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The 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Each year Hotel Tech Report surveys thousands of industry insiders to find the best hotel tech jobs and employers globally. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the hotel industry.  The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 121 million of the 330 million jobs tied to tourism around the world will be lost in 2020.  Despite existential challenges, hotels and their vendors have proven resilient in the face of the biggest challenge ever posed to the hospitality industry by working together. But there’s always opportunity in crisis.  The pandemic has advanced digitization in the global economy by at least 5 years according to most experts.  Hotels that already had adopted technology like contactless check-in and guest messaging software have had a massive advantage since the pandemic broke out and the importance of technology for running a successful hotel business will continue to rise over the coming years meaning that demand for hotel technology talent will grow with it. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we’ve interviewed countless hoteliers about their journeys from being hoteliers into lucrative technology careers like Del Ross, Marco Benvenuti, Sameer Umar, and Kevin Brown. For hoteliers furloughed on the sidelines, there is an unprecedented opportunity to pivot into a technology career leveraging skills and knowledge from hospitality experience.   But which hotel tech companies should you apply to? Every year we do the hard work for you and survey thousands of hotel tech professionals to find the best companies to work for in the hospitality industry. We ask respondents to rate their employers from 1-10 on these key variables:  Work-life balance Personal development opportunities Gender equality Confidence in company direction Values alignment 2021 Bonus Question: Rate your firm’s COVD-19 crisis response Hotel Tech Report creates this list each year for two reasons: (1) to help industry professionals find the best hospitality tech jobs and (2) to help hotel tech buyers understand that it’s just as important to partner with great organizations as it is to find great software tools and products. Vendor culture is important to every aspect of a vendor relationship: Product: Great workplaces attract the best talent who make the best products Customer Support: Happy client reps give better service and stay around longer developing deeper relationships. Sales: When a sales team has high turnover, innovation gets strangled because there isn’t enough cash coming in the door to invest in innovation. Our 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech list features companies who foster wonderful work environments for employees.  In return, those employees deliver incredible products and services to clients. Without further adieu here are 2021’s 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech…     10. Siteminder (TIE) Right before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, industry leader Siteminder reached an incredible milestone earning itself unicorn status.  Under the stewardship of CEO Sankar Narayan the firm quickly composed itself when the pandemic broke out and began rolling out initiatives to support both employees and customers like its World Hotel Index sharing real-time data with the industry when historical data just wouldn’t cut it.  Siteminder has an internal slack channel called #stayingsocial dedicated strictly to team members having a social communal space in the age of remote work.  This is pretty typical for a small startup but much rarer in the world of 700 employee behemoths.  The great part about working at a large startup-like Siteminder is that there’s almost limitless upward mobility according to one employee working in operations at the firm, “They allow me opportunities to take on more responsibilities that are even beyond my scope to develop my skills and prep me up for bigger roles. They also give leadership training to enhance to continue developing my capabilities.”  If you’re looking for a fast-paced global startup on a world domination path - then you should absolutely be dropping a resume at Siteminder.  The best part is that they’ve got offices all around the world so even if you prefer the WFH life your colleagues shouldn’t be too far away no matter where you call home.     10. Atomize (TIE) This is Atomize’s first time making Hotel Tech Report’s annual Best Places to Work list but we doubt it will be their last.  In true Swedish fashion Atomize rates amongst the highest on the list for gender equality with a 50% ratio of men to women on its leadership team.  Atomize also rates very highly for culture alignment with a score of 97.8%.  Perhaps the biggest standout for Atomize was how highly employees rated the firm’s COVID-19 response and support for clients during a crisis.  “Everyone from finance to product development has chipped in to try to support clients. We have for instance developed a relief-program for those that are hurting really bad, we have updated the product to amend for the large drop in occupancy for hotels, etc,” one Atomize executive told Hotel Tech Report.  Atomize made it through COVID-19 without a single layoff which is a testament to the longevity of the business and its and commitment to team members.  During the crisis Atomize stayed calm, launched the 2.0 version of their core RMS product, and even found time to bring the team together for a BBQ this summer during a slow down in transmission rates.     9. Hotel Effectiveness Georgia (the U.S. state not the country) based Hotel Effectiveness is in the business of helping hotel owners more efficiently manage labor but the question is: how well do they manage their own labor? It turns out they do a pretty darned good job at fostering internal culture.  Prior to the pandemic labor costs were the biggest focus area for most hotel ownership and management groups - despite the shift in focus Hotel Effectiveness managed to grow through the pandemic all while placing a heavy emphasis on quality of life for employees.  Team members cite a high percentage of employees being groomed from junior roles into leadership positions, flexible PTO programs, and strong opportunities for women.  PTO is great but Hotel Effectiveness management goes one step further where they encourage team members to completely unplug and not even check email during their vacation.  Adding icing to the cake, employees raved about the firm’s response to COVID-19 where it was able to grow without any layoffs needed.  One engineer raved about the Company’s COVID-19 response, “Hotel Effectiveness immediately shifted priorities specifically to address the changing needs of our clients. Hotel Effectiveness provided new guidance materials, payment options, and built new features (such as Daily Wellness Check-In) under tight deadlines to meet the new needs of our customers.”     8. EasyWay Big congrats to the first-ever Israeli startup to make this list!  If you’ve ever been to Tel Aviv or the Start-up Nation (Israel), perhaps a job interview with EasyWay is the excuse you needed to visit one of the most amazing cities in the world packed with beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a foodie scene that’s truly in a league of its own.  EasyWay is the quintessential startup with a mentality that so long as you hit your KPIs - the rest of your life is totally flexible.  An EasyWay executive’s quote to Hotel Tech Report about the last 12-months at the company says it all, “The work around the clock in the COVID-19 time was crazy.  We have developed so much stuff, that I almost miss this period. We've learned a lot from that, and staid on our feet! The rest of the team was great and it really gave me confidence in my own abilities.  If you're the kind of person who likes to work hard and play hard - you’d be wise to check out EasyWay’s open positions.      7. Asksuite This is Asksuite’s second year making the list and true to their commercial team’s motto “rockets don’t have reverse”, even a pandemic couldn’t slow down this high flying Brazilian startup.  Florianopolis may not be a hotel tech hub (yet) but the Asksuite team has access to lessons in language, hospitality and other training to upskill their way into global domination.  During the pandemic, leaders have made themselves available for 1:1 meetings to support all colleagues and perhaps it’s this close communication that leads Asksuite employees to rate 98% confidence in the future success of the firm.  Asksuite employees frequently cite an onboarding process that makes all team members feel like a part of the family in short order.     6. RoomRaccoon Despite the pandemic RoomRaccoon doubled the firm’s headcount in 2020 and achieved a major milestone in reaching 1,000 clients.  Employees frequently cite similar aspects of the culture as differentiators like their annual international week at the Netherlands headquarters and an inclusive onboarding program.  One employee within the marketing department told Hotel Tech Report, “This year RoomRaccoon decided to start hiring more new colleagues against the market trend of furlough and letting people go. To smoothen the onboarding process of our new hires we've created an E-learning program and two intensive onboarding weeks. So far we've onboarded 15 new hires since July 2020 that immediately are getting results. Something I'm really proud of!”  If you’re looking for an ambitious organization with a strong remote culture and complementary annual trips to the Netherlands - don’t hesitate and check out open listings at RoomRaccoon.     5. Alliants The Alliants story is the cure to the common venture funded business gone wrong story.  Alliants built the business developing custom software for ultra luxury hotel brands like Four Season and Jumeirah before ever dipping their toes into the SaaS world.  That means they’ve got killer products, an eye for design and engineering to back it up.  Starting in a consultative role for luxury brands has afforded Alliants a luxury not many early stage SaaS products have - cash flow.  How would this impact you when you apply for a role there?  Alliants employees are given a $5,000 stipend to invest in their own education and training.  Whether it’s a paid marketing course or intro to Ruby on Rails - at Alliants you will be able to create your own journey and take control of your destiny.  Have you ever had a boss block your calendar so people can’t book meetings with you? Well, Alliants employees have.  During winter months with less daylight, CEO Tristan Gadsby blocked the entire team’s calendars from 11:30am - 1:30pm to encourage team members to get outside, walk or simply catch some rays.  If that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will.     4. ALICE This ain’t ALICE’s first rodeo, well it’s their fourth if we want to be precise about it.  ALICE has made Hotel Tech Report’s Best Places to Work list 4 years in a row (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021).  ALICE is an incredible place to work for former hoteliers because employees truly act as a strategic extension of their partner properties.  During the pandemic, ALICE quickly pivoted to rollout closure checklists and other free assets to help partners quickly reconfigure their operations for the new normal.  “The most memorable achievement while working at ALICE this past year was being able to provide support for our employees during the pandemic. The pandemic-related fatigue and anxiety impacted everyone and in different ways. We were able to provide support to our employees through group therapy sessions, health and wellness initiatives, increased one-on-one check-ins regarding fatigue, increased opportunities for learning and connection with one another virtually. I am so proud of how the leadership at ALICE has led us through the most difficult time in our industry's history, and with such care for both our customers, our industry as a whole, and our employees,” says one ALICE team member in an HR role.  Just as important as supporting clients through COVID-19 is supporting colleagues.  ALICE team members were constantly comforted that management understood the stress and challenges they were facing during this historic yet tragic year, encouraging an environment of transparency and honesty about how to cope with natural distractions from work in times of stress.     3. hotelkit Austria-based hotelkit is another repeat visitor on this list moving up from 4th to 3rd place.  Founded in 2012 by hotelier Marius Donhauser, hotelkit is a majority female-run business that’s growing rapidly but responsibly throughout Europe.  hotelkit’s team motto is “one team one dream” and while the team had to work remotely for a good portion of the year, colleagues are hopeful that 2021 will bring back the annual hotelkit Christmas party famous for great eats and poker.  Under Marius’ leadership, hotelkit has fostered a culture that feels like family so it’s no wonder that employees rate the culture so highly across every single vector.     2. Cloudbeds Cloudbeds may be the fastest-growing hotel tech company right now so while their headquarters are in sunny San Diego the Company has got Silicon Valley energy pumping through its veins.  Not to mention, Cloudbeds is extremely global with local managers in 40 countries. On March 11th (yes that’s right when COVID-19 took the world by storm) Cloudbeds announced the closing of an $80M funding round.  Cloudbeds employees tend to share two main things in common: (1) they are extremely performance-driven and (2) they LOVE to travel. One Cloudbeds employee within the operations department told Hotel Tech Report, “I managed to get promoted on my 1 anniversary day at Cloudbeds, I was so happy and everyone was so attentive to me during this process. Cloudbeds is an amazing company, full of amazing individuals, it's so nice to see the owners in our calls and engaged with us all at all times. I used to think I had worked at good companies, till I met Cloudbeds. This is where I want to stay and grow. It will be hard for any other company to take me from here.”  Cloudbeds has TONS of openings so make sure to browse their career page if you’re in the market.     1. Mews This is Mews’ 3rd year making the list ranking #2 in 2019 and #3 in 2020 - but this is their first year topping the list which is a testament to the strong culture at the firm.  Like most fast-growing companies, the pandemic wreaked havoc on projections and business plans for Mews leading to some difficult decisions needing to be made.  Mews not only came through what was maybe the darkest moment in the history of the hotel industry but came out stronger than ever before.  Mews leadership set a strong course for the business cutting expenses, reorganizing the team, rebranding, focusing on remote deployments, and even making an acquisition.  Quite a busy year - even if things had been normal.  Mews management has created one of those infectious startup cultures that can almost feel cult-like at times often intoxicating entire trade show floors (pre-COVID).  It’s not often that employees at an aggressive high-performance tier 1 venture-backed business get to see their founder dancing through a town hall (affectionately named Mews Con) in a silly costume.  Mews pivoted from hyper-growth mode into a sharp focus on profitability right-sizing the business and is poised to come out of the pandemic far stronger than it went in.  Lots of open roles to check out and we’re sure that list will continue to grow over the coming months.  

