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Crave Interactive (Tablets)

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

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ImpulsePoint by Impulsify

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

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Recent Guest Experience Articles

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Registration is Now Open for the 2020 HotelTechAwards

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Hotel Tech Report

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

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Here's why alternative lodging valuations are skyrocketing

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Hotel Tech Report

There’s a lot of talk in the hotel industry about massive growth from homeshare players like AirBnB but relatively little talk about the immense growth of franchise brands. For years now, major brands like Marriott have growth hacked their way to scale by going asset light.  By relieving themselves of physical assets and focusing on a franchise business model, Marriott projects 1,700 new hotel openings between now and 2021. This growth may seem surprising given all the buzz around travelers wanting unique and local experiences but there’s also been a ton of growth amongst incredible boutique hotel concepts.  Think about brands like Two Roads (Thompson, JDV), Bunkhouse, Nomad, Freehand, Standard Hotels, Public Hotels, Bunkhouse, 25H Bikini - the list goes on and on. All of the “independent brands” mentioned above (several have been acquired by chains) have found ways to create incredible (and unique) travel experiences for guests but there is one thing holding them back - scalability.  Even the best (and most capitalized) management teams have barriers to scale like identifying unique real estate, negotiating large scale transactions, securing financing and building out properties. AirBnB took a different approach to rapid scaling by leveraging the power of an unregulated marketplace model.  As a result of this strategy, just 9 years after its founding, AirBnB already had more rooms online than the top 5 brands combined. AirBnB passed the top 5 chains by # of listings (CB Insights) You’d be hard pressed to find a friend who hasn’t had a crappy experience on AirBnB but they’ve probably also had some great ones.  Where the franchises found a good balance between scalability and quality control, AirBnB and the homeshare economy sought rapid scale in unregulated markets. More recently a new category of hotel management company has popped up.  Some call these players hometels (home+hotel) and they’re more generally referred to as 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.  The alternative lodging sector brings similar scalability to homeshare companies with similar quality control to brands. Sonder, for example, was founded by college students in 2012 and just 5 years later hit $100M in revenue with it’s rapid venture capital fueled growth. The alternative lodging sector brings the consistency of a hotel without the overhead and therefore often charges cheaper rates relative to comparable properties.  While attending the Triptease Direct Booking Summit in Dallas last year I slept at Sonder competitor Stay Alfred and the experience was remarkable. Stay Alfred had leased a floor of apartments next to the Statler Hotel (Hilton Curio Collection) and converted the apartment units into hotel rooms.  These rooms were larger than the rooms at the Statler next door and one third the price. Upon arrival I headed to a Key Cafe kiosk in the lobby of the building to get my key - the process was completely seamless and I never interacted with a single person.  The room came outfitted with DirectTV and high speed WiFi as well as HDMI cables to plug in my devices. The alternative lodging experience is undeniably something that the hotel industry needs to keep careful tabs on as it scales quickly and will be highly disruptive to certain segments of the market - perhaps even more so than AirBnB.   Companies like Stay Alfred and Sonder have used distribution channels like Booking.com to kickstart their growth and have augmented digital advertising efforts by offering unbeatable (sometimes even unprofitable) prices to bring customers in the door via 3rd party distribution channels.  Once customers like me are in the door and have a great experience - we then tend to look for those properties for similar use cases in the future. As an example, I recently went straight to Stay Alfred’s website to book my hotel for an upcoming conference. It’s not all fun and games though in the alternative lodging sector as the excitement has pushed valuations into what many believe is bubble territory. Alternative lodging player Selina which is often referred to as a “co-living hospitality brand” (aka glorified luxe hostel with good WiFi and coffee) recently raised $100M at an $850M valuation for it’s portfolio of 22,000 hostel beds.   To put the Selina valuation in perspective, John Pritzker’s Geolo Capital sold Two Roads Hospitality to Hyatt for $430M last year. At the time Two Roads managed 17,000 hotel rooms with a significant development pipeline and iconic brands such as Thompson and Joie De Vivre.  