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The Rise of Mobile Ordering: From Trend to Core Hospitality Technology

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 days ago

It’s more convenient than ever to dine out or order in, thanks to the proliferation of food delivery apps and technology that makes ordering and payment a breeze. In fact, 80% of Americans have used food delivery apps before, and about 60% order food via an app at least once per week. Ordering food from your phone is becoming widely accepted in all facets of the hospitality industry, aligning with a shift toward the “low-touch economy,” the contact-free trend that accelerated as a result of the COVID pandemic. As more people want a contactless experience, and as people become more comfortable with technology in the hospitality space, mobile ordering will be an integral part of the future of the hotel and restaurant industry. Traveler preferences have evolved since the beginning of the pandemic, shifting toward contactless, on-demand services. These changes extend beyond hotels, as more people have become accustomed to food delivery, video calls, and even virtual fitness classes as socially distant substitutes to in-person interaction. The contactless trend appears to be here to stay. Retailers have adopted contactless payment terminals, supermarkets offer contactless grocery pick-up, and many hotels now offer contactless check-in and on-demand housekeeping service to limit physical touchpoints. At hotels, guests also want the ability to order food without speaking face-to-face with restaurant or room service staff and to be able to enjoy it while they work remotely in the lobby, under the shade of a cabana, or in the privacy of their guestroom. RoomOrders was founded in 2017 to provide this convenience for guests, and the company was originally designed to digitize room service operations at the Hilton Boston Downtown. Success in Boston led RoomOrders to expand to hotels across the world, working with brands like Marriott and Accor in addition to Hilton. RoomOrders is now in over 300 leading hotels and resorts across the US, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. At the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, the RoomOrders team saw an opportunity to bring their technology to not only hotel room service operations, but also to hospitality businesses ranging from restaurants to health and beauty centers, convenience stores, and tourist attractions to meet the desire for contactless service. As RoomOrders CEO Eugene Jones says, “mobile ordering is moving quickly from a trending sector to a booming sector.” Tech-enabled options are becoming increasingly popular, and rather than being viewed as a novelty, a tech-forward experience is an expectation. Customers are also becoming more savvy. Consumers in the F&B space are accustomed to ordering everything from their mobile devices whether it’s a new pair of Nike shoes, their groceries, or even a Tesla.  It’s only natural that these guests expect room service on their smartphones, too. With mobile ordering, a customer can browse the menu, place an order, and pay on their smartphone without the need for in-person interaction with staff. “Imagine the possibility of ordering a refreshing drink while relaxing by the pool...without having to get up to approach a bar to order,” says Jones. But mobile ordering isn’t for everyone. Jones recognizes that some guests relish the in-person interaction or don’t feel comfortable placing orders on their smartphone for a variety of reasons. The good news is that “guests have the option to order the old way or the new way, leaving customers with the ultimate freedom of choice.” Even when you implement mobile ordering, you can serve customers the way they want to be served. Mobile ordering doesn’t just benefit customers - it’s good business: increased revenue, more efficient and helpful staff, and higher guest satisfaction. Hotel businesses that partner with RoomOrders often report increases in overall revenue and average order volume. Why? RoomOrders eliminates friction in the ordering experience, so it’s easier than ever for customers to purchase food and drinks. Without mobile ordering, customers might decide not to order from your outlet if they see a long line or if they can’t flag down a server. Mobile ordering removes these obstacles and makes ordering effortless. Plus, the RoomOrders interface allows you to configure upsell options, specials, and tagging that make your menu items more compelling. Someone who might have skipped a side dish or dessert might be convinced to try it when they see it as a recommended pairing with their entree. In addition to highlighting the potential for revenue growth, Jones debunks a common misconception about mobile ordering systems. In our interview, he says “a digitalised hotel is not necessarily void of human labor, it actually frees up humans to be more hospitable.” The futuristic idea of a hotel run by robots isn’t going to be the future of your hotel with mobile ordering. The opposite is true; by letting technology handle menial, repetitive tasks like taking orders and running payment, your staff can focus on more important work, like building meaningful relationships with guests. Menu updates are seamless with a digital system like RoomOrders. Without a mobile ordering system, staff would need to reprint menus every time a menu item changed. RoomOrders allows you to make menu updates with just a few clicks so you can always keep your menus up-to-date and accurate. Overall, mobile ordering helps you deliver a better guest experience. It makes the ordering process more efficient at your restaurant, and, as Eugene discusses in the interview, it can also give guests an alternative to a potentially frustrating experience like waiting on hold for room service. Ultimately, guests who have a better experience at your hotel spend more and are more likely to return which is why this once trendy technology is becoming a global staple. Eager to learn more about mobile ordering? Read our interview with RoomOrders’ CEO Eugene Jones below     This content was created collaboratively by Hotel Tech Report and RoomOrders.   Tell us about the founding story behind Roomorders. In a nutshell, RoomOrders was founded in 2018 after one of the co-founders Haris Dizdarevic, who is an IT expert, sat with his restaurant owner friend in the Boston Hilton and suggested the hotel could digitalise its operations with self-service ordering by guest mobile phones. We were arguably the pioneers of QR code ordering in hotel rooms and this was a major move from fixed phones. However, QR code ordering has opened up new revenue streams by expanding ordering and payment opportunities outside bedrooms to the entire hotel or resort complex, as well as neighbourhood by connecting with community vendors. During the corona crisis, we realised digital ordering via QR codes or NFC tags could be done from anywhere outside hotels as well, from poolsides to beaches, rooftop bars to golf courses and neighbouring vendors, from restaurants to health and beauty centres, supermarkets and tourist attractions.   Why has mobile ordering been growing so rapidly in your opinion? Apart from opening up new revenue streams, your hotel will have an edge over rival destinations by restoring confidence in health and safety as a digitalised, low-contact hotel offering self-service ordering and payments via guest smartphone. Today's guest expect on-demand service and integration with surrounding vendors allows QR code ordering and payments of almost anything from anywhere on the hotel or resort site. I think Asia, which has totally skipped credit cards and where people no longer have a use for wallets, is indicative of the future awaiting us. When I see the corona QR passports and vouchers, it is obvious that mobile ordering is inevitable and that everything will be digital, powered by lightning broadband communication. I think we will be ordering from holograms appearing in thin air...  It will be like snapping fingers to be served in an instant! Many hotels believe that QR codes and pdf menus are a “good enough” solution for contactless ordering. Contrary to that belief is documented reality that guests hate downloading pdfs or any apps and feel teased if they cannot order as well as pay after seeing digital menus. The beauty of digital ordering platforms is that guests have the option to order the old way or the new way, leaving customers with the ultimate freedom of choice   How should hoteliers feel about automation of routine tasks? There is always the danger of technology replacing human touch in hospitality and this can be seen as a positive in terms of cost savings for hotels during tough times, yet a loss for social interaction and engagement - something we have traditionally enjoyed as consumers. However, a digitalised hotel is not necessarily void of human labor, it actually frees up humans to be more hospitable,entertaining or helpful in the process of delivering excellent guest experience.   How can hoteliers distinguish between mobile ordering software solutions? Mobile ordering is different to room service as mobile ordering is remote and unrestricted, it can be done from anywhere across a hotel or resort, rather than just a hotel room. Room service on the other hand is limited to just a room and the guest experience confined to a room.  Imagine the possibility of ordering a refreshing drink while relaxing by the pool, or a finger-food snack, without having to get up to approach a bar to order or even pick up orders. Our research shows orders skyrocket throughout the whole day, especially hot days, in this particular scenario. Hotels can’t be, or have, everything for guests, so RoomOrders is connecting hotel guests with surrounding vendors of all sorts of products and services on or off-site, expanding the guest experience by bringing anything, anywhere to their feet wherever they may be around the hotel or resort.   What has been the impact of COVID on the state of mobile ordering? COVID has been a double-edged sword. While it has suspended business for many hotels, particularly during lockdowns, it has also increased the urgency of digitalization, particularly contactless service, ie QR code ordering and payments. Mobile ordering is moving quickly from a trend sector to a booming sector, and in that respect we see it as a bigger revolution than food delivery - which is basically restricted to fixed addresses and extremely expensive. I think Covid-19 has sped up the dawn of a new age, the fourth industrial revolution. Everything will be digital and accessible remotely, starting with our jobs. The adoption of new technology, particularly QR code ordering and payments will move from a trend to boom sector and like Asia, we will no longer carry credit cards or wallets. Our mobile phones will be a lifeline, the centre of our world and essential to survival. Accessing our phone as fast as possible will be key, so QR codes may be replaced by something faster, but right now it seems RoomOrders will be busy improving people’s lives by fast ordering and secure payments. I honestly cannot see a hotel or resort without RoomOrders or a competitor service.   Are there misconceptions amongst hoteliers in this emerging category? It’s true, hoteliers think it’s expensive, when it is actually free, zero capital investment. Other fallacies include preconceptions that guests want human contact with waiters or that older people are technophobes. The reality is that newer generations want immediate glorification, on-demand service. Amazon and food delivery has changed their expectations, to the point of even compromising quality for efficiency. Seniors are actually the fastest growing segment of adopters of social media, Sure they were a bit slower, but when they sense that old methods are fading, they adapt just as easily as other groups, provided that the experience is intuitional, or in other terms, easy.   Are there any stories that stick out to you where RoomOrders delivered outsized impact for clients? Just before the pandemic, I arrived on a late flight into Las Vegas to speak at a conference about the threats facing hospitality in the digital era, and I was really hungry. As the hotel didn’t provide room service in the evening, I picked up a flyer and ordered pizza delivery by phone. I had to go outside, passing restaurants in the casino lobby and there were about 20 or so others waiting for their delivery too, even though it was past midnight already, There was so much confusion, it was a horrible guest experience that gave us the idea to not only integrate all the surrounding restaurants of a hotel, but other vendors too. It also gave me fodder for my speech, which offered RoomOrders as a way to combat the threat of aggressive food delivery services preying on local restaurants and hotel guests. The last year has demonstrated without dilemma that we have deeply entered the era of contactless ordering and payment  

