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RFPs Made Easy: Everything You Need to Know

Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

A request for proposal (or RFP) is a frequent and familiar tool used to solicit bids from a variety of vendors. The objective is to receive bids from a broad array of vendors so that teams can compare and contrast the individual bids. In an ideal world, this side-by-side analysis helps teams evaluate the price, parameters and specs of each bid and creates a level playing field by reducing bias towards a single vendor. As you may know firsthand, the RFP process is also an immense time suck. First, you have to create the RFP in a way that attracts accurate bids from the right kinds of vendors. Next, you have to evaluate each bid and follow up with any areas that need clarification. Finally, you have to select a vendor and negotiate the final terms. To help you navigate this process more effectively, and get you the best bids from the best hotel technology vendors possible, we’ve created a guide to making the RFP easier and more successful. You’ll learn the steps you need to take for building an RFP process that saves time in multiple facets of the process. You’ll learn how to increase clarity around what you’re looking for so you only get responses from relevant vendors;  You’ll learn how to reduce confusion among key internal stakeholders so that there’s fewer emails and pointless meetings;  You’ll learn how to build momentum so that you get the RFP process done quickly without sacrificing quality. By the end of the guide, you'll be able to confidently create RFPs that get you the bids you need -- without wasting time on irrelevant responses, unnecessary emails, frequent meetings and drawn-out timelines.   We Interviewed Leading RFP Experts to Research this Guide Running an RFP process can be incredibly complex which is why major brands prefer to work with consultants and expert third parties to help them manage the process.  We interviewed dozens of the best consultants in the business to glean insights for this article.  Most notably we interviewed these top experts: Loren Gray, Hospitality Digital Marketing Dan Wacksman, Sassato Evelyne Oreskovich, HeR Consulting Caryl Helsel, Dragonfly Strategists Anthony Gambini, Premiere Advisory Group David Chestler, Provision Partners Want help running your next technology RFP? We’ve put their bios and info below so you can reach out directly.   How to Write an RFP (4 Step Process) Set up your RFP process for success by keeping two mantras in mind. The first is “be specific.” An RFP that's loosely defined will never perform as well as one that’s well-defined.  As you lay out your requirements, clearly lay out any specific needs (such as it must work with an existing POS system), as well as any other requirements (such as bids only from vendors in the United States). Keep your questions brief and to the point to encourage exact and comparable responses that support objective comparisons later. Examples of open-ended questions: What does your product roadmap look like? How does your company prevent cyber security threats? What do you think is the biggest area for improvement in your software based on Hotel Tech Report reviews? Examples of quantifiable questions: Do you integrate with my current tech stack? Do you have more than 95% up time? Is your HotelTechScore greater than 90 Has your company achieved Hotel Tech Report’s Customer Support Certification? The second is “avoid bias.” It's very easy to build an RFP  that already angles towards a specific solution. Be on the lookout for any language that seems to suggest that you've already selected a solution, approach, technology or vendor. When you create a blank canvas that a vendor can paint for you, you allow the RFP process to do what it's supposed to do: surface the best solution for your needs.  If you're already going into this having selected a vendor, it's kind of useless! One way to reduce bias is to have several rounds of questions, which keeps the RFP process brief and to the point. At each stage, you narrow down the options. When you launch wide and narrow as you go, you avoid starting with a request that’s geared towards only a small number of vendors. Remember: An RFP process with a pre-ordained outcome is a waste of time.   Step 1: Launch Preparation is arguably the most important aspect of the RFP process. Proper preparation ensures that the RFP accurately reflects the organization’s needs and will thus solicit bids from vendors that more closely align with those needs. Vendors will use the RFP document (more on the document itself in section three below)  to shape their responses; they simply cannot be precise and accurate with the wrong inputs.  