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HITEC Dallas Report: 50+ Hospitality Technology Innovations You Need to Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

When hotels began to reopen with skeleton crews mid-way through the pandemic, the broader industry started to think about hospitality technology as the key driver to running stronger businesses despite weaker resource availability. Hotel Tech Report traffic data illustrates that despite a sidelined hospitality workforce - there is more interest in hotel technology than ever before.  HTR recently publicized platform data showing 270% growth from March 2020 to 140k+ monthly hoteliers in May of 2021 (14-months into the pandemic). Vendors are innovating in lockstep with hotelier demand for new technology.  Last week our team headed to the first HITEC event since 2019 to scout the latest innovations and save you time staying up to date with recent hotel tech product launches.  This article is packed with the latest tools being developed by top tech firms to help you optimize and grow your hotel business. While researching for this article, our team reviewed 96 different product/feature launches to curate the list below based on the most exciting innovations in the market and then synthesized the top 50 innovations into six key trends. Please reach out via live chat if we've missed a critical innovation or trend! WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECAP: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover Mobile checkin is the new black Guest data management is in the spotlight Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers   Trend #1: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues If you ask any restaurant, retail shop or hotel owner these days 'how's it going?', their first response will likely be to tell you how difficult it is to find and retain talent.  The mass service industry layoffs and furlows at the beginning pandemic coupled with the elogated impact on the global travel industry from the Delta variant caused a mass labor exodus from the hospitality industry.  While city centers continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic, many drive market destinations in many geographies are booming so much so that some have even surpassed pre-pandemic REVPAR levels such as the California wine country and are struggling to staff back up.  Whether you're in a booming drive market destination and need labor now, or you will need it when city centers begin to recover--the labor struggle is real and tech companies have their sights set on coming to the rescue by launching new products and features to help do everything from retain your talent more effectively to manage your property with fewer staff. M3 Launches labor.  Designed for hoteliers on the go, M3’s Labor Management app, M3 Labor, allows hospitality professionals to quickly access their hotels’ labor information and adapt in real time to the labor needs of their properties. Not only do employees get up-to-date visibility of their schedules and work histories, but property managers also have access to labor variances and managing employee time details, all available in the palm of their hand. UniFocus ShiftGenius.  ShiftGenius is a unique scheduling and shift filling feature that introduces flexibility and control for employees and covers the needs of the business. Operators find coverage faster and know that the RIGHT people are filling the shifts. Hotel Effectiveness launches CoverageFinder™: Hotels are experiencing a “coverage crisis” - they cannot find the labor to address the needs of the hotel, the guests, or the team. CoverageFinder makes it easy to identify available labor from within the cross-trained hotel team, the portfolio’s “sister” hotels, and contract staffing firms. Turnover is a massive problem. The Risk Retention Dashboard identifies which associates in each department are at risk of leaving and recommends specific actions that managers can take to prevent turnover and avoid the costly impact of a lost team member. HelloShift launches a housekeeping app. Housekeeping Management app is a quick and efficient way to see at a glance the status of all of the housekeeping tasks at your hotel or property. In one view, know which rooms have been assigned and prioritized, and which rooms still need to be assigned. The quick and simple drag and drop functionality and the ability to bulk reassign rooms make housekeeping management problems a thing of the past!   Harri launches Carri Chat & Apply.  Carri is an AI-powered chatbot built to assist hiring managers in screening, accessing, and coordinating interviews with viable candidates. Carri transforms traditional job applications into meaningful conversations to engage candidates and improve talent acquisition efforts. eTip launches digital tipping product.  eTip helps hotels to better attract, retain, and motivate staff with an app-less tipping and review platform. With eTip, staff receive an increase in compensation and a boost in morale, guests enjoy better service, and managers can act on guest feedback in real time. Beekeeper launches housekeeping app.  Beekeeper Work is an intuitive app that will transform how your team tends to daily Housekeeping operations. Team members on their feet can get things done with a simple tap of their finger. No training. No I.T. set up. No corporate approvals. Just easy technology rolled out in days. And it’s available in every language too so no one gets left behind.   