We certainly don’t need to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the travel industry. But despite all the pandemic’s negative effects, this unusual year has inspired many hoteliers to take the leap into new technology that will enhance guest stays in 2021 and beyond. According to recent studies conducted by Amadeus, people are eager to travel again, with 75% of survey respondents stating they would travel within just three months of loosened restrictions. Although many of those travelers might feel nostalgic about the world “before,” the data shows that travelers expect technology to help reduce physical touchpoints, encourage social distancing, and more. In fact, 84% of respondents said hotel technology would actually make them feel more confident that they can stay safe and healthy on the road. In this article, we’ll explain five key areas where hoteliers can strategically implement technology to give guests a warm welcome to the “new normal.” By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of guest expectations and exciting innovations in the travel and tech space. Staff Collaboration Tools Help Improve Team Efficiency at Lower Staffing Levels With 87% of travelers feeling skeptical that their peers are following health and safety guidelines, impeccable housekeeping and maintenance service is more important than ever. If guests think their fellow travelers didn’t wash their hands before pushing elevator buttons or opening doors, then your employees need to go above and beyond to keep your property clean. You’ll want to do whatever you can to avoid housekeeping mishaps that could break guest trust, and a key element of success is staying organized and avoiding lapses in communication between staff. Staff collaboration tools make teamwork a breeze - even with teams that work on different schedules or in different locations. Software like Amadeus HotSOS gives hotel managers and employees the power to log maintenance issues, centralize housekeeping requests, record guest preferences, and more. The app integrates seamlessly with Amadeus’ own PMS as well as 100+ other systems, so your tech stack can work harmoniously. “We use Amadeus HotSoS for logging guests’ needs as well as general area maintenance, such as lighting fireplaces, old light bulbs, clogged sinks, broken tiles, missing paint. To be able to log and communicate with housekeeping, engineering and bell in this manner is excellent,” a Resort Activities Manager in Rancho Palos Verdes told Hotel Tech Report. Collaboration tools like HotSOS not only reduce communication lags and potential friction between departments, but they can enhance the guest experience by helping staff provide faster and more accurate service. In a post-COVID world, it’s even more crucial that guest expectations are met (if not exceeded) and that hoteliers can reduce costs wherever possible. Use Customer Messaging to Communicate Compliance and Safety Local health restrictions are changing frequently, and today’s traveler needs to stay in the know - and they need to receive information from a trusted source, like from their hotel. Hoteliers are implementing customer messaging tools like Amadeus GMS to communicate rapidly changing regulations and standards with guests. Whether you need to alert guests about a new travel restriction or share the good news about reopening the spa, guest management technology can help you spread the word. 42% of respondents even say that technology that provides on-trip updates to local guidelines and outbreaks would make them more confident about traveling. If you’re considering adding a GMS to your hotel’s tech stack, you have no shortage of choices. Through customer messaging platforms, you can communicate with guests via their preferred method. Some guests prefer email, while others prefer text messages. Some platforms, like Zingle (which integrates directly into HotSoS, even support WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger). Plus, you can set up automated messages that will free up your employees’ time while increasing guest engagement. Ditch Guest Room Phones for Smart Assistants Hotel guest room phones have been slowly dying out for years and the advent of smart assistants like Google Echo and Amazon Alexa accelerated their decline. Why? According to the Amadeus research, 61% of travelers would like to use voice assistant technology if present in their rooms. Hotels and larger groups like Viceroy are welcoming guests back to hotels by eliminating in-room phones and allowing them to order via the same technologies they’re using at home like mobile apps and smart speakers. Smart assistants powered by software like Volara are preprogrammed to control every facet of the in-room guest experience going far beyond the capabilities of in-room phones without adding significant cost. Volara’s voice technology integrates seamlessly into Amadeus HotSOS to fulfill service requests. “The reality is anything you can do to limit direct contact with other people and even our own surroundings is part of widespread change in personal behaviors. Guests no longer want to have to touch the remote control or use the guest room telephone to make service requests. If a guest has forgotten toiletries or needs to report maintenance issues for instance, or even play music, watch shows, set alarms, or request more towels, they will want to do so in a contactless manner. Having the ability to simply ask an in-room voice assistant to help fulfill special requests and preferences will be an opportunity to increase guest Loyalty,” says Volara CEO Dave Berger in an interview on the Amadeus blog. Eliminating Lobby Crowds with Contactless Check-In Like with contactless ordering, offering a contactless way for guests to check in to your hotel is the welcoming