For instance, if you're soliciting bids for a new POS system but neglect to add a requirement for integrating with your property’s accounting system, then you’ll get a bunch of useless bids. So rather than rushing the process, and trying to get the request out to vendors as quickly as possible, focus on balancing speed with thoroughness. Gather the right people It all starts with gathering inputs from the right people. You need the right people in the room from the get-go so that the RFP accurately reflects current needs. Otherwise, the process goes off the rails rather quickly if you don't have the right people in the room. You need to include the people that are not just the decision-makers but also that will be directly impacted by the decision. This reduces the chance of a drawn-out review process that starts to become a decision by consensus. If the right people are in the room, and they are gathering requirements correctly, then the evaluation process should be relatively straightforward. For example, a GM setting up an RFP committee for a new revenue management system may want to include owners, revenue managers and front desk agents, as these are the people who use the software daily. “We believe it is necessary to have a well-rounded team of people involved in the process. Key stakeholders should be included. When we’ve done this with clients, we usually include a steering committee with people representing various departments including operations, revenue management, sales, marketing, finance and an executive sponsor. Including too many people means you may take a really long time to make a decision and including too few people means that you may not have buy in once a decision is made.” Caryl Helsel, Dragonfly Strategists “Regardless of the project and solution/technology being solicited, the primary sponsor must ensure that all stakeholders in the process understand the overall objectives of the project and that individual goals do not conflict with those objectives.  That includes an understanding of how a solution interfaces across the enterprise.  For example, how many integrations, input variables and data-points are needed from how many systems.  A well-defined requirements document provides the “one source of truth” that all stakeholders can reference and will determine the ultimate features and functions, their supportability, and expected utilization.” David Chestler, Provision Partners You don't want too many cooks in the kitchen but it's important to crowd source requirements from all stakeholders. “Successful properties have absolute buy in from organization leadership. A fully established SOP on sales processes. Namely that they have people who are fully trained to respond to RFPs and know exactly what they want to convey and the unique selling points for their property that relate to who is requesting the pricing,” says Anthony Gambini of Premiere Advisory Group.   There's nothing worse than buying software to find out that the daily users can't effectively leverage the platform and their work is being inhibited. Avoid this by including relevant stakeholders. It can also be helpful to have representatives from IT, legal and procurement, as appropriate. These participants will keep the process from hitting snags later by surfacing potential issues and needs early on in the process.   Define the parameters The RFP committee is responsible for outlining the requirements of the software,  identifying deal breakers, and then pulling all those points into the RFP itself. Clearly stated requirements will structure the RFP so that responses are tailored to your property’s specific needs. Otherwise, you may have to sort through bids from vendors they can't actually meet your specific needs. Make sure that  everyone is on the same page about the must-haves and nice-to-haves. You don’t want surprises later -- such as a housekeeping management system that doesn’t feature an offline mode for a property that only has WiFi in public areas! See our section below for some common sections to include. "Buyers make a number of key mistakes in the RFP process: Underestimating the level of engagement and detail needed to analyze and assess the product compared to other competitive offerings. Not isolating the must-haves from the nice-to-haves and how the technology can deliver against those functional criteria is imperative. Not knowing where the hidden traps may be and what steps a company has taken to future proof a product. Budget is another area to validate.  I am reminded of a dear friend who always asked for BANT in every deal.  Bank, Authority, Need and a Timeline.  Those are the areas of critical failure when coordinating and working on a program for development and deployment.   Check those boxes and a deal will get done," says David Chestler. One way to define these requirements is to define the “jobs to be done” by clearly mapping the user journey. During your kickoff meeting for the review committee, define the primary jobs that the software must do -- and then map those out. It’s less about a feature list and more about the tasks and problems at hand. Let the vendor outline how their features give you what you need! Deal breakers are equally important to define upfront. Some examples are the usage of sub-contractors, a vendor that provides no uptime guarantees, a software that doesn’t meet security standards or a product requiring custom development. Agreeing on the deal breakers upfront keeps everyone honest and prevents snags later in the process. Some are hesitant to put budget requirements and at this phase. However, if you know that you must come in under a certain number, include it. Not only will it help vendors opt out of submitting responses, it can help you negotiate later. Note that it's advisable to include a budget if you are sending out an RFP for digital marketing agencies; otherwise, it looks like you are either disorganized or fishing for free ideas.   