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Adapting to Changing Traveler Behaviors and Expectations in 2022

by
Andrew Gogus
1 month ago

Understanding travel trends and behaviors has been somewhat more difficult to recognize in the midst of the pandemic. However, some undeniable facts remain for the changing traveler behaviors and expectations. It's important to learn and adapt in order for your business to reach its highest potential and maximize revenues. To begin, the traveler demographic is notably shifting and we will be seeing a great increase in the amount of Gen Z travelers. Generation Z, or Gen Z, includes anyone born between 1995 - 2012. This is the first generation that is digitally native. Meaning that the generation grew up with technology from a very early age. As some hoteliers might see this group as low-spending, that is in fact not true. Not only do the younger ones influence the destinations chosen by their parents, but older Gen-Zers are said to spend even more than regular tourists. Eager to travel and experience the world, young travelers are likely to return and give more value to the destination over their lifetime. According to UNWTO “Young people see travel as an essential part of their everyday lives, rather than just a brief escape from reality.” In order to capture the attention of the first digitally native generation, it's crucial to be as visible as you can online, provide a smooth booking process, and be able to offer customized promotions to guests.   Grow Online Visibility Across New Booking Channels It is almost inevitable that your property needs to have a strong online presence. This means not only having a website for your property that allows travelers to book but also being visible and listed on multiple different online travel agencies (OTAs). Being present on multiple different platforms greatly increases the segment of travelers you are able to reach. Different countries and regions have different booking habits when it comes to choosing an OTA, so it is important that your property is listed on those websites. According to Expedia, “Gen Zers turn 31% more to OTAs than they were prior to the COVID-19 crisis.” Surely, trying to manage your property on different platforms and keeping everything up to date, will be very difficult and time-consuming. This is where a channel manager will be the most beneficial to you and your property. A channel manager is a tool that enables hoteliers to connect to multiple different OTA’s and allows them to manage bookings and update inventory from one platform. Choosing the right channel manager will help you not only bring in more guests and maximize profits but also save time allowing you to focus on offering a seamless guest experience.   Facilitate Quick Booking via Your Direct Channel There is a fundamental difference between older and newer generations. It's important to understand and leverage these differences to your advantage. According to global studies, while millennials have an attention span of 12 seconds, Gen Zers have decreased this to 8 seconds. This means you have an average of 8 seconds to make the best first impression and encourage the travelers into the booking flow. Doing so requires you to have a seamless booking experience. Enabling your guests to easily choose a room type, date, and payment method is essential. These can all be attained by using a booking engine. Booking engines are important tools that are easily placed into your website, and enable guests to directly book from your website without going to any 3rd party websites. This helps you provide the quickest and best experience for your guests. Choosing the right booking engine for your property will not only capture traffic but will also cause less frustration for both you and your guests. Easing the workload for your staff is also a huge benefit.  Having rates and availability synced and updated with each reservation, gives your team the time and energy to focus on different tasks, in return providing a better experience for your guests.    Offer Exclusive Services and Promotions Even though the attention span may be shorter, Gen Zers actually recall advertising content better than millennials and Gen X. This plays a key role in retaining guests and them coming back for multiple visits. Younger consumers record a high rate of brand preference, meaning they relate closely to the brands they are choosing. They are attracted by a brand’s reputation on the environment, its customer care, and product exclusivity. Sustainability and eco-friendliness are major trends and should somehow be implemented to your property. Changes made can range anywhere from using recyclable materials, reducing waste, eliminating plastic utensils, to almost anything that shows that your business cares. Customer care and product exclusivity are other things you should consider offering. Being in the hospitality industry, it should already be pretty evident that customer care should be one of the highest priorities. Product exclusivity, on the other hand, may seem more difficult, but it actually isn't. Offering your guests special deals and coupons that can be used during the booking process, will provide a great deal of interest. These are where it's important to have a promotion engine integrated with your booking process because together they will provide a quick, easy, and rewarding experience. Promotions help you generate appeal and attraction - both of which will drive up bookings. Leveraging promotions to your advantage is important to capture all types of bookings.    Leverage a Hotel CRM to Drive Loyalty Understanding the travelers’ new behaviors and expectations helps you make the right decisions. We see that the younger travelers prefer brands that align with their values and that they can have a bond with. GRM (Guest Relationship Management) tools help build a relationship with your customers that, in turn, creates loyalty and customer retention.  According to RjMetrics, repeat customers are likely to spend 300x more. Building this relationship may sometimes seem difficult, especially during these times. Guest relationship management tools help you get in contact with guests in their native language before their stay, help guests to make any travel arrangements they may need, and address any customer complaints quickly and effectively. You will also be able to interact with guests even after they have stayed at your property, which is just as important as before they arrive. Leaving a good impression even post-stay is a great way to leave the best mark. Considering the irreversible impact of the pandemic on the traveler behavior, the influential Gen Z and the ever-changing nature of the travel industry, it becomes inevitable for you to change the way you do business. Understanding these trends and adapting to them will help you make the right decisions and show you where you should focus more of your energy on. Whether it be providing your guests with a more seamless booking experience with the booking engine, simplifying your operations with the channel manager or improving your guest relationships with promotional coupons and following up with post and pre-stay emails. These tools will allow you to keep up with the new trends and attract travelers who have an entirely different mindset.  

