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Oracle’s Vision for Nor1: Double Down on Machine Learning and Attribute Based Selling in Hospitality

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 hour ago

Have you ever had a guest complain that their service level or room didn’t meet expectations? I was recently at a hotel where I paid for a premium ocean view on a special occasion but arrived to find that I was given the worst version of this room type with a severely obstructed view. This arrival experience was awful and despite the hotel making the situation right by upgrading us - there was an easier solution, more granular attribute-based selling.  When traveling by air, we can select our preferences down to the seat, row, and even pay a premium to bring heavier luggage.  Hotels are a bit behind on this front, but Oracle’s acquisition of Nor1 may prove to be a step in the right direction. In this article, we’ll talk about the trend towards attribute-based selling and walk through how this product combination may just be the solution the hospitality industry has been looking for.   What is Attribute-Based Selling? Let’s take a step back; what is attribute-based selling? In the traditional hotel booking model, a guest chooses a room type out of just a few options. Perhaps the guest could choose between a Standard Queen room, Deluxe Queen room, or Suite. Maybe every room includes parking and breakfast, but the guest needs to pay extra for a late check-out. But what if the guest really just wants a basic room, with no parking or breakfast, but needs a late check-out? Under the traditional model, the guest would be “paying” for parking and breakfast even though they aren’t using those amenities, and they might feel frustrated about paying for a late check-out. What’s the solution here? Enter attribute-based selling. If you’ve booked a flight in the last few years, you’re probably familiar with this model. Essentially, you only pay for the features you want, and you can pay extra for the amenities that really matter to you. At a hotel, for example, a guest would start with a basic room, then choose to upgrade to a king-size bed or add parking or breakfast - or not. Maybe the guest could even pay extra for a room on a high floor or for a late check-out. We can think of it as a sort of “unbundling” of all the components in a room type or rate plan. Not only does attribute-based selling allow the guest to truly customize their stay, this model allows hoteliers to more accurately forecast and track amenity usage (like parking and breakfast) and generate incremental revenue.   Understanding OPERA,  Nor1, and the Product Interaction Today We’ve established that Nor1 provides upselling solutions, but how does it work? Nor1’s products tie their upsell recommendations to data, pulling in details like length of stay, number of guests, guest history, arrival date, and more to tailor each offer to the individual guest. Nor1 offers products for each step of the guest’s journey: eStandby Upgrade: offers room upgrade requests and add-ons (like early check-in or attributes like a high floor location) at the time of booking. At this point, the guest can simply request an upgrade, but it won’t be confirmed until closer to their check-in date, or with no-cost integration to OPERA, the guest request can be automatically fulfilled with no interaction on the part of the hotel eXpress Upgrade: if the guest doesn’t accept the original upgrade offer, the system re-targets them. If the guest turns down the offer again, the system “learns” from the interaction to provide more relevant offers to future guests. The guest may also receive an another offer at check-in CheckIn Merchandising: gives front desk agents tools to offer and confirm room upgrades during check-in, plus offer add-ons like discounted drinks at the lobby bar or attributes like a balcony or a water view room. Oracle Hospitality provides products for hotels, resorts, casinos, restaurants, and more, and the company’s two flagship hospitality solutions are their property management system, OPERA, and their restaurant management system, Simphony. OPERA is either cloud-based or on-premise, and it has a slew of features like detailed guest profiles, loyalty tracking, advanced rate management, and a mobile version. Recently added to OPERA Cloud is a new Foundation level targeting  smaller, limited-service hotels which complements the existing functionality in OPERA for mid-size, full service properties.  Simphony, a point-of-sale system for restaurants, allows restaurateurs and employees to manage everything from online orders and digital menus to reservations and waitlists. So how do OPERA and Nor1 interact in a pre-arrival environment? Via the no-cost Nor1 OXI, OPERA feeds the reservation data that Nor1’s eStandby Upgrade and eXpress Upgrade need to make targeted, personalized upsell recommendations and to trigger offers that are sent to guests. In addition, front desk agents use Nor1’s CheckIn Merchandising solution during the check-in process to facilitate upsell offers, like room upgrades, by keeping CheckIn Merchandising open alongside OPERA.   Benefits the OPERA + Nor1 Combination Beyond Attribute Based Selling In this case, one plus one does not equal two; the sum of OPERA and Nor1 are greater than the individual components because of the benefits hoteliers can realize when the systems work together. Most importantly, Nor1’s entire upsell flow will integrate directly into the -OPERA  interface, which means staff will no longer need to switch between the two applications. Recommendations will also be more personalized because Nor1 can tap into richer data from the OPERA. The two systems can also deliver time savings by automating room assignments instead of manually assigning upsold rooms, plus Nor1 can get a more precise view into availability and can upsell more granularly based on the nuances of individual rooms. The two systems working in tandem will make upselling accessible to new market segments. Historically upselling has been cost-prohibitive for smaller hotels and delivered limited ROI in limited-service, midscale, and economy hotels. Not only will the out-of-pocket software cost and the staff needed to manage upsells decrease, but the systems are sophisticated enough to provide unique upselling options even at properties with limited F&B, on-site amenities, and room types. Oracle and Nor1 can also leverage Simphony, the restaurant management system, to offer unique and personalized food and beverage options for guests, and the guest behavior will prove advantageous in driving guest loyalty. For example, if Simphony knows that a guest orders a particular bottle of wine during every stay, then Nor1 could promote an upsell offer that includes that specific beverage choice. Another benefit, while less flashy than personalized upgrades, is that Nor1 can leverage Oracle’s massive investment in data management, security, and compliance. As a global, Fortune 100 company, Oracle’s resources are on a different level that a smaller company like Nor1 couldn’t gather on its own. Users of both companies can now benefit from peace of mind that their guests’ data will be secure. Ready to bring personalized upselling to your property? There’s no better time to implement a solid strategy than now, as you prepare to welcome guests again.   This content was created collaboratively by Oracle Hospitality and Hotel Tech Report.

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RoomOrders: A Simple but Powerful Digital Menu and Ordering System

