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What you need to know about Pace's intelligent revenue management system

by
Hotel Tech Report

Revenue management has been part of the hospitality business for many decades. Its origins can be traced back to a meeting between American Airlines and Marriott back in the 1970s. Marriott wanted to learn more about American’s success in what it called yield management or the process of optimizing revenue by matching price to demand. Marriott went on to develop software tools of its own, such as the Demand Forecast System, and began calling this revenue management.  Those tools have evolved immensely in the intervening years, riding the wave of Big Data and predictive analytics to bring revenue management discipline to all categories of hospitality. Many hotels leverage real-time data analysis to crunch a variety of inputs and optimize pricing many times per day. One of the newer entrants to the field of revenue management software is Pace, which enables hotels to change prices accurately 1000s times a week and those changes help clients achieve higher rates, more occupancy, and significant revenue growth. Here’s what you need to know.    What Pace does: Intelligent revenue management Traditionally, pricing strategies have been guided by how our hotel wants to position itself within a specific Comp Set. This means that the hotel follows other peoples’ decisions, rather than setting their own strategy. Hotels that base their pricing on what the comp set charges are “price followers,” rather than “price leaders.” Hotels that want to be price leaders need to rely more on a revenue management strategy that doesn’t exclusively rely on competitor pricing. This is accomplished through: Revenue science: Revenue science is ”the discipline of infusing sophisticated mathematics to transform data into accurate, automated, and actionable revenue-enhancing decisions” (more here). To do this, Pace relies on your hotel’s bookings reveal a lot about how you should price your hotel. It pulls this data via a direct integration with a hotel’s PMS to analyze performance, reservations, and booking pace. Strategy is the key word -- it’s not just about rate management but rather a holistic rate strategy. It identifies high-quality booking data patterns to drive decision making. Continuous pricing: Accurate, quick responses to changing market dynamics is the path to success with revenue management. Price with confidence with Pace’s “Continuous Pricing,” which simulates different variables, such as market demand, price sensitivity, room type, and date, to find the price with the highest RevPAR. Since the average hotel receives bookings every few minutes, it’s not realistic for humans to keep up with all of this new information. The system processes each new data input to update pricing recommendations hourly.     Adaptive forecasting: Forecasting is a tricky thing. Whenever you change a rate, it affects everything else; each price change impacts forecasts of your occupancy and total bookings. These are complex interdependencies that are nearly impossible for a human to calculate. Pace’s forecasting adapts so that forecast evolve when one variable is changed, so RMs can make decisions on the most up-to-date and accurate information.    Who Pace is for: Independent hotels and hostels Pace is a mature platform that is both enterprise and brand ready but has found a sweet spot in the hostel segment as it is one of very few RMS players that can actually price beds (vs. rooms). Pace works with both hotels and hostels worldwide, with a sweet spot for Europe (the company is based in London). The company works mostly with unbranded independents, both those with a dedicated revenue function and those without. For existing teams, Pace saves time and increases accuracy. For hotels where GMs run revenue management, Pace can boost effectiveness and provide additional resources without hiring a full-time seat.  Pace’s client includes groups like Generator Hostels that blend across categories. Since Pace relies on a hotel’s own data first, it's ideally positioned to support blended lodging categories that don’t easily fit into the competitive set benchmarking of traditional revenue management.  With available integrations through popular marketplaces like Mews, SiteMinder Exchange, and Protel, the Pace software can be integrated and customized. This flexibility makes Pace a versatile tool for all kinds of hotels, who can slot it into existing tech stacks with less cost.     5 reasons why hoteliers love Pace   1. Intuitive calendar that simplifies optimal rates. Pace evaluates recent bookings and runs simulations to compare all possible pricing strategies. The engine then identifies the optimal price for each unique room night, so revenue managers can make hundreds of accurate pricing decisions in only seconds. The Calendar makes this process simple and straightforward, without any further manual work from staff.   2. Advanced segmentation. Pace Makes it easy to keep tabs on your hotel segments. Segmentation becomes especially pertinent when demand differs across segments. Thanks to this advanced segmentation, Pace can isolate segments and evaluate the impact of each segment on your rates. This also includes detailed segment analysis, so you can quickly see how your various segments are performing -- and take action as needed.   3. Events module. Many rate shopping tools have an events module that highlights local events that may affect demand. Pace includes a similar module so that all revenue decisions can be made with an eye towards local events and related market demand. It’s worth noting that Pace does consider secondary data, such as local demand patterns, in its pricing recommendations. Having an integrated event calendar ensures that revenue managers have the information they need when accepting pricing decisions or manually adjusting rates.    4. Dedicated team that’s responsive to feedback. If there's one theme found throughout Pace’s user reviews on Hotel Tech Report, it's that the company is responsive. The team is quick to acknowledge and act on customer feedback, while also improving functionality.  One HTR reviewer was thrilled to work “with a company who listens, adapts and evolves to your business needs is paramount.” Another noted “Great support, very easy to work with & fast acting on feedback,” as well as “thorough on-boarding & training.” These are all positive signs when trusting a vendor to deliver on its revenue optimization promises.   Read more Pace reviews 5. Pace gets results.  Pace argues that basing pricing decisions “on primary data is a superior strategy” because it helps hotels “react faster to future trends by selling at the right prices at the right time.” Reference customers, such as Floris van Es, the GM at Star Lodge Hotels, seem to agree: “After using Pace for 6 weeks and RevPAR was up 25% year on year. Since then we've continued to see very clearly that Pace is helping us outperform last year and the market.”   Pace pricing Hotels looking to implement Pace for revenue management can try it out for a month without cost. After that, there’s a monthly subscription based on the number of rooms in a hotel or beds in a hostel, with a minimum monthly commitment of €300. Simple and transparent, no strings attached just like software should be. Get a custom price quote for your hotel   Conclusions: Should you consider Pace? If you’re one of the 90% of hotels that still manage pricing manually, Pace is definitely worth consideration. It’s simple to use, quick to on-board, and doesn’t require a deep knowledge of data, analytics, or statistics to take advantage of.  Pace also has a refreshing approach to revenue management, focusing not just on optimizing price but also on the optimal strategy. In Pace’s own words: Every feature that we build at Pace is designed to inspire the right action for you. Our philosophy is one of building tools that enable you to take the correct actions at the right time in a joyful way. In this way, we believe, the best possible results for your business will emerge.    One of the most important characteristics of a valuable vendor is also one of the hardest measures: a partnership mentality. Vendors that see themselves as critical allies and partners will provide a stronger backbone that supports a beneficial relationship. Judging from user reviews and Pace’s own words, there seems to be just such a mentality in play here -- a good sign, indeed!

