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5 Ways Automation is Changing The Hotel Landscape

by
Kaitlin Hay
3 weeks ago

Automation has played a critical role in business for years. However, it wasn’t until the past few years that varying industries began to consider its immense capabilities. Exploring the use of automation today, we’re unpacking this evolution in recent years, how it’s changing the hotel landscape and considerations for getting started with automation.   The State of Automation Today Over the years the adoption of automation has grown significantly. Allowing businesses to focus on strategy and direction rather than tedious tasks that take up valuable time and resources. In more recent years, in part due to the pandemic, automation has accelerated rapidly. Back in 2018, it was reported that “57% of businesses were piloting the automation of business processes in one or more business functions.“ In that same study conducted in 2020, the year of the pandemic, it was reported “66% of businesses were doing the same - a significant jump of 9%” And while a number of industries are hopping on the automation bandwagon, hotels are beginning to recognize it’s tremendous benefits, with 77.6 percent of hotels expecting to increase their tech investment in the next three years. Today, automation is driving better and more agile hotels - allowing them get more focused, do more with less time and resources and provide greater, more personalized, experiences. While the state of automation continues to evolve it’s important to recognize the impact on specific industries. Here we touch on 4 ways automation is changing the hotel industry today.   Seamless Check-in Experience It goes without saying that the traditional in-person check-in experience has its fallbacks. Usually involving long wait times at reception, reduced employee productivity and prone to manual error, there’s a lot of frustration that can build up at the front desk. Advancements in automation today have revolutionized the check-in experience. Guests can check-in on their own terms, whether on-the-go or from the comforts of their homes. Upon arrival, guests simply provide their name and are given their room key within minutes. For the individual who has travelled hours and sometimes days to get to their destination, having an automated email with a seamless check-in experience makes all the difference in satisfaction. Keep in mind that from an operational standpoint, this also alleviates repetitive and mundane processes for your staff. Especially if you’re dealing with rampant labour shortages, your team can focus on more pressing issues.   Request Management Historically, reception and housekeeping have leveraged pen and paper to manage requests and fulfillment. And while it may have worked in the past, today’s demand and timely expectations call for new processes. For request management, automation has proven to greatly reduce time to fulfill requests, improve communication with guests, and provide greater transparency across multiple departments. In most instance, you can increase revenues by being able to manage more requests in less time and upsell without having to lift a finger.  As an example, most request management tools will allow you to set your own parameters for automated processes. Simply define requests possible for in-stay guests once a room has been assigned. Once a request is made it’s tagged and routed to the right team member in real-time. Urgency is assigned based on parameters your team sets, so any pressing requests or comments are directed to senior management. With automated tickets and request management, accountability and transparency are provided and it’s no longer a guessing game of who’s dealing with what.   Contactless Follow-Ups When a customer leaves a hotel the experience doesn’t stop there. The goal is always to continue the relationship and encourage repeat visits. With that, communication plays a vital role. Using a digital tool with automated capabilities, you can connect with guests, pre-stay, in-stay and post-stay. Send timed and targeted follow-up messages on the customers preferred channel without lifting a finger.  If you’re following up take it a step further by adding a link to an experience survey. This way you can measure their satisfaction to improve the experience in the future.   Personalization & Upselling As we’ve seen over the past several years, change can happen in an instant. Which means, finding ways to constantly stay in the know with your guests is key.  With the adoption of digital tools that have automated capabilities, you can collect data that isn’t available through pen and paper operations. This means, your team can consistently improve offerings to meet changing preferences and even customize specific automated interactions.  Take an on demand ordering functionality for example. After a guest selects a meal, you can use data gathered to automate the offering of a glass of wine or bottle of water with their meal. Further, you can personalize the message. If you’re using a messaging solution, set the introduction to your emails with a first name, or if you’re segmenting your audiences, reference their experience.   Leveraging Automation Like any new tool, assessing the need for automation in your hotel is crucial. Today there are so many ways you can automate processes, that jumping into the first opportunity without considering your whole strategy can be damaging. Take a look at your hotel journey and locate where most of the friction is occurring with your guests and what’s taking up most of your employees time. From there you can make a list of all the tools to help you navigate a more seamless journey.

