extremely easy to use today “Most hoteliers are skeptical about technology - for good reason.  Tech companies have a long history of over promising and under-delivering.  As a result, new technologies are not often eagerly adopted by experienced hotel people.  They would rather "wait and see" before embracing yet another "shiny object" tech solution.  The last thing we need is another complicated software program that takes up all of our time and delivers little value.  Tech providers need to focus on the benefits of their solution and design products to require minimal effort for maximum value.  Don't assume that because hotels are multi-million dollar businesses that we like to sit around on our laptops all day - we have become successful by taking care of travelers - and each other - with the service and care that we'd provide to our own families.” ~Del Ross from Hotel Effectiveness Labor Management System “The most common misconception about technology is that it's too expensive. Hoteliers have this misconception because they don’t fully understand the value that the technology brings. They see it as a cost rather than as a profit center. Hoteliers often buy technology the same way they would buy a TV or a pillow. And because of that, tech vendors have been forced to limit their innovation.” ~Marco Benvenuti from Duetto Revenue Management   8. Don't ever manually price hotel rooms “They believe they can do good or decent manual pricing... but in reality there is no way a human can do even a decent job at pricing a hotel. The math behind that statement is really simple, there are two main reasons why a human has absolutely zero chance versus an automated AI system: 1) The sheer scale of the problem. If you're a hotel with 5 room types, 4 variations on each room type (breakfast/cancellation), bookable 365 days in advance, and want to update each price once per hour then you have 0.49 seconds per price to do your analysis and set the price. Even if you simplify the problem drastically, let's say you have a fixed additional cost for breakfast & cancellation, that you just want to update the prices once every four hours, and that you only allow your guests to book in the last 30 days, then you still only have 96 seconds per price to do the calculations and set the price. The sheer scale of the problem makes it impossible for any human to keep up and do a good job. 2) The complexity of the problem. It's important to acknowledge that no price is an isolated island, if you change the price of one room type for a particular arrival date then it will have an effect on all the other room types for the same arrival day. But that's not enough, it will also have an effect on the adjacent days as many people stay more than one night and some one-nighters are flexible and price sensitive. There is this ripple effect and you need to present the optimal set of prices, not the price that is thought to be optimal for one specific room type. Quite often the optimal price for one room type will have a negative impact on the overall revenue, and to calculate the optimal set of prices is both hyper complex and very computationally intensive, it simply cannot be done by a human. Humans should focus on strategic revenue management, not at setting prices.” ~Leif Jaggerbrand from Atomize   9. Stop paying massive sums for integration fees when the entire world has moved to open APIs “Hoteliers that its extremely hard and expensive to integrate different software solutions. Having built our own PMS with open API, I can confidently say that this is no longer true, and we stimulate hoteliers to integrate as much as possible to make their lives easier.” ~Matthijs Welle from Mews Systems   10. Use technology to create more personal interaction, not less “Messaging is impersonal, you can’t replace in-person interactions.” The aim of messaging is not to replace in-person interactions or even phone calls, it is to fill the customer service whitespace or void that exists today. There are a large portion of travelers and consumers today who are not communicating with your organization because you may not have the proper means. With the increasing influx of technology separating the hotel staff and guests (e.g. OTAs and Mobile Room Keys), messaging is one of the main components connecting hotels with their guests today.” ~Chris Hovanessian from Whistle

Hotel Tech Report
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Here are 16 must read books recommended by top hotel general managers

Being a hotel GM takes finesse and creativity.  You have to be both analytical enough to manage your hotel’s P&L and personable enough to interact with guests.  Usually employers have to choose between a people person and a numbers person but when searching for a good hotel GM owners need to look for both. Ultimately, a hotel GM is a business owner responsible for everything that happens between the four walls of a hotel.  You have to handle situations ranging from a staff member who needs to be rushed to the ER for cutting their finger on the job to hiring talent and figuring out how to increase revenue per available room when occupancy is down.  In case you couldn’t tell already GMs are stretched in a million directions and are expected to excel at everything, always. Due to the demanding nature of the GM role, it’s important to also spend time educating yourself on a variety of different disciplines and lots of this requisite knowledge can be found in books.  Rather than tell you what books we think GMs should read we asked some of our friends who happen to be top hotel GMs about the books that have helped make them such incredible successes. We have got recommendations from GMs around the world - from Belgium to Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and everywhere in between. The book topics range from practical guides that help you run your hotel to productivity hacks, self improvement books and stories about how to be resilient under immense pressure. Without further adieu - here are the 16 books recommended by top GMs for their peers.   