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Coronavirus: Survival of the Fittest for Hotels

by
Jordan Hollander
12 hours ago

In the face of a global pandemic and hotel industry meltdown we are sailing deep into uncharted waters.  No hotel (or any business for that matter) can stay alive without revenue. The U.S. hotel industry (and airline) came back strong after 9/11 when travelers were afraid of terrorism.  Regions affected by the SARS and MERS outbreaks were followed by similar bounce-backs.  But somehow this time feels different. “Without government intervention, there will be no service industry whatsoever. There’s so many people that work for me whom I am incredibly concerned about. Where are they going to get their next meal? Do they have health care coverage? How are they going to pay their bills? It’s as if aliens came from outer space and decided to totally destroy restaurants,” said famed restaurateur David Chang. The good news is that this pandemic may be over sooner than you anticipate and the mortality rate may actually be much lower than we initially thought (due to undocumented cases).  The tricky part about virality is that the models have wild swings based on even miniscule changes to the assumptions of those models (which are changing dramatically each day).  The same scientist whose very report jolted the US and UK into action has since changed his model assumptions which massively changed the forecasts. “It will recede in a converging exponential; in other words, the coronavirus can be expected to disappear from this region with the same dizzying speed with which it entered our lives,” Dr. Dan Yamin. It’s not only virologists suffering from inaccurate and quickly outdated predictions, hotel industry forecasters like Jan Freitag are facing the same dilemma.     There’s more good news.  The world is uniting against a common enemy and we’re collaborating as a species like never before.  While the media likes to portray drama and political posturing, the reality is that this crisis has helped humanity put aside our cultural differences because a virus doesn’t care where you’re from. On a Facebook live with TED, Bill Gates mentioned some of the collaboration that’s happening in the scientific community.     Even ordinary people are collaborating, as evidenced by Google Sheet of volunteer opportunities created by thousands of individuals from around the world. We’re also seeing collaboration like never before in the hotel community.  Competitive walls were broken down when major hotel chain CEOs addressed U.S. President Donald Trump in their pleas for an industry bailout.  Similarly, major hotel tech companies have banded together in an initiative spearheaded by Cloudbeds to convert excess hotel capacity into lodging for those in need like healthcare workers.  Hotel owners are listing their beds in droves at HospitalityHelps.org. It’s not all good news though.  Never before in our lifetimes has business come to a screeching halt like this...and hopefully it won’t happen again. Most hotel businesses maintain around 2x payroll as working capital (cash to run their day to day operations).  As hotels get closer to the 60-day mark we’ll see more and more layoffs because they simply can’t foot the staffing bills.  The only way to help these hotels is through government bailouts and improved payment terms on mortgages. Here in the U.S., the government has put together an incredible program to offer fully forgiven SBA loans of 2.5x monthly payroll to any hotel business under 500 employees. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we are always looking to understand how technology can help improve hotel business performance but sadly there isn’t a ton that you as a hotelier can do with new technology right now.  Revenue management systems don’t add much value when you’re at 2% occupancy, upsell software can only do so much with a couple of heads in beds and so on. We’d be lying if we said “we’re all going to get through this together.”  We’re not all going to get through this. Poorly capitalized hotels like those described in this great article by The Real Deal will go under even with government intervention.  Overextended technology companies will face the unfortunate same truths.  Even the previously untouchable venture funded alternatives like Sonder and Lyric have faced hard truths faster than we anticipated. We are a strong and resilient industry like many have pointed out.  The Darwinian reality is that these crises make all industries more antifragile.  The bad actors die out (along with many good ones) and only the fittest survive.  Ask your finance friends what major bank balance sheets look like today in comparison to 2008/2009.  The companies that come out of times like these are the leanest and smartest - and they get even leaner and smarter through the pain. We don’t say the above in a good or a bad way - it’s just the truth.  Many hotels have or will cancel software contracts while others will go out of business.  This is really unfortunate and painful for their suppliers in the short term but new owners will purchase those properties and those owners will understand more than anyone the power of running an efficient organization. They’ll be more entrepreneurial in aggregate and eager to surround themselves with the best technology partners around.  For software companies this means there will be more whitespace than ever before in history to pick up new market share - in the 12-18 months after this crisis fades we will see the defining hotel technology companies of the future separate from the pack.  COVID has been a great equalizer and while painful we believe that it will accelerate digital transformation in hospitality (like many industries) by 10-15 years.   As we said before, technology can’t save you RIGHT NOW but great software is the key to running an efficient and consistent business.  Market intelligence software helps you stay ahead of trends, revenue management software can help you price rooms automatically without relying on a revenue manager who’s basing forecasts on last year’s irrelevant results, operations tools can keep consistency of SOPs and so on. TCV’s David Yuan shared an awesome initiative from Toast POS to get consumers buying restaurant gift cards to support their favorite local businesses.  The same way that a restaurant can’t serve you when they’re shut down, tech companies can’t do all that much for hotels that aren’t open. Software is key to how you anticipate, react and recover from a recession.  It makes you better at acquiring guests, running an efficient operation and maximizing every dollar. During the Bill Gates interview with TED he was asked what he would do if he was President right now and his answer was basically “It’s too late, the time to act was 3 years ago.  All we can do now is ramp up testing, pray for a cure and promote social distancing”. Similarly, the only thing hoteliers can really do now is negotiate with lenders, stay current on local bailout opportunities, make prudent layoffs, focus on helping their employees as much as they can and pray that this ends soon.  Once we’ve sorted out all of those issues and have some downtime while our businesses are closed, the best thing we can do is prepare for the next downturn and improve our operational capabilities. Never again will you have this much time to try different technologies and lots of vendors are even offering concessions and free tools that we encourage every hotelier to take advantage of for this limited and unprecedented period before we get back to the new normal. Do everything you can afford to support the technology companies pushing our industry forward because when this is all over you’re going to need them more than ever.     The biggest barriers to adopting technology are broken down right now in ways they will never be again - take advantage of that to optimize your business before it's too late. #1 Contract Lock-in: Most can be broken with force majeure.  If you don't like a vendor, now is an opportune time to upgrade your stack. #2 Switching Risk: Especially when it comes to mission critical systems it can be scary trying to migrate while your hotel is at full occupancy.  This is the perfect time to make the move while your hotel is closed. #3 Time: Learning new software takes time no matter how easy to use the system is.  You'll never have this much time to try and learn once the market picks back up. #4 Cost: Lots of vendors are extending free trials during closures from 30-days to 90-days.  You'll never have an opportunity like this to try software and see if you like it over extended periods of time.  Having said that, your vendors are hurting as much as you are - support them don't strain their businesses unless you absolutely need payment delays etc. Use the golden rule and treat them as you hope guests treat you. #5 Integrations: This barrier is already broken down.  Simply avoid vendors who charge high integration fees or don't integrate with your critical systems.  There are plenty of great vendors who have open APIs...it's 2020 after all. Focus on ensuring your hotel business survives this crisis financially then get proactive, get creative and learn how to optimize your business to accelerate the recovery and you'll be outperforming the compset in no time.  Remember that the best defense is a good offense.  Everybody looks like a genius in a bull market, it's times of crisis that separate the average hotel businesses from the truly great ones. -- Put the proverbial oxygen mask on yourself first.  Once you've got your finances sorted out - here are some ways that you can optimize your hotel business and support the technology vendors working hard to keep the industry running smoothly.   WHISTLE GUEST MESSAGING. Extended free messaging (guest and team) for new signups. A few reasons how Whistle will help your hotel during the crisis: - Social Distancing: No need for in-person interactions between gueststaff and staffstaff - Efficiency: Hotels can manage more inquiries and help more guests, now that they are operating with even more limited staff - Remote Operations: Respond to guest inquiries remotely. Unlock offer → Offer terms: Extended free trial available until June 1, 2020 for new clients.  No CC required unless hotel is continuing after trial and cancel at any time, even after trial period, no penalties   LIFE HOUSE (HOTEL MANAGEMENT):  Life House is an VC-backed institutional management company that uses software & process innovation to increase low cost direct bookings & materially reduce the operating costs of a hotel, which is ever-more relevant with depressed revenues. To support owners who need help navigating these difficult times, Life House is offering waived management fees until 2021 and a complimentary management transition for independent hotel owners. Whether a 200-room luxury boutique hotel or a 25 room bed & breakfast, Life House's white-labeled management platform can help. Learn more about the offer →   ATOMIZE: You can now get Atomize Revenue Management Software, free of charge, up until you have realized 50% of your average occupancy. This offer comes with no setup fee, free training, and including support. This limited offer is valid until April 30. Learn more about Atomize →   TRUSTYOU'S TRAVEL HEALTH INDEX. Due to widespread limitations on travel, there is currently an unprecedented drop in hotel stays. To help hoteliers from all over the world to assess the global and regional situation, we are now introducing the Travel Health Index! This exclusive KPI is only available from the world's largest guest review database and it benchmarks current #review activity with the normal levels of 2019. Access it here and keep an eye on the Index for weekly updates.  Learn more about the Travel Health Index →   ALICE PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST. Hoteliers know how to run a property, but shutting one down is a different story.  That’s why ALICE created a free checklist tool within their software that hotels can use to keep their property safe and clean with a skeleton crew that is available for free to any and all hotels looking for help. A few reasons how ALICE will help your hotel during the crisis: - Preventative Maintenance: Understand what needs to be done to keep your property safe and clean with a skeleton crew to avoid property damage and maintenance issues during downtime. - Crisis mgmt: Hotels are not meant to operate at low occupancy, or with a lean staff, yet that is the trend for so many hotels right now. ALICE Checklist helps hotels take rooms, floor and whole buildings out of service, while maintaining a record of tasks to bring a hotel back up to full occupancy quickly and easily. Get the free toolkit → Offer terms: ALICE Checklist is available to any and all hotels that are using (or not using) the ALICE platform with no strings attached. It is a free product, there are no obligations, and it can be cancelled at any time.   REVINATE'S COVID RESOURCE CENTER. Revinate ran a survey and found that 70% of hotel professionals are looking for projections on how this unfolds, and 71% are looking for planning ideas. That’s exactly what this new site aims to provide.  This resource center will aim to be a centralized source of info and resources to help hoteliers in these uncertain times. Browse the resource center →   JONAS CHORUM PMS. Save on your PMS with 90-days free of Jonas Chorum for new clients. A few reasons how Jonas will help your hotel during the crisis: - Remote work: Cloud functionality, allowing hotels to remain connected and conduct business remotely, while also specializing in remote training to avoid any face-to-face contact. - Financial relief: Provide hotels with financial relief to help them ride out the storm. Learn more about Jonas Chorum → Offer terms: This particular offer is only for new clients and is only being offered for a limited time as we are essentially getting companies up and running on our software free of charge. We would also be willing to honor this offer for a period of time whenever the impact of the pandemic starts to lessen.    ALLIANTS GUEST MESSAGING. A few ways Alliants can help your hotel during the crisis: - Easily outbound message with impacted guests across all the key channels, including, WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, LINE, etc - Allow your teams to stay connected with guests, staff, and vendors while helping keep social distance. - No setup fees/onboarding costs - All training & installation can be done remotely. -Get your property up and running in less than 2 days. See Alliants in action → Offer terms: We are offering our Alliants Messaging platform at no charge till the end of 2020. You can cancel at any time. No credit card is required and we can have your property live in less than 2 days. Oaky Pre-Arrival Templates. Pre-arrival communication + translations templates to ensure effective communication so your guests feel safe. Get the templates →   RATEGAIN FREE STRATEGY SESSIONS. Complimentary, one-to-one session with RateGain experts. A few reasons how RateGain can help your hotel during the crisis: - access 200+ years of combined experience across all fields - Revenue Management, Distribution, Social Media and even HR - RateGain has its own data, both current and historical. As such we possess the knowledge and insights to guide our prospects in a way that no other can. Schedule a free session → Offer terms: We are running it for three weeks starting coming Monday. We are only doing it for our prospects i.e. companies which are not a customer of RateGain. We are doing it for our customers anyhow. This is a 100% free service. Basis the request we receive we can extend it for a longer duration as well.   Want to list your company's offer? Reach out to our editorial team via live chat   BEEKEEPER INTERNAL TEAM COMMUNICATION. How are you keeping your employees up-to-date on the coronavirus? Reach every employee across shifts, locations, and languages with one easy-to-use mobile-first communication app.  A few ways Beekeeper can help your hotel: - provide instant communication between all employees - allow for real-time updates on Coronavirus as it affects your company - Allow for shift schedules to be accessed away from the hotel Learn more about Beekeeper → Offer terms: This offer is available until June 2020 and is for new clients. Cancel anytime.   UMI DIGITAL’S FREE EXPERIENCE PRE-PAYMENTS TOOL. Simple pop-up website overlay to showcase closure messages while selling future experiences. Works with existing voucher systems via outbound links. Learn more about the offer → Offer terms: FREE set up for hotels on Wordpress and FREE license for 3 months during the pandemic. We have a simple proposal that requires acceptance but do not require payment details.   HELLOSHIFT MESSAGING & WEBSITE LIVECHAT. Hotels can use Guest Messaging and Website Chat to keep the line of communication open and accessible to all guests (and future guests.) With Staff Collaboration, hotels can keep running with smaller operational footprints and more staff working remotely. Use Covid-19 specific checklists, populate a knowledge base with Covid-19 specific information, and keep in communication with laid-off employees. Learn more about the offer → Offer terms: To help hotels deal with Covid-19, HelloShift is offering free service to all sign ups till July 1, 2020.   HOTELCHAMP DEMAND TRACKER. Demand Tracker shows you real time demand based on your website date searches. Conversion Rate (CVR) helps you to contextualise performance of different dates. Change of search behaviour keeps you informed of shifting demand. A few reasons how HotelChamp will help your hotel during the crisis: - understand demand in the current market is key to steer pricing decisions - see real time demand from your website for up to 365 days in the future - create alerts for changes in demand so you can proactively act on what is changing in the market Learn more about HotelChamp → Offer terms: New and existing clients. Completely free, no subscription to be set up. Automatically ends after 90 days.   ROOMPRICEGENIE AUTOMATED REVENUE MANAGEMENT: Fully automated dynamic pricing solution in place helps you know when business is coming back and help you react immediately. Continuously track how your market behaves and understand when business is coming back. Learn more about RoomPriceGenie → Offer terms: The offer is for new clients and it is valid until further notice (as long as the tough times last). After the regular trial period, clients need to sign up and will receive a 100% discount until they see business coming back. Our monthly cancellation policy stays the same - so they can cancel at any time.   AVVIO DIGITAL ACADEMY: With so many amazing hoteliers out of work Avvio is turning their time and resources to helping out with important skills development to help out during this period of downtime. Their Hotel Digital Academy is available for free registration and the first hotel digital marketing course will be starting next week. Hospitality will have to “do more with less” as the industry recovers and we think upskilling will be more important than ever as training budgets will inevitably suffer. If you know of anyone in our industry that you feel might benefit from this can I ask you to consider please sharing. Learn more about Avvio →   EXPERIENCE HOTEL EMAIL MARKETING. Hotels can get their Free access to our CRM's Emailing tool and send up to 3 custom Email campaigns to all their customers, valid for 3 months to keep guests informed as the situation evolves via email. Learn more about Experience Hotel → Offer terms: No cost, no commitment. In order to access this free service, they must register with a professional email corresponding to their hotel; a manual check of each account is made to avoid abuse.   SAVETHEHOTELS.COM BY BOOK VISIT. Last Friday we started a marketplace called savethehotels.com which is completely free of charge. The idea is to make it easy for consumers to see all the great deals the hotels are offering right now in order to survive.  Set up unique promotions that are easy for guests to book. Learn more about Book Visit → Offer terms: Right now we have the page as long as there is a need. We have no plans for this to be an OTA in the future. Right now we just want the hotels to survive otherwise we will also go down.   HOTEL RUNNER PULSE UPDATES CENTER. With HotelRunner Pulse, our goal is to support the travel industry using the ‘big data’ from the HotelRunner platform, which performs tens of millions of transactions per day, and to give our partners a snapshot of what is happening in the industry during these extremely challenging times. HotelRunner Pulse will be updated weekly, and you will be able to access detailed data from the previous week, data-points include travel agencies that bring the most bookings, confirmed and canceled booking volumes, average stay durations! Learn more about HotelRunner → Offer terms: Starting this week, through the special panel we developed, we are providing free access to real data based on bookings made through HotelRunner in the previous week.   MYSTAY EMAIL TEMPLATES. MyStay Freemium automates the way properties can inform guests about the situation in the region and hotel's health and safety protocol using pre-defined email templates and semi-automated rebooking. It also allows automating selling extra services to the fewer guests to come in the next months through pre-arrival communication, email templates covering COVID-19 related health and safety protocols, flexible rebooking or loyalty points policy.  Special guest web as a WiFi landing page with stay-related information focusing on COVID-19 related aspects. Learn more about MyStay → Offer terms: The offer and MyStay Freemium package is and will remain available forever unless canceled by the hotel. It is available to new clients, no contract or credit card required. The product is not going to disappear once the pandemic is over, hotels will be free to continue using it for free or choose to upgrade to any of the paid profiles.   HOTEL DIRECT BOOSTER WEBSITE LIVE CHAT. Livechat software for 1 month to keep contact and convert its visitors into direct bookings on the hotel's website.  Many hoteliers closed their hotels but they shouldn't close their direct bookings. Keep contact with website visitors during the pandemic on the hotel website and helps hoteliers prepare the resumption of bookings and support travelers. Learn more about HDB → Offer terms: 1 month free offer only for new clients.  Available until April 30th 2020. Non-binding offer.  No credit card required   GO MOMENT WEBSITE LIVE CHAT. Use Go Moment’s website live chat tool to inform potential hotel guests of the steps your hotel is taking to keep guests and staff safe, suggest rescheduling instead of canceling  and collect leads for future groups.  Learn more about Go Moment → Offer terms: Offer available through June 30th, 2020. After June 30th, rate will change to $250 per month.   BOOKBOOST UNIFIED INBOX & WEB MESSENGER. During this difficult time, we want to stand with the hotel industry. Our Unified Inbox and Web Messenger are now available for FREE to all hotels worldwide. Bookboost Unified Inbox enables you to manage all guest inquiries from your website, email, Facebook Messenger, in one inbox. Give clear and consistent COVID-19 communications and Save your team answering repetitive questions, improve efficiency and provide service day and night with chat automation. Learn more about Bookboost  

