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

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month 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. Hub OS launched 'DND' and 'Make up Room' statuses for Guest Touch.  The system now also allows hotel guests to set their rooms into 'Do not disturb' or 'Make up room' statuses on their own mobile device by scanning a QR Code in their room.  This provides added convenience for guests while helping hotels more efficiently allocate staffing resources. 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. Cendyn adds DIY content management to eLoyalty. Cendyn’s eLoyalty now puts customers in the driver’s seat to seamlessly manage and control the content that’s served to their members with a full-service loyalty solution for any type of hotel or hotel brand.  Prior to this update, eLoyalty had static workflows for serving content to loyalty members but now hoteliers can log into a CMS to create different pathways and serve different content journeys or offers based on characteristics of various segments within the loyalty program. Bookboost launches CRM.  Guest messaging platform Bookboost also extended it's product to offer guest segmentation and email marketing. Manage your first-party customer data to track interactions to create personalised guest messages. Utilise a single system to manage guest engagement and build strong relationships. Clairvoyix Launches Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud.  The Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud brings fully integrated transient sales and marketing automation to Oracle Hospitality customers. Utilzing the Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform, Opera in the Cloud customers can immediately start direct marketing to valuable past guests as past guest data is automatically transferred to the Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution. Guestjoy launches repeat customers.  Guestjoy launched a hotel CRM system for marketing managers in smaller hotels that helps them to build a customer database who is interested in getting special campaigns and offers. The tools they are using only allow them to set up a newsletter without knowing the background of a customer. Duve Guest Segments. Duve's Guest Segments allow hoteliers to send different messages to different guests, based on their profile and data you’ve collected from them. This includes reservation details, personal information, and more.  With Guest Segments, hotels can use both pre-scheduled or instant messaging to create a message to specific guests and provide an improved guest experience. Datavision DVGuest Analytics.  Datavision is adding powerful guest analytics features to our comprehensive business intelligence platform. Guest data is extracted and combined from a single source (PMS) or a variety of additional sources (Spa, Golf, Dining, CRM, etc.) supporting a 360-degree views of guest value, spend patterns and stay behavior. LaaSie launches Helix. Laasie has extended its core Reward Marketplace technology beyond the hotel website and booking engine, to bring personalized rewards to email campaigns. Each recipient of the campaign receives a uniquely personalized reward offer that resonates with his/her interests, demographics, and purchase behavior. iReckonU launches IKnowU Customer Data Platform. The IKnowU Customer Data Platform emerges as Ireckonu’s latest way to leverage its proven CORE Middleware. Synchronizing with your various PMS, CRS and other service delivery systems, IKnowU will become your system of record for clean, consolidated guest profiles. IKnowU’s powerful features include match & merge, identity and privacy management, subscription enrollment, communication control, behavioral and event data, and AI-assisted segmentation. It can also bring in third-party data. Simplotel Guest Connect.  Simplotel Guest Connect helps hotels convert their website content (promotions, and offers) into an email template with a single-click. Also, with a property management system integration, hotels can send mails and upsells to guests who book through any channel.   Trend #5: Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency The term commercial refers to the concept that while historically there have been silod departments within hotel companies like revenue management or marketing, these walls are quickly being broken down as departments become more deeply entertwined.  The catalyst for this evolution in decades old operating model has undoubtedly been technology and the transparency, access to information and interconnectedness that it has unlocked.  This is not the first time breaking down departmental silos to emphasize a more hollistic commercial strategy has been a key theme of one of HTR's innovation recaps and it certainly won't be the last.  Impala Contracting.  Say hello to fast and easy hotel direct contracting. Whether it’s signing new deals or managing existing ones, Contracting by Impala enables direct contracts between hotels and tour operators, agencies or corporate travel platforms. We take away the costly integrations and lengthy negotiation cycles to negotiate deals in days, not months. List your hotel for free IDeaS Profit Optimization.  Profit Optimization for IDeaS G3 RMS considers any combination of servicing costs, ancillary revenue and associated margins, and acquisition or channel costs. This approach enables hotels, resorts, casinos, and more to get the most profitable guests into their property, while maximizing other inventory beyond the guest room, such as restaurants, bars, retail, and activities. HotelIQ Decision Cloud.  With the new HotelIQ Decision Cloud, hoteliers can organize data, analyze it, plan next steps, and collaborate with their team and across their organization. In doing so, we aim to give hoteliers the lenses they need to pull insights from complex data sets and make more intelligent decisions. RateGain launches Demand.ai. RateGain launched an AI powered demand forecasting tool, that helps hoteliers and other travel companies track hyper-local demand and the underlying factors impacting demand – thereby helping them optimize their commercial strategy. Event Temple Launches Chain Management Dashboard.  Event Temple’s Chain Management Dashboard is an above property sales enablement tool for chains and multi-property management groups. Organizations now have a hub to view bookings, leads, accounts, contacts, reports, and manage sales across multiple properties. Pace launches Restrictions Management. Take control of your business mix. Use restrictions to control your business mix. Pace will suggest when to close out corporate rates and maximise revenue from your transient business. Avvio launches allora ai Hotel Booking Retention Engine.  Avvio developed a Hotel Booking Retention Engine that sits within the allora.ai booking engine to counteract the rise in hotel room cancellations. They did this by identifying at risk bookings, and alerting hoteliers in an actionable format, so that measures can be taken to protect bookings.  allora.ai’s Hotel Booking Retention Engine uses machine learning and data science to assess cancelation risk for every individual booking on the books. MeetingPackage launches group pricing module.  MeetingPackage offers venues to sell in a transactional way via their own channels and through distribution. Venues are able to manage pricing of Meetings & Events services flexibly from one centralised place to all distribution channels. For example, minimum spend requirement, meeting package price per delegate or meeting room price per hour, half-day, full-day. Including seasonal prices and corporate negotiated rates. ProfitSword enhanced currency conversion functionality.  ProfitSword has updated the application to support viewing reports in any currency desired. As part of this update, we allow multiple exchange rates to be defined for any currency pair, depending on your reporting needs. The firm added flexibility to reports allowing a user to choose an exchange rate based on the data being reported eg; balance sheet data converted with a month end exchange rate, accounting data with month average, and budget with an annual exchange rate all in the same report. InnRoad launches new Pace and Pickup reports.  innRoad's new Pace & Pick Up Reports are designed to give users easy access to their property's performance with the click of a button. Users can compare their performance over time and see if they are above or below on their occupancy, revenue, and rooms sold. Avalon Analytics launched automated PowerPoint presentations. One of the pain points of a revenue manager is the time spent preparing for weekly and monthly meetings. This remains true at hotel-level and above-property level, where you may need to prepare a market performance review for senior executives, ranging from VPs Operations to Owners. Generate 20+ PowerPoint slides for your weekly revenue meetings and month-end owner meetings within minutes. Avalon allows you to load entire presentations that are always up-to-date and ready to be delivered to your inbox.     D-EDGE Launches MediaGenius. D-EDGE provides hoteliers with an all-in-one platform to manage and monitor digital media campaigns: search, metasearch, display, and social media. With MediaGenius, hoteliers can easily follow the evolution of income and bookings generated via AdWords, analyze their campaigns’ performance, and fine-tune their strategy. The Hotels Network Launches Bench Direct. BenchDirect by The Hotels Network is an interactive analytics platform for hotels to benchmark their direct channel performance compared to the market and competition. The tool provides hotels with competitive insights across more than 30 key metrics specifically related to direct bookings. VoucherCart launches enterprise. VoucherCart Enterprise is a SaaS software product used by international and national hospitality operators with responsibility for marketing, sales, and revenue across multiple business units/member organisations. It enables them to promote and sell vouchers, gift cards, memberships, and tickets (pre-paid instant delivery) associated with their products and services and manage these centrally across all member organisations allowing cross-organisational redeem and usage, while also supporting voucher management and sale at member organisation level. Hotel Res Bot Launches AI Channel Manager. Many distribution partners such as Secret Escapes don't have interfaces to transfer bookings automatically, which means they simply send an email and reservation staff must manually enter these bookings into the PMS. The HERA AI Channel Manager reads those incoming emails and automatically pushes them to your PMS directly or via your CRS or traditional Channel Manager. Trend #6: Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers If you follow the tech world, you know that payments are big money.  You don't have to look far to see a massive head turning round like Stripe's $600M Series H (who even knew series H was a thing...), Affirm's market debut 100% pop or Plaid's (almost) $5B+ merger with Visa that was later blocked by regulators.  Other than being the lifeblood of every business on the planet, payments infrastructure is so immensely valuable because its extremely challenging to develop and maintain compliance.  While there are tons of payments solutions out there, there are few that have truly built out domain specific offerings specifically for the hotel industry to meet its unique challenges (and opportunities) and hotel tech companies are spotting the opportunity. Cloudbeds Payments. Hotel payment processing has been complicated for too long. Cloudbeds Payments provides easy, transparent and contactless payment processing that is fully integrated into the Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform, saving your property time and money. Bbot Tab Sync. Keep guests happy and servers relaxed with Bbot Tab Sync, a seamless addition to the Bbot Order + Pay solution. Plus, activating Tab Sync for in-venue and in-room dining guests gets you exclusive access to our BOGO deal on handheld devices! Adyen partners with Shiji to simplify hospitality payments.  This new integration simplifies the payment process for hospitality businesses by removing the need for a list of platforms and suppliers which usually includes separate processes for property management systems, food and beverage point of sale, and guest experience platforms not to mention the different payments service providers for each. SmartHOTEL launches SmartCONNECT for Payment. SmartCONNECT for Payment ensures that hotel guests’ payments can be made quickly, securely, and hospitably. With the click of a button, payments for online and offline bookings are automatically billed by the payment service provider of choice and processed directly on the guest folio of the hotel’s Property Management System (PMS). dailypoint™ Launches Payment Link. The dailypoint™ Payment link is part of the Booking Manager. It allows hoteliers to automate payments and process them securely according to PCI and PSD2 regulations. Implementing the payment link relieves the reservations department and minimizes the risk of fraud since no more credit card data is being processed directly or stored at the hotel. RoomOrders Launches Digital Tourist Hubs.  The RoomOrders digital tourist hub is an ordering and payment network of hospitality providers (hotels and resorts connected to surrounding vendors in a revenue-sharing model) to protect from accommodation giants like Booking dot com and AirBnB and restaurants from delivery giants like UberEats and GrubHub as well as excursion and tours agencies like Expedia and TripAdvisor.