Set a realistic timeline Lay out your timeline, including submission deadlines, decision dates and major milestones such as implementation. This not only aligns vendors with your expectations, but also gives the RFP committee clarity and structure. And then stick with the timeline! Only in extreme circumstances, such as a dramatically shifted business environment that changes your needs, should this timeline be tweaked.  Urgency is the name of the game here; otherwise, the process may be drawn out endlessly, never resulting in a solution.  A good rule of thumb is a no less than 30 days but no more than 90. It really comes down to the complexity of solutions: Software is often more straightforward than hardware and technology that impacts multiple departments requires more coordination and collaboration. Your timeline should include: RFP launch date Due date for follow-up questions from vendors Due date for answers to those questions from your team Date of bidder’s conference RFP due date Announcement date of finalists Date of finalist presentations Final award date Implementation date Dan Wacksman from technology consulting firm Sassato told Hotel Tech Report that the timeline is actually where many buyers mess up, “There are usually unrealistic expectations amongst buyers of the time it takes from RFP to implementation kick-off, everything always takes longer than expected. Creating the RFP, choosing a shortlist of vendors, signing NDA's, getting responses, clarification questions, in-person presentations, decision, contract negotiation all have to take place prior to kick-off. In addition, there are often many stakeholders that need to be involved, and often there is an internal resource leading the project who is also expected to do his/her fulltime job, thus further adding potential delays to the timeline. For these reasons it can make sense to bring in a third party to help shepherd the process; this can often shave weeks if not months of the timeline and lead to a more successful implementation.”   Build the Scoring Matrix Don't wait until proposals start coming in to decide how you’ll evaluate a vendor’s ability to meet your needs. Ensure transparency and cross-functional alignment by building the Scoring Matrix at the same time as you build the proposal. By agreeing on the scorecard upfront, you can make sure that the RFP is structured in such a way that all proposals will align with your scoring. Since your Scorecard must be based on objective measurements, include only quantifiable questions in your proposal. These are questions that don’t leave a lot of gray areas. For example, instead of asking “what’s your service philosophy” word it as a yes/no question: “do you have 24/7 support?” Using multiple choice questions within the proposal is also a great way to streamline scoring. Two potential approaches are qualitative and weighted. The qualitative approach scores vendors according to specific around your most important criteria. Answers are scored based on how closely they meet your requirements, with higher scores for closer alignment. Each score is then given a clear, qualitative basis for the score. For example, this scorecard template from Smartsheet uses eight criteria on a qualitative basis for evaluation: Adherence to RFP Instructions Company Information Project Understanding Requirements Product Viability & History Terms & Conditions Vendor Demonstration Fee Summary You may also want to consider the weighted approach, which adjusts scores based on their relative importance to your hotel. This scoring approach is definitely more complicated but it can be a much more accurate way to gauge alignment. Without weighting, you might not give more attention to the most important criteria for your hotel. Two templates to consider are the Weighted Decision Analysis from Expert Program Management and the Weighted Criteria Matrix from GoLeanSixSigma. These examples are great for seeing how to effectively weight your unique criteria and properly score your vendors.   Expert tips about creating your scoring matrix: Loren Gray: Identify current use / current perceived issues / identify current version / Identify current training, (awareness of current platform function not perceived function) / Identify current dialog with current service provider, (are they aware of the frustration of their client and have exhausted all solution options) Dan Wacksman: This is such a critical step and should be done upfront (at least the draft). As mentioned above, many companies fail to fully identify what business problem(s) they are trying to solve for and what key features and functionality they want. This is where the project lead/consultant plays a vital role in helping them flesh this out. Meeting with key stakeholders and understanding their pain points, challenges, and opportunities is paramount. Also, understanding how other companies utilize the technology is also important, as in many instances, people may not know the full