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Coronavirus: Survival of the Fittest for Hotels

by
Jordan Hollander
12 hours ago

In the face of a global pandemic and hotel industry meltdown we are sailing deep into uncharted waters.  No hotel (or any business for that matter) can stay alive without revenue. The U.S. hotel industry (and airline) came back strong after 9/11 when travelers were afraid of terrorism.  Regions affected by the SARS and MERS outbreaks were followed by similar bounce-backs.  But somehow this time feels different. “Without government intervention, there will be no service industry whatsoever. There’s so many people that work for me whom I am incredibly concerned about. Where are they going to get their next meal? Do they have health care coverage? How are they going to pay their bills? It’s as if aliens came from outer space and decided to totally destroy restaurants,” said famed restaurateur David Chang. The good news is that this pandemic may be over sooner than you anticipate and the mortality rate may actually be much lower than we initially thought (due to undocumented cases).  The tricky part about virality is that the models have wild swings based on even miniscule changes to the assumptions of those models (which are changing dramatically each day).  The same scientist whose very report jolted the US and UK into action has since changed his model assumptions which massively changed the forecasts. “It will recede in a converging exponential; in other words, the coronavirus can be expected to disappear from this region with the same dizzying speed with which it entered our lives,” Dr. Dan Yamin. It’s not only virologists suffering from inaccurate and quickly outdated predictions, hotel industry forecasters like Jan Freitag are facing the same dilemma.     There’s more good news.  The world is uniting against a common enemy and we’re collaborating as a species like never before.  While the media likes to portray drama and political posturing, the reality is that this crisis has helped humanity put aside our cultural differences because a virus doesn’t care where you’re from. On a Facebook live with TED, Bill Gates mentioned some of the collaboration that’s happening in the scientific community.     Even ordinary people are collaborating, as evidenced by Google Sheet of volunteer opportunities created by thousands of individuals from around the world. We’re also seeing collaboration like never before in the hotel community.  Competitive walls were broken down when major hotel chain CEOs addressed U.S. President Donald Trump in their pleas for an industry bailout.  Similarly, major hotel tech companies have banded together in an initiative spearheaded by Cloudbeds to convert excess hotel capacity into lodging for those in need like healthcare workers.  Hotel owners are listing their beds in droves at HospitalityHelps.org. It’s not all good news though.  Never before in our lifetimes has business come to a screeching halt like this...and hopefully it won’t happen again. Most hotel businesses maintain around 2x payroll as working capital (cash to run their day to day operations).  As hotels get closer to the 60-day mark we’ll see more and more layoffs because they simply can’t foot the staffing bills.  The only way to help these hotels is through government bailouts and improved payment terms on mortgages. Here in the U.S., the government has put together an incredible program to offer fully forgiven SBA loans of 2.5x monthly payroll to any hotel business under 500 employees. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we are always looking to understand how technology can help improve hotel business performance but sadly there isn’t a ton that you as a hotelier can do with new technology right now.  Revenue management systems don’t add much value when you’re at 2% occupancy, upsell software can only do so much with a couple of heads in beds and so on. We’d be lying if we said “we’re all going to get through this together.”  We’re not all going to get through this. Poorly capitalized hotels like those described in this great article by The Real Deal will go under even with government intervention.  Overextended technology companies will face the unfortunate same truths.  Even the previously untouchable venture funded alternatives like Sonder and Lyric have faced hard truths faster than we anticipated. We are a strong and resilient industry like many have pointed out.  The Darwinian reality is that these crises make all industries more antifragile.  The bad actors die out (along with many good ones) and only the fittest survive.  Ask your finance friends what major bank balance sheets look like today in comparison to 2008/2009.  The companies that come out of times like these are the leanest and smartest - and they get even leaner and smarter through the pain. We don’t say the above in a good or a bad way - it’s just the truth.  Many hotels have or will cancel software contracts while others will go out of business.  This is really unfortunate and painful for their suppliers in the short term but new owners will purchase those properties and those owners will understand more than anyone the power of running an efficient organization. They’ll be more entrepreneurial in aggregate and eager to surround themselves with the best technology partners around.  For software companies this means there will be more whitespace than ever before in history to pick up new market share - in the 12-18 months after this crisis fades we will see the defining hotel technology companies of the future separate from the pack.  COVID has been a great equalizer and while painful we believe that it will accelerate digital transformation in hospitality (like many industries) by 10-15 years.   As we said before, technology can’t save you RIGHT NOW but great software is the key to running an efficient and consistent business.  Market intelligence software helps you stay ahead of trends, revenue management software can help you price rooms automatically without relying on a revenue manager who’s basing forecasts on last year’s irrelevant results, operations tools can keep consistency of SOPs and so on. TCV’s David Yuan shared an awesome initiative from Toast POS to get consumers buying restaurant gift cards to support their favorite local businesses.  The same way that a restaurant can’t serve you when they’re shut down, tech companies can’t do all that much for hotels that aren’t open. Software is key to how you anticipate, react and recover from a recession.  It makes you better at acquiring guests, running an efficient operation and maximizing every dollar. During the Bill Gates interview with TED he was asked what he would do if he was President right now and his answer was basically “It’s too late, the time to act was 3 years ago.  All we can do now is ramp up testing, pray for a cure and promote social distancing”. Similarly, the only thing hoteliers can really do now is negotiate with lenders, stay current on local bailout opportunities, make prudent layoffs, focus on helping their employees as much as they can and pray that this ends soon.  Once we’ve sorted out all of those issues and have some downtime while our businesses are closed, the best thing we can do is prepare for the next downturn and improve our operational capabilities. Never again will you have this much time to try different technologies and lots of vendors are even offering concessions and free tools that we encourage every hotelier to take advantage of for this limited and unprecedented period before we get back to the new normal. Do everything you can afford to support the technology companies pushing our industry forward because when this is all over you’re going to need them more than ever.     The biggest barriers to adopting technology are broken down right now in ways they will never be again - take advantage of that to optimize your business before it's too late. #1 Contract Lock-in: Most can be broken with force majeure.  If you don't like a vendor, now is an opportune time to upgrade your stack. #2 Switching Risk: Especially when it comes to mission critical systems it can be scary trying to migrate while your hotel is at full occupancy.  This is the perfect time to make the move while your hotel is closed. #3 Time: Learning new software takes time no matter how easy to use the system is.  You'll never have this much time to try and learn once the market picks back up. #4 Cost: Lots of vendors are extending free trials during closures from 30-days to 90-days.  You'll never have an opportunity like this to try software and see if you like it over extended periods of time.  Having said that, your vendors are hurting as much as you are - support them don't strain their businesses unless you absolutely need payment delays etc. Use the golden rule and treat them as you hope guests treat you. #5 Integrations: This barrier is already broken down.  Simply avoid vendors who charge high integration fees or don't integrate with your critical systems.  There are plenty of great vendors who have open APIs...it's 2020 after all. Focus on ensuring your hotel business survives this crisis financially then get proactive, get creative and learn how to optimize your business to accelerate the recovery and you'll be outperforming the compset in no time.  Remember that the best defense is a good offense.  Everybody looks like a genius in a bull market, it's times of crisis that separate the average hotel businesses from the truly great ones. -- Put the proverbial oxygen mask on yourself first.  Once you've got your finances sorted out - here are some ways that you can optimize your hotel business and support the technology vendors working hard to keep the industry running smoothly.   WHISTLE GUEST MESSAGING. Extended free messaging (guest and team) for new signups. A few reasons how Whistle will help your hotel during the crisis: - Social Distancing: No need for in-person interactions between gueststaff and staffstaff - Efficiency: Hotels can manage more inquiries and help more guests, now that they are operating with even more limited staff - Remote Operations: Respond to guest inquiries remotely. Unlock offer → Offer terms: Extended free trial available until June 1, 2020 for new clients.  No CC required unless hotel is continuing after trial and cancel at any time, even after trial period, no penalties   LIFE HOUSE (HOTEL MANAGEMENT):  Life House is an VC-backed institutional management company that uses software & process innovation to increase low cost direct bookings & materially reduce the operating costs of a hotel, which is ever-more relevant with depressed revenues. To support owners who need help navigating these difficult times, Life House is offering waived management fees until 2021 and a complimentary management transition for independent hotel owners. Whether a 200-room luxury boutique hotel or a 25 room bed & breakfast, Life House's white-labeled management platform can help. Learn more about the offer →   ATOMIZE: You can now get Atomize Revenue Management Software, free of charge, up until you have realized 50% of your average occupancy. This offer comes with no setup fee, free training, and including support. This limited offer is valid until April 30. Learn more about Atomize →   TRUSTYOU'S TRAVEL HEALTH INDEX. Due to widespread limitations on travel, there is currently an unprecedented drop in hotel stays. To help hoteliers from all over the world to assess the global and regional situation, we are now introducing the Travel Health Index! This exclusive KPI is only available from the world's largest guest review database and it benchmarks current #review activity with the normal levels of 2019. Access it here and keep an eye on the Index for weekly updates.  Learn more about the Travel Health Index →   ALICE PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST. Hoteliers know how to run a property, but shutting one down is a different story.  That’s why ALICE created a free checklist tool within their software that hotels can use to keep their property safe and clean with a skeleton crew that is available for free to any and all hotels looking for help. A few reasons how ALICE will help your hotel during the crisis: - Preventative Maintenance: Understand what needs to be done to keep your property safe and clean with a skeleton crew to avoid property damage and maintenance issues during downtime. - Crisis mgmt: Hotels are not meant to operate at low occupancy, or with a lean staff, yet that is the trend for so many hotels right now. ALICE Checklist helps hotels take rooms, floor and whole buildings out of service, while maintaining a record of tasks to bring a hotel back up to full occupancy quickly and easily. Get the free toolkit → Offer terms: ALICE Checklist is available to any and all hotels that are using (or not using) the ALICE platform with no strings attached. It is a free product, there are no obligations, and it can be cancelled at any time.   REVINATE'S COVID RESOURCE CENTER. Revinate ran a survey and found that 70% of hotel professionals are looking for projections on how this unfolds, and 71% are looking for planning ideas. That’s exactly what this new site aims to provide.  This resource center will aim to be a centralized source of info and resources to help hoteliers in these uncertain times. Browse the resource center →   JONAS CHORUM PMS. Save on your PMS with 90-days free of Jonas Chorum for new clients. A few reasons how Jonas will help your hotel during the crisis: - Remote work: Cloud functionality, allowing hotels to remain connected and conduct business remotely, while also specializing in remote training to avoid any face-to-face contact. - Financial relief: Provide hotels with financial relief to help them ride out the storm. Learn more about Jonas Chorum → Offer terms: This particular offer is only for new clients and is only being offered for a limited time as we are essentially getting companies up and running on our software free of charge. We would also be willing to honor this offer for a period of time whenever the impact of the pandemic starts to lessen.    ALLIANTS GUEST MESSAGING. A few ways Alliants can help your hotel during the crisis: - Easily outbound message with impacted guests across all the key channels, including, WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, LINE, etc - Allow your teams to stay connected with guests, staff, and vendors while helping keep social distance. - No setup fees/onboarding costs - All training & installation can be done remotely. -Get your property up and running in less than 2 days. See Alliants in action → Offer terms: We are offering our Alliants Messaging platform at no charge till the end of 2020. You can cancel at any time. No credit card is required and we can have your property live in less than 2 days. Oaky Pre-Arrival Templates. Pre-arrival communication + translations templates to ensure effective communication so your guests feel safe. Get the templates →   RATEGAIN FREE STRATEGY SESSIONS. Complimentary, one-to-one session with RateGain experts. A few reasons how RateGain can help your hotel during the crisis: - access 200+ years of combined experience across all fields - Revenue Management, Distribution, Social Media and even HR - RateGain has its own data, both current and historical. As such we possess the knowledge and insights to guide our prospects in a way that no other can. Schedule a free session → Offer terms: We are running it for three weeks starting coming Monday. We are only doing it for our prospects i.e. companies which are not a customer of RateGain. We are doing it for our customers anyhow. This is a 100% free service. Basis the request we receive we can extend it for a longer duration as well.   Want to list your company's offer? Reach out to our editorial team via live chat   BEEKEEPER INTERNAL TEAM COMMUNICATION. How are you keeping your employees up-to-date on the coronavirus? Reach every employee across shifts, locations, and languages with one easy-to-use mobile-first communication app.  A few ways Beekeeper can help your hotel: - provide instant communication between all employees - allow for real-time updates on Coronavirus as it affects your company - Allow for shift schedules to be accessed away from the hotel Learn more about Beekeeper → Offer terms: This offer is available until June 2020 and is for new clients. Cancel anytime.   UMI DIGITAL’S FREE EXPERIENCE PRE-PAYMENTS TOOL. Simple pop-up website overlay to showcase closure messages while selling future experiences. Works with existing voucher systems via outbound links. Learn more about the offer → Offer terms: FREE set up for hotels on Wordpress and FREE license for 3 months during the pandemic. We have a simple proposal that requires acceptance but do not require payment details.   HELLOSHIFT MESSAGING & WEBSITE LIVECHAT. Hotels can use Guest Messaging and Website Chat to keep the line of communication open and accessible to all guests (and future guests.) With Staff Collaboration, hotels can keep running with smaller operational footprints and more staff working remotely. Use Covid-19 specific checklists, populate a knowledge base with Covid-19 specific information, and keep in communication with laid-off employees. Learn more about the offer → Offer terms: To help hotels deal with Covid-19, HelloShift is offering free service to all sign ups till July 1, 2020.   HOTELCHAMP DEMAND TRACKER. Demand Tracker shows you real time demand based on your website date searches. Conversion Rate (CVR) helps you to contextualise performance of different dates. Change of search behaviour keeps you informed of shifting demand. A few reasons how HotelChamp will help your hotel during the crisis: - understand demand in the current market is key to steer pricing decisions - see real time demand from your website for up to 365 days in the future - create alerts for changes in demand so you can proactively act on what is changing in the market Learn more about HotelChamp → Offer terms: New and existing clients. Completely free, no subscription to be set up. Automatically ends after 90 days.   ROOMPRICEGENIE AUTOMATED REVENUE MANAGEMENT: Fully automated dynamic pricing solution in place helps you know when business is coming back and help you react immediately. Continuously track how your market behaves and understand when business is coming back. Learn more about RoomPriceGenie → Offer terms: The offer is for new clients and it is valid until further notice (as long as the tough times last). After the regular trial period, clients need to sign up and will receive a 100% discount until they see business coming back. Our monthly cancellation policy stays the same - so they can cancel at any time.   AVVIO DIGITAL ACADEMY: With so many amazing hoteliers out of work Avvio is turning their time and resources to helping out with important skills development to help out during this period of downtime. Their Hotel Digital Academy is available for free registration and the first hotel digital marketing course will be starting next week. Hospitality will have to “do more with less” as the industry recovers and we think upskilling will be more important than ever as training budgets will inevitably suffer. If you know of anyone in our industry that you feel might benefit from this can I ask you to consider please sharing. Learn more about Avvio →   EXPERIENCE HOTEL EMAIL MARKETING. Hotels can get their Free access to our CRM's Emailing tool and send up to 3 custom Email campaigns to all their customers, valid for 3 months to keep guests informed as the situation evolves via email. Learn more about Experience Hotel → Offer terms: No cost, no commitment. In order to access this free service, they must register with a professional email corresponding to their hotel; a manual check of each account is made to avoid abuse.   SAVETHEHOTELS.COM BY BOOK VISIT. Last Friday we started a marketplace called savethehotels.com which is completely free of charge. The idea is to make it easy for consumers to see all the great deals the hotels are offering right now in order to survive.  Set up unique promotions that are easy for guests to book. Learn more about Book Visit → Offer terms: Right now we have the page as long as there is a need. We have no plans for this to be an OTA in the future. Right now we just want the hotels to survive otherwise we will also go down.   HOTEL RUNNER PULSE UPDATES CENTER. With HotelRunner Pulse, our goal is to support the travel industry using the ‘big data’ from the HotelRunner platform, which performs tens of millions of transactions per day, and to give our partners a snapshot of what is happening in the industry during these extremely challenging times. HotelRunner Pulse will be updated weekly, and you will be able to access detailed data from the previous week, data-points include travel agencies that bring the most bookings, confirmed and canceled booking volumes, average stay durations! Learn more about HotelRunner → Offer terms: Starting this week, through the special panel we developed, we are providing free access to real data based on bookings made through HotelRunner in the previous week.   MYSTAY EMAIL TEMPLATES. MyStay Freemium automates the way properties can inform guests about the situation in the region and hotel's health and safety protocol using pre-defined email templates and semi-automated rebooking. It also allows automating selling extra services to the fewer guests to come in the next months through pre-arrival communication, email templates covering COVID-19 related health and safety protocols, flexible rebooking or loyalty points policy.  Special guest web as a WiFi landing page with stay-related information focusing on COVID-19 related aspects. Learn more about MyStay → Offer terms: The offer and MyStay Freemium package is and will remain available forever unless canceled by the hotel. It is available to new clients, no contract or credit card required. The product is not going to disappear once the pandemic is over, hotels will be free to continue using it for free or choose to upgrade to any of the paid profiles.   HOTEL DIRECT BOOSTER WEBSITE LIVE CHAT. Livechat software for 1 month to keep contact and convert its visitors into direct bookings on the hotel's website.  Many hoteliers closed their hotels but they shouldn't close their direct bookings. Keep contact with website visitors during the pandemic on the hotel website and helps hoteliers prepare the resumption of bookings and support travelers. Learn more about HDB → Offer terms: 1 month free offer only for new clients.  Available until April 30th 2020. Non-binding offer.  No credit card required   GO MOMENT WEBSITE LIVE CHAT. Use Go Moment’s website live chat tool to inform potential hotel guests of the steps your hotel is taking to keep guests and staff safe, suggest rescheduling instead of canceling  and collect leads for future groups.  Learn more about Go Moment → Offer terms: Offer available through June 30th, 2020. After June 30th, rate will change to $250 per month.   BOOKBOOST UNIFIED INBOX & WEB MESSENGER. During this difficult time, we want to stand with the hotel industry. Our Unified Inbox and Web Messenger are now available for FREE to all hotels worldwide. Bookboost Unified Inbox enables you to manage all guest inquiries from your website, email, Facebook Messenger, in one inbox. Give clear and consistent COVID-19 communications and Save your team answering repetitive questions, improve efficiency and provide service day and night with chat automation. Learn more about Bookboost  