Cloudbeds, SiteMinder & Room Raccoon Top People’s Choice Awards in the 2021 HotelTechAwards

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated hotel software in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the Top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards. The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity. The HotelTechAwards platform (by Hotel Tech Report) leverages real customer data to determine best of breed products and companies that help hoteliers grow their bottom lines. “The People’s Choice Award goes to a single company across all categories who demonstrates the strongest customer relationships during the HotelTechAwards.  Cloudbeds had more than 550 hotelier customers come out to share overwhelmingly positive feedback about Cloudbeds products in the midst of a global pandemic.  To have that kind of support from clients during the most challenging market in hotel history says all you need to know about Cloudbeds’ commitment to their partner properties,” says Hotel Tech Report CEO Jordan Hollander. Here’s the Official 2021 People’s Choice List: Cloudbeds SiteMinder RoomRaccoon Bookassist OTA Insight ALICE IDeaS Avvio Hoteltime hotelkit The key factors used to determine the annual People’s Choice Award include total verified customer reviews, geographic reach of reviews, and overall review sentiment and ratings. The best companies know that the most effective way to communicate their value proposition is to empower and amplify the voices of their happy customers.  The People’s Choice Award recognizes companies whose customers really value the relationship and partnership. “Twenty years ago we lived in a world where hoteliers just used one of the three or four technology systems out there and typically just ended up using whatever system they had heard of before.  Today there are thousands of SaaS choices in the market and dozens of great options available for most use cases but the market is moving so quickly that it’s hard for hoteliers to identify and keep track of the best products and companies.  This award honors the companies whose hotel customers are the most vocal advocates of their products to make that process easy,” says Hollander.   About the 2021 People's Choice Award The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity.  Early on as a startup, it’s easier for companies to maintain strong customer relationships with a limited customer base. But as a company grows its install base and scales globally, maintaining high customer satisfaction becomes increasingly more challenging.  Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated product in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards acknowledging the achievements of top innovators across all categories who embody the values, transparency, and customer-centricity that lie at the core of truly great companies. View Ranking Methodology>>

Winners of the 2021 HotelTechAwards Announced

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Hotel Tech Report has announced winners in the 2021 HotelTechAwards, based on more than 10,000 hotel software product reviews contributed by verified hoteliers during the competition.  Winners are selected based on key performance metrics including product popularity, customer satisfaction, integration compatibility, customer support quality, and more.  Winning a HotelTechAward is the highest achievement in the hotel technology industry. “In the midst of a global pandemic, 318,466 hoteliers visited Hotel Tech Report from every corner of the globe contributing 10,227 verified new product reviews during the 3-month awards period to share insights about their favorite tech products to run and grow their businesses.  It has been inspiring to see this massive wave of hoteliers sharing technology insights and product recommendations,” says Jordan Hollander, CEO of Hotel Tech Report. “This is the most comprehensive dataset around hotelier preferences ever developed and it gives unprecedented insights into tech trends for hotels during a pivotal moment in history.  Winning a HotelTechAward is a huge feat with the 2021 competition being the most competitive year ever.  Every company on this list should be extremely proud of what they've contributed to the growth of the hotel industry.” During the HotelTechAwards, hoteliers from the world's leading hotel companies review the top tech products used at their hotels to increase operating efficiency, drive revenue, and improve the guest experience. This data is used to identify the best hotel tech products and organizations. "The HotelTechAwards  are the only prize in the industry that is completely and transparently customer-driven — it's the hoteliers that decide who is best, and it's their opinion that matters most." Gautam Lulla, CEO at Pegasus. "We at SiteMinder believe strongly in the essence of openness; it is what underpins the very core of what we stand for, and the HotelTechAwards, through the program's data-driven and transparent process, aligns firmly with this value.” - Sankar Narayan, CEO at SiteMinder “This honor has deep, personal meaning as it is decided upon by our clients and represents our passion and focus for providing the most sophisticated revenue technology and comprehensive support.” Dr. Ravi Mehrotra Founder at IDeaS “The HotelTechAwards are a powerful stamp of approval for any company to possess and for hoteliers to trust. We value the HotelTechAwards process, which collects thousands of verified reviews from around the world each year.” Alex Shashou, Co-Founder at ALICE “HotelTechReport is the leading platform for technology in the hotel industry, and its meticulous and impartial verification process makes this one of the most prestigious awards.” Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen, Co-Founder at SuitePad The competition spans core areas of hotel software & technology: marketing, revenue, operations, and guest experience. 2021 Voting included participation from major hotel groups including Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, Accor Hotels, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Rosewood, and thousands of independents. "We originally created the HotelTechAwards as a democratized way to help our fellow hoteliers quickly determine best of breed vendors based on data they can trust and the scope of the competition this year is a testament to how far the industry has come in the last decade.  The HotelTechAwards rating process is simple, transparent, and unbiased--judging is based on time tested ranking factors, publicly available data, and crowdsourced insights from verified hoteliers who have hands-on experience with each product.” The HotelTechAwards are often referred to as "the Grammys of Hotel Tech" and winners were selected from the top technology products around the world. The HotelTechAwards are the industry's only data-driven awards platform with winners determined not by a handful of judges or popularity votes but by a global community comprised of thousands of verified hotel technology users across more than 127 countries.   Best Hotel Software Companies List >>

2021 HotelTechAwards Finalists Announced

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Hotel Tech Report has announced finalists in the 2021 HotelTechAwards, based on more than 10,000 hotel software product reviews from verified hoteliers during the competition.  Finalists are selected based on key performance metrics like product popularity, customer satisfaction, integration compatibility, customer support quality, and more.  Winning a HotelTechAward is the highest achievement in the hotel technology industry. “In the midst of a global pandemic, 318,466 hoteliers visited Hotel Tech Report from every corner of the globe contributing over 10,000 verified new product reviews during the 3-month awards period to share insights about their favorite software products.  It has been inspiring to see this massive wave of hoteliers sharing technology insights and product recommendations,” says Jordan Hollander, CEO of Hotel Tech Report. “This is the most comprehensive dataset around hotelier preferences ever developed and it gives unprecedented insights into tech trends for hotels during a pivotal moment in history.  Finaling in the HotelTechAwards is a reflection of quality every company on this list should be extremely proud of what they've contributed to the growth of the hotel industry.” Hotel Tech Report authenticates reviews through a strict verification process.  Further, companies are ranked based on pre-defined objective data variables to avoid the biases present in other human judged competitions. "Based on real and honest customer feedback, the HotelTechAwards really do provide the most transparent view on how technology is perceived and used across the industry,” says Sean Fitzpatrick, CEO at OTA Insight. The HotelTechAwards are often referred to as "the Grammys of Hotel Tech" and finalists are selected from more than 1,000 of the top technology products around the world. The HotelTechAwards are the industry's only data-driven awards platform with winners determined not by a handful of judges or popularity votes but by a global community comprised of thousands of verified hotel technology users across more than 120 countries.   -- Competition winners will be publicly announced on January 12th --   Best Guest Experience Technology Finalists Guest Messaging Software: Whistle, EasyWay, Monscierge Guest Room Tablets: SuitePad, INTELITY Guest Survey Software: TrustYou, Guestrevu, Revinate Hospitality TV Providers: Monscierge (Apple TV) Mobile Key: ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions, FLEXIPASS Mobile Ordering: Bbot, RoomOrders Hotel Guest Apps: ALICE, INTELITY, Wishbox   Best Operations Software Finalists Property Management Systems: Cloudbeds, Mews, Clock PMS+, HotelTime Staff Collaboration: hotelkit, Monscierge, ALICE Hotel Management Systems: RoomRaccoon, Cloudbeds Concierge Software: ALICE Cyber Security & Fraud Prevention: Canary Technologies, Sertifi Digital Signage: Monscierge Housekeeping Software: hotelkit, ALICE, Optii Marketplaces & Integrators: Hapi, Dailypoint Preventive Maintenance: hotelkit, ALICE, Transcendent Restaurant Management: HotelTime, Oracle MICROS POS Employee Engagement Software: hotelkit, Hotel Effectiveness, Beekeeper Contactless Check-in: EasyWay, Canary Technologies, Wishbox Spa Management: HotelTime   Best Revenue Management & Finance Software Finalists Revenue Management Systems: IDeaS, Duetto, Atomize Business Intelligence: OTA Insight, Duetto, ProfitSword Central Reservations Systems: Pegasus Channel Managers: SiteMinder, Cloudbeds, D-EDGE Parity Management: OTA Insight, RateGain Rate Shopping & Market Intelligence: OTA Insight, SiteMinder, RateGain Reporting & Accounting: M3, MyDigitalOffice Upselling Software: Oaky, GuestJoy, EasyWay   Best Marketing Tech Finalists Booking Engines: Cloudbeds, Bookassist, SiteMinder Hotel CRM & Email Marketing: Revinate, Profitroom, Dailypoint Digital Marketing Agencies: Bookassist, Avvio, Net Affinity Direct Booking Tools: Triptease, Hotelchamp Website Live Chat and Chatbot: Asksuite, Whistle Independent Loyalty Programs: The GuestBook Metasearch & Ad Tech: Bookassist, Avvio, Koddi Reputation Management: TrustYou, Guestrevu, Revinate Hotel Website Design: Bookassist, Avvio, Profitroom   Best Meetings & Events Tech Finalists Event Management Software: Event Temple Group Sourcing & RFP Software: MeetingPackage, Venuesuite Meetings Intelligence Software: Duetto, IDeaS Sales CRM: Event Temple, MeetingPackage  

Crave AppLess™: This is the Mobile Ordering Tech Your Guests Have Been Waiting For

