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

by
Stefano Mocella
3 days 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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HotelIQ: Beyond Business Intelligence for Savvy, Data-Driven Hoteliers

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 days ago

To truly understand what’s happening at your hotel, portfolio, or management company, you need to sift through a lot of data. Big data can yield powerful insights, but the challenge lies in structuring that data in a way that’s easy to interpret and act on. For hoteliers who are ready to take the next step toward more data-driven decisions, a business intelligence platform can deliver tremendous value. But most BI tools aren’t designed with hotels in mind, so their utility is limited when it comes to commercial organizations in the hospitality industry. In this article, we’ll review a BI tool created by hoteliers, for hoteliers: HotelIQ. Through this review, we’ll introduce you to HotelIQ’s suite of features and reports so you can assess whether it might be a good fit for your business.   Introduction to HotelIQ’s New Decision Cloud HotelIQ’s goal is to help hoteliers organize data, analyze it, plan next steps, and collaborate with their team and across their organization. In doing so, HotelIQ aims to give hoteliers the lenses they need to pull insights from big data and make more intelligent decisions. This focus on decision-making is why HotelIQ dubbed their newly launched analytics suite “Decision Cloud,” which is an upgrade from their legacy interface in terms of both functionality and user experience.  The newly launched Decision Cloud takes a much more visual approach, looking more like the home screen on an iPad. A notable addition is the search bar, which enables users to search for key reporting terms they’re looking for, like “pace” or “booking channels.” Reports matching the search criteria will appear.     Within one app, HotelIQ houses all of your hotel data, which is fed directly from your PMS. Thinking long-term, HotelIQ can save time by eliminating the need to create your own reports in Excel and reducing email volume; its interface is a single source of truth for staff members on-site and remote. A world with fewer weekly meetings and no manual report pulling is closer than you might think.   Analyze: Dashboard and Reports The hallmark feature of HotelIQ is its reporting suite; this library of dashboards and reports puts the most commonly used data at your fingertips. This module is most useful for revenue managers and sales managers, but general managers and operations managers can benefit from insights gleaned from these reports too. The dashboard library includes visualizations for pick-up and pace, market segments, booking channels, geo markets, and more. HotelIQ subscribers might also add modules for account management and a STR integration, which aren’t included with the most basic package.     By clicking on one of the tiles on the home screen, you’ll land on a Dashboard. In this example, we see the Market Segments dashboard. Dashboards are quite visual - you’ll see charts and graphs with the ability to filter by hotel, hotel group, and date range. The goal of the Dashboard is to make the data accessible and easy to understand even for team members outside of the revenue management or sales teams who might be less comfortable with data.     In addition to the Dashboard visualizations, you can see the raw data in a standard table format.     To get more granular, you can select from a few Reports that slice data from the Dashboard in different ways. Reports have more filters than Dashboards, which allow you to dig into exactly the data you want. You can filter by room class, distribution channel, loyalty membership, and more.     Besides the Market Segments dashboard, another frequently used dashboard is the Pick-up and Pace dashboard. This one is a favorite of revenue managers and sales managers, who will appreciate the ability to filter the reports by account name or market segment in addition to the standard hotel name and date filters.     The Pick-up reports can be pulled by either book date or stay date, and you can drill down to the rate code level to study performance at the most granular level.     You can also pivot this report to see pick-up by room type, distribution channel, feeder markets, and more.     The Geo Markets dashboard is typically used by revenue and sales teams, but marketing managers might also uncover interesting trends around seasonality and variances by location, especially for management companies who operate in many markets.     The Booking Channels dashboard highlights production on not only third-party channels but also sub-segments of your direct channel, like comparing phone reservations and walk-ins to website bookings.     You can take a big-picture look at hotel performance on the Total Revenue dashboard, which splits out revenue by operating department, like rooms and F&B. While most of HotelIQ’s reports are most useful to revenue management or sales, this one can be relevant to operations teams, general managers, and even owners who want to understand performance of individual properties or revenue streams.      Many HotelIQ subscribers use their STR integration, which pulls in your STR data and compares your fair share to your forecast, automating some analytics you would have otherwise needed to do manually in Excel. HotelIQ can also submit your daily, segmented data to STR on your behalf, for further automation and time savings.   Although HotelIQ is packed with valuable reports, every hotel business is different, so if you don’t see a report you need, you can always create your own using the Sandbox Self-Service app.     Organize: Data Management While the analytics module of HotelIQ is certainly powerful, it can be useless if you don’t start with accurate data. HotelIQ’s data management features make it easy for you to clean, correct, and standardize data across your portfolio to ensure you can trust your reports. One essential and time-saving feature is Rate Code Maintenance, which enables you to quickly fix miscategorized rate codes. For example, if several hotels in your portfolio books rooms for the same corporate account, Bob’s Bank, but one hotel uses rate code BOBSBANK and another hotel uses BOBBANK, you can edit the rate codes in HotelIQ to match so they flow into the same line item on reports. Note that these changes are only for reporting purposes within HotelIQ, the changes do not flow back to the PMS.     Another handy functionality for multinational hotel chains or management companies is the Currencies module. HotelIQ allows you to build in your own conversion rates for specific date ranges (per month, for instance) and add the currency settings to specific hotels. For example, if you operate hotels in Mexico, Canada, and the US, but your corporate office is in the US, you might want to see high-level reports in US Dollars. These settings allow you to view portfolio-level reporting and forecasts in one currency.     Since HotelIQ receives data from the PMS daily, you want to know immediately if the system picks up a data error or an inconsistency. The Alerts pane on the HotelIQ homepage contains real-time notifications of data errors that need to be addressed.   Plan: Forecast Trends and Operationalize Data With so many reports available, it’s important to remember that the goal of HotelIQ isn’t just to analyze data, but to use that data to make decisions. HotelIQ will soon launch an updated Forecast module which will help hoteliers plan for the future aided by Machine Learning (ML), but in the meantime, the app has a few ways to help you put the data to use in the real world. The HotelIQ Concierge contains a collection of tours and guides to show you how to use each feature in the app. There’s also a walk-through tour which will take you step-by-step through the various modules to help you feel confident operationalizing the learnings you find in the reports.     Answers to frequently asked questions can be found in the Help Center, and if you’d like further assistance or some hands-on training, you can always reach out to the HotelIQ Service Desk.   Collaborate: Sharing and Subscriptions Finally, HotelIQ gives hoteliers tools for better collaboration across teams, hotels, and companies. Data is most powerful and operational when it’s democratized, so the software encourages users to share reports or set up subscriptions to ensure anyone who needs data can get it easily. On every report, you’ll see a “share” icon which lets you send that exact report to any user, including your selected parameters and filters. But manually sending reports isn’t always efficient, so there’s also an option to schedule report sends on a custom cadence. For example, you could schedule a pace report to go out to the entire sales team every Monday at 8am. This ensures everybody is looking at the same data, without the manual work of exporting the report, attaching it to an email, and hitting “send” manually.   Scheduling reports is a great way to get busy or less data-oriented team members comfortable with numbers. By configuring a report that shows exactly the data needed - with filters already applied - you can give general managers or owners a quick snapshot into performance in a format that’s easy to digest.   HotelIQ is Designed for Hotels Groups of All Sizes HotelIQ puts a lot of analytical muscle and number-crunching functionality into a package that’s approachable and easy to use. HotelIQ shines at large management companies that operate dozens - or hundreds - of hotels in many markets, and its software is built to accommodate multiple currencies, portfolio groupings, and user types. It’s also ideal for hotels that have heavy corporate business, with reporting that lets you drill down to the account level to really understand trends in each micro-segment. HotelIQ comes at a minimum charge of 100 rooms per month. While for high-end full-service properties that won't be an issue, HotelIQ may be too robust for hostels, b&bs, and smaller independent hotels for whom PMS reports should suffice. Smaller, independent hotels might be intrigued by HotelIQ’s reporting functionality, but these properties likely will not take advantage of all of HotelIQ’s features. Typically hotel groups, management companies, and asset managers with 10 or more properties will benefit most from a solution like HotelIQ. While perfect for large enterprises, the new Decision Cloud update was designed to provide limited functionality at a lower cost basis to smaller hotel groups who may not have a need for all of the large enterprise capabilities. Still have questions about HotelIQ and what it offers? Check out real user reviews here.   This content was created collaboratively by HotelIQ and Hotel Tech Report.