Everything You Need to Know About Hotel Revenue Management

by
Hotel Tech Report
12 hours ago

In this guide to all things revenue management, we’ll cover everything from the history of revenue management to the best revenue management software, career and education options, revenue management strategies and important terminology. Whether you're considering a career in hotel revenue management or have recently embarked on one, our guide sets you up with the foundation you need for a successful career in revenue management!   A Brief History of Hotel Revenue Management  Airlines were the first to understand the power of segmented pricing to yield more revenue than across-the-board pricing. It all started with American Airlines, who realized that there was more value to be unlocked by tiering pricing according to specific conditions, such as offering discounts to tickets that were booked more than 21 days in advance. It was about getting the highest “yield” by more efficiently and intelligently pricing its inventory. This concept was called yield management, a term coined by former chairman and CEO of American Airlines Robert Crandall, and became what Crandall called “the single most important technical development in transportation management since … deregulation.” Yield management is an inventory-centric approach that matches the right product in front of the ideal customer at the best price.  Both airlines and hotels have what's known as perishable inventory, or inventory that can’t be sold once a flight has taken off or the night has passed. But it wasn’t until the late 1980s when hotels caught on and larger brands began to experiment with yield management. Marriott was the first mover, adapting airline yield management strategies to the hotel business and seeing great returns, as Bill Marriott Jr., Chairman and CEO, Marriott International once said: “Revenue management has contributed millions to the bottom line, and it has educated our people to manage their business more effectively. When you focus on the bottom line, your company grows.” Once other hotel brands saw Marriott's success, yield management for hotels became a common practice across the industry. Hotels became more intentional about optimizing room revenues (pricing) and occupancy (bookings volume) through variable pricing strategies based on factors like demand, booking windows, and market conditions. Eventually, this evolved into a more comprehensive approach known as revenue management, which puts the consumer at the center of the equation. It’s based on the economic concept of “willingness to pay,” which is the maximum amount each consumer is willing to pay for any one unit, item, or service. Revenue management strives for better alignment between how a hotel room is priced and what a consumer will pay.  “Revenue management refers to a business practice designed to optimize the revenue potential of an asset through all market conditions.” -Revenue Matters And it’s more than just rooms: it’s also about maximizing a guest’s total spend on property. As we’ll see below, today's revenue managers must collaborate cross-functionally to implement a holistic strategy that delivers peak profitability rather than simply focusing on room revenue.   What is Revenue Management Today? A lot has changed since the first revenue management system was put into place in the late 1980s. Today's technologies are far more sophisticated, able to capture  and analyze massive datasets to deliver pricing recommendations in real-time. Given this complexity, today’s revenue managers are commercial leaders that bridge between marketing, sales and operations at your hotel. They act as the glue between departments to ensure that a hotel is getting the most it can from its asset across all market conditions, navigating an increasingly complex distribution landscape to optimize revenues. “Revenue management is selling the right room to the right client at the right moment at the right price on the right distribution channel with the best commission efficiency.” -Patrick Landman, Xotels In an ideal situation -- one that produces maximum revenue -- the hotel room is priced as close to that maximum amount as possible without setting too high of an expectation or sending prospective guests to a cheaper competitor. To determine the ideal price, revenue managers use an RMS (revenue management system) to analyze a hotel’s available supply, in-market and property-level demand, as well as a consumer’s price sensitivity and demographics such as business/leisure and loyalty/transient). Today's revenue managers need these four components to build the foundation for successful hotel revenue management: Compset: Competitors’ rates are also a critical input for setting the best rates, as those prices shape the consumer's perception of the “right price” for a given stay. Together, these inputs provide a valuable baseline for hoteliers to optimize rates.  Value analysis: A value analysis puts your property in context among your competitors by comparing its location, property amenities, bring quality and reviews against those of your compset. Once you can visualize value, you can better position your property in the eyes of potential guests. Rules and alerts: Technology empowers revenue managers with  automation. Most modern software allows you to set up rules and alerts to support your strategy in an automated fashion. These rules and alerts keep your strategy on track 24/7 and  make for a real-time responsive revenue management discipline. Routine and habits: Powerful routine and habits can be to unlock revenue management genius. Revenue managers with daily habits maintain visibility and control over their strategy and make tweaks on the fly to ensure alignment between property strategy and how your software functions.   Revenue Management Software and Solutions There are several categories of revenue management software that can power an optimal revenue strategy. Here's a look at some software you might want to consider for your hotel’s revenue management function. Revenue Management Systems (RMS): These all-in-one systems provide a comprehensive suite of tools to support your revenue management strategy. By bundling everything in one, RMS provides convenience and simplicity.  There's a single system to manage -- which streamlines daily operations, as well as training new staff. Key Vendors: IDeaS, Duetto, Atomize, Pace, BEONPRICE. Central Reservation Systems (CRS): The CRS centrally manages and distributes room inventory, rates and availability in real-time to both the hotel's website and third-party distribution channels (OTAs, GDS, metasearch). Key vendors: Pegasus, TravelClick iHotelier, Windsurfer, SynXis. Market Intelligence: Rate shoppers give you insights about how your local market is pricing their rooms. By keeping the pulse on competitors, you can use these insights to adjust your own pricing strategy within the context of wider market demand trends.   Key Vendors: OTA Insight (Rate Insight), TravelClick Demand360, SiteMinder (Prophet), RateShopper by RateGain, D-EDGE RateScreener. Parity Management:  When wholesalers distribute uncontracted inventory at lower rates onwards to OTAs, hotels may lose out on direct bookings.   so it's important to monitor how close your rates are aligned across channels. In today’s complex distribution landscape, maintaining parity is a constant battle for revenue managers. Key Vendors: OTA Insight (Parity Insight), TravelClick (Rate360), Rate Parity+ by RateGain, Triptease Parity Monitoring, Pegasus Rate Match. Channel Managers: The channel is a key part of an effective distribution strategy that prioritizes profitability. Proper channel management means balancing cost with access: to prioritize the lowest-cost channels while also ensuring that your inventory is available on the high-demand channels. Key Vendors: Cloudbeds (Myallocator), SiteMinder (Channel Manager), RateGain (RezGain Channel Manager), D-EDGE Smart Channel Manager. Business Intelligence:  Business intelligence software cuts across data silos to turn real-time trends and patterns into actionable insights. In combination with market intelligence, it gives revenue managers a complete data-backed toolkit for optimizing pricing strategy. Key vendors: HotelIQ, M3 (Insight), Scoreboard by Duetto, OTA Insight (Revenue Insight). Upselling Software: Upsells are a great way to boost revenue from existing reservations and play into the “total revenue” mindset of modern  revenue management. Upsell software makes it easy to implement upsells in guest communications. Key Vendors: Oaky and Nor1.   Jobs, Salaries and Opportunities for Revenue Management Professionals It's helpful to understand the various roles within revenue management, as well as their related salaries. It's also useful to understand the potential career paths and opportunities available to you as a revenue management professional. Common threads throughout each of these jobs are a data-driven mindset, a grasp of technology’s role in revenue management, and a collaborative approach to building bridges across departments. Here are relevant revenue management job titles, ranked by seniority, along with salary ranges pulled from Payscale and Glassdoor. Salaries can vary greatly depending on your location and work history, so consult Glassdoor, Payscale or another website to benchmark any offers you may receive! Revenue Analyst (sometimes a Yield Analyst): This position (usually more junior-level) is responsible primarily for analyzing historical data and demand forecasts through a financial lens to Make recommendations for improving revenue growth. Even though this role often uses software, it's exceptionally helpful to know your way around Excel! Many properties still rely on spreadsheets, so proficiency in traditional data analysis is a must. That's why many in this role have CPA credentials and a degree in finance or accounting. Most often promoted to Senior Analyst. [USD 40k-85k base salary plus potential bonus and profit sharing: Payscale | Glassdoor] Revenue Manager: A recent graduate or junior-level professional with a few years experience. Implements revenue management strategies and related processes to optimize revenue in a single hotel or across a portfolio. Scope includes  regular reporting, managing and expanding distribution partnerships, influencing across the organization, identifying new revenue opportunities, and optimizing processes and technologies for peak performance. Most often promoted to Senior Manager. [USD 40k - 75k base salary plus potential bonus: Payscale | Glassdoor] Cluster Revenue Manager/Area Revenue Manager: Larger portfolios will have  a revenue manager responsible for a cluster of hotels or hotels in a specific area. This person will do similar tasks as the revenue manager but expanded across a portfolio. This role requires strong collaboration and interpersonal skills to influence management in each individual hotel and align everyone with a shared revenue management strategy. Most often promoted to Senior Manager. [USD 50k-85k+ base salary plus potential bonus and profit sharing: Glassdoor] Director of Revenue Management: An experienced professional. Creates and implements revenue management strategy, often leading a small team of Revenue Managers. For smaller footprints, this role encompasses all revenue management tasks alongside the higher-level strategic role. The role can also encompass a cluster or single region. Most often promoted to Senior Director. [USD 70k-130k base salary plus potential bonus and profit sharing: Payscale | Glassdoor] VP of Revenue: Experienced and ambitious professionals often move up to the VP level in larger hotel brands. This role functions as an organizational cheerleader, developing relationships that keep revenue management at the Forefront of the organization. This person also manages revenue managers across a portfolio (and often geographies)  and must have nuanced people management skills to motivate those on the ground in different locations. There's also often lots of travel involved. [USD 91k-152k base salary plus potential bonus, profit sharing and stock: Glassdoor] Chief Revenue Officer (or Chief Commercial Officer): The zenith of a revenue management career could be as CRO/CCO. This prominent role leads sales and revenue management across an organization to deliver performance across a globally distributed team. It's an essential role that creates and drives strategy to meet or exceed revenue and profitability expectations. Sometimes this role reaches across an entire organization  or can be broken down by region, such as the Chief Revenue Management Officer, Americas. [USD 500k-800k+ base salary plus bonus and stock, based on public filings] A traditional revenue management career path would progress along the above list from top to bottom. As responsibilities increase, these roles have less defined edges. Top executives have more flexibility to craft roles ideally suited to their strengths  and different organizations have varying needs as far as which responsibilities top execs take on. Other potential career paths: Marketing: Since revenue management collaborates closely with marketing, those with strong data-driven digital marketing skills often make the jump over to the revenue management team (and vice versa). In many cases, having both a marketing and revenue management background provides a stellar foundation for entering into higher levels of management.  Operations: Those that also have experience on the operations side of the business are especially well-suited to moving up the ranks. That's because revenue management also requires buy-in from operations, as improved operational standards and service levels lead to better reviews, stickier loyalty, and higher rankings on OTAs. That’s a much easier path for more profitable distribution! Tech: There's also a well-worn path between hospitality revenue management and technology vendors.  with easily transferable skills, industry expertise, and a broad Network, revenue management professionals make great assets for hospitality technology vendors. If that's something that you are looking to do, be sure to nurture your network and develop the proper skills required for your target role.   Education Or Training Are Available For Revenue Managers  There's certainly a lot of powerful technology available to revenue managers. These tools can actually make it possible to learn on the job and, with enough dedication, to become relatively proficient at the job without formal training. Even so, revenue management is an analytical role with a foundation in statistics and math (and lots of Excel formulas!). For those looking to make this a career, it can be extremely helpful to have a formal degree that emphasizes your credentials --  especially if you're looking to go into a bigger global brand. There are also plenty of certifications that can boost your professional credibility without investing in a dedicated degree. Some options to consider: Dedicated degrees: For those just starting out in hospitality, it can make sense to invest in a dedicated degree. For those later in their careers, It may make more financial sense to pursue certifications, which we’ll cover below. The top three degree programs, covered below, offer not just top-notch education but also global alumni networks and helpful placement services to fast track your revenue management career:  Cornell: The School of Hotel Administration offers a 4-year undergraduate program in hotel administration, covering a core curriculum, electives (such as hospitality leadership and real estate), and 800 hours of real-world industry experience via the Statler Hotel, an on-site teaching hotel. Cornell also offers 2-year graduate degrees, Master of Management in Hospitality, Master in Real Estate and a Masters of Science, as well as a post-graduate PhD in hotel adminstration.  