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How Are Hoteliers Adapting to Welcome Travelers Back in 2021?

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 days ago

We certainly don’t need to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the travel industry. But despite all the pandemic’s negative effects, this unusual year has inspired many hoteliers to take the leap into new technology that will enhance guest stays in 2021 and beyond. According to recent studies conducted by Amadeus, people are eager to travel again, with 75% of survey respondents stating they would travel within just three months of loosened restrictions. Although many of those travelers might feel nostalgic about the world “before,” the data shows that travelers expect technology to help reduce physical touchpoints, encourage social distancing, and more. In fact, 84% of respondents said hotel technology would actually make them feel more confident that they can stay safe and healthy on the road. In this article, we’ll explain five key areas where hoteliers can strategically implement technology to give guests a warm welcome to the “new normal.” By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of guest expectations and exciting innovations in the travel and tech space.   Staff Collaboration Tools Help Improve Team Efficiency at Lower Staffing Levels With 87% of travelers feeling skeptical that their peers are following health and safety guidelines, impeccable housekeeping and maintenance service is more important than ever. If guests think their fellow travelers didn’t wash their hands before pushing elevator buttons or opening doors, then your employees need to go above and beyond to keep your property clean. You’ll want to do whatever you can to avoid housekeeping mishaps that could break guest trust, and a key element of success is staying organized and avoiding lapses in communication between staff. Staff collaboration tools make teamwork a breeze - even with teams that work on different schedules or in different locations. Software like Amadeus HotSOS gives hotel managers and employees the power to log maintenance issues, centralize housekeeping requests, record guest preferences, and more. The app integrates seamlessly with Amadeus’ own PMS as well as 100+ other systems, so your tech stack can work harmoniously.  “We use Amadeus HotSoS for logging guests’ needs as well as general area maintenance, such as lighting fireplaces, old light bulbs, clogged sinks, broken tiles, missing paint. To be able to log and communicate with housekeeping, engineering and bell in this manner is excellent,” a Resort Activities Manager in Rancho Palos Verdes told Hotel Tech Report. Collaboration tools like HotSOS not only reduce communication lags and potential friction between departments, but they can enhance the guest experience by helping staff provide faster and more accurate service. In a post-COVID world, it’s even more crucial that guest expectations are met (if not exceeded) and that hoteliers can reduce costs wherever possible.   Use Customer Messaging to Communicate Compliance and Safety Local health restrictions are changing frequently, and today’s traveler needs to stay in the know - and they need to receive information from a trusted source, like from their hotel. Hoteliers are implementing customer messaging tools like Amadeus GMS to communicate rapidly changing regulations and standards with guests. Whether you need to alert guests about a new travel restriction or share the good news about reopening the spa, guest management technology can help you spread the word. 42% of respondents even say that technology that provides on-trip updates to local guidelines and outbreaks would make them more confident about traveling. If you’re considering adding a GMS to your hotel’s tech stack, you have no shortage of choices. Through customer messaging platforms, you can communicate with guests via their preferred method. Some guests prefer email, while others prefer text messages. Some platforms, like Zingle (which integrates directly into HotSoS, even support WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger). Plus, you can set up automated messages that will free up your employees’ time while increasing guest engagement.   Ditch Guest Room Phones for Smart Assistants Hotel guest room phones have been slowly dying out for years and the advent of smart assistants like Google Echo and Amazon Alexa accelerated their decline. Why? According to the Amadeus research, 61% of travelers would like to use voice assistant technology if present in their rooms. Hotels and larger groups like Viceroy are welcoming guests back to hotels by eliminating in-room phones and allowing them to order via the same technologies they’re using at home like mobile apps and smart speakers. Smart assistants powered by software like Volara are preprogrammed to control every facet of the in-room guest experience going far beyond the capabilities of in-room phones without adding significant cost. Volara’s voice technology integrates seamlessly into Amadeus HotSOS to fulfill service requests.   “The reality is anything you can do to limit direct contact with other people and even our own surroundings is part of widespread change in personal behaviors. Guests no longer want to have to touch the remote control or use the guest room telephone to make service requests. If a guest has forgotten toiletries or needs to report maintenance issues for instance, or even play music, watch shows, set alarms, or request more towels, they will want to do so in a contactless manner.  Having the ability to simply ask an in-room voice assistant to help fulfill special requests and preferences will be an opportunity to increase guest Loyalty,” says Volara CEO Dave Berger in an interview on the Amadeus blog.   Eliminating Lobby Crowds with Contactless Check-In Like with contactless ordering, offering a contactless way for guests to check in to your hotel is the welcoming touch that every traveler wants these days. Amadeus’ research shows that 62% of travelers would prefer to handle check-in and check-out via an app, so hoteliers that don’t yet have a technology solution for contactless check-in are making it a priority to implement one. Both guests and employees enjoy peace of mind when they don’t need to exchange physical credit cards, IDs, registration cards, and pens. “There are a number of ways the PMS can become a key component of the new guest experience. First, advanced two-way integrations with other supporting systems (CRS for instance) will allow for synchronized data across platforms to capture and make data actionable data coming from new apps. Second, many PMS systems provide simple and robust integrations with hundreds of third-party systems to make the implementation of new mobile services and tools simple and painless. Finally, some PMS systems offer open APIs, which make it possible to integrate with custom internal apps. This allows hotels and hotel chains to innovate at their own pace, and be more agile,” says Patrick van der Wardt, Head of Sales Specialists International, SO, S&C, PMS at Amadeus. Besides just providing a solution for check-in without physical contact, contactless check-in software can personalize the guest experience further by offering upgrades and add-ons that can lead to incremental revenue. -- As we’ve learned throughout the pandemic, guest preferences and expectations are changing rapidly. COVID-19 ushered a new wave of contactless technologies and efficiency driving software into the hotel industry. As we prepare for a travel rebound, hoteliers are still in a prime position to optimize their tech stacks to ensure they are able to capture and maximize on new business opportunities. Every facet of the guest experience is being reimagined with the creative use of technology from booking to check out. Let market data like this Amadeus research and the needs of your own guests guide your technology decisions and set your hotel up for success in 2021.   This content was created collaboratively by Amadeus and Hotel Tech Report.  

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18 Must-Have Features of a Hotel Management System

