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What would the hotel industry be without chain hotels? Can you imagine a world without online travel agencies like Expedia? Or what about a world without Airbnb? A few exceptional individuals made contributions to the lodging industry which revolutionized not only our industry, but the world. Thanks to the ideas, leadership, and drive of the 7 titans of the hotel industry, we can travel better today. In this article, we’ll introduce you to seven of the most important figures in the hotel business: Conrad Hilton, J. Willard Marriott, Isadore Sharp, Jay Pritzker, Barry Sternlicht, Brian Chesky, and Rich Barton. You’ll learn about their backgrounds, their career paths, the companies they founded, and how they fit into the evolution of the hotel industry. And you might find the inspiration you need to bring your ideas to life or to start your own company! The Early Days of the Hotel Industry The concept of a hotel is hardly a new one; boarding houses, inns, caravanserais, and other early lodging types have been in existence for thousands of years. These simple accommodations offered travelers a place to sleep, a hot meal, and stables for their horses. Early “hotels” were family-run and often located in the same building where the family lived. As travel became more common, starting in the 1400s, a few European countries mandated that hotels document their guests. These new laws signaled the beginning of the hotel industry - hoteliers were now running legitimate businesses in the eyes of the local governments. By the 1700s, every city had at least several hotels operating in the center of town to meet the demand for overnight stays. Many hotels became attractions in their own right, like the Le Grand Hôtel Paris and Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, which were famous for beautiful architecture and glamorous clientele. The Hotel Industry Boom in the United States Until the mid-1900s, nearly all hotels were independently owned and operated. There was also a clear distinction between the stylish, cosmopolitan hotels in city centers and the simple roadside motels in rural areas. Two entrepreneurs on opposite sides of the country saw opportunities to bring a high standard of service to the hotel industry and created the eponymous names that we all know today: Conrad Hilton and J. Willard Marriott. Conrad Hilton entered the hotel industry somewhat accidentally when his plan to purchase a bank fell through; instead, he ended up buying the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas in 1919. Seeing that he could run a hotel successfully, Hilton scouted out promising hotel deals and continued growing his portfolio over the next few decades. Landmark hotels like New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria and the Plaza Hotel became Hilton properties, and the company acquired the Statler Hotel Company in what was the largest real estate transaction of its time. Hilton is not only credited with building a global hotel empire, but also with popularizing the star rating system and combining hotels, restaurants, and casinos. Like Hilton, J. Willard Marriott didn’t plan on becoming a hotel magnate. He got his start in the hospitality business by running A&W Root Beer shops in the Washington, D.C. area, and built a sizable restaurant and foodservice business. When it came time for his next venture, Marriott opened a motel in Arlington, Virginia with great results. Marriott became known for his hands-on leadership style and perfectionist mindset, and as the Marriott company grew, he continued to stay in the middle of the action. In fact, he never retired from Marriott, even after his son Bill took over as CEO. Under their leadership, Marriott became the largest hotel company in the world with over 30 brands under its umbrella. In addition to Hilton and Marriott, numerous hotel brands popped up in the mid-20th century, like Holiday Inn and Motel 6. These brands could offer quality and consistency to travelers who didn’t want to risk a sub-par experience at an independent property. Remember, back then, there was no Tripadvisor, so brands offered an appealing solution. The Rise of Hotel Brands Speaking of brands, Marriott and Hilton are only two of the great hotel brands that shaped the industry. While Hilton and Marriott were building their companies, another entrepreneur saw an opportunity to create a new type of hotel: Jay Pritzker. Already an established businessman, Pritzker was on a business trip to Los Angeles in 1957 when he noticed a lack of high-quality hotels located near airports. He didn’t think travelers should have to choose between nice downtown hotels and seedy airport motels, so he launched the Hyatt brand, which focused on upscale hotels near airports. Hyatt Hotels eventually branched out to urban hotels, notably when the company launched the Hyatt Regency brand, which is known for its signature atrium design. But Pritzker wasn’t the only one to realize that architecture can be an asset to a hotel brand; as a trained builder, Isadore Sharp knew architecture would always be a pillar of his Four Seasons hotel brand. He opened the first Four Seasons hotel in Toronto in 1961, and guests appreciated the innovative courtyard design that allowed them some relief from city sights and noise. Sharp grew the Four Seasons brand to become a globally known icon of service and luxury, and the company now manages over 100 hotels in cities like Paris and far-flung destinations like Bora Bora. Sharp wasn’t alone in grabbing an opportunity to appeal to affluent travelers. Barry Sternlicht, the founder of Starwood Capital and Starwood Hotels and Resorts, also noticed a gap in the luxury hotel market when he launched the W brand in 1998. In contrast to the pretentious, stuffy luxury hotels that were the norm, W hotels offered a playful, youthful version of luxury. The W brand is considered the first “lifestyle” hotel brand, a trend which is still popular today. Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ portfolio also included brands like Westin and Sheraton, and in 2016 Marriott purchased Starwood and formed the largest hotel company in the world. Lodging in the Digital Age By the 1990s, hotels had taken over the world. You could book a Marriott or Four Seasons on six continents and dozens of countries. But how would you actually make that booking? Most travelers relied on travel agents to secure reservations, or you could call the 1-800 number for a chain line Hilton or Hyatt. That all changed when Rich Barton, a product manager at Microsoft, came up with the idea for Expedia in 1994. He saw how the power of the internet could put travel booking into the travelers hands - he just had to create a platform to house all the data. By the time Expedia went public in 1999, it was far from the only digital booking platform, or online travel agency. Competitors like Booking.com, Priceline, Orbitz, and Travelocity gave consumers access to good rates and information about hotels around the globe. The popularity of brick-and-mortar travel agencies declined as online travel agencies took off. Two decades later, the OTA space is dominated by two big players who now own the majority of brands: Expedia Group and Booking Holdings. But Expedia and Booking.com aren’t the only sites where you can book a place to stay. In fact, hotels are no longer your only option. Just as Uber disrupted the taxi industry, Airbnb offers a new type of accommodation for travelers seeing local experiences or apartment-style short-term rentals. Founded by Brian Chesky in 2009, Airbnb has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Chesky and his two roommates had the idea to rent out a few air mattresses in their apartment during a busy conference in San Francisco, and a few years later their company became a Silicon Valley “unicorn” with a valuation over $1B. Airbnb has grown to over six million listings and is planning an IPO in late 2020. What can we expect for the future of the hotel industry? The industry’s pioneers are probably already hard at work building something that will further change how we travel and experience hospitality. -- Brian Chesky illustration by mikenudelman.com
There are few things that no traveler should leave home without: a passport, a few essentials, and a phone equipped with the best apps to help you make the most out of your trip. Whether you’re looking for the best dim-sum in a new city or trying to find your way from the airport to a business meeting, these apps are critical to traveling in style and ease. The following 100 apps can help you navigate a new transportation system, meet fellow travelers, translate a menu, and everything in between. This guide breaks down the most essential apps into five key categories: Apps for meeting people Apps for learning about the local area Apps for finding bars and restaurants Apps for translation and learning a language Apps for getting around Apps for Hotels and Accommodation Read on for the most essential apps for traveling in 2020. Apps for Meeting People Sometime in the 90s the concept of pen pals went from cute to creepy. In our hyper connected world it's hard to meet honest people online at a distance which can lead to loneliness when travelling solo. Adventuring with people from other parts of the world is still totally doable and arguably easier than ever with apps that let you connect with locals in real-time. AirBnB famously launched its experiences platform to do just that without doing more than pulling out your smartphone. Here are a few apps that connect travelers and locals through eating, touring, hosting, and more. 1. EatWith: Share a meal with a local. EatWith offers a way to meet people through food. From cooking classes to home-cooked meals hosted in people’s homes, EatWith is connecting travelers while showcasing the culinary delights of a destination. Get EatWith for iOS and Android. 2. Backpackr: Meet like-minded travelers all over the globe. Backpackr is a social networking app for travelers that operates kind of like one big group chat. You can find people or social events using hashtags, checking out different channels, or posting a question in the Common Room. Get Backpackr for iOS and Android. 3. Tinder: Yes, it’s more than just a hookup site – Tinder is a great way to meet people while traveling! Tinder is infamous as a dating app, but it’s also a good way to meet people in a new city. Just specify in your bio what you’re looking for and the app does the heavy lifting to find people near you. 4. Couchsurfing: Find a local host and stay for cheap. The Couchsurfing app connects travelers with people who have free space in their house and are willing to let you stay. Couchsurfing has grown to be a large community, and even if you prefer to stay in a hotel, there are plenty of free events to try. Get Couchsurfing for iOS and Android. 5. Meetup: RSVP to events all over the world. Meetup is an events hosting platform that helps you find social events where you can meet like-minded people. Explore groups and make new friends based on shared hobbies or professional networking events. Get Meetup for iOS and Android. 6. Withlocals: Private tours and more hosted the local experts. Withlocals offers an easy way to meet someone from the area and have a private tour customized to your preferences. The app designs experiences that take you off the beaten path and show you an insider’s view of the city. Get Withlocals for iOS and Android. 7. Showaround: Learn about a destination on a local tour. Showaround is very similar to Withlocals. Browse listings of people in the area who will charge a small fee to show you their favorite side of the city. Get Showaround for iOS and Android. 8. FlipTheTrip: Search for a travel companion by destination. FlipTheTrip reconsiders how to connect with locals and other travelers: instead of waiting to arrive to meet people, search for fellow travelers and locals ahead of time so you can meet people as soon as you land. Learn more on their website. 9. SoloTraveller: Traveling alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. SoloTraveller connects people traveling on their own to share a meal, meet up for an event, or just head out to explore the city. For business travelers constantly on the road, this can be a good way to connect with others during your downtime. Get SoloTraveller for iOS and Android. 