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If you want to learn about all of the latest hotel tech product launches and feature releases from WTM London 2019, then you’ll love this comprehensive (yet skimmable) guide. Hoteliers can browse the new products covered in this guide to get a pulse on the latest tools and strategies available to grow your hotel business in 2020. We know that you've got too much on your plate to keep up with all of this yourself, so we carefully reviewed 100+ of the top product launches from the trade show floor and bucketed them into 6 major themes: 1. Group Business Innovations 2. Multi-Property Portfolio Tech Rollouts 3. Emerging Advertising Technology 4. Features & Products That Enter New Categories 5. Automation Features 6. Revenue Management & Big Data Bonus: 9+ Notable Product Launches Let’s dive in, shall we? Group Business Innovations There's historically been a ton of hype around consumer travel apps and guest experience platforms but every hotelier knows that the real money is in group business. Groups offer higher margins and larger deal sizes - who wouldn't want a piece of that? As such, there are a lot of launches this year in the group and sales space ranging from sales CRMs to revenue management tools that offer displacement analysis and even 3D modeling software to better market your meeting spaces. Pace: Group displacement analysis helps your team optimize decision making Group Displacement Analyses have always been a painful exercise for hoteliers. They take up significant time for a very simple question: “Will I make more revenue by taking in a group vs. continuing to sell to my transient business segments?” Revenue managers and sales managers can now evaluate group requests with ease. Users simply provide the duration of stay, the number of rooms required per night, and then they can customize the rates to quickly see the value of the group and make a decision if they should take the booking or not. Pace’s Group Displacement Tool uses accurate and granular forecasts to generate displacement analyses for you, that not only save you time, but also ensure that your evaluations are based on real data science. Read Pace Reviews Matterport: Build 3D models of your meeting spaces to drive more group business Matterport is a spatial data company focused on digitizing and indexing the built world. With Matterport technology, anyone can create and share a digital twin of the built world, which can be used to design, build, operate, promote and understand any space. Creating a 3D digital twin of hotel rooms, meeting spaces and common areas is simple with Matterport’s technology. Using a Pro2 3D camera or any compatible 360 capture device, the Matterport Capture app guides one through the scanning process. The model is then uploaded to a Matterport Cloud account, where the software creates the digital twin. After creation, Matterport lets individuals edit, customize and refine the model. Matterport Cloud 3.0 harnesses the power of Matterport’s AI-based image processing technology, Cortex, to transform data collected with the Matterport Pro2 or a collection of simple 360 panoramas from compatible 360 cameras into Matterport True3D™ digital twins. Read Matterport Reviews Clairvoyix: Hotel CRM for groups and sales teams Groups sales has seen very little change in the past few decades. Sales personnel typically call meeting planners from a stack of questionable leads pulled from the sales and catering system. The Clairvoyix Group Solution allows sales and marketing professionals to schedule targeted and personalized group/event direct marketing campaigns that include lifecycle marketing and automated follow-up by email, or from a tele-research center. Fully qualified leads are delivered to property, regional, or headquarters sales personnel, eliminating the historical and time-consuming process of calling every lead in the system. The solution deploys sales and marketing automation, including lifecycle direct marketing (email and LinkedIn) allowing for an exponential gain in the number of meeting planners contacted. Most importantly, the system generates periodic communication with meeting planners who previously booked at meeting ensuring that all potential repeat business is secured. Read Clairvoyix Reviews MeetingPackage: Plug into venue directories to increase meeting space occupancy MeetingPackage has been working hard to deliver flexible meeting payment services for both Travel Management Companies and their clients. AirPlus integration helps Travel Management Companies and meetings organisers centralise and manage payments more easily for their clients. Integration with Venue Directory means that hotels and venues across the UK and Europe benefit from distribution on the UK's leading platform for meetings organisers and enhances value for users of the Venue Directory's platforms by allowing users to consult availability of spaces, pricing and ancillary services all in one easy to use interface. MeetingPackage's new features are of particular interest to the sales and revenue management departments within a hotel group as they will be able to drive more M&E business through their direct channels. AirPlus integration will simplify billing for hotel users of MeetingPackage and corporate clients, making hotels' M&E products more attractive to those clients in the process. MeetingPackage's integration with Venue Directory means that for the first time venues will be able to distribute details of their availability, pricing, F&B and services to the UK's largest source of M&E enquiries thereby streamlining a labour intensive and old fashioned RFP process into a modern online booking and enquiry tool. For many venues, direct integration with popular industry PMS platforms such as Oracle Opera or Mews Commander means less need to interact with third-party tools. MeetingPackage's integration with Venue Directory is unique in that it is the only service that facilitates the delivery of pricing and availability directly from a venue's PMS or sales and catering system to a front-end interface used by Meetings bookers, corporate clients and travel management companies worldwide. With AirPlus, clients will be able to dynamically generate AirPlus payment numbers.MeetingPackage is the only M&E booking service to offer this facility and it has been designed to meet the requirements of corporate clients. Read MeetingPackage Reviews Multi-Property Portfolio Tech Rollouts Most hotel tech companies start off serving small independents. After all, these clients are less demanding and easier to woo in the early days of launching a startup. The interesting thing that we're seeing is a huge wave of startups that are hitting scale and moving upstream to serve enterprises with dedicated functionality built for groups and portfolios. This is a great sign as it indicates that firms in the ecosystem are achieving healthy growth which ultimately is a sign that hotels everywhere are becoming more digitally savvy. Oaky: New multi-property functionality built for portfolios Switching between multiple properties in the Oaky dashboard used to be..well...a hassle. They’ve fixed that. Oaky understands that when you work in a Hotel Group or Chain, you might have specific needs and this innovation demonstrates Oaky’s commitment to a platform that is easy to use for bigger groups and chains. With this development, hoteliers can control their Oaky content centrally, add deals in 1-click and ultimately generate more revenue. In short, you can now switch between properties from within Oaky’s software where before you needed separate setups for each property. Read Oaky Reviews RMS Hospitality: Property Management System helps clients with turnkey loyalty programs Loyalty programs can help hotels drive repeat visits and reduce acquisition costs by giving guests an incentive to return again and again. By allocating points for guest stays and activities that can be redeemed for credits,the RMS Guest Rewards module encourages guest engagement and brand loyalty. The more guests stay and spend, the more they are rewarded. Guest Rewards is a fully integrated module that can be added to any RMS client's existing hotel management system. Setup by the property is straightforward, with customizable reward ratios, i.e. dollars spent to points earned, and points earned to guest credit. Staff can enroll an existing guest in the hotel's database in the loyalty program with one click, making it quick and hassle-free for guests to join the program and start earning points. Points are automatically allocated to guest accounts based on their stay and activity spend, and can be redeemed as a payment type within RMS so staff can apply points to guest accounts when guests want to use their rewards. Guest Rewards is fully integrated with RMS' hotel management software, so hoteliers using RMS as their property management system can easily add loyalty program functionality to their tech stack without the need for additional software. Guest Rewards is also customizable to each hotel client, allowing properties to set up a points and rewards system that makes sense for their business model and fits their existing brand. Read RMS Reviews GuestCentric: Multi-Property Booking Engine to Cross Sell Properties on Sell Out If your hotel is not available on a specific date, but your sister hotel on the other side of the road is still open for reservations, why not push your sister property. Helping the user not to start their search all over again and promote our group hotels as an alternative can prove to be a useful and profitable strategy. When a guest accesses the booking engine or website of the hotel and selects a specific date - if the hotel is full the the booking engine returns a message: "Sorry, we don't have any rooms left”. When that happens hotels lose money. With this new functionality, GuestCentric can now provide those guests a room in another one of your fantastic hotels." The platform shows a list of hotels the user can choose from and when the user selects an option, the guest will be redirected to the partner hotel booking engine with the dates pre-selected. GuestCentric offers a highly personalized solution integrated into the Shopping Booster feature that is proven to increase direct bookings. Everything is engineered to remove from the process any friction that may affect the conversion. Read GuestCentric Reviews Quicktext: Website chatbot for multi-property websites When you have several properties in the same website search is much more complicated than in simple websites. Groups like Accor can have >100 properties in the same city which is great but might induce choice paralysis on the customer side. Quicktext multi-property is a chatbot that is able to guide the customer from many possible hotel choices to the hotel that is most relevant to each customer based on their expressed needs. If you're looking for a hotel with a swimming pool in Paris on accorhotels.com you might come from having to search 160 properties down to 4 that are really relevant to satisfy your needs. What makes Quicktext different is its database. While all chatbots are text-based meaning that the hotel needs to introduce answers in a text format. Quicktext is structured around data points that they collect from the hotel. For example, you can tell the bot that there is a swimming pool by ticking a box in the software. The chatbot will then make an answer and when a prospective guest searches at the group level it will be very easy for the bot to find what hotels have a swimming pool in Paris. Read Quicktext Reviews Emerging Advertising Technologies Ad tech has been a hot sector for years with one of the highest profile mergers to date coming from the Taboola/Outbrain merger. In hotel tech, it has taken some time to heat up. Historically we've had digital marketing agencies and then a couple of categories in the space like metasearch management platforms (e.g. Koddi, Triptease) and audience targeting solutions like Sojern. We noticed some really interesting tools and features launching in the ad tech space at WTM this year. Most notably, Triptease has continued it's cadence of product launches driving towards an end-to-end guest acquisition platform. Naturally the firm started it's journey optimizing conversion rates on hotel websites and is now focused on building innovative tools that bring more traffic into that finely tuned funnel. Triptease: Bring more guests back to your hotel website with retargeting “Price remains the single most powerful factor in booking decisions, and we’ve known since the launch of Price Check that a live price comparison gives guests a proven, powerful incentive to book direct,” says Alasdair Snow, Triptease’s co-founder and Chief Product Officer. “Now, with Retargeting, we’re able to share that message with guests even when they’re not on the hotel website or booking engine. Most importantly, Triptease knows which guests are worth retargeting - and which to ignore.” Triptease’s algorithmic approach combines search, parity and behavioral data to avoid costly bidding mistakes. With Triptease Retargeting, hotels can avoid common pitfalls such as targeting a visitor if their search dates are in the past, or bidding to advertise when they don’t have the best price available online. In addition to knowing who to target and when to target them, Triptease Retargeting dynamically updates ad creative to show only the messages most likely to convert an undecided guest. Powered by Triptease’s price intelligence software, Retargeting allows hotels to show live price comparisons to guests based on their unique search - wherever they are on the web. Triptease is able to drive far higher levels of retargeting performance through our data advantages across user and journey targeting precision, global publisher coverage, optimised ad creative and co-ordination with attract and convert products. Read Triptease Reviews Curacity: ORA provides Instagram revenue attribution over a 6-month buyer journey Curacity's new product, ORA for Instagram, measures travel influencers to determine which Instagram posts or stories resulted with a direct booking to that hotel for an attribution window of up to six months. Curacity built the data bridge to measure Instagram against hotels' PMS to determine bookings that were influenced by Instagram influencers. We haven’t seen anything like this in the market. Competitive means of measuring Instagram is based on a 30-day window, max and this opens it up to 6x that. This time frame is irrelevant when consumers are booking a hotel stay that will cost over $1,000. Large purchases require a longer customer decision-making journey. Read Curacity Reviews RoomCloud: Google Hotel Ads Management on any booking engine Thanks to Google Metasearch hotels and Property Managers can save money on commissions and increase