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 days ago

As we transition to a post-COVID world, hospitality businesses of all types are modifying their operations for one big trend: contactless interactions. For food and beverage outlets, software that supports digital menus and online ordering makes contactless interaction easy and intuitive. In fact, this type of software can even increase your average check value and streamline your ordering and delivery processes. If you’ve never used such software before, choosing a mobile ordering platform might be overwhelming. That’s why, in this article, we’ll introduce you to the features of RoomOrders so you can decide whether it would be a good fit for your hotel, restaurant, bar, or other F&B business.   How Does RoomOrders Work? Let’s first take a look at RoomOrders from the customer’s perspective. How would a customer use it at your restaurant, and what does it look like?   Guests Scan a QR Code to Access a Digital Menu on Their Device RoomOrder is a web-based app, so customers or guests don’t need to download an actual app to access your digital menu or place an order. Instead, a customer can click a link in an email or on a webpage, or they can scan a QR code to quickly open the digital menu on their smartphone. Burton Ockerman, the Director of Restaurants at the Desmond by Doubletree in Malvern, says the QR code feature is one of RoomOrders’ best features and is very user-friendly. Once a customer has opened the digital menu, they’ll see your restaurant or hotel’s name, logo, and cover image of your choice. Menu sections are clearly defined, such as Food and Drinks. For establishments with international clientele, the RoomOrders platform supports translation into most of the world’s widely spoken languages.     Similar to what consumers see in popular apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash, RoomOrders shows guests the average delivery time to set expectations.  Hungry guests are more likely to order when they see short delivery times. The digital menu is fully customizable - from headings to badges to photos - which we’ll discuss later in the article. By default, the layout includes space for large photos, which helps to encourage customers to place orders, assuming your photography makes your menu items look extra delicious!   Mobile Ordering Makes Room Service as Easy as Hailing an Uber When a customer is ready to order, they can select a delivery time of either “now” (as soon as possible) or a date and time in the future.     To order an item, the customer simply clicks on the item they want, and a box will pop up with some additional options, which the restaurateur can configure. For example, if the customer orders a steak, they might see options like “rare,” “medium rare,” “medium,” and “well done,” so they can be confident their steak will be cooked to their liking.     After specifying the quantity and adding any special instructions, the customer will click “add to cart.” The bell icon on the top right corner takes customers to their cart, where they will enter their location (either an area of your hotel/restaurant, like the pool or lobby, or a room number), then click “complete order.”   Hoteliers can send RoomOrders a list of all room numbers so the system can validate whether the room number is valid or not. For example, if your hotel has just 8 rooms on each floor, a guest who enters room number “817” will be prompted to correct the room number before the system will let them place an order. But rooms are not the only delivery location a hotel can specify. With RoomOrders’ new beach and pool area concept, guests are able to order anywhere on the premises of the hotel, such as a table at the onsite restaurant, a deckchair or cabana on the beach or at the rooftop pool bar. Simply add location to room number, such as deckchair 12, table 6, section B, thus providing seamless ordering opportunities to the guest, wherever they are. RoomOrders can integrate with point-of-sale systems for payment, but if you don’t have a POS or choose not to integrate, customers can charge the order to their hotel room (which most RoomOrders clients opt for) or pay with cash or credit card (via Stripe, which works with Apple Pay and Google Pay).   What Functionality Can Hoteliers Expect in the RoomOrders Dashboard? The back end of the platform is where you’ll manage operations, configure your menu and settings, and analyze performance. The manager version of RoomOrder is available on your web browser, or you can download a smartphone or tablet app.   Easy to Use Order Management with No Training Required Once a customer places an order, restaurant staff will see it pop up on their Orders dashboard. New orders placed for immediate fulfillment show in “New” status, while orders scheduled for a future date will appear in the “scheduled” section. Staff must click “accept” to confirm new orders. When the order has been delivered to the customer, staff click “complete order” to move it to “Delivered” status. If necessary, staff can cancel orders from this dashboard. The dashboard shows all relevant information about the order, including the items ordered, the guest’s location, and timestamps that show when the order was placed and accepted.     Update Your Menu in Seconds - No Need to Call Tech Support Operators can customize their cover photo, profile photo, and all text content visible on their digital menu. The menu builder is packed with options, so you can create a menu that accurately communicates your brand, menu items, and photography.     You can structure the menu however you want, with flexible headings and sub-sections. A useful feature of RoomOrders is adding time frames to menu sections, which lets you control the availability of menu items that might not be available all day. For example, your breakfast menu can be available between 7am and 10am only. Menus will be visible during their off-hours, but customers cannot place orders for items that are unavailable based on the time frame. Anastasiia Horashchenko of Hilton’s Kyiv property told Hotel Tech Report, “RoomOrders has a very simple backend, which is a great feature for the current ever changing environment. We are able to be more flexible in adjusting to our guests' needs. The frontend that our guests see gives an opportunity to showcase all of our dishes and attract guests with the look of dishes they are about to order.”     It’s also possible to add special badging (the orange tags in the screenshot below) to help some menu items stand out. Badges could include “Chef’s recommendation,” “Vegan,” or “Gluten Free” text, and more.   In addition to menu titles and text, you can configure add-ons and options for each menu item. RoomOrders offers three choices for these add-ons: extras (like adding chicken or salmon to a salad for an extra charge), selection (a choice between wheat and white bread), or ingredients (if a customer wants to request no onions, for example).     Drive More Incremental Revenue By Programming Relevant Upsells Both Ockerman and Anastasiia Horashchenko, Assistant F&B Manager at Hilton Kyiv, say that the cross-sell capability is one of RoomOrders’ most powerful features. This feature allows you to suggest complementary menu items to customers who order certain dishes. For example, if a customer wants to order a pasta dish, you could suggest a glass of red wine or an order of tiramisu. Cross-selling is proven to increase average check value since many customers find the suggestions too good to pass up.     When building the cross-sell options in the RoomOrders dashboard, you choose between using your top selling items as the cross-sell items, or you can customize cross-sell items for specific dishes, like our pasta example above.   Optimize Menu Offerings with Real-Time Reporting How do you know if your average order value is growing if you can’t measure it? RoomOrders offers a slick dashboard that gives operators insight into a few key metrics: total sales, number of accepted orders, average order value, on-time percentage, and completion percentage - all of which can be seen for specific dates. The dashboard also shows a list of your most frequently ordered items, but there’s not much more information about them, like the most popular times of day for orders of certain items. “RoomOrders has been such an easy to use platform for our business especially now, during these unprecedented times. The flexibility of the software has allowed us to make changes and updates to our menu seamlessly”, says Mark Grzelak, Manager of the Fin Point Oyster Bar & Grille at the Hilton Boston Downtown/Faneuil Hall.     RoomOrders lets you choose settings that make the most sense for your restaurant or bar. You can turn the gratuity field on or off, choose the default language, and configure tax categories, for example. Other settings include a post-order review request, which sends a survey to customers to request feedback, which is not shared anywhere publicly. You can also build a prompt that asks customers to share their experiences on Facebook.   RoomOrders is a Great Option for Hotels and Restaurants Looking to Go Beyond QR Code Linked PDF Menus The greatest consumer hospitality brands like Starbucks and Dominos understand the power of mobile ordering as we’ve previously covered - finally hotels are catching up.  Mobile ordering is proven to increase average order values and drive better guest experiences by delivering the level of convenience we all have at home while staying in a hotel. RoomOrders packs a lot of value into a light, user-friendly interface. The contactless interface has tangible benefits for a F&B business of any size. As Jeffrey Speelman, the Director of Operations at the Hilton Kyiv, mentions, the digital menu functionality allows his team to save time and money by not needing to print new paper menus every time they make a change to a dish or a price. Both Speelman and Horashchenko say that RoomOrders has a fantastic support team who help in every step of the onboarding process, so even less tech-savvy operators can feel confident using this new kind of software. Hilton’s Jeff Speelman told Hotel Tech Report, “the Room Orders application has options to push upselling when selecting an item which drives up the average check, as well as highlighting and showing attractive photos of dishes. Besides the fact that the volume of room service orders has significantly increased due to Covid and a price increase of approx 5% was implemented we see a significant increase in our average check.  When comparing our Average check YTD vs previous year we see an increase of 17.9%.” Mobile ordering software is a must-have technology in 2021 for hotels looking to stay ahead of the digital transformation curve and RoomOrders is a great choice for hotels and restaurants that want to deliver a user-friendly, customizable option for guests with a lot of functionality.   This content was created collaboratively by RoomOrders and Hotel Tech Report.

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How to Break Away From Room Categories with Attribute Based Selling