Hotel Housekeeping Duties: A Day in the Life

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

Do you want to jump into an exciting new career? Or brush up on your hotel operations knowledge? The housekeeping department is a crucial part of the hotel business, but you may be wondering how exactly it functions. Housekeeping staff perform essential tasks to keep the hotel running smoothly, and a housekeeping job can be a great launchpad for a successful and fulfilling career in hotel management. In this article, we’ll define which roles you can find on a hotel’s housekeeping team, explore hotel housekeeping duties (including the duties and responsibilities of a housekeeping attendant), and offer tips for finding a job in the housekeeping department. By the end of this article, you might be inspired to consider a career in the housekeeping track - but you’ll definitely feel more appreciative of the hardworking people who make each hotel stay a pleasant one.   What positions are in a hotel housekeeping department? Housekeeping teams can vary greatly depending on the size of the hotel. Small boutique hotels may have just a handful of room attendants, while giant resorts can have hundreds of housekeeping team members. The enormous MGM Grand in Las Vegas has nearly 400 room attendants working on a given day! But room attendants are just one part of the housekeeping department. The entire team can include several sub-departments, each with different responsibilities and areas of expertise. Leadership roles: In very small hotels, the room attendants might report directly to the front desk manager or the general manager, but most hotels have a leadership role within the housekeeping team. In medium-sized hotels, this role could be a Housekeeping Manager or an Executive Housekeeper, and in large hotels, there might be a Director of Housekeeping who is supported by an Assistant Director of Housekeeping, a Housekeeping Manager, or an Executive Housekeeper. The head of housekeeping is responsible for scheduling staff, managing expenses, and ensuring all rooms and public areas meet the hotel’s standards of cleanliness. Rooms: All hotels have guestrooms, so all hotels have room attendants that are responsible for cleaning rooms during and after reservations. In some hotels, floor supervisors might oversee the room attendants on each floor and perform quality control checks. Public areas: Just like guestrooms, a hotel’s public areas also need to be kept clean. Public area attendants keep the lobby, meeting spaces, restaurants, bars, offices, and any other public areas neat and tidy. Laundry: All those sheets and towels need to be cleaned somehow! Some hotels send their laundry out to an off-site laundry service, but many hotels have on-site laundry rooms. Laundry attendants are responsible for cleaning, drying, and pressing all of the hotel’s linens, towels, and uniforms. Many hotels also offer valet laundry for guest clothing, so specialized laundry staff handle those items. Some hotels also have on-site tailors and upholsterers to fix or alter uniforms, furniture, and guest clothing items. Linen room: After the sheets and towels have been washed and dried, linen attendants organize them in the linen room and distribute them to various departments in the hotel. Other roles: Some hotels have a dedicated phone operator for the housekeeping department, who answers calls from guests and other hotel departments and forwards the request to the appropriate housekeeping team member. Some hotels also have minibar attendants, who are responsible for restocking and billing minibar items, as well as housemen, who bring housekeeping items to guestrooms upon request, such as additional pillows or towels.     The housekeeping department works closely with other hotel departments too. The front desk communicates with housekeeping constantly, working to coordinate check-ins and check-outs, and following through with guest requests. Housekeeping staff partner with the engineering department to resolve maintenance issues and fix broken items, and even the food and beverage department works with housekeeping to ensure linens are pressed and dining spaces are clean.   Daily tasks for the hotel housekeeping department There’s never a dull moment in a hotel’s housekeeping department! The entire team works together to make the hotel shine - literally - so that guests can have the best possible experience. With so many moving parts, strong housekeeping departments utilize housekeeping technology, like Optii Solutions, to streamline communication within the department, reduce errors, prevent communication lapses, and improve overall efficiency. Communication can be challenging for a big team that often works in different areas of the hotel, so housekeeping-specific systems can make communication between the room attendants, public area attendants, laundry staff, and management team easier. But what does each member of the housekeeping department actually do each day? Housekeeping manager duties The housekeeping manager’s role is to organize the housekeeping department’s operations. He or she is usually the main point person for the housekeeping department when communicating with other departments, like in emails or meetings. The housekeeping manager sets the department’s schedule and holds the team accountable for upholding the hotel’s service standards. A housekeeping manager’s daily tasks include: Gathering arrivals and departures reports Scheduling housekeeping staff for the week or two ahead Working with the front desk to arrange special requests or welcome amenities Attending hotel leadership meetings Holding pre-shift team meetings Responding to guest requests Resolving guest service issues related to housekeeping Leveraging technology to communicate with other departments and track task completion Managing department expenses, like supply costs and payroll Room attendant duties A room attendant has one of the most important jobs in the entire hotel. If a guest’s room isn’t clean when they arrive or if essentials aren’t restocked mid-stay, then the guest can have a negative impression of the hotel. They might never stay at the hotel again, and they might write a bad review of the hotel online. On the other hand, if a room attendant goes above and beyond to provide quick service and attention to detail, the guest could have a very positive experience that inspires them to return again and again. Room attendants have a lot of responsibility and can make or break the guest’s experience. Room attendants usually work in shifts of 8 hours, during which they may clean as many as 16 guestrooms. Many hotels offer housekeeping service only once per day, so room attendants would work one daytime shift (usually 8am to 4pm, approximately), while high-end hotels that offer evening turndown service would have a second shift of housekeeping staff who work afternoon and evening hours. Some hotels also might offer 24-hour housekeeping service, so a few room attendants may work overnight shifts. Duties and responsibilities of housekeeping attendant include: Cleaning guestrooms mid-stay and after departure Making beds Replacing dirty linens and towels Restocking guestroom amenities like toiletries, drinking glasses, and notepads Removing garbage, recycling, and room service trays Picking up and returning valet laundry items Organizing and stocking housekeeping carts Notifying the maintenance department about broken appliances, old light bulbs, or damage Upholding the hotel’s confidentiality and security standards Respecting “do not disturb” signs and the guest’s privacy Public area attendant duties Like room attendants, public area attendants have a big impact on a guest’s impression of the hotel. Nobody wants to see overflowing garbage cans, dusty lobby furniture, or dirty carpets in the hallways when they stay at a hotel, so a public area attendant’s job is instrumental in creating a positive guest experience. Some public area attendants work daytime shifts, while others work evening or overnight shifts to clean high-traffic areas, like lobbies, when guests aren’t using them. A public area attendant’s daily tasks include: Cleaning public spaces like lobbies, restaurants, and meeting rooms Cleaning back-of-house areas like office and employee changing rooms Cleaning stairways, hallways, and elevators Emptying garbage cans in public areas Reporting broken items to the maintenance department Laundry/linen room attendant duties Though most laundry or linen room attendants don’t interact directly with guests, their work is crucial to the hotel’s overall operations. Without clean sheets and towels, room attendants can’t do their jobs and guests will want to stay elsewhere. Daily tasks of laundry staff or linen room staff include: Sorting, washing, drying, folding, ironing, and organizing all hotel laundry, which can include towels, sheets, bathrobes, napkins, tablecloths, uniforms, and more Removing linen that has stains or holes Operating washing and drying machines Mixing and measuring soaps, detergents, and cleaning products Handling guest valet laundry and dry cleaning within the agreed upon timeframe   Skills and requirements for a hotel housekeeping employee While hotel housekeeping duties are very important - and a career in the housekeeping department can be rewarding - the work is often challenging. Housekeeping staff need a variety of skills, a passion for service, and a high level of dedication to be successful in their roles. Housekeeping employees, especially room attendants, need to be able to perform various physical activities, which can be strenuous: Push/pull a housekeeping cart Stand, walk, or kneel for an extended period of time Lift or move heavy objects, like mattresses or chairs Use hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills Besides the physical requirements, housekeeping staff must have a strong work ethic and many soft skills, including: Attention to detail Guest-forward thinking Teamwork and collaboration Organizational skills and time management Listening skills Honesty and integrity High energy levels If you’ve never worked in a housekeeping department, that’s okay! Most staff members get on-the-job training for the specific housekeeping skills needed for their role, like how to make a bed and how to operate the laundry machines.   Finding a job in the housekeeping department Are you interested in working in a hotel housekeeping department? You’re in luck! Hotels are always searching for good housekeeping employees. Most hotels post their housekeeping job openings online, so you can easily search for open roles and apply online. You will be able to find job posting on individual hotel website or on popular job boards, like Indeed. In addition to applying online, you can go to a hotel and apply in person. Most large hotels have human resources departments that accept in-person job applications. Once you’ve applied (online or in person), you’ll likely need to have an interview with the hotel’s human resources department, the housekeeping manager, and maybe even the general manager, depending on the size and quality of the hotel. The housekeeping department is an essential part of hotel operations, and the hardworking staff who perform hotel housekeeping duties contribute greatly to the overall guest experience. But the staff can’t do it all alone; technology partners like Optii Solutions can help the housekeeping department run more efficiently, reduce communication gaps, and handle guest requests. Optii’s analytical features can even help housekeeping departments decrease costs and improve performance by revealing trends and areas of opportunity. With the right tools and a strong team, the housekeeping department can do their part to ensure every guest’s experience is a good one.  

