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How Hotel Tech Can Help with Labor Shortages

by
Sarah Duguay
4 months ago

As travel opens up, so comes a surge of travel. Pent-up desire for holidays has resulted in what some are calling ‘revenge travel.’ After some hesitation, hoteliers are reporting more demand than ever since the beginning of the pandemic. This has resulted in a challenging scenario. Before COVID-19, the hospitality industry was no stranger to employee retention and acquisition issues. But suddenly, faced with low bookings, many hotels had to make the difficult decision to lay off staff. Fast forward to today, some hotels have been forced to turn away guests because of even greater staff shortages than before. While theories abound about shortages, accompanied by HR strategies to attract new hotel employees, we’re here to remind you to take a deep breath because hotel tech is here to help! Tried and true, existing hotel tech can help your hotel with labor shortages by making operations more efficient and less time-consuming while improving the guest experience.   PMS Features and Integrations Alleviate Hotel Labor Shortages According to Revinate, 95% of hoteliers are facing a staff shortage while occupancy is experiencing record highs. One hotel in their report said their shortage has them operating with only 70-75% of their staffing levels. This is the norm, not the outlier, in today’s market. But, as many independent hotels learned during the pandemic, those with a cloud-based property management system (PMS) already have a leg-up on their ability to streamline operations and maximize staff. Because, as the name implies, cloud-based PMS exist in the ‘cloud’ (they run online), operators can manage their hotels from anywhere at any time. Hotel managers no longer need to drop everything and dash back to the hotel to deal with accounting issues or make rate changes. Front-desk duties, such as group management and availability calendars, or back-office tasks, like rate management and financials, are all at your fingertips, wherever you are.   Automation. Nothing streamlines operations like automated systems! At the heart of operations, the PMS automatically coordinates reservations, inventory and availability, housekeeping, and reporting, centralizing data to streamline front- and back-office tasks. For example, instead of manually sending routine emails to guests, set up and send templated emails from your PMS automatically based on defined triggers for booking confirmation, pre-arrival, check-in and post-stay communications, waitlists, group bookings, rental agreements, and more.  A cloud PMS is easily integrated with your other hotel systems — including payment gateways, OTAs, point-of-sale systems, locking systems, CRMs, and revenue management software, etc. — to automatically share relevant reservation data with those systems so that staff don’t have to manually re-enter information into multiple systems. System integration with your PMS at the core is an important part of automating processes and maximizing efficiency.   Self Check-in: Let guests jump the queue with online registration and self check-ins — saving you time and resources in the process. Typically, hotel guest check-ins — with forms to sign and policies to review — take around five minutes per guest and often result in queues, occupying your front desk staff and frustrating guests. By moving this process online, all agreements, waivers, screening, and guest information collection is completed online by your guests in advance of arriving at the hotel, improving the guest experience by not having to wait in a physical queue, while simultaneously saving staff a lot of time! With automated email or SMS communications, payment gateway and mobile key integration, the entire check-in process can be automated.   Rate Management: Flexible rate management tools make monitoring and adjusting pricing a cinch, from creating group discounts and package rates to instant overrides. Yield management functionality allows you to automatically adjust prices based on predetermined occupancy rules — talk about a time saver! If you haven’t already added a commission-free online booking engine (OBE) to your property’s website, this is your first order of business. Integrated with the PMS, reservations made by guests using the OBE are automatically updated in the PMS, and live rates and availability are always displayed online. Not only will you save valuable employee time from taking reservations by phone and email but today’s guests expect (and many even prefer) to book online. While OTAs are a great way for guests to find you and book online, why not offer your own online bookings and save on commissions? Speaking of OTAs, you’ll also save time by integrating your OTA channels or channel manager with your PMS to synchronize live inventory, rates and availability across channels, instead of managing each separately. Plus, all reservations coming through your channel partners are automatically updated in your PMS so no matter where guests book, they always have access to up-to-date availability. Integrating your PMS with your online distribution channels is a must for maximizing time and preventing overbooking.    Housekeeping reports: While a PMS cannot perform housekeeping duties, it can make housekeeping processes more efficient, which is essential with a lean staff. With a mobile housekeeping report, staff can check their housekeeping schedule using their own mobile phones, to see which rooms are vacated and ready to be cleaned and to mark rooms as clean as they go, adding housekeeping notes and maintenance alarms as required. The front desk is kept in the loop in real time with the same system. Furthermore, checklists for each room keep staff on track to ensure nothing is overlooked — because as you know, when it comes to cleanliness, guest standards are higher than ever before due to the pandemic.   Mobile keys: Keyless entry is an elegant accompaniment to online registrations and check-ins. While it may seem small, keyless entry technology removes the headache of keys altogether, whether it’s actual keys or cards. No more sanitizing, organizing, re-setting, or distributing. With keyless entry system integration with your PMS, guests can simply unlock their room door with their mobile device. Along with online check-ins, keyless entry integration allows guests to bypass the front desk altogether! Imagine no guest lineups at the designated check-in time and no key drop-offs at check-out. Did we just hear a sigh of relief?   Save time, resources, and money by employing smart room technologies. Allowing guests to adjust room temperature and lighting with their phones puts comfort into the palm of their hands. Better still, IoT offers the ultimate in personalization with room light levels that adjust with the time of day, and keeps the room temperature at exactly the right level — automatically. This kind of efficiency decreases demand on housekeeping and maintenance teams and helps with your sustainability initiatives.    Chatbots: Hotel Chatbots are an excellent way to assist your online guests 24/7 without any extra effort from staff. Integrated with your hotel's website and/or within your guest messaging app, an AI or rules-based chatbot can assist guests with booking, requests, FAQs, upsells, and local recommendations. Younger generations are the most comfortable seeking help from chatbots, with many guests preferring to search for answers this way than connecting with a real human — which frees up your human employees for in-person help.   Robot room service: A couple of years ago, robot room service was exclusively seen as a novelty service to delight guests. But in the age of COVID-19, it’s obvious to see the practical utility of employing robots by reducing human contact (and thus germs) and by reducing the need for bellhops. Because labor shortage is a trend that existed even before the pandemic hit, perhaps investing in robot room service is no longer pie in the sky. Isn’t technology an amazing thing? Instead of providing a lack of care or impersonal service (a common fear about using technology), today’s hotel tech provides hoteliers with a way to upgrade the guest experience even in the face of decreased staffing. If your property does not have one already, a robust and innovative cloud PMS like WebRezPro can set you on the path toward hospitality excellence and higher revenue, not to mention less stress.  

