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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

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

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How Smart-Room Tablets Can Fill in Gaps for a Reduced Staff

by
Pilar Caballero
1 month ago

In 2020, the hospitality industry had to quickly jump on board with mobile platforms as a result of the pandemic requiring a focus on contactless options. After a year of focusing almost exclusively on mobile, the topic on everyone's mind now is the industry-wide staffing shortage. For many hoteliers, conversations around investing in new tech have been put on the back burner in the scramble to address staffing issues. But staffing concerns and contactless tech are not unrelated; in fact, smart-room tablets specifically have a lot to offer reduced staff teams to elevate guest experience and, for properties with mobile platforms, complement existing tech.   The Lean Team’s Perfect Companion First and foremost, a smart-room tablet is an information hub that frees up valuable time for staff. It provides quick communications, service requests, and updates. It can take over the role of compendium and act as an in-room concierge—all while remaining easy to maintain and update. And with tablets creating better staff workflows and saving employee hours, a reduced staff can spend their time attending to in-person needs. Replacing clunky physical compendiums with digital compendiums saves staff from having to manually update information. Instead of needing to print out new sheets and replace them in every room for even a minor update, your staff can add changes at any time, with just a few taps. Beyond that, there’s also a huge potential for new revenue; in-room tablets offer a landing point for high-impact visuals for promotions—if there’s something you want to make sure your guests see, this is the place to put it.   The Always Available, In-Room Helper One problem facing the entire industry in the wake of staffing shortages, is inability to have the same standard of personalized guest experience as when all positions are filled. For hoteliers looking for solutions to add a personal touch to every guest’s stay, tablets can help. It can be as simple as setting a custom greeting to welcome them by name when they walk into their room for the first time. Or, for an even more luxurious experience: putting temperature controls and a digital compendium within an arm’s reach of their bed, offering a dedicated in-room device that can meet their needs any time of the day or night. Both a practical tool and a luxury experience, tablets offer an opportunity for hotels to go above and beyond to impress guests, without adding extra work for staff. And for properties that don’t have an app, the tablet can be a one-stop shop for dining, amenities, service requests, and more. Smart-room tablets provide nearly all of the benefits of an app, while remaining easily accessible to guests and requiring little upkeep from staff.   Meet the Perfect Mobile Companion For properties that do have a mobile platform, tablets offer a more holistic digital experience for guests when they are in their room. As guests continue to become more tech-savvy, dedicated in-room devices for all things information, communication, and control is right up their alley. Mobile and tablets work together to make the guest experience as smooth and simple as possible at every step in the guest journey. It's a better experience, one that facilitates better service and builds guest loyalty. Plus, one distinct and powerful advantage smart-room tablets have over mobile tech is a nearly 99% guest engagement rate.1 One thing you can know for sure when looking to invest in in-room tech: if the tablet is there, guests will use it. So there you have it. Without an app, tablets provide the convenience and communication opportunities of an app plus the extra features exclusive to the in-room experience. And paired with an app, smart-room tablets create a holistic digital experience for both guests and staff. Either way, tablets can help shoulder the burden of having reduced staff while heightening the guest experience overall.    1 Internal INTELITY reporting and customer data, 2021.

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4 Hotel Tech Tools for the Post-Pandemic Travel Surge

by
Sandra Holland
1 month ago

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

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What Will the Future of Hotel Sustainability Look Like?

