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What Does a Night Auditor Do in a Hotel?

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 days ago

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

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Self Check-in Kiosks For Hotels: 2022 Hotel Kiosk Guide

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 days ago

Are you grappling with a tighter budget at your hotel, a staffing shortage, or changing guest preferences toward contactless options? The hospitality industry is more resource constrained than ever and you're not alone. It can be challenging to deliver a high standard of service when faced with constraints like reduced hotel staff due to rising labor costs. However, the guest experience doesn’t need to suffer if you have fewer employees or less face-to-face interaction. Self-service options like check-in kiosks can bring a slew of benefits to guests, employees, and hotel owners and managers. Everyone knows that first impressions determine the majority of our perceptions about brands and people - the check-in experience is no different and it's highly correlated with overall customer satisfaction. In this article, we’ll explain what a self check-in kiosk can do, how it plays into the contactless hotel trend, and we’ll show you how your hotel can achieve better guest satisfaction scores, higher profitability, and greater productivity by implementing self check-in kiosks.

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Top Hotel Management Software in 2022

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 days ago

During the HotelTechAwards, hoteliers from the world's leading hotel companies review the top tech products used at their hotels to increase operating efficiency, drive revenue, and improve the guest experience. This data is used to identify the best hotel tech products and organizations.

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How to Prepare Your Hotel Budget in 8 Steps

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

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

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5 Techniques to Collect More Feedback and Reviews from Your Guests

by
Andrew Gogus
1 week ago

With most of the world population having access to the internet, it has widely changed how consumers shop for virtually everything. Being able to surf the web and find out information about products/services, has become the common practice before taking any kind of action. This research helps the consumers feel comfortable and confident in the decision they are about to make. The fact is, 90% of consumers read online reviews before choosing a business and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.   Online presence and reputation are among the key factors in providing a constant revenue stream for your property. Online reviews have greatly increased in power while shaping a consumer’s behavior. They provide credibility to the hotel and help the guests make their decisions easier. The more reviews, the better - even the not-so-positive ones because it will give you a definite signal of what needs to be done in order to enhance your guest’s experience. This is one of the reasons that reviews are not only important to guests but to hoteliers. Sometimes it is hard to notice the little mistakes or improvements that need to be done, and that's why when a guest leaves a review on how the hotel can better itself, this can only be beneficial. Good reviews are important to hoteliers also because they provide free marketing. More reviews will boost your online visibility and will help your accommodation show up on higher rankings. That is why you should focus on collecting as many reviews as you can from your guests. This will help keep your reviews up-to-date and establish a deeper sense of trust.  In this article, you will find the latest techniques and some traditional methods to collect reviews from your guests.   Train Your Staff to Interact with Guests No matter how digital the world gets, real-life personal relationships are still and will always be the strongest form of bond between any two people. Train your staff in guest relationships and tell them not to be shy to interact with guests. At the end of the day, this is the hospitality industry. The most important factor is timing - do not try to engage with the guests if they are rushing, busy with something else, or just seem like they’re in a bad mood. The guest relationship is a very important factor especially in the hospitality industry, increasing your positive guest experience will boost your chances of them leaving a review.   Call or Text Guests During Their Stay Just to Check In Carrying out calls to your guests is an important part of your guest’s experience and in collecting more feedback and reviews. Implementing a system where your staff call the guests during their stay and check if everything is ok and if there is anything they need, will make them feel important and will show that you care about them. Along with in-stay calls, placing a follow-up call after the guest has left your property, to reaffirm that everything was satisfactory during their stay, is a good strategy to build your guest relationships and collect additional reviews.   Leverage Low Tech Comment Cards Sometimes old school tactics can be effective, but they are also more time-consuming and costly. Before the internet, this was one of the best ways to get honest feedback from your guests. Trying to design creative and funny cards that will encourage your guests to leave their feedback online and place them in strategic places at your property. You want your cards to be seen after all.   Master Automated Email Marketing Although some people may undervalue the power of emails, it is still the online communication channel that produces the highest ROI and having the right hotel CRM is critical. This is why it is very important for you to have your guests’ email addresses (with their permission of course) and to stay in contact even after they have stayed at your property. Emails save time, money, and are convenient for both the sender and receiver. This is the most efficient way to collect the most reviews. With a guest relationship management product, like the one HotelRunner offers, you can keep in touch with your guests 24/7 and provide immediate solutions to their problems and also send automated emails to your guests post-booking, pre-arrival, in-house, and post-stay. Thus, you can improve the guest experience and ask them to review your property after their stay.   Tap Software with Direct Integrations to Popular Platforms like Google Google is the leading metasearch engine, and with the most searches being done on their website, it is crucial your property has a positive presence. Review count and quality will help your accommodation’s visibility and allow it to show up on a higher ranking. Especially if guests are searching for local hotels, reviews will boost your property’s visibility so it shows up over others. Also, when potential guests search for your hotel on Google or Google Maps, having positive reviews and a high star rating will increase their chance of choosing your property. You can easily increase the revenues of your property by converting all the positive comments and ratings you have collected over time into bookings. The only thing you need for this is an integration that allows you to receive direct bookings via Google and Google Maps. With Google Hotel Ads integration, which you can start with a single click via HotelRunner, you can turn lookers who already have a good impression of your property into bookers.   Using these techniques and collecting more reviews will increase the quality and credibility of your property. As mentioned, not all negative reviews are bad too. It's important to keep an open mind, and understand where your guests are coming from. Learning, understanding, and improving on the negative will greatly improve your future guests’ experience. The key is to highlight your positive guest experiences while taking action on the negative feedback, which will eventually maximize revenue opportunities.  

