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Hotel Guest Experience Software Articles

How to Connect Popular Gaming Consoles to Hotel Wifi

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 days ago

The next generation of travelers is increasingly likely to bring a video game console with them on their travels. It’s estimated that 73% of Gen Z – those who are born between 1995 and 2015 – own a video game console, such as a Playstation 4, Xbox or Nintendo Switch. And, as Gen Z travelers begin to dominate the market, your front desk team is likely to get lots of calls from guests trying to connect their gaming system to the WiFi from their hotel room. For those of us who are less technologically savvy, these calls can be stressful. Each type of console is different; troubleshooting with a guest on the line is challenging and frustrating for everyone involved. We’re here to help get your guests set up to start playing on hotel internet, and also help you learn about different games for each system so you can provide recommendations and better connect with your guests. We’ll get into the specifics of each system in greater detail; start here for an overview of connecting to Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and XBox. When guests are seeking some advice about playing video games on your hotel WiFi, this is the guide for you.   Connect PS4 to your WiFi First, make sure your property’s WiFi is working and that your guest has their WiFi password handy. Then, walk your guest through these steps. Connect your PS4 to the hotel TV and turn it on.  Scroll to Settings. Press X to select the Toolbox icon Next, select Network from the Toolbox options Select “Set Up Internet Connection” Choose the option to use WiFi Choose the Easy set-up option (not the Custom one) Find the name of your hotel’s WiFi network and choose that option. PS4 will then go through the process of trying to connect and will prompt you for a password. It will show that the internet settings have been saved once you’ve connected.  Test the connection by selecting the Test Internet Connection button. If the connection says “failed,” it’s ok – just select the Details option to fix it. Tap the option “Suggested Actions”. If it tells you the security of the page cannot be verified, just say “Yes” and move on to the next page.  A browser window will appear with the sign-in for your hotel’s WiFi network. Login with the details of your property’s WiFi and press connect. Once you’re connected, press the back button on your PS4 console to get back to the network screen. Test the internet connection again to see if what you did worked. If your guest is still struggling to connect, check out our more extensive guide for connecting a PS4 console to hotel WiFi. We’ll have some tips for troubleshooting, as well as some games you might recommend during their stay. Check out our in-depth guide on setting up an Playstation 4 on Hotel Wifi.   Connect Nintendo Switch to your WiFi The process for connecting a Nintendo Switch is a little more complicated than for a PS4. Try following these steps:  Toggle to “Settings” in the main menu Under Settings, on the lefthand menu, select “Internet” and navigate to “Internet settings” The Switch will start to search for a network.  Your hotel’s network should appear. If the network is open – i.e., not password-protected – simply select the network and connect.  If the network requires a password, or requires registration to use the network, hit “Next” A browser window will open where the guest can submit the login details.  The WiFi will connect once the guest sends through the password. Some guests on Reddit report having trouble connecting to the login page. One hotel front desk manager noted that hotel connections are just slower. The solution he used was to set up the Switch to not go to sleep and leave it trying to connect: “After a while, the login window does pop-up. I tried it myself and it does work, it stays trying to connect for 15-20 minutes, but in the end the window does appear so that you can just use your hotel's login credentials or whatever.” Check out our in-depth guide on setting up an Nintendo Switch on Hotel Wifi.   Connect Xbox to your WiFi Finally, if your guest is trying to connect their Xbox, you can help them connect either by using an ethernet port or wirelessly. To connect wirelessly, walk the guest through these steps:  Turn on the Xbox console.  Navigate to “Settings” and select “Network”  Go to the “Set up wireless network” option and select “connect to a new network”  Find the name of the hotel WiFi network and choose to connect Enter the password of the network when requested. The console will automatically connect as long as there are no errors in the password or other login information. It will let you know once the connection has been established. If you have an ethernet cable, you can also use that to connect an Xbox console to the internet. Ask the guest to plug the ethernet cable into the Xbox’s LAN port, located at the back of the console. Make sure the other end of the cable is plugged into the internet source. Once you turn on the Xbox console, it should connect to the internet automatically.   Check out our in-depth guide on setting up an Xbox on Hotel Wifi.  

What to Look for in a Hospitality TV

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

The humble hospitality tv has long been derided as clunky and outdated. And rightly so: too often, hotel TVs were relics of the past, never aligned with the tech that most guests had in their own homes. The reason why? Hardware used to quickly become outdated and it was really expensive.  Today consumers can get slick LCD TVs cheap and those TVs can update software in real time.  This makes it a great time to invest in new hospitality TVs if your property is stuck in 1999. Hospitality TVs are more than just channels, they are smart hubs for guest experience, branding and communications. From controlling lights to streaming content and ordering room service, the hotel TV has adapted alongside guest expectations. Today’s guests are used to having top-notch tech at-home and have begun to expect more from the hotel experience. They expect far greater control over their experience -- and the tech-enabled guest room necessitates a single point of control.   So how can you give guests what they want? It’s time to upgrade your hotel entertainment system. For hoteliers, there's a lot at stake. It’s a long-term investment decision that has a direct impact on the guest experience: Hospitality Tech’s 2019 Guest Engagement Technology study found that 72% of guests would return to a property when the tech they want is available. The right entertainment options are also important to guests: 40% of those same respondents said that Smart TVs and content streaming were a top consideration when choosing a hotel. What screen size is optimal? Should TVs be leveraged as a form of in room digital signage?  Do they want to control the TV with their mobile device? With such a major decision, which touches both hardware and software, we highly recommend going through a formal Request for Proposal process that allows you to engage vendors directly  so you can have 100% confidence that the decision you make is the best one for your property. We know it's intimidating --  but it doesn't have to be. We've broken down the various components of the decision, first looking at what the hotel needs, followed by the guests expectations and the best hardware and top hotel software to guide you through this high-stakes decision process. It’s a big one but we’ve got your back!   What To Look For in a Hospitality TV and Guest Entertainment System First and foremost it's important to understand the difference between consumer displays and commercial displays. While you could certainly go to a store and buy a bunch of smart TVs for your property, you may also want to consider the benefits of a hospitality-grade commercial tv solution. Displays that are ideally suited for hotels Customizability. Look for a system that allows you to do things like control access to specific features, customize menus, add personalized welcome greetings, manage content easily and generally adapt to your property’s needs as they evolve. Ideally, the in-room TV helps market your on-property amenities to bring you more incremental revenue.  Interoperability. If you're not planning on ripping out an existing system (or building one for a new property), you'll need to make sure that the system is compatible with existing infrastructure. Infrastructure. Streaming entertainment takes up a lot of bandwidth on WiFi. And even serving content through a hard-wired system requires infrastructure. So whether you are providing a mostly bring-your-own-device (BYOD) experience or a hybrid one that includes in-room entertainment options, you need to be sure that your system can deliver an interruption-free experience, even when your hotel is sold out. So, if you’re going with a cloud-based solution versus hosted on-premise, be sure that your property’s internet infrastructure can handle the constant streaming of entertainment.  Connectivity. If guests are going to be casting content from their devices to the TV, it needs to be easy. Carefully consider the steps guests need to go through to take advantage of BYOD.  Sound. Even the most crisp display can be ruined by poor sound. Be sure that your speakers are strong enough to deliver a good audio experience as well. For reference, check out Hilton’s Connected Room Platform, a personalized platform for guests to interact with various in-room technologies. It comes from a big brand (and thus isn’t necessarily affordable for all categories) but shows you the potential of aggregating entertainment and in-room functionality into a single platform for guests.   What Guests Want From Their In-Room TVs In-room entertainment has become a major factor in the guest experience. Nearly 75% of guests use in-room entertainment, and 28% said it is “very or extremely important” to their overall hotel experience. Guests prioritize modern in-room hotel technology so much that they would be willing to forgo amenities like a business center (34%), a fitness center (27%), spa (24%), or room service (15%). Whether via hotel-provided devices or their own, guests also want access to the entire hotel experience at their fingertips. For in-room technology specifically, most guests wanted to use TVs provided by the hotel (69%) versus their own devices (31%). Another guest survey from Oracle put personalization in focus, with 64% of those surveyed saying they would share their entertainment preferences so that the content could be pre-loaded in the room upon arrival. This aligns with the macro trend of personalization, as in-room entertainment is a visible and desirable place to add a “home-like” personal touch to the guest experience.  Guests prefer streaming their own content on different devices, depending on where they’re from. To distill this down, there are three core “wants” from guests: flexibility, control, and ultimately, simplicity. Flexibility. Give guests the flexibility to browse live TV, choose on-demand content, stream content from apps like Netflix, Hulu and HBO, or use their own devices to cast their own content to in-room TV. Control. Personalization is easier and more accurate when you provide the technology for guests to control and curate their own experience. Ideally, this technology works seamlessly across devices and channels to provide a single point of contact between guests, the hotel and its technology. Simplicity. Guests just want the technology to work flawlessly. As we all know, hotel operations are rarely that smooth.  Even so, we have to offer a simple, unfussy entertainment solution that anyone can figure out in a couple of minutes max. Tech that’s stress-free and easy to use its good tech! As guests demand that hotels invest more on the in-room experience, you’ll need to look carefully at how fast your WiFi is, how easy it is to connect devices to in-room TVs (Bluetooth and more HDMI ports), and generally what your property’s target demographic expectations are. In a world where more U.S. households subscribed to a streaming service than traditional TV (69% vs 65%), your hotel must keep up with how consumers prefer to consume content.   Choose Your Hardware: Hospitality TV Vendor Overviews  There are three primary hardware players in hospitality tv solutions:  Samsung, LG, and Phillips. Each offers different categories of television with varying viewing experiences and picture quality, from HDTVs (high definition) all the way to high-end 4K displays (ultra HD). Samsung Hospitality provides commercial-grade displays that can be used as lobby signage, F&B menus and in-room LED TVs. The company also has hotel versions of its Galaxy tablets, which can be used for check-in or in-room as a master remote control for the TV and other room tech. LG Hospitality LG has something the others don't: the CLOi, a robot porter that ferries guest luggage to and from their rooms. It’s a digital amenity that can certainly differentiate the guest experience!  Philips Hospitality has a two standout features for its hospitality TVs: simplified drag-and-drop system management and its Ambilight “immersive viewing experience” that splashes light on the wall behind the TV. It also uses Android, which makes it easy to add apps and develop interactive entertainment experiences.   Choose Your Content Software: Vendor Overviews Once you select your commercial grade TVs, you also need to have a way to get content on your displays. You have two options here, which can be used independently or together:  vertical entertainment, which are complete in-room entertainment platforms often accompanied by set top boxes, and streaming providers. Vertical Entertainment Platforms perform multiple functions for hotels. First, there’s the interactive guest room entertainment with live TV and  “over the top” native apps for streaming services such as Hulu, HBO and Netflix. Platform functionality can usually be extended guest messaging software, local destination recommendations, and info on other on-property amenities, such as spas and restaurants. Many also offer a hotel WiFi solution. These are usually priced as separate products but work together seamlessly across property.   Some of the hardware OEMs have their own software for hospitality such as Samsung Lynk which allows for centralized TV management from a single end point. Enseo is a complete platform for hotels. As a hospitality integrator, it pulls together and It was one of the first to offer Netflix, which allows guests to enjoy Netflix content from their rooms (either via a logged-in account or as a guest). Sonifi’s interactive content and connectivity solution is found in 1.2 million hotel rooms. It has broadband connectivity and interactive content, but what really sets it apart is its advertising media solution that builds incremental advertising revenue into its platform as well as video-on-demand and pay per view solutions. Evolve by DISH combines the company’s flagship live TV with streaming apps. The service uses Android-based hardware in guest rooms, which also has Chromecast so guests can stream their own content and native apps for further customization. The software is compatible with 4K TVs and can stream Netflix 4K content. Streaming and Internet Providers offer a combination of cloud-based streaming and internet services. The larger companies mostly offer access to internet and cable TV content, and really lean into the value proposition of being a secure, capital-efficient platform for providing both on-property connectivity and content. The big players in providing both internet and TV services are:  Comcast Business TV for Hotels puts a lineup of 80+ channels into guest rooms throughout the U.S. The service can be spotty and pricing somewhat high, according to some HTR reviewers. But the service is “tolerant to weather compared to satellite signals” and “great content/channel selection.” Spectrum Enterprise combines TV, managed WiFi, fiber internet, voice and ethernet services Cox Business is a regionally-relevant option for hotels looking to combine hospitality WiFi and IT with TV service. For limited-service hotels, boutiques, vacation rentals and others looking to offer entertainment that’s both affordable and guest-centric, streaming devices such as Google Chromecast, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV give guests access to premium content (with a signed-in account) and the option to stream their own content to the in-room display.  HBO and Netflix have entered agreements with major brands like Marriott and Hilton, as well as with several vertical entertainment platforms to give guests access to those services in-room. Guests can either sign in to see their own content options or use the service for free without logging in.   When Selecting a Hospitality TV Vendor it's About Hardware + Software One final consideration is whether or not the hardware and software is built in a way that is at least somewhat future-proof.  You should get a good five years out of your hardware, and your software should come from a vendor that offers frequent updates according to the latest trends in entertainment and guest expectations. One major shift -- perhaps accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic -- is towards virtual reality content. The tech has been “emerging” and “just around the corner” for years but as more people experience it from the comfort of their own homes, they may eventually begin to expect some sort of VR-enabled experiences at hotels. Definitely a trend to monitor! “64% of hotel operators were likely to use VR to provide on-property entertainment.” -Oracle Hotel 2025 As we’ve seen time and again, traveler expectations can evolve slowly or change quite rapidly. Seek out systems that adapt to changing needs. Investing in a new hotel entertainment system isn't for the faint of heart. It's expensive. To make this expense more digestible, look for a system that is at least mostly future-proof for the next five years. The vendor should be able to support the technology as it stands with software updates, so that you can extend the life of your in-room technology for as long as possible -- without sacrificing the guest experience.  