touch that every traveler wants these days. Amadeus’ research shows that 62% of travelers would prefer to handle check-in and check-out via an app, so hoteliers that don’t yet have a technology solution for contactless check-in are making it a priority to implement one. Both guests and employees enjoy peace of mind when they don’t need to exchange physical credit cards, IDs, registration cards, and pens. “There are a number of ways the PMS can become a key component of the new guest experience. First, advanced two-way integrations with other supporting systems (CRS for instance) will allow for synchronized data across platforms to capture and make data actionable data coming from new apps. Second, many PMS systems provide simple and robust integrations with hundreds of third-party systems to make the implementation of new mobile services and tools simple and painless. Finally, some PMS systems offer open APIs, which make it possible to integrate with custom internal apps. This allows hotels and hotel chains to innovate at their own pace, and be more agile,” says Patrick van der Wardt, Head of Sales Specialists International, SO, S&C, PMS at Amadeus. Besides just providing a solution for check-in without physical contact, contactless check-in software can personalize the guest experience further by offering upgrades and add-ons that can lead to incremental revenue. -- As we’ve learned throughout the pandemic, guest preferences and expectations are changing rapidly. COVID-19 ushered a new wave of contactless technologies and efficiency driving software into the hotel industry. As we prepare for a travel rebound, hoteliers are still in a prime position to optimize their tech stacks to ensure they are able to capture and maximize on new business opportunities. Every facet of the guest experience is being reimagined with the creative use of technology from booking to check out. Let market data like this Amadeus research and the needs of your own guests guide your technology decisions and set your hotel up for success in 2021. This content was created collaboratively by Amadeus and Hotel Tech Report.
Hotel Guest Experience Software Articles
‘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.
Since the advent of the pandemic, and well before it, contactless channels have garnered tremendous attention as a safe, efficient and effective way for hotels to communicate with their guests. In fact, today around 70% of hotels are already planning to adopt contactless technology for check-in, food ordering, concierge services and more. With its immense potential for the future of hotel operations and its rapid growth in guest preference, it’s no wonder why hoteliers are fast to adopt it. In this article, we’re exploring contactless communication and how it has become a necessary consideration when entering a new era of hospitality. The State of Hotel Communication Today Over the past 10 years, how hotels interact with their guests has changed greatly. The rise of COVID-19 not only pivoted many communication strategies, but accelerated the pace in which we adopt new digital forms of contact such as apps, social media platforms, and more. As a matter of fact, in a recent survey, consumers highlighted the desire for contactless payments (35%), digital room keys (26%) and digital messaging services (20%) as the top three changes that would make them feel more comfortable staying in a hotel. With the demand for new efficient communication channels progressing, the need for hoteliers to invest and evolve their digital programs becomes critical. Contactless Channels on The Rise Within hospitality, apps are undoubtedly one of the most influential contactless channels to adopt. In a Hotel Management 2020 report, 62 percent of respondents said they would prefer to use contactless check in (and out) through a hotel app. In addition 80 percent of respondents said they would download a hotel app that would allow them to check in, check out and get all information about the hotel. With an app, consumers can easily navigate the hotel experience (without face to face contact), whether it be by communicating directly with a staff member or mobile ordering something on-demand. Social media channels also hold a promising role in communication. According to “Statista, in the second quarter of 2018 the total number of social media users was 3.297 billion people worldwide, which corresponds to a penetration rate of 43% in a total market of 4.087 billion internet users.” Social channels have tremendous reach and cater to a wide variety of individuals. Using these channels, you can personalize the experience by getting a glimpse of guest social profiles, leverage automation features and send feedback surveys to better understand your guests. What’s more, social media isn’t segmented by geography, so hotels with greater international guests can utilize these channels to engage worldwide. Lastly, email and SMS will continue to rise in adoption. As two traditional channels that are already leveraged by a wide array of hotels for booking confirmations, itineraries, and post-stay follow ups it’s important to leverage both of these channels, in conjunction with more engaging channels, when communicating with guests. How Contactless Can Benefit Your Hotel Streamline booking and ordering. For hotels, contactless channels not only enhance the guest experience but also streamline hotel operations. According to Travel & Tourism Analyst, Ralph Hollister, it’s reported “in 2021, hotels will increase their adoption of technology that will reduce the number of touchpoints. Abilities such as online check-ins and check-outs, mobile keys and room settings controlled by Internet of Things (IoT) technology will become much more commonplace.” In this, administrative tasks