traffic on their official website but only 74 companies globally can connect into Google Hotel Ads today. Given that most hoteliers who are happy with their booking engine wouldn’t want to switch just to optimize Google Hotel Ads - RoomCloud now has a solution that integrates with any booking engine. RoomCloud Booking Engine is certified by Google to sell rooms and apartments on the Metasearch and it will act as a bridge between non certified Booking Engines that your property uses and Google Metasearch. RoomCloud just needs the inventory of prices and availabilities to send requests to. Through a "deep link" RoomCloud will connect Metasearch to your Booking Engine of choice. When using this connection, your hotel will pay RoomCloud for Google bills every 3-months which can be a nice way to pay for advertising during off-peak times without dipping into your cash coffers. RoomCloud only asks for a fixed cheap annual fee for the activation of the connection, without any extra commission on the reservations. Your hotel then only pays for ad spend on Google. Read RoomCloud Reviews Squarelovin: New player that helps hotels leverage user generated content to drive more bookings Professional hotel photography is super expensive and time consuming to generate but guests are increasingly wary of getting “catfished” by cherry picked imagery. Content created by actual guests provides a sense of authenticity and social proof to new customers, much more than professional shots of empty pools or restaurants can. squarelovin helps curate and filter content created by actual guests, as well as effectively placing it on the website. The squarelovin UGC Management Tool collects all brand-specific User Generated Content in one place. By tracking selected brand accounts, geo-locations or hashtags, all images are filtered from Instagram in real time. Essential on & offline image usage rights can then be requested with just one easy click. The software takes care of individual feedback to the customers. This way, more direct appreciation can be conveyed while manual work gets reduced to a minimum. The tool is mainly used by marketing, e-commerce and social media managers. Their main task is to select those pieces of content which fit meet their expectations and fit the property’s aesthetics. squarelovin also comes with detailed analytics which allow users to precisely track which kind of content works best and which guests could become possible brand ambassadors. The amount of time spent on picking content and diving into analytics is based on individual preferences. As the squarelovin tool secures essential usage rights for UGC in accordance with copyright laws and in compliance with GDPR, it takes away the burden of dealing with image rights and the fear of possibly facing legal consequences when embedding content the wrong way. One of the big advantages of embedding UGC through squarelovin compared to other tools is that the galleries clearly indicate which Instagram user originally uploaded a picture or video, while a click on the content directs to the respective product detail page within the WBE. This results in significantly longer website visits and higher conversion rates. The UGC Management Tool, other than direct integrations of Instagram, allows filtering content before it’s published to the website. This way, brands can ensure that only UGC that matches their values and aesthetics is being featured. Moreover squarelovin also offers significantly more possibilities for collecting content, as the tool allows curate posts based on hashtags, mentions and geo-locations. Read squarelovin Reviews Features & Products That Enter New Categories It's no secret that hotel tech is kind of a $hit show when it comes to features and product portfolios. It's often hard for hoteliers to tell who does what let alone who does what well. Well, if you're having problems figuring it out we've got an easy solution - go check out their client reviews on Hotel Tech Report! That said, it's natural for tech companies to expand their product offering over time by listening to customer feedback and this next group of companies is doing exactly that with their WTM launches. GuestRevu: Reputation Provider Launches Service Tickets GuestRevu clients frequently told the hospitality software provider that one of the most helpful aspects of the guest feedback system was that they were getting notified quickly of small issues or downfalls in guest experience, such as repairs that needed to be made in bathrooms or improvements that could be made to the breakfast offering. Timely feedback meant that these could be rectified before they impacted other guests. However, one of the major challenges busy hospitality professionals face is ensuring these incidents are tracked and resolved as quickly as possible. Service tickets are GuestRevu’s answer to this, assisting management and staff facing these challenges by: - Removing ambiguity: each service ticket has one assignee, which means there is certainty of who is responsible for resolving this issue. - Ensuring issues are not forgotten: reminder emails keep each team member’s assigned tickets top of mind, whether the ticket has just been assigned, is approaching its deadline or is overdue. - Improving reaction speed: Automation rules can be set to generate tickets immediately and assign them to the appropriate people based on predetermined concern criteria. - Giving management peace of mind: ticket “watchers” can easily track when tickets are resolved, and if they are resolved quickly enough. - Keeping staff engaged and motivated: tickets are also a great way to share positive guest comments with relevant staff and their managers. The service ticket feature in the GuestRevu application helps clients to more efficiently and effectively manage incidents as they arise from customer feedback. A service ticket refers to a task created in the GuestRevu application that details a specific action which needs to be resolved. These could be from issues raised by guests or courtesy follow-ups should guest comments reference or highlight key-value elements of their experience. Service tickets can be generated automatically from direct feedback responses based on certain triggers or created manually by a user. Only users with appropriate user rights can create, view or resolve a ticket. Whoever resolves a tickets also needs to include a note so that everyone involved has a good overview of completed tasks. GuestRevu clients can create customised service tickets, such as a reminder to download reports or go through older reviews, or they can create a service ticket directly from a particular guest’s response and assign it to a particular team member. Service tickets can also be set up to be created automatically when a guest gives a low rating or alert logic is triggered from a specific question. Service tickets save teams time by allowing users to easily keep track of what tasks still need to be addressed, who is responsible for them, and when they have been completed. These are perfect for managing and monitoring review responses, maintenance tasks and more. Service tickets are an essential management tool, allowing GuestRevu clients to ensure every concern raised in their reviews is dealt with in an efficient and professional manner. With GuestRevu’s service ticket feature, clients are able to automatically generate tickets based on a number of triggers, including any rating on overall satisfaction scores and other key metrics related to specific areas of the customer experience. In comparison to competing systems in the market, this feature allows a more granular flexibility when creating specific rules for auto-creation from guest feedback. There is also no need for predetermined escalation groups to be set up in the system beforehand, which means users can select one or more watchers based on the nature of the task. The service ticket dashboard is built with the busy hospitality professional in mind, with the ability to easily view tickets assigned to the user or tickets the user is watching, with the click of a button. If a service ticket was created based on particular feedback from a guest or customer, this information will be stored in their profile on the GuestRevu system which staff can use to personalise their experiences in the future. Read GuestRevu Feedback SiteMinder: The latest player to launch an App Store The Hotel App Store comes 18 months after the launch of SiteMinder Exchange, a connectivity hub that allows hotel data publishers and developers of hotel application software to transfer guest information between their systems. From 4 November 2019, hotels using a data publisher connected to SiteMinder Exchange—which includes more than 80 property management systems (PMSs) and SiteMinder’s channel manager—can use the Hotel App Store to access applications. This means that SiteMinder’s Hotel App Store allows hoteliers to filter, search or browse through over 100 applications that can seamlessly connect to their SiteMinder Exchange-connected PMS or, in the absence of that, SiteMinder’s channel manager, which can act as a data publisher by connecting the data from a hotel’s online booking channels to their selected apps. The Hotel App Store gives hoteliers access to the most relevant applications that support their daily operations of running a hotel business, help their business to grow, and make the daily work more rewarding. These applications include, but are not limited to, applications for upselling, guest communications, review management, loyalty programs, airport transfers and revenue management. To connect to an app, hoteliers need to simply sign up by filling in a form for their preferred app and let SiteMinder do the rest. Until now, app marketplaces have mostly been closed environments for hotels (e.g. Mews, Protel, Hotelogix), accessible only by using a marketplace provider’s designated PMS (with the exception of BookingSuite). Additionally, as the leading guest acquisition platform for hotels, SiteMinder’s Hotel App Store opens up the opportunity for 35,000+ hotels around the world to easily access and connect with apps right away by seamlessly connecting their guest data from online booking channels to their chosen apps, via SiteMinder’s channel manager. Read SiteMinder Reviews RoomRaccoon: Cloud PMS player launches free light weight yield management tool Yield Management is a variable pricing strategy based on influencing and anticipating consumer demand. This feature maximizes revenue and profits by ensuring rooms are sold, and sold for the optimum price since many of RoomRaccoon’s clients may not implement a dedicated revenue management system. RoomRaccoon enable hoteliers to set rules based on availability and time to automatically increase/decrease prices. These can be simple independent rules like decreasing room prices if a set percentage of stock remains X days before arrival. They can also be a series of inter-dependent rules that regularly adjust prices with the passing of time based on performance / anticipated future performance. Either way the purpose remains the same. Ensuring hoteliers maximize revenue and profits. By automating these price adjustments hoteliers save a huge amount of time and eliminate human error. A number of very good stand-alone Yield Management Systems exist on the market. However, these need to be integrated into your existing Property Management System and are often prohibitively expensive for smaller / independent properties. Providing the Yield Management functionality for free within RoomRaccoon's PMS is unique and puts this important functionality in the hands of more hotels. Read RoomRaccoon Reviews Repup: Reputation management firm launches a Hotel CRM solution Repup is solving the problem of manual, non-personalised and inconsistent communication with guests. They do this by unifying data from several interfaces including PMS, Booking Engine, OTAs and manual entries to save time for hoteliers and have a single source of truth for the entire guest data, past activity and persona profile. This product has an automation and data intelligence layer that enables hotels to define rules for their guest communication and set automated campaigns. The intelligence layer divides guest data into segments so personalisation can be achieved at scale. All transactional emails sent through the solution have an embedded concierge link that takes guests to a concierge using which they can submit preferences, buy upgrades and fill in-stay feedback. Read Repup Reviews Automation Features We've previously covered the automation trend in our ITB Recap so we won't belabor the issue. Having said that, automation cannot be understated as a trend - it's HUGE. Ultimately the role of technology is to make our lives easier and automation is something that computers do 1000x more efficiently than humans so it's a natural place to focus. Atomize: Real time pricing automation The hotel next door is pricing their rooms faster than you and it’s eating your profits without you ever even noticing. Faster yield management software and real time pricing is like a secret weapon for revenue managers. If your local market competition is employing real time pricing, you are likely bleeding RevPAR so this concept of real time price optimization is especially important to understand and get a grip on. If your competition isn’t using real time pricing yet (which they most likely aren’t), this article will show you how you can use it to beat out the compset. A fully automated system working in real time gives your hotel an edge over the competition when you need it most. In full autopilot mode, Atomize continuously receives data from the PMS and continuously runs real time optimization runs and pushes the optimal rates back to the PMS for all room types and all future arrival dates around the clock where each price point is uniquely calculated in real time. In addition to considering historical data such as reservations, cancellations and current pickups, Atomize RMS also monitors real time changes, search trends, competitor information and other factors such as local holidays and dynamically sets the price per room type while respecting pricing hierarchy and takes into account the effect on adjacent days and room types. As any data points above change for any future arrival date, relevant price points updates in real time. With Atomize, hotels can continuously have real-time rates pushed live, around the clock, 365 days into the future, dynamically for all room types. HelloShift: guest messaging smart reply automation Messaging as a channel for hotel guests results in more guest requests. This is a good thing but it can overwhelm the limited hotel staff resources. Furthermore, the high employee turnover in the hotel industry can lead to inexperienced staff providing inconsistent responses to even