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How to Write a Hotel Welcome Letter (+Free Templates)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Looking for ways to engage with your hotel guests? Or are you searching for initiatives that will help you improve guest review scores, even if you have fewer front desk staff than in previous years? Welcome letters (or welcome note) are a small but impactful element that sets each guest experience off on the right foot. These friendly messages can set the tone for a guest’s entire stay, and they can communicate important information that a guest needs to know. They can be branded, personalized, and even interactive - with QR codes, links, and social media handles. For such a meaningful touchpoint, welcome letters are quite easy to implement. With the best practices in this article and the templates we provide, you’ll get a big head start toward adding welcome letters to your guest journey (or elevating your existing letter templates).

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How Hotel Tech Powers Proactive Guest Service

by
Sarah Duguay
1 month ago

Mobile messaging, chatbots, contactless check-ins—-we wouldn’t blame you if the thought of instituting technology feels cold and unwelcoming. After all, advances in hotel tech are a result of streamlining operations in favor of a more automated approach. But the why behind hotel tech is not about less hospitality, it’s about better hospitality. Hotel tech is often touted as a time saver, which goes hand-in-hand with better hospitality. Time freed from conducting mundane paperwork thanks to hotel tech can be rerouted to providing other guest services, from organizing surprise-and-delight initiatives to in-person guest assistance. But the most compelling argument for hotel tech is how it supports proactive hospitality. Traditionally, hoteliers would cast a large net to catch guests, with hospitality commencing upon booking and check-in. Yet with developments in hotel technology, hoteliers can define their target market (or guest segments), create appealing content, and develop personalized offers and service—taking hospitality to the next level. Moreover, hospitality doesn’t end when a guest checks out. Through hotel tech, hotels can nurture relationships with their guests in a proactive way that garners repeat bookings. While at first glance hotel tech may seem to lack a human touch, the opposite is true. Through the thoughtful and human-designed application of chatbots, websites, email automation, guest databases, and guest messaging, hoteliers can provide personalized guest experiences through every stage of the guest journey: pre-stay, stay, and post-stay.

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Disney’s MagicBand: Breaking Down One of Hospitality's Greatest Innovations

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

Looking for a glimpse into the future of technology in the hospitality space? At Walt Disney World, the MagicBand is not only a handy device that allows visitors to skip the line. It’s also a stunning example of an innovative product that enhances the guest experience, sheds light on guest behavior, and uses technology to foster a closer connection to the brand. In this article, we’ll explore the features and functionality of the MagicBand, explain how it came to life, and study the benefits of technology like the MagicBand so you can start brainstorming ways you might incorporate similar tech into your own hotel or hospitality business.  

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How Hotel Owners Can Benefit from Mobile Tech Tools