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2022)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 day 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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The 9 Most Futuristic High Tech Hotels in the World

by
Hotel Tech Report
8 months ago

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

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
8 months ago

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

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The 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
10 months ago

Each year Hotel Tech Report surveys thousands of industry insiders to find the best hotel tech jobs and employers globally. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the hotel industry.  The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 121 million of the 330 million jobs tied to tourism around the world will be lost in 2020.  Despite existential challenges, hotels and their vendors have proven resilient in the face of the biggest challenge ever posed to the hospitality industry by working together. But there’s always opportunity in crisis.  The pandemic has advanced digitization in the global economy by at least 5 years according to most experts.  Hotels that already had adopted technology like contactless check-in and guest messaging software have had a massive advantage since the pandemic broke out and the importance of technology for running a successful hotel business will continue to rise over the coming years meaning that demand for hotel technology talent will grow with it. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we’ve interviewed countless hoteliers about their journeys from being hoteliers into lucrative technology careers like Del Ross, Marco Benvenuti, Sameer Umar, and Kevin Brown. For hoteliers furloughed on the sidelines, there is an unprecedented opportunity to pivot into a technology career leveraging skills and knowledge from hospitality experience.   But which hotel tech companies should you apply to? Every year we do the hard work for you and survey thousands of hotel tech professionals to find the best companies to work for in the hospitality industry. We ask respondents to rate their employers from 1-10 on these key variables:  Work-life balance Personal development opportunities Gender equality Confidence in company direction Values alignment 2021 Bonus Question: Rate your firm’s COVD-19 crisis response Hotel Tech Report creates this list each year for two reasons: (1) to help industry professionals find the best hospitality tech jobs and (2) to help hotel tech buyers understand that it’s just as important to partner with great organizations as it is to find great software tools and products. Vendor culture is important to every aspect of a vendor relationship: Product: Great workplaces attract the best talent who make the best products Customer Support: Happy client reps give better service and stay around longer developing deeper relationships. Sales: When a sales team has high turnover, innovation gets strangled because there isn’t enough cash coming in the door to invest in innovation. Our 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech list features companies who foster wonderful work environments for employees.  In return, those employees deliver incredible products and services to clients. Without further adieu here are 2021’s 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech…     10. Siteminder (TIE) Right before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, industry leader Siteminder reached an incredible milestone earning itself unicorn status.  Under the stewardship of CEO Sankar Narayan the firm quickly composed itself when the pandemic broke out and began rolling out initiatives to support both employees and customers like its World Hotel Index sharing real-time data with the industry when historical data just wouldn’t cut it.  Siteminder has an internal slack channel called #stayingsocial dedicated strictly to team members having a social communal space in the age of remote work.  This is pretty typical for a small startup but much rarer in the world of 700 employee behemoths.  The great part about working at a large startup-like Siteminder is that there’s almost limitless upward mobility according to one employee working in operations at the firm, “They allow me opportunities to take on more responsibilities that are even beyond my scope to develop my skills and prep me up for bigger roles. They also give leadership training to enhance to continue developing my capabilities.”  If you’re looking for a fast-paced global startup on a world domination path - then you should absolutely be dropping a resume at Siteminder.  The best part is that they’ve got offices all around the world so even if you prefer the WFH life your colleagues shouldn’t be too far away no matter where you call home.     10. Atomize (TIE) This is Atomize’s first time making Hotel Tech Report’s annual Best Places to Work list but we doubt it will be their last.  In true Swedish fashion Atomize rates amongst the highest on the list for gender equality with a 50% ratio of men to women on its leadership team.  Atomize also rates very highly for culture alignment with a score of 97.8%.  Perhaps the biggest standout for Atomize was how highly employees rated the firm’s COVID-19 response and support for clients during a crisis.  “Everyone from finance to product development has chipped in to try to support clients. We have for instance developed a relief-program for those that are hurting really bad, we have updated the product to amend for the large drop in occupancy for hotels, etc,” one Atomize executive told Hotel Tech Report.  Atomize made it through COVID-19 without a single layoff which is a testament to the longevity of the business and its and commitment to team members.  During the crisis Atomize stayed calm, launched the 2.0 version of their core RMS product, and even found time to bring the team together for a BBQ this summer during a slow down in transmission rates.     9. Hotel Effectiveness Georgia (the U.S. state not the country) based Hotel Effectiveness is in the business of helping hotel owners more efficiently manage labor but the question is: how well do they manage their own labor? It turns out they do a pretty darned good job at fostering internal culture.  Prior to the pandemic labor costs were the biggest focus area for most hotel ownership and management groups - despite the shift in focus Hotel Effectiveness managed to grow through the pandemic all while placing a heavy emphasis on quality of life for employees.  Team members cite a high percentage of employees being groomed from junior roles into leadership positions, flexible PTO programs, and strong opportunities for women.  PTO is great but Hotel Effectiveness management goes one step further where they encourage team members to completely unplug and not even check email during their vacation.  Adding icing to the cake, employees raved about the firm’s response to COVID-19 where it was able to grow without any layoffs needed.  One engineer raved about the Company’s COVID-19 response, “Hotel Effectiveness immediately shifted priorities specifically to address the changing needs of our clients. Hotel Effectiveness provided new guidance materials, payment options, and built new features (such as Daily Wellness Check-In) under tight deadlines to meet the new needs of our customers.”     8. EasyWay Big congrats to the first-ever Israeli startup to make this list!  If you’ve ever been to Tel Aviv or the Start-up Nation (Israel), perhaps a job interview with EasyWay is the excuse you needed to visit one of the most amazing cities in the world packed with beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a foodie scene that’s truly in a league of its own.  EasyWay is the quintessential startup with a mentality that so long as you hit your KPIs - the rest of your life is totally flexible.  