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Accor’s Innovative Tech Strategy is the Key to Digital Transformation in Hospitality

by
Jordan Hollander
3 months ago

Hotel Tech Report recently sat down with Accor CTO Floor Bleeker for a behind the scenes look at how the hotel giant is out innovating the competition.  Accor is arguably the most disruptive large hotel chain in the world having recently unveiled a first of its kind multi-PMS strategy and also launching its own SPAC to invest in a hotel related businesses including technology. Back in March of 2019 Hotel Tech Report published a piece titled This is Why Hotel Brands Shouldn't Build Tech.  In that article, we made the case that hotel brands needed to rethink archaic tech strategies to adapt in a world of microservices, open APIs, cloud computing and cyber insecurity.  Back in the 90s, hotel companies built their own systems due to constraints of on-premise legacy systems but that playbook is no longer effective for modern hospitality brands. Accor has over 5,200 hotels in over 110 countries operating under more than 40 different brands.  So how does a company of that size and scale maintain a rapid pace of innovation?  In this interview we cover how Accor leverages a unique organizational structure to drive innovation, its technology investments and everything in between.  We’ll break down Accor’s approach to innovation to help guide other hotel chains, regional brands and even independents in how they should be thinking about hotel technology.

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How to Easily Manage and Distribute Your Hotel Content Across Demand Partners Using Content.AI

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Prior to the pandemic, travel bookings were abundant which led to many hoteliers becoming complacent in their distribution strategies.  As bookings dried up, hotels needed to get more creative about how and where they generated demand from.  Many of the savviest hoteliers began optimizing their content across 3rd party distribution channels to drive more visibility and increase conversion by standing out from the compset - but with so many channels out there the task has become unmanageable (especially with labor shortages). Managing digital content, like amenity information, descriptions, and photos, is an important component of any online hotel content distribution strategy. And far too often, it gets deprioritized in favor of what seem like more urgent tasks. Great content is the key to travel and accommodations bookings.  All else equal, hotels who display the best and most accurate content to 3rd party channels will receive the most bookings.  Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia credits the firm’s early success to a strategic shift in content distribution.  After the startup implemented a strategy to display better content, Airbnb doubled it’s revenue within a week.  While your hotel may not double revenue in a week like Airbnb, there are massive gains to be had by optimizing your content distribution tools and strategy. What if we told you that there’s a way to optimize your content using automated tools without needing to hire a team or take hours out of your already slammed schedule? In this article, we’ll explain why it’s so important to maintain correct, complete, and consistent content, and explore how Content.AI by RateGain addresses  the common pain points of content distribution. 