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 days ago

Did you know the average small business uses 40 different software applications, and the average hotel uses around 20? In an ideal world, every system in your hotel’s tech stack would help you automate tasks, reduce costs, grow revenue, and deliver a five-star guest experience. But we understand that getting up-to-date on the myriad of technology solutions available to hotels can be daunting! Where do you even start? In this article, we’ll introduce you to each piece of the hotel technology landscape, from revenue management to reputation management and everything in between. Drawing on insights from over 10,000 hotel software reviews written by hoteliers across the globe, this article will also highlight some top software vendors in each category. For more detailed testimonials and additional software choices, you’ll want to click over to the full list of vendors. Let’s dive in!     9 Hotel Operations Software Tools that Drive Efficiency This category of software includes the most essential technology for hotel operations: checking guests in, reconciling accounts, handling payroll, and getting feedback from guests. Your hotel’s size and complexity will determine which systems you need; small, limited-service hotels might be fine with a PMS and a payment processor, but a large resort could benefit from each category of software. 1. Property management systems (PMS): The PMS is the central hub for hotel operations. In this system, staff can check guests in and out, create and manage reservations, pull financial reports, manage guest profiles, and more. According to user reviews and analysis of system functionality, the top PMSs are Cloudbeds, Clock, and HotelTime, though there are over a hundred more great systems on the market. 2. Staff collaboration tools: Hotel staff are scattered across different floors, buildings, and shifts, so a communication platform is necessary to keep everyone on the same page. Systems like hotelkit, Monscierge, and ALICE can replace analog methods like walkie-talkies and logbooks, plus they can track tasks, reduce manual errors, and increase efficiency. 3. Housekeeping and engineering software: These tools digitize the operations of your housekeeping and maintenance departments, with the ability to automate task assignment, monitor real-time status of rooms or issues, and track task completion. Top software in this category includes hotelkit, Flexkeeping, and ALICE. 4. Guest feedback and surveys: Do away with the paper comment cards and give guests a digital platform to voice their feedback, such as GuestRevu, TrustYou, or Revinate. Not only are these tech solutions easy for guests to use, but they also allow hoteliers to customize, automate, and analyze guest comments and complaints. 5. Accounting and reporting: If your hotel accepts payments from guests and issues payments to employees and vendors, then you’ll benefit from an accounting and reporting system like myDigitalOffice, M3, or Omniboost. A modern accounting system reveals opportunities to reduce costs and maximize revenue, plus makes your accounting team more efficient with automated reports and integrations with other on-site software. 6. Payments Processing: Most guests prefer to pay for their reservations with credit cards, but a payment processing system is necessary to get the funds from the guest’s card into your hotel’s bank account. Payment processors like Profitroom, Mews Payments, and Adyen charge a small processing fee, but they make getting paid as seamless as possible. 7. Labor management: Hotels have dozens, if not hundreds, of employees, so scheduling is no easy task. Software such as Hotel Effectiveness’ PerfectLabor™, M3, and UniFocus include forecasting, insight into labor costs, and integrations with payroll and timekeeping systems.  8. Meetings and events: Whether your hotel has one private dining room or several floors of ballrooms and breakout spaces, meetings and events software can support every step of the sales and planning process - and the event itself. Highly rated meetings and events software includes Proposales, Event Temple, and Blockbuster by Duetto. 9. F&B and point-of-sale systems: The pandemic accelerated demand for features like contactless menus and online ordering, so there has been a huge wave of innovation in the F&B software space. Vendors like RoomOrders, Bbot, and Oracle’s MICROS can help restaurants modernize their operations, cut costs, reduce reliance on delivery platforms, and strengthen relationships with customers.   7 Revenue Management Tech Systems that Improve Yield Strategy The goal of revenue management is to sell the right room to the right guest at the right price, and revenue managers leverage a variety of software to achieve their RevPAR goals. 1. Revenue management systems (RMS): The secret weapon of any revenue manager is the RMS; this system analyzes historical data, market supply and demand, and forecasts to recommend the rates most likely to maximize revenue and profitability. You might also hear revenue management software like IDeaS, Duetto’s Gamechanger, or Atomize referred to as “yield management systems” or “pricing engines.” 2. Channel managers: A channel manager is the link between a hotel’s property management system and distribution channels like Booking.com, Expedia, and the GDS. Channel managers such as SiteMinder, Cloudbeds’ myallocator, and D-EDGE’s Smart Channel Manager allow hoteliers to make changes in one system, their PMS, rather than managing rates on each channel individually. 3. Central reservation systems (CRS): Larger hotels or hotels that are part of a chain or group might use a CRS to centralize all bookings, whether they’re made by call center staff, the hotel’s own website, or a third-party channel. The CRS will then send reservations to the PMS for room assignments. Popular CRSs include Pegasus, Windsurfer, and GuestCentric CRS. 4. Rate shopping and market intelligence: A key to revenue management success is selling competitive rates, but how do you know what your competitors are selling? Rate shopping tools, like OTA Insight, Siteminder Insights, and D-EDGE RateScreener, do the heavy lifting for you and present competitor rates and market forecasts in user-friendly dashboards and reports. 5. Parity management: OTAs ask hotels to provide rate parity, meaning selling the same rate across all channels, and, as a hotelier, you don’t want OTAs to sell cheaper rates than your hotel’s website. Parity management tools, like OTA Insight, FornovaDI, and Triptease give hoteliers access to dashboards that monitor rates across all channels in real-time. 6. Business intelligence: Revenue managers love data, but sometimes all that data is too much for Excel to handle. Business intelligence tools offer better solutions for slicing, dicing, and visualising data through dashboards and reports suitable for studying historical performance or predicting the future. Top BI applications include OTA Insight, Scoreboard by Duetto, and ProfitSage. 7. Upselling Software: Driving incremental revenue per guest is possible with upselling tools that automate the entire process - and use profile data and historical trends to serve the most compelling, personalized offers to each guest, like room upgrades or F&B items. Tools like Oaky, EasyWay Smart Upselling, and GuestJoy also enable hoteliers to start the upselling process before the guest arrives on property.   9 Guest Experience Platforms to Improve Satisfaction Scores How do you create a five-star guest experience in the digital age? A plethora of systems exist to delight guests, from contactless check-in solutions to modern in-room entertainment. 1. Guest messaging: Messaging platforms allow hotels to communicate with guests via their preferred platform: text messaging, email, or even apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Top-rated systems like Monscierge, Whistle, and EasyWay support automated messaging and one central dashboard where staff can respond. 