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RoomOrders: A Simple but Powerful Digital Menu and Ordering System

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

As we transition to a post-COVID world, hospitality businesses of all types are modifying their operations for one big trend: contactless interactions. For food and beverage outlets, software that supports digital menus and online ordering makes contactless interaction easy and intuitive. In fact, this type of software can even increase your average check value and streamline your ordering and delivery processes. If you’ve never used such software before, choosing a mobile ordering platform might be overwhelming. That’s why, in this article, we’ll introduce you to the features of RoomOrders so you can decide whether it would be a good fit for your hotel, restaurant, bar, or other F&B business.   How Does RoomOrders Work? Let’s first take a look at RoomOrders from the customer’s perspective. How would a customer use it at your restaurant, and what does it look like?   Guests Scan a QR Code to Access a Digital Menu on Their Device RoomOrder is a web-based app, so customers or guests don’t need to download an actual app to access your digital menu or place an order. Instead, a customer can click a link in an email or on a webpage, or they can scan a QR code to quickly open the digital menu on their smartphone. Burton Ockerman, the Director of Restaurants at the Desmond by Doubletree in Malvern, says the QR code feature is one of RoomOrders’ best features and is very user-friendly. Once a customer has opened the digital menu, they’ll see your restaurant or hotel’s name, logo, and cover image of your choice. Menu sections are clearly defined, such as Food and Drinks. For establishments with international clientele, the RoomOrders platform supports translation into most of the world’s widely spoken languages.     Similar to what consumers see in popular apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash, RoomOrders shows guests the average delivery time to set expectations.  Hungry guests are more likely to order when they see short delivery times. The digital menu is fully customizable - from headings to badges to photos - which we’ll discuss later in the article. By default, the layout includes space for large photos, which helps to encourage customers to place orders, assuming your photography makes your menu items look extra delicious!   Mobile Ordering Makes Room Service as Easy as Hailing an Uber When a customer is ready to order, they can select a delivery time of either “now” (as soon as possible) or a date and time in the future.     To order an item, the customer simply clicks on the item they want, and a box will pop up with some additional options, which the restaurateur can configure. For example, if the customer orders a steak, they might see options like “rare,” “medium rare,” “medium,” and “well done,” so they can be confident their steak will be cooked to their liking.     After specifying the quantity and adding any special instructions, the customer will click “add to cart.” The bell icon on the top right corner takes customers to their cart, where they will enter their location (either an area of your hotel/restaurant, like the pool or lobby, or a room number), then click “complete order.”   Hoteliers can send RoomOrders a list of all room numbers so the system can validate whether the room number is valid or not. For example, if your hotel has just 8 rooms on each floor, a guest who enters room number “817” will be prompted to correct the room number before the system will let them place an order. But rooms are not the only delivery location a hotel can specify. With RoomOrders’ new beach and pool area concept, guests are able to order anywhere on the premises of the hotel, such as a table at the onsite restaurant, a deckchair or cabana on the beach or at the rooftop pool bar. Simply add location to room number, such as deckchair 12, table 6, section B, thus providing seamless ordering opportunities to the guest, wherever they are. RoomOrders can integrate with point-of-sale systems for payment, but if you don’t have a POS or choose not to integrate, customers can charge the order to their hotel room (which most RoomOrders clients opt for) or pay with cash or credit card (via Stripe, which works with Apple Pay and Google Pay).   What Functionality Can Hoteliers Expect in the RoomOrders Dashboard? The back end of the platform is where you’ll manage operations, configure your menu and settings, and analyze performance. The manager version of RoomOrder is available on your web browser, or you can download a smartphone or tablet app.   Easy to Use Order Management with No Training Required Once a customer places an order, restaurant staff will see it pop up on their Orders dashboard. New orders placed for immediate fulfillment show in “New” status, while orders scheduled for a future date will appear in the “scheduled” section. Staff must click “accept” to confirm new orders. When the order has been delivered to the customer, staff click “complete order” to move it to “Delivered” status. If necessary, staff can cancel orders from this dashboard. The dashboard shows all relevant information about the order, including the items ordered, the guest’s location, and timestamps that show when the order was placed and accepted.     Update Your Menu in Seconds - No Need to Call Tech Support Operators can customize their cover photo, profile photo, and all text content visible on their digital menu. The menu builder is packed with options, so you can create a menu that accurately communicates your brand, menu items, and photography.     You can structure the menu however you want, with flexible headings and sub-sections. A useful feature of RoomOrders is adding time frames to menu sections, which lets you control the availability of menu items that might not be available all day. For example, your breakfast menu can be available between 7am and 10am only. Menus will be visible during their off-hours, but customers cannot place orders for items that are unavailable based on the time frame. Anastasiia Horashchenko of Hilton’s Kyiv property told Hotel Tech Report, “RoomOrders has a very simple backend, which is a great feature for the current ever changing environment. We are able to be more flexible in adjusting to our guests' needs. The frontend that our guests see gives an opportunity to showcase all of our dishes and attract guests with the look of dishes they are about to order.”     It’s also possible to add special badging (the orange tags in the screenshot below) to help some menu items stand out. Badges could include “Chef’s recommendation,” “Vegan,” or “Gluten Free” text, and more.   In addition to menu titles and text, you can configure add-ons and options for each menu item. RoomOrders offers three choices for these add-ons: extras (like adding chicken or salmon to a salad for an extra charge), selection (a choice between wheat and white bread), or ingredients (if a customer wants to request no onions, for example).     Drive More Incremental Revenue By Programming Relevant Upsells Both Ockerman and Anastasiia Horashchenko, Assistant F&B Manager at Hilton Kyiv, say that the cross-sell capability is one of RoomOrders’ most powerful features. This feature allows you to suggest complementary menu items to customers who order certain dishes. For example, if a customer wants to order a pasta dish, you could suggest a glass of red wine or an order of tiramisu. Cross-selling is proven to increase average check value since many customers find the suggestions too good to pass up.     When building the cross-sell options in the RoomOrders dashboard, you choose between using your top selling items as the cross-sell items, or you can customize cross-sell items for specific dishes, like our pasta example above.   Optimize Menu Offerings with Real-Time Reporting How do you know if your average order value is growing if you can’t measure it? RoomOrders offers a slick dashboard that gives operators insight into a few key metrics: total sales, number of accepted orders, average order value, on-time percentage, and completion percentage - all of which can be seen for specific dates. The dashboard also shows a list of your most frequently ordered items, but there’s not much more information about them, like the most popular times of day for orders of certain items. “RoomOrders has been such an easy to use platform for our business especially now, during these unprecedented times. The flexibility of the software has allowed us to make changes and updates to our menu seamlessly”, says Mark Grzelak, Manager of the Fin Point Oyster Bar & Grille at the Hilton Boston Downtown/Faneuil Hall.     RoomOrders lets you choose settings that make the most sense for your restaurant or bar. You can turn the gratuity field on or off, choose the default language, and configure tax categories, for example. Other settings include a post-order review request, which sends a survey to customers to request feedback, which is not shared anywhere publicly. You can also build a prompt that asks customers to share their experiences on Facebook.   RoomOrders is a Great Option for Hotels and Restaurants Looking to Go Beyond QR Code Linked PDF Menus The greatest consumer hospitality brands like Starbucks and Dominos understand the power of mobile ordering as we’ve previously covered - finally hotels are catching up.  Mobile ordering is proven to increase average order values and drive better guest experiences by delivering the level of convenience we all have at home while staying in a hotel. RoomOrders packs a lot of value into a light, user-friendly interface. The contactless interface has tangible benefits for a F&B business of any size. As Jeffrey Speelman, the Director of Operations at the Hilton Kyiv, mentions, the digital menu functionality allows his team to save time and money by not needing to print new paper menus every time they make a change to a dish or a price. Both Speelman and Horashchenko say that RoomOrders has a fantastic support team who help in every step of the onboarding process, so even less tech-savvy operators can feel confident using this new kind of software. Hilton’s Jeff Speelman told Hotel Tech Report, “the Room Orders application has options to push upselling when selecting an item which drives up the average check, as well as highlighting and showing attractive photos of dishes. Besides the fact that the volume of room service orders has significantly increased due to Covid and a price increase of approx 5% was implemented we see a significant increase in our average check.  When comparing our Average check YTD vs previous year we see an increase of 17.9%.” Mobile ordering software is a must-have technology in 2021 for hotels looking to stay ahead of the digital transformation curve and RoomOrders is a great choice for hotels and restaurants that want to deliver a user-friendly, customizable option for guests with a lot of functionality.   This content was created collaboratively by RoomOrders and Hotel Tech Report.