An EasyWay executive’s quote to Hotel Tech Report about the last 12-months at the company says it all, “The work around the clock in the COVID-19 time was crazy.  We have developed so much stuff, that I almost miss this period. We've learned a lot from that, and staid on our feet! The rest of the team was great and it really gave me confidence in my own abilities.  If you're the kind of person who likes to work hard and play hard - you’d be wise to check out EasyWay’s open positions.      7. Asksuite This is Asksuite’s second year making the list and true to their commercial team’s motto “rockets don’t have reverse”, even a pandemic couldn’t slow down this high flying Brazilian startup.  Florianopolis may not be a hotel tech hub (yet) but the Asksuite team has access to lessons in language, hospitality and other training to upskill their way into global domination.  During the pandemic, leaders have made themselves available for 1:1 meetings to support all colleagues and perhaps it’s this close communication that leads Asksuite employees to rate 98% confidence in the future success of the firm.  Asksuite employees frequently cite an onboarding process that makes all team members feel like a part of the family in short order.     6. RoomRaccoon Despite the pandemic RoomRaccoon doubled the firm’s headcount in 2020 and achieved a major milestone in reaching 1,000 clients.  Employees frequently cite similar aspects of the culture as differentiators like their annual international week at the Netherlands headquarters and an inclusive onboarding program.  One employee within the marketing department told Hotel Tech Report, “This year RoomRaccoon decided to start hiring more new colleagues against the market trend of furlough and letting people go. To smoothen the onboarding process of our new hires we've created an E-learning program and two intensive onboarding weeks. So far we've onboarded 15 new hires since July 2020 that immediately are getting results. Something I'm really proud of!”  If you’re looking for an ambitious organization with a strong remote culture and complementary annual trips to the Netherlands - don’t hesitate and check out open listings at RoomRaccoon.     5. Alliants The Alliants story is the cure to the common venture funded business gone wrong story.  Alliants built the business developing custom software for ultra luxury hotel brands like Four Season and Jumeirah before ever dipping their toes into the SaaS world.  That means they’ve got killer products, an eye for design and engineering to back it up.  Starting in a consultative role for luxury brands has afforded Alliants a luxury not many early stage SaaS products have - cash flow.  How would this impact you when you apply for a role there?  Alliants employees are given a $5,000 stipend to invest in their own education and training.  Whether it’s a paid marketing course or intro to Ruby on Rails - at Alliants you will be able to create your own journey and take control of your destiny.  Have you ever had a boss block your calendar so people can’t book meetings with you? Well, Alliants employees have.  During winter months with less daylight, CEO Tristan Gadsby blocked the entire team’s calendars from 11:30am - 1:30pm to encourage team members to get outside, walk or simply catch some rays.  If that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will.     4. ALICE This ain’t ALICE’s first rodeo, well it’s their fourth if we want to be precise about it.  ALICE has made Hotel Tech Report’s Best Places to Work list 4 years in a row (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021).  ALICE is an incredible place to work for former hoteliers because employees truly act as a strategic extension of their partner properties.  During the pandemic, ALICE quickly pivoted to rollout closure checklists and other free assets to help partners quickly reconfigure their operations for the new normal.  “The most memorable achievement while working at ALICE this past year was being able to provide support for our employees during the pandemic. The pandemic-related fatigue and anxiety impacted everyone and in different ways. We were able to provide support to our employees through group therapy sessions, health and wellness initiatives, increased one-on-one check-ins regarding fatigue, increased opportunities for learning and connection with one another virtually. I am so proud of how the leadership at ALICE has led us through the most difficult time in our industry's history, and with such care for both our customers, our industry as a whole, and our employees,” says one ALICE team member in an HR role.  Just as important as supporting clients through COVID-19 is supporting colleagues.  ALICE team members were constantly comforted that management understood the stress and challenges they were facing during this historic yet tragic year, encouraging an environment of transparency and honesty about how to cope with natural distractions from work in times of stress.     3. hotelkit Austria-based hotelkit is another repeat visitor on this list moving up from 4th to 3rd place.  Founded in 2012 by hotelier Marius Donhauser, hotelkit is a majority female-run business that’s growing rapidly but responsibly throughout Europe.  hotelkit’s team motto is “one team one dream” and while the team had to work remotely for a good portion of the year, colleagues are hopeful that 2021 will bring back the annual hotelkit Christmas party famous for great eats and poker.  Under Marius’ leadership, hotelkit has fostered a culture that feels like family so it’s no wonder that employees rate the culture so highly across every single vector.     2. Cloudbeds Cloudbeds may be the fastest-growing hotel tech company right now so while their headquarters are in sunny San Diego the Company has got Silicon Valley energy pumping through its veins.  Not to mention, Cloudbeds is extremely global with local managers in 40 countries. On March 11th (yes that’s right when COVID-19 took the world by storm) Cloudbeds announced the closing of an $80M funding round.  Cloudbeds employees tend to share two main things in common: (1) they are extremely performance-driven and (2) they LOVE to travel. One Cloudbeds employee within the operations department told Hotel Tech Report, “I managed to get promoted on my 1 anniversary day at Cloudbeds, I was so happy and everyone was so attentive to me during this process. Cloudbeds is an amazing company, full of amazing individuals, it's so nice to see the owners in our calls and engaged with us all at all times. I used to think I had worked at good companies, till I met Cloudbeds. This is where I want to stay and grow. It will be hard for any other company to take me from here.”  Cloudbeds has TONS of openings so make sure to browse their career page if you’re in the market.     1. Mews This is Mews’ 3rd year making the list ranking #2 in 2019 and #3 in 2020 - but this is their first year topping the list which is a testament to the strong culture at the firm.  Like most fast-growing companies, the pandemic wreaked havoc on projections and business plans for Mews leading to some difficult decisions needing to be made.  Mews not only came through what was maybe the darkest moment in the history of the hotel industry but came out stronger than ever before.  Mews leadership set a strong course for the business cutting expenses, reorganizing the team, rebranding, focusing on remote deployments, and even making an acquisition.  Quite a busy year - even if things had been normal.  Mews management has created one of those infectious startup cultures that can almost feel cult-like at times often intoxicating entire trade show floors (pre-COVID).  It’s not often that employees at an aggressive high-performance tier 1 venture-backed business get to see their founder dancing through a town hall (affectionately named Mews Con) in a silly costume.  Mews pivoted from hyper-growth mode into a sharp focus on profitability right-sizing the business and is poised to come out of the pandemic far stronger than it went in.  Lots of open roles to check out and we’re sure that list will continue to grow over the coming months.  