2. Keyless entry: Keyless entry software enables a guest to unlock their room or other secure areas like gyms or pools with a wave of their smartphone. Systems like Mobile Access by ASSA ABLOY, FLEXIPASS, and Openkey.co offer integrations with PMSs for a seamless arrival experience. 3. Guest apps: Digitize your in-room directory with a hotel app like ALICE, INTELITY, or Duve. These downloadable apps put everything guests need to know at their fingertips, from contact info and directions to room service menus and local recommendations.  4. Contactless check-in: In the wake of the pandemic, guests prefer a contactless arrival process, and software like EasyWay, Canary, and Duve make it easy for hotels to pivot to a fully digital check-in. Functionality includes ID scanning, digital registration cards, upselling, payment processing, and arrival time coordination. 5. In-room tablets: Just like the smartphone replaced our digital cameras and rolodexes, an in-room tablet can replace your rooms’ telephones, directories, room service menus, TV remotes, thermostats, and more. Tablet providers like SuitePad, Crave Interactive, and INTELITY are even proven to increase guest satisfaction and revenue. 6. Energy management: These systems have two goals: decrease your hotel’s energy costs and reduce your hotel’s environmental impact. Vendors like Verdant Energy Management Solutions, Telkonet, and EcoStruxure are designed with hotels in mind and seek to not only decrease costs, but also enhance the guest experience. 7. Guest room entertainment: Today’s guests want more than local cable channels on their guestroom TVs; systems like Monscierge ZAFIRO IPTV, and Sonifi provide interactive content and entertainment for all types of hotels, plus additional marketing and engagement opportunities you couldn’t get with traditional TV. 8. Mobile ordering/F&B: Bbot, RoomOrders, SABA F&B Ordering, and other systems provide an essential piece of technology for hotels and restaurants: mobile ordering. With this software, guests and customers can access menus, place orders, and pay from their smartphones, and F&B outlets can better manage order fulfillment and deliver an end-to-end contactless experience. 9. Hotel Wi-Fi: What was once a premium add-on is now an essential amenity at hotels, especially with a growing segment of travelers working remotely. To offer reliable high-speed internet access, hotels can partner with vendors like Cisco (Meraki), Percipia, or GuestTek that offer implementation services and ongoing support.   9 Marketing Tools to Lower Acquisition Costs and Drive Direct Bookings Of course, you don’t need any of the software listed above if nobody knows about your hotel! Marketing software allows you to tap into new audiences of guests and build relationships with your existing guest base. 1. Booking engines: For hoteliers seeking to increase direct business, a booking engine is essential. This software allows guests to book reservations on your hotel’s website by displaying rates and availability from your PMS, then integrating reservations into the PMS. Cloudbeds, Bookassist, and SiteMinder offer some of the best booking engines.  2. Reputation management: A reputation management tool helps you request, track, analyze, and respond to guest reviews across sites like Tripadvisor and Google and your own surveys. Some of the industry leaders are TrustYou, GuestRevu, and Revinate, and they can even assist in increasing guest review scores by revealing insights about guest sentiment. 3. Website builders and content management systems (CMS): Outsourcing your website design isn’t necessary with a CMS; these tools allow you to build, edit, and organize website pages and content, and they support integrations with booking engines, payment processors, widgets and more. Smart CMS by Bookassist, Profitroom, and Net Affinity are some of the top website builders. 4. Direct booking tools: If you want to increase direct bookings, then an app like Triptease, Hotelchamp, or TrustYou can boost the number of shoppers who complete bookings on your hotel’s website. These tools let you display personalized messages, snippets of guest reviews, price comparison widgets, and more - all of which give guests reasons to book direct instead of on an OTA. 5. Digital marketing agencies: Don’t have the time or resources to handle digital marketing in-house? A digital marketing agency can lend their expertise to help your hotel succeed in search engine marketing, social media, content creation, and PR. Bookassist, Avvio, and Net Affinity are some of the leaders in this space. 6. Social media tools: Whether you’re trying to build a new audience or stay in touch with past guests, social media is an important component of your hotel’s marketing strategy. Social media vendors like BCV, Sprout Social, and Travel Media Group can help you achieve your reach and engagement goals. 7. Metasearch and ad tech: Metasearch channels, like Google, Kayak, and Tripadvisor, are powerful drivers of traffic to your hotel website - if you leverage them effectively. These sites require special connectivity and a bidding strategy, and tools like Bookassist, Avvio, and Koddi will help you manage budgets, track attribution, and understand market dynamics. 8. Website live chat/chatbots: Potential guests shopping on your website want answers now - without needing to pick up the phone. A chatbot, like one from Asksuite, Quicktext, or Whistle, use artificial intelligence to answer guest questions quickly and accurately, plus capture leads and increase conversion on your website. 9. Hotel CRM: Your database of guest email addresses is a gold mine - if you can leverage it strategically. A CRM system, such as Revinate, Profitroom, and dailypoint 360, allows you to capture email addresses on your website, send automated messages throughout the guest’s journey, create segments of profiles with specific characteristics, and analyze open rates, click-through rates, and conversion.   F&B and MICE The food and beverage and meetings and events components of the hotel industry have their own technology solutions too. Whether you’re trying to streamline your room service offerings or support citywide conferences in a maze of meeting spaces, you can find software to help you execute any type of service or event. 1. Restaurant management: In order to run a restaurant smoothly, restaurateurs leverage point-of-sale software to manage stock in real-time, handle transactions, reserve tables, run reports, and more. Popular restaurant management software includes Vento ePOS, Oracle MICROS, and Lightspeed POS. 2. Mobile ordering and room service: Contactless service is the latest trend in F&B, but it seems likely to become the norm. Mobile ordering systems, such as Bbot, RoomOrders, and SABA F&B Ordering, allow restaurants to upload digital menus, accept online orders, and receive contactless payments, and customers can feel confident in more efficient service and accurate orders and bills. 3. Meetings and events intelligence: This category of software aims to help hoteliers maximize their meetings and events business by understanding market dynamics, uncovering insights about attendees, and optimizing pricing and space usage. Top meetings and events intelligence tools include Blockbuster by Duetto, IDeaS (SmartSpace), and Get Into More. 4. Group sourcing and RFP tools: Without software to assist, the RFP process is tedious. RFP software, such as Proposales, MeetingPackage, and Venuesuite, moves this process online and helps you to automate it, making all the back-and-forth more efficient and helping sales teams reach their goals. 5. Event management: Software doesn’t just help your sales team seal the deal, but also to plan and execute the event itself. Event Temple, Tripleseat, EVENTMACHINE, and others provide functionality to send proposals, get e-signatures, manage traces, communicate with clients, and create and edit BEOs and agendas.   Looking for more resources on hotel industry software? Download the free 2021 HotelTechIndex Market Leaders Report.

