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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 days 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 Efficiency This 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 Strategy The 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 Scores How 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 Bookings Of 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 MICE The 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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What Will the Future of Hotel Sustainability Look Like?

by
Gregor Herz
3 weeks ago

Climate change has been in the news again recently with a very stark warning from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They concluded that global temperatures are rising at an unprecedented rate and that this should be considered a “code red for humanity”, according to UN chief, Antonio Guterres.  There have been strong indications that many areas previously thought to be low risk from the effects of climate change are now being affected. Recently, Greece—one of the Mediterranean’s top destinations—experienced the worst wildfires in living memory. Earlier this year, the west of Germany and surrounding countries saw extensive flash flooding and soil erosion that claimed the lives of over 180 people. 150 are still missing. And in Canada and the northwest United States, temperatures reached 49.6C (121.3F). The resulting wildfires and extreme temperatures are together thought to be responsible for over 1000 deaths in the region. Whole towns have been wiped off the map as a result.  With such damning evidence of the consequences of climate change, there are changes that need to be made across all industries. According to the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, 1% of the world’s carbon emissions result from the hotel industry. 1% is a substantial chunk and as tourism continues to grow, this share or the world’s carbon emissions that hotels are responsible for will likely increase. What can hotels do to help contribute to a greener, more sustainable world? We’ve put together 5 ways hotels can become more sustainable in the future.   1. Focus on rewilding  Hotels rely heavily on tourism, and tourism relies heavily on beautiful scenery, wonderful wildlife, and clear oceans. The climate crisis has raised awareness of the need for rewilding. Rewilding means allowing areas of land to be left untouched indefinitely to enable parts of the natural world to regenerate to their former glory. Rewilding doesn’t only increase native fauna and flora, it also helps create carbon sinks that take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. As people try to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, rewilding is an important and cost-effective weapon against global warming. Rewilding also protects regions from natural disasters such as flooding and landslides. The increased legislation binds with the soil to ensure it’s locked in place, and the natural barristers caused by trees and bushes helps reduce the impact of floodwaters that accumulate on land developed by humans. The hotel industry needs to start raising awareness and supporting the rewilding movement if they want to continue to benefit from the pristine scenery that’s so crucial to attracting guests. This includes lobbying for international cooperation on creating rewilding zones around the world on land and in the oceans. Educating guests at hotels on the importance of these initiatives will help drive support for rewilding from the general public, ultimately helping hotel businesses thrive in the future and improve conditions for humans everywhere.   2. Reduce the impact of hotels on the environment Hotels use huge amounts of resources to run their business. Even when there are very few guests staying, the hotel still needs to provide heating, lighting, and restaurant services to guests. These are examples of energy-intensive requirements that hotels always need to provide no matter the number of guests staying at any one time. To reduce their impact on the environment, hotels need to invest in solutions that enable guests to make environmentally-friendly choices during their trips. By offering guests the chance to drive the green revolution in hotels, the perception of the level of service that hotels offer won’t suffer—guests don’t like being told they need to make changes, but if they choose to make them themselves, they’re much more likely to view them favorably. An example of how modern technology can enable guests to make more eco-conscious decisions is SuitePad’s Green Option. Using push notifications the Green Option works much like the traditional “do not clean” sign on the door, but due to its digital format, it actively encourages guests and can notify them of the impact their choice can have on the environment. Some hotels also offer small incentives such as vouchers or free drinks to incentivize guests to make this choice. These types of features will soon start to become more commonplace at hotels as they seek to become more eco-friendly.   3. Rediscovering the staycation The term “staycation” is synonymous with the COVID-19 pandemic, but it could be here to stay. While vacationing locally or within your own country was a good way of helping reduce the transmission of the virus, it’s also an effective way of reducing travelers’ carbon footprint. With hydrogen power aircraft and solar-powered vehicles still a long way off, there’s a real incentive to reduce consumer carbon emissions. One return flight from Europe to the US produces as much carbon dioxide as the average vehicle owner produces from their car in a year. And this problem can’t be sorted with short-haul flights. In fact, short-haul flights are just about the most environmentally damaging way of traveling as airplanes use huge amounts of fuel to get off the ground. If you’re only traveling a few hundred miles, short-haul flights clock up the highest CO2 per mile ratio besides space travel. For hotels, this may mean switching their focus to people visiting from more locally. In places like Europe, this may be stretched to people from other countries that can be easily connected by train. By making tourism more local, the industry can significantly reduce carbon emissions, but it will take input from the airlines, hotel, and restaurant industries to achieve this. The good news is that this may not last forever. Engineers around the world are working on producing much more efficient and eco-friendly forms of travel including solar-powered cars and hydrogen-powered aircraft. Major advances in battery technology have also made electric cars much better than most people thought possible, and if this technology is adapted for airplanes and they are charged using renewably produced electricity, global air travel will enter a whole new, eco-friendly era.   4. Redefining extravagance Some of the most greenhouse gas-producing aspects of tourism are equated with decadence and luxury. Superyachts, for example, contribute a huge amount of carbon emissions and ocean garbage build up in some of the world’s more important ocean ecosystems. Despite this damage being well documented, there is very little currently being done to reduce these contributions, and the demand for chartering superyachts is on the increase. Of course, superyachts are not the only contributing factor, but they are a good example of how the modern superrich lifestyles of many people can contribute to climate change. Instead, there needs to be a shift in what extravagance and luxury really mean. It needs to be cool, exciting, and ultimately, desirable, for hotel guests to notably reduce their impact on the environment. This could come in the form of encouraging them to pay towards charity organizations when they book their vacation, or it could come in the form of making taking the time to actively contribute to rewilding projects while they’re on vacation. Rather than yachting over the world’s most pristine coral reefs,  why don’t we encourage people to take the time to contribute to coral reef rebuilding projects? These kinds of activities need to be prioritized and rebranded as attractive representations of extravagance if we are to help reduce the hotel and tourist industry’s impact on the environment.   5. Moderating business travel Before the pandemic, business travel was a common feature of a globalized business world. But, the increase in the need for video conferencing technology has shown that businesses can significantly cut the need for travel. In the future, businesses will need to make decisions as to whether it’s worthwhile or environmentally sustainable to send staff abroad for business trips when the meeting or conferences they are attending could easily be done online.  The reduction in business travel will also likely have an impact on the demand for business hotels, meaning that many business hotel owners will need to diversify their business to offer services to non-business guests.   Understanding the future of hotel sustainability Hotel sustainability will hinge on using innovative technology, changing attitudes, and moderating expectations. But, with time, new more sustainable travel and hospitality technology will enable hotels to return to operations much like we have today. Until then, it’s imperative that hotels do their bit in trying to reduce their impact on the environment.