HITEC 2019 Recap: Everything You Missed in Under 5-Minutes

by
Hotel Tech Report

The Hotel Tech Twins just returned home from HFTP’s annual US HITEC show which just so happened to find itself in...wait for it...the twin cities.  This year’s location in Minneapolis is the hometown of hotel tech darling IDeaS which happened to be celebrating its 30th year in business - serendipity was in the air. The week kicked off with our favorite part of every major conference, Klaus Kohlmayr’s exclusive tech startup happy hour where we got to bump elbows with CEOs like ALICE’s Alex Shashou, Meeting Package’s Joonas Ahoola and Triptease’s Charlie Osmond who just returned from running a marathon in North Korea (nope that’s not a typo...NORTH Korea!). During the conference we met with more than 50 tech companies to learn about the latest tech developments and tips to grow your hotel business.  In this article we distill major trends that we saw in the market and highlight key innovations that should be on every hotelier’s radar within each trend.  Consolidation certainly seems to be driving the market with Travel Tripper + Pegasus making its first combined HITEC debut, Jonas Hospitality launching its Jonas Chorum brand and HeBS/Serenata rebranding the organization Next Guest. Whether you were at HITEC and were too overwhelmed to cut through the noise or couldn’t make it at all...fear not, we've got you covered.  Below you’ll learn about the 6 biggest hotel tech trends we saw at the show, discuss what they mean for your hotel business and highlight the companies that are pushing the envelope within each.   TLDR; HITEC trends at a glance TREND 1 | Companies are doubling down on automated workflows to save time and reduce human error (12 products covered) TREND 2 | A cambrian explosion of tools to help hoteliers manage and make sense of their data (6 products covered) TREND 3 | A new focus on enabling guests and driving revenue with self service (8 products covered) TREND 4 | Big tech is leaning into hotels for new use cases & distribution (4 products covered) TREND 5 | Housekeeping software is heating up (4 products covered) TREND 6 | Fraud and security are still poignant post-Marriott breach (8 products covered) Bonus Coverage: More Notable Product Rollouts and Launches From the Show (10 products covered)   Before we jump into the trends...3 shout-outs for creativity at the show Most creative HITEC marketing initiatives: a tie between IDeaS and Infor IDeaS went big for their 30th anniversary and brewed their own line of local craft beers for the show.  We heard they still have a few extra cases left so when you are negotiating that contract for your hotel group’s next RMS - make sure to ask them for a hoppy throw in. Infor launched its new grab-and-go POS solution where guests can purchase food on a touch screen kiosk.  The Company went all in on the demo and had a full service food and beverage operation running in real time.  It turns out hoteliers love free food and the demo was super slick so the Infor booth was slammed every time we passed by. ALICE delighted conference goers by shelling out envelopes of cash to announce its latest release.  While envelopes of cash alone would have been enough to secure a shout out for creativity, the meaning behind the stunt sealed the deal with class, creativity and customer centricity.  Having just launched the all new ALICE Housekeeping, the envelopes were actually tip envelopes for conference goers to bring back to their hotel rooms and leave for their room attendent paying homage to housekeepers and the back breaking work they do day-in and day-out.   Congrats to SABA Hospitality, the winner of E20X People's Choice Award.  SABA Hospitality manages every aspect of the guest journey. From answering questions, to managing requests, making recommendations, fulfilling F&B orders and everything in between. Their artificial intelligence driven chatbot transforms a hotels guest experience, while lowering staff workload and driving revenue.     TREND 1 | Companies are doubling down on automated workflows to save time and reduce human error Due to years of overzealous media hype, when hoteliers hear the word ‘automation’ they mostly think about robots but the kind of automation that’s actually changing the hotel industry is a very different kind of automation. Most techies are familiar with companies like Zapier and IFTTT (If This Then That).  Essentially these companies are platforms that help businesses setup and execute rules for repetitive processes.  For example, you could set a “Zap” that triggers a Google Calendar meeting scheduled every time someone fills out a form on your website.  These kinds of automations are the backbone of building a great business because they free up your team to focus on high value tasks.  Hotels are notorious for having these kinds of repetitive tasks.  For example, every time a room attendent finishes cleaning a room they need to radio the housekeeping manager who then needs to mark the room ready for inspection.  Take another example where your night audit team needs to do a manual bucket check to cross reference each in-house folio against your in-house list in your PMS.  All of these tasks can be automated away which frees up those team members to focus on higher value tasks which can really move the needle for your business. At HITEC this year we saw a ton of companies from guest messaging platforms to revenue management systems showcasing ways for hoteliers to automate away those redundant and tedious tasks.  These tools help you save time, eliminate frustration and mitigate the risk of error across your property operations.   Below are the key HITEC launches and showcases that help hoteliers like you with task automation. Whistle launched AI conversation and dispatch automation for its guest messaging product Some hoteliers fear that adding guest messaging at their property will increase the amount of work for their teams by adding a new channel for requests. The good news is that Whistle has been honing their conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learning (ML) model which now claims to predict responses to 80%+ of guest questions and requests. With this knowledge, Whistle can suggest or automatically prompt the appropriate response back to the guest, and even auto-prompt service requests and work orders to internal departments via Whistle’s lightweight task management module or other integrated Service Optimization solutions like Quore.  Whistle has won the top rated Guest Messaging category two years running and its new time saving functionality looks like they're likely to step up their game again this year. IDeaS showcased Investigator, a new feature to show hoteliers how pricing decisions were made As technology plays more of a role in revenue management many revenue managers want to know the “why” behind pricing decisions to ensure that mistakes aren’t being made and so that they can effectively communicate strategic decisions to stakeholders. With Investigator, revenue managers can drill into the analytics behind decisions made by IDeaS’ G3 revenue management system. Investigator allows revenue managers to embrace automation while also staying in the loop to make sure everything is working properly. OTA Insight adds intelligent rate parity breach detection and bulk actioning via automated alerts Hotel distribution is extremely complex and due to the way that 3rd parties resell inventory it’s nearly impossible to track down parity issues like price discrepancies or room-type issues. Parity Insight provides a turnkey solution to detect, action and resolve parity issues in real-time. The new functionality provides workflow automation and streamlines communication between groups, chains and hotels. OTA Insight is trusted by more than 40,000 properties globally and leverages data across the entire group to help each individual client ensure that their distribution partners aren’t engaging in costly breaches of contracts. Zingle launched automatic message categorization and intent triggered automation Without the right automation, guest messaging can add more work onto your team’s already busy plate so it’s important to have the right automations in place to ensure that this great guest amenity doesn’t come at the expense of team productivity. Zingle’s messaging software has pre-made and customizable automated workflows that re-route and follow up to messages to save staff valuable time on repetitive tasks. There are dozens of automations available today, including recognition of plumbing issues, process information requests (like gym hours), or housekeeping related messages like  room-cleaning and turn down service. Zingle  streamlines communication for hotels and improves service times by reducing the need for manual ticket entry, routing and follow-up by staff.  Zingle raised $11M from Peakspan Capital to fuel technical R&D and drive growth. Fun fact, Zingle's founder Ford Blakey also happens to be the brother of billionaire Spanx founder, Sarah Blakely.   Travel Tripper showcased its ADA compliance audit and monitoring platform to automatically detect compliance issues with your website. The platform offers a proactive approach to the increasing threat of ADA website lawsuits in the hotel industry, allowing hoteliers and their web service providers to address website accessibility issues and mitigate the risk of ADA compliance lawsuits.  This platform is the first of its kind (in the hotel industry) which actively audits hotel websites according to WCAG 2.1 AA-Level standards and automatically alerts property teams if a technical violation is found.  Upon recognizing an ADA violation, the platform sends regular notifications to account users until the issue is fixed.  In addition, Travel Tripper assists hoteliers’ legal teams by giving them the proper documentation they need when responding to an ADA website compliance lawsuit. Protel launched zero cost 1-click integrations to fuel automation Integration is the key to all automation but historically integrations have been extremely expensive and time consuming to set live. protel launched one-click connect and slashed activation costs for select partners in its i/o marketplace. Now protel clients can instantly turn on top rated apps like OTA Insight, Oaky Upselling and Atomize revenue management without paying a dime. While this is a small step towards a more integrated future it is a critical one since this kind of move from a major PMS company like protel with 14,000 clients will put pressure on others to follow suit. Atomize launched its group booking price optimization functionality Group sales reps often price groups manually which takes a lot of work.  If they ask too much they could lose the contract and if they charge too little they leave money on the table. Atomize’s new group booking functionality allows hoteliers to automatically set optimal prices for group booking packages.  The software cuts out manual calculations, negotiations and collaborations by taking into account the total expected spend of various groups on property.  Atomize can factor varied requests within the same group like different arrival and departure dates. Atomize won top rated revenue management system in the 2019 HotelTechAwards and has been taking the industry by storm ever since.  This new group functionality is another step towards rounding out Atomize as a complete revenue management software the platform. SevenRooms launched email marketing for hotel restaurants Hotel food & beverage operations often lack the resources and know how to run personalized marketing campaigns. SevenRooms’ segmentation and email automation enables F&B managers to easily add customizable tags to guest profiles then run rules based marketing campaigns to those segments.  Run unique marketing to critical segments like: first timers, high value regulars, positive reviewers and more. Companies like Revinate and Cendyn have demonstrated the immense value of personalized hospitality marketing campaigns.  Now F&B outlets can benefit from marketing automation too. Zoox debuted facial recognition technology for hotel check-in Front desk agents are overloaded with repetitive tasks like identity verification which creates bottlenecks at check-in and hurts the guest experience. Zoox’ facial recognition software allows guests to check into the hotel in under 15 seconds without the front desk ever needing to verify their identity with ID or credit card. Facial recognition is already being used in markets like China which have leap frogged some of the West’s archaic traditions by using next gen tech. Avvio showcased its Allora powered booking engine Each guest is enticed by different booking messages, layouts and visuals so having a static booking engine means that you’re losing guests by not putting the right offer and presentation in front of them. Allora leverages data from Avvio’s client base to put the right messages and visuals in front of guests that are likely to be enticed by those calls to action. Continuous website optimization is mainstream in eCommerce and is a critical piece of maximizing direct bookings. Avvio guarantees that you will see a 25% increase in direct booking revenue when you switch to their booking engine. Knowcross launched KNOW Maintenance to automate preventative maintenance KNOW Maintenance is a cloud based multilingual application that helps automate, schedule and monitor all preventive maintenance activities at hotels.  The application organizes all engineering responsibilities for hotels, thus ensuring superior guest satisfaction, minimize malfunction accidents and maximized equipment lifetimes. This also results in enhanced productivity and better manpower forecasts.     TREND 2 | A cambrian explosion of tools to help hoteliers manage and make sense of their data We know that you and your staff are probably sick of tech companies talking about artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data. Ultimately the big data challenge can be boiled down into 3 simple buckets: (1) Guest profile data (2) Market data (3) Operations data   Most of the datasets that tech marketers are referring to are not really big data.  Here’s how analytics firm SAS defines big data. “Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis.” Since big data can be overwhelming for hoteliers, let’s first define our data types so that we can see it’s actually not so scary: Guest profile data helps us target new guests and better serve them on property.  CRM systems use recency, frequency and monetary value as the core data points but this data includes PMS data like stay dates as well as 3rd party data pulled in from social media platforms, reputation platforms like Revinate, guest surveys and other data sources.  Ultimately we want to use this data to find new guests who are like the ones that stay with us and to deliver personalized experiences that drive loyalty Market data helps us price our rooms and plan for the future.  This data includes historical pricing, demand trends, local events and more.  Market data sources come from platforms like OTA Insight or TravelClick Demand360 as well as 3rd parties like Kalibri Labs, STR or CBRE. Operations data helps us streamline how we run our business.  This data comes from PMS and operations systems.  We’ll want to look at things like how long it takes to turn our rooms, average cost per occupied room, time to service requests and more. The challenge becomes tying all of this data together in ways that enable us to make business decisions and act on them in real time.  Integrating these datasets and visualizing them in a clear and understandable way is critical for the success of any hotel. Because this data is constantly flooding into our properties it’s impossible for humans to process it and make good decisions without the right software systems in place. From budgeting and forecasting to marketing and operations, the vendors below showcased new ways of visualizing and manipulating a hotel’s existing data to help hoteliers make better business decisions. Revinate debuted its new platform that promises to manage and organize all of your hotel’s marketing data How can hotels manage relationships with guests? Not just manage room inventory, but create and manage rich guest profiles that tell them everything they need to know about potential guests: recency, frequency, and spending of previous stays to really understand who their VIPs are and when and how they should be marketed to. Currently, data is tied up in various systems that don’t speak to each other very well. Hoteliers need tools specifically built for the complexities and nuances of the hospitality industry. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to managing guest relationships effectively at scale. The Hotel GMS allows hoteliers to easily surface insights on their guest, segment and market to them, and learn more about them over time to make future communications even more effective. Hotel Effectiveness showcased its labor optimization dashboards and new wage benchmarking capabilities With labor costs on the rise and labor being the single largest line item on most hotel’s P&L, finding ways to monitor and optimize your labor and staffing is mission critical for most hoteliers.  The problem is that most hotels still track and manage their labor manually on pen and paper but luckily, Hotel Effectiveness (in depth review).  The team showcased their purpose built tool that is used by major clients such as Heritage Hotels & Resorts, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Pacific Host Hotels and Chartwell Hospitality and promises to reduce total labor costs by 5-10% by turning labor hours and cost data into actionable recommendations served up right in the dashboard. SHR launched its Wave RMS (revenue management system) SHR is the latest in a slew of companies launching revenue management systems in the last couple of years. SHR's algorithm uses Reinforcement Learning techniques with a proprietary mathematical model that recommends prices not only based on one specific date, but factoring in both days-to-arrival and optimal price on shoulder dates, as well, to maximize revenue across the stay pattern.  Wave combines advanced algorithms with a Strategy Builder tool so that Revenue Managers don't need to solely trust a “black box” recommendation. Cenium showed off its Microsoft BI powered customizable dashboards If you’ve used multiple PMS’ before you know that the dashboards often look the same.  Based on your role, there are different metrics and views that are most important to you but it takes a million clicks to get to your favorite view. With a redesigned interface, Cenium put its new customizable dashboards on display at HITEC.  Powered by Microsoft BI, hoteliers can pick from pre-built templates or easily slice and dice data to personalize their dashboard. Owned by a Norweigan hotel conglomerate, Cenium was built for the portfolio’s own hotels and is now being made available globally to other hotels outside its portfolio.  Funded by the cashflow of the real estate business, Cenium’s pockets are deep and offer a deep resource pool to build a strong product with a customer mindset at the heart of product development. SnapShot rolled out its V1 POS Analytics to compare PMS and POS data in one interface While PMS Software was built for hotels, most POS Software was built for restaurants which often becomes evident when trying to run hotel analysis of various F&B outlets or compare POS and PMS data in one interface to identify performance by outlet as well as slice and dice data from both systems to do things like remap and unify POS outlets' names, payment methods, F&B categories and price modifiers. Snapshot POS Analytics is currently only available for hotels who utilize sister Shiji company Infrasys’ POS and the lightning fast growing Lightspeed POS. Profitsword showcased its custom financial performance dashboards The new user interface is a continuation of ProfitSword's commitment to provide instant and straightforward access to the information that businesses need in order to plan and ensure a successful, efficient and profitable operation. ProfitSword customers are now able to instantly access, group and compare real-time performance data in a way that fits their specific needs at any given time, and with a level of detail that is truly a first for our industry and save custom reports as favorites for easy 1-click access.     TREND 3 | A new Focus on enabling guests and driving revenue with self service We’re living in an age where we manage our investments on mobile devices via apps like Robinhood and choose our workouts at home via platforms like Peloton.  As technology gets better, we’re able to go straight to the source and get exactly what we want, when we want it and at a fraction of the cost. In the hotel industry the notion of self service has taken a bit longer to catch up except in innovative markets like Las Vegas.  Many hoteliers believe that disintermediating services is detrimental to delivering a great hospitality experience. In many ways they are right and there will always need to be a highly personal component between guests and staff to truly create a great guest experience. Having said that, there are many facets of hotel operations where guests are actually better served completing these tasks themselves which also frees up staff to focus on building personal relationships, surprising and delighting. An example of this in our professional lives exists within the meeting booking space.  Platforms like Calendly and x.ai are actually much better at scheduling meetings because they integrate directly with our calendars and don't require back and forth to coordinate between parties.  That doesn't mean executives no longer need personal assistants, it just means that personal assistants can focus on adding more value for their employers and skip the back-and-forth. There are lots of examples of this dynamic in hotels. Most guests would prefer an automated grab and go where they don’t need to go through an entire transaction process with an associate.  This seamless experience at the front desk actually builds loyalty by cutting out any wait time or frustration - something that is increasingly critical in the age of instant gratification.  Similarly, there is no check-in experience that can make up for waiting in line at the reception. Solutions like mobile check-in and keyless entry can alleviate wait times and free up staff to focus on higher value tasks. Below you’ll find the latest technology developments within the self service trend that deliver instant gratification and consistently perfect service to guests while freeing up your team to focus on surprising and delighting. Zoox Smart Pass rolls out facial recognition for seamless and verified self-checkin So you’ve been Global Entry or Nexus and wondered why the kiosks there can check you in but you have to talk to someone at the front desk at a hotel.  Well, now you don’t have to. As self service check-in goes more mainstream especially at select service and extended stay properties, it’s only logical that facial recognition will allow for a more frictionless and secure identification process.  With this new tech, guests simply walk up to the computer camera like they would a Global Entry terminal, scan their face and checkin to their room in under 15 seconds. Impulsify showed off its ShopPop hotel pantry solution that they're so confident in it actually comes with an ROI guarantee Having a hotel pantry has often been reserved for brands and larger properties who have the manpower to be able to properly service customers.  