by
Nikolai Kronborg
4 months ago

Firstly, mobile services allow hotels to improve their operational efficiency. Mobile digitalization facilitates the automation of tasks that otherwise have to be performed manually by hotel staff. These can be eliminated by having guests do it themselves in advance (e.g. fill in the information, registration card, check-in and out, online payment, choose and allocate rooms, chat, book spa, dinner, or golf reservations, etc). Besides requiring fewer human resources from the hotel that could be spared or employed in other higher-value tasks, the best part of this self-administrated service is that by transferring the tasks to the guests, it further improves their experience and satisfaction. Mobile digitalization gives freedom for guests to find their own convenience.   Connect with guests on-the-go and extend the relationship beyond the duration of the stay Secondly, mobile services lead to a more customer-focused service and create a more personalized and on-premise accessible experience. For instance, more than 50% of American leisure travelers would use an app to add extras on-the-go during their hotel stays. Mobile services also help to maintain long-term relationships and two-way communication anytime during the guest’s journey and better manage loyalty programs.   Optimizes the value per guest and targets their specific needs In turn, this widens the opportunity to target guests’ specific needs, hence allowing hotels to focus their strategy on the optimization of each guest’s value. Mobile apps have an additional advantage, they work as direct channels to guests by integrating with customer support and feedback systems, as well as with broader online review platforms. Lastly, mobile apps can potentially capture late bookers. Over 70% of same-day hotel reservations are made on smartphones, thus, an optimized mobile experience can be the key to unlocking the value of late bookers,- and re-bookings.   What are guests really expecting from mobile hospitality? Guests want pre-arrival check-in and avoid reception queues. A study conducted by Ipsos and Aeroguest asked guests what characteristics they would value the most in their hotel experiences. We found out that Wi-fi and breakfast are essentials for every stay and in most cases could be deal-breakers. However, if we look into what mobile hospitably can add to the stay, then the best experience includes being able to check in earlier, check out later and cut these two steps shorter by avoiding queues and crowds in the reception, thus supporting a more convenient and contactless hotel stay. These are also the top two benefits that both business travelers and tech-savvy hotel guests are hoping their hotels will make available.   QUESTION: CHOOSE THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES OF MOBILE HOSPITALITY (the size of the picture is proportional to the utility level. Only 11 features are shown, total utility sums to 100%)   Guests are willing to pay to select their own room Having a room with a view and being able to select a specific room within the desired room type is also among the most valued features. This capability directly addresses another aspect that this study found guests to be unsatisfied with their hotel experiences. “When I book a room, I want to know what I am getting” This feature breaks the uncertainty factor and provides the choice and transparency needed when evaluating which hotel room to pick. Guests will know if the room meets their needs, where it is located, what view it has from the window, and if the requested extras have been acknowledged. This is another feature that mobile hospitality providers such as AeroGuest support, but not all hotels, web services, and apps give this opportunity to guests,- it is very difficult to build and has to be two-way integrated to multiple PMS across the world. An even more relevant aspect though, is that hotel guests are willing to pay to select their own room. 42% of hotel guests and almost 60% of business travelers would be likely or very likely to pay for choosing a specific room, and these would be willing to pay, on average, an extra 7% of the room price to choose their ideal room.   QUESTION: HOW LIKELY WOULD YOU BE TO PAY EXTRA FOR CHOOSING A SPECIFIC ROOM BEFORE ARRIVAL?   QUESTION: HOW MUCH WOULD YOU BE LIKELY TO PAY FOR CHOOSING YOU OWN ROOM?   In sum, mobile services not only yield operational efficiencies but also allow to upsell of some completely new services such as room selection and adding extras before and during the stay and to better capture re-booking.  

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Where is Mobile Hospitality Headed?

by
Nikolai Kronborg
5 months ago

The adoption of mobile technologies has taken the fast lane ever since the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has halted the industry. As a response to the challenges of the pandemic, mobile travel solutions have emerged as an appealing option to re-affirm consumer confidence that safety can be maintained when traveling. It seems that the adoption of both effortless and touch-free mobile solutions will have a lasting impact. Even though the need for safety takes precedence during these times of fear, the need for convenience is the main driver and will last beyond the hype of the pandemic.   Where is mobile hospitality headed? Mobile-enabled services are no longer an accessory in the hospitality industry to satisfy a niche need for speed or convenience for a narrow group of guests, but rather a necessity that enhances any guest’s travel experience. With or without a mobile strategy, every hotel owner should ask the following questions: What benefits are the growing mobile-centric hotel guests driven by? How should hotels adapt their services and where should they focus their attention to meet consumers’ expectations and needs in the hospitality service?   Mobile hospitality is a win-win for both hotels and guests The main reason why hotel owners should consider a mobile strategy is to give the business more operational efficiency and offer guests a more customer-focused experience while saving time and space for higher-value tasks and strategic revenue management. For guests, mobile hospitality rests on two benefits, the increased convenience of effortless travel and touch-free experiences.   Mobile-centric services make stays effortless and streamline the whole journey, thus improving the guest experiences First and foremost, an effortless journey will directly impact guests’ experience and satisfaction. Regardless of being a shorter or longer stay, for business or leisure, hotels work as an extension of our home. Likewise, to the same extent that we have the need to make our home lives convenient, functional, and comfortable, as hotel guests we expect just the same level of easiness. Mobile services are not only more streamlined than more traditional services, but they also have the power to connect the whole journey and several experiences seamlessly.   How can hotel owners benefit from mobile hospitality? Mobile digital services improve operational efficiency while improving guests’ travel experiences.  Firstly, mobile services allow hotels to improve their operational efficiency. Mobile digitalization facilitates the automation of tasks that otherwise have to be performed manually by hotel staff. These can be eliminated by having guests do it themselves in advance (e.g. fill in the information, check-in and out, online payment, choose and allocate rooms, book spa, dinner, or golf reservations, etc). Besides requiring fewer human resources from the hotel that could be spared or employed in other higher-value tasks, the best part of this self-administrated service is that by transferring the tasks to the guests, it further improves their experience and satisfaction. Mobile digitalization gives freedom for guests to find their own convenience.     Connect with guests on-the-go and extend the relationship beyond the duration of the stay. Secondly, mobile services lead to more customer-focused service and create a more personalized and on-premise accessible experience. For instance, more than 50% of American leisure travelers would use an app to add extras on the go during their hotel stays. Mobile services also help to maintain long-term relationships and two-way communication anytime during the guest’s journey and better manage loyalty programs. Optimizes the value per guest and target their specific needs. In turn, this widens the opportunity to target guests' specific needs, hence allowing hotels to focus their strategy on the optimization of each guest’s value. Mobile apps have an additional advantage, they work as direct channels to guests by integrating with customer support and feedback systems, as well as with broader online review platforms. Lastly, mobile apps can potentially capture late bookers. Over 70% of same-day hotel reservations are made on smartphones, thus, an optimized mobile experience can be the key to unlocking the value of late bookers. In sum, mobile services not only yield operational efficiencies but also allow to upsell some services such as room selection and adding extras during the stay to better capture late bookers.  