Trend #2: The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover While the pandemic will certainly not be looked back upon fondly, some good undoubtedly has come of it.  While there are so many areas that human interaction can add value in the guest experience, there are also so many areas that manual processes, wait times and antiquated systems have plagued the guest experience for decades and the pandemic gave the industry the nudge that it so desperately needed.  Whether that's digitizing compendiums to reduce paper waste and create interactive experiences that generate revenue, ridiculously seamless contactless grab and go stations to meet guest needs in real time or in-stay sentiment analysis to identify and recover from service glitches on the spot--vendors continue to rollout new features and tools to help you leverage technology to become one of your hotel's greatest assets when it comes to delivering a unique and differentiated guest experience. Whistle Digital Guest Book.  Whistle introduces a configurable digital guest compendium for a completely contactless experience. Hotels can now offer a rich portal and directory of information, which guests can access through messaging. Impulsify Contactless grab and go.  Impulsify announces the arrival of their completely contactless grab-and-go kiosk for lobby retail transactions. Their ShopPoP kiosk now provides a QR code to give users the option of going "Touchless" when purchasing items at their increasingly popular self-service pay stations used by the hospitality and multifamily industries. Flexkeeping Automated Daily Hotel Report.  The Automated Daily Hotel Report by Flexkeeping contains all critical information hoteliers need to know to ensure that their team is meeting their set standards. The report provides data on every department - from room service, housekeeping, and maintenance performance all the way over to guest complaints and service slips. EasyWay launches Guest Sentiment Powered by OpenAI.  EasyWay AI is now able to automatically detect guest sentiment and act accordingly. For example, if EasyWay AI identifies that a guest is happy and is a potential brand ambassador, it will automatically send them a survey on TripAdvisor, and ask them to share their amazing experiences on social media. GoMoment launches Ivy Offer.  Ivy Offer lets hoteliers extend unbeatable offers such as extended stay, late checkouts, and food & beverage offers to their guests via text messages. These offers are conversational, personalized, targetted and appropriately timed (when guests tell us they are enjoying their stay, we offer them the chance to stay an extra night at a 20% discount), resulting in repeat, incremental profit. Guests read 98% of Ivy Offer messages within 3 minutes (based on client data). Niio and Samsung debut digital art stream for public spaces. Samsung and Niio art are partnering to bring easy access to digital art on-demand to Samsung Profesional Displays to transform any screen into an engaging digital art canvas. With access to thousands of digital artworks from the world’s best artists, Samsung clients can seamlessly display individual works of their choosing or play art streams curated by mood and style, 24x7 to one or multiple sites. Turnkey solution without requiring additional hardware or rights management. Bookingwhizz Automated Guest Journey with Whatsapp. The CRM module connects directly with the PMS and/or channel manager, automates guest notifications and promotions from predesigned campaigns. The hotel or group can schedule these notifications based on their business needs. SensorFlow launches SmartREM (Smart Room Energy Management Solution).  When guests leave the room empty with the HVAC running, SensorFlow's occupancy sensors and smart thermostats communicate this data to the gateway. The gateway then uses AI to react to the real-time occupancy data and automatically switches off the HVAC or adjusts it to a more energy-efficient setting to save energy, without needing any manual intervention from hotel staff. If guests leave the room with the HVAC running and the pool/balcony doors or windows are open, the HVAC is then automatically adjusted to ensure proper ventilation and prevent condensation issues while saving energy. When SensorFlow's sensors detect that guests have returned, our gateway then automatically resets the HVAC to the guests' previous settings. VenueLytics launches 24/7 AI Smart Concierge.  VenueLytics provides industries first fully integrated 24/7 AI Smart Concierge to automate contactless guest engagement, housekeeping, maintenance and other guest requests across WiFi, WhatsApp, SMS, WebBot and Facebook Messengers. Hotelinking launches WiFiBot.  Hotelinking developed a system called WiFiBot that automatically solves the Internet connection problems using IoT (Internet Of Things) technology and without the need for staff or a technician to intervene.  This solution proactively monitors any device connected to the network regardless of the vendor to detect performance issues, and continuously evaluates components to maintain and optimise their availability to avoid downtime or network failures. Moreover, it analyses all relevant information related to the use of WiFi by guests and its proper functioning and performance.   