Mobile messaging, chatbots, contactless check-ins—-we wouldn’t blame you if the thought of instituting technology feels cold and unwelcoming. After all, advances in hotel tech are a result of streamlining operations in favor of a more automated approach. But the why behind hotel tech is not about less hospitality, it’s about better hospitality. Hotel tech is often touted as a time saver, which goes hand-in-hand with better hospitality. Time freed from conducting mundane paperwork thanks to hotel tech can be rerouted to providing other guest services, from organizing surprise-and-delight initiatives to in-person guest assistance. But the most compelling argument for hotel tech is how it supports proactive hospitality. Traditionally, hoteliers would cast a large net to catch guests, with hospitality commencing upon booking and check-in. Yet with developments in hotel technology, hoteliers can define their target market (or guest segments), create appealing content, and develop personalized offers and service—taking hospitality to the next level. Moreover, hospitality doesn’t end when a guest checks out. Through hotel tech, hotels can nurture relationships with their guests in a proactive way that garners repeat bookings. While at first glance hotel tech may seem to lack a human touch, the opposite is true. Through the thoughtful and human-designed application of chatbots, websites, email automation, guest databases, and guest messaging, hoteliers can provide personalized guest experiences through every stage of the guest journey: pre-stay, stay, and post-stay.
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How is your hotel performing? Many hotels leverage tools like STR reports to answer that question, but a STR report is only effective if you have picked the right properties (direct competitors) to compare your hotel against. Without context, your ADR and RevPAR might as well be numbers you pull out of a hat. A competitive set, or compset, can add necessary context to help revenue managers, leadership teams, and owners understand a hotel’s performance relative to similar hotels in the market. But in order for compset data to provide this valuable benchmarking context, the compset must include hotels that are close competitors of your hotel. In this article, we’ll explain the power of selecting the right competitive set and walk you through the process of building and maintaining a solid compset. Then, you’ll be able to use your compset to unlock insights and opportunities to capture higher ADR and more occupancy in the market.
Rancho Caymus Inn in Napa Valley, managed by Life House The last five years have put the hospitality industry through the ringer. COVID shut down properties around the world, caused a labor shortage and the aftermath is steering us straight into the eye of a new storm - looming recession, inflation and potentially stagflation. Increasingly volatile market conditions have made hotel management exponentially more challenging. In order to succeed in today’s rapidly changing environment, hotel management companies need to have tools that empower them to act on real-time shifts in market conditions. Hotel operators who are ahead of the curve on all things digital can spot shifting market trends and implement new strategies to adapt in real-time. Volatility and technological change have left legacy hotel management firms scrambling to rework their operating models and update their technology tools. This scramble has opened the door for a new type of hotel management company - tech first hotel managers. Tech first hotel management companies have taken a first principles approach from day one by leveraging proprietary technology tools to automate back office operations, eliminate cost redundancies and more effectively generate demand for their partners - hotel owners.
Across the world, hotels are struggling to find and retain staff in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff shortages are a problem in every department of a hotel, but particularly within operational departments. Requests are going unanswered, check-in queues are growing long, and many hotels cannot promise the same level of service standards as before. However, new technologies introduce solutions that are within the average hotel’s reach.
The tourism and hospitality industry has evolved drastically in the past few decades. However, if there is a contributing factor to its success that has remained a constant all throughout, it is an outstanding guest experience. Naturally, enhancing guest experience persistently is all but a necessity for hoteliers across the globe. Mentioned below are 5 smart tips to do so.
“Revenge travel” is on the rise. Although there’s no standard definition yet for the term, the phrase is catching on among industry professionals who use it to describe the big increase in people wanting to make up for travel experiences lost to the pandemic. But today’s travelers have new expectations. According to a new study by Oracle Hospitality, nearly three-quarters (73%) of post-pandemic travelers want to eliminate the “touch” from the high-touch industry they once knew. Instead, they now prefer to use their personal devices to manage as much of their hotel experience as possible. In fact, that same percentage of travelers agree that they’re more likely to stay at a hotel offering self-service technology that lets them minimize contact with the staff and other guests. An easy way for hotel operators to make this transformation, is through implementing a web application. Web apps can be launched quickly because you only need internet connection. And unlike native apps, you don’t need to create multiple versions for different device operating systems, so they’re easy for guests to use, as well as simple to maintain and update. The touchless experience that web apps enable not only enhance guest satisfaction but simultaneously lighten the workload on your staff.
