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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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How to Build a Data Driven Culture at Your Hotel Organization

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Are you wondering how to make better decisions at your hotel? Have you heard about the benefits of a data-driven culture, but you’re feeling unsure of how to change the mindset at your property? Building a data-driven culture is challenging, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, especially when faced with talent shortages, teams that operate in silos, and a lack of guidance about incorporating data into hospitality businesses. But it is indeed possible to shift your organization’s culture to be one where data is accessible and actionable, and where decisions are driven not by the highest paid person’s opinion, but by hard data. In such a culture, decisions can be made more efficiently and confidently, and employees at all levels of seniority feel valued. In this article, we’ll explain the benefits of a data-driven culture and how you can transform your hotel organization to one that encourages collaboration and makes better decisions.   Advantages of a Data-Driven Culture Simply storing guest information in a database doesn’t automatically make your organization “data-driven,” and it’s what you do with the data that counts. But why bother digging into that database? Organizations with data-driven cultures can realize three main benefits: Deeper understanding of performance. Did we sell out? Did we surpass last month’s RevPAR? Did we compress the booking window too much? Data can help you answer these questions and more, giving you new insights that can help you monitor progress and achieve your goals. More efficient decision-making. Imagine you’re in a meeting with department heads, brainstorming ways to hit budget for next month. You might throw around dozens of ideas, but without really knowing the root cause of the lag in performance, you go through pros and cons of various initiatives, and quite often the decision is made on instinct rather than on data. Instead of taking this circuitous route to a decision, data can help you pinpoint where exactly you need to improve, which expedites the decision making process. Increased coordination between employees and teams. With quick data sharing, an organization can speed up feedback cycles.  Waiting for quarterly business reviews to work across teams and properties means that by the time your counterparts understand the data - it's already out of date.  Coordination between teams is facilitated by real-time digital sharing. It’s important to remember that although “data-driven culture” might sound like a buzzword, it’s not a passing trend. Adopting a culture rooted in data shouldn’t be treated like a temporary experiment or an excuse for gathering data that you don’t intend to use. Be mindful that the overarching goal of collecting data is to leverage it to make better decisions, foster collaboration, and keep tabs on performance.   Start by Removing Friction in Data Collection Let’s take a step back; before you can encourage your employees to embrace data and use it to make decisions, you need to ensure your data is readily available. If your staff need to jump through hoops to find the metrics they want to use, then you’re going to see minimal adoption of a data-driven mindset.   HotelIQ's Decision Cloud facilitates cross-functional hotel data sharing   With the goal of using data to make better decisions, we recommend assessing the availability of your data. Start by determining key areas where data is collected and analyzed. At many hotels, this will be the property management system. Does your PMS have ready-made dashboards or tools to see insights in real-time? If so, great! Otherwise, you’ll want to invest in business intelligence software like HotelIQ that will help you synthesize the data gathered in your PMS in as close to real-time as possible.  “I previously didn't consider myself data savvy. Many programs require pulling and cross referencing of multiple reports to solve a problem and provide the analysis you're looking for. This was time consuming and left me feeling ill-equipped. I would sharpen your excel skills heavily or find a program that has more versatility. HotelIQ has reports conducive to our needs already set up, but furthermore those reports can be repurposed past their intention to find answers and areas of opportunity,” says Cara Gilbert, Revenue Analytics Manager at the Intercontinental New York Times Square. Any lag between events happening and data showing up in your dashboard could cause missed opportunities for data-driven decisions that would improve performance. For example, if you’re approaching a busy weekend, you’ll want to keep a close eye on occupancy and ADR leading up to that weekend; if the data hits your system after the weekend has passed, you’ve missed the boat. Although hotels may be slower than other organizations to welcome data, your employees are likely already handling data in other areas of their lives, which is a promising sign, as HotelIQ’s Sameer Umar sums up:  “For years hoteliers have relied on their knowledge of the market and gut feeling. While those still matter, human instincts work best when coupled with timely and reliable intelligence. You need to keep your finger on the pulse so as to avoid any (more) unpleasant surprises. Downloading data into spreadsheets and emailing each other is a good way for people to fill their days but it fails at ensuring timely realization of opportunities and threats. Not to mention the many different versions of the truth that float around in inboxes thanks to human error and/or differences in timing of data extraction etc. We live in a world where streaming data and AI are already a part of our day to day lives. They should be incorporated into our digital workspace as well.”   Create a Culture of Transparency and Collaboration Adopting a data-driven culture can increase transparency and collaboration at all levels of the organization. Numbers don’t lie; metrics can tell you exactly how your hotel is performing without sugarcoating anything. In addition, numbers aren’t political. As Rob Casper, JP Morgan’s Chief Data Officer explains, “If everybody sees what everybody else is doing, then the great ideas tend to rise to the top and the bad ideas tend to fall away.” In hotels, which are hierarchical by nature, reliance on data rather than seniority in decision making can help all employees feel more equal. So how do you achieve a transparent, collaborative environment at your hotel? First, tear down silos by sharing metrics publicly and digitally so everybody can access the same reporting. For example, revenue managers should have visibility into ad spend, and marketing staff should have visibility into booking pace. Next, make sure that you’re measuring the right metrics. Successful organizations avoid “vanity metrics” that don’t holistically track performance, and they don’t hide data that reflects poorly on their performance. Encouraging everyone to share (and trust) the right metrics will help you catch red flags early and prevent further poor performance.     Develop Data Literacy at all Levels of Your Commercial Organization If you’re determined to turn your hotel business into a data-driven one, do you have to replace your front desk agents with data scientists from tech companies? As Sameer illustrates:  “You don’t have to find data scientists with PhDs in Statistics and Economics. But you do need marketers that can explain the correlation between online searches, shopping cart abandonment, and booking patterns across channels and markets. You need sales people who work out of the CRM and know which customer(s) to contact when. You need revenue managers who stay on top of market trends and won’t drop your rates the minute booking pace dips. You need an operations team that’s constantly incorporating guest feedback to enhance the stay experience. In short, you need data-driven hoteliers.” Your hotel’s staff should remain hoteliers first; no amount of number-crunching can substitute for a friendly face at the front desk or a beautifully executed event in your ballroom. But your team should be passionate about leveraging data to achieve their goals, whether those goals are related to RevPAR, review scores, or repeat bookings. Making metrics checks a routine part of department meetings and performance reviews will help your team get more comfortable with data and showcase how monitoring performance can help them hit their targets.   Make Your Organization's Data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) By now, you’re probably excited about all the upsides to a data-driven culture in your hotel organization. As you think about how to adopt good data practices, we recommend keeping the FAIR guiding principles in mind. These principles ensure your data is: Findable: The data has clear and consistent identifiers and metadata. For example, all of your check-in dates should be labeled with a field like “Reservation Check-In Date” rather than “CID” or something that’s not instinctual. Accessible: The data can be accessed by any user, at any time, with the relevant authentication and authorization. If you pull data from third-party sources, for example, like STR or Kalibri Labs, the data should be available without needing to enter additional passwords. Interoperable: The data is integrated with other relevant data. For instance, your database of guest email addresses should be connected to your reservation database and your restaurant’s point-of-sale system so you can connect email addresses with reservation dates, room types, restaurant checks, and more. Reusable: The data should be able to be replicated or combined in different areas. If you want to pull one report that shows guest email addresses and room types, and another report that shows guest email addresses and restaurant check values, you shouldn’t need to pull your email address data twice. Sameer nicely puts FAIR principles into a hotel context:  “The cleanliness of your data is just as important as the cleanliness of your rooms...these data fields need to be clearly defined in operational systems, you need to have consistent data standards for them, staff needs to be trained to follow these standards, and data quality needs to be tracked and incentivized. Else, it’s ‘garbage in, garbage out’ and you have nothing to go on but gut-feeling.” The benefits of integrating various data sources, while keeping FAIR principles in mind, are especially relevant for hoteliers that pull value from their own systems (like your PMS) in addition to third-party sources (like STR). Connecting the two data sources can unlock even more insights. For instance, if you can benchmark your own channel mix against STR’s Market Penetration Index, you can better assess whether you have a healthy mix of channels or if you need to focus on one segment in particular. Ready to work toward a data-driven culture at your hotel? There’s no better time to start to realize benefits like increased transparency, tighter collaboration, and better decision-making. Finally, you’ll need a digital workspace where employees can collaborate. Data-driven culture doesn’t equal meeting-heavy culture; in order to be efficient, your teams should be able to access data on demand. In this digital workspace, anyone on the team should be able to plan, share, track, and comment on reports or initiatives to achieve maximum transparency and collaborative power.   This content was created collaboratively by HotelIQ and Hotel Tech Report  