Hospitality Innovation is Thriving Despite the Crisis (Q2 Innovation Report)

by
Jordan Hollander
1 week ago

Innovation is alive and well in hospitality. Don't believe us? Check out the 47 new hospitality innovations that we cover in this report.  In the age of coronavirus we all catch ourselves thinking that the world is coming to an end from time to time. Don't worry, this article has nothing to do with coronavirus (but it's hard not to address the elephant in the room these days). In order to keep this article COVID free, let's run a scenario analysis using Hotel Tech Report's Innovation Wager™.  The wager considers four alternate universes based on two axes.  On our X axis we consider two worlds: Scenario A considers optimal decision making if the hotel industry does not recover, Scenario B considers what to do if you believe that it will. On our Y axis we consider what happens if we improve the way we do business with new technology and processes.  The wager shows us that in any potential outcome, it's always in our interest to improve the way we operate our businesses.  The only unacceptable outcome is the one where the world does not come to an end and we do not improve our tech and hotel operations processes.   So the next question is how did we choose our Y axis (i.e. update my hotel's tech and operations)?  The math is simple, if your hotel group's breakeven is at 25-30% occupancy and you're currently running at 0% you are essentially racing against time to hit that occupancy.  Global travel demand is unfortunately out of your control, so what can you do to get there as quickly as possible? You can improve your margins to lower your breakeven occupancy by getting more efficient at your property.  For this you may explore technology like keyless entry or staff collaboration tools to help your slimmed down team do more with less.  You can sell long term group business today to bring deposit revenue in ahead of those bookings and for that you'll need airtight sales tech and processes.  You could also get more efficient at acquiring guests to hit that 25-30% occupancy rate faster. In this article, we showcase 47 hospitality innovations that have been launched in the crisis.  As you explore ways to improve your margins, get smarter at guest acquisition and more - this list can put you on the cutting edge.  We've divided the article into five categories: Revenue Management Innovations Marketing Innovations Operational Innovations Guest Experience Innovations Sales and Meetings Innovations     BONUS: Look for the contactless badge next to products in the innovation report to identify technologies that will help your hotel go contactless, boost your recovery efforts and prepare now for the inevitable changes that are coming.  The tools have functionality that will enable you limit human physical contact to pre-emptively prepare for new government regulations and even more importantly, guest expectations.   Q2 Innovations in Revenue Management   1. OTA Insight Market Insight Tool OTA Insight’s Market Insight tool offers a smarter way to predict demand and price your rooms accordingly. Market Insight gathers and analyzes data from hotel web searches, flight data, events, holidays, online reviews, weather forecasts, and alternative lodging inventory to give your revenue team location-specific insights segmented into different customer groups. Learn more about your target guest’s booking intent and use real-time market trends to capitalize on revenue opportunities before your competition. 2. SiteMinder Insights SiteMinder Insights allows hotels to be smarter about their sales and marketing strategies while maintaining their brand integrity. This tool has monitoring and reporting capabilities that provide hoteliers a single place to access clear and actionable data on their local market, business performance and guests. This integration can help hoteliers make more informed decisions about hotel pricing and distribution, based on impartial data, as well as reveal insights that help get ahead of the competition. 3. Infor Price Optimizator Infor Hospitality Price Optimizer (HPO) is a mobile-first app that helps hotels price their rooms in a more accurate and timely manner. The algorithms that drive the app replicate the approach the guest takes to book a room: the system data from star ratings, location, pricing, and reviews to select which hotels are the valid competitors that should influence the pricing decision. he system automatically detects seasons and events for a dynamic pricing solution that updates throughout the day as needed.   4. HotelIQ Monthly Forecasting HotelIQ has been working on a Monthly Forecasting & Budgeting Tool that can generate forecasts and budgets for up to 12 months at a time. The platform pulls your real-time PMS data to use as a baseline, automating the burdensome task of maintaining spreadsheets and forecasting by hand. Easily edit figures, track performance, and generate market segment level forecasts and budgets.   5. IDeaS RevPlan IDeaS RevPlan is a total revenue forecasting, planning and enterprise consolidation tool. RevPlan can automate scientific forecasting, budgeting and financial submission for your entire property – from rooms to food & beverage and other income revenue streams. Save time and manual effort while driving greater profitability: RevPlan provides hotels the ability to forecast accurately and precisely.   6. RateGain MarketDRONE RateGain is launching MarketDRONE, a new feature for its rate intelligence platform OPTIMA. MarketDRONE tracks intra-day rates and rate-plan changes by hotels in real-time. Whenever a competitive hotel makes a rate change, your revenue manager receives an alert. Hotels are constantly changing rates for existing plans and introducing new rate plans close to check-in-date to sell off their unsold inventory and maximize revenue. As such, a revenue manager, on an average, may lose $1,000 or more per day by not acting on these intra-day market changes in real-time. With MarketDRONE, revenue managers do not have to pull out rate shopping reports on a daily basis to make the strategic decisions. The instant alerts provide them the market insights on the fly and basis that they can take the recommended actions on the go.   7. HotelTime Instant Reporting HotelTime Solutions is debuting Instant Reporting, a reporting and forecasting tool that helps revenue managers working at multi-location properties get a clear picture on their distribution. It aggregates data on key metrics across different properties. This tool makes it easy to get accurate reports, merging revenue center statistics at the chain level.   8. Hotelchamp Demand Tracker Hotelchamp’s new demand tracker will give revenue managers insight into how much demand there is predicted for future stay dates in their hotel. Set up automatic alerts to be notified when demand increases for a specific stay date. Get insights for a specific demand period to better predict trends in revenue.   9. HotelPartner Synergy Model HotelPartner’s synergy model is a new service offering for individual hoteliers that combines manpower, technology, and expertise in one package. The firm will offer a revenue management tool as well as the team to use it; the synergy model offers a blend of consulting, technology, and a revenue management solution tailored to your property.   10. 5stelle Business Intelligence 5stelle* is introducing a new business intelligence tool that provides 18 interactive dashboards. Get reporting on your reservation lead time, month-to-date revenue and occupancy, RevPAR analysis, and more all in one place.   11. Fairmas Advanced Revenue Planner Fairmas Advanced Revenue Planner simplifies the planning and controlling of all hotel revenues, either by market segment or by account line item, on a daily or monthly basis. The platform is built for different user groups – from department managers who need to plan on the operational level, to revenue managers for a detailed view of the total hotel, and to the general managers who can refer to its consolidated view. The  Pickup Planning feature allows a different way of planning that may be a more realistic approach depending on the day-to-day situation (e.g., How many more rooms do I still need to pick up to achieve my goal?).     Q2 Innovations in Hotel Marketing   12. Revinate Guest Data Platform Revinate’s Guest Data Platform is another take on consolidating guest information to deliver the insights hotel managers can use to drive direct bookings, provide a great guest experience, and increase profit. The Guest Data Platform combines guest data into rich, unified profiles that can inform your sales and marketing campaigns.   13. SHR Maverick CRM SHR Maverick™ CRM by Sceptre Hospitality Resources LLC is a new CRM system that unlocks information from third-party providers. This CRM shows your hotel data about customers no matter where they booked: direct, or through an OTA. Maverick gives hoteliers access to clean, consolidated guest data, including user behavior and booking habits. The platform includes a loyalty and rewards platform and integrates with Windsurfer CRS, Windsurfer CRO, Windsurfer IBE, and a built-in Campaign Management Platform.   14. D-EDGE CRM D-EDGE launched Guest Management, a CRM tool that integrates with the brand’s existing CRS product. Guest Management offers hoteliers a way to centralize data from your PMS, CRS, website, and other sources into one guest profile. By consolidating all data about each guest in one place, your team can more easily send specific, customized offers to guests, driving guest satisfaction and loyalty. 15. Dailypoint Content Bot The dailypoint Content Bot is a tool which pushes email communication finally to an individual experience with each guest. The bot pulls data from guest profiles in dailypoint to select content pieces from a library, offering individualized, concierge-style recommendations based on each individual’s unique needs. Content Bot allows your marketing team to get hyper-focused with messaging. Send a newsletter customized per person, rather than per target group.   16. Suiteness OTA Distribution Suiteness launched a partnership with Booking.com for travelers to book connecting hotel rooms and suites through Booking.com. When connecting rooms are available, they are booked 3.3x more often than multi-bedroom suites in the same hotel. Customer segments like families and groups are heading to AirBnB in droves because they demand more space and don’t want to risk showing up at your property only to find out they can’t get connecting rooms. Give them peace of mind and you’re more likely to win their booking.   17. RoomRacoon Integrated Upselling RoomRaccoon is developing an integrated upselling tool for its hotel management system.  This will allow clients of its HMS to offer add-ons like breakfast or room upgrades prior to arrival.  While there are quite a few standalone upselling tools on the market, RoomRaccoon is one of the first HMS players to offer this functionality.   18. AskSuite Booking Engine Chatbot AskSuite’s latest integration syncs your booking engine with their chatbot to recapture a guest who may be having trouble booking directly. For instance, if a traveler tries to book a room on an unavailable date, the chatbot will automatically respond with a message that there are no rooms available and suggest the next earliest date with availability. Or, the chatbot can be set up to suggest a nearby property from the same chain that does have availability. This integration helps your reservation team work more productively, captures more direct bookings, and standardizes customer service messaging on your site. Asksuite is also in the process of building a Smart Chat Distribution tool that can matches a reservation agent to an open chat, helping large reservation teams coordinate their responses to individual customers. Your property defines specific rules – using triggers such as language, communication channel, type of inquiry, and more – and the algorithm uses these qualifiers to send an open request to the right customer service representative. The goal is to improve your property’s customer service and make it easier for your team to work efficiently.   19. Profitroom WebAssistant Profitroom’s WebAssistant is a new tool for creating and maintaining your hotel website. The tool is built specifically for the hotel industry, with templates designed to set up booking pages that drive direct bookings as well as unlimited data transfer and automated free updates. This website builder is an option for hotel properties that do not have the budget to work with a digital marketing agency to set up their site.   20. Quicktext Lead Generation Quicktext’s chatbot aims to improve your sales cycle by generating new leads for your sales team. When a customer engages with this chatbot, the program checks your CRM to see if this user exists; if they do, the tool will add any missing contact details and customer interests as determined through the chat interaction. If this is a new customer, the bot will upload insights into your CRM that can be used by your sales and marketing team to send more personalized offers and marketing messages. The Quicktext bot interacts with 9% of online visitors each month; if you have 3,000 visitors every month, Quicktext will create 270 new leads to whom your team can market.   21. myhotelshop GmbH Link Travel Ads myhotelshop GmbH recently launched Link Travel Ads, a metasearch marketing platform for hotel chains, booking engines, and hotel marketing agencies. This tool is built specifically for properties that have struggled to run, manage and report metasearch marketing campaigns. Link Travel Ads will take you through the process from start to finish. With this tool, one account manager can manage campaigns for more than 500 different properties, with reporting and invoicing all in one place.   