EHL: Based in Lausanne, the EHL is nearly always the number one or number two hospitality management school. EHL offers four degrees: a 4-year Bachelor in Hospitality, a 16-month Master in Hospitality (with courses spread across Switzerland, Hong Kong and the U.S.), an 11-month full-time Executive MBA in Hospitality, and an MBA in Hospitality that’s 80% online, 20% on-site in Switzerland.  EHL also has a new campus in Singapore that offers a bachelor’s degree with one semester in Switzerland, followed by an internship in a country of the student’s choice and then completing the degree on the Singapore campus.  UNLV:  Las Vegas is one of the world's premier hospitality destinations. There's a lot of situational value to be unlocked from  going to school in this environment. UNLV is also regularly recognized as one of the top hospitality schools in the world, due in part to its diversity of curriculum that includes casinos and gaming. For undergraduates, there’s the 4-year Bachelors in Hospitality Management, with concentrations in Gaming Management, Meetings and Events, PGA Golf Management Restaurant Management. For advanced degrees, there’s the 2-year Master of Science in Hotel Administration, the Executive Master of Hospitality Administration (with a focus in either hospitality or gaming), and a 2-year PhD program for hospitality management. For the ambitious post-graduates, there’s also a program to earn both an MBA and a Master of Science. Certifications: Continuing education doesn't necessarily require a full degree program. Many universities and organizations offer certifications and online learning that can help keep your skills sharp. A few to consider:  CRME: This is the formal Certified Revenue Management Executive certification from HSMAI, a global association of hospitality sales and marketing professionals. It's a widely recognized and trusted way to prove proficiency at revenue management. To be eligible for this degree, you must be an industry professional that can prove a certain level of expertise. Once approved, you’ll receive a study guide that covers the evolving dynamics of revenue management, which is the basis for an online exam that determines certification. The cost is $450 for HSMAI members and $625 for non-members.  CRM: Also by HSMAI, the Certificate in Revenue Management is a starter course for those just starting out in the field or current hotel staff considering a move into revenue. The online course covers the fundamentals of revenue management, from pricing strategy to forecasting, segmentation and business intelligence. The cost is $350 for HSMAI members and $500 for non-members.  Cornell: For those looking to take advantage of Cornell's reputation without having to take classes on site, there’s the Hotel Revenue Management certificate teaching the basics of revenue management and the certificate in Advanced Revenue Management covering segmentation, pricing decisions and revenue strategy. Both are two weeks and $3,600. For executives pursuing continued development, the university also offers a variety of other online-only certificates, ranging from leadership to F&B management, as well as three-day classroom programs. CHRM: The educational arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association offers a course to become a Certified Hospitality Revenue Manager. The digital course is for those with at least 6 months experience or an advanced degree, and requires passing a 125 multiple-choice question online exam on forecasting and planning, strategies and tactics, statistical analysis, e-commerce and online distribution. The cost is $300 for AHLA members and $375 for non-members. ESSEC via Coursera: You don't necessarily have to go to a physical school to get the certification. This Coursera specialization, taught by professors from ESSEC Business School And created in partnership with Snapshot and Duetto, takes up to four months to complete and includes modules on hotel demand management, distribution and revenue management, as well as a case study. Students can audit the class for free but must sign up for Coursera’s $49/month plan to earn the official certificate for placement on resumes and LinkedIn.   An Overview Of Revenue Management Strategies  Revenue managers use data from business and market intelligence tools to craft strategy and then leverage software to implement the best tactics and pull the pricing levers based on actual/forecast demand. Revenue management strategies are often blended depending on the properties priorities and current market conditions. No strategy is ever static; here are a few jumping off points for developing a property/brand-specific strategy. Yield management. As we saw earlier, hotel yield management is a strategy for pricing inventory according to demand in order to control profitability. As a subset of revenue management, it focuses exclusively on finding your hotel’s optimal balance of supply and demand for its rooms, or the point where prices perfectly match traveler demand. Proactive versus reactive. Proactive revenue management is seeking to be a market leader and leveraging historical data and future forecasts to proactively stay ahead of the competition. Whereas reactive revenue management is being a market follower and setting rates according to the competition. For instance, setting a rule to always undercut competition by 5% and using what's known as penetration pricing, or positioning your hotel as the cheapest in the market. Strategic versus tactical: Another way to look at proactive versus reactive is to think strategically versus tactical. Strategic revenue management proactively uses a sound revenue management strategy to shape all pricing and distribution decisions. Tactical revenue management is about reacting to changing market conditions with specific tactics, such as using discount pricing to boost occupancy by dropping rates or through automatic rules that adjust pricing based on specific events (competitor drops rates) or thresholds (forecasted occupancy dips below a certain percentage). Tactics generally cascade up to an overarching strategy. Open pricing. Traditional revenue management relied on static prices, using the Best Available Rate as a basis for discounts or premiums. It was fixed, inflexible and poorly optimized. Thanks to AI-enabled revenue management software, it's now possible to adjust pricing in real-time for specific segments and channels. This tech is also enabling personalized pricing, where offers are targeted down to the individual guest level. Segmentation is a key part of open pricing; revenue managers must have a thorough grasp on the nuances of their guest demographics and channel mix to fully leverage open pricing. Direct bookings. Most hotels are focused on a “direct is best” revenue strategy because hotels keep more of every booking that comes direct versus third-party. In addition to carefully managing the channel mix, as far as availability, rates, and inventory, other tactics for this strategy include encouraging positive reviews to build online reputation and WOMM, capturing more bookings direct by offering special packages or other incentives and using hotel software that optimizes marketing funnels. Channel-based. As software becomes more capable, it's much easier to create a channel by Channel revenue strategy that prioritises the lowest-cost channels and  limits inventory on channels that produce less-profitable bookings. There’s plenty of nuance here, but it's easier than ever to quickly open and close channels depending on changing demand forecasts.  A channel-based revenue management strategy is ideally suited to today's “total revenue” and “total profit” mindset.  Total revenue management. Last but not least is something that we've mentioned a few times: total revenue management is a strategy that optimizes all aspects of a hotel's operation for profitability. It combines collaboration across departments with data-driven insights to deliver results.   Consulting Services Available To Hotel Groups  There are two options for hotels looking for outside help with revenue management: a consulting firm or a freelancer. Much of the decision will come down to price. Also, look for specific experience in your hotel’s category, solid client testimonials, and a data-driven approach. While there has been a rise in capable revenue management professionals going freelance on a contract basis, larger hotel groups may prefer to engage the services of a bigger firm with larger staff and broader capabilities, such as branding, marketing, social media and PR . Of course, that usually comes at a higher cost!  Here are a few firms and freelancers to get your search started. Another great place to find recommendations is with dedicated hotel organizations, such as the AHLA and HSMAI, who keep lists of members in related revenue management fields. Firms: Revenue By Design: Based in the UK, Revenue by Design offers training programs, outsourced revenue management services, and revenue/distribution audits to hotel clients across categories and geographies. Xotels: As a boutique hotel consulting company, Xotels consults independent hotels on several areas of expertise, from operations to sales and marketing to revenue management, finance, pre-opening, and brand positioning. Revenue Matters: Led by Trevor Stuart-Hill, an HSMAI Top 25 mind in hospitality sales and marketing, Revenue Matters  helps clients build a holistic approach to optimizing Total Property performance, aligning across marketing, sales, and revenue. Engagements can be strategic or full-service revenue management support.  berner+becker: The firm optimizes existing revenue management strategies through extensive audits, as well as create custom revenue strategies that can either be implemented by clients or by the firm itself. Kalibri Labs: Founded by Cindy Estis Green, who previously founded a data mining consultancy sold to Pegasus, Kalibri Labs provides revenue management consultation to hotels worldwide. It also has a proprietary revenue strategy platform that uses data from 33,000 hotels to drive its analysis and recommendations. Revenue Acrobats: Silvia Canteralla began her revenue management career in 2004 at a major international chain. Her services range from total revenue management, including dynamic pricing and forecasting, to optimizing F&B, group, and catering revenues. HotelRevBaba: Sunil Singh has 10 years of revenue management experience. He provides revenue strategy and planning services, as well as strategic support across the entire hotel operation, from pre-opening plans to budgeting. kbb consulting: Kathryn Baker started her revenue management career at Westin, eventually  transitioning into roles at Starwood and Intrawest Corporation. Since 2007, she has consulted on revenue management strategy  across a broad client base, from small properties to full-service multi-unit resorts. RevMutu: Kammelh Kishorre Founded his consultancy in 2012 has over 15 years of experience in hospitality and revenue manager within India and internationally. His services include audits, training, digital marketing, revenue management and channel distribution.  RevUp: Robert Lewis Sudakow uses his background in revenue management, ecommerce, sales, distribution, and digital marketing across multiple markets to advise properties and luxury resort, urban, corporate, boutique, and conference center categories.   Key Revenue Management Terminology, Jargon and Benchmarks Revenue management can be a confusing area of the industry, with plenty of jargon. As you get started with your revenue management career, become familiar with these essential revenue management terms. We’ve also included some helpful industry benchmarks to provide a deeper foundation of understanding. The most common metrics used to measure hotel performance: Average Daily Rate (ADR) shows a hotel’s pricing trends over time. It's especially helpful when benchmarking price competitiveness and pricing trends against other hotels. Average length of stay (ALOS) is the average amount of days stay at the hotel during a particular period. Booking window, or how far in advance guests make bookings. Booking window acts as an anchor for making pricing decisions, as booking patterns  Cost of Acquisition shows you how much it costs to acquire a booking, such as paying a channel or travel agent’s fees and commissions. Occupancy rate shows the percentage of rooms filled in any given period. It's a measure of demand.  Revenue per available room (RevPAR) tracks how much room revenue is earned per available room in the hotel. It’s rooms revenue divided by rooms available. Recently, TRevPAR has gained popularity, as it divides a property’s total rooms and non-rooms revenue by rooms available to track “total revenue.” Other revenue management terminology: Allotment: Refers to any block of  pre-negotiated rooms purchased and held by a third party, such as an event organizer, wholesaler, operator, travel agent, or OTA. Best Available Rate: The base rate from which other segments are priced. Commissions: Amount paid to intermediary for each reservation made. Comp set: This is the competitive set of similar hotels that you benchmark against.  Days Before Arrival: Number of days before guest arrives. Displacement Analysis: Calculating the cost of accepting group bookings today compared with the loss of potential full-price bookings  at a later date. Fenced rate: Rate with specific limitations, such as no refunds or cancellations.  GDS: The Global Distribution Systems (Amadeus, Sabre, Travelport) connect travel buyers and suppliers in a centralized interface, charging access and per- transaction fees. Market share:  Percentage of local market your hotel has compared to the competition. Online Travel Agency (OTA): Digital-only travel seller, such as Expedia and Booking.com, that offers booking directly to Consumers and business travelers. Pace: Being “on pace” means that bookings are happening as expected and on track for meeting booking targets and/or demand forecasts for a particular date. Price Elasticity: How responsive demand for your hotel is based on changes in its price, as in does demand drop when prices increase? More on price elasticity in the hotel industry. Rate Parity: Strategy for maintaining the same rate across all channels; rates are the same, they are in “parity.”  Segment: A subset of either past guests for potential guests used for marketing purposes, often derived from a hotel’s CRM data or digital marketing campaigns. Shoulder Date/Season: Time in-between busy seasons or busy periods, such as weekdays or the fall/spring. Benchmarks/Statistics Customer acquisition costs: These benchmarks show how customer acquisition costs affect revenue performance. Recent data from Kalibri Labs Shows that hotels keep the following amounts of every dollar paid by a guest: 97.3% from property direct, 93.4% for brand.com bookings, 94.5% from group bookings and 83.4% from OTA bookings.  Impact of loyalty bookings: Loyalty continues to be a great source of business for hotels. In 2019, according to Kalibri Labs, total US loyalty contribution increased to 56.2%, which is up 17% since 2016, when book direct campaigns began. The power of reputation: Another Kalibri Labs data analysis found a correlation between review score and ADR: in 2019, properties with lower consumer review scores saw decreases in ADR. Channel mix: Each country has its own consumer preferences as far as where they book travel. To see the top revenue makers in different countries around the world in 2019, SiteMinder’s annual review breaks it down.  Cancellation rates: D-EDGE found a 40% cancellation rate in 2018, with Booking.com having the highest cancellation rate of OTAs: 50%. Another win for direct bookings, cancellations from a properties website where the lowest at 18.2%. We hope that this guide was useful as you embark on your path to becoming a rockstar revenue manager. We’ve got plenty of resources on our blog, which covers all aspects of hotel life, from operations to revenue management. Wherever you are in your career, you’ll want to stay on top of how the latest trends will impact our interconnected industry --  and what you need to do to maintain competitiveness in both the near and long-term.  