Trend #3: Mobile check-in is the new black If you are an HTR regular then you probably know what we think about hotel brands building their own tech, but to give some credit where credit is due back in 2015 Starwood identified the potential of mobile checkin and invested heavily in it because they saw what was coming.  If we can checkin for a flight on our phone, why can't we checkin for our hotel rooms? The reality is that mobile check-in is another area that has boomed during the pandemic with contactless everything as the new normal.  As hardware comes down in cost and mobile checkin goes mainstream, vendors are sprouting up left, right and center creating new opportunities for hoteliers to offer mobile checkin solutions empowering saavy hoteliers to be more prepared for guest arrival, reduce front desk wait times, go contactless and even get some new checkin tricks up their sleeves with digital signatures, payment authorizations, upsells and more. Maestro launches mobile check-in.  Allows Maestro customers to enable guests to check-in on the fly, on their own personal mobile device, with no 3rd party app download required, creating a self-serve environment from their own device. GTRIIP Launches Selfie Check-in.  GTRIIP processes hotel check-ins using our OCR engine to read international passports and local photo IDs. We use our face verification engine powered by computer vision to match the face (with a selfie) against the photo ID. This check-in process can be completed on the web. Onres launches mobile check-in.  Enables Onres customers to increase incremental revenue by up to 30% with Contactless [Early] Check-in and Late Check-out, Upgrade your Room, and Add Add-ons. RoomKey PMS launches mobile check-in. 100% digital paperwork built into the RoomKey PMS from mobile check-in through check-out.  Automated payment and room release to better inventory management CODE2ORDER launches COVID-19 Vaccination Pass & Test-Certificate.  Hotel guests can upload their vaccination pass or test certificate during the online check-in at hotels or during their stay at the hotel (required for hotel stays in Germany). The upload can be easily done by using their own Smartphone without further app downloads. Hotels can check the uploads in the CODE2ORDER Backend.   Trend #4: Guest data management is in the spotlight Whether you look at Tiktok in social, Visa in payments or Netflix in entertainment--its clear that companies who have harnessed the power of unique customer data have realized massive profits.  The strange thing is that the hotel industry sits on a treasure trove of travel spend and guest preference data yet most hotels have still only scratched the suface of what they can do with this data because ultimately you need the right tools, structure and processes to actually act on it.  The good news is that if anybody knows just how valuable and powerful data can be its tech companies, and they're gearing up to help you harness one of your company's most valuable assets.  Hapi launches Hapi Connect for Salesforce.  Hapi Connect integrates hotel companies' data into Salesforce Cloud environments in real-time, helping hoteliers to innovate using the world’s leading CRM. Hapi Connect for Salesforce allows companies to centralize data and tailor each step of the guest journey, driving loyalty and increasing conversion. Oracle Hospitality Integrations Platform.  The Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform (OHIP) offers hotel operators and integrators unprecedented access to all of the capabilities that OPERA Cloud has to offer. By making available over 3 thousand REST APIs and a full self-service experience end to end, operators and integrators can now design, build and release their integrations in matters of days rather than weeks or months thus accelerating time to market and reducing costs. Bookboost launches CRM.  Guest messaging platform Bookboost also extended it's product to offer guest segmentation and email marketing. Manage your first-party customer data to track interactions to create personalised guest messages. Utilise a single system to manage guest engagement and build strong relationships. Clairvoyix Launches Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud.  The Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud brings fully integrated transient sales and marketing automation to Oracle Hospitality customers. Utilzing the Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform, Opera in the Cloud customers can immediately start direct marketing to valuable past guests as past guest data is automatically transferred to the Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution. Guestjoy launches repeat customers.  Guestjoy launched a hotel CRM system for marketing managers in smaller hotels that helps them to build a customer database who is interested in getting special campaigns and offers. The tools they are using only allow them to set up a newsletter without knowing the background of a customer. Duve Guest Segments. Duve's Guest Segments allow hoteliers to send different messages to different guests, based on their profile and data you’ve collected from them. This includes reservation details, personal information, and more.  With Guest Segments, hotels can use both pre-scheduled or instant messaging to create a message to specific guests and provide an improved guest experience. Datavision DVGuest Analytics.  