News

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

< HotelTechReport Blog

Hotel Booking Engine Software Articles

Cover image

Adapting to Changing Traveler Behaviors and Expectations in 2022

by
Andrew Gogus
1 month ago

Understanding travel trends and behaviors has been somewhat more difficult to recognize in the midst of the pandemic. However, some undeniable facts remain for the changing traveler behaviors and expectations. It's important to learn and adapt in order for your business to reach its highest potential and maximize revenues. To begin, the traveler demographic is notably shifting and we will be seeing a great increase in the amount of Gen Z travelers. Generation Z, or Gen Z, includes anyone born between 1995 - 2012. This is the first generation that is digitally native. Meaning that the generation grew up with technology from a very early age. As some hoteliers might see this group as low-spending, that is in fact not true. Not only do the younger ones influence the destinations chosen by their parents, but older Gen-Zers are said to spend even more than regular tourists. Eager to travel and experience the world, young travelers are likely to return and give more value to the destination over their lifetime. According to UNWTO “Young people see travel as an essential part of their everyday lives, rather than just a brief escape from reality.” In order to capture the attention of the first digitally native generation, it's crucial to be as visible as you can online, provide a smooth booking process, and be able to offer customized promotions to guests.   Grow Online Visibility Across New Booking Channels It is almost inevitable that your property needs to have a strong online presence. This means not only having a website for your property that allows travelers to book but also being visible and listed on multiple different online travel agencies (OTAs). Being present on multiple different platforms greatly increases the segment of travelers you are able to reach. Different countries and regions have different booking habits when it comes to choosing an OTA, so it is important that your property is listed on those websites. According to Expedia, “Gen Zers turn 31% more to OTAs than they were prior to the COVID-19 crisis.” Surely, trying to manage your property on different platforms and keeping everything up to date, will be very difficult and time-consuming. This is where a channel manager will be the most beneficial to you and your property. A channel manager is a tool that enables hoteliers to connect to multiple different OTA’s and allows them to manage bookings and update inventory from one platform. Choosing the right channel manager will help you not only bring in more guests and maximize profits but also save time allowing you to focus on offering a seamless guest experience.   Facilitate Quick Booking via Your Direct Channel There is a fundamental difference between older and newer generations. It's important to understand and leverage these differences to your advantage. According to global studies, while millennials have an attention span of 12 seconds, Gen Zers have decreased this to 8 seconds. This means you have an average of 8 seconds to make the best first impression and encourage the travelers into the booking flow. Doing so requires you to have a seamless booking experience. Enabling your guests to easily choose a room type, date, and payment method is essential. These can all be attained by using a booking engine. Booking engines are important tools that are easily placed into your website, and enable guests to directly book from your website without going to any 3rd party websites. This helps you provide the quickest and best experience for your guests. Choosing the right booking engine for your property will not only capture traffic but will also cause less frustration for both you and your guests. Easing the workload for your staff is also a huge benefit.  Having rates and availability synced and updated with each reservation, gives your team the time and energy to focus on different tasks, in return providing a better experience for your guests.    Offer Exclusive Services and Promotions Even though the attention span may be shorter, Gen Zers actually recall advertising content better than millennials and Gen X. This plays a key role in retaining guests and them coming back for multiple visits. Younger consumers record a high rate of brand preference, meaning they relate closely to the brands they are choosing. They are attracted by a brand’s reputation on the environment, its customer care, and product exclusivity. Sustainability and eco-friendliness are major trends and should somehow be implemented to your property. Changes made can range anywhere from using recyclable materials, reducing waste, eliminating plastic utensils, to almost anything that shows that your business cares. Customer care and product exclusivity are other things you should consider offering. Being in the hospitality industry, it should already be pretty evident that customer care should be one of the highest priorities. Product exclusivity, on the other hand, may seem more difficult, but it actually isn't. Offering your guests special deals and coupons that can be used during the booking process, will provide a great deal of interest. These are where it's important to have a promotion engine integrated with your booking process because together they will provide a quick, easy, and rewarding experience. Promotions help you generate appeal and attraction - both of which will drive up bookings. Leveraging promotions to your advantage is important to capture all types of bookings.    Leverage a Hotel CRM to Drive Loyalty Understanding the travelers’ new behaviors and expectations helps you make the right decisions. We see that the younger travelers prefer brands that align with their values and that they can have a bond with. GRM (Guest Relationship Management) tools help build a relationship with your customers that, in turn, creates loyalty and customer retention.  According to RjMetrics, repeat customers are likely to spend 300x more. Building this relationship may sometimes seem difficult, especially during these times. Guest relationship management tools help you get in contact with guests in their native language before their stay, help guests to make any travel arrangements they may need, and address any customer complaints quickly and effectively. You will also be able to interact with guests even after they have stayed at your property, which is just as important as before they arrive. Leaving a good impression even post-stay is a great way to leave the best mark. Considering the irreversible impact of the pandemic on the traveler behavior, the influential Gen Z and the ever-changing nature of the travel industry, it becomes inevitable for you to change the way you do business. Understanding these trends and adapting to them will help you make the right decisions and show you where you should focus more of your energy on. Whether it be providing your guests with a more seamless booking experience with the booking engine, simplifying your operations with the channel manager or improving your guest relationships with promotional coupons and following up with post and pre-stay emails. These tools will allow you to keep up with the new trends and attract travelers who have an entirely different mindset.  

