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6 must listen podcast interviews for hoteliers interested in tech

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Hotel Tech Report

1. FOSSE creator Dave Berkus uses lessons from history to predict the future of hotel technology Listen now >   2. Freehand Creator and Angel Investor Roy Alpert on Using Technology to Create Revolutionary Hotel Brands Listen now >   3. Former Sabre Strategy Chief: Hotel Tech in Emerging Markets, Cyber Security in the Hotel Industry and the Future of GDS Listen now >   4. Cendyn Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Tim Sullivan Talks Artificial Intelligence, Hotel Technology’s Place in Web 1.0 and Why Everyone is Wrong About the OTAs Listen now >   5. Triptease Founder Charlie Osmond Tells All: How his tech startup got into 12k hotels, raised $20M in venture funding and beat a $65B company Listen now >   6. Former Ruckus Wireless VP of Hospitality Ted Watson Discusses the Recent $800M Acquisition, Major Trends in WiFi Connectivity and the Critical Role HTNG Plays for Innovation Listen now >

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

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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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Cendyn CEO: This is what hotels can learn from the Grateful Dead

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Hotel Tech Report

Cendyn’s Charles Deyo isn’t your typical hotel tech founder by any stretch of the imagination.  Deyo is an avid scuba diver, he meditates under pyramids for spiritual guidance and even plans to play guitar at an underwater music festival next year.  By 1996, the same year that Expedia was born, Deyo had spent 20 years in the hotel industry before founding Cendyn with his wife Robin to help hoteliers win in the digital age. Cendyn’s first product to market was its eProposal solution which allowed hotels to accept group business RFPs via their websites and grow their group business. While eProposal is still a core component of the Cendyn Hotel Sales Suite, it is only a small piece of Cendyn’s current offering.  Today Cendyn’s sales and marketing solutions power more than 30,000 hotels globally through products that touch on hotel CRM, sales software and hotel digital marketing services.   Back in 1996, Cendyn’s initial product to market was its eProposal solution which allows hotels to accept group business RFPs via their websites to increase group bookings.  Today, eProposal is still a core component of the Cendyn Hotel Sales Suite.    The best tech companies listen carefully to client pain points and develop solutions based on those requirements.  The history of Cendyn is a textbook example of how to build a great business by listening to your customers. As the internet boomed through the early 2000s Deyo and his team noticed that there was a huge skills deficiency in digital marketing amongst hotels and began to offer digital marketing services to help clients grow their direct channel. During our interview with the Cendyn chief, Deyo told Hotel Tech Report that the biggest inspiration for building his empire was Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia.  When asked why, he noted that the Grateful Dead is not just an iconic band but is actually one of the greatest brands of all time. The Grateful Dead brand is so prolific that at its peak it raked in more than $90M per year.  Deyo believes that the Grateful Dead’s success could be attributed to one of Garcia’s core beliefs that is summed up in this iconic quote: “We did not want to just be the best at what we did, but the only ones doing it.” ~Jerry Garcia Deyo has always wanted to innovate ahead of the competition and be the “only one doing it” as an ode to Garcia.  When Deyo started Cendyn there were few (if any) online platforms facilitating group business RFPs in hotels and he wanted eProposal to be the only one doing it.  While others were busy copying his recipe for success, Deyo was pioneering the concept of hotel CRM to provide actionable marketing insights where hotel marketers previously lacked any tools to make data driven marketing decisions. Cendyn is yet again pushing ahead with plans to change the way hotels leverage CRM systems within their businesses.  Historically, the hotel CRM sits within the marketing function but Deyo and his team believe it will become much more operational in the future and Cendyn is focused on pioneering the ways hotels leverage CRM systems for operations and not just marketing. Related article: "Super Angel" Dave Berkus on the convergence of PMS, CRS and hotel CRM Deyo believes that hoteliers, too, can benefit massively from living by Jerry Garcia’s credo.  The hotel industry is one of the most competitive in the world and in order to stand out hoteliers must find unique ways to can add value for hotel guests, shareholders and staff.  In this exclusive interview we spoke with Cendyn CEO Charles Deyo about the competitive advantage enjoyed by hotel technology early adopters, the evolution of hotel CRM as an operational tool and more. Power couple Charles and Robin Deyo co-founded Cendyn together What was your background prior to starting Cendyn? Before starting Cendyn I had many years of hospitality experience including 13 years at Hyatt Hotels as Regional Controller and AVP of Sales and Marketing, 3 Years at Kerzner International as Senior Vice President during the development of Atlantis in the Bahamas and 3 Years as Regional Vice President at Boca Resorts (which also owned The Biltmore and Registry Hotels). Tell us about the Cendyn founding story. After spending 20 years in the hotel industry, I realized that hotels needed software solutions to run their business better. We developed solutions that eliminated the pain points for hotels and drove sales and marketing performance. When Robin and I started Cendyn in 1996, the Internet bloomed in front of us and we decided to use this new medium to develop web-based tools that could help the industry we had worked in for years run their businesses better. The first product we brought to market was eProposal, which is still the industry leader almost 20 years later as part of the Cendyn Hotel Sales Suite. Back then, I did it all, from being the programmer to the accountant and everything in between. We were a small, family-run tech firm. After expanding into hotel CRM and digital marketing, (we were one of the early trailblazers in these areas for the industry), the momentum kept going