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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 Rise of Mobile Ordering: From Trend to Core Hospitality Technology

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

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

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
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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How Smart-Room Tablets Can Fill in Gaps for a Reduced Staff

by
Pilar Caballero
1 month 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
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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4 Common Hospitality Tech Stack Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them)

by
Matthew Lynch
3 months ago

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

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

by
Stefano Mocella
4 months ago

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

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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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Here's Why You Need a Guest-Centric Cloud Hotel PMS

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

It’s no secret that exciting things are happening in the world of hotel technology, but how do you know when it’s time to upgrade the tech at your hotel? The hospitality market is continually changing. As your guests’ preferences shift and software becomes more sophisticated, you may reach a point where your hotel’s tech stack can no longer facilitate the level of service you expect for your guests. To anticipate these changes, it’s crucial that you invest in a Property Management System (PMS) that can naturally scale with your business, and seamlessly integrate with new technologies. Most importantly, your PMS should be intuitive and efficient enough to allow your staff to focus their energy where it belongs 一 delighting your guests. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits that a mobile and guest-centric PMS can bring to your hotel, like allowing your staff to manage your hotel from anywhere in the world, or giving your guests the option of a completely contactless check-in, directly from their mobile device. We’ll also highlight the key elements of a guest-centric system and show how they apply to some real-world case studies.   The Hallmark Features of a Guest-Centric Cloud PMS A guest-centric cloud property management system should embody four key goals: ease of operations, ease of access, ease of scale and connectivity, and ease of profit. In short, your PMS should be unburdened 一 it should empower your staff to deliver your ideal guest experience, not hinder them.  StayNTouch CRO, Michael Heflin suggests two great examples of a guest-centric PMS in action, “A luxury hotel can choose to greet their guests with a glass of champagne in the lobby while the staff member checks them in on a tablet or they can offer self check in at a kiosk station that’s tucked away, allowing the guest to be socially distanced.”  In addition to streamlining operations, a modern, cloud-based PMS can easily be accessed from anywhere on property...or the planet. Staff members can manage their hotel from any device that has an internet connection, including tablets or smartphones. Guests can also manage their reservations or check-in from their mobile devices 一 even before setting foot in the lobby. A guest-centric PMS doesn’t just provide benefits within your hotel’s walls; it can facilitate connections between your hotel and a whole world of software integrations. From distribution channels like Expedia, Booking.com, and the GDS to payment processors, keyless locks, or reputation management systems, a flexible cloud PMS certainly isn’t just a tool to house reservations 一 it’s the glue that holds all other tools together. “We also make it easier to profit with targeted and automated mobile upsells and features like hourly rates/day use, which make it easier to expand revenue segmentation by utilizing rooms for workspace, private dining, day spas, or any experience a hotelier can imagine. A guest-centric cloud PMS fully unburdens staff, and enables them to deliver the optimal guest experience each and every time so that hoteliers can deliver on whatever guest experience they design,” says StayNTouch’s Heflin. But the benefits of a guest-centric PMS aren’t limited to operations; it can also unlock increased profitability. Such a system can expand revenue streams to include day-use rooms, for example, giving hoteliers new options for private dining, spa services, and meeting or workspaces.   How to Know if Your PMS Isn’t “Guest-Centric?” Traditional property management systems are designed to be purely transactional, often charging additional fees for upgrades or add-ons. While this strategy makes short-term sense for the PMS company, it does so at their clients’ expense, by forcing them to pay more for a platform that is less flexible, difficult to use, and difficult to scale. In short, these systems aren’t designed to empower hoteliers. Michael Heflin offers practical advice for rooting out antiquated systems, “You can see a similar approach in the design of many legacy systems. Running off of a desktop terminal,  they often feature a user interface which is clunky and outdated. This distracts hoteliers from their guests in two ways: First, because the UI makes it difficult to complete even simple administrative tasks, the staff member must spend more time buried in their screen to serve their guests. Second, running a PMS on a desktop on a stationary front desk prevents hoteliers from moving around and serving the guests where they are. In this sense, legacy PMS systems are literally distracting the hotelier when they try to engage with their guests, while placing physical barriers between the guest and hotel staff.” Legacy systems are clunky and slow. They distract your staff with outdated interfaces that complicate even simple tasks, so they spend more time buried in their screens and less time actually interacting with their guests. In addition, a legacy PMS running on a desktop computer literally erects a physical barrier between staff and guests. When a hotelier is confined to a centralized front desk, they can’t meet their guests where they are, but instead force guests to wait in line to have their requests handled. A mobile, guest-centric PMS, on the other hand, frees staff members to provide excellent service anywhere on property. And because the system features a colorful, intuitive user-interface, as well as advanced automation, it requires less time and attention to complete tasks.   