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HITEC Dallas Report: 50+ Hospitality Technology Innovations You Need to Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

When hotels began to reopen with skeleton crews mid-way through the pandemic, the broader industry started to think about hospitality technology as the key driver to running stronger businesses despite weaker resource availability. Hotel Tech Report traffic data illustrates that despite a sidelined hospitality workforce - there is more interest in hotel technology than ever before.  HTR recently publicized platform data showing 270% growth from March 2020 to 140k+ monthly hoteliers in May of 2021 (14-months into the pandemic). Vendors are innovating in lockstep with hotelier demand for new technology.  Last week our team headed to the first HITEC event since 2019 to scout the latest innovations and save you time staying up to date with recent hotel tech product launches.  This article is packed with the latest tools being developed by top tech firms to help you optimize and grow your hotel business. While researching for this article, our team reviewed 96 different product/feature launches to curate the list below based on the most exciting innovations in the market and then synthesized the top 50 innovations into six key trends. Please reach out via live chat if we've missed a critical innovation or trend! WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECAP: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover Mobile checkin is the new black Guest data management is in the spotlight Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers   Trend #1: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues If you ask any restaurant, retail shop or hotel owner these days 'how's it going?', their first response will likely be to tell you how difficult it is to find and retain talent.  The mass service industry layoffs and furlows at the beginning pandemic coupled with the elogated impact on the global travel industry from the Delta variant caused a mass labor exodus from the hospitality industry.  While city centers continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic, many drive market destinations in many geographies are booming so much so that some have even surpassed pre-pandemic REVPAR levels such as the California wine country and are struggling to staff back up.  Whether you're in a booming drive market destination and need labor now, or you will need it when city centers begin to recover--the labor struggle is real and tech companies have their sights set on coming to the rescue by launching new products and features to help do everything from retain your talent more effectively to manage your property with fewer staff. M3 Launches labor.  Designed for hoteliers on the go, M3’s Labor Management app, M3 Labor, allows hospitality professionals to quickly access their hotels’ labor information and adapt in real time to the labor needs of their properties. Not only do employees get up-to-date visibility of their schedules and work histories, but property managers also have access to labor variances and managing employee time details, all available in the palm of their hand. UniFocus ShiftGenius.  ShiftGenius is a unique scheduling and shift filling feature that introduces flexibility and control for employees and covers the needs of the business. Operators find coverage faster and know that the RIGHT people are filling the shifts. Hotel Effectiveness launches CoverageFinder™: Hotels are experiencing a “coverage crisis” - they cannot find the labor to address the needs of the hotel, the guests, or the team. CoverageFinder makes it easy to identify available labor from within the cross-trained hotel team, the portfolio’s “sister” hotels, and contract staffing firms. Turnover is a massive problem. The Risk Retention Dashboard identifies which associates in each department are at risk of leaving and recommends specific actions that managers can take to prevent turnover and avoid the costly impact of a lost team member. HelloShift launches a housekeeping app. Housekeeping Management app is a quick and efficient way to see at a glance the status of all of the housekeeping tasks at your hotel or property. In one view, know which rooms have been assigned and prioritized, and which rooms still need to be assigned. The quick and simple drag and drop functionality and the ability to bulk reassign rooms make housekeeping management problems a thing of the past!   Harri launches Carri Chat & Apply.  Carri is an AI-powered chatbot built to assist hiring managers in screening, accessing, and coordinating interviews with viable candidates. Carri transforms traditional job applications into meaningful conversations to engage candidates and improve talent acquisition efforts. eTip launches digital tipping product.  eTip helps hotels to better attract, retain, and motivate staff with an app-less tipping and review platform. With eTip, staff receive an increase in compensation and a boost in morale, guests enjoy better service, and managers can act on guest feedback in real time. Beekeeper launches housekeeping app.  Beekeeper Work is an intuitive app that will transform how your team tends to daily Housekeeping operations. Team members on their feet can get things done with a simple tap of their finger. No training. No I.T. set up. No corporate approvals. Just easy technology rolled out in days. And it’s available in every language too so no one gets left behind.   Trend #2: The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover While the pandemic will certainly not be looked back upon fondly, some good undoubtedly has come of it.  While there are so many areas that human interaction can add value in the guest experience, there are also so many areas that manual processes, wait times and antiquated systems have plagued the guest experience for decades and the pandemic gave the industry the nudge that it so desperately needed.  Whether that's digitizing compendiums to reduce paper waste and create interactive experiences that generate revenue, ridiculously seamless contactless grab and go stations to meet guest needs in real time or in-stay sentiment analysis to identify and recover from service glitches on the spot--vendors continue to rollout new features and tools to help you leverage technology to become one of your hotel's greatest assets when it comes to delivering a unique and differentiated guest experience. Whistle Digital Guest Book.  Whistle introduces a configurable digital guest compendium for a completely contactless experience. Hotels can now offer a rich portal and directory of information, which guests can access through messaging. Impulsify Contactless grab and go.  Impulsify announces the arrival of their completely contactless grab-and-go kiosk for lobby retail transactions. Their ShopPoP kiosk now provides a QR code to give users the option of going "Touchless" when purchasing items at their increasingly popular self-service pay stations used by the hospitality and multifamily industries. Flexkeeping Automated Daily Hotel Report.  The Automated Daily Hotel Report by Flexkeeping contains all critical information hoteliers need to know to ensure that their team is meeting their set standards. The report provides data on every department - from room service, housekeeping, and maintenance performance all the way over to guest complaints and service slips. EasyWay launches Guest Sentiment Powered by OpenAI.  EasyWay AI is now able to automatically detect guest sentiment and act accordingly. For example, if EasyWay AI identifies that a guest is happy and is a potential brand ambassador, it will automatically send them a survey on TripAdvisor, and ask them to share their amazing experiences on social media. GoMoment launches Ivy Offer.  Ivy Offer lets hoteliers extend unbeatable offers such as extended stay, late checkouts, and food & beverage offers to their guests via text messages. These offers are conversational, personalized, targetted and appropriately timed (when guests tell us they are enjoying their stay, we offer them the chance to stay an extra night at a 20% discount), resulting in repeat, incremental profit. Guests read 98% of Ivy Offer messages within 3 minutes (based on client data). Niio and Samsung debut digital art stream for public spaces. Samsung and Niio art are partnering to bring easy access to digital art on-demand to Samsung Profesional Displays to transform any screen into an engaging digital art canvas. With access to thousands of digital artworks from the world’s best artists, Samsung clients can seamlessly display individual works of their choosing or play art streams curated by mood and style, 24x7 to one or multiple sites. Turnkey solution without requiring additional hardware or rights management. Bookingwhizz Automated Guest Journey with Whatsapp. The CRM module connects directly with the PMS and/or channel manager, automates guest notifications and promotions from predesigned campaigns. The hotel or group can schedule these notifications based on their business needs. SensorFlow launches SmartREM (Smart Room Energy Management Solution).  