How far do you want to take your career in hotel IT? If you have aspirations to make the leap from on-property to a corporate or regional role, then you’ll be inspired by the career trajectory of Jason Doebrich, the VP of Technology at Virgin Hotels. We had the chance to talk with Jason about his experiences working at several top hotel companies, serving in both on-premise and corporate roles. Jason offers some great advice for anyone looking to further their career in hotel IT and shares exciting anecdotes about his challenges and learnings along the way. After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in Information Science, Jason started his career as an IT manager at Morgans Hotel Group in Miami Beach. He worked on-property first, then became the Regional IT Director overseeing the Shore Club, Mondrian, and Delano. Jason’s next career move took him to Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, where was the on-site Director of IT at the Mandarin Oriental Miami for several years before earning a promotion to a regional role, in which he oversaw IT for all the Mandarin Oriental properties in the US as the Corporate Regional Director of IT. In 2022 Jason joined Virgin Hotels as their Vice President of Information Technology. As Jason explains, IT is a challenging and fast-paced career. In the hospitality industry, technology is a complex vertical, which involves building partnerships with technology vendors and thinking creatively to solve problems. Although some non-tech folks might think so, technology cannot solve every problem in hotels, so IT professionals need to work hard to implement technology seamlessly while also using critical thinking skills to figure out whether the problem at hand can be solved with people or process improvements.
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Looking for a glimpse into the future of technology in the hospitality space? At Walt Disney World, the MagicBand is not only a handy device that allows visitors to skip the line. It’s also a stunning example of an innovative product that enhances the guest experience, sheds light on guest behavior, and uses technology to foster a closer connection to the brand. In this article, we’ll explore the features and functionality of the MagicBand, explain how it came to life, and study the benefits of technology like the MagicBand so you can start brainstorming ways you might incorporate similar tech into your own hotel or hospitality business.
Curious about sustainability and how the hotel industry can reverse the trajectory of climate change and global warming? It’s no secret that the travel industry is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon emissions - think of all those trains, planes, cars and ships. While hotels aren’t necessarily the biggest contributors, travelers who stay in our hotels are which it’s why it’s important that we do our part to make emissions reductions through energy efficiency, recycling and other initiatives on property starting with the initial development of our buildings. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “net zero targets” or the “Paris agreement” or maybe you’re new to the conversation about reducing emissions. As traveler preferences shift toward eco-friendly hotel options, and as the climate crisis becomes more urgent, hoteliers like you should start to investigate solutions for a more sustainable future for your property. Net zero is one framework for prioritizing and quantifying your environmental impact, and, in this article, we’ll explain how net zero is relevant and important for hotels around the world. By the end of the page, you’ll be able to begin formulating a plan for your own hotel to achieve net zero emissions.
Firstly, mobile services allow hotels to improve their operational efficiency. Mobile digitalization facilitates the automation of tasks that otherwise have to be performed manually by hotel staff. These can be eliminated by having guests do it themselves in advance (e.g. fill in the information, registration card, check-in and out, online payment, choose and allocate rooms, chat, book spa, dinner, or golf reservations, etc). Besides requiring fewer human resources from the hotel that could be spared or employed in other higher-value tasks, the best part of this self-administrated service is that by transferring the tasks to the guests, it further improves their experience and satisfaction. Mobile digitalization gives freedom for guests to find their own convenience. Connect with guests on-the-go and extend the relationship beyond the duration of the stay Secondly, mobile services lead to a more customer-focused service and create a more personalized and on-premise accessible experience. For instance, more than 50% of American leisure travelers would use an app to add extras on-the-go during their hotel stays. Mobile services also help to maintain long-term relationships and two-way communication anytime during the guest’s journey and better manage loyalty programs. Optimizes the value per guest and targets their specific needs In turn, this widens the opportunity to target guests’ specific needs, hence allowing hotels to focus their strategy on the optimization of each guest’s value. Mobile apps have an additional advantage, they work as direct channels to guests by integrating with customer support and feedback systems, as well as with broader online review platforms. Lastly, mobile apps can potentially capture late bookers. Over 70% of same-day hotel reservations are made on smartphones, thus, an optimized mobile experience can be the key to unlocking the value of late bookers,- and re-bookings. What are guests really expecting from mobile hospitality? Guests want pre-arrival check-in and avoid reception queues. A study conducted by Ipsos and Aeroguest asked guests what characteristics they would value the most in their hotel experiences. We found out that Wi-fi and breakfast are essentials for every stay and in most cases could be deal-breakers. However, if we look into what mobile hospitably can add to the stay, then the best experience includes being able to check in earlier, check out later and cut these two steps shorter by avoiding queues and crowds in the reception, thus supporting a more convenient and contactless hotel stay. These are also