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Get Smart: Are You Running an Intelligent Hotel?

by
Sean Beardmore
2 weeks ago

There’s no question that, in these unprecedented times, hotels are facing serious challenges. With the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic impacting so much in the hospitality sector – and these effects varying from season to season and, even, month to month – hoteliers are trying to fulfill the needs and desires of loyal and new guests like never before. To remain open and build the seeds of resurgence for when the coronavirus has receded and, mercifully, the pandemic is behind us, owners are coming to the realisation their hotels must become more intelligently-run enterprises. They need to become hotels run as efficiently and effectively as possible – they need to become ‘intelligent hotels’. But what does this mean in practice? What does an intelligent hotel look like? It comes down to the systems implemented and maintained, on a daily basis. It’s about trying to maximise profit by ensuring a hotel offers direct room-booking and that marketing activity and revenue management blend and work together seamlessly – and then using this symbiotic relationship to increase the revenue-per-available room (RevPar) to drive up bottom-line revenue.   Intelligent Advertising So, if you’re seeking to run your hotel more intelligently, where to start? Well, advertising the property and its available rooms in the smartest way possible, direct to potential guests via pay-per-click (PPC) Google Ads, isn’t a bad place to start. This is because it would ensure your available rooms are advertised not just when they become available, but also to exactly the kind of people most likely to book them. Indeed, to run their property ‘intelligently’, then, a hotelier may well seek out top-of-the-range ‘intelligent ads’ software to complement and enhance their PPC activity. Such a solution would be designed to exploit the hotel’s data insights, in order to drive and improve Google Ads performance, by targeting the most likely bookers and so, in turn, maximise room reservations and increase additional spend on services and amenities. Now, if this kind of digital marketing sounds state-of-the-art, that’s because it is. ‘Intelligent ads’ software solutions like this are at the sharp end of room advertising, ensuring hoteliers can reap the rewards of the latest integrated marketing techniques and digital technology. They seek to drive up revenues at a time when the industry’s facing great instability; when hoteliers are seeking certainties to remain competitive, progress and look to the future with confidence instead of mere hope. ‘Intelligent ads’ solutions tend to be automated; you can set them up as you want and leave them to do their thing – confident they’ll get on and do exactly what they should. For instance, once you’ve set the objectives and the spending limits for your PPC campaigns, you can trust the module to run the campaigns without you having to step in, check on or oversee anything. The software doesn’t just target the right audience but also works out the most profitable target keywords, uses them in ad campaigns and – by scouring past market data drawn from previous campaigns – recommends new keywords for use.   A Great Guest Management Platform All that notwithstanding, any ‘intelligent ads’ solution will be enhanced if it’s capable of connecting and interacting with an outstanding guest management system (GMS). Why? Because if the software is fully integrated with a GMS, it means a hotel owner can maximise their data to convert exactly the guests they desire into bookers. So, what does such a comprehensive management system look like? Well, as a fully-GDPR-compliant, all-in-one platform, it will deliver full guest-data-intelligence to hotel owners. It will be capable, too, of interacting with