Even so, in the majority of cases front desk agents double as grab-n-go cashiers and anytime something is sold it creates a bottleneck at the front desk.  Impuslify’s purpose built pantry POS, ShopPop, allows any hotel to easily run their own pantry to offer additional convenience items to guests while driving ancillary revenue through an easy to use self service checkout kiosk.  In addition to time saving features like automated shopping lists and PMS integrations-- Impulsify has processed over 5 million transactions, giving it a growing database of information so you won't have to rely on instinct or habit to decide what guests prefer.   The results are so good that Impulsify even offers new clients an ROI guarantee. Infor showed conference goers just how easy self-service can be with its POS Kiosks Usually we expect creative displays from smaller companies but at HITEC, Infor stole the show with a live demonstration of it’s grab-and-go solution where attendees ordered food and beverages on one of Infor’s new self service POS kiosks.  Similar to Impulsify, Infor’s self service kiosk allows hotels to offer additional food and convenience items to guests with the tap of a button without having to worry about staff oversight. Zaplox rolled out its new customizable self-service check-in kiosk While self service check-in/check-out kiosks are ubiquitous in the airline and grocery industries, most hotels have lagged behind the trend and few offer a fully self-service check-in process.  More and more technology providers are creating solutions hoping that hotels will wise up and follow their more technologically advanced sibling categories. Following the likes of Mew’s Self Service Checkin Kiosk that was released earlier this year, Zaplox launched their take on the tech hoping to bolster usage of keyless entry by offering a more fluid end-to-end check-in experience.  Zaplox Kiosk enables guests to skip the lines and check in and print their own key cards - with 24 hours availability. The kiosk's custom-branded interface enables hotels to create a cohesive brand experience and because the kiosk runs on any tablet-based device, hotels can select the hardware that best matches the interior and space limitation. Whistle put its conversational commerce on display with its new text based upselling feature According to Whistle, nearly 30% of guest interactions on their guest messaging platform are potential revenue generating opportunities for the hotel. While guests often express their interest in purchasing an item or placing an order through messaging, they are then inconveniently redirected to communicate their request to the appropriate department (ex. Please call room service to place your order) which both adds friction for guests and reduces conversion to purchase for hotels (aka lost revenue). With Whistle’s new upsell module, hotels can add custom inventory from their F&B outlets, pantry, local businesses or even add-ons like late checkout and guests can now seamlessly purchase with one click and have the charges added to the room via PMS integration or leverage 1-click checkout with Apple or Google Pay.  Conversational commerce has long been the gold standard in Asian markets so its great to see frictionless ways to tap into more guest wallet share during their stay while simultaneously adding convenience value for consumers, a win-win for Whistle, hotels and their guests.  MeetingPackage showcased it's group booking engine and channel manager If you’ve ever tried to book a hotel meeting space or venue online you know just how cumbersome of a process it usually is. First you have to fill out a form, then you wait for a response, then when you finally get a response the first question hotels often ask is ‘how much is your budget’.  The whole experience is cumbersome, awkward and feels inherently like you’re being taken by a used car salesman. In comes MeetingPackage to the rescue with its M&E booking engine and channel manager that allows you to manage content, sync across channels to increase your reach and add a booking flow with rich content, add-ons and full customization for your next event promising to drastically increase conversion rates while delivering corporate clients and meeting planners a seamless self-service booking experience that consumers expect. Aethon Robotics turned heads with its delivery robots to cut down on delivery times Aethon’s TUG robots take a different approach to self-service by delivering things like food, linen, banquet supplies and luggage via an R2D2 looking robot.  Except for singularity believers waiting for the Terminator to jump through a time warp portal to initiate Skynet--the Aethon is likely to leave guests with a unique and memorable experience that they’ll want to tell their friends and social media followers about.  Beyond the buzz factor, for hotels looking to cut down on expensive labor can leverage Aethon’s robots to automate common deliveries and cut down on delivery times. Intelity's tablets got a backend upgrade to make it easier for guests to access information at their fingertips New additions to INTELITY Staff include an enhanced ticketing system, a more robust content management solution (CMS), in-depth guest and operations analytics, and Guest360™, which provides a 360-degree view of guest preferences, designed to help hotel staff across all departments make the right decisions at the right time while further personalizing the guest experience. The new enhancements to INTELITY Staff will provide staff with access to comprehensive business intelligence and the ability to streamline daily workflows, seamlessly track, manage, and organize preventative maintenance and service recovery, and make real-time content updates. One of the biggest challenges today's hoteliers face is connecting and engaging with their guests in a personalized manner on digital platforms. Guests expect highly personal experience and interactions in hospitality, but also want to have access to the convenience that technology affords them. The new enhancements to INTELITY Staff streamline staff workflows so that staff can spend more time focusing on creating the connection and personalization guests crave. Saba's chatbot and no-download app  SABA Hospitality manages every aspect of the guest journey. From answering questions, to managing requests, making recommendations, fulfilling F&B orders and everything in between. Their artificial intelligence driven chatbot transforms a hotels guest experience, while lowering staff workload and driving revenue. Swyft put its Amazon-esque cashierless stores on display And we’re back...more automated retail! Have you ever walked by a Best Buy or CVS vending machine in the airport? If so, then you’ve seen Swyft’s cashierless retail kiosks in action.  While not as widely adopted in hotels Swyft’s tech offers another option to generate ancillary pantry and merchandise revenue without the added labor bottlenecks or cost. StayMyWay rolled out all new keyless entry door hardware StayMyWay featured a series of shiny new access solutions including its signature Cylinder door lock hardware and 3 more unique digital replacements that each boasted clean lines and strong functionality without breaking the bank starting at under $200. 4Suites showcased its app-less mobile key solution 4Suites mobile keys are fully automated for hotels and frictionless for guests. No actions required from hotels, no app download or login for guests. All intelligence and security is handled by 4Suites in the background to offer the easiest, yet most advanced mobile key solution. Mobile keys can simplify guest operations, reduce costs and improve the guest experience. If done correctly.  4Suites removes friction and has created a fully automated process for hotels and a simple, seamless and impossible-not-to-understand journey for guests. Qwick showcased its short term staffing platform The Qwick app refines and matches job listings for professionals and allows them to accept and confirm shifts all through a smartphone device. The Qwick app has features all in one central place: view matched shifts to accept, view work schedules, clock-in and clock-out, and receive payments within as little as thirty minutes after completing a  shift through their secured platform. This level of convenience and accessibility is helping to grow Qwick’s database of professionals, ensuring high quality workers and quickly filled shifts for businesses.     TREND 4 | Big tech is leaning into hotels for new use cases & distribution Hospitality has always been a big focus for big tech and fortune 500s but it seems to be heating up in recent years.  Travel and tourism contribute $1.5 trillion to GDP globally so it’s no surprise that these companies want in on the action. Traditionally companies within the room automation space (e.g. Honeywell), high tech materials (e.g. Corning) and business electronics (e.g. LG) focus on the hotel sector and increasingly we’re seeing big tech get into the mix with the likes of Samsung, Microsoft and Amazon.  Below we highlight some of the key hospitality launches for big tech players at HITEC this year. Peloton made its HITEC debut offering a new way to attract a fitness focused audience for hotels Peloton made it’s HITEC debut where the firm unveiled its new “Hotel Finder” feature.   With Hotel Finder, riders can find and book hundreds of hotels with Peloton bikes across the United States.  The Company is set for IPO this year with it’s last valuation set at $4.15B and growth has been on a tear.  Peloton’s rider base recently surpassed Soul Cycle as it doubled its user count year over year and the firm is naturally looking for new growth avenues.  Fitness focused hotel brand Westin partnered with Peloton and this move seems to be an evolution of that thesis.  More than 400,000 bikes were sold by February of 2019 and many of those riders are die hard fitness junkies who are highly likely to seek out hotels where they can get their fitness fix.  As Peloton continues to grow it’s install base and product offerings (e.g. Peloton Tread) hotels could find an interesting niche distribution channel to reach fitness enthusiasts. Samsung mounted its 8k QLED monitors dubbed, ‘The Wall’ outfitted with captivating next generation digital art Samsung’s gorgeous 8K QLED and The Wall stole the show with digital art provided by partners Niio and Black Dove. 8K digital signage delivers impeccable picture quality and resolution that was previously unimaginable at scale. Samsung’s technology uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) upscaling to produce lifelike images and immersive experiences. Great hoteliers know that first impressions are everything. For select service hotels digital art can provide new advertising revenue while for more upscale high end and boutique properties it can give your hotel a huge leg up.  Digital art leaders include firms such as Niio, Blackdove and the 2019 HotelTechAward winner in the digital art category, Wrapped. If you need some inspiration, we highly recommend checking out Wrapped Studios’s Shark installation that wow’d even the high brow crowd of attendees at this year’s renown Art Basel in Miami. Amazon and LG’s hospitality divisions collaborate to make in-room entertainment remoteless Gernophobes will be rejoicing at Amazon for Hospitalty’s latest partnership announced with LG.  Together the companies will infuse Alexa voice controls into the hotel TV experience allowing guests to never have to touch a remote again.  Other than being carriers for germs, most hotel remotes are clunky and make channel surfing a frustrating experience so voice controls promise to make for more seamless guest room entertainment. Microsoft steps up to the plate looking to bring its Teams for Frontline Workers product to hotel operations and compete in the employee engagement category While most offerings in the staff collaboration and employee engagement categories are purpose built for the hotel industry, Microsoft appears to be testing the waters by tailoring its employee communication offering to empower frontline workers.  Teams for Frontline workers dubs itself as “the hub for teamwork” and touts benefits including easier employee training, culture building and document management. With Microsoft’s office suite already being used by most hotels to manage email, the company has a strong foothold into the industry already and may just be able to gain footing in the employee communication category if it plays its cards right. Create your own next gen hotel check-in experience with digital art like Sharks from Wrapped on an 8K Samsung Wall.     TREND 5 | Housekeeping software is heating up Earlier this year the NY Times wrote a great piece titled ‘The next wave of unicorn startups’ where it argued that the next wave of billion dollar tech firms will not look like the last.  Rather than splashy consumer facing companies like Snapchat, Uber and AirBnB making their way towards IPOs - the article hypothesizes that the next wave of unicorns will be filled with B2B software companies focused on seemingly boring and unexpected industries.   Now, many of the up-and-coming start-ups that may become the next unicorns have names like Benchling and Blend. And they largely focus on software for specific industries like farms, banks and life sciences companies. ~New York Times Add hospitality to that list because there are some major players entering the market.  Where the OTAs and digital distribution have largely driven the last wave of massive technology adoption in hotels because they focus on the top line, the next wave of hotel tech adoption is coming from operations software and specifically within the housekeeping segment.  After watching Quore take the title as “Top Rated Housekeeping Software for Hotels” in the HotelTechAwards two years in a row, several newcomers are entering the space to capitalize on the opportunity. ALICE upped its game with the launch of its all new ALICE Housekeeping While ALICE has always offered a flexible staff communication and task management platform that is used by housekeeping teams across the globe--the all new housekeeping offering is designed from the ground up to deliver a magical experience that will leave even non-housekeepers wanting to take it for a spin. The platform packs a punch with mission critical housekeeping management functionality like automated room assignments but delivers this functionality in an elegant and easy to use solution that integrates each department on property like a finely tuned orchestra. ALICE gave us a glimpse into the future of housekeeping with an exclusive behind the scenes tour of their reimagined housekeeping product. ALICE gave Hotel Tech Report an exclusive behind the scenes look at the all new ALICE Housekeeping See the product in action Hkeeper showed off new functionality that enables housekeeping departments to track materials usage and supply levels Using HKeeper, you will find all needed operational management hotel's tools and avoid unnecessary problems related to the human factor and lack of collaboration between departments. HKeeper will optimize all daily routine processes, improve your guest relations quality, and free up more time for working with projects and vendors. Hkeeper is one of the best tools for managing the personnel of the hotel and tracking material usage. With HKeeper, you can streamline workflows, reduce the turnaround time between tasks, and increase employee productivity. One of the main advantages over other housekeeping software is that Hkeeper offers a unique feature that allows tracking all materials used during cleaning and maintenance tasks or other operations through the program in real time. Moreover, HKeeper also monitors working progress in real time and analyzes staff performance by counting active working time, turnaround time, and time required for each task. Another exceptional function in the HKeeper program is that the mobile application can work off-line. Not all similar programs are offering integration with PMS software, and Hkeeper does, so hotels can easily stay updated on room status, availability, and guest information. Nuvola showed hoteliers if you can't measure it, you can't manage it The housekeeping department in the hotel industry is simultaneously one of the most valuable areas in creating the best guest experience possible while at the same time the hardest to optimize. Introducing new technologies and systems can often make daily processes seem more complicated and be met with resistance. Developed by former hoteliers with this unique understanding in mind, Housekeeping Productivity has been created to meet the specific department needs through an easy to use system and provides accessibility across desktop and mobile devices. Daily room attendants are now able to streamline activities (i.e., room assignment needs, cleaning service tasks) through an intuitive platform that speaks to the notion of making their lives easier.  Nuvola's analytics suite helps hoteliers gain critical insights to reduce average time spent "in between rooms" for room attendants, measure room attendant productivity by credit count and compare guest survey score vs. room attendants effectiveness. PurpleCloud takes a unique approach to housekeeping by leveraging gamification to increase staff productivity Housekeepers for hotels are in short supply and the nature of the work is unique. Their work is time sensitive and requires great attention to detail. If we give these housekeepers world-class tools to make them better at their jobs and couple this with common sense, easy to understand recognition and incentives, then we start winning their hearts. In doing so, hoteliers win for the guest.  PurpleCloud organizes the housekeeper’s day with a world-class digital platform. Gone are messy paper assignment sheets and balky walkie-talkies. The system is easy to use: self-explanatory; requires only a few clicks; and is available in the housekeeper’s given language. The system further provides housekeepers with feedback on their performance and rewards them for doing well by way of a gamification leaderboard. The result: housekeepers are connected and function as a team.       TREND 6 | Fraud and security still poignant post-Marriott breach A recent study by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) reports that as much as 55% of all credit card fraud in the US takes place within the hospitality industry. Of course, that only considers criminal fraud; but when you factor-in other loss sources like fraudulent chargebacks, the real figure is much higher. Fraud tends to impact the travel and leisure industries even more heavily than other sectors like retail or digital goods. According to Kount, this is attributable to five specific factors: Fluidity: Multiple and last-minute booking changes create more opportunities for fraud. Perishability: Fraudsters tie-up space that cannot be used for legitimate bookings. Margins: Higher ticket values for hotel bookings mean greater impact on the bottom line. Revenue Loss: Excessive false positives mean merchants are declining valid bookings. High OPEX: More manual reviews mean increased operating expenses. With such high transaction volumes and so many moving pieces--hotels continue to be highly susceptible to fraudsters and hackers as evidenced by the Marriott data breach earlier this year of more than 500 million guest records that were hacked earlier this year.  Luckily companies are coming out with new and innovative ways to help hotels ward of expensive fraud and damaging hacks. Canary showcased its Y Combinator approved software that claims to cut chargebacks by up to 90% While not the sexiest topic, payments and fraud prevention are big business when it comes to hotels.  Y Combinator backed Canary Technologies has a suite of PCI compliant solutions to secure guest data, reduce chargebacks, and speed up sales and catering contract execution by eliminating paper processes on property.  If you’re ready to leave your fax machine in the 80s, minimize fraud or just want to hear about why PG is bullish on the product--its probably time to reach out for a demo. Insighti offers hackers for hire to help brands and management companies pre-emptively identify security flaws and protect their data Insighti offers hackers for hire. With the hospitality industry suffering loads of hacks lately from Marriott to Sabre, insighti offers much needed protection. insighti goes in-depth with physical, social, and digital facets of security, using creativity and persistence to find the vulnerabilities other companies miss.  Insighti recently partnered with former MGM Resorts VP of IT Marc Fancourt to create hiGuard.io taking the firm’s approach to cybersecurity and applying it to the unique complexities of the hotel industry. VENZA announces partnership with the PCI Council positioning them on the forefront of the latest compliances and security measures Navigating the ever changing PCI compliance regulations and ensuring that your hotel is up-to-snuff can feel like the endless climb to the top of Everest.  Luckily, Venza is here to be ‘your guide to data protection’. In the limelight was Venza’s partnership with the PCI Council and certification as a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) that enables the team to work hand-in-hand with the council to set requirements, become early adopters on new PCI DSS requirements and, overall, ensure that customers are receiving the highest quality standards possible.  If you’re looking to shore up your hotel’s compliance you’ll want to check out VENZA’s Everest Plan, their entry level plan to get your hotel compliant. ADAsoft launched eSwipe, a passport/ID scanning solution for speeding up and automating guest check-in ADASoft launched its new passport/ID scanning solution for speeding up and automating guest check-in and registration while eliminating data entry errors by seamlessly reading, capturing and accurately transferring data from ID documents and passports into practically any PMS in the market. The company lately announced the release of another unique feature allowing printing of a pre-filled customized registration form available after each passport/ID scan for the guest to sign. Simply scan each guest's Passport/ID in less than a second creating an accurate and complete database, and enjoy the benefits of a great marketing tool and after sales potential. ADAsoft’s eSwipe passport scanning solution facilitates GDPR regulation compliance since typing errors are eliminated and data is accurately registered as stated in GDPR regulation, Chapter II, Article 5, Section 1.d ASSA ABLOY GLOBAL SOLUTIONS unveiled its all new staff safety solution  With the US hotel industry continuing to up its requirements when it comes to staff safety with many cities such as Chicago and Miami now requiring hotels to provide employees with safety devices--ASSA ABLOY is the first major company with a storied history and strong credibility to bring a safety solution to market.  The safety solution runs off of blue tooth low emission gateaways (BLE) via its Vostio Location Solutions software meaning that (a) it doesn't take up any wi-fi bandwidth and (b) it allows properties to unlock additional location based services within their hotel including asset tracking, proximity messaging and wayfinding.

