Let us find your solution

News & Analysis

Insights and advice from the HTR team to find the best technology to grow your hotel business

Hotel Operations Software Articles

What is RFID Technology? (+Use Cases in the Hotel Industry)

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 days ago

Wondering what RFID technology is? Even if you’re not familiar with the acronym, chances are you use RFID technology in your everyday life without even realizing it. RFID is a key component for IOT (internet of things) connectivity.  Do you have a pass for your parking garage or a fob to access the gym? Or maybe you’ve accidentally triggered the security alarm when leaving a store because the security tag was still attached? These are all examples of RFID in use, but they’re not the only use cases for this versatile technology. RFID has real-world applications across many businesses such as industrial supply chain manufacturers, retailers, theme parks, and even cruise lines.  In this article, we’ll explain what exactly RFID technology is, study some interesting examples of RFID technology in hospitality businesses, and explore some innovative ways hoteliers can use RFID to deliver better guest experience and operate more efficiently. What is RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)? An RFID system is simply a cost- effective technology that uses radio waves to send a signal from a chip to a receiver.  RFID stands for radio-frequency identification, and this type of wireless technology involves two parts: a tag and a receiver. The tag contains a microchip with a unique code, and the receiver contains components to process the signal transmitted by the tag. Tags can be either passive (no battery, activated by the receiver) or active RFID tags (battery-power source, emits a signal that the receiver picks up). RFID tags are very small but can contain a lot of information ranging from identification numbers to pages of text; they are often embedded in merchandise tags, key fobs, name badges, credit cards, and even pets! In a clothing store, for example, an employee could use an RFID reader to scan tag-embedded merchandise to instantly see more information about the item or ring it up at the check-out, similar to how a barcode is used. There are different types of RFID tags writes the RFID journal, "In general, low-frequency and high-frequency range tags are read from within three feet (1 meter) and UHF RFID tags (ultra-high frequency) are read from 10 to 20 feet. Readers with phased array antennas can increase the read range of semi-passive RFID tags to 60 feet or more."  Read range can also vary depending on environmental factors that effect the strength of radio signals. Although RFID technology isn’t new (it was patented in the 1970s), its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years as the technology became cheaper and more applications were developed. Depending on the type of tags and readers, RFID technology can be adapted to a wide variety of industries. In healthcare, RFID tags are used to keep track of prescription medication to ensure they don’t end up in the wrong hands. In-car manufacturing, RFID tags are attached to parts to monitor their progress along the assembly line. And in office buildings, RFID tags allow employees to enter the building or a specific floor with a wave of their name badge while keeping the doors locked to outsiders. RFID Applications in the Hospitality Industry It’s no surprise that hospitality businesses want to take advantage of RFID technology too, especially when it offers speed, security, and a high-tech touch.  Hotel and travel businesses usually begin by leveraging technologies like RFID for access control systems and asset tracking.  Due to the pandemic, contactless guest journeys have increased uptake of RFID, Bluetooth and NFC (nearfield communication) technology. Let’s explore how Disney, Coachella Music Festival, and Royal Caribbean use RFID technology to enhance their guest experiences. Disney’s MagicBand ticketing solution Paper tickets for Disneyland are a thing of the past thanks to the RFID-powered “MagicBand” system that Disney rolled out in 2013. The MagicBands are plastic wristbands embedded with an RFID chip that guests can use to enter their room at a Disney resort, gain access to theme park attractions, charge food and beverage purchases to your account, and more. Before MagicBand, guests would need to juggle room keys, theme park tickets, credit cards, and cash, but the MagicBand consolidates all of those functions into one device. Throughout Disney resorts and parks, guests can access surprise features by tapping their MagicBands at specific touch points. Besides pure functionality, Disney also turned the MagicBand into a marketing vehicle; Disney fans can purchase MagicBands in their favorite color or emblazoned with their favorite animated character. RFID wristbands at Coachella At a music festival, the last thing you want to do is wait in long lines. And festival organizers are always seeking ways to improve security and catch counterfeit tickets. Seeing an opportunity to meet all of these objectives, Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival rolled out an RFID wristband solution that allows faster entry into the festival and eliminates the risk of counterfeiting. Coachella even went one step further than smart cards by placing the chips on wristbands.  Festival-goers are issued wristbands embedded with RFID chips that each have a unique identifier, meaning that it’s essentially impossible to copy them. Instead of security staff scrutinizing every paper ticket upon entry, attendees simply scan their wristbands at RFID readers at the festival entrances to gain nearly instantaneous access. The readers can process many more attendees per hour compared to the traditional entrance process, which means Coachella’s music lovers can get to their favorite stages faster. How can hotels use RFID technology? Due to its relatively low cost, ease of use, and potential for operational efficiency, RFID technology can be an attractive solution for hoteliers looking to elevate their guest experience. But how, specifically, can RFID deliver value to your hotel? Door locks: One of the most popular use cases for RFID technology is guestroom entry. Compared to a traditional keycard, RFID-equipped cards offer hoteliers more control over security. Front desk staff can activate and deactivate cards remotely and review logs to see where and when a card was used. From a guest’s perspective, RFID keycards are easier to use than traditional credit card-style keycards (simply wave it in front of the door lock transponder to open the door), and the ability to deactivate lost RFID key cards gives guests peace of mind.  RFID cards can also be more cost-effective in the long term as they don't get demagnetized. Controlled amenity access: Besides granting entry to guestrooms, hoteliers can also use RFID technology to control access to amenities, parking, event spaces, and more. If a guest did not pay for parking, for example, the front desk agent could deactivate access to the parking garage on the guest’s key card. Or if the guest booked a club-level room, access to the executive lounge can be enabled on their key card. On-site payments: Outlets like restaurants, bars, and spas can use RFID technology to streamline the payment process. If guests have RFID-enabled keycard that contain payment information or room-charge information, guests can simply pay with their keycard. By eliminating cash and credit cards from outlets, the risk of theft or declined transactions decreases and each transaction takes less time. Inventory management: In addition to key cards, RFID tags can be embedded on physical items in the hotel to assist in inventory management. For example, RFID tags on minibar items can alert hotel staff to low stock rather than tasking housekeeping staff with monitoring stock levels. Or RFID tags attached to employee uniforms or linens can help hotels keep track of laundry processes and know when to order more. Theft prevention: Most hoteliers have a line item in their budget to account for replacement of stolen items like pillows, hair dryers, and dishes. RFID chips on these frequent “souvenirs” can tell hotel staff when an item has left the building and give them the opportunity to recover the stolen item. Do you have any questions about RFID technology in hotels? Let us know!  

2021 Tips, Trends and Challenges for Modern Hoteliers

by
Peter Ferris
1 month ago

2021 represents a travel and technology revolution for hoteliers worldwide as they navigate the road to recovery and adapt their strategies to meet guests’ evolving needs.  With the pandemic still widespread across many parts of the world, and the industry still bruised from a prolonged dip, 2021 is all about preparation, adaptation and delivery. There is no post-pandemic at this moment in time; instead, the focus needs to be on redefining your offering to meet the 2021 standards. With hospitality technology advancing more rapidly than ever in response to this shifting landscape, operators need to re-evaluate their tech stack, ensuring they are equipped with the right tools to operate in a post-2020 world.    Adapting to meet guest’s needs The first key pillar of recalibration is the guest journey; travelling amid a pandemic led to a surge in staycations, an acceleration of last-minute bookings and a big drop in business travel. In 2021, the trends and pandemic-induced sentiments of guests are likely to remain a while longer, with many maintaining an appetite for domestic travel and local experiences, preferring to book directly and choosing to stay longer, particularly those on ‘workation.’ Attract guests by sending hyper-targeted marketing campaigns to those within driving distance, uplevel your services with on-trend offerings such as contactless food delivery and update your internet booking engine to deliver a seamless direct booking experience. Multi-property managers should also consider switching to an enterprise solution, which gives you access to meaningful data insights on guest behaviour pre-pandemic. Armed with this information helps you to identify behavioural patterns and puts you in a position to lure them back when the situation eases.   Optimising revenue performance The disruption that rocked hospitality businesses in 2020 has been carried over to 2021, which means properties need to be savvier, more integrated and adaptive to sudden changes. A data-driven approach that prioritises real-time evidence and artificial intelligence over historical data will help properties forecast and deliver an accurate pricing strategy, while also giving them ample room to pivot should booking patterns suddenly change. Properties should therefore be implementing a dynamic revenue strategy that can intuitively adapt prices to maximise profit at every opportunity.   Pivoting business models with fluid inventory Another trend we’ve observed is that some hoteliers are looking at alternative market segments to pitch to, those that require longer stays, such as students and residents. We’ve defined this concept as “fluid inventory,” which is focused on helping them pivot their business to adapt to further market shifts and reconfigure their inventory to long-term in the event of another short-term market collapse. RMS has the building blocks within its technology infrastructure to support this new and innovative approach; at the same time, we’re thinking beyond those markets (such as students) who are also impacted by the ongoing travel restrictions. The question every hotelier should be asking themselves is what’s next for your inventory?   Utilising technology to satisfy demand Technology is the backbone that holds everything together. Contactless tech, for example, will be expected if not demanded by guests in 2021, and has a multitude of advantages; operators can set up COVID declarations, pre-check-in/check-out and an instant messaging centre in a customer-facing app, streamlining the guest journey at the earliest possible stage. Technology in the form of an app also comes at no big expense; look to your tech vendor to see what other products they have at their fingertips to support you.  An intuitive PMS system will also help you identify hidden pockets of revenue, such as native channel managers, guest portals and internet booking engines, reducing your dependency on third-party products. Customising your PMS will ensure you are implementing the right tech, interfacing with the right partners and tailoring your guest offerings in a way that suits your specific business needs. Building your perfect technology ecosystem is more important than ever before, in allowing you to meet guests’ needs, fine-tune your pricing strategy and effectively manage your business with minimal input. Read our full trends and challenges report for further insight into what to expect, prepare for and implement in 2021.  