10. BonAppetour: Similar to EatWith, this app connects travelers over a shared food experience. BonAppetour can help you meet others over one of the best parts of traveling – the food! Find a friend around a shared culinary event, such as a dinner party, cooking class, barbeque, or picnic. Get BonAppeTour for iOS. 11. Travello: An app for all types of travelers to connect. Travello is a social network built for all different types of travelers: digital nomads, backpackers, solo travelers, and even locals seeking to connect with people from all over. Travel deals that pop-up in the app further incentivize users to stay active. Get Travello for iOS and Android. 12. Tourlina: A social travel app built for women. Tourlina is an app for women travelers who want to meet others – but might feel concerned for their safety. Members can enter their trip information, including the destination and dates, and find other women who are traveling at the same time. Get Tourlina for iOS and Android. 13. Patook: Strictly friends-only swiping. Patook is a social network that may look a whole lot like a dating app – but it’s strictly platonic. Login to find friends near you without the risk of getting creepy DMs or sending mixed messages while traveling. Get Patook for iOS and Android. 14. Bumble BFF: Expand your social circle with a new feature of this popular dating app. BumbleBFF makes it easy to meet people in your area by capturing the platform’s technology to connect friends, not dates. Swipe based on what you’re looking for: a workout friend, travel buddy, or sports team, for instance. Bumble also has a business feature if you’re looking to network professionally while you travel. Get Bumble for iOS and Android. Local Area Information Apps These apps help you get around, find cultural attractions, and learn local customs fast. 15. XE Currency Converter: The gold standard in currency conversion. The XE Currency Converter app offers live currency rates, which you can save for even when you’re offline. All figures are mid-market rates that you can use to compare with exchange places nearby to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Get XE Currency Converter for iOS and Android. 16. GlobeTips: Tip appropriately in 200+ countries. The GlobeTips app is simple but crucial. Figure out what tip you should leave based on a local culture and traditions. Not only that, it will also help you split a check, round up the calculation results, and exclude sales tax for you. Get GlobeTips for iOS. 17. Google Maps: One app that does almost everything. Google Maps is absolutely essential for visiting a new city. Not only will it give you directions (including walking, driving, public transportation, ride-hailing services and more), but it will also tell you how crowded the subway might be, peak hours at a museum, help you make restaurant reservations, let you save your favorite spots, and write reviews for other travelers. Get the Google Maps app for iOS and Android. 18. Culture Trip: Search for nearby attractions, shopping, hidden gems, and more. The Culture Trip app curates collections of attractions, restaurants, and more for destinations all over the world. Whether you’re looking for a list of the best workspaces in Budapest or a guide to ordering sushi in Osaka, this app has everything you need to navigate like a pro. Get the Culture Trip app for iOS and Android. 19. Triposo: 50,000 destinations in your pocket. Triposo’s app delivers downloadable city guides and offline maps so you can explore a city without data or Wifi. Use the app to research what to see and do, read about the city’s history, review safety tips, and check the current weather forecast. Get Triposo for iOS and Android. 20. Smart Traveler: A safety app for US travelers. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that you can never be too prepared. Smart Traveler is an app by the US State Department that tells you safety information for wherever you are going: what visas and vaccines you will need, as well as where the local embassy or consulate is located. Get Smart Traveler for iOS and Android. 21. AllTrails: Get maps for over 100,000 hiking trails. The AllTrails app takes exploration to a new level. The app shows bike, hike, ride and running trails that you can filter by length, rating, and difficulty. It will even tell you if a trail is dog or kid-friendly. Get AllTrails for iOS and Android. 22. Flush: Find your nearest public bathroom and avoid emergencies. The Flush Toilet Finder app is great for when you’re exploring a new city and need to find your nearest public restroom. When you’re traveling with kids or planning a full day out, this app can come in handy. Get Flush for iOS and Android. 23. Citymapper: Live mass transit information. The Citymapper app can route you through the fastest way to get from point A to point B using public transportation, with routes updated live throughout the day. Find the fastest, easiest way to get around major cities in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Latin America. Get Citymapper for iOS and Android. 24. Dayuse: Use a hotel’s amenities for the day. The Dayuse app shows you hotels that offer rooms to use by the day. Book for a short layover or book a room and make use of the hotel's pool, spa, gym or sauna during your abbreviated stay. Rooms are marked down by as much as 75% for a one to 10 hour stay. Get the Dayuse app for iOS and Android. 25. Rick Steves Audio Europe: Listen to audio tours of Europe’s most historic sites. These apps offer a digital library of Rick Steves’ extensive walking tours. This history expert will tell you all about Europe’s popular attractions and include his recommendations for where to eat and what to see off the beaten path. Get Rick Steves Audio Europe for iOS and Android. 26. Viator: Find tours and day trips with this app. Some destinations aren’t intuitive, which is where Viator can help. Explore a new city on a day trip or tour – Viator recommends all kinds of experiences, from kayaking trips to week-long treks. Read traveller reviews before you book so you know what you’re getting. Get Viator for iOS and Android. 27. RunGo: Sightsee and get fit at the same time. The RunGo app lets runners share their favorite routes for others to follow. It’s a great way to explore a new city while getting your heart rate up. It also tracks your run stats, like heart rate, elevation change, pace, and more. Get RunGo for iOS and Android. 28. Nearify: Find local events and shows nearby. The Nearify all lets you browse what’s going on around you: concerts, comedy shows, drinking experiences, open mic nights and more. Browse what’s happening to learn more about a city, or head to your nearest event to meet other people. Get Nearify for Android and iOS. 29. Musement: Book tickets to attractions in 350 destinations worldwide. Musement is your guide to neighborhoods, restaurants, local attractions and more in 350 destinations and 25 of the world’s biggest cities. Use the Musement app to book tickets to museums and big attractions and skip the line when you get there. Get Musement for Android and iOS. 30. Spotted by Locals: Know what to see based on recommendations from locals. Spotted by Locals is curated attractions suggested by those who know the city best: the residents who live nearby. Use the app to browse city guides made up of insider tips by locals in 81 cities. Get Spotted by Locals for Android and iOS. 31. Bike Citizens: Explore the city on your own two wheels. The Bike Citizens app, like RunGo, is a way for bikers to explore the city with different routes mapped out. Select the fastest route from A to B, or the most scenic route, depending on your travel plans. The app will highlight points of interest along the way: restaurants, ATMs, museums, and more, using voice guidance to keep you safe. Get Bike Citizens for iOS and Android. 32. Lonely Planet: Reliable travel advice from the experts. Lonely Planet offers guides to more than 38 cities, complete with vetted recommendations and advice for getting around. Recommendations are easy to filter and backed by Lonely Planet’s expertise. Get Lonely Planet for iOS and Android. Translation Apps Travelling before the iPhone was a pain in the you know what. Figuring out how much to pay, where to go and even where to stay was insanely difficult. Layer on top of that the challenge of not being able to ask for help without a private translator in many regions. Translating apps like Duolingo have made travelers and locals more fluent in each others languages with dozens of other super cool mobile apps filling in everything else to make sure nothing gets lost in translation. These translation apps can help you navigate a new city, read a menu, speak to a stranger, and start learning a new language while on-the-go. 33. iTranslate: One of the top-rated translation apps in the world. iTranslate has more than 350,000 ratings on iTunes and Google Play, many of which give this translation app four stars and up. The free, basic app offers a phrasebook with predefined, useful phrases in more than 100 languages. Get iTranslate for iOS or Android. 34. Google Translate: Free, flexible, and full of cool features. The Google Translate app offers 108 languages (59 with offline access). There are lots of variations for how you can translate through the app: draw text or characters, type, scan a page, or speak into the app for instant translation. Get Google Translate for iOS and Android. 35. TripLingo: Pick up phrases that make you sound like a local. TripLingo goes beyond simple translation to offer a phrase book, tips on local customs, a wifi dialer, culture notes, travel tools, and more. The app’s voice translator instantly translates your voice into another language; it will also translate a response back into English. Get TripLingo for iOS or Android. 36. SayHi: Translate your voice into 90 languages. SayHi is a translation app owned by Amazon that aims to make having a conversation in another language as straightforward as possible. The simple interface makes it easy to record your voice in one language, and play it back in another. It also includes dialects if you’re traveling far afield. Get it for iOS and Android. 37. Papago: An app that specializes in translating Asian languages. Papago is especially useful for trips to Asia, as it is able to translate between English and Korean, Japanese, Chinese (simplified/traditional), Indonesian, Vietnamese and Thai, as well as Russian, German, Italian and Spanish. Translations are available for voice and text. Get it for iOS and Android. 38. Microsoft Translator: A great translation app for business travelers. Microsoft’s Translator app is well equipped for business meetings, as it can translate multi-person conversations with as many as 100 people at a time speaking in different languages. A split-screen feature allows you to read a phrase that someone sitting across from you has spoken aloud. Get the Microsoft Translator app for iOS or Android. 39. Waygo: Translate to and from English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The Waygo app specializes in translating between just four languages, but it is able to do so entirely offline – a huge help if you’re traveling without data. It’s an award-winning app that also uses minimal disk space to translate from menus, signs, and more. Get the Waygo app for iOS and Android. 40. iTranslate Voice: An Editor’s Choice app that translates audio into more than 40 languages. iTranslate Voice gets rave reviews for being easy to use. The app, like SayHi, records your voice in one language and plays it back in another. You can also connect two devices for an easy back-and-forth conversation with someone in another language. Get the iTranslate Voice app for iOS. 41. Speak and Translate: A paid app that gives you access to less common languages. The Speak and Translate app offers access to a ton of different languages – 117 languages for text and 54 languages for voice. It’s only available for Apple devices, but as a result will sync across your devices and save your translation history no matter what you’re using. Get it for iOS. 42. SpanishDict Translator: Spanish to English (and back) with grammar tips included. SpanishDict Translator is, as the name suggests, an app that translates between English and Spanish. It also offers grammatical rules and best practices, helping users know when to use ser v. estar, for instance. It can also conjugate some verbs and find the right idiom for you. Get the SpanishDict Translator app for iOS and Android. 