Cover image

Hotel Payments Processing: Understanding the Fees and Stakeholders

by
Jan Hejny
3 months ago

Most hoteliers don't know how much they're paying for transactions. Do you? Sure, many can tell you their Booking.com commission rate, yet, if you start digging and asking (the right) questions, you'd be surprised to realize that payments fees are out of sight and out of mind. Chances are that if you knew what you were paying you wouldn't be particularly thrilled with the credit card transactions fees you pay. Typically, hotel payment processing fees on transactions range from about 0.7% to 3.5%, and that eats into profits. However, if this is not bad enough, many other "invisible" costs are involved with payments. And some of them are so well-hidden that it can take years for even the most savvy hoteliers to get a full grasp of the ecosystem tolls. Many hoteliers are overpaying their providers without even realizing it. But don't be fooled: when selecting a processor, only considering transaction fees is, at least, misleading, so if someone is undercharging you there, it's very likely they're adding a markup somewhere else. There are so many players interested when it comes to payments, so it's relatively easy to bury another fee or two here and there without the hotel even discovering it.   Payment: A Long Journey Whenever a transaction is made (online, in person, via phone/email, etc.), there are at least seven parties involved: The consumer: in hospitality, that's the guest. Usually, he's the cardholder or the person paying for the stay; The merchant: the business which is selling the services (or the products for the retail industry). In our case, that's the hotel; The gateway: the technology needed to connect the hotel to the payment processor. The payment processor: it enables the communication between the hotel, the credit card network, and the guest's bank; The credit card network: it's the guest's credit card brand (Visa, Amex, Mastercard, etc.); The issuing bank: the guest's bank making the payment; The acquiring bank: the hotel's bank receiving the payment. This means that, during each step of the payment, extra charges can be applied, sometimes indiscriminately. Here are some of the primary examples of additional costs: Buy rates: processors' costs associated with opening and maintaining the merchant's account. They are, basically, the acquiring bank's fees, made of the interchange + the acquiring bank's markup; Card issues charges: charges made by the card-issuing bank based on the type of the card and its location. For instance, EU-issued personal debit cards are capped to 0.2%, while credit cards to 0.3%. Business cards, on the other hand, are not capped. Booking.com's issuing bank, for example, charges an additional 2% for its virtual card. (Yup, if you do the math, receiving payment through BKG's card will cost you up to 1.8% more than a debit card...); Card scheme fees: fees charged typically by the card brands. Although not very high, they can vary and be very complex; Card tokenization charges: To charge a credit/debit card, a PMS should receive (usually from a partner, such as a channel manager or a booking engine) the number first, and then, tokenize it. Tokenization assures secure storage of credit card numbers and PCI compliance, so it's a crucial service. Here, however, is where systems tend to apply very different rates, and when hotels usually don't look. The payment gateway we use charges 0.05€ per tokenized card, but we've seen PMSs charging four/five times that amount. Moreover, some systems even apply "double tokenizations," meaning that they charge twice if a guest, for example, modifies his reservation on an OTA. Yes, a guest postponing the check-out date can cost you double what you already paid... Sure, a small property could not even notice it, but what if you're running a 100+ key hotel? Payment gateway fees: these are typically charged for initializing a transaction (it can be a payment, a refund, a preauthorization, collect/cancel of preauthorization, etc.). The cost can vary from gateway to gateway, and some systems may also add a markup. Wire Fee: some acquirers charge a fee every single time they send a settlement. If you, like ourselves, receive one a day, that can become quite expensive very quickly. Moreover, your bank may charge you an additional wire fee, making things even worse.   How to Save Money on Payments So, how can you avoid falling into this trap and overpaying for your transactions? Unless you have a complete understanding of how payments work at a higher level, it's challenging get the entire picture.  Start by asking the right questions to your provider. Don't settle with the "we offer the lowest transaction fees in the industry." That's just the marketing department talking, and it won't save you from all the "invisible" costs. Instead, download the latest invoice and start checking all the entries. You may not understand all of them, but at least you now know where to look.

Cover image

How to Make Your Hotel Website ADA Compliant

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Your physical hotel lodging facilities are ADA compliant with accessible guest rooms, but has your website kept up with ADA regulations like Title III (the Americans with Disabilities Act)?  There's nothing worse than a scare from an inspector or worst yet a letter from the Department of Justice itself.  If you’re looking for easy ways to improve your website conversion, get incremental revenue, and boost your guest review scores, then you should take a close look at your website to make sure it’s accessible. But we’re not just talking about making sure your website is online - you’ll want to check that the shopping and booking experience is positive for guests of all abilities and impairments.  In this article, we’ll explain what ADA compliance and accessibility means for your website reservation system and suggest actionable steps you can take to make your website more accessible. With these measures in place, you can position your hotel as a welcoming and accommodating place for all potential guests.

Cover image

Accor’s Innovative Tech Strategy is the Key to Digital Transformation in Hospitality

by
Jordan Hollander
3 months ago

Hotel Tech Report recently sat down with Accor CTO Floor Bleeker for a behind the scenes look at how the hotel giant is out innovating the competition.  Accor is arguably the most disruptive large hotel chain in the world having recently unveiled a first of its kind multi-PMS strategy and also launching its own SPAC to invest in a hotel related businesses including technology. Back in March of 2019 Hotel Tech Report published a piece titled This is Why Hotel Brands Shouldn't Build Tech.  In that article, we made the case that hotel brands needed to rethink archaic tech strategies to adapt in a world of microservices, open APIs, cloud computing and cyber insecurity.  Back in the 90s, hotel companies built their own systems due to constraints of on-premise legacy systems but that playbook is no longer effective for modern hospitality brands. Accor has over 5,200 hotels in over 110 countries operating under more than 40 different brands.  So how does a company of that size and scale maintain a rapid pace of innovation?  In this interview we cover how Accor leverages a unique organizational structure to drive innovation, its technology investments and everything in between.  We’ll break down Accor’s approach to innovation to help guide other hotel chains, regional brands and even independents in how they should be thinking about hotel technology.

Cover image

6 Hotel Website Tips to Help You Convert Traffic Like an OTA

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Are you trying to improve your website’s conversion rate and get more direct bookings? It can be frustrating to know that the majority - up to 99% - of people who look at your website end up booking on expensive third-party channels, while most guests do visit your website at some point during the booking process. Imagine the massive impact on your business if you could increase your conversion rate by just 1%. If your average booking is $1,000 and your website gets 20,000 visitors per month, a 1% boost in conversion would yield $200,000 per month of incremental revenue! But achieving a higher conversion rate on your website isn’t a pipe dream; it’s achievable when you make the booking process as smooth and easy as possible. In this article, we’ll share some actionable tips that will turn your website into a conversion machine and highlight how a next generation payment and booking platform like Selfbook can dramatically improve conversion on your hotel website.  

Cover image

Get Smart: Are You Running an Intelligent Hotel?