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Google's Free Hotel Booking Links: Here's What You Need to Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Wondering how to get more direct bookings without a massive advertising budget? Google recently announced that hoteliers can get free links in their hotel metasearch results. Perhaps this is the first time you’ve heard about this free listing program, or maybe you’re looking for more information on the benefits and risks.  In this article, we’ll explain exactly what Google’s free hotel booking links mean, how you can set them up, and what potential advantages and disadvantages the program brings. Millions of guests begin their travel research by seeking out the best rate via Google search and free booking link integration partners are going to be featured front and center in this new feature to drive more business through their direct channel without needing to pay for Google ads.  By the end of this article, you’ll know how to proceed, whether or not you’ve used Google Hotel Ads in the past.   What are Google’s Free Hotel Booking Links? Let’s take a step back and explain Google Hotel Ads, the official name for Google’s metasearch product. When you search for a specific hotel on Google, you’ll see results that show rates and availability, similar to what you would see on another price comparison site like Kayak or Trivago. These results pull in rates and availability for the given hotel from online travel agencies like Booking.com and Expedia, plus the hotel’s own website might appear. These results are Google Hotel Ads, with the exception of free hotel booking links, which we’ll explain in a moment.     In the metasearch module, which is where you can see the rates and availability from the various sites, you can plug in dates and the number of guests to get accurate pricing and availability.     So how do the OTAs appear in these results? How is the order of sites determined? The simple answer is that the OTAs pay to play in Google’s metasearch results. Expedia and Booking.com spend billions of dollars each year bidding on placement in these results by bidding on the best position and paying a cost per click, which is usually between $1 and $3. For many small, independent hoteliers, metasearch was an expensive marketing avenue, and some hotels opted to skip it because they couldn’t compete with the OTAs’ deep pockets. However, that all changed when Google announced their free booking links program in March 2021, which gave hoteliers a chance to participate in metasearch without the ad spend requirement. Now, hoteliers can include a link to their direct booking engine in the Google metasearch results with no cost per click. The free links usually show below the paid OTA links, so shoppers might need to click “View more rates” to see them, but sometimes they do appear in the top four links.     How Can You Take Advantage of Google’s Free Hotel Booking Links? Google is quickly becoming a powerful player in the online travel marketplace. For hotels who participate in metasearch, it’s not uncommon for Google to make up 90% of their metasearch production, surpassing the production of other sites like Tripadvisor and Trivago. There’s no denying that Google is a huge source of traffic, so you’re probably wondering how you can set up free hotel booking links for your hotel. The good news is that configuring your free hotel booking links is pretty straightforward when you use one of Google’s preferred connectivity vendors. First, you need to ensure that you have claimed and verified your hotel’s Google My Business listing. The Google My Business listing is the same as your Google Maps listing. You can easily claim the listing online on business.google.com. If you need to verify the listing, you will likely need to complete a verification process over the phone or by verifying receipt of a postcard that Google sends to your property’s address.     