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 days 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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4 Hotel Tech Tools for the Post-Pandemic Travel Surge

by
Sandra Holland
2 weeks ago

It’s no secret that the travel industry was one of the most prominent industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the U.S Association of Travel reported that the United States lost around $500 billion in travel spend, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization reported international tourism plummeting between 20%-30% in 2020. But it’s not only airlines within the industry who suffered.  Hoteliers too, have felt the devastating effects on their bottom line. With more than one third of hotels claiming bankruptcy in 2020 and 77% laying off critical workers, McKinsey and Company declared hotels “among the hardest hit” during the pandemic.  2020 was undeniably a tumultuous time for hoteliers, however, with vaccines rolling out and safety measures improving around the globe, the future for hospitality looks more bright than bleak. In fact, it was predicted by Statista that “as a result of increasingly affordable flight rates and cheaper oil prices, passenger and cargo air traffic are estimated to grow substantially through 2039.” What’s more, McKinsey and Company predicted revenue per available hotel room (RevPAR) returning to very near pre-crisis levels in 2022. With a more than devastating past few years, the coming months will remain pivotal time for hotels to harness in order to prepare for a surge in travel and return to a thriving business. In that case and in order to prepare you for an influx of guests with new preferences, we’re sharing our top tools to consider, in a post-Covid world, so you can maintain efficiency and build customer satisfaction.   4 Tools to Consider For The Post-Pandemic Era Over the course of 2020, the number of customers opting for technology to combat face to face communication, increased radically. Social media grew as a customer service channel, check-in and check-outs became streamlined through online portals and QR codes created a safe and effective way for customers to place orders.  During the pandemic, technology wasn’t a nice to have, but rather a necessity in order to communicate and win customers. McKinsey even reported that the “responses to COVID-19 sped the adoption of digital technologies by several years—and that many of these changes could be here for the long haul.” In addition, according to Gursoy’s, COVID-19 Study 2 Report: Restaurant and Hotel Industry, the majority of hotel customers (70.42%) believe that the use of various technologies in service delivery is necessary in the COVID-19 environment in order to minimize human-to-human contact. Some examples include; service robots, digital menus that can be viewed on personal mobile devices via QR codes, contactless digital payments, keyless entry, touchless elevators, etc. For hotels, the next year will be a critical time to set a foundation of service and enhanced experience in order to win loyalty. In this next section, to support your hotel endeavours with the influx of customers, we’ll take a look at technology-based tools to help meet customer needs and streamline operations for maximum efficiency. Safety Satisfaction Measurement According to McKinsey and Company, when asked “what it would take to get [travelers] to travel again, most stated additional health and safety measures.” Post-pandemic, an integral part of improving satisfaction and maintaining hotel operations, will be the need for improved safety measures. This means, following regulations, taking extra precaution and then measuring guest satisfaction to see how you’ve performed. Measurement will be a key factor here, as you can understand critical touch points like room cleanliness, satisfaction with contactless check-in, ease of check-in with rapid tests, room service and more, to continuously improve the experience. Self-Service Options Even before the pandemic, people around the world were shifting towards a more digital approach to business interaction. The pandemic, in this instance, simply accelerated that pace, pressuring businesses to consider innovative ways to incorporate technology. For hotels, self service options will be paramount in a thriving customer experience. Whether it be in the form of a chatbot on your website answering frequently asked questions, a portal on your website for check in and check out, or an OnDemand ordering system for room service. By having self-service options in place, you reduce employee error and meet customers where they are for a streamlined journey.  Consolidated Messaging  As a result of shifting to digital capabilities, McKinsey also noted the acceleration of digitized customer interactions. A whopping 3 years ahead of its time, customers have quickly adopted contactless communication channels like guest messaging via text, Facebook Messenger, email, WhatsApp and more, in order to adhere to new regulations and increase the feeling of safety.  With these new preferences, a digital inbox, or messaging platform with a centralized inbox will become imperative to meet the influx of digital channels. It’s important to note that we are specifically referring to an inbox that can retrieve a number of different channel types in one consolidated inbox. This will make responding easy and efficient for employees, as toggling through different tabs or windows will become daunting in an era where customers are regularly channel hopping.  Task and Ticketing Software In addition to customer facing technology, back of house, or operational software will also become an essential tool to ensure all functions are running smoothly and managers are able to keep the experience thriving. For many hotels, ticketing software may already be in place, however for the post-pandemic era, an intuitive software will be essential. Not only does an intuitive ticketing platform provide housekeeping, reception, restaurant staff and more, accountable through real-time tags and mentions, but it also ensures everyone has visibility into tasks to identify time-saving opportunities. In addition, it adheres to contactless preferences. Employees can communicate via staff collaboration software without ever having to meet - lessening the number of interactions and bolstering employee confidence.    Final Thoughts Almost everyone, in some capacity, has been affected by the COVID-19 virus. It was unprecedented and many suffered. Although adopting technologies and being hyper aware of the current situation is key, it’s also very important to be cognisant of guest feelings and unease. For the post-pandemic era, flexibility and understanding should be paramount in the new travel experience. This means taking a new stance on cancellation policies, allowing flexibility with trip modifications, actively listening to your customers, acknowledging frustrations and making a point to do better. Working hand in hand with your biggest advocates, your team, and new guests, you can strengthen your operations and propel your hotel to deliver a memorable post-pandemic guest experience.