Datavision is adding powerful guest analytics features to our comprehensive business intelligence platform. Guest data is extracted and combined from a single source (PMS) or a variety of additional sources (Spa, Golf, Dining, CRM, etc.) supporting a 360-degree views of guest value, spend patterns and stay behavior. LaaSie launches Helix. Laasie has extended its core Reward Marketplace technology beyond the hotel website and booking engine, to bring personalized rewards to email campaigns. Each recipient of the campaign receives a uniquely personalized reward offer that resonates with his/her interests, demographics, and purchase behavior. iReckonU launches IKnowU Customer Data Platform. The IKnowU Customer Data Platform emerges as Ireckonu’s latest way to leverage its proven CORE Middleware. Synchronizing with your various PMS, CRS and other service delivery systems, IKnowU will become your system of record for clean, consolidated guest profiles. IKnowU’s powerful features include match & merge, identity and privacy management, subscription enrollment, communication control, behavioral and event data, and AI-assisted segmentation. It can also bring in third-party data. Simplotel Guest Connect.  Simplotel Guest Connect helps hotels convert their website content (promotions, and offers) into an email template with a single-click. Also, with a property management system integration, hotels can send mails and upsells to guests who book through any channel.   Trend #5: Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency The term commercial refers to the concept that while historically there have been silod departments within hotel companies like revenue management or marketing, these walls are quickly being broken down as departments become more deeply entertwined.  The catalyst for this evolution in decades old operating model has undoubtedly been technology and the transparency, access to information and interconnectedness that it has unlocked.  This is not the first time breaking down departmental silos to emphasize a more hollistic commercial strategy has been a key theme of one of HTR's innovation recaps and it certainly won't be the last.  Impala Contracting.  Say hello to fast and easy hotel direct contracting. Whether it’s signing new deals or managing existing ones, Contracting by Impala enables direct contracts between hotels and tour operators, agencies or corporate travel platforms. We take away the costly integrations and lengthy negotiation cycles to negotiate deals in days, not months. List your hotel for free IDeaS Profit Optimization.  Profit Optimization for IDeaS G3 RMS considers any combination of servicing costs, ancillary revenue and associated margins, and acquisition or channel costs. This approach enables hotels, resorts, casinos, and more to get the most profitable guests into their property, while maximizing other inventory beyond the guest room, such as restaurants, bars, retail, and activities. HotelIQ Decision Cloud.  With the new HotelIQ Decision Cloud, hoteliers can organize data, analyze it, plan next steps, and collaborate with their team and across their organization. In doing so, we aim to give hoteliers the lenses they need to pull insights from complex data sets and make more intelligent decisions. RateGain launches Demand.ai. RateGain launched an AI powered demand forecasting tool, that helps hoteliers and other travel companies track hyper-local demand and the underlying factors impacting demand – thereby helping them optimize their commercial strategy. Event Temple Launches Chain Management Dashboard.  Event Temple’s Chain Management Dashboard is an above property sales enablement tool for chains and multi-property management groups. Organizations now have a hub to view bookings, leads, accounts, contacts, reports, and manage sales across multiple properties. Pace launches Restrictions Management. Take control of your business mix. Use restrictions to control your business mix. Pace will suggest when to close out corporate rates and maximise revenue from your transient business. Avvio launches allora ai Hotel Booking Retention Engine.  Avvio developed a Hotel Booking Retention Engine that sits within the allora.ai booking engine to counteract the rise in hotel room cancellations. They did this by identifying at risk bookings, and alerting hoteliers in an actionable format, so that measures can be taken to protect bookings.  allora.ai’s Hotel Booking Retention Engine uses machine learning and data science to assess cancelation risk for every individual booking on the books. MeetingPackage launches group pricing module.  MeetingPackage offers venues to sell in a transactional way via their own channels and through distribution. Venues are able to manage pricing of Meetings & Events services flexibly from one centralised place to all distribution channels. For example, minimum spend requirement, meeting package price per delegate or meeting room price per hour, half-day, full-day. Including seasonal prices and corporate negotiated rates. ProfitSword enhanced currency conversion functionality.  ProfitSword has updated the application to support viewing reports in any currency desired. As part of this update, we allow multiple exchange rates to be defined for any currency pair, depending on your reporting needs. The firm added flexibility to reports allowing a user to choose an exchange rate based on the data being reported eg; balance sheet data converted with a month end exchange rate, accounting data with month average, and budget with an annual exchange rate all in the same report. InnRoad launches new Pace and Pickup reports.  