5 Things the Hotel Industry Must Learn From QSR (Quick Service Restaurants)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

As a hotelier, you can take insights from many different industries and apply those learnings to your own property. But what can the QSR industry (quick service restaurants) teach you? If you’ve ever felt confused or overwhelmed by the idea of implementing new technology at your hotel, then the quick service restaurant sector can offer some great examples. Many businesses in the QSR space  have incorporated technology to delight guests, build loyalty, and deliver exceptional hospitality - which might be the same goals you have for your hotel. Technology doesn’t need to be scary; like these QSRs, your hotel can also leverage technology to achieve excellent results. In this article, we’ll uncover five lessons from major brands like Starbucks, Yum Brands, and Dominos.  We’ll show you how to apply their best practices to the hotel industry. While the intricacies of hotel and restaurant operations might be different, their overarching goals of hospitality, loyalty, and growth are the same. Let’s explore how hotels can take a page from the QSR book and implement technology effectively.   What are Quick Service Restaurants? While you may think that all restaurants should offer quick service, a “quick service restaurant” is a distinct category of eatery. Also known as “fast food,” quick service restaurants have a few unique characteristics: Diners order at a counter and no table service is offered Meals are priced between $4 and $8, on average Diners spend just a few minutes in the restaurant, taking most food to go Menus and kitchens are designed for speed and efficiency Brands include KFC, McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, and Starbucks Though these establishments aren’t necessarily known for their personalized service, hoteliers can learn from their efficient operations, customer loyalty, and rapid growth around the globe. Quick service is an exciting segment of the restaurant industry, and as technology becomes a more integral part of the business, some innovative quick service chains can be looked to as pioneers. You may have also heard about casual or fast casual restaurants. What makes these establishments different from quick service restaurants? Casual restaurants are a step up from quick service in terms of ambiance (diners receive table service), menu options (more sophisticated choices), and price (average check around $15). Some notable casual restaurant chains include Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and TGI Fridays. Fitting in somewhere in the middle, fast casual establishments combine the efficiency of the quick service sector with the higher quality of the casual sector. Fast casual brands include Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Jimmy John’s, offering counter service and healthier menu options.   Lesson #1 (Yum! Brands) Invest in Your Tech Suppliers For a quick service restaurant like KFC, food delivery is a crucial part of the business. KFC’s parent company, Yum! Brands, wanted to ensure that their own point-of-sale system worked seamlessly with the GrubHub interface, so Yum! invested $200M in GrubHub. The result was a streamlined process from the initial order to the delivery dispatch to satisfied customers whose orders arrive without a hitch. While we’re not recommending that every hotel invests millions of dollars in their technology vendors, there is a lesson to be learned here. By working closely with the companies that provide your hotel software (and paying them fair prices!), you can invest in their future. Become a part of their product roadmaps by providing feedback and supporting new initiatives, and you can reap the benefits of technology that works for you.   Lesson #2 (Domino’s Pizza) Consumers want instant gratification and convenience Imagine that you’ve craved pizza all day (or maybe you don’t need to imagine it to know what we’re talking about), and when you finally get home, you open your food delivery app to make your order only to find out that the estimated delivery time is an hour from now. Do you still order? Or do you find something else to eat? Domino’s realized that their pizza-loving customers want pizza now - and they don’t want to jump through hoops to get it.  To satisfy this need for instant gratification and convenience, the pizza chain implemented a “fortress strategy,” in which they opened additional stores in existing markets in order to reduce delivery time and keep their customers happy. Of course, hoteliers can’t add more front desks or put gyms on every floor, but they can eliminate friction when guests are trying to find information or resolve issues. For instance, hotels can improve room service operations by allowing guests to order via an app, which is a much smoother experience than waiting on hold when calling the room service office.   Lesson #3 (Starbucks) Consumers demand mobile transactions If you’re a loyal Starbucks customer, perhaps you remember the days of ordering coffee from a barista. Today many Starbucks customers order their coffee drinks through Starbucks’ mobile app, which is one of the most popular apps in the restaurant industry. In the app, customers can look at menus for any Starbucks location, place orders, pay, and collect loyalty points, and the user-friendly design provides an enjoyable experience. Since today’s consumers are accustomed to ordering everything from the palm of their hand - from cappuccinos to clothing - hotels need to ensure their mobile booking process is up to par. It’s not enough to have a basic website anymore; your booking engine must be optimized for mobile and guests should be able to manage their reservations on a smartphone. Software companies like Maestro PMS offer mobile-optimized booking engines that make mobile bookings easy and user-friendly so that your hotel can deliver the same type of seamless experience that consumers expect from Starbucks.   Lesson #4 (KFC) Franchisees and independent owners of hospitality establishments care more about technology than ever before It seems like KFC doesn’t just serve up fried deliciousness, but also some worthwhile lessons on leveraging technology in a busy hospitality environment. KFC figured out how to use digital data to more accurately predict busy delivery times, analyze customer behavior (like how buckets of chicken is a popular choice for group meals), and reduce the rate of errors in orders. And this attention to technology isn’t only at the corporate level; according to Christopher Caldwell, KFC’s chief technology officer, around 80% of the questions he gets from franchisees are related to technology. The same tech-forward mentality can also apply to hotels. Hotel franchisees should work closely with their brand representatives to stay on top of any new technology developments, and independent hoteliers can work closely with vendors to bring cutting-edge tech to the property level. Great technology is the key to smooth hotel operations, and with the right software in place, it can even open up new revenue opportunities.   Lesson #5 (Taco Bell) Personalization determines winners and losers In this digital age, loyalty programs mean more than simply collecting points and getting a “happy birthday” email every year. Taco Bell is stepping up their loyalty program by offering personalized deals and menu options for customers based on factors like their order history, preferences, and even the weather in their location. Hoteliers also want to gain guest loyalty, and personalization is one way to build a lasting relationship with guests. For instance, if your hotel has technology in place that can determine that a particular guest orders a glass of red wine at the bar on the first night of every stay, then you can surprise the guest with a bottle of red wine in their room on their next stay. The guest will be thrilled, tell all of their friends about the amazing experience, and likely choose your hotel again and again. Again, the secret here is to have technology in place that allows you to easily find opportunities to personalize the guest’s stay. -- In each of these lessons, we discover how technology enables quick service restaurants to deliver excellent experiences (pun intended) and build customer loyalty. Though the QSR sector might not be the first one that a hotelier would look to for advice, this industry’s quick and effective adoption of technology is something that any savvy businessperson can learn from. When you partner with technology vendors like Maestro PMS that understand the importance of mobile optimization, personalization, and convenience, you can truly take your hotel’s guest experience to the next level.  