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What is MTBF? Mean Time Between Failures in the Real Estate Industry

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Ever get the sense that your maintenance team is reactively making repairs as they pop up rather than proactively preventing those problems during downtime? It can get frustrating -- especially when it affects the guest experience and your hotel’s ability to make money on all available rooms. That’s why the Mean Time Between Failures, or MTBF, is an important maintenance management metric for hotel operators. This failure rate metric gives you a baseline prediction for how long mechanical and electrical systems will function in between repairs. These predictions put shape and structure around your near-term preventative maintenance plans and long-term capital expenditures. In this article, we're going to help you understand the importance of MTBF for efficient and profitable hotel operations. You'll learn what MTBF is, how to calculate MTBF and how to use MTBF in your hotel. We’ll also equip you with two other maintenance and reliability metrics that will reshape how you approach maintenance ops at your hotel!   What’s MTBF (+MTBF Calculation)? MTBF stands for the mean time between failures. It's the average period of time that equipment or electronic systems operate between failures. You can think of this as “uptime” or “useful time.” In other words, MTBF is a reliability metric!   To calculate MTBF, pull a failures report for a given system and then calculate the amount of time or period of time between each failure. Then, add up the total time between failures and divide by the total number of failures. Here’s an example for an in-room HVAC system:  -Starts February 1st, fails Feb 28th: 28 days -Starts April 1st, fails May 19th: 49 days -Starts May 23rd, fails July 4th: 42 days MTBF = (28+49+42)/3 = 39.67 days Most hotel systems will be calculated in days. For systems that require more precision, it may make sense to shorten the intervals to hours and minutes.  A perfect example of  the benefit of position is your laundry facility. A failure of one of your industrial-sized laundry machines during a peak period could really affect your ability to flip rooms and serve your guests. You could mitigate this risk by closely monitoring the MTBF of your machines to predict when they may need service outside of scheduled maintenance.  One thing to note: MTBF doesn't include the time it takes to make repairs and re-enter service. It’s only the time between when the equipment or electronic system enters service and when it fails. Repair time isn't an important thing to include because you’re really trying to get at the functional uptime and reliability of individual systems.  The MTBF value is an important step to increasing the lifespan of your physical assets through smart building and equipment management - but measurement is only the first step.   How to Use MTBF in Real Estate and Hotel Operations MTBF is an ally in optimizing your hotel’s operations. By monitoring the failure of mechanical and electronic systems, it keeps your preventive maintenance schedule on track, prevents problems from escalating, and extends the useful life of your capital expenditures. Preventative maintenance: MTBF is a key component of data-driven preventative maintenance. Continuing the example above, if you know that your average HVAC failure occurs every 39 days, you can proactively schedule your preventative maintenance and take the room out of service to avoid a negative guest experience. You can also budget internal labor and external resources accordingly so that you are not surprised by “unexpected” expenses that could actually have been predicted by the data. Identifying problematic equipment: MTBF also helps you optimize your operations by identifying areas of concern. If the MTBF of your in-room HVACs dips to 20 days, then that’s a problem! Either something is affecting your mechanical systems or they’re getting old and you need to allocate budget for upgrades. Either way, your profitability will quickly be impacted by overspending on repairs and taking too many rooms out of service.  Safety: Some areas of concern may actually be related to safety. While it's inconvenient to have no air conditioning in a guest room, it could be a safety issue when an elevator fails or a hot water heater breaks. MTBF helps you keep an eye on mission-critical and safety-related equipment. Extending useful life: Since it tracks the operational performance of mechanical and electronic systems, MTBF also helps you extend the useful lifetime value of your investments. The better you are at managing your assets, the stronger your profitability. It’s a simple fact that separates the best hotel operators from the rest.  Evaluating new tech: MTBF is a helpful criteria when choosing systems for your hotel. You should ask vendors for this metric and dick into how they calculated it. Then, talk to other hotels to verify that number. As we all know, equipment may not last as long as vendors predict! Once you have an idea of how long a TV, door lock, POS terminal, or other system lasts, you can plan accordingly.   Can MTBF Be Used for Non-Repairable Items? Great question! The answer is no. MTBF is used for items that can be repaired more than once. For items that must be replaced upon failure, such as light bulbs, we use Mean Time To Failure (MTTF). So if a light bulb fails every 5.6 years, then it's MTTF is 5.6 years. MTTF can be used for all kinds of single-use/non-repairable items across your property to make more precise expense forecasts, which then influence your forecasted capital investments and bottom-line profitability.   Other Maintenance Metrics for Hotels In addition to MTBF and MTTF, there are two other key metrics for managing preventative maintenance and extending the life of your equipment: MTTD is the mean time to detect, or the time that it takes your team to detect an issue once it's occurred. Thankfully, smart devices and connected systems detect issues in real-time, thus pushing MTTD  for certain systems to zero. Even so, you may want to encourage faster detection by tracking MTTD in your preventive maintenance plan, MTTR is the mean time to repair, or the time that it takes you to fix an issue once it's detected. This actually has a very real impact on hotel operations, as having rooms and other equipment out of service affects the guest experience and bottom-line profitability.  As a metric of efficiency and proactivity, your maintenance team should always strive to shorten the mean time to repair.   Getting Started With MTBF The first step is to start tracking failures. Your preventative maintenance software can do this for you or you can use a simple spreadsheet. These logs are essential to monitoring the time between failures; without that information, you can't optimize performance. If your team is not already in the habit of logging equipment issues, make it a priority to train everyone on the new system. They will need to log the time of failure and the time of repair completion so that you can calculate MTTR and MTBF. For non-repairable items, it would just be the time of failure for an accurate calculation of MTTF.   With those metrics, you’ll have much greater control over maintenance costs and repair times, which have a direct line to profitability and capital expenditures!