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

by
Matthew Lynch
3 weeks ago

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

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15 Best Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants in 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Online ordering for restaurants will continue to be a major revenue stream in 2021. In part, off-site online ordering can help you grow revenue by tapping new customers and on-site online ordering can help you grow revenue by maximizing revenue from on-premise guests.  Statistics show that Gen Z and Millennials will continue to favor online ordering long after the pandemic is over. If you’re new to online ordering, the number of platforms available to you can be overwhelming. You are likely familiar with food delivery partners UberEats or GrubHub, but there are also ordering systems that allow customers to order directly from a restaurant. In fact, those direct online food ordering tools are a win-win for both you and your customers: you get to keep the full amount from each sale, while most consumers say their preference is to order directly from a restaurant. This guide breaks down the 15 top systems for implementing online ordering at your restaurant. We break down our list into two groups: (1) on-site: these are mobile ordering solutions that can be used to order food and beverage while at a restaurant and (2) off-site: these are solutions that help restaurants take online orders from off-site patrons. From POS-specific tools to user-friendly apps, here are the platforms that can deliver the best ROI from your restaurant’s online delivery, curbside pickup, and takeaway orders in 2021.   What to Look for in a Restaurant Online Ordering System There are really three ways to implement an online ordering system at your restaurant. The first is through your restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS) system. A POS with online ordering added on will do the work of taking orders, routing them to the kitchen, and alerting the front-of-house staff when a customer or delivery person is picking up the order. Look for a POS that makes it easy to set up an ordering page through an e-commerce integration like Shopify. A second option is to see if your POS integrates with a third-party ordering app. Some POS systems won’t have native online ordering software built into the interface, but they can sync with an app for an additional cost. Upserve, Toast, and Square for Restaurants are all examples of restaurant POS systems that can accept online orders. The advantage of using this option is that there is relatively little you need to do to get set up and start accepting orders; you’ll also be able to store customer order information in one unified record, combining transaction details from in-restaurant dining with online ordering records. The last option is to use a marketplace delivery app like UberEats or Door Dash. These apps are specifically created for the restaurant industry, and can therefore be very intuitive to implement and start using. However, watch out for high fees and compatibility issues –– third-party apps can take between 10% - 30% of each sale they deliver. When evaluating which of these options is right for your restaurant, consider these variables:  Cost: third-party ordering apps and marketplace delivery apps sometimes charge a yearly subscription or take a percentage of each sale.  Visibility: third-party apps may cost more, but they offer a way to reach customers who may not know about your restaurant.  Ease-of-use: make sure whatever platform you use is intuitive for your staff and doesn’t lead to a traffic jam in the back-of-house.  Compatibility: does the solution you’re considering integrate with your existing system? Customer loyalty: a marketplace app may give you visibility, but it comes with the disadvantage of not giving you much customer information that can be used in marketing to increase loyalty.  Customer experience: how easy is it for a guest to browse your menu, make a selection, request modifications, and pay? An online ordering system may seem like a big investment, but it’s one that will continue to bring in revenue well beyond the pandemic. By some estimates, restaurant delivery sales could rise an annual average of more than 20% to $365 billion worldwide by 2030. With these factors in mind, here are the ten best online ordering systems for restaurants in 2021.   Best Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants in 2021 (On-Site) Here are our picks for the best POS apps and integrations for hotel restaurants in 2021. These platforms help restaurants facilitate online orders at physical locations - think bars, restaurants, hotel room service, poolside, etc.  As you explore these solutions you may also want to review our in-depth guide to mobile ordering software.   Bbot Smart Ordering Bbot’s online ordering system works for just about any type of food business - take-out, delivery, in-venue dining, catering, and more. The system is fully web-based, and operators can upload, edit, and add branding to their digital menus from the dashboard. Customers can order in-venue or off-premise with a few taps on their smartphones, and payment is processed securely without the need for physical credit cards or paper receipts. Bbot supports NFC payments, ApplePay, GooglePay, and QR codes. The app charges a monthly subscription fee, but businesses can sign up for a free trial before committing.   RoomOrders Designed for hotels and resorts, RoomOrders offers a cloud-based ordering and payment platform that works not only for F&B outlets, but also for pools, golf courses, gift shops, and other vendors. Operators can configure their menus or catalogs on the RoomOrders dashboard for easy viewing and ordering from anywhere - on- or off-premise. Customers or guests on-site can access the menu by scanning a QR code or tapping their smartphones on an NFC tag. RoomOrders charges a $50 monthly fee per venue plus a 1-5% fee per transaction, though transaction fees at additional venues within the same property are a flat 1%.   ServeSafely (by Crave) This online ordering and payment system is suitable for all kinds of F&B venues, from restaurants and bars to concert venues and nightclubs. ServeSafely optimizes revenue and profitability with upsell features, customizable menus, and tools to boost sales of higher-margin menu items. In addition, ServeSafely complies with GDPR marketing permissions so operators can use customer contact information to generate repeat sales and loyalty. Guests can access menus by scanning QR codes, and payment is completely contactless with ApplePay or Google Pay. As a bonus, users say that Crave’s customer support team is helpful and responsive. ServeSafely charges an implementation fee plus a monthly service fee.   SABA F&B Ordering SABA’s web-based ordering app allows guests to browse digital menus and place orders from anywhere. Operators can create menus that are easily editable, contain upsell offers, and support multiple languages. Guests can access the app by scanning a QR code or clicking a link on the property’s website or social media pages, and operators have the option to embed the app on in-room tablets or existing hotel apps. Besides F&B, hoteliers can also configure the app to place minibar orders and housekeeping requests. SABA charges a monthly fee, and a 30-day free trial is available to try before you buy.   Flexkeeping Though it was originally created as a housekeeping system and staff communication platform, Flexkeeping’s software can flex to a variety of needs and situations. The app’s room service module lets hoteliers digitize their in-room dining operations, from ordering to analytics. Hoteliers can create digital menus, configure instant notifications for staff, and see real-time order status. Flexkeeping also gives operators insight into their most popular dishes, order times, and total order volume, and it has integrations with popular property management systems such as Mews. From a guest’s perspective, the ordering process is quick and easy. Flexkeeping offers a 30-day free trial; after the trial, the software comes with a monthly subscription fee.    Best Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants in 2021 (Food Delivery, Off-Site) Clover Online Ordering Clover Online Ordering enables your restaurant to start taking online orders through two options: a Clover-powered web page created for you or the Clover app, or through The The.Ordering.app. Clover does the heavy lifting to get you set up with an online menu, increasing your visibility to customers, firing orders to the kitchen, and sending alerts when an order is ready for pickup. A key benefit to Clover Online Ordering is that it also keeps track of customer information: add reward, promo, and customer feedback programs to reward your loyal fans. The drawback to Clover Online Ordering is that you do need a Clover POS device (Station, Station Pro, Mini, and Flex) connected to a printer. It may not be the best solution if you’re not already using this technology. There are no fees associated with Clover’s ordering services, and Clover is waiving The Ordering.app fee of 1.5% per order is until January 1, 2021.   Chownow Online Ordering Chownow is commission-free, making it a good bet for restaurants looking to maximize revenue for each sale. Chownow is a third-party ordering app that integrates with your POS system and offers many options for capturing online orders. Get a branded mobile app for your restaurant, or give customers the ability to order straight from your website (rather than through a third-party like GrubHub). Integrations with Yelp, Instagram, and Google serve to increase your restaurant’s visibility and boost orders quickly. Chownow charges a flat subscription fee of $99 - $150 per month, depending on which features you use. That can be expensive, but note that Chownow also offers configurations for in-restaurant and curbside pickup, expanding your restaurant’s ability to serve customers with ease.   Toast POS Toast is similar to Clover, in that online ordering is only available through the Toast POS system. That said, Toast is built for restaurants and comes with tons of features to help you save – boosting both revenue and profit margins in the process. The company reports that restaurants save an average of $36,000 per year with Toast Online Ordering. This is due to a wide selection of built-in features, including a loyalty program, the ability to create and accept gift cards, and inventory management for your restaurant – in addition to online ordering. Toast offers a free calculator to help you estimate how much your restaurant could be saving by switching to their online ordering system. Like Chownow, Toast is subscription-based and does not charge a commission per sale. However, you do need to factor in the costs of switching to their POS hardware in addition to software fees.   FreshBytes FreshBytes is designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses – and it offers the same powerful features from which large chain restaurants benefit. “Applauded as one of the simplest and fastest emerging online ordering platforms in the times of COVID-19, FreshBytes offers branded, mobile-friendly, and commission-free services with fully integrated online ordering features — premium website designs, social media ordering, one-touch reordering, print kitchen tickets, consultative onboarding, 24/7 customer support, and smart messaging,” writes one reviewer. FreshBytes also stands out for its focus on the customer experience. Features like menu item photos and one-touch reordering make it extremely user-friendly. It also allows for catering orders, a great feature for hotel restaurants. Pricing starts at $89 per month.   GloriaFood If you’re looking for a holdover solution to offer online ordering only until the pandemic is over, GloriaFood might be the right solution for your restaurant. If you already have a website, and just need an integration to accept orders try GloriaFood. It provides a "See MENU & Order" or "Table reservation" widget to your website to make the online ordering process fast & easy. The best part: the basic system is completely free. Accept unlimited orders for pickup or delivery without paying any commission – nor are there setup fees or hidden costs. You may need to pay for “upgrades” – essential features like accepting credit cards – but overall, this is a low-cost solution that can tide your restaurant over until in-restaurant dining returns.   MenuDrive MenuDrive offers all the basic features of online ordering with a focus on marketing. “MenuDrive is a great option for restaurants that want to create a branded ordering experience on their website. Users are able to customize their POS and online ordering system by sending their menu, product photos, and other branding materials to MenuDrive, who then puts it all together,” says one reviewer.   It not only offers a way to customize your online branding, but automated email campaigns and integrated marketing services help your restaurant build a dedicated customer base. The downside is that MenuDrive can be a little more expensive: the basic plan starts at $99 per month per location along with a $99 one-time setup fee. They also a 3.5% credit card processing fee + 15¢ per transaction.    Upserve Upserve is a nice option if your restaurant is a cafe or coffee kiosk: its restaurant management system has options for bars, wineries, coffee shops and bakeries. Upserve integrates with other online ordering marketplaces, like Postmates, DoorDash, Caviar, and UberEats, giving you the best of both worlds – a fully-branded ordering experience, and the visibility of a third-party delivery partner. This ordering system also gives you analytics so you can track your restaurant’s performance and made adjustments for higher guest satisfaction scores.  Upserve also offers a POS system and plenty of other restaurant management tools. Plans start at $59 per month with $60 per additional terminal.    Square for Restaurants  Like Clover, Square for Restaurants’ online ordering tool requires the use of the Square Terminal and Kitchen Display System (KDS). If you already have those tools, online ordering by Square is streamlined and efficient. No matter through which channel an order comes – Postmates, UberEats, or Chowly – the kitchen receives the order in one easy interface. There are a few options for how you choose to configure the order flow, too. Online ordering is part of Square for Restaurants, which is offered in three pricing tiers. If you already have Square for Restaurants, it’s easy to simply enable delivery services through your dashboard.   The Ordering.App It was only a matter of time before Google started to get involved in restaurant online ordering. The Ordering.App is Google’s online ordering tool. A key benefit of the Ordering.app is that it allows customers to order right from your website, Google Search, Google Maps and more. This gives your restaurant great visibility and reach, and decreases the number of steps a customer has to complete to send an order to your restaurant. It integrates with both Square and Clover, and also comes as an app that you can download straight to your tablet or mobile device. The Ordering.App is affordable: no setup fees or subscription costs, and right now through March 30, 2021 The Ordering.app is waiving its 1.5% per order fee to help support restaurants during the pandemic.   Restolabs Restolabs is another popular option that offers easy setup and 0% commission. A nice feature is Facebook ordering, in which customers browse your menu and use the Restolabs widget to order straight through your social media page. Pricing starts at $45 per month.    For more on restaurant ordering systems, download our free Guide to Mobile Ordering and Room Service Software for 2021.  

