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Hotel Bed Banks: Everything You Need to Know in 2023

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Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Wondering what bed banks are? Or perhaps you’re doing some research before committing to a wholesale contract or a new agreement with travel agents. Bed banks are an important distribution avenue for many hotels, especially large hotels or properties in seasonal markets. But how exactly do they work? And what benefits can they bring to hotels? In this article, we’ll explain what bed banks are and introduce you to some of the largest ones. We’ll also walk through some key differences between wholesale reservations and your standard transient bookings. By the end of this article, you can decide whether working with a bed bank makes sense for your hotel and how you can take advantage of wider marketing reach and achieve higher RevPAR by partnering with one.

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How to Easily Manage and Distribute Your Hotel Content Across Demand Partners Using Content.AI

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Prior to the pandemic, travel bookings were abundant which led to many hoteliers becoming complacent in their distribution strategies.  As bookings dried up, hotels needed to get more creative about how and where they generated demand from.  Many of the savviest hoteliers began optimizing their content across 3rd party distribution channels to drive more visibility and increase conversion by standing out from the compset - but with so many channels out there the task has become unmanageable (especially with labor shortages).Managing digital content, like amenity information, descriptions, and photos, is an important component of any online hotel content distribution strategy. And far too often, it gets deprioritized in favor of what seem like more urgent tasks.Great content is the key to travel and accommodations bookings.  All else equal, hotels who display the best and most accurate content to 3rd party channels will receive the most bookings.  Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia credits the firm’s early success to a strategic shift in content distribution.  After the startup implemented a strategy to display better content, Airbnb doubled it’s revenue within a week.  While your hotel may not double revenue in a week like Airbnb, there are massive gains to be had by optimizing your content distribution tools and strategy.What if we told you that there’s a way to optimize your content using automated tools without needing to hire a team or take hours out of your already slammed schedule?In this article, we’ll explain why it’s so important to maintain correct, complete, and consistent content, and explore how Content.AI by RateGain addresses  the common pain points of content distribution. 

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What is Rate Parity in the Hotel Industry?

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

If you’ve sold rooms through online travel agencies, chances are you’ve received a stern email from at least one of those channels alerting you about some rooms at your hotel available on a competitor OTA or on your hotel's booking engine at a lower rate.  OTAs like Expedia often lock hotels into a guarantee that they will never offer a lower price on other channels - including their own!Maybe the email to your revenue management team said you were “in breach of rate parity clauses,” but what does hotel rate parity really mean? If you want to get the most out of your third-party distribution partnerships while still driving direct reservations, you’ll need to understand the ins and outs of rate parity to be able to maximize both sources of business. In this article, we’ll explain exactly what rate parity means, how it impacts your channel management strategy, why it matters, and how you can continue to build your direct channel while maintaining a good standing on the OTAs.

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Impala’s New Contracting Product, Agile Distribution Strategy and the Future of Travel

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Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Top hospitality innovators have become agile in every facet of their businesses.  Top hotel marketers are diversifying digital spend to ensure the lowest possible cost per acquisition, the best sales reps are becoming less reliant on concentrated corporate business by building strategies to attract diversified pools of small group business, and the best revenue managers are constantly seeking new ways to experiment with their distribution mix to optimize for profitability.In this article, we’re going to focus on a new tool that helps agile revenue managers cut out distribution middlemen and access new demand channels that were previously too expensive and time-consuming to experiment with.We’ll explain how Impala’s new contracting product is empowering forward-thinking commercial leaders to capture new guest segments and take control of their distribution strategies.  The best part? You can list your hotel free today. Why Hospitality Leaders Should Bring Agile Methodology into Their Commercial OperationsComplacency has historically led to the death of once-great tech companies like Xerox and Kodak.  