as we won some of the biggest brands and best hotels in the world as clients. That really amped up with the investment from Accel-KKR a few years ago that gave us opportunities to open new locations, acquire companies and accelerate product innovation. Today, we’re lucky to have over 30,000 hotel clients using our solutions. Who was Cendyn's first customer? Frank Calaguire at Starwood. Frank and I worked at Hyatt together and we deployed our first SAAS solution (Cendyn eProposal) at The Westin back in the 90’s. Frank was a good friend and the Managing Director at Westin Copley Place. eProposal is now in over 22,000 hotels worldwide. The hotel tech market is incredibly competitive, how does Cendyn stand out? Cendyn is a cloud-based software and services provider that develops integrated technology platforms for driving sales and marketing performance in the travel and hospitality industry. The Cendyn Hospitality Cloud offers the most complete set of innovative software and services in the industry, covering hotel marketing, guest engagement, group sales, and event management. Cendyn's eInsight CRM is more than a marketing tool and delivers operational insight Who is one mentor that has made a big impact on your entrepreneurial journey? This is probably not one you hear everyday in hotel tech interviews but The Grateful Dead has had a huge influence on my perspective both personally and within the realm of entrepreneurship.  Jerry Garcia said: “We did not want to just be the best at what we did, but the only ones doing it.” Most people don’t realize that the Grateful Dead was one of the most successfully marketed bands of their time and turned their brand into a cash cow which generated $95 million a year at one point. What's one commonly held belief that most hoteliers believe to be true that is actually wrong? Hoteliers believe delivering personalized experiences is hard. I have always looked at technology as an enabler for innovation. With the right enablers, hoteliers can take advantage of technology to make personalization easy, which is one of the cornerstones of our eInsight CRM product. I think either hotels don’t know where to start with their data, or they haven’t democratized access to the right people who can leverage it to drive home personalization. Hotels that standardize 2-way communication among systems and make data integrations a priority are the ones able to break through and outperform in personalization. Information is more relevant, robust and customized when all the systems are speaking to the touchpoints guests have in the journey. What's the most surprising thing you've learned about scaling technology into hotels since founding Cendyn? I was always surprised that standardized integration took so long for our industry. Today, we integrate to hundreds of hotel systems which is key to getting a true 360-degree view of your guest. There are hotels leading the way in how they use technology integrations and those at the other end of the spectrum, but what we do see day-in-day-out is in those hotels that have done so, they have an improved ability to; send the right message to the right guest, through the right channels; gain a clear understanding about the history and preferences of each guest in real time regardless of how they booked; empower their guests to receive information and communicate in the ways that work for them; and deliver the best kind of service, whether it be human interaction or through the use of technology. How do you see hotel tech changing in the next 5-years? We will see more intelligent use of data with AI and bots to further leverage the guest experience. Because of more integrations between technology systems and a higher flow of data between platforms, bots and AI will increase in learned automation and intelligence that can deliver more of the right messages, at the right time through the right channel. We’re in the process of breaking new ground with CRM technology as the core with bots and AI serving based off centralized intelligence. In five years, it will all evolve around the model of a central global profile for guests that references a sophisticated rolodex of data to help serve the customer’s desire for personalization at every touchpoint. Bots will make recommendations, personalize communications and adjust service algorithms in real-time based on data points. CRM will no longer be seen as a marketing function, but rather an operational tool that intelligently orchestrates how everyone interacts with a guest. For Cendyn specifically, we will continue to grow our organic revenue at 20% year over year, along with continued evaluation of M&A opportunities. Do you have any new products or feature launches? As we continue to operationalize CRM for hotels, our latest release of eNgage allows for more sophisticated algorithms that anticipate varying engagement opportunities with hotel guests that, in turn, alert hotel staff. We have a lot of hotels using this solution with great success for personalization, including our client TFE Hotels, headquartered in Australia. They’ve got eNgage across their international hotel group in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark and Hungary. What advice do you have for hoteliers in this economy? Adopt more technology. Even with all the strides the hotel industry has made, it is still behind other industries. Technology must have an ROI by driving sales and marketing performance. With eInsight, our CRM product, we drove an average 33X ROI for our hotel customers in 2018.  As the economy hits an inevitable slow down, technology will determine the winners and losers.   What's one piece of advice that you have for any entrepreneurs looking to get into the hotel tech space? Keep it simple. Make it valuable. This has been a mantra of Cendyn from the beginning of our company. What is the best book you've read lately? I think we are experiencing significant generational differences due to technology, social media and the varying thought processes. Given that, I thought “Sticking Points” by Haydn Shaw does a great job of explaining how we can make this work with our evolving business teams. Great people working in harmony make great companies. What is your favorite podcast Cendyn’s upcoming podcast series, of course. What is one thing that most people don't know about you? I play guitar and am certified in scuba diving. I plan to play the underwater music festival in Big Pine Key, FL next year. I also meditate under a pyramid on life and business opportunities when needed.