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Automating Hotel Operations from the Lens of Hotel Owner and Tech Startup Founder Amelia Gain

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

Savvy hoteliers today view the PMS as “mission control” of their operations; with the right technology in place, a hotel can run more efficiently while enabling staff to craft the ideal guest experience. Preno is part of a new wave of hotel management systems designed to enhance and support hotel operations with intuitive interfaces and handy automated features that reduce the need for manual work - a far cry from the limited, enigmatic systems of the 1990s and early 2000s. In this article, we’ll introduce you to Preno’s co-founder and CEO, Amelia Gain, and explain how a modern PMS like Preno can transform your hotel’s operations and meet the expectations of today’s guests. Want to hear it straight from the expert? Scroll down to read the full transcript of our interview with Amelia. Amelia started Preno alongside co-founder and CTO Max Podolian in 2015, although it wasn’t Amelia’s first venture in the technology and hospitality worlds. Amelia studied IT in college, giving her a solid foundation for a career in technology. Amelia later embarked on a new adventure, purchasing a small, independent hotel where she felt the challenges of using the legacy technology that they had inherited from previous ownership. In our interview, Amelia explains how she “went on a long search and trialled every PMS available at the time,” but she couldn’t find one that was user-friendly, transparent with pricing and contracts, and integrated with other on-site systems. Knowing there could (and should) be a better alternative, Amelia partnered with her college classmate, Max, to build Preno, drawing on both her background in IT and her personal experience as a hotelier. Preno officially launched in 2015 with the goal to provide an autopilot platform for hoteliers that eliminates time-consuming administrative tasks. The company prides itself on being built by hoteliers, for hoteliers which allows their software to be most relevant and useful for owners, operators, and managers of small, independent hotels.   Shifting expectations and possibilities for hotel technology When Amelia started working at her own hotel, she recalls “I didn’t understand why hoteliers should have to deal with confusing software systems when modern cloud technology could make it so much more effortless.” This was Amelia’s motivation for starting Preno: technology was preventing hoteliers like herself from delivering exceptional guest service. In the early days of property management systems, they essentially functioned as reservations databases which were only slightly more efficient than organizing paper reservations in file cabinets, and despite the incredible advancement in technology, the humble PMS hadn’t changed much in a couple of decades. Today, reservation management is just one feature of many you’ll find in a modern PMS. A 21st-century PMS will not only allow you to manage reservations and guest profiles, but it can also accept online reservations through a booking engine you can add to your website and connect your rates and inventory to third-party channels with global reach. A modern PMS will power back-office tasks like payment processing and invoicing, and thanks to integrations with complementary systems, many PMS’ will also eliminate duplicative work by piping data between various on-site software. For example, Preno’s integration with Xero, an accounting system, enables hoteliers to automatically generate invoices based on data from reservations in the PMS. Without this integration, employees would have to manually type up the invoices, risking manual errors and wasted time. In addition, a modern PMS should be easy to use. While out of date legacy systems might require extensive training, lengthy contract negotiations, and frequent updates, a cloud-based system like Preno is both easy to access from anywhere and designed to be as user-friendly as possible. This seamless user experience means less time spent on training and more time spent building relationships with guests.   Travelers want a tech-forward experience with a personal connection It’s not just hoteliers and employees who realize the benefits of a modern property management system; today’s travelers expect technology that smoothes pain points in the traditional guest experience. In addition, in light of the pandemic, as guests increasingly prefer a contactless experience, technology can be a powerful tool to craft your desired guest experience. At the same time, as some of Preno’s customer success stories illustrate, adopting modern technology at your hotel doesn’t mean you’ll lose a personal connection with your guests; in fact it does the opposite - Preno’s technology frees up time so that you can spend more time with guests.   -- Want to learn more about modern hotel technology and Amelia’s vision for Preno? -- Read our interview with Preno’s co-founder and CEO Amelia Gain below Tell us about your career background in hotels. I was studying IT before going into owning and running a hotel with my sister. My sister was initially the one with a background in hospitality, and working for hotels when we first went into the venture. However, together with that mix of skills, we made a great team. Working in a hotel, I was surprised how much I liked creating amazing guest experiences, meeting with guests, working with our team each day and spending time improving our internal systems. What I disliked was the hours of repetitive admin tasks, the double handling of data, and dealing with the existing tools we inherited when taking over the property. That’s when I started to think about developing better tools that would help me and my team. When did you first become interested in leveraging technology to become a better hotelier? I think given my background in studying IT, it was from the first month of being at the property. Once I understood the current systems and challenges, I started to look for and develop solutions. I didn’t understand why hoteliers should have to deal with confusing software systems when modern cloud technology could make it so much more effortless. I started with tech and went into hotels, then came back to tech! I studied IT (with my now co-founder Max), but I had always wanted to go into business with my sister. Her background was in hospitality, so when we had an opportunity to buy a unique hotel, we jumped at it. It was a beautiful hotel, however, we worked really hard. We put in a lot of creativity when creating the guest experiences we offered, and we surround ourselves with an amazing team who are equally as passionate. The one thing that was not helping us were the tools and software we had at hand to manage our property. So the idea for Preno came about. I sought software expertise from my University friend Max to go into developing this with me. From there, Preno has flourished into what it is today - a powerful hotel management software that provides an autopilot platform for hoteliers. What was one technology that you couldn't live without when running your hotel business? Xero accounting software - it’s easy to use and a comprehensive accounting tool. I had no background in accounting and the hotel was my first business. With Xero, I could still jump in and do all the day-to-day accounts, without any prior experience with accounting. Xero’s intuitive software design inspired me to create something similar for hoteliers. As a hotelier what was your biggest frustration with technology? Where do I start - when my sister and I took over the hotel, we inherited a legacy system that was very frustrating. I then went on a long search and trialled every PMS available at the time. What I found is that they were disconnected from our accounting tool and other key tools we used, overly complex, required far too much manual administration, and were generally just hard to use. The ease of use was important as with the complicated systems, this meant extra time training new team members. Important to me was the support as my business was not 9am to 5pm 5 days per week. The hotel industry is a 24/7 operation. Other tools were also not transparent on pricing and had a whole lot of hidden costs - they would try and lock you into very long contracts and the whole experience lacked any care for my business.  