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

by
Hotel Tech Report
10 hours 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 barcodes for Guest Touch.  Barcodes allow guests to place the most high frequency requests by scanning a barcode in room.  Use cases include towels, pillows, or informing the hotel that A/C isn't working.  The system also allows hotel guests to set their rooms into 'Do not disturb' or 'Make up room' statuses using the same process.  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.

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8 Ways a Hotel PMS Improves Operations and the Guest Experience

by
Jan Hejny
1 month ago

Shortly after COVID restrictions were eased, I went on a short golfing trip to Austria. I booked a well-known boutique hotel with a SPA and a fantastic restaurant surrounded by vineyards. I found out later that many other people had the same idea, as the hotel was fully booked for the weekend. Well, good for them, I thought. Anyway, when I arrived, it was raining, and I didn't bring my umbrella with me. So I came into the hotel soaked, hungry, and in desperate need of a shower. Unfortunately, out of the two check-in desks available, only one was operating, and the poor guy was trying hard to check in all the arriving guests as quickly as possible, while doing his best to have a cordial chat with them. Make no mistake: I'm sure it wasn't his fault that we had to wait for five minutes before he finished with the previous guest. When finally my turn came, the receptionist spent a tremendous amount of time staring down at his computer. I tried to ask him a few PMS-related questions, to understand why it was taking so long (of course, he didn't have any idea I knew a thing or two about PMSs), but I started to feel bad for the people waiting behind me, so I stopped any efforts to communicate with him, and I wasn't even told where and until when I could get my breakfast or where the SPA was. And that was the moment I realized, at least on a personal level, that there's something intrinsically wrong with hotel tech today.   When Technology Breaks Down Now, I am sure that, if you’re a frequent traveler like me, you have similar horror stories. According to a Qualtrics survey, 57% of poor hotel experiences are down to unfriendly staff. Problem is that, very often, hotel staff is unfriendly because they’re overworked, especially post-COVID, when properties are operating with skeleton staff. Here’s where technology should help, but the Austrian one is the perfect example of a case where it didn’t, and this happens way more than we, in the industry, like to admit. Moreover, tech should not only improve operations, but guest experience as well. Bad news is that, often, it fails in both fields. When your tech stack increases workload and waiting time at the reception (or in any other department, for that matter), you know you’ve got a problem. Technology is fallible, whatever you may think, and choosing the wrong software can heavily penalize your operation. A couple of years ago, a curious news story was published: the Henn-na hotel in Japan, known mainly because a good part of its employees are actual robots, had to "fire" 243 of them for doing "a bad job." One staff member, interviewed by The Mirror, stated: "It's easier now that we're not being frequently called by guests to help with problems with the robots." Well, this is an extreme example, but it’s not uncommon to see hotel staff having to find hacks and workarounds to make things work. If you’ve ever had a job in the hotel business, you know exactly what I am talking about.   The Role of the PMS in the Hotel Tech Stack Now, at the core of hotel operations, there’s always the PMS, so this is where the majority of problems start: bad integrations, lack of built-in features, etc. Choosing wisely is crucial, but not always easy, especially because hoteliers may be, paradoxically, unaware of the problems they need to solve. This is not due to the fact that hoteliers are bad entrepreneurs, quite the opposite! Problem is that being a hotelier means having to manage many operational aspects of the job, most of which are very complex and detailed. A General Manager, for instance, will obviously have to prioritize certain tasks, rather than spending hours to go deep and understand a certain technical problem. The thing with PMSs is that they’re the kind of software which is used by several different departments, so everyone has an opinion on it, yet a partial one. Sales & Marketing will likely never have to insert a group reservation, while the front office department won’t have to deal with MICE requests. In my experience, General Managers are the ones which can green light the implementation of a new software, coordinating, understanding and synchronising different departments’ needs, but chances are that their vision is limited, due to too many things on their minds, too. And we’re back to the hotel in Austria: somebody picks the wrong software, the system makes the life of all (or, at least, some) employees miserable, there’s less time to focus on the guests (which is even worse than the previous issue, while, of course, unhappy employees are unlikely to make guests happy), and… Well, you see where I am going with this, don’t you?   How PMSs Can Improve Operations and Guest Experience So, when picking a PMS, you should always be asking the one million dollar question: will this system make my life (and the life of my staff) easier so that they can make my guests happier? Knowing what to look for in a PMS can make a huge difference, so make sure that you understand what a property management system can (or can’t) do for you while trying to go into details during the process. Because if there’s anything we have learned over the past two decades, is that the devil is always hidden in details. Here are some of the areas where a good PMS can actually make a difference for both the hotel staff and guests: Reducing the workload during the check-in/out process. A publication by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research studied guests’ tolerance of delays during check-ins, and found that the “breaking point” for US guests is as short as five minutes. There’s an interesting discussion on Quora titled “What is the actual average length of time (in minutes) for hotel check-in and check-out?” Of course, the method is far from scientific, but it’s a fascinating read. According to the discussion, a best-case-scenario-check-in is at least 2-3 minutes. You know what that means? That if an American guest has two persons in front of him, he will likely leave a pesky review… Self check-in kiosks and apps can dramatically improve the check-in/out experience, yet most PMS do not support the technology; Remove friction during payments. It’s not uncommon to find hotels that still manage credit card payments manually. Usually, it goes like this: the back office department receives a booking, and they have to log in into the extranet, find the reservation, get the card, switch to another page for the CVC, get the physical terminal POS, type the total amount and the card details, wait for the transaction to go through. If this doesn’t look like a big deal for you, try to time your staff while they do it. I doubt it will take them less than five minutes per transaction. Now, let’s say you receive 25 reservations a day: that’s over two hours wasted just to charge credit cards. Not to mention what happens if the card does not work, you have to ask for a new one and start the process all over again. A PMS can solve the issue with payment automation proprietary features, or by integrating to third-party providers; Integrate invoicing systems. It may sound crazy in 2021, but I have seen too many hotels where the reception has to ask accountants to issue an invoice and, on the other side, too many accountants typing numbers manually from PMSs reports into their accounting systems… A simple integration will save hours of manpower every day; Connect your PMS to your SPA system. In most cases, if a hotel guest wants to book a treatment at the desk, the reception has to call the SPA, check availability and then book. Integrating the two systems will dramatically reduce workload, and guests will also be able to book and check availability directly online; Get smart in F&B. The adoption of QR codes and online ordering increased dramatically due to anti-COVID guidelines, and this is a prime example of a system that can dramatically reduce waiting times and improve guest experience. Customers are able to order (and pay) immediately on their phones. This reduces the waiting time (the waiter does not have to come and take your order or bring you the bill). Customers are in full control of the timing, and restaurants can allocate less staff to serve the same number of people, saving money. Moreover, thanks to Kitchen Display Systems (KDS), orders are not printed on paper but are shown digitally on a screen in the kitchen. KDS can also measure the average time needed to cook a meal, improving efficiency and customer satisfaction; Housekeeping digitalization. Another feature that COVID dramatically accelerated is the adoption of housekeeping apps, both built-in in the PMS or provided by third-party vendors. They reduce workload and make communication between departments easier. Hoteliers can also benchmark housekeeping staff timing to optimize operations and - particularly important for green hotels - drastically reduce the use of paper. According to a study, hotels use almost 2B A4 sheets per year in the United States only, meaning that 268,000 trees are chopped down annually only to fulfill the hotel industry's needs. It's the equivalent of 15 New York Central Park worth of trees cut every year! Automated emailing. Even though this is a feature we tend to associate with CRMs, some PMSs provide built-in functionality to communicate with guests pre/mid/post-stay, improving both the guest experience and increasing revenue coming from ancillary services proposed in the emails; Connect. Connect. Connect. It may sound crazy, but there are still a lot of hotels without a proper 2-way-integration between the PMS and the channel manager. It goes without saying that linking the two systems will dramatically reduce workload and bring human error down to virtually zero.   Understand the Tradeoffs of New Technology to Maximize Impact Paul Virilio once stated: “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution... Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.” This is true for hotel tech as well, that is why implementing technology just for the sake of it it’s never a good idea. Choosing any software, and PMSs, in particular, requires a complete understanding of the property’s current (and future) needs. The risk with picking the wrong system is to end up like the Austrian hotel I wrote about at the beginning of this piece. At HotelTime Solutions, we provide tailored solutions and follow our customers during all the phases of the implementation, making sure that they can focus on what they do best: taking care of their guests.  