scope/capabilities available. In an ideal world, the scoring matrix is reviewed by all key stakeholders. The matrix is very important, and it helps to guide the decision. But the reality is, it is not possible to perfectly weight everything so that you can numerically determine a winner, the score will be one aspect of the decision. Evelyne Oreskovich: I begin every project with a full review of not only how they do business now, but what they need or want to be able to do (their wish list) but are restricted by their technology. Many companies are doing things manually, or jury-rigging features of their current technology to support their requirements. I categorize and weight requirements into 3 categories: Must have, would like to have (to allow for SOP changes or innovative approach), nice to have (but not absolutely necessary). This allows the team to determine how well each vendor’s solution actually meets their needs or will help them get to the next level. David Chestler: This is a simple methodology approach using weighting and averages to determine the priority of features, functions, support, operational ease and training amongst other variables.  The responses and features are assigned a numeric value on a multiple point matrix and then the math does the rest if the right questions and assumptions are asked and scored. The most important thing we can do as experts is understand the client’s needs, interpret and clarify their customer needs, and then present a blueprint that will deliver a ROI on the selection of a solution quickly.  We should not tell the client what is important; we should help them identify what their clients believe is important.   Write your RFP Now it’s time to compile everything you’ve gathered into your RFP, which is the document that guides vendors in their responses. A poorly-worded, hastily-structured or ill-defined RFP usually results in similarly weak responses. For the purposes of clarity and apples-to-apples comparisons, it’s helpful to have a familiar template for RFPs across the organization. Otherwise, each individual team will come up with something that works for them and it becomes confusing for cross-functional collaboration. The template should include a brief description of the project at hand, and a clear list of key requirements of the software. Don't feel like you need to be overly prescriptive or include every “nice to have”; simply include the most essential functionality and let the vendors go from there. An example would be: “We’re a 500 room property in a resort destination seeking to increase upsells and ancillary sales by 100% in 18 months. We’re looking for upselling software to assist with this objective.” Your template should be broken down into specific sections: Overview: background about your organization, including a problem statement or the “jobs to be done” Timeline: the entire RFP process and eventual implementation Budget: how much you want to spend Technical Specifications: everything you need from the software Vendor Requirements: geography, documentation/certifications, insurance Process Guidelines: who and how to communicate with your team For inspiration, check out these useful RFP template resources. HubSpot recommends including a section for potential roadblocks. Template Lab has over a dozen different RFP examples to guide your own RFP templatization. SmartSheet has a number of useful RFP-related templates for requesting, tracking, scoring and comparing different vendors.    Invite vendors Now it's time to invite vendors to participate. We recommend also asking for references and case studies -- either as a part of the formal RFP process or in advance of choosing which vendors to invite.  it can be helpful to review case studies and or talk to existing customers before deciding which vendors should even enter the consideration funnel.  One easy way to ensure quality is to start with the top vendors in your target category. on HotelTechReport. That way you know that these vendors are well-reviewed and active in hospitality. HTR reviews are also a valuable source for sales challengers, as you can ask vendors to respond directly to any issues mentioned in reviews. Always have them sign an NDA in advance! That can be especially important when you need to disclose confidential information as part of the process.   Begin the bidding process A bidders conference is the final step in the launch phase. Invite your vendors onto a group call so vendors can ask any final questions. The conference call format ensures that everyone has access to the same information and avoids giving preferential treatment to one vendor over another. “Some buyers believe you don’t need to ask detailed questions. Often companies assume that every tech provider has the basics down. That is not always the case. Whether it be functionality, business process, account management or migration – details are important and they reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each provider,” says Caryl Helsel, RFP expert from Dragonfly Strategists. Remember that any answers you provide to individual vendors should be provided to all vendors to keep everyone aligned and working from the same information. That’s why you want to route all Inbound questions from vendors to the same person; if the GM is answering one email and the DIrector of Operations is answering another, there’s  information asymmetry that disrupts the level playing field.   