practically any property management system (PMS) and social media platform to enhance its analysing, quantifying, segmenting and predicting of loyal guest behaviour. In essence, then, an ‘intelligently run’ hotel would be making use of a management system that’s really a GMS/ CRM-plus; being able to harness its AI functionality to not just collate guest data but analyse details of guests’ social attributes, stay behaviour and historical spend. In turn, this would provide a hotelier with invaluable knowledge of their core customers, ensuring the platform can aid intelligent-ads in reaching these customers with pertinent, personalised content and offers – thereby converting them into bookers precisely as and when needed. Moreover, from its single, central dashboard an ‘intelligent’ GMS of this kind would take control of messaging. It would manage marketing emails and social media messages to all the hotel’s followers, as well as analyse these followers. It would create and send out personalised surveys to all or specific guests – before, during and after their stays. Plus, it would enable hoteliers to analyse guest reviews and respond to these reviews – not just on social media accounts/ platforms but also on much-used hotel review sites – thus, making sure they can fully manage their hotel’s online reputation.   A Brilliant Booking Engine Finally, to operate as an ‘intelligent hotel’, a property has to be backed up not just by an outstanding GMS and be able to fire off intelligent ads, but also exploit the advantages offered by a brilliant booking engine. Why? Because a guest’s experience with a hotel doesn’t begin when they walk through the front door and stroll through the lobby to the front desk; it starts far earlier. A guest experience begins as soon as they start to book a room at the hotel – it starts with their experience of that hotel’s booking engine. No hotel can be run intelligently unless it’s using a top-of-the-range booking engine. Such a booking software solution, then, delivers exactly what hotel owners require. Offering exceptional tools and features, it can be customised to fit a hotel’s brand needs. A fully-functional booking engine like this ought, too, to be fast-operating and easy-to-use; designed to provide a consistent experience on hotel websites that appeases customers and makes them far more likely to book direct rather than through an OTA (without redirections or pop-ups). It’s all about building loyalty among guests and, therefore, maximising conversions. Moreover, a state-of-the-art booking engine will enable customers to compare room prices with those offered by online travel agents (OTAs) – when the room price available is cheaper than those offered by OTAs. Plus, being able to integrate with hotel marketing/ management platforms, it should help hoteliers better understand and engage their guests, so they can gain insights to improve overall guest experiences, drive up ancillary revenues and boost direct booking revenues.   Conclusion Without doubt, the world – and, by extension, the hospitality sector – is going through unprecedented changes. Yet, with or without the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re living in the digital age and, with that, comes rapid advancements and opportunities. For hoteliers, that means taking full advantage of the chance to deliver and increase direct hotel bookings and boost revenues, thanks to integrated hotel management platforms, intelligent marketing/ ad campaigns and customisable booking engines. Should they not do so, hotel owners will lose ground to rivals in these uncompromising, unpredictable times. Put simply, every hotelier should join and fully prosper from today’s digital age – by making their hotel an intelligent hotel.  

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Identifying the Top Cybersecurity Risks to Your Business in 2022

