If you’ve sold rooms through online travel agencies, chances are you’ve received a stern email from at least one of those channels alerting you about some rooms at your hotel available on a competitor OTA or on your hotel's booking engine at a lower rate. OTAs like Expedia often lock hotels into a guarantee that they will never offer a lower price on other channels - including their own! Maybe the email to your revenue management team said you were “in breach of rate parity clauses,” but what does hotel rate parity really mean? If you want to get the most out of your third-party distribution partnerships while still driving direct reservations, you’ll need to understand the ins and outs of rate parity to be able to maximize both sources of business. In this article, we’ll explain exactly what rate parity means, how it impacts your channel management strategy, why it matters, and how you can continue to build your direct channel while maintaining a good standing on the OTAs. What is Hotel Rate Parity and Why Does it Matter? “Rate parity” in the hotel industry refers to the practice of selling equal rates across different distribution channels. For example, if your hotel is selling a $299 rate on New Year’s Eve on your own website and on Expedia and Booking.com for the same room type, then you’re in parity. On the flip side, if your own website has a $249 rate while Expedia and Booking.com have a $299 rate for the same room type, then you’re not in parity. Rate parity is at the core of any hotel's online distribution strategy and impacts both online travel agents and metasearch engines. A savvy hotelier might think that selling a cheaper rate on their own website is an excellent strategic decision, so why is maintaining rate parity a big deal? If you leverage third-party channels to sell inventory, then rate parity matters. Online travel agencies, like Booking.com and Expedia, ask for rate parity in their contracts. If you work with these major channels, then you’ve signed contracts that state that you will make your lowest rates available to them. The OTAs use rate parity (or lack thereof) as a tool to organize hotel listings in the search results. Hotels that are out of parity can face penalties - like lower placement and decreased visibility in the search results - if the OTA finds lower rates on other channels, including on your own hotel website. However, rate parity rules may not last too much longer. After legal challenges in Europe, some OTAs in certain regions can no longer ask for rate parity, but it’s still a requirement for hoteliers in the United States. What Are Some Challenges of Hotel Rate Parity? Rate parity puts your hotel’s website and OTAs on an equal playing field, from a pricing perspective. For guests looking at price alone, there isn’t a clear advantage to booking direct, and OTAs often offer perks like points or elite status. Furthermore, OTAs have big marketing budgets, and guests will likely go to an OTA first or click on an OTA from a Google search instead of your hotel’s own site. Although OTAs ask for rate parity, they don’t always play by their own rules. OTAs are known to play with their commission rates or markups, sometimes reducing their commission percentage to sell a lower rate - which can undercut the rates you sell on your hotel’s website. This practice is frustrating for hoteliers, and it can be difficult to force OTAs to remove your hotel from campaigns like this. Another challenge of maintaining rate parity is that you might receive a parity alert about a cheaper rate at your hotel that’s available on an OTA you’ve never heard of. Many wholesalers sell inventory to lesser known OTAs, who then add a small markup to the wholesale rates, resulting in lower rates appearing on public sites. These companies can be hard to contact and reluctant to change or remove the rate. In these instances, rates are truly out of parity, but sometimes hotels get flagged for rates out of parity when they’re actually in parity. Many hotels use dynamic pricing strategies, which means their rates fluctuate constantly, and if one site experiences a lag in rate updates, that site could pick up a parity “violation” which is really just a technical delay. Still, the OTAs’ automated systems can penalize your listing in the search results if such issues happen frequently. Whether intentional or not, selling different rates across different channels can cause guests to question whether they’re getting a good value. Besides wanting to stay on the OTAs’ good sides, many hotels practice rate parity to maintain a consistent brand image and value proposition across all channels. How Can Hotels Monitor Rate Parity? Now that we’ve established why rate parity is important, you may be wondering how to track it. Monitoring rate parity allows you to stay ahead of OTA penalties for parity violations and to catch OTAs if they undercut your own website. Here are a few ways to track rate parity and reduce your risk of rate discrepancies: Check metasearch channels, like Google Hotels and Tripadvisor, regularly. By entering some random dates on these sites, you can quickly and easily spot-check your OTA channels to ensure they’re all selling the same rates. Use a rate shopper. Apps like Triptease, OTA Insight, or RateGain perform real-time price checks for your hotel across all platforms where you sell rooms. You can configure alerts that will let you know as soon as a date is out of parity. Be selective about the OTAs and wholesalers you work with. By only working with the most trustworthy partners, you can prevent reselling of your inventory and unauthorized rate manipulation. How Can Hotels Drive Direct Business While Maintaining Rate Parity? So, if you sell the same rates on your hotel’s website as on the OTAs, what’s stopping guests from booking on OTAs? The key to driving direct bookings is to be creative; without turning to rate discounts, how can you attract and retain guests through your direct channel? Here are a few ideas: Offer value-adds on your direct site, like free parking or early check-in, which give guests an extra reason to book directly but don’t affect the actual rate. When OTAs scrape room rates on your hotel website during rate parity checks, they only look at the dollar value of your rate, not add-ons like a waived resort fee or F&B credit. Leverage hospitality industry loyalty programs to provide "fenced rates" and different prices to closed member networks. This can be hotel brand programs like Marriott Bonvoy or those geared towards independents like The Guestbook. Target specific segments of guests with private promotions through email marketing or social media. For example, you could reach out to past guests who booked through OTAs and offer a special discount or perk if they book directly for their next stay. Make the booking process on your direct site as smooth and easy as possible so guests don’t encounter technical glitches that make OTAs their only booking option. Leverage metasearch sites. Without a direct connection to metasearch channels like Tripadvisor and Google Hotels, your own site will not be visible, and all traffic will end up on OTAs. Depending on your hotel’s room types, you could choose to sell some room types exclusively on your hotel website. However, this strategy comes with the risk that those rooms would get less exposure than they would on OTAs. With the right rate parity monitoring tools and some creative marketing strategies, your hotel can both maximize visibility on third-party platforms and drive direct bookings. Still have questions about rate parity? Let us know!
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Modern hotel stays are characterized by modern experiences for guests. One of the most impressive ways of digitalizing the hotel experience for guests is to introduce digital hotel guest directories to replace the traditional paper-based directory. In this article, we’ll highlight why and how digital guest room tablets will catapult your guest directory into the modern age. The problem with paper-based guest directories Guest directories have been used by hotels for decades. They provide hotel information, room service menus, and information about the surrounding area. There’s no doubt that they’re a vital component of the hotel experience for guests, but paper-based guest directories come with a host of problems. Firstly, they’re impractical for modern hotels. If the menu changes, or there’s a change in the information the hotel wants to provide for guests, hotel staff need to reprint new in-room collateral and then go from room to room replacing old information in the guest directory. This leads to outdated information in the hotel rooms and unsatisfied guests. Secondly, there’s the environmental aspect. Many modern guests are well aware of the impact their vacation has on the environment, and traditional hotel room guest directories seem like an unnecessary waste of paper, ink, and plastic. Lastly, there are major limits to how well traditional guest directories connect with guests. Guests are required to either call down to reception to book tables at the restaurant, order room service, or book spa treatments. In a modern world where guests are used to doing everything at the touch of a button, it’s literally easier and more convenient for them to order take out via UberEats or book a table at a local restaurant through Opentable than at the hotel. For this reason, many hotels lose out on loads of potential business. The hotel app vs. guest room tablet debate Hotel apps. Before we delve into the benefits of using guest room tablets as the main platform for your guest directory, we should broach the debate of hotel apps vs. guest room tablets. Many companies provide digital guest directory solutions through mobile apps. The benefits for hotels are clear—there’s no need for hoteliers to invest in in-room hardware such as guest room tablets. However, there are limitations to the success of mobile apps that hoteliers should be aware of. Placing your guest directory on an app puts the accessibility control in the hands of the guests. They can choose not to download the app, they can delete it if they no longer see any benefit, and they can also switch off notifications from the app. Most importantly, this solution requires your guests to actually own a smartphone—something that not everyone has access to. These reasons mean that hotel apps don’t give your hotel’s digital guest directory good visibility. Guest room tablets. Guest room tablets, on the other hand, provide 100% accessibility because guests can use them whether they own a smartphone or not. They are also independent of the guest’s accessibility control—there’s no need for guests to download an app and they can’t change their accessibility options (however many guest room tablet solutions do offer a "do not disturb" option for guests who wish not to be bothered by notifications). Guest room tablets provide an ideal solution for digital guest directories. Many solutions also come with apps or in-browser mobile solutions to complement the main in-room solution. These are mainly for when guests are out and about but still want to access information about the hotel or make bookings while not in their room. Modern guests expect modern solutions One of the most obvious reasons to switch to a digital guest directory is that most of your guests will already be accustomed to using digital solutions in everyday life. For those under 35, the idea of needing to call down to reception to ask for further information or make a booking might even seem old-fashioned. Additionally, providing your guest directory in a digital format will encourage them to book with you, helping to increase sales from in-house outlets. Guest directories on a digital platform also enable you to do so much more than paper guest directories. You can provide extensive information on the room service menu, allow your guests to order at the click of a button, and even open a chat function that enables them to communicate with your staff on their own terms. They can find all the information they need on an elegantly designed, interactive interface that doesn’t require them to flick through old dog-eared sheets of printed A4. Providing this extra functionality will not only reflect well on your hotel but will also improve the experience for guests at your hotel by emphasizing the "hassle-free” elements of their stay. When it comes to vacationing, guests expect nothing more than for everything to go smoothly at the hotel. Guest directories on digital platforms enable this and can be the starting place for your hotel’s digital revolution. Taking back control of guest feedback Another major benefit of the digital guest directory is the opportunity to offer your guests the chance to provide feedback through the digital guest directory. For many hotels, this possibility has been taken away from them by review platforms such as TripAdvisor. Using push notifications through your digital guest directory to offer guests the chance to review their stay, during their stay, is a great way to improve the guest experience while they’re still at the hotel. This way, you can turn possible 3 or 4-star reviews into guaranteed 5-star ratings. In an online world, customer ratings hold a lot of weight for business success. Taking control and driving positive customer ratings using a digital guest directory will give your business a boost in the future. Digital guest directories in a digital world Digital guest directories such as SuitePad will become the new normal in the hotel industry. It’s a matter of when not if. Early adopters will benefit more than anyone else from switching to a digital guest directory as they will impress their guests with a modern experience, provide better upselling opportunities, and receive positive feedback. With the digital revolution taking place in the hotel industry, the digital guest directory will provide the perfect starting point for any hotel that wants to modernize its guest experience.