Once you’ve claimed and verified your GMB listing, then you can work with your connectivity vendor (your channel manager or property management system) to link your hotel’s rates and availability with Google. Google has partnered with dozens of systems, like Sabre, Siteminder, and protel, and the complete list is available here. Your specific software will have their own connection process, but it’s usually quick and easy. After you’ve completed the connection, you will be able to see your rates and availability in Google’s metasearch results - no ad campaign needed. Do you already use Google Hotel Ads? Then you can also take advantage of the free booking links. Google allows hotels to run both paid ads and free booking links, so you can double your exposure in the results. You’ll only pay for clicks on your ad link, while clicks on the free booking link are totally free.   Benefits of Using Free Hotel Booking Links on Google Hotels that leverage Google’s free booking links can realize several key benefits: more visibility to potential guests, more direct bookings, and potentially lower marketing costs. It’s no secret that a lot of travelers end up on Google at some point in their travel booking process. You can think of Google as another shelf where you can showcase your product, just as Booking.com, Expedia, and Tripadvisor serve the same purpose. By maintaining a presence on Google, you can ensure your hotel is visible to all those potential guests who search for your local area or your hotel. Another compelling benefit of using Google’s free booking links is that you can better compete with the big OTAs. Google’s search results puts your hotel’s direct site on a relatively equal playing field as the Booking.coms and Expedias of the world. Although you probably won’t convert all your OTA guests to direct guests overnight, it’s likely that some guests will choose to book direct if your rates are equal (or better) that OTA rates and your direct site is just a click away. Finally, if you already spend on Google Hotel Ads, or if you use other cost-per-click tools like Expedia’s TravelAds or Tripadvisor’s Sponsored Placement, then you might be able to scale down those paid programs if you see strong performance from Google’s free booking links. Finding the right balance between ad platforms can help you decrease your marketing spend while generating more direct bookings.   Considerations of Google’s Free Hotel Booking Links Although there are plenty of reasons to use Google’s free hotel booking links, it’s not a perfect program. Some potential downsides include the requirement to use one of Google’s preferred connectivity vendors, the lack of control over your placement and ad strategy, and implications of out-of-parity rates. While it makes sense why Google would limit their hotel connections to channel managers that they’ve vetted, so they can scale the program more efficiently, this requirement leaves hoteliers out of options if you don’t use one of their preferred vendors or if you don’t use any channel manager at all. On the flip side, if you’ve been considering switching to a new channel manager, assessing their Google connection options might help your decision. Although we recognize the huge value of the free booking links, it’s worth noting that hoteliers have no control over the visibility that these links receive. Unlike Google’s paid Hotel Ads, which allow you to adjust bids for specific travel dates, you’ll have no control or insight into your links’ performance. If you want to push visibility during need periods, you don’t have any levers to pull to make your free booking links appear in results more often or higher in the ranking. Finally, another potential downside of using Google’s free booking links is the can make out-of-parity rates more obvious. We all know that some OTAs are notorious for undercutting your direct rates, and nothing is more frustrating that seeing your OTA rates and direct rates side-by-side when your own website is more expensive. Sometimes it can be nearly impossible to get in touch with the OTA or wholesaler that is undercutting, and during any periods when your direct site is not in parity, you could actually lose share of direct bookings. But all things considered, Google’s free hotel booking links are a great option for hoteliers who want to increase visibility on Google and increase direct booking volume. Since the setup process is relatively easy, and the program doesn’t cost anything, the benefits can outweigh the potential downsides of this new marketing channel.