22. Experience Hotel Dedupe Experience Hotel, like D-EDGE, is trying to solve the problem many hotels have: multiple entries for the same guest. Hotel brands that have multiple properties with multiple data sources (the restaurant, spa, reservation system, etc.) tend to have duplicate profiles for the same guest in their PMS. Experience Hotel’s approach is Unified Customer Repository (UCR), a system that can identify all the duplicates in your guest list and combine every guest's details in one single profile. This allows your team to see an entire guest history in one place, and use insights from multiple sources to deliver personalized messages and offers.   Q2 Hotel Operations Innovations   23. hotelkit Facility Management Hotelkit debuted a new Facility Management platform that enables maintenance teams to  plan, schedule, and track corrective and preventive maintenance tasks. The tool help maintenance managers allocate resources such as time, money, and employees more effectively, and can automate and oversee daily maintenance routines. Get data and reporting on energy consumption or wear and tear of equipment to predict future expenses.   24. Mews Online Check-Out Mews Systems now offers an online check out feature aimed at reducing lines at the front desk and streamlining your property’s operations. Guests can checkout online without having to stand in a queue before departure; the platform sends housekeeping an alert once the guest has left, and your revenue managers can start upselling early check ins. Mews Online Checkout gives time back to guests and hoteliers alike with essential automation to guests who are in a hurry and hotels who are trying to turn around rooms.   25. HelloShift Inventory Management HelloShift is introducing Inventory Management to systemize the process of ordering and maintaining your stock of hotel supplies – parts, tools, equipment, linen, guest amenities, and more. Store detailed information about your supplies (warranty, brand, model, etc.), automate reordering, and reconcile inventory levels with regular checks. Reduce error that can lead to over and under-stocking, and reduce costs associated with ordering the wrong amount of supplies.   26. Bookboost Multi-Property Inbox Bookboost Guest Messaging added an all-in-one inbox with multi-property function that integrates messages from a number of channels into one inbox. Manage messages from your website, email, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and more in one platform. This allows one team member to oversee one unified inbox – a big gain in efficiency, especially for multi-property hotels.   27. Sertifi eConfirmations Sertifi eConfirmations allows travel companies to send payment digitally to travel suppliers (e.g., your hotel). Receive corporate credit card payments, virtual card payments along with the corresponding payment instructions, and guest information, such as check-in time and room preference, all at once – quickly and securely. All payment data is tokenized and transferred in a PCI compliant manner. Offer a smooth, hassle-free payment experience for corporate travelers.   28. Beekeeper Task Management Beekeeper’s Whispr Partnership will help frontline workers learn their job duties more quickly and help add consistency to your operations. Whispr transmits “motivational audio messages”, as well as work instructions in your employee’s preferred language through Beekeeper’s operational communication platform. Facilitate communication between your housekeeping team and management in an innovative and authentic way.   29. Telkonet Ecoinput Telkonet introduces EcoInput, a simple way to save energy and reduce your costs. EcoInput turns any light switch into an energy management device. Using the Zigbee wireless protocol, lighting can be controlled locally – e.g., guests can use the light switch as normal – or remotely via software or mobile control. Add sustainability and energy savings to your property without sacrificing guest experience.   30. Hoxell Quality Operations Hoxell has a new tool called Quality Operations. With Quality Operations, members of your team can send messages, create and assign tasks, and digitize workflows to improve productivity. The platform aims to streamline housekeeping activities, create direct communication channels, and improve reporting by reducing friction in communication and knocking down siloed reporting structures.   31. Mister Booking Payment Automation Mister Booking’s Payment Automation feature offers a simple way to process payment from your Hotel Management System. All credit cards collected as guarantee from OTA or booking engine can be verified and pre-authorized directly from the PMS. Automate advanced payments for all non-cancellable and non-refundable reservations, according to their payment conditions. It will save your team time by automating the administrative burden of payment verification.   Q2 Guest Experience Innovations   32. Crave AppLess Mobile Crave unveiled AppLess™ Mobile, a tool that gives guests access to guest services through location-specific QR codes. Guests simply scan a QR code and choose from the services you offer. Create multiple custom QR codes and post them at different points throughout your property: for instance, a QR code for ordering drinks at the bar, a QR code for catering in a meeting room, a QR code for more towels by the pool. AppLess™ enables frictionless digital experiences for consumers to access services on their own devices, without the need to download a mobile app. Includes payment technologies such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.   33. SuitePad Premium Docking Station SuitePad has two new products to share, the SuitePad Premium Docking Station and the SuitePad 10" Tablet. The SuitPad 10 is a premium version of their previous model, featuring a 1920 x 1200px resolution screen, larger battery for longer use, and 2GB of RAM for smoother content delivery. The docking station includes new features such as a bluetooth speaker, in-room presence sensor, and telephone handset. These features increase your property’s ability to send offers to guests at the right moment, and provide a premium in-room technology experience.   34. Volara Google Interpreter Volara introduced Google Assistant Interpreter Mode for Hospitality, a partnership with Google that facilitates real-time conversations with guests through instant translation. The tool translates between 29 different languages to help your staff welcome guests from diverse language backgrounds. Improve the guest experience and solicit reviews in multiple languages with this quick and easy translation platform. 39. TrustYou On-Site QR Feedback TrustYou’s On-Site Solutions Beta is a new product that solicits feedback during the guest stay using a QR code or short URL. This survey tool proactively asks each guest about their stay, escalating any issues occurring at your hotel for immediate attention. One hotel property that tested this product was able to increase their post-stay review scores by 3.8 points by asking for feedback in real-time.   35. Travel Appeal Destination Report Travel Appeal’s On-demand Destination Reports are tailor made for independent and chain hotels, DMOs, and tour operators looking for deeper information about their territory. These reports are available for any city, region, or territory within a few days, and can be used to analyze visitor groups, sentiment scores, trends, competitors, online channels, seasonality, and more. Compare different time periods (up to three years back) and learn about the reputation of the destination, individual sectors (F&B, retail, experiences, and more), and what topics are most discussed in relation to your specific area. Know what to highlight in your marketing campaign and help your concierge team craft the perfect experience for your guests.   36. LoungUp WhatsApp Messaging LoungeUp debuted its new WhatsApp Messaging function, adding a new way to communicate with guests. Use this tool to initiate contact with each customer before they arrive over WhatsApp. Send guests a way to check-in in advance, pay their deposit, book a shuttle to the hotel, or offer an upgrade. Automate some of the time-consuming administrative process and offer real, conversational exchanges with guests. With 1.5 billion worldwide users per month (as of January, 2019) worldwide, WhatsApp is the number one messaging platform, ahead of Facebook Messenger (1.3), Wechat (1.1), Skype (0.3), Snapchat, Viber and Line.   37. Zaplox Mobile Check-in Zaplox Premium iterates on Zaplox’s original product with new mobile-check in and mobile key functionality. This app integrates with most leading PMS and lock systems to streamline check-in. The custom-branded app allows your property to connect with guests before, during, and after their stay. Guests can use the Zaplox app to check-in, preauthorize their credit card, and complete the guest registration before they arrive at the hotel. Includes mobile keys with integration with lock vendors ASSA ABLOY, dormakaba and SALTO systems as well as large PMS providers, such as Oracle, Agilysys, protel, StayNTouch, Maestro, and more.   38. MyStay Mobile Check-in MyStay Check-in Agent is a tablet-based software solution that can make your check-in process 100% digital at the front desk and anywhere at your hotel. The tablet scans guest documents, and then prompts the guest to add missing information, agree to house rules, and sign the check-in card. This increases the accuracy of your guest data, streamlines the check-in process, and allows your team to focus on the guest experience rather than data entry.     Q2 Sales & Group Travel Innovations   39. OPERA Sales & Event Management Oracle’s OPERA Sales and Event Management Cloud (OSEM) helps hotels reduce the extra time spent managing data entry related to events. OSEM provides a single view of all a hotel’s event booking details and revenue across rooms and event spaces for easier audit and analysis. Properties can increase their event revenue by optimizing inventory, bookings, streamlining logistics and providing smooth event logistics. The tool helps streamline operations, increase communication and cooperation across departments, and respond faster to customers.   40. Atomize Group Booking Pricing Module Atomize announced fresh updates to its Group Booking Pricing Module with a tool that helps revenue managers to instantly calculate the optimal rate for groups. This module now presents both the total recommended price and displaced transient revenue for the group, along with details such as prices per room type and date. A separate module introduces the ability to email yourself the group pricing recommendation for future reference.   41. MeetingPackage Analytics MeetingPackage has a new analytics extension for meetings and events bookings that allows you to advertise your meetings and events the same way you would advertise your hotel rooms. The analytics extension allows Google Analytics to track the full customer journey, capturing the total revenue of the meeting/event. Measure the booking process from the very first ad click until the event date, and make smarter marketing decisions on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn to drive valuable direct traffic.   42. SABA Hospitality Digital Conference Tool SABA Hospitality’s SABA Conference is a digital conference tool that provides automatic answers to the questions and requests of conference hosts and attendees directly to their mobile devices. From conference information, directions and amenities, and information on the surrounding area, all information is easily accessible in multiple languages, and can be presented in any format (e.g. links, videos, text, maps and images). Users don’t need to download a thing, making it easier for conference organizers to ensure all relevant information is received by attendees. Hosts and property operators simply enter the relevant information, and the platform presents it in a branded and engaging way.   43. EVENTMACHINE Instant Quote EVENTMACHINE IQ Instant Quote automatically plans and quotes events based on a few simple inputs, like date or event type. Rather than tasking an event manager to manually select and calculate event spaces, catering and equipment. Eventmachine IQ can reduce that manual effort. Get instant, custom quotes emailed in a professional PDF proposal.   44. Get Into MoRe Strategy Dashboard Get Into MoRe has built a new Strategy Dashboard advises whether or not you should allow an inquiry to proceed with booking your events space. One small event could easily reserve a space and prevent a more profitable, large event. Strategy Dashboard uses a red light/green light system to tell you if an inquiry is worth accepting – or if you should hold out for another booking request.   45. THYNK Meetings Management THYNK has a new product, MYCE, a customer-centric meeting events and venue management system. The flexible, cloud-based system uses Salesforce to automate the sales process follow-up with task automation and two-way integration with your PMS, POS, and other applications. Assign tasks across departments and add the group booking module to make it easier to manage event bookings.   Q2 New Innovations in Food & Beverage   46. Bbot Smart Ordering System Bbot Smart Ordering system allows guests to order room service on their phone from their room without downloading an app or signing up for a new service and integrates with popular hotel PMS and POS systems.  Guests order and pay for food + drinks right from their room without having to call down, which means you save on labor and menu management.  Bbot recently rolled out new PMS integrations including Mews & Opera.                   47. Apicbase's Production Planning Tool Apicbase’s Production Planning tool streamlines kitchen operations at your property by making food production reliable and repeatable. Save money and reduce food waste by up to 30% with automated to-do lists, real-time inventory updates, and a function that allows your team to predict how many quantities will be needed at each meal. Prep only what you need and make the most of ingredients in your pantry to lower your food budget.  