by
Markus Mueller
5 days ago

Why should hoteliers change the way they manage room inventory in the first place? The simple answer is: because they can make more revenue and increase customer satisfaction when guests are able to self-select room features that are relevant to them. By moving away from traditional room categories and taking a granular inventory approach, hoteliers can cover several new revenue-generating opportunities, including R New revenue management tactics due to higher number of price points R Upselling solutions of room features and services R Automatic room assignment and avoidance of free upgrades R Clear differentiation of own sales channels compared to third-party channels All of these elements can strengthen your brand value through positive guest recommendations and increase the chances of returning guests. Historically there were many good reasons to display and sell room inventory in a simplified way. However, technology has improved significantly and now allows hoteliers to reinvent their sales strategy by digitizing their inventory with all its uniqueness and selling directly through their own channels. With a granular inventory, hoteliers can create real differentiation from third-party sellers and are able to sell something that no one else offers. This could previously only be offered by email or phone, assuming the seller knew the rooms well. It depended on guest participation prior to check-in.   Product Sales Approach in Other Industries Other industries have already learned from crises and optimized their online sales process years ago to meet the needs of the "connected consumer". In the airline industry, there was a lack of upselling opportunities to increase sales due to a non-differentiable product. The retail sector was increasingly forced to provide an appealing online sales experience due to advancing digitalization and pioneers such as Amazon. Clothing can now be tried on virtually and many products can be personalized according to customer needs.   Airlines: • Additional price points due to different booking conditions • Differentiation through additional services - sales attributes • More than quadruple in ancillary revenues & baggage fees alone Online retail: • Configurator & filter functions to individualize the shopping experience • Extra revenue through product personalization options • Double-digit growth compared to traditional retailers   Comparison of Two New Approaches Attribute Based Selling: The hotel industry has long talked about adapting the airline approach of Attribute-Based Selling (ABS). This approach proposes breaking rooms into smaller attributes to increase potential upsell sales during the booking process. In an ongoing effort to improve return on investment opportunities, some major hotel chains are already piloting their beta versions of this approach, but they are a long way off final implementation. Room Feature Combination Sales: A newer approach than the one just described is feature-based room sales, in which rooms are clustered according to combinations of features. Additional experience dimensions are digitized and codified. With this new system, each room can be clustered into an individual combination, resulting in many more price points. Through this approach, the booking journey is much more experiential and the customer-centric approach leverages artificial intelligence to better align guests' needs with the hotel's sales strategy.   New Sales Approaches Using a basic room category and selling individual room attributes on it (ABS approach): In this approach, the price is based on a room category with the lowest common denominator of the whole inventory (basic/standard room) and all other attributes can be added by the booker depending on whether he considers them relevant or not. When the booker adds attributes, the price of the room increases. Simple, right? The principle is to first select the basic room at an entry price and then add attributes such as bed type, balcony, air conditioning, connecting door, high floor, or even other services not related to the category, such as early check-in or late check-out. In terms of upselling, the ABS approach starts with the room rate, with attributes being added. It is up to the booker to decide which attribute is considered relevant. This method is copied from the airline industry and enables upselling at the point of purchase. The more attributes the guest adds to their shopping cart, the higher the final room rate. The price point of each attribute is transparent to the booker in the selection option. You can find further explanations of the ABS approach in the article from Hospitality Technology.   Room Feature Combination Selling: A Guest-Centric Experience Approach The basic approach here is to move away from room categories as a whole and divide all rooms into room feature combinations. This allows rooms to be sold with both their unique features and a reduced number of features, and to be labeled differently. The guest has the possibility to select preferences and is shown corresponding room options as a percentage match. The booker is given the option to select the best room combination for them, with the bundled price points of the various room attributes displayed in aggregate (i.e. without displaying the price of the individual features). The approach not only allows the sale of all room attributes including connecting rooms, but also any inventory combinations a hotel can and wants to offer such as rooms next to each other, three rooms to a newly clustered offering, etc. This provides the basis for a radically new sales approach. More price points are naturally created by repackaging rooms in different ways and marketing them through different labeling. Upselling takes place during the booking process. The booker can select feature preferences, but without considering how much they are actually worth. Supporting statistics or studies on user preferences in terms of attributes or room characteristics are almost non-existent for the hotel industry. Since the approach of moving away from room categories is still very new and attributes can vary greatly from property to property, collecting data points to understand which attributes are preferred by which user profiles is a critical first step to understanding price elasticity and demand patterns.   The Departure From Room Categories Moving away from selling by room category brings with it a high number of additional price points at the point of sale. The value of each room feature can be assessed differently depending on the reason for travel and personal needs. For example, traveling with companions such as a spouse or family, the purpose of the trip, or personal preferences can significantly change the value perception and price elasticity of each room feature. The more price points and options that can be intelligently offered and presented to each booker, the higher the booking conversion and value will be. In addition to additional price points, a new feature-based inventory management also offers the opportunity to enhance one's own brand and pursue a new sales strategy. Only granular inventory management can also enable a differentiated inventory offering according to target groups, individual pricing, and differentiated marketing activities.   First Steps for Feature-Based Inventory Management In principle, it is recommended to check your inventory to make sure it is up to date. In the end, the room turnover is the one with the highest margin. • Take the time to review your inventory, identify the differences, and record any previously undocumented features! • Download a template here to get started and customize it according to your needs. • Update your inventory in your relevant systems (PMS, IBE, CRS, etc.). • Define the way you want to sell through your direct channels and implement the approach starting with email and phone reservation requests. The next step is to review your current technology landscape to identify which solutions are already in place for this approach and which may still be needed. It may also be possible to replace several existing solutions with a single new approach.  

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What is VingCard? Exploring Different Hotel Lock Models and Alternatives

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Want to install a great locking system for room access control at your hotel? Hotel door locks are one of the most important and underrated features of your property. Choosing the right access system also affects your hotel's ability to innovate in the future by adding contactless access and mobile key or integrating data with other systems.  Guests and employees engage with your door locks every day, and if the lock technology and hardware falls short, it can mean unhappy guests and dissatisfied team members. In this article, we’ll introduce you to one of the industry’s most popular electronic lock solutions: ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions’ VingCard. In addition to explaining the differences between VingCard’s various offerings, we’ll share some best practices and alternative hotel locks to consider so you can secure a smooth entry experience at each door at your property.   Standard VingCard models Looking to upgrade from an old magstripe lock system? VingCard’s Signature, Classic, and Flex models offer secure, reliable RFID technology and a modern look without breaking the bank. Let’s explore the benefits and differences between these three options.   VingCard Signature With a small footprint on the door, the Signature model is ideal for hotels that strive for a clean, minimalist look along with a high-tech locking mechanism. In the photo below, you can see that the VingCard Signature component is the small black rectangle above the door handle. This model can be combined with a variety of handle styles for a totally customized look.     Pros: Takes up little real estate on the door, works with many handle options, and supports ASSA ABLOY’s Mobile Access system which allows guests to unlock the lock with their smartphone. Cons: Limited functionality besides simple locking and unlocking.   VingCard Classic Like the Signature model, the Classic offers modern RFID technology for seamless unlocking of guestroom or back-of-house doors. Unlike the two-piece Signature, though, the Classic model is just one piece of hardware - the RFID reader, door handle, and keyed lock are housed in one unit - making it an ideal replacement for magstripe locks that take up similar space on the door. This model is compatible with several handle options so you can customize the lock’s appearance.   Pros: Good solution for upgrading legacy magstripe locks, minimal maintenance needed. Cons: Takes up a lot of space on the door, looks clunky.   VingCard Flex Another great option for upgrading legacy locks is VingCard’s Flex lock. The biggest benefit of this one is that it requires minimal modification to the door - no drilling required! This aspect makes installation a breeze and allows you to easily upgrade to a more minimal lock style at a future time. Pros: No need to drill into the door, supports a variety of handle and finish options. Cons: Clunky appearance, takes up a lot of space on the door.   Speciality VingCard models Searching for a lock that pushes the envelope in terms of style and functionality? VingCard offers two upgraded models, Allure and Essence, that may better suit the needs of luxury or design-forward hotels that don’t want to compromise function for fashion - or want some additional high-tech features.   VingCard Allure Combining RFID lock technology with electronic information panels, the Allure lock system is packed with features. The locking mechanism is controlled by an exterior panel, which is positioned on the hallway side of the door and displays information like room number and “do not disturb” status. From an internal panel, guests can tap “do not disturb” or “make up room” buttons so the information shows on the exterior panel rather than hanging a sign on the door. The RFID reader is housed on the exterior panel, and it communicates wirelessly with the door locking mechanism.   Pros: Sleek look, serves as a communication tool in addition to a door lock, variety of LED panel lighting options. Cons: More intensive installation process, more expensive than other lock options.   VingCard Essence For hoteliers who want the most understated look possible, the Essence model tucks the RFID reader within the actual door to eliminate the chunky appearance of a traditional RFID reader. This model supports entry via both RFID keycards and Mobile Access, making it a good choice for guests at all levels of tech-savviness.   Pros: RFID reader works from longer distances than other lock options, clean design. Cons: Small footprint on door makes it less than ideal for replacing magstripe locks.   VingCard Alternatives Don’t see exactly what you’re looking for in VingCard’s offerings? Not to worry; you can find several other reputable companies that specialize in electronics locks for the hospitality industry. Dormakaba’s Saflok locks are worthy competitors of VingCard’s models; the Saflok MT RFID in particular is quite similar to the VingCard Signature and Classic as a replacement for legacy magstripe locks or an entry-level RFID lock.   Pictured: Dormakaba Saflok MT RFID   In addition to the MT model, Dormakaba offers the sleek Quantum RFID and Quantum Pixel, which are similar to VingCard’s Essence in terms of minimalist design. And the feature-packed SR3 offers nearly equal functionality to VingCard’s Allure with separate informative and control panels on the corridor and interior sides of the door.   Pictured: Dormakaba SR3   Like VingCard and Dormakaba, SALTO offers a catalog of electronic door locks that range from purely functional to cutting-edge and stylish. The Ælement Fusion, for example, rivals VingCard’s Essence with its minimalist look and Bluetooth compatibility.      Based on your exact specifications and budget, you may find you prefer one lock vendor over the rest. With the right locks in place, you can unlock seamless guest experiences and reduce poor reviews related to lockouts and security. Did we miss any of your questions about VingCard locks? Let us know!  