What would you say is the most widely held misconception that hoteliers have about technology? I think one of the most widely held misconceptions that hoteliers have about technology, is the need to be using “flashy” tech (physical kiosks, hotel TV systems etc). I personally believe that some types of hotel technology are not well-thought-out about how they fit with the guest experience. Often some of those tools, and where they’re used, add no value to the guest stay and can make workflows complex for the team. What was the most challenging part of moving from hotels into technology? I feel like with any business there are challenges. Running a hotel has parts that are challenging, just as there are challenges to running a software company. With a tech company, you’re constantly pushing to get out new products that add even more value to customers, break into new markets and see further growth. The challenges you can face are so varied and are at a fast pace. This energy is actually what I enjoy and it motivates me. I’m fortunate that I have an incredible team, so we’re always sharing ideas and I never face these challenges alone. For those in our community who may not be familiar, tell us about Preno. Preno is a hotel management software that works like magic. It’s the autopilot for short term accommodation properties saving them up to 10+ hours per week on average. There are over 7000 hoteliers currently using Preno in over 25 countries and we’re very passionate as a team in seeing our hoteliers succeed. We love being able to support hoteliers with an effortless, stress-free system - especially during uneasy times like during the current pandemic. You work with a lot of hoteliers, which properties or operators are innovating ahead of the pack? I think the common theme among all three properties that come to mind is that they all have a strong mission that they’re passionate about, they’re giving back to their local communities, and the experience they offer is unique to their property and part of the world. Change Overnight Hotel (Australia) has a unique business model that I believe we will see a lot more of. A converted warehouse, it’s bright and has a lot of personalities. But it’s their mission and purpose which sets it apart. When a guest stays at Change Overnight, each night of their stay comes with the opportunity to give back to one of the hotel’s carefully chosen charities. It has become so popular, initial funding targets to give back to the local and global charities were smashed!  Maruia River Retreat (New Zealand) is run by very caring operators who felt the impact of Covid-19 strongly. This pivoted into what they care about most - mental well-being. Not only is Maruia River Retreat a beautiful property, located in a stunning natural landscape, the experiences they have on hand are unique to them. They host yoga workshops, writing retreats and more. The owners are passionate about the experiences they have on offer and this shines through.Aura Accommodation (New Zealand) is run by two friends who love their town, went into owning and running a motel. They refurbished the motel at a low cost, resulting in a property that is fun, tidy and comfortable. The team at Aura make sure the property is closely connected with their local community, through activities and events that bring a lot of energy. They shifted procedures and suppliers to be environmentally friendly and supported local charities that were important to their team. Imagine that you're going to open the hotel of your dreams tomorrow.  What kind of hotel would it be? I would love to get back into running hotels someday! The focus these days is on giving unique guest experiences at any price point. So I would want an accommodation business in any of the market segments, as long as the experience is meaningful, fun, unique and sustainable. My passion has always been for independent hotels, as there is a lot of freedom, you get to develop your own brand that you believe in. In terms of size, I’ve not thought too much about it, as I would love a property with 10 rooms, but would be just as passionate if it had 200 rooms, so long as I had a great team to work with. A name; how about “Preno Stays”!  What technology would you leverage at your hotel?  Tell us what the perfect tech stack would be and why? I would choose Preno All-in-one (because it’s the best) as my main tool, Lightspeed for my Point of Sale, Xero for accounting and Stripe for payment gateway. I’m a fan of Goki, so I would add that in the mix too. What's one piece of advice you have for hoteliers who have dreams of working in tech? If you’re looking to be a founder of a new startup developing a product, test and validate your idea with a lot of people (ideally the target market) as early as possible. You do not need to build a product to test your idea. Have a clear idea of your ideal customer profile. Make sure you connect and talk to other founders or people in tech, share your ideas and challenges. There are a lot of meetups you can find online and this is the best way to explore ideas with a friendly and passionate group.  What is the most exciting technology you've seen in the hotel tech space that is not built by Preno? Why? Our team is really excited about our new integration with Goki. For years I’ve been looking for the right keylock technology that fits our market. Not only do the Goki locks look great and are easy for guests to use, but they’re affordable and can be self-installed. The big bonus is that you do not have to replace all the door locks in your hotel. With Goki connected with Preno, it can automate check-in’s and provide guests with access to their unit/room using just their phone or a code.  Fast forward 5-years, how will the hotel tech stack be different from today? My vision for tech in hotels is that the technology is invisible, but is a powerful engine that automates activity for the operator. The guest arrives and the stay is seamless and effortless. In fact, their stay is so good that they never even think about the technology driving it, it seems organic. I do not see the point of removing all human components, it’s what sets hotels apart from Airbnb, but the human interactions are all value-adding - making it an even better stay, with no repetitive admin tasks.    This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.

