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Payments as a Growth Driver in Hospitality

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 weeks ago

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

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Transform High-Touch Hotel Service into a Touchless Experience

by
Renz Ganaban
1 month ago

“Revenge travel” is on the rise. Although there’s no standard definition yet for the term, the phrase is catching on among industry professionals who use it to describe the big increase in people wanting to make up for travel experiences lost to the pandemic. But today’s travelers have new expectations.  According to a new study by Oracle Hospitality, nearly three-quarters (73%) of post-pandemic travelers want to eliminate the “touch” from the high-touch industry they once knew. Instead, they now prefer to use their personal devices to manage as much of their hotel experience as possible. In fact, that same percentage of travelers agree that they’re more likely to stay at a hotel offering self-service technology that lets them minimize contact with the staff and other guests. An easy way for hotel operators to make this transformation, is through implementing a web application. Web apps can be launched quickly because you only need internet connection. And unlike native apps, you don’t need to create multiple versions for different device operating systems, so they’re easy for guests to use, as well as simple to maintain and update. The touchless experience that web apps enable not only enhance guest satisfaction but simultaneously lighten the workload on your staff.

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Use Next-Gen Tech for a Contactless Guest Experience

by
Renz Ganaban
2 months ago

The hospitality industry is rooted in offering guest-centric, high-touch experiences delivered by caring and courteous staff. In the wake of the pandemic, however, guest expectations have shifted, with 88 percent of customers expecting companies to accelerate digital initiatives that reduce the need for physical interactions. Your guests no longer want to wait in crowded lobbies to ask a question, touch laminated room service menus to place an F&B order, or flip through paper compendiums to find local activities. This shift is causing hotels and casinos across the globe to seek out ways to provide personalized, high-touch customer service in a touchless way. Hotels that wish to stay competitive must implement a new generation of interactive digital technologies that address the challenge of augmenting the hotel experience with relevant information and offerings without requiring physical touch. Quick Response (QR) codes, Near Field Communication (NFC), and location-based beacon technology have entered the scene, allowing properties to drive new contactless channels of hotel and guest interaction. These solutions not only help you deliver a high level of service that enhances guest stays but drives fresh streams of incremental revenue as well.

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How Hotel Owners Can Benefit from Mobile Tech Tools

by
Nikolai Kronborg
4 months ago

Firstly, mobile services allow hotels to improve their operational efficiency. Mobile digitalization facilitates the automation of tasks that otherwise have to be performed manually by hotel staff. These can be eliminated by having guests do it themselves in advance (e.g. fill in the information, registration card, check-in and out, online payment, choose and allocate rooms, chat, book spa, dinner, or golf reservations, etc). Besides requiring fewer human resources from the hotel that could be spared or employed in other higher-value tasks, the best part of this self-administrated service is that by transferring the tasks to the guests, it further improves their experience and satisfaction. Mobile digitalization gives freedom for guests to find their own convenience.   Connect with guests on-the-go and extend the relationship beyond the duration of the stay Secondly, mobile services lead to a more customer-focused service and create a more personalized and on-premise accessible experience. For instance, more than 50% of American leisure travelers would use an app to add extras on-the-go during their hotel stays. Mobile services also help to maintain long-term relationships and two-way communication anytime during the guest’s journey and better manage loyalty programs.   Optimizes the value per guest and targets their specific needs In turn, this widens the opportunity to target guests’ specific needs, hence allowing hotels to focus their strategy on the optimization of each guest’s value. Mobile apps have an additional advantage, they work as direct channels to guests by integrating with customer support and feedback systems, as well as with broader online review platforms. Lastly, mobile apps can potentially capture late bookers. Over 70% of same-day hotel reservations are made on smartphones, thus, an optimized mobile experience can be the key to unlocking the value of late bookers,- and re-bookings.   What are guests really expecting from mobile hospitality? Guests want pre-arrival check-in and avoid reception queues. A study conducted by Ipsos and Aeroguest asked guests what characteristics they would value the most in their hotel experiences. We found out that Wi-fi and breakfast are essentials for every stay and in most cases could be deal-breakers. However, if we look into what mobile hospitably can add to the stay, then the best experience includes being able to check in earlier, check out later and cut these two steps shorter by avoiding queues and crowds in the reception, thus supporting a more convenient and contactless hotel stay. These are also the top two benefits that both business travelers and tech-savvy hotel guests are hoping their hotels will make available.   QUESTION: CHOOSE THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES OF MOBILE HOSPITALITY (the size of the picture is proportional to the utility level. Only 11 features are shown, total utility sums to 100%)   Guests are willing to pay to select their own room Having a room with a view and being able to select a specific room within the desired room type is also among the most valued features. This capability directly addresses another aspect that this study found guests to be unsatisfied with their hotel experiences. “When I book a room, I want to know what I am getting” This feature breaks the uncertainty factor and provides the choice and transparency needed when evaluating which hotel room to pick. Guests will know if the room meets their needs, where it is located, what view it has from the window, and if the requested extras have been acknowledged. This is another feature that mobile hospitality providers such as AeroGuest support, but not all hotels, web services, and apps give this opportunity to guests,- it is very difficult to build and has to be two-way integrated to multiple PMS across the world. An even more relevant aspect though, is that hotel guests are willing to pay to select their own room. 42% of hotel guests and almost 60% of business travelers would be likely or very likely to pay for choosing a specific room, and these would be willing to pay, on average, an extra 7% of the room price to choose their ideal room.   QUESTION: HOW LIKELY WOULD YOU BE TO PAY EXTRA FOR CHOOSING A SPECIFIC ROOM BEFORE ARRIVAL?   QUESTION: HOW MUCH WOULD YOU BE LIKELY TO PAY FOR CHOOSING YOU OWN ROOM?   In sum, mobile services not only yield operational efficiencies but also allow to upsell of some completely new services such as room selection and adding extras before and during the stay and to better capture re-booking.  