How to Think About Automation's Impact on Hospitality

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 days ago

Automation is everywhere: you've probably seen it on marketing brochures and been pitched on it by eager sales reps. And, if you're like other professionals that spend 40% of their time on administrative tasks, you recognize the value of having more time to grow the business rather than run the business. Even so, it's easy to get carried away with buzzy trends like automation, chatbots and artificial intelligence. We start automating things simply for automation’s sake -- or because we think we should or have been told by others that we should. Instead, we really should step back to think carefully about what should be automated and what shouldn't. Then, we can analyze the utility, probability and time it takes to automate those tasks. It’s surprising to find that sometimes it’s more costly and inefficient to automate than to simply do the task manually! Other times, we’re amazed at how long it took us to automate a tedious task! To deepen your understanding on making automation work for your hotel, here's how to think about automation and its impact on hospitality. From here on out, you'll know exactly when and where automation makes sense for your hotel --  and when it's just useless marketing fluff.   Defining Automation Automation refers to anything (a technology, process or procedure) that exists to reduce or eliminate inputs (human or otherwise) while maintaining (or improving) outputs; the technology, process or procedure operates independently and requires little additional intervention. In its broadest sense, automation performs tasks that used to be done by people. However, as artificial intelligence technology advances, automation also refers to autonomous decision-making to do things that humans were never able to, such as analyzing massive data sets and continuously improving forecasts, recommendations, and actions.   Types of Work: Routine vs. Non-routine & Cognitive vs. Manual There are four types of work: routine or non-routine and cognitive or manual. As we’ll see, jobs blend across both, so work can be routine cognitive, routine manual,  non-routine cognitive or non-routine manual. Routine vs. non-routine The first work division is between routine and non-routine tasks. Routine tasks are ones that are repetitive and stay the same, while non-routine tasks vary according to a job’s specific requirements. 1. Examples of routine tasks in hospitality: Refilling salt shakers Folding towels Printing comment cards Washing sheets Ordering blank key cards 2. Non-routine tasks include: Personalizing a welcome basket for a VIP Fielding a guest complaint Site selection for a new hotel Securing a local partnership Designing a table plan for a wedding Due to the unique nature of non-routine tasks, they are less likely to be automated than routine tasks. Although this is changing quickly. As automation reaches further into the workplace and artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated, even non-routine tasks are increasingly automated.   Cognitive vs. manual The other way to divide work is between cognitive and manual tasks. Cognitive tasks are those that rely mostly on our brains; they’re mental. Manual tasks are those we do with our bodies; they’re physical. Both need some level of training to do well, although manual tasks can generally be accomplished by any able-bodied person whereas cognitive tasks require some measure of further education. 3. Cognitive tasks in hospitality include: Scheduling staff Forecasting demand and setting rates Creating a pre-opening strategy Conducting performance reviews Doing the night audit 4. Examples of manual tasks in hospitality: Cleaning the shower Vacuuming the lobby Replacing the sheets Repairing the HVAC Creating a key card So which of these two types of tasks are more likely to be automated? In this case, cognitive tasks are much easier to automate than manual ones. That's because the manual tasks require an intimate understanding of physical space, with each task requiring a specific set of actions that are hard to replicate with a single machine. Also, manual tasks usually require hardware to automate whereas many cognitive tasks can be automated with software. For example, it's incredibly difficult to train a robot to change sheets --  although it's much more realistic to use a robot for a manual task with easily defined parameters, such as vacuuming the carpet.     Trends in Types of Work The Industrial Revolution was built on routine tasks, with each worker designated to complete a single task, over and over again. Many of those jobs were eventually taken over by robots programmed to accomplish a single task at speeds and precision far beyond a human's ability. Alongside the drastic reduction in factory workers, “nonroutine cognitive” jobs became the dominant type of work. At the same time, there was a steady rise in non-routine manual work, or jobs that were physical but not repetitive. In essence, automation has dramatically reduced the number of routine jobs, leaving mostly mindless jobs that pay little and intellectually-intense jobs that pay a lot. Why does this matter? For one, the future of work has a big impact on how hotels will operate in the future. It's also about setting the scene for the transformative impact that AI-driven automation will have on the remaining two types of work: the non-routine cognitive and non-routine manual. As computers surpass humans in capabilities, even those tasks are at risk of automation.     Case in Point: Google’s DeepMind AI Artificial intelligence is the final frontier of work. We’re training machines to do all of the types of work humans have traditionally done, which means that we will soon see machines doing both the non-routine cognitive and the non-routine manual work. These machines will be driven by what's called deep neural networks, which are basically virtual brains that give machines the ability to learn on their own, without training from humans. They just constantly learn and continuously improve...and yes, that means eventually becoming smarter than humans! Case in point: A computer overcame the consensus view that it would take 10 years to beat a human in Go, a famously complex game that's even harder than chess. There are so many different board positions in Go that Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings had to reach across parallel universes to explain the possibilities: “There are about 10¹⁷⁰ board positions in Go, and only 10⁸⁰ atoms in the universe. That means that if there were as many parallel universes as there are atoms in our universe (!), then the total number of atoms in all those universes combined would be close to the possibilities on a single Go board.” So how long did it take for the computer to defeat the human? Google's DeepMind artificial intelligence team built AlphaGo, which managed to defeat the world's best Go player, winning by 5 games to zero after a short period of training. The unexpected defeat marks the cusp of exponential technological change, where computers outpace humans in handling non-routing cognitive and manual work.  Computer performance will soon surpass humans.   Work is changing far faster than many realize: over the next 20 years, nearly half of jobs in America could be automated. This will likely be accelerated by the intense pressures on hospitality during the Covid-19 crisis; as hotels either close temporarily or manage with barebones staff, automation becomes a critical survival tool. Doing more with less is essential in a downturn, as well as when business eventually begins to pick up but isn’t yet able to support full staffing levels.Hotels must begin to seriously leverage automation and understand where and how to use it effectively.   Automation is Key to a Thriving Hospitality Industry The benefits of automation for hotels are many: increased productivity, lower costs, a better experience for both staff and guests, more accurate forecasts and more precise pricing decisions. Automation means hotels will run far leaner operations and do more with less. Here's how: Revenue management: It's only in recent years that Revenue management has been democratized. Previously, only the largest brands could afford full-time revenue managers to optimize strategy. Today, independent hotels previously don’t need full-time revenue managers, as they can leverage the data-driven decision-making of revenue management software, such as Pace, that automates many of the laborious and administrative pieces of revenue management while also working 24/7 to translate the latest property and market data into optimal rates and availability.  Housekeeping: Traditionally, housekeepers have relied on clipboards and paper to manage room assignments and prioritize work. This meant the department wasn't as responsive to real-time changes in guest flows. Thanks to automation, housekeeping software adjusts work assignments according to the latest business needs. It's seamless and requires no intervention, which allows the business to optimize itself as each shift unfolds. With the average hotel room clean costing between $10 and $16 this can dramatically improve efficiency and thus profitability. Guest messaging: Hotels  that want to communicate easily and quickly with guests must consider how to engage on mobile. One way to meet guests on their preferred channels is to automate communications via business texting. These texts not only put important information in the hands of guests (and boost satisfaction), but also provide upselling and other revenue- generating opportunities. For instance, guests messaging platforms can be customized to respond to specific triggers, such as personalizing a check-out survey or sending a mid-stay message. Your property (and its guest) benefit greatly from communication consistently applied. Upselling: Training the front desk to “make the ask” is a great way to build a sales culture that gets more upsells. Another tactic is to deploy automated upselling that drives more revenue opportunities throughout the guest journey. Automation eliminates the failpoint of forgetting to send a campaign or neglecting to manually upload the latest guest data from the PMS into the email marketing software. It's all about consistency and efficiency, so you’ll capture more revenue and grow your property’s total revenue per available room. Personalization is also at play here, as upselling software uses your data to dynamically create segments and match them with the most relevant offers. That means higher conversions --  and more revenue. Automation, when thoughtfully applied to a hotel operation, can unlock more revenue, increase guest satisfaction, boost staff productivity and happiness, and generally make an operation run more smoothly and profitably. As you look ahead to the future of work, automation can keep your property competitive and able to respond to the dynamic needs of these quite turbulent times.  

