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16 Key Features to Look for in a Hotel Housekeeping Software

by
Luka Berger
1 day ago

When choosing a new hotel tech solution, Housekeeping software is definitely a more complex and delicate one. It impacts a department that represents the most significant operating costs center and at the same time has an impact on the most critical service quality of a hotel - cleanliness. Furthermore, staff members that use housekeeping software might not be as tech-savvy as others, which means the chosen solution must be highly user-friendly. The key here is to find housekeeping software that, in the first place, caters to housekeepers to make their job easier while also delivering all needed KPIs for the hotel and its management. With that in mind, let’s look at 16 key features that your chosen housekeeping software has to offer. 1. Automated daily housekeeping schedules: Creating daily housekeeping schedules is the first task every housekeeping manager has to do in the morning. It is also one of the most time-consuming tasks that can take up to 1h and 30 mins per day. To make a daily room cleaning schedule, housekeeping managers must juggle different room types, occupancies, guests, and their extra wishes. Then they have to distribute all that complexity in a way that makes sure that housekeepers have their work cut out equally between themselves. It is a task that can be simply automated and executed in only a second by good housekeeping software, saving up to 100% of the time. 2. Future scheduling of housekeeping staff and their schedules: The housekeeping department is one of the most significant contributors to the costs side of the P&L so having your housekeeping schedules optimized and planned out for the future is vital. Good housekeeping software will have this covered and will enable you to automatically schedule housekeepers and daily schedules as far in the future as you have booked reservations. 3. Real-time updates about reservations and guests: Real-time updates about changes to reservations and guests are essential pieces of information that housekeepers need. If guests move between rooms, shorten or prolong their stay, check-in or out of a room, all of this needs to be promptly communicated to housekeepers. This way they are not losing time by moving around the hotel figuring out which room they can clean next. More importantly, they are disturbing guests with the famous SOP that goes: Knock, knock, housekeeping. 4. Training pictures, checklists, and video SOPs: If you want to maintain high standards and quality of your housekeeping team’s work, you have to equip them with knowledge. Pictures, digital housekeeping SOP’s and checklists are three of the most important and effective training tools you can provide your housekeepers with. Again, good housekeeping software will provide all of these tools, making it easy for your housekeepers to double-check if they have completed all necessary tasks to the highest standard. 5. Lost & Found management: Guests forget things all the time. That means that hotel staff, especially housekeepers, have to manage lost and found items all the time. Recording, storing, managing, and updating information about lost and found objects can be very time-consuming, or it can be effortless through a housekeeping software tool. 6. The ability to easily report maintenance issues: Your housekeepers are the absolute crucial source of information for promptly catching and fixing maintenance issues in hotel rooms. The difference between making it easy or hard for housekeepers to report these issues can mean the difference between a happy and unhappy guest. But also the difference between high and low (preventive) maintenance costs. Quick and easy maintenance issue reporting is one of the absolute vital features your housekeeping and maintenance staff need to get within housekeeping software. 7. Team communication for daily updates and extra tasks: Like in any other organization, a hotel team (including the housekeeping department) needs to communicate to stay updated about ongoing daily events and do their work efficiently. On top of that, housekeepers need to deliver many ad hoc guest service requests, like extra towels, pillows, birthday gifts, etc. A real-time task management and team communication feature covers this area perfectly, and it needs to be a part of the chosen housekeeping software. 8. A pre-arrival housekeeping room inspection: This is the most important quality assurance measure for room cleanliness and consequent guest satisfaction. A detailed room inspection can easily have over one hundred steps to check to ensure the room is spotless. Digital checklists make all the difference here. When something needs fixing, the housekeeping software will send an automatic task to the responsible person without the need to make extra notes or phone calls. The best part is that every inspection you do is automatically transformed into detailed, actionable analytics to improve staff training, processes, and the overall quality of work. 9. Automated linen counting: In case your linen management approach relies on counting the number of linens and towels that have gone to the washing room, you have to look for an automated linen counting feature. It is one of the easiest and most effective ways to make this process more accurate and efficient and save your housekeeping team a lot of time (up to 2 hours per day) 10. Minibar reporting: Another feature that drives efficiency and saves costs is enabling your housekeepers to post minibar consumption directly to the guests’ accounts. It fastens the information flow about minibar consumption, makes it easy and more efficient to restock the minibar, and, most importantly - lowers the value of the lost postings. It is also one of the fastest and easiest ways to gain analytics about your guests’ behavior and preferences related to your minibar menu. 11. Integrated language translations for staff communication: The bigger the hotel, the bigger the number of different nationalities in the housekeeping team. The challenge that comes along with this is that housekeeping managers do not have a way to communicate with their housekeepers, who often don’t speak the local language. So having an integrated language translation feature that translates any task or message into the housekeeper's native language is an absolute must for any modern housekeeping software solution. 12. PMS integrationIntegrating housekeeping software and a Property Management System (PMS) is probably one of the most value-adding integrations in the hotel software industry. The PMS provides housekeeping software with regular updates regarding reservations and guests, enabling housekeeping teams to maximize their performance. The other way around,  housekeeping software is the source of updates on all things daily operations, feeding these back to the PMS system and the front office team. It’s an integration that enables the whole hotel team to stay up to date and operate more efficiently. 13. Smart room integration: If you have an intelligent system in place that lets you know when a guest is in the room, if a window is open, or even more information, then make sure your chosen housekeeping software can integrate with it. Data like these can mean that your housekeeping team will further optimize their daily work process and ensure guests are never disturbed. 14. Housekeeper oriented user interface (UI): Housekeepers are often not the most tech-savvy people because their job position does not include a lot of technology. That’s why it’s so important that the housekeeping software they use is as simple as possible. It should make their work easier and save them time. Too often, housekeepers have to do extra steps just to update a room status. But if the chosen solution is not catering to housekeepers, they won’t know how to use it, or worse, they will not want to use it. That means your hotel won’t get all the benefits from the software and there will be a lose-lose situation. Keep your housekeepers in mind and make sure your housekeeping software has the most easy-to-use interface that makes their lives easier. 15. Room status updates: When all the work is done - mark the room as clean. Or as inspected. Or any other status if you might have a multi-step cleaning process. Of course, it is a default feature of any housekeeping software. 16. (Actionable) Housekeeping analytics: Housekeeping analytics is not just about knowing how long it takes to clean a room. They need to provide detailed information from all possible angles to understand your housekeeping department’s actual performance. For example, how long it takes to clean a room doesn’t tell you a lot if you also don’t know how many guests were staying in that room, where they were from if they had small children with them, or used extra amenities. Also, who was the housekeeper cleaning the room, what were their most frequent cleaning mistakes? And then you need to receive all of this information in the form of proactive and precise reports, enabling you to understand which of your staff need more training, what amenities are requested more frequently, who is not doing his job, and essentially - how well your operations are performing.    

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ALICE Front of House: An Integrated Guest Services and Communication Platform