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Arise Travel is the hotel industry's secret weapon against the OTAs

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Hotel Tech Report

Arise Travel is an early stage startup that most hoteliers haven’t heard of today but the firm’s technology could be the answer to the seemingly never ending direct booking wars if things go according to plan.  The firm was founded in December of 2017 by two early (former) employees at cloud property management system provider Frontdesk Anywhere who got loads of experience dealing with intermediaries while building the business. Every industry has intermediaries and those intermediaries deserve to get paid for driving business to their partners.  Before we jump into how Arise can help build healthier (and more equitable) relationships between OTAs and their hotel partners let’s take a quick 10,000 foot view of where the relationship sits today.   Why haven't the OTAs been broken up yet? The problem with the OTA-hotel dynamic is mostly a result of consolidation that has surprisingly not been addressed effectively by most antitrust authorities.  The reason that antitrust authorities haven’t addressed this issue is likely because the duopoly actually benefits consumers (by delivering lower prices for accommodations) and many of the world’s most powerful antitrust authorities have mandates to protect consumers rather than businesses.   Here’s a quote directly from the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division website about the group’s mandate: “Competition in a free market benefits American consumers through lower prices, better quality and greater choice. Competition provides businesses the opportunity to compete on price and quality, in an open market and on a level playing field, unhampered by anti competitive restraints.” As such, it is unclear that the Booking/Expedia duoply (which is estimated to control ~80% of the market today) will ever be broken up given the focus on consumer protection.   Arise shifts the focus from direct bookings to lower commissions Historically, most of the companies that help hotels gain leverage against OTAs today have been focused on driving new direct bookings. The general idea is that by helping hotels increase their mix of direct bookings - these hotels will pay lower absolute commissions in the short term and also in theory should be able to negotiate lower commissions over the long haul.  The earliest companies to play in this space were Triptease, Stay Wanderful and Hotelchamp.  These direct booking platforms help hotels optimize their website performance to increase conversion and effectively maximize their funnel rather than bring new prospective guests into it.  More recently, The Hotels Network and 123Compare.me have jumped into the fray. Similarly, digital marketing agencies began positioning around direct bookings with firms such as Screen Pilot, Travel Tripper and TravelClick leading the pack.  Ultimately the goal of any great hotel digital marketing agency should be to drive bookings at a lower cost relative to OTA commissions.  In addition to the benefits of website optimization based direct booking platforms, digital marketing agencies help bring new prospective guests into that funnel through digital marketing on paid channels such as Google, Facebook, Email Marketing and Instagram. So tech companies have gone a long way to help hotels gain leverage with the OTAs by driving direct bookings via digital marketing, website optimization, etc.  While this is a great approach, Arise Travel has a surprising way to end the direct booking wars - and the team wants to do this without a single shot fired.   With an OTA duopoly, is there a big enough market for Arise? While Expedia and Booking have approximately 80% of the OTA market, there are many other stakeholders in the accommodation supply chain.  The total retail value of accommodations globally hovers around $570B and $200B of that gets passed to the hotel industry (Statista).  Booking and Expedia revenue for all business units combined (incl. airline, activities, etc.) are ~$25B which shows that even though they have huge OTA market share, they actually have modest shares of the overall intermediary markets. So who else is in this intermediary market? Some examples include: traditional travel agencies, corporate travel businesses, smaller OTAs and OTA affiliate partners.  Arise wants to help hotels fight the OTAs by mixing in more cost effective 3rd party bookings. When a hotel today forecasts a period with high demand, they’ll often use their channel manager to shut down distribution in what are called “closeout dates.”  Closeout dates include peak times like big conferences coming to town, city wide events, etc.  That sounds reasonable, right? Wrong. When hotels activate these closeout dates they are intentionally leaving bookings on the table today to save themselves for lower commission bookings tomorrow.  Then, as occupancy begins to rise, hotels are able to increase rate which is why they’re ok to leave those bookings on the table. In super simple terms, let’s say a hotel will pay 20% to the OTA and 0% incremental for direct bookings (because many direct costs are fixed).  