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How 4 Unique Hotels Optimized Their Operations with Preno

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

Are you struggling to decide whether to implement a new property management system at your hotel? Choosing technology for your hotel is a big decision.  That’s especially true when selecting a hotel management system. In this article, you’ll hear about several unique properties that leveraged a new hotel management system to grow occupancy rates and save hours of time per day through automation. All four hotels profiled in this article made impressive gains in booking rates and productivity after implementing Preno; a powerful property management system designed for independent hoteliers. Preno’s software is packed with user-friendly features, including automation that frees up time and a channel manager that seamlessly connects hotels to various distribution channels (including Booking.com and Expedia). In addition, Preno’s integration with accounting software Xero can save up to an hour per day of manual entry and payment processing, which Australian hotel Change Overnight used to save their team a significant amount of busy work every day. By the end of this article, you can feel confident taking the leap to a new property management system after hearing the success stories of these four unique independent hotels using Preno.   Tongariro Crossing Lodge Achieved 75% Occupancy, Less Fraud, and a Better Guest Experience Set near New Zealand’s iconic Tongariro National Park, a 4-hour drive from both Wellington and Auckland, Tongariro Crossing Lodge has been a favorite place to stay since the 1960s. The property was originally built as a ski lodge, complete with bunk rooms and shared bathrooms, but it has since been upgraded to feature six private suites. In 2016 Marina and Louis van Dyk bought the property as their first venture into hospitality. They needed to quickly learn how to not only deliver great guest experiences, but also handle business aspects like accounting, revenue management, and distribution. The van Dyks chose to use Preno for their property management system, and from the start they found the software to be very user-friendly. Thanks to several time-saving features of Preno, the van Dyks were able to boost Tongariro Crossing Lodge’s occupancy from 35% to 75%. Key features of Preno that helped Tongariro Crossing Lodge grow their occupancy rates to 75%: Mobile access: Since the van Dyks can use Preno on their smartphones, they can now interact with their PMS from anywhere, at any time - even if they’re on holiday. Previously, if a guest called to make a reservation, Marina or Louis would need to put the guest on hold (or call them back) until they could return to their desk. Sometimes a guest would lose interest or find another property during that time since it wasn’t an ideal experience. Now, with Preno, the van Dyks can book reservations and accept payment entirely on mobile, which helps them deliver a better guest experience and secure more reservations. Validating credit cards: Any hospitality business is at risk of fraud, especially when it’s easy for people to make reservations online. With Preno, the van Dyks can enjoy peace of mind that they won’t get scammed or end up with a booking for which they can’t collect payment. Preno automatically validates every credit card on every reservation immediately after the reservations are booked, so that if a card is invalid or fraudulent, the fraudulent reservation can be canceled right away and free up room nights for valid reservations. The van Dyks report that Preno has already flagged several invalid cards and saved them over $600 in fraudulent reservations. Booking management and rules: Preno lets the van Dyks maximize inventory at Tongariro Crossing Lodge by allowing them to easily place strategic restrictions, like closed-to-arrival, closed-to-departure, or minimum stay requirements, during high season and on public holidays when demand is high.These restrictions ensure that reservations booked over those high-demand dates have an ideal stay pattern to maximize revenue and occupancy rates. Automation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge is known for both its famous bread and friendly guest service, and the automated features that Preno offers; allowing the van Dyks time to focus on building relationships with guests, while the software automates tasks in the background. For Tongariro Crossing Lodge, Preno’s integration with Stripe is key -  it eliminates the need to input and charge credit cards manually and makes reconciling payments much faster. Preno also builds guest profiles that make it easy to honor special rates for return guests and keep track of their contact details (and other special details such as favourite coffee). Overall, these features enabled the van Dyks to achieve higher occupancy rates, reduce the risk of fraud, and spend more time with their guests instead of handling repetitive back-office tasks as they were previously.   Owls Nest Motel Grew Bookings by 14+ per Week with Preno’s Channel Manager The charming Owls Nest Motel in Piopio, New Zealand is known for its comfortable accommodation and adjacent restaurant, ​​the Night Owl Bar & Eatery. Many guests pop in for a night or longer on their way to or from the region’s stunning natural attractions. Dee Ratima, the manager of the Owls Nest, had used Preno for several months before opting into a trial of Preno’s new channel manager, and she swiftly noticed not only an uptick in bookings after using the channel manager, but her back-office operations became significantly more efficient too. Before using Preno’s channel manager, Dee managed the Owls Nest Motel’s presence on the OTAs manually. She spent at least one hour each day updating prices and availability on the OTAs, and she also had to enter OTA reservations into Preno as they came in. Preno’s channel manager yielded a few exciting results for Owls Nest Motel: Time savings with automatic rate updates: Preno’s channel manager eliminates the need for any manual pricing or inventory updates on the OTAs, and it also enters OTA reservations into Preno’s property management system automatically. This automation saves Dee at least an hour of time each day! More opportunities to generate bookings with real-time availability: Before using Preno’s channel manager, Dee could not open last-minute availability on the OTAs because the risk of getting an overbooking was too great. Now, with the channel manager syncing availability across all OTAs automatically, Dee can keep last-minute availability open and rest easy knowing that the risk of overbookings is minimal. With real-time rates and availability published on the channels, Dee has noticed two or three additional reservations booked per day! More efficient operations and lower risk of human error: With Preno handling the busy work of updating rates and inventory counts on the OTAs and inputting reservation details, Dee can focus her time on her guests. Furthermore, since Dee no longer needs to copy and paste reservation info or rates on the OTAs, the risk of typos or accidentally forgetting to click “save” is gone. In short, not only is Dee saving at least seven hours of time each week by using Preno’s channel manager, the Owls Nest Motel is getting at least 14 incremental bookings per week thanks to Preno’s real-time synchronization with OTAs.   The Burgoyne Saved 60 Hours Per Month With Preno’s Autopilot Software Although The Burgoyne, perched on the edge of Britain’s Yorkshire Dales National Park, was built in 1783, the property has seamlessly adopted 21st-century technology by choosing Preno as their property management system after Ian Hewitt acquired the property in 2018. When you’re taking a stroll around the property’s bucolic grounds or admiring its Georgian architecture, you would have no idea that The Burgoyne’s operations are powered by cutting-edge technology - unless you spot the electric vehicle chargers, perhaps. Prior to implementing Preno, much of The Burgoyne’s back-office work was manual, like inputting credit card information or guest contact info. With Preno’s automation tools, the staff at The Burgoyne were able to eliminate 60 hours of manual admin every month. On a daily basis, the staff would spend about one hour manually copying and pasting credit card information from OTA extranets into their payment processor, and an additional hour sending emails to guests - with Preno, both of these tasks are automated. Preno integrates payment details from the OTAs directly, and its automated email options allow The Burgoyne to send customized messages to guests in an efficient way. The staff now have more time to craft memorable guest experiences at this historic property.   Tasmania’s First Social Enterprise Hotel Saved 3+ Hours Per Day on Administrative Tasks Change Overnight, a hip boutique hotel in Tasmania, provides guests with both a place to stay and a way to give back. This innovative hotel concept partners with nine local and international charities; after booking, guests can choose which charity they’d like to support with a donation. Change Overnight has made incredible contributions since its inception, including donating over 12,000 breakfasts to children in an orphanage. In order for Adelaide O’byrne, Change Overnight’s manager, to carve out time to support the property’s charitable mission, she relies on Preno to do some of the heavy lifting behind the scenes. Since implementing Preno, Adelaide’s team has saved several hours per day on manual tasks. Prior to the implementation, the Change Overnight team had to input all reservation and payment details manually, which took at least two hours per day. Preno eliminates the need for these manual steps because reservations flow into the system automatically. In addition, Preno’s integration with Xero allows Adelaide’s team to streamline their accounting processes, saving at least an additional hour per day. In addition to the time savings, Adelaide can easily advertise her property on additional booking channels with Preno, so that more guests have the opportunity to stay at the property and give back.   Ready to Automate Your Hotel Operations Like These Properties? Whether your property is in Australia, Europe, or  anywhere else, you may be faced with challenges like low occupancy, fraudulent bookings, too much time spent manually entering reservation information, or performing inefficient, daily updates on Booking.com or Expedia. Preno addresses these specific needs of independent hoteliers. The system is designed to be a time-saver; not only do its automated features free up time by inputting reservation information or updating OTAs for you, but its interface is easy to use, so you don’t need to dedicate hours and hours learning how it works. While these automated tools help you run your hotel on autopilot - the software is packed with features like customizable email templates that help ensure you can stay in control of the personal touch you provide along each step of the guest journey. If you want to increase your occupancy rate, decrease the hours spent on busy work, reduce the risk of fraud and manual errors, and boost guest satisfaction and review scores, Preno can help you move the needle on all of these metrics.    This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months 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. Hub OS launched 'DND' and 'Make up Room' statuses for Guest Touch.  The system now also allows hotel guests to set their rooms into 'Do not disturb' or 'Make up room' statuses on their own mobile device by scanning a QR Code in their room.  This provides added convenience for guests while helping hotels more efficiently allocate staffing resources. 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. Cendyn adds DIY content management to eLoyalty. Cendyn’s eLoyalty now puts customers in the driver’s seat to seamlessly manage and control the content that’s served to their members with a full-service loyalty solution for any type of hotel or hotel brand.  Prior to this update, eLoyalty had static workflows for serving content to loyalty members but now hoteliers can log into a CMS to create different pathways and serve different content journeys or offers based on characteristics of various segments within the loyalty program. 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.

Cover image

The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2022)

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

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

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Preno Review: Hotel Management Software that Puts Independent Properties on Autopilot

