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Best 30 Hotel Booking Sites: 2020 Cheap Deals, Quirky Pads and More!

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Are you feeling as couped up as we are with this Coronavirus quarantine? Looking for inspiration and deals to plan your revenge trip when the world opens back up again? Nothing beats that rush when you book a killer hotel deal! With the number of hotel booking sites multiplying at a rapid pace, it can be difficult to know where to find the best deals - and without getting scammed. In this article, we’ll introduce you to several types of hotel booking sites, including online travel agencies, comparison or “meta-search” sites, branded hotel sites, innovative booking sites, flash sales and “mystery hotel” deals, and some sites offering unique accommodations. By the end of this page, you’ll know several sites where you can find the best deals for the kind of travel that’s in your future. Ultimately finding the best hotel booking website will mean different things to different people.  Even a single person may define "best" differently for different types of trips. Are you looking for the most sophisticated search engine that makes  your hotel search fast and painless? Google would likely be considered a top contender.  Maybe you're looking for cheap hotels to stay at on your next business trip to San Francisco where you'd prefer Kayak.  Maybe you need an all suites hotel in Las Vegas for a bachelor party or an all-in package for your family to Disneyland Orlando with car rental, activities and more. In this article we'll break down 'best' into 5 categories to make it easy for you to find what you're looking for on different types of trips: Top Hotel Deal Sites Online travel agencies Price comparison websites Branded hotel booking Unique accomodations Let’s dive in!   Online Travel Agencies If making hotel reservations were like online shopping, then the online travel agencies are the Amazon of the hotel industry. These mega-sites contain millions of listings for hotels, vacation rentals, and everything in between. If you travel frequently, some OTAs even offer loyalty programs which can bring you even more perks and discounts. Booking.com If you’ve ever searched for hotels online, chances are you’ve come across Booking.com. This massive hotel booking site is the largest in the world, with over 28 million properties listed. You can find everything from luxury hotels to hostels to apartment rentals on Booking.com. In the search results, you can quickly see the property’s guest review score, the cheapest room type, and the total reservation price - unlike some other sites which only show the nightly rate. At most Booking.com properties, you pay directly at the hotel when you arrive. Unique feature: Sheer volume of properties Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: Through Booking’s Genius program, you get extra discounts after staying at two properties within two years, and after five stays, you get perks like room upgrades and free breakfast. Did you know? Booking.com is the most popular travel website in the world, with hundreds of millions of visitors per month!   Expedia Expedia can be considered your one-stop-shop for travel. You can book not only hotels on the site, but also flights, rental cars, cruises, and activities. Hotels can join Expedia’s frequent flash sales, and travelers can often get extra discounts with promo codes around major holidays, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Expedia is one of the few sites that offers package deals (a bundle of flight, hotel, and/or rental car reservations), which often include significant discounts.     Unique feature: Package deals Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: Expedia Rewards members get access to members-only discounts and collect points on every booking. Members can redeem points for free stays, and higher-tier members enjoy perks like room upgrades and free amenities. Did you know? Expedia owns Orbitz and Travelocity, so you’ll see exactly the same properties and rates on those sites.   Hotels.com Hotels.com is part of the Expedia Group, so you’ll find the same hotels (and hostels, vacation rentals, etc.) on this site, but the real difference lies in the loyalty program. Sign up for a free Hotels.com Rewards account to get one free night for every 10 nights you stay. The value of your free night is an average of the 10 paid nights, and the location, brand, or star rating doesn’t matter. It’s a great way to get free nights at independent hotels, especially if you travel a lot!      Unique feature: Loyalty program Region: Worldwide, but most popular in the US and Canada Loyalty program: Stay 10 nights, get one free. Membership is free. Did you know? The Hotels.com spokesperson is Captain Obvious.   Agoda If you’re traveling in the US or Europe, you have a plethora of booking sites at your fingertips. In Asia, however, especially in less popular and rural areas, Agoda is often your only option. Agoda has over 2 million listings, which can be hotels, resorts, hostels, homestays, and vacation rentals. Check the “Today’s Deals” page for promo codes valid for extra discounts.     Unique feature: Volume of properties in Asian markets Region: Most popular in Asia Loyalty program: The PointsMAX program lets you pair your airline loyalty program (like AAdvantage) and earn miles after each Agoda stay. Did you know? Agoda’s website and mobile app are translated into 38 languages.   Hotel Booking Comparison Sites With so many booking sites, it could take hours for you to compare the prices for one hotel on all of them. Comparison sites, also known as meta-search sites, do the heavy lifting for you and pull the rates from various OTAs into one place. You can then click the link for the website with the cheapest rate and book directly through that site. Kayak Even though Booking.com owns Kayak, you can use Kayak to compare prices for hotels, rental cars, and flights on dozens, if not hundreds, of different websites. If you’re watching a specific flight or hotels over specific dates, you can sign up for a price alert and receive an email when rates increase or decrease. Unique feature: Price comparisons for hotels and flights Region: Worldwide, but most popular in the US Loyalty program: None Did you know? Kayak’s “Deals” page sells discounted tours and concert tickets.   HotelsCombined Another popular meta-search site is HotelsCombined, which - you guessed it - combines the search results from all the big booking sites into one consolidated hotel list. After plugging in dates and a destination, you can filter the results by star rating, guest review score, neighborhood, brand, amenities, and more. Unique feature: Price comparisons for hotels, flights  Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Over 400 million travelers used HotelsCombined last year.   Trivago If you’re searching for the best deals on hotels, Trivago is a good place to look. The site compares over 1.8 million hotels and pulls in prices from over 400 different websites. You can filter your search results by star rating, review score, and amenities, and you can see average hotel prices per day to find cheaper days of the week or month.     Unique feature: The calendar highlights cheaper and more expensive dates. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Trivago doesn’t just shop hotels, but also hostels and vacation rentals.   Tripadvisor Though you may know Tripadvisor best as a review site, it’s also a travel booking and comparison site. On each hotel listing, above the reviews section, you’ll see rates for that hotel on all of the big OTAs and, usually, the hotel’s own website. Tripadvisor lists not only hotels, but you can also book vacation rentals, tours, activities, and restaurant reservations.     Unique feature: Easy to find added-value offers, like free breakfast Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Tripadvisor highlights the cheapest dates for a given hotel so you can find the best deals.   Google Is there anything you can’t find on Google? As a newer player in the travel game, many people don’t know that Google can reveal some good hotel deals. You can find hotels on Google in two ways: a simple Google search for “hotels in ___” and through Google Maps. Google’s hotel listings contain all of the hotel’s Google Maps info, like contact information, photos, and guest reviews, and the listings also show prices and links to book at various sites, often including the hotel’s own website. Unique feature: Google Maps data, including reviews and photos. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Some hotels have Google Street View 3D tours.   Hotel Brand Booking Websites Do you crave quality, consistency, and lots of loyalty perks? The world’s global hotel chains offer a lot of value to frequent travelers through their loyalty programs, which are free to join and often offer members-only rates and benefits. The three chains below offer a myriad of different brands ranging from budget to ultra-luxury with properties around the world. These are just a few brands of the many across the globe, but they offer some of the best loyalty programs and property portfolios. Hilton HHonors As one of the world’s most well known chains, Hilton Worldwide has a portfolio of over 6000 hotels in 120 countries. The Hilton umbrella includes brands like Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites, and Waldorf Astoria, and you can book all Hilton hotels on the brand’s main website or app. When you create a free Hilton HHonors account, you’ll receive access to special member discounts and get free WiFi at all Hilton properties. Unique feature: All HHonors members can use digital check-in to choose their own room. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: HHonors tiers include Member, Silver, Gold, and Diamond, and all members accumulate points which can be redeemed for free nights. Did you know? Gold and Diamond members receive free breakfast at all Hilton properties.   Marriott Bonvoy Marriott International comes in at #3 in the list of largest hotel chains in the world, and the company has over 7000 properties in its portfolio. After Marriott’s merger with Starwood in 2015, the company’s portfolio grew to include a whopping 30 brands, including Courtyard, Four Points, Moxy, Sheraton, Westin, and Ritz-Carlton. Marriott’s website and mobile apps allow you to book all 30 brands in the same place.     Unique feature: Elite members staying at least 10 nights per year receive late checkout at all Marriott properties. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: Marriott’s Bonvoy program has six tiers from standard Member to Ambassador Elite. Did you know? If you stay 250 nights at Marriott properties and earn Elite status for 5 years, you get Elite status for life.   World of Hyatt Though Hyatt’s portfolio size pales in comparison to Marriott and Hilton, World of Hyatt members enjoy some pretty incredible perks at the company’s roughly 900 hotels around the world. Hyatt’s brands include Hyatt Place, Hyatt Centric, Andaz, Hyatt Regency, and Park Hyatt, and you can book them all on Hyatt’s website and apps. Hyatt also has several “independent collections,” such as Joie de Vivre, which include boutique hotels with no Hyatt branding. Unique feature: World of Hyatt members enjoy perks at Exhale Spas, American Airlines, and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: World of Hyatt’s membership tiers include Member, Discoverist (10 nights/year), Explorist (30 nights/year), and Globalist (60 nights/year). Did you know? Globalist members get free breakfast or executive lounge access at every Hyatt property.   Innovative Hotel Booking Site Concepts Looking for something a little different? These specialized sites go beyond what the traditional OTAs offer. You’ll find sites that focus on specific types of hotels - or even specific hotel amenities - as well as platforms that utilize technology to deliver better prices than you can find elsewhere. Some even offer hidden, members-only deals that you must sign in to view. Take your deal-hacking to the next level with these disrupters. Roomer Travel Have you ever needed to cancel a non-refundable hotel reservation? In most cases, you can’t get your money back, but you can post your reservation on Roomer. This site offers discounted stays at hotels around the world - but be warned, the dates are very specific and you can usually only choose from one room type. If you get lucky and the dates align with your travel dates, then you’re in luck!     Unique feature: Reselling hotel reservations that other people can’t use. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Though the original booker couldn’t get a refund from the hotel, some of Roomer’s offers are refundable when you book through the Roomer site.   Splitty Travel This money-saving site uses technology to hack other travel sites and find the best deals. Splitty’s technology combines multiple offers at the same hotel to secure a lower-priced reservation. How, you ask? Maybe you’re searching for a 4-night stay in Dallas, and the cheapest room at Hotel ABC is $75, but it’s only available for the first 3 nights. Because it’s not available for your entire stay, the other sites won’t show it in their search results. Instead, they’ll show a $120 room that is available for the whole stay. Splitty, however, can create a “split” reservation for you that includes a combination of the $75 and $120 rooms - as an example.     Unique feature: Creative rate-hacking technology. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Sometimes Splitty’s technology will reveal available combinations of rooms or rates at hotels that appear sold out on other sites.   Secret Escapes This members-only deal site offers great discounts on luxury hotels and resorts around the world. Well, that sounds too good to be true. What’s the catch? The sales are only available for a limited time (a couple days, usually), and the travel date ranges are often limited too. But if your travel dates are flexible, you can find fantastic deals. Browse the site’s upcoming offers and if you see one that looks interesting, you can get an email reminder when the sale goes live.   Unique feature: Limited-time-only sales on luxury properties. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None, but you must create an account in order to see deals and book. Did you know? Some of Secret Escapes’ offers include airfare.   Pruvo Have you ever bought a new pair of shoes only to learn they went on sale a week later? The same thing happens with hotels; prices can decrease between the time you booked and the time you check in, and Pruvo helps you take advantage of these price drops. When you book a room with a free cancellation policy on any booking site (like Expedia or Booking.com), you can email your confirmation to Pruvo and they’ll keep an eye on your hotel’s rates. If prices drop, you’ll get an email with instructions for booking that cheaper rate. Best of all, Pruvo’s service is free! Unique feature: Save money back after you book. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Install Pruvo’s Chrome extension so you don’t need to manually email your reservation confirmations.   HotelTonight If you’re the type of traveler who waits to book a hotel until you’ve arrived at the airport, then HotelTonight is the app for you. HotelTonight offers discounted rates at just a handful of properties, so you don’t get stuck with analysis paralysis. The deepest discounts are usually on last-minute reservations, though you can book months in advance if that’s your style. The company puts hotels into categories like “Basic,” “Hip,” and “High Roller,” to make your decision even easier. Unique feature: Best deals on same-day reservations. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: Get extra discounts, credits, and amenities through the HT Perks program. The more you spend, the better the benefits. Did you know? The “Daily Deal” gives you an extra discount at one property - but you need to book it within 15 minutes.   Dayuse Day trips, red-eye flights, meetings, photoshoots - there are many reasons why you could need a hotel room just for a day. But until Dayuse came along, you usually had to book the room for the night in order to get access for the couple of hours you need. Dayuse allows you to book rooms at over 5,000 hotels in 25 countries for prices up to 75% off the nightly rate. Some hotels even include pool, spa, or fitness center access.     Unique feature: Deep discounts for daytime-only hotel rooms. Region: Select countries around the world. Loyalty program: None Did you know? Some Dayuse hotels offer time slots so you only pay for the hours you need.   ResortPass Nothing says “vacation” like reclining in a lounge chair, drink in hand, on a palm tree-lined pool deck at a swanky resort. But what if your budget doesn’t include the room rate at that swanky resort? ResortPass offers day passes to pools, spas, and other amenities at over 400 high-end hotels so you can enjoy the vacation vibes at a serious discount. ResortPass is perfect for locals and vacation rental guests too. Unique feature: Access to luxury hotel amenities without paying the nightly rate. Region: Mostly US, but some properties in Mexico and the Caribbean. Loyalty program: None Did you know? You can earn a 10% discount by tagging ResortPass in a social media post.   Hopper Some studies say the best day of the week to book travel is Tuesday, but maybe the greatest savings for your hotel pop up on a Friday - you never know! Hopper is the closest thing we have to a glimpse into the future of hotel rates. The app uses high-tech price monitoring algorithms to notify you when prices drop on the hotels or flights you’re tracking. Unique feature: Price alerts for flights and hotels. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Over 30 million travelers have used Hopper.   Mr. and Mrs. Smith For fans of high-end boutique hotels, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a dream come true. You won’t find any big box-style chain hotels on this site - only unique, independent hotels that offer five-star service. These are hotels you’d pick for a honeymoon or special occasion trip. Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s team handpicks and reviews hotels for the site, so you can be sure that every property offers quality and value. Members-only perks include extra discounts, free amenities, and access to the company’s concierge team. Unique feature: Exclusive perks and discounts and luxurious boutique hotels. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: The basic BlackSmith membership is free, but SilverSmith and GoldSmith tiers come at a monthly cost, though they include perks like room upgrades and airport lounge access. Did you know? Some of Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s perks include free dinners or hundreds of dollars in resort credit.   Tablet Hotels Another site designed for boutique hotel lovers, Tablet offers deals on unique hotels around the world. The site lists properties included in the MICHELIN Guide, so you know they’re all highly rated for quality, service, and amenities. Tablet Plus members can enjoy extra discounts, late check-outs, room upgrades, and more.     Unique feature: Only the best hotels are listed on Tablet - if guest reviews fall short, the hotel is removed from the site. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: Access to Tablet’s hotel deals is free, but the Tablet Plus program offers deeper discounts and extra perks for $99 per year. Did you know? Tablet’s online magazine, The Agenda, contains high-quality articles that will surely inspire you to travel.   Best Hotel Booking Sites to Find Deals Trying to save cash? These hotel booking sites are designed to get you the best deals possible. If you’re looking for certain amenities, a fixed location, or a specific set of dates, these sites might not deliver, but if you’re flexible, you can find impressive savings. Hotwire Have you ever booked a hotel without knowing the name, the exact location, or what kind of room you’ll get? If you dare to roll the dice on Hotwire’s “Hot Rate” hotels, you just might be rewarded. Hotels in this program offer significant discounts (think 40 or 50% off), but with a catch: Hotwire does not reveal the name of the hotel until you’ve confirmed your reservation.      Unique feature: “Mystery hotel” offers. Region: Primarily US Loyalty program: None Did you know? Hotwire’s Hot Rate hotels do disclose some amenities, so you’ll know if your hotel has free parking, a pool, or a gym.   Groupon If you’re searching for a cheap vacation with no particular dates or locations in mind, Groupon can be a gold mine. The site offers hotel stays or vacation packages for destinations around the country (and sometimes Mexico and the Caribbean), but the terms and conditions usually include fixed dates or restrictions. Make your decision quick, though, because the offers are often only available for a limited time.     Unique feature: Deep discounts on only select participating hotels. Region: United States, Caribbean, Mexico Loyalty program: None Did you know? You can search by “interest” rather than destination, so if you’re looking for a romantic vacation to nowhere in particular, for example, you can discover someplace new.   TravelZoo TravelZoo is like the clearance rack at your favorite store: it has a mix of everything, prices are deeply discounted, and sometimes you can find an absolute gem. TravelZoo offers over 2,000 travel products - including cruises, airfare, hotels, and packages - at significantly reduced rates. Most offers are only valid for a specific set of dates, so if your travel is flexible, you can get the best value. Unique feature: Discounts on hotels, cruises, airfare, and vacation packages. Region: Worldwide, but primarily US Loyalty program: None, but TravelZoo does have a referral program. Did you know? TravelZoo also offers spa and entertainment discounts - you just need to look for them!   Best Sites to Book Unique Accomodations Why stay in an ordinary hotel room when you can have a truly one-of-a-kind experience? Browse these sites to find everything from cabins to castles and treehouses to tipis - often at cheaper prices than standard hotels. Who knows, you might even meet new friends too! Airbnb Though Airbnb wasn’t the first website to offer vacation rentals, it definitely made more people consider switching from hotels to rental properties. Airbnb hosts offer a huge variety of spaces, including apartments, homes, treehouses, tiny houses, private rooms, and more. Because many Airbnbs don’t offer the same services as hotels (like daily housekeeping), you can find some great deals, especially in big cities. But not all Airbnbs are cheap - prepare to pay hundreds of dollars per night for a castle or a beachfront villa! Unique feature: Airbnb encourages hosts to provide exceptional hospitality to their guests, even rewarding top hosts with “Superhost” status. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? You can pair your accommodation with an Airbnb Experience, which are host-led tours or activities like cooking classes, walking tours, or bike expeditions.   Vrbo Originally called “Vacation Rentals By Owner,” Vrbo focuses on traditional vacation rentals, like homes and condos. You won’t find any cheap shared rooms here, but you can still find some great deals, especially if you’re staying for a while. Some Vrbo property owners offer weekly or monthly discounts. Unique feature: You can filter Vrbo’s search results by Property Type, so you can narrow down your search to cabins, bungalows, or chalets, just to name a few. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Vrbo and its sister site, HomeAway, are now part of the Expedia Group.   Hipcamp If you want to get out in nature, Hipcamp might be your new favorite site. Instead of hotels, this site lets you book more than 300,000 camping experiences that range from BYO-tent campsites to RVs, cabins, and yurts. Listings are created by hosts, so you can enjoy the same personal touch and connection that you can find on Airbnb.     Unique feature: The Hipcamp of the Year lists highlights the top-rated campsites in every state. Region: United States Loyalty program: None Did you know? You can invite your friends to join Hipcamp and earn a nice referral bonus!   Upcamp Looking to score a spot at a sold-out campsite? Upcamp will alert you instantly if your dream campsite receives a cancellation. When you get notified, you can book the campsite on the campsite’s own booking page. Upcamp is only available on a mobile app for now, which is easy to use and showcases some beautiful photos! Unique feature: Availability alerts for thousands of campsites around the country. Region: United States Loyalty program: None Did you know? You can choose to receive alerts for specific dates or a range of dates.   Couchsurfing.com Travelers looking to save money and meet people can join events and crash on extra beds, couches, and air mattresses in hosts’ homes in over 200,000 cities around the world - for free. Couchsurfing.com uses a review and profile system to build trust among its 12 million members, and it’s not uncommon for hosts and couchsurfers to become lifelong friends. Unique feature: Emphasis on community and building personal connections. Region: Worldwide Loyalty program: None Did you know? Couchsurfing.com members have organized over a half million events.   Getaway Craving an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life? Getaway’s tiny houses are conveniently located in rural locations within driving distance of major cities like New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles. The cabins offer plenty of modern conveniences so you can enjoy the outdoors without roughing it too much. They include private bathrooms, kitchenettes, and A/C and heat, plus a huge window that occupies an entire wall.     Unique feature: Every cabin has a self check-in system. Region: United States Loyalty program: You automatically get an 8th night free after staying for 7 - no membership program sign-up necessary. Did you know? Getaway donates to Feeding America for every booking made.   Ready to hit the road? With these money-saving hotel booking sites, you can save cash on your accommodation so you can splurge on a delicious meal, a bucket list tour, or a new smart suitcase. Did we miss any cool sites? Let us know about your favorite!  

What are the Geopolitical and Cyber Risks in Hospitality?