43. Arabic Dictionary and Translator: A combination dictionary/translator app that provides a range of English/Arabic tools. The Arabic Dictionary and Translator app is a great hybrid learning and instant translation tool. The translation feature uses Google, Microsoft, Yandex Translate, Baidu Translate, and others to suggest how to say a phrase. The dictionary feature looks up certain words, lets you save them for the future, create flashcards, and make headway in learning Arabic. Get the Arabic Dictionary and Translator app for iOS and Android 44. Pleco: A handy app for translating Mandarin and Cantonese. Pleco specializes in translating Mandarin and Cantonese. Look up unknown Chinese words using your device’s camera, or tap-lookup words in a still image. The app will also read handwriting and can translate audio recordings. Get the Pleco app for iOS and Android. 45. Duolingo: Learn a language while on-the-go. Duolingo is a crowd-favorite for learning and practicing a language. Exercises are designed for speakers of all levels, from total beginners to advanced learners. It also offers lessons in some more niche languages, like Norwegian, Swahili, and Klingon. Get the Duolingo app for iOS and Android. 46. Babbel: An app that gamifies learning a language. Babbel’s free version offers 40 classes featuring native speakers saying words to help you say the words properly. Take lessons in 13 different languages by going through exercises designed to help you learn a phrase – and remember it. Get the Babbel app for iOS and Android. 47. Busuu: Learn a language with help from a social network of native speakers. Busuu is an app that adds a community component to the experience of learning a language. Travelers can connect with native speakers listed on the app to get feedback on their pronunciation, grammar, and more. Get Busuu for iOS and Android. 48. Memrise: Visual learners will love this app’s UX. Memrise is a great way to learn a language for travelers who are visual learners. Videos, images, and memes show language learners how to speak conversationally in14+ different languages. There are also courses in history, art, science, trivia, and more. Get the Memrise app for iOS and Android. 49. MosaLingua: “Flashcards on steroids.” MosaLingua offers different language learning apps for each language, including Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Russian. Their approach is designed to activate both audio and visual memory. Browse MosaLingua apps for Android and iOS. 50. (How to) Pronounce: Learn how to pronounce foreign words like a pro. (How to) Pronounce is an app that does exactly what it sounds like: tells you how to pronounce words in a different language. If you’re trying to order at a restaurant, and can’t speak the language, simply type in the words you want to say and hear them spoken back to you. Get (How to) Pronounce for iOS. 51. Drops: Habit-building to help you learn a language. The Drops app gives you five minutes of learning a language everyday. These short lessons are meant to help you focus and develop a language habit over time. Word games are available in over 40 languages. Get the Drops app for iOS and Android. 52. Pimsleur: Tested and proven over decades of teaching. If you want a really deep dive into learning a language, Pimsleur is a great app to try. The Pimsleur method of learning a language has been around since the 1960s. There are tons of online courses in addition to the app; the app simply asks that users commit 30 minutes a day to listening to audio and practicing on-the-go. Get Pimsleur for iOS and Android. Apps for Finding Food & Beverage One of the best parts of travel? Experiencing the culture through an amazing meal or once-in-a-lifetime night out at a bar. Here are some ways to find that perfect dish or cocktail. 53. OpenRice: Yelp, for Asia. The OpenRice app has been called “the Yelp of Asia.” It offers restaurant listings with ratings, menus, booking numbers, and more in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. Get OpenRice for Android and iOS. 54. TheFork: Restaurant reservations at your fingertips. TheFork makes restaurant recommendations in 4,000 cities within 11 countries, mostly in Europe. The app’s popularity comes through its discounts: sometimes up to 50% off your meal just for making a reservation through TheFork. Get TheFork for iOS and Android. 55. Happy Cow: Vegan and vegetarian eating made easy. For those with dietary restrictions, the Happy Cow is a godsend app. The app lists over 100,000 restaurants in nearly 200 countries to find vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free offerings. There are reviews as well as recipes using local ingredients. Get Happy Cow for iOS and Android. 56. TripAdvisor: Harness the power of the crowd. TripAdvisor is a reliably good source of recommendations from fellow travelers. The app covers more than restaurants – hotels, attractions, tours, and more are all rated – but restaurant reviews often include up-to-date menus, hours, and more. Get TripAdvisor for iOS and Android. 57. Yelp: Use the dollar sign ratings to stick to your budget. Like TripAdvisor, Yelp is for more than restaurant recommendations. Travelers can use this app to scan restaurants based on budget, location, cuisine, and area. Get Yelp for iOS and Android. 58. Zomato: Yelp alternative outside the U.S. Zomato is a very popular restaurant review platform outside of the US. Reviewers make an extra effort to include photos of menus and dishes. Zomato sometimes partners with delivery services, so if you’re hanging out at the hotel, you can get takeaway or delivery. Get Zomato for iOS and Android. 59. Eatigo: Search restaurants in themed categories Eatigo offers restaurant listings in Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Sort by categories like “Date Night,” “Hotel Buffets,” “Sushi Mania,” or “Wine Bars.” Take advantage of timed discounts to find a meal that fits your budget. Get Eatigo for iOS and Android. 60. Seafood Watch: Vet the sustainability of your seafood. For those traveling in the US, check if a restaurant is ocean-friendly with Seafood Watch. You can search for a particular type of seafood, view sushi listing, and learn more about sustainable seafood. Get Seafood Watch for iOS and Android. 61. LocalEats: No chains allowed. Support local while you travel with LocalEats’ list of best restaurants owned by residents of the city. You can filter by cuisine, price, and use GPS to find one near you while supporting the local economy. Get LocalEats for iOS and Android. 62. Drizly: Alcohol delivery to your accommodation. Drizly offers alcohol delivery throughout the US. If you’re at the perfect restaurant – but it’s BYOB – Drizly can drop off some wine. Or, if you’re lounging at the pool and the hotel doesn’t have a bar, just tap Drizly and have all the ingredients you need sent over. Get Drizly for iOS and Android. 63. Chefs Feed: Dining recommendations from professional chefs ChefsFeed asks for professional chefs, like Marcus Samuelsson and Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi to curate their favorite dining destinations in popular cities. Find out where to eat the very best meals all over the US, as well as what dishes to order. Get ChefsFeed for iOS and Android. 64. OpenTable: Reservations only. OpenTable is for booking restaurant reservations with ease. Choose the size of your party, a date, and a time and see what’s available nearby or at your favorite restaurant. Get OpenTable for iOS and Android. 65. Untappd: A home for beer lovers. Untappd lets you log the bars and breweries you’ve visited and rate beers you drink so that when you get home, you can find that perfect craft beer at your local bottle store. Get Untappd for iOS and Android. 66. DrinkAdvisor: Tripadvisor for party animals. DrinkAdvisor offers peer reviews for local bars and clubs, helping travelers figure out where to spend a night out by searching by criteria like “wine bar” or “dance floor.” Create wishlists and see cocktail recipes to start the night out right. Get DrinkAdvisor for Android. 67. Zagat: The gold standard in restaurant reviews Zagat is one of the biggest names in the restaurant review biz. Its app is continually updated with reviews of more than 30,000 restaurants around the world. Reviews are reliable and come from trusted experts. Get the Zagat app for iOS and Android. 68. The Infatuation: Most innovative restaurant finder app. The Infatuation is newer to the scene than Zagat or even Yelp but it's taken the restaurant industry by storm. The app is by far one of the most intuitive and reliable but does offer less coverage than its competitors as it's more focused on creating content and proprietary rankings. If you're in a major city like New York or Los Angeles, look no further than the Infatuation. Get The Infatuation app for iOS and Android. 69. The Happiest Hour: Find food and drink special in Aus and New Zealand The Happiest Hour works across New Zealand and Australia to find you food and drink specials while you travel. Get The Happiest Hour for iOS. Transportation Apps Get around by plane, train, and automobile with these handy transportation apps. 70. Hopper: Great deals on flights. Hopper finds the best deals on flights (and hotels). Put in flight route and the app will tell you when to expect a price drop or spike to help you get the best deal possible. The app claims to predict prices with 95% accuracy up to one year in advance. Get Hopper on iOS and Android. 71. LoungeBuddy: Get access to airport lounges without a first-class ticket. LoungeBuddy offers a way to find and pay for time in an airport lounge without flying premium. Put in your credit card information and find the rates and availability of lounges nearby. The app will alert you if there are free lounges and also let you pay through their system. Get LoungeBuddy for iOS. 72. AirHelp: Compensation for delayed or cancelled flights. US and EU laws provide compensation in some instances when flights are delayed or canceled – but the process is complicated. That’s where the AirHelp app comes in. Enter your flight information and details about the problem, and the company takes care of the rest. Get AirHelp for iOS and Android. 73. Skyscanner: Search millions of flights from over 1,200 sources Budget-conscious travelers will love Skyscanner – find cheap flights with one of the most powerful search tools out there. See the cheapest days or months to fly to your destination and get notifications if the price changes. Get Skyscanner for iOS and Android. 74. TripIt: Organize your travel plans in one place. TripIt puts your itinerary together for you. Just forward your hotel, restaurant, flight, and car rental confirmation emails to the service, and the app will display your master itinerary in one place. Get TripIt for iOS and Android. 75. Kiwi: More than just booking flights. Kiwi is known for booking flights, but the app does more – book a hotel, car rental, and activities and tours. You can also see helpful information about airports, such as lounge locations, ATMs, and luggage storage. Get Kiwi for iOS and Android. 76. Roadtrippers: Map out your next roadtrip. Roadtrippers is perfect for COVID-19 era travel. The app plans a driving route for you with hotels and activities along the way. Find interesting attractions and can’t-miss landmarks that you can stop off and see as you go. Get Roadtrippers for iOS and Android. 77. Priority Pass: Access 1300+ airport lounges Become a member of the Priority Pass program and the app will give you access to lounges at airports around the world. Just enter the airport name or code and see what lounges or restaurants that you have access to, including photos, hours, amenities and more. Get Priority Pass for iOS and Android. 78. FlightAware: Keep track of your tight connection. Travelers can use the FlightAware app to get live updates on flights – delays, cancellations, gate changes, and more. It’s worth downloading for any trips where you have a tight connection or if you’re traveling through a region experiencing difficult weather. Get FlightAware for iOS and Android. 79. Timeshifter: Adjust to time zones and avoid jet lag. The Timeshifter uses neuroscience research to help you start adjusting to a different time zone while you’re still in-flight. The app considers your age, gender, and sleep patterns as well as you trip plans to start providing steps you can take to adjust your body to a new time zone. Get Timeshifter for iOS and Android. 