Using Maslow's Hierarchy to Understand Guest Needs

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Are you wondering how to connect with your guests? No, we’re not talking about interacting with them over social media. We’re talking about really connecting with guests, tapping into their needs and wants. If you want to build stronger guest loyalty and create the most positive experiences at your hotel, then you need to understand exactly what guests need, from their basic physiological needs up to their need for personal growth and fulfillment. In this article, we’ll explain how Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs can help you reveal what guests really want and walk you through some Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs examples in real life. And in doing so, you can start thinking about how you can tailor your hotel’s guest experience to truly deliver surprise and delighted through elevated hospitality experiences.   What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Before we dive in, you may be scratching your head and thinking “Maslow who?” If you took a psychology course in college, the concept might be familiar, but let’s start with a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs definition. In studying human behavior and what motivates people, Maslow proposed that there are five categories of “needs” that drive people forward: Physiological needs: food, water, shelter, sleep Safety needs: personal security, employment, money/resources Belonging and love needs: friends, family, sense of connection Esteem needs: esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence) and the desire for reputation or respect from others (status, prestige) Self-actualization needs: realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences Maslow also explained that these needs come in a certain order; people aren’t motivated by status or prestige, for example, if they don’t have food, water, and shelter. Once someone has satisfied their physiological, safety, and belonging needs, then they can focus on esteem and self-actualization.     But how does all of this relate to hotels? Let’s explore how you can satisfy each level of guest needs with services and amenities at your hotel.   Meeting hotel guests’ physiological needs As humans, our most basic needs are food, water, and shelter. Hotels, of course, provide shelter, and usually, food and beverage offerings too. So meeting this need seems pretty simple, right? In theory, yes, but many hotels still receive guest reviews that mention uncomfortable beds, loud noise, and problems with food and beverage service. While guests’ physiological needs might seem to be the easiest to satisfy, these are also the most important, because the physiological “boxes” must be checked before guests can achieve the rest of their needs. First and foremost, your hotel must ensure guests can get a good night’s sleep. Make each room a cozy, quiet oasis that’s conducive to rest with comfortable mattresses, clean sheets, soundproofing, and temperature control. Having hypoallergenic pillows and comforters available can also make a big difference for a guest with allergies. Once you’ve mastered the sleep piece, then make sure guests can always access food and water whenever the need arises. Consider adding in-room amenities like complimentary water bottles, a snack basket, a fruit bowl, or even a minibar stocked with handpicked, local items. Besides the in-room offerings, try to eliminate any friction that guests might encounter when ordering food or drinks. When your guest’s tummy is rumbling after a long day of travel, the last thing they want to do is wait on hold when trying to place a room service order, only to be told to expect a 45-minute delivery time. Technology solutions like SuitePad can streamline the ordering process, allowing guests to order room service or book restaurant reservations at the tap of a finger. If your property doesn’t have a restaurant on-site, consider selling snacks at the front desk or partnering with nearby eateries for delivery.   Helping hotel guests feel safe Once you’ve satisfied guests’ most basic needs, the next step is to provide the right security measures so they feel safe at your property. In addition to standard security features like electronic room keys and CCTV, make sure all of your employees uphold safety standards like requiring ID upon check-in, calling the guest before sending a visitor up to their room, and wearing name badges at all times. Your local safety code might seem like a no-brainer, but following your area’s building safety standards is another way to satisfy the need for safety and security. Next time the code inspector arrives, maybe you’ll remember reading about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and understand why their job is so important. Seemingly simple steps like clearly displaying emergency phone numbers and emergency exit procedures can help guests - especially international guests who might not know your local emergency number, for instance - feel safe at your property.   Creating a space for belonging and love needs When guests feel safe at your hotel, that’s when they can relax. Whether your guests stay at your hotel specifically to relax or if they’re just trying to chill out between high-energy meetings or events, you want to make sure your hotel can allow guests to achieve their belonging and love needs - and we’re not just talking about honeymooners here! Hotels can help guests satisfy this third tier of needs by selling rooms that are suitable for a variety of different guest profiles: families, couples, groups of friends, and even solo travelers. When you have different room configurations, everyone can find the room type that suits their needs, whether that be connecting rooms so kids and parents can have some privacy or bunk bed rooms so friends can stay up all night talking. In addition to your guestrooms, maximizing your public spaces for social interaction is another great way to make your hotel most suitable for “belonging.” New hotel concepts like Yotel and CitizenM have reinvented the traditional lobby as a hybrid of coworking and social space that invites guests to connect with each other, and some hotels offer events, classes, or guided tours that promote socialization. But above all, you can focus on forming emotional connections between guests and staff, which is one of the most powerful ways to help guests feel like they belong. Give your employees the power to surprise guests with gifts or celebrate a special occasion, and you’ll create a deep connection between your guests and your team.   Satisfying guests’ esteem needs Once you’ve met guests’ physiological, safety, and belonging needs, then you can move on to ego or status needs, which involve making the guest feel special and valued. If your hotel offers a loyalty program, then this idea will definitely ring a bell. Hotels can satisfy this fourth tier of needs by recognizing guests for return business during check-in, celebrating loyalty milestones with a welcome amenity, and even learning their preferences so each stay is hyper-personalized. Technology can be your friend here thanks to software like SuitePad that can track guest behavior and offer insights about guest preferences. If you learn that a certain guest always drinks a cappuccino with breakfast, for example, your server can proactively offer the guest a cappuccino when they enter the dining room. Recognizing and rewarding guest loyalty is just one way to help guests feel special. Your hotel can also provide special treatment for guests who book higher room categories, like with a dedicated check-in desk for suites. Also, if you learn that a guest is celebrating a special occasion, take that opportunity to send a bottle of sparkling wine to their room or offer a free dessert after dinner. Not only will these actions satisfy guests’ esteem needs, they also create a more positive experience, which can lead to repeat business and glowing guest reviews.   Fulfilling guests’ self-actualization needs The pinnacle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is self-actualization, which refers to achieving one’s life goals or meeting one’s full potential. For some people, self-actualization means being a great parent or creating an artistic masterpiece. But for others, travel is a life goal, and your hotel can help these people cross items off of their bucket list or plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip. One way to assist guests in achieving self-actualization is with concierge service. Guests often come to the concierge desk with remarkable requests, whether it be hiring a luxury sports car or arranging behind-the-scenes access to a museum. Encouraging concierges to satisfy these requests means your hotel can help people make their dreams become reality. Looking at hospitality through the lens of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can help you and your hotel understand the bigger picture of what guests want - and why they want it. Maslow’s Hierarchy can also add some structure to your operational practices and goals; for example, you need to ensure guests can get a good night’s sleep at your hotel before you invest time and money into an elaborate loyalty program. Understanding what guests really want - what motivates them - is the key to providing an exceptional guest experience, earning great reviews, and building guest loyalty.  

The Hotel Star Ratings System: Here's What You Need to Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Property owners are told they must live or die by their hotel star rating. The problem? Not all stars are created equal. Some customers refuse to stay in a hotel that’s less than five stars. Star ratings can impact purchase decisions instantly. Just one extra star communicates something about your brand’s quality, luxury, and customer service. But a four-star hotel in Europe offers a dramatically different experience than a four-star hotel in the US; and herein lies the problem for hoteliers seeking to appeal to discerning guests. How should you improve your star rating when there are so many different metrics, elements, and gradients that determine your review? There are some commonalities among hotel star rating systems that can help you narrow down where to focus your effort. Start with this guide to learn where you stand with stars – and how small changes at your property can have a big impact on your star rating.    Brief History and Background of the Five-Star System Given the inconsistency of the star system around the world, it may not be a surprise that the five-star rating system used in the US didn’t originate from a member of the hospitality world. The five-star system was created by Mobil, an oil and gas company. Mobil employees traveling the country to service their gas stations and extraction sites started using a five-star system to rate hotels and make travel guides. The five-star system spread quickly, but even today, it continues to be unregulated. You read that right: in the US, the hotel star rating system is based on popular opinion. However, European hotels use four stars, rather than the American five stars, to denote the quality of a hotel. To make matters more confusing, each country has its own methodology for regulating and defining hotel star ratings. “Consequently, three stars in England is not quite the same as three stars in Spain. Worse: three stars in Barcelona is not the same as three stars in Madrid or in Seville (each region of Spain adopts its own standards),” writes Travel + Leisure.   What Does Each Level of Hotel Stars Actually Mean? There’s no straightforward answer to defining each star rating explicitly. The US and other countries use completely different approaches to assigning stars; the problem is further compounded by each individual rating system’s definition of “quality.” That said, there are some general guidelines consumers and property managers should understand. First, hotel star systems measure the quality of property’s facilities: not the experience. This is critical for property managers to understand. As great as your front desk service may be, a cheerful greeting at check-in won’t change your star rating. Hotels with more stars have more facilities, such as large rooms, swimming pools, jacuzzis, and bathtubs. Each star rating will vary depending on who is doing the rating. Some countries are more prescriptive than others; likewise, different OTAs will have different criteria for what qualifies for a certain star rating. That said, there are some generalities that hotel owners can use to measure their relative position: One star: basic accommodation, small rooms; these properties do not guarantee ensuite bathrooms, 24-hour reception, or daily cleaning. Think hostels or backpacker motel rooms.  Two stars: often, two-star hotels are in old buildings that can’t be renovated. These properties are a step up from one-star spots in that they probably offer a 24-hour reception, cleaning, and a basic ensuite bathroom. Amenities are still limited, but you might get a continental breakfast and a room with a phone and TV.  Three stars: a typical hotel will have three stars and offer room service, ensuite bathrooms, daily cleaning, a desk or table, and Wifi. This is a standard hotel experience that most travelers expect unless they’re on a strict budget. Four stars: these hotels offer an on-site swimming pool, gym, bar/restaurant, or valet parking. They have nicer rooms and larger lobbies. Fast internet is standard.  Five stars: high-end, luxury hotels get five stars. There will be a nice bar and restaurant on-site, as well as a spa, gym, big bathrooms, and comfortable beds. Amenities and facilities take a starring role (no pun intended) in achieving a higher rating. But, it’s also important to recognize some of the nuances built into OTA star ratings and the differences between countries to best assess where to spend your budget.   Hotel Stars Mean Different Things Depending on Who You Ask Countries all have different approaches to how a hotel earns its star rating. Even within a country, ratings can vary by city or regional regulations. In France, the US, Germany, and the United Kingdom, how a hotel is classified is voluntary. France, for instance, allows private organizations to provide a star rating (authorized by Cofrac, the French Accreditation Committee). Other European countries, including Germany, use the HotelStars Union, which is a trade association for hotels and restaurants. The US uses AAA and Forbes Stars. But, in Italy, Spain, and Greece, the responsibility for providing a star rating falls to regional governments. Each region within Spain, for instance, will pass legislation that precisely describes the characteristics and minimum requirements each hotel must have to earn that level of stars. Public inspectors visit each property to make sure the hotel is complying with the rules assigned to each category.  Travelers are rarely cognizant of the difference between a star rating assigned by a government inspector, one by a trade organization, or one assigned by fellow travelers on an online travel agency. Even among OTAs, there’s a distinct difference in how stars are assigned. Here’s a good example of how star ratings differ by platform.    Rating ⭐ ⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Hotels.com Small to medium property, includes phone and TV in the bedroom, no room service.  2-4 stories high, convenient to public transportation, clean but basic, no restaurant onsite  More spacious rooms, decorated lobbies, medium-sized restaurants on-site; often include fitness centers or pools Large, formal hotels, well-lit rooms that are nicely decorated; offer continental breakfast; smart reception areas and room service High degree of personal service; “sumptuous” lobbies; concierge service, stylish rooms, elegant intimacy Expedia Basic, no-frills, minimal facilities, small and functional  Value, clean, basic, daily housekeeping Quality, style, comfort, personalized service, better quality bedding, larger bathrooms Upscale decor, superior amenities such as turndown service and concierge Gourmet dining, luxury spa, polished service, upgraded check-in, elegant decor Michelin* n/a n/a High-quality Excellent Exceptional Forbes** n/a n/a “Recommended” properties by Forbes are those with “consistently good service and facilities”  Exceptional properties with high-quality service and facilities Outstanding, iconic properties with flawless service and amazing facilities AAA*** Essential, no-frills, budget-minded Modest in overall physical attributes, design elements, and amenities Distinguished style, upgraded quality of amenities and comfort  Upscale in all areas; refined and stylish, with a high degree of hospitality, service, and attention to detail  The ultimate in luxury and sophistication; extraordinary in every manner. *Michelin previously served as a reliable benchmark for discerning travelers, but the brand has since narrowed its focus to restaurants and bars. Their infamous three-star rating system is now managed by a partner called Tablet. **Forbes offers a subscription-based guide that grew directly from the original Mobil travel ratings. The team uses a checklist of 800 items to determine its star rating; they mostly focus on four and five-star properties, meaning they seek to verify luxury rather than to provide an objective review. ***AAA doesn’t limit their ratings to upscale properties, but they do use a 33-point checklist, similar to Forbes’ approach. Pre-approved properties are evaluated based on member feedback and full-time, professional evaluators. Instead of using stars, AAA rewards “diamonds”; a three-diamond property must offer televisions in every room and a swimming pool, for instance.    Clearly, each platform factors different elements into their rating system. Some include guest experience metrics, such as customer service (Hotels.com) while others stay focused on amenities (Expedia). A strategy that tries to earn your property five stars on one platform may still have you falling short on another.   Tech Won’t Earn Your Hotel Stars But It Certainly Helps Bottom line? Focus on providing great amenities, awesome customer service, and keeping your property up-to-date. Technology can’t directly earn you more stars from a rating agency, but it can impact your guest experience – and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Implementing a keyless entry solution, such as the popular ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions Keyless Entry, demonstrates that you’re willing to invest in service and create a better experience. Case in point: Four Seasons Boston. The new property at One Dalton Street is a modern, 61-story skyscraper that features ASSA ABLOY custom-designed VingCard Essence door locks alongside VingCard Signature RFID locks. Details matter at this five-star property: the sleek, state-of-the-art security and access system matches the building’s design. With all electronic components encased within the door itself and only a sleek RFID/BLE reader visible to guests, VingCard Essence can circumvent the unmistakably commercial and bulky appearance of traditional hospitality-based door locks. Details like VingCard aren’t just fashionable – ASSA ABLOY keyless entry is also functional. VingCard Essence is equipped with the highest standard in security encryption protocols to protect against the risk of unauthorized access. VingCard Essence locks can be configured for mobile access, meaning that a hotel can elect to allow guests to unlock their room with a personal device – without the need to replace existing hardware. Likewise, the VingCard Essence can be configured to access guest room thermostats, helping achieve energy management goals by allowing your property to adjust temperatures when needed. Review experts are guests as much as they are critics. They are influenced by technology and personal details as much as any other guests; smart hotel tech can indirectly impact star ratings when deployed thoughtfully and strategically.  