Two Roads was producing approximately $40M of EBITDA at the time of the sale while Selina is likely to see losses for many years to come. The alternative accommodation market is undeniably frothy with prices driven up by venture capitalists who have AirBnB fomo and are paying technology multiples for real estate companies.  Today’s TechCrunch article fires a warning shot to investors: "...one focus will be to improve the booking process and algorithmic recommendations that people use both to figure out where to travel next, as well as what they want to do when they get there." ~TechCrunch comments on Selina’s use of $100M The question to ask is whether these are real estate companies fronting as tech companies or whether they’re the real deal.  Do we actually need algorithms to tell us where to travel next? If so, is that technology actually valuable? One of the major proponents of the alternative lodging sector has been Thayer Ventures, a travel tech focused venture capital firm with deep ties to the hotel industry. Thayer’s focus on travel and hospitality gives the firm a unique perspective so we sat down with Venture Partner Katherine Grass to discuss hotel tech, the rise of alternative lodging and more.  Katherine previously founded Amadeus Ventures and has met with literally thousands of startups in the space over the years - she’s seen it all and has unparalleled insight into the alternative accomodation trend.     How did you get into travel tech venture investing? I started my venture career at Amadeus IT Group where I founded Amadeus Ventures and went on to build out an entire ecosystem of programs working with external players and created their global Innovation & Venturing unit. Ventures had always been my first passion - aiding startups to be successful. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to join Thayer Ventures, Thayer being the leading travel-technology fund globally, I naturally jumped at the idea! Thayer Ventures is unique because we are not only one of the few travel-technology focused funds globally, but all partners come with a very deep expertise and network in this space. Therefore, we are not only able to make solid investment decisions based on our industry expertise, but we are able to truly help our portfolio companies, whether that be with industry contacts, strategic direction or business development. What hotel and hospitality tech companies have you invested in? Being travel-technology focused, we have many hospitality tech investments in our portfolio. Mews Systems, Optii Solutions, HYP3R, Sonder, BookingPal, Duetto, Groupize and Social Tables are examples of hospitality tech investments. Social Tables recently being sold to Cvent. While Dishcraft Robotics and xx are additional investments that apply to the hotel sector. How do you usually come across hotel tech investment opportunities? Because we are one of the leading funds in travel technology, we have a combination of companies reaching out to us, referrals from other generalist funds looking for a travel-tech expert as well as directly discovering startups at major events. Most of our investments tend to be Series A and we will absolutely lead rounds where it makes sense. What’s one piece of advice you have for hotel tech entrepreneurs when raising capital? Hard to pick one piece of advice! My advice would be to ensure you are addressing a real business problem in the industry. You would be surprised by how many startups develop ideas for concepts that aren’t seen as real pain point opportunities by the hotels. Additionally, ensure your opportunity has a big enough addressable market. This means there is enough profit to be made by your idea if you’re successful. Small opportunity means small profits, and you won’t get investors attention with this. How do you think the hotel technology space will change over the next 5 years? We will definitely see the hospitality tech stack open up and be more interactive. This means open APIs and the ability for various pieces to interact with each other and not necessarily all be from the same vendor. On alternative lodging, we still have massive growth in this sector and we will see this continue over the next 5 years. People often say that the hotel industry is slow to adopt technology. Do you agree? I don’t agree. We have seen hotels becoming increasingly open to quick experimentation and pilots, and as solutions become more cloud-based and API-led, it will only increase. Some legacy systems made this testing more difficult in the past due to the integration effort required for experimentation, but we are definitely seeing this change. What is the most interesting or surprising thing that you’ve learned from investing in hotel tech? An interesting trend we are seeing in the hospitality tech space has been the continued growth and strength of what we call alternative accommodations. For all of the startups that might want to pitch in your office, what can you tell them about your investment criteria, etc. to help them decide if they are a good fit for your portfolio? We are looking for stellar teams. Most all of our investments are Series A, meaning the startup already has some initial traction and customers with strong growth potential. Are investments are global but must be in the space of travel-technology. For us this means hospitality tech stack, alternative lodging, tours & activities, corporates & meetings, smart cities and mobility & transportation.