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What You Can Do To Increase Holiday Occupancy At Your Hotel This Year

by
Stefano Mocella
1 month ago

You may be thinking it’s early to start talking about the holiday season, but as a hotelier, now is the best time to prepare for the Christmas season. Why? With so much competition for rooms and heightened expectations in guest experiences, you need to plan ahead if you want this to be a happy holiday season for your bottom line. Keep in mind many folks had travel plans last year that went by the wayside and are now looking to make up for a lost year. Early data from Travel & Leisure shows that December bookings jumped by 15% compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic levels) in July. Keep in mind, Christmas bookings typically peak in October and November. After missing out on 2020 travel, guests will want to ensure wherever they book their Christmas getaway will deliver an unforgettable experience. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to get guests through your doors without spending a fortune on decorating your property or getting too gimmicky. Here are some holiday hotel marketing ideas that can make this a year to remember for your property.   Leverage Email Marketing If you haven’t been using email marketing to its fullest potential, you’ve been missing out. It’s one of the best ways to get into the minds of potential guests (and stay there). Make this a priority for the holiday season and while you’re at it, chalk it down as a New Year's Resolution. If you’ve been collecting email addresses of past guests in a responsible manner, it’s time to get your Christmas offers out to them. You can get creative with your offers, from a special package or prepare a special holiday menu in your restaurant. Either way, it’s a good time to start engaging with potential guests and pique their interest.   Offer Prizes and Creative Giveaways People love the chance to win prizes, particularly on social media. It’s why we see so many polls and hashtag challenges or merely entering a contest by tagging friends. Contests are an effective way to get some user-generated content for your hotel’s marketing campaigns. Contests can be something as simple as asking people to send their best (or funniest) Christmas outfits or best home decoration and in return they can win a discounted stay at your hotel or perhaps win a free spa day with their stay. You’ll be surprised at how many people will jump at the chance to win; not to mention it’s a great way to boost engagement on your social media channels.   Show Your Holiday Spirit with Deals There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with this one. Everyone loves a good deal and sometimes simple works best. Guests will be looking to save a buck where they can, given how expensive the holiday season can be already. Reducing your standard room rate or offering a discount on a suite might just give you the edge in securing more bookings. Sharing such deals on social media will also get you plenty of attention if the deal is of significant value. Provided you have a powerful channel manager, you can ensure your holiday rates are distributed among your biggest booking channels. There’s nothing to lose in trying, particularly if your goal is full occupancy for the holidays.   Create a Landing Page on Your Website If you’ll be offering deals, then it’s vital to create a separate landing page on your website. This will give you an area on your site to market and focus your holiday bundles. If you bury your Christmas packages and offers within your existing room rates, it’s going to slip by a lot of eyes. If you have a dedicated festive area, you can have some fun with it by adding some cool design effects and throw in some holiday puns in your room description.   What Will Your F&B Program Look Like? If there’s one commonality for the holidays, it’s that everyone wants to let loose and enjoy some mouthwatering comfort food. Your hotel’s holiday offerings shouldn’t just be about decorating and offering special room rates. If you have an on-site restaurant and/or bar, putting together a special holiday menu will capture everyone’s Christmas spirit. There will be plenty who will jump at the chance of booking a Christmas meal or throwing a mini holiday party for their business. And once patrons book with you for a meal, those might just turn into room bookings if you mention the type of accommodations you offer.    Happy Bookings! The holiday season could be stressful for hoteliers, but this should also be your most exciting time of the year. With all-in-one PMS systems like roomMaster Anywhere, you can ensure that you have all the tools you need to maximize holiday bookings for 2021 and beyond. If you start planning now, it could be your most profitable period of the year.  

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month 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.

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Advanced Profile Synthesis: Your CRM’s Missing Ingredient