When successful companies like Amazon and Facebook grow, they work hard to retain their original startup mentality and never get comfortable with the status quo. They’re always questioning what they do (and why they do it) and they’re constantly searching for new opportunities or more efficient ways to operate. They test tons of new ideas to quickly cut failed experiments and double down on successful ones. This operational framework is called “agile management.”Iterative or agile life cycles are composed of several iterations or incremental steps towards the completion of a project. Iterative approaches are frequently used in software development projects to promote velocity and adaptability since the benefit of iteration is that you can adjust as you go along rather than following a linear path. One of the aims of an agile or iterative approach is to release benefits throughout the process rather than only at the end. At the core, agile projects should exhibit central values and behaviors of trust, flexibility, empowerment, and collaboration.Impala allows revenue managers to experiment with tons of new channels at very low cost: both financial cost, since you will be in full control of your discounts and commission rates, and time, since Impala eliminates the need for legwork like contracting connectivity setup, and extensive training.With Impala, your hotel can try a variety of new channels that target different guest segments. Eventually, this cycle of creating hypotheses, connecting to new channels, measuring success, and finding takeaways will become a habit and allow your hotel to identify new pockets of demand with zero upfront cost and minimal time invested. How Impala Enables Commercial Leaders to Implement Agile MethodologyThere are millions of parties globally who sell hotel rooms but don’t have access to proprietary inventory.  Historically, these kinds of platforms have had two key ways to sell hotel inventory: OTA affiliate networks (e.g. Expedia Affiliate network) and bed banks.  Impala has built a platform that empowers hotels to connect directly with distribution partners.Impala’s platform is designed to provide hoteliers with the ability to decide where (and when) exclusive rates are shown in a scalable but controlled way.  If a hotel wanted to connect with a new supplier like TripFactory or National Park Express before Impala, they’d need to reach out to that supplier and gather information then decide (using limited information) whether the supplier could generate enough demand to warrant an exclusive rate.  The majority of smaller travel websites lack the bandwidth to take calls or emails from individual hotels so it’s almost a non-starter but even assuming they could - it could take weeks or months of back and forth before ever forging a partnership and drafting a contract.These smaller travel websites and apps typically don’t have the capability to build up their own hotel supply so it’s unlikely that a partnership like this could even be created in the first place even if the entire prospecting, negotiation and execution phase went perfectly.In short, it’s nearly impossible for hotels today to strike up direct relationships with smaller more niche distribution partners. Even when they can, it can take weeks or months for a hotel to strike up a new distribution partnership with a niche travel provider. In order to recreate the level of demand generated by Booking or Expedia, a hotel would need to successfully repeat this process hundreds or even thousands of times which is obviously not a commercially viable strategy.This dynamic has put hotels in a position where they cannot be agile and test new distribution channels which has consequently inflated third party commissions on OTAs and created massive rate parity issues due to a multitude of online resellers.With Impala, this whole prospecting, negotiation and execution process is streamlined meaning that a hotel can add new distribution partners like TripFactory and National Parks Express with minimal work and no upfront cost.Travel platforms like TripFactory create proposals with parameters such as commission structure, date availability and discounted rate.  With Impala, hotels can offer unique experiences like room upgrades or welcome cocktails instead of or in addition to discounts. They can select specific hotels within the Impala platform. Hotels then get notified of new offers from relevant distribution partners in real-time. When they see interesting proposals from distribution platforms, they can then either accept them or propose new terms in just a few clicks. No contracts or even email conversations required. Agile Leaders Will Thrive in the Next Generation of TravelThe growth of global travel over the last century has been staggering. In 1950, 25 million tourists travelled the globe and by 2018 that number exploded to 1.8B. It’s easy to see why the hospitality industry thrived during this period. During this time period cars and planes became mass market products for the developed world making travel more accessible to all. Then, computer technologies like GDS and OTAs unlocked global demand for hotels by making it incredibly easy to find and book rooms.While the industry will continue to see strong growth over the coming century - it’s undeniable that the now enormous travel market has catalyzed increased competition. More competition means that hoteliers of the future will need to be more creative than those of the past in order to run profitable businesses.For hoteliers, sticking to the status quo simply won’t cut it. The hospitality teams that thrive in the future will be those that continually evolve and pivot to outcompete not only the hotel down the street, but also vacation rentals and any other disruptor, by strengthening their position within the distribution power curve.We can also expect that global travel behavior will continue to evolve and shift rapidly. What happens to hotels that are heavily dependent on international travel when it’s shut down? How do hotels react when autonomous cars enable guests to drive further distances to visit their properties? What strategies will be deployed to attract a new generation of remote workers?  Demand as a whole is growing but the nature of that demand is changing so quickly that hoteliers will need to be extremely agile in order to benefit from that growth.Impala’s vision is to disrupt legacy systems with a paradigm-shifting concept that removes the need for legacy infrastructure altogether and hotels globally are signing up to take part in the next generation of travel.Want to try Impala for free? List your hotel This content was created collaboratively by Impala and Hotel Tech Report.