80. SkyGuru: Prepare for turbulence with weather predictions. The SkyGuru app was designed by pilots to help nervous fliers know what to expect before getting on the plane. The app offers weather and turbulence forecasts for your specific flight route. Of course, anything can happen, but it’s nice to have a little warning. Get SkyGuru for iOS and Android. 81. Uber: Ride-hailing around the world. Uber is in more than 80 countries, and it’s a great app to have if you don’t speak the language, aren’t carrying cash, or don’t know where you’re going. Not into Uber, or traveling in a country where Uber doesn’t operate? Try Lyft, Grab, Cabify, Bolt, Careem, or Gett instead. Get Uber for iOS and Android. 82. Drive Weather: Know the road condition before you drive. Many of us will be traveling by car or by train for the holidays this year, in lieu of taking a flight. Drive Weather is an app that helps road travelers avoid the worst weather. Get radar views and routes with rain, freezing rain, ice, and snow icons that tell you when there are slippery roads ahead. Get DriveWeather for iOS and Android. 83. Waze: Crowdsourced traffic so you get the best route. The Waze map app lets users submit data to alert other drivers of traffic jams, roadblocks, police, accidents and more. It’s a great app for finding the best route throughout your travel – and find you the lowest price on gas along the way. Get Waze for iOS and Android. 84. Rome2rio: Find the best way to get between cities. The Rome2rio app lets you compare different transportation costs: train, plane, bus, ferry and car. Figure out what is the cheapest or fastest way to get between different destinations and book tickets through the app. Get Rome2rio for iOS and Android. 85. App in the Air: A virtual personal travel assistant. This app ranked on Apple’s best app’s list and also gets Oprah’s seal of approval. App in the Air will store your itinerary, boarding pass, and frequent flier programs, and also keep track of boarding and landing times and airport wait times for check-in, security, and customs. Get App in the Air for iOS and Android. 86. GasBuddy: Save on petrol. GasBuddy searches for the best gas prices near you. In addition to finding you cheap gas, the app will also offer an outage tracker during natural disasters, a trip cost calculator, and search filters like brand, location, available restrooms, and more. Get GasBuddy for iOS and Android. 87. SOAR: For nervous fliers. SOAR is a course developed by therapist and former pilot Captain Tom Bunn. The SOAR app offers tips and resources to help nervous fliers get through a flight, with fact-based plane info to help you calm down. Get SOAR for iOS and Android. 88. RV Parks and Campgrounds: 40,000 stop-offs on the open road. RV Parks and Campgrounds offers great camping spots for those hitting the road. You can view RV parks and campgrounds based on ratings, with amenities listed. Photos show you what to expect ahead of time. Get RV Parks & Campgrounds for iOS and Android. Apps for Hotels and Accomodations Book a last minute stay, browse by neighborhood, and find great deals on these hotel and accommodation apps. 89. Airbnb: Stay with local hosts. Airbnb is one of the most popular platforms for booking accommodation. “Hosts” – sometimes small or boutique hotels – offer rooms or entire places for rent. The app also offers “Experiences” to help you explore a different side of a destination. Get Airbnb for iOS and Android. 90: Expedia: Discounts on hotels, car rentals, and packages. Expedia’s app gives you the entire Expedia booking experience, plus rewards. Earn double Expedia Rewards points each time you book a hotel, car rental, flight or package through the app. Get Expedia for iOS and Android. 91. Booking.com: The highest-rated travel app. Booking.com offers an all-in-one app experience. Explore the 27 million hotels, vacation rentals, homes, apartments, and other unique places to stay on the app, read guest reviews, and filter listings by price, review score, amenities, and more. Get the Booking.com app for iOS and Android. 92. Hotels.com: Great discounts and filters to find the right room for you. Hotels.com’s app has easy-to-use filters to help you find exactly what it is you’re looking for ina hotel room. People love the "Deals for Tonight" feature that offers big discounts on last-minute bookings. Another feature, "Your Secret Price" can offer savings up to 50%. Get the Hotels.com app for iOS and Android. 93. Kayak: Metasearching all other travel apps in seconds. Kayak is mostly known for flight deals, but the platform is owned by Booking.com, making the app a great place to turn when you need a deal on a hotel. Participate in Booking.com’s membership program through the Kayak app and use it to manage every aspect of your trip. Get the Kayak app for iOS and Android. 94. Hotel Tonight: Last-minute hotel deals. Hotel Tonight does what the name implies: shows you short-term deals on top hotels in a certain city so you can book something last minute. Find deals for a hotel tonight, next week, or up to 100 days in advance. Get Hotel Tonight for iOS and Android. 95. Marriott Bonvoy: Use Marriott’s mobile check-in and earn points. Marriott Bonvoy offers the lowest rate on the brand’s properties worldwide, as well as the ability to earn points through their rewards program. The app also has a mobile check-in feature and Mobile Key, plus chat and messaging features that allow you to coordinate room service and more with the on-site hotel team. Get the Marriott app for iOS and Android. 96. Hilton Honors: An easier way to travel. Like Marriott Bonvoy, the Hilton Honors app offers nifty features to make your stay better. Choose your own room from those available on the hotel’s floor plan. Keyless entry uses your device to unlock the door. And, you can skip the lines at check-in by using the app’s mobile check-in process. Get Hilton Honors for iOS and Android. 97. World of Hyatt: Member-centric features to elevate your stay. The World of Hyatt app has been recently redesigned to make the Hyatt experience that much better. The app offers mobile check-in and keyless entry, as well as access to meditation and mindfulness curated from Headspace. Keep track of rewards and manage amenities – like access to a room’s Chromecast – from one easy dashboard. Get World of Hyatt for iOS and Android. 98. AccorHotels Accor All: A range of hospitality brands in one app. Accor All gives you access to the Accor brand’s thousands of properties. Through this app, you can book a hotel, a boutique hotel, a 7-star establishment, a youth hostel or even a villa or apartment in over 111 countries. Get Accor All for iOS and Android. 99. HotelsCombined: A powerful search tool that aggregates the best rates. The HotelsCombined app lets you compare rates and find hotel deals from Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Agoda and other travel sites in one simple search. See what properties are trending and find the best rates for vacation rentals, apartments, resorts, and hotels. Get HotelsCombined for iOS and Android. 100. IHG: Book from 10 IHG brands in one app. IHG’s ten brands – including Holiday Inn and Intercontinental – all offer rooms on the app. Sign up through the loyalty program and the app will give you member-specific rates and discounts. Get the IHG app for iOS and Android. 101. Splitty Travel: Smart technology to get you the best deal. Splitty Travel is an app that offers hotel deals by combining several rate plans to a single reservation. Choose your destination and Splitty’s technology combines different reservation types to build the cheapest deal for the hotel you want. Get Splitty Travel for Android. 102. DayPass: Book a day at a luxury property and enjoy its amenities. The DayPass app offers day passes to hotel & resorts, health clubs and spas. Enjoy luxury pools, all-inclusive resorts, beach clubs, gyms, and spas for the day. You can book and pay through the app. Get DayPass for iOS and Android. The travel landscape is always changing, and we’re excited to see what new apps are in development. Today’s travelers are more tech-savvy than ever, and apps like Splitty and Timeshifter show that technology is adapting to keep up. What are your favorite travel apps? Are there any that we missed?
In 2017, Uber predicted that the company would launch flying car ridesharing by the end of 2020. That hasn’t quite panned out, obviously – joining the list of Jetsons-like technology of the future that never lived up to the hype. For those of us keeping an eye on technology in hotels, it can be difficult to discern what trends are here to stay and what trends are simply a marketing stunt. We can’t predict what will happen in the future, but we can watch industry trends as leading indicators. That’s just what we’ve done to compile this list of trends that we believe are worth watching in 2020. From white labeling to the decline of OTA dominance, here’s where we predict hotel technology will go this year. 1. SaaS is exploding 2. APIs are mainstream 3. Guest room technology innovation 4. Privacy & cybersecurity 5. OTAs struggling 6. WiFi 6 7. Big data 8. Digital hotel companies SaaS is Exploding Interest in investing in hotel technology has slowly ramped up in recent years. Venture capitalists are finally starting to recognize the opportunity to invest in tools and platforms that allow hotels to capture new levels of hotel operations efficiency and revenue growth. “Despite all the innovation that has taken place in the sector over the last decade, there remains massive, untapped opportunity and potential in many categories within the hospitality arena. Despite being one of the largest and most dynamic segments of the US and global economy, penetration of cloud-based technologies in the segment remains incredibly low, and the vendor landscape remains tremendously fragmented on a global basis,” says Matt Melymuka, co-founder and partner at PeakSpan Capital. Those untapped opportunities that Melymuka references? Venture capitalists are starting to catch on. This month, Cloudbeds announced a Series C minority investment round of $82 million, led by Viking Global Investors with participation from PeakSpan Capital, Recruit Co., Ltd., Counterpart Ventures, and Cultivation Capital. Cloudbeds offers an all-in-one suite of tools, including a property management system, channel manager, booking engine, and revenue manager, growing revenue and automating workflows at more than 20,000 properties. Their Series C fundraising success indicates a growing appetite among investors for cloud-based, low-cost solutions that seamlessly communicate across platforms to target, acquire, and retain guests. Mews Systems, another top-ranked, cloud-based property management system, raised $33 million in its Series B funding round led by Battery Ventures. “As hotel and other hospitality property owners look to address the challenge of competition from peer-to-peer platforms like Airbnb, Mews provides hoteliers with the tools to not have to worry about the day-to-day of running the business, and instead focus on improving guest experience and helping travelers have the trip of a lifetime,” said Sanjiv Kalevar, Principal at Battery Ventures. Oaky, one of the industry’s leading upselling tools, raised a Series A funding round of $9.5 million led by PeakScan Capital. Oaky’s appeal to investors stems from the app’s data-driven approach to driving incremental revenue. Their deep understanding of customer behavior makes Oaky one of the top-rated upselling tools on the market today. VCs aren’t the only stakeholders interested in investing in hotel tech. Zingle, a guest-messaging software, was acquired by Medallia, an experience management company, for a $42 million cash deal in 2019. Hotels use Zingle’s messaging tools to deliver five-star service at scale; Medallia’s investment in Zingle gives hotels the opportunity to provide frictionless guest service and streamline time-consuming interactions, such as check-in. Life House, a tech-first hotel experience, shows proof-of-concept: that hotels that invest in technology drive higher revenue, better guest reviews, and a higher star-rating. Life House’s market traction epitomizes the appetite for investing in hotel tech. The hospitality startup closed a $30 million Series B from a large group of investors led by Thayer Ventures. “Life House