such as booking and ordering will become much more streamlined. As an example, if a hotel has an app, dine-in ordering can be done through on-demand navigation. Customers can simply browse the dinner menu, click on their desired order and pay all from their personal device. From an operation standpoint, the whole process is automated, the order goes directly to the kitchen and management has direct access to the data from guest orders. Greater Customer Retention. As proven through the aforementioned statistics, contactless communication is a growing guest preference that can make or break the experience. By adopting contactless communication, you show your guests that you listen to their opinions and implement their preferences - which can come with a number of benefits. Aside from staying safe, by adopting guest desires, you increase the likelihood of greater satisfaction, improve upsell, encourage greater conversation, and of course, improve retention rates. What’s more, adapting to common preferences ensures you meet new customer demands as well. Insight for improved experiences. Using contactless channels, hotels can obtain insight that can’t be captured with face to face conversations. This can help tailor individual discussions, but also the experience as a whole. By referring back to conversations with guests, you can obtain insights such as: preferred communication channels, trending topics of conversation, busiest times of day, top performing employees, average response time, best performing touchpoints and so on. By utilizing this insight you can adjust experiences in real-time and allocate time and resources to specific areas of your business to ensure a satisfied stay. Technology Paving the Way It goes without saying that utilizing contactless channels within your hotel has tremendous benefits for both your guests and your hotel operations. However, managing these channels and gathering data in an effective and efficient manner can be complex, especially without the right technology. For many, utilizing a channel management system, or an automated experience platform can be the turning point for a successful contactless communication strategy. In fact, according to International Hospitality Review’s latest research, “a touchless, adaptable and customizable automation platform featuring all front-office operations and answering particular business requirements could be a solution that the industry needs post-Covid-19.” Having the right technology in place can be a game changer for hotels, whether for managing communication or gathering data. That said, regardless if an added technology is in the cards for your hotel, contactless communication should be a strong consideration. Adding convenience for customers and relieving employees of added work, it’s a massive tool and for entering a new era as a hotelier.
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.
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.
Keeping guests entertained has always been part of a hotel’s requirements—especially at resort and leisure hotels. Evening entertainment, free cable TV, and on-site activities such as table tennis or pool were all classic hotel entertainment options, but what will the 21st century bring for hotel entertainment? Outside the world of hotels, digital entertainment has grown to become the largest media industry in the world. The video game market is valued at a staggering $65 billion in the US this year alone, and Netflix earned a whopping $25 billion in revenue in 2020, and 2021 looks set to be another bumper year. But, with such drastic changes happening outside of the hotel room, it’s about time more efforts were made to bring entertainment like Netflix casting, digital games, and other forms of modern digital media to the hotel room. In this article, we’ll highlight just how hoteliers can utilize modern digital media channels to improve the stay for hotel guests and bring the hotel experience in line with the modern world. Bringing Hotel Rooms into the 21st Century As things currently stand, hotel rooms usually have a TV with access to cable or satellite TV subscriptions, but beyond this, there’s usually very little in hotel rooms to keep hotel guests entertained while they’re there. Now, you may be asking, “why would a guest stay in a hotel just to spend their time in the room? Surely they’ll spend most of their time outdoors?”. This is a valid argument, but what if the weather is bad for their entire stay? What if they have young children who need to be constantly kept entertained? Or what if the idea of chilling out in a hotel room, catching up on their favorite Netflix shows, and ordering room service, is what appeals to them the most? By assuming that there’s a low demand from guests to have access to modern digital media in the hotel room, hoteliers are unwittingly losing out on the potential to drive revenue from in-house outlets. If hoteliers keep guests engaged and content in their hotel room, they’re more likely to stay on-site, and maybe order room service or decide to eat in the hotel restaurant. This is a massive financial incentive for hoteliers to improve the level of digital entertainment in hotel rooms. Casting Netflix and Other Platforms Straight to the Hotel TV With account-based streaming now being the preferred way for many people to consume their favorite shows, it opens up a new array of possibilities for hoteliers. Casting—when a user streams content from their personal device to another device like a TV—is a hugely popular form of watching shows on platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+. However, due to security concerns over the possibility of guests’ account details being stolen, many hotels don’t offer this cutting-edge technology. For hoteliers that