innRoad's new Pace & Pick Up Reports are designed to give users easy access to their property's performance with the click of a button. Users can compare their performance over time and see if they are above or below on their occupancy, revenue, and rooms sold. Avalon Analytics launched automated PowerPoint presentations. One of the pain points of a revenue manager is the time spent preparing for weekly and monthly meetings. This remains true at hotel-level and above-property level, where you may need to prepare a market performance review for senior executives, ranging from VPs Operations to Owners. Generate 20+ PowerPoint slides for your weekly revenue meetings and month-end owner meetings within minutes. Avalon allows you to load entire presentations that are always up-to-date and ready to be delivered to your inbox.     D-EDGE Launches MediaGenius. D-EDGE provides hoteliers with an all-in-one platform to manage and monitor digital media campaigns: search, metasearch, display, and social media. With MediaGenius, hoteliers can easily follow the evolution of income and bookings generated via AdWords, analyze their campaigns’ performance, and fine-tune their strategy. The Hotels Network Launches Bench Direct. BenchDirect by The Hotels Network is an interactive analytics platform for hotels to benchmark their direct channel performance compared to the market and competition. The tool provides hotels with competitive insights across more than 30 key metrics specifically related to direct bookings. VoucherCart launches enterprise. VoucherCart Enterprise is a SaaS software product used by international and national hospitality operators with responsibility for marketing, sales, and revenue across multiple business units/member organisations. It enables them to promote and sell vouchers, gift cards, memberships, and tickets (pre-paid instant delivery) associated with their products and services and manage these centrally across all member organisations allowing cross-organisational redeem and usage, while also supporting voucher management and sale at member organisation level. Hotel Res Bot Launches AI Channel Manager. Many distribution partners such as Secret Escapes don't have interfaces to transfer bookings automatically, which means they simply send an email and reservation staff must manually enter these bookings into the PMS. The HERA AI Channel Manager reads those incoming emails and automatically pushes them to your PMS directly or via your CRS or traditional Channel Manager. Trend #6: Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers If you follow the tech world, you know that payments are big money.  You don't have to look far to see a massive head turning round like Stripe's $600M Series H (who even knew series H was a thing...), Affirm's market debut 100% pop or Plaid's (almost) $5B+ merger with Visa that was later blocked by regulators.  Other than being the lifeblood of every business on the planet, payments infrastructure is so immensely valuable because its extremely challenging to develop and maintain compliance.  While there are tons of payments solutions out there, there are few that have truly built out domain specific offerings specifically for the hotel industry to meet its unique challenges (and opportunities) and hotel tech companies are spotting the opportunity. Cloudbeds Payments. Hotel payment processing has been complicated for too long. Cloudbeds Payments provides easy, transparent and contactless payment processing that is fully integrated into the Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform, saving your property time and money. Bbot Tab Sync. Keep guests happy and servers relaxed with Bbot Tab Sync, a seamless addition to the Bbot Order + Pay solution. Plus, activating Tab Sync for in-venue and in-room dining guests gets you exclusive access to our BOGO deal on handheld devices! Adyen partners with Shiji to simplify hospitality payments.  This new integration simplifies the payment process for hospitality businesses by removing the need for a list of platforms and suppliers which usually includes separate processes for property management systems, food and beverage point of sale, and guest experience platforms not to mention the different payments service providers for each. SmartHOTEL launches SmartCONNECT for Payment. SmartCONNECT for Payment ensures that hotel guests’ payments can be made quickly, securely, and hospitably. With the click of a button, payments for online and offline bookings are automatically billed by the payment service provider of choice and processed directly on the guest folio of the hotel’s Property Management System (PMS). dailypoint™ Launches Payment Link. The dailypoint™ Payment link is part of the Booking Manager. It allows hoteliers to automate payments and process them securely according to PCI and PSD2 regulations. Implementing the payment link relieves the reservations department and minimizes the risk of fraud since no more credit card data is being processed directly or stored at the hotel. RoomOrders Launches Digital Tourist Hubs.  The RoomOrders digital tourist hub is an ordering and payment network of hospitality providers (hotels and resorts connected to surrounding vendors in a revenue-sharing model) to protect from accommodation giants like Booking dot com and AirBnB and restaurants from delivery giants like UberEats and GrubHub as well as excursion and tours agencies like Expedia and TripAdvisor.