[PODCAST] Former Sabre Strategy Chief: Hotel Tech in Emerging Markets, Cyber Security in the Hotel Industry and the Future of GDS

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Hotel Tech Report

- SCROLL DOWN TO PLAY EPISODE -       About Balaji Balaji Krishnamurthy was previously Chief Strategy Officer at Sabre Hospitality Solutions. Prior to this role, he was responsible for new market development efforts in Africa and China across Sabre’s three business units. Prior to Sabre, Krishnamurthy was at Orbitz Worldwide, a global online travel leader, where he led the global corporate strategy function for the diverse travel portfolio of B2C brands and B2B businesses. Before Orbitz, he was at LinkedIn in Silicon Valley, where he led North America sales strategy and operations for their Sales Solutions business. Krishnamurthy was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company for over five years, serving C-level executives on a diverse set of business-strategy, operations, and technology-related topics in financial services (asset management, retail banking, insurance), healthcare, high-tech, travel, and transportation sectors. Prior to management consulting, he spent over eight years with General Electric in different leadership and management roles across healthcare businesses focusing on global product management, development, and commercialization of several innovative healthcare technologies, imaging, and informatics products. Krishnamurthy is passionate about developing innovative new products, building new businesses, developing new markets, and fostering high-performing teams globally. He has spoken at many industry events on data science and analytics, including HITEC. Krishnamurthy graduated with an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, majoring in finance and strategy, and obtained his bachelor’s degree in electronics and communications engineering from Bangalore University.

Behind the scenes with Klaus Kohlmayr: the super connector of hotel tech

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Hotel Tech Report

TLDR: Key lessons from our interview with Klaus Most hotel companies have too many cooks in the kitchen to be nimble The power pendulum is shifting back to hotels from the OTAs - and that’s good for everyone 5G and IOT building sensors will fuel the next wave of innovation in hotel tech Direct bookings don’t necessarily have the lowest acquisition cost Just because a system is working doesn’t mean it’s not hurting your business Owners need to make unconventional investments in futuristic infrastructure to develop their competitive advantage in crowded markets   In the world of hotel tech it can be hard to keep up with what seems like a never ending supply of self proclaimed ‘pundits’ and ‘experts’. Klaus Kohlmayr, Chief Evangelist at IDeaS revenue solutions stands in stark contrast with those self proclaimed ‘experts’.  Klaus is one of the most down to earth people you’ll ever meet and that’s the secret to his wisdom. His role as Chief Evangelist at IDeaS gives him unparalleled access that most can only dream of.  Klaus leaves promotion at the door and lets authentic conversations lead the way everywhere he goes.  Klaus has been tasked by IDeaS founder Ravi Mehrotra to bring an unbiased ear to the discussion then synthesize findings into what have become a game changing competitive advantage for the firm. Epictetus famously said that, "we have two ears and one mouth for a reason - to listen twice as much as we speak."  Klaus is an incredible listener and spends most of his time traveling to meet with hotel owners, managers and operators so that he can understand and empathize with their experience. Being a hotel company CEO can be lonely and the role bears an incredible burden.  Hotel company CEOs have thousands of workers who rely on them to put food on the table, they have investors to appease on a quarterly basis and managers who depend on them for career growth.  Disruption is constantly knocking at their doors but they have little time to focus on the future because the present demands so much. Where many tech companies use scare tactics and FOMO to encourage investment in their products, Klaus’ strategy with IDeaS is both calming and optimistic. The space has become incredibly diverse and dynamic over the last few years. When I look at other industries, I feel everyone struggles with the same issues – data silos, outdated technology, data not flowing freely, etc. Many people complain about the lack of innovation in the industry; however, I feel the hotel technology space is buzzing. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry.  ~Klaus Kohlmayr, IDeaS Klaus effectively leverages public speaking as a key channel to build his network.  He is what leadership experts call a power broker.  Power brokers are constantly building their networks and then identifying ways to deliver value as quickly and frequently as possible.   In a stroke of genius, IDeaS CEO Dr. Ravi Mehrotra gave Klaus a mandate to remain neutral and non-promotional in his role as Chief Evangelist.  In an underinvested industry that’s notoriously behind the proverbial 8-ball, Mehrotra knew that leaders like his firm IDeaS would need to educate the market and placed a bet on his Chief Evangelist - a bet that has paid off handsomely for both IDeaS and for the industry as a whole.  Revenue management system adoption is growing at a record clip and it’s impossible to unbundle that growth from Kohlmayr’s crusade. Klaus’ evangelism doesn’t stop with hotel CEOs and revenue management.  In recent years Klaus has organically created one of the most coveted event series in the industry with his startup gatherings preceding major industry events.  These events are filled with everyone from top entrepreneurs in hotel tech to venture capitalists, hotel executives and even hospitality division leaders at major firms like Microsoft. So how does a former hotelier become the super connector of hotel tech? Who better to ask than the man himself - Klaus Kohlmayr.  We caught up with Klaus to talk about his career journey, where hotel tech is today and where it’s going.     What does your role as Chief Evangelist mean to you? IDeaS, a SAS company, is the world’s leading provider of revenue management software and services. With 30 years of expertise, IDeaS drives better revenue for more than 11,000 clients in 129 countries. Combining industry knowledge with innovative, data-analytics technology, IDeaS creates sophisticated yet simple ways to empower revenue leaders with precise, automated decisions they can trust. I describe my role as “looking at the biggest trends and developments that will shape the industry in the next 5-7 years.” These trends could cover a lot of ground from consumer to technology developments within the industry. I am in constant dialogue with a wide range of industry players: hospitality groups, owners & asset managers, technology providers, consultants and start-ups. I also look outside the hotel industry for a view on how broader developments will impact the industry as a whole. Throughout my conversations, certain themes emerge, which I then share and communicate back with the industry, as well as within IDeaS so we can all be prepared for the future.   Tell us about your career journey from hotels into hotel tech. My passion for revenue management led me to technology. I was working as a front office manager at a variety of InterContinental Hotels (IHG) around the world. Revenue management didn’t really exist yet, and I became passionate about how I could play with price and demand. I didn’t have any tools, so I taught myself how to program in Microsoft and coded my own Excel-based tools to help me track and analyze data and make what now seem to be very basic revenue management decisions. The results were pretty spectacular for the hotels, so I decided to move into revenue management full time. IDeaS created the first Revenue Management System (RMS) I used, and I quickly understood the power of automating revenue management tasks and decisions. In 2010, after a few years leading revenue management in Europe and Asia Pacific and working on some global projects at IHG, I joined IDeaS to build up the company’s consulting arm and lead innovation projects. Since 2017, I have been IDeaS’ Chief Evangelist, which means I am in a continuous dialogue with the wider industry to identify long-term trends and share how companies should prepare themselves for an exciting future of revenue management and pricing. Essentially, I am spreading the good news (which is what the word “evangelist” means) about revenue management and revenue science to the world.   When did you first become interested in hotel technology? I remember around 1987 we had some computer programming classes in the hotel management school I attended. That was pre-Windows, pre-internet, pre-everything. GW-Basic – green text on black screen. That was pretty cool, and I loved the coding aspect. I really got into hotel technology when I was exposed to the first property management systems at various hotels and of course when I used IDeaS for the first time as a hotel revenue manager in 1999 – what a revelation! Moving from hotels to hotel tech made me realize the incredible universe and ecosystem technology brings to hotels. The space has become incredibly diverse and dynamic over the last few years. When I look at other industries, I feel everyone struggles with the same issues – data silos, outdated technology, data not flowing freely, etc. Many people complain about the lack of innovation in the industry; however, I feel the hotel technology space is buzzing. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry.   What makes 'hotel tech' different than just 'tech'? The industry is both decentralized and disintermediated, which means very unique challenges. I think the biggest challenge is twofold – one, the pendulum of power between OTAs and hotels has not yet reached equality. Hotels were blindsided by the power of OTAs and their huge investments in technology, and it took some time to realize technology is essential to differentiation. Two, many people influence decision-making in the industry – from hotel owners to asset managers to operators and brands. For every technology investment at the brand level, a huge effort has to go into creating buy-in from owners and franchisors to actually commit to the investments. That takes time and doesn’t allow for nimbleness.   What's the single biggest opportunity that hotels are missing today? So, of course I have to say revenue management solutions! Kidding aside, an RMS is a must today. The average hotel makes five million revenue management decisions a year, and no human is able to get that right all the time. Other than that, if I was a hotelier, I would invest in two areas: guest engagement systems that allow hotels to interact efficiently and dynamically with guests throughout their journey and labor effectiveness tools because labor costs continue to increase faster than revenue and anything which helps increase productivity goes straight to the bottom line.   What is the most exciting technological innovation that you've seen implemented in hotels within the last 2-3 months? This should fall into the category of "cool tech" and doesn't necessarily need to be practical. I think we have not talked enough about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how this will help hotels be more efficient in their use of resources. When everything has sensors and devices are able to exchange information, a hotel’s efficiency will go through the roof. IDeaS’ parent company, SAS, is a huge believer in IoT and has partnered with Cisco in those areas. For example, people are already able to monitor and optimize waterflows and energy-use remotely and dynamically. The roll out of 5G will have a huge impact in this area.     How will the hotel tech landscape be different in 5-years? One word that comes to mind is convergence. In hotel tech, data is converging in the cloud which means systems are also converging. I believe we will see separate systems such as PMS, CRS, CRM and RMS begin to disappear. Hotels will buy capabilities, not systems and plug them into their platforms. We are already seeing the emergence of marketplaces or hotel app stores. It’s a huge shift, but that’s where investment is going today.   What is one thing that most hotel owners believe to be true that is actually false? That direct bookings have the lowest acquisition costs and that a system that’s “good enough” is good enough.   What are the most important skills or characteristics that hotel owners need to thrive in today's market conditions and why? Vision, strategy and guts. With the industry being in the midst of transformation, the owners who are most successful are the ones who foresee long-term trends, understand their impact and invest into their infrastructure of today for tomorrow, even if it means going against conventional wisdom. Sameness will not result in success.   What is your favorite hotel in the world? I think there is a difference between most memorable and favorite hotels. On the most memorable side, the Oberoi Amarvilas Agra next to the Taj Mahal in India probably tops my list. Spectacular location and incredible service make this a very special, once-in-a-lifetime experience. My favorite stays have actually been in very small hotels or guest houses, including a century old Ryokan in Kyoto, Japan, a seven-bedroom guest house in the middle of rice fields in Bali, Indonesia, a homestay on the Nepalese/Indian Border on the way to Sandakphu Pass in India or the Taj Vivanta Sawai Madhopur Lodge at the Ranthamboree National Park, to name just a few. I left all of them with a sense of having experienced something unique and special.   What is one thing that most people don't know about you? I am passionate about cooking. I am a trained chef and a member of the only remaining chapter of the Amateur Chefs Club in the United States.

