Mail-related check fraud has been rising since last August, according to the Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group at Georgia State University, which has been tracking the trend. It warns that criminals have a pretty easy time when it comes to getting their hands on your checks. In KPMG's survey of senior risk executives, 67% say their companies have experienced external fraud in the past 12 months, and 38% expect the risk of fraud committed by external perpetrators to somewhat increase in the next year. "Some of them simply go to your home mailbox and take the mail you left for the post office to pick up," said David Maimon, an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University and Director of the Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group. "Others simply go to the blue boxes with the keys that they were able to steal from some of the mailmen out there, empty the boxes, and get the checks that some of us send. That's how easy it is." The cybersecurity group found an average of 1,325 stolen checks up for sale every week during October 2021. This was more than double what it saw in September when the average was 634 a week and triple the 409 average in August 2021. More recent numbers indicate an even greater rate of incidents. M3, the hospitality sectors #1 Reporting & Accounting Software is hearing from more and more customers that are experiencing check fraud that ranges from checks being replicated or physically altered somewhere between when the check is issued, mailed, received, or redirected. The company’s goal is to minimize the potential of hospitality companies becoming a victim of check fraud, as has recommended the steps below be taken in order to mitigate the risk of check fraud. Implement Positive Pay with Name Verification. Positive Pay is a banking feature designed to help business owners protect themselves against fraudulent checks being written on their account. Once you give your bank details for each check you write, the bank verifies that your information matches the information on checks presented to the bank before it processes the payment. If any items don’t match up, your bank flags them and sends them to you for review. You can then decide if you want to accept or decline the payment. Implement an ePay system, which incorporates ACH and Virtual Credit Card (VCC) technology. ePay systems provide added security against fraudulent activities; especially when checks are eliminated and is easy to set-up and easy to use. It also adds efficiencies to your reconciliation process. In addition, ePay improves overall employee accountability. Complete Your Bank Reconciliations DAILY. Merely checking for similar numbers on the general ledger and bank statements is not good enough and is not offering the most protection against fraud. If you are only reconciling weekly or monthly, the horse may be out of the barn by the time irregularities or fraud is identified. Daily bank reconciliation allows you to nip bank errors in the bud as early as possible, leads to fewer issues and fewer errors, avoids working with outdated information, and helps track daily cash flow providing you the insight you need into the cash flow and spending habits of the property or corporate entity. If you are not reconciling daily, your books may not always equal reality. We are living in a world where, unfortunately, fraud is common and increasing at an alarming rate. Be sure you protect yourself and your company. If you currently are lacking the tools to keep your accounts safe, seek out assistance from your software partners to build a fraud prevention strategy.
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The hospitality industry is rooted in offering guest-centric, high-touch experiences delivered by caring and courteous staff. In the wake of the pandemic, however, guest expectations have shifted, with 88 percent of customers expecting companies to accelerate digital initiatives that reduce the need for physical interactions. Your guests no longer want to wait in crowded lobbies to ask a question, touch laminated room service menus to place an F&B order, or flip through paper compendiums to find local activities. This shift is causing hotels and casinos across the globe to seek out ways to provide personalized, high-touch customer service in a touchless way. Hotels that wish to stay competitive must implement a new generation of interactive digital technologies that address the challenge of augmenting the hotel experience with relevant information and offerings without requiring physical touch. Quick Response (QR) codes, Near Field Communication (NFC), and location-based beacon technology have entered the scene, allowing properties to drive new contactless channels of hotel and guest interaction. These solutions not only help you deliver a high level of service that enhances guest stays but drives fresh streams of incremental revenue as well.
Waking up on a Monday morning and thinking it’s still the weekend is disappointing, but have you ever headed into a sold-out Friday night at your hotel only to end up with 83% occupancy because of no-shows and cancellations? As a hotel general manager or revenue manager, nothing dulls the shine of a holiday weekend like last-minute wash. You’ve worked so hard to layer in reservations to hit that perfect full house, but at the last second you find yourself scrambling to capture more bookings. How can you avoid this situation? The answer lies in your overbooking strategy. Although it might sound counterintuitive, overbooking can be the key that helps you unlock higher RevPAR – while minimizing negative guest experiences and reviews. In this article, we’ll explain what exactly overbooking is, how you can launch your own strategy, and what benefits and risks come with overbooking. By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to start overselling on your peak demand days.