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How Smart-Room Tablets Can Fill in Gaps for a Reduced Staff

by
Pilar Caballero
2 weeks ago

In 2020, the hospitality industry had to quickly jump on board with mobile platforms as a result of the pandemic requiring a focus on contactless options. After a year of focusing almost exclusively on mobile, the topic on everyone's mind now is the industry-wide staffing shortage. For many hoteliers, conversations around investing in new tech have been put on the back burner in the scramble to address staffing issues. But staffing concerns and contactless tech are not unrelated; in fact, smart-room tablets specifically have a lot to offer reduced staff teams to elevate guest experience and, for properties with mobile platforms, complement existing tech.   The Lean Team’s Perfect Companion First and foremost, a smart-room tablet is an information hub that frees up valuable time for staff. It provides quick communications, service requests, and updates. It can take over the role of compendium and act as an in-room concierge—all while remaining easy to maintain and update. And with tablets creating better staff workflows and saving employee hours, a reduced staff can spend their time attending to in-person needs. Replacing clunky physical compendiums with digital compendiums saves staff from having to manually update information. Instead of needing to print out new sheets and replace them in every room for even a minor update, your staff can add changes at any time, with just a few taps. Beyond that, there’s also a huge potential for new revenue; in-room tablets offer a landing point for high-impact visuals for promotions—if there’s something you want to make sure your guests see, this is the place to put it.   The Always Available, In-Room Helper One problem facing the entire industry in the wake of staffing shortages, is inability to have the same standard of personalized guest experience as when all positions are filled. For hoteliers looking for solutions to add a personal touch to every guest’s stay, tablets can help. It can be as simple as setting a custom greeting to welcome them by name when they walk into their room for the first time. Or, for an even more luxurious experience: putting temperature controls and a digital compendium within an arm’s reach of their bed, offering a dedicated in-room device that can meet their needs any time of the day or night. Both a practical tool and a luxury experience, tablets offer an opportunity for hotels to go above and beyond to impress guests, without adding extra work for staff. And for properties that don’t have an app, the tablet can be a one-stop shop for dining, amenities, service requests, and more. Smart-room tablets provide nearly all of the benefits of an app, while remaining easily accessible to guests and requiring little upkeep from staff.   Meet the Perfect Mobile Companion For properties that do have a mobile platform, tablets offer a more holistic digital experience for guests when they are in their room. As guests continue to become more tech-savvy, dedicated in-room devices for all things information, communication, and control is right up their alley. Mobile and tablets work together to make the guest experience as smooth and simple as possible at every step in the guest journey. It's a better experience, one that facilitates better service and builds guest loyalty. Plus, one distinct and powerful advantage smart-room tablets have over mobile tech is a nearly 99% guest engagement rate.1 One thing you can know for sure when looking to invest in in-room tech: if the tablet is there, guests will use it. So there you have it. Without an app, tablets provide the convenience and communication opportunities of an app plus the extra features exclusive to the in-room experience. And paired with an app, smart-room tablets create a holistic digital experience for both guests and staff. Either way, tablets can help shoulder the burden of having reduced staff while heightening the guest experience overall.    1 Internal INTELITY reporting and customer data, 2021.

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4 Hotel Tech Tools for the Post-Pandemic Travel Surge