When hotels began to reopen with skeleton crews mid-way through the pandemic, the broader industry started to think about hospitality technology as the key driver to running stronger businesses despite weaker resource availability. Hotel Tech Report traffic data illustrates that despite a sidelined hospitality workforce - there is more interest in hotel technology than ever before. HTR recently publicized platform data showing 270% growth from March 2020 to 140k+ monthly hoteliers in May of 2021 (14-months into the pandemic). Vendors are innovating in lockstep with hotelier demand for new technology. Last week our team headed to the first HITEC event since 2019 to scout the latest innovations and save you time staying up to date with recent hotel tech product launches. This article is packed with the latest tools being developed by top tech firms to help you optimize and grow your hotel business. While researching for this article, our team reviewed 96 different product/feature launches to curate the list below based on the most exciting innovations in the market and then synthesized the top 50 innovations into six key trends. Please reach out via live chat if we've missed a critical innovation or trend! WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECAP: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover Mobile checkin is the new black Guest data management is in the spotlight Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers Trend #1: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues If you ask any restaurant, retail shop or hotel owner these days 'how's it going?', their first response will likely be to tell you how difficult it is to find and retain talent. The mass service industry layoffs and furlows at the beginning pandemic coupled with the elogated impact on the global travel industry from the Delta variant caused a mass labor exodus from the hospitality industry. While city centers continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic, many drive market destinations in many geographies are booming so much so that some have even surpassed pre-pandemic REVPAR levels such as the California wine country and are struggling to staff back up. Whether you're in a booming drive market destination and need labor now, or you will need it when city centers begin to recover--the labor struggle is real and tech companies have their sights set on coming to the rescue by launching new products and features to help do everything from retain your talent more effectively to manage your property with fewer staff. M3 Launches labor. Designed for hoteliers on the go, M3’s Labor Management app, M3 Labor, allows hospitality professionals to quickly access their hotels’ labor information and adapt in real time to the labor needs of their properties. Not only do employees get up-to-date visibility of their schedules and work histories, but property managers also have access to labor variances and managing employee time details, all available in the palm of their hand. UniFocus ShiftGenius. ShiftGenius is a unique scheduling and shift filling feature that introduces flexibility and control for employees and covers the needs of the business. Operators find coverage faster and know that the RIGHT people are filling the shifts. Hotel Effectiveness launches CoverageFinder™: Hotels are experiencing a “coverage crisis” - they cannot find the labor to address the needs of the hotel, the guests, or the team. CoverageFinder makes it easy to identify available labor from within the cross-trained hotel team, the portfolio’s “sister” hotels, and contract staffing firms. Turnover is a massive problem. The Risk Retention Dashboard identifies which associates in each department are at risk of leaving and recommends specific actions that managers can take to prevent turnover and avoid the costly impact of a lost team member. HelloShift launches a housekeeping app. Housekeeping Management app is a quick and efficient way to see at a glance the status of all of the housekeeping tasks at your hotel or property. In one view, know which rooms have been assigned and prioritized, and which rooms still need to be assigned. The quick and simple drag and drop functionality and the ability to bulk reassign rooms make housekeeping management problems a thing of the past! Harri launches Carri Chat & Apply. Carri is an AI-powered chatbot built to assist hiring managers in screening, accessing, and coordinating interviews with viable candidates. Carri transforms traditional job applications into meaningful conversations to engage candidates and improve talent acquisition efforts. eTip launches digital tipping product. eTip helps hotels to better attract, retain, and motivate staff with an app-less tipping and review platform. With eTip, staff receive an increase in compensation and a boost in morale, guests enjoy better service, and managers can act on guest feedback in real time. Beekeeper launches housekeeping app. Beekeeper Work is an intuitive app that will transform how your team tends to daily Housekeeping operations. Team members on their feet can get things done with a simple tap of their finger. No training. No I.T. set up. No corporate approvals. Just easy technology rolled out in days. And it’s available in every language too so no one gets left behind. Trend #2: The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover While the pandemic will certainly not be looked back upon fondly, some good undoubtedly has come of it. While there are so many areas that human interaction can add value in the guest experience, there are also so many areas that manual processes, wait times and antiquated systems have plagued the guest experience for decades and the pandemic gave the industry the nudge that it so desperately needed. Whether that's digitizing compendiums to reduce paper waste and create interactive experiences that generate revenue, ridiculously seamless contactless grab and go stations to meet guest needs in real time or in-stay sentiment analysis to identify and recover from service glitches on the spot--vendors continue to rollout new features and tools to help you leverage technology to become one of your hotel's greatest assets when it comes to delivering a unique and differentiated guest experience. Whistle Digital Guest Book. Whistle introduces a configurable digital guest compendium for a completely contactless experience. Hotels can now offer a rich portal and directory of information, which guests can access through messaging. Impulsify Contactless grab and go. Impulsify announces the arrival of their completely contactless grab-and-go kiosk for lobby retail transactions. Their ShopPoP kiosk now provides a QR code to give users the option of going "Touchless" when purchasing items at their increasingly popular self-service pay stations used by the hospitality and multifamily industries. Flexkeeping Automated Daily Hotel Report. The Automated Daily Hotel Report by Flexkeeping contains all critical information hoteliers need to know to ensure that their team is meeting their set standards. The report provides data on every department - from room service, housekeeping, and maintenance performance all the way over to guest complaints and service slips. EasyWay launches Guest Sentiment Powered by OpenAI. EasyWay AI is now able to automatically detect guest sentiment and act accordingly. For example, if EasyWay AI identifies that a guest is happy and is a potential brand ambassador, it will automatically send them a survey on TripAdvisor, and ask them to share their amazing experiences on social media. GoMoment launches Ivy Offer. Ivy Offer lets hoteliers extend unbeatable offers such as extended stay, late checkouts, and food & beverage offers to their guests via text messages. These offers are conversational, personalized, targetted and appropriately timed (when guests tell us they are enjoying their stay, we offer them the chance to stay an extra night at a 20% discount), resulting in repeat, incremental profit. Guests read 98% of Ivy Offer messages within 3 minutes (based on client data). Niio and Samsung debut digital art stream for public spaces. Samsung and Niio art are partnering to bring easy access to digital art on-demand to Samsung Profesional Displays to transform any screen into an engaging digital art canvas. With access to thousands of digital artworks from the world’s best artists, Samsung clients can seamlessly display individual works of their choosing or play art streams curated by mood and style, 24x7 to one or multiple sites. Turnkey solution without requiring additional hardware or rights management. Bookingwhizz Automated Guest Journey with Whatsapp. The CRM module connects directly with the PMS and/or channel manager, automates guest notifications and promotions from predesigned campaigns. The hotel or group can schedule these notifications based on their business needs. SensorFlow launches SmartREM (Smart Room Energy Management Solution). When guests leave the room empty with the HVAC running, SensorFlow's occupancy sensors and smart thermostats communicate this data to the gateway. The gateway then uses AI to react to the real-time occupancy data and automatically switches off the HVAC or adjusts it to a more energy-efficient setting to save energy, without needing any manual intervention from hotel staff. If guests leave the room with the HVAC running and the pool/balcony doors or windows are open, the HVAC is then automatically adjusted to ensure proper ventilation and prevent condensation issues while saving energy. When SensorFlow's sensors detect that guests have returned, our gateway then automatically resets the HVAC to the guests' previous settings. VenueLytics launches 24/7 AI Smart Concierge. VenueLytics provides industries first fully integrated 24/7 AI Smart Concierge to automate contactless guest engagement, housekeeping, maintenance and other guest requests across WiFi, WhatsApp, SMS, WebBot and Facebook Messengers. Hotelinking launches WiFiBot. Hotelinking developed a system called WiFiBot that automatically solves the Internet connection problems using IoT (Internet Of Things) technology and without the need for staff or a technician to intervene. This solution proactively monitors any device connected to the network regardless of the vendor to detect performance issues, and continuously evaluates components to maintain and optimise their availability to avoid downtime or network failures. Moreover, it analyses all relevant information related to the use of WiFi by guests and its proper functioning and performance. Trend #3: Mobile check-in is the new black If you are an HTR regular then you probably know what we think about hotel brands building their own tech, but to give some credit where credit is due back in 2015 Starwood identified the potential of mobile checkin and invested heavily in it because they saw what was coming. If we can checkin for a flight on our phone, why can't we checkin for our hotel rooms? The reality is that mobile check-in is another area that has boomed during the pandemic with contactless everything as the new normal. As hardware comes down in cost and mobile checkin goes mainstream, vendors are sprouting