by
Michele Mott
1 month ago

With business reputations, consumer confidence, and revenues at stake, cybersecurity risks continue to represent a major concern for any organization regardless of their size or industry focus. Estimated to cost businesses up to $10.5 trillion annually in damages by 2025, cybersecurity threats are only increasing in number and are becoming more sophisticated as hackers discover more effective ways of exploiting network and system vulnerabilities. For hospitality-based businesses in particular, each year seemingly brings a new record in the frequency of attacks alongside the discovery of previously overlooked vulnerabilities. With sensitive hotel and guest data representing a high-value target for hackers seeking financial gain, hoteliers unfortunately can only expect attacks to increase in both volume and level of creativity. This first part of a blog series on cybersecurity focuses on identifying the top threats that hoteliers and their guests are increasingly at risk of encountering. Only by continuously educating themselves on the latest tactics used by hackers can today’s hospitality businesses begin to understand how their various systems need to evolve to maintain effective protection at all times.        Understanding the Rising Threat of Ransomware An increasingly common attack performed against hotels, and among the costliest, is the use of ransomware to wreak havoc on property operations and services. As a form of malware that is typically uploaded to hotel systems by spamming employee emails or with the downloading of infected files from websites, ransomware results in a hacker being able to encrypt business data to prevent access without an encryption key. This leads to hackers being able to hold hotel operations hostage with employees unable to perform a range of essential tasks - from unlocking guestrooms to processing payments. Once crippled, a hotel is then given the option to pay a ransom in order to receive the encryption key that allows them to restore service access. With hotel systems, such as a PMS holding a massive amount of sensitive guest information that may lead to privacy concerns, ransomware can be frequently used to target guest data in order to raise the stakes for hoteliers. Yet, while research reveals that roughly half of businesses ultimately decide to pay a ransom, studies also show that only 26 percent end up having their data unlocked by the hacker.    From Phishing to Spear-Phishing Using phishing techniques to gain access to hotel systems in order to upload ransomware or perform a range of other illegal acts has come a long way since the term was first coined. Hackers have since moved on from using a one-size-fits-all approach of sending out spam emails to instead create highly targeted attacks that enhance the appearance of creditability.  While still leveraging email to perform some these more personalized hacking attempts, hackers are now also using social media to not only obtain details on targeted employees, but are utilizing such channels as another means of gaining access to hotel systems. To begin the process, a hacker will first seek out an organization’s employees using a search of social media in order to identify ones that provide sufficient details on their background. Hackers will then create a fake social media profile that lists similar interests, group memberships, employment history or educational achievements. Using the fake profile, hackers will make a friend request to the targeted employee and, after a few initial conversations to build trust, will ultimately share a link containing the infected software.   The Implications of Mobile Devices on Business Data Security The rise of mobile-enabled business operations has undoubtedly led to an impressive increase in efficiency and staff productivity, but it has also resulted in creating data security vulnerabilities. According to security firm Check Point, 40 percent of all mobile devices are vulnerable to a cyber-attack, with at least one company included in its report experiencing a breach after an employee mobile device became infected. The issue with mobile devices is that they are often not monitored or protected against potential cybersecurity risks. While businesses may heavily focus on adopting enhanced data security tools for its network and systems infrastructure, protection of mobile devices frequently becomes overlooked and can represent a significant gap in an otherwise effective cybersecurity strategy. To be successful, hackers will frequently exploit the fact that many employees do not regularly update their devices with the latest OS software. With many employees continuing to work remotely, hackers will no doubt increase efforts to exploit such vulnerabilities until businesses make greater efforts to finally close any remaining loopholes.   Credential Theft Remains a Growing Hacking Method of Choice While organizations make significant investments in cybersecurity security protection, credential theft remains one of the most common and easiest means for hackers to exploit. Hackers can now even purchase stolen login details using the dark web. This simply comes down to employees not using effective authentication protocols or using passwords and security questions that are easy to guess. While more convenient, employees using the same password to access multiple systems can likewise make easy prey for hackers seeking quick, yet effective access to data-rich systems and services.   Keeping Pace with Evolving Cyber Security Risks Credential theft and the other above-mentioned tactics are just among some of most commonly used approaches by today’s hackers. Yet as previous security flaws become fixed, hackers are by no means remaining static and are always on the lookout for ways to exploit new vulnerabilities. This is why it remains essential for businesses to partner with solution providers with the ability to continuously ensure total protection against both old and new threats. Stay tuned for the next ProfitSword blog on cybersecurity. Readers of the next post will discover how they can leverage relationships with reputable business intelligence providers to always stay one step ahead of those seeking to inflict harm on their business and guests.  

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What Does SMERF Stand for in the Hotel Industry?