by
Sandra Holland
2 weeks ago

It’s no secret that the travel industry was one of the most prominent industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the U.S Association of Travel reported that the United States lost around $500 billion in travel spend, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization reported international tourism plummeting between 20%-30% in 2020. But it’s not only airlines within the industry who suffered.  Hoteliers too, have felt the devastating effects on their bottom line. With more than one third of hotels claiming bankruptcy in 2020 and 77% laying off critical workers, McKinsey and Company declared hotels “among the hardest hit” during the pandemic.  2020 was undeniably a tumultuous time for hoteliers, however, with vaccines rolling out and safety measures improving around the globe, the future for hospitality looks more bright than bleak. In fact, it was predicted by Statista that “as a result of increasingly affordable flight rates and cheaper oil prices, passenger and cargo air traffic are estimated to grow substantially through 2039.” What’s more, McKinsey and Company predicted revenue per available hotel room (RevPAR) returning to very near pre-crisis levels in 2022. With a more than devastating past few years, the coming months will remain pivotal time for hotels to harness in order to prepare for a surge in travel and return to a thriving business. In that case and in order to prepare you for an influx of guests with new preferences, we’re sharing our top tools to consider, in a post-Covid world, so you can maintain efficiency and build customer satisfaction.   4 Tools to Consider For The Post-Pandemic Era Over the course of 2020, the number of customers opting for technology to combat face to face communication, increased radically. Social media grew as a customer service channel, check-in and check-outs became streamlined through online portals and QR codes created a safe and effective way for customers to place orders.  During the pandemic, technology wasn’t a nice to have, but rather a necessity in order to communicate and win customers. McKinsey even reported that the “responses to COVID-19 sped the adoption of digital technologies by several years—and that many of these changes could be here for the long haul.” In addition, according to Gursoy’s, COVID-19 Study 2 Report: Restaurant and Hotel Industry, the majority of hotel customers (70.42%) believe that the use of various technologies in service delivery is necessary in the COVID-19 environment in order to minimize human-to-human contact. Some examples include; service robots, digital menus that can be viewed on personal mobile devices via QR codes, contactless digital payments, keyless entry, touchless elevators, etc. For hotels, the next year will be a critical time to set a foundation of service and enhanced experience in order to win loyalty. In this next section, to support your hotel endeavours with the influx of customers, we’ll take a look at technology-based tools to help meet customer needs and streamline operations for maximum efficiency. Safety Satisfaction Measurement According to McKinsey and Company, when asked “what it would take to get [travelers] to travel again, most stated additional health and safety measures.” Post-pandemic, an integral part of improving satisfaction and maintaining hotel operations, will be the need for improved safety measures. This means, following regulations, taking extra precaution and then measuring guest satisfaction to see how you’ve performed. Measurement will be a key factor here, as you can understand critical touch points like room cleanliness, satisfaction with contactless check-in, ease of check-in with rapid tests, room service and more, to continuously improve the experience. Self-Service Options Even before the pandemic, people around the world were shifting towards a more digital approach to business interaction. The pandemic, in this instance, simply accelerated that pace, pressuring businesses to consider innovative ways to incorporate technology. For hotels, self service options will be paramount in a thriving customer experience. Whether it be in the form of a chatbot on your website answering frequently asked questions, a portal on your website for check in and check out, or an OnDemand ordering system for room service. By having self-service options in place, you reduce employee error and meet customers where they are for a streamlined journey.  Consolidated Messaging  As a result of shifting to digital capabilities, McKinsey also noted the acceleration of digitized customer interactions. A whopping 3 years ahead of its time, customers have quickly adopted contactless communication channels like guest messaging via text, Facebook Messenger, email, WhatsApp and more, in order to adhere to new regulations and increase the feeling of safety.  With these new preferences, a digital inbox, or messaging platform with a centralized inbox will become imperative to meet the influx of digital channels. It’s important to note that we are specifically referring to an inbox that can retrieve a number of different channel types in one consolidated inbox. This will make responding easy and efficient for employees, as toggling through different tabs or windows will become daunting in an era where customers are regularly channel hopping.  Task and Ticketing Software In addition to customer facing technology, back of house, or operational software will also become an essential tool to ensure all functions are running smoothly and managers are able to keep the experience thriving. For many hotels, ticketing software may already be in place, however for the post-pandemic era, an intuitive software will be essential. Not only does an intuitive ticketing platform provide housekeeping, reception, restaurant staff and more, accountable through real-time tags and mentions, but it also ensures everyone has visibility into tasks to identify time-saving opportunities. In addition, it adheres to contactless preferences. Employees can communicate via staff collaboration software without ever having to meet - lessening the number of interactions and bolstering employee confidence.    Final Thoughts Almost everyone, in some capacity, has been affected by the COVID-19 virus. It was unprecedented and many suffered. Although adopting technologies and being hyper aware of the current situation is key, it’s also very important to be cognisant of guest feelings and unease. For the post-pandemic era, flexibility and understanding should be paramount in the new travel experience. This means taking a new stance on cancellation policies, allowing flexibility with trip modifications, actively listening to your customers, acknowledging frustrations and making a point to do better. Working hand in hand with your biggest advocates, your team, and new guests, you can strengthen your operations and propel your hotel to deliver a memorable post-pandemic guest experience.

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What Will the Future of Hotel Sustainability Look Like?

by
Gregor Herz
3 weeks ago

Climate change has been in the news again recently with a very stark warning from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They concluded that global temperatures are rising at an unprecedented rate and that this should be considered a “code red for humanity”, according to UN chief, Antonio Guterres.  There have been strong indications that many areas previously thought to be low risk from the effects of climate change are now being affected. Recently, Greece—one of the Mediterranean’s top destinations—experienced the worst wildfires in living memory. Earlier this year, the west of Germany and surrounding countries saw extensive flash flooding and soil erosion that claimed the lives of over 180 people. 150 are still missing. And in Canada and the northwest United States, temperatures reached 49.6C (121.3F). The resulting wildfires and extreme temperatures are together thought to be responsible for over 1000 deaths in the region. Whole towns have been wiped off the map as a result.  With such damning evidence of the consequences of climate change, there are changes that need to be made across all industries. According to the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, 1% of the world’s carbon emissions result from the hotel industry. 1% is a substantial chunk and as tourism continues to grow, this share or the world’s carbon emissions that hotels are responsible for will likely increase. What can hotels do to help contribute to a greener, more sustainable world? We’ve put together 5 ways hotels can become more sustainable in the future.   1. Focus on rewilding  Hotels rely heavily on tourism, and tourism relies heavily on beautiful scenery, wonderful wildlife, and clear oceans. The climate crisis has raised awareness of the need for rewilding. Rewilding means allowing areas of land to be left untouched indefinitely to enable parts of the natural world to regenerate to their former glory. Rewilding doesn’t only increase native fauna and flora, it also helps create carbon sinks that take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. As people try to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, rewilding is an important and cost-effective weapon against global warming. Rewilding also protects regions from natural disasters such as flooding and landslides. The increased legislation binds with the soil to ensure it’s locked in place, and the natural barristers caused by trees and bushes helps reduce the impact of floodwaters that accumulate on land developed by humans. The hotel industry needs to start raising awareness and supporting the rewilding movement if they want to continue to benefit from the pristine scenery that’s so crucial to attracting guests. This includes lobbying for international cooperation on creating rewilding zones around the world on land and in the oceans. Educating guests at hotels on the importance of these initiatives will help drive support for rewilding from the general public, ultimately helping hotel businesses thrive in the future and improve conditions for humans everywhere.   2. Reduce the impact of hotels on the environment Hotels use huge amounts of resources to run their business. Even when there are very few guests staying, the hotel still needs to provide heating, lighting, and restaurant services to guests. These are examples of energy-intensive requirements that hotels always need to provide no matter the number of guests staying at any one time. To reduce their impact on the environment, hotels need to invest in solutions that enable guests to make environmentally-friendly choices during their trips. By offering guests the chance to drive the green revolution in hotels, the perception of the level of service that hotels offer won’t suffer—guests don’t like being told they need to make changes, but if they choose to make them themselves, they’re much more likely to view them favorably. An example of how modern technology can enable guests to make more eco-conscious decisions is SuitePad’s Green Option. Using push notifications the Green Option works much like the traditional “do not clean” sign on the door, but due to its digital format, it actively encourages guests and can notify them of the impact their choice can have on the environment. Some hotels also offer small incentives such as vouchers or free drinks to incentivize guests to make this choice. These types of features will soon start to become more commonplace at hotels as they seek to become more eco-friendly.   3. Rediscovering the staycation The term “staycation” is synonymous with the COVID-19 pandemic, but it could be here to stay. While vacationing locally or within your own country was a good way of helping reduce the transmission of the virus, it’s also an effective way of reducing travelers’ carbon footprint. With hydrogen power aircraft and solar-powered vehicles still a long way off, there’s a real incentive to reduce consumer carbon emissions. One return flight from Europe to the US produces as much carbon dioxide as the average vehicle owner produces from their car in a year. And this problem can’t be sorted with short-haul flights. In fact, short-haul flights are just about the most environmentally damaging way of traveling as airplanes use huge amounts of fuel to get off the ground. If you’re only traveling a few hundred miles, short-haul flights clock up the highest CO2 per mile ratio besides space travel. For hotels, this may mean switching their focus to people visiting from more locally. In places like Europe, this may be stretched to people from other countries that can be easily connected by train. By making tourism more local, the industry can significantly reduce carbon emissions, but it will take input from the airlines, hotel, and restaurant industries to achieve this. The good news is that this may not last forever. Engineers around the world are working on producing much more efficient and eco-friendly forms of travel including solar-powered cars and hydrogen-powered aircraft. Major advances in battery technology have also made electric cars much better than most people thought possible, and if this technology is adapted for airplanes and they are charged using renewably produced electricity, global air travel will enter a whole new, eco-friendly era.   4. Redefining extravagance Some of the most greenhouse gas-producing aspects of tourism are equated with decadence and luxury. Superyachts, for example, contribute a huge amount of carbon emissions and ocean garbage build up in some of the world’s more important ocean ecosystems. Despite this damage being well documented, there is very little currently being done to reduce these contributions, and the demand for chartering superyachts is on the increase. Of course, superyachts are not the only contributing factor, but they are a good example of how the modern superrich lifestyles of many people can contribute to climate change. Instead, there needs to be a shift in what extravagance and luxury really mean. It needs to be cool, exciting, and ultimately, desirable, for hotel guests to notably reduce their impact on the environment. This could come in the form of encouraging them to pay towards charity organizations when they book their vacation, or it could come in the form of making taking the time to actively contribute to rewilding projects while they’re on vacation. Rather than yachting over the world’s most pristine coral reefs,  why don’t we encourage people to take the time to contribute to coral reef rebuilding projects? These kinds of activities need to be prioritized and rebranded as attractive representations of extravagance if we are to help reduce the hotel and tourist industry’s impact on the environment.   5. Moderating business travel Before the pandemic, business travel was a common feature of a globalized business world. But, the increase in the need for video conferencing technology has shown that businesses can significantly cut the need for travel. In the future, businesses will need to make decisions as to whether it’s worthwhile or environmentally sustainable to send staff abroad for business trips when the meeting or conferences they are attending could easily be done online.  The reduction in business travel will also likely have an impact on the demand for business hotels, meaning that many business hotel owners will need to diversify their business to offer services to non-business guests.   Understanding the future of hotel sustainability Hotel sustainability will hinge on using innovative technology, changing attitudes, and moderating expectations. But, with time, new more sustainable travel and hospitality technology will enable hotels to return to operations much like we have today. Until then, it’s imperative that hotels do their bit in trying to reduce their impact on the environment.