up left, right and center creating new opportunities for hoteliers to offer mobile checkin solutions empowering saavy hoteliers to be more prepared for guest arrival, reduce front desk wait times, go contactless and even get some new checkin tricks up their sleeves with digital signatures, payment authorizations, upsells and more. Maestro launches mobile check-in. Allows Maestro customers to enable guests to check-in on the fly, on their own personal mobile device, with no 3rd party app download required, creating a self-serve environment from their own device. GTRIIP Launches Selfie Check-in. GTRIIP processes hotel check-ins using our OCR engine to read international passports and local photo IDs. We use our face verification engine powered by computer vision to match the face (with a selfie) against the photo ID. This check-in process can be completed on the web. Onres launches mobile check-in. Enables Onres customers to increase incremental revenue by up to 30% with Contactless [Early] Check-in and Late Check-out, Upgrade your Room, and Add Add-ons. RoomKey PMS launches mobile check-in. 100% digital paperwork built into the RoomKey PMS from mobile check-in through check-out. Automated payment and room release to better inventory management CODE2ORDER launches COVID-19 Vaccination Pass & Test-Certificate. Hotel guests can upload their vaccination pass or test certificate during the online check-in at hotels or during their stay at the hotel (required for hotel stays in Germany). The upload can be easily done by using their own Smartphone without further app downloads. Hotels can check the uploads in the CODE2ORDER Backend. Trend #4: Guest data management is in the spotlight Whether you look at Tiktok in social, Visa in payments or Netflix in entertainment--its clear that companies who have harnessed the power of unique customer data have realized massive profits. The strange thing is that the hotel industry sits on a treasure trove of travel spend and guest preference data yet most hotels have still only scratched the suface of what they can do with this data because ultimately you need the right tools, structure and processes to actually act on it. The good news is that if anybody knows just how valuable and powerful data can be its tech companies, and they're gearing up to help you harness one of your company's most valuable assets. Hapi launches Hapi Connect for Salesforce. Hapi Connect integrates hotel companies' data into Salesforce Cloud environments in real-time, helping hoteliers to innovate using the world’s leading CRM. Hapi Connect for Salesforce allows companies to centralize data and tailor each step of the guest journey, driving loyalty and increasing conversion. Oracle Hospitality Integrations Platform. The Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform (OHIP) offers hotel operators and integrators unprecedented access to all of the capabilities that OPERA Cloud has to offer. By making available over 3 thousand REST APIs and a full self-service experience end to end, operators and integrators can now design, build and release their integrations in matters of days rather than weeks or months thus accelerating time to market and reducing costs. Bookboost launches CRM. Guest messaging platform Bookboost also extended it's product to offer guest segmentation and email marketing. Manage your first-party customer data to track interactions to create personalised guest messages. Utilise a single system to manage guest engagement and build strong relationships. Clairvoyix Launches Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud. The Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud brings fully integrated transient sales and marketing automation to Oracle Hospitality customers. Utilzing the Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform, Opera in the Cloud customers can immediately start direct marketing to valuable past guests as past guest data is automatically transferred to the Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution. Guestjoy launches repeat customers. Guestjoy launched a hotel CRM system for marketing managers in smaller hotels that helps them to build a customer database who is interested in getting special campaigns and offers. The tools they are using only allow them to set up a newsletter without knowing the background of a customer. Duve Guest Segments. Duve's Guest Segments allow hoteliers to send different messages to different guests, based on their profile and data you’ve collected from them. This includes reservation details, personal information, and more. With Guest Segments, hotels can use both pre-scheduled or instant messaging to create a message to specific guests and provide an improved guest experience. Datavision DVGuest Analytics. Datavision is adding powerful guest analytics features to our comprehensive business intelligence platform. Guest data is extracted and combined from a single source (PMS) or a variety of additional sources (Spa, Golf, Dining, CRM, etc.) supporting a 360-degree views of guest value, spend patterns and stay behavior. LaaSie launches Helix. Laasie has extended its core Reward Marketplace technology beyond the hotel website and booking engine, to bring personalized rewards to email campaigns. Each recipient of the campaign receives a uniquely personalized reward offer that resonates with his/her interests, demographics, and purchase behavior. iReckonU launches IKnowU Customer Data Platform. The IKnowU Customer Data Platform emerges as Ireckonu’s latest way to leverage its proven CORE Middleware. Synchronizing with your various PMS, CRS and other service delivery systems, IKnowU will become your system of record for clean, consolidated guest profiles. IKnowU’s powerful features include match & merge, identity and privacy management, subscription enrollment, communication control, behavioral and event data, and AI-assisted segmentation. It can also bring in third-party data. Simplotel Guest Connect. Simplotel Guest Connect helps hotels convert their website content (promotions, and offers) into an email template with a single-click. Also, with a property management system integration, hotels can send mails and upsells to guests who book through any channel. Trend #5: Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency The term commercial refers to the concept that while historically there have been silod departments within hotel companies like revenue management or marketing, these walls are quickly being broken down as departments become more deeply entertwined. The catalyst for this evolution in decades old operating model has undoubtedly been technology and the transparency, access to information and interconnectedness that it has unlocked. This is not the first time breaking down departmental silos to emphasize a more hollistic commercial strategy has been a key theme of one of HTR's innovation recaps and it certainly won't be the last. Impala Contracting. Say hello to fast and easy hotel direct contracting. Whether it’s signing new deals or managing existing ones, Contracting by Impala enables direct contracts between hotels and tour operators, agencies or corporate travel platforms. We take away the costly integrations and lengthy negotiation cycles to negotiate deals in days, not months. List your hotel for free IDeaS Profit Optimization. Profit Optimization for IDeaS G3 RMS considers any combination of servicing costs, ancillary revenue and associated margins, and acquisition or channel costs. This approach enables hotels, resorts, casinos, and more to get the most profitable guests into their property, while maximizing other inventory beyond the guest room, such as restaurants, bars, retail, and activities. HotelIQ Decision Cloud. With the new HotelIQ Decision Cloud, hoteliers can organize data, analyze it, plan next steps, and collaborate with their team and across their organization. In doing so, we aim to give hoteliers the lenses they need to pull insights from complex data sets and make more intelligent decisions. RateGain launches Demand.ai. RateGain launched an AI powered demand forecasting tool, that helps hoteliers and other travel companies track hyper-local demand and the underlying factors impacting demand – thereby helping them optimize their commercial strategy. Event Temple Launches Chain Management Dashboard. Event Temple’s Chain Management Dashboard is an above property sales enablement tool for chains and multi-property management groups. Organizations now have a hub to view bookings, leads, accounts, contacts, reports, and manage sales across multiple properties. Pace launches Restrictions Management. Take control of your business mix. Use restrictions to control your business mix. Pace will suggest when to close out corporate rates and maximise revenue from your transient business. Avvio launches allora ai Hotel Booking Retention Engine. Avvio developed a Hotel Booking Retention Engine that sits within the allora.ai booking engine to counteract the rise in hotel room cancellations. They did this by identifying at risk bookings, and alerting hoteliers in an actionable format, so that measures can be taken to protect bookings. allora.ai’s Hotel Booking Retention Engine uses machine learning and data science to assess cancelation risk for every individual booking on the books. MeetingPackage launches group pricing module. MeetingPackage offers venues to sell in a transactional way via their own channels and through distribution. Venues are able to manage pricing of Meetings & Events services flexibly from one centralised place to all distribution channels. For example, minimum spend requirement, meeting package price per delegate or meeting room price per hour, half-day, full-day. Including seasonal prices and corporate negotiated rates. ProfitSword enhanced currency conversion functionality. ProfitSword has updated the application to support viewing reports in any currency desired. As part of this update, we allow multiple exchange rates to be defined for any currency pair, depending on your reporting needs. The firm added flexibility to reports allowing a user to choose an exchange rate based on the data being reported eg; balance sheet data converted with a month end exchange rate, accounting data with month average, and budget with an annual exchange rate all in the same report. InnRoad launches new Pace and Pickup reports. innRoad's new Pace & Pick Up Reports are designed to give users easy access to their property's performance with the click of a button. Users can compare their performance over time and see if they are above or below on their occupancy, revenue, and rooms sold. Avalon Analytics launched automated PowerPoint presentations. One of the pain points of a revenue manager is the time spent preparing for weekly and monthly meetings. This remains true at hotel-level and above-property level, where you may need to prepare a market performance review for senior executives, ranging from VPs Operations to Owners. Generate 20+ PowerPoint slides for your weekly revenue meetings and month-end owner meetings within minutes. Avalon allows you to load entire presentations that are always up-to-date and ready to be delivered to your