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Insights and advice from the HTR team to find the best technology to grow your hotel business

Hotel Staff Collaboration Tools Software Articles

Monscierge: A Review of the Guest Experience Platform

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

In today's competitive hospitality environment, guest-centricity requires more than greeting a guest by name at check-in. Often, the tangled web of technology draped across most hotels prevents hoteliers from achieving flawless guest-centricity. The new breed of tech-enhanced hotels must transform technology from an impediment to an enabler of a guest experience. As most consumers want to message (rather than call) brands, today’s tech must blend self-serve communication tools with high-touch, human-led hospitality. Achieving this transformation requires a hospitality tech stack that meshes well together and eliminates the burden of siloed systems. With reliable and accurate data sharing, the best guest experience software is an invisible interface optimizing the entire guest experience by deepening the digital connection between a hotel staff to its guests. A streamlined staff boosts on-property revenues, as well as both guest and staff satisfaction. “Technology that really makes everyone’s stay at a hotel easier and cheaper is the future.” -Ian Schrager, hospitality legend and founder, Public Hotels From the instant a guest books to when they checkout, this interface infuses the guest experience with connectivity, simplicity and convenience. The software enables a frictionless guest experience that remains consistent across all guest touchpoints — without replacing those uniquely human interactions that define the soul of hospitality. Here’s how.   What Monscierge Does: Convenience for Staff & Guests Building consistent, on-brand, guest-centric experiences is what Monscierge is all about. It's a guest experience management platform that strengthens the connection between hotel staff and guests in three key areas: staff collaboration, multi-channel guest communications, and interactive digital signage. The software suite unifies the guest experience with a single content management system that gives guests direct access to staff and relevant information across the property’s mobile app, website, in-room TV and text messaging. Empowered by mobile, today’s consumers can get exactly what they want, instantly and effortlessly. As a result, they are more curious, demanding, and impatient than ever before. A brand’s ability to leverage data to anticipate their needs will define its ability to grow. -ThinkWithGoogle With a single guest experience vendor, hotels can more easily integrate functions into a primary platform. There's enormous value in that integration, as it streamlines operations by increasing accountability among staff, boosting information visibility and putting more personalization options in the hands of guests. And, with CRM and PMS integration, it autofills relevant data that can help your team do their work faster and more accurately. Monscierge has three core products, Staff Connect, Apple TV for Hotels, and Connect Lobby, which are connected through its proprietary content management system Connect CMS.  Here's what you need to know about the core product set.     Staff Connect: Mobile-first Staff Collaboration Tools Exceptional guest service requires knowing what guests need (guest messaging) and  fulfilling those needs (staff task management). Most solutions do one or the other; Connect Staff does both. It’s the place for two-way communication between staff and guests, as well as the single source of truth for staff collaboration. The staff collaboration tool removes ambiguity with transparent task accountability, so everyone can see who is responsible for each ticket. This clarity keeps staff on top of issues affecting the guest experience and actually increases job satisfaction, as management can use the robust analytics to identify and recognize top performers. The shorter response times and reliable two-way communications directly influences the guest experience —  and thus your hotel's reputation. The essential features of Connect Staff keep your operation on-track, regardless of the experience level of your staff: Smart assignments. Make your staff more productive with automation, one of Hotel Tech Report’s Trends to Watch from WTM 2019. Based on  each property’s criteria, the system automatically assigns, reassigns or escalates tasks based on staff availability, time of day, request type, preset triggers or fulfillment ETA.  Scheduling. Schedule recurring tasks in a calendar view. This keeps your ongoing maintenance program on track. With support for multi-step checklists, each scheduled tasks has clearly delineated expectations with full data recording support for tracking. No matter how new your staff is, they can easily meet brand standards. Photos. To overcome language barriers and build a permanent visual record for each room, staff can add photos to requests. It's much faster to take a picture of the issue than to explain it in words; for staff communication, a picture really is worth a thousand words! Pictures also become proof of guest violations, such as smoking in a non-smoking room.   Apple TV For Hotels: Goodbye Pay-Per-View In the Age of Assistance, consumers expect assistance on whatever device happens to be within reach and the most convenient. Apple TV for Hotels is guest room entertainment technology that puts personalization in the hands of guests. The hub combines communications, content, and information so guests can use the TV as a personal concierge to make requests, watch content, and browse local recommendations. With support for both Live TV and streaming, Apple TV for Hotels also gives guests the control and convenience of home, with a “bring your own content” approach that enables guests to consume content from their favorite streaming apps during their stay — with the confidence that each system is totally reset for the next guest. There’s even the familiar Apple TV remote to make guests feel right at home!      The essential features of Apple TV for hotels give guests a home-like level of control: Convenience. The Apple TV hub supports two-way communication so guests can make instant service requests and track their progress. Guests can also easily find property information, such as amenities and upcoming events, as well as curated local recommendations and in-destination happenings.  Content management. Configurable and brandable, the system supports high-resolution imagery and detailed descriptions to engage guests. All local recommendations and information are easily updated via the Connect CMS; for larger portfolios, where updating information at the property level is a cumbersome and time-consuming process, that alone is a dream!  Scalable architecture. The system is secure, simple to use and easy-to-scale across hotels of any size or category. Hardware and software leasing options reduce upfront implementation costs and puts this sophisticated technology ecosystem in the hands of properties of all sizes. Lease costs can be treated as expenses to keep hardware on the books as a steady operating expense (vs. a large upfront capital expenditure).   Connect Signage: Interactive Digital Signage The final pillar in the platform is Connect Signage, an interactive digital concierge. This digital signage can display menus, print boarding passes, map directions, and highlight local recommendations. Functionality can also be extended via integrations with other systems, so that your property could do things like offering bookable local experiences and tours from each device. It's a perfect blend of concierge-style curation and self-serve convenience — and can be a talking point in your hotel's marketing, adding another point of differentiation to your guest experience.   The top features that make Connect Signage such a powerful tool are: Choose your own devices. The interactive digital concierge can be as prominent as a large walk-up display and as compact as a tablet on the lobby desk. Larger properties can place multiple displays around the property. And yes, this includes conference and event signage which can be configured to each event. Sponsorships. Interactive displays open up new commercial opportunities. It may be promoting on-site amenities, such as spa and food and beverage. Or it may be working with local businesses for sponsored recommendations or large-scale campaigns with larger brands. Advertising and sponsorships are easily managed within the Connect CMS. Social postcards. Entice guests to interact using social postcards, a novel feature for guests to share their experience via email, Facebook or Twitter. You can choose which images to upload and then guests can customize and send. With a little cleverness and creativity, you can create images the resonate and promote your property (and destination!) organically.   Monscierge: Pros and Cons (According to Real Customers) Monscierge is very well known in the digital signage space and has worked closely with Apple's Hospitality division to develop some really unique products.  The firm even secured an exclusive on it's Apple TV for Hospitality product and has worked very closely with large enterprise clients like Accor to build products from very early on meaning that this product set has been battle tested for enterprise but is affordable for independents. Pros: Convenience of the Connect CMS to “update once, broadcast everywhere.”  Since launching Monscierge's Apple TV for Hospitality, “the feedback from guests has been unbelievable.” “Our Monscierge / Apple TV solution stole the show.” The Monscierge Lobby touchscreen is really easy to use and massively popular with guests. The system itself is a real focal point for interaction between our staff and guests. The content is invaluable when helping provide orientation of the surrounding area and points of attraction, especially for overseas guests if English isn't their first language. Cons: For Staff Connect, adoption matters.  Hoteliers have commented on HTR that if your whole team doesn’t use Monscierge, communication can get lost and requests can get dropped. The interfaces “could look a lot simpler” especially “for non technical users should be a little more simple.” For task management, “Ease of access, trackable, alerts when there are outstanding requests.” “Connect Staff - Only way to get a report is by requesting it from Monscierge. We need to be able to run these reports onsite.”   Conclusion:  Should You Consider Monscierge? There’s a direct correlation between financial value and a hotel’s reputation. And a reputation is built over a series of both the digital and analog interactions. Consumers don't differentiate between these types of interactions, and expect a consistent experience throughout. To successfully navigate the guest’s device and channel switching, hotels need an integrated guest experience platform that enables seamless connectivity and communication. Monscierge’s unique blend of solutions can be a brand-defining advantage, especially when contrasted with those that cobble together a guest experience layer from multiple vendors. The centralized Connect CMS makes makes updating information easy, a stress-saving benefit that’s magnified exponentially for multi-property operators and hotel chains. Another advantage: multilingual support that eliminates language barriers  and connects guests to the information they need in their native languages. All that being said, the comprehensive system may be cost-prohibitive for smaller properties without the economies of scale of multi-property operators and larger chains.  to determine if it's the right fit for you, consider the Monscierge reviews and its pricing, use your detailed understanding of your guest profiles to determine if it's the type of solution that would make a significant impact on their guest experience.  