by
Gregor Herz
2 months ago

Climate change has been in the news again recently with a very stark warning from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They concluded that global temperatures are rising at an unprecedented rate and that this should be considered a “code red for humanity”, according to UN chief, Antonio Guterres.  There have been strong indications that many areas previously thought to be low risk from the effects of climate change are now being affected. Recently, Greece—one of the Mediterranean’s top destinations—experienced the worst wildfires in living memory. Earlier this year, the west of Germany and surrounding countries saw extensive flash flooding and soil erosion that claimed the lives of over 180 people. 150 are still missing. And in Canada and the northwest United States, temperatures reached 49.6C (121.3F). The resulting wildfires and extreme temperatures are together thought to be responsible for over 1000 deaths in the region. Whole towns have been wiped off the map as a result.  With such damning evidence of the consequences of climate change, there are changes that need to be made across all industries. According to the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, 1% of the world’s carbon emissions result from the hotel industry. 1% is a substantial chunk and as tourism continues to grow, this share or the world’s carbon emissions that hotels are responsible for will likely increase. What can hotels do to help contribute to a greener, more sustainable world? We’ve put together 5 ways hotels can become more sustainable in the future.   1. Focus on rewilding  Hotels rely heavily on tourism, and tourism relies heavily on beautiful scenery, wonderful wildlife, and clear oceans. The climate crisis has raised awareness of the need for rewilding. Rewilding means allowing areas of land to be left untouched indefinitely to enable parts of the natural world to regenerate to their former glory. Rewilding doesn’t only increase native fauna and flora, it also helps create carbon sinks that take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. As people try to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, rewilding is an important and cost-effective weapon against global warming. Rewilding also protects regions from natural disasters such as flooding and landslides. The increased legislation binds with the soil to ensure it’s locked in place, and the natural barristers caused by trees and bushes helps reduce the impact of floodwaters that accumulate on land developed by humans. The hotel industry needs to start raising awareness and supporting the rewilding movement if they want to continue to benefit from the pristine scenery that’s so crucial to attracting guests. This includes lobbying for international cooperation on creating rewilding zones around the world on land and in the oceans. Educating guests at hotels on the importance of these initiatives will help drive support for rewilding from the general public, ultimately helping hotel businesses thrive in the future and improve conditions for humans everywhere.   2. Reduce the impact of hotels on the environment Hotels use huge amounts of resources to run their business. Even when there are very few guests staying, the hotel still needs to provide heating, lighting, and restaurant services to guests. These are examples of energy-intensive requirements that hotels always need to provide no matter the number of guests staying at any one time. To reduce their impact on the environment, hotels need to invest in solutions that enable guests to make environmentally-friendly choices during their trips. By offering guests the chance to drive the green revolution in hotels, the perception of the level of service that hotels offer won’t suffer—guests don’t like being told they need to make changes, but if they choose to make them themselves, they’re much more likely to view them favorably. An example of how modern technology can enable guests to make more eco-conscious decisions is SuitePad’s Green Option. Using push notifications the Green Option works much like the traditional “do not clean” sign on the door, but due to its digital format, it actively encourages guests and can notify them of the impact their choice can have on the environment. Some hotels also offer small incentives such as vouchers or free drinks to incentivize guests to make this choice. These types of features will soon start to become more commonplace at hotels as they seek to become more eco-friendly.   3. Rediscovering the staycation The term “staycation” is synonymous with the COVID-19 pandemic, but it could be here to stay. While vacationing locally or within your own country was a good way of helping reduce the transmission of the virus, it’s also an effective way of reducing travelers’ carbon footprint. With hydrogen power aircraft and solar-powered vehicles still a long way off, there’s a real incentive to reduce consumer carbon emissions. One return flight from Europe to the US produces as much carbon dioxide as the average vehicle owner produces from their car in a year. And this problem can’t be sorted with short-haul flights. In fact, short-haul flights are just about the most environmentally damaging way of traveling as airplanes use huge amounts of fuel to get off the ground. If you’re only traveling a few hundred miles, short-haul flights clock up the highest CO2 per mile ratio besides space travel. For hotels, this may mean switching their focus to people visiting from more locally. In places like Europe, this may be stretched to people from other countries that can be easily connected by train. By making tourism more local, the industry can significantly reduce carbon emissions, but it will take input from the airlines, hotel, and restaurant industries to achieve this. The good news is that this may not last forever. Engineers around the world are working on producing much more efficient and eco-friendly forms of travel including solar-powered cars and hydrogen-powered aircraft. Major advances in battery technology have also made electric cars much better than most people thought possible, and if this technology is adapted for airplanes and they are charged using renewably produced electricity, global air travel will enter a whole new, eco-friendly era.   4. Redefining extravagance Some of the most greenhouse gas-producing aspects of tourism are equated with decadence and luxury. Superyachts, for example, contribute a huge amount of carbon emissions and ocean garbage build up in some of the world’s more important ocean ecosystems. Despite this damage being well documented, there is very little currently being done to reduce these contributions, and the demand for chartering superyachts is on the increase. Of course, superyachts are not the only contributing factor, but they are a good example of how the modern superrich lifestyles of many people can contribute to climate change. Instead, there needs to be a shift in what extravagance and luxury really mean. It needs to be cool, exciting, and ultimately, desirable, for hotel guests to notably reduce their impact on the environment. This could come in the form of encouraging them to pay towards charity organizations when they book their vacation, or it could come in the form of making taking the time to actively contribute to rewilding projects while they’re on vacation. Rather than yachting over the world’s most pristine coral reefs,  why don’t we encourage people to take the time to contribute to coral reef rebuilding projects? These kinds of activities need to be prioritized and rebranded as attractive representations of extravagance if we are to help reduce the hotel and tourist industry’s impact on the environment.   5. Moderating business travel Before the pandemic, business travel was a common feature of a globalized business world. But, the increase in the need for video conferencing technology has shown that businesses can significantly cut the need for travel. In the future, businesses will need to make decisions as to whether it’s worthwhile or environmentally sustainable to send staff abroad for business trips when the meeting or conferences they are attending could easily be done online.  The reduction in business travel will also likely have an impact on the demand for business hotels, meaning that many business hotel owners will need to diversify their business to offer services to non-business guests.   Understanding the future of hotel sustainability Hotel sustainability will hinge on using innovative technology, changing attitudes, and moderating expectations. But, with time, new more sustainable travel and hospitality technology will enable hotels to return to operations much like we have today. Until then, it’s imperative that hotels do their bit in trying to reduce their impact on the environment.