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

As a hotelier, you know that the process to deliver excellent service is very different today than it was just a few years ago. In the pre-COVID era, perhaps your hotel was buzzing with business travelers, and you had plenty of staff available to assist with any guest request. Contactless service wasn’t the norm yet, so your staff had to be hands-on with everything from check-in to check-out. You might have even had a full team of front desk agents, concierges, and PBX operators with clearly defined roles. Fast forward to today, and your hotel probably looks and feels very different. Business travel hasn’t fully rebounded yet, and it might never reach pre-2020 levels. Your hotel is likely relying on a larger share of leisure guests, who can be more demanding than the corporate road warriors. Your team is probably smaller too; many hotels were forced to downsize and streamline roles when the pandemic hit. Now that hoteliers are hiring again, many can’t fill their open roles due to workforce shortages. And the way you deliver service has changed. Guests today are less comfortable with face-to-face interaction, so your hotel might be trying to pivot toward contactless, tech-forward solutions for communication and operations. How can your hotel adapt to and thrive amid these new challenges and expectations? We spoke with ​​Dmitry Koltunov, ALICE’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, and got a sneak peek into ALICE’s new Front of House, an integrated solution for front-of-house staff like front desk agents and concierges. In hotels where staff wear many hats and juggle more tasks than ever, ALICE’s new solution can help front office teams deliver five-star service, communicate efficiently, and even drive profitability. How does it work? Let’s explore ALICE Front of House.   ALICE Front of House at a Glance All-in-one communication and task management platform that combines functionality for front desk agents, PBX operators, and concierges in one central place Messaging tool for social media, SMS, and in-app communication, eliminating the need to monitor multiple inboxes Ticketing system for internal requests to ensure follow-through Concierge-style database of local recommendations and branded itinerary-building tools Logs to understand and track each step in the guest journey Opportunities to drive ancillary revenue, upgrades, and upsells to increase profitability  Technology to enable staff to deliver high-touch, personalized service in a more efficient manner   All-in-One Solution for Front Office Staff If your staff handles communication with guests in one (or more) systems, guest requests in another, and concierge activities in yet another system, then you might appreciate the structure of ALICE Front of House. The software combines these three functions into one platform that can manage all front office activities. ALICE Front of House offers functionality for front desk agents, PBX, and concierges, but even if your hotel doesn’t have those distinct roles, you’ll still find value in it. The system is designed for hotels with limited staff who need to perform a variety of duties throughout their shifts, such as actioning a guest’s request for more towels, booking a restaurant reservation, and responding to a text from a future guest.. ALICE recognizes that the front desk experience is evolving, and guests expect to get high-quality service from anywhere in the hotel. And, they expect it to be delivered virtually - not only from a staff member behind the physical front desk. ALICE Front of House is built to free guest services from the confines of the front desk; with this system, front desk staff can fulfill requests submitted from guests’ smartphones, respond to social media and SMS messages, and help a guest purchase tour tickets while chatting with them on the pool deck.   Comprehensive Inbox for all Messaging Channels ALICE Front of House allow your staff to communicate with guests across all channels in one consolidated inbox. The inbox can handle SMS, social media, and messages sent from within the guest-facing ALICE dashboard. Users can see full conversation history allowing conversations to continue seamlessly across shifts and communication channels. Teams don’t need to worry about forgetting to respond to a message.   Ticketing System Turn Conversations into Tasks In studying usage of ALICE’s existing guest messaging tool, the team noticed that messages from guests often required follow-up by another department. As Dmitry explains, “guests were no longer simply asking for information about the hotel. A messaging conversation would usually lead to a request being made, and effectively delivering on that request would make or break the guest experience.” ALICE Front of House leverages ALICE Service Delivery as a ticketing module for efficient task management and accountability. For example, if a guest sends a message to request extra coffee pods in their room, the front desk agent who receives that message can create a task for the housekeeping team to deliver the coffee pods to the guest’s room. The housekeeping team receives the request and acts on it, and the housekeeper who completed the request marks it as complete in the system. The front desk team can also receive a notification that the task has been completed so they can inform the guest. Without such a system in place, the front desk agent might need to call or radio the housekeeping team about the request, opening an opportunity for human error or miscommunications. ALICE Front of House ensures follow-through and stores task data for reporting purposes, too.   Allow Any Staff Member to Deliver Concierge Services Although many hotels have scaled down concierge service in the wake of the pandemic, guests still crave tailored service and assistance planning their trips. Dmitry notes that “concierge services in hotels are still in demand, but asynchronous messaging is becoming the new luxury. People still want to feel like they are being cared for, but they do not want that to affect their personal time or space.” Guests want to be in control of how and when they interact with staff. They don’t want to have to pick up the phone or wait in line at the front desk. To satisfy these new guest preferences, ALICE Front of House enables any staff member to provide concierge services and lets staff help multiple guests at one time through asynchronous communication. ALICE’s Guest Services module houses a database of local recommendations and integrations with OpenTable and Local. This module can also produce branded itineraries, which staff can easily send via the messaging module through the guest’s preferred communication channel. By giving staff members the tools to curate a personalized itinerary and communicate with guests how and when they prefer, you can foster deeper relationships with guests and increase overall satisfaction at your property.   Logs Provide Insight into Each Step of the Guest Experience As you can see from the Guest Messaging, Guest Services, and Service Delivery modules of ALICE Front of House, the guest journey involves many different touchpoints and interactions with several staff members. How can you see a bird’s-eye view of the guest’s stay? The logs created in ALICE Front of House can give you an accurate picture of the guest experience from beginning to end. Not only is this data important for analytical purposes, like to study how many requests your team completes on a weekly basis, but you can also pinpoint where and why a guest might have had a subpar experience, so that you can improve for future stays. For instance, if a guest left a negative review after check-out because they were upset that nobody replaced the broken TV in their room, you could review the messages exchanged between the guest and your team and learn that no rooms with the same bed types were available to move the guest to, so your front desk manager offered the guest a $50 F&B credit as compensation for the inconvenience. Without an integrated system to track these types of messages and requests, it would be much harder to find opportunities for improvement and trends in the guest experience.   Revenue-Boosting Tools for Upgrades and Upsells Responding to guest messages might seem like simple administrative work, but ALICE Front of House shows that you can actually leverage guest messaging as a tool to capture incremental revenue. As demonstrated in their case study with Clarion Hotel The Hub in Oslo, Norway, ALICE proved that strategic use of messages can lead to an uplift not only in revenue, but also in loyalty and review scores. In the midst of the pandemic, The Hub started sending personalized text messages after guests arrived to ask if they needed anything to make their stay more enjoyable. The Hub’s team created special add-on packages, like a Date Night package with a bottle of wine and a Lazy Mornings package with breakfast delivery, which guests could purchase. Over the course of the summer months of 2020, after implementing this strategy, The Hub had generated $1.3 million in ancillary revenue through these packages, which were only advertised via SMS.   Deliver High-Touch and Personalized Service A common misconception about implementing technology in hotels is that technology will totally replace warm, personalized service. Actually, the opposite is true! When hotels use technology like ALICE Front of House, staff can deliver better service because they can manage guest relationships and interactions more efficiently. Dmitry explains that “there is a massive opportunity for hotels in getting this right. Rather than automating the relationship, there is an opportunity to deepen it.” By leveraging tools like guest messaging and request assignments, your staff can ensure nothing slips through the cracks and that every guest enjoys seamless service from pre-arrival to post-stay. As you work through staff shortages, budget constraints, and changing guest expectations, technology can also help your staff do more with less. Curious to see how ALICE Front of House can enhance your guest experience? Give it a try today.   This content was created collaboratively by ALICE and Hotel Tech Report