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 days ago

Nobody is immune to hacking and cyber attacks.  Almost all major hotel chains and tech companies have been hacked in recent years.  It’s not just the hotel industry either - some of the biggest data breaches in history have been inflicted on the most advanced tech companies in the world like Adobe, LinkedIn and eBay. As hoteliers we don’t have time to take advanced online cybersecurity courses or go back to college for a masters in geopolitics.  At the same time, we’re all increasingly afraid that our property is going to be featured in the next front page newspaper headline about hackers stealing data from the hotel industry. A guest data breach opens us to public scrutiny, damages our reputation and exposes our businesses to massive financial liability. While it’s impossible to outright prevent cyber attacks in today’s complex digital businesses environment, we’re all responsible for protecting guests and mitigating risks to the best of our abilities.  In order to help you protect your customers and your hotel business you’ll need to first understand a bit about the recent history of hacking. This article will inform you on the latest data security trends.  It will then apply these learnings to hotel technology decision making.  Specifically we’re going to focus on how to mitigate the risks associated with vendor selection through geographic screening, financial diligence and IT architecture.   Data Sovereignty and Cybersecurity Data sovereignty refers to the rights and storage of company and customer data based on geography.  The main purpose of data sovereignty laws is to secure data and ensure the privacy of populations from foreign threats.  Data sovereignty began to popularize around the time that GDPR laws went into effect.  The data privacy movement has largely been spearheaded by Europe with the United States and Canada as fast followers. Unsurprisingly, the lion’s share of data sovereignty debates have occurred between Western countries (U.S. & E.U.) and China.  China’s rapid rise to power has come with many reforms but the country still faces significant stigmas associated with its approach to data privacy and intelligence gathering. China has a different vision from the West (and many in the East) for the future of the internet: “China has pushed through dozens of regulations and technical standards that, in conjunction, bolster the government’s control of and visibility into the entire internet ecosystem, from the infrastructure that undergirds the internet, to the flow of data, to the dissemination of information online, to the make-up of the software and hardware that form the basis of everything from e-commerce to industrial control systems.” ~ The Atlantic So what does Xi Jinping and the PRC’s vision for the future of cybersecurity and data sovereignty have to do with your hotel business? In short, a lot.   Data Sovereignty and Hotel Tech Vendor Selection Back in March the hotel tech world was shocked when American President Donald Trump took action to block Shiji’s acquisition of U.S. property management system StayNTouch.  Some conspiracy theorists attempted to draw connections to Trump’s relationship with Oracle founder Larry Ellison in the wake of Shiji cancelling it’s longstanding reseller agreement with the firm. These theories fail to put the dispute into the larger context of Chinese data security issues in recent decades.  Trump’s blockage of Shiji’s deal is hardly the first straw drawn in the cyber dispute between the West and China.  Before we assess the perceived risks associated with U.S. and European hotels purchasing Chinese technology, let’s look at the history of data surveillance.   Understanding Risk in the Context of Huawei China is hardly the first government to develop a global monitoring system.  Back in the 1960s the American government began collaborating with the U.K. to develop a global system of satellites and software backdoors that would later expand to other allies such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand (Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance).  Global telecom powerhouse Huawei is widely regarded as China’s solution to the West’s multi-decade head start on surveillance technology. “Huawei’s corporate strategy – which is to say, the strategy of China’s intelligence services – is to grant massive discounts on the installation of a network’s less critical bits on the condition that Huawei can also install and maintain the cores,” says Peter Ziehan, a leading geopolitics strategist. In March of 2019, the Five Eyes alliance officially blocked Huawei’s ability to deploy 5G technology into its member states.  Additionally, the US government banned US firms from selling components to the firm.  For critics who claim that Trump’s reaction to the StayNTouch acquisition is a blunt overreaction, the Huawei response is orders of magnitude more severe. So why was this action taken against Huawei? “Huawei would have no choice but to hand over network data to the Chinese government if Beijing asked for it, because of espionage and national security laws in the country,” experts told CNBC.   A Stark Contrast with U.S. and European Tech There are signs of reform in China coming from the corporate sector but these signs are early at best.  Alibaba and Tencent have recently attempted to refuse sending data to Beijing (mostly unsuccessfully).  Notably, Alibaba is a minority investor in Shiji after making a $486M investment in the firm back in 2014. Similarly, WeChat made a decision not to store chat logs on its platform.  Many believe this was to remove the responsibility of sending on demand data to Beijing.  Others are skeptical of whether the firm is being honest in it’s claim that it doesn’t store chat data. Despite these small but important reforms, the paradigm within western democratic data sovereignty lies in stark contrast to that seen in China where U.S. and European companies are in constant litigation around user data with governments and visa versa - a testament to the checks and balances that preserve the rights and privacy of consumers.  These checks and balances are far from perfect, but they lay the groundwork for progress. In 2015, Apple famously declined the U.S. government’s request to unlock a criminal’s iPhone citing its unflinching focus on security and user privacy.  A letter from Apple to iPhone customers demonstrates just how difficult it is for U.S. authorities to violate consumer privacy: “The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.” Apple Customer Letter Not only do U.S. and European companies have the ability to substantially fight their government in the interests of consumer privacy, but Western governments have demonstrated an interest in regulating the same for their corporate counterparts.  This fact has been highlighted numerous times in recent years.  Perhaps the highest profile case relates to U.S. federal regulators mounting a legal offensive against Facebook for it’s handling of customer data in the context of Cambridge Analytica.  EU regulators are perhaps even more aggressive in their protection of consumer data as evidenced by a lawsuit against Google resulting in a $57M fine. The important takeaway here is that U.S. and European companies can publicly (and aggressively) fight the government and visa versa.  In China, that still seems to not be the case and that likely poses a material risk to any U.S. or European hotel property that chooses to adopt Chinese technology.   It’s Just Business In our increasingly globalized economies xenophobia is dangerous and counterproductive.  The arguments being made here are far from that - these are important business considerations.  China has a vested interest in its new kind of patrolled internet and despite activists' criticism, those interests are well founded based on its desire to maintain domestic security and prevent internal social unrest. There are no “good guys” and “bad guys” in this debate, it’s merely a political and strategic dance between different interests and cultures.  Having said that, China’s national interests and world views are in stark conflict with those of the democratic Western countries in Europe and North America meaning that private businesses who consider adopting Chinese technology need to consider the implications of that conflict.  So what are the implications for private businesses like your hotel? As experienced hoteliers know, corporate meeting planners from major clients like Google manage a close knit group of hotel partners that are certified to host high profile meetings.  These partners are closely vetted based on security protocols.  Oftentimes these hotels need to  enter corporate code names into the PMS upon booking in order to maintain confidentiality and mitigate any potential risks. So if corporate groups like Google and Amazon require secure hotel meeting environments it’s no shock that the U.S. government demands the same.  The U.S. government is a major corporate group segment for hotels.  Given the steps taken by corporations like Google and Amazon to ensure secure meetings it’s no wonder that the Federal government doesn’t want China to have access to government worker data and government meeting information.  Additionally, China has a history of being linked to hotel industry hacking. In February of 2020 the United States Department of Justice formally charged four members of the Chinese military in connection with the 2017 Equifax hack leaking identifying information about millions of people in the U.S.  “The Equifax attack was explicitly linked to the Marriott and OPM breaches as part of the same larger operation. This was an extremely rare move — the U.S. rarely files criminal charges against foreign intelligence officers in order to avoid retaliation against American operatives — that underscored how seriously the U.S. government took the attack” writes the New York Times. Additionally there is evidence connecting China directly to the massive Starwood/Marriott hack,  “The cyberattack on the Marriott hotel chain that collected personal details of roughly 500 million guests was part of a Chinese intelligence-gathering effort that also hacked health insurers and the security clearance files of millions more Americans, according to two people briefed on the investigation.”  Security experts point out the fact that Starwood’s data leak was never released online for sale on the dark web.  They assert that if the hackers didn’t do this for the money, it’s highly probable that this was related to an intelligence gathering exploit.   How is Your Hotel Affected? There are many technical ways to mitigate these risks such as penetration testing, hiring a cyber security audit firm, securing WiFi networks and more.  The single most important thing that any hotel can do to mitigate cyber risk is to be diligent in hotel technology vendor selection. As we saw in the case of Starwood’s hack, Marriott ended up taking responsibility despite not being the responsible party at the time of the breach.  The same goes for your hotel.  Every manager and IT leader needs to understand their technology architecture, vulnerabilities and steps being taken to protect their guests.  Technology firms spend millions of dollars on engineering to ensure this security but it’s on hotel tech buyers to ensure that they’re asking the right questions and selecting the right vendors. Every hotelier needs to understand the data sovereignty of their systems.  It’s important to consider the risks of storing your guest data in China or other regions of the world that might be vulnerable to leakage, hacking or straight up confiscation by local governments. Another important facet to consider is the financial viability of your technology partners.  Businesses that are cash strapped or struggling often aren’t able to invest to the same level in cyber security and innovation which poses a risk.  SaaS stands for “software as a service” and while you might be “buying”tech today, the shrewdest buyers understand that they are buying into the future of that business including their product roadmap and investments in critical innovation to remain competitive.  Just last year, Drury Hotels was forced to notify guests of a security incident that occured on an undisclosed third party technology service provider involving information related to online booking sites. The best way to ensure that your hotel group does not become the next Drury Hotels is to perform extensive diligence on your vendors.  Where are they located? Where does data get stored?  Who has the rights to that data? How much have they invested in cyber security? What steps and protocols exist to ensure that your hotel’s data (especially sensitive guest data) is kept from malicious cyber attacks?  

Hospitality Innovation is Thriving Despite the Crisis (Q2 Innovation Report)

by
Jordan Hollander
1 week ago

Innovation is alive and well in hospitality. Don't believe us? Check out the 47 new hospitality innovations that we cover in this report.  In the age of coronavirus we all catch ourselves thinking that the world is coming to an end from time to time. Don't worry, this article has nothing to do with coronavirus (but it's hard not to address the elephant in the room these days). In order to keep this article COVID free, let's run a scenario analysis using Hotel Tech Report's Innovation Wager™.  The wager considers four alternate universes based on two axes.  On our X axis we consider two worlds: Scenario A considers optimal decision making if the hotel industry does not recover, Scenario B considers what to do if you believe that it will. On our Y axis we consider what happens if we improve the way we do business with new technology and processes.  The wager shows us that in any potential outcome, it's always in our interest to improve the way we operate our businesses.  The only unacceptable outcome is the one where the world does not come to an end and we do not improve our tech and hotel operations processes.   So the next question is how did we choose our Y axis (i.e. update my hotel's tech and operations)?  The math is simple, if your hotel group's breakeven is at 25-30% occupancy and you're currently running at 0% you are essentially racing against time to hit that occupancy.  Global travel demand is unfortunately out of your control, so what can you do to get there as quickly as possible? You can improve your margins to lower your breakeven occupancy by getting more efficient at your property.  For this you may explore technology like keyless entry or staff collaboration tools to help your slimmed down team do more with less.  You can sell long term group business today to bring deposit revenue in ahead of those bookings and for that you'll need airtight sales tech and processes.  You could also get more efficient at acquiring guests to hit that 25-30% occupancy rate faster. In this article, we showcase 47 hospitality innovations that have been launched in the crisis.  As you explore ways to improve your margins, get smarter at guest acquisition and more - this list can put you on the cutting edge.  We've divided the article into five categories: Revenue Management Innovations Marketing Innovations Operational Innovations Guest Experience Innovations Sales and Meetings Innovations     BONUS: Look for the contactless badge next to products in the innovation report to identify technologies that will help your hotel go contactless, boost your recovery efforts and prepare now for the inevitable changes that are coming.  The tools have functionality that will enable you limit human physical contact to pre-emptively prepare for new government regulations and even more importantly, guest expectations.   Q2 Innovations in Revenue Management   1. OTA Insight Market Insight Tool OTA Insight’s Market Insight tool offers a smarter way to predict demand and price your rooms accordingly. Market Insight gathers and analyzes data from hotel web searches, flight data, events, holidays, online reviews, weather forecasts, and alternative lodging inventory to give your revenue team location-specific insights segmented into different customer groups. Learn more about your target guest’s booking intent and use real-time market trends to capitalize on revenue opportunities before your competition. 2. SiteMinder Insights SiteMinder Insights allows hotels to be smarter about their sales and marketing strategies while maintaining their brand integrity. This tool has monitoring and reporting capabilities that provide hoteliers a single place to access clear and actionable data on their local market, business performance and guests. This integration can help hoteliers make more informed decisions about hotel pricing and distribution, based on impartial data, as well as reveal insights that help get ahead of the competition. 3. Infor Price Optimizator Infor Hospitality Price Optimizer (HPO) is a mobile-first app that helps hotels price their rooms in a more accurate and timely manner. The algorithms that drive the app replicate the approach the guest takes to book a room: the system data from star ratings, location, pricing, and reviews to select which hotels are the valid competitors that should influence the pricing decision. he system automatically detects seasons and events for a dynamic pricing solution that updates throughout the day as needed.   4. HotelIQ Monthly Forecasting HotelIQ has been working on a Monthly Forecasting & Budgeting Tool that can generate forecasts and budgets for up to 12 months at a time. The platform pulls your real-time PMS data to use as a baseline, automating the burdensome task of maintaining spreadsheets and forecasting by hand. Easily edit figures, track performance, and generate market segment level forecasts and budgets.   5. IDeaS RevPlan IDeaS RevPlan is a total revenue forecasting, planning and enterprise consolidation tool. RevPlan can automate scientific forecasting, budgeting and financial submission for your entire property – from rooms to food & beverage and other income revenue streams. Save time and manual effort while driving greater profitability: RevPlan provides hotels the ability to forecast accurately and precisely.   6. RateGain MarketDRONE RateGain is launching MarketDRONE, a new feature for its rate intelligence platform OPTIMA. MarketDRONE tracks intra-day rates and rate-plan changes by hotels in real-time. Whenever a competitive hotel makes a rate change, your revenue manager receives an alert. Hotels are constantly changing rates for existing plans and introducing new rate plans close to check-in-date to sell off their unsold inventory and maximize revenue. As such, a revenue manager, on an average, may lose $1,000 or more per day by not acting on these intra-day market changes in real-time. With MarketDRONE, revenue managers do not have to pull out rate shopping reports on a daily basis to make the strategic decisions. The instant alerts provide them the market insights on the fly and basis that they can take the recommended actions on the go.   7. HotelTime Instant Reporting HotelTime Solutions is debuting Instant Reporting, a reporting and forecasting tool that helps revenue managers working at multi-location properties get a clear picture on their distribution. It aggregates data on key metrics across different properties. This tool makes it easy to get accurate reports, merging revenue center statistics at the chain level.   8. Hotelchamp Demand Tracker Hotelchamp’s new demand tracker will give revenue managers insight into how much demand there is predicted for future stay dates in their hotel. Set up automatic alerts to be notified when demand increases for a specific stay date. Get insights for a specific demand period to better predict trends in revenue.   9. HotelPartner Synergy Model HotelPartner’s synergy model is a new service offering for individual hoteliers that combines manpower, technology, and expertise in one package. The firm will offer a revenue management tool as well as the team to use it; the synergy model offers a blend of consulting, technology, and a revenue management solution tailored to your property.   10. 5stelle Business Intelligence 5stelle* is introducing a new business intelligence tool that provides 18 interactive dashboards. Get reporting on your reservation lead time, month-to-date revenue and occupancy, RevPAR analysis, and more all in one place.   11. Fairmas Advanced Revenue Planner Fairmas Advanced Revenue Planner simplifies the planning and controlling of all hotel revenues, either by market segment or by account line item, on a daily or monthly basis. The platform is built for different user groups – from department managers who need to plan on the operational level, to revenue managers for a detailed view of the total hotel, and to the general managers who can refer to its consolidated view. The  Pickup Planning feature allows a different way of planning that may be a more realistic approach depending on the day-to-day situation (e.g., How many more rooms do I still need to pick up to achieve my goal?).     Q2 Innovations in Hotel Marketing   12. Revinate Guest Data Platform Revinate’s Guest Data Platform is another take on consolidating guest information to deliver the insights hotel managers can use to drive direct bookings, provide a great guest experience, and increase profit. The Guest Data Platform combines guest data into rich, unified profiles that can inform your sales and marketing campaigns.   13. SHR Maverick CRM SHR Maverick™ CRM by Sceptre Hospitality Resources LLC is a new CRM system that unlocks information from third-party providers. This CRM shows your hotel data about customers no matter where they booked: direct, or through an OTA. Maverick gives hoteliers access to clean, consolidated guest data, including user behavior and booking habits. The platform includes a loyalty and rewards platform and integrates with Windsurfer CRS, Windsurfer CRO, Windsurfer IBE, and a built-in Campaign Management Platform.   14. D-EDGE CRM D-EDGE launched Guest Management, a CRM tool that integrates with the brand’s existing CRS product. Guest Management offers hoteliers a way to centralize data from your PMS, CRS, website, and other sources into one guest profile. By consolidating all data about each guest in one place, your team can more easily send specific, customized offers to guests, driving guest satisfaction and loyalty. 15. Dailypoint Content Bot The dailypoint Content Bot is a tool which pushes email communication finally to an individual experience with each guest. The bot pulls data from guest profiles in dailypoint to select content pieces from a library, offering individualized, concierge-style recommendations based on each individual’s unique needs. Content Bot allows your marketing team to get hyper-focused with messaging. Send a newsletter customized per person, rather than per target group.   16. Suiteness OTA Distribution Suiteness launched a partnership with Booking.com for travelers to book connecting hotel rooms and suites through Booking.com. When connecting rooms are available, they are booked 3.3x more often than multi-bedroom suites in the same hotel. Customer segments like families and groups are heading to AirBnB in droves because they demand more space and don’t want to risk showing up at your property only to find out they can’t get connecting rooms. Give them peace of mind and you’re more likely to win their booking.   17. RoomRacoon Integrated Upselling RoomRaccoon is developing an integrated upselling tool for its hotel management system.  This will allow clients of its HMS to offer add-ons like breakfast or room upgrades prior to arrival.  While there are quite a few standalone upselling tools on the market, RoomRaccoon is one of the first HMS players to offer this functionality.   18. AskSuite Booking Engine Chatbot AskSuite’s latest integration syncs your booking engine with their chatbot to recapture a guest who may be having trouble booking directly. For instance, if a traveler tries to book a room on an unavailable date, the chatbot will automatically respond with a message that there are no rooms available and suggest the next earliest date with availability. Or, the chatbot can be set up to suggest a nearby property from the same chain that does have availability. This integration helps your reservation team work more productively, captures more direct bookings, and standardizes customer service messaging on your site. Asksuite is also in the process of building a Smart Chat Distribution tool that can matches a reservation agent to an open chat, helping large reservation teams coordinate their responses to individual customers. Your property defines specific rules – using triggers such as language, communication channel, type of inquiry, and more – and the algorithm uses these qualifiers to send an open request to the right customer service representative. The goal is to improve your property’s customer service and make it easier for your team to work efficiently.   19. Profitroom WebAssistant Profitroom’s WebAssistant is a new tool for creating and maintaining your hotel website. The tool is built specifically for the hotel industry, with templates designed to set up booking pages that drive direct bookings as well as unlimited data transfer and automated free updates. This website builder is an option for hotel properties that do not have the budget to work with a digital marketing agency to set up their site.   20. Quicktext Lead Generation Quicktext’s chatbot aims to improve your sales cycle by generating new leads for your sales team. When a customer engages with this chatbot, the program checks your CRM to see if this user exists; if they do, the tool will add any missing contact details and customer interests as determined through the chat interaction. If this is a new customer, the bot will upload insights into your CRM that can be used by your sales and marketing team to send more personalized offers and marketing messages. The Quicktext bot interacts with 9% of online visitors each month; if you have 3,000 visitors every month, Quicktext will create 270 new leads to whom your team can market.   21. myhotelshop GmbH Link Travel Ads myhotelshop GmbH recently launched Link Travel Ads, a metasearch marketing platform for hotel chains, booking engines, and hotel marketing agencies. This tool is built specifically for properties that have struggled to run, manage and report metasearch marketing campaigns. Link Travel Ads will take you through the process from start to finish. With this tool, one account manager can manage campaigns for more than 500 different properties, with reporting and invoicing all in one place.   22. Experience Hotel Dedupe Experience Hotel, like D-EDGE, is trying to solve the problem many hotels have: multiple entries for the same guest. Hotel brands that have multiple properties with multiple data sources (the restaurant, spa, reservation system, etc.) tend to have duplicate profiles for the same guest in their PMS. Experience Hotel’s approach is Unified Customer Repository (UCR), a system that can identify all the duplicates in your guest list and combine every guest's details in one single profile. This allows your team to see an entire guest history in one place, and use insights from multiple sources to deliver personalized messages and offers.   Q2 Hotel Operations Innovations   23. hotelkit Facility Management Hotelkit debuted a new Facility Management platform that enables maintenance teams to  plan, schedule, and track corrective and preventive maintenance tasks. The tool help maintenance managers allocate resources such as time, money, and employees more effectively, and can automate and oversee daily maintenance routines. Get data and reporting on energy consumption or wear and tear of equipment to predict future expenses.   24. Mews Online Check-Out Mews Systems now offers an online check out feature aimed at reducing lines at the front desk and streamlining your property’s operations. Guests can checkout online without having to stand in a queue before departure; the platform sends housekeeping an alert once the guest has left, and your revenue managers can start upselling early check ins. Mews Online Checkout gives time back to guests and hoteliers alike with essential automation to guests who are in a hurry and hotels who are trying to turn around rooms.   25. HelloShift Inventory Management HelloShift is introducing Inventory Management to systemize the process of ordering and maintaining your stock of hotel supplies – parts, tools, equipment, linen, guest amenities, and more. Store detailed information about your supplies (warranty, brand, model, etc.), automate reordering, and reconcile inventory levels with regular checks. Reduce error that can lead to over and under-stocking, and reduce costs associated with ordering the wrong amount of supplies.   26. Bookboost Multi-Property Inbox Bookboost Guest Messaging added an all-in-one inbox with multi-property function that integrates messages from a number of channels into one inbox. Manage messages from your website, email, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and more in one platform. This allows one team member to oversee one unified inbox – a big gain in efficiency, especially for multi-property hotels.   27. Sertifi eConfirmations Sertifi eConfirmations allows travel companies to send payment digitally to travel suppliers (e.g., your hotel). Receive corporate credit card payments, virtual card payments along with the corresponding payment instructions, and guest information, such as check-in time and room preference, all at once – quickly and securely. All payment data is tokenized and transferred in a PCI compliant manner. Offer a smooth, hassle-free payment experience for corporate travelers.   28. Beekeeper Task Management Beekeeper’s Whispr Partnership will help frontline workers learn their job duties more quickly and help add consistency to your operations. Whispr transmits “motivational audio messages”, as well as work instructions in your employee’s preferred language through Beekeeper’s operational communication platform. Facilitate communication between your housekeeping team and management in an innovative and authentic way.   29. Telkonet Ecoinput Telkonet introduces EcoInput, a simple way to save energy and reduce your costs. EcoInput turns any light switch into an energy management device. Using the Zigbee wireless protocol, lighting can be controlled locally – e.g., guests can use the light switch as normal – or remotely via software or mobile control. Add sustainability and energy savings to your property without sacrificing guest experience.   30. Hoxell Quality Operations Hoxell has a new tool called Quality Operations. With Quality Operations, members of your team can send messages, create and assign tasks, and digitize workflows to improve productivity. The platform aims to streamline housekeeping activities, create direct communication channels, and improve reporting by reducing friction in communication and knocking down siloed reporting structures.   31. Mister Booking Payment Automation Mister Booking’s Payment Automation feature offers a simple way to process payment from your Hotel Management System. All credit cards collected as guarantee from OTA or booking engine can be verified and pre-authorized directly from the PMS. Automate advanced payments for all non-cancellable and non-refundable reservations, according to their payment conditions. It will save your team time by automating the administrative burden of payment verification.   Q2 Guest Experience Innovations   32. Crave AppLess Mobile Crave unveiled AppLess™ Mobile, a tool that gives guests access to guest services through location-specific QR codes. Guests simply scan a QR code and choose from the services you offer. Create multiple custom QR codes and post them at different points throughout your property: for instance, a QR code for ordering drinks at the bar, a QR code for catering in a meeting room, a QR code for more towels by the pool. AppLess™ enables frictionless digital experiences for consumers to access services on their own devices, without the need to download a mobile app. Includes payment technologies such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.   33. SuitePad Premium Docking Station SuitePad has two new products to share, the SuitePad Premium Docking Station and the SuitePad 10" Tablet. The SuitPad 10 is a premium version of their previous model, featuring a 1920 x 1200px resolution screen, larger battery for longer use, and 2GB of RAM for smoother content delivery. The docking station includes new features such as a bluetooth speaker, in-room presence sensor, and telephone handset. These features increase your property’s ability to send offers to guests at the right moment, and provide a premium in-room technology experience.   34. Volara Google Interpreter Volara introduced Google Assistant Interpreter Mode for Hospitality, a partnership with Google that facilitates real-time conversations with guests through instant translation. The tool translates between 29 different languages to help your staff welcome guests from diverse language backgrounds. Improve the guest experience and solicit reviews in multiple languages with this quick and easy translation platform. 39. TrustYou On-Site QR Feedback TrustYou’s On-Site Solutions Beta is a new product that solicits feedback during the guest stay using a QR code or short URL. This survey tool proactively asks each guest about their stay, escalating any issues occurring at your hotel for immediate attention. One hotel property that tested this product was able to increase their post-stay review scores by 3.8 points by asking for feedback in real-time.   35. Travel Appeal Destination Report Travel Appeal’s On-demand Destination Reports are tailor made for independent and chain hotels, DMOs, and tour operators looking for deeper information about their territory. These reports are available for any city, region, or territory within a few days, and can be used to analyze visitor groups, sentiment scores, trends, competitors, online channels, seasonality, and more. Compare different time periods (up to three years back) and learn about the reputation of the destination, individual sectors (F&B, retail, experiences, and more), and what topics are most discussed in relation to your specific area. Know what to highlight in your marketing campaign and help your concierge team craft the perfect experience for your guests.   36. LoungUp WhatsApp Messaging LoungeUp debuted its new WhatsApp Messaging function, adding a new way to communicate with guests. Use this tool to initiate contact with each customer before they arrive over WhatsApp. Send guests a way to check-in in advance, pay their deposit, book a shuttle to the hotel, or offer an upgrade. Automate some of the time-consuming administrative process and offer real, conversational exchanges with guests. With 1.5 billion worldwide users per month (as of January, 2019) worldwide, WhatsApp is the number one messaging platform, ahead of Facebook Messenger (1.3), Wechat (1.1), Skype (0.3), Snapchat, Viber and Line.   37. Zaplox Mobile Check-in Zaplox Premium iterates on Zaplox’s original product with new mobile-check in and mobile key functionality. This app integrates with most leading PMS and lock systems to streamline check-in. The custom-branded app allows your property to connect with guests before, during, and after their stay. Guests can use the Zaplox app to check-in, preauthorize their credit card, and complete the guest registration before they arrive at the hotel. Includes mobile keys with integration with lock vendors ASSA ABLOY, dormakaba and SALTO systems as well as large PMS providers, such as Oracle, Agilysys, protel, StayNTouch, Maestro, and more.   38. MyStay Mobile Check-in MyStay Check-in Agent is a tablet-based software solution that can make your check-in process 100% digital at the front desk and anywhere at your hotel. The tablet scans guest documents, and then prompts the guest to add missing information, agree to house rules, and sign the check-in card. This increases the accuracy of your guest data, streamlines the check-in process, and allows your team to focus on the guest experience rather than data entry.     Q2 Sales & Group Travel Innovations   39. OPERA Sales & Event Management Oracle’s OPERA Sales and Event Management Cloud (OSEM) helps hotels reduce the extra time spent managing data entry related to events. OSEM provides a single view of all a hotel’s event booking details and revenue across rooms and event spaces for easier audit and analysis. Properties can increase their event revenue by optimizing inventory, bookings, streamlining logistics and providing smooth event logistics. The tool helps streamline operations, increase communication and cooperation across departments, and respond faster to customers.   40. Atomize Group Booking Pricing Module Atomize announced fresh updates to its Group Booking Pricing Module with a tool that helps revenue managers to instantly calculate the optimal rate for groups. This module now presents both the total recommended price and displaced transient revenue for the group, along with details such as prices per room type and date. A separate module introduces the ability to email yourself the group pricing recommendation for future reference.   41. MeetingPackage Analytics MeetingPackage has a new analytics extension for meetings and events bookings that allows you to advertise your meetings and events the same way you would advertise your hotel rooms. The analytics extension allows Google Analytics to track the full customer journey, capturing the total revenue of the meeting/event. Measure the booking process from the very first ad click until the event date, and make smarter marketing decisions on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn to drive valuable direct traffic.   42. SABA Hospitality Digital Conference Tool SABA Hospitality’s SABA Conference is a digital conference tool that provides automatic answers to the questions and requests of conference hosts and attendees directly to their mobile devices. From conference information, directions and amenities, and information on the surrounding area, all information is easily accessible in multiple languages, and can be presented in any format (e.g. links, videos, text, maps and images). Users don’t need to download a thing, making it easier for conference organizers to ensure all relevant information is received by attendees. Hosts and property operators simply enter the relevant information, and the platform presents it in a branded and engaging way.   43. EVENTMACHINE Instant Quote EVENTMACHINE IQ Instant Quote automatically plans and quotes events based on a few simple inputs, like date or event type. Rather than tasking an event manager to manually select and calculate event spaces, catering and equipment. Eventmachine IQ can reduce that manual effort. Get instant, custom quotes emailed in a professional PDF proposal.   44. Get Into MoRe Strategy Dashboard Get Into MoRe has built a new Strategy Dashboard advises whether or not you should allow an inquiry to proceed with booking your events space. One small event could easily reserve a space and prevent a more profitable, large event. Strategy Dashboard uses a red light/green light system to tell you if an inquiry is worth accepting – or if you should hold out for another booking request.   45. THYNK Meetings Management THYNK has a new product, MYCE, a customer-centric meeting events and venue management system. The flexible, cloud-based system uses Salesforce to automate the sales process follow-up with task automation and two-way integration with your PMS, POS, and other applications. Assign tasks across departments and add the group booking module to make it easier to manage event bookings.   Q2 New Innovations in Food & Beverage   46. Bbot Smart Ordering System Bbot Smart Ordering system allows guests to order room service on their phone from their room without downloading an app or signing up for a new service and integrates with popular hotel PMS and POS systems.  Guests order and pay for food + drinks right from their room without having to call down, which means you save on labor and menu management.  Bbot recently rolled out new PMS integrations including Mews & Opera.                   47. Apicbase's Production Planning Tool Apicbase’s Production Planning tool streamlines kitchen operations at your property by making food production reliable and repeatable. Save money and reduce food waste by up to 30% with automated to-do lists, real-time inventory updates, and a function that allows your team to predict how many quantities will be needed at each meal. Prep only what you need and make the most of ingredients in your pantry to lower your food budget.  