1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey Recommended by Simone Harms from Sage Hospitality in Santa Clara, California, Campbell Lee from Quest Apartment Hotels in Melbourne, Australia and Alex Obertop from SIDE Hotel Hamburg in Hamburg, Germany The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People teaches you both personal and professional effectiveness by changing your view of how the world works and giving you 7 habits, which, if adopted well, will lead you to immense success. Habits one through three are focused on self-mastery and moving from dependence to independence. Habits four through six are focused on developing teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills, and moving from independence to interdependence. Habit 7 is focused on continuous growth and improvement, and embodies all the other habits.  Hotel GMs can all relate deeply to these principles and for any GMs in a rut, Quest Apartment Hotels GM Campbell Lee told us, “7 Habits was a turning point for me. I was forced into reading it a decade ago by my GM at the time (which I did kicking and screaming!), but found it so engrossing to have a fully documented system for essentially being a better person; especially one that is so easily communicated to others you yourself are helping to mentor and grow. Within 6 months of reading it, I took the leap and quit my job and applied for a Hotel GM position without any prior experience, and have never looked back!”   2. Emotional Intelligence: The Groundbreaking Book that Redefined What it Means to Be Smart by Daniel Coleman Recommended by Imran Jivani from Bedderman Lodging in Chicago, IL and Silvia Nadal from Hotel Jazz in Barcelona, Spain Emotional Intelligence explains the importance of emotions in your life, how they help and hurt your ability to navigate the world, followed by practical advice on how to improve your own emotional intelligence and why that is the key to leading a successful life.  Being the general manager of a hotel can be highly emotional with extreme ups and downs. Understanding how to channel those emotions is absolutely critical for keeping your staff productive and happy. "Understanding a person is much more complicated than a position, but that understanding brought on by emotional intelligence will help create a future leader who has a vested interest in the success of the company, property, and (most importantly) themselves," says Imran Jivani of Bedderman Lodging.   3. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek Recommended by Enoch F. Nimene from Bridge Hotel Group in New York, NY and John Kirk Wright from Banyan Tree Companies in Roswell, Georgia Start With Why is Simon Sinek’s mission to help others do work, which inspires them, and uses real-world examples of great leaders to show you how they communicate and how you can adapt their mindset to inspire others yourself.  Sinek’s belief is that the important thing is not what you do (run a hotel) but why you do it. It’s important for hotel GMs to understand why they run their hotel - is it for profit? Is it to make guests feel at home? Once you understand and communicate your own motivations you’ll be better able to motivate your team.   4. I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life by Brad Formsma Recommended by Paul Patiño from The Saguaro Palm Springs in Palm Desert, CA Paul Patino runs one of the most coveted hotels in California - the Saguaro Palm Springs.  Paul believes that the essence of being a great general manager is not in your ability to simply own the P&L but in your unique ability to give of yourself.  Paul told us that, “What I’ve learned in my long run in hospitality is that running an operation and answering to a P&L to ownership at the end of the month/year is all the same. Anyone can do it once they have had enough practice but the true challenge is being that leader that can move everyone in the same direction together and bring out the best in each person. Not everyone can do it and most days with social media and the world we live in, everyone wants that quick instant gratification. When in reality all great things take time, patience, and lots of love. The book I’m reading now is teaching me what I have done for a long time for others but just giving me a sharper knife. Doing right by others and leading by example, having a true connection with each person and inspiring them to be better versions than they already are is what’s truly important in this industry now a days. Once you have that the whole operation runs itself and people or group of happy people can overcome any obstacle, move any mountain. This book highlights that in so many ways and I encourage you to read it if you haven’t and go change someone else’s life and most of all have fun discovering how much you can do for others with very little.”   5. Setting the Table: The Transofrming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer Recommended by Gary Gutierrez from HRI Lodging in New Orleans, LA This is not a typical business book, and it’s certainly not a how-to book.  For hoteliers, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Running a hotel, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It may sound easy but this is actually pretty difficult to execute on. Danny Meyer, founder of Union Square Hospitality and the global hamburger empire, Shake Shack coins what he calls ‘Enlightened hospitality.’  Danny’s lessons help you put hospitality to work for first for the people who work for you, guests, community, suppliers, and investors — in that order.   