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What is a CMMS? (+15 Best Vendors of 2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Hotels see a lot of wear and tear. And, when a hotel room is out of commission for maintenance, a property stands to lose a lot in revenue – by one estimate, a hotel loses $17,653 for every day the room is unavailable. Maintenance is a massive part of hotel and real estate operations, but it gets very little attention as compared to other functions of running a hospitality business. As a result, adding CMMS software to your preventive maintenance program can dramatically improve the maintenance operations efficiency and service of your hotel property – and ensure you don’t lose revenue due to an unresolved maintenance issue leading to asset downtime. Here’s what to look for in a work order system, as well as some popular software picks worth checking out.   What is a CMMS System? CMMS Stands for Computerized Maintenance Management System. A CMMS is designed for maintenance tasks at large businesses and is therefore often referred to as an EAM platform (enterprise asset management).  As such, they have features designed to manage maintenance teams and processes across the entire organization from start to finish.  The core value propositions of a CMMS are: (1) optimize operating efficiency through streamlining maintenance activities and (2) decrease maintenance costs through more effective inventory management. A CMMS is, at its core, a SaaS (software) database. In addition to digitizing the work order process described above, the CMMS will also have the capability to track resources and labor availability, register assets, automate the scheduling of preventative maintenance, track inventory, and provide reporting across maintenance categories.  Here's a quick checklist of CMMS features to give you an idea for what this software is capable of: Predictive maintenance: use data to automatically recommend upkeep like an HVAC servicing beyond basic maintenance schedules. Maintenance manager reports: real-time visibility into asset health across a structure or group of structures via easy-to-understand KPIs.  Asset performance and equipment downtime should be easy to understand for anyone in an organization. Maintenance history/track work orders: Logs of all changes or tasks completed related to an assets lifecycle. Maintenance strategy coaching: Most software companies in the CMMS space with with dozens or hundreds of other asset owners and should be able to provide insight into maintenance processes and best practices. In addition to making the maintenance workflow more efficient, CMMS tools provide more reliable uptime – meaning they help your team keep the lights on and the property running smoothly for as long as possible.   Understanding The Basics of Maintenance Software Work order software is a tool that creates, organizes, assigns, and tracks maintenance requests at a hotel property. This type of software is usually cloud-based and can route requests to mobile devices or stations around your property. It’s more efficient and accurate than managing work orders through pen and paper or via email.  Work order systems can do more than just send requests to the right maintenance staff. These tools let you track the status of the work order in real-time, and also provide reports and analytics to show you how well your maintenance management function is performing. Overall, adding work order software to your tech stack allows you to simplify the work order process. Generally, the work order process happens in three phases: creation, completion, and recording. The creation phase begins the work order process. Whether a maintenance task is planned (e.g., checking the hotel’s fire alarm system) or unplanned (e.g., fixing a burst pipe), a manager or staff member must identify the task for it to enter the system. Next, the request is created with added details such as level of priority, the person responsible for completing the task, the location where the maintenance is required, and – most importantly – the deadline. Next, the person assigned to the task (usually an engineer) completes the work requested. This could be as simple as reading a meter, checking a piece of equipment or as complicated as fixing a leak in the hotel pool. Once the maintenance work has been completed, the technician will log it as such in the work order system. A manager will sign off to validate the completion of the task or help find the resources needed if the task is incomplete.  Once the manager signs off on the completed task, the work order gets logged and archived for future reference. This record allows technicians to track on-site issues over time. For instance, if an HVAC system requires regular maintenance, the work order system can tell a technician the last time the system was serviced. Likewise, it can also alert your hotel when it’s time to replace old or worn-out equipment.   15 Best CMMS Vendors for Hotels 2021 The best work order software combines asset management and record-keeping with an efficient ticketing system and powerful reporting. Here are the top ten work order software platforms of 2021.   hotelkit Facility Management As a 2021 HotelTechAward winner, hotelkit is known for its robust communication platform and ease of use. The software supports a slew of hotel operations needs, including work orders, inspections, and walkthroughs. Staff members can submit work orders from their mobile devices, plus upload photos, then the request gets automatically triaged to the right team and tracked for accountability and reporting. For easy end-to-end operations, hotelkit integrates with many property management systems, like protel, Oracle’s OPERA PMS, and Mews. hotelkit offers a 30-day free trial, then the monthly subscription fee is charged on a per-room basis, making it suitable for hotels of any size.   ALICE Maintenance ALICE’s suite of services includes functionality for all aspects of hotel operations, from guest messaging to maintenance. The Preventative Maintenance module allows staff to submit and assign maintenance requests, track equipment usage or issues, and complete walkthrough checklists - all from their mobile devices. ALICE aims to minimize a hotel’s capital expenditures by making preventative maintenance part of the everyday routine; for example, seeing daily boiler pressure readings or spotting trends in maintenance requests can help you spot early warning signs of a larger facility issue so you can fix the problem before something catastrophic happens. ALICE is available with a monthly subscription fee, and it offers integrations with property management systems like OPERA and StayNTouch.   