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ALICE Front of House: An Integrated Guest Services and Communication Platform

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

As a hotelier, you know that the process to deliver excellent service is very different today than it was just a few years ago. In the pre-COVID era, perhaps your hotel was buzzing with business travelers, and you had plenty of staff available to assist with any guest request. Contactless service wasn’t the norm yet, so your staff had to be hands-on with everything from check-in to check-out. You might have even had a full team of front desk agents, concierges, and PBX operators with clearly defined roles. Fast forward to today, and your hotel probably looks and feels very different. Business travel hasn’t fully rebounded yet, and it might never reach pre-2020 levels. Your hotel is likely relying on a larger share of leisure guests, who can be more demanding than the corporate road warriors. Your team is probably smaller too; many hotels were forced to downsize and streamline roles when the pandemic hit. Now that hoteliers are hiring again, many can’t fill their open roles due to workforce shortages. And the way you deliver service has changed. Guests today are less comfortable with face-to-face interaction, so your hotel might be trying to pivot toward contactless, tech-forward solutions for communication and operations. How can your hotel adapt to and thrive amid these new challenges and expectations? We spoke with ​​Dmitry Koltunov, ALICE’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, and got a sneak peek into ALICE’s new Front of House, an integrated solution for front-of-house staff like front desk agents and concierges. In hotels where staff wear many hats and juggle more tasks than ever, ALICE’s new solution can help front office teams deliver five-star service, communicate efficiently, and even drive profitability. How does it work? Let’s explore ALICE Front of House.   ALICE Front of House at a Glance All-in-one communication and task management platform that combines functionality for front desk agents, PBX operators, and concierges in one central place Messaging tool for social media, SMS, and in-app communication, eliminating the need to monitor multiple inboxes Ticketing system for internal requests to ensure follow-through Concierge-style database of local recommendations and branded itinerary-building tools Logs to understand and track each step in the guest journey Opportunities to drive ancillary revenue, upgrades, and upsells to increase profitability  Technology to enable staff to deliver high-touch, personalized service in a more efficient manner

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What You Can Do To Increase Holiday Occupancy At Your Hotel This Year