Why Isn't All This Technology Improving Productivity?

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

The past decade has focused heavily on digital media innovations, which “occupy a mindshare that's out of proportion to their overall economic importance” (Vox) but haven't lead to large productivity improvements in the economy. The truth is that, while consumer media companies like TikTok and Snapchat have captured consumer eyeballs (and investor capital), they don’t necessarily increase the productivity of the average worker. In fact, productivity gains have stalled noticeably in the past ten years. In part, this is due to investors’ search for the next unicorn, which usually focused on companies with potential for global monopolies. Investors wanted in on the next big (consumer) thing. Today, however, with just a handful of global companies controlling the lion’s share of consumer attention, achieving scale for B2C has become prohibitively expensive. In pursuit of the next big opportunity, investors are now looking at B2B companies as “the next wave of unicorns.” These companies focus narrowly on industry niches with plenty of room to run as far as leveraging technology to improve margins, streamline operations, and reduce inefficiencies. For hotels looking to buck the historical trend and invest in more technology, this is a welcome evolution. Healthy competition means that hotels don’t have to rely on the same legacy companies they’ve been stuck with for decades. There are now more vendors serving the industry than ever before, which brings prices down and quality up. We’re in a Golden Age of Hospitality Technology, where hoteliers have their choice of intelligent solutions that solve real world problems and increase productivity. One of those problems facing hotels is how to do more with less. In a world of staffing shortages and high turnover, productivity has become a pressing priority. It’s also a competitive advantage; if you can run your hotel more efficiently, and thus more profitably, you’ll have more pricing flexibility and be more resilient in the face of changing market dynamics. Here’s everything you need to know about productivity and its place in today’s hotel industry.    What is Productivity? Productivity is a measure of labor efficiency; it's calculated by comparing the amount of  goods and services produced with the number of hours needed to produce those goods or services. It's an important business metric as productivity gains fall straight to the bottom line; a more efficient staff makes more profit for the company. Some measures of productivity in hospitality are: How long it takes to complete a maintenance request How many rooms each housekeeper cleans How many guests your front desk agent checks-in How much revenue each room makes  How many covers a restaurant server handles How long it takes to fulfill a guest request In each of these cases, optimizing each asset (human or room) boosts productivity (and profitability). And that’s where technology comes in: it’s the ultimate productivity enhancer. To maintain service standards in spite of these staffing challenges, hotels can now implement staff collaboration tools that boost productivity and enhance communication across all departments, These tools, such as the Quore operations platform, give hotels a competitive edge in the competition for talent while also making existing staff happier more productive.   So Why Isn't All This Technology Improving Productivity? Productivity gains have been a feature of the modern economy. As technology filtered its way through the economy, workers were able to do more with less. Businesses benefited from a greater return on their investment and workers faced fewer menial, mechanical tasks. The result was a steady and reliable rise in productivity, powered by the adoption of technology in all aspects of global business.      Elsewhere, global productivity gains have noticeably slowed.  Productivity gains in the industries that employ the most people, such as retail, restaurants and hospitality, have been far less transformational until relatively new innovations like Quore have come onto the scene. As we all know from experience, front-line workers in these industries still work much in the same way as they have for decades. The U.S. economy operates at 18% of its digital potential. The sort of productivity gains that digital technologies should be enabling are not showing up in the broader economy. -McKinsey Digitization Index For the world’s largest industries, such as hospitality, this digital gap has prevented productivity gains from reaching the level of transformation seen in industries such as financial services, media, and professional services - but that is starting to change. Why is that? Reason #1: Work vs Play For one, our productivity calculations don't do a good job of accounting for the differences between digital and physical transformation. Our current wave of innovation hasn’t impacted productivity in ways that electricity or plumbing did. It also doesn’t effectively account for the impact of consumer platforms, such as Snap and TikTok, on how we play versus how we work. As Vox concludes in a well-reported piece on the impact of technology  on productivity, these consumer platforms have captured leisure time without necessarily having a positive impact on productivity elsewhere: “Technology is changing how we play and relax more than it's changing how we work and produce.” We’ve also reached a point where the biggest productivity opportunities have been met by technology: factories are mostly automated and the big transformations are complete. These productivity gains have accrued unevenly, focused mostly in industries where automation transformed the very nature of the work (think factories and fields). Reason #2: Underinvestment in Technology While consumer-facing platforms exploded in value, industries like hotels and restaurants have historically underinvested in technology, limiting potential productivity gains. This lackluster transformation appears in the data: according to Gartner’s Lodging Technology Study, the industry invested only 3.5% of its revenue into information technology (IT) solutions. This underinvestment is partly due to marketplace dynamics, as much of the tech innovation over the past decade was in consumer-facing technologies. This underinvestment creates a “digital gap” that is exacerbated by a lower “degree of digital usage” in the hospitality industry, says McKinsey. The research also found that “digital engagement between companies and their suppliers and customers is five times larger in the leading sectors than in others.” In other words, industries like hospitality just aren’t using digital technologies as effectively as their peers in other industries and aren’t unleashing comparative productivity gains which is why they should consider investing in productivity and hotel operations software like Quore to make their operations more efficient. Reason #3: The Nature of Work Historically, technology has made it easier to get work done by increasing the efficiency of workers worldwide.  Automation enables workers to produce more with fewer inputs, while communication and project management tools make each hour more productive. However, these productivity gains have slowed measurably in the last ten years, with the gains especially anemic in the industries that employ the most people, such as retail, restaurants, and hospitality. The nature of the work affects productivity. These industries often higher lower-skilled workers at lower rates, which makes investing in productivity-enhancing Technologies less appealing. Also the nature of work is manual in ways that make automation difficult.  It's really challenging to have a robot make the bed, for example. In addition, these are customer-facing roles, defined by high-touch human interactions that defy automation.    How To Increase Productivity At Your Hotel Digitization and productivity are closely linked. Over the last 20 years, the top digitally-enabled sectors enjoyed a 2-3x increase in productivity and profit margins over their peers. And those that lag on the digitization front also have lower productivity performance, which is why hotels must act now to increase productivity in the workplace. One of the toughest questions is where to invest first? Between revenue management systems, housekeeping management software, business intelligence tools and a dozen other hospitality technology categories listed on Hotel Tech Report, there are many ways to improve productivity at your hotel. Many hotels start with staff collaboration tools which improve productivity, accuracy, and communication across departments: maintenance techs will prioritize projects more efficiently; housekeeping managers will manage shifts more efficiently; your front desk will deliver better service room cleaning schedules; and your general manager will benefit from actionable reports that benchmark performance over time. Whichever technology you start with, it’s advisable to have a method for establishing a productivity mindset at your hotel. You need to do three things: make productivity a priority, identify bottlenecks and invest in the right tools. Prioritize. It may take some convincing to show management and staff why productivity matters. After all, monitoring productivity can come across as Big Brother. Focus specifically on how it will make work like better for staff while also improving the guest experience. Most workers are frustrated by inefficiencies, so focus on the “why” and win allies.  Identify.  With organizational buy-in, you can now turn to identifying the biggest bottlenecks. Look for two things: issues that directly impact the guest and behind-the-scenes interactions between staff. Eliminating bottlenecks in those two areas will have the highest impact. Once you’ve identified the areas for improvement, align everyone around the right metrics: rooms cleaned per hour, guests served per shift, average guest request response time, ancillary revenue per room  Invest. To avoid further disruption from companies like Sonder and AirBnB, hotels must get better at buying and investing in technology. As you evaluate vendors, refer back to your specific bottlenecks and ask each vendor how their solution helps solve those. Then, invest the time and money in a pilot to trial the most promising solutions. You can then evaluate performance and base your investment decisions off actual data. Hospitality may have traditionally lagged other industries in adopting productivity-related technologies, but things have changed. “Boring” B2B unicorns are finally delivering the greater productivity gains seen in other industries. With a proper approach to evaluate, purchase, and implement software, supported by a modest budget, your hotel will capture the upside of greater productivity: happier guests, more satisfied staff, and more profitable resource allocation.  These efficiency gains simply make your hotel better, across the board. And, as a powerful ally in building productivity-driven profits, these tools help you build a culture of incremental improvements, helping your hotel get just a little better each day. Over time, this means major gains -- and a healthy return on your technology investment.  