Step 2: Evaluate During this phase, keep the RFP process moving along swiftly.  All too often, the process gets snagged on the evaluation criteria. There are many opinions to navigate and usually other stakeholders come out of the woodwork to comment. It’s also a heavy load to score and evaluate all the responses. “Some buyers are wowed by the bells and whistles. Tech vendors will show off the “cool” innovations whether or not they aligned with the actual needs of the prospective client. Another issue is focusing on price… You’ve heard of the phrase “You get what you pay for.” Choosing technology based on price is like shooting yourself in the foot. The purchasing or procurement departments inevitably get involved, but they shouldn’t run the decision process,” says HeR Consulting’s Evelyne Oreskovich. Pay close attention to each vendor’s approach during the process. Take cues from their behavior: Are they slow to respond? Are they friendly? Are they asking smart follow up questions? You can learn a lot about potential vendors during this process. When they show you their stripes, pay attention! Share and score proposals in advance of in-person review The biggest snag here is the time it takes to evaluate responses. Refer back to your initial timeline to remind your RFP committee about expectations. Especially in hospitality, daily operations have a way of taking precedence over longer-term projects. To resist that pull, have a streamlined scoring and evaluation process. Send out all the proposals in a single batch to the RFP review committee. Ask them to review and score proposals. If there are any follow-up questions, gather those into a single shared document to send out to vendors. You can then bring those answers to your in-person review meeting. Another great way to organize responses is to use a project management tool like Trello, Asana or Airtable. These tools offer interactive checklists so you can be sure that the committee reviews proposals in the same way. These can also be handy ways to aggregate feedback in a single view. Announce your shortlist After everyone has had a chance to review, convene the committee to select the shortlist. Scores are obviously the top criteria; use a group vote as tiebreaker. Keep your list to no more than four vendors ideally but that number could grow with a large enough base of qualified vendors. It all depends on your unique needs. Schedule shortlist presentations and select finalist Invite your shortlist to one last round. These presentations give your team the chance to dive deeper into specifics (see “Focus Areas” below). You can learn a lot about how vendors approach these presentations; anyone who doesn't take it seriously should be immediately eliminated. This is the time to step it up and any vendor that can't isn't worth the risk! When it comes to length, 20 minutes per vendor is plenty. Leave more time for questions than a formal presentation. Ask each vendor to give a 5 minute presentation oriented towards what they can bring to your hotel and then focus most of the time on addressing specific questions that pertain to your needs. Don’t delay your final decision. The committee should choose the top two finalists immediately after the shortlist presentations. This keeps the topic fresh and moves this along.   Step 3: Negotiate Once the team has selected the final two options, it's time to negotiate. The reason we recommend choosing two vendors at this stage is so that you have the opportunity to compare and contrast contracts and pricing. “Ask for BANT in every deal.  Bank, Authority, Need and a Timeline.  Those are the areas of critical failure when coordinating and working on a program for development and deployment.   Check those boxes and a deal will get done,” says David Chestler of Provision Partners. As you review contracts, pricing and scope of work, look for red flags such as “bait and switch” pricing that doesn’t align with what was promised during the RFP process. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for onerous terms or vague commitments to metrics. The contract should clearly stipulate the vendor’s obligations related to performance, security, service reliability and implementation. The negotiation phase also tends to take longer than you expect. Keep the pressure up so that you can reach the finish line and get to your final offer to finish the procurement process!   Step 4: Implement The RFP process formally ends once negotiations wrap up and a contract is signed.  However, we recommend a fourth phase that includes the implementation.Even as other operational teams take over the execution, the RFP team should be kept in the loop. Why is this important? Because there are learnings to be had when it comes to implementation. For example, did the vendor promise something that they didn't deliver? Were there any gaps that appeared or things we overlooked that could have been solved during the RFP process? Implementation can provide feedback to loop back into the RFP process -- so stay aware throughout implementation and identify any improvements for the next time.   