by
Stefano Mocella
8 months ago

You may be thinking it’s early to start talking about the holiday season, but as a hotelier, now is the best time to prepare for the Christmas season. Why? With so much competition for rooms and heightened expectations in guest experiences, you need to plan ahead if you want this to be a happy holiday season for your bottom line. Keep in mind many folks had travel plans last year that went by the wayside and are now looking to make up for a lost year. Early data from Travel & Leisure shows that December bookings jumped by 15% compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic levels) in July. Keep in mind, Christmas bookings typically peak in October and November. After missing out on 2020 travel, guests will want to ensure wherever they book their Christmas getaway will deliver an unforgettable experience. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to get guests through your doors without spending a fortune on decorating your property or getting too gimmicky. Here are some holiday hotel marketing ideas that can make this a year to remember for your property.   Leverage Email Marketing If you haven’t been using email marketing to its fullest potential, you’ve been missing out. It’s one of the best ways to get into the minds of potential guests (and stay there). Make this a priority for the holiday season and while you’re at it, chalk it down as a New Year's Resolution. If you’ve been collecting email addresses of past guests in a responsible manner, it’s time to get your Christmas offers out to them. You can get creative with your offers, from a special package or prepare a special holiday menu in your restaurant. Either way, it’s a good time to start engaging with potential guests and pique their interest.   Offer Prizes and Creative Giveaways People love the chance to win prizes, particularly on social media. It’s why we see so many polls and hashtag challenges or merely entering a contest by tagging friends. Contests are an effective way to get some user-generated content for your hotel’s marketing campaigns. Contests can be something as simple as asking people to send their best (or funniest) Christmas outfits or best home decoration and in return they can win a discounted stay at your hotel or perhaps win a free spa day with their stay. You’ll be surprised at how many people will jump at the chance to win; not to mention it’s a great way to boost engagement on your social media channels.   Show Your Holiday Spirit with Deals There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with this one. Everyone loves a good deal and sometimes simple works best. Guests will be looking to save a buck where they can, given how expensive the holiday season can be already. Reducing your standard room rate or offering a discount on a suite might just give you the edge in securing more bookings. Sharing such deals on social media will also get you plenty of attention if the deal is of significant value. Provided you have a powerful channel manager, you can ensure your holiday rates are distributed among your biggest booking channels. There’s nothing to lose in trying, particularly if your goal is full occupancy for the holidays.   Create a Landing Page on Your Website If you’ll be offering deals, then it’s vital to create a separate landing page on your website. This will give you an area on your site to market and focus your holiday bundles. If you bury your Christmas packages and offers within your existing room rates, it’s going to slip by a lot of eyes. If you have a dedicated festive area, you can have some fun with it by adding some cool design effects and throw in some holiday puns in your room description.   What Will Your F&B Program Look Like? If there’s one commonality for the holidays, it’s that everyone wants to let loose and enjoy some mouthwatering comfort food. Your hotel’s holiday offerings shouldn’t just be about decorating and offering special room rates. If you have an on-site restaurant and/or bar, putting together a special holiday menu will capture everyone’s Christmas spirit. There will be plenty who will jump at the chance of booking a Christmas meal or throwing a mini holiday party for their business. And once patrons book with you for a meal, those might just turn into room bookings if you mention the type of accommodations you offer.    Happy Bookings! The holiday season could be stressful for hoteliers, but this should also be your most exciting time of the year. With all-in-one PMS systems like roomMaster Anywhere, you can ensure that you have all the tools you need to maximize holiday bookings for 2021 and beyond. If you start planning now, it could be your most profitable period of the year.  

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The Rise of Mobile Ordering: From Trend to Core Hospitality Technology