Why do hotels need special accounting software like M3?

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Hotel Tech Report

Accounting as a hotelier is a time and resource intensive process. Finding the right tool or platform to manage it all can make or break your business – and potentially lead to efficiencies and cost-saving that can vault you ahead of your competitors. While there are many tools available in the marketplace, today we’ll focus on M3. Widely regarded as a top back-office hosted software solution provider for the hospitality industry, the M3 platform offers state-of-the-art, intuitive accounting, business intelligence, and payroll solutions across all brands and independent hotels in the U.S. and Canada. Built by hoteliers, exclusively for hoteliers, the platform allows franchisees access to their financial and operating information in real-time with user-friendly reports. Leveraging the various platform solutions, users are able to reduce overhead and labor to remain competitive in the industry. But don’t take our word for it; let’s take a look at some real-world examples of the platform in action and highlight the efficiencies and added capabilities afforded to those that have adopted M3.     "What got us here won't get us there." In 2002, HP Hotels was seeking to shift their focus. The hotel brand was spending time and resources building, updating, and maintaining an expensive computer infrastructure on which their accounting and business intelligence programs would run. Accounting and business intelligence were burdensome processes that were preventing the brand from reaching their growth goals. Rather than continuing to focus on the older, expensive computer infrastructure, the company was interested in taking a proactive approach to manage assets and generate returns for owners. Enter M3. After listening to recommendations from industry peers, HP Hotels signed onto the M3 platform. The move has since paid dividends, with the brand growing from two hotels in 2002 to more than 35 properties in 2019. What specifically spurred the growth? The M3 Accounting Core and Operations Management software. After adopting a streamlined staffing model, HP Hotels needed to manage the bulk of their accounting above property, which would eliminate the need for full-service accounting staff at the hotel level. The Accounting Core tool of the M3 platform provided the means for the efficiencies it didn’t think possible, saving both time and resources. Additionally, by utilizing the Benchmarking tool in Operations Management when considering new properties, HP was able to view a quick snapshot of where the potential hotel compares with like brands in the system. This allowed for quick and easy evaluations to be made, leading to smarter, more educated investments. Additionally, Benchmarking has been incorporated into HP Hotels' budgeting cycle to provide leadership with the intelligence needed to analyze how they are measuring up to the competition, because, according to CDO Kerry Ranson, "What got us here won't get us there." Functionality: Accounting to manage the bulk of their accounting above property. Benchmarking in Operations Management for more immediate and actionable Business Intelligence reports. Business impact: Allowed for executing of the streamlined staffing model as well as quick evaluations of new properties, leading to the brand growing from two properties in 2002 to more than 35 in 2019.   “M3 has helped us turn our IT department from a cost center into a profit center” Working to handle the needs of 24 properties, Coakley & Williams Hotel Management Company's two-person IT department found it was spending much of its time responding to simple requests for information. Many of information requests were routine in nature. C&W wanted to find a way to give the IT department the ability to spend its time in more productive ways, which would help C&W increase its own efficiencies. After a series of conversations designed to help M3 understand all sides of the issue, M3 recommended its Accounting Core solution. The software’s setup keeps each individual property’s data confidential, unless a member of a particular property is accessing the system. It also creates aggregate data to help C&W compare each property’s income and expenses against other properties of a similar size and branding. The solution directly addressed C&W’s needs by allowing each of its managed hotels to access its financial information directly and providing the ability to look at the day-to-day performance of each hotel. Prior to the adoption of the M3 platform, the IT department, was spending up to 50 to 60 percent of their time serving as backups for information requests. Now, C&W’s IT staff says it spends less than 5% of its time on hotel-related issues, allowing the department to offer its services to other clients as a way to generate revenue for the company. “In essence, M3 has helped us turn our IT department from a cost center into a profit center,” reports CIO Stephan Hahn. Functionality: Allows each hotel to access its financial information directly and provides the ability to look at the day-to-day performance of each hotel. Business impact: The access to real time and individual hotel-specific information led to a 55% reduction in resources spent by IT on property-specific requests. This allowed IT to offer additional services to clients and generate additional revenue for the company.   “My advice to hoteliers located in at-risk areas? Get on M3 tomorrow!” On August 29, 2005, everything changed. Hurricane Katrina tore through the Mississippi Gulf Coast, destroying much of the Biloxi office of Encore Hospitality as well as flooding their IT room. Deploying their disaster-recovery plan, the team righted ship and ultimately moved to Dallas, TX, deciding on a location that was less at-risk for natural disaster. The disaster allowed Encore the opportunity to evaluate its current accounting process:, a bloated, outsourced model that had become very costly and required a large, non-scalable infrastructure of hardware, custom software, and 4-5 IT staff to maintain. Additionally, though they relocated their headquarters, the model provided them no assurance that the accounting functionality could be seamlessly maintained and remain operational in the event of another natural disaster or unforeseen incident. M3 was able to intervene and assist. By implementing M3’s products and solutions, Encore was able to downsize its IT department to just two team members, and the offshore accounting team has been reduced to a few associates who input hotel accounting data remotely into Accounting Core. More importantly, the costly hardware infrastructure has been replaced by M3’s private, cloud-based solutions, which store data safely in redundant locations and provide a zero unscheduled downtime solution in the event of disaster or loss at any hotel location. Functionality: Accounting Core reduces the need for superfluous headcount by making the account process more efficient. Additionally, the cloud-based platform ensures access in the event of a natural disaster. Business impact: Encore was able to reduce its IT department to just two team members and gained confidence and comfort that they would be able to access their platform regardless of the circumstances. It’s evident that M3’s platform allows for resource efficiency as well as real time business intelligence and analytics, and the outcomes above speak to that fact. Adopting the M3 platform allowed for each company to streamline their headcount and accounting process, compare properties in real time, and secure their data in the event of a natural disaster. In the ultra-competitive landscape of hotel management, M3 has provided a leg up to HP Hotels, Coakley & Williams, and Encore and helps to ensure each company will stay ahead of the pack for years to come.

[EXCLUSIVE] Behind the scenes look at the all new ALICE Housekeeping

by
Hotel Tech Report

If you own or operate a hotel, you know that labor is the single largest expense on your P&L and that housekeeping is typically the largest expense within your labor budget.  If you want to boost NOI, look no further than your housekeeping department. Cleaning the average hotel room typically costs between $10 and $16 with luxury hotels often spending more than $20 (CPOR).  The majority of that cost (~65%) is spent on housekeeping salaries and wages. Hotels that are laser focused on housekeeping optimization often enjoy higher margins and ones that pioneer new housekeeping initiatives often enjoy a significant competitive advantage. Starwood’s “Make a Green Choice” program is one such initiative that not only drove company profits but also fundamentally changed the hotel industry.  Starwood’s program allows guests to opt out of room cleanings in exchange for loyalty program points or F&B credit and is still running today - over 10 years later.  In fact, the program was so successful that almost every hotel in the world followed suit. As pioneers in the “Make a Green Choice” movement, Starwood enjoyed a competitive advantage for years as the competition slowly caught up.  Today hotels around the world are enjoying a similar competitive advantage through the early adoption of cutting edge housekeeping management software. Shockingly, most hotel housekeeping departments today still operate the same way they did in the 1980s.  Every morning, housekeeping managers create boards for their room attendants to reference in order to be able to identify which rooms they have been assigned to using age old tools like pen and paper, PMS exports, radios and other manual methods.  Due to the manual nature of the task, this process can take anywhere from a half hour to several hours each morning and the plan immediately becomes obsolete as soon as anything changes--even something as simple as a housekeeper arriving to their next assigned room to find a do not disturb on the door.  Manual methods also hamper efficiency offering little in the way of performance optimization data and lots in the way of potential human error. Housekeeping management software provides a suite of manager and room attendant tools that combine real time departmental communication and synchronization with sophisticated reporting and analytics. This week, New York City based hotel tech darling ALICE made an announcement that is poised to shake things up for hotels across the globe with its all new Housekeeping product.     While ALICE has always offered a flexible staff communication and task management platform that is used by housekeeping teams across the globe--the all new housekeeping offering is designed from the ground up to deliver a magical experience that will leave even non-housekeepers wanting to take it for a spin.  The platform packs a punch with mission critical housekeeping management functionality like automated room assignments but delivers this functionality in an elegant and easy to use solution that integrates each department on property like a finely tuned orchestra. ALICE gave us a glimpse into the future of housekeeping with an exclusive behind the scenes tour of their reimagined housekeeping product. Let’s dive in, shall we…   The All-New ALICE Housekeeping at a Glance A fresh take on a department that is one of the biggest cost centers for hotels, yet hasn't changed the way it operates in decades Forward-thinking design and intuitive user interface based on a system of simple icons and labels that minimize training requirements and maximize team adoption Push one button and watch your rooms inventory get magically assigned to the optimal members of your team based on your properties’ bespoke rules and characteristics Real time updates and notifications that make manual entry, tracking and repetitive tasks a thing of the past Automated reporting that unlocks new levels of visibility into real time and retrospective performance to bring more to your bottom line Platform approach enables seamless inter departmental handoff to supercharge your team’s collaboration and put an end to expensive and frustrating human error   The all new ALICE Housekeeping boasts clean lines and an intuitive user interface that your team will actually want to use One of the single biggest problems in hotel tech is adoption (i.e. getting your team to actually use software and use it correctly).  When hotel software implementations fail it’s usually due to the fact that on property teams lack the product knowledge needed to properly leverage the tool.  For this reason, hotel software must first and foremost be simple and easy to use--clunky and bloated software rarely (if ever) reaches its full potential. With ALICE, you can put this concern to rest.  The new housekeeping app design is stunningly beautiful and shockingly simple.  The product team over at ALICE has taken design hints from best-of-breed user interfaces like Facebook and Google.  Students of product design know that simplicity has long been the holy grail of product adoption and customer experience.  Housekeeping teams often suffer from high staff turnover, challenging language barriers and in many cases and a lack of formal education.  These factors make design one of the most important factors when selecting housekeeping management software for your hotels. Legacy housekeeping software platforms often run on confusing code based systems (e.g. code 1724 = clean room) that can be difficult to train new employees on.  Contrastingly, ALICE runs on an intuitive set of icons and colored labels which deliver an easy to use experience for new hires and housekeeping veterans alike. Great software design delivers direct business benefits such as reduced training and generally faster on-boarding of new hires.  There’s also a significant indirect benefit to ALICE’s cutting edge UX design which often gets overlooked by hoteliers. Choosing a technology vendor is as much about the future as it is about the present. Legacy software vendors often have hundreds or even thousands of features developed over the years that 90% of their users don’t even know exist (let alone know how to use). ALICE’s intuitive design ensures that your team will be able to easily learn and adopt new feature functionality as the platform progresses.  In fact, the ALICE interface is so simple and intuitive that your team can literally get started with little to no prior training on the software. It's not surprising how intuitive ALICE Housekeeping is given that the product team didn’t even begin designing the product until they had spent more than six months shadowing hotels and performed more than 100 user interviews with hoteliers across various segments and geographies to learn about their pain points, daily routines and what makes them tick.   Push one button and watch your rooms inventory get automatically assigned to the optimal members of your team based on your properties’ bespoke rules and characteristics While ease of use is critical for team adoption--the true magic lies in ALICE’s pièce de résistance which is (drum roll please…) automated smart room assignments. If you operate your housekeeping department the old fashioned way (as most hotels still do), your executive housekeeper sits down at their desk each morning to assess available labor and rooms turnover.  They then spend anywhere from 30-minutes to several hours assigning ‘points’ to staff (ie. the standardized way of allocating housekeeping labor availability to demand on a daily basis) ensuring that all rooms that need to be cleaned are scheduled to be cleaned as efficiently and quickly as possible to accommodate incoming arrivals. This process can be extremely manual and intuition based which leads to lots of guesswork and a myriad of snowballing sub-optimal decisions that cost your hotel valuable time and money. For hotels that want to skip the guesswork and run an efficient housekeeping department,  ALICE’s new housekeeping product allows your team to press a magic button then watch everything fall into place like a game of Tetris.   Once you press the “auto-assign” button, ALICE’s algorithm instantaneously matches your staff with their optimal room assignments based on your hotel’s pre-determined staffing and inventory rules. This process can save your housekeeping managers anywhere from one to three hours each morning. Your housekeeping managers can then use that time saved to focus on other mission critical items that improve the guest experience and optimize your assets. Don’t want to let the computer do the work for you? No problem, ALICE offers complete flexibility for human override coupled with a simple drag-and-drop interface.  You know what they say though, once you go auto-assign you never go back. Auto room assignment is only the tip of the iceberg because in a hotel, things are constantly changing. These critical changes don’t just happen daily, but hourly and sometimes even by the minute. A housekeeper calls in sick.  A guest arrives early. An elevator breaks down.  The list of exceptions, changes and variables is nearly infinite so keeping track of them and adjusting in real time is critical - this is where ALICE really shines. Every room change, late checkout, VIP arrival, etc. upends your whole plan and requires you to reoptimize.  These types of real time optimizations with hundreds of variables and constraints are extremely difficult (if not outright impossible) for the human mind to compute.  With ALICE, however, things like a rushed room will trigger the software to re-optimize room assignments instantaneously sans the mental math and back and forth team coordination. So unless your housekeeping manager is able to calculate sophisticated optimization algorithms on the fly - they’ll be forever grateful for your decision to invest in ALICE.  The platform is likely to save them time, alleviate stress, make them better at their jobs and allow them to focus on the more strategic decisions within the department. Not to mention, it may even help them fend off some grey hair.   Just considering the time savings alone for each fully turned room, investing in housekeeping software should be a no brainer for bottom line focused hoteliers The fatal mistake that many hoteliers make is that they are so caught up in the day-to-day operations that they miss the bigger picture and the impact that seemingly small boosts to efficiency can have on their bottom line at scale.  A few minutes here and a few minutes there might not seem like a big deal in the moment (especially if you don't have software to track and measure this inefficiency) but that's exactly what makes these types of invisible inefficiencies so dangerous silently sucking profit out of your operation. Let's look at an example.  Imagine you operate a 200 room hotel running 80% occupancy and 2.5 night LOS (length of stay).  Based on those numbers, you are going to be cleaning north of 20,000 rooms each year and that's not even considering turndown service, mid-stay cleanings or special requests. So while shaving 4-minutes off of every one hour room cleaning might not seem like a big deal on its own can actually have a major impact on your hotel's bottom line.  In fact, this one optimization alone has the potential to lead to enough in cost savings to pitch ownership on upgrading your hotel's housekeeping software to the 21st century as a 2-4x ROI initiative as shown in the image below.   The new housekeeping product stays true to ALICE's platform approach creating a one stop shop for running and optimizing your hotel's operations With this robust new housekeeping offering, ALICE’s platform creates a seamless symphony between front of house and back office team members while enabling hotel owners and operators to gain critical visibility into their operations and make more informed decisions that ultimately lead to serious bottom line results.   The day-to-day operation of a hotel rests on hundreds of daily requests both internally between departments, and from guests.  Each of these requests involves subtle critical details, back-and-forth communication, execution and follow-up which is what makes seamless pass-on of critical information to the right team member, with native escalation procedures so essential when it comes to identifying and reducing human error. Equipped with ALICE, a housekeeper can leave a note about damaged equipment which automatically creates a work ticket, assigns the ticket to an engineer and notifies them to address the issue.  A room attendant can quickly tag an item left behind for lost & found by snapping a photo so that the front desk knows which guest to expect a call from in real time. ALICE has done an incredible job converting the daunting complexity of hotel operations into elegant simplicity. What’s also great is that once you start using ALICE, you can say goodbye to all manual tracking, note taking and back and forth communication relays thanks to automated notifications, updates and task routing built directly into the platform.     Is ALICE Housekeeping right for your property? The platform is a fresh take on a department that for most hotels hasn’t changed the way it operates in decades. While housekeeping features like automatic room assignments and real time progress reporting stand on their own as valuable additions to the ALICE product suite, the power truly gets unlocked when the platform is utilized by your whole team: front desk, engineering, concierge and housekeeping. Leveraging the full ALICE platform gives your team the tools they need to operate at peak performance by being completely in sync with each other. The all new ALICE Housekeeping combines the computing power of the cloud with deep operational expertise to simplify hundreds of housekeeping decisions made on property each day, and ensure that the optimal decision is effortlessly made in even the most complex scenarios. For some hoteliers, the intuitive UI and sheer awesomeness of ALICE’s new automatic room assignments feature will be enough to upgrade their hotel's housekeeping software.  But if that's not enough for you then the promise of empowering your team to make better decisions that shrink the single biggest expense on your P&L is likely to do the trick. So the question is, if your team can save time, communicate seamlessly, decrease human error, reduce operating expenses, improve service delivery, foster happier employees and give management the visibility and tools to make better decisions from the comfort of their desk - why wouldn’t you give ALICE a try?     This content was created collaboratively by ALICE and Hotel Tech Report.