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month 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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4 Hotel Tech Tools for the Post-Pandemic Travel Surge

by
Sandra Holland
1 month 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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How Are Hoteliers Adapting to Welcome Travelers Back in 2021?

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 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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Using Contactless Channels To Enter a New Era of Running a Hotel

by
Sandra Holland
4 months ago

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

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The Future of Hotel Apps: Why Mobile Payments Are Essential

by
Dan Lacey
5 months ago

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

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5 Strategies to Improve Your Hotel’s Digital Registration Process

by
Evan Chen
6 months ago

Digital registration for hotels is a win all around. It makes your hotel safer by reducing contact. It’s more convenient for guests. And it helps your staff keep better records. Many hotels were already moving towards digital registration because of these advantages, but the Covid-19 era caused everyone to rush towards digital registration whether they were ready or not. Now that we’ve all more or less settled into digital registration, it’s time to turn our focus towards making it better. With that in mind, this article aims to show you five immediately applicable steps you can take to improve your hotel’s digital registration process.   1. Collect guest data from the outset With guests finding hotels and registering online, it’s easier than ever to plug them into your marketing channels. With their permission, you can easily collect guests’ email and social media accounts. This allows you to reach out to them to keep your brand in the front of their mind, and it also allows you to use their data to learn what it is that makes guests choose your hotel over others. But it all starts with using data intentionally.    2. Leveraging popular messaging channels to set expectations When guests digitally register, it allows you to easily open communication channels before they ever even arrive. A texting toolkit like Akia can integrate with your property management systems (PMS) to personalize information and even automate many of the common queries, only directing the conversation to staff when necessary. This frees up staff time and it significantly quickens response times for customers.   3. Go fully contactless by offering mobile key The last thing people want after a long day of traveling is to stand in a slow-moving line at a hotel lobby. Even without the need for social distancing these days, it is simply a more convenient guest experience to enter a hotel and go directly to your room and then directly into a cozy hotel bed. Digital key platforms like Flexipass easily integrate with your digital registration process in order to provide the absolute most convenient guest experience possible.   4. Audit cybersecurity and data storage There’s a lot on the upside of digital registration, but let’s not ignore the downside. Data is currency these days, and we make ourselves targets when collecting a lot of digital data. Improving security is your responsibility, and it is also in your best interests; we’ve all seen a brand dragged through the mud after a security breach. A good PMS will have high quality security systems built into it. As you further integrate digital registration, it’s time to make sure that you and your staff are informed of security best practices and keeping the PMS up to date.   5. Focus on usability and experience design Hotels use a variety of programs from other companies in our digital world. Many of these digital platforms allow you to customize them in order to present your consistent brand image across all of the platforms; the platforms likely will even help you do this. It’s a step you should absolutely take. Your brand is the reason guests choose you over all the other hotels they see listed nearby, so make sure they see it bright and clear. -- With the rush to implement a hotel digital registration process, hoteliers need to make sure they are also providing the best customer experience possible. You will see the most immediate benefit to your hotel’s digital registration process by improving the data use, communication, convenience, security, and presentation of your digital platforms.   

