News

News & analysis driven by the Hotel Tech Report platform and global community.

< HotelTechReport Blog

Trending Hotel Software Articles

Cover image

How PMSs Help Mobile Applications Push Hospitality Forward

by
Jan Hejny
10 hours ago

Guests’ satisfaction has been dependent on the work of hotel employees for a long time. However, hotels may not have enough staff (a common phenomenon today) or they may encounter understandable staff limits (people are not reachable nonstop or can be slow, etc.). This can lead to problematic situations such as check-in queues or insufficient communication with guests.  Therefore, the dependency of guest satisfaction on the performance of the staff only may not be the best possible solution for a hotel. Especially nowadays, when there is an option to supplement the work of hotel employees with available systems. Mobile applications, software designed to improve the care that guests receive in hotels, are a typically great support for the work of staff.  But it’s not just about mobile applications, the story of service improvements begins (traditionally) with PMSs.   PMS and third-party systems Several systems are available for hotels. However, in order for their operation to develop thanks to the use of these systems, it is necessary to connect them “to solid foundations”, i.e. a good PMS. Not only because PMS simplifies hotel administration and increases its efficiency, but also because it gathers lots of information that third-party systems need to use. That’s why, for the good of the hotels, the responsibilities of PMSs should include “openness”, which means they should be enabling integrations with third-party software.  But not all PMSs work that way. In many places, it is a standard even today to use PMS which does not support integration. Such a hotel then becomes a “prisoner” of its own system and deprives itself of the possibility to move its services forward. On the other hand, this situation is ideal for PMS itself, it keeps the client in hand and does not let third-party software in. At the same time, the PMS tries to provide everything the hotelier needs through its native functions. But that will never work, PMSs cannot do everything. On the other hand, what they can (and must) be capable of, is collecting data and providing it to integrated systems.   Quality comes first Not using the data provided by PMS limits the hotel’s potential and profits. Problems may arise in various places – dissatisfied guests may wait a long time for check-in, staff may spend endless hours manually entering and processing data or sending emails to guests. But we can solve or even prevent all such problems today – thanks to mobile applications for example.  Mobile applications complement (or substitute) the work of hotel staff. Just as hotel staff, mobile applications are guests’ company during the hotel trip, they only differ in the sense that some of them are “with the guests” throughout the whole stay whereas some accompany them just through part of it.  But why does the choice of PMS matter when it comes to mobile applications? Because the quality of the integration is of the essence. The more features the mobile application has, the more data needs to be transmitted and the more complex integration has to be built. It is still true that PMSs must be an open platform (providing APIs and integrating third-party systems) but that’s just half of the story. They must also be able to build complex integrations, i.e. exchange data with complex systems such as AeroGuest, a mobile application that is with guests from booking to check-out. The amount of data this system needs is huge. The quality of integration is crucial.   One small step for a hotelier, one giant leap for a hotel As was said, the mobile application may accompany guests during part of their stay or take care of them from the journey’s start to its end. The choice of specific application(s) for a hotel depends on the hotelier – whether he wants to enable online check-in, install mobile locks on doors, automate communication with guests, increase revenue by supporting upselling, etc. In the category of systems that are with the guest “from start till the end”, we can find applications such as AeroGuest, which is a system that allows online check-in/out, online payment for a hotel room, an upgrade of hotel room via mobile phone, upselling or installation of mobile locks. The second category consists of applications (GuestJoy, MyStay, Upsellguru), which focus on part of the journey of hotel guests, that means for example on automation of communication with guests, enabling online check-in, or increasing the effectiveness of upselling.  But if we distinguish the systems only according to how big part of the guest’s journey they can take care of, we remain too superficial. It is important to look deeper, for example, at the level of automation that various applications bring to hotels.  There is a huge difference between online check-in meaning only pre-filling in the information or meaning taking care of the whole process via mobile phone (and thus not having to come to the front desk upon arrival) or between having to pick up a door key/card or not (and thus going straight to the room after arrival). Guests can also spot a difference between the possibility of ordering extra services or upgrading the room directly through the mobile application and the situation in which the application just informs guests and they have to write an email or ask someone in order to get some of the available services.  It depends only on the hotelier which solution he picks. But whatever his preferences, the way to open the hotel to third-party systems must begin with the right choice of PMS. Its selection is a giant leap for the entire hotel, as it is the basis for the proper functioning of third-party systems that then take staff work and guests’ experience to the next level. That brings us back to the beginning. The more complex the application, the better integration a hotel needs. If a hotelier chooses the right PMS, his only limitations when picking mobile applications are his own preferences.  