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

The hospitality industry is in the middle of a unique challenge when it comes to producing profitable bookings. The cost of acquiring hotel guests has increased dramatically over the past several years. (Display advertising rose by 19% from 2015-2019, for example.) While, at the same time, budgets have declined in the wake of the global pandemic. If hoteliers hope to begin increasing profitability over the coming seasons, it will be critical that they have a strategy in place to effectively maximize their earnings on each and every booking going forward. Thankfully, travel demand is resurfacing so there’s an opportunity to absorb revenue. But what’s the best way to approach it without securing more marketing dollars? The answer is to focus on your guest database where you can generate new direct bookings from previous guests and increase their spend on property and across your portfolio. Guest database marketing is the lowest cost and most profitable audience at a hotelier’s disposal. And mastering your strategy to leverage it should be at the very top of your list as you navigate profits today. At the heart of that strategy, you should prioritize personalization. Driving personalized messages to the right guests at the right time will have the biggest impact when it comes to producing returns on guest database marketing efforts. According to a study by Revinate, targeted, personalized campaigns sent to fewer than 5,000 recipients get opened 2x more than campaigns with broad messaging sent to 50,000 recipients. These segmented campaigns also generate 5x more conversions than unsegmented blasts. For segmentation and personalization to yield profitable results, hotel marketers must first tackle the issue of messy data – an issue that plagues every hotel. It’s important to have a tool that automatically cleanses your guest database with a high degree of accuracy so that you can focus on monetizing it rather than wasting precious resources sifting through and trying to reach faulty, incomplete data. To do this, you will need a partner like Revinate who will guide you through advancing your guest data into actionable information that you can easily monetize. Their Advanced Profile Synthesis –a sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning process that unifies fragmented guest data– gives you the most accurate single view of your guests so that you can use data from their full journey across your portfolio to deliver personalized strategic marketing.   Messy Data Has a High Opportunity Cost Impersonal email campaigns yield low conversion rates but the only way to personalize is to ensure your data is clean and complete. Incomplete data carries high opportunity costs such as missed revenue opportunities, decreased guest loyalty (lifetime value), ineffective marketing campaigns, and increased OTA commissions.  Let’s look at an example.  If you receive bookings and virtual payments through Expedia you know that some of these reservations show the Expedia headquarters as the guest’s billing address. This could lead you to see a misleading share of guests from Seattle, where the Expedia head office is located. Likely, those guests actually booked from locations across the country (or the world). And if you were to use this data to send a targeted email to Seattle-based guests that says “Escape the grey Seattle weather and come visit us for a long weekend!” your campaign is unlikely to generate strong results. Similarly, inaccurate guest profile data can throw off your personalized emails for birthdays, anniversaries, or loyalty-related offers. Nothing is more off-putting to a guest than receiving a “happy birthday” email nowhere close to their birthday, and a “we miss you” email that hits a guest’s inbox the day after they check out is probably not going to move the needle. These emails can come across as unprofessional and may cause your guests to unsubscribe altogether. Here’s where Revinate’s Advanced Profile Synthesis comes into play.   What is Revinate’s Advanced Profile Synthesis? Given how costly messy data can be, it’s important that you have a tool in place that automatically cleanses your database and provides you with the insights you need to monetize it. We mentioned that Revinate uses a sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning process, called Advanced Profile Synthesis, to do just that. But, what exactly is Advanced Profile Synthesis? Most hotel databases contain plenty of typos, duplicates, and incomplete information about their guests. If you have thousands of profiles in your database, it’s impossible to manually clean and maintain this information. Some software allows you to simply merge duplicate profiles or exclude incomplete records, but guest profiles are nuanced and sophisticated hotel marketers know they need more than this basic functionality. For example, the same guest could have two different email addresses (e.g. work and personal). Those two email addresses should not belong on two separate guest profiles. Revinate’s Advanced Profile Synthesis takes a more holistic approach to cleaning guest profile data and merging or removing duplicates. Using natural language processing and machine learning, the system sorts through guest profiles in a more human way. Rather than automatically categorizing two unique email addresses as two unique guests, Advanced Profile Synthesis considers numerous other fields in the profile. For example, if two guest profiles have the same name, address, and phone number, but different email addresses, Advanced Profile Synthesis will understand that these profiles represent the same guest and merge them. By contrast, most CRM systems would keep them separate, since it would require all information within the two profiles to be an exact match. The Advanced Profile Synthesis process occurs automatically and in the background, so you can focus on putting your up-to-date guest profile data into action rather than sifting through it.   How Does Revinate’s Advanced Profile Synthesis Work? What’s happening behind the scenes as Revinate’s Advanced Profile Synthesis scrubs your guest database? The software follows a three-step process: standardization, clustering, and learning. Data that gets ingested into your PMS is often logged in unique formats and includes typos. This makes it difficult to match data so, in order to standardize data, Revinate first puts all the information it ingests on an even playing field in terms of formatting. For example, guests can enter their phone numbers in a variety of formats. Some write 123-456-7890. Others write (123) 456-7890, or maybe even 123.456.7890. Revinate’s functionality automatically removes all punctuation from phone numbers to avoid miscategorization. The system will also standardize addresses to make 123 1st St. match 123 First Street, and it will remove placeholders like “n/a,” “null,” or “555-555-5555.” Finally, the standardization process ends by assigning “tags” to each field, like “phone number” and “email address,” so that it can compare fields in an apples-to-apples way. The next step is to cluster similar values that fall within the same tag. For example, profiles with names like “Catherine Smith,” “Cathy Smith,” and “C. Smith” would get grouped together. Then the system will analyze additional elements of those guest profiles to determine if they’re a match or if they are indeed unique guests. If “Catherine Smith” and “Cathy Smith” share the same street address and phone number, then the system understands that the two profiles are likely the same person. But if none of the profile data for “Cathy Smith” aligns with data for “C. Smith,” then the system will assume they’re different people. Revinate’s algorithm also incorporates known nicknames, so profiles with first names “Mike” and “Michael” will be grouped together, while “Ryan” and “Bryan” will not. In addition, Revinate weighs the popularity of names, so it will be more picky when considering grouping “Mike” profiles versus profiles with less common names. For example, if there are two guest profiles with the name “Eustace” in a database, the likelihood of that being the same person is much higher than “Mike” and “Michael” being the same person, given that the latter name is so common. The third element in Revinate’s process is that it’s technology is continually learning. The system constantly analyzes the profiles that it has matched successfully to find patterns or similarities in your unique database. By doing so, it becomes more accurate over time, which means that you’ll be able to target narrower segments of guests with more engaging and personalized offers.   The Importance of Creating Guest Segments with Clean Data  Clean data allows hotel marketers to get creative with campaigns and maximize conversions at the lowest possible cost by getting incredibly specific with targeting criteria. Let’s say you want to invite back families who visited your hotel over spring break in the last three years. With your cleansed database, you could easily create a segment of guests who traveled for leisure, booked a suite with twin beds, stayed for at least 5 nights during March and April from 2018-2021, and left a positive review post-check out. In this way, you can be confident your spring break offer will reach the right audience. On the other hand, perhaps you want to inspire past guests who originally visited your hotel for business to instead book a vacation with you once they’re ready to travel again. By targeting guests who booked as part of a conference or with a specific negotiated corporate rate, you will likely get better engagement than if you were to blast your entire database. Running Advanced Profile Synthesis also tends to yield a surprising result which is that you have a more accurate view of the average number of stays per guest. Having an accurate understanding of this data point is critical for targeting. It will help you understand who your true loyal guests are so that you can drive campaigns to them and also learn more about them so that you can target similar guests who have the potential to become loyal as well. Here’s why the average number of stays tends to increase: Once a database is cleansed, guest profiles that were previously counted as unique, but who were, in fact, the same person, will have been merged. Let’s say that the profiles of “Catherine Smith” and “Cathy Smith” each had two stays totaling 7 nights, and the profile of “C. Smith” had one stay totaling 5 nights. If Advanced Profile Synthesis was able to determine that those three unique profiles were the same person, your database would now consist of one Rich Guest Profile for “Catherine Smith” with her entire guest history. Her new, complete profile would show that she has stayed five times at your hotel for a total of 12 nights. If you’re building a personalized campaign using # of nights stayed as a variable, having an accurate view of this data is invaluable. Accurate guest profile data is key. Without the right data, you might have the wrong idea of who makes up your largest or most profitable segments.    Maximize Your Guest Database So how can you maximize the potential of your guest database? The first step is to clean your data and consolidate duplicate guest profiles. Then, you can begin to analyze your segments and tailor your marketing messages based on those segments that truly align with your hotel’s overall strategy. Regardless of which segments you target, these highly tailored campaigns will garner better engagement and generate more conversions than campaigns sent to a more generic audience. In fact, hotels that use Revinate’s advanced segmentation tool see a five-fold increase in booking rates, on average, compared to hotels that launch less specific campaigns. Employing sophisticated segmentation will not only increase direct bookings, but also decrease the amount of marketing budget spent on emails sent to invalid or duplicate email addresses. Furthermore, a tool like Revinate doesn’t charge extra to leverage advanced targeting, segmentation, or A/B testing. Nor does it charge for database size or email volume thresholds. So you are free to build, test and optimize without hurting your budget. Whether your goal is to decrease marketing costs, drive guest loyalty, or increase conversion of your campaigns, leveraging the power of a clean guest database thanks to Advanced Profile Synthesis will help you realize the full potential of one of your hotel’s most valuable assets: your guest database.   This content was created collaboratively by Revinate and Hotel Tech Report.  

