The pandemic accelerated technological transformation across the hospitality industry. Contactless has become a must-have, fitness centers have gone virtual, guest communications have moved to mobile, and self-service has become standard. While some hotels found themselves rapidly deploying new technologies, other hotels have been playing the tech-long game for years. Here are some of the world’s most notable high-tech hotels. We've covered the tech strategies of great hotel groups like Viceroy and Noble House who implement everything from contactless check-in to digital concierge but this article focuses on some more wacky tech implementations with a bit of focus on form over function. This list features some pretty cool hi-tech gadgets and hotel room amenities that go above and beyond the typical flat-screen tv. Some of the cutting-edge technology on this list may off-put more traditional travelers but will undoubtedly hit the spot for tech-savvy millennials. Rather than layer technology onto the operation, these properties embed technology into the fabric of the operation, making it a focal point and key feature. Some use it as an Instagrammable moment at a specific location while others structure their entire brand around the tech-enabled guest experience. Either way, technology is front-and-center at these hotels. Henn Na Hotel, Japan “The Robot Hotel” Tokyo has become the marquee high-tech hotel. The brand concept is “commitment to evolution,” which appears across its operation in the form of robots. Lots of robots! The brand claims to be the world’s first hotel staffed by robots -- and there’s really no disputing that, as guests are greeted by robots at the front desk. At one property, the front desk is even staffed by dinosaur robots and iPad kiosks, which is quite the experience. Other high-tech features at some locations include a robot barista frothing lattes, espressos and teas, as well as a 360-degree VR space for guests to immerse themselves in virtual reality experiences. The hotel is also fully enabled with Wifi powered facial recognition, which eliminates the need for a hotel key altogether. Guests can access the property, and their individual guest rooms, seamlessly using biometrics. Very futuristic, indeed! YOTEL, New York City The YOTEL brand has been synonymous with technology since it opened its doors near Times Square. The showstopper was a massive robot arm dominating the lobby, providing automated luggage storage for guests (as well as safety deposit boxes to store valuables). The YOBOT also provides self-service check-in, which puts the brand far ahead of today’s contactless guest experience. The rooms -- called cabins -- may be small, but YOTEL uses technology to deliver its promise to “give you everything you need, and nothing you don’t.” This includes Smart TVs so that guests can connect their own devices and choose their own entertainment. The guest rooms also use motorized beds as space-savers and motion-activated sensors for lighting and AC to reduce carbon emissions. It’s all about efficiency, delivering an outsized guest experience in even the smallest spaces. Blow Up Hall 5050, Poland The Blow Up Hall 50/50 is an impressive mix of form and function. Designed by BAFTA-award-winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, the hotel combines a restaurant, bar, gallery, and hotel into a unique vibe. There are several digital art installations, including a commentary on surveillance capitalism embedded right within the lobby. The property eliminates the traditional touchstones of the hotel experience: there’s no front desk. The guest’s smartphone provides access to the property, from check-in to room keys to staff communications. The phone also acts as a room finder: after opening the app, the assigned room lights up and the door unlocks automatically. It’s these small tech flourishes that reinforce the property’s sense of mystery and intrigue. Hotel Zetta, San Francisco At the center of Silicon Valley, the centerpiece of Hotel Zetta is most definitely its virtual reality room in the lobby. Designed by a local tech startup (naturally), the VR cube gives guests a fully-immersive opportunity to experience virtual reality. There are also Nintendo Switch consoles and Oculus VR headsets available so guests can experience next-generation technology in the comfort of their rooms. Other tech touchstones include a vintage Atari Pong table in the Zetta Suite, which is modernized to include both the classic game and a Bluetooth speaker to play personal playlists. Each guest room is also equipped with Alexa-enabled voice control in every room. Guests can order a meal from room service, set an alarm or learn about on-property dining specials. Kameha Grand, Zurich The Kameha Grand isn’t one of those kitschy places that you’re embarrassed to stay at. Quite the opposite: the high-end “lifestyle hotel” is part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. And, with rooms designed by Marcel Wenders, it’s got all of the trappings of a luxury property. Rooms Our favorite rooms are, of course, the Space Suites. It’s the most futuristic room type on this list because it quite literally connects to space. The in-room TV features a live feed from NASA TV so that you can fuel those space dreams. The atmospheric vibes will contribute to that dreamy feel, with “outer space furnishings have been designed down to the smallest detail with a floating bed, pictures of galaxies, hovering astronauts and models of rockets.” Far out! Virgin Hotels The Virgin Hotel brand has always been tech-forward and guest-centric. Even prior to the pandemic, the brand empowered guests to control their own experiences right from the palm of their hand. Now, those features are dramatically expanded to be even more contactless. Named Lucy, the app allows guests to skip check-in, using their phone to select rooms and unlock doors. Guests can also use the app to order room service, adjust room temperature, control entertainment (in-room streaming and Apple Music), plan their trip around the city, or even follow custom exercise routines by Fitbod. Following on smartly with its brand promise, the app also offers three preset lighting modes for guestrooms: Get Lit for full brightness, Get in the Mood for dimmed relaxation, and Do Not Disturb for sleep. By putting all of these elements together into a single interface, Virgin Hotels puts the guest in control. 25hours Hotels Another brand that’s focused on high-tech without losing high-touch hospitality is 25hours. Thanks to an in-house multidisciplinary think tank, the Extra Hour Lab, the brand experiments with new ways of engaging with guests, both through digital and analog channels. That balance plays out in Cologne, where the record store greets guests alongside Perhaps that’s one aspect that distinguishes the futuristic, high-tech hotels: those that understand how to inject storytelling into the experience alongside the latest technology. Cityhub A hybrid between a comfortable hotel and a convivial hostel, Cityhub is futuristic in both its technology and its approach to hospitality. It’s part of a new wave of brands that blend categories and use technology to enable a more social experience. The Cityhub brand has an app but it also takes a cue from Disney and offers RFID wristbands. These bands are used not only for check-in and property access, but also at the bar, cafe or vending machines, where guests can serve themselves and charge their rooms. Without having to constantly pull out their phones, there’s a more personal element to the experience. Each “hub” has its own customizable lighting, temperature and audio streaming, so guests can control their vibe. There’s also an on-property social network, giving guests a digital lobby to meet and plan real-world adventures. The Atari Hotel, Las Vegas (coming soon!) A notable mention is the upcoming Atari Hotel in Las Vegas. This property will blur the boundaries between hotel and immersive experience, building on Las Vegas’ long history of blending entertainment with hospitality. The experience is straight out of Blade Runner: bright lights, massive marquees, and an “everywhere you look” focus on gaming. The Atari Hotel points to a far-more futuristic vision of hotels than anything else on the market today. It very well could be the first hospitality experience built just as much for the virtual world as for the physical one. Guests can host friends in their rooms for gaming marathons, with consoles, batteries, and spare controllers available for delivery. The Atari Hotel may redefine the category and establish a new mainstream travel trend: the gamer circuit. -- What are your favorite high-tech hotel amenities? Let us know if we missed any key ones like hotels with crazy underwater speakers, air conditioning activated by motion sensors, cool touchscreen applications, and more!