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What is VingCard? Exploring Different Models and Alternatives

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Want to install a great locking system for room access control at your hotel? Hotel door locks are one of the most important and underrated features of your property. Guests and employees engage with your door locks every day, and if the lock technology and hardware falls short, it can mean unhappy guests and dissatisfied team members. There are lots of variables around locks.  Technology, security, aesthetics, and more.  Are they minimalistic or do they ruin hallway design? Do they use classic RFID or a card reader? Do they offer contactless check-in options or will keyless entry void the deadbolt warranty?  Electronic hotel locks also need to provide high security for guests who entrust hoteliers.  Even a single breach of security in a hotel room can lead to irreparable reputational harm for a hotel business. In this article, we’ll introduce you to one of the industry’s most popular electronic lock solutions: ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions’ VingCard. In addition to explaining the differences between VingCard’s various offerings, we’ll share some best practices and alternative hotel locks to consider so you can secure a smooth entry experience at each door at your property.   Standard VingCard Models Looking to upgrade from an old magstripe lock system? VingCard’s Signature, Classic, and Flex models offer secure, reliable RFID technology and a modern look without breaking the bank. Let’s explore the benefits and differences between these three options.   VingCard Signature With a small footprint on the door, the Signature model is ideal for hotels that strive for a clean, minimalist look along with a high-tech locking mechanism. In the photo below, you can see that the VingCard Signature component is the small black rectangle above the door handle. This model can be combined with a variety of handle styles for a totally customized look.     Pros: Takes up little real estate on the door, works with many handle options and supports ASSA ABLOY’s Mobile Access system which allows guests to unlock the lock with their smartphone. Cons: Limited functionality besides simple locking and unlocking.   VingCard Classic Like the Signature model, the Classic offers modern RFID technology for seamless unlocking of guestroom or back-of-house doors. Unlike the two-piece Signature, though, the Classic model is just one piece of hardware - the RFID reader, door handle, and keyed lock are housed in one unit - making it an ideal replacement for magstripe locks that take up similar space on the door. This model is compatible with several handle options so you can customize the lock’s appearance.   Pros: Good solution for upgrading legacy magstripe locks, minimal maintenance needed. Cons: Takes up a lot of space on the door, looks clunky.   VingCard Flex Another great option for upgrading legacy locks is VingCard’s Flex lock. The biggest benefit of this one is that it requires minimal modification to the door - no drilling required! This aspect makes installation a breeze and allows you to easily upgrade to a more minimal lock style at a future time. Pros: No need to drill into the door, supports a variety of handle and finish options. Cons: Clunky appearance, takes up a lot of space on the door. Speciality VingCard Models Searching for a lock that pushes the envelope in terms of style and functionality? VingCard offers two upgraded models, Allure and Essence, that may better suit the needs of luxury or design-forward hotels that don’t want to compromise function for fashion - or want some additional high-tech features.   VingCard Allure Combining RFID lock technology with electronic information panels, the Allure lock system is packed with features. The locking mechanism is controlled by an exterior panel, which is positioned on the hallway side of the door and displays information like room number and “do not disturb” status. From an internal panel, guests can tap “do not disturb” or “make up room” buttons so the information shows on the exterior panel rather than hanging a sign on the door. The RFID reader is housed on the exterior panel, and it communicates wirelessly with the door locking mechanism.   Pros: Sleek look, serves as a communication tool in addition to a door lock, variety of LED panel lighting options. Cons: More intensive installation process, more expensive than other lock options.   VingCard Essence For hoteliers who want the most understated look possible, the Essence model tucks the RFID reader within the actual door to eliminate the chunky appearance of a traditional RFID reader. This model supports entry via both RFID keycards and Mobile Access, making it a good choice for guests at all levels of tech-savviness.   Pros: RFID reader works from longer distances than other lock options, clean design. Cons: Small footprint on door makes it less than ideal for replacing magstripe locks.   VingCard Alternatives Don’t see exactly what you’re looking for in VingCard’s offerings? Not to worry; you can find several other reputable companies that specialize in electronics locks for the hospitality industry. Dormakaba’s Saflok locks are worthy competitors of VingCard’s models; the Saflok MT RFID in particular is quite similar to the VingCard Signature and Classic as a replacement for legacy magstripe locks or an entry-level RFID lock.   Pictured: Dormakaba Saflok MT RFID   In addition to the MT model, Dormakaba offers the sleek Quantum RFID and Quantum Pixel, which are similar to VingCard’s Essence in terms of minimalist design. And the feature-packed SR3 offers nearly equal functionality to VingCard’s Allure with separate informative and control panels on the corridor and interior sides of the door.   Pictured: Dormakaba SR3   Like VingCard and Dormakaba, SALTO offers a catalog of electronic door locks that range from purely functional to cutting-edge and stylish. The Ælement Fusion, for example, rivals VingCard’s Essence with its minimalist look and Bluetooth compatibility.      Based on your exact specifications and budget, you may find you prefer one lock vendor over the rest. With the right locks in place, you can unlock seamless guest experiences and reduce poor reviews related to lockouts and security.   Did we miss any of your questions about VingCard locks? Let us know!