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5 Tips for Hotels to Capitalize on Increasing Spikes in Travel Demand

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

The travel industry rebound is well underway but the recovery remains uneven and demand trends are rapidly evolving.  The guest acquisition strategies that succeeded prior to the pandemic are less likely to succeed in the new normal. In a recent global study conducted by Revinate, 68% of travelers said they would feel more comfortable returning to a hotel they’ve stayed at before. Many of the highest value guests in the world have already stayed at your hotel.  These repeat guests are cheaper to bring back to your property and tend to spend more than new visitors.  Revinate’s study also found that repeat guests spend 67% more during their stay than new guests. This attractive pool of potential customers is sitting in your guest database and we’ll walk through how to attract them. In this article, we’ll share five tips to help you capture your guests’ attention (and travel dollars).  We’ll cover how to ensure your past guests book with you and not another previously visited destination.  We’ll provide guidance on how to incentivize profitable direct bookings and maximize the revenue opportunity with every sale.   Use Segmentation to Attract High-Value Guests As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, hotels need to segment their guest database to identify high probability bookers based on local market conditions.  For example, where international travel restrictions remain in place - hotels need to focus on domestic and drive markets using personalized messaging and offers targeted to guest segments like families to sell more rooms. Creating smaller, focused segments and targeting with personalized and specific action-oriented messages yields materially higher returns. Revinate’s global survey found that segments of 10,000 contacts or less tend to generate 2x revenue compared to larger segments.  Small hyper-targeted segment campaigns are also much more cost-effective because they tend to result in lower unsubscribe rates.  Every contact in your database has the potential to yield revenue in the future, so unsubscribes present a very real hidden cost that many hotel marketers wrongfully overlook.  Additionally, every campaign takes time to create and execute so when those campaigns aren’t yielding results there is a significant opportunity cost.   Leverage Revenue Upsell Opportunities Post-Booking Another effective, revenue-generating marketing strategy is to offer upsells to guests who have already booked at your property but haven’t yet arrived.  Bringing back old guests is far cheaper than finding new ones, but upselling existing guests can yield even more profitable outcomes. According to the Revinate survey, the most popular upsells last year included pre-purchased food and beverages, early and late check-in and late check-out, and room upgrades. Additionally, hotels that have sophisticated segmentation strategies can get extremely creative with campaigns.  If your hotel is popular among families, you could promote a “movie night in” package to the portion of your database who have previously stayed with their kids. Similarly, if your hotel is cozy and romantic, you might want to offer a “date night” package that includes a bottle of champagne or a takeout dinner for two from your restaurant.  When formulating an upsell strategy you’ll want to create segmentation rules so that the right offers go to the right guests.   Communicate Health Measures in Booking and Pre-Arrival Campaigns It’s no secret that health and safety are top of mind for travelers in the rebound.  In fact, Revinate’s survey shows that safety, cleanliness, and pandemic risk-mitigating measures are top priorities for travelers - even topping price and location as decision-making factors for the first time ever.  Hotels looking to minimize cancellations are wise to create pre-arrival “clean theater” campaigns educating guests about health measures taken on property and in destination to boost confidence leading up to every trip.  Running campaigns that communicate health measures that your property has taken can also influence guests to book with your hotel in the first place.  During times of uncertainty, clear and transparent communication is the key to instilling confidence and driving bookings.   Avoid Generic One-Time Promotions It’s tempting to blast your database with generic offers to save time but these campaigns create database fatigue which results in poor campaign engagement and email unsubscribes. The best hotel marketers share relevant, timely, and personalized offers to targeted segments of their databases.  While it takes a bit more thought and planning to set up these campaigns, behavior-based automation with tools like Revinate means that you can “set it and forget it” for the most part. Automated campaigns can be triggered in real-time by actions that your guests take, they provide high lifetime value and generate strong engagement. Automated campaigns such as pre-arrivals, on-property welcome letters, win-back offers, and birthday promotions receive, on average, 270% higher open rates than unsegmented offers. This translates to more direct bookings, loyal guests, and upsell opportunities.   Grow and Maintain a Healthy Database While marketing creativity is vital, growing and maintaining a healthy guest database is the foundation of a profitable long-term guest acquisition strategy. Database health can be measured via growth rates, unsubscribe rates, and campaign engagement. Implement a data collection process when guests check in. This way you can gather accurate contact details from guests whose information may have been masked through OTA bookings. With this information, hoteliers can build strong relationships with guests through personalized communication, from pre-arrival to post-stay. Time and effort invested into expanding your hotel’s database pay off with extremely high returns on investment.  As the industry rebounds, focus on growing and maintaining your base of loyal, repeat guests. Create processes to collect, clean, maintain, and action on guest data - finding the right Hotel CRM is key. The good news is that many of these vital processes can be automated via technology partners like Revinate.   This content was created collaboratively by Revinate and Hotel Tech Report.

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How Are Hoteliers Adapting to Welcome Travelers Back in 2021?