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

It’s not always easy to choose a property management system (PMS) when there are a variety of options out there. But picking a PMS is one of the more important and impactful decisions you will have as a hotel manager. The right technology can help you achieve your business goals, and the wrong system can add tedious (and often stressful, unnecessary) work for your accommodation - which might result in a less than ideal guest experience. In this article, we’ll walk through the features and functionality of Preno’s hotel management software that is helping independent hotel operators automate time-consuming daily tasks.  In addition to Preno's core property management system that is perfect for independent hoteliers, Preno's all-in-one hotel software suite also includes a channel manager and booking engine.   Preno’s Automations are Designed to Save You Valuable Time Let’s take a look at the various modules that owners, managers, and staff would use on a daily basis.   Reservation Management The reservation page is intuitively designed and straightforward; on this page you can see all information pertaining to a given reservation, like the guest’s name, contact info, payment method, and communication history. The interface is clean and easy to read, meaning that even a front desk agent with no experience will be able to learn the system in 20 minutes - with free training provided.     Payments and Accounting are a Total Breeze with Preno Also on the reservation page, you’ll find secure credit card information and payment history associated with that specific booking and guest. When a guest books on your property website using Preno’s booking engine, credit card info will flow into Preno via a powerful integration with preferred payment gateway app ‘Stripe’ Guest credit card details will be safely and securely stored on their individual profiles.  For security, all details are encrypted via the Stripe API, and storage is fully PCI compliant, meaning that guest data can never be leaked or lost. Unlike booking engines that simply pass the credit card number through to the PMS, the integration with Stripe automatically validates the card so that the guest cannot use an expired or invalid card. Multiple credit cards can be stored on the same guest profile, which comes in handy when a guest charges their room rate to a corporate card for the room but uses their personal card for incidentals, for example. Cards can be stored against guest profiles for returning stays, ensuring an excellent guest experience.      From the reservation page, you can click a button to automatically generate a nicely formatted invoice, thanks to a leading integration with accounting software Xero. This feature can save time and ensure accuracy as it's not necessary to log into a separate system to generate invoices and double-handle data.     When funds are collected as a deposit, Xero classifies the funds as a current liability on your balance sheet, which allows accounting staff to easily see how much revenue is actualized versus just taken as a deposit - this also ensures that taxes are paid at the right time.     Calendar View Options Preno offers a wealth of view options, to view your hotel dashboard and calendar:: by reservation status, payment status, repeat guests, and groups. Each of these views provides valuable insights for front desk staff at a glance.     The “Group” view highlights all reservations associated with a group. The “Guests” view marks all repeat guests with a star. The “Payment Status” view shows which reservations are fully or partially paid, plus which ones have not been paid at all. Also highlighted are those who have invoices against their account.   Reservation Creation Hotel staff can quickly create a new reservation by clicking on an available date on the calendar. When entering the guest’s name, Preno will highlight potential matches from your guest database so that saved guest profile data, like contact and payment info, can be used again. This historical data is valuable, and Preno can import up to 3 years of reservation history if you switch to Preno from different software.     If you receive many group bookings, Preno has features that support splitting and merging reservations with a couple of clicks. This is a super cool and unique feature we haven’t seen in many other PMS systems. Splitting a booking allows you to assign individual rooms within the same booking to their own invoice. For instance, if a corporate travel manager booked several rooms for employees traveling for a conference, but the employees need receipts with their own names on them to get reimbursement, the booking can be split. Conversely, Preno can combine separate reservations into one bill, for instance, if several family members book their own rooms but one person is responsible for payment.   Real-time Housekeeping Coordination with Just a Few Clicks On the Housekeeping dashboard, you can see clean rooms prioritized by time and urgency – starting with turnovers, then departures, stayovers, arrivals, and special requests. The room status is shown in real-time, housekeeping staff can mark a room as “clean” from any device and it will show live updates on the grid.  Preno also enables bulk room status updates in case a room attendant wants to finish a floor and mark it as complete to save time, for example.     Preno logs all room status updates, so you can see the change history of a specific room.   Easy to Use Rate Management Interface The rate module allows you to create and edit rate plans and add restrictions to certain rooms types and/or dates. You can enter rates manually in Preno or in a connected channel manager.  Preno has its own channel manager and also supports integrations with SiteMinder and Staah. Preno also has its own channel manager to streamline vendor billing and relationships.  If you’d prefer not to manage rates manually, Preno integrates with the revenue management system RoomPriceGenie.     Preno supports several restrictions, including minimum length of stay, closed to arrival, and closed departure. Closed to arrival and closed to departure restrictions can be used to control check-ins and check-outs on high-demand dates - a feature that more basic property management systems might not support. It’s also possible to create derived rate plans, such as promotional rates, which automatically apply a discount to your base rate.   Intuitive Reporting for Real-Time Insights Preno has a variety of reports that allow you to not only view historical and on-the-books performance, but also to input your own goals to monitor progress. For example, on the Revenue report, you can enter your target revenue for each month of the year, then you can track how you’re pacing toward those targets. You can set custom data ranges and customize certain reports to export and share or analyze the data further.     Additional reports show production by source (OTAs, corporate accounts), reconciliations, and chargebacks (available through Preno’s integration with Lightspeed POS).   Preno is a Powerful Hotel Management System for Independent Operators Who are Tired of Manual Administrative Work Preno is a solid property management system for small to medium sized boutique hotels with on-site management. The system works best for hotels with up to about 250 rooms and the fact that Preno has developed an all-in-one suite enables hoteliers to consolidate vendor relationships and software expenses. Preno has an abundance of tutorial videos and help center articles to guide you.  Preno is a great choice for hoteliers who are looking to upgrade a legacy system to something more modern, or for properties who want a reliable rock solid partner but don’t need the laundry list of features that come with expensive systems designed for large multi-property enterprises. Preno is so good that they don’t even lock clients into contracts. You can get started today and literally cancel whenever you’d like. So what are you waiting for?   This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.

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Systemize the New Standard of Hotel Housekeeping with Hotel Management Software

by
Sarah Duguay
4 months ago

Cleanliness has always been a top concern for hotel guests but with the arrival of COVID-19, even hotels that already had high housekeeping standards had to kick it up to the next level. Due to a combination of government protocols and guest expectations, an elevated level of cleanliness now must be maintained in order to remain competitive. After a year of endless pivots, the work isn’t over for hotels as travel opens up again. The good news is that hotel technology is here to help streamline and systemize your housekeeping operations with checklists, mobile reports, and front desk integrations, allowing you to come up for air and manage your housekeeping team more efficiently.   High Housekeeping Standards as Crisis Control Gone are the days of white-gloved hands running along ledges checking for dust. Surface cleans have been replaced with deep cleans and guests are savvy enough to know the difference. Housekeeping standards have always been important to guests. According to J.D. Power’s 2020 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index—which used feedback from 37,843 guests in the U.S. between May 2019 and March 2020 (ahead of the pandemic industry impact)—the top driver of guest satisfaction is room cleanliness. As COVID-19 spread in 2020, the bar was raised again as hotels globally introduced new housekeeping standards. This wasn’t only about cleanliness, but crisis control. Big names in the industry not only developed their own protocols but branded them too, such as Hilton’s CleanStay and Hyatt’s Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment.   Hotel Tech for a Systems-based Approach to Hotel Housekeeping As a hotelier, you’re required to juggle guest expectations, labor resources, and changing government protocols. As travel returns to near-normal levels, how will you meet demands? With a systems approach, aided by hotel technology.  “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems,” says James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. While housekeeping is a physical task, it begins in the back office on paper (or computer screen, rather). Start by referring to your national hotel cleanliness regulations and COVID-19 protocols, whether you need to develop new standards or revamp old ones. Take inspiration from major brands now that they have shared their commitments online and develop a housekeeping strategy and checklist that your hotel can implement. How do you transform your housekeeping strategy into a repeatable system for success? By using up-to-the-minute housekeeping software that’s integrated with your property management system (PMS).    Front Desk Integration PMS-integrated housekeeping software streamlines internal communications for improved productivity and guest service. As room status is updated on the housekeeping report, room status is automatically updated within your reservation system, keeping front desk staff informed of which rooms are ready for arriving guests. When rooms require extra attention or guest requests come through the front desk, tasks can be scheduled, maintenance alarms can be set, and housekeeping can be alerted—all in one spot. Mobile Housekeeping Reports Mobile housekeeping reports boost productivity and cut paper and printing costs by allowing housekeepers to update room status in real-time from their mobile devices as they work. Housekeeping staff can refer to their device to know which rooms need servicing next, view occupancy status, and to view or add housekeeping notes. Management can oversee housekeeping schedules and track progress wherever they are, by accessing the housekeeping report on their phone or tablet. Housekeeping Checklists Trade-in your clipboard with a pencil on a string for digital checklists within your housekeeping software. Armed with a mobile device, housekeeping staff can track and log room cleaning tasks as they go. Look for software that allows you to customize checklists by room type and to drill down to the details by breaking checklists down by sections and adding task descriptions to ensure high standards are maintained. Whether staff is new or seasoned, nothing will go amiss with housekeeping checklists in place.   Implement a Culture of Cleanliness  Knowing that cleanliness is a top driver of guest satisfaction and amidst the landscape of the pandemic, it’s time to institute a culture of cleanliness. Why? Because guest satisfaction results in 1) good reviews, which results in new bookings; and 2) guest loyalty and repeat bookings. In the aftermath of the pandemic, a high level of cleanliness is a matter of safety and public responsibility—not only for guests but for your employees, too! Consistent cleanliness protocols based on regulatory standards, coupled with clear expectations, efficient systems, and communication is also a recipe for employee retention. A culture of cleanliness at your hotel is not a goal, but a system that’s repeatable, measurable, and trackable. A robust cloud property management system with versatile housekeeping management tools will help you streamline your high standards to get you through the pandemic and beyond.  

