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Net Zero Emissions: A Guide to Smart Buildings & Operations

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Curious about sustainability and how the hotel industry can reverse the trajectory of climate change and global warming? It’s no secret that the travel industry is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon emissions - think of all those trains, planes, cars and ships. While hotels aren’t necessarily the biggest contributors, travelers who stay in our hotels are which it’s why it’s important that we do our part to make emissions reductions through energy efficiency, recycling and other initiatives on property starting with the initial development of our buildings. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “net zero targets” or the “Paris agreement” or maybe you’re new to the conversation about reducing emissions. As traveler preferences shift toward eco-friendly hotel options, and as the climate crisis becomes more urgent, hoteliers like you should start to investigate solutions for a more sustainable future for your property. Net zero is one framework for prioritizing and quantifying your environmental impact, and, in this article, we’ll explain how net zero is relevant and important for hotels around the world. By the end of the page, you’ll be able to begin formulating a plan for your own hotel to achieve net zero emissions.

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The Top Channels to Connect with Your Hotel Guests For An Engaging Stay

by
Sandra Holland
2 months ago

Today there’s no shortage of new and engaging ways to connect with your guests. From modern channels like Twitter and Facebook Messenger to more traditional channels like email or SMS, understanding what channels you should leverage is key to developing an exceptional experience. In this blog, to help you select the right channels and uncover what’s trending in hospitality, we’re sharing the top channels hotels should be considering. Let’s explore.   Considerations Before Adopting Channels Before jumping into what channels are thriving in the hotel industry it’s critical to understand what will work for you specifically. In order to uncover this, consider; Channels your guests are already using  Channels that resonate with your overall objective Channels that align with specific tasks or service opportunities  Having these points top of mind will help you select channels with a more strategic mindset. In turn, providing the tools to drive loyalty and maximize return.   4 Channels To Consider For Your Hotel It goes without saying that over the years, guest preferences have changed greatly. As new channels emerge and capabilities expand, it’s important to always be in the know. Below we highlight some of the top-performing channels to date with a promising future in hospitality. Email For decades email has been a top communication tool with guests. And while historically, email has been used to send booking confirmations and check-in/out details, today, email is used for much more. With the “always-on” mindset, email is a great way to connect with guests during their stay. Inviting them to excursions, informing them of upcoming specials, and communicating with them about any requests. Further, email is a great way to collect feedback, encourage reviews and most importantly opt into your marketing flow. Once they’re in, it’s easy to upsell, cross-sell, and provide timely updates on hotel happenings. WhatsApp Over the years, WhatsApp has grown tremendously, offering unique features that cater directly to businesses. As a benchmark, today 2 billion minutes of WhatsApp calls are made every day, and the number of WhatsApp users in the United States alone is projected to reach 85.8 million in 2023. For hotels, this growth is even more apparent, as it’s grown in popularity due to its real-time capabilities. Connecting with reception is simplified and since most travellers use the app, it's a great way to encourage conversation. Further, using WhatsApp and its business features, hotels can set up their own business  profile, templated messages and offer features like read receipts, video calling, group chats, status updates and more. It’s a great way to engage guests from the moment they walk onto your property to well after they’ve left.   Phone A traditional channel that’s still used quite commonly, a phone call is an effective way to encourage direct communication. Connecting guests to different departments like reception or housekeeping, it allows guests to address their issues in real-time. That said, with phone calls, there are a few downfalls including; reception being inundated with requests, no digital receipts and as more and more digital channels emerge, less appeal. In this instance, it’s important to monitor your customer's preferences, along with industry trends.   Tablets In and Out of Room Whether you have a tablet in-room or have a tablet beside reception, using a digital screen is a great way to offer room service options, communicate with various departments, promote any upcoming specials/events and ask for feedback. The great thing about tablets is that they’re intuitive, offer flexibility, and simplify the experience for those who don’t want to download an app or are hesitant about calling in. In addition, tablets can collect a range of information about your guest and their preferences. Over time this can be useful in understanding upcoming trends with future guests, or to personalize a stay.   Communicating on Multiple Channels While offering one channel in line with customer preferences is a great place to start, the key to a thriving guest experience is offering multiple channels that work together for a cohesive experience. This means adopting an omni-channel mindset. One that considers customer preferences and ensures that if a guest decides to hop from one channel to another, the brand experience doesn’t change. This is crucial as today, many businesses adopting multiple channels aren’t keeping experience top of mind. In fact, 61% of surveyed customers claim they haven’t been able to easily switch from one channel to another when interacting with a brand. For hotels, streamlining the process could be as simple as dedicating specific employees to address conversations, allocating hours of the day to check the various channels you offer, or more efficiently, adopting a customer experience solution that consolidates all messages.   Considering a Solution To Streamline Communication As mentioned above, the idea of adopting an omni-channel program can seem overwhelming, especially for a hotel. However, with the help of a sophisticated customer experience solution, managing communication between customers can be simplified through a consolidated inbox. Taking all the channels you offer a CX solution will bring them into one inbox and showcase sentiment in real-time. This deters employees from having multiple windows open and potentially missing an incoming message. In that same breath, having a key CX solution can also help in terms of hotel request management. With the ability to tag and route messages to their appropriate department, the request is always seen by the right employee for a prompt and accurate response. In addition, employees can message each other internally for any out-of-scope questions and mark the inquiry as resolved to ensure there is no overlap. Lastly, a customer experience solution can help you better understand your customers and their preferences. With analytics on channel type, location, time to respond, employee performance, trending topics, and more, you can offer channels that align with your objectives and correct service to ensure a seamless experience every time.