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What is VingCard? Exploring Different Models and Alternatives

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

Want to install a great locking system for room access control at your hotel? Hotel door locks are one of the most important and underrated features of your property. Guests and employees engage with your door locks every day, and if the lock technology and hardware falls short, it can mean unhappy guests and dissatisfied team members. There are lots of variables around locks.  Technology, security, aesthetics, and more.  Are they minimalistic or do they ruin hallway design? Do they use classic RFID or a card reader? Do they offer contactless check-in options or will keyless entry void the deadbolt warranty?  Electronic hotel locks also need to provide high security for guests who entrust hoteliers.  Even a single breach of security in a hotel room can lead to irreparable reputational harm for a hotel business. In this article, we’ll introduce you to one of the industry’s most popular electronic lock solutions: ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions’ VingCard. In addition to explaining the differences between VingCard’s various offerings, we’ll share some best practices and alternative hotel locks to consider so you can secure a smooth entry experience at each door at your property.   Standard VingCard Models Looking to upgrade from an old magstripe lock system? VingCard’s Signature, Classic, and Flex models offer secure, reliable RFID technology and a modern look without breaking the bank. Let’s explore the benefits and differences between these three options.   VingCard Signature With a small footprint on the door, the Signature model is ideal for hotels that strive for a clean, minimalist look along with a high-tech locking mechanism. In the photo below, you can see that the VingCard Signature component is the small black rectangle above the door handle. This model can be combined with a variety of handle styles for a totally customized look.     Pros: Takes up little real estate on the door, works with many handle options and supports ASSA ABLOY’s Mobile Access system which allows guests to unlock the lock with their smartphone. Cons: Limited functionality besides simple locking and unlocking.   VingCard Classic Like the Signature model, the Classic offers modern RFID technology for seamless unlocking of guestroom or back-of-house doors. Unlike the two-piece Signature, though, the Classic model is just one piece of hardware - the RFID reader, door handle, and keyed lock are housed in one unit - making it an ideal replacement for magstripe locks that take up similar space on the door. This model is compatible with several handle options so you can customize the lock’s appearance.   Pros: Good solution for upgrading legacy magstripe locks, minimal maintenance needed. Cons: Takes up a lot of space on the door, looks clunky.   VingCard Flex Another great option for upgrading legacy locks is VingCard’s Flex lock. The biggest benefit of this one is that it requires minimal modification to the door - no drilling required! This aspect makes installation a breeze and allows you to easily upgrade to a more minimal lock style at a future time. Pros: No need to drill into the door, supports a variety of handle and finish options. Cons: Clunky appearance, takes up a lot of space on the door. Speciality VingCard Models Searching for a lock that pushes the envelope in terms of style and functionality? VingCard offers two upgraded models, Allure and Essence, that may better suit the needs of luxury or design-forward hotels that don’t want to compromise function for fashion - or want some additional high-tech features.   VingCard Allure Combining RFID lock technology with electronic information panels, the Allure lock system is packed with features. The locking mechanism is controlled by an exterior panel, which is positioned on the hallway side of the door and displays information like room number and “do not disturb” status. From an internal panel, guests can tap “do not disturb” or “make up room” buttons so the information shows on the exterior panel rather than hanging a sign on the door. The RFID reader is housed on the exterior panel, and it communicates wirelessly with the door locking mechanism.   Pros: Sleek look, serves as a communication tool in addition to a door lock, variety of LED panel lighting options. Cons: More intensive installation process, more expensive than other lock options.   VingCard Essence For hoteliers who want the most understated look possible, the Essence model tucks the RFID reader within the actual door to eliminate the chunky appearance of a traditional RFID reader. This model supports entry via both RFID keycards and Mobile Access, making it a good choice for guests at all levels of tech-savviness.   Pros: RFID reader works from longer distances than other lock options, clean design. Cons: Small footprint on door makes it less than ideal for replacing magstripe locks.   VingCard Alternatives Don’t see exactly what you’re looking for in VingCard’s offerings? Not to worry; you can find several other reputable companies that specialize in electronics locks for the hospitality industry. Dormakaba’s Saflok locks are worthy competitors of VingCard’s models; the Saflok MT RFID in particular is quite similar to the VingCard Signature and Classic as a replacement for legacy magstripe locks or an entry-level RFID lock.   Pictured: Dormakaba Saflok MT RFID   In addition to the MT model, Dormakaba offers the sleek Quantum RFID and Quantum Pixel, which are similar to VingCard’s Essence in terms of minimalist design. And the feature-packed SR3 offers nearly equal functionality to VingCard’s Allure with separate informative and control panels on the corridor and interior sides of the door.   Pictured: Dormakaba SR3   Like VingCard and Dormakaba, SALTO offers a catalog of electronic door locks that range from purely functional to cutting-edge and stylish. The Ælement Fusion, for example, rivals VingCard’s Essence with its minimalist look and Bluetooth compatibility.      Based on your exact specifications and budget, you may find you prefer one lock vendor over the rest. With the right locks in place, you can unlock seamless guest experiences and reduce poor reviews related to lockouts and security.   Did we miss any of your questions about VingCard locks? Let us know!