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18 Must-Have Features of a Hotel Management System

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Choosing a hotel management software system is like buying a car: it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of options, and it can be difficult to find trusted advice about the PMS features you need most. “There’s often a misconception in business software that one size fits all. Every hotel has very specific needs based on property size, chain scale, geography, and dozens of other variables. On top of that, every owner or manager has their own preferences in terms of design, usability, and support.  It is absolutely critical to narrow down the problem you’re trying to solve to engage with PMS vendors, and ensure you aren’t being sold on things that your property doesn’t need” says Amelia Gain, CEO of popular Hotel PMS company Preno. Hotel industry veterans often use the analogy of a duck on a lake to describe hotel operations.  Above the surface, the duck appears calm and collected, but under the surface its legs are kicking furiously. Guests are often stressed with their own travel plans, or are trying to escape stress altogether during their holiday, so it is critical for staff to appear calm and relaxed regardless of the hustle and bustle. Technology is one of the key tools that hoteliers leverage to make operations appear effortless to guests, and hotel management software is the single most important system in the entire hotel. Whether you work at an independent bed and breakfast or a global hotel chain, your hotel management system is the nucleus of your property. Nearly every member of a hotel team must access the PMS to perform daily tasks. Guest service staff need to prioritize hotel rooms that must be cleaned for early VIP arrivals. Sales & event management professionals need to block off rooms for groups. Hotel managers need to access the system for data and operating insights. Hotel management system vendor selection is one of the most important and difficult decisions a hotel operator will ever make. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what to look for so that you can make informed technology decisions for your property.   The Most Essential Hotel Management Software Functionalities Let’s start with the basics. These features are true must-haves for any modern hotelier who wants to use technology to improve the guest experience, make back office operations more efficient, and build lasting relationships with guests. Intuitive & easy-to-use interface: A user-friendly interface is the most important factor when choosing mission-critical software for a hotel. If your hotel software is complex and confusing, more mistakes will be made, costing you more money. Common tasks should not take lots of time and steps, as this slows down your team and limits your ability to grow quickly – hence the need for a powerful hotel management software system. Mobile & tablet optimised: When your manager, housekeeping team, and other staff members need to check details on a booking quickly they shouldn’t have to rush back to the office. Any system you use must not only be accessible by, but also optimized for use on mobile phones and tablets. Better yet, your owner should be able to check performance while on holiday. Clear visibility of the grid: Adding special events that are happening in the region, highlighting returning guests, and identifying guests who are yet to pay their bill are all features your grid should enable by default. Your grid should allow you to quickly & easily see key information about your guests. Guest profiles: Are you working on building guest loyalty? Guest profiles store your guests’ contact information, stay history, and even preferences, so that you can deliver a more personalized experience during their next stay. Better yet, a guest profile with stored CC’s of your guest will make it even easier for returning guests.  Email automation: You can communicate with guests and reduce manual work for your staff by deploying personalised, customised, and automated emails. Using your own templates, automated email functionality allows you to build a communication journey from the initial booking to targeted offers for repeat guests. Housekeeping management: Your PMS should allow your housekeeping team to mark rooms as clean, dirty, or out of order. Having this information in one central place gives the front desk visibility of room statuses, so that they can accommodate early check-in’s and room moves without needing to radio the housekeeping supervisor.     Reservation management: Perhaps the absolute most essential PMS feature is reservations management and front office features. By housing all of your reservations digitally, hoteliers can make a paper reservation book a thing of the past. Within reservations management, you should be able to set rates, control availability, offer promotions, and visualize reservations on a calendar. Room management: The room management module of a PMS is like your virtual front desk. This functionality lets front desk agents check guests in and out, and cancel or extend reservations with just a few simple clicks. Group bookings/reservations: If your hotel plans on hosting any type of event or group of guests, then group reservations functionality is crucial. Group reservation features include allowing guests to book reservations within the room block, exporting a room list, and configuring billing settings so that you can bill one account for multiple rooms. Invoicing: When most guests check out, they want a copy of their bill, so, your PMS should be able to easily export guests’ folios that contain all charges from their stay. Similarly, you’ll want solid, straightforward financial reporting that helps you reconcile revenue and expenses from room revenue, outlets, vendors, and more. Payment processing: Gone are the days when guests paid with cash or cheque, so you’ll want a PMS with a payment processor integration that allows you to effortlessly charge guests’ credit cards and have secure access to major payment gateways. Business intelligence & reporting: How do you know if your hotel is doing well if you can’t measure your performance? A PMS with robust reporting features will give you insight into your revenue, ADR, RevPAR, and a slew of other metrics so that you can find opportunities for growth – and track your progress toward your goals. Rate management: Do you want to offer a non-refundable rate or value-added packages? If so, you’ll want rate management functionality that allows for multiple, customizable rate plans.     User logs & permissions: With so much turnover in the hotel industry, it is important to keep front-line staff accountable with detailed user logs to have an automated record in case of any mistakes, as well as to ensure proper training and issue resolution. Additionally, we are living in a world where consumers demand heightened security, so it is critical that staff are only able to access the parts of the hotel management system required to complete their core tasks without unnecessarily accessing sensitive information like credit card data.   Key Software Integrations to Supercharge Your Hotel Property Management System A PMS is an important software partner in its own right, but running a hotel is very complex, which usually means that more feature functionality will be needed than a PMS can provide.  For that reason, some of the most important PMS features are actually software integrations with other key systems to unlock more value and performance through real-time data sharing and triggers. Let’s explore some of the most critical PMS add-ons. Accounting software: Accounting is an ever-changing, complicated industry, and you don’t want to be stuck with software that is out of date when rules change. As such, you should look for software that has robust and complete integrations to the world leaders of accounting software like Xero. This will empower you to streamline your invoicing, reconciliation, commission payment, and billing processes and automate repetitive tasks to help your finance department run more smoothly. “Whether you’re tracking agency commissions or configuring payment policies for groups – it is vital for hotels of all sizes to have a seamless integration between their property management system (PMS) and hotel accounting software. Why? It saves countless hours of tedious administration via automation,” says Preno’s CEO, Amelia Gain. Point-of-sale system integration: If your hotel has a restaurant, bar, spa, or other outlets, then an integrated POS can do wonders for your operations. When your POS can talk to your PMS, guests can seamlessly charge purchases to their room, and you can keep a record of guest purchasing activity to analyze trends and personalize future loyalty offers. Channel manager: Do you work with third-party channels like Booking.com and Expedia? If so, you’ll need a channel manager to push your rates and availability to these platforms, and more. In return, it will send reservations back to your PMS to capture more hotel bookings. A channel manager can also prevent overbookings by syncing with your PMS since it will know when to turn off distribution as a certain room type gets sold out. Channel manager software solutions are also important for hotels to optimize the allocation of rooms across channels and to ensure maximum profitability.   Booking engine: Allow guests to book directly with you, with no expensive commissions. An online booking engine, which publishes your rates and availability to your website, collects the necessary information from guests, and creates reservations in your PMS. Looking for more advice and information on hotel management systems? Download Hotel Tech Report’s 2022 Hotel Management Software Buyer's Guide to inform your vendor search.   This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.

