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Technology in Hospitality: 17 Trends Shaping the Industry

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

 What will the next few years of innovation look like in the hotel industry? With so much innovation and change in the hospitality space, it can be difficult to decide what new software to purchase or where to allocate budget. Although the industry changes rapidly, it’s clear that a few key trends are driving hotels forward. In this article, we’ll walk you through 17 trends that are relevant to hotels of all shapes and sizes. Some trends, like the shift toward a mobile-first and cashless experience, transcend the hotel industry. Other trends, like mixed-use spaces and vacation rental marketplaces, spotlight the blurring of lines between short-term rentals, hotels, work space, and residential properties.

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Payments as a Growth Driver in Hospitality

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Hotels and hotel chains that have been awaiting a post-pandemic travel boom are now facing an economic downturn that’s likely to constrain both business and consumer travel. As these businesses look for levers they can pull to increase revenue, reduce costs, and offer an outstanding customer experience, “payments processing” probably isn’t an obvious option.That’s probably because historically, payments providers have provided a commodity service that’s at worst viewed as an unavoidable cost center and at best treated as an afterthought. But this legacy model is now being replaced with a new way of thinking about payments, which is why we’ve partnered with Stripe to discuss how payments can catalyze growth for the hospitality industry.Modern providers need to do more than just process payments, because modern businesses have increasingly complex needs and consumer preferences are constantly changing. That’s why Stripe offers software to create optimized payments experiences, streamline revenue management, and facilitate a range of different business models from subscriptions to multi-sided marketplaces.These are the kinds of capabilities that hotels need to be thinking about as they’re exploring new ways to grow amidst our current economic climate. It takes a provider truly focused on technology to deliver what’s needed, and modern providers like Stripe are much more focused on building new payments technologies than traditional providers. For example, about 37% of Stripe employees are engineers, compared to only 11-12% of the teams at two major incumbents (according to LinkedIn employment data). By working with a tech company like Stripe, your business is able to build on flexible modern infrastructure–and ultimately execute faster.In this article we’ll explore the paradigm shift in hospitality from the legacy view of payments as a cost center to the modern view of payments as a revenue driver. We’ll cover the different ways that hotel businesses of all sizes can use payments innovation to their advantage using a modern provider like Stripe.

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Hotel Payments Processing: Understanding the Fees and Stakeholders