When guests leave the room empty with the HVAC running, SensorFlow's occupancy sensors and smart thermostats communicate this data to the gateway. The gateway then uses AI to react to the real-time occupancy data and automatically switches off the HVAC or adjusts it to a more energy-efficient setting to save energy, without needing any manual intervention from hotel staff. If guests leave the room with the HVAC running and the pool/balcony doors or windows are open, the HVAC is then automatically adjusted to ensure proper ventilation and prevent condensation issues while saving energy. When SensorFlow's sensors detect that guests have returned, our gateway then automatically resets the HVAC to the guests' previous settings. VenueLytics launches 24/7 AI Smart Concierge.  VenueLytics provides industries first fully integrated 24/7 AI Smart Concierge to automate contactless guest engagement, housekeeping, maintenance and other guest requests across WiFi, WhatsApp, SMS, WebBot and Facebook Messengers. Hotelinking launches WiFiBot.  Hotelinking developed a system called WiFiBot that automatically solves the Internet connection problems using IoT (Internet Of Things) technology and without the need for staff or a technician to intervene.  This solution proactively monitors any device connected to the network regardless of the vendor to detect performance issues, and continuously evaluates components to maintain and optimise their availability to avoid downtime or network failures. Moreover, it analyses all relevant information related to the use of WiFi by guests and its proper functioning and performance.   Trend #3: Mobile check-in is the new black If you are an HTR regular then you probably know what we think about hotel brands building their own tech, but to give some credit where credit is due back in 2015 Starwood identified the potential of mobile checkin and invested heavily in it because they saw what was coming.  If we can checkin for a flight on our phone, why can't we checkin for our hotel rooms? The reality is that mobile check-in is another area that has boomed during the pandemic with contactless everything as the new normal.  As hardware comes down in cost and mobile checkin goes mainstream, vendors are sprouting up left, right and center creating new opportunities for hoteliers to offer mobile checkin solutions empowering saavy hoteliers to be more prepared for guest arrival, reduce front desk wait times, go contactless and even get some new checkin tricks up their sleeves with digital signatures, payment authorizations, upsells and more. Maestro launches mobile check-in.  Allows Maestro customers to enable guests to check-in on the fly, on their own personal mobile device, with no 3rd party app download required, creating a self-serve environment from their own device. GTRIIP Launches Selfie Check-in.  GTRIIP processes hotel check-ins using our OCR engine to read international passports and local photo IDs. We use our face verification engine powered by computer vision to match the face (with a selfie) against the photo ID. This check-in process can be completed on the web. Onres launches mobile check-in.  Enables Onres customers to increase incremental revenue by up to 30% with Contactless [Early] Check-in and Late Check-out, Upgrade your Room, and Add Add-ons. RoomKey PMS launches mobile check-in. 100% digital paperwork built into the RoomKey PMS from mobile check-in through check-out.  Automated payment and room release to better inventory management CODE2ORDER launches COVID-19 Vaccination Pass & Test-Certificate.  Hotel guests can upload their vaccination pass or test certificate during the online check-in at hotels or during their stay at the hotel (required for hotel stays in Germany). The upload can be easily done by using their own Smartphone without further app downloads. Hotels can check the uploads in the CODE2ORDER Backend.   Trend #4: Guest data management is in the spotlight Whether you look at Tiktok in social, Visa in payments or Netflix in entertainment--its clear that companies who have harnessed the power of unique customer data have realized massive profits.  The strange thing is that the hotel industry sits on a treasure trove of travel spend and guest preference data yet most hotels have still only scratched the suface of what they can do with this data because ultimately you need the right tools, structure and processes to actually act on it.  The good news is that if anybody knows just how valuable and powerful data can be its tech companies, and they're gearing up to help you harness one of your company's most valuable assets.  Hapi launches Hapi Connect for Salesforce.  Hapi Connect integrates hotel companies' data into Salesforce Cloud environments in real-time, helping hoteliers to innovate using the world’s leading CRM. Hapi Connect for Salesforce allows companies to centralize data and tailor each step of the guest journey, driving loyalty and increasing conversion. Oracle Hospitality Integrations Platform.  The Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform (OHIP) offers hotel operators and integrators unprecedented access to all of the capabilities that OPERA Cloud has to offer. By making available over 3 thousand REST APIs and a full self-service experience end to end, operators and integrators can now design, build and release their integrations in matters of days rather than weeks or months thus accelerating time to market and reducing costs. Bookboost launches CRM.  Guest messaging platform Bookboost also extended it's product to offer guest segmentation and email marketing. Manage your first-party customer data to track interactions to create personalised guest messages. Utilise a single system to manage guest engagement and build strong relationships. Clairvoyix Launches Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud.  The Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud brings fully integrated transient sales and marketing automation to Oracle Hospitality customers. Utilzing the Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform, Opera in the Cloud customers can immediately start direct marketing to valuable past guests as past guest data is automatically transferred to the Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution. Guestjoy launches repeat customers.  Guestjoy launched a hotel CRM system for marketing managers in smaller hotels that helps them to build a customer database who is interested in getting special campaigns and offers. The tools they are using only allow them to set up a newsletter without knowing the background of a customer. Duve Guest Segments. Duve's Guest Segments allow hoteliers to send different messages to different guests, based on their profile and data you’ve collected from them. This includes reservation details, personal information, and more.  With Guest Segments, hotels can use both pre-scheduled or instant messaging to create a message to specific guests and provide an improved guest experience. Datavision DVGuest Analytics.  Datavision is adding powerful guest analytics features to our comprehensive business intelligence platform. Guest data is extracted and combined from a single source (PMS) or a variety of additional sources (Spa, Golf, Dining, CRM, etc.) supporting a 360-degree views of guest value, spend patterns and stay behavior. LaaSie launches Helix. Laasie has extended its core Reward Marketplace technology beyond the hotel website and booking engine, to bring personalized rewards to email campaigns. Each recipient of the campaign receives a uniquely personalized reward offer that resonates with his/her interests, demographics, and purchase behavior. iReckonU launches IKnowU Customer Data Platform. The IKnowU Customer Data Platform emerges as Ireckonu’s latest way to leverage its proven CORE Middleware. Synchronizing with your various PMS, CRS and other service delivery systems, IKnowU will become your system of record for clean, consolidated guest profiles. IKnowU’s powerful features include match & merge, identity and privacy management, subscription enrollment, communication control, behavioral and event data, and AI-assisted segmentation. It can also bring in third-party data. Simplotel Guest Connect.  Simplotel Guest Connect helps hotels convert their website content (promotions, and offers) into an email template with a single-click. Also, with a property management system integration, hotels can send mails and upsells to guests who book through any channel.   Trend #5: Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency The term commercial refers to the concept that while historically there have been silod departments within hotel companies like revenue management or marketing, these walls are quickly being broken down as departments become more deeply entertwined.  The catalyst for this evolution in decades old operating model has undoubtedly been technology and the transparency, access to information and interconnectedness that it has unlocked.  