Cover image

Inflation’s Ripple Effect: High Debt Costs - A Risk for Hotel Investors

by
Alex Sogno
1 week ago

The hotel sector has grown used to absorbing the blows as the pandemic has thrown punch after punch in their direction. Yet now, as the rather choppy recovery progresses, inflation could well be the blow that lands the knock-out punch to some in the sector. For those with hotels situated in areas with strong tourism demand, there has been the chance to increase ADR, sometimes with the added benefit of high occupancy, to help soften the impact of wage and cost inflation, but for those dependent upon business travel, the surge in demand is yet to materialise, meaning many remain on the ropes. Inflation - and the added spectre of stagflation - is greatly feared by both economists and the wider population alike. For those with debt, however, there at least used to be a silver lining as the loss of value in money has a corresponding effect on any debt. This is a particular favourite among some governments, who have been known to use inflation to reduce their borrowings and get out of periods of high spending intact. But you can go too far. If inflation starts to run away, the borrowing to deal with it can outpace any reduction in value, and then a spiral begins, which is hard to break. Away from the macro, is the mechanism traditionally used to control inflation in the form of increasing interest rates, leading to significantly higher debt coverage - a negative sting in the tail. The hotel sector has been through a phase of borrowing just to stay afloat. While we saw Marriott International and Hilton using their loyalty programmes to raise money to build up cash cushions, for the rest of the sector, government support and additional borrowing were the route to staying afloat. With supply chain issues, inflation, and war in Ukraine grabbing governments’ attention, supporting the hotel sector while it tries to move towards stabilised trading is not a popular issue. Many loans are now being demanded back by governments eager to balance their books. Of those who looked to the private sector for loans and investment, many are finding money taken to save a business is harder to pay back than they had hoped, hindered as they are by inflationary pressures and increased debt costs. In addition, lenders have continually adjusted their risk appetite, leading to pressure to enforce covenants. Hotels are finding that what kept them afloat may now sink them as they find ever-decreasing volumes of cash available to meet such demands, let alone service debt, which could drive an acceleration of loan-to-own scenarios as well as an increase in transactions in general. A critical additional factor is the impact this scenario has in terms of the valuation methodology applied, and the increased potential for the sort of downward pressure on asset values many investors anticipated (and in some cases hoped) would lead to forced sales before now. Although the focus on the top lines is necessary for a speedy recovery, it’s recommended asset managers and hotel owners re-run their projections: evaluate the inflation impact on their 10-year projection, and clearly estimate the risk of a high debt ratio on the discounted cash flow. It is important not to misjudge the inflation threat until it is too late. Although tempting, it is important not to play down rising prices and concentrate only the recovery efforts on the operating departments. It is essential to evaluate the potential exposure below GOP and value the risk of rising inflation and cost of debt. Although hotel value is holding up, for now, the current market conditions will soon impact hotel valuations. Combined with the geopolitical instability, the situation may worsen rapidly. The sector is not yet in desperate straits. The latest study from HotStats, for April, reported: “The higher cost for goods is not yet wrecking traveller appetite. Despite record gas prices, ballooning airfares and crippling inflation roiling the globe, hotel performance remained widely steady, if not getting better, in April, with increases in both the top and bottom line.” The M&A market is, however, ticking up. 2021 was a year of strong recovery for European hotel transactions. A total of €16.4bn [1] worth of hotels changed hands, representing 322 individual transactions, 498 hotels and 79,000 rooms. Institutional investors and private equity investors were the largest net buyers as they rushed to deploy capital which had been hard to move at the height of the pandemic. 2022 is expected to show increased volumes. Lenders who have been lenient so far are expected to lose their patience, and hotels are forecast to sell rather than refinance. Some owners have been down on the canvas but bounced back due to pent up tourism demand; some cling to the ropes in the hope that improved trading will ensure few fire sales; but investors are still holding out for a bargain, and many are poised, and ready to pick up those who are forced to throw in the towel.

