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Hotel IT & Security Software Articles

Payment Processing: Here's What You Need to Know in Plain English

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

You might be thinking that it’s not the most exciting topic in the world, but payment processing is an important factor in your hotel’s overall financial health, especially as more guests pay with credit cards. Whether you’re setting up a payment processor for the first time, considering switching to a different system, or just taking stock of your hotel’s operations, we’ll show you how to make payment processing as easy and affordable as possible. Imagine cutting your costs just by switching to a new payment system! In this article, we’ll define what exactly payment processing is, explore the vendor landscape, and offer some advice for choosing the right systems for your hotel.   What is Payment Processing? Back in the days when cash was king, payment processing was as simple as opening the cash drawer and handing back change. These days, especially in hotels, credit cards have surpassed cash as the preferred method of payment, which brings new challenges and complexity.  For a hotel, receiving money from a credit card transaction isn’t as straightforward as receiving cash, and it’s also more expensive. When a guest swipes their credit card at the front desk or uses your online booking engine, the bank or association that issued their card must issue credit to cover the purchase. This credit comes with a set of fees, called interchange. Hotels cannot access the funds straight away; a payment processor, like a middleman, actually receives the money, then charges the hotel a markup when the funds are paid out. Because the fees vary depending on the type of card and the bank that issued it, payment processors charge hotels flat fees ($0.15 per transaction, for example), percentage fees, or a combination of both. To make sure you’re paying a reasonable amount for credit card processing, it’s important to understand the fee structure.    Merchant Account vs. Payment Gateway We hear a lot of confusion about the various types of systems that hotels can use to process payments. Depending on their financial services needs, businesses can choose between comprehensive payment solutions, standalone merchant accounts, and third-party payment gateways to handle credit card payments. Wondering what the differences are?  In short, a simple payment gateway allows your hotel to charge credit cards. It’s the link between the hotel and the credit card issuers. When a guest books a room online, for example, they’ll enter their credit number, which allows the payment gateway to communicate with their bank, and upon approval or denial of the transaction, the payment gateway will circle back to finish the transaction. When the transaction is complete, the funds need to go somewhere. Some businesses opt for immediate deposit into a bank account, while other businesses use a merchant account. While a merchant account is not a bank account, it acts as a sort of “holding area” for funds so that they can be easily refunded and so that balances can be deposited into a bank account in bulk on a regular schedule. For hotels, merchant accounts can make a lot of sense, because they allow for easy refunds if a guest cancels, and they can orchestrate bank transfers on a regular cadence to make things easy for your accounting team. If using a separate payment gateway and merchant account sounds taxing (pun intended), there’s a third option: an all-in-one payment solution that offers both a payment gateway and merchant account.   A Brief Overview of Online Payment Processors If your hotel has a website that accepts online reservations, then you’ll need an online payment processor to allow your hotel to collect funds online. Payment gateways, also known as payment service providers, make charging cards a breeze, but they aren’t free. You have to spend money to make money, right? Fees vary by system; for example, Stripe charges 2.9% plus $0.30 on each transaction, no matter what kind of card is being charged. Other systems, like PayPal, for example, charge an increased fee for American Express cards and international cards. Just like the property management system landscape, you have a plethora of payment processors to choose from. Each one has their own pros and cons, so we recommend doing some research instead of opting for one just because it’s popular. Here are some of the top online payment processors: Authorize.Net Stripe PayPal Braintree Amazon Pay Square BlueSnap WePay As with any type of sensitive data, hotels must be careful to keep their financial information secure and compliant with PCI and PSD2 regulations. Some payment processors offer resources to help you stay compliant, and the systems constantly adapt to changes in financial technology, like accepting digital wallet payments, for example. When choosing a vendor, you might be tempted to just go with the cheapest option. However, we recommend researching a few more factors so you can choose a system that’s truly right for your business. Don’t forget to look into these criteria: Monthly fees and transaction fees Countries and currencies supported Card types accepted On-form payments or redirects to another site to complete payment Mobile payments PSD2 compliant With a little research, you can find a payment service provider that’s right for your hotel.   Payment Processing for the Hotel Industry Do you know exactly how much you’re paying for each credit card transaction? If you don’t have access to a variety of processors, you could be paying exorbitant and unnecessary processing fees. Don’t want to pay fees that you don’t need to pay? If you use a popular PMS, such as Oracle OPERA, then you likely already have access to several processors. If you don’t use a common PMS yet, then you may want to consider switching to avoid getting gauged by payment vendors who know you have no other options. Using a payment processor that’s integrated with a PMS can streamline many operational tasks. For example, Oracle OPERA’s integrated payment solution makes it easy to run pre-authorizations (for incidentals, for example), release authorizations, complete purchases, issue refunds or reversals, void transactions, and more. Imagine if your front desk team needed to switch to a different system every time they placed an authorization on a card during check in; a PMS with payment processing integrations like Oracle OPERA makes your front desk more efficient. Integrated payment processors aren’t just beneficial to the front-of-house. Back office tasks like issuing invoices, paying vendors, and collecting membership fees can be handled more easily when all of your systems communicate easily. And when the payment processor can communicate with your PMS, you can pass details like check-in date and folio number through with the transaction, so guests and banks have full clarify as to what the charge was for.   Key Takeaways for Choosing a Payment Processor Even though selecting a payment service provider may not seem like a major technology, remember that you will pay more in processing fees than for any other technology. In this case, doing your homework can really pay off. Compare vendors to find not only the best price, but also the best value, because a system that costs slightly more but is completely PSD2 compliant could save you a lot of headache down the road - not to mention reducing the risk of a security breach. In addition, using a popular PMS is critical to ensuring you have access the right integrations. A widely used system like Oracle OPERA has connections with a variety of payment processors so you can always take advantage of the best rates. Payment processors might not be the most exciting part of hotel operations, but saving thousands of dollars by switching to a better system certainly is.  

Protel Deep Dive: This Is The Promise Of An Open Platform For Your Hotel

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Until very recently, hoteliers looking for an open platform for managing their properties didn’t have many options to choose from. It was basically “pick your poison,” with hotels locked into a single vendor ecosystem that prioritized status quo over fresh functionality. Thankfully, hospitality technology companies are waking up to the power of the platform, resulting in a wave of hospitality marketplaces that integrate a hotel’s siloed technologies into a more functional tech stack. These integrators allow hoteliers to build a bespoke bundle of tech tools that rely on the same real-time data, thus empowering better outcomes across revenue, guest experience, and loyalty marketing. One of the companies pioneering an open approach to property management is protel. Its flagship property management system was recently enhanced with protel I/O, a marketplace for third-party vendors to offer their services directly to hotels. By allowing multiple integrations to connect directly via its vendor-neutral open infrastructure, protel enables hotels to store and use data from across touchpoints in real time, anywhere they need to. That way, hotels can take control of their technology and build a tech stack that aligns with their philosophies around operating hotels, serving guests, and making money. With over 14,000 hotel customers in 90 countries, protel saw firsthand how draining data silos can be. Hotels face an uphill battle to simply share data among each of their tools, further entrenching data silos and limiting the upside of their hotel technology. By eliminating those silos, the company knew just how powerful a platform could be that aggregates property data into a secure, open platform. Here’s what the promise of the protel platform looks like for hoteliers worldwide.  Read reviews of protel PMS   What Protel Does: Property Management with Open APIs The core of the protel promise to “put your hotel at the heart of the digital economy.” But what exactly does this mean? It means that the technology enables easy connections between your PMS data and third-party technology so that you can leverage guest data in real-time, without delay.    The complete protel platform   To achieve this, protel has opened up its platform with APIs that hotels and vendors can use to connect into this data. That’s the promise of an open platform, and while protel isn’t the only way to integrate data across multiple hotel tech vendors, it’s one of the few that is already offering the service to thousands of customers around the world and is the only legacy enterprise PMS vendor offering these capabilities. Here’s how it works. Since your property management system sits at the center of your operation, it is the source of plenty of data that could be used to make your other tech tools more effective. For instance, interactions between staff and guests can shape your subsequent post-stay outreach, with communications seamlessly tailored based on each guest’s actual interactions. Rather than having to build multiple direct connections, or manually transfer data across systems, you can let the technology aggregate data into a single layer across multiple integrations. That way, the data stays accurate and up-to-date, allowing you to focus on the high-impact work, such as nurturing guests relationships, building creative campaigns, and strategizing for the future.   Who Protel Is For: Properties Of All Sizes That Want To Customize Protel’s sweet spot is any property that has a desire to customize how their property management system interacts across touchpoints. The majority of HTR reviews come from boutique hotels, as well as branded hotels in city centres and airports. While this isn’t the complete picture of protel’s client base, it does point to the underlying appeal across segments and hotel types. Given the platform’s focus on customizability, single properties with fewer rooms can still leverage the power of the core PMS functionality while properties with more complex integration needs can take advantage of the platform’s full flexibility. There’s also a standalone module for groups, called CENTRAL, which extends functionality to work across a multi-property portfolio.    Read more reviews of protel PMS   Five Essential Features of the Protel Platform The protel platform is built around connectivity, extensibility, and customizability. Protel believes hotels should be able to connect to whichever services they choose, with a future-proof, flexible solution that can be customized to multiple users, multiple views, and multiple properties. These core beliefs appear in the following five essential features: Open APIs: Build for today and future-proof for tomorrow The flagship is the protel PMS, which was the original product when the company was founded 25 years ago. The industry-leading benefit of the protel PMS is its open ethos. Protel provides an open API that interfaces with other hotel technology, so that hotels can connect their existing tools to the same set of property-level data. With these APIs, hotels can develop any custom solution they want, moving data across revenue management systems.  This data is also seamlessly shared across the Protel Platform, so that relevant PMS data translates error-free into other protel products, such as the GENIUS reporting module. Developers can also build their own solutions layer to protel, using relevant PMS data within existing apps. Protell offers a complete Developer Toolkit, with a sandbox environment for testing new code and reusing existing implementations. Beyond integrations, the PMS has a few other unique features. First, it’s available as either as a cloud-based or a hosted, on-premise solution. This option is welcome news to hotels that struggle with reliable internet connectivity and want to have the technology hosted on-site to improve up time.  Smart Lists: Customize your views with the most relevant information Customizability is at the heart of the protel PMS, thanks to Smart Lists.  this feature allows hotels to customize the order in which specific operational information should be displayed on a given screen and/or an individual user.  Selective information can be used to order each screen by putting the most relevant information front and center, such as arrivals, departures, VIP arrivals, birthday information, and manager overview. Smart Lists are incorporated into each element of the software, so hotels can customize screens across both desktops and the mobile experience. Marketplace: “1-Click Connect” to out-of-the-box solutions Marketplaces have become a trending feature within the fragmented hospitality technology landscape The protel Marketplace simplifies connectivity for hotels, facilitating reliable integrations between hotel technology vendors. The idea is that hotels can smash data silos and realize transformational gains by mixing and matching cutting-edge technologies in whichever combination they choose. All tools in the marketplace are verified and ready to receive a hotel’s complete live data-stream, which can then be used in the third-party app to react to real-time events across a property (or portfolio) footprint.  Protel also promises that many solutions are ready out of the box, requiring only a single click to connect a vendor to a hotel’s PMS data. And, with HotelTechReport review scores embedded in-line, hoteliers can make informed decisions even more quickly. Staff collaboration: Mobile tools for front office, housekeeping, and maintenance The protel PMS extends beyond basic property management functionality with its staff collaboration tools. As a communication layer between the front office, housekeeping, and maintenance, these tools keep everyone up-to-date and on the same page. Without dueling narratives, there’s fewer misunderstandings or communications lapses. These modules are all mobile, so that staff can stay current no matter where they are on the property. By eliminating paper, housekeeping staff and maintenance teams can be more accurate and respond in real-time to shifting priorities. For instance, a maintenance tech could quickly re-prioritize after receiving a picture of a broken faucet uploaded by a housekeeping colleague. VOYAGER: Branded app streamlines guest communications and upsells These staff collaboration tools become even more powerful for hotels that choose protel’s branded app option, VOYAGER. The app’s functionality folds easily into the existing property management flow, which facilitates better communication with guests and creates added revenue opportunities for upsells and ancillaries. The app also gives guests the convenience and speed they’ve come to expect in today’s mobile-first world. Guests can do things like view and edit profiles, add preferences, make special requests, access mobile room keys, check in/out, order room service, and interact with any content uploaded by the hotel.  Of course, protel’s open APIs extend to the app development kit as well, so hotels can fold in whichever functionality they need. With complete customization control, VOYAGER gives hotels the power of a branded app without the upfront cost, development headaches, or ongoing maintenance overhead.   Protel Pros and Cons According to its Customers Protel has 29 verified customer reviews, which offer helpful feedback straight from those who have direct experience with the product. Customers find protel to be a reliable product that offers flexibility to work with up-and-coming technologies that may not yet be widely integrated. One reviewer found the interface to be too complicated at first, with an overwhelming number of features. This is pretty natural for PMS systems with robust feature sets built for the larger hotels and enterprise clients.  Out-of-the-box reporting could also be improved, said another user. Here are some highlighted pros and cons from verified reviews of protel. Pros: “Reliable, well thought-out” with an “interface to the up-and-coming products on the market” which allows us “ to work with exciting smaller technologies too.” “User-friendly,” with an “easy interface to book rooms and email marketing/customer communications” and “well-designed reports.”  “I LOVE the pivot it has changed my way of reporting.” “Very quick response from the consultants -- great support.” Cons:  “Reporting metrics on Messenger mails...would be great to see open rate, button clicks, bounce rate, etc drilled down into market segment.” “Some user interfaces are counterintuitive” and “when we ask a question of a core feature that needs to be sent to the head office, we wait a long time for a reply.” “System could be made a little less complicated” as “it feels like there is a lot of functions that is not really necessary and that we don’t use... at first glance, it looks overwhelming until you get the hang of it.” “Standard reporting needs to be improved: very basic and not a lot of options without protel support.”   Conclusion:  Should You Consider Protel? Protel certainly has a bold vision for what the ideal hospitality technology ecosystem looks like. If you share those ideals, then you should definitely consider protel. The costs of integrating separate tech tools can be insurmountable burdens for the average operator. There’s tremendous value in freeing up development resources from having to figure out how to make everything play nice together!  Coupled with support from protel’s consultants, those integrations can empower your hotel to use technology in ways it never has before, such as seamlessly and accurately sharing guest data across marketing, operations, and revenue platforms. As verified reviewers have said, protel may have some initial complexity -- especially for those looking to leverage the open platform aspect -- but provides powerful tools for those that want to take control of their technology. As the critical interface to integrating up-and-coming technology, you can build a system that works for them (rather than the other way around) And, as many reviewers have shared, supportive protel consultants have enabled them to fully leverage the potential of the platform in their own hotels. Protel is a reminder that it’s no longer sufficient to live within a single vendor ecosystem. Hotels that limit themselves to the development roadmap of a single vendor risk losing out to hotels that define and implement a collaborative tech stack. The right combination of tools, using the same data and working together, streamline operations, enhance the guest experience, and boost profitability. Now that's a lofty goal worth fighting for!  