by
Sean Beardmore
3 months ago

There’s no question that, in these unprecedented times, hotels are facing serious challenges. With the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic impacting so much in the hospitality sector – and these effects varying from season to season and, even, month to month – hoteliers are trying to fulfill the needs and desires of loyal and new guests like never before. To remain open and build the seeds of resurgence for when the coronavirus has receded and, mercifully, the pandemic is behind us, owners are coming to the realisation their hotels must become more intelligently-run enterprises. They need to become hotels run as efficiently and effectively as possible – they need to become ‘intelligent hotels’. But what does this mean in practice? What does an intelligent hotel look like? It comes down to the systems implemented and maintained, on a daily basis. It’s about trying to maximise profit by ensuring a hotel offers direct room-booking and that marketing activity and revenue management blend and work together seamlessly – and then using this symbiotic relationship to increase the revenue-per-available room (RevPar) to drive up bottom-line revenue.   Intelligent Advertising So, if you’re seeking to run your hotel more intelligently, where to start? Well, advertising the property and its available rooms in the smartest way possible, direct to potential guests via pay-per-click (PPC) Google Ads, isn’t a bad place to start. This is because it would ensure your available rooms are advertised not just when they become available, but also to exactly the kind of people most likely to book them. Indeed, to run their property ‘intelligently’, then, a hotelier may well seek out top-of-the-range ‘intelligent ads’ software to complement and enhance their PPC activity. Such a solution would be designed to exploit the hotel’s data insights, in order to drive and improve Google Ads performance, by targeting the most likely bookers and so, in turn, maximise room reservations and increase additional spend on services and amenities. Now, if this kind of digital marketing sounds state-of-the-art, that’s because it is. ‘Intelligent ads’ software solutions like this are at the sharp end of room advertising, ensuring hoteliers can reap the rewards of the latest integrated marketing techniques and digital technology. They seek to drive up revenues at a time when the industry’s facing great instability; when hoteliers are seeking certainties to remain competitive, progress and look to the future with confidence instead of mere hope. ‘Intelligent ads’ solutions tend to be automated; you can set them up as you want and leave them to do their thing – confident they’ll get on and do exactly what they should. For instance, once you’ve set the objectives and the spending limits for your PPC campaigns, you can trust the module to run the campaigns without you having to step in, check on or oversee anything. The software doesn’t just target the right audience but also works out the most profitable target keywords, uses them in ad campaigns and – by scouring past market data drawn from previous campaigns – recommends new keywords for use.   A Great Guest Management Platform All that notwithstanding, any ‘intelligent ads’ solution will be enhanced if it’s capable of connecting and interacting with an outstanding guest management system (GMS). Why? Because if the software is fully integrated with a GMS, it means a hotel owner can maximise their data to convert exactly the guests they desire into bookers. So, what does such a comprehensive management system look like? Well, as a fully-GDPR-compliant, all-in-one platform, it will deliver full guest-data-intelligence to hotel owners. It will be capable, too, of interacting with practically any property management system (PMS) and social media platform to enhance its analysing, quantifying, segmenting and predicting of loyal guest behaviour. In essence, then, an ‘intelligently run’ hotel would be making use of a management system that’s really a GMS/ CRM-plus; being able to harness its AI functionality to not just collate guest data but analyse details of guests’ social attributes, stay behaviour and historical spend. In turn, this would provide a hotelier with invaluable knowledge of their core customers, ensuring the platform can aid intelligent-ads in reaching these customers with pertinent, personalised content and offers – thereby converting them into bookers precisely as and when needed. Moreover, from its single, central dashboard an ‘intelligent’ GMS of this kind would take control of messaging. It would manage marketing emails and social media messages to all the hotel’s followers, as well as analyse these followers. It would create and send out personalised surveys to all or specific guests – before, during and after their stays. Plus, it would enable hoteliers to analyse guest reviews and respond to these reviews – not just on social media accounts/ platforms but also on much-used hotel review sites – thus, making sure they can fully manage their hotel’s online reputation.   A Brilliant Booking Engine Finally, to operate as an ‘intelligent hotel’, a property has to be backed up not just by an outstanding GMS and be able to fire off intelligent ads, but also exploit the advantages offered by a brilliant booking engine. Why? Because a guest’s experience with a hotel doesn’t begin when they walk through the front door and stroll through the lobby to the front desk; it starts far earlier. A guest experience begins as soon as they start to book a room at the hotel – it starts with their experience of that hotel’s booking engine. No hotel can be run intelligently unless it’s using a top-of-the-range booking engine. Such a booking software solution, then, delivers exactly what hotel owners require. Offering exceptional tools and features, it can be customised to fit a hotel’s brand needs. A fully-functional booking engine like this ought, too, to be fast-operating and easy-to-use; designed to provide a consistent experience on hotel websites that appeases customers and makes them far more likely to book direct rather than through an OTA (without redirections or pop-ups). It’s all about building loyalty among guests and, therefore, maximising conversions. Moreover, a state-of-the-art booking engine will enable customers to compare room prices with those offered by online travel agents (OTAs) – when the room price available is cheaper than those offered by OTAs. Plus, being able to integrate with hotel marketing/ management platforms, it should help hoteliers better understand and engage their guests, so they can gain insights to improve overall guest experiences, drive up ancillary revenues and boost direct booking revenues.   Conclusion Without doubt, the world – and, by extension, the hospitality sector – is going through unprecedented changes. Yet, with or without the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re living in the digital age and, with that, comes rapid advancements and opportunities. For hoteliers, that means taking full advantage of the chance to deliver and increase direct hotel bookings and boost revenues, thanks to integrated hotel management platforms, intelligent marketing/ ad campaigns and customisable booking engines. Should they not do so, hotel owners will lose ground to rivals in these uncompromising, unpredictable times. Put simply, every hotelier should join and fully prosper from today’s digital age – by making their hotel an intelligent hotel.  

Cover image

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

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

Cover image

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Imagine a world where booking a hotel is as quick and painless as ordering from your favorite food delivery app or buying something on Amazon: just a few taps, and you’re done. It sounds futuristic, but with Selfbook and Apple Pay - hotels can finally deliver a seamless hotel booking experience.  Selfbook recently announced that it closed its $25M Series A led by Tiger Global Management to accelerate it’s vision for the future of hotel payments. Since 2014 more than half of online purchases have been made on mobile devices, and we’ve already seen mobile-friendly payment methods like Shop Pay yield staggering four-fold increases in checkout speed and conversion increases of up to 1.91x. Since Apple has a 15% share of the mobile device market (55% in the U.S.), Apple Pay is the preferred payment method for a sizable group of your potential guests. In this article, we’ll explain what hoteliers need to know about Apple Pay and how it can enable better (and more profitable) booking experiences. We’ll walk through examples of ecommerce and hospitality brands that have found success with the platform then introduce you to Selfbook’s booking and payment solution which provides turnkey Apple Pay booking compatibility. We’ll also highlight why innovative hoteliers like you need to offer Apple Pay if you want to boost conversion and compete with the OTAs.

Cover image

HITEC Dallas Report: 50+ Hospitality Technology Innovations You Need to Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