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

We certainly don’t need to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the travel industry. But despite all the pandemic’s negative effects, this unusual year has inspired many hoteliers to take the leap into new technology that will enhance guest stays in 2021 and beyond. According to recent studies conducted by Amadeus, people are eager to travel again, with 75% of survey respondents stating they would travel within just three months of loosened restrictions. Although many of those travelers might feel nostalgic about the world “before,” the data shows that travelers expect technology to help reduce physical touchpoints, encourage social distancing, and more. In fact, 84% of respondents said hotel technology would actually make them feel more confident that they can stay safe and healthy on the road. In this article, we’ll explain five key areas where hoteliers can strategically implement technology to give guests a warm welcome to the “new normal.” By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of guest expectations and exciting innovations in the travel and tech space.   Staff Collaboration Tools Help Improve Team Efficiency at Lower Staffing Levels With 87% of travelers feeling skeptical that their peers are following health and safety guidelines, impeccable housekeeping and maintenance service is more important than ever. If guests think their fellow travelers didn’t wash their hands before pushing elevator buttons or opening doors, then your employees need to go above and beyond to keep your property clean. You’ll want to do whatever you can to avoid housekeeping mishaps that could break guest trust, and a key element of success is staying organized and avoiding lapses in communication between staff. Staff collaboration tools make teamwork a breeze - even with teams that work on different schedules or in different locations. Software like Amadeus HotSOS gives hotel managers and employees the power to log maintenance issues, centralize housekeeping requests, record guest preferences, and more. The app integrates seamlessly with Amadeus’ own PMS as well as 100+ other systems, so your tech stack can work harmoniously.  “We use Amadeus HotSoS for logging guests’ needs as well as general area maintenance, such as lighting fireplaces, old light bulbs, clogged sinks, broken tiles, missing paint. To be able to log and communicate with housekeeping, engineering and bell in this manner is excellent,” a Resort Activities Manager in Rancho Palos Verdes told Hotel Tech Report. Collaboration tools like HotSOS not only reduce communication lags and potential friction between departments, but they can enhance the guest experience by helping staff provide faster and more accurate service. In a post-COVID world, it’s even more crucial that guest expectations are met (if not exceeded) and that hoteliers can reduce costs wherever possible.   Use Customer Messaging to Communicate Compliance and Safety Local health restrictions are changing frequently, and today’s traveler needs to stay in the know - and they need to receive information from a trusted source, like from their hotel. Hoteliers are implementing customer messaging tools like Amadeus GMS to communicate rapidly changing regulations and standards with guests. Whether you need to alert guests about a new travel restriction or share the good news about reopening the spa, guest management technology can help you spread the word. 42% of respondents even say that technology that provides on-trip updates to local guidelines and outbreaks would make them more confident about traveling. If you’re considering adding a GMS to your hotel’s tech stack, you have no shortage of choices. Through customer messaging platforms, you can communicate with guests via their preferred method. Some guests prefer email, while others prefer text messages. Some platforms, like Zingle (which integrates directly into HotSoS, even support WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger). Plus, you can set up automated messages that will free up your employees’ time while increasing guest engagement.   Ditch Guest Room Phones for Smart Assistants Hotel guest room phones have been slowly dying out for years and the advent of smart assistants like Google Echo and Amazon Alexa accelerated their decline. Why? According to the Amadeus research, 61% of travelers would like to use voice assistant technology if present in their rooms. Hotels and larger groups like Viceroy are welcoming guests back to hotels by eliminating in-room phones and allowing them to order via the same technologies they’re using at home like mobile apps and smart speakers. Smart assistants powered by software like Volara are preprogrammed to control every facet of the in-room guest experience going far beyond the capabilities of in-room phones without adding significant cost. Volara’s voice technology integrates seamlessly into Amadeus HotSOS to fulfill service requests.   “The reality is anything you can do to limit direct contact with other people and even our own surroundings is part of widespread change in personal behaviors. Guests no longer want to have to touch the remote control or use the guest room telephone to make service requests. If a guest has forgotten toiletries or needs to report maintenance issues for instance, or even play music, watch shows, set alarms, or request more towels, they will want to do so in a contactless manner.  Having the ability to simply ask an in-room voice assistant to help fulfill special requests and preferences will be an opportunity to increase guest Loyalty,” says Volara CEO Dave Berger in an interview on the Amadeus blog.   Eliminating Lobby Crowds with Contactless Check-In Like with contactless ordering, offering a contactless way for guests to check in to your hotel is the welcoming touch that every traveler wants these days. Amadeus’ research shows that 62% of travelers would prefer to handle check-in and check-out via an app, so hoteliers that don’t yet have a technology solution for contactless check-in are making it a priority to implement one. Both guests and employees enjoy peace of mind when they don’t need to exchange physical credit cards, IDs, registration cards, and pens. “There are a number of ways the PMS can become a key component of the new guest experience. First, advanced two-way integrations with other supporting systems (CRS for instance) will allow for synchronized data across platforms to capture and make data actionable data coming from new apps. Second, many PMS systems provide simple and robust integrations with hundreds of third-party systems to make the implementation of new mobile services and tools simple and painless. Finally, some PMS systems offer open APIs, which make it possible to integrate with custom internal apps. This allows hotels and hotel chains to innovate at their own pace, and be more agile,” says Patrick van der Wardt, Head of Sales Specialists International, SO, S&C, PMS at Amadeus. Besides just providing a solution for check-in without physical contact, contactless check-in software can personalize the guest experience further by offering upgrades and add-ons that can lead to incremental revenue. -- As we’ve learned throughout the pandemic, guest preferences and expectations are changing rapidly. COVID-19 ushered a new wave of contactless technologies and efficiency driving software into the hotel industry. As we prepare for a travel rebound, hoteliers are still in a prime position to optimize their tech stacks to ensure they are able to capture and maximize on new business opportunities. Every facet of the guest experience is being reimagined with the creative use of technology from booking to check out. Let market data like this Amadeus research and the needs of your own guests guide your technology decisions and set your hotel up for success in 2021.   This content was created collaboratively by Amadeus and Hotel Tech Report.  

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18 Must-Have Features of a Hotel Management System