Hoteliers Share Their Advice for Recovery

by
Kelly Robb
1 week ago

Revinate has been regularly surveying our customers to understand how they’re feeling, how they’re thinking about their businesses and what they need to be successful. Our most recent survey, which received 297 responses from global hoteliers asked, “If you experienced an extreme down cycle in bookings in the past, what was most helpful to you during that time?" While the situation today is quite unlike any others the industry has weathered, the responses provide some great insight into how hoteliers are thinking about recovery. As you begin the arduous task of opening up your doors to travelers, which we anticipate happening soon, albeit more staggered than we once thought, we hope this advice from your peers helps.   Keep service levels high When you reopen your doors, you might be operating with a skeleton crew. It might be awhile before you can bring back your furloughed workers or rehire so you’re going to have to do more with less. In some areas, such as housekeeping, you might be okay since guests may now request that housekeepers not enter the room during the stay. Avoid cutting costs that negatively impact service levels if you can avoid it. For example, keep the front desk well-staffed so guests don’t have long waits. Also, if you run a luxury property, don’t cut amenities, such as flowers or welcome cocktails. These are the things that make your property feel luxurious and they will be missed.   Continue to invest in marketing and sales Many survey respondents expressed in their comments that now is not the time to “go dark.” Research conducted by the Hotel School at Cornell University shows that “firms that ‘invest’ in marketing, especially in tough times, can achieve a payoff via various revenue drivers and will realize gains beyond just the short term.” In a recent video post, researcher, professor and consultant, Sherri Kimes, suggested that it’s very important to continue to engage your audience, including guests, meeting planners and groups, to stay top of mind and to build relationships. While some feel that engaging with guests during a pandemic is inappropriate, customers want to hear from brands. In fact, over 85% of U.S. consumers said it is completely acceptable for companies and brands to be communicating at this time. But it’s important to engage intelligently and segment your audience. Now is not a time to spray and pray emails. Rather, the message must fit the customer. One survey respondent advises, “Email to current guests only. Don't want to inundate them with "covid" info. We are all getting too much!” Another says, "Leisure should come back first so create relevant options for that segment." When it comes to smart sales techniques, many hotels are now leveraging sales resources to manage things like rebooking groups for later dates. Proactively reaching out to travelers to rebook with no cancellation penalty is a great way to save a booking that has a high likelihood of canceling.   Use downtime wisely Use the time to master unique niche customer segments. One survey respondent suggested using the time to “reevaluate where your business is from.” For example, since most experts predict that the local market will rebound first, spend some time learning about your local guests by examining the data in your CRM. Do they typically travel alone or with their families? What is the segment’s average nights booked and LTV? These answers can help you plan great packages for when travel restrictions are lifted. Experts, like Sherri Kimes, also suggest that hotels use this period to do community service. Many brands are offering rooms to healthcare workers, donating food and offering their hotels to sick patients for quarantining. With little to no demand, it’s a win-win for everyone.   Hold onto your pricing One thing we learned from past recessions, especially immediately after 9/11, is that you can’t create demand through price when people don’t feel safe traveling. Hoteliers advise keeping your rates competitive. Even if you have the lowest rate of your comp-set, you’re not going to get the booking if no one is looking to travel. When the market is ready to venture out and travel, you will be happy that you and your comp set haven’t raced to the bottom. In a Triptease blog post Chetan Patel of ONYX Hospitality advises, “To be in line with your competition, monitor what’s happening in the market. If you drop your rate too low, you’ll be leaving money on the table - and it can be hard to recover post-crisis! Focus on getting the price right and offer flexible cancellation conditions. If your customers have confidence that they can cancel, they'll be more open to booking at your property.”   Be flexible with cancelations As Chetan mentions above, be flexible with cancellations, even when travel restrictions are lifted. In order to capture new bookings, you will need to appeal to customers that might still be apprehensive about traveling, especially since the virus might reappear somewhere and cause new shelter-in-place measures. Hoteliers agree that in this day and age, it’s a good business practice to prioritize your relationship with the guest over short-term revenue losses. A cancelation has a temporary impact on your business but upsetting a customer has a life-long impact.   Finally, focus on providing great experiences When bookings come back, they will likely come back slowly. Some hotels I’ve spoken with recently are planning to open with just a fraction of their rooms available initially until demand picks up. Use low occupancy as a chance to engage your guests in a personal way. As one survey respondent says, “Increase the one on one with customers to make them feel more wanted and show we care about everyone.” Be liberal with upgrades. If you have the resources, encourage your front desk staff to walk your guests to their rooms and share their favorite local spots. Or, use the data you have in your CRM to surprise and delight them with a nice in-room amenity. In conclusion, any extra effort you go to with your early guests post-Covid will inspire them to share their experiences with others and will help you build loyalty, which will be key to driving more bookings. As governments begin to talk about relaxing shelter-in-place restrictions, we can feel people’s excitement building to escape the house and experience something new. We hope they find their way into your hotels.  

Hotel Brands: Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, IHG (Who Owns What?)