How to Leverage Collaboration Tools in Your Hotel Business

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

There’s no silver bullet to fix every issue at your hotel property, but if there were, it might look a lot like a staff collaboration tool. Service optimization depends in large part on managing hotel staff in different parts of the property, at different times, working on different tasks and collaborating on complex projects. Historically, service optimization was a hydra of checklists, manuals, staff training, two-way radios, and memos. Staff collaboration – and, consequently, service optimization – has evolved thanks to software like hotelkit. Our research shows that collaboration software can reduce unnecessary phone calls and ineffective processes – thereby saving hotels up to three minutes per guest request. For every 1,500 guest requests, hotels can save in the ballpark of $1500, or $1/request, simply by implementing service optimization software. Hotelkit and other collaboration tools offset high employee turnover by storing your key SOPs and other documents in the cloud and making them accessible to employees wherever they are in a hotel (or off property). Most importantly, they help your operations team run like a well-oiled machine through seamless communication and task tracking. Service optimization software is now critical for hoteliers seeking to improve operational efficiency, deliver five-star guest experiences, and increase RevPAR. Here’s what you need to know about procuring staff collaboration software.    Why every hotel needs collaboration tools Hotels with staff collaboration tools reap the benefits of improved operational efficiency, better guest experiences, and increased revenue per available room. Where hotels used to rely on paper checklists and uncoordinated teams working in silos throughout the property, hotel operations software streamlines staff and processes more efficiently. A cloud-based hotel operations platform like hotelkit aligns your team through a single platform, providing a way to manage tasks and delegate throughout the day. Decision-making becomes more transparent, leading to better results and higher employee engagement. By offering transparency, a collaboration tool empowers your team to deliver a great guest experience. Digitizing communication keeps all employees up to date on a property’s shifting priorities as guests check-in, enjoy their stay, and depart at different times. Teams can share ideas, tackle challenges, and delegate effectively in structured workflows. Guest needs, requests, and complaints reach the ears of the right people to solve the issue quickly. And, lastly, a service optimization platform offers knowledge continuity and standardization in service. Hotelkit provides a way to document standard operating procedures and an employee handbook in one place, so employees can refer to policies and procedures from any device at any time. Provide continuity between shift changes, new employees, and between different property locations.    The 2020 Hotelier's Guide to Collaboration Tools: Download Here   Hospitality trends impacting collaboration tools: staff turnover, globalization and quality standards This year, collaboration tools have become even more powerful, adding on some exciting new capabilities. 2019 was the year of messaging, mobile, and consumerization of the enterprise. The top hotel collaboration tools improve communications between hotel staff and guests by introducing text and chat capabilities. With real-time guest messaging from in-room tablets or mobile apps, hotel teams need the ability to coordinate quickly and effectively. Tools like Slack and Intercom are already popular at hotel properties, and we expect to see industry-specific software continue to innovate in this area. Today’s guest is more mobile-first than ever before. Guests prefer to receive text updates more than most forms of communication. More than 83% of millennial consumers said they text more than they talk on their smartphones. The “mobilization of everything” applies to staff collaboration tools as well. Hotel teams are increasingly comfortable with mobile technology in the workplace. And, lastly, the consumerization of IT means that unless a software tool is intuitive, your hotel staff will be slow to adopt it. The consumerization of IT is a trend coined by Gartner to describe how employees approach workplace devices and technologies from the point of view of a consumer. When tools and technologies at your hotel are outdated or considered “old school,” it’s less likely that your hotel team will use those tools – leading to no productivity gain. There’s a clear imperative to upgrade your service optimization and communication tools to help your team work better. Where are staff collaboration tools evolving next? We predict that employee turnover, globalization, and quality standards will define the next iteration of service optimization platforms. Employee turnover in the hotel industry is shockingly high. By one estimate, “the hotel and motel industry alone experiences an employee turnover rate of 73.8%––exponentially higher than the annual average of 10-15%.” Retaining the right people within your organization is becoming more and more difficult, and collaboration tools are vital to maintaining institutional knowledge.  Globalization and the rise of diverse teams means staff collaboration tools need to be equipped to manage communication issues as they arise. Highly diverse teams, such as housekeeping, must overcome language barriers and miscommunication due to cultural differences.  Finally, we expect that 2020 will see much higher quality standards and guest expectations. Guests will only be more demanding, seeking out personalized experiences and high-tech add-ons in addition to high-quality standards. Service optimization platforms must provide efficient internal communication and quality management. Where does this leave hoteliers? Hotels without collaboration software will fall behind and struggle in a world with rising employee turnover rates and increasingly global teams.   Selecting a staff collaboration tool for your hotel There are dozens of great staff collaboration tools on the market. Knowing what to look for as you select a platform for your hotel is half the battle. These are just a few of the key benefits a tool like hotelkit will cover:  Task checklists: to manage daily routines and assign clear responsibilities.  Task traceability: to add accountability and ensure timely completion of tasks. In-app translation: to help multilingual staff collaborate.  Alerts & notifications: to prevent costly mistakes and missed deadlines. Reporting & analytics: to help spot trends, escalate issues and identify opportunities to improve.  SOP handbook: to store a hotel’s hub of knowledge.  Shift handovers: for clear communication between shifts. Integrated messaging ability: for seamless messaging across departments and with guests Your staff collaboration tool must integrate with your PMS and, if you have them, in-room tablets, as well as any other guest messaging tools you use. Vet every vendor to make sure they have the integrations you need to set your team up for success.   Getting started with collaboration software Collaboration software should be intuitive and easy to learn to offset the high staff turnover rates in your industry. It should be straightforward enough for even your most technically-challenged staff member to understand. Hotels change management companies all the time, so look for a software tool that can adapt and scale with you – without having to adapt to another plan. The software should support all your stakeholders, not just those in an operational role.  And, last but not least, it’s imperative to ask your vendor how their tool can show measurable success: in RevPAR, in guest satisfaction, and operational efficiency. For more information, download our buyers guide for a deep dive on vendors, pricing, and our top recommended tools for service optimization. 