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

Choosing a hotel management software system is like buying a car: it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of options, and it can be difficult to find trusted advice about the PMS features you need most. “There’s often a misconception in business software that one size fits all. Every hotel has very specific needs based on property size, chain scale, geography, and dozens of other variables. On top of that, every owner or manager has their own preferences in terms of design, usability, and support.  It is absolutely critical to narrow down the problem you’re trying to solve to engage with PMS vendors, and ensure you aren’t being sold on things that your property doesn’t need” says Amelia Gain, CEO of popular Hotel PMS company Preno. Hotel industry veterans often use the analogy of a duck on a lake to describe hotel operations.  Above the surface, the duck appears calm and collected, but under the surface its legs are kicking furiously. Guests are often stressed with their own travel plans, or are trying to escape stress altogether during their holiday, so it is critical for staff to appear calm and relaxed regardless of the hustle and bustle. Technology is one of the key tools that hoteliers leverage to make operations appear effortless to guests, and hotel management software is the single most important system in the entire hotel. Whether you work at an independent bed and breakfast or a global hotel chain, your hotel management system is the nucleus of your property. Nearly every member of a hotel team must access the PMS to perform daily tasks. Guest service staff need to prioritize hotel rooms that must be cleaned for early VIP arrivals. Sales & event management professionals need to block off rooms for groups. Hotel managers need to access the system for data and operating insights. Hotel management system vendor selection is one of the most important and difficult decisions a hotel operator will ever make. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what to look for so that you can make informed technology decisions for your property.   The Most Essential Hotel Management Software Functionalities Let’s start with the basics. These features are true must-haves for any modern hotelier who wants to use technology to improve the guest experience, make back office operations more efficient, and build lasting relationships with guests. Intuitive & easy-to-use interface: A user-friendly interface is the most important factor when choosing mission-critical software for a hotel. If your hotel software is complex and confusing, more mistakes will be made, costing you more money. Common tasks should not take lots of time and steps, as this slows down your team and limits your ability to grow quickly – hence the need for a powerful hotel management software system. Mobile & tablet optimised: When your manager, housekeeping team, and other staff members need to check details on a booking quickly they shouldn’t have to rush back to the office. Any system you use must not only be accessible by, but also optimized for use on mobile phones and tablets. Better yet, your owner should be able to check performance while on holiday. Clear visibility of the grid: Adding special events that are happening in the region, highlighting returning guests, and identifying guests who are yet to pay their bill are all features your grid should enable by default. Your grid should allow you to quickly & easily see key information about your guests. Guest profiles: Are you working on building guest loyalty? Guest profiles store your guests’ contact information, stay history, and even preferences, so that you can deliver a more personalized experience during their next stay. Better yet, a guest profile with stored CC’s of your guest will make it even easier for returning guests.  Email automation: You can communicate with guests and reduce manual work for your staff by deploying personalised, customised, and automated emails. Using your own templates, automated email functionality allows you to build a communication journey from the initial booking to targeted offers for repeat guests. Housekeeping management: Your PMS should allow your housekeeping team to mark rooms as clean, dirty, or out of order. Having this information in one central place gives the front desk visibility of room statuses, so that they can accommodate early check-in’s and room moves without needing to radio the housekeeping supervisor.     Reservation management: Perhaps the absolute most essential PMS feature is reservations management and front office features. By housing all of your reservations digitally, hoteliers can make a paper reservation book a thing of the past. Within reservations management, you should be able to set rates, control availability, offer promotions, and visualize reservations on a calendar. Room management: The room management module of a PMS is like your virtual front desk. This functionality lets front desk agents check guests in and out, and cancel or extend reservations with just a few simple clicks. Group bookings/reservations: If your hotel plans on hosting any type of event or group of guests, then group reservations functionality is crucial. Group reservation features include allowing guests to book reservations within the room block, exporting a room list, and configuring billing settings so that you can bill one account for multiple rooms. Invoicing: When most guests check out, they want a copy of their bill, so, your PMS should be able to easily export guests’ folios that contain all charges from their stay. Similarly, you’ll want solid, straightforward financial reporting that helps you reconcile revenue and expenses from room revenue, outlets, vendors, and more. Payment processing: Gone are the days when guests paid with cash or cheque, so you’ll want a PMS with a payment processor integration that allows you to effortlessly charge guests’ credit cards and have secure access to major payment gateways. Business intelligence & reporting: How do you know if your hotel is doing well if you can’t measure your performance? A PMS with robust reporting features will give you insight into your revenue, ADR, RevPAR, and a slew of other metrics so that you can find opportunities for growth – and track your progress toward your goals. Rate management: Do you want to offer a non-refundable rate or value-added packages? If so, you’ll want rate management functionality that allows for multiple, customizable rate plans.     User logs & permissions: With so much turnover in the hotel industry, it is important to keep front-line staff accountable with detailed user logs to have an automated record in case of any mistakes, as well as to ensure proper training and issue resolution. Additionally, we are living in a world where consumers demand heightened security, so it is critical that staff are only able to access the parts of the hotel management system required to complete their core tasks without unnecessarily accessing sensitive information like credit card data.   Key Software Integrations to Supercharge Your Hotel Property Management System A PMS is an important software partner in its own right, but running a hotel is very complex, which usually means that more feature functionality will be needed than a PMS can provide.  For that reason, some of the most important PMS features are actually software integrations with other key systems to unlock more value and performance through real-time data sharing and triggers. Let’s explore some of the most critical PMS add-ons. Accounting software: Accounting is an ever-changing, complicated industry, and you don’t want to be stuck with software that is out of date when rules change. As such, you should look for software that has robust and complete integrations to the world leaders of accounting software like Xero. This will empower you to streamline your invoicing, reconciliation, commission payment, and billing processes and automate repetitive tasks to help your finance department run more smoothly. “Whether you’re tracking agency commissions or configuring payment policies for groups – it is vital for hotels of all sizes to have a seamless integration between their property management system (PMS) and hotel accounting software. Why? It saves countless hours of tedious administration via automation,” says Preno’s CEO, Amelia Gain. Point-of-sale system integration: If your hotel has a restaurant, bar, spa, or other outlets, then an integrated POS can do wonders for your operations. When your POS can talk to your PMS, guests can seamlessly charge purchases to their room, and you can keep a record of guest purchasing activity to analyze trends and personalize future loyalty offers. Channel manager: Do you work with third-party channels like Booking.com and Expedia? If so, you’ll need a channel manager to push your rates and availability to these platforms, and more. In return, it will send reservations back to your PMS to capture more hotel bookings. A channel manager can also prevent overbookings by syncing with your PMS since it will know when to turn off distribution as a certain room type gets sold out. Channel manager software solutions are also important for hotels to optimize the allocation of rooms across channels and to ensure maximum profitability.   Booking engine: Allow guests to book directly with you, with no expensive commissions. An online booking engine, which publishes your rates and availability to your website, collects the necessary information from guests, and creates reservations in your PMS. Looking for more advice and information on hotel management systems? Download Hotel Tech Report’s 2021 Hotel Management Software Buyer's Guide to inform your vendor search.   This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.