hub OS Maintenance This all-in-one operations management software supports not only maintenance requests but also housekeeping tasks, guest requests, walkthrough checklists, and reporting. hub OS’ maintenance module allows hoteliers to build and customize entire maintenance plans, with preventative indicators and trend monitoring to assist in spotting potential problems. The app also creates a calendar of scheduled maintenance tasks to comply with brand standards of local regulations, which then automatically generates work orders for the relevant teams. Since the app even works offline, using hub OS is easy anywhere and at any time, and it can use QR codes for quick identification of assets or locations. hub OS supports integrations with many property management systems, such as Mews and protel.   Flexkeeping (Maintenance) Created by a former housekeeper, Flexkeeping knows the ins and outs of hotel operations. Their maintenance management software follows four steps: report, fix, analyze, and prevent. The app allows any staff member to submit a maintenance request with photos and voice-to-text capability, then the appropriate team receives a notification so they can fix the issue as soon as possible. Flexkeeping also supports outsourced maintenance staff, so you don’t need to remember to pick up the phone to call a specialist. All tasks are tracked, and real-time reporting and analytics helps hoteliers spot trends and understand how maintenance issues affect guests and budgets. Hoteliers can try Flexkeeping for free for 30 days; after that, there is an implementation fee and a monthly subscription fee.   Transcendent Transcendent focuses on asset management and preventative maintenance, making it a great tool for hotel owners or asset managers working with multiple properties. Transcendent’s enterprise asset management dashboard tracks asset usage, issues expiration warnings, and houses documentation related to each asset to assist with capex planning and budgeting. The software also includes work order functionality, allowing staff members to submit maintenance requests and follow custom checklists for walkthroughs and inspections. Transcendent’s mobile app is available for iOS and Android, and it can read QR codes for easy access to information or task lists for a specific asset. Transcendent charges a monthly subscription per room, so it works for both small and large properties or hotel groups.   CHAMPS CMMS CHAMPS CMMS includes easy drag-and-drop functionality to help hotel teams schedule and manage maintenance tasks. Mobile compatibility with this cloud-based solution allows teams to work flexibly, providing real-time updates from anywhere on the property. CHAMPS also includes asset inventory and purchasing capability so that your team can create purchase orders for new materials or equipment.   Maxpanda CMMS Maxpanda gets high marks from reviewers for being a flexible CMMS solution. Automated scheduling allows teams to set up alerts for recurring maintenance tasks. Create work order requests for any type of maintenance request. Filter reports using different metrics, including job number, start and end date, completion status, or cost.   Hippo CMMS Hippo CMMS is one of the most affordable software options on the market. It’s a relatively straightforward system that allows users to keep track of multiple work orders throughout the work order process. Hippo also provides a function where technicians can attach photos or documents to the order record for future reference.  Limble CMMS  Limble CMMS is an award-winning tool that claims to help customers capture a 30% boost in overall communication and productivity. The app is compatible with iOS and Android and provides features to streamline work orders, improve communication, manage assets and inventory, and generate reports.   Accruent Accruent, formerly known as Maintenance Connection, is one of the top-rated CMMS options for hotels. This tool’s mobile CMMS lets technicians and managers take their management tasks on the go – so anywhere on the property, a work order can be assigned and accepted. Plus, its reporting feature includes over 200 report template types to help your team set benchmarks, monitor work, and identify obstacles in your workflow.   ManagerPlus Managing maintenance at multiple properties? ManagerPlus might be the right option for your hotel. ManagerPlus’s asset management feature allows you to track equipment across multiple locations – so if one property borrows a tool from another, it won’t go missing. This powerful tool also provides a way to manage suppliers and other contractors directly within the software, keeping communications in one place so there’s no confusion or additional back-and-forth over email.   eMaint CMMS eMaint is great for international hotel brands; it offers multilingual support in Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Hungarian, Polish, Italian and English. If you’re working on a large maintenance project, consider taking advantage of this tool’s document storage functionality. eMaint’s online PDF editor stores your work permits, work order records, asset profiles, and more.   Upkeep Reviewers say that Upkeep CMMS is a well-rounded, simple work order management tool. It provides everything you need to streamline maintenance at your hotel: work order creation, management, and racking with automated processes built-in and several different reporting tools. It also allows you to send push notifications and alerts if there’s an urgent maintenance need on-site.   MaintainX MaintainX gives you the chance to try the tool for free, so if you’re not sure if CMMS is right for your hotel, start here. In addition to your standard work order features, MaintainX has a built-in messaging tool that lets you comment, message, and save communication around a particular work order request. You can also upload photos to verify work completion – a nice feature if you don’t have a manager available to check that the job is done.   Fiix Fiix is another CMMS option that offers a free version. Users say that Fiix CMMS makes it easy to track maintenance and work orders, and that it’s easy to see what the status of each task is.  The free version gives you access to the mobile app with some onboarding, asset tagging, and push notifications. It also gives you a calendar and dashboard to track ongoing maintenance.    Learn more about preventative maintenance software and how work order systems can integrate with your hotel’s technology in our guide to preventive maintenance software.