Hotel Front Desk Software is Converging With Back Office Systems

by
Jordan Hollander
3 months ago

One of the fastest-growing trends in hospitality is the rise of integrations supporting hotel operations, yet many hoteliers are unaware of how technology partnerships can advance their goals. While much of the focus has been on the guest experience, hoteliers are now beginning to shift to staff facing technologies due to a rise in operating expenses and stagnant RevPAR. To understand more about this issue, Amadeus hosted a panel of partners and experts at the 2019 Amadeus Hospitality Customer Conference to explore how integrations impact OPEX costs, staff productivity, building maintenance, and guest engagement. Moderated by Jordan Hollander from Hotel Tech Report, representatives from Zingle, Hilton Hotels, Assa Abloy, and Swire Hotels shared their views on integrations, implementation, and where technology is moving for staff and guests. Check out the videos and podcast below to find out how you can take advantage of integrating your tech stack to create better experiences for both staff and guests.    

How to Leverage Kaizen In Your Hotel Business

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

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

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

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

4 Hotel Jobs That Benefit Most From Quore's Operations Software

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

At its worst, hotel operations technology exacerbates divisions between departments, which continue functioning as isolated fiefdoms. At its best, an operations platform pulls everyone together by promoting collaboration and clear communication in hotel operations. One such solution is Quore, a workhorse that harmonizes hotel operations for 3,600 hotels in 22 languages and 29 countries. Its cloud-based platform enables more efficient communications and operations management across housekeeping, engineering, and guest relations. For some hotels, the integrated approach to handling guest requests on the platform led to a 50% improvement in problem-handling score. Effective, reliable communications also improves the staff experience -- something that matters more in a tightly competitive labor market. Staff want the right tools that help them do their jobs well -- and many will leave in frustration without them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the 2018 hospitality turnover rate at 74.9%, so hotels that use technology to make work better will out-perform their peers in both retention and referrals from current staff. With an eye towards empowering employees, here are four team members that will be thankful for the Quore hotel operations platform.   Your maintenance tech will prioritize projects better Guests hate discovering a maintenance issue upon arrival. It's an unwelcome challenge, presented immediately. It also makes even the most forgiving guest wonder why the hotel missed such an obvious thing, such as a burnt-out light bulb, a clogged toilet, or a broken doorknob. Quore’s functionality makes it easier for maintenance to overcome these challenges and work more efficiently in three key areas: Real-time problem management. When something goes wrong in the guestroom, it’s nearly always urgent. Guests don’t want to sit around and wait for an engineer, and, some things (such as a flooding drain or a sweltering room) are emergencies. Quore provides real-time problem handling that can quickly be assigned to the right team member -- and visible on that team member’s mobile device. Zdravko Bengez, a maintenance technician at the Hilton Garden Inn and downtown Nashville puts it like this: “With Quore, I know in seconds what needs to be done.” All relevant details appear on his mobile device, without having to chase down more information. Resource and project prioritization. Prioritizing resources is a daily tug-of-war, especially for larger properties. To effectively prioritize resources (including urgent problems like the ones mentioned above), Quore gives maintenance a quick overview, showing the up-to-date task list, as well as whether it was made by supervisor, the front desk, or a guest. This allows technicians to make on-the-fly decisions about where to go next, As well as stay in-the-loop with colleagues across the hotel. Preventative maintenance. PMs shouldn't be guess work. Quore supports hotel maintenance techs and engineers with preventative maintenance checklists that are automatically surfaced at the right time. As these lists evolve, changes are applied universally to keep everything consistent. Quore has robust enginnering features to support your maintenance staff: Prevenative maintenance, Pool chemical readings, Work orders, Boiler readings, Asset tracking, Meter readings, Custom inspections   Your housekeeping manager will manage shifts more efficiently Housekeeping has many responsibilities that require regular communication and precise time management. Before a guest checks in, housekeeping must ensure that a room is available -- and up to brand standards. During a guest’s stay, housekeeping must service the room and fulfill guest requests for specific items. After check out, housekeeping must flip the room efficiently (and to brand standards) so that it's available for the front desk to assign. “The way in which a room is cleaned, tidied and presented to its guests is in direct relation to the level of service the hotel prides themselves on. Housekeeping provides guests with a clear indication of how they are valued.” -Paul Duverge, General Manager, Menlyn Boutique Hotel Quore’s platform makes this daily cycle easier on the housekeeping manager by supporting: Preparation. Each housekeeping shift is a puzzle. In advance of a shift, it's all about preparation and planning. Quore helps housekeeping managers to set each days priorities, as each stayover and checkout is clearly defined in the system. It simplifies the process of assigning rooms to housekeepers before they clock in. Prioritization. Things change throughout today. Real-time updates on things like stayovers becoming checkouts helps the housekeeping manager match staff resources with guest demand. Accountability. There's also very important advantage of a paper trail. As Liz, the assistant housekeeper manager at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Nashville learned after starting at a hotel with Quore, there's less accountability without a written record: “[With walkie-talkies] it's easy to not write something down. With Quore, it's like having a paper trail, so there's more documentation. Also, I can start and complete an activity all through Quore which is helpful for tracking.” Quore has robust houskeeping features to support your staff: Housekeeping assignments, Guestroom inspections, Deep cleanings, Lost & found, Room notices, Custom inspections, Digital breakouts, Room status tracking, Work orders, Brand standards compliance   Your front desk manager will deliver better service It takes a certain amount of finesse to work the front desk. The ideal team member here is pleasant under pressure, with a knack for creative problem solving. Yet, even the most creative employee will be hobbled by poor information. The front desk is, in many ways, the central command post for a hotel’s operations. As the front line of guest communications, one of the toughest challenges encountered by most front desk agents is the unevenness of information. Quore’s smooths out these imbalances by adequately equipping the front desk to solve guest problems quickly with its: Dashboard. The Quore platform provides a single unified dashboard to collaborate quickly and across departments. This synchronization allows the front desk to focus on the rapid resolution of guest issues and avoid poor service situations, such as assigning an unclean or out-of-service room. Instead of less reliable means of communication, such as walkie-talkies or face-to-face, the front desk can communicate guest requests efficiently, says Finesse James, a front desk agent at Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Nashville: “It's a great method because it can keep us from having to call them when things are busy up here, and we are multitasking. It's easier to click and type in that we need them to do something. We can put all the specifics in the comments so they don't need to call and clarify.” Ease-of-use. The front desk is usually an untipped entry-level role, which means higher turnover. Quore’s consumer-friendly interface is familiar to anyone who’s used popular messaging and social media apps. It's intuitive, which reduces training time. The ease-of-use also keeps staff engaged and less frustrated, as they feel that the technology is working for, rather than against, them. For millennial's used to well-crafted interfaces, this is actually an important part of their expectations for the workplace. Digital logbook. No more deciphering chicken scratch or calling a colleague from a previous shift about “complaint from 402.” Standard log sheets keep staff informed from shift-to-shift. The digital log book also connects with related items, such as guest complaints or requests, so staff can easily find updates on notices mentioned in the digital log book. Quore has robust front desk features to support your front office team: Local attraction directory, Guestroom notices, Guest request management, Guest complaint management, Satisfaction callbacks, Key sign-in, sign-out and audit, Log book, Cash count log, Guest SMS, Security walks, Wake-up calls, Guest shipments   Your general manager will achieve budget more often The best general managers know the power of consistent, clear communications. And many have learned this first-hand, rising up the ranks from entry-level desk clerk. According to a 2016 AH&LA study, 45% of respondents said that at least half of the general managers began in actionable positions. Quore allows these veterans to focus on providing fluid and flexible workforce communications that empowers rather than discourages. The Quore platform becomes a GM’s stalwart ally in running a consistent hotel operation by supplying: Centralized, digital log book. A GM can’t be everywhere at once. Quore’s position at the center of a hotel’s operation relives some of that pressure.  As Gerald Loughran, the GM of Hilton Franklin/Cool Springs emphasizes, Quore’s digital log book is his hotel’s bible: “We’re religious about putting everything into Quore. If it’s not in Quore, it didn’t happen.” By pulling staff together into one shared operational brain, it’s much easier to maintain brand standards and close communication gaps.   Go-anywhere access. A GM also has to go home at some point! Quore enables managers to keep track of staff to-do’s, tasks and track overall productivity across their hotel from any device. The go-anywhere access means that GMs aren’t out of the loop when off shift, at a conference, or on vacation. Actionable reports based on historical data.  Historic data is easily accessible so that GMs can achieve growth and measurable improvement. This gives GMs the confidence that work is being done as it should be -- or quickly services areas that need work. When a GM spends less time on inspection or micro-management, it frees up time to focus on other metrics that matter -- such as guest satisfaction, revenue, and profitability. Quore has robust features to support your general managers:, Analytics & reporting, Asset tracking, CapEx management, Attendance tracking, Custom inspections, Budgeting tool, Checkbook visualization, Daily property walks