This is not the first time breaking down departmental silos to emphasize a more hollistic commercial strategy has been a key theme of one of HTR's innovation recaps and it certainly won't be the last.  Impala Contracting.  Say hello to fast and easy hotel direct contracting. Whether it’s signing new deals or managing existing ones, Contracting by Impala enables direct contracts between hotels and tour operators, agencies or corporate travel platforms. We take away the costly integrations and lengthy negotiation cycles to negotiate deals in days, not months. List your hotel for free IDeaS Profit Optimization.  Profit Optimization for IDeaS G3 RMS considers any combination of servicing costs, ancillary revenue and associated margins, and acquisition or channel costs. This approach enables hotels, resorts, casinos, and more to get the most profitable guests into their property, while maximizing other inventory beyond the guest room, such as restaurants, bars, retail, and activities. HotelIQ Decision Cloud.  With the new HotelIQ Decision Cloud, hoteliers can organize data, analyze it, plan next steps, and collaborate with their team and across their organization. In doing so, we aim to give hoteliers the lenses they need to pull insights from complex data sets and make more intelligent decisions. RateGain launches Demand.ai. RateGain launched an AI powered demand forecasting tool, that helps hoteliers and other travel companies track hyper-local demand and the underlying factors impacting demand – thereby helping them optimize their commercial strategy. Event Temple Launches Chain Management Dashboard.  Event Temple’s Chain Management Dashboard is an above property sales enablement tool for chains and multi-property management groups. Organizations now have a hub to view bookings, leads, accounts, contacts, reports, and manage sales across multiple properties. Pace launches Restrictions Management. Take control of your business mix. Use restrictions to control your business mix. Pace will suggest when to close out corporate rates and maximise revenue from your transient business. Avvio launches allora ai Hotel Booking Retention Engine.  Avvio developed a Hotel Booking Retention Engine that sits within the allora.ai booking engine to counteract the rise in hotel room cancellations. They did this by identifying at risk bookings, and alerting hoteliers in an actionable format, so that measures can be taken to protect bookings.  allora.ai’s Hotel Booking Retention Engine uses machine learning and data science to assess cancelation risk for every individual booking on the books. MeetingPackage launches group pricing module.  MeetingPackage offers venues to sell in a transactional way via their own channels and through distribution. Venues are able to manage pricing of Meetings & Events services flexibly from one centralised place to all distribution channels. For example, minimum spend requirement, meeting package price per delegate or meeting room price per hour, half-day, full-day. Including seasonal prices and corporate negotiated rates. ProfitSword enhanced currency conversion functionality.  ProfitSword has updated the application to support viewing reports in any currency desired. As part of this update, we allow multiple exchange rates to be defined for any currency pair, depending on your reporting needs. The firm added flexibility to reports allowing a user to choose an exchange rate based on the data being reported eg; balance sheet data converted with a month end exchange rate, accounting data with month average, and budget with an annual exchange rate all in the same report. InnRoad launches new Pace and Pickup reports.  innRoad's new Pace & Pick Up Reports are designed to give users easy access to their property's performance with the click of a button. Users can compare their performance over time and see if they are above or below on their occupancy, revenue, and rooms sold. Avalon Analytics launched automated PowerPoint presentations. One of the pain points of a revenue manager is the time spent preparing for weekly and monthly meetings. This remains true at hotel-level and above-property level, where you may need to prepare a market performance review for senior executives, ranging from VPs Operations to Owners. Generate 20+ PowerPoint slides for your weekly revenue meetings and month-end owner meetings within minutes. Avalon allows you to load entire presentations that are always up-to-date and ready to be delivered to your inbox.     D-EDGE Launches MediaGenius. D-EDGE provides hoteliers with an all-in-one platform to manage and monitor digital media campaigns: search, metasearch, display, and social media. With MediaGenius, hoteliers can easily follow the evolution of income and bookings generated via AdWords, analyze their campaigns’ performance, and fine-tune their strategy. The Hotels Network Launches Bench Direct. BenchDirect by The Hotels Network is an interactive analytics platform for hotels to benchmark their direct channel performance compared to the market and competition. The tool provides hotels with competitive insights across more than 30 key metrics specifically related to direct bookings. VoucherCart launches enterprise. VoucherCart Enterprise is a SaaS software product used by international and national hospitality operators with responsibility for marketing, sales, and revenue across multiple business units/member organisations. It enables them to promote and sell vouchers, gift cards, memberships, and tickets (pre-paid instant delivery) associated with their products and services and manage these centrally across all member organisations allowing cross-organisational redeem and usage, while also supporting voucher management and sale at member organisation level. Hotel Res Bot Launches AI Channel Manager. Many distribution partners such as Secret Escapes don't have interfaces to transfer bookings automatically, which means they simply send an email and reservation staff must manually enter these bookings into the PMS. The HERA AI Channel Manager reads those incoming emails and automatically pushes them to your PMS directly or via your CRS or traditional Channel Manager. Trend #6: Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers If you follow the tech world, you know that payments are big money.  You don't have to look far to see a massive head turning round like Stripe's $600M Series H (who even knew series H was a thing...), Affirm's market debut 100% pop or Plaid's (almost) $5B+ merger with Visa that was later blocked by regulators.  Other than being the lifeblood of every business on the planet, payments infrastructure is so immensely valuable because its extremely challenging to develop and maintain compliance.  While there are tons of payments solutions out there, there are few that have truly built out domain specific offerings specifically for the hotel industry to meet its unique challenges (and opportunities) and hotel tech companies are spotting the opportunity. Cloudbeds Payments. Hotel payment processing has been complicated for too long. Cloudbeds Payments provides easy, transparent and contactless payment processing that is fully integrated into the Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform, saving your property time and money. Bbot Tab Sync. Keep guests happy and servers relaxed with Bbot Tab Sync, a seamless addition to the Bbot Order + Pay solution. Plus, activating Tab Sync for in-venue and in-room dining guests gets you exclusive access to our BOGO deal on handheld devices! Adyen partners with Shiji to simplify hospitality payments.  This new integration simplifies the payment process for hospitality businesses by removing the need for a list of platforms and suppliers which usually includes separate processes for property management systems, food and beverage point of sale, and guest experience platforms not to mention the different payments service providers for each. SmartHOTEL launches SmartCONNECT for Payment. SmartCONNECT for Payment ensures that hotel guests’ payments can be made quickly, securely, and hospitably. With the click of a button, payments for online and offline bookings are automatically billed by the payment service provider of choice and processed directly on the guest folio of the hotel’s Property Management System (PMS). dailypoint™ Launches Payment Link. The dailypoint™ Payment link is part of the Booking Manager. It allows hoteliers to automate payments and process them securely according to PCI and PSD2 regulations. Implementing the payment link relieves the reservations department and minimizes the risk of fraud since no more credit card data is being processed directly or stored at the hotel. RoomOrders Launches Digital Tourist Hubs.  The RoomOrders digital tourist hub is an ordering and payment network of hospitality providers (hotels and resorts connected to surrounding vendors in a revenue-sharing model) to protect from accommodation giants like Booking dot com and AirBnB and restaurants from delivery giants like UberEats and GrubHub as well as excursion and tours agencies like Expedia and TripAdvisor.