Over 3 million employees use HotSchedules around the world. Let’s explore how employees interact with the software as part of their work routines. Checking the schedule With HotSchedules in place, the days of checking a paper schedule posted outside the employee locker rooms are long gone. Instead, HotSchedules takes your organization’s schedules into the modern age with a fully responsive digital interface, so it works well on any device. An employee can log into HotSchedules on their smartphone to see their schedule at any time, and they can see who else is working at the same time. The app even has a Google Calendar integration, so staff can add their work schedule to their personal agenda. Employees don’t need to worry about checking the schedule frequently to catch any shift changes; they’ll get a notification if a schedule change affects them. Modifying the schedule Sometimes an employee can’t work the shift they’re assigned to, or maybe they want to work some extra hours. With HotSchedules, it’s easy for employees to swap shifts, request time off, release shifts, or pick up shifts that need coverage. Employees can complete all of these actions within the HotSchedules app; there’s no need for employees to email you or wait to make changes until the next time they’re working. For example, if an employee wants to swap shifts, they simply select the two shifts they want to exchange, and the app sends a request to the employee with whom they want to swap and an approval request to the manager. Modifications and requests can be submitted at any time, and the manager can approve or deny the requests whenever works best for you. Punching in and out In addition to using HotSchedules to manage their future shifts, employees can clock in and out in the HotSchedules app on their mobile device. The app uses geolocation to only allow employees to punch in if they’re actually on-site, and the timeclock is only available within 5 minutes of an employee’s shift start time.
Not able to make it to Orlando to check out the latest innovations at HITEC? Not to worry, Hotel Tech Report has you covered. Our team reviewed dozens of new launches to create a curated list of the most exciting innovations in the market and synthesize them into key market trends.
One thing modernity has changed for good is how much customers have become impatient, expect a personalized experience, and have less tolerance for errors. The immediacy of social media and mobile access to real-time information have altered guests’ behavior into expecting to be answered on-demand no matter the stage of the buying journey they are in—what Google calls “micro-moments”. The alarming number of customer service channels is entirely new to hoteliers, while their response time window has shrunk more and more. Not to mention how previous interactions become a predicament as agents have to juggle different channels, trying to grasp some context to ensure guests feel heard and understood. This need to shorten the booking journey and have a broader view of simultaneous customer demands has brought omnichannel solutions to the table. That said, to better understand how omnichannel service software can change the game for hotels, we first need to think about the multichannel strategy. What is the difference between omnichannel and multichannel? Email and phone calls are not the only means of communication customers use anymore. Travelers want practicality and to reach hotels no matter the channel they are using at the moment. To be where travelers are, it’s in hotels’ best interests to diversify how people can find them—this is a multichannel strategy. But once hotels multiply their communication channels, how can they handle simultaneous incoming requests from Instagram, website chat, Facebook, Google Messages, and WhatsApp, for example? An omnichannel dashboard is the answer. Multichannel strategies have agents jumping between channels, trying to prioritize a constant flow of requests and questions. An omnichannel solution centralizes all channels into a unified inbox, while also keeping data shared between channels. Why is omnichannel communication so relevant for hotels? When you broaden your reach with new communication channels, chances are you’ll be available when travelers are excited about the possibilities of a stay, ensuring more bookings coming your way. It is no coincidence that companies with strong omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89% of their customers. On the profiting side, marketers using three or more channels in a campaign earned a 494% higher order rate than those using a single-channel campaign. Google research shows that of all leisure travelers on smartphones, 69% search for travel ideas during spare moments, and nearly half of those travelers go on to book their choices through an entirely separate channel. Those are countless potential guests which hotels can reach by being present on different channels. Innovation to save the day in the thick of hospitality staff shortage An omnichannel solution has a more important than ever role to play for hotels. The present record shortage of hospitality staff the world over has hoteliers struggling to do all they can to prioritize tasks and ensure travelers don't feel the effect of yet another crisis. That is why this technology comes as a win-win. It creates unified workflows which catalyze a seamless experience for customers. It helps hotels drive the revenue they so desperately need right now. Additionally, an omnichannel strategy ensures managers assign the right agent to handle a certain segment or campaign. This way, you can distribute incoming queries and ensure that more experienced agents handle the most profitable opportunities. Why is omnichannel communication so relevant for travelers? American customer service expert, Shep Hyken, advocates for a seamless experience and explains how having two or ten channels makes any business a multichannel provider. Rather, it is only when channels are interconnected that the omnichannel experience takes place. A report on the multichannel demands of customers showed that 63% of customers prefer a choice of channels to contact customer service, and that 50% of customers expect representatives to have access to previous interactions with the company. An omnichannel service platform ensures all communication channels are unified into a single window. Agents can not only see all the different channels in a macro view, but they can also track the chat history for every guest, ensuring a seamless experience. In practical terms, instead of accessing several tabs where one shows all incoming DMs on Instagram, another shows emails, and yet another all WhatsApp API messages, etc., agents have a broader view of each customer journey: Here is Mr. Smith, and he made first contact through Facebook messages two weeks ago, then he asked a question using the web chat, and now he is ready to book using email. The Takeaway Even if a traveler’s first touchpoint happened weeks in advance, a different attendant can take over without making them repeat themselves. Omnichannel communication service is a rock-solid way to five-star customer service. When agents are there to answer, travelers don't feel frustrated. In an industry where quality and timing are of the essence and workers are few, adopting an omnichannel solution has put many hotels ahead of their competitors. This approach creates a sense of continuity for guests and works as an extra pair of hands for agents, organizing the workflow distribution for hotels. As for hoteliers, this truly gets them more bookings out of less work by providing their teams with an optimized workflow that can clear out their plates to work on the prospects ready to make hotels run at full capacity.