Hotel Revenue Management Software Articles
The world felt hopeful when the first COVID-19 vaccine was announced several months ago. Today, vaccines are being distributed worldwide. Many countries are starting to relax restrictions and re-open their borders. That’s fantastic news for the travel and tourism industry even without a clear timeline. We still know that local and regional recovery will begin as soon as governments give the go-ahead. Now you need to ask yourself: is your property ready for the rebound? And if not, which tools will get you ready quickly? COVID-19: The Effect on the Hospitality Industry Worldwide As the Covid-19 crisis unfolded, STR regularly shared performance trends and outlooks for every corner of the world. We take a short look at how Covid-19 hit leading hospitality markets and what we can expect down the road. Europe Europe's average occupancy fell to 11.4% when lockdowns began in April. For all of 2020, average occupancy reached 33.1% thanks to a relatively strong summer season. Slow vaccination programs and a lasting second lockdown in most European countries leave us with a bleak outlook for the coming 90 days. Asia After arrivals plummeted in February and March, average occupancy across Asia fell by 30%. However, since many countries in the region managed the pandemic well, several of them have already seen a rebound in domestic travel. In China, for example, the outlook is positive. There, the average occupancy rate is only 10% below that of 2019 among open hotels. Destinations that focus primarily on international guests, like Vietnam and Thailand, are still struggling more. But hopes are high that reopened borders will bring quick recovery. Middle East Overall, the Middle East boasted a relatively strong performance in the past twelve months. Right now, its average occupancy even outranks China and the US. This is partly because destinations like Dubai never closed their borders. Still, current OTB business is rather low, especially given that the postponed EXPO 2020 is coming up. Vaccination Campaigns Are Gaining Momentum World in Data and the Bloomberg vaccine tracker show the latest progress of global vaccination programs. Israel leads the list with 50% of people being fully vaccinated. The US and Chile have both passed the 11% mark. The UAE and Bahrain are getting ahead well, too. The faster this progress spreads around the world, the sooner pent-up travel demand will hit the market. Given Europe’s strong summer season and China’s overall strong performance, the outlook is positive. But, of course, there is no set timeframe to work with. That’s why now is the best time for hoteliers to set up the tools they need for guidance in this incalculable time. Winning During the Recovery Phase with a Powerful RMS Every region’s recovery phase will look different, so generalized predictions are pointless. Patterns from previous crisis bounce-backs or other historical data won’t help either since Covid-19 was so different from everything else. Despite all that, you must get ready for the ramp-up phase. Only then you’ll be able to seize every opportunity it offers you and get your business going again. Collecting your data manually - an inadequate method Gathering data manually to inform your rate changes is still possible, but it should be a thing of the past. Staying on top of dynamic markets and detecting trends early on simply isn’t possible with this approach. Especially in the volatile recovery period, this could cost you many opportunities to drive revenue. Using an RMS (revenue management system) solves that issue by helping you set optimized rates every time demand shifts. But which capabilities should an RMS have? Read on to learn which ones are crucial for ramp-up, recovery phase, and beyond. Forward-looking demand data If you want to make accurate revenue forecasts and create successful promotions, you need forward-looking data. This covers everything from overall search volume for your location and flight searches to length of stay queries. For the best insights, use an RMS like Atomize which breaks this data down by source market. Collecting this information manually would cost you hours and it would likely become outdated before you had a chance to evaluate it. Let your RMS gather this data to reveal emerging trends and high-demand dates in the future. Seeing this develop in real-time lets you optimize your revenue strategy ahead of your competition. That way you’ll be ready for every demand shift and have the chance to target high-potential source markets with tailored offers. Automated, real-time pricing If you update your prices manually, you’ll always play catch-up with the market and will miss revenue-generating opportunities. A modern RMS with automated real-time pricing solves this problem in two steps. First, it continuously monitors your market for the slightest changes in demand. Whenever it’s necessary, the RMS will send you a new rate suggestion. You can approve or reject it manually. While this option gives you more control, the time it takes you to approve the suggestion creates a lag, and opportunities may be lost. Avoid this by going for fully automated rate updates. In that case, your RMS changes all prices automatically and they’ll always be in line with the most recent market developments. This option saves you hours of precious time and ensures you’re making the most of every opportunity. A faster way to do group displacement analysis When event planners can start organizing in-person events again, you’ll get a lot of inquiries all at once. Analyze your options carefully. Does your future-facing data predict high transient demand for the date in question? If so, will it come via your website or high-commission OTAs? Evaluating these and other aspects will cost your team time and energy. Use an RMS to make faster, data-based decisions and get the most profitable contracts for your property. Multi-property capability for property clusters If you’re in charge of several hotels, use an RMS with a multi-hotel set-up to save time. Instead of having different log-ins and windows for every property, you can see all your hotels’ data on a single dashboard. You’ll see immediately where to focus your attention, make changes and support your on-site team. You’ve made it through this tough past year. You know that recovery is around the corner, so don’t let it sneak up on you. Get your hotel ready for returning demand and leverage a cutting-edge RMS to get a step ahead of your compset. Yes, investing in new tech can feel like a financial burden these days. That’s why Atomize is offering a risk-free option that lets you benefit from their time-saving automation and forward-looking data when you need it most - during the recovery phase.
Hot on the heels of an IPO that saw Airbnb’s stock pop over 100% over its initial asking price, the hype around the home-sharing platform has reached a fever pitch. Airbnb’s splashy debut in the public market has brought renewed attention to the classic “Airbnb vs Hotels'' debate. Surveys suggest that Airbnb hosts do indeed pull guests away from hotel rooms. Goldman Sachs found that those who use home-sharing end up preferring it over hotels: 79% prefer traditional hotels but, once they experience a vacation rental, that number dropped to 40%. In other words, home-sharing siphons off 39% of hotels’ target market. Another survey found that 60% who use both hotels and Airbnb prefer Airbnb versus hotels Of course, these surveys are only snapshots that don’t necessarily reflect how people choose where to stay. If the price was identical between an Airbnb and a St. Regis, Viceroy, or Montage-type property hotel rates, where would you stay for your next trip? Likely the luxury property, right? But what if it was for a family reunion or bachelor party? The trip type certainly would influence your decision on where to stay. So is Airbnb vs Hotels even the right question in a world where hotel chains like Marriott are launching their own vacation rental services and Airbnb now owns HotelTonight? The Answer: It Depends The reality is that no one is exclusively a single category traveler. The same person might prefer an Airbnb on one trip and a hotel on the next one. To choose which one is right for a certain trip, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions: What do I care about? What combination of space, amenities, cost, service, and location are most important? What kind of experience do I want? Am I looking to be pampered or self-catered? Are you looking for a private room or multiple occupancy shared space with other renters and guests? Is this a business or vacation? Who else is joining me? What kind of experience do they want? Are there kids? What’s my budget? Is flexibility important to me or am I certain I won’t need to cancel or adjust my reservation? Do you care about hotel amenities like concierge or room service? How important is safety? Do I want 24/7 staffing to feel more secure? How do I feel about my contribution to any issues around housing being taken from locals by short-term rentals? What are the short-term rental laws? Where are you going? Airbnbs are limited in certain markets like New York City, so that makes it a no-brainer. Of course, the pandemic has added new dimensions to this discussion, as the NY Times rightly points out: “Social distancing, hygiene and refund policies may be the new game-changers.” What are the cleanliness procedures? Is there an additional cleaning fee? Is there flexible cancellation in the event of a surge in cases or a sickness? What are the capacity restrictions? Can I maintain an adequate distance from other guests? There's a lot that goes into choosing an Airbnb over a hotel. It’s not so straightforward! Let’s compare side by side. Comparing Airbnb vs. Hotels Side-by-Side Airbnb Hotel Security Each property is different Most often staffed 24/7, with locks and deadbolts on each door Consistency Varies. While Airbnb provides training to hosts, there are no guarantees of what you’ll get. And each property has its own House Rules. Brand standards provide confidence in the consistency of experience Business-friendly Airbnb for Work provides some basic guarantees for items like workspaces; check-in may be difficult overnight Brand standards provide the consistency ideal for business travelers; 24/7 staffing makes last-minute stays and overnight check-ins easier Quality Varies; user reviews offer insights into the quality of specific property Varies; brand name and hotel category offer certain quality guarantee Service Self-catered Depends on category; nearly always some sort of service on-site Value for Money Depends on the number of guests, location, geography, dates, property type; lower cost of things like WiFi and meals Depends on the number of guests, location, geography, dates, property type; often pay extra for add-ons and meals. Convenience self-service check-in at many properties has made it much more convenient, although there is rarely someone on-site to help With 24/7 staffing, its often easier to check-in and there can't be helped for any issues experienced during stay Cleanliness Hosts do all the cleaning with no guarantees by Airbnb Brand standards ensure a similar level of cleanliness Cancellation Policies Varies by host but rarely flexible or fully refundable Flexible, often with full refunds prior to 48 hours