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Google's Free Hotel Booking Links: Here's What You Need to Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Wondering how to get more direct bookings without a massive advertising budget? Google recently announced that hoteliers can get free links in their hotel metasearch results. Perhaps this is the first time you’ve heard about this free listing program, or maybe you’re looking for more information on the benefits and risks.  In this article, we’ll explain exactly what Google’s free hotel booking links mean, how you can set them up, and what potential advantages and disadvantages the program brings. Millions of guests begin their travel research by seeking out the best rate via Google search and free booking link integration partners are going to be featured front and center in this new feature to drive more business through their direct channel without needing to pay for Google ads.  By the end of this article, you’ll know how to proceed, whether or not you’ve used Google Hotel Ads in the past.   What are Google’s Free Hotel Booking Links? Let’s take a step back and explain Google Hotel Ads, the official name for Google’s metasearch product. When you search for a specific hotel on Google, you’ll see results that show rates and availability, similar to what you would see on another price comparison site like Kayak or Trivago. These results pull in rates and availability for the given hotel from online travel agencies like Booking.com and Expedia, plus the hotel’s own website might appear. These results are Google Hotel Ads, with the exception of free hotel booking links, which we’ll explain in a moment.     In the metasearch module, which is where you can see the rates and availability from the various sites, you can plug in dates and the number of guests to get accurate pricing and availability.     So how do the OTAs appear in these results? How is the order of sites determined? The simple answer is that the OTAs pay to play in Google’s metasearch results. Expedia and Booking.com spend billions of dollars each year bidding on placement in these results by bidding on the best position and paying a cost per click, which is usually between $1 and $3. For many small, independent hoteliers, metasearch was an expensive marketing avenue, and some hotels opted to skip it because they couldn’t compete with the OTAs’ deep pockets. However, that all changed when Google announced their free booking links program in March 2021, which gave hoteliers a chance to participate in metasearch without the ad spend requirement. Now, hoteliers can include a link to their direct booking engine in the Google metasearch results with no cost per click. The free links usually show below the paid OTA links, so shoppers might need to click “View more rates” to see them, but sometimes they do appear in the top four links.     How Can You Take Advantage of Google’s Free Hotel Booking Links? Google is quickly becoming a powerful player in the online travel marketplace. For hotels who participate in metasearch, it’s not uncommon for Google to make up 90% of their metasearch production, surpassing the production of other sites like Tripadvisor and Trivago. There’s no denying that Google is a huge source of traffic, so you’re probably wondering how you can set up free hotel booking links for your hotel. The good news is that configuring your free hotel booking links is pretty straightforward when you use one of Google’s preferred connectivity vendors. First, you need to ensure that you have claimed and verified your hotel’s Google My Business listing. The Google My Business listing is the same as your Google Maps listing. You can easily claim the listing online on business.google.com. If you need to verify the listing, you will likely need to complete a verification process over the phone or by verifying receipt of a postcard that Google sends to your property’s address.     Once you’ve claimed and verified your GMB listing, then you can work with your connectivity vendor (your channel manager or property management system) to link your hotel’s rates and availability with Google. Google has partnered with dozens of systems, like Sabre, Siteminder, and protel, and the complete list is available here. Your specific software will have their own connection process, but it’s usually quick and easy. After you’ve completed the connection, you will be able to see your rates and availability in Google’s metasearch results - no ad campaign needed. Do you already use Google Hotel Ads? Then you can also take advantage of the free booking links. Google allows hotels to run both paid ads and free booking links, so you can double your exposure in the results. You’ll only pay for clicks on your ad link, while clicks on the free booking link are totally free.   Benefits of Using Free Hotel Booking Links on Google Hotels that leverage Google’s free booking links can realize several key benefits: more visibility to potential guests, more direct bookings, and potentially lower marketing costs. It’s no secret that a lot of travelers end up on Google at some point in their travel booking process. You can think of Google as another shelf where you can showcase your product, just as Booking.com, Expedia, and Tripadvisor serve the same purpose. By maintaining a presence on Google, you can ensure your hotel is visible to all those potential guests who search for your local area or your hotel. Another compelling benefit of using Google’s free booking links is that you can better compete with the big OTAs. Google’s search results puts your hotel’s direct site on a relatively equal playing field as the Booking.coms and Expedias of the world. Although you probably won’t convert all your OTA guests to direct guests overnight, it’s likely that some guests will choose to book direct if your rates are equal (or better) that OTA rates and your direct site is just a click away. Finally, if you already spend on Google Hotel Ads, or if you use other cost-per-click tools like Expedia’s TravelAds or Tripadvisor’s Sponsored Placement, then you might be able to scale down those paid programs if you see strong performance from Google’s free booking links. Finding the right balance between ad platforms can help you decrease your marketing spend while generating more direct bookings.   Considerations of Google’s Free Hotel Booking Links Although there are plenty of reasons to use Google’s free hotel booking links, it’s not a perfect program. Some potential downsides include the requirement to use one of Google’s preferred connectivity vendors, the lack of control over your placement and ad strategy, and implications of out-of-parity rates. While it makes sense why Google would limit their hotel connections to channel managers that they’ve vetted, so they can scale the program more efficiently, this requirement leaves hoteliers out of options if you don’t use one of their preferred vendors or if you don’t use any channel manager at all. On the flip side, if you’ve been considering switching to a new channel manager, assessing their Google connection options might help your decision. Although we recognize the huge value of the free booking links, it’s worth noting that hoteliers have no control over the visibility that these links receive. Unlike Google’s paid Hotel Ads, which allow you to adjust bids for specific travel dates, you’ll have no control or insight into your links’ performance. If you want to push visibility during need periods, you don’t have any levers to pull to make your free booking links appear in results more often or higher in the ranking. Finally, another potential downside of using Google’s free booking links is the can make out-of-parity rates more obvious. We all know that some OTAs are notorious for undercutting your direct rates, and nothing is more frustrating that seeing your OTA rates and direct rates side-by-side when your own website is more expensive. Sometimes it can be nearly impossible to get in touch with the OTA or wholesaler that is undercutting, and during any periods when your direct site is not in parity, you could actually lose share of direct bookings. But all things considered, Google’s free hotel booking links are a great option for hoteliers who want to increase visibility on Google and increase direct booking volume. Since the setup process is relatively easy, and the program doesn’t cost anything, the benefits can outweigh the potential downsides of this new marketing channel.

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Exploring Long-Stay Travel in a Post-Pandemic Remote Work World

by
Sandra Holland
4 days ago

For hotels, 2020 felt like a seemingly endless year.   Aside from plummeting room stays and a major hit on hoteliers’ bottom lines, the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the entirety of hospitality and the experience customers have come to expect.  In the new year, resuming operations then becomes an opportunity to pivot strategy and identify upcoming trends. In particular, the increase of long-stay travellers is a trend that has shaped many facets of the hospitality sphere today. With the ability to work remotely and a desire for new and engaging environments - honing in on long-stay guests shows a promising return. In this article, we share the best practices hoteliers can use to propel hotel offerings in order to meet changing customer expectations and encourage new bookings with long-stay travellers.   Keep Comfort Top Of Mind For many long-stay guests, your hotel will become their home away from home. The level of comfort and safety they feel will translate into their level of satisfaction. As you strategize your hotel reopening, keep comfort and “home-stay” top of mind. Consider open-concept spaces with cozy decor, adequate lighting, personal touches in guest rooms, and more. Not only will a cozy atmosphere create a warm invite for long-stay guests, but consistent comfort and a friendly ambiance encourages retention.   Attentive & Available Staff Employees hold a prominent role in the overall satisfaction of your guests - after all, they interact with your hotel patrons daily.  As you resume operations with an increased capacity, make sure you have enough staff to effectively care for the number of guest inquiries. Your employees should be enthusiastic about coming to work, readily available on multiple channels of communication and equipped with the knowledge to answer guest questions. In most instances, long-stay guests will be travelling from abroad. Therefore it’s important that employees make the adjustment to their new surroundings seamless. Be proactive and have your employees offer information such as; the nearest bus station, proximity to grocery stores, parking facilities, and more. In addition, be ready for questions on an array of channels. WhatsApp for example is the largest messaging app in the world and holds preference with the majority of international travellers. Having employees available on WhatsApp can make connecting simple whether on or off the property.   Offer A Functional Experience It’s evident that the needs of a short stay guest are vastly different than a long-stay one. While a short-stay guest might prefer a swimming pool or excursion recommendations, long-stay guests will look for more practical features in their accommodation. Functional traits like a kitchenette in-room, having a desk where they can work, parking spaces, pet-friendly accommodations, and sufficient outlets should all be considered. In addition to generic qualities, you should also consider the average guest and things they would look for. For instance, if students make up most of your long-stay travellers, offer accessible WiFi. If your long-stay guests are made up of workers, offer complimentary coffee in the morning or accessible outlets throughout the property. It’s important to keep in mind that while having the latest and greatest is nice, long-stay travellers prefer simple qualities that make the experience functional for living their everyday lives.   Customer-Driven & Long Term Advocacy  When it comes down to it, running a successful hotel requires a customer-focused mindset.  Getting to know the customer and understanding the preferences that can make or break the experience.  Especially at the height of COVID-19, being more conscious of policies and making amendments to specific hotel regulations is key. For instance, in a recent study, it was reported that “those travelling for work, including remote work, expressed strong preferences for what they want, [including] flexible cancellation options, that offer the ability to extend their stay and that offer flexible 24/7 check-in”. While we highlight flexible policies as a primary consideration, your individual property will also have more specific guest preferences. To discover what you should offer or modify, make it a point to converse with guests regularly, ask for feedback and send surveys to understand particular needs. When you understand the guest, you can then focus on the traits that enhance the experience, such as; Day passes to a nearby coworking space for professionals, discounted bus passes for students, free childcare for families and discounts on excursions.   Provide Co-Working Accommodations Since the majority of long-stay travellers are the result of flexible work environments, a critical consideration should be the implementation of co-working spaces or communal lounges. This can be as simple as modifying current spaces in your hotel to include desks, or as complex as renovating an entire space. In addition to this, gestures such as offering comfortable desks with outlets, swivel television monitors, rentable office spaces, complimentary pens and paper stacks, printing services and more can make all the difference in guest satisfaction.   Customer Conscious Amenities  Even before the pandemic, amenities had always played a crucial role in hotel selection and guest satisfaction. Both for short-stay and long-stay guests, it’s important to get an overall understanding of what customers look for and what can sway their booking. One obvious but very critical amenity offering includes a strong WiFi connection. According to eHotelier, “WiFi is one of the main factors in selecting a property”. Most long-term travellers are working from their room or frequently connecting with family and friends, so it’s important that your WiFi can sustain video calls. Health and wellness is also a growing trend in the present and post-COVID era. Consider elevating your gym and ensuring it’s maintained. Encourage usage with free passes, a coupon for a smoothie at a local shop or classes that keep customers engaged. Lastly, complimentary breakfast and parking have always been top amenities for swaying a guest booking. However, you can still go the extra mile. Ask your guests what breakfast meals they prefer and switch between preferences. Offer visitor parking for friends and colleagues or share popular restaurants and cafes nearby. When you add a personal touch, you improve satisfaction and increase the likelihood of repeat visits.   Final Thoughts COVID-19 has undoubtedly shaped the world of hospitality as we know it. Changing customer preferences, provoking more effective operations and encouraging more modern and health-friendly technology. And as more and more people vie for a change in environment, the desire for more long-stay accommodations is here to stay. Catering to this cohort then becomes integral to encourage new bookings and boosting bottom lines. As you move through the motions of the post-pandemic world, remember to account for the customer experience. Revaluation and modifications to hotel strategies are part of the process and will help you evolve for a more sustainable future.  