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Decision Intelligence: Turning Hotel Analytics into Action

by
Sameer Umar
2 months ago

BI (business intelligence) is an organization’s ability to track data flow and in the process identify opportunities, minimize risk, and optimize the way it does business. Most businesses - not just hotels - have yet to reach that optimal level of BI maturity. Many have automated data collection, report generation, and, in some cases, data visualization. But that doesn’t mean that they’re mobilizing data into action. Quite often people use their BI platforms for nothing more than scheduling reports to be emailed to them in their inbox but reports alone do not constitute business intelligence. Thus, they’re still stuck in static spreadsheet mode when it comes to decision support. More advanced users leverage BI tools to increase their pace of discovery within the BI portal but then end up spending hours trying to re-share and explain their findings to others who are not operating in the same environment. Often they end up having long discussions with colleagues to figure out “Why don’t your numbers match my numbers?” (Day of week vs date, corporate profiles vs negotiated rate codes, time of data capture, filter by different dimensions - possibilities abound!).  Looking at automated scheduled reports is certainly a step in the right direction and even better when hotel teams are exploring data to make informed decisions. However, the shortcomings of how BI is being leveraged today are quite visible.    Enter Decision Intelligence (DI) Cassie Kozyrkov, Chief Decision Scientist at Google, describes DI as a way to augment data science with social science, decision theory, and managerial science. Thus, making it more effective at helping people actually use BI data to make better decisions. A great analogy she uses to describe the difference between data science and DI is comparing them to those who make microwave ovens and the cooks who use them. Note that by ‘data science’ she is referring to the analytics that are delivered via BI platforms. Simply put, DI is an enabler of BI’s end goal - identify opportunities, minimize risk, and optimize the way you do business. But How? Firstly, it’s important to note that BI and DI are not just technologies but rather evolving organizational capabilities. In order to succeed you need data-driven culture, people, and tools. The first two you cannot buy off-the-shelf from any technology provider. They have to be embraced as strategic organizational objectives. Once that commitment is made and you actively start working towards it, here are 4 ways to get you much further with your data than basic self-service BI reports:   1. Centralize & Correlate Hoteliers today are working with a deluge of valuable data from their transaction systems (PMS, POS etc.) as well as market intelligence from a variety of 3rd party sources (STR, Kalibri Labs, Knowland etc.). However, very few can actually correlate their channel mix (and many other business dimensions) to something like their STR Market Penetration Index (MPI). That’s because most of the time these data sit in their own silos and no one is able to see how one is impacting the other. Hence, the obvious first step towards unlocking such insights is to centralize all this information on a BI platform that will then allow users to collect, layer, and correlate different types of data to get a holistic view of the business. In the below example, as users go across the time slicer they can see how their segment, channel, and room mixes were changing and impacting their STR indexes.   Source: HotelIQ STR Dashboard   2. Visualize & Interact  One of the worst habits people develop using spreadsheets is conditioning themselves to look at specific cells on a wall of numbers. They look at the same set of reports and glance over the same cells regularly to monitor the health of their business. Hence, when they are presented with a BI tool, their first instinct is to automate their reports. They still want the wall of numbers laid out the same way they’ve conditioned themselves to read and think. However, a huge side-effect of such conditioning is that they miss all the threats and opportunities hiding in plain sight. For example, how likely are you to spot a white tiger hiding in a dazzle of zebras?       Similarly, a miscoded rate code can bury itself in a sea of reservations. By the time you notice a dip in the overall ADR, significant damage may have already been done. However, if instead of glancing over a wall of numbers, what if your rate codes were displayed on a scatter plot? It’d highlight to you which ones are performing worse than expected and who’s performing better. Then imagine clicking on a plot and getting the information you need about it literally at your fingertips!      Source: HotelIQ Agency Trends   3. Analytics-powered Collaboration We’re all familiar with digital workspaces. If we weren’t before, the pandemic has forced us to start collaborating digitally. From Sharepoint to Slack to project management portals - all facilitate collaboration between teams. However, when it comes to sharing data and insights, most of us are still dependent on extracts and spreadsheets. Hence, teams spend an unreasonable amount of time trying to come up with a single version of the truth that everyone can agree on before they can take any decisive action. That’s where you need an analytics-powered digital collaboration platform - a portal or intranet where your strategic teams login to work everyday, access a single version of the truth (through automated data integration), share, comment, plan, and track performance. There are also many other advantages to digital collaboration.   4. AI-powered Decision Support Once you have centralized all your data and your team is able to easily explore, share, and collaborate, the obvious next step is to determine what course of action to take. That’s where AI can elevate your decision making capabilities significantly by processing historical and current data trends to highlight risks and opportunities that lie ahead. However, quite often we get fixated on the accuracy of AI predictions. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that no one has a crystal ball that can accurately predict the future. Instead, we need to focus on the reliability and reasonableness of AI’s input in our decision making process. It may not be able to predict a pandemic but can certainly highlight unusual activity that requires your attention much faster than a normal human can. Let’s put it this way, if you have a junior analyst who is very thorough and meticulous in her work, would the CEO leave all the decision making to her? AI is like that analyst and should be treated the same way - pay attention to what AI tells you and then make informed decisions.   Source: HotelIQ Risk to Achievement Dashboard   Ultimately, technology and decision science will continue to evolve. There will be even more sophisticated ways to enable consumption of information by businesses and means to let them action it. However, unlike tactical technologies like a phone or a refrigerator, there is no leap-frogging when it comes to analytical capabilities of an organization. The longer you delay building that culture and bringing in those solutions, the harder it will be to stay competitive in the information age. 

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N2Pricing™ RMS: Boost Revenue With Supercharged Analytics and Time-Saving Simplicity