before arrival Variety All types of accommodations, including quirky options like teepees and Airstreams Fairly standard spectrum of options, as defined by the hotel category Trust Airbnb does not verify individual hosts, but user reviews provide a level of trust in the community Hotel brand is the placeholder for trust; you have an idea of what to expect based on the brand Safety, Privacy and Legality In a Morgan Stanley survey, more than 50% of people do not use Airbnb due to safety, privacy, or legality. From shifting local laws to hidden cameras and uneven safety features, Airbnbs are not all created equally. Hotels have operated under long-standing rules and regulations around safety, privacy and legal operations. Technology Differences Between Airbnb and Hotels In the early days of Airbnb rentals, it cemented its competitive advantage by a focus on the user experience that set it apart from historically clunky hotel booking experiences. There was an easy-to-use interface for searching and booking that made excellent use of visuals and maps. Reservations were managed digitally with few phone calls and user reviews were the currency of trust. A mobile app became the centerpiece of interactions between guests and hosts, while also making it easy to manage upcoming reservations, get directions and find house rules. Now, hotels have become much savvier with guest messaging, mobile apps, in-room tablets and keyless entry to provide an enhanced experience that differentiates it from Airbnb. No more horrible entertainment options thanks to Apple TV for Hospitality, no more front desk with keyless entry and contactless check-in, no more waiting on hold thanks to guest messaging software, no more antiquated booking systems with better booking engines. In many respects, hotel tech has advanced to push it past Airbnb, allowing hotels to offer a better experience than ever before. In general, Airbnb stays and hotel stays are on a convergence path solidified by Airbnb's acquisition of HotelTonight. When is Airbnb Better? Airbnb is ideally suited under certain circumstances: Trip types: group trips (friends, family reunions, bachelor/bachelorette trips) are perfect for Airbnb’s because they have more space and the cost can be spread among many people; trips to vacation destinations where there may be fewer hotels; extended stays, when feeling at home matters greatly. Traveler types: Independent travelers looking to save money on accommodations and self-cater meals; “live like a local” travelers that want to experience what it’s like to live in the destination; those who want more space and to avoid the crowds, such as pet owners and families with kids. When are Hotels Better? Other trips are better suited for hotels. The most obvious use case a business trips, as 68% of business travelers have had a negative experience using Airbnb for work and thus prefer hotels. Airbnb has made strides in this department come out there's still a level of inconsistency that turns off business travelers. Hotels are also often better for: Trip types: Urban getaways focused less on spending time at the property; family trips where the kids want access to amenities; wellness retreats that prioritize on-site spa treatments; pampered getaways where no one wants to lift a finger. Traveler types: Loyalty members that want to earn points; those who value consistency of experience; design-minded travelers that enjoy experiencing hotel properties Business Differences Between Airbnb and Hotels On the business side of things, there are some obvious differences between Airbnb and hotels. First and foremost, is the regulatory environment. Short-term rentals have a constantly shifting legal landscape, with many cities cracking down on rampant rentals. Airbnb’s long-standing practice of ruthlessly fighting regulations may be backfiring, as coalitions of residents and hotels have rigorously pushed back. A big portion of this fight was related to short term rental taxes and paying their fair share. Airbnbs in many locations now pay a similar accommodation tax to hotels. Similar to hotels paying taxes on income, hosts are also on the hook for all necessary taxes related to their operations. The operating models also differ greatly. Compared with hotels, which operate with continuous staffing, Airbnb has remote customer service that isn't exactly known as world-class. This keeps overhead lower and gives Airbnb an advantage on operating margin, as they can invest further in the technology-driven user experience. Airbnb also operates under an “asset-light” model, Which means that it doesn't own any of the properties listed on its website. It's a Marketplace the connects hosts with gas. On the other hand, hotel operators generally have a direct relationship with the property owner. In most cases, a property owner hires a management company to run the hotel. the management company then either pays a franchise fee to a hotel brand (based on the target demographic) or runs the hotel independently under its own flag. Airbnb's decentralized model, in which hosts list their own properties on the platform, disperse its listings across geographies. However, similar to hotels, there’s a concentration of urban listings, where density delivers more options. Airbnb is also quite strong in vacation destinations, which have a long-standing familiarity with vacation rentals. While there may be fewer hotels in these areas, there’s no shortage of Airbnbs. However, local pushback may threaten this strength, as many areas crack down on both legal and illegal rentals. When it comes to market share, Airbnb definitely dominates. It’s not only become more valuable than the top 3 hotel companies combined, but it’s also bigger by sheer listing count. As you can see in the graphic below from Scott Galloway, Airbnb eclipses all major hotel brands in total room count. It’s just no comparison -- and it’s that strength that propels Airbnb ahead of hotels on market share. (For comparison, Booking.com has 6.2 million listings). On the revenue side of the equation, the global hotel industry hovers around a $600 billion market size. That’s massive compared to Airbnb’s reported $4.81 billion in revenue. The disparity underlines one fact about Airbnb's market share: all listings are not created equal. Some are for entire homes available year-round, while others are shared rooms only periodically available. Therefore listing count does not necessarily equate to market dominance! Wrapping it Up There is no clear winner and unlike what most media likes to spew - the future holds opportunity for both Airbnb and hotels. In fact, some hotels may benefit from listing on Airbnb to gain visibility with a new guest segment. Hotels should also look carefully at nearby Airbnbs and iterate (or emphasize) product features that resonate more with why guests stay at Airbnbs (see chart above). For example, if a limited-service hotel doesn’t win on service they may need to need to win on consistency, security, self-catering options, and convenience to lure more guests. When it comes to Airbnb versus hotels, it's not an either-or decision; there are few “Airbnb only” travelers. Hotels can compete head-to-head with Airbnbs by finding property attributes that appeal to specific segments and trip types -- and then marketing that message directly to those travelers!
Each year Hotel Tech Report surveys thousands of industry insiders to find the best hotel tech jobs and employers globally. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the hotel industry. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 121 million of the 330 million jobs tied to tourism around the world will be lost in 2020. Despite existential challenges, hotels and their vendors have proven resilient in the face of the biggest challenge ever posed to the hospitality industry by working together. But there’s always opportunity in crisis. The pandemic has advanced digitization in the global economy by at least 5 years according to most experts. Hotels that already had adopted technology like contactless check-in and guest messaging software have had a massive advantage since the pandemic broke out and the importance of technology for running a successful hotel business will continue to rise over the coming years meaning that demand for hotel technology talent will grow with it. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we’ve interviewed countless hoteliers about their journeys from being hoteliers into lucrative technology careers like Del Ross, Marco Benvenuti, Sameer Umar, and Kevin Brown. For hoteliers furloughed on the sidelines, there is an unprecedented opportunity to pivot into a technology career leveraging skills and knowledge from hospitality experience. But which hotel tech companies should you apply to? Every year we do the hard work for you and survey thousands of hotel tech professionals to find the best companies to work for in the hospitality industry. We ask respondents to rate their employers from 1-10 on these key variables: Work-life balance Personal development opportunities Gender equality Confidence in company direction Values alignment 2021 Bonus Question: Rate your firm’s COVD-19 crisis response Hotel Tech Report creates this list each year for two reasons: (1) to help industry professionals find the best hospitality tech jobs and (2) to help hotel tech buyers understand that it’s just as important to partner with great organizations as it is to find great software tools and products. Vendor culture is important to every aspect of a vendor relationship: Product: Great workplaces attract the best talent who make the best products Customer Support: Happy client reps give better service and stay around longer developing deeper relationships. Sales: When a sales team has high turnover, innovation gets strangled because there isn’t enough cash coming in the door to invest in innovation. Our 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech list features companies who foster wonderful work environments for employees. In return, those employees deliver incredible products and services to clients. Without further adieu here are 2021’s 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech… 10. Siteminder (TIE) Right before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, industry leader Siteminder reached an incredible milestone earning itself unicorn status. Under the stewardship of CEO Sankar Narayan the firm quickly composed itself when the pandemic broke out and began rolling out initiatives to support both employees and customers like its World Hotel Index sharing real-time data with the industry when historical data just wouldn’t cut it. Siteminder has an internal slack channel called #stayingsocial dedicated strictly to team members having a social communal space in the age of remote work. This is pretty typical for a small startup but much rarer in the world of 700 employee behemoths. The great part about working at a large startup-like Siteminder is that there’s almost limitless upward mobility according to one employee working in operations at the firm, “They allow me opportunities to take on more responsibilities that are even beyond my scope to develop my skills and prep me up for bigger roles. They also give leadership training to enhance to continue developing my capabilities.” If you’re looking for a fast-paced global startup on a world domination path - then you should absolutely be dropping a resume at Siteminder. The best part is that they’ve got offices all around the world so even if you prefer the WFH life your colleagues shouldn’t be too far away no matter where you call home. 10. Atomize (TIE) This is Atomize’s first time making Hotel Tech Report’s annual Best Places to Work list but we doubt it will be their last. In true Swedish fashion Atomize rates amongst the highest on the list for gender equality with a 50% ratio of men to women on its leadership team. Atomize also rates very highly for culture alignment with a score of 97.8%. Perhaps the biggest standout for Atomize was how highly employees rated the firm’s COVID-19 response and support for clients during a crisis. “Everyone from finance to product development has chipped in to try to support clients. We have for instance developed a relief-program for those that are hurting really bad, we have updated the product to amend for the large drop in occupancy for hotels, etc,” one Atomize executive told Hotel Tech Report. Atomize made it through COVID-19 without a single layoff which is a testament to the longevity of the business and its and commitment to team members. During the crisis Atomize stayed calm, launched the 2.0 version of their core RMS product, and even found time to bring the team together for a BBQ this summer during a slow down in transmission rates. 