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Automating Hotel Operations from the Lens of Hotel Owner and Tech Startup Founder Amelia Gain

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

Savvy hoteliers today view the PMS as “mission control” of their operations; with the right technology in place, a hotel can run more efficiently while enabling staff to craft the ideal guest experience. Preno is part of a new wave of hotel management systems designed to enhance and support hotel operations with intuitive interfaces and handy automated features that reduce the need for manual work - a far cry from the limited, enigmatic systems of the 1990s and early 2000s. In this article, we’ll introduce you to Preno’s co-founder and CEO, Amelia Gain, and explain how a modern PMS like Preno can transform your hotel’s operations and meet the expectations of today’s guests. Want to hear it straight from the expert? Scroll down to read the full transcript of our interview with Amelia. Amelia started Preno alongside co-founder and CTO Max Podolian in 2015, although it wasn’t Amelia’s first venture in the technology and hospitality worlds. Amelia studied IT in college, giving her a solid foundation for a career in technology. Amelia later embarked on a new adventure, purchasing a small, independent hotel where she felt the challenges of using the legacy technology that they had inherited from previous ownership. In our interview, Amelia explains how she “went on a long search and trialled every PMS available at the time,” but she couldn’t find one that was user-friendly, transparent with pricing and contracts, and integrated with other on-site systems. Knowing there could (and should) be a better alternative, Amelia partnered with her college classmate, Max, to build Preno, drawing on both her background in IT and her personal experience as a hotelier. Preno officially launched in 2015 with the goal to provide an autopilot platform for hoteliers that eliminates time-consuming administrative tasks. The company prides itself on being built by hoteliers, for hoteliers which allows their software to be most relevant and useful for owners, operators, and managers of small, independent hotels.   Shifting expectations and possibilities for hotel technology When Amelia started working at her own hotel, she recalls “I didn’t understand why hoteliers should have to deal with confusing software systems when modern cloud technology could make it so much more effortless.” This was Amelia’s motivation for starting Preno: technology was preventing hoteliers like herself from delivering exceptional guest service. In the early days of property management systems, they essentially functioned as reservations databases which were only slightly more efficient than organizing paper reservations in file cabinets, and despite the incredible advancement in technology, the humble PMS hadn’t changed much in a couple of decades. Today, reservation management is just one feature of many you’ll find in a modern PMS. A 21st-century PMS will not only allow you to manage reservations and guest profiles, but it can also accept online reservations through a booking engine you can add to your website and connect your rates and inventory to third-party channels with global reach. A modern PMS will power back-office tasks like payment processing and invoicing, and thanks to integrations with complementary systems, many PMS’ will also eliminate duplicative work by piping data between various on-site software. For example, Preno’s integration with Xero, an accounting system, enables hoteliers to automatically generate invoices based on data from reservations in the PMS. Without this integration, employees would have to manually type up the invoices, risking manual errors and wasted time. In addition, a modern PMS should be easy to use. While out of date legacy systems might require extensive training, lengthy contract negotiations, and frequent updates, a cloud-based system like Preno is both easy to access from anywhere and designed to be as user-friendly as possible. This seamless user experience means less time spent on training and more time spent building relationships with guests.   Travelers want a tech-forward experience with a personal connection It’s not just hoteliers and employees who realize the benefits of a modern property management system; today’s travelers expect technology that smoothes pain points in the traditional guest experience. In addition, in light of the pandemic, as guests increasingly prefer a contactless experience, technology can be a powerful tool to craft your desired guest experience. At the same time, as some of Preno’s customer success stories illustrate, adopting modern technology at your hotel doesn’t mean you’ll lose a personal connection with your guests; in fact it does the opposite - Preno’s technology frees up time so that you can spend more time with guests.   -- Want to learn more about modern hotel technology and Amelia’s vision for Preno? -- Read our interview with Preno’s co-founder and CEO Amelia Gain below Tell us about your career background in hotels. I was studying IT before going into owning and running a hotel with my sister. My sister was initially the one with a background in hospitality, and working for hotels when we first went into the venture. However, together with that mix of skills, we made a great team. Working in a hotel, I was surprised how much I liked creating amazing guest experiences, meeting with guests, working with our team each day and spending time improving our internal systems. What I disliked was the hours of repetitive admin tasks, the double handling of data, and dealing with the existing tools we inherited when taking over the property. That’s when I started to think about developing better tools that would help me and my team. When did you first become interested in leveraging technology to become a better hotelier? I think given my background in studying IT, it was from the first month of being at the property. Once I understood the current systems and challenges, I started to look for and develop solutions. I didn’t understand why hoteliers should have to deal with confusing software systems when modern cloud technology could make it so much more effortless. I started with tech and went into hotels, then came back to tech! I studied IT (with my now co-founder Max), but I had always wanted to go into business with my sister. Her background was in hospitality, so when we had an opportunity to buy a unique hotel, we jumped at it. It was a beautiful hotel, however, we worked really hard. We put in a lot of creativity when creating the guest experiences we offered, and we surround ourselves with an amazing team who are equally as passionate. The one thing that was not helping us were the tools and software we had at hand to manage our property. So the idea for Preno came about. I sought software expertise from my University friend Max to go into developing this with me. From there, Preno has flourished into what it is today - a powerful hotel management software that provides an autopilot platform for hoteliers. What was one technology that you couldn't live without when running your hotel business? Xero accounting software - it’s easy to use and a comprehensive accounting tool. I had no background in accounting and the hotel was my first business. With Xero, I could still jump in and do all the day-to-day accounts, without any prior experience with accounting. Xero’s intuitive software design inspired me to create something similar for hoteliers. As a hotelier what was your biggest frustration with technology? Where do I start - when my sister and I took over the hotel, we inherited a legacy system that was very frustrating. I then went on a long search and trialled every PMS available at the time. What I found is that they were disconnected from our accounting tool and other key tools we used, overly complex, required far too much manual administration, and were generally just hard to use. The ease of use was important as with the complicated systems, this meant extra time training new team members. Important to me was the support as my business was not 9am to 5pm 5 days per week. The hotel industry is a 24/7 operation. Other tools were also not transparent on pricing and had a whole lot of hidden costs - they would try and lock you into very long contracts and the whole experience lacked any care for my business.  What would you say is the most widely held misconception that hoteliers have about technology? I think one of the most widely held misconceptions that hoteliers have about technology, is the need to be using “flashy” tech (physical kiosks, hotel TV systems etc). I personally believe that some types of hotel technology are not well-thought-out about how they fit with the guest experience. Often some of those tools, and where they’re used, add no value to the guest stay and can make workflows complex for the team. What was the most challenging part of moving from hotels into technology? I feel like with any business there are challenges. Running a hotel has parts that are challenging, just as there are challenges to running a software company. With a tech company, you’re constantly pushing to get out new products that add even more value to customers, break into new markets and see further growth. The challenges you can face are so varied and are at a fast pace. This energy is actually what I enjoy and it motivates me. I’m fortunate that I have an incredible team, so we’re always sharing ideas and I never face these challenges alone. For those in our community who may not be familiar, tell us about Preno. Preno is a hotel management software that works like magic. It’s the autopilot for short term accommodation properties saving them up to 10+ hours per week on average. There are over 7000 hoteliers currently using Preno in over 25 countries and we’re very passionate as a team in seeing our hoteliers succeed. We love being able to support hoteliers with an effortless, stress-free system - especially during uneasy times like during the current pandemic. You work with a lot of hoteliers, which properties or operators are innovating ahead of the pack? I think the common theme among all three properties that come to mind is that they all have a strong mission that they’re passionate about, they’re giving back to their local communities, and the experience they offer is unique to their property and part of the world. Change Overnight Hotel (Australia) has a unique business model that I believe we will see a lot more of. A converted warehouse, it’s bright and has a lot of personalities. But it’s their mission and purpose which sets it apart. When a guest stays at Change Overnight, each night of their stay comes with the opportunity to give back to one of the hotel’s carefully chosen charities. It has become so popular, initial funding targets to give back to the local and global charities were smashed!  Maruia River Retreat (New Zealand) is run by very caring operators who felt the impact of Covid-19 strongly. This pivoted into what they care about most - mental well-being. Not only is Maruia River Retreat a beautiful property, located in a stunning natural landscape, the experiences they have on hand are unique to them. They host yoga workshops, writing retreats and more. The owners are passionate about the experiences they have on offer and this shines through.Aura Accommodation (New Zealand) is run by two friends who love their town, went into owning and running a motel. They refurbished the motel at a low cost, resulting in a property that is fun, tidy and comfortable. The team at Aura make sure the property is closely connected with their local community, through activities and events that bring a lot of energy. They shifted procedures and suppliers to be environmentally friendly and supported local charities that were important to their team. Imagine that you're going to open the hotel of your dreams tomorrow.  What kind of hotel would it be? I would love to get back into running hotels someday! The focus these days is on giving unique guest experiences at any price point. So I would want an accommodation business in any of the market segments, as long as the experience is meaningful, fun, unique and sustainable. My passion has always been for independent hotels, as there is a lot of freedom, you get to develop your own brand that you believe in. In terms of size, I’ve not thought too much about it, as I would love a property with 10 rooms, but would be just as passionate if it had 200 rooms, so long as I had a great team to work with. A name; how about “Preno Stays”!  What technology would you leverage at your hotel?  Tell us what the perfect tech stack would be and why? I would choose Preno All-in-one (because it’s the best) as my main tool, Lightspeed for my Point of Sale, Xero for accounting and Stripe for payment gateway. I’m a fan of Goki, so I would add that in the mix too. What's one piece of advice you have for hoteliers who have dreams of working in tech? If you’re looking to be a founder of a new startup developing a product, test and validate your idea with a lot of people (ideally the target market) as early as possible. You do not need to build a product to test your idea. Have a clear idea of your ideal customer profile. Make sure you connect and talk to other founders or people in tech, share your ideas and challenges. There are a lot of meetups you can find online and this is the best way to explore ideas with a friendly and passionate group.  What is the most exciting technology you've seen in the hotel tech space that is not built by Preno? Why? Our team is really excited about our new integration with Goki. For years I’ve been looking for the right keylock technology that fits our market. Not only do the Goki locks look great and are easy for guests to use, but they’re affordable and can be self-installed. The big bonus is that you do not have to replace all the door locks in your hotel. With Goki connected with Preno, it can automate check-in’s and provide guests with access to their unit/room using just their phone or a code.  Fast forward 5-years, how will the hotel tech stack be different from today? My vision for tech in hotels is that the technology is invisible, but is a powerful engine that automates activity for the operator. The guest arrives and the stay is seamless and effortless. In fact, their stay is so good that they never even think about the technology driving it, it seems organic. I do not see the point of removing all human components, it’s what sets hotels apart from Airbnb, but the human interactions are all value-adding - making it an even better stay, with no repetitive admin tasks.    This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.