This is Why Hotel Brands Shouldn't Build Tech in House

by
Jordan Hollander
2 months ago

When enterprise companies spend loads of money on technology they usually think about building tech in house so they can have more control over development and ultimately save money.  Sometimes this equation favors building tech in house and other times it does not. Several high profile failures in the hotel industry include a collaboration amongst all major hotel groups to create an online booking platform called Room Key which was eventually shuttered.  We’ll discuss this initiative and more in detail below. Most sophisticated enterprise companies (think Nike and McDonalds) understand that they are not tech companies so they effectively outsource their tech R&D spend to 3rd parties that are focused on innovation.  Could McDonalds build software to help franchisees manage their listings? Yes, but they partner with Yext.  Nike could definitely build prototyping software in house for its digital products, but it chooses to partner with InVision.  Firms like Nike and McDonalds have become innovators by being experts at identifying trends and partnering with top tech companies to meet their core business goals. So the question is, if McDonalds and Nike outsource their respective technology needs - should hospitality companies really be building tech in house?   We believe that when hotel brands try to build tech in house it ultimately brings them into precarious waters, here's why: 1. They lack the resources to compete with pure play technology companies 2. Hotel brands usually underestimate the ongoing effort required to maintain and scale a technology business (let alone multiple business lines and products)   Hospitality companies don't have the resources to compete with tech companies   Charles Schwab is a massive financial institution worth more than $60B.  The firm could easily build custom marketing automation solutions for the business but they choose to work with with Marketo because they know that Marketo will be able to innovate over the long run.  Even Citrix and Microsoft, technology companies themselves, use Marketo’s marketing technology so that they can focus on their core businesses. IDeaS, a popular revenue management software company and it’s parent company SAS just announced a 3-year plan to invest $1B in artificial intelligence.  SAS is a company that deeply understands the power of focus and investing in its core competencies. "If I want to host a SaaS application, I choose a cloud host. If I want to manufacture a consumer product, I partner with a company like Foxconn. If I need delivery for my restaurant I work with a delivery company. Yet, brands without a technology focus still believe it will be cheaper and more effective to build their own software internally when history has shown us, time after time, that these projects will be over budget, unsustainable, and competitively weaker than the professional tech products in the market." ~Adam Harris, CEO, Cloudbeds The median publicly traded software company spends 23% of revenue on R&D with many high growth firms spending 50% of revenue.  It’s hard to imagine that even Marriott could afford the spend levels to develop one competitive product let alone multiple product lines that compete with a myriad of different specialist software businesses.   Technology is not a static good so sophisticated enterprise companies buy into the future of a tech product as much as the present.   Technology requires immense amounts of capital to scale and increasing investments to remain competitive.  Technology requires even more upkeep than hotels. Where hotels build up their capital reserves and renovate roughly every 5-7 years, tech companies are constantly “renovating” their products daily through product sprints.  When enterprise companies “buy” tech they are partnering with tech companies for the future as much as selecting products for the present. The reason that the SaaS business model (recurring subscriptions) aligns value so well between buyers and sellers is because the product is constantly being reinvented so it forces tech companies to maintain their end of the bargain.  When you sign up for SaaS (software as a service) you are not only signing up for the product today but you’re buying into its roadmap for the future. Hotel companies that try to build tech in house are rarely prepared for the constant investment required to maintain let alone scale products and keep up with the ongoing massive investment, iteration and innovation of tech firms. So what does history tell us about hotel companies who have miscalibrated this decision? Starwood was bought by Marriott for $13B and itself has taken huge losses on technology investments when they were no longer able to invest enough to remain competitive. According to Starwood’s (now Marriott) 2015 10K filing, the firm took a $6M charge for “technology related costs and expenses that were no longer deemed recoverable.”  Go back further to Starwood’s 2013 annual filing for stockholders and you’ll find a $19M charge related to “technology related expenses” that the firm “decided to absorb” because they couldn’t collect from managed and franchise properties.     When we draw the analogy between maintaining software and maintaining a hotel, Starwood was effectively unable to properly renovate its technology and investors paid for it.  Every hotelier knows what happens when you let a property go too long without renovation and the same happens when software isn’t maintained properly. Similar to Starwood building tech in house and having trouble maintaining the infrastructure, Choice created Skytouch PMS internally with the vision of transforming the tech market and has similarly struggled. “In 2014, it [Skytouch] generated a net loss to the company of up to $20 million. Investors have pressured Choice to either make SkyTouch profitable, sell it, or close it down.” Choice stopped reporting the results of its Skytouch division and now includes those results within its “Corporate & Other” expense line (pg. 102 of Choice 2018 10K filing). So while Choice no longer gives updates on how Skytouch is doing - it is highly inprobable that a company like Choice would decide to include the business unit as an expense line if that unit was doing well.  In addition to the Skytouch debacle, we've also heard that Choice is winding down its Choice Labs innovation division.  Accor, too, recently reported a $288M write-off on tech investments such as AirBnB competitor Onefinestay and concierge service John Paul. Accor even tried to sell it’s distribution to independents and shuttered the project after 2 years, here’s what happened in the words of Accor’s own spokesperson. “This initiative is no longer relevant in regards to the Group’s strategy and its new profile as per today.  Results are below expectations” Accor wanted to plug independents into its massive distribution which in theory could add a ton of value if executed well and even that didn’t work. Even when all the big hotel groups banded together to build the online booking platform Room Key they failed (Choice, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott, Wyndham) - isn’t it time that hotel companies learned this lesson? Even Booking.com had to shut down it’s hotel software operations after some high profile acquisitions - a testament to how tough the business really is.   