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month 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.

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4 Hotel Tech Tools for the Post-Pandemic Travel Surge

by
Sandra Holland
1 month ago

It’s no secret that the travel industry was one of the most prominent industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the U.S Association of Travel reported that the United States lost around $500 billion in travel spend, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization reported international tourism plummeting between 20%-30% in 2020. But it’s not only airlines within the industry who suffered.  Hoteliers too, have felt the devastating effects on their bottom line. With more than one third of hotels claiming bankruptcy in 2020 and 77% laying off critical workers, McKinsey and Company declared hotels “among the hardest hit” during the pandemic.  2020 was undeniably a tumultuous time for hoteliers, however, with vaccines rolling out and safety measures improving around the globe, the future for hospitality looks more bright than bleak. In fact, it was predicted by Statista that “as a result of increasingly affordable flight rates and cheaper oil prices, passenger and cargo air traffic are estimated to grow substantially through 2039.” What’s more, McKinsey and Company predicted revenue per available hotel room (RevPAR) returning to very near pre-crisis levels in 2022. With a more than devastating past few years, the coming months will remain pivotal time for hotels to harness in order to prepare for a surge in travel and return to a thriving business. In that case and in order to prepare you for an influx of guests with new preferences, we’re sharing our top tools to consider, in a post-Covid world, so you can maintain efficiency and build customer satisfaction.   4 Tools to Consider For The Post-Pandemic Era Over the course of 2020, the number of customers opting for technology to combat face to face communication, increased radically. Social media grew as a customer service channel, check-in and check-outs became streamlined through online portals and QR codes created a safe and effective way for customers to place orders.  During the pandemic, technology wasn’t a nice to have, but rather a necessity in order to communicate and win customers. McKinsey even reported that the “responses to COVID-19 sped the adoption of digital technologies by several years—and that many of these changes could be here for the long haul.” In addition, according to Gursoy’s, COVID-19 Study 2 Report: Restaurant and Hotel Industry, the majority of hotel customers (70.42%) believe that the use of various technologies in service delivery is necessary in the COVID-19 environment in order to minimize human-to-human contact. Some examples include; service robots, digital menus that can be viewed on personal mobile devices via QR codes, contactless digital payments, keyless entry, touchless elevators, etc. For hotels, the next year will be a critical time to set a foundation of service and enhanced experience in order to win loyalty. In this next section, to support your hotel endeavours with the influx of customers, we’ll take a look at technology-based tools to help meet customer needs and streamline operations for maximum efficiency. Safety Satisfaction Measurement According to McKinsey and Company, when asked “what it would take to get [travelers] to travel again, most stated additional health and safety measures.” Post-pandemic, an integral part of improving satisfaction and maintaining hotel operations, will be the need for improved safety measures. This means, following regulations, taking extra precaution and then measuring guest satisfaction to see how you’ve performed. Measurement will be a key factor here, as you can understand critical touch points like room cleanliness, satisfaction with contactless check-in, ease of check-in with rapid tests, room service and more, to continuously improve the experience. Self-Service Options Even before the pandemic, people around the world were shifting towards a more digital approach to business interaction. The pandemic, in this instance, simply accelerated that pace, pressuring businesses to consider innovative ways to incorporate technology. For hotels, self service options will be paramount in a thriving customer experience. Whether it be in the form of a chatbot on your website answering frequently asked questions, a portal on your website for check in and check out, or an OnDemand ordering system for room service. By having self-service options in place, you reduce employee error and meet customers where they are for a streamlined journey.  Consolidated Messaging  As a result of shifting to digital capabilities, McKinsey also noted the acceleration of digitized customer interactions. A whopping 3 years ahead of its time, customers have quickly adopted contactless communication channels like guest messaging via text, Facebook Messenger, email, WhatsApp and more, in order to adhere to new regulations and increase the feeling of safety.  With these new preferences, a digital inbox, or messaging platform with a centralized inbox will become imperative to meet the influx of digital channels. It’s important to note that we are specifically referring to an inbox that can retrieve a number of different channel types in one consolidated inbox. This will make responding easy and efficient for employees, as toggling through different tabs or windows will become daunting in an era where customers are regularly channel hopping.  Task and Ticketing Software In addition to customer facing technology, back of house, or operational software will also become an essential tool to ensure all functions are running smoothly and managers are able to keep the experience thriving. For many hotels, ticketing software may already be in place, however for the post-pandemic era, an intuitive software will be essential. Not only does an intuitive ticketing platform provide housekeeping, reception, restaurant staff and more, accountable through real-time tags and mentions, but it also ensures everyone has visibility into tasks to identify time-saving opportunities. In addition, it adheres to contactless preferences. Employees can communicate via staff collaboration software without ever having to meet - lessening the number of interactions and bolstering employee confidence.    Final Thoughts Almost everyone, in some capacity, has been affected by the COVID-19 virus. It was unprecedented and many suffered. Although adopting technologies and being hyper aware of the current situation is key, it’s also very important to be cognisant of guest feelings and unease. For the post-pandemic era, flexibility and understanding should be paramount in the new travel experience. This means taking a new stance on cancellation policies, allowing flexibility with trip modifications, actively listening to your customers, acknowledging frustrations and making a point to do better. Working hand in hand with your biggest advocates, your team, and new guests, you can strengthen your operations and propel your hotel to deliver a memorable post-pandemic guest experience.