really want to offer their guests a seamless experience, where they can continue watching Tiger King or The Queens Gambit in their hotel room from where they left off at home, there are some solutions out there. SuitePad’s SuiteCast solution, for example, gets around the security issue by automatically logging out and deleting any user details data between guest stays, effectively overcoming one of the biggest blockers for this kind of technology. By enabling guests to take their home streaming experience into the hotel room, hoteliers will demonstrate that they understand what guests really want—more control over their hotel stay experience. If guests want to spend their time adventuring outdoors, that’s fine, but equally, if guests want to stay in their room, binge-watching The House Wives of Beverly Hills and ordering room service, there should be nothing stopping them! Digital Gaming in the Hotel Room Of course, watching TV isn’t the only pastime people enjoy—gaming is now one of the biggest multimedia activities in the world. Yet, this is another feature that many hotel rooms lack. Access to high-speed internet and the development of state-of-the-art gaming systems means people can now fight dragons, play football, or race cars with their friends in a virtual world. So why haven’t hotels adapted to add gaming to the hotel room experience? One answer could be down to logistics. Many hotels lack the WiFi infrastructure necessary to enable high-speed gaming in all rooms. With the development of high-speed internet and 5G moving at an incredible rate, it won’t be long before this barrier is overcome, but for the time being, this is a realistic barrier for hoteliers. Another answer is that hoteliers currently have no way of ensuring that guest’s details are kept private. Much like using a Netflix of Amazon Prime account, gamers store sensitive data on online profiles that allows them to play from wherever they are. The problem for hotels is that there are currently no solutions that allow guests to log into their Playstation, Xbox, or Steam account with the knowledge that they will be securely logged out. As gaming becomes equally as big as watching TV in the modern world, hotel tech companies will need to think of ways to bring high-quality gaming into the hotel room in a secure and convenient way. This is one area that we expect will develop in the next five years or so. However, not all guests crave fast graphics and online gaming. Many guest room solutions actually enable guests to play simple games in the hotel room—and they are very popular. The popularity of these simple yet addictive games just goes to show that there is a demand for gaming in the hotel room. Data from SuitePad, which provides games on their guest room tablets, shows that many people still enjoy playing games as a pastime. The most popular game played on SuitePad devices in 2020 was Memory, which clocked up over 100,000 sessions among hotel guests using SuitePad devices. In second and third places came Sudoku and Chess which both clocked in at just over 76,000 sessions. Considering this was a year when fewer people were staying in hotels, these numbers suggest that there is a demand for more interactive entertainment options for guests in the hotel room. It also shows that despite being offered more modern games such as Angry Birds, many guests still prefer the timeless classics. Providing Convenience by Giving Guests More Control There are things hoteliers can do right now to make the in-room entertainment experience more convenient for guests. For example, centralizing some of the hotel room’s features is a good example. Many people actually now use their smartphones to control their TV, and it won’t be long before many TV companies phase TV controls out altogether—they’re just another unnecessary piece of equipment cluttering people’s homes. Using smart devices to control TVs also enables a much greater depth of control. For example, you can search for programs using filters such as genre and language, and you can have an overview of the TV schedule on your smart device screen rather than needing to flick through channels to find something to watch. These solutions are already available for hotels. SuitePad TV Control is one example, but this feature is also popular across many in-room tech providers. For hotels that want to quickly improve the in-room entertainment experience that guests have at their hotel, this is a great quick win that can be implemented at short notice and for a nominal fee. Breaking into the Digital Hotel Room Market Although there are many options out there for hoteliers, it’s important that they still offer some of the original in-room entertainment options that guests have come to expect. Right now, not everyone has a Netflix subscription, so hotels should still offer cable TV options. However, as more and more services continue to be offered on digital platforms, cable TV, and other legacy entertainment options will become obsolete. In this sense, investing in digital entertainment options for your hotel should be done sooner rather than later, as your competitors will soon be making these investments, and you don’t want to be left behind at a time when the industry is going through such profound change. If you’re an enthusiastic and innovative hotelier, you’ll need to start assessing your future hotel room entertainment options now. No doubt offering innovative entertainment ideas will drive business, but whether you are a hotel chain or an independent hotel, creating these high standards will make you and your brand an industry leader. If you’re serious about offering better hotel room entertainment, now is the time to strike, because this space is soon to be one of the hottest areas in modern hotel technology.