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4 Common Hospitality Tech Stack Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them)

by
Matthew Lynch
2 months ago

In the age of technology, connectivity is critical to property and brand-wide success—and it affects every aspect of rising industry trends around security and mobile payments. To find the right vendors and put the right tech in place, you need the right information. You need to know how the tech you’re looking at is going to integrate with the systems you already have in place. So before anything else, view the tech through the lens of your SOPs. What would a day in the life of your staff look like? Are there significant gaps in functionality or connectivity? If so, it’s a no-go right from the start. If not, it’s time to dig into specifics. Here are four key pitfalls for hoteliers to know and avoid in order to find success:   1. Hotels have more technology than ever—and when systems don’t communicate, the business consequences can be devastating. Between your PMS, POS, and staff collaboration tools, there’s plenty to worry about. Add in guest-facing tech and hotels can suddenly have more different solutions than time to sift through them. And if a single cog in the machine isn’t working in conjunction with other things, it can be a disaster for operations. Before signing up with a new vendor, make sure what they’re offering will integrate with the critical systems your property already uses on a daily basis. Your tech should maximize your staff’s efficiency, not add extra stress or unnecessary steps. To further ensure a quality integration, look for a vendor that builds their integrations directly. A more advanced integration is much more likely to be certified or otherwise validated by others.   2. When operations suffer due to bad integrations and siloed data, the guest experience suffers as well. When systems don’t communicate, information is either duplicated or never shared at all causing guest requests to never get fulfilled or get fulfilled twice. And this isn’t something staff can be expected to handle or track. The reality is, many simpler integrations pass less information which creates a shallow and less efficient system. Make sure you are getting integrations with depth—the more information your systems can share the better. If you want to ensure the vendor you are looking at has effective integration and consistent guest satisfaction, go to the source. Ask to speak to a customer who is currently using the integrations you need. Get your questions answered by someone who can vouch for how things affect the guest experience and day-to-day operations.   3. Security is absolutely essential to connectivity. Here’s what to watch out for on that front.  If a vendor declines a security audit, there’s a reason. A good place to start is by asking if their integrations meet industry standards from organizations like HTNG (Hospitality Technology Next Generation) or OTA (OpenTravel Alliance). Are they directly involved with those industry organizations? And find out if they have regular security audits. No confident vendor declines a security audit. They aren’t easy for anyone, but they’re necessary and they exist for a reason. You need to know if their system is secure. Declining an audit is a huge problem and an indicator a vendor may not be all they say they are. Seasoned vendors will understand that request from the beginning.   4. Payments are among the highest levels of integration to achieve and the thing everyone wants right now. Payments are the most in-demand integration: are the vendors you’re looking at prepared? If a vendor has payments capabilities right now, that’s an indicator they’re advanced and up to speed on the latest developments in hospitality. Ask: Do they process or facilitate mobile payments—namely, do they leverage a PCI-compliant payment gateway that has authorization and settlement capabilities specifically for lodging? If they do, huge green light. If not, a little worrying. Beyond the overall importance of connectivity and how it affects trends like security and payments, buyers should be looking for a trustworthy vendor above all else, and knowing which questions to ask during the buying process plays a key role in determining that. So there you have it: those are some of the red flags you should be watching for—but what are the green flags? If you want to find a vendor partner that goes above and beyond, there are two quick things to check for: a dedicated team for integrations and a product roadmap that demonstrates ongoing commitment to innovation. If a vendor has both of those things, they’re likely not just good at what they do, but great at it. For more in-depth vendor questions, check out 10 Questions to Ask Vendors Before Your Next Purchase.  

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18 Must-Have Features of a Hotel Management System