is an unusual company in that it started out as a software provider aimed at fixing ‘the broken and complex hotel operational model’ before morphing into a combination of tech provider, hotel manager and boutique hotel brand,” reports Crunchbase. Last but not least in the litany of hotel tech brands seeing interest from investors, SiteMinder raised $70 million led by BlackRock, valuing the company at $750 million – and making it the industry’s first unicorn. SiteMinder, like Cloudbeds, offers an end-to-end tech solution: a channel manager, online booking engine, website builder, and more. Its early success at over 35,000 properties shows that this market is only growing. APIs are Mainstream White labeling is a practice in which a product – in this case, hotel software – is manufactured by a third party and uses branding by the purchaser, or marketer, so that the end product appears to have been produced by the purchaser. “The advantage is that a single company does not need to do it all: one firm can concentrate on producing the product; another on marketing it; and another can focus on selling it, each according to its expertise and preference,” writes Investopedia. White labeling has already begun in the hotel industry without hoteliers even knowing it. Property management systems that offer channel management integrations are usually white labelling their channel managers from other vendors. We believe this trend will continue, especially in the revenue management space where white labeling can solve two distinct problems: strategy and tactical management. Most revenue management systems focus on reporting and data visualization; the addition of white label software to the backend of an RMS can improve price optimization, letting hoteliers spend their time on higher value tasks and strategic revenue management. Along with white labeling, APIs are adding efficiency to hotel technology by integrating your tech stack and helping your tools talk to one another. An API, application programming interface, is simply a messenger of data between applications. APIs allow your various hotel technology tools and programs to work together, connecting your RMS to a PMS, or your PMS to your upsell software, or your business intelligence software to your PMS. An API makes your technology user-friendly and efficient; when your tools work together, you capture each platform’s full capabilities. API penetration in the hotel tech market has opened up a world of opportunities for property owners. For instance, feeding data from your PMS into a business intelligence tool leads to real, operational data to analyze trends and provide recommendations for better marketing campaigns, smarter staffing decisions, seasonal trends, and market competition. Hotels that are comfortable using APIs can automate tasks that take up much of their employee’s time with manual data entry. Guest Room Technology Innovation Guests around the world have unprecedented convenience at home. The number of voice-controlled and streaming services that have proliferated the home in recent years is unprecedented: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for streaming; Alexa, Google Home, and Amazon Echo for voice; Creston, Nest, and other smart-home devices; Uber Eats, Door Dash, and Caviar for food delivery at the touch of a button. On-demand convenience dominates our lives, and guests expect this level of ease from their hotel experience as well. Hotels are catching on, adding convenience through streaming, voice activation, guest-room tablets, and food ordering tech. “Unlike other amenities that are requested but not necessarily used, streaming services are used on average by 40% of rooms—and they’re used longer than their cable counterparts,” Gavin Philipp, VP of operations at Charlestowne Hotels told Hotel News Now. The Amazon Fire Stick, Roku streaming stick, and Apple TV are all low-cost, easy-to-implement tools that some guests are even bringing with them. Hilton is taking a different approach, partnering with Netflix to allow guests to control their streaming straight from the Hilton Honors mobile app. As far as voice-activation, Volara is leading the way in providing a thoughtful, Alexa-esque guest-room solution. Volara integrates with the most popular work order management systems so that guests can make requests and get confirmation when the item or service they need will be delivered. It also integrates with in-room entertainment, eliminating the pain point of touching a germy remote control. Volara’s success is more than gimmicky – their product allows properties to interact with guests in a fun and scalable way. Guest room tablets provide convenience in a simple, straightforward upgrade that improves guest satisfaction scores virtually instantaneously. Tablets like those from Crave Interactive allow guests to customize their experience at will, booking spa appointments, taking advantage of F&B offers, and exploring local tours. And for savvy marketing managers, tablets provide a new channel through which to send targeted, automated messages generating $5,000 per month in additional revenue. Lastly, hotels are replicating the Uber Eats experience with tools like 2nd Kitchen and Bbot. 2nd Kitchen is a godsend for hotels without a kitchen on-site: guests can order room service from restaurants near your hotel, taking care of care of orders, menus, payment, fulfillment, and customer support for your property. Bbot’s mobile ordering technology gives guests a way to order and pay for food and drinks from their phones, cutting down on labor and menu management at your property. For guests, no need to call down, sign a receipt or spend time waiting in line for service. Privacy & Cybersecurity Hotels are a prime target for hackers. “Only about 25% of all U.S. businesses, including hotel operators, are fully compliant with current data security best practices. That means that three out of four are not and are potential disasters waiting to happen,” reported one cybersecurity expert. Numerous high-profile malware attacks on the hotel industry have led to hundreds of millions of guests’ data being compromised and millions of dollars in damage. Just this February, MGM Resorts revealed they were the target of a massive data breach that compromised personal information for more than 10.6 million guests. Files leaked in the MGM attack included information on celebrities, chief executives of technology companies, reporters and government officials, according to Skift. With this trend on the rise, hotels are being forced to get smart about security. Property owners must do their research in selecting tech tools that provide multilayer security, data protection, secure transactions, and compliance with international payment and data privacy standards. Hotels must regularly host training to their staff on the proper way to handle personal information, comply with privacy regulations such as the GDPR, and change their access credentials regularly. The many tech innovations we see penetrating the market require constant vigilance of cybersecurity best practices, regular updates to security software, and dedication to routine testing and threat assessment. OTAs are Struggling Expedia and Booking have taken some pretty big hits in recent months. Expedia’s shares ended 2019 down 4%, a slight decline but significant in comparison to the S&P 500, which returned 29%. Booking.com’s stock finished down 11% in January 2020 (in part due to COVID-19). Why the dive in stock price? There are two factors outside Coronavirus that are impacting OTAs. First, hotels are getting better at capturing direct bookings. Hotel tech like direct booking platforms, metasearch ad managers, and messaging integrations help properties draw more visitors to their site and convert more direct bookings, circumventing the high OTA commissions in the process. Direct booking tools that connect a property’s PMS, parity, behavioral and demographic data across the entire booking journey has put hotels on even footing with OTAs when it comes to winning bookings. Secondly, Google has entered the travel market in a big way. Google has expanded from traditional AdWords to include hotels everywhere via its Hotel Ads product. Google has historically been the source for much of OTAs inbound demand, and now that the platform is a direct competitor, OTAs are vulnerable unless they pay billions of dollars each year to Google to ensure they show up high in search results and get clicks from travel planners. Free traffic is “shrinking all the time”, Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom explained to analysts. WiFi 6 5G may be getting all the buzz, but for property owners, WiFi 6 is much more relevant. WiFi 6 is the term used to describe the next iteration of Wifi, a faster, more efficient connection enabled through new technologies. WiFi 6 is about 30% faster than our current WiFi. This might not sound that impressive at first glance, but considering how many devices we’re adding to our WiFi networks, the increase in speed is dramatic. Like 5G, WiFi 6 will have obvious implications for guests who use their smartphones to book and manage their stay. But beyond the guest experience, hotels can take advantage of faster WiFi to power all those streaming, tablet, and voice-activated devices. With WiFi 6, your property can leverage in-room technology to provide better service, driving positive guest reviews and repeat business. Smart thermostats, smart speakers, and smart locks will all perform better with the adoption of WiFi 6 over the next five years. Big Data Investors in Oaky already recognize this next insight: data has become the world’s most valuable resource. The sooner you start to mine guest data for better customer insights, the better positioned your property will be against your competition. Why is data so valuable? “Data are now part of every sector and function of the global economy and, like other essential factors of production such as hard assets and human capital, much of modern economic activity simply could not take place without them,” argues McKinsey. Data can fuel smarter marketing campaigns, inform your pricing, and help you capture a higher market share than your competitors by knowing your guests on a deeper level. Hoteliers are just starting to realize the potential of its guest data. Earlier this year, Revinate launched the hotel industry's first Guest Data Platform to aggregate, clean and deliver rich guest profiles for hotels and property groups of all sizes. The platform combines data from multiple sources to provide a complete picture of a hotel’s guests, delivering the information needed to increase guest satisfaction scores, direct bookings, and ultimately, profit. An acquisition by CoStar Group put a dollar figure on just how much hotel industry data is worth. The Group purchased STR for $450 million in cash in the fall of 2019. STR aggregates data from more than 65,000 properties worldwide, distributing more than 1 million reports each month. That amount of data synthesized into nice reports? Priceless. Digital Hotel Companies All these trends – the flow of VC cash into hotel tech, the rise of consumer-convenience tech, the use of white-label software and APIs – means the landscape of the hotel industry is changing. New competitors are challenging old management companies that haven’t innovated enough. These next-gen properties are sometimes called hometels (home+hotel), or more generally, alternative lodging. Brands in the alternative lodging sector include Stay Alfred, Sonder, The Guild Hotels and to some extent groups such as Selina and OYO. VCs seem to love these alternative lodging options. Sonder, for instance, hit $100M in revenue thanks to its venture capital-fueled growth; the brand raised a $225M Series D and projected $313M in forward 12-months revenue (2019/2020). The biggest distraction or barrier these next-gen hotels face is that they’re taking the wrong approach to tech. The companies that win will be the ones who stop acting like tech companies – using buzzwords like AI and virtual concierge – and focus on being more innovative and agile real estate businesses than traditional market players today. Those that succeed will be tech-enabled businesses; not tech businesses. They will be better at buying and using tech components via APIs and lean infrastructure, but be founded on sound business principles enabled by the industry’s best tech tools.