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Preno Review: Hotel Management Software that Puts Independent Properties on Autopilot

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

It’s not always easy to choose a property management system (PMS) when there are a variety of options out there. But picking a PMS is one of the more important and impactful decisions you will have as a hotel manager. The right technology can help you achieve your business goals, and the wrong system can add tedious (and often stressful, unnecessary) work for your accommodation - which might result in a less than ideal guest experience. In this article, we’ll walk through the features and functionality of Preno’s hotel management software that is helping independent hotel operators automate time-consuming daily tasks.  In addition to Preno's core property management system that is perfect for independent hoteliers, Preno's all-in-one hotel software suite also includes a channel manager and booking engine.   Preno’s Automations are Designed to Save You Valuable Time Let’s take a look at the various modules that owners, managers, and staff would use on a daily basis.   Reservation Management The reservation page is intuitively designed and straightforward; on this page you can see all information pertaining to a given reservation, like the guest’s name, contact info, payment method, and communication history. The interface is clean and easy to read, meaning that even a front desk agent with no experience will be able to learn the system in 20 minutes - with free training provided.     Payments and Accounting are a Total Breeze with Preno Also on the reservation page, you’ll find secure credit card information and payment history associated with that specific booking and guest. When a guest books on your property website using Preno’s booking engine, credit card info will flow into Preno via a powerful integration with preferred payment gateway app ‘Stripe’ Guest credit card details will be safely and securely stored on their individual profiles.  For security, all details are encrypted via the Stripe API, and storage is fully PCI compliant, meaning that guest data can never be leaked or lost. Unlike booking engines that simply pass the credit card number through to the PMS, the integration with Stripe automatically validates the card so that the guest cannot use an expired or invalid card. Multiple credit cards can be stored on the same guest profile, which comes in handy when a guest charges their room rate to a corporate card for the room but uses their personal card for incidentals, for example. Cards can be stored against guest profiles for returning stays, ensuring an excellent guest experience.      From the reservation page, you can click a button to automatically generate a nicely formatted invoice, thanks to a leading integration with accounting software Xero. This feature can save time and ensure accuracy as it's not necessary to log into a separate system to generate invoices and double-handle data.     When funds are collected as a deposit, Xero classifies the funds as a current liability on your balance sheet, which allows accounting staff to easily see how much revenue is actualized versus just taken as a deposit - this also ensures that taxes are paid at the right time.     Calendar View Options Preno offers a wealth of view options, to view your hotel dashboard and calendar:: by reservation status, payment status, repeat guests, and groups. Each of these views provides valuable insights for front desk staff at a glance.     The “Group” view highlights all reservations associated with a group. The “Guests” view marks all repeat guests with a star. The “Payment Status” view shows which reservations are fully or partially paid, plus which ones have not been paid at all. Also highlighted are those who have invoices against their account.   Reservation Creation Hotel staff can quickly create a new reservation by clicking on an available date on the calendar. When entering the guest’s name, Preno will highlight potential matches from your guest database so that saved guest profile data, like contact and payment info, can be used again. This historical data is valuable, and Preno can import up to 3 years of reservation history if you switch to Preno from different software.     If you receive many group bookings, Preno has features that support splitting and merging reservations with a couple of clicks. This is a super cool and unique feature we haven’t seen in many other PMS systems. Splitting a booking allows you to assign individual rooms within the same booking to their own invoice. For instance, if a corporate travel manager booked several rooms for employees traveling for a conference, but the employees need receipts with their own names on them to get reimbursement, the booking can be split. Conversely, Preno can combine separate reservations into one bill, for instance, if several family members book their own rooms but one person is responsible for payment.   Real-time Housekeeping Coordination with Just a Few Clicks On the Housekeeping dashboard, you can see clean rooms prioritized by time and urgency – starting with turnovers, then departures, stayovers, arrivals, and special requests. The room status is shown in real-time, housekeeping staff can mark a room as “clean” from any device and it will show live updates on the grid.  Preno also enables bulk room status updates in case a room attendant wants to finish a floor and mark it as complete to save time, for example.     Preno logs all room status updates, so you can see the change history of a specific room.   Easy to Use Rate Management Interface The rate module allows you to create and edit rate plans and add restrictions to certain rooms types and/or dates. You can enter rates manually in Preno or in a connected channel manager.  Preno has its own channel manager and also supports integrations with SiteMinder and Staah. Preno also has its own channel manager to streamline vendor billing and relationships.  If you’d prefer not to manage rates manually, Preno integrates with the revenue management system RoomPriceGenie.     Preno supports several restrictions, including minimum length of stay, closed to arrival, and closed departure. Closed to arrival and closed to departure restrictions can be used to control check-ins and check-outs on high-demand dates - a feature that more basic property management systems might not support. It’s also possible to create derived rate plans, such as promotional rates, which automatically apply a discount to your base rate.   Intuitive Reporting for Real-Time Insights Preno has a variety of reports that allow you to not only view historical and on-the-books performance, but also to input your own goals to monitor progress. For example, on the Revenue report, you can enter your target revenue for each month of the year, then you can track how you’re pacing toward those targets. You can set custom data ranges and customize certain reports to export and share or analyze the data further.     Additional reports show production by source (OTAs, corporate accounts), reconciliations, and chargebacks (available through Preno’s integration with Lightspeed POS).   Preno is a Powerful Hotel Management System for Independent Operators Who are Tired of Manual Administrative Work Preno is a solid property management system for small to medium sized boutique hotels with on-site management. The system works best for hotels with up to about 250 rooms and the fact that Preno has developed an all-in-one suite enables hoteliers to consolidate vendor relationships and software expenses. Preno has an abundance of tutorial videos and help center articles to guide you.  Preno is a great choice for hoteliers who are looking to upgrade a legacy system to something more modern, or for properties who want a reliable rock solid partner but don’t need the laundry list of features that come with expensive systems designed for large multi-property enterprises. Preno is so good that they don’t even lock clients into contracts. You can get started today and literally cancel whenever you’d like. So what are you waiting for?   This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.