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Cloudbeds, SiteMinder & Room Raccoon Top People’s Choice Awards in the 2021 HotelTechAwards

by
Hotel Tech Report
10 months ago

Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated hotel software in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the Top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards. The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity. The HotelTechAwards platform (by Hotel Tech Report) leverages real customer data to determine best of breed products and companies that help hoteliers grow their bottom lines. “The People’s Choice Award goes to a single company across all categories who demonstrates the strongest customer relationships during the HotelTechAwards.  Cloudbeds had more than 550 hotelier customers come out to share overwhelmingly positive feedback about Cloudbeds products in the midst of a global pandemic.  To have that kind of support from clients during the most challenging market in hotel history says all you need to know about Cloudbeds’ commitment to their partner properties,” says Hotel Tech Report CEO Jordan Hollander. Here’s the Official 2021 People’s Choice List: Cloudbeds SiteMinder RoomRaccoon Bookassist OTA Insight ALICE IDeaS Avvio Hoteltime hotelkit The key factors used to determine the annual People’s Choice Award include total verified customer reviews, geographic reach of reviews, and overall review sentiment and ratings. The best companies know that the most effective way to communicate their value proposition is to empower and amplify the voices of their happy customers.  The People’s Choice Award recognizes companies whose customers really value the relationship and partnership. “Twenty years ago we lived in a world where hoteliers just used one of the three or four technology systems out there and typically just ended up using whatever system they had heard of before.  Today there are thousands of SaaS choices in the market and dozens of great options available for most use cases but the market is moving so quickly that it’s hard for hoteliers to identify and keep track of the best products and companies.  This award honors the companies whose hotel customers are the most vocal advocates of their products to make that process easy,” says Hollander.   About the 2021 People's Choice Award The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity.  Early on as a startup, it’s easier for companies to maintain strong customer relationships with a limited customer base. But as a company grows its install base and scales globally, maintaining high customer satisfaction becomes increasingly more challenging.  Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated product in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards acknowledging the achievements of top innovators across all categories who embody the values, transparency, and customer-centricity that lie at the core of truly great companies. View Ranking Methodology>>