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Boost Hotel F&B Revenue with Workflow Management

by
Kamini Patel
3 months ago

Today’s hotel guests are not only looking for a comfortable place to stay, but memorable dining experiences as well. Over the past couple of years, however, new trends have significantly reshaped the hotel industry’s F&B operations and workforce. Hoteliers must find new ways to satisfy guest demand and increase profit margins. The right technology helps you better manage F&B workflow and boost your bottom line. Today’s hotel guests are not only looking for a comfortable place to stay, but memorable dining experiences as well. With consumer’s pent-up demand for restaurant service remaining high, food-and-beverage (F&B) service can be a major contributor to your hotel’s positioning in the market, helping you drive unique guest experiences and differentiating your business from competitors.  Yet the past couple of years have reshaped the hotel industry’s F&B operations in ways that have significantly impacted profit margins. According to the 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, food, labor and occupancy costs are expected to remain elevated. And 40 percent of restaurant operators are not yet open to full capacity for on-premises dining, with 7 in 10 reporting that it’s due to staffing shortages. On top of this, there’s increased demand for curbside pick-up, take-out and delivery services. A key way of addressing these challenges lies in choosing technology solutions that optimize management of F&B workflow. The right solutions can mean the difference between becoming more lucrative or experiencing a quick demise. With an advanced hotel application, you can improve key aspects of your F&B workflow as well as your bottom line.   Create Efficiencies with Mobile Reservations Making restaurant reservations via phone calls is quickly becoming a thing of the past. A hotel app that offers guests the ability to book a table online offers a number of benefits for the guest and your F&B workflow. First, it improves the guest experience by giving them the freedom to plan in advance and make their bookings while on-the-go. Research from the 2021 Customer Engagement Technology Study revealed that 53 percent of your guests expect the ability to make their dining reservations online. On the operations side, a mobile-first reservation system helps you better manage waitlists and provide speedier seating, eliminating the cost and hassle of pagers by letting you text guests when their table is ready. An automated system eliminates reservation mix-ups and accidental double bookings that can occur due to the stress of front-of-house (FOH) staff dealing with constantly ringing phones. And because an app offers the capability to include additional comments, you can plan ahead to personalize service for those guests needing a high chair or celebrating a special event.   Streamline In-House Dining with Online Ordering Providing the ability for guests to place F&B orders via your hotel app using their personal mobile devices is another efficient and easy-to-use digital option that benefits workflow. For in-house dining, because you’ll no longer require servers to take each order, you can operate effectively with less staff. In fact, 80 percent of restaurant operators say that labor savings is a top benefit they’ve experienced when implementing online ordering, along with easier order processing and higher average checks. The entire system is expedited because guests can place orders as soon as their ready. This translates to less wait time, faster table turnover, and thus greater revenue. Online ordering increases accuracy since guests are communicating any meal customization and special requests themselves. And it satisfies the expectations of today’s guests, particularly younger travelers, with 43 percent of Millennials and 55 percent of Gen Z-ers preferring to order food and beverages via an app on their smartphone.   