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Travel is, for the moment, no longer the easy escape from daily life that many once sought. The health and safety restrictions necessary to combat COVID-19 have complicated everything from getting on a plane to ordering at a restaurant. For hotels, nearly every element of the guest experience needs to be reconsidered to prevent the transfer of the virus. Before, a guest would simply pick up the phone to order room service. Now, guests are wary of high-contact surfaces – and may not want to use the phone. Room service must be left outside the door, rather than delivered in person. Guests wishing to dine at your on-site restaurant must make a reservation to ensure capacity restrictions are met. All these added precautions put additional burden on your housekeeping team already operating with reduced staff – again, due to capacity restrictions. Many hotel properties are thinking outside the box about how to create a safe, yet satisfying, guest experience. Mercantile Hotel is experimenting with a robot concierge named Suga. Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac has created a set-menu meal package of three meals a day, delivered to the room or in the property’s restaurant. Singapore’s hotels are going all-in on “automation and artificial intelligence” as well as “self check-in kiosks, mobile check-in, chatbots, direct booking applications, contactless payments, and digital in-room dining services.” Robots aside, there is one stand-out solution that’s easy to implement at properties of all sizes: QR codes. The use of QR codes to enhance the guest experience isn’t that new or revolutionary. Many properties are using QR codes to provide instant access to hotel information, such as services and amenities, guest check-in, room service, and more.  Crave AppLess™ marries QR codes with seamless technology to help a property to maximize revenue and be cost-efficient. The pandemic won’t impact travel forever, and Crave AppLess™ offers a frictionless (and touchless) experience for guests as well as a new avenue for hotels to capture incremental revenue in the time of coronavirus, and beyond.   Crave AppLess™ in Brief Crave’s newest offering, Crave AppLess™, is elegant in its simplicity. The product creates custom QR codes a guest can scan to order room service, explore amenities,and pay for products and services using a range of methods, including Apple Pay or charge to room. QR codes can be added to guest rooms, restaurant tables, cabanas, and other locations around your property – as well as in your booking emails. 71% of guests prefer to use a QR code versus downloading an app.  With Crave, there’s no download required: as the name suggests, AppLess™ gives guests frictionless access to digital services on their own devices. Guests can simply point their phone cameras at the custom QR codes to access services customized to your hotel and your brand.    How does Crave AppLess™ work? With Crave AppLess™, guests can explore amenities at your property without touching shared surfaces like menus, directories, and in-room phones. It’s an easy way to increase the health and safety of your guests and staff. Here’s an example of how Crave AppLess™ facilitates a better guest experience – without overworking your reduced staff.     Load your hotel's menu into the easy-to-use CMS. Include pictures, descriptions of dishes, and modifiers. Crave’s customer success team is highly experienced and will even set-up your menu for you ensuring seamless configuration and deployment. Put a QR code sign in guest rooms. Crave’s AppLess™ uses location-intelligent QR codes to enable guests to access the menu in addition to other amenities – spa services, for instance. Guests can simply point their camera at any code.  Guests can even opt-out of housekeeping and control who is able to access their room through the mobile web, reducing your housekeeping costs. Guests scan the QR code sign and place their order. With the platform’s integrated easy payment with Apple Pay and Google Pay, guests can pay for food and drink to be delivered to their room.  The kitchen automatically knows it's from a specific room, sends, and charges to their PMS. No additional manual labor from your team is needed to fulfill the customer’s request. Contactless delivery is easy. There are longer-term benefits to adding Crave AppLess™ at your property, too. First and foremost, the flexibility of Crave AppLess™ means you can add infinite points of discovery to your property. As your offerings grow and change, you can make digital adjustments to your guest services compendium without interrupting or disrupting the guest experience. Save money – and trees – in the long run as you cut down on paper and printing costs.     As a modular solution, AppLess™ can be used as a really simple, low-cost solution that simply provides links to PDF menus and directories. Once implemented, upgrading with additional services and functionality is easy.  As your hotel’s requirements evolve, AppLess™ can evolve with you - adding functionality like a digital concierge service to make more incremental revenue from commissions. Your guests benefit from the instant and easy access to explore all your services – without having to download and sign up for an app. The integrated payment feature also lowers any barriers to completing the checkout process. Guests don’t have to go through the hassle of visiting the concierge or front desk to pay, and your property benefits from higher incremental sales – especially from day guests. Capture higher revenues from F&B, spa bookings, and concierge services.   Is Crave AppLess™ right for your property?  At the end of the day, Crave AppLess™ is a low stakes, high reward investment you can make to boost revenue now and in the future. Customers have never enjoyed downloading an app; an easily scannable QR code circumvents the many steps it takes to get set up with a new app that a guest won’t use. Your property can benefit from incremental revenue and excellent service that drives loyalty and repeat visits – all while keeping your team and guests safe. Get in touch with Crave to request more information.   This content was created collaboratively by Crave Interactive and Hotel Tech Report.  

How to Choose the Best POS System for Your Hospitality Business

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Before the pandemic, analysts estimated that consumers and businesses worldwide would make 841 billion noncash transactions in 2023 – up 46% from 2018. Noncash transactions have only gotten a boost from the pandemic, as consumers demand a socially-distanced, contactless way to pay: tap-and-go credit and debit cards, or mobile wallets like Google Pay and Apple Pay. However, not all hotels are equipped to handle these types of payment methods. As virtual payments become more popular, hotel managers must upgrade their point-of-sale system to accept payments anywhere, anytime. The convenience of being able to accept any form of payment at your hotel is an easy way to improve guest satisfaction, while the many integrations of today’s POS systems can help your team work more efficiently with fewer errors. Whether you own a retail store, restaurant or hotel you will need a POS to run your business and power your back-office operations.  Decades ago clunky cash registers cluttered countertops around the world and created nightmares for small business owners.  Today those business needs are met by fast, mobile and powerful POS systems at a fraction of the cost.  Today point of sale software is at the center of mobile payments and finding the right POS is absolutely critical to ensuring business efficiency.  This article is for you if: Your business is running on decades old technology and you need a modern POS Your current system isn't giving you access to customer data and real time sales reports You want a way for customers to quickly checkout via touch screen POS terminals Your current setup won't allow you to efficiently integrate with customer loyalty programs, customer relationship management software (CRM) or accounting software like Quickbooks Your employees tell you that your current system isn't user-friendly Let's dive in!   What is a (Point of Sale) POS System? A point-of-sale system, or POS system, is a tool that allows your hotel to accept payments. There are three basic components to today’s POS systems:  Hardware: there are a couple of different parts of POS hardware. A card terminal is needed to accept credit cards, debit cards, and mobile wallet payments. Other tools include a receipt printer, cash drawer, and scanner to ring up items with bar codes.  Software: the software on your POS allows you to choose from a database of items for which to charge. Ring up a sale, view customer transaction records, manage your inventory, and get analytics and reporting through a POS platform.  Payment transfers: the POS sends money from the guest’s account to your hotel’s linked bank account after each sale. These are the main components of a POS system – but they come together in all shapes and sizes.   POS System Features  POS systems can do more than just process transactions. They integrate with your existing hotel technology to help your property run smoothly. Look for a POS that has these features. POS Hardware The terminal and other equipment that makes up your point-of-sale can be as small as a dongle that attaches to a phone or iPad, or as big as a computer screen. Think about where you are using your point-of-sale: if you wish to add a POS system to your room service team to allow guests to pay when their order is delivered to their door, a mobile POS might be the best option. If you’re looking for something to use in your restaurant, a terminal like the Clover Station or Square Register might be a better fit. Barcode scanner: Retail POS systems need a barcode scanner where hotel and F&B outlets may not Credit card readers: All POS systems must include a card reader to accept major credit cards POS Software Each POS provider offers its own platform through which to run your hotel’s sales and operations. Look for a cloud-based system that allows the provider to send updates through without any lag time or effort needed from your team. Other software features to look for include:  Inventory data: does the software have robust and actionable analytics? Security: is the tool PCI DSS compliant and can it accept EMV? Integrations: can the POS speak to other software in your hotel technology stack?  Does it have the right payment processor integrations? Automation: can the POS platform be set up to save your team time?  Flexibility: can the software be set up to grow with your hotel’s needs? Some tools, like Clover, offer a host of third-party apps that you can add to make your POS even more powerful. These apps configure your POS for whatever aspect of your hotel you’re trying to improve. For instance, the employee schedule can be run through the Homebase app. The KitchenDisplay app fires orders to the kitchen and organizes tickets to reduce error and help your team serve guests efficiently. Gusto’s Payroll app automates your payroll and takes out your federal, state, and local payroll taxes to reduce admin and human error. There are lots of things a POS can do beyond simply accepting payments and tracking sales.   What are the Benefits of a POS Solution? If you don’t have a POS system at your hotel, you’re missing out on the opportunity to capture more sales, help your team run efficiently, and improve guest satisfaction. Here are a few key benefits to implementing a POS system at your property.  Accept all payment options Research shows that only 17% of global card payments will be made using cash by 2022. The pandemic has caused a sharp upswing in the adoption of contactless payment and mobile wallets. Your guests expect to be able to pay using whatever method they prefer: EMV chip, Apple Pay, gift card, and any other digital wallet option. A POS with fully integrated credit card processing gives you the ability to accept any form of payment. It’s a win-win: your property never misses a sale, and your customer is able to check out conveniently using their preferred payment method.  Improve your guest loyalty program Many POS systems allow you to gather and organize guest information more effectively. Transaction records are stored in a database that tells you what a guest purchased, their contact information, when they last interacted with your hotel, and any other pertinent details you can use for marketing purposes. Go beyond basic sales data and integrate your POS with your hotel CRM and email marketing and your other platforms to get a complete picture of a guest’s preferences and customer insights. Better inventory management Managing a lobby shop or trying to cut down on restaurant waste? Instead of dedicating staff time to ordering inventory, keeping an eye on the supplies, and monitoring sales, your hotel POS system can be set up to manage inventory for you. Use the tool in your on-site restaurant to see when supplies are low and set up alerts when it’s time to put in a re-order. “Manually reconciling inventory across all the places you sell and store your products is tedious and prone to human error. When your inventory syncs automatically, you know exactly how much stock you have and where it is at any given time,” explained Shopify. “It’s also easy to understand how well each product is selling and create purchase orders based on performance and updated stock levels.” Track and analyze your sales Unlike a simple cash register, a POS system can tell you how well your hotel is doing financially in real-time. Many POS systems are equipped to provide daily reports on your sales, customer behaviors, and even employee productivity. The same terminal you use to process credit cards can also become the hub for employees to clock in and clock out. Analyze how your sales compare to the previous month, quarter, or same time last year.   How to Choose a POS System (Feature Functionality) There are many, many POS vendors on the market, each offering their take on sales software and hardware that can help your hotel run better. Consider the following factors when choosing a POS partner. Security: any system that stores guest information and payment data is going to be at risk. Ask vendors what processes and tools are in place to keep your guest data secure. Your POS system should be compliant with the data security standards established by the Payment Card Industry (PCI). Look for something that encrypts payment data and can accept EMV cards.  Adaptability: when the pandemic hit, many restaurants began offering delivery for the first time – and the POS became a critical component of making that shift. Look for a partner that can offer online ordering, delivery, and other ancillary services as your hotel business scales and grows.   Cost: pricing your POS requires estimating two components. The hardware is usually sold as either an all-in-one POS or a pre-configured kit with add-ons. For instance, you may wish to get a receipt printer, stand, or reader in addition to a card processing terminal. POS partners also charge ard processing fees – a percentage of the total sale amount, plus a nominal flat fee. Make sure to ask each vendor how much these fees will be per transaction.  When considering cost it's important to also factor payment processing fees as they can far outweigh the subscription price on hardware and software combined. Flexibility: the best POS options are cloud-based so that your hotel team can see sales data and accept payments on multiple devices throughout the property. “An added benefit of cloud-based POS software is that it eliminates the need for costly upgrades and minimizes security risks traditionally associated with client-server systems,” adds Shopkeep.  Customer Support: find out if the partner has 24/7 support. In case of technical issues, you want to be able to reach a live person through email, phone, or live chat. Of course, you should also ask how the POS system integrates with your existing CMS, PMS, booking engine, and more.   Hotel POS Systems (vs Retail and Restaurant POS System) There are a few different parts of your property where you can install a POS: the hotel gift or lobby shop, your on-site restaurant, or the spa. Anywhere where you need to ring up guest payments is where you will need a POS. However, unlike most retailers, hotel POS systems are most effective when they connect with your PMS. It’s very common for guests to post bills to their rooms when staying at a hotel, and while this could be manually done, a purpose-built hotel POS will have an automatic interface to your property management system (PMS). Hotel technology is meant to make your team’s job easier. A POS built for hotels can integrate easily with your existing systems to automatically add a charge to a guest’s final payment, rather than making your team manually add in expenses throughout that person’s stay. Read more about the best POS systems for hotels in our Next-generation POS Hospitality Software ebook.  