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The 9 Most Futuristic High Tech Hotels in the World

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 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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The 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

Each year Hotel Tech Report surveys thousands of industry insiders to find the best hotel tech jobs and employers globally. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the hotel industry.  The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 121 million of the 330 million jobs tied to tourism around the world will be lost in 2020.  Despite existential challenges, hotels and their vendors have proven resilient in the face of the biggest challenge ever posed to the hospitality industry by working together. But there’s always opportunity in crisis.  The pandemic has advanced digitization in the global economy by at least 5 years according to most experts.  Hotels that already had adopted technology like contactless check-in and guest messaging software have had a massive advantage since the pandemic broke out and the importance of technology for running a successful hotel business will continue to rise over the coming years meaning that demand for hotel technology talent will grow with it. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we’ve interviewed countless hoteliers about their journeys from being hoteliers into lucrative technology careers like Del Ross, Marco Benvenuti, Sameer Umar, and Kevin Brown. For hoteliers furloughed on the sidelines, there is an unprecedented opportunity to pivot into a technology career leveraging skills and knowledge from hospitality experience.   But which hotel tech companies should you apply to? Every year we do the hard work for you and survey thousands of hotel tech professionals to find the best companies to work for in the hospitality industry. We ask respondents to rate their employers from 1-10 on these key variables:  Work-life balance Personal development opportunities Gender equality Confidence in company direction Values alignment 2021 Bonus Question: Rate your firm’s COVD-19 crisis response Hotel Tech Report creates this list each year for two reasons: (1) to help industry professionals find the best hospitality tech jobs and (2) to help hotel tech buyers understand that it’s just as important to partner with great organizations as it is to find great software tools and products. Vendor culture is important to every aspect of a vendor relationship: Product: Great workplaces attract the best talent who make the best products Customer Support: Happy client reps give better service and stay around longer developing deeper relationships. Sales: When a sales team has high turnover, innovation gets strangled because there isn’t enough cash coming in the door to invest in innovation. Our 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech list features companies who foster wonderful work environments for employees.  In return, those employees deliver incredible products and services to clients. Without further adieu here are 2021’s 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech…     10. Siteminder (TIE) Right before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, industry leader Siteminder reached an incredible milestone earning itself unicorn status.  Under the stewardship of CEO Sankar Narayan the firm quickly composed itself when the pandemic broke out and began rolling out initiatives to support both employees and customers like its World Hotel Index sharing real-time data with the industry when historical data just wouldn’t cut it.  Siteminder has an internal slack channel called #stayingsocial dedicated strictly to team members having a social communal space in the age of remote work.  This is pretty typical for a small startup but much rarer in the world of 700 employee behemoths.  The great part about working at a large startup-like Siteminder is that there’s almost limitless upward mobility according to one employee working in operations at the firm, “They allow me opportunities to take on more responsibilities that are even beyond my scope to develop my skills and prep me up for bigger roles. They also give leadership training to enhance to continue developing my capabilities.”  If you’re looking for a fast-paced global startup on a world domination path - then you should absolutely be dropping a resume at Siteminder.  The best part is that they’ve got offices all around the world so even if you prefer the WFH life your colleagues shouldn’t be too far away no matter where you call home.     10. Atomize (TIE) This is Atomize’s first time making Hotel Tech Report’s annual Best Places to Work list but we doubt it will be their last.  In true Swedish fashion Atomize rates amongst the highest on the list for gender equality with a 50% ratio of men to women on its leadership team.  Atomize also rates very highly for culture alignment with a score of 97.8%.  Perhaps the biggest standout for Atomize was how highly employees rated the firm’s COVID-19 response and support for clients during a crisis.  “Everyone from finance to product development has chipped in to try to support clients. We have for instance developed a relief-program for those that are hurting really bad, we have updated the product to amend for the large drop in occupancy for hotels, etc,” one Atomize executive told Hotel Tech Report.  Atomize made it through COVID-19 without a single layoff which is a testament to the longevity of the business and its and commitment to team members.  During the crisis Atomize stayed calm, launched the 2.0 version of their core RMS product, and even found time to bring the team together for a BBQ this summer during a slow down in transmission rates.     9. Hotel Effectiveness Georgia (the U.S. state not the country) based Hotel Effectiveness is in the business of helping hotel owners more efficiently manage labor but the question is: how well do they manage their own labor? It turns out they do a pretty darned good job at fostering internal culture.  Prior to the pandemic labor costs were the biggest focus area for most hotel ownership and management groups - despite the shift in focus Hotel Effectiveness managed to grow through the pandemic all while placing a heavy emphasis on quality of life for employees.  Team members cite a high percentage of employees being groomed from junior roles into leadership positions, flexible PTO programs, and strong opportunities for women.  PTO is great but Hotel Effectiveness management goes one step further where they encourage team members to completely unplug and not even check email during their vacation.  Adding icing to the cake, employees raved about the firm’s response to COVID-19 where it was able to grow without any layoffs needed.  One engineer raved about the Company’s COVID-19 response, “Hotel Effectiveness immediately shifted priorities specifically to address the changing needs of our clients. Hotel Effectiveness provided new guidance materials, payment options, and built new features (such as Daily Wellness Check-In) under tight deadlines to meet the new needs of our customers.”     8. EasyWay Big congrats to the first-ever Israeli startup to make this list!  If you’ve ever been to Tel Aviv or the Start-up Nation (Israel), perhaps a job interview with EasyWay is the excuse you needed to visit one of the most amazing cities in the world packed with beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a foodie scene that’s truly in a league of its own.  EasyWay is the quintessential startup with a mentality that so long as you hit your KPIs - the rest of your life is totally flexible.  An EasyWay executive’s quote to Hotel Tech Report about the last 12-months at the company says it all, “The work around the clock in the COVID-19 time was crazy.  