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14 Vacation Rental Industry Statistics that You Won't Believe

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

We probably don’t need to tell you that vacation rentals play a major part in the travel ecosystem these days. Airbnb and its peers showed homeowners that their real estate could be monetized by selling rooms to short term renters like hotels and it created a whole new market for travel as vacation homes soon became available to the masses on a short term basis. What started as a niche product for family reunions or vacations with groups of friends has turned mainstream, with booking sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com offering millions of vacation rental properties around the world. But just how big in the vacation rental industry? Where’s the industry heading in the future? And how did it fare during COVID? Get ready for 15 mind-blowing statistics about the vacation rental industry that will show you just how massive this segment of the travel industry really is. The US vacation rental industry’s total revenue is estimated to reach $13.3 billion in 2021. With a roughly 10% year-over-year vacation rental market growth rate, the industry will be close to $20 billion in 2025. The global vacation rental industry will grow even faster in the coming years.  By comparison, the hotel industry is projected to hit $110 billion in revenue in 2021 based on expert forecasts. How many people have stayed in a vacation rental? In 2021, user penetration is 13.1%, so around one in eight people have been vacation rental guests. By 2025, nearly one in five people will have stayed in a vacation rental. Why do travelers choose a vacation rental? According to a 2016 study, the top reason why people book a vacation rental is to have access to a kitchen, with 64% of respondents. 49% of respondents also said they would choose a vacation rental for more privacy. Travelers likely also opt for a vacation rental because they want more space. The average hotel room is around 325 square feet, while the average vacation rental spans more than 1,300. Who doesn’t want to spread out and relax while on vacation? Vrbo is one of the oldest OTAs for booking accommodations online. Founded in 1995, Vrbo (then known as Vacation Rentals By Owner) predates Expedia (1996), Booking.com (1996), and Priceline (1997), though it’s a bit younger than Hotels.com, which was launched in 1991 as Hotel Reservations Network.  Just how big is Airbnb? As of September 2020, the site had 5.6 million active listings in over 100,000 cities across the globe including the US, Europe and all markets combined. These listings include around 24,000 tiny homes, 3,500 castles, 2,600 treehouses, and 140 igloos - so there’s no “typical” Airbnb property. Airbnb also works with over 4 million hosts! Airbnb went public in 2020, with a valuation of more than $100 billion, making it the biggest IPO of the year. What made the company’s IPO even more impressive is that the company’s revenue was down 30% in 2020, due to the pandemic. Airbnb generated $3.4 billion in revenue in 2020, down from $4.7 billion in 2019. Vacation rentals fared better than hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of March 2020, global occupancy in hotels had dropped to 17.5% from 77% (a 77% decrease) during the same period in 2019. Studio and one-bedroom vacation rentals saw occupancy of 36.4% compared to 66.3% in 2019 (a 45% decrease), and vacation rentals with two or more bedrooms ran occupancy of 32.6%, which was down 60.6% in 2019 (a 46% decrease). If you think about Airbnb like one big hotel, you’d need a lot of front desk agents. On average, around 200 guests check into an Airbnb every minute! Speaking of hotels, hotel companies are trying to get into the vacation rental game. In 2019, Marriott debuted Homes & Villas by Marriott International, which went live with 2,000 properties. Today, the program includes over 25,000 homes worldwide. Although 2020 was a tough year for travel overall, vacation rental ADR actually increased over the course of the year. Vacation rental ADR hit an all-time peak of $202.50 in June 2020. There’s nothing like a trip to the woods! According to Vrbo, demand for cabin rentals is up 25% year-over-year, and demand for chalets is up 20%. And 61% of families responding to Vrbo’s survey said they were more likely to pick an “outdoorsy destination” than a city for their next trip. Properties in rural destinations are enjoying some serious surges in popularity. Some of Airbnb’s fastest-growing markets include Hudson Valley, NY (revenue is up 85% year-over-year); Big Bear, CA (up 73%); and Lake Tahoe, CA (up 67%). In contrast, demand for short-term rentals in New York City is down 55%. Vacation rental guests are staying a lot longer on their post-pandemic trips. Prior to March 2020, most vacation rental bookings were for one week or less (80%). After the pandemic, stays under 7 days were the minority - only 30% of all reservations - according to AirDNA.   What’s next for the vacation rental industry? At this rate, it seems like anything’s possible. Want to learn more about vacation rentals and property management? Check out our vacation rental resource center.