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Selecting the right revenue management systems (RMS) for your properties is one of the most consequential decisions you will make as a revenue management leader. And today’s turbulent times have stretched revenue teams to breaking and forced them to confront aspects of their current systems — from forecasting to multi-property management, cost, and beyond— that must better serve their new needs. In the wake of the pandemic, the business dynamics of 2021/2022 are very different from the hotel business we knew in 2019.  Staffing shortages have forced hoteliers to wear many hats and be more connected cross-functionally.  Historical data isn’t as indicative of the future as it used to be, leading to forecasting challenges.  Even your compset may have changed. Revenue Analytics, the firm that designed pricing systems for major global brands including Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG built N2Pricing™, an RMS available to hotels everywhere at an affordable price.  Developing and refining the tool during the heart of the pandemic enabled the team to start from first principles and build an RMS designed to meet and overcome modern revenue challenges. Revenue Analytics gave Hotel Tech Report an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at their new N2Pricing software where we drilled into the elements driving commercial success for today’s revenue management teams. In this article, we’ll explain how N2Pricing is empowering forward-thinking revenue leaders to help their time-and-budget-strapped RM teams boost their current efficiency, revenue, and profit. Intuitive Workflow Optimized for Multi-Property Revenue Managers Revenue management teams have taken on more responsibility in the wake of the pandemic and multi-property revenue managers are replacing single property managers at a rapid clip. Multi-property teams face different problems than single property revenue managers.  Those who manage a portfolio have less time and local market knowledge to make smart decisions.  N2Pricing has built a true multi-property RMS with an intuitive UI and workflow specifically designed to support multi-property managers. At login, the software shows users the most worthwhile, actionable opportunities to focus on across the portfolio – whether at a large hotel or a smaller property—so they never miss out on big revenue levers.  All recommendations are displayed in a simple user interface that is easy to understand.  Opportunities and recommendations are sorted in the system by the size of expected profit yield to help time-strapped revenue managers easily prioritize and execute. N2Pricing supports an RM’s need to automate all but the most critical decisions.     Top Statistical Modeling Techniques to Deliver Hyper Accurate Forecasts Many revenue management teams will tell you their demand forecast is broken. One obvious culprit is the pandemic and the havoc it has wreaked on historical data. But even before COVID, many were concerned about the accuracy of the forecasts. Unfortunately, this is not a small problem.  The demand forecast is the central capability of an RMS and even small changes in accuracy can lead to large swings in results. N2Pricing uses a dynamic forecast with adjustable weighting that’s both robust and precise, so RMs can address the impact of COVID on their data.  It also uses an ever-growing library of 1,500+ forecast models and a “pick-best” process to select the most accurate algorithm for each hotel and market segment, ensuring the height of accuracy at all times. N2Pricing incorporates future demand signals to help RMs augment the intel provided by historical data.  The timing and number of intraday updates is fully customizable with rapid responses to pacing.  N2Pricing also automatically identifies special events and appropriately adjusts the forecast to account for them – automation that saves cluster RMs time.   Transparent Recommendations with High Acceptance Rates One of the single biggest problems in any hotel tech product is user adoption (i.e. getting your team to actually use software and use it correctly).  Many revenue teams find themselves overriding a large proportion of rate recommendations in their revenue management systems. In some cases the rate recommendations either don’t make sense and in others they are too opaque/black box to give their users confidence in the math behind each programmatic decision N2Pricing boasts an extremely high acceptance rate of 80%+ which the company attributes to accuracy and decision transparency. Simple metrics like price sensitivity are exposed for each rate recommendation so that revenue managers and even general managers can quickly grasp the “why” behind the price recommendation and accept it.     Future Demand Signal Data (e.g. Hotel and Flight Searches) Built Right into N2Pricing Forecasts With historical data on the fritz, more and more revenue leaders are looking beyond history and bookings to future signals to get a clearer picture of demand and move ahead of the booking curve. It’s critical in today’s world that RMSs can ingest forward-looking demand data to maximize utility. N2Pricing ingests this data into their forecast so revenue managers can easily make decisions based on it.  This data includes everything from hotel and flight search data to alternative accommodation availability (number of alternative accommodation listings you may be up against for different LOS and their price points) and dynamic compset (how your rates and availability measure up against a wider selection of competitors that change as markets shift).   Simple RMS Mobile App for GMs on the Go Revenue management is complex and time consuming which makes involving time-strapped general managers in key decisions difficult.  But these GMs are key revenue management decision makers.  This complexity means that GMs either must sit through an 80-hour training to understand rate recommendations or (more often) defer training because they simply don’t have the time. The result? GMs don’t use the system correctly or fight it with overrides, making the investment in the RMS wasted budget. N2Pricing is built with a variety of features and benefits designed specifically to help revenue managers better serve the GMs they collaborate with on a daily basis. GMs will mostly be interested in reviewing the recommendations screen where they can quickly see the most important rate change recommendations default sorted by profit potential.  This way GMs who are stretched thin can review the top three to five major decisions in just minutes each day. The interface is simple for non-experts to understand – it includes just the features GMs need and none of the fluff (and data) they don’t.  N2Pricing is also fully mobile for on-the-go management and provides intuitive rationale for every price recommendation to boost acceptance.       Is N2Pricing Right for Your Hotel? Did you know that today 33% of hotel rooms in North America are priced using algorithms built by Revenue Analytics for clients like IHG, Marriott, and Hyatt?  The revenue management technology behind N2Pricing has been in use for 15+ years by hospitality brands Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, and Starwood.  Revenue Analytics has decades of experience building and integrating customer RMSs into large brands, meaning their internal processes make implementation a breeze. N2Pricing’s UI was built to simplify and streamline without sacrificing power and intelligence. It surfaces all the features and data multi-property managers need to make efficient use of their time, while providing pathways for them to dive in and dig deeper when they need to tackle a business problem.  Intuitive software makes revenue managers more productive day-to-day and also makes training fast and easy ​​while empowering other key decision makers like GMs to quickly jump in and be able to leverage the tool in their decision making process too. N2Pricing is a fresh, modern take on critical revenue management technology.  N2Pricing is a high-quality RMS trusted by the best at a reasonable price point.  If your team wants to boost efficiency, revenue, and profit—all at a reasonable cost– you should check out N2Pricing.   This content was created collaboratively by Revenue Analytics and Hotel Tech Report.