If your hotel is still using seasonal room rates, we can confidently tell you with (100% certainty) that you are leaving money on the table. If you aren't updating room rates to reflect real-time market conditions you are without a doubt selling your rooms in a suboptimal way. Either you're over-pricing and missing out on selling hotel rooms to drive occupancy or you're underpricing and leaving critical ADR (average daily rate) dollars on the table. Either way, good luck beating your compset on RevPAR. So how do you maximize revenue in changing market conditions and with fluctuating demand? In short, you'll need to tap the power of automation by implementing a hotel revenue management system. As a hotelier, you want to sell the right room types to the right guests, at the right prices, at the right times. But the “right price” can mean very different things to different guests, and the “right price” in the middle of your slow season is drastically different from the “right price” on a peak demand date. It’s clear that a one-rate-fits-all approach doesn’t quite work; a dynamic pricing strategy can increase your revenue and occupancy by adjusting rates up or down based on a variety of factors. In this article, we’ll explain how dynamic pricing works, the costs and benefits of adopting a dynamic pricing strategy, and some best practices for effective use of dynamic pricing. The hospitality industry is notoriously complex when it comes to pricing and distribution. This has become even more pronounced with massive market fluctuations in the wake of the pandemic. In order to effectively leverage the automation techniques required for effective hotel dynamic pricing you'll need to incorporate competitor pricing and market data so granular that it's simply impossible for a human to catch up without computational assistance.
Imagine if there was a way to give guests the chance to “experience” your property before they even book. Photos can only tell so much of your story, but a digital twin can more effectively encourage guests to book by allowing them a much more realistic preview. Bleeding edge technology marketing tools makes it possible to offer high quality interactive virtual tours online via hotel websites, social media and even sales emails. Hotel marketing is more competitive than ever with acquisition costs rising across the board, great hotel virtual tours can help drive more engagement and ultimately conversion on your hotel website which will in turn lower your hotel’s cost of acquisition. It’s a common misconception that these tools are only for luxury hotels looking to lure high spend potential guests but these tools are now an integral part of marketing strategy for even budget hotels who want to show prospects key functionality and hotel features like meeting rooms and fitness centers. If you’re looking for a way to boost direct bookings, improve guest review scores, or just stand out among your competitors, a digital twin or virtual tour can be a great way to help you meet your business goals. In this article, we’ll explain what a digital twin is, share some inspiring virtual tours of real hotels, and explore a couple real-life use cases for digital twins in the hotel industry. Soon, you’ll have all the information you need to determine whether a digital twin makes sense for your hotel and how to select a digital twin or virtual tour vendor.
Commercial teams in the hotel industry have come a long way in leveraging data across departments like revenue management and marketing - but hotel operations for the most part still remain in the dark ages with hoteliers making decisions based on feel and conjecture. Remember when retail behemoth Target learned how to leverage website browsing data to predict pregnancy? The data that lead to this goldmine of an insight was somewhat surprising, “Many shoppers purchase soap and cotton balls, but when someone suddenly starts buying lots of scent-free soap and extra-big bags of cotton balls, in addition to hand sanitizers and washcloths, it signals they could be getting close to their delivery date.” This insight gave Target a competitive advantage in the highly lucrative “new-mommy” category so imagine what kinds of competitive advantage could be unlocked at your property using similar techniques. Every hotel GM, operations manager and management company knows that there are a myriad of opportunities to generate more efficiencies (and profit) in their businesses but historically it’s been incredibly difficult for hotels to see true cause and effect in a brick and mortar environment. The key barrier to making these connections is a lack of insight on the impacts between inputs and outputs. In the Target example, the retailer’s ecommerce website analytics and sales data are fully integrated which made that insight possible - but the integration of inputs and outputs typically isn’t present in hospitality operations. For example, let’s say you want to run a test to see if sending a different sequence of upsell messages to guests yields a material change in total guest spend. Historically, hoteliers could see how those upsell messages directly converted but couldn’t see whether that guest was more likely to book a massage, for example, if they didn’t convert with that exact promotional campaign. There are literally thousands of small experiments hoteliers can run to optimize their businesses. But, since inputs and outputs haven’t historically been in the same dataset it’s been challenging to justify outside the box experimentation. The secret sauce behind the success of tech giants like Google, Airbnb and Amazon are precisely in their ability to run consistent, rapid tests over extended periods of time to develop compounding gains (and a competitive