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What is a CMMS? (+15 Best Vendors of 2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

Hotels see a lot of wear and tear. And, when a hotel room is out of commission for maintenance, a property stands to lose a lot in revenue – by one estimate, a hotel loses $17,653 for every day the room is unavailable. Maintenance is a massive part of hotel and real estate operations, but it gets very little attention as compared to other functions of running a hospitality business. As a result, adding CMMS software to your preventive maintenance program can dramatically improve the maintenance operations efficiency and service of your hotel property – and ensure you don’t lose revenue due to an unresolved maintenance issue leading to asset downtime. Here’s what to look for in a work order system, as well as some popular software picks worth checking out.   What is a CMMS System? CMMS Stands for Computerized Maintenance Management System. A CMMS is designed for maintenance tasks at large businesses and is therefore often referred to as an EAM platform (enterprise asset management).  As such, they have features designed to manage maintenance teams and processes across the entire organization from start to finish.  The core value propositions of a CMMS are: (1) optimize operating efficiency through streamlining maintenance activities and (2) decrease maintenance costs through more effective inventory management. A CMMS is, at its core, a SaaS (software) database. In addition to digitizing the work order process described above, the CMMS will also have the capability to track resources and labor availability, register assets, automate the scheduling of preventative maintenance, track inventory, and provide reporting across maintenance categories.  Here's a quick checklist of CMMS features to give you an idea for what this software is capable of: Predictive maintenance: use data to automatically recommend upkeep like an HVAC servicing beyond basic maintenance schedules. Maintenance manager reports: real-time visibility into asset health across a structure or group of structures via easy-to-understand KPIs.  Asset performance and equipment downtime should be easy to understand for anyone in an organization. Maintenance history/track work orders: Logs of all changes or tasks completed related to an assets lifecycle. Maintenance strategy coaching: Most software companies in the CMMS space with with dozens or hundreds of other asset owners and should be able to provide insight into maintenance processes and best practices. In addition to making the maintenance workflow more efficient, CMMS tools provide more reliable uptime – meaning they help your team keep the lights on and the property running smoothly for as long as possible.   Understanding The Basics of Maintenance Software Work order software is a tool that creates, organizes, assigns, and tracks maintenance requests at a hotel property. This type of software is usually cloud-based and can route requests to mobile devices or stations around your property. It’s more efficient and accurate than managing work orders through pen and paper or via email.  Work order systems can do more than just send requests to the right maintenance staff. These tools let you track the status of the work order in real-time, and also provide reports and analytics to show you how well your maintenance management function is performing. Overall, adding work order software to your tech stack allows you to simplify the work order process. Generally, the work order process happens in three phases: creation, completion, and recording. The creation phase begins the work order process. Whether a maintenance task is planned (e.g., checking the hotel’s fire alarm system) or unplanned (e.g., fixing a burst pipe), a manager or staff member must identify the task for it to enter the system. Next, the request is created with added details such as level of priority, the person responsible for completing the task, the location where the maintenance is required, and – most importantly – the deadline. Next, the person assigned to the task (usually an engineer) completes the work requested. This could be as simple as reading a meter, checking a piece of equipment or as complicated as fixing a leak in the hotel pool. Once the maintenance work has been completed, the technician will log it as such in the work order system. A manager will sign off to validate the completion of the task or help find the resources needed if the task is incomplete.  Once the manager signs off on the completed task, the work order gets logged and archived for future reference. This record allows technicians to track on-site issues over time. For instance, if an HVAC system requires regular maintenance, the work order system can tell a technician the last time the system was serviced. Likewise, it can also alert your hotel when it’s time to replace old or worn-out equipment.   15 Best CMMS Vendors for Hotels 2021 The best work order software combines asset management and record-keeping with an efficient ticketing system and powerful reporting. Here are the top ten work order software platforms of 2021.   hotelkit Facility Management As a 2021 HotelTechAward winner, hotelkit is known for its robust communication platform and ease of use. The software supports a slew of hotel operations needs, including work orders, inspections, and walkthroughs. Staff members can submit work orders from their mobile devices, plus upload photos, then the request gets automatically triaged to the right team and tracked for accountability and reporting. For easy end-to-end operations, hotelkit integrates with many property management systems, like protel, Oracle’s OPERA PMS, and Mews. hotelkit offers a 30-day free trial, then the monthly subscription fee is charged on a per-room basis, making it suitable for hotels of any size.   ALICE Maintenance ALICE’s suite of services includes functionality for all aspects of hotel operations, from guest messaging to maintenance. The Preventative Maintenance module allows staff to submit and assign maintenance requests, track equipment usage or issues, and complete walkthrough checklists - all from their mobile devices. ALICE aims to minimize a hotel’s capital expenditures by making preventative maintenance part of the everyday routine; for example, seeing daily boiler pressure readings or spotting trends in maintenance requests can help you spot early warning signs of a larger facility issue so you can fix the problem before something catastrophic happens. ALICE is available with a monthly subscription fee, and it offers integrations with property management systems like OPERA and StayNTouch.   hub OS Maintenance This all-in-one operations management software supports not only maintenance requests but also housekeeping tasks, guest requests, walkthrough checklists, and reporting. hub OS’ maintenance module allows hoteliers to build and customize entire maintenance plans, with preventative indicators and trend monitoring to assist in spotting potential problems. The app also creates a calendar of scheduled maintenance tasks to comply with brand standards of local regulations, which then automatically generates work orders for the relevant teams. Since the app even works offline, using hub OS is easy anywhere and at any time, and it can use QR codes for quick identification of assets or locations. hub OS supports integrations with many property management systems, such as Mews and protel.   Flexkeeping (Maintenance) Created by a former housekeeper, Flexkeeping knows the ins and outs of hotel operations. Their maintenance management software follows four steps: report, fix, analyze, and prevent. The app allows any staff member to submit a maintenance request with photos and voice-to-text capability, then the appropriate team receives a notification so they can fix the issue as soon as possible. Flexkeeping also supports outsourced maintenance staff, so you don’t need to remember to pick up the phone to call a specialist. All tasks are tracked, and real-time reporting and analytics helps hoteliers spot trends and understand how maintenance issues affect guests and budgets. Hoteliers can try Flexkeeping for free for 30 days; after that, there is an implementation fee and a monthly subscription fee.   Transcendent Transcendent focuses on asset management and preventative maintenance, making it a great tool for hotel owners or asset managers working with multiple properties. Transcendent’s enterprise asset management dashboard tracks asset usage, issues expiration warnings, and houses documentation related to each asset to assist with capex planning and budgeting. The software also includes work order functionality, allowing staff members to submit maintenance requests and follow custom checklists for walkthroughs and inspections. Transcendent’s mobile app is available for iOS and Android, and it can read QR codes for easy access to information or task lists for a specific asset. Transcendent charges a monthly subscription per room, so it works for both small and large properties or hotel groups.   CHAMPS CMMS CHAMPS CMMS includes easy drag-and-drop functionality to help hotel teams schedule and manage maintenance tasks. Mobile compatibility with this cloud-based solution allows teams to work flexibly, providing real-time updates from anywhere on the property. CHAMPS also includes asset inventory and purchasing capability so that your team can create purchase orders for new materials or equipment.   Maxpanda CMMS Maxpanda gets high marks from reviewers for being a flexible CMMS solution. Automated scheduling allows teams to set up alerts for recurring maintenance tasks. Create work order requests for any type of maintenance request. Filter reports using different metrics, including job number, start and end date, completion status, or cost.   Hippo CMMS Hippo CMMS is one of the most affordable software options on the market. It’s a relatively straightforward system that allows users to keep track of multiple work orders throughout the work order process. Hippo also provides a function where technicians can attach photos or documents to the order record for future reference.  Limble CMMS  Limble CMMS is an award-winning tool that claims to help customers capture a 30% boost in overall communication and productivity. The app is compatible with iOS and Android and provides features to streamline work orders, improve communication, manage assets and inventory, and generate reports.   Accruent Accruent, formerly known as Maintenance Connection, is one of the top-rated CMMS options for hotels. This tool’s mobile CMMS lets technicians and managers take their management tasks on the go – so anywhere on the property, a work order can be assigned and accepted. Plus, its reporting feature includes over 200 report template types to help your team set benchmarks, monitor work, and identify obstacles in your workflow.   ManagerPlus Managing maintenance at multiple properties? ManagerPlus might be the right option for your hotel. ManagerPlus’s asset management feature allows you to track equipment across multiple locations – so if one property borrows a tool from another, it won’t go missing. This powerful tool also provides a way to manage suppliers and other contractors directly within the software, keeping communications in one place so there’s no confusion or additional back-and-forth over email.   eMaint CMMS eMaint is great for international hotel brands; it offers multilingual support in Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Hungarian, Polish, Italian and English. If you’re working on a large maintenance project, consider taking advantage of this tool’s document storage functionality. eMaint’s online PDF editor stores your work permits, work order records, asset profiles, and more.   Upkeep Reviewers say that Upkeep CMMS is a well-rounded, simple work order management tool. It provides everything you need to streamline maintenance at your hotel: work order creation, management, and racking with automated processes built-in and several different reporting tools. It also allows you to send push notifications and alerts if there’s an urgent maintenance need on-site.   MaintainX MaintainX gives you the chance to try the tool for free, so if you’re not sure if CMMS is right for your hotel, start here. In addition to your standard work order features, MaintainX has a built-in messaging tool that lets you comment, message, and save communication around a particular work order request. You can also upload photos to verify work completion – a nice feature if you don’t have a manager available to check that the job is done.   Fiix Fiix is another CMMS option that offers a free version. Users say that Fiix CMMS makes it easy to track maintenance and work orders, and that it’s easy to see what the status of each task is.  The free version gives you access to the mobile app with some onboarding, asset tagging, and push notifications. It also gives you a calendar and dashboard to track ongoing maintenance.    Learn more about preventative maintenance software and how work order systems can integrate with your hotel’s technology in our guide to preventive maintenance software.