9. Hotel Effectiveness Georgia (the U.S. state not the country) based Hotel Effectiveness is in the business of helping hotel owners more efficiently manage labor but the question is: how well do they manage their own labor? It turns out they do a pretty darned good job at fostering internal culture. Prior to the pandemic labor costs were the biggest focus area for most hotel ownership and management groups - despite the shift in focus Hotel Effectiveness managed to grow through the pandemic all while placing a heavy emphasis on quality of life for employees. Team members cite a high percentage of employees being groomed from junior roles into leadership positions, flexible PTO programs, and strong opportunities for women. PTO is great but Hotel Effectiveness management goes one step further where they encourage team members to completely unplug and not even check email during their vacation. Adding icing to the cake, employees raved about the firm’s response to COVID-19 where it was able to grow without any layoffs needed. One engineer raved about the Company’s COVID-19 response, “Hotel Effectiveness immediately shifted priorities specifically to address the changing needs of our clients. Hotel Effectiveness provided new guidance materials, payment options, and built new features (such as Daily Wellness Check-In) under tight deadlines to meet the new needs of our customers.” 8. EasyWay Big congrats to the first-ever Israeli startup to make this list! If you’ve ever been to Tel Aviv or the Start-up Nation (Israel), perhaps a job interview with EasyWay is the excuse you needed to visit one of the most amazing cities in the world packed with beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a foodie scene that’s truly in a league of its own. EasyWay is the quintessential startup with a mentality that so long as you hit your KPIs - the rest of your life is totally flexible. An EasyWay executive’s quote to Hotel Tech Report about the last 12-months at the company says it all, “The work around the clock in the COVID-19 time was crazy. We have developed so much stuff, that I almost miss this period. We've learned a lot from that, and staid on our feet! The rest of the team was great and it really gave me confidence in my own abilities. If you're the kind of person who likes to work hard and play hard - you’d be wise to check out EasyWay’s open positions. 7. Asksuite This is Asksuite’s second year making the list and true to their commercial team’s motto “rockets don’t have reverse”, even a pandemic couldn’t slow down this high flying Brazilian startup. Florianopolis may not be a hotel tech hub (yet) but the Asksuite team has access to lessons in language, hospitality and other training to upskill their way into global domination. During the pandemic, leaders have made themselves available for 1:1 meetings to support all colleagues and perhaps it’s this close communication that leads Asksuite employees to rate 98% confidence in the future success of the firm. Asksuite employees frequently cite an onboarding process that makes all team members feel like a part of the family in short order. 6. RoomRaccoon Despite the pandemic RoomRaccoon doubled the firm’s headcount in 2020 and achieved a major milestone in reaching 1,000 clients. Employees frequently cite similar aspects of the culture as differentiators like their annual international week at the Netherlands headquarters and an inclusive onboarding program. One employee within the marketing department told Hotel Tech Report, “This year RoomRaccoon decided to start hiring more new colleagues against the market trend of furlough and letting people go. To smoothen the onboarding process of our new hires we've created an E-learning program and two intensive onboarding weeks. So far we've onboarded 15 new hires since July 2020 that immediately are getting results. Something I'm really proud of!” If you’re looking for an ambitious organization with a strong remote culture and complementary annual trips to the Netherlands - don’t hesitate and check out open listings at RoomRaccoon. 5. Alliants The Alliants story is the cure to the common venture funded business gone wrong story. Alliants built the business developing custom software for ultra luxury hotel brands like Four Season and Jumeirah before ever dipping their toes into the SaaS world. That means they’ve got killer products, an eye for design and engineering to back it up. Starting in a consultative role for luxury brands has afforded Alliants a luxury not many early stage SaaS products have - cash flow. How would this impact you when you apply for a role there? Alliants employees are given a $5,000 stipend to invest in their own education and training. Whether it’s a paid marketing course or intro to Ruby on Rails - at Alliants you will be able to create your own journey and take control of your destiny. Have you ever had a boss block your calendar so people can’t book meetings with you? Well, Alliants employees have. During winter months with less daylight, CEO Tristan Gadsby blocked the entire team’s calendars from 11:30am - 1:30pm to encourage team members to get outside, walk or simply catch some rays. If that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will. 4. ALICE This ain’t ALICE’s first rodeo, well it’s their fourth if we want to be precise about it. ALICE has made Hotel Tech Report’s Best Places to Work list 4 years in a row (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). ALICE is an incredible place to work for former hoteliers because employees truly act as a strategic extension of their partner properties. During the pandemic, ALICE quickly pivoted to rollout closure checklists and other free assets to help partners quickly reconfigure their operations for the new normal. “The most memorable achievement while working at ALICE this past year was being able to provide support for our employees during the pandemic. The pandemic-related fatigue and anxiety impacted everyone and in different ways. We were able to provide support to our employees through group therapy sessions, health and wellness initiatives, increased one-on-one check-ins regarding fatigue, increased opportunities for learning and connection with one another virtually. I am so proud of how the leadership at ALICE has led us through the most difficult time in our industry's history, and with such care for both our customers, our industry as a whole, and our employees,” says one ALICE team member in an HR role. Just as important as supporting clients through COVID-19 is supporting colleagues. ALICE team members were constantly comforted that management understood the stress and challenges they were facing during this historic yet tragic year, encouraging an environment of transparency and honesty about how to cope with natural distractions from work in times of stress. 3. hotelkit Austria-based hotelkit is another repeat visitor on this list moving up from 4th to 3rd place. Founded in 2012 by hotelier Marius Donhauser, hotelkit is a majority female-run business that’s growing rapidly but responsibly throughout Europe. hotelkit’s team motto is “one team one dream” and while the team had to work remotely for a good portion of the year, colleagues are hopeful that 2021 will bring back the annual hotelkit Christmas party famous for great eats and poker. Under Marius’ leadership, hotelkit has fostered a culture that feels like family so it’s no wonder that employees rate the culture so highly across every single vector. 2. Cloudbeds Cloudbeds may be the fastest-growing hotel tech company right now so while their headquarters are in sunny San Diego the Company has got Silicon Valley energy pumping through its veins. Not to mention, Cloudbeds is extremely global with local managers in 40 countries. On March 11th (yes that’s right when COVID-19 took the world by storm) Cloudbeds announced the closing of an $80M funding round. Cloudbeds employees tend to share two main things in common: (1) they are extremely performance-driven and (2) they LOVE to travel. One Cloudbeds employee within the operations department told Hotel Tech Report, “I managed to get promoted on my 1 anniversary day at Cloudbeds, I was so happy and everyone was so attentive to me during this process. Cloudbeds is an amazing company, full of amazing individuals, it's so nice to see the owners in our calls and engaged with us all at all times. I used to think I had worked at good companies, till I met Cloudbeds. This is where I want to stay and grow. It will be hard for any other company to take me from here.” Cloudbeds has TONS of openings so make sure to browse their career page if you’re in the market. 1. Mews This is Mews’ 3rd year making the list ranking #2 in 2019 and #3 in 2020 - but this is their first year topping the list which is a testament to the strong culture at the firm. Like most fast-growing companies, the pandemic wreaked havoc on projections and business plans for Mews leading to some difficult decisions needing to be made. Mews not only came through what was maybe the darkest moment in the history of the hotel industry but came out stronger than ever before. Mews leadership set a strong course for the business cutting expenses, reorganizing the team, rebranding, focusing on remote deployments, and even making an acquisition. Quite a busy year - even if things had been normal. Mews management has created one of those infectious startup cultures that can almost feel cult-like at times often intoxicating entire trade show floors (pre-COVID). It’s not often that employees at an aggressive high-performance tier 1 venture-backed business get to see their founder dancing through a town hall (affectionately named Mews Con) in a silly costume. Mews pivoted from hyper-growth mode into a sharp focus on profitability right-sizing the business and is poised to come out of the pandemic far stronger than it went in. Lots of open roles to check out and we’re sure that list will continue to grow over the coming months.
Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated hotel software in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the Top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards. The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity. The HotelTechAwards platform (by Hotel Tech Report) leverages real customer data to determine best of breed products and companies that help hoteliers grow their bottom lines. “The People’s Choice Award goes to a single company across all categories who demonstrates the strongest customer relationships during the HotelTechAwards. Cloudbeds had more than 550 hotelier customers come out to share overwhelmingly positive feedback about Cloudbeds products in the midst of a global pandemic. To have that kind of support from clients during the most challenging market in hotel history says all you need to know about Cloudbeds’ commitment to their partner properties,” says Hotel Tech Report CEO Jordan Hollander. Here’s the Official 2021 People’s Choice List: Cloudbeds SiteMinder RoomRaccoon Bookassist OTA Insight ALICE IDeaS Avvio Hoteltime hotelkit The key factors used to determine the annual People’s Choice Award include total verified customer reviews, geographic reach of reviews, and overall review sentiment and ratings. The best companies know that the most effective way to communicate their value proposition is to empower and amplify the voices of their happy customers. The People’s Choice Award recognizes companies whose customers really value the relationship and partnership. “Twenty years ago we lived in a world where hoteliers just used one of the three or four technology systems out there and typically just ended up using whatever system they had heard of before. Today there are thousands of SaaS choices in the market and dozens of great options available for most use cases but the market is moving so quickly that it’s hard for hoteliers to identify and keep track of the best products and companies. This award honors the companies whose hotel customers are the most vocal advocates of their products to make that process easy,” says Hollander. About the 2021 People's Choice Award The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity. Early on as a startup, it’s easier for companies to maintain strong customer relationships with a limited customer base. But as a company grows its install base and scales globally, maintaining high customer satisfaction becomes increasingly more challenging. Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated product in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards acknowledging the achievements of top innovators across all categories who embody the values, transparency, and customer-centricity that lie at the core of truly great companies. View Ranking Methodology>>
Hotel Tech Report has announced winners in the 2021 HotelTechAwards, based on more than 10,000 hotel software product reviews contributed by verified hoteliers during the competition. Winners are selected based on key performance metrics including product popularity, customer satisfaction, integration compatibility, customer support quality, and more. Winning a HotelTechAward is the highest achievement in the hotel technology industry. “In the midst of a global pandemic, 318,466 hoteliers visited Hotel Tech Report from every corner of the globe contributing 10,227 verified new product reviews during the 3-month awards period to share insights about their favorite tech products to run and grow their businesses. It has been inspiring to see this massive wave of hoteliers sharing technology insights and product recommendations,” says Jordan Hollander, CEO of Hotel Tech Report. “This is the most comprehensive dataset around hotelier preferences ever developed and it gives unprecedented insights into tech trends for hotels during a pivotal moment in history. Winning a HotelTechAward is a huge feat with the 2021 competition being the most competitive year ever. Every company on this list should be extremely proud of what they've contributed to the growth of the hotel industry.” 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. "The HotelTechAwards are the only prize in the industry that is completely and transparently customer-driven — it's the hoteliers that decide who is best, and it's their opinion that matters most." Gautam Lulla, CEO at Pegasus. "We at SiteMinder believe strongly in the essence of openness; it is what underpins the very core of what we stand for, and the HotelTechAwards, through the program's data-driven and transparent process, aligns firmly with this value.” - Sankar Narayan, CEO at SiteMinder “This honor has deep, personal meaning as it is decided upon by our clients and represents our passion and focus for providing the most sophisticated revenue technology and comprehensive support.” Dr. Ravi Mehrotra Founder at IDeaS “The HotelTechAwards are a powerful stamp of approval for any company to possess and for hoteliers to trust. We value the HotelTechAwards process, which collects thousands of verified reviews from around the world each year.” Alex Shashou, Co-Founder at ALICE “HotelTechReport is the leading platform for technology in the hotel industry, and its meticulous and impartial verification process makes this one of the most prestigious awards.” Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen, Co-Founder at SuitePad The competition spans core areas of hotel software & technology: marketing, revenue, operations, and guest experience. 2021 Voting included participation from major hotel groups including Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, Accor Hotels, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Rosewood, and thousands of independents. "We originally created the HotelTechAwards as a democratized way to help our fellow hoteliers quickly determine best of breed vendors based on data they can trust and the scope of the competition this year is a testament to how far the industry has come in the last decade. The HotelTechAwards rating process is simple, transparent, and unbiased--judging is based on time tested ranking factors, publicly available data, and crowdsourced insights from verified hoteliers who have hands-on experience with each product.” The HotelTechAwards are often referred to as "the Grammys of Hotel Tech" and winners were selected from the top technology products around the world. The HotelTechAwards are the industry's only data-driven awards platform with winners determined not by a handful of judges or popularity votes but by a global community comprised of thousands of verified hotel technology users across more than 127 countries. Best Hotel Software Companies List >>
Hotel Tech Report has announced finalists in the 2021 HotelTechAwards, based on more than 10,000 hotel software product reviews from verified hoteliers during the competition. Finalists are selected based on key performance metrics like product popularity, customer satisfaction, integration compatibility, customer support quality, and more. Winning a HotelTechAward is the highest achievement in the hotel technology industry. “In the midst of a global pandemic, 318,466 hoteliers visited Hotel Tech Report from every corner of the globe contributing over 10,000 verified new product reviews during the 3-month awards period to share insights about their favorite software products. It has been inspiring to see this massive wave of hoteliers sharing technology insights and product recommendations,” says Jordan Hollander, CEO of Hotel Tech Report. “This is the most comprehensive dataset around hotelier preferences ever developed and it gives unprecedented insights into tech trends for hotels during a pivotal moment in history. Finaling in the HotelTechAwards is a reflection of quality every company on this list should be extremely proud of what they've contributed to the growth of the hotel industry.” Hotel Tech Report authenticates reviews through a strict verification process. Further, companies are ranked based on pre-defined objective data variables to avoid the biases present in other human judged competitions. "Based on real and honest customer feedback, the HotelTechAwards really do provide the most transparent view on how technology is perceived and used across the industry,” says Sean Fitzpatrick, CEO at OTA Insight. The HotelTechAwards are often referred to as "the Grammys of Hotel Tech" and finalists are selected from more than 1,000 of the top technology products around the world. The HotelTechAwards are the industry's only data-driven awards platform with winners determined not by a handful of judges or popularity votes but by a global community comprised of thousands of verified hotel technology users across more than 120 countries. -- Competition winners will be publicly announced on January 12th -- Best Guest Experience Technology Finalists Guest Messaging Software: Whistle, EasyWay, Monscierge Guest Room Tablets: SuitePad, INTELITY Guest Survey Software: TrustYou, Guestrevu, Revinate Hospitality TV Providers: Monscierge (Apple TV) Mobile Key: ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions, FLEXIPASS Mobile Ordering: Bbot, RoomOrders Hotel Guest Apps: ALICE, INTELITY, Wishbox Best Operations Software Finalists Property Management Systems: Cloudbeds, Mews, Clock PMS+, HotelTime Staff Collaboration: hotelkit, Monscierge, ALICE Hotel Management Systems: RoomRaccoon, Cloudbeds Concierge Software: ALICE Cyber Security & Fraud Prevention: Canary Technologies, Sertifi Digital Signage: Monscierge Housekeeping Software: hotelkit, ALICE, Optii Marketplaces & Integrators: Hapi, Dailypoint Preventive Maintenance: hotelkit, ALICE, Transcendent Restaurant Management: HotelTime, Oracle MICROS POS Employee Engagement Software: hotelkit, Hotel Effectiveness, Beekeeper Contactless Check-in: EasyWay, Canary Technologies, Wishbox Spa Management: HotelTime Best Revenue Management & Finance Software Finalists Revenue Management Systems: IDeaS, Duetto, Atomize Business Intelligence: OTA Insight, Duetto, ProfitSword Central Reservations Systems: Pegasus Channel Managers: SiteMinder, Cloudbeds, D-EDGE Parity Management: OTA Insight, RateGain Rate Shopping & Market Intelligence: OTA Insight, SiteMinder, RateGain Reporting & Accounting: M3, MyDigitalOffice Upselling Software: Oaky, GuestJoy, EasyWay Best Marketing Tech Finalists Booking Engines: Cloudbeds, Bookassist, SiteMinder Hotel CRM & Email Marketing: Revinate, Profitroom, Dailypoint Digital Marketing Agencies: Bookassist, Avvio, Net Affinity Direct Booking Tools: Triptease, Hotelchamp Website Live Chat and Chatbot: Asksuite, Whistle Independent Loyalty Programs: The GuestBook Metasearch & Ad Tech: Bookassist, Avvio, Koddi Reputation Management: TrustYou, Guestrevu, Revinate Hotel Website Design: Bookassist, Avvio, Profitroom Best Meetings & Events Tech Finalists Event Management Software: Event Temple Group Sourcing & RFP Software: MeetingPackage, Venuesuite Meetings Intelligence Software: Duetto, IDeaS Sales CRM: Event Temple, MeetingPackage