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Winners of the 2021 HotelTechAwards Announced

by
Hotel Tech Report
10 months ago

Hotel Tech Report has announced winners in the 2021 HotelTechAwards, based on more than 10,000 hotel software product reviews contributed by verified hoteliers during the competition.  Winners are selected based on key performance metrics including product popularity, customer satisfaction, integration compatibility, customer support quality, and more.  Winning a HotelTechAward is the highest achievement in the hotel technology industry. “In the midst of a global pandemic, 318,466 hoteliers visited Hotel Tech Report from every corner of the globe contributing 10,227 verified new product reviews during the 3-month awards period to share insights about their favorite tech products to run and grow their businesses.  It has been inspiring to see this massive wave of hoteliers sharing technology insights and product recommendations,” says Jordan Hollander, CEO of Hotel Tech Report. “This is the most comprehensive dataset around hotelier preferences ever developed and it gives unprecedented insights into tech trends for hotels during a pivotal moment in history.  Winning a HotelTechAward is a huge feat with the 2021 competition being the most competitive year ever.  Every company on this list should be extremely proud of what they've contributed to the growth of the hotel industry.” During the HotelTechAwards, hoteliers from the world's leading hotel companies review the top tech products used at their hotels to increase operating efficiency, drive revenue, and improve the guest experience. This data is used to identify the best hotel tech products and organizations. "The HotelTechAwards  are the only prize in the industry that is completely and transparently customer-driven — it's the hoteliers that decide who is best, and it's their opinion that matters most." Gautam Lulla, CEO at Pegasus. "We at SiteMinder believe strongly in the essence of openness; it is what underpins the very core of what we stand for, and the HotelTechAwards, through the program's data-driven and transparent process, aligns firmly with this value.” - Sankar Narayan, CEO at SiteMinder “This honor has deep, personal meaning as it is decided upon by our clients and represents our passion and focus for providing the most sophisticated revenue technology and comprehensive support.” Dr. Ravi Mehrotra Founder at IDeaS “The HotelTechAwards are a powerful stamp of approval for any company to possess and for hoteliers to trust. We value the HotelTechAwards process, which collects thousands of verified reviews from around the world each year.” Alex Shashou, Co-Founder at ALICE “HotelTechReport is the leading platform for technology in the hotel industry, and its meticulous and impartial verification process makes this one of the most prestigious awards.” Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen, Co-Founder at SuitePad The competition spans core areas of hotel software & technology: marketing, revenue, operations, and guest experience. 2021 Voting included participation from major hotel groups including Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, Accor Hotels, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Rosewood, and thousands of independents. "We originally created the HotelTechAwards as a democratized way to help our fellow hoteliers quickly determine best of breed vendors based on data they can trust and the scope of the competition this year is a testament to how far the industry has come in the last decade.  The HotelTechAwards rating process is simple, transparent, and unbiased--judging is based on time tested ranking factors, publicly available data, and crowdsourced insights from verified hoteliers who have hands-on experience with each product.” The HotelTechAwards are often referred to as "the Grammys of Hotel Tech" and winners were selected from the top technology products around the world. The HotelTechAwards are the industry's only data-driven awards platform with winners determined not by a handful of judges or popularity votes but by a global community comprised of thousands of verified hotel technology users across more than 127 countries.   Best Hotel Software Companies List >>

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How to Choose the Best POS System for Your Hospitality Business