advantage). What if you could easily run dozens of small experiments in your brick and mortar hotel business that would compound over extended periods of time to drive dramatic improvements? The team behind Actabl believes that they can do exactly that by bringing data science into hotel operations. Actabl, launched on June 28th at HITEC 2022 in Orlando, is the brainchild of leading technology investment firm ASG and is a culmination of their vision for the future of hospitality. ASG has strategically acquired several leading tech firms in the space and is now bringing them together to provide hoteliers with a completely new kind of operational tool that will enable rapid compounding experimentation. Actabl has some BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) that they are aiming to accomplish that will unlock value for hotels. Actabl wants to: Combine insights and operations to create a feedback loop that will allow hotel operators to build a living playbook that serves as a new standard for operations. Empower hoteliers with actionable (or ‘Actabl’) data from across their tech stacks so that they no longer have to “shoot from the hip.” Allow hotel operations teams, for the first time ever, to set up optimization ‘experiments’ and measure the true impact of initiatives by controlling inputs and outputs under one roof. Launch a hotel operations data science renaissance like the ones that revolutionized revenue management in the 90s and digital marketing in the 2000s. Actabl’s vision is to bring digital attribution to brick and mortar hotel businesses. For brands: Actabl will unlock opportunities for the big chains (who don’t control assets) like never before by bringing together operational data from franchisees into a single, actionable business intelligence dashboard. For independents: Small and medium sized operators will be able to run experiments like large enterprises and access data and benchmarks beyond the scope of their four walls. In this article, we’ll dive into the opportunities that are being unlocked as Actabl brings these historically distinct datasets under oneroof.
Mail-related check fraud has been rising since last August, according to the Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group at Georgia State University, which has been tracking the trend. It warns that criminals have a pretty easy time when it comes to getting their hands on your checks. In KPMG's survey of senior risk executives, 67% say their companies have experienced external fraud in the past 12 months, and 38% expect the risk of fraud committed by external perpetrators to somewhat increase in the next year. "Some of them simply go to your home mailbox and take the mail you left for the post office to pick up," said David Maimon, an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University and Director of the Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group. "Others simply go to the blue boxes with the keys that they were able to steal from some of the mailmen out there, empty the boxes, and get the checks that some of us send. That's how easy it is." The cybersecurity group found an average of 1,325 stolen checks up for sale every week during October 2021. This was more than double what it saw in September when the average was 634 a week and triple the 409 average in August 2021. More recent numbers indicate an even greater rate of incidents. M3, the hospitality sectors #1 Reporting & Accounting Software is hearing from more and more customers that are experiencing check fraud that ranges from checks being replicated or physically altered somewhere between when the check is issued, mailed, received, or redirected. The company’s goal is to minimize the potential of hospitality companies becoming a victim of check fraud, as has recommended the steps below be taken in order to mitigate the risk of check fraud. Implement Positive Pay with Name Verification. Positive Pay is a banking feature designed to help business owners protect themselves against fraudulent checks being written on their account. Once you give your bank details for each check you write, the bank verifies that your information matches the information on checks presented to the bank before it processes the payment. If any items don’t match up, your bank flags them and sends them to you for review. You can then decide if you want to accept or decline the payment. Implement an ePay system, which incorporates ACH and Virtual Credit Card (VCC) technology. ePay systems provide added security against fraudulent activities; especially when checks are eliminated and is easy to set-up and easy to use. It also adds efficiencies to your reconciliation process. In addition, ePay improves overall employee accountability. Complete Your Bank Reconciliations DAILY. Merely checking for similar numbers on the general ledger and bank statements is not good enough and is not offering the most protection against fraud. If you are only reconciling weekly or monthly, the horse may be out of the barn by the time irregularities or fraud is identified. Daily bank reconciliation allows you to nip bank errors in the bud as early as possible, leads to fewer issues and fewer errors, avoids working with outdated information, and helps track daily cash flow providing you the insight you need into the cash flow and spending habits of the property or corporate entity. If you are not reconciling daily, your books may not always equal reality. We are living in a world where, unfortunately, fraud is common and increasing at an alarming rate. Be sure you protect yourself and your company. If you currently are lacking the tools to keep your accounts safe, seek out assistance from your software partners to build a fraud prevention strategy.