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

Choosing a hotel management software system is like buying a car: it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of options, and it can be difficult to find trusted advice about the PMS features you need most. “There’s often a misconception in business software that one size fits all. Every hotel has very specific needs based on property size, chain scale, geography, and dozens of other variables. On top of that, every owner or manager has their own preferences in terms of design, usability, and support.  It is absolutely critical to narrow down the problem you’re trying to solve to engage with PMS vendors, and ensure you aren’t being sold on things that your property doesn’t need” says Amelia Gain, CEO of popular Hotel PMS company Preno. Hotel industry veterans often use the analogy of a duck on a lake to describe hotel operations.  Above the surface, the duck appears calm and collected, but under the surface its legs are kicking furiously. Guests are often stressed with their own travel plans, or are trying to escape stress altogether during their holiday, so it is critical for staff to appear calm and relaxed regardless of the hustle and bustle. Technology is one of the key tools that hoteliers leverage to make operations appear effortless to guests, and hotel management software is the single most important system in the entire hotel. Whether you work at an independent bed and breakfast or a global hotel chain, your hotel management system is the nucleus of your property. Nearly every member of a hotel team must access the PMS to perform daily tasks. Guest service staff need to prioritize hotel rooms that must be cleaned for early VIP arrivals. Sales & event management professionals need to block off rooms for groups. Hotel managers need to access the system for data and operating insights. Hotel management system vendor selection is one of the most important and difficult decisions a hotel operator will ever make. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what to look for so that you can make informed technology decisions for your property.   The Most Essential Hotel Management Software Functionalities Let’s start with the basics. These features are true must-haves for any modern hotelier who wants to use technology to improve the guest experience, make back office operations more efficient, and build lasting relationships with guests. Intuitive & easy-to-use interface: A user-friendly interface is the most important factor when choosing mission-critical software for a hotel. If your hotel software is complex and confusing, more mistakes will be made, costing you more money. Common tasks should not take lots of time and steps, as this slows down your team and limits your ability to grow quickly – hence the need for a powerful hotel management software system. Mobile & tablet optimised: When your manager, housekeeping team, and other staff members need to check details on a booking quickly they shouldn’t have to rush back to the office. Any system you use must not only be accessible by, but also optimized for use on mobile phones and tablets. Better yet, your owner should be able to check performance while on holiday. Clear visibility of the grid: Adding special events that are happening in the region, highlighting returning guests, and identifying guests who are yet to pay their bill are all features your grid should enable by default. Your grid should allow you to quickly & easily see key information about your guests. Guest profiles: Are you working on building guest loyalty? Guest profiles store your guests’ contact information, stay history, and even preferences, so that you can deliver a more personalized experience during their next stay. Better yet, a guest profile with stored CC’s of your guest will make it even easier for returning guests.  Email automation: You can communicate with guests and reduce manual work for your staff by deploying personalised, customised, and automated emails. Using your own templates, automated email functionality allows you to build a communication journey from the initial booking to targeted offers for repeat guests. Housekeeping management: Your PMS should allow your housekeeping team to mark rooms as clean, dirty, or out of order. Having this information in one central place gives the front desk visibility of room statuses, so that they can accommodate early check-in’s and room moves without needing to radio the housekeeping supervisor.     Reservation management: Perhaps the absolute most essential PMS feature is reservations management and front office features. By housing all of your reservations digitally, hoteliers can make a paper reservation book a thing of the past. Within reservations management, you should be able to set rates, control availability, offer promotions, and visualize reservations on a calendar. Room management: The room management module of a PMS is like your virtual front desk. This functionality lets front desk agents check guests in and out, and cancel or extend reservations with just a few simple clicks. Group bookings/reservations: If your hotel plans on hosting any type of event or group of guests, then group reservations functionality is crucial. Group reservation features include allowing guests to book reservations within the room block, exporting a room list, and configuring billing settings so that you can bill one account for multiple rooms. Invoicing: When most guests check out, they want a copy of their bill, so, your PMS should be able to easily export guests’ folios that contain all charges from their stay. Similarly, you’ll want solid, straightforward financial reporting that helps you reconcile revenue and expenses from room revenue, outlets, vendors, and more. Payment processing: Gone are the days when guests paid with cash or cheque, so you’ll want a PMS with a payment processor integration that allows you to effortlessly charge guests’ credit cards and have secure access to major payment gateways. Business intelligence & reporting: How do you know if your hotel is doing well if you can’t measure your performance? A PMS with robust reporting features will give you insight into your revenue, ADR, RevPAR, and a slew of other metrics so that you can find opportunities for growth – and track your progress toward your goals. Rate management: Do you want to offer a non-refundable rate or value-added packages? If so, you’ll want rate management functionality that allows for multiple, customizable rate plans.     User logs & permissions: With so much turnover in the hotel industry, it is important to keep front-line staff accountable with detailed user logs to have an automated record in case of any mistakes, as well as to ensure proper training and issue resolution. Additionally, we are living in a world where consumers demand heightened security, so it is critical that staff are only able to access the parts of the hotel management system required to complete their core tasks without unnecessarily accessing sensitive information like credit card data.   Key Software Integrations to Supercharge Your Hotel Property Management System A PMS is an important software partner in its own right, but running a hotel is very complex, which usually means that more feature functionality will be needed than a PMS can provide.  For that reason, some of the most important PMS features are actually software integrations with other key systems to unlock more value and performance through real-time data sharing and triggers. Let’s explore some of the most critical PMS add-ons. Accounting software: Accounting is an ever-changing, complicated industry, and you don’t want to be stuck with software that is out of date when rules change. As such, you should look for software that has robust and complete integrations to the world leaders of accounting software like Xero. This will empower you to streamline your invoicing, reconciliation, commission payment, and billing processes and automate repetitive tasks to help your finance department run more smoothly. “Whether you’re tracking agency commissions or configuring payment policies for groups – it is vital for hotels of all sizes to have a seamless integration between their property management system (PMS) and hotel accounting software. Why? It saves countless hours of tedious administration via automation,” says Preno’s CEO, Amelia Gain. Point-of-sale system integration: If your hotel has a restaurant, bar, spa, or other outlets, then an integrated POS can do wonders for your operations. When your POS can talk to your PMS, guests can seamlessly charge purchases to their room, and you can keep a record of guest purchasing activity to analyze trends and personalize future loyalty offers. Channel manager: Do you work with third-party channels like Booking.com and Expedia? If so, you’ll need a channel manager to push your rates and availability to these platforms, and more. In return, it will send reservations back to your PMS to capture more hotel bookings. A channel manager can also prevent overbookings by syncing with your PMS since it will know when to turn off distribution as a certain room type gets sold out. Channel manager software solutions are also important for hotels to optimize the allocation of rooms across channels and to ensure maximum profitability.   Booking engine: Allow guests to book directly with you, with no expensive commissions. An online booking engine, which publishes your rates and availability to your website, collects the necessary information from guests, and creates reservations in your PMS. Looking for more advice and information on hotel management systems? Download Hotel Tech Report’s 2021 Hotel Management Software Buyer's Guide to inform your vendor search.   This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.

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Hotel Groups are Using Operations Software to Adapt & Innovate Through Crisis