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 year ago

Before the pandemic, analysts estimated that consumers and businesses worldwide would make 841 billion noncash transactions in 2023 – up 46% from 2018. Noncash transactions have only gotten a boost from the pandemic, as consumers demand a socially-distanced, contactless way to pay: tap-and-go credit and debit cards, or mobile wallets like Google Pay and Apple Pay. However, not all hotels are equipped to handle these types of payment methods. As virtual payments become more popular, hotel managers must upgrade their point-of-sale system to accept payments anywhere, anytime. The convenience of being able to accept any form of payment at your hotel is an easy way to improve guest satisfaction, while the many integrations of today’s POS systems can help your team work more efficiently with fewer errors. Whether you own a retail store, restaurant or hotel you will need a POS to run your business and power your back-office operations.  Decades ago clunky cash registers cluttered countertops around the world and created nightmares for small business owners.  Today those business needs are met by fast, mobile and powerful POS systems at a fraction of the cost.  Today point of sale software is at the center of mobile payments and finding the right POS is absolutely critical to ensuring business efficiency.  This article is for you if: Your business is running on decades old technology and you need a modern POS Your current system isn't giving you access to customer data and real time sales reports You want a way for customers to quickly checkout via touch screen POS terminals Your current setup won't allow you to efficiently integrate with customer loyalty programs, customer relationship management software (CRM) or accounting software like Quickbooks Your employees tell you that your current system isn't user-friendly Let's dive in!   What is a (Point of Sale) POS System? A point-of-sale system, or POS system, is a tool that allows your hotel to accept payments. There are three basic components to today’s POS systems:  Hardware: there are a couple of different parts of POS hardware. A card terminal is needed to accept credit cards, debit cards, and mobile wallet payments. Other tools include a receipt printer, cash drawer, and scanner to ring up items with bar codes.  Software: the software on your POS allows you to choose from a database of items for which to charge. Ring up a sale, view customer transaction records, manage your inventory, and get analytics and reporting through a POS platform.  Payment transfers: the POS sends money from the guest’s account to your hotel’s linked bank account after each sale. These are the main components of a POS system – but they come together in all shapes and sizes.   POS System Features  POS systems can do more than just process transactions. They integrate with your existing hotel technology to help your property run smoothly. Look for a POS that has these features. POS Hardware The terminal and other equipment that makes up your point-of-sale can be as small as a dongle that attaches to a phone or iPad, or as big as a computer screen. Think about where you are using your point-of-sale: if you wish to add a POS system to your room service team to allow guests to pay when their order is delivered to their door, a mobile POS might be the best option. If you’re looking for something to use in your restaurant, a terminal like the Clover Station or Square Register might be a better fit. Barcode scanner: Retail POS systems need a barcode scanner where hotel and F&B outlets may not Credit card readers: All POS systems must include a card reader to accept major credit cards POS Software Each POS provider offers its own platform through which to run your hotel’s sales and operations. Look for a cloud-based system that allows the provider to send updates through without any lag time or effort needed from your team. Other software features to look for include:  Inventory data: does the software have robust and actionable analytics? Security: is the tool PCI DSS compliant and can it accept EMV? Integrations: can the POS speak to other software in your hotel technology stack?  Does it have the right payment processor integrations? Automation: can the POS platform be set up to save your team time?  Flexibility: can the software be set up to grow with your hotel’s needs? Some tools, like Clover, offer a host of third-party apps that you can add to make your POS even more powerful. These apps configure your POS for whatever aspect of your hotel you’re trying to improve. For instance, the employee schedule can be run through the Homebase app. The KitchenDisplay app fires orders to the kitchen and organizes tickets to reduce error and help your team serve guests efficiently. Gusto’s Payroll app automates your payroll and takes out your federal, state, and local payroll taxes to reduce admin and human error. There are lots of things a POS can do beyond simply accepting payments and tracking sales.   What are the Benefits of a POS Solution? If you don’t have a POS system at your hotel, you’re missing out on the opportunity to capture more sales, help your team run efficiently, and improve guest satisfaction. Here are a few key benefits to implementing a POS system at your property.  Accept all payment options Research shows that only 17% of global card payments will be made using cash by 2022. The pandemic has caused a sharp upswing in the adoption of contactless payment and mobile wallets. Your guests expect to be able to pay using whatever method they prefer: EMV chip, Apple Pay, gift card, and any other digital wallet option. A POS with fully integrated credit card processing gives you the ability to accept any form of payment. It’s a win-win: your property never misses a sale, and your customer is able to check out conveniently using their preferred payment method.  Improve your guest loyalty program Many POS systems allow you to gather and organize guest information more effectively. Transaction records are stored in a database that tells you what a guest purchased, their contact information, when they last interacted with your hotel, and any other pertinent details you can use for marketing purposes. Go beyond basic sales data and integrate your POS with your hotel CRM and email marketing and your other platforms to get a complete picture of a guest’s preferences and customer insights. Better inventory management Managing a lobby shop or trying to cut down on restaurant waste? Instead of dedicating staff time to ordering inventory, keeping an eye on the supplies, and monitoring sales, your hotel POS system can be set up to manage inventory for you. Use the tool in your on-site restaurant to see when supplies are low and set up alerts when it’s time to put in a re-order. “Manually reconciling inventory across all the places you sell and store your products is tedious and prone to human error. When your inventory syncs automatically, you know exactly how much stock you have and where it is at any given time,” explained Shopify. “It’s also easy to understand how well each product is selling and create purchase orders based on performance and updated stock levels.” Track and analyze your sales Unlike a simple cash register, a POS system can tell you how well your hotel is doing financially in real-time. Many POS systems are equipped to provide daily reports on your sales, customer behaviors, and even employee productivity. The same terminal you use to process credit cards can also become the hub for employees to clock in and clock out. Analyze how your sales compare to the previous month, quarter, or same time last year.   How to Choose a POS System (Feature Functionality) There are many, many POS vendors on the market, each offering their take on sales software and hardware that can help your hotel run better. Consider the following factors when choosing a POS partner. Security: any system that stores guest information and payment data is going to be at risk. Ask vendors what processes and tools are in place to keep your guest data secure. Your POS system should be compliant with the data security standards established by the Payment Card Industry (PCI). Look for something that encrypts payment data and can accept EMV cards.  Adaptability: when the pandemic hit, many restaurants began offering delivery for the first time – and the POS became a critical component of making that shift. Look for a partner that can offer online ordering, delivery, and other ancillary services as your hotel business scales and grows.   Cost: pricing your POS requires estimating two components. The hardware is usually sold as either an all-in-one POS or a pre-configured kit with add-ons. For instance, you may wish to get a receipt printer, stand, or reader in addition to a card processing terminal. POS partners also charge ard processing fees – a percentage of the total sale amount, plus a nominal flat fee. Make sure to ask each vendor how much these fees will be per transaction.  When considering cost it's important to also factor payment processing fees as they can far outweigh the subscription price on hardware and software combined. Flexibility: the best POS options are cloud-based so that your hotel team can see sales data and accept payments on multiple devices throughout the property. “An added benefit of cloud-based POS software is that it eliminates the need for costly upgrades and minimizes security risks traditionally associated with client-server systems,” adds Shopkeep.  Customer Support: find out if the partner has 24/7 support. In case of technical issues, you want to be able to reach a live person through email, phone, or live chat. Of course, you should also ask how the POS system integrates with your existing CMS, PMS, booking engine, and more.   Hotel POS Systems (vs Retail and Restaurant POS System) There are a few different parts of your property where you can install a POS: the hotel gift or lobby shop, your on-site restaurant, or the spa. Anywhere where you need to ring up guest payments is where you will need a POS. However, unlike most retailers, hotel POS systems are most effective when they connect with your PMS. It’s very common for guests to post bills to their rooms when staying at a hotel, and while this could be manually done, a purpose-built hotel POS will have an automatic interface to your property management system (PMS). Hotel technology is meant to make your team’s job easier. A POS built for hotels can integrate easily with your existing systems to automatically add a charge to a guest’s final payment, rather than making your team manually add in expenses throughout that person’s stay. Read more about the best POS systems for hotels in our Next-generation POS Hospitality Software ebook.  

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What Can Hotels Learn From the Retail Industry?