Cover image

9 Booking Engine Features that Generate Revenue

by
Svetlana Marchik
1 week ago

At each stage of the guest journey, hotels should maximize their potential to draw users’ attention, make them opt for them, and, finally, make a booking. A booking engine can cover all three if it meets a number of criteria. In this post, we go into detail on three types of Booking Engine elements: the ones that inspire confidence, convert, and encourage spending more on a stay.

Cover image

How to Use Your PMS to Personalize the Guest Experience

by
Sarah Duguay
1 week ago

As consumers, we seek experiences that make us feel valued. For 84% of us, being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning our business, according to a Salesforce study. How do you make someone feel valued? By getting to know them, understanding their needs, and exceeding their expectations—in other words, by personalizing their experience. From a business perspective, personalizing the customer experience not only earns loyal customers but has a positive impact on your bottom line. Research shows that personalization most often drives 10 to 15 percent revenue lift. In the hospitality industry, treating guests like people, not numbers, is what it’s all about. But as a hospitality provider, how do you personalize the experience for each and every guest? It all boils down to guest data and how you use it—and your property management system (PMS) is the key. Keep reading to learn how you can use your PMS to personalize the stay experience for every guest.   Use your booking engine to get the data you need The booking stage represents the first opportunity to capture valuable guest data that forms the foundation of the guest relationship. Even basic contact details (name, address, phone, email) and reservation information (room type, rate type and stay dates) is enough to start personalizing the guest experience. You can ensure you get the data you need by setting required fields in your booking engine for both online bookings and bookings coming through your front desk. For example, the guest’s email address and/or mobile phone number is necessary for sending routine guest communications. Properties with age restrictions will need the guest’s birthdate. Some properties require the names of all additional guests within a reservation. Optional fields such as dietary requirements or special requests are useful for gathering more information about the guest at the time of booking, but consider their inclusion on the booking form carefully—you don’t want to jeopardize the simplicity of the booking process. Instead, you can ask for more information in the confirmation and/or pre-arrival email. Personalize the booking experience for the guest by allowing amenities-based room searches for more customized results. Offering add-ons (like in-room extras, activities, and dining reservations) during the booking process is a great way to allow guests to curate their perfect stay (and to boost hotel ancillary revenue too)—but again, take care not to compromise the simplicity of the booking experience. Ensure any booking add-on options are attached to the right room types / rate types so that guests are presented with relevant offers.   Use guest profiles to recognize repeat guests Using reservation information, a good PMS will automatically create a guest profile whenever a reservation for a new guest is entered into the system. Guest profiles not only make entering reservations for repeat guests easier, they are key to personalizing the guest experience. At the basic level, guest profiles help you recognize repeat guests and, as long as existing profiles are used for subsequent bookings, will build a record of stay history for every guest, helping you discover reservation trends at both the guest and property level. At the next level, guest profiles equip hoteliers with the kind of knowledge that allows them to go above and beyond for their guests. Use profiles to store juicy details about your guests (that they share with you), like their dairy allergy, the name of their four-legged travel companion, their love of sushi. Then, use this valuable information to hyper personalize their experience, from letting them know about the newest sushi joint in town, to surprising them with dairy-free welcome chocolates and treats for Fido on their next visit. This is the way to earn forever guests! Profile notes about guests can be set to appear on check-in and check-out reports and within guest profile searches to help staff personalize service in a proactive way. But a guest database is only useful when it is clean and healthy. Avoid duplicate profiles by ensuring front desk staff are trained to use and maintain guest profiles and to merge duplicate records. Allowing repeat guests to use their existing profile when booking through your website also helps avoid duplicate profiles—and is a convenience they’ll appreciate. Maintaining and using existing guest profiles is crucial for tracking guest reward points if you have a points-based loyalty program in place.   