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 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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Are Hotels Undervaluing Metasearch?

by
Victoria Sweeney
2 months ago

An email flashes in a hotel marketers inbox. Their Metasearch report for the month has arrived. They hurriedly flash through, glancing at the key metrics with a touch of nervousness. Finally, their eyes rest on one metric in particular—the Return on Ad Spend. They do the calculations on a scrap of paper and let out a sigh of relief. The figure is lower than the commission for Booking.com. Mission accomplished, money has been saved. Within this story is the widely held belief that Metasearch is a direct booking tactic. It is a tool to compete with the performance-marketing-savvy OTAs and push down costs. Knowing that a Meta booking can be cheaper than an OTA booking, hotels run their campaigns until the cost is equivalent to the OTA commission. There is common sense in this strategy. However, we argue in this article that this overwhelming focus on direct bookings misses a key benefit of competing on Meta. It stops a guest from booking a competitor hotel.  This begs the question: how does a comparison of rates help a hotel against its competition? A hotel comparison, sure, but a rate comparison? Is Metasearch not targeting the fabled bottom of funnel traffic that have already decided on a hotel? If the visitor clicks on Booking.com’s link, sure it is a commission booking, but it is still a booking nonetheless. Central to our argument is that a visitor clicking an OTA link often leads to a booking at another hotel, by design. OTAs’ core competitive advantage is their curation of a whole market of hotels. Their function is to compare hotels, suggest hotels, filter hotels, and promote hotels. A single hotel cannot offer the same functions. The OTAs are shameless in (implicitly) communicating this fact.    Take the following example. 1. When you click a Meta link to Booking.com you will not arrive—like on the direct website—in Booking’s “booking engine”. You will not even land on the hotel page. Instead, you land on the search results page, 2 (giant) steps away from starting a booking. In a world of one-click purchases, this is a lot of extra friction. 2. The hotel card makes up only around 21% of the landing screen space and a fraction of the space on the page as a whole. The selected hotel competes with 26 similar listings on this page alone.      “Amsterdam: 477 properties found” is written in a font size that is 15% larger than the hotel name. This is not a mere fact, but perhaps the most important USP of Booking.com. The search box features the strongest colours with its Ikea-esque clash of yellow and blue. Filters, navigation links and (not one but two) map call-outs fill the remaining space.      3. For new visitors, Booking.com even places a tool-tip over the hotel listing to call attention to filters. While we are here, notice that Booking.com now promotes a free taxi ride to win this first time customer (compared to a member who only gets 10% off rental cars).  4. Clicking on “see availability” loads the hotel page in a new tab, this allows a visitor to effortlessly return to the search results rather than go back to Google. Booking.com knows its paying a lot for this visitor and is not going to waste them.     5. Even on the hotel page, the search bar retains its prominent position. A bread-crumb navigation bar highlights links to “Netherlands Hotels”, “Noord-Holland Hotels”, “Amsterdam Hotels” and “Amsterdam City Centre Hotels”.  Notice that the guest isn’t even dropped into the room rates section of the page (that you would expect for a bottom of funnel visitor). Booking.com knows visitors are not fully convinced. Indeed, in our analysis, we see that meta visitors take between 8 and 11 minutes to make a booking (varying by device). That’s not an open and shut case.     6. Curious about the location? If you open the map you are not shown the hotel’s location USPs but are instead barraged with nearby deals.  Booking.com even declares that the 3 closest hotels provide “better value than current property.” That kind of messaging alone should make a hotel uncomfortable with losing clicks to Booking.com.     There are three separate links to the map search on the hotel page alone.      7. Hotels.com goes a step further than Booking.com. When exiting the website they push you to consider alternative hotels.    An accident? OTAs are conversion rate juggernauts. They AB test on a titanic scale. No design decision is by accident. They are carefully calculated moves to capitalise on their strengths (not yours). They communicate subtly, at every step of the way—“do not stop searching.” The implication is that many people who click on an OTA get sucked back into the top of the funnel. Booking.com is shaking the funnel like a snow globe—some snowflakes sink straight back to the bottom (of the funnel), but others will float around landing in all sorts of places. So long as it remains in the Booking.com sphere, they don’t mind.   What does it mean for hotels? When a hotel uses Metasearch and wins a visitor’s click, you are not only reducing costs of acquisition, but you’re also increasing the chance that the visitor will book with you and not elsewhere. By controlling the landing experience, you monopolise the space for your hotel. That is a powerful advantage that shouldn’t be wasted.  

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Here's How Luxury Hotels are Delivering Touchless Guest Journeys with Modern PMS Systems