Improve Food Delivery Services with Online Ordering Mobile ordering also creates efficiencies with room service and food delivery. Since no human is required to take orders, guests are no longer stuck on hold while team members juggle calls during peak hours. And GPS location within an app makes it easy to deliver food or cocktails directly to guests on your property, whether they’re in their room or lounging poolside. The self-service aspect of online ordering simplifies the process and allows for revenue-lifting increases in order volume. On average, restaurant operators see a 43 percent increase in order frequency for takeout and a 29 percent increase for delivery orders. Another benefit is that apps collect F&B analytics from guest orders. Hotel restaurant operators can use this data to track fulfillment and delivery times, monitor inventory and analyze which dishes are most popular. The data also allows you to develop promotions designed to build off-peak demand, target specific guest segments and create discount strategies. Over half of restaurant operators state that these tailored promotions are much more effective than standard promotions.   Digital Options Improve Menu Management & Marketing Switching from physical to digital menus gives you the flexibility to include multiple menus within your hotel app, such as separate menus for your in-house restaurant, room service and group events. You can also develop custom menus, reducing time-consuming phone calls with questions about ingredients or gluten-free options, and satisfying the majority of your guests that expect the ability to preview menus and nutritional information online. Menus can be changed and updated instantly without the need for staff to physically swap them out in the restaurant or waste time replacing them inside in-room compendiums. Unavailable options can be removed in real time, helping you avoid guest disappointment. You can also boost revenue and streamline F&B marketing by promoting specific menu options at optimal times, such as offering a special on warm, comfort foods during cold days, suggesting specific food and drink pairings, and highlighting menu options that give you the highest profit margin.   Enhance Internal Communication with In-App Text & Chat In hotels, texting or chat for internal communication offers immediacy as well as the ability to track conversations. It speeds up workflow by allowing tasks to be communicated and handled more quickly. And it also expedites the tedious and time-consuming job of employee scheduling. Contacting a large number of staff via email or phone call isn’t practical, especially when it comes to time-sensitive notifications such as shift changes and event updates. Automated text messaging within a hotel app creates an efficient way for hotel restaurant operators to instantly contact staff. It also makes it quick and easy for employees to handle tasks such as searching for substitutes, trading shifts with co-workers or requesting vacation time.     Mobile Payment Simplifies BOH Operations The standard payment process is time consuming, requiring manual card entry, verification, reconciliation, chargebacks and disputes. Mobile payment through an integrated app allows restaurants to simplify back-of-house (BOH) operations by directly linking dining POS systems to your hotel’s PMS. This lets you easily assign a specific guest room to an F&B order so that the invoice is applied to the guest’s account with just one click. When guests pay directly through your app, it also diminishes mistakes and drastically reduces reconciliation times. Furthermore, you enhance satisfaction and loyalty because you’re meeting guests’ expectations, with 84 percent of all demographic groups preferring restaurants accept digital, contactless payment options.   In Summary  An integrated hotel application provides an ideal platform for improving overall hotel F&B performance by incorporating self-service reservation booking, mobile menu options, online ordering and payment solutions along with internal chat and texting features. When you implement the right solution, you create a winning synergism that delivers significant efficiencies to your F&B workflow while improving guest satisfaction and profitability at the same time.