The Complete Restaurant Software Ecosystem (2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

As a restaurant owner or operator, you're constantly fielding calls from both new and existing restaurant management software vendors. Whether you're running an independent restaurant or operating one within a hotel, those calls are simply a fact of life. So it's no wonder that it’s hard to navigate the restaurant industry's technology ecosystem and its perplexing web of vendors serving as everything from a turnkey loyalty program to preventive maintenance and project management. That’s especially true when so many have overlapping functionality and similar features. How do you differentiate between each one? And how do you build a software stack that empowers staff, increases productivity and enhances the guest experience? It’s a lot to manage, in addition to everything else. Our goal here is to put some structure around this chaos. So whether you choose a master vendor that packages multiple tools in a single suite or opt to customize your tech stack with several vendors, this resource is for you. We've organized it into categories alongside recommendations on what to look for. As you evaluate the right solutions for your operation, keep a few things in mind: first and foremost is reliability. Cloud-based software is affordable and functional -- but for anything mission-critical, you’ll need an operational plan for when/if you lose internet connectivity. And when things do go south, you want a vendor with responsive and helpful support that never leaves you hanging. Second, think contactless. The pandemic has accelerated the existing trend towards mitigating limiting direct contact between guests and staff. Your technology should help not hinder the contactless experience. Finally, avoid feature creep. It's easy to get distracted by bells and whistles that you'll never use. This can be especially true when choosing a vendor that provides solutions to multiple industries and not just restaurants; there can be many unnecessary features. Stay focused! Take an honest appraisal of your operation and deploy technologies that serve your existing needs while giving you room to grow. This keeps software costs in check and reduces training time on confusing software.  And now, to the main event: this is the restaurant tech ecosystem in 2021!   Restaurant Management Software Categories Point-of-sale Multi-channel Ordering And Payments Guest WiFi Reservations And Waitlists Back Office And Inventory Management Staff Scheduling And Payroll Business Intelligence And Analytics Food Delivery Restaurant Websites Loyalty Marketing   Point of Sale (Restaurant POS System) Every restaurant needs a POS; it’s the heart muscle of the restaurant. But all POS software isn’t the same. As cloud-based software reduced development costs, the market was flooded with options. Most of them are decent. They do the trick. But a great POS can be transformative.  By centralizing essential operational functionality alongside labor management, payment processing, and kitchen management, your restaurant can operate smoothly and more profitably. The best example of this is integrated inventory management, where each order automatically reduces stock counts and updates orders. This saves a ton of labor and makes kitchen management less burdensome. That being said, a “do it all” POS (also marketed as a “restaurant management system”) may not be the best solution for your restaurant, especially if your chosen POS doesn’t excel at any one feature in particular. You'll end up with a point-of-sale that works well enough but doesn't provide the deep domain expertise and operational impact of a focused vendor. The key is matching your operation to a POS vendor that serves your category well. For instance, a small independent restaurant probably doesn't want to go with a multinational conglomerate that specializes in large restaurant groups or hotels. Not only is it cost-prohibitive but you’ll be a small fish in a big ocean. It’s best to go with a vendor that can provide the level of service and attention your operation needs. What to look for: Reliability is paramount. Most restaurants simply cannot function when the POS goes down. if you know that your internet connection is unreliable, a cloud-based POS needs an offline mode to keep your operation going no matter what.  Gift cards can be a sneaky way that POS vendors overcharge or lock you into a less-than-desirable ecosystem. Make sure to ask about how gift cards are handled, from securing physical cards to redemption costs. Gift cards are fantastic for incremental revenue, so avoid surprises!   Integrations are also a key piece of any POS system. Look for a vendor that integrates with the other technologies in your operation so that you have seamless sync and eliminate the hassle of manually exporting data from one system to another.  Lastly, hardware like iPads or self-serve kiosks is a major consideration.  Think through your guest journey and ensure that your vendor has the proper functionality to operate in your current or future workflows. Vendors to consider: This is the most saturated category of restaurant tech! Crave Interactive recently expanded into restaurants with its contactless experience ServeSafely. InforPOS is ideal for larger operators with multiple revenue centers. Lightspeed POS and TouchBistro are all-in-one solutions. POSLavu is tablet-based, which reduces the upfront cost of installation, and offers a loyalty app with in-store payment and pre-ordering.  OraclePOS specializes in hotel food and beverage operations. Also by Oracle is SimphonyPOS, a MICROS-based POS for restaurants that’s less clunky and more extensible than past legacy systems. Billed as restaurant management systems that do it all, HungerRush includes a delivery module, Toast has a modern look-and-feel and QSR Automations specialized in quick-service restaurants.  Enterprise brands, such as Oracle, have dramatically improved the look and functionality of their restaurant point-of-sale systems.   Multi-Channel Ordering And Payments The restaurant business has expanded beyond on-premise sales. There’s takeout, delivery, gift cards, merchandise, packaged goods and even DIY “cook at home” kits.  And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic put revenue diversification at the top of the priority list.  Since selling across multiple channels insulates your operation from unexpected dips in demand from a single channel, you’ll need software to support multi-channel ordering. You also need the ability to take payments seamlessly across each of your chosen channels. These channels could include your website, text messaging, or messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. Equally important is safety; by offering a digital ordering system, you reduce touchpoints between staff and guests and keep everyone that much safer. Customers can order and pay on any device and your staff can focus more on fulfilling orders rather than answering the phone, swiping cards and handing receipts back and forth. What to look for: Cross-device compatibility. Any device, whether an Android phone or an Apple tablet, should be able to access menus and order easily across all devices. Depending on the size of your operation, a mobile app may be ideal so that you can give a centralized way for customers to interact with each of your locations. Payments should also be easy for customers and staff. Ideally, you want to eliminate the need to take any physical payment for online orders, Some systems offer e-wallets, where customers load money into a dedicated wallet so they don't have to enter payment information for each transaction. E-wallets were popularized by Starbucks, which made it super easy to order on mobile by offering seamless payments and auto-reloads when account balances drop below a certain amount. You also want to think about how people will order. Do you want to let people order via text message? Voice calls? Social media? Or only through your website? Or maybe you want an app for your restaurant to streamline all of these things? Do you need contactless digital menus and tableside ordering via QR code? Make a list of your must-haves and go from there. Vendors to consider: Olo and Tapmango are for bigger companies seeking a platform that can include branded apps, e-wallets, digital ordering and loyalty marketing. Pizza restaurants may find the ideal solution with ThrivePOS while other quick serves use Restolabs and restaurants in the Middle East use EatApp.  Chatfood’s commission-free platform supports ordering on Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook, while ChowNow and Checkmate are popular online ordering systems for restaurants. For on-premise contactless ordering options, Bbot Smart Ordering allows guests to order and pay right from their phones. Most all-in-one POS and restaurant management systems also include multichannel ordering and payments, so check out that category above.   Many restaurant website builders also make it easy for guests to order online (seen here on BentoBox).   Guest WiFi Wi-Fi has become a standard part of the on-premise guest experience. That's doubly true for categories of restaurants that serve a large proportion of work-from-home guests, such as coffee shops and some fast-casual restaurants. “Fast and free” WiFi can earn customer loyalty, better online reviews -- and even free press coverage. With so much bandwidth being consumed, Wi-Fi can also get costly. It’s a balance between guest expectations with the reality of providing fast internet access. One way to mitigate some of this cost is to go with an ad-supported model that requires guests to engage with advertising prior to access.  Another way is to use WiFi as a marketing asset that generates value by providing ongoing engagement opportunities with guests. You could require a sign up with email or social profiles, which can be used for future marketing campaigns. Or you could even ask for a bit more demographic information to build a more robust guest profile. There’s real value and longer-term ROI when this information is added to your POS and loyalty programs. What to look for: There are some serious security implications when offering Wi-Fi to guests. Your back-office systems should be isolated from everything else. There should be an ironclad firewall between both systems to avoid costly and embarrassing breaches of payment data and sensitive guest information held in your POS.  Your guest internet portal should be user-friendly, device-agnostic, fully customizable and adhere to all local data privacy regulations.  Also: Your employees aren’t IT support specialists -- and restaurant operations are already tricky enough. Keep it simple and functional, with a vendor that provides responsive support for troubleshooting issues. When guests expect the internet, and the internet is not available, it can cause conflict with staff and become the focus of negative reviews. Avoid at all costs! Vendors to consider: Facebook offers free Wi-Fi to businesses; customers can access free Wi-Fi when they check into your business, giving them a perk and you an organic boost on the platform. Social WiFi offers a responsive and customizable internet portal that combines special offers, social logins, GDPR compliance with customer communication and marketing segmentation. SpotOn focuses on simplicity with multiple social logins, analytics, marketing, and reviews, as well as “controlled access” plans that allow you to restrict time spent, connection speed and data usage at the user level. Another popular option is CLOUD4WI’s Splash, which is used by many global brands to provide Wi-Fi and deepen relationships with customers.   SpotOn’s simple interface makes guest WiFi easy and attractive.   