by
Jan Hejny
9 months ago

Most hoteliers don't know how much they're paying for transactions. Do you? Sure, many can tell you their Booking.com commission rate, yet, if you start digging and asking (the right) questions, you'd be surprised to realize that payments fees are out of sight and out of mind. Chances are that if you knew what you were paying you wouldn't be particularly thrilled with the credit card transactions fees you pay.Typically, hotel payment processing fees on transactions range from about 0.7% to 3.5%, and that eats into profits. However, if this is not bad enough, many other "invisible" costs are involved with payments. And some of them are so well-hidden that it can take years for even the most savvy hoteliers to get a full grasp of the ecosystem tolls. Many hoteliers are overpaying their providers without even realizing it. But don't be fooled: when selecting a processor, only considering transaction fees is, at least, misleading, so if someone is undercharging you there, it's very likely they're adding a markup somewhere else. There are so many players interested when it comes to payments, so it's relatively easy to bury another fee or two here and there without the hotel even discovering it. Payment: A Long JourneyWhenever a transaction is made (online, in person, via phone/email, etc.), there are at least seven parties involved:The consumer: in hospitality, that's the guest. Usually, he's the cardholder or the person paying for the stay;The merchant: the business which is selling the services (or the products for the retail industry). In our case, that's the hotel;The gateway: the technology needed to connect the hotel to the payment processor.The payment processor: it enables the communication between the hotel, the credit card network, and the guest's bank;The credit card network: it's the guest's credit card brand (Visa, Amex, Mastercard, etc.);The issuing bank: the guest's bank making the payment;The acquiring bank: the hotel's bank receiving the payment.This means that, during each step of the payment, extra charges can be applied, sometimes indiscriminately. Here are some of the primary examples of additional costs:Buy rates: processors' costs associated with opening and maintaining the merchant's account. They are, basically, the acquiring bank's fees, made of the interchange + the acquiring bank's markup;Card issues charges: charges made by the card-issuing bank based on the type of the card and its location. For instance, EU-issued personal debit cards are capped to 0.2%, while credit cards to 0.3%. Business cards, on the other hand, are not capped. Booking.com's issuing bank, for example, charges an additional 2% for its virtual card. (Yup, if you do the math, receiving payment through BKG's card will cost you up to 1.8% more than a debit card...);Card scheme fees: fees charged typically by the card brands. Although not very high, they can vary and be very complex;Card tokenization charges: To charge a credit/debit card, a PMS should receive (usually from a partner, such as a channel manager or a booking engine) the number first, and then, tokenize it. Tokenization assures secure storage of credit card numbers and PCI compliance, so it's a crucial service. Here, however, is where systems tend to apply very different rates, and when hotels usually don't look. The payment gateway we use charges 0.05€ per tokenized card, but we've seen PMSs charging four/five times that amount. Moreover, some systems even apply "double tokenizations," meaning that they charge twice if a guest, for example, modifies his reservation on an OTA. Yes, a guest postponing the check-out date can cost you double what you already paid... Sure, a small property could not even notice it, but what if you're running a 100+ key hotel?Payment gateway fees: these are typically charged for initializing a transaction (it can be a payment, a refund, a preauthorization, collect/cancel of preauthorization, etc.). The cost can vary from gateway to gateway, and some systems may also add a markup.Wire Fee: some acquirers charge a fee every single time they send a settlement. If you, like ourselves, receive one a day, that can become quite expensive very quickly. Moreover, your bank may charge you an additional wire fee, making things even worse. How to Save Money on PaymentsSo, how can you avoid falling into this trap and overpaying for your transactions? Unless you have a complete understanding of how payments work at a higher level, it's challenging get the entire picture.  Start by asking the right questions to your provider. Don't settle with the "we offer the lowest transaction fees in the industry." That's just the marketing department talking, and it won't save you from all the "invisible" costs. Instead, download the latest invoice and start checking all the entries. You may not understand all of them, but at least you now know where to look.

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Apple Pay is Finally Here for Hotels and It’s Glorious

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Imagine a world where booking a hotel is as quick and painless as ordering from your favorite food delivery app or buying something on Amazon: just a few taps, and you’re done. It sounds futuristic, but with Selfbook and Apple Pay - hotels can finally deliver a seamless hotel booking experience.  Selfbook recently announced that it closed its $25M Series A led by Tiger Global Management to accelerate it’s vision for the future of hotel payments.Since 2014 more than half of online purchases have been made on mobile devices, and we’ve already seen mobile-friendly payment methods like Shop Pay yield staggering four-fold increases in checkout speed and conversion increases of up to 1.91x. Since Apple has a 15% share of the mobile device market (55% in the U.S.), Apple Pay is the preferred payment method for a sizable group of your potential guests.In this article, we’ll explain what hoteliers need to know about Apple Pay and how it can enable better (and more profitable) booking experiences. We’ll walk through examples of ecommerce and hospitality brands that have found success with the platform then introduce you to Selfbook’s booking and payment solution which provides turnkey Apple Pay booking compatibility. We’ll also highlight why innovative hoteliers like you need to offer Apple Pay if you want to boost conversion and compete with the OTAs.

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2023)

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 weeks 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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4 Common Hospitality Tech Stack Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them)

by
Matthew Lynch
1 year 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
1 month 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 hotel 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 FunctionalitiesLet’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 SystemA 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 2022 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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5 Strategies to Improve Your Hotel’s Digital Registration Process

by
Evan Chen
10 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 outsetWith 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 expectationsWhen 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 keyThe 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 storageThere’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 designHotels 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
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!