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2023)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Did you know the average small business uses 40 different software applications, and the average hotel uses around 20? In an ideal world, every system in your hotel’s tech stack would help you automate tasks, reduce costs, grow revenue, and deliver a five-star guest experience. But we understand that getting up-to-date on the myriad of technology solutions available to hotels can be daunting! Where do you even start?In this article, we’ll introduce you to each piece of the hotel technology landscape, from revenue management to reputation management and everything in between. Drawing on insights from over 10,000 hotel software reviews written by hoteliers across the globe, this article will also highlight some top software vendors in each category. For more detailed testimonials and additional software choices, you’ll want to click over to the full list of vendors. Let’s dive in!  9 Hotel Operations Software Tools that Drive EfficiencyThis category of software includes the most essential technology for hotel operations: checking guests in, reconciling accounts, handling payroll, and getting feedback from guests. Your hotel’s size and complexity will determine which systems you need; small, limited-service hotels might be fine with a PMS and a payment processor, but a large resort could benefit from each category of software.1. Property management systems (PMS): The PMS is the central hub for hotel operations. In this system, staff can check guests in and out, create and manage reservations, pull financial reports, manage guest profiles, and more. According to user reviews and analysis of system functionality, the top PMSs are Cloudbeds, Clock, and HotelTime, though there are over a hundred more great systems on the market.2. Staff collaboration tools: Hotel staff are scattered across different floors, buildings, and shifts, so a communication platform is necessary to keep everyone on the same page. Systems like hotelkit, Monscierge, and ALICE can replace analog methods like walkie-talkies and logbooks, plus they can track tasks, reduce manual errors, and increase efficiency.3. Housekeeping and engineering software: These tools digitize the operations of your housekeeping and maintenance departments, with the ability to automate task assignment, monitor real-time status of rooms or issues, and track task completion. Top software in this category includes hotelkit, Flexkeeping, and ALICE.4. Guest feedback and surveys: Do away with the paper comment cards and give guests a digital platform to voice their feedback, such as GuestRevu, TrustYou, or Revinate. Not only are these tech solutions easy for guests to use, but they also allow hoteliers to customize, automate, and analyze guest comments and complaints.5. Accounting and reporting: If your hotel accepts payments from guests and issues payments to employees and vendors, then you’ll benefit from an accounting and reporting system like myDigitalOffice, M3, or Omniboost. A modern accounting system reveals opportunities to reduce costs and maximize revenue, plus makes your accounting team more efficient with automated reports and integrations with other on-site software.6. Payments Processing: Most guests prefer to pay for their reservations with credit cards, but a payment processing system is necessary to get the funds from the guest’s card into your hotel’s bank account. Payment processors like Profitroom, Mews Payments, and Adyen charge a small processing fee, but they make getting paid as seamless as possible.7. Labor management: Hotels have dozens, if not hundreds, of employees, so scheduling is no easy task. Software such as Hotel Effectiveness’ PerfectLabor™, M3, and UniFocus include forecasting, insight into labor costs, and integrations with payroll and timekeeping systems. 8. Meetings and events: Whether your hotel has one private dining room or several floors of ballrooms and breakout spaces, meetings and events software can support every step of the sales and planning process - and the event itself. Highly rated meetings and events software includes Proposales, Event Temple, and Blockbuster by Duetto.9. F&B and point-of-sale systems: The pandemic accelerated demand for features like contactless menus and online ordering, so there has been a huge wave of innovation in the F&B software space. Vendors like RoomOrders, Bbot, and Oracle’s MICROS can help restaurants modernize their operations, cut costs, reduce reliance on delivery platforms, and strengthen relationships with customers. 7 Revenue Management Tech Systems that Improve Yield StrategyThe goal of revenue management is to sell the right room to the right guest at the right price, and revenue managers leverage a variety of software to achieve their RevPAR goals.1. Revenue management systems (RMS): The secret weapon of any revenue manager is the RMS; this system analyzes historical data, market supply and demand, and forecasts to recommend the rates most likely to maximize revenue and profitability. You might also hear revenue management software like IDeaS, Duetto’s Gamechanger, or Atomize referred to as “yield management systems” or “pricing engines.”2. Channel managers: A channel manager is the link between a hotel’s property management system and distribution channels like Booking.com, Expedia, and the GDS. Channel managers such as SiteMinder, Cloudbeds’ myallocator, and D-EDGE’s Smart Channel Manager allow hoteliers to make changes in one system, their PMS, rather than managing rates on each channel individually.3. Central reservation systems (CRS): Larger hotels or hotels that are part of a chain or group might use a CRS to centralize all bookings, whether they’re made by call center staff, the hotel’s own website, or a third-party channel. The CRS will then send reservations to the PMS for room assignments. Popular CRSs include Pegasus, Windsurfer, and GuestCentric CRS.4. Rate shopping and market intelligence: A key to revenue management success is selling competitive rates, but how do you know what your competitors are selling? Rate shopping tools, like OTA Insight, Siteminder Insights, and D-EDGE RateScreener, do the heavy lifting for you and present competitor rates and market forecasts in user-friendly dashboards and reports.5. Parity management: OTAs ask hotels to provide rate parity, meaning selling the same rate across all channels, and, as a hotelier, you don’t want OTAs to sell cheaper rates than your hotel’s website. Parity management tools, like OTA Insight, FornovaDI, and Triptease give hoteliers access to dashboards that monitor rates across all channels in real-time.6. Business intelligence: Revenue managers love data, but sometimes all that data is too much for Excel to handle. Business intelligence tools offer better solutions for slicing, dicing, and visualising data through dashboards and reports suitable for studying historical performance or predicting the future. Top BI applications include OTA Insight, Scoreboard by Duetto, and ProfitSage.7. Upselling Software: Driving incremental revenue per guest is possible with upselling tools that automate the entire process - and use profile data and historical trends to serve the most compelling, personalized offers to each guest, like room upgrades or F&B items. Tools like Oaky, EasyWay Smart Upselling, and GuestJoy also enable hoteliers to start the upselling process before the guest arrives on property. 9 Guest Experience Platforms to Improve Satisfaction ScoresHow do you create a five-star guest experience in the digital age? A plethora of systems exist to delight guests, from contactless check-in solutions to modern in-room entertainment.1. Guest messaging: Messaging platforms allow hotels to communicate with guests via their preferred platform: text messaging, email, or even apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Top-rated systems like Monscierge, Whistle, and EasyWay support automated messaging and one central dashboard where staff can respond.2. Keyless entry: Keyless entry software enables a guest to unlock their room or other secure areas like gyms or pools with a wave of their smartphone. Systems like Mobile Access by ASSA ABLOY, FLEXIPASS, and Openkey.co offer integrations with PMSs for a seamless arrival experience.3. Guest apps: Digitize your in-room directory with a hotel app like ALICE, INTELITY, or Duve. These downloadable apps put everything guests need to know at their fingertips, from contact info and directions to room service menus and local recommendations. 