How to Start a Hotel Business (and Succeed) in the Age of AirBnB

by
Jordan Hollander
1 month ago

If you’ve ever wondered how to start a hotel business, you’re in good company. Today, in a world where anyone can become a hotelier by uploading their property on Airbnb, the hotel dream is alive and thriving. It’s never been simpler to turn that dream of starting a new hotel business into a reality! But living the dream is easier said than done. The growth of Airbnb has made for a hyper-competitive environment that requires a thoughtful, thorough approach. There’s a lot more that you need to do if you want to build a business and not just a hobby. It takes a ton of time to build up enough cash to scale your business when you’re going property by property, unit by unit. To grow wealth faster as a hotel entrepreneur, you’ll need to take more risks and make bigger bets. Every month thousands of independent hotel owners leverage Hotel Tech Report to find the latest technologies to help run their properties.  We reached out to more than 50 hotel owners to ask them about their journeys, struggles and lessons learned along the way. As you plan to open a successful new hotel business, the insights from these entrepreneurs will help shape your journey.  You’ll need to take concrete steps to plan the best approach to starting your hotel business. The path starts here. We’ve put together a high-level guide to getting started with a hotel business. Step by step, we’ll show you how to mitigate the risks of starting a new hotel business in today's hyper-competitive market. By planning carefully, being strategic and empowering your operation with the right technology, you can turn your hotel business idea from dream to reality!   Statistics About the Hotel Owners We Interviewed to Research this Article If it’s your dream to open a hotel one day this article is for you.  When most people think about hotel owners they think about billionaire magnates like Conrad Hilton or Bill Marriott but in reality owning a hotel is actually not so different from opening a retail shop or convenience store.  Hotels do require a bit more capital but they are much more profitable and sale-able than other small businesses.  Here’s a bit about the hoteliers we interviewed for this article: 90% of respondents own a single hotel like a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast 70% of respondents own a hotel between 11-50 rooms Top 3 funding sources: bank loan, savings and friends/family investment Average time owning a hotel is 6.4 years so they have significant experience to share but generally aren’t lifelong hotel owners   How Much Does it Cost to Start a Hotel? The cost to start a hotel business obviously varies based on tons of variables such as: Location: places like New York City are much more expensive than somewhere like New Delhi, for example Quality: obviously a five star resort is much more expensive than a roadside motel Size: the number of rooms, restaurants, meeting spaces, etc. all have massive impacts on cost Despite the hotel startup costs varying dramatically, there are some data points that we can take into consideration when factoring for a "typical" hotel.  Data from HVS Consulting shows that ground up construction of a full-service hotel typically costs $323,500 "per key" (or per room).  Again, this is for a lifestyle full-service hotel so it's not the cost of a 10 room bed and breakfast, for example.  That figure breaks out into 5 buckets: Land: $33,900 (10%); this includes real estate cost Building/Construction:  $221,500 (66%); naturally building and construction is the largest budget item.  Owners typically secure construction loans in order to fund the project before the cash flow comes in. Soft Costs: $41,800 (12%); these include everything non-construction related like designers, architects, lawyers, insurance, permits and taxes. FF&E: $29,100 (9%); FF&E stands for "Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment" and includes anything that's movable in the building desks, computers, electronic equipment tables...well you get the idea.  FF&E is also sometimes referred to as "hard costs" Pre-Opening & Working Capital: $10,700 (3%); you'll need to hire staff ahead of opening so pre-opening expenses fund salaries before the operation goes live and revenue starts flowing in to fund the day-to-day.   Benefits of Starting a Hotel (According to Real Owners) Rather than list out the benefits of starting a hotel business, we wanted to share some of the responses we got from hotel owners around the world who helped us with this article.  Generally, hotel owners love to meet new people who travel to their properties and thrive on positive feedback about the experience that they deliver to guests.  They also tend to enjoy a more flexible lifestyle that doesn’t involve 9-5 desk work.  Here’s what they had to say: “I would say the two things I love most about owning a hotel are: the freedom of lifestyle it affords me and meeting interesting people/guests who I would have never ordinarily met” ~David Duron, Owner at Lemon Beach Resort in Ghana “The first aspect is being self-employed and meeting positive people every day. We love people and enjoy being around them. The second aspect is the possibility to try different strategies and new technologies to achieve success. The most fun is to discover the place again and again where your guests have never been.” ~Janis Stepins, Owner at Karlamuiza in Latvia “It’s literally a dream come true when you see your own design being built and executed exactly in the way you have envisioned it. In my case, coming from a background in technology startups, my philosophy still is to move fast and frugal. So when you own a hotel, you have full control to run it very agile and effectively see how your decision and execution affect the performance. But in the end it’s most rewarding to seeing guests enjoy their stay, especially as we put a lot of our own personality into our places. What’s also really special, is to see the team feeling proud to be involved in the business and truly care about it as if it’s their own house.” ~Fay Li, Owner at Beyond Boutique Villas in Bali   Beyond Boutique Villas in Bali, Indonesia   Key Lessons From Our Interviews With Experienced Hotel Owners What do you know now that you wish you knew before opening your hotel? “Really focus on developing a great marketing plan and revenue management strategy so that you can continue growing the business and refining over time.  Hotel marketing often gets overlooked but it's what differentiates you from the competition” ~Akino West,  Owner at Copper Door Bed & Breakfast “I wish I spent much more time selecting the right property and restaurant management systems.  Those are at the core of everything we do and it’s a huge decision that we didn’t take seriously enough when we first started,” David Duron, Owner at Lemon Beach Resort “Get versed in revenue management and dynamic pricing systems.  If you start a hotel with flat or seasonal pricing in this day and age you are almost surely destined to fail,” Leonard Pinger, Owner at Pinger Hotels “Build from scratch. For our first hotel, we chose to innovate and upgrade and existing property. And even though it performs very successfully from the very start up until today, we did learn a lot about how some people take shortcuts in quality during development. Luckily we had calculated that anything potentially could need to be replaced and we used almost all that budget. That’s where we learned that design and quality are most important. Also finding the perfect person who has a local operations background is worth the time, effort and salary. As they say, the first solid blow is half the battle.” Fay Li, Owner at Beyond Suites What advice do you have for people looking to open their own hotel business in 2020? “Have a well thought out business plan, connect with other hotel owners and learn from your mistakes.” ~Akino West,  Owner at Copper Door Bed & Breakfast “Buffer your market research.  Whatever business plan you have, always add 30% of extra costs and 30% of extra time for building it. Then you will not be surprised,” David Duron, Owner at Lemon Beach Resort “Many owners choose location based on passion (places they love) or opportunity (wherever they can buy).  Before you start your search, do a comprehensive analysis of the location and local real estate market.  If there is too much supply or too little demand, it’s going to be a very difficult road no matter how good your product is,” Leonard Pinger, Owner at Pinger Hotels “Things like management styles and operational efficiency can be learnt and improved over time. So that’s something you can adjust or even reinvent at any time necessary. Even your interior design, decoration style and what’s on the menu can be updated or upgrade whenever needed. But that can’t be said for the design of your place and the location. These are things to focus on hardest as there's no way back. And even then, some of the best looking places in the wrong spot fail. So it sounds like a cliché, but it truly is: location, location, location. Besides that, use as much local expertise as you can as it will make operation much easier and it’s important to respect the community,” Fay Li, Owner at Beyond Suites   STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE Step 1: Do You Want to Build or Buy? Your first decision is whether to find a hotel for sale or to develop one from scratch. When we asked our hotel owners whether they would prefer to build a new hotel or buy an existing one for their next property 72% told us that they’d prefer to build a new one.  This was surprising to us because building is always riskier and more capital intensive. Hotel acquisitions are lower risk because there’s a past performance history and you know what you’re getting: a turnkey hotel business that’s already generating cash. You also avoid the time-intensive logistics of getting permits, designing the space, and building out the property. Not to mention a valuable database of past guests and a staff that’s already trained and familiar with the property. On the flipside, developing your own property gives you more control over building the experience from the ground up. New hotel developments can also produce more profit  long-term than buying an existing hotel. Generally speaking, once completed you’ll have an opportunity to make more money because you took on more risk -- including the potential for a future windfall if you ever sell. But it’s also much riskier because your cash will be tied up for an extended period of time with no income. When deciding whether to build or buy a hotel for sale, you’ll need a strong market analysis to verify the positive market trends supporting new hotel developments. You’ll also want to evaluate any existing properties for potential efficiencies, such as adding new technology to streamline operations and improve bottom-line profitability. These efficiencies allow you to capture more profit from that existing hotel, making it a much better investment than it would be otherwise.   The Gaige House + Ryoken in Sonoma County, California features 29 rooms in a tranquil setting   Step 2: Analyze The Data And Determine Feasibility Once you’ve chosen to buy or build, the next step is to make sure that the numbers work. The numbers will tell you how much capital you'll need, how much that capital will cost, how long it will take to turn a profit, and what the potential upside is to you, as the operator/owner/investor. A feasibility analysis includes: A financial model. Model the financial inputs and determine how much capital you need. How much will the build out cost (or the purchase of a hotel for sale)? What rates can you realistically expect to get, and at what average occupancy rate? Will you be able to increase your rate over time, once your hotel has been established? This is where you call out the assumptions that underpin the rest of your feasibility analysis. A pro forma. The pro forma includes your balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement to show how You foresee the investment for farming. This includes your forecasted income and expenses over time so you can project cash flow and see how long it will take to turn a profit. The pro forma accounts for your front-loaded expenses within the context of a longer term forecast so investors can see the business’ potential.  Capital sources. Of course, you’ll also need to figure out where you’ll get your capital. Will you get investors like friends and family, go to a bank or pull from your own savings? Or maybe it’s a mix of all three.  you need to lay this out clearly to be sure that you have access to enough capital to cover the costs of your financial model. The final piece is to carefully consider your profitability projections, especially as they relate to the cost of capital. Calculate how much your capital costs and then be sure that your pro forma shows that you’ll make enough profit to compensate for the risk.   Step 3: Create A Hotel Business Plan Now that you have a handle on your financial projections, now it's time to make a hotel business plan. This is the plan for how you’ll launch, promote and operate your new business. Without a persuasive plan, it's going to be nearly impossible to secure investment -- especially if you're going through traditional institutions such as banks, which have more stringent requirements. So what should you include in your hotel business plan? In general, an effective business plan evaluates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (also known as a SWOT analysis) for different areas of your business. It also makes the case as to how your hotel business fits into the local market and broader industry trends. Ultimately, it’s a storytelling document so try to avoid the trap of overly formalizing everything. The temptation to “business speak” is real! Specifically, the plan should include: Executive summary. This is the high-level overview of your hotel business plan. It should be a quick and concise view into the most important elements. Brand positioning. Tell the story of your brand. What is your concept? What does it stand for? Who is it targeted to? How does it fill a gap in the local market? Also work including is a bit about your objectives -- revenue targets, occupancy rate profitability date, etc.  Market analysis. This analysis should be done at two levels: your local market and the broader industry. Show the local market travel patterns and put broader industry trends into context so potential investors understand the market sizing and potential for future growth. Competitor analysis. Clearly outline your competitors. Be honest and don’t hold back. Investors will cop to any glaring omissions. Highlight your understanding of who your hotel competes directly with to highlight your savvy to potential investors. Guest segmentation. Expand upon the demographic targets from the brand positioning section. Who is the hotel for? Be as specific and detailed as possible here, including any personas and the addressable market of your target market. For example, if your boutique business hotel will target Millennial travelers, show how large this segment is.  Understanding guest personas is absolutely key to creating a successful hotel and is often under-appreciated. Strategic plan. Explain your strategies around marketing, distribution and revenue management. This is where you'll convince investors that you have a sound plan to connect with customers, manage your inventory, and maximize your revenue. Operations plan. Provide a detailed look at how you operate the hotel, including the types of technology that she'll use, how you will hire, what roles you will need to fill,  your service standards, and any other relevant operations info. Financial plan. Include your pro forma to outline forecasts and profit potential. The team. Sell your management team! Investors are looking at the management team’s ability to execute the vision laid out in the plan. Milestones. A timeline of relevant milestones, from initial permitting to build out to staffing, grand opening, and eventual profitability. Appendix. The end of the plan is where you'll put any additional information or supporting documentation. Push anything that’s too complex here so that you can focus on the most important strategic highlights elsewhere. Remember that the objective is to secure investment so the plan should be edited accordingly.   Step 4: Create Your Digital Presence and Distribution Strategy Once you get to this stage, it means that you've secured financing and you're moving towards building your own line strategies for building your business. Exciting but also scary. To start, you'll need to create your hotel website. This is your calling card to the world! It should be a modern website, designed and optimized for eCommerce, with its own booking engine that works across all devices. As the center of your direct booking strategy, you want your website to work well and help you capture as many commission-free bookings as you can! You’ll also need to get listed on third-party sites, like Booking.com, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and others. You’ll need to craft an engaging profile with on-brand descriptions and captivating imagery. Great profiles are proven to bring more bookings, so invest the time and don’t rush through it! Be sure to also claim your social media handles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Even if you don't plan to use all those platforms, be sure to secure as many handles as you can to prevent squatters! Finally, you want to interview different PR agencies to promote your property. Early on, you’ll want to raise awareness about your upcoming opening with relevant travel agents and news media. This is the kind of early digital buzz that can lead to a successful opening. Once you have your website up, and your social media handles locked in, put your PR agency to work.   Step 5: Pre-Opening Strategies As more properties and brands enter an already-crowded market, differentiating on experience takes center stage. You absolutely *must* deliver an exceptional guest experience that earns great reviews and helps your new property stand out in a crowded field. Use the time during construction wisely to set your hotel's operations up the right way from the get go. Three key pre-opening strategies are your staffing, operations and technology plans. First is your hiring plan: which roles are hiring for, how you will fill those roles, what’s the timeline for staffing up and how will you train them prior to opening. Given the inherent unpredictability of the build-out phase, it’s never easy to know when to hire key roles, such as the GM and the director of sales and marketing. GM: around 12 months before opening to start planning the operational framework for the hotel, select other key hires, build a training program, and craft a launch plan.  Directors of Sales/Marketing and Finance: around 8 months before opening to begin plotting the path to profitability. Director of Engineering/Facilities: around 10 months before opening so there's enough time to become familiar with the building and its equipment. Second, you must create the operations blueprint for the hotel. This is where you plan out how each element works together, including the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that structure the hotel for consistency and predictability. At this phase, you’ll want to work on things like: Brand standards. Set the standards for how your brand is represented to the public, including room cleanliness, staff/guest interactions, service recovery and communications guidelines, among others.  Checklists. Operationalize each process into a corresponding checklist. This makes for stronger consistency, easier training and will also be handy inputs for your software tools.  Legal. Are you protecting your investment with the right legal documentation? Do you have the right employment contracts in place? What about contracts for buyouts, maintenance, or other commercial relationships?  HR policy. How you hire, fire, and retain employees says a lot about your business. You'll also need job descriptions, a standardized interview process, and a plan to manage the inevitable interpersonal conflicts. Third, you must set up your property with hotel software that enables smarter, leaner operations. In partnership with your key hires, evaluate software according to form (is it easy to use?), function (does it do what we need it to do?), and budget (can we afford it?).  36.4% of the hotel owners that we interviewed for this article said that setting up the right IT and technology systems was the most difficult part about opening their hotel. Here’s the basic tech stack that every hotel absolutely needs to run a profitable business no matter the number of rooms: Property Management System: this is the core operating system of your hotel.  It’s the place that manages live inventory and powers all of the other systems you use.  The PMS is what your front desk agents use every day to check guests in.  Hotel Website: Many small hotels still choose to rely solely on OTAs and travel agent partners for bookings.  This is a huge and costly mistake.  Your direct channel is most profitable and hotels without a dedicated website lose trust in the eyes of guests.  At minimum, create a website that acts as your hotel’s digital brochure for prospects to learn about the property.  If you really want to win in direct you’ll need an agency partner. Booking Engine: This is the equivalent of the hotel industry’s “shopping cart”.  Shockingly, many smaller hotel websites even today require guests to inquire for bookings.  These hotels are missing massive opportunities and rarely succeed.  A booking engine makes live inventory from your Property Management System (PMS) available to book from your website. Reputation Management Software: Reputation is everything in today’s world.  50 years ago travelers only relied on travel agents and brands to select hotels.  Today, guests look to places like TripAdvisor, Google and OTAs to see what guests like them are saying.  Online reputation software enables you to establish and maintain a presence on these third parties to make sure your hotel is getting found. Channel Manager: You want to list inventory on as many relevant channels as possible but don’t want to spend all day changing rates and managing availability.  Channel managers allow you to automate these connections and ensure that once you’re found on third parties, that your property is bookable. Commercial Wi-Fi: Unless your property is positioned as an “off the grid” type of experience, good luck getting guests to come back without WiFi. Rate Shopping Tool: How you price your hotel should change as market conditions evolve.  Getting signals from the local competition can help inform your strategy.  A rate shop tool will scrape third party websites and give you pricing intelligence in real time that you can act on to win more guests. Revenue Management Software: Gone are the days of seasonal flat pricing.  Well, at least the hotels who still price like this will soon be gone.  Price too high and your guests book with the competition, price too low and you’re losing revenue.  RMS tools use machine learning to help you price rooms without the guesswork. Staff Collaboration Software: For the smallest properties (5 rooms and under) a simple Slack channel or Trello board might do.  But even small properties can have complex operations when it comes to servicing guest requests, maintaining a property and managing workflows between shifts.  Specialized hotel operations software is highly recommended for almost any hotel size.   Step 6: Throw A Killer Opening Party At long last, it's time to revel in the fruits of your labor: an opening party! This is certainly a moment worth celebrating alongside friends, family, colleagues and investors -- and also with influencers that can amplify your hotel launch. One approach to launch is to have a private “soft opening” party for a limited group of friends and family. This allows you to test out the space and get a feel for hosting events there. Then, once you work out the kinks, you open up the doors to an “official” launch party that includes influencers, VIPs and other locals. As you plan the big night, give your party a theme and dream up some Instagram-worthy backdrops. Some other elements of a killer opening party: Press. Work with your PR  agency to ensure that you have all relevant local press in attendance, as well as any other outlets that may be interested Influencers. In addition to journalists, collaborate with your PR agency to identify some local influencers to invite. Nearly every city has lifestyle, food, and travel influencers that can put your hotel in front of a broad audience for a minimal investment. Event planners. Your sales and marketing team should also take advantage of the launch to invite event planners to come experience the space in person.  This is a great way to jumpstart the relationship with potential prospects! Entertainment. Book some live entertainment that brings your space to life and aligns with your brand promise. Live music or other entertainment  is also a nice enticement for people to post to social media during the party. Food and drink. Of course, it's not a party without delicious food and drink! If your property has its own F&B, the opening party is also a great way to introduce the new offering to the community. Giveaways. Mark the occasion by giving away a few stays and some swag. These are small moves that add up to big impressions for a new hotel.  Photographer. It's a worthwhile investment to mark the occasion with a professional photographer. You can use these photos on your social media accounts and to share with event goers. Photo booth. You might also want to have a photobooth that's connected to social media so that you can encourage attendees to take funny photos and share them online, creating a direct line to some complimentary advertising. To amplify your opening, consider adding a paid advertising campaign and some exclusive, limited-time only promotions to celebrate the launch. These are great ways to get people through the door to experience the hotel and start building word-of-mouth.   Hotel Owner Interview Spotlight with Marius Donhauser Marius Donhauser comes from a family of hoteliers and is the owner of Der Salzburger Hof hotel.  While running his hotel, Marius noticed dozens of opportunities for growing efficiency and delivering a better guest experience that were slipping through his fingers without the right hotel operations software in place and decided to create hotelkit.  Marius has come a long way since first piloting hotelkit at his property and has works with more than 1,000 properties globally.  As a hotel owner who also helps thousands of other hotel owners, Marius is a wealth of knowledge for anybody looking to start a hotel business.   What’s one thing that you know now but you wish you knew before running your own hotel? I come from a family of hoteliers. We have been working in the hospitality industry for generations. So, I like to think I knew quite well what I was “signing up for”. I certainly didn’t blindly throw myself into this business. I was prepared to be open-minded. After all, hospitality is one of the most fluid and rapidly changing industries. What I did not anticipate was that most hotels were still stuck in the paper and post-it era when it came to managing daily tasks. With digital solutions taking hold nearly everywhere else, so many opportunities to simplify operations were not taken into consideration at all by the hotel industry. How could it be that, in 2012, we had successfully landed another Mars Rover, but major hotels were still writing handovers and to-do lists on paper? In summary, I really underestimated the lack of innovation in internal processes at the industry’s core. Hotel owners themselves have to drive change in their organization and get everyone on board. Basically, I wish I’d had a software like hotelkit from day one. What is the most important skill that a hotel owner must have? You’ve got to have the common touch to succeed at managing diverse hotel staff. As a hotel owner, you need to be able to work well with people from all walks of life. Your teams will not be made up of only people who are just like you. Or even of people who are sort of on your wavelength. In fact, having uniform teams would be counterproductive! Therefore, the most important skill a hotel owner must have is to understand how to be the linking part between different groups and people, to understand their needs and be open-minded. In the end, diverse teams make for the best results! What personality traits differentiate average hotel owners from great hotel owners? It’s nice to be nice, but just being a pleasant host is not nearly enough. A great hotel owner is an allrounder with a good grasp of many concepts, including marketing, sales, revenue management, design or innovation management and being tech savvy is not a disadvantage. Moreover, great hotel owners are not afraid to work with people who are better skilled than themselves or with people who are true unconventional thinkers. Great hotel owners know how to deal with constructive criticism. After all, innovation and revolutionary developments are never spearheaded by conformists and yea-sayers.   *** With these insights, you're well on your way to knowing how to start a hotel business.  It’s most definitely an involved process that’s not for the faint of heart. If you’ve got that itch for hospitality, sometimes you just have to scratch it!

How to Implement Six Sigma Practices at Your Hotel

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Do you think that your hotel is running at peak efficiency? How much more profit do you think you could earn if your operations were fully optimized? Even a few percentage points of improvement is a major deal! How, you ask? You may have heard of Six Sigma and Lean, manufacturing methodologies that use statistics to drive efficiency, and felt that they didn't apply to you. But what if they did? What if Lean Six Sigma could make your hotel more efficient, so you could use less labor to get the same amount (or more) out of your team? Even if statistics was never your thing, there's some real benefits to applying Six Sigma practices of your hotel. So don’t flinch when we say “statistical analysis.” There's no need to be afraid! It’s much simpler than it sounds. We’ll walk you through a brief history of Lean Six Sigma, outline its principles and share some Six Sigma case studies to illustrate how it influences key metrics at your hotel -- all without sacrificing any part of the guest experience. In fact, you'll likely see improvements across the board, including with guests. This concept will help you identify root causes of declining satisfaction or efficiency so that you can tap the power of continuous improvement by leveraging six sigma tools to improve your current process.   Who wouldn’t want that?   What is Lean Six Sigma? Six Sigma statistical-based methodology used to reduce variation and eliminate defects in business transactions and processes. This improves consistency and reduces waste. Tina McCrossan, Vice President Sales & Marketing at HRS simplifies this by illustrating how it can be used to improve operations and empower teams beyond the factory: “Six Sigma is a methodology that seeks to understand the causes and effects of quality breakdowns. Six Sigma teams are taught to use techniques and tools to evaluate and determine change value, which is then measured against change cost. Let’s make it simpler: It’s a suggestion box program.  Years ago, before the days of e-mails and blogs, HR departments put out suggestion boxes for anyone to bring forth ideas on how things could be changed for the better. Six Sigma is a philosophy and methodology for prioritizing, cultivating and processing those suggestions.” Lean is a methodology focused on boosting efficiency of business processes by eliminating waste throughout the production cycle. Historically associated with factories, this methodology has become a common management philosophy around maintaining tight control over operational efficiency. Lean Six Sigma combines these two concepts into a single management framework  which focuses on eliminating waste, reducing defects, and overall efficiency. For hotels, any process that generates an outcome that negatively impacts the guest experience is a defect. Defects usually occur because of variations in the processes. The overall objective of Lean Six Sigma is to make processes as consistent as possible so the operation flows smoothly and there are no variations in the guest experience. At its core, six sigma requires skills like data collection, problem-solving and data analysis.  Without these fundamental skills it's difficult to identify the holes in your existing processes and achieve operational excellence.   Sigma Training for Process Improvement The official Six Sigma methodology helps professionals in all industries move from yellow belt to green belt, six sigma black belt and eventually master black belt.  Belt levels are achieved as sigma practitioners achieve project management excellence. While structured training is critical for manufacturing professionals many other industries can benefit from sigma projects and the mindset in general even without going through the official six sigma certification and training program.  What kinds of businesses can benefit from the six sigma process? Any business focused on quality management and growing their bottom line will find value in the six sigma methodology and philosophy.   Brief History of Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma was popularized by engineer Bill Smith at Motorola in the 1980s and Lean by Toyota automotive from the 1940s onwards as part of its Toyota Production System. Six Sigma is a methodology used to reduce variation and eliminate defects in business processes. While the concept was coined in the 80’s, the history of Six Sigma dates as early as 1924. Here are some of the key dates in its development: 1924: Mathematician Walter Shewhart introduced statistical quality control via “control charts” that measures process efficiency  1986: Bill Smith introduced the concept of Six Sigma at Motorola, eventually saving the company more than $16 billion. 1995: Jack Welch popularized Six Sigma by making it his core strategy focus at General Electric -- and transforming the company in the process. Lean, as a paradigm for eliminating all forms of non-value-added work, has a timeline that starts over a century ago: 1890s: Mechanical engineer Frederick Taylor performed his famous time study to optimize standardized factory work. 1913: Henry Ford makes faster production time and higher outputs through the “flow production” method. 1960s: Industrial engineer Taiichi Ohno fathered Toyota’s famous production system which became known as Lean Manufacturing.   Six Sigma Explained (for Non Statisticians) We promised that it would be simple -- so here it is: Six Sigma is based on a statistical concept of a normal distribution, or a bell curve. Most things in life follow a normal distribution such as human heights; a few people are really short, a few people are really tall, and most people cluster towards the middle. That's what gives it the bell shape. Easy, right? Ok, one more thing... These clusters are known as the mean, or where most occurrences happen. Occurrences happen less frequently as you move further from the mean in what are called standard deviations. Your hotel has these natural patterns too - its normal distributions and its standard deviations. Think of your check-ins and checkouts -- those will cluster during certain time periods (most likely your posted check-in and checkout times) and be less frequent as you move from further from the mean. From there, you could then drill down into the time it takes to process each guest to identify opportunities for improved efficiency. To do this, track the amount of time it takes to check-in a guest from start to finish, and then you’ll see the occurrences cluster around a mean. Perhaps the majority of check-ins take five minutes but there will be some that take three minutes and others that take seven. As those three and seven minute check-ins will happen less frequently, we’ll start to see a mathematical relationship. That relationship can then guide your improvements, which is the objective of Six Sigma: to identify the causes of variance in operations and work towards eliminating them to deliver more consistency -- and for hotels, a predictable operation means an improved guest experience and lower overall costs.   The Principles of Lean Six Sigma The key principles of Lean Six Sigma center around the Japanese concept of “muda,” or waste, which was at the core of the lean methodology invented by Toyota. At your hotel, you should focus on identifying waste (and thus inefficiencies) in eight areas: Motion: Look for wasted physical efforts due to unnecessary steps in a checklist or other areas where excessive motion wastes productivity. Example: walking to get reservation documents from the printer at check-in, storing inventory far from where it's needed the most Transportation: Look for areas where items (rather than people) move inefficiently from point A to point B; this can also include data. Example: delivering room keys to guests, excessive back and forth coordinating events, confusing/excessive email attachments. Waiting: Any time staff member is waiting on another staff member or a guest to do something, there's waste. Example: housekeepers knocking on doors to see if they can clean a particular room,  Overproduction: These are times when there is excessive production of items, either because of poor process or because it's unnecessary. Example: using physical room keys instead of digital ones, printing paper schedules or room assignments,  printing out emails. Inventory: Holding onto too much inventory is a classic example of waste. Example: stocking up on plastic shampoo bottles, buying too much food for a banquet event.  Overprocessing: This refers to any step or task that’s unnecessary and doesn't add value. Example: manual data entry during a night audit, generating “reports for reports sake” that never get used. Within each of these areas lies a wealth of opportunities to kill inefficiencies and eliminate waste. Whether it's reducing housekeepers' steps, dropping duplicative steps in your hotel checklists or improving communication so maintenance doesn’t have to walk back to the front desk, each incremental improvement snowballs into major change.   Examples of Six Sigma in the Hotel Industry Lean Six Sigma is made much easier with software, especially staff collaboration tools. One option is the integrated software suite provided by Quore, which pulls together guest messaging, facilities and housekeeping management, and staff communication into a single platform.  With technology like this on their side, staff across all departments will enjoy better prioritization, clearer communication, and happier guests. Here’s how tools like Quore help your hotel implement a Lean Six Sigma mindset that  drives key metrics for your hotel: Faster processes Metrics: Check-in speed, room turn time Fewer redundant steps means that your staff is more responsive to guests and work on tasks that matter most to the hotel. For instance, with Quore Housekeeping, your team can get real-time room prioritization and can thus turn rooms more quickly. This eliminates waiting around for a guest to leave by sending housekeepers to the right rooms at the right time. Increased customer satisfaction Metrics: Guest survey scores, guest reviews, ADR, repeat guest % Guests expect to be able to communicate with hotels via whichever channel or device is most convenient. With a centralized guest messaging platform like Quore Connect, guests can easily make requests, which are then routed into Quore’s Staff Collaboration tool so requests can be handled expediently. Happier guests leave better reviews, which feeds a positive feedback loop that gives your hotel more pricing power with its rates. Better service delivery and a higher-quality product also leads to more repeat guests, building your valuable loyalty loop. Lower costs. Metrics: Labor as a percentage of revenue, facilities repair cost When you tighten your processes and eliminate wasted effort, you reduce your costs. You’re usually able to deliver the better quality service, because staff aren’t wasting their time on redundant steps (and are usually happier and less frustrated). With Quore’s facilities management tool, you’re also able to stay on top of both urgent and routine maintenance, which saves you money in the long term. Happier staff. Metrics: Turnover rate, staff satisfaction survey. In a competitive labor environment, hotels must empower their teams with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. By eliminating stresses, such as miscommunications that lead to a guest checking into a dirty room, Quore’s centralized staff collaboration tool keeps staff on the same page -- leading to fewer conflicts with guests (and each other!). It also offers a sense of accountability and trust, which is key to long-term satisfaction at work. As you can see, Lean Six Sigma will streamline your operation by helping you and your team identify and fix defective processes to most efficiently allocate labor resources. Those efficiencies mean that you can do more with less. And, since a stronger guest experience results in better, more consistent reviews, this methodology leads to stronger competitiveness in your market and more gross revenue. That’s a potent mix of efficiency and reputation, which means that you’ve got a more profitable hotel. A winning formula!  

What You Need to Know About Amadeus' Complete Hospitality Portfolio

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

As you evaluate potential hotel tech vendors for your hotel, you’ve likely found yourself comparing smaller point solutions to those from a larger enterprise player, such as Amadeus for Hospitality. It's not an easy comparison to make: big companies have sizable technology teams supporting their clients but you can feel like a small fish in a big pond when you're just one customer of thousands. On the other hand, smaller startups can move faster and often give your hotel more attention. The hope is to find a solution that’s on the budget, available on your timeline and eliminates data silos. For hotels evaluating software for managing operations, service optimization, or group sales, Amadeus has a robust software suite that can be customized according to different budget, timeline, and needs. You can take one solution or all of them, according to whichever problem you need Amadeus to solve. The portfolio is wide-reaching and comprehensive, and Amadeus’ size and global scope makes it a formidable technology partner. But is it right for your hotel? Here’s what you need to know about the complete Amadeus portfolio so you can decide which products fit your hotel’s needs.   What Amadeus Does: Tools For Managing All Aspects Of Hotel Operations Amadeus offers a comprehensive software suite to manage all aspects of a hotel's operations. From managing reservations, distributing rates, supporting sales and catering, improving staff communication, and operating the property, the software works across nearly every touchpoint between guest, staff, and hotel management. On the marketing side, Amadeus also owns TravelClick, a complete marketing solution for hotels. For a more in-depth look at how this fits into the Amadeus portfolio of products for hotels, tab over to our recent deep dive into TravelClick suite of marketing tools.   Who Amadeus Is For: Mostly Larger Properties With Bigger Budgets And More Complex Needs In general, Amadeus builds technology for larger properties and portfolios with bigger budgets and more complex needs. However, that doesn't mean but certain products aren't oriented towards smaller independents and boutiques. Many Amadeus products can be purchased a la carte, which means that you can pick the products that fit their needs without having to commit to the entire portfolio. Certain products, such as HotSOS Mild, were built specifically with limited functionality to support select-service hotels. In addition to hotels, Amadeus also supports the efforts of casinos, stadiums, and restaurants to improve their communications with groups and optimize event spaces with profitable groups and meetings.   Manage Groups More Profitably To With Amadeus Sales and Catering Solutions With business travel set to rise around 4% each year until 2026, group business from meetings, events, and conferences will continue to be a massive revenue driver for many hotels. To ensure that your hotel captures as much business as possible, and then delivers those events profitably, Amadeus has several sales and catering solutions that connect event sales, operations, and management to maximize usage and optimize pricing for event spaces.  These tools also work well in concert, seamlessly sharing data across them so that a proposal moves fluidly from proposal stage to accepted deal to the event execution process. Sales CRM. Your hotel’s group sales success requires an organized team that tracks the pipeline, engages prospects over time, and maintains relationships with past event planners who may bring repeat business. Here are the Amadeus products to enhance productivity in your sales staff: Amadeus Sales & Event Management puts powerful reporting and data-rich dashboards in front of your sales and catering teams so they can make data-driven decisions around where to focus next. The software is mobile-optimized, can work across multiple properties, and supports automated workflows Central Sales solves the visibility issue so you can instantly see your sales team’s current pipeline. It’s a module that tracks leads and opportunities, and then translates those into an accurate forecast to assess progress towards sales targets. Group sourcing and RFP management. Amadeus has several tools to enhance your proposals by making them interactive, with rich media and personalized content. MeetingBroker is a tool that generates more leads for your hotel by allowing planners to submit their request for proposal directly to your venues. Event planners prefer self-service and this tool gives them what they want! eProposal enhances your proposals by better aligning them with each prospect’s unique needs. Proposals can be easily and quickly customized, so your team can make better proposals and get them in the hands of event planners more quickly. The fastest response often wins the business! Central Sales is above-property management’s view into sales team effectiveness. It’s also the main collaboration channel between above- and on-property teams, improving the distribution of RFPs to a portfolio of properties. Event planning software. These tools help everyone stay on top of details while remaining responsive to event planners, both before and during events. By empowering staff with tools to enhance their own productivity, you ensure that events can be delivered on time, on budget, and with the highest satisfaction possible. PlannerPortal is an add-on to the Delphi CRM tool. It’s a Salesforce extension that allows planners to see the same information as staff. This becomes a critical collaboration tool, where you can store documents and track change requests, keeping everyone on the same page -- and on track for a successful event and a satisfied planner experience. Amadeus PlannerPortal becomes a centralized hub for planner/staff interactions.   Hospitality Diagramming is an interactive tool that works on any device and lets event planners create diagrams and envision their event in your space. As planners turn their vision into reality, the visual helps your hotel win more business. The software also becomes a central repository for staff to design and organize floorplans for any event.    Planners can diagram events and visualize their events -- bringing them closer to contract.   Streamline Your Operations with Amadeus PMS and CRS Choosing a new property management system is a major decision, as is selecting a central reservation system to manage your hotel’s bookings. Once implemented, these technologies are fused to a property, rarely to be undone. That relative permanence makes this one of the toughest decisions to make. You need certainty that rates, availability, reservations, guest information, and other date flow across systems without fail, whether via Universal API integration or direct connect. The Amadeus central reservation system is a central hub for managing distribution and pricing among channels and allows your hotel to tailor offers to specific customer segments. With a single real-time view of the entire business, you can manage your guest experience while generating additional revenue by reacting quickly to changing market dynamics. The Amadeus property management system is an on-premise or hosted technology for single/multiple properties that combine channel and rate management into a single distribution solution with robust analytics and reporting. It also integrates sales and catering activities and retail/restaurant point-of-sale systems.    Optimize Service and Staff Productivity with Amadeus HotSOS Service optimization is a perfect use case for tech. It eliminates a manual and inflexible system that is rarely optimized for speed, efficiency, and staff experience. With all requests, communications, and other issues routed immediately to the relevant department, staff and guests are happier. And, with automated optimization,  maintenance requests and housekeeping schedules automatically adjust to the changing needs of our property in real-time. Amadeus’ service optimization products are quite popular, in use at over 70% of global hotel brands, which the company says saved hotels over $150 million in 2016. That savings came from reducing issues that affect guest satisfaction, responding to requests more quickly, and improving overall resource allocation. Housekeeping management is ideally suited for automation: using intelligent routing based on check-ins, stayovers, and check-outs, housekeeper schedules can be prioritized for efficiency. This means that you can reduce wait times for incoming guests and increase overall cleanliness. It also makes your staff happier as they are less rushed with last-minute requests and feel more in control throughout the day. Staff collaboration tools bring your staff together in a single communications channel to manage their daily tasks. Amadeus has two staff task management tools: HotSOS Mild, designed specifically to meet the limited needs of select-service hotels, and HotSOS, a full-featured enterprise product to automate daily operations, schedule preventative maintenance, improve intra-hotel communication and improve the quality of guest engagement. Thanks to its automated workflows, HotSOS minimizes the amount of time it takes to complete tasks. That not only reduces labor costs but speeds responses and reduces bad reviews around slow service. Most notably, you can build profiles and personalized experiences based on a guest’s history of requests and preferences.   Amadeus Pros and Cons According to its Customers  Amadeus has dozens of reviews across its many products. We’ve pulled out some of the highlights; we recommend checking reviews for specific products as part of your research process. Pros: An engineer from a resort in Anaheim says that HotSOS Mild is “Making life a lot easier” for monitoring maintenance and repair work. Direct of Sales and Marketing in Washington liked Amadeus Delphi’s “ immediate data sharing” with the PMS” as well as the fact that it “interfaces with Outlook so communications are easily viewed.” A group sales manager in Chicago liked Delphi’s “ease of use” when compared to other products that were “difficult to learn/update/adjust to an individual property’s needs.” Cons: One City Center hotelier in the Netherlands using the PMS reported “6 years of problems now and no real solution”  with “overselling rooms daily due to software problems.” One Delphi user at a Branded Hotel in Cambridge reported poor knowledge of support team, saying “ Almost every time I call support, the tech says let me check Google.”   Getting Started with Amadeus Amadeus is definitely not a self-serve player, where you can simply put in your credit card information and get started with set up. Pricing also varies. It ultimately depends on the basket of products that you choose to implement.  For certain products, such as the CRS, there’s utility pricing that offers low upfront cost and minimal transaction fees. Again, the actual pricing is property/portfolio dependent and will require engaging with sales.   It all starts with a demo: select your Amadeus product and click “Get Demo” to get a live look at how the product can help your hotel solve its current challenges.  