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

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

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 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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8 Ways a Hotel PMS Improves Operations and the Guest Experience

by
Jan Hejny
3 months ago

Shortly after COVID restrictions were eased, I went on a short golfing trip to Austria. I booked a well-known boutique hotel with a SPA and a fantastic restaurant surrounded by vineyards. I found out later that many other people had the same idea, as the hotel was fully booked for the weekend. Well, good for them, I thought. Anyway, when I arrived, it was raining, and I didn't bring my umbrella with me. So I came into the hotel soaked, hungry, and in desperate need of a shower. Unfortunately, out of the two check-in desks available, only one was operating, and the poor guy was trying hard to check in all the arriving guests as quickly as possible, while doing his best to have a cordial chat with them. Make no mistake: I'm sure it wasn't his fault that we had to wait for five minutes before he finished with the previous guest. When finally my turn came, the receptionist spent a tremendous amount of time staring down at his computer. I tried to ask him a few PMS-related questions, to understand why it was taking so long (of course, he didn't have any idea I knew a thing or two about PMSs), but I started to feel bad for the people waiting behind me, so I stopped any efforts to communicate with him, and I wasn't even told where and until when I could get my breakfast or where the SPA was. And that was the moment I realized, at least on a personal level, that there's something intrinsically wrong with hotel tech today.   When Technology Breaks Down Now, I am sure that, if you’re a frequent traveler like me, you have similar horror stories. According to a Qualtrics survey, 57% of poor hotel experiences are down to unfriendly staff. Problem is that, very often, hotel staff is unfriendly because they’re overworked, especially post-COVID, when properties are operating with skeleton staff. Here’s where technology should help, but the Austrian one is the perfect example of a case where it didn’t, and this happens way more than we, in the industry, like to admit. Moreover, tech should not only improve operations, but guest experience as well. Bad news is that, often, it fails in both fields. When your tech stack increases workload and waiting time at the reception (or in any other department, for that matter), you know you’ve got a problem. Technology is fallible, whatever you may think, and choosing the wrong software can heavily penalize your operation. A couple of years ago, a curious news story was published: the Henn-na hotel in Japan, known mainly because a good part of its employees are actual robots, had to "fire" 243 of them for doing "a bad job." One staff member, interviewed by The Mirror, stated: "It's easier now that we're not being frequently called by guests to help with problems with the robots." Well, this is an extreme example, but it’s not uncommon to see hotel staff having to find hacks and workarounds to make things work. If you’ve ever had a job in the hotel business, you know exactly what I am talking about.   The Role of the PMS in the Hotel Tech Stack Now, at the core of hotel operations, there’s always the PMS, so this is where the majority of problems start: bad integrations, lack of built-in features, etc. Choosing wisely is crucial, but not always easy, especially because hoteliers may be, paradoxically, unaware of the problems they need to solve. This is not due to the fact that hoteliers are bad entrepreneurs, quite the opposite! Problem is that being a hotelier means having to manage many operational aspects of the job, most of which are very complex and detailed. A General Manager, for instance, will obviously have to prioritize certain tasks, rather than spending hours to go deep and understand a certain technical problem. The thing with PMSs is that they’re the kind of software which is used by several different departments, so everyone has an opinion on it, yet a partial one. Sales & Marketing will likely never have to insert a group reservation, while the front office department won’t have to deal with MICE requests. In my experience, General Managers are the ones which can green light the implementation of a new software, coordinating, understanding and synchronising different departments’ needs, but chances are that their vision is limited, due to too many things on their minds, too. And we’re back to the hotel in Austria: somebody picks the wrong software, the system makes the life of all (or, at least, some) employees miserable, there’s less time to focus on the guests (which is even worse than the previous issue, while, of course, unhappy employees are unlikely to make guests happy), and… Well, you see where I am going with this, don’t you?   