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

As the pandemic continues to bring uncertainty to the travel industry, we know one thing’s certain: technology is a key partner for hotels that want to make creative changes to their operations to not only survive but improve the guest experience (and maybe even the bottom line!) during these trying times. While today’s innovation might be driven by necessity, running a tighter ship will deliver positive change in the long run. Utilizing technology effectively now, with a focus on positive guest experiences and efficient operations, can greatly benefit hotels that choose to take advantage of it for years to come. To better illustrate how technology provides the “building blocks” for innovation in the hotel space, ALICE Creative Director Sean Cohen spoke with Richard See III from the San Luis Resort properties in Galveston, TX. Richard oversees room operations at the group’s three hotels, including the San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center, the Hilton Galveston Island Resort, and the Holiday Inn Galveston Beach Resort. Curious to hear about some real-life examples of using technology to build better guest experiences and more efficient operations? Let’s dive in.   Driving Guest Engagement From a Safe Distance If you want to better engage with guests, your hotel needs to communicate via their preferred method. And for an increasing number of guests, that preferred method is text messaging. We all know how emails can get lost in the shuffle, not to mention how they can come off as spammy, so text messages provide a quick, concise way to get your point across. A technology partner that supports both text and email communication, such as ALICE, can not only help you communicate important information but also engage with guests in fun ways. At one of Richard’s properties, during their annual Halloween pumpkin contest, guests could cast their votes via email or text message. Nearly 130 guests participated - but only 2 submitted votes via email. Text messaging was by far the most effective way to engage. Contests are just the tip of the iceberg; with a reliable communication platform that supports text messages, you can build upon guest relationships in a plethora of creative ways.   Identifying Issues On Property Despite Low Staffing Levels Does your hotel have a chronic air conditioning problem? Or noise during the night? If you’ve never heard about issues like these, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Using a technology partner that houses all guest communication can help you uncover issues at your property potentially unknown to management and, once fixed, improve the guest experience. As Richard says, “Before ALICE, our information was not being captured and processed efficiently. Now if we need to locate an issue, we can simply reference ALICE, the data is there. ALICE allows us to see and solve problems in real-time.” Data tracked and exported from a system like ALICE provides the necessary statistics to determine issues that need resolution - and just how prevalent those issues might be. Without a digital record of these guest complaints or interactions, it’s nearly impossible to determine the frequency and severity of such issues.   Ensuring Accountability with Less Oversight Since platforms like ALICE track every interaction, case, and task assignment, employees can hold true accountability and see each case through to completion. When a task or case involves multiple employees or departments, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. But if the task is housed in a digital platform, visible to the entire team or departments, this extra transparency helps to ensure nothing is missed. As Richard states, “we love that ALICE emails the original creator of the ticket once the issue has been resolved. That way the team members involved can be certain that the case was completed.”   Enabling Employees to Onboard New Skills as Managers Flex Staffing Levels Technology isn’t just a partner in building a more efficient hotel; the right technology platforms can also help you flex staffing levels and employee skills. ALICE’s platform, for example, allows internal users to assign tasks to certain departments and employees. At one of Richard’s San Luis hotels, the task of placing a room amenity like a “happy birthday” card is typically assigned to the concierge department. However, if any tasks need to be transferred between departments, ALICE makes the transition smooth. Within the ALICE dashboard, any necessary task reassignment is as easy as clicking a button. Similarly, public area attendants would typically receive task assignments related to keeping the lobby clean, but with less traffic in the lobby and a scaled-down housekeeping team, housekeeping managers would reassign tasks like bringing extra towels up to a room to public area attendants. The entire process was as simple as a few mouse clicks; public area attendants would see these new tasks in their regular task dashboard.   Quickly Pivoting Operating Models and SOPs During the pandemic, many hotels needed to make tough operational decisions. At Richard’s Hilton property, they decided to consolidate their housekeeping staff with the neighboring San Luis Resort. In a typical hotel, without a technology partner, an operational shakeup like this could be a nightmare. But with ALICE in place, the transition at Richard’s hotels was actually quite seamless. He describes: “Using San Luis as our home base, we were able to dispatch tasks and manage both hotels with one housekeeping department. Having ALICE at our disposal made task management much easier because we were able to forward the housekeeping requests from the Hilton property to [the San Luis]. As Hilton guests called down from their rooms, we added the tickets in ALICE, which then alerted staff members at The San Luis next door. [If we didn’t have ALICE], an extreme shift like this would have likely been flawed.” Of course, we certainly don’t want any hotel to be in the situation of needing to let go of a department, but as Richard’s example shows, even in tough spots technology can provide the building blocks your hotel needs to survive. As we look toward the future of hotel operations, technology is the backbone of exciting trends and ideas that will shape the guest experience going forward. Hotels that embrace technology will be the ones to transform their operations using the high-tech to their full potential - including some creative, out-of-the-box use cases like we’ve illustrated here.   This content was created collaboratively by ALICE and Hotel Tech Report.  

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5 Strategies to Improve Your Hotel’s Digital Registration Process

by
Evan Chen
5 months ago

Digital registration for hotels is a win all around. It makes your hotel safer by reducing contact. It’s more convenient for guests. And it helps your staff keep better records. Many hotels were already moving towards digital registration because of these advantages, but the Covid-19 era caused everyone to rush towards digital registration whether they were ready or not. Now that we’ve all more or less settled into digital registration, it’s time to turn our focus towards making it better. With that in mind, this article aims to show you five immediately applicable steps you can take to improve your hotel’s digital registration process.   1. Collect guest data from the outset With guests finding hotels and registering online, it’s easier than ever to plug them into your marketing channels. With their permission, you can easily collect guests’ email and social media accounts. This allows you to reach out to them to keep your brand in the front of their mind, and it also allows you to use their data to learn what it is that makes guests choose your hotel over others. But it all starts with using data intentionally.    2. Leveraging popular messaging channels to set expectations When guests digitally register, it allows you to easily open communication channels before they ever even arrive. A texting toolkit like Akia can integrate with your property management systems (PMS) to personalize information and even automate many of the common queries, only directing the conversation to staff when necessary. This frees up staff time and it significantly quickens response times for customers.   3. Go fully contactless by offering mobile key The last thing people want after a long day of traveling is to stand in a slow-moving line at a hotel lobby. Even without the need for social distancing these days, it is simply a more convenient guest experience to enter a hotel and go directly to your room and then directly into a cozy hotel bed. Digital key platforms like Flexipass easily integrate with your digital registration process in order to provide the absolute most convenient guest experience possible.   4. Audit cybersecurity and data storage There’s a lot on the upside of digital registration, but let’s not ignore the downside. Data is currency these days, and we make ourselves targets when collecting a lot of digital data. Improving security is your responsibility, and it is also in your best interests; we’ve all seen a brand dragged through the mud after a security breach. A good PMS will have high quality security systems built into it. As you further integrate digital registration, it’s time to make sure that you and your staff are informed of security best practices and keeping the PMS up to date.   5. Focus on usability and experience design Hotels use a variety of programs from other companies in our digital world. Many of these digital platforms allow you to customize them in order to present your consistent brand image across all of the platforms; the platforms likely will even help you do this. It’s a step you should absolutely take. Your brand is the reason guests choose you over all the other hotels they see listed nearby, so make sure they see it bright and clear. -- With the rush to implement a hotel digital registration process, hoteliers need to make sure they are also providing the best customer experience possible. You will see the most immediate benefit to your hotel’s digital registration process by improving the data use, communication, convenience, security, and presentation of your digital platforms.   