Offer self-check-in for a convenient, seamless arrival experience It might sound contradictory, but self-check-in (or contactless check-in) can result in an even more personalized experience for some guests than checking in at the front desk. For a start, simply offering the ability to check in online gives your guests a choice—and where there’s choice, there’s personalization. For guests that choose it, the convenience of online check-in results in a more preferable experience. Secondly, self-check-in is managed via automated communications (emails or text messages) that are addressed to the guest by name and are specific to the guest’s reservation. (More on automated communications later.) These personalized communications help make the guest feel more like a person and less like a number as they are instantly recognized by the hotel, even before they arrive. In this way, self-check-in can offer a more personalized experience than checking in at the front desk where staff may still have to ask for the guest’s name or reservation number in order to identify the booking. A self-check-in experience should always be complemented by in-person staff to welcome arriving guests and to assist if needed.   Use reservation folios to make the in-stay experience extra special In addition to recording ancillary purchases (which can tell you a lot about a guest), reservation folios should also allow you to record additional notes that are pertinent to the guest’s stay and will help staff provide personalized service—such as special dietary requirements, guest requests and administrative remarks about the guest. Applicable comments can be saved automatically to the guest profile for future reference. Some can even be added as pop-up alerts for staff when the reservation is opened. Need to swap out those feather pillows for hypoallergenic ones because of a guest’s allergy? Not a problem. Simply add a housekeeping note to their reservation that will show up on the housekeeping report so your housekeeping team can ensure the guest’s room is feather-free upon arrival. Applying VIP color codes to reservations is useful for helping staff identify very important bookings at a glance—on the tape chart, on the reservation folio itself, on check-in/check-out reports, and on the housekeeping report.   Automate communications to ensure every guest feels valued When we talk about automated guest communications, we’re definitely not talking about generic mass mail outs. Customizable email templates allow you to create guest-specific communications that can be generated and triggered automatically using reservation data. Automating routine guest communications ensures every guest receives the right message at the right time. It also ensures every guest feels acknowledged and establishes an open line of communication between the guest and your property. That’s important for any relationship. At the minimum, customized email templates should be set up for booking confirmations, pre-arrival messaging (including check-in messaging if using contactless check-in), and post-stay feedback requests. Pre-stay communications are especially useful for gathering additional information about your guest that can be used to personalize their experience, from confirming their expected arrival time to offering relevant add-ons or upsells. Post-stay emails thanking guests for their stay are also important for building loyalty and gathering feedback that can be used to improve and personalize future stays. If your property uses CRM software and/or a guest messaging platform like Akia, Alice, Ivy, Kipsu, LoungeUp, Twilio, Whistle or Zenya, make sure it’s integrated with your PMS so that the right message is triggered at the right time for every guest, based on live reservation data.   Tailor rates and packages to special guests It’s important to offer different rate types to serve the different needs of your guests (and your property). Getting a good deal makes customers feel valued, so reward special guests with special rates. For example, you can create packages tailored to specific guest segments, set up and promote a password-protected discount rate for your Facebook followers, and create negotiated rates for corporate guests. A flexible PMS will also provide an easy way to apply discounts to individual bookings at your discretion for your favorite guests. The right price is a big part of personalized customer service. Use your guest database to determine who your guests are and then design offers that are relevant to them.   Make personalization seamless with guest-centric integrations Integrating your PMS with dedicated guest experience platforms—from CRM systems and guest messaging platforms to smart room technology and reputation management solutions—can elevate the guest experience through data automation that results in seamless, effortless personalization. When your guest experience applications receive reservation information directly from your PMS—without relying on manual human input—the output (whether that’s sending an upsell offer, applying reward points to a reservation, charging a meal to a guest’s room, or delivering a mobile room key code) hits the mark every time. Sharing reservation data with your other systems through direct integration reduces the chance of human error and ensures every guest receives accurate, personalized service. Automated PMS are not only designed to simplify operations, but to help hoteliers provide excellent service that earns loyal guests—after all, that’s a sure-fire way to grow revenue. Packed with practical guest-centric features, modern PMS like WebRezPro empower you to personalize the guest experience every step of the way.