The reason they shut down OTA inventory is because they believe that the rate increase they can command tomorrow will not justify the distribution cost today.   Arise Travel founder Nadim El Manawy believes that billions are being left on the table and thinks that commissions should be dynamic just like room rates.  Everyone knows that revenue management software is essential to running a profitable hotel business.  If you charge too much - you lose bookings. If you charge too little - you leave profit on the table.  Revenue management systems help hoteliers make sure that they can walk that fine line to maximize profitability and Arise Travel can have the same effect on 3rd party commissions.   Here’s how Arise Travel’s technology works to supercharge your existing channel manager Arise automatically downloads closeout dates from your channel manager where your hotel is leaving bookings on the table.  Your revenue manager can then go into the Arise Travel dashboard and input commission rates that they’d be willing to sell hotel rooms for during those periods.  Rates and desired commissions then get pushed to Arise Travel’s network of intermediaries so hotels can sell rooms to prospective guests on 3rd party channels without commission negotiations or even the need for a traditional contract. Let’s say, for example, that The World Cup is coming to your city next summer so you don’t want to allow Expedia bookings at 20% commission knowing that you’ll fill your hotel regardless.  You can’t renegotiate with Expedia but you can now login to your Arise Travel dashboard and notify intermediaries like small OTAs and corporate travel agencies that you’d be willing to sell rooms for a 7% commission during those times.  You can even set variable commissions on a per room type basis, by rate code, day of the week and even by channel. Eventually the technology will make this all automated through integrations with top rated revenue management systems. Those intermediaries can then accept those terms and list your rooms for booking on their channels with automated rules.  The big value prop for these intermediaries is that they can now sell accommodations that aren’t available on Booking and Expedia - this helps them differentiate and ultimately grow their businesses.  You can now get rooms booked for a reasonable commission while driving up rates during this peak period. Consumers win by accessing your inventory in more places, distributors win by getting access to unique inventory and you win by maintaining reasonable commissions and selling your inventory more quickly.  Arise’s technology handles all commission reconciliation and payouts automatically to save your team time. The entire payment and service history can be viewed at any time providing ultimate transparency into your channel management strategy. If Arise Travel can get big enough, it will eventually pressure Expedia and Booking to accept variable commissions that are market based.  While Expedia and Booking may see short term headwinds from a concept like Arise Travel hitting scale, this is ultimately bringing much needed fair market dynamics and transparency to the industry which will lead to healthier hotel-OTA relationships and more innovation.  Nadim has a massive vision for the industry and he needs the help of our global hotelier community to jump on board with what we at Hotel Tech Report believe is a “no brainer.” We recently sat down with Nadim to chat about his background, the future of hotel distribution, what’s next for Arise Travel and more. Hotel Tech Report's exclusive interview with Nadim below   What was your background prior to starting the company? Before co-founding Arise, I led sales and partnerships for 4+ years at a cloud-based property management system company in San Francisco called Frontdesk Anywhere. Prior to moving to the Bay Area in 2011, I worked in Shanghai and grew up in Belgium. What made you decide to jump in and disrupt the travel distribution space? I met Alex Lamb, my co-founder in this business, at Frontdesk Anywhere where we were the second and third employees. Alex lead the engineering team there for 4+ years. Being in the PMS business, we became very familiar with how things work on the operational side at hotels, but we also had to work with many players in the distribution chain such as channel managers, GDS and wholesalers. We got to see how things are patched together behind the scenes today. Many of the hotels we worked with were very vocal about how a few online travel agencies were controlling their distribution and how much they were paying in commissions and fees. We also saw how the fragmentation of the PMS space and old technology used by existing intermediate networks was making it difficult for travel companies to gain access to hotel data and efficiently transact with hotels. We starting thinking about how we could use emerging technology to fix many of these problems, allowing new travel companies to grow faster and help move the industry forward. Who was your first customer? One large player in the corporate travel space (we can’t name the company yet) is taking a chance working with us in order to solve some of the problems and inefficiencies they face today. Our experience with hotel distribution technology gained over the years when building and maintaining a cloud PMS combined with our knowledge of distributed ledger technology and how it can be applied to travel distribution is what made them want to work with us. What is there so much excitement about Arise Travel as a disruptor? We build technology that helps hotels gain more control over the inventory they share with their partners. Our distributed ledger technology lets hotels enforce rate parity at the point-of-sale and dynamically adjust their commission rates based on demand, significantly increasing hotel profitability. Who is one mentor that has really helped you scale the business?  