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The 9 Most Futuristic High Tech Hotels in the World

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months 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 City The 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, Poland The 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 Francisco At 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, Zurich The 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 Hotels Another 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.   Cityhub A 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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How to Select Hotel Door Locks for Your Property

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 months ago

If you’re building a new hotel or upgrading hotel rooms in an existing property, you may feel overwhelmed at the plethora of door lock options. Hotel door locks today are more complicated than simple deadbolts and door handles.  Electronic door locks in the hospitality industry require access control mechanisms and even keyless entry software systems to operate in a way that meets evolving guest expectations.  Door locks, besides providing a simple security measure, give you an opportunity to provide a better guest experience when you choose the right one for your property. Wondering how to choose? In this article, we’ll explain the various types of door lock systems and hardware, and we’ll provide some key considerations in making your decision. Let’s get started!   First Things First: Overview of Door Lock Hardware While door locks might seem like a somewhat trivial part of the guest experience, they can actually create either a frictionless experience or cause a big headache for guests and employees. Since door locks are present not only on guestroom doors but also on amenity areas (gym, business center, etc.) and exterior entrances, guests and employees will interact with them frequently. The first decision you’ll need to make is which type of door lock hardware is best: full-body locks or separate component locks. What’s the difference? Full-body locks Also known as unibody locks, full-body locks are one single piece of hardware. The handle, reader, and locking mechanism are one structure. Full-body locks come in a variety of finishes, like stainless steel, and the battery is often housed on the inside side of the lock. These locks usually require little to no modification on the actual door, meaning they’re quick and easy to install. Although they might look a little clunky, they cover roughly the same surface area as a traditional magstripe lock, so they’re a good solution if you want to upgrade from your old magstripe system with minimal modifications to the door. Separate component locks As the name suggests, separate component locks include two separate pieces: a reader and a lock handle. These locks take up much less real estate on the door, giving them a more minimalist look, but the installation is slightly more complicated as it requires two steps - installing the handle and installing the reader. However, separate component locks give you more flexibility for future lock upgrades or changes since they have a smaller footprint on the door, and since most store the battery inside the door itself, these locks have a more attractive design.   How Do You Open It? Overview of Door Lock Technology Now that we’ve explained the two main types of door lock hardware, you may be wondering which type of unlocking technology is best. Software and hardware must work seamlessly to facilitate a seamless customer journey via the internet of things.  Unless you’re a historic B&B, perhaps, you probably won’t be using mechanical door locks with a traditional key. Instead, you’ll want to bring your property into the 21st century with a secure and convenient electronic locking system. The four most popular types of door lock technology are magstripe, PIN code, RFID, and BLE. That’s a lot of acronyms, so let’s explore each one in more detail. Magstripe These old-school locks were once the cutting edge of lock technology, but today, many hoteliers are eager to upgrade to a more secure system. Guests or employees unlock magstripe locks with a keycard that has a magnetic strip, similar to a credit card. The keycard can be programmed to allow access to only certain rooms or during a specific timeframe. However, magstripe locks are notoriously glitchy, and the keycard can be easily deactivated near electronic devices (like smartphones), so many guests run into lockout situations that require them to return to the front desk to reactivate their keycards - not an ideal experience! PIN Code Many locks require an access item for entry, like a keycard, fob, or smartphone, but a PIN code lock only requires a numerical code. A PIN code lock has a keypad where users can type in their code. Simple PIN code locks have a static code that doesn’t change (unless you change it manually), but today many electronic PIN code locks allow codes to be changed remotely and as often as necessary. Certain PIN code locks even integrate with your property management system and automatically assign a unique code to each reservation. While guests don’t need to carry around a key for these locks, they do need to remember their code. RFID Radio frequency identification technology is becoming increasingly common as a better version of magstripe locks. Instead of magnetic stripe keycards, RFID keycards are embedded with an RFID chip that is not easily deactivated and can store more data and permissions than a magstripe keycard can. To unlock the lock, guests simply wave the RFID card in front of the reader, so it’s less error-prone than swiping a magstripe keycard. While RFID technology sounds like the obvious upgrade from magstripe locks, it’s important to note that RFID keycards are significantly more expensive than magstripe keycards. BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) Though it sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, Bluetooth low energy locks allow guests to unlock doors with their smartphones. The smartphone sends an encrypted “message” to the lock so only guests or employees with the right permissions can gain entry, meaning this type of lock is very secure - especially since there’s no possibility of losing a physical keycard. One hurdle in BLE lock adoption is the requirement that guests download an app that works with the lock system, but in recent years guests have gotten more accustomed to digital hotel amenities, so the app download isn’t as much of an obstacle. In fact, BLE locks can be a big benefit in today’s hotel landscape since they are totally contactless - guests can check in online, bypass the front desk, and let themselves into their room.   How to Choose the Ideal Hotel Door Lock System There’s a lot of choice when it comes to hotel door lock hardware and software. Before making a purchase decision, you’ll want to weigh your options and determine what your priorities are. Do you want a lock that’s easy to install, or is a stylish look more important? Do you want guests to use a keycard, a PIN code, or a smartphone to gain access to their rooms? And how much do you want to spend? Magstripe locks, for example, are less expensive than RFID locks, but magstripe locks are more likely to cause guest experience issues and lockouts. BLE locks don’t require any type of keycard, but they do require every guest to install a smartphone app, which can cause confusion among less tech-savvy travelers. Once you’ve narrowed down the type of hardware and technology that would work best for your property, you can engage in conversation with a lock vendor that offers your ideal lock system. Popular hotel door lock companies include: ASSA ABLOY Dorma kaba Onity Salto Schlage With the right lock and lock technology, you can turn the simple act of entering a guestroom into a positive guest experience. Before you start down the path of a hardware provider you'll want to explore keyless entry system cost and features to ensure that whatever hardware you land on will be flexible enough to work with the software that meets your hotel's needs and to ensure that the software won't void your hardware warranties.  Ready to move beyond hotel door locks and explore keyless entry solutions providers? Check out the 10 Best Mobile Key Vendors for Hotels.