basic, routine guest requests. Smart reply helps hotels deliver consistent replies to common guest requests in a timely fashion. When a guest request comes in, HelloShift infers the intent of the guest request using Natural Language Processing (NLP) that relies on Machine Learning (ML). Once inferred, HelloShift scans the answers provided by a property to their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and assists hotel staff in replying to the guest via a feature called Smart Reply. By default, Smart Reply suggests the right answer for the staff to pick and respond manually. A property can also deploy Smart Reply on auto-pilot (Smart Auto-Reply). Between Smart Reply and Smart Auto-Reply, HelloShift lets hotels choose the extent to which they want to stay authentic and high touch -- a big goal in hospitality. To deliver phenomenal guest service, hotels need Guest Messaging (to understand guest needs) and Staff Collaboration (to fulfill guest needs). Most solutions address only one or the other. HelloShift provides Staff Collaboration and Guest Messaging in one integrated platform. No more dropped tasks between separate, poorly integrated apps. This results in soaring guest satisfaction scores, with hotels reporting 56% more and 25% better TripAdvisor reviews. Read HelloShift Reviews Roomchecking: housekeeping software room assignment automation Labor cost ranges for at least 40% of the global cost of running a hotel. Usually, a hotel will hire permanent cleaning staff for 50% of occupancy and tap into external cleaners in case of higher occupancy. Forecasting the right amount of resources needed in a super volatile environment with reservations coming in and out with all specificities (back to back, day uses, MICE) is not a simple task. If you add labor constraints (max number of rooms, balancing between stay and due out, floor and section constraint), it is easy to understand why supervisors spend so much time every day into planning daily cleaning. Every morning, supervisors (or inspectors), log into the Automatic Planner. They will immediately see all the rooms to be cleaned with ETA, ETDs, VIPs, Queues, Day Use. They make sure all cleaning staff is present and will make necessary adjustments. With all the constraints and rules already preloaded, they will click on "Create Plan" and within seconds, the best cleaning path will appear. They will be able to modify it with the mouse and submit it so cleaners can begin working.As cleaners enter rooms, set DND, delays or clean rooms, they will be able to see the progress of the plan in real-time. The automatic planner is based on constraints, not on rules. it can take geography constraints (like addresses for apartments but also buildings and towers and floors), time constraints, credits constraints and many more. Most existing products just distribute rooms with very basic rules. Read RoomChecking Reviews Revenue Management & Big Data The reason revenue management software companies continue to lead innovation in the hotel tech industry is two-fold. On one hand, revenue management companies drive tangible topline gains so it's easy for hoteliers to justify investment with crystal clear ROI forecasts and easy to understand time savings. More investment from hotels means more R&D at those firms and ultimately more innovation. On the other, revenue management companies have access to massive datasets which means limitless opportunities to learn, iterate and grow. IDeaS: Improved forecasting for newly renovated inventory Due to the limited available data, hotels face significant challenges when trying to accurately forecast demand and set prices by room type for newly renovated inventory. IDeaS has expanded its Limited Data Build feature in its G3 Revenue Management System (RMS) to provide a data-driven solution for hotels undergoing room renovations. Limited Data Build scientifically predicts demand for new hotel properties and, with this latest enhancement, now enables existing hotels adding newly renovated inventory to receive an immediate, precise forecast by room type. Using historical sold information and booking patterns, combined with the hotel’s sales projections, Limited Data Build enables hotel revenue managers to immediately utilize accurate data for their new room types, rather than waiting for actual data to materialize over time. This advanced functionality is a unique offering on the RMS-vendor market, allowing hotels a new opportunity to leverage accurate data insights to optimize revenue from day one of renovated room sales by room type. Read IDeaS Reviews Pegasus: Distribution analytics connects data silos and provides actionable insight Distribution Analytics is a business intelligence platform that allows hoteliers to streamline their data analysis and save hours of administrative work needed to collate and corroborate spreadsheets. Hotel data often lives in multiple platforms, and bringing these data sets together to get a full picture of performance involves a lot of manual work — you need to download the raw data, bring it together on a spreadsheet, and then run various analyses to understand what's going on. And even then, it can be very hard to drill down and pinpoint a specific cause of any particular trend. Distribution Analytics helps solve that problem. This interactive platform brings together CRS, PMS, Channel Manager, GDS, call center and website data into one dashboard, giving hotels a 360-view of their hotel performance and allowing revenue managers to drill down into any aspect of distribution performance. The data comes in real-time, meaning that you can act quickly to identify trends that may be affecting your hotel bookings. For example, hotels can easily track historic and future pace of bookings in a standard dashboard, so you can see if you are behind from previous years. Then you can take action to remedy that situation, such as running a special offer. Or you can also drill down into geographic markets to see which ones are driving the most business, and set marketing strategies accordingly. Or as a brand, you can see how their entire portfolio is performing, or filter it by country to see how hotels in one market are performing in comparison to another market. The platform is built for flexibility and can bring in different types of data from different sources. Want to see how your Google Analytics data compares to your actual booking engine data? Our platform allows you to do that. The interactive capabilities of the platform are also quite unique; there are many ways to slice, dice, filter, and drill down into data — including geographically. The platform also includes collaborative tools so that revenue managers can annotate and share their findings within the organization. Think of it as Tableau but specifically for the hotel industry. Read Pegasus Reviews OTA Insight: Compare different rate types within your hotel and against the competition Many of OTA Insight's clients were asking for additional Excel exporting functionalities: they wanted the ability to export specific rate types from our tool. When digging deeper, the company found out the reason behind this question, namely that users wanted to combine these different Excel exports manually to find out the changes between these different rate types. So the real problem was in fact that hoteliers needed a tool through which they could compare the different rate types of their competitors and figure out what discounting strategies their competitors apply on their BAR rates. The Compare Module allows users to compare different rate types for your own hotel, as well as your competitors, and to have a view on the average discounting strategy of each competitor. As a hotel, you choose which two data sets you want to compare. Examples include comparing mobile rates to desktop rates, comparing breakfast rates to room-only rates, comparing membership rates to public rates, and so on. OTA Insight's tool then presents the two datasets next to each other in a simple, user-friendly way, emphasising the rate changes and exposing the discounting strategies of competitors. The strength of this feature lies within its ease of use and its simplicity. Most of OTA Insight's subscribing hotels use this feature on a monthly basis, as the strategies do not change that often. They use it to gain insights into how their competitors are discounting in order to stay competitive within the market. What would you do if, for example, you found out your competitors give their members 3% off during weekdays and 5% during weekends? Would you adjust your strategy towards your members? It is by providing these strategic insights for hotels that they can stay even more competitive within their market, without them having to manually figure it all out. OTA Insight's tool provides the industry’s first comparison module that allows hotels to compare different rate types and that shows the discounting strategies of the hotel’s competitors. None of the competition has been able to offer these strategic insights in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-use way. Read OTA Insight Reviews Pace: Inventory hierarchies ensure your brand strategy while maximizing RevPAR With demand-based dynamic pricing and automation there are instances where a hotelier wants to ensure that certain hierarchies between inventories are retained to be in-line with the property’s branding and meet customer expectations. This leads to Hoteliers being challenged with either losing out on revenue due to rigid price structures or giving into the possibility of product offerings being inconsistent with your branding and strategy. With Inventory Hierarchies, all you need to do as a hotelier is provide a hierarchy of your inventories and a minimum price buffer you would like to retain between them. Pace’s algorithm handles the rest, acknowledging these hierarchies and maximising RevPAR across your full inventory by simulating demand for countless pricing scenarios. There is a true paradigm shift with Pace’s Inventory Hierarchies as hoteliers can now setup their product offerings in a way that maintains their branding and strategy, while also allowing for the maximum RevPAR optimisation through dynamic, demand-based pricing. Juyo: Connecting disparate data sources with constellations Today hotels have access to a wide variety of data in different systems and places. Not only extracting that data is hard but also deriving insights from it is equally hard.Constellations are connected analytics that combine different widgets and dashboards that serve a specific business purpose. The goal of constellations is to connect external and internal data sources and empower hotel users to Fastrack decision making by connecting the dots. Constellations are used daily by revenue managers, general managers, analysts and other members of the hotel commercial team. Some give high-level information like on the books data while some deep dive in Net Revenue analytics.In the example of net revenue, hotels can use the data to track net RevPAR for past and future, optimize sales and marketing budget, track campaign ROI and develop the most profitable business and channel mix. The uniqueness of constellations is that in the analytics applications spectrum there are 2 categories. On the far left, you have the tools that offer reporting and dashboards that have been predefined. These are your typical hotel BI applications that are easy to use but often luck context in how the data is modeled. On the far right, you have tools such as Tableau or PowerBI that are extremely powerful but very difficult to model the data and put something together. Juyo constellations sits exactly in the middle and offers the best of each world. Read Juyo Reviews Profit Intelligence: Smart sales & distribution helps make sense of channel profitability in real time One of hoteliers top revenue management and distribution issues is to monitor and leverage cost of client acquisition. The complexity of sales and distribution, make almost impossible to just know what is the real NET value of a reservation. Hoteliers all know their commission percentages per travel agent, but often forget or cannot calculate other important related costs such as credit card fees, loyalty member program expense, sales team commissions etc. This problem makes their sales & distribution decisions really difficult and often results in poor decision making. Knowing these costs in real time, sliced by channel, market segment and account canbe a true strategic advantage to your hotel and help drive bottom line results (via higher GOPPAR). Hoteliers get set up with PI team support who analyze different costs of sales & distribution through a user friendly interface that guides you through the process. Each cost gets attributed to a reservation using different methods depending on the cost (Distribution key, recurring fee, period of override etc.). Profit Intelligence Smart Sales & Distribution algorithm will then calculate the cost for each past and future reservation dynamically and make predictions for future bookings. Results will be displayed in different meaningful dashboards from top level to account level. From their hotelier can know what is the exact NET value of his reservations and even check the NET value for each Travel Agent or corporate account. The easy to use DIY interface for hoteliers to set up their cost structure and visualize results make this new module unique. The chain view and chain costs management feature is also unique in that it allows hotel chains or management companies to consolidate costs from all hotels using smart mapping feature to eliminate brand specific details. Profit Intelligence RateGain: MarketDrone provides intraday rate updates to your mobile device without running reports An average hotel in North America changes its rates 3-4 times a day. The frequency of rate changes increases as we get closer to check-in dates. In other words, hotels are constantly changing rates for existing plans and introducing new rate plans close to check-in-date to sell off their unsold inventory and maximize revenue. As such, traditional batch dependent rate shopping tools are redundant and manually triggered reports are inefficient. They are not able to capture and highlight the intra-day rate changes that happen on the go. Hoteliers are in dire need of ways to help them stay on top of these real-time changes and take action when it still matters. RateGain’s MarketDrone is a feed that automatically pushes market changes through push notifications to Revenue Managers on a device of their choice. The instant alerts give notifications to Revenue Managers or other users as soon as market changes. In other words, whenever, any competitive hotel makes a rate change, an alert is triggered to the subscribed Revenue Manager or user. This is a shift from the current experience