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Where is Mobile Hospitality Headed?

by
Nikolai Kronborg
5 months ago

The adoption of mobile technologies has taken the fast lane ever since the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has halted the industry. As a response to the challenges of the pandemic, mobile travel solutions have emerged as an appealing option to re-affirm consumer confidence that safety can be maintained when traveling. It seems that the adoption of both effortless and touch-free mobile solutions will have a lasting impact. Even though the need for safety takes precedence during these times of fear, the need for convenience is the main driver and will last beyond the hype of the pandemic.   Where is mobile hospitality headed? Mobile-enabled services are no longer an accessory in the hospitality industry to satisfy a niche need for speed or convenience for a narrow group of guests, but rather a necessity that enhances any guest’s travel experience. With or without a mobile strategy, every hotel owner should ask the following questions: What benefits are the growing mobile-centric hotel guests driven by? How should hotels adapt their services and where should they focus their attention to meet consumers’ expectations and needs in the hospitality service?   Mobile hospitality is a win-win for both hotels and guests The main reason why hotel owners should consider a mobile strategy is to give the business more operational efficiency and offer guests a more customer-focused experience while saving time and space for higher-value tasks and strategic revenue management. For guests, mobile hospitality rests on two benefits, the increased convenience of effortless travel and touch-free experiences.   Mobile-centric services make stays effortless and streamline the whole journey, thus improving the guest experiences First and foremost, an effortless journey will directly impact guests’ experience and satisfaction. Regardless of being a shorter or longer stay, for business or leisure, hotels work as an extension of our home. Likewise, to the same extent that we have the need to make our home lives convenient, functional, and comfortable, as hotel guests we expect just the same level of easiness. Mobile services are not only more streamlined than more traditional services, but they also have the power to connect the whole journey and several experiences seamlessly.   How can hotel owners benefit from mobile hospitality? Mobile digital services improve operational efficiency while improving guests’ travel experiences.  Firstly, mobile services allow hotels to improve their operational efficiency. Mobile digitalization facilitates the automation of tasks that otherwise have to be performed manually by hotel staff. These can be eliminated by having guests do it themselves in advance (e.g. fill in the information, check-in and out, online payment, choose and allocate rooms, book spa, dinner, or golf reservations, etc). Besides requiring fewer human resources from the hotel that could be spared or employed in other higher-value tasks, the best part of this self-administrated service is that by transferring the tasks to the guests, it further improves their experience and satisfaction. Mobile digitalization gives freedom for guests to find their own convenience.     Connect with guests on-the-go and extend the relationship beyond the duration of the stay. Secondly, mobile services lead to more customer-focused service and create a more personalized and on-premise accessible experience. For instance, more than 50% of American leisure travelers would use an app to add extras on the go during their hotel stays. Mobile services also help to maintain long-term relationships and two-way communication anytime during the guest’s journey and better manage loyalty programs. Optimizes the value per guest and target their specific needs. In turn, this widens the opportunity to target guests' specific needs, hence allowing hotels to focus their strategy on the optimization of each guest’s value. Mobile apps have an additional advantage, they work as direct channels to guests by integrating with customer support and feedback systems, as well as with broader online review platforms. Lastly, mobile apps can potentially capture late bookers. Over 70% of same-day hotel reservations are made on smartphones, thus, an optimized mobile experience can be the key to unlocking the value of late bookers. In sum, mobile services not only yield operational efficiencies but also allow to upsell some services such as room selection and adding extras during the stay to better capture late bookers.  