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

When hotels began to reopen with skeleton crews mid-way through the pandemic, the broader industry started to think about hospitality technology as the key driver to running stronger businesses despite weaker resource availability. Hotel Tech Report traffic data illustrates that despite a sidelined hospitality workforce - there is more interest in hotel technology than ever before.  HTR recently publicized platform data showing 270% growth from March 2020 to 140k+ monthly hoteliers in May of 2021 (14-months into the pandemic). Vendors are innovating in lockstep with hotelier demand for new technology.  Last week our team headed to the first HITEC event since 2019 to scout the latest innovations and save you time staying up to date with recent hotel tech product launches.  This article is packed with the latest tools being developed by top tech firms to help you optimize and grow your hotel business. While researching for this article, our team reviewed 96 different product/feature launches to curate the list below based on the most exciting innovations in the market and then synthesized the top 50 innovations into six key trends. Please reach out via live chat if we've missed a critical innovation or trend! WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECAP: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover Mobile checkin is the new black Guest data management is in the spotlight Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers   Trend #1: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues If you ask any restaurant, retail shop or hotel owner these days 'how's it going?', their first response will likely be to tell you how difficult it is to find and retain talent.  The mass service industry layoffs and furlows at the beginning pandemic coupled with the elogated impact on the global travel industry from the Delta variant caused a mass labor exodus from the hospitality industry.  While city centers continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic, many drive market destinations in many geographies are booming so much so that some have even surpassed pre-pandemic REVPAR levels such as the California wine country and are struggling to staff back up.  Whether you're in a booming drive market destination and need labor now, or you will need it when city centers begin to recover--the labor struggle is real and tech companies have their sights set on coming to the rescue by launching new products and features to help do everything from retain your talent more effectively to manage your property with fewer staff. M3 Launches labor.  Designed for hoteliers on the go, M3’s Labor Management app, M3 Labor, allows hospitality professionals to quickly access their hotels’ labor information and adapt in real time to the labor needs of their properties. Not only do employees get up-to-date visibility of their schedules and work histories, but property managers also have access to labor variances and managing employee time details, all available in the palm of their hand. UniFocus ShiftGenius.  ShiftGenius is a unique scheduling and shift filling feature that introduces flexibility and control for employees and covers the needs of the business. Operators find coverage faster and know that the RIGHT people are filling the shifts. Hotel Effectiveness launches CoverageFinder™: Hotels are experiencing a “coverage crisis” - they cannot find the labor to address the needs of the hotel, the guests, or the team. CoverageFinder makes it easy to identify available labor from within the cross-trained hotel team, the portfolio’s “sister” hotels, and contract staffing firms. Turnover is a massive problem. The Risk Retention Dashboard identifies which associates in each department are at risk of leaving and recommends specific actions that managers can take to prevent turnover and avoid the costly impact of a lost team member. HelloShift launches a housekeeping app. Housekeeping Management app is a quick and efficient way to see at a glance the status of all of the housekeeping tasks at your hotel or property. In one view, know which rooms have been assigned and prioritized, and which rooms still need to be assigned. The quick and simple drag and drop functionality and the ability to bulk reassign rooms make housekeeping management problems a thing of the past!   Harri launches Carri Chat & Apply.  Carri is an AI-powered chatbot built to assist hiring managers in screening, accessing, and coordinating interviews with viable candidates. Carri transforms traditional job applications into meaningful conversations to engage candidates and improve talent acquisition efforts. eTip launches digital tipping product.  eTip helps hotels to better attract, retain, and motivate staff with an app-less tipping and review platform. With eTip, staff receive an increase in compensation and a boost in morale, guests enjoy better service, and managers can act on guest feedback in real time. Beekeeper launches housekeeping app.  Beekeeper Work is an intuitive app that will transform how your team tends to daily Housekeeping operations. Team members on their feet can get things done with a simple tap of their finger. No training. No I.T. set up. No corporate approvals. Just easy technology rolled out in days. And it’s available in every language too so no one gets left behind.   Trend #2: The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover While the pandemic will certainly not be looked back upon fondly, some good undoubtedly has come of it.  While there are so many areas that human interaction can add value in the guest experience, there are also so many areas that manual processes, wait times and antiquated systems have plagued the guest experience for decades and the pandemic gave the industry the nudge that it so desperately needed.  Whether that's digitizing compendiums to reduce paper waste and create interactive experiences that generate revenue, ridiculously seamless contactless grab and go stations to meet guest needs in real time or in-stay sentiment analysis to identify and recover from service glitches on the spot--vendors continue to rollout new features and tools to help you leverage technology to become one of your hotel's greatest assets when it comes to delivering a unique and differentiated guest experience. Whistle Digital Guest Book.  Whistle introduces a configurable digital guest compendium for a completely contactless experience. Hotels can now offer a rich portal and directory of information, which guests can access through messaging. Impulsify Contactless grab and go.  Impulsify announces the arrival of their completely contactless grab-and-go kiosk for lobby retail transactions. Their ShopPoP kiosk now provides a QR code to give users the option of going "Touchless" when purchasing items at their increasingly popular self-service pay stations used by the hospitality and multifamily industries. Flexkeeping Automated Daily Hotel Report.  The Automated Daily Hotel Report by Flexkeeping contains all critical information hoteliers need to know to ensure that their team is meeting their set standards. The report provides data on every department - from room service, housekeeping, and maintenance performance all the way over to guest complaints and service slips. EasyWay launches Guest Sentiment Powered by OpenAI.  EasyWay AI is now able to automatically detect guest sentiment and act accordingly. For example, if EasyWay AI identifies that a guest is happy and is a potential brand ambassador, it will automatically send them a survey on TripAdvisor, and ask them to share their amazing experiences on social media. Hub OS launched 'DND' and 'Make up Room' statuses for Guest Touch.  The system now also allows hotel guests to set their rooms into 'Do not disturb' or 'Make up room' statuses on their own mobile device by scanning a QR Code in their room.  This provides added convenience for guests while helping hotels more efficiently allocate staffing resources. GoMoment launches Ivy Offer.  Ivy Offer lets hoteliers extend unbeatable offers such as extended stay, late checkouts, and food & beverage offers to their guests via text messages. These offers are conversational, personalized, targetted and appropriately timed (when guests tell us they are enjoying their stay, we offer them the chance to stay an extra night at a 20% discount), resulting in repeat, incremental profit. Guests read 98% of Ivy Offer messages within 3 minutes (based on client data). Niio and Samsung debut digital art stream for public spaces. Samsung and Niio art are partnering to bring easy access to digital art on-demand to Samsung Profesional Displays to transform any screen into an engaging digital art canvas. With access to thousands of digital artworks from the world’s best artists, Samsung clients can seamlessly display individual works of their choosing or play art streams curated by mood and style, 24x7 to one or multiple sites. Turnkey solution without requiring additional hardware or rights management. Bookingwhizz Automated Guest Journey with Whatsapp. The CRM module connects directly with the PMS and/or channel manager, automates guest notifications and promotions from predesigned campaigns. The hotel or group can schedule these notifications based on their business needs. SensorFlow launches SmartREM (Smart Room Energy Management Solution).  