the top two benefits that both business travelers and tech-savvy hotel guests are hoping their hotels will make available. QUESTION: CHOOSE THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES OF MOBILE HOSPITALITY (the size of the picture is proportional to the utility level. Only 11 features are shown, total utility sums to 100%) Guests are willing to pay to select their own room Having a room with a view and being able to select a specific room within the desired room type is also among the most valued features. This capability directly addresses another aspect that this study found guests to be unsatisfied with their hotel experiences. “When I book a room, I want to know what I am getting” This feature breaks the uncertainty factor and provides the choice and transparency needed when evaluating which hotel room to pick. Guests will know if the room meets their needs, where it is located, what view it has from the window, and if the requested extras have been acknowledged. This is another feature that mobile hospitality providers such as AeroGuest support, but not all hotels, web services, and apps give this opportunity to guests,- it is very difficult to build and has to be two-way integrated to multiple PMS across the world. An even more relevant aspect though, is that hotel guests are willing to pay to select their own room. 42% of hotel guests and almost 60% of business travelers would be likely or very likely to pay for choosing a specific room, and these would be willing to pay, on average, an extra 7% of the room price to choose their ideal room. QUESTION: HOW LIKELY WOULD YOU BE TO PAY EXTRA FOR CHOOSING A SPECIFIC ROOM BEFORE ARRIVAL? QUESTION: HOW MUCH WOULD YOU BE LIKELY TO PAY FOR CHOOSING YOU OWN ROOM? In sum, mobile services not only yield operational efficiencies but also allow to upsell of some completely new services such as room selection and adding extras before and during the stay and to better capture re-booking.
It is an undeniable fact that in recent years there has been a great advance not only in the development of IT tools for hotels, but also in the hotel industry's awareness of the need for software to help optimise the business. In this context, let's remember the importance of implementing technology for the evolution of the Revenue Manager's role and the improvement of the hotel's results. Coordination between the technological tools and the revenue management team is fundamental to the success of the business. There is no global software that can manage all the details we need to control in a property, but rather each supplier has specialised in a specific task or group of tasks. This means that hotels work with many different systems, and these need to share information, creating a well-integrated ecosystem. In this tangle of IT tools, how can we decide which are the best options for my type of business? The Strategic Approach As we know, Revenue Management is a diverse discipline: it is not only about correct or dynamic pricing, but also about brand image, distribution strategy, demand shifting, forecasting, segmentation, quality and reputation, etc. And, as stated earlier, there is no unique solution on the market that can solve all aspects. So the first step in deciding which tools to use is to think strategically and set the objectives we want to achieve. Based on these objectives, you should determine your priorities and from there look for the optimal combination of software, seeking efficiency not only in costs but also in operations. You need to build your technology stack to suit your market environment, the size of your business, your marketing tactics, your competitors and the distribution channels you want to work with. In short: decide what are the most accurate performance indicators for your business, then define your objectives for each of them and develop a plan on how to get the results you want. The Optimal Tech Stack Automation will be an essential factor in achieving excellence in Revenue Management processes, aimed at optimising business results. The development of Big Data and artificial intelligence technology allows access to multiple data sources and their efficient processing. This provides a very deep reading of the context in which the business is located. Working with tools that provide an advanced, dynamic and intuitive visualisation of the information is key to be able to combine the tactical work and the strategic approach of revenue management. Once you have established your goals, you need to know what tools are available in the market that will allow you to better and more effectively achieve them. From our perspective, there are some basic tools that we consider essential to any hotel business, starting with the Property Management System (PMS) as the main tool for daily operations and performance data collection. From there you will need some tools to make your product available to the final customer, such as the Booking Engine, that allows the guest to book a room on your own website, and the Channel Manager, that helps you distribute your product in the different sales channels. Icing the basic ecosystem cake of the basic ecosystem, you will need a Revenue Management System that helps analysing internal and external data for an optimal decision making in your pricing and distribution. In addition to this basic stack, there are countless tools that can deliver high returns in terms of reduced operational workload and improved decision making. These include Rate Shopper, Online Reputation Manager or Benchmarking tools, and others that will help you to optimise your total revenue, such as upselling and cross selling solutions, or to improve your guest experience, such as chatbots, communication apps, and many others. Deciding which tools you need and choosing the right provider in each case will certainly depend on your priorities and objectives. But also, you should not overlook the importance of system integrations: one of the key challenges for hotels to benefit from proper RMS software is the need to provide their transactional data to the RMS provider. This is normally done by integrating the hotel PMS with the vendor RMS and providing the reservations data on a daily basis, so you need to make sure the integration is guaranteed between the software you are choosing.