Hotel Technology: 8 Trends to Watch in 2020

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

In 2017, Uber predicted that the company would launch flying car ridesharing by the end of 2020. That hasn’t quite panned out, obviously – joining the list of Jetsons-like technology of the future that never lived up to the hype. For those of us keeping an eye on technology in hotels, it can be difficult to discern what trends are here to stay and what trends are simply a marketing stunt. We can’t predict what will happen in the future, but we can watch industry trends as leading indicators. That’s just what we’ve done to compile this list of trends that we believe are worth watching in 2020. From white labeling to the decline of OTA dominance, here’s where we predict hotel technology will go this year. 1. SaaS is exploding 2. APIs are mainstream 3. Guest room technology innovation 4. Privacy & cybersecurity 5. OTAs struggling 6. WiFi 6 7. Big data 8. Digital hotel companies   SaaS is Exploding Interest in investing in hotel technology has slowly ramped up in recent years. Venture capitalists are finally starting to recognize the opportunity to invest in tools and platforms that allow hotels to capture new levels of hotel operations efficiency and revenue growth. “Despite all the innovation that has taken place in the sector over the last decade, there remains massive, untapped opportunity and potential in many categories within the hospitality arena. Despite being one of the largest and most dynamic segments of the US and global economy, penetration of cloud-based technologies in the segment remains incredibly low, and the vendor landscape remains tremendously fragmented on a global basis,” says Matt Melymuka, co-founder and partner at PeakSpan Capital. Those untapped opportunities that Melymuka references? Venture capitalists are starting to catch on. This month, Cloudbeds announced a Series C minority investment round of $82 million, led by Viking Global Investors with participation from PeakSpan Capital, Recruit Co., Ltd., Counterpart Ventures, and Cultivation Capital. Cloudbeds offers an all-in-one suite of tools, including a property management system, channel manager, booking engine, and revenue manager, growing revenue and automating workflows at more than 20,000 properties. Their Series C fundraising success indicates a growing appetite among investors for cloud-based, low-cost solutions that seamlessly communicate across platforms to target, acquire, and retain guests. Mews Systems, another top-ranked, cloud-based property management system, raised $33 million in its Series B funding round led by Battery Ventures. “As hotel and other hospitality property owners look to address the challenge of competition from peer-to-peer platforms like Airbnb, Mews provides hoteliers with the tools to not have to worry about the day-to-day of running the business, and instead focus on improving guest experience and helping travelers have the trip of a lifetime,” said Sanjiv Kalevar, Principal at Battery Ventures. Oaky, one of the industry’s leading upselling tools, raised a Series A funding round of $9.5 million led by PeakScan Capital. Oaky’s appeal to investors stems from the app’s data-driven approach to driving incremental revenue. Their deep understanding of customer behavior makes Oaky one of the top-rated upselling tools on the market today. VCs aren’t the only stakeholders interested in investing in hotel tech. Zingle, a guest-messaging software, was acquired by Medallia, an experience management company, for a $42 million cash deal in 2019. Hotels use Zingle’s messaging tools to deliver five-star service at scale; Medallia’s investment in Zingle gives hotels the opportunity to provide frictionless guest service and streamline time-consuming interactions, such as check-in. Life House, a tech-first hotel experience, shows proof-of-concept: that hotels that invest in technology drive higher revenue, better guest reviews, and a higher star-rating. Life House’s market traction epitomizes the appetite for investing in hotel tech. The hospitality startup closed a $30 million Series B from a large group of investors led by Thayer Ventures. “Life House is an unusual company in that it started out as a software provider aimed at fixing ‘the broken and complex hotel operational model’ before morphing into a combination of tech provider, hotel manager and boutique hotel brand,” reports Crunchbase. Last but not least in the litany of hotel tech brands seeing interest from investors, SiteMinder raised $70 million led by BlackRock, valuing the company at $750 million – and making it the industry’s first unicorn. SiteMinder, like Cloudbeds, offers an end-to-end tech solution: a channel manager, online booking engine, website builder, and more. Its early success at over 35,000 properties shows that this market is only growing.    APIs are Mainstream White labeling is a practice in which a product – in this case, hotel software – is manufactured by a third party and uses branding by the purchaser, or marketer, so that the end product appears to have been produced by the purchaser. “The advantage is that a single company does not need to do it all: one firm can concentrate on producing the product; another on marketing it; and another can focus on selling it, each according to its expertise and preference,” writes Investopedia. White labeling has already begun in the hotel industry without hoteliers even knowing it. Property management systems that offer channel management integrations are usually white labelling their channel managers from other vendors. We believe this trend will continue, especially in the revenue management space where white labeling can solve two distinct problems: strategy and tactical management. Most revenue management systems focus on reporting and data visualization; the addition of white label software to the backend of an RMS can improve price optimization, letting hoteliers spend their time on higher value tasks and strategic revenue management. Along with white labeling, APIs are adding efficiency to hotel technology by integrating your tech stack and helping your tools talk to one another. An API, application programming interface, is simply a messenger of data between applications. APIs allow your various hotel technology tools and programs to work together, connecting your RMS to a PMS, or your PMS to your upsell software, or your business intelligence software to your PMS. An API makes your technology user-friendly and efficient; when your tools work together, you capture each platform’s full capabilities. API penetration in the hotel tech market has opened up a world of opportunities for property owners. For instance, feeding data from your PMS into a business intelligence tool leads to real, operational data to analyze trends and provide recommendations for better marketing campaigns, smarter staffing decisions, seasonal trends, and market competition. Hotels that are comfortable using APIs can automate tasks that take up much of their employee’s time with manual data entry.   Guest Room Technology Innovation Guests around the world have unprecedented convenience at home. The number of voice-controlled and streaming services that have proliferated the home in recent years is unprecedented: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for streaming; Alexa, Google Home, and Amazon Echo for voice; Creston, Nest, and other smart-home devices; Uber Eats, Door Dash, and Caviar for food delivery at the touch of a button. On-demand convenience dominates our lives, and guests expect this level of ease from their hotel experience as well. Hotels are catching on, adding convenience through streaming, voice activation, guest-room tablets, and food ordering tech. “Unlike other amenities that are requested but not necessarily used, streaming services are used on average by 40% of rooms—and they’re used longer than their cable counterparts,” Gavin Philipp, VP of operations at Charlestowne Hotels told Hotel News Now. The Amazon Fire Stick, Roku streaming stick, and Apple TV are all low-cost, easy-to-implement tools that some guests are even bringing with them. Hilton is taking a different approach, partnering with Netflix to allow guests to control their streaming straight from the Hilton Honors mobile app. As far as voice-activation, Volara is leading the way in providing a thoughtful, Alexa-esque guest-room solution. Volara integrates with the most popular work order management systems so that guests can make requests and get confirmation when the item or service they need will be delivered. It also integrates with in-room entertainment, eliminating the pain point of touching a germy remote control. Volara’s success is more than gimmicky – their product allows properties to interact with guests in a fun and scalable way. Guest room tablets provide convenience in a simple, straightforward upgrade that improves guest satisfaction scores virtually instantaneously. Tablets like those from Crave Interactive allow guests to customize their experience at will, booking spa appointments, taking advantage of F&B offers, and exploring local tours. And for savvy marketing managers, tablets provide a new channel through which to send targeted, automated messages generating $5,000 per month in additional revenue. Lastly, hotels are replicating the Uber Eats experience with tools like 2nd Kitchen and Bbot. 2nd Kitchen is a godsend for hotels without a kitchen on-site: guests can order room service from restaurants near your hotel, taking care of care of orders, menus, payment, fulfillment, and customer support for your property. Bbot’s mobile ordering technology gives guests a way to order and pay for food and drinks from their phones, cutting down on labor and menu management at your property. For guests, no need to call down, sign a receipt or spend time waiting in line for service.   Privacy & Cybersecurity Hotels are a prime target for hackers. “Only about 25% of all U.S. businesses, including hotel operators, are fully compliant with current data security best practices. That means that three out of four are not and are potential disasters waiting to happen,” reported one cybersecurity expert. Numerous high-profile malware attacks on the hotel industry have led to hundreds of millions of guests’ data being compromised and millions of dollars in damage. Just this February, MGM Resorts revealed they were the target of a massive data breach that compromised personal information for more than 10.6 million guests. Files leaked in the MGM attack included information on celebrities, chief executives of technology companies, reporters and government officials, according to Skift. With this trend on the rise, hotels are being forced to get smart about security. Property owners must do their research in selecting tech tools that provide multilayer security, data protection, secure transactions, and compliance with international payment and data privacy standards. Hotels must regularly host training to their staff on the proper way to handle personal information, comply with privacy regulations such as the GDPR, and change their access credentials regularly. The many tech innovations we see penetrating the market require constant vigilance of cybersecurity best practices, regular updates to security software, and dedication to routine testing and threat assessment.   OTAs are Struggling Expedia and Booking have taken some pretty big hits in recent months. Expedia’s shares ended 2019 down 4%, a slight decline but significant in comparison to the S&P 500, which returned 29%. Booking.com’s stock finished down 11% in January 2020 (in part due to COVID-19). Why the dive in stock price? There are two factors outside Coronavirus that are impacting OTAs. First, hotels are getting better at capturing direct bookings. Hotel tech like direct booking platforms, metasearch ad managers, and messaging integrations help properties draw more visitors to their site and convert more direct bookings, circumventing the high OTA commissions in the process. Direct booking tools that connect a property’s PMS, parity, behavioral and demographic data across the entire booking journey has put hotels on even footing with OTAs when it comes to winning bookings. Secondly, Google has entered the travel market in a big way. Google has expanded from traditional AdWords to include hotels everywhere via its Hotel Ads product. Google has historically been the source for much of OTAs inbound demand, and now that the platform is a direct competitor, OTAs are vulnerable unless they pay billions of dollars each year to Google to ensure they show up high in search results and get clicks from travel planners. Free traffic is “shrinking all the time”, Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom explained to analysts.   WiFi 6 5G may be getting all the buzz, but for property owners, WiFi 6 is much more relevant. WiFi 6 is the term used to describe the next iteration of Wifi, a faster, more efficient connection enabled through new technologies. WiFi 6 is about 30% faster than our current WiFi. This might not sound that impressive at first glance, but considering how many devices we’re adding to our WiFi networks, the increase in speed is dramatic. Like 5G, WiFi 6 will have obvious implications for guests who use their smartphones to book and manage their stay. But beyond the guest experience, hotels can take advantage of faster WiFi to power all those streaming, tablet, and voice-activated devices. With WiFi 6, your property can leverage in-room technology to provide better service, driving positive guest reviews and repeat business. Smart thermostats, smart speakers, and smart locks will all perform better with the adoption of WiFi 6 over the next five years.   Big Data Investors in Oaky already recognize this next insight: data has become the world’s most valuable resource. The sooner you start to mine guest data for better customer insights, the better positioned your property will be against your competition. Why is data so valuable? “Data are now part of every sector and function of the global economy and, like other essential factors of production such as hard assets and human capital, much of modern economic activity simply could not take place without them,” argues McKinsey. Data can fuel smarter marketing campaigns, inform your pricing, and help you capture a higher market share than your competitors by knowing your guests on a deeper level. Hoteliers are just starting to realize the potential of its guest data. Earlier this year, Revinate launched the hotel industry's first Guest Data Platform to aggregate, clean and deliver rich guest profiles for hotels and property groups of all sizes. The platform combines data from multiple sources to provide a complete picture of a hotel’s guests, delivering the information needed to increase guest satisfaction scores, direct bookings, and ultimately, profit. An acquisition by CoStar Group put a dollar figure on just how much hotel industry data is worth. The Group purchased STR for $450 million in cash in the fall of 2019. STR aggregates data from more than 65,000 properties worldwide, distributing more than 1 million reports each month. That amount of data synthesized into nice reports? Priceless.   Digital Hotel Companies All these trends – the flow of VC cash into hotel tech, the rise of consumer-convenience tech, the use of white-label software and APIs – means the landscape of the hotel industry is changing. New competitors are challenging old management companies that haven’t innovated enough.  These next-gen properties are sometimes called hometels (home+hotel), or more generally, alternative lodging.  Brands in the alternative lodging sector include Stay Alfred, Sonder, The Guild Hotels and to some extent groups such as Selina and OYO.  VCs seem to love these alternative lodging options. Sonder, for instance, hit $100M in revenue thanks to its venture capital-fueled growth; the brand raised a $225M Series D and projected $313M in forward 12-months revenue (2019/2020). The biggest distraction or barrier these next-gen hotels face is that they’re taking the wrong approach to tech. The companies that win will be the ones who stop acting like tech companies – using buzzwords like AI and virtual concierge – and focus on being more innovative and agile real estate businesses than traditional market players today. Those that succeed will be tech-enabled businesses; not tech businesses. They will be better at buying and using tech components via APIs and lean infrastructure, but be founded on sound business principles enabled by the industry’s best tech tools. 