Focus Areas When Evaluating Vendor RFP Responses As you build your RFPs, here are a few potential areas to consider: Product Security, Uptime and Service-level Agreements: Technology hosted off-premise has different requirements, as there’s less direct control over access and up time. So you must be crystal clear about the vendor’s responsibility around the quality and availability of its services. Lean on your technical/legal representatives on the RFP committee on this so you can get the most reliable software possible. Must haves in an SLA include a “time to alert” clause that stipulates how quickly the vendor will notify you of any breaches, as well as the Service availability metrics that guarantees a certain level of uptime. Here’s a boilerplate SLA for purposes of comparison.  Account Management and Implementation: What is the plan for getting you up and running after you sign the contract? And What happens after implementation when you transition to account management? Get crystal clear about the implementation process so that you can understand the vendor’s promised timeline. You’ll also want to know who’s responsible for implementing the contract on the vendor’s end so know what to expect.  Integrations & Connections to Existing Systems: Are you looking at a holistic solution or one that connects to multiple platforms? You’ll need to understand your new vendor fits into your existing tech stack.   Specific Features and Functionality: It can’t be said enough: be certain that the system does what you need it to do! Ask the RFP review committee: Does it solve the overall problem that we are trying to address? Scope creep is a problem for every project; don’t let the RFP process drift from solving your core needs. Open-ended Use Cases: Finally, look beyond your existing tech stack and think about your ideal workflow. Does the product meet that workflow? Or is this new software going to further calcify a tech workflow that’s undesirable? Now is the time to make sure that all new software fits into the longer-term tech plan for your property.   Questions for Hardware Vendors Hardware has an entirely different set of needs than software.  You'll want your RFPs to reflect that fact -- otherwise, you'll be spending a lot of time fielding requests for further information from vendors, dragging out the process and wasting time. Here are four questions to ask potential hardware vendors: How often do you recommend your hardware be upgraded? Hardware upgrades are expensive and potentially destructive. Get some clarity upfront about how often the vendor recommends hardware upgrades. How do you handle hardware upgrades? One of the worst parts about hardware is that it is expensive to upgrade. And it can cause disruption during those periods of downtime. You want to have a clear understanding of the risks, responsibilities and costs related to any future upgrades.  What about the software on your hardware? More often than not, you're not just buying hardware; rather,  It's paired with software. you want to have a clear and detailed understanding of how software upgrades are handled, specifically around additional cost and any downtime. If you purchase hardware, but future software updates cost additional, you need to factor that into your evaluation. What are the installation costs? Hardware is expensive. And much of this cost comes from the installation. It's critical to have that information up front and not later on down the process.   RFP Expert Bios Hospitality Digital Marketing (Loren Gray): Marketing 'only pay for what you need' we are a completely scalable service provider that brings the best of industry talent (adhoc) to directly work on whatever goal is indicated and then leaves once accomplished. I'll give one example: we kept a hotel at 67% occupancy in the middle of a major metro through this entire time while almost its entire compset closed for lack of business. You think it - we can do it, 'the impossible only takes longer' -- I know it sounds arrogant but seriously we have not lost a fight yet. Anyone in hospitality we help everyone, big small branded non branded, F&B, Spa, Golf ,multi-unit, service to market, we've literally done them all. Sassato (Dan Wacksman): We help hotels make decisions and get sh*t done. With over 20 years of senior-level experience working directly in the hotel and travel space with focus on marketing, distribution, and technology I help fill the gap experienced by many organizations of having to quickly bring on capable "ready to run" leaders to assess, recommend and deliver on key initiatives, to help quickly improve their performance in marketing, distribution, technology and implementations. Sassato is the Seal Team 6 of hospitality and travel (but much geekier), who will come in and quickly fill holes, solve problems, and rescue projects, but without the cost of adding more headcount. HeR Consulting (Evelyne Oreskovich): Bringing decades of property and head office experience in reservations, sales, revenue & channel management, CRM and systems integration, projects are approached with the eyes of the hotelier. No cookie cutter approach will achieve