We have developed so much stuff, that I almost miss this period. We've learned a lot from that, and staid on our feet! The rest of the team was great and it really gave me confidence in my own abilities.  If you're the kind of person who likes to work hard and play hard - you’d be wise to check out EasyWay’s open positions.      7. Asksuite This is Asksuite’s second year making the list and true to their commercial team’s motto “rockets don’t have reverse”, even a pandemic couldn’t slow down this high flying Brazilian startup.  Florianopolis may not be a hotel tech hub (yet) but the Asksuite team has access to lessons in language, hospitality and other training to upskill their way into global domination.  During the pandemic, leaders have made themselves available for 1:1 meetings to support all colleagues and perhaps it’s this close communication that leads Asksuite employees to rate 98% confidence in the future success of the firm.  Asksuite employees frequently cite an onboarding process that makes all team members feel like a part of the family in short order.     6. RoomRaccoon Despite the pandemic RoomRaccoon doubled the firm’s headcount in 2020 and achieved a major milestone in reaching 1,000 clients.  Employees frequently cite similar aspects of the culture as differentiators like their annual international week at the Netherlands headquarters and an inclusive onboarding program.  One employee within the marketing department told Hotel Tech Report, “This year RoomRaccoon decided to start hiring more new colleagues against the market trend of furlough and letting people go. To smoothen the onboarding process of our new hires we've created an E-learning program and two intensive onboarding weeks. So far we've onboarded 15 new hires since July 2020 that immediately are getting results. Something I'm really proud of!”  If you’re looking for an ambitious organization with a strong remote culture and complementary annual trips to the Netherlands - don’t hesitate and check out open listings at RoomRaccoon.     5. Alliants The Alliants story is the cure to the common venture funded business gone wrong story.  Alliants built the business developing custom software for ultra luxury hotel brands like Four Season and Jumeirah before ever dipping their toes into the SaaS world.  That means they’ve got killer products, an eye for design and engineering to back it up.  Starting in a consultative role for luxury brands has afforded Alliants a luxury not many early stage SaaS products have - cash flow.  How would this impact you when you apply for a role there?  Alliants employees are given a $5,000 stipend to invest in their own education and training.  Whether it’s a paid marketing course or intro to Ruby on Rails - at Alliants you will be able to create your own journey and take control of your destiny.  Have you ever had a boss block your calendar so people can’t book meetings with you? Well, Alliants employees have.  During winter months with less daylight, CEO Tristan Gadsby blocked the entire team’s calendars from 11:30am - 1:30pm to encourage team members to get outside, walk or simply catch some rays.  If that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will.     4. ALICE This ain’t ALICE’s first rodeo, well it’s their fourth if we want to be precise about it.  ALICE has made Hotel Tech Report’s Best Places to Work list 4 years in a row (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021).  ALICE is an incredible place to work for former hoteliers because employees truly act as a strategic extension of their partner properties.  During the pandemic, ALICE quickly pivoted to rollout closure checklists and other free assets to help partners quickly reconfigure their operations for the new normal.  “The most memorable achievement while working at ALICE this past year was being able to provide support for our employees during the pandemic. The pandemic-related fatigue and anxiety impacted everyone and in different ways. We were able to provide support to our employees through group therapy sessions, health and wellness initiatives, increased one-on-one check-ins regarding fatigue, increased opportunities for learning and connection with one another virtually. I am so proud of how the leadership at ALICE has led us through the most difficult time in our industry's history, and with such care for both our customers, our industry as a whole, and our employees,” says one ALICE team member in an HR role.  Just as important as supporting clients through COVID-19 is supporting colleagues.  ALICE team members were constantly comforted that management understood the stress and challenges they were facing during this historic yet tragic year, encouraging an environment of transparency and honesty about how to cope with natural distractions from work in times of stress.     3. hotelkit Austria-based hotelkit is another repeat visitor on this list moving up from 4th to 3rd place.  Founded in 2012 by hotelier Marius Donhauser, hotelkit is a majority female-run business that’s growing rapidly but responsibly throughout Europe.  hotelkit’s team motto is “one team one dream” and while the team had to work remotely for a good portion of the year, colleagues are hopeful that 2021 will bring back the annual hotelkit Christmas party famous for great eats and poker.  Under Marius’ leadership, hotelkit has fostered a culture that feels like family so it’s no wonder that employees rate the culture so highly across every single vector.     2. Cloudbeds Cloudbeds may be the fastest-growing hotel tech company right now so while their headquarters are in sunny San Diego the Company has got Silicon Valley energy pumping through its veins.  Not to mention, Cloudbeds is extremely global with local managers in 40 countries. On March 11th (yes that’s right when COVID-19 took the world by storm) Cloudbeds announced the closing of an $80M funding round.  Cloudbeds employees tend to share two main things in common: (1) they are extremely performance-driven and (2) they LOVE to travel. One Cloudbeds employee within the operations department told Hotel Tech Report, “I managed to get promoted on my 1 anniversary day at Cloudbeds, I was so happy and everyone was so attentive to me during this process. Cloudbeds is an amazing company, full of amazing individuals, it's so nice to see the owners in our calls and engaged with us all at all times. I used to think I had worked at good companies, till I met Cloudbeds. This is where I want to stay and grow. It will be hard for any other company to take me from here.”  Cloudbeds has TONS of openings so make sure to browse their career page if you’re in the market.     1. Mews This is Mews’ 3rd year making the list ranking #2 in 2019 and #3 in 2020 - but this is their first year topping the list which is a testament to the strong culture at the firm.  Like most fast-growing companies, the pandemic wreaked havoc on projections and business plans for Mews leading to some difficult decisions needing to be made.  Mews not only came through what was maybe the darkest moment in the history of the hotel industry but came out stronger than ever before.  Mews leadership set a strong course for the business cutting expenses, reorganizing the team, rebranding, focusing on remote deployments, and even making an acquisition.  Quite a busy year - even if things had been normal.  Mews management has created one of those infectious startup cultures that can almost feel cult-like at times often intoxicating entire trade show floors (pre-COVID).  It’s not often that employees at an aggressive high-performance tier 1 venture-backed business get to see their founder dancing through a town hall (affectionately named Mews Con) in a silly costume.  Mews pivoted from hyper-growth mode into a sharp focus on profitability right-sizing the business and is poised to come out of the pandemic far stronger than it went in.  Lots of open roles to check out and we’re sure that list will continue to grow over the coming months.