Reservations And Waitlists Reservations and waitlist management have always been a chokepoint. Thanks to OpenTable, many guests are accustomed to the convenience of online reservations. But this convenience comes at a cost to restaurants, and not just in the fees paid to these platforms: reservations are made but not canceled. No shows mean empty tables, frustrated staff and less revenue. Combine no shows with a long waitlist and you get angry guests wondering why it’s taking so long for a table when there are empty ones available.  Some POS systems may include these features but often come across as afterthoughts. With something that your staff and guests interact with often, pick a dedicated solution that’s easy-to-use for everyone. Most software also manages table assignments to keep servers happy and reduce conflict around who’s next in the rotation. What to look for: With cloud-based software, table management is easier than ever. Hosts can walk around the restaurant to manage table statuses in real-time -- so much better than pen and paper! Even better: with POS integration, table statuses will automatically update and eliminate the constant circulation of hosts.  It’s also possible to ditch the costly pagers. Most cloud-based options will send a text message to guests, which not only reduces pager loss but allows guests more room to roam while they wait. “Range anxiety” is real and it makes the wait feel longer when guests are tethered to the immediate vicinity.  Reduce your reliance on OpenTable and look for a vendor that links your reservations portal into Google search, Facebook, Instagram and TripAdvisor (as well as taking reservations on your website). Vendors to consider: HostMe has a neat way of reducing no shows: deposits and cancellation fees, all automatically debited when a guest no shows or cancels late. With SEVENROOMS, you can offer customizable reservation upgrades (chilled champagne on arrival? Of course!), store guest preferences and even share those preferences across multiple locations.  Yelp for Restaurants and OpenTable for Restaurants are appealing because they connect directly with these two most popular restaurant finders in the world (but you’ll still pay fees per cover). Your guests can send a text to join your waitlist with Waitwhile. There’s also Wisely and ResyOS which has adapted to COVID-19 by including capacity controls, curbside pickup management and remote waitlists.   Back Office And Inventory Management Accounting, bookkeeping and inventory management software may be the least sexy but most impactful software for your restaurant. It's how you keep track of your cash flows and monitor profitability, not to mention reduce overordering and theft. Running on instinct is never a good idea when it comes to inventory management. You should base orders on historical data and forecasted demand. The right software can take care of all of this for you so you’re balancing supply and demand. What to look for: Menu engineering! The only way to really know whether your menu is profitable is either manual menu costing via spreadsheet or to use software that inputs ingredient cost and calculates each item’s profit. Spreadsheets for cheapest but take a lot of time to manage. The software makes this process seamless and consistent, enhancing your profitability without sacrificing your chef’s sanity.  Vendors to consider:  apicbase centralizes your recipes, menus, kitchen training, food costs and inventory orders so you can see performance at a glance across all outlets. xtraCHEF has similar functionality, with an added focus on automating invoice management and making bookkeeping more precise. There’s also FoodNotify and Avero, which also offers business intelligence features. For accounting and bookkeeping, you can’t go wrong with Xero or Quickbooks for managing day-to-day bookkeeping and end-of-year accounting. Larger vendors such as Birchstreet, Long Range Systems and Adaco provide a full suite of tools that include key financial integrations, such as “procure to pay” that automates kitchen ordering and associated bookkeeping.   Employee Management And Payroll Even though it can be available within your POS, a standalone staff scheduling tool is helpful in the foodservice space and broader hospitality industry due to high labor costs. Your staff is going to want mobile access because not everyone has a computer at home. And they’ll need a simple way to trade shifts. As you likely already know, trading shifts is a manager’s nightmare. Staff should manage this on their own, and a POS-integrated solution isn’t the most reliable or user friendly. What to look for: In addition to smartphone support and shift trading, look for a staff scheduler that puts shift management at its core. Managers should have a hassle-free experience and be able to pull reports to identify potential labor overages. Small touches like color-coded shifts can make a major difference for managers starting at schedules all day. Vendors to consider: HotSchedules, 7shifts and Schedulefly are employee scheduling software specifically made for restaurants. Many POS also include these features, such as POSLavu and TouchBistro. For payroll (including managing tips, which tends to trip up traditional payroll software), look at Proliant and Kitchensync. ADP and Paychex have plenty of restaurant clients too.   Business Intelligence And Analytics Business intelligence and analytics software is a companion to your accounting software. Whereas accounting software tracks your financial data, your BI and analytics tool makes sense of your demand data to give you key insights around future forecasts and menu profitability.  What to look for: Most smaller operations are well-served by the reporting tools within most point-of-sale systems. For larger multi-unit operations, it makes sense to have a standalone tool that automatically pulls data from multiple sources into a centralized dashboard.  The most important considerations are that the business intelligence tool integrates with your entire tech stack and that its dashboards are easy to understand.  it does no good to have incomplete information presented poorly. Insights should be automated and actionable; otherwise, the investment isn’t worth it. Vendors to consider: Womply is really interesting, as it turns your POS data and revenue analytics into a powerful marketing tool across email, digital ads and online reviews. In addition to sales forecasting, Avero surfaces granular operational data, such as which servers sell the most and which menu items are most popular. For larger operations, Adaco combines business intelligence with accounts payable and accounting features.   Sales forecasts, server performance and menu profitability are a few of the insights unlocked by business intelligence software for restaurants. (Avero shown here).   Food Delivery Food delivery has been a growing part of the restaurant business for years. This trend has accelerated during the pandemic, as consumers reduce the frequency of restaurant visits and see contactless delivery as a safe way to order out.  Statista found that nearly 42% of respondents are likely to purchase food online amid the coronavirus pandemic. As demand shifted, more restaurants than ever before joined third-party platforms like GrubHub, Postmates and UberEats. While it's great to have an instant source of demand, the associated fees are significant costs that eat into already-thin margins.  For many restaurants, the cost is an adequate trade for not having to support in-house delivery. But for high-volume operations, such as pizza parlors,  fees can be a major issue. High-volume restaurants can boost profit margin dramatically by using food delivery tech to bring delivery in-house. This isn't feasible for every restaurant type, as it requires not just a technology investment but also an effective marketing strategy that drives demand directly to your platform rather than third parties. But when it works, in-house food delivery is lucrative. What to look for: If you're not going with a vendor that integrates food delivery management into your existing multichannel ordering system or POS, then it really comes down to integration. You want to minimize disruption as you deploy new technology. Your food delivery tech should keep your kitchen organized with reliable order tracking and make it hassle-free to assign drivers for each order.  You’ll also need accurate reporting to track driver tips and performance during each shift. Efficiency is one of the main values provided by third-party services. They are constantly updating their algorithms to assign drivers the most efficient route. However, third parties have a lot of other factors to consider, such as other orders in the queue. You'll have a leg up with delivery technology that optimizes routes so your drivers can get to your customers quickly and safely. Vendors to consider: HungerRush (mentioned earlier) supports delivery management, both for third-parties and in-house, with order taking, kitchen production, and driver routing for peak efficiency. The pizza category has a dedicated solution for delivery management and point-of-sale with Thrive POS, while breweries have a pickup and delivery solution with 2nd Kitchen 2Go. GetSwift’s delivery management software starts at $0.29 per delivery.     Restaurant Websites Your restaurant website is your calling card. You want it to be representative of your brand and put yourself in the best light possible. Your website should be modern and easy-to-use across devices so that people can find relevant information easily. What to look for: Your restaurant website should be secure and SEO-optimized, with a user-friendly design that supports online ordering, easy menu updates, and loyalty marketing. You also may want reservations and an e-commerce module for gift card purchases. Vendors to consider: For restaurant websites, look past Wix and Squarespace and go for vendors like that specialize in the unique needs of restaurants, such as BentoBox, Upmenu, Let’s Eat, FlavorPlate, or GloriaFood. If you’re more tech-savvy you could choose your own WordPress template or a custom website from a creative agency, but this may be too costly and time-intensive for most restaurateurs.   Loyalty Marketing You also need tools to manage your guest relationships so that you can market to your most loyal guests without having to constantly pay third-parties, such as OpenTable, to put butts in seats. These tools can be loyalty marketing platforms based on building rich guest profiles or they can be specialized tools, such as text message platforms for engaging past guests on their phones. Many ordering platforms also integrate loyalty into their products. This makes a lot of sense, as all transaction data already comes through the multichannel ordering platform and/or your point-of-sale system. You then get a holistic view of your customers so you can segment and target campaigns to specific profiles. Many reservation and waitlist management platforms also include loyalty marketing, so look at that category above for more ideas! Vendors to consider: Boostly is an automated text marketing system that drives incremental visits without much input on your end. Thanx uses credit card numbers to streamline loyalty earning and redemption. Fivestars is loyalty for smaller operations that don’t want the hassle of a standalone app or loyalty program. Mobivity combines loyalty marketing via SMS and mobile with robust analytics. The guest experience platform from SEVENROOMS adds loyalty marketing to its reservations/table management system so you can market to individual guests. For larger chains and bigger budgets, Stuzo and Astute leverage Big Data and AI into 1:1 marketing and automated campaigns. PosIQ uses your POS data alongside its “guest tracking” technology to personalize marketing at scale.     Get to know your guests so you can personalize the experience and market more effectively. (SEVENROOMS pictured here)  

How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan - 2021 Step-by-Step Guide