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The 9 Most Futuristic High Tech Hotels in the World

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 months ago

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

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3 Ways to Increase Guest Confidence and Rebuild Travel in 2021

by
Alison Guillot
6 months ago

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

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What is RFID Technology? (+Use Cases in the Hotel Industry)

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 months ago

Wondering what RFID technology is? Even if you’re not familiar with the acronym, chances are you use RFID technology in your everyday life without even realizing it. RFID is a key component for IOT (internet of things) connectivity.  Do you have a pass for your parking garage or a fob to access the gym? Or maybe you’ve accidentally triggered the security alarm when leaving a store because the security tag was still attached? These are all examples of RFID in use, but they’re not the only use cases for this versatile technology. RFID has real-world applications across many businesses such as industrial supply chain manufacturers, retailers, theme parks, and even cruise lines.  In this article, we’ll explain what exactly RFID technology is, study some interesting examples of RFID technology in hospitality businesses, and explore some innovative ways hoteliers can use RFID to deliver better guest experience and operate more efficiently. What is RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)? An RFID system is simply a cost- effective technology that uses radio waves to send a signal from a chip to a receiver.  RFID stands for radio-frequency identification, and this type of wireless technology involves two parts: a tag and a receiver. The tag contains a microchip with a unique code, and the receiver contains components to process the signal transmitted by the tag. Tags can be either passive (no battery, activated by the receiver) or active RFID tags (battery-power source, emits a signal that the receiver picks up). RFID tags are very small but can contain a lot of information ranging from identification numbers to pages of text; they are often embedded in merchandise tags, key fobs, name badges, credit cards, and even pets! In a clothing store, for example, an employee could use an RFID reader to scan tag-embedded merchandise to instantly see more information about the item or ring it up at the check-out, similar to how a barcode is used. There are different types of RFID tags writes the RFID journal, "In general, low-frequency and high-frequency range tags are read from within three feet (1 meter) and UHF RFID tags (ultra-high frequency) are read from 10 to 20 feet. Readers with phased array antennas can increase the read range of semi-passive RFID tags to 60 feet or more."  Read range can also vary depending on environmental factors that effect the strength of radio signals. Although RFID technology isn’t new (it was patented in the 1970s), its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years as the technology became cheaper and more applications were developed. Depending on the type of tags and readers, RFID technology can be adapted to a wide variety of industries. In healthcare, RFID tags are used to keep track of prescription medication to ensure they don’t end up in the wrong hands. In-car manufacturing, RFID tags are attached to parts to monitor their progress along the assembly line. And in office buildings, RFID tags allow employees to enter the building or a specific floor with a wave of their name badge while keeping the doors locked to outsiders. RFID Applications in the Hospitality Industry It’s no surprise that hospitality businesses want to take advantage of RFID technology too, especially when it offers speed, security, and a high-tech touch.  Hotel and travel businesses usually begin by leveraging technologies like RFID for access control systems and asset tracking.  