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Here's How Luxury Hotels are Delivering Touchless Guest Journeys with Modern PMS Systems

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a property management system for your hotel business regardless of size but when you’re operating a high end hotel or resort with multiple outlets and other complexities - the challenge becomes even greater. A new property management system quickly becomes the nucleus of your hotel business operations which means it’s critical to be proactive instead of reactive when searching for a new vendor.  Rather than just arbitrarily choosing a vendor shortlist, begin by first mapping out your guest journeys and key touchpoints on property.  Having this on paper helps to clarify the feature functionality and requirements you’ll have which can then form your shortlist. There are lots of PMS products out there but while they share a (category) name, each system is designed for very different use cases and guest journeys.  Some property management systems are designed to be simple and cheap for sole proprietors and owner operators. Other systems are more complex and are designed to meet the needs of large multi-faceted or mixed use operations like luxury resorts and multi-property groups. In this article, we’ll cover the functionality needed to deliver a modern contactless guest journey at luxury hotels and resorts while sharing examples of how these demanding operators are using Maestro PMS features and integrations to map modern guest journeys.   Pre-Arrival: Between Booking and Check-In The guest journey begins before your guests even set foot in your lobby, so it’s essential to deliver a seamless booking and pre-arrival experience. When guests book in advance, there could be months of radio silence between their date of booking and check-in, which is valuable time that your hotel could be building a relationship with that guest. Furthermore, in the post-pandemic travel world, guests want more information about what they can expect when they arrive, so pre-arrival communication is crucial.   Maestro PMS’s mobile check-in module   Many guests will contact their hotel before arrival to confirm their reservation details, ask about amenity hours, book airport shuttles, and more. For example, Maestro’s Pre Check-in online registration functionality allows guests to share details about their arrival plans with the hotel in advance - anticipating their needs. Besides being contactless and efficient, this module can suggest upsell offers, confirm the guest’s contact info, and even arrange transportation to ensure a smooth arrival experience. When your hotel needs to gather more information about guests beforehand, like proof of vaccination, this intermediary step between booking and check-in is a worthwhile element to consider when thinking long-term about the guest journey. In addition to these important arrival details, guests often inquire about payment options - asking whether they’ve already paid, how to pay, and when to pay. Maestro  also offers an Online Prepayment Portal where guests can enter their payment information before they arrive. The system can handle multiple payment methods (making it easy to split payment among several guests) and even process prepayment if guests want to pay in full or put down a deposit. If a guest chooses to pay in advance, the Portal will immediately email a receipt to the guest. If an operation prefers to allow the guest to fully self-serve on their own personal devices, and provide the ability to check in prior to arrival, Maestro also offers a Mobile Check-In application, without forcing the guest to download a third party app (unless mobile key is required).  Guests can skip the front desk, check in to an assigned room number, and be directed via auto sms messaging to pick up their key or download an app to your choice of 3rd party mobile key integration.   Arrival: The Check-In Process Many of today’s guests want a different arrival experience than years past. Gone are the days when a front desk agent hands a guest a snack to enjoy during check-in and a paper registration card with an expensive pen (that might end up as a souvenir!). The modern guest wants a quick, contactless experience that will get them into their room with as little friction as possible. Starting with the registration process, hotels are increasingly going digital. Not only is a digital registration card more eco-friendly, it’s also faster (no printing!) and contactless (no pens!).  For larger luxury operators, digital registration also decreases bottlenecks and check-in/out lines.  It also frees up staff to focus on surprising and delighting guests rather than on performing administrative tasks. “Maestro’s contactless tools, such as online mobile registration, mobile check in, digital registration card, pre-payment portal, mobile express checkout, mobile spa & activities intake forms, and 2-way text messaging for guests are also proving to be invaluable to staff who prefer to put some distance between themselves and guests for personal safety. Adopting the latest mobile check-in tools is next on Benchmark Hotels & Resort’s list of considerations as the company evaluates guest experience demands at its properties,” says Anthony Gaeta, Benchmark SVP of Technology. Benchmark’s guests can easily complete their digital registration card on a tablet via Maestro. Soon, guests will be able to completely self serve on their own personal mobile device and fill in their registration cards before or upon arrival on-property, further speeding up the check-in process and reducing the possibility of errors. If the desire to complete the digital registration process with a mobile key integration is a must-have, there are many options with 3rd party mobile key apps to select from that integrate directly to your PMS.  These would replace traditional keycards, give guests access to guest rooms with their smartphones via high-tech keyless locks and complete the guest self-serve mobile check in experience, limiting the need for physical involvement with the front desk. Your PMS should integrate with popular third-party lock vendors like ASSA ABLOY and Dormakaba to offer keyless access to guest rooms. Not only can a mobile key option deliver a contactless and quicker check-in process, but it can also enhance the guest experience as guests will never need to return to the front desk for help with lost or deactivated key cards. Mobile check-in systems should accommodate rules for room assignment, payment validation, and room status just like those that a front desk agent would use. After completing the check-in process, guests can let themselves into their guestrooms at their convenience.   In-Stay: The Guest Experience and On-Site Operations Every luxury hotel, resort, and serviced condo operator should have guest messaging capabilities. Guest messaging allows your hotel to send text messages to guests and staff in stay. Text messages can be configured to automatically send to guests based on loyalty or VIP status, rate type, and more criteria to develop a personalized and automated communication flow. They can also be extended to allow for guest service fulfillment and maintenance management, creating a full circle experience for both guests and staff in an instant and digitized manner. “We get to know our guests and make their stay special while maintaining distancing. Guest Messaging helps Knob Hill Inn quickly adapt to changing conditions while consistently delivering individualized, top-rated guest experiences. For example, complimentary breakfast is a top feature for Knob Hill Inn guests. With pandemic-related dining room closures, guests were able to text their orders for in-room breakfast,” says Maestro client Alexandia Barnhardt, General Manager of Knob Hill Inn Sun Valley. In addition to guest messaging capabilities, modern PMS systems must integrate key outlets like spa and activities as well as food and beverage point of sale.   Post-Stay: Check-Out and Building Loyalty The check-out and post-stay experience is a critical one if you want guests to leave with good memories of their time at your luxury hotel or resort. When rushing to catch a flight or juggling a lot of luggage, the last thing guests want is to be held up in line at the front desk. Mobile express check-out is a popular hotel amenity today, especially given that the entire check-out process can be easily handled virtually. Self service check-out functionality allows guests to skip the front desk on their departure day, giving them a more relaxed departure experience and requiring less staff resources during busy check-out periods. Guests can review their folios, settle outstanding charges, and send a final bill to themselves via email all in a digital interface. One important component of an in-person check-out experience is gathering feedback about the guest’s stay, and you don’t want to sacrifice those insightful learnings when digitizing your check-out process. Luxury hotels should be thinking not just about Tripadvisor or OTA reviews for marketing purposes but should be gathering satisfaction data throughout the guest journey and based on the guests’ use of amenities and their preferences, in order to adjust service levels and recover any issues before guests even check out. Luxury hotel and resort operators with complex operations and multiple outlets (or properties) should seek out property management systems designed to meet the needs of their operations and guest journeys like the Maestro PMS suite of solutions.   This content was created collaboratively by Maestro and Hotel Tech Report.