by
Hotel Tech Report
8 months ago

It’s more convenient than ever to dine out or order in, thanks to the proliferation of food delivery apps and technology that makes ordering and payment a breeze. In fact, 80% of Americans have used food delivery apps before, and about 60% order food via an app at least once per week. Ordering food from your phone is becoming widely accepted in all facets of the hospitality industry, aligning with a shift toward the “low-touch economy,” the contact-free trend that accelerated as a result of the COVID pandemic. As more people want a contactless experience, and as people become more comfortable with technology in the hospitality space, mobile ordering will be an integral part of the future of the hotel and restaurant industry. Traveler preferences have evolved since the beginning of the pandemic, shifting toward contactless, on-demand services. These changes extend beyond hotels, as more people have become accustomed to food delivery, video calls, and even virtual fitness classes as socially distant substitutes to in-person interaction. The contactless trend appears to be here to stay. Retailers have adopted contactless payment terminals, supermarkets offer contactless grocery pick-up, and many hotels now offer contactless check-in and on-demand housekeeping service to limit physical touchpoints. At hotels, guests also want the ability to order food without speaking face-to-face with restaurant or room service staff and to be able to enjoy it while they work remotely in the lobby, under the shade of a cabana, or in the privacy of their guestroom. RoomOrders was founded in 2017 to provide this convenience for guests, and the company was originally designed to digitize room service operations at the Hilton Boston Downtown. Success in Boston led RoomOrders to expand to hotels across the world, working with brands like Marriott and Accor in addition to Hilton. RoomOrders is now in over 300 leading hotels and resorts across the US, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. At the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, the RoomOrders team saw an opportunity to bring their technology to not only hotel room service operations, but also to hospitality businesses ranging from restaurants to health and beauty centers, convenience stores, and tourist attractions to meet the desire for contactless service. As RoomOrders CEO Eugene Jones says, “mobile ordering is moving quickly from a trending sector to a booming sector.” Tech-enabled options are becoming increasingly popular, and rather than being viewed as a novelty, a tech-forward experience is an expectation. Customers are also becoming more savvy. Consumers in the F&B space are accustomed to ordering everything from their mobile devices whether it’s a new pair of Nike shoes, their groceries, or even a Tesla.  It’s only natural that these guests expect room service on their smartphones, too. With mobile ordering, a customer can browse the menu, place an order, and pay on their smartphone without the need for in-person interaction with staff. “Imagine the possibility of ordering a refreshing drink while relaxing by the pool...without having to get up to approach a bar to order,” says Jones. But mobile ordering isn’t for everyone. Jones recognizes that some guests relish the in-person interaction or don’t feel comfortable placing orders on their smartphone for a variety of reasons. The good news is that “guests have the option to order the old way or the new way, leaving customers with the ultimate freedom of choice.” Even when you implement mobile ordering, you can serve customers the way they want to be served. Mobile ordering doesn’t just benefit customers - it’s good business: increased revenue, more efficient and helpful staff, and higher guest satisfaction. Hotel businesses that partner with RoomOrders often report increases in overall revenue and average order volume. Why? RoomOrders eliminates friction in the ordering experience, so it’s easier than ever for customers to purchase food and drinks. Without mobile ordering, customers might decide not to order from your outlet if they see a long line or if they can’t flag down a server. Mobile ordering removes these obstacles and makes ordering effortless. Plus, the RoomOrders interface allows you to configure upsell options, specials, and tagging that make your menu items more compelling. Someone who might have skipped a side dish or dessert might be convinced to try it when they see it as a recommended pairing with their entree. In addition to highlighting the potential for revenue growth, Jones debunks a common misconception about mobile ordering systems. In our interview, he says “a digitalised hotel is not necessarily void of human labor, it actually frees up humans to be more hospitable.” The futuristic idea of a hotel run by robots isn’t going to be the future of your hotel with mobile ordering. The opposite is true; by letting technology handle menial, repetitive tasks like taking orders and running payment, your staff can focus on more important work, like building meaningful relationships with guests. Menu updates are seamless with a digital system like RoomOrders. Without a mobile ordering system, staff would need to reprint menus every time a menu item changed. RoomOrders allows you to make menu updates with just a few clicks so you can always keep your menus up-to-date and accurate. Overall, mobile ordering helps you deliver a better guest experience. It makes the ordering process more efficient at your restaurant, and, as Eugene discusses in the interview, it can also give guests an alternative to a potentially frustrating experience like waiting on hold for room service. Ultimately, guests who have a better experience at your hotel spend more and are more likely to return which is why this once trendy technology is becoming a global staple. Eager to learn more about mobile ordering? Read our interview with RoomOrders’ CEO Eugene Jones below     This content was created collaboratively by Hotel Tech Report and RoomOrders.   