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 year ago

Even in the age of eCommerce the retail industry is thriving and innovating. Think about the last time you went shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store. Maybe you were wowed by the brand’s focus on sustainable hospitality or your interest was piqued by an ad for an in-store event. Maybe you even interacted with the brand on social media before or after you made your purchase. In the last few years, retail brands have faced fiercer competition as many consumers shift to online shopping, especially via marketplaces like Amazon which charge hefty commissions. Sound familiar? Perhaps your hotel is under pressure too - from short-term rental competitors, OTAs, and guest review sites. If your hotel wants to add some creativity to your marketing campaigns, reach new guests, and book more rooms, let’s look to the retail industry from some inspiration. Comparing the retail industry to the hotel industry might not seem like the most logical pair at first, but as we dig into the intricacies of these two customer-focused verticals, the overlap becomes more clear. In fact, the line between retail and hospitality is blurring as brands like Parachute Mattress, Restoration Hardware, and even Taco Bell are opening hotels of their own. So how does the retail industry find success in today’s ever-changing marketplace? Let’s dig into five best practices.   Focus on direct-to-consumer strategies Years ago, if you needed a new pair of jeans or a new washing machine, you would go to your reliable local department store. Department stores made sense back then, since smaller, specialized brands might not have had the marketing power to reach consumers directly. Fast forward to today, when the internet makes it possible for customers to follow brands on Instagram, retailers don’t necessarily need department stores - or any marketplace, for that matter - to sell their products. While some brands do rely on marketplaces like Amazon, others find success with no middleman whatsoever. If you’re a hotelier who’s trying to reduce your hotel’s dependence on OTAs and drive direct bookings, you can look to retail brands like Glossier as masters of the direct-to-consumer business. Glossier, a cosmetics company, only sells their products online, and, just recently, through a handful of their own boutiques. The company doesn’t distribute via Amazon, Sephora, or any department stores. Because selling directly to the consumer allows Glossier to have full control over the purchase experience, they can build a stronger relationship with their customers, and, as a result, Glossier built such a cult following that it opened its first brick-and-mortar storefront in 2018. In their stores and online, Glossier solicits feedback from customers and integrates that feedback into new products and improvements to current products. Their website is user-friendly, and loyal customers often receive freebies or access to special sales. Rather than trying to build a distribution network, Glossier invests in its direct relationship with customers and reaps the benefits of customer loyalty.   Add personality to your social media channels Those department stores of the past didn’t need to have a catchy personality because consumers had much less choice then. Today brands need to have a distinct brand persona in order to stand out in a crowded marketplace - especially online. One way for customers to get acquainted with brands is via social media, and some do a great job of conveying their personality online, like Casper, Warby Parker, and Charmin. These brands, which sell mattresses, eyeglasses, and toilet paper, prove that you don’t need to sell the most exciting product to cultivate a personality that consumers love. Casper is known for its playful social media posts that often include kids and pets snuggling on one of their mattresses.     Warby Parker is another brand that started online with no physical stores, but has since expanded to include brick-and-mortar shops around the country. Their social media personality is down-to-earth and lighthearted, and they often incorporate their employees in photos and videos. The brand recently posted a video showing employees reading funny misspellings of “Warby Parker” which come up in Google searches.       And Charmin, a longtime toilet paper company, has gained social media fans with its signature potty humor.     Emphasize sustainability Though it might seem counterintuitive for a retail company to encourage people to consume less, many brands understand that today’s consumer wants to support sustainable business practices. Consumers are shifting their preferences toward sustainable products, from food to cleaning products to clothing, and sales of products labeled as “sustainable” grew nearly 30% between 2013 and 2019. This trend is creating entirely new business models and encouraging retailers to use sustainable materials, especially in the clothing industry. While the environmental consequences of “fast fashion” make headlines, Rent the Runway is in the news for an entirely different reason - its sustainable business practices. This clothing rental service lets consumers rent high-end apparel that they wear and ship back to the company to be dry cleaned and shipped off to the next renter. Rent the Runway’s success highlights the opportunity for environmentally friendly fashion businesses, as the company reached a $1B valuation in late 2019. But retailers don’t need to create entirely new business models to be green. Allbirds, a New Zealand-based shoe company, uses a combination of merino wool, eucalyptus fibers, and recycled plastics in its footwear. This brand started from humble roots in 2014 and hit a $1.4B valuation in 2018. Hotels have been conscious about sustainability for years, but asking guests to reuse their towels for an extra day just doesn’t cut it anymore. Today’s guests expect bigger strides when it comes to reducing environmental impact. In addition to replacing tiny shampoo bottles with eco-friendly dispensers, hotels with retail outlets or sundry shops can use software like Infor POS to understand exactly what guests are buying so they can reduce waste and sell more efficiently.   Turn regular public space into creative event space Stores, like hotels, often have beautiful physical spaces that sit empty for portions of the day. Some creative retailers have found alternate uses for their storefronts by hosting events, fitness classes, or even lectures during or outside business hours. Lululemon, for example, regularly moves their racks of athletic clothing aside to hold in-store yoga classes. Besides being an innovative use of space, these special in-store events can also generate buzz about the brand or kick off the launch of a new product. Hotels are accustomed to selling meeting and banquet space, but properties that don’t have formal event space can still think outside the box and hold events in the lobby, in dining outlets, or even in guestrooms. And rather than selling the space to an outside organization, you can consider hosting free events that promote the hotel itself, such as a F&B tasting, spa open house, or career day that targets locals.   Form partnerships with complementary brands Holding in-store events isn’t the only way brands are bringing innovation to their marketing strategies. Many retailers are collaborating with other brands that reach similar audiences or sell complementary products in an effort to generate publicity and offer unique products. One type of partnership involves a popular, value-oriented brand that joins forces with a luxury brand. Target, for example, sells affordably priced capsule collections with designers like Zac Posen, Lilly Pulitzer, and Proenza Schouler. H&M, another affordable retailer, has launched collections with couture brands like Balmain and Versace, offering their take on designer items at significantly lower prices. These collections often sell out quickly, which generates demand and publicity for the brand. But collaborations aren’t limited to the fashion industry. Home Depot recently teamed up with Pinterest to promote lighting, paint, textiles, bathroom fixtures, home decor products, and more in its “Shop the Look” program. In this program, consumers who are looking for DIY project inspiration on Pinterest can quickly find and purchase the items they need for the project at Home Depot. Hotels can engage complementary brands in similar partnerships, just like how Westin partnered with New Balance to offer sneakers and exercise clothing in its hotels. The key is collaborating with brands that resonate with your guests. If your hotel is well suited for families, perhaps consider partnering with a local toy shop to provide a selection of toys in some co-branded guestrooms. Or, if your hotel gets a lot of business from foodies, maybe collaborate with a local bakery on a tasty welcome amenity. Though the retail industry and the hotel industry have their differences, many of the most important business goals are shared: build brand loyalty, drive direct purchases or bookings, and stand out among a sea of competitors. Since both industries face some kind of internet-fueled disruption, hotels can take best practices from retailers who have found success in today’s dynamic marketplace. By learning from these creative retail tactics, hotels can gain traction online and book more rooms.  

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Visual Merchandising: Here's What You Need to Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