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Guest Experience Tech Goes Well Beyond Messaging

by
Francis X Garcia
5 months ago

AI Conversational Guest Messaging is quickly becoming a “must have” not only for premiere hoteliers, but for all sectors. Implementing Smart Guest Messaging has been documented to increase daily engagement of in-stay guests over 500%, from the historical 5%-10% via e-mail and web to above 50% via SMS, WhatsApp, etc. This leap in hotel guest communications at some hotels will foster in new guest expectations for most, if not all hotels. This conclusion is supported by the findings of HotelTech’s behavioral research published earlier this year. Within the audiences most important to hoteliers, 1) Text messages have a whopping 82% open rate   2) Over 80% of text messages are read within 5 minutes 3) 78% of texters say messaging is the fastest way to reach them. So, after experiencing the conveniences of smart guest messaging in one hotel, they are not likely to accept inconveniences in other hotels such as waiting in long lines, calling the front desk for everything, being put on hold, silencing their concerns, calling to make reservations, ordering room service, or even using a “communal” telephone in a post pandemic world.

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Boost Hotel F&B Revenue with Workflow Management

by
Kamini Patel
6 months ago

Today’s hotel guests are not only looking for a comfortable place to stay, but memorable dining experiences as well. Over the past couple of years, however, new trends have significantly reshaped the hotel industry’s F&B operations and workforce. Hoteliers must find new ways to satisfy guest demand and increase profit margins. The right technology helps you better manage F&B workflow and boost your bottom line. Today’s hotel guests are not only looking for a comfortable place to stay, but memorable dining experiences as well. With consumer’s pent-up demand for restaurant service remaining high, food-and-beverage (F&B) service can be a major contributor to your hotel’s positioning in the market, helping you drive unique guest experiences and differentiating your business from competitors.  Yet the past couple of years have reshaped the hotel industry’s F&B operations in ways that have significantly impacted profit margins. According to the 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, food, labor and occupancy costs are expected to remain elevated. And 40 percent of restaurant operators are not yet open to full capacity for on-premises dining, with 7 in 10 reporting that it’s due to staffing shortages. On top of this, there’s increased demand for curbside pick-up, take-out and delivery services. A key way of addressing these challenges lies in choosing technology solutions that optimize management of F&B workflow. The right solutions can mean the difference between becoming more lucrative or experiencing a quick demise. With an advanced hotel application, you can improve key aspects of your F&B workflow as well as your bottom line.   Create Efficiencies with Mobile Reservations Making restaurant reservations via phone calls is quickly becoming a thing of the past. A hotel app that offers guests the ability to book a table online offers a number of benefits for the guest and your F&B workflow. First, it improves the guest experience by giving them the freedom to plan in advance and make their bookings while on-the-go. Research from the 2021 Customer Engagement Technology Study revealed that 53 percent of your guests expect the ability to make their dining reservations online. On the operations side, a mobile-first reservation system helps you better manage waitlists and provide speedier seating, eliminating the cost and hassle of pagers by letting you text guests when their table is ready. An automated system eliminates reservation mix-ups and accidental double bookings that can occur due to the stress of front-of-house (FOH) staff dealing with constantly ringing phones. And because an app offers the capability to include additional comments, you can plan ahead to personalize service for those guests needing a high chair or celebrating a special event.   Streamline In-House Dining with Online Ordering Providing the ability for guests to place F&B orders via your hotel app using their personal mobile devices is another efficient and easy-to-use digital option that benefits workflow. For in-house dining, because you’ll no longer require servers to take each order, you can operate effectively with less staff. In fact, 80 percent of restaurant operators say that labor savings is a top benefit they’ve experienced when implementing online ordering, along with easier order processing and higher average checks. The entire system is expedited because guests can place orders as soon as their ready. This translates to less wait time, faster table turnover, and thus greater revenue. Online ordering increases accuracy since guests are communicating any meal customization and special requests themselves. And it satisfies the expectations of today’s guests, particularly younger travelers, with 43 percent of Millennials and 55 percent of Gen Z-ers preferring to order food and beverages via an app on their smartphone.   Improve Food Delivery Services with Online Ordering Mobile ordering also creates efficiencies with room service and food delivery. Since no human is required to take orders, guests are no longer stuck on hold while team members juggle calls during peak hours. And GPS location within an app makes it easy to deliver food or cocktails directly to guests on your property, whether they’re in their room or lounging poolside. The self-service aspect of online ordering simplifies the process and allows for revenue-lifting increases in order volume. On average, restaurant operators see a 43 percent increase in order frequency for takeout and a 29 percent increase for delivery orders. Another benefit is that apps collect F&B analytics from guest orders. Hotel restaurant operators can use this data to track fulfillment and delivery times, monitor inventory and analyze which dishes are most popular. The data also allows you to develop promotions designed to build off-peak demand, target specific guest segments and create discount strategies. Over half of restaurant operators state that these tailored promotions are much more effective than standard promotions.   Digital Options Improve Menu Management & Marketing Switching from physical to digital menus gives you the flexibility to include multiple menus within your hotel app, such as separate menus for your in-house restaurant, room service and group events. You can also develop custom menus, reducing time-consuming phone calls with questions about ingredients or gluten-free options, and satisfying the majority of your guests that expect the ability to preview menus and nutritional information online. Menus can be changed and updated instantly without the need for staff to physically swap them out in the restaurant or waste time replacing them inside in-room compendiums. Unavailable options can be removed in real time, helping you avoid guest disappointment. You can also boost revenue and streamline F&B marketing by promoting specific menu options at optimal times, such as offering a special on warm, comfort foods during cold days, suggesting specific food and drink pairings, and highlighting menu options that give you the highest profit margin.   Enhance Internal Communication with In-App Text & Chat In hotels, texting or chat for internal communication offers immediacy as well as the ability to track conversations. It speeds up workflow by allowing tasks to be communicated and handled more quickly. And it also expedites the tedious and time-consuming job of employee scheduling. Contacting a large number of staff via email or phone call isn’t practical, especially when it comes to time-sensitive notifications such as shift changes and event updates. Automated text messaging within a hotel app creates an efficient way for hotel restaurant operators to instantly contact staff. It also makes it quick and easy for employees to handle tasks such as searching for substitutes, trading shifts with co-workers or requesting vacation time.     Mobile Payment Simplifies BOH Operations The standard payment process is time consuming, requiring manual card entry, verification, reconciliation, chargebacks and disputes. Mobile payment through an integrated app allows restaurants to simplify back-of-house (BOH) operations by directly linking dining POS systems to your hotel’s PMS. This lets you easily assign a specific guest room to an F&B order so that the invoice is applied to the guest’s account with just one click. When guests pay directly through your app, it also diminishes mistakes and drastically reduces reconciliation times. Furthermore, you enhance satisfaction and loyalty because you’re meeting guests’ expectations, with 84 percent of all demographic groups preferring restaurants accept digital, contactless payment options.   In Summary  An integrated hotel application provides an ideal platform for improving overall hotel F&B performance by incorporating self-service reservation booking, mobile menu options, online ordering and payment solutions along with internal chat and texting features. When you implement the right solution, you create a winning synergism that delivers significant efficiencies to your F&B workflow while improving guest satisfaction and profitability at the same time.