6. The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday Recommended by Peter Smiley from Hotel Nexus in Seattle, WA This book is a modern take on the ancient philosophy of Stoicism, which helps you endure the struggles of life with grace and resilience by drawing lessons from ancient heroes, former presidents, modern actors, athletes, and how they turned adversity into success, thanks to the power of perception, action and will.  Many CEOs joke that their job is to be a plumber, finding holes in their respective businesses and plugging those holes. As the CEO of their hotels, GMs are constantly facing obstacles and adversity - this book gives GMs tools to turn obstacles into success.   7. Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask by Michael J. Marquardt Recommended by Joseph Kirtley from Highgate Hotels in San Francisco, CA This is a highly acclaimed book that blends theory and practice on a leadership skill that is universally appreciated but seldom illustrated - asking the right questions.  Joseph Kirtley, GM at Highgate Hotels says it best, “Leaders often feel that we are supposed to have all the answers. In actuality, being a great leader takes humility, and asking the right questions. Opening yourself to the strengths and knowledge of those around you takes you to another level.”  Throughout the book, he demonstrates how effective leaders use questions to encourage participation and teamwork, foster outside-the-box thinking, empower others, build relationships with customers, solve problems, and much more.   8. Zapp: The Lighting of Empowerment by William C. Byham, Ph.D Recommended by Gary Gladstone from Diamond Mountain Hotel & Casino in San Jacinto, CA “Zap taught me to think a different way. When making a decision about how to handle a guest problem I now remember to ask the agent involved their opinion and what they recommend,” says Gary Gladstone of the Diamond Mountain Hotel & Casino. Employee motivation is often a difficult idea to truly grasp, yet alone to influence and leverage. Yet, if companies are to continuously improve, as is necessary for survival and success, everyone in the organization needs to be engaged. Byham writes that people with this engagement (those who are "zapped") have "responsibility, a sense of ownership, satisfaction in accomplishments, power over what and how things are done, recognition for their ideas, and the knowledge that they're important to the organization."   9. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie Recommended by Guillaume Verchere from Radisson Hotels in Brussels, Belgium How To Win Friends And Influence People teaches you countless principles to become a likable person, handle your relationships well, win others over and help them change their behavior without being intrusive.  Many GMs even go on to take the Dale Carnegie course which teaches interpersonal skills and public speaking to help them become better leaders in their respective communities. Some of the concepts that Carnegie outlines seem intuitive and simple but are fundamental to creating and fostering strong interpersonal relationships.   10. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt Recommended by Liutauras Vaitkevicius from Good Hotels in London, UK Freakonomics helps you make better decisions by showing you how your life is dominated by incentives, how to close information asymmetries between you and the experts that exploit you and how to really tell the difference between causation and correlation.  This is a somewhat nontraditional pick for GMs but provides a valuable framework to think about incentivizing team members on property to consistently deliver the best experiences to guests. Luitauras told Hotel Tech Report, "this book helped me to become more efficient, more effective in my work. Once I understand correlation, reasoning, needs of my guests and my team, I can make right decisions quicker. It has also taught me to look into data more closely and challenge 'old ways' of doing things. And that really pays off long-term in building structure, new processes and helping my team achieve more in shorter periods of time."   11. Switch: Hot to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath & Dan Heath Recommended by Mohamed Elbanna from Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in Palm Beach, FL Switch is about how you can lead and encourage changes of human behavior, both in yourself and in your organization, by focusing on the three forces that influence it.  You might have heard the analogy of your brain as a rational rider, sitting on top of an emotional, stubborn elephant, trying to direct it, which makes it easier to understand how your brain’s rational and emotional side work together.  Hotels are often thought of as slow to adapt when market dynamics shift and Heath gives a strong framework to help get your team ahead of changes to beat out the compset. Heath argues that what many think is resistance to change is actually just a lack of clarity around how to change.  Setup incentives correctly and give a clear path forward for your team and even ownership for that matter - you won’t regret it.   12. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life by Richard Carlson Recommended by Rob Flinter from PPHE Hotel Group in London, UK Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff will keep you from letting the little, stressful things in life, like your email inbox, rushing to trains, and annoying coworkers who drive you insane and help you find peace and calm in the stressful world that is your hotel property.  This is a great book that gives you tools to cope with those days when it just feels like the whole world is on your shoulders and you can’t do anything right.   13. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't by Jim Collins Recommended by Heather (Dighton) Strauss from Prime Group US in Miami, FL Good To Great examines what it takes for ordinary companies to become great and outperform their competitors by analyzing 28 companies over 30 years, who managed to make the transition or fell prey to their bad habits.  With companies like AirBnB and the OTAs, hoteliers are no strangers to disruption. Unfortunately this is just the beginning. While many GMs have thrown their arms up in defeat - there is still time to reinvent and out innovate some of these newcomers.   14. How to Run a Great Hotel: Everything you need to achieve excellence in the hotel industry by Enda M. Larkin Recommended by Brandon Sheldon from Mission Point Resort in Mackinac Island, MI According to Brandon Sheldon, GM of Mission Point Resort, “How to Run a Great Hotel really taught me to think about goals, but also how I will achieve the goals.”  This book is based on the premise that being good is just not good enough in today's competitive environment. For hotel owners & managers who want to achieve lasting business success through a root & branch review of key business processes, 'How To Run A Great Hotel' is a 'must read'.   15. 100 Tips for Hoteliers: What Every Successful Hotel Professional Needs to Know and Do by Peter Venison Recommended by Jil Vivienne Berghäuser from Hotel Brandenburger in Potsdam, Germany Hotel Brandenburger GM Jil Berhauser told Hotel Tech Report that it’s important to lead with passion: “[as a general manager] you must be passionate about your job. You must have a clear vision about what you hope to achieve and find ways to share this vision and passion with everybody in your team. - If you're not passionate about it, who else should? Not having complaints does not mean that you are satisfying your guests. Find time for feedback and listen to your guests. To meet guests effectively, a manager needs to be around in guest area at business time.  100 Tips for Hoteliers details the strategies that have helped Jil channel her passion into results.   16. Nuts!: Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success by Kevin Freiberg Recommended by Xavier Moulin from SH Hotels & Resorts in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico “Strategy and leadership publications offer relevant concepts and systems that are, in most cases, adaptable to a given business model. Beyond the theory however, lies a host of creative yet often unconventional solutions that have not only proven wildly successful in real life, but at times helped transform the very fabric of an industry. Immersing myself into the thought process and reasoning of business visionaries such as Kevin Freiberg in his book Nuts! helped me define fun and motivating productivity techniques that truly resonate with a team and are particularly well aligned with the emotional nature of our hospitality trade. Beyond the direct financial impact, the sheer associate engagement, fulfillment and retention observed as a result proved overwhelming.”

Hotel Tech Report
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The definitive guide to ITB Berlin 2019: 5 key trends that every hotelier must know

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.

Hotel Tech Report
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What does the INTELITY merger mean for your hotel technology strategy?

If you’re like most hotel owners and managers you’re probably being pitched by dozens of technology vendors each week.  Some of these vendors are specialists that deliver a single service or functionality and others pitch a ‘bundled approach’ or ‘one-stop-shop’. Is it better to work with one vendor who does everything under the sun or multiple vendors who specialize?  This may seem like a unique question for hotel tech but it actually applies to almost every industry. At its core, bundling and unbundling depends on two things: technology and consumer preferences. “There are only two ways to make money in business: One is to bundle; the other is unbundle.” ~ Jim Barksdale Which is better, bundling or unbundling? The answer is…It depends.  Take the music industry for example: CDs were disrupted by MP3s when digital technology made it easier to distribute music via MP3 players and consumers preferred to buy only the songs they wanted vs. entire albums.  Fast forward just a few years after CDs were unbundled where today music has been rebundled into streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. Why? Blazing fast internet speeds and consumer demand for instant access to variety.   MP3 players unbundled music from CDs, but streaming services like Spotify rebundled it Looking at the broader software industry, Microsoft and Apple have bundled the internet browser (Microsoft Explorer and Mac Safari) into their respective operating systems but most users still prefer specialist web browsers like Firefox and Chrome.  Google has created very good content tools in it’s Google Docs platform but spreadsheet experts still prefer Excel. Adobe has done a great job with it’s Creative Suite which bundles graphic design, sound production and video editing but filmmakers still prefer AVID Media Composer to create their Oscar masterpieces. So is it better to work with bundled hotel tech vendors or specialist vendors? The underlying technology of cloud computing has made it easier than ever for software companies to develop comprehensive hotel operations software platforms.  Working with a single vendor is much easier than managing multiple vendor relationships but you will likely have to sacrifice on one or more modules in the bundled suite. The underlying technology of open APIs and frictionless integrations have made it easier than ever to combine multiple specialist vendors into custom bundles but you’ll risk over-complicating the already complex business of running a hotel. To make an informed decision that’s right for your business, you’ll need to evaluate the specific needs of your properties, map out functionality requirements and build a bundle that suits your business needs with ideal components or modules.  