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4 Common Hospitality Tech Stack Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them)

by
Matthew Lynch
2 weeks ago

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

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Advanced Shouldn't Mean Convoluted: The Benefits of Lean Revenue Management

by
Alexandra Fjällman
3 weeks ago

COVID-19 sped up a trend in revenue operations (RevOps) across the whole world of business. A recent survey by Forrester found that there’s been a massive shift to centralized RevOps. This comes as many companies begin seeing revenue as more than just an outcome. Instead, they now understand it as a result of a complete business process and collaborating commercial teams.  However, Forrester shows that success with this approach comes from more than revising an organization’s structure. An optimized operation model combined with a comprehensive revenue management charter seems to be the recipe for long-term success. This charter should align revenue planning, technology, processes, data and measurement throughout the company.  Breaking up silos in hotel commercial teams has been a hot discussion topic for almost ten years now. However, many of these silos are still a big part of many hotel operations today. In many cases they’re even augmented by specialized tech tools that serve one team and all but exclude the others (e.g., a revenue management system - RMS). One thing has become clear: integration and automation of a hotel’s tech stack are essential to centralizing RevOps. This is why today’s leading SaaS providers are adjusting their tools to facilitate organizational alignment.  In the pandemic’s aftermath, businesses have the chance to archive their long-established structures. Lean, centralized commercial teams can take over and leverage integrated technology, automated processes and cross-functional accountability for success.    Revenue, Gut instinct, and Effort  Up till now, generating revenue at hotels had more to do with gut feeling, knowing the market and hard work than with collaboration and strategy. Many times, poorly aligned initiatives by general management, marketing, revenue management and sales led to lost chances and investment, revenue dilution and internal disputes. Despite this situation having a lot of room for improvement, the data and communication silos in hotels have made it hard to bring about lasting change.    Letting Technology Take You on a Detour Thinking that technology is the solution to all issues is a common mistake. Yes, revenue management tools have developed by leaps and bounds in recent times. Technology today is more powerful than most experts would have deemed possible. It allows hotels to adapt to dynamic markets and make the most of every revenue opportunity. But RMSs were developed primarily for revenue managers - a small group of experts in a single field of the industry. To ensure they deliver on the promised ROI, many RMSs demand a lot of training time and continued interaction due to their complexity.  A well-trained revenue professional who can leverage a system’s full capabilities can create fantastic results. However, technology is also known to cause operational roadblocks. The sales and marketing teams or the GMs don’t have the time to learn the ropes of intricate legacy RMSs because they have their department’s own systems to look after. The same applies to revenue managers and technology used by other teams. In short, the more programs a hotel uses, the more likely it is to foster ongoing silo culture.    Using New Revenue Tools to Do More With Less The pandemic has led hoteliers to look at their operations differently. Today, there’s a desire to do more with smaller teams, decrease the staff’s workload, streamline day-to-day operations and make commercial teams work together more closely.  Commercial teams have begun changing as a result. Silos are opening up while marketing, sales and revenue teams lay old rivalries to rest. Now, teams work across several disciplines, and moving forward, they’ll be using a set of integrated tools instead of programs specialized on a single function. In revenue management, this includes automating time-consuming tasks like forecasting and rate optimization. It also covers the presentation of results and related information in an easy-to-read format everyone in the commercial team can understand and use.  At first, it may feel strange for revenue managers who are used to complex legacy RMSs, that manual case by case rate analysis is no longer needed to achieve excellent results. Today, smart hoteliers see that trusting an automated system with time-sensitive pricing tasks is giving them a competitive advantage.  Now that travel is slowly ramping up, competition between hotels will be strong. Using new and perhaps unusual ideas is a way for properties to differentiate themselves and create a base for future success.    Setting up a well-integrated tech stack, using automation where possible, and streamlining communication are the initial measures you can take to make this happen at your hotel.