“Love your staff.” That’s the secret to running a successful hotel according to the founder of the iconic One Aldwych in London. It’s great advice and an essential mantra for hospitality, which is a people business at its core. That mantra is put to the test during hospitality industry downturns, such as the COVID pandemic or the financial crisis of 2008. Faced with uncertainty and economic headwinds, managers must balance the needs of the business with those of its people. So it's understandable that you may be asking yourself, “How can I be a good manager?” It's an important question and an indication that you're already well on your way to being an effective leader. Self-awareness and a desire to improve are two valuable traits in any manager. “Love your staff.” That’s the secret to running a successful hotel according to the founder of the iconic One Aldwych in London. It’s great advice and an essential mantra for hospitality, which is a people business at its core. Whether you're working towards your bachelor's degree in hospitality management, an assistant general manager looking to up your game or even a veteran hotel manager and expert in hotel operations - this article shares timeless tips for becoming a better manager. 1. A Great Hotel Manager Must be Honest and Objective Always be honest with your staff! You don't want to sugarcoat things, hide from the truth, or seem aloof, evasive or uncaring. Your staff will see through any BS anyhow, so it’s best to be as honest as possible (without being mean). At a time when stress and emotions run high, stay objective. It helps keep your head level and your approached even-handed. Dialing too deep into emotions can create an inconsistent experience for individual staff members. That breeds feelings of unfairness and resentment, as individuals feel they’re being treated differently. Avoid that and stay both objective and honest. 2. Hotel Management Happens in the Lobby, Get out of the Office When times are tough, the last thing you want is for staff to think you’re hiding in your office. Get out into the hotel and stay connected with all aspects of the property. You’ll have a better understanding of the current mood and operational needs. This is called “Management By Walking Around (MBWA),” and it keeps you up front and visible with staff. You lead by example and show them that you’re active and engaged, rather than hidden away in the office. Being visible is also a fantastic way to provide a top-notch guest experience. Greeting guests and being available to address comments or concerns keeps you in tune with their needs -- a personalized approach that encourages glowing reviews and builds your online reputation. Remember that it’s not enough to just get out of the office: you also must interact with others to really catalyze the benefit, says Mark Hamister, CEO of the Hamister Hospitality Group: “Adding an "I" for Interaction to MBWA enabled us to finally encourage teamwork between management and staff, increase the number of informal problem-solving opportunities on a daily basis, and thereby produce immediate and creative solutions.” 3. The Best General Managers Prioritize Speed Over Precision If there's was a TLDR (too long didn't read) headline for GM job descriptions, it would read "do everything, always". Whether you realize it or not, your team takes cues from your confidence and posture. As their leader, you set the bar. Especially during times of crisis, when circumstances change often, you must be a fearless leader. You don’t have the luxury of rumination. So you must be decisive and prioritize speed over precision. Even if you have to fake it because you are freaking out inside, act fast and with conviction. See the next point for a specific tactic that requires a good leader to be decisive. 4. The Hotel Manager Job Requires Firing Quickly and Fairly Staffing is the #1 challenge for most hotels during normal (i.e. non-COVID times). A general manager needs to be highly skilled in human resources management. Part of that includes finding the best talent, but that also, unfortunately, includes firing employees who aren't a good cultural fit. A single bad apple can destroy the culture of an organization. Even if you have to fire people today, you may want to hire them once the downturn eases and demand returns. The last thing you want to do is leave a poor impression that scuttles employee loyalty. Do right by them, as you may want to bring former employees back rather than trying to find new staff. Furloughs may become temporary as the downturn drags on. And you may even need to fire employees that you recently brought back on. Firing is often the worst part of being a manager. It's emotionally exhausting and extremely difficult. But don’t delay the inevitable, as making several rounds of smaller layoffs leads to lower morale. To minimize the stress of an already difficult situation, fire quickly and fairly. Make an honest appraisal of what you need to do to keep the lights on and then make those decisions quickly. You also want to be fair and as transparent as possible about how these decisions were made. Avoid politics and personal preferences to avoid favoritism or ill-will. And always follow the traits above: Be objective, honest and helpful! 5. Interpersonal Skills are Key: Listen, Listen, Listen! Great leaders are great listeners. They're able to listen, synthesize and act based on what they’ve learned. Listening is the foundation of hospitality, as it builds mutual understanding, meaningful relationships and memorable, experiences, says Gary Gutierrez of HRI Lodging in New Orleans: “For hoteliers, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Running a hotel, like life, is all about how you make people feel.” And it’s not just with guests; sometimes it's just about being a friendly ear for your team. You don't have to be a therapist but you certainly have to be there to listen. Oftentimes, that’s what your team needs most: a sympathetic ear. 6. Be Available to Your Staff Make it crystal clear that you are a manager with an open door policy. Build trust with your staff by listening to their concerns and doing what you can to address them. Different roles require different styles of communication and hospitality management employs a highly diverse employee base. Front office and guest service workers are generally very social and outgoing where engineers and chefs, for example, might require a more logical and direct approach. Of course, much of it will be out of your hands. So just listen and empathize. Be there for your staff and they will have your back. Even in tough times, people know when they are treated fairly and with respect - and that makes a lasting impression. Sometimes an open-door policy may not be enough to encourage employees to surface issues. Experiment with holding office hours, which are open to anyone and held at the same frequency (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly). You also should offer anonymous channels of communication. Not everyone is comfortable with face to face conversations. To reduce gossip, prevent abuse and shorten the distance between you and your employees, make an anonymous feedback channel for your staff. Anonymity helps you build trust and address concerns quickly before they get out of control. 7. Embrace Creativity, Patiently A crisis is an ideal time to experiment and try new things. It pulls you out of the everyday routine and provides an organic opportunity to embrace creativity. Convene your staff and encourage them to brainstorm creative ways to both address the current crisis and build resilience for future ones. One of the corollary benefits to creativity is that it often engages your staff. Most people respond well to being asked to brainstorm ideas and contribute to the success of the organization. By unleashing your the creativity of your staff, you inspire and bring out the best, which also nurturing potential future leaders, says Paul Patiño of the Saguaro Palm Springs: “The true challenge is being that leader that can move everyone in the same direction together and bring out the best in each person, inspiring them to be better versions than they already are. All great things take time, patience, and lots of love.” 8. Get Creative and Do More with Less Hotels everywhere are trying to do more with less. There’s fewer bookings which means fewer people working on property. Look for opportunities to economize your operational footprint and be as efficient as possible. If you can find room in the budget, invest in new technology that preserves service standards despite being short-staffed -- and reduces the burden on your small team overloaded with tasks. Hotel technology like revenue management systems should be viewed drivers of profitability rather than cost centers at your hotel. For operations managers at large hotels or hotel chains, preventive maintenance software can keep down long term equipment replacement expenses. Lodging managers and owners of small hotels can use technology like guest messaging software to deliver impeccable service to guests even when running with a light staffing model. Roll your sleeves up and show your team but no task is too small. It’s all-hands-on-deck, so step up and lead by example. This behavior will build trust and motivate your staff, as well as create a “we’re all in this together” mindset. 9. Be Helpful and Humble Great managers aren't just good listeners and clear communicators, they're also helpful. Management experience tends to strengthen humility and empathy amongst top leaders yet exacerbate arrogance amongst weak ones. The hotel industry is a people business and while this is our last recommendation it's arguably the most important. As a trusted resource, you show staff that you care and that it’s ok for them to bring their whole selves to work. When you fire people, offer to write recommendation letters and do help them in their job search. When you discipline individuals, provide clear performance improvement tips that help them improve. When you walk around the property, be helpful to guests and staff - helpfulness is a form of hospitality, after all! You also must be humble. As someone in a position of authority, it’s easy to think that your position makes you the best person to solve the problem. But that leaves blindspots and leads to employees feeling disengaged at work. That’s not a good recipe for hospitality! To avoid this, leaders don’t just listen but also ask to lead with questions, says Joseph Kirtley, GM at Highgate Hotels: “Leaders often feel that we are supposed to have all the answers. In actuality, being a great leader takes humility, and asking the right questions. Opening yourself to the strengths and knowledge of those around you takes you to another level.” Did we miss any? Reach out over live chat to share your favorite tips with the Hotel Tech Report community!