SiteMinder’s Hotel App Store: 9 Tools You Need to Check Out

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

At ITB Berlin, one of our top five trends was the rise of hotel app marketplaces. Forward-thinking providers like SiteMinder are creating marketplaces that allow properties to add new integrations and tools to grow their business. These apps present a powerful way to utilize the full potential of your existing technology. Most, if not all, hotel technology is developed to achieve a specific task. App marketplaces exploit an opportunity for horizontal integration, capturing a new level of functionality by syncing data from multiple sources. SiteMinder's Hotel App Store powers everything from revenue management and upselling to guest messaging and review management to room controls, airport transfers, and keyless entry. Research, vet, and download more than 100 applications that let your core technology share data. The marketplace includes a selection of tools that integrate with more than 80 different property management systems, as well as SiteMinder’s channel manager. Growth equity firm TCV believes that software companies can create two-sided marketplaces that connect their users to new channels of customers, suppliers, and employees. TCV is a key investor backing SiteMinder’s Hotel App Store ambitions; their launch fulfills this vision of “breaking down the industry’s notorious integration barriers, connecting hotel systems and applications through smart and simple connectivity.” In practice: adding an app from Siteminder’s app store syncs the critical tech systems used by your operations and communications, revenue management, reputation management, and CRM systems, giving you a competitive advantage. Every hotel app must integrate two pieces of technology to help hotel owners:  Make more money per booking Improve guest reviews Better connect with guests Grow direct bookings Add these integrations to make your PMS work smarter with your CRM, guest messaging tool, and revenue management system in seconds.   Customer Relationship Management Apps Your hotel's CRM allows teams to track, manage and grow client relationships throughout the customer lifecycle, collecting and collating information to build a relationship without needing to have been personally involved each step of the way. Integrate your CRM with your PMS to leverage data points such as recency, frequency, add monetary value in your guest segmentation, thereby running smarter, more targeted promotions. Without introducing data from your PMS into your CRM, personalized emails, text messaging, or other communication at scale is nearly impossible. Revinate Marketing Revinate allows hotel owners to run targeted, customized campaigns with messaging delivered at the right moments throughout the customer journey, leading to increased guest engagement and more direct bookings. Revinate uses survey data for powerful guest segmentation: the Database Insights tool delivers real-time insights into guest data so teams can make better marketing campaigns and improve the on-property experience. Revinate has a reputation for excellence, with 94% of customers giving the tool top marks. Compared with other CRM integrations, Revinate gets outstanding reviews for their customer service and ease of implementation. “The data provided by Revinate Marketing has truly changed the way we operate, allowing us as a company to make more informed decisions across our portfolio. From the segmentation to the reporting, the user interface is easy and intuitive,” reports one director at a boutique hotel. Cendyn Guestfolio, the Cendyn CRM platform, combines guest data and marketing automation to build a single, holistic view of each guest. By offering easy access to a guest’s history, Guestfolio empowers your staff to recognize loyal guests at check-in with a special thank you. Foster 1:1 communication with guests at every stage: pre-arrival, on-property, post-stay and re-engagement nurture campaigns foster brand loyalty, leading to repeat guests and an increase in direct bookings. A key benefit of working with Cendyn is that the platform integrates offerings in revenue, sales, and marketing to bring your teams closer together. Guestfolio is part of Cendyn’s Hospitality Cloud. Hospitality Cloud aligns marketing, sales, and revenue teams to offer optimal pricing, guest-first marketing, and better communication while saving time and stress. For-Sight For-Sight pulls data from your hotel’s PMS to give you strategies and insights to improve the guest experience, increase revenue and upsell, and make more informed decisions. Ease-of-use and a simple interface makes For-Sight one of the top-rated CRM tools. As one reviewer notes, “For-Sight makes a complex task simple and intuitive. Best-in-class email and automation alongside powerful segmentation and querying tools that our team finds easy to operate backed by attentive and responsive support when we need it.”    Guest Messaging Apps Guest messaging platforms that integrate with your PMS via SiteMinder’s App Store offer a way to improve communication among teams on-site, automatically answer frequently asked questions, and increase operational efficiency while meeting guest satisfaction. These three systems offer a way forward to happier guests and more efficient staff. Bookboost The Bookboost guest messaging platform increases guest engagement and revenue with its proprietary Omnichannel Website Chat and Proactive Direct Messaging tools. Bookboost is our top-ranked guest messaging tool, achieving perfect scores for return-on-investment, ease of implementation, and customer support. Bookboost messages have a 99% open rate and an astoundingly high 28% click-through rate. “With Bookboost, we have seen a great improvement in guest satisfaction. Bookboost has helped us to deduct 50% repetitive phone calls while improving the score of guest review by over 11% in only two months! It's also a very good tool to upsell through sending SMS. We have used it to successfully upsell parking spaces by 87.5% and increase 10% of late check-out,” reports one operations manager. Zingle Zingle uses AI to drive operational efficiency, automating intelligent communication between teams and with guests. “Zings” are automated workflows that can be set up based on a specific trigger. The trigger leads to automatic action. For instance, Zingle can read booking details from your PMS to schedule a personalized message to guests attending a wedding, telling them where on the property to gather for festivities. Or, if a guest sends a message that includes the word “broken,” Zingle can recognize the need for a plumber or maintenance staff member.  helping them increase operational efficiency, improve guest service and boost RevPAR.  HelloShift HelloShift allows your team to connect with guests through SMS, WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, email, and more. Unlike Bookboost, HelloShift also has a team chat function to help your on-site staff coordinate. HelloShift is a cost-effective option great for properties working with a limited budget or with limited service. The platform costs less than $3/room/month and comes with a free 30-day trial. One general manager reports, “It was very easy to migrate into, and the on-boarding experience was simple as well. Took less than a day to get everything up and running, and staff were able to communicate back and forth with very little training.”   Revenue Management Apps An RMS allows hotels to sell the right product to the right customer, solving for variables like price, channel, and timing to maximize profitability. A strong, two-way integration between your RMS and your property management system gives your revenue manager historical information on rates and revenue. Analyze the data and get an accurate matrix of pricing recommendations for each segment and room type. As a result, your property gains the ability to optimize pricing and capture more revenue. These revenue management apps are not to be missed. Pace Pace’s revenue forecasting gives you booking curves for each night, room-category, and segment, offering advance notice in case you need to adjust your pricing in real-time. Immediately. Hoteliers love Pace’s customer support and implementation, giving the platform high marks for its responsiveness. In comparison with RevControl, Pace offers price sensitivity modeling and inventory management to help your teams sync and avoid overbookings. It can also forecast demand 365 days in advance, with real-time price optimization to help you hone your pricing model and squeeze the most revenue out of your available inventory. “PACE also has highly qualified revenue management experts who provides great advice on how to maximise the property's revenue. As a GM of a 63-room hotel, I can now focus more on strategy.” writes one reviewer.  RevControl RevControl forecasts revenue in one dashboard that clearly predict what demand will be, empowering hoteliers to turn insight into action immediately. Sell your rooms the right rate at the right time with RevControl’s dynamic pricing, revenue management automations, and multi-property management features. This platform also offers extended stay functionality, something RevControl competitors don’t include. “I advise hoteliers who want full control over their revenue, room rates, and RevPar to use RevControl for their hotel. This cloud-based system provides the right information by means of accurately collected data to always calculate the right prices for your hotel rooms,” writes one reviewer.  Lybra Tech Lybra Tech has integrated machine learning into their hotel revenue management tool. Machine learning makes it possible for Lybra to analyze and integrate learnings from big data into their insights. For hotel owners seeking a competitive advantage, AI and machine learning can provide faster data analysis and better calls-to-action to maximize revenue potential. This is a fast-growing entrant to the revenue management market, and one vendor that promises to push boundaries to uncover market opportunities.    Check out SiteMinder’s app store to explore integrations and download some of these great options. 

Should You Automate Hotel Property Management Workflows Using Zapier?

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

Bringing new technology into a hotel is supposed to make day-to-day operations easier and more efficient, but that’s not always the case. Too often, hoteliers find that complex software is difficult to use or that various tools do not communicate with each other. To the busy hotelier who doesn’t want to spend hours on the phone with tech support, a technology solution with a focus on automation (and integration) can be a true asset to a hotel’s operation and enhance guest experience. With automation in place, employees can spend less time completing hotel checklists and more time delivering excellent service.   What is automation? In the simplest terms, automation allows you to “teach” a process to a computer program so that the program can repeat the process on an ongoing basis without the need for human assistance. Automation is all around you - from the self-service checkout machines at the supermarket to the notifications you receive on your smartphone - and it’s now becoming more common in business operations. Automation isn’t a new concept, but it is certainly gaining traction in recent years as more and more technology companies offer automation solutions that are affordable and easy to use. In fact, according to Deloitte, 78% of survey respondents plan to invest more in automation over the next three years, and employees are onboard too - only 17% of respondents experienced employee resistance to the new systems.    How does automation apply to hotels? Automation is quickly becoming one of the top tech and hospitality trends because it can enhance operational efficiency and save time for employees, which in turn can boost revenues and increase guest satisfaction. Think about a front desk agent’s daily tasks: checklists to complete, reports to run, and problems to solve. With automation, a computer program could handle some of those routine checklists and reports, freeing up more time for the front desk agent to focus on delighting guests. It’s also possible to automate other aspects of hotel operations. Processes like managing your team, setting rates, room assignments, upselling premium room categories, and scheduling staff can all be automated, which would allow employees in those departments to devote time and energy to other tasks. In-app automation is par for the course; however, the best run hotels are laser focused on cross-app automation. As an example, your housekeeping software should automatically reconfigure rooms in your PMS when a VIP gets upgraded.  Similarly, your upselling software needs to know real time availability to automate upgrades. Many automation services now offer APIs for hotels, so it’s easier to get started than you might expect.   How do I start to automate my hotel’s processes? Curious to see how automation can benefit your hotel? The first step is to find the right technology solution. Zapier is one of the world’s top automation service providers, offering a huge marketplace of apps and integrations with programs like Gmail, Microsoft Excel, Salesforce, and more. Zapier has recently partnered with hotel property management systems, so now Zapier’s suite of tools is easily accessible to hotels. Zapier is quite simple to set up, but since the system is used by a variety of industries, there aren’t many apps in Zapier’s marketplace that cater specifically to hotels and the functionality that’s offered is quite rudimentary for the time being. In addition to Zapier, several other companies offer integration services with a hospitality focus that allow your hotel to properly automate across applications and maximize your investments. Connectors like Impala and hapi.io work to bridge the gap between individual software and apps that a hotel might use, and PMS marketplaces like protel, Mews and Hotelogix also feature a breadth of services with automation capability.   What can a PMS marketplace offer my hotel? A PMS marketplace is a fantastic way for hoteliers to begin their automation journey. With all the standard PMS features to run your hotel property, a PMS marketplace also offers add-on applications that bring incremental value. Examples of these add-ons include rate intelligence tools, email marketing, hotel CRM software, and payment processors.   protel clients benefit from instant connections with top providers via the protel app store   Instead of working with a hotel CRM that doesn’t communicate with your PMS, for instance, thus requiring an employee to copy and paste email addresses into the email tool, it’s much more efficient to use a PMS marketplace with apps that communicate seamlessly.  Your hotel’s CRM not only needs to pull massive amounts of high quality data from your PMS to properly segment clientele, but it also must feed data back into your PMS to deliver operational guest intelligence for your on property staff. One such PMS marketplace can be found with protel. protel recently announced three great additions to their PMS marketplace: Atomize, OTA Insight, and Oaky, which hoteliers can access through their intuitive, 1-click-connect platform.  When leveraged together with inter-app automation - these three apps can save time and money at any hotel. OTA Insight offers business and rate intelligence, so revenue managers don’t need to spend time combing competitors' websites in search of pricing intelligence. Atomize sheds light on the hotel’s own historical rate and occupancy trends, helping to automate a lot of the leg work and decision making that revenue managers must make daily which frees them up for more strategic tasks. Oaky’s app delivers upsell options to guests during the booking process and pre-stay experience, which can take some work off the front desk team’s plate while increasing total RevPAR. Since these three apps are all housed in protel’s PMS marketplace, they share data and work seamlessly with the PMS itself. The setup process is effortless for protel users; only one click is needed to activate each additional system from the PMS marketplace.  Having these kinds of systems seamlessly connect unlocks power that fragmented systems just can’t. When your PMS is tracking total revenue per available room (tRevPAR) including upsell revenue, your revenue management system can then price rooms based on total expected revenue rather than just rooms revenue. This can help to both acquire new guests and increase profitability. It’s time to hang up with tech support for good and start reaping the benefits that automation can bring to your hotel: incremental revenue and increased guest satisfaction. Hotels can most easily realize these benefits by adopting a hotel-specific platform like protel. Automation services like Zapier offer a wide variety of services, but without certain functionality designed for hotels, like upselling options and rate intelligence, these more generic systems fall short. With a system designed especially for hotels, properties can use technology to increase guest satisfaction and profitability.