While technology obsessed consumers have grown accustomed to clamoring around big splashy launches like the latest iPhone or social media app, innovation in the hotel technology space is more nuanced, often requiring a refined eye to understand them. This complexity leads to a unique challenge for hospitality tech buyers and users: how do you spot innovation in hospitality? Cutting-edge hotel tech rarely makes the headlines, and you won’t see star-studded launch events in this ecosystem. Instead, innovation in hospitality is won in the long game. In this article, we’ll study real-world examples that show how Duetto, a leading revenue management system, ideates and prioritizes product changes, then develops and rolls out new features via the Cloud to help their customers gain readiness for rapidly changing market conditions.
Guests’ satisfaction has been dependent on the work of hotel employees for a long time. However, hotels may not have enough staff (a common phenomenon today) or they may encounter understandable staff limits (people are not reachable nonstop or can be slow, etc.). This can lead to problematic situations such as check-in queues or insufficient communication with guests. Therefore, the dependency of guest satisfaction on the performance of the staff only may not be the best possible solution for a hotel. Especially nowadays, when there is an option to supplement the work of hotel employees with available systems. Mobile applications, software designed to improve the care that guests receive in hotels, are a typically great support for the work of staff. But it’s not just about mobile applications, the story of service improvements begins (traditionally) with PMSs. PMS and third-party systems Several systems are available for hotels. However, in order for their operation to develop thanks to the use of these systems, it is necessary to connect them “to solid foundations”, i.e. a good PMS. Not only because PMS simplifies hotel administration and increases its efficiency, but also because it gathers lots of information that third-party systems need to use. That’s why, for the good of the hotels, the responsibilities of PMSs should include “openness”, which means they should be enabling integrations with third-party software. But not all PMSs work that way. In many places, it is a standard even today to use PMS which does not support integration. Such a hotel then becomes a “prisoner” of its own system and deprives itself of the possibility to move its services forward. On the other hand, this situation is ideal for PMS itself, it keeps the client in hand and does not let third-party software in. At the same time, the PMS tries to provide everything the hotelier needs through its native functions. But that will never work, PMSs cannot do everything. On the other hand, what they can (and must) be capable of, is collecting data and providing it to integrated systems. Quality comes first Not using the data provided by PMS limits the hotel’s potential and profits. Problems may arise in various places – dissatisfied guests may wait a long time for check-in, staff may spend endless hours manually entering and processing data or sending emails to guests. But we can solve or even prevent all such problems today – thanks to mobile applications for example. Mobile applications complement (or substitute) the work of hotel staff. Just as hotel staff, mobile applications are guests’ company during the hotel trip, they only differ in the sense that some of them are “with the guests” throughout the whole stay whereas some accompany them just through part of it. But why does the choice of PMS matter when it comes to mobile applications? Because the quality of the integration is of the essence. The more features the mobile application has, the more data needs to be transmitted and the more complex integration has to be built. It is still true that PMSs must be an open platform (providing APIs and integrating third-party systems) but that’s just half of the story. They must also be able to build complex integrations, i.e. exchange data with complex systems such as AeroGuest, a mobile application that is with guests from booking to check-out. The amount of data this system needs is huge. The quality of integration is crucial. One small step for a hotelier, one giant leap for a hotel As was said, the mobile application may accompany guests during part of their stay or take care of them from the journey’s start to its end. The choice of specific application(s) for a hotel depends on the hotelier – whether he wants to enable online check-in, install mobile locks on doors, automate communication with guests, increase revenue by supporting upselling, etc. In the category of systems that are with the guest “from start till the end”, we can find applications such as AeroGuest, which is a system that allows online check-in/out, online payment for a hotel room, an upgrade of hotel room via mobile phone, upselling or installation of mobile locks. The second category consists of applications (GuestJoy, MyStay, Upsellguru), which focus on part of the journey of hotel guests, that means for example on automation of communication with guests, enabling online check-in, or increasing the effectiveness of upselling. But if we distinguish the systems only according to how big part of the guest’s journey they can take care of, we remain too superficial. It is important to look deeper, for example, at the level of automation that various applications bring to hotels. There is a huge difference between online check-in meaning only pre-filling in the information or meaning taking care of the whole process via mobile phone (and thus not having to come to the front desk upon arrival) or between having to pick up a door key/card or not (and thus going straight to the room after arrival). Guests can also spot a difference between the possibility of ordering extra services or upgrading the room directly through the mobile application and the situation in which the application just informs guests and they have to write an email or ask someone in order to get some of the available services. It depends only on the hotelier which solution he picks. But whatever his preferences, the way to open the hotel to third-party systems must begin with the right choice of PMS. Its selection is a giant leap for the entire hotel, as it is the basis for the proper functioning of third-party systems that then take staff work and guests’ experience to the next level. That brings us back to the beginning. The more complex the application, the better integration a hotel needs. If a hotelier chooses the right PMS, his only limitations when picking mobile applications are his own preferences.