your goals; we take the time to understand where you are and where you want to go. Your success is our success. Dragonfly Strategists (Caryl Helsel): Our target clients are small to medium sized hotel groups, new hotel owners, independent hotels, boutique hotels and new brands. We act as an outsourced corporate office for hotel companies that either need additional resource as their teams are limited or as qualified resource that they don’t have. A piece of our team is less expensive than a full-time less experienced employee and delivers more value because we know what we are doing. We typically don’t work with big brands. They have their own teams – we like to serve as the team for the smaller groups and owners. We specifically provide an experienced commercial, IT & operations strategy team including sales, marketing, revenue strategy and revenue for hire, distribution, reservations, operational process improvement and IT planning, strategy and launch. Premiere Advisory Group (Anthony Gambini): As an advisory firm we specialize in Sales, Revenue & Distribution Optimization. We work with hotel operators and management companies, to maximize revenue and drive market share across all booking channels. Taking a comprehensive look at the hoteliers distribution ecosystem we identify areas of improvement while making strategic recommendations on how to increase your overall return on investment and decrease your client acquisition cost. Among our clients portfolio we count SH Group, Dream Hotel Group, Sixty Hotels, Warwick Hotels, Hard Rock Hotels… What sets PAG apart from other service providers is our proactive client services and support. Our executive team is composed of Travel distribution and system connectivity specialists with years of experience in account management and implementation of customized solutions for Technology Hospitality companies. Properties have unlimited access to our team of distribution experts throughout the year. Provision Partners (David Chestler): An outcomes-based and execution-oriented approach to solving the critical business challenges of our travel and hospitality clients.  We are uniquely positioned to provide the insights born out of deep industry and professional experience.  Our focus is on providing actionable, measurable recommendations.  These are tactics meant to have immediate impacts.   When to Use RFQ and RFIs A Request for Information (RFI) is used when you think you know what you want but need more information from the vendors. It will typically be followed by an RFQ or RFP. A Request for Quotation (RFQ) is commonly used when you know what you want but need information on how vendors would meet your requirements and/or how much it will cost.  

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Hotel Brands: Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, IHG (Who Owns What?)

Hotel Tech Report
6 days ago

Did you know that there are 214 Marriott International hotels in New York City alone? How about that The Algonquin Hotel is a Marriott property? And for bonus points: can you name all of Marriott’s 30 hotel brands? Hotel companies are growing beyond the traditional standardized brands to include collections of boutique hotels, timeshare developments, and even vacation rentals. The proliferation of highly targeted niche brands, coupled with mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships and the rise of soft brands, has created quite the tapestry of hotel brands. Travelers today have options across the spectrum, even including dozens of choices within a single chain's portfolio. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve organized the world's leading hotel brands by both parent company and chain scale.   For those who don't know the chain scale system, it's essentially Smith Travel Research's star ratings system used by hotel professionals to distinguish between different levels of properties. We’ll keep the list updated over time, so bookmark this page as a resource to consult on the current landscape of hotel brands worldwide. Whether you are considering which flag to put on your next property or want to figure out which brand you should book for your next trip - this guide is for you. First, we break the brands down by parent company, and then we organize the brands by chain scale. This gives you two ways to browse: either by portfolio or hotel category. Our sources include company development hubs, investor disclosures, Lodging Magazine, and Wikipedia. When it comes to each brand’s concept, we've pulled this information directly from hotel development resources to highlight how each brand is being positioned by its parent company. While some of this is certainly marketing-speak, this information is helpful to understand each brand’s target niche. We've also highlighted any key metrics around ADR and RevPAR that we found in company development disclosures. Keep in mind that this was prior to the covid-19 pandemic, so these numbers are most likely in flux. Using the STR chain scale categories, we organize this article starting from luxury to economy: Luxury Hotel Brands Upper Upscale Hotel Brands Upscale Hotel Brands Upper Midscale Hotel Brands Economy Hotel Brands Soft Brands (usually upper