4. Contactless check-in: In the wake of the pandemic, guests prefer a contactless arrival process, and software like EasyWay, Canary, and Duve make it easy for hotels to pivot to a fully digital check-in. Functionality includes ID scanning, digital registration cards, upselling, payment processing, and arrival time coordination.5. In-room tablets: Just like the smartphone replaced our digital cameras and rolodexes, an in-room tablet can replace your rooms’ telephones, directories, room service menus, TV remotes, thermostats, and more. Tablet providers like SuitePad, Crave Interactive, and INTELITY are even proven to increase guest satisfaction and revenue.6. Energy management: These systems have two goals: decrease your hotel’s energy costs and reduce your hotel’s environmental impact. Vendors like Verdant Energy Management Solutions, Telkonet, and EcoStruxure are designed with hotels in mind and seek to not only decrease costs, but also enhance the guest experience.7. Guest room entertainment: Today’s guests want more than local cable channels on their guestroom TVs; systems like Monscierge ZAFIRO IPTV, and Sonifi provide interactive content and entertainment for all types of hotels, plus additional marketing and engagement opportunities you couldn’t get with traditional TV.8. Mobile ordering/F&B: Bbot, RoomOrders, SABA F&B Ordering, and other systems provide an essential piece of technology for hotels and restaurants: mobile ordering. With this software, guests and customers can access menus, place orders, and pay from their smartphones, and F&B outlets can better manage order fulfillment and deliver an end-to-end contactless experience.9. Hotel Wi-Fi: What was once a premium add-on is now an essential amenity at hotels, especially with a growing segment of travelers working remotely. To offer reliable high-speed internet access, hotels can partner with vendors like Cisco (Meraki), Percipia, or GuestTek that offer implementation services and ongoing support. 9 Marketing Tools to Lower Acquisition Costs and Drive Direct BookingsOf course, you don’t need any of the software listed above if nobody knows about your hotel! Marketing software allows you to tap into new audiences of guests and build relationships with your existing guest base.1. Booking engines: For hoteliers seeking to increase direct business, a booking engine is essential. This software allows guests to book reservations on your hotel’s website by displaying rates and availability from your PMS, then integrating reservations into the PMS. Cloudbeds, Bookassist, and SiteMinder offer some of the best booking engines. 2. Reputation management: A reputation management tool helps you request, track, analyze, and respond to guest reviews across sites like Tripadvisor and Google and your own surveys. Some of the industry leaders are TrustYou, GuestRevu, and Revinate, and they can even assist in increasing guest review scores by revealing insights about guest sentiment.3. Website builders and content management systems (CMS): Outsourcing your website design isn’t necessary with a CMS; these tools allow you to build, edit, and organize website pages and content, and they support integrations with booking engines, payment processors, widgets and more. Smart CMS by Bookassist, Profitroom, and Net Affinity are some of the top website builders.4. Direct booking tools: If you want to increase direct bookings, then an app like Triptease, Hotelchamp, or TrustYou can boost the number of shoppers who complete bookings on your hotel’s website. These tools let you display personalized messages, snippets of guest reviews, price comparison widgets, and more - all of which give guests reasons to book direct instead of on an OTA.5. Digital marketing agencies: Don’t have the time or resources to handle digital marketing in-house? A digital marketing agency can lend their expertise to help your hotel succeed in search engine marketing, social media, content creation, and PR. Bookassist, Avvio, and Net Affinity are some of the leaders in this space.6. Social media tools: Whether you’re trying to build a new audience or stay in touch with past guests, social media is an important component of your hotel’s marketing strategy. Social media vendors like BCV, Sprout Social, and Travel Media Group can help you achieve your reach and engagement goals.7. Metasearch and ad tech: Metasearch channels, like Google, Kayak, and Tripadvisor, are powerful drivers of traffic to your hotel website - if you leverage them effectively. These sites require special connectivity and a bidding strategy, and tools like Bookassist, Avvio, and Koddi will help you manage budgets, track attribution, and understand market dynamics.8. Website live chat/chatbots: Potential guests shopping on your website want answers now - without needing to pick up the phone. A chatbot, like one from Asksuite, Quicktext, or Whistle, use artificial intelligence to answer guest questions quickly and accurately, plus capture leads and increase conversion on your website.9. Hotel CRM: Your database of guest email addresses is a gold mine - if you can leverage it strategically. A CRM system, such as Revinate, Profitroom, and dailypoint 360, allows you to capture email addresses on your website, send automated messages throughout the guest’s journey, create segments of profiles with specific characteristics, and analyze open rates, click-through rates, and conversion. F&B and MICEThe food and beverage and meetings and events components of the hotel industry have their own technology solutions too. Whether you’re trying to streamline your room service offerings or support citywide conferences in a maze of meeting spaces, you can find software to help you execute any type of service or event.1. Restaurant management: In order to run a restaurant smoothly, restaurateurs leverage point-of-sale software to manage stock in real-time, handle transactions, reserve tables, run reports, and more. Popular restaurant management software includes Vento ePOS, Oracle MICROS, and Lightspeed POS.2. Mobile ordering and room service: Contactless service is the latest trend in F&B, but it seems likely to become the norm. Mobile ordering systems, such as Bbot, RoomOrders, and SABA F&B Ordering, allow restaurants to upload digital menus, accept online orders, and receive contactless payments, and customers can feel confident in more efficient service and accurate orders and bills.3. Meetings and events intelligence: This category of software aims to help hoteliers maximize their meetings and events business by understanding market dynamics, uncovering insights about attendees, and optimizing pricing and space usage. Top meetings and events intelligence tools include Blockbuster by Duetto, IDeaS (SmartSpace), and Get Into More.4. Group sourcing and RFP tools: Without software to assist, the RFP process is tedious. RFP software, such as Proposales, MeetingPackage, and Venuesuite, moves this process online and helps you to automate it, making all the back-and-forth more efficient and helping sales teams reach their goals.5. Event management: Software doesn’t just help your sales team seal the deal, but also to plan and execute the event itself. Event Temple, Tripleseat, EVENTMACHINE, and others provide functionality to send proposals, get e-signatures, manage traces, communicate with clients, and create and edit BEOs and agendas. Looking for more resources on hotel industry software? Download the free 2021 HotelTechIndex Market Leaders Report.