inbox. D-EDGE Launches MediaGenius. D-EDGE provides hoteliers with an all-in-one platform to manage and monitor digital media campaigns: search, metasearch, display, and social media. With MediaGenius, hoteliers can easily follow the evolution of income and bookings generated via AdWords, analyze their campaigns’ performance, and fine-tune their strategy. The Hotels Network Launches Bench Direct. BenchDirect by The Hotels Network is an interactive analytics platform for hotels to benchmark their direct channel performance compared to the market and competition. The tool provides hotels with competitive insights across more than 30 key metrics specifically related to direct bookings. VoucherCart launches enterprise. VoucherCart Enterprise is a SaaS software product used by international and national hospitality operators with responsibility for marketing, sales, and revenue across multiple business units/member organisations. It enables them to promote and sell vouchers, gift cards, memberships, and tickets (pre-paid instant delivery) associated with their products and services and manage these centrally across all member organisations allowing cross-organisational redeem and usage, while also supporting voucher management and sale at member organisation level. Hotel Res Bot Launches AI Channel Manager. Many distribution partners such as Secret Escapes don't have interfaces to transfer bookings automatically, which means they simply send an email and reservation staff must manually enter these bookings into the PMS. The HERA AI Channel Manager reads those incoming emails and automatically pushes them to your PMS directly or via your CRS or traditional Channel Manager. Trend #6: Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers If you follow the tech world, you know that payments are big money. You don't have to look far to see a massive head turning round like Stripe's $600M Series H (who even knew series H was a thing...), Affirm's market debut 100% pop or Plaid's (almost) $5B+ merger with Visa that was later blocked by regulators. Other than being the lifeblood of every business on the planet, payments infrastructure is so immensely valuable because its extremely challenging to develop and maintain compliance. While there are tons of payments solutions out there, there are few that have truly built out domain specific offerings specifically for the hotel industry to meet its unique challenges (and opportunities) and hotel tech companies are spotting the opportunity. Cloudbeds Payments. Hotel payment processing has been complicated for too long. Cloudbeds Payments provides easy, transparent and contactless payment processing that is fully integrated into the Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform, saving your property time and money. Bbot Tab Sync. Keep guests happy and servers relaxed with Bbot Tab Sync, a seamless addition to the Bbot Order + Pay solution. Plus, activating Tab Sync for in-venue and in-room dining guests gets you exclusive access to our BOGO deal on handheld devices! Adyen partners with Shiji to simplify hospitality payments. This new integration simplifies the payment process for hospitality businesses by removing the need for a list of platforms and suppliers which usually includes separate processes for property management systems, food and beverage point of sale, and guest experience platforms not to mention the different payments service providers for each. SmartHOTEL launches SmartCONNECT for Payment. SmartCONNECT for Payment ensures that hotel guests’ payments can be made quickly, securely, and hospitably. With the click of a button, payments for online and offline bookings are automatically billed by the payment service provider of choice and processed directly on the guest folio of the hotel’s Property Management System (PMS). dailypoint™ Launches Payment Link. The dailypoint™ Payment link is part of the Booking Manager. It allows hoteliers to automate payments and process them securely according to PCI and PSD2 regulations. Implementing the payment link relieves the reservations department and minimizes the risk of fraud since no more credit card data is being processed directly or stored at the hotel. RoomOrders Launches Digital Tourist Hubs. The RoomOrders digital tourist hub is an ordering and payment network of hospitality providers (hotels and resorts connected to surrounding vendors in a revenue-sharing model) to protect from accommodation giants like Booking dot com and AirBnB and restaurants from delivery giants like UberEats and GrubHub as well as excursion and tours agencies like Expedia and TripAdvisor.
Picking the perfect revenue management solution (RMS) for your hotel used to be a challenging process. Luckily that’s different today. Now, you have a wide variety of easy-to-use RMSs to choose from and most of them are quicker to implement than legacy systems. This means getting your hands on a suitable RMS has gotten a lot less complicated. That’s fantastic because a powerful RMS is crucial to understanding and making the most of unpredictable demand trends, especially in today’s volatile market. In this post, you’ll find out how to choose the RMS that’ll help you with precisely that. And once you have it all set up, you’ll be on track to optimized rates, boosted profits and time-saving processes. Integration Options With Other Tech Tools Any new tech solution you choose should seamlessly integrate with your current tech stack. For example, your new RMS should allow for a two-way integration with your PMS to ensure automatic data exchanges between the two systems. This cuts back on manual data entry which saves you time and reduces the risk of human error. Consider this real-life example: A higher-than-average number of reservations comes in for a certain date. The PMS sends this pick-up data to the RMS which in turn ups the room rates for this day. It also sends these new numbers back to the PMS, so it can push them into the distribution system. Look for an integration with a reputable business intelligence solution as well. This is important because an RMS needs both external and internal data to recommend optimal prices. Check where your RMS gets its external data from since its quality influences your results. Data Types Used Your RMS’ forecast accuracy and its ability to optimise your prices depend strongly on which types of data the system uses for its calculations. Start by looking at whether the RMS uses both external and internal data. Your property’s data on past results is a good gauge of what your business can achieve. But given recent events, it’s not the most reliable predictor for business in the short to medium term. This is why you need an RMS that incorporates broad market and compset data into its rate calculations. Of course, this doesn’t mean your RMS will just follow your competitors’ pricing tactics or start a price war. Instead, the system will examine how market rates impact pick-up at your property and make relevant price recommendations. Next, it’s important to know if an RMS leverages both forward-looking and historical data. Since the pandemic, using historical data alone is no longer enough to predict demand trends because most established booking patterns have changed in the short to medium term. Incorporating future-facing information is the best way for the RMS to fully understand the market and make optimized rate recommendations. Automation and Configurability Automation has gained extra importance since many revenue teams today are smaller than pre-Covid but still have the same workload. While most RMSs have automated at least some of the manual processes, the overall level of automation differs a lot between platforms. To save the most time and speed up your decision-making process, pick an RMS that lets you automate and customize as many steps as possible. This brings you many benefits, like being able to cut back on manual market research and rate updates. You can also adapt to demand shifts faster and seize every opportunity to drive revenue. If you keep doing all this manually, you risk missing these chances and losing business. Address this problem by using an RMS which supports automatic, real-time rate updates. Finally, today’s more customizable RMSs allow you to adapt which processes you want to automate. They let you choose if, when and where you want to change your rates yourself. This could be when you know something the system doesn’t, or if you’d rather manually manage rates for your top room categories. A Good Fit for Your Pricing Strategy You’ll also need to check if your potential RMS is a good fit for your pricing strategy. Some RMSs optimise room prices only for your basic category. A set supplement matrix determines how much to adjust rates for the other room types. This may have worked in the past, but this rigid approach is not flexible enough for today’s dynamic markets. An RMS that allows open pricing solves this issue. It understands that demand is different for each room type and will calculate the ideal rate for each one. This type of system can even evaluate how price changes for one room category influence demand for the others. Taking this into account is the way to continuously sell all room types at the ideal rate. Organisational Aspects and Useability Yes, you’re only going to do it once. But knowing how your new RMS’ implementation process will work is important. Additionally, find out how they price their service. Is there a set-up fee? Do you pay a monthly flat fee, or does it depend on your revenue? Do they offer standard vs. advanced plans? The idea here is not to find ways to cut costs but to know exactly which ongoing expenses you’re incurring. Ease-of-use and system maintenance are two more critical points. Unfortunately, many legacy RMSs require lengthy training. As a result, only specialized pros can get the most out of them and you end up with information silos at your hotel. The good news is that new-age platforms that connect with your remaining tech tools are usually easy to learn and use for all staff. This ensures that your team takes full advantage of your RMS. It also breaks down silos and encourages cross-departmental collaboration. For the highest level of flexibility, choose an RMS that’s cloud-based, mobile-responsive and device-agnostic. That way your team can log on from anywhere they have a stable internet connection, whether it’s at the office, while working from home, or on the go. Given that flexible work arrangements are becoming more common, this aspect keeps gaining importance. Lastly, a well-structured layout and the chance to export performance data and forecasts are crucial. This allows you to cut back on gathering and arranging data in presentations and lets you pull up the needed information in just a few clicks. Since you know which five aspects to check your RMS for, it’s your turn now. How well does your current or potential future RMS perform? If you find that it doesn’t tick all the boxes, it may be time to look for another option… If you want more direction on the subject, get HotelTechReport’s free Ultimate Guide to Revenue Management Systems for expert guidance on finding the RMS that works best for you.