After two years of cancellations and postponements, 2022 is on track to be the year that weddings, conferences, and other in-person events come back better than ever. In fact, it’s predicted that 2.5 million weddings will happen in 2022, the most in a single year since 1984. This is great news for the catering and events industry, but it also means that you can’t afford to make mistakes or waste time on administrative tasks. Whether you work at a hotel or for your own events business, you might be wondering how to manage higher than normal turnover and supply chain challenges, or maybe you’re searching for ways to stand out among the competition. In order to rebuild your hotel’s catering business and run successful events with lighter staff you’ll need to streamline manual processes, get rid of spreadsheets and optimize your catering system from outreach to event booking, food costing, kitchen production and everything in between. Catering management software can be a fantastic partner in these unique times, with technology designed specifically for the events industry to help you reduce costs, maximize profits, operate more efficiently, and delight even the pickiest brides. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the top six catering management systems on the market today so you can make an educated decision about implementing such software in your business.
At the heart of operations, the property management system (PMS) powers efficiency and productivity across hotel departments, but is rarely a lone warrior when it comes to a hotel’s technology. Even small hotels work with numerous tech systems, including payment processing systems, electronic locks, and online distribution channels. Along with the PMS, all of these systems are key to serving guests and rely on some of the same data: guest credit card payments are processed via a payment gateway and also recorded in the PMS; key cards and digital keys are encoded through the locking system using reservation information; and OTA bookings must be entered into the PMS and inventory adjusted on your OTA channels. If these systems are working in silos, your staff have to act as go-betweens, manually duplicating data across systems, which is time consuming and prone to human error. You know what they say about teamwork—well, that applies to your hotel tech too. Through direct integration, your PMS can work with your other hotel systems to automate processes and save hotel staff a lot of time. Here are six key PMS integrations that will further enhance operational efficiency so that you and your team can spend less time behind a computer and more time providing an even better guest experience. Channel Management Third-party distribution channels, including GDS, OTA and metasearch channels, are a crucial component of almost any hotel’s distribution strategy. With their big advertising budgets and expansive reach, these purpose-built travel aggregators make properties more visible online and bring in a big chunk of bookings. When your online distribution channels are not connected with your PMS, your property’s availability and rates have to be updated to each of those channels manually, and reservations coming through them must be manually entered into your PMS. It’s an ongoing and time-consuming task with a high risk of overbooking if availability is not updated fast enough. But there’s a better way. Two-way integration between a hotel’s PMS and channel partner automates this important process, eliminating the need to duplicate data manually and improving accuracy. Through the integration, the PMS automatically pushes allocated inventory to the channel partner, including inventory updates and overrides. When a booking is made through a channel partner, the reservation data is automatically sent to the PMS and availability is automatically adjusted across all connected channels. Say goodbye to overbooking and hello to having more time for your guests! Payment Processing If your property accepts card payments you’ll be working with a payment gateway, which securely communicates the guest’s payment information to the payment processing network. If your payment gateway is not integrated with your PMS, approved transactions must be manually posted to reservations in the PMS, slowing down the check-in/check-out process. With a payment gateway integration, payment information entered into the booking form is automatically sent through the payment processing network and transactions are automatically posted in the PMS in real time. Not only that, but a payment gateway integration also steps up security with point-to-point encryption and tokenization to protect credit card data from hackers and keep credit card numbers out of the PMS for PCI compliance. If you want to accept online payments through your property’s website, payment gateway integration is a must for an automated and secure online booking process and contactless check-in experience. Simplifying payments, authorizations and refunds, and improving security, payment gateway integration is one of the most important PMS integrations for any property. Room Access Electronic lock and digital key integrations simplify access management and also speed up the check-in process. Key cards have been widely used across all hotel segments for decades. Times are now changing and more and more properties are shifting to digital (mobile) key solutions. Either way, let’s look at how integrating your room access solution with your PMS makes life at the