Interested in revamping your hotel pantry this year? Many hotel owners know they need a lobby shop, but they’re not sure how to make the most of their inventory, space, and pricing scheme. The answer lies in visual merchandising, a practice mastered by grocery stores and retailers that use shopper marketing techniques and psychology to improve profits through simple, yet powerful design choices. Smart hotel owners can apply lessons from supermarkets to their lobby shops and on-site gift stores to increase profit and improve the guest experience. Intelligent retail that uses visual merchandising with a data-driven inventory and retail solution can lead to a dramatic increase in profit. Infor POS is one such solution that’s proven to help hotels grow profit from their lobby pantries. Here’s how to improve sales while minimizing deadstock inventory by using visual merchandising.   What is visual merchandising? In the retail industry, visual merchandising refers to building window displays, floor displays, and floor layouts to attract customers, highlight products, and boost sales. Visual merchandising meets the need of customers to see and experience a product before they make a purchase. According to the US Department of Commerce, only 14.3% of total retail sales occurred online in 2018. Retail analysts found that “the ability to see, touch and feel products ranks highest among the reasons consumers choose to shop in stores versus online.” Visual merchandising plays a critical role in retail – and hotel owners should take note when they think about how to layout gift shops and lobby pantry stores. Visual merchandising isn’t limited to display windows, though those are a common type of visual merchandising. Other examples include:  Store layout: the floorplan of a retail location or showroom Interior displays that show the technical details of a product (e.g., a cross-section of vacuum cleaner to show how it works).  Mannequins  Point-of-sale displays: products displayed around the register, front-desk, or checkout line to incentivize an impulse purchase.  Lighting and interior design, like carpets, window fittings, and ambient light Seasonal displays for holidays like Halloween and Christmas Cross merchandising: displaying products from different categories that go together to increase upsell and cross-sell opportunities (e.g., showing barbeque tools next to charcoal and fire starters). Retail stores like Amazon Go complement the visual displays outlined above with technical elements, like self-checkout, cash-less checkout, or scent and music cues which further entice customers to complete a purchase. Visual elements – like color and design – combine with frictionless checkout to make it easy for customers to buy.    Elements of visual merchandising Visual merchandising in retail is as much a science as it is an art. There are five important elements that play a role in visual merchandising: Color: color affects a customer’s mood, brand associations – and even appetite. Use coordinating color to catch the eye of a customer and draw them into your display.  Space: every store and hotel has empty space; be thoughtful about taking up that space with signage, customer testimonials, or another product display. For hotels, that might include redesigning your lobby, integrating a retail promotion in your restaurant, or adding displays in hallways between rooms.  Focus: create a focal point, or hotspot, around your product. Hotspots can increase sales by 229 percent.  Make sure the focal point is at eye-level (or lower) so the customer can actually see what you’re promoting.   Narrative: what story does your display tell? Give your display a narrative in three bullet points that tell a customer what they need to know about the product. Signage may not be necessary, but your display should clearly convey a certain message to a viewer.  Exposure: The more products customers see, the more they buy. That doesn’t mean you should cram every product into one display. For instance, instead of stuffing as many products as possible into one window, tactfully use a circular store layout to present as much merchandise as possible as the customer browses. Bottom line: use color to catch a customer’s eye, add products as much as you can without looking cluttered, provide powerful signage to tell a story, and make sure the focal point of any visual merchandising display is always the product.    Visual merchandising techniques Your sales team and front desk staff can easily integrate these elements of visual merchandising to your guest rooms, front lobby, and other otherwise unused spaces at your hotel. Great visual merchandising starts with discovery. “Who are your target customers? That’s an important question when designing displays. Aim to appeal to their lifestyle or the lifestyle they desire. Draw guests in with great signage, colorful displays, and simple elements that align with your hotel branding. Your on-site store branding shouldn’t deviate from the overall hotel brand experience. Know what your guests expect, and deploy techniques that match your target audience. Visual merchandising works best when you combine the elements of design outlined above with frictionless checkout. A huge piece of this strategy can be executed automatically by implementing the right software and tech tools.  Infor, for example, offers full-stack systems to manage inventory, design your hotel pantry, and reduce front desk retail traffic by 90%, making it easy for guests to make a purchase in your lobby shop, gift shop, or pantry without stress. Visual merchandising techniques draw in the customer, but it’s the guest’s ability to use self-pay kiosks that integrate with your PMS that result in less inventory shrinkage and higher sales.    Use technology to improve retail profits There are some common themes that can be easily rectified by combining cutting edge (yet affordable) retail management software like Infor with a fundamental understanding of visual merchandising. First, let’s review the low hanging fruit that’s solved by software automatically. If you aren’t using data to determine prices, you’re likely leaving money on the table.  The average hotel pantry is underpricing their retail by nearly 25%. Most hotels are anticipating that guests are going to “flinch” when they see the prices listed in the hotel pantry and as a result, most hotels are pricing on the low end, and losing profit in the process. Hotels also make the mistake of not recognizing the goal of a guest when visiting a hotel pantry: convenience. Set up your pantry to help guests find what they need, quickly. Consider ways you can group products together to make it easy for guests to fill their basket without a lot of searching – putting Tylenol next to the bottles of water, for instance, or grouping together toiletries. Use signs and a price sheet to make it easy for your guests to get in and out.   You can ask front desk agents and bellmen what items guests most commonly request.  Your retail management software provider should also be able to provide high level data to get you started on what’s selling in hotel pantries.  If they’re really good, they’ll even be able to get you data on what’s selling in your market segment and geography. Perhaps the biggest error that hotels make in their retail operations has to do with the front desk. Front desk agents simply don’t have the capacity to help customers with retail purchases. Picture it: there’s a line of guests waiting for check-in, and a few phones ringing just as someone wishes to checkout with a bottle of soda. In that customer’s calculation, your lobby is too busy to make the soda worth waiting for. It’s a missed sale that can be easily avoided with a pantry POS system. It’s easy for customers to see that barcode scanners and self-checkout tools offer a more appealing option than the zoo at the front desk. Finally, use data to shape product mix and placement. Infor’s massive database of transactions can show you what inventory will yield the highest profit. Generally, you should categorize your pantry into four groups: sweet, salty, healthy and indulgent. Keep candy bars together, health foods like granola bars separate, and salty foods in their own zone. Infor’s planograms – a visual merchandising planning tool that uses popularity, preference, and relevancy to place products strategically – can help you optimize your layout by category. These are the retail problems that are easily solved by great tech, now let’s dive into ways to grow your hotel’s retail revenue today by implementing visual merchandising techniques.   The importance of visual merchandising in hotel retail Visual merchandising can go a long way to reducing wasted inventory and improving profit. First step: prioritize. Hotel guests experience the same challenge as a shopper in a supermarket – choice overload. “In many product categories, reducing the number of choices you offer a customer will improve the odds of making a sale,” explains Forbes. Limit the number of products you offer and a guest will have an easier time choosing a product to buy. For your property, you’ll benefit from spending less on inventory. The incremental revenue achieved when the store is properly merchandised and supplied with quality product offerings is substantial and the guest experience. Once you have your pantry layout mapped according to category, make your pantry more visually appealing. Apply visual merchandising elements – signage, color, and exposure – help guests zero in on what they need. Put candy bars in glass jars or chip bags in baskets to give your pantry the look and feel of a general store. Make sure personal care products are on hooks, forward-facing and easy to grab. Lastly, keep track of what products are being purchased together with a keen focus on tracking inventory, profitability, and sales performance. Once you see that your guests are buying certain products across categories – ginger ale along with anti-nausea pills, for instance – you can be smarter about how you layout product displays. Use data insights upsell opportunities and sunset products that simply aren’t flying off the shelves. This data will help reduce waste while providing your guests with the convenience they really need.