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Decision Intelligence: Turning Hotel Analytics into Action

by
Sameer Umar
3 weeks ago

BI (business intelligence) is an organization’s ability to track data flow and in the process identify opportunities, minimize risk, and optimize the way it does business. Most businesses - not just hotels - have yet to reach that optimal level of BI maturity. Many have automated data collection, report generation, and, in some cases, data visualization. But that doesn’t mean that they’re mobilizing data into action. Quite often people use their BI platforms for nothing more than scheduling reports to be emailed to them in their inbox but reports alone do not constitute business intelligence. Thus, they’re still stuck in static spreadsheet mode when it comes to decision support. More advanced users leverage BI tools to increase their pace of discovery within the BI portal but then end up spending hours trying to re-share and explain their findings to others who are not operating in the same environment. Often they end up having long discussions with colleagues to figure out “Why don’t your numbers match my numbers?” (Day of week vs date, corporate profiles vs negotiated rate codes, time of data capture, filter by different dimensions - possibilities abound!).  Looking at automated scheduled reports is certainly a step in the right direction and even better when hotel teams are exploring data to make informed decisions. However, the shortcomings of how BI is being leveraged today are quite visible.    Enter Decision Intelligence (DI) Cassie Kozyrkov, Chief Decision Scientist at Google, describes DI as a way to augment data science with social science, decision theory, and managerial science. Thus, making it more effective at helping people actually use BI data to make better decisions. A great analogy she uses to describe the difference between data science and DI is comparing them to those who make microwave ovens and the cooks who use them. Note that by ‘data science’ she is referring to the analytics that are delivered via BI platforms. Simply put, DI is an enabler of BI’s end goal - identify opportunities, minimize risk, and optimize the way you do business. But How? Firstly, it’s important to note that BI and DI are not just technologies but rather evolving organizational capabilities. In order to succeed you need data-driven culture, people, and tools. The first two you cannot buy off-the-shelf from any technology provider. They have to be embraced as strategic organizational objectives. Once that commitment is made and you actively start working towards it, here are 4 ways to get you much further with your data than basic self-service BI reports:   1. Centralize & Correlate Hoteliers today are working with a deluge of valuable data from their transaction systems (PMS, POS etc.) as well as market intelligence from a variety of 3rd party sources (STR, Kalibri Labs, Knowland etc.). However, very few can actually correlate their channel mix (and many other business dimensions) to something like their STR Market Penetration Index (MPI). That’s because most of the time these data sit in their own silos and no one is able to see how one is impacting the other. Hence, the obvious first step towards unlocking such insights is to centralize all this information on a BI platform that will then allow users to collect, layer, and correlate different types of data to get a holistic view of the business. In the below example, as users go across the time slicer they can see how their segment, channel, and room mixes were changing and impacting their STR indexes.   Source: HotelIQ STR Dashboard   2. Visualize & Interact  One of the worst habits people develop using spreadsheets is conditioning themselves to look at specific cells on a wall of numbers. They look at the same set of reports and glance over the same cells regularly to monitor the health of their business. Hence, when they are presented with a BI tool, their first instinct is to automate their reports. They still want the wall of numbers laid out the same way they’ve conditioned themselves to read and think. However, a huge side-effect of such conditioning is that they miss all the threats and opportunities hiding in plain sight. For example, how likely are you to spot a white tiger hiding in a dazzle of zebras?       Similarly, a miscoded rate code can bury itself in a sea of reservations. By the time you notice a dip in the overall ADR, significant damage may have already been done. However, if instead of glancing over a wall of numbers, what if your rate codes were displayed on a scatter plot? It’d highlight to you which ones are performing worse than expected and who’s performing better. Then imagine clicking on a plot and getting the information you need about it literally at your fingertips!      Source: HotelIQ Agency Trends   3. Analytics-powered Collaboration We’re all familiar with digital workspaces. If we weren’t before, the pandemic has forced us to start collaborating digitally. From Sharepoint to Slack to project management portals - all facilitate collaboration between teams. However, when it comes to sharing data and insights, most of us are still dependent on extracts and spreadsheets. Hence, teams spend an unreasonable amount of time trying to come up with a single version of the truth that everyone can agree on before they can take any decisive action. That’s where you need an analytics-powered digital collaboration platform - a portal or intranet where your strategic teams login to work everyday, access a single version of the truth (through automated data integration), share, comment, plan, and track performance. There are also many other advantages to digital collaboration.   4. AI-powered Decision Support Once you have centralized all your data and your team is able to easily explore, share, and collaborate, the obvious next step is to determine what course of action to take. That’s where AI can elevate your decision making capabilities significantly by processing historical and current data trends to highlight risks and opportunities that lie ahead. However, quite often we get fixated on the accuracy of AI predictions. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that no one has a crystal ball that can accurately predict the future. Instead, we need to focus on the reliability and reasonableness of AI’s input in our decision making process. It may not be able to predict a pandemic but can certainly highlight unusual activity that requires your attention much faster than a normal human can. Let’s put it this way, if you have a junior analyst who is very thorough and meticulous in her work, would the CEO leave all the decision making to her? AI is like that analyst and should be treated the same way - pay attention to what AI tells you and then make informed decisions.   Source: HotelIQ Risk to Achievement Dashboard   Ultimately, technology and decision science will continue to evolve. There will be even more sophisticated ways to enable consumption of information by businesses and means to let them action it. However, unlike tactical technologies like a phone or a refrigerator, there is no leap-frogging when it comes to analytical capabilities of an organization. The longer you delay building that culture and bringing in those solutions, the harder it will be to stay competitive in the information age. 

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N2Pricing™ RMS: Boost Revenue With Supercharged Analytics and Time-Saving Simplicity

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 weeks ago

Selecting the right revenue management systems (RMS) for your properties is one of the most consequential decisions you will make as a revenue management leader. And today’s turbulent times have stretched revenue teams to breaking and forced them to confront aspects of their current systems — from forecasting to multi-property management, cost, and beyond— that must better serve their new needs. In the wake of the pandemic, the business dynamics of 2021/2022 are very different from the hotel business we knew in 2019.  Staffing shortages have forced hoteliers to wear many hats and be more connected cross-functionally.  Historical data isn’t as indicative of the future as it used to be, leading to forecasting challenges.  Even your compset may have changed. Revenue Analytics, the firm that designed pricing systems for major global brands including Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG built N2Pricing™, an RMS available to hotels everywhere at an affordable price.  Developing and refining the tool during the heart of the pandemic enabled the team to start from first principles and build an RMS designed to meet and overcome modern revenue challenges. Revenue Analytics gave Hotel Tech Report an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at their new N2Pricing software where we drilled into the elements driving commercial success for today’s revenue management teams. In this article, we’ll explain how N2Pricing is empowering forward-thinking revenue leaders to help their time-and-budget-strapped RM teams boost their current efficiency, revenue, and profit. Intuitive Workflow Optimized for Multi-Property Revenue Managers Revenue management teams have taken on more responsibility in the wake of the pandemic and multi-property revenue managers are replacing single property managers at a rapid clip. Multi-property teams face different problems than single property revenue managers.  Those who manage a portfolio have less time and local market knowledge to make smart decisions.  N2Pricing has built a true multi-property RMS with an intuitive UI and workflow specifically designed to support multi-property managers. At login, the software shows users the most worthwhile, actionable opportunities to focus on across the portfolio – whether at a large hotel or a smaller property—so they never miss out on big revenue levers.  All recommendations are displayed in a simple user interface that is easy to understand.  Opportunities and recommendations are sorted in the system by the size of expected profit yield to help time-strapped revenue managers easily prioritize and execute. N2Pricing supports an RM’s need to automate all but the most critical decisions.     Top Statistical Modeling Techniques to Deliver Hyper Accurate Forecasts Many revenue management teams will tell you their demand forecast is broken. One obvious culprit is the pandemic and the havoc it has wreaked on historical data. But even before COVID, many were concerned about the accuracy of the forecasts. Unfortunately, this is not a small problem.  The demand forecast is the central capability of an RMS and even small changes in accuracy can lead to large swings in results. N2Pricing uses a dynamic forecast with adjustable weighting that’s both robust and precise, so RMs can address the impact of COVID on their data.  It also uses an ever-growing library of 1,500+ forecast models and a “pick-best” process to select the most accurate algorithm for each hotel and market segment, ensuring the height of accuracy at all times. N2Pricing incorporates future demand signals to help RMs augment the intel provided by historical data.  The timing and number of intraday updates is fully customizable with rapid responses to pacing.  N2Pricing also automatically identifies special events and appropriately adjusts the forecast to account for them – automation that saves cluster RMs time.   Transparent Recommendations with High Acceptance Rates One of the single biggest problems in any hotel tech product is user adoption (i.e. getting your team to actually use software and use it correctly).  Many revenue teams find themselves overriding a large proportion of rate recommendations in their revenue management systems. In some cases the rate recommendations either don’t make sense and in others they are too opaque/black box to give their users confidence in the math behind each programmatic decision N2Pricing boasts an extremely high acceptance rate of 80%+ which the company attributes to accuracy and decision transparency. Simple metrics like price sensitivity are exposed for each rate recommendation so that revenue managers and even general managers can quickly grasp the “why” behind the price recommendation and accept it.     Future Demand Signal Data (e.g. Hotel and Flight Searches) Built Right into N2Pricing Forecasts With historical data on the fritz, more and more revenue leaders are looking beyond history and bookings to future signals to get a clearer picture of demand and move ahead of the booking curve. It’s critical in today’s world that RMSs can ingest forward-looking demand data to maximize utility. N2Pricing ingests this data into their forecast so revenue managers can easily make decisions based on it.  This data includes everything from hotel and flight search data to alternative accommodation availability (number of alternative accommodation listings you may be up against for different LOS and their price points) and dynamic compset (how your rates and availability measure up against a wider selection of competitors that change as markets shift).   Simple RMS Mobile App for GMs on the Go Revenue management is complex and time consuming which makes involving time-strapped general managers in key decisions difficult.  But these GMs are key revenue management decision makers.  This complexity means that GMs either must sit through an 80-hour training to understand rate recommendations or (more often) defer training because they simply don’t have the time. The result? GMs don’t use the system correctly or fight it with overrides, making the investment in the RMS wasted budget. N2Pricing is built with a variety of features and benefits designed specifically to help revenue managers better serve the GMs they collaborate with on a daily basis. GMs will mostly be interested in reviewing the recommendations screen where they can quickly see the most important rate change recommendations default sorted by profit potential.  This way GMs who are stretched thin can review the top three to five major decisions in just minutes each day. The interface is simple for non-experts to understand – it includes just the features GMs need and none of the fluff (and data) they don’t.  N2Pricing is also fully mobile for on-the-go management and provides intuitive rationale for every price recommendation to boost acceptance.       Is N2Pricing Right for Your Hotel? Did you know that today 33% of hotel rooms in North America are priced using algorithms built by Revenue Analytics for clients like IHG, Marriott, and Hyatt?  The revenue management technology behind N2Pricing has been in use for 15+ years by hospitality brands Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, and Starwood.  Revenue Analytics has decades of experience building and integrating customer RMSs into large brands, meaning their internal processes make implementation a breeze. N2Pricing’s UI was built to simplify and streamline without sacrificing power and intelligence. It surfaces all the features and data multi-property managers need to make efficient use of their time, while providing pathways for them to dive in and dig deeper when they need to tackle a business problem.  Intuitive software makes revenue managers more productive day-to-day and also makes training fast and easy ​​while empowering other key decision makers like GMs to quickly jump in and be able to leverage the tool in their decision making process too. N2Pricing is a fresh, modern take on critical revenue management technology.  N2Pricing is a high-quality RMS trusted by the best at a reasonable price point.  If your team wants to boost efficiency, revenue, and profit—all at a reasonable cost– you should check out N2Pricing.   This content was created collaboratively by Revenue Analytics and Hotel Tech Report.