2021 is a year of hope: hope for the return to normal, hope for the ability to travel again, and hope for hard-hit industries to fully recover. The hotel industry has struggled a great deal because of the pandemic, but this year, it looks forward to recovery. To effectively make the most of this year, hotels will need to find ways to optimize their revenue. Here are some strategies hotels can use to do so. 1. Web chat Everyone in the hotel industry knows that direct bookings allow hotels to keep more of their profits. In order to drive more direct bookings, hotels can open up a live channel of communication on their websites. Live chat can allow browsing prospective guests to easily get all the information they need in a timely manner, and it exposes them to your hotel’s excellent customer service before they even make a booking. With over 90% of consumers being satisfied after talking to businesses over live chat, web chat can open up many opportunities for direct bookings. 2. Upsell early check-in, late check-out, and room upgrades. No matter what type of hotel you manage, there is always an opportunity for upselling early check-ins, late check-outs, and room upgrades. Hotels can use messaging to stay in communication with guests and easily let them know about these offers. If guests seem to be arriving early or if they need more time on their way out, hotels can offer early check-in or late check-out via text message, and guests can pay a small fee to have a more comfortable experience that best fits their schedules. Guests may not immediately think of these offers when they’re stressed over checking out on time, so it’s important to remind people of them. Also, hotels have many possibilities when it comes to room upgrades. Whether that be changing the assigned room itself to have a nicer view or including extra amenities like a more luxurious toiletries package, hotels can offer up these upgrades to guests. This allows a more personalized experience while simultaneously optimizing revenue. 3. Upsell hotel-specific amenities via scheduled messaging Of course, every hotel has its own special amenities, facilities, and/or activities that can be used to upsell guests. Does your hotel have a spa? Do you have a partnership with nearby golf courses? Is there live music at the restaurant? Let guests know about everything that’s going on at your hotel. Sending every guest a text message can take a lot of time, and when your staff is busy with ensuring everything is running smoothly at the property, it can be hard to remember to take the time to send those text messages. To save that time, hotels can set up scheduled messages that automatically send out to every guest on property, so you can remind everyone about that happy hour special right before it begins. 4. Use digital booklets In an age where everything is digital, hotels can showcase their best offerings through digital means as well. With digital booklets, hotels can display important notices such as social distancing guidelines, include YouTube videos such as instructions on how to start the shower, and feature amenities in a visually appealing way. There’s no need to print marketing brochures for every room when you can simply direct every guest to a comprehensive one-pager online. Digital booklets can allow guests to easily access all the information they need to know about the hotel while simultaneously encouraging them to try all that the hotel has to offer. Direct guests to make spa reservations, or include your hotel restaurant menu on the booklet to allow guests to make food orders straight from their phones. When everything is just a few clicks away, hotels can effectively drive additional revenue. 5. Invite past guests back It’s five times more cost-efficient to nurture an existing customer than it is to attract a new one. That’s why it’s important to build strong relationships with guests. Loyal guests already know that they will enjoy their time at your hotel, so you don’t need to spend extra time convincing them of that. All you need to do is to continue providing excellent and personalized experiences, so they want to keep coming back for more. To truly build stronger relationships with past guests, try personalized remarketing campaigns that target past guests based on interests and behaviors. Invite guests back for special offers that cater to them personally, and they’ll be more likely to come back. And when sent through text-message, marketing campaign messages will be much more likely to be engaged with, since 95% of SMS marketing messages get opened. In Conclusion With the pandemic gradually getting under control, it’s very likely that hotels will see more eager travelers later in the year. As the hotel industry reaches that point, it can strategically optimize revenue and speed up recovery.