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Using Contactless Channels To Enter a New Era of Running a Hotel

by
Sandra Holland
2 months ago

Since the advent of the pandemic, and well before it, contactless channels have garnered tremendous attention as a safe, efficient and effective way for hotels to communicate with their guests. In fact, today around 70% of hotels are already planning to adopt contactless technology for check-in, food ordering, concierge services and more. With its immense potential for the future of hotel operations and its rapid growth in guest preference, it’s no wonder why hoteliers are fast to adopt it. In this article, we’re exploring contactless communication and how it has become a necessary consideration when entering a new era of hospitality.   The State of Hotel Communication Today Over the past 10 years, how hotels interact with their guests has changed greatly. The rise of COVID-19 not only pivoted many communication strategies, but accelerated the pace in which we adopt new digital forms of contact such as apps, social media platforms, and more. As a matter of fact, in a recent survey, consumers highlighted the desire for contactless payments (35%), digital room keys (26%) and digital messaging services (20%) as the top three changes that would make them feel more comfortable staying in a hotel. With the demand for new efficient communication channels progressing, the need for hoteliers to invest and evolve their digital programs becomes critical.   Contactless Channels on The Rise  Within hospitality, apps are undoubtedly one of the most influential contactless channels to adopt. In a Hotel Management 2020 report, 62 percent of respondents said they would prefer to use contactless check in (and out) through a hotel app. In addition 80 percent of respondents said they would download a hotel app that would allow them to check in, check out and get all information about the hotel. With an app, consumers can easily navigate the hotel experience (without face to face contact), whether it be by communicating directly with a staff member or mobile ordering something on-demand. Social media channels also hold a promising role in communication. According to “Statista, in the second quarter of 2018 the total number of social media users was 3.297 billion people worldwide, which corresponds to a penetration rate of 43% in a total market of 4.087 billion internet users.” Social channels have tremendous reach and cater to a wide variety of individuals. Using these channels, you can personalize the experience by getting a glimpse of guest social profiles, leverage automation features and send feedback surveys to better understand your guests. What’s more, social media isn’t segmented by geography, so hotels with greater international guests can utilize these channels to engage worldwide. Lastly, email and SMS will continue to rise in adoption. As two traditional channels that are already leveraged by a wide array of hotels for booking confirmations, itineraries, and post-stay follow ups it’s important to leverage both of these channels, in conjunction with more engaging channels, when communicating with guests.   How Contactless Can Benefit Your Hotel Streamline booking and ordering.  For hotels, contactless channels not only enhance the guest experience but also streamline hotel operations. According to Travel & Tourism Analyst, Ralph Hollister, it’s reported “in 2021, hotels will increase their adoption of technology that will reduce the number of touchpoints. Abilities such as online check-ins and check-outs, mobile keys and room settings controlled by Internet of Things (IoT) technology will become much more commonplace.” In this, administrative tasks such as booking and ordering will become much more streamlined. As an example, if a hotel has an app, dine-in ordering can be done through on-demand navigation. Customers can simply browse the dinner menu, click on their desired order and pay all from their personal device. From an operation standpoint, the whole process is automated, the order goes directly to the kitchen and management has direct access to the data from guest orders. Greater Customer Retention.  As proven through the aforementioned statistics, contactless communication is a growing guest preference that can make or break the experience. By adopting contactless communication, you show your guests that you listen to their opinions and implement their preferences - which can come with a number of benefits. Aside from staying safe, by adopting guest desires, you increase the likelihood of greater satisfaction, improve upsell, encourage greater conversation, and of course, improve retention rates. What’s more, adapting to common preferences ensures you meet new customer demands as well. Insight for improved experiences. Using contactless channels, hotels can obtain insight that can’t be captured with face to face conversations. This can help tailor individual discussions, but also the experience as a whole. By referring back to conversations with guests, you can obtain insights such as: preferred communication channels, trending topics of conversation, busiest times of day, top performing employees, average response time, best performing touchpoints and so on. By utilizing this insight you can adjust experiences in real-time and allocate time and resources to specific areas of your business to ensure a satisfied stay.   Technology Paving the Way  It goes without saying that utilizing contactless channels within your hotel has tremendous benefits for both your guests and your hotel operations. However, managing these channels and gathering data in an effective and efficient manner can be complex, especially without the right technology. For many, utilizing a channel management system, or an automated experience platform can be the turning point for a successful contactless communication strategy. In fact, according to International Hospitality Review’s latest research, “a touchless, adaptable and customizable automation platform featuring all front-office operations and answering particular business requirements could be a solution that the industry needs post-Covid-19.” Having the right technology in place can be a game changer for hotels, whether for managing communication or gathering data. That said, regardless if an added technology is in the cards for your hotel, contactless communication should be a strong consideration. Adding convenience for customers and relieving employees of added work, it’s a massive tool and for entering a new era as a hotelier.   

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18 Must-Have Features of a Hotel Management System

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

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

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The Ultimate Guide to Hotel Stocks in 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