Former Accor CIO: Hapi is the platform I was looking for

by
Hotel Tech Report
7 months ago

It’s no secret that hotel technology (and technology in general) changes quickly.  Computing power generally doubles every two years as a result of increases in the number of transistors a microchip can contain - this is what is referred to in the technology world as Moore’s Law.  As processing power increases, innovations that were previously unthinkable quickly become mainstream. This trend impacts hotel tech and our personal tech usage just the same.  3G wireless enabled the smartphone era and without it the iPhone would have never been possible.  4G and LTE enabled us to seamlessly stream content to our mobile devices without WiFi in the same way that battery advancements have helped our devices run more powerful applications.  Snapchat, for example, quite literally couldn’t have existed 10 years ago. 5G will put even LTE to shame. A 5G-enabled smartphone can download the content of an entire DVD (~5GB) in as little as four seconds.  5G will enable services and technologies that are unimaginable to present day consumers. "Stone Age. Bronze Age. Iron Age. We define entire epics of humanity by the technology they use." Reid Hastings, Netflix CEO Given the speed of technological change, it’s important for hoteliers to be on the cutting edge.  Being on the cutting edge doesn’t necessarily mean always being the first to try that shiny new guest experience startup.  To be on the cutting edge, hotels need a foundational infrastructure to adapt quickly as new trends develop. Each individual technology has the power to be transformative but what matters most is setting up your underlying hotel business to quickly disrupt itself before someone else does. "After many years working in technology as a hotelier, I believe that what matters most is a proper open architecture to remain relevant and agile." Laurent Idrac, former Accor CIO Nobody knows this better than Laurent Idrac, the former Accor CIO who was at the helm when the company invested $250M into digital transformation initiatives. Laurent believes that in order to succeed in hospitality, owners and operators need to embrace two simple principles: (1) Stay connected to every facet of your operation (2) Make sure that you can quickly adapt to new trends as they arise Corporate hoteliers often lose their connection to on property operations and even managers can get removed from how their employees live and work on a day-to-day basis.  During his time as CIO at Accor, Laurent made it a priority to work on property for at least 1-week per year shadowing every role within his hotels. This helped him stay in touch with what was happening on the ground and then develop a technology strategy to solve real world business problems that his team was experiencing. During his tenure as Accor's CIO, Laurent became frustrated with the lack of interoperability between systems.  He’d want to try a new technology platform only to learn that it didn’t properly integrate with the core hospitality ecosystem.  This integration problem was such a huge pain point for Laurent as a CIO that when he heard about a company successfully solving the problem - he knew he had to be a part of their journey. "Hapi is the platform I was looking for when I was a hotelier. It allows hoteliers to innovate faster and improve security and data compliance (GDPR, etc.) by centralizing the flows of hospitality data needed to deliver great guest experience.  Rather than following a pattern of point to point integrations, hotel companies can integrate their systems to the Hapi cloud and connect their internal or partner systems to a normalized stream of data, be it reservations, profiles or more." Laurent Idrac, former Accor CIO Laurent left the comfort of his successful c-suite career to join rocketship integrations startup Hapi founded by Luis Segredo and Nikolai Balba. Segredo was previously the founder of Mtech, the creator of HotSOS that was acquired by Newmarket and is now owned by Amadeus.  Balba had similarly founded Libra on Demand which he sold to Newmarket and Libra is now part of Amadeus sales and catering. The combination of these three dynamic leaders has formed the hotel tech dream team.   Laurent has lead technology at one of the largest hotel companies in the world and needless to say there are few people better equipped to solve this problem.  Hapi is poised to change the way hoteliers use and adopt technology. The team has made great strides since Laurent joined on board so we were fortunate to catch him on a boat cruise outside Hapi’s Miami headquarters where we discussed everything from CIO war stories to his vision for the future of the industry.   Tell us about your hospitality career before joining Hapi. I have held many positions during my tenure at Accor in France and in the US: operations, marketing, finance, reservations, F&B, and IT. Even as Group CIO of Accor, I continued to spend time in hotels.  For instance, in July 2017, I spent a full week at the Ibis Paris Bercy Village going through different shifts each day in the restaurant, front desk, engineering, and finally in housekeeping. It is very important to remain connected to the business you are serving. In 1983, I started as an intern in a restaurant during my college years and held many positions in an Argentinian Steakhouse. Once I graduated, I worked as a controller for almost 5 years. I managed reservation call centers worldwide, worked on the new Accor Central Reservation System implementation and finally spent many years in IT in the US and in France. My last position was Accor Group CIO from 2012 to early 2018, and we ran a major digital transformation (~$250M) that transformed the entire company. It’s hard to dislike anything in this industry, but hotels and restaurants are historically very hierarchical organizations with close to military standard operating processes. This does not favor employee initiative to deliver the best guest experience on the spot. Luckily, this is changing. On the technology front, the employees have been neglected: poorly designed applications, too many applications to deal with… To me, the most rewarding part of working in hotels is interacting with customers, ensuring their satisfaction, and anticipating their needs. Sharing this passion with colleagues is even more satisfying.   What was one technology that you couldn't live without in your former role in hospitality? PMS, Fax machine, 56k modem, Palm Pilot, Blackberry, Email, Chat, iPhone, cloud… It’s changing every few years. And every time, it’s impressive how we can become dependent so quickly on a specific tool or device. After many years working in technology as a hotelier, I believe that what matters most is a proper open architecture to remain relevant and agile.   When did you first become interested in hotel tech? Anything that can simplify work and improve quality interests me, and technology is the most obvious place to look at for productivity improvement. I have always been interested in technology. Before joining the hospitality industry, I interned at a computer dealer and enjoyed it a great deal. It was the early age of the IBM PC, Apple 2c & Lisa (Mac’s older sister). During my time in the Army, I was also involved in computer programming. Once I joined the hospitality industry, I had already contracted the technology “virus”.   As a hotelier what was your biggest frustration with technology vendors? Too many vendors have no real knowledge of the hospitality business. Some are great speakers but poor listeners. Some vendors should spend more time reading about our industry to make sure they are relevant. I recommend any vendor to be involved in HTNG and participate in workgroups. Regarding the solutions they are promoting, many are just creating another silo of data without integration into the hospitality ecosystem. Some may have great solutions but with poor design or performance that kills the experience.  It’s really a matter of relevance. Does the vendor really understand what it takes to deliver value to the guest or associate in hospitality? Finally, hospitality is a people’s business, it’s a matter of building trust and delivering upon. Given the aforementioned issues, vendors need to show their understanding of the industry and ultimately deliver new insights. With this comes the trust of decision makers.   What is the most widely held misconception that hoteliers have about technology today? Hoteliers and hotel owners have had trouble embracing the concept that technology needs to be changed to be fresh and relevant, and that it also needs to be used to its utmost.  On one hand, there may be a new shiny solution, but that does not mean that it should be deployed before making the most of what’s already in place. On the other hand, I remember discussing with hotel owners not convinced of the need to upgrade their wi-fi solution that was “only” six years old. Having an open mind, pragmatism and common sense are the best way to approach technology -and this is not only true for technology-   As a hotelier, when did you first become interested in technology? I have always been interested in technology because I have viewed technology as a means to offer a better service to the client and to improve the lives of employees. In all my jobs at Accor, I ended up being involved in every technology project that was around me.  At the beginning, it was in addition to my day job and then it became a full-time position. When I left Accor, I wanted to broaden my attention to industry-wide technology challenges.   What was the most challenging part of moving from hotels into technology? Having hoteliers reply to your emails or returning your calls! Seriously, the most important challenge is to remain true to your values.  My experience tells me what the industry needs and how to deliver it. I have built a reputation over the years that I am not willing to jeopardize to make a buck. Joining Hapi was not an accident. I joined Hapi because I believe it is the best answer to a critical need in our industry with the best approach to move hospitality forward.   What made you want to take the leap as CIO of Accor and want to work on a startup like Hapi? Hapi is the platform I was looking for when I was a hotelier. It allows hoteliers to innovate faster and improve security and data compliance (GDPR…) by centralizing the flows of hospitality data needed to deliver great guest experience.  Rather than following a pattern of point to point integrations, hotel companies can integrate their systems to the Hapi cloud and connect their internal or partner systems to a normalized stream of data, be it reservations, profiles or more.   Hapi offers technology partners, through its marketplace, a way to integrate multiple PMSs (as well as various other hotel systems) with a single development effort. Hapi’s marketplace enables partners to gain exposure to hotels on the platform and enables hotels to tap into other available systems that are connected to Hapi. With already 35 partners, its connectivity to multiple solutions from companies like Oracle, Infor, and Salesforce creates a great deal of potential.   Imagine that you're going to open the hotel of your dreams tomorrow. What kind of hotel would it be? ”Zappy Hotel” will be a midscale boutique hotel, sleek and modern, 100-150 rooms. Fully integrated in its community with large common spaces for locals and travelers, local food, local art. Rooms will have great lighting but also curtains that ensure full night, presence detector to optimize energy and housekeeping. Maybe I will add a small hotel nearby, “the L’Otech hotel”, with 50 rooms without any technology, all rooms will have a Faraday cage to protect guests from electronic waves, it will target electromagnetic hypersensitive guests or serve as a retreat for technology dependents who need to reconnect with real life.   What technology would you leverage at your hotel? Hapi, of course, to be able to seamlessly integrate the various systems and deliver a truly personalized experience thanks to innovative companies -just browse Hotel Tech Report to see how many great solutions are out there.  The PMS will have to be truly intuitive and focus on welcoming the guests not fulfilling administrative tasks. Apple TVs will be in the room and a solid engagement platform like Monscierge to allow a seamless experience. I must specify that Wi-Fi will be outstanding: no password to re-enter, thanks to integration with the hotel CRM, casting capabilities with huge bandwidth. Only technology that is intuitive will be implemented.   What advice do you have for hoteliers who want to work in technology? If your dream is technology, go for it but do not forget where you are coming from.  Capitalize on your experience and keep your service “can-do” attitude. I had IT team members who were night auditors, cook, pastry chef. It took them a long time to feel legitimate in their IT role. My advice is do not doubt yourself and be proud!   What’s one book that changed the way you think about hospitality technology? “Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down”. We are still lacking tech solutions that serve the needs of our employees. Many hotel companies have invested a lot of money to improve “digital” customer experience but not much in helping the employee to deliver a better customer experience. Hotel companies initially fought on the same battlefield as the OTA instead of focusing on the area they have the advantage on, the in-house experience.   What is your favorite hotel in the world and why? I love the architecture and the design of the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, but my favorite hotel is probably the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac in Quebec city that is a major Canadian Landmark. The service is outstanding, and the place carries its 125+ years of history.   What is the most exciting technology you've seen in the hotel tech space that is not built by your own company? Why? I’m a big fan of STAYmyway, a mobile key solution that does need not to replace the old mag-stripe locks and embeds a guest recognition solution with ID matching to increase security and avoid any chargeback dispute. It has a hotel version and a private rental offering. I like them so much I have invested in the company.   What is one thing that most people don't know about you? My wife and I love remodeling houses, from the design to the final product. We are quite proud to present the results to our friends and family and get excited when people think there is no way we did it ourselves!