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The 9 Most Futuristic High Tech Hotels in the World

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 months ago

The pandemic accelerated technological transformation across the hospitality industry. Contactless has become a must-have, fitness centers have gone virtual, guest communications have moved to mobile, and self-service has become standard. While some hotels found themselves rapidly deploying new technologies, other hotels have been playing the tech-long game for years. Here are some of the world’s most notable high-tech hotels. We've covered the tech strategies of great hotel groups like Viceroy and Noble House who implement everything from contactless check-in to digital concierge but this article focuses on some more wacky tech implementations with a bit of focus on form over function.  This list features some pretty cool hi-tech gadgets and hotel room amenities that go above and beyond the typical flat-screen tv.  Some of the cutting-edge technology on this list may off-put more traditional travelers but will undoubtedly hit the spot for tech-savvy millennials. Rather than layer technology onto the operation, these properties embed technology into the fabric of the operation, making it a focal point and key feature. Some use it as an Instagrammable moment at a specific location while others structure their entire brand around the tech-enabled guest experience. Either way, technology is front-and-center at these hotels.   Henn Na Hotel, Japan “The Robot Hotel” Tokyo has become the marquee high-tech hotel. The brand concept is “commitment to evolution,” which appears across its operation in the form of robots. Lots of robots! The brand claims to be the world’s first hotel staffed by robots -- and there’s really no disputing that, as guests are greeted by robots at the front desk. At one property, the front desk is even staffed by dinosaur robots and iPad kiosks, which is quite the experience.     Other high-tech features at some locations include a robot barista frothing lattes, espressos and teas, as well as a 360-degree VR space for guests to immerse themselves in virtual reality experiences. The hotel is also fully enabled with Wifi powered facial recognition, which eliminates the need for a hotel key altogether. Guests can access the property, and their individual guest rooms, seamlessly using biometrics. Very futuristic, indeed!   YOTEL, New York City The YOTEL brand has been synonymous with technology since it opened its doors near  Times Square. The showstopper was a massive robot arm dominating the lobby, providing automated luggage storage for guests (as well as safety deposit boxes to store valuables). The YOBOT also provides self-service check-in, which puts the brand far ahead of today’s contactless guest experience.   The rooms -- called cabins -- may be small, but YOTEL uses technology to deliver its promise to “give you everything you need, and nothing you don’t.” This includes Smart TVs so that guests can connect their own devices and choose their own entertainment. The guest rooms also use motorized beds as space-savers and motion-activated sensors for lighting and AC to reduce carbon emissions. It’s all about efficiency, delivering an outsized guest experience in even the smallest spaces.   Blow Up Hall 5050, Poland The Blow Up Hall 50/50 is an impressive mix of form and function. Designed by BAFTA-award-winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, the hotel combines a restaurant, bar, gallery, and hotel into a unique vibe. There are several digital art installations, including a commentary on surveillance capitalism embedded right within the lobby.    The property eliminates the traditional touchstones of the hotel experience: there’s no front desk. The guest’s smartphone provides access to the property, from check-in to room keys to staff communications. The phone also acts as a room finder: after opening the app, the assigned room lights up and the door unlocks automatically. It’s these small tech flourishes that reinforce the property’s sense of mystery and intrigue.   Hotel Zetta, San Francisco At the center of Silicon Valley, the centerpiece of Hotel Zetta is most definitely its virtual reality room in the lobby. Designed by a local tech startup (naturally), the VR cube gives guests a fully-immersive opportunity to experience virtual reality. There are also Nintendo Switch consoles and Oculus VR headsets available so guests can experience next-generation technology in the comfort of their rooms.      Other tech touchstones include a vintage Atari Pong table in the Zetta Suite, which is modernized to include both the classic game and a Bluetooth speaker to play personal playlists. Each guest room is also equipped with Alexa-enabled voice control in every room. Guests can order a meal from room service, set an alarm or learn about on-property dining specials.    Kameha Grand, Zurich The Kameha Grand isn’t one of those kitschy places that you’re embarrassed to stay at. Quite the opposite: the high-end “lifestyle hotel” is part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. And, with rooms designed by Marcel Wenders, it’s got all of the trappings of a luxury property. Rooms     Our favorite rooms are, of course, the Space Suites. It’s the most futuristic room type on this list because it quite literally connects to space. The in-room TV features a live feed from NASA TV so that you can fuel those space dreams. The atmospheric vibes will contribute to that dreamy feel, with “outer space furnishings have been designed down to the smallest detail with a floating bed, pictures of galaxies, hovering astronauts and models of rockets.” Far out!   Virgin Hotels  The Virgin Hotel brand has always been tech-forward and guest-centric. Even prior to the pandemic, the brand empowered guests to control their own experiences right from the palm of their hand. Now, those features are dramatically expanded to be even more contactless.     Named Lucy, the app allows guests to skip check-in, using their phone to select rooms and unlock doors. Guests can also use the app to order room service, adjust room temperature, control entertainment (in-room streaming and Apple Music), plan their trip around the city, or even follow custom exercise routines by Fitbod. Following on smartly with its brand promise, the app also offers three preset lighting modes for guestrooms:  Get Lit for full brightness, Get in the Mood for dimmed relaxation, and Do Not Disturb for sleep. By putting all of these elements together into a single interface, Virgin Hotels puts the guest in control.    25hours Hotels Another brand that’s focused on high-tech without losing high-touch hospitality is 25hours. Thanks to an in-house multidisciplinary think tank, the Extra Hour Lab, the brand experiments with new ways of engaging with guests, both through digital and analog channels. That balance plays out in Cologne, where the record store greets guests alongside    Perhaps that’s one aspect that distinguishes the futuristic, high-tech hotels: those that understand how to inject storytelling into the experience alongside the latest technology.   Cityhub A hybrid between a comfortable hotel and a convivial hostel, Cityhub is futuristic in both its technology and its approach to hospitality. It’s part of a new wave of brands that blend categories and use technology to enable a more social experience. The Cityhub brand has an app but it also takes a cue from Disney and offers RFID wristbands. These bands are used not only for check-in and property access, but also  at the bar, cafe or vending machines, where guests can serve themselves and charge their rooms. Without having to constantly pull out their phones, there’s a more personal element to the experience.     Each “hub” has its own customizable lighting, temperature and audio streaming, so guests can control their vibe. There’s also an on-property social network, giving guests a digital lobby to meet and plan real-world adventures.   The Atari Hotel, Las Vegas (coming soon!) A notable mention is the upcoming Atari Hotel in Las Vegas.  This property will blur the boundaries between hotel and immersive experience, building on Las Vegas’ long history of blending entertainment with hospitality. The experience is straight out of Blade Runner: bright lights, massive marquees, and an “everywhere you look” focus on gaming.    The Atari Hotel points to a far-more futuristic vision of hotels than anything else on the market today. It very well could be the first hospitality experience built just as much for the virtual world as for the physical one. Guests can host friends in their rooms for gaming marathons, with consoles, batteries, and spare controllers available for delivery. The Atari Hotel may redefine the category and establish a new mainstream travel trend: the gamer circuit. -- What are your favorite high-tech hotel amenities? Let us know if we missed any key ones like hotels with crazy underwater speakers, air conditioning activated by motion sensors, cool touchscreen applications, and more!