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What is VingCard? Exploring Different Hotel Lock Models and Alternatives

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Want to install a great locking system for room access control at your hotel? Hotel door locks are one of the most important and underrated features of your property. Choosing the right access system also affects your hotel's ability to innovate in the future by adding contactless access and mobile key or integrating data with other systems.  Guests and employees engage with your door locks every day, and if the lock technology and hardware falls short, it can mean unhappy guests and dissatisfied team members. In this article, we’ll introduce you to one of the industry’s most popular electronic lock solutions: ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions’ VingCard. In addition to explaining the differences between VingCard’s various offerings, we’ll share some best practices and alternative hotel locks to consider so you can secure a smooth entry experience at each door at your property.   Standard VingCard models Looking to upgrade from an old magstripe lock system? VingCard’s Signature, Classic, and Flex models offer secure, reliable RFID technology and a modern look without breaking the bank. Let’s explore the benefits and differences between these three options.   VingCard Signature With a small footprint on the door, the Signature model is ideal for hotels that strive for a clean, minimalist look along with a high-tech locking mechanism. In the photo below, you can see that the VingCard Signature component is the small black rectangle above the door handle. This model can be combined with a variety of handle styles for a totally customized look.     Pros: Takes up little real estate on the door, works with many handle options, and supports ASSA ABLOY’s Mobile Access system which allows guests to unlock the lock with their smartphone. Cons: Limited functionality besides simple locking and unlocking.   VingCard Classic Like the Signature model, the Classic offers modern RFID technology for seamless unlocking of guestroom or back-of-house doors. Unlike the two-piece Signature, though, the Classic model is just one piece of hardware - the RFID reader, door handle, and keyed lock are housed in one unit - making it an ideal replacement for magstripe locks that take up similar space on the door. This model is compatible with several handle options so you can customize the lock’s appearance.   Pros: Good solution for upgrading legacy magstripe locks, minimal maintenance needed. Cons: Takes up a lot of space on the door, looks clunky.   VingCard Flex Another great option for upgrading legacy locks is VingCard’s Flex lock. The biggest benefit of this one is that it requires minimal modification to the door - no drilling required! This aspect makes installation a breeze and allows you to easily upgrade to a more minimal lock style at a future time. Pros: No need to drill into the door, supports a variety of handle and finish options. Cons: Clunky appearance, takes up a lot of space on the door.   Speciality VingCard models Searching for a lock that pushes the envelope in terms of style and functionality? VingCard offers two upgraded models, Allure and Essence, that may better suit the needs of luxury or design-forward hotels that don’t want to compromise function for fashion - or want some additional high-tech features.   VingCard Allure Combining RFID lock technology with electronic information panels, the Allure lock system is packed with features. The locking mechanism is controlled by an exterior panel, which is positioned on the hallway side of the door and displays information like room number and “do not disturb” status. From an internal panel, guests can tap “do not disturb” or “make up room” buttons so the information shows on the exterior panel rather than hanging a sign on the door. The RFID reader is housed on the exterior panel, and it communicates wirelessly with the door locking mechanism.   Pros: Sleek look, serves as a communication tool in addition to a door lock, variety of LED panel lighting options. Cons: More intensive installation process, more expensive than other lock options.   VingCard Essence For hoteliers who want the most understated look possible, the Essence model tucks the RFID reader within the actual door to eliminate the chunky appearance of a traditional RFID reader. This model supports entry via both RFID keycards and Mobile Access, making it a good choice for guests at all levels of tech-savviness.   Pros: RFID reader works from longer distances than other lock options, clean design. Cons: Small footprint on door makes it less than ideal for replacing magstripe locks.   VingCard Alternatives Don’t see exactly what you’re looking for in VingCard’s offerings? Not to worry; you can find several other reputable companies that specialize in electronics locks for the hospitality industry. Dormakaba’s Saflok locks are worthy competitors of VingCard’s models; the Saflok MT RFID in particular is quite similar to the VingCard Signature and Classic as a replacement for legacy magstripe locks or an entry-level RFID lock.   Pictured: Dormakaba Saflok MT RFID   In addition to the MT model, Dormakaba offers the sleek Quantum RFID and Quantum Pixel, which are similar to VingCard’s Essence in terms of minimalist design. And the feature-packed SR3 offers nearly equal functionality to VingCard’s Allure with separate informative and control panels on the corridor and interior sides of the door.   Pictured: Dormakaba SR3   Like VingCard and Dormakaba, SALTO offers a catalog of electronic door locks that range from purely functional to cutting-edge and stylish. The Ælement Fusion, for example, rivals VingCard’s Essence with its minimalist look and Bluetooth compatibility.      Based on your exact specifications and budget, you may find you prefer one lock vendor over the rest. With the right locks in place, you can unlock seamless guest experiences and reduce poor reviews related to lockouts and security. Did we miss any of your questions about VingCard locks? Let us know!  

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

by
Matthew Lynch
2 months ago

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

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How Are Hoteliers Adapting to Welcome Travelers Back in 2021?