3 Examples of SMART Goals in the Hospitality Industry

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

Some goals are so squishy and ill-defined that they are effectively meaningless -- and often raise more questions than answers. SMART Goals are the cure to these unfocused strategies.  We’ve all had bosses setup goals that are impossible to reach because they’re so vague: ‘do right by the guest.’ (How? What’s “right?”). Be the best hotel in Miami (How? For which guest segment? Compared to whom?). Drive more revenue. (How? How much?) Ill-defined goals are also hard to measure, making them perfect shields for laziness, incompetence, and/or a general lack of accountability. Vague and general ideas can be powerful when applied to your company’s mission statement as guiding rules but when it comes to goal setting - they can kill your business. One strategy to build actionable goals that successfully motivate staff to make measurable progress is with SMART goals. Here's what you need to know about using SMART goals in hospitality, from creating the goals to some SMART goals examples in hospitality that illustrate how effective they can be. Once you experience the impact that planning SMART can have on your hotel’s productivity and success, you’ll wonder how you ever did without!   What are SMART Goals? The concept of SMART goals was introduced in 1981 by George T. Doran, a consultant and former corporate planner, in a paper called “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.” Doran’s thesis was that achieving success requires goals to be clear and attainable, with enough specificity and measurement to actually track progress. A SMART goal is: Specific. Goals must be as specific and focused; never vague or derivative. To get precise, follow a Six Sigma principle and answer the “6 Ws:” Who needs to be involved in this goal? What are you trying to accomplish?  When does this goal need to be accomplished? Where does this goal apply? Especially useful if this is related to a time-bound event or a particular department/promotion/campaign/season. Which are the essential skills needed to achieve this goal as well as any obstacles to overcome? Why is this goal important?  Measurable. You've got to be able to accurately measure performance so you know unequivocally whether or not you’ve completed the goal. Achievable. Goals should be challenging but never out of reach. If a goal isn’t realistically attainable, then it may be discouraging and bad for morale. You should have enough levers/tactics to take action and realistically achieve the goal Relevant. Goals should never be a distraction from your property’s overarching objectives. If a particular goal is irrelevant to current priorities, it will not only fail to influence outcomes but it will struggle with ownership and adoption team-wide. Time-bound. For the greatest chance of success, goals must be bound by a specific timeframe. Otherwise, goals can limp on forever, without a defined end -- and thus no way to evaluate performance. SMART goals have a magical way of focusing your efforts by eliminating distractions and unproductive tangents. With a SMART goal, it's much easier to know what's working in service of your business and what's not.   How to Write SMART (Goals) Now that you know all about SMART goals, let’s talk about execution. Taking the SMART approach to goal planning requires a new way of thinking about how to write goals. The defining feature of writing SMART is in the preparation: it all starts with questions. The answers will shape your goals, so you want to ask yourself and your team members as many questions as it takes to get to specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely goals. These questions should be approached with a positive attitude; there are no right answers and the point is simply to get closer to actionable goals that unite teams and deliver results. For each goal, start by writing down your initial goal. Then, methodically go through each part of the S.M.A.R.T acronym to further refine your goal. Finally, review your initial goal and adjust based on the results of each section to come up with your final SMART goal. Specific: What specifically do you want to achieve? Who needs to be included to make this happen? Who is ultimately responsible for achieving the goal? What steps will you take to achieve it? Measurable: How will you know when you have successfully accomplished the goal? Achievable: Given current budget and staffing, can your team realistically achieve this goal? Which tactics will you use to achieve the goal?  Relevant: Why now? How does this go help us achieve our broader business objectives? Time-bound: What's the timeframe and is it realistic to accomplish this goal in that time?   A few other guidelines to write SMART: Align individual, departmental and property goals. If goals are at odds with each other, there will be conflict between competing priorities. Be sure that goals align across the entire operation to keep everyone moving together in the same direction towards the same overarching business objectives. Stay focused. Distractions are the enemy of SMART. The point is to focus your energy around achievable goals, so if you find focus drifting from your core objectives then your goals are still too broad.  Begin with the end in mind. Popularized by Stephen Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this mindset is a critical part of writing SMART. Before diving into the writing phase, look ahead at your outcomes and work backwards. Clarity around what you want to achieve will focus your attention on only what matters most.  Decision driver. Each goal should provide clarity and focus by helping staff decide whether or not to pursue a project. All they have to do is ask themselves whether or not a potential project, tool, initiative or campaign contributes to a relevant SMART goal. If it does, then it should be considered and if it doesn't then there's no reason to continue consideration. Set regular check-ins. Don’t just write your goals down and return to them at the end of each quarter. To track progress, set regular check-ins with relevant stakeholders and adjust your approach on the fly as needed. Then you can celebrate wins and keep everything on track. You also may want to consider creating team and individual goals. That way, individual team members understand the larger goals and their role in achieving them. This increases ownership and engagement by motivating staff towards a common purpose -- and keeps everyone moving in the same direction.    SMART Goals: Examples in the Hotel Industry Before we look at a few SMART goals examples in hospitality, let’s define what’s not SMART. Avoid goals that are: Too general: “Surprise and delight guests” doesn’t give staff clarity. Immeasurable: “Streamline operations” doesn’t provide a means of measurement. Not actionable: “Improve the guest experience” doesn’t provide   Irrelevant: “Be better stewards in the community” is not necessarily directly relevant to your core business. Not time bound: “Be the best hotel in our market” doesn’t set a timeframe for measuring progress towards the goal. The pitfalls of murky, ill-defined goals are many: they confuse employees; they can cause tension because team members working against each other; lack of accountability; too broad that people don’t know where to start and become paralyzed, which ultimately leads to doing nothing; dilute your brand proposition in the eyes of employees; makes management look “out of touch” and thus reduces trust. In these ways, poor planning can actually be more detrimental to a hotel’s operations than no planning at all! SMART GOAL EXAMPLE #1: Increase % of direct bookings by 10% in Q2 Instead of “be less reliant on OTAs,” a SMART goal would specify a measurable outcome that achieves the overarching goal of becoming less reliant on OTAs. Specific: In addition to the specific goal, you want to further refine the goal by defining the specific tactics required to achieve the goal, as well as who will need to be involved to implement those tactics. Answer questions like: What needs to be accomplished?  Who is responsible for it?  What steps will you take to achieve it? Measurable: There's a clear target of a 10% increase in direct bookings. Achievable: The goal is attainable because there are many ways to influence success:  Improve rate parity with OTAs with a rate shopping tool. Adjust availability on OTAs through your channel manager. Renegotiate contracts with OTAs to get better terms. Optimize your hotel’s booking engine for conversion with a leading provider like Bookassist Spend more on digital marketing (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Google, Tripadvisor, Kayak) to acquire direct traffic. Use CRM and email marketing to capture business from loyal guests. Implement direct booking tools that allow you to personalize the booking experience for stronger conversions.  Relevant: This goal could align with an overall objective to reduce commission costs and improve profitability. It could also be relevant in the broader context of rising commissions from third parties. Time-bound: It's limited to a single quarter so performance can be measured by comparing direct booking  percentage at the start of the quarter to the end of the quarter.   SMART GOAL EXAMPLE #2: Grow average non-rooms revenue per guest by $37 by end of Q4 Rather than an ill-defined objective of “increase guests’ on-property spending,” this goal specifies an exact amount of guest spending increase. Specific: In addition to the specific goal, you want to further refine by answering key questions like: What needs to be accomplished? Who is responsible for it? What steps will you take to achieve it? Measurable: There's a target of increasing guest revenue of $37 per guest. Achievable: The goal is attainable, with clear tactics to drive success: Add guest messaging software or upsell tool Sell more room packages and bundled offers Improve the F&B offerings on property Retrain staff at on-property outlets to upsell verbally. Incentivize front desk staff to sell more packages at check-in Relevant: The goal may align with broader objectives to increase overall revenues, to better leverage on site amenities, and/or to improve profitability per guest. Time-bound: The goal is set to be achieved by the end of Q4, giving everyone a target time frame to achieve the goal.   SMART GOAL EXAMPLE #3: Increase website conversion rate by 25% in Q2 Specific: You want to further refine the goal by defining the specific tactics required to achieve the goal, as well as who will need to be involved to implement those tactics. Be clear about: What needs to be accomplished Who is responsible for the goal What steps will you take to achieve the goal Measurable: Success measured by increase in website conversion rate Achievable: The goal can be achieved by trying different tactics: Build a new website for your hotel Add a chatbot to your website Get a faster and more mobile-friendly hotel booking engine Build conversion-optimized direct booking campaigns with a digital marketing agency such as Bookassist Relevant: The goal aligns with broader property objectives to increase direct bookings, provide a better guest experience, and/or upsell more packages and room upgrades on the website. Time-bound: Progress will be measured over a single quarter.   Here are a few more examples of SMART goals for hotels to get your creative juices flowing: Grow mobile revenue by 60% (Chateau Golf & SPA d’Augerville) Increase direct bookings by 150% (Ambassador Hotel) Increase average order value by 43% (Hotel Teatro Pace) Increase metasearch reservations by 40% (The K Boutique Hotel) As you fine-tune your goals, maintain a positive attitude, motivate staff with specific goals oriented toward 1-2 property-wide objectives, and share progress so everyone can have visibility into performance and ownership of results. With SMART goals, your team can move more quickly and be much more successful at achieving desired outcomes.  

Hotel Housekeeping Duties: A Day in the Life

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Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

Do you want to jump into an exciting new career? Or brush up on your hotel operations knowledge? The housekeeping department is a crucial part of the hotel business, but you may be wondering how exactly it functions. Housekeeping staff perform essential tasks to keep the hotel running smoothly, and a housekeeping job can be a great launchpad for a successful and fulfilling career in hotel management. In this article, we’ll define which roles you can find on a hotel’s housekeeping team, explore hotel housekeeping duties (including the duties and responsibilities of a housekeeping attendant), and offer tips for finding a job in the housekeeping department. By the end of this article, you might be inspired to consider a career in the housekeeping track - but you’ll definitely feel more appreciative of the hardworking people who make each hotel stay a pleasant one.   What positions are in a hotel housekeeping department? Housekeeping teams can vary greatly depending on the size of the hotel. Small boutique hotels may have just a handful of room attendants, while giant resorts can have hundreds of housekeeping team members. The enormous MGM Grand in Las Vegas has nearly 400 room attendants working on a given day! But room attendants are just one part of the housekeeping department. The entire team can include several sub-departments, each with different responsibilities and areas of expertise. Leadership roles: In very small hotels, the room attendants might report directly to the front desk manager or the general manager, but most hotels have a leadership role within the housekeeping team. In medium-sized hotels, this role could be a Housekeeping Manager or an Executive Housekeeper, and in large hotels, there might be a Director of Housekeeping who is supported by an Assistant Director of Housekeeping, a Housekeeping Manager, or an Executive Housekeeper. The head of housekeeping is responsible for scheduling staff, managing expenses, and ensuring all rooms and public areas meet the hotel’s standards of cleanliness. Rooms: All hotels have guestrooms, so all hotels have room attendants that are responsible for cleaning rooms during and after reservations. In some hotels, floor supervisors might oversee the room attendants on each floor and perform quality control checks. Public areas: Just like guestrooms, a hotel’s public areas also need to be kept clean. Public area attendants keep the lobby, meeting spaces, restaurants, bars, offices, and any other public areas neat and tidy. Laundry: All those sheets and towels need to be cleaned somehow! Some hotels send their laundry out to an off-site laundry service, but many hotels have on-site laundry rooms. Laundry attendants are responsible for cleaning, drying, and pressing all of the hotel’s linens, towels, and uniforms. Many hotels also offer valet laundry for guest clothing, so specialized laundry staff handle those items. Some hotels also have on-site tailors and upholsterers to fix or alter uniforms, furniture, and guest clothing items. Linen room: After the sheets and towels have been washed and dried, linen attendants organize them in the linen room and distribute them to various departments in the hotel. Other roles: Some hotels have a dedicated phone operator for the housekeeping department, who answers calls from guests and other hotel departments and forwards the request to the appropriate housekeeping team member. Some hotels also have minibar attendants, who are responsible for restocking and billing minibar items, as well as housemen, who bring housekeeping items to guestrooms upon request, such as additional pillows or towels.     The housekeeping department works closely with other hotel departments too. The front desk communicates with housekeeping constantly, working to coordinate check-ins and check-outs, and following through with guest requests. Housekeeping staff partner with the engineering department to resolve maintenance issues and fix broken items, and even the food and beverage department works with housekeeping to ensure linens are pressed and dining spaces are clean.   Daily tasks for the hotel housekeeping department There’s never a dull moment in a hotel’s housekeeping department! The entire team works together to make the hotel shine - literally - so that guests can have the best possible experience. With so many moving parts, strong housekeeping departments utilize housekeeping technology, like Optii Solutions, to streamline communication within the department, reduce errors, prevent communication lapses, and improve overall efficiency. Communication can be challenging for a big team that often works in different areas of the hotel, so housekeeping-specific systems can make communication between the room attendants, public area attendants, laundry staff, and management team easier. But what does each member of the housekeeping department actually do each day? Housekeeping manager duties The housekeeping manager’s role is to organize the housekeeping department’s operations. He or she is usually the main point person for the housekeeping department when communicating with other departments, like in emails or meetings. The housekeeping manager sets the department’s schedule and holds the team accountable for upholding the hotel’s service standards. A housekeeping manager’s daily tasks include: Gathering arrivals and departures reports Scheduling housekeeping staff for the week or two ahead Working with the front desk to arrange special requests or welcome amenities Attending hotel leadership meetings Holding pre-shift team meetings Responding to guest requests Resolving guest service issues related to housekeeping Leveraging technology to communicate with other departments and track task completion Managing department expenses, like supply costs and payroll Room attendant duties A room attendant has one of the most important jobs in the entire hotel. If a guest’s room isn’t clean when they arrive or if essentials aren’t restocked mid-stay, then the guest can have a negative impression of the hotel. They might never stay at the hotel again, and they might write a bad review of the hotel online. On the other hand, if a room attendant goes above and beyond to provide quick service and attention to detail, the guest could have a very positive experience that inspires them to return again and again. Room attendants have a lot of responsibility and can make or break the guest’s experience. Room attendants usually work in shifts of 8 hours, during which they may clean as many as 16 guestrooms. Many hotels offer housekeeping service only once per day, so room attendants would work one daytime shift (usually 8am to 4pm, approximately), while high-end hotels that offer evening turndown service would have a second shift of housekeeping staff who work afternoon and evening hours. Some hotels also might offer 24-hour housekeeping service, so a few room attendants may work overnight shifts. Duties and responsibilities of housekeeping attendant include: Cleaning guestrooms mid-stay and after departure Making beds Replacing dirty linens and towels Restocking guestroom amenities like toiletries, drinking glasses, and notepads Removing garbage, recycling, and room service trays Picking up and returning valet laundry items Organizing and stocking housekeeping carts Notifying the maintenance department about broken appliances, old light bulbs, or damage Upholding the hotel’s confidentiality and security standards Respecting “do not disturb” signs and the guest’s privacy Public area attendant duties Like room attendants, public area attendants have a big impact on a guest’s impression of the hotel. Nobody wants to see overflowing garbage cans, dusty lobby furniture, or dirty carpets in the hallways when they stay at a hotel, so a public area attendant’s job is instrumental in creating a positive guest experience. Some public area attendants work daytime shifts, while others work evening or overnight shifts to clean high-traffic areas, like lobbies, when guests aren’t using them. A public area attendant’s daily tasks include: Cleaning public spaces like lobbies, restaurants, and meeting rooms Cleaning back-of-house areas like office and employee changing rooms Cleaning stairways, hallways, and elevators Emptying garbage cans in public areas Reporting broken items to the maintenance department Laundry/linen room attendant duties Though most laundry or linen room attendants don’t interact directly with guests, their work is crucial to the hotel’s overall operations. Without clean sheets and towels, room attendants can’t do their jobs and guests will want to stay elsewhere. Daily tasks of laundry staff or linen room staff include: Sorting, washing, drying, folding, ironing, and organizing all hotel laundry, which can include towels, sheets, bathrobes, napkins, tablecloths, uniforms, and more Removing linen that has stains or holes Operating washing and drying machines Mixing and measuring soaps, detergents, and cleaning products Handling guest valet laundry and dry cleaning within the agreed upon timeframe   Skills and requirements for a hotel housekeeping employee While hotel housekeeping duties are very important - and a career in the housekeeping department can be rewarding - the work is often challenging. Housekeeping staff need a variety of skills, a passion for service, and a high level of dedication to be successful in their roles. Housekeeping employees, especially room attendants, need to be able to perform various physical activities, which can be strenuous: Push/pull a housekeeping cart Stand, walk, or kneel for an extended period of time Lift or move heavy objects, like mattresses or chairs Use hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills Besides the physical requirements, housekeeping staff must have a strong work ethic and many soft skills, including: Attention to detail Guest-forward thinking Teamwork and collaboration Organizational skills and time management Listening skills Honesty and integrity High energy levels If you’ve never worked in a housekeeping department, that’s okay! Most staff members get on-the-job training for the specific housekeeping skills needed for their role, like how to make a bed and how to operate the laundry machines.   Finding a job in the housekeeping department Are you interested in working in a hotel housekeeping department? You’re in luck! Hotels are always searching for good housekeeping employees. Most hotels post their housekeeping job openings online, so you can easily search for open roles and apply online. You will be able to find job posting on individual hotel website or on popular job boards, like Indeed. In addition to applying online, you can go to a hotel and apply in person. Most large hotels have human resources departments that accept in-person job applications. Once you’ve applied (online or in person), you’ll likely need to have an interview with the hotel’s human resources department, the housekeeping manager, and maybe even the general manager, depending on the size and quality of the hotel. The housekeeping department is an essential part of hotel operations, and the hardworking staff who perform hotel housekeeping duties contribute greatly to the overall guest experience. But the staff can’t do it all alone; technology partners like Optii Solutions can help the housekeeping department run more efficiently, reduce communication gaps, and handle guest requests. Optii’s analytical features can even help housekeeping departments decrease costs and improve performance by revealing trends and areas of opportunity. With the right tools and a strong team, the housekeeping department can do their part to ensure every guest’s experience is a good one.  