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What is MTBF? Mean Time Between Failures in the Real Estate Industry

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Ever get the sense that your maintenance team is reactively making repairs as they pop up rather than proactively preventing those problems during downtime? It can get frustrating -- especially when it affects the guest experience and your hotel’s ability to make money on all available rooms. That’s why the Mean Time Between Failures, or MTBF, is an important maintenance management metric for hotel operators. This failure rate metric gives you a baseline prediction for how long mechanical and electrical systems will function in between repairs. These predictions put shape and structure around your near-term preventative maintenance plans and long-term capital expenditures. In this article, we're going to help you understand the importance of MTBF for efficient and profitable hotel operations. You'll learn what MTBF is, how to calculate MTBF and how to use MTBF in your hotel. We’ll also equip you with two other maintenance and reliability metrics that will reshape how you approach maintenance ops at your hotel!   What’s MTBF (+MTBF Calculation)? MTBF stands for the mean time between failures. It's the average period of time that equipment or electronic systems operate between failures. You can think of this as “uptime” or “useful time.” In other words, MTBF is a reliability metric!   To calculate MTBF, pull a failures report for a given system and then calculate the amount of time or period of time between each failure. Then, add up the total time between failures and divide by the total number of failures. Here’s an example for an in-room HVAC system:  -Starts February 1st, fails Feb 28th: 28 days -Starts April 1st, fails May 19th: 49 days -Starts May 23rd, fails July 4th: 42 days MTBF = (28+49+42)/3 = 39.67 days Most hotel systems will be calculated in days. For systems that require more precision, it may make sense to shorten the intervals to hours and minutes.  A perfect example of  the benefit of position is your laundry facility. A failure of one of your industrial-sized laundry machines during a peak period could really affect your ability to flip rooms and serve your guests. You could mitigate this risk by closely monitoring the MTBF of your machines to predict when they may need service outside of scheduled maintenance.  One thing to note: MTBF doesn't include the time it takes to make repairs and re-enter service. It’s only the time between when the equipment or electronic system enters service and when it fails. Repair time isn't an important thing to include because you’re really trying to get at the functional uptime and reliability of individual systems.  The MTBF value is an important step to increasing the lifespan of your physical assets through smart building and equipment management - but measurement is only the first step.   How to Use MTBF in Real Estate and Hotel Operations MTBF is an ally in optimizing your hotel’s operations. By monitoring the failure of mechanical and electronic systems, it keeps your preventive maintenance schedule on track, prevents problems from escalating, and extends the useful life of your capital expenditures. Preventative maintenance: MTBF is a key component of data-driven preventative maintenance. Continuing the example above, if you know that your average HVAC failure occurs every 39 days, you can proactively schedule your preventative maintenance and take the room out of service to avoid a negative guest experience. You can also budget internal labor and external resources accordingly so that you are not surprised by “unexpected” expenses that could actually have been predicted by the data. Identifying problematic equipment: MTBF also helps you optimize your operations by identifying areas of concern. If the MTBF of your in-room HVACs dips to 20 days, then that’s a problem! Either something is affecting your mechanical systems or they’re getting old and you need to allocate budget for upgrades. Either way, your profitability will quickly be impacted by overspending on repairs and taking too many rooms out of service.  Safety: Some areas of concern may actually be related to safety. While it's inconvenient to have no air conditioning in a guest room, it could be a safety issue when an elevator fails or a hot water heater breaks. MTBF helps you keep an eye on mission-critical and safety-related equipment. Extending useful life: Since it tracks the operational performance of mechanical and electronic systems, MTBF also helps you extend the useful lifetime value of your investments. The better you are at managing your assets, the stronger your profitability. It’s a simple fact that separates the best hotel operators from the rest.  Evaluating new tech: MTBF is a helpful criteria when choosing systems for your hotel. You should ask vendors for this metric and dick into how they calculated it. Then, talk to other hotels to verify that number. As we all know, equipment may not last as long as vendors predict! Once you have an idea of how long a TV, door lock, POS terminal, or other system lasts, you can plan accordingly.   Can MTBF Be Used for Non-Repairable Items? Great question! The answer is no. MTBF is used for items that can be repaired more than once. For items that must be replaced upon failure, such as light bulbs, we use Mean Time To Failure (MTTF). So if a light bulb fails every 5.6 years, then it's MTTF is 5.6 years. MTTF can be used for all kinds of single-use/non-repairable items across your property to make more precise expense forecasts, which then influence your forecasted capital investments and bottom-line profitability.   Other Maintenance Metrics for Hotels In addition to MTBF and MTTF, there are two other key metrics for managing preventative maintenance and extending the life of your equipment: MTTD is the mean time to detect, or the time that it takes your team to detect an issue once it's occurred. Thankfully, smart devices and connected systems detect issues in real-time, thus pushing MTTD  for certain systems to zero. Even so, you may want to encourage faster detection by tracking MTTD in your preventive maintenance plan, MTTR is the mean time to repair, or the time that it takes you to fix an issue once it's detected. This actually has a very real impact on hotel operations, as having rooms and other equipment out of service affects the guest experience and bottom-line profitability.  As a metric of efficiency and proactivity, your maintenance team should always strive to shorten the mean time to repair.   Getting Started With MTBF The first step is to start tracking failures. Your preventative maintenance software can do this for you or you can use a simple spreadsheet. These logs are essential to monitoring the time between failures; without that information, you can't optimize performance. If your team is not already in the habit of logging equipment issues, make it a priority to train everyone on the new system. They will need to log the time of failure and the time of repair completion so that you can calculate MTTR and MTBF. For non-repairable items, it would just be the time of failure for an accurate calculation of MTTF.   With those metrics, you’ll have much greater control over maintenance costs and repair times, which have a direct line to profitability and capital expenditures!