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Choosing a hotel management software system is like buying a car: it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of options, and it can be difficult to find trusted advice about the PMS features you need most. “There’s often a misconception in business software that one size fits all. Every hotel has very specific needs based on property size, chain scale, geography, and dozens of other variables. On top of that, every owner or manager has their own preferences in terms of design, usability, and support.  It is absolutely critical to narrow down the problem you’re trying to solve to engage with PMS vendors, and ensure you aren’t being sold on things that your property doesn’t need” says Amelia Gain, CEO of popular Hotel PMS company Preno. Hotel industry veterans often use the analogy of a duck on a lake to describe hotel operations.  Above the surface, the duck appears calm and collected, but under the surface its legs are kicking furiously. Guests are often stressed with their own travel plans, or are trying to escape stress altogether during their holiday, so it is critical for staff to appear calm and relaxed regardless of the hustle and bustle. Technology is one of the key tools that hoteliers leverage to make operations appear effortless to guests, and hotel management software is the single most important system in the entire hotel. Whether you work at an independent bed and breakfast or a global hotel chain, your hotel management system is the nucleus of your property. Nearly every member of a hotel team must access the PMS to perform daily tasks. Guest service staff need to prioritize hotel rooms that must be cleaned for early VIP arrivals. Sales & event management professionals need to block off rooms for groups. Hotel managers need to access the system for data and operating insights. Hotel management system vendor selection is one of the most important and difficult decisions a hotel operator will ever make. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what to look for so that you can make informed technology decisions for your property.   The Most Essential Hotel Management Software Functionalities Let’s start with the basics. These features are true must-haves for any modern hotelier who wants to use technology to improve the guest experience, make back office operations more efficient, and build lasting relationships with guests. Intuitive & easy-to-use interface: A user-friendly interface is the most important factor when choosing mission-critical software for a hotel. If your hotel software is complex and confusing, more mistakes will be made, costing you more money. Common tasks should not take lots of time and steps, as this slows down your team and limits your ability to grow quickly – hence the need for a powerful hotel management software system. Mobile & tablet optimised: When your manager, housekeeping team, and other staff members need to check details on a booking quickly they shouldn’t have to rush back to the office. Any system you use must not only be accessible by, but also optimized for use on mobile phones and tablets. Better yet, your owner should be able to check performance while on holiday. Clear visibility of the grid: Adding special events that are happening in the region, highlighting returning guests, and identifying guests who are yet to pay their bill are all features your grid should enable by default. Your grid should allow you to quickly & easily see key information about your guests. Guest profiles: Are you working on building guest loyalty? Guest profiles store your guests’ contact information, stay history, and even preferences, so that you can deliver a more personalized experience during their next stay. Better yet, a guest profile with stored CC’s of your guest will make it even easier for returning guests.  Email automation: You can communicate with guests and reduce manual work for your staff by deploying personalised, customised, and automated emails. Using your own templates, automated email functionality allows you to build a communication journey from the initial booking to targeted offers for repeat guests. Housekeeping management: Your PMS should allow your housekeeping team to mark rooms as clean, dirty, or out of order. Having this information in one central place gives the front desk visibility of room statuses, so that they can accommodate early check-in’s and room moves without needing to radio the housekeeping supervisor.     Reservation management: Perhaps the absolute most essential PMS feature is reservations management and front office features. By housing all of your reservations digitally, hoteliers can make a paper reservation book a thing of the past. Within reservations management, you should be able to set rates, control availability, offer promotions, and visualize reservations on a calendar. Room management: The room management module of a PMS is like your virtual front desk. This functionality lets front desk agents check guests in and out, and cancel or extend reservations with just a few simple clicks. Group bookings/reservations: If your hotel plans on hosting any type of event or group of guests, then group reservations functionality is crucial. Group reservation features include allowing guests to book reservations within the room block, exporting a room list, and configuring billing settings so that you can bill one account for multiple rooms. Invoicing: When most guests check out, they want a copy of their bill, so, your PMS should be able to easily export guests’ folios that contain all charges from their stay. Similarly, you’ll want solid, straightforward financial reporting that helps you reconcile revenue and expenses from room revenue, outlets, vendors, and more. Payment processing: Gone are the days when guests paid with cash or cheque, so you’ll want a PMS with a payment processor integration that allows you to effortlessly charge guests’ credit cards and have secure access to major payment gateways. Business intelligence & reporting: How do you know if your hotel is doing well if you can’t measure your performance? A PMS with robust reporting features will give you insight into your revenue, ADR, RevPAR, and a slew of other metrics so that you can find opportunities for growth – and track your progress toward your goals. Rate management: Do you want to offer a non-refundable rate or value-added packages? If so, you’ll want rate management functionality that allows for multiple, customizable rate plans.     User logs & permissions: With so much turnover in the hotel industry, it is important to keep front-line staff accountable with detailed user logs to have an automated record in case of any mistakes, as well as to ensure proper training and issue resolution. Additionally, we are living in a world where consumers demand heightened security, so it is critical that staff are only able to access the parts of the hotel management system required to complete their core tasks without unnecessarily accessing sensitive information like credit card data.   Key Software Integrations to Supercharge Your Hotel Property Management System A PMS is an important software partner in its own right, but running a hotel is very complex, which usually means that more feature functionality will be needed than a PMS can provide.  For that reason, some of the most important PMS features are actually software integrations with other key systems to unlock more value and performance through real-time data sharing and triggers. Let’s explore some of the most critical PMS add-ons. Accounting software: Accounting is an ever-changing, complicated industry, and you don’t want to be stuck with software that is out of date when rules change. As such, you should look for software that has robust and complete integrations to the world leaders of accounting software like Xero. This will empower you to streamline your invoicing, reconciliation, commission payment, and billing processes and automate repetitive tasks to help your finance department run more smoothly. “Whether you’re tracking agency commissions or configuring payment policies for groups – it is vital for hotels of all sizes to have a seamless integration between their property management system (PMS) and hotel accounting software. Why? It saves countless hours of tedious administration via automation,” says Preno’s CEO, Amelia Gain. Point-of-sale system integration: If your hotel has a restaurant, bar, spa, or other outlets, then an integrated POS can do wonders for your operations. When your POS can talk to your PMS, guests can seamlessly charge purchases to their room, and you can keep a record of guest purchasing activity to analyze trends and personalize future loyalty offers. Channel manager: Do you work with third-party channels like Booking.com and Expedia? If so, you’ll need a channel manager to push your rates and availability to these platforms, and more. In return, it will send reservations back to your PMS to capture more hotel bookings. A channel manager can also prevent overbookings by syncing with your PMS since it will know when to turn off distribution as a certain room type gets sold out. Channel manager software solutions are also important for hotels to optimize the allocation of rooms across channels and to ensure maximum profitability.   Booking engine: Allow guests to book directly with you, with no expensive commissions. An online booking engine, which publishes your rates and availability to your website, collects the necessary information from guests, and creates reservations in your PMS. Looking for more advice and information on hotel management systems? Download Hotel Tech Report’s 2021 Hotel Management Software Buyer's Guide to inform your vendor search.   This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.

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The Ultimate Guide to Hotel Stocks in 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