When guests leave the room empty with the HVAC running, SensorFlow's occupancy sensors and smart thermostats communicate this data to the gateway. The gateway then uses AI to react to the real-time occupancy data and automatically switches off the HVAC or adjusts it to a more energy-efficient setting to save energy, without needing any manual intervention from hotel staff. If guests leave the room with the HVAC running and the pool/balcony doors or windows are open, the HVAC is then automatically adjusted to ensure proper ventilation and prevent condensation issues while saving energy. When SensorFlow's sensors detect that guests have returned, our gateway then automatically resets the HVAC to the guests' previous settings. VenueLytics launches 24/7 AI Smart Concierge.  VenueLytics provides industries first fully integrated 24/7 AI Smart Concierge to automate contactless guest engagement, housekeeping, maintenance and other guest requests across WiFi, WhatsApp, SMS, WebBot and Facebook Messengers. Hotelinking launches WiFiBot.  Hotelinking developed a system called WiFiBot that automatically solves the Internet connection problems using IoT (Internet Of Things) technology and without the need for staff or a technician to intervene.  This solution proactively monitors any device connected to the network regardless of the vendor to detect performance issues, and continuously evaluates components to maintain and optimise their availability to avoid downtime or network failures. Moreover, it analyses all relevant information related to the use of WiFi by guests and its proper functioning and performance.   Trend #3: Mobile check-in is the new black If you are an HTR regular then you probably know what we think about hotel brands building their own tech, but to give some credit where credit is due back in 2015 Starwood identified the potential of mobile checkin and invested heavily in it because they saw what was coming.  If we can checkin for a flight on our phone, why can't we checkin for our hotel rooms? The reality is that mobile check-in is another area that has boomed during the pandemic with contactless everything as the new normal.  As hardware comes down in cost and mobile checkin goes mainstream, vendors are sprouting up left, right and center creating new opportunities for hoteliers to offer mobile checkin solutions empowering saavy hoteliers to be more prepared for guest arrival, reduce front desk wait times, go contactless and even get some new checkin tricks up their sleeves with digital signatures, payment authorizations, upsells and more. Maestro launches mobile check-in.  Allows Maestro customers to enable guests to check-in on the fly, on their own personal mobile device, with no 3rd party app download required, creating a self-serve environment from their own device. GTRIIP Launches Selfie Check-in.  GTRIIP processes hotel check-ins using our OCR engine to read international passports and local photo IDs. We use our face verification engine powered by computer vision to match the face (with a selfie) against the photo ID. This check-in process can be completed on the web. Onres launches mobile check-in.  Enables Onres customers to increase incremental revenue by up to 30% with Contactless [Early] Check-in and Late Check-out, Upgrade your Room, and Add Add-ons. RoomKey PMS launches mobile check-in. 100% digital paperwork built into the RoomKey PMS from mobile check-in through check-out.  Automated payment and room release to better inventory management CODE2ORDER launches COVID-19 Vaccination Pass & Test-Certificate.  Hotel guests can upload their vaccination pass or test certificate during the online check-in at hotels or during their stay at the hotel (required for hotel stays in Germany). The upload can be easily done by using their own Smartphone without further app downloads. Hotels can check the uploads in the CODE2ORDER Backend.   Trend #4: Guest data management is in the spotlight Whether you look at Tiktok in social, Visa in payments or Netflix in entertainment--its clear that companies who have harnessed the power of unique customer data have realized massive profits.  The strange thing is that the hotel industry sits on a treasure trove of travel spend and guest preference data yet most hotels have still only scratched the suface of what they can do with this data because ultimately you need the right tools, structure and processes to actually act on it.  The good news is that if anybody knows just how valuable and powerful data can be its tech companies, and they're gearing up to help you harness one of your company's most valuable assets.  Hapi launches Hapi Connect for Salesforce.  Hapi Connect integrates hotel companies' data into Salesforce Cloud environments in real-time, helping hoteliers to innovate using the world’s leading CRM. Hapi Connect for Salesforce allows companies to centralize data and tailor each step of the guest journey, driving loyalty and increasing conversion. Oracle Hospitality Integrations Platform.  The Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform (OHIP) offers hotel operators and integrators unprecedented access to all of the capabilities that OPERA Cloud has to offer. By making available over 3 thousand REST APIs and a full self-service experience end to end, operators and integrators can now design, build and release their integrations in matters of days rather than weeks or months thus accelerating time to market and reducing costs. Cendyn adds DIY content management to eLoyalty. Cendyn’s eLoyalty now puts customers in the driver’s seat to seamlessly manage and control the content that’s served to their members with a full-service loyalty solution for any type of hotel or hotel brand.  Prior to this update, eLoyalty had static workflows for serving content to loyalty members but now hoteliers can log into a CMS to create different pathways and serve different content journeys or offers based on characteristics of various segments within the loyalty program. Bookboost launches CRM.  Guest messaging platform Bookboost also extended it's product to offer guest segmentation and email marketing. Manage your first-party customer data to track interactions to create personalised guest messages. Utilise a single system to manage guest engagement and build strong relationships. Clairvoyix Launches Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud.  The Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud brings fully integrated transient sales and marketing automation to Oracle Hospitality customers. Utilzing the Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform, Opera in the Cloud customers can immediately start direct marketing to valuable past guests as past guest data is automatically transferred to the Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution. Guestjoy launches repeat customers.  Guestjoy launched a hotel CRM system for marketing managers in smaller hotels that helps them to build a customer database who is interested in getting special campaigns and offers. The tools they are using only allow them to set up a newsletter without knowing the background of a customer. Duve Guest Segments. Duve's Guest Segments allow hoteliers to send different messages to different guests, based on their profile and data you’ve collected from them. This includes reservation details, personal information, and more.  With Guest Segments, hotels can use both pre-scheduled or instant messaging to create a message to specific guests and provide an improved guest experience. Datavision DVGuest Analytics.  Datavision is adding powerful guest analytics features to our comprehensive business intelligence platform. Guest data is extracted and combined from a single source (PMS) or a variety of additional sources (Spa, Golf, Dining, CRM, etc.) supporting a 360-degree views of guest value, spend patterns and stay behavior. LaaSie launches Helix. Laasie has extended its core Reward Marketplace technology beyond the hotel website and booking engine, to bring personalized rewards to email campaigns. Each recipient of the campaign receives a uniquely personalized reward offer that resonates with his/her interests, demographics, and purchase behavior. iReckonU launches IKnowU Customer Data Platform. The IKnowU Customer Data Platform emerges as Ireckonu’s latest way to leverage its proven CORE Middleware. Synchronizing with your various PMS, CRS and other service delivery systems, IKnowU will become your system of record for clean, consolidated guest profiles. IKnowU’s powerful features include match & merge, identity and privacy management, subscription enrollment, communication control, behavioral and event data, and AI-assisted segmentation. It can also bring in third-party data. Simplotel Guest Connect.  Simplotel Guest Connect helps hotels convert their website content (promotions, and offers) into an email template with a single-click. Also, with a property management system integration, hotels can send mails and upsells to guests who book through any channel.   Trend #5: Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency The term commercial refers to the concept that while historically there have been silod departments within hotel companies like revenue management or marketing, these walls are quickly being broken down as departments become more deeply entertwined.  