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 days ago

Did you know that there are 214 Marriott International hotels in New York City alone? How about that The Algonquin Hotel is a Marriott property? And for bonus points: can you name all of Marriott’s 30 hotel brands? Hotel companies are growing beyond the traditional standardized brands to include collections of boutique hotels, timeshare developments, and even vacation rentals. The proliferation of highly targeted niche brands, coupled with mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships and the rise of soft brands, has created quite the tapestry of hotel brands. Travelers today have options across the spectrum, even including dozens of choices within a single chain's portfolio. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve organized the world's leading hotel brands by both parent company and chain scale.   For those who don't know the chain scale system, it's essentially Smith Travel Research's star ratings system used by hotel professionals to distinguish between different levels of properties. We’ll keep the list updated over time, so bookmark this page as a resource to consult on the current landscape of hotel brands worldwide. Whether you are considering which flag to put on your next property or want to figure out which brand you should book for your next trip - this guide is for you. First, we break the brands down by parent company, and then we organize the brands by chain scale. This gives you two ways to browse: either by portfolio or hotel category. Our sources include company development hubs, investor disclosures, Lodging Magazine, and Wikipedia. When it comes to each brand’s concept, we've pulled this information directly from hotel development resources to highlight how each brand is being positioned by its parent company. While some of this is certainly marketing-speak, this information is helpful to understand each brand’s target niche. We've also highlighted any key metrics around ADR and RevPAR that we found in company development disclosures. Keep in mind that this was prior to the covid-19 pandemic, so these numbers are most likely in flux. Using the STR chain scale categories, we organize this article starting from luxury to economy: Luxury Hotel Brands Upper Upscale Hotel Brands Upscale Hotel Brands Upper Midscale Hotel Brands Economy Hotel Brands Soft Brands (usually upper upscale)   We also break out the hotel brands by chain in these articles: Hilton Hotel Brands Marriott Hotel Brands Hyatt Hotel Brands IHG Hotel Brands   Luxury Hotel Brands Luxury hotels are known for their exceptional service, high-end finishes, premium amenities, and well-appointed rooms in notable locations around the world. The Pinnacle of Luxury Brands Planning a honeymoon or a once-in-a-lifetime vacation? Brands like Ritz-Carlton (Marriott), St. Regis (Marriott), Park Hyatt (Hyatt), Bulgari (Marriott), and Regent (IHG) offer truly unique experiences. From the moment you step into one of their grand lobbies (after a doorman opens the door for you, of course), you’ll be wowed not only by the stunning decor but also by the world-class service. Luxury brands like these target affluent luxury travelers who expect the best of the best.   Pictured: Bulgari Hotel Dubai   These brands represent the cream of the crop of the big hotel companies’ portfolios. They compete with renowned, independent luxury brands like Four Seasons, Rosewood, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula, and Aman. Although these hotels come with eye-wateringly high price tags, you can sometimes snag a fantastic deal when you redeem points you’ve earned by staying at lower-end properties.   Pictured: The Ritz-Carlton Macau   Perhaps the most well known of the luxury brands is Ritz-Carlton. When you stay “at the Ritz,” you’ll experience not only white-glove service, but also spectacular amenities that include golf courses, spas, dining venues, and kids programming. Located in urban and resort destinations in 35 countries, Ritz-Carltons are known for their timeless, elegant aesthetic and legendary hospitality. Though they’re both owned by Marriott, a close competitor of Ritz is St. Regis. Spanning over 100 years of history, the St. Regis brand is renowned for service, style, and sophistication. Each property offers a unique afternoon tea ceremony, a tranquil spa, and an interpretation of the brand’s signature drink, the Bloody Mary.    Pictured: Park Hyatt Bangkok   Similar to Ritz and St. Regis, but with a more cosmopolitan flair, is Park Hyatt. As the pinnacle of Hyatt’s luxury brands, Park Hyatt properties showcase some of the finest gastronomy, service, and design in their destinations, which include cities like Paris, Beijing, and New York. Park Hyatt targets the most discerning travelers who travel, on average, over 30 times per year, and seek truly unique experiences. Looking for a place to show off your haute couture? Inspired by the distinctive style of the Italian jewelry designer, Bulgari hotels offer glamorous hideaways for the jet-setting glitterati. Hotel amenities range from private beach clubs, Michelin-starred restaurants, high-end spas, and customized tours and activities. You won’t find Bulgari hotels everywhere; the 6 properties are located in carefully chosen destinations like Milan, Bali, and Dubai. Like Bulgari, Regent Hotels offer innovative design, exceptional service, and a sense of wonder for frequent travelers who have seen it all - but at a slightly lower price tag. Regent carefully curates its small collection of properties so each one stays true to the brand standard.Regent’s collection is also small, containing 6 properties in 4 countries.   Classic Luxury Brands While the ultra-luxury properties can carry a somewhat pretentious reputation, classic luxury brands like Waldorf Astoria (Hilton), JW Marriott (Marriott), Grand Hyatt (Hyatt), Hyatt Zilara/Hyatt Ziva (Hyatt), and Hualuxe (IHG) are more understated, while still luxurious. These properties are equally suitable for family vacations and business trips with their elegant decor, top-notch amenities, and genuine service. They appeal to wealthy travelers with discerning tastes who prefer a traditional aesthetic.   Pictured: Waldorf Astoria Chicago   A small step below its competitors St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton, the Waldorf Astoria brand is synonymous with timeless hospitality. This iconic brand stems from the original, century-old Waldorf Astoria in New York City, but now includes over 32 hotels in 14 countries. Guests can expect personalized service and luxurious amenities, including golf courses at many properties. Competing closely with Waldorf Astoria is the JW Marriott brand, which has a slightly less opulent aesthetic but a larger global footprint (110 properties in 29 countries). These luxury hotels offer one-of-a-kind experiences for the whole family, from art classes for the little ones to romantic spa treatments, with a focus on being present and mindful. JW Marriott’s target guests are “enrichment seekers” who want to engage with their destination. Like Waldorf Astoria and JW Marriott, the Grand Hyatt brand offers premium amenities tailored to all types of guests, from business travelers to families. Grand Hyatt hotels and resorts include spas, meeting and event space, dining venues, and refined architecture and decor, with notable properties in Tokyo and Abu Dhabi. Travelers looking for a luxurious, family-friendly experience in a resort destination should consider Hyatt Zilara/Hyatt Ziva, which offer a similar level of service and amenities as the previously mentioned brands. Located in vacation destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, these high-end resorts offer a premium, all-inclusive experience for couples and families. Amenities include top-of-the-line fitness centers, spas, restaurants, bars, and event spaces, plus spectacular outdoor pools and beach access. Hyatt Zilara/Hyatt Ziva competes not only with traditional luxury hotels, but also cruise lines and resorts like Club Med and RIU.   Pictured: Hualuxe Wuhu   Speaking of traditional luxury hotels, IHG’s Hualuxe brand takes tradition to a new level. Featuring traditional Chinese design, amenities, and etiquette, Hualuxe caters to elite business travelers in 10 markets in China. These hotels include nature-inspired decor, local food and beverage offerings, and meeting spaces suitable for conferences or social gatherings with clients. It’s a close competitor of Mandarin Oriental, since they both offer Asian-inspired service and design.   Design-Focused Luxury Brands For the high-end traveler who doesn’t want to stay in a stuffy, old-fashioned hotel, design-forward brands like W Hotels (Marriott), EDITION (Marriott), Andaz (Hyatt), Conrad (Hilton), and Thompson Hotels (Hyatt) deliver exceptional service in totally out-of-the-box surroundings. You’ll feel like you’re staying inside a work of art at these hotels. Eye-catching decor, funky lighting, and unique architecture come standard. Though they’re part of major hotel chains, you’ll have a hard time believing these properties are remotely related to big-box brands like Courtyard or Hampton. Interested in more hotels with a creative bent? Check out the design-focused soft brands at the end of this article.   Pictured: W New York Downtown   Taking inspiration from music, events, and technology, W Hotels is a leading luxury brand with a completely unique look. This brand competes with luxury boutique brands like Morgans and the Standard. W Hotels think outside of the box with design-forward architecture, cutting-edge tech, and an emphasis on music. Many properties have on-site recording studios, high-energy nightclubs and bars, poolside events, and fitness classes that encourage you to detox before you re-tox. Like the sound of the W brand? You have plenty to choose from; there are now nearly 70 W hotels around the world, including destinations like Aspen and Barcelona. Andaz is another arts-inspired brand, though these hotels tone down the party atmosphere and turn up the sophistication. Signature features at Andaz hotels include modern design, high-tech meeting spaces, and state-of-the-art fitness facilities, which are especially relevant to the brand’s guests, who often mix business trips with leisure time. Each Andaz incorporates elements of the local arts and culture scene to create a unique sense of place. Like Andaz and W, Marriott’s EDITION combines luxury with design, food, and entertainment. The EDITION brand is the brainchild of famed hotel developer Ian Schrager, and every property features its own unique design infused with the character of its location. The hotels offer contemporary decor, gourmet dining venues, luxurious pools, and buzzing nightclubs. This new brand includes 11 properties in 7 countries. While Andaz, EDITION, and W feature design that’s almost larger than life, Conrad’s urban and resort properties feature subtler, contemporary design, plus spas, wellness facilities, and high-end dining. The brand’s mission is to inspire your experience with tailored service and on-site art collections, and these hotels target design enthusiasts of all ages. Focusing more on designing great culinary experiences, Thompson Hotels is a collection of high-end boutique hotels which combine the unique character of each destination with a mid-century modern theme present. Thompson Hotels typically include vibrant restaurants or bars and funky, unconventional meeting spaces. Close competitors of the Thompson brand include 1Hotels, Rosewood, and NomadHotels.   Luxury Wellness Brands Who doesn’t love a good massage? Luxury wellness hotel brands like Miraval (Hyatt) and Six Senses (IHG) offer possibly the best way to relax (and redeem points) after all those business trips. These brands compete with independent destination spas like Canyon Ranch, La Reserve Geneve, and Rancho Valencia. Miraval is a collection of four all-inclusive wellness resorts in the United States that provide exceptional wellbeing experiences. These exclusive properties offer nutritious cuisine, spa services, and outdoor experiences to nourish body and soul. They cater to luxury travelers who want to unplug and refresh.    Pictured: Six Senses Con Dao   Craving an international escape from the stresses of daily life? While all Miraval properties are based stateside, the Six Senses brand can be found in 14 countries worldwide. Six Senses provides oases of calm set among stunning natural landscapes. Each property has a high-end spa and locally inspired dining outlets, and some have villa- or apartment-style residences that are ideal for longer stays.   Upper Upscale Hotel Brands Positioned slightly under the “luxury” category, upper upscale hotels are full-service properties with premium amenities and notable designs that cater to affluent travelers. They’re usually located in major cities and resort destinations worldwide. Upper Upscale isn’t a one-size-fits-all category, though. We’ll explore three distinct types of Upper Upscale brands: traditional brands, modern brands, and brands that specialize in groups and conventions.   Traditional Upper Upscale Brands With amenities and service that are pretty darn close to what you’d find at a luxury property, these traditional Upper Upscale brands are ideal for business and leisure travelers who want the best, but also want a good value. This category includes InterContinental Hotels and Resorts (IHG), Hyatt Regency (Hyatt), Wyndham Grand (Wyndham), Westin (Marriott), Sheraton (Marriott), Le Meridien (Marriott), Renaissance (Marriott), Hotel Indigo (IHG), and Alila (Hyatt). These brands often compete with luxury brands like Grand Hyatt and Ritz-Carlton, but come at a lower price point.   Pictured: InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam   If there were a chain scale between Luxury and Upper Upscale, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts would embody it perfectly. These sophisticated hotels offer high-end amenities and exceptional service to business and leisure travelers - a good alternative Grand Hyatt, JW Marriott, and W Hotels. InterContinentals often include spas, executive lounges, elegant meeting spaces, and stylish guestroom decor. You’ll find over 200 InterContinental hotels in 68 countries. Sitting squarely in the Upper Upscale tier is Hyatt Regency, which includes urban and resort properties that are suitable for both business and leisure travelers. These hotels are known for classic design, excellent service, and a wide variety of amenities like meeting spaces, business centers, fitness centers, and restaurants. There are also about 200 Hyatt Regency hotels worldwide, so you’ll always be able to find one in major cities.   Pictured: Wyndham Grand Desert, Las Vegas   Like InterContinental and Hyatt Regency, Wyndham Grand hotels feature amenities for both families and business travelers, including pools, spas, meeting spaces, and restaurants. Guestrooms include WynRest® bedding and modern decor, and public spaces offer a taste of the local character - plus great service. And don’t just take Wyndham’s word for it, 97% of Wyndham Grand hotels have earned a Tripadvisor rating of 4 or above.   Pictured: Westin Anaheim Resort   The Westin brand is on par with Hyatt and Wyndham, though these hotels incorporate a focus on wellness into every amenity, from relaxing pools to healthy cuisine at on-site restaurants to their signature pillow-top Heavenly® Beds. The brand’s partnerships with New Balance and TRX provide an array of fitness options, and many properties have kids clubs and spas. Westin hotels cater to business and leisure travelers who seek personal and professional success. With over 80 years of history, the Sheraton brand is a solid competitor of Hyatt Regency and Westin. This brand combines traditional hospitality with modern amenities in destinations around the world. Sheraton hotels feature elegant design, gourmet dining venues, chic executive lounges, sophisticated meeting spaces, and a slew of wellness amenities. Hyatt Regency has a much larger footprint with over 440 hotels in 70+ countries.   Pictured: Le Meridien Koh Samui   Marriott’s Le Meridien brand brings a touch of vintage French glamour to the Upper Upscale space. Le Meridien hotels feature mid-century modern decor, internationally inspired cocktail bars, and partnerships with European brands like Illy Coffee. Some properties have kids clubs, spas, art collections, and seasonal amenities or pop-up dining venues. Le Meridian targets the “creative traveler” and competes with InterContinental, Kimpton, and Hyatt Regency. Renaissance, another Marriott brand, fills a gap between the chic design of InterContinental and the local vibe of Kimpton. The Renaissance brand appeals to curious travelers who want to uncover hidden gems in their destinations. Each hotel’s staff members act as “Navigators” who provide neighborhood recommendations, and locally inspired on-site restaurants and stylish decor add to the sense of place. If Renaissance hotels sound like your type of place, you’ll be happy to know there are nearly 200 of them in 42 countries worldwide.   Pictured: Hotel Indigo Berlin Centre Alexanderplatz   Like Renaissance, IHG’s Hotel Indigo brand could be considered a traditional Upper Upscale brand inspired by boutique hotels. Echoing the destination’s personality, every Hotel Indigo offers curated decor and local cuisine that provide a boutique-style experience in primarily US and European cities. Each property includes 24/7 fitness and business centers (ideal for business travelers!), flexible function space, and premium guestroom amenities that could include rainfall showers and hardwood floors. While many Upper Upscale brands speak to both business and leisure travelers, Hyatt’s Alila brand is most suitable for vacationers who want to get away from it all. Alila, meaning “surprise” in Sanskrit, specializes in experiences that reflect a sense of place, like upscale gastronomy, outdoor adventures, and locally inspired spa services. Alila hotels are primarily located in Asia and can be competitors of Miraval and Ritz-Carlton.   Modern Upper Upscale Brands Do you like the idea of an Upper Upscale hotel but crave a contemporary twist? Brands like Hyatt Centric (Hyatt), Moxy (Marriott), Tempo (Hilton), and Kimpton (IHG) offer the same high-quality amenities and service but with a dash of personality. These brands are also forward-thinking in their design; some offer coworking spaces and tech features that make them more attractive to a younger demographic.   Pictured: Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami   Hyatt Centric is one of the most popular Upper Upscale brands that has a contemporary aesthetic and vision. These modern hotels invite you to explore your destination through local cuisine at the on-site dining venues, staff that act as local “hosts,” and room decor that offers a sense of place. Every hotel has a multi-purpose lobby space where you can dine, drink, work, and socialize. Like Hyatt Centric, Moxy proves that a hotel with great style doesn’t need to be expensive. Signature features include a combination bar and front desk, a funky lobby packed with art and furniture, a cafe open 24/7, and cozy guestrooms with smart TVs and walk-in showers. Moxy bills itself as “edgy and affordable,” and the brand competes with trendy chains like CitizenM, Yotel, and Generator. Hilton’s brand new Tempo brand is an exciting addition to the Upper Upscale category. Tempo offers premium service and a collection of curated wellness and lifestyle amenities, including exclusive bath products and a complimentary tea and coffee bar. Each hotel also has flexible coworking spaces that target a younger demographic that mixes work with leisure.   Pictured: Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver   A longtime boutique chain, Kimpton is now part of IHG, but these hotels still don’t take themselves too seriously.. The brand is known for stylish guestrooms and high-end dining, and while no two hotels are the same, they all offer a complimentary daily wine hour and in-room fitness amenities - plus, pets stay for free. The Kimpton brand competes with Hyatt Centric as well as more classic properties like Le Meridien.   Convention & Group Hotels Looking for the perfect hotel for your meeting or event? Gaylord Hotels (Marriott) and Dolce (Wyndham) are ideal for large-scale gatherings. They’re the perfect settings for functions that range from conventions to weddings. The Gaylord Hotels brand includes large convention center hotels that have everything you need for a conference, meeting, or social gathering. Every Gaylord hotel has over 400,000 square feet of function space and several dining outlets, while some also offer family-friendly recreational amenities like golf courses and water parks. All six Gaylord properties are located in the US, and they offer comparable service and amenities to Destination Hotels properties.   Pictured: Dolce Athens Attica Riviera   Wyndham’s Dolce brand is a curated collection of properties that are ideal for business or social gatherings with flexible event spaces and on-site catering options. Some properties have spas and golf courses, and most are set in tranquil, scenic destinations in the US and Europe.   Upscale Hotel Brands The Upscale category includes full-service hotels with premium amenities that cater to leisure travelers and business professionals. Guests at upscale properties are willing to spend more to stay comfortably in a convenient location or remarkable destination -- but without splurging on over-the-top amenities. There are a lot of brands that fall into the Upscale bracket, so we’ll break them out into traditional, modern, and extended-stay categories to easily explain the differences between them.   Traditional Upscale Brands These brands are the most traditional hotels in every sense of the world. They usually have restaurants, gyms, and rooms that have plenty of amenities, but nothing over the top. Traditional Upscale brands include Crowne Plaza (IHG), Wyndham Hotels (Wyndham), DoubleTree (Hilton), Courtyard (Marriott), Hilton Garden Inn (Hilton), Hyatt Place (Hyatt), and Delta Hotels (Marriott), and they’re suitable for both business travelers and families on vacation. Crowne Plaza tailors its offerings for business travelers with round-the-clock dining options, fitness centers, meeting spaces, and amenities to help you get a good night’s sleep. Most properties are located in major business centers, while some are in leisure destinations, in 65 countries worldwide. Crowne Plaza is a close competitor of DoubleTree, Sheraton, and Renaissance. Wyndham is a longtime brand that includes both urban hotels that cater to business travelers and family-friendly resorts that cater to vacationers. All hotels have meeting space, fitness centers, and dining options, and some offer pools, beach access, and in-room wellness amenities like aromatherapy and air purification systems. Wyndham properties are at the higher end of the Upscale category, competing with Upper Upscale brands like Hilton and Marriott.   Pictured: DoubleTree Hotel Dallas   Hilton’s DoubleTree brand is a close competitor of Wyndham. The brand is famous for their signature chocolate chip cookie at check-in. DoubleTree hotels cater to business and leisure travelers with traditional decor, fitness centers, meeting spaces, on-site restaurants, and golf courses and spas at some properties. DoubleTrees are set in primarily urban locations in 46 countries around the world. As Marriott’s largest brand by number of hotels, Courtyard hotels have business centers, gyms, pools (in some properties), and an all-day bistro serving food, Starbucks coffee, and drinks. Guestrooms are suitable for all kinds of travelers, with desks and modern decor. Courtyard hotels are more “cookie-cutter” than Wyndham and DoubleTree, and the brand has a much larger footprint - over 1200 properties in 56 countries! Like Courtyard, Hilton Garden Inn hotels are largely the same in every city - which is a great thing if you want to be confident in the hotel’s quality and amenities. Known for their classic, bright aesthetic, Hilton Garden Inn hotels are located in both major metropolitan markets and small towns. This brand is a favorite among business travelers, and each hotel has a spacious lobby, meeting space, a fitness center, and cooked-to-order breakfast available daily. On par with Courtyard and Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt Place is designed for guests who want comfort and consistency. Hyatt Place hotels have gyms, meeting spaces, lobby bars, and daily breakfast service (free for Hyatt members). Guestrooms include modern decor and workspaces, and you can usually find Hyatt Place hotels in urban, airport, or college campus markets. Marriott’s Delta brand also caters to business travelers who want both functionality and style, Delta Hotels offer fitness centers, free WiFi and water bottles, ergonomic in-room workspaces, lobby bars, and the 24/7 “Delta Pantry.”   Modern Upscale Brands While the traditional Upscale hotels offer consistency, these modern hotels offer something unique. Brands like Signia (Hilton), Caption (Hyatt), EVEN Hotels (IHG), Voco (IHG), Dazzler (Wyndham), and Esplendor (Wyndham) provide stylish, communal spaces for working and socializing, refreshing dining options, and decor that reflects the local character. These hotels are competitors of not only the traditional hotels in this space, like Courtyard and DoubleTree, but also independent and boutique hotels in each destination. Designed for social and corporate gatherings, Hilton’s new Signia brand offers a sleek aesthetic, high-quality bars and restaurants, and cutting-edge technology in guestrooms and public spaces. The first Signia hotels are planned for Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Orlando. Another new brand, Hyatt’s Caption, is also centered around social connections, but with an emphasis on local cuisine. Caption hotels have flexible common spaces and a unique dining concept that combines a cafe, a bar, and a market at each property. Caption properties are slated to be located in up-and-coming urban areas.   Pictured: EVEN Hotels-Omaha   Catering to the fitness-focused business traveler, EVEN Hotels offer health-conscious cuisine at the Cork & Kale™ Market and Bar, state-of-the-art fitness centers, and spacious guestrooms with exercise equipment and ergonomic workspaces. This brand is a good competitor of Courtyard and Hilton Garden Inn, but it offers enhanced fitness amenities that appeal to wellness-minded travelers. There are currently 13 EVEN properties in the U.S., but that number is likely to grow quickly. Outside of the U.S., IHG’s new Voco brand provides a relaxed, homey experience for travelers who are looking for something besides a cookie-cutter chain hotel. Voco properties are located in the UK, Asia, and Australia, and many have on-site restaurants and living room-style lobbies similar to what you would find at a Hyatt Centric. Also found abroad, Dazzler is a stylish Latin American brand known for contemporary design, free buffet breakfast, and upscale public spaces like gyms, pools, and rooftop decks. These hotels are also reminiscent of Hyatt Centric. Dazzler properties are primarily located in urban markets in South America.   Pictured: Esplendor by Wyndham Buenos Aires   Located in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, Wyndham’s Esplendor brand features curated art collections, a boutique ambiance, and comfortable and classic guestroom decor at each unique property. Some Esplendor hotels have pools, spas, and fitness centers, and the brand’s target demographic is younger guests who appreciate good design. Esplendor is a solid competitor of Kimpton and Hyatt Centric.   Extended-Stay Upscale Brands Some of us wish our travels could last for weeks or months, but for certain travelers, they do. Extended-stay Upscale brands like Homewood Suites (Hilton), Hyatt House (Hyatt), Residence Inn (Marriott), and Element (Marriott) offer apartment-style rooms that have everything you need to feel at home. These brands compete not only with other hotel brands, but also with Airbnb and corporate housing providers. Pictured: Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Hotel Circle/SeaWorld Area   Marriott’s Homewood Suites brand is ideal for guests who are staying for an extended period of time - for business or personal purposes. Every room includes a full kitchen (with dishwasher!), a living area, and ample storage space, and the hotels provide free hot breakfast, a free weekday happy hour, and fitness centers. Fun fact: Homewood Suites was named as having the fastest-growing value out of 50 hotel brands! Named for the very first Hyatt property, Hyatt House offers extended stay accommodation for all types of travelers. Every suite features a full kitchen, living area, and up to two bedrooms, and on-site amenities include free breakfast, a gym, a coin-op laundry room, a bar, and a pool (at some properties). With a home-like ambiance, Residence Inn hotels cater to business travelers and families who need a place to stay for weeks or months at a time. Each room includes a full kitchen, a workspace, and up to two bedrooms, and hotel amenities include free hot breakfast, a fitness center, a nightly social hour, and on-site laundry. Renaissance Inn, Hyatt House, and Homewood Suites are all close competitors. For long-stay guests who are passionate about fitness and sustainability, Marriott’s Element brand might be the perfect fit. Element incorporates sustainable practices and a focus on wellness into the design and amenities at each property, which can include premium fitness equipment, bikes for guest use, saltwater swimming pools, and organic wine at the nightly manager’s reception. Guestrooms feature full kitchens and Westin Heavenly® Beds.   Upper Midscale Hotel Brands Upper Midscale hotels offer spacious accommodations while catering often to extended stays for both business and leisure. Many of these brands have unveiled modern refreshes that bring the category out of the past and into the present. For more clarity, we’ll break out the extended-stay brands at the end of this section. Standard Upper Midscale hotel brands that don’t target extended stays specifically include Hampton (Hilton), Fairfield (Marriott), La Quinta (Wyndham), Atwell (IHG), TRYP (Wyndham), Wyndham Garden (Wyndham), and Protea (Marriott).   Pictured: Hampton Inn Boston - Westborough    One of the most popular Upper Midscale brands is Hilton’s Hampton, which is formerly known as Hampton Inn. This brand appeals to all types of travelers, with a whopping 2500+ properties in rural and urban markets, primarily in the US. Signature amenities include free hot breakfast, gyms, business centers, and multipurpose lobby space. A close competitor to Hampton is Marriott’s Fairfield, which is also suitable for business and leisure travelers alike, Fairfield is known for its simple aesthetic and efficient guestrooms. Most Fairfield hotels offer free breakfast, fitness centers, business centers, and meeting space, and some have pools. While Fairfield properties are a lot like Hampton, the brand’s footprint is smaller, with about 1150 properties worldwide. If you’ve tried Hampton and Fairfield and are looking for something new, the recently refreshed La Quinta brand might be of interest. All La Quinta hotels have modern decor, free breakfast, and guestrooms with pillow-top beds and HDTVs. Some properties have pools, fitness centers, meeting spaces, and pet-friendly policies, making them ideal for both business and leisure travelers seeking a good value. Maybe you’ve already tried La Quinta too - or you’re searching for a brand that’s more unique than the tried-and-true classics. IHG just launched Atwell Suites, which they bill as a new brand that speaks to travelers who seek personal growth and crave social connection, with flexible public areas, free breakfast, and colorful decor. Each Atwell hotel will have suite-style guestrooms, a pool, a bar, and meeting space.    Pictured: TRYP by Wyndham Dubai   If the Atwell brand strikes a chord with you, then you’ll probably like Wyndham’s TRYP brand too. Pops of color add a playful personality to every TRYP hotel, where you’ll also find at least one restaurant, a fitness center, free WiFi, and staff that serve as local experts. TRYP aims to help travelers have authentic experiences in the brand’s destinations on five continents. Many TRYP hotels are located in urban markets, and the brand competes with the hip Moxy, Aloft, and Tru hotels. In addition to its La Quinta and TRYP brands, Wyndham offers yet another option in the Upper Midscale space: Wyndham Garden. Typically located near airports or in secondary markets, Wyndham Garden hotels have meeting spaces, free WiFi, and daily breakfast service (fee applies). Some Wyndham Garden properties have pools, fitness centers, and lobby bars.   Pictured: Protea Hotel Knysna Quays   Marriott also has multiple players in the Upper Midscale space - the Africa-based Protea brand is a solid competitor of Hampton and IHG’s Holiday Inn Express. Protea hotels have full-service restaurants, meeting and event spaces, and free WiFi, and many have outdoor pools. Some Protea properties are located in urban, business-focused destinations, while others are in scenic leisure destinations. The brand currently has about 80 properties in 9 countries.   Extended-Stay Upper Midscale Brands Staying in your destination for a while and want all the amenities of an apartment - at a fair price? Staybridge Suites (IHG) and TownePlace Suites (Marriott) offer two wallet-friendly solutions for extended stays that don’t compromise on quality. Featuring spacious guestrooms with kitchens and living areas, Staybridge Suites is ideal for guests staying in a destination for several weeks or months. Hotel amenities include free breakfast, a free social happy hour, a gym, a laundry room, and storage lockers. Staybridge Suites is a good option if you want a hotel similar to Homewood Suites or Residence Inn at a slightly lower price point. Like Staybridge Suites, TownePlace Suites offers everything an extended stay guest could need, from full kitchens and custom closets in every room to a free hot breakfast every morning. On-site amenities include Weber grills, a 24/7 grab-and-go market, and a fitness center and pool at some properties, and the 450+ TownePlace hotels are located throughout the US and Canada.   Midscale Hotel Brands Featuring more amenities than Economy hotels but lower prices than Upper Midscale, Midscale hotels are found in urban areas as well as on highways and other transportation hubs. Many also have refreshed designs with contemporary amenities that today’s traveler expects. As new sub-brands emerge, we’ve noticed a trend towards increasingly modern and design-forward offerings in this category - which is dominated by Wyndham brands. Midscale brands include AmericInn (Wyndham), Baymont (Wyndham), Hawthorn Suites (Wyndham), Ramada (Wyndham), Wingate (Wyndham), and Tru (Hilton). We’ll start with the more traditional Midscale brands, then we’ll introduce the new, modern additions to this group. These Midscale chains compete with independent brands like Best Western and America’s Best Value Inn. Located primarily in the midwestern United States, AmericInn hotels offer free hot breakfast, fitness centers, indoor pools, and comfortable lobbies. Guestrooms include classic decor, desks, and TVs, making these hotels ideal for value-oriented business and leisure travelers. And travelers definitely like what AmericInn offers; 86% of AmericInn hotels score a 4+ rating on Tripadvisor!   Pictured: Baymont Inn & Suites Miami Airport   The Baymont brand includes unpretentious hotels that offer free breakfast, fitness centers, no-frills guestrooms, and thoughtful extras like board games and pet amenities. Baymont properties are located in rural and suburban locations throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. Baymont hotels are usually positioned toward the lower end of the Midscale spectrum and compete with Economy brands like Days Inn, EconoLodge, and Quality Inn. If you like the price point and no-frills attitude of Baymont and AmericInn but want a place that’s more comfortable for a long stay, then Wyndham’s Hawthorn Suites might be a good pick. Ideal for longer stays for business or leisure, most Hawthorn Suites properties include a fitness center, laundry facilities, and free daily breakfast and social hours. Guestrooms feature full kitchens, one or two private bedrooms, and living areas with couches and desks - making them a lower priced version of a TownePlace Suites or Hyatt Place.   Pictured: Ramada by Wyndham Amsterdam Airport Schiphol   But perhaps you’re looking for something with a fresher design and more modern amenities. The Ramada brand has been around since the 1950s, but today’s Ramada hotels offer 21st-century essentials like free WiFi and business centers in addition to free breakfast. Many Ramada properties are located near airports around the world, and some have pools, restaurants, and meeting spaces. Wingate is another brand that offers a new interpretation of the Midscale hotel concept. The corporate-oriented Wingate brand is known for its clean, modern aesthetic, spacious lobbies, free breakfast, and bright guestrooms that are perfect for business travelers who spend a lot of time on the road. Guestroom amenities include microwaves, mini-fridges, desks, and coffee makers, and some Wingate hotels have lobby bars and business centers. If you like the vibe of a Moxy hotel, Wingate can be a cheaper alternative.   Pictured: Tru by Hilton Stuttgart   A fresh face in the Midscale category is Hilton’s fast-growing Tru brand. The centerpoint of each of these cheerful, value-oriented hotels is the large lobby, which features a 24/7 sundry market, coworking space, plenty of seating, and pool and foosball tables. Tru’s efficient guestrooms have desks on wheels and spacious bathrooms, and you can work up a sweat at the on-site fitness center.   Economy Hotel Brands Economy hotels target the most budget-conscious travelers. These hotels are often found on highways and near airports. The rooms are simple and amenities sparse, although the hotel usually provides a basic self-service breakfast. Like the Midscale category, Wyndham dominates the Economy segment when we compare the top hotel companies. Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG have no brands here - yet. Economy brands include Days Inn (Wyndham), Howard Johnson (Wyndham), Microtel (Wyndham), Super 8 (Wyndham), and Travelodge (Wyndham).     Pictured: Days Inn Niagara Falls    With its iconic sunburst logo easily recognizable from the highway, Days Inn offers free breakfast and free WiFi to travelers on a budget. Some Days Inns have fitness centers, pools, restaurants, and meeting spaces, and the brand includes over 1600 properties on six continents. Like Days Inn, Howard Johnson is also an iconic roadside motel brand. Featuring an updated look, today’s Howard Johnsons combine retro-inspired decor with 21st-century amenities like USB outlets and free WiFi. All Howard Johnson hotels are suitable for families and offer free breakfast, while some have pools, meeting space, and pet-friendly policies. Though the name might suggest otherwise, Microtel properties are just as spacious as other economy hotels, such as Days Inn and Red Roof Inn. These hotels feature comfortable lobbies, free breakfast, and free WiFi. Guestrooms are efficiently designed and include microwaves and mini-fridges, and some Microtels include pools, fitness centers, meeting space, and free parking.   Pictured: Super 8 by Wyndham Dresden   If Days Inn or Howard Johnson sounded like your type of hotel, then you might also be interested in Super 8. This one is also a modernized version of the roadside motel. Super 8 hotels are known for free breakfast, free WiFi, and simple guestrooms with amenities like microwaves and flat-screen TVs. Some Super 8s have indoor or outdoor pools, and the brand is present in primarily rural markets across the US, Canada, China, and Europe. Super 8, Days Inn, and their competitors are great if you’re on a road trip or visiting a small town for work. But are there any Economy hotels that are not located on the highway? Travelodge hotels are usually situated in urban markets, by airports, or near national parks. They offer basic amenities at a low price, making them good competitors of other Economy brands, Airbnbs, and even hostels.  Many Travelodges have free breakfast, free parking, free WiFi, fitness centers, and pools, making them suitable for budget travelers or sports teams.   Soft Brands & Collections What is a “soft brand” exactly? Having become a popular trend in recent years, soft brands are collections of independent hotels that maintain an affiliation with a larger hospitality company. These collections bring together boutiques and other independent hotels into a distinctive portfolio under one brand umbrella. Their connections to leading hotel companies allow travelers to earn or redeem points via a global loyalty program. While the hotels that make up each soft brand are unique, the soft brands themselves have their own characteristics. We’ll break down the big “soft brand” category into three sub-segments: luxury, design-focused, and boutique.   Luxury Soft Brands Searching for a splurge-worthy vacation that will earn rewards points? Luxury soft brands like LXR (Hilton), The Luxury Collection (Marriott), Destination Hotels (Hyatt), the Unbound Collection (Hyatt), and the Curio Collection (Hilton) offer the best of two worlds: exclusive, luxurious hotels and resorts - and the loyalty programs of their parent brands. These hotels are great options for point redemptions when you don’t want to stay at a Westin, Park Hyatt, or Six Senses.   Pictured: Habtoor Palace Dubai (LXR)   On par with luxury hotels like Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis, LXR’s exclusive collection of luxury hotels and resorts targets affluent travelers with a sense of adventure and an appreciation for personalized service. Renowned LXR properties include Zemi Beach House in Anguilla and The Biltmore, Mayfair in London. Properties in this collection are similar to what you’ll find in the Luxury Collection and Destination Hotels. A close competitor of LXR, Marriott’s Luxury Collection includes 236 properties in 55 countries. Set in truly unique destinations, often away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Luxury Collection hotels offer bucket list-worthy accommodations and local experiences that you can’t find anywhere else. The Luxury Collection includes Vedema in Santorini (where you can taste wine in an ancient cave) and Solaz in Los Cabos (where you can explore an on-site museum).    Pictured: Wild Dunes Resort (Destination Hotels)   Destination Hotels offers beautiful properties with a more family-friendly atmosphere than some ultra-premium brands. With hotels located in remarkable locations across the United States, Destination’s collection includes properties that specialize in spa, golf, and luxury experiences and offer amenities for business and leisure travelers - similar to yet slightly above what you’d find at Marriott’s Autograph Collection. One-of-a-kind Destination Hotels include The Lodge at Kukui’ula in Hawai’i and Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina. Positioned just beneath true luxury collections like LXR and Destination, the Unbound Collection includes luxury and upper-upscale hotels that range from historic to ultra-modern and cosmopolitan to secluded. The Unbound Collection’s guests “crave the unconventional and expect the exceptional,” so you can be sure you will get a truly unique experience. Examples of Unbound Collection properties are the Carmelo Resort & Spa in Carmelo, Uruguay and The Eliza Jane in New Orleans.   Pictured: Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton   While Destination and the Unbound Collection include many family-friendly properties in leisure vacation destinations, Hilton’s Curio Collection is known for its portfolio of historic, distinctive four- and five-star hotels. This brand targets open-minded travelers, both business travelers and vacation-goers, who want the experience of an independent hotel and the level of service expected from an upscale Hilton. Notable Curio hotels include The Trafalgar St. James London and The Logan Philadelphia.   Design-Focused Soft Brands All soft brands technically place emphasis on design - since they’re a far cry from the “big box” brands - but this group makes a special effort to include properties that are truly exceptional. Both Design Hotels (Marriott) and Tribute Portfolio (Marriott) can be viewed as competitors of luxury or upper upscale brands, but a better comparison is to truly independent hotels or independent-leaning chains like Leading Hotels of the World. Since each one of these hotels is so unique, you wouldn’t know it’s part of a “chain” unless someone told you!   Pictured: Ion Adventure Hotel, Selfoss, Iceland (Design Hotels)   With striking architecture and inventive decor, Design Hotels push the boundaries of the traditional image of a hotel. These hotels are located in a variety of locations around the world, from cities to remote beaches, The Design Hotels collection includes over 300 properties on six continents. Exceptionally notable hotels are Habita in Mexico City and Analeya in Marrakech.   Pictured: The Vagabond Club Singapore (Tribute Portfolio)   Like Design Hotels, the Tribute Portfolio includes design-forward properties, but with emphasis on warm, genuine hospitality, curated art and decor, and notable dining venues. Many Tribute hotels feature distinctive themes, like the baseball-inspired Hotel Zachary in Chicago and the whiskey-obsessed Vagabond Club in Singapore. Most are suitable for both business and leisure travel, and the collection is viewed as a competitor of the Curio Collection and Preferred Hotels & Resorts.   Boutique Soft Brands Not all soft brands are positioned at the luxury end of the spectrum - which is good news for travelers who are searching for the boutique vibe at a lower price point. Boutique soft brands like the Autograph Collection (Marriott), the Tapestry Collection (Hilton), Joie de Vivre (Hyatt), and the Trademark Collection (Wyndham) include a range of hotels at various price points. Some of these hotels are on par with a Waldorf or a Ritz, while others can be considered competitors of Hyatt Centric or Tru.   Pictured: The Brown Palace Hotel (Autograph Collection)   The Autograph Collection contains boutique hotels especially well suited for foodies, design fans, stylish business travelers, and corporate retreats - which are broken out in sub-collections. You can find a wide spectrum of hotels in this group, from exquisite luxury properties to hip yet simple boutiques. The collection includes over 200 hotels in 32 countries. Notable Autograph properties include The Douglas in Vancouver and Cotton House Hotel in Barcelona. Positioned slightly beneath the Curio Collection, the Tapestry Collection is made up of boutique hotels with their own unique personalities. The Tapestry Collection caters to a younger demographic with amenities that are especially relevant to millennials. Examples of Tapestry hotels include the Hotel Skyler in Syracuse, NY and The Bernic Hotel in New York City.   Pictured: The Laurel Inn (Joie de Vivre)   Joie de Vivre includes boutique hotels like the Autograph and Tapestry Collections, but this group focuses on bringing local character and thoughtful design to life via chef-driven restaurants, creative meeting spaces, and stylish guestrooms packed with modern amenities. These hotels have a trendy vibe and offer plenty of spaces for socializing, similar to Kimpton. The Joie de Vivre brand includes Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco and Hotel Revival in Baltimore. The Trademark Collection includes unique properties that offer a sense of place and amenities that business and leisure travelers want: on-site dining, access to a fitness center, and flexible meeting space at most properties. Members of the Trademark Collection include The Burgess Hotel in Atlanta and the H+ group in Germany. With so many brands to choose from, you can find a segment or subset that truly speaks to your traveling style, price range, and amenity needs. And if you’re exploring hotel investment or franchising opportunities, you can surely find the perfect brand for your business goals.  