provided by traditional rate shopping tools where Revenue Managers has to pre-schedule reports and spends a major chunk of their day looking for changes in their respective markets. MarketDRONE tracks intra-day rate and rate plan changes by hotels in real-time and surfaces them on the go on a device of the user’s choice. It works on mobile, tablets and desktops. With MarketDRONE, Revenue Managers can be assured of staying on top of competitive landscape while they focus on what matters the most, i.e. making strategic decisions, improving business and boosting profits. Always keep an eye on market changes and keep yourself abreast of competitive landscapes on the fly. Not only can you keep an eye on market changes, but also respond to them as soon as they happen by taking corrective actions. A Revenue Manager or any user do not have to come to the rate-shopping tool every time to know about the market changes. They do not have to run a complete report. The notifications update them on the changes. As such, they can focus on the more important strategic decisions involved in day-to-day revenue management. With MarketDrone, revenue managers can be proactive about new promotional rate plans when nearby competitive hotels introduce them. Read RateGain Reviews BONUS: 9+ Notable WTM London Product Launches TrustYou launches direct response to Google and Booking in platform With this enhanced functionality, TrustYou users can now reply to the majority of all reviews directly without having to leave the platform. This development addresses a hotel’s increasing need to save valuable time and improve operations with technology. By responding directly to guest reviews received from Booking.com, Google, and TrustYou’s powered guest satisfaction surveys, hoteliers can respond on average to up to 78% of their total reviews without having to leave the TrustYou platform. Guests write reviews to be listened to and it is of great importance for businesses to reply to them. The limited capacity of many hoteliers to respond to all reviews means that there is a great need the new features addresses.Users can draft the response to a review in the TrustYou platform. Available response templates make it easier for users to address the feedback. Once submitted, the response will be pushed live to Google or Booking.com and the users do not have to leave the TrustYou platform to respond to a review for a hotel. Replying to reviews is essential in today’s sharing economy and online search-and-buy experience, as users expect their feedback and shared experiences to be valued by hotels. With these new feature enhancements, hotels can make a big impact on Booking.com and Google, where a majority of travelers start to search and book their accommodations, to actively influence a traveler’s booking decision. Actively managing the response and having a high response rate has a positive effect on the online reputation. TrustYou enables users to make this a priority, with easy response templates and that is available in different languages. Read TrustYou Reviews hotelkit unveils its housekeeping software solution Cleanliness is one of the most important criteria for guests, which makes housekeeping a very important factor when running a hotel business. The correct deployment of personnel, the structure of workflows and ongoing monitoring are key so operations can run smoothly. In most hotels, housekeeping processes are inefficient and do not meet guest requirements. The housekeeping tool simplifies all processes within the department. The executive housekeeper or the housekeeper in charge can easily assign the rooms to the cleaning staff based on time resources and qualifications. With clear checklists, it is easy for the housekeeping supervisor to carry out inspections, thus guaranteeing a high standard of quality. Housekeeping staff is able to work neatly and efficiently with checklists. Recurring tasks make everyday jobs easier. After cleaning, the current room status is reported directly to the Property Management System, so the reception team is always up to date. The housekeeping solution lets you stay on top of traceable, paperless processes by using a PC, tablet or smartphone. Simple and fast distribution of work according to the time resources and qualifications of the employees can work wonders in terms of efficiency. Structured checklists for room cleaning and inspection ensure top quality. Thanks to real-time updates, you always have an overview of the cleaning progress. Read hotelkit Reviews Bookboost launches a new guest messaging inbox Bookboost provides a messaging platform throughout the whole guest journey. Our new inbox makes sure the conversation with guests end up in the right inboxes. Also we provide hoteliers with AI based suggestions so during, especially, repetitive conversations they are able to automate most of those conversations while maintaining to be personal. Thirdly our new inbox delivers a cockpit view over the guests. For example it enables hoteliers to give location based suggestions for, for example, restaurants or bars, after a guests shared their location via Whatsapp. Lets say a hotelier has a reservation office and 3 receptions in 3 hotels. Our inbox routing makes sure that reservation inquiries end up in the reservation office and that if a guests talks with a brand via Whatsapp this conversation will end up at the right reception at the right hotel.Also it enables staff in the hotel to collaborate and hand over converstion to each other. For example, a guest with a room service inquiry, can be handed over to the room service team by a receptionist. There are many guest messaging solutions on the market, however our tool makes it practical for bigger organisations to make sure that the right conversation ends up at the right people in the hotel. Combining the power of a range of messaging channels, PMS systems, an advanced CRM, and AI for conversational suggestions. Enabling groups & brands to share user data & intelligence between properties while making sure the right person talks to the right person in the hotel. Read Bookboost Reviews Net Affinity launches 12 conversion updates to their high performance booking engine templates Based on extensive research and testing (including A/B testing, exit intent and user flow studies) Net Affinity hasdeveloped 12 key updates for their desktop and mobile booking engine templates. Their mission is to significantly simplify the booking process for hotel guests – with a special emphasis on mobile experience. The purpose of Net Affinity’s booking engine is, simply, to drive more direct bookings for their clients. The updates they’ve made were informed by ongoing quarterly device data trends analysis & reports which have shown consistent increases in mobile traffic and revenue. Their most recent in-depth report shows a mobile revenue increase of 6% (from Q2 to Q3 2019). With mobile at 45%, desktop at 44% and tablet at 1%, this means mobile revenue now trumps desktop revenue. The new templates will be an automatic upgrade for all Net Affinity clients. Their booking engine will work the same. All that changes is the experience for the user will be even better. Some of the key enhancements include: - New Searchbox which includes a new Book Direct feature sidebar and improved promo code fields. - New top panel on mobile with filters and summary - New mobile “cards” feature for roomtype scrolling - Breadcrumbs have been simplified and animated - Improved booking summary - New occupancy filter functionality - Simplied Reservation Form - UI and UX refinements" Net Affinity is seeing 2 out of 3 users visiting their client’s hotel websites on mobile which has lead them to continue releasing smart, timely product updates that fully support the mobile booking experience. Read Net Affinity Reviews Monscierge adds image functionality to its Connect Staff product There are three main use-cases for the new images feature: 1. Overcoming language barriers between hotel staff (using pictures to describe a chair is broken in rm. 213 or that a wall socket is loose etc.) and another, 2. Collecting penalty fees from guests opting to smoke in non-smoking rooms. By combining images of a room with incurred fees with the guest room policies signed by guests during check-in, Hilton Belfast City now has an easier process to more readily service their guest rooms.) 3. Creating a new task quickly and/or without language barriers or delayed reporting by floor;or utilize a quicker flow for room turnover and use the image/photo functionality to record issues in the room. Monscierge had several clients that asked if they had considered it, because while their teams were generally using Connect Staff for most things, at times it became faster to portray an urgency or need quicker by also following up on the requests/issues pushed through the app with a separate picture taken on their phones and sent through regular text between departments. Building it into the app allows the hotels to have that same option, but to also keep it together with the other details of the room turnover as well as become permanent documentation for that room in the Connect CMS portal - hotels cannot track images and messages from text messages as easily. Therefore it cuts short the overall data accrued each year.Housekeeping, maintenance, front desk, GM, operations, concierge... any member of staff that the hotel has assigned as a user. An application for hotel staff that take into consideration images/pictures functionality to communicate quickly what an issue might be, or to use for validating front office claims when trying to recoup money quickly, is a differentiator compared to other staff products.All of this data including images, is then stored for that specific room’s history. Read Monscierge Reviews Nonius launches a branded guest app When guests make a reservation at a given hotel, they receive an email to download the hotel’s app. After installing it, guests immediately get access to information about the hotel’s services, events, landmarks of the city and the Online Check-In. If the guests check-in online, they can go directly to their room and use the digital room key to get in. The Nonius app allows for guests to enjoy Room control over the lights and the AC, while also using their mobile device as a TV Remote Control. Guests can make requests for room service, all while keeping an eye on the bill and being able to Check-out without waiting at the front-desk. The Nonius App has unlimited integration capacity and is integrated with the main PMS players. This allows single sites and hotel groups for infinite scalability. Read Nonius Reviews HotelTime Solutions launches a PMS with specific functionality designed for serviced apartments Recognizing that serviced apartment operations require specific features within the PMS, HotelTime has been working hard in the past two years to bring innovative tech solutions to this part of the hospitality sector. HotelTime Serviced Apartments has been developing as a specialized version of the PMS based on feedback from our customers running serviced apartments.HotelTime Service Apartment features include : - Customised set of features with some standard PMS feature tweaked or removed and specific Serviced Apartment features added, like housekeeping and maintenance tools- 2-way integration to channel managers in multi-location environment where 1 PMS connects to various channel manager endpoints due to multiple OTA listings (one per each location)- Extended reporting ‘by apartment numbers’ for operations with multiple apartment owners (to be able to report revenue to each owner)- Automated ‘room number assignment’ adjusted to allocate different apartments to spread revenue proportionally throughout the property- Extended reporting by location as well as aggregated reporting by clusters in a multi-location environment Read hoteltime Reviews Jonas Chorum launches mobile app for it's popular cloud PMS Chorum Mobile solves the issue of guests being unable to adequately reach hotel staff or having to wait long periods of time to get assistance by communicating with the front desk via their mobile device to order services. In addition, the ability to check-in and check-out speeds up the arrival/departure times and provides a more seamless experience overall. Chorum Mobile is accessible by both the hotel staff through the software and by the guests through a mobile application. Hotel staff utilize this on a daily basis, allowing them to be untethered from the front desk and perform actions such as messaging both guests and staff members, checking guests in/out, viewing room status in real-time, and documenting maintenance items. Chorum Mobile is truly device and platform agnostic, meaning it can be used on any tablet or smartphone. Security permissions allow properties to maintain complete control over who has access to the mobile app and what functions they can utilize. In addition, Chorum Mobile leverages cloud technology to ensure all data is updated and available in real-time. Read Jonas Chorum Reviews HotelRunner launches its third generation booking engine With HotelRunner’s third-generation Booking Engine, properties can market their property online by uploading photographs, writing room descriptions, entering the room details and amenities. They can manage their direct reservations and availabilities with ease and provide secure payment methods to their website visitors. HotelRunner provides properties a code that they copy and paste onto their website. This code links their property’s website to their HotelRunner inventory, which allows them to display their rates and availability, promotions, packages and offers in real-time. Therefore, hoteliers can easily showcase their inventory and the website visitors can book a room seamlessly. Apart from the completely customizable appearance and infrastructure, with its minimalist and effective design, the new Booking Engine will encourage potential guests to make a reservation, resulting in a boost in reservation revenues. HotelRunner’s third-generation Booking Engine is different from its competitors in many ways: Seamless real-time inventory update, completely customizable appearance, availability calendar, and packages and offers tab. The properties can set market-specific payment methods and pricing, upload 360° virtual tour photos, set all their rate types, and create campaigns seasonally, integrate virtual POS or online payment systems to provide a secure booking experience. However, the newest, the most functional and unique feature of HotelRunner’s third-generation Booking Engine is the “Recommendation” feature. With this newly-added feature, the most suitable alternative room and price option for their guests is displayed as a recommendation. Read HotelRunner Reviews -- Did we miss an innovative launch? Let us know via live chat!