I need to mention two people who have been very helpful since the beginning. Jing Zhou, who was at Hyatt for many years leading e-distribution for Asia Pacific, has been sharing her knowledge on hotel operations and distribution strategies. She has helped us stay focused when building our technology to make sure it fits with hotels needs. Varsha Rao, who was head of Global Operations at AirBnB for many years, has tons of experience in building and scaling businesses. Her constant ideas and advice on ways to start and grow the business have been extremely helpful. What's one big misconception that hoteliers have about distribution? Many hoteliers believe that they are powerless to change the distribution technology they’re dependant upon. Most hoteliers are quick to complain but because they don’t view distribution technology as a core competency, the idea of investing resources into something they’ve never taken ownership of before seems daunting. This mindset may have been reasonable in the past, but not anymore. Distributed ledger technology will show hotels that updating their distribution technology is possible with very little IT investment and without affecting their operations and current distribution channels. What's the most surprising thing you've learned about hospitality distribution since founding the business? That most innovative technology being worked on focuses on the travel search and booking process, but technology that can improve the traveler experience after booking is held back because many of these services have to rely on outdated distribution technology to function. If you could partner with any vendor in hotel tech, who would it be and why? AirBnB. Our technology creates a shared source of truth for hotels and OTAs, making it possible to automate commission reconciliation processes.  With this automation in place, it becomes feasible for hotels to start setting variable commission rates for the inventory they send to OTAs. Instead of closing entire channels during high demand periods, hotels can lower their commission rate to maximize their profitability. We can help AirBnB grow its hotel business by accepting variable commission rates from hotels, giving them access to desirable inventory that is currently unavailable to other OTAs using a fixed commission model. Where do you see Arise in 5-years? Most of the intermediaries that survive of rate arbitrage and don’t bring real value to hotel distribution will disappear. We believe the efficiency and trust that distributed ledger technology can bring to the industry will drive down the commissions paid by hotels for bookings. I’d hope most hotels, including independent, will be benefiting from the control and efficiency our technology will bring to their online distribution. I’d expect many players involved on the supply and on the demand side to be using our technology. Do you have any new products or feature launches? Variable commissions hotels fully control and payouts are automatically handled. Starting with high demand periods, hotels can decide how much they are willing to pay in commissions for any given date, room type and rate. Today hotels pay fixed high commissions to OTAs and at times of high demand often take the risk to close those expensive channels as they are confident enough they’ll drive enough direct bookings to fill their hotel. Hotels no longer have to do that as they can now set variable commissions that they are willing to give OTAs on those high demand dates. We provide the transparency and control to hoteliers and we automate the commission payouts so it doesn’t add any more work for hoteliers. We work with hotel channel managers and switches. To get going hotels can contact us or also check with their service provider to see if they are already connected to Arise. Is there anything that the community can do to be helpful for you? We’d love for people involved in hotel distribution on either the supply or demand side to talk to us. The more people that understand and get comfortable with the idea that upgrading distribution infrastructure isn’t such a daunting task, the faster everyone will be able to benefit from it. Advances in Distributed Ledger Technology actually make distribution less complex than the processes in place today. What's one piece of advice that you have for any entrepreneurs looking to get into the hotel tech space? Make sure there’s a clear need for your solution in the space and if so, have a very good understanding of all the current players, how they work together and all the moving pieces that shape today’s hotel tech space.  