Cover image

How Hotels Can Prepare for a New Influx of Guests

by
Sandra Holland
1 week ago

Over the course of several months, airlines have felt a massive surge in travel while guests amp up for a summer of leisure. And while this may seem like an opportune time to acquire guests and drive revenue, it can also leave hotels feeling inundated with bookings and requests. Especially with the new wave of labour shortages. As summer nears and requests continue to grow we’ve put together key tips on how to navigate a new wave of guests. So you can experience smoother operations and a thriving guest experience.   How To Prepare Your Hotel For An Influx of Guests  Identify touchpoints that matter.  Your hotel is compromised of multiple key touchpoints that come together to create the full experience. In accommodating an influx of guests, it’s important to take a look at your journey and identify areas to enhance. These could be moments like check-in, the waiting room for a spa visit, or at the entrance of your restaurant. Each moment will be different for each hotel, however, understanding these touchpoints can help you anticipate opportunities to address and issues to resolve - all before the employee gets inundated with requests.  Educate and arm your team.  Your employees are present in virtually every aspect of the guest experience. Therefore it’s important to set expectations and educate employees on ways to improve the experience when there are more guests to tend to. This can be done by holding regular meetings and showcasing different ways to tackle cleanliness, check-in, requests and more. The idea here is to keep the team organized and equip employees with the knowledge to be proactive.  Automate redundant tasks.  Redundant tasks are essential for hotel operations, however, they undoubtedly take away from an employee's valuable time and resources.  Especially with more guests, it’s important that your team be readily available and focused on the guest experience without feeling overwhelmed. In this instance, automated technology should be a top consideration. For instance, a technology that schedules messages or provides actionable data to empower employees to do more with less. We see this in action, through a common hotel example; the check-in experience. Historically done at reception when a guest first arrives, check-in is one of the more pivotal moments in the guest experience. Providing a first impression, many hotels are pivoting to include automated or tech-focused ways of checking in. This reduces crowding in your lobby, a lineup at your reception and of course eliminates the need for employees to complete redundant tasks. Employees simply schedule an email a few days prior with a pre-populated link to input their information. Using tools to simplify redundant tasks allows employees to better the experience and alleviates operational burdens. Further, you can reduce staff at reception and amp up employees where it matters most.  Automate request management.  With more guests pouring in, manually managing requests can give rise to an onslaught of challenges. Not only is it prone to error, but can lead to long wait times, inundated employees, errors in service fulfillment, a less-than-personal experience, or never receiving the request at all.  However, with these challenges comes the opportunity to become more proactive. Using automated technology that enables ticket management, guest requests can seamlessly make their way to your staff no matter where they are on-site. In most instances, sophisticated ticket management software will provide a cross-department view of what’s in progress and what’s awaiting action - for complete transparency and efficiency.   Insight into a personal experience.  While an influx of guests can get overwhelming, that doesn’t mean the guest experience has to suffer. In fact, in order to maintain your hotel's reputation with a new wave of guests, the experience must be top of mind. In that, personalization is one of the key ways of driving a great experience. It promotes loyalty by showing your guests you care about their sentiments and preferences. In fact, in a study conducted by Accenture, “91% of consumers surveyed said they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them”’. Similarly, “83% of consumers are willing to share their data to create a more personalized experience.” As a tactic, personalization can create strong bonds. It could be as simple as remembering the guest's name or offering a service they’ve used in the past. However, you can also take it further by proactively asking for their preferences via a survey and leveraging things they’ve mentioned (number of pillows, water brand preference, room temperature, etc.) for future stays.  Enable effective communication.  Communication is everything when it comes to managing new guests - and that doesn’t just mean externally. Not only do guests need to have an effective way to communicate with employees, but employees need to understand what their team is doing and how to ask for help when needed.  In this case, opting for an omnichannel solution with internal messaging capabilities is key. Not only will it provide insight into guest communication preferences, but also allow you to tag and include other departments for visibility. More customers mean a greater chance of miscommunication, so adopting a solution that can provide greater transparency before bookings get out of control, can help you make the most out of a wave of guests.  Flexible Policies.  Although we’re navigating a space where strict requirements on COVID-19 are lessening, the virus is still prevalent and isolation is still required for those that are sick. Not to mention travel delays are currently on the rise and expected in the future. Offering flexible policies is a show of good faith in your guests. It exudes compassion for personal issues and instills trust. Although at times operationally, it may be challenging, offering flexible policies reinforces overall care for the guest and their experience.   Final Thoughts Preparing for an influx of guests can be intimidating at first. Especially if you’re experiencing labour shortages. However, pivoting to effectively master the experience while juggling a handful of new guests is impossible. By taking the aforementioned steps to map the guest journey, empower your team and communicate effectively, you can proactively manage the influx of guests to streamline operations and provide an unforgettable experience.