How to Prevent Malware Attacks and Promote Cybersecurity at Your Hotel

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Do you have a spare $1.6 million lying around? That’s the average amount that security experts now estimate a business needs to recover from a cyberattack containing malware. Hotels are easy targets for hackers. Cybersecurity is not something many hotels feel confident in. "Last year, the two biggest global reports on data breaches, Trustwave’s Global Security Report and Verizon’s Data Breach Investigation Report, both show hospitality continuing to struggle in this area. Verizon, meanwhile, reports that accommodation, food and lodging made up for nearly 54% of their caseload,” says Bob Russo, GM of the PCI Security Standards Council.” Each time a hotel’s guest records get breached, the property is burdened with financial strain and faces broken trust with guests. As a hotelier, you don’t need to be an expert in cybersecurity, but you absolutely need to understand the basics to protect your business and your guests. Here are some ways to tackle cybersecurity at your hotel and minimize your risk as much as possible.    Why Hotels are Attractive Targets for Hackers Hotels are easy – and profitable – targets for hackers. Hotels make attractive targets for two reasons: first, cybersecurity at many properties is lax. “Only about 25% of all U.S. businesses, including hotel operators, are fully compliant with current data security best practices. That means that three out of four are not and are potential disasters waiting to happen,” says Russo. Secondly, hotels process lots of transactions and store tons of guest data. A hacker can simultaneously target a property’s point-of-sale and property management system to capture payment card information as well as personal data, like passport numbers and email addresses. Malware can move between POS and PMS systems at different properties under the same brand, affecting guests in locations around the world with no one the wiser. Likewise, there are many access points a hacker can target in a single property. “In February, it was reported that of the 21 most high-profile hotel company data breaches that have occurred since 2010, 20 of them were a result of malware affecting POS systems in a hotel restaurant, bar, and retail outlet,” says Mark Voortman, Ph.D., head of the information technology program at the Pittsburgh-based Rowland School of Business. A small, 100-room hotel with a 50-seat restaurant still processes hundreds of unique payments each day. Those unique payments are virtually defenseless; few hotels have the necessary security protocols, infrastructure, and training in place to make sure any interested parties are dissuaded from stealing guest information.    What is Malware? Key Cybersecurity Concepts Defined Understanding the key concepts of cybersecurity is half the battle. Here are some common terms you will encounter while improving security at your hotel:  Phishing: phishing occurs when scammers send you an email, text, or even call you to try to trick you into revealing personal information they can then use to access your bank details or credit cards. A phishing email might look like a message from your bank warning you that it will shut down your account unless you verify your personal information.  Encryption: Encryption is a security procedure that involves scrambling data so that only parties authorized to read it can understand the information. The process takes readable data and alters it so that it appears random. The party that receives encrypted information needs a key to unscramble data and turn it into readable plaintext.  VPN: VPN stands for “virtual private network.” A VPN will mask your IP address and keep your internet activity largely untraceable. It’s a great tool for making sure your internet connection is secure and private.  Malware: malware is shorthand for “malicious software.” Malware is designed to gain access to your computer; spyware, ransomware, viruses, and Trojan horses are all different types of malware.  Penetration test: penetration testing is a procedure where a cybersecurity expert tries to identify weak points in a computer system. The expert simulates a malware or hacking attack to find any vulnerabilities that bad actors could take advantage of.  APT (Advanced Persistent Threat): an APT is the worst kind of attack, in which a bad actor uses “continuous, clandestine, and sophisticated hacking techniques to gain access to a system and remain inside for a prolonged period of time, with potentially destructive consequences.” Antivirus: a program designed to detect and destroy computer viruses on an operating system Anti-malware: Similar to antivirus software but where antivirus focuses on older/known threats, anti-malware typically focuses on newer unknown threats.  Malware protection focuses on identifying unknown threats before they turn into full on mature viruses.  Malware removal is typically more difficult than antivirus since there are more unknowns. Rootkit: A rootkit is a clandestine computer program designed by cybercriminals to provide continued privileged access to a computer while actively hiding its presence. Keylogger: A keylogger, sometimes called a keystroke logger or system monitor, is a type of surveillance technology used to monitor and record each keystroke typed on a specific computer's keyboard. Keylogger software is also available for use on mobile devices, such as Apple's iPhone and Android devices.  Keyloggers are a legitimate software that can be used for good but are often used as a scam to steal sensitive information like credit card numbers and passwords. Botnet: a network of private infected computers containing malicious code and controlled as a group without the owners' knowledge, e.g., to send spam messages. Using a VPN and encryption, as well as performing regular penetration testing can keep your network secure against malware and APTs. You should also ensure that your hotel's IT team regularly checks on property computers for keystroke loggers and that your staff doesn't open strange email attachments.  These are the bare minimum security protocols you must practice regularly to avoid disasters like these high-profile hacks in the hotel industry.   High-Profile Malware Attacks in the Hotel Industry Research from Symantec, a cybersecurity firm, found that more than 65% of hotels are routinely leaking booking reference codes through third-party sites. Why is this important? Because the information shared through these codes would allow a bad actor to login to a reservation, view personal details, and even cancel a booking altogether. When this happens, your guest information is vulnerable and you risk destroying the guest relationship. Symantec’s research showed hotels of all sizes are at risk. Major hacks have occurred at HEI Hotels & Resort, Starwood/Marriott and more. Here are just a few high-profile events: HEI Hotels & Resorts  In 2016, a data breach impacted 20 US hotels operated by HEI Hotels & Resorts. The attack exposed the payment card data from tens of thousands of food and drink transactions. Malware was discovered on the hotels’ payment systems used to process card information at on-site restaurants, bars, spas, lobby shops, and other facilities. Experts determined that hackers likely stope customer names, account numbers, card expiration dates, and verification codes. Starwood/Marriott In January 2019, Starwood/Marriott discovered that a data breach had exposed the personal information of guests who had stayed at their properties since 2014. Guest data was stolen for around 500 million people – including encrypted passport numbers and credit or debit card numbers. The New York Times reported that hackers may have been working with China’s Ministry of State Treasury, as an attack of this scale is remarkable. Omni Hotels & Resorts Omni was also attacked in 2016 in a malware breach that affected 50,000 customers. Debit and credit card information from 49 of the chain's 60 locations was stolen: including credit and debit card numbers, cardholder names, security codes, and expiration dates.  Hyatt At 41 of Hyatt’s hotels, hackers gained unauthorized access to payment card information in the second attack since 2015. Of the second attack, one security expert noted, “It’s possible the steps taken by the Hyatt group back in December 2015 are still being deployed throughout the organization, especially if those systems are dispersed around the globe and not connected by a common network. When choosing your systems management toolset, you need to implement the solution which is secured using 2048bit certificates and two-factor authentication but also works regardless of where the endpoints are located.” Sabre  Sabre processes reservations for roughly 100,000 hotels and more than 70 airlines worldwide. The company was targeted in 2017 by bad actors who stole credentials for the Sabre Hospitality Solutions’ SynXis Central Reservations system. Those credentials provided access to customer data, including payment card information and reservation details – customers’ names, email addresses, phone numbers, and addresses. These high-profile attacks grab headlines, but there are hundreds of smaller attacks that happen at hotels each month. Even recently, a massive hack, like the one at Fontainbleu in Miami, has gone unnoticed by the mainstream media. Sources reported that Fontainbleu faced a ransomware attack to their credit card system, forcing the hotel to either compromise guest data by continuing to accept card payments or to ask guests to pay in cash. Guests waited up to five hours for rooms while the front desk tried to mitigate the situation – a scene one person described as “chaos.” “The line was out the door into the lobby,” one executive told Variety Magazine. For a five-star hotel such as the Fontainebleau, an incident like this is absolutely brand destroying.   How to Protect Your Hotel Malware Attacks & Cyber Threats What’s the best way to make sure your data stays safe and no guests are left stranded? First and foremost, take extra care in selecting a point-of-sale system and credit card processor. “Agreements with those entities should be vetted and, if possible, modified to add protection and minimum data handling standards for the outside vendor. Compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) not only helps to ensure that data security software, hardware, and practices are safer, but also helps to protect against fines and penalties when a breach occurs,” writes one expert. An enterprise-grade provider, like Oracle Hospitality, can secure the vulnerable link between your PMS and POS. Oracle OPERA is a cloud-based property management system that integrates with the Micros point-of-sale system, as well as a suite of other applications. Oracle offers sophisticated security protocols, such as Cloud Security Monitoring Analytics for monitoring the platform both on-site and in the cloud. Oracle tools also include:  Cloud Compliance Control (OMC CC) for checking the configurations against company requirements or external regulations;  Cloud Access Security Broker (Oracle CASB) to discover shadow IT in the cloud and monitor corporate requirements regarding the use and configuration of Oracle and 3rd party cloud services such as AWS, Salesforce, Azure, Box etc.;  Identity Cloud Service (Oracle IDCS) for providing a user management and authentication system for on-premises or cloud services. These security protocols monitor what’s going on in your internal network as well as any external attacks. Working with Oracle gives you multilayer security, data protection, secure transactions, and compliance with payment and data privacy standards. But, as evidenced in the Sabre attack, sometimes even these measures aren’t enough. With the right credentials, anyone can get past your security system. The right technology is only half the equation; over the years, security experts have also identified employees as part of the problem. Hotels must train their staff to handle personal information security, comply with privacy policies, and change user access credentials regularly. This industry has high turnover, which is part of the reason why employees don’t always maintain security standards. Your property should regularly host info-sec seminars to make sure all new employees are trained and veterans stay up-to-date with the latest threats. Even with a great PMS/POS system and the right training, it’s important to perform routine penetration testing and risk assessments. There’s no straightforward answer as to how often you should pen test your network, but experts warn once a year probably isn’t frequently enough. Beyond training your staff, keeping your security software up to date, and investing in a platform like Oracle OPERA that's invested in cyber security, you can encourage your guests to use a VPN and to log out of their WiFi when not using it.   

AHLA Initiative: Everything You Need to Know About the 5-Star Promise

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

The AHLA (American Hotel & Lodging Association) wants to know: is your hotel doing enough to protect its most vulnerable staff? Often alone and isolated from other staff, your housekeepers and maintenance workers present an opportunity for guests with malicious (and criminal) intent. And those bad guests are taking advantage of this isolation: 89% of U.K. hospitality workers report having faced some form of sexual harassment from either guests or managers during the careers. In Chicago, 58% reported having been sexually harassed and 49% having been flashed or otherwise exposed to a nude guest. Beyond the psychological toll of these traumatic incidents, the costs to your hotel are steep: Replacing a worker earning less than $50,000 annually—which covers nearly all of the housekeepers in the United States—costs an average of 20% of annual wages. For a housekeeper making the median wage, that’s $4,754. Your hotel’s profitability requires a productive staff that shows up on time and doesn't quit. A single sexual assault incident can leave your hotel understaffed and overextended. The solution is to prevent incidents in the first place, which is the goal of the the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s (AHLA) 5-Star Promise. Here's everything you need to know about this initiative, how it applies to your hotel, and what you need to look for in staff safety technology.   What’s the AHLA’s 5-Star Promise? The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) announced its 5-Star Promise in September 2018. The AHLA calls the promise an effort “to ensure America’s hotels are safe places for all those who work in and visit them.”  “The 5-Star Promise is a pledge to provide hotel employees across the U.S. with employee safety devices (ESDs) and commit to enhanced policies, trainings and resources that together are aimed at enhancing hotel safety, including preventing and responding to sexual harassment and assault.” -AHLA The intiative was driven by rising awareness of issues related to sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, an awareness shared by all hotel brands. Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said about his company’s commitment to the 5-Star Promise: "Safety and security has never been an area that we compromise on. We realized, over the last year and a half, this is an area — in terms of taking care of our team members — that we [the hotel brands] really shouldn’t be competing on, and that we should have a unified and aligned, and as consistent an approach that we could.” Initially, 17 companies backed the promise. That number has since expanded to 56, dramatically increasing the number of employees benefiting from the roll out of staff safety technology, policies and training. That's more than 20,000 hotel properties, covering an estimated 1.2 million employees. The Promise is also backed by partnerships with national organizations dedicated to ending sexual violence and fighting human trafficking. And it’s not only technology. It’s about finding the best policies and training programs to encourage greater staff safety. The 5-Star Promise has five key commitments, which cover technology, policy, and training: Our People Culture. Build on our industry’s longstanding commitment to hospitality and a People Culture by continuing to provide industry-wide training and materials on safety and security, and retain expert guidance to work with the industry on diversity and safety matters. Mandatory Policies. Ensure mandatory anti-sexual harassment policies are in place in multiple languages. Training and Education. Provide ongoing training and education for employees on identifying and reporting sexual harassment. Technology. Provide U.S. hotel employees with employee safety devices (ESDs) to help them feel safe on the job. Partnerships. Broaden vital partnerships with wide-ranging national organizations that target sexual violence and assault and trafficking and promote workplace safety. When implemented holistically, the 5-Star Promise shifts the narrative around staff safety, empowers staff, and makes hotels safer for everyone.   What Does The 5-star Promise Mean For My Hotel? To achieve these five points of the 5-Star Promise, your hotel must blend new technology with augmented training and clear policies around sexual harassment,  abusive casts and retaliation against victims. The 5-Star Promise has established a new normal for the industry setting staff expectations around access to safety technology from their employers. As these protections become standard, all hotels (regardless of size) will need to provide them to their house in order to maintain competitiveness and a tight labor market. There's also the potential for litigation, as staff may be able to argue that your hotel was neglectful in providing necessary safety devices in the workplace. Regulators are also paying attention. Panic buttons are increasingly becoming a mandated part of the accommodation industry (for more, check out our complete guide to wireless panic button regulations). Even if your hotel brand is not a part of the companies backing the initiative or not in a region with mandated employees safety devices, it's worth considering adding this technology to your budget. The tech helps protect your staff (and your hotel’s physical property and brand reputation) from a variety of incidents, from sexual assault to guests storing illegal materials (like the dozens of guns stockpiled by the Route 91 shooter in Las Vegas). "The panic buttons, or safety buttons, are useful in that they are a real-time lifeline for women who work alone. It can be used in the case of a sexual assault or harassment, and in other dangerous situations, like if a worker finds a guest who has highly dangerous or illegal materials in their hotel room," -Rachel Gumpert, UNITE HERE To dig deeper into best practices for your own hotel, the AHLA also hosts an annual Safety Summit. The event brings hotels together to discuss the latest technology and most impactful strategies for improving staff safety -- and can be a valuable resource for hotels looking to get up to speed quickly with the latest in staff technology. Staff expectations (and the regulatory environment) are shifting quickly -- so it's important to stay up-to-date!   What To Look For In Staff Safety Technology The 5-Star Promise commits to provide employee safety devices (ESDs) to all employees by 2020. The wearable panic buttons give staff a layer of protection and peace-of-mind that help is only a button click away. For most hotels, this commitment involves a major infrastructure project that must be both planned and budgeted for. Since staff safety technology is new to most hoteliers, these are the key features to look for in your staff safety technology provider. To illustrate each of these points, we'll use the top vendor in our staff safety technology category, ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions.  Works Everywhere. Connectivity is a top consideration. Without reliable connectivity and complete coverage, the safety devices will not function as intended. ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions is one of the vendors that combines cellular, GPS, Bluetooth, radio frequency and WiFi to provide consistent connectivity. The devices can work off different signals to prevent diminished functionality from signal dead zones -- for example in closets and stairwells. Form Factor. Devices must be easy-to-wear and visible so staff can access them easily. Prominent placement can also be a visual deterrent. ESDs come in two forms: a fob and a card. Always On. Battery life is another top consideration. Since staff wears these devices every day, extended battery life is key. ESDs feature a battery life of 2 years  While it's networking Solutions are plug-ins that don't need batteries replaced. Digital Security. To protect your network, and to prevent anyone from disrupting the signals to and from the safety devices, look for encryption. Safety devices feature encryption on the individual device, as well as within the connected network. The system also tracks specific computer IDs (known as MAC addresses) So you can identify anyone that is excessively pinging the network to identify vulnerabilities. Alert Controls. Alerting security to potential incidents is the core value proposition, so look for technology that makes that easy to manage. For example, ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions’ “alert lifecycle management” centralizes distress calls in a single dashboard so that response personnel are instantly alerted to any emergencies.  Alerts are also sent out to designated responders via text message, with automated reminders if an alert isn’t dealt with. alerts can also be updated if a location changes, so that responders can be directed in real-time to the appropriate location.     Easy Admin. Staff safety systems are quite complex. They involve multiple access points and dozens of individual devices. You'll need a portal that helps you manage these easily and efficiently, without adding a bunch of unnecessary work. For example, ASSA ABLOY’s admin portal is available on any tablet or device with Google Chrome. It monitors the connectivity status of each gateway and ESD, as well as each device’s battery status. It maintains a history log with  each other's details, such as location time stamp, operator and responder. For brands with multiple hotels, it's absolutely essential to find a solution that allows a centralized staff to view and access multiple systems. Plug & Play. User-friendliness should also extend to system setup. Technology that is too complex to implement becomes a burden and is much harder to maintain. Management software eliminates many of these frustrations by providing automatic cloud updates, as well as plug-and-play access points called BlueFi Gateways. These AC- or DC-powered devices bridge between the Bluetooth-enabled devices to the property WiFi, ensuring that the ESDs function seamlessly property-wide. Finally, to be certain that your vendor is aligned with these principles, check for 5-Star Promise compliance. Most vendors are familiar with this important initiative and will want to promote that they comply. If a vendor it's unfamiliar, it's not a good sign. Look for one that is fully 5-Star compliant!  

10 Things a Hotel Concierge Can Do for Your Guests

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

When you think of a hotel concierge, perhaps you imagine a stylish, suit-clad professional in a glamorous hotel somehow scoring tickets for a sold-out Broadway show. The ticket-seeking guests, of course, become guests for life and write rave reviews for your hotel across the web. But how exactly did the concierge pull it off while juggling dozens of requests? With technology, incredible guest experiences are accessible to any hotel who seeks to improve review scores, increase incremental revenue, and build guest loyalty. In this article, we’ll review a concierge job description, share some tasks a concierge might handle, and uncover the secrets of that little golden lapel pin on the best concierges’ jackets. Gaining a deep understanding of concierge service can help you decide whether to implement cutting-edge technology like Alliants Concierge to earn better reviews and higher revenues.   What is a Hotel Concierge Exactly? Before we dive into the concierge job description, you may be wondering how to pronounce “concierge.” Coming from the French comte des cierges, meaning “keeper of the candles,” old-school concierges assisted the medieval upper-class as they traveled from castle to castle in Europe. Phonetically, the word is pronounced “kaan-see-ehrzh.” Want to perfect your pronunciation? This video can help you say “concierge” like a pro. Now that you know how to say it, what does a concierge do? A concierge is responsible for providing local information and helping guests organize any activities they wish to do during their stay. Sometimes the concierge builds a detailed itinerary for a guest, while other times he or she simply answers questions or points guests in the right direction. Like front desk staff, the concierge acts as a face of the hotel, so they should have a friendly, welcoming personality. Communication skills and attention to detail are important traits in a concierge, since they will be responsible for the intricacies of a guest’s itinerary. If the hotel attracts a lot of international guests, then foreign language skills can help a concierge succeed. A concierge should also have extensive knowledge about the local area, perhaps even building relationships with managers at top restaurants so they can secure hard-to-get reservations.   10 Things a Hotel Concierge Can Do For Guests Though we often think of concierges booking show tickets, that’s not all they do. No two days are the same for a concierge, and they often receive requests for unique, one-of-a-kind experiences. Next time you meet a concierge, ask them about their most interesting guest request - if they’re not busy helping a guest, of course! What are some things a concierge might do besides booking restaurants and tickets? Sign them up for a loyalty program. Guests often ask concierges for discounts and perks, so if your hotel has a loyalty program, the concierge acts as the spokesperson. Teach local must-know lingo. Concierges want to help guests enjoy their city to the fullest, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to eliminate confusion about local words. Before you taste Miami’s best cafecito or ride the L in Chicago, you need to know what a cafecito and the L are. Track down forgotten or lost items. Have a guest who forgot to pack toothpaste or misplaced their passport? Leave it to the concierge to find a solution. Find kid-friendly play areas. Concierges are the go-to area experts, and their knowledge isn’t limited to nightlife. They can share recommendations for playgrounds, parks, and even babysitting services. Arrange a room upgrade. Concierges aren’t just knowledgeable about the area - they’re also treasure troves of information about the hotel itself. Want a room with a landmark view or furthest from the elevator? Guests can get the room of their dreams - and your hotel can earn some incremental revenue. Book spa or beauty services. Need a bit of R&R or a glamorous look for an event? Let the concierge help your guests find the perfect massage, hairdresser, make-up artist, nail studio, and more. Help with medical needs. Forgot a prescription or need a last-minute dentist appointment? A concierge can assist out-of-town guests with health needs too. Share tips on avoiding traffic. Google Maps can only tell you so much; a concierge knows the busiest times on the road from their own experience and can recommend alternate routes, public transit, or ridesharing. Plan activities or book restaurants before arrival. You might think your relationship with the concierge only begins when you arrive on property, but concierges can help you plan your trip as soon as you book your room. Not forget about furry friends. Pets are guests too! Besides arranging for a pet bowl and a pet bed in a guest’s room, concierges can recommend pet-friendly restaurants, dog parks, and activities for four-legged companions.   The World’s Best Concierges Belong to Les Clefs d’Or If concierges are athletes, then Les Clefs d’Or is the Olympic team. This exclusive organization has about 4,500 members worldwide, which is just a tiny percentage of the world’s concierges, and chapters in dozens of countries. These concierges are the ones who can make any guest’s request become reality, “so long as it is morally, legally, and humanly possible.” Luxury hotels often include the number of Les Clefs d’Or concierges that they have on staff (usually it’s not more than 1 or 2) in marketing materials - it’s that big of a big deal. Becoming a member of Les Clefs d’Or is no easy feat. In addition to several years of hotel work experience, prospective members must submit letters of recommendation and may need to pass a written examination. If accepted, then the concierge earns his or her badge of honor: a small golden lapel pin with two crossed keys, representing that they now hold the keys to the city. These concierges are expected to make the impossible happen. Want a driver in a red Corvette to pick you up at the airport in Paris? How about a photoshoot with Persian kittens in the hotel’s penthouse? Or a midnight shopping spree at a mall in Hong Kong? A Clefs d’Or concierge will work their magic and make it happen.   Behind the Scenes: How the Best Concierges Use Tech to Surprise and Delight Concierges - even those wearing the golden keys - are only human, so they can’t deliver these amazing experiences entirely on their own. Technology is a concierge’s secret weapon, which helps them communicate with guests, analyze trends, and organize guest requests so nothing slips through the cracks. Concierge systems can even offer insights into a guest’s likes and dislikes so a concierge’s recommendations are extra-personalized. Great concierges, like the ones in Les Clefs d’Or, use platforms like Alliants Concierge as an all-in-one technology solution to manage & fulfil guest requests. The system doesn’t just manage requests, but it also tracks guests’ preferences and stores information about nearby vendors so concierges have everything they need at their fingertips. By providing data-driven recommendations based on guest trends and preferences, concierges can offer more relevant suggestions and increase conversion - the percentage of guests who accept their suggestions - to drive incremental revenue to the hotel’s outlets. To make operations seamless, platforms like Alliants Concierge even integrate with complementary systems like HotSOS and Oracle Opera PMS. Eager to learn more about technology solutions for concierges? Check out our concierge software buyers guide to find the system that works best for your hotel. Although technology will allow a concierge to provide better recommendations and ensure every request is actioned, he or she must still boast an impressive network of contacts and local insider knowledge. We’re still wondering how this concierge was able to arrange a private visit to Buckingham Palace for an art-loving guest!  

What is an API and How Do They Work in the Hotel Industry?

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Really, another acronym? You might feel as if your mind is already boggled by all the hotel industry terminology that you’re expected to know, but we have some good news about APIs. You likely already use APIs on a regular basis, and APIs can play a big part in making your hotel’s technology work seamlessly. By developing a deeper understanding of what an API is, you can better understand the systems at work in your hotel and make more informed technology decisions. And when your technology works effectively (and economically!), your hotel can benefit from more efficient employees and happier guests. In this article, we’ll break down what is an API, describe some API examples, and show how you can incorporate APIs into your hotel’s daily operations. If you’ve been in the industry for a while - or even a technology user in general - you have probably noticed the huge shift away from analog systems and toward software. APIs are at the core of how the software “revolution” is possible. We can explain the rise of software through economist Adam Smith’s theory of specialization. In economics, he explains that instead of every country producing all the goods they need, each country can produce only what they’re best at and trade with other countries to get the things they’re missing. This system decreases production costs and creates economies of scale. Thinking about software again, APIs enable software companies to become specialized, that is, only building software that has a specific purpose. A network of systems that each provide specific services can work together seamlessly thanks to APIs that act as translators and messages between them.   What is an API? The acronym “API” stands for application programming interface, although for most hoteliers it might as well be gibberish. Don’t stress though, because the concept is actually quite simple. In the early days of software, systems were server based which meant that they rarely (if ever) spoke with each other. Think about that first Mac in your house before the internet - it was very much a lonely island. As processing power advanced and internet speeds increased exponentially, software became easier to develop and more accessible. As the world shifted from a myriad of lonely server based systems to an ecosystem of hyper connected platforms, there became a need to enable seamless communications amongst those systems - enter the API. Ok, let’s use a hotel analogy to better understand the concept. Imagine you’re sitting at a table in your hotel’s restaurant. The kitchen is the part of the “system” that will prepare your order. What’s missing is the critical link to communicate your order to the kitchen and deliver your food back to your table. That’s where the waiter (or API) comes in. The waiter is the messenger – or API – that takes your request and tells the kitchen – the system – what to do. Then the waiter delivers the response back to you; in this case, it’s your food. APIs are effectively messengers of data between applications.  Every time you book a flight on Expedia you are using an API that delivers pricing and availability from the respective airline’s database onto Expedia’s website.  That same dynamic now happens between hotel software and hardware systems.   API Examples in the Hotel Industry Now that we’ve established that APIs serve as links between two systems, you might have an idea of why they’re so important in the hotel industry. In order for a hotel’s systems to provide value, they need to be able to communicate with each other - and with external players like online travel agencies. What do APIs look like in a hotel environment? Let’s dive into some API examples. Connecting an RMS to a PMS In order for revenue management systems to deliver valid and relevant pricing recommendations, they need information from the hotel’s property management system, like occupancy numbers. Some property management systems, like protel, have developed seamless integrations with specific revenue management systems, which are possible with APIs. Protel, for instance, uses an API to integrate with Atomize, which receives a 24/7 feed of data from protel to deliver insightful pricing recommendations. The API converts the stream of occupancy and rate information from protel into data that Atomize can use in its rate and market analysis algorithms. Connecting a PMS to upsell software Is speaking with your front desk staff still the only way for guests to upgrade their room? With an upselling software that connects to your PMS, guests can purchase room upgrades or add-ons without the need for staff assistance.  If your upsell software didn’t communicate with your PMS, front desk agents would need to manually enter every modified reservation. Thanks to an API, the “interconnectedness” of the two systems can lead to more efficient operations. Protel offers an integration with upselling platform Oaky, so hotels that use protel’s PMS can also benefit from the upselling services that Oaky provides without disrupting current front office operations.  Connecting business intelligence software to a PMS Your hotel produces so much data on a daily basis that it can be hard to make sense of it. A business intelligence tool can synthesize data from the front office, your F&B outlets, and even competitor hotel performance to deliver valuable insight into your strategy. Was your marketing campaign successful? Do you need to add another cocktail server to your bar staff? BI software can answer many data-related questions about your hotel operations. However, a BI tool is worthless without a reliable feed of data from your PMS or any other systems that provide operational data. BI software uses APIs to connect to your hotel’s other systems in real-time. A BI tool like OTA Insight’s Rate Insight offers a seamless integration with protel, which is made possible through an API. Rate Insight receives a steady stream of PMS information from protel so that it can analyze trends and provide recommendations. By now we hope you can appreciate how API isn’t just another acronym. APIs make technology more user-friendly and efficient, and they’ve made a world of innovation possible in the hotel software industry. If your hotel’s technology solutions don’t have open APIs yet - which allow complementary systems to integrate - then we recommend opening a conversation with your software vendor to explore options for building an API in the future. If your systems do have APIs, then we encourage you to work with your vendors to leverage their technology most effectively and maximize the value that your hotel receives. Interested in switching to a system that offers a broad catalog of integrations? Check out protel’s partner marketplace to see examples of how APIs connect their hotel technology ecosystem.