Have you ever thought about what hospitality means to you -- and how it applies in different areas of your life? What does hospitality mean at work? With family at home? In line at the grocery store? What about with friends out at dinner or your kid’s soccer game? In many ways, hospitality is contextual; how exactly you exhibit it depends on the situation. What it means to be ‘hospitable’ is fairly universal and cross-cultural: being friendly, warm, welcoming, and helpful to others, especially strangers. That last bit is why hospitality remains important after all these years: it comes down to basic human interactions of being genuine, generous and sincere. When practiced every day, hospitality leads to a deeper sense of connection and belonging with the people around us -- and also happens to have immense health benefits, such as reducing stress and protection from illness. One of the most challenging elements of hospitality is that it is simultaneously personal and universal. There are certain non-negotiables: warmth, humility, the ability to listen and solve problems. And then there’s the spectrum of interpretations for each operation: casual vs formal, familiar vs distanced, laid-back vs luxury, convenience vs cost. As we’ll see, it’s this blend of generalized expectations and personal preferences that define the industry today. What is Hospitality? Expert (and Dictionary) Definitions As an industry, the hospitality industry was born out of casual arrangements between locals and weary travelers looking for a safe place to rest their horses and lay their heads. A basic meal and some ale was also usually a part of the bargain. These casual stays then evolved to become more than just a place to stay. Serving an increasingly-mobile class of merchants, nobles, scholars, and priests, the hospitality industry was born. The word hospitality evolved from the Latin hospitalitis, which referred to the relationship between guest and host, as it took its root from hospes, the word for host, guest, stranger, or visitor. Thus hospitality is the act of welcoming guests or strangers (Princeton) or “entertainment of strangers or guests without reward or with kind and generous liberality.” (Webster Dictionary). As a human-centered philosophy, hospitality has been infused in most major religions and cultures. The ancient Greek concept of Xenia refers to the guest-host relationship in “which human beings demonstrate their virtue or piety by extending hospitality to a humble stranger.” The New Testament promotes the virtues of hospitality, in which locals generously take in travelling Christians unable to find safe places to sleep, while Hinduism features a principle of the “guest is God. ” So how does that guest-centric history relate to the way that today’s titans approach hospitality? What does hospitality really mean to those at the top of the industry? It’s about trust and empowering staff, first and foremost. Restaurateur Danny Meyer, who recently announced a partnership with Hyatt’s newest brand Caption, centers his philosophy of “enlightened hospitality” on hiring great employees. The right staff translates directly into exceptional experiences, which is why employees are the most important stakeholder group, followed by guests, the community, suppliers, and investors. Danny explains why in his book Setting the Table: “The only way we can consistently earn raves, win repeat business, and develop bonds of loyalty with our guests is to ensure that our own team members feel jazzed about coming to work. Being jazzed is a combination of feeling motivated, enthusiastic, confident, proud, and at peace with the choice to work on our team.” Of course, labor is a top struggle for hoteliers, so it’s more important than ever to consider your working conditions and building a culture that retains top talent. It's about understanding technology’s place in the modern hospitality mix. Hospitality legend Ian Schrager offers a simple explanation for the longevity of his brands, such as Morgans hotels: it’s the product, not the technology, that defines the guest experience: “It’s always about the product. It’s not about the reservation system, or about all the other things that generic properties concern themselves with because they have nothing distinctive to offer. It’s about the product.” And that means using technology intentionally, he tells Skift: “Why can’t we automate the execution in the hotel business, but bring back the amenities through the services and the visuals of food and beverage and the entertainment factor? Make it as efficient as possible so you can pass those savings on to the guests.” It’s about touchpoints and micro-experiences that make each guest feel valued and at “home.” Ian Schrager distils this down into four words: “taking care of people,” while Joie de Vivre founder, author and former head of hospitality at Airbnb Chip Conley sees the goal of hospitality as “turning strangers into friends,” which is why he chose to call hotel staff “hosts.” Bill Marriott echoes similar sentiments, saying: “This is what it's all about: Taking care of people, making them feel good when they're away from home, making them feel that they're appreciated and recognizing them. You can't do that with a computer. You can only do that with personal contact and that's what we talk about all the time — the importance of personal contact.” It's about building something greater than the sum of its parts. Hospitality is where warmth and genuine sincerity meet to create something greater than the sum of its parts. For each of the people quoted here, hospitality was a calling, a passion that not only became their life's work but inspired generations of hospitality professionals as well. As Ian Schrager frames it, the secret to a great hotel is putting all of these pieces together, from design to technology to talent, in a way that “one plus one equals three.” In a lot of ways, hospitality is similar to Hollywood, insofar as it’s about motivating a diverse group of professionals to create something none of them could create on their own. Liz Lambert, founder of Bunkhouse Group, calls it “magic” when a hotel becomes part of the fabric of a place, saying: “This is the trend that most hospitality companies are trying to figure out: How to create real experiences. There’s no playbook for it. It’s really about the creativity and shared passion of the group doing the work.” What Isn’t Hospitality? Knowing the Difference So what's the opposite of hospitality? Is it, as the thesaurus suggests, frostiness, unfriendliness, ungraciousness, coldness, abruptness? Yes, indeed. As isolated facets of the guest experience, calling someone by their first name is not hospitality. Neither is butchering their last name, avoiding eye contact while typing into a computer or asking “have you stayed with us before” to a loyal guest. Hospitality also isn't a checklist, something to be completed with detached operational efficiency. “It's remarkable to me how many businesses shine brightly when it comes to facing the tasks that emanate all the warmth of a cool fluorescent light.” -Danny Meyer In other words, hospitality isn't the same thing as service. It’s about knowing the difference between service and hospitality -- and delivering on both. Service is transactional (the tasks of running a hotel) while hospitality is genuine (the human element of running a hotel). In Setting the Table, Danny Meyer underscores the importance of balancing both service and hospitality to deliver exceptional experiences: “understanding the distinction between service and hospitality has been at the foundation of our success. Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipients feel. It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top.” With the recent rise of brands that see themselves more as tech companies delivering services rather than hospitality companies delivering experiences, such as Sonder and Lyric, there’s a very real risk of conflating service delivery with true hospitality -- and potentially watering down the core principles that have been driving the industry for centuries. One of the dangers of the commodification of the hotel industry (due to the stubborn price-based mentality exacerbated by online comparison shopping tools) is the equal commodification of the guest. When guests choose hotels mostly by price, it's easy to detach from the hospitality mindset and see guests simply as dollar signs contributing to KPIs in a spreadsheet. What is Hospitality Management? Applying Concepts to the Profession Many of the precepts underpinning hospitality management as a profession are based on the history of the industry, which stretches back to 15,000 B.C., the first documented instance of one tribe hosting another at the Lascaux caves in France. In the late Middle Ages, as merchants like Marco Polo explored the Far East, Mongolia’s Ghengis Khan developed a road system to move letters and goods through his massive territories, building thousands of resting places, known as “posthouses.” These inns began to welcome merchants, scholars, messengers and other traveling elites, and hospitality began to flourish alongside global commerce. By the late 1700s, the industrial revolution had accelerated the industry’s growth across all major cities and trade routes, leading to an explosion of professional hotels in the 1800s. By the 1900s, luxury hotels arose to cater to the world’s industrialists and the newly-rich capitalists, who began traveling in earnest as aviation facilitated global business travel, culminating in a major hotel boom starting in the 1980s that, in many respects, continues today. In those last 150 years, the industry expanded from the core principles of hospitality -- welcoming guests with a friendly smile, a safe space, and a comfortable room -- to hotels targeting all types of guests what different amenities, service levels, and price points. The maturing of hotels meant that hotel management was now a bonafide profession, with global appeal, and supported by schools like the Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne (founded in 1893). For those who aspired to manage hotels, it quickly became a requirement to learn about financial management, hotel marketing, and staff selection and training. Hotel management was now a real profession -- and a good one at that! Connecting Current Trends to Essential Hospitality Traits Today, successful hotel management centers around understanding how to harness current technology to leverage trends and deliver hospitality consistently. For a framework, the latest tech trends in hospitality can be coupled with their corresponding hospitality traits Trend: Airbnb’s continued professionalization Hospitality Trait: Anticipating guest needs. As more travelers turn to professionally-managed short-term rentals, hotels must do an outstanding job at anticipating guest needs and showing the timeless value of on-premises hospitality. There are certain things that even a professional rental can't match: a warm smile and greeting of hotel staff, immediate help when you need it, and someone there to anticipate your needs. Trend: Mobile devices everywhere Hospitality Trait: Using welcoming words and exuding warmth with the “10 and 5 rule.” The 10 and 5 rule says that staff should acknowledge and warmly smile to any guests within 10 feet, and make a sincere, audible greeting within 5 feet. Staff should strive for each interaction to create a genuine connection with guests; in a digital world, analog interactions carry more weight. Trend: The talent crunch Hospitality Trait: Good communications skills -- especially listening. As turnover rises and it becomes harder to hold onto talent, hotels must train staff on the power of micro-communications. Danny Meyer says “hospitality is a dialogue” which “requires listening...and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, appropriate response.” Train your staff to provide prompt, responsive, and specific feedback rather than cold platitudes. For instance, rather than “we are sorry for any inconvenience” (which suggests that the guest may actually not be inconvenienced), the response would be: “ I'm so sorry you can't take a shower. Maintenance will be up in 10 minutes. I'll follow up in 20 minutes to make sure that it’s fixed.” Even as these trends rise and fall, the core principles remain constant. After all, the hospitality industry has been around for thousands of years. It's one of the world's oldest industries and remains a bright spot for cultural exchange, business development, and good, old-fashioned rest-and-relaxation. Hospitality is a shared global language that has become a fundamental part of the shared human experience. Guests remember not just the standard service but the extraordinary hospitality that makes them feel welcome and appreciated. That’s what it’s all about!