Conclusion: Hotel brands shouldn’t build tech, they should get better at buying it   The lesson here is clear - hotel brands need to focus on what they do best.  They should leverage their scale and clout to secure great service and attention from tech partners. It’s up to franchisees and investors to ensure that operators stay focused. Hotel brands have insanely complex businesses managing many stakeholders who often have conflicting interests.  The business of running a hotel is a huge feat both operationally and from a revenue/distribution perspective. "Because the skepticism exists and because tech can take long, hoteliers reach the wrong conclusion. They decide to build instead of buy. I have witnessed a transformation in travel tech. Increasingly, hotels are embracing the rules of comparative advantage and are embracing tech where they can move fast, learn fast and benefit quickly." ~Alexandra Zubko (former IHG Lead Strategist) Because of these factors, hotel companies who want to succeed in the digital age should be experts at technology procurement and management.  Historically hotel brands have been very weak when it comes to technology procurement and management so many have tried to compensate for that weakness by building tech products in house. Unfortunately this strategy often leads to write-offs, burning piles of cash and consequently the executives who lead these disastrous projects being pushed out. "Great technology products enable a valuable job to be done to be easily performed with maximum success and consistent results. With the blistering pace at which the world is changing, our expectations change. That means jobs to be done change. And that means software needs to rapidly iterate and evolve. That is why the world is headed to simple, modular solutions that can nail jobs to be done as they evolve. The smartest brands know that to create compelling and lasting technology advantage, it’s now about identifying and bringing best-in-class interoperable solutions together into powerful system that gives lasting advantage.  From a cost, resource, time to market and life time value perspective, you’ll waste literally millions of dollars even before calculating the opportunity cost. Brands need to get amazing at hand-picking and investing in their strategic technology partners who are proven to design, build and iterate the purpose-built software hotels require, so they can then focus on delighting guests, growing locations and enhancing the value of their networks for franchisees." ~Marc Heyneker, CEO @ Revinate   Large enterprise brands have some clear motivations: (1) They want to expand to more and more hotels worldwide, and be able to do so quickly and efficiently. That means needing a consistent stack of solid technology that can be deployed, enabled and operationalized to run and add those hotels to the overall system. (2) They want to proudly position their Technology Stacks and enabled programs as unique value-adds that differentiate their Brand and their Brand value. So they can both convince Owners why they’re better, and monetize and justify their Brand fees in an age where consumer preference for brands is in decline. This sometimes gives large enterprises the false sense of belief that they need to build their own. In fact, building your own puts both goals in jeopardy, almost immediately. These multi-million dollar, multi-year, multi-faceted technology projects become sinkholes for capital investment, anchors to business progress and optimization, and turn into tough write-downs as we saw in the examples above. Hotel brands should instead be focused on rethinking their technology organizations to be better buyers and managers.  Corporate hotel purchasing units have historically focused on price negotiations and software customization (i.e. product roadmap hijacking) but in order for brands to thrive in today’s hyper competitive markets they are in need of a massive strategy shift. Red Lion Hotels Corporation is one such company that has taken a deep look at how it buys technology and optimizes its tech stack. Red Lion Hotels Corporation CIO John Edwards shared his firm's approach to technology vendor selection with Hotel Tech Report. "At RLHC, we have been able to establish ourselves as leaders in hospitality innovation by focusing on what we do best: finding the right technology partners to create solutions that meet our hotel’s needs. We believe that is the fastest way to change the technical landscape in our industry.  RLabs and Canvas Integrated Systems were created to house our already existing technology and innovation solutions, which provide customized best-in-class solutions for our hotels. Our tech stack includes well known industry solutions such as IDeaS, Opera, & WindSurfer as well as new industry solutions such as Monscierge and HAPI." Digitally savvy hotel owners want technological choice and they want the procurement benefits that brands command with scale.  The brand development teams that win in the digital age will be the ones who are able to deliver choice to owners around which technology vendors to use, the scale that comes with warehousing and leveraging data from that warehouse and the cost benefits that come from bundled negotiations with vendors.   Recommendations to hotel brands who want tech to be a core differentiator   1. Map out clear technology systems required to deliver on core business goals and all potential providers 2. Lay foundational infrastructure for open systems and clean data Design scalable processes to constantly beta test competitive products in the market and identify new products that can drive core business goals. 3. Set aside designated resources for technology management. Hotel groups should maintain a vendor CRM and dedicated staff for managing vendor relationships. This staff should also be tasked with collecting market insights and sharing new technological developments as well as vendor status updates on a regular basis with leadership. 4. Set clear and tangible KPIs with each vendor that must be met in order to retain the contract (e.g. customer support response time) Create clear roadmaps for switching systems in the event that suppliers do not deliver on KPIs 5. Invest in tech startups that fit your strategic criteria above! Highgate (invested in Stay Wanderful, Travel Tripper, LodgIQ, OTA Insight) and CitizenM (invested in Snapshot, exited to Shiji) have been incredibly successful executing on this strategy. They put strategic money to work then derisk their investments by giving those startups proof of concept in their properties. 6. For hotel companies that don't have the resources to start a fund internally like them there are great strategic venture capital firms that are focused on real estate and can do the heavy lifting for you - check out Metaprop VC and Fifth Wall Ventures. Investing enables you to gain access to innovation and lend your expertise without snuffing out the creativity. Leadership is about investing in great people and trusting them to do the work, not about micromanaging every aspect of the process yourself.  