Former Accor CIO: Hapi is the platform I was looking for

by
Hotel Tech Report

It’s no secret that hotel technology (and technology in general) changes quickly.  Computing power generally doubles every two years as a result of increases in the number of transistors a microchip can contain - this is what is referred to in the technology world as Moore’s Law.  As processing power increases, innovations that were previously unthinkable quickly become mainstream. This trend impacts hotel tech and our personal tech usage just the same.  3G wireless enabled the smartphone era and without it the iPhone would have never been possible.  4G and LTE enabled us to seamlessly stream content to our mobile devices without WiFi in the same way that battery advancements have helped our devices run more powerful applications.  Snapchat, for example, quite literally couldn’t have existed 10 years ago. 5G will put even LTE to shame. A 5G-enabled smartphone can download the content of an entire DVD (~5GB) in as little as four seconds.  5G will enable services and technologies that are unimaginable to present day consumers. "Stone Age. Bronze Age. Iron Age. We define entire epics of humanity by the technology they use." Reid Hastings, Netflix CEO Given the speed of technological change, it’s important for hoteliers to be on the cutting edge.  Being on the cutting edge doesn’t necessarily mean always being the first to try that shiny new guest experience startup.  To be on the cutting edge, hotels need a foundational infrastructure to adapt quickly as new trends develop. Each individual technology has the power to be transformative but what matters most is setting up your underlying hotel business to quickly disrupt itself before someone else does. "After many years working in technology as a hotelier, I believe that what matters most is a proper open architecture to remain relevant and agile." Laurent Idrac, former Accor CIO Nobody knows this better than Laurent Idrac, the former Accor CIO who was at the helm when the company invested $250M into digital transformation initiatives. Laurent believes that in order to succeed in hospitality, owners and operators need to embrace two simple principles: (1) Stay connected to every facet of your operation (2) Make sure that you can quickly adapt to new trends as they arise Corporate hoteliers often lose their connection to on property operations and even managers can get removed from how their employees live and work on a day-to-day basis.  During his time as CIO at Accor, Laurent made it a priority to work on property for at least 1-week per year shadowing every role within his hotels. This helped him stay in touch with what was happening on the ground and then develop a technology strategy to solve real world business problems that his team was experiencing. During his tenure as Accor's CIO, Laurent became frustrated with the lack of interoperability between systems.  He’d want to try a new technology platform only to learn that it didn’t properly integrate with the core hospitality ecosystem.  This integration problem was such a huge pain point for Laurent as a CIO that when he heard about a company successfully solving the problem - he knew he had to be a part of their journey. "Hapi is the platform I was looking for when I was a hotelier. It allows hoteliers to innovate faster and improve security and data compliance (GDPR, etc.) by centralizing the flows of hospitality data needed to deliver great guest experience.  Rather than following a pattern of point to point integrations, hotel companies can integrate their systems to the Hapi cloud and connect their internal or partner systems to a normalized stream of data, be it reservations, profiles or more." Laurent Idrac, former Accor CIO Laurent left the comfort of his successful c-suite career to join rocketship integrations startup Hapi founded by Luis Segredo and Nikolai Balba. Segredo was previously the founder of Mtech, the creator of HotSOS that was acquired by Newmarket and is now owned by Amadeus.  Balba had similarly founded Libra on Demand which he sold to Newmarket and Libra is now part of Amadeus sales and catering. The combination of these three dynamic leaders has formed the hotel tech dream team.   Laurent has lead technology at one of the largest hotel companies in the world and needless to say there are few people better equipped to solve this problem.  Hapi is poised to change the way hoteliers use and adopt technology. The team has made great strides since Laurent joined on board so we were fortunate to catch him on a boat cruise outside Hapi’s Miami headquarters where we discussed everything from CIO war stories to his vision for the future of the industry.   Tell us about your hospitality career before joining Hapi. I have held many positions during my tenure at Accor in France and in the US: operations, marketing, finance, reservations, F&B, and IT. Even as Group CIO of Accor, I continued to spend time in hotels.  For instance, in July 2017, I spent a full week at the Ibis Paris Bercy Village going through different shifts each day in the restaurant, front desk, engineering, and finally in housekeeping. It is very important to remain connected to the business you are serving. In 1983, I started as an intern in a restaurant during my college years and held many positions in an Argentinian Steakhouse. Once I graduated, I worked as a controller for almost 5 years. I managed reservation call centers worldwide, worked on the new Accor Central Reservation System implementation and finally spent many years in IT in the US and in France. My last position was Accor Group CIO from 2012 to early 2018, and we ran a major digital transformation (~$250M) that transformed the entire company. It’s hard to dislike anything in this industry, but hotels and restaurants are historically very hierarchical organizations with close to military standard operating processes. This does not favor employee initiative to deliver the best guest experience on the spot. Luckily, this is changing. On the technology front, the employees have been neglected: poorly designed applications, too many applications to deal with… To me, the most rewarding part of working in hotels is interacting with customers, ensuring their satisfaction, and anticipating their needs. Sharing this passion with colleagues is even more satisfying.   What was one technology that you couldn't live without in your former role in hospitality? PMS, Fax machine, 56k modem, Palm Pilot, Blackberry, Email, Chat, iPhone, cloud… It’s changing every few years. And every time, it’s impressive how we can become dependent so quickly on a specific tool or device. After many years working in technology as a hotelier, I believe that what matters most is a proper open architecture to remain relevant and agile.   When did you first become interested in hotel tech? Anything that can simplify work and improve quality interests me, and technology is the most obvious place to look at for productivity improvement. I have always been interested in technology. Before joining the hospitality industry, I interned at a computer dealer and enjoyed it a great deal. It was the early age of the IBM PC, Apple 2c & Lisa (Mac’s older sister). During my time in the Army, I was also involved in computer programming. Once I joined the hospitality industry, I had already contracted the technology “virus”.   As a hotelier what was your biggest frustration with technology vendors? Too many vendors have no real knowledge of the hospitality business. Some are great speakers but poor listeners. Some vendors should spend more time reading about our industry to make sure they are relevant. I recommend any vendor to be involved in HTNG and participate in workgroups. Regarding the solutions they are promoting, many are just creating another silo of data without integration into the hospitality ecosystem. Some may have great solutions but with poor design or performance that kills the experience.  It’s really a matter of relevance. Does the vendor really understand what it takes to deliver value to the guest or associate in hospitality? Finally, hospitality is a people’s business, it’s a matter of building trust and delivering upon. Given the aforementioned issues, vendors need to show their understanding of the industry and ultimately deliver new insights. With this comes the trust of decision makers.   What is the most widely held misconception that hoteliers have about technology today? Hoteliers and hotel owners have had trouble embracing the concept that technology needs to be changed to be fresh and relevant, and that it also needs to be used to its utmost.  On one hand, there may be a new shiny solution, but that does not mean that it should be deployed before making the most of what’s already in place. On the other hand, I remember discussing with hotel owners not convinced of the need to upgrade their wi-fi solution that was “only” six years old. Having an open mind, pragmatism and common sense are the best way to approach technology -and this is not only true for technology-   As a hotelier, when did you first become interested in technology? I have always been interested in technology because I have viewed technology as a means to offer a better service to the client and to improve the lives of employees. In all my jobs at Accor, I ended up being involved in every technology project that was around me.  At the beginning, it was in addition to my day job and then it became a full-time position. When I left Accor, I wanted to broaden my attention to industry-wide technology challenges.   What was the most challenging part of moving from hotels into technology? Having hoteliers reply to your emails or returning your calls! Seriously, the most important challenge is to remain true to your values.  My experience tells me what the industry needs and how to deliver it. I have built a reputation over the years that I am not willing to jeopardize to make a buck. Joining Hapi was not an accident. I joined Hapi because I believe it is the best answer to a critical need in our industry with the best approach to move hospitality forward.   What made you want to take the leap as CIO of Accor and want to work on a startup like Hapi? Hapi is the platform I was looking for when I was a hotelier. It allows hoteliers to innovate faster and improve security and data compliance (GDPR…) by centralizing the flows of hospitality data needed to deliver great guest experience.  Rather than following a pattern of point to point integrations, hotel companies can integrate their systems to the Hapi cloud and connect their internal or partner systems to a normalized stream of data, be it reservations, profiles or more.   Hapi offers technology partners, through its marketplace, a way to integrate multiple PMSs (as well as various other hotel systems) with a single development effort. Hapi’s marketplace enables partners to gain exposure to hotels on the platform and enables hotels to tap into other available systems that are connected to Hapi. With already 35 partners, its connectivity to multiple solutions from companies like Oracle, Infor, and Salesforce creates a great deal of potential.   Imagine that you're going to open the hotel of your dreams tomorrow. What kind of hotel would it be? ”Zappy Hotel” will be a midscale boutique hotel, sleek and modern, 100-150 rooms. Fully integrated in its community with large common spaces for locals and travelers, local food, local art. Rooms will have great lighting but also curtains that ensure full night, presence detector to optimize energy and housekeeping. Maybe I will add a small hotel nearby, “the L’Otech hotel”, with 50 rooms without any technology, all rooms will have a Faraday cage to protect guests from electronic waves, it will target electromagnetic hypersensitive guests or serve as a retreat for technology dependents who need to reconnect with real life.   What technology would you leverage at your hotel? Hapi, of course, to be able to seamlessly integrate the various systems and deliver a truly personalized experience thanks to innovative companies -just browse Hotel Tech Report to see how many great solutions are out there.  The PMS will have to be truly intuitive and focus on welcoming the guests not fulfilling administrative tasks. Apple TVs will be in the room and a solid engagement platform like Monscierge to allow a seamless experience. I must specify that Wi-Fi will be outstanding: no password to re-enter, thanks to integration with the hotel CRM, casting capabilities with huge bandwidth. Only technology that is intuitive will be implemented.   What advice do you have for hoteliers who want to work in technology? If your dream is technology, go for it but do not forget where you are coming from.  Capitalize on your experience and keep your service “can-do” attitude. I had IT team members who were night auditors, cook, pastry chef. It took them a long time to feel legitimate in their IT role. My advice is do not doubt yourself and be proud!   What’s one book that changed the way you think about hospitality technology? “Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down”. We are still lacking tech solutions that serve the needs of our employees. Many hotel companies have invested a lot of money to improve “digital” customer experience but not much in helping the employee to deliver a better customer experience. Hotel companies initially fought on the same battlefield as the OTA instead of focusing on the area they have the advantage on, the in-house experience.   What is your favorite hotel in the world and why? I love the architecture and the design of the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, but my favorite hotel is probably the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac in Quebec city that is a major Canadian Landmark. The service is outstanding, and the place carries its 125+ years of history.   What is the most exciting technology you've seen in the hotel tech space that is not built by your own company? Why? I’m a big fan of STAYmyway, a mobile key solution that does need not to replace the old mag-stripe locks and embeds a guest recognition solution with ID matching to increase security and avoid any chargeback dispute. It has a hotel version and a private rental offering. I like them so much I have invested in the company.   What is one thing that most people don't know about you? My wife and I love remodeling houses, from the design to the final product. We are quite proud to present the results to our friends and family and get excited when people think there is no way we did it ourselves!