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The 9 Most Futuristic High Tech Hotels in the World

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

The pandemic accelerated technological transformation across the hospitality industry. Contactless has become a must-have, fitness centers have gone virtual, guest communications have moved to mobile, and self-service has become standard.While some hotels found themselves rapidly deploying new technologies, other hotels have been playing the tech-long game for years. Here are some of the world’s most notable high-tech hotels.We've covered the tech strategies of great hotel groups like Viceroy and Noble House who implement everything from contactless check-in to digital concierge but this article focuses on some more wacky tech implementations with a bit of focus on form over function.  This list features some pretty cool hi-tech gadgets and hotel room amenities that go above and beyond the typical flat-screen tv.  Some of the cutting-edge technology on this list may off-put more traditional travelers but will undoubtedly hit the spot for tech-savvy millennials.Rather than layer technology onto the operation, these properties embed technology into the fabric of the operation, making it a focal point and key feature. Some use it as an Instagrammable moment at a specific location while others structure their entire brand around the tech-enabled guest experience. Either way, technology is front-and-center at these hotels. Henn Na Hotel, Japan“The Robot Hotel” Tokyo has become the marquee high-tech hotel. The brand concept is “commitment to evolution,” which appears across its operation in the form of robots. Lots of robots! The brand claims to be the world’s first hotel staffed by robots -- and there’s really no disputing that, as guests are greeted by robots at the front desk. At one property, the front desk is even staffed by dinosaur robots and iPad kiosks, which is quite the experience.  Other high-tech features at some locations include a robot barista frothing lattes, espressos and teas, as well as a 360-degree VR space for guests to immerse themselves in virtual reality experiences. The hotel is also fully enabled with Wifi powered facial recognition, which eliminates the need for a hotel key altogether. Guests can access the property, and their individual guest rooms, seamlessly using biometrics. Very futuristic, indeed! YOTEL, New York CityThe YOTEL brand has been synonymous with technology since it opened its doors near  Times Square. The showstopper was a massive robot arm dominating the lobby, providing automated luggage storage for guests (as well as safety deposit boxes to store valuables). The YOBOT also provides self-service check-in, which puts the brand far ahead of today’s contactless guest experience. The rooms -- called cabins -- may be small, but YOTEL uses technology to deliver its promise to “give you everything you need, and nothing you don’t.” This includes Smart TVs so that guests can connect their own devices and choose their own entertainment.The guest rooms also use motorized beds as space-savers and motion-activated sensors for lighting and AC to reduce carbon emissions. It’s all about efficiency, delivering an outsized guest experience in even the smallest spaces. Blow Up Hall 5050, PolandThe Blow Up Hall 50/50 is an impressive mix of form and function. Designed by BAFTA-award-winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, the hotel combines a restaurant, bar, gallery, and hotel into a unique vibe. There are several digital art installations, including a commentary on surveillance capitalism embedded right within the lobby.  The property eliminates the traditional touchstones of the hotel experience: there’s no front desk. The guest’s smartphone provides access to the property, from check-in to room keys to staff communications. The phone also acts as a room finder: after opening the app, the assigned room lights up and the door unlocks automatically. It’s these small tech flourishes that reinforce the property’s sense of mystery and intrigue. Hotel Zetta, San FranciscoAt the center of Silicon Valley, the centerpiece of Hotel Zetta is most definitely its virtual reality room in the lobby. Designed by a local tech startup (naturally), the VR cube gives guests a fully-immersive opportunity to experience virtual reality. There are also Nintendo Switch consoles and Oculus VR headsets available so guests can experience next-generation technology in the comfort of their rooms.   Other tech touchstones include a vintage Atari Pong table in the Zetta Suite, which is modernized to include both the classic game and a Bluetooth speaker to play personal playlists. Each guest room is also equipped with Alexa-enabled voice control in every room. Guests can order a meal from room service, set an alarm or learn about on-property dining specials.  Kameha Grand, ZurichThe Kameha Grand isn’t one of those kitschy places that you’re embarrassed to stay at. Quite the opposite: the high-end “lifestyle hotel” is part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. And, with rooms designed by Marcel Wenders, it’s got all of the trappings of a luxury property. Rooms  Our favorite rooms are, of course, the Space Suites. It’s the most futuristic room type on this list because it quite literally connects to space. The in-room TV features a live feed from NASA TV so that you can fuel those space dreams. The atmospheric vibes will contribute to that dreamy feel, with “outer space furnishings have been designed down to the smallest detail with a floating bed, pictures of galaxies, hovering astronauts and models of rockets.” Far out! Virgin Hotels The Virgin Hotel brand has always been tech-forward and guest-centric. Even prior to the pandemic, the brand empowered guests to control their own experiences right from the palm of their hand. Now, those features are dramatically expanded to be even more contactless.  Named Lucy, the app allows guests to skip check-in, using their phone to select rooms and unlock doors. Guests can also use the app to order room service, adjust room temperature, control entertainment (in-room streaming and Apple Music), plan their trip around the city, or even follow custom exercise routines by Fitbod.Following on smartly with its brand promise, the app also offers three preset lighting modes for guestrooms:  Get Lit for full brightness, Get in the Mood for dimmed relaxation, and Do Not Disturb for sleep. By putting all of these elements together into a single interface, Virgin Hotels puts the guest in control.  25hours HotelsAnother brand that’s focused on high-tech without losing high-touch hospitality is 25hours. Thanks to an in-house multidisciplinary think tank, the Extra Hour Lab, the brand experiments with new ways of engaging with guests, both through digital and analog channels.That balance plays out in Cologne, where the record store greets guests alongside  Perhaps that’s one aspect that distinguishes the futuristic, high-tech hotels: those that understand how to inject storytelling into the experience alongside the latest technology. CityhubA hybrid between a comfortable hotel and a convivial hostel, Cityhub is futuristic in both its technology and its approach to hospitality. It’s part of a new wave of brands that blend categories and use technology to enable a more social experience.The Cityhub brand has an app but it also takes a cue from Disney and offers RFID wristbands. These bands are used not only for check-in and property access, but also  at the bar, cafe or vending machines, where guests can serve themselves and charge their rooms. Without having to constantly pull out their phones, there’s a more personal element to the experience.  Each “hub” has its own customizable lighting, temperature and audio streaming, so guests can control their vibe. There’s also an on-property social network, giving guests a digital lobby to meet and plan real-world adventures. The Atari Hotel, Las Vegas (coming soon!)A notable mention is the upcoming Atari Hotel in Las Vegas.  This property will blur the boundaries between hotel and immersive experience, building on Las Vegas’ long history of blending entertainment with hospitality. The experience is straight out of Blade Runner: bright lights, massive marquees, and an “everywhere you look” focus on gaming.  The Atari Hotel points to a far-more futuristic vision of hotels than anything else on the market today. It very well could be the first hospitality experience built just as much for the virtual world as for the physical one.Guests can host friends in their rooms for gaming marathons, with consoles, batteries, and spare controllers available for delivery. The Atari Hotel may redefine the category and establish a new mainstream travel trend: the gamer circuit.--What are your favorite high-tech hotel amenities? Let us know if we missed any key ones like hotels with crazy underwater speakers, air conditioning activated by motion sensors, cool touchscreen applications, and more!