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

We certainly don’t need to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the travel industry. But despite all the pandemic’s negative effects, this unusual year has inspired many hoteliers to take the leap into new technology that will enhance guest stays in 2021 and beyond. According to recent studies conducted by Amadeus, people are eager to travel again, with 75% of survey respondents stating they would travel within just three months of loosened restrictions. Although many of those travelers might feel nostalgic about the world “before,” the data shows that travelers expect technology to help reduce physical touchpoints, encourage social distancing, and more. In fact, 84% of respondents said hotel technology would actually make them feel more confident that they can stay safe and healthy on the road. In this article, we’ll explain five key areas where hoteliers can strategically implement technology to give guests a warm welcome to the “new normal.” By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of guest expectations and exciting innovations in the travel and tech space.   Staff Collaboration Tools Help Improve Team Efficiency at Lower Staffing Levels With 87% of travelers feeling skeptical that their peers are following health and safety guidelines, impeccable housekeeping and maintenance service is more important than ever. If guests think their fellow travelers didn’t wash their hands before pushing elevator buttons or opening doors, then your employees need to go above and beyond to keep your property clean. You’ll want to do whatever you can to avoid housekeeping mishaps that could break guest trust, and a key element of success is staying organized and avoiding lapses in communication between staff. Staff collaboration tools make teamwork a breeze - even with teams that work on different schedules or in different locations. Software like Amadeus HotSOS gives hotel managers and employees the power to log maintenance issues, centralize housekeeping requests, record guest preferences, and more. The app integrates seamlessly with Amadeus’ own PMS as well as 100+ other systems, so your tech stack can work harmoniously.  “We use Amadeus HotSoS for logging guests’ needs as well as general area maintenance, such as lighting fireplaces, old light bulbs, clogged sinks, broken tiles, missing paint. To be able to log and communicate with housekeeping, engineering and bell in this manner is excellent,” a Resort Activities Manager in Rancho Palos Verdes told Hotel Tech Report. Collaboration tools like HotSOS not only reduce communication lags and potential friction between departments, but they can enhance the guest experience by helping staff provide faster and more accurate service. In a post-COVID world, it’s even more crucial that guest expectations are met (if not exceeded) and that hoteliers can reduce costs wherever possible.   Use Customer Messaging to Communicate Compliance and Safety Local health restrictions are changing frequently, and today’s traveler needs to stay in the know - and they need to receive information from a trusted source, like from their hotel. Hoteliers are implementing customer messaging tools like Amadeus GMS to communicate rapidly changing regulations and standards with guests. Whether you need to alert guests about a new travel restriction or share the good news about reopening the spa, guest management technology can help you spread the word. 42% of respondents even say that technology that provides on-trip updates to local guidelines and outbreaks would make them more confident about traveling. If you’re considering adding a GMS to your hotel’s tech stack, you have no shortage of choices. Through customer messaging platforms, you can communicate with guests via their preferred method. Some guests prefer email, while others prefer text messages. Some platforms, like Zingle (which integrates directly into HotSoS, even support WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger). Plus, you can set up automated messages that will free up your employees’ time while increasing guest engagement.   Ditch Guest Room Phones for Smart Assistants Hotel guest room phones have been slowly dying out for years and the advent of smart assistants like Google Echo and Amazon Alexa accelerated their decline. Why? According to the Amadeus research, 61% of travelers would like to use voice assistant technology if present in their rooms. Hotels and larger groups like Viceroy are welcoming guests back to hotels by eliminating in-room phones and allowing them to order via the same technologies they’re using at home like mobile apps and smart speakers. Smart assistants powered by software like Volara are preprogrammed to control every facet of the in-room guest experience going far beyond the capabilities of in-room phones without adding significant cost. Volara’s voice technology integrates seamlessly into Amadeus HotSOS to fulfill service requests.   “The reality is anything you can do to limit direct contact with other people and even our own surroundings is part of widespread change in personal behaviors. Guests no longer want to have to touch the remote control or use the guest room telephone to make service requests. If a guest has forgotten toiletries or needs to report maintenance issues for instance, or even play music, watch shows, set alarms, or request more towels, they will want to do so in a contactless manner.  Having the ability to simply ask an in-room voice assistant to help fulfill special requests and preferences will be an opportunity to increase guest Loyalty,” says Volara CEO Dave Berger in an interview on the Amadeus blog.   Eliminating Lobby Crowds with Contactless Check-In Like with contactless ordering, offering a contactless way for guests to check in to your hotel is the welcoming touch that every traveler wants these days. Amadeus’ research shows that 62% of travelers would prefer to handle check-in and check-out via an app, so hoteliers that don’t yet have a technology solution for contactless check-in are making it a priority to implement one. Both guests and employees enjoy peace of mind when they don’t need to exchange physical credit cards, IDs, registration cards, and pens. “There are a number of ways the PMS can become a key component of the new guest experience. First, advanced two-way integrations with other supporting systems (CRS for instance) will allow for synchronized data across platforms to capture and make data actionable data coming from new apps. Second, many PMS systems provide simple and robust integrations with hundreds of third-party systems to make the implementation of new mobile services and tools simple and painless. Finally, some PMS systems offer open APIs, which make it possible to integrate with custom internal apps. This allows hotels and hotel chains to innovate at their own pace, and be more agile,” says Patrick van der Wardt, Head of Sales Specialists International, SO, S&C, PMS at Amadeus. Besides just providing a solution for check-in without physical contact, contactless check-in software can personalize the guest experience further by offering upgrades and add-ons that can lead to incremental revenue. -- As we’ve learned throughout the pandemic, guest preferences and expectations are changing rapidly. COVID-19 ushered a new wave of contactless technologies and efficiency driving software into the hotel industry. As we prepare for a travel rebound, hoteliers are still in a prime position to optimize their tech stacks to ensure they are able to capture and maximize on new business opportunities. Every facet of the guest experience is being reimagined with the creative use of technology from booking to check out. Let market data like this Amadeus research and the needs of your own guests guide your technology decisions and set your hotel up for success in 2021.   This content was created collaboratively by Amadeus and Hotel Tech Report.  

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Hotel Apps Aren’t Just for Going ‘Contactless’: Why Hotels Need Apps Even After Covid-19

by
Stefano Mocella
3 months ago

‘Contactless’ has been one of the biggest buzzwords of the past year, not just in the hotel industry, but in worldwide commerce.  The pandemic forced businesses everywhere to adapt to safer measures and to make an effort to reduce points of contact. Some parts of the world are easing into normalcy, which is obviously welcome news for hoteliers worldwide who are eager to welcome back guests. However, instead of returning to the old normal, how about creating a normal that makes the guest experience better than ever? A recent study by Taxi2Airport revealed some interesting numbers.  58% of travelers would be willing to pay more for paperless check-in.  47% would pay more for access to a 24/7 digital concierge.  58% would rather book a hotel restaurant reservation on their mobile device, rather than in-person.   More profitable stay with every guest Studies have also shown that guests are more likely to upgrade in-room amenities throughout their stay if they have the option to do so with their phones.  With this knowledge in mind that guests in fact would be willing to pay for these digitalized options, hotels can find clever ways to monetize their app. Even if hotels choose to offer their app for free, there are still ways in which this will ultimately lead to a more profitable stay with each guest. It could be as simple as offering 10% off a meal at your on-site restaurant when downloading the app. Once guests have the app and have the ability to: check out your hotel’s services, view upgrade options, or order room service online, you’ll have a guest who’s far more engaged and more likely to be fully satisfied with their stay.    Eliminate the biggest pain point for guests The biggest priority for any hotelier is to ensure their guests enjoy their stay and receive the best possible service from staff. However, it’s difficult to get staff on hand 24/7 to respond to all guest inquiries.  And that is the biggest source of frustration for guests. Two-thirds of guests’ biggest complaints stem from staff either being unpleasant to deal with (38%), or there were delays in service (31%). Obviously, technology can’t fix rude staff, only training can do that. However, delays can in fact be dealt with, using the right hotel software.   It’s not just about contactless, it’s about convenience  It remains to be seen how much contact guests will want with staff in post-pandemic life. However, one thing that’s certain is that hotel apps are convenient for guests. Apps can offer keyless entry (so guests don’t have to worry about carrying/losing a key), check-in and out at flexible times, get in-room service quicker, and much more. Giving guests the power at their fingertips will also give your hotel a better chance to upsell throughout the guest’s stay, as they’ll always be connected with your app.   Having your own branded hotel app is something not only your guests will love but will make your staff more efficient and ultimately, boost your bottom line.