Are you wondering how to connect with your guests? No, we’re not talking about interacting with them over social media. We’re talking about really connecting with guests, tapping into their needs and wants. If you want to build stronger guest loyalty and create the most positive experiences at your hotel, then you need to understand exactly what guests need, from their basic physiological needs up to their need for personal growth and fulfillment. In this article, we’ll explain how Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs can help you reveal what guests really want and walk you through some Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs examples in real life. And in doing so, you can start thinking about how you can tailor your hotel’s guest experience to truly deliver surprise and delighted through elevated hospitality experiences. What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Before we dive in, you may be scratching your head and thinking “Maslow who?” If you took a psychology course in college, the concept might be familiar, but let’s start with a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs definition. In studying human behavior and what motivates people, Maslow proposed that there are five categories of “needs” that drive people forward: Physiological needs: food, water, shelter, sleep Safety needs: personal security, employment, money/resources Belonging and love needs: friends, family, sense of connection Esteem needs: esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence) and the desire for reputation or respect from others (status, prestige) Self-actualization needs: realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences Maslow also explained that these needs come in a certain order; people aren’t motivated by status or prestige, for example, if they don’t have food, water, and shelter. Once someone has satisfied their physiological, safety, and belonging needs, then they can focus on esteem and self-actualization. But how does all of this relate to hotels? Let’s explore how you can satisfy each level of guest needs with services and amenities at your hotel. Meeting hotel guests’ physiological needs As humans, our most basic needs are food, water, and shelter. Hotels, of course, provide shelter, and usually, food and beverage offerings too. So meeting this need seems pretty simple, right? In theory, yes, but many hotels still receive guest reviews that mention uncomfortable beds, loud noise, and problems with food and beverage service. While guests’ physiological needs might seem to be the easiest to satisfy, these are also the most important, because the physiological “boxes” must be checked before guests can achieve the rest of their needs. First and foremost, your hotel must ensure guests can get a good night’s sleep. Make each room a cozy, quiet oasis that’s conducive to rest with comfortable mattresses, clean sheets, soundproofing, and temperature control. Having hypoallergenic pillows and comforters available can also make a big difference for a guest with allergies. Once you’ve mastered the sleep piece, then make sure guests can always access food and water whenever the need arises. Consider adding in-room amenities like complimentary water bottles, a snack basket, a fruit bowl, or even a minibar stocked with handpicked, local items. Besides the in-room offerings, try to eliminate any friction that guests might encounter when ordering food or drinks. When your guest’s tummy is rumbling after a long day of travel, the last thing they want to do is wait on hold when trying to place a room service order, only to be told to expect a 45-minute delivery time. Technology solutions like SuitePad can streamline the ordering process, allowing guests to order room service or book restaurant reservations at the tap of a finger. If your property doesn’t have a restaurant on-site, consider selling snacks at the front desk or partnering with nearby eateries for delivery. Helping hotel guests feel safe Once you’ve satisfied guests’ most basic needs, the next step is to provide the right security measures so they feel safe at your property. In addition to standard security features like electronic room keys and CCTV, make sure all of your employees uphold safety standards like requiring ID upon check-in, calling the guest before sending a visitor up to their room, and wearing name badges at all times. Your local safety code might seem like a no-brainer, but following your area’s building safety standards is another way to satisfy the need for safety and security. Next time the code inspector arrives, maybe you’ll remember reading about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and understand why their job is so important. Seemingly simple steps like clearly displaying emergency phone numbers and emergency exit procedures can help guests - especially international guests who might not know your local emergency number, for instance - feel safe at your property. Creating a space for belonging and love needs When guests feel safe at your hotel, that’s when they can relax. Whether your guests stay at your hotel specifically to relax or if they’re just trying to chill out between high-energy meetings or events, you want to make sure your hotel can allow guests to achieve their belonging and love needs - and we’re not just talking about honeymooners here! Hotels can help guests satisfy this third tier of needs by selling rooms that are suitable for a variety of different guest profiles: families, couples, groups of friends, and even solo travelers. When you have different room configurations, everyone can find the room type that suits their needs, whether that be connecting rooms so kids and parents can have some privacy or bunk bed rooms so friends can stay up all night talking. In addition to your guestrooms, maximizing your public spaces for social interaction is another great way to make your hotel most suitable for “belonging.” New hotel concepts like Yotel and CitizenM have reinvented the traditional lobby as a hybrid of coworking and social space that invites guests to connect with each other, and some hotels offer events, classes, or guided tours that promote socialization. But above all, you can focus on forming emotional connections between guests and staff, which is one of the most powerful ways to help guests feel like they belong. Give your employees the power to surprise guests with gifts or celebrate a special occasion, and you’ll create a deep connection between your guests and your team. Satisfying guests’ esteem needs Once you’ve met guests’ physiological, safety, and belonging needs, then you can move on to ego or status needs, which involve making the guest feel special and valued. If your hotel offers a loyalty program, then this idea will definitely ring a bell. Hotels can satisfy this fourth tier of needs by recognizing guests for return business during check-in, celebrating loyalty milestones with a welcome amenity, and even learning their preferences so each stay is hyper-personalized. Technology can be your friend here thanks to software like SuitePad that can track guest behavior and offer insights about guest preferences. If you learn that a certain guest always drinks a cappuccino with breakfast, for example, your server can proactively offer the guest a cappuccino when they enter the dining room. Recognizing and rewarding guest loyalty is just one way to help guests feel special. Your hotel can also provide special treatment for guests who book higher room categories, like with a dedicated check-in desk for suites. Also, if you learn that a guest is celebrating a special occasion, take that opportunity to send a bottle of sparkling wine to their room or offer a free dessert after dinner. Not only will these actions satisfy guests’ esteem needs, they also create a more positive experience, which can lead to repeat business and glowing guest reviews. Fulfilling guests’ self-actualization needs The pinnacle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is self-actualization, which refers to achieving one’s life goals or meeting one’s full potential. For some people, self-actualization means being a great parent or creating an artistic masterpiece. But for others, travel is a life goal, and your hotel can help these people cross items off of their bucket list or plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip. One way to assist guests in achieving self-actualization is with concierge service. Guests often come to the concierge desk with remarkable requests, whether it be hiring a luxury sports car or arranging behind-the-scenes access to a museum. Encouraging concierges to satisfy these requests means your hotel can help people make their dreams become reality. Looking at hospitality through the lens of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can help you and your hotel understand the bigger picture of what guests want - and why they want it. Maslow’s Hierarchy can also add some structure to your operational practices and goals; for example, you need to ensure guests can get a good night’s sleep at your hotel before you invest time and money into an elaborate loyalty program. Understanding what guests really want - what motivates them - is the key to providing an exceptional guest experience, earning great reviews, and building guest loyalty.
Each year Hotel Tech Report surveys thousands of industry insiders to find the best hospitality jobs and employers globally. We all want fulfilling careers with intellectual growth opportunities and earning potential to provide for our families. We want to work for companies whose cultures align with our values and to be surrounded by peers who celebrate our successes. But it’s hard to tell which companies are the real deal since most seem great during the interview and courtship process. Every year we do the hard work for you and survey thousands of professionals to find the best companies to work for in the hospitality industry. We ask respondents to rate their employers from 1-10 on these key variables: Work-life balance Personal development opportunities Gender equality Confidence in company direction Values alignment Hotel Tech Report creates this list each year for two reasons: (1) to help industry professionals find the best hospitality jobs and (2) to help hotel tech buyers understand that it’s just as important to partner with great organizations as it is to find great software tools and products. Vendor culture is important to every aspect of a vendor relationship: Product: Great workplaces attract the best talent who make the best products Customer Support: Happy client reps give better service and stay around longer developing deeper relationships. Sales: When a sales team has high turnover, innovation gets strangled because there isn’t enough cash coming in the door to invest. Our 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech list features companies who foster wonderful work environments for employees. In return, those employees deliver incredible products and service to clients. This year we identified 6 major trends that made these companies stand out from the pack in an extremely competitive race: Strong cross-departmental collaboration Fast paced: employees take pride because they see their work come to life Memorable team off-sites that build resilience through trust and friendship Heavy investments made into employee onboarding Visible and accessible executive teams who truly care Focus and clarity: teams that know what is expected of them are consistently able to achieve lofty goals Without further adieu here are 2020’s 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech... #10 Bookboost The youngest startup to make the list is Bookboost, a rising star hailing from Sweden making big waves in the guest messaging space. Given that it’s a small and growing team, Bookboost employees frequently cite feeling like one big happy family. One employee told Hotel Tech Report that the highlight of their year was when the Company’s CTO Willem suggested that everyone go for an impromptu team swim: “I remember a hot summer day when Willem, the CTO of Bookboost, proposed that we go swimming together since our office is located right next to the port. As I stood on the shore watching everyone in the water, the sun was shining and they were all laughing. I used to work for big companies and the government, so I had never experienced something like this before. I felt the energy, passion, and love of this company.” In 2019 Bookboost closed a fresh funding round and expanded into the German market so don’t expect them to stay small for long. #9 Revinate Making the top 10 for it’s second year in a row, Revinate is the cure to corporate boredom without the risk of a true startup. San Francisco based Revinate is one of the most mature companies on our list and recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. We’ve all seen the stats about startup failure rates - so how has Revinate been able to thrive for so long in rapidly changing markets? The short answer is that they’ve got a killer culture. “The culture at Revinate is the best I've been a part of in my 25 years of being a professional.” Revinate has a CEO that’s equally aggressive and empathetic. The only things the CEO Marc Heyneker seems to love more than beating his competition are his team and his customers and his 98% approval rating on Glassdoor is just another data point to back it up. This is a rare balance to find in a CEO and Revinate employees around the world have taken note. The company credo is as clear as Heyneker’s leadership: Customer Love. “We have worked super hard to make all customers happy. We have a company motto of customer love. As a product, design, and engineering org we spend time talking directly to our customers and collaborate with them as we build out our new features.” “As an SDR, I am an entry level sales person. I had some sales experience coming into this role, but this company has really shown me that they are willing to invest in their people, to grow them to their full potential. My most memorable event is my second week here and my CEO, Marc Heyneker, had a drink with me and spoke to me as a friend and colleague. He gave me words of advice, confidence, and shared lessons from his experience. I've never had a CEO that cared about all of his employees like this before. Even though I am entry level in sales, he expressed high hopes for my career and could see my eagerness to grow and achieve big things with Revinate. I will never forget this experience.” When you join the Revinate team you can expect to learn a lot about yourself through a personality test called “Insights Discovery” during onboarding. This test will help you better understand your conscious and subconscious to better set yourself up for success at the Company and in your own career. Results of the test help your peers and manager guide you towards leadership - something mostly reserved for senior executives; however, a benefit that’s available to all Revinate employees. Once on board, Revinate employees frequently cite speaking opportunities where they are able to build their personal brand and reputation while promoting Revinate around the world. This year team members enjoyed speaking opportunities at No Vacancy Australia, Direct Booking Summit in Miami, California Hotel & Lodging Association and much more. #8 Asksuite Bust out the Caipirinhas because Asksuite is the first Brazillian company to ever make this list. In fact, Florianopolis based Asksuite is the first organization in all of Latin America to make the list. Developer talent has gotten increasingly expensive in Eastern Europe and timezone/language barriers have made lots of U.S. tech companies look south for development resources. Despite tons of engineering talent, Latin American tech is still in its early days and companies like Asksuite are making waves by leveraging strong in house tech talent. This isn’t the Company’s first time winning a culture award as it was recently voted the 