Using Maslow's Hierarchy to Understand Guest Needs

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Are you wondering how to connect with your guests? No, we’re not talking about interacting with them over social media. We’re talking about really connecting with guests, tapping into their needs and wants. If you want to build stronger guest loyalty and create the most positive experiences at your hotel, then you need to understand exactly what guests need, from their basic physiological needs up to their need for personal growth and fulfillment. In this article, we’ll explain how Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs can help you reveal what guests really want and walk you through some Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs examples in real life. And in doing so, you can start thinking about how you can tailor your hotel’s guest experience to truly deliver surprise and delighted through elevated hospitality experiences.   What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Before we dive in, you may be scratching your head and thinking “Maslow who?” If you took a psychology course in college, the concept might be familiar, but let’s start with a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs definition. In studying human behavior and what motivates people, Maslow proposed that there are five categories of “needs” that drive people forward: Physiological needs: food, water, shelter, sleep Safety needs: personal security, employment, money/resources Belonging and love needs: friends, family, sense of connection Esteem needs: esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence) and the desire for reputation or respect from others (status, prestige) Self-actualization needs: realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences Maslow also explained that these needs come in a certain order; people aren’t motivated by status or prestige, for example, if they don’t have food, water, and shelter. Once someone has satisfied their physiological, safety, and belonging needs, then they can focus on esteem and self-actualization.     But how does all of this relate to hotels? Let’s explore how you can satisfy each level of guest needs with services and amenities at your hotel.   Meeting hotel guests’ physiological needs As humans, our most basic needs are food, water, and shelter. Hotels, of course, provide shelter, and usually, food and beverage offerings too. So meeting this need seems pretty simple, right? In theory, yes, but many hotels still receive guest reviews that mention uncomfortable beds, loud noise, and problems with food and beverage service. While guests’ physiological needs might seem to be the easiest to satisfy, these are also the most important, because the physiological “boxes” must be checked before guests can achieve the rest of their needs. First and foremost, your hotel must ensure guests can get a good night’s sleep. Make each room a cozy, quiet oasis that’s conducive to rest with comfortable mattresses, clean sheets, soundproofing, and temperature control. Having hypoallergenic pillows and comforters available can also make a big difference for a guest with allergies. Once you’ve mastered the sleep piece, then make sure guests can always access food and water whenever the need arises. Consider adding in-room amenities like complimentary water bottles, a snack basket, a fruit bowl, or even a minibar stocked with handpicked, local items. Besides the in-room offerings, try to eliminate any friction that guests might encounter when ordering food or drinks. When your guest’s tummy is rumbling after a long day of travel, the last thing they want to do is wait on hold when trying to place a room service order, only to be told to expect a 45-minute delivery time. Technology solutions like SuitePad can streamline the ordering process, allowing guests to order room service or book restaurant reservations at the tap of a finger. If your property doesn’t have a restaurant on-site, consider selling snacks at the front desk or partnering with nearby eateries for delivery.   Helping hotel guests feel safe Once you’ve satisfied guests’ most basic needs, the next step is to provide the right security measures so they feel safe at your property. In addition to standard security features like electronic room keys and CCTV, make sure all of your employees uphold safety standards like requiring ID upon check-in, calling the guest before sending a visitor up to their room, and wearing name badges at all times. Your local safety code might seem like a no-brainer, but following your area’s building safety standards is another way to satisfy the need for safety and security. Next time the code inspector arrives, maybe you’ll remember reading about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and understand why their job is so important. Seemingly simple steps like clearly displaying emergency phone numbers and emergency exit procedures can help guests - especially international guests who might not know your local emergency number, for instance - feel safe at your property.   Creating a space for belonging and love needs When guests feel safe at your hotel, that’s when they can relax. Whether your guests stay at your hotel specifically to relax or if they’re just trying to chill out between high-energy meetings or events, you want to make sure your hotel can allow guests to achieve their belonging and love needs - and we’re not just talking about honeymooners here! Hotels can help guests satisfy this third tier of needs by selling rooms that are suitable for a variety of different guest profiles: families, couples, groups of friends, and even solo travelers. When you have different room configurations, everyone can find the room type that suits their needs, whether that be connecting rooms so kids and parents can have some privacy or bunk bed rooms so friends can stay up all night talking. In addition to your guestrooms, maximizing your public spaces for social interaction is another great way to make your hotel most suitable for “belonging.” New hotel concepts like Yotel and CitizenM have reinvented the traditional lobby as a hybrid of coworking and social space that invites guests to connect with each other, and some hotels offer events, classes, or guided tours that promote socialization. But above all, you can focus on forming emotional connections between guests and staff, which is one of the most powerful ways to help guests feel like they belong. Give your employees the power to surprise guests with gifts or celebrate a special occasion, and you’ll create a deep connection between your guests and your team.   Satisfying guests’ esteem needs Once you’ve met guests’ physiological, safety, and belonging needs, then you can move on to ego or status needs, which involve making the guest feel special and valued. If your hotel offers a loyalty program, then this idea will definitely ring a bell. Hotels can satisfy this fourth tier of needs by recognizing guests for return business during check-in, celebrating loyalty milestones with a welcome amenity, and even learning their preferences so each stay is hyper-personalized. Technology can be your friend here thanks to software like SuitePad that can track guest behavior and offer insights about guest preferences. If you learn that a certain guest always drinks a cappuccino with breakfast, for example, your server can proactively offer the guest a cappuccino when they enter the dining room. Recognizing and rewarding guest loyalty is just one way to help guests feel special. Your hotel can also provide special treatment for guests who book higher room categories, like with a dedicated check-in desk for suites. Also, if you learn that a guest is celebrating a special occasion, take that opportunity to send a bottle of sparkling wine to their room or offer a free dessert after dinner. Not only will these actions satisfy guests’ esteem needs, they also create a more positive experience, which can lead to repeat business and glowing guest reviews.   Fulfilling guests’ self-actualization needs The pinnacle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is self-actualization, which refers to achieving one’s life goals or meeting one’s full potential. For some people, self-actualization means being a great parent or creating an artistic masterpiece. But for others, travel is a life goal, and your hotel can help these people cross items off of their bucket list or plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip. One way to assist guests in achieving self-actualization is with concierge service. Guests often come to the concierge desk with remarkable requests, whether it be hiring a luxury sports car or arranging behind-the-scenes access to a museum. Encouraging concierges to satisfy these requests means your hotel can help people make their dreams become reality. Looking at hospitality through the lens of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can help you and your hotel understand the bigger picture of what guests want - and why they want it. Maslow’s Hierarchy can also add some structure to your operational practices and goals; for example, you need to ensure guests can get a good night’s sleep at your hotel before you invest time and money into an elaborate loyalty program. Understanding what guests really want - what motivates them - is the key to providing an exceptional guest experience, earning great reviews, and building guest loyalty.  