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

So you're considering getting into restaurants? Godspeed. The restaurant industry can be tough but like any business it's got both ups and downs. But it's also one of the most rewarding, especially for those with a deep passion for food and the art of hospitality.  The first year of your new food restaurant will be the hardest of all - but this guide will help fortify your launch. In both boom times and downturns, a proper restaurant business plan is an important piece of a successful business and your roadmap to success whether you're launching a fast food concept or a fine dining restaurant. The business planning process will help you further define your concept and sharpen your approach so that you can stay focused during build out and maintain competitiveness after opening. New restaurant owners should be especially committed to this process so that they can learn as much as possible about the industry and their potential concept --  and be prepared for the road ahead. Yes, it takes a bit of work and time investment to write a compelling business plan. But that’s the whole point! Whether this is your first restaurant or your hundredth, a great business plan structures your concept to give it the greatest chance of success.  To put yourself in the best position to achieve your dream of owning a restaurant -- or building an empire -- here's everything you need to write a winning restaurant business plan.   A great restaurant business plan doesn't need all 10 components; however, if you omit one of these you should be able to explain to investors why you chose not to include that section. 1. Cover Page 2. Executive Summary 3. Restaurant Team 4. Concept Overview 5. Market Analysis 6. Operations Plan 7. Marketing Plan 8. Financial Plan 9. Investment & Capital 10. Business Plan FAQs   Why You Need A Restaurant Business Plan First and foremost, your restaurant business plan should answer the question: “Why does the world need this specific food-service concept -- and why now?” The planning process helps you refine the concept, clarify priorities and catalyze the opportunity within the context of the broader market. Beyond that primary objective, the business plan functions as a blueprint for building your vision. It's a framework for moving forward that keeps you on track and prevents you from drifting away from your vision. That drift can be significant: you’ll make hundreds (if not thousands!) of decisions during the build-out and pre-opening phases, each of which can contribute to gradual drift absent a clear and shared framework. Your restaurant business plan is not just a critical operational tool. It’s also a sales and marketing asset. The average restaurant startup cost varies by concept and geography, but ranges from $1,808 per seat for casual quick serve with smaller footprints to over $6,000 for high-touch fine dining and larger establishments. With that kind of money on the table, you need to do your homework, create a realistic and comprehensive business plan and show investors that you know what you’re doing. “You have to show any potential investor that you have an actual plan, you know what you’re talking about, it looks professional, and you’re not just screwing around.” Charles Bililies, owner of Souvla Above all, remember that the majority of restaurants fail within the first few years. It's an incredibly challenging business! Your plan should address this head-on and emphasize any unique competitive advantages that insulate your business and make it more resilient. Investors will be looking for these types of competitive moats that can make or break a restaurant!   What You Need To Include In Your Restaurant Business Plan Restaurants aren't the place to use the Lean Startup framework. There's no Minimum Viable Product. We're talking about a physical space that can't easily be adapted to serve new customers or do new things. You're quite literally limited by the dimensions of your space and the types of equipment you've installed in your kitchen and bar areas. That doesn't mean that you can't evolve your business over time; on the contrary, it's important to build that flexibility into your plan and how you design your space. You just need to be confident and what you're doing because it won't be easy (or cheap) to change directions if it doesn’t work out! And that confidence should come across throughout your business plan -- your confidence in your product gives investors confidence too. Every statement you make should be backed by data (including the reason for choosing your concept and target market) and all challenges should be called out. Alongside data and research, honesty and directness go a long way in a restaurant business plan.  Cover Page Make a great first impression by putting your logo front and center. Don't have a logo? Your plan may suffer because the logo gives potential investors their first impression of your concept and its marketability -- as well as a basic test of your professionalism and vision for the concept. You'll also want to add your contact information and any relevant social media handles that can  provide more background as potential investors do their due diligence.  Executive Summary The Executive Summary or company description introduces your concept and provides a brief overview of what’s to come. Resist the temptation to over explain or cram everything in. It should fit on a single page! The objective of the summary isn’t to give investors everything they need to make a decision; it’s to capture their attention so that they want to read more. We recommend the “6 Ws” framework that underpin the Lean Six Sigma management technique. Briefly answer the following questions, using bullet points to make it easy to digest: Who We Are: Introduce yourself and any partners, as well as any key hires already attached to the project and your chosen business structure.  What We Sell (And To Whom): The concept and the target customer segment When: The timeline for the plan, from build-out to pre-opening to opening. Where: If you already have the location selected, show this information. Otherwise, offer a brief explanation of target neighborhoods. Why: Your vision for this concept and highlight your hopes and dreams for the future. Is it expansion? Franchising? Sticking to a single location? Close out the executive summary with a high-level financial summary, including estimated pre-opening costs and gross revenues in the first three years.  Team This section is all about what makes your team the rockstars that are going to execute this vision! Using brief bios (with photos) of management, operating partners and key hires, you’ll carefully construct the narrative around why this is the right management team to not just bring this concept to life but to build it into a profitable business. Keep it brief but impactful by focusing on the most relevant experience for this specific concept. The Restaurant Concept This is arguably the most important section. It's your chance to showcase your vision,  expertise and unique approach. In it, you’ll share the inspiration behind the concept,  what types of food will be serving, the service style, and a sample menu. The objective of this section is to clearly explain what's unique about your restaurant and what makes you the one to bring this concept to life. Be sure to include the following: A mission statement. Mission statements certainly can come across as fluffy and high-level. If that’s the case with yours, you’re doing it wrong!  your mission statement should encapsulate what you hope to accomplish with your business, and give you a North Star to guide your decisions. A well-crafted mission statement can do wonders at keeping you focused --  especially amidst the avalanche of decisions to make during build out. Here's a list of restaurant mission statements to get the juices flowing. A sample menu. This menu is extremely important for three reasons: first, it's a tangible representation of the concept and what you plan to serve. Second, the menu informs the design of the kitchen and bar areas; without a menu, you can't select kitchen equipment and thus can’t accurately estimate the cost of the kitchen. Finally, it should show that you have adequately costed out your menu items (using what's known in the industry as menu engineering) to ensure the viability and profitability of the concept. Bonus points if you can show the estimated profitability per item within the sample menu! The draft Shake Shack menu, as scribbled on a napkin by Danny Meyer. The legendary restaurateur keeps the sketch framed in his office next to a sign “The bigger we get, the smaller we need to act.”   Concept design. At the very least, include an architect's rendering of the space.  Even if you don't have a specific location selected, this helps investors visualize the concept and its atmosphere. Take some time to explain the service style and how the guests will experience the space. It never hurts to get into the weeds here: the types of glassware, the lighting, the seating choices. Concept location: If you already have a location selected, explain the nuts and bolts of the build-out phase, especially any costly renovations such as adding a hood venting system. Add as much detail as possible about the specific location, including photos, blueprints, etc. Startup costs. A quick overview of what it will cost to open your first location. You'll provide a more detailed look at startup costs in the Financial Plan section.  You'll include things like restaurant software and technology in this costing. Finally, we recommend doing a SWOT analysis of your concept, which is an honest appraisal of its  strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Good investors are not easily swayed by smoke and mirrors, so use data/research to back it up! Answer the following questions in your SWOT to round out this section. Strengths: What makes your concept stand out? Weaknesses: Where could you potentially fall short? Opportunities: What makes this the right time, the right team  and the right location for this concept?  Threats: What is the competitive landscape that may hinder your success?   Market Analysis In this section, you'll make the case for why this concept is filling a hole in the market.   The key here is to do your research. Instinct and expertise only go so far at convincing investors that this is a sound investment. You need to drive home the opportunity using as much research and data as possible --  especially when it comes to high risk investments like restaurants. Industry Analysis. Start with a high-level overview of the current market trends when it comes to restaurants at the macro-level. Keep it brief; restaurants are inherently local so these wider trends aren’t as useful as the local market ones. Local Market Overview. Next, zoom into your local market to highlight the opportunity in the city and neighborhood that your restaurant will occupy. Do a thorough analysis of the area’s competition, as that heavily influences your success or failure. You need to be very clear about what differentiates your restaurant from others in the area so that consumers have a clear reason to patronize your restaurant over others. You’ll need a crystal clear differentiator in a cluster of similar restaurants. Images work well here, as do graphs and other relevant visuals. Guest Segmentation. Be specific about what types of people will frequent your restaurant. Use personas to show a deep understanding about who your target consumers are and why they would frequent this restaurant. You'll want to tie this segmentation into your earlier Market Overview. For example, if there are new developments in your restaurant's neighborhood that could contribute additional demand from a specific demographic, mention that. When it comes to research sources, you have a few options. The National Restaurant Association not only has nationwide data (such as the 2020 State of the Industry report available free to members) but also has local chapters that can assist with market-specific information. Your local Chamber of Commerce and/or Economic Development agency can provide local market statistics around regional growth and even neighborhood-specific data. Neighborhood associations are also useful sources of information -- not to mention eventual allies for your new restaurant.  Operations Plan Once you've established the concept, and how it fits into the local market, it’s time to detail your plan to build and operate the restaurant. Staffing. Your personnel plan should clearly lay out how many staff members you anticipate needing for daily operations. You’ll also want to include any other talent that will influence your success, such as  your attorney, accountant, bookkeeper, architect, designers, general contractor and/or marketing consultant. Briefly introduce them and highlight any relevant accomplishments or expertise. Training. How will you train your staff? Make a clear plan that outlines not just pre-opening training but also staff training for regular operations. Remember that turnover in restaurants is quite high, so you want to have a very complete Employee Handbook and Training Plan that aligns with your service standards. Suppliers & Vendors. To show preparation and organization, identify your chosen suppliers and vendors. The list should include (but isn’t limited to) the following: POS, payment processor, printers, kitchen/inventory management system, accounting, staff scheduling and labor management software, payroll processor, food safety, digital marketing agency, website builder, and delivery, if applicable. Crisis and Business Continuity. Recent events have reminded us all about the power of planning. Extra credit for those who include a section around planning around businesses continuity in crisis situations: staff illness, food poisoning, natural disasters, and unexpected economic headwinds could all potentially impact your business. Some may only attack your reputation while others threaten your very existence. Preparation is key. Marketing Plan A restaurant is only as good as its marketing. Ok, well, that’s not entirely true -- the food, service and ambiance matter too! After all, the most delicious food, the most exceptional service, and the most inviting ambiance mean nothing if no one walks through the doors. Marketing can also be a clear competitive advantage over competing restaurants. So, if that's the case with your restaurant -- and it absolutely must be if you are planning to open in an area with fierce competition -- make that case here. Elements of a successful marketing plan for a restaurant include: Website. Potential guests often use search engines to find restaurants. In fact, “restaurants near me” is  an extremely popular term. Your website is your calling card for those guests.  It also helps those who add a reservation or NovaSure restaurant to find your address. Your website should be easy to use and put the essential information up front: the address and the menu.  Organic Social Media. Restaurants are one of the easiest business types to market on social media -- the content is always rich, colorful and engaging! Foodies can be found all over social media and the platforms are naturally built for the images and videos that restaurants create. Demonstrate your grasp of the power of social media by showing how you intend to use this free marketing platform. Or mention your impressive digital marketing agency that will help you build your brand online by finding and nurturing a community of passionate followers. Paid (Digital) Marketing. Organic visibility is only one part of your marketing strategy.  You must supplement that work with strategic paid digital marketing that amplifies your message and gets your restaurant in front of people deciding where to eat.  Your digital marketing may include: Search ads, social media ads, and potentially Yelp/TripAdvisor. Certain types of restaurants also do well on radio and TV.  Loyalty. It's so much easier to keep a customer once you have them. What's your restaurant strategy for building a loyal customer base and not relying on paid advertising to get people to the doors? Outline strategies for getting online reviews (and improving your ratings), building a database of customer information for regular promotions (such as email newsletters) and  encouraging your best customers to show their experience with friends to build word of mouth.  Loyalty programs can help bring back happy guests in higher frequencies but if guests don't have a great experience at your establishment - a bad first impression can turn loyalty into an uphill battle. Public Relations. It's not realistic to just expect that your restaurant will capture the attention of journalists once it opens. You'll need a detailed PR strategy that puts your restaurant in front of relevant local food press and national food press. Another great way to build PR and give back is to engage with community events and charity galas.  best intimate events give you a chance to meet your customers face-to-face outside of the restaurant and so your commitment to the community.  Financial Plan Restaurants require a lot of upfront investment. From rent to insurance to permits, printers and POS terminals, there’s an endless list of expenses. Even if you’re acquiring an existing property, it's not a cheap business to start up. As you create your budget, refer to the Uniform System of Accounts for Restaurants, the gold standard restaurant accounting. Not only will it show you how to set up your own books but it may also give you an idea of common expenses you may be overlooking. Although these projections are created long before you open for business, they still matter greatly. A thoughtful approach, backed by explanations for the numbers, highlights your professionalism and expertise to investors. Start up costs. Include anything and everything required to get you to opening day: build-out costs, equipment cost, licenses and permits, architects fees, rent, insurance (business interruption, liquor liability, general liability) and labor (pre-opening management salaries and training new staff prior to opening). On top of the total startup costs, add at least a 10% buffer for contingencies, or unexpected cost overruns. And don’t forget working capital -- You should assume that you won’t fully break even until a year too, and have enough working capital to sustain your business as you work toward profitability. Profit and Loss (P&L). Combine your revenue forecasts with your costs to show your potential for profitability over the next 3-5 years. Include both your fixed costs (things that won't change often, such as rent and insurance) and variable costs (things that change such as labor and food costs). If you’re not comfortable with numbers, lean on your accountant for help. There are also vendors that offer business plan creation software that greatly simplifies the complexities of financial projections. The right software can make a world of difference. It will track your business progress over time to benchmark against projections --  and save you time from spreadsheet hell! Additional Analysis. In addition to the other analysis, include a break-even analysis and cash flow projections. These detail what it will take to get to break even (where your revenue covers your expenses) and show your expected cash flows (and that you’ll be sufficiently capitalized to make it through the early years of the restaurant).   Investment & Capital Required Close it out with a clear breakdown of the investment required to get this restaurant off the ground and support its operations until it can sustain itself through cash flow -- and ultimately profit. You have to be careful to avoid directly asking for an investment, as that could be seen as a solicitation for investment. Every country (and locale) has its own Rules regarding how and where companies can solicit investments. So be very careful to abide by those rules and avoid breaking the law in your jurisdiction. One way to go about doing this is to break down how you would use the potential capital. It can be as simple as the following: Total Capital: $400,000 Build Out Cost: $300,000 Contingency: $30,000 Initial Inventory: $20,000 Marketing: $10,000 Working Capital: $40,000   Restaurant Business Plan FAQs To close out this guide to writing a restaurant business plan, here are answers to common questions. We hope these help you as you start the long but valuable process of building out a plan for your new restaurant concept! Why do I need a restaurant business plan? The business plan process puts structure around your idea and makes it more marketable. Since restaurants are not simple or cheap to start up, it's likely that you will need investors. Structure and marketability will come into handy as you talk to potential investors (such as family, friends, and angels). if you're seeking financing from Banks, then you will be required to have a plan that goes into very clear detail on all aspects of your business, especially the financials. If you find yourself balking at the thought of building out an entire plan, at the very least you should do the One Page Business Plan. While we don't recommend these short plans for Investments as complex as restaurants, they may help you collect your thoughts What are some sources for researching my restaurant idea? Successful restaurants are rarely built on hope and instinct. Putting some third-party research into your plan will help you sell the idea. And talking to potential customers will help you show why your idea is filling a gap in the market. Here are a few resources: National Restaurant Association (U.S). The NRA has nationwide data (such as the 2020 State of the Industry) as well as has local chapters with market-specific information. If you're outside of the United States, look to your country’s own association for additional information. Local organizations. Many cities and communities have Chambers of Commerce and/or Economic Development agencies that exist to facilitate new business activity. Reach out to these entities to see how they may help you with research and other support.  Google Forms. It's never a bad idea to talk to potential customers. You can do this face-to-face or send out a survey with a free tool like Google Survey. Neighborhood associations. Restaurants are community businesses. Engaging the local neighborhood association will not only introduce your concept to potential customers, but it will also give you critical insights into your restaurant’s neighborhood. Where can I find restaurant business plan templates? There are several business planning software tools that allow you to both build your business plan from a template and model your financial projections.   Restaurant business plan samples can also help speed up your planning. There’s a major time savings to using software that includes financial modeling; without it, you're stuck with a spreadsheet that doesn't always adjust to any changes. It's just much easier and a better experience when you can easily change numbers and see the impact of various scenarios. A quick search for restaurant business plans give you options to evaluate. Why do restaurants fail? There is no way to sugarcoat it: owning and operating a restaurant is a difficult enterprise. There are easier ways to make money! More often than not, restaurants fail due to two things:  owner/operator burnout and undercapitalization. Since restaurants are such intense businesses, it can be exhausting over time. In addition, the razor-thin margins of most restaurants means that they need a healthy capital cushion to weather head winds. Other common failures include a poor location, bad food/service (and resulting reviews), unscrupulous owners (tax evasion) and poor cost management (out-of-control labor and food costs).  