7th best place to work in Santa Catarina. Asksuite recently pushed passed the 1,400 client mark (more than 2x growth) which is a huge step towards the Company making its name on the global stage. Employees at Asksuite are totally pumped on the Company’s growth in recent years and enjoy how the firm is constantly helping them grow on a personal level, too. “This company has a greatest culture, I am deepest in love with them just how they embrace ourselves as a human being not just numbers.” “Our first team building was really special because we gathered in a beautiful environment where we could connect to nature and to each other. Not only in a professional way, but also as human beings.” “When I entered Asksuite, I was hired as SDR (Sales). But that was not my field. And they knew that. I just wanted to be part of the company and I thought that I could help them since I am an ex-hotelier myself. However, Content Production was always my target and I was very open about it. They didn't have a position like that back then so we decided to give a shot in Sales. Eight months later, a job position opened in Marketing and they moved me. I could not be happier!” #7 Hotel Effectiveness Rounding out the top 10 for their second consecutive year, Hotel Effectiveness had an incredible year reaching over 4,000 hotels, launching a new mobile application and moving into a new office space. Employees cite being constantly recognized for achieving milestones in and out of work which makes them feel valued. “I have been here less than 18 months and have witnessed our more than doubling in revenues and employees. The ongoing challenges to find workable solutions that allow for scaling are great opportunities. In my own area, I have more than doubled the size of my team, transitioned invoicing over to a new system, and continually work to meet new challenges as we continue to grow. The victories are satisfying as well as we have dramatically improved processes to provide for better forecasting and cash collection.” Hotel Effectiveness also values giving back to their community and recently attended a suicide prevention event to raise funds and awareness for a critical cause as a team. #6 ALICE There’s nothing worse than feeling like your company is stagnant and that your work is being tossed in a drawer somewhere. Ultimately, that’s why most ambitious young people are opting out of corporate life. At ALICE you certainly won’t feel like you’re stagnating and you’ll watch your work come to life extremely quickly. ALICE has consistently reinvented itself over recent years through the acquisition (and integration) of GoConcierge and then through the launch of the housekeeping product its team build from scratch and has landed itself the highly coveted 3peat on the top 10 best places to work list. “Last year we developed a complete new product from scratch. I'm very proud of how much research we put into the design to create an amazing product and this effort was paid off when launching it with beta customers and seeing their satisfaction.” ~UX Designer “I created a performance / load testing tool using a more recent technology. Though it's still being discussed what would be our standard for that, at least I am able to introduce something more recent and what I think is something that can be potentially a good standard for us moving forward.” ~Engineering Integrating acquisitions and building new products is tough work but ALICE always finds time for balance. This year’s team retreat consisted of corporate summer camp. “We had a CAMP! I personally had never been to a camp, with cabanas, lake, bonfires and stuff. We had one this past summer and it was fantastic! As we are from Customer Success most of us are either remote or always traveling, so there were people that I had never met, it was so great to have everyone together on such a beautiful place, we had very productive meetings in the morning and free time during the afternoons to go kayak at the lake, take walks, this definitely helped tremendously to bond more and more the team.” Employees at ALICE are encouraged to push themselves and learn new skills. “I was able to learn mySQL, which has opened new doors and I feel like I've found a new passion. ALICE was able to pay for my course and I am proud to contribute to the company with new skills that I did not have before joining.” ~Customer Success "When I was struggling and reached out to my manager, he was able to provide help and gave me advice on how to prioritize my projects. Also, he spent extra time coaching me through difficult situations." ~Engineering One of the hardest things is when you feel like you’re struggling at work or not loving what you do. If either of these happen in a corporate environment you might find yourself canned or cast aside - but not at ALICE. When employees are struggling or in a rut, ALICE team members are encouraged to have an open conversation and be completely transparent so that the Company can identify a better fit for them and figure out how to help them succeed: “Nearly 1.5 years ago, I found myself doing Product Management at ALICE. It was a career that I was unsure aligned with my strengths and passions. Since, ALICE gave me the opportunity to explore marketing at the company. I have been responsible for managing the day-to-day of the creative team, providing feedback to our designers, and contributing to the creation of core content. I feel much more impactful in this role and is aligned with my passions. In July, I was promoted to Marketing Manager. It has been a blast. I could have never made such a quick, smooth transition if it were not for ALICE's desires to care deeply about each employee and his/her growth.” “ALICE gave me a promotion, and helped me into a new career path - sales. I'm excited to be in the community talking about ALICE.” “Although I am still fairly new at the organization, I think the “All Hands” meetings every Tuesday are pretty incredible. I have worked at many hotels and none of them have taken time on a weekly basis to talk as a company going over updates, news in the industry, introducing new team members, etc. All of these meetings are recorded, so if you have a conflicting event you can still be kept in the loop. The team is so incredibly welcome and genuinely cares about creating a positive remote culture.” #5 Cloudbeds This is Cloudbeds’ 3rd year in a row making our list and if you read CEO Adam Harris’ culture manifesto it’s easy to see why. We should note that Cloudbeds is the highest ranked U.S. based company on our list. Cloudbeds has a corporate culture that features a lot of the strengths found amongst other companies on this list but two things really make Cloudbeds stand apart from the pack. Firstly, Cloudbeds is a mostly distributed and remote organization. While it’s headquarters are in sunny San Diego, California - the Cloudbeds team is entirely global. Cloudbeds employees consistently cite that Cloudbeds has the best travel benefits of any company they’ve ever worked for. Harris and Co-Founder Richard Castle understand that in order for their team to understand hotel clients and guests they need to walk a mile in their shoes. Several employees told Hotel Tech Report that they’re highlight of 2019 was meeting up in Bali for a team leader’s 40th birthday where they spent days coworking and getting to know each other on a personal level. Other team members report team outings in Spain, Nashville and across the world. Cloudbeds even rents long term apartments in core cities so that team members can come and go as they please: “The company strongly supports our travels, we are travelling cloudies. The company rented apartments for us for a year in 2 biggest offices. Everyone who wanted could use it and visit our offices any time!” One concern that many employees have with a remote organization is that it’s difficult to build alliances and move up the ranks or switch into new roles but at Cloudbeds that isn’t an issue. Don’t believe us? Check out what employees had to say: “Being promoted 2 times within the year was a great accomplishment. I have been with the company for over 4 years and started as a customer support coach and also an implementation coach. Having the opportunity to use my talents in other areas of the company has been a great motivator and I continue to grow every day learning new things within our company.” ~Product Team “When I was promoted I got all the confidence of Cloudbeds management to assume my new role. It was significant for me to feel that my company cares about my success and that my achievements were aligned with company goals.” “I was promoted within 9 months of work from a low position to a department I wanted to work in. Success is both noticed and rewarded at Cloudbeds” #4 hotelkit Nestled in Salzburg on the German border, hotelkit is the only company on our list from Austria but they are a rising contingent of DACH based hotel tech startups (including SuitePad) that are rising to global domination. Salzberg is where Mozart was born and hotelkit founder Marius Donhauser runs his team like a finely tuned symphony. Employees cite tons of team building events including Oktoberfest and a two day team trip to the mountains that included hiking, canyoning and even spending the night in a hut! “We went on a two day hiking tour as teamevent and i am astonished every time how well we all work together as a team and how we trust each other. We constantly support our hotelkit team members, help each other out and spend a lot of time together after work. My colleagues have basically become my family away from home.” Hotelkit employees have weekly catered lunch, yoga classes, healthy office snacks and more. These are all nice amenities but what really matters is that hotelkit cares about its people. With all of these activities and benefits you’re probably wondering when hotelkit has time to get things done. We were wondering the same thing. While we can’t say exactly, hotelkit recently crossed its 1,000th hotel client and they are now one of the most popular companies on Hotel Tech Report after some huge victories in the HotelTechAwards this year. If you’re looking for a fast paced job in a beautiful location with a CEO who lives and breathes both his brand and his staff - look no further and go check out what openings they have available. Oh and did we mention, hotelkit also won first place in four categories of this year’s HotelTechAwards... #3 Mews Systems This ain’t Mews’ first rodeo and it definitely isn’t their first time making this list. This is Mews’ second year in a row making the top 3 in our list. If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic case of corporate boredom, applying for a job at Mews Systems is definitely the cure. Mews has scaled from 100 team members to more than 400 in the last 12 months, which, needless to say, is an insane growth rate. When companies scale this quickly they risk culture dilution but at Mews the opposite seems to be happening. The more Mews hires - the more fun they seem to have. If you don’t believe us go and check out one of their award winning conference booths at events like WTM and ITB where you’ll find Mews team members rocking F1 racing suits, cheeky lab coats or even a hilarious take on miracle grow gardening. Mews makes it look easy but don’t be fooled - they are a work hard play hard company that is even more focused on driving results for clients. According to one Mews Operations Associate, “Everybody is constantly on 120% level, which is great. Coming from the slow paced corporate world - the team here is giving me a lesson in productivity everyday.” So what’s the secret to the Mews success? They’re polarizing, mission driven and make everyone who joins feel like they’re part of a family. Some tentpole culture initiatives include the annual company get together in February where the entire team heads to Prague for a week of team building and a company wide cross-functional Hackathon. Mews likely has the most well oiled onboarding process of any company on this list. New hires attend a monthly onboarding week that includes meeting the CEO in a small breakout and the opportunity to host a company funded theme party for your new colleagues. Last but not least, Mews recently raised a monster $33M round led by Battery Ventures, won the top prize in the 2020 HotelTechAwards for the #1 PMS and made its official US debut this spring so it seems their miracle grow theme may have a few potential interpretations.. #2 Pace London based Pace is another newcomer to our list and the team achieved some huge milestones in 2019. For starters they grew the Pace family by 100% from 15 to 30 employees. Pace team members frequently cite being motivated by getting stuff done and even hit their 2019 annual goals by October with two months to spare. “In the past year the Pace team has grown by more than 100%. It was amazing to see the whole company (from recent joiners to old timers) rally around a few key product releases like a well oiled, high performance machine.” Pace team member In his former life, Pace CEO Jens Munch was a journalist and wartime photographer in Iraq which has helped him build a team that’s battle ready to take on the hyper competitive revenue management space. Pace is a very product driven culture and was designed from the ground up to disrupt the status quo. Pace has developed a completely automated revenue management system and everyone at the firm is focused on helping clients (old and new) feel confident in its recommendations where revenue managers have historically been apprehensive to let machines take over. “The launch of automation at Pace was a great achievement by the whole team that was a true, cumulative effort of everyone working tirelessly in sync. The response from new and existing customers has been amazing, and seeing the product providing even better results instills me with even more confidence for Pace.” ~Pace team member #1 SuitePad Last but not least, the 2020 Best Place to Work in Hotel Tech goes to…(drum roll please)...SuitePad! This is Berlin based SuitePad’s first year making the list (and their first HotelTechAwards winning #1 Guest Room Tablet provider) but we don’t suspect that it will be their last. SuitePad employees share a genuine passion for building strong lasting relationships both with their hotel clients and with each other. This people focused culture starts all the way at the top according to a SuitePad team member: “I had a personal problem that required hospitalisation, my CEO dropped everything he had for the day and personally took me to the hospital and was there at every step of the recovery. This is the kind of thing that I have seen time and time again done for employees that have any kind of crisis going on in their personal lives.” Many SuitePad employees cite having never been at a company before where they’ve clicked with so many other team members on a personal and professional level. The co-founders at SuitePad deeply care about the team and who joins it. One employee puts it best, “Work is great here, because the people are great.” It’s not all kumbaya and hugs at SuitePad though, the team is fast paced and extremely results driven. This year at SuitePad every team pushed their limits: sales and marketing aggressively launched new territories while product developed a new product from scratch on a completely new tech stack (SuiteTV box): “We have worked a lot on our internal processes and our team closed the two biggest deals in the history of the company in the last few months, which is not only great in terms of growth and sales goals, but also because it has shown that our efforts in improving the processes and aligning our strategy with sales and marketing has been successful.” ~Customer Success Employee -- It's 2020 and it's time for a new hospitality job. Go head to these incredible employers and start dropping those resumes. For tips on how to find and land a job in hotels, we've also created a guide to using the popular Hcareers platform to help you get started.