Shortly after COVID restrictions were eased, I went on a short golfing trip to Austria. I booked a well-known boutique hotel with a SPA and a fantastic restaurant surrounded by vineyards. I found out later that many other people had the same idea, as the hotel was fully booked for the weekend. Well, good for them, I thought. Anyway, when I arrived, it was raining, and I didn't bring my umbrella with me. So I came into the hotel soaked, hungry, and in desperate need of a shower. Unfortunately, out of the two check-in desks available, only one was operating, and the poor guy was trying hard to check in all the arriving guests as quickly as possible, while doing his best to have a cordial chat with them. Make no mistake: I'm sure it wasn't his fault that we had to wait for five minutes before he finished with the previous guest. When finally my turn came, the receptionist spent a tremendous amount of time staring down at his computer. I tried to ask him a few PMS-related questions, to understand why it was taking so long (of course, he didn't have any idea I knew a thing or two about PMSs), but I started to feel bad for the people waiting behind me, so I stopped any efforts to communicate with him, and I wasn't even told where and until when I could get my breakfast or where the SPA was. And that was the moment I realized, at least on a personal level, that there's something intrinsically wrong with hotel tech today. When Technology Breaks Down Now, I am sure that, if you’re a frequent traveler like me, you have similar horror stories. According to a Qualtrics survey, 57% of poor hotel experiences are down to unfriendly staff. Problem is that, very often, hotel staff is unfriendly because they’re overworked, especially post-COVID, when properties are operating with skeleton staff. Here’s where technology should help, but the Austrian one is the perfect example of a case where it didn’t, and this happens way more than we, in the industry, like to admit. Moreover, tech should not only improve operations, but guest experience as well. Bad news is that, often, it fails in both fields. When your tech stack increases workload and waiting time at the reception (or in any other department, for that matter), you know you’ve got a problem. Technology is fallible, whatever you may think, and choosing the wrong software can heavily penalize your operation. A couple of years ago, a curious news story was published: the Henn-na hotel in Japan, known mainly because a good part of its employees are actual robots, had to "fire" 243 of them for doing "a bad job." One staff member, interviewed by The Mirror, stated: "It's easier now that we're not being frequently called by guests to help with problems with the robots." Well, this is an extreme example, but it’s not uncommon to see hotel staff having to find hacks and workarounds to make things work. If you’ve ever had a job in the hotel business, you know exactly what I am talking about. The Role of the PMS in the Hotel Tech Stack Now, at the core of hotel operations, there’s always the PMS, so this is where the majority of problems start: bad integrations, lack of built-in features, etc. Choosing wisely is crucial, but not always easy, especially because hoteliers may be, paradoxically, unaware of the problems they need to solve. This is not due to the fact that hoteliers are bad entrepreneurs, quite the opposite! Problem is that being a hotelier means having to manage many operational aspects of the job, most of which are very complex and detailed. A General Manager, for instance, will obviously have to prioritize certain tasks, rather than spending hours to go deep and understand a certain technical problem. The thing with PMSs is that they’re the kind of software which is used by several different departments, so everyone has an opinion on it, yet a partial one. Sales & Marketing will likely never have to insert a group reservation, while the front office department won’t have to deal with MICE requests. In my experience, General Managers are the ones which can green light the implementation of a new software, coordinating, understanding and synchronising different departments’ needs, but chances are that their vision is limited, due to too many things on their minds, too. And we’re back to the hotel in Austria: somebody picks the wrong software, the system makes the life of all (or, at least, some) employees miserable, there’s less time to focus on the guests (which is even worse than the previous issue, while, of course, unhappy employees are unlikely to make guests happy), and… Well, you see where I am going with this, don’t you? How PMSs Can Improve Operations and Guest Experience So, when picking a PMS, you should always be asking the one million dollar question: will this system make my life (and the life of my staff) easier so that they can make my guests happier? Knowing what to look for in a PMS can make a huge difference, so make sure that you understand what a property management system can (or can’t) do for you while trying to go into details during the process. Because if there’s anything we have learned over the past two decades, is that the devil is always hidden in details. Here are some of the areas where a good PMS can actually make a difference for both the hotel staff and guests: Reducing the workload during the check-in/out process. A publication by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research studied guests’ tolerance of delays during check-ins, and found that the “breaking point” for US guests is as short as five minutes. There’s an interesting discussion on Quora titled “What is the actual average length of time (in minutes) for hotel check-in and check-out?” Of course, the method is far from scientific, but it’s a fascinating read. According to the discussion, a best-case-scenario-check-in is at least 2-3 minutes. You know what that means? That if an American guest has two persons in front of him, he will likely leave a pesky review… Self check-in kiosks and apps can dramatically improve the check-in/out experience, yet most PMS do not support the technology; Remove friction during payments. It’s not uncommon to find hotels that still manage credit card payments manually. Usually, it goes like this: the back office department receives a booking, and they have to log in into the extranet, find the reservation, get the card, switch to another page for the CVC, get the physical terminal POS, type the total amount and the card details, wait for the transaction to go through. If this doesn’t look like a big deal for you, try to time your staff while they do it. I doubt it will take them less than five minutes per transaction. Now, let’s say you receive 25 reservations a day: that’s over two hours wasted just to charge credit cards. Not to mention what happens if the card does not work, you have to ask for a new one and start the process all over again. A PMS can solve the issue with payment automation proprietary features, or by integrating to third-party providers; Integrate invoicing systems. It may sound crazy in 2021, but I have seen too many hotels where the reception has to ask accountants to issue an invoice and, on the other side, too many accountants typing numbers manually from PMSs reports into their accounting systems… A simple integration will save hours of manpower every day; Connect your PMS to your SPA system. In most cases, if a hotel guest wants to book a treatment at the desk, the reception has to call the SPA, check availability and then book. Integrating the two systems will dramatically reduce workload, and guests will also be able to book and check availability directly online; Get smart in F&B. The adoption of QR codes and online ordering increased dramatically due to anti-COVID guidelines, and this is a prime example of a system that can dramatically reduce waiting times and improve guest experience. Customers are able to order (and pay) immediately on their phones. This reduces the waiting time (the waiter does not have to come and take your order or bring you the bill). Customers are in full control of the timing, and restaurants can allocate less staff to serve the same number of people, saving money. Moreover, thanks to Kitchen Display Systems (KDS), orders are not printed on paper but are shown digitally on a screen in the kitchen. KDS can also measure the average time needed to cook a meal, improving efficiency and customer satisfaction; Housekeeping digitalization. Another feature that COVID dramatically accelerated is the adoption of housekeeping apps, both built-in in the PMS or provided by third-party vendors. They reduce workload and make communication between departments easier. Hoteliers can also benchmark housekeeping staff timing to optimize operations and - particularly important for green hotels - drastically reduce the use of paper. According to a study, hotels use almost 2B A4 sheets per year in the United States only, meaning that 268,000 trees are chopped down annually only to fulfill the hotel industry's needs. It's the equivalent of 15 New York Central Park worth of trees cut every year! Automated emailing. Even though this is a feature we tend to associate with CRMs, some PMSs provide built-in functionality to communicate with guests pre/mid/post-stay, improving both the guest experience and increasing revenue coming from ancillary services proposed in the emails; Connect. Connect. Connect. It may sound crazy, but there are still a lot of hotels without a proper 2-way-integration between the PMS and the channel manager. It goes without saying that linking the two systems will dramatically reduce workload and bring human error down to virtually zero. Understand the Tradeoffs of New Technology to Maximize Impact Paul Virilio once stated: “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution... Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.” This is true for hotel tech as well, that is why implementing technology just for the sake of it it’s never a good idea. Choosing any software, and PMSs, in particular, requires a complete understanding of the property’s current (and future) needs. The risk with picking the wrong system is to end up like the Austrian hotel I wrote about at the beginning of this piece. At HotelTime Solutions, we provide tailored solutions and follow our customers during all the phases of the implementation, making sure that they can focus on what they do best: taking care of their guests.