The tourism industry is slowly coming off its worst year in history. Last year saw the lowest occupancies in the history of the industry.  Business travel was completely shuttered, and leisure struggled in most markets as planes were grounded.  Often in the darkest of hours, the best stocks and investing opportunities present themselves. Now, travel outlooks remain cautious but optimistic. Hotels are reopening and accepting bookings and the share prices of publicly traded hotel stocks as well as hotel REITS, or Real Estate Investment Trusts, are shifting back to post-Pandemic levels. The uptick in these share prices is inline with Wall Street’s overall performance lately. With the vaccine rollout combined with Congress’ $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package have boosted investors’ confidence. They were also encouraged by the Labor Department’s jobs report for February showing that employers added hundreds of thousands more jobs than expected. In turn, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both showed gains, an indicator that the market could be headed towards an upswing.  So whether you’re new to investing or already have experience in other investment sectors, now is the time to consider putting your money in the hotel sector. It’s an opportunity to put the adage “buy low, sell high” to the test. Once travel and tourism return to pre-pandemic levels, so will these stock prices. If you follow the traders on Reddit’s Wall Street Bets (WSB), you’ll know that the “tendies” or financial gain on the stock market, are lower when you buy stocks at their peak. Like this group of non-traditional Reddit investors and cryptocurrency speculators, accessing the metrics on hotel stocks should also reflect the new normal that we’re living in. Gauging a stock’s one-year, three-year or five-year performance today won’t present an accurate picture of its future potential as the drastic dip that all stocks experience in 2020 will dramatically skew that outlook.   Hotel Chain & Casino Stocks There are also a variety of hotel investments to consider, which translates to a number of diverse money-making opportunities. There are, of course, the major hotel brands like Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. as well as casino resorts like Wynn Resorts Limited and Caesars Entertainment, with which you’re probably already familiar. These are C-corporations that are primarily built on the business of hotel management, marketing and branding and often, franchise licensing. They pay corporate taxes on dividends. This popular mid- to large-cap stocks are popular investments because their brand names are well established globally and investors have likely stayed in the hotels. That first-hand experience of the products also tends to result in positive sentiment among investors, which helps to keep stock prices at reasonable levels and make them relatively safe bets. Prior to the pandemic, the most noticeable trend happening among these hotel companies was the introduction of new brands. The intent behind this move was to create more opportunities to expand franchise and management contracts in markets that were already saturated by other brands under the companies’ umbrella. However, the pandemic has stalled this growth strategy. Similarly, pipeline development also slowed and in some instances reversed course as hotel owners and investors pulled back once the pandemic hit and existing hotels began closing. Consequently, stock prices may remain somewhat stagnant until expansion plans are underway again.   Marriott International Inc. is arguably one of the most popular, if not the most well known, of hotel stocks. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, the company has a portfolio of more than 7,600 properties under 30 brands in 133 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts globally. The stock trades as MAR on NASDAQ. In 2020, Marriott International generated over $10.5 billion in revenue and saw annual EPS decline to $0.31 from $1.16 in the 2019 fiscal year (FY). From 2009 to 2019, Marriott stock has returned 10% higher compared to NASDAQ composite and 44% higher compared to Dow Jones Large Cap. According to CNN Business, 18 analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Marriott International Inc. have a median target of 135.00 with a high estimate of 175.00 and a low estimate of 119.00.  Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., (NYSE: HLT) operates and franchises 6,400 hotel properties under 18 brands in 119 countries in addition to licensing vacation ownership resorts. The company’s revenue for 2020 total $4.31 billion and annual EPS dropped from $3.04 in FY 2019 to $-2.56 for FY 2020. During the decade between 2009 and 2019, Hilton’s stock returned 126% higher compared to NYSE composite. As per CNN Business, the consensus among 18 analysts for 12-month price forecasts is a median target of 123.50, a high estimate of 140.00 and a low estimate of 100. Hyatt Hotels Corp. (NYSE: H) Headquartered in Chicago, Hyatt’s has 20 brands under its corporate umbrella and more than 975 hotels, all inclusive resorts and wellness resorts throughout 69 countries across six continents. 2020 revenue for the company was in excess of $2 billion although annual EPS for 2020 was -$6.93, which was a significant from 2019 annual EPS of $7.21. Between 2009 and 2019, the stock returned 28% higher than the NYSE composite. Fifteen analysts offering CNN Business a 12-month price forecasts for Hyatt Hotels Corp have a median target of 72.00, with a high estimate of 95.00 and a low estimate of 55.00. The median estimate represents a -14.11% decrease from the last price of 83.83. Accor SA (OTC Pink: ACCYY) This Paris-based company trades on the Euronext Paris exchange. However, U.S. investors can purchase shares through the Pink Open Market. The company’s product offering is comprised of 5,000 hotels and residences across 110 countries worldwide. Revenue for the full year 2020 €1.6 billion when annual EPS was -€8.69. Annual EPS for 2021 is estimated to be -€1.09. In the 10 years spanning 2009 to 2019, Accor returned 52% lower than the Euronext 100 composite. As reported by CNN Business, the 12-month price forecasts of 18 analysts for Accor SA has a median target of 8.38, a high estimate of 10.97 and a low estimate of 4.68.  Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: IHG) With $992 million in 2020 revenue, this hotel company has nearly 6,000 hotels throughout the America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australasia and China. More than 880,000 rooms are currently open and another 272,000 rooms are now in the pipeline. 2020 EPS for the stock declined 168.31% from 2019. However, IHG has returned 120% higher compared to NYSE composite in the decade between 2009 and 2019. The 12-month price forecasts of 20 analysts include a median target of 63.29, with a high estimate of 78.23 and a low estimate of 50.07. Choice Hotels International (NYSE: CHH) has more than 7,100 hotels or nearly 6,000 rooms, in over 40 countries and territories. Lodging options range from full-service and limited service hotels in the upscale, midscale, extended stay and economy segments. 2020 revenue was more than $774 million and 2020 adjusted diluted EPS was $2.22, a decrease of 49% over the prior full year period.  The stock also returned 168% higher than the NYSE composite over the 10 years from 2009 to 2019. The 10 analysts offering a 12-month price forecasts for Choice Hotels International Inc have a median target of 105.50, with a high estimate of 122.00 and a low estimate of 90.00. Wynn Resorts Limited (NASDAQ: WYNN) owns and operates Wynn Las Vegas, Encore Boston Harbor, Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace, Cotai. For the year ended December 31, 2020, operating revenues were $2.10 billion and annual EPS was $-19.37, a 1784.35% decline from 2019. In the 10-year period between 2009 and 2019, Wynn Resorts Limited (WYNN) has returned 75 percent lower compared to the NASDAQ composite. The aggregate 12-month price forecasts for Wynn Resorts Ltd have a median target of 120.00, with a high estimate of 157.00 and a low estimate of 99.00. MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) is a global entertainment company with a portfolio of 29 hotel and destination gaming offerings that include casinos, meeting and conference facilities, live entertainment experiences and restaurant, nightlife and retail products. The Company is currently pursuing targeted expansion in Asia through the integrated resort opportunity in Japan. In 2020, net revenues were $2.2 billion for the company’s Las Vegas Strip resorts and $2 billion for its regional operations. MGM China had net revenues of $657 billion in 2020.  Adjusted EPS was a loss per share of $3.94 in 2020, compared to Adjusted EPS of $0.77 in 2019. MGM Resorts International (MGM) returned 115% higher over the 10 years from 2009 to 2019 in comparison to the NYSE composite for the same period. Fourteen analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for MGM Resorts International have a median target of 37.75, with a high estimate of 50.00 and a low estimate of 28.00.  Caesars Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: CZR) is one of the largest gaming-entertainment companies in the U.S. and one of the world's most diversified gaming-entertainment providers. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, in 1937, Caesars Entertainment has grown through development of new resorts, expansions and acquisitions. Caesars Entertainment's resorts operate primarily under the Caesars®, Harrah's®, Horseshoe® and Eldorado® brand names. Caesars generated approximately 3.47 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2020, when annual EPS was -$13.50 compared to annual EPS of $1.03 in 2019. The stock returned 59 percent higher than the NASDAQ composite in the 10 years over 2009 to 2019. The 12 analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Caesars Entertainment Inc have a median target of 97.50, with a high estimate of 115.00 and a low estimate of 90.00.  Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) is a developer and operator of meetings, incentives, convention and exhibition or MICE-based integrated resorts, including Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and through majority ownership in Sands China Ltd., Sands developed the largest portfolio of properties on the Cotai Strip in Macao, including The Venetian Macao, The Plaza, Four Seasons Hotel Macao, The Londoner Macao, The Parisian Macao and Sands Macao.  The company recently entered into definitive agreements to sell its Las Vegas real estate and operations, including The Venetian Resort Las Vegas and the Sands Expo and Convention Center for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $6.25 billion. Casino and entertainment resort company Las Vegas Sands generated approximately 3.61 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2020. However, EPS for the 12-months ending Dec. 31, 2019 was -$2.21, a year-over-year decline of 163.14%. But from 2009 to 2019, the stock returned 62% higher than the NYSE composite and 14 analysts collectively a 12-month price forecast with a median target of 67.50, a high estimate of 84.00 and a low estimate of 50.00.   Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) REITs are another investment option. Unlike hotel companies, hotel REITs –and all REITs for that matter— own, operate or finance real estate with the objective of generating income. Similarly to mutual funds, REITs combine the capital from multiple investors who earn dividends and avoid the risk associated with buying, managing and directly financing real estate assets on their own. These are good bets for investors who want a stable income stream.  However, REITs aren’t known for their capital appreciation, which is why they tend to show noticeably lower returns against index composites. For example, over the decade from 2009 to 2019, Apple Hospitality REIT Inc. returned 68% lower compared to the NYSE composite and during that same time period, Host Hotels & Resorts returned 40% lower than the NYSE composite index. Broadly speaking, a REIT’s 52-week high and low are more illustrative of the moderate risk they represent to investors.  You should keep in mind that the Pandemic has led to a trend where hotel assets are either being sold off to then be repurposed into other asset classes such as multifamily housing and senior living facilities or hotel owners and investors are themselves repurposing their hotel properties into other asset classes. REIT investors should be aware of this as the trend has the potential to change and even diminish the portfolios of hotel REITs. Like hotel stocks, there are a good number of hotel REITs to invest in, but these tend to be investor favorites because of their longevity and portfolios of reputable brands.  Apple Hospitality REIT, Inc. (NYSE: APLE) owns 233 hotels with more tan 29,800 rooms located in 88 markets throughout 25 U.S. states. The portfolio has a concentration of marquee names including Marriott-, Hilton- and Hyatt-branded hotels. Annual revenue for 2020 was $602 million and the median yearly earnings for 2021 are approximated at $0.54. In the 52 weeks ending on March 19, 2021, the highest price reached by the stock was 15.89. The lowest price was 5.36.A panel of eight analysts offered a collective price forecast with a median target of 17.00, a high estimate of 19.00 and a low estimate of 15.00.  Hersha Hospitality Trust (NYSE: HT) owns and operates 37 hotels totaling 5,845 rooms are located in New York, Washington, DC, Boston, Philadelphia, South Florida and select markets on the West Coast. The company’s revenue for the full year 2020 total $529.96 million while 2020 EPS was -$0.46. In the 52 weeks ending March 19, 2021, the stock price peaked at 12.9 and saw a low of 2.41087.  The nine analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Hersha Hospitality Trust have a median target of 10.00, with a high estimate of 21.00 and a low estimate of 8.00.  Host Hotels & Resorts (NASDAQ: HST) is the largest lodging REIT and renowned for its concentration of luxury and upper-upscale hotels with a focus on brands such as Marriot, Ritz-Carlton, Westin, Sheraton, W, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Hyatt, Fairmont, Hilton, Swissôtel, ibis and Novotel. The company owns 76 properties in the U.S. and five internationally, totally 46,800 rooms. Host additionally holds non-controlling interests in six domestic and one international joint venture. The company did $65 million in revenue for the full year 2020 when annual EPS total  -$1.04. The stock price hit a high of 18.42 during the 52 weeks ending on March 19, 2021 and fell to a low of 9.06. Eighteen analysts estimated a median target of 17.00 in a 12-month price forecast, with a high estimate of 21.00 and a low of 13.00.  Park Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: PK) is the second largest publicly traded lodging REIT with a portfolio of 60 premium-branded hotels and resorts that comprise more than 33,000 rooms in city center and resort locations. The company reported $852 million in 2020 revenue and annual EPS for 2020 was $0.94. In the 52 weeks ending on March 19, 2021, the highest price reached by Park Hotels & Resorts Inc stock was 24.6. The lowest price was 6.04. The 14 analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Park Hotels & Resorts Inc have a median target of 22.50, with a high estimate of 28.00 and a low estimate of 15.00.  RLJ Lodging Trust (NYSE: RLJ) has a portfolio of 1010 premium-branded, focused service and compact full service hotels in 23 states and Washington D.C. along with an ownership interest in one unconsolidated hotel. This REITs hotels are consolidated in urban areas and other densely populated markets where the barriers to entry are significant, but RLJ’s investment strategy of focusing on hotels with limited food service offerings, limited meeting space and consequently fewer employees, represents greater potential on returns.   