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The 9-Step Hotel Marketing Plan for 2021 (+FREE Worksheet)

by
Hotel Tech Report
7 months ago

Does creating a hotel marketing plan sound as intimidating as rocket science? Whether you’re opening a new hotel, rebranding an existing one, or stepping into a new hospitality industry marketing role, tackling your marketing plan is a daunting - yet essential - task. Without a plan, you could end up maxing out your marketing budget with little return on investment, targeting the wrong traveler segments, or using less than ideal technology tools. Putting in a little extra work early on will help your hotel compete effectively and efficiently, which is crucial to your hotel’s success both in periods of uncertain and strong demand. But how do you start your hotel marketing plan? Not to worry; we’ve built a simple step-by-step process for crafting hotel marketing strategies so it feels less like rocket science and more like building a Lego rocket. Just follow these nine steps and you’ll have a robust hotel marketing plan that will take your hotel to the stars (five-star reviews, that is). Looking for the pocket-sized version? Here’s your hotel marketing plan cheat sheet: Create a Google Sheet with your hotel’s benchmarking data Enhance your Google sheet with competitor data to best of your abilities Prepare a SWOT analysis Analyze CRM and PMS data to understand business mix and profitability by guest segment Present findings to your cross-functional team and ask for feedback Rate satisfaction of partners and tech vendors Create an ROI forecast for each tool Add KPI status tags Put together three budgets Let’s get started!   1. Create a Google Sheet with your hotel’s benchmarking data to set the stage for your marketing strategy The first step in developing your hotel marketing plan is to start with your current situation, from your current RevPAR to your social media following. We recommend mapping all of the below metrics in a Google Sheet, putting your hotel’s name at the top and all of these metrics, organized by category, in the rows beneath. Core metrics RevPAR: Revenue per Available Room. You can quickly find this number in your property management system. ADR: Average Daily Rate. This stat is also available in your property management system. CPA: Cost per Acquisition - i.e. what is the average cost of each reservation? This number can include OTA (online travel agencies) channel fees and any other booking fees. ROAS: Return on Ad Spend. Divide your ad spend (like Expedia TravelAds or Google Ads) by the revenue booked as a direct result of the ads to get your ROAS. Marketing as % of revenue: Add up all of your marketing spend, then divide it by your hotel’s total revenue. % direct bookings: The share of reservations that come through your direct channels (website, reservations office) versus other booking platforms like OTAs and the GDS. Brand awareness: What is your share of voice online? Different hotels calculate this metric differently but consistency is the most important thing here.  A simple calculation could be to sum up the following metrics for your compset: web traffic + review volumes across major online portals such as Booking, Expedia, Google, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Yelp (these will vary based on market).  Local business reviews on these portals typically equate to more traffic on those platforms. Advertising budget: List your marketing budget, including your target cost per click for ads. If you’re new to paid digital marketing, you can use a return on ad spend (ROAS) calculator to help you determine your ideal spend level, like this one. Social media marketing efficacy: List your follower counts and engagement rate for each of your social media profiles (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.).  Search engine optimization (SEO) Website traffic: The number of visitors to your hotel website in a given time period. You can find your traffic stats in your Google Analytics dashboard or website’s content management system.  The hotel industry is notorious for outsourcing traffic to OTAs - organic search traffic is the most profitable traffic hoteliers can focus on because it has long-term value. Keywords: List your website’s top keywords - i.e. the search engine keywords where your website ranks highly. You can find them on Moz, SEMRush, or similar sites. Domain authority: This metric measures the likelihood that your website will rank highly in the search results. It’s a way to measure your website’s “strength.” You can look up your hotel website’s DA on Moz or SEMRush as well.  Marketers often take this metric too literally, the important thing in SEO and online marketing, in general, is looking at metrics like this in relation to competitors. Funnel performance Website conversion rate: This metric compares the number of “lookers” to “bookers” on your website. Out of 100 website visitors, how many actually make a reservation? Website metrics: page load speed, first contentful paint, bounce rate and time on site are critical indicators of what's happening in the hotel booking funnel.  Google's page experience update means that even if your not the best hotel you can still outrank those formidable competitors with a great hotel website. Booking engine conversion rate: Similar to your website conversion rate, but this metric only looks at shoppers who have actually entered your booking engine. What percentage of them end up finalizing a booking? Average basket size: The average price of a reservation added to a potential guest’s “basket.”   2. Enhance your Google sheet with competitor data to the best of your abilities Now, let’s put your benchmarking data in context by studying what your competitors are doing. First, you’ll want to gather a list of three to five close competitor properties. These competitors should be located in the same general area, offer similar amenities, and charge similar nightly rates as you do. Once you have decided on your competitor properties, add their names to the header row in the columns to the left of your own hotel’s column. Proceed to fill in the cells beneath with as much information as you have readily available. For instance, you can visit your competitor’s social media pages to take note of their follower counts.  Some information will require a bit more digging. To find stats on competitor’s keywords, pay-per-click marketing, and website traffic, you can use a tool like SEMRush, iSpionage, or Google Ads’ Auction Insights. Moz and SEMRush also let you find the Domain Authority for any website, so you can simply enter your competitors’ websites to find their DA. Other metrics, like return on ad spend, cost per acquisition, and website conversion rate, will be harder to come by. If you have good relationships with your peers at your compset hotels, you can ask your competitors if they would be willing to exchange information for educational purposes. You can also ask for insights from OTA market managers or your technology vendor representatives. Another strategy is to take demos with digital marketing agencies and ask them what metrics or performance they would expect when using their tools. For instance, if you test-drive a booking engine, they should be able to share a ballpark conversion range based on similar clients’ performance.   3. Prepare a SWOT analysis  With your competitors’ data lined up nicely next to yours, you can easily compare your performance to theirs. Using these metrics, conduct a SWOT analysis to determine how you stack up to the compset.  This exercise will help to elucidate the marketing channels that will be most impactful for your business. A SWOT analysis helps you uncover your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It may be helpful to add a new column where you can add the appropriate label to the category. For instance, if your website conversion rate is higher than your compset average, you would add “Strength” in the SWOT column. Use these prompts to help you determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats: Strengths: What does your hotel do better than your compset? What sets you apart from your compset hotels?  Weaknesses: What is your hotel not so good at? Where do you have resource limitations? For example, is your marketing budget much smaller than your compset’s budgets? Opportunities: Are only a few of your competitors doing this? For example, are none of your competitors engaging with their social media audiences?  Threats: Does your hotel have any new competitors? Is a new hotel opening down the street? Will changing market dynamics push your ADR down?   4. Analyze CRM and PMS data to understand business mix and profitability by guest segment With your SWOT complete, let’s switch gears and look at your guest segments. Generate a report in your hotel CRM or PMS that shows your performance by guest mix - i.e. revenue, room nights, ADR, booking window, and similar metrics broken down by transient guests, corporate guests, groups, consortia, and any other relevant segments.  Your Hotel CRM will also calculate RFM for various guest segments (recency, frequency, monetary value) to ensure that you focus your marketing efforts on the right channels with the right marketing messages. High-quality marketing strategies don't just think about high-level demographics when creating customer personas like age or gender - the best marketers are able to use data to understand their target audience better than the compset.  Whether you're running display ads like remarketing campaigns or email marketing campaigns the language you use) resonates with the audience it's put in front of. Personalization is the key to persuading business travelers and leisure guests alike. Using this data, you can determine which guest segment is your most profitable, which one is the most expensive, which segments have seasonal trends, and more. Understanding your business mix and profitability metrics will help you decide which segments to target in your marketing plan and which ones might not deliver favorable financial results if you were to invest more marketing dollars.   5. Present findings to your cross-functional team and ask for feedback Of course, since you’ve only been looking at the hard numbers so far, it’s crucial to run your findings past a cross-functional team to get their take on your analysis. Bring your SWOT analysis and business mix analysis to the next leadership meeting - or call a special meeting with department heads to review your reports. Make sure to loop in sales, revenue management, and your GM so everyone can share their opinions. Give each team the opportunity to share their feedback, which can help you to validate and enrich your findings.   6. Rate satisfaction of partners and tech vendors Now it’s time to think about how you can achieve your goals laid out in the SWOT analysis. For instance, if you learned that your website conversion is lower than your compset or the industry average, how do you plan to increase it? Your marketing partners and technology vendors can be valuable assets here, so let’s audit each one to find areas of opportunity for growth - or potential reasons to switch to a new solution.  Make a list of your partners and vendors, then ask key stakeholders to rate their satisfaction with each one (or rate them yourself). Match each vendor with a KPI from step 1; for example, your digital marketing agency would correspond to your marketing budget and social media presence, and your booking engine would correspond to your website and booking engine conversion rates.  Some partners and vendors to consider include: Digital marketing agency Hotel CRM & email marketing software Booking engine Hotel website developer Metasearch software (and meta partners like TripAdvisor) Hotel website chatbot Reputation management and online reviews software Direct booking tools Upsell software   7. Create an ROI forecast for each tool and channel With your list of partners and vendors ready, and maybe a few items on your technology wishlist, let’s figure out the costs and potential impact for each tool. For tools you already use, you should be able to fill in cost numbers, whether that’s a commission on each reservation, a monthly fee, or a one-time investment. You can find the cost of tools you don’t already use via this very website (how convenient!) by submitting quotes to vendors on their “profile” pages. Besides costs, you’ll want to estimate the benefits these tools can deliver. For instance, if you invest in a new booking engine, it might increase your website conversion rate by 0.5%, which could lead to an additional $10,000 in booked revenue per month. Similarly, by implementing a CRM tool, the vendor could provide an estimate of additional revenue per contact in your email database by optimizing your email newsletters. Adding up all of the costs and potential revenue uplifts will give you an ROI forecast for each system on your list.   8. Add KPI status tags Keep up the good work, you’re almost there! Take your list of tools from step 6 (with their corresponding KPIs and ROI forecast) and combine it with your SWOT analysis. Simply match each KPI with the respective SWOT tag - strength, weakness, opportunity, or threat - to give context as to why you want to invest in each tool. For instance, if you identified your website conversion rate as a weakness compared to your compset, you would assign “weakness” as the status tag for your website developer or content management system.   9. Put together three budgets Now let’s sum it all up! The final step is to prepare three budgets - high, medium, and low - based on light or heavy investment in marketing tools and strategies. You might want to consider three different levels of ad spend, three different website options (i.e. standard, deluxe, and fully loaded packages), and some tools that would be nice to have but maybe not totally essential. Come up with a rationale for each and why you think spending more would yield better results for ownership, then get ready to present it for approval. Well, that wasn’t so bad! In just nine steps, you’ve created a comprehensive hotel marketing plan with not just one budget, but three, plus you’ve outlined clear KPIs you want to hit and buy-in from other hotel departments. Still have questions about your hotel marketing plan? Get started with the template below but don't feel restricted to our process - every hotel business is different so you need to customize for your individual or portfolio property needs.