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Systemize the New Standard of Hotel Housekeeping with Hotel Management Software

by
Sarah Duguay
3 weeks ago

Cleanliness has always been a top concern for hotel guests but with the arrival of COVID-19, even hotels that already had high housekeeping standards had to kick it up to the next level. Due to a combination of government protocols and guest expectations, an elevated level of cleanliness now must be maintained in order to remain competitive. After a year of endless pivots, the work isn’t over for hotels as travel opens up again. The good news is that hotel technology is here to help streamline and systemize your housekeeping operations with checklists, mobile reports, and front desk integrations, allowing you to come up for air and manage your housekeeping team more efficiently.   High Housekeeping Standards as Crisis Control Gone are the days of white-gloved hands running along ledges checking for dust. Surface cleans have been replaced with deep cleans and guests are savvy enough to know the difference. Housekeeping standards have always been important to guests. According to J.D. Power’s 2020 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index—which used feedback from 37,843 guests in the U.S. between May 2019 and March 2020 (ahead of the pandemic industry impact)—the top driver of guest satisfaction is room cleanliness. As COVID-19 spread in 2020, the bar was raised again as hotels globally introduced new housekeeping standards. This wasn’t only about cleanliness, but crisis control. Big names in the industry not only developed their own protocols but branded them too, such as Hilton’s CleanStay and Hyatt’s Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment.   Hotel Tech for a Systems-based Approach to Hotel Housekeeping As a hotelier, you’re required to juggle guest expectations, labor resources, and changing government protocols. As travel returns to near-normal levels, how will you meet demands? With a systems approach, aided by hotel technology.  “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems,” says James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. While housekeeping is a physical task, it begins in the back office on paper (or computer screen, rather). Start by referring to your national hotel cleanliness regulations and COVID-19 protocols, whether you need to develop new standards or revamp old ones. Take inspiration from major brands now that they have shared their commitments online and develop a housekeeping strategy and checklist that your hotel can implement. How do you transform your housekeeping strategy into a repeatable system for success? By using up-to-the-minute housekeeping software that’s integrated with your property management system (PMS).    Front Desk Integration PMS-integrated housekeeping software streamlines internal communications for improved productivity and guest service. As room status is updated on the housekeeping report, room status is automatically updated within your reservation system, keeping front desk staff informed of which rooms are ready for arriving guests. When rooms require extra attention or guest requests come through the front desk, tasks can be scheduled, maintenance alarms can be set, and housekeeping can be alerted—all in one spot. Mobile Housekeeping Reports Mobile housekeeping reports boost productivity and cut paper and printing costs by allowing housekeepers to update room status in real-time from their mobile devices as they work. Housekeeping staff can refer to their device to know which rooms need servicing next, view occupancy status, and to view or add housekeeping notes. Management can oversee housekeeping schedules and track progress wherever they are, by accessing the housekeeping report on their phone or tablet. Housekeeping Checklists Trade-in your clipboard with a pencil on a string for digital checklists within your housekeeping software. Armed with a mobile device, housekeeping staff can track and log room cleaning tasks as they go. Look for software that allows you to customize checklists by room type and to drill down to the details by breaking checklists down by sections and adding task descriptions to ensure high standards are maintained. Whether staff is new or seasoned, nothing will go amiss with housekeeping checklists in place.   Implement a Culture of Cleanliness  Knowing that cleanliness is a top driver of guest satisfaction and amidst the landscape of the pandemic, it’s time to institute a culture of cleanliness. Why? Because guest satisfaction results in 1) good reviews, which results in new bookings; and 2) guest loyalty and repeat bookings. In the aftermath of the pandemic, a high level of cleanliness is a matter of safety and public responsibility—not only for guests but for your employees, too! Consistent cleanliness protocols based on regulatory standards, coupled with clear expectations, efficient systems, and communication is also a recipe for employee retention. A culture of cleanliness at your hotel is not a goal, but a system that’s repeatable, measurable, and trackable. A robust cloud property management system with versatile housekeeping management tools will help you streamline your high standards to get you through the pandemic and beyond.  

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9 Simple Tips to Becoming a Better Manager in 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

“Love your staff.” That’s the secret to running a successful hotel according to the founder of the iconic One Aldwych in London. It’s great advice and an essential mantra for hospitality, which is a people business at its core and relies heavily on team members coordinating for a higher cause. That mantra is put to the test during downturns, such as the COVID pandemic or the financial crisis of 2008. Faced with uncertainty and economic headwinds, managers must balance the needs of the business with those of its people.  So it's understandable that you may be asking yourself, “How can I be a good manager?” and "what management skills do I need to succeed?" these are important questions and an indication that you're already well on your way to being an effective leader.  Questioning and learning is a key to managerial success in and of itself. Self-awareness and a desire to improve are two valuable traits in any manager. As you focus on improving your leadership skills during challenging times, here are 9 tips for becoming a better manager. 2021 has been incredibly difficult but there is a silver lining: you’ll be a stronger manager, with a whole new set of skills to build on moving forward. As you invest the time in building meaningful relationships with your colleagues, you’ll earn respect and loyalty that’s helpful in both good times and bad. Here are some questions we'll answer in this article: What learning tools and hospitality books are available to new managers? What steps can managers take to facilitate a stress-free work environment? What characteristics do the best managers in the world possess? How to hone decision-making abilities and communication skills Why motivating employees is hard work and how career development is key   1. Be honest and objective Always be honest with your staff! You don't want to sugarcoat things, hide from the truth, or seem aloof, evasive or uncaring. Your staff will see through any BS anyhow, so it’s best to be as honest as possible (without being mean).  At a time when stress and emotions run high, stay objective. It helps keep your head level and your approached even-handed. Dialing too deep into emotions can create an inconsistent experience for individual staff members. That breeds feelings of unfairness and resentment, as individuals feel they’re being treated differently. Avoid that and stay both objective and honest.   During performance reviews, for example, you may be tempted to hold in critical feedback, especially with your favorite colleagues.  Critical feedback helps employees develop new skills and facilitates goal setting that leads to progress in your teams professional lives (and personal lives!).  Effective management and being a team leader is all about communicating the hard news in an empathetic way while being honest and objective.  It's also critical to strategize the right times to communicate - for example, maybe team meetings are a bad place to call out team members for a lack of soft skills.   2. Get out of the office When times are tough, the last thing you want is for staff to think you’re hiding in your office. Get out into the hotel and stay connected with all aspects of the property. You’ll have a better understanding of the current mood and operational needs. This is called “Management By Walking Around (MBWA),” and it keeps you up front and visible with staff. You lead by example and show them that you’re active and engaged, rather than hidden away in the office.  Being visible is also a fantastic way to provide a top-notch guest experience. Greeting guests and being available to address comments or concerns keeps you in tune with their needs -- a personalized approach that encourages glowing reviews and builds your online reputation.  Remember that it’s not enough to just get out of the office: you also must interact with others to really catalyze the benefit, says Mark Hamister, CEO of the Hamister Hospitality Group: “Adding an "I" for Interaction to MBWA enabled us to finally encourage teamwork between management and staff, increase the number of informal problem-solving opportunities on a daily basis, and thereby produce immediate and creative solutions.”   3. Prioritize speed over precision Whether you realize it or not, your team takes cues from your confidence and posture. As their leader, you set the bar. Especially during times of crisis, when circumstances change often, you must be the fearless leader. You don’t have the luxury of rumination. So you must be decisive and prioritize speed over precision. Even if you have to fake it because you are freaking out inside, act fast and with conviction. See next point for a specific tactic that requires a good leader to be decisive.   4. Fire quickly and fairly Even if you have to fire people today, you may want to hire them once the downturn eases and demand returns. The last thing you want to do is leave a poor impression that scuttles employee loyalty. Do right by them, as you may want to bring former employees back rather than trying to find new staff. Furloughs may become temporary as the downturn drags on. And you may even need to fire employees that you recently brought back on. Firing is often the worst part of being a manager.  It's emotionally exhausting and extremely difficult. But don’t delay the inevitable, as making several rounds of smaller layoffs leads to lower morale. To minimize stress of an already difficult situation, fire quickly and fairly. Make an honest appraisal of what you need to do to keep the lights on and then make those decisions quickly. You also want to be fair and as transparent as possible about how these decisions were made. Avoid politics and personal preferences to avoid favoritism or ill-will. And always follow the traits above: Be objective, honest and helpful!   5. Listen, listen, listen! Great leaders are great listeners. They're able to listen, synthesize and act based on what they’ve learned. Listening is the foundation of hospitality, as it builds mutual understanding, meaningful relationships and memorable, experiences, says Gary Gutierrez of HRI Lodging in New Orleans: “For hoteliers, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Running a hotel, like life, is all about how you make people feel.” And it’s not just with guests; sometimes it's just about being a friendly ear for your team. You don't have to be a therapist but you certainly have to be there to listen. Oftentimes, that’s what your team needs most: a sympathetic ear.   6. Be available to your staff Micromanaging is the enemy.  Time management is key and delegating tasks to direct reports will free you up to create a better work environment for other team members.  Succesful managers make it crystal clear that you are a manager with an open door policy. Build trust with your staff by listening to their concerns and doing what you can to address them.  Of course, much of it will be out of your hands. So just listen and empathize.  Be there for your staff and they will have your back. Even in tough times, people know when they are treated fairly and with respect - and that makes a lasting impression.  Sometimes an open-door policy may not be enough to encourage employees to surface issues. Experiment with holding office hours, which are open to anyone and held at the same frequency (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly).  You also should offer anonymous channels of communication. Not everyone is comfortable with face to face conversations. To reduce gossip, prevent abuse and shorten the distance between you and your employees, make an anonymous feedback channel for your staff. Anonymity helps you build trust and address concerns quickly before they get out of control.   7. Embrace creativity, patiently A crisis is an ideal time to experiment and try new things. It pulls you out of the everyday routine and provides an organic opportunity to embrace creativity. Convene your staff and encourage them to brainstorm creative ways to both address the current crisis and build resilience for future ones. One of the corollary benefits to creativity is that it often engages your staff. Most people respond well to being asked to brainstorm ideas and contribute to the success of the organization. By unleashing your the creativity of your staff, you inspire and bring out the best, which also nurturing potential future leaders, says Paul Patiño of the Saguaro Palm Springs:  “The true challenge is being that leader that can move everyone in the same direction together and bring out the best in each person, inspiring them to be better versions than they already are. All great things take time, patience, and lots of love.”   8. Do more with less Hotels everywhere are trying to do more with less. There’s fewer bookings which means fewer staff.  Look for opportunities to economize your operational footprint and be as efficient as possible. If you can find room in the budget, invest in new technology that preserves service standards despite being short-staffed -- and reduces the burden on your small team overloaded with tasks. Roll your sleeves up and show your team but no task is too small. It’s all-hands-on-deck, so step up and lead by example. This behavior will build trust and motivate your staff, as well as create a “we’re all in this together” mindset.   9. Be helpful and humble Great managers aren't just good listeners and clear communicators, they're also helpful and go the extra mile to help their team at all costs. As a trusted resource, you show staff that you care and that it’s ok for them to bring their whole selves to work.  When you fire people, offer to write recommendation letters and do help them in their job search. When you discipline individuals, provide clear performance improvement tips that help them improve. When you walk around the property, be helpful to guests and staff - helpfulness is a form of hospitality, after all! You also must be humble. As someone in a position of authority, it’s easy to think that your position makes you the best person to solve the problem. But that leaves blindspots and leads to employees feeling disengaged at work. That’s not a good recipe for hospitality! To avoid this, leaders don’t just listen but also ask to lead with questions, says Joseph Kirtley, GM at Highgate Hotels: “Leaders often feel that we are supposed to have all the answers. In actuality, being a great leader takes humility, and asking the right questions. Opening yourself to the strengths and knowledge of those around you takes you to another level.” Did we miss any good tips? Let us know via live chat!  