The catalyst for this evolution in decades old operating model has undoubtedly been technology and the transparency, access to information and interconnectedness that it has unlocked.  This is not the first time breaking down departmental silos to emphasize a more hollistic commercial strategy has been a key theme of one of HTR's innovation recaps and it certainly won't be the last.  Impala Contracting.  Say hello to fast and easy hotel direct contracting. Whether it’s signing new deals or managing existing ones, Contracting by Impala enables direct contracts between hotels and tour operators, agencies or corporate travel platforms. We take away the costly integrations and lengthy negotiation cycles to negotiate deals in days, not months. List your hotel for free IDeaS Profit Optimization.  Profit Optimization for IDeaS G3 RMS considers any combination of servicing costs, ancillary revenue and associated margins, and acquisition or channel costs. This approach enables hotels, resorts, casinos, and more to get the most profitable guests into their property, while maximizing other inventory beyond the guest room, such as restaurants, bars, retail, and activities. HotelIQ Decision Cloud.  With the new HotelIQ Decision Cloud, hoteliers can organize data, analyze it, plan next steps, and collaborate with their team and across their organization. In doing so, we aim to give hoteliers the lenses they need to pull insights from complex data sets and make more intelligent decisions. RateGain launches Demand.ai. RateGain launched an AI powered demand forecasting tool, that helps hoteliers and other travel companies track hyper-local demand and the underlying factors impacting demand – thereby helping them optimize their commercial strategy. Event Temple Launches Chain Management Dashboard.  Event Temple’s Chain Management Dashboard is an above property sales enablement tool for chains and multi-property management groups. Organizations now have a hub to view bookings, leads, accounts, contacts, reports, and manage sales across multiple properties. Pace launches Restrictions Management. Take control of your business mix. Use restrictions to control your business mix. Pace will suggest when to close out corporate rates and maximise revenue from your transient business. Avvio launches allora ai Hotel Booking Retention Engine.  Avvio developed a Hotel Booking Retention Engine that sits within the allora.ai booking engine to counteract the rise in hotel room cancellations. They did this by identifying at risk bookings, and alerting hoteliers in an actionable format, so that measures can be taken to protect bookings.  allora.ai’s Hotel Booking Retention Engine uses machine learning and data science to assess cancelation risk for every individual booking on the books. MeetingPackage launches group pricing module.  MeetingPackage offers venues to sell in a transactional way via their own channels and through distribution. Venues are able to manage pricing of Meetings & Events services flexibly from one centralised place to all distribution channels. For example, minimum spend requirement, meeting package price per delegate or meeting room price per hour, half-day, full-day. Including seasonal prices and corporate negotiated rates. ProfitSword enhanced currency conversion functionality.  ProfitSword has updated the application to support viewing reports in any currency desired. As part of this update, we allow multiple exchange rates to be defined for any currency pair, depending on your reporting needs. The firm added flexibility to reports allowing a user to choose an exchange rate based on the data being reported eg; balance sheet data converted with a month end exchange rate, accounting data with month average, and budget with an annual exchange rate all in the same report. InnRoad launches new Pace and Pickup reports.  innRoad's new Pace & Pick Up Reports are designed to give users easy access to their property's performance with the click of a button. Users can compare their performance over time and see if they are above or below on their occupancy, revenue, and rooms sold. Avalon Analytics launched automated PowerPoint presentations. One of the pain points of a revenue manager is the time spent preparing for weekly and monthly meetings. This remains true at hotel-level and above-property level, where you may need to prepare a market performance review for senior executives, ranging from VPs Operations to Owners. Generate 20+ PowerPoint slides for your weekly revenue meetings and month-end owner meetings within minutes. Avalon allows you to load entire presentations that are always up-to-date and ready to be delivered to your inbox.     D-EDGE Launches MediaGenius. D-EDGE provides hoteliers with an all-in-one platform to manage and monitor digital media campaigns: search, metasearch, display, and social media. With MediaGenius, hoteliers can easily follow the evolution of income and bookings generated via AdWords, analyze their campaigns’ performance, and fine-tune their strategy. The Hotels Network Launches Bench Direct. BenchDirect by The Hotels Network is an interactive analytics platform for hotels to benchmark their direct channel performance compared to the market and competition. The tool provides hotels with competitive insights across more than 30 key metrics specifically related to direct bookings. VoucherCart launches enterprise. VoucherCart Enterprise is a SaaS software product used by international and national hospitality operators with responsibility for marketing, sales, and revenue across multiple business units/member organisations. It enables them to promote and sell vouchers, gift cards, memberships, and tickets (pre-paid instant delivery) associated with their products and services and manage these centrally across all member organisations allowing cross-organisational redeem and usage, while also supporting voucher management and sale at member organisation level. Hotel Res Bot Launches AI Channel Manager. Many distribution partners such as Secret Escapes don't have interfaces to transfer bookings automatically, which means they simply send an email and reservation staff must manually enter these bookings into the PMS. The HERA AI Channel Manager reads those incoming emails and automatically pushes them to your PMS directly or via your CRS or traditional Channel Manager. Trend #6: Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers If you follow the tech world, you know that payments are big money.  You don't have to look far to see a massive head turning round like Stripe's $600M Series H (who even knew series H was a thing...), Affirm's market debut 100% pop or Plaid's (almost) $5B+ merger with Visa that was later blocked by regulators.  Other than being the lifeblood of every business on the planet, payments infrastructure is so immensely valuable because its extremely challenging to develop and maintain compliance.  While there are tons of payments solutions out there, there are few that have truly built out domain specific offerings specifically for the hotel industry to meet its unique challenges (and opportunities) and hotel tech companies are spotting the opportunity. Cloudbeds Payments. Hotel payment processing has been complicated for too long. Cloudbeds Payments provides easy, transparent and contactless payment processing that is fully integrated into the Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform, saving your property time and money. Bbot Tab Sync. Keep guests happy and servers relaxed with Bbot Tab Sync, a seamless addition to the Bbot Order + Pay solution. Plus, activating Tab Sync for in-venue and in-room dining guests gets you exclusive access to our BOGO deal on handheld devices! Adyen partners with Shiji to simplify hospitality payments.  This new integration simplifies the payment process for hospitality businesses by removing the need for a list of platforms and suppliers which usually includes separate processes for property management systems, food and beverage point of sale, and guest experience platforms not to mention the different payments service providers for each. SmartHOTEL launches SmartCONNECT for Payment. SmartCONNECT for Payment ensures that hotel guests’ payments can be made quickly, securely, and hospitably. With the click of a button, payments for online and offline bookings are automatically billed by the payment service provider of choice and processed directly on the guest folio of the hotel’s Property Management System (PMS). dailypoint™ Launches Payment Link. The dailypoint™ Payment link is part of the Booking Manager. It allows hoteliers to automate payments and process them securely according to PCI and PSD2 regulations. Implementing the payment link relieves the reservations department and minimizes the risk of fraud since no more credit card data is being processed directly or stored at the hotel. RoomOrders Launches Digital Tourist Hubs.  The RoomOrders digital tourist hub is an ordering and payment network of hospitality providers (hotels and resorts connected to surrounding vendors in a revenue-sharing model) to protect from accommodation giants like Booking dot com and AirBnB and restaurants from delivery giants like UberEats and GrubHub as well as excursion and tours agencies like Expedia and TripAdvisor.