8 Ways to Leverage Digital Signage at Your Hotel

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

As a hotelier you obsess about the guest experience because you know it’s really all that differentiates your property from the hotel next door.  You focus on design, amenities, staff training, the list goes on. But there’s one thing you’re likely to overlook.  Digital signage can help your property deliver a five-star stay for every guest from the moment of arrival. Digital signage from vendors like Monscierge can do everything from displaying menus to providing map directions to printing boarding passes. Digital signs blend concierge curation and self-service in an easy-to-use, stylish menu that makes it easy for guests to enjoy their stay. Here’s how to best leverage digital signage at your property.  You only have 27 seconds to make a first impression and that impression will inform the rest of that guest’s experience on property.  A great first impression can create a halo effect on the entire experience. The Palm Jumeirah has a 24-hour arrival lounge for guests and Aria Las Vegas offers a similar experience for VIP check-in.  Not every hotel has the space or resources to invest in these kinds of experiences but digital signage kiosks, digital displays and video walls are a cost effective way to differentiate the customer experience at your hotel no matter the chain scale and it’s incredibly easy to implement.  At it's core, digital signage must be interactive, provide guests with real-time information and have a robust yet easy to use content management system.  With cutting-edge solutions, your guests should easily be able to interact with digital signage screens and your staff should be able to easily update content.  Once you've found a solution that meets your digital signage needs, here are some ways that you can maximize impact.   1. Expedite Check-in Check-in is a make-or-break moment for many properties: a bad check-in experience leads to negative reviews that can be hard to recover from. Digital signs smooth out the check-in process by offering auto check-in or by helping guests find the information they need without having to monopolize the attention of your front desk team. Many digital signage solutions offer automated or self-check-in. Guests can operate the touch screen to check-in, drop their bags, and go off to explore. This takes some of the pressure off your front desk team at peak transition times. Solutions that don’t have self-check-in still help reduce wait times. Guests can resolve questions themselves without waiting in line to ask the front desk, thereby shortening wait times for those checking in. One case study from Monscierge’s digital signage software claims to have cut down front desk wait times by 20% or more. “It is an effective way to communicate with guests, and the lobby touch screen is useful for providing guests with a self-serve information point, which has more information than we have time to cover in a standard check-in too,” writes one Hotel Tech Report reviewer says of Connect Signage.   2. Curate Local Experiences Your concierge faces a similar challenge as your front desk staff: during peak hours, they are often overwhelmed with requests for tour bookings, restaurant recommendations, wayfinding directions, and more. Digital signage can alleviate some of the pressure on your concierge by delivering personalized travel recommendations at the touch of a button. Monscierge reports that amongst digital signage content weather and maps are two of the most popular menu items guests choose to interact with; local recommendations drive almost 70% interactions. Interactive digital signage improves the user experience by enabling guests to choose their own adventure and learn more about the digital content that's most relevant for them. Set up your digital signage to highlight bookable tour operators, sightseeing highlights, and restaurant recommendations that guests frequently ask for.   3. Master Social Marketing Hotels have long benefitted from visual marketing on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Digital signage platforms offer a new tool for guests to share their experiences. Use social postcards to upload images from your property or your location. Guests can customize and send digital postcards through the interactive menu using social media or email. It’s a fun, authentic way to organically promote your property and destination with little to no marketing overhead.    4. Manage Events Easily Digital signage can help streamline event management and keep attendees from getting lost and confused. Add signage outside event rooms, conference rooms, and throughout the property to help guests find their next lecture or meeting room. Add venue names and event descriptions to help the event stay on-schedule. Customize welcome messages, provide directions, and provide WiFi access to attendees to prevent the front desk from being overwhelmed. Digital signage tech like that from Monscierge is specifically designed to make hosting a conference easy with features that integrate with your existing event systems and a centralized content management platform with plenty of advertising opportunities.    5. Promote Ancillary Services Digital signage provides a way for guests to discover new features at your property via digital menu boards that highlight amenities. Highlight ancillary services with video, high-res images, and guest testimonials. Run promotions through your digital signage that guests can book directly through the interactive screen. You can also offer a new avenue for guests to sign up for your rewards program by unobtrusively promoting the program in the touchscreen menu. Create your own recommendations for guests to explore all the amenities available at your property.   6. Open a New Marketing Channel Seeking a new revenue stream? Add revenue to your budget by turning your digital signage into an advertising channel. Interactive displays offer a way to work with local businesses for sponsored recommendations or specific campaigns. In addition to up-selling items at your property, you can display rotating advertisements using Monscierge’s Connect CMS management tool. “Pairing super useful content alongside advertising will mean that viewers don’t feel like they’re being bombarded. At the same time, advertisers receive high returns on view rates,” writes one digital signage expert.    7. Provide Travel and Emergency Information In the event of an emergency, your screens can be used to disseminate information quickly. Update digital signage throughout the property to tell guests where they should go, what they need to do, and updates as the situation progresses. Likewise, in the event of a global event that might interrupt travel plans – Coronavirus, for instance – keep guests apprised of flight cancellations or delays at the airport. Digital signs are useful even if there’s bad weather in the area causing flight delays. Make sure to find a solution that guests can understand: Monscierge provides more than 26+ languages available automatically.     8. Upgrade Your Lobby Decor Digital signage provides tons of services, but it’s also great decor. When not in use, set your digital screens can play a YouTube playlist, local news station, or travel blog. Depending on where you set up your screen, you may add a specific looping video: outside the spa, for instance, you can show a video of a tranquil waterfall or running water. Set the display to sports highlights where people are waiting for a seat at your restaurant. Digital signage is valuable real estate: the worst thing you can do is leave the screen blank.  

What is 5G and How Will it Impact Hotels?

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

As a forward-thinking hotelier, you always want to be aware of the latest trends in the industry. You make the necessary investments and updates to ensure your hotel is always ahead of the competition, especially when it comes to technology. But maybe you’ve heard about 5G or WiFi 6 and aren’t quite sure how they fit into your hotel’s operations. You may be wondering if this new technology is expensive or if there are any downsides. Or maybe you’re wondering if 5G or WiFi 6 are even relevant to your hotel. In this article, we’ll outline exactly what these new technologies are and what they mean for the hotel industry. In just a few minutes, you’ll have the answers to your questions about 5G vs. 4G and new insights about WiFi 6 so you can make sure your hotel has the technology infrastructure that guests expect.   What is 5G and How Does it Work? If you aren’t very familiar with 5G, that’s okay! 5G the fifth generation of mobile broadband, which would eventually replace 4G - the type of connection you likely have on your smartphone. Currently 5G is only available in a few cities, but it’s expected to roll out on a wider scale sometime soon, though it’s not clear exactly when. The main differences that 5G brings are lower latency (allowing devices to be more responsive), larger channels (to download big files faster, for example), and the possibility to connect lots of devices at once (such as smart home devices). That all sounds great, but you may be wondering how exactly 5G works. Unlike the 4G networks available now, 5G uses three different frequency bands. A frequency band’s speed depends on the number of channels and how wide of a range it has: Low-band (airwaves up to 1Ghz): Offers the widest reach, but the fewest number of channels out of the three bands. This means low-band offers a lot of coverage (even strong wall penetration, which is helpful if you use your phone in a high-rise or a parking garage), but there aren’t many channels, so the speeds for low-band 5G are comparable to 4G. Out of the US cell carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile use low-band. Mid-band (airwaves between 1-10Ghz): Offers slightly less reach than low-band (about a half mile from the tower), but more channels, which means mid-band carries the majority of 5G traffic. This one has decent speed and decent coverage. In the US, only Sprint uses mid-band right now. High-band (airwaves 20-100Ghz): Offers the most potential for 5G. Currently high-band isn’t used often for consumer devices, but it can deliver super-fast speeds. The range of this frequency is quite limited, though (around 800 feet from the tower), so cell service providers may experiment with installing smaller antennae in more locations in order to deliver reliable high-band service. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are using high-band. In theory, the unique 5G network architecture means that no matter where you are, you can have ultra-speedy mobile broadband. In practice, however, studies show that the average real-life 5G connection isn’t that much faster than the 4G that’s widespread today.   4G vs. 5G: Where Are We Today? If 5G has so many advantages - and if it’s already in some cities - why hasn’t it rolled out across the world yet? There are two main reasons for the sluggish rollout: the expensive infrastructure upgrades required and the need for 5G-compatible mobile devices. “The shift to 5G feels like a tech revolution happening in slow motion. In 2019, AT&T and Verizon, the two largest American carriers, lit up their 5G networks in a small number of cities. Handset makers released only a handful of phones compatible with the new standard. The overwhelming majority of us saw no meaningful improvement to our cellular networks.” ~NY Times In order to make 5G a reality, mobile carriers need to upgrade the cell towers that transmit the signal. This process is capital intensive and takes a lot of time, so carriers don’t seem to be in a big hurry to make the changes. At the same time, device manufacturers, like Apple and Samsung, need to upgrade their smartphones to have 5G compatibility. Currently only a few smartphones can use a 5G network. But when carriers aren’t upgrading towers, manufacturers are hesitant to make the changes on their side. We hear a lot about 5G because of its speed. If we compare 5G vs. 4G, 5G allows has dramatically faster download speeds and in the future your smartphone could be up to 600 times faster than it is today on 4G. The lightning-fast 5G network architecture alsos make it possible for information to be transmitted across the globe in milliseconds, which would make futuristic-sounding things like downloading an entire HD Netflix movie in seconds possible. 5G speeds will also be advantageous to any devices using artificial intelligence. However, some critics are skeptical about the safety of 5G frequency. Until further studies are conducted, we don’t know if 5G dangers could include a higher risk of cancer or other medical issues.   What Does 5G Mean for the Hotel Industry? Despite a lot of buzz in mainstream media, 5G won’t actually affect the hotel industry that much. As a hotelier, you won’t need to do anything to make any upgrades related to 5G specifically, but you may find that guests are more engaged with hotel apps and less likely to pay for WiFi access when they’ve got blazing internet in their pocket. If your guests have 5G speeds on their smartphones, they can download mobile apps or web apps like INTELITY super fast which undoubtedly will accelerate adoption in areas like mobile key. If you have a hotel app, you may see more engagement simply because the apps are more accessible. Guests won’t need to wait a minute while the app loads; it will show up nearly immediately. Because of the fast mobile internet speeds, guests won’t rely so much on hotel WiFi. If WiFi is free, they will likely still use it, but if your hotel charges a fee for WiFI, why would a guest purchase it when they have potentially faster speed in their pocket? Hotels that charge for WiFi should consider eliminating the fee, otherwise guests will skip the WiFi connection.   WiFi 6 is Actually More Important than 5G Speaking of WiFi, wireless internet is also about to get a big upgrade with WiFI 6. Like 5G vs. 4G, WiFi 6 is also faster - about 30% faster than the current WiFi standard. While this speed increase isn’t as dramatic as the shift from 4g to 5g, it makes a difference for situations in which a lot of users share a WiFi connection, like in a hotel. As we add more and more WiFi-enabled devices, an increase in speed will also help your hotel’s smart thermostats, smart speakers, and smart locks perform better. While 5G may have more of an impact on individual smartphone users, WiFi 6 will undoubtedly be a big deal for hotels - probably a bigger deal than 5G. In fact, many hotels have poor cell reception in at least one part of the building so having strong WiFi is crucial for both guests and employees using any kind of operational hotel software. While fast WiFi is nice for streaming movies and having video calls, hotel systems also require reliable WiFi for smooth operations. Many properties now have in-room tablets with platforms like INTELITY that connect to a hotel’s WiFi network. An INTELITY tablet is packed with features that allow guests to order room service, chat real-time with hotel staff, find answers instantly, and submit requests - all of which require the hotel’s WiFi network, not a cellular connection. With cutting-edge WiFi technology, hotels can build stronger engagement though tablets and apps. Though we hear a lot about 5G in the news, for hoteliers, WiFi 6 will be the next big thing in technology infrastructure. HotelTechReport will keep you informed about WiFi 6 as more information becomes available so you can make the necessary upgrades. With WiFi 6, you can leverage in-room technology to provide better service, which in turn drives positive guest reviews and repeat business.  

Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Business Texting

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

Looking for a way to easily communicate with your guests?  Business texting is the answer. Guest messaging platforms have long been the best way to reach travelers – and continues to be one of the best ways to interact with guests unobtrusively and conveniently. Hoteliers are taking advantage of conversational automation capabilities built into tools like Zingle to bring greater operational efficiency to their hotel properties. Guest messaging platforms are changing the way hotel staff interact with guests and across teams. GMPs can automate service requests, answer frequently asked guest questions, and enable service recovery. In the process, hotels are using guest messaging platforms to increase guest engagement, boost customer service scores, and receive key insights into guests’ sentiment. All it takes is finding the right guest messaging platform for your property.    Why Add Business Texting to Your Tool Kit?  Beyond the obvious ability to communicate directly with your guests, guest messaging tools allow for your team to work more efficiently, upsell ancillary services, troubleshoot problems with guests during their stay, and increase guest satisfaction scores with relatively little effort. For some hoteliers, the greatest advantage of a messaging platform is to improve operational efficiency by answering fewer phone calls, automating responses to frequently asked questions, or keeping teams in sync with dispatch tasks and daily bulletins. Zingle’s guest messaging tool, for instance, uses AI to distribute service requests thus reducing call volumes. Messaging allows hoteliers to serve more guests per hour than any other medium (in-person, phone, email, or live chat); a platform like Zingle resolves common guest requests with intelligent routing. Categorize service requests and work orders from guests, and automatically dispatch and track the tasks. Intelligent routing reduces the amount of time staff spends on repetitive responses while also quickly getting guests the information they seek. Empowering your team to provide better customer service makes a significant impact on your guest satisfaction scores. Companies that use messaging achieve 2.9x greater annual increase in Net Promoter Scores (NPS) as compared to all others (12.3% vs. 4.3%). Zingle allows your team to proactively engage with guests to promote customer service and enhance their experience, resulting in improved scores. More specifically, guest messaging leads to an increase in service recovery opportunities, which lead to higher guest satisfaction. For instance, Zingle’s modules, called “zings,” can be customized to respond to specific triggers. Use zings to personalize a checkout survey, escalate a lost-and-found request to the right person, or make it known throughout the property when a guest has a specific allergy. The level of personalization without pestering the guest leads to an overall better experience at your property.  Bottom line: your guests are communicating key information about your hotel all day long. When they do so over your guest messaging platform, you can capture their sentiment, build a profile about your guests, and run reports with other analysis to inform your service offerings, marketing, and more. Identify guests that are having a great time and encourage them to post positive reviews online. If an issue arises, guests will only report it 25% of the time; but sentiment analysis can help you quickly identify the problem and alert your staff for service recovery. Build a better reputation through data points gathered in your guest messaging platform.   What Does Guest Messaging Look Like in 2020?  Guest messaging software continues to add new integrations: PMS, voice activation, tablets, and CRS for transactional messaging. Overall, this has led to a more streamlined experience for both the hotel and guests. We expect to see new integrations built into guest messaging platforms, including natural language processing (NLP) and the growing use of AI and machine learning to ensure that requests and issues are tracked and followed up with properly. NLP applies artificial intelligence to language data so while your messaging software may not understand requests and inquiries it learns over time how to best respond based on keywords and other signals. Advancements in NLP will give guest messaging platforms the ability to implement AI/ML models. For instance, Zingle’s AI and advanced analytics continuously learn over time, understanding how guests articulate a specific need, recognizing the beginning and end of guest conversations, and auto-categorizing those conversations by their intent. This allows the guest messaging platform to categorize and understand guests’ messages more accurately and take appropriate action immediately. Messaging use is expanding into new departments such as food and beverage. More department heads are looking to adopt messaging to help eliminate friction and miscommunication. GMPs will continue to reduce staff workloads and increase efficiency in teams where automation can eliminate some of the routine, time-consuming messaging and dispatching tasks.   What to Look For in a Messaging Tool Key to finding the right guest messaging tool for your property is making sure it doesn’t add work for your team, but automates and streamlines communication among housekeeping, the front desk, maintenance, and your guests. Make sure your GMS is equipped with the following features: Multi-channel guest messaging: give guests a way to communicate via their preferred channel (e.g. SMS, Messenger, email, and more.) Team messaging and task dispatching: streamline internal communications via messaging and eliminate the need for radios. A GMS should automatically create and dispatch service requests and work orders that can be tracked via an integrated task management system or right within the guest messaging platform. Automated messaging (auto-replies and chatbots): reduce the workload of hotel agents and provide a better experience for the guest. Analytics and reporting: see text and sentiment analysis from guest feedback Integrations: connect with your existing PMS, voice activation, and staff management tool to sync and organize your data. Sentiment analysis: identify trends over time and get alerts when topics are sensed via automated data mining of conversations. Message templates: create a library of response templates for commonly asked questions to save time. Notifications and escalation procedures: set up notifications and alerts based on response times and follow up to ensure ticket prioritization and eliminate dropped requests. Upselling and payment functionality: allow guests to purchase items (e.g. spa services, late checkout, food and beverages) without leaving messaging. The right GMS for your property should integrate easily with your existing property management system to pull a guest’s information and use relevant data points in automated and transactional messaging. A guest messaging platform can utilize data from your PMS to add consistency and reduce the work your agents have to do when it comes to being proactive in serving a guest’s needs. Likewise, your GMS should sync with your staff management tool for automated dispatching, eliminating any potential error and improving operational efficiency.    Questions to Ask When Vetting a Vendor Not every guest messaging tool is right for your hotel. During the procurement process, ask these questions to assess if a guest messaging platform has the features, support, and integrations you need.  How long is the training and implementation process? The tool should be relatively straightforward to set up and use, so look for a GMS that can be set up and learned in a week or less.  What integrations do you offer? Find a tool that can integrate with your systems while keeping data clean and mitigating dropped requests and glitches. Can you schedule and automate messages? Gain precision and operational efficiency by automating certain messages or transactional events. Can I identify unhappy guests? Real-time analytics and reporting will indicate where guests are having an issue; sentiment analysis and surveys should provide real-time insight into positivity/negativity.  Which mobile messaging and chat channels are supported? The more channels the GMS provides, the more chats your hotel can have in aggregate. Look for the capability to message via SMS, email, live chat, Facebook Messenger, and more, depending on your guests and country.    For more on finding the right guest messaging tool for your hotel, check out our 2020 Guest Messaging Buyer’s Guide.  