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Hotel Sustainability: 27 Statistics Illustrating the Growth of ESG in the Hotel Industry

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Are you wondering if the industry’s focus on sustainable practices is just a passing trend or if the sustainable hotels movement is here to stay? Or are you looking for inspiration as you strive to make your hotel more diverse and inclusive? It’s not only travelers who are increasingly looking for more sustainable and ethical options where they can stay at hotels who focus on initiatives for a clean carbon footprint and minimal environmental impact like food waste reduction and reducing high impact guest experience touch points like daily room cleanings. Investors, hospitality management professionals and owners are recognizing that hotels that rate highly on the ESG scale are not only attractive investments, but they also provide the services and benefits that both guests and employees are looking for. Hotels are a large stakeholder within local environmental ecosystems and given the hospitality industry’s carbon intensive nature (i.e. flying on an airplane) hoteliers are sensitive to ensure that once guests arrive at their destination that they do everything they can to minimize impact. The good news is that there are tons of great options today like low-flow toilets, reusable refillable bottles, digital key cards, organic food, composting straws and energy-saving air conditioning. In this article, we’ll explain what exactly ESG means for hotels and run through 27 statistics that show ESG in the hotel industry is here to stay.

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Guest Room Tablets and the Future of the Guest Directory

by
Gregor Herz
5 months ago

Modern hotel stays are characterized by modern experiences for guests. One of the most impressive ways of digitalizing the hotel experience for guests is to introduce digital hotel guest directories to replace the traditional paper-based directory. In this article, we’ll highlight why and how digital guest room tablets will catapult your guest directory into the modern age.   The problem with paper-based guest directories Guest directories have been used by hotels for decades. They provide hotel information, room service menus, and information about the surrounding area. There’s no doubt that they’re a vital component of the hotel experience for guests, but paper-based guest directories come with a host of problems.  Firstly, they’re impractical for modern hotels. If the menu changes, or there’s a change in the information the hotel wants to provide for guests, hotel staff need to reprint new in-room collateral and then go from room to room replacing old information in the guest directory. This leads to outdated information in the hotel rooms and unsatisfied guests. Secondly, there’s the environmental aspect. Many modern guests are well aware of the impact their vacation has on the environment, and traditional hotel room guest directories seem like an unnecessary waste of paper, ink, and plastic. Lastly, there are major limits to how well traditional guest directories connect with guests. Guests are required to either call down to reception to book tables at the restaurant, order room service, or book spa treatments. In a modern world where guests are used to doing everything at the touch of a button, it’s literally easier and more convenient for them to order take out via UberEats or book a table at a local restaurant through Opentable than at the hotel. For this reason, many hotels lose out on loads of potential business.   The hotel app vs. guest room tablet debate Hotel apps.  Before we delve into the benefits of using guest room tablets as the main platform for your guest directory, we should broach the debate of hotel apps vs. guest room tablets. Many companies provide digital guest directory solutions through mobile apps. The benefits for hotels are clear—there’s no need for hoteliers to invest in in-room hardware such as guest room tablets. However, there are limitations to the success of mobile apps that hoteliers should be aware of. Placing your guest directory on an app puts the accessibility control in the hands of the guests. They can choose not to download the app, they can delete it if they no longer see any benefit, and they can also switch off notifications from the app. Most importantly, this solution requires your guests to actually own a smartphone—something that not everyone has access to. These reasons mean that hotel apps don’t give your hotel’s digital guest directory good visibility. Guest room tablets.  Guest room tablets, on the other hand, provide 100% accessibility because guests can use them whether they own a smartphone or not. They are also independent of the guest’s accessibility control—there’s no need for guests to download an app and they can’t change their accessibility options (however many guest room tablet solutions do offer a "do not disturb" option for guests who wish not to be bothered by notifications). Guest room tablets provide an ideal solution for digital guest directories. Many solutions also come with apps or in-browser mobile solutions to complement the main in-room solution. These are mainly for when guests are out and about but still want to access information about the hotel or make bookings while not in their room.   Modern guests expect modern solutions One of the most obvious reasons to switch to a digital guest directory is that most of your guests will already be accustomed to using digital solutions in everyday life. For those under 35, the idea of needing to call down to reception to ask for further information or make a booking might even seem old-fashioned. Additionally, providing your guest directory in a digital format will encourage them to book with you, helping to increase sales from in-house outlets. Guest directories on a digital platform also enable you to do so much more than paper guest directories. You can provide extensive information on the room service menu, allow your guests to order at the click of a button, and even open a chat function that enables them to communicate with your staff on their own terms. They can find all the information they need on an elegantly designed, interactive interface that doesn’t require them to flick through old dog-eared sheets of printed A4. Providing this extra functionality will not only reflect well on your hotel but will also improve the experience for guests at your hotel by emphasizing the "hassle-free” elements of their stay. When it comes to vacationing, guests expect nothing more than for everything to go smoothly at the hotel. Guest directories on digital platforms enable this and can be the starting place for your hotel’s digital revolution.   Taking back control of guest feedback  Another major benefit of the digital guest directory is the opportunity to offer your guests the chance to provide feedback through the digital guest directory. For many hotels, this possibility has been taken away from them by review platforms such as TripAdvisor. Using push notifications through your digital guest directory to offer guests the chance to review their stay, during their stay, is a great way to improve the guest experience while they’re still at the hotel.  This way, you can turn possible 3 or 4-star reviews into guaranteed 5-star ratings. In an online world, customer ratings hold a lot of weight for business success. Taking control and driving positive customer ratings using a digital guest directory will give your business a boost in the future.   Digital guest directories in a digital world Digital guest directories such as SuitePad will become the new normal in the hotel industry. It’s a matter of when not if. Early adopters will benefit more than anyone else from switching to a digital guest directory as they will impress their guests with a modern experience, provide better upselling opportunities, and receive positive feedback. With the digital revolution taking place in the hotel industry, the digital guest directory will provide the perfect starting point for any hotel that wants to modernize its guest experience.  

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

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

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2022)

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

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

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

by
Pilar Caballero
5 months ago

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

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4 Hotel Tech Tools for the Post-Pandemic Travel Surge

by
Sandra Holland
5 months 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.