Hotel Technology: 8 Trends to Watch in 2020

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

In 2017, Uber predicted that the company would launch flying car ridesharing by the end of 2020. That hasn’t quite panned out, obviously – joining the list of Jetsons-like technology of the future that never lived up to the hype. For those of us keeping an eye on technology in hotels, it can be difficult to discern what trends are here to stay and what trends are simply a marketing stunt. We can’t predict what will happen in the future, but we can watch industry trends as leading indicators. That’s just what we’ve done to compile this list of trends that we believe are worth watching in 2020. From white labeling to the decline of OTA dominance, here’s where we predict hotel technology will go this year. 1. SaaS is exploding 2. APIs are mainstream 3. Guest room technology innovation 4. Privacy & cybersecurity 5. OTAs struggling 6. WiFi 6 7. Big data 8. Digital hotel companies   SaaS is Exploding Interest in investing in hotel technology has slowly ramped up in recent years. Venture capitalists are finally starting to recognize the opportunity to invest in tools and platforms that allow hotels to capture new levels of hotel operations efficiency and revenue growth. “Despite all the innovation that has taken place in the sector over the last decade, there remains massive, untapped opportunity and potential in many categories within the hospitality arena. Despite being one of the largest and most dynamic segments of the US and global economy, penetration of cloud-based technologies in the segment remains incredibly low, and the vendor landscape remains tremendously fragmented on a global basis,” says Matt Melymuka, co-founder and partner at PeakSpan Capital. Those untapped opportunities that Melymuka references? Venture capitalists are starting to catch on. This month, Cloudbeds announced a Series C minority investment round of $82 million, led by Viking Global Investors with participation from PeakSpan Capital, Recruit Co., Ltd., Counterpart Ventures, and Cultivation Capital. Cloudbeds offers an all-in-one suite of tools, including a property management system, channel manager, booking engine, and revenue manager, growing revenue and automating workflows at more than 20,000 properties. Their Series C fundraising success indicates a growing appetite among investors for cloud-based, low-cost solutions that seamlessly communicate across platforms to target, acquire, and retain guests. Mews Systems, another top-ranked, cloud-based property management system, raised $33 million in its Series B funding round led by Battery Ventures. “As hotel and other hospitality property owners look to address the challenge of competition from peer-to-peer platforms like Airbnb, Mews provides hoteliers with the tools to not have to worry about the day-to-day of running the business, and instead focus on improving guest experience and helping travelers have the trip of a lifetime,” said Sanjiv Kalevar, Principal at Battery Ventures. Oaky, one of the industry’s leading upselling tools, raised a Series A funding round of $9.5 million led by PeakScan Capital. Oaky’s appeal to investors stems from the app’s data-driven approach to driving incremental revenue. Their deep understanding of customer behavior makes Oaky one of the top-rated upselling tools on the market today. VCs aren’t the only stakeholders interested in investing in hotel tech. Zingle, a guest-messaging software, was acquired by Medallia, an experience management company, for a $42 million cash deal in 2019. Hotels use Zingle’s messaging tools to deliver five-star service at scale; Medallia’s investment in Zingle gives hotels the opportunity to provide frictionless guest service and streamline time-consuming interactions, such as check-in. Life House, a tech-first hotel experience, shows proof-of-concept: that hotels that invest in technology drive higher revenue, better guest reviews, and a higher star-rating. Life House’s market traction epitomizes the appetite for investing in hotel tech. The hospitality startup closed a $30 million Series B from a large group of investors led by Thayer Ventures. “Life House is an unusual company in that it started out as a software provider aimed at fixing ‘the broken and complex hotel operational model’ before morphing into a combination of tech provider, hotel manager and boutique hotel brand,” reports Crunchbase. Last but not least in the litany of hotel tech brands seeing interest from investors, SiteMinder raised $70 million led by BlackRock, valuing the company at $750 million – and making it the industry’s first unicorn. SiteMinder, like Cloudbeds, offers an end-to-end tech solution: a channel manager, online booking engine, website builder, and more. Its early success at over 35,000 properties shows that this market is only growing.    APIs are Mainstream White labeling is a practice in which a product – in this case, hotel software – is manufactured by a third party and uses branding by the purchaser, or marketer, so that the end product appears to have been produced by the purchaser. “The advantage is that a single company does not need to do it all: one firm can concentrate on producing the product; another on marketing it; and another can focus on selling it, each according to its expertise and preference,” writes Investopedia. White labeling has already begun in the hotel industry without hoteliers even knowing it. Property management systems that offer channel management integrations are usually white labelling their channel managers from other vendors. We believe this trend will continue, especially in the revenue management space where white labeling can solve two distinct problems: strategy and tactical management. Most revenue management systems focus on reporting and data visualization; the addition of white label software to the backend of an RMS can improve price optimization, letting hoteliers spend their time on higher value tasks and strategic revenue management. Along with white labeling, APIs are adding efficiency to hotel technology by integrating your tech stack and helping your tools talk to one another. An API, application programming interface, is simply a messenger of data between applications. APIs allow your various hotel technology tools and programs to work together, connecting your RMS to a PMS, or your PMS to your upsell software, or your business intelligence software to your PMS. An API makes your technology user-friendly and efficient; when your tools work together, you capture each platform’s full capabilities. API penetration in the hotel tech market has opened up a world of opportunities for property owners. For instance, feeding data from your PMS into a business intelligence tool leads to real, operational data to analyze trends and provide recommendations for better marketing campaigns, smarter staffing decisions, seasonal trends, and market competition. Hotels that are comfortable using APIs can automate tasks that take up much of their employee’s time with manual data entry.   Guest Room Technology Innovation Guests around the world have unprecedented convenience at home. The number of voice-controlled and streaming services that have proliferated the home in recent years is unprecedented: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for streaming; Alexa, Google Home, and Amazon Echo for voice; Creston, Nest, and other smart-home devices; Uber Eats, Door Dash, and Caviar for food delivery at the touch of a button. On-demand convenience dominates our lives, and guests expect this level of ease from their hotel experience as well. Hotels are catching on, adding convenience through streaming, voice activation, guest-room tablets, and food ordering tech. “Unlike other amenities that are requested but not necessarily used, streaming services are used on average by 40% of rooms—and they’re used longer than their cable counterparts,” Gavin Philipp, VP of operations at Charlestowne Hotels told Hotel News Now. The Amazon Fire Stick, Roku streaming stick, and Apple TV are all low-cost, easy-to-implement tools that some guests are even bringing with them. Hilton is taking a different approach, partnering with Netflix to allow guests to control their streaming straight from the Hilton Honors mobile app. As far as voice-activation, Volara is leading the way in providing a thoughtful, Alexa-esque guest-room solution. Volara integrates with the most popular work order management systems so that guests can make requests and get confirmation when the item or service they need will be delivered. It also integrates with in-room entertainment, eliminating the pain point of touching a germy remote control. Volara’s success is more than gimmicky – their product allows properties to interact with guests in a fun and scalable way. Guest room tablets provide convenience in a simple, straightforward upgrade that improves guest satisfaction scores virtually instantaneously. Tablets like those from Crave Interactive allow guests to customize their experience at will, booking spa appointments, taking advantage of F&B offers, and exploring local tours. And for savvy marketing managers, tablets provide a new channel through which to send targeted, automated messages generating $5,000 per month in additional revenue. Lastly, hotels are replicating the Uber Eats experience with tools like 2nd Kitchen and Bbot. 2nd Kitchen is a godsend for hotels without a kitchen on-site: guests can order room service from restaurants near your hotel, taking care of care of orders, menus, payment, fulfillment, and customer support for your property. Bbot’s mobile ordering technology gives guests a way to order and pay for food and drinks from their phones, cutting down on labor and menu management at your property. For guests, no need to call down, sign a receipt or spend time waiting in line for service.   Privacy & Cybersecurity Hotels are a prime target for hackers. “Only about 25% of all U.S. businesses, including hotel operators, are fully compliant with current data security best practices. That means that three out of four are not and are potential disasters waiting to happen,” reported one cybersecurity expert. Numerous high-profile malware attacks on the hotel industry have led to hundreds of millions of guests’ data being compromised and millions of dollars in damage. Just this February, MGM Resorts revealed they were the target of a massive data breach that compromised personal information for more than 10.6 million guests. Files leaked in the MGM attack included information on celebrities, chief executives of technology companies, reporters and government officials, according to Skift. With this trend on the rise, hotels are being forced to get smart about security. Property owners must do their research in selecting tech tools that provide multilayer security, data protection, secure transactions, and compliance with international payment and data privacy standards. Hotels must regularly host training to their staff on the proper way to handle personal information, comply with privacy regulations such as the GDPR, and change their access credentials regularly. The many tech innovations we see penetrating the market require constant vigilance of cybersecurity best practices, regular updates to security software, and dedication to routine testing and threat assessment.   OTAs are Struggling Expedia and Booking have taken some pretty big hits in recent months. Expedia’s shares ended 2019 down 4%, a slight decline but significant in comparison to the S&P 500, which returned 29%. Booking.com’s stock finished down 11% in January 2020 (in part due to COVID-19). Why the dive in stock price? There are two factors outside Coronavirus that are impacting OTAs. First, hotels are getting better at capturing direct bookings. Hotel tech like direct booking platforms, metasearch ad managers, and messaging integrations help properties draw more visitors to their site and convert more direct bookings, circumventing the high OTA commissions in the process. Direct booking tools that connect a property’s PMS, parity, behavioral and demographic data across the entire booking journey has put hotels on even footing with OTAs when it comes to winning bookings. Secondly, Google has entered the travel market in a big way. Google has expanded from traditional AdWords to include hotels everywhere via its Hotel Ads product. Google has historically been the source for much of OTAs inbound demand, and now that the platform is a direct competitor, OTAs are vulnerable unless they pay billions of dollars each year to Google to ensure they show up high in search results and get clicks from travel planners. Free traffic is “shrinking all the time”, Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom explained to analysts.   WiFi 6 5G may be getting all the buzz, but for property owners, WiFi 6 is much more relevant. WiFi 6 is the term used to describe the next iteration of Wifi, a faster, more efficient connection enabled through new technologies. WiFi 6 is about 30% faster than our current WiFi. This might not sound that impressive at first glance, but considering how many devices we’re adding to our WiFi networks, the increase in speed is dramatic. Like 5G, WiFi 6 will have obvious implications for guests who use their smartphones to book and manage their stay. But beyond the guest experience, hotels can take advantage of faster WiFi to power all those streaming, tablet, and voice-activated devices. With WiFi 6, your property can leverage in-room technology to provide better service, driving positive guest reviews and repeat business. Smart thermostats, smart speakers, and smart locks will all perform better with the adoption of WiFi 6 over the next five years.   Big Data Investors in Oaky already recognize this next insight: data has become the world’s most valuable resource. The sooner you start to mine guest data for better customer insights, the better positioned your property will be against your competition. Why is data so valuable? “Data are now part of every sector and function of the global economy and, like other essential factors of production such as hard assets and human capital, much of modern economic activity simply could not take place without them,” argues McKinsey. Data can fuel smarter marketing campaigns, inform your pricing, and help you capture a higher market share than your competitors by knowing your guests on a deeper level. Hoteliers are just starting to realize the potential of its guest data. Earlier this year, Revinate launched the hotel industry's first Guest Data Platform to aggregate, clean and deliver rich guest profiles for hotels and property groups of all sizes. The platform combines data from multiple sources to provide a complete picture of a hotel’s guests, delivering the information needed to increase guest satisfaction scores, direct bookings, and ultimately, profit. An acquisition by CoStar Group put a dollar figure on just how much hotel industry data is worth. The Group purchased STR for $450 million in cash in the fall of 2019. STR aggregates data from more than 65,000 properties worldwide, distributing more than 1 million reports each month. That amount of data synthesized into nice reports? Priceless.   Digital Hotel Companies All these trends – the flow of VC cash into hotel tech, the rise of consumer-convenience tech, the use of white-label software and APIs – means the landscape of the hotel industry is changing. New competitors are challenging old management companies that haven’t innovated enough.  These next-gen properties are sometimes called hometels (home+hotel), or more generally, alternative lodging.  Brands in the alternative lodging sector include Stay Alfred, Sonder, The Guild Hotels and to some extent groups such as Selina and OYO.  VCs seem to love these alternative lodging options. Sonder, for instance, hit $100M in revenue thanks to its venture capital-fueled growth; the brand raised a $225M Series D and projected $313M in forward 12-months revenue (2019/2020). The biggest distraction or barrier these next-gen hotels face is that they’re taking the wrong approach to tech. The companies that win will be the ones who stop acting like tech companies – using buzzwords like AI and virtual concierge – and focus on being more innovative and agile real estate businesses than traditional market players today. Those that succeed will be tech-enabled businesses; not tech businesses. They will be better at buying and using tech components via APIs and lean infrastructure, but be founded on sound business principles enabled by the industry’s best tech tools. 