When hotels began to reopen with skeleton crews mid-way through the pandemic, the broader industry started to think about hospitality technology as the key driver to running stronger businesses despite weaker resource availability. Hotel Tech Report traffic data illustrates that despite a sidelined hospitality workforce - there is more interest in hotel technology than ever before.  HTR recently publicized platform data showing 270% growth from March 2020 to 140k+ monthly hoteliers in May of 2021 (14-months into the pandemic). Vendors are innovating in lockstep with hotelier demand for new technology.  Last week our team headed to the first HITEC event since 2019 to scout the latest innovations and save you time staying up to date with recent hotel tech product launches.  This article is packed with the latest tools being developed by top tech firms to help you optimize and grow your hotel business. While researching for this article, our team reviewed 96 different product/feature launches to curate the list below based on the most exciting innovations in the market and then synthesized the top 50 innovations into six key trends. Please reach out via live chat if we've missed a critical innovation or trend! WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECAP: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover Mobile checkin is the new black Guest data management is in the spotlight Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers   Trend #1: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues If you ask any restaurant, retail shop or hotel owner these days 'how's it going?', their first response will likely be to tell you how difficult it is to find and retain talent.  The mass service industry layoffs and furlows at the beginning pandemic coupled with the elogated impact on the global travel industry from the Delta variant caused a mass labor exodus from the hospitality industry.  While city centers continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic, many drive market destinations in many geographies are booming so much so that some have even surpassed pre-pandemic REVPAR levels such as the California wine country and are struggling to staff back up.  Whether you're in a booming drive market destination and need labor now, or you will need it when city centers begin to recover--the labor struggle is real and tech companies have their sights set on coming to the rescue by launching new products and features to help do everything from retain your talent more effectively to manage your property with fewer staff. M3 Launches labor.  Designed for hoteliers on the go, M3’s Labor Management app, M3 Labor, allows hospitality professionals to quickly access their hotels’ labor information and adapt in real time to the labor needs of their properties. Not only do employees get up-to-date visibility of their schedules and work histories, but property managers also have access to labor variances and managing employee time details, all available in the palm of their hand. UniFocus ShiftGenius.  ShiftGenius is a unique scheduling and shift filling feature that introduces flexibility and control for employees and covers the needs of the business. Operators find coverage faster and know that the RIGHT people are filling the shifts. Hotel Effectiveness launches CoverageFinder™: Hotels are experiencing a “coverage crisis” - they cannot find the labor to address the needs of the hotel, the guests, or the team. CoverageFinder makes it easy to identify available labor from within the cross-trained hotel team, the portfolio’s “sister” hotels, and contract staffing firms. Turnover is a massive problem. The Risk Retention Dashboard identifies which associates in each department are at risk of leaving and recommends specific actions that managers can take to prevent turnover and avoid the costly impact of a lost team member. HelloShift launches a housekeeping app. Housekeeping Management app is a quick and efficient way to see at a glance the status of all of the housekeeping tasks at your hotel or property. In one view, know which rooms have been assigned and prioritized, and which rooms still need to be assigned. The quick and simple drag and drop functionality and the ability to bulk reassign rooms make housekeeping management problems a thing of the past!   Harri launches Carri Chat & Apply.  Carri is an AI-powered chatbot built to assist hiring managers in screening, accessing, and coordinating interviews with viable candidates. Carri transforms traditional job applications into meaningful conversations to engage candidates and improve talent acquisition efforts. eTip launches digital tipping product.  eTip helps hotels to better attract, retain, and motivate staff with an app-less tipping and review platform. With eTip, staff receive an increase in compensation and a boost in morale, guests enjoy better service, and managers can act on guest feedback in real time. Beekeeper launches housekeeping app.  Beekeeper Work is an intuitive app that will transform how your team tends to daily Housekeeping operations. Team members on their feet can get things done with a simple tap of their finger. No training. No I.T. set up. No corporate approvals. Just easy technology rolled out in days. And it’s available in every language too so no one gets left behind.   Trend #2: The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover While the pandemic will certainly not be looked back upon fondly, some good undoubtedly has come of it.  While there are so many areas that human interaction can add value in the guest experience, there are also so many areas that manual processes, wait times and antiquated systems have plagued the guest experience for decades and the pandemic gave the industry the nudge that it so desperately needed.  Whether that's digitizing compendiums to reduce paper waste and create interactive experiences that generate revenue, ridiculously seamless contactless grab and go stations to meet guest needs in real time or in-stay sentiment analysis to identify and recover from service glitches on the spot--vendors continue to rollout new features and tools to help you leverage technology to become one of your hotel's greatest assets when it comes to delivering a unique and differentiated guest experience. Whistle Digital Guest Book.  Whistle introduces a configurable digital guest compendium for a completely contactless experience. Hotels can now offer a rich portal and directory of information, which guests can access through messaging. Impulsify Contactless grab and go.  Impulsify announces the arrival of their completely contactless grab-and-go kiosk for lobby retail transactions. Their ShopPoP kiosk now provides a QR code to give users the option of going "Touchless" when purchasing items at their increasingly popular self-service pay stations used by the hospitality and multifamily industries. Flexkeeping Automated Daily Hotel Report.  The Automated Daily Hotel Report by Flexkeeping contains all critical information hoteliers need to know to ensure that their team is meeting their set standards. The report provides data on every department - from room service, housekeeping, and maintenance performance all the way over to guest complaints and service slips. EasyWay launches Guest Sentiment Powered by OpenAI.  EasyWay AI is now able to automatically detect guest sentiment and act accordingly. For example, if EasyWay AI identifies that a guest is happy and is a potential brand ambassador, it will automatically send them a survey on TripAdvisor, and ask them to share their amazing experiences on social media. Hub OS launched 'DND' and 'Make up Room' statuses for Guest Touch.  The system now also allows hotel guests to set their rooms into 'Do not disturb' or 'Make up room' statuses on their own mobile device by scanning a QR Code in their room.  This provides added convenience for guests while helping hotels more efficiently allocate staffing resources. GoMoment launches Ivy Offer.  Ivy Offer lets hoteliers extend unbeatable offers such as extended stay, late checkouts, and food & beverage offers to their guests via text messages. These offers are conversational, personalized, targetted and appropriately timed (when guests tell us they are enjoying their stay, we offer them the chance to stay an extra night at a 20% discount), resulting in repeat, incremental profit. Guests read 98% of Ivy Offer messages within 3 minutes (based on client data). Niio and Samsung debut digital art stream for public spaces. Samsung and Niio art are partnering to bring easy access to digital art on-demand to Samsung Profesional Displays to transform any screen into an engaging digital art canvas. With access to thousands of digital artworks from the world’s best artists, Samsung clients can seamlessly display individual works of their choosing or play art streams curated by mood and style, 24x7 to one or multiple sites. Turnkey solution without requiring additional hardware or rights management. Bookingwhizz Automated Guest Journey with Whatsapp. The CRM module connects directly with the PMS and/or channel manager, automates guest notifications and promotions from predesigned campaigns. The hotel or group can schedule these notifications based on their business needs. SensorFlow launches SmartREM (Smart Room Energy Management Solution).  