Index Funds & ETFs Index funds and ETFs or Exchange Traded Funds are good bets for investors who want to put money into hotel stocks and hotel REITs while minimizing their risk. The benefit to index funds is that they are passively managed because they only track stock indexes. So the fees and expenses incurred by investors are lower. However, the hotel industry is extremely sensitive to changes in the economy. So gains and losses made on these investments will be a function of the greater business climate.  Keep in mind that not all stock indexes are index funds. The Baird/STR Hotel Index is widely regarded by hotel investors as an accurate barometer of the hotel industry’s financial performance. However, this index is not actively managed, nor does it allow direct investment. The Baird/STR Hotel Stock Index and sub-indices are cobranded and were created by Robert W. Baird & Co. (Baird) and STR. The market-cap-weighted, price-only indices comprise 20 of the largest market-capitalization hotel companies publicly traded on a U.S. exchange and attempt to characterize the performance of hotel stocks. ETFs are also considered low-cost investments. They can also have the added benefit of being more diverse investments since they can also include exposure to other real estate investments beyond the hotel industry. So they may not be as sensitive to shifting economies. Additionally, ETFs can include or comprise an entire portfolio of REITs, which on their own are not considered “qualified dividends” as per the IRS.  In other words, earnings on REITS are taxed at a higher rate. Despite the fact that REITs qualify for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s 20% pass-through deduction, they are still taxed at a higher rate than qualified dividends. ETF dividends can be taxed at the qualified rate provided the investor holds them for at least 60 days from the date of issue. Yet, there are ETF dividends that are not taxed at the qualified rate. So investors may want to confirm the tax rate before going in.  Also, keep in mind that the data by which you’re going to assess an ETF as an investment vehicle will differ from that used to assess any given hotel stock. These are not individual companies with annual revenues. Rather, an ETF is an investment vehicle comprising a portfolio of multiple companies and the portfolios are rebalanced, usually once a quarter. In turn, net assets change regularly. The revenue or other metrics for any single company within that portfolio is not an accurate representation of the ETFs’ performance as a whole.  In the meantime, here are a few ETFs worth considering: Nuveen Short-Term REIT ETF (BATS: NURE) This fund provides exposure to U.S. real estate investment trusts (REITs) with short-term lease agreements which may exhibit less price sensitivity to interest rate changes than REITs with longer-term lease agreements. The Fund seeks to track the investment results, before fees and expenses, of the Dow Jones U.S. Select Short-Term REIT Index, which is composed of U.S. exchange-traded equity REITs that concentrate their holdings in apartment buildings, hotels, self-storage facilities and manufactured home properties, which typically have shorter lease terms than REITs that invest in other sectors. The ETF was formed in December 2016; performance data for the last five years is not yet available. The fund has $26.02 million in net assets and the year-to-date daily total return was 12.11%. Its one-year monthly total return was 8.47% and its three-year monthly total return was 9.97%. The 52-week high was 31.22 and the low was 19.28. Wall Street analysts give this fund an N/A rating according to Marketbeat.com  Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight Real Estate ETF (NYSE Arca: EWRE) The Invesco S&P 500® Equal Weight Real Estate ETF (Fund) is based on the S&P 500® Equal Weight Real Estate Index (Index). The Fund will invest at least 90% of its total assets in securities that comprise the Index. The Index equally weights stocks in the real estate sector of the S&P 500® Index. The Fund and the Index are rebalanced quarterly. The fund has net assets of $22.66 million. The year-to-date daily total return was 12.11%. Its one-year monthly total return was 11.52% and its three-year monthly total return was 11.33% and the five-year monthly total return was 9.01%. The 52-week high was 33.50 and the low was 21.60. Zacks gives this fund an ETF Rank of “Sell” at the time of this writing.  ETFMG Travel Tech ETF (NYSE Arca: AWAY) The ETFMG Travel Tech ETF is a portfolio of companies that are a subset of the global travel and tourism industry. These companies are engaged in the “Travel Technology Business” by providing technology via the Internet and internet-connected devices to facilitate travel bookings and reservations, ride sharing and hailing, travel price comparison, and travel advice. AWAY is an exchange traded fund (ETF) that seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield, before fund fees and expenses, of the Prime Travel Technology Index. The fund has net assets of $261.77 million.  The year-to-date daily total return was 20.07%. Its one-year monthly total return was 116.96%. No additional performance data is available as the ETF was launched in February 2020. The 52-week high was 34.54 and the low was 13.58. Based on WalletInvestor.com forecasts, a long-term increase is expected. The "AWAY" fund price prognosis for 2026-03-25 is 148.980 USD. With a five-year investment, the revenue is expected to be around +369.23%. Your current $100 investment may be up to $469.23 in 2026.   Hospitality and Travel Tech Stocks The travel industry is expected to benefit from pent-up demand. Despite this, many investors have exited their positions in asset-heavy stocks like hotels, airlines and cruise lines. But asset-light travel tech stock may appeal to investors who still want to cash in on an upcoming booking spree since these companies all play some role in the booking funnel.  Travel tech companies also have irons in just about every fire in the travel industry, from hotels and cruise lines to tour operators, airlines and restaurants. So they help investors spread their risk through diversified business interests within the travel and tourism sector.  But investors should also be cautioned that Wall Street is bearish on tech stocks right now. According to a survey from Bank of America, fund managers cut their tech weighting to the lowest overweight position since January 2009.  For investors who aren’t faint of heart, here are some stocks in the travel tech space that are worth considering right now:   Tech Plays: OTAs   Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE) Expedia Group leverages platform and technology capabilities across an extensive portfolio of businesses and brands to orchestrate the movement of people and the delivery of travel experiences on both a local and global basis. 2020 annual revenue was $5.2 billion was 2020 annual EPS was -$19.00. Expedia Group Inc. returned 26% higher compared to the NASDAQ composite in the decade between 2009 and 2019. Twenty-seven analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Expedia Group Inc. have a median target of 165.00, with a high estimate of 211.00 and a low estimate of 120.00.  Booking.com (NASDAQ: BKNG) Booking Holdings (BKNG) is a provider of online travel and related services, available to customers and partners in over 220 countries and territories through six primary consumer-facing brands - Booking.com, priceline, agoda.com, Rentalcars.com, KAYAK and OpenTable. The company’s annual revenue for 2020 was $6.79 billion while annual EPS for 2020 was $1.44. In the 10-year period from 2009 to 2019, Booking Holdings Inc. returned 13% higher compared to the NASDAQ composite. Twenty-five analysts offered a 12-month forecast that included a median target of 2,550.00, a high estimate of 3,000.00 and a low estimate of 1,890.00 Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB) Since its inception in 2007, Airbnb has grown to four million hosts who have welcomed over 800 million guests in almost every country worldwide. Annual revenue was $3.4 billion for 2020 when annual EPS was N/A. Airbnb shares began trading in December 2020. Therefore, no historical data is available. A 12-month price forecast from 26 analysts included a media target of 180.00, a high stimate of 240.00 and a low estimate of 130.00.  Trip.com (NASDAQ: TCOM) Trip.com Group Limited is a travel service provider consisting of Trip.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner, and Qunar. Across its platforms, Trip.com Group enables local partners and travelers around the world to make informed and cost-effective bookings for travel products and services, through aggregation of comprehensive travel-related information and resources, and an advanced transaction platform consisting of mobile apps, Internet websites, and 24/7 customer service centers. The company report annual revenue of $2.8 billion for 2020 although annual EPS was N/A for 2020. Tripcom Group Limited returned 51 percent lower than the NASDAQ composite for the 10-year period between 2009 and 2019. In a 12-month price forecast provided by 34 analysts, a media target was set at 44.54, with a high estimate at 51.32 and a low approximated at 37.43.  Google (Alphabet Inc.) (NASDAQ: GOOG) Alphabet became the parent holding company of Google in October 2015. The company’s suite of products, through its subsidiaries, includes web-based search, advertisements, maps, software applications, mobile operating systems, consumer content, enterprise solutions, commerce and hardware products. The Internet’s annual revenue for 2020 came in at $180 billion. Annual EPS for 2020 was $58.61. However, Alphabet Inc. returned six percent lower than the NASDAQ composite for the 10 years from 2009 to 2019. Forty analysts offered a 12-month price forecast where the median target was 2,400.00 and the high estimate was 3,000.00. The forecast’s low estimate was 1,477.00   Tech Plays: Metasearch   Tripadvisor (NASDAQ: TRIP) Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to browse more than 860 million reviews and opinions of 8.7 million accommodations, restaurants, experiences, airlines and cruises. Travelers turn to Tripadvisor to compare low prices on hotels, flights and cruises, book tours and attractions, as well as to make restaurant reservations. Tripadvisor is available in 49 markets and 28 languages. The subsidiaries and affiliates of Tripadvisor, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRIP) own and operate a portfolio of websites and businesses, including many travel media brands: In 2020, the U.S.-based online travel company generated revenues of approximately $604 million and annual 2020 EPS was -$2.14. In the decade between 2009 and 2019, TripAdvisor returned 48% lower than the NASDAQ composite. According to a 12-month price forecast from 18 analysts, the median target is 38.50 and the high estimate is 62.00 while the low estimate is 20.00.   Trivago (NASDAQ: TRVG) Trivago is a global hotel and accommodation search platform used by travelers to search for and compare different types of accommodations, such as hotels, vacation rentals and apartments, while enabling advertisers to grow their businesses by providing them with access to a broad audience of travelers via its websites and apps. As of December 31, 2020, Trivago offered access to more than 5.0 million hotels and other types of accommodation in over 190 countries, including over 3.8 million units of alternative accommodation, such as vacation rentals and apartments.  The search platform can be accessed globally via 54 localized websites and apps available in 32 languages. Trivago’s annual revenue for 2020 was $284 million. However, 2020 EPS was -$0.8170. Trivago returned 156% lower from 2009 to 2019 compared to the NASDAQ composite. A price forecast offered by nine analyst for 12-months offered a median target of 2.67, a high estimate of 3.56 and a low of 1.27.    Tech Plays: Software & GDS Companies   Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) The Oracle Cloud offers a complete suite of integrated applications for Sales, Service, Marketing, Human Resources, Finance, Supply Chain and Manufacturing, plus Highly- Automated and Secure Generation 2 Infrastructure featuring the Oracle Autonomous Database. Total revenue for 2020 was $39.1 billion and annual EPS was $3.08. Oracle Corporation (ORCL) has returned 58 percent higher compared to NYSE composite in the ten years from 2009 and 2019. Twenty-one analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Oracle Corp have a median target of 73.00, with a high estimate of 93.00 and a low estimate of 57.00.  Amadeus (OTC: AMADY) Amadeus IT Holding S.A. is a Spain-based IT provider for the global travel and tourism industry. The company builds solutions for airlines and airports, hotels and railways, search engines, travel agencies, tour operators and other travel businesses through its global distribution system (GDS) and IT business. Amadeus provides search, pricing, booking, ticketing and other processing services in real-time to travel providers and travel agencies through its Amadeus CRS distribution business area. It also offers computer software that automates processes such as reservations, inventory management software and departure control systems. It services customers including airlines, hotels, tour operators, insurers, car rental and railway companies, ferry and cruise lines, travel agencies and individual travellers directly.  The company’s annual 2020 revenue were €2 billion and annual EPS was -$1.40. According to SeekingAlpha.com, “In the last decade Amadeus IT managed to grow its cash from operations every single year. The OCF-ratios on both a revenue and an equity level are exceptional. All the while management spends cash to grow the business via M&A and purchases of intangibles, but is also growing dividends each year for the shareholders. And as can be seen on both the balance sheets and cash flow statements, the company is managing its debt levels in a very prudent way. If there are no good businesses to buy, debt is retired.” SeekingAlpha also points out that the risk associated with investing in Amadeus is that most of its revenue is related to air travel.  In the 15 years or so prior to 2020, the growth has been robust, but Coronavirus has clearly changed that and the short- and median-term future of global air travel remain to be seen. Twenty-one analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Amadeus IT Group SA have a median target of 66.76, with a high estimate of 88.06 and a low estimate of 49.16. Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR) Sabre’s software, data, mobile and distribution solutions are used by hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotel properties to manage critical operations, including passenger and guest reservations, revenue management, flight, network and crew management.  Sabre also operates a leading global travel marketplace, which processes more than $120 billion of global travel spend annually by connecting travel buyers and suppliers. Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, USA, Sabre serves customers in more than 160 countries around the world. In 2020, the corporation generated $1.33 billion in annual revenue and had an annual EPS of -$4.42. Sabre Corporation (SABR) has returned 98% lower compared to NASDAQ composite. Four analysts offered 12-month price forecasts with a median target of 16.00, a high estimate of 18.00 and a low estimate of 13.00.   Did we miss any great hotel stocks? Let us know via live chat!    