What Can Hotels Learn From the Retail Industry?

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

Even in the age of eCommerce the retail industry is thriving and innovating. Think about the last time you went shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store. Maybe you were wowed by the brand’s focus on sustainability or your interest was piqued by an ad for an in-store event. Maybe you even interacted with the brand on social media before or after you made your purchase. In the last few years, retail brands have faced fiercer competition as many consumers shift to online shopping, especially via marketplaces like Amazon which charge hefty commissions. Sound familiar? Perhaps your hotel is under pressure too - from short-term rental competitors, OTAs, and guest review sites. If your hotel wants to add some creativity to your marketing campaigns, reach new guests, and book more rooms, let’s look to the retail industry from some inspiration. Comparing the retail industry to the hotel industry might not seem like the most logical pair at first, but as we dig into the intricacies of these two customer-focused verticals, the overlap becomes more clear. In fact, the line between retail and hospitality is blurring as brands like Parachute Mattress, Restoration Hardware, and even Taco Bell are opening hotels of their own. So how does the retail industry find success in today’s ever-changing marketplace? Let’s dig into five best practices.   Focus on direct-to-consumer strategies Years ago, if you needed a new pair of jeans or a new washing machine, you would go to your reliable local department store. Department stores made sense back then, since smaller, specialized brands might not have had the marketing power to reach consumers directly. Fast forward to today, when the internet makes it possible for customers to follow brands on Instagram, retailers don’t necessarily need department stores - or any marketplace, for that matter - to sell their products. While some brands do rely on marketplaces like Amazon, others find success with no middleman whatsoever. If you’re a hotelier who’s trying to reduce your hotel’s dependence on OTAs and drive direct bookings, you can look to retail brands like Glossier as masters of the direct-to-consumer business. Glossier, a cosmetics company, only sells their products online, and, just recently, through a handful of their own boutiques. The company doesn’t distribute via Amazon, Sephora, or any department stores. Because selling directly to the consumer allows Glossier to have full control over the purchase experience, they can build a stronger relationship with their customers, and, as a result, Glossier built such a cult following that it opened its first brick-and-mortar storefront in 2018. In their stores and online, Glossier solicits feedback from customers and integrates that feedback into new products and improvements to current products. Their website is user-friendly, and loyal customers often receive freebies or access to special sales. Rather than trying to build a distribution network, Glossier invests in its direct relationship with customers and reaps the benefits of customer loyalty.   Add personality to your social media channels Those department stores of the past didn’t need to have a catchy personality because consumers had much less choice then. Today brands need to have a distinct brand persona in order to stand out in a crowded marketplace - especially online. One way for customers to get acquainted with brands is via social media, and some do a great job of conveying their personality online, like Casper, Warby Parker, and Charmin. These brands, which sell mattresses, eyeglasses, and toilet paper, prove that you don’t need to sell the most exciting product to cultivate a personality that consumers love. Casper is known for its playful social media posts that often include kids and pets snuggling on one of their mattresses.     Warby Parker is another brand that started online with no physical stores, but has since expanded to include brick-and-mortar shops around the country. Their social media personality is down-to-earth and lighthearted, and they often incorporate their employees in photos and videos. The brand recently posted a video showing employees reading funny misspellings of “Warby Parker” which come up in Google searches.       And Charmin, a longtime toilet paper company, has gained social media fans with its signature potty humor.     Emphasize sustainability Though it might seem counterintuitive for a retail company to encourage people to consume less, many brands understand that today’s consumer wants to support sustainable business practices. Consumers are shifting their preferences toward sustainable products, from food to cleaning products to clothing, and sales of products labeled as “sustainable” grew nearly 30% between 2013 and 2019. This trend is creating entirely new business models and encouraging retailers to use sustainable materials, especially in the clothing industry. While the environmental consequences of “fast fashion” make headlines, Rent the Runway is in the news for an entirely different reason - its sustainable business practices. This clothing rental service lets consumers rent high-end apparel that they wear and ship back to the company to be dry cleaned and shipped off to the next renter. Rent the Runway’s success highlights the opportunity for environmentally friendly fashion businesses, as the company reached a $1B valuation in late 2019. But retailers don’t need to create entirely new business models to be green. Allbirds, a New Zealand-based shoe company, uses a combination of merino wool, eucalyptus fibers, and recycled plastics in its footwear. This brand started from humble roots in 2014 and hit a $1.4B valuation in 2018. Hotels have been conscious about sustainability for years, but asking guests to reuse their towels for an extra day just doesn’t cut it anymore. Today’s guests expect bigger strides when it comes to reducing environmental impact. In addition to replacing tiny shampoo bottles with eco-friendly dispensers, hotels with retail outlets or sundry shops can use software like Impulsify to understand exactly what guests are buying so they can reduce waste and sell more efficiently.   Turn regular public space into creative event space Stores, like hotels, often have beautiful physical spaces that sit empty for portions of the day. Some creative retailers have found alternate uses for their storefronts by hosting events, fitness classes, or even lectures during or outside business hours. Lululemon, for example, regularly moves their racks of athletic clothing aside to hold in-store yoga classes. Besides being an innovative use of space, these special in-store events can also generate buzz about the brand or kick off the launch of a new product. Hotels are accustomed to selling meeting and banquet space, but properties that don’t have formal event space can still think outside the box and hold events in the lobby, in dining outlets, or even in guestrooms. And rather than selling the space to an outside organization, you can consider hosting free events that promote the hotel itself, such as a F&B tasting, spa open house, or career day that targets locals.   Form partnerships with complementary brands Holding in-store events isn’t the only way brands are bringing innovation to their marketing strategies. Many retailers are collaborating with other brands that reach similar audiences or sell complementary products in an effort to generate publicity and offer unique products. One type of partnership involves a popular, value-oriented brand that joins forces with a luxury brand. Target, for example, sells affordably priced capsule collections with designers like Zac Posen, Lilly Pulitzer, and Proenza Schouler. H&M, another affordable retailer, has launched collections with couture brands like Balmain and Versace, offering their take on designer items at significantly lower prices. These collections often sell out quickly, which generates demand and publicity for the brand. But collaborations aren’t limited to the fashion industry. Home Depot recently teamed up with Pinterest to promote lighting, paint, textiles, bathroom fixtures, home decor products, and more in its “Shop the Look” program. In this program, consumers who are looking for DIY project inspiration on Pinterest can quickly find and purchase the items they need for the project at Home Depot. Hotels can engage complementary brands in similar partnerships, just like how Westin partnered with New Balance to offer sneakers and exercise clothing in its hotels. The key is collaborating with brands that resonate with your guests. If your hotel is well suited for families, perhaps consider partnering with a local toy shop to provide a selection of toys in some co-branded guestrooms. Or, if your hotel gets a lot of business from foodies, maybe collaborate with a local bakery on a tasty welcome amenity. Though the retail industry and the hotel industry have their differences, many of the most important business goals are shared: build brand loyalty, drive direct purchases or bookings, and stand out among a sea of competitors. Since both industries face some kind of internet-fueled disruption, hotels can take best practices from retailers who have found success in today’s dynamic marketplace. By learning from these creative retail tactics, hotels can gain traction online and book more rooms.  