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15 Best Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants in 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Online ordering for restaurants will continue to be a major revenue stream in 2021. In part, off-site online ordering can help you grow revenue by tapping new customers and on-site online ordering can help you grow revenue by maximizing revenue from on-premise guests.  Statistics show that Gen Z and Millennials will continue to favor online ordering long after the pandemic is over. If you’re new to online ordering, the number of platforms available to you can be overwhelming. You are likely familiar with food delivery partners UberEats or GrubHub, but there are also ordering systems that allow customers to order directly from a restaurant. In fact, those direct online food ordering tools are a win-win for both you and your customers: you get to keep the full amount from each sale, while most consumers say their preference is to order directly from a restaurant. This guide breaks down the 15 top systems for implementing online ordering at your restaurant. We break down our list into two groups: (1) on-site: these are mobile ordering solutions that can be used to order food and beverage while at a restaurant and (2) off-site: these are solutions that help restaurants take online orders from off-site patrons. From POS-specific tools to user-friendly apps, here are the platforms that can deliver the best ROI from your restaurant’s online delivery, curbside pickup, and takeaway orders in 2021.   What to Look for in a Restaurant Online Ordering System There are really three ways to implement an online ordering system at your restaurant. The first is through your restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS) system. A POS with online ordering added on will do the work of taking orders, routing them to the kitchen, and alerting the front-of-house staff when a customer or delivery person is picking up the order. Look for a POS that makes it easy to set up an ordering page through an e-commerce integration like Shopify. A second option is to see if your POS integrates with a third-party ordering app. Some POS systems won’t have native online ordering software built into the interface, but they can sync with an app for an additional cost. Upserve, Toast, and Square for Restaurants are all examples of restaurant POS systems that can accept online orders. The advantage of using this option is that there is relatively little you need to do to get set up and start accepting orders; you’ll also be able to store customer order information in one unified record, combining transaction details from in-restaurant dining with online ordering records. The last option is to use a marketplace delivery app like UberEats or Door Dash. These apps are specifically created for the restaurant industry, and can therefore be very intuitive to implement and start using. However, watch out for high fees and compatibility issues –– third-party apps can take between 10% - 30% of each sale they deliver. When evaluating which of these options is right for your restaurant, consider these variables:  Cost: third-party ordering apps and marketplace delivery apps sometimes charge a yearly subscription or take a percentage of each sale.  Visibility: third-party apps may cost more, but they offer a way to reach customers who may not know about your restaurant.  Ease-of-use: make sure whatever platform you use is intuitive for your staff and doesn’t lead to a traffic jam in the back-of-house.  Compatibility: does the solution you’re considering integrate with your existing system? Customer loyalty: a marketplace app may give you visibility, but it comes with the disadvantage of not giving you much customer information that can be used in marketing to increase loyalty.  Customer experience: how easy is it for a guest to browse your menu, make a selection, request modifications, and pay? An online ordering system may seem like a big investment, but it’s one that will continue to bring in revenue well beyond the pandemic. By some estimates, restaurant delivery sales could rise an annual average of more than 20% to $365 billion worldwide by 2030. With these factors in mind, here are the ten best online ordering systems for restaurants in 2021.   Best Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants in 2021 (On-Site) Here are our picks for the best POS apps and integrations for hotel restaurants in 2021. These platforms help restaurants facilitate online orders at physical locations - think bars, restaurants, hotel room service, poolside, etc.  As you explore these solutions you may also want to review our in-depth guide to mobile ordering software.   Bbot Smart Ordering Bbot’s online ordering system works for just about any type of food business - take-out, delivery, in-venue dining, catering, and more. The system is fully web-based, and operators can upload, edit, and add branding to their digital menus from the dashboard. Customers can order in-venue or off-premise with a few taps on their smartphones, and payment is processed securely without the need for physical credit cards or paper receipts. Bbot supports NFC payments, ApplePay, GooglePay, and QR codes. The app charges a monthly subscription fee, but businesses can sign up for a free trial before committing.   RoomOrders Designed for hotels and resorts, RoomOrders offers a cloud-based ordering and payment platform that works not only for F&B outlets, but also for pools, golf courses, gift shops, and other vendors. Operators can configure their menus or catalogs on the RoomOrders dashboard for easy viewing and ordering from anywhere - on- or off-premise. Customers or guests on-site can access the menu by scanning a QR code or tapping their smartphones on an NFC tag. RoomOrders charges a $50 monthly fee per venue plus a 1-5% fee per transaction, though transaction fees at additional venues within the same property are a flat 1%.   ServeSafely (by Crave) This online ordering and payment system is suitable for all kinds of F&B venues, from restaurants and bars to concert venues and nightclubs. ServeSafely optimizes revenue and profitability with upsell features, customizable menus, and tools to boost sales of higher-margin menu items. In addition, ServeSafely complies with GDPR marketing permissions so operators can use customer contact information to generate repeat sales and loyalty. Guests can access menus by scanning QR codes, and payment is completely contactless with ApplePay or Google Pay. As a bonus, users say that Crave’s customer support team is helpful and responsive. ServeSafely charges an implementation fee plus a monthly service fee.   SABA F&B Ordering SABA’s web-based ordering app allows guests to browse digital menus and place orders from anywhere. Operators can create menus that are easily editable, contain upsell offers, and support multiple languages. Guests can access the app by scanning a QR code or clicking a link on the property’s website or social media pages, and operators have the option to embed the app on in-room tablets or existing hotel apps. Besides F&B, hoteliers can also configure the app to place minibar orders and housekeeping requests. SABA charges a monthly fee, and a 30-day free trial is available to try before you buy.   Flexkeeping Though it was originally created as a housekeeping system and staff communication platform, Flexkeeping’s software can flex to a variety of needs and situations. The app’s room service module lets hoteliers digitize their in-room dining operations, from ordering to analytics. Hoteliers can create digital menus, configure instant notifications for staff, and see real-time order status. Flexkeeping also gives operators insight into their most popular dishes, order times, and total order volume, and it has integrations with popular property management systems such as Mews. From a guest’s perspective, the ordering process is quick and easy. Flexkeeping offers a 30-day free trial; after the trial, the software comes with a monthly subscription fee.    