Cover image

The Journey from IT Manager to VP of IT with Virgin Hotels’ Jason Doebrich

by
Jordan Hollander
1 month ago

How far do you want to take your career in hotel IT? If you have aspirations to make the leap from on-property to a corporate or regional role, then you’ll be inspired by the career trajectory of Jason Doebrich, the VP of Technology at Virgin Hotels. We had the chance to talk with Jason about his experiences working at several top hotel companies, serving in both on-premise and corporate roles. Jason offers some great advice for anyone looking to further their career in hotel IT and shares exciting anecdotes about his challenges and learnings along the way. After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in Information Science, Jason started his career as an IT manager at Morgans Hotel Group in Miami Beach. He worked on-property first, then became the Regional IT Director overseeing the Shore Club, Mondrian, and Delano. Jason’s next career move took him to Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, where was the on-site Director of IT at the Mandarin Oriental Miami for several years before earning a promotion to a regional role, in which he oversaw IT for all the Mandarin Oriental properties in the US as the Corporate Regional Director of IT. In 2022 Jason joined Virgin Hotels as their Vice President of Information Technology. As Jason explains, IT is a challenging and fast-paced career. In the hospitality industry, technology is a complex vertical, which involves building partnerships with technology vendors and thinking creatively to solve problems. Although some non-tech folks might think so, technology cannot solve every problem in hotels, so IT professionals need to work hard to implement technology seamlessly while also using critical thinking skills to figure out whether the problem at hand can be solved with people or process improvements.

Cover image

Disney’s MagicBand: Breaking Down One of Hospitality's Greatest Innovations

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Looking for a glimpse into the future of technology in the hospitality space? At Walt Disney World, the MagicBand is not only a handy device that allows visitors to skip the line. It’s also a stunning example of an innovative product that enhances the guest experience, sheds light on guest behavior, and uses technology to foster a closer connection to the brand. In this article, we’ll explore the features and functionality of the MagicBand, explain how it came to life, and study the benefits of technology like the MagicBand so you can start brainstorming ways you might incorporate similar tech into your own hotel or hospitality business.  

Cover image

Net Zero Emissions: A Guide to Smart Buildings & Operations

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

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

Cover image

How Hotel Owners Can Benefit from Mobile Tech Tools

by
Nikolai Kronborg
1 month ago

Firstly, mobile services allow hotels to improve their operational efficiency. Mobile digitalization facilitates the automation of tasks that otherwise have to be performed manually by hotel staff. These can be eliminated by having guests do it themselves in advance (e.g. fill in the information, registration card, check-in and out, online payment, choose and allocate rooms, chat, book spa, dinner, or golf reservations, etc). Besides requiring fewer human resources from the hotel that could be spared or employed in other higher-value tasks, the best part of this self-administrated service is that by transferring the tasks to the guests, it further improves their experience and satisfaction. Mobile digitalization gives freedom for guests to find their own convenience.   Connect with guests on-the-go and extend the relationship beyond the duration of the stay Secondly, mobile services lead to a more customer-focused service and create a more personalized and on-premise accessible experience. For instance, more than 50% of American leisure travelers would use an app to add extras on-the-go during their hotel stays. Mobile services also help to maintain long-term relationships and two-way communication anytime during the guest’s journey and better manage loyalty programs.   Optimizes the value per guest and targets their specific needs In turn, this widens the opportunity to target guests’ specific needs, hence allowing hotels to focus their strategy on the optimization of each guest’s value. Mobile apps have an additional advantage, they work as direct channels to guests by integrating with customer support and feedback systems, as well as with broader online review platforms. Lastly, mobile apps can potentially capture late bookers. Over 70% of same-day hotel reservations are made on smartphones, thus, an optimized mobile experience can be the key to unlocking the value of late bookers,- and re-bookings.   What are guests really expecting from mobile hospitality? Guests want pre-arrival check-in and avoid reception queues. A study conducted by Ipsos and Aeroguest asked guests what characteristics they would value the most in their hotel experiences. We found out that Wi-fi and breakfast are essentials for every stay and in most cases could be deal-breakers. However, if we look into what mobile hospitably can add to the stay, then the best experience includes being able to check in earlier, check out later and cut these two steps shorter by avoiding queues and crowds in the reception, thus supporting a more convenient and contactless hotel stay. These are also the top two benefits that both business travelers and tech-savvy hotel guests are hoping their hotels will make available.   QUESTION: CHOOSE THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES OF MOBILE HOSPITALITY (the size of the picture is proportional to the utility level. Only 11 features are shown, total utility sums to 100%)   Guests are willing to pay to select their own room Having a room with a view and being able to select a specific room within the desired room type is also among the most valued features. This capability directly addresses another aspect that this study found guests to be unsatisfied with their hotel experiences. “When I book a room, I want to know what I am getting” This feature breaks the uncertainty factor and provides the choice and transparency needed when evaluating which hotel room to pick. Guests will know if the room meets their needs, where it is located, what view it has from the window, and if the requested extras have been acknowledged. This is another feature that mobile hospitality providers such as AeroGuest support, but not all hotels, web services, and apps give this opportunity to guests,- it is very difficult to build and has to be two-way integrated to multiple PMS across the world. An even more relevant aspect though, is that hotel guests are willing to pay to select their own room. 42% of hotel guests and almost 60% of business travelers would be likely or very likely to pay for choosing a specific room, and these would be willing to pay, on average, an extra 7% of the room price to choose their ideal room.   QUESTION: HOW LIKELY WOULD YOU BE TO PAY EXTRA FOR CHOOSING A SPECIFIC ROOM BEFORE ARRIVAL?   QUESTION: HOW MUCH WOULD YOU BE LIKELY TO PAY FOR CHOOSING YOU OWN ROOM?   In sum, mobile services not only yield operational efficiencies but also allow to upsell of some completely new services such as room selection and adding extras before and during the stay and to better capture re-booking.  