7 Ways Technology Helps Noble House Hotels & Resorts Cope with Volatility

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 days ago

During a pandemic that’s decimated worldwide travel demand, many hotels have been stretched thin and are operating lean. Survival depends on carefully controlling costs and minimizing unnecessary expenses. It's a challenging time that has forced tough decisions in a bid to make it through to the other side of the pandemic. A major part of the COVID balancing act has been maintaining service standards with fewer employees on hand while reorienting operations around a contactless guest experience. Technology is front-and-center, as it enables hotels to do more with less and provide safer experiences during the worldwide pandemic. The impact of technology on hotels has been transformative. Not only will hotels emerge on the other side of this pandemic with greater efficiency, but the guest experience will also be more convenient and personalized.   To hear about this experience firsthand, ALICE Creative Director Sean Cohen recently talked with Steven Marais, Corporate Rooms Director for Noble House Hotels & Resorts, who’s currently acting GM of one of the hotel group’s 18 assets. Steven offers a firsthand account of how technology has helped a hotel beset by wildfires, COVID, weekly changes in regulations, and fluctuating occupancies.  Here are some key boots-on-the-ground insights on how to best leverage technology as a transformative ally at your hotel.   Tech Enables Success Amidst Shifting Roles Hoteliers are familiar with wearing many hats. Each day presents new challenges when managing a hotel. Managers may have to step in for a sick team member or deliver items to a room during an overnight shift. It’s all hands on deck to do what needs to be done to operate the property smoothly, successfully, and profitably. One of the best uses of technology is to tackle the many hats syndrome. Technology reduces the burden of “too many tasks, so little time.” It alleviates or eliminates those repetitive tasks (like manual entry and paperwork) so that there's more time left in the day for more impactful work.  By moving rote tasks to technology and refocusing energy on the highest-impact task, your property can enhance not only the guest experience but also the staff experience. Work becomes more interesting and high-impact, with stronger collaboration and less confusion. It’s transformational to how your staff works together and serves guests.   Great Tech Companies Are Long Term Partners One of the issues when it comes to deploying new technologies is that it is easy to focus too much on the deployment of new tools and less on the proper usage of the existing technology, Steven points out: “Before we look at what technology we need, why don't we take a look at what technology we have first and then look at all the mediocrities.” Over time, usage tends to degrade and bad habits crystallize. Steven uses the example of the front desk emailing a screenshot of a folio to the guest  --  it may sound dated, but you'd be surprised at how many workarounds exist at the average property, he continued: “It exists because somebody said, you know what, let's just do it this way because we have no time to fix it.” If there’s a silver lining to the pandemic, it’s this: there’s time to fix deeply embedded bad habits. There's space to make sure that your team is using existing technology to its fullest extent.  There's also space to identify gaps in operations and guest experience that could be bridged by new technology. You have time to set up the technology to save you time.   Integrations Continue to Make Work Easier Successfully harnessing the transformative power of technology comes from properly matching the problem to the solution. It’s about choosing the right technology for your property is unique needs, Steven says: “Technology needs to integrate and make our life easier, rather than it making our lives harder.  Working smarter, not working harder. Technology really can help. It's just that we need to put the effort in and front-load work [when choosing new technology].”   Dynamic Guest Communications Strategies are Emerging In a rapidly shifting environment, guest communications must be dynamic and adaptable. Hotels have to be especially nimble and able to clearly communicate the latest local requirements and expectations. It requires a cohesive communications strategy, Steven says: “Things are ever-changing [so] the traditional confirmation letter is not working anymore. We need the pre-arrival text; we need the app automated arrival message; we need to communicate at check-in. We need to set the expectation ahead of time.” Another guest expectation is a more convenient checkout experience. This expectation accelerated during the pandemic as guests want to avoid congregating at the front desk. To provide a better, safer guest experience (and adjust to less staffing), Noble automatically sends messages to guests anytime occupancy is over 80%: “It’s been a game-changer to be able to change your automated messages on the fly. We’ll send an automated message that says, “Tomorrow's a very busy checkout day. If you want to skip the desk and participate in contactless checkout, send us your email when you're ready to check out.” About 80% of guests check out that way. It's unbelievable how that little piece of communication just changed behavior, but it's expected: nobody wants to go to a crowded front desk right now. And there's probably only one person at the desk and maybe a manager.” Another pandemic-fueled guest communications trend is the shift to text messaging over email. With technology enabling texting at scale, it has become the preferred channel for most guests - even at higher-end properties, which has played out across ALICE’s clients: “They're finding that people are not responding to emails that they send. But you can text guests and they're pretty responsive to it. It's a method of communication that the guests like. A year ago, there was some apprehension, particularly with some more upscale hotels, that all of their guests would be receptive.”   Tech Helps Hotel Operators Cope with Volatility In addition to navigating the pandemic, Noble House also faced another unexpected challenge in 2020: wildfires. With occupancy at 5%, the hotel filled up within two hours -- and this was while everyone slept overnight. It required the staff to be flexible over an extended period, Steven shared: “It was a journey. It lasted about two or three weeks and then it was ongoing because we had the LNU Lightning Complex Fire. And then we had the Glass Fire. Just one after another.” The nature of the evacuation led to some operational challenges, with rooms getting “pretty bad” as guests had dogs and things they had brought from home when evacuating. With fewer housekeeping resources, the property had to leverage its technology, optimizing room assignments and maintaining their property as best they could. The challenges of labor allocation have been exacerbated by the pandemic’s erratic demand, where occupancy falls on weekdays and jumps every weekend. That makes it hard to align labor with demand, especially when already short-staffed: “Hotels are not meant to go zero to 100 every Friday, Saturday. It’s not sustainable. We're such a lean operation and if it continues for the next year, then we have to rethink our staffing guides. We may see less full-time and more part-time [to accommodate demand fluctuations.]” The lesson here is that superb operators need effective and agile tools to run a lean hotel in an adverse and unpredictable marketplace. These tools are levers to give hotel operations more control to pivot and adapt quickly as things change.   Digital Tools are the Connective Tissue Between Corporate and On-Property Technology collapses the distance between corporate and property. It connects managers with a real-time view into an operation, from anywhere in the world. Obviously, during a pandemic when social distancing is required, this is a major plus. And in normal times, it means that properties can be managed more efficiently with less manual oversight. Efficiencies are especially valuable when it comes to preventative maintenance (PM), a complicated process for larger hotel groups. The vision is complete automation by directly connecting corporate systems with the maintenance platform, Steven explains: The engineers get assigned the PM for the day. If they don't finish, it rolls over to the next day. Once they finish, it's triggered into ALICE and we have the reporting of when it was done. Eventually, that's going to be automated, so it will be sent to corporate at the end of every month, rather than them having to scan and send every day, every month. The more automation we do on that front, the better.   Technology Puts Personalization in Autopilot The last takeaway from Noble House’s technology transformation is that it’s important to try new things and see how they may improve operations. “It’s just how we have always done things” is no longer an answer, Steven says: “The hotel industry can be very scared to try something new because this is the way it's always worked. The frustration is coming from hoteliers that never used the problem-solving skills that we’re so known for in the hotel industry to solve technology. Because once we don't understand it, and two, a Post-it note “works better.” These technologies will provide even deeper benefits for hoteliers, Steven notes, as hotels begin to leverage guest data to personalize the guest experience in ways that make guests more loyal and satisfied: “In 10 years, I think personalized service will elevate to a way different level. We’re going to go back to our roots of hospitality. We're going to use technology to seamlessly communicate real-time information our teams learn about our guests throughout their stay. Front Desk will be able to one-click communicate at check-in to our F&B team that, ‘Mr. Smith let us know at check-in that he likes microbrews’ and it’s added to his profile for future curated stays all in one go.” It'll get to the point where it's so streamlined, it hits every single guest…to the point where we just don't even think about technology anymore. It just works for us.” There’s no “silver bullet” technology. It’s a mix of industrial-strength best practices, battle-tested operations tools that automate and augment operations (like ALICE), and localized customizations across communications, operations, and corporate. This potent mix will help our industry thrive and emerge more robust than ever after this pandemic finally recedes.     This content was created collaboratively by ALICE and Hotel Tech Report.  

The 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Each year Hotel Tech Report surveys thousands of industry insiders to find the best hotel tech jobs and employers globally. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the hotel industry.  The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 121 million of the 330 million jobs tied to tourism around the world will be lost in 2020.  Despite existential challenges, hotels and their vendors have proven resilient in the face of the biggest challenge ever posed to the hospitality industry by working together. But there’s always opportunity in crisis.  The pandemic has advanced digitization in the global economy by at least 5 years according to most experts.  Hotels that already had adopted technology like contactless check-in and guest messaging software have had a massive advantage since the pandemic broke out and the importance of technology for running a successful hotel business will continue to rise over the coming years meaning that demand for hotel technology talent will grow with it. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we’ve interviewed countless hoteliers about their journeys from being hoteliers into lucrative technology careers like Del Ross, Marco Benvenuti, Sameer Umar, and Kevin Brown. For hoteliers furloughed on the sidelines, there is an unprecedented opportunity to pivot into a technology career leveraging skills and knowledge from hospitality experience.   But which hotel tech companies should you apply to? Every year we do the hard work for you and survey thousands of hotel tech professionals to find the best companies to work for in the hospitality industry. We ask respondents to rate their employers from 1-10 on these key variables:  Work-life balance Personal development opportunities Gender equality Confidence in company direction Values alignment 2021 Bonus Question: Rate your firm’s COVD-19 crisis response Hotel Tech Report creates this list each year for two reasons: (1) to help industry professionals find the best hospitality tech jobs and (2) to help hotel tech buyers understand that it’s just as important to partner with great organizations as it is to find great software tools and products. Vendor culture is important to every aspect of a vendor relationship: Product: Great workplaces attract the best talent who make the best products Customer Support: Happy client reps give better service and stay around longer developing deeper relationships. Sales: When a sales team has high turnover, innovation gets strangled because there isn’t enough cash coming in the door to invest in innovation. Our 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech list features companies who foster wonderful work environments for employees.  In return, those employees deliver incredible products and services to clients. Without further adieu here are 2021’s 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech…     10. Siteminder (TIE) Right before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, industry leader Siteminder reached an incredible milestone earning itself unicorn status.  Under the stewardship of CEO Sankar Narayan the firm quickly composed itself when the pandemic broke out and began rolling out initiatives to support both employees and customers like its World Hotel Index sharing real-time data with the industry when historical data just wouldn’t cut it.  Siteminder has an internal slack channel called #stayingsocial dedicated strictly to team members having a social communal space in the age of remote work.  This is pretty typical for a small startup but much rarer in the world of 700 employee behemoths.  The great part about working at a large startup-like Siteminder is that there’s almost limitless upward mobility according to one employee working in operations at the firm, “They allow me opportunities to take on more responsibilities that are even beyond my scope to develop my skills and prep me up for bigger roles. They also give leadership training to enhance to continue developing my capabilities.”  If you’re looking for a fast-paced global startup on a world domination path - then you should absolutely be dropping a resume at Siteminder.  The best part is that they’ve got offices all around the world so even if you prefer the WFH life your colleagues shouldn’t be too far away no matter where you call home.     10. Atomize (TIE) This is Atomize’s first time making Hotel Tech Report’s annual Best Places to Work list but we doubt it will be their last.  In true Swedish fashion Atomize rates amongst the highest on the list for gender equality with a 50% ratio of men to women on its leadership team.  Atomize also rates very highly for culture alignment with a score of 97.8%.  Perhaps the biggest standout for Atomize was how highly employees rated the firm’s COVID-19 response and support for clients during a crisis.  “Everyone from finance to product development has chipped in to try to support clients. We have for instance developed a relief-program for those that are hurting really bad, we have updated the product to amend for the large drop in occupancy for hotels, etc,” one Atomize executive told Hotel Tech Report.  Atomize made it through COVID-19 without a single layoff which is a testament to the longevity of the business and its and commitment to team members.  During the crisis Atomize stayed calm, launched the 2.0 version of their core RMS product, and even found time to bring the team together for a BBQ this summer during a slow down in transmission rates.     9. Hotel Effectiveness Georgia (the U.S. state not the country) based Hotel Effectiveness is in the business of helping hotel owners more efficiently manage labor but the question is: how well do they manage their own labor? It turns out they do a pretty darned good job at fostering internal culture.  Prior to the pandemic labor costs were the biggest focus area for most hotel ownership and management groups - despite the shift in focus Hotel Effectiveness managed to grow through the pandemic all while placing a heavy emphasis on quality of life for employees.  Team members cite a high percentage of employees being groomed from junior roles into leadership positions, flexible PTO programs, and strong opportunities for women.  PTO is great but Hotel Effectiveness management goes one step further where they encourage team members to completely unplug and not even check email during their vacation.  Adding icing to the cake, employees raved about the firm’s response to COVID-19 where it was able to grow without any layoffs needed.  One engineer raved about the Company’s COVID-19 response, “Hotel Effectiveness immediately shifted priorities specifically to address the changing needs of our clients. Hotel Effectiveness provided new guidance materials, payment options, and built new features (such as Daily Wellness Check-In) under tight deadlines to meet the new needs of our customers.”     8. EasyWay Big congrats to the first-ever Israeli startup to make this list!  If you’ve ever been to Tel Aviv or the Start-up Nation (Israel), perhaps a job interview with EasyWay is the excuse you needed to visit one of the most amazing cities in the world packed with beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a foodie scene that’s truly in a league of its own.  EasyWay is the quintessential startup with a mentality that so long as you hit your KPIs - the rest of your life is totally flexible.  An EasyWay executive’s quote to Hotel Tech Report about the last 12-months at the company says it all, “The work around the clock in the COVID-19 time was crazy.  We have developed so much stuff, that I almost miss this period. We've learned a lot from that, and staid on our feet! The rest of the team was great and it really gave me confidence in my own abilities.  If you're the kind of person who likes to work hard and play hard - you’d be wise to check out EasyWay’s open positions.      7. Asksuite This is Asksuite’s second year making the list and true to their commercial team’s motto “rockets don’t have reverse”, even a pandemic couldn’t slow down this high flying Brazilian startup.  Florianopolis may not be a hotel tech hub (yet) but the Asksuite team has access to lessons in language, hospitality and other training to upskill their way into global domination.  During the pandemic, leaders have made themselves available for 1:1 meetings to support all colleagues and perhaps it’s this close communication that leads Asksuite employees to rate 98% confidence in the future success of the firm.  Asksuite employees frequently cite an onboarding process that makes all team members feel like a part of the family in short order.     6. RoomRaccoon Despite the pandemic RoomRaccoon doubled the firm’s headcount in 2020 and achieved a major milestone in reaching 1,000 clients.  Employees frequently cite similar aspects of the culture as differentiators like their annual international week at the Netherlands headquarters and an inclusive onboarding program.  One employee within the marketing department told Hotel Tech Report, “This year RoomRaccoon decided to start hiring more new colleagues against the market trend of furlough and letting people go. To smoothen the onboarding process of our new hires we've created an E-learning program and two intensive onboarding weeks. So far we've onboarded 15 new hires since July 2020 that immediately are getting results. Something I'm really proud of!”  If you’re looking for an ambitious organization with a strong remote culture and complementary annual trips to the Netherlands - don’t hesitate and check out open listings at RoomRaccoon.     5. Alliants The Alliants story is the cure to the common venture funded business gone wrong story.  Alliants built the business developing custom software for ultra luxury hotel brands like Four Season and Jumeirah before ever dipping their toes into the SaaS world.  That means they’ve got killer products, an eye for design and engineering to back it up.  Starting in a consultative role for luxury brands has afforded Alliants a luxury not many early stage SaaS products have - cash flow.  How would this impact you when you apply for a role there?  Alliants employees are given a $5,000 stipend to invest in their own education and training.  Whether it’s a paid marketing course or intro to Ruby on Rails - at Alliants you will be able to create your own journey and take control of your destiny.  Have you ever had a boss block your calendar so people can’t book meetings with you? Well, Alliants employees have.  During winter months with less daylight, CEO Tristan Gadsby blocked the entire team’s calendars from 11:30am - 1:30pm to encourage team members to get outside, walk or simply catch some rays.  If that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will.     4. ALICE This ain’t ALICE’s first rodeo, well it’s their fourth if we want to be precise about it.  ALICE has made Hotel Tech Report’s Best Places to Work list 4 years in a row (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021).  ALICE is an incredible place to work for former hoteliers because employees truly act as a strategic extension of their partner properties.  During the pandemic, ALICE quickly pivoted to rollout closure checklists and other free assets to help partners quickly reconfigure their operations for the new normal.  “The most memorable achievement while working at ALICE this past year was being able to provide support for our employees during the pandemic. The pandemic-related fatigue and anxiety impacted everyone and in different ways. We were able to provide support to our employees through group therapy sessions, health and wellness initiatives, increased one-on-one check-ins regarding fatigue, increased opportunities for learning and connection with one another virtually. I am so proud of how the leadership at ALICE has led us through the most difficult time in our industry's history, and with such care for both our customers, our industry as a whole, and our employees,” says one ALICE team member in an HR role.  Just as important as supporting clients through COVID-19 is supporting colleagues.  ALICE team members were constantly comforted that management understood the stress and challenges they were facing during this historic yet tragic year, encouraging an environment of transparency and honesty about how to cope with natural distractions from work in times of stress.     3. hotelkit Austria-based hotelkit is another repeat visitor on this list moving up from 4th to 3rd place.  Founded in 2012 by hotelier Marius Donhauser, hotelkit is a majority female-run business that’s growing rapidly but responsibly throughout Europe.  hotelkit’s team motto is “one team one dream” and while the team had to work remotely for a good portion of the year, colleagues are hopeful that 2021 will bring back the annual hotelkit Christmas party famous for great eats and poker.  Under Marius’ leadership, hotelkit has fostered a culture that feels like family so it’s no wonder that employees rate the culture so highly across every single vector.     2. Cloudbeds Cloudbeds may be the fastest-growing hotel tech company right now so while their headquarters are in sunny San Diego the Company has got Silicon Valley energy pumping through its veins.  Not to mention, Cloudbeds is extremely global with local managers in 40 countries. On March 11th (yes that’s right when COVID-19 took the world by storm) Cloudbeds announced the closing of an $80M funding round.  Cloudbeds employees tend to share two main things in common: (1) they are extremely performance-driven and (2) they LOVE to travel. One Cloudbeds employee within the operations department told Hotel Tech Report, “I managed to get promoted on my 1 anniversary day at Cloudbeds, I was so happy and everyone was so attentive to me during this process. Cloudbeds is an amazing company, full of amazing individuals, it's so nice to see the owners in our calls and engaged with us all at all times. I used to think I had worked at good companies, till I met Cloudbeds. This is where I want to stay and grow. It will be hard for any other company to take me from here.”  Cloudbeds has TONS of openings so make sure to browse their career page if you’re in the market.     1. Mews This is Mews’ 3rd year making the list ranking #2 in 2019 and #3 in 2020 - but this is their first year topping the list which is a testament to the strong culture at the firm.  Like most fast-growing companies, the pandemic wreaked havoc on projections and business plans for Mews leading to some difficult decisions needing to be made.  Mews not only came through what was maybe the darkest moment in the history of the hotel industry but came out stronger than ever before.  Mews leadership set a strong course for the business cutting expenses, reorganizing the team, rebranding, focusing on remote deployments, and even making an acquisition.  Quite a busy year - even if things had been normal.  Mews management has created one of those infectious startup cultures that can almost feel cult-like at times often intoxicating entire trade show floors (pre-COVID).  It’s not often that employees at an aggressive high-performance tier 1 venture-backed business get to see their founder dancing through a town hall (affectionately named Mews Con) in a silly costume.  Mews pivoted from hyper-growth mode into a sharp focus on profitability right-sizing the business and is poised to come out of the pandemic far stronger than it went in.  Lots of open roles to check out and we’re sure that list will continue to grow over the coming months.  

Cloudbeds, SiteMinder & Room Raccoon Top People’s Choice Awards in the 2021 HotelTechAwards

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated hotel software in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the Top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards. The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity. The HotelTechAwards platform (by Hotel Tech Report) leverages real customer data to determine best of breed products and companies that help hoteliers grow their bottom lines. “The People’s Choice Award goes to a single company across all categories who demonstrates the strongest customer relationships during the HotelTechAwards.  Cloudbeds had more than 550 hotelier customers come out to share overwhelmingly positive feedback about Cloudbeds products in the midst of a global pandemic.  To have that kind of support from clients during the most challenging market in hotel history says all you need to know about Cloudbeds’ commitment to their partner properties,” says Hotel Tech Report CEO Jordan Hollander. Here’s the Official 2021 People’s Choice List: Cloudbeds SiteMinder RoomRaccoon Bookassist OTA Insight ALICE IDeaS Avvio Hoteltime hotelkit The key factors used to determine the annual People’s Choice Award include total verified customer reviews, geographic reach of reviews, and overall review sentiment and ratings. The best companies know that the most effective way to communicate their value proposition is to empower and amplify the voices of their happy customers.  The People’s Choice Award recognizes companies whose customers really value the relationship and partnership. “Twenty years ago we lived in a world where hoteliers just used one of the three or four technology systems out there and typically just ended up using whatever system they had heard of before.  Today there are thousands of SaaS choices in the market and dozens of great options available for most use cases but the market is moving so quickly that it’s hard for hoteliers to identify and keep track of the best products and companies.  This award honors the companies whose hotel customers are the most vocal advocates of their products to make that process easy,” says Hollander.   About the 2021 People's Choice Award The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity.  Early on as a startup, it’s easier for companies to maintain strong customer relationships with a limited customer base. But as a company grows its install base and scales globally, maintaining high customer satisfaction becomes increasingly more challenging.  Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated product in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards acknowledging the achievements of top innovators across all categories who embody the values, transparency, and customer-centricity that lie at the core of truly great companies. View Ranking Methodology>>

Winners of the 2021 HotelTechAwards Announced

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Hotel Tech Report has announced winners in the 2021 HotelTechAwards, based on more than 10,000 hotel software product reviews contributed by verified hoteliers during the competition.  Winners are selected based on key performance metrics including product popularity, customer satisfaction, integration compatibility, customer support quality, and more.  Winning a HotelTechAward is the highest achievement in the hotel technology industry. “In the midst of a global pandemic, 318,466 hoteliers visited Hotel Tech Report from every corner of the globe contributing 10,227 verified new product reviews during the 3-month awards period to share insights about their favorite tech products to run and grow their businesses.  It has been inspiring to see this massive wave of hoteliers sharing technology insights and product recommendations,” says Jordan Hollander, CEO of Hotel Tech Report. “This is the most comprehensive dataset around hotelier preferences ever developed and it gives unprecedented insights into tech trends for hotels during a pivotal moment in history.  Winning a HotelTechAward is a huge feat with the 2021 competition being the most competitive year ever.  Every company on this list should be extremely proud of what they've contributed to the growth of the hotel industry.” During the HotelTechAwards, hoteliers from the world's leading hotel companies review the top tech products used at their hotels to increase operating efficiency, drive revenue, and improve the guest experience. This data is used to identify the best hotel tech products and organizations. "The HotelTechAwards  are the only prize in the industry that is completely and transparently customer-driven — it's the hoteliers that decide who is best, and it's their opinion that matters most." Gautam Lulla, CEO at Pegasus. "We at SiteMinder believe strongly in the essence of openness; it is what underpins the very core of what we stand for, and the HotelTechAwards, through the program's data-driven and transparent process, aligns firmly with this value.” - Sankar Narayan, CEO at SiteMinder “This honor has deep, personal meaning as it is decided upon by our clients and represents our passion and focus for providing the most sophisticated revenue technology and comprehensive support.” Dr. Ravi Mehrotra Founder at IDeaS “The HotelTechAwards are a powerful stamp of approval for any company to possess and for hoteliers to trust. We value the HotelTechAwards process, which collects thousands of verified reviews from around the world each year.” Alex Shashou, Co-Founder at ALICE “HotelTechReport is the leading platform for technology in the hotel industry, and its meticulous and impartial verification process makes this one of the most prestigious awards.” Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen, Co-Founder at SuitePad The competition spans core areas of hotel software & technology: marketing, revenue, operations, and guest experience. 2021 Voting included participation from major hotel groups including Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, Accor Hotels, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Rosewood, and thousands of independents. "We originally created the HotelTechAwards as a democratized way to help our fellow hoteliers quickly determine best of breed vendors based on data they can trust and the scope of the competition this year is a testament to how far the industry has come in the last decade.  The HotelTechAwards rating process is simple, transparent, and unbiased--judging is based on time tested ranking factors, publicly available data, and crowdsourced insights from verified hoteliers who have hands-on experience with each product.” The HotelTechAwards are often referred to as "the Grammys of Hotel Tech" and winners were selected from the top technology products around the world. The HotelTechAwards are the industry's only data-driven awards platform with winners determined not by a handful of judges or popularity votes but by a global community comprised of thousands of verified hotel technology users across more than 127 countries.   Best Hotel Software Companies List >>

2021 HotelTechAwards Finalists Announced

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Hotel Tech Report has announced finalists in the 2021 HotelTechAwards, based on more than 10,000 hotel software product reviews from verified hoteliers during the competition.  Finalists are selected based on key performance metrics like product popularity, customer satisfaction, integration compatibility, customer support quality, and more.  Winning a HotelTechAward is the highest achievement in the hotel technology industry. “In the midst of a global pandemic, 318,466 hoteliers visited Hotel Tech Report from every corner of the globe contributing over 10,000 verified new product reviews during the 3-month awards period to share insights about their favorite software products.  It has been inspiring to see this massive wave of hoteliers sharing technology insights and product recommendations,” says Jordan Hollander, CEO of Hotel Tech Report. “This is the most comprehensive dataset around hotelier preferences ever developed and it gives unprecedented insights into tech trends for hotels during a pivotal moment in history.  Finaling in the HotelTechAwards is a reflection of quality every company on this list should be extremely proud of what they've contributed to the growth of the hotel industry.” Hotel Tech Report authenticates reviews through a strict verification process.  Further, companies are ranked based on pre-defined objective data variables to avoid the biases present in other human judged competitions. "Based on real and honest customer feedback, the HotelTechAwards really do provide the most transparent view on how technology is perceived and used across the industry,” says Sean Fitzpatrick, CEO at OTA Insight. The HotelTechAwards are often referred to as "the Grammys of Hotel Tech" and finalists are selected from more than 1,000 of the top technology products around the world. The HotelTechAwards are the industry's only data-driven awards platform with winners determined not by a handful of judges or popularity votes but by a global community comprised of thousands of verified hotel technology users across more than 120 countries.   -- Competition winners will be publicly announced on January 12th --   Best Guest Experience Technology Finalists Guest Messaging Software: Whistle, EasyWay, Monscierge Guest Room Tablets: SuitePad, INTELITY Guest Survey Software: TrustYou, Guestrevu, Revinate Hospitality TV Providers: Monscierge (Apple TV) Mobile Key: ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions, FLEXIPASS Mobile Ordering: Bbot, RoomOrders Hotel Guest Apps: ALICE, INTELITY, Wishbox   Best Operations Software Finalists Property Management Systems: Cloudbeds, Mews, Clock PMS+, HotelTime Staff Collaboration: hotelkit, Monscierge, ALICE Hotel Management Systems: RoomRaccoon, Cloudbeds Concierge Software: ALICE Cyber Security & Fraud Prevention: Canary Technologies, Sertifi Digital Signage: Monscierge Housekeeping Software: hotelkit, ALICE, Optii Marketplaces & Integrators: Hapi, Dailypoint Preventive Maintenance: hotelkit, ALICE, Transcendent Restaurant Management: HotelTime, Oracle MICROS POS Employee Engagement Software: hotelkit, Hotel Effectiveness, Beekeeper Contactless Check-in: EasyWay, Canary Technologies, Wishbox Spa Management: HotelTime   Best Revenue Management & Finance Software Finalists Revenue Management Systems: IDeaS, Duetto, Atomize Business Intelligence: OTA Insight, Duetto, ProfitSword Central Reservations Systems: Pegasus Channel Managers: SiteMinder, Cloudbeds, D-EDGE Parity Management: OTA Insight, RateGain Rate Shopping & Market Intelligence: OTA Insight, SiteMinder, RateGain Reporting & Accounting: M3, MyDigitalOffice Upselling Software: Oaky, GuestJoy, EasyWay   Best Marketing Tech Finalists Booking Engines: Cloudbeds, Bookassist, SiteMinder Hotel CRM & Email Marketing: Revinate, Profitroom, Dailypoint Digital Marketing Agencies: Bookassist, Avvio, Net Affinity Direct Booking Tools: Triptease, Hotelchamp Website Live Chat and Chatbot: Asksuite, Whistle Independent Loyalty Programs: The GuestBook Metasearch & Ad Tech: Bookassist, Avvio, Koddi Reputation Management: TrustYou, Guestrevu, Revinate Hotel Website Design: Bookassist, Avvio, Profitroom   Best Meetings & Events Tech Finalists Event Management Software: Event Temple Group Sourcing & RFP Software: MeetingPackage, Venuesuite Meetings Intelligence Software: Duetto, IDeaS Sales CRM: Event Temple, MeetingPackage  

9 Ways to Become a Better Hotel Manager Right Now

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

“Love your staff.” That’s the secret to running a successful hotel according to the founder of the iconic One Aldwych in London. It’s great advice and an essential mantra for hospitality, which is a people business at its core. That mantra is put to the test during hospitality industry downturns, such as the COVID pandemic or the financial crisis of 2008. Faced with uncertainty and economic headwinds, managers must balance the needs of the business with those of its people. So it's understandable that you may be asking yourself, “How can I be a good manager?” It's an important question and an indication that you're already well on your way to being an effective leader. Self-awareness and a desire to improve are two valuable traits in any manager. “Love your staff.” That’s the secret to running a successful hotel according to the founder of the iconic One Aldwych in London. It’s great advice and an essential mantra for hospitality, which is a people business at its core. Whether you're working towards your bachelor's degree in hospitality management, an assistant general manager looking to up your game or even a veteran hotel manager and expert in hotel operations - this article shares timeless tips for becoming a better manager.   1. A Great Hotel Manager Must be Honest and Objective Always be honest with your staff! You don't want to sugarcoat things, hide from the truth, or seem aloof, evasive or uncaring. Your staff will see through any BS anyhow, so it’s best to be as honest as possible (without being mean).  At a time when stress and emotions run high, stay objective. It helps keep your head level and your approached even-handed. Dialing too deep into emotions can create an inconsistent experience for individual staff members. That breeds feelings of unfairness and resentment, as individuals feel they’re being treated differently. Avoid that and stay both objective and honest.   2. Hotel Management Happens in the Lobby, Get out of the Office When times are tough, the last thing you want is for staff to think you’re hiding in your office. Get out into the hotel and stay connected with all aspects of the property. You’ll have a better understanding of the current mood and operational needs. This is called “Management By Walking Around (MBWA),” and it keeps you up front and visible with staff. You lead by example and show them that you’re active and engaged, rather than hidden away in the office.  Being visible is also a fantastic way to provide a top-notch guest experience. Greeting guests and being available to address comments or concerns keeps you in tune with their needs -- a personalized approach that encourages glowing reviews and builds your online reputation.  Remember that it’s not enough to just get out of the office: you also must interact with others to really catalyze the benefit, says Mark Hamister, CEO of the Hamister Hospitality Group: “Adding an "I" for Interaction to MBWA enabled us to finally encourage teamwork between management and staff, increase the number of informal problem-solving opportunities on a daily basis, and thereby produce immediate and creative solutions.”   3. The Best General Managers Prioritize Speed Over Precision If there's was a TLDR (too long didn't read) headline for GM job descriptions, it would read "do everything, always".  Whether you realize it or not, your team takes cues from your confidence and posture. As their leader, you set the bar. Especially during times of crisis, when circumstances change often, you must be a fearless leader. You don’t have the luxury of rumination. So you must be decisive and prioritize speed over precision. Even if you have to fake it because you are freaking out inside, act fast and with conviction. See the next point for a specific tactic that requires a good leader to be decisive.   4. The Hotel Manager Job Requires Firing Quickly and Fairly Staffing is the #1 challenge for most hotels during normal (i.e. non-COVID times).  A general manager needs to be highly skilled in human resources management.  Part of that includes finding the best talent, but that also, unfortunately, includes firing employees who aren't a good cultural fit.  A single bad apple can destroy the culture of an organization. Even if you have to fire people today, you may want to hire them once the downturn eases and demand returns. The last thing you want to do is leave a poor impression that scuttles employee loyalty. Do right by them, as you may want to bring former employees back rather than trying to find new staff. Furloughs may become temporary as the downturn drags on. And you may even need to fire employees that you recently brought back on. Firing is often the worst part of being a manager.  It's emotionally exhausting and extremely difficult. But don’t delay the inevitable, as making several rounds of smaller layoffs leads to lower morale.  To minimize the stress of an already difficult situation, fire quickly and fairly. Make an honest appraisal of what you need to do to keep the lights on and then make those decisions quickly. You also want to be fair and as transparent as possible about how these decisions were made. Avoid politics and personal preferences to avoid favoritism or ill-will. And always follow the traits above: Be objective, honest and helpful!   5. Interpersonal Skills are Key: Listen, Listen, Listen! Great leaders are great listeners. They're able to listen, synthesize and act based on what they’ve learned. Listening is the foundation of hospitality, as it builds mutual understanding, meaningful relationships and memorable, experiences, says Gary Gutierrez of HRI Lodging in New Orleans: “For hoteliers, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Running a hotel, like life, is all about how you make people feel.” And it’s not just with guests; sometimes it's just about being a friendly ear for your team. You don't have to be a therapist but you certainly have to be there to listen. Oftentimes, that’s what your team needs most: a sympathetic ear.   6. Be Available to Your Staff Make it crystal clear that you are a manager with an open door policy. Build trust with your staff by listening to their concerns and doing what you can to address them.  Different roles require different styles of communication and hospitality management employs a highly diverse employee base.  Front office and guest service workers are generally very social and outgoing where engineers and chefs, for example, might require a more logical and direct approach.  Of course, much of it will be out of your hands. So just listen and empathize.  Be there for your staff and they will have your back. Even in tough times, people know when they are treated fairly and with respect - and that makes a lasting impression.  Sometimes an open-door policy may not be enough to encourage employees to surface issues. Experiment with holding office hours, which are open to anyone and held at the same frequency (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly).  You also should offer anonymous channels of communication. Not everyone is comfortable with face to face conversations. To reduce gossip, prevent abuse and shorten the distance between you and your employees, make an anonymous feedback channel for your staff. Anonymity helps you build trust and address concerns quickly before they get out of control.   7. Embrace Creativity, Patiently A crisis is an ideal time to experiment and try new things. It pulls you out of the everyday routine and provides an organic opportunity to embrace creativity. Convene your staff and encourage them to brainstorm creative ways to both address the current crisis and build resilience for future ones. One of the corollary benefits to creativity is that it often engages your staff. Most people respond well to being asked to brainstorm ideas and contribute to the success of the organization. By unleashing your the creativity of your staff, you inspire and bring out the best, which also nurturing potential future leaders, says Paul Patiño of the Saguaro Palm Springs:  “The true challenge is being that leader that can move everyone in the same direction together and bring out the best in each person, inspiring them to be better versions than they already are. All great things take time, patience, and lots of love.”   8. Get Creative and Do More with Less Hotels everywhere are trying to do more with less. There’s fewer bookings which means fewer people working on property.  Look for opportunities to economize your operational footprint and be as efficient as possible. If you can find room in the budget, invest in new technology that preserves service standards despite being short-staffed -- and reduces the burden on your small team overloaded with tasks.  Hotel technology like revenue management systems should be viewed drivers of profitability rather than cost centers at your hotel.  For operations managers at large hotels or hotel chains, preventive maintenance software can keep down long term equipment replacement expenses.  Lodging managers and owners of small hotels can use technology like guest messaging software to deliver impeccable service to guests even when running with a light staffing model. Roll your sleeves up and show your team but no task is too small. It’s all-hands-on-deck, so step up and lead by example. This behavior will build trust and motivate your staff, as well as create a “we’re all in this together” mindset.   9. Be Helpful and Humble Great managers aren't just good listeners and clear communicators, they're also helpful. Management experience tends to strengthen humility and empathy amongst top leaders yet exacerbate arrogance amongst weak ones.  The hotel industry is a people business and while this is our last recommendation it's arguably the most important. As a trusted resource, you show staff that you care and that it’s ok for them to bring their whole selves to work.  When you fire people, offer to write recommendation letters and do help them in their job search. When you discipline individuals, provide clear performance improvement tips that help them improve. When you walk around the property, be helpful to guests and staff - helpfulness is a form of hospitality, after all! You also must be humble. As someone in a position of authority, it’s easy to think that your position makes you the best person to solve the problem. But that leaves blindspots and leads to employees feeling disengaged at work. That’s not a good recipe for hospitality! To avoid this, leaders don’t just listen but also ask to lead with questions, says Joseph Kirtley, GM at Highgate Hotels: “Leaders often feel that we are supposed to have all the answers. In actuality, being a great leader takes humility, and asking the right questions. Opening yourself to the strengths and knowledge of those around you takes you to another level.”   Did we miss any? Reach out over live chat to share your favorite tips with the Hotel Tech Report community!

10 protel Air Features That Are on the Cutting Edge

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

As a hotel owner or general manager, you’re always exploring new, creative ways to increase efficiency and guest satisfaction at your properties. But with new technologies popping up constantly and guest preferences changing rapidly, it can be difficult to determine which software can really make an impact on your hotel’s operations and your bottom line. In fact, your hotel probably doesn’t need all the trendiest gadgets and apps; the best and most efficient solution is to partner with an intuitive, adaptive property management system that will evolve with you as trends change and guest’s needs shift. One hotel software company that truly embodies this forward-thinking approach is protel, which recently launched a completely new interface for their cloud-based PMS product, protel Air. In this review, we’ll explain what makes protel Air unique, what benefits it can deliver, and where the differences lie between cloud-based and on-premise systems. By the end of this article, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the nuances of protel Air and property management systems in general so you can make more informed decisions about your own tech stack.      What is protel? If you’ve been in the hotel industry for a while, you’ve probably heard the protel name. Founded in Germany in 1994, protel was a pioneer in property management systems. Over the next decades, 14,000 hotels in over 90 countries implemented protel, and protel’s team has kept their products on the cutting edge of hotel technology. protel’s niche is hotel property management systems, and since that’s been their main focus for over 25 years, the company has gained some serious knowledge about what hoteliers want and value in their hospitality technology solutions. Traditionally, protel’s software uses an on-premise model, which means that the software was installed on a local server at the hotel. Since 2009, protel has also been building applications directly in the Cloud. The company has recently launched a new interface for protel Air, their entirely cloud-based PMS, and packed it with exciting updates. Let’s dig into what exactly makes protel Air unique and why it’s a top property management system used in thousands of hotels around the world.   10 Unique Features You Should Demo on protel Air We’ve established that protel Air is a cloud-based property management system, but there are many other great systems on the market too. What really sets it apart? Let’s explore protel Air’s most unique features:   Digital registration cards As guests and hoteliers increasingly prefer a check-in process that’s contactless and paperless, protel Air’s digital registration cards make arrival a breeze. Using the protel Air app on a tablet, front desk agents can collect digital signatures from guests and instantly save profile information without a single pen or file folder needed. Furthermore, the digital registration cards make it easier to organize and retain records, so you can keep guest information on file for years to come - without taking up space in the file cabinet. Integrated passport scanner Besides digital signatures, the check-in process can become even more efficient with protel Air’s passport scanner, which “reads” guest information from their passport and saves it, securely, to their guest profile. Ever struggled to read a guest’s handwriting? Problem solved. The passport scanning functionality helps to speed up the check-in process and prevent breaches of sensitive guest data.   Efficient group block reservations Using an Amazon-style “shopping basket,” protel Air’s calendar interface makes it easy to create group room reservations. Sales managers can quickly drag and drop the room types they need, adjust the room counts, and change billing settings in seconds.   After the group reservation has been confirmed, it’s easy to make changes to the rooms needed, billing details, and group codes. App Marketplace protel AIR works with an impressive number of add-on apps (1000+ integration partners) that pack a lot of value, including marketing tools, revenue management systems, door locks, upsell software, and more. Configuring an integration is easy - many apps require just a single click to connect.  In an industry first, protel partnered with Hotel Tech Report to become the only hotel app marketplace with user reviews just like the Apple and Android app stores and boasts tens of thousands of user reviews to help protel clients choose the right applications for their properties.     Robust, customizable reports General managers will appreciate the intuitive reporting dashboard, which lets employees and key stakeholders review ADR, occupancy, revenue, and more at a glance. Users can create custom reports, export them to various file types, and share insights via email. protel Air’s reporting center can help you understand historical booking data, trends, future pace, and more, so you can stay on track toward your goals. In addition to reports that show metrics like RevPAR and occupancy, you can pull lists that contain guest birthdays, arrival or departure times, wake-up calls, maintenance issues, and a slew of other attributes.     Voice recognition We’re used to asking Siri about the weather, but what about dictating guest details in your property management system? protel Air includes voice recognition via a nifty voice-to-text feature that allows you to add guest information by simply speaking it. And this functionality isn’t a gimmick; it can actually help your front desk staff do their jobs more efficiently, and enable busy managers to add to do's via mobile, as they walk the floor. Daily rates calendar Hotels that set rates manually will find the Daily Rates section to be intuitive and straightforward - but robust enough that you can fully customize your rate schedule. If you use revenue management software via the integration marketplace, rates from that system will appear in your Daily Rates in protel Air.     On-premise and cloud-based versions While this article focuses on the cloud-based protel Air, it’s important to note that protel hasn’t abandoned their on-premise PMS version. In fact, the on-premise version is also packed with features that can deliver value to any hotel where a server-based system is preferable.   Mobile web access Since protel Air’s cloud-based version is accessible via your web browser, the system can also be used on your mobile web browser on your smartphone. The system is fully responsive and adapts to smartphone or tablet screen sizes for a smooth experience across devices.   Worldwide partner network with local language support Since protel is truly a global company, their client support teams speak your language - literally. protel specialists are available to assist around the clock, no matter where your hotel is located.   “It's a great product, with world-class integrations and an excellent marketplace. They have been adding so many wonderful new features and have adapted the product to meet the challenges of 2020 for all hoteliers.” -David Gerrard, Director of Integrations at Duetto   What’s the Difference Between Cloud and On-Premise PMS? Let’s take a step back and explain the difference between cloud-based systems and on-premise systems. The main difference is that on-premise software is installed on a local server on-site, which means that only computers connected to the hotel’s local networks can access the software. Cloud-based software, on the other hand, is accessible from any web browser (like Chrome or Safari), whether that be via a computer at the front desk, your laptop in your office, a tablet at the concierge desk, or even your smartphone while you’re at home. If you already use an on-premise system, does it make sense to switch to cloud-based software? For many hotels, cloud-based systems can offer several key benefits. One major advantage of using cloud-based software is that employees can access it from anywhere. Cloud-based software also receives real-time software updates, which means it is often more secure and glitch-free when compared on on-premise software that requires manual updates. Another obvious advantage: it’s much faster to connect to other cloud-based systems and apps that the hotel may later decide to run parts of their business on. This means the hotel is pretty much already connected to future technologies. However, on-premise software usually includes more options for property-specific customization, since your hotel’s individual version of the software can be tailored to your needs, whereas changes to the functionality and interfaces of cloud-based software generally affect the entire user base. “We regularly recommend protel software to other operators in our sector and to other hotels under the Best Western umbrella. Three or four other hotels have now adopted the software which is brilliantly easy to use and, being cloud-based, is accessible anywhere, anytime offering great flexibility.” -Raj Patel, Hotel Owner at the Best Western Olde Maritime   What Hotels Could Benefit from Implementing protel Air? If you nodded along as we discussed protel Air’s features, perhaps wishing your property management system included a passport scanner, then it might be time to consider a switch. Over 14,000 hotels worldwide use protel’s software, but a few types of hotels can realize even greater benefits. Smaller hotels that don’t need an on-premise system will appreciate protel Air’s user-friendly, cloud-based infrastructure. Hotels with a significant chunk of group business will save time with the simple group reservation “shopping basket” feature. And even chain hotels will find that protel Air offers cluster functionality and connections to central reservation systems for integrated management of multiple properties. Still have questions about protel? Read protel reviews, specifications, and testimonials to learn more.   This content was created collaboratively by protel and Hotel Tech Report.  

The 20 Biggest Travel Technology Innovations of the Last 50 Years

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

In many respects, 2020 was supposed to be a milestone year. It has a pleasant ring to it, with balance and heft. It also had a convenient correlation to the optometrist’s shorthand for perfect vision. Well, 2020 certainly was a milestone -- but for reasons that no one ever could have predicted.  Given that hindsight is always 20/20, we figured it was time to look back on the history of travel and pull out some of the most important innovations in travel technology over the last half-century. It was a period of tremendous growth, with major expansions of the industry in all directions: land, sea, air. The tourism industry grew from around 165 million in 1970 to 1.5 billion in 2019 (obviously 2020 is an outlier here, so we went with 2019).   Technology was a tremendous force in driving this growth in travel, mirroring broader trends in technology-fueled growth across the global economy. So which travel tech innovations had the greatest impact and fundamentally and positively changed the trajectory of the industry? Here's a timeline of the most important moments in travel technology over the last 50 years. Each signifies a milestone that influenced travel’s journey, ultimately becoming a global industry that provides opportunities for millions of people. The travel industry is changing rapidly and even the dominant online travel agencies aren't safe from disruption.  New technology from augmented reality to next-gen social media like TikTok will continue to change the way we get inspired, where we go and how we share our travel experiences.  Pressing questions lie ahead as we think about the next 50 years and to predict the future it's important that we first understand the past.   The past informs our thinking around transformative questions like: If virtual reality becomes ultra-realistic will we still want to travel in the future? Will biometrics safety tech be so accurate that we'll no longer have lines at the airport? Will the internet of things (IOT) help travel companies deliver hyper-personalized travel experiences? Let's hop on a time machine through the last 50 years of travel innovation!   January 1970: The 747 officially enters service The era of mass tourism really took off with the Boeing 747, which was in and of itself a technical marvel. For the first time, tourists could be transported in large numbers across vast distances. Both leisure and business travel became not just more practical and convenient but also a bit more affordable, as airlines could lower prices by packing more people into a single aircraft.      October 1971: Magic Kingdom opens in Florida And with it began the relentless global march of theme parks worldwide. As the first expansion beyond Disneyland in California, it not only heralded the beginning of an era of mass tourism and packaged culture -- but also the idea that technology could enable more fluid in-person experiences: the entire kingdom was built one story above ground level to accommodate utilidors, the passageways that cloak all operations from public view. That preserves the fantasy -- and put the “magic” in the kingdom.     1976: SABRE opens to travel agents  Since going live in 1960, the GDS had transformed how American Airlines managed its bookings. But the real moment that mattered was when SABRE opened up to travel agents. This meant that travel agents could more efficiently serve customers and thus accelerated the popularity of package tours, resort destinations and last-minute travel. Eventually, of course, Amadeus and Travelport entered the market, further fueling travel’s digital transformation, such as OTAs making self-serve travel a reality.     1976: FOSSE installed as Marriott’s first PMS Dave Berkus wrote the code for his PMS in 1974, growing his business rapidly as he installed his property management system at more hotels. Eventually, Marriott licensed the technology, called it FOSSE, rolled it out worldwide...and proceeded to use it for nearly three decades! The PMS was a companion to existing Central Reservations Systems, which managed reservations externally but didn’t offer functionality to manage internal operations and the guest experience.  Today, there are nearly 700 PMS vendors, alongside other hospitality technologies that help hotels manage operations, reservations and customer relationships.   Legacy tech held sway for decades, but cloud-based options are loosening the grip. [source]   1976: Foreign currency exchange replaces gold standard With the Jamaica Agreement among IMF member countries, floating exchange rates became the global norm. Travel between nations would eventually be influenced greatly by the relative value of each country’s currency, creating a new dynamic in how travel trends unfolded around the world. Fluctuations in currency valuations would now influence the ebbs and flows of travelers based on their home currency’s relative strength and weakness.    May 1981: American Airlines launches loyalty program American Airlines wasn't the first to launch a loyalty program (that honor goes to the defunct Texas International Airlines). But it remains the world’s largest and longest  continuously operating loyalty program. Marriott followed closely after, launching its loyalty program in 1983. Loyalty would eventually become a billion-dollar business for hotels and airlines, who benefited from the rise of premium rewards credit cards.  An early AAdvantage loyalty card shared on FlyerTalk Forum September 1983: GPS goes public  Originally developed for military use, President Ronald Reagan opened the system up to the public in September 1983 after a Soviet jet accidentally shot down a Korean passenger plane. Since then, GPS has been the lynchpin for so many of travel’s transformation technologies. What would rideshare be without mapping? How popular would the iPhone have been without point-to-point directions? Would travelers be comfortable exploring new places in such great numbers without the help of digital maps? The cost would have been too prohibitive for any one company to develop this technology on its own.   A military GPS tracker prior to its public release [source]   January 1988: The first STAR Report  The STR report has become the world’s most indispensable source of market intelligence for the hospitality industry. With the Smith Travel Accommodations Report (STAR), hotels could use actual aggregated data to measure performance against similar hotels. The STAR became indispensable and maintained its place at the center of a revolution in data-driven market intelligence.   The STAR report became an essential part of hotel revenue management.    Early 1990s: Marriott creates Demand Forecasting System Taking a cue from the nascent application of revenue management in the airline industry, Marriott created a Demand Forecasting System for its full-service hotels and a Revenue Management System for its limited service ones (read the genesis story here, it’s a good one!). By building models to predict demand, the hotel could more accurately price its rooms and optimize its revenues. This strategy was obviously transformative and became widely used across the industry -- especially as cloud computing made revenue management more practical for hotels of all sizes.   October 1996: Microsoft Expedia Travel Services Expedia started as an internal project within Microsoft. Its launch in 1996 heralded a sea change in the way travel was booked. No longer reliant on travel agents and ticketing departments, travelers could now research and book travel for themselves. Eventually joined by Booking.com, Google and hundreds others, Expedia entered the scene just as millions of people were accessing the internet for the first time.  As pure-play technology companies, OTAs rapidly cemented themselves at the center of the industry.    An early version of the Expedia website [source] February 2000: Salesforce launches its Web API The first enterprise application programming interface (API) was launched by Salesforce at its IDG Demo conference. Its XML API was the first out of the gate, unleashing a wave of innovation as businesses could share data with other companies and customers in an entirely customizable manner.  As APIs proliferated, data silos fell. Organizations could build applications that pushed and pulled data across products internally, while also making data more accessible to external partners. This accessibility drove innovations around open APIs, which enabled hospitality brands to build customized tech stacks with two-way data sync, all at a lower-cost than legacy tech.     The original Salesforce site. [source]   2001: First review added to Tripadvisor Tripadvisor began as a personalized trip planning website that aggregated reviews from guidebooks. But a small button asking visitors to add reviews took off, with eager travelers leaving reviews en masse. As the first user review site in travel, Tripadvisor began to wield extraordinary power over traveler decisions. Hotels began to watch their online reputations closely, focused on both responding to reviews and getting guests to share positive experiences online. Yelp followed in 2004, cementing user reviews at the center of the online reputation economy. June 26, 2001 from the Wayback Machine.   June 2004: CouchSurfing and “live like a local” home-sharing  Conceived in 1999 and launched in 2004, CouchSurfing was a precursor to the commercialization of home-sharing by Airbnb. Alongside other sites like Hospitality Exchange, it offered travelers an online platform to connect with locals. These “hosts” would not only share their homes with travelers but would often become local guides, showing travelers a real slice of local life -- yep, this was also the original “live like a local” brand promise!  [source]   April 2006: Google Translate introduces instant translation While translation services transformed the way that we communicated across cultures, instant translation changed how we interact in real-time with others. Google Translate was the first mainstream instant translation service. Launched in 2006, it started off as browser-only and struggled to be accurate and sensible. Even in its earliest iteration, it was a tremendous help to travelers. Today, the app now supports 109 languages, with 500 million users translating 100 billion words per day. The app also translates photos and has a “conversation mode” so travelers can communicate fluidly with others. Instant translation also became a standard feature on Apple's latest iOS 14 update, which includes a Translate app that supports 10 languages. Users can download languages for offline translation and can also set up automatic language detection, which makes it a must-have tool for any traveler.   Google Translate’s simple interface made instant translation easy   August 2006: Amazon Web Services and cloud computing Cloud computing has been a fulcrum for innovation. Dave Berkus, investor and inventor of FOSSE PMS, sees cloud as central to the future of hospitality technology: “If we look ahead ten years, and certainly beyond 10 years, it would be easy to see a single cloud based system integrating everything from CRM to reservations to the accounting functions at the properties, all the way through all forms of marketing and follow-through.”  Amazon Web Services accelerated adoption of cloud computing by making it easy for companies to access shared server space on a “pay what you use basis.” Eventually embraced by Microsoft, Google, IBM, Oracle and others, cloud computing helped enterprises reduce IT infrastructure costs and increase flexibility. For startups, the technology was even more transformative, as it reduced upfront IT costs and simplified scaling up to accommodate demand.   [source]   June 2007: the iPhone changes everything After the GDS, which streamlined the buying and selling of travel via phone and online, the iPhone arguably had the biggest impact on travel. It was the start of the mobile computing era, which would eventually put smartphones in the hands of billions of people worldwide. Now travelers could take their computers wherever they went, meaning that they could make reservations at restaurants, search for things to do and, most importantly, stay in touch with friends and family while traveling. The smartphone became an indispensable tool -- and massive fulcrum for the growth of the industry, becoming cameras, contactless credit cards, room keys, taxi dispatchers, check-in counters, mobile travel agents and local guides.   The first iPhone on display in 2007 [source]   August 2008: Airbnb ushers in the home-sharing economy Originally called Airbed & Breakfast, Airbnb essentially commercialized the CouchSurfing model of connecting travelers with locals offering a place to stay. It gave homeowners a way to monetize unused space and fulfilled the emerging “live like a local” traveler ethos. The company would eventually transform the entire hospitality industry by expanding the diversity of accommodation types worldwide. Hotels were threatened, local governments bristled, and Airbnb grew to be a behemoth. The concept would rapidly expand to other assets, such as cars, boats and RVs, forever changing the economics of stuff -- and giving travelers an entirely new way to experience the world.   2010: UberCab launches rideshare revolution Taxis had long been a pain point in travel. From unknown wait times and handsy drivers to cabbies not wanting to go to certain neighborhoods and price-gouging at the airport, grabbing a cab was always a bit fraught. Now, with cabs on demand, pricing was transparent, wait time was visible and a driver’s reputation upfront. Travel would be forever different.   Early images of UberCab   October 2011: Apple integrates Siri into iPhone 4  Voice forever changed the way that we interact with our devices. The journey began when Apple integrated its Siri voice technology into the iPhone 4. As one of the earliest efforts in voice control, it was far from perfect. But it signaled a shift in thinking about the flexibility and accessibility of our digital devices.  The adoption of voice accelerated with Amazon's Alexa in 2014 and Google's voice assistant in 2016.  With all the major players integrating voice, it's now become a ubiquitous way to interact with our devices -- including the curtains, lights and appliances in smart hotel rooms!   Original coverage of voice control by Engadget.   November 2014: Digital keys become the next must-have Demagnetized cards are frustrating -- even more so when you happen to be in Vegas and the front desk is half a mile away. The first hotel chain to introduce digital keys was Starwood, who piloted the SPG Keyless program at 10 hotels in November 2014. Other brands followed close behind, with Hilton announcing a similar pilot later that year.  Since then, keyless has become standard across hotels worldwide. Digital keys also became a clever driver of loyalty, as digital keys could only be accessed by members.  Keyless entry also has become a major part of the vacation rental experience, allowing owners to manage properties remotely without a traditional “hand off” of keys. The ease of access was welcomed by guests, which often valued the self-service aspects of vacation rentals in the first place.   Keyless entry becomes standard as hotels partner with technology vendors worldwide.   2014: Uplift brings “buy now, pay later” to travel Even before Diner’s Club launched its charge card in 1950, most department stores offered some sort of installment plan. Then, as banks began to issue credit cards that didn't need to be paid off each month, America turned to credit and installments fell out of favor. Other regions preferred installment payments over credit, with certain countries (like Brazil) maintaining a strong consumer desire to pay in installments. In 2014, FinTech startup Uplift began offering its core service: a “buy now, pay later” installment option integrated directly into the payment systems of major travel suppliers. There’s also Affirm, which integrated with Expedia in 2016, and FOMO Travel, which offers interest-free payment plans for travel booked through its partners.   Uplift integrates within the checkout flow [source]   Bonus: Travel insurance The first known seller of travel insurance was James Batterson, who opened his travel-focused agency in 1864. For those who could afford to travel, the insurance was a must-have, given the risks of traveling long during that era. Today, travel insurance has become a global industry with a variety of options that range from stand-alone policies, add-ons to existing health insurance policies and benefits attached to premium credit cards.   Travel insurance is an important innovation as it provides peace of mind and confidence for travelers. Travel insurance that can be customized to individual needs offers a backstop to uncertainty for travelers. Of course, the global pandemic revealed how complex the product has become, with many travelers realizing that their policy did not cover COVID.   -- The tourism industry is one of the most exciting and rewarding career paths one can take - staying on top of travel technology trends is critical to success.  Did we miss any major innovations? Let us know over live chat so we can add yours to the list!