front desk easier. A key card integration allows key cards to be encoded and managed directly through the PMS, which automatically sends relevant reservation data (room number, length of stay, etc.) to the key card system. This means that front desk staff no longer have to re-enter this information into the key card system manually, they just have to swipe the card to encode it. If your property is using a keyless access solution (mobile key or keypad locks), integration with the PMS automates key delivery to the guest upon check-in. In this case, the PMS automatically sends reservation data to your keyless access solution, which then generates a mobile key or keycode for the guest, automatically activating the key upon check-in and deactivating it upon check-out. Whether you want to implement a seamless contactless check-in experience or streamline check-in at the front desk, integrating your PMS with your locking system is key (pun intended). Point of Sale (POS) Along with the PMS, a POS system is essential for properties with an on-site restaurant. These core systems are a great example of two systems that work better together. Without a connection between the two, restaurant charges that are to be charged to a guest’s room must be communicated to the front desk and manually added to the reservation folio in the PMS. This manual process not only adds yet another administrative task to your front desk’s to-do list, but is prone to human error and billing discrepancies that can result in dissatisfied guests and lost revenue. When the POS system is integrated with the PMS, the software completes this task for you in real time. When a guest wants to charge a meal to their room, the transaction is entered into the POS system, which—via the integration—automatically queries the PMS to verify guest status, room number, and credit authorization limit. If the charge is approved, the POS system automatically posts the charge to the reservation folio in the PMS. Automating the process of posting restaurant charges to reservations with a PMS + POS integration not only saves hotel staff time but ensures billing accuracy, reducing customer complaints and preventing lost revenue. Revenue Management The unprecedented market environment brought about by the pandemic has turned many hotels toward revenue management software (RMS) to better navigate and optimize room pricing. Continuously consolidating and analyzing hotel and market data to produce pricing recommendations based on sophisticated algorithms, automated RMS improve demand forecasting and remove the guesswork from the pricing process, saving hotel operators a lot of time poring through data and trying to foresee the future. Integrated with the PMS, the combined solution saves even more time. PMS data (including reservations, inventory, and availability) is a critical part of the revenue management equation and must be updated in the RMS in a timely, ongoing manner. Without an integration, that task is the responsibility of—you guessed it—you or your staff. But when your PMS and RMS are connected, all relevant PMS data is automatically passed along to the RMS via the integration at a transactional level for optimal forecasting accuracy, pricing and inventory control. In turn, accepted pricing recommendations generated by the RMS need to be updated to the PMS and the integration can do this too. Separately, both the PMS and RMS drive efficiency and revenue, but together they make an even more powerful team. SMS / Guest Messaging The pandemic also accelerated the adoption of guest messaging / SMS applications to address the need for clear communications and contactless services. Mobile messaging is the preferred mode of communication for many guests, but if it isn’t integrated into hotel operations properly it can be inefficient and cause customer dissatisfaction. How can staff find the time to manage another communication channel? A successful guest messaging strategy depends on PMS integration. The integration between a guest messaging platform and PMS automatically sends reservation data to the messaging application in real time to trigger personalized routine text messages to guests prior to arrival, at check-in, during their stay and upon departure as defined by the property. Incoming messages and requests from guests are automatically matched to the guest’s reservation data to identify the guest and resolve issues faster. As guest messaging becomes a more prevalent guest communication channel for hotels, integration with the PMS maximizes efficiency by automating routine communications and ensuring no guest slips through the cracks. Hotel technology is designed to increase productivity and revenue and, just like people, your hotel systems can work better together to achieve their full potential.
Searching for a solution to your higher energy costs? Or looking for ways to operate your hotel’s building systems more efficiently? An energy management system can offer a lot of value to hotels of all shapes and sizes - not only helping you decrease your utility costs, but also unlocking more productivity and higher guest satisfaction. Energy management systems can require significant upfront investment, so you’ll want to learn the ins and outs of this type of software before making a purchasing decision. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the basics of energy management systems, the benefits your hotel can realize by implementing one, and the top systems available on the market today.