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Apple Pay is Finally Here for Hotels and It’s Glorious

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 weeks ago

Imagine a world where booking a hotel is as quick and painless as ordering from your favorite food delivery app or buying something on Amazon: just a few taps, and you’re done. It sounds futuristic, but with Selfbook and Apple Pay - hotels can finally deliver a seamless hotel booking experience.  Selfbook recently announced that it closed its $25M Series A led by Tiger Global Management to accelerate it’s vision for the future of hotel payments. Since 2014 more than half of online purchases have been made on mobile devices, and we’ve already seen mobile-friendly payment methods like Shop Pay yield staggering four-fold increases in checkout speed and conversion increases of up to 1.91x. Since Apple has a 15% share of the mobile device market (55% in the U.S.), Apple Pay is the preferred payment method for a sizable group of your potential guests. In this article, we’ll explain what hoteliers need to know about Apple Pay and how it can enable better (and more profitable) booking experiences. We’ll walk through examples of ecommerce and hospitality brands that have found success with the platform then introduce you to Selfbook’s booking and payment solution which provides turnkey Apple Pay booking compatibility. We’ll also highlight why innovative hoteliers like you need to offer Apple Pay if you want to boost conversion and compete with the OTAs.   Apple’s Ambitions in Hospitality: Wallet and Payments in Focus Airlines like United and Southwest have embraced Apple Pay and Apple Wallet to power the entire customer journey from booking to boarding. When shopping for flights on a mobile device, you can pay for your airfare with Apple Pay, and after you check in, your boarding pass can appear in your Apple Wallet. There’s no need to type in a credit card number or print a boarding pass; the payment and check-in process takes just a few taps. For a hotel guest, the booking process should be just as effortless. While Apple recently announced that their iOS 15 update will allow hotel guests to store digital room keys in their Apple Wallets, most hoteliers aren’t yet able to take advantage of Apple’s most promising feature: Apple Pay in the online booking process. Hotel websites should accept Apple Pay then store a digital room key on guest devices to facilitate a smooth check-in.   Apple Pay is a ‘No Brainer’ for Hotels The benefits of Apple Pay are obvious when looking at ecommerce data, and you’ll definitely want your hotel to realize these benefits too. eCommerce businesses that implement Apple Pay see increased average order value, decreased chargebacks, and increased conversion rates just by adding this mobile-friendly payment method.  Average order volume tends to increase by as much as 5 to 10% at ecommerce businesses that allow customers to pay with Apple Pay, so you can expect your average booking value to grow if guests can use Apple Pay in your website’s booking engine. Apple Pay makes the entire purchase process more convenient, so fewer shoppers abandon their carts midway through the checkout flow. Apple Pay also adds a level of trust, so customers find your website more credible and feel comfortable making larger purchases. eCommerce businesses receive fewer chargebacks from Apple Pay customers than from customers who pay with traditional credit cards because Apple Pay is a more secure payment method. Apple Wallet houses credit card information in the form of digital cards that can only be added through a direct link from the card issuer, so the risk of fraud is lower than a standard credit card form, in which anyone can type in any credit card number. Since Apple Pay makes the checkout flow faster, more convenient, and safer, it makes sense that eCommerce businesses notice a conversion increase after adding Apple Pay as a payment method. Without Apple Pay, customers must enter their credit card number, expiration date, CVV, and billing address manually, which adds friction (and perhaps an entire extra minute) to the checkout flow. When you remove these steps, the purchase process becomes easier, so customers are more likely to complete their purchase.   Bring Apple Pay to Your Hotel with Selfbook By now you’re probably wondering how to bring Apple Pay to your property, and, luckily, the answer is simple. Selfbook offers a quick and easy way to elevate your online booking experience by accepting Apple Pay. Selfbook’s platform also enables hotels to accept other popular digital wallets like Google Pay and PayPal. The Selfbook team has productized their expertise in ushering shoppers down the booking funnel, so they can help your hotel’s website compete with the OTA giants.  "With Selfbook's booking engine and payment solution, our guests have the sensation of ease and convenience instantly," says Selfbook client and General Manager of Le Pigalle Paris Xavier Hue.  "With three or four clicks, their booking is confirmed and paid by Apple Pay, Google Pay or any credit card.  I highly recommend Selfbook to anyone looking to improve the guest experience on their website." The best part -- Selfbook is completely free for hoteliers to use. The company makes their money on credit card processing fees, rather than any sort of commission or subscription model, meaning there’s no incremental cost for hoteliers. With so much potential upside, bringing Apple Pay to your hotel is a no brainer.   This content was created collaboratively by Selfbook and Hotel Tech Report.