In this article we'll cover the basics of SWOT analysis and give examples on how small businesses can leverage this strategy to grow their bottom lines with a specific focus on the hotel industry. Too often, hotel managers switch software reactively or because their existing solution broke down. This is the equivalent of waiting to hire their next team member until the entire existing team has quit. Rather than be reactive, managers should proactively analyze their hotel businesses to identify weaknesses and opportunities then align hotel software procurement around those goals. Rather than deploy new software as a bandaid to a broken system, a reaction to a negative review, or an impulse purchase influenced by marketing campaigns - you should perform careful analysis to decide where you can make pre-emptive investments before such problems arise. Smart technology procurement starts with a rigorous SWOT analysis. SWOT is a tool that helps assess your businesses’ unique opportunities in the context of hospitality trends and get a better sense of where to improve operations before making a purchase. SWOT can help your hotel align its technology investments with key business goals and needs. Use your SWOT analysis to get a snapshot of your hotel’s strengths and weaknesses before investing in software that helps you mitigate risk or capitalize on market opportunities. Once you understand where you’ve been and where you want to go, you can then find the right tools and partners to help you get there. Here’s how to get started. What is a SWOT Analysis? A SWOT analysis is a framework for evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your hotel business. The methodology originates from researchers at Stanford in the 1960s and 70s and has since become common practice at Fortune 500 companies and startups alike. A SWOT can be used on an organization-wide level, or for individual projects within a team. Most businesses use a SWOT analysis to determine if the project or campaign is aligned with the broader organizational benchmarks. For example, a company might perform a SWOT to assess if an online advertising campaign will be worth the investment in comparison to other ongoing initiatives. SWOT analysis definition SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By identifying these elements around a particular business decision, you can make a more informed choice that uses resources wisely and leads to better outcomes. “Strengths” refers to the tangible and intangible advantages your hotel has at its disposal. This could include your stellar employees, your brand reputation, or your hotel’s location. “Weaknesses” refers to elements that hold back your hotel from growth or optimal performance. Understanding your weaknesses involves some critical self-evaluation: weaknesses may include budget limitations, lack of in-room technology, poor online reviews, lacking certain facilities or an outdated website. “Opportunities” refers to things you could do to increase bookings, improve guest satisfaction scores, or boost your profits. Research about market trends and look to guest reviews for ideas of where you can open up new streams of revenue or reach new markets. “Threats” refers to anything that poses a risk to your hotel. Airbnb, for some hotels, is considered a threat. List out every strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat you can think of, both externally and internally. This will take a fair amount of market research, a deep dive into your hotel data and an investigation into your hotel’s past performance but the work will be well worth your time. As the old adage goes, “to a ship with no harbor, no wind is the right wind”. A proper SWOT analysis gives your hotel a harbor and guiding light which will save both time and money in the long run when contrasted with making reactive decisions. Next, transfer your elements into a grid-like matrix with four quadrants, one for each category. This format offers a clear snapshot of where you can adjust, invest, and play to your strengths. “Ideally, there are two stages of action you should take upon completing a SWOT analysis,” writes one expert. “First, you should attempt to match your strengths with your opportunities. Next, you should try to convert weaknesses into strengths.” Here's an illustration of how to implement SWOT in your business from Wordstream Applying SWOT analysis to your small business and hotel Many small business owners think that SWOT analysis is important only for larger corporations but that couldn't be further from the truth. SWOT can be impactful in every aspect of life and even your personal life. All progress starts with a foundation of self awareness: knowing what you're good at and what you're not, understanding your unique selling proposition, etc. The first half of the SWOT analysis (the SW) helps orient around your internal capabilities. The second half (the OT) helps identify market opportunities to be exploited. By identifying market opportunities and exploiting them by leveraging your strengths you will outperform the competition. One of the most challenging parts of conducting the SWOT is identifying your hotel’s weaknesses. Start with these metrics to understand where your hotel’s strengths and weaknesses lie, and then brainstorm tactics that can turn weaknesses into strengths. Include the following KPIs in your SWOT analysis. 1. Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR), Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Occupancy. Use STR reports to get the industry benchmarks with data from 63,000 hotels across 180 countries. If the data shows your property is behind the compset on occupancy, for example, you might want to consider using a metasearch management software like D-Edge MetaGenius to maximize reach on metasearch websites and increase occupancy moving forward. More bookings on channels like TripAdvisor or Trivago means less reliance on these third-party sites that diminish your revenue. MetaGenius can manage TripAdvisor, Google Hotel Ads, Trivago, and Kayak all in one intuitive dashboard. It gives you the power to increase the value of each guest booking. 2. EBITDA margin Your hotel’s EBITDA margin adds back depreciation and amortization to operating profit and then takes that figure as a percentage of revenue. It’s an acronym for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Compare your EBITDA margin to others in the industry through industry trend reports from brokers like CBRE and JLL. If your margins are above market averages you are in a great spot, if they’re below average you’ll need to diagnose the root causes and develop strategies to frame this weakness as an opportunity. If margins are low but RevPAR and ADR are strong relative to the compset you’ve likely got a cost drain in your P&L. How does your staff composition look in relation to the local compset? What is your distribution mix? 3. % of bookings made directly Direct bookings are more profitable than bookings that come through a third party site or OTA. Get your KPI by asking your digital marketing agency for the percentage of bookings that come through your hotel website. Compare that statistic against Phocuswright and Kalibri Labs benchmark reports to see where you stand. If your business mix schews more towards OTA bookings relative to broader segment data then you might want to consider revamping your website or search marketing efforts. You might also want to leverage a tool like D-Edge Smart Channel Manager to manage rates and room availability on hundreds of channels and ensure that you’re consistently offering the best possible rate on your hotel website. 4. Online reviews and rankings Look to hotel review sites like TripAdvisor or Trivago to see where you rank against your competitors. If you’re hurting for five-star reviews, remedy this weakness using reputation management software like D-Edge Sentinel that aggregates reviews from OTAs, social media, and metasearch to show hoteliers what their guests are saying. The dashboard uses an algorithm that adapts to reviews over time, suggesting keywords to use in targeted marketing campaigns and providing insights on areas where your hotel might improve 5. Website traffic Diagnose your website traffic using tools like SEMRush, Similar Web, Alexa. The more traffic your hotel website receives, the more likely it is that you can convert to (profitable) bookings. Analyze your website traffic in relation to hotels in your compset. If your hotel’s web traffic is below average, you’ll need to improve this metric. Dive deeper to determine whether it’s an SEO (search engine optimization), social referrals or paid acquisition problem. The tools mentioned above will show approximate amounts of organic traffic. If your traffic is weak you’ll want to focus efforts on improving your website structure and producing higher value content. Have your marketer create technical SEO landing pages around popular local attractions or consider creating blog content around popular live events and conferences. Once you’ve cleaned up your hotel website’s SEO it’s time to analyze search marketing and display remarketing. Use the tools mentioned above to gather spend data and ask yourself whether you’re investing enough in paid acquisition. Paid acquisition and advertising is highly complex, so don’t try this on your own - you’ll want to work with an experienced practitioner and digital marketing agency partner and ideally one who has experience in your local market. Not sure whether these metrics are indicative of strengths or weaknesses? Use last year’s results, or compare your data against competitors to see where you stand. For new investments, compare your budget forecast to the costs of adding a hotel technology tool. Instead of simply throwing money at the problem, invest with a vendor who can pinpoint exactly where you need to improve. What next? Tying it all together The SWOT analysis leads you to understand where you need to remedy weaknesses and play to strengths. Analysis should begin with a deep dive into goals, competencies and historical performance. Layer onto this analysis with tactics to help turn weakness to strength and threats into opportunities. Tactics are often based on a reallocation of resources or human capital and the Swiss Army Knife of hotel strategy is technology. Identify which software categories can help meet your goals then once you know what software you need, identify all the vendors who can help. Some hotels prefer specialists with single-point solutions; others prefer vendors like D-Edge who can provide solutions all across the guest journey. No matter which path you take, make sure you carefully consider your hotel’s position before making a procurement. On the surface SWOT seems simplistic to most learning the concept but it's actually quite complex when executed properly. The main benefit of SWOT is that it gives your business a framework to review your company and external market conditions in order to realign your business strategy and maximize results. SWOT results can be extremely overwhelming after a brainstorm session with your team. Score each opportunity based on: (a) Feasibility - how likely is it that you can succeed given your strengths and weaknesses) and (b) Impact - i.e. if you succeed, how impactful will that success be on business results. Once you've scored based on feasibility and impact you should sort order and prioritize the highest expected value opportunities then start with the biggest opportunities first and work your way down the list. SWOT analysis will help you prioritize decisions and resource allocation to run a more efficient hotel business. By prioritizing resources more effectively you'll drop more to the bottom line. By checking any business decision against the priorities that you develop in your SWOT analysis you will save time and internal conflict because every decision will have a clear evaluation rubric - this is especially important when shifting focus or resources between departments.
Some time ago, I wrote a piece called The WeWork Effect in Hospitality. In that article I argued that the public perception around the alternative accomodations market is misinformed and that those perceptions have been fueled by venture capitalists drunk on irrational exuberance. Venture capital is a critical part of society and progress. The problem isn’t venture capital, it’s excess. As with most things in life, excess can turn even positivity into toxicity. Sonder’s recent announcement about it’s foray into the traditional hotel business is just the latest support for this argument. An excess of venture capital has encouraged entrepreneurs to seek out tech valuations for real estate companies and it’s going to have devastating effects on the industry that they're allegedly "disrupting". Up until recently, VCs could do no wrong in the eyes of the public but after after a series of high profile flops like WeWork and Uber, institutional public equity investors have removed the emerald glasses. The problem is that many of the overfunded businesses today are trying to disrupt hyper competitive markets but few (if any) actually have a true point of differentiation. Most of these businesses are shifting share and not creating real value by growing the market or making it more efficient. Uber is a controversial company right now but the value it’s created for consumers is undeniable. The societal impact of Uber on metropolitan areas and drivers is still up for debate but at the very least it has provided an unprecedented level of convenience for consumers which means it's worth the risk of blowing up the traditional market in my opinion. Uber also has the potential to decrease car ownership over the long haul which has a positive environmental impact. Most of these so called 'alternative accommodations' players are neither adding unique value nor are they delivering material innovations to the hotel industry like Uber has within transportation. They are undercutting prices and killing hotel industry jobs. This would actually be ok if they were delivering innovation because they'd be making travel more accessible to consumers in a sustainable way but my sense is that isn't the case and I share why below. Many of these companies lack a basic understanding with regards to the history of the hospitality industry. VCs jam hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars into their startup coffers thinking that money itself is enough of a competitive moat. Entrepreneurs then pray that their startups will identify a long term competitive advantage before the game of musical chairs is up and they walk away from their billion dollar companies with nothing after liquidation preferences and dilution. Perhaps that’s why WeWork founder Adam Neumann cashed out to the tune of $700M. Unfortunately these kinds of companies almost never have enough incentive to dig deep and find their competitive advantage because they feel sheltered by venture cash on their balance sheets and are encouraged by the mainstream media telling them that they can do no wrong. These massive funding rounds usually start out as a positive since they allow those businesses to scale up quickly and attract talent. It turns dark pretty quickly though. Those massive funding rounds create unreasonable growth expectations that often aren’t supported by the markets these companies operate in when they employ sustainable business models. These expectations can only be achieved through questionable business practices. Just recently Softbank backed OYO had its CEO booked on cheating charges for not making payments to supplier partners. Even more recently, it's been reported that early OYO investors are trying to take money off the table which is generally viewed as a bearish signal for their opinion of where the business is going having seen confidential figures. This is just one example of poor decision making while chasing growth at all costs. Twitter commentary on rumors of OYO's recent self dealings Long term liabilities and short term assets Regus has operated in the coworking space for decades and has an attractive franchise business model. While franchising doesn’t allow the Regus business to scale as quickly as a firm like WeWork that assumes long term liabilities on its balance sheet in pursuit of blitzscaling, it has allowed Regus to become a viable business that will be around for years to come. Sonder is in exactly the same place as WeWork and now they're trying to steer away from disaster by getting into hotels and specifically the management/franchise business. Equity Properties founder and real estate mogul Sam Zell said it best, “We’ve seen companies do this a million times before, take on long term liabilities and short term assets. Look at what that did to the Savings and Loan business in a downturn. It was a disaster. In the end, this craze will be no different.” The latest announcement that Sonder is getting into the traditional hotel business is just the latest evidence of this issue. “We have seen how bad the reception was for WeWork doing leases and how it eats into profitability, especially