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a property management system for your hotel business regardless of size but when you’re operating a high end hotel or resort with multiple outlets and other complexities - the challenge becomes even greater. A new property management system quickly becomes the nucleus of your hotel business operations which means it’s critical to be proactive instead of reactive when searching for a new vendor.  Rather than just arbitrarily choosing a vendor shortlist, begin by first mapping out your guest journeys and key touchpoints on property.  Having this on paper helps to clarify the feature functionality and requirements you’ll have which can then form your shortlist. There are lots of PMS products out there but while they share a (category) name, each system is designed for very different use cases and guest journeys.  Some property management systems are designed to be simple and cheap for sole proprietors and owner operators. Other systems are more complex and are designed to meet the needs of large multi-faceted or mixed use operations like luxury resorts and multi-property groups. In this article, we’ll cover the functionality needed to deliver a modern contactless guest journey at luxury hotels and resorts while sharing examples of how these demanding operators are using Maestro PMS features and integrations to map modern guest journeys.   Pre-Arrival: Between Booking and Check-In The guest journey begins before your guests even set foot in your lobby, so it’s essential to deliver a seamless booking and pre-arrival experience. When guests book in advance, there could be months of radio silence between their date of booking and check-in, which is valuable time that your hotel could be building a relationship with that guest. Furthermore, in the post-pandemic travel world, guests want more information about what they can expect when they arrive, so pre-arrival communication is crucial.   Maestro PMS’s mobile check-in module   Many guests will contact their hotel before arrival to confirm their reservation details, ask about amenity hours, book airport shuttles, and more. For example, Maestro’s Pre Check-in online registration functionality allows guests to share details about their arrival plans with the hotel in advance - anticipating their needs. Besides being contactless and efficient, this module can suggest upsell offers, confirm the guest’s contact info, and even arrange transportation to ensure a smooth arrival experience. When your hotel needs to gather more information about guests beforehand, like proof of vaccination, this intermediary step between booking and check-in is a worthwhile element to consider when thinking long-term about the guest journey. In addition to these important arrival details, guests often inquire about payment options - asking whether they’ve already paid, how to pay, and when to pay. Maestro  also offers an Online Prepayment Portal where guests can enter their payment information before they arrive. The system can handle multiple payment methods (making it easy to split payment among several guests) and even process prepayment if guests want to pay in full or put down a deposit. If a guest chooses to pay in advance, the Portal will immediately email a receipt to the guest. If an operation prefers to allow the guest to fully self-serve on their own personal devices, and provide the ability to check in prior to arrival, Maestro also offers a Mobile Check-In application, without forcing the guest to download a third party app (unless mobile key is required).  Guests can skip the front desk, check in to an assigned room number, and be directed via auto sms messaging to pick up their key or download an app to your choice of 3rd party mobile key integration.   Arrival: The Check-In Process Many of today’s guests want a different arrival experience than years past. Gone are the days when a front desk agent hands a guest a snack to enjoy during check-in and a paper registration card with an expensive pen (that might end up as a souvenir!). The modern guest wants a quick, contactless experience that will get them into their room with as little friction as possible. Starting with the registration process, hotels are increasingly going digital. Not only is a digital registration card more eco-friendly, it’s also faster (no printing!) and contactless (no pens!).  For larger luxury operators, digital registration also decreases bottlenecks and check-in/out lines.  