Coronavirus: Survival of the Fittest for Hotels

by
Jordan Hollander
2 months ago

In the face of a global pandemic and hotel industry meltdown we are sailing deep into uncharted waters.  No hotel (or any business for that matter) can stay alive without revenue. The U.S. hotel industry (and airline) came back strong after 9/11 when travelers were afraid of terrorism.  Regions affected by the SARS and MERS outbreaks were followed by similar bounce-backs.  But somehow this time feels different. “Without government intervention, there will be no service industry whatsoever. There’s so many people that work for me whom I am incredibly concerned about. Where are they going to get their next meal? Do they have health care coverage? How are they going to pay their bills? It’s as if aliens came from outer space and decided to totally destroy restaurants,” said famed restaurateur David Chang. The good news is that this pandemic may be over sooner than you anticipate and the mortality rate may actually be much lower than we initially thought (due to undocumented cases).  The tricky part about virality is that the models have wild swings based on even miniscule changes to the assumptions of those models (which are changing dramatically each day).  The same scientist whose very report jolted the US and UK into action has since changed his model assumptions which massively changed the forecasts. “It will recede in a converging exponential; in other words, the coronavirus can be expected to disappear from this region with the same dizzying speed with which it entered our lives,” Dr. Dan Yamin. It’s not only virologists suffering from inaccurate and quickly outdated predictions, hotel industry forecasters like Jan Freitag are facing the same dilemma.     There’s more good news.  The world is uniting against a common enemy and we’re collaborating as a species like never before.  While the media likes to portray drama and political posturing, the reality is that this crisis has helped humanity put aside our cultural differences because a virus doesn’t care where you’re from. On a Facebook live with TED, Bill Gates mentioned some of the collaboration that’s happening in the scientific community.     Even ordinary people are collaborating, as evidenced by Google Sheet of volunteer opportunities created by thousands of individuals from around the world. We’re also seeing collaboration like never before in the hotel community.  Competitive walls were broken down when major hotel chain CEOs addressed U.S. President Donald Trump in their pleas for an industry bailout.  Similarly, major hotel tech companies have banded together in an initiative spearheaded by Cloudbeds to convert excess hotel capacity into lodging for those in need like healthcare workers.  Hotel owners are listing their beds in droves at HospitalityHelps.org. It’s not all good news though.  Never before in our lifetimes has business come to a screeching halt like this...and hopefully it won’t happen again. Most hotel businesses maintain around 2x payroll as working capital (cash to run their day to day operations).  As hotels get closer to the 60-day mark we’ll see more and more layoffs because they simply can’t foot the staffing bills.  The only way to help these hotels is through government bailouts and improved payment terms on mortgages. Here in the U.S., the government has put together an incredible program to offer fully forgiven SBA loans of 2.5x monthly payroll to any hotel business under 500 employees. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we are always looking to understand how technology can help improve hotel business performance but sadly there isn’t a ton that you as a hotelier can do with new technology right now.  Revenue management systems don’t add much value when you’re at 2% occupancy, upsell software can only do so much with a couple of heads in beds and so on. We’d be lying if we said “we’re all going to get through this together.”  We’re not all going to get through this. Poorly capitalized hotels like those described in this great article by The Real Deal will go under even with government intervention.  Overextended technology companies will face the unfortunate same truths.  Even the previously untouchable venture funded alternatives like Sonder and Lyric have faced hard truths faster than we anticipated. We are a strong and resilient industry like many have pointed out.  The Darwinian reality is that these crises make all industries more antifragile.  The bad actors die out (along with many good ones) and only the fittest survive.  Ask your finance friends what major bank balance sheets look like today in comparison to 2008/2009.  The companies that come out of times like these are the leanest and smartest - and they get even leaner and smarter through the pain. We don’t say the above in a good or a bad way - it’s just the truth.  Many hotels have or will cancel software contracts while others will go out of business.  This is really unfortunate and painful for their suppliers in the short term but new owners will purchase those properties and those owners will understand more than anyone the power of running an efficient organization. They’ll be more entrepreneurial in aggregate and eager to surround themselves with the best technology partners around.  For software companies this means there will be more whitespace than ever before in history to pick up new market share - in the 12-18 months after this crisis fades we will see the defining hotel technology companies of the future separate from the pack.  COVID has been a great equalizer and while painful we believe that it will accelerate digital transformation in hospitality (like many industries) by 10-15 years.   As we said before, technology can’t save you RIGHT NOW but great software is the key to running an efficient and consistent business.  Market intelligence software helps you stay ahead of trends, revenue management software can help you price rooms automatically without relying on a revenue manager who’s basing forecasts on last year’s irrelevant results, operations tools can keep consistency of SOPs and so on. TCV’s David Yuan shared an awesome initiative from Toast POS to get consumers buying restaurant gift cards to support their favorite local businesses.  The same way that a restaurant can’t serve you when they’re shut down, tech companies can’t do all that much for hotels that aren’t open. Software is key to how you anticipate, react and recover from a recession.  It makes you better at acquiring guests, running an efficient operation and maximizing every dollar. During the Bill Gates interview with TED he was asked what he would do if he was President right now and his answer was basically “It’s too late, the time to act was 3 years ago.  All we can do now is ramp up testing, pray for a cure and promote social distancing”. Similarly, the only thing hoteliers can really do now is negotiate with lenders, stay current on local bailout opportunities, make prudent layoffs, focus on helping their employees as much as they can and pray that this ends soon.  Once we’ve sorted out all of those issues and have some downtime while our businesses are closed, the best thing we can do is prepare for the next downturn and improve our operational capabilities. Never again will you have this much time to try different technologies and lots of vendors are even offering concessions and free tools that we encourage every hotelier to take advantage of for this limited and unprecedented period before we get back to the new normal. Do everything you can afford to support the technology companies pushing our industry forward because when this is all over you’re going to need them more than ever.     The biggest barriers to adopting technology are broken down right now in ways they will never be again - take advantage of that to optimize your business before it's too late. #1 Contract Lock-in: Most can be broken with force majeure.  If you don't like a vendor, now is an opportune time to upgrade your stack. #2 Switching Risk: Especially when it comes to mission critical systems it can be scary trying to migrate while your hotel is at full occupancy.  This is the perfect time to make the move while your hotel is closed. #3 Time: Learning new software takes time no matter how easy to use the system is.  You'll never have this much time to try and learn once the market picks back up. #4 Cost: Lots of vendors are extending free trials during closures from 30-days to 90-days.  You'll never have an opportunity like this to try software and see if you like it over extended periods of time.  Having said that, your vendors are hurting as much as you are - support them don't strain their businesses unless you absolutely need payment delays etc. Use the golden rule and treat them as you hope guests treat you. #5 Integrations: This barrier is already broken down.  Simply avoid vendors who charge high integration fees or don't integrate with your critical systems.  There are plenty of great vendors who have open APIs...it's 2020 after all. Focus on ensuring your hotel business survives this crisis financially then get proactive, get creative and learn how to optimize your business to accelerate the recovery and you'll be outperforming the compset in no time.  Remember that the best defense is a good offense.  Everybody looks like a genius in a bull market, it's times of crisis that separate the average hotel businesses from the truly great ones. -- Put the proverbial oxygen mask on yourself first.  Once you've got your finances sorted out - here are some ways that you can optimize your hotel business and support the technology vendors working hard to keep the industry running smoothly.   WHISTLE GUEST MESSAGING. Extended free messaging (guest and team) for new signups. A few reasons how Whistle will help your hotel during the crisis: - Social Distancing: No need for in-person interactions between gueststaff and staffstaff - Efficiency: Hotels can manage more inquiries and help more guests, now that they are operating with even more limited staff - Remote Operations: Respond to guest inquiries remotely. Unlock offer → Offer terms: Extended free trial available until June 1, 2020 for new clients.  No CC required unless hotel is continuing after trial and cancel at any time, even after trial period, no penalties   LIFE HOUSE (HOTEL MANAGEMENT):  Life House is an VC-backed institutional management company that uses software & process innovation to increase low cost direct bookings & materially reduce the operating costs of a hotel, which is ever-more relevant with depressed revenues. To support owners who need help navigating these difficult times, Life House is offering waived management fees until 2021 and a complimentary management transition for independent hotel owners. Whether a 200-room luxury boutique hotel or a 25 room bed & breakfast, Life House's white-labeled management platform can help. Learn more about the offer →   ATOMIZE: You can now get Atomize Revenue Management Software, free of charge, up until you have realized 50% of your average occupancy. This offer comes with no setup fee, free training, and including support. This limited offer is valid until April 30. Learn more about Atomize →   TRUSTYOU'S TRAVEL HEALTH INDEX. Due to widespread limitations on travel, there is currently an unprecedented drop in hotel stays. To help hoteliers from all over the world to assess the global and regional situation, we are now introducing the Travel Health Index! This exclusive KPI is only available from the world's largest guest review database and it benchmarks current #review activity with the normal levels of 2019. Access it here and keep an eye on the Index for weekly updates.  Learn more about the Travel Health Index →   ALICE PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST. Hoteliers know how to run a property, but shutting one down is a different story.  That’s why ALICE created a free checklist tool within their software that hotels can use to keep their property safe and clean with a skeleton crew that is available for free to any and all hotels looking for help. A few reasons how ALICE will help your hotel during the crisis: - Preventative Maintenance: Understand what needs to be done to keep your property safe and clean with a skeleton crew to avoid property damage and maintenance issues during downtime. - Crisis mgmt: Hotels are not meant to operate at low occupancy, or with a lean staff, yet that is the trend for so many hotels right now. ALICE Checklist helps hotels take rooms, floor and whole buildings out of service, while maintaining a record of tasks to bring a hotel back up to full occupancy quickly and easily. Get the free toolkit → Offer terms: ALICE Checklist is available to any and all hotels that are using (or not using) the ALICE platform with no strings attached. It is a free product, there are no obligations, and it can be cancelled at any time.   REVINATE'S COVID RESOURCE CENTER. Revinate ran a survey and found that 70% of hotel professionals are looking for projections on how this unfolds, and 71% are looking for planning ideas. That’s exactly what this new site aims to provide.  This resource center will aim to be a centralized source of info and resources to help hoteliers in these uncertain times. Browse the resource center →   JONAS CHORUM PMS. Save on your PMS with 90-days free of Jonas Chorum for new clients. A few reasons how Jonas will help your hotel during the crisis: - Remote work: Cloud functionality, allowing hotels to remain connected and conduct business remotely, while also specializing in remote training to avoid any face-to-face contact. - Financial relief: Provide hotels with financial relief to help them ride out the storm. Learn more about Jonas Chorum → Offer terms: This particular offer is only for new clients and is only being offered for a limited time as we are essentially getting companies up and running on our software free of charge. We would also be willing to honor this offer for a period of time whenever the impact of the pandemic starts to lessen.    ALLIANTS GUEST MESSAGING. A few ways Alliants can help your hotel during the crisis: - Easily outbound message with impacted guests across all the key channels, including, WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, LINE, etc - Allow your teams to stay connected with guests, staff, and vendors while helping keep social distance. - No setup fees/onboarding costs - All training & installation can be done remotely. -Get your property up and running in less than 2 days. See Alliants in action → Offer terms: We are offering our Alliants Messaging platform at no charge till the end of 2020. You can cancel at any time. No credit card is required and we can have your property live in less than 2 days. Oaky Pre-Arrival Templates. Pre-arrival communication + translations templates to ensure effective communication so your guests feel safe. Get the templates →   RATEGAIN FREE STRATEGY SESSIONS. Complimentary, one-to-one session with RateGain experts. A few reasons how RateGain can help your hotel during the crisis: - access 200+ years of combined experience across all fields - Revenue Management, Distribution, Social Media and even HR - RateGain has its own data, both current and historical. As such we possess the knowledge and insights to guide our prospects in a way that no other can. Schedule a free session → Offer terms: We are running it for three weeks starting coming Monday. We are only doing it for our prospects i.e. companies which are not a customer of RateGain. We are doing it for our customers anyhow. This is a 100% free service. Basis the request we receive we can extend it for a longer duration as well.   Want to list your company's offer? Reach out to our editorial team via live chat   BEEKEEPER INTERNAL TEAM COMMUNICATION. How are you keeping your employees up-to-date on the coronavirus? Reach every employee across shifts, locations, and languages with one easy-to-use mobile-first communication app.  A few ways Beekeeper can help your hotel: - provide instant communication between all employees - allow for real-time updates on Coronavirus as it affects your company - Allow for shift schedules to be accessed away from the hotel Learn more about Beekeeper → Offer terms: This offer is available until June 2020 and is for new clients. Cancel anytime.   UMI DIGITAL’S FREE EXPERIENCE PRE-PAYMENTS TOOL. Simple pop-up website overlay to showcase closure messages while selling future experiences. Works with existing voucher systems via outbound links. Learn more about the offer → Offer terms: FREE set up for hotels on Wordpress and FREE license for 3 months during the pandemic. We have a simple proposal that requires acceptance but do not require payment details.   HELLOSHIFT MESSAGING & WEBSITE LIVECHAT. Hotels can use Guest Messaging and Website Chat to keep the line of communication open and accessible to all guests (and future guests.) With Staff Collaboration, hotels can keep running with smaller operational footprints and more staff working remotely. Use Covid-19 specific checklists, populate a knowledge base with Covid-19 specific information, and keep in communication with laid-off employees. Learn more about the offer → Offer terms: To help hotels deal with Covid-19, HelloShift is offering free service to all sign ups till July 1, 2020.   HOTELCHAMP DEMAND TRACKER. Demand Tracker shows you real time demand based on your website date searches. Conversion Rate (CVR) helps you to contextualise performance of different dates. Change of search behaviour keeps you informed of shifting demand. A few reasons how HotelChamp will help your hotel during the crisis: - understand demand in the current market is key to steer pricing decisions - see real time demand from your website for up to 365 days in the future - create alerts for changes in demand so you can proactively act on what is changing in the market Learn more about HotelChamp → Offer terms: New and existing clients. Completely free, no subscription to be set up. Automatically ends after 90 days.   BOOKBOOST UNIFIED INBOX & WEB MESSENGER. During this difficult time, we want to stand with the hotel industry. Our Unified Inbox and Web Messenger are now available for FREE to all hotels worldwide. Bookboost Unified Inbox enables you to manage all guest inquiries from your website, email, Facebook Messenger, in one inbox. Give clear and consistent COVID-19 communications and Save your team answering repetitive questions, improve efficiency and provide service day and night with chat automation. Learn more about Bookboost   ASKSUITE HOTEL CHATBOT: We are offering our award-winning AI chatbot for free to hotels located in North America and Europe. The bot can answer questions about hotel operations during the pandemic (as we included in the AI) and has all the other functionalities like integration with booking engines. Asksuite believes that helping each other is the way to overcome this crisis. Even if the hotel is temporarily closed, it can keep providing customer assistance to future guests, answering their queries, and facilitating the booking process. - helps decrease the workload, especially now when many hotels needed to downsize; - with the addition of the COVID-19 topic in the chatbot, it helps answer all queries about the COVID-19 and its impacts on the hotel's operations, the local status, and so on.  Learn more about the offer → Offer terms: Only available to hotels in North America and Europe; - only for new clients - valid until December 2020 - if pandemic ends it will continue for free cause hotels will need help with their cash flow - no credit required   ROOMPRICEGENIE AUTOMATED REVENUE MANAGEMENT: Fully automated dynamic pricing solution in place helps you know when business is coming back and help you react immediately. Continuously track how your market behaves and understand when business is coming back. Learn more about RoomPriceGenie → Offer terms: The offer is for new clients and it is valid until further notice (as long as the tough times last). After the regular trial period, clients need to sign up and will receive a 100% discount until they see business coming back. Our monthly cancellation policy stays the same - so they can cancel at any time.   AVVIO DIGITAL ACADEMY: With so many amazing hoteliers out of work Avvio is turning their time and resources to helping out with important skills development to help out during this period of downtime. Their Hotel Digital Academy is available for free registration and the first hotel digital marketing course will be starting next week. Hospitality will have to “do more with less” as the industry recovers and we think upskilling will be more important than ever as training budgets will inevitably suffer. If you know of anyone in our industry that you feel might benefit from this can I ask you to consider please sharing. Learn more about Avvio →   EXPERIENCE HOTEL EMAIL MARKETING. Hotels can get their Free access to our CRM's Emailing tool and send up to 3 custom Email campaigns to all their customers, valid for 3 months to keep guests informed as the situation evolves via email. Learn more about Experience Hotel → Offer terms: No cost, no commitment. In order to access this free service, they must register with a professional email corresponding to their hotel; a manual check of each account is made to avoid abuse.   SAVETHEHOTELS.COM BY BOOK VISIT. Last Friday we started a marketplace called savethehotels.com which is completely free of charge. The idea is to make it easy for consumers to see all the great deals the hotels are offering right now in order to survive.  Set up unique promotions that are easy for guests to book. Learn more about Book Visit → Offer terms: Right now we have the page as long as there is a need. We have no plans for this to be an OTA in the future. Right now we just want the hotels to survive otherwise we will also go down.   HOTEL RUNNER PULSE UPDATES CENTER. With HotelRunner Pulse, our goal is to support the travel industry using the ‘big data’ from the HotelRunner platform, which performs tens of millions of transactions per day, and to give our partners a snapshot of what is happening in the industry during these extremely challenging times. HotelRunner Pulse will be updated weekly, and you will be able to access detailed data from the previous week, data-points include travel agencies that bring the most bookings, confirmed and canceled booking volumes, average stay durations! Learn more about HotelRunner → Offer terms: Starting this week, through the special panel we developed, we are providing free access to real data based on bookings made through HotelRunner in the previous week.   MYSTAY EMAIL TEMPLATES. MyStay Freemium automates the way properties can inform guests about the situation in the region and hotel's health and safety protocol using pre-defined email templates and semi-automated rebooking. It also allows automating selling extra services to the fewer guests to come in the next months through pre-arrival communication, email templates covering COVID-19 related health and safety protocols, flexible rebooking or loyalty points policy.  Special guest web as a WiFi landing page with stay-related information focusing on COVID-19 related aspects. Learn more about MyStay → Offer terms: The offer and MyStay Freemium package is and will remain available forever unless canceled by the hotel. It is available to new clients, no contract or credit card required. The product is not going to disappear once the pandemic is over, hotels will be free to continue using it for free or choose to upgrade to any of the paid profiles.   HOTEL DIRECT BOOSTER WEBSITE LIVE CHAT. Livechat software for 1 month to keep contact and convert its visitors into direct bookings on the hotel's website.  Many hoteliers closed their hotels but they shouldn't close their direct bookings. Keep contact with website visitors during the pandemic on the hotel website and helps hoteliers prepare the resumption of bookings and support travelers. Learn more about HDB → Offer terms: 1 month free offer only for new clients.  Available until April 30th 2020. Non-binding offer.  No credit card required   GO MOMENT WEBSITE LIVE CHAT. Use Go Moment’s website live chat tool to inform potential hotel guests of the steps your hotel is taking to keep guests and staff safe, suggest rescheduling instead of canceling  and collect leads for future groups.  Learn more about Go Moment → Offer terms: Offer available through June 30th, 2020. After June 30th, rate will change to $250 per month.   QUORE AID PROGRAM. The Quore Aid Program was designed to help any hotel converting its property into a COVID-19 isolation ward or temporary medical facility.  The Quore platform enables hotel management and staff to limit face-to-face interactions, implement mobile communications with guests and access modifiable templates that guide staff through recommended and/or mandated procedures that are updated in real time. These include isolation room set-up and turnover, hand and hygiene protocol, trash collection, sanitation requirements, signage placement and other actions to ensure the highest level of health and safety compliance throughout the property. Learn more about Quore

Hotel Star Ratings ⭐ : What Do They Mean?

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 days ago

Property owners are told they must live or die by their hotel star rating. The problem? Not all stars are created equal. Some customers refuse to stay in a hotel that’s less than five stars. Star ratings can impact purchase decisions instantly. Just one extra star communicates something about your brand’s quality, luxury, and customer service. But a four-star hotel in Europe offers a dramatically different experience than a four-star hotel in the US; and herein lies the problem for hoteliers seeking to appeal to discerning guests. How should you improve your star rating when there are so many different metrics, elements, and gradients that determine your review? There are some commonalities among hotel star rating systems that can help you narrow down where to focus your effort. Start with this guide to learn where you stand with stars – and how small changes at your property can have a big impact on your star rating.    Brief History and Background of the Five-Star System Given the inconsistency of the star system around the world, it may not be a surprise that the five-star rating system used in the US didn’t originate from a member of the hospitality world. The five-star system was created by Mobil, an oil and gas company. Mobil employees traveling the country to service their gas stations and extraction sites started using a five-star system to rate hotels and make travel guides. The five-star system spread quickly, but even today, it continues to be unregulated. You read that right: in the US, the hotel star rating system is based on popular opinion. However, European hotels use four stars, rather than the American five stars, to denote the quality of a hotel. To make matters more confusing, each country has its own methodology for regulating and defining hotel star ratings. “Consequently, three stars in England is not quite the same as three stars in Spain. Worse: three stars in Barcelona is not the same as three stars in Madrid or in Seville (each region of Spain adopts its own standards),” writes Travel + Leisure.   What Does Each Level of Hotel Stars Actually Mean? There’s no straightforward answer to defining each star rating explicitly. The US and other countries use completely different approaches to assigning stars; the problem is further compounded by each individual rating system’s definition of “quality.” That said, there are some general guidelines consumers and property managers should understand. First, hotel star systems measure the quality of property’s facilities: not the experience. This is critical for property managers to understand. As great as your front desk service may be, a cheerful greeting at check-in won’t change your star rating. Hotels with more stars have more facilities, such as large rooms, swimming pools, jacuzzis, and bathtubs. Each star rating will vary depending on who is doing the rating. Some countries are more prescriptive than others; likewise, different OTAs will have different criteria for what qualifies for a certain star rating. That said, there are some generalities that hotel owners can use to measure their relative position: One star: basic accommodation, small rooms; these properties do not guarantee ensuite bathrooms, 24-hour reception, or daily cleaning. Think hostels or backpacker motel rooms.  Two stars: often, two-star hotels are in old buildings that can’t be renovated. These properties are a step up from one-star spots in that they probably offer a 24-hour reception, cleaning, and a basic ensuite bathroom. Amenities are still limited, but you might get a continental breakfast and a room with a phone and TV.  Three stars: a typical hotel will have three stars and offer room service, ensuite bathrooms, daily cleaning, a desk or table, and Wifi. This is a standard hotel experience that most travelers expect unless they’re on a strict budget. Four stars: these hotels offer an on-site swimming pool, gym, bar/restaurant, or valet parking. They have nicer rooms and larger lobbies. Fast internet is standard.  Five stars: high-end, luxury hotels get five stars. There will be a nice bar and restaurant on-site, as well as a spa, gym, big bathrooms, and comfortable beds. Amenities and facilities take a starring role (no pun intended) in achieving a higher rating. But, it’s also important to recognize some of the nuances built into OTA star ratings and the differences between countries to best assess where to spend your budget.   Hotel Stars Mean Different Things Depending on Who You Ask Countries all have different approaches to how a hotel earns its star rating. Even within a country, ratings can vary by city or regional regulations. In France, the US, Germany, and the United Kingdom, how a hotel is classified is voluntary. France, for instance, allows private organizations to provide a star rating (authorized by Cofrac, the French Accreditation Committee). Other European countries, including Germany, use the HotelStars Union, which is a trade association for hotels and restaurants. The US uses AAA and Forbes Stars. But, in Italy, Spain, and Greece, the responsibility for providing a star rating falls to regional governments. Each region within Spain, for instance, will pass legislation that precisely describes the characteristics and minimum requirements each hotel must have to earn that level of stars. Public inspectors visit each property to make sure the hotel is complying with the rules assigned to each category.  Travelers are rarely cognizant of the difference between a star rating assigned by a government inspector, one by a trade organization, or one assigned by fellow travelers on an online travel agency. Even among OTAs, there’s a distinct difference in how stars are assigned. Here’s a good example of how star ratings differ by platform.    Rating ⭐ ⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Hotels.com Small to medium property, includes phone and TV in the bedroom, no room service.  2-4 stories high, convenient to public transportation, clean but basic, no restaurant onsite  More spacious rooms, decorated lobbies, medium-sized restaurants on-site; often include fitness centers or pools Large, formal hotels, well-lit rooms that are nicely decorated; offer continental breakfast; smart reception areas and room service High degree of personal service; “sumptuous” lobbies; concierge service, stylish rooms, elegant intimacy Expedia Basic, no-frills, minimal facilities, small and functional  Value, clean, basic, daily housekeeping Quality, style, comfort, personalized service, better quality bedding, larger bathrooms Upscale decor, superior amenities such as turndown service and concierge Gourmet dining, luxury spa, polished service, upgraded check-in, elegant decor Michelin* n/a n/a High-quality Excellent Exceptional Forbes** n/a n/a “Recommended” properties by Forbes are those with “consistently good service and facilities”  Exceptional properties with high-quality service and facilities Outstanding, iconic properties with flawless service and amazing facilities AAA*** Essential, no-frills, budget-minded Modest in overall physical attributes, design elements, and amenities Distinguished style, upgraded quality of amenities and comfort  Upscale in all areas; refined and stylish, with a high degree of hospitality, service, and attention to detail  The ultimate in luxury and sophistication; extraordinary in every manner. *Michelin previously served as a reliable benchmark for discerning travelers, but the brand has since narrowed its focus to restaurants and bars. Their infamous three-star rating system is now managed by a partner called Tablet. **Forbes offers a subscription-based guide that grew directly from the original Mobil travel ratings. The team uses a checklist of 800 items to determine its star rating; they mostly focus on four and five-star properties, meaning they seek to verify luxury rather than to provide an objective review. ***AAA doesn’t limit their ratings to upscale properties, but they do use a 33-point checklist, similar to Forbes’ approach. Pre-approved properties are evaluated based on member feedback and full-time, professional evaluators. Instead of using stars, AAA rewards “diamonds”; a three-diamond property must offer televisions in every room and a swimming pool, for instance.    Clearly, each platform factors different elements into their rating system. Some include guest experience metrics, such as customer service (Hotels.com) while others stay focused on amenities (Expedia). A strategy that tries to earn your property five stars on one platform may still have you falling short on another.   Tech Won’t Earn Your Hotel Stars But It Certainly Helps Bottom line? Focus on providing great amenities, awesome customer service, and keeping your property up-to-date. Technology can’t directly earn you more stars from a rating agency, but it can impact your guest experience – and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Implementing a keyless entry solution, such as the popular ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions Keyless Entry, demonstrates that you’re willing to invest in service and create a better experience. Case in point: Four Seasons Boston. The new property at One Dalton Street is a modern, 61-story skyscraper that features ASSA ABLOY custom-designed VingCard Essence door locks alongside VingCard Signature RFID locks. Details matter at this five-star property: the sleek, state-of-the-art security and access system matches the building’s design. With all electronic components encased within the door itself and only a sleek RFID/BLE reader visible to guests, VingCard Essence can circumvent the unmistakably commercial and bulky appearance of traditional hospitality-based door locks. Details like VingCard aren’t just fashionable – ASSA ABLOY keyless entry is also functional. VingCard Essence is equipped with the highest standard in security encryption protocols to protect against the risk of unauthorized access. VingCard Essence locks can be configured for mobile access, meaning that a hotel can elect to allow guests to unlock their room with a personal device – without the need to replace existing hardware. Likewise, the VingCard Essence can be configured to access guest room thermostats, helping achieve energy management goals by allowing your property to adjust temperatures when needed. Review experts are guests as much as they are critics. They are influenced by hotel technology and personal details as much as any other guests; smart hotel tech can indirectly impact star ratings when deployed thoughtfully and strategically.  