If the modules of that custom bundle align with the product functionality of a bundled provider and you are getting good value - then working with one vendor may be the right strategy for your business. Ultimately a single vendor bundled approach will work for some hotel businesses and an unbundled approach will work better for others - expert opinions vary dramatically on the subject. Today we interview INTELITY CEO Robert Stevenson to get his take on whether hotels should buy bundles or piece together module architectures.  Prior to taking the helm at KEYPR and now CEO of INTELITY, Robert was most recently the Head of Content Strategy for Facebook’s Oculus VR division.  He brings unique insight and experiences to an industry that’s all too often falls victim to its own spin chamber. Robert’s experience at cutting edge tech companies like Facebook allow him to think outside the box when it comes to what is technically possible within hotels and he’s personally resided in hotel rooms for years at a time during professional assignments - so he deeply understands the pain points that guests face every day. Robert takes a strong stance on the value of bundled offerings and the benefits of leveraging a single vendor bundled approach.  He is so confident that he’s literally put his money where his mouth is. Robert initially became involved with the KEYPR business as an angel investor and loved the business so much that he decided to jump in.  He has since led the company through its merger with INTELITY that culminated in a $44M infusion of capital from LLR Partners to grow the combined business internationally. How does bundling help INTELITY add value for hotel clients? INTELITY is a global provider of the broadest hospitality technology platform for the hotel, casino, cruise, and luxury residential markets. INTELITY offers its customers comprehensive end-to-end solutions to manage guest experience and staff operations in a single platform.  This saves hoteliers a lot of pain in integrating systems that frequently don’t work well together or do not feel frictionless to the guest. In Summer 2018, INTELITY announced the addition of casting to the guest-facing portion of its platform. The company also recently announced a $44M financing raise, which will be used to expand the company’s presence in Europe, the UAE, and Asia Pacific, and add to the nearly 200,000 rooms our platform already supports.   INTELITY provides a user friendly and comprehensive bundle of hotel operations software modules How did you first get into technology? I've always been a computer and IT type of guy, working with new technologies throughout my career. While still young, I dove into computer tech and lightweight coding. Though I dabbled with mainframes, I had my first personal computer as a pre-teen and I, like many others from my generation, learned to code and experiment with hardware and hacking, through magazines, user groups, and peers. During my high school and early college years, I saved money to purchase computer components, boards, accessories, and of course computer games and software, which furthered my love for coding and building digital things.  Eventually, I turned this passion into a career. I started on the engineering and IT side of the world, blended with art and design, in areas of scientific visualization, VR, and video games. Over time, I moved into the business and production side of major tech platforms, managing cross-functionally, but always with an eye towards engineering results. In my career, I’ve launched more than a hundred tech-based products, including work on some major platforms, like the early Web when it was largely an academic creation at CERN and other universities (and not commercial), to several cloud-based content delivery systems, and more recently, Sony’s PlayStation platform and Oculus VR, Facebook’s $2Bn+ acquisition to tackle the next-generation of computing.  The teams and investments have grown from a few friends in a basement with just the cash in our pockets, to many, many hundreds of people with billions of dollars and whole market segments on the line. My move specifically into hospitality technology was spurred by an angel investment I made in KEYPR, and the then Chairman later asked me to join the company because of my background in business and platform technologies, and growing high-performance scalable teams. Excited by the prospects of the market, I signed up! How did you journey from broader technology into hotel software? I have always been interested in technology and several years ago I began investing in start-up companies, mainly focused on tech platforms, but also in the food & beverage segment. My initial investment in KEYPR (prior to the M&A that created the new INTELITY) was spurred in part, by a belief in the need for a technology lift in hospitality at the property level. I’ve been a frequent business traveler for over 20 years and have lived in hotels as a resident for more than five years, so I’ve grown to know the good and the bad of the travel and hotel industry from my personal exposure. I saw a need in the space and believed technology could fill a gap that was created by the hotel industry’s challenges and a lack of quality solutions. Coming from gaming & virtual reality, what was your first impression of the hotel software market? There are two categories that really stand out to me.  First, the technology stacks inside hotels are complex. There are often several layers of point-to-point software systems in place to match a wide variety of operational needs that exist at a property level. Second, sometimes these systems can be quite old, even “on-prem” non-cloud based systems. Communication protocols and the data being passed around can be highly varied.  