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HotelIQ: Beyond Business Intelligence for Savvy, Data-Driven Hoteliers

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

To truly understand what’s happening at your hotel, portfolio, or management company, you need to sift through a lot of data. Big data can yield powerful insights, but the challenge lies in structuring that data in a way that’s easy to interpret and act on. For hoteliers who are ready to take the next step toward more data-driven decisions, a business intelligence platform can deliver tremendous value. But most BI tools aren’t designed with hotels in mind, so their utility is limited when it comes to commercial organizations in the hospitality industry. In this article, we’ll review a BI tool created by hoteliers, for hoteliers: HotelIQ. Through this review, we’ll introduce you to HotelIQ’s suite of features and reports so you can assess whether it might be a good fit for your business.   Introduction to HotelIQ’s New Decision Cloud HotelIQ’s goal is to help hoteliers organize data, analyze it, plan next steps, and collaborate with their team and across their organization. In doing so, HotelIQ aims to give hoteliers the lenses they need to pull insights from big data and make more intelligent decisions. This focus on decision-making is why HotelIQ dubbed their newly launched analytics suite “Decision Cloud,” which is an upgrade from their legacy interface in terms of both functionality and user experience.  The newly launched Decision Cloud takes a much more visual approach, looking more like the home screen on an iPad. A notable addition is the search bar, which enables users to search for key reporting terms they’re looking for, like “pace” or “booking channels.” Reports matching the search criteria will appear.     Within one app, HotelIQ houses all of your hotel data, which is fed directly from your PMS. Thinking long-term, HotelIQ can save time by eliminating the need to create your own reports in Excel and reducing email volume; its interface is a single source of truth for staff members on-site and remote. A world with fewer weekly meetings and no manual report pulling is closer than you might think.   Analyze: Dashboard and Reports The hallmark feature of HotelIQ is its reporting suite; this library of dashboards and reports puts the most commonly used data at your fingertips. This module is most useful for revenue managers and sales managers, but general managers and operations managers can benefit from insights gleaned from these reports too. The dashboard library includes visualizations for pick-up and pace, market segments, booking channels, geo markets, and more. HotelIQ subscribers might also add modules for account management and a STR integration, which aren’t included with the most basic package.     By clicking on one of the tiles on the home screen, you’ll land on a Dashboard. In this example, we see the Market Segments dashboard. Dashboards are quite visual - you’ll see charts and graphs with the ability to filter by hotel, hotel group, and date range. The goal of the Dashboard is to make the data accessible and easy to understand even for team members outside of the revenue management or sales teams who might be less comfortable with data.     In addition to the Dashboard visualizations, you can see the raw data in a standard table format.     To get more granular, you can select from a few Reports that slice data from the Dashboard in different ways. Reports have more filters than Dashboards, which allow you to dig into exactly the data you want. You can filter by room class, distribution channel, loyalty membership, and more.     Besides the Market Segments dashboard, another frequently used dashboard is the Pick-up and Pace dashboard. This one is a favorite of revenue managers and sales managers, who will appreciate the ability to filter the reports by account name or market segment in addition to the standard hotel name and date filters.     The Pick-up reports can be pulled by either book date or stay date, and you can drill down to the rate code level to study performance at the most granular level.     You can also pivot this report to see pick-up by room type, distribution channel, feeder markets, and more.     The Geo Markets dashboard is typically used by revenue and sales teams, but marketing managers might also uncover interesting trends around seasonality and variances by location, especially for management companies who operate in many markets.     The Booking Channels dashboard highlights production on not only third-party channels but also sub-segments of your direct channel, like comparing phone reservations and walk-ins to website bookings.     You can take a big-picture look at hotel performance on the Total Revenue dashboard, which splits out revenue by operating department, like rooms and F&B. While most of HotelIQ’s reports are most useful to revenue management or sales, this one can be relevant to operations teams, general managers, and even owners who want to understand performance of individual properties or revenue streams.      Many HotelIQ subscribers use their STR integration, which pulls in your STR data and compares your fair share to your forecast, automating some analytics you would have otherwise needed to do manually in Excel. HotelIQ can also submit your daily, segmented data to STR on your behalf, for further automation and time savings.   Although HotelIQ is packed with valuable reports, every hotel business is different, so if you don’t see a report you need, you can always create your own using the Sandbox Self-Service app.     Organize: Data Management While the analytics module of HotelIQ is certainly powerful, it can be useless if you don’t start with accurate data. HotelIQ’s data management features make it easy for you to clean, correct, and standardize data across your portfolio to ensure you can trust your reports. One essential and time-saving feature is Rate Code Maintenance, which enables you to quickly fix miscategorized rate codes. For example, if several hotels in your portfolio books rooms for the same corporate account, Bob’s Bank, but one hotel uses rate code BOBSBANK and another hotel uses BOBBANK, you can edit the rate codes in HotelIQ to match so they flow into the same line item on reports. Note that these changes are only for reporting purposes within HotelIQ, the changes do not flow back to the PMS.     Another handy functionality for multinational hotel chains or management companies is the Currencies module. HotelIQ allows you to build in your own conversion rates for specific date ranges (per month, for instance) and add the currency settings to specific hotels. For example, if you operate hotels in Mexico, Canada, and the US, but your corporate office is in the US, you might want to see high-level reports in US Dollars. These settings allow you to view portfolio-level reporting and forecasts in one currency.     Since HotelIQ receives data from the PMS daily, you want to know immediately if the system picks up a data error or an inconsistency. The Alerts pane on the HotelIQ homepage contains real-time notifications of data errors that need to be addressed.   Plan: Forecast Trends and Operationalize Data With so many reports available, it’s important to remember that the goal of HotelIQ isn’t just to analyze data, but to use that data to make decisions. HotelIQ will soon launch an updated Forecast module which will help hoteliers plan for the future aided by Machine Learning (ML), but in the meantime, the app has a few ways to help you put the data to use in the real world. The HotelIQ Concierge contains a collection of tours and guides to show you how to use each feature in the app. There’s also a walk-through tour which will take you step-by-step through the various modules to help you feel confident operationalizing the learnings you find in the reports.     Answers to frequently asked questions can be found in the Help Center, and if you’d like further assistance or some hands-on training, you can always reach out to the HotelIQ Service Desk.   Collaborate: Sharing and Subscriptions Finally, HotelIQ gives hoteliers tools for better collaboration across teams, hotels, and companies. Data is most powerful and operational when it’s democratized, so the software encourages users to share reports or set up subscriptions to ensure anyone who needs data can get it easily. On every report, you’ll see a “share” icon which lets you send that exact report to any user, including your selected parameters and filters. But manually sending reports isn’t always efficient, so there’s also an option to schedule report sends on a custom cadence. For example, you could schedule a pace report to go out to the entire sales team every Monday at 8am. This ensures everybody is looking at the same data, without the manual work of exporting the report, attaching it to an email, and hitting “send” manually.   Scheduling reports is a great way to get busy or less data-oriented team members comfortable with numbers. By configuring a report that shows exactly the data needed - with filters already applied - you can give general managers or owners a quick snapshot into performance in a format that’s easy to digest.   HotelIQ is Designed for Hotels Groups of All Sizes HotelIQ puts a lot of analytical muscle and number-crunching functionality into a package that’s approachable and easy to use. HotelIQ shines at large management companies that operate dozens - or hundreds - of hotels in many markets, and its software is built to accommodate multiple currencies, portfolio groupings, and user types. It’s also ideal for hotels that have heavy corporate business, with reporting that lets you drill down to the account level to really understand trends in each micro-segment. HotelIQ comes at a minimum charge of 100 rooms per month. While for high-end full-service properties that won't be an issue, HotelIQ may be too robust for hostels, b&bs, and smaller independent hotels for whom PMS reports should suffice. Smaller, independent hotels might be intrigued by HotelIQ’s reporting functionality, but these properties likely will not take advantage of all of HotelIQ’s features. Typically hotel groups, management companies, and asset managers with 10 or more properties will benefit most from a solution like HotelIQ. While perfect for large enterprises, the new Decision Cloud update was designed to provide limited functionality at a lower cost basis to smaller hotel groups who may not have a need for all of the large enterprise capabilities. Still have questions about HotelIQ and what it offers? Check out real user reviews here.   This content was created collaboratively by HotelIQ and Hotel Tech Report.

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2022)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

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

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Analytics Powered Digital Collaboration is the Future of Hospitality

by
Sameer Umar
5 months ago

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

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Advanced Shouldn't Mean Convoluted: The Benefits of Lean Revenue Management

by
Alexandra Fjällman
6 months ago

COVID-19 sped up a trend in revenue operations (RevOps) across the whole world of business. A recent survey by Forrester found that there’s been a massive shift to centralized RevOps. This comes as many companies begin seeing revenue as more than just an outcome. Instead, they now understand it as a result of a complete business process and collaborating commercial teams.  However, Forrester shows that success with this approach comes from more than revising an organization’s structure. An optimized operation model combined with a comprehensive revenue management charter seems to be the recipe for long-term success. This charter should align revenue planning, technology, processes, data and measurement throughout the company.  Breaking up silos in hotel commercial teams has been a hot discussion topic for almost ten years now. However, many of these silos are still a big part of many hotel operations today. In many cases they’re even augmented by specialized tech tools that serve one team and all but exclude the others (e.g., a revenue management system - RMS). One thing has become clear: integration and automation of a hotel’s tech stack are essential to centralizing RevOps. This is why today’s leading SaaS providers are adjusting their tools to facilitate organizational alignment.  In the pandemic’s aftermath, businesses have the chance to archive their long-established structures. Lean, centralized commercial teams can take over and leverage integrated technology, automated processes and cross-functional accountability for success.    Revenue, Gut instinct, and Effort  Up till now, generating revenue at hotels had more to do with gut feeling, knowing the market and hard work than with collaboration and strategy. Many times, poorly aligned initiatives by general management, marketing, revenue management and sales led to lost chances and investment, revenue dilution and internal disputes. Despite this situation having a lot of room for improvement, the data and communication silos in hotels have made it hard to bring about lasting change.    Letting Technology Take You on a Detour Thinking that technology is the solution to all issues is a common mistake. Yes, revenue management tools have developed by leaps and bounds in recent times. Technology today is more powerful than most experts would have deemed possible. It allows hotels to adapt to dynamic markets and make the most of every revenue opportunity. But RMSs were developed primarily for revenue managers - a small group of experts in a single field of the industry. To ensure they deliver on the promised ROI, many RMSs demand a lot of training time and continued interaction due to their complexity.  A well-trained revenue professional who can leverage a system’s full capabilities can create fantastic results. However, technology is also known to cause operational roadblocks. The sales and marketing teams or the GMs don’t have the time to learn the ropes of intricate legacy RMSs because they have their department’s own systems to look after. The same applies to revenue managers and technology used by other teams. In short, the more programs a hotel uses, the more likely it is to foster ongoing silo culture.    Using New Revenue Tools to Do More With Less The pandemic has led hoteliers to look at their operations differently. Today, there’s a desire to do more with smaller teams, decrease the staff’s workload, streamline day-to-day operations and make commercial teams work together more closely.  Commercial teams have begun changing as a result. Silos are opening up while marketing, sales and revenue teams lay old rivalries to rest. Now, teams work across several disciplines, and moving forward, they’ll be using a set of integrated tools instead of programs specialized on a single function. In revenue management, this includes automating time-consuming tasks like forecasting and rate optimization. It also covers the presentation of results and related information in an easy-to-read format everyone in the commercial team can understand and use.  At first, it may feel strange for revenue managers who are used to complex legacy RMSs, that manual case by case rate analysis is no longer needed to achieve excellent results. Today, smart hoteliers see that trusting an automated system with time-sensitive pricing tasks is giving them a competitive advantage.  Now that travel is slowly ramping up, competition between hotels will be strong. Using new and perhaps unusual ideas is a way for properties to differentiate themselves and create a base for future success.    Setting up a well-integrated tech stack, using automation where possible, and streamlining communication are the initial measures you can take to make this happen at your hotel.