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Hotel brands are exploding but are they adding value?

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Hotel Tech Report

The Independent Lodging Congress has announced an exciting new pitch event geared at hospitality startups serving independents (find out whether your startup is eligible for INDIE Cultivate here).  The ILC has long been a champion of progress in the hotel industry and fundamentally believes that technology has leveled the playing field between independents and brands. Marriott recently announced that it will add 1,700 new hotels by 2021 meaning that branded properties will be taking an even bigger chunk out of the development pipeline moving forward.   “Don’t expect these properties to be anything like a St. Regis or JW Marriott, though, but more cookie-cutter properties.” ~The Points Guy Despite the aggressive growth in branded hospitality, Independent Lodging Congress is unsurprisingly bullish on independents. Many of the core brand value propositions have already been recreated by technology.  For example, a core value proposition that sways owners to go with a brand is getting access the brand’s distribution network.  The question is: as 5, 10 or 15 properties pop up near your hotel targeting the same customer under the same brand umbrella - is that distribution really more valuable than what you get on Expedia? I was recently researching hotels for a trip down to Miami next month and I decided to check out which Marriott properties I could stay at with the goal of racking up some loyalty points.  While researching I couldn’t help but notice a big CTA on the booking engine “Select from 30 unique brands”.   Dozens of Marriott franchisees compete with each other in a small Miami corridor While that variety gives nice value to me as a booker, I couldn’t help but think about the owners of those properties.  There were even a handful of category 6 and 7 properties within just a square mile of each other and each of those owners was competing for the same exact business. In other words, Marriott wins no matter which hotel gets booked but only one franchisee will end up winning my business.  I later realized that my Chase credit card gives me the same benefits as Marriott Bonvoy (6x points on travel) but also gives me the flexibility to stay wherever I’d like - further obfuscating the value of the brand beyond the quality and vibe of each individual property. This isn’t to say that brands don’t have value because they certainly do; however, the value of being in a branded franchise has definitely changed for hotel owners and developers of late and that change continues to accelerate.   From the consumer perspective we know that travellers want unique (non-cookie cutter) experiences as reflected in STR stats around independent ADR matching branded rates.  The explosion of “cookie-cutter” properties (i.e. Fairfield Inn types, not St. Regis and JW Marriott) resembles the explosion of cookie-cutter retail chains like Abercrombie & Fitch and Aeropostale which experienced rapid growth for many years before hitting a brick wall and needing to close thousands of locations in short order. Further, independent hoteliers are no longer on their own according to ILC Chairman Andrew Benioff: “All of the technology that has contributed to the leveling of the playing field vis a vis the big brands. There are so many technology solutions available today at reasonable pricing that almost any owner or investor in the space can reproduce the results of having a brand and also have the flexibility to make their property unique.” The Independent Lodging Congress fundamentally believes that big hospitality’s old boys club lead by middle aged white men has left the industry vulnerable to disruption and that progress is coming from the outside and with upstart independent boutique hotel developers such as Bunkhouse and Sydell Group.   "If you look at the largest hotel firms out there, both public and private, they are run primarily by middle aged caucasian men. Only in the last 5-10 years has this begun to change. I think that this is why we have been really slow to change. If you look at the rest of society here in the US, most of the population doesn't look or act like this group of leaders. We are slowly evolving to bring in new leaders which include more women, minorities and LGBT members. This will greatly assist with the appetite for change." ILC is a champion of diversity, both diversity of thought and culture.  ILC’s programming is unique in that many of the speakers are from outside the industry.  Between the diversity of programming and content, it’s safe to say that ILC isn’t your grandfather’s hotel investment conference and is definitely worth checking out. We sat down with ILC Chairman Andrew Benioff to talk about his vision for the future of hospitality and what the industry can achieve by thinking outside the box and bringing new ideas from the outside to disrupt from the inside. What was your background prior to starting ILC? I began my hospitality career as  formal apprentice in a traditional Japanese Ryokan in Atami Japan. I then continued with my career with a number of luxury hotel brands in the states including The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Nikko Hotels International among others. After attending conferences for years in both the hospitality and real estate finance industries I felt like there was a real dearth of interesting content. Most people attended simply to network and book meetings with others. I really felt like this was a shame and that these gatherings should of course be about