The tourism industry is slowly coming off its worst year in history. Last year saw the lowest occupancies in the history of the industry.  Business travel was completely shuttered, and leisure struggled in most markets as planes were grounded.  Often in the darkest of hours, the best stocks and investing opportunities present themselves. Now, travel outlooks remain cautious but optimistic. Hotels are reopening and accepting bookings and the share prices of publicly traded hotel stocks as well as hotel REITS, or Real Estate Investment Trusts, are shifting back to post-Pandemic levels. The uptick in these share prices is inline with Wall Street’s overall performance lately. With the vaccine rollout combined with Congress’ $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package have boosted investors’ confidence. They were also encouraged by the Labor Department’s jobs report for February showing that employers added hundreds of thousands more jobs than expected. In turn, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both showed gains, an indicator that the market could be headed towards an upswing.  So whether you’re new to investing or already have experience in other investment sectors, now is the time to consider putting your money in the hotel sector. It’s an opportunity to put the adage “buy low, sell high” to the test. Once travel and tourism return to pre-pandemic levels, so will these stock prices. If you follow the traders on Reddit’s Wall Street Bets (WSB), you’ll know that the “tendies” or financial gain on the stock market, are lower when you buy stocks at their peak. Like this group of non-traditional Reddit investors and cryptocurrency speculators, accessing the metrics on hotel stocks should also reflect the new normal that we’re living in. Gauging a stock’s one-year, three-year or five-year performance today won’t present an accurate picture of its future potential as the drastic dip that all stocks experience in 2020 will dramatically skew that outlook.   Hotel Chain & Casino Stocks There are also a variety of hotel investments to consider, which translates to a number of diverse money-making opportunities. There are, of course, the major hotel brands like Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. as well as casino resorts like Wynn Resorts Limited and Caesars Entertainment, with which you’re probably already familiar. These are C-corporations that are primarily built on the business of hotel management, marketing and branding and often, franchise licensing. They pay corporate taxes on dividends. This popular mid- to large-cap stocks are popular investments because their brand names are well established globally and investors have likely stayed in the hotels. That first-hand experience of the products also tends to result in positive sentiment among investors, which helps to keep stock prices at reasonable levels and make them relatively safe bets. Prior to the pandemic, the most noticeable trend happening among these hotel companies was the introduction of new brands. The intent behind this move was to create more opportunities to expand franchise and management contracts in markets that were already saturated by other brands under the companies’ umbrella. However, the pandemic has stalled this growth strategy. Similarly, pipeline development also slowed and in some instances reversed course as hotel owners and investors pulled back once the pandemic hit and existing hotels began closing. Consequently, stock prices may remain somewhat stagnant until expansion plans are underway again.   Marriott International Inc. is arguably one of the most popular, if not the most well known, of hotel stocks. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, the company has a portfolio of more than 7,600 properties under 30 brands in 133 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts globally. The stock trades as MAR on NASDAQ. In 2020, Marriott International generated over $10.5 billion in revenue and saw annual EPS decline to $0.31 from $1.16 in the 2019 fiscal year (FY). From 2009 to 2019, Marriott stock has returned 10% higher compared to NASDAQ composite and 44% higher compared to Dow Jones Large Cap. According to CNN Business, 18 analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Marriott International Inc. have a median target of 135.00 with a high estimate of 175.00 and a low estimate of 119.00.  Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., (NYSE: HLT) operates and franchises 6,400 hotel properties under 18 brands in 119 countries in addition to licensing vacation ownership resorts. The company’s revenue for 2020 total $4.31 billion and annual EPS dropped from $3.04 in FY 2019 to $-2.56 for FY 2020. During the decade between 2009 and 2019, Hilton’s stock returned 126% higher compared to NYSE composite. As per CNN Business, the consensus among 18 analysts for 12-month price forecasts is a median target of 123.50, a high estimate of 140.00 and a low estimate of 100. Hyatt Hotels Corp. (NYSE: H) Headquartered in Chicago, Hyatt’s has 20 brands under its corporate umbrella and more than 975 hotels, all inclusive resorts and wellness resorts throughout 69 countries across six continents. 2020 revenue for the company was in excess of $2 billion although annual EPS for 2020 was -$6.93, which was a significant from 2019 annual EPS of $7.21. Between 2009 and 2019, the stock returned 28% higher than the NYSE composite. Fifteen analysts offering CNN Business a 12-month price forecasts for Hyatt Hotels Corp have a median target of 72.00, with a high estimate of 95.00 and a low estimate of 55.00. The median estimate represents a -14.11% decrease from the last price of 83.83. Accor SA (OTC Pink: ACCYY) This Paris-based company trades on the Euronext Paris exchange. However, U.S. investors can purchase shares through the Pink Open Market. The company’s product offering is comprised of 5,000 hotels and residences across 110 countries worldwide. Revenue for the full year 2020 €1.6 billion when annual EPS was -€8.69. Annual EPS for 2021 is estimated to be -€1.09. In the 10 years spanning 2009 to 2019, Accor returned 52% lower than the Euronext 100 composite. As reported by CNN Business, the 12-month price forecasts of 18 analysts for Accor SA has a median target of 8.38, a high estimate of 10.97 and a low estimate of 4.68.  Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: IHG) With $992 million in 2020 revenue, this hotel company has nearly 6,000 hotels throughout the America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australasia and China. More than 880,000 rooms are currently open and another 272,000 rooms are now in the pipeline. 2020 EPS for the stock declined 168.31% from 2019. However, IHG has returned 120% higher compared to NYSE composite in the decade between 2009 and 2019. The 12-month price forecasts of 20 analysts include a median target of 63.29, with a high estimate of 78.23 and a low estimate of 50.07. Choice Hotels International (NYSE: CHH) has more than 7,100 hotels or nearly 6,000 rooms, in over 40 countries and territories. Lodging options range from full-service and limited service hotels in the upscale, midscale, extended stay and economy segments. 2020 revenue was more than $774 million and 2020 adjusted diluted EPS was $2.22, a decrease of 49% over the prior full year period.  The stock also returned 168% higher than the NYSE composite over the 10 years from 2009 to 2019. The 10 analysts offering a 12-month price forecasts for Choice Hotels International Inc have a median target of 105.50, with a high estimate of 122.00 and a low estimate of 90.00. Wynn Resorts Limited (NASDAQ: WYNN) owns and operates Wynn Las Vegas, Encore Boston Harbor, Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace, Cotai. For the year ended December 31, 2020, operating revenues were $2.10 billion and annual EPS was $-19.37, a 1784.35% decline from 2019. In the 10-year period between 2009 and 2019, Wynn Resorts Limited (WYNN) has returned 75 percent lower compared to the NASDAQ composite. The aggregate 12-month price forecasts for Wynn Resorts Ltd have a median target of 120.00, with a high estimate of 157.00 and a low estimate of 99.00. MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) is a global entertainment company with a portfolio of 29 hotel and destination gaming offerings that include casinos, meeting and conference facilities, live entertainment experiences and restaurant, nightlife and retail products. The Company is currently pursuing targeted expansion in Asia through the integrated resort opportunity in Japan. In 2020, net revenues were $2.2 billion for the company’s Las Vegas Strip resorts and $2 billion for its regional operations. MGM China had net revenues of $657 billion in 2020.  Adjusted EPS was a loss per share of $3.94 in 2020, compared to Adjusted EPS of $0.77 in 2019. MGM Resorts International (MGM) returned 115% higher over the 10 years from 2009 to 2019 in comparison to the NYSE composite for the same period. Fourteen analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for MGM Resorts International have a median target of 37.75, with a high estimate of 50.00 and a low estimate of 28.00.  Caesars Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: CZR) is one of the largest gaming-entertainment companies in the U.S. and one of the world's most diversified gaming-entertainment providers. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, in 1937, Caesars Entertainment has grown through development of new resorts, expansions and acquisitions. Caesars Entertainment's resorts operate primarily under the Caesars®, Harrah's®, Horseshoe® and Eldorado® brand names. Caesars generated approximately 3.47 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2020, when annual EPS was -$13.50 compared to annual EPS of $1.03 in 2019. The stock returned 59 percent higher than the NASDAQ composite in the 10 years over 2009 to 2019. The 12 analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Caesars Entertainment Inc have a median target of 97.50, with a high estimate of 115.00 and a low estimate of 90.00.  Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) is a developer and operator of meetings, incentives, convention and exhibition or MICE-based integrated resorts, including Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and through majority ownership in Sands China Ltd., Sands developed the largest portfolio of properties on the Cotai Strip in Macao, including The Venetian Macao, The Plaza, Four Seasons Hotel Macao, The Londoner Macao, The Parisian Macao and Sands Macao.  The company recently entered into definitive agreements to sell its Las Vegas real estate and operations, including The Venetian Resort Las Vegas and the Sands Expo and Convention Center for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $6.25 billion. Casino and entertainment resort company Las Vegas Sands generated approximately 3.61 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2020. However, EPS for the 12-months ending Dec. 31, 2019 was -$2.21, a year-over-year decline of 163.14%. But from 2009 to 2019, the stock returned 62% higher than the NYSE composite and 14 analysts collectively a 12-month price forecast with a median target of 67.50, a high estimate of 84.00 and a low estimate of 50.00.   Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) REITs are another investment option. Unlike hotel companies, hotel REITs –and all REITs for that matter— own, operate or finance real estate with the objective of generating income. Similarly to mutual funds, REITs combine the capital from multiple investors who earn dividends and avoid the risk associated with buying, managing and directly financing real estate assets on their own. These are good bets for investors who want a stable income stream.  However, REITs aren’t known for their capital appreciation, which is why they tend to show noticeably lower returns against index composites. For example, over the decade from 2009 to 2019, Apple Hospitality REIT Inc. returned 68% lower compared to the NYSE composite and during that same time period, Host Hotels & Resorts returned 40% lower than the NYSE composite index. Broadly speaking, a REIT’s 52-week high and low are more illustrative of the moderate risk they represent to investors.  You should keep in mind that the Pandemic has led to a trend where hotel assets are either being sold off to then be repurposed into other asset classes such as multifamily housing and senior living facilities or hotel owners and investors are themselves repurposing their hotel properties into other asset classes. REIT investors should be aware of this as the trend has the potential to change and even diminish the portfolios of hotel REITs. Like hotel stocks, there are a good number of hotel REITs to invest in, but these tend to be investor favorites because of their longevity and portfolios of reputable brands.  Apple Hospitality REIT, Inc. (NYSE: APLE) owns 233 hotels with more tan 29,800 rooms located in 88 markets throughout 25 U.S. states. The portfolio has a concentration of marquee names including Marriott-, Hilton- and Hyatt-branded hotels. Annual revenue for 2020 was $602 million and the median yearly earnings for 2021 are approximated at $0.54. In the 52 weeks ending on March 19, 2021, the highest price reached by the stock was 15.89. The lowest price was 5.36.A panel of eight analysts offered a collective price forecast with a median target of 17.00, a high estimate of 19.00 and a low estimate of 15.00.  Hersha Hospitality Trust (NYSE: HT) owns and operates 37 hotels totaling 5,845 rooms are located in New York, Washington, DC, Boston, Philadelphia, South Florida and select markets on the West Coast. The company’s revenue for the full year 2020 total $529.96 million while 2020 EPS was -$0.46. In the 52 weeks ending March 19, 2021, the stock price peaked at 12.9 and saw a low of 2.41087.  The nine analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Hersha Hospitality Trust have a median target of 10.00, with a high estimate of 21.00 and a low estimate of 8.00.  Host Hotels & Resorts (NASDAQ: HST) is the largest lodging REIT and renowned for its concentration of luxury and upper-upscale hotels with a focus on brands such as Marriot, Ritz-Carlton, Westin, Sheraton, W, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Hyatt, Fairmont, Hilton, Swissôtel, ibis and Novotel. The company owns 76 properties in the U.S. and five internationally, totally 46,800 rooms. Host additionally holds non-controlling interests in six domestic and one international joint venture. The company did $65 million in revenue for the full year 2020 when annual EPS total  -$1.04. The stock price hit a high of 18.42 during the 52 weeks ending on March 19, 2021 and fell to a low of 9.06. Eighteen analysts estimated a median target of 17.00 in a 12-month price forecast, with a high estimate of 21.00 and a low of 13.00.  Park Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: PK) is the second largest publicly traded lodging REIT with a portfolio of 60 premium-branded hotels and resorts that comprise more than 33,000 rooms in city center and resort locations. The company reported $852 million in 2020 revenue and annual EPS for 2020 was $0.94. In the 52 weeks ending on March 19, 2021, the highest price reached by Park Hotels & Resorts Inc stock was 24.6. The lowest price was 6.04. The 14 analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Park Hotels & Resorts Inc have a median target of 22.50, with a high estimate of 28.00 and a low estimate of 15.00.  RLJ Lodging Trust (NYSE: RLJ) has a portfolio of 1010 premium-branded, focused service and compact full service hotels in 23 states and Washington D.C. along with an ownership interest in one unconsolidated hotel. This REITs hotels are consolidated in urban areas and other densely populated markets where the barriers to entry are significant, but RLJ’s investment strategy of focusing on hotels with limited food service offerings, limited meeting space and consequently fewer employees, represents greater potential on returns.   Index Funds & ETFs Index funds and ETFs or Exchange Traded Funds are good bets for investors who want to put money into hotel stocks and hotel REITs while minimizing their risk. The benefit to index funds is that they are passively managed because they only track stock indexes. So the fees and expenses incurred by investors are lower. However, the hotel industry is extremely sensitive to changes in the economy. So gains and losses made on these investments will be a function of the greater business climate.  Keep in mind that not all stock indexes are index funds. The Baird/STR Hotel Index is widely regarded by hotel investors as an accurate barometer of the hotel industry’s financial performance. However, this index is not actively managed, nor does it allow direct investment. The Baird/STR Hotel Stock Index and sub-indices are cobranded and were created by Robert W. Baird & Co. (Baird) and STR. The market-cap-weighted, price-only indices comprise 20 of the largest market-capitalization hotel companies publicly traded on a U.S. exchange and attempt to characterize the performance of hotel stocks. ETFs are also considered low-cost investments. They can also have the added benefit of being more diverse investments since they can also include exposure to other real estate investments beyond the hotel industry. So they may not be as sensitive to shifting economies. Additionally, ETFs can include or comprise an entire portfolio of REITs, which on their own are not considered “qualified dividends” as per the IRS.  In other words, earnings on REITS are taxed at a higher rate. Despite the fact that REITs qualify for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s 20% pass-through deduction, they are still taxed at a higher rate than qualified dividends. ETF dividends can be taxed at the qualified rate provided the investor holds them for at least 60 days from the date of issue. Yet, there are ETF dividends that are not taxed at the qualified rate. So investors may want to confirm the tax rate before going in.  Also, keep in mind that the data by which you’re going to assess an ETF as an investment vehicle will differ from that used to assess any given hotel stock. These are not individual companies with annual revenues. Rather, an ETF is an investment vehicle comprising a portfolio of multiple companies and the portfolios are rebalanced, usually once a quarter. In turn, net assets change regularly. The revenue or other metrics for any single company within that portfolio is not an accurate representation of the ETFs’ performance as a whole.  In the meantime, here are a few ETFs worth considering: Nuveen Short-Term REIT ETF (BATS: NURE) This fund provides exposure to U.S. real estate investment trusts (REITs) with short-term lease agreements which may exhibit less price sensitivity to interest rate changes than REITs with longer-term lease agreements. The Fund seeks to track the investment results, before fees and expenses, of the Dow Jones U.S. Select Short-Term REIT Index, which is composed of U.S. exchange-traded equity REITs that concentrate their holdings in apartment buildings, hotels, self-storage facilities and manufactured home properties, which typically have shorter lease terms than REITs that invest in other sectors. The ETF was formed in December 2016; performance data for the last five years is not yet available. The fund has $26.02 million in net assets and the year-to-date daily total return was 12.11%. Its one-year monthly total return was 8.47% and its three-year monthly total return was 9.97%. The 52-week high was 31.22 and the low was 19.28. Wall Street analysts give this fund an N/A rating according to Marketbeat.com  Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight Real Estate ETF (NYSE Arca: EWRE) The Invesco S&P 500® Equal Weight Real Estate ETF (Fund) is based on the S&P 500® Equal Weight Real Estate Index (Index). The Fund will invest at least 90% of its total assets in securities that comprise the Index. The Index equally weights stocks in the real estate sector of the S&P 500® Index. The Fund and the Index are rebalanced quarterly. The fund has net assets of $22.66 million. The year-to-date daily total return was 12.11%. Its one-year monthly total return was 11.52% and its three-year monthly total return was 11.33% and the five-year monthly total return was 9.01%. The 52-week high was 33.50 and the low was 21.60. Zacks gives this fund an ETF Rank of “Sell” at the time of this writing.  ETFMG Travel Tech ETF (NYSE Arca: AWAY) The ETFMG Travel Tech ETF is a portfolio of companies that are a subset of the global travel and tourism industry. These companies are engaged in the “Travel Technology Business” by providing technology via the Internet and internet-connected devices to facilitate travel bookings and reservations, ride sharing and hailing, travel price comparison, and travel advice. AWAY is an exchange traded fund (ETF) that seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield, before fund fees and expenses, of the Prime Travel Technology Index. The fund has net assets of $261.77 million.  The year-to-date daily total return was 20.07%. Its one-year monthly total return was 116.96%. No additional performance data is available as the ETF was launched in February 2020. The 52-week high was 34.54 and the low was 13.58. Based on WalletInvestor.com forecasts, a long-term increase is expected. The "AWAY" fund price prognosis for 2026-03-25 is 148.980 USD. With a five-year investment, the revenue is expected to be around +369.23%. Your current $100 investment may be up to $469.23 in 2026.   Hospitality and Travel Tech Stocks The travel industry is expected to benefit from pent-up demand. Despite this, many investors have exited their positions in asset-heavy stocks like hotels, airlines and cruise lines. But asset-light travel tech stock may appeal to investors who still want to cash in on an upcoming booking spree since these companies all play some role in the booking funnel.  Travel tech companies also have irons in just about every fire in the travel industry, from hotels and cruise lines to tour operators, airlines and restaurants. So they help investors spread their risk through diversified business interests within the travel and tourism sector.  But investors should also be cautioned that Wall Street is bearish on tech stocks right now. According to a survey from Bank of America, fund managers cut their tech weighting to the lowest overweight position since January 2009.  For investors who aren’t faint of heart, here are some stocks in the travel tech space that are worth considering right now:   Tech Plays: OTAs   Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE) Expedia Group leverages platform and technology capabilities across an extensive portfolio of businesses and brands to orchestrate the movement of people and the delivery of travel experiences on both a local and global basis. 2020 annual revenue was $5.2 billion was 2020 annual EPS was -$19.00. Expedia Group Inc. returned 26% higher compared to the NASDAQ composite in the decade between 2009 and 2019. Twenty-seven analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Expedia Group Inc. have a median target of 165.00, with a high estimate of 211.00 and a low estimate of 120.00.  Booking.com (NASDAQ: BKNG) Booking Holdings (BKNG) is a provider of online travel and related services, available to customers and partners in over 220 countries and territories through six primary consumer-facing brands - Booking.com, priceline, agoda.com, Rentalcars.com, KAYAK and OpenTable. The company’s annual revenue for 2020 was $6.79 billion while annual EPS for 2020 was $1.44. In the 10-year period from 2009 to 2019, Booking Holdings Inc. returned 13% higher compared to the NASDAQ composite. Twenty-five analysts offered a 12-month forecast that included a median target of 2,550.00, a high estimate of 3,000.00 and a low estimate of 1,890.00 Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB) Since its inception in 2007, Airbnb has grown to four million hosts who have welcomed over 800 million guests in almost every country worldwide. Annual revenue was $3.4 billion for 2020 when annual EPS was N/A. Airbnb shares began trading in December 2020. Therefore, no historical data is available. A 12-month price forecast from 26 analysts included a media target of 180.00, a high stimate of 240.00 and a low estimate of 130.00.  Trip.com (NASDAQ: TCOM) Trip.com Group Limited is a travel service provider consisting of Trip.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner, and Qunar. Across its platforms, Trip.com Group enables local partners and travelers around the world to make informed and cost-effective bookings for travel products and services, through aggregation of comprehensive travel-related information and resources, and an advanced transaction platform consisting of mobile apps, Internet websites, and 24/7 customer service centers. The company report annual revenue of $2.8 billion for 2020 although annual EPS was N/A for 2020. Tripcom Group Limited returned 51 percent lower than the NASDAQ composite for the 10-year period between 2009 and 2019. In a 12-month price forecast provided by 34 analysts, a media target was set at 44.54, with a high estimate at 51.32 and a low approximated at 37.43.  Google (Alphabet Inc.) (NASDAQ: GOOG) Alphabet became the parent holding company of Google in October 2015. The company’s suite of products, through its subsidiaries, includes web-based search, advertisements, maps, software applications, mobile operating systems, consumer content, enterprise solutions, commerce and hardware products. The Internet’s annual revenue for 2020 came in at $180 billion. Annual EPS for 2020 was $58.61. However, Alphabet Inc. returned six percent lower than the NASDAQ composite for the 10 years from 2009 to 2019. Forty analysts offered a 12-month price forecast where the median target was 2,400.00 and the high estimate was 3,000.00. The forecast’s low estimate was 1,477.00   Tech Plays: Metasearch   Tripadvisor (NASDAQ: TRIP) Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to browse more than 860 million reviews and opinions of 8.7 million accommodations, restaurants, experiences, airlines and cruises. Travelers turn to Tripadvisor to compare low prices on hotels, flights and cruises, book tours and attractions, as well as to make restaurant reservations. Tripadvisor is available in 49 markets and 28 languages. The subsidiaries and affiliates of Tripadvisor, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRIP) own and operate a portfolio of websites and businesses, including many travel media brands: In 2020, the U.S.-based online travel company generated revenues of approximately $604 million and annual 2020 EPS was -$2.14. In the decade between 2009 and 2019, TripAdvisor returned 48% lower than the NASDAQ composite. According to a 12-month price forecast from 18 analysts, the median target is 38.50 and the high estimate is 62.00 while the low estimate is 20.00.   Trivago (NASDAQ: TRVG) Trivago is a global hotel and accommodation search platform used by travelers to search for and compare different types of accommodations, such as hotels, vacation rentals and apartments, while enabling advertisers to grow their businesses by providing them with access to a broad audience of travelers via its websites and apps. As of December 31, 2020, Trivago offered access to more than 5.0 million hotels and other types of accommodation in over 190 countries, including over 3.8 million units of alternative accommodation, such as vacation rentals and apartments.  The search platform can be accessed globally via 54 localized websites and apps available in 32 languages. Trivago’s annual revenue for 2020 was $284 million. However, 2020 EPS was -$0.8170. Trivago returned 156% lower from 2009 to 2019 compared to the NASDAQ composite. A price forecast offered by nine analyst for 12-months offered a median target of 2.67, a high estimate of 3.56 and a low of 1.27.    Tech Plays: Software & GDS Companies   Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) The Oracle Cloud offers a complete suite of integrated applications for Sales, Service, Marketing, Human Resources, Finance, Supply Chain and Manufacturing, plus Highly- Automated and Secure Generation 2 Infrastructure featuring the Oracle Autonomous Database. Total revenue for 2020 was $39.1 billion and annual EPS was $3.08. Oracle Corporation (ORCL) has returned 58 percent higher compared to NYSE composite in the ten years from 2009 and 2019. Twenty-one analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Oracle Corp have a median target of 73.00, with a high estimate of 93.00 and a low estimate of 57.00.  Amadeus (OTC: AMADY) Amadeus IT Holding S.A. is a Spain-based IT provider for the global travel and tourism industry. The company builds solutions for airlines and airports, hotels and railways, search engines, travel agencies, tour operators and other travel businesses through its global distribution system (GDS) and IT business. Amadeus provides search, pricing, booking, ticketing and other processing services in real-time to travel providers and travel agencies through its Amadeus CRS distribution business area. It also offers computer software that automates processes such as reservations, inventory management software and departure control systems. It services customers including airlines, hotels, tour operators, insurers, car rental and railway companies, ferry and cruise lines, travel agencies and individual travellers directly.  The company’s annual 2020 revenue were €2 billion and annual EPS was -$1.40. According to SeekingAlpha.com, “In the last decade Amadeus IT managed to grow its cash from operations every single year. The OCF-ratios on both a revenue and an equity level are exceptional. All the while management spends cash to grow the business via M&A and purchases of intangibles, but is also growing dividends each year for the shareholders. And as can be seen on both the balance sheets and cash flow statements, the company is managing its debt levels in a very prudent way. If there are no good businesses to buy, debt is retired.” SeekingAlpha also points out that the risk associated with investing in Amadeus is that most of its revenue is related to air travel.  In the 15 years or so prior to 2020, the growth has been robust, but Coronavirus has clearly changed that and the short- and median-term future of global air travel remain to be seen. Twenty-one analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Amadeus IT Group SA have a median target of 66.76, with a high estimate of 88.06 and a low estimate of 49.16. Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR) Sabre’s software, data, mobile and distribution solutions are used by hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotel properties to manage critical operations, including passenger and guest reservations, revenue management, flight, network and crew management.  Sabre also operates a leading global travel marketplace, which processes more than $120 billion of global travel spend annually by connecting travel buyers and suppliers. Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, USA, Sabre serves customers in more than 160 countries around the world. In 2020, the corporation generated $1.33 billion in annual revenue and had an annual EPS of -$4.42. Sabre Corporation (SABR) has returned 98% lower compared to NASDAQ composite. Four analysts offered 12-month price forecasts with a median target of 16.00, a high estimate of 18.00 and a low estimate of 13.00.   Did we miss any great hotel stocks? Let us know via live chat!    

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Here's Why You Need a Guest-Centric Cloud Hotel PMS

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

It’s no secret that exciting things are happening in the world of hotel technology, but how do you know when it’s time to upgrade the tech at your hotel? The hospitality market is continually changing. As your guests’ preferences shift and software becomes more sophisticated, you may reach a point where your hotel’s tech stack can no longer facilitate the level of service you expect for your guests. To anticipate these changes, it’s crucial that you invest in a Property Management System (PMS) that can naturally scale with your business, and seamlessly integrate with new technologies. Most importantly, your PMS should be intuitive and efficient enough to allow your staff to focus their energy where it belongs 一 delighting your guests. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits that a mobile and guest-centric PMS can bring to your hotel, like allowing your staff to manage your hotel from anywhere in the world, or giving your guests the option of a completely contactless check-in, directly from their mobile device. We’ll also highlight the key elements of a guest-centric system and show how they apply to some real-world case studies.   The Hallmark Features of a Guest-Centric Cloud PMS A guest-centric cloud property management system should embody four key goals: ease of operations, ease of access, ease of scale and connectivity, and ease of profit. In short, your PMS should be unburdened 一 it should empower your staff to deliver your ideal guest experience, not hinder them.  StayNTouch CRO, Michael Heflin suggests two great examples of a guest-centric PMS in action, “A luxury hotel can choose to greet their guests with a glass of champagne in the lobby while the staff member checks them in on a tablet or they can offer self check in at a kiosk station that’s tucked away, allowing the guest to be socially distanced.”  In addition to streamlining operations, a modern, cloud-based PMS can easily be accessed from anywhere on property...or the planet. Staff members can manage their hotel from any device that has an internet connection, including tablets or smartphones. Guests can also manage their reservations or check-in from their mobile devices 一 even before setting foot in the lobby. A guest-centric PMS doesn’t just provide benefits within your hotel’s walls; it can facilitate connections between your hotel and a whole world of software integrations. From distribution channels like Expedia, Booking.com, and the GDS to payment processors, keyless locks, or reputation management systems, a flexible cloud PMS certainly isn’t just a tool to house reservations 一 it’s the glue that holds all other tools together. “We also make it easier to profit with targeted and automated mobile upsells and features like hourly rates/day use, which make it easier to expand revenue segmentation by utilizing rooms for workspace, private dining, day spas, or any experience a hotelier can imagine. A guest-centric cloud PMS fully unburdens staff, and enables them to deliver the optimal guest experience each and every time so that hoteliers can deliver on whatever guest experience they design,” says StayNTouch’s Heflin. But the benefits of a guest-centric PMS aren’t limited to operations; it can also unlock increased profitability. Such a system can expand revenue streams to include day-use rooms, for example, giving hoteliers new options for private dining, spa services, and meeting or workspaces.   How to Know if Your PMS Isn’t “Guest-Centric?” Traditional property management systems are designed to be purely transactional, often charging additional fees for upgrades or add-ons. While this strategy makes short-term sense for the PMS company, it does so at their clients’ expense, by forcing them to pay more for a platform that is less flexible, difficult to use, and difficult to scale. In short, these systems aren’t designed to empower hoteliers. Michael Heflin offers practical advice for rooting out antiquated systems, “You can see a similar approach in the design of many legacy systems. Running off of a desktop terminal,  they often feature a user interface which is clunky and outdated. This distracts hoteliers from their guests in two ways: First, because the UI makes it difficult to complete even simple administrative tasks, the staff member must spend more time buried in their screen to serve their guests. Second, running a PMS on a desktop on a stationary front desk prevents hoteliers from moving around and serving the guests where they are. In this sense, legacy PMS systems are literally distracting the hotelier when they try to engage with their guests, while placing physical barriers between the guest and hotel staff.” Legacy systems are clunky and slow. They distract your staff with outdated interfaces that complicate even simple tasks, so they spend more time buried in their screens and less time actually interacting with their guests. In addition, a legacy PMS running on a desktop computer literally erects a physical barrier between staff and guests. When a hotelier is confined to a centralized front desk, they can’t meet their guests where they are, but instead force guests to wait in line to have their requests handled. A mobile, guest-centric PMS, on the other hand, frees staff members to provide excellent service anywhere on property. And because the system features a colorful, intuitive user-interface, as well as advanced automation, it requires less time and attention to complete tasks.   Identifying a Guest-Centric PMS in a Sales Pitch Many PMS platforms claim to be “best-of-breed,” but they might not be truly guest-centric. To determine whether a PMS offers the functionality you need, you’ll want to verify four points during the buying process:  First, if the PMS advertises itself as “cloud-based,” but isn’t native cloud, then that means it’s just being lifted from its on-premise environment and migrated to the cloud. That isn’t true cloud 一 and the software will suffer in terms of performance and reliability. If it takes over 2 minutes for a staff member to complete a check-in, then the product isn’t intuitive and isn’t designed to enable a seamless check-in.  If you are not able to give your guests the option of a contactless check-in, or a chance to personalize their stay through their smartphone, or give your staff the flexibility to move beyond the front desk to service your guests, then it’s not a guest-centric PMS.  Finally, if the PMS can’t seamlessly connect to all of your core systems and allow you to build nuanced and dynamic guest profiles, then your system is neither connected, nor is it guest-centric. Your PMS isn’t just “another app” 一 It’s the heart of your hotel’s technological ecosystem, and your decision has critical implications for your guests, employees, and profitability. A great PMS is like the mission control for your hotel’s operations and the core of your on-site technology, and it should put the power in your hands to deliver your version of the ideal guest experience.   The Future of Property Management Systems The post-pandemic hospitality market will be marked with both challenge and opportunity. In the next five years, we can expect vast changes in the hospitality market. Mr. Heflin elaborates: “In the next five years, we can expect hoteliers to fundamentally reimagine what it means to be a hotel, and capitalize on emerging markets such as co-working and extended stay. Also, offering guests self-service options will be a necessity rather than a nice to have or a trend for the moment.” In order to capitalize on these trends, however, you need a PMS with the flexibility to leverage the latest technology. StayNTouch makes it easy to scale and connect with third-party solutions with open-APIs, seamless integrations, and regular free system upgrades. As your hotel evolves, your PMS should be able to evolve with you and allow you to deliver the type of service the modern guest wants.    Exciting PMS Features to Look for Property management systems have so many features, but what less-common functionality should you look for to add value to your property? Hourly rates: Hourly/Day Use functionality lets hotels leverage entirely new market segments and reimagine the relationship with their guests. Although originally developed for airport hotels serving travelers experiencing extended layovers, the possibilities of hourly bookings are endless: For example it can also be used to monetize co-working programs for teleworkers, to make day spa reservations, or it can repurpose rooms to create an exclusive, socially-distanced dining experience.  Contactless check-in: Across the board, traveler preferences have shifted toward contactless services over the last year. Ideally, guests should be able to check in to their room from their smartphone or a self-service kiosk, then further customize their stay through upgrades, amenity or restaurant reservations, or monetized early check-in or late check-out. Simplified webhooks: Webhooks are enhancements to an open-API architecture that lets them find the exact piece of data they need, in near real-time. To use the old analogy: While a traditional API would spend time combing through a haystack, a webhook would be the thread leading directly to the needle. This allows for highly nuanced and personalized integrations in close to real-time, without burdening the system’s processing ability.   Hospitality Brands that Maximize their Use of Software The “ideal guest experience” is different at every hotel, since each property is unique. That’s why it’s important to have a PMS that allows you to shape the guest experience to meet your goals. Let’s take a look at three hotels who used StayNTouch’ PMS functionality to create unique experiences:  The TWA Hotel, located at JFK Airport, serves many travelers who book hourly-rate rooms during layovers or delays. Using their PMS’s hourly-rate functionality, the TWA Hotel can manage rates, operations, and reporting at the hourly level. This level of customization lets guests pay for only the hours they need; therefore, the hotel can maximize its inventory.  Mint House at 70 Pine focuses on remote professionals working in New York City’s Financial District. Through their PMS, the property can sell rooms at an hourly rate, which is an attractive offer for individuals who need a place to work for a few hours or virtual businesses who need meeting space for events. With its green, open-layout design, ZoKu Amsterdam offers both extended stay options and spaces for socializing and coworking. Zoku created a welcoming and efficient check-in process that includes both mobile check-in and self-service kiosk options, so guests can customize their arrival experience.   What to Expect When Switching to a Guest-Centric PMS Switching to an entirely new system can be daunting, and you want to make sure the risk is worth the reward. A guest-centric cloud PMS can have a significant impact on your property - in many positive ways. For example, you’ll notice faster adoption of the system by your staff. It is user-friendly and intuitive, so it takes less time to learn how to use it. A smooth check-in experience can also shave time off the check-in process and increase adoption of self check-in options, whether on a smartphone or a kiosk. A guest-centric PMS should also reduce costs; a modern system shouldn’t charge extra fees for integrations, server maintenance, or updates. And another notable change should be a boost to your ROI; through automated upgrade or amenity offers, you can realize incremental revenue with little additional spend. But above all, you can expect your new, guest-centric PMS to eliminate any distractions or roadblocks to excellent service: “Technology should be there to enable and amplify the experience a hotelier envisions and should always keep the guest at the focus of that experience,” Mr. Heflin explains. When you consider your next technology partner, keep in mind Mr. Heflin’s point that, “personalized service will be more important than ever, and that makes platforms that empower personalized service that are much more critical to long term success.” Ultimately, great technology, and specifically a great PMS, should facilitate exceptional service and empower hoteliers to deliver on their promise of an exceptional guest journey.   This content was created collaboratively by StayNTouch and Hotel Tech Report.

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Hotel Groups are Using Operations Software to Adapt & Innovate Through Crisis

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

As the pandemic continues to bring uncertainty to the travel industry, we know one thing’s certain: technology is a key partner for hotels that want to make creative changes to their operations to not only survive but improve the guest experience (and maybe even the bottom line!) during these trying times. While today’s innovation might be driven by necessity, running a tighter ship will deliver positive change in the long run. Utilizing technology effectively now, with a focus on positive guest experiences and efficient operations, can greatly benefit hotels that choose to take advantage of it for years to come. To better illustrate how technology provides the “building blocks” for innovation in the hotel space, ALICE Creative Director Sean Cohen spoke with Richard See III from the San Luis Resort properties in Galveston, TX. Richard oversees room operations at the group’s three hotels, including the San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center, the Hilton Galveston Island Resort, and the Holiday Inn Galveston Beach Resort. Curious to hear about some real-life examples of using technology to build better guest experiences and more efficient operations? Let’s dive in.   Driving Guest Engagement From a Safe Distance If you want to better engage with guests, your hotel needs to communicate via their preferred method. And for an increasing number of guests, that preferred method is text messaging. We all know how emails can get lost in the shuffle, not to mention how they can come off as spammy, so text messages provide a quick, concise way to get your point across. A technology partner that supports both text and email communication, such as ALICE, can not only help you communicate important information but also engage with guests in fun ways. At one of Richard’s properties, during their annual Halloween pumpkin contest, guests could cast their votes via email or text message. Nearly 130 guests participated - but only 2 submitted votes via email. Text messaging was by far the most effective way to engage. Contests are just the tip of the iceberg; with a reliable communication platform that supports text messages, you can build upon guest relationships in a plethora of creative ways.   Identifying Issues On Property Despite Low Staffing Levels Does your hotel have a chronic air conditioning problem? Or noise during the night? If you’ve never heard about issues like these, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Using a technology partner that houses all guest communication can help you uncover issues at your property potentially unknown to management and, once fixed, improve the guest experience. As Richard says, “Before ALICE, our information was not being captured and processed efficiently. Now if we need to locate an issue, we can simply reference ALICE, the data is there. ALICE allows us to see and solve problems in real-time.” Data tracked and exported from a system like ALICE provides the necessary statistics to determine issues that need resolution - and just how prevalent those issues might be. Without a digital record of these guest complaints or interactions, it’s nearly impossible to determine the frequency and severity of such issues.   Ensuring Accountability with Less Oversight Since platforms like ALICE track every interaction, case, and task assignment, employees can hold true accountability and see each case through to completion. When a task or case involves multiple employees or departments, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. But if the task is housed in a digital platform, visible to the entire team or departments, this extra transparency helps to ensure nothing is missed. As Richard states, “we love that ALICE emails the original creator of the ticket once the issue has been resolved. That way the team members involved can be certain that the case was completed.”   Enabling Employees to Onboard New Skills as Managers Flex Staffing Levels Technology isn’t just a partner in building a more efficient hotel; the right technology platforms can also help you flex staffing levels and employee skills. ALICE’s platform, for example, allows internal users to assign tasks to certain departments and employees. At one of Richard’s San Luis hotels, the task of placing a room amenity like a “happy birthday” card is typically assigned to the concierge department. However, if any tasks need to be transferred between departments, ALICE makes the transition smooth. Within the ALICE dashboard, any necessary task reassignment is as easy as clicking a button. Similarly, public area attendants would typically receive task assignments related to keeping the lobby clean, but with less traffic in the lobby and a scaled-down housekeeping team, housekeeping managers would reassign tasks like bringing extra towels up to a room to public area attendants. The entire process was as simple as a few mouse clicks; public area attendants would see these new tasks in their regular task dashboard.   Quickly Pivoting Operating Models and SOPs During the pandemic, many hotels needed to make tough operational decisions. At Richard’s Hilton property, they decided to consolidate their housekeeping staff with the neighboring San Luis Resort. In a typical hotel, without a technology partner, an operational shakeup like this could be a nightmare. But with ALICE in place, the transition at Richard’s hotels was actually quite seamless. He describes: “Using San Luis as our home base, we were able to dispatch tasks and manage both hotels with one housekeeping department. Having ALICE at our disposal made task management much easier because we were able to forward the housekeeping requests from the Hilton property to [the San Luis]. As Hilton guests called down from their rooms, we added the tickets in ALICE, which then alerted staff members at The San Luis next door. [If we didn’t have ALICE], an extreme shift like this would have likely been flawed.” Of course, we certainly don’t want any hotel to be in the situation of needing to let go of a department, but as Richard’s example shows, even in tough spots technology can provide the building blocks your hotel needs to survive. As we look toward the future of hotel operations, technology is the backbone of exciting trends and ideas that will shape the guest experience going forward. Hotels that embrace technology will be the ones to transform their operations using the high-tech to their full potential - including some creative, out-of-the-box use cases like we’ve illustrated here.   This content was created collaboratively by ALICE and Hotel Tech Report.  

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A Quick Overview of Accounting in the Hotel Industry

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

There is a myriad of skills required if you want to reach the pinnacle of success in the hospitality industry. Charisma, leadership, and various hospitality services are what usually come to mind. It’s easy to understand why a lot of us often overlook accounting as one of these relevant skills, though, despite it being one of the most essential administrative duties of the business. It’s something that happens behind the curtains of successful hotel operations. The problem is, poor accounting practices can lead to a continuous debt cycle that can be difficult to escape. Hence, allow us to share with you some tips on how to perform your accounting commitments dutifully.   Advanced Staff Training They say that the world of work in 2021 will significantly shift its landscape due to the pressures and complexities brought about by the global health crisis. For instance, experts predict that there will be a drastic movement of the labor force, from traditional employment to remote working opportunities. Current job seekers also prefer back-office positions that won’t require them to interact with a lot of people for safety reasons. Both issues have certainly put a dent in the industry’s recruitment. Hence, it’s simply more strategic to provide your current staff with advanced training instead. It can boost job satisfaction and decrease your turnover rate as well. It is highly recommended to work with an accounting institute that specializes in the industry. After all, the accounting processes required by the industry are remarkably different from traditional accounting. There are a lot of elements at work such as varying room rates, late fees, and more.   Consider Accounting Principles in Rates Speaking of varying room rates, you should also consider the principles of supply and demand in your pricing. Most sectors have a fixed suggested rate for their products and services, but that doesn’t apply to the hospitality industry. Daily rates can fluctuate according to the season, availability of certain services, and even the rate of occupancy. It is normal for hoteliers to experience highs and lows in revenue from time to time. Those who are especially interested in budgeting and forecasting could refer to previous financial statements as a guide. After all, it should reflect the “bloodline” of your business.  There are three main financial statements that can reflect the actual status or performance of specific aspects of your establishment. These are the Profit and Loss Statement, the Balance Sheet, and the Statement of Cash Flow.   Use Separate Ledgers Most businesses only require a single general ledger for all of their transactions. On the other hand, hotel management accounting requires multiple ones to organize its separate streams of revenue.  For instance, bar sales and room rentals should be recorded separately to avoid confusion. This will give you an advantage in financial management and financial reporting.     Leverage Technology Finally, hotel owners can make use of specialized accounting management tools that were specifically designed for the hotel industry. You won’t even need to worry about keeping separate ledgers with such online platforms anymore. Premium accounting software usually includes organizational features that automatically sort out your records and directly upload them to the cloud for safe-keeping. Cloud storage also makes it convenient and accessible for your preferred staff. You may even log into your system remotely using any portable digital device depending on your chosen platform. As for safety and security, hoteliers will be pleased to learn that most of these systems are equipped with the highest levels of cybersecurity. Other accounting software features also include the following:  Accuracy One of the challenges in hospitality accounting is the presence of double entries. It can’t be helped especially with the use of analog accounting systems. As mentioned above, keeping your records in a single place to make them more streamlined isn’t an option either. Hence, most hoteliers resort to the tedious task of cross-checking their entries regularly to prevent data entry duplication. Fortunately, this won’t be a problem anymore when using a digital platform.  Each entry usually comes with multiple cells that you can fill in for better accuracy. Some platforms also allow the creation of reference numbers that further prevent duplication. Keywords will also help you locate your accounts payable, accounts receivable, and other specific financial data fast, creating a better accounting experience overall. Analytics It is not impossible to analyze the performance of your establishment on your own especially if it’s a small business. But what if you have dozens of rooms and multiple revenue streams?  Fortunately, most digital accounting programs come with analytic features that can create data-based reports and projections that then assist in essential decision-making. Automation Finally, spare your staff from tedious and repetitive accounting tasks with an automation feature. In fact, some programs are even AI-integrated allowing their platforms to recognize key performance indicators, issue alerts and notifications in real-time, and even schedule regular reports whenever you need them. Please keep in mind that accounting services do vary, so be sure to check the full functionality of your chosen platform just to make sure that it will meet your expectations. M3 Accounting is a personal favorite of ours. Not only do they offer premium accounting services, but they also provide training for your accounting team and allow integration with other accounting services like Quickbooks and Peachtree.   Final Thoughts Hospitality industry accounting is definitely set apart from the traditional practice. Fortunately, there are hotel accounting solutions that you can do to make your bookkeeping process faster and more convenient, including signing up for an online accounting system specifically designed for hospitality establishments.  

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The 9 Most Futuristic High Tech Hotels in the World

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

The pandemic accelerated technological transformation across the hospitality industry. Contactless has become a must-have, fitness centers have gone virtual, guest communications have moved to mobile, and self-service has become standard. While some hotels found themselves rapidly deploying new technologies, other hotels have been playing the tech-long game for years. Here are some of the world’s most notable high-tech hotels. We've covered the tech strategies of great hotel groups like Viceroy and Noble House who implement everything from contactless check-in to digital concierge but this article focuses on some more wacky tech implementations with a bit of focus on form over function.  This list features some pretty cool hi-tech gadgets and hotel room amenities that go above and beyond the typical flat-screen tv.  Some of the cutting-edge technology on this list may off-put more traditional travelers but will undoubtedly hit the spot for tech-savvy millennials. Rather than layer technology onto the operation, these properties embed technology into the fabric of the operation, making it a focal point and key feature. Some use it as an Instagrammable moment at a specific location while others structure their entire brand around the tech-enabled guest experience. Either way, technology is front-and-center at these hotels.   Henn Na Hotel, Japan “The Robot Hotel” Tokyo has become the marquee high-tech hotel. The brand concept is “commitment to evolution,” which appears across its operation in the form of robots. Lots of robots! The brand claims to be the world’s first hotel staffed by robots -- and there’s really no disputing that, as guests are greeted by robots at the front desk. At one property, the front desk is even staffed by dinosaur robots and iPad kiosks, which is quite the experience.     Other high-tech features at some locations include a robot barista frothing lattes, espressos and teas, as well as a 360-degree VR space for guests to immerse themselves in virtual reality experiences. The hotel is also fully enabled with Wifi powered facial recognition, which eliminates the need for a hotel key altogether. Guests can access the property, and their individual guest rooms, seamlessly using biometrics. Very futuristic, indeed!   YOTEL, New York City The YOTEL brand has been synonymous with technology since it opened its doors near  Times Square. The showstopper was a massive robot arm dominating the lobby, providing automated luggage storage for guests (as well as safety deposit boxes to store valuables). The YOBOT also provides self-service check-in, which puts the brand far ahead of today’s contactless guest experience.   The rooms -- called cabins -- may be small, but YOTEL uses technology to deliver its promise to “give you everything you need, and nothing you don’t.” This includes Smart TVs so that guests can connect their own devices and choose their own entertainment. The guest rooms also use motorized beds as space-savers and motion-activated sensors for lighting and AC to reduce carbon emissions. It’s all about efficiency, delivering an outsized guest experience in even the smallest spaces.   Blow Up Hall 5050, Poland The Blow Up Hall 50/50 is an impressive mix of form and function. Designed by BAFTA-award-winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, the hotel combines a restaurant, bar, gallery, and hotel into a unique vibe. There are several digital art installations, including a commentary on surveillance capitalism embedded right within the lobby.    The property eliminates the traditional touchstones of the hotel experience: there’s no front desk. The guest’s smartphone provides access to the property, from check-in to room keys to staff communications. The phone also acts as a room finder: after opening the app, the assigned room lights up and the door unlocks automatically. It’s these small tech flourishes that reinforce the property’s sense of mystery and intrigue.   Hotel Zetta, San Francisco At the center of Silicon Valley, the centerpiece of Hotel Zetta is most definitely its virtual reality room in the lobby. Designed by a local tech startup (naturally), the VR cube gives guests a fully-immersive opportunity to experience virtual reality. There are also Nintendo Switch consoles and Oculus VR headsets available so guests can experience next-generation technology in the comfort of their rooms.      Other tech touchstones include a vintage Atari Pong table in the Zetta Suite, which is modernized to include both the classic game and a Bluetooth speaker to play personal playlists. Each guest room is also equipped with Alexa-enabled voice control in every room. Guests can order a meal from room service, set an alarm or learn about on-property dining specials.    Kameha Grand, Zurich The Kameha Grand isn’t one of those kitschy places that you’re embarrassed to stay at. Quite the opposite: the high-end “lifestyle hotel” is part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. And, with rooms designed by Marcel Wenders, it’s got all of the trappings of a luxury property. Rooms     Our favorite rooms are, of course, the Space Suites. It’s the most futuristic room type on this list because it quite literally connects to space. The in-room TV features a live feed from NASA TV so that you can fuel those space dreams. The atmospheric vibes will contribute to that dreamy feel, with “outer space furnishings have been designed down to the smallest detail with a floating bed, pictures of galaxies, hovering astronauts and models of rockets.” Far out!   Virgin Hotels  The Virgin Hotel brand has always been tech-forward and guest-centric. Even prior to the pandemic, the brand empowered guests to control their own experiences right from the palm of their hand. Now, those features are dramatically expanded to be even more contactless.     Named Lucy, the app allows guests to skip check-in, using their phone to select rooms and unlock doors. Guests can also use the app to order room service, adjust room temperature, control entertainment (in-room streaming and Apple Music), plan their trip around the city, or even follow custom exercise routines by Fitbod. Following on smartly with its brand promise, the app also offers three preset lighting modes for guestrooms:  Get Lit for full brightness, Get in the Mood for dimmed relaxation, and Do Not Disturb for sleep. By putting all of these elements together into a single interface, Virgin Hotels puts the guest in control.    25hours Hotels Another brand that’s focused on high-tech without losing high-touch hospitality is 25hours. Thanks to an in-house multidisciplinary think tank, the Extra Hour Lab, the brand experiments with new ways of engaging with guests, both through digital and analog channels. That balance plays out in Cologne, where the record store greets guests alongside    Perhaps that’s one aspect that distinguishes the futuristic, high-tech hotels: those that understand how to inject storytelling into the experience alongside the latest technology.   Cityhub A hybrid between a comfortable hotel and a convivial hostel, Cityhub is futuristic in both its technology and its approach to hospitality. It’s part of a new wave of brands that blend categories and use technology to enable a more social experience. The Cityhub brand has an app but it also takes a cue from Disney and offers RFID wristbands. These bands are used not only for check-in and property access, but also  at the bar, cafe or vending machines, where guests can serve themselves and charge their rooms. Without having to constantly pull out their phones, there’s a more personal element to the experience.     Each “hub” has its own customizable lighting, temperature and audio streaming, so guests can control their vibe. There’s also an on-property social network, giving guests a digital lobby to meet and plan real-world adventures.   The Atari Hotel, Las Vegas (coming soon!) A notable mention is the upcoming Atari Hotel in Las Vegas.  This property will blur the boundaries between hotel and immersive experience, building on Las Vegas’ long history of blending entertainment with hospitality. The experience is straight out of Blade Runner: bright lights, massive marquees, and an “everywhere you look” focus on gaming.    The Atari Hotel points to a far-more futuristic vision of hotels than anything else on the market today. It very well could be the first hospitality experience built just as much for the virtual world as for the physical one. Guests can host friends in their rooms for gaming marathons, with consoles, batteries, and spare controllers available for delivery. The Atari Hotel may redefine the category and establish a new mainstream travel trend: the gamer circuit. -- What are your favorite high-tech hotel amenities? Let us know if we missed any key ones like hotels with crazy underwater speakers, air conditioning activated by motion sensors, cool touchscreen applications, and more!