How PMSs Can Improve Operations and Guest Experience So, when picking a PMS, you should always be asking the one million dollar question: will this system make my life (and the life of my staff) easier so that they can make my guests happier? Knowing what to look for in a PMS can make a huge difference, so make sure that you understand what a property management system can (or can’t) do for you while trying to go into details during the process. Because if there’s anything we have learned over the past two decades, is that the devil is always hidden in details. Here are some of the areas where a good PMS can actually make a difference for both the hotel staff and guests: Reducing the workload during the check-in/out process. A publication by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research studied guests’ tolerance of delays during check-ins, and found that the “breaking point” for US guests is as short as five minutes. There’s an interesting discussion on Quora titled “What is the actual average length of time (in minutes) for hotel check-in and check-out?” Of course, the method is far from scientific, but it’s a fascinating read. According to the discussion, a best-case-scenario-check-in is at least 2-3 minutes. You know what that means? That if an American guest has two persons in front of him, he will likely leave a pesky review… Self check-in kiosks and apps can dramatically improve the check-in/out experience, yet most PMS do not support the technology; Remove friction during payments. It’s not uncommon to find hotels that still manage credit card payments manually. Usually, it goes like this: the back office department receives a booking, and they have to log in into the extranet, find the reservation, get the card, switch to another page for the CVC, get the physical terminal POS, type the total amount and the card details, wait for the transaction to go through. If this doesn’t look like a big deal for you, try to time your staff while they do it. I doubt it will take them less than five minutes per transaction. Now, let’s say you receive 25 reservations a day: that’s over two hours wasted just to charge credit cards. Not to mention what happens if the card does not work, you have to ask for a new one and start the process all over again. A PMS can solve the issue with payment automation proprietary features, or by integrating to third-party providers; Integrate invoicing systems. It may sound crazy in 2021, but I have seen too many hotels where the reception has to ask accountants to issue an invoice and, on the other side, too many accountants typing numbers manually from PMSs reports into their accounting systems… A simple integration will save hours of manpower every day; Connect your PMS to your SPA system. In most cases, if a hotel guest wants to book a treatment at the desk, the reception has to call the SPA, check availability and then book. Integrating the two systems will dramatically reduce workload, and guests will also be able to book and check availability directly online; Get smart in F&B. The adoption of QR codes and online ordering increased dramatically due to anti-COVID guidelines, and this is a prime example of a system that can dramatically reduce waiting times and improve guest experience. Customers are able to order (and pay) immediately on their phones. This reduces the waiting time (the waiter does not have to come and take your order or bring you the bill). Customers are in full control of the timing, and restaurants can allocate less staff to serve the same number of people, saving money. Moreover, thanks to Kitchen Display Systems (KDS), orders are not printed on paper but are shown digitally on a screen in the kitchen. KDS can also measure the average time needed to cook a meal, improving efficiency and customer satisfaction; Housekeeping digitalization. Another feature that COVID dramatically accelerated is the adoption of housekeeping apps, both built-in in the PMS or provided by third-party vendors. They reduce workload and make communication between departments easier. Hoteliers can also benchmark housekeeping staff timing to optimize operations and - particularly important for green hotels - drastically reduce the use of paper. According to a study, hotels use almost 2B A4 sheets per year in the United States only, meaning that 268,000 trees are chopped down annually only to fulfill the hotel industry's needs. It's the equivalent of 15 New York Central Park worth of trees cut every year! Automated emailing. Even though this is a feature we tend to associate with CRMs, some PMSs provide built-in functionality to communicate with guests pre/mid/post-stay, improving both the guest experience and increasing revenue coming from ancillary services proposed in the emails; Connect. Connect. Connect. It may sound crazy, but there are still a lot of hotels without a proper 2-way-integration between the PMS and the channel manager. It goes without saying that linking the two systems will dramatically reduce workload and bring human error down to virtually zero.   Understand the Tradeoffs of New Technology to Maximize Impact Paul Virilio once stated: “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution... Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.” This is true for hotel tech as well, that is why implementing technology just for the sake of it it’s never a good idea. Choosing any software, and PMSs, in particular, requires a complete understanding of the property’s current (and future) needs. The risk with picking the wrong system is to end up like the Austrian hotel I wrote about at the beginning of this piece. At HotelTime Solutions, we provide tailored solutions and follow our customers during all the phases of the implementation, making sure that they can focus on what they do best: taking care of their guests.  