How GoConcierge's Adam Isrow Built a Global Empire Without Venture Funding or a Marketing Budget

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

What do you think of when asked to picture the founder of a dot com era startup founded in the year 2000?  I picture an arrogant and sharp elbowed hype man with an inflated ego who’s selling the dream of world domination and hockey stick growth.   Adam Isrow founded GoConcierge in the year 2000 during the heyday of epic dot com busts like Pets.com and Webvan but his story couldn’t be more different from his infamous peers.  If you got to trade your boss in for a new one - Adam is the kind of guy that everyone wants to work for. He’s humble and soft spoken yet firm and disciplined. While tech founders were out chasing exponential user growth in the early 2000s Adam was focused on the fundamentals.   Webvan stock chart from 1999-2001 shows the quintessential dot com bust   The GoConcierge story sits in stark contrast of companies like Webvan that were founded around the same time.  While his peers were busy seducing investors and big media with glitz - Adam focused on moderate, consistent and steady growth.  His character attracted a strong and loyal team solely focused on the elevated customer service that helped him build the GoConcierge business almost exclusively through word of mouth.   “Everyone wants some magic pill—some life hack—that eliminates the need to do the work. But that does not exist.” – Jocko Willink   Adam is not the kind of leader who looks for a magic pill.  His favorite book, Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink is a navy seal commander’s tale of humility, loyalty and discipline - three qualities that deeply characterize Adam’s leadership style. So how did Adam grow GoConcierge to more than 1,000 hotels globally without traditional venture funding? His background in the hotel industry is a huge piece of the puzzle.  While working in hotels Adam learned humility through dedicating himself to service.  The hospitality industry also taught him a deep sense of empathy that enabled him to develop technology that would become loved by even the least digitally savvy concierges. The teamwork he learned in the front office enabled him to attract and retain a team of loyal high performance contributors.  Adam’s story embodies the true spirit of hospitality in every way. While he personally considers work and service to be rewards in themselves, Adam’s years of dedication were recently validated when ALICE bought his firm GoConcierge for millions in 2017. What was your background prior to starting GoConcierge? Coming out of undergrad, I wanted both sales and management experience as a foundation to begin my career. Prior to starting GoConcierge, I had worked in hotel operations for a hotel in Los Angeles.  The goal was to turn around each department in the hotel and prepare the hotel for being sold. While overseeing guest services and ultimately the rooms division, I saw how much work the team was doing manually with logbooks and binders.  I thought if we could create a tool with a database of vendors and directions (this was pre Mapquest and Google Maps) and the ability to track activities, that it would enable our team to spend more time and attention on the guests. Just prior to launching GoConcierge, I worked for another technology startup focused on disseminating digital assets in the entertainment industry.   Once that company was sold, I was still intrigued by the Concierge tracking idea and while going back to earn my MBA during the dot com era, decided to launch GoConcierge.  Hard to believe that was back in 2000 and here we are today. What made you decide to jump in and start GoConcierge? After spending several years in hotel operations, I saw first-hand the importance of adding efficiencies where possible.  So much of the day-to-day operation in a hotel is manually driven and at the time, there were very few systems outside of the property management system.  We had created our own tools using Microsoft Access for yield management and also tracking any challenges throughout the operation. One night while talking with my partner, we discussed creating a database for vendors so that we could have a knowledge base of everything our guests were asking.  This way, no matter who was working, we could help the guest right away. I spent the evenings typing directions into each location since there was no Mapquest or Google Maps at the time. I felt it had to be extremely user-friendly and I remember having an amazing gentleman in guest services named, Frank, and he was in his 70’s and was not comfortable using a computer.  I remember thinking that if we could get Frank comfortable using this, we were onto something. Fortunately, Frank was able to use it and the team noticed that they were able to do their job better by having more information at their fingertips vs. having to look in logbooks and binders. Plus, I have terrible handwriting and if I wrote something in the logbook, there was a good chance others would not be able to read it.   Adam Isrow sold his business GoConcierge to ALICE in 2017 Who was GoConcierge’s first customer? Our first Customer was a Hyatt Hotel in Los Angeles.  I called several times and spoke to the Rooms Executive at the time and she was intrigued enough to allow me to present to her.  Fortunately for me, she understood the vision and she and her team believed that GoConcierge could enhance their day-to-day operation and ultimately the guest experience.  In addition to providing the application, I also guaranteed that I would provide exceptional support and would exceed expectations. I worked hard to earn trust and have her provide me with an opportunity. I felt if I could just get into a hotel like that, it would add credibility and help me gain additional hotels.     GoConcierge was acquired by ALICE in 2017 - how do the businesses work together today? We have created the first operations platform with a goal of going to our customers with a suite of services.  So often in hotels each department purchases their own applications. Therefore they operate as silos and most of the time and don’t communicate with each other.  We believe that there is significant value in providing one solution that can add value to multiple departments. The ALICE Platform has various modules including Concierge, Service Delivery, Messaging, Preventative Maintenance and Housekeeping.  Customers can pick and choose what is best for their property and because we have an open API, we can also facilitate integration between various systems.  Having one platform can provide cost savings to the hotel instead of paying setup fees and multiple subscriptions fees for multiple systems.  ALICE Concierge has a customizable database powered by Google Places and tracks all activities arranged for guests, creates personalized confirmation letters, itineraries, communicates with guest and team members via SMS and other platforms.  Using ALICE for service delivery, the property can dispatch requests such as towel delivery, challenges in the room and even manage preventative maintenance. ALICE provides a complete operational solution that will allow your team to provide a very personalized and exceptional guest experience. ALICE’s modern dashboard connects departments seamlessly   What's the biggest misconception that hoteliers have about technology? Perhaps the most common belief I used to hear was that the Concierge didn’t need an application because they could use Excel or their logbooks.  We obviously felt differently especially after spending time behind the desk and seeing the amount of work done manually and the importance of providing a tool to enable the team to be more efficient.  We believe the role of the Concierge should be in the center of the hotel operation since their work touches so many departments and has such a significant impact on the overall guest experience. A good Concierge team does the job so well that they make it look easy.  What is often not recognized or seen is the volume of work being done behind the scenes to deliver such a great guest experience. Investing in a tool allows the team to be more efficient and spend more time and attention on the guests. I believe the reason guests come back now is mostly because of the way the Concierge and other team members make the guests feel when they leave, more so than just having a beautiful hotel.  Without a tool such as ALICE, it is very difficult to be efficient and create that great guest experience. What's the most surprising thing you've learned about scaling technology into hotels since founding the business? In hospitality, we are a 24/7 operation and since we have customers around the world, there really is no downtime.  As we have scaled the company, in addition to our application, we remain keenly focused on our environment and optimizing the performance of the application for our users.  This is a major effort and something that requires focus for achieving results today and in the future, domestically and internationally. If you could partner with any vendor in hotel tech, who would it be and why? With respect to vendors to partner with, we believe the PMS provides a mutually beneficial opportunity.  The more integration we provide, the better we serve our customers. We are interested in speaking with any PMS that believes there is value in integrating ALICE to enhance its offering Where do you see ALICE in 5-years? We envision ALICE being the operations hub for the hotel. We are striving for that now and in the next 5 years, we want to realize our ambition of allowing all hotel staff to work effectively together and while enabling innovation around us. Ultimately, we want to provide a platform that is so widespread and so open that all innovation in the guest space can connect into it and hotel companies can deliver hospitality through it. We believe there should be full transparency where the guests can realize the same type of control and experience they love from other industries. How will the concierge software space change in the next 5-years? We believe that that Concierge will need to be connected to all departments throughout the hotel- like the hub of the operation.  Our customers will need as many efficiencies as possible to provide a high-level of service to the guest. We envision the Concierge department will have to be equipped to easily initiate requests for any department on behalf of guests. Do you have any new products or feature launches of late (or coming soon) that you'd like us to promote to our users? We are very excited to be developing our Room Assignment feature as part of our Housekeeping module.  We have gained first-hand knowledge from our customers and our team of hospitality experts about what the ideal solution would be and we are actively working on this right now.  Adding this functionality to our platform will allow us to achieve our vision of providing our customers with a complete solution for their operation and specifically, their largest department, Housekeeping. Is there anything that the community can do to be helpful for you? We are focused on interacting with other thought leaders to gain insight, share notes and collaborate together. We welcome the opportunity to connect with leaders that have grown and/or are building emerging technology.  We have a speaker series where we bring in leaders with various backgrounds from various industries to speak about successes and failures and learnings along the way. It would be great to have more thought leaders from the community share their experiences with our team. ALICE won Hotel Tech Report’s ‘2019 Best Places to Work’ in Hotel Tech competition   What's one piece of advice that you have for any entrepreneurs looking to get into hotel software? In any space it’s critical to surround yourself with the best possible team.  Specifically within this niche of hospitality technology be sure you fully understand how you can add value and be willing to adjust along the way.  The vision you start with may not be what you finish with. Be agile enough to shift when needed. What is the best book you've read lately and why? I really enjoyed reading Extreme Ownership: How Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.  This is a story about taking ownership and leading by example.  The story is told by two Navy SEALS and their life altering experiences in battle and how those lessons can be applied to both business world and your personal life. What is your favorite podcast? I like listening to The Tim Ferris Show and hearing his interviews with both business leaders and athletes. What is one thing that most people don't know about you? I did sports broadcasting in college and also am passionate about speaking to groups about my experience of working with the world’s finest hotels and Concierges and the impact of consistently delivering exceptional service.