Tell us about the founding story behind Roomorders. In a nutshell, RoomOrders was founded in 2018 after one of the co-founders Haris Dizdarevic, who is an IT expert, sat with his restaurant owner friend in the Boston Hilton and suggested the hotel could digitalise its operations with self-service ordering by guest mobile phones. We were arguably the pioneers of QR code ordering in hotel rooms and this was a major move from fixed phones. However, QR code ordering has opened up new revenue streams by expanding ordering and payment opportunities outside bedrooms to the entire hotel or resort complex, as well as neighbourhood by connecting with community vendors. During the corona crisis, we realised digital ordering via QR codes or NFC tags could be done from anywhere outside hotels as well, from poolsides to beaches, rooftop bars to golf courses and neighbouring vendors, from restaurants to health and beauty centres, supermarkets and tourist attractions.   Why has mobile ordering been growing so rapidly in your opinion? Apart from opening up new revenue streams, your hotel will have an edge over rival destinations by restoring confidence in health and safety as a digitalised, low-contact hotel offering self-service ordering and payments via guest smartphone. Today's guest expect on-demand service and integration with surrounding vendors allows QR code ordering and payments of almost anything from anywhere on the hotel or resort site. I think Asia, which has totally skipped credit cards and where people no longer have a use for wallets, is indicative of the future awaiting us. When I see the corona QR passports and vouchers, it is obvious that mobile ordering is inevitable and that everything will be digital, powered by lightning broadband communication. I think we will be ordering from holograms appearing in thin air...  It will be like snapping fingers to be served in an instant! Many hotels believe that QR codes and pdf menus are a “good enough” solution for contactless ordering. Contrary to that belief is documented reality that guests hate downloading pdfs or any apps and feel teased if they cannot order as well as pay after seeing digital menus. The beauty of digital ordering platforms is that guests have the option to order the old way or the new way, leaving customers with the ultimate freedom of choice   How should hoteliers feel about automation of routine tasks? There is always the danger of technology replacing human touch in hospitality and this can be seen as a positive in terms of cost savings for hotels during tough times, yet a loss for social interaction and engagement - something we have traditionally enjoyed as consumers. However, a digitalised hotel is not necessarily void of human labor, it actually frees up humans to be more hospitable,entertaining or helpful in the process of delivering excellent guest experience.   How can hoteliers distinguish between mobile ordering software solutions? Mobile ordering is different to room service as mobile ordering is remote and unrestricted, it can be done from anywhere across a hotel or resort, rather than just a hotel room. Room service on the other hand is limited to just a room and the guest experience confined to a room.  Imagine the possibility of ordering a refreshing drink while relaxing by the pool, or a finger-food snack, without having to get up to approach a bar to order or even pick up orders. Our research shows orders skyrocket throughout the whole day, especially hot days, in this particular scenario. Hotels can’t be, or have, everything for guests, so RoomOrders is connecting hotel guests with surrounding vendors of all sorts of products and services on or off-site, expanding the guest experience by bringing anything, anywhere to their feet wherever they may be around the hotel or resort.   What has been the impact of COVID on the state of mobile ordering? COVID has been a double-edged sword. While it has suspended business for many hotels, particularly during lockdowns, it has also increased the urgency of digitalization, particularly contactless service, ie QR code ordering and payments. Mobile ordering is moving quickly from a trend sector to a booming sector, and in that respect we see it as a bigger revolution than food delivery - which is basically restricted to fixed addresses and extremely expensive. I think Covid-19 has sped up the dawn of a new age, the fourth industrial revolution. Everything will be digital and accessible remotely, starting with our jobs. The adoption of new technology, particularly QR code ordering and payments will move from a trend to boom sector and like Asia, we will no longer carry credit cards or wallets. Our mobile phones will be a lifeline, the centre of our world and essential to survival. Accessing our phone as fast as possible will be key, so QR codes may be replaced by something faster, but right now it seems RoomOrders will be busy improving people’s lives by fast ordering and secure payments. I honestly cannot see a hotel or resort without RoomOrders or a competitor service.   Are there misconceptions amongst hoteliers in this emerging category? It’s true, hoteliers think it’s expensive, when it is actually free, zero capital investment. Other fallacies include preconceptions that guests want human contact with waiters or that older people are technophobes. The reality is that newer generations want immediate glorification, on-demand service. Amazon and food delivery has changed their expectations, to the point of even compromising quality for efficiency. Seniors are actually the fastest growing segment of adopters of social media, Sure they were a bit slower, but when they sense that old methods are fading, they adapt just as easily as other groups, provided that the experience is intuitional, or in other terms, easy.   Are there any stories that stick out to you where RoomOrders delivered outsized impact for clients? Just before the pandemic, I arrived on a late flight into Las Vegas to speak at a conference about the threats facing hospitality in the digital era, and I was really hungry. As the hotel didn’t provide room service in the evening, I picked up a flyer and ordered pizza delivery by phone. I had to go outside, passing restaurants in the casino lobby and there were about 20 or so others waiting for their delivery too, even though it was past midnight already, There was so much confusion, it was a horrible guest experience that gave us the idea to not only integrate all the surrounding restaurants of a hotel, but other vendors too. It also gave me fodder for my speech, which offered RoomOrders as a way to combat the threat of aggressive food delivery services preying on local restaurants and hotel guests. The last year has demonstrated without dilemma that we have deeply entered the era of contactless ordering and payment