What Can Hotels Learn From the Retail Industry?

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Even in the age of eCommerce the retail industry is thriving and innovating. Think about the last time you went shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store. Maybe you were wowed by the brand’s focus on sustainable hospitality or your interest was piqued by an ad for an in-store event. Maybe you even interacted with the brand on social media before or after you made your purchase. In the last few years, retail brands have faced fiercer competition as many consumers shift to online shopping, especially via marketplaces like Amazon which charge hefty commissions. Sound familiar? Perhaps your hotel is under pressure too - from short-term rental competitors, OTAs, and guest review sites. If your hotel wants to add some creativity to your marketing campaigns, reach new guests, and book more rooms, let’s look to the retail industry from some inspiration. Comparing the retail industry to the hotel industry might not seem like the most logical pair at first, but as we dig into the intricacies of these two customer-focused verticals, the overlap becomes more clear. In fact, the line between retail and hospitality is blurring as brands like Parachute Mattress, Restoration Hardware, and even Taco Bell are opening hotels of their own. So how does the retail industry find success in today’s ever-changing marketplace? Let’s dig into five best practices.   Focus on direct-to-consumer strategies Years ago, if you needed a new pair of jeans or a new washing machine, you would go to your reliable local department store. Department stores made sense back then, since smaller, specialized brands might not have had the marketing power to reach consumers directly. Fast forward to today, when the internet makes it possible for customers to follow brands on Instagram, retailers don’t necessarily need department stores - or any marketplace, for that matter - to sell their products. While some brands do rely on marketplaces like Amazon, others find success with no middleman whatsoever. If you’re a hotelier who’s trying to reduce your hotel’s dependence on OTAs and drive direct bookings, you can look to retail brands like Glossier as masters of the direct-to-consumer business. Glossier, a cosmetics company, only sells their products online, and, just recently, through a handful of their own boutiques. The company doesn’t distribute via Amazon, Sephora, or any department stores. Because selling directly to the consumer allows Glossier to have full control over the purchase experience, they can build a stronger relationship with their customers, and, as a result, Glossier built such a cult following that it opened its first brick-and-mortar storefront in 2018. In their stores and online, Glossier solicits feedback from customers and integrates that feedback into new products and improvements to current products. Their website is user-friendly, and loyal customers often receive freebies or access to special sales. Rather than trying to build a distribution network, Glossier invests in its direct relationship with customers and reaps the benefits of customer loyalty.   Add personality to your social media channels Those department stores of the past didn’t need to have a catchy personality because consumers had much less choice then. Today brands need to have a distinct brand persona in order to stand out in a crowded marketplace - especially online. One way for customers to get acquainted with brands is via social media, and some do a great job of conveying their personality online, like Casper, Warby Parker, and Charmin. These brands, which sell mattresses, eyeglasses, and toilet paper, prove that you don’t need to sell the most exciting product to cultivate a personality that consumers love. Casper is known for its playful social media posts that often include kids and pets snuggling on one of their mattresses.     Warby Parker is another brand that started online with no physical stores, but has since expanded to include brick-and-mortar shops around the country. Their social media personality is down-to-earth and lighthearted, and they often incorporate their employees in photos and videos. The brand recently posted a video showing employees reading funny misspellings of “Warby Parker” which come up in Google searches.       And Charmin, a longtime toilet paper company, has gained social media fans with its signature potty humor.     Emphasize sustainability Though it might seem counterintuitive for a retail company to encourage people to consume less, many brands understand that today’s consumer wants to support sustainable business practices. Consumers are shifting their preferences toward sustainable products, from food to cleaning products to clothing, and sales of products labeled as “sustainable” grew nearly 30% between 2013 and 2019. This trend is creating entirely new business models and encouraging retailers to use sustainable materials, especially in the clothing industry. While the environmental consequences of “fast fashion” make headlines, Rent the Runway is in the news for an entirely different reason - its sustainable business practices. This clothing rental service lets consumers rent high-end apparel that they wear and ship back to the company to be dry cleaned and shipped off to the next renter. Rent the Runway’s success highlights the opportunity for environmentally friendly fashion businesses, as the company reached a $1B valuation in late 2019. But retailers don’t need to create entirely new business models to be green. Allbirds, a New Zealand-based shoe company, uses a combination of merino wool, eucalyptus fibers, and recycled plastics in its footwear. This brand started from humble roots in 2014 and hit a $1.4B valuation in 2018. Hotels have been conscious about sustainability for years, but asking guests to reuse their towels for an extra day just doesn’t cut it anymore. Today’s guests expect bigger strides when it comes to reducing environmental impact. In addition to replacing tiny shampoo bottles with eco-friendly dispensers, hotels with retail outlets or sundry shops can use software like Infor POS to understand exactly what guests are buying so they can reduce waste and sell more efficiently.   Turn regular public space into creative event space Stores, like hotels, often have beautiful physical spaces that sit empty for portions of the day. Some creative retailers have found alternate uses for their storefronts by hosting events, fitness classes, or even lectures during or outside business hours. Lululemon, for example, regularly moves their racks of athletic clothing aside to hold in-store yoga classes. Besides being an innovative use of space, these special in-store events can also generate buzz about the brand or kick off the launch of a new product. Hotels are accustomed to selling meeting and banquet space, but properties that don’t have formal event space can still think outside the box and hold events in the lobby, in dining outlets, or even in guestrooms. And rather than selling the space to an outside organization, you can consider hosting free events that promote the hotel itself, such as a F&B tasting, spa open house, or career day that targets locals.   Form partnerships with complementary brands Holding in-store events isn’t the only way brands are bringing innovation to their marketing strategies. Many retailers are collaborating with other brands that reach similar audiences or sell complementary products in an effort to generate publicity and offer unique products. One type of partnership involves a popular, value-oriented brand that joins forces with a luxury brand. Target, for example, sells affordably priced capsule collections with designers like Zac Posen, Lilly Pulitzer, and Proenza Schouler. H&M, another affordable retailer, has launched collections with couture brands like Balmain and Versace, offering their take on designer items at significantly lower prices. These collections often sell out quickly, which generates demand and publicity for the brand. But collaborations aren’t limited to the fashion industry. Home Depot recently teamed up with Pinterest to promote lighting, paint, textiles, bathroom fixtures, home decor products, and more in its “Shop the Look” program. In this program, consumers who are looking for DIY project inspiration on Pinterest can quickly find and purchase the items they need for the project at Home Depot. Hotels can engage complementary brands in similar partnerships, just like how Westin partnered with New Balance to offer sneakers and exercise clothing in its hotels. The key is collaborating with brands that resonate with your guests. If your hotel is well suited for families, perhaps consider partnering with a local toy shop to provide a selection of toys in some co-branded guestrooms. Or, if your hotel gets a lot of business from foodies, maybe collaborate with a local bakery on a tasty welcome amenity. Though the retail industry and the hotel industry have their differences, many of the most important business goals are shared: build brand loyalty, drive direct purchases or bookings, and stand out among a sea of competitors. Since both industries face some kind of internet-fueled disruption, hotels can take best practices from retailers who have found success in today’s dynamic marketplace. By learning from these creative retail tactics, hotels can gain traction online and book more rooms.  