When guests leave the room empty with the HVAC running, SensorFlow's occupancy sensors and smart thermostats communicate this data to the gateway. The gateway then uses AI to react to the real-time occupancy data and automatically switches off the HVAC or adjusts it to a more energy-efficient setting to save energy, without needing any manual intervention from hotel staff. If guests leave the room with the HVAC running and the pool/balcony doors or windows are open, the HVAC is then automatically adjusted to ensure proper ventilation and prevent condensation issues while saving energy. When SensorFlow's sensors detect that guests have returned, our gateway then automatically resets the HVAC to the guests' previous settings. VenueLytics launches 24/7 AI Smart Concierge.  VenueLytics provides industries first fully integrated 24/7 AI Smart Concierge to automate contactless guest engagement, housekeeping, maintenance and other guest requests across WiFi, WhatsApp, SMS, WebBot and Facebook Messengers. Hotelinking launches WiFiBot.  Hotelinking developed a system called WiFiBot that automatically solves the Internet connection problems using IoT (Internet Of Things) technology and without the need for staff or a technician to intervene.  This solution proactively monitors any device connected to the network regardless of the vendor to detect performance issues, and continuously evaluates components to maintain and optimise their availability to avoid downtime or network failures. Moreover, it analyses all relevant information related to the use of WiFi by guests and its proper functioning and performance.   Trend #3: Mobile check-in is the new black If you are an HTR regular then you probably know what we think about hotel brands building their own tech, but to give some credit where credit is due back in 2015 Starwood identified the potential of mobile checkin and invested heavily in it because they saw what was coming.  If we can checkin for a flight on our phone, why can't we checkin for our hotel rooms? The reality is that mobile check-in is another area that has boomed during the pandemic with contactless everything as the new normal.  As hardware comes down in cost and mobile checkin goes mainstream, vendors are sprouting up left, right and center creating new opportunities for hoteliers to offer mobile checkin solutions empowering saavy hoteliers to be more prepared for guest arrival, reduce front desk wait times, go contactless and even get some new checkin tricks up their sleeves with digital signatures, payment authorizations, upsells and more. Maestro launches mobile check-in.  Allows Maestro customers to enable guests to check-in on the fly, on their own personal mobile device, with no 3rd party app download required, creating a self-serve environment from their own device. GTRIIP Launches Selfie Check-in.  GTRIIP processes hotel check-ins using our OCR engine to read international passports and local photo IDs. We use our face verification engine powered by computer vision to match the face (with a selfie) against the photo ID. This check-in process can be completed on the web. Onres launches mobile check-in.  Enables Onres customers to increase incremental revenue by up to 30% with Contactless [Early] Check-in and Late Check-out, Upgrade your Room, and Add Add-ons. RoomKey PMS launches mobile check-in. 100% digital paperwork built into the RoomKey PMS from mobile check-in through check-out.  Automated payment and room release to better inventory management CODE2ORDER launches COVID-19 Vaccination Pass & Test-Certificate.  Hotel guests can upload their vaccination pass or test certificate during the online check-in at hotels or during their stay at the hotel (required for hotel stays in Germany). The upload can be easily done by using their own Smartphone without further app downloads. Hotels can check the uploads in the CODE2ORDER Backend.   Trend #4: Guest data management is in the spotlight Whether you look at Tiktok in social, Visa in payments or Netflix in entertainment--its clear that companies who have harnessed the power of unique customer data have realized massive profits.  The strange thing is that the hotel industry sits on a treasure trove of travel spend and guest preference data yet most hotels have still only scratched the suface of what they can do with this data because ultimately you need the right tools, structure and processes to actually act on it.  The good news is that if anybody knows just how valuable and powerful data can be its tech companies, and they're gearing up to help you harness one of your company's most valuable assets.  Hapi launches Hapi Connect for Salesforce.  Hapi Connect integrates hotel companies' data into Salesforce Cloud environments in real-time, helping hoteliers to innovate using the world’s leading CRM. Hapi Connect for Salesforce allows companies to centralize data and tailor each step of the guest journey, driving loyalty and increasing conversion. Oracle Hospitality Integrations Platform.  The Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform (OHIP) offers hotel operators and integrators unprecedented access to all of the capabilities that OPERA Cloud has to offer. By making available over 3 thousand REST APIs and a full self-service experience end to end, operators and integrators can now design, build and release their integrations in matters of days rather than weeks or months thus accelerating time to market and reducing costs. Cendyn adds DIY content management to eLoyalty. Cendyn’s eLoyalty now puts customers in the driver’s seat to seamlessly manage and control the content that’s served to their members with a full-service loyalty solution for any type of hotel or hotel brand.  Prior to this update, eLoyalty had static workflows for serving content to loyalty members but now hoteliers can log into a CMS to create different pathways and serve different content journeys or offers based on characteristics of various segments within the loyalty program. Bookboost launches CRM.  Guest messaging platform Bookboost also extended it's product to offer guest segmentation and email marketing. Manage your first-party customer data to track interactions to create personalised guest messages. Utilise a single system to manage guest engagement and build strong relationships. Clairvoyix Launches Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud.  The Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud brings fully integrated transient sales and marketing automation to Oracle Hospitality customers. Utilzing the Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform, Opera in the Cloud customers can immediately start direct marketing to valuable past guests as past guest data is automatically transferred to the Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution. Guestjoy launches repeat customers.  Guestjoy launched a hotel CRM system for marketing managers in smaller hotels that helps them to build a customer database who is interested in getting special campaigns and offers. The tools they are using only allow them to set up a newsletter without knowing the background of a customer. Duve Guest Segments. Duve's Guest Segments allow hoteliers to send different messages to different guests, based on their profile and data you’ve collected from them. This includes reservation details, personal information, and more.  With Guest Segments, hotels can use both pre-scheduled or instant messaging to create a message to specific guests and provide an improved guest experience. Datavision DVGuest Analytics.  Datavision is adding powerful guest analytics features to our comprehensive business intelligence platform. Guest data is extracted and combined from a single source (PMS) or a variety of additional sources (Spa, Golf, Dining, CRM, etc.) supporting a 360-degree views of guest value, spend patterns and stay behavior. LaaSie launches Helix. Laasie has extended its core Reward Marketplace technology beyond the hotel website and booking engine, to bring personalized rewards to email campaigns. Each recipient of the campaign receives a uniquely personalized reward offer that resonates with his/her interests, demographics, and purchase behavior. iReckonU launches IKnowU Customer Data Platform. The IKnowU Customer Data Platform emerges as Ireckonu’s latest way to leverage its proven CORE Middleware. Synchronizing with your various PMS, CRS and other service delivery systems, IKnowU will become your system of record for clean, consolidated guest profiles. IKnowU’s powerful features include match & merge, identity and privacy management, subscription enrollment, communication control, behavioral and event data, and AI-assisted segmentation. It can also bring in third-party data. Simplotel Guest Connect.  Simplotel Guest Connect helps hotels convert their website content (promotions, and offers) into an email template with a single-click. Also, with a property management system integration, hotels can send mails and upsells to guests who book through any channel.   Trend #5: Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency The term commercial refers to the concept that while historically there have been silod departments within hotel companies like revenue management or marketing, these walls are quickly being broken down as departments become more deeply entertwined.  