Best Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants in 2021 (Food Delivery, Off-Site) Clover Online Ordering Clover Online Ordering enables your restaurant to start taking online orders through two options: a Clover-powered web page created for you or the Clover app, or through The The.Ordering.app. Clover does the heavy lifting to get you set up with an online menu, increasing your visibility to customers, firing orders to the kitchen, and sending alerts when an order is ready for pickup. A key benefit to Clover Online Ordering is that it also keeps track of customer information: add reward, promo, and customer feedback programs to reward your loyal fans. The drawback to Clover Online Ordering is that you do need a Clover POS device (Station, Station Pro, Mini, and Flex) connected to a printer. It may not be the best solution if you’re not already using this technology. There are no fees associated with Clover’s ordering services, and Clover is waiving The Ordering.app fee of 1.5% per order is until January 1, 2021.   Chownow Online Ordering Chownow is commission-free, making it a good bet for restaurants looking to maximize revenue for each sale. Chownow is a third-party ordering app that integrates with your POS system and offers many options for capturing online orders. Get a branded mobile app for your restaurant, or give customers the ability to order straight from your website (rather than through a third-party like GrubHub). Integrations with Yelp, Instagram, and Google serve to increase your restaurant’s visibility and boost orders quickly. Chownow charges a flat subscription fee of $99 - $150 per month, depending on which features you use. That can be expensive, but note that Chownow also offers configurations for in-restaurant and curbside pickup, expanding your restaurant’s ability to serve customers with ease.   Toast POS Toast is similar to Clover, in that online ordering is only available through the Toast POS system. That said, Toast is built for restaurants and comes with tons of features to help you save – boosting both revenue and profit margins in the process. The company reports that restaurants save an average of $36,000 per year with Toast Online Ordering. This is due to a wide selection of built-in features, including a loyalty program, the ability to create and accept gift cards, and inventory management for your restaurant – in addition to online ordering. Toast offers a free calculator to help you estimate how much your restaurant could be saving by switching to their online ordering system. Like Chownow, Toast is subscription-based and does not charge a commission per sale. However, you do need to factor in the costs of switching to their POS hardware in addition to software fees.   FreshBytes FreshBytes is designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses – and it offers the same powerful features from which large chain restaurants benefit. “Applauded as one of the simplest and fastest emerging online ordering platforms in the times of COVID-19, FreshBytes offers branded, mobile-friendly, and commission-free services with fully integrated online ordering features — premium website designs, social media ordering, one-touch reordering, print kitchen tickets, consultative onboarding, 24/7 customer support, and smart messaging,” writes one reviewer. FreshBytes also stands out for its focus on the customer experience. Features like menu item photos and one-touch reordering make it extremely user-friendly. It also allows for catering orders, a great feature for hotel restaurants. Pricing starts at $89 per month.   GloriaFood If you’re looking for a holdover solution to offer online ordering only until the pandemic is over, GloriaFood might be the right solution for your restaurant. If you already have a website, and just need an integration to accept orders try GloriaFood. It provides a "See MENU & Order" or "Table reservation" widget to your website to make the online ordering process fast & easy. The best part: the basic system is completely free. Accept unlimited orders for pickup or delivery without paying any commission – nor are there setup fees or hidden costs. You may need to pay for “upgrades” – essential features like accepting credit cards – but overall, this is a low-cost solution that can tide your restaurant over until in-restaurant dining returns.   MenuDrive MenuDrive offers all the basic features of online ordering with a focus on marketing. “MenuDrive is a great option for restaurants that want to create a branded ordering experience on their website. Users are able to customize their POS and online ordering system by sending their menu, product photos, and other branding materials to MenuDrive, who then puts it all together,” says one reviewer.   It not only offers a way to customize your online branding, but automated email campaigns and integrated marketing services help your restaurant build a dedicated customer base. The downside is that MenuDrive can be a little more expensive: the basic plan starts at $99 per month per location along with a $99 one-time setup fee. They also a 3.5% credit card processing fee + 15¢ per transaction.    Upserve Upserve is a nice option if your restaurant is a cafe or coffee kiosk: its restaurant management system has options for bars, wineries, coffee shops and bakeries. Upserve integrates with other online ordering marketplaces, like Postmates, DoorDash, Caviar, and UberEats, giving you the best of both worlds – a fully-branded ordering experience, and the visibility of a third-party delivery partner. This ordering system also gives you analytics so you can track your restaurant’s performance and made adjustments for higher guest satisfaction scores.  Upserve also offers a POS system and plenty of other restaurant management tools. Plans start at $59 per month with $60 per additional terminal.    Square for Restaurants  Like Clover, Square for Restaurants’ online ordering tool requires the use of the Square Terminal and Kitchen Display System (KDS). If you already have those tools, online ordering by Square is streamlined and efficient. No matter through which channel an order comes – Postmates, UberEats, or Chowly – the kitchen receives the order in one easy interface. There are a few options for how you choose to configure the order flow, too. Online ordering is part of Square for Restaurants, which is offered in three pricing tiers. If you already have Square for Restaurants, it’s easy to simply enable delivery services through your dashboard.   The Ordering.App It was only a matter of time before Google started to get involved in restaurant online ordering. The Ordering.App is Google’s online ordering tool. A key benefit of the Ordering.app is that it allows customers to order right from your website, Google Search, Google Maps and more. This gives your restaurant great visibility and reach, and decreases the number of steps a customer has to complete to send an order to your restaurant. It integrates with both Square and Clover, and also comes as an app that you can download straight to your tablet or mobile device. The Ordering.App is affordable: no setup fees or subscription costs, and right now through March 30, 2021 The Ordering.app is waiving its 1.5% per order fee to help support restaurants during the pandemic.   Restolabs Restolabs is another popular option that offers easy setup and 0% commission. A nice feature is Facebook ordering, in which customers browse your menu and use the Restolabs widget to order straight through your social media page. Pricing starts at $45 per month.    For more on restaurant ordering systems, download our free Guide to Mobile Ordering and Room Service Software for 2021.