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Hotel vs. Airbnb: Is that Even the Right Question?

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Hot on the heels of an IPO that saw Airbnb’s stock pop over 100% over its initial asking price, the hype around the home-sharing platform has reached a fever pitch. Airbnb’s splashy debut in the public market has brought renewed attention to the classic “Airbnb vs Hotels'' debate.Surveys suggest that Airbnb hosts do indeed pull guests away from hotel rooms. Goldman Sachs found that those who use home-sharing end up preferring it over hotels: 79% prefer traditional hotels but, once they experience a vacation rental, that number dropped to 40%. In other words, home-sharing siphons off 39% of hotels’ target market. Another survey found that 60% who use both hotels and Airbnb prefer Airbnb versus hotelsOf course, these surveys are only snapshots that don’t necessarily reflect how people choose where to stay. If the price was identical between an Airbnb and a St. Regis, Viceroy, or Montage-type property hotel rates, where would you stay for your next trip? Likely the luxury property, right? But what if it was for a family reunion or bachelor party? The trip type certainly would influence your decision on where to stay. So is Airbnb vs Hotels even the right question in a world where hotel chains like Marriott are launching their own vacation rental services and Airbnb now owns HotelTonight? The Answer: It DependsThe reality is that no one is exclusively a single category traveler. The same person might prefer an Airbnb on one trip and a hotel on the next one. To choose which one is right for a certain trip, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions: What do I care about? What combination of space, amenities, cost, service, and location are most important? What kind of experience do I want? Am I looking to be pampered or self-catered? Are you looking for a private room or multiple occupancy shared space with other renters and guests? Is this a business or vacation? Who else is joining me? What kind of experience do they want? Are there kids? What’s my budget?  Is flexibility important to me or am I certain I won’t need to cancel or adjust my reservation? Do you care about hotel amenities like concierge or room service? How important is safety? Do I want 24/7 staffing to feel more secure? How do I feel about my contribution to any issues around housing being taken from locals by short-term rentals? What are the short-term rental laws? Where are you going? Airbnbs are limited in certain markets like New York City, so that makes it a no-brainer. Of course, the pandemic has added new dimensions to this discussion, as the NY Times rightly points out: “Social distancing, hygiene and refund policies may be the new game-changers.” What are the cleanliness procedures? Is there an additional cleaning fee? Is there flexible cancellation in the event of a surge in cases or a sickness? What are the capacity restrictions? Can I maintain an adequate distance from other guests? There's a lot that goes into choosing an Airbnb over a hotel. It’s not so straightforward! Let’s compare side by side. Comparing Airbnb vs. Hotels Side-by-Side   Airbnb Hotel Security Each property is different Most often staffed 24/7, with locks and deadbolts on each door Consistency Varies. While Airbnb provides training to hosts, there are no guarantees of what you’ll get. And each property has its own House Rules.  Brand standards provide confidence in the consistency of experience Business-friendly Airbnb for Work provides some basic guarantees for items like workspaces; check-in may be difficult overnight  Brand standards provide the consistency ideal for business travelers; 24/7 staffing makes last-minute stays and overnight check-ins easier Quality Varies; user reviews offer insights into the quality of specific property Varies; brand name and hotel category offer certain quality guarantee Service Self-catered Depends on category; nearly always some sort of service on-site Value for Money Depends on the number of guests, location, geography, dates, property type; lower cost of things like WiFi and meals Depends on the number of guests, location, geography, dates, property type; often pay extra for add-ons and meals. Convenience self-service check-in at many properties has made it much more convenient, although there is rarely someone on-site to help  With 24/7 staffing, its often easier to check-in and there can't be helped for any issues experienced during stay Cleanliness Hosts do all the cleaning with no guarantees by Airbnb Brand standards ensure a similar level of cleanliness Cancellation Policies Varies by host but rarely  flexible or fully refundable Flexible, often with full refunds  prior to 48 hours before arrival Variety All types of accommodations, including quirky options like teepees and Airstreams Fairly standard spectrum of options, as defined by the hotel category Trust Airbnb does not verify individual hosts,  but user reviews provide a level of trust in the community Hotel brand is the placeholder for trust; you have an idea of what to expect based on the brand Safety, Privacy and Legality In a Morgan Stanley survey, more than 50% of people do not use Airbnb due to safety, privacy, or legality. From shifting local laws to hidden cameras and uneven safety features, Airbnbs are not all created equally.  Hotels have operated under long-standing rules and regulations around safety, privacy and legal operations.    