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Marketing 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

5 Important Social Media Marketing Tips for hotel owners

Hotelogix

The marketing of hotels through social media has been gaining ground in recent years. Any hotel’s social media strategy has to go beyond posting room rates and discounts. It’s about what users wish to see and know rather than what you, as a hotelier, want to update online. A hotel’s social media marketing ideas can range from the basics to the most innovative as hoteliers need more than just visibility online. Reviews, shares from users, comments and more are useful to define your brand and its offerings. When planned well, a hotel’s social media campaign can give a massive boost to the revenue and brand presence.Let’s understand the basics of various social media channels before planning the hotel’s social marketing campaign.Favorable Platforms for Social Media Marketing in Hospitality Industry: Wondering how to promote a hotel online using social media? Firstly, understand these platforms to work on a hotel’s social marketing strategies and improve visibility.Facebook A strong Facebook marketing strategy will propel your hotel brand to a new level altogether. One can ‘create a page’ on Facebook and boost posts, run paid advertisements, polls, add videos, images and more. You can also use Facebook to leverage the community effect, build trust, get referred via a guest’s network and do much more. Be creative with your hotel’s Facebook post ideas.Pinterest Known as a visual board, Pinterest can be a great tool for hoteliers. It’s easy to update photographs of your hotel’s property here. Attractive visuals are a must for your pins to be ‘re-pinned’ by users and to gain a fan following. Pinterest provides a great platform for marketing hotels through social media.Twitter While the tweets on this social media platform have a short shelf life, this is another great platform to connect with guests, handle queries, attend complaints, etc. Hoteliers can use Twitter to announce a message, converse, connect, build brand presence, and follow relevant travelers.Google+ Google+ acts as an apt social media platform as users search for hotel brands on search engines as well as Google maps. A Google+ page with comments from travelers will also appear in search results defined on Google Maps.LinkedIn LinkedIn is also an important platform for a hotel’s social media campaign. Hotel staff with LinkedIn profiles can share updates (achievements, new announcements) on this platform. Use this platform to establish your hotel’s thought leadership in this industry within the appropriate groups.Instagram Yet again, high-quality photos are a must for Instagram accounts. This is visual paradise – images must be share-worthy with appropriate hashtags.[caption id="attachment_10981" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Top 5 social media marketing tips for hotels[/caption]Use these above 5 social media tips to increase your hotel’s online reach and visibility We hope these 5 tips help you build best hotel social media campaigns to boost your presence amongst online customers. Remember these thumb rules – use the art of storytelling for Facebook and Google+, listen to the social media noise on Twitter, glam up your Pinterest boards, devise artistic creatives for Instagram, and put forth your industry updates on LinkedIn.Boost your online reputation with Hotelogix now!