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50 Online Ordering & Food Delivery Statistics that Will Blow Your Mind

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

In the midst of all the challenges that the hospitality industry has faced over the last year, one segment of the industry is booming: food delivery. As people hunkered down at home, after getting tired of baking sourdough bread, they turned to their smartphones to order food for delivery or carry-out. Perhaps you’ve heard a little about the growth of food delivery and mobile ordering (or maybe you’ve experienced it firsthand), but this article will give you a comprehensive look at this exciting new frontier of hospitality. Ready to be wowed? Let’s jump into 50 astonishing statistics about online ordering and food delivery.   Just how big is the food delivery industry? The food delivery industry in the United States has tripled in revenue in the past five years. In 2015, 66 million Americans ordered $8.7 billion of food delivery; in 2020 food delivery revenue surpassed $26 billion and 111 million users. The sky’s the limit! The US food delivery market shows no signs of slowing down. It’s predicted to further grow to $43 billion by 2025. As of March 2020, 38% of American consumers had ordered food via a food delivery app. By March 2021, 47% of Americans had used a food delivery app, illustrating just how significantly the pandemic affected the food delivery industry. Food delivery is here to stay; in 2021, 53% of survey respondents - and 64% of millennial respondents - say that food delivery and takeout are “essential to the way they live.” In a November 2020 study conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 66% of survey respondents said they had ordered takeout or delivery food for dinner within the past week, and 47% of respondents said they had takeout or delivery for lunch within the same time period. Nearly everyone orders food delivery in the US; Gloria Food’s study found that 86% of Americans had ordered food delivery at least once a month. The pandemic was a big player in customers’ dining and ordering habits. 68% of consumers say they’re more likely to order takeout in 2021 than they were pre-pandemic. Although food delivery companies are seeing impressive growth, many customers still prefer to order directly from restaurants. By the end of 2021, revenue for restaurant-to-customer delivery is expected to reach nearly $72 million, while revenue for platform food delivery orders is expected to hit $79 million. Across all demographics and geographic areas studied, US consumers prefer to order food delivery directly from the restaurant, when given a choice. Restaurants were quick to adapt to the changing industry after the pandemic began. 81% of fine dining restaurants, 78% of family dining establishments, and 77% of fast casual restaurants added curbside takeout to their operations after March 2020. Nearly half of restaurateurs said they added food delivery options.   What are the biggest food delivery companies? Food delivery and online ordering apps were some of the most popular app downloads in 2020. UberEats and the McDonalds app both saw 82 million global downloads in 2020, and DoorDash saw 44 million downloads. By comparison, Google Maps had 88 million downloads, Tinder had 74 million downloads, and eBay had 51 million downloads in 2020.  Food delivery fans weren’t the only ones gobbling things up in 2020. After global food delivery heavyweights Just Eat and Takeaway.com merged in an $8.5 billion deal, the new Just Eat Takeaway conglomerate acquired another big player, Grubhub, for $7.3 billion. Let’s not forget about another big shakeup in the US food delivery market in 2020: UberEats bought Postmates for $2.65 billion in July 2020. Although UberEats takes a 20 to 30 percent cut of each order, the company is still not profitable. Just how unprofitable is UberEats? In Q2 2020, the company lost $232 million.  In 2020, DoorDash beat out UberEats for the largest share of the food delivery market in the US. By the end of 2020, DoorDash controlled 45% of the food delivery market, with UberEats at 22%, Grubhub at 18%, and Postmates at 8%. Talk about a swift rise to the top! In 2015, DoorDash’s share of the US food delivery market was just 5%. In 2020 the company snagged a 45% market share and nearly $3 billion in revenue. Food delivery market share varies widely by city. In March 2021, in San Francisco, DoorDash had 71% of the city’s food delivery sales. In Miami, however, UberEats was the biggest player, with a 55% share. And in Los Angeles, Postmates made up 32% of sales, while in most other cities it barely reached 5%. By the end of 2020, UberEats was available in around 1,000 cities. In 2021, the company expects to be active in 6,000 cities globally. UberEats is the world’s largest food delivery platform in terms of number of users. Globally, 66 million people used UberEats in 2020. DoorDash is the most popular food delivery platform in the US, with about 18 million users. Food delivery app users aren’t particularly loyal. Over 40% of UberEats, Grubhub, and Postmates users also used DoorDash during Q1 2021.   What about online ordering directly from restaurants? Orders placed via their mobile app make up nearly a quarter of all sales at Starbucks locations in the US, according to the coffee company’s Q3 2020 report. Domino’s is another chain experiencing massive success from its mobile app; as of late 2020, mobile orders comprise around 75% of Domino’s sales. Most online orders, about 60%, are made on smartphones. For that reason, it’s important to ensure your restaurant’s website and online ordering system are optimized for small screens! With a surge in orders placed online for both delivery and take-out, quick-service and fast casual restaurants like Burger King and Chipotle have designated specific “lanes” for more efficient order pick-up.  Pizza restaurants were pioneers in the online ordering space. Pizza Hut first experimented with online ordering in 1994(!), then launched the segment’s first mobile ordering app in 2009. It didn’t just let customers order their favorite pies; customers could also play in-app games while they waited for their delivery to arrive. 23% of restaurants say their customers are more engaged with their online offerings now compared to pre-pandemic times, showing a shift toward digital ordering channels. In a recent study conducted by Square, two-thirds of customers say they would prefer to order food via a restaurant’s own mobile ordering platform, rather than using a third-party. Out of that group, 61% said their preference for direct ordering was because they wanted to support the restaurant. Online ordering systems can help you test menu changes much more easily than with traditional paper menus. Some digital ordering platforms support A/B tests like changing photos or pricing on some customers’ menus, but not on others, so you can test ideas before officially rolling them out.   Who’s ordering, how are they ordering, and what are they ordering? Many food delivery customers are using food delivery apps for the first time. A study of over 100,000 food delivery app reviews mentioned phrases like “first time” 36% more frequently in 2020 than in 2019. Millennials and Gen Z are spending a significant chunk of their paychecks on food delivery or at restaurants. After groceries, dining out is the second-highest monthly spending category for both generations. According to a 2020 National Restaurant Association study, millennials are the food delivery generation. Three-quarters of millennial respondents had ordered takeout or delivery for dinner in the past week. Millennials aren’t the only generation who loves their takeout, though. The National Restaurant Association found that while just 41% of baby boomers had ordered delivery last week during their March 2020 survey, that number grew to 60% when the same group was surveyed in November 2020. Sausage or pepperoni? The average pizza order placed online is 18% larger than pizza-lovers who ordered over the phone.  But it’s not just pizza; revenue from online orders in general is around 23% higher than an in-person order.  No love for the humble onion! The most popular special request on UberEats in 2020 was “no onion.” Runners up were “extra sauce” and “no tomatoes.” 35% of delivery and takeout customers - and 53% of millennial customers - said they would be more likely to order from a restaurant that offered to-go alcoholic beverages. In a 2019 study of top complaints related to food delivery, 17% of consumers said their food arrived not warm or not fresh, and 16% said their food arrived late. Customers don’t always place their mobile orders with a few taps of a finger. About 14% of people have used voice assistants, like Siri and Alexa, to order food delivery while they’re driving. Google has integrated food delivery options into Google Maps and Google Search listings for restaurants, making it even easier for consumers to find restaurants that offer mobile ordering and delivery. Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Halloween are the most popular holidays for food delivery, according to a 2020 DoorDash report. Speed is the name of the game. The average delivery window for food is around 35 minutes, but 27% of people say they would be willing to pay extra for their food to arrive faster. The volume of off-premises food orders placed online surpassed the volume of phone orders back in 2017. French fries were the most popular menu item in the US on UberEats in March 2020, while cheesecake was the most frequently ordered dessert.   What else is happening in the food delivery and mobile ordering space? A May 2020 Wall Street Journal study found that out of all off-premise restaurant sales, 53% were carry-out orders, 38% were drive-thru orders, and only 9% were delivery orders. Loyalty programs can be a major driver in revenue growth at restaurants. 39% of consumers said they would spend more at restaurants that offered some sort of loyalty perks, but only 62% of restaurants studied had loyalty programs. Boo! Although they sound like a room in a haunted house, ghost kitchens are proving to be a very real success story. By the mid-2020, the US was home to over 1500 ghost kitchens, which are commercial kitchens that serve food to customers exclusively via delivery. Ghost kitchens aren’t always standalone locations; sometimes “virtual restaurants” will rent kitchen space from hotels or restaurants during their off-hours. As long as customers continue to use food delivery services, ghost kitchens aren’t going to disappear anytime soon. Euromonitor predicts that ghost kitchens will grow to a trillion-dollar industry by 2030. A 2019 survey found that 21% of food delivery customers suspected a driver of taking some of their food order, and 85% of consumers wished that restaurants would use tamper-evident packaging. More consumers want contactless solutions, as demonstrated in a late 2020 survey that showed consumers’ top payment options were contactless credit cards (43%) and contactless debit cards (39%). Digital ordering allows restaurant customers to pay online and avoid paying in-person entirely. Technology doesn’t only offer extra convenience for consumers; 95% of restaurateurs say technology helps them run their businesses more efficiently.   What statistics were most surprising to you? As the food delivery and online ordering trend continues to grow, there are surely more surprises in store.