Tech Trend: TCV Says "SaaS as a Network" is the Next Big Thing

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Creating revolutionary technology for hotels has historically been a slog but lately we’re seeing a change in fate for hotel software companies due to increased investment in the space.  One of the biggest investors in hospitality tech is Menlo Park based TCV, the growth equity firm that has invested in breakout companies like Sojern and SiteMinder within hotel tech.  TCV has also made major investments in the broader hospitality and travel space such as: Airbnb, TripAdvisor, HomeAway, Expedia, Orbitz, SeatGeek and Toast. TCV is one of the largest names in the world of technology investing with a successful track record in the massive hospitality and travel vertical.  Vertical market software is an extremely hot investment theme right now. “The easy opportunities for disrupting old-line industries are drying up. Now, many of the up-and-coming start-ups that may become the next unicorns have names like Benchling and Blend. And they largely focus on software for specific industries.” ~New York Times Long time TCV investor and former SiteMinder CFO John Burke is excited about the opportunities within the vertical market software.  There has been an undeniable explosion of app marketplaces in all sectors of software with fourteen out of twenty of the world's largest publicly trades SaaS companies offering them.  John and his team have identified a trend within a sub investment theme that they've coined: ”SaaS as a Network”.  Here’s how they describe the concept. “When a SaaS provider starts serving a high enough density of merchants, they can leverage that strength to build two-sided marketplaces with the merchant's customers, suppliers, and employees.” ~David Yuan, TCV General Partner The general hypothesis is that once vertical market software companies achieve scale with regards to their core products they can always bolt on new point solution functionality but would be wise to focus on a much bigger opportunity.  Specifically, TCV believes that these software companies can create two-sided marketplaces that connect their users to new channels of customers, suppliers and employees. Back in February, Hotel Tech Report identified the explosion of marketplaces as one of the 5 biggest tech trends at ITB Berlin, a trend that mirror’s TCV’s investment thesis.  Of all the software companies creating marketplaces in hospitality, TCV’s portfolio company SiteMinder has the largest scale to date. Image from David Yuan's article SaaS as a Platform, SaaS as a Network   Last year SiteMinder threw its hat in the ring with the launch of SiteMinder Exchange aimed at “breaking down the industry’s notorious integration barriers, connecting hotel systems and applications through smart and simple connectivity.” “The reality is that few industries are as fragmented as hospitality particularly at the PMS level. There has always been demand for many of the new applications, but innovation has been stifled by lack of connectivity and the sales model makes the economics challenging. Some of these barriers are starting to be broken down by SiteMinder and others which I think can unlock a lot of innovation for the industry.  But this is a hard problem and it’s a complicated space with lots of moving pieces so that makes it challenging.” ~John Burke, TCV Executive Vice President SiteMinder’s Exchange marketplace is aimed at allowing other applications to access the firm’s broad user base consisting of more than 30,000 hotels worldwide.  Most of those hotels are using SiteMinder’s highly popular channel manager which connects hotel inventory to 3rd party distribution channels as well as other products within the firm's broader guest acquisition platform such as a rate intelligence tool and an online booking engine. The firm is betting that it can add value for users by allowing them to try more hotel tech applications with ease and in turn create new business opportunities for those suppliers. We sat down with Burke to discuss his views on hotel tech, the future for platforms like SiteMinder Exchange and highlight the most cutting edge developments happening right now within the hotel space.   How did you get into venture investing? I’ve been in and around venture since 2011. I started my career with EY in their audit and transaction advisory teams. Getting into venture was a bit of good timing and persistence. The TCV team were looking for an immediate hire and decided to take a chance. I was with TCV from 2011 to 2014 as part of the B2B software team. As I thought about what was next for me, I was drawn to the experiences and mentorship of the TCV Venture Partners (e.g. former senior operating executives such as Erik Blachford). The tech market at that time had been heating up with a few high-profile IPOs. It was my belief that the next wave of great investors was not going to be able to rely on multiple expansion or financial engineering. I believed the best investors over the next 10 years would need to be partners driving actual business growth. That brought me to SiteMinder down in Sydney, Australia. TCV had just led the Series B investment in the company, and the fundamentals of the business were remarkable.  On top of that, they were ramping up for aggressive growth across Europe, SE Asia and were about to launch in the U.S. which I thought would be great experience. I was also excited to work with Mike Ford and the entire SiteMinder team. Mike is a special entrepreneur who is not only very smart and a product visionary, but also authentic and humble. I joined SiteMinder initially in an analytics role and then for the next 3.5 years as CFO. For family reasons, we decided to move back to the U.S. last year, where I reconnected with TCV and rejoined the team. I continue to spend a lot of time in the hospitality and vertical software space and TCV just led an investment in Toast, an exciting next-generation restaurant platform.   Tell us about TCV. TCV was founded in 1995 as a $100M venture fund and today has raised over $15 billion across 10 funds, focusing exclusively on technology companies. We recently began investing out of TCV X, a $3 billion fund. TCV looks to partner with companies that have potential for a sustained category leadership position and are looking to succeed at an even greater scale. This typically means that a company has been growing for several years – with a history of customer trust and engagement and a business model that is reflective of the value they provide. We are flexible on transaction type with experience in public and private markets and are comfortable in minority or majority positions. Over the past 24 years, we’ve had more than 60 IPOs in our portfolio and have worked with some of the largest franchises in technology including ExactTarget, Facebook, Netflix, GoDaddy and Spotify.   At this point, I’ve talked with many investors in the space which helps me appreciate how the various funds are different. For TCV, I think it’s the depth of industry knowledge and a growth mindset. We have close to 100 team members now and our investment team focuses every day on technology and goes deep in verticals and sub-verticals. When we identify a compelling technology trend, we take the time to thoroughly understand the underlying drivers, business model, and competitive environment. Having a developed perspective means we can have much more meaningful conversations about a company’s business and growth opportunities and are positioned to be a better thought partner for the executive teams as they drive towards expansion and category leadership. We’re not afraid to make bold bets especially when we have conviction on category leadership and to do whatever it takes to help companies reshape industries.     Can you talk about TCV’s view on hotel tech and its SiteMinder investment? Travel and Hospitality has been a core focus of TCV for well over a decade. In addition to SiteMinder, the active portfolio companies we are working with include Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Sojern, Tour Radar, and Klook.  Previously we were investors in Expedia, HomeAway, Orbitz, and Travelport, among others. For SiteMinder, TCV led the Series B round and we have continued to stay active with the company as the lead director since then. Two of my partners David Yuan (General Partner) and Erik Blachford (Venture Partner) continue to serve on the Board of Directors. SiteMinder has an incredible history, where is the company today? SiteMinder is a hotel guest acquisition platform that connects hotels to future guests, so hoteliers can go back to doing what they love.  It’s trusted by more than 30,000 hotels of all sizes, across 160 countries and has helped generate more than 87 million reservations worth over US$28 billion in revenue for hotels each year. SiteMinder is based in Australia, how did you come across the investment? It was a team effort. Back in 2011 to 2013 we spent a bunch of time mapping out the ecosystem for online travel and hospitality attending industry shows like HITEC and Phocuswright. Ultimately, we identified the channel management sector as promising albeit a lesser known segment in the category. Our view at the time was that online travel was increasingly complicated and in flux with new players vying for hotel distribution. Independent hotels were harder to aggregate but would also allow these same middlemen an ability to offer differentiated supply that was higher margin. Channel management became interesting because it aggregated and provided connectivity to this supply. We thought this was a hard problem particularly to do in a cost-effective way but when executed it could be highly strategic given the long-tail nature of both hotel supply and PMS. From there we focused on the best product and category leader which led us to SiteMinder. One of my colleagues got us an introduction to Mike Ford through an employee. We then got on the 14-hour flight over to Sydney and created a deal. What's one piece of advice you have for hotel tech entrepreneurs when raising capital? Test the investors. Anyone can look at metrics, but make sure you push them on the nuances of your positioning and make sure they understand the depth of your industry and strategic implications of the various alternatives. Mike did this to us in a big way when we pursued SiteMinder and it always stuck with me.   One pitfall I’ve seen is entrepreneurs who get ahead of themselves with regards to the amount of capital raised or valuation and focus on those items vs. choosing the right partner. This can have implications down the road. I would say to raise what you need and what strategically makes sense given your market and opportunity. And focus as much time and energy as you can on the partner. In addition to the strategic perspective which is table stakes, I tend to think entrepreneurs should focus on investors with candor (to drive constructive feedback delivered in the right way) and humility (it’s all about the team and this also makes it more fun). How do you think the hotel technology space will change over the next 5-years? It’s a great time to be in hotel technology given how dynamic this market is. I think we are still early in the growth journey for hotel software. In my mind, there is no doubt that software will continue to play a larger and larger role in the next 5 years and continue to reshape the industry and guest and operator experience.  We have also been spending a bunch of time on a thesis we are excited about, called “SaaS as a Platform and SaaS as a Network,” which is around the continued extension of the SaaS business model and platform companies leveraging their position in creating marketplaces with employees, suppliers, or customers. I think this trend has many opportunities in travel.   For hotels specifically, I think data, connectivity, and personalization will only increase in importance. Tools like SiteMinder Exchange, which is a data layer connecting PMS with applications and demand channels, can be a big part of this and drive innovation. I also think there will continue to be more dominant global players with companies like Ctrip continuing global expansion and Google, Facebook/Instagram, and TripAdvisor starting to see momentum on their new models. The lines in the accommodation industry will continue to blur as Airbnb ramps up their investment and focus on hotels as well. I also feel labor management will matter more, and there will be new innovative ways to tackle this challenge. This is something we’ve seen in the retail vertical which I think will also make its way to the travel industry.    People often say that the hotel industry is a bit slow to adopt technology. Do you agree? I agree. But I don’t think it’s been driven by the lack of interest or desire.  Hoteliers care deeply about guest experiences and the ones that I’ve spent time with often always go above and beyond what’s expected. The reality is that few industries are as fragmented as hospitality particularly at the PMS level. There has always been demand for many of the new applications, but innovation has been stifled by lack of connectivity and the sales model makes the economics challenging. Some of these barriers are starting to be broken down by SiteMinder and others which I think can unlock a lot of innovation for the industry.  But this is a hard problem and it’s a complicated space with lots of moving pieces so that makes it challenging. Related article: Everything hoteliers need to know about APIs in plain english If you were leaving venture capital tomorrow and forced to start a hotel technology company - what would it be? That’s a tough one. Part of working in an operator role at SiteMinder helped me realize how hard it is to be an entrepreneur and scale a company. This only deepened my respect for what they do. I’m a big believer that you need to follow your heart, so I’d want to align it to something I am passionate about. Maybe I’d do something connecting hotels/travel and yoga which is something I’ve come to enjoy. And being a CFO and travelling a lot, I also think the opportunities in corporate travel remain significant. What is the most interesting or surprising thing that you've learned from investing in hotel tech? Not too much is surprising me at this point. It feels like there is never a dull day in hotel tech! One thing I did notice about some of the larger players in the space is that they serve hospitality, but at their core they are surprisingly not hospitable. One of my partners recently did a podcast with the former CMO at Airbnb and Coca-Cola and he talked about authenticity as an enduring and compounding competitive advantage. I think this is something that will matter more and more. I think it will eventually catch up with those companies who forget that, especially in hospitality tech. What is the best book you've read lately and why? “The Outsiders” by Will Thorndike. I read it a couple of years ago and it continues to stand out to me. The book profiles eight understated CEOs who took a different approach to corporate management.  These “outsider” CEOs often didn’t have the charisma that society has conditioned us to expect and were often in their position for the first time. Humble, unassuming and often frugal, they shied away from advisors and the hottest new management trends, instead focusing on a pragmatic and a disciplined approach to capital allocation which drove extraordinary returns. I found myself getting lost in each of their stories and admiring their independent thinking and patience to wait for the right opportunity. “Shoe Dog” and “Limping on Water” are two others I enjoyed.   What is your favorite podcast? The top 3 for me right now are Farnam Street, Invest Like the Best, and Acquired. All the them have caused me to think differently and continually expand my curiosity. What is one thing that most people don't know about you? I love yoga and meditation. For all the startups that might want to pitch in TCV's office, what can you tell them about your investment criteria? We recently began investing out of TCV X, a $3 billion fund, so the opportunities we pursue are typically between $30-300M. We tend to be flexible on all other aspects of a transaction type and focus on category leadership potential and growth. I really enjoy spending time with entrepreneurs and would love for folks to reach out even if they are a bit early. Companies can scale quickly so we would love to start a relationship well in advance.