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

Marketing Category Overview

Hotel marketing is a complex and nuanced practice that requires planning, patience, and the ability to analyze and adapt to results. In practice, a hotel marketer blends a creative mindset with a strategic approach that uses strong creative in support of marketing campaigns that increase occupancy and revenues.  A hotel marketer’s role has three overlapping components: creativity, strategy, and relationship management. Across these components, a hotel marketer must be a team-oriented problem solver, as well as an outcome-based thinker that consistently plans and executes to achieve desired outcomes. 

Historically hotel marketers have been focused on PR and community engagement; however, in today's digital distribution landscape it is critical for hotel marketers to be tech savvy and know how to use the proper tools.  Just as a major tech company wouldn't hire a sales rep who can't use Salesforce or Marketo - your hotel should avoid candidates who don't know how to operate the tech tools needed to properly market your hotel. 

Here are some of the critical software and service categories that every hotel marketer must be familiar with to succeed.

Every hotel (branded or independent) needs a digital marketing agency partner.  The OTAs are taking guests away from you and charging 15%+ commission on each booking. What digital marketing agencies do is make sure that your property is interacting with your guests throughout the entire booking journey and that these prospective guests are ultimately booking directly through your website. The channels and strategies involved in any agency's approach and are highly customized to each property. Using a blended approach to media distribution and channel distribution in addition to behavioral and personalization techniques both on and off website, a digital marketing agency should drive incremental direct bookings for your hotel.

Key Digital Marketing Agency Services:
  • SEO
  • SEM
  • Website development
  • Email marketing
  • Metasearch management
  • Social media management
  • PR
  • Paid advertising

Top Hotel Digital Marketing Agencies:


An internet booking engine is essentially the shopping cart equivalent for a hotel website and it’s sole purpose is to drive and convert direct bookings. A good booking engine is optimized for conversion by providing a seamless booking process where your guests can view rates and room types and complete a booking as simply as possible. An effective booking engine should map data directly into your property management system through a channel manager.

Key Booking Engine Features:
  • Channel Manager Integration: To ensure that your room inventory across all of your online channels is automatically updated, it’s vital that your booking engine integrates with your channel manager. 
  • Mobile & Social Media Compatibility: It is absolutely essential that your booking engine works seamlessly on mobile and is compatible with the social media websites that your hotel is listed on. 
  • Data Collection: Your booking engine should provide you with transparent, in-depth insights that will allow you to find demand and booking patterns. 
  • Flexible to Your Hotels Needs: Does the booking engine display the languages and currency that your guests are familiar with? Does it provide online voucher redemption or does it offer wedding and corporate booking modules? These are some questions to determine if the booking engine is flexible to your hotel’s needs. 
  • Set up, Service & Support: Perhaps the most important point of all is service i.e. how you are looked after by your provider. What is their set up, ongoing support and training like? Do they make you feel special? Is your business important to them?

Key Players:

Direct Booking Platforms boost the performance of your current website and booking engine with tools that add a layer of personalization to your website. The most effective platforms track user behavior on hotel websites and then serve tailored messages and promotions based on that behavior - for example, an early-bird offer to a guest searching six months in advance of their stay. Platform providers with significant data scale are able to automate much of the optimization experience by constantly feeding their learnings from thousands of websites back into the platform for the benefit of every client. Providing the right message at the right time improves the guest experience and has a significant impact on direct bookings (reducing OTA commission costs for the hotel). A Direct Booking Platform enables a hotelier to test and optimize their website content in order to increase conversion. With every booking, hoteliers can learn to target and convert more guests.

Key Features:
  • Pricing and Parity Data Accuracy & Insights: Industry-leading pricing and parity data accuracy accompanied by accessible information on undercut breakdown, undercut rate vs conversion rate, parity
  • Price Comparison Widget: Customizable price comparison widget, regularly UX tested on real guests to optimize design
  • Message Targeting: Targeted messaging with advanced segmentation and triggering capabilities
  • Automated Live Chat: An AI chatbot designed to answer specific questions about your hotel so your staff can focus their energy elsewhere.
  • Drag-n-Drop Customization: A self-service online message builder allowing hoteliers to create personalized, customized messages easily (either from templates or from scratch) and to view results and edit instantly.
  • Hospitality grade: Live chat features designed specifically for hoteliers including PCI compliant, secure card detail collection and image/pdf uploads.
  • Analytics & Reporting: A quick view dashboard displaying graphs and metrics for conversion data, direct booking trends over time and additional performance data and insights.
  • Data Driven Experimentation: A dedicated data science team focussed on running accurate product tests and drawing industry and hotel specific insights from extensive data.