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.
As the pandemic continues to bring uncertainty to the travel industry, we know one thing’s certain: technology is a key partner for hotels that want to make creative changes to their operations to not only survive but improve the guest experience (and maybe even the bottom line!) during these trying times. While today’s innovation might be driven by necessity, running a tighter ship will deliver positive change in the long run. Utilizing technology effectively now, with a focus on positive guest experiences and efficient operations, can greatly benefit hotels that choose to take advantage of it for years to come. To better illustrate how technology provides the “building blocks” for innovation in the hotel space, ALICE Creative Director Sean Cohen spoke with Richard See III from the San Luis Resort properties in Galveston, TX. Richard oversees room operations at the group’s three hotels, including the San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center, the Hilton Galveston Island Resort, and the Holiday Inn Galveston Beach Resort. Curious to hear about some real-life examples of using technology to build better guest experiences and more efficient operations? Let’s dive in. Driving Guest Engagement From a Safe Distance If you want to better engage with guests, your hotel needs to communicate via their preferred method. And for an increasing number of guests, that preferred method is text messaging. We all know how emails can get lost in the shuffle, not to mention how they can come off as spammy, so text messages provide a quick, concise way to get your point across. A technology partner that supports both text and email communication, such as ALICE, can not only help you communicate important information but also engage with guests in fun ways. At one of Richard’s properties, during their annual Halloween pumpkin contest, guests could cast their votes via email or text message. Nearly 130 guests participated - but only 2 submitted votes via email. Text messaging was by far the most effective way to engage. Contests are just the tip of the iceberg; with a reliable communication platform that supports text messages, you can build upon guest relationships in a plethora of creative ways. Identifying Issues On Property Despite Low Staffing Levels Does your hotel have a chronic air conditioning problem? Or noise during the night? If you’ve never heard about issues like these, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Using a technology partner that houses all guest communication can help you uncover issues at your property potentially unknown to management and, once fixed, improve the guest experience. As Richard says, “Before ALICE, our information was not being captured and processed efficiently. Now if we need to locate an issue, we can simply reference ALICE, the data is there. ALICE allows us to see and solve problems in real-time.” Data tracked and exported from a system like ALICE provides the necessary statistics to determine issues that need resolution - and just how prevalent those issues might be. Without a digital record of these guest complaints or interactions, it’s nearly impossible to determine the frequency and severity of such issues. Ensuring Accountability with Less Oversight Since platforms like ALICE track every interaction, case, and task assignment, employees can hold true accountability and see each case through to completion. When a task or case involves multiple employees or departments, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. But if the task is housed in a digital platform, visible to the entire team or departments, this extra transparency helps to ensure nothing is missed. As Richard states, “we love that ALICE emails the original creator of the ticket once the issue has been resolved. That way the team members involved can be certain that the case was completed.” Enabling Employees to Onboard New Skills as Managers Flex Staffing Levels Technology isn’t just a partner in building a more efficient hotel; the right technology platforms can also help you flex staffing levels and employee skills. ALICE’s platform, for example, allows internal users to assign tasks to certain departments and employees. At one of Richard’s San Luis hotels, the task of placing a room amenity like a “happy birthday” card is typically assigned to the concierge department. However, if any tasks need to be transferred between departments, ALICE makes the transition smooth. Within the ALICE dashboard, any necessary task reassignment is as easy as clicking a button. Similarly, public area attendants would typically receive task assignments related to keeping the lobby clean, but with less traffic in the lobby and a scaled-down housekeeping team, housekeeping managers would reassign tasks like bringing extra towels up to a room to public area attendants. The entire process was as simple as a few mouse clicks; public area attendants would see these new tasks in their regular task dashboard. Quickly Pivoting Operating Models and SOPs During the