3 Examples of SMART Goals in the Hospitality Industry

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 days ago

Some goals are so squishy and ill-defined that they are effectively meaningless -- and often raise more questions than answers. SMART Goals are the cure to these unfocused strategies.  We’ve all had bosses setup goals that are impossible to reach because they’re so vague: ‘do right by the guest.’ (How? What’s “right?”). Be the best hotel in Miami (How? For which guest segment? Compared to whom?). Drive more revenue. (How? How much?) Ill-defined goals are also hard to measure, making them perfect shields for laziness, incompetence, and/or a general lack of accountability. Vague and general ideas can be powerful when applied to your company’s mission statement as guiding rules but when it comes to goal setting - they can kill your business. One strategy to build actionable goals that successfully motivate staff to make measurable progress is with SMART goals. Here's what you need to know about using SMART goals in hospitality, from creating the goals to some SMART goals examples in hospitality that illustrate how effective they can be. Once you experience the impact that planning SMART can have on your hotel’s productivity and success, you’ll wonder how you ever did without!   What are SMART Goals? The concept of SMART goals was introduced in 1981 by George T. Doran, a consultant and former corporate planner, in a paper called “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.” Doran’s thesis was that achieving success requires goals to be clear and attainable, with enough specificity and measurement to actually track progress. A SMART goal is: Specific. Goals must be as specific and focused; never vague or derivative. To get precise, follow a Six Sigma principle and answer the “6 Ws:” Who needs to be involved in this goal? What are you trying to accomplish?  When does this goal need to be accomplished? Where does this goal apply? Especially useful if this is related to a time-bound event or a particular department/promotion/campaign/season. Which are the essential skills needed to achieve this goal as well as any obstacles to overcome? Why is this goal important?  Measurable. You've got to be able to accurately measure performance so you know unequivocally whether or not you’ve completed the goal. Achievable. Goals should be challenging but never out of reach. If a goal isn’t realistically attainable, then it may be discouraging and bad for morale. You should have enough levers/tactics to take action and realistically achieve the goal Relevant. Goals should never be a distraction from your property’s overarching objectives. If a particular goal is irrelevant to current priorities, it will not only fail to influence outcomes but it will struggle with ownership and adoption team-wide. Time-bound. For the greatest chance of success, goals must be bound by a specific timeframe. Otherwise, goals can limp on forever, without a defined end -- and thus no way to evaluate performance. SMART goals have a magical way of focusing your efforts by eliminating distractions and unproductive tangents. With a SMART goal, it's much easier to know what's working in service of your business and what's not.   How to Write SMART (Goals) Now that you know all about SMART goals, let’s talk about execution. Taking the SMART approach to goal planning requires a new way of thinking about how to write goals. The defining feature of writing SMART is in the preparation: it all starts with questions. The answers will shape your goals, so you want to ask yourself and your team members as many questions as it takes to get to specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely goals. These questions should be approached with a positive attitude; there are no right answers and the point is simply to get closer to actionable goals that unite teams and deliver results. For each goal, start by writing down your initial goal. Then, methodically go through each part of the S.M.A.R.T acronym to further refine your goal. Finally, review your initial goal and adjust based on the results of each section to come up with your final SMART goal. Specific: What specifically do you want to achieve? Who needs to be included to make this happen? Who is ultimately responsible for achieving the goal? What steps will you take to achieve it? Measurable: How will you know when you have successfully accomplished the goal? Achievable: Given current budget and staffing, can your team realistically achieve this goal? Which tactics will you use to achieve the goal?  Relevant: Why now? How does this go help us achieve our broader business objectives? Time-bound: What's the timeframe and is it realistic to accomplish this goal in that time?   A few other guidelines to write SMART: Align individual, departmental and property goals. If goals are at odds with each other, there will be conflict between competing priorities. Be sure that goals align across the entire operation to keep everyone moving together in the same direction towards the same overarching business objectives. Stay focused. Distractions are the enemy of SMART. The point is to focus your energy around achievable goals, so if you find focus drifting from your core objectives then your goals are still too broad.  Begin with the end in mind. Popularized by Stephen Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this mindset is a critical part of writing SMART. Before diving into the writing phase, look ahead at your outcomes and work backwards. Clarity around what you want to achieve will focus your attention on only what matters most.  Decision driver. Each goal should provide clarity and focus by helping staff decide whether or not to pursue a project. All they have to do is ask themselves whether or not a potential project, tool, initiative or campaign contributes to a relevant SMART goal. If it does, then it should be considered and if it doesn't then there's no reason to continue consideration. Set regular check-ins. Don’t just write your goals down and return to them at the end of each quarter. To track progress, set regular check-ins with relevant stakeholders and adjust your approach on the fly as needed. Then you can celebrate wins and keep everything on track. You also may want to consider creating team and individual goals. That way, individual team members understand the larger goals and their role in achieving them. This increases ownership and engagement by motivating staff towards a common purpose -- and keeps everyone moving in the same direction.    SMART Goals: Examples in the Hotel Industry Before we look at a few SMART goals examples in hospitality, let’s define what’s not SMART. Avoid goals that are: Too general: “Surprise and delight guests” doesn’t give staff clarity. Immeasurable: “Streamline operations” doesn’t provide a means of measurement. Not actionable: “Improve the guest experience” doesn’t provide   Irrelevant: “Be better stewards in the community” is not necessarily directly relevant to your core business. Not time bound: “Be the best hotel in our market” doesn’t set a timeframe for measuring progress towards the goal. The pitfalls of murky, ill-defined goals are many: they confuse employees; they can cause tension because team members working against each other; lack of accountability; too broad that people don’t know where to start and become paralyzed, which ultimately leads to doing nothing; dilute your brand proposition in the eyes of employees; makes management look “out of touch” and thus reduces trust. In these ways, poor planning can actually be more detrimental to a hotel’s operations than no planning at all! SMART GOAL EXAMPLE #1: Increase % of direct bookings by 10% in Q2 Instead of “be less reliant on OTAs,” a SMART goal would specify a measurable outcome that achieves the overarching goal of becoming less reliant on OTAs. Specific: In addition to the specific goal, you want to further refine the goal by defining the specific tactics required to achieve the goal, as well as who will need to be involved to implement those tactics. Answer questions like: What needs to be accomplished?  Who is responsible for it?  What steps will you take to achieve it? Measurable: There's a clear target of a 10% increase in direct bookings. Achievable: The goal is attainable because there are many ways to influence success:  Improve rate parity with OTAs with a rate shopping tool. Adjust availability on OTAs through your channel manager. Renegotiate contracts with OTAs to get better terms. Optimize your hotel’s booking engine for conversion with a leading provider like Bookassist Spend more on digital marketing (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Google, Tripadvisor, Kayak) to acquire direct traffic. Use CRM and email marketing to capture business from loyal guests. Implement direct booking tools that allow you to personalize the booking experience for stronger conversions.  Relevant: This goal could align with an overall objective to reduce commission costs and improve profitability. It could also be relevant in the broader context of rising commissions from third parties. Time-bound: It's limited to a single quarter so performance can be measured by comparing direct booking  percentage at the start of the quarter to the end of the quarter.   SMART GOAL EXAMPLE #2: Grow average non-rooms revenue per guest by $37 by end of Q4 Rather than an ill-defined objective of “increase guests’ on-property spending,” this goal specifies an exact amount of guest spending increase. Specific: In addition to the specific goal, you want to further refine by answering key questions like: What needs to be accomplished? Who is responsible for it? What steps will you take to achieve it? Measurable: There's a target of increasing guest revenue of $37 per guest. Achievable: The goal is attainable, with clear tactics to drive success: Add guest messaging software or upsell tool Sell more room packages and bundled offers Improve the F&B offerings on property Retrain staff at on-property outlets to upsell verbally. Incentivize front desk staff to sell more packages at check-in Relevant: The goal may align with broader objectives to increase overall revenues, to better leverage on site amenities, and/or to improve profitability per guest. Time-bound: The goal is set to be achieved by the end of Q4, giving everyone a target time frame to achieve the goal.   SMART GOAL EXAMPLE #3: Increase website conversion rate by 25% in Q2 Specific: You want to further refine the goal by defining the specific tactics required to achieve the goal, as well as who will need to be involved to implement those tactics. Be clear about: What needs to be accomplished Who is responsible for the goal What steps will you take to achieve the goal Measurable: Success measured by increase in website conversion rate Achievable: The goal can be achieved by trying different tactics: Build a new website for your hotel Add a chatbot to your website Get a faster and more mobile-friendly hotel booking engine Build conversion-optimized direct booking campaigns with a digital marketing agency such as Bookassist Relevant: The goal aligns with broader property objectives to increase direct bookings, provide a better guest experience, and/or upsell more packages and room upgrades on the website. Time-bound: Progress will be measured over a single quarter.   Here are a few more examples of SMART goals for hotels to get your creative juices flowing: Grow mobile revenue by 60% (Chateau Golf & SPA d’Augerville) Increase direct bookings by 150% (Ambassador Hotel) Increase average order value by 43% (Hotel Teatro Pace) Increase metasearch reservations by 40% (The K Boutique Hotel) As you fine-tune your goals, maintain a positive attitude, motivate staff with specific goals oriented toward 1-2 property-wide objectives, and share progress so everyone can have visibility into performance and ownership of results. With SMART goals, your team can move more quickly and be much more successful at achieving desired outcomes.  