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What is MTBF? Mean Time Between Failures in the Real Estate Industry

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Ever get the sense that your maintenance team is reactively making repairs as they pop up rather than proactively preventing those problems during downtime? It can get frustrating -- especially when it affects the guest experience and your hotel’s ability to make money on all available rooms. That’s why the Mean Time Between Failures, or MTBF, is an important maintenance management metric for hotel operators. This failure rate metric gives you a baseline prediction for how long mechanical and electrical systems will function in between repairs. These predictions put shape and structure around your near-term preventative maintenance plans and long-term capital expenditures. In this article, we're going to help you understand the importance of MTBF for efficient and profitable hotel operations. You'll learn what MTBF is, how to calculate MTBF and how to use MTBF in your hotel. We’ll also equip you with two other maintenance and reliability metrics that will reshape how you approach maintenance ops at your hotel!   What’s MTBF (+MTBF Calculation)? MTBF stands for the mean time between failures. It's the average period of time that equipment or electronic systems operate between failures. You can think of this as “uptime” or “useful time.” In other words, MTBF is a reliability metric!   To calculate MTBF, pull a failures report for a given system and then calculate the amount of time or period of time between each failure. Then, add up the total time between failures and divide by the total number of failures. Here’s an example for an in-room HVAC system:  -Starts February 1st, fails Feb 28th: 28 days -Starts April 1st, fails May 19th: 49 days -Starts May 23rd, fails July 4th: 42 days MTBF = (28+49+42)/3 = 39.67 days Most hotel systems will be calculated in days. For systems that require more precision, it may make sense to shorten the intervals to hours and minutes.  A perfect example of  the benefit of position is your laundry facility. A failure of one of your industrial-sized laundry machines during a peak period could really affect your ability to flip rooms and serve your guests. You could mitigate this risk by closely monitoring the MTBF of your machines to predict when they may need service outside of scheduled maintenance.  One thing to note: MTBF doesn't include the time it takes to make repairs and re-enter service. It’s only the time between when the equipment or electronic system enters service and when it fails. Repair time isn't an important thing to include because you’re really trying to get at the functional uptime and reliability of individual systems.  The MTBF value is an important step to increasing the lifespan of your physical assets through smart building and equipment management - but measurement is only the first step.   How to Use MTBF in Real Estate and Hotel Operations MTBF is an ally in optimizing your hotel’s operations. By monitoring the failure of mechanical and electronic systems, it keeps your preventive maintenance schedule on track, prevents problems from escalating, and extends the useful life of your capital expenditures. Preventative maintenance: MTBF is a key component of data-driven preventative maintenance. Continuing the example above, if you know that your average HVAC failure occurs every 39 days, you can proactively schedule your preventative maintenance and take the room out of service to avoid a negative guest experience. You can also budget internal labor and external resources accordingly so that you are not surprised by “unexpected” expenses that could actually have been predicted by the data. Identifying problematic equipment: MTBF also helps you optimize your operations by identifying areas of concern. If the MTBF of your in-room HVACs dips to 20 days, then that’s a problem! Either something is affecting your mechanical systems or they’re getting old and you need to allocate budget for upgrades. Either way, your profitability will quickly be impacted by overspending on repairs and taking too many rooms out of service.  Safety: Some areas of concern may actually be related to safety. While it's inconvenient to have no air conditioning in a guest room, it could be a safety issue when an elevator fails or a hot water heater breaks. MTBF helps you keep an eye on mission-critical and safety-related equipment. Extending useful life: Since it tracks the operational performance of mechanical and electronic systems, MTBF also helps you extend the useful lifetime value of your investments. The better you are at managing your assets, the stronger your profitability. It’s a simple fact that separates the best hotel operators from the rest.  Evaluating new tech: MTBF is a helpful criteria when choosing systems for your hotel. You should ask vendors for this metric and dick into how they calculated it. Then, talk to other hotels to verify that number. As we all know, equipment may not last as long as vendors predict! Once you have an idea of how long a TV, door lock, POS terminal, or other system lasts, you can plan accordingly.   Can MTBF Be Used for Non-Repairable Items? Great question! The answer is no. MTBF is used for items that can be repaired more than once. For items that must be replaced upon failure, such as light bulbs, we use Mean Time To Failure (MTTF). So if a light bulb fails every 5.6 years, then it's MTTF is 5.6 years. MTTF can be used for all kinds of single-use/non-repairable items across your property to make more precise expense forecasts, which then influence your forecasted capital investments and bottom-line profitability.   Other Maintenance Metrics for Hotels In addition to MTBF and MTTF, there are two other key metrics for managing preventative maintenance and extending the life of your equipment: MTTD is the mean time to detect, or the time that it takes your team to detect an issue once it's occurred. Thankfully, smart devices and connected systems detect issues in real-time, thus pushing MTTD  for certain systems to zero. Even so, you may want to encourage faster detection by tracking MTTD in your preventive maintenance plan, MTTR is the mean time to repair, or the time that it takes you to fix an issue once it's detected. This actually has a very real impact on hotel operations, as having rooms and other equipment out of service affects the guest experience and bottom-line profitability.  As a metric of efficiency and proactivity, your maintenance team should always strive to shorten the mean time to repair.   Getting Started With MTBF The first step is to start tracking failures. Your preventative maintenance software can do this for you or you can use a simple spreadsheet. These logs are essential to monitoring the time between failures; without that information, you can't optimize performance. If your team is not already in the habit of logging equipment issues, make it a priority to train everyone on the new system. They will need to log the time of failure and the time of repair completion so that you can calculate MTTR and MTBF. For non-repairable items, it would just be the time of failure for an accurate calculation of MTTF.   With those metrics, you’ll have much greater control over maintenance costs and repair times, which have a direct line to profitability and capital expenditures!

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Oracle’s Vision for Nor1: Double Down on Machine Learning and Attribute Based Selling in Hospitality

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Have you ever had a guest complain that their service level or room didn’t meet expectations? I was recently at a hotel where I paid for a premium ocean view on a special occasion but arrived to find that I was given the worst version of this room type with a severely obstructed view. This arrival experience was awful and despite the hotel making the situation right by upgrading us - there was an easier solution, more granular attribute-based selling.  When traveling by air, we can select our preferences down to the seat, row, and even pay a premium to bring heavier luggage.  Hotels are a bit behind on this front, but Oracle’s acquisition of Nor1 may prove to be a step in the right direction. In this article, we’ll talk about the trend towards attribute-based selling and walk through how this product combination may just be the solution the hospitality industry has been looking for.   What is Attribute-Based Selling? Let’s take a step back; what is attribute-based selling? In the traditional hotel booking model, a guest chooses a room type out of just a few options. Perhaps the guest could choose between a Standard Queen room, Deluxe Queen room, or Suite. Maybe every room includes parking and breakfast, but the guest needs to pay extra for a late check-out. But what if the guest really just wants a basic room, with no parking or breakfast, but needs a late check-out? Under the traditional model, the guest would be “paying” for parking and breakfast even though they aren’t using those amenities, and they might feel frustrated about paying for a late check-out. What’s the solution here? Enter attribute-based selling. If you’ve booked a flight in the last few years, you’re probably familiar with this model. Essentially, you only pay for the features you want, and you can pay extra for the amenities that really matter to you. At a hotel, for example, a guest would start with a basic room, then choose to upgrade to a king-size bed or add parking or breakfast - or not. Maybe the guest could even pay extra for a room on a high floor or for a late check-out. We can think of it as a sort of “unbundling” of all the components in a room type or rate plan. Not only does attribute-based selling allow the guest to truly customize their stay, this model allows hoteliers to more accurately forecast and track amenity usage (like parking and breakfast) and generate incremental revenue.   Understanding OPERA,  Nor1, and the Product Interaction Today We’ve established that Nor1 provides upselling solutions, but how does it work? Nor1’s products tie their upsell recommendations to data, pulling in details like length of stay, number of guests, guest history, arrival date, and more to tailor each offer to the individual guest. Nor1 offers products for each step of the guest’s journey: eStandby Upgrade: offers room upgrade requests and add-ons (like early check-in or attributes like a high floor location) at the time of booking. At this point, the guest can simply request an upgrade, but it won’t be confirmed until closer to their check-in date, or with no-cost integration to OPERA, the guest request can be automatically fulfilled with no interaction on the part of the hotel eXpress Upgrade: if the guest doesn’t accept the original upgrade offer, the system re-targets them. If the guest turns down the offer again, the system “learns” from the interaction to provide more relevant offers to future guests. The guest may also receive an another offer at check-in CheckIn Merchandising: gives front desk agents tools to offer and confirm room upgrades during check-in, plus offer add-ons like discounted drinks at the lobby bar or attributes like a balcony or a water view room. Oracle Hospitality provides products for hotels, resorts, casinos, restaurants, and more, and the company’s two flagship hospitality solutions are their property management system, OPERA, and their restaurant management system, Simphony. OPERA is either cloud-based or on-premise, and it has a slew of features like detailed guest profiles, loyalty tracking, advanced rate management, and a mobile version. Recently added to OPERA Cloud is a new Foundation level targeting  smaller, limited-service hotels which complements the existing functionality in OPERA for mid-size, full service properties.  Simphony, a point-of-sale system for restaurants, allows restaurateurs and employees to manage everything from online orders and digital menus to reservations and waitlists. So how do OPERA and Nor1 interact in a pre-arrival environment? Via the no-cost Nor1 OXI, OPERA feeds the reservation data that Nor1’s eStandby Upgrade and eXpress Upgrade need to make targeted, personalized upsell recommendations and to trigger offers that are sent to guests. In addition, front desk agents use Nor1’s CheckIn Merchandising solution during the check-in process to facilitate upsell offers, like room upgrades, by keeping CheckIn Merchandising open alongside OPERA.   Benefits the OPERA + Nor1 Combination Beyond Attribute Based Selling In this case, one plus one does not equal two; the sum of OPERA and Nor1 are greater than the individual components because of the benefits hoteliers can realize when the systems work together. Most importantly, Nor1’s entire upsell flow will integrate directly into the -OPERA  interface, which means staff will no longer need to switch between the two applications. Recommendations will also be more personalized because Nor1 can tap into richer data from the OPERA. The two systems can also deliver time savings by automating room assignments instead of manually assigning upsold rooms, plus Nor1 can get a more precise view into availability and can upsell more granularly based on the nuances of individual rooms. The two systems working in tandem will make upselling accessible to new market segments. Historically upselling has been cost-prohibitive for smaller hotels and delivered limited ROI in limited-service, midscale, and economy hotels. Not only will the out-of-pocket software cost and the staff needed to manage upsells decrease, but the systems are sophisticated enough to provide unique upselling options even at properties with limited F&B, on-site amenities, and room types. Oracle and Nor1 can also leverage Simphony, the restaurant management system, to offer unique and personalized food and beverage options for guests, and the guest behavior will prove advantageous in driving guest loyalty. For example, if Simphony knows that a guest orders a particular bottle of wine during every stay, then Nor1 could promote an upsell offer that includes that specific beverage choice. Another benefit, while less flashy than personalized upgrades, is that Nor1 can leverage Oracle’s massive investment in data management, security, and compliance. As a global, Fortune 100 company, Oracle’s resources are on a different level that a smaller company like Nor1 couldn’t gather on its own. Users of both companies can now benefit from peace of mind that their guests’ data will be secure. Ready to bring personalized upselling to your property? There’s no better time to implement a solid strategy than now, as you prepare to welcome guests again.   This content was created collaboratively by Oracle Hospitality and Hotel Tech Report.

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What is a CMMS? (+15 Best Vendors of 2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Hotels see a lot of wear and tear. And, when a hotel room is out of commission for maintenance, a property stands to lose a lot in revenue – by one estimate, a hotel loses $17,653 for every day the room is unavailable. Maintenance is a massive part of hotel and real estate operations, but it gets very little attention as compared to other functions of running a hospitality business. As a result, adding CMMS software to your preventive maintenance program can dramatically improve the maintenance operations efficiency and service of your hotel property – and ensure you don’t lose revenue due to an unresolved maintenance issue leading to asset downtime. Here’s what to look for in a work order system, as well as some popular software picks worth checking out.   What is a CMMS System? CMMS Stands for Computerized Maintenance Management System. A CMMS is designed for maintenance tasks at large businesses and is therefore often referred to as an EAM platform (enterprise asset management).  As such, they have features designed to manage maintenance teams and processes across the entire organization from start to finish.  The core value propositions of a CMMS are: (1) optimize operating efficiency through streamlining maintenance activities and (2) decrease maintenance costs through more effective inventory management. A CMMS is, at its core, a SaaS (software) database. In addition to digitizing the work order process described above, the CMMS will also have the capability to track resources and labor availability, register assets, automate the scheduling of preventative maintenance, track inventory, and provide reporting across maintenance categories.  Here's a quick checklist of CMMS features to give you an idea for what this software is capable of: Predictive maintenance: use data to automatically recommend upkeep like an HVAC servicing beyond basic maintenance schedules. Maintenance manager reports: real-time visibility into asset health across a structure or group of structures via easy-to-understand KPIs.  Asset performance and equipment downtime should be easy to understand for anyone in an organization. Maintenance history/track work orders: Logs of all changes or tasks completed related to an assets lifecycle. Maintenance strategy coaching: Most software companies in the CMMS space with with dozens or hundreds of other asset owners and should be able to provide insight into maintenance processes and best practices. In addition to making the maintenance workflow more efficient, CMMS tools provide more reliable uptime – meaning they help your team keep the lights on and the property running smoothly for as long as possible.   Understanding The Basics of Maintenance Software Work order software is a tool that creates, organizes, assigns, and tracks maintenance requests at a hotel property. This type of software is usually cloud-based and can route requests to mobile devices or stations around your property. It’s more efficient and accurate than managing work orders through pen and paper or via email.  Work order systems can do more than just send requests to the right maintenance staff. These tools let you track the status of the work order in real-time, and also provide reports and analytics to show you how well your maintenance management function is performing. Overall, adding work order software to your tech stack allows you to simplify the work order process. Generally, the work order process happens in three phases: creation, completion, and recording. The creation phase begins the work order process. Whether a maintenance task is planned (e.g., checking the hotel’s fire alarm system) or unplanned (e.g., fixing a burst pipe), a manager or staff member must identify the task for it to enter the system. Next, the request is created with added details such as level of priority, the person responsible for completing the task, the location where the maintenance is required, and – most importantly – the deadline. Next, the person assigned to the task (usually an engineer) completes the work requested. This could be as simple as reading a meter, checking a piece of equipment or as complicated as fixing a leak in the hotel pool. Once the maintenance work has been completed, the technician will log it as such in the work order system. A manager will sign off to validate the completion of the task or help find the resources needed if the task is incomplete.  Once the manager signs off on the completed task, the work order gets logged and archived for future reference. This record allows technicians to track on-site issues over time. For instance, if an HVAC system requires regular maintenance, the work order system can tell a technician the last time the system was serviced. Likewise, it can also alert your hotel when it’s time to replace old or worn-out equipment.   15 Best CMMS Vendors for Hotels 2021 The best work order software combines asset management and record-keeping with an efficient ticketing system and powerful reporting. Here are the top ten work order software platforms of 2021.   hotelkit Facility Management As a 2021 HotelTechAward winner, hotelkit is known for its robust communication platform and ease of use. The software supports a slew of hotel operations needs, including work orders, inspections, and walkthroughs. Staff members can submit work orders from their mobile devices, plus upload photos, then the request gets automatically triaged to the right team and tracked for accountability and reporting. For easy end-to-end operations, hotelkit integrates with many property management systems, like protel, Oracle’s OPERA PMS, and Mews. hotelkit offers a 30-day free trial, then the monthly subscription fee is charged on a per-room basis, making it suitable for hotels of any size.   ALICE Maintenance ALICE’s suite of services includes functionality for all aspects of hotel operations, from guest messaging to maintenance. The Preventative Maintenance module allows staff to submit and assign maintenance requests, track equipment usage or issues, and complete walkthrough checklists - all from their mobile devices. ALICE aims to minimize a hotel’s capital expenditures by making preventative maintenance part of the everyday routine; for example, seeing daily boiler pressure readings or spotting trends in maintenance requests can help you spot early warning signs of a larger facility issue so you can fix the problem before something catastrophic happens. ALICE is available with a monthly subscription fee, and it offers integrations with property management systems like OPERA and StayNTouch.   hub OS Maintenance This all-in-one operations management software supports not only maintenance requests but also housekeeping tasks, guest requests, walkthrough checklists, and reporting. hub OS’ maintenance module allows hoteliers to build and customize entire maintenance plans, with preventative indicators and trend monitoring to assist in spotting potential problems. The app also creates a calendar of scheduled maintenance tasks to comply with brand standards of local regulations, which then automatically generates work orders for the relevant teams. Since the app even works offline, using hub OS is easy anywhere and at any time, and it can use QR codes for quick identification of assets or locations. hub OS supports integrations with many property management systems, such as Mews and protel.   Flexkeeping (Maintenance) Created by a former housekeeper, Flexkeeping knows the ins and outs of hotel operations. Their maintenance management software follows four steps: report, fix, analyze, and prevent. The app allows any staff member to submit a maintenance request with photos and voice-to-text capability, then the appropriate team receives a notification so they can fix the issue as soon as possible. Flexkeeping also supports outsourced maintenance staff, so you don’t need to remember to pick up the phone to call a specialist. All tasks are tracked, and real-time reporting and analytics helps hoteliers spot trends and understand how maintenance issues affect guests and budgets. Hoteliers can try Flexkeeping for free for 30 days; after that, there is an implementation fee and a monthly subscription fee.   Transcendent Transcendent focuses on asset management and preventative maintenance, making it a great tool for hotel owners or asset managers working with multiple properties. Transcendent’s enterprise asset management dashboard tracks asset usage, issues expiration warnings, and houses documentation related to each asset to assist with capex planning and budgeting. The software also includes work order functionality, allowing staff members to submit maintenance requests and follow custom checklists for walkthroughs and inspections. Transcendent’s mobile app is available for iOS and Android, and it can read QR codes for easy access to information or task lists for a specific asset. Transcendent charges a monthly subscription per room, so it works for both small and large properties or hotel groups.   CHAMPS CMMS CHAMPS CMMS includes easy drag-and-drop functionality to help hotel teams schedule and manage maintenance tasks. Mobile compatibility with this cloud-based solution allows teams to work flexibly, providing real-time updates from anywhere on the property. CHAMPS also includes asset inventory and purchasing capability so that your team can create purchase orders for new materials or equipment.   Maxpanda CMMS Maxpanda gets high marks from reviewers for being a flexible CMMS solution. Automated scheduling allows teams to set up alerts for recurring maintenance tasks. Create work order requests for any type of maintenance request. Filter reports using different metrics, including job number, start and end date, completion status, or cost.   Hippo CMMS Hippo CMMS is one of the most affordable software options on the market. It’s a relatively straightforward system that allows users to keep track of multiple work orders throughout the work order process. Hippo also provides a function where technicians can attach photos or documents to the order record for future reference.  Limble CMMS  Limble CMMS is an award-winning tool that claims to help customers capture a 30% boost in overall communication and productivity. The app is compatible with iOS and Android and provides features to streamline work orders, improve communication, manage assets and inventory, and generate reports.   Accruent Accruent, formerly known as Maintenance Connection, is one of the top-rated CMMS options for hotels. This tool’s mobile CMMS lets technicians and managers take their management tasks on the go – so anywhere on the property, a work order can be assigned and accepted. Plus, its reporting feature includes over 200 report template types to help your team set benchmarks, monitor work, and identify obstacles in your workflow.   ManagerPlus Managing maintenance at multiple properties? ManagerPlus might be the right option for your hotel. ManagerPlus’s asset management feature allows you to track equipment across multiple locations – so if one property borrows a tool from another, it won’t go missing. This powerful tool also provides a way to manage suppliers and other contractors directly within the software, keeping communications in one place so there’s no confusion or additional back-and-forth over email.   eMaint CMMS eMaint is great for international hotel brands; it offers multilingual support in Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Hungarian, Polish, Italian and English. If you’re working on a large maintenance project, consider taking advantage of this tool’s document storage functionality. eMaint’s online PDF editor stores your work permits, work order records, asset profiles, and more.   Upkeep Reviewers say that Upkeep CMMS is a well-rounded, simple work order management tool. It provides everything you need to streamline maintenance at your hotel: work order creation, management, and racking with automated processes built-in and several different reporting tools. It also allows you to send push notifications and alerts if there’s an urgent maintenance need on-site.   MaintainX MaintainX gives you the chance to try the tool for free, so if you’re not sure if CMMS is right for your hotel, start here. In addition to your standard work order features, MaintainX has a built-in messaging tool that lets you comment, message, and save communication around a particular work order request. You can also upload photos to verify work completion – a nice feature if you don’t have a manager available to check that the job is done.   Fiix Fiix is another CMMS option that offers a free version. Users say that Fiix CMMS makes it easy to track maintenance and work orders, and that it’s easy to see what the status of each task is.  The free version gives you access to the mobile app with some onboarding, asset tagging, and push notifications. It also gives you a calendar and dashboard to track ongoing maintenance.    Learn more about preventative maintenance software and how work order systems can integrate with your hotel’s technology in our guide to preventive maintenance software.

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4 Common Hospitality Tech Stack Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them)

by
Matthew Lynch
2 months ago

In the age of technology, connectivity is critical to property and brand-wide success—and it affects every aspect of rising industry trends around security and mobile payments. To find the right vendors and put the right tech in place, you need the right information. You need to know how the tech you’re looking at is going to integrate with the systems you already have in place. So before anything else, view the tech through the lens of your SOPs. What would a day in the life of your staff look like? Are there significant gaps in functionality or connectivity? If so, it’s a no-go right from the start. If not, it’s time to dig into specifics. Here are four key pitfalls for hoteliers to know and avoid in order to find success:   1. Hotels have more technology than ever—and when systems don’t communicate, the business consequences can be devastating. Between your PMS, POS, and staff collaboration tools, there’s plenty to worry about. Add in guest-facing tech and hotels can suddenly have more different solutions than time to sift through them. And if a single cog in the machine isn’t working in conjunction with other things, it can be a disaster for operations. Before signing up with a new vendor, make sure what they’re offering will integrate with the critical systems your property already uses on a daily basis. Your tech should maximize your staff’s efficiency, not add extra stress or unnecessary steps. To further ensure a quality integration, look for a vendor that builds their integrations directly. A more advanced integration is much more likely to be certified or otherwise validated by others.   2. When operations suffer due to bad integrations and siloed data, the guest experience suffers as well. When systems don’t communicate, information is either duplicated or never shared at all causing guest requests to never get fulfilled or get fulfilled twice. And this isn’t something staff can be expected to handle or track. The reality is, many simpler integrations pass less information which creates a shallow and less efficient system. Make sure you are getting integrations with depth—the more information your systems can share the better. If you want to ensure the vendor you are looking at has effective integration and consistent guest satisfaction, go to the source. Ask to speak to a customer who is currently using the integrations you need. Get your questions answered by someone who can vouch for how things affect the guest experience and day-to-day operations.   3. Security is absolutely essential to connectivity. Here’s what to watch out for on that front.  If a vendor declines a security audit, there’s a reason. A good place to start is by asking if their integrations meet industry standards from organizations like HTNG (Hospitality Technology Next Generation) or OTA (OpenTravel Alliance). Are they directly involved with those industry organizations? And find out if they have regular security audits. No confident vendor declines a security audit. They aren’t easy for anyone, but they’re necessary and they exist for a reason. You need to know if their system is secure. Declining an audit is a huge problem and an indicator a vendor may not be all they say they are. Seasoned vendors will understand that request from the beginning.   4. Payments are among the highest levels of integration to achieve and the thing everyone wants right now. Payments are the most in-demand integration: are the vendors you’re looking at prepared? If a vendor has payments capabilities right now, that’s an indicator they’re advanced and up to speed on the latest developments in hospitality. Ask: Do they process or facilitate mobile payments—namely, do they leverage a PCI-compliant payment gateway that has authorization and settlement capabilities specifically for lodging? If they do, huge green light. If not, a little worrying. Beyond the overall importance of connectivity and how it affects trends like security and payments, buyers should be looking for a trustworthy vendor above all else, and knowing which questions to ask during the buying process plays a key role in determining that. So there you have it: those are some of the red flags you should be watching for—but what are the green flags? If you want to find a vendor partner that goes above and beyond, there are two quick things to check for: a dedicated team for integrations and a product roadmap that demonstrates ongoing commitment to innovation. If a vendor has both of those things, they’re likely not just good at what they do, but great at it. For more in-depth vendor questions, check out 10 Questions to Ask Vendors Before Your Next Purchase.