Due to the developments in recent months, it has become clear that historical reference points do not offer the guidance they once did. But while this may make hotel forecasting seem impossible now, it’s more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the hotel industry especially hard, and we are still facing great uncertainty. Revenue managers are under pressure to maximize revenue from the little business a hotel has. At the same time, hoteliers find it challenging to set the correct prices in today’s shifting markets. This has led the hospitality industry to talk more about forward-leaning data, how to access it and use it to optimize revenue and help to forecast demand more accurately. Future Demand Data Provides a Unique Competitive Advantage for Hoteliers To be successful in this new landscape, relying solely on on-the-books (OTB) data is not enough. Hoteliers must rethink their approach and adapt to the current market conditions by using advanced resources. Then they can move beyond the recovery period, find new demand pockets and revenue streams which might require developing new business models and/or new concept offerings. Moving forward, the key to success for today's hoteliers will demand a proactive, data-driven approach supported by innovative tech tools and top-of-funnel demand information. Top-of-funnel data will revolutionize the industry by providing hoteliers with the capability to better predict true demand based on booking and travel intent. On top of that, the ability to gain these insights automatically by supportive tech solutions will be a total game-changer and provide a unique competitive advantage for hoteliers. “Historical reference points don't offer the guidance they once did. Hotel forecasting is extremely challenging in these times, however, looking into the future and planning for it has never been more important. Revenue managers must focus more on current and forward-looking data to predict demand and adjust pricing at the right time. Understanding true demand data in the future, like for example the intent to travel, will allow revenue managers to create realistic forecasts which will no longer be based on historical on-the-books data,” says Alexander Edström, CEO at Atomize. Benefits of using Future Demand Data in Your Revenue Management Strategy Using forward-looking data brings many valuable benefits you won’t get just from looking at historical data. Among other things, using forward-leaning data can help you do the following: Identify high-demand days and market anomalies to stay ahead of the game and maximize revenue. Monitor hotel booking demand and booking intent in your geographical hotel market, 365 days into the future. Stay ahead of your competition since the availability and adoption of future demand data is still extremely low in the industry. Since this may sound a bit abstract, let’s look at three ways you can apply predictive, forward-looking market intelligence in day-to-day decision-making to maximize your revenue. Leverage Localized Demand Insights Forward-looking demand data takes into account how demand for your destination is trending in various source markets. Once you know which markets are interested in your city and which stay dates they’re searching for, you can create geo-targeted ads and promotions for this source market. Use this to direct more of the existing demand to your property and let your RMS support you with optimized rate suggestions. Get Deeper Competitive Insights Pair forward-looking demand data with competition insights to understand how your competitors are reacting to changing demand in the short and long term. Having this bird’s eye view of the market helps you accurately position your property among your primary compset and in the market overall. This means you reduce the risk of outpricing yourself all while maintaining optimal rates following real-time changes in the market. Complete Market Overview for Refined Revenue Strategies Top-of-funnel data looks beyond current competitor rates and trends on OTAs. It gives you the bigger picture by including GDS, flight, event, holiday data and much more. Since this is much more data than any team could ever collect and analyze manually, a business intelligence tool comes in handy. It will give you the chance to see your market and future demand as a whole instead of just individual snapshots. Use this information to refine your revenue strategy and optimize tactics and decisions both in the short and long term. “Market conditions for hoteliers have changed drastically with fundamental shifts in traveler behavior and constantly evolving demand patterns. Understanding traveler search patterns and upper-funnel data has become essential for hotels to capture demand before their competition,” said Sean Fitzpatrick, CEO of OTA Insight. In AtomizeRMS the users will be able to Identify high demand days and market anomalies. The demand data from Market Insight will be processed together with Atomize’s other data sources, including both historical and future on the books data, to identify dates with high future revenue opportunities. How Can I as a Hotelier Get Access to Forward-Looking Data? Until recently, OTAs have mostly possessed a monopoly on forward-looking demand data. Business intelligence tools like OTA Insight’s Market Insight can now reveal this data to hotels providing hoteliers with aggregated data sets that reflect hotel booking demand and travel intent in any geographical hotel market, 365 days into the future. To take things a step further and ensure rates are always optimized in real-time, this data can be fed directly into an RMS to improve rate recommendations. A recent partnership between Atomize RMS and Market Insight enables hotels to do exactly that and to better navigate current and future markets by providing more insight into the volume of travelers searching for and arriving in their respective markets. For a hotelier, this brings a unique competitive advantage and provides better conditions to predict, forecast, and boost future business, revenue, and profitability.
In many respects, 2020 was supposed to be a milestone year. It has a pleasant ring to it, with balance and heft. It also had a convenient correlation to the optometrist’s shorthand for perfect vision. Well, 2020 certainly was a milestone -- but for reasons that no one ever could have predicted. Given that hindsight is always 20/20, we figured it was time to look back on the history of travel and pull out some of the most important innovations in travel technology over the last half-century. It was a period of tremendous growth, with major expansions of the industry in all directions: land, sea, air. The tourism industry grew from around 165 million in 1970 to 1.5 billion in 2019 (obviously 2020 is an outlier here, so we went with 2019). Technology was a tremendous force in driving this growth in travel, mirroring broader trends in technology-fueled growth across the global economy. So which travel tech innovations had the greatest impact and fundamentally and positively changed the trajectory of the industry? Here's a timeline of the most important moments in travel technology over the last 50 years. Each signifies a milestone that influenced travel’s journey, ultimately becoming a global industry that provides opportunities for millions of people. The travel industry is changing rapidly and even the dominant online travel agencies aren't safe from disruption. New technology from augmented reality to next-gen social media like TikTok will continue to change the way we get inspired, where we go and how we share our travel experiences. Pressing questions lie ahead as we think about the next 50 years and to predict the future it's important that we first understand the past. The past informs our thinking around transformative questions like: If virtual reality becomes ultra-realistic will we still want to travel in the future? Will biometrics safety tech be so accurate that we'll no longer have lines at the airport? Will the internet of things (IOT) help travel companies deliver hyper-personalized travel experiences? Let's hop on a time machine through the last 50 years of travel innovation! January 1970: The 747 officially enters service The era of mass tourism really took off with the Boeing 747, which was in and of itself a technical marvel. For the first time, tourists could be transported in large numbers across vast distances. Both leisure and business travel became not just more practical and convenient but also a bit more affordable, as airlines could lower prices by packing more people into a single aircraft. October 1971: Magic Kingdom opens in Florida And with it began the relentless global march of theme parks worldwide. As the first expansion beyond Disneyland in California, it not only heralded the beginning of an era of mass tourism and packaged culture -- but also the idea that technology could enable more fluid in-person experiences: the entire kingdom was built one story above ground level to accommodate utilidors, the passageways that cloak all operations from public view. That preserves the fantasy -- and put the “magic” in the kingdom. 1976: SABRE opens to travel agents Since going live in 1960, the GDS had transformed how American Airlines managed its bookings. But the real moment that mattered was when SABRE opened up to travel agents. This meant that travel agents could more efficiently serve customers and thus accelerated the popularity of package tours, resort destinations and last-minute travel. Eventually, of course, Amadeus and Travelport entered the market, further fueling travel’s digital transformation, such as OTAs making self-serve travel a reality. 1976: FOSSE installed as Marriott’s first PMS Dave Berkus wrote the code for his PMS in 1974, growing his business rapidly as he installed his property management system at more hotels. Eventually, Marriott licensed the technology, called it FOSSE, rolled it out worldwide...and proceeded to use it for nearly three decades! The PMS was a companion to existing Central Reservations Systems, which managed reservations externally but didn’t offer functionality to manage internal operations and the guest experience. Today, there are nearly 700 PMS vendors, alongside other hospitality technologies that help hotels manage operations, reservations and customer relationships. Legacy tech held sway for decades, but cloud-based options are loosening the grip. [source] 1976: Foreign currency exchange replaces gold standard With the Jamaica Agreement among IMF member countries, floating exchange rates became the global norm. Travel between nations would eventually be influenced greatly by the relative value of each country’s currency, creating a new dynamic in how travel trends unfolded around the world. Fluctuations in currency valuations would now influence the ebbs and flows of travelers based on their home currency’s relative strength and weakness. May 1981: American Airlines launches loyalty program American Airlines wasn't the first to launch a loyalty program (that honor goes to the defunct Texas International Airlines). But it remains the world’s largest and longest continuously operating loyalty program. Marriott followed closely after, launching its loyalty program in 1983. Loyalty would eventually become a billion-dollar business for hotels and airlines, who benefited from the rise of premium rewards credit cards. An early AAdvantage loyalty card shared on FlyerTalk Forum September 1983: GPS goes public Originally developed for military use, President Ronald Reagan opened the system up to the public in