It’s no wonder hoteliers resort to walkie-talkies and notepads to solve some of their needs. The end result though is that ride-share, cruise, airline, booking industries are fairly automated across mobile and backend platforms, but the hotel industry is behind the curve when it comes to technology. I had a high-level understanding of the fragmentation of the tech stack prior to my involvement in the industry, but moving into the industry and seeing it in action, was eye-opening.  Combining the tech stack into a single solution that works with a property’s PMS/HMS and POS systems is what we’ve built at INTELITY. The focus is to streamline the solution and keep costs well in check. By creating a completely flexible solution that can extend into other systems should they be needed, we also reduce friction for guests, which is a win/win/win. What makes 'hotel tech' different than just 'tech' in your opinion? There are of course many variations of hotel tech. One worth highlighting is the importance for hotel technologies to provide flexibility and also to adaptability to specific customer-level needs. The solution for hoteliers is, by its nature, very different from other industries that cater to an end user, in this case, the guest. The hotel industry is primarily driven across the intersection of the operational, sales, and guest experience needs of the hotel. Two hotels located right next door to each other can have very different requirements to satisfy this intersection, and thus you can’t force a one-size-fits-all solution on a property. Hotel technology needs to focus on the hotelier’s operational needs and build something that wraps around the way they think. At INTELITY, we’ve focused on creating a core solution that fits about 80% of a typical partner’s needs and can then be customized to fit the last 20% of the specifics at a property level, including integrations through INTELITY Connect. Do you think it's harder for hotel tech companies to raise capital relative to general tech companies? Yes, definitely, when raising at larger scales.  This is in part due to the slower adoption of technology in the industry. I have observed a lot of vendors put effort into getting brand logos and large amount of rooms, which sounds good in marketing, but they haven’t built a solid underlying business. Additionally, the complex sales cycle can be tricky for younger tech companies to master. These trends make it difficult for venture or private equity partners to engage within the typical kinds of parameters they can close on.  It’s much easier for them to justify waiting until they see clear results, essentially derisking opportunities. HITEC, and similar shows, are littered with the ghosts of tech vendors who were not able to survive long enough in the strong currents. What's the single biggest opportunity that hotels are missing today? The modernization period- especially for Millennials and Gen Z- is here. The hotel industry can't dodge it. The reality is Airbnb has taken out a large chunk of the traditional hospitality market and variations on that theme of flexible real estate, like VRBO, WeWork, and HomeAway, are sniping at offerings hotels could fulfill. While it’s now ancient history, the OTAs have crushed direct bookings and continue to evolve today. Even Google is now in the game, with Facebook and even Uber likely soon to follow. The hotel industry’s avoidance of early adoption of technology has cost them billions in market share and directed guest flow through channels the traditional developer/owner/operator industry does not control. Without evolving and implementing technology in time, before market shifts happen, both at the front- and back-ends of their operations, hoteliers will continue to lose market share in market areas they have a natural advantage in. Companies like INTELITY, and many others, can help. How will the hotel technology landscape be different in 5-years? Digital technologies for the guest and the back office will be very integrated and standard at hotels. There may be different usages from property to property, but automated processes, streamlined connections, and seamless messaging between guests and staff will be standard across the board. It will feel like a near frictionless experience for guests who opt-in to being entirely digital. Guests, vendors and hoteliers alike will look back and wonder how we ever dealt with the mishmash of technologies and implementations we do today. Do you think that branded hotels have better or worse technology that unbranded properties? It really depends on the brand. In general, the larger brands have done well with advancing technology implementations in the last three to five years. Marriott and Hilton are two brands that have rolled out relatively large platform pushes across their brands to varying degrees. Both companies should be commended for a push towards standardization across multiple property types, ownership groups, and markets. As you get into the smaller brands, collections, and more boutique properties it’s a little more challenging to implement a level of standardization, security, and quality control. That’s where companies like INTELITY come in; to help provide broad technologies that integrate well into any existing efforts that have occurred already.  