Technology Differences Between Airbnb and HotelsIn the early days of Airbnb rentals, it cemented its competitive advantage by a focus on the user experience that set it apart from historically clunky hotel booking experiences.There was an easy-to-use interface for searching and booking that made excellent use of visuals and maps. Reservations were managed digitally with few phone calls and user reviews were the currency of trust. A mobile app became the centerpiece of interactions between guests and hosts, while also making it easy to manage upcoming reservations, get directions and find house rules.Now, hotels have become much savvier with guest messaging, mobile apps, in-room tablets and keyless entry to provide an enhanced experience that differentiates it from Airbnb. No more horrible entertainment options thanks to Apple TV for Hospitality, no more front desk with keyless entry and contactless check-in, no more waiting on hold thanks to guest messaging software, no more antiquated booking systems with better booking engines. In many respects, hotel tech has advanced to push it past Airbnb, allowing hotels to offer a better experience than ever before.In general, Airbnb stays and hotel stays are on a convergence path solidified by Airbnb's acquisition of HotelTonight.When is Airbnb Better?Airbnb is ideally suited under certain circumstances:  Trip types: group trips (friends, family reunions, bachelor/bachelorette trips)  are perfect for Airbnb’s because they have more space and the cost can be spread among many people; trips to vacation destinations where there may be fewer hotels; extended stays, when feeling at home matters greatly. Traveler types: Independent travelers looking to save money on accommodations and self-cater meals; “live like a local” travelers that want to experience what it’s like to live in the destination; those who want more space and to avoid the crowds, such as pet owners and families with kids.  When are Hotels Better?Other trips are better suited for hotels. The most obvious use case a business trips, as68% of business travelers have had a negative experience using Airbnb for work and thus prefer hotels. Airbnb has made strides in this department come out there's still a level of inconsistency that turns off business travelers.Hotels are also often better for: Trip types: Urban getaways focused less on spending time at the property;  family trips where the kids want access to amenities; wellness retreats that prioritize on-site spa treatments; pampered getaways where no one wants to lift a finger. Traveler types: Loyalty members that want to earn points;  those who value consistency of experience; design-minded travelers that enjoy experiencing hotel properties  Business Differences Between Airbnb and HotelsOn the business side of things, there are some obvious differences between Airbnb and hotels. First and foremost, is the regulatory environment. Short-term rentals have a constantly shifting legal landscape, with many cities cracking down on rampant rentals. Airbnb’s long-standing practice of ruthlessly fighting regulations may be backfiring, as coalitions of residents and hotels have rigorously pushed back.A big portion of this fight was related to short term rental taxes and paying their fair share. Airbnbs in many locations now pay a similar accommodation tax to hotels. Similar to hotels paying taxes on income, hosts are also on the hook for all necessary taxes related to their operations. The operating models also differ greatly. Compared with hotels, which operate with continuous staffing, Airbnb has remote customer service that isn't exactly known as world-class. This keeps overhead lower and gives Airbnb an advantage on operating margin, as they can invest further in the technology-driven user experience.Airbnb also operates under an “asset-light” model, Which means that it doesn't own any of the properties listed on its website. It's a Marketplace the connects hosts with gas. On the other hand, hotel operators generally have a direct relationship with the property owner. In most cases, a property owner hires a management company to run the hotel.  the management company then either pays a franchise fee to a hotel brand (based on the target demographic) or runs the hotel independently under its own flag. Airbnb's decentralized model, in which hosts list their own properties on the platform, disperse its listings across geographies. However, similar to hotels, there’s a concentration of urban listings, where density delivers more options. Airbnb is also quite strong in vacation destinations, which have a long-standing familiarity with vacation rentals. While there may be fewer hotels in these areas, there’s no shortage of Airbnbs. However, local pushback may threaten this strength, as many areas crack down on both legal and illegal rentals. When it comes to market share, Airbnb definitely dominates. It’s not only become more valuable than the top 3 hotel companies combined, but it’s also bigger by sheer listing count. As you can see in the graphic below from Scott Galloway, Airbnb eclipses all major hotel brands in total room count. It’s just no comparison -- and it’s that strength that propels Airbnb ahead of hotels on market share. (For comparison, Booking.com has 6.2 million listings). On the revenue side of the equation, the global hotel industry hovers around a $600 billion market size. That’s massive compared to Airbnb’s reported $4.81 billion in revenue. The disparity underlines one fact about Airbnb's market share: all listings are not created equal. Some are for entire homes available year-round, while others are shared rooms only periodically available. Therefore listing count does not necessarily equate to market dominance! Wrapping it UpThere is no clear winner and unlike what most media likes to spew - the future holds opportunity for both Airbnb and hotels. In fact, some hotels may benefit from listing on Airbnb to gain visibility with a new guest segment. Hotels should also look carefully at nearby Airbnbs and iterate (or emphasize) product features that resonate more with why guests stay at Airbnbs (see chart above). For example, if a limited-service hotel doesn’t win on service they may need to need to win on consistency, security, self-catering options, and convenience to lure more guests. When it comes to Airbnb versus hotels, it's not an either-or decision; there are few “Airbnb only” travelers. Hotels can compete head-to-head with Airbnbs by finding property attributes that appeal to specific segments and trip types -- and then marketing that message directly to those travelers!