Cover image

How to Make Sense of the Hotel Tech Tool Jumble

by
Julia Rey
2 months ago

It is an undeniable fact that in recent years there has been a great advance not only in the development of IT tools for hotels, but also in the hotel industry's awareness of the need for software to help optimise the business. In this context, let's remember the importance of implementing technology for the evolution of the Revenue Manager's role and the improvement of the hotel's results. Coordination between the technological tools and the revenue management team is fundamental to the success of the business. There is no global software that can manage all the details we need to control in a property, but rather each supplier has specialised in a specific task or group of tasks. This means that hotels work with many different systems, and these need to share information, creating a well-integrated ecosystem. In this tangle of IT tools, how can we decide which are the best options for my type of business? The Strategic Approach As we know, Revenue Management is a diverse discipline: it is not only about correct or dynamic pricing, but also about brand image, distribution strategy, demand shifting, forecasting, segmentation, quality and reputation, etc. And, as stated earlier, there is no unique solution on the market that can solve all aspects. So the first step in deciding which tools to use is to think strategically and set the objectives we want to achieve. Based on these objectives, you should determine your priorities and from there look for the optimal combination of software, seeking efficiency not only in costs but also in operations. You need to build your technology stack to suit your market environment, the size of your business, your marketing tactics, your competitors and the distribution channels you want to work with.  In short: decide what are the most accurate performance indicators for your business, then define your objectives for each of them and develop a plan on how to get the results you want.   The Optimal Tech Stack  Automation will be an essential factor in achieving excellence in Revenue Management processes, aimed at optimising business results. The development of Big Data and artificial intelligence technology allows access to multiple data sources and their efficient processing. This provides a very deep reading of the context in which the business is located.  Working with tools that provide an advanced, dynamic and intuitive visualisation of the information is key to be able to combine the tactical work and the strategic approach of revenue management.  Once you have established your goals, you need to know what tools are available in the market that will allow you to better and more effectively achieve them. From our perspective, there are some basic tools that we consider essential to any hotel business, starting with the Property Management System (PMS) as the main tool for daily operations and performance data collection. From there you will need some tools to make your product available to the final customer, such as the Booking Engine, that allows the guest to book a room on your own website, and the Channel Manager, that helps you distribute your product in the different sales channels. Icing the basic ecosystem cake of the basic ecosystem, you will need a Revenue Management System that helps analysing internal and external data for an optimal decision making in your pricing and distribution.  In addition to this basic stack, there are countless tools that can deliver high returns in terms of reduced operational workload and improved decision making. These include Rate Shopper, Online Reputation Manager or Benchmarking tools, and others that will help you to optimise your total revenue, such as upselling and cross selling solutions, or to improve your guest experience, such as chatbots, communication apps, and many others. Deciding which tools you need and choosing the right provider in each case will certainly depend on your priorities and objectives. But also, you should not overlook the importance of system integrations: one of the key challenges for hotels to benefit from proper RMS software is the need to provide their transactional data to the RMS provider. This is normally done by integrating the hotel PMS with the vendor RMS and providing the reservations data on a daily basis, so you need to make sure the integration is guaranteed between the software you are choosing.