Due to the pandemic, contactless guest journeys have increased uptake of RFID, Bluetooth and NFC (nearfield communication) technology. Let’s explore how Disney, Coachella Music Festival, and Royal Caribbean use RFID technology to enhance their guest experiences. Disney’s MagicBand ticketing solution Paper tickets for Disneyland are a thing of the past thanks to the RFID-powered “MagicBand” system that Disney rolled out in 2013. The MagicBands are plastic wristbands embedded with an RFID chip that guests can use to enter their room at a Disney resort, gain access to theme park attractions, charge food and beverage purchases to your account, and more. Before MagicBand, guests would need to juggle room keys, theme park tickets, credit cards, and cash, but the MagicBand consolidates all of those functions into one device. Throughout Disney resorts and parks, guests can access surprise features by tapping their MagicBands at specific touch points. Besides pure functionality, Disney also turned the MagicBand into a marketing vehicle; Disney fans can purchase MagicBands in their favorite color or emblazoned with their favorite animated character. RFID wristbands at Coachella At a music festival, the last thing you want to do is wait in long lines. And festival organizers are always seeking ways to improve security and catch counterfeit tickets. Seeing an opportunity to meet all of these objectives, Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival rolled out an RFID wristband solution that allows faster entry into the festival and eliminates the risk of counterfeiting. Coachella even went one step further than smart cards by placing the chips on wristbands.  Festival-goers are issued wristbands embedded with RFID chips that each have a unique identifier, meaning that it’s essentially impossible to copy them. Instead of security staff scrutinizing every paper ticket upon entry, attendees simply scan their wristbands at RFID readers at the festival entrances to gain nearly instantaneous access. The readers can process many more attendees per hour compared to the traditional entrance process, which means Coachella’s music lovers can get to their favorite stages faster. How can hotels use RFID technology? Due to its relatively low cost, ease of use, and potential for operational efficiency, RFID technology can be an attractive solution for hoteliers looking to elevate their guest experience. But how, specifically, can RFID deliver value to your hotel? Door locks: One of the most popular use cases for RFID technology is guestroom entry. Compared to a traditional keycard, RFID-equipped cards offer hoteliers more control over security. Front desk staff can activate and deactivate cards remotely and review logs to see where and when a card was used. From a guest’s perspective, RFID keycards are easier to use than traditional credit card-style keycards (simply wave it in front of the door lock transponder to open the door), and the ability to deactivate lost RFID key cards gives guests peace of mind.  RFID cards can also be more cost-effective in the long term as they don't get demagnetized. Controlled amenity access: Besides granting entry to guestrooms, hoteliers can also use RFID technology to control access to amenities, parking, event spaces, and more. If a guest did not pay for parking, for example, the front desk agent could deactivate access to the parking garage on the guest’s key card. Or if the guest booked a club-level room, access to the executive lounge can be enabled on their key card. On-site payments: Outlets like restaurants, bars, and spas can use RFID technology to streamline the payment process. If guests have RFID-enabled keycard that contain payment information or room-charge information, guests can simply pay with their keycard. By eliminating cash and credit cards from outlets, the risk of theft or declined transactions decreases and each transaction takes less time. Inventory management: In addition to key cards, RFID tags can be embedded on physical items in the hotel to assist in inventory management. For example, RFID tags on minibar items can alert hotel staff to low stock rather than tasking housekeeping staff with monitoring stock levels. Or RFID tags attached to employee uniforms or linens can help hotels keep track of laundry processes and know when to order more. Theft prevention: Most hoteliers have a line item in their budget to account for replacement of stolen items like pillows, hair dryers, and dishes. RFID chips on these frequent “souvenirs” can tell hotel staff when an item has left the building and give them the opportunity to recover the stolen item. Do you have any questions about RFID technology in hotels? Let us know!