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Hotel ADR: Understanding the Concept of Average Daily Rate

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Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Whether you're a hospitality student or experienced professional working on your hotel's budget it's important to refresh your knowledge about the concept of average daily rate.Let's get the basics out of the way.  ADR in hotels stands for average daily rate.  ADR times Occupancy = RevPAR (revenue per available room).  ADR is used to both identify commercial opportunities or it can be leveraged as a revenue management tactic.  A hotel who's ADR is lower than its comp set should be concerned all else equal.  We'll introduce some tactics below to improve relative performance.  Similarly, a hotel may intentionally increase or decrease ADR via rate manipulation to execute on a specific commercial strategy.Now that we've got the basics out of the way, let's dive in...RevPAR may be the hotel industry's favorite KPI but ADR (average daily rate) is a close second. And the truth is that they are closely intertwined. So, even if you are still confused about the jumbled terminology of hotel revenue management, we're here to sort you out! By the end of this article, you'll understand how to calculate ADR and how to interpret and influence it in your hotel’s revenue management strategy.  Average daily rate metrics aim to help business owners understand the average price rooms are being sold for in isolation.  By pulling metrics apart we are better able to identify problems and opportunities to forge stronger revenue strategies.

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Understanding Titans of the Hotel Industry Throughout History

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Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

What would the hotel industry be without chain hotels? Can you imagine a world without online travel agencies like Expedia? Or what about a world without Airbnb? A few exceptional individuals made contributions to the lodging industry which revolutionized not only our industry, but the world. Thanks to the ideas, leadership, and drive of the 7 titans of the hotel industry, we can travel better today.In this article, we’ll introduce you to seven of the most important figures in the hotel business: Conrad Hilton, J. Willard Marriott, Isadore Sharp, Jay Pritzker, Barry Sternlicht, Brian Chesky, and Rich Barton. You’ll learn about their backgrounds, their career paths, the companies they founded, and how they fit into the evolution of the hotel industry. And you might find the inspiration you need to bring your ideas to life or to start your own company! The Early Days of the Hotel IndustryThe concept of a hotel is hardly a new one; boarding houses, inns, caravanserais, and other early lodging types have been in existence for thousands of years. These simple accommodations offered travelers a place to sleep, a hot meal, and stables for their horses. Early “hotels” were family-run and often located in the same building where the family lived.As travel became more common, starting in the 1400s, a few European countries mandated that hotels document their guests. These new laws signaled the beginning of the hotel industry - hoteliers were now running legitimate businesses in the eyes of the local governments. By the 1700s, every city had at least several hotels operating in the center of town to meet the demand for overnight stays. Many hotels became attractions in their own right, like the Le Grand Hôtel Paris and Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, which were famous for beautiful architecture and glamorous clientele. The Hotel Industry Boom in the United StatesUntil the mid-1900s, nearly all hotels were independently owned and operated. There was also a clear distinction between the stylish, cosmopolitan hotels in city centers and the simple roadside motels in rural areas. Two entrepreneurs on opposite sides of the country saw opportunities to bring a high standard of service to the hotel industry and created the eponymous names that we all know today: Conrad Hilton and J. Willard Marriott.Conrad Hilton entered the hotel industry somewhat accidentally when his plan to purchase a bank fell through; instead, he ended up buying the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas in 1919. Seeing that he could run a hotel successfully, Hilton scouted out promising hotel deals and continued growing his portfolio over the next few decades. Landmark hotels like New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria and the Plaza Hotel became Hilton properties, and the company acquired the Statler Hotel Company in what was the largest real estate transaction of its time. Hilton is not only credited with building a global hotel empire, but also with popularizing the star rating system and combining hotels, restaurants, and casinos.Like Hilton, J. Willard Marriott didn’t plan on becoming a hotel magnate. He got his start in the hospitality business by running A&W Root Beer shops in the Washington, D.C. area, and built a sizable restaurant and foodservice business. When it came time for his next venture, Marriott opened a motel in Arlington, Virginia with great results. Marriott became known for his hands-on leadership style and perfectionist mindset, and as the Marriott company grew, he continued to stay in the middle of the action. In fact, he never retired from Marriott, even after his son Bill took over as CEO. Under their leadership, Marriott became the largest hotel company in the world with over 30 brands under its umbrella.In addition to Hilton and Marriott, numerous hotel brands popped up in the mid-20th century, like Holiday Inn and Motel 6. These brands could offer quality and consistency to travelers who didn’t want to risk a sub-par experience at an independent property. Remember, back then, there was no Tripadvisor, so brands offered an appealing solution. The Rise of Hotel BrandsSpeaking of brands, Marriott and Hilton are only two of the great hotel brands that shaped the industry. While Hilton and Marriott were building their companies, another entrepreneur saw an opportunity to create a new type of hotel: Jay Pritzker.Already an established businessman, Pritzker was on a business trip to Los Angeles in 1957 when he noticed a lack of high-quality hotels located near airports. He didn’t think travelers should have to choose between nice downtown hotels and seedy airport motels, so he launched the Hyatt brand, which focused on upscale hotels near airports. Hyatt Hotels eventually branched out to urban hotels, notably when the company launched the Hyatt Regency brand, which is known for its signature atrium design.But Pritzker wasn’t the only one to realize that architecture can be an asset to a hotel brand; as a trained builder, Isadore Sharp knew architecture would always be a pillar of his Four Seasons hotel brand. He opened the first Four Seasons hotel in Toronto in 1961, and guests appreciated the innovative courtyard design that allowed them some relief from city sights and noise. Sharp grew the Four Seasons brand to become a globally known icon of service and luxury, and the company now manages over 100 hotels in cities like Paris and far-flung destinations like Bora Bora.Sharp wasn’t alone in grabbing an opportunity to appeal to affluent travelers. Barry Sternlicht, the founder of Starwood Capital and Starwood Hotels and Resorts, also noticed a gap in the luxury hotel market when he launched the W brand in 1998. In contrast to the pretentious, stuffy luxury hotels that were the norm, W hotels offered a playful, youthful version of luxury. The W brand is considered the first “lifestyle” hotel brand, a trend which is still popular today. Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ portfolio also included brands like Westin and Sheraton, and in 2016 Marriott purchased Starwood and formed the largest hotel company in the world. Lodging in the Digital AgeBy the 1990s, hotels had taken over the world. You could book a Marriott or Four Seasons on six continents and dozens of countries. But how would you actually make that booking? Most travelers relied on travel agents to secure reservations, or you could call the 1-800 number for a chain line Hilton or Hyatt. That all changed when Rich Barton, a product manager at Microsoft, came up with the idea for Expedia in 1994. He saw how the power of the internet could put travel booking into the travelers hands - he just had to create a platform to house all the data.By the time Expedia went public in 1999, it was far from the only digital booking platform, or online travel agency. Competitors like Booking.com, Priceline, Orbitz, and Travelocity gave consumers access to good rates and information about hotels around the globe. The popularity of brick-and-mortar travel agencies declined as online travel agencies took off. Two decades later, the OTA space is dominated by two big players who now own the majority of brands: Expedia Group and Booking Holdings.But Expedia and Booking.com aren’t the only sites where you can book a place to stay. In fact, hotels are no longer your only option. Just as Uber disrupted the taxi industry, Airbnb offers a new type of accommodation for travelers seeing local experiences or apartment-style short-term rentals. Founded by Brian Chesky in 2009, Airbnb has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Chesky and his two roommates had the idea to rent out a few air mattresses in their apartment during a busy conference in San Francisco, and a few years later their company became a Silicon Valley “unicorn” with a valuation over $1B. Airbnb has grown to over six million listings and is planning an IPO in late 2020.What can we expect for the future of the hotel industry? The industry’s pioneers are probably already hard at work building something that will further change how we travel and experience hospitality. --Brian Chesky illustration by Mike Nudelman