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Impala’s New Contracting Product, Agile Distribution Strategy and the Future of Travel

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Top hospitality innovators have become agile in every facet of their businesses.  Top hotel marketers are diversifying digital spend to ensure the lowest possible cost per acquisition, the best sales reps are becoming less reliant on concentrated corporate business by building strategies to attract diversified pools of small group business, and the best revenue managers are constantly seeking new ways to experiment with their distribution mix to optimize for profitability. In this article, we’re going to focus on a new tool that helps agile revenue managers cut out distribution middlemen and access new demand channels that were previously too expensive and time-consuming to experiment with. We’ll explain how Impala’s new contracting product is empowering forward-thinking commercial leaders to capture new guest segments and take control of their distribution strategies.  The best part? You can list your hotel free today.   Why Hospitality Leaders Should Bring Agile Methodology into Their Commercial Operations Complacency has historically led to the death of once-great tech companies like Xerox and Kodak.  When successful companies like Amazon and Facebook grow, they work hard to retain their original startup mentality and never get comfortable with the status quo. They’re always questioning what they do (and why they do it) and they’re constantly searching for new opportunities or more efficient ways to operate. They test tons of new ideas to quickly cut failed experiments and double down on successful ones. This operational framework is called “agile management.” Iterative or agile life cycles are composed of several iterations or incremental steps towards the completion of a project. Iterative approaches are frequently used in software development projects to promote velocity and adaptability since the benefit of iteration is that you can adjust as you go along rather than following a linear path. One of the aims of an agile or iterative approach is to release benefits throughout the process rather than only at the end. At the core, agile projects should exhibit central values and behaviors of trust, flexibility, empowerment, and collaboration. Impala allows revenue managers to experiment with tons of new channels at very low cost: both financial cost, since you will be in full control of your discounts and commission rates, and time, since Impala eliminates the need for legwork like contracting connectivity setup, and extensive training. With Impala, your hotel can try a variety of new channels that target different guest segments. Eventually, this cycle of creating hypotheses, connecting to new channels, measuring success, and finding takeaways will become a habit and allow your hotel to identify new pockets of demand with zero upfront cost and minimal time invested.   How Impala Enables Commercial Leaders to Implement Agile Methodology There are millions of parties globally who sell hotel rooms but don’t have access to proprietary inventory.  Historically, these kinds of platforms have had two key ways to sell hotel inventory: OTA affiliate networks (e.g. Expedia Affiliate network) and bed banks.  Impala has built a platform that empowers hotels to connect directly with distribution partners. Impala’s platform is designed to provide hoteliers with the ability to decide where (and when) exclusive rates are shown in a scalable but controlled way.  If a hotel wanted to connect with a new supplier like TripFactory or National Park Express before Impala, they’d need to reach out to that supplier and gather information then decide (using limited information) whether the supplier could generate enough demand to warrant an exclusive rate.  The majority of smaller travel websites lack the bandwidth to take calls or emails from individual hotels so it’s almost a non-starter but even assuming they could - it could take weeks or months of back and forth before ever forging a partnership and drafting a contract. These smaller travel websites and apps typically don’t have the capability to build up their own hotel supply so it’s unlikely that a partnership like this could even be created in the first place even if the entire prospecting, negotiation and execution phase went perfectly. In short, it’s nearly impossible for hotels today to strike up direct relationships with smaller more niche distribution partners. Even when they can, it can take weeks or months for a hotel to strike up a new distribution partnership with a niche travel provider. In order to recreate the level of demand generated by Booking or Expedia, a hotel would need to successfully repeat this process hundreds or even thousands of times which is obviously not a commercially viable strategy. This dynamic has put hotels in a position where they cannot be agile and test new distribution channels which has consequently inflated third party commissions on OTAs and created massive rate parity issues due to a multitude of online resellers. With Impala, this whole prospecting, negotiation and execution process is streamlined meaning that a hotel can add new distribution partners like TripFactory and National Parks Express with minimal work and no upfront cost. Travel platforms like TripFactory create proposals with parameters such as commission structure, date availability and discounted rate.  With Impala, hotels can offer unique experiences like room upgrades or welcome cocktails instead of or in addition to discounts. They can select specific hotels within the Impala platform.   Hotels then get notified of new offers from relevant distribution partners in real-time. When they see interesting proposals from distribution platforms, they can then either accept them or propose new terms in just a few clicks. No contracts or even email conversations required.   Agile Leaders Will Thrive in the Next Generation of Travel The growth of global travel over the last century has been staggering. In 1950, 25 million tourists travelled the globe and by 2018 that number exploded to 1.8B. It’s easy to see why the hospitality industry thrived during this period. During this time period cars and planes became mass market products for the developed world making travel more accessible to all. Then, computer technologies like GDS and OTAs unlocked global demand for hotels by making it incredibly easy to find and book rooms. While the industry will continue to see strong growth over the coming century - it’s undeniable that the now enormous travel market has catalyzed increased competition. More competition means that hoteliers of the future will need to be more creative than those of the past in order to run profitable businesses. For hoteliers, sticking to the status quo simply won’t cut it. The hospitality teams that thrive in the future will be those that continually evolve and pivot to outcompete not only the hotel down the street, but also vacation rentals and any other disruptor, by strengthening their position within the distribution power curve. We can also expect that global travel behavior will continue to evolve and shift rapidly. What happens to hotels that are heavily dependent on international travel when it’s shut down? How do hotels react when autonomous cars enable guests to drive further distances to visit their properties? What strategies will be deployed to attract a new generation of remote workers?  Demand as a whole is growing but the nature of that demand is changing so quickly that hoteliers will need to be extremely agile in order to benefit from that growth. Impala’s vision is to disrupt legacy systems with a paradigm-shifting concept that removes the need for legacy infrastructure altogether and hotels globally are signing up to take part in the next generation of travel. Want to try Impala for free? List your hotel   This content was created collaboratively by Impala and Hotel Tech Report.

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2022)

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

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

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

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