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The Future of Hotel Apps: Why Mobile Payments Are Essential

by
Dan Lacey
2 months ago

When you look at the future of hospitality tech, it’s very clear that everything revolves around one thing: mobile. Everyone’s on their phone all the time, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Over the last year, features like mobile check-in and mobile key have become more important to hotel apps than anyone could have imagined, both in the context of the pandemic world and the future that lies beyond it. Yet as important as that tech is, there’s another hotel app feature that may eventually become even more important. Contactless payments.    In April 2020, Mastercard released a stunning study based on online interviews of over 17,000 global consumers. They found over 88% of consumers had adopted some form of contactless payment technology—and 74% planned to continue using it post-pandemic. At the same time, mobile purchases went up in nearly every sector, and made up 73% of all e-commerce sales last year. And it’s not just the pandemic. People have also never been more worried about fraud and information security, and mobile payments are simply safer to use than cash or credit cards.    All of this to say...mobile purchases and contactless payments are already a force to be reckoned with and will only gain more traction as time goes on. They represent a new way of life that’s impacting every industry. So, what does that mean for hoteliers? If you’re not prepared to process mobile purchases and contactless payments, you’re missing out on huge revenue potential—something most properties and brands simply can’t afford to do in this rebuilding phase.    That being said, hotels are in a uniquely strong position to embrace mobile payment technology. First, other industries like restaurants and retail have already mastered mobile payments and offer a roadmap to success that hoteliers can follow. But most importantly, all mobile payments and orders should also be processed through the systems you already know and trust—meaning you shouldn’t need to retrain staff or reconcile financials from multiple systems.    That’s because what hoteliers need to harness the revenue-generating potential of mobile isn’t really a new payment technology. Sure, you may eventually want a few new credit card terminals, but for now, guest technology can do the heavy lifting. Guests are asking for a way to check-in and out, order food, and make purchases during their stay from their phone—and on that front, it’s an app provider’s responsibility to work with a property’s PMS and POS vendors to ensure they can facilitate mobile payments, not yours.    What hoteliers need to know about mobile payments can be boiled down to this: they will become one of the single most important mobile app features—if not the most important—within the next few years. And they should add convenience for tech-savvy guests and extra revenue for your property, not more complexity for you. If a vendor tries to tell you differently, that’s a red flag.  