Guest Experience Category Press Releases
15 technology companies have come together to create transparency for hotel technology buyers around the world. The initiative, facilitated by Hotel Tech Report, rates hotel software vendor customer support processes on more than 30 key variables to help buyers make better partner decisions. Each year hotel owners lose billions of dollars due to software downtime and unused features. By leveraging the new GCSC Global Customer Support Certification, hoteliers can confidently enter new technology partnerships with transparency into the support systems that are in place to mitigate such issues. Software inevitably goes down and great customer support is the best defense against steep losses. Hoteliers who work with Hotel Tech Report Support Certified vendors also know that those partners have invested in training materials and content to ensure that their teams have everything they need to realize successful outcomes. The certification creates accountability in the vendor community to maintain the highest levels of service for clients through an annual audit by analysts at Hotel Tech Report, the world’s largest technology research platform and online community for the global hotel industry. Leading firms such as Mews Systems, OTA Insight and IDeaS Revenue Solutions have been key supporters of this new industry standard which paves the path for better relationships between technology firms and their hotel clients. “We initially came to Hotel Tech Report with a simple concept. Our hypothesis was that companies with great customer support would be happy to grant full transparency around their support KPIs with Hotel Tech Report and that companies with subpar support would never give that kind of access. The team at HTR has brought that concept to life and we’re proud to give full transparency into how we engage, educate and support our customers on a global scale. Ultimately this support certification is an easy way for hoteliers to identify the companies who really treat their clients as partners - it’s a gamechanger for the industry,” says Richard Valtr, Founder of Mews Systems. Decision makers at hotel groups often spend months researching software feature functionality and pricing - but rarely are they able to develop deep insights into how the relationship changes and the level of support their team will receive once the contract is signed. “Hoteliers are constantly rated by parties like JD Power and AAA on the service they deliver to guests which ultimately helps guests find the best hotels. With this initiative, hoteliers can now benefit from the peace of mind that comes with knowing their future vendors have not only been pre-vetted for professional customer support prior to contract lock-in but they can also easily learn about which tools and processes are most important and which one’s prospective vendors have invested in to help them succeed beyond deal close.” ~Adam Hollander, Hotel Tech Report Poor customer support is incredibly costly for both hotel software buyers and sellers. For buyers, poor customer support from technology vendors can lead to lost revenue, poor guest satisfaction and weak ROIs on technology spend. “When a booking engine goes down hoteliers can lose thousands of dollars each minute. What if it takes 24-hours to reach their vendor’s support team and fix the issue? Hoteliers rarely anticipate, let alone, calculate these kinds of costs when signing up with a new vendor because they’re out of sight and out of mind. Once it happens to them they go into a panic and wish they knew ahead of time,” says Hollander. Another benefit of strong customer engagement processes is maximization of software feature functionality. A study conducted on 3.8M software users shows that $30B is wasted each year on unused software in the U.S. alone. Vendors that meet Hotel Tech Report’s support certification have been pre-vetted for the tools and processes necessary to ensure that hotel teams will be properly trained on all feature functionality which ultimately helps them maximize their investments in software and achieve higher ROIs on their software spend. "45% of software features across the SaaS sector never get used. This is a huge waste. While OTA Insight's usage stats show that the intuitive features in our tools are very well used, we strive for more than just delivering software that works properly; we're committed to ensuring that clients can maximize their investments by ensuring our products and functionality are simple, intuitive and add value. With a heavy focus on customer feedback and input, this informs our ongoing product development," says James Parsons of OTA Insight. Founding members of the GCSC Customer Support Certification rallied across the globe to bring this initiative to life. Each founding member granted Hotel Tech Report access to their internal systems for the team to rate service delivery with its proprietary support certification framework. Founding Members of the Global Support Certification include: Mews Systems (Prague) IDeaS (Minneapolis) OTA Insight (London) TrustYou (Munich) Travel Tripper (New York) Hotelchamp (Amsterdam) Oaky (Amsterdam) Revinate (San Francisco) D-EDGE (Paris) Pace (London) Beekeeper (Zurich) RevControl (Eindhoven) Hotel Effectiveness (Atlanta) GuestRevu (Port Alfred) Stardekk (Brugge) The GCSC Global Customer Support Certification is now live for hotel technology suppliers to apply for certification. This budget season, for the first time ever, hotel tech buyers can easily vet customer support for future vendors and access support certification details right from company profiles on Hotel Tech Report. Learn more about the certification
Registration is now open for the 2020 HotelTechAwards (www.hoteltechawards.com), the industry's only data driven awards platform that recognizes best of breed hotel technology companies who win in the eyes of the judges that matter most - their customers. 2019 winners of the HotelTechAwards included top hotel technology companies such as TravelClick, Beekeeper, Screen Pilot, Atomize and Oaky. New York based ALICE won "The Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech" edging out runner up Mews Systems (10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech). "Revenue generation and operations have become very complex for hotels, threatening profitability and detracting from the customer experience. The answer lies in innovative technology solutions, which can disrupt the disruptors. The HotelTechAwards recognize these technologies and their beneficial impact on the future of our industry." says Marc Heyneker, CEO at Revinate, one of the hotel tech industry's most recognized brands and 2019’s top rated Hotel CRM. Companies are competing for category leadership across marketing, revenue management, guest experience, operations and sales technology. Hotel technology companies ranging from hardware to software and service businesses like digital marketing agencies are eligible for nomination. More than 40 companies around the world have already pre-registered for the competition. Registration closes on September 1st. Voting will take place through December 31, 2019 and winners of the 2020 HotelTechAwards will be announced on January 15, 2020. "As a former hotelier there was ultimately one thing my team wanted to know about prospective technology partners," says Jordan Hollander, co-founder of Hotel Tech Report. "We wanted to know what other hoteliers like us thought about the service providers, that they were tried and true and that the company could deliver on their sales promises. The HotelTechAwards were designed to do exactly that - they help hoteliers see what people like them honestly think about products and services to help them make better decisions for their properties." Learn more about the HotelTechAwards and register now at www.hoteltechawards.com
For the past 3-months, more than one hundred of the hotel industry's top tech firms across 40+ countries have campaigned in the 2018 HotelTechAwards joining in Hotel Tech Report's mission by leveraging customer feedback and transparency to speed up the pace of global innovation. Companies competed for the coveted top spot across 30 critical categories of hotel technology and today, Hotel Tech Report is proud to announce the 2018 winners. The HotelTechAwards segment top technologies into the following categories: Marketing - technology that attracts new customers Revenue - technology that optimizes distribution and informs business strategy Operations - technology that helps hotels run efficiently Guest Experience - technology that differentiates the guest stay at a hotel Hotel Tech Report's global hotelier community rallied behind participating top vendors by contributing invaluable qualitative product feedback as well as more than 7,500 data points across key metrics including: ease of use, customer service, implementation, ROI and likelihood to recommend (learn more about scoring) to help determine winners. So what is the significance of the HotelTechAwards? "For the first time, hoteliers can reference an unbiased source of information provided by their peers and verified by a 3rd party to help them easily learn about and discover the best technology for their hotels. Hoteliers can often be slow to adopt new technology. The reality is that they're slow for a reason--the wrong choice in a vendor can risk both their hotel's profitability and even their personal career" says Hotel Tech Report's Adam Hollander. "Whether its lost revenue from a poorly optimized mobile website, a lawsuit from a security system that failed to record or a hit to their P&L from a poorly calibrated revenue management system--hoteliers are justified in being especially cautious during the technology vendor selection process. The HotelTechAwards serve as a platform to help educate hoteliers and keep their respective hotels competitive in a world where tech giants like Airbnb and Expedia are looking more like their compset than ever." Quantitative data is extremely important for selecting the right technology for any hotel company. What is the ROI? What’s the uplift in conversion, how does a product improve guest satisfaction scores or decrease service response times? Quantitative data drives the promises made by vendors during the sales process. Subjective data from unbiased customer reviews enables decision makers to see how well vendors deliver on those promises. The winners of the HotelTechAwards are the companies who have both world class products and incredibly strong relationships with their customers. To all of the companies (view all) who embraced customer feedback and transparency by campaigning in the 2018 HotelTechAwards, we commend you for your service to the industry at large and are now proud to present to you--the winners of the 2018 HotelTechAwards: Bonus Feature: The 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech