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Hotel Operations Software Articles

How to Leverage Kaizen In Your Hotel Business

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 hours ago

Over time, incremental improvements can make big changes. Small changes each day lead to dramatic shifts over time. These changes can be especially powerful because they don't cost a lot upfront. There's no major change initiative, no stakeholder alignment, no big announcements or rollouts. And most definitely no overnight transformations. It's really just about making your hotel operate as smoothly and efficiently as possible, with the objective of improving just a little bit each day. There’s a word for this approach to incremental improvements: Kaizen. And it can be a powerful philosophy for hospitality businesses. Here’s why.   What is Kaizen? Kaizen is a Japanese term that means “change for better” or “improvement.” After World War II, the term became synonymous with Toyota’s Management philosophy of continuously improving at all levels of the company and reducing waste. The approach focuses on improving the efficient use of both existing labor and technology. The philosophy of emerged around World War II due to the fact that there was “neither time nor resources” to devote to massive innovations or transformation during wartime: “Instead of encouraging large, radical changes to achieve desired goals, these methods recommended that organizations introduce small improvements, preferably ones that could be implemented on the same day.” This transformational management style is perfect for hospitality. It's rarely feasible to implement a wholesale overhaul of an entire system or workforce. And it most certainly is immensely challenging to evolve the physical space of a hotel that remains open to the public all day, every day. A philosophy of continuous improvement reflects the true challenges and opportunities of an industry built on details and moments. For hospitality operators, kaizen promises a more gentle approach to making hotels better.   How to Use Kaizen in the Hospitality Industry To manage the process of continuous improvement, consider using service optimization technology that wrangles data into a common dashboard for teams. This will help your operations department gain real-time visibility into what needs improvement and even what is currently improving. These solutions focus on leveraging technology to improve operations across departments on a day-to-day basis, ensuring that small-but-steady improvements improve the hotel’s operation. One such solution is Quore, a comprehensive software suite that makes on property life easier for workers across the hotel. Here are some of the key ways that Quore helps hotel managers become kaizen masters to deliver better outcomes for hotels: QUORE FEATURE BENEFIT, KAIZEN-STYLE  Real-time problem management Solving problems quickly means that your team learns continuous improvement by doing; it becomes embedding in your hotel culture.  Digital workflows The elimination of paper workflows reduces manual errors, saves time, and makes staff happier. See next point. One-click updates  With service optimization software, it only takes one click to update checklists and standard operating procedures. This ensures that everyone has the latest process and that kaizen-related improvements get out to the team instantly.  Automated room assignments The system works as your silent kaizen consultant by adjusting your team’s room assignments on the fly. This means that staff can be more efficient, all without having to overthink it. Performance analysis Without software, managers must rely on instinct, observation, and feedback from others to identify high-performers and laggards. As we all know, this can magnify interpersonal conflicts and gossip. Since kaizen is all about incremental improvements at each point. Maintenance prioritization With automated prioritization, rooms are kept up to brand standards. As last-minute stay-overs affect room availability, the system re-assigns work as needed.   These features empower individual staff members and entire departments to be more mindful of incremental improvements. Each day becomes a shared puzzle to solve together, in collaboration and with full transparency.   If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It To achieve the true potential of a Kaizen philosophy, it takes a strong measurement mindset. “If you can't measure it, you can't improve it” is an adaptation of the famous quote from management consultant Peter Drucker, who once said “you can't manage what you don’t measure. There’s no baseline without proper measurement. For hoteliers, measurement is what makes the intangible trackable. Measurement increases visibility and accountability across the organization, empowering frontline staff with clear markers of progress. Pulling these metrics to the forefront also creates transparency and trust, ensuring that each team member is held to the same standard.  Without a doubt, this boosts morale and aligns teams around common goals and shared expectations. Brand standards are easier to match and there’s more pride of work. What exactly should you be measuring in your hotel? The short answer is: everything.  Each departmental head should be focused on 4-5 key metrics that will make the most meaningful long term impact on your hotel’s P&L. You should make those metrics clear to all relevant staff and orient your reporting to celebrate wins and call out areas for improvement.    One case study showing the possible improvements from using kaizen in hospitality   Take housekeeping for instance. In the case study above, kaizen reduced the average turnaround time for rooms by 40%. It also improved linen turnaround time so that housekeeping remains stocked with the items necessary for their work. The housekeeping department thrives when it’s coordinated and aligned but becomes chaotic with poor communication. A service optimization tool, such as Quore, aligns teammates across the department by putting KPIs at the center of the process; this allows all staff to see status and orient around daily improvements. The technology empowers front-line staff and guides management with relevant data. With Quore Cleanings, historical data can be used to improve performance over time, while Cleanings Plus relies on real-time assignments to maintain optimal efficiency on a given shift. Management can then track KPIs, such as the average cleaning time and the average inspection scores of each housekeeper. With that information, management can then strive to deliver those incremental improvements that define the kaizen approach.     The Result: Continual Improvement at Your Hotel Stale processes that haven’t been revisited in years can lead to equally stale guest experiences. If you're not always monitoring and watching for areas to improve, the experience will inevitably slip and guests will notice.  To get to continuous iteration in your hotel, the following steps should be second nature:   Engage employees, as they’ll have the best ideas of focus areas for improvement.  Make a problem list and then prioritize according to those with the greatest impact. Match problems with potential solutions.  Test the solutions so that you have on-the-ground insights into what’s working.   Analyze the results. If there's improvement, adopt the solution. Repeat the process and empower staff to do this as part of their own contributions.   It’s fairly simple, and you may already be doing some of these steps but mastery takes incredible discipline. That’s the beauty of kaizen: it’s a natural process for hospitality. With an intentional approach, supported by the right technology, morale grows, mistakes dwindle, and the guest experience improves. It’s a promising vision that can be pursued each day by applying kaizen’s slow-but-steady philosophy to hotel operations.

Hotel Checklists: How They Train Your Staff To Be More Productive

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

In some industries, checklists are the difference between life and death. During the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969, the team of astronauts considered their extensive collection of detailed checklists – covering everything from flight plans to data cards – their “fourth crewmember.” In Scotland, the 2008 requirement that hospitals complete a Surgical Safety Checklist during high-risk surgeries led to a 36.6% drop in the post-op mortality rate. Science has proven time and time again that checklists have a direct impact on productivity, time management, memory, and focus. While hotel checklists don’t have the same life-or-death implications as these other examples, they are a vital tool for improving staff performance and overall hotel operations. Hotel operations software like hotelkit has evolved from old-school paper checklists to be more transparent, efficient, and organized for hotel teams working around the property. What’s the psychology behind hotel checklists that makes them so powerful? How should your hotel be using checklists to motivate your team and improve operations?    The psychology of hotel checklists There are a few reasons why hotel checklists are powerful motivators for your team. First and foremost, checklists define goals in strategic, manageable steps. Anyone who’s ever attended a business seminar knows the importance of setting SMART goals – that is, outcomes defined as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Software organizes your checklists within SMART parameters to show your team that these bigger goals are achievable through small, manageable steps. “Breaking down your projects into smaller, bite-sized pieces helps you stay motivated and positive throughout the process,” writes one expert. Why are smaller tasks more motivating than big-picture goals? When we experience a feeling of achievement, no matter how small, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is connected to the feeling of pleasure, learning, and motivation. Checking a task off a list is all it takes for the brain to release a small amount of dopamine – which in turn motivates us to check more items off the list. Not all items on a checklist are created equal, however. Psychologists have found that tasks must be challenging in order to trigger the dopamine response. Small goals must be meaningful not only to work toward your SMART goal, but also to generate a sense of satisfaction that keeps your team motivated. If you consider checklists in your personal life, for example, taking out the trash each week doesn’t lead to the same feeling of accomplishment as hanging a new frame or building a backyard swing set. Keep this in mind while designing your hotel checklists.    What hotel checklists does your staff need? Running a hotel’s daily operations means keeping tabs on lots of moving parts at once. Today’s cloud-based hotel checklist software aligns your team no matter where they are on the property. These checklist tools are a way to improve every guest touchpoint, from housekeeping to restaurant inventory. Checklists standardize the guest experience and build loyalty by establishing a level of trust between the guest and the brand. Over time, the aid of hotel checklists can increase positive reviews. There are a number of different types of checklists in hotels, such as:  General property checklist: to assess if the staff has all been trained, all hotel areas are up to brand standards and to evaluate guest rooms for comfort and cleanliness.  Room checklist: to assess that rooms are clean, damage-free, and that furniture and decor are all in good condition. This checklist should be used before check-in and after check-out.  Housekeeping checklist: to assess if the housekeeping team is in uniform, and to assess if all areas of the hotel are clean, sanitized, and presentable to guests.  Bathroom checklist: to assess that bathrooms are cleaned, and to assign which items and fixtures need to be scrubbed. Also, include inventory for things like shampoo and conditioner.  Inventory checklist: to assess whether your property is fully stocked with hotel supplies, food and beverage for the on-site restaurant, and complimentary items. Hotel Maintenance checklist: to keep track of ongoing and occasional maintenance such as power washing, plumbing, electrical work, fire protection, security systems, and deep cleaning. These are just a few examples of the checklists hotels can use to improve their service and organize their teams to run a tight ship. Other checklists, like a spa and health club safety checklist or restaurant health inspection checklist, should be added depending on what your specific property has to offer. How detailed should your checklists be? It’s a balance between meeting the demands of your customers and keeping your team motivated. Remember the psychology behind checking off tasks: items should be meaningful to trigger a feeling of accomplishment but not too large that they require significant thought.    How to facilitate hotel checklists  The Apollo 11 team filled their spacecraft with wall-to-wall written checklists; but, that probably won’t work for your hotel team. Hotel operations software facilitates checklists with teams at work on different parts of your property, keeping everyone aligned and making sure no task falls through the cracks.  Tools like hotelkit connect employees through a single platform to manage tasks and delegate throughout the day. Individual checklists can be set up for room inspections, daily to-do lists, and more; managers can delegate clearly, adding transparency to the hotel’s operations. One hotel’s Director of Operations reports, “The information flows very easily between the departments in a quick view; everyone knows what is happening in the hotel.”  When you set up a hotel checklist, make sure the tool or platform you use is set up to reflect the guest experience. Walk through each step in the customer journey and design your checklist accordingly: what does the check-in process look like? What does the guest see when they first enter their room? When can they expect room service to arrive? The best hotel checklists will anticipate a guest’s needs and categorize services to align with customer touchpoints as a way to clearly assign tasks to different team members. Bottom line: make sure the tasks on your checklist are achievable, but still provide the feeling of a job well done to keep your team motivated, productive, and goal-oriented. Use hotel operations software that has integrated checklist functionality to keep your team constantly in sync no matter where they are on property.  Checklists with small measurable goals and software that helps your staff easily track their progress inevitably helps improve guest satisfaction scores by ensuring nothing falls through the cracks between shifts or gets lost in communication.

These Are the 5 Hottest Cities in Hotel Tech

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Success for any startup is a blend of luck and skill, peppered with grit and resilience. It takes a methodical approach to pull together a team with exceptional skills to execute on an idea that solves a real problem for a well-understood customer. Even in a world of remote work, it also helps to be surrounded by knowledgeable advisors with industry expertise and a supportive community that can be tapped face-to-face. This is especially true in hotel technology, a tight-knit community that thrives on relationships. Of course, success is not solely dependent on location. However, clustering near other related businesses can rapidly increase your chances of success. A strong local network fosters better industry relationships that can shorten lead times on the sales side and accelerate development cycles on the product side.  That’s because the right locality puts you closer to your customers, which helps with getting actionable feedback quickly, and closer to potential investors, which accelerates momentum in rapid growth phases.  Proximity can also bring you the types of talent that underpin some of the 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech. Cities with clusters of industry- and trend-specific companies give you better chances of finding the right talent for your business -- especially since former employees often go on to start their own startups that solve problems in the same industry, such as with Arise Travel. We’ve done a little legwork to help you discover some of the most vibrant and active places in the world to headquarter your hotel tech startup. With an active community familiar with hotel technology, depth of local talent pool, and a global mindset, these are our top five cities for travel technology.   London: Focus on Business Intelligence and Hardware London is an ideal place to take advantage of Europe’s diversity, as well as its relative closeness to the financial centers of New York. And, in spite of the looming Brexit, London remains itself a financial powerhouse. That means a dense concentration of global capital, coupled with a workforce details from countries all over Europe and beyond. With London's six airports, alongside train connections to most of Europe, London's location is ideal for startups looking to situate Themselves at the gates of Europe -- while still remaining as close as possible to the Americas. London also has the Traveltech Lab, a hub for travel technology startups that focuses on fostering a community of “innovation, collaboration, and creativity” that connects “technology startups with big corporates within the travel industry.” The dedicated space and organic community can be a boon to startups as they look to establish themselves, build a product, and grow their business. Hotel tech companies based in London: SiteMinder’s guest acquisition platform combines powerful optimization and analytics tools to capture more direct bookings for hotels. The company has greatly expanded its Exchange, which features dozens of integrations that make its guest acquisition tools even more useful for its 35,000 hotel and property manager clients.  While the firm will always call Sydney its home base - they've got a big presence from the London office. Mews is the backbone of hotel operations. Founded by a former rising star at Hilton, its property management system is the top-rated solution on HTR, and its kiosk, mobile check-in, and hotel app solutions are all highly rated by customers. OTA Insight is a “new breed of hotel tech company” that empowers hoteliers to fight against rate disparity, benchmark their own rates against competition, and leverage market intelligence to optimize revenue. The company’s newest feature gives hoteliers the ability to rate shop across different points-of-sale in order to monitor for regional differences in rate parity. Crave’s interactive tablets enhance the guest experience by putting property information, ancillaries, and in-room technology and messaging at guests’ fingertips. Thanks to industry-wide integrations, the tablets fold seamlessly into existing operations. Clock Software’s property management system combines crucial features, such as reservations, housekeeping, and channel management, as well as a robust API, into an all-in-one tool lauded by hoteliers. Case in point: Hoteliers votes Clock Software as a top PMS in the 2019 HotelTechAwards. Triptease is designed to return control of distribution to hotels. From acquisition to conversion, its direct booking platform merges metasearch advertising, parity monitoring, website widgets, and revenue management into a cohesive. Just last year, the Company earned an accolade as a top place to work in hotel tech. Pace reinvents revenue management with its “booking curve” approach to forecasting demand. The “intelligent revenue management” system alerts hoteliers to any unusual patterns to booking curves for each night, room-category and segment.  Fornova is a great example of London companies focusing on business intelligence: the company helps hotels monitor and benchmark distribution, as well as analyze market and property-level intelligence with HotelsBI and optimize pricing via its eCommerce Optimizer.  Iris Tablets offers hardware for guest rooms via its tablet technology. Its software also sets it apart: the cloud-hosted Guest Experience Platform (GXP) increases revenue, reduces costs and successfully improves the end-to-end Guest Experience for over 3000 hotels and restaurants worldwide. eRevMax is known for its pioneering channel manager and rate shopper RateTiger. Its latest product LiveOS turns “chaos to clarity” by smashing silos and pulling data from disparate systems into one dashboard to support real-time decisions.  Impala tackles a critical problem for hotels (and vendors serving hotels): how to integrate systems that don’t integrate themselves. Software providers can run a simple JSON script to integrate their products with those of other vendors in hospitality thus unlocking a new market.   San Francisco: Focus on Big Tech Silicon Valley has long been home to Big Tech. And even though the area has long since become less affordable than other cities the region’s reputation continues to attract ambitious entrepreneurs and world-class workers. The competitiveness is a double-edged sword: It can be costly to hire the best talent here, and investors quite literally have the cream of the crop. It can be a struggle for startups to both find the best people and raise the necessary capital to thrive. For these reasons, Silicon Valley has become home to larger hotel tech companies that serve the hospitality industry worldwide. These companies can compete effectively for talent, and take full advantage of the regions saturation of startups. San Francisco is also an interesting place for workers who eventually want to do their own startup: rich networks of talent and capital are useful at the seed stage as well. Hotel tech companies based in SF: Revinate’s CRM and email marketing software helps hotels develop long-lasting relationships with guests through targeted marketing, personalized campaigns, and deeper guest insights. Highlighting the value of being near other companies in the vertical Revinate recently announced a partnership with SF-based Duetto to allow hotels to use Duetto to price upsells dynamically in Revinate. Duetto is a full-stack revenue management technology. The company‘s Revenue Strategy Platform optimizes revenue and profitability across channels. This singular focus on total profitability underpins Duetto’s philosophy of Total Revenue Management. Sojern helps hotels marketers segment audiences and identify the best channels to advertise on. The company, which recently celebrated its 12 year anniversary, moved into new offices last year to accommodate its continued growth. Frontdesk Anywhere is a complete hotel management software suite that facilitates the guest journey from the initial online booking process through arrival, onsite operations and checkout.  Autoclerk serves hotels with property management and central reservation systems as well as a booking engine. It’s an end-to-end solution for booking guests, managing reservations, and operations. In a surprise move, BestWestern is the new owner of Autoclerk and promises to continue investing in the platform. MS Shift solves several operational issues for hotels: concierge management,  luggage tracking, front desk management, asset tracking, and maintenance/engineering management, among others.  Salesforce is the granddaddy of enterprise technology. It's fully-customizable CRM and sales software is widely used in the hospitality industry.  HelloShift is an easy-to-use messaging platform that enhances communications among staff as well as between staff and guests. With its combined approach Helloshift can become a hotel’s communications backbone. The company was recognized as the top staff collaboration platform in the 2018 HotelTechAwards. Medallia is a Customer Experience Management company that solves the problem of uneven feedback: it’s not easy to gather customer feedback across online and offline and transform them into something relevant and useful. Suiteness has an unexpected take on hotel bookings: it offers only suites. The value proposition extends to groups as it also empowers travelers to book connecting suites so that groups can stay together. Suiteness integrates with DHSCO and SynXis to expand access to the unique inventory.   Amsterdam: Focus on the Booking.com Alumni and Partner Networks Amsterdam is another great European city from which to base your hotel tech startup.  Data from Startup Europe found that Amsterdam’s share of Europe’s venture financing was EUR 1.67 billion. Amsterdam also has an added advantage: It's the home of globally-recognized behemoth Booking Holdings. The company, best known for Booking.com, employs thousands and will soon move into a high-profile new headquarters building. The steady growth of the company means that there is a sizable local population with the knowledge of travel and hospitality. The population is also highly fluent in English, which makes Amsterdam a city with solid international bon afides. Hotel tech companies based in Amsterdam: HotelChamp is a website experience and marketing optimization tool for hotels. When deployed on a hotel’s website, the toolset boosts direct bookings by adding a layer of personalization and segmentation. The latest tool, called Autopilot, leverages millions of data points to optimize a website in real-time.  Oaky unlocks pre-stay up selling so that hotels can offer room upgrades and other products prior to arrival. The solution improves profitability-per-booking before a guest even arrives on property. Oaky was awarded the top upselling and merchandising solution at the 2019 HotelTechAwards. 4Suites solves the keyless entry problem for hotels. It's smart access technology simplifies hotel operations, reduces costs and upgrades the guest experience. iReckonU sits at the core of your hotel’s tech stack to pull in data from other tools to reveal new insights and to enrich guest profiles. This “guest experience framework” improves the efficacy of marketing while also putting operations closer to guests. Hoteliers.com combines all distribution channels into a single view which reduces complexity and increases control for independent hoteliers looking for an affordable-yet-powerful channel manager. Olery solves reputation management for hotels. The system captures reviews from over 100 channels, and pulls them into a single interface for hotels to handle quickly and efficiently. It also has an analytics and marketing component to give hoteliers tools to improve and promote its reputation. Olery’s latest report dives into reputation in the Middle East.   New York City: Focus on Marketing NYC is a fantastic place to run a hospitality technology startup. The city has one of the highest concentrations of hotels in the world, which puts your startup close to many potential customers. The city is also one of the global hubs for media, which may have something to do with the over-indexing on start-ups with a hospitality marketing focus. New York is also home to Voyager HQ, a hub for a global community of travel and hospitality tech startups. The co-working space is home to many startups in the industry and often hosts meetups and networking events that provide a solid base for its startup community.  As European companies hit scale they tend to make New York their first foray into the U.S. market as evidenced by Triptease and Mews Systems both sending their founders overseas. The flight between NYC and London is pretty manageable and so is the time zone - what better launchpad for world domination? Hotel tech companies based in NYC: Travel Tripper provides distribution and marketing support to everyone from small independents to major brands.  Hotels looking for an all-in-one marketing partner should look no further since the firm has it all: Booking Engine, CRS, Digital Marketing Services and Hotel website development.  With freshly infused Accel-KKR capital Travel Tripper merged with Pegasus and now provides additional business intelligence and GDS services. InnRoad is a popular property management system for small properties and boutiques. HeBS recently rebranded as Next Guest with the integration of Serenata Intraware’s CRM technology.  While Serenata remains run out of its Germany headquarters NY provides the mothership and HeBS’ bread and butter is still digital marketing. TravelClick was recently acquired by publicly traded travel tech behemoth Amadeus and while Amadeus is run out of Spain, we imagine that it’s New Hampshire based hospitality division is going to get a little FOMO when they see their sister company’s New York City digs. Volara provides voice recognition software to hotels solving for the challenges of systems integrations and cyber security - giving hotels the ability to install turnkey Amazon and Android devices in their rooms. ALICE was one of the first company’s in the market to “make hotel tech fun again” lead by marketing guru Alexander Shashou and technical savant Dmitry Koltunov - the firm is an unstoppable force in the hotel operations space. LaaSie.ai (formerly Stay Wanderful) is a lesser known direct booking platform providing a network of merchant partnerships that can be leveraged to increase hotel website conversion and ultimately drive more direct bookings.  LaaSie recently rebranded and similar to Travel Tripper above was originally funded by NYC based Highgate Ventures. SEVENROOMS is a restaurant software company that provides CRM and guest management services to dozens of hotel restaurants around the world. Bizly is a meeting booking platform that helps corporate meeting planners find the best venues for small breakout meetings (i.e. hotels). Los Angeles/San Diego: Focus on Messaging Long known as the entertainment capital of the world, LA has emerged as a tech hub in its own right. Part of this is due to its status as a (slightly) more affordable option for SF startups. Another part is due to the convergence of technology and entertainment; as more startups emerged to build technologies underpinning next-gen entertainment, it naturally created a local base of tech talent. Another reason for the rising popularity of southern California as a technology hub? Clearly it's the weather! But the preponderance of sunny days, many weather-weary San Franciscans and New Yorkers have made the move. By the influx, the city intense relative affordability compared to cities of the same size and scope. Coupled with the great quality of life, southern California has become quite the contender on the global tech stage. Socal is an hour flight to both a hotel hub and tech hub, Las Vegas and Silicon Valley respectively. Hotel tech companies based in Los Angeles/San Diego: INTELITY’s guest engagement platform bridges across departments to connect staff with guests across text, voice, and digital channels. The company also offers an hotel operations platform for staff management, That includes recorder and task management, as well as analytics. INTELITY recently merged with KEYPR to expand its reach and reliability worldwide. Cloudbeds provides a booking engine, channel manager, property management system, and revenue optimization tools for independent hotels, boutiques, B&Bs, and hostels. The comprehensive hotel management solution was named a finalist for the People’s Choice Award at the 2019 HotelTechAwards. Whistle’s guest messaging technology simplifies communications so that staff can respond to messages in real-time from a single dashboard, regardless of whether the message is an email, website chat, or text message. For the second year in a row, Whistle earned the top spot as the #1 messaging platform on HotelTechReport. ResortPass has raised more than $12M to help hoteliers grow revenue by selling premium access to luxury amenities like the pool and spa during off-peak hours.  The Company is based in Santa Monica and works with top tier hotels like the Viceroy Santa Monica and W Hollywood. TrustYou While they are headquartered in Munich, Germany, TrustYou set up shop in San Diego, CA back in 2014 in order to better serve the growing US hotel industry. Their 10 local employees support functions across all facets of the company including Business Development, Account Management, Client Success, Finance, and Marketing. Zingle is a messaging platform that connects guest and staff across channels and devices so that communications is always streamlined and never siloed. The company recently announced AI-driven Intelligent routing that analyzes a guest’s intent to intelligently (and automatically) route guest requests to the right department or person. GuestBook Rewards is a loyalty program for independent hotels. Guests have a choice of cashback, credits for a future trip, or a charitable donation -- an incentive model that sets GuestBook apart from its competitors.  The program has become the largest network of independents, with over 600 member hotels in 55 countries. GuestCentric gives hotels control over their revenues by solving the guest acquisition problem: with a CRS, a digital agency  The company was a HotelTechAward finalist in 2018. JDA Software’s revenue management solution solves the revenue management problem for hotels. Thanks to an advanced forecasting engine that includes consumer intent and price sensitivity, the software increases revenue and boosts margins. Clicktripz is a monetization platform for publishers. Using proprietary ad-serving technology, Clicktripz’s targeting and granular bidding means that publishers can efficiently monetize audiences by connecting them to suppliers and advertisers. Kallpod is a service tracking solution that encourages guests to call for service right from their table. Kallpod Pro extends this functionality with customizable buttons, a two-way interface for staff to talk to each other, and a data platform to assist with more intelligent staffing.

Should You Automate Hotel Property Management Workflows Using Zapier?

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Bringing new technology into a hotel is supposed to make day-to-day operations easier and more efficient, but that’s not always the case. Too often, hoteliers find that complex software is difficult to use or that various tools do not communicate with each other. To the busy hotelier who doesn’t want to spend hours on the phone with tech support, a technology solution with a focus on automation (and integration) can be a true asset to a hotel’s operation and enhance guest experience. With automation in place, employees can spend less time completing hotel checklists and more time delivering excellent service.   What is automation? In the simplest terms, automation allows you to “teach” a process to a computer program so that the program can repeat the process on an ongoing basis without the need for human assistance. Automation is all around you - from the self-service checkout machines at the supermarket to the notifications you receive on your smartphone - and it’s now becoming more common in business operations. Automation isn’t a new concept, but it is certainly gaining traction in recent years as more and more technology companies offer automation solutions that are affordable and easy to use. In fact, according to Deloitte, 78% of survey respondents plan to invest more in automation over the next three years, and employees are onboard too - only 17% of respondents experienced employee resistance to the new systems.    How does automation apply to hotels? Automation is quickly becoming one of the top tech and hospitality trends because it can enhance operational efficiency and save time for employees, which in turn can boost revenues and increase guest satisfaction. Think about a front desk agent’s daily tasks: checklists to complete, reports to run, and problems to solve. With automation, a computer program could handle some of those routine checklists and reports, freeing up more time for the front desk agent to focus on delighting guests. It’s also possible to automate other aspects of hotel operations. Processes like managing your team, setting rates, room assignments, upselling premium room categories, and scheduling staff can all be automated, which would allow employees in those departments to devote time and energy to other tasks. In-app automation is par for the course; however, the best run hotels are laser focused on cross-app automation. As an example, your housekeeping software should automatically reconfigure rooms in your PMS when a VIP gets upgraded.  Similarly, your upselling software needs to know real time availability to automate upgrades. Many automation services now offer APIs for hotels, so it’s easier to get started than you might expect.   How do I start to automate my hotel’s processes? Curious to see how automation can benefit your hotel? The first step is to find the right technology solution. Zapier is one of the world’s top automation service providers, offering a huge marketplace of apps and integrations with programs like Gmail, Microsoft Excel, Salesforce, and more. Zapier has recently partnered with hotel property management systems, so now Zapier’s suite of tools is easily accessible to hotels. Zapier is quite simple to set up, but since the system is used by a variety of industries, there aren’t many apps in Zapier’s marketplace that cater specifically to hotels and the functionality that’s offered is quite rudimentary for the time being. In addition to Zapier, several other companies offer integration services with a hospitality focus that allow your hotel to properly automate across applications and maximize your investments. Connectors like Impala and hapi.io work to bridge the gap between individual software and apps that a hotel might use, and PMS marketplaces like protel, Mews and Hotelogix also feature a breadth of services with automation capability.   What can a PMS marketplace offer my hotel? A PMS marketplace is a fantastic way for hoteliers to begin their automation journey. With all the standard PMS features to run your hotel property, a PMS marketplace also offers add-on applications that bring incremental value. Examples of these add-ons include rate intelligence tools, email marketing, hotel CRM software, and payment processors.   protel clients benefit from instant connections with top providers via the protel app store   Instead of working with a hotel CRM that doesn’t communicate with your PMS, for instance, thus requiring an employee to copy and paste email addresses into the email tool, it’s much more efficient to use a PMS marketplace with apps that communicate seamlessly.  Your hotel’s CRM not only needs to pull massive amounts of high quality data from your PMS to properly segment clientele, but it also must feed data back into your PMS to deliver operational guest intelligence for your on property staff. One such PMS marketplace can be found with protel. protel recently announced three great additions to their PMS marketplace: Atomize, OTA Insight, and Oaky, which hoteliers can access through their intuitive, 1-click-connect platform.  When leveraged together with inter-app automation - these three apps can save time and money at any hotel. OTA Insight offers business and rate intelligence, so revenue managers don’t need to spend time combing competitors' websites in search of pricing intelligence. Atomize sheds light on the hotel’s own historical rate and occupancy trends, helping to automate a lot of the leg work and decision making that revenue managers must make daily which frees them up for more strategic tasks. Oaky’s app delivers upsell options to guests during the booking process and pre-stay experience, which can take some work off the front desk team’s plate while increasing total RevPAR. Since these three apps are all housed in protel’s PMS marketplace, they share data and work seamlessly with the PMS itself. The setup process is effortless for protel users; only one click is needed to activate each additional system from the PMS marketplace.  Having these kinds of systems seamlessly connect unlocks power that fragmented systems just can’t. When your PMS is tracking total revenue per available room (tRevPAR) including upsell revenue, your revenue management system can then price rooms based on total expected revenue rather than just rooms revenue. This can help to both acquire new guests and increase profitability. It’s time to hang up with tech support for good and start reaping the benefits that automation can bring to your hotel: incremental revenue and increased guest satisfaction. Hotels can most easily realize these benefits by adopting a hotel-specific platform like protel. Automation services like Zapier offer a wide variety of services, but without certain functionality designed for hotels, like upselling options and rate intelligence, these more generic systems fall short. With a system designed especially for hotels, properties can use technology to increase guest satisfaction and profitability.

4 Reasons Why You Should Get Rid of Your Hotel's Old PMS Once and for All

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Hospitality trends indicate that your hotel’s old property management system just isn’t cutting it. Guests demand mobile check-in as travelers are more connected than ever. Can your PMS handle the needs of tomorrow’s traveler? Hilton Hotels & Resorts recently revealed mobile check-in as one of the most popular features with its HiltonHHonors app: “One-third of guests have used the digital check-in with room selection available on the Hilton HHonors app,” says Dana Shefsky, Senior Director of Digital Product Innovation at Hilton Worldwide. Despite the rising popularity of mobile check-in, many PMS systems today are outdated and ill-equipped to integrate with new mobile platforms of the future. The lack of mobile check-in capabilities is one of several reasons that the majority of hoteliers (and their guests) are unhappy with their current property management system. A survey by Fuel Travel reported that 55.2% of hotel managers were not satisfied with their current PMS provider. Hotel technology must evolve to allow hoteliers to keep pace with the needs of an increasingly mobile traveler. Hoteliers around the globe are flocking to modern property management systems and mobile check-in is amongst the reasons that your peers are looking to the cloud (get it, cloud PMS?).     4 reasons why your peers are upgrading to modern property management systems (and why you should, too)   1. Their vendor’s customer support is unresponsive A property management system, when it works, is supposed to make your job easier. But, when a PMS fails and you can’t take bookings, the system quickly becomes more trouble than it’s worth. Every minute your system is down, you’re losing revenue and failing to deliver a five-star guest experience. Your team members get demoralized when trying to deal with an unresponsive or unhelpful customer support team. If PMS downtime is the norm, rather than the exception, it’s time to find another solution.  Smaller PMS providers like Hotelogix tend to rate higher for customer support because they have cloud based infrastructure that is easier to service and more manageable customer bases which leads to stronger client relationships. Hotelogix gets rave reviews for their customer support, posting a score of 4.7 out of five points. One reviewer writes, “Customer service has always been fast, attentive and helpful. Any concerns or questions we have had have been answered to the fullest and promptly. We always receive any updates in regards to software or if there will be any down time while they fix Hotelogix.”  Hotel managers love Hotelogix’s 24/7 customer support availability. If something goes wrong – and with any PMS system, it inevitably does – Hotelogix’s team is known for being on standby to troubleshoot at a moment’s notice.    2. Their vendor isn’t well integrated Without the right integrations, it’s extremely difficult to run a hotel. Housekeeping and room assignments are impossible to manage. When you miss out on the right integration to upsell, you miss out on revenue. You shouldn’t have to pay through the nose to give your system the ability to integrate with other software – especially with so many open APIs available.  If this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone: “53% of hoteliers cited outdated technology architecture and the effort required to integrate systems as the top pain point holding back investments in new technology. Integration has long been a heated topic, but businesses in the space are gaining real momentum in 2018.” A poorly integrated PMS system can hinder every other facet of your operation.  Pioneering PMS companies are building app stores to solve this problem like the Hotelogix app marketplace. These kinds of marketplaces provide a roster of third-party solutions that integrate fully with your PMS.   3. Their PMS doesn’t support mobile check-in Travelers are increasingly checking into flights using mobile apps or from a mobile-optimized webpage. By some estimates, 46% of leisure travelers and 61% of business travelers use a smartphone to check into their flight. Flights are just the beginning of that has become an increasingly mobile travel industry.  Because most flight check-ins happen via mobile, guests want to have that same experience when they arrive at the hotel. Studies show that 60% of guests will elect to stay at a hotel that allows them to check-in via their mobile device over one that doesn’t have that capability. Guests are beginning to expect to be able to avoid the front desk formalities on arrival; instead of waiting in line to check in, your hotel staff can greet a weary traveler at the door and show them straight to their room.  The key takeaway: your hotel PMS system must be equipped to handle mobile check-in. If your property management system isn’t able to keep up with the expectations of your guests, it’s time to consider a new PMS.    4. Their new team members have trouble learning the system The employee turnover rate within the hotel industry is 73.8% each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means more than six percent of your hotel staff are departing every month. To put that in perspective, the national average turnover rate across all industries is 17.8%. Every time someone leaves, a replacement employee must be hired and retrained. Those hiring and training costs place a huge burden on your operational budget – even more so if your PMS is difficult to understand. New team members need coaching on everything from the company culture to disaster preparedness. The most critical training a new team member needs is on the reservation and check-in process. An old PMS makes this training even more challenging: the system’s poor design, non-intuitive UX, and confusing instructions complicate the learning experience. Feature bloat makes it difficult to discern what parts of the system are relevant to the new team member’s job – and what features are just unnecessary or irrelevant. Many old property management systems lack quality training content, such as online videos. This lack of training resources only adds to your bottom line.    How to select your next PMS vendor like a pro If this article reads like a checklist of everything that’s wrong with your PMS, then it’s time to select a new vendor. Start by reading verified reviews on Hotel Tech Report. Hotelogix, for example, stands out for their customer support, user-friendliness, and integration marketplace. Customer’s love Hotelogix’s flexibility, easy to understand design, and fast set-up.  Hotel Tech Report also has a tool that allows you to compare feature functionality between different PMS options. See the difference between Hotelogix and your existing PMS with ratings on ease of use, ROI, implementation, customer support, and features and services side by side.  Create a checklist of integrations you need today and ones you want tomorrow then make sure your next partner has them using Hotel Tech Report’s marketplace functionality. Hotelogix has a wide range of integration categories available, from hotel management tools to reputation management, IT and security, and marketing platforms like Mailchimp. Last but not least, ask what the relationship will look like once you sign a contract with your new PMS vendor. How long will it take for the vendor to respond to your support calls? What training materials does the vendor have available? What’s their NPS rating from current clients? References from similar clients on Hotel Tech Report can give you insight into how the new PMS vendor treats their partners. These tips and the resources on Hotel Tech Report can help you find the right PMS to upgrade your guest experience – without sacrificing your team’s sanity in the process. 

This is the Housekeeping Software That Your Hotel Needs in 2020

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

With simultaneous rising labor costs and stubbornly high turnover, hotel housekeeping remains a top challenge facing the industry. According to STR’s 2019 HOST Almanac, a compilation of operating statistics of more than 5,000 U.S. hotels, 2018 labor costs tallied an estimated $70 billion. As a percentage of total revenue, the median full-service hotel spends 30 percent, while limited-service hotels spend 22 percent.  And that number is only going up. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 3.2 percent increase in hourly wages for non-supervisory works in the accommodations business at the end of 2018. At the same time, job openings are also near record-highs: per the BLS, the hospitality sector had more than 900,000 job openings. And that’s despite the wage increase!  On the supply side, labor shortages are likely to worsen as hotel pipelines continue to grow. STR reported nearly 18 percent growth in global hotel inventory during the decade between 2008 and 2018 while CBRE’s December 2018 edition of Hotel Horizons accessed a 1.9 percent net increase in U.S. hotel supply in 2018. More hotels are competing for fewer capable employees. This labor crunch is especially acute in the housekeeping department. Adding fuel to the fire, immigration laws are tightening in primary markets like the United States and in parts of Western Europe. To do more with less, hotels must deploy housekeeping software that streamlines housekeeping’s day-to-day tasks while still maintaining strict brand standards.  “The use of such software is dramatically speeding up the process of turning rooms over, leading to lower costs and higher revenues.” -HTR’s Housekeeping Management Software Buyers Guide  With technology, time-consuming tasks, such as creating housekeeping schedules, tracking room attendants’ progress, and adjusting to changing requests in real-time, are much simpler. Staff carry mobile devices, which centralizes communications and optimizes routes in real-time throughout shifts. In short, housekeeping software expedites housekeeping operations, captures data to continuously improve performance, and makes your hotel more organized than ever. Here’s what to look for as you start evaluating housekeeping management software vendors.     What to look for in housekeeping management software When evaluating the best housekeeping management software for hotels, here's what to look for at a higher-level: Mobile-first. A non-negotiable. Mobile-optimized applications ensure that your staff can do the work whether they are on property. Reporting. Accurate, timely, and useful reporting ventures your teamIs optimized for performance. Find a solution that gives you the visual reports in formats that work best for your team. Automated room assignments. Manually assigning rooms isn’t efficient, especially for routine cleans. Look for automation to eliminate wasted work. Intuitive user interface. Tech that isn’t easy for everyone to use  will cause more headaches than its worth. Focus on usability so that your staff needs less training on the software. Plenty of integrations. Your housekeeping management software will be severely hobbled without the appropriate integrations. Be sure that any solution you select integrates with your existing property management system! With clearer visibility into the hotel’s day-to-day operations, owners and operators can also make more informed decisions to improve their bottom lines. To help you decide which tool to select for your hotel, here are the 6 housekeeping tech tools that have hoteliers talking.     Popular housekeeping software vendors   1. Quore Cleaning Plus Quore’s Cleanings Plus software has been named the top Housekeeping Management Solution for two years running in the HotelTechAwards. This was its second consecutive year at the top spot, likely influenced by the fact that the tool is used at more than 3,600 properties across 80 brands in 29 countries. With Cleanings Plus, housekeeping managers can record and view room updates and also schedule, manage and track cleanings and inspections. Additional functions include analysis of individual and department-wide performance trends as well as the ability to immediately report work order requests.  Rooms can be assigned by cleaning type and a virtual breakout board can be created in the app for everyone to view. Room attendants also have the capability, via mobile access, to make relevant updates on their end. As one HTR reviewer pointed out, much of the data is retained so hotel management can go back and reference it without the hassle of having to physically store older information. “[I like] having so much in one program and the ability to keep so much historical data without keeping paper files,” he said.   Notable feature: The software is available in 22 languages so staff can communicate in their native tongue. This is a fantastic way to improve productivity and staff engagement, not to mention stronger guest satisfaction when they communicate in their native tongues as well. Quore is the #1 rated housekeeping app by hoteliers on Hotel Tech Report.     What clients say: Quore is extremely popular with branded properties in the U.S. and is highly recommended by 95% of its users. Clients rate Quore 4.8/5 for ease of use and 4.7/5 for customer support making it the most highly recommended software in its category on Hotel Tech Report.   2. ALICE Housekeeping Hotel operations platform ALICE debuted its latest evolution in June (check out our exclusive coverage), a housekeeping solution that enables direct and immediate communication between individual members of housekeeping staff as well as between housekeeping and all other hotel departments. The platform can directly reduce a hotel’s labor costs by at least 10 percent, and the company says it saves an average of four minutes in cleaning time per room. The platform is wholly customizable, with a tool kit that includes: A dashboard-like feature that gives housekeeping managers a comprehensive overview of their department’s operations, from room attendant assignments and task sheets to room clean status, special requests and personalized guest details. The ability for managers to automatically prepare staff task sheets and balance assignments The ability for room attendants to track their cleaning progress and immediately report any unexpected issues The new housekeeping software solves for two critical pain points that typically drive up hotel operations costs. ALICE Housekeeping reduces training time for new hires by replacing the numerical code-based systems with icons and colored labels to indicate tasks and other messages. It also directly connects front of house and back office teams, the software drives a 60 percent reduction in radio and in-person communications.   Notable feature: The platform can also alleviate housekeeping managers of the daily and time-consuming burden of accessing the day’s room inventory and subsequently assigning available staff to occupied rooms and rooms in the midst of turnover. ALICE Housekeeping has an algorithm for that. Just hit the “auto-assign” button –or override it for manual control.  ALICE is the #2 rated housekeeping app by hoteliers on Hotel Tech Report.   What clients say: ALICE is popular with boutique properties around the world, and comes recommended by 97% of HTR users, ranking Number 2 in popularity.    3. Flexkeeping Flexkeeping’s housekeeping feature is purpose-built to keep housekeeping staff up-to-date, rooms clean, and workflows organized. Since the platform provides an intuitive home for housekeepers, there are fewer miscommunications and far less confusion. In fact, hotels that use the app have an average of 70 percent fewer disruptive phone calls to housekeeping.  With a clear overview of rooms that need servicing, housekeeping managers can dynamically assign available staff, with the added ability to confirm room cleanliness instantly and manage other duties such as turndown service and minibar refills. On the housekeepers end, the app has clear checklists and integrated messaging to keep on top of quality and recent requests.   Get a free Flexkeeping demo   The app also offers an inspection checklist for quality control in addition to a translation feature to accommodate non-English speaking staff. Flexkeeping allows for integrations with several Property Management Systems (PMS) including Oracle Hospitality OPERA Cloud Services, Mews Systems, Cloudbeds Myfrontdesk and protel. The app is described by one hotel manager as “simple to use and very helpful.”   Notable feature: The Flexkeeping interface is colorful and clear. It’s easy to see at a glance which rooms have been tended to and which ones still need attention. With this interface, managers can be more efficient and spend less time on room assignments and more time on quality control.   Flexkeeping is the #4 rated housekeeping app by hoteliers on Hotel Tech Report. What clients say: Flexkeeping is recommended by 98% of reviewers on HTR. Users rate its ease-of-use and support highly, as the platform is simple and helpful, allowing users to fix issues quickly.   4. RoomChecking With both intuitive mobile and desktop applications, RoomChecking directly connects to a hotel’s PMS, with dozens of integrations available. The platform streamlines communication between housekeeping, maintenance the front desk and management so that operational tasks can be expedited and tracked.  As one HTR reviewer explained “all employees use the same software (room attendant, maintenance, front office, F&B).” But the same user also noted that load times can sometimes be long.  RoomChecking’s housekeeping product is equipped with a mobile app for room attendants and another for supervisors inspecting rooms as well as schedule planning and a function to convey housekeeping changes in real time. The software also warehouses all cleaning and inspection records. As far as cost, implementation fees range between $1,000 and $2,500, while the monthly subscription cost is around $3 per room on a monthly basis. Get a free RoomChecking price quote   Notable feature: RoomChecking has standalone apps for different parts of your business. With its Cleaner, Inspector, and Runner apps, each role has specific tools at its disposal, while still benefiting from communication across the different applications.   RoomChecking is the #6 rated housekeeping app by hoteliers on Hotel Tech Report.    What clients say: RoomChecking’s housekeeping product comes in at Number 6 on the HTR popularity index; 96 percent of reviewers recommend the product. The software’s highest overall rating was for ROI, scoring 4.7 out of 5 with ease of use following just behind at 4.5 of 5. The platform was given a score of 4.2 of 5 for support and 4 of 5 for implementation.    5. HotSOS Housekeeping (by Amadeus) HotSOS Housekeeping’s purpose is threefold; the app prioritizes the process of guestroom cleaning, digitizes the guest room inspection process; and virtually mobilizes management of the housekeeping department. In 2016, it saved hotels $166 per room. More specifically, the launch of HotSOS Housekeeping throughout one hotel client’s property resulted in a 14 percent increase in productivity and a total labor savings of $136,000 annually.  HotSOS was one of the earliest housekeeping products brought to market and has the largest install base.  The drawback of going with the largest player is usually legacy that comes with scale. When a software is widely used it can be hard to change this drastically without alienating users.  For HotSOS one major drawback is the code based system used which can be confusing for room attendants who haven’t yet memorized the platform and have lots else on their minds. The benefit of this system is that it’s widely used so many experienced room attendants will be familiar with it from a previous property. Another client, the 159-room Prince de Galles hotel in Paris signed on with HotSOS Housekeeping when an insufficient inventory of clean rooms upon guest arrival became a chronic issue. Room attendants had to located by radio or physically in order to be updated on last-minute changes and new cleaning priorities, leaving supervisors with little time for department management and room inspections. To solve this, HotSOS Housekeeping provided the team with an automated solution for consistent communication in real-time. The consistency pushed cleanliness scores higher, as the hotel’s Director of Housekeeping said:  “Our GEI scores for 2016 show a 2% increase in guestroom cleanliness and a 5% increase in guestroom condition since 2014. Having more time to spend on guestroom inspections and the ease and efficiency in reporting deficiencies in real time, have helped improve our guest ratings.”   Notable feature: HotSOS’ focus on service optimization includes an automated dispatch feature that pushes operational and guest requests to the right person instantly to reduce wait times and increase efficiencies.  HotSOS is the #7 rated housekeeping app by hoteliers on Hotel Tech Report.   What clients say: 96% of reviewers would recommend HotSOS, which is used across hotel categories, with reviewers appreciating fast housekeeper responses and the customizable reports.     6. OPTii Solutions OPTii streamlines housekeeping operations by optimizing room-attendant path of travel and reducing manual communications by at least 60 percent. This housekeeping software can automatically estimate cleaning times to predict, manage and optimize housekeeping schedules in real time, allowing managers to automate the vital tasks of creating daily schedules. On average, hotels that use Optii see up to 500 percent within just months of implementation by reducing housekeeping labor costs up to 18% and increasing productivity up to 24%. Additionally, OPTii gives managers the ability to identify room status as it pertains to housekeeping, including those ready for inspection. Managers can also view room attendant progress, for real-time insight on how well each attendant stays on, ahead or behind schedule, how quickly they’re completing rooms and how many rooms each attendant has completed at any given time during their shift.   Notable feature:  OPTii also has in-depth reporting capabilities that can compile metrics and analytics to generate 15 different reports. These reports can be personalized to deliver a quick-and-easy way to stay on top of your team’s performance trends. OPTii is the #8 rated housekeeping app by hoteliers on Hotel Tech Report.    What clients say: The product is recommended by 72% of HTR reviewers and scores 3.8 of 5 in both ease of use and support. A number of users also commented that they would like to see an option to delete and edit notes or the addition of a real time messenger system so that housekeepers can instantly be notified of reservations changes.   6. HKeeper is an innovative newcomer in the housekeeping software space While HKeeper is one of the newer entrants in the housekeeping software space, the Company's product is surprisingly mature.  The founding team at HKeeper is comprised of hotel owners who have built and extensively tested the software on their own properties long before bringing the product to market. Using HKeeper, you will find requisite tools to avoid unnecessary problems that arise as a result of lacking collaboration between departments. HKeeper will optimize all daily routine processes, improve your guest relations quality, and free up more time for working with projects and vendors. Hkeeper is one of the best tools for managing the personnel of the hotel and tracking material usage. With HKeeper, you can streamline workflows, reduce the turnaround time between tasks, and increase employee productivity. HKeeper also monitors working progress in real time and analyzes staff performance by counting active working time, turnaround time, and time required for each task. Another exceptional function in the HKeeper program is that the mobile application can work off-line. Not all similar programs are offering integration with PMS software, and HKeeper does, so hotels can easily stay updated on room status, availability, and guest information. Notable feature: HKeeper offers a unique feature that allows tracking all materials used during cleaning and maintenance tasks or other operations through the program in real time. Read more HKeeper reviews

6 Must Listen Podcast Interviews For Hoteliers Interested in Tech

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

1. FOSSE creator Dave Berkus uses lessons from history to predict the future of hotel technology Listen now >   2. Freehand Creator and Angel Investor Roy Alpert on Using Technology to Create Revolutionary Hotel Brands Listen now >   3. Former Sabre Strategy Chief: Hotel Tech in Emerging Markets, Cyber Security in the Hotel Industry and the Future of GDS Listen now >   4. Cendyn Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Tim Sullivan Talks Artificial Intelligence, Hotel Technology’s Place in Web 1.0 and Why Everyone is Wrong About the OTAs Listen now >   5. Triptease Founder Charlie Osmond Tells All: How his tech startup got into 12k hotels, raised $20M in venture funding and beat a $65B company Listen now >   6. Former Ruckus Wireless VP of Hospitality Ted Watson Discusses the Recent $800M Acquisition, Major Trends in WiFi Connectivity and the Critical Role HTNG Plays for Innovation Listen now >

HITEC 2019 Recap: Everything You Missed in Under 5-Minutes

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

The Hotel Tech Twins just returned home from HFTP’s annual US HITEC show which just so happened to find itself in...wait for it...the twin cities.  This year’s location in Minneapolis is the hometown of hotel tech darling IDeaS which happened to be celebrating its 30th year in business - serendipity was in the air. The week kicked off with our favorite part of every major conference, Klaus Kohlmayr’s exclusive tech startup happy hour where we got to bump elbows with CEOs like ALICE’s Alex Shashou, Meeting Package’s Joonas Ahoola and Triptease’s Charlie Osmond who just returned from running a marathon in North Korea (nope that’s not a typo...NORTH Korea!). During the conference we met with more than 50 tech companies to learn about the latest tech developments and tips to grow your hotel business.  In this article we distill major trends that we saw in the market and highlight key innovations that should be on every hotelier’s radar within each trend.  Consolidation certainly seems to be driving the market with Travel Tripper + Pegasus making its first combined HITEC debut, Jonas Hospitality launching its Jonas Chorum brand and HeBS/Serenata rebranding the organization Next Guest. Whether you were at HITEC and were too overwhelmed to cut through the noise or couldn’t make it at all...fear not, we've got you covered.  Below you’ll learn about the 6 biggest hotel tech trends we saw at the show, discuss what they mean for your hotel business and highlight the companies that are pushing the envelope within each.   TLDR; HITEC trends at a glance TREND 1 | Companies are doubling down on automated workflows to save time and reduce human error (12 products covered) TREND 2 | A cambrian explosion of tools to help hoteliers manage and make sense of their data (6 products covered) TREND 3 | A new focus on enabling guests and driving revenue with self service (8 products covered) TREND 4 | Big tech is leaning into hotels for new use cases & distribution (4 products covered) TREND 5 | Housekeeping software is heating up (4 products covered) TREND 6 | Fraud and security are still poignant post-Marriott breach (8 products covered) Bonus Coverage: More Notable Product Rollouts and Launches From the Show (10 products covered)   Before we jump into the trends...3 shout-outs for creativity at the show Most creative HITEC marketing initiatives: a tie between IDeaS and Infor IDeaS went big for their 30th anniversary and brewed their own line of local craft beers for the show.  We heard they still have a few extra cases left so when you are negotiating that contract for your hotel group’s next RMS - make sure to ask them for a hoppy throw in. Infor launched its new grab-and-go POS solution where guests can purchase food on a touch screen kiosk.  The Company went all in on the demo and had a full service food and beverage operation running in real time.  It turns out hoteliers love free food and the demo was super slick so the Infor booth was slammed every time we passed by. ALICE delighted conference goers by shelling out envelopes of cash to announce its latest release.  While envelopes of cash alone would have been enough to secure a shout out for creativity, the meaning behind the stunt sealed the deal with class, creativity and customer centricity.  Having just launched the all new ALICE Housekeeping, the envelopes were actually tip envelopes for conference goers to bring back to their hotel rooms and leave for their room attendent paying homage to housekeepers and the back breaking work they do day-in and day-out.   Congrats to SABA Hospitality, the winner of E20X People's Choice Award.  SABA Hospitality manages every aspect of the guest journey. From answering questions, to managing requests, making recommendations, fulfilling F&B orders and everything in between. Their artificial intelligence driven chatbot transforms a hotels guest experience, while lowering staff workload and driving revenue.     TREND 1 | Companies are doubling down on automated workflows to save time and reduce human error Due to years of overzealous media hype, when hoteliers hear the word ‘automation’ they mostly think about robots but the kind of automation that’s actually changing the hotel industry is a very different kind of automation. Most techies are familiar with companies like Zapier and IFTTT (If This Then That).  Essentially these companies are platforms that help businesses setup and execute rules for repetitive processes.  For example, you could set a “Zap” that triggers a Google Calendar meeting scheduled every time someone fills out a form on your website.  These kinds of automations are the backbone of building a great business because they free up your team to focus on high value tasks.  Hotels are notorious for having these kinds of repetitive tasks.  For example, every time a room attendent finishes cleaning a room they need to radio the housekeeping manager who then needs to mark the room ready for inspection.  Take another example where your night audit team needs to do a manual bucket check to cross reference each in-house folio against your in-house list in your PMS.  All of these tasks can be automated away which frees up those team members to focus on higher value tasks which can really move the needle for your business. At HITEC this year we saw a ton of companies from guest messaging platforms to revenue management systems showcasing ways for hoteliers to automate away those redundant and tedious tasks.  These tools help you save time, eliminate frustration and mitigate the risk of error across your property operations.   Below are the key HITEC launches and showcases that help hoteliers like you with task automation. Whistle launched AI conversation and dispatch automation for its guest messaging product Some hoteliers fear that adding guest messaging at their property will increase the amount of work for their teams by adding a new channel for requests. The good news is that Whistle has been honing their conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learning (ML) model which now claims to predict responses to 80%+ of guest questions and requests. With this knowledge, Whistle can suggest or automatically prompt the appropriate response back to the guest, and even auto-prompt service requests and work orders to internal departments via Whistle’s lightweight task management module or other integrated Service Optimization solutions like Quore.  Whistle has won the top rated Guest Messaging category two years running and its new time saving functionality looks like they're likely to step up their game again this year. IDeaS showcased Investigator, a new feature to show hoteliers how pricing decisions were made As technology plays more of a role in revenue management many revenue managers want to know the “why” behind pricing decisions to ensure that mistakes aren’t being made and so that they can effectively communicate strategic decisions to stakeholders. With Investigator, revenue managers can drill into the analytics behind decisions made by IDeaS’ G3 revenue management system. Investigator allows revenue managers to embrace automation while also staying in the loop to make sure everything is working properly. OTA Insight adds intelligent rate parity breach detection and bulk actioning via automated alerts Hotel distribution is extremely complex and due to the way that 3rd parties resell inventory it’s nearly impossible to track down parity issues like price discrepancies or room-type issues. Parity Insight provides a turnkey solution to detect, action and resolve parity issues in real-time. The new functionality provides workflow automation and streamlines communication between groups, chains and hotels. OTA Insight is trusted by more than 40,000 properties globally and leverages data across the entire group to help each individual client ensure that their distribution partners aren’t engaging in costly breaches of contracts. Zingle launched automatic message categorization and intent triggered automation Without the right automation, guest messaging can add more work onto your team’s already busy plate so it’s important to have the right automations in place to ensure that this great guest amenity doesn’t come at the expense of team productivity. Zingle’s messaging software has pre-made and customizable automated workflows that re-route and follow up to messages to save staff valuable time on repetitive tasks. There are dozens of automations available today, including recognition of plumbing issues, process information requests (like gym hours), or housekeeping related messages like  room-cleaning and turn down service. Zingle  streamlines communication for hotels and improves service times by reducing the need for manual ticket entry, routing and follow-up by staff.  Zingle raised $11M from Peakspan Capital to fuel technical R&D and drive growth. Fun fact, Zingle's founder Ford Blakey also happens to be the brother of billionaire Spanx founder, Sarah Blakely.   Travel Tripper showcased its ADA compliance audit and monitoring platform to automatically detect compliance issues with your website. The platform offers a proactive approach to the increasing threat of ADA website lawsuits in the hotel industry, allowing hoteliers and their web service providers to address website accessibility issues and mitigate the risk of ADA compliance lawsuits.  This platform is the first of its kind (in the hotel industry) which actively audits hotel websites according to WCAG 2.1 AA-Level standards and automatically alerts property teams if a technical violation is found.  Upon recognizing an ADA violation, the platform sends regular notifications to account users until the issue is fixed.  In addition, Travel Tripper assists hoteliers’ legal teams by giving them the proper documentation they need when responding to an ADA website compliance lawsuit. Cendyn announced a new funding round lead by Accel/KKR to increase the capabilities of its marketing automation products both in SMB (Guestfolio) and enterprise (eInsight). Cendyn was one of the first movers in the hotel CRM market and to this day is amongst the top hotel CRM choices in the enterprise clients with its eInsight product.  Back in 2016 Cendyn acquired Guestfolio, a provider of hotel CRM independents and moving forward AKKR is likely to have its sights set on more M&A opportunities like Guestfolio (or even a larger merger).  With Tim Sullivan taking the helm from founders Robyn and Charles Deyo, hoteliers can expect the firm to push deeper into automation.  Over the last few years hotel CRM vendors have needed to invest heavily in GDPR compliance initiatives but with that behind them expect more "Marketo" like marketing automation functionality out of this category in the next 6-12 months. Protel launched zero cost 1-click integrations to fuel automation Integration is the key to all automation but historically integrations have been extremely expensive and time consuming to set live. protel launched one-click connect and slashed activation costs for select partners in its i/o marketplace. Now protel clients can instantly turn on top rated apps like OTA Insight, Oaky Upselling and Atomize revenue management without paying a dime. While this is a small step towards a more integrated future it is a critical one since this kind of move from a major PMS company like protel with 14,000 clients will put pressure on others to follow suit. Atomize launched its group booking price optimization functionality Group sales reps often price groups manually which takes a lot of work.  If they ask too much they could lose the contract and if they charge too little they leave money on the table. Atomize’s new group booking functionality allows hoteliers to automatically set optimal prices for group booking packages.  The software cuts out manual calculations, negotiations and collaborations by taking into account the total expected spend of various groups on property.  Atomize can factor varied requests within the same group like different arrival and departure dates. Atomize won top rated revenue management system in the 2019 HotelTechAwards and has been taking the industry by storm ever since.  This new group functionality is another step towards rounding out Atomize as a complete revenue management software the platform. SevenRooms launched email marketing for hotel restaurants Hotel food & beverage operations often lack the resources and know how to run personalized marketing campaigns. SevenRooms’ segmentation and email automation enables F&B managers to easily add customizable tags to guest profiles then run rules based marketing campaigns to those segments.  Run unique marketing to critical segments like: first timers, high value regulars, positive reviewers and more. Companies like Revinate and Cendyn have demonstrated the immense value of personalized hospitality marketing campaigns.  Now F&B outlets can benefit from marketing automation too. Zoox debuted facial recognition technology for hotel check-in Front desk agents are overloaded with repetitive tasks like identity verification which creates bottlenecks at check-in and hurts the guest experience. Zoox’ facial recognition software allows guests to check into the hotel in under 15 seconds without the front desk ever needing to verify their identity with ID or credit card. Facial recognition is already being used in markets like China which have leap frogged some of the West’s archaic traditions by using next gen tech. Avvio showcased its Allora powered booking engine Each guest is enticed by different booking messages, layouts and visuals so having a static booking engine means that you’re losing guests by not putting the right offer and presentation in front of them. Allora leverages data from Avvio’s client base to put the right messages and visuals in front of guests that are likely to be enticed by those calls to action. Continuous website optimization is mainstream in eCommerce and is a critical piece of maximizing direct bookings. Avvio guarantees that you will see a 25% increase in direct booking revenue when you switch to their booking engine. Knowcross launched KNOW Maintenance to automate preventative maintenance KNOW Maintenance is a cloud based multilingual application that helps automate, schedule and monitor all preventive maintenance activities at hotels.  The application organizes all engineering responsibilities for hotels, thus ensuring superior guest satisfaction, minimize malfunction accidents and maximized equipment lifetimes. This also results in enhanced productivity and better manpower forecasts. Event Temple showcased group sales automation. Sales & catering is the lifeblood of any business hotel and managing your group sales pipeline effectively could be the difference between making or losing money.  Event Temple's group CRM is purpose built for the hotel industry and features digital contract signatures, banquet orders, pipeline overview, menus and more.  With this software your sales team can track progress at the property or portfolio level.  Event Temple features built in emails and the ability to automate initial drip outreach with new leads.     TREND 2 | A cambrian explosion of tools to help manage and make sense of your data We know that you and your staff are probably sick of tech companies talking about artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data. Ultimately the big hotel data challenge can be boiled down into 3 simple buckets: (1) Guest profile data (2) Market data (3) Operations data   Most of the datasets that tech marketers are referring to are not really big data.  Here’s how analytics firm SAS defines big data. “Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis.” Since big data can be overwhelming for hoteliers, let’s first define our data types so that we can see it’s actually not so scary: Guest profile data helps us target new guests and better serve them on property.  CRM systems use recency, frequency and monetary value as the core data points but this data includes PMS data like stay dates as well as 3rd party data pulled in from social media platforms, reputation platforms like Revinate, guest surveys and other data sources.  Ultimately we want to use this data to find new guests who are like the ones that stay with us and to deliver personalized experiences that drive loyalty Market data helps us price our rooms and plan for the future.  This data includes historical pricing, demand trends, local events and more.  Market data sources come from platforms like OTA Insight or TravelClick Demand360 as well as 3rd parties like Kalibri Labs, STR or CBRE. Operations data helps us streamline how we run our business.  This data comes from PMS and operations systems.  We’ll want to look at things like how long it takes to turn our rooms, average cost per occupied room, time to service requests and more. The challenge becomes tying all of this data together in ways that enable us to make business decisions and act on them in real time.  Integrating these datasets and visualizing them in a clear and understandable way is critical for the success of any hotel. Because this data is constantly flooding into our properties it’s impossible for humans to process it and make good decisions without the right software systems in place. From budgeting and forecasting to marketing and operations, the vendors below showcased new ways of visualizing and manipulating a hotel’s existing data to help hoteliers make better business decisions. Revinate debuted its new platform that promises to manage and organize all of your hotel’s marketing data How can hotels manage relationships with guests? Not just manage room inventory, but create and manage rich guest profiles that tell them everything they need to know about potential guests: recency, frequency, and spending of previous stays to really understand who their VIPs are and when and how they should be marketed to. Currently, data is tied up in various systems that don’t speak to each other very well. Hoteliers need tools specifically built for the complexities and nuances of the hospitality industry. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to managing guest relationships effectively at scale. The Hotel GMS allows hoteliers to easily surface insights on their guest, segment and market to them, and learn more about them over time to make future communications even more effective. Hotel Effectiveness showcased its labor optimization dashboards and new wage benchmarking capabilities With labor costs on the rise and labor being the single largest line item on most hotel’s P&L, finding ways to monitor and optimize your labor and staffing is mission critical for most hoteliers.  The problem is that most hotels still track and manage their labor manually on pen and paper but luckily, Hotel Effectiveness (in depth review).  The team showcased their purpose built tool that is used by major clients such as Heritage Hotels & Resorts, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Pacific Host Hotels and Chartwell Hospitality and promises to reduce total labor costs by 5-10% by turning labor hours and cost data into actionable recommendations served up right in the dashboard. SHR launched its Wave RMS (revenue management system) SHR is the latest in a slew of companies launching revenue management systems in the last couple of years. SHR's algorithm uses Reinforcement Learning techniques with a proprietary mathematical model that recommends prices not only based on one specific date, but factoring in both days-to-arrival and optimal price on shoulder dates, as well, to maximize revenue across the stay pattern.  Wave combines advanced algorithms with a Strategy Builder tool so that Revenue Managers don't need to solely trust a “black box” recommendation. Cenium showed off its Microsoft BI powered customizable dashboards If you’ve used multiple PMS’ before you know that the dashboards often look the same.  Based on your role, there are different metrics and views that are most important to you but it takes a million clicks to get to your favorite view. With a redesigned interface, Cenium put its new customizable dashboards on display at HITEC.  Powered by Microsoft BI, hoteliers can pick from pre-built templates or easily slice and dice data to personalize their dashboard. Owned by a Norweigan hotel conglomerate, Cenium was built for the portfolio’s own hotels and is now being made available globally to other hotels outside its portfolio.  Funded by the cashflow of the real estate business, Cenium’s pockets are deep and offer a deep resource pool to build a strong product with a customer mindset at the heart of product development. SnapShot rolled out its V1 POS Analytics to compare PMS and POS data in one interface While PMS Software was built for hotels, most POS Software was built for restaurants which often becomes evident when trying to run hotel analysis of various F&B outlets or compare POS and PMS data in one interface to identify performance by outlet as well as slice and dice data from both systems to do things like remap and unify POS outlets' names, payment methods, F&B categories and price modifiers. Snapshot POS Analytics is currently only available for hotels who utilize sister Shiji company Infrasys’ POS and the lightning fast growing Lightspeed POS. Profitsword showcased its custom financial performance dashboards The new user interface is a continuation of ProfitSword's commitment to provide instant and straightforward access to the information that businesses need in order to plan and ensure a successful, efficient and profitable operation. ProfitSword customers are now able to instantly access, group and compare real-time performance data in a way that fits their specific needs at any given time, and with a level of detail that is truly a first for our industry and save custom reports as favorites for easy 1-click access.     TREND 3 | A new Focus on enabling guests and driving revenue with self service We’re living in an age where we manage our investments on mobile devices via apps like Robinhood and choose our workouts at home via platforms like Peloton.  As technology gets better, we’re able to go straight to the source and get exactly what we want, when we want it and at a fraction of the cost. In the hotel industry the notion of self service has taken a bit longer to catch up except in innovative markets like Las Vegas.  Many hoteliers believe that disintermediating services is detrimental to delivering a great hospitality experience. In many ways they are right and there will always need to be a highly personal component between guests and staff to truly create a great guest experience. Having said that, there are many facets of hotel operations where guests are actually better served completing these tasks themselves which also frees up staff to focus on building personal relationships, surprising and delighting. An example of this in our professional lives exists within the meeting booking space.  Platforms like Calendly and x.ai are actually much better at scheduling meetings because they integrate directly with our calendars and don't require back and forth to coordinate between parties.  That doesn't mean executives no longer need personal assistants, it just means that personal assistants can focus on adding more value for their employers and skip the back-and-forth. There are lots of examples of this dynamic in hotels. Most guests would prefer an automated grab and go where they don’t need to go through an entire transaction process with an associate.  This seamless experience at the front desk actually builds loyalty by cutting out any wait time or frustration - something that is increasingly critical in the age of instant gratification.  Similarly, there is no check-in experience that can make up for waiting in line at the reception. Solutions like mobile check-in and keyless entry can alleviate wait times and free up staff to focus on higher value tasks. Below you’ll find the latest technology developments within the self service trend that deliver instant gratification and consistently perfect service to guests while freeing up your team to focus on surprising and delighting. Zoox Smart Pass rolls out facial recognition for seamless and verified self-checkin So you’ve been Global Entry or Nexus and wondered why the kiosks there can check you in but you have to talk to someone at the front desk at a hotel.  Well, now you don’t have to. As self service check-in goes more mainstream especially at select service and extended stay properties, it’s only logical that facial recognition will allow for a more frictionless and secure identification process.  With this new tech, guests simply walk up to the computer camera like they would a Global Entry terminal, scan their face and checkin to their room in under 15 seconds. Impulsify showed off its ShopPop hotel pantry solution that they're so confident in it actually comes with an ROI guarantee Having a hotel pantry has often been reserved for brands and larger properties who have the manpower to be able to properly service customers.  Even so, in the majority of cases front desk agents double as grab-n-go cashiers and anytime something is sold it creates a bottleneck at the front desk.  Impuslify’s purpose built pantry POS, ShopPop, allows any hotel to easily run their own pantry to offer additional convenience items to guests while driving ancillary revenue through an easy to use self service checkout kiosk.  In addition to time saving features like automated shopping lists and PMS integrations-- Impulsify has processed over 5 million transactions, giving it a growing database of information so you won't have to rely on instinct or habit to decide what guests prefer.   The results are so good that Impulsify even offers new clients an ROI guarantee. Infor showed conference goers just how easy self-service can be with its POS Kiosks Usually we expect creative displays from smaller companies but at HITEC, Infor stole the show with a live demonstration of it’s grab-and-go solution where attendees ordered food and beverages on one of Infor’s new self service POS kiosks.  Similar to Impulsify, Infor’s self service kiosk allows hotels to offer additional food and convenience items to guests with the tap of a button without having to worry about staff oversight. Zaplox rolled out its new customizable self-service check-in kiosk While self service check-in/check-out kiosks are ubiquitous in the airline and grocery industries, most hotels have lagged behind the trend and few offer a fully self-service check-in process.  More and more technology providers are creating solutions hoping that hotels will wise up and follow their more technologically advanced sibling categories. Following the likes of Mew’s Self Service Checkin Kiosk that was released earlier this year, Zaplox launched their take on the tech hoping to bolster usage of keyless entry by offering a more fluid end-to-end check-in experience.  Zaplox Kiosk enables guests to skip the lines and check in and print their own key cards - with 24 hours availability. The kiosk's custom-branded interface enables hotels to create a cohesive brand experience and because the kiosk runs on any tablet-based device, hotels can select the hardware that best matches the interior and space limitation. Whistle put its conversational commerce on display with its new text based upselling feature According to Whistle, nearly 30% of guest interactions on their guest messaging platform are potential revenue generating opportunities for the hotel. While guests often express their interest in purchasing an item or placing an order through messaging, they are then inconveniently redirected to communicate their request to the appropriate department (ex. Please call room service to place your order) which both adds friction for guests and reduces conversion to purchase for hotels (aka lost revenue). With Whistle’s new upsell module, hotels can add custom inventory from their F&B outlets, pantry, local businesses or even add-ons like late checkout and guests can now seamlessly purchase with one click and have the charges added to the room via PMS integration or leverage 1-click checkout with Apple or Google Pay.  Conversational commerce has long been the gold standard in Asian markets so its great to see frictionless ways to tap into more guest wallet share during their stay while simultaneously adding convenience value for consumers, a win-win for Whistle, hotels and their guests.  MeetingPackage showcased it's group booking engine and channel manager If you’ve ever tried to book a hotel meeting space or venue online you know just how cumbersome of a process it usually is. First you have to fill out a form, then you wait for a response, then when you finally get a response the first question hotels often ask is ‘how much is your budget’.  The whole experience is cumbersome, awkward and feels inherently like you’re being taken by a used car salesman. In comes MeetingPackage to the rescue with its M&E booking engine and channel manager that allows you to manage content, sync across channels to increase your reach and add a booking flow with rich content, add-ons and full customization for your next event promising to drastically increase conversion rates while delivering corporate clients and meeting planners a seamless self-service booking experience that consumers expect. Aethon Robotics turned heads with its delivery robots to cut down on delivery times Aethon’s TUG robots take a different approach to self-service by delivering things like food, linen, banquet supplies and luggage via an R2D2 looking robot.  Except for singularity believers waiting for the Terminator to jump through a time warp portal to initiate Skynet--the Aethon is likely to leave guests with a unique and memorable experience that they’ll want to tell their friends and social media followers about.  Beyond the buzz factor, for hotels looking to cut down on expensive labor can leverage Aethon’s robots to automate common deliveries and cut down on delivery times. Intelity's tablets got a backend upgrade to make it easier for guests to access information at their fingertips New additions to INTELITY Staff include an enhanced ticketing system, a more robust content management solution (CMS), in-depth guest and operations analytics, and Guest360™, which provides a 360-degree view of guest preferences, designed to help hotel staff across all departments make the right decisions at the right time while further personalizing the guest experience. The new enhancements to INTELITY Staff will provide staff with access to comprehensive business intelligence and the ability to streamline daily workflows, seamlessly track, manage, and organize preventative maintenance and service recovery, and make real-time content updates. One of the biggest challenges today's hoteliers face is connecting and engaging with their guests in a personalized manner on digital platforms. Guests expect highly personal experience and interactions in hospitality, but also want to have access to the convenience that technology affords them. The new enhancements to INTELITY Staff streamline staff workflows so that staff can spend more time focusing on creating the connection and personalization guests crave. Saba's chatbot and no-download app  SABA Hospitality manages every aspect of the guest journey. From answering questions, to managing requests, making recommendations, fulfilling F&B orders and everything in between. Their artificial intelligence driven chatbot transforms a hotels guest experience, while lowering staff workload and driving revenue. Swyft put its Amazon-esque cashierless stores on display And we’re back...more automated retail! Have you ever walked by a Best Buy or CVS vending machine in the airport? If so, then you’ve seen Swyft’s cashierless retail kiosks in action.  While not as widely adopted in hotels Swyft’s tech offers another option to generate ancillary pantry and merchandise revenue without the added labor bottlenecks or cost. StayMyWay rolled out all new keyless entry door hardware StayMyWay featured a series of shiny new access solutions including its signature Cylinder door lock hardware and 3 more unique digital replacements that each boasted clean lines and strong functionality without breaking the bank starting at under $200. 4Suites showcased its app-less mobile key solution 4Suites mobile keys are fully automated for hotels and frictionless for guests. No actions required from hotels, no app download or login for guests. All intelligence and security is handled by 4Suites in the background to offer the easiest, yet most advanced mobile key solution. Mobile keys can simplify guest operations, reduce costs and improve the guest experience. If done correctly.  4Suites removes friction and has created a fully automated process for hotels and a simple, seamless and impossible-not-to-understand journey for guests. Qwick showcased its short term staffing platform The Qwick app refines and matches job listings for professionals and allows them to accept and confirm shifts all through a smartphone device. The Qwick app has features all in one central place: view matched shifts to accept, view work schedules, clock-in and clock-out, and receive payments within as little as thirty minutes after completing a  shift through their secured platform. This level of convenience and accessibility is helping to grow Qwick’s database of professionals, ensuring high quality workers and quickly filled shifts for businesses.     TREND 4 | Big tech is leaning into hotels for new use cases & distribution Hospitality has always been a big focus for big tech and fortune 500s but it seems to be heating up in recent years.  Travel and tourism contribute $1.5 trillion to GDP globally so it’s no surprise that these companies want in on the action. Traditionally companies within the room automation space (e.g. Honeywell), high tech materials (e.g. Corning) and business electronics (e.g. LG) focus on the hotel sector and increasingly we’re seeing big tech get into the mix with the likes of Samsung, Microsoft and Amazon.  Below we highlight some of the key hospitality launches for big tech players at HITEC this year. Peloton made its HITEC debut offering a new way to attract a fitness focused audience for hotels Peloton made it’s HITEC debut where the firm unveiled its new “Hotel Finder” feature.   With Hotel Finder, riders can find and book hundreds of hotels with Peloton bikes across the United States.  The Company is set for IPO this year with it’s last valuation set at $4.15B and growth has been on a tear.  Peloton’s rider base recently surpassed Soul Cycle as it doubled its user count year over year and the firm is naturally looking for new growth avenues.  Fitness focused hotel brand Westin partnered with Peloton and this move seems to be an evolution of that thesis.  More than 400,000 bikes were sold by February of 2019 and many of those riders are die hard fitness junkies who are highly likely to seek out hotels where they can get their fitness fix.  As Peloton continues to grow it’s install base and product offerings (e.g. Peloton Tread) hotels could find an interesting niche distribution channel to reach fitness enthusiasts. Samsung mounted its 8k QLED monitors dubbed, ‘The Wall’ outfitted with captivating next generation digital art Samsung’s gorgeous 8K QLED and The Wall stole the show with digital art provided by partners Niio and Black Dove. 8K digital signage delivers impeccable picture quality and resolution that was previously unimaginable at scale. Samsung’s technology uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) upscaling to produce lifelike images and immersive experiences. Great hoteliers know that first impressions are everything. For select service hotels digital art can provide new advertising revenue while for more upscale high end and boutique properties it can give your hotel a huge leg up.  Digital art leaders include firms such as Niio, Blackdove and the 2019 HotelTechAward winner in the digital art category, Wrapped.   Create your own next gen hotel check-in experience with digital art like Sharks from Wrapped on an 8K Samsung Wall.   If you need some inspiration, we highly recommend checking out Wrapped Studios’s Shark installation that wow’d even the high brow crowd of attendees at this year’s renown Art Basel in Miami. Amazon and LG’s hospitality divisions collaborate to make in-room entertainment remoteless Gernophobes will be rejoicing at Amazon for Hospitalty’s latest partnership announced with LG.  Together the companies will infuse Alexa voice controls into the hotel TV experience allowing guests to never have to touch a remote again.  Other than being carriers for germs, most hotel remotes are clunky and make channel surfing a frustrating experience so voice controls promise to make for more seamless guest room entertainment. Microsoft steps up to the plate looking to bring its Teams for Frontline Workers product to hotel operations and compete in the employee engagement category While most offerings in the staff collaboration and employee engagement categories are purpose built for the hotel industry, Microsoft appears to be testing the waters by tailoring its employee communication offering to empower frontline workers.  Teams for Frontline workers dubs itself as “the hub for teamwork” and touts benefits including easier employee training, culture building and document management. With Microsoft’s office suite already being used by most hotels to manage email, the company has a strong foothold into the industry already and may just be able to gain footing in the employee communication category if it plays its cards right.     TREND 5 | Housekeeping software is heating up Earlier this year the NY Times wrote a great piece titled ‘The next wave of unicorn startups’ where it argued that the next wave of billion dollar tech firms will not look like the last.  Rather than splashy consumer facing companies like Snapchat, Uber and AirBnB making their way towards IPOs - the article hypothesizes that the next wave of unicorns will be filled with B2B software companies focused on seemingly boring and unexpected industries.   Now, many of the up-and-coming start-ups that may become the next unicorns have names like Benchling and Blend. And they largely focus on software for specific industries like farms, banks and life sciences companies. ~New York Times Add hospitality to that list because there are some major players entering the market.  Where the OTAs and digital distribution have largely driven the last wave of massive technology adoption in hotels because they focus on the top line, the next wave of hotel tech adoption is coming from operations software and specifically within the housekeeping segment.  After watching Quore take the title as “Top Rated Housekeeping Software for Hotels” in the HotelTechAwards two years in a row, several newcomers are entering the space to capitalize on the opportunity. ALICE upped its game with the launch of its all new ALICE Housekeeping While ALICE has always offered a flexible staff communication and task management platform that is used by housekeeping teams across the globe--the all new housekeeping offering is designed from the ground up to deliver a magical experience that will leave even non-housekeepers wanting to take it for a spin. The platform packs a punch with mission critical housekeeping management functionality like automated room assignments but delivers this functionality in an elegant and easy to use solution that integrates each department on property like a finely tuned orchestra. ALICE gave us a glimpse into the future of housekeeping with an exclusive behind the scenes tour of their reimagined housekeeping product. ALICE gave Hotel Tech Report an exclusive behind the scenes look at the all new ALICE Housekeeping See the product in action Hkeeper showed off new functionality that enables housekeeping departments to track materials usage and supply levels Using HKeeper, you will find all needed operational management hotel's tools and avoid unnecessary problems related to the human factor and lack of collaboration between departments. HKeeper will optimize all daily routine processes, improve your guest relations quality, and free up more time for working with projects and vendors. Hkeeper is one of the best tools for managing the personnel of the hotel and tracking material usage. With HKeeper, you can streamline workflows, reduce the turnaround time between tasks, and increase employee productivity. One of the main advantages over other housekeeping software is that Hkeeper offers a unique feature that allows tracking all materials used during cleaning and maintenance tasks or other operations through the program in real time. Moreover, HKeeper also monitors working progress in real time and analyzes staff performance by counting active working time, turnaround time, and time required for each task. Another exceptional function in the HKeeper program is that the mobile application can work off-line. Not all similar programs are offering integration with PMS software, and Hkeeper does, so hotels can easily stay updated on room status, availability, and guest information. Nuvola showed hoteliers if you can't measure it, you can't manage it The housekeeping department in the hotel industry is simultaneously one of the most valuable areas in creating the best guest experience possible while at the same time the hardest to optimize. Introducing new technologies and systems can often make daily processes seem more complicated and be met with resistance. Developed by former hoteliers with this unique understanding in mind, Housekeeping Productivity has been created to meet the specific department needs through an easy to use system and provides accessibility across desktop and mobile devices. Daily room attendants are now able to streamline activities (i.e., room assignment needs, cleaning service tasks) through an intuitive platform that speaks to the notion of making their lives easier.  Nuvola's analytics suite helps hoteliers gain critical insights to reduce average time spent "in between rooms" for room attendants, measure room attendant productivity by credit count and compare guest survey score vs. room attendants effectiveness. PurpleCloud takes a unique approach to housekeeping by leveraging gamification to increase staff productivity Housekeepers for hotels are in short supply and the nature of the work is unique. Their work is time sensitive and requires great attention to detail. If we give these housekeepers world-class tools to make them better at their jobs and couple this with common sense, easy to understand recognition and incentives, then we start winning their hearts. In doing so, hoteliers win for the guest.  PurpleCloud organizes the housekeeper’s day with a world-class digital platform. Gone are messy paper assignment sheets and balky walkie-talkies. The system is easy to use: self-explanatory; requires only a few clicks; and is available in the housekeeper’s given language. The system further provides housekeepers with feedback on their performance and rewards them for doing well by way of a gamification leaderboard. The result: housekeepers are connected and function as a team.       TREND 6 | Fraud and security still poignant post-Marriott breach A recent study by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) reports that as much as 55% of all credit card fraud in the US takes place within the hospitality industry. Of course, that only considers criminal fraud; but when you factor-in other loss sources like fraudulent chargebacks, the real figure is much higher. Fraud tends to impact the travel and leisure industries even more heavily than other sectors like retail or digital goods. According to Kount, this is attributable to five specific factors: Fluidity: Multiple and last-minute booking changes create more opportunities for fraud. Perishability: Fraudsters tie-up space that cannot be used for legitimate bookings. Margins: Higher ticket values for hotel bookings mean greater impact on the bottom line. Revenue Loss: Excessive false positives mean merchants are declining valid bookings. High OPEX: More manual reviews mean increased operating expenses. With such high transaction volumes and so many moving pieces--hotels continue to be highly susceptible to fraudsters and hackers as evidenced by the Marriott data breach earlier this year of more than 500 million guest records that were hacked earlier this year.  Luckily companies are coming out with new and innovative ways to help hotels ward of expensive fraud and damaging hacks. Canary showcased its Y Combinator approved software that claims to cut chargebacks by up to 90% While not the sexiest topic, payments and fraud prevention are big business when it comes to hotels.  Y Combinator backed Canary Technologies has a suite of PCI compliant solutions to secure guest data, reduce chargebacks, and speed up sales and catering contract execution by eliminating paper processes on property.  If you’re ready to leave your fax machine in the 80s, minimize fraud or just want to hear about why PG is bullish on the product--its probably time to reach out for a demo. Insighti offers hackers for hire to help brands and management companies pre-emptively identify security flaws and protect their data Insighti offers hackers for hire. With the hospitality industry suffering loads of hacks lately from Marriott to Sabre, insighti offers much needed protection. insighti goes in-depth with physical, social, and digital facets of security, using creativity and persistence to find the vulnerabilities other companies miss.  Insighti recently partnered with former MGM Resorts VP of IT Marc Fancourt to create hiGuard.io taking the firm’s approach to cybersecurity and applying it to the unique complexities of the hotel industry. VENZA announces partnership with the PCI Council positioning them on the forefront of the latest compliances and security measures Navigating the ever changing PCI compliance regulations and ensuring that your hotel is up-to-snuff can feel like the endless climb to the top of Everest.  Luckily, Venza is here to be ‘your guide to data protection’. In the limelight was Venza’s partnership with the PCI Council and certification as a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) that enables the team to work hand-in-hand with the council to set requirements, become early adopters on new PCI DSS requirements and, overall, ensure that customers are receiving the highest quality standards possible.  If you’re looking to shore up your hotel’s compliance you’ll want to check out VENZA’s Everest Plan, their entry level plan to get your hotel compliant. ADAsoft launched eSwipe, a passport/ID scanning solution for speeding up and automating guest check-in ADASoft launched its new passport/ID scanning solution for speeding up and automating guest check-in and registration while eliminating data entry errors by seamlessly reading, capturing and accurately transferring data from ID documents and passports into practically any PMS in the market. The company lately announced the release of another unique feature allowing printing of a pre-filled customized registration form available after each passport/ID scan for the guest to sign. Simply scan each guest's Passport/ID in less than a second creating an accurate and complete database, and enjoy the benefits of a great marketing tool and after sales potential. ADAsoft’s eSwipe passport scanning solution facilitates GDPR regulation compliance since typing errors are eliminated and data is accurately registered as stated in GDPR regulation, Chapter II, Article 5, Section 1.d ASSA ABLOY GLOBAL SOLUTIONS unveiled its all new staff safety solution  With the US hotel industry continuing to up its requirements when it comes to staff safety with many cities such as Chicago and Miami now requiring hotels to provide employees with safety devices--ASSA ABLOY is the first major company with a storied history and strong credibility to bring a safety solution to market.  The safety solution runs off of blue tooth low emission gateaways (BLE) via its Vostio Location Solutions software meaning that (a) it doesn't take up any wi-fi bandwidth and (b) it allows properties to unlock additional location based services within their hotel including asset tracking, proximity messaging and wayfinding.

Why do hotels need special accounting software like M3?

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 weeks ago

Accounting as a hotelier is a time and resource intensive process. Finding the right tool or platform to manage it all can make or break your business – and potentially lead to efficiencies and cost-saving that can vault you ahead of your competitors. While there are many tools available in the marketplace, today we’ll focus on m3as (M3 Accounting Software). Widely regarded as a top back-office hosted software solution provider for the hospitality industry, the M3 platform offers state-of-the-art, intuitive accounting, business intelligence, and payroll solutions across all brands and independent hotels in the U.S. and Canada. Built by hoteliers, exclusively for hoteliers, the platform allows franchisees access to their financial and operating information in real-time with user-friendly reports. Leveraging the various platform solutions, users are able to reduce overhead and labor to remain competitive in the industry. But don’t take our word for it; let’s take a look at some real-world examples of the platform in action and highlight the efficiencies and added capabilities afforded to those that have adopted M3.     Actionable business intelligence reports In 2002, HP Hotels was seeking to shift their focus. The hotel brand was spending time and resources building, updating, and maintaining an expensive computer infrastructure on which their accounting and business intelligence programs would run. Accounting and business intelligence were burdensome processes that were preventing the brand from reaching their growth goals. Rather than continuing to focus on the older, expensive computer infrastructure, the company was interested in taking a proactive approach to manage assets and generate returns for owners. Enter M3. After listening to recommendations from industry peers, HP Hotels signed onto the M3 platform. The move has since paid dividends, with the brand growing from two hotels in 2002 to more than 35 properties in 2019. What specifically spurred the growth? The M3 Accounting Core and Operations Management software. After adopting a streamlined staffing model, HP Hotels needed to manage the bulk of their accounting above property, which would eliminate the need for full-service accounting staff at the hotel level. The Accounting Core tool of the M3 platform provided the means for the efficiencies it didn’t think possible, saving both time and resources. Additionally, by utilizing the Benchmarking tool in Operations Management when considering new properties, HP was able to view a quick snapshot of where the potential hotel compares with like brands in the system. This allowed for quick and easy evaluations to be made, leading to smarter, more educated investments. Additionally, Benchmarking has been incorporated into HP Hotels' budgeting cycle to provide leadership with the intelligence needed to analyze how they are measuring up to the competition, because, according to CDO Kerry Ranson, "What got us here won't get us there." Functionality: Accounting to manage the bulk of their accounting above property. Benchmarking in Operations Management for more immediate and actionable Business Intelligence reports. Business impact: Allowed for executing of the streamlined staffing model as well as quick evaluations of new properties, leading to the brand growing from two properties in 2002 to more than 35 in 2019.   Cross-brand benchmarking insights Working to handle the needs of 24 properties, Coakley & Williams Hotel Management Company's two-person IT department found it was spending much of its time responding to simple requests for information. Many of information requests were routine in nature. C&W wanted to find a way to give the IT department the ability to spend its time in more productive ways, which would help C&W increase its own efficiencies. After a series of conversations designed to help M3 understand all sides of the issue, M3 recommended its Accounting Core solution. The software’s setup keeps each individual property’s data confidential, unless a member of a particular property is accessing the system. It also creates aggregate data to help C&W compare each property’s income and expenses against other properties of a similar size and branding. The solution directly addressed C&W’s needs by allowing each of its managed hotels to access its financial information directly and providing the ability to look at the day-to-day performance of each hotel. Prior to the adoption of the M3 platform, the IT department, was spending up to 50 to 60 percent of their time serving as backups for information requests. Now, C&W’s IT staff says it spends less than 5% of its time on hotel-related issues, allowing the department to offer its services to other clients as a way to generate revenue for the company. “In essence, M3 has helped us turn our IT department from a cost center into a profit center,” reports CIO Stephan Hahn. Functionality: Allows each hotel to access its financial information directly and provides the ability to look at the day-to-day performance of each hotel. Business impact: The access to real time and individual hotel-specific information led to a 55% reduction in resources spent by IT on property-specific requests. This allowed IT to offer additional services to clients and generate additional revenue for the company.   Scalable infrastructure and domain expertise On August 29, 2005, everything changed. Hurricane Katrina tore through the Mississippi Gulf Coast, destroying much of the Biloxi office of Encore Hospitality as well as flooding their IT room. Deploying their disaster-recovery plan, the team righted ship and ultimately moved to Dallas, TX, deciding on a location that was less at-risk for natural disaster. The disaster allowed Encore the opportunity to evaluate its current accounting process:, a bloated, outsourced model that had become very costly and required a large, non-scalable infrastructure of hardware, custom software, and 4-5 IT staff to maintain. Additionally, though they relocated their headquarters, the model provided them no assurance that the accounting functionality could be seamlessly maintained and remain operational in the event of another natural disaster or unforeseen incident. M3 was able to intervene and assist. By implementing M3’s products and solutions, Encore was able to downsize its IT department to just two team members, and the offshore accounting team has been reduced to a few associates who input hotel accounting data remotely into Accounting Core. More importantly, the costly hardware infrastructure has been replaced by M3’s private, cloud-based solutions, which store data safely in redundant locations and provide a zero unscheduled downtime solution in the event of disaster or loss at any hotel location. Functionality: Accounting Core reduces the need for superfluous headcount by making the accounting process more efficient. Additionally, the cloud-based platform ensures access in the event of a natural disaster. Business impact: Encore was able to reduce its IT department to just two team members and gained confidence and comfort that they would be able to access their platform regardless of the circumstances. It’s evident that M3’s platform allows for resource efficiency as well as real time business intelligence and analytics, and the outcomes above speak to that fact. Adopting the M3 platform allowed for each company to streamline their headcount and accounting process, compare properties in real time, and secure their data in the event of a natural disaster. In the ultra-competitive landscape of hotel management, M3 has provided a leg up to HP Hotels, Coakley & Williams, and Encore and helps to ensure each company will stay ahead of the pack for years to come.

ALICE Housekeeping: A First Look At The New Software [EXCLUSIVE]

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

If you own or operate a hotel, you know that labor is the single largest expense on your P&L and that housekeeping is typically the largest expense within your labor budget.  If you want to boost NOI, look no further than your housekeeping department. Cleaning the average hotel room typically costs between $10 and $16 with luxury hotels often spending more than $20 (CPOR).  The majority of that cost (~65%) is spent on housekeeping salaries and wages. Hotels that are laser focused on housekeeping optimization often enjoy higher margins and ones that pioneer new housekeeping initiatives often enjoy a significant competitive advantage. Starwood’s “Make a Green Choice” program is one such initiative that not only drove company profits but also fundamentally changed the hotel industry.  Starwood’s program allows guests to opt out of room cleanings in exchange for loyalty program points or F&B credit and is still running today - over 10 years later.  In fact, the program was so successful that almost every hotel in the world followed suit. As pioneers in the “Make a Green Choice” movement, Starwood enjoyed a competitive advantage for years as the competition slowly caught up.  Today hotels around the world are enjoying a similar competitive advantage through the early adoption of cutting edge housekeeping management software. Shockingly, most hotel housekeeping departments today still operate the same way they did in the 1980s.  Every morning, housekeeping managers create boards for their room attendants to reference in order to be able to identify which rooms they have been assigned to using age old tools like pen and paper, PMS exports, radios and other manual methods.  Due to the manual nature of the task, this process can take anywhere from a half hour to several hours each morning and the plan immediately becomes obsolete as soon as anything changes--even something as simple as a housekeeper arriving to their next assigned room to find a do not disturb on the door.  Manual methods also hamper efficiency offering little in the way of performance optimization data and lots in the way of potential human error. Housekeeping management software provides a suite of manager and room attendant tools that combine real time departmental communication and synchronization with sophisticated reporting and analytics. This week, New York City based hotel tech darling ALICE made an announcement that is poised to shake things up for hotels across the globe with its all new Housekeeping product.     While ALICE has always offered a flexible staff communication and task management platform that is used by housekeeping teams across the globe--the all new housekeeping offering is designed from the ground up to deliver a magical experience that will leave even non-housekeepers wanting to take it for a spin.  The platform packs a punch with mission critical housekeeping management functionality like automated room assignments but delivers this functionality in an elegant and easy to use solution that integrates each department on property like a finely tuned orchestra. ALICE gave us a glimpse into the future of housekeeping with an exclusive behind the scenes tour of their reimagined housekeeping product. Let’s dive in, shall we…   The All-New ALICE Housekeeping at a Glance A fresh take on a department that is one of the biggest cost centers for hotels, yet hasn't changed the way it operates in decades Forward-thinking design and intuitive user interface based on a system of simple icons and labels that minimize training requirements and maximize team adoption Push one button and watch your rooms inventory get magically assigned to the optimal members of your team based on your properties’ bespoke rules and characteristics Real time updates and notifications that make manual entry, tracking and repetitive tasks a thing of the past Automated reporting that unlocks new levels of visibility into real time and retrospective performance to bring more to your bottom line Platform approach enables seamless inter departmental handoff to supercharge your team’s collaboration and put an end to expensive and frustrating human error   The all new ALICE Housekeeping boasts clean lines and an intuitive user interface that your team will actually want to use One of the single biggest problems in hotel tech is adoption (i.e. getting your team to actually use software and use it correctly).  When hotel software implementations fail it’s usually due to the fact that on property teams lack the product knowledge needed to properly leverage the tool.  For this reason, hotel software must first and foremost be simple and easy to use--clunky and bloated software rarely (if ever) reaches its full potential. With ALICE, you can put this concern to rest.  The new housekeeping app design is stunningly beautiful and shockingly simple.  The product team over at ALICE has taken design hints from best-of-breed user interfaces like Facebook and Google.  Students of product design know that simplicity has long been the holy grail of product adoption and customer experience.  Housekeeping teams often suffer from high staff turnover, challenging language barriers and in many cases and a lack of formal education.  These factors make design one of the most important factors when selecting housekeeping management software for your hotels. Legacy housekeeping software platforms often run on confusing code based systems (e.g. code 1724 = clean room) that can be difficult to train new employees on.  Contrastingly, ALICE runs on an intuitive set of icons and colored labels which deliver an easy to use experience for new hires and housekeeping veterans alike. Great software design delivers direct business benefits such as reduced training and generally faster on-boarding of new hires.  There’s also a significant indirect benefit to ALICE’s cutting edge UX design which often gets overlooked by hoteliers. Choosing a technology vendor is as much about the future as it is about the present. Legacy software vendors often have hundreds or even thousands of features developed over the years that 90% of their users don’t even know exist (let alone know how to use). ALICE’s intuitive design ensures that your team will be able to easily learn and adopt new feature functionality as the platform progresses.  In fact, the ALICE interface is so simple and intuitive that your team can literally get started with little to no prior training on the software. It's not surprising how intuitive ALICE Housekeeping is given that the product team didn’t even begin designing the product until they had spent more than six months shadowing hotels and performed more than 100 user interviews with hoteliers across various segments and geographies to learn about their pain points, daily routines and what makes them tick.   Push one button and watch your rooms inventory get automatically assigned to the optimal members of your team based on your properties’ bespoke rules and characteristics While ease of use is critical for team adoption--the true magic lies in ALICE’s pièce de résistance which is (drum roll please…) automated smart room assignments. If you operate your housekeeping department the old fashioned way (as most hotels still do), your executive housekeeper sits down at their desk each morning to assess available labor and rooms turnover.  They then spend anywhere from 30-minutes to several hours assigning ‘points’ to staff (ie. the standardized way of allocating housekeeping labor availability to demand on a daily basis) ensuring that all rooms that need to be cleaned are scheduled to be cleaned as efficiently and quickly as possible to accommodate incoming arrivals. This process can be extremely manual and intuition based which leads to lots of guesswork and a myriad of snowballing sub-optimal decisions that cost your hotel valuable time and money. For hotels that want to skip the guesswork and run an efficient housekeeping department,  ALICE’s new housekeeping product allows your team to press a magic button then watch everything fall into place like a game of Tetris.   Once you press the “auto-assign” button, ALICE’s algorithm instantaneously matches your staff with their optimal room assignments based on your hotel’s pre-determined staffing and inventory rules. This process can save your housekeeping managers anywhere from one to three hours each morning. Your housekeeping managers can then use that time saved to focus on other mission critical items that improve the guest experience and optimize your assets. Don’t want to let the computer do the work for you? No problem, ALICE offers complete flexibility for human override coupled with a simple drag-and-drop interface.  You know what they say though, once you go auto-assign you never go back. Auto room assignment is only the tip of the iceberg because in a hotel, things are constantly changing. These critical changes don’t just happen daily, but hourly and sometimes even by the minute. A housekeeper calls in sick.  A guest arrives early. An elevator breaks down.  The list of exceptions, changes and variables is nearly infinite so keeping track of them and adjusting in real time is critical - this is where ALICE really shines. Every room change, late checkout, VIP arrival, etc. upends your whole plan and requires you to reoptimize.  These types of real time optimizations with hundreds of variables and constraints are extremely difficult (if not outright impossible) for the human mind to compute.  With ALICE, however, things like a rushed room will trigger the software to re-optimize room assignments instantaneously sans the mental math and back and forth team coordination. So unless your housekeeping manager is able to calculate sophisticated optimization algorithms on the fly - they’ll be forever grateful for your decision to invest in ALICE.  The platform is likely to save them time, alleviate stress, make them better at their jobs and allow them to focus on the more strategic decisions within the department. Not to mention, it may even help them fend off some grey hair.   Just considering the time savings alone for each fully turned room, investing in housekeeping software should be a no brainer for bottom line focused hoteliers The fatal mistake that many hoteliers make is that they are so caught up in the day-to-day operations that they miss the bigger picture and the impact that seemingly small boosts to efficiency can have on their bottom line at scale.  A few minutes here and a few minutes there might not seem like a big deal in the moment (especially if you don't have software to track and measure this inefficiency) but that's exactly what makes these types of invisible inefficiencies so dangerous silently sucking profit out of your operation. Let's look at an example.  Imagine you operate a 200 room hotel running 80% occupancy and 2.5 night LOS (length of stay).  Based on those numbers, you are going to be cleaning north of 20,000 rooms each year and that's not even considering turndown service, mid-stay cleanings or special requests. So while shaving 4-minutes off of every one hour room cleaning might not seem like a big deal on its own can actually have a major impact on your hotel's bottom line.  In fact, this one optimization alone has the potential to lead to enough in cost savings to pitch ownership on upgrading your hotel's housekeeping software to the 21st century as a 2-4x ROI initiative as shown in the image below.   The new housekeeping product stays true to ALICE's platform approach creating a one stop shop for running and optimizing your hotel's operations With this robust new housekeeping offering, ALICE’s platform creates a seamless symphony between front of house and back office team members while enabling hotel owners and operators to gain critical visibility into their operations and make more informed decisions that ultimately lead to serious bottom line results.   The day-to-day operation of a hotel rests on hundreds of daily requests both internally between departments, and from guests.  Each of these requests involves subtle critical details, back-and-forth communication, execution and follow-up which is what makes seamless pass-on of critical information to the right team member, with native escalation procedures so essential when it comes to identifying and reducing human error. Equipped with ALICE, a housekeeper can leave a note about damaged equipment which automatically creates a work ticket, assigns the ticket to an engineer and notifies them to address the issue.  A room attendant can quickly tag an item left behind for lost & found by snapping a photo so that the front desk knows which guest to expect a call from in real time. ALICE has done an incredible job converting the daunting complexity of hotel operations into elegant simplicity. What’s also great is that once you start using ALICE, you can say goodbye to all manual tracking, note taking and back and forth communication relays thanks to automated notifications, updates and task routing built directly into the platform.     Is ALICE Housekeeping right for your property? The platform is a fresh take on a department that for most hotels hasn’t changed the way it operates in decades. While housekeeping features like automatic room assignments and real time progress reporting stand on their own as valuable additions to the ALICE product suite, the power truly gets unlocked when the platform is utilized by your whole team: front desk, engineering, concierge and housekeeping. Leveraging the full ALICE platform gives your team the tools they need to operate at peak performance by being completely in sync with each other. The all new ALICE Housekeeping combines the computing power of the cloud with deep operational expertise to simplify hundreds of housekeeping decisions made on property each day, and ensure that the optimal decision is effortlessly made in even the most complex scenarios. For some hoteliers, the intuitive UI and sheer awesomeness of ALICE’s new automatic room assignments feature will be enough to upgrade their hotel's housekeeping software.  But if that's not enough for you then the promise of empowering your team to make better decisions that shrink the single biggest expense on your P&L is likely to do the trick. So the question is, if your team can save time, communicate seamlessly, decrease human error, reduce operating expenses, improve service delivery, foster happier employees and give management the visibility and tools to make better decisions from the comfort of their desk - why wouldn’t you give ALICE a try?     This content was created collaboratively by ALICE and Hotel Tech Report.