connecting with others and transacting but also be  a place of discovery, learning and hopefully lead to "ah-hah!" moments as well. A travel tech startup founder is reading this article and you have 3-5 sentences to convince them that ILC is a great place to network with top independent hoteliers. I'd actually prefer to flip this around and try and convince people NOT to join us if they want: 1-the same old canned content, 2-are content in what they know and don't need/want to learn, 3-aren't ready to be challenged and 4-don't believe that people outside of our industry have anything to teach us. Why is ILC starting to become interested in tech startups? Why did you decide to create the startup pitch event? We are not only interested in technology, and don't believe that all successful travel/hospitality start-ups have to be tech focused. We do believe though that all industries need to evolve and hospitality is no different. These new companies are discovering areas of improvement for the industry and as provocateurs for the hospitality and travel industry, it's part of our mandate to highlight these efforts. ILC features a lot of non-hotelier programming, what are some of the biggest lessons that hoteliers should be taking from other industries today? What are those industries that are innovating ahead of hotels? One of the reasons that hospitality has been so slow to evolve is its focus on doing the same old thing year after year with a spotlight on the same old industry "leaders". In actuality these "leaders" are uninspiring and do the same old song and dance continuously without any evolution. Looking outside of our industry to the disruptors in society, art and culture allows us to see where there is room for improvement and where our guests are focusing their energy so that we can then serve them better. What are the biggest changes that are happening right now specifically within the independent hotel market? I think that one of the biggest changes is that more and more developers and investors are realizing that with the advent of many new technology platforms, the big brands have less leverage with the customer and more and more travelers are looking for original hospitality experiences. I see more high quality Indie Hotels arriving in the market in the coming years and those that finance and invest in them becoming more comfortable in including them in their portfolios.   Chip Conley (Joie de Vivre) and Liz Lampert (Bunkhouse) speak at ILC 2016 What is the most interesting or innovative technology that you've seen in hospitality over the last couple of years? All of the technology that has contributed to the leveling of the playing field vis a vis the big brands. There are so many technology solutions available today at reasonable pricing that almost any owner or investor in the space can  reproduce the results of having a brand and also have the flexibility to make their property unique. What's one commonly held belief that most independent hoteliers believe to be true about technology that actually is false? Please explain your reasoning. As I mentioned above I think that there is a long held belief that you can only be successful if you have one of the big brand flags on your property and all of the technology and booking engines that they provide. I think that today most, if not all, of those benefits can be reproduced for Indie properties without the massive fees that the brands charge. What's one piece of advice that you have for any entrepreneurs looking to get into the hotel tech space given your understanding of the independent lodging market and buyer behavior? I think people should ask themselves carefully if there truly is a market for whatever they want to build and if any of behemoth tech companies started to look at this space. I have seen many companies come up with wonderful ideas only to be blown out of the water by the giants. I've also seen many who think there idea is great but there isn't as much of a need for their product as they think. Perhaps spend a bit more time speaking with consumers before going to far so that you can verify demand. Hoteliers historically have the stigma of being somewhat tech averse and slow to adapt, do you see that mentality changing? If you look at the largest hotel firms out there, both public and private, they are run primarily by middle aged caucasian men. Only in the last 5-10 years has this begun to change. I think that this is why we have been really slow to change. If you look at the rest of society here in the US, most of the population doesn't look or act like this group of leaders. We are slowly evolving to bring in new leaders which include more women, minorities and LGBT members. This will greatly assist with the appetite for change. Is technology more or less important for independent hotels (vs. branded)? Equally as important I think. No matter what type of property you are running exploiting any advantage is paramount and technology tops that list.

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

by
Hotel Tech Report

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

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

by
Hotel Tech Report

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

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Guest Experience Category Press Releases

Registration is Now Open for the 2020 HotelTechAwards

By Hotel Tech Report

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

Top Hotel Tech Providers Revealed in the 2018 HotelTechAwards

By Hotel Tech Report

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

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