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Accor’s Innovative Tech Strategy is the Key to Digital Transformation in Hospitality

by
Jordan Hollander
7 months ago

Hotel Tech Report recently sat down with Accor CTO Floor Bleeker for a behind the scenes look at how the hotel giant is out innovating the competition.  Accor is arguably the most disruptive large hotel chain in the world having recently unveiled a first of its kind multi-PMS strategy and also launching its own SPAC to invest in a hotel related businesses including technology. Back in March of 2019 Hotel Tech Report published a piece titled This is Why Hotel Brands Shouldn't Build Tech.  In that article, we made the case that hotel brands needed to rethink archaic tech strategies to adapt in a world of microservices, open APIs, cloud computing and cyber insecurity.  Back in the 90s, hotel companies built their own systems due to constraints of on-premise legacy systems but that playbook is no longer effective for modern hospitality brands. Accor has over 5,200 hotels in over 110 countries operating under more than 40 different brands.  So how does a company of that size and scale maintain a rapid pace of innovation?  In this interview we cover how Accor leverages a unique organizational structure to drive innovation, its technology investments and everything in between.  We’ll break down Accor’s approach to innovation to help guide other hotel chains, regional brands and even independents in how they should be thinking about hotel technology.

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5 Best Restaurant CRM Systems of 2022

by
Hotel Tech Report
7 months ago

How can your restaurant become more profitable despite rising ad costs, employee shortages, and pandemic restrictions? No, we’re not talking about going viral on TikTok, we’re talking about restaurant CRMs. Investing in a restaurant CRM solutions can bring a myriad of benefits to your establishment, whether you run a hotel restaurant, mom-and-pop diner, a coffee shop, a cocktail bar, or a chain of stylish bistros. CRM is the key ingredient behind many successful restaurants, and it can help restaurant owners build relationships with every guest to improve customer retention by leveraging rich guest data. In addition to driving guest loyalty and incremental revenue, CRM can also help your restaurant run more efficiently and boost guest satisfaction. How is it all possible?  In this article, we’ll explain what features and benefits you can expect from restaurant CRM and introduce you to some of the best systems in the marketplace. In just a few minutes, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about implementing a CRM in your own restaurant business.