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What is a CMMS? (+15 Best Vendors of 2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Hotels see a lot of wear and tear. And, when a hotel room is out of commission for maintenance, a property stands to lose a lot in revenue – by one estimate, a hotel loses $17,653 for every day the room is unavailable. Maintenance is a massive part of hotel and real estate operations, but it gets very little attention as compared to other functions of running a hospitality business. As a result, adding CMMS software to your preventive maintenance program can dramatically improve the maintenance operations efficiency and service of your hotel property – and ensure you don’t lose revenue due to an unresolved maintenance issue leading to asset downtime. Here’s what to look for in a work order system, as well as some popular software picks worth checking out.   What is a CMMS System? CMMS Stands for Computerized Maintenance Management System. A CMMS is designed for maintenance tasks at large businesses and is therefore often referred to as an EAM platform (enterprise asset management).  As such, they have features designed to manage maintenance teams and processes across the entire organization from start to finish.  The core value propositions of a CMMS are: (1) optimize operating efficiency through streamlining maintenance activities and (2) decrease maintenance costs through more effective inventory management. A CMMS is, at its core, a SaaS (software) database. In addition to digitizing the work order process described above, the CMMS will also have the capability to track resources and labor availability, register assets, automate the scheduling of preventative maintenance, track inventory, and provide reporting across maintenance categories.  Here's a quick checklist of CMMS features to give you an idea for what this software is capable of: Predictive maintenance: use data to automatically recommend upkeep like an HVAC servicing beyond basic maintenance schedules. Maintenance manager reports: real-time visibility into asset health across a structure or group of structures via easy-to-understand KPIs.  Asset performance and equipment downtime should be easy to understand for anyone in an organization. Maintenance history/track work orders: Logs of all changes or tasks completed related to an assets lifecycle. Maintenance strategy coaching: Most software companies in the CMMS space with with dozens or hundreds of other asset owners and should be able to provide insight into maintenance processes and best practices. In addition to making the maintenance workflow more efficient, CMMS tools provide more reliable uptime – meaning they help your team keep the lights on and the property running smoothly for as long as possible.   Understanding The Basics of Maintenance Software Work order software is a tool that creates, organizes, assigns, and tracks maintenance requests at a hotel property. This type of software is usually cloud-based and can route requests to mobile devices or stations around your property. It’s more efficient and accurate than managing work orders through pen and paper or via email.  Work order systems can do more than just send requests to the right maintenance staff. These tools let you track the status of the work order in real-time, and also provide reports and analytics to show you how well your maintenance management function is performing. Overall, adding work order software to your tech stack allows you to simplify the work order process. Generally, the work order process happens in three phases: creation, completion, and recording. The creation phase begins the work order process. Whether a maintenance task is planned (e.g., checking the hotel’s fire alarm system) or unplanned (e.g., fixing a burst pipe), a manager or staff member must identify the task for it to enter the system. Next, the request is created with added details such as level of priority, the person responsible for completing the task, the location where the maintenance is required, and – most importantly – the deadline. Next, the person assigned to the task (usually an engineer) completes the work requested. This could be as simple as reading a meter, checking a piece of equipment or as complicated as fixing a leak in the hotel pool. Once the maintenance work has been completed, the technician will log it as such in the work order system. A manager will sign off to validate the completion of the task or help find the resources needed if the task is incomplete.  Once the manager signs off on the completed task, the work order gets logged and archived for future reference. This record allows technicians to track on-site issues over time. For instance, if an HVAC system requires regular maintenance, the work order system can tell a technician the last time the system was serviced. Likewise, it can also alert your hotel when it’s time to replace old or worn-out equipment.   15 Best CMMS Vendors for Hotels 2021 The best work order software combines asset management and record-keeping with an efficient ticketing system and powerful reporting. Here are the top ten work order software platforms of 2021.   hotelkit Facility Management As a 2021 HotelTechAward winner, hotelkit is known for its robust communication platform and ease of use. The software supports a slew of hotel operations needs, including work orders, inspections, and walkthroughs. Staff members can submit work orders from their mobile devices, plus upload photos, then the request gets automatically triaged to the right team and tracked for accountability and reporting. For easy end-to-end operations, hotelkit integrates with many property management systems, like protel, Oracle’s OPERA PMS, and Mews. hotelkit offers a 30-day free trial, then the monthly subscription fee is charged on a per-room basis, making it suitable for hotels of any size.   ALICE Maintenance ALICE’s suite of services includes functionality for all aspects of hotel operations, from guest messaging to maintenance. The Preventative Maintenance module allows staff to submit and assign maintenance requests, track equipment usage or issues, and complete walkthrough checklists - all from their mobile devices. ALICE aims to minimize a hotel’s capital expenditures by making preventative maintenance part of the everyday routine; for example, seeing daily boiler pressure readings or spotting trends in maintenance requests can help you spot early warning signs of a larger facility issue so you can fix the problem before something catastrophic happens. ALICE is available with a monthly subscription fee, and it offers integrations with property management systems like OPERA and StayNTouch.   hub OS Maintenance This all-in-one operations management software supports not only maintenance requests but also housekeeping tasks, guest requests, walkthrough checklists, and reporting. hub OS’ maintenance module allows hoteliers to build and customize entire maintenance plans, with preventative indicators and trend monitoring to assist in spotting potential problems. The app also creates a calendar of scheduled maintenance tasks to comply with brand standards of local regulations, which then automatically generates work orders for the relevant teams. Since the app even works offline, using hub OS is easy anywhere and at any time, and it can use QR codes for quick identification of assets or locations. hub OS supports integrations with many property management systems, such as Mews and protel.   Flexkeeping (Maintenance) Created by a former housekeeper, Flexkeeping knows the ins and outs of hotel operations. Their maintenance management software follows four steps: report, fix, analyze, and prevent. The app allows any staff member to submit a maintenance request with photos and voice-to-text capability, then the appropriate team receives a notification so they can fix the issue as soon as possible. Flexkeeping also supports outsourced maintenance staff, so you don’t need to remember to pick up the phone to call a specialist. All tasks are tracked, and real-time reporting and analytics helps hoteliers spot trends and understand how maintenance issues affect guests and budgets. Hoteliers can try Flexkeeping for free for 30 days; after that, there is an implementation fee and a monthly subscription fee.   Transcendent Transcendent focuses on asset management and preventative maintenance, making it a great tool for hotel owners or asset managers working with multiple properties. Transcendent’s enterprise asset management dashboard tracks asset usage, issues expiration warnings, and houses documentation related to each asset to assist with capex planning and budgeting. The software also includes work order functionality, allowing staff members to submit maintenance requests and follow custom checklists for walkthroughs and inspections. Transcendent’s mobile app is available for iOS and Android, and it can read QR codes for easy access to information or task lists for a specific asset. Transcendent charges a monthly subscription per room, so it works for both small and large properties or hotel groups.   CHAMPS CMMS CHAMPS CMMS includes easy drag-and-drop functionality to help hotel teams schedule and manage maintenance tasks. Mobile compatibility with this cloud-based solution allows teams to work flexibly, providing real-time updates from anywhere on the property. CHAMPS also includes asset inventory and purchasing capability so that your team can create purchase orders for new materials or equipment.   Maxpanda CMMS Maxpanda gets high marks from reviewers for being a flexible CMMS solution. Automated scheduling allows teams to set up alerts for recurring maintenance tasks. Create work order requests for any type of maintenance request. Filter reports using different metrics, including job number, start and end date, completion status, or cost.   Hippo CMMS Hippo CMMS is one of the most affordable software options on the market. It’s a relatively straightforward system that allows users to keep track of multiple work orders throughout the work order process. Hippo also provides a function where technicians can attach photos or documents to the order record for future reference.  Limble CMMS  Limble CMMS is an award-winning tool that claims to help customers capture a 30% boost in overall communication and productivity. The app is compatible with iOS and Android and provides features to streamline work orders, improve communication, manage assets and inventory, and generate reports.   Accruent Accruent, formerly known as Maintenance Connection, is one of the top-rated CMMS options for hotels. This tool’s mobile CMMS lets technicians and managers take their management tasks on the go – so anywhere on the property, a work order can be assigned and accepted. Plus, its reporting feature includes over 200 report template types to help your team set benchmarks, monitor work, and identify obstacles in your workflow.   ManagerPlus Managing maintenance at multiple properties? ManagerPlus might be the right option for your hotel. ManagerPlus’s asset management feature allows you to track equipment across multiple locations – so if one property borrows a tool from another, it won’t go missing. This powerful tool also provides a way to manage suppliers and other contractors directly within the software, keeping communications in one place so there’s no confusion or additional back-and-forth over email.   eMaint CMMS eMaint is great for international hotel brands; it offers multilingual support in Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Hungarian, Polish, Italian and English. If you’re working on a large maintenance project, consider taking advantage of this tool’s document storage functionality. eMaint’s online PDF editor stores your work permits, work order records, asset profiles, and more.   Upkeep Reviewers say that Upkeep CMMS is a well-rounded, simple work order management tool. It provides everything you need to streamline maintenance at your hotel: work order creation, management, and racking with automated processes built-in and several different reporting tools. It also allows you to send push notifications and alerts if there’s an urgent maintenance need on-site.   MaintainX MaintainX gives you the chance to try the tool for free, so if you’re not sure if CMMS is right for your hotel, start here. In addition to your standard work order features, MaintainX has a built-in messaging tool that lets you comment, message, and save communication around a particular work order request. You can also upload photos to verify work completion – a nice feature if you don’t have a manager available to check that the job is done.   Fiix Fiix is another CMMS option that offers a free version. Users say that Fiix CMMS makes it easy to track maintenance and work orders, and that it’s easy to see what the status of each task is.  The free version gives you access to the mobile app with some onboarding, asset tagging, and push notifications. It also gives you a calendar and dashboard to track ongoing maintenance.    Learn more about preventative maintenance software and how work order systems can integrate with your hotel’s technology in our guide to preventive maintenance software.