This is the Revenue Management Prediction that You Need to Know

by
Jordan Hollander
2 weeks ago

Here at Hotel Tech Report we get asked all the time about the most interesting technology trends and tools in the market. Everyone has a different reason to ask: Hotel owners want to know how they can run more profitable businesses Hotel workers want to know which skills will be valuable in the years to come Venture capitalists want to know which tech companies to invest in In a recent interview with Hotel Tech Report, Atomize CEO Alexander Edstrom shared an extremely compelling vision for the future of hotel software.  Edstrom believes that well documented APIs are ushering in a new era of taylorism driven by more seamless vendor collaboration and consequently the potential for deeper specialization  Within the revenue management software category, for example, Edstrom believes that systems will be bifurcated into two groups that serve very different needs and require very different skill sets: Strategic Revenue Management: Similar to traditional revenue management software, these systems will focus entirely on business intelligence and reporting. Tactical Revenue Management: Systems that focus entirely on optimization and real time pricing execution. If you’re about to have a nervous breakdown at the thought of another system to manage your hotel, don’t panic just yet because Edstrom’s vision has a slight twist.  Instead of two separate systems, he believes that deeper collaboration and specialization will usher in a new era of white labelled solution so while it might be two different companies powering different aspects of the product, they would be bundled together into one interface. Edstrom believes that strategic revenue management software will continue to be the interface that helps hoteliers distill information and make better decisions but it will be powered by tactical revenue management systems that automatically run price optimizations in the background.  This means that as a hotelier you might not even need to know the name of the company who powers #2. A simple analogue to illustrate this concept can be found in the automotive industry with Aston Martin’s supercar, the Vantage.  Do you know who produces the Vantage’s 4.0 litre V8 twin-turbocharged engine? If you said Aston Martin, think again. The correct answer is Mercedes. By partnering with Mercedes, both Aston Martin and its customers benefit from Mercedes’ £10 million/day (€3bn/year) R&D spend that goes into developing its AMG twin turbo engines. Mercedes components allow Aston Martin to specialize in other aspects of the product like design, handling and production efficiency. In this example the Aston Martin is the strategic system providing an interface for the driver to navigate the road where the AMG engine is the tactical system that powers the vehicle but remains out of sight.  To give you an idea why this type of collaborative partnership and specialization can benefit consumers all you have to do is look at Aston Martin’s annual revenue which in 2019 was less than 1/10th the size of Mercedes’ R&D budget alone.  Instead of reinventing the wheel (pun intended) Aston Martin knew it could partner with Mercedes for the engine where they have invested billions of dollars, and instead invest their own R&D dollars on their core competencies of design and branding. "If somebody comes up with an innovation that adds value and is faster, better, cheaper, we take it," Murat Aksel, BMW SVP of Purchasing While the auto industry is an easy to understand example that illustrates a similar type of white labeling, there are dozens of other industries where this trend is happening too.  Edstrom’s vision for the future is largely inspired by his experience in the world of ad tech where he and Atomize co-founder Leif Jagerbrand sold their company Admeta to global ad tech powerhouse WideOrbit.  In ad tech, white labeling is considered table stakes. In this article we’ll explore how white label software will impact the future of hospitality.  We’ll then dive into the reasons why revenue management systems are the software that’s most likely to get white labeled next.   What is White Label Software? Have you ever heard of Twilio?  It’s ok, most people haven’t. If you’ve ever gotten a text message from Uber or AirBnB - it was powered by Twilio.  If you offer guest messaging services at your hotel, those too are likely powered by Twilio. Twilio is a $15B company that provides the building blocks (APIs) for software developers to create applications that leverage text messaging. Twilio may have been the first platform as a service company geared towards software developers but many have followed suit.  Visa recently purchased fintech unicorn and platform as a service company Plaid for $5.3B. Plaid is the platform that popular tech companies use to connect with banking institutions and is responsible for critical functionality within apps like Venmo, Coinbase and Betterment. Both Plaid and Twilio are built for software developers which means that consumers rarely even know that the apps they use are powered by them.  This enables software companies like Uber and Venmo to focus their energy and resources on its core competencies (e.g. distribution and network density) instead of building out redundant text messaging capabilities. This kind of white labeling has already begun in the hotel industry but without hoteliers even knowing it. Many of the property management systems that market channel management capabilities actually white label their channel managers from other vendors without the end user even knowing it’s another product.  Edstrom believes that there will be a lot more white labeling like this to come and history is on his side. There are some taboos around “outing” white label software but this is actually the most innovative way to build tech ecosystems since it frees up vendors to focus R&D spend on new innovations while still providing a comprehensive product portfolio for clients. "Different degrees of white labeling software partnerships were, and still are, common in adtech. Today, many of the leading and known adtech "software providers" are actually offering products where the IPs (Intellectual Property Rights) belong to a variety of white labelled software providers. We can now see signs that this is starting to happen in the hotel tech industry as well in terms of different types of strategic partnerships, but also the fully cloaked, 100% white labelled partnerships, that the average citizen would never even know are taking place".  Alexander Edstrom, CEO at Atomize In the context of the hotel industry, white labeling is an underrated alternative to the buzzy ‘app store’ concept.  Both solve the same problem: allowing software companies to focus R&D efforts on actual innovation instead of wasting time and resources building redundant features and squabbling over distribution which ultimately hurts industry economics and confuses software buyers.     App stores like Mews, protel and SiteMinder solve this problem by allowing users to tap the functionality of partner apps while white labeled solutions can potentially do this in a way that may actually be less confusing for the market (when executed well) since buyers need to work with fewer providers.   Revenue Management Systems are Ripe for White Labeling Edstrom believes that the revenue management space is ripe for white labeling because it has evolved to solve two distinct problems each requiring different capabilities.  Traditional revenue management systems (i.e. strategic) need to be good at reporting and data visualization which is a very different problem than price optimization (i.e. tactical revenue management). In order to understand how modern revenue management systems came to solve two distinct problems we need to understand a bit about the past. Before yield management took hold in the 80s and 90s, hotels relied on flat pricing (or at best seasonal fixed rates). The earliest applications of hotel revenue management began in the mid 1980s (back then it was called yield management).  Since there was no such thing as a ‘revenue manager’ back then, this role was generally filled by reservation sales managers.  The earliest applications of revenue management were pioneered in the airline industry to meet very rudimentary goals. For example, airlines would create fenced pricing such as discounts for booking a trip more than 21 days in advance.  This began as yield management which generally refers to an inventory-centric price optimization approach. Over time these rules grew more complex and strategies became more sophisticated leading us to where we are today. As pricing and yield strategies improved there has been a concurrent rise of innovative revenue management software vendors that delivered tools to help revenue managers quickly test and implement new revenue maximization strategies by tapping competitive market and historical PMS data. Consequently, most revenue management systems today center around data dashboards and reporting tools.  Drawing from experience, Edstrom believes that the next evolution of revenue management software will mirror what happened in the ad tech industry.  He believes that while most revenue management systems today have focused on reporting functionality, the winning price optimization vendors of tomorrow will be white labeled utilities that work behind the scenes while hoteliers spend their time operating strategic revenue management and business intelligence software. Since price optimizations automatically happen in the backend, hoteliers don’t actually need to log in to that system.  That’s why Edstrom believes that strategic revenue management systems and BI tools are better suited to act as the ‘hotelier facing’ software brands. If you think automated optimization sounds far-fetched, just take a look  at digital marketing platforms like Google Ads that automatically optimize massive real time data sets to determine the right price of billions of ads every day. As an advertiser on Google, you pick your keywords then set a max bid (and budget) and the optimizations happen automatically in the background because there is no possible way for humans to analyze these massive datasets that are literally changing by the second. Tactical revenue management systems grow demand by decreasing prices in the same way that ad bidding platforms grow demand by increasing bids and budgets.     The same way your hotel’s marketing team trusts that Google’s automated bidding system will maximize your marketing spend, Edstrom believes the new generation of tactical revenue management systems will serve as the pricing engine that optimizes  your hotel’s pricing strategy on a minute-to-minute real time basis leveraging mounds of data that even Einstein couldn’t make sense of. By most estimates, only around 10-15% of hotels use revenue management systems today.  Edstrom believes that the way to increase market utilization of such systems is to pull apart tactical price optimization tools and strategic revenue management software.   What Automation Means for Revenue Managers The thought of fully automated tactical revenue management might sound scary to most revenue managers like the prospect of autonomous vehicles sounds to Uber drivers--but while driving skills may not be needed in decades to come, the analytical and strategic  skills of revenue managers will be more in demand than ever before. There is no question of whether tactical revenue management will be automated according to Atomize CEO Alexander Edstrom and in many ways that world is already here. Edstrom told me a story about how he’d recently checked in with an important client whom he hadn’t spoken to in several months.  The client owns a small chain of luxury boutique hotels in India and the conversation went something like this: Alexander: How is everything going with Atomize? Client: Actually, since we decided to go for Autopilot we have not had any reason to login into Atomize.  I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I have even forgotten my login password. The numbers and KPIs look great, that’s all we care about.  We don’t need to open the app to see specific prices set for certain room categories for future arrival dates as long as our RevPAR and occupancy rates are beating out the competition. Here at Hotel Tech Report we’ve written extensively about the day-to-day roles and responsibilities of revenue managers but these roles are changing at a rapid clip. It’s easy to see why revenue managers might feel threatened by an automated tactical revenue management system like Atomize; however, the reality is that systems like Atomize are actually freeing up commercial leaders in the hotel industry to focus on higher value tasks and strategic revenue management. Just as “revenue management” has built on the foundational concepts of “yield management”, the next iteration of this role continues to become even more strategic with each passing year.  Revenue managers today have widely adopted the concept of total RevPAR (tRevPAR) and the leaders of tomorrow will increasingly be focused on not just tRevPAR but profit maximization through the implementation of actionable business intelligence. Revenue managers of the future will focus on commercial decision making like orchestrating the efforts of sales and marketing to maximize business profitability.  In other words, revenue managers of yesterday focused on questions like “how much should I price this room for?” while revenue managers of tomorrow will likely focus on questions like “is it more profitable for me to drop rates by 10% or increase my PPC (pay-per-click) advertising budget by 20%?” --   The automation of tactical revenue management is already here and the best revenue managers are already leveraging this technology to save time and focus on the commercial skills necessary to stand out in tomorrow’s revenue management job market.   This content was created collaboratively by Atomize and Hotel Tech Report.

5 Hotel Marketing Ideas You Should Try Right Now

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

Whether your hotel is a local landmark or a new kid on the block, it’s always a good idea to add fresh, new strategies to your hotel marketing plan. You may think that innovative ideas for hotels need months of planning and a budget that’s out of your reach, so let us assure you that you can implement creative marketing strategies in a short time frame and with little or no financial resources. In this article, we’ll share five marketing strategies for hotels and resorts that will attract new guests, drive direct bookings, and even strengthen guest loyalty. Best of all, these strategies are low cost and don’t require much planning. In fact, we recommend that you try one today! Which of our hotel marketing ideas will you try right now?   Target repeat guests with personalized offers With so much attention given to acquiring new guests, it can be easy to forget about a valuable segment of traveler: your repeat guests. Why are repeat guests so valuable, you ask? Studies show that the acquisition cost for new guests can be between 5 and 7 times that of existing guests. Furthermore, “the probability of selling to a new customer hovers around a mere 5 to 20 percent. Meanwhile, the likelihood of selling to an existing customer is between 60 to 70 percent.” Essentially, guests who have stayed at your hotel are more likely than new guests to book, and a repeat guest’s booking costs less than that of a new guest. Give your loyal guests a little TLC with a personalized email that recognizes their loyalty. In the email, you want to make the guest feel special, so craft the message for your VIPs in a tone that sounds exclusive and appreciative. As the cherry on top, offer a special promo code or freebie that rewards the guest for their loyalty. Besides, your loyal guests can be your best salespeople, so treat them to a special offer that they’ll want to tell all their friends about.   Give your employees a shout-out on social media Social media is a great way for hotels to stay connected with repeat guests and build brand awareness. But in addition to flattering shots of your pool, restaurant, and bathrooms, social media is also a fantastic channel for bragging about your hotel’s most valuable asset: your employees. After all, a memorable interaction with your staff is more likely to inspire a guest to return than your furniture is. For example, Hilton recently shared a video on Instagram about an employee’s journey from a refugee to an apprentice at Hilton Frankfurt City Centre. Besides just celebrating the employee’s story, the post received more views than any of Hilton’s other video content and over 28 times the average comment volume. Video content is certainly engaging, but you don’t need to produce a film like Hilton’s to get similar results. Grab your smartphone, walk into the lobby, and snap a photo of your front desk agents in action. Or start an “employee of the week (or month)” campaign that publicly recognizes team members for their hard work and dedication to your guests. Once potential guests learn about the exceptional service your staff provides, they’ll want to stay at your hotel.   Partner with local businesses Wondering how to promote hotel sales among new segments of guests? Thinking outside of the box (in this case, your hotel is the box) can lead to some exciting and creative marketing ideas. If your hotel marketing plan seems stale, consider partnering with local businesses to host events, offer unique amenities, or collaborate on promotional offers that can reach new audiences. Joining forces with nearby businesses can allow your hotel to offer unique amenities that aren’t in-house. Do guests wish your hotel had a restaurant, a gym, or a spa? Rather than investing thousands of dollars in renovations, try investing a few hours in building a partnership with a restaurant, gym, or spa next door. For instance, the historic Lenox Hotel in Boston didn’t have the space for an on-site spa, so the property partnered with G20 Spa + Salon across the street. With the ability to offer spa services to its guests, the hotel is now a stronger competitor among luxury hotels in the area. Though the partnership might not materialize immediately, you can start brainstorming potentially local business partners and start the conversation today.   Answer guest questions or comments with a personal touch Responding to guest reviews and social media comments can sometimes feel like a chore, but it’s important to remember that these responses provide an excellent opportunity to market your hotel. Rather than using canned responses or templates, answer each one individually, speaking to any specific questions or situations the guest mentioned - both positive and negative. Did a guest mention they loved the shampoo in the shower? Great! You can talk up your organic eucalyptus-scented toiletries that are thoughtfully presented in eco-friendly dispensers. Or was the guest disappointed in the food at your restaurant? Then you have the perfect opportunity to mention that your hotel has just hired a new chef who will be completely revamping the menu options (only if that’s true, of course). In addition to reviews, social media comments deserve personal treatment. RIU Hotels and Resort does an excellent job of responding to each and every comment personally. Even if the comment doesn’t have a question, the RIU team will say something like “thanks for your comment” or “we’d love to have you.” Their responses come across as genuine and thoughtful, which is probably exactly the impression that the brand wants to make. Another example of going above and beyond to respond to guest inquiries is when a child forgot their stuffed animal at a Ritz-Carlton hotel. The hotel found the lost toy, but instead of simply mailing it back to its rightful owner, the hotel took photos of the stuffed animal receiving the royal treatment at the hotel and included some Ritz-branded souvenirs in the box. The hotel also posted about the situation on social media, and the post went viral. As these examples show, innovative ideas for hotels to build online marketing power doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. Try taking a few extra minutes to respond to guest comments today.   Ask real people to test your website When was the last time you asked to watch someone book a room on your own website? If you answered, “never,” then today is a great day to perform an impromptu website audit. Ensuring your website is user-friendly and glitch-free is one of the most important pieces of your hotel marketing plan, because if your website has errors and guests can’t book easily, then all of your great marketing ideas are for nothing. To conduct these mini usability tests, go into your local coffee shop (or even ask your friends or family at home) and kindly ask patrons to book a room while you watch over their shoulders. As a hotelier, you might think the booking process is simple, but to someone who might only book a hotel room once per year, your website could be confusing. To get the most out of these tests, take detailed notes about your findings so you can make improvements to your site later. As your testers navigate through your site, you might notice their body language - do they tense up or show stress during any part of the booking process? - and whether they ask any questions. These are important observations that reveal pain points on your website. If you have some computer programming experience, perhaps you can resolve the issues on your own, but if not, then you’ll want to turn to an expert. Partnering with a digital marketing agency like D-Edge ensures your website is always in perfect working order. A digital marketing agency can help you not only maintain an intuitive, seamless website, but also source content and optimize your site for search engines. With a strong website, you can make progress toward your direct booking goals. -- With these five hotel marketing ideas, you don’t need to wait for budget season or hire a marketing department to make an impact. These simple, low-cost hotel marketing ideas are ready for you to implement today so you can reach new guests, keep loyal guests coming back, and book more rooms.