upscale)   We also break out the hotel brands by chain in these articles: Hilton Hotel Brands Marriott Hotel Brands Hyatt Hotel Brands IHG Hotel Brands   Luxury Hotel Brands Luxury hotels are known for their exceptional service, high-end finishes, premium amenities, and well-appointed rooms in notable locations around the world. The Pinnacle of Luxury Brands Planning a honeymoon or a once-in-a-lifetime vacation? Brands like Ritz-Carlton (Marriott), St. Regis (Marriott), Park Hyatt (Hyatt), Bulgari (Marriott), and Regent (IHG) offer truly unique experiences. From the moment you step into one of their grand lobbies (after a doorman opens the door for you, of course), you’ll be wowed not only by the stunning decor but also by the world-class service. Luxury brands like these target affluent luxury travelers who expect the best of the best.   Pictured: Bulgari Hotel Dubai   These brands represent the cream of the crop of the big hotel companies’ portfolios. They compete with renowned, independent luxury brands like Four Seasons, Rosewood, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula, and Aman. Although these hotels come with eye-wateringly high price tags, you can sometimes snag a fantastic deal when you redeem points you’ve earned by staying at lower-end properties.   Pictured: The Ritz-Carlton Macau   Perhaps the most well known of the luxury brands is Ritz-Carlton. When you stay “at the Ritz,” you’ll experience not only white-glove service, but also spectacular amenities that include golf courses, spas, dining venues, and kids programming. Located in urban and resort destinations in 35 countries, Ritz-Carltons are known for their timeless, elegant aesthetic and legendary hospitality. Though they’re both owned by Marriott, a close competitor of Ritz is St. Regis. Spanning over 100 years of history, the St. Regis brand is renowned for service, style, and sophistication. Each property offers a unique afternoon tea ceremony, a tranquil spa, and an interpretation of the brand’s signature drink, the Bloody Mary.    Pictured: Park Hyatt Bangkok   Similar to Ritz and St. Regis, but with a more cosmopolitan flair, is Park Hyatt. As the pinnacle of Hyatt’s luxury brands, Park Hyatt properties showcase some of the finest gastronomy, service, and design in their destinations, which include cities like Paris, Beijing, and New York. Park Hyatt targets the most discerning travelers who travel, on average, over 30 times per year, and seek truly unique experiences. Looking for a place to show off your haute couture? Inspired by the distinctive style of the Italian jewelry designer, Bulgari hotels offer glamorous hideaways for the jet-setting glitterati. Hotel amenities range from private beach clubs, Michelin-starred restaurants, high-end spas, and customized tours and activities. You won’t find Bulgari hotels everywhere; the 6 properties are located in carefully chosen destinations like Milan, Bali, and Dubai. Like Bulgari, Regent Hotels offer innovative design, exceptional service, and a sense of wonder for frequent travelers who have seen it all - but at a slightly lower price tag. Regent carefully curates its small collection of properties so each one stays true to the brand standard.Regent’s collection is also small, containing 6 properties in 4 countries.   Classic Luxury Brands While the ultra-luxury properties can carry a somewhat pretentious reputation, classic luxury brands like Waldorf Astoria (Hilton), JW Marriott (Marriott), Grand Hyatt (Hyatt), Hyatt Zilara/Hyatt Ziva (Hyatt), and Hualuxe (IHG) are more understated, while still luxurious. These properties are equally suitable for family vacations and business trips with their elegant decor, top-notch amenities, and genuine service. They appeal to wealthy travelers with discerning tastes who prefer a traditional aesthetic.   Pictured: Waldorf Astoria Chicago   A small step below its competitors St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton, the Waldorf Astoria brand is synonymous with timeless hospitality. This iconic brand stems from the original, century-old Waldorf Astoria in New York City, but now includes over 32 hotels in 14 countries. Guests can expect personalized service and luxurious amenities, including golf courses at many properties. Competing closely with Waldorf Astoria is the JW Marriott brand, which has a slightly less opulent aesthetic but a larger global footprint (110 properties in 29 countries). These luxury hotels offer one-of-a-kind experiences for the whole family, from art classes for the little ones to romantic spa treatments, with a focus on being present and mindful. JW Marriott’s target guests are “enrichment seekers” who want to engage with their destination. Like Waldorf Astoria and JW Marriott, the Grand Hyatt brand offers premium amenities tailored to all types of guests, from business travelers to families. Grand Hyatt hotels and resorts include spas, meeting and event space, dining venues, and refined architecture and decor, with notable properties in Tokyo and Abu Dhabi. Travelers looking for a luxurious, family-friendly experience in a resort destination should consider Hyatt Zilara/Hyatt Ziva, which offer a similar level of service and amenities as the previously mentