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How to Optimize Hotel Forecasting with Technology

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

How long does your budgeting process take? And how often do you update forecasts within the month? For most revenue managers, forecasting and budgeting is a painful, manual process which is stuck in the last millennium. In an effort to unlock the power of data-driven forecasting without the manual overhead, HotelIQ has launched an AI-driven forecasting management system that incorporates historical PMS data into its predictions. Tons of variables could lead to a hotel needing to update forecasts like unexpected seasonality, competitor pricing updates, renovations that affect room rates and more. Hotel management is extremely complex and requires constant demand forecasting and a careful eye on key metrics to ensure optimization of key performance data and healthy operating margins. In this article, we’ll walk through the challenges with the standard hotel industry forecasting process and then show the improvements and efficiencies that HotelIQ can bring to your hotel. With a more streamlined and accessible forecasting process in place, you can achieve higher RevPAR and hit your revenue targets.

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Comp Set: A Step-by-Step Guide to Determining the Right Competitors for Hotel Benchmarking

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

How is your hotel performing? Many hotels leverage tools like STR reports to answer that question, but a STR report is only effective if you have picked the right properties (direct competitors) to compare your hotel against. Without context, your ADR and RevPAR might as well be numbers you pull out of a hat. A competitive set, or compset, can add necessary context to help revenue managers, leadership teams, and owners understand a hotel’s performance relative to similar hotels in the market. But in order for compset data to provide this valuable benchmarking context, the compset must include hotels that are close competitors of your hotel. In this article, we’ll explain the power of selecting the right competitive set and walk you through the process of building and maintaining a solid compset. Then, you’ll be able to use your compset to unlock insights and opportunities to capture higher ADR and more occupancy in the market.

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3 Strategies to Reduce Mail Related Check Fraud at Your Hotel

by
Haley Wolf
2 months ago

Mail-related check fraud has been rising since last August, according to the Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group at Georgia State University, which has been tracking the trend. It warns that criminals have a pretty easy time when it comes to getting their hands on your checks. In KPMG's survey of senior risk executives, 67% say their companies have experienced external fraud in the past 12 months, and 38% expect the risk of fraud committed by external perpetrators to somewhat increase in the next year. "Some of them simply go to your home mailbox and take the mail you left for the post office to pick up," said David Maimon, an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University and Director of the Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group. "Others simply go to the blue boxes with the keys that they were able to steal from some of the mailmen out there, empty the boxes, and get the checks that some of us send. That's how easy it is." The cybersecurity group found an average of 1,325 stolen checks up for sale every week during October 2021. This was more than double what it saw in September when the average was 634 a week and triple the 409 average in August 2021. More recent numbers indicate an even greater rate of incidents. M3, the hospitality sectors #1 Reporting & Accounting Software is hearing from more and more customers that are experiencing check fraud that ranges from checks being replicated or physically altered somewhere between when the check is issued, mailed, received, or redirected. The company’s goal is to minimize the potential of hospitality companies becoming a victim of check fraud, as has recommended the steps below be taken in order to mitigate the risk of check fraud. Implement Positive Pay with Name Verification. Positive Pay is a banking feature designed to help business owners protect themselves against fraudulent checks being written on their account. Once you give your bank details for each check you write, the bank verifies that your information matches the information on checks presented to the bank before it processes the payment. If any items don’t match up, your bank flags them and sends them to you for review. You can then decide if you want to accept or decline the payment. Implement an ePay system, which incorporates ACH and Virtual Credit Card (VCC) technology. ePay systems provide added security against fraudulent activities; especially when checks are eliminated and is easy to set-up and easy to use. It also adds efficiencies to your reconciliation process. In addition, ePay improves overall employee accountability. Complete Your Bank Reconciliations DAILY. Merely checking for similar numbers on the general ledger and bank statements is not good enough and is not offering the most protection against fraud. If you are only reconciling weekly or monthly, the horse may be out of the barn by the time irregularities or fraud is identified. Daily bank reconciliation allows you to nip bank errors in the bud as early as possible, leads to fewer issues and fewer errors, avoids working with outdated information, and helps track daily cash flow providing you the insight you need into the cash flow and spending habits of the property or corporate entity. If you are not reconciling daily, your books may not always equal reality. We are living in a world where, unfortunately, fraud is common and increasing at an alarming rate. Be sure you protect yourself and your company. If you currently are lacking the tools to keep your accounts safe, seek out assistance from your software partners to build a fraud prevention strategy.

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Inflation’s Ripple Effect: High Debt Costs - A Risk for Hotel Investors

by
Alex Sogno
3 months ago

The hotel sector has grown used to absorbing the blows as the pandemic has thrown punch after punch in their direction. Yet now, as the rather choppy recovery progresses, inflation could well be the blow that lands the knock-out punch to some in the sector. For those with hotels situated in areas with strong tourism demand, there has been the chance to increase ADR, sometimes with the added benefit of high occupancy, to help soften the impact of wage and cost inflation, but for those dependent upon business travel, the surge in demand is yet to materialise, meaning many remain on the ropes. Inflation - and the added spectre of stagflation - is greatly feared by both economists and the wider population alike. For those with debt, however, there at least used to be a silver lining as the loss of value in money has a corresponding effect on any debt. This is a particular favourite among some governments, who have been known to use inflation to reduce their borrowings and get out of periods of high spending intact. But you can go too far. If inflation starts to run away, the borrowing to deal with it can outpace any reduction in value, and then a spiral begins, which is hard to break. Away from the macro, is the mechanism traditionally used to control inflation in the form of increasing interest rates, leading to significantly higher debt coverage - a negative sting in the tail. The hotel sector has been through a phase of borrowing just to stay afloat. While we saw Marriott International and Hilton using their loyalty programmes to raise money to build up cash cushions, for the rest of the sector, government support and additional borrowing were the route to staying afloat. With supply chain issues, inflation, and war in Ukraine grabbing governments’ attention, supporting the hotel sector while it tries to move towards stabilised trading is not a popular issue. Many loans are now being demanded back by governments eager to balance their books. Of those who looked to the private sector for loans and investment, many are finding money taken to save a business is harder to pay back than they had hoped, hindered as they are by inflationary pressures and increased debt costs. In addition, lenders have continually adjusted their risk appetite, leading to pressure to enforce covenants. Hotels are finding that what kept them afloat may now sink them as they find ever-decreasing volumes of cash available to meet such demands, let alone service debt, which could drive an acceleration of loan-to-own scenarios as well as an increase in transactions in general. A critical additional factor is the impact this scenario has in terms of the valuation methodology applied, and the increased potential for the sort of downward pressure on asset values many investors anticipated (and in some cases hoped) would lead to forced sales before now. Although the focus on the top lines is necessary for a speedy recovery, it’s recommended asset managers and hotel owners re-run their projections: evaluate the inflation impact on their 10-year projection, and clearly estimate the risk of a high debt ratio on the discounted cash flow. It is important not to misjudge the inflation threat until it is too late. Although tempting, it is important not to play down rising prices and concentrate only the recovery efforts on the operating departments. It is essential to evaluate the potential exposure below GOP and value the risk of rising inflation and cost of debt. Although hotel value is holding up, for now, the current market conditions will soon impact hotel valuations. Combined with the geopolitical instability, the situation may worsen rapidly. The sector is not yet in desperate straits. The latest study from HotStats, for April, reported: “The higher cost for goods is not yet wrecking traveller appetite. Despite record gas prices, ballooning airfares and crippling inflation roiling the globe, hotel performance remained widely steady, if not getting better, in April, with increases in both the top and bottom line.” The M&A market is, however, ticking up. 2021 was a year of strong recovery for European hotel transactions. A total of €16.4bn [1] worth of hotels changed hands, representing 322 individual transactions, 498 hotels and 79,000 rooms. Institutional investors and private equity investors were the largest net buyers as they rushed to deploy capital which had been hard to move at the height of the pandemic. 2022 is expected to show increased volumes. Lenders who have been lenient so far are expected to lose their patience, and hotels are forecast to sell rather than refinance. Some owners have been down on the canvas but bounced back due to pent up tourism demand; some cling to the ropes in the hope that improved trading will ensure few fire sales; but investors are still holding out for a bargain, and many are poised, and ready to pick up those who are forced to throw in the towel.

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What Does a Night Auditor Do in a Hotel?

by
Hotel Tech Report
8 months ago

If you’re considering a full time or part time night auditor job - or preparing to hire a night auditor - you’ve come to the right place. While many people are familiar with the job of a hotel front desk agent since it's during the day shift, the night auditor’s responsibilities aren’t as well known despite providing high paying entry-level positions at hotels. In this article, we’ll explain what a night auditor role entails, what skills will set you up for success as a night auditor, and offer advice for landing a night.

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How to Prepare Your Hotel Budget in 8 Steps

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Whether you're a general manager, sales manager, marketer or revenue manager - everyone has felt the pains of budgeting season.  This stressful time of year has become even more stressful in the wake of the pandemic which has rattled the hotel business and made planning for the future an impossible task. Ever wish you could peer into the future and see what your hotel’s occupancy or RevPAR will be a year from now? We don’t have a crystal ball, but preparing a solid budget for your hotel is the next best thing. If you’ve never set a budget, or if the words “budget season” bring back bad memories of hours spent huddled over spreadsheets in a conference room, then you’ve come to the right place. Preparing your hotel budget doesn’t need to be painful; in fact, it can be a valuable exercise to assess the current state of affairs and to brainstorm about your goals for the future. In this article, we’ve distilled the hospitality industry budgeting process into 8 steps. While it might be easier said than done, these steps can help you find synergy with other departments during the process and set a budget that takes into consideration a variety of internal and external factors. Let’s get started!

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8 Ways a Hotel PMS Improves Operations and the Guest Experience

by
Jan Hejny
8 months ago

Shortly after COVID restrictions were eased, I went on a short golfing trip to Austria. I booked a well-known boutique hotel with a SPA and a fantastic restaurant surrounded by vineyards. I found out later that many other people had the same idea, as the hotel was fully booked for the weekend. Well, good for them, I thought. Anyway, when I arrived, it was raining, and I didn't bring my umbrella with me. So I came into the hotel soaked, hungry, and in desperate need of a shower. Unfortunately, out of the two check-in desks available, only one was operating, and the poor guy was trying hard to check in all the arriving guests as quickly as possible, while doing his best to have a cordial chat with them. Make no mistake: I'm sure it wasn't his fault that we had to wait for five minutes before he finished with the previous guest. When finally my turn came, the receptionist spent a tremendous amount of time staring down at his computer. I tried to ask him a few PMS-related questions, to understand why it was taking so long (of course, he didn't have any idea I knew a thing or two about PMSs), but I started to feel bad for the people waiting behind me, so I stopped any efforts to communicate with him, and I wasn't even told where and until when I could get my breakfast or where the SPA was. And that was the moment I realized, at least on a personal level, that there's something intrinsically wrong with hotel tech today.   When Technology Breaks Down Now, I am sure that, if you’re a frequent traveler like me, you have similar horror stories. According to a Qualtrics survey, 57% of poor hotel experiences are down to unfriendly staff. Problem is that, very often, hotel staff is unfriendly because they’re overworked, especially post-COVID, when properties are operating with skeleton staff. Here’s where technology should help, but the Austrian one is the perfect example of a case where it didn’t, and this happens way more than we, in the industry, like to admit. Moreover, tech should not only improve operations, but guest experience as well. Bad news is that, often, it fails in both fields. When your tech stack increases workload and waiting time at the reception (or in any other department, for that matter), you know you’ve got a problem. Technology is fallible, whatever you may think, and choosing the wrong software can heavily penalize your operation. A couple of years ago, a curious news story was published: the Henn-na hotel in Japan, known mainly because a good part of its employees are actual robots, had to "fire" 243 of them for doing "a bad job." One staff member, interviewed by The Mirror, stated: "It's easier now that we're not being frequently called by guests to help with problems with the robots." Well, this is an extreme example, but it’s not uncommon to see hotel staff having to find hacks and workarounds to make things work. If you’ve ever had a job in the hotel business, you know exactly what I am talking about.   The Role of the PMS in the Hotel Tech Stack Now, at the core of hotel operations, there’s always the PMS, so this is where the majority of problems start: bad integrations, lack of built-in features, etc. Choosing wisely is crucial, but not always easy, especially because hoteliers may be, paradoxically, unaware of the problems they need to solve. This is not due to the fact that hoteliers are bad entrepreneurs, quite the opposite! Problem is that being a hotelier means having to manage many operational aspects of the job, most of which are very complex and detailed. A General Manager, for instance, will obviously have to prioritize certain tasks, rather than spending hours to go deep and understand a certain technical problem. The thing with PMSs is that they’re the kind of software which is used by several different departments, so everyone has an opinion on it, yet a partial one. Sales & Marketing will likely never have to insert a group reservation, while the front office department won’t have to deal with MICE requests. In my experience, General Managers are the ones which can green light the implementation of a new software, coordinating, understanding and synchronising different departments’ needs, but chances are that their vision is limited, due to too many things on their minds, too. And we’re back to the hotel in Austria: somebody picks the wrong software, the system makes the life of all (or, at least, some) employees miserable, there’s less time to focus on the guests (which is even worse than the previous issue, while, of course, unhappy employees are unlikely to make guests happy), and… Well, you see where I am going with this, don’t you?   How PMSs Can Improve Operations and Guest Experience So, when picking a PMS, you should always be asking the one million dollar question: will this system make my life (and the life of my staff) easier so that they can make my guests happier? Knowing what to look for in a PMS can make a huge difference, so make sure that you understand what a property management system can (or can’t) do for you while trying to go into details during the process. Because if there’s anything we have learned over the past two decades, is that the devil is always hidden in details. Here are some of the areas where a good PMS can actually make a difference for both the hotel staff and guests: Reducing the workload during the check-in/out process. A publication by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research studied guests’ tolerance of delays during check-ins, and found that the “breaking point” for US guests is as short as five minutes. There’s an interesting discussion on Quora titled “What is the actual average length of time (in minutes) for hotel check-in and check-out?” Of course, the method is far from scientific, but it’s a fascinating read. According to the discussion, a best-case-scenario-check-in is at least 2-3 minutes. You know what that means? That if an American guest has two persons in front of him, he will likely leave a pesky review… Self check-in kiosks and apps can dramatically improve the check-in/out experience, yet most PMS do not support the technology; Remove friction during payments. It’s not uncommon to find hotels that still manage credit card payments manually. Usually, it goes like this: the back office department receives a booking, and they have to log in into the extranet, find the reservation, get the card, switch to another page for the CVC, get the physical terminal POS, type the total amount and the card details, wait for the transaction to go through. If this doesn’t look like a big deal for you, try to time your staff while they do it. I doubt it will take them less than five minutes per transaction. Now, let’s say you receive 25 reservations a day: that’s over two hours wasted just to charge credit cards. Not to mention what happens if the card does not work, you have to ask for a new one and start the process all over again. A PMS can solve the issue with payment automation proprietary features, or by integrating to third-party providers; Integrate invoicing systems. It may sound crazy in 2021, but I have seen too many hotels where the reception has to ask accountants to issue an invoice and, on the other side, too many accountants typing numbers manually from PMSs reports into their accounting systems… A simple integration will save hours of manpower every day; Connect your PMS to your SPA system. In most cases, if a hotel guest wants to book a treatment at the desk, the reception has to call the SPA, check availability and then book. Integrating the two systems will dramatically reduce workload, and guests will also be able to book and check availability directly online; Get smart in F&B. The adoption of QR codes and online ordering increased dramatically due to anti-COVID guidelines, and this is a prime example of a system that can dramatically reduce waiting times and improve guest experience. Customers are able to order (and pay) immediately on their phones. This reduces the waiting time (the waiter does not have to come and take your order or bring you the bill). Customers are in full control of the timing, and restaurants can allocate less staff to serve the same number of people, saving money. Moreover, thanks to Kitchen Display Systems (KDS), orders are not printed on paper but are shown digitally on a screen in the kitchen. KDS can also measure the average time needed to cook a meal, improving efficiency and customer satisfaction; Housekeeping digitalization. Another feature that COVID dramatically accelerated is the adoption of housekeeping apps, both built-in in the PMS or provided by third-party vendors. They reduce workload and make communication between departments easier. Hoteliers can also benchmark housekeeping staff timing to optimize operations and - particularly important for green hotels - drastically reduce the use of paper. According to a study, hotels use almost 2B A4 sheets per year in the United States only, meaning that 268,000 trees are chopped down annually only to fulfill the hotel industry's needs. It's the equivalent of 15 New York Central Park worth of trees cut every year! Automated emailing. Even though this is a feature we tend to associate with CRMs, some PMSs provide built-in functionality to communicate with guests pre/mid/post-stay, improving both the guest experience and increasing revenue coming from ancillary services proposed in the emails; Connect. Connect. Connect. It may sound crazy, but there are still a lot of hotels without a proper 2-way-integration between the PMS and the channel manager. It goes without saying that linking the two systems will dramatically reduce workload and bring human error down to virtually zero.   Understand the Tradeoffs of New Technology to Maximize Impact Paul Virilio once stated: “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution... Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.” This is true for hotel tech as well, that is why implementing technology just for the sake of it it’s never a good idea. Choosing any software, and PMSs, in particular, requires a complete understanding of the property’s current (and future) needs. The risk with picking the wrong system is to end up like the Austrian hotel I wrote about at the beginning of this piece. At HotelTime Solutions, we provide tailored solutions and follow our customers during all the phases of the implementation, making sure that they can focus on what they do best: taking care of their guests.  

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HotelIQ: Beyond Business Intelligence for Savvy, Data-Driven Hoteliers

by
Hotel Tech Report
8 months ago

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

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2022)

by
Hotel Tech Report
8 months ago

Did you know the average small business uses 40 different software applications, and the average hotel uses around 20? In an ideal world, every system in your hotel’s tech stack would help you automate tasks, reduce costs, grow revenue, and deliver a five-star guest experience. But we understand that getting up-to-date on the myriad of technology solutions available to hotels can be daunting! Where do you even start? In this article, we’ll introduce you to each piece of the hotel technology landscape, from revenue management to reputation management and everything in between. Drawing on insights from over 10,000 hotel software reviews written by hoteliers across the globe, this article will also highlight some top software vendors in each category. For more detailed testimonials and additional software choices, you’ll want to click over to the full list of vendors. Let’s dive in!     9 Hotel Operations Software Tools that Drive Efficiency This category of software includes the most essential technology for hotel operations: checking guests in, reconciling accounts, handling payroll, and getting feedback from guests. Your hotel’s size and complexity will determine which systems you need; small, limited-service hotels might be fine with a PMS and a payment processor, but a large resort could benefit from each category of software. 1. Property management systems (PMS): The PMS is the central hub for hotel operations. In this system, staff can check guests in and out, create and manage reservations, pull financial reports, manage guest profiles, and more. According to user reviews and analysis of system functionality, the top PMSs are Cloudbeds, Clock, and HotelTime, though there are over a hundred more great systems on the market. 2. Staff collaboration tools: Hotel staff are scattered across different floors, buildings, and shifts, so a communication platform is necessary to keep everyone on the same page. Systems like hotelkit, Monscierge, and ALICE can replace analog methods like walkie-talkies and logbooks, plus they can track tasks, reduce manual errors, and increase efficiency. 3. Housekeeping and engineering software: These tools digitize the operations of your housekeeping and maintenance departments, with the ability to automate task assignment, monitor real-time status of rooms or issues, and track task completion. Top software in this category includes hotelkit, Flexkeeping, and ALICE. 4. Guest feedback and surveys: Do away with the paper comment cards and give guests a digital platform to voice their feedback, such as GuestRevu, TrustYou, or Revinate. Not only are these tech solutions easy for guests to use, but they also allow hoteliers to customize, automate, and analyze guest comments and complaints. 5. Accounting and reporting: If your hotel accepts payments from guests and issues payments to employees and vendors, then you’ll benefit from an accounting and reporting system like myDigitalOffice, M3, or Omniboost. A modern accounting system reveals opportunities to reduce costs and maximize revenue, plus makes your accounting team more efficient with automated reports and integrations with other on-site software. 6. Payments Processing: Most guests prefer to pay for their reservations with credit cards, but a payment processing system is necessary to get the funds from the guest’s card into your hotel’s bank account. Payment processors like Profitroom, Mews Payments, and Adyen charge a small processing fee, but they make getting paid as seamless as possible. 7. Labor management: Hotels have dozens, if not hundreds, of employees, so scheduling is no easy task. Software such as Hotel Effectiveness’ PerfectLabor™, M3, and UniFocus include forecasting, insight into labor costs, and integrations with payroll and timekeeping systems.  8. Meetings and events: Whether your hotel has one private dining room or several floors of ballrooms and breakout spaces, meetings and events software can support every step of the sales and planning process - and the event itself. Highly rated meetings and events software includes Proposales, Event Temple, and Blockbuster by Duetto. 9. F&B and point-of-sale systems: The pandemic accelerated demand for features like contactless menus and online ordering, so there has been a huge wave of innovation in the F&B software space. Vendors like RoomOrders, Bbot, and Oracle’s MICROS can help restaurants modernize their operations, cut costs, reduce reliance on delivery platforms, and strengthen relationships with customers.   7 Revenue Management Tech Systems that Improve Yield Strategy The goal of revenue management is to sell the right room to the right guest at the right price, and revenue managers leverage a variety of software to achieve their RevPAR goals. 1. Revenue management systems (RMS): The secret weapon of any revenue manager is the RMS; this system analyzes historical data, market supply and demand, and forecasts to recommend the rates most likely to maximize revenue and profitability. You might also hear revenue management software like IDeaS, Duetto’s Gamechanger, or Atomize referred to as “yield management systems” or “pricing engines.” 2. Channel managers: A channel manager is the link between a hotel’s property management system and distribution channels like Booking.com, Expedia, and the GDS. Channel managers such as SiteMinder, Cloudbeds’ myallocator, and D-EDGE’s Smart Channel Manager allow hoteliers to make changes in one system, their PMS, rather than managing rates on each channel individually. 3. Central reservation systems (CRS): Larger hotels or hotels that are part of a chain or group might use a CRS to centralize all bookings, whether they’re made by call center staff, the hotel’s own website, or a third-party channel. The CRS will then send reservations to the PMS for room assignments. Popular CRSs include Pegasus, Windsurfer, and GuestCentric CRS. 4. Rate shopping and market intelligence: A key to revenue management success is selling competitive rates, but how do you know what your competitors are selling? Rate shopping tools, like OTA Insight, Siteminder Insights, and D-EDGE RateScreener, do the heavy lifting for you and present competitor rates and market forecasts in user-friendly dashboards and reports. 5. Parity management: OTAs ask hotels to provide rate parity, meaning selling the same rate across all channels, and, as a hotelier, you don’t want OTAs to sell cheaper rates than your hotel’s website. Parity management tools, like OTA Insight, FornovaDI, and Triptease give hoteliers access to dashboards that monitor rates across all channels in real-time. 6. Business intelligence: Revenue managers love data, but sometimes all that data is too much for Excel to handle. Business intelligence tools offer better solutions for slicing, dicing, and visualising data through dashboards and reports suitable for studying historical performance or predicting the future. Top BI applications include OTA Insight, Scoreboard by Duetto, and ProfitSage. 7. Upselling Software: Driving incremental revenue per guest is possible with upselling tools that automate the entire process - and use profile data and historical trends to serve the most compelling, personalized offers to each guest, like room upgrades or F&B items. Tools like Oaky, EasyWay Smart Upselling, and GuestJoy also enable hoteliers to start the upselling process before the guest arrives on property.   9 Guest Experience Platforms to Improve Satisfaction Scores How do you create a five-star guest experience in the digital age? A plethora of systems exist to delight guests, from contactless check-in solutions to modern in-room entertainment. 1. Guest messaging: Messaging platforms allow hotels to communicate with guests via their preferred platform: text messaging, email, or even apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Top-rated systems like Monscierge, Whistle, and EasyWay support automated messaging and one central dashboard where staff can respond. 2. Keyless entry: Keyless entry software enables a guest to unlock their room or other secure areas like gyms or pools with a wave of their smartphone. Systems like Mobile Access by ASSA ABLOY, FLEXIPASS, and Openkey.co offer integrations with PMSs for a seamless arrival experience. 3. Guest apps: Digitize your in-room directory with a hotel app like ALICE, INTELITY, or Duve. These downloadable apps put everything guests need to know at their fingertips, from contact info and directions to room service menus and local recommendations.  4. Contactless check-in: In the wake of the pandemic, guests prefer a contactless arrival process, and software like EasyWay, Canary, and Duve make it easy for hotels to pivot to a fully digital check-in. Functionality includes ID scanning, digital registration cards, upselling, payment processing, and arrival time coordination. 5. In-room tablets: Just like the smartphone replaced our digital cameras and rolodexes, an in-room tablet can replace your rooms’ telephones, directories, room service menus, TV remotes, thermostats, and more. Tablet providers like SuitePad, Crave Interactive, and INTELITY are even proven to increase guest satisfaction and revenue. 6. Energy management: These systems have two goals: decrease your hotel’s energy costs and reduce your hotel’s environmental impact. Vendors like Verdant Energy Management Solutions, Telkonet, and EcoStruxure are designed with hotels in mind and seek to not only decrease costs, but also enhance the guest experience. 7. Guest room entertainment: Today’s guests want more than local cable channels on their guestroom TVs; systems like Monscierge ZAFIRO IPTV, and Sonifi provide interactive content and entertainment for all types of hotels, plus additional marketing and engagement opportunities you couldn’t get with traditional TV. 8. Mobile ordering/F&B: Bbot, RoomOrders, SABA F&B Ordering, and other systems provide an essential piece of technology for hotels and restaurants: mobile ordering. With this software, guests and customers can access menus, place orders, and pay from their smartphones, and F&B outlets can better manage order fulfillment and deliver an end-to-end contactless experience. 9. Hotel Wi-Fi: What was once a premium add-on is now an essential amenity at hotels, especially with a growing segment of travelers working remotely. To offer reliable high-speed internet access, hotels can partner with vendors like Cisco (Meraki), Percipia, or GuestTek that offer implementation services and ongoing support.   