How to run your hotel retail like Amazon with Impulsify

by
Hotel Tech Report

In 2016, Amazon unleashed a retail revolution: a store without cashiers called Amazon Go. The store uses RFID to automatically calculate what a shopper owes as they leave the store. Without cashiers, the experience is more convenient and far speedier. Amazon Go has now extended its cashier-less experience to 11 stores in 3 cities. As more consumers experience these types of seamless self-serve solutions, from grocery stores to CIBO Express markets at airports, they expect more control and convenience across other interactions. Hotels are beginning to feature these types of experiences in their lobby stores, bringing this convenience and speed to hotel guests.   For hotels, the lobby store is a triple threat: it’s an amenity that guests love, it doesn’t cost too much to implement, and it builds a reliable incremental revenue stream. And, with the right technology like Impulsify, the store doesn’t have to add unnecessary layers of complexity to hotel operations.   What Impulsify does: intelligent retailing tech One of the leaders in hotel pantry management technology for hotels is Impulsify. Aptly named, the technology encourages “impulse buys” with its guest-facing self-service kiosk product - Shop Pop. On the back end, the system simplifies inventory management, ensuring that adding a lobby pantry won’t also add an unreasonable burden on staff. Together, Impulsify is a powerful system for hotel gift shops, pantries, and grab-and-go markets.     Impulsify’s ImpulsePoint technology has a few different features that form its approach to intelligent retailing. There’s both the hardware that guests and staff interact with on a daily basis, as well as software running in the background that optimizes inventory for a specific hotel’s situation. Across both, the experience must be flawless, with intuitive screens that are simple and straightforward to use.   Impulsify powered hotel retail experience With Impulsify hoteliers get: Automated inventory management: Staff use a barcode scanner and a portable tablet to track inventory. By avoiding manual methods, such as pen and paper transferred to a spreadsheet, you reduce errors and increase productivity. Impulsify enables guests to easily grab products from your hotel lobby store and notifies your team when supplies are low.  The platform delivers data that helps your team optimize the products that you’re selling for margin and volume to take the guesswork out of your retail operation. Self-serve kiosks: The Shop Pop guest-facing kiosks eliminate the need for guests to stand in line for payment. Guests select their own items, scan each, and then charge either directly to the room or on a card -- all without staff intervention. Guests can select items at their own pace, and avoid standing in line to pay. Overall, a better experience for everyone: front desk can tend to other needs and guests enjoy speedier service. Impulsify creates a frictionless retail buying experience for guests which means that they buy more from your shop all the while improving their experience on property. Data-driven decisions: Impulsify delivers real time data to help you optimize inventory selection in order to maximize margins and reduce waste. When you start with Impulsify you will see which products are moving off the shelves and which aren’t so you can optimize your selection. The platform makes it easier than ever to experiment with new product assortments and quickly identify top money-makers. Impulsify can even make recommendations about which products to stock your shelves with because they have data from millions of transactions in their hotel ecosystem.   Who Impulsify is for: Hotels of all sizes Given the structure of the category, Impulsify’s core segment is select service hotels with limited on-site amenities. Since restaurants in select service hotels may offer a smaller menu with shorter operating hours than a restaurant in a full-service hotel, these properties benefit from a more tightly-operated “grab and go” market or lobby pantry. Impulsify also works well in the full-service segment, as intelligent retailing technology can be used by any hotel that has a store, gift shop, restaurant or grab and go. For hotels that currently use manual processes to manage and stock inventory, the impact of Impulsify’s automated, data-driven platform can be significant. Given that Impulsify can drive a project from design to grand opening, larger resorts could even engage Impulsify to expand retail offerings in areas of the property that may be more remote. Verified product review on Hotel Tech Report (Impulsify reviews)   5 reasons hoteliers love Impulsify   1. Intelligent strategies for assortment and merchandising. Inventory management is only one part of the equation. The true value of Impulsify comes from how it uses location, guest profiles, hotel size, and hotel type to make smart recommendations about what to stock and how to display it on your shelves. To date, Impulsify has processed over 5 million transactions, giving it a growing database of information so you won't have to rely on instinct or habit to decide what guests prefer. It's like having a 24/7 store manager without the added cost! 2.  Self-pay = PMS integration. The self-service kiosk means that guests don’t have to stand in line to pay. They can pay with a card, or charge it to a room. The system integrates with your property management system  to pull all purchases to the guest’s folio -- a major benefit to the guest experience. With self-pay, you can also place a kiosk in different areas of a property. Perhaps your golf resort would like to include a “grab and go” pantry in another location away from the clubhouse; self-pay makes it all work. 3. Full design services. If your property is undergoing renovations, you may already have an idea of what you’re looking for. Or, you may want to consider using Impulsify’s specialized knowledge base to design the ideal layout for your hotel’s store. Existing stores can also be renovated to better leverage Impulsify’s novel approach to intelligent retailing in hotels. The design services include renderings, elevations, and ADA-compliant construction drawings, as well as project management for the entire process. 4. Automated shopping lists by vendor. Eliminate tedious manual ordering with Impulsify’s automated shopping lists. Once your hotel implements Impulsify, the system monitors sales to automatically build order sheets. This is an incredible time savings, as staff no longer has to be trained on which vendor provides which product. The automation also prevents inaccurate ordering, ensuring that your hotel either holds excessive inventory nor runs out of things that guests want.    5. Planogramming. 5 in 6 Americans admit to impulse buys -- and a planogram likely contributed to these purchases. A planogram is a diagram that specifies where products should be placed to optimize both store space and shelf layout. A planogram uses popularity, preference, and relevancy to place products strategically so that consumers find what they need -- and, of course, make more impulse buys (such as those candy bars by the grocery store checkout)! Planograms also keeps a store organized, which appeals to consumers and makes re-stocking much faster. Most hotels could never afford a full time planogrammer (up to $47,000 a year), so Impulsify leverages its database of hotel purchases to create data backed planogram models for its hotel partners.   Impulsify pricing Pricing varies according to a property’s needs, such as: Number of self-service kiosks Whether or not you need design services Size of the space, as far as number of SKUs managed Number of your properties using the Impulsify technology Length of contract Monthly vs annual billing Based on those factors, you can expect to pay a one-time implementation fee, as well as a flat monthly fee for the software (ranges from $199-249 depending on billing cycle), per the pricing below. Each subscription comes with two USB scanners, ongoing training and support, and account setup. On the hardware side, Impulsify charges some upgrades related to enabling self-pay, as well as for product scanners, kiosk units, and retail sales data analysis to benchmark your retail performance.  Get a custom Impuslify price quote for your hotel here   Conclusions: Should you consider Impulsify? Incremental revenue is a hotelier’s best friend. If you have an existing store, there’s the potential for capturing even more revenue. If you're building a new property, or considering adding a “grab and go” store to your hotel, Impulsify can help you achieve your revenue targets. Results from a study conducted by Impulsify with 12 select-service hotel clients using the technology are astounding: 49% increase in revenue, 220% increase in profit, 62% profit margins.  The results are so good that Impulsify has an ROI guarantee. Also: 20 global chains can’t be wrong! That’s the number of larger brands already using Impulsify to optimize inventories to match shifting guest preferences. Once you add in the self-serve kiosks and mobile inventory management, Impulsify is quite appealing. It reduces the burden on staff while also optimizing profitability of on-property retail. Not to mention a big boost to guest satisfaction. Just like Amazon enabling frictionless checkouts for its customers -- and earning loyalty in the process -- hotels can make a visible impact on its guest experience with a similar approach to giving guests control and convenience.   Read Impulsify reviews from verified hoteliers like you