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How to Select the Right Restaurant Ordering System at Your Hotel

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

 Today’s traveler can book their flight, reserve a stay, and even unlock their guest room via apps on their smartphone - but what about ordering a burger at your hotel?  In a recent survey, 47% of travelers say they would be more likely to order room service or dine-in a hotel restaurant if mobile ordering were available. Overall, guest preferences are increasingly shifting towards contactless options, there’s no better time to implement an online ordering system for guests. In fact, 87% of Americans who use food delivery apps say that mobile ordering technology has made their lives easier.  That convenience also translates into direct P&L impact where mobile ordering is proven to boost average order values.  The best part is that the world has gone appless meaning that your guests can place orders directly in your hotel's POS system without ever downloading an ordering app onto their device. Guests anywhere in your hotel’s ecosystem should be able to order with a few clicks whether they’re at the restaurant, pool, in-room, on the beach, or even the golf course. While mobile ordering might seem like a no-brainer, choosing the right restaurant or room service ordering system can be a daunting task. In this article, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to follow as you research and ultimately implement a system that’s best for your unique property. Let’s get started!   Develop an Initial Business Case for Online Orders at Your Hotel or Restaurant Before making changes to your tech stack and SOPs, it’s crucial to ensure all key stakeholders are on the same page. The first step in implementing a mobile ordering system is to actually clarify why - and if - you need one. Set up a discussion with anyone involved in the decision, including not only restaurant managers, servers, and the F&B director, but also representatives from the front office (who will undoubtedly need to answer guest questions about the system), the finance team (who will handle a new billing process), and IT (who will help to implement the system).  “Working more than 100 of the leading hospitality brands like Marriott, Hilton, and Intercontinental we typically find that modern hospitality businesses demand a lightweight solution to sell food and beverage offerings on guests’ own devices.  Operators are looking for app-less solutions that don’t require downloads and they are demanding rapid low-cost rollouts,” says RoomOrders CEO Eugene B. Jones. In this discussion, you’ll want to refine your goal: why do you want a new restaurant ordering? And why now? It’s also worthwhile to discuss the pros and cons of your current technology vendors to get a sense of existing pain points and opportunities for improvement. Want to educate yourself further before speaking with your team members? Check out the 2021 Guide to Mobile Ordering Software.   Set Measurable Goals Prior to Engaging Potential Technology Vendors How will you know if your mobile ordering system is delivering the results you want? Setting measurable goals is one of the most important steps as you explore mobile ordering at your hotel. Your goals should include a specific target and a timeframe in which you want to reach them. For example, is your primary goal to increase average order value? Maybe you set a goal to grow order value by 50% in the next six months. Perhaps you want to decrease room service response time by 80% over the next quarter. Or you might want to boost overall restaurant order volume by the end of the year. According to Mr. Jones, RoomOrders increased in-room dining checks by 40% at the Hilton Boston Downtown and 122% at the Hilton Sydney.  It’s important to set aggressive yet attainable goals based on the success of similar properties.     Gather Data to Understand Your Restaurant KPI's Prior to Mobile Ordering Now that you have your goals, how will you know when you meet them? Before implementing a new system, make sure to gather benchmark data related to the goals you’ve set. If you plan to increase your average order size, then you’ll want to pull a report showing your current average order size - and maybe average order size over the last year or two so you can understand seasonal fluctuations. As you gather this data, create a list of your other software partners (like your PMS or POS) that would require integrations with the new restaurant ordering system. Ideally, data from the restaurant ordering system would flow seamlessly into your existing tech to make reporting a breeze.   Build a Vendor Shortlist of the Best Restaurant Online Ordering Systems Once you’ve established the goals you want to reach and have gotten buy-in from all of the relevant teams, the real research begins. By reading user reviews, case studies, and articles written by industry experts, you can get a good picture of the mobile ordering system landscape. You can also uncover some nuggets of information from your own network; hoteliers who have implemented ordering systems for their own restaurants can be great resources to answer any questions and provide references. “When choosing between vendors you’ll want to test ordering functionality to ensure the best possible user experience for guests.  You’ll also want to compare business models and forecast fees based on various levels of income.  For some hotels, a flat subscription is preferable and others prefer a per-transaction fee to align incentives.  You’ll also want to explore back-office functionality and reporting capabilities to optimize your business mix over time.” said Jean Baptiste Pigeon, a 37-year veteran hotelier, who has led IHG branded properties across Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa, and now advises RoomOrders. As you conduct research, you’ll find that different systems offer some different features and functionality. It’s helpful to create a list of features you want and score them based on importance. With this priority list, you can objectively compare the specs of various systems to determine whether they might be a good fit for your hotel. Features to consider include: Online menu content management system Mobile payments Upselling and add-ons QR code scanning Analytics and real-time reporting PMS and POS integrations Credit cards and online payments Mobile app download required Guest facing ordering experience Kiosk ordering solution add-ons like iPads or Android tablets Ready to start your shortlist? Head to our list of the 10 Best Mobile Ordering Software Vendors.   Participate in Demos and Get Price Quotes Once you've studied up on the category, the best way to determine whether a system is right for your hotel and your needs is to compare different systems. As you narrow down systems of interest, you’ll want to schedule demos and see the software tools in action. During demo sessions, keep an eye out for a few things: User experience: Is the interface user-friendly? Is it easy to learn how to use the system? You certainly don’t want your new restaurant ordering system to make your restaurant service slower.  You'll also want to make sure it's easy for guests to order and checkout on their devices. Data reporting capabilities: What analytical features does the system include? How can you pull reporting that shows your average order value, order volume, response time, and other key metrics? Without reporting, you won’t know if you’re meeting your goals, so this functionality is critical. Ease of updating content: How easily can you change the price, description, or photo associated with a menu item? What about controlling which menu items show in certain timeframes through the day? You’ll want a system that allows for as much flexibility as you need - and makes it easy to perform updates to keep your menus current. Customer service: Where do you go for help? Will you receive a dedicated account manager? Is there a 24/7 support hotline you can call? Or is customer support limited to a ticket queue? Based on your hotel’s needs, you might want to look for systems with more hands-on support. Look for HotelTechReport’s Customer Support Certification badge for confidence that the system offers solid options when you need assistance. At this stage, you’ll also talk about monthly fees to determine which system makes the most sense for your budget. Some systems operate on a monthly subscription model, while others charge a commission (either % of revenue or a flat fee per order). Take the time to model out the pricing for your restaurant over the next year or beyond; how much commission would you pay if you achieve your revenue growth goals? How much would you pay in subscription fees? Knowing how much you’ll pay over time can help you make a future-proof decision. “Our main consideration was the level of commitment and risk involved before we could witness significant improvement in our operations and guest experience,” said Food and Beverage Director at the luxurious Hotel Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I in Barcelona, Angelo Vassallo. “We decided upon a solution [RoomOrders] that offered enterprise software with free implementation, zero investment costs and immediate results, as well as no lock-in contracts.”  Finally, as you close in on that ideal software, make sure to test it out in the wild. Ask for a demo account, then ask real guests to take it for a test drive. By watching guests place orders and listening to their feedback, you can get a sense of the system’s true benefits and costs. Do guests find it confusing? Does the system encounter a glitch? Or is it totally effortless? Even the most feature-packed system can hurt your restaurant’s performance if it’s not truly user-friendly. Ready to start your search for a restaurant ordering system? Check out our list of the 10 best mobile ordering systems for hotels based on verified reviews from your peers.     This content was created collaboratively by RoomOrders and Hotel Tech Report.

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The 9 Most Futuristic High Tech Hotels in the World