9 Marketing Tools to Lower Acquisition Costs and Drive Direct Bookings Of course, you don’t need any of the software listed above if nobody knows about your hotel! Marketing software allows you to tap into new audiences of guests and build relationships with your existing guest base. 1. Booking engines: For hoteliers seeking to increase direct business, a booking engine is essential. This software allows guests to book reservations on your hotel’s website by displaying rates and availability from your PMS, then integrating reservations into the PMS. Cloudbeds, Bookassist, and SiteMinder offer some of the best booking engines.  2. Reputation management: A reputation management tool helps you request, track, analyze, and respond to guest reviews across sites like Tripadvisor and Google and your own surveys. Some of the industry leaders are TrustYou, GuestRevu, and Revinate, and they can even assist in increasing guest review scores by revealing insights about guest sentiment. 3. Website builders and content management systems (CMS): Outsourcing your website design isn’t necessary with a CMS; these tools allow you to build, edit, and organize website pages and content, and they support integrations with booking engines, payment processors, widgets and more. Smart CMS by Bookassist, Profitroom, and Net Affinity are some of the top website builders. 4. Direct booking tools: If you want to increase direct bookings, then an app like Triptease, Hotelchamp, or TrustYou can boost the number of shoppers who complete bookings on your hotel’s website. These tools let you display personalized messages, snippets of guest reviews, price comparison widgets, and more - all of which give guests reasons to book direct instead of on an OTA. 5. Digital marketing agencies: Don’t have the time or resources to handle digital marketing in-house? A digital marketing agency can lend their expertise to help your hotel succeed in search engine marketing, social media, content creation, and PR. Bookassist, Avvio, and Net Affinity are some of the leaders in this space. 6. Social media tools: Whether you’re trying to build a new audience or stay in touch with past guests, social media is an important component of your hotel’s marketing strategy. Social media vendors like BCV, Sprout Social, and Travel Media Group can help you achieve your reach and engagement goals. 7. Metasearch and ad tech: Metasearch channels, like Google, Kayak, and Tripadvisor, are powerful drivers of traffic to your hotel website - if you leverage them effectively. These sites require special connectivity and a bidding strategy, and tools like Bookassist, Avvio, and Koddi will help you manage budgets, track attribution, and understand market dynamics. 8. Website live chat/chatbots: Potential guests shopping on your website want answers now - without needing to pick up the phone. A chatbot, like one from Asksuite, Quicktext, or Whistle, use artificial intelligence to answer guest questions quickly and accurately, plus capture leads and increase conversion on your website. 9. Hotel CRM: Your database of guest email addresses is a gold mine - if you can leverage it strategically. A CRM system, such as Revinate, Profitroom, and dailypoint 360, allows you to capture email addresses on your website, send automated messages throughout the guest’s journey, create segments of profiles with specific characteristics, and analyze open rates, click-through rates, and conversion.   F&B and MICE The food and beverage and meetings and events components of the hotel industry have their own technology solutions too. Whether you’re trying to streamline your room service offerings or support citywide conferences in a maze of meeting spaces, you can find software to help you execute any type of service or event. 1. Restaurant management: In order to run a restaurant smoothly, restaurateurs leverage point-of-sale software to manage stock in real-time, handle transactions, reserve tables, run reports, and more. Popular restaurant management software includes Vento ePOS, Oracle MICROS, and Lightspeed POS. 2. Mobile ordering and room service: Contactless service is the latest trend in F&B, but it seems likely to become the norm. Mobile ordering systems, such as Bbot, RoomOrders, and SABA F&B Ordering, allow restaurants to upload digital menus, accept online orders, and receive contactless payments, and customers can feel confident in more efficient service and accurate orders and bills. 3. Meetings and events intelligence: This category of software aims to help hoteliers maximize their meetings and events business by understanding market dynamics, uncovering insights about attendees, and optimizing pricing and space usage. Top meetings and events intelligence tools include Blockbuster by Duetto, IDeaS (SmartSpace), and Get Into More. 4. Group sourcing and RFP tools: Without software to assist, the RFP process is tedious. RFP software, such as Proposales, MeetingPackage, and Venuesuite, moves this process online and helps you to automate it, making all the back-and-forth more efficient and helping sales teams reach their goals. 5. Event management: Software doesn’t just help your sales team seal the deal, but also to plan and execute the event itself. Event Temple, Tripleseat, EVENTMACHINE, and others provide functionality to send proposals, get e-signatures, manage traces, communicate with clients, and create and edit BEOs and agendas.   Looking for more resources on hotel industry software? Download the free 2021 HotelTechIndex Market Leaders Report.