You may be thinking it’s early to start talking about the holiday season, but as a hotelier, now is the best time to prepare for the Christmas season. Why? With so much competition for rooms and heightened expectations in guest experiences, you need to plan ahead if you want this to be a happy holiday season for your bottom line. Keep in mind many folks had travel plans last year that went by the wayside and are now looking to make up for a lost year. Early data from Travel & Leisure shows that December bookings jumped by 15% compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic levels) in July. Keep in mind, Christmas bookings typically peak in October and November. After missing out on 2020 travel, guests will want to ensure wherever they book their Christmas getaway will deliver an unforgettable experience. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to get guests through your doors without spending a fortune on decorating your property or getting too gimmicky. Here are some holiday hotel marketing ideas that can make this a year to remember for your property. Leverage Email Marketing If you haven’t been using email marketing to its fullest potential, you’ve been missing out. It’s one of the best ways to get into the minds of potential guests (and stay there). Make this a priority for the holiday season and while you’re at it, chalk it down as a New Year's Resolution. If you’ve been collecting email addresses of past guests in a responsible manner, it’s time to get your Christmas offers out to them. You can get creative with your offers, from a special package or prepare a special holiday menu in your restaurant. Either way, it’s a good time to start engaging with potential guests and pique their interest. Offer Prizes and Creative Giveaways People love the chance to win prizes, particularly on social media. It’s why we see so many polls and hashtag challenges or merely entering a contest by tagging friends. Contests are an effective way to get some user-generated content for your hotel’s marketing campaigns. Contests can be something as simple as asking people to send their best (or funniest) Christmas outfits or best home decoration and in return they can win a discounted stay at your hotel or perhaps win a free spa day with their stay. You’ll be surprised at how many people will jump at the chance to win; not to mention it’s a great way to boost engagement on your social media channels. Show Your Holiday Spirit with Deals There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with this one. Everyone loves a good deal and sometimes simple works best. Guests will be looking to save a buck where they can, given how expensive the holiday season can be already. Reducing your standard room rate or offering a discount on a suite might just give you the edge in securing more bookings. Sharing such deals on social media will also get you plenty of attention if the deal is of significant value. Provided you have a powerful channel manager, you can ensure your holiday rates are distributed among your biggest booking channels. There’s nothing to lose in trying, particularly if your goal is full occupancy for the holidays. Create a Landing Page on Your Website If you’ll be offering deals, then it’s vital to create a separate landing page on your website. This will give you an area on your site to market and focus your holiday bundles. If you bury your Christmas packages and offers within your existing room rates, it’s going to slip by a lot of eyes. If you have a dedicated festive area, you can have some fun with it by adding some cool design effects and throw in some holiday puns in your room description. What Will Your F&B Program Look Like? If there’s one commonality for the holidays, it’s that everyone wants to let loose and enjoy some mouthwatering comfort food. Your hotel’s holiday offerings shouldn’t just be about decorating and offering special room rates. If you have an on-site restaurant and/or bar, putting together a special holiday menu will capture everyone’s Christmas spirit. There will be plenty who will jump at the chance of booking a Christmas meal or throwing a mini holiday party for their business. And once patrons book with you for a meal, those might just turn into room bookings if you mention the type of accommodations you offer. Happy Bookings! The holiday season could be stressful for hoteliers, but this should also be your most exciting time of the year. With all-in-one PMS systems like roomMaster Anywhere, you can ensure that you have all the tools you need to maximize holiday bookings for 2021 and beyond. If you start planning now, it could be your most profitable period of the year.
Top hospitality innovators have become agile in every facet of their businesses. Top hotel marketers are diversifying digital spend to ensure the lowest possible cost per acquisition, the best sales reps are becoming less reliant on concentrated corporate business by building strategies to attract diversified pools of small group business, and the best revenue managers are constantly seeking new ways to experiment with their distribution mix to optimize for profitability. In this article, we’re going to focus on a new tool that helps agile revenue managers cut out distribution middlemen and access new demand channels that were previously too expensive and time-consuming to experiment with. We’ll explain how Impala’s new contracting product is empowering forward-thinking commercial leaders to capture new guest segments and take control of their distribution strategies. The best part? You can list your hotel free today. Why Hospitality Leaders Should Bring Agile Methodology into Their Commercial Operations Complacency has historically led to the death of once-great tech companies like Xerox and Kodak. When successful companies like Amazon and Facebook grow, they work hard to retain their original startup mentality and never get comfortable with the status quo. They’re always questioning what they do (and why they do it) and they’re constantly searching for new opportunities or more efficient ways to operate. They test tons of new ideas to quickly cut failed experiments and double down on successful ones. This operational framework is called “agile management.” Iterative or agile life cycles are composed of several iterations or incremental steps towards the completion of a project. Iterative approaches are frequently used in software development projects to promote velocity and adaptability since the benefit of iteration is that you can adjust as you go along rather than following a linear path. One of the aims of an agile or iterative approach is to release benefits throughout the process rather than only at the end. At the core, agile projects should exhibit central values and behaviors of trust, flexibility, empowerment, and collaboration. Impala allows revenue managers to experiment with tons of new channels at very low cost: both financial cost, since you will be in full control of your discounts and commission rates, and time, since Impala eliminates the need for legwork like contracting connectivity setup, and extensive training. With Impala, your hotel can try a variety of new channels that target different guest segments. Eventually, this cycle of creating hypotheses, connecting to new channels, measuring success, and finding takeaways will become a habit and allow your hotel to identify new pockets of demand with zero upfront cost and minimal time invested. How Impala Enables Commercial Leaders to Implement Agile Methodology There are millions of parties globally who sell hotel rooms but don’t have access to proprietary inventory. Historically, these kinds of platforms have had two key ways to sell hotel inventory: OTA affiliate networks (e.g. Expedia Affiliate network) and bed banks. Impala has built a platform that empowers hotels to connect directly with distribution partners. Impala’s platform is designed to provide hoteliers with the ability to decide where (and when) exclusive rates are shown in a scalable but controlled way. If a hotel wanted to connect with a new supplier like TripFactory or National Park Express before Impala, they’d need to reach out to that supplier and gather information then decide (using limited information) whether the supplier could generate enough demand to warrant an exclusive rate. The majority of smaller travel websites lack the bandwidth to take calls or emails from individual hotels so it’s almost a non-starter but even assuming they could - it could take weeks or months of back and forth before ever forging a partnership and drafting a contract. These smaller travel websites and apps typically don’t have the capability to build up their own hotel supply so it’s unlikely that a partnership like this could even be created in the first place even if the entire prospecting, negotiation and execution phase went perfectly. In short, it’s nearly impossible for hotels today to strike up direct relationships with smaller more niche distribution partners. Even when they can, it can take weeks or months for a hotel to strike up a new distribution partnership with a niche travel provider. In order to recreate the level of demand generated by Booking or Expedia, a hotel would need to successfully repeat this process hundreds or even thousands of times which is obviously not a commercially viable strategy. This dynamic has put hotels in a position where they cannot be agile and test new distribution channels which has consequently inflated third party commissions on OTAs and created massive rate parity issues due to a multitude of online resellers. With Impala, this whole prospecting, negotiation and execution process is streamlined meaning that a hotel can add new distribution partners like TripFactory and National Parks Express with minimal work and no upfront cost. Travel platforms like TripFactory create proposals with parameters such as commission structure, date availability and discounted rate. With Impala, hotels can offer unique experiences like room upgrades or welcome cocktails instead of or in addition to discounts. They can select specific hotels within the Impala platform. Hotels then get notified of new offers from relevant distribution partners in real-time. When they see interesting proposals from distribution platforms, they can then either accept them or propose new terms in just a few clicks. No contracts or even email conversations required. Agile Leaders Will Thrive in the Next Generation of Travel The growth of global travel over the last century has been staggering. In 1950, 25 million tourists travelled the globe and by 2018 that number exploded to 1.8B. It’s easy to see why the hospitality industry thrived during this period. During this time period cars and planes became mass market products for the developed world making travel more accessible to all. Then, computer technologies like GDS and OTAs unlocked global demand for hotels by making it incredibly easy to find and book rooms. While the industry will continue to see strong growth over the coming century - it’s undeniable that the now enormous travel market has catalyzed increased competition. More competition means that hoteliers of the future will need to be more creative than those of the past in order to run profitable businesses. For hoteliers, sticking to the status quo simply won’t cut it. The hospitality teams that thrive in the future will be those that continually evolve and pivot to outcompete not only the hotel down the street, but also vacation rentals and any other disruptor, by strengthening their position within the distribution power curve. We can also expect that global travel behavior will continue to evolve and shift rapidly. What happens to hotels that are heavily dependent on international travel when it’s shut down? How do hotels react when autonomous cars enable guests to drive further distances to visit their properties? What strategies will be deployed to attract a new generation of remote workers? Demand as a whole is growing but the nature of that demand is changing so quickly that hoteliers will need to be extremely agile in order to benefit from that growth. Impala’s vision is to disrupt legacy systems with a paradigm-shifting concept that removes the need for legacy infrastructure altogether and hotels globally are signing up to take part in the next generation of travel. Want to try Impala for free? List your hotel This content was created collaboratively by Impala and Hotel Tech Report.