The catalyst for this evolution in decades old operating model has undoubtedly been technology and the transparency, access to information and interconnectedness that it has unlocked.  This is not the first time breaking down departmental silos to emphasize a more hollistic commercial strategy has been a key theme of one of HTR's innovation recaps and it certainly won't be the last.  Impala Contracting.  Say hello to fast and easy hotel direct contracting. Whether it’s signing new deals or managing existing ones, Contracting by Impala enables direct contracts between hotels and tour operators, agencies or corporate travel platforms. We take away the costly integrations and lengthy negotiation cycles to negotiate deals in days, not months. List your hotel for free IDeaS Profit Optimization.  Profit Optimization for IDeaS G3 RMS considers any combination of servicing costs, ancillary revenue and associated margins, and acquisition or channel costs. This approach enables hotels, resorts, casinos, and more to get the most profitable guests into their property, while maximizing other inventory beyond the guest room, such as restaurants, bars, retail, and activities. HotelIQ Decision Cloud.  With the new HotelIQ Decision Cloud, hoteliers can organize data, analyze it, plan next steps, and collaborate with their team and across their organization. In doing so, we aim to give hoteliers the lenses they need to pull insights from complex data sets and make more intelligent decisions. RateGain launches Demand.ai. RateGain launched an AI powered demand forecasting tool, that helps hoteliers and other travel companies track hyper-local demand and the underlying factors impacting demand – thereby helping them optimize their commercial strategy. Event Temple Launches Chain Management Dashboard.  Event Temple’s Chain Management Dashboard is an above property sales enablement tool for chains and multi-property management groups. Organizations now have a hub to view bookings, leads, accounts, contacts, reports, and manage sales across multiple properties. Pace launches Restrictions Management. Take control of your business mix. Use restrictions to control your business mix. Pace will suggest when to close out corporate rates and maximise revenue from your transient business. Avvio launches allora ai Hotel Booking Retention Engine.  Avvio developed a Hotel Booking Retention Engine that sits within the allora.ai booking engine to counteract the rise in hotel room cancellations. They did this by identifying at risk bookings, and alerting hoteliers in an actionable format, so that measures can be taken to protect bookings.  allora.ai’s Hotel Booking Retention Engine uses machine learning and data science to assess cancelation risk for every individual booking on the books. MeetingPackage launches group pricing module.  MeetingPackage offers venues to sell in a transactional way via their own channels and through distribution. Venues are able to manage pricing of Meetings & Events services flexibly from one centralised place to all distribution channels. For example, minimum spend requirement, meeting package price per delegate or meeting room price per hour, half-day, full-day. Including seasonal prices and corporate negotiated rates. ProfitSword enhanced currency conversion functionality.  ProfitSword has updated the application to support viewing reports in any currency desired. As part of this update, we allow multiple exchange rates to be defined for any currency pair, depending on your reporting needs. The firm added flexibility to reports allowing a user to choose an exchange rate based on the data being reported eg; balance sheet data converted with a month end exchange rate, accounting data with month average, and budget with an annual exchange rate all in the same report. InnRoad launches new Pace and Pickup reports.  innRoad's new Pace & Pick Up Reports are designed to give users easy access to their property's performance with the click of a button. Users can compare their performance over time and see if they are above or below on their occupancy, revenue, and rooms sold. Avalon Analytics launched automated PowerPoint presentations. One of the pain points of a revenue manager is the time spent preparing for weekly and monthly meetings. This remains true at hotel-level and above-property level, where you may need to prepare a market performance review for senior executives, ranging from VPs Operations to Owners. Generate 20+ PowerPoint slides for your weekly revenue meetings and month-end owner meetings within minutes. Avalon allows you to load entire presentations that are always up-to-date and ready to be delivered to your inbox.     D-EDGE Launches MediaGenius. D-EDGE provides hoteliers with an all-in-one platform to manage and monitor digital media campaigns: search, metasearch, display, and social media. With MediaGenius, hoteliers can easily follow the evolution of income and bookings generated via AdWords, analyze their campaigns’ performance, and fine-tune their strategy. The Hotels Network Launches Bench Direct. BenchDirect by The Hotels Network is an interactive analytics platform for hotels to benchmark their direct channel performance compared to the market and competition. The tool provides hotels with competitive insights across more than 30 key metrics specifically related to direct bookings. VoucherCart launches enterprise. VoucherCart Enterprise is a SaaS software product used by international and national hospitality operators with responsibility for marketing, sales, and revenue across multiple business units/member organisations. It enables them to promote and sell vouchers, gift cards, memberships, and tickets (pre-paid instant delivery) associated with their products and services and manage these centrally across all member organisations allowing cross-organisational redeem and usage, while also supporting voucher management and sale at member organisation level. Hotel Res Bot Launches AI Channel Manager. Many distribution partners such as Secret Escapes don't have interfaces to transfer bookings automatically, which means they simply send an email and reservation staff must manually enter these bookings into the PMS. The HERA AI Channel Manager reads those incoming emails and automatically pushes them to your PMS directly or via your CRS or traditional Channel Manager. Trend #6: Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers If you follow the tech world, you know that payments are big money.  You don't have to look far to see a massive head turning round like Stripe's $600M Series H (who even knew series H was a thing...), Affirm's market debut 100% pop or Plaid's (almost) $5B+ merger with Visa that was later blocked by regulators.  Other than being the lifeblood of every business on the planet, payments infrastructure is so immensely valuable because its extremely challenging to develop and maintain compliance.  While there are tons of payments solutions out there, there are few that have truly built out domain specific offerings specifically for the hotel industry to meet its unique challenges (and opportunities) and hotel tech companies are spotting the opportunity. Cloudbeds Payments. Hotel payment processing has been complicated for too long. Cloudbeds Payments provides easy, transparent and contactless payment processing that is fully integrated into the Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform, saving your property time and money. Bbot Tab Sync. Keep guests happy and servers relaxed with Bbot Tab Sync, a seamless addition to the Bbot Order + Pay solution. Plus, activating Tab Sync for in-venue and in-room dining guests gets you exclusive access to our BOGO deal on handheld devices! Adyen partners with Shiji to simplify hospitality payments.  This new integration simplifies the payment process for hospitality businesses by removing the need for a list of platforms and suppliers which usually includes separate processes for property management systems, food and beverage point of sale, and guest experience platforms not to mention the different payments service providers for each. SmartHOTEL launches SmartCONNECT for Payment. SmartCONNECT for Payment ensures that hotel guests’ payments can be made quickly, securely, and hospitably. With the click of a button, payments for online and offline bookings are automatically billed by the payment service provider of choice and processed directly on the guest folio of the hotel’s Property Management System (PMS). dailypoint™ Launches Payment Link. The dailypoint™ Payment link is part of the Booking Manager. It allows hoteliers to automate payments and process them securely according to PCI and PSD2 regulations. Implementing the payment link relieves the reservations department and minimizes the risk of fraud since no more credit card data is being processed directly or stored at the hotel. RoomOrders Launches Digital Tourist Hubs.  The RoomOrders digital tourist hub is an ordering and payment network of hospitality providers (hotels and resorts connected to surrounding vendors in a revenue-sharing model) to protect from accommodation giants like Booking dot com and AirBnB and restaurants from delivery giants like UberEats and GrubHub as well as excursion and tours agencies like Expedia and TripAdvisor.