The adoption of mobile technologies has taken the fast lane ever since the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has halted the industry. As a response to the challenges of the pandemic, mobile travel solutions have emerged as an appealing option to re-affirm consumer confidence that safety can be maintained when traveling. It seems that the adoption of both effortless and touch-free mobile solutions will have a lasting impact. Even though the need for safety takes precedence during these times of fear, the need for convenience is the main driver and will last beyond the hype of the pandemic. Where is mobile hospitality headed? Mobile-enabled services are no longer an accessory in the hospitality industry to satisfy a niche need for speed or convenience for a narrow group of guests, but rather a necessity that enhances any guest’s travel experience. With or without a mobile strategy, every hotel owner should ask the following questions: What benefits are the growing mobile-centric hotel guests driven by? How should hotels adapt their services and where should they focus their attention to meet consumers’ expectations and needs in the hospitality service? Mobile hospitality is a win-win for both hotels and guests The main reason why hotel owners should consider a mobile strategy is to give the business more operational efficiency and offer guests a more customer-focused experience while saving time and space for higher-value tasks and strategic revenue management. For guests, mobile hospitality rests on two benefits, the increased convenience of effortless travel and touch-free experiences. Mobile-centric services make stays effortless and streamline the whole journey, thus improving the guest experiences First and foremost, an effortless journey will directly impact guests’ experience and satisfaction. Regardless of being a shorter or longer stay, for business or leisure, hotels work as an extension of our home. Likewise, to the same extent that we have the need to make our home lives convenient, functional, and comfortable, as hotel guests we expect just the same level of easiness. Mobile services are not only more streamlined than more traditional services, but they also have the power to connect the whole journey and several experiences seamlessly. How can hotel owners benefit from mobile hospitality? Mobile digital services improve operational efficiency while improving guests’ travel experiences. Firstly, mobile services allow hotels to improve their operational efficiency. Mobile digitalization facilitates the automation of tasks that otherwise have to be performed manually by hotel staff. These can be eliminated by having guests do it themselves in advance (e.g. fill in the information, check-in and out, online payment, choose and allocate rooms, book spa, dinner, or golf reservations, etc). Besides requiring fewer human resources from the hotel that could be spared or employed in other higher-value tasks, the best part of this self-administrated service is that by transferring the tasks to the guests, it further improves their experience and satisfaction. Mobile digitalization gives freedom for guests to find their own convenience. Connect with guests on-the-go and extend the relationship beyond the duration of the stay. Secondly, mobile services lead to more customer-focused service and create a more personalized and on-premise accessible experience. For instance, more than 50% of American leisure travelers would use an app to add extras on the go during their hotel stays. Mobile services also help to maintain long-term relationships and two-way communication anytime during the guest’s journey and better manage loyalty programs. Optimizes the value per guest and target their specific needs. In turn, this widens the opportunity to target guests' specific needs, hence allowing hotels to focus their strategy on the optimization of each guest’s value. Mobile apps have an additional advantage, they work as direct channels to guests by integrating with customer support and feedback systems, as well as with broader online review platforms. Lastly, mobile apps can potentially capture late bookers. Over 70% of same-day hotel reservations are made on smartphones, thus, an optimized mobile experience can be the key to unlocking the value of late bookers. In sum, mobile services not only yield operational efficiencies but also allow to upsell some services such as room selection and adding extras during the stay to better capture late bookers.
According to McKinsey, AI-based pricing can deliver between $259.1B to $500B in global market value. But the critical question remains: can Revenue Management be completely automated? The answer is: theoretically, yes, but, in practice, things are a little more nuanced. But let's step back for a second and try to reword the original question, at least slightly: should Revenue Management be completely automated? The answer, in this case, is a big, resonating, capital letter YES. A recent study by MIT-BHI showed that companies that “undertook AI-driven pricing transformations achieved more than $100 million of revenue improvement 70% more often than companies that focused on another area”. "Self-learning algorithms are evolving fast, becoming highly sophisticated, and they already have a high impact on operational efficiencies and increased yield. As a result, there is no doubt that the future of revenue management will be fully automated," says Alexander Edström, CEO, Atomize. The pieces of evidence are all around us, and not only in travel. Some examples? Amazon uses artificial intelligence to drive dynamic pricing; Starbucks adopts predictive analytics based on its data from over 90 million weekly transactions, and multinationals such as Coca-Cola or Johnson & Johnson have been using AI pricing for years. During the 2019 edition of the Revenue Management & Pricing in Services Conference, hosted by the prestigious Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Kevin Hof, Data Scientist at RoomPriceGenie, shared several case studies where hotels experienced an average of 22% increase in revenue by adopting RMSs, and similar results can be found on dozens of similar publications. "The hospitality industry is very fragmented when it comes to tech adoption and AI implementation in revenue management. Many hoteliers are still very protective of their own pricing and strategy; they believe that their historical knowledge and gut feelings know better than any algorithm. The truth is: that they don't trust what they don't necessarily know, understand, and cannot control (like a Human Revenue Manager). That's when tech Vs. human becomes a dilemma, and that's when we need to go back to basics and work on the "tech it easy:" step by step education followed by measurable results. Revenue Management is a hybrid human+tech cooperation, and the future is already now," says Silvia Cantarella, Commercial Strategy Expert & Founder Revenue Acrobats.