In many cases, we can provide a level of technology that goes beyond what is available even at Marriott. If you were to start a business in hotel tech tomorrow what would it be? One of the interesting areas in the hotel technology landscape is at the booking level. There’s already automation with OTAs and direct booking engines, where you can pick and choose what you want from a property, but it's not agnostic across all travel areas and travel types. That will likely change. Today's travelers are determining hotel options based on their own  preferences or through their own defined searches, but it would be interesting to automatically incorporate intent and preference into the booking process, based on smart data pulls (think big data being distilled at runtime through an agnostic interface that is mechanically opaque to the end user). Definitely an interesting landscape for exploration. What's one piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a hotel software company? I would recommend that anyone interested in moving into hotel technology start small with a product that really fills a gap. Focus on developing a solution to that's needed rather than developing a product that tackles broad problems. In order to build a business that can sustain a team can be challenging, particularly in the hotel tech industry. Hoteliers may not be super tech savvy, but they know well enough to be tech risk avoidant if it’s going to affect operations or the guest experience.  So be prepared for uphill battle until you can truly prove your product’s value. On the flip side because hoteliers aren’t always quick to adopt new tech, once they’ve committed you'll be their partner for many years to follow if you can deliver. What publications do you recommend hoteliers read to help stay on top of technology trends? If you’re interested in moving in the general direction of technology, the blogs and articles on TechCrunch are a good starting point, among others like WIRED, The Verge, recode, and Ars Technica. Deeper write-ups in the technology section of major news publications will give you a better view of the industry as a whole. What is your favorite hotel in the world? That’s a great question. I have lived a healthy chunk of my life in hotels, as a transient traveler and also as fixed addresses for years at a time. I think the quality of a hotel varies a lot on the intentions of the guest, and, of course, the location, in a very real way. There's no surprise that a destination resort and a business-oriented airport hotel deliver different experiences. That said, some of my favorites in major cities that deliver a cross-section of experiences are 11 Howard in New York, The Setai in Miami, The Strings Tokyo, Shinagawa, The Berkeley in London, Yangtze Boutique Shanghai, and my current part-time home, the Freehand Los Angeles. Robert's preferred residence in Los Angeles near the INTELITY office at The Freehand Hotel What is one thing that most people don't know about you? When I was much younger, more agile, and it was actually en vogue, I was a breakdancer and won several dance contests. Best left as a fun memory and not attempted to be recreated today.

Hotel Tech Report
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The technology cheat sheet for hotel general managers

The buck stops with the hotel’s general manager. The GM is responsible for anything and everything to do with a property’s operation. However, a hotel that manages a stellar guest experience does not necessarily make money. It may be cliché, but it's true: a hotel is only as good as its weakest link. All parts of the operation must run well -- which is why the general manager role is often seen as the most stressful. The general manager is responsible for managing the entire team, including but not limited to: revenue, marketing, operations, sales, and finance. GMs also must manage up to ownership and down to guests. With these many moving pieces, the role of a GM can be overwhelming even during the calmest periods on property -- but it doesn’t have to be that way.   GMs who leverage the right technologies can access key metrics on a dime when their owners call on a whim, recruit top talent when turnover is on the rise and understand changing guest preferences in a rapidly changing market. Here’s how to make your daily life simpler, more successful, and far less stressful.   GMs can leverage next generation tools to gain realtime insights, no calculations required Operational efficiency and profitability are the core metrics that measure the effectiveness of hotel GMs. These measures of success are intertwined: strong operations generally leads to healthy profitability. Success as a General Manager means understanding not just which metrics to measure, but also what the metrics say about the hotel. Metrics help GMs identify areas for improvement, ideally before those areas become problematic. In fact, a GM’s primary responsibility is to monitor metrics and proactively make changes to keep the operation running at peak performance. Yet, it’s not so simple for a GM to know which metrics matter most, how to calculate them, and what to do with the resulting analysis.     For the GM focused on profitability. Great GMs are laser-focused on Gross Operating Profit Per Available Room (GOPPAR).  GOPPAR combines revenue generation with operational efficiency to keep a real-time pulse on a hotel’s heartbeat. GMs need familiarity with finance and accounting software to align revenue coming in with expenses going out. Absolute metrics like GOPPAR can be difficult to put in perspective. Proper benchmarking is a hallmark of a well-run hotel. Not only is it important to track progress towards performance goals internally, but it's also a best practice to benchmark against a competitive set of similar hotels using rate shoppers. A direct booking tool can reduce a hotel’s reliance on third-party demand (and the related commissions). Coupled with the expertise of a digital marketing agency or internally managed metasearch and ad technology, a hotel GM can boost Net Revenue per Available Room (NRevPar) -- a measure of how profitability a hotel distributes its inventory.    