This is the tech your sales and catering team needs

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Hotel Tech Report

The right tech tools put your sales and catering team in control of their own destinies. Greater productivity and more automation of tedious tasks boosts job satisfaction and gives staff the confidence to do more high-impact work that leads to more revenue. Many solutions now also include predictive analytics to guide efforts automatically, helping staff to pursue the most promising leads effortlessly. The increased effectiveness also builds good will with guests. When staff more ably respond to requests -- with increased accuracy and 3D space visualizations -- event organizers feel much more confident in their venue selections. Best-in-class event management solutions also include strong collaboration features to build trust and boost conversions with event planners and organizers.   Here's a look at the essential tech for your sales and catering team.   Sales platforms & CRMs Sales platforms and CRMs are the backbone of successful sales. The sales team needs to be organized and focused on the most lucrative leads first. A sales platform/CRM will give the sales team a centralized repository for tracking the sales pipeline so that promising leads don’t slip through the cracks. Other leads may need more nurturing over time; a dedicated CRM is a critical piece of this puzzle.   Hotels have one significant choice in this category: to use a specialized hospitality CRM or a major brand that serves all industries. For users of CRMs not specifically focused on hospitality, some feel a disconnect with customer service. It really comes down to whether you prefer a CRM solution with global scale or one targeted to hospitality. Global scale can mean that there are many strong integrations with existing tools, while specialization means that the tool delivers targeted functionality essential to hotels.   Here are the top three sales team CRMs for hospitality, plus one startup to consider.   Salesforce: The most well-known CRM provider enables data-driven sales and marketing through its rich guest profiles and robust engagement tracking. The software is familiar to many, which simplifies on-boarding new staff. There’s a tradeoff there, however: specialized support may be harder to come by.     Amadeus Delphi: Amadeus’ CRM module is accessible on mobile and combines a detailed overview of function space with guest room availability so sales can act quickly and accurately. The Simple module supports hotels with less than 5,000 square feet of space, while the Advanced module extends to multiple properties, making this a solid contender for all kinds of properties.     Startup to consider: Quore Sales is an alternative to the major brand names mentioned above. The tool supports efforts across your entire hotel staff and ensures more transparency, accountability, and collaboration across your entire team -- without any legacy hangups.   Want to learn more about Hotel CRM?   Meetings and events intelligence When it comes to leveraging data to close more group business, it’s ideal to have a ‘second brain.’ There’s only so much capacity during the work day. And often, valuable nuggets are buried deep in the data. Meetings and events intelligence tools push further into the data to find opportunities, trends, and threats that enable sales teams to be more effective. While some other categories here include advanced reporting and detailed analytics, a standalone business intelligence tool often outperforms. The specialized focus means that the tool has a deeper set of data than the average event management software, and can truly unearth new insights that were inaccessible outside of a dedicated events intelligence tool.   Here are a few meetings and events intelligence tools that help you get more out of your data, as well as one startup to consider.   IDeaS SmartSpace: The visual strategy management solution bridges sales and revenue with deep analytics around business trends and performance of a hotel’s event spaces. The tool includes a space utilization tool to illustrate effective use of space, as well as a pricing strategy tab that breaks down conversions by arrival data, team member, booking type, and meeting class.       KNOWLAND: Knowland helps teams achieve their group goals with deep analytics on group booking patterns, market benchmarking, and planner buying behavior. Predictive analytics based on “the industry’s largest historical database of actualized events” accelerate sales cycles by matching inbound requests with the highest likelihood of success   Startup to consider: A winner of the 2019 HotelTechAwards, Get Into More’s strategic tool manages meetings, events, and groups for both branded and non-branded hotel. The tool visualizes data and enables better analysis outside of spreadsheets and reports. For properties building a la carte events/meeting technology, this is a go-to for business intelligence.   Group sourcing & RFPs When sourcing groups, timing is everything. Strong RFP management capabilities ensure that your team is responding to the highest-value RFPs quickly and accurately. One of the biggest struggles faced by event planners is the lack of timely responses to their requests; some even complain that venues don’t even respond. This delay is directly tied to the increase in RFPs received by hoteliers. Reducing the delay is a main benefit for hoteliers that use an RFP management tool that streamlines responses. These tools can pull together responses quickly, and even provide more self-service options to event planners so that hotels have less work to do for each proposal. Group sourcing is also a key part of this category. The major players, such as Cvent, offer hotels a direct line to event planners. These tools are able to match hotels with groups by looking at the characteristics of each group and determine hotels that would be ideal venues. This makes inbound RFPs more likely to be a good fit for hotels, reducing staff labor and increasing the odds of closing group business.     Here are a few group sourcing options, as well as one startup to consider.   Cvent Hospitality Cloud: Cvent’s platform achieves three things: help hotels find buyers through increased visibility, win business with lead scoring, and optimize business with metrics and business intelligence. Reviewers appreciate the ability to set up a profile at the property level that includes a variety of offers, which increase transparency with meeting planners.     Cendyn Sales Suite:  Cendyn also takes the platform approach. Its Sales Suite ties into Cendyn’s other products and centers around its eRFP automation, which reduces RFP response times while increasing the accuracy. Reviewers mention an innovative video chat function gives sales teams a way to differentiate proposals with video content.     Startup to consider: The top reviewed vendor in group sourcing/RFP management is Event Temple, popular with those who don’t want to tie into a larger platform with many bells-and-whistles. Reviewers love its all-in-one approach, which assists with everything from lead prospecting, client retention, email automation, ROI analytics, and performance metrics.   Event planning software Hoteliers use event planning software to manage the operational intricacies of on-property events. From collaborating on table layouts to providing a visual layer for event planners to request proposals, these tools improve the experience for everyone. By providing event visualization capabilities that represent your space and your resource inventory, you can deliver on the meeting experience, plan events faster, easier and more accurately. Ultimately, this makes event planners more confident and secure in their venue selections because they can visualize how the event may look in a particular space. There’s also the issue of uneven transfer of information. In traditional models of managing event sales, there can sometimes be some missed information in the hand-off from sales to catering. Event planning software ensures that hotels deliver exactly what’s been promised to the event organizer. There are fewer questions and stronger accountability. The   These are the top event planning tools, as well as one startup to consider.   Amadeus Hospitality Diagramming: Amadeus’ diagramming tool allows properties to accurately plan events with organizers, planners, and guests. The intuitive interface via the web makes it easy to organize room plans, including a 3D virtual walkthrough of the completed room. Plans can be shared with others for review, feedback, and approval.     Social Tables: Owned by Cvent, the tool has expanded functionality to become integral to many event planners worldwide. The focus on collaboration between planners and properties on both mobile and desktop. The suite also features online sales and marketing solutions, 2D and 3D room diagramming, business intelligence for hotels, and event attendee management.     Startup to consider: Allseated’s scrappy approach appeals to independents and technologists alike: the freemium business model lowers barriers to entry and the immersive 3D walkthroughs of specific events is a huge bonus to event planners and guests.   Where should you invest right now? Sales and catering technology can transform the way your hotel approaches group business. With the right tools, your sales team can prospect more effectively and your catering team can deliver knockout events that make guests sing their praises. While this category of technology can be a lot to sift through, focus on the functionality with the biggest bang for your buck. If you already have a CRM (and your team actually uses it daily), then it may be best to focus on event planning software and diagramming solutions that give event planners a way to visualize their events. However, if your sales team isn’t using a CRM yet, now may be the time to invest in a holistic solution that provides both sales tools and event management. The most underinvested area within this space lies in meetings and events intelligence solutions.  Such solutions provide near instant ROI and should be considered by every type of hotel that has a decent group business mix. With a comprehensive capability at the heart of your group sales and event delivery operation, you’ll see a massive improvement in productivity, revenue, and client satisfaction.

In the hotel industry price is king and reputation is queen

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Hotel Tech Report

It’s not uncommon for tech companies in hospitality to start as B2C brands (business to consumer) then pivot to service hotel businesses instead.  Triptease launched as a TripAdvisor alternative before pivoting to become a direct booking platform.  Similarly, Munich based TrustYou started as a hotel booking website that aggregated reviews from around the web to provide a single trust score for properties around the world before becoming a leading guest feedback and reputation management platform. Back in 2008, TrustYou founder Ben Jost noticed that online review scores had the ability to make or break hotel performance.  He also noticed that reviews were being spread to more and more websites like TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, Yelp and Expedia. Jost and co-founder Jakob Reigger hypothesized that if they could consolidate these reviews to provide travelers with a holistic view of a hotel by creating a proprietary aggregate score that they’d be able to leverage their neutral position to become a dominant booking platform. TrustYou’s booking platform experienced some success but Jost and his team noticed that thousands of hotel managers were coming to the site because they wanted to monitor their review performance across multiple channels - this was their ‘ah-hah’ moment.  With this insight, TrustYou pivoted from a B2C model into B2B (business to business) and the firm’s growth exploded. “I remember 5 years ago we had one slide in our sales deck showing a king and a queen on a throne. The headline said “when price is king, reputation is queen.” Maybe it will take another 5 years until we see those both equally presented, but I definitely see it in the future.” ~Benjamin Jost TrustYou has since doubled down on reviews and even demonstrated a commitment to reviews in it’s own business winning 2nd place in the 2019 HotelTechAwards beating out more than 100 hotel tech peers.  Everything that TrustYou does tests back to the fundamental question of whether a product or service will enable hotel clients to achieve higher review scores by delivering better service to guests.  That mission has resonated with hoteliers around the world and in 2017 alone the Company analyzed more than 100 million guest reviews and collected more than 4 million survey responses. TrustYou’s guest feedback and reputation platform consists of four main components that work in tandem to gather feedback, manage collection at scale and leverage that feedback to drive more business: Review marketing: Market guest reviews via a website widget to increase hotel website conversion Guest messaging: Communicate with guests before and during their stay to ensure a great experience then send surveys afterwards to increase review volumes and rankings Guest surveys: gather feedback from guests after their stay to maintain guest satisfaction scores Reputation management: Real time insights into review scores and online feedback across a variety of channels Reviews are critical to the survival of any hotel today and Benjamin Jost believes that trend is only accelerating.  We sat down with him to learn about his vision for TrustYou and to get his perspective on the evolution of reputation management in the broader hotel tech marketplace.   What was your background prior to starting TrustYou? After studying engineering, I worked for two Venture Capitalists in Paris and Munich. Then I decided to go on an 8 month trip around the world, and when I came back, I started working in corp dev / M&A for a renewable energy company. I think TrustYou ultimately was born from my urge to do something on my own.   Tell us how you founded TrustYou. My co-founder and old friend Jakob Riegger always had his own businesses from the age of 18, and from the outside, it always looked so cool to be your own boss. I think after working for various bosses in various types of organizations, I wanted to do something on my own, and when Jakob also simultaneously wanted to start something new, we brainstormed what we could do together. So the idea of creating a business together with my co-founder came before the actual idea of TrustYou. We started as a B2C company, so actually, our very first customers were users who heard about our site and used it. I know all my family used it because I told them to! But it wasn’t enough, and we were a typical underfunded, German startup and had no idea how much it would cost to actually compete in the B2C world of travel. So while running out of money we realized that more and more hotels were using our website and were looking up their reputation scores and reviews from across the web on our site. Of course they never booked their own hotel so we didn’t earn any money. But that was the starting point of our B2B business. I think it’s much easier to earn money in B2B than B2C so kudos for all the B2C companies who succeed in this world.   Wow, I didn’t realize that TrustYou started as a consumer facing brand. Can you talk about the B2B business today? We believe deeply in the power of feedback to build a better product and offer a better service. The only currency that counts to achieve that goal is feedback from your customers. Therefore, hotels need to find a product that helps them collect, understand and market guest feedback (reviews, surveys, messaging) for every customer, via every channel, at any time. I still strongly believe that a hotel’s reputation is more important than their room price and for sure a more sustainable competitive strategy. The TrustYou dashboard gives hoteliers real time insights to improve their businesses Who is one mentor that has really helped you scale TrustYou? Many people helped me over time. One mentor who was there from the very beginning until today is Philip Wolf, founder of Phocuswright, who still sits on TrustYou’s board of advisors. What makes him important to me, next to his great character, is his unvarnished opinion about tough questions and topics. You can surround yourself with people saying yes to everything or with people who point to facts that can be really are uncomfortable to tackle, e.g. cutting costs, hiring people you deem unnecessary at first, etc. And he doesn’t let go until you tackle them, which I appreciate. I don’t always like it, but I always appreciate it.   What's one commonly held belief that most hoteliers believe to be true that’s actually false? I think the one I most commonly hear is “I know my guests, I don’t need software to tell me”. Even if you are the type of hotelier who listens to their guests without a survey or reputation management tool, I definitely know you don’t measure any KPIs, track your progress over time, share feedback effectively with your team, or know if you’ll improve from where you stand today. Additionally, you still don’t respond to online reviews, especially the negative ones, and you don’t reach the average guest by sending them your own survey, your own questions. Technology does all of that for you, truly helping you listen to your guests, and win against the competition.   What's the most surprising thing you've learned about scaling technology into hotels? Scaling a business in hospitality requires more manpower than what I would have expected when we started. In the beginning, I thought we would be a self-service technology that hotels would just buy, login to, and use. But we quickly learned that the business would require not only our tooling but also our expertise. We have truly become a service company, as well as a software company, and that requires talented people to support the hoteliers. We’re happy to be an extension of our client’s team as their dedicated feedback experts.   Are there 1 or 2 companies that have been a particularly good partners for you? We partner with hundreds of different fantastic companies, so it wouldn’t be fair to just name one or two. However, what I would like to see in our industry are more open APIs and more simple connections.  I think this would be very beneficial for our common customers, the hotels, but many tech companies don’t operate that way. I wish every tech company in our space would have a section on their website “API for developers” where you can develop solutions on top of their APIs and widgets. I am pushing my company to be open in that way because it just becomes much easier for partners to work with us and new things can be created. For example, I would still love to see rate management companies correlate their data with our data. We have the APIs, just plug them in.   I would want every rate management company, every IBE, every website builder, every PMS, every CRM to use our APIs and products to build a better product. Review content plugged into different hospitality solutions is already happening on a small scale, but not everyone out there knows how easy and convenient it is and what kind of value add it can provide to their own solutions. We have an entire team dedicated to those needs.   Where do you see TrustYou in 5-years? I want us to power feedback not only from guests but from other stakeholders as well. I believe we will enable feedback and communication between hotels and guests using messaging apps like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and SMS instead of email. To help service our clients, I would want our platform to act as an AI solution and suggest actions to hotels based their data instead of just presenting it. I also think feedback will move from “3 days after stay” to “real time”. And I want TrustYou to spearhead those trends.   How will the online reputation management category change in the next 5-years? I hope to see guest feedback become a “must-have”, where it belongs to a hotel stack like a website or internet booking engine. More and more hotels will have figured out that with a 4.1/5 overall score they can offer a $100 room rate, but with a 4.6/5 score they can charge $150. I remember 5 years ago we had one slide in our sales deck showing a king and a queen on a throne. The headline said “when price is king, reputation is queen.” Maybe it will take another 5 years until we see those both equally presented, but I definitely see it in the future.   Does TrustYou have any new products or feature launches that you're particularly excited about? We just launched a new restaurant analytics product (May 2019) that is seamlessly connected to the hotel’s toolset, so for all hotels that run a restaurant in parallel, they can more easily manage their online reputation. Additionally, we have combined our Analytics and Survey with our Messaging product together into one platform so that as a hotel you can manage pre-stay, onsite, or post-stay communication and feedback from one place. Another big launch is coming towards the end of 2019, but I can’t talk about it just yet. Stay tuned!   What's one piece of advice that you have for any entrepreneurs looking to get into the hotel tech space? When seeking funding and putting together your business plan, calculate an amount you think you need, and then double it!   What is the best book you've read lately? Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman. It’s written by Reid Hoffman, founder of Linkedin and Paypal.     What is your favorite podcast My favorite “podcasts” these days are live interactions with my children. Very funny. Topics change every time. No scripts. I love it.   What is one thing that most people don't know about you? I’m very approachable, and I think anyone who has ever reached out to me knows that. I’m an open book. So if you have questions or need information, I’m always happy to hear it and respond back.