Identifying a Guest-Centric PMS in a Sales Pitch Many PMS platforms claim to be “best-of-breed,” but they might not be truly guest-centric. To determine whether a PMS offers the functionality you need, you’ll want to verify four points during the buying process:  First, if the PMS advertises itself as “cloud-based,” but isn’t native cloud, then that means it’s just being lifted from its on-premise environment and migrated to the cloud. That isn’t true cloud 一 and the software will suffer in terms of performance and reliability. If it takes over 2 minutes for a staff member to complete a check-in, then the product isn’t intuitive and isn’t designed to enable a seamless check-in.  If you are not able to give your guests the option of a contactless check-in, or a chance to personalize their stay through their smartphone, or give your staff the flexibility to move beyond the front desk to service your guests, then it’s not a guest-centric PMS.  Finally, if the PMS can’t seamlessly connect to all of your core systems and allow you to build nuanced and dynamic guest profiles, then your system is neither connected, nor is it guest-centric. Your PMS isn’t just “another app” 一 It’s the heart of your hotel’s technological ecosystem, and your decision has critical implications for your guests, employees, and profitability. A great PMS is like the mission control for your hotel’s operations and the core of your on-site technology, and it should put the power in your hands to deliver your version of the ideal guest experience.   The Future of Property Management Systems The post-pandemic hospitality market will be marked with both challenge and opportunity. In the next five years, we can expect vast changes in the hospitality market. Mr. Heflin elaborates: “In the next five years, we can expect hoteliers to fundamentally reimagine what it means to be a hotel, and capitalize on emerging markets such as co-working and extended stay. Also, offering guests self-service options will be a necessity rather than a nice to have or a trend for the moment.” In order to capitalize on these trends, however, you need a PMS with the flexibility to leverage the latest technology. StayNTouch makes it easy to scale and connect with third-party solutions with open-APIs, seamless integrations, and regular free system upgrades. As your hotel evolves, your PMS should be able to evolve with you and allow you to deliver the type of service the modern guest wants.    Exciting PMS Features to Look for Property management systems have so many features, but what less-common functionality should you look for to add value to your property? Hourly rates: Hourly/Day Use functionality lets hotels leverage entirely new market segments and reimagine the relationship with their guests. Although originally developed for airport hotels serving travelers experiencing extended layovers, the possibilities of hourly bookings are endless: For example it can also be used to monetize co-working programs for teleworkers, to make day spa reservations, or it can repurpose rooms to create an exclusive, socially-distanced dining experience.  Contactless check-in: Across the board, traveler preferences have shifted toward contactless services over the last year. Ideally, guests should be able to check in to their room from their smartphone or a self-service kiosk, then further customize their stay through upgrades, amenity or restaurant reservations, or monetized early check-in or late check-out. Simplified webhooks: Webhooks are enhancements to an open-API architecture that lets them find the exact piece of data they need, in near real-time. To use the old analogy: While a traditional API would spend time combing through a haystack, a webhook would be the thread leading directly to the needle. This allows for highly nuanced and personalized integrations in close to real-time, without burdening the system’s processing ability.   Hospitality Brands that Maximize their Use of Software The “ideal guest experience” is different at every hotel, since each property is unique. That’s why it’s important to have a PMS that allows you to shape the guest experience to meet your goals. Let’s take a look at three hotels who used StayNTouch’ PMS functionality to create unique experiences:  The TWA Hotel, located at JFK Airport, serves many travelers who book hourly-rate rooms during layovers or delays. Using their PMS’s hourly-rate functionality, the TWA Hotel can manage rates, operations, and reporting at the hourly level. This level of customization lets guests pay for only the hours they need; therefore, the hotel can maximize its inventory.  Mint House at 70 Pine focuses on remote professionals working in New York City’s Financial District. Through their PMS, the property can sell rooms at an hourly rate, which is an attractive offer for individuals who need a place to work for a few hours or virtual businesses who need meeting space for events. With its green, open-layout design, ZoKu Amsterdam offers both extended stay options and spaces for socializing and coworking. Zoku created a welcoming and efficient check-in process that includes both mobile check-in and self-service kiosk options, so guests can customize their arrival experience.   What to Expect When Switching to a Guest-Centric PMS Switching to an entirely new system can be daunting, and you want to make sure the risk is worth the reward. A guest-centric cloud PMS can have a significant impact on your property - in many positive ways. For example, you’ll notice faster adoption of the system by your staff. It is user-friendly and intuitive, so it takes less time to learn how to use it. A smooth check-in experience can also shave time off the check-in process and increase adoption of self check-in options, whether on a smartphone or a kiosk. A guest-centric PMS should also reduce costs; a modern system shouldn’t charge extra fees for integrations, server maintenance, or updates. And another notable change should be a boost to your ROI; through automated upgrade or amenity offers, you can realize incremental revenue with little additional spend. But above all, you can expect your new, guest-centric PMS to eliminate any distractions or roadblocks to excellent service: “Technology should be there to enable and amplify the experience a hotelier envisions and should always keep the guest at the focus of that experience,” Mr. Heflin explains. When you consider your next technology partner, keep in mind Mr. Heflin’s point that, “personalized service will be more important than ever, and that makes platforms that empower personalized service that are much more critical to long term success.” Ultimately, great technology, and specifically a great PMS, should facilitate exceptional service and empower hoteliers to deliver on their promise of an exceptional guest journey.   This content was created collaboratively by StayNTouch and Hotel Tech Report.

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How to Select the Right Restaurant Ordering System at Your Hotel

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

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