It’s more convenient than ever to dine out or order in, thanks to the proliferation of food delivery apps and technology that makes ordering and payment a breeze. In fact, 80% of Americans have used food delivery apps before, and about 60% order food via an app at least once per week. Ordering food from your phone is becoming widely accepted in all facets of the hospitality industry, aligning with a shift toward the “low-touch economy,” the contact-free trend that accelerated as a result of the COVID pandemic. As more people want a contactless experience, and as people become more comfortable with technology in the hospitality space, mobile ordering will be an integral part of the future of the hotel and restaurant industry. Traveler preferences have evolved since the beginning of the pandemic, shifting toward contactless, on-demand services. These changes extend beyond hotels, as more people have become accustomed to food delivery, video calls, and even virtual fitness classes as socially distant substitutes to in-person interaction. The contactless trend appears to be here to stay. Retailers have adopted contactless payment terminals, supermarkets offer contactless grocery pick-up, and many hotels now offer contactless check-in and on-demand housekeeping service to limit physical touchpoints. At hotels, guests also want the ability to order food without speaking face-to-face with restaurant or room service staff and to be able to enjoy it while they work remotely in the lobby, under the shade of a cabana, or in the privacy of their guestroom. RoomOrders was founded in 2017 to provide this convenience for guests, and the company was originally designed to digitize room service operations at the Hilton Boston Downtown. Success in Boston led RoomOrders to expand to hotels across the world, working with brands like Marriott and Accor in addition to Hilton. RoomOrders is now in over 300 leading hotels and resorts across the US, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. At the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, the RoomOrders team saw an opportunity to bring their technology to not only hotel room service operations, but also to hospitality businesses ranging from restaurants to health and beauty centers, convenience stores, and tourist attractions to meet the desire for contactless service. As RoomOrders CEO Eugene Jones says, “mobile ordering is moving quickly from a trending sector to a booming sector.” Tech-enabled options are becoming increasingly popular, and rather than being viewed as a novelty, a tech-forward experience is an expectation. Customers are also becoming more savvy. Consumers in the F&B space are accustomed to ordering everything from their mobile devices whether it’s a new pair of Nike shoes, their groceries, or even a Tesla. It’s only natural that these guests expect room service on their smartphones, too. With mobile ordering, a customer can browse the menu, place an order, and pay on their smartphone without the need for in-person interaction with staff. “Imagine the possibility of ordering a refreshing drink while relaxing by the pool...without having to get up to approach a bar to order,” says Jones. But mobile ordering isn’t for everyone. Jones recognizes that some guests relish the in-person interaction or don’t feel comfortable placing orders on their smartphone for a variety of reasons. The good news is that “guests have the option to order the old way or the new way, leaving customers with the ultimate freedom of choice.” Even when you implement mobile ordering, you can serve customers the way they want to be served. Mobile ordering doesn’t just benefit customers - it’s good business: increased revenue, more efficient and helpful staff, and higher guest satisfaction. Hotel businesses that partner with RoomOrders often report increases in overall revenue and average order volume. Why? RoomOrders eliminates friction in the ordering experience, so it’s easier than ever for customers to purchase food and drinks. Without mobile ordering, customers might decide not to order from your outlet if they see a long line or if they can’t flag down a server. Mobile ordering removes these obstacles and makes ordering effortless. Plus, the RoomOrders interface allows you to configure upsell options, specials, and tagging that make your menu items more compelling. Someone who might have skipped a side dish or dessert might be convinced to try it when they see it as a recommended pairing with their entree. In addition to highlighting the potential for revenue growth, Jones debunks a common misconception about mobile ordering systems. In our interview, he says “a digitalised hotel is not necessarily void of human labor, it actually frees up humans to be more hospitable.” The futuristic idea of a hotel run by robots isn’t going to be the future of your hotel with mobile ordering. The opposite is true; by letting technology handle menial, repetitive tasks like taking orders and running payment, your staff can focus on more important work, like building meaningful relationships with guests. Menu updates are seamless with a digital system like RoomOrders. Without a mobile ordering system, staff would need to reprint menus every time a menu item changed. RoomOrders allows you to make menu updates with just a few clicks so you can always keep your menus up-to-date and accurate. Overall, mobile ordering helps you deliver a better guest experience. It makes the ordering process more efficient at your restaurant, and, as Eugene discusses in the interview, it can also give guests an alternative to a potentially frustrating experience like waiting on hold for room service. Ultimately, guests who have a better experience at your hotel spend more and are more likely to return which is why this once trendy technology is becoming a global staple. Eager to learn more about mobile ordering? Read our interview with RoomOrders’ CEO Eugene Jones below This content was created collaboratively by Hotel Tech Report and RoomOrders. Tell us about the founding story behind Roomorders. In a nutshell, RoomOrders was founded in 2018 after one of the co-founders Haris Dizdarevic, who is an IT expert, sat with his restaurant owner friend in the Boston Hilton and suggested the hotel could digitalise its operations with self-service ordering by guest mobile phones. We were arguably the pioneers of QR code ordering in hotel rooms and this was a major move from fixed phones. However, QR code ordering has opened up new revenue streams by expanding ordering and payment opportunities outside bedrooms to the entire hotel or resort complex, as well as neighbourhood by connecting with community vendors. During the corona crisis, we realised digital ordering via QR codes or NFC tags could be done from anywhere outside hotels as well, from poolsides to beaches, rooftop bars to golf courses and neighbouring vendors, from restaurants to health and beauty centres, supermarkets and tourist attractions. Why has mobile ordering been growing so rapidly in your opinion? Apart from opening up new revenue streams, your hotel will have an edge over rival destinations by restoring confidence in health and safety as a digitalised, low-contact hotel offering self-service ordering and payments via guest smartphone. Today's guest expect on-demand service and integration with surrounding vendors allows QR code ordering and payments of almost anything from anywhere on the hotel or resort site. I think Asia, which has totally skipped credit cards and where people no longer have a use for wallets, is indicative of the future awaiting us. When I see the corona QR passports and vouchers, it is obvious that mobile ordering is inevitable and that everything will be digital, powered by lightning broadband communication. I think we will be ordering from holograms appearing in thin air... It will be like snapping fingers to be served in an instant! Many hotels believe that QR codes and pdf menus are a “good enough” solution for contactless ordering. Contrary to that belief is documented reality that guests hate downloading pdfs or any apps and feel teased if they cannot order as well as pay after seeing digital menus. The beauty of digital ordering platforms is that guests have the option to order the old way or the new way, leaving customers with the ultimate freedom of choice How should hoteliers feel about automation of routine tasks? There is always the danger of technology replacing human touch in hospitality and this can be seen as a positive in terms of cost savings for hotels during tough times, yet a loss for social interaction and engagement - something we have traditionally enjoyed as consumers. However, a digitalised hotel is not necessarily void of human labor, it actually frees up humans to be more hospitable,entertaining or helpful in the process of delivering excellent guest experience. How can hoteliers distinguish between mobile ordering software solutions? Mobile ordering is different to room service as mobile ordering is remote and unrestricted, it can be done from anywhere across a hotel or resort, rather than just a hotel room. Room service on the other hand is limited to just a room and the guest experience confined to a room. Imagine the possibility of ordering a refreshing drink while relaxing by the pool, or a finger-food snack, without having to get up to approach a bar to order or even pick up orders. Our research shows orders skyrocket throughout the whole day, especially hot days, in this particular scenario. Hotels can’t be, or have, everything for guests, so RoomOrders is connecting hotel guests with surrounding vendors of all sorts of products and services on or off-site, expanding the guest experience by bringing anything, anywhere to their feet wherever they may be around the hotel or resort. What has been the impact of COVID on the state of mobile ordering? COVID has been a double-edged sword. While it has suspended business for many hotels, particularly during lockdowns, it has also increased the urgency of digitalization, particularly contactless service, ie QR code ordering and payments. Mobile ordering is moving quickly from a trend sector to a booming sector, and in that respect we see it as a bigger revolution than food delivery - which is basically restricted to fixed addresses and extremely expensive. I think Covid-19 has sped up the dawn of a new age, the fourth industrial revolution. Everything will be digital and accessible remotely, starting with our jobs. The adoption of new technology, particularly QR code ordering and payments will move from a trend to boom sector and like Asia, we will no longer carry credit cards or wallets. Our mobile phones will be a lifeline, the centre of our world and essential to survival. Accessing our phone as fast as possible will be key, so QR codes may be replaced by something faster, but right now it seems RoomOrders will be busy improving people’s lives by fast ordering and secure payments. I honestly cannot see a hotel or resort without RoomOrders or a competitor service. Are there misconceptions amongst hoteliers in this emerging category? It’s true, hoteliers think it’s expensive, when it is actually free, zero capital investment. Other fallacies include preconceptions that guests want human contact with waiters or that older people are technophobes. The reality is that newer generations want immediate glorification, on-demand service. Amazon and food delivery has changed their expectations, to the point of even compromising quality for efficiency. Seniors are actually the fastest growing segment of adopters of social media, Sure they were a bit slower, but when they sense that old methods are fading, they adapt just as easily as other groups, provided that the experience is intuitional, or in other terms, easy. Are there any stories that stick out to you where RoomOrders delivered outsized impact for clients? Just before the pandemic, I arrived on a late flight into Las Vegas to speak at a conference about the threats facing hospitality in the digital era, and I was really hungry. As the hotel didn’t provide room service in the evening, I picked up a flyer and ordered pizza delivery by phone. I had to go outside, passing restaurants in the casino lobby and there were about 20 or so others waiting for their delivery too, even though it was past midnight already, There was so much confusion, it was a horrible guest experience that gave us the idea to not only integrate all the surrounding restaurants of a hotel, but other vendors too. It also gave me fodder for my speech, which offered RoomOrders as a way to combat the threat of aggressive food delivery services preying on local restaurants and hotel guests. The last year has demonstrated without dilemma that we have deeply entered the era of contactless ordering and payment