How to Prevent Malware Attacks and Promote Cybersecurity at Your Hotel

by
Hotel Tech Report
8 months ago

Do you have a spare $1.6 million lying around? That’s the average amount that security experts now estimate a business needs to recover from a cyberattack containing malware. Hotels are easy targets for hackers. Cybersecurity is not something many hotels feel confident in. "Last year, the two biggest global reports on data breaches, Trustwave’s Global Security Report and Verizon’s Data Breach Investigation Report, both show hospitality continuing to struggle in this area. Verizon, meanwhile, reports that accommodation, food and lodging made up for nearly 54% of their caseload,” says Bob Russo, GM of the PCI Security Standards Council.” Each time a hotel’s guest records get breached, the property is burdened with financial strain and faces broken trust with guests. As a hotelier, you don’t need to be an expert in cybersecurity, but you absolutely need to understand the basics to protect your business and your guests. Here are some ways to tackle cybersecurity at your hotel and minimize your risk as much as possible.    Why Hotels are Attractive Targets for Hackers Hotels are easy – and profitable – targets for hackers. Hotels make attractive targets for two reasons: first, cybersecurity at many properties is lax. “Only about 25% of all U.S. businesses, including hotel operators, are fully compliant with current data security best practices. That means that three out of four are not and are potential disasters waiting to happen,” says Russo. Secondly, hotels process lots of transactions and store tons of guest data. A hacker can simultaneously target a property’s point-of-sale and property management system to capture payment card information as well as personal data, like passport numbers and email addresses. Malware can move between POS and PMS systems at different properties under the same brand, affecting guests in locations around the world with no one the wiser. Likewise, there are many access points a hacker can target in a single property. “In February, it was reported that of the 21 most high-profile hotel company data breaches that have occurred since 2010, 20 of them were a result of malware affecting POS systems in a hotel restaurant, bar, and retail outlet,” says Mark Voortman, Ph.D., head of the information technology program at the Pittsburgh-based Rowland School of Business. A small, 100-room hotel with a 50-seat restaurant still processes hundreds of unique payments each day. Those unique payments are virtually defenseless; few hotels have the necessary security protocols, infrastructure, and training in place to make sure any interested parties are dissuaded from stealing guest information.    What is Malware? Key Cybersecurity Concepts Defined Understanding the key concepts of cybersecurity is half the battle. Here are some common terms you will encounter while improving security at your hotel:  Phishing: phishing occurs when scammers send you an email, text, or even call you to try to trick you into revealing personal information they can then use to access your bank details or credit cards. A phishing email might look like a message from your bank warning you that it will shut down your account unless you verify your personal information.  Encryption: Encryption is a security procedure that involves scrambling data so that only parties authorized to read it can understand the information. The process takes readable data and alters it so that it appears random. The party that receives encrypted information needs a key to unscramble data and turn it into readable plaintext.  VPN: VPN stands for “virtual private network.” A VPN will mask your IP address and keep your internet activity largely untraceable. It’s a great tool for making sure your internet connection is secure and private.  Malware: malware is shorthand for “malicious software.” Malware is designed to gain access to your computer; spyware, ransomware, viruses, and Trojan horses are all different types of malware.  Penetration test: penetration testing is a procedure where a cybersecurity expert tries to identify weak points in a computer system. The expert simulates a malware or hacking attack to find any vulnerabilities that bad actors could take advantage of.  APT (Advanced Persistent Threat): an APT is the worst kind of attack, in which a bad actor uses “continuous, clandestine, and sophisticated hacking techniques to gain access to a system and remain inside for a prolonged period of time, with potentially destructive consequences.” Antivirus: a program designed to detect and destroy computer viruses on an operating system Anti-malware: Similar to antivirus software but where antivirus focuses on older/known threats, anti-malware typically focuses on newer unknown threats.  Malware protection focuses on identifying unknown threats before they turn into full on mature viruses.  Malware removal is typically more difficult than antivirus since there are more unknowns. Rootkit: A rootkit is a clandestine computer program designed by cybercriminals to provide continued privileged access to a computer while actively hiding its presence. Keylogger: A keylogger, sometimes called a keystroke logger or system monitor, is a type of surveillance technology used to monitor and record each keystroke typed on a specific computer's keyboard. Keylogger software is also available for use on mobile devices, such as Apple's iPhone and Android devices.  Keyloggers are a legitimate software that can be used for good but are often used as a scam to steal sensitive information like credit card numbers and passwords. Botnet: a network of private infected computers containing malicious code and controlled as a group without the owners' knowledge, e.g., to send spam messages. Using a VPN and encryption, as well as performing regular penetration testing can keep your network secure against malware and APTs. You should also ensure that your hotel's IT team regularly checks on property computers for keystroke loggers and that your staff doesn't open strange email attachments.  These are the bare minimum security protocols you must practice regularly to avoid disasters like these high-profile hacks in the hotel industry.   High-Profile Malware Attacks in the Hotel Industry Research from Symantec, a cybersecurity firm, found that more than 65% of hotels are routinely leaking booking reference codes through third-party sites. Why is this important? Because the information shared through these codes would allow a bad actor to login to a reservation, view personal details, and even cancel a booking altogether. When this happens, your guest information is vulnerable and you risk destroying the guest relationship. Symantec’s research showed hotels of all sizes are at risk. Major hacks have occurred at HEI Hotels & Resort, Starwood/Marriott and more. Here are just a few high-profile events: HEI Hotels & Resorts  In 2016, a data breach impacted 20 US hotels operated by HEI Hotels & Resorts. The attack exposed the payment card data from tens of thousands of food and drink transactions. Malware was discovered on the hotels’ payment systems used to process card information at on-site restaurants, bars, spas, lobby shops, and other facilities. Experts determined that hackers likely stope customer names, account numbers, card expiration dates, and verification codes. Starwood/Marriott In January 2019, Starwood/Marriott discovered that a data breach had exposed the personal information of guests who had stayed at their properties since 2014. Guest data was stolen for around 500 million people – including encrypted passport numbers and credit or debit card numbers. The New York Times reported that hackers may have been working with China’s Ministry of State Treasury, as an attack of this scale is remarkable. Omni Hotels & Resorts Omni was also attacked in 2016 in a malware breach that affected 50,000 customers. Debit and credit card information from 49 of the chain's 60 locations was stolen: including credit and debit card numbers, cardholder names, security codes, and expiration dates.  Hyatt At 41 of Hyatt’s hotels, hackers gained unauthorized access to payment card information in the second attack since 2015. Of the second attack, one security expert noted, “It’s possible the steps taken by the Hyatt group back in December 2015 are still being deployed throughout the organization, especially if those systems are dispersed around the globe and not connected by a common network. When choosing your systems management toolset, you need to implement the solution which is secured using 2048bit certificates and two-factor authentication but also works regardless of where the endpoints are located.” Sabre  Sabre processes reservations for roughly 100,000 hotels and more than 70 airlines worldwide. The company was targeted in 2017 by bad actors who stole credentials for the Sabre Hospitality Solutions’ SynXis Central Reservations system. Those credentials provided access to customer data, including payment card information and reservation details – customers’ names, email addresses, phone numbers, and addresses. These high-profile attacks grab headlines, but there are hundreds of smaller attacks that happen at hotels each month. Even recently, a massive hack, like the one at Fontainbleu in Miami, has gone unnoticed by the mainstream media. Sources reported that Fontainbleu faced a ransomware attack to their credit card system, forcing the hotel to either compromise guest data by continuing to accept card payments or to ask guests to pay in cash. Guests waited up to five hours for rooms while the front desk tried to mitigate the situation – a scene one person described as “chaos.” “The line was out the door into the lobby,” one executive told Variety Magazine. For a five-star hotel such as the Fontainebleau, an incident like this is absolutely brand destroying.   How to Protect Your Hotel Malware Attacks & Cyber Threats What’s the best way to make sure your data stays safe and no guests are left stranded? First and foremost, take extra care in selecting a point-of-sale system and credit card processor. “Agreements with those entities should be vetted and, if possible, modified to add protection and minimum data handling standards for the outside vendor. Compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) not only helps to ensure that data security software, hardware, and practices are safer, but also helps to protect against fines and penalties when a breach occurs,” writes one expert. An enterprise-grade provider, like Oracle Hospitality, can secure the vulnerable link between your PMS and POS. Oracle OPERA is a cloud-based property management system that integrates with the Micros point-of-sale system, as well as a suite of other applications. Oracle offers sophisticated security protocols, such as Cloud Security Monitoring Analytics for monitoring the platform both on-site and in the cloud. Oracle tools also include:  Cloud Compliance Control (OMC CC) for checking the configurations against company requirements or external regulations;  Cloud Access Security Broker (Oracle CASB) to discover shadow IT in the cloud and monitor corporate requirements regarding the use and configuration of Oracle and 3rd party cloud services such as AWS, Salesforce, Azure, Box etc.;  Identity Cloud Service (Oracle IDCS) for providing a user management and authentication system for on-premises or cloud services. These security protocols monitor what’s going on in your internal network as well as any external attacks. Working with Oracle gives you multilayer security, data protection, secure transactions, and compliance with payment and data privacy standards. But, as evidenced in the Sabre attack, sometimes even these measures aren’t enough. With the right credentials, anyone can get past your security system. The right technology is only half the equation; over the years, security experts have also identified employees as part of the problem. Hotels must train their staff to handle personal information security, comply with privacy policies, and change user access credentials regularly. This industry has high turnover, which is part of the reason why employees don’t always maintain security standards. Your property should regularly host info-sec seminars to make sure all new employees are trained and veterans stay up-to-date with the latest threats. Even with a great PMS/POS system and the right training, it’s important to perform routine penetration testing and risk assessments. There’s no straightforward answer as to how often you should pen test your network, but experts warn once a year probably isn’t frequently enough. Beyond training your staff, keeping your security software up to date, and investing in a platform like Oracle OPERA that's invested in cyber security, you can encourage your guests to use a VPN and to log out of their WiFi when not using it.