September 1983 after a Soviet jet accidentally shot down a Korean passenger plane. Since then, GPS has been the lynchpin for so many of travel’s transformation technologies. What would rideshare be without mapping? How popular would the iPhone have been without point-to-point directions? Would travelers be comfortable exploring new places in such great numbers without the help of digital maps? The cost would have been too prohibitive for any one company to develop this technology on its own. A military GPS tracker prior to its public release [source] January 1988: The first STAR Report The STR report has become the world’s most indispensable source of market intelligence for the hospitality industry. With the Smith Travel Accommodations Report (STAR), hotels could use actual aggregated data to measure performance against similar hotels. The STAR became indispensable and maintained its place at the center of a revolution in data-driven market intelligence. The STAR report became an essential part of hotel revenue management. Early 1990s: Marriott creates Demand Forecasting System Taking a cue from the nascent application of revenue management in the airline industry, Marriott created a Demand Forecasting System for its full-service hotels and a Revenue Management System for its limited service ones (read the genesis story here, it’s a good one!). By building models to predict demand, the hotel could more accurately price its rooms and optimize its revenues. This strategy was obviously transformative and became widely used across the industry -- especially as cloud computing made revenue management more practical for hotels of all sizes. October 1996: Microsoft Expedia Travel Services Expedia started as an internal project within Microsoft. Its launch in 1996 heralded a sea change in the way travel was booked. No longer reliant on travel agents and ticketing departments, travelers could now research and book travel for themselves. Eventually joined by Booking.com, Google and hundreds others, Expedia entered the scene just as millions of people were accessing the internet for the first time. As pure-play technology companies, OTAs rapidly cemented themselves at the center of the industry. An early version of the Expedia website [source] February 2000: Salesforce launches its Web API The first enterprise application programming interface (API) was launched by Salesforce at its IDG Demo conference. Its XML API was the first out of the gate, unleashing a wave of innovation as businesses could share data with other companies and customers in an entirely customizable manner. As APIs proliferated, data silos fell. Organizations could build applications that pushed and pulled data across products internally, while also making data more accessible to external partners. This accessibility drove innovations around open APIs, which enabled hospitality brands to build customized tech stacks with two-way data sync, all at a lower-cost than legacy tech. The original Salesforce site. [source] 2001: First review added to Tripadvisor Tripadvisor began as a personalized trip planning website that aggregated reviews from guidebooks. But a small button asking visitors to add reviews took off, with eager travelers leaving reviews en masse. As the first user review site in travel, Tripadvisor began to wield extraordinary power over traveler decisions. Hotels began to watch their online reputations closely, focused on both responding to reviews and getting guests to share positive experiences online. Yelp followed in 2004, cementing user reviews at the center of the online reputation economy. June 26, 2001 from the Wayback Machine. June 2004: CouchSurfing and “live like a local” home-sharing Conceived in 1999 and launched in 2004, CouchSurfing was a precursor to the commercialization of home-sharing by Airbnb. Alongside other sites like Hospitality Exchange, it offered travelers an online platform to connect with locals. These “hosts” would not only share their homes with travelers but would often become local guides, showing travelers a real slice of local life -- yep, this was also the original “live like a local” brand promise! [source] April 2006: Google Translate introduces instant translation While translation services transformed the way that we communicated across cultures, instant translation changed how we interact in real-time with others. Google Translate was the first mainstream instant translation service. Launched in 2006, it started off as browser-only and struggled to be accurate and sensible. Even in its earliest iteration, it was a tremendous help to travelers. Today, the app now supports 109 languages, with 500 million users translating 100 billion words per day. The app also translates photos and has a “conversation mode” so travelers can communicate fluidly with others. Instant translation also became a standard feature on Apple's latest iOS 14 update, which includes a Translate app that supports 10 languages. Users can download languages for offline translation and can also set up automatic language detection, which makes it a must-have tool for any traveler. Google Translate’s simple interface made instant translation easy August 2006: Amazon Web Services and cloud computing Cloud computing has been a fulcrum for innovation. Dave Berkus, investor and inventor of FOSSE PMS, sees cloud as central to the future of hospitality technology: “If we look ahead ten years, and certainly beyond 10 years, it would be easy to see a single cloud based system integrating everything from CRM to reservations to the accounting functions at the properties, all the way through all forms of marketing and follow-through.” Amazon Web Services accelerated adoption of cloud computing by making it easy for companies to access shared server space on a “pay what you use basis.” Eventually embraced by Microsoft, Google, IBM, Oracle and others, cloud computing helped enterprises reduce IT infrastructure costs and increase flexibility. For startups, the technology was even more transformative, as it reduced upfront IT costs and simplified scaling up to accommodate demand. [source] June 2007: the iPhone changes everything After the GDS, which streamlined the buying and selling of travel via phone and online, the iPhone arguably had the biggest impact on travel. It was the start of the mobile computing era, which would eventually put smartphones in the hands of billions of people worldwide. Now travelers could take their computers wherever they went, meaning that they could make reservations at restaurants, search for things to do and, most importantly, stay in touch with friends and family while traveling. The smartphone became an indispensable tool -- and massive fulcrum for the growth of the industry, becoming cameras, contactless credit cards, room keys, taxi dispatchers, check-in counters, mobile travel agents and local guides. The first iPhone on display in 2007 [source] August 2008: Airbnb ushers in the home-sharing economy Originally called Airbed & Breakfast, Airbnb essentially commercialized the CouchSurfing model of connecting travelers with locals offering a place to stay. It gave homeowners a way to monetize unused space and fulfilled the emerging “live like a local” traveler ethos. The company would eventually transform the entire hospitality industry by expanding the diversity of accommodation types worldwide. Hotels were threatened, local governments bristled, and Airbnb grew to be a behemoth. The concept would rapidly expand to other assets, such as cars, boats and RVs, forever changing the economics of stuff -- and giving travelers an entirely new way to experience the world. 2010: UberCab launches rideshare revolution Taxis had long been a pain point in travel. From unknown wait times and handsy drivers to cabbies not wanting to go to certain neighborhoods and price-gouging at the airport, grabbing a cab was always a bit fraught. Now, with cabs on demand, pricing was transparent, wait time was visible and a driver’s reputation upfront. Travel would be forever different. Early images of UberCab October 2011: Apple integrates Siri into iPhone 4 Voice forever changed the way that we interact with our devices. The journey began when Apple integrated its Siri voice technology into the iPhone 4. As one of the earliest efforts in voice control, it was far from perfect. But it signaled a shift in thinking about the flexibility and accessibility of our digital devices. The adoption of voice accelerated with Amazon's Alexa in 2014 and Google's voice assistant in 2016. With all the major players integrating voice, it's now become a ubiquitous way to interact with our devices -- including the curtains, lights and appliances in smart hotel rooms! Original coverage of voice control by Engadget. November 2014: Digital keys become the next must-have Demagnetized cards are frustrating -- even more so when you happen to be in Vegas and the front desk is half a mile away. The first hotel chain to introduce digital keys was Starwood, who piloted the SPG Keyless program at 10 hotels in November 2014. Other brands followed close behind, with Hilton announcing a similar pilot later that year. Since then, keyless has become standard across hotels worldwide. Digital keys also became a clever driver of loyalty, as digital keys could only be accessed by members. Keyless entry also has become a major part of the vacation rental experience, allowing owners to manage properties remotely without a traditional “hand off” of keys. The ease of access was welcomed by guests, which often valued the self-service aspects of vacation rentals in the first place. Keyless entry becomes standard as hotels partner with technology vendors worldwide. 2014: Uplift brings “buy now, pay later” to travel Even before Diner’s Club launched its charge card in 1950, most department stores offered some sort of installment plan. Then, as banks began to issue credit cards that didn't need to be paid off each month, America turned to credit and installments fell out of favor. Other regions preferred installment payments over credit, with certain countries (like Brazil) maintaining a strong consumer desire to pay in installments. In 2014, FinTech startup Uplift began offering its core service: a “buy now, pay later” installment option integrated directly into the payment systems of major travel suppliers. There’s also Affirm, which integrated with Expedia in 2016, and FOMO Travel, which offers interest-free payment plans for travel booked through its partners. Uplift integrates within the checkout flow [source] Bonus: Travel insurance The first known seller of travel insurance was James Batterson, who opened his travel-focused agency in 1864. For those who could afford to travel, the insurance was a must-have, given the risks of traveling long during that era. Today, travel insurance has become a global industry with a variety of options that range from stand-alone policies, add-ons to existing health insurance policies and benefits attached to premium credit cards. Travel insurance is an important innovation as it provides peace of mind and confidence for travelers. Travel insurance that can be customized to individual needs offers a backstop to uncertainty for travelers. Of course, the global pandemic revealed how complex the product has become, with many travelers realizing that their policy did not cover COVID. -- The tourism industry is one of the most exciting and rewarding career paths one can take - staying on top of travel technology trends is critical to success. Did we miss any major innovations? Let us know over live chat so we can add yours to the list!