in the initial phase when the company signs all these leases.” ~Mandeep Singh, Bloomberg Intelligence "What happens to the New York and Chicago commercial-real-estate markets where WeWork was the biggest and the second-biggest tenants? What happens to IPOs? The reverberations here are going to be pretty dramatic." ~NYU Professor Scott Galloway Sonder effectively went out to investors and said “See what WeWork is doing in office, we’re going to do that in hotels.” Investors ate that up until recently. As it turns out, Sonder's core business model is actually worse than Marriott's. Even more absurd than comparing to WeWork, Sonder went as far as to liken itself to Amazon in its Series D pitch deck but Amazon and Sonder have nothing in common. In it’s Series D pitch deck Sonder claimed that it’s the “Amazon of Hotels”, is a gross mischaracterization of the business Expectations dropping and Sonder is changing its business model Sonder’s 2018 revenue hit $100M and at that time the firm was forecasting $400M in 2019. Then in July of 2019 the firm raised a $225M Series D projecting $313M in forward 12-months revenue (2019/2020) meaning that it was nowhere close to hitting the number it previously forecasted. Sonder founder Francis Davidson then went on to tell Bloomberg that his firm would be larger than Marriott by 2025. Even if Sonder achieves more rooms than Marriott by 2025, which is a long shot when expanding into "small hotels off the beaten path", Sonder is unlikely to come close to Marriott's $5.28B of revenue in 2019 growing at 3% YOY. So not only are revenue expectations dropping but multiples are compressing at a rapid clip in public markets after WeWork got brought down to earth. This is a perfect storm for companies like Sonder especially as they approach IPO and begin to court public market investors. In response to the recent WeWork fiasco, Sonder announced its bold new vision for the future of the hotel industry: create more hotels. Marriott, like Regus operates on a franchise business model. The entire hotel industry started going “asset light” in the late 90s and early 2000s understanding that franchising is a better business since it can grow without huge sums of capital and can withstand a downturn by not holding real estate on its balance sheet while valuations are dropping. Here we are 20 years later and Sonder has finally caught on. So now that Sonder is moving to operate in the same business as Marriott, what’s its point of differentiation? Well, it depends who you ask. If you ask Sonder they’ll tell you something like what founder Francis Davidson told Bloomberg: “Sonder can charge 20% less than a four-star hotel, using technology to reduce costs and provide guests with a seamless on-app check-in, keyless entry and a mobile concierge. Our big edge over hotels is that their model hasn’t evolved in the last 40 years. Sonder’s units are typically found in neighborhoods that major hotels don’t usually occupy.” None of the technology Sonder has built is new, these services have been installed in hotels for years and are widely available at a low cost Companies like Sonder often try to sell real estate at tech multiples. After all who wouldn't want to sell on an aggressive revenue multiple instead of modest EBITDA multipliers based on real profits? The racket is simple, sell real estate then talk about your proprietary tech and voila you've got a billion dollar company. The reality is that sophisticated investors in rational markets see beyond the sales pitch. If a company's sales come from hotel rooms it gets a hotel room multiplier. Some desperate hotel companies have tried to play the same game. When Red Lion realized that hotel owners no longer wanted to have the Red Lion flag on their properties, they tried to tell a tech company story to investors so they could offset slowed growth in the franchise business with the illusion of a tech company future for the faltering hotel chain. To summarize in Sonder's own words, they claim three "differentiators" from hotels: Sonder has unique technology: No it doesn’t The hotel model hasn’t changed in 40 years: Yes, it has. And no, this isn’t a point of differentiation. Sonder units are in different neighborhoods than hotels: This is not defensible and if it is so great, why is Sonder now getting into traditional hotels? Hotels already have mobile check-in via app, keyless entry and mobile concierge. How exactly does a mobile concierge enable a hotel to charge 20% less than competitors even if it is unique? To the point that the hotel model hasn’t changed in 40 years - that couldn’t be further from the truth as the hotel industry shifted to asset light. Back in the 1990s hotel companies like Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton owned real estate - that’s not the case today. While asset light isn’t as sexy for the media to talk about as a ‘virtual concierge’ it’s actually a massive innovation that completely changed the trajectory of hospitality. The best part is that this innovation is real, not “virtually real”. Davidson’s last point is that Sonder operates in unique neighborhoods. Could you imagine the CEO of Burger King getting asked on an analyst call “How are you different from McDonalds?” to which he replies, “We are in different neighborhoods than McDonalds.” It would never happen. Further, by using its venture capital to make a traditional hotel push Sonder itself is admitting that it thinks these neighborhoods and assets are attractive. "After raising $225 million in a funding round in July, valuing the company at more than $1 billion, Sonder decided to veer away from its traditional short-term rental model and elbow its way into the hotel industry.” ~Bloomberg So is Sonder a vacation rental business, a hotel business or a tech company? VCs, Sonder and mainstream media might not realize it today, but Sonder is a hotel company and if it reaches scale it could seriously hurt the economics of the industry that it wants to play in by irrationally undercutting prices without providing substantial innovation. Sonder has undeniably built a great brand and the founders are truly talented individuals. Nothing can be taken away from operators who have created something of such massive scale in such a short period of time. Despite all of the public criticism lately I say the same about WeWork founder Adam Neumann. My only hope is that the mainstream media and investors stop pretending these companies are something that they’re not. We need to stop killing markets without bringing material innovations to offset less favorable economics. If Sonder came out as a hotel company, traded at hotel company valuations and just plain ran better hotels than old school operators it would be a huge win for the industry but the path it's pursuing is dangerous for it's employees, investors and the industry as a whole. Alternative lodging sits between branded hotels and homeshare Sonder is entering markets and undercutting hotels not because it has a better model or technology but because it has cash in the bank from venture capitalists. When that capital dries up and investors focus their attention on the next shiny object, the hotel market will have been negatively impacted for no reason at all. Sonder will have taken from the industry without giving back. Companies like Sonder are not revolutionizing hotels, they are hotels. If they succeed in the end, they're likely to destroy hotel industry jobs (one of the biggest employers globally) and industry economics. Ultimately consumers may benefit from cheaper rooms in the short term, but over time hotels will go out of business because they can't compete, hotel development will be less attractive for investors because margins will be compressed and in the end consumers will end up paying more over the long haul. My unsolicited advice to Sonder and its peers Pick a path. Either: (a) Double down on hotels and focus on building the best hotel brand around or (b) Focus on building a great vacation rentals business with consistent high quality units and become AirBnB's most important channel partner. Focusing on both just to scale for the sake of scaling is dangerous and the implications will burn not just your late stage shareholders but the industry that you are supposedly trying make a positive impact on. Think deeply about your impact on the communities that you operate in. What happens to all of those leases when your investors decide they no longer want to foot the bill? What happens to all those hotels who laid off staff or even shut down because markets were oversupplied with unreasonably cheap inventory? Innovation takes risk and that's ok, but if you're not really innovating but keep telling people that you are - a lot of people will get hurt.
On October 16th and 17th hoteliers from around the world will flock to the world’s entertainment capital in Los Angeles for INDIE Congress 2019, hosted by the Independent Lodging Congress, which has quickly become hospitality's most glamorous and diverse industry event. Indie Congress is the cure to boring hotel conferences that have become status quo. The conference features disruptive speakers such as Ace Hotels’ Brad Wilson and JDV founder Chip Conley. It’s funny that we call hotel chains “brands” because while they have strong parent company brand affinity (e.g. Marriott, Hilton, etc.) the individual portfolio ‘brands’ rarely resonate in the hearts and minds of consumers. There are exceptions in the luxury segment such as St. Regis and Ritz Carlton but what imagery do you associate when you hear Homewood Suites? How about Comfort Inn? Bleeding edge hotel brands are being created in the independent sector with pioneers like Bunkhouse Hotels (Standard Hotels), Sydell Group and Mama Shelter. Those interested in learning about building real brands would be wise to check out Indie Congress next month since all of the top dogs will be there. Old school chain operators view hotels like factories that process widgets and those widgets just happen to be guests. This “factory mentality” worked 20 years ago when all that guests expected was a consistent experience and that dynamic created an explosion of chain hotels. During that same time period competition has ratcheted up and so have guest expectations. Today’s guests desire authenticity and don’t want to be treated like factory widgets. It’s no wonder they increasingly want to stay in AirBnBs. So why did INDIE Congress select LA for the show? Los Angeles hotel properties are constantly vying to host celebrities, awards show after parties and more. In order to secure that valuable business they have been forced to learn from Hollywood or perish. Specifically, LA hotels have cracked the code of what it means to create truly unique experiences and build blockbuster brands. “Some of the strongest hospitality innovation in the world is coming out of Los Angeles where hotels have followed the lead of Hollywood Studios who know how to deliver truly differentiated guest experiences. Hollywood is increasingly forced to create blockbusters like Avengers Endgame that bring moviegoers out of their Netflix streaming slumbers and into theaters. Hotel brands like Hoxton and Ace are doing the same thing and are wooing guests away from substitutes like AirBnB,” says Hotel Tech Report CEO Jordan Hollander. Even if your hotel isn’t in Los Angeles you should be taking notes from Hollywood and the entertainment industry - because it’s not so different from ours. ILC visits 5 hotels over the course of 3 days (pictured: Hotel Figueroa) Hollywood’s big lesson on how to handle disruption As in home streaming technology continues to improve, Hollywood has increasingly needed to address similar challenges to the hotel industry. Hollywood and hospitality are both hyper competitive and rapidly changing industries being disrupted by digital distribution and disintermediation. The explosion of streaming services has pushed content creators to deliver mind-blowing experiences where the rise of alternative accommodations has forced hotel brands to step up just the same or risk fading into obscurity. At Indie Congress, hoteliers will go behind the scenes with Jeph Loeb, Marvel’s head of television. Marvel is Hollywood’s golden child and Disney’s crown jewel. Marvel’s television division is spending record levels to create cinema like experiences at home with a slew of hit shows like Daredevil, The Punisher and Agent Carter. Los Angeles has no tolerance for boring hotels and has consequently become a hub for blockbuster experiences. Petite Hermitage features a Soho House style members only club (only more exclusive) with weekend tarot card readings and jazzy burlesque shows. The Magic Castle features an invite only black tie magic show and the Hollywood Roosevelt famously hosted Beecher’s Madhouse (now shuttered), a debaucherous nightclub and variety show frequented by the likes of Miley Cyrus and The Kardashians. Admittedly not all hotels are in markets that can support these kinds of experiences but every hotel team can channel their “inner Hollywood” to bring differentiated, entertaining and memorable experiences to their guests. Cookie cutter brands don’t cut it anymore The irony of it all is that the great brands of tomorrow are being created by independent hotels today. The next generation of hospitality brand pioneers will share their creativity at Indie Congress with hopes to inspire a generation of hoteliers that say no to ‘boring’ as a brand. Many of the world’s bleeding edge hotel groups have flagship properties in Los Angeles such as: Nobu, Mama Shelter, Hoxton, Ace, Standard. The list goes on and on. Many of these “Marvels of Hospitality” will also be in attendance at the show. Hospitality legend Chip Conley imparts wisdom upon INDIE Congress attendees Indie Congress has strategically chosen to visit many of these spaces during the event and each venue has been hand selected to stop boredom in its tracks. The conference starts with a ‘saloon crawl’ to edgy venues like the Ace and Hoxton. The crawl was designed to encourage attendees to mingle and share ideas instead of getting stuck in one conversation that happens too often at conferences. The conference itself will be held in 3 separate and equally stunning spaces. The geography and the flow of the show were designed to help attendees bring Hollywood like experiences to hoteliers from around the world. The hospitality industry too often falls victim to cookie cutter. Even if you’ve got a 3-star property in Milwaukee you can bottle the ethos of Hollywood and use it to make adjustments that will help you beat out the compset and have fun while doing it. The hotel industry has developed a pretty twisted sense of the word brand. Chains are extremely effective at scaling consistency but culture isn’t something that scales easily. The real hospitality pioneers like Ace’s Brad Wilson, Palihouse’s Avi Brosh and Viceroy’s Bill Walshe will be in LA next month so be sure to get your ticket before it’s too late.