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9 Simple Tips to Becoming a Better Manager in 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

“Love your staff.” That’s the secret to running a successful hotel according to the founder of the iconic One Aldwych in London. It’s great advice and an essential mantra for hospitality, which is a people business at its core and relies heavily on team members coordinating for a higher cause. That mantra is put to the test during downturns, such as the COVID pandemic or the financial crisis of 2008. Faced with uncertainty and economic headwinds, managers must balance the needs of the business with those of its people.  So it's understandable that you may be asking yourself, “How can I be a good manager?” and "what management skills do I need to succeed?" these are important questions and an indication that you're already well on your way to being an effective leader.  Questioning and learning is a key to managerial success in and of itself. Self-awareness and a desire to improve are two valuable traits in any manager. As you focus on improving your leadership skills during challenging times, here are 9 tips for becoming a better manager. 2021 has been incredibly difficult but there is a silver lining: you’ll be a stronger manager, with a whole new set of skills to build on moving forward. As you invest the time in building meaningful relationships with your colleagues, you’ll earn respect and loyalty that’s helpful in both good times and bad. Here are some questions we'll answer in this article: What learning tools and hospitality books are available to new managers? What steps can managers take to facilitate a stress-free work environment? What characteristics do the best managers in the world possess? How to hone decision-making abilities and communication skills Why motivating employees is hard work and how career development is key   1. Be honest and objective Always be honest with your staff! You don't want to sugarcoat things, hide from the truth, or seem aloof, evasive or uncaring. Your staff will see through any BS anyhow, so it’s best to be as honest as possible (without being mean).  At a time when stress and emotions run high, stay objective. It helps keep your head level and your approached even-handed. Dialing too deep into emotions can create an inconsistent experience for individual staff members. That breeds feelings of unfairness and resentment, as individuals feel they’re being treated differently. Avoid that and stay both objective and honest.   During performance reviews, for example, you may be tempted to hold in critical feedback, especially with your favorite colleagues.  Critical feedback helps employees develop new skills and facilitates goal setting that leads to progress in your teams professional lives (and personal lives!).  Effective management and being a team leader is all about communicating the hard news in an empathetic way while being honest and objective.  It's also critical to strategize the right times to communicate - for example, maybe team meetings are a bad place to call out team members for a lack of soft skills.   2. Get out of the office When times are tough, the last thing you want is for staff to think you’re hiding in your office. Get out into the hotel and stay connected with all aspects of the property. You’ll have a better understanding of the current mood and operational needs. This is called “Management By Walking Around (MBWA),” and it keeps you up front and visible with staff. You lead by example and show them that you’re active and engaged, rather than hidden away in the office.  Being visible is also a fantastic way to provide a top-notch guest experience. Greeting guests and being available to address comments or concerns keeps you in tune with their needs -- a personalized approach that encourages glowing reviews and builds your online reputation.  Remember that it’s not enough to just get out of the office: you also must interact with others to really catalyze the benefit, says Mark Hamister, CEO of the Hamister Hospitality Group: “Adding an "I" for Interaction to MBWA enabled us to finally encourage teamwork between management and staff, increase the number of informal problem-solving opportunities on a daily basis, and thereby produce immediate and creative solutions.”   3. Prioritize speed over precision Whether you realize it or not, your team takes cues from your confidence and posture. As their leader, you set the bar. Especially during times of crisis, when circumstances change often, you must be the fearless leader. You don’t have the luxury of rumination. So you must be decisive and prioritize speed over precision. Even if you have to fake it because you are freaking out inside, act fast and with conviction. See next point for a specific tactic that requires a good leader to be decisive.   4. Fire quickly and fairly Even if you have to fire people today, you may want to hire them once the downturn eases and demand returns. The last thing you want to do is leave a poor impression that scuttles employee loyalty. Do right by them, as you may want to bring former employees back rather than trying to find new staff. Furloughs may become temporary as the downturn drags on. And you may even need to fire employees that you recently brought back on. Firing is often the worst part of being a manager.  It's emotionally exhausting and extremely difficult. But don’t delay the inevitable, as making several rounds of smaller layoffs leads to lower morale. To minimize stress of an already difficult situation, fire quickly and fairly. Make an honest appraisal of what you need to do to keep the lights on and then make those decisions quickly. You also want to be fair and as transparent as possible about how these decisions were made. Avoid politics and personal preferences to avoid favoritism or ill-will. And always follow the traits above: Be objective, honest and helpful!   5. Listen, listen, listen! Great leaders are great listeners. They're able to listen, synthesize and act based on what they’ve learned. Listening is the foundation of hospitality, as it builds mutual understanding, meaningful relationships and memorable, experiences, says Gary Gutierrez of HRI Lodging in New Orleans: “For hoteliers, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Running a hotel, like life, is all about how you make people feel.” And it’s not just with guests; sometimes it's just about being a friendly ear for your team. You don't have to be a therapist but you certainly have to be there to listen. Oftentimes, that’s what your team needs most: a sympathetic ear.   6. Be available to your staff Micromanaging is the enemy.  Time management is key and delegating tasks to direct reports will free you up to create a better work environment for other team members.  Succesful managers make it crystal clear that you are a manager with an open door policy. Build trust with your staff by listening to their concerns and doing what you can to address them.  Of course, much of it will be out of your hands. So just listen and empathize.  Be there for your staff and they will have your back. Even in tough times, people know when they are treated fairly and with respect - and that makes a lasting impression.  Sometimes an open-door policy may not be enough to encourage employees to surface issues. Experiment with holding office hours, which are open to anyone and held at the same frequency (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly).  You also should offer anonymous channels of communication. Not everyone is comfortable with face to face conversations. To reduce gossip, prevent abuse and shorten the distance between you and your employees, make an anonymous feedback channel for your staff. Anonymity helps you build trust and address concerns quickly before they get out of control.   7. Embrace creativity, patiently A crisis is an ideal time to experiment and try new things. It pulls you out of the everyday routine and provides an organic opportunity to embrace creativity. Convene your staff and encourage them to brainstorm creative ways to both address the current crisis and build resilience for future ones. One of the corollary benefits to creativity is that it often engages your staff. Most people respond well to being asked to brainstorm ideas and contribute to the success of the organization. By unleashing your the creativity of your staff, you inspire and bring out the best, which also nurturing potential future leaders, says Paul Patiño of the Saguaro Palm Springs:  “The true challenge is being that leader that can move everyone in the same direction together and bring out the best in each person, inspiring them to be better versions than they already are. All great things take time, patience, and lots of love.”   8. Do more with less Hotels everywhere are trying to do more with less. There’s fewer bookings which means fewer staff.  Look for opportunities to economize your operational footprint and be as efficient as possible. If you can find room in the budget, invest in new technology that preserves service standards despite being short-staffed -- and reduces the burden on your small team overloaded with tasks. Roll your sleeves up and show your team but no task is too small. It’s all-hands-on-deck, so step up and lead by example. This behavior will build trust and motivate your staff, as well as create a “we’re all in this together” mindset.   9. Be helpful and humble Great managers aren't just good listeners and clear communicators, they're also helpful and go the extra mile to help their team at all costs. As a trusted resource, you show staff that you care and that it’s ok for them to bring their whole selves to work.  When you fire people, offer to write recommendation letters and do help them in their job search. When you discipline individuals, provide clear performance improvement tips that help them improve. When you walk around the property, be helpful to guests and staff - helpfulness is a form of hospitality, after all! You also must be humble. As someone in a position of authority, it’s easy to think that your position makes you the best person to solve the problem. But that leaves blindspots and leads to employees feeling disengaged at work. That’s not a good recipe for hospitality! To avoid this, leaders don’t just listen but also ask to lead with questions, says Joseph Kirtley, GM at Highgate Hotels: “Leaders often feel that we are supposed to have all the answers. In actuality, being a great leader takes humility, and asking the right questions. Opening yourself to the strengths and knowledge of those around you takes you to another level.” Did we miss any good tips? Let us know via live chat!  

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How Are Hoteliers Adapting to Welcome Travelers Back in 2021?

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months 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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Hotel Groups are Using Operations Software to Adapt & Innovate Through Crisis

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 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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The 9 Most Futuristic High Tech Hotels in the World

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 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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7 Ways Technology Helps Noble House Hotels & Resorts Cope with Volatility

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 months ago

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