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3 Ways to Increase Guest Confidence and Rebuild Travel in 2021

by
Alison Guillot
2 months ago

Will 2021 see the return of travel? As vaccinated populations grow, many international governments are looking to energize the travel industry with discussions around “vaccine passport” programs and the reopening of borders ahead of the all-important summer tourist season. As the year progresses, will there be a significant spike in demand for flights and hotels? And in which markets? Will road trips and outdoor destinations continue to be popular to accommodate social distancing or are travelers setting their sights on more exotic locales?  It’s important for hoteliers to prepare for a few different scenarios this year based on consumer confidence levels. To best capture available demand and ease travel-related concerns, hoteliers will want to focus on providing guests a clean, welcoming environment.    Meet the Expectations of “Generation Clean”  Cleanliness will remain a top priority for travelers this year and will weigh heavily in their decision to book accommodations. In a recent traveler survey, 2 out of 3 people say COVID-19 prevention measures are very important to know before they book, while only 25% say price is the key driver behind selecting their next destination.   That means the “Generation Clean” traveler is prioritizing health and sanitization in booking decisions and wants to feel the property is doing enough to ensure their safety.  As a hotelier, make sure to communicate the cleanliness standards and protocols your property has put in place. Add these details to your website and booking engine to make the property more attractive to shoppers. Pre-arrival emails that highlight specific safeguards your property is implementing, and what type of experience guests can expect onsite will be welcome and appreciated.    Provide Stress-Free Contactless Experiences   Expectations for contactless experiences such as keyless entry, mobile check-in/out, and automated service requests were already on the rise before COVID-19. Current social distancing guidelines have accelerated the adoption of contactless technology and digital experiences.  Contactless experiences not only drive convenience, but 62% of guests prefer to check-in and out through a hotel app. The introduction of these digital touchpoints can also provide hoteliers with opportunities to drive ancillary revenue and collect more actionable data to deliver memorable experiences. For example, if you know your guest has checked into their room via the property’s mobile app, perhaps consider sending them a text message or push notification to see if they’d like to order contactless room service.   These digital interactions are a welcome addition to travelers’ experiences and lets them know you are still offering attentive service, even though your staff is not immediately visible.     Personalize Each Step of the Guest’s Journey Hoteliers are discovering that loyalty is evolving beyond point-based reward programs to entice repeat bookings. COVID-19 has advanced the pace of technology adoption to build better guest experiences. With low room rates in abundance and high uncertainty around travel guidelines, non-price factors such as trust and the ability to deliver safe and memorable experiences are increasingly driving booking behavior. In fact, 79% of consumers say they are more loyal to brands with higher levels of personalization.  Every pre-trip questionnaire, email, digital service request, or mobile purchase is a building block for a personalized experience. But hoteliers need integrated systems to make true personalization a reality. By leveraging centralized data across your technology stack, hoteliers can convert guest preferences and profile details into actionable information for service delivery staff. After all, a personalized experience is a differentiated experience that can ultimately earn you a lifelong customer.    In a world where travel is evolving rapidly, some consumer expectations and behaviors are sure to become standards. Hoteliers need to take bold action to embrace these changes and elevated expectations for cleanliness, contactless experiences, and increased personalization. By focusing on integrated technology to deliver these priorities, hoteliers will ultimately drive more demand for their business and deepen their connection with guests.  

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Hotel Accounting Made Easy with Preno and Xero

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Hotel accounting can be really hard. Between agency commission tracking, deposits, invoices, chargebacks, and reconciliations – we humans just aren’t equipped to handle this level of complexity.  Small business accounting software like Xero makes accounting a breeze, but given very specialized accounting requirements in the hotel industry - even great accounting software like Xero can fall short without a proper integration to your property management system. Whether you’re tracking agency commissions or configuring payment policies for groups – it is vital for hotels of all sizes to have a seamless integration between their property management system (PMS) and hotel accounting software. Why? It saves countless hours of tedious administration via automation. In this article, we’re going to walk you through the easiest hotel accounting process you’ve ever experienced - powered by a seamless integration between PMS Preno and accounting software Xero. An integration that will automate and simplify your hotel’s financial activities. Ready to put the headaches of hotel accounting in your rearview mirror and automate your repetitive processes? Let’s dive in!   Why Use Preno with Xero? Got things to do and places to go? Here’s the abbreviated version of our deep dive into the Preno + Xero integration: Preno automatically generates invoices in Xero to make daily, monthly, or yearly reconciliations a breeze. Xero can handle multiple accounts, revenue streams, room types, fees, and more. Preno and Xero are the dream team for managing deposits and prepaid reservations. Xero’s automation functions can save your staff hours of valuable time each day. Preno’s integration with Xero is the most complete of any PMS, and is rated a perfect 5 out of 5 stars in the Xero App Store.   Automated Invoices Without an integration like the one between Preno and Xero, hoteliers and accounting staff spend up to 10 hours every week creating invoices and reconciling accounts. Staff would usually need to manually enter payment information or deposits in their PMS, and accounting system – essentially doing double the work. If your property management system doesn’t communicate with your accounting software, you need to manually type in data like guest’s name, booking dates, room rates, fees, and more. Does that sound like the most efficient way to run things? With Preno and Xero working together, reservation data syncs automatically with Xero’s accounting software so that invoices are complete and accurate without any busy work. The only thing you’ll need to do is ensure your bank statement line matches Xero’s invoice. Easy enough! However, if you want to make any adjustments to the automated invoice, that’s possible too. When you open a reservation in Preno, simply click a link to access the Xero invoice, there you can make any desired changes, and easily print or email the invoice.   Deposits and Prepayments Does your hotel require deposits or offer prepayment options? When using an old legacy PMS (not cloud-based like Preno), you can almost see the system on the brink of freezing or giving you that spinning wheel of death. Preno, on the other hand, is built to handle deposits with ease and speed. When a guest pays their deposit (or prepayment), the payment is recorded in Preno, and an invoice is automatically generated. Xero automatically allocates the payment to the full invoice. Within the guest’s reservation record, a link to the record in Xero also pops up for quick reference. Upon check-out, you can generate a complete invoice for the guest that details payments they made before, during and after their stay, and print or email is at the click of a button.   Multiple Account Support If the thought of reconciling multiple revenue streams at the end of the month gives you anxiety, then it’s time to upgrade your accounting software, and seamlessly integrate it with your PMS. Many hotels work with a variety of agencies, individual travel agents, and other accounts – and without a system that can balance all of them, month-end reporting can be a daunting task. Preno and Xero make invoicing accounts easy (and fun), because you can automatically generate invoices for reservations with a couple of click. Simply pull up an agency reservation, add a deposit or payment, and choose “Invoice Agent” as the payment method. An invoice will be automatically generated – voila!   Time-Saving Benefits Preno and Xero will save your staff hours of time each week – and because time is money, your hotel will have some extra moolah in its metaphorical pocket after making the switch to these apps. By reducing the hours of repetitive, administrative tasks, your staff can dedicate more time to tasks that enhance the guest experience.  Reducing the amount of time spent on “busy” work isn’t the only benefit, you’ll also reduce the chance of human error on invoices and payments, thus reducing the amount of time spent on service recovery or corrections. Modernizing your accounting process will also yield some interesting insights. For example, Preno’s integration with Xero includes details like a breakdown of fees, room service items, and surcharges to provide your hotel greater visibility into real-time business trends. The automated reporting tools in Preno and Xero can reveal your most popular fees, less popular room service orders, and provide opportunities to achieve incremental revenue growth. Still have questions about Preno’s integration with Xero? Let us know!   This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.  

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

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