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18 Must-Have Features of a Hotel Management System

by
Hotel Tech Report
7 months ago

Choosing a hotel management software system is like buying a car: it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of options, and it can be difficult to find trusted advice about the PMS features you need most. “There’s often a misconception in business software that one size fits all. Every hotel has very specific needs based on property size, chain scale, geography, and dozens of other variables. On top of that, every owner or manager has their own preferences in terms of design, usability, and support.  It is absolutely critical to narrow down the problem you’re trying to solve to engage with PMS vendors, and ensure you aren’t being sold on things that your property doesn’t need” says Amelia Gain, CEO of popular Hotel PMS company Preno. Hotel industry veterans often use the analogy of a duck on a lake to describe hotel operations.  Above the surface, the duck appears calm and collected, but under the surface its legs are kicking furiously. Guests are often stressed with their own travel plans, or are trying to escape stress altogether during their holiday, so it is critical for staff to appear calm and relaxed regardless of the hustle and bustle. Technology is one of the key tools that hoteliers leverage to make operations appear effortless to guests, and hotel management software is the single most important system in the entire hotel. Whether you work at an independent bed and breakfast or a global hotel chain, your hotel management system is the nucleus of your property. Nearly every member of a hotel team must access the PMS to perform daily tasks. Guest service staff need to prioritize hotel rooms that must be cleaned for early VIP arrivals. Sales & event management professionals need to block off rooms for groups. Hotel managers need to access the system for data and operating insights. Hotel management system vendor selection is one of the most important and difficult decisions a hotel operator will ever make. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what to look for so that you can make informed technology decisions for your property.   The Most Essential Hotel Management Software Functionalities Let’s start with the basics. These features are true must-haves for any modern hotelier who wants to use technology to improve the guest experience, make back office operations more efficient, and build lasting relationships with guests. Intuitive & easy-to-use interface: A user-friendly interface is the most important factor when choosing mission-critical software for a hotel. If your hotel software is complex and confusing, more mistakes will be made, costing you more money. Common tasks should not take lots of time and steps, as this slows down your team and limits your ability to grow quickly – hence the need for a powerful hotel management software system. Mobile & tablet optimised: When your manager, housekeeping team, and other staff members need to check details on a booking quickly they shouldn’t have to rush back to the office. Any system you use must not only be accessible by, but also optimized for use on mobile phones and tablets. Better yet, your owner should be able to check performance while on holiday. Clear visibility of the grid: Adding special events that are happening in the region, highlighting returning guests, and identifying guests who are yet to pay their bill are all features your grid should enable by default. Your grid should allow you to quickly & easily see key information about your guests. Guest profiles: Are you working on building guest loyalty? Guest profiles store your guests’ contact information, stay history, and even preferences, so that you can deliver a more personalized experience during their next stay. Better yet, a guest profile with stored CC’s of your guest will make it even easier for returning guests.  Email automation: You can communicate with guests and reduce manual work for your staff by deploying personalised, customised, and automated emails. Using your own templates, automated email functionality allows you to build a communication journey from the initial booking to targeted offers for repeat guests. Housekeeping management: Your PMS should allow your housekeeping team to mark rooms as clean, dirty, or out of order. Having this information in one central place gives the front desk visibility of room statuses, so that they can accommodate early check-in’s and room moves without needing to radio the housekeeping supervisor.     Reservation management: Perhaps the absolute most essential PMS feature is reservations management and front office features. By housing all of your reservations digitally, hoteliers can make a paper reservation book a thing of the past. Within reservations management, you should be able to set rates, control availability, offer promotions, and visualize reservations on a calendar. Room management: The room management module of a PMS is like your virtual front desk. This functionality lets front desk agents check guests in and out, and cancel or extend reservations with just a few simple clicks. Group bookings/reservations: If your hotel plans on hosting any type of event or group of guests, then group reservations functionality is crucial. Group reservation features include allowing guests to book reservations within the room block, exporting a room list, and configuring billing settings so that you can bill one account for multiple rooms. Invoicing: When most guests check out, they want a copy of their bill, so, your PMS should be able to easily export guests’ folios that contain all charges from their stay. Similarly, you’ll want solid, straightforward financial reporting that helps you reconcile revenue and expenses from room revenue, outlets, vendors, and more. Payment processing: Gone are the days when guests paid with cash or cheque, so you’ll want a PMS with a payment processor integration that allows you to effortlessly charge guests’ credit cards and have secure access to major payment gateways. Business intelligence & reporting: How do you know if your hotel is doing well if you can’t measure your performance? A PMS with robust reporting features will give you insight into your revenue, ADR, RevPAR, and a slew of other metrics so that you can find opportunities for growth – and track your progress toward your goals. Rate management: Do you want to offer a non-refundable rate or value-added packages? If so, you’ll want rate management functionality that allows for multiple, customizable rate plans.     User logs & permissions: With so much turnover in the hotel industry, it is important to keep front-line staff accountable with detailed user logs to have an automated record in case of any mistakes, as well as to ensure proper training and issue resolution. Additionally, we are living in a world where consumers demand heightened security, so it is critical that staff are only able to access the parts of the hotel management system required to complete their core tasks without unnecessarily accessing sensitive information like credit card data.   Key Software Integrations to Supercharge Your Hotel Property Management System A PMS is an important software partner in its own right, but running a hotel is very complex, which usually means that more feature functionality will be needed than a PMS can provide.  For that reason, some of the most important PMS features are actually software integrations with other key systems to unlock more value and performance through real-time data sharing and triggers. Let’s explore some of the most critical PMS add-ons. Accounting software: Accounting is an ever-changing, complicated industry, and you don’t want to be stuck with software that is out of date when rules change. As such, you should look for software that has robust and complete integrations to the world leaders of accounting software like Xero. This will empower you to streamline your invoicing, reconciliation, commission payment, and billing processes and automate repetitive tasks to help your finance department run more smoothly. “Whether you’re tracking agency commissions or configuring payment policies for groups – it is vital for hotels of all sizes to have a seamless integration between their property management system (PMS) and hotel accounting software. Why? It saves countless hours of tedious administration via automation,” says Preno’s CEO, Amelia Gain. Point-of-sale system integration: If your hotel has a restaurant, bar, spa, or other outlets, then an integrated POS can do wonders for your operations. When your POS can talk to your PMS, guests can seamlessly charge purchases to their room, and you can keep a record of guest purchasing activity to analyze trends and personalize future loyalty offers. Channel manager: Do you work with third-party channels like Booking.com and Expedia? If so, you’ll need a channel manager to push your rates and availability to these platforms, and more. In return, it will send reservations back to your PMS to capture more hotel bookings. A channel manager can also prevent overbookings by syncing with your PMS since it will know when to turn off distribution as a certain room type gets sold out. Channel manager software solutions are also important for hotels to optimize the allocation of rooms across channels and to ensure maximum profitability.   Booking engine: Allow guests to book directly with you, with no expensive commissions. An online booking engine, which publishes your rates and availability to your website, collects the necessary information from guests, and creates reservations in your PMS. Looking for more advice and information on hotel management systems? Download Hotel Tech Report’s 2021 Hotel Management Software Buyer's Guide to inform your vendor search.   This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.