Operations Category Press Releases
15 technology companies have come together to create transparency for hotel technology buyers around the world. The initiative, facilitated by Hotel Tech Report, rates hotel software vendor customer support processes on more than 30 key variables to help buyers make better partner decisions. Each year hotel owners lose billions of dollars due to software downtime and unused features. By leveraging the new Global Support Certification, hoteliers can confidently enter new technology partnerships with transparency into the support systems that are in place to mitigate such issues. Software inevitably goes down and great customer support is the best defense against steep losses. Hoteliers who work with Hotel Tech Report Support Certified vendors also know that those partners have invested in training materials and content to ensure that their teams have everything they need to realize successful outcomes. The certification creates accountability in the vendor community to maintain the highest levels of service for clients through an annual audit by analysts at Hotel Tech Report, the world’s largest technology research platform and online community for the global hotel industry. Leading firms such as Mews Systems, OTA Insight and IDeaS Revenue Solutions have been key supporters of this new industry standard which paves the path for better relationships between technology firms and their hotel clients. “We initially came to Hotel Tech Report with a simple concept. Our hypothesis was that companies with great customer support would be happy to grant full transparency around their support KPIs with Hotel Tech Report and that companies with subpar support would never give that kind of access. The team at HTR has brought that concept to life and we’re proud to give full transparency into how we engage, educate and support our customers on a global scale. Ultimately this support certification is an easy way for hoteliers to identify the companies who really treat their clients as partners - it’s a gamechanger for the industry,” says Richard Valtr, Founder of Mews Systems. Decision makers at hotel groups often spend months researching software feature functionality and pricing - but rarely are they able to develop deep insights into how the relationship changes and the level of support their team will receive once the contract is signed. “Hoteliers are constantly rated by parties like JD Power and AAA on the service they deliver to guests which ultimately helps guests find the best hotels. With this initiative, hoteliers can now benefit from the peace of mind that comes with knowing their future vendors have not only been pre-vetted for professional customer support prior to contract lock-in but they can also easily learn about which tools and processes are most important and which one’s prospective vendors have invested in to help them succeed beyond deal close.” ~Adam Hollander, Hotel Tech Report Poor customer support is incredibly costly for both hotel software buyers and sellers. For buyers, poor customer support from technology vendors can lead to lost revenue, poor guest satisfaction and weak ROIs on technology spend. “When a booking engine goes down hoteliers can lose thousands of dollars each minute. What if it takes 24-hours to reach their vendor’s support team and fix the issue? Hoteliers rarely anticipate, let alone, calculate these kinds of costs when signing up with a new vendor because they’re out of sight and out of mind. Once it happens to them they go into a panic and wish they knew ahead of time,” says Hollander. Another benefit of strong customer engagement processes is maximization of software feature functionality. A study conducted on 3.8M software users shows that $30B is wasted each year on unused software in the U.S. alone. Vendors that meet Hotel Tech Report’s support certification have been pre-vetted for the tools and processes necessary to ensure that hotel teams will be properly trained on all feature functionality which ultimately helps them maximize their investments in software and achieve higher ROIs on their software spend. "45% of software features across the SaaS sector never get used. This is a huge waste. While OTA Insight's usage stats show that the intuitive features in our tools are very well used, we strive for more than just delivering software that works properly; we're committed to ensuring that clients can maximize their investments by ensuring our products and functionality are simple, intuitive and add value. With a heavy focus on customer feedback and input, this informs our ongoing product development," says James Parsons of OTA Insight. Founding members of the Support Certification rallied across the globe to bring this initiative to life. Each founding member granted Hotel Tech Report access to their internal systems for the team to rate service delivery with its proprietary support certification framework. Founding Members of the Global Support Certification include: Mews Systems (Prague) IDeaS (Minneapolis) OTA Insight (London) TrustYou (Munich) Travel Tripper (New York) Hotelchamp (Amsterdam) Oaky (Amsterdam) Revinate (San Francisco) D-EDGE (Paris) Pace (London) Beekeeper (Zurich) RevControl (Eindhoven) Hotel Effectiveness (Atlanta) GuestRevu (Port Alfred) Stardekk (Brugge) The Global Support Certification is now live for hotel technology suppliers to apply for certification. This budget season, for the first time ever, hotel tech buyers can easily vet customer support for future vendors and access support certification details right from company profiles on Hotel Tech Report. Learn more about the certification
Registration is now open for the 2020 HotelTechAwards (www.hoteltechawards.com), the industry's only data driven awards platform that recognizes best of breed hotel technology companies who win in the eyes of the judges that matter most - their customers. 2019 winners of the HotelTechAwards included top hotel technology companies such as TravelClick, Beekeeper, Screen Pilot, Atomize and Oaky. New York based ALICE won "The Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech" edging out runner up Mews Systems (10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech). "Revenue generation and operations have become very complex for hotels, threatening profitability and detracting from the customer experience. The answer lies in innovative technology solutions, which can disrupt the disruptors. The HotelTechAwards recognize these technologies and their beneficial impact on the future of our industry." says Marc Heyneker, CEO at Revinate, one of the hotel tech industry's most recognized brands and 2019’s top rated Hotel CRM. Companies are competing for category leadership across marketing, revenue management, guest experience, operations and sales technology. Hotel technology companies ranging from hardware to software and service businesses like digital marketing agencies are eligible for nomination. More than 40 companies around the world have already pre-registered for the competition. Registration closes on September 1st. Voting will take place through December 31, 2019 and winners of the 2020 HotelTechAwards will be announced on January 15, 2020. "As a former hotelier there was ultimately one thing my team wanted to know about prospective technology partners," says Jordan Hollander, co-founder of Hotel Tech Report. "We wanted to know what other hoteliers like us thought about the service providers, that they were tried and true and that the company could deliver on their sales promises. The HotelTechAwards were designed to do exactly that - they help hoteliers see what people like them honestly think about products and services to help them make better decisions for their properties." Learn more about the HotelTechAwards and register now at www.hoteltechawards.com
February 12, 2018 - Hotel Tech Report has named ALICE 2018’s top rated Concierge Software, based on data from thousands of hoteliers in more than 40 countries around the world. Over 100 of the world’s elite hotel technology products competed for a chance to win this prestigious title. The HotelTechAwards platform (by HotelTechReport.com) leverages real customer data to determine best of breed products that help hoteliers grow their bottom lines. “A great concierge has the power to turn an ok vacation or work trip into an incredible one. Concierge software enables concierges to be more efficient and effective while collaborating across shifts. Any hotel that still forces their concierge to run on pen and paper is missing a huge opportunity to surprise and delight guests,” says Hotel Tech Report’s Jordan Hollander. ALICE is poised for sustained growth in 2018, after a pivotal year raising $26M in August and acquiring Los Angeles-based GoConcierge. Hoteliers recognized ALICE’s truly world class interface design and usability,with ALICE scoring a perfect 100 on the HT-scale, and exceeding the category average by 11%. “ALICE provides a seamless connection emphasizing guest loyalty,” says a General Manager of an independent hotel in Santa Barbara, California. To read the full review and more, head to the ALICE Concierge profile
For the past 3-months, more than one hundred of the hotel industry's top tech firms across 40+ countries have campaigned in the 2018 HotelTechAwards joining in Hotel Tech Report's mission by leveraging customer feedback and transparency to speed up the pace of global innovation. Companies competed for the coveted top spot across 30 critical categories of hotel technology and today, Hotel Tech Report is proud to announce the 2018 winners. The HotelTechAwards segment top technologies into the following categories: Marketing - technology that attracts new customers Revenue - technology that optimizes distribution and informs business strategy Operations - technology that helps hotels run efficiently Guest Experience - technology that differentiates the guest stay at a hotel Hotel Tech Report's global hotelier community rallied behind participating top vendors by contributing invaluable qualitative product feedback as well as more than 7,500 data points across key metrics including: ease of use, customer service, implementation, ROI and likelihood to recommend (learn more about scoring) to help determine winners. So what is the significance of the HotelTechAwards? "For the first time, hoteliers can reference an unbiased source of information provided by their peers and verified by a 3rd party to help them easily learn about and discover the best technology for their hotels. Hoteliers can often be slow to adopt new technology. The reality is that they're slow for a reason--the wrong choice in a vendor can risk both their hotel's profitability and even their personal career" says Hotel Tech Report's Adam Hollander. "Whether its lost revenue from a poorly optimized mobile website, a lawsuit from a security system that failed to record or a hit to their P&L from a poorly calibrated revenue management system--hoteliers are justified in being especially cautious during the technology vendor selection process. The HotelTechAwards serve as a platform to help educate hoteliers and keep their respective hotels competitive in a world where tech giants like Airbnb and Expedia are looking more like their compset than ever." Quantitative data is extremely important for selecting the right technology for any hotel company. What is the ROI? What’s the uplift in conversion, how does a product improve guest satisfaction scores or decrease service response times? Quantitative data drives the promises made by vendors during the sales process. Subjective data from unbiased customer reviews enables decision makers to see how well vendors deliver on those promises. The winners of the HotelTechAwards are the companies who have both world class products and incredibly strong relationships with their customers. To all of the companies (view all) who embraced customer feedback and transparency by campaigning in the 2018 HotelTechAwards, we commend you for your service to the industry at large and are now proud to present to you--the winners of the 2018 HotelTechAwards: Bonus Feature: The 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech
Operations Category Overview
Here are some of the key categories to keep in mind when building your hotel operations software tech stack.
A property management system (PMS) is a software suite that property owners use to manage their business by coordinating reservations, availability, payments, and reporting in one central place. The PMS allows property owners to check-in and check-out guests, see room availability, make adjustments to existing reservations, and schedule housekeeping or maintenance events. With a central system, hoteliers can better manage and monitor the key metrics needed to run their business (e.g. average daily rate, occupancy, and RevPAR).
- Easy-to-use interface - Train your staff quickly and can reduce the likelihood of errors.
- Check-in/check-out guests and modify guest reservations - Keep track of guests and move them around as needed keeps you on top of your reservations and reduces the likelihood of overbookings.
- Central dashboard - See what is happening, what needs to be done today, and monitor your key metrics.
- Personalized taxes, fees, and policies - Customize taxes, fees, and cancellation policies in the combination that best suits your business.
- Government compliance - Comply with local tax reporting requirements and regulations.
- Guest communication - Improve the guest experience with automated pre and post-stay communications.
- Reporting suite - Generate detailed production and financial reports to improve business operations.
- Clock Software
- Mews Systems
- Guestline Rezlynx
- Oracle Opera
- RoomKey PMS
- Frontdesk Anywhere
- Infor HMS
Staff Collaboration Software is critical to keep your operation running smoothly. Hotel staff are scattered around time and location -- different shifts, floors, departments, and properties -- and are highly reliant on traditional forms of communication like log books, memos and two-way radios. Staff Collaboration platforms bring everyone on the same page within a digital environment, increasing staff productivity and providing cost savings through operational efficiency. The real-time visibility into hotel operations means no more dropped tasks, miscommunication, or expensive mistakes.
- Simple Communication - Social media style features like notes, tags, mentions, and comments facilitate quick communication and collaboration among hotel teams.
- Task Management - Add accountability and track-ability to ensure timely completion by staff.
- Alerts / Notifications - Prevent costly mistakes and missed deadlines. In-App Translation Promote collaboration among multilingual staff.
- Checklists - Automatically alert shifts and departments of routine duties to ensure nothing is overlooked.
- Reporting - Spot trends and identify opportunities to improve.
Housekeeping management software makes the hardest job on property just a little bit easier. A hotel’s ability to turn over rooms directly impacts profit and housekeeping software is dramatically speeding up that process, leading to lower costs and higher revenues. We have taken all the pieces that make up a day in the life of housekeeping and digitized them. Everything from assignment boards to failed inspection items are now managed on a cloud-based platform, providing users from line-level associates to corporate executives the ability to effortlessly review daily progress as it happens.
- Customization - Built in ability for hotel managers to edit, change and set preferences that best suit their property on any given day in a user-friendly, flexible manner.
- Interdepartmental communication - Bridge the gap between departments (maintenance, management, front desk, reservations, etc.) in an easy to use manner providing faster solutions to raised issues.
- Mobile Alerts & Messaging - Deliver real time information between employees and managers or hotel guests and staff to increase efficiency and deliver faster results.
- Reporting Tool - Gather and deliver data on employees’ performance using an extensive variety of metrics to gain the most insight into productivity.
- Systems Integration - Avoid duplicate data entry, save time and ensure accuracy by integrating directly with other systems at each property.
Guest feedback software helps you survey in real time to improve your hotel operation and identify weaknesses. If you are running a hotel today, there is only one thing that truly matters at the end of the day - that your guests are happy and would recommend you to their friends. Accepting that, you have a choice, either: (a) guess how you should operate using your gut feeling and manually figure out how every change affects your guest satisfaction or (b) automate asking your guests for feedback and let the data tell you how you’re doing and what you should improve. The latter, is what Guest Feedback Software is all about; asking for, responding to, sharing and analyzing feedback from your guests in order to improve and achieve higher guest satisfaction.
- Benchmarking: Benchmarking of your guest satisfaction using standardized key values will ensure you truly know how you are standing vs. your competitors. Providing a reference ensures you actually focus on the right issues.
- Responsive Survey Design: The importance of mobile devices should be obvious and old news in the year 2018. Surveys that look and feel great on your guests mobile devices is simply a necessity to receive feedback today.
- Import Meta-data from PMS: If a guest for example mentions that the shower head is broken, by knowing the room number the guest stayed in you can immediately fix the problem.
- Guest Feedback Thread: If this is the 3rd time the guest stays at your hotel and 2nd time they provide feedback, a system that maintains this history about the guest will facilitate a lot more personal communication with the guest. (Beware to do this in compliance with the GDPR though!).
- Response Management: Often guests will simply hit “reply” on the mail asking for feedback, rather than clicking the link and filling in a survey. Any vendor that sends surveys from a “firstname.lastname@example.org” will miss a lot of important feedback and booking requests.