It also frees up staff to focus on surprising and delighting guests rather than on performing administrative tasks. “Maestro’s contactless tools, such as online mobile registration, mobile check in, digital registration card, pre-payment portal, mobile express checkout, mobile spa & activities intake forms, and 2-way text messaging for guests are also proving to be invaluable to staff who prefer to put some distance between themselves and guests for personal safety. Adopting the latest mobile check-in tools is next on Benchmark Hotels & Resort’s list of considerations as the company evaluates guest experience demands at its properties,” says Anthony Gaeta, Benchmark SVP of Technology. Benchmark’s guests can easily complete their digital registration card on a tablet via Maestro. Soon, guests will be able to completely self serve on their own personal mobile device and fill in their registration cards before or upon arrival on-property, further speeding up the check-in process and reducing the possibility of errors. If the desire to complete the digital registration process with a mobile key integration is a must-have, there are many options with 3rd party mobile key apps to select from that integrate directly to your PMS.  These would replace traditional keycards, give guests access to guest rooms with their smartphones via high-tech keyless locks and complete the guest self-serve mobile check in experience, limiting the need for physical involvement with the front desk. Your PMS should integrate with popular third-party lock vendors like ASSA ABLOY and Dormakaba to offer keyless access to guest rooms. Not only can a mobile key option deliver a contactless and quicker check-in process, but it can also enhance the guest experience as guests will never need to return to the front desk for help with lost or deactivated key cards. Mobile check-in systems should accommodate rules for room assignment, payment validation, and room status just like those that a front desk agent would use. After completing the check-in process, guests can let themselves into their guestrooms at their convenience.   In-Stay: The Guest Experience and On-Site Operations Every luxury hotel, resort, and serviced condo operator should have guest messaging capabilities. Guest messaging allows your hotel to send text messages to guests and staff in stay. Text messages can be configured to automatically send to guests based on loyalty or VIP status, rate type, and more criteria to develop a personalized and automated communication flow. They can also be extended to allow for guest service fulfillment and maintenance management, creating a full circle experience for both guests and staff in an instant and digitized manner. “We get to know our guests and make their stay special while maintaining distancing. Guest Messaging helps Knob Hill Inn quickly adapt to changing conditions while consistently delivering individualized, top-rated guest experiences. For example, complimentary breakfast is a top feature for Knob Hill Inn guests. With pandemic-related dining room closures, guests were able to text their orders for in-room breakfast,” says Maestro client Alexandia Barnhardt, General Manager of Knob Hill Inn Sun Valley. In addition to guest messaging capabilities, modern PMS systems must integrate key outlets like spa and activities as well as food and beverage point of sale.   Post-Stay: Check-Out and Building Loyalty The check-out and post-stay experience is a critical one if you want guests to leave with good memories of their time at your luxury hotel or resort. When rushing to catch a flight or juggling a lot of luggage, the last thing guests want is to be held up in line at the front desk. Mobile express check-out is a popular hotel amenity today, especially given that the entire check-out process can be easily handled virtually. Self service check-out functionality allows guests to skip the front desk on their departure day, giving them a more relaxed departure experience and requiring less staff resources during busy check-out periods. Guests can review their folios, settle outstanding charges, and send a final bill to themselves via email all in a digital interface. One important component of an in-person check-out experience is gathering feedback about the guest’s stay, and you don’t want to sacrifice those insightful learnings when digitizing your check-out process. Luxury hotels should be thinking not just about Tripadvisor or OTA reviews for marketing purposes but should be gathering satisfaction data throughout the guest journey and based on the guests’ use of amenities and their preferences, in order to adjust service levels and recover any issues before guests even check out. Luxury hotel and resort operators with complex operations and multiple outlets (or properties) should seek out property management systems designed to meet the needs of their operations and guest journeys like the Maestro PMS suite of solutions.   This content was created collaboratively by Maestro and Hotel Tech Report.