For the GM focused on productivity. A GM that spends hours in spreadsheets tracking all of these important benchmarks is poorly positioned to thrive. Business intelligence software tracks performance and reports in real time while providing valuable benchmarking data to put the numbers in perspective. As guests turn to messaging, hotels must apply technology that manages incoming requests across channels. Whether it's on the guest’s personal device, an in-room tablet or even via voice, a guest messaging platform unites incoming requests into actionable threads for hotel staff. This improves staff efficiency, reduces redundant customer service, and makes the guest happier -- all daily priorities for a hotel GM. For the GM focused on operational efficiency. Even the most seasoned GMs struggle to build and maintain a balanced operation that is highly efficient without negatively impacting the guest experience. The property management system is a GM’s best friend. It sits at the core of a hotel’s operations, pulling in data from across a hotel’s technologies to provide the GM a comprehensive real-time view. Whether it's guest-facing things, such as reservations and check-ins, or operational tasks, such as tracking clean rooms and maintenance requests, the PMS is the single source of truth for a GM. As such, it really is the most important technology to get right. It must work well with a hotel’s tech stack, and be easy-to-use for a hotel’s staff, as it will be used around the clock by on property staff.   GMs should use tech to optimize team efficiency and recruit new rockstars As one of the top expenses for a hotel, GMs must stay focused across all departments to deftly manage labor costs.. Ignore at your peril! Depending on size, some hotels may benefit from segmenting according to the department. That way trends can be seen and acted on at the departmental level, rather than hotel-wide. The first step to consistent, predictable labor costs is cross-departmental collaboration. By working with department heads, a GM can identify root causes of labor overages and analyze where technology may improve performance by adding more predictability to a hotel’s labor costs. Alongside establishing clear expectations for performance for specific roles, GMs must set standards for evaluating employees fairly and equitably. By setting realistic-but-reach goals that both inspire at the individual level and create accountability within the broader team, a GM positions her team for success. These performance goals can be set, managed and adjusted through staff task management software, as well as guest messaging software. Housekeeping management software eliminates paper headaches from your housekeeping process. With real-time room updates and performance tracking, room turnovers are faster and with greater adherence to brand standards. Keeping track of both new and existing guest requests has always been a weak point in a hotel’s operation. Miscommunication leads to failed fulfillment or double-work. Staff task management software keeps staff aligned and communicative while creating an audit trail for a GM. The mobile nature of the GM job also means that tasks need to be assigned on the fly. This software makes it possible.    Software can help GMs understand changing guest needs to deliver better experiences and increase ADR An efficient operation must also be an effective one. To ensure that your operation is both efficient AND effective, benchmark your hotel’s reputation to both itself and its comp set. Use reputation management software to track progress, celebrate wins, and encourage staff to take ownership of improving the average guest rating. This is a soft KPI for performance across all departments, so it requires a holistic approach from a GM. An upward trend indicates strong staff performance and usually demonstrates that the GM is being effective in building ownership and culture across departments. A hotel’s revenue is directly correlated to its reputation. Since reputation management software simplifies the process of responding to reviews, it makes staff more efficient and effective. For a time-pressed GM, the software makes it much easier to stay on top of review and reputation trends. By solving small problems before they grow, a GM benefits from rapid identification of any slippage in the guest experience. Average Daily Rate is a simple benchmark to track revenue and identify potential issues before they get off track. There is a direct correlation between guest experience and ADR. GMs control ADR by working closely with revenue management to survey the compset and price rooms competitively according to local market conditions. ADR should never be used as a standalone KPI, as it’s an average that may not highlight how well a hotel yields its room. Each day, a GM should consult with revenue management to ensure that the ADR is on target for projections. The concierge is another valuable asset to GMs focused on the guest experience. Concierge software helps you understand how guests interact with your concierge team, and what information and services are important to guests. Concierge software pulls guest preferences into a unified view, empowering concierge staff to over deliver on guest expectations while giving the GM a useful picture of guests. Finally, consider adding new technology that improves the guest experience (driving higher ADR) while also generating more revenue overall (higher RevPar) In-room tablets put amenities, entertainment and off property experience at guest’s fingertips to reduce customer service queries while increasing satisfaction. Tablets in guest rooms don’t just create better experiences but also help to streamline operations via seamless room service, housekeeping requests, and spa/restaurant reservations.

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