105 Hotel Marketing Ideas That You Can Try Right Now

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 days ago

A successful hotel business today needs more than a brick-and-mortar storefront. A strong digital presence is crucial to business growth, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the multitude of small business marketing tools and digital marketing strategies available to the hotel industry and beyond.  Our 100 hotel marketing tools can help you make your online footprint a strategic (and revenue-generating!) facet of your business. Soon you’ll be on your way to a beautiful, engaging website that converts visitors into loyal customers - all while avoiding that “I’m lost!” feeling that can happen when navigating the online marketing space. Every hotel business is at a different point in their digital marketing journey, so we’ve broken down our list of tools from the essentials (for digital marketing beginners) to advanced platforms that help more experienced marketers dive into analytics and technical tweaks. We also understand that your business can’t be successful with digital marketing alone, so we’ve added a bonus category that consists of general business tools that can assist with overall operations. In short, this guide will help you: Get set up for success online with Digital Marketing Basics Craft your digital image with Graphic Design and Content Generate traffic through SEO and Digital PR Build customer loyalty and repeat business with Customer Relationship Management Understand customer behavior through Analytics Streamline your daily operations with General Business Tools These tools are not industry-specific, which means they’re suitable for not only hoteliers, but any type of small business owner, from restaurateurs to retailers. If your business wants to drive website traffic, build loyalty, and increase revenue, then it’s important to optimize your digital marketing strategy - whether your goal is to book more rooms, sell more items, or grow a subscriber list.   What kinds of hotel marketing ideas are this guide? 1. Basic Digital Marketing Tools: Website Builders, Online Shops, Marketplace Selling, Local Optimization 2. Graphic Design and Content: Graphic Design Tools, Photography, Video Marketing, Content Strategy, Content Organization 3. Traffic Generation Tools: Social Media Management, Digital PR, SEO & Keyword Planning, Pay-Per-Click Strategy, Clicks & Conversion, Lead Capture, Referral Programs 4. Customer Relationship Management Tools: CRM Software, Marketing Automation, Website Live Chat, Email Marketing, Loyalty Programs 5. Analytics & Insights Tools: Website Visitor Insights, Market Research, Audience Profiles 6. General Business Tools: Collaboration & Organization, Copy Editing, Budgeting, Offline Optimization This list will introduce you to the basics of online marketing.  If you're already advanced and looking for hotel industry specific marketing solutions and ideas - start with these: 1. Hotel CRM 2. Hotel Chatbots 3. Metasearch Software 4. Hotel website builders 5. Direct booking tools   Hotel Marketing Basics First things first! You can’t dive into keyword planners and website visitor insights if you don’t have a website. Let’s kick off your online marketing success with the essentials: website builders, online shop platforms, digital marketplaces, and tools that help customers find your physical storefront online. Whether your hotel is a local landmark or a new kid on the block, it’s always a good idea to add fresh, new strategies to your hotel marketing plan. You may think that innovative ideas for hotels need months of planning and a budget that’s out of your reach, so let us assure you that you can implement creative marketing strategies in a short time frame and with little or no financial resources. In this article, we’ll start with creative marketing strategies for hotels and resorts that will attract new guests, drive direct bookings, and even strengthen guest loyalty. We'll then dive into our list of 100+ tech driven marketing ideas that anybody can execute to grow their businesses. Best of all, these strategies are low cost and don’t require much planning. In fact, we recommend that you try one today! Which of our hotel marketing ideas will you try right now?   Target repeat guests with personalized offers With so much attention given to acquiring new guests, it can be easy to forget about a valuable segment of traveler: your repeat guests. Why are repeat guests so valuable, you ask? Studies show that the acquisition cost for new guests can be between 5 and 7 times that of existing guests. Furthermore, “the probability of selling to a new customer hovers around a mere 5 to 20 percent. Meanwhile, the likelihood of selling to an existing customer is between 60 to 70 percent.” Essentially, guests who have stayed at your hotel are more likely than new guests to book, and a repeat guest’s booking costs less than that of a new guest. Give your loyal guests a little TLC with a personalized email that recognizes their loyalty. In the email, you want to make the guest feel special, so craft the message for your VIPs in a tone that sounds exclusive and appreciative. As the cherry on top, offer a special promo code or freebie that rewards the guest for their loyalty. Besides, your loyal guests can be your best salespeople, so treat them to a special offer that they’ll want to tell all their friends about.   Give your employees a shout-out on social media Social media is a great way for hotels to stay connected with repeat guests and build brand awareness. But in addition to flattering shots of your pool, restaurant, and bathrooms, social media is also a fantastic channel for bragging about your hotel’s most valuable asset: your employees. After all, a memorable interaction with your staff is more likely to inspire a guest to return than your furniture is. For example, Hilton recently shared a video on Instagram about an employee’s journey from a refugee to an apprentice at Hilton Frankfurt City Centre. Besides just celebrating the employee’s story, the post received more views than any of Hilton’s other video content and over 28 times the average comment volume. Video content is certainly engaging, but you don’t need to produce a film like Hilton’s to get similar results. Grab your smartphone, walk into the lobby, and snap a photo of your front desk agents in action. Or start an “employee of the week (or month)” campaign that publicly recognizes team members for their hard work and dedication to your guests. Once potential guests learn about the exceptional service your staff provides, they’ll want to stay at your hotel.   Partner with local businesses Google's algorithm spits out completely different recommendations for local searches.  If you search for a global term like "red shoes" you'll likely see ecommerce results to buy online but if you search for a local term like "hospitality jobs" you'll see results like "Los Angeles Hospitality Jobs" because Google knows that you are looking for something local. No, we're not going to jump into SEO in this article.  The point is that Google is the best marketer in the world and they deeply understand the power of local.  Connecting with a local ecosystem of hospitality industry and retail businesses can have powerful effects on your business. Wondering how to promote hotel sales among new segments of guests? Thinking outside of the box (in this case, your hotel is the box) can lead to some exciting and creative marketing ideas. If your hotel marketing plan seems stale, consider partnering with local businesses to host events, offer unique amenities, or collaborate on promotional offers that can reach new audiences. Joining forces with nearby businesses can allow your hotel to offer unique amenities that aren’t in-house. Do guests wish your hotel had a restaurant, a gym, or a spa? Rather than investing thousands of dollars in renovations, try investing a few hours in building a partnership with a restaurant, gym, or spa next door. For instance, the historic Lenox Hotel in Boston didn’t have the space for an on-site spa, so the property partnered with G20 Spa + Salon across the street. With the ability to offer spa services to its guests, the hotel is now a stronger competitor among luxury hotels in the area. Though the partnership might not materialize immediately, you can start brainstorming potentially local business partners and start the conversation today. Start by mapping out your current customer personas as well as your target audience of potential customers.  If you are targeting millennial influencers you'd likely want "Instagrammable" spots and if you're targeting business travelers you will likely want to introduce great happy hour spots and business lunch experiences. Next, gather a list of all your favorite local businesses using sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp.  You'll want to make sure that they all have stellar online reviews because if you recommend somewhere or sell an experience that has bad reviews your guests may lose trust in you.  Start with a light partnership like a guest blog post (content marketing) on their website or a mutual social media marketing campaign where you use each other's hashtags on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to cross promote each business.  Once you've got trust that your guests will love the experience consider bringing them more into the fold on your hotel marketing strategies like email marketing and loyalty.  Figure out ways to package their offers into your room promotions or even integrate them into your loyalty program.  Starwood (now Marriott) was famous for doing this with SPG Moments where their hotel industry loyalty members could redeem points for experiences like concerts and fine dining. Whether you're a boutique hotel, major brand or even an AirBnB host you need to connect your guests to the local environment and make them feel at home - that's what hospitality is all about.   Answer guest questions or comments with a personal touch Responding to guest reviews and social media comments can sometimes feel like a chore, but it’s important to remember that these responses provide an excellent opportunity to market your hotel. Rather than using canned responses or templates, answer each one individually, speaking to any specific questions or situations the guest mentioned - both positive and negative. Did a guest mention they loved the shampoo in the shower? Great! You can talk up your organic eucalyptus-scented toiletries that are thoughtfully presented in eco-friendly dispensers. Or was the guest disappointed in the food at your restaurant? Then you have the perfect opportunity to mention that your hotel has just hired a new chef who will be completely revamping the menu options (only if that’s true, of course). In addition to reviews, social media comments deserve personal treatment. RIU Hotels and Resort does an excellent job of responding to each and every comment personally. Even if the comment doesn’t have a question, the RIU team will say something like “thanks for your comment” or “we’d love to have you.” Their responses come across as genuine and thoughtful, which is probably exactly the impression that the brand wants to make. Another example of going above and beyond to respond to guest inquiries is when a child forgot their stuffed animal at a Ritz-Carlton hotel. The hotel found the lost toy, but instead of simply mailing it back to its rightful owner, the hotel took photos of the stuffed animal receiving the royal treatment at the hotel and included some Ritz-branded souvenirs in the box. The hotel also posted about the situation on social media, and the post went viral. As these examples show, innovative ideas for hotels to build online marketing power doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. Try taking a few extra minutes to respond to guest comments today.   Ask real people to test your website When was the last time you asked to watch someone book a room on your own website? If you answered, “never,” then today is a great day to perform an impromptu website audit. Ensuring your website is user-friendly and glitch-free is one of the most important pieces of your hotel marketing plan, because if your website has errors and guests can’t book easily, then all of your great marketing ideas are for nothing.  This is why major hotel booking sites like Expedia run hundreds of tests per year. To conduct these mini usability tests, go into your local coffee shop (or even ask your friends or family at home) and kindly ask patrons to book a room while you watch over their shoulders. As a hotelier, you might think the booking process is simple, but to someone who might only book a hotel room once per year, your website could be confusing. To get the most out of these tests, take detailed notes about your findings so you can make improvements to your site later. As your testers navigate through your site, you might notice their body language - do they tense up or show stress during any part of the booking process? - and whether they ask any questions. These are important observations that reveal pain points on your website. If you have some computer programming experience, perhaps you can resolve the issues on your own, but if not, then you’ll want to turn to an expert. Partnering with a digital marketing agency like D-Edge ensures your website is always in perfect working order. A digital marketing agency can help you not only maintain an intuitive, seamless website, but also source content and optimize your site for search engines. With a strong website, you can make progress toward your direct booking goals.     Optimize Your eCommerce Using a Hotel Website Builder Use these tools to create beautiful websites with minimal time and technical know-how required. Wix: A platform that gives you the freedom to create, design, manage and develop your web presence exactly the way you want. Pick a template and customize anything, or answer a few questions and get a free website designed just for you. You can also get a personalized SEO plan so it's easier for customers to find your website.     WordPress: WordPress allows you to build a website that meets your unique needs. Start a blog, business site, portfolio, online store, or anything else you can imagine. They give you everything you would ever need to start your own website. They have built‑in optimization and responsive, mobile‑ready themes, plus free hosting, your own domain, and a bunch of other cool stuff. Divi Builder: Divi is more than just a WordPress theme, it's a completely new website building platform that replaces the standard WordPress post editor with a vastly superior visual editor. Add, delete, and move elements around on the front end of your website. No coding and no confusing back-end options.   Spin Up an Online Shop to Sell Local Craft Goods and Souvenirs Does your business sell a product or a service? Allow customers to purchase items or make reservations online from anywhere in the world at any time. Simplify your online sales process with an intuitive, easy-to-use ecommerce platform.  Your marketing efforts will go to waste if you don’t have an online presence to drive shoppers to. Shopify: Whether your business is online, in retail or on the go, Shopify offers an all-in-one commerce platform to start, run, and grow a business. One platform with all the ecommerce and point of sale features you need to start, run, and grow your business. You can buy a domain, sell anywhere anytime, market using built-in tools, and analyze data to gain key insights about your customers.    Retailer Taylor Stitch is built on the Shopify platform   Squarespace: Squarespace provides software as a service for website building and hosting. It's easy enough to use for beginners and advanced enough for experienced website builders. Use pre-built website templates and drag and drop elements to create webpages.   Leverage Online Marketplaces to Drive New Business Direct sales through your own website are great, but why settle for just one sales channel? These online marketplaces put your product or service in front of a larger global audience. Etsy: The global marketplace for unique and creative goods. Etsy is home to a universe of extraordinary items, from handcrafted custom pieces to vintage treasures. Etsy helps their community of sellers turn their ideas into successful businesses. Their platform connects sellers with millions of buyers looking for special items made with human touch. Groupon: Groupon offers a vast mobile and online marketplace where people shop for and save on things to do, see, eat, and buy. By enabling real-time commerce across local businesses, travel destinations, consumer products, and live events, shoppers can find the best a city has to offer. Groupon is redefining how small businesses attract and retain customers by providing them with customizable and scalable marketing tools and services to profitably grow their businesses.     Travelzoo: Travelzoo publishes offers from more than 2000 travel, entertainment, and tour companies. Travelzoo's deal experts review offers to find the best deals and confirm their true value. While companies do pay to list their deals on Travelzoo, no amount of money can ensure that a deal will get published since Travelzoo verifies each listing. Peek: A one-stop shop to discover and book amazing experiences for both travelers and locals. Peek’s team of travel experts handpicks the best activities to provide a personalized selection of experiences that match a variety of travel preferences. Airbnb: An online marketplace not only for apartments and homes, but also for hotel rooms, tours, and activities. Airbnb verifies personal profiles and listings, maintains a smart messaging system so hosts and guests can communicate with certainty, and manages a trusted platform to collect and transfer payments.   Optimize Your SEO for Local Searches Gone are the days of the Yellow Pages; use these tools to ensure your physical business is accurately and attractively represented online. Yext: Yext syncs your location data across hundreds of websites from TripAdvisor to small niche players. This tool drives more foot traffic to your business by distributing accurate information (phone number, address, etc.) for brick-and-mortar businesses and allowing them to run real-time promotions.     MomentFeed: This tool transforms your physical business locations into a massive mobile marketing advantage and drives more sales to every location. MomentFeed manages digital ads, reviews, and social media required to make each of your properties a guest’s top choice. Google My Business: This free tool allows you to optimize and promote your Business Profile and business website in the Google search results and on Google Maps. Google My Business enables you to connect with your guests or customers, post updates to your Business Profile, and see how guests or customers interact with your business on Google.   Marketing Idea: Beat Your Compset on Graphic Design & Social Media If your website doesn’t contain eye-catching graphics and compelling content, potential customers will skip to a competitor. Grab their attention with images, video, and text that conveys your brand’s value proposition and reflects your brand’s values. These graphic design and content tools will help you craft attractive and high-quality media for any digital marketing channel - and keep it all organized. Graphic Design Allow your digital image to accurately reflect your brand and business with high-quality graphic design. From logos to infographics to color palettes, your brand image is a crucial part of your digital footprint - and a streamlined image can make your brand more recognizable and memorable to current and potential customers. Plus, it’s not always necessary to spend the big bucks on graphic design; these online graphic design tools can create beautiful results at a low (or no) cost. Visually: If you don't have an in-house graphic design team - this is a great way to still get custom graphics. You can tap into their collection of finished infographics and templates or use their talented team of designers to get something completely custom. Fill out a simple creative brief and they will pair you with the best talent for the job.  Envato: Envato Market is a collection of marketplaces for creative digital assets. Buy anything from Photoshop actions and video footage to advanced WordPress themes and plugins. Get unlimited downloads of themes, plugins, graphics, photos, fonts and more with a monthly subscription. Canva: Canva is a simplified graphic design tool used by both non designers as well as professionals. Its subscription service is perfect for people who need web design to be easy but may not have a budget for a full time graphic designer. You can create everything from logos, charts, graphs, shapes and presentations in custom font and design. It has drag and drop features that make design easy for newbies.      Dribble: The go-to resource for discovering and connecting with designers and creative talent around the globe. It is a community of designers sharing screenshots of their work, process, and projects to help you hire expert creatives that are perfect for your project. Design Pickle:  This company is a flat-rate graphic design subscription service offering unlimited requests, unlimited revisions, a dedicated designer, native source files.  In a few clicks you’ll have access to a professional designer ready to jump into your creative ecosystem. Get matched with a Design Pickle graphic designer who knows you by name and understands your brand and changing business needs. Their intuitive platform makes it easy to request and manage your designs and scale up as you grow. Stencil: Share As Image can transform any image into a custom piece of content. Easily create social media graphics, compelling ads, or beautiful blog headers in a fraction of the time. Download the app or use the Chrome plugin, then it’s as simple as clicking “share as image” and adding the text or filters you want.   Photography Stock photography can quickly (and inexpensively) add some extra pizazz to your website, social media, or marketing materials. Death To Stock Photo: Death to Stock is an artist-owned co-op that provides you with the most authentic stock photos and videos; with unlimited downloads and new work added every month. Death to Stock sends you a free bundle of high-quality images each month via email. You can also sign up as a premium user and get access to its entire library. Getty Images: Find the perfect royalty-free image for your next project from the world's best photo library of creative stock photos, vector art illustrations, and stock photography.   Video Marketing As we’ve seen through the growth of YouTube, consumers aren’t satisfied with simple photos anymore - they want video. Bring your brand to life with these video marketing tools. Promo.com: Create stand-out video ads, social media videos, product videos, explainer videos and more - all optimized for online results. Customize more than 2,500 top performing video templates or create your own. Choose from over 15M premium HD videos and photos from Getty, Shutterstock, and other top-rated partners in our visual library. Wistia: This software helps you present captivating video experiences on your site that turn viewers into brand advocates. It offers analytics, automation and a place to host your videos.   Content Marketing Strategy High-quality content is key to building an online brand. Create and share memorable, engaging content that your customers or followers will want to tell their friends about. Clear Voice: This content creation platform and integrated Talent Network can scale content for all your marketing channels faster than ever — to save time and money while building ROI. Their marketing platform is like a playground for content people, where brands and agencies can connect with freelancers to create great content. Followerwonk: If Twitter is one of your strongest platforms, this is a tool for you. Develop a strategic posting and content approach, and figure out key demos about your followers' so you can deliver quality content that resonates with them. This tool will mine your Twitter Analytics in order to help you find relevant Twitter accounts that are worth targeting.  Buzzsumo: If you want to be successful in content marketing, you have to do your research, which is where Buzzsumo comes in, with a quick click, get a look at what’s trending on social media and analyze the returned results to find out why they're trending. This will help inspire you to write content that resonates with consumers. You can also look at your own content to see what's performing and who's engaging with it. Buzzsumo shows content that is trending across social media based on searched topics. Following your search, you can analyze the results that are returned to see what’s so appealing about them and to get ideas of subjects to write about.     Trello: This tool is ideal for content strategists that want to plan out their editorial calendar. It's perfect for content brainstorming and its calendar service allows you to collaboratively create and share ideas across multiple individuals and teams. It operates more as a content planner than content scheduler -- you can create notecards for article topics, marketing campaigns, or other subjects your team may focus on. On each card, users can take notes, record instructions, update the project status, and assign cards to certain people. Hemingway App: If you want solid content, run it through this tool to check its quality and make sure its complexity is appropriate to your audience. The app highlights lengthy, complex sentences and common errors; if you see a yellow sentence, shorten or split it. If you see a red highlight, your sentence is so dense and complicated that your readers will get lost trying to follow its meandering, splitting logic — try editing this sentence to remove the red.   Content Organization Use these content organization tools to plan your content strategy in advance so you’re never faced with writer’s block. Pocket: This app and web service is ideal for managing a reading list of articles and videos from the Internet. Save articles, videos and stories from any publication, page or app. Curate your own space filled with everything you can’t wait to learn. CoSchedule: CoSchedule Marketing Suite is a family of agile marketing products that will help you organize your content, social, work, and assets in one place. Save time, publish consistently, and grow your audience. Editorial Calendar plans help you organize your blog and social media to build and share your brand.   Traffic Generation for Small Businesses in the Hospitality Industry If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Brand awareness is key in all marketing and advertising.  A great marketing plan drums up interest in your brand and then delivers attractive offers for prospective customers.  Does your website even exist if nobody looks at it? You’ve invested time, energy, and money into building a great website, but how do you generate traffic? With a strong social media presence, creative social media marketing, a focus on search engine optimization (SEO), and referral programs, you don’t need to dedicate lots of money and effort to get eyes on your site. These tools will help your website become more visible and make your marketing efforts more effective, then keep visitors engaged all the way through the purchase process.   Social Media Management Maximizing your social media activity isn’t as simple as creating a profile. Use these social media management tools to understand your followers, build relationships with influencers, and grow your brand. Drum Up: DrumUp discovers and helps you share great content to your social media accounts so you can start meaningful conversations with your followers. This site mines through tons of content across the web in real time, and uses sophisticated algorithms to recommend fresh stories most relevant to your audience. Social Mention: This is a free tool that provides a real-time analysis of social media. It organizes social media mentions of your brand into a single stream and includes hashtags, top keywords, and sites. Traackr: Traackr is an influencer relationship management platform that allows businesses to find, vet, manage, and measure their influencer marketing programs. It is designed for companies that already have an established influencer program. Traackr provides influencer discovery, vetting, campaign organization, measurement, and the industry’s only influencer market performance benchmark. Sprout Social: Build and grow stronger relationships on social. Understand and reach your audience, engage your community and measure performance with the only all-in-one social media management platform built for connection. Buffer: Plan, collaborate, and publish click-stopping content that drives meaningful engagement and growth for your brand. Buffer is a really simple way to automate and optimize your marketing strategy. Plan and publish your content for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn from one simple dashboard.     Hootsuite: This is the central management platform for all your social media channels. In one session, you can schedule posts in advance so that your content is prepped for the coming weeks or months. You can also identify key influencers and hashtags.This one-stop-shop helps you not only manage your social posts, but also track ROI and brand mentions. It will allow you to see which of your social posts are generating the most buzz. Sniply: Sniply adds your custom call to action to any page on the web, allowing you to engage your followers through every link you share. For example, you can attach a button to the page that links to your own website, so that people can discover you while they read. Sniply generates unique links for you to share. Anyone clicking on your links will see the content along with your call-to-action inside.   Digital PR A strong SEO strategy doesn’t stop with your own search results performance. Leverage these digital PR tools to build backlinks, snag placement in news articles, and get in touch with influencers. BuzzStream: This software will help you research influencers, manage your relationships, and conduct outreach that’s personalized and efficient. Through one centralized database, BuzzStream discovers contact information, social profiles, and site metrics for you. It’s easy to prioritize the most important, influential contacts. Their customizable reports provide deep insight into your outreach campaigns, team performance and link placements - so you know what works and what doesn't.  Just Reach Out: PR software and guidance to get the exposure you need to grow your business. Their software allows you to find the most relevant journalists, publications, press opportunities, podcasts and broken links so you can pitch with confidence.     Pitchbox: Find bloggers, publishers, and influencers in record time. With multiple prospecting profiles and intuitive keyword search, Pitchbox allows you to find influencers in your niche in a matter of seconds. Save hundreds of hours each month while being in total control of your messaging. Customize each outreach email to your target opportunities, without manual input, and automatically follow up with prospects who haven’t responded, boosting response rates ~62% on average.   SEO: Keyword Planning Search engine optimization is important for generating traffic, but how do you know which keywords to target? These keyword planning tools will help you decide where to start. If you have a general idea of a few keywords to target, use a keyword research tool to find more relevant keywords that can put your website in front of more viewers.  SEO keyword planning starts with understanding your target market. What questions or queries do your customers search for that your product and content can answer? KWFinder: A good key word finder like KWFinder is essential. You may have great content, but you also need great keywords in order to get a better ranking and more visibility. This tool is ideal for small businesses because it offers more functionality than the free tools in an easy-to-use format, for an affordable monthly fee. All you have to do is put in a seed keyword and the tool will come back with hundreds of suggestions, search volume data, trends, and a ranking difficulty score for each word or phrase. Keyword Planner: This Google Ads tool is perfect for new or experienced advertisers. You can use Keyword Planner to search for keywords and see how a list of keywords might perform. It can also help you choose competitive bids and budgets to use with your campaigns. Reach new customers and grow your business with Google Ads, Google's online advertising program.This platform is set up like a workshop so you can learn as you go. Neil Patel Ubersuggest: You no longer will waste time writing content that people don’t want to read. Insight into the keywords your audience uses is likely to spark ideas for new content pieces or product features or even new products that actually resonate with your consumer. Ubersuggest is a free keyword tool that gives you tons of suggestions based on your topic. It’s like an enhanced version of Google’s suggestions. Its new feature even lets you type in a competitor's domain name to get better keyword ideas. SpyFu: This self-serve competitive intelligence tool specializes primarily in keyword research. They provide unlimited searches for domains, keywords, and backlinks as well as unlimited exports, which other services usually don’t offer.     Screaming Frog: This is an easy way to analyze the technical components of your website to make sure you’re well-optimized for search engines. This website crawler will help you identify your SEO issues like broken links or duplicate content. Any site issues your having will be flagged so won't miss a beat.  Ahrefs: Audit your website, explore competitors, research keywords & backlinks - all in one place. Powered by seriously big data & trusted by top SEOs. Unlike old school SEO which was focused on backlink quantity, this new practice is all about building relevant and organic backlinks. Search engines will know how trustworthy your site is based on how many quality links leads to your content. SEMRush: Offers online visibility and marketing analytics software subscriptions.   Pay-Per-Click Strategy A big portion of website traffic starts in the search results. As search results marketing gets more and more competitive, hone your pay-per-click strategy to get the best cash-to-click ratio. WordStream: Turn browsers into buyers with tools designed to drive new purchasers to your site and kickstart your shopping campaign ROAS. WordStream Advisor for Ecommerce gives advertisers the tools you need to set up & manage your shopping campaigns on platforms like Google AdWords and Facebook. Turn more shoppers into customers, faster. Kite: Kite is a tool for digital advertising professionals, to help get both better performances and the most out of their budget. Kite’s main objective is to improve your conversations and ROI without increasing spend. The platform will analyze your existing campaigns and create a report that is built of recommendations based on 40+ industry tested best practices. The reports come with insights that are each uniquely formulated to give you the best strategies when moving forward with your campaigns. Squared.io: This optimization platform analyzes your Google Ads account daily for opportunities and issues.They analyze your settings for anomalies and give you the opportunity to fix them from the interface so you can maximize the traffic and conversions for your account. Optmyzr: Do optimizations and reporting in a fraction of the time so you can handle more accounts more effectively, and grow your bottom line. Optmyzr connects with your advertising accounts and analyzes data in real-time, making suggestions about how to optimize the performance of your accounts.   Clicks and Conversion Use these tools to turn casual shoppers into paying customers. Picreel: Picreel is an on-site retargeting and conversion rate optimization platform that will help you send the right message to the right person at the right time. It will help you capture email addresses and put a call to action in front of your website visitors. Picreel optimizes offers on your website by tracking visitors' digital footprints and click behavior in real-time, then it serves up the most relevant offer as they navigate around your site.  Convert: Convert is an A/B testing tool used to improve the conversion rate of your website. This will allow you to improve and attract more users to your website and essentially increase revenue. Anyone on your team can start experimenting. Switch out text, images, calls to action, or HTML/CSS elements without adding a single line of code. Proof: Proof is designed to help you display your social proof so that you can create FOMO (fear of missing out) and convert more visitors into leads. The platform is designed to help you save on acquisition costs and increase brand perception. It's very easy to download: all you have to do is copy and paste their pixel onto your site page.   Lead Capture A strong email list will give you powerful email marketing opportunities. Use these tools to encourage visitors to subscribe to your email updates. OptinMonster: OptinMonster’s beautiful, attention-grabbing opt-in forms are proven to convert visitors into subscribers. OptinMonster helps you showcase the right offer to the right people at the right time to build your email list, get more leads, and increase bookings. Unbounce: Get more leads, sales, and customers with landing pages built just how you want. Create and optimize dedicated landing pages that prompt your visitors with one focused goal instead of leaving them to wander a site full of distractions. Create custom landing pages with no code required. Get built-in conversion power and the ability to A/B test your pages to see exactly what’s working. Experiment with messaging, design, and forms to validate what makes more visitors convert more often.     Referral Programs If your website visitors love what you offer, these tools make it easy for them to refer friends or family - one of the best ways to spread the word about your business and acquire new customers. Mention Me: Mention Me encourages, measures, and rewards customers who love your product enough to recommend it to others and keep coming back themselves. This SaaS platform enables companies to supercharge word-of-mouth for fast and effective new customer acquisition. Extole: Extole is a referral marketing program that helps companies acquire customers through their refer-a-friend program. You can choose from rewards like discount codes or gift cards. When one of your current customers buys something using a code, they get a reward for sharing it with a friend or family member. The friend or family member will also receive a reward and most likely become a new customer of your brand - so everybody wins! Viral-Loops: A viral and referral marketing platform to launch ranking competitions, sweepstakes, pre-launch offers, and referral programs. When you run an ongoing referral marketing campaign, people earn bigger prizes for the more friends they refer.     Pay With A Tweet: Pay with a Tweet is a social media referral tool that drives reach through social shares. Publishers can incentivize their users by offering products or content in exchange for a social post. It is easily implemented on your website and the user experience is quick, simple and safe. PWT will verify that your customers have really shared your brand with their friends and make sure that they get the promised reward for it.   Customer Relationship Management in Small Business Marketing Digital tools aren’t only helpful in driving sales on your website; they can benefit your physical business too. Use these tools to better manage relationships with your customers and build brand loyalty. If your website allows customers to order products or guests to book rooms, then these tools can help you increase your sales performance. By building strong relationships with your guests or consumers, you can keep them coming back for more.   CRM Software Customers are the core of your business. Investing in a customer relationship management system can assist in increasing sales and understanding customer behavior. KWI: A cloud-based platform and team of tech experts that help retailers sell more, streamline processes, and create holistic customer experiences - online and offline. This omni-channel POS tool supports in-store and online purchases, fulfillment, returns, and exchanges. You can see sales and inventory in real time and get real time data collection, segmenting, and targeting capabilities to better understand your customers. Pipedrive: This is a comprehensive CRM solution that helps with all aspects of your sales cycle. Pipedrive provides you with everything you need, including detailed reports, email automation, and AI-powered tools. HubSpot: When you're running a few different campaigns across multiple channels, it can be hard to manage them and even harder to get a pulse on what's working. HubSpot program offers a full stack of software for marketing, sales, and customer service, with a completely free CRM at its core. Hubspot provides everything you need to organize, track, and build better relationships with leads and customers.     Zoho: Zoho enables users to reach out to prospects at the right moment and engage them across every channel. Give your sales team the perfect set of apps to help close more business deals in less time.   Marketing Automation If your sales team performs the same tasks over and over again, an automation tool can do the work for them and let them spend time more strategically. Hatchbuck: Hatchbuck is an all-in-one CRM and marketing automation tool created specifically for small businesses. Keep tabs on every contact with their easy-to-learn, simple-to-use CRM. Hatchbuck lets you know who your hot prospects are so you can focus on selling. Keap: Keap is a comprehensive CRM, sales, and marketing automation software to help you consistently win more business. Create a repeatable sales process that makes it easy for you to set up appointments, track leads, and get quotes accepted all from your CRM. Constant Contact: Constant Contact can help you compose attractive emails, build a website with ease, create a logo for your brand, run Google Ads to get more website traffic, or find new customers on social media. Their software will take care of all of your list management needs. You get access to a whole suite of campaign types available to help reach and engage with your customers.   Website Live Chat If website visitors have a question, make it as easy as possible for them to get answers with the option to chat in real-time with a bot or a customer service representative. Intercom: This messaging platform allows businesses to communicate with prospective and existing customers within their app, on their website, through social media, or via email. Use bots and live chat to automatically qualify, route, and convert more leads - and faster. Send targeted email, in-app, and push messages to turn more visitors into customers.     Tawk.to: Provides your business with all of the features you would find in common live messaging platforms, but for free. You can customize the chat widget, converse via mobile (even by using predefined shortcuts), analyze visitors in real-time, and trigger actions to proactively interact with them. LiveChat: This tool includes most of the features already available within Intercom but plus message sneak peaks, agent ratings, chat routing, and integrations for the chat widget. It's not free, but it's worth the price for the bells and whistles. LiveChat is perfect for beginners who want to utilize a customizable and ready-to-use chat widget. but also for developers who want to change and build on the standard offering.  LiveChat also has a couple other products in their arsenal such as HelpDesk, which is an email management software and ticketing system and ChatBot, an intuitive chatbot solution that's great for automating customer support. HelpCrunch: HelpCrunch supports multi-channel messaging and combines all messages from a single user under one roof – including email, the chat widget, or social media. The platform automatically gathers all personal or behavioral customer data, coupled with their chat history to date, then provides actionable insights. You can follow up on queries with emails or instant solutions. LiveAgent: This platform offers live chat functionality, but also includes ticket management, social messages, and customer care support (including phone call functionality) in one integrated platform. The LiveAgent chat widget first searches for answers, then connects customers to a live representative.    Email Marketing Send targeted email updates, newsletters, and offers to your subscribers. Mailchimp: This service will enable you to capture emails, manage your lists, send out emails automatically or on a schedule, and analyze engagement. It simplifies all the services you need and remains free until your list hits 2,000 subscribers.   Loyalty Programs Offer incentives to keep customers coming back for more with these loyalty program platforms. Belly: Collect customer info after their first visit to keep them engaged and coming back. Send email marketing and mobile campaigns without lifting a finger. Belly also helps you grow your social channels and attract new customers. Fivestars: Ditch the old school punch card and go digital, with a loyalty card that customers won't accidently leave at home. The Fivestars Customer Touchscreen integrates with your point-of-sale. Your customers enter their phone number every time they make a purchase. You decide the rewards they can redeem, like a free coffee.     CandyBar: Customers get rewards, cashiers get 3-tap checkout, and store owners get to see top customers and KPIs. No POS integration required; CandyBar runs on any browser and only takes three minutes to set up.  Loyalzoo: A digital loyalty system for brick-and-mortar stores and eateries. Loyalzoo offers a practical way of helping consumers support their local shops and restoring pride to their areas. Sign customers up for your loyalty program directly on your point-of-sale system or online using their phone number or email address. Once your customers are signed up to your program and collect points, you can send messages or promotions and push sales during slow periods. There is also an option for customers to pay to be part of a loyalty or membership program for added perks.   Use Analytics to Fuel Your Hotel Marketing Strategies What are your guests or customers thinking? What’s their path to purchase on your website? And why do they love your product - or not? Diving into your ideal consumer’s preferences, needs, and wants will help you tailor your marketing messages to be most relevant for your audience. Website Visitor Insights What do guests or customers actually do on your hotel or business’s website? What links do they click? How long do they stay on each page? Or do they run into an error and jump to a competitor’s website? Understanding the behavior of the people using your website is an important first step to reach your digital marketing goals. Without a smooth website experience, you can’t expect guests to book more rooms or for customers to purchase more products. Google Analytics: Discover who is visiting your site and what they're up to when they arrive. The platform looks at the number of visitors, where they come from, and the keywords they used to get to your site. All of these actionable insights help you better understand your potential guests and how to speak to them.     Kissmetrics: Map your guest or customer’s journey on your website from looker to booker. With this platform, you will find out exactly where your website visitors are coming from and can map their journey to purchase. You will get the crucial data you need to optimize your marketing channels, attract more guests, and get them to convert once they reach your website. Send automated behavioral engagements at the perfect time to get people happily headed in the right direction. Pendo: Access to the analytics you need to understand what users are doing across their product journey. Product teams can understand product usage, collect feedback, measure sentiment, onboard users, and announce new features in-app, without requiring engineering resources. Crazy Egg: This data collection tool is ideal for gaining insights into how your customers use your website. Through click reports, heat maps, and A/B testing tools, you will be able to identify areas of friction that represent conversion opportunities. Hot Jar: Gain insight into the behavior of your website visitors - perfect for conversion optimization. A simple script is the only thing you need to set up all the features for your website.    Heap: Heap automatically captures web and mobile app behavioral data. Retroactively analyze behavioral data without writing code. Their infrastructure is built to automatically capture customer interactions, make sense of them, and make them actionable.   Market Research What’s the easiest way to know what your potential or current customers want? Ask them! These survey tools make questionnaires effortless and engaging. Turn customer preferences into actionable insights that can shape your strategy and convert more sales. Survey Anyplace: This tool streamlines the survey creation experience by allowing you to build your own surveys and tailor them to your brand's unique needs. They are optimized for mobile with a heavy visual emphasis if desired. They analyze your settings for anomalies and give you the opportunity to fix them from the interface so you can maximize the traffic and conversions for your account. SurveyMonkey: This survey software is intuitive and quick. SurveyMonkey is a global leader in survey software. With a few minutes, you can design, create & publish a survey that will give you access to key consumer insights and trends.     Pollfish: Survey Pollfish’s global network of over 550 million consumers to gain insights into consumer preferences for any industry. The information you glean from these studies can help you hone your product-market fit and reach potential customers more effectively. Google Forms: As part of the Google G Suite, this tool lets you intuitively build surveys, forms, and quizzes, then export the answers or results to a Google Sheet. Easily add collaborators, make edits, and analyze the results within your personal or business Google account.   Audience Profiles What do your guests or customers really think about your brand or product? Tap into their opinions to find opportunities to better your business. Qzzr: Businesses can make fun and engaging quizzes with Qzzr to better understand their audiences and generate new leads. Build richer customer profiles, improve engagement, and generate more revenue by asking the right questions. Finished quizzes can be embedded on your website or socials.  Reddit: This is a social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website.  Joining the Reddit community is a great way to gain consumer insights about your target audience on a much deeper level - it's like going undercover. Members submit content to the site such as links, text posts, and images, which are then voted up or down by other members. Brands can use this information to gain insights into how their customers are talking about their products or services. Quora: This platform allows you to ask questions and get answers from experts in the Quora community. Members ask questions about just about every topic you can imagine, including product reviews, travel recommendation, and even digital marketing strategies! Small businesses can respond to questions related to their product or service and include a link to their website.   Productivity Tools for Small Business Marketing Stay focused, submit deliverables on time, and organize information with these product management tools. Whether your business is a hotel, a restaurant, or a store, it’s important to keep projects moving in the right direction. These handy tools can help you save time and stay organized so you can focus on other things.. Collaboration & Organization Platforms Working with colleagues and business partners can be challenging - especially when your team members work different shifts or are based in other parts of the world. Stay in sync with these collaboration tools. Slack: This cloud-based collaboration hub makes it easy for you to follow conversations or easily find information in searchable archives. Slack integrates with all major project management, office management, sales, productivity, design, and developer tools, which makes communication even more seamless. Instead of a single overstuffed inbox, conversations in Slack happen in dedicated spaces called channels. Asana: Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work. Plan and structure work in a way that’s best for you. Set priorities and deadlines, share details, and assign tasks.  Trello: No matter where you are, Trello stays in sync across all of your devices. Collaborate with your team anywhere, from sitting on the bus to sitting on the beach. Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible, and rewarding way.     Evernote: Share ideas with anyone and find information faster. Evernote helps you capture ideas, inspiration, and trends, while storing it in one easily accessible location. You can access your files on your phone, laptop, or tablet, making it the perfect tool for finding and storing content ideas, market research, brainstorming, and competitive analyses. Basecamp: Unlike email, where you have to constantly manage the chaos, Basecamp keeps projects organized. Each project section contains everything related to the work at hand: all the people involved, every discussion, every document, file, task, important dates, and more.   Copy Editing Even the most beautiful website or well-intentioned email can see conversion slip because of typos. Use a copy editing tool to write professional text all the time. Grammarly: Just because you can't afford to hire a copy editor doesn't mean you can afford mistakes. Grammarly can make corrections while you write on Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all your other favorite sites. Use it in combination with your spell checker and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many typos you avoid. If you opt for the paid premium version, Grammarly also offers a plagiarism checker.   Budgeting While you work hard to increase website traffic and sales, don’t forget to keep your finances in check. Due: This affordable solution is for business owners to pay and get paid faster. Due helps your business seamlessly process credit cards, eCash and eCheck payments.   Offline Optimization Spread the word online about events happening in real life and make the checkout process as frictionless as possible with these helpful hints. Bosstab: Bosstab sells tablet stands, POS equipment, and accessories. The company focuses on using tablets in a business setting - perfect for hospitality venues, shops, showrooms, and general businesses. Get the perfect stand to house your tablets or accessories. Eventbrite: Create a beautiful event listing page with built-in payment processing, analytics, and support. Manage and track your sales with real-time reporting and analytics from any device. Give your event-goers a great experience with simple, secure checkout and rapid check-in through Eventbrite’s mobile apps and full suite of on-site equipment, staffing, and logistics. -- Now that you’re armed with 100 small business marketing tools, growth is within reach. Use these tools to spread the world about your product, increase your sales or bookings, and stay organized behind the scenes. When you can spend less time and effort on the intricacies of marketing, you can focus on what really matters: delivering a great product.