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Sorry to disappoint, but little blue cartoon characters aren’t the stars of this article - hotel sales manager tactics are. SMERF (or the SMERF market) has a totally different meaning in a hospitality context - one that we’ll explore in the next few paragraphs. Trying to diversify your business mix? Looking to fill some rooms in the off-season? By the end of this article, you’ll have gained a thorough understanding of SMERF in the hospitality industry, what benefits SMERF business can bring to your hotel, and how your hotel can attract SMERF guests and functions.   What is SMERF (Social, Military, Educational, Religious, Fraternal)? Okay, let’s break down that acronym. SMERF stands for Social, Military, Educational, Religious, and Fraternal groups. Groups related to sports, entertainment, and recreation, like high school sports teams, fall into this category too. Common SMERF events include weddings, family reunions, religious seminars, and meetings for organizations like the Elks or Rotary Club.  Event planners at hotels like Marriott and Hilton near convention centers and CVBs (convention & visitors bureau) understand the power of SMERF business as much as anyone. These groups book event space, room blocks, and F&B like corporate groups do, but there are some key differences. Unlike corporate group travelers, SMERF guests generally foot their own bill (rather than charging the company credit card). However, the SMERF segment is known to be more price-sensitive than corporate travelers since guests pay out of pocket for their expenses. Another notable characteristic of SMERF is because these guests aren’t traveling or booking event space for business functions, SMERF bookings often fall outside normal working hours - either at night, on weekends, or over holiday periods.   Key Advantages of SMERF You might be wondering why to focus on SMERF meetings if guests are more price-conscious than your average high-rolling business traveler. Even if SMERF bookings aren’t going to fill your penthouse suites, this segment does present several compelling benefits.  Offering incentives to this market segment can be a great way to fill up lower tiered rooms and increase occupancy (even ADR on unsold rooms) at your property: Fill need periods outside of working hours: Since SMERF events typically happen outside of work hours, this segment can be a perfect complement to a hotel’s existing corporate business. Does your hotel restaurant fill up during the lunch period but sit empty in the evenings? Is your RevPAR generally lower on weekend nights? SMERF can help you fill these gaps with events held on nights and weekends. Fill off-season periods: In addition to booking outside of working hours, SMERF groups can also drive business during your off-season. Seeing as SMERF is a more price-sensitive segment, these groups are looking for the best deal. With students paying out of pocket, the local Model UN team probably won’t want to hold their summit on the busiest, most expensive weekend of the year. Instead, they’ll choose a less expensive date - which might be exactly when you need a little boost in occupancy. Reliable group segment: SMERF is a reliable segment in all market conditions. Travel and economic trends can vary from year to year, and city-wide conventions can come and go, but the Smith clan is still going to hold their annual family reunion and the local chess club is still going to host their yearly tournament. Weddings, in particular, are more “recession-proof” than business functions; when companies tighten their belts or scale down conferences, couples still go all-out on the big day with extravagant F&B, A/V, and decor.. Size, budgets, and needs vary: Although SMERF groups have many similar characteristics, no SMERF group is the same. They come in all sizes and with a vast variety of needs and budgets. Therefore, hotels of all sizes and price ranges can target SMERF groups. Even if your hotel has limited F&B offerings or basic event space, it might be perfect for a SMERF group. With these benefits, SMERF can be a strategic way to fill need periods and lock in repeat events that happen year after year.   How Can Your Hotel Attract More SMERF Business? The first step to launching a SMERF strategy is to understand your existing SMERF business. What kind of SMERF groups are booking your hotel already? What can you do to encourage repeat bookings from the same groups? Nurturing the relationships you already have is a great way to secure future bookings and to help you understand what drew those groups to your hotel in the first place. This knowledge will help you effectively market your property to new groups. Next, you can think about new leads to go after. Are there any local groups similar to groups who have stayed with you in the past? For example, if you’ve developed a strong relationship with a local chess club, maybe the local bridge club would be a good lead to investigate. Besides reaching out to organizations, clubs, or teams directly, you can sponsor or attend trade shows or work with the local destination marketing organization or convention and visitors bureau to spread the word about your hotel.  As you start the prospecting process, remember that your SMERF contacts are unlikely to be professional meeting planners; they’re often volunteering their time, and maybe they’ve never booked a room block or signed a BEO before. Taking a little extra time to explain the process, answer questions, and offer advice can go a long way in these relationships. Although, from a numbers perspective, SMERF events might seem like they’re less important than a major corporate event, these events can be incredibly important to the attendees. SMERF guests will be delighted to see the hotel staff treating their event with the same level of care and attention as any Fortune 500 company’s event. And any extras you can throw in, like free airport pickups or an upgrade for a guest of honor will help you secure repeat business.  There’s no perfect recipe to success with SMERF, so it’s crucial to learn as you go. After each event, make sure to ask for feedback from guests and employees to determine what you did right and where you can improve. Do you have any questions about SMERF? Let us know!