Key Players:

Upselling software gives your hotel the ability to get more spend from the same guest, by providing valuable services, offered at the right time and at the right price to the right guest. When done properly, upselling results in more incremental revenue and a better guest experience.

Key Features:
  • PMS Integration: Automated connection with database (PMS/Channel Manager/OTA). A 2-way integration with your property management system can dramatically increase efficiency but upsell software can be operated without it.
    • Exclusion Lists: Possibility to exclude guests from receiving the offering. 
    • Easy to use and cross-device: Easy to use platform for guests to redeem offers on any device. 
    • Real time reporting: Gain insights through analytics and reporting to improve over time. 
    • Customizable CMS: Helps ensure that staff is able to update, customize and test offers in real time. 
    • Multi-language: support Your guests come from all over, make sure you are able to reach all of them.
    • Email Automation: Automatic offer, redemption and confirmation emails.
    • GDPR Compliance: Make sure your provider meets EU data protection privacy standards.
    • Exclusion Lists: Possibility to exclude guests from receiving the offering.

Key Players:

Reputation and review management solutions aggregate all forms of guest feedback from across the web to help hoteliers read, respond, and analyze the feedback in an efficient manner. 95% of guests read reviews prior to making a booking decision, and after price, reviews are the most important decision variable when booking a hotel. With reputation and review management solutions, hotels can positively impact the reviews and ratings that travelers are seeing when making a booking decision.

Key Features:
  • Review Aggregation: For many hotels, the most important review channels include their own guest satisfaction survey, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and Google. If these review sites are not included as part of the solution, the hotel will have to duplicate their review management efforts. 
  • Enterprise Visibility: For hoteliers who oversee multiple hotels, or sit at a corporate level, the option to view and report on behalf of all managed properties is a definite requirement for usability and effectiveness. 
  • Semantic analysis: Simply reading through or scanning reviews will not provide a hotelier any insight into how to improve, but with aggregated review summaries provided by semantic text analysis, hoteliers can start to see what's most positively and negatively impacting their rating. 
  • KPI Reporting: Hoteliers often need to provide reports on their KPIs, i.e. response rate, in order to meet the required status quo. To make them easier to track, they can be downloaded directly from the hotelier’s account or automatically scheduled via email.
  • Competitor Benchmarking: When hoteliers are searching for a hotel, they are comparing the scores of a hotel's competitive set. Understanding and tracking how your hotel is performing in comparison to the competition is a key component to driving bookings.

Key Players:

Effective metasearch management software and digital marketing campaigns help hoteliers drive revenue, attract new customers, and achieve greater business goals. The tools and services provided by a metasearch management software enable travel brands to maximize their digital reach. This in turn, allows them to grow their business and increase their profitability.

Key Features:
  • Robust Reporting: Metasearch campaigns can have hundreds of thousands of data points and complex bidding layers. You’ll want the ability to access reporting that is robust, customizable, and in alignment with your internal numbers and business goals. 
  • Bid Management: Automated bidding features allow you to apply the best bidding model to fit your company’s goals, constraints, and data. This gives you the freedom to choose exactly how to bid for your campaigns and implement custom algorithms to maximize results. 
  • Custom Labels: Labeling or tagging features allow campaign managers to set both automated and one-off grouping of properties based on any custom value. If you’re managing metasearch for hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of properties, labels are a necessary feature for organizing your campaigns and identifying trends. 
  • Property Content Management: Reporting that is informed by rich property-level data, enables you to add geographic context to broad reports and bring in extremely granular hotel attributes for a more detailed analysis.
  • Intelligent Targeting: Audience targeting involves setting bids for specific groups of customers. The ability to segment your metasearch campaigns by audience is an important feature for reaching your target customers with your ads.

Key Players:

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