Cover image

The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2022)

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Did you know the average small business uses 40 different software applications, and the average hotel uses around 20? In an ideal world, every system in your hotel’s tech stack would help you automate tasks, reduce costs, grow revenue, and deliver a five-star guest experience. But we understand that getting up-to-date on the myriad of technology solutions available to hotels can be daunting! Where do you even start? In this article, we’ll introduce you to each piece of the hotel technology landscape, from revenue management to reputation management and everything in between. Drawing on insights from over 10,000 hotel software reviews written by hoteliers across the globe, this article will also highlight some top software vendors in each category. For more detailed testimonials and additional software choices, you’ll want to click over to the full list of vendors. Let’s dive in!     9 Hotel Operations Software Tools that Drive Efficiency This category of software includes the most essential technology for hotel operations: checking guests in, reconciling accounts, handling payroll, and getting feedback from guests. Your hotel’s size and complexity will determine which systems you need; small, limited-service hotels might be fine with a PMS and a payment processor, but a large resort could benefit from each category of software. 1. Property management systems (PMS): The PMS is the central hub for hotel operations. In this system, staff can check guests in and out, create and manage reservations, pull financial reports, manage guest profiles, and more. According to user reviews and analysis of system functionality, the top PMSs are Cloudbeds, Clock, and HotelTime, though there are over a hundred more great systems on the market. 2. Staff collaboration tools: Hotel staff are scattered across different floors, buildings, and shifts, so a communication platform is necessary to keep everyone on the same page. Systems like hotelkit, Monscierge, and ALICE can replace analog methods like walkie-talkies and logbooks, plus they can track tasks, reduce manual errors, and increase efficiency. 3. Housekeeping and engineering software: These tools digitize the operations of your housekeeping and maintenance departments, with the ability to automate task assignment, monitor real-time status of rooms or issues, and track task completion. Top software in this category includes hotelkit, Flexkeeping, and ALICE. 4. Guest feedback and surveys: Do away with the paper comment cards and give guests a digital platform to voice their feedback, such as GuestRevu, TrustYou, or Revinate. Not only are these tech solutions easy for guests to use, but they also allow hoteliers to customize, automate, and analyze guest comments and complaints. 5. Accounting and reporting: If your hotel accepts payments from guests and issues payments to employees and vendors, then you’ll benefit from an accounting and reporting system like myDigitalOffice, M3, or Omniboost. A modern accounting system reveals opportunities to reduce costs and maximize revenue, plus makes your accounting team more efficient with automated reports and integrations with other on-site software. 6. Payments Processing: Most guests prefer to pay for their reservations with credit cards, but a payment processing system is necessary to get the funds from the guest’s card into your hotel’s bank account. Payment processors like Profitroom, Mews Payments, and Adyen charge a small processing fee, but they make getting paid as seamless as possible. 7. Labor management: Hotels have dozens, if not hundreds, of employees, so scheduling is no easy task. Software such as Hotel Effectiveness’ PerfectLabor™, M3, and UniFocus include forecasting, insight into labor costs, and integrations with payroll and timekeeping systems.  8. Meetings and events: Whether your hotel has one private dining room or several floors of ballrooms and breakout spaces, meetings and events software can support every step of the sales and planning process - and the event itself. Highly rated meetings and events software includes Proposales, Event Temple, and Blockbuster by Duetto. 9. F&B and point-of-sale systems: The pandemic accelerated demand for features like contactless menus and online ordering, so there has been a huge wave of innovation in the F&B software space. Vendors like RoomOrders, Bbot, and Oracle’s MICROS can help restaurants modernize their operations, cut costs, reduce reliance on delivery platforms, and strengthen relationships with customers.   7 Revenue Management Tech Systems that Improve Yield Strategy The goal of revenue management is to sell the right room to the right guest at the right price, and revenue managers leverage a variety of software to achieve their RevPAR goals. 1. Revenue management systems (RMS): The secret weapon of any revenue manager is the RMS; this system analyzes historical data, market supply and demand, and forecasts to recommend the rates most likely to maximize revenue and profitability. You might also hear revenue management software like IDeaS, Duetto’s Gamechanger, or Atomize referred to as “yield management systems” or “pricing engines.” 2. Channel managers: A channel manager is the link between a hotel’s property management system and distribution channels like Booking.com, Expedia, and the GDS. Channel managers such as SiteMinder, Cloudbeds’ myallocator, and D-EDGE’s Smart Channel Manager allow hoteliers to make changes in one system, their PMS, rather than managing rates on each channel individually. 3. Central reservation systems (CRS): Larger hotels or hotels that are part of a chain or group might use a CRS to centralize all bookings, whether they’re made by call center staff, the hotel’s own website, or a third-party channel. The CRS will then send reservations to the PMS for room assignments. Popular CRSs include Pegasus, Windsurfer, and GuestCentric CRS. 4. Rate shopping and market intelligence: A key to revenue management success is selling competitive rates, but how do you know what your competitors are selling? Rate shopping tools, like OTA Insight, Siteminder Insights, and D-EDGE RateScreener, do the heavy lifting for you and present competitor rates and market forecasts in user-friendly dashboards and reports. 5. Parity management: OTAs ask hotels to provide rate parity, meaning selling the same rate across all channels, and, as a hotelier, you don’t want OTAs to sell cheaper rates than your hotel’s website. Parity management tools, like OTA Insight, FornovaDI, and Triptease give hoteliers access to dashboards that monitor rates across all channels in real-time. 6. Business intelligence: Revenue managers love data, but sometimes all that data is too much for Excel to handle. Business intelligence tools offer better solutions for slicing, dicing, and visualising data through dashboards and reports suitable for studying historical performance or predicting the future. Top BI applications include OTA Insight, Scoreboard by Duetto, and ProfitSage. 7. Upselling Software: Driving incremental revenue per guest is possible with upselling tools that automate the entire process - and use profile data and historical trends to serve the most compelling, personalized offers to each guest, like room upgrades or F&B items. Tools like Oaky, EasyWay Smart Upselling, and GuestJoy also enable hoteliers to start the upselling process before the guest arrives on property.   9 Guest Experience Platforms to Improve Satisfaction Scores How do you create a five-star guest experience in the digital age? A plethora of systems exist to delight guests, from contactless check-in solutions to modern in-room entertainment. 1. Guest messaging: Messaging platforms allow hotels to communicate with guests via their preferred platform: text messaging, email, or even apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Top-rated systems like Monscierge, Whistle, and EasyWay support automated messaging and one central dashboard where staff can respond. 