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

The pandemic accelerated technological transformation across the hospitality industry. Contactless has become a must-have, fitness centers have gone virtual, guest communications have moved to mobile, and self-service has become standard. While some hotels found themselves rapidly deploying new technologies, other hotels have been playing the tech-long game for years. Here are some of the world’s most notable high-tech hotels. We've covered the tech strategies of great hotel groups like Viceroy and Noble House who implement everything from contactless check-in to digital concierge but this article focuses on some more wacky tech implementations with a bit of focus on form over function.  This list features some pretty cool hi-tech gadgets and hotel room amenities that go above and beyond the typical flat-screen tv.  Some of the cutting-edge technology on this list may off-put more traditional travelers but will undoubtedly hit the spot for tech-savvy millennials. Rather than layer technology onto the operation, these properties embed technology into the fabric of the operation, making it a focal point and key feature. Some use it as an Instagrammable moment at a specific location while others structure their entire brand around the tech-enabled guest experience. Either way, technology is front-and-center at these hotels.   Henn Na Hotel, Japan “The Robot Hotel” Tokyo has become the marquee high-tech hotel. The brand concept is “commitment to evolution,” which appears across its operation in the form of robots. Lots of robots! The brand claims to be the world’s first hotel staffed by robots -- and there’s really no disputing that, as guests are greeted by robots at the front desk. At one property, the front desk is even staffed by dinosaur robots and iPad kiosks, which is quite the experience.     Other high-tech features at some locations include a robot barista frothing lattes, espressos and teas, as well as a 360-degree VR space for guests to immerse themselves in virtual reality experiences. The hotel is also fully enabled with Wifi powered facial recognition, which eliminates the need for a hotel key altogether. Guests can access the property, and their individual guest rooms, seamlessly using biometrics. Very futuristic, indeed!   YOTEL, New York City The YOTEL brand has been synonymous with technology since it opened its doors near  Times Square. The showstopper was a massive robot arm dominating the lobby, providing automated luggage storage for guests (as well as safety deposit boxes to store valuables). The YOBOT also provides self-service check-in, which puts the brand far ahead of today’s contactless guest experience.   The rooms -- called cabins -- may be small, but YOTEL uses technology to deliver its promise to “give you everything you need, and nothing you don’t.” This includes Smart TVs so that guests can connect their own devices and choose their own entertainment. The guest rooms also use motorized beds as space-savers and motion-activated sensors for lighting and AC to reduce carbon emissions. It’s all about efficiency, delivering an outsized guest experience in even the smallest spaces.   Blow Up Hall 5050, Poland The Blow Up Hall 50/50 is an impressive mix of form and function. Designed by BAFTA-award-winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, the hotel combines a restaurant, bar, gallery, and hotel into a unique vibe. There are several digital art installations, including a commentary on surveillance capitalism embedded right within the lobby.    The property eliminates the traditional touchstones of the hotel experience: there’s no front desk. The guest’s smartphone provides access to the property, from check-in to room keys to staff communications. The phone also acts as a room finder: after opening the app, the assigned room lights up and the door unlocks automatically. It’s these small tech flourishes that reinforce the property’s sense of mystery and intrigue.   Hotel Zetta, San Francisco At the center of Silicon Valley, the centerpiece of Hotel Zetta is most definitely its virtual reality room in the lobby. Designed by a local tech startup (naturally), the VR cube gives guests a fully-immersive opportunity to experience virtual reality. There are also Nintendo Switch consoles and Oculus VR headsets available so guests can experience next-generation technology in the comfort of their rooms.      Other tech touchstones include a vintage Atari Pong table in the Zetta Suite, which is modernized to include both the classic game and a Bluetooth speaker to play personal playlists. Each guest room is also equipped with Alexa-enabled voice control in every room. Guests can order a meal from room service, set an alarm or learn about on-property dining specials.    Kameha Grand, Zurich The Kameha Grand isn’t one of those kitschy places that you’re embarrassed to stay at. Quite the opposite: the high-end “lifestyle hotel” is part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. And, with rooms designed by Marcel Wenders, it’s got all of the trappings of a luxury property. Rooms     Our favorite rooms are, of course, the Space Suites. It’s the most futuristic room type on this list because it quite literally connects to space. The in-room TV features a live feed from NASA TV so that you can fuel those space dreams. The atmospheric vibes will contribute to that dreamy feel, with “outer space furnishings have been designed down to the smallest detail with a floating bed, pictures of galaxies, hovering astronauts and models of rockets.” Far out!   Virgin Hotels  The Virgin Hotel brand has always been tech-forward and guest-centric. Even prior to the pandemic, the brand empowered guests to control their own experiences right from the palm of their hand. Now, those features are dramatically expanded to be even more contactless.     Named Lucy, the app allows guests to skip check-in, using their phone to select rooms and unlock doors. Guests can also use the app to order room service, adjust room temperature, control entertainment (in-room streaming and Apple Music), plan their trip around the city, or even follow custom exercise routines by Fitbod. Following on smartly with its brand promise, the app also offers three preset lighting modes for guestrooms:  Get Lit for full brightness, Get in the Mood for dimmed relaxation, and Do Not Disturb for sleep. By putting all of these elements together into a single interface, Virgin Hotels puts the guest in control.    25hours Hotels Another brand that’s focused on high-tech without losing high-touch hospitality is 25hours. Thanks to an in-house multidisciplinary think tank, the Extra Hour Lab, the brand experiments with new ways of engaging with guests, both through digital and analog channels. That balance plays out in Cologne, where the record store greets guests alongside    Perhaps that’s one aspect that distinguishes the futuristic, high-tech hotels: those that understand how to inject storytelling into the experience alongside the latest technology.   Cityhub A hybrid between a comfortable hotel and a convivial hostel, Cityhub is futuristic in both its technology and its approach to hospitality. It’s part of a new wave of brands that blend categories and use technology to enable a more social experience. The Cityhub brand has an app but it also takes a cue from Disney and offers RFID wristbands. These bands are used not only for check-in and property access, but also  at the bar, cafe or vending machines, where guests can serve themselves and charge their rooms. Without having to constantly pull out their phones, there’s a more personal element to the experience.     Each “hub” has its own customizable lighting, temperature and audio streaming, so guests can control their vibe. There’s also an on-property social network, giving guests a digital lobby to meet and plan real-world adventures.   The Atari Hotel, Las Vegas (coming soon!) A notable mention is the upcoming Atari Hotel in Las Vegas.  This property will blur the boundaries between hotel and immersive experience, building on Las Vegas’ long history of blending entertainment with hospitality. The experience is straight out of Blade Runner: bright lights, massive marquees, and an “everywhere you look” focus on gaming.    The Atari Hotel points to a far-more futuristic vision of hotels than anything else on the market today. It very well could be the first hospitality experience built just as much for the virtual world as for the physical one. Guests can host friends in their rooms for gaming marathons, with consoles, batteries, and spare controllers available for delivery. The Atari Hotel may redefine the category and establish a new mainstream travel trend: the gamer circuit. -- What are your favorite high-tech hotel amenities? Let us know if we missed any key ones like hotels with crazy underwater speakers, air conditioning activated by motion sensors, cool touchscreen applications, and more!

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3 Ways to Increase Guest Confidence and Rebuild Travel in 2021

by
Alison Guillot
4 months ago

Will 2021 see the return of travel? As vaccinated populations grow, many international governments are looking to energize the travel industry with discussions around “vaccine passport” programs and the reopening of borders ahead of the all-important summer tourist season. As the year progresses, will there be a significant spike in demand for flights and hotels? And in which markets? Will road trips and outdoor destinations continue to be popular to accommodate social distancing or are travelers setting their sights on more exotic locales?  It’s important for hoteliers to prepare for a few different scenarios this year based on consumer confidence levels. To best capture available demand and ease travel-related concerns, hoteliers will want to focus on providing guests a clean, welcoming environment.    Meet the Expectations of “Generation Clean”  Cleanliness will remain a top priority for travelers this year and will weigh heavily in their decision to book accommodations. In a recent traveler survey, 2 out of 3 people say COVID-19 prevention measures are very important to know before they book, while only 25% say price is the key driver behind selecting their next destination.   That means the “Generation Clean” traveler is prioritizing health and sanitization in booking decisions and wants to feel the property is doing enough to ensure their safety.  As a hotelier, make sure to communicate the cleanliness standards and protocols your property has put in place. Add these details to your website and booking engine to make the property more attractive to shoppers. Pre-arrival emails that highlight specific safeguards your property is implementing, and what type of experience guests can expect onsite will be welcome and appreciated.    Provide Stress-Free Contactless Experiences   Expectations for contactless experiences such as keyless entry, mobile check-in/out, and automated service requests were already on the rise before COVID-19. Current social distancing guidelines have accelerated the adoption of contactless technology and digital experiences.  Contactless experiences not only drive convenience, but 62% of guests prefer to check-in and out through a hotel app. The introduction of these digital touchpoints can also provide hoteliers with opportunities to drive ancillary revenue and collect more actionable data to deliver memorable experiences. For example, if you know your guest has checked into their room via the property’s mobile app, perhaps consider sending them a text message or push notification to see if they’d like to order contactless room service.   These digital interactions are a welcome addition to travelers’ experiences and lets them know you are still offering attentive service, even though your staff is not immediately visible.     Personalize Each Step of the Guest’s Journey Hoteliers are discovering that loyalty is evolving beyond point-based reward programs to entice repeat bookings. COVID-19 has advanced the pace of technology adoption to build better guest experiences. With low room rates in abundance and high uncertainty around travel guidelines, non-price factors such as trust and the ability to deliver safe and memorable experiences are increasingly driving booking behavior. In fact, 79% of consumers say they are more loyal to brands with higher levels of personalization.  Every pre-trip questionnaire, email, digital service request, or mobile purchase is a building block for a personalized experience. But hoteliers need integrated systems to make true personalization a reality. By leveraging centralized data across your technology stack, hoteliers can convert guest preferences and profile details into actionable information for service delivery staff. After all, a personalized experience is a differentiated experience that can ultimately earn you a lifelong customer.    In a world where travel is evolving rapidly, some consumer expectations and behaviors are sure to become standards. Hoteliers need to take bold action to embrace these changes and elevated expectations for cleanliness, contactless experiences, and increased personalization. By focusing on integrated technology to deliver these priorities, hoteliers will ultimately drive more demand for their business and deepen their connection with guests.