pandemic, many hotels needed to make tough operational decisions. At Richard’s Hilton property, they decided to consolidate their housekeeping staff with the neighboring San Luis Resort. In a typical hotel, without a technology partner, an operational shakeup like this could be a nightmare. But with ALICE in place, the transition at Richard’s hotels was actually quite seamless. He describes: “Using San Luis as our home base, we were able to dispatch tasks and manage both hotels with one housekeeping department. Having ALICE at our disposal made task management much easier because we were able to forward the housekeeping requests from the Hilton property to [the San Luis]. As Hilton guests called down from their rooms, we added the tickets in ALICE, which then alerted staff members at The San Luis next door. [If we didn’t have ALICE], an extreme shift like this would have likely been flawed.” Of course, we certainly don’t want any hotel to be in the situation of needing to let go of a department, but as Richard’s example shows, even in tough spots technology can provide the building blocks your hotel needs to survive. As we look toward the future of hotel operations, technology is the backbone of exciting trends and ideas that will shape the guest experience going forward. Hotels that embrace technology will be the ones to transform their operations using the high-tech to their full potential - including some creative, out-of-the-box use cases like we’ve illustrated here. This content was created collaboratively by ALICE and Hotel Tech Report.
Digital registration for hotels is a win all around. It makes your hotel safer by reducing contact. It’s more convenient for guests. And it helps your staff keep better records. Many hotels were already moving towards digital registration because of these advantages, but the Covid-19 era caused everyone to rush towards digital registration whether they were ready or not. Now that we’ve all more or less settled into digital registration, it’s time to turn our focus towards making it better. With that in mind, this article aims to show you five immediately applicable steps you can take to improve your hotel’s digital registration process. 1. Collect guest data from the outset With guests finding hotels and registering online, it’s easier than ever to plug them into your marketing channels. With their permission, you can easily collect guests’ email and social media accounts. This allows you to reach out to them to keep your brand in the front of their mind, and it also allows you to use their data to learn what it is that makes guests choose your hotel over others. But it all starts with using data intentionally. 2. Leveraging popular messaging channels to set expectations When guests digitally register, it allows you to easily open communication channels before they ever even arrive. A texting toolkit like Akia can integrate with your property management systems (PMS) to personalize information and even automate many of the common queries, only directing the conversation to staff when necessary. This frees up staff time and it significantly quickens response times for customers. 3. Go fully contactless by offering mobile key The last thing people want after a long day of traveling is to stand in a slow-moving line at a hotel lobby. Even without the need for social distancing these days, it is simply a more convenient guest experience to enter a hotel and go directly to your room and then directly into a cozy hotel bed. Digital key platforms like Flexipass easily integrate with your digital registration process in order to provide the absolute most convenient guest experience possible. 4. Audit cybersecurity and data storage There’s a lot on the upside of digital registration, but let’s not ignore the downside. Data is currency these days, and we make ourselves targets when collecting a lot of digital data. Improving security is your responsibility, and it is also in your best interests; we’ve all seen a brand dragged through the mud after a security breach. A good PMS will have high quality security systems built into it. As you further integrate digital registration, it’s time to make sure that you and your staff are informed of security best practices and keeping the PMS up to date. 5. Focus on usability and experience design Hotels use a variety of programs from other companies in our digital world. Many of these digital platforms allow you to customize them in order to present your consistent brand image across all of the platforms; the platforms likely will even help you do this. It’s a step you should absolutely take. Your brand is the reason guests choose you over all the other hotels they see listed nearby, so make sure they see it bright and clear. -- With the rush to implement a hotel digital registration process, hoteliers need to make sure they are also providing the best customer experience possible. You will see the most immediate benefit to your hotel’s digital registration process by improving the data use, communication, convenience, security, and presentation of your digital platforms.