The future is here: how modern messaging enhances hotel employee and guest communications

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 months ago

During a recent interview with Jon Albano, host of the Lodging Leaders podcast, HelloShift CEO Sudheer Thakur discussed how the hotel industry is shifting from print-based communications like logbooks, forms, and memos to modern messaging tools like newsfeeds, text messaging, and chat. Thakur is the founder and CEO of HelloShift, an integrated messaging platform for hotel teams, managers, guests, and website visitors that was recognized by hoteliers as the #1 Staff Collaboration software in the 2018 HotelTechAwards. A technologist by training, Thakur previously founded various Silicon Valley start-ups, including one that built a messaging app to connect travelers with locals. After he sold the company, he began thinking about messaging from a hotel perspective. “There was a communications revolution going on then,” he said. “A new category of business software was being created. Yammer brought Facebook-style newsfeed communications to businesses, making it easy and fast for employees to communicate in real-time. Things really exploded with the introduction of Slack, which integrated all business operations into the same feed. People loved it.” Thakur decided to develop Slack-style software to meet the unique needs of hotels. “Our first product offering was a staff collaboration tool designed to help staff communicate with one another across shifts and departments,” he said. “It integrates social media features like newsfeeds, tags, and mentions with features like messaging, tasks, and checklists. It brings all staff communications under one platform. It’s about operational efficiency.” Next, HelloShift introduced its guest messaging platform, allowing hotels to text guests before, during, and after their stay. Guests can initiate a conversation too. All messaging feeds into the staff collaboration platform. “It’s an efficient way to deliver customer service and enhance guest satisfaction,” said Thakur. More recently, HelloShift introduced a website chat widget to target travelers and offer assistance during the pre-booking stage. All conversations are integrated into the HelloShift platform. “People are looking at multiple sites when they’re shopping for hotels,” explained Thakur. “They have questions, and if someone is there to answer it puts the hotel ahead of competitors.” He mentioned a hotel client that received group bookings within hours of installing the chat widget on its website. “The chat widget goes directly after the top line by increasing direct bookings,” he said. Asked what differentiates HelloShift from other software solutions, Thakur said, “When we were named #1 in the Staff Collaboration category in the HotelTechAwards, one thing stood out for hoteliers: ease of use. There’s a lot of turnover in the hotel industry, and training staff to get up and running on software is time-consuming. With HelloShift, staff can be onboarded in five minutes if they know Facebook.” “But it goes much deeper than ease of use,” he continued. “The key difference is our vision. In software-as-a-service, the vision matters. You're not buying what you're getting today—you're buying all the future versions of the same product." “Our competitors are taking old-school ways of doing things like logbooks and digitizing them. They are solving the last generation’s problems. HelloShift recognizes that there’s a messaging revolution taking place in the world, and we are preparing hoteliers for the next generation's challenges. “That shows up in the architecture of our product. We’ve taken messaging architecture and integrated it into hotel operations. Everything goes into one feed: staff collaboration, guest communications, and communications with future guests. We’re leveraging people’s familiarity with Facebook, building on it, and delivering a platform for the future. “I’m excited for that future. When you’re directly in touch with your customers, you are in a much more powerful position.”