The hotel sector has grown used to absorbing the blows as the pandemic has thrown punch after punch in their direction. Yet now, as the rather choppy recovery progresses, inflation could well be the blow that lands the knock-out punch to some in the sector. For those with hotels situated in areas with strong tourism demand, there has been the chance to increase ADR, sometimes with the added benefit of high occupancy, to help soften the impact of wage and cost inflation, but for those dependent upon business travel, the surge in demand is yet to materialise, meaning many remain on the ropes. Inflation - and the added spectre of stagflation - is greatly feared by both economists and the wider population alike. For those with debt, however, there at least used to be a silver lining as the loss of value in money has a corresponding effect on any debt. This is a particular favourite among some governments, who have been known to use inflation to reduce their borrowings and get out of periods of high spending intact. But you can go too far. If inflation starts to run away, the borrowing to deal with it can outpace any reduction in value, and then a spiral begins, which is hard to break. Away from the macro, is the mechanism traditionally used to control inflation in the form of increasing interest rates, leading to significantly higher debt coverage - a negative sting in the tail. The hotel sector has been through a phase of borrowing just to stay afloat. While we saw Marriott International and Hilton using their loyalty programmes to raise money to build up cash cushions, for the rest of the sector, government support and additional borrowing were the route to staying afloat. With supply chain issues, inflation, and war in Ukraine grabbing governments’ attention, supporting the hotel sector while it tries to move towards stabilised trading is not a popular issue. Many loans are now being demanded back by governments eager to balance their books. Of those who looked to the private sector for loans and investment, many are finding money taken to save a business is harder to pay back than they had hoped, hindered as they are by inflationary pressures and increased debt costs. In addition, lenders have continually adjusted their risk appetite, leading to pressure to enforce covenants. Hotels are finding that what kept them afloat may now sink them as they find ever-decreasing volumes of cash available to meet such demands, let alone service debt, which could drive an acceleration of loan-to-own scenarios as well as an increase in transactions in general. A critical additional factor is the impact this scenario has in terms of the valuation methodology applied, and the increased potential for the sort of downward pressure on asset values many investors anticipated (and in some cases hoped) would lead to forced sales before now. Although the focus on the top lines is necessary for a speedy recovery, it’s recommended asset managers and hotel owners re-run their projections: evaluate the inflation impact on their 10-year projection, and clearly estimate the risk of a high debt ratio on the discounted cash flow. It is important not to misjudge the inflation threat until it is too late. Although tempting, it is important not to play down rising prices and concentrate only the recovery efforts on the operating departments. It is essential to evaluate the potential exposure below GOP and value the risk of rising inflation and cost of debt. Although hotel value is holding up, for now, the current market conditions will soon impact hotel valuations. Combined with the geopolitical instability, the situation may worsen rapidly. The sector is not yet in desperate straits. The latest study from HotStats, for April, reported: “The higher cost for goods is not yet wrecking traveller appetite. Despite record gas prices, ballooning airfares and crippling inflation roiling the globe, hotel performance remained widely steady, if not getting better, in April, with increases in both the top and bottom line.” The M&A market is, however, ticking up. 2021 was a year of strong recovery for European hotel transactions. A total of €16.4bn  worth of hotels changed hands, representing 322 individual transactions, 498 hotels and 79,000 rooms. Institutional investors and private equity investors were the largest net buyers as they rushed to deploy capital which had been hard to move at the height of the pandemic. 2022 is expected to show increased volumes. Lenders who have been lenient so far are expected to lose their patience, and hotels are forecast to sell rather than refinance. Some owners have been down on the canvas but bounced back due to pent up tourism demand; some cling to the ropes in the hope that improved trading will ensure few fire sales; but investors are still holding out for a bargain, and many are poised, and ready to pick up those who are forced to throw in the towel.
At each stage of the guest journey, hotels should maximize their potential to draw users’ attention, make them opt for them, and, finally, make a booking. A booking engine can cover all three if it meets a number of criteria. In this post, we go into detail on three types of Booking Engine elements: the ones that inspire confidence, convert, and encourage spending more on a stay.