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Analytics Powered Digital Collaboration is the Future of Hospitality

by
Sameer Umar
2 months ago

In the last few months, you’ve likely come across articles and online discussions debating the benefits of working from home vs going to the office. The pandemic seems to have convinced many that a drive to the office is not essential to a productive workday. Accordingly, while some companies have already reduced office space, others have their doubts. In the hospitality industry, this conversation gets even more interesting. After all, the human touch is an important factor in the experience we offer our guests. However, strategic roles like finance, revenue management, marketing, and others require more data-driven decision-making than hands-on experience at the property. Yes, it'd be nice to have your entire leadership team meet regularly at the hotel, but in 2021 it’s not essential. We live in a digital world and it’s digitizing even faster thanks to the global pandemic. Hoteliers too have to adapt to this new reality. At the very least, a hybrid approach should be a serious consideration. That said, simply letting people work from home isn’t enough unless there is a reliable mechanism for all of them to gain timely access to hotel data and to collaborate efficiently with each other to take timely action. That’s where you need an analytics-powered digital collaboration platform - a portal or intranet where your strategic teams login to work every day, access a single version of the truth (through automated data integration), share, comment, plan, and track performance.  Let's dive into some of the most important reasons for investing in digital collaboration within your commercial teams.   Employee Morale  According to the latest Deloitte Millennial Survey almost 70% of Millennials and 64% of Generation Z said the option of working from home in the future could relieve stress. Another survey (conducted by the insurance company Breeze) found that 2 out of 3 Americans would be willing to take a 5% pay cut to be able to work from home. Clearly, this is something they feel strongly about and are willing to put their money where their mouths are.   Cost savings The fact that you may be able to find talent at a lower price (by letting them work from home) is a 'nice to have' especially when your business is facing economic challenges. However, over time salaries will go up as working from home becomes more commonplace. Instead, more reliable efficiencies and cost savings can be achieved by centralizing strategic functions wherever possible. Market trends and buyer behavior are likely similar over defined geographic regions. Even if there are fluctuations in different parts of a region, centralized teams armed with analytics and a broader view of the market can respond faster and coordinate better than property-based teams working in their respective bubbles. The important thing is to have a Business Intelligence (BI) infrastructure and a culture of data-driven decision-making within the organization.   Timely Decision Making & Action For years hoteliers have relied on their knowledge of the market and gut feeling. While those still matter, human instincts work best when coupled with timely and reliable intelligence. You need to keep your finger on the pulse so as to avoid any (more) unpleasant surprises. Downloading data into spreadsheets and emailing each other is a good way for people to fill their days but it fails at ensuring the timely realization of opportunities and threats. Not to mention the many different versions of the truth that float around in inboxes thanks to human error and/or differences in the timing of data extraction etc. We live in a world where streaming data and AI are already a part of our day-to-day lives. They should be incorporated into our digital workspace as well.  

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

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