4 Hotel Jobs That Benefit Most From Quore's Operations Software

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

At its worst, hotel operations technology exacerbates divisions between departments, which continue functioning as isolated fiefdoms. At its best, an operations platform pulls everyone together by promoting collaboration and clear communication in hotel operations. One such solution is Quore, a workhorse that harmonizes hotel operations for 3,600 hotels in 22 languages and 29 countries. Its cloud-based platform enables more efficient communications and operations management across housekeeping, engineering, and guest relations. For some hotels, the integrated approach to handling guest requests on the platform led to a 50% improvement in problem-handling score. Effective, reliable communications also improves the staff experience -- something that matters more in a tightly competitive labor market. Staff want the right tools that help them do their jobs well -- and many will leave in frustration without them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the 2018 hospitality turnover rate at 74.9%, so hotels that use technology to make work better will out-perform their peers in both retention and referrals from current staff. With an eye towards empowering employees, here are four team members that will be thankful for the Quore hotel operations platform.   Your maintenance tech will prioritize projects better Guests hate discovering a maintenance issue upon arrival. It's an unwelcome challenge, presented immediately. It also makes even the most forgiving guest wonder why the hotel missed such an obvious thing, such as a burnt-out light bulb, a clogged toilet, or a broken doorknob. Quore’s functionality makes it easier for maintenance to overcome these challenges and work more efficiently in three key areas: Real-time problem management. When something goes wrong in the guestroom, it’s nearly always urgent. Guests don’t want to sit around and wait for an engineer, and, some things (such as a flooding drain or a sweltering room) are emergencies. Quore provides real-time problem handling that can quickly be assigned to the right team member -- and visible on that team member’s mobile device. Zdravko Bengez, a maintenance technician at the Hilton Garden Inn and downtown Nashville puts it like this: “With Quore, I know in seconds what needs to be done.” All relevant details appear on his mobile device, without having to chase down more information. Resource and project prioritization. Prioritizing resources is a daily tug-of-war, especially for larger properties. To effectively prioritize resources (including urgent problems like the ones mentioned above), Quore gives maintenance a quick overview, showing the up-to-date task list, as well as whether it was made by supervisor, the front desk, or a guest. This allows technicians to make on-the-fly decisions about where to go next, As well as stay in-the-loop with colleagues across the hotel. Preventative maintenance. PMs shouldn't be guess work. Quore supports hotel maintenance techs and engineers with preventative maintenance checklists that are automatically surfaced at the right time. As these lists evolve, changes are applied universally to keep everything consistent. Quore has robust enginnering features to support your maintenance staff: Prevenative maintenance, Pool chemical readings, Work orders, Boiler readings, Asset tracking, Meter readings, Custom inspections   Your housekeeping manager will manage shifts more efficiently Housekeeping has many responsibilities that require regular communication and precise time management. Before a guest checks in, housekeeping must ensure that a room is available -- and up to brand standards. During a guest’s stay, housekeeping must service the room and fulfill guest requests for specific items. After check out, housekeeping must flip the room efficiently (and to brand standards) so that it's available for the front desk to assign. “The way in which a room is cleaned, tidied and presented to its guests is in direct relation to the level of service the hotel prides themselves on. Housekeeping provides guests with a clear indication of how they are valued.” -Paul Duverge, General Manager, Menlyn Boutique Hotel Quore’s platform makes this daily cycle easier on the housekeeping manager by supporting: Preparation. Each housekeeping shift is a puzzle. In advance of a shift, it's all about preparation and planning. Quore helps housekeeping managers to set each days priorities, as each stayover and checkout is clearly defined in the system. It simplifies the process of assigning rooms to housekeepers before they clock in. Prioritization. Things change throughout today. Real-time updates on things like stayovers becoming checkouts helps the housekeeping manager match staff resources with guest demand. Accountability. There's also very important advantage of a paper trail. As Liz, the assistant housekeeper manager at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Nashville learned after starting at a hotel with Quore, there's less accountability without a written record: “[With walkie-talkies] it's easy to not write something down. With Quore, it's like having a paper trail, so there's more documentation. Also, I can start and complete an activity all through Quore which is helpful for tracking.” Quore has robust houskeeping features to support your staff: Housekeeping assignments, Guestroom inspections, Deep cleanings, Lost & found, Room notices, Custom inspections, Digital breakouts, Room status tracking, Work orders, Brand standards compliance   Your front desk manager will deliver better service It takes a certain amount of finesse to work the front desk. The ideal team member here is pleasant under pressure, with a knack for creative problem solving. Yet, even the most creative employee will be hobbled by poor information. The front desk is, in many ways, the central command post for a hotel’s operations. As the front line of guest communications, one of the toughest challenges encountered by most front desk agents is the unevenness of information. Quore’s smooths out these imbalances by adequately equipping the front desk to solve guest problems quickly with its: Dashboard. The Quore platform provides a single unified dashboard to collaborate quickly and across departments. This synchronization allows the front desk to focus on the rapid resolution of guest issues and avoid poor service situations, such as assigning an unclean or out-of-service room. Instead of less reliable means of communication, such as walkie-talkies or face-to-face, the front desk can communicate guest requests efficiently, says Finesse James, a front desk agent at Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Nashville: “It's a great method because it can keep us from having to call them when things are busy up here, and we are multitasking. It's easier to click and type in that we need them to do something. We can put all the specifics in the comments so they don't need to call and clarify.” Ease-of-use. The front desk is usually an untipped entry-level role, which means higher turnover. Quore’s consumer-friendly interface is familiar to anyone who’s used popular messaging and social media apps. It's intuitive, which reduces training time. The ease-of-use also keeps staff engaged and less frustrated, as they feel that the technology is working for, rather than against, them. For millennial's used to well-crafted interfaces, this is actually an important part of their expectations for the workplace. Digital logbook. No more deciphering chicken scratch or calling a colleague from a previous shift about “complaint from 402.” Standard log sheets keep staff informed from shift-to-shift. The digital log book also connects with related items, such as guest complaints or requests, so staff can easily find updates on notices mentioned in the digital log book. Quore has robust front desk features to support your front office team: Local attraction directory, Guestroom notices, Guest request management, Guest complaint management, Satisfaction callbacks, Key sign-in, sign-out and audit, Log book, Cash count log, Guest SMS, Security walks, Wake-up calls, Guest shipments   Your general manager will achieve budget more often The best general managers know the power of consistent, clear communications. And many have learned this first-hand, rising up the ranks from entry-level desk clerk. According to a 2016 AH&LA study, 45% of respondents said that at least half of the general managers began in actionable positions. Quore allows these veterans to focus on providing fluid and flexible workforce communications that empowers rather than discourages. The Quore platform becomes a GM’s stalwart ally in running a consistent hotel operation by supplying: Centralized, digital log book. A GM can’t be everywhere at once. Quore’s position at the center of a hotel’s operation relives some of that pressure.  As Gerald Loughran, the GM of Hilton Franklin/Cool Springs emphasizes, Quore’s digital log book is his hotel’s bible: “We’re religious about putting everything into Quore. If it’s not in Quore, it didn’t happen.” By pulling staff together into one shared operational brain, it’s much easier to maintain brand standards and close communication gaps.   Go-anywhere access. A GM also has to go home at some point! Quore enables managers to keep track of staff to-do’s, tasks and track overall productivity across their hotel from any device. The go-anywhere access means that GMs aren’t out of the loop when off shift, at a conference, or on vacation. Actionable reports based on historical data.  Historic data is easily accessible so that GMs can achieve growth and measurable improvement. This gives GMs the confidence that work is being done as it should be -- or quickly services areas that need work. When a GM spends less time on inspection or micro-management, it frees up time to focus on other metrics that matter -- such as guest satisfaction, revenue, and profitability. Quore has robust features to support your general managers:, Analytics & reporting, Asset tracking, CapEx management, Attendance tracking, Custom inspections, Budgeting tool, Checkbook visualization, Daily property walks

Here's What You Need to Know About Impala's Universal Hotel API

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Hotel Tech Report previously published a story about Volara’s Alexa for hotels voice activated tech and its ability to turn off room lights via Honeywell Inncom control systems and control guest entertainment solutions on platforms like Sonifi - that all happens via API. Given the widespread use of APIs in almost every industry one would think that hotels can easily connect software systems like business intelligence software, revenue management systems and staff task management software to any property management system - but in reality that’s far from the truth. Major property management system companies like Oracle Micros and Agilysys have literally hundreds of integration requests each month from software companies.  Each of those integrations must be vetted for security and reliability which takes time and resources.  Those same PMS companies have hundreds of feature requests from enterprise clients that are prioritized ahead of those integrations partners.  Adding to the headache, when an integration breaks down (which they inevitably do) the PMS companies are generally held responsible for client support.  Further, when one of those PMS companies updates a feature that impacts their APIs - they need each and every integration partner to make necessary adjustments to the connection. This integrations dilemma is a messy problem and London based Impala has come up with a simple and elegant solution - a universal hotel PMS API. Impala has built a universal API that both property management system providers and their software partners can build onto which saves the PMS companies time and money while allowing their partners to scale more quickly.   Hoteliers benefit by being able to connect their systems and from the ability to try more technology products that optimize their businesses - often products that wouldn’t have already been connected to their property management system and therefore would have been unusable.  Last year Impala raised $1.75M to serve more vendors and continue executing on its vision for a more innovative hospitality industry. We sat down with Impala co-founder Ben Stephenson to chat about the future of the hotel industry with a specific focus on how connected systems can turn the industry from a laggard into a technology pioneer.     What was your background prior to starting Impala? Prior to starting Impala I was a Software Engineer working on a number of really interesting projects. One of the later projects that I worked on was managing a team responsible for delivering integration with GDS web-services. Impala initially came about as I met people when working in travel technology and started to understand how out-dated and ill-fitting the technology stack in travel was from almost every angle. I met my Co-Founder Charlie Cowley through a very old friend and since we have very complementary skill sets (myself in engineering, Charlie in sales) and Charlie being one of the few people that can put up with me for more than a few hours, we decided to start Impala.   Who was Impala's first customer leveraging the API? This is actually a really fantastic story. In the very, very early days before we really dug into building a secure integration platform, we were building a Property Management System. I was glued to a laptop for days on end building the thing (literally a never-ending job) and Charlie's job was to go out and drum up some pilots. We were based in London and the first guy that Charlie even managed to get on the phone is a chap called John who runs a 10 bedroom guest-house in West Wales. He somehow convinces him to take a look at the software - but it has to be in person. For anyone unfamiliar with the UK, West Wales might be one of the most painful places to get to from London. All you can really do is drive and if you catch the traffic on a bad day it can take about seven hours. Neither of us have a car because we're Londoners and so Charlie hops in some Zipcar and sets off to Wales. He gets there and gives me a call to say that he has no reception on his phone and he'll call me in an hour when he's done. Anyway, fast forward four hours and absolute radio silence. I try to call Charlie. Nothing. I try a few more times. Zip. At this point I'm pretty sure that Charlie has been lured across country to be murdered in a 10 bedroom dungeon and I'm trying to figure out how to call the Welsh police. Finally, I get a call from Charlie to say that he'd been grilled for the entire afternoon about a product he - to be honest - didn't really at the time completely understand but he'd somehow got them signed up.   That’s incredible and I didn’t even realize Impala started as a PMS.  You guys have come a long way since then - tell us about the business today. With every interface, you're currently paying your PMS an extraordinary amount for insecure, slow access for data *that you own*. Impala is an extremely secure, rapid data layer that sits on top of your PMS and lets you work with great software and hardware ten times faster and cheaper.     Who is one mentor that has really helped you scale the business? There are so many people that have helped us get to where we are so I'm going to have to pick out two. Adriaan Coppens, the ex-CEO of OTA Insight has been exceptionally helpful. He's always one or two steps ahead of where my thinking is and it really pushes me to be better. I'm almost certain every time we've disagreed, he's ended up being correct eventually. Jens Lapinski, the CEO of Angel Invest Ventures as well has been massively influential. He's completely no-nonsense and happily contrarian. I once wrote Jens a wonderfully lengthy strategy email about where we should go that spanned about four pages of A4 and I just got a single line reply that dismantled my entire argument.   What's the biggest mistake that you see hoteliers making on a day-to-day basis? Hoteliers think that getting access to your own data has to take months. One of the golden rules we have when we consider whether to work with PMS or whether to implement our secure reader is "Can this PMS switch on an interface in less than 24 hours". If the answer is no then we use the reader rather than web-services. Our goal is to get Impala switched on in a hotel inside 24 hours. What's the most surprising thing you've learned about scaling technology into hotels? How unique every hotel is. We work with hotels in California, Kazakhstan and the Caribbean and every single one has different needs, processes and requirements. Luckily these days Impala is a very flexible product but I do feel for anyone coming into this industry thinking every hotel is entirely homogeneous because it's a tough learning curve.   Are there 1 or 2 companies that have been a particularly good partners for Impala? We work with so many companies that I can't possibly shout out all of the great partners that we have. I love companies that move quickly however, people like Triptease and Customer Alliance that have really big visions and executive teams that are willing to really push the boat out to achieve them.   If you could partner with any vendor in hotel tech, who would it be and why? I'm really excited at the moment about a lot of the work we're doing with hardware vendors. The demands are very different, a lot smaller data footprint but very low latency requirements in how fast they need data. Other than that, we'll be launching the Impala Distribution API later on in the year which will allow us to work with some very innovative companies in the distribution space.   Where do you see Impala in 5-years? If you look at most hotels, because of integrations and interface problems and the fact they have a very specific domain that mass market tools don't cater for, they're comparatively very light users of technology. I hope that with tools like Impala we can change that and that in five years, hotels are going to see healthier margins because of it. In five years Impala will be the default way that hoteliers manage and share their data with partners, whether that be distributors, software or hardware vendors or governments. Hoteliers will have super fine-grained control and auditing of exactly who has access to what data and how frequently.   What's one piece of advice that you have for any entrepreneurs looking to get into the hotel tech space? Hire well. Technology is hard, hospitality is hard. We wouldn't be anywhere near where we are right now if Charlie and I didn't have a genuinely incredible team of hospitality professionals and technologists. It's so easy to hire badly and hotel tech is quite an unsexy space so you have to be very careful and do it very well.   What is the best book you've read lately and why? The Fortune Cookie Principle by Bernadette Jiwa. Brand is so important to any business and it should inform absolutely everything you do. Jiwa demonstrates this through some great case studies.   What is your favorite podcast Business - 20 Minute VC. Comedy - The Worst Idea of All Time.   What is one thing that most people don't know about you? I'm a huge fan of cricket. Every few months I start to try and organise a charity cricket match for the hospitality industry. I just have to nail down Erik Muñoz on his availability this summer since he's the Australian Captain.

The Definitive Guide to ITB Berlin 2019: 5 Key Trends That Every Hotelier Must Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Last week Hotel Tech Report attended ITB to discover the most cutting edge innovations in travel and hotels.  Each year thousands congregate at Messe Berlin to connect with peers, partners and clients from around the globe. Below are 5 key trends that every hotelier needs to know about this year.  In this article we outline each trend, tell you how it impacts your hotel and give an overview of the companies that launched or showcased on trend products at ITB.  For those of you who couldn't make it to Berlin we also cut a reel from the show so you can get the next best thing to being there.   Check out Hotel Tech Report's official ITB Berlin 2019 Recap video above   5 key trends & takeaways from ITB 2019   1. Automation is going mainstream 2. Software tools are breaking down operational silos 3. Hotel software is moving towards self service 4. App marketplaces are soaring 5. Meeting venues are getting wired up     Our take on automation in hotel software   Automation allows for time consuming, tedious and repetitive processes to be handled completely by software. When a task or process reaches the limits of the software’s capability, the appropriate team member is looped in to take over which is a beautiful thing. Let’s face it, if you’ve ever worked in a hotel you know that there are dozens of repetitive tasks that seem like a computer should be able to handle and in many cases perform even better, and now they can.   Automation frees up staff to focus on the things that those computers can’t handle like high level strategic thinking, trying new products and serving guests. Many hotels are still afraid that technology and the personal touch are conflicting ideas; however, innovative hotel groups are realizing that technology and automation actually enable them to focus on the personal aspects of experience in a way they couldn’t when they were bogged down with repetitive tasks.   What's new in automation? IDeaS launches Investigator to let revenue managers uncover the rationale behind automated pricing decisions by asking Alexa. IDeaS announced Investigator, an intuitive way to answer your management's question: How did you achieve that price and those results?  IDeaS G3 is the most popular RMS on the market and now clients can ask the system via Amazon Alexa to rationalize the decisions that it automates to provide transparency into the decision making process that is out of a revenue managers hands and handled by the systems powerful A.I. engines.   Hotelchamp launches Autopilot to help hoteliers leverage web data and user behavior to deliver personalized web experiences to boost conversion.   Hotelchamp announced Autopilot technology, which wants to transform how hotels approach their online guest bookings and experience. Autopilot uses AI to deliver an adaptive experience that is tailored to every single website visitor, and is completely GDPR compliant. Using an A.I. engine to identify customer segments and audiences, Hotelchamp Autopilot can automatically serve the best information for each guest.  Autopilot has been trained using pre-populated content, insights from the Hotelchamp data science team, and millions of A/B test impressions. Using this knowledge and live insights from the hotel’s website, Autopilot recognises and personalizes the website experience in real-time to convince visitors to book direct. All Hotelchamp tools can now be controlled by Autopilot, meaning the system will only deploy the right tools at the right time to the right audience. This process happens in real-time and is entirely personalised to each individual website visitor and moment in the booking phase.   Crave Scheduler enables hotels to send targeted automated messages generating $5,000/mo in late checkouts.  With the amount of times mobile comes up in conversation and the media, you might think BYOD (bring your own device) is the only way to go but the reality is there are lots of occasions where hotels just simply don’t have the ability to get a guest’s contact info or get them to download an app.  Crave Interactive has a unique, and near unavoidable, position in the guest’s periphery with its in room tablets that see upwards of 90% guest engagement. At ITB, Crave announced a new feature called Crave Scheduler that puts a unique spin on automation allowing hotels to set rules to send target messages to guests.  One of the prime use cases that Crave customers have been taking full advantage of is timed late checkout offers which have seen upwards of $5,000 month in revenue at Crave hotel partners who received early access to the feature.   UpsellGuru announced "Auto Pilot" which automates the entire up-selling process. Upsell Guru now sends targeted emails, calculates the dynamic minimum and maximum upgrade bidding prices, sets up the system to decide which offers to accept and when, updates the PMS - all fully automated not requiring human interaction. The new feature allows hotels to up-sell their rooms & ancillary services  without moving a finger. This saves hotels plenty of time and allows them to use the system without having to log-in on a daily basis. They’re initial trial was successful with a British chain of 30 hotels where they achieve GBP 65,000 per month in up-selling revenue without any manual human work.   Quicktext showcased its website chatbot to help guests find answers faster while unlocking $140,000 in requests per 100 rooms.  With Quicktext, guests can book at your hotel through a conversation (on various channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Website Live Chat and SMS), something that has been mainstream throughout Asia (specifically China) via WeChat but has been slower to catch up in the West.  The most practical use of chatbots is on a hotel website where prospective guests often get lost looking for basic information.  A chatbot can answer critical questions instantly like “how far is your hotel from the convention center?”, “what is the best way to get from the airport to the hotel on public transportation?” and “can we add a cot to our room?”.  This helps shorten the time needed to research the hotel and in turn increases conversion into your booking engine flow.    Humanise.AI had Gem on display boasting automation of 80% of inquiries.  Humanise.AI announced automated web-chat for hotels ensures that guests get an immediate response most of the time, but can still summon a member of hotel staff when needed. When hotels use human-only web-chat systems, they often struggle to respond to enquiries quickly enough, meaning guests leave the web site before they get a reply. With Humanise’s Gem product, they claim to automate ~80% of enquiries, radically improving the guest service and improving conversion-ratios for direct bookings.   SABA put its multilingual guest request and F&B ordering chatbot on display. SABA Hospitality Technology announced a bespoke and fully automated hospitality chatbot (SABAGuest Request).  This multilingual chatbot and digital F&B ordering platform provides guests with a seamless communication experience, without the need for downloads. It provides operators the opportunity to eliminate language barriers, provide instant answers to all guest requests and enquiries, and engage with guests on their preferred communication platform: messaging. This allows for the redeployment of staff away from call centers and other low-value repetitive tasks, to engage in meaningful guest interactions that help build long-term guest loyalty.       Our take on breaking down silos in hotel organizations   It’s no secret that hotels have historically suffered from siloed organizational departments because historically without better communication tools and access to data, teams were essentially on an island in their own physical locations.  Technology companies are starting to realize that their products and tools can help hoteliers to become more effective by aligning departments around common goals, systems and data. At ITB we saw a lot of this happening as evidenced by a shift where CRM companies are starting to focus heavily on the operational applications of their guest data where historically that data has just been used for marketing purposes.   Who's breaking down operational silos? TravelClick weaves Demand360 data into its Campaign Advisor toolkit to leverage market intelligence data to optimize marketing campaigns fostering collaborative efforts between revenue and marketing.  TravelClick announced the addition of Demand360 to the Campaign Advisor toolkit. Building on last year’s email send time optimizer, Campaign Advisor now allows hoteliers to take the guesswork out of marketing by providing them with recommendations on when to run marketing campaigns based on predictive occupancy in the market.  Demand360 is the hospitality industry’s competitive market intelligence product providing forward-looking reservation metrics and competitive share by segment and channel. Hoteliers using TravelClick’s GMS and Demand360 products will have access to current and projected occupancy data versus competitive sets to best identify the most valuable time periods to run campaigns, allowing them to avoid offering discounts and packages during peak market occupancy and place campaigns when they need it most. A huge pain point for hoteliers is knowing when to send promotions and emails to customers, as hoteliers do not have a clear picture of how their future occupancy compares with their comp set. It’s hard to determine the most valuable time to run a campaign. The Campaign Advisor and Demand360 integration, which is proprietary to TravelClick, takes guesswork out of the equation and enables hoteliers to leverage market data to feel confident that they are choosing the best time to run campaigns and capture demand.   Serenata CRM announced Decision Maker, a solution that combines business intelligence with campaign management. Serenata Intraware's Decision Maker allows different users groups like owners, management, operations and marketing to view the same data but from different perspectives to get an optimal view of the hotel operation, identify potential problems and take corrective actions.  The Decision Maker KPI dashboard gives a high-level insight into revenue, OTA share, loyalty contribution and other key metrics and trends. Other dashboards give subject matter experts from operations and marketing the ability to drill-down and identify the root cause for a problem and based on this insight create marketing campaigns using micro-segmentation to mitigate the problem without changing tools or breaking the workflow.   Cendyn announced eNgage which brings marketing’s CRM data and customer profiles to front line operations teams bringing the gap between marketing and operations.   Cendyn's next generation product empowers front-line and call center staff to instantly access guest profiles including historical guest feedback, membership information, brand-wide stays, social profile information and more. Used in conjunction with Cendyn’s eInsight hotel CRM, eNgage sits on top of a hotel’s property management system or call center application and intelligently guides staff to create authentic, meaningful encounters and upsell offerings based on guest history, preferences and loyalty status. This lightweight application can be accessed on any device and features configurable messaging prompts and data displays. Like all Cendyn products, eNgage integrates seamlessly with other hotel systems, utilizing an open architecture that ensures the accuracy and completion of guest information for all team members at every touchpoint in the guest journey. Cendyn’s eNgage solution allows hoteliers to provide the right approach to personalization for guests throughout their stay. eNgage brings to life all the data that hotels are collecting on guests and it displays it in real-time through an application window that always sits on top of the hotel PMS. For staff on the front-line, access to data instantly is critical for them to manage their workload and allows them to navigate every situation elegantly with customer service and upselling, so guests feel known and valued, not overly monitored.   Fornova expands its business intelligence offering to create a cross department interface for data insights.   Fornova announced that they recently acquired HotelsBI, a hotel Business Intelligence platform. With this acquisition, Fornova now caters to all roles and departments in the property and chain.  With this acquisition, Fornova now has three product offerings; Distribution Intelligence, HotelsBI & eCommerce Optimisation. HotelsBI simplifies the process of analysing internal and external data sources thanks to simple, intuitive dashboards - enabling faster, data-driven decisions to optimize hotel performance.   Revinate’s CRM is now being used by front desk staff and showcased the scalability of its platform on newly AWS servers.   This shift allows Revinate to scale more efficiently and ultimately open guest data to new departments.  Revinate showcased the capabilities that get unlocked when front desk staff and managers can access CRM data.   MeetingPackage.com brings revenue management and pricing optimization to your sales team.   The Company announced a partnership with IDeaS revenue solutions to bring real time dynamic pricing to meeting venues.  When paired with MeetingPackage’s online booking engine for event spaces, this is a truly groundbreaking development providing hoteliers with real time insights to optimize pricing and a seamless, intuitive, flexible and real time booking experience.        Our take on self service software in the hotel industry   This is one of the trends that we’re most excited about at Hotel Tech Report.  Freemium and free trials are ubiquitous in the software world but it’s not until recently that it’s broken into the hotel market.  The challenge historically with hotel software has been that you need to ingest data from core systems like the PMS to make any software work; therefore, it’s hard to offer a free trial or self service.  As the hotel software market moves this direction we’ll continue to see exponential upticks in innovation and sophistication. Another key reason that hotels don’t like trying technology is because even if they like the solutions that they try - they’re so busy that they don’t want to add one more thing onto their teams’ respective plates.  Long complex implementations have stifled innovation for years and lead to a massive trust gap between buyers and sellers. At ITB, Oaky cracked the code on this problem by launching it’s simple onboarding wizard which helps hotels go live in just a few simple steps.   Who's helping you take things into your own hands? Oaky’s new self service onboarding lets hoteliers start upselling in under 5-minutes.   Oaky announced an onboarding wizard which allows hoteliers to go live themselves, by completing a few steps. This reduce onboarding time and effort, and allow hotels to buy Oaky from marketplaces and go live without human touch. Inside the wizard they’re putting together many millions of upsell moments, and predicting the optimal upselling set-up based on the type of hotel and its guests. From combining variables around the upsell, with data around the guest and the property - they suggest the optimal setup for the hotel (what deals to sell, which content, and so on) which also predict how much conversion and ancillary revenue guests that have not yet booked will spend using this setup. In today's revenue management, the room rate is often based on the room and not taking predictable revenue from segments into account. This upsell variable can impact the distribution decision and help hotels better price their rooms.  When the revenue management system knows the upsell spend of a guest from various booking channels, they can deduct the distribution costs and end up seeing how to price their rooms for a more profitable booking. Some segments spend 20% on top of the ADR, which makes sense for the hotel to 1) have an upsell setup that allows for that, and 2) an RM strategy that takes it into account to acquire more of those (more profitable) guests.   Atomize’s self service functionality lets hoteliers try out automated revenue management on their own time.   Atomize showcased its advanced revenue management platform that has flexibility that allows hotels to control as much or as little as they’d like when it comes to revenue strategy.  Atomize’s mobile first platform has been designed from the ground up with the idea that hoteliers should be able to go live and try it out without ever speaking with an Atomize rep. The company’s founder, Leif Jaggerbrand told us that he’s had clients come in that his team has never met from countries he’s never heard of.  This dynamic is widespread in the broader SaaS industry and companies like Atomize are bringing this dynamic to hotels.   Cloudbeds’ PIE bakes new revenue management capabilities native into the PMS. Cloudbeds announced PIE - Pricing Intelligence Engine. PIE is built directly into Cloudbeds hospitality management suite. It is seamlessly integrated with the entire Cloudbeds suite, including PMS, booking engine and channel manager. This helps hoteliers and hosts who want one easy-to-system to manage everything.  Many of Cloudbeds’ clients have never used revenue management software before so this provides a lightweight way for them to get started making better pricing decisions.       Our take on hotel software app marketplaces   Marketplaces are nothing new to the software industry.  The reality is that it’s impossible for one technology company to be the best at everything.  Historically the hotel tech industry has taken a different approach where incumbents have tried to bolt all functionality into the PMS and maintain a closed architecture but that is rapidly changing as hoteliers are increasingly unwilling to work with closed vendors and sub-par tools. In response to the shift most forward thinking providers are taking towards open architectures, several innovative cloud PMS companies have taken note from tech darlings like Salesforce, Intuit and Apple by creating marketplaces.  These marketplaces facilitate seamless integrations and eventually the ability to easily try new products with the click of a button making it easier than ever to find the best tools to grow your hotel business. Cloudbeds, Mews, Hotelogix, protel and Apaleo were the latest entrants into the marketplace space each launching their own native marketplace baked into their PMS empowering hoteliers to easily tap into a plethora of best-of-breed tools to grow their businesses right from their PMS.  eRevMax was the first non-PMS marketplace on the market and Snapshot was next but SiteMinder and more recently BookingSuite are clear favorites in the race to marketplace dominance.  Hapi is also taking a unique and differentiated approach by building a marketplace that is solution agnostic.  Hoteliers should note that none of these marketplaces have gained significant traction from a demand perspective so the field is wide open.  While the idea has been around for some years we are still in the early innings.  Two-sided marketplaces require supply and demand to develop but those rarely happen simultaneously. Each of the players below has focused on signing supply/tech partners lately so it will be interesting to see which is able to deliver the best user experience and actually change the way hotels interact with their software.   Who's who in the rise of marketplaces Cloudbeds Marketplace. On top of announcing its native revenue management tool, PIE, Cloudbeds announced the official rollout of its marketplace offering enabling its 20,000+ hotel clients to access a variety of best-of-breed 3rd party tools to mix and match to find the perfect fit.   Mews Marketplace. In a blaze of glory Mews Systems continued its streak of creative conference displays to showcase its marketplace with this year’s theme of Pimp Your PMS (a parody of MTV’s Pimp My Ride) and its booth was cleverly referred to as ‘The Pitstop’.  In true Mews style, each team member was adorned head-to-toe in race car pitstop jumpsuits with patches for various apps that are integrated into their marketplace. Touche team Mews, touche...   Hotelogix Marketplace. Hotelogix Marketplace launched at ITB and is a one-stop shop for all the hospitality technology needs of a hotelier. It helps hoteliers find and evaluate best-in-class Hotel Technology products on a single platform.   Hapi.   Hapi is taking a unique and differentiated approach by building a marketplace that is solution agnostic.  Why is this important? By being solution agnostic, Hapi's marketplace is freed from the confines of being locked into a single PMS.  In fact, Hapi offers technology partners (ie marketplace apps) a way to normalize fragmented and messy data into a streamlined and unified structure opening up the potential to integrate to multiple PMSs (as well as various other hotel systems).  Their marketplace offering enables partners to gain exposure to hotels on the platform and enables hotels to tap into other available systems that are connected to Hapi.  Although Hapi is a smaller marketplace with only about 30 partners currently, its connectivity to multiple solutions from companies like Oracle, Infor and Salesforce signals a great deal of potential.   apaleo. apaleo announced its One connection, where data from all pre-connected tools within apaleo's store is available directly within apaleo’s property management system. No switching between browsers or systems. It happens all too often that hoteliers start off their work day organized, and then somehow within a matter of hours (or sometimes even minutes!), end up with dozens of browser tabs open and many systems running. Especially for front desk staff, it takes tons of clicks and searching around to find the info they need, when they need it. It isn't pleasant. With apaleo One, all the info that hoteliers need is visible within apaleo's PMS, saving staff time and creating a more seamless journey for guests.   protel Services Marketplace (SMP).  While not quite its first appearance, protel proudly featured its services marketplace at ITB showing off its shiney new native ratings and reviews (syndicated from yours truly) to help hoteliers research, vet and discover the best tools to grow their businesses without leaving the protel app store.  Pretty awesome! From the protel team, “The SMP empowers protel customers to choose from a variety of certified and evaluated 3rd party technology vendors covering all the essential hospitality technology services, such as RMS, CRM, PMS and POS. In other words, it's THE App Store to start integration with protel. It's also the point of entry to integrations for any 3rd party vendor to showcase and offer their powerful services to our 14,000 customers around the globe.”   The protel SMP marketplace features reviews from Hotel Tech Report to deliver transparency for its users   BookingSuite App Store (by Booking.com).   BookingSuite unveiled its app store for the first time where hoteliers can use single sign on (SSO) to activate new apps.  Many hoteliers are naturally wary of relying more on Booking.com or giving them more data, but overall it is a clear strategic move by Booking to provide more value to hoteliers to mend their often shakey relationship. BookingSuite’s approach is similar to the way LinkedIn, Google, Amazon and Facebook allow users to login to 3rd party apps with their APIs. The difference between BookingSuite and these other tech giants is that they want to take commissions (into perpetuity) from technology vendors. The commission vendors pay in the BookingSuite App Store is 25% for year 1, then 15% into perpetuity.  If you are a vendor with an average monthly revenue of $800 per hotel and a 7 year average customer lifetime that means you'll be paying Booking $2,400 in year 1 and $10,080 over the duration of the contract to acquire that single customer. In our opinion, this fee will eventually be passed to the end user (hoteliers) over time and is just another form of integration fee. Google and LinkedIn give away this service free to foster innovation and strengthen their respective platforms. So while BookingSuite’s tech is innovative we’re concerned about their commercialization model and understand why hotels and vendors might want to remain cautious.   eRevMax.   eRevMax rolled out updates to its LiveOS platform that allows its hotel clients to centralize the usage of various software applications into one interface using single sign-on.  While the LiveOS platform was one of the first to offer a marketplace offering, they seem to have fallen behind the competition with a limited range of apps available but seems to be pushing forward continuing to try to continue to explore the potential of LiveOS as a central operating platform, that can plug in various systems to help hotels make critical and time saving decisions across multiple systems without having to piece the data together manually.       Our take on wiring up meeting spaces for easy booking   During November’s Phocuswright event Hotel Tech Report tried to book the rooftop of several hotels for a client event.  In order to book the spaces we had to go to the hotel websites and fill out a form, then wait for responses from sales reps.  Some websites didn’t even have a form so we had to manually email reps based on contact info from their website (that we had to dig around for).  Out of the 5 desired locations which were some of the hottest hotels in downtown Los Angeles - not a single one responded within 24 hours and 1 didn’t respond to our inquiry at all.  Then to make matters worse, by the time they responded the first question was ‘how much budget do you have to spend’. Needless to say, this was a pretty horrible customer experience so we decided to take our business elsewhere and avoided hotels all together for our event. Imagine if you had to write to a hotel to inquire about availability.  Now imagine that when you wrote, the hotel wrote back asking “what’s your budget?”  The idea is absurd. Hotel websites and OTAs have wired up the industry to make sure this would never happen again.  It starts the relationship off with a bad taste for the customer and completely undermines the intended nature of a collaborative ally that a sales manager should be for any client but especially given that they are a prospect who intends to spend thousands of dollars to throw an event.  Meetings and events contribute $325B of direct spending in the U.S. alone (source AmexGBT) - so it’s about time this highly profitable inventory  got wired up.   Who's laying the groundwork to wire up meeting venues? MeetingPackage.com brings channel management and a seamless booking experience to your meeting space inventory.  Meeting Package’s Joonas Ahola Joonas also announced his firm’s launch of a meeting space channel manager which allows  inventory and rates to syndicate not just on a hotel’s website but across a myriad of 3rd party channels that have popped up to help them find new demand to generate additional revenue .  Meeting spaces today can be booked on platforms like AirBnB as well as on niche marketplaces like Breather, Bizly and VenueBook.   Venuesuite launches demand side marketplace to help venues and planners work better together online. Announced its direct booking platform (or marketplace) that helps venues & planners work better together online. The platform significantly simplifies the RFP process and sourcing of venues. The time required to book a venue for a meeting/event is reduced from days to minutes.  Both planners and venues. It enables planners to find venues fast, book instantly and configure meetings & events 24/7. For venues it generates more revenue via qualitative leads & higher conversion rates as prices are shown upfront to bookers. Within 10 months 1,000+ spaces available in The Netherlands via dedicated venue partners who've joined the new way of online (platform) working.       Other notable product launches and showcases Business Intelligence Pegasus announced its Business Intelligence Platform. It's difficult, if almost impossible to transform raw data into actionable insights - it pains most hotel companies, particularly independents.  Pegasus BI combines guest data from multiple sources and deliver it with automated intelligence and an easy-to-understand dashboard. Hoteliers can gain immediate insights that allow their properties to increase bookings, revenue, occupancy and profitability. Revenue Management RevControl announced rate recommendations calculated by room type separately. This announcement is specifically meant for hostels where the rate difference between private rooms and individual beds in a dormitory is huge and unrelated. It is now possible to use a separate set of business rules for each room/bed type and link each room/bed type to its exact match at hotels in de comp set to get individually calculated rate recommendations for each room/bed type.   RateBoard announced revenue management modules for leisure hotels. RateBoard offers a special module for leisure hotels, taking historical  holiday seasons from different countries, matching this data with the booking window of the different nations and optimizing the forecast due to this important factors. HotelPartner Yield Management announced the implementation of success-based billing models.  The implementation of success-based billing models aligns incentives between HotelPartner and clients since they don't charge new partners without having achieved added value in regards to room revenue.  This is an interesting and innovative approach - we're curious to see how it works as demonstrating uplift is a really difficult thing to prove given market fluctuations and the massive # of variables that can't be controlled. Marketing Travel Tripper announced Real Time Ads & Metasearch Direct. These tools help hotel marketers minimize costs and maximize RoAS on their digital marketing campaigns. Real Time Ads is the first digital marketing tool that allows hotels to advertise—in real time—their rates, availability, popularity and more right on their Google search ads, delivering double the conversion rates. With Metasearch Direct, Travel Tripper has helped hotels generate 38x their spend on metasearch with our direct connect to Google Hotel Ads. Their unique commission model means that independent hotels with smaller budgets can play on the metasearch channel without any risks—and for less cost than an OTA commission. Travel Tripper announced ADA Monitoring Platform. Many hotels in the U.S. are in constant risk of ADA compliance lawsuits simply because their websites are not accessibility friendly. Not only does the TT Web team offer full-service ADA audits on websites, but they also have built out an automated ADA monitoring platform that performs website checks in real time to ensure compliance. Hotel marketers are immediately notified whenever an element of their site falls out of the accessibility guidelines (for example, lack of alt tags, color contrast etc.) Serenata CRM & IgnitionOne launched a next generation CRM partnership that combines both historic guest information combined with real-time intent data. By tracking and scoring website visitors interests and propensity to convert hoteliers can tailor messaging, content and offers, both on the website and in the booking engine accordingly to this data. The scoring technology also supports new guest acquisition by identifying unknown website user that show high interest in a hotel property or a specific offering from the hotel. Based on the interest and score, the visitor can be prompted with personalized newsletter invite. This approach has proven to massively increase the number of newsletter signups, something necessary for many hotels after recent introductions of privacy regulations like GDPR that eliminated a large part of the hotels marketable profiles due to lack of marketing consents.  The newly created newsletter subscription profiles are enriched with the interests and intent information from the IgnitionOne scoring engine monitoring the hotel website and can be used for marketing purpose complementing the historical data points already stored in Serenata CRM. With Serenata CRM and the real-time intent triggered personalization powered by IgntionOne you can deliver a true personalized experience for your guests and website visitors to drive incremental revenue. Integrator announcements HAPI announced it’s recent Salesforce integration following a 2-way oxy connect with Oracle’s PMS dailypoint™ - software made by Toedt, Dr. Selk & Coll. GmbH announced a data cleansing solution which allows hotels to automatically clean, correct, and de-duplicate their guest profiles and push that data back to the hotel’s PMS. The fully automated, AI-based process includes hundreds of steps, reviewing all key data points within the guest profile. It removes duplicate profiles, corrects mistakes made from human errors, corrects addresses for more than 240 countries and ultimately creates one single, accurate guest profile for each guest. This data is stored in the central data management solution by dailypoint™ as well as pushed to the hotel’s PMS so that data is accurate across all key sources. Operations Betterspace GmbH announced Smart Check-out feature with digital invoice and the Self-Ordering function, both for the digital guest directory iQ Tab.The Smart Check-Out enables guests to comfortably check out of the hotel and allows them to view and split their invoice digitally and receive it by e-mail. Thanks to this feature, long waiting lines at the reception desk are a thing of the past. Self-Ordering for the digital guest directory gives guests the opportunity to order food and drinks with the digital guest directory - without leaving the hotel room. Orders are sent directly to the hotel restaurant Both features simplify operational workflows, optimize processes and thus relieve staff and relax guests. This reduces administrative/bureaucratic efforts, saves time and money and the time saved can be devoted to what is important: hotel guests. Customer Alliance announced Customer Experience Hub extending their surveying capabilities from solely focused on post-stay reputation and review gathering into the full guest journey. The Customer Experience Hub allows hoteliers to customize automated messaging based on events through the guest journey to collect feedback and pipe it in real time to the department or team member who can act on it to recover fast, improve the guest experience and in-turn--improve review sentiment and gss scores. Travel Appeal announced Mobile Coach, a mobile app designed for on-the-go managers. By combining artificial intelligence with human experience, the Coach is able to detect even the most granular details from customer feedback. It’s the perfect solution for obtaining actionable insights about everything that really matters to a business. Review and operations  management, made simple. The Coach app not only improves and simplifies business strategies, but helps users manage and respond directly to customer feedback - reviews, posts and photos published by customers are
 delivered directly to your mobile. Uncover what your clients really think to offer the best experience and maximize satisfaction. Live updates and a seamless user experience allow managers to track competitors and monitor brand reputation while also collaborating and assigning tasks to staff members. hotelkit GmbH announced a HOUSEKEEPING module.  Their existing platform is used by over 40.000 hotel employees in more than 800 hotels worldwide. This new solution now focuses on all housekeeping needs and guarantees high-quality housekeeping standards through fully digitalized processes. Through an easy and modern paper-free task allocation, housekeeping processes are way more efficient. The workload can be distributed efficiently according to an employee's time and skill credits, thus, productivity is enhanced. Through digital checklists, quality standards are significantly high and the entire cleaning process can be monitored easily through real-time tracking. Smooth and efficient housekeeping routines are a crucial aspect in hotels, as cleanliness is particularly important when it comes to the guest decision making process. However, typical housekeeping processes within hotels are still highly inefficient. In order to be able to substantially increase guest satisfaction, hotelkit HOUSEKEEPING was developed together with several luxury hotels - among them the Sacher Hotel Vienna and Salzburg, and the Radisson Blu Hotel Hamburg Airport. As all processes are digitized, fast reactions, increased quality standards, and high guest satisfaction can be guaranteed! Knowcross announced PANIC BUTTON.  Hospitality workers are subjected to an inordinate amount of sexual harassment and abuse, which is why as a technology provider we considered the introduction of  Panic or Safety Buttons as our way of giving back to the industry. Panic buttons give hospitality workers the ability to summon assistance when needed. PANIC BUTTON helps hotels to provide a safer working environment by instant reporting of harassment complaints by hospitality workers by using technology such as GPS and Bluetooth. Guest Applications & Devices Criton announced multiple property group functionality which was piloted with London-based Cheval Residences became the first brand to adopt the new product. Created specifically for the hospitality sector, the new product gives accommodations providers with multiple properties a platform to include information on each one within a single parent app.  With locations across the capital city, luxury serviced apartment specialist Cheval Residences are the first group to adopt the new technology with eight of their luxury properties contained within their new app. Group functionality is a game-changer for multi-property organizations like Cheval; enabling them to showcase the unique personality of each property while reinforcing their brand, increasing direct bookings and driving loyalty from new and repeat guests. GuestTraction announced online check-in to reduce queuing at Front Desk by moving check-in to pre-arrival. More than a third of guests polled (38%) indicated that a source of frustration was the front desk taking too long to complete requests.  

Application Integrations and Cyber Security Will Make Hotels Hapi in 2020

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Hapi founder Luis Segredo and his partner Nikolai Balba are no strangers to the hotel technology world. After decades of entrepreneurial success in the hotel tech space - Segredo and Balba couldn't help but notice that 15% of IT budgets were being spent deploying, securing and supporting product integrations.  In 2017 the two launched their firm Hapi to solve this massive problem.  Hapi is a systems integrator that performs data streaming, application integrations and data enrichment.  The platform was designed to solve the hotel industry’s rapidly expanding data management challenges. Venture capitalists often point to three key variables that determine the probability of success for any given firm: market size, market timing and the the team.  Hapi has all three in spades.  Hapi was founded by two of the most successful entrepeneurs in the space and is operating at the convergence of the world's largest markets (travel, hospitality, technology).  Segredo previously founded MTech (creator of HotSOS operations software) and sold the business to hotel tech powerhouse Newmarket which eventually got rolled into Amadeus - so if anyone knows how to solve this complex problem - it’s Luis. The only thing that was missing when Balba and Segredo founded the business in 2017 was market timing. Today we're just days away from 2020. Cyber security and data integration problems are front and center for hotels across the globe.  Consequently, an industry that's notoriously slow to adopt technology and anticipate disruptive innovation is finally wising up.  Hapi recently closed a deal with Red Lion Hotels Corporation to leverage it's technology for data enrichment and security - a first for a major brand. Major hotel companies have been hit by a perfect storm: increased competition is coming from homesharing, supplier power has been obliterated by the OTAs and compliance expenses are through the roof with new regulations such as GDPR.  Adding fuel to the fire, industry behemoth Marriott was hit by the largest corporate hack in history which one just one in a slew of cyber security breaches in the hospitality industry lately. This may all sound like a doomsday scenario - but hoteliers are not alone in the fight.  Segredo has helped hotels fend off competition and adapt to changing market dynamics for the last three decades and has one thing to say: "Don't worry, be Hapi!" In 2017 The Economist announced that data had overtaken oil as the most world's most valuable resource.  The problem in our industry is that hotel data has historically been confined to the systems where those data sets were generated making it difficult to properly clean, standardize and transfer data across platforms rendering the lions share of that data relatively useless.  In recent years, hotel tech vendors have provided custom client integrations for an additional charge which is pretty standard fare in the software space.  Hoteliers claim that these integrations are too expensive but the reality is that they are expensive to create, service and maintain in legacy environments. Hapi provides the requisite integrations infrastructure needed to properly standardize and transfer data in an efficient, secure and cost effective way.  We've seen this model succeed in the broader software market with firms like Zapier and IFTTT and even in the restaurant software market with a firm like Omnivore. There's a huge opportunity in the hotel space to solve this pain point for both vendors and hoteliers We sat down with Segredo to talk about his career, vision for the company and how hotel companies can modernize their infrastructure to optimize for performance and security. HAPI founder Luis Segredo (also founder of Mtech)      Talk us through your entrepeneurial journey that resulted in systems integrator HAPI I started as an entrepreneur in my early twenties back in 1993. I grew the company, MTech, organically and internally funded it with a group of family and friends. We grew the company to about 2,500 customers in over 40 countries with our products, HotSOS and REX. In 2011, we finally sold MTech to Newmarket International. I stayed with Newmarket and was exposed to an organization ten times our size. Two years later Newmarket was purchased by Amadeus. My tenure with Amadeus lasted three years before the entrepreneurial bug started to bite me again. Research showed that 15% of hospitality IT budgets were being spent on deploying and supporting product integrations. The traditional point-to-point or even ESB approaches are time-consuming, expensive and constrain innovation. My partner, Nikolai Balba, and I saw this problem and believed that taking technology that has already been proven in other industries to our vertical’s challenge would free up resources and unlock innovation. We knew it could be a viable business, but we really started this out of passion - we just wanted to help solve the industry’s problem.   How does HAPI help hotels with application integrations in a secure environment? Let’s say that a hotel company wants to deploy a new, innovative BI tool and they need to connect their new provider with the multiple system providers that need to be integrated with the solution. The communications and development process take months and the ultimate implementation blows the budget in integration licenses. An alternative is for the hotel company to flow its data through the normalized streams created by Hapi. In this scenario, the new provider connects to Hapi and consumes data from thousands of hotels in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost, and each subsequent project is even more efficient. All the while, the hotel company remains in control of its data and has records of where it is going, enhancing relevance, as well as data privacy and compliance.   Who is one mentor that has really helped you scale the business? Laurent Idrac is a personal friend who was also the group CIO for Accor Hotels. He was the first person we approached with the Hapi story while he was at Accor.  He challenged us and gave feedback which has been instrumental in guiding our commercial approach.  He has continued to offer support and is working more closely with us since he left Accor.   What's one commonly held belief that most hoteliers believe to be true that actually is false? Hoteliers have few misconceptions about the interactions between vendors in our space. They have grown to expect the challenges and extra costs providers have to build best-of-breed integrated solutions. Hoteliers expect this cost to be passed on to them. This has been the reality. What we are creating is a new paradigm where the cost and time of developing the integrations is reduced by allowing developers to consume a singular connection type, rather than building integrations to each of the hundreds of PMS vendors. With Hapi, solutions can come to market faster and at a lower cost.   What's the most surprising thing you've learned about scaling technology into hotels since founding the business? My teams delivered SaaS solutions to the largest hotels in the world and to the largest groups, so I have witnessed most of the challenges of scaling technology into hotels. What is pleasantly surprising is to see the appetite that hotel companies have to undergo a digital transformation at the enterprise level. There is an acute understanding that their competitive landscape is changing and that past technology patterns could kill them.     Are there 1 or 2 companies in the community that have been a particularly good partners for you? Well, by our very nature, our aim is clearly to partner with all vendors in the industry. We want to free the industry from the mundane, yet expensive, effort of integration and allow them to focus on the value they create for hotels. We have two partners who have been excellent partners, and together they make for strange bed fellows. The first is Oracle. Oracle has gone through a great deal of change in the last few years, and it has strained relationships with many hotel and tech partners in the process. This has not been the case with us. While we could be viewed as having competing interests, Oracle has been an excellent partner, supportive of our mission to help hotels accelerate innovation. The support that we have received at all levels of the organization clearly shows that they want to move the industry forward. The other partner is Salesforce. A CRM powerhouse that is working hard to grow its footprint in hospitality, they have been instrumental in opening doors for us. They realize that we bring that last mile connectivity that unleashes the potential of the Salesforce offering. Here too, they have made somewhat competitive acquisitions, but they realize that productized integration knowledge is critical to successful implementations. Ours is a monumental challenge that we do not pretend to be able to tackle alone. We are essentially in the plumbing business. We don’t build applications. We only move the data. As such, we welcome everyone to build a connector to Hapi. Together, we can change our little part of the world for the better.   Where do you see HAPI in 5-years and how will the landscape change with the rise of systems integrators? In 5 years, we see a marketplace of solutions that can be deployed with ease for customers who have embraced our platform. We will amass hundreds of technology partners, while we are also using Hapi to help hotel companies solve their internal data challenges.  This category will evolve significantly in the next five years. It is currently in a nascent stage, addressing the issues created in today’s still highly fragmented model. Hundreds of providers are offering premise-based or hosted technologies that are not truly multitenant or cloud. This will continue to change. As it does, the challenge will not be accessing APIs as much as it will be controlling the movement of data in stricter regulatory environments and managing the far larger data sets. The technologies that we are using were created and refined at the tech companies that are further ahead than most hospitality companies, so Hapi will be ready for the challenge.