To truly understand what’s happening at your hotel, portfolio, or management company, you need to sift through a lot of data. Big data can yield powerful insights, but the challenge lies in structuring that data in a way that’s easy to interpret and act on. For hoteliers who are ready to take the next step toward more data-driven decisions, a business intelligence platform can deliver tremendous value. But most BI tools aren’t designed with hotels in mind, so their utility is limited when it comes to commercial organizations in the hospitality industry. In this article, we’ll review a BI tool created by hoteliers, for hoteliers: HotelIQ. Through this review, we’ll introduce you to HotelIQ’s suite of features and reports so you can assess whether it might be a good fit for your business. Introduction to HotelIQ’s New Decision Cloud HotelIQ’s goal is to help hoteliers organize data, analyze it, plan next steps, and collaborate with their team and across their organization. In doing so, HotelIQ aims to give hoteliers the lenses they need to pull insights from big data and make more intelligent decisions. This focus on decision-making is why HotelIQ dubbed their newly launched analytics suite “Decision Cloud,” which is an upgrade from their legacy interface in terms of both functionality and user experience. The newly launched Decision Cloud takes a much more visual approach, looking more like the home screen on an iPad. A notable addition is the search bar, which enables users to search for key reporting terms they’re looking for, like “pace” or “booking channels.” Reports matching the search criteria will appear. Within one app, HotelIQ houses all of your hotel data, which is fed directly from your PMS. Thinking long-term, HotelIQ can save time by eliminating the need to create your own reports in Excel and reducing email volume; its interface is a single source of truth for staff members on-site and remote. A world with fewer weekly meetings and no manual report pulling is closer than you might think. Analyze: Dashboard and Reports The hallmark feature of HotelIQ is its reporting suite; this library of dashboards and reports puts the most commonly used data at your fingertips. This module is most useful for revenue managers and sales managers, but general managers and operations managers can benefit from insights gleaned from these reports too. The dashboard library includes visualizations for pick-up and pace, market segments, booking channels, geo markets, and more. HotelIQ subscribers might also add modules for account management and a STR integration, which aren’t included with the most basic package. By clicking on one of the tiles on the home screen, you’ll land on a Dashboard. In this example, we see the Market Segments dashboard. Dashboards are quite visual - you’ll see charts and graphs with the ability to filter by hotel, hotel group, and date range. The goal of the Dashboard is to make the data accessible and easy to understand even for team members outside of the revenue management or sales teams who might be less comfortable with data. In addition to the Dashboard visualizations, you can see the raw data in a standard table format. To get more granular, you can select from a few Reports that slice data from the Dashboard in different ways. Reports have more filters than Dashboards, which allow you to dig into exactly the data you want. You can filter by room class, distribution channel, loyalty membership, and more. Besides the Market Segments dashboard, another frequently used dashboard is the Pick-up and Pace dashboard. This one is a favorite of revenue managers and sales managers, who will appreciate the ability to filter the reports by account name or market segment in addition to the standard hotel name and date filters. The Pick-up reports can be pulled by either book date or stay date, and you can drill down to the rate code level to study performance at the most granular level. You can also pivot this report to see pick-up by room type, distribution channel, feeder markets, and more. The Geo Markets dashboard is typically used by revenue and sales teams, but marketing managers might also uncover interesting trends around seasonality and variances by location, especially for management companies who operate in many markets. The Booking Channels dashboard highlights production on not only third-party channels but also sub-segments of your direct channel, like comparing phone reservations and walk-ins to website bookings. You can take a big-picture look at hotel performance on the Total Revenue dashboard, which splits out revenue by operating department, like rooms and F&B. While most of HotelIQ’s reports are most useful to revenue management or sales, this one can be relevant to operations teams, general managers, and even owners who want to understand performance of individual properties or revenue streams. Many HotelIQ subscribers use their STR integration, which pulls in your STR data and compares your fair share to your forecast, automating some analytics you would have otherwise needed to do manually in Excel. HotelIQ can also submit your daily, segmented data to STR on your behalf, for further automation and time savings. Although HotelIQ is packed with valuable reports, every hotel business is different, so if you don’t see a report you need, you can always create your own using the Sandbox Self-Service app. Organize: Data Management While the analytics module of HotelIQ is certainly powerful, it can be useless if you don’t start with accurate data. HotelIQ’s data management features make it easy for you to clean, correct, and standardize data across your portfolio to ensure you can trust your reports. One essential and time-saving feature is Rate Code Maintenance, which enables you to quickly fix miscategorized rate codes. For example, if several hotels in your portfolio books rooms for the same corporate account, Bob’s Bank, but one hotel uses rate code BOBSBANK and another hotel uses BOBBANK, you can edit the rate codes in HotelIQ to match so they flow into the same line item on reports. Note that these changes are only for reporting purposes within HotelIQ, the changes do not flow back to the PMS. Another handy functionality for multinational hotel chains or management companies is the Currencies module. HotelIQ allows you to build in your own conversion rates for specific date ranges (per month, for instance) and add the currency settings to specific hotels. For example, if you operate hotels in Mexico, Canada, and the US, but your corporate office is in the US, you might want to see high-level reports in US Dollars. These settings allow you to view portfolio-level reporting and forecasts in one currency. Since HotelIQ receives data from the PMS daily, you want to know immediately if the system picks up a data error or an inconsistency. The Alerts pane on the HotelIQ homepage contains real-time notifications of data errors that need to be addressed. Plan: Forecast Trends and Operationalize Data With so many reports available, it’s important to remember that the goal of HotelIQ isn’t just to analyze data, but to use that data to make decisions. HotelIQ will soon launch an updated Forecast module which will help hoteliers plan for the future aided by Machine Learning (ML), but in the meantime, the app has a few ways to help you put the data to use in the real world. The HotelIQ Concierge contains a collection of tours and guides to show you how to use each feature in the app. There’s also a walk-through tour which will take you step-by-step through the various modules to help you feel confident operationalizing the learnings you find in the reports. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found in the Help Center, and if you’d like further assistance or some hands-on training, you can always reach out to the HotelIQ Service Desk. Collaborate: Sharing and Subscriptions Finally, HotelIQ gives hoteliers tools for better collaboration across teams, hotels, and companies. Data is most powerful and operational when it’s democratized, so the software encourages users to share reports or set up subscriptions to ensure anyone who needs data can get it easily. On every report, you’ll see a “share” icon which lets you send that exact report to any user, including your selected parameters and filters. But manually sending reports isn’t always efficient, so there’s also an option to schedule report sends on a custom cadence. For example, you could schedule a pace report to go out to the entire sales team every Monday at 8am. This ensures everybody is looking at the same data, without the manual work of exporting the report, attaching it to an email, and hitting “send” manually. Scheduling reports is a great way to get busy or less data-oriented team members comfortable with numbers. By configuring a report that shows exactly the data needed - with filters already applied - you can give general managers or owners a quick snapshot into performance in a format that’s easy to digest. HotelIQ is Designed for Hotels Groups of All Sizes HotelIQ puts a lot of analytical muscle and number-crunching functionality into a package that’s approachable and easy to use. HotelIQ shines at large management companies that operate dozens - or hundreds - of hotels in many markets, and its software is built to accommodate multiple currencies, portfolio groupings, and user types. It’s also ideal for hotels that have heavy corporate business, with reporting that lets you drill down to the account level to really understand trends in each micro-segment. HotelIQ comes at a minimum charge of 100 rooms per month. While for high-end full-service properties that won't be an issue, HotelIQ may be too robust for hostels, b&bs, and smaller independent hotels for whom PMS reports should suffice. Smaller, independent hotels might be intrigued by HotelIQ’s reporting functionality, but these properties likely will not take advantage of all of HotelIQ’s features. Typically hotel groups, management companies, and asset managers with 10 or more properties will benefit most from a solution like HotelIQ. While perfect for large enterprises, the new Decision Cloud update was designed to provide limited functionality at a lower cost basis to smaller hotel groups who may not have a need for all of the large enterprise capabilities. Still have questions about HotelIQ and what it offers? Check out real user reviews here. This content was created collaboratively by HotelIQ and Hotel Tech Report.
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.