2. Keyless entry: Keyless entry software enables a guest to unlock their room or other secure areas like gyms or pools with a wave of their smartphone. Systems like Mobile Access by ASSA ABLOY, FLEXIPASS, and Openkey.co offer integrations with PMSs for a seamless arrival experience. 3. Guest apps: Digitize your in-room directory with a hotel app like ALICE, INTELITY, or Duve. These downloadable apps put everything guests need to know at their fingertips, from contact info and directions to room service menus and local recommendations.  4. Contactless check-in: In the wake of the pandemic, guests prefer a contactless arrival process, and software like EasyWay, Canary, and Duve make it easy for hotels to pivot to a fully digital check-in. Functionality includes ID scanning, digital registration cards, upselling, payment processing, and arrival time coordination. 5. In-room tablets: Just like the smartphone replaced our digital cameras and rolodexes, an in-room tablet can replace your rooms’ telephones, directories, room service menus, TV remotes, thermostats, and more. Tablet providers like SuitePad, Crave Interactive, and INTELITY are even proven to increase guest satisfaction and revenue. 6. Energy management: These systems have two goals: decrease your hotel’s energy costs and reduce your hotel’s environmental impact. Vendors like Verdant Energy Management Solutions, Telkonet, and EcoStruxure are designed with hotels in mind and seek to not only decrease costs, but also enhance the guest experience. 7. Guest room entertainment: Today’s guests want more than local cable channels on their guestroom TVs; systems like Monscierge ZAFIRO IPTV, and Sonifi provide interactive content and entertainment for all types of hotels, plus additional marketing and engagement opportunities you couldn’t get with traditional TV. 8. Mobile ordering/F&B: Bbot, RoomOrders, SABA F&B Ordering, and other systems provide an essential piece of technology for hotels and restaurants: mobile ordering. With this software, guests and customers can access menus, place orders, and pay from their smartphones, and F&B outlets can better manage order fulfillment and deliver an end-to-end contactless experience. 9. Hotel Wi-Fi: What was once a premium add-on is now an essential amenity at hotels, especially with a growing segment of travelers working remotely. To offer reliable high-speed internet access, hotels can partner with vendors like Cisco (Meraki), Percipia, or GuestTek that offer implementation services and ongoing support.   9 Marketing Tools to Lower Acquisition Costs and Drive Direct Bookings Of course, you don’t need any of the software listed above if nobody knows about your hotel! Marketing software allows you to tap into new audiences of guests and build relationships with your existing guest base. 1. Booking engines: For hoteliers seeking to increase direct business, a booking engine is essential. This software allows guests to book reservations on your hotel’s website by displaying rates and availability from your PMS, then integrating reservations into the PMS. Cloudbeds, Bookassist, and SiteMinder offer some of the best booking engines.  2. Reputation management: A reputation management tool helps you request, track, analyze, and respond to guest reviews across sites like Tripadvisor and Google and your own surveys. Some of the industry leaders are TrustYou, GuestRevu, and Revinate, and they can even assist in increasing guest review scores by revealing insights about guest sentiment. 3. Website builders and content management systems (CMS): Outsourcing your website design isn’t necessary with a CMS; these tools allow you to build, edit, and organize website pages and content, and they support integrations with booking engines, payment processors, widgets and more. Smart CMS by Bookassist, Profitroom, and Net Affinity are some of the top website builders. 4. Direct booking tools: If you want to increase direct bookings, then an app like Triptease, Hotelchamp, or TrustYou can boost the number of shoppers who complete bookings on your hotel’s website. These tools let you display personalized messages, snippets of guest reviews, price comparison widgets, and more - all of which give guests reasons to book direct instead of on an OTA. 5. Digital marketing agencies: Don’t have the time or resources to handle digital marketing in-house? A digital marketing agency can lend their expertise to help your hotel succeed in search engine marketing, social media, content creation, and PR. Bookassist, Avvio, and Net Affinity are some of the leaders in this space. 6. Social media tools: Whether you’re trying to build a new audience or stay in touch with past guests, social media is an important component of your hotel’s marketing strategy. Social media vendors like BCV, Sprout Social, and Travel Media Group can help you achieve your reach and engagement goals. 7. Metasearch and ad tech: Metasearch channels, like Google, Kayak, and Tripadvisor, are powerful drivers of traffic to your hotel website - if you leverage them effectively. These sites require special connectivity and a bidding strategy, and tools like Bookassist, Avvio, and Koddi will help you manage budgets, track attribution, and understand market dynamics. 8. Website live chat/chatbots: Potential guests shopping on your website want answers now - without needing to pick up the phone. A chatbot, like one from Asksuite, Quicktext, or Whistle, use artificial intelligence to answer guest questions quickly and accurately, plus capture leads and increase conversion on your website. 9. Hotel CRM: Your database of guest email addresses is a gold mine - if you can leverage it strategically. A CRM system, such as Revinate, Profitroom, and dailypoint 360, allows you to capture email addresses on your website, send automated messages throughout the guest’s journey, create segments of profiles with specific characteristics, and analyze open rates, click-through rates, and conversion.   F&B and MICE The food and beverage and meetings and events components of the hotel industry have their own technology solutions too. Whether you’re trying to streamline your room service offerings or support citywide conferences in a maze of meeting spaces, you can find software to help you execute any type of service or event. 1. Restaurant management: In order to run a restaurant smoothly, restaurateurs leverage point-of-sale software to manage stock in real-time, handle transactions, reserve tables, run reports, and more. Popular restaurant management software includes Vento ePOS, Oracle MICROS, and Lightspeed POS. 2. Mobile ordering and room service: Contactless service is the latest trend in F&B, but it seems likely to become the norm. Mobile ordering systems, such as Bbot, RoomOrders, and SABA F&B Ordering, allow restaurants to upload digital menus, accept online orders, and receive contactless payments, and customers can feel confident in more efficient service and accurate orders and bills. 3. Meetings and events intelligence: This category of software aims to help hoteliers maximize their meetings and events business by understanding market dynamics, uncovering insights about attendees, and optimizing pricing and space usage. Top meetings and events intelligence tools include Blockbuster by Duetto, IDeaS (SmartSpace), and Get Into More. 4. Group sourcing and RFP tools: Without software to assist, the RFP process is tedious. RFP software, such as Proposales, MeetingPackage, and Venuesuite, moves this process online and helps you to automate it, making all the back-and-forth more efficient and helping sales teams reach their goals. 5. Event management: Software doesn’t just help your sales team seal the deal, but also to plan and execute the event itself. Event Temple, Tripleseat, EVENTMACHINE, and others provide functionality to send proposals, get e-signatures, manage traces, communicate with clients, and create and edit BEOs and agendas.   Looking for more resources on hotel industry software? Download the free 2021 HotelTechIndex Market Leaders Report.