The Best Kept Secret About Wellness Tourism

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

It’s no secret that sustainable hospitality and the wellness tourism market is exploding right now.  While hotel chains have taken note, many hotel owners are still missing out on investment opportunities that can help their properties appeal to these highly sought after guests. The wellness tourism industry drives $639B of spend globally and that spend is growing at more than twice the rate of the broader tourism market (nearly 7%). Domestic wellness tourists here in the U.S. spend a whopping 178% more than non-wellness travelers (Global Wellness Institute).  Wellness minded travelers have significant discretionary income and are willing to pay a premium to feel good both physically and mentally. Smart hoteliers and brands are identifying creative ways to tap this market. In this article we'll educate you on the data around wellness in travel, review successful hotel wellness tourism initiatives and empower you to bring wellness into any property regardless of location or market segment.   What is Driving the Wellness Tourism Market’s Growth? It’s not hard to see why the wellness market is exploding.  The western world has undergone a health consciousness renaissance and it’s in large part thanks to ancient eastern philosophy.  This is very much a global phenomenon. A quick review of Google search trends highlights the burgeoning demand for wellness related products and services.  823,000 consumers search Google each month to learn about ‘meditation’ techniques and there are more than 50,000 searches for the term ‘yoga retreat’.  Those numbers don’t even include the massive list of long tail of searches around each of those terms. Needless to say, we are talking about huge numbers here. The latest advancements in science and medicine have generated knowledge that is empowering everyday consumers to live healthier lives.  Today’s so-called unicorn companies show that despite its massive market size, the wellness revolution has really just begun. A wave of wellness unicorns like Peloton, 23andMe, Fitbit, Beyond Meat, ClassPass and Hims are experiencing exponential growth by meeting the demands of modern consumers and those same consumers are traveling to hotels like yours every single day.   How Major Hotel Chains Appeal to Wellness Travelers From Hyatt’s partnership with meditation app Headspace to Hilton’s Five Feet to Fitness guest room concept and Equinox launching hotels it’s clear that major brands understand the importance of appealing to wellness-minded travelers. Westin was arguably the first major global hotel chain to successfully center its entire brand around wellness through advertising, dedicated programming and innovative partnerships.  Newbalance has been one of Westin’s longest standing and most successful wellness partnerships.  The partnership enables guests to rent running shoes and gym clothes on property so they don’t need to carry dirty laundry or hefty running shoes in their luggage. Westin has since forged similar wellness partnerships such as RunWestin (guided running maps) and Peloton (world class digital spin classes).  Another key area of wellness focus for Westin has centered around sleep.  The brand is synonymous with the award winning Westin Heavenly Bed identifying sleep as a major area to improve well being, health and mindspace for guests.  Westin has also focused on sleep creating its own Sleep Well Lavender balm and healthy bedtime snack menu. It’s no secret that travel takes a toll on our bodies and minds which is why it's natural for hotel brands to focus on helping guests feel better during their stay to foster loyalty and create a better travel experience.  Westin has seen so much success with its wellness programming over the last decade that it recently decided to double down with its $30M “For a Better You” wellness-centric advertising campaign.  The campaign builds off of a study where 71% of travelers told researchers that the biggest pain point they experience while traveling is the difficulty of maintaining their ordinary routines while on the road.  Ultimately, keeping our routine is what makes us feel good and that’s what wellness is all about. The ways we do that are through healthy eating, sleeping, fitness and ridding ourselves of stress.   Better Breathing & Sanitation is at the Core of Any Wellness Program When examining these successful wellness programs, they all center around one thing: helping hotel guests recreate home environments and routines while they’re on the road which ultimately helps them feel good and be their best.  Air quality and sanitation are underserved facet of wellness that fosters better sleep and decreased stress levels through peace of mind. Sitting on a confined airplane with limited oxygen, it’s hard not to feel like you’re surrounded by germs, virus and bacteria.  The same is true of highly trafficked airports, ride-shares and even hotels. Heavy use commercial spaces are breeding grounds for virus and bacteria and even when we can’t physically see it, breathing virus, bacteria and ultra-fine particles impacts how guests feel each and every day.  For years, travelers have been wary of virus and bacteria in these heavy use spaces and recent data validates their concerns: “About 81 percent of hotel room surfaces sampled held at least some fecal bacteria. And television remotes are, in fact, among the most bacteria-laden surfaces, ranking up there with toilets and bathroom sinks.” (Scientific American) Bacteria and virus on both surfaces and in air particles can lead to illness when transmitted through our skin and lungs. Researchers have identified a clear inverse correlation between air pollution and physical health.  Whether you’re from Beijing, Bangladesh or Los Angeles you understand that air pollution has become such an issue that not only can we feel its negative effects but we can see them.  The number of premature deaths due to outdoor air pollution is due to increase from 3 million people globally in 2010 to an estimated 6-9 million in 2060.  The lion's share of this increase comes from non-OECD economies with less stringent air quality and pollution controls. The effects of poor air quality outdoors has become a global concern and while air quality indoors may not be as lethal, it’s a problem for wellness travelers and when presented with a solution - many travelers are happy to pay a premium for cleaner air in hotel rooms. Germs are a non-issue at home because it’s our own personal space.  When we experience poor air quality at home we buy air purifiers. So how are hotels delivering bacteria and virus free environments without air pollutants in highly trafficked rooms? Many of them turn to Pure Rooms.   Pure Room Conversions: A Turnkey Wellness Initiative for Every Hotel Pure Wellness patented 7-step process and technology treats every last surface and air particle in a room, giving guests more comfort in their surroundings and peace of mind. Pure Rooms feature medical grade purified air, a hypo-allergenic wellness environment and allergy-friendly bedding and shower filtration to more than 3,000 hotel rooms globally.  Guests have enjoyed the Pure Room experience in over 3,500,000 room nights. Pure Rooms is trusted by more than 30 major hotel brands ranging from midscale properties like Courtyard by Marriott, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn to upscale hotels like Westins and even ultra luxury properties like Ritz Carlton, J.W. Marriott and Waldorf Astoria. Ultimately Pure Wellness helps hotels convert anywhere from 1 - 1,000 of their rooms into Pure Rooms through a patented 7-step room conversion process that creates a best-in-class wellness environment for the wellness-minded travelers.  The conversion process delivers ultra purified air and treated surfaces that keep harmful bacteria and virus away. The end result - guests are willing to pay more for a Pure Room because they wake up feeling better rested and get peace of mind knowing that the room has undergone specific investment with their health in mind. First, the Pure team leverages its technology and know-how to get rid of all the invisible bacteria & viruses that hotel guests might not see (we hope) but can definitely feel.  Once the conversion process is complete the Pure Rooms team the room on 6-month maintenance intervals. Maintenance of Pure Rooms technology does not interfere in any way with housekeeping or engineering teams and the process is completely turnkey. Hotels that provide a Pure Rooms alternative for guests are rewarded with increased rates paid for those rooms and are able to differentiate their product in hyper competitive markets.  Room conversion has minimal downtime and the best part is you can start small to test the product and ratchet up your offering over time as demand rises for that offering.   This article was created in partnership with Pure Wellness  

Panera Delivery’s 5 Lessons for the Hospitality Industry

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

Worried about a recession? A new survey reports that 97% of CFOs believe there will be an economic slowdown before the end of 2020. Luckily, the success of Panera delivery and it's overall digital strategy and its commitment to investing in technology, even when the market segment suffers from declining sales, provide a blueprint for fortifying sales at your property and meeting evolving guest demands. Panera 2.0 is the title of the company’s commitment to digitizing the ordering experience that launched in 2014. Within this initiative, Panera has focused its technology investment on opening new digital channels, launching an in-house delivery fleet, providing new ways to surprise and delight customers, and future-proofing their sales. The hospitality industry can learn plenty from Panera’s proactive digital transformation strategy. Investing in digital and catering pays off – here’s what hoteliers can learn from the phenomenal success of Panera 2.0.    Lesson #1: Panera Delivery shows that consumers want to self-order At Panera, 30% of sales come from the brand’s digital channels. Panera’s digital channels include the company’s smartphone app, Google Assistant integration, and self-order kiosks in-store at select Panera locations. This omnichannel approach lets customers interact with the brand across multiple touchpoints, thereby exercising a new degree of control over their Panera experience. Consumers can order lunch and dinner service from the Panera website or from their mobile app. The brand, in return, collects data and receives deeper insight into their customer’s behavior than if they partnered with a third party like GrubHub or Uber Eats. As the Panera EVP chief growth and strategy officer reported to Forbes, customers “purchases go up, their frequency goes up and the incremental value of their orders go up. The return is very clear for us. If you go through a third party, you don’t have that visibility.” This return might be surprising given the hospitality’s long-standing belief that face-to-face service is what builds customer satisfaction. But what Panera Delivery has discovered is that speed, efficiency, and ease outrank interpersonal communication. Mundane and impersonal things like ordering and waiting on the phone or in line at a restaurant aren’t driving customer satisfaction. What does this mean for your hotel? Let guests “do it themselves” and drive incremental sales by giving guests every opportunity to purchase through digital touchpoints. A web app like Crave Appless or on a physical in-room tablet are both ways to create a frictionless, self-determined ordering experience. The ability to order with a few finger taps creates an “Amazon Prime” style effect where guests can purchase in a click. The end result: higher revenue from ancillary purchases and a better customer experience.    Lesson #2: Voice is the future Initial testing of voice-activated ordering has shown promise for Panera, who began testing delivery and Rapid Pick-Up with the Google Assistant on their mobile devices at locations in St. Louis and Silicon Valley. “Placing a voice-activated order in many cases is more than 80% faster than a traditional app order,” says Blaine Hurst, president at Panera. Panera’s app works with Google Assistant using AI to allow customers to place an order through simple voice commands – ”OK Google, ask Panera for delivery” for instance. Through the app, Google Assistant will display menu items, suggest products based off someone’s order history, and allow users to pay through saved wallet information. While the experience might seem futuristic for a fast-casual brand, voice activation has exploded over the last year. At the beginning of 2019, Amazon announced that more than 100 million Alexa devices had been sold; analysts estimate that 55% of American households will have some kind of voice-activated device by 2022. Voice is exploding and is already a huge asset for hotels.   Lesson #3: In a tight market, digital prowess separates winners and losers Quick-service restaurants have suffered in recent years: same-store sales at most QSRs are down 3.4%. Panera breaks the mold, posting an impressive 6% same-store sales growth at their company stores. Analysts and experts at Panera attribute their trend-breaking success to the brand’s investment in digital. Even when the market was in decline, and times were tough, Panera was making investments in technology. While the rest of the industry battled declining sales, Panera doubled down on digital – a commitment that paid off. In 2018,  “Digital sales now represent $1.2 billion, or 29% of company sales, and the company’s MyPanera loyalty program now has 28 million members, or more than half of its customers.”  By adding a new segment with rapid growth, Panera was able to offset the decline in same-store sales. “Moving Panera forward took a willingness to share in a dream,” Ron Shaich, the former Panera CEO told Restaurant Business Online. “And it took countless hours of assessing, reassessing, iteration and tough decisions.” What that tells hotel owners is that you should constantly be investing in technology, even in a declining market. Two areas where you can focus your technology budget are upsell software and in-room tablets, like Crave. Crave Interactive works as an in-room concierge to help guests find information easily and quickly. In room tablets also boost incremental revenue by promoting destination-specific activities and on-property hotel amenities like spa and room service. More money from existing guests makes a healthier, more resilient business that can survive – and thrive – regardless of market downturns.    Lesson #4: When working on tech initiatives, flexibility and integration are key Panera developed its delivery service in partnership with Bringg, a delivery logistics platform. Bringg provides the digital infrastructure and industry knowledge; while Bringg’s agreement with Panera allows the brand to have its own in-house delivery fleet, Bringg also has partnerships with Postmates and DoorDash. A hotelier might look at this arrangement and judge it unfavorable to Panera. Wouldn’t it be better to control the entire experience, end-to-end, than to partner with someone who works with your competitors? Certainly in a perfect world, that’s a nice thought; however, in reality, Panera gains the flexibility to shift direction and pivot with demand by working with Bringg. It’s far more expensive, burdensome, and time-consuming to create a unique, native platform entirely owned by Panera Hoteliers can learn from Panera’s example: don’t build your own tech. Partnering can add flexibility to your marketing approach. Make sure that you have an integration infrastructure to quickly switch out solutions when they’re not working. Case-in-point: don’t work with vendors who lock you into contracts. A firm like Crave will rent tablets to your property in a model that allows you to pay as you go. This kind of business model helps ensure that your vendors are always looking out for your best interests and care about your success.    Lesson #5: Panera’s catering segment shows that business is booming Catering has always been Panera’s bread and butter (pun not intended). The catering market in the US is massive – in 2017, it reached $58 billion. Panera has cornered about 2% of business catering sales, worth over $40 million. The brand has become virtually synonymous with office lunch delivery, a position that hasn’t changed despite increased competition from QSRs like California Pizza Kitchen, Au Bon Pain, and Applebees. Rather than continuing to focus on lunch orders, Panera leveraged their dominance in catering to expand their breakfast offering: Dan Wegiel, Panera’s chief growth and strategy officer, told CNBC that expanding the breakfast menu would lead to more opportunities for Panera’s catering business, and vice versa. Catering gives Panera a competitive edge in the so-called “breakfast wars” with brands such as Dunkin’, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell. Thirty percent of Panera’s catering orders come from breakfast; adding new menu items, such as breakfast wraps and premium coffee, incentivize customers to order more often. STR research found that catering is driving higher revenue at hotels; in 2017, catering-and-banquet revenue per available square foot (RevPAS) rose 2%, outperforming all other segments of hotel F&B performance. Hoteliers can’t ignore catering as a key revenue stream. Get smart and creative about catering: how can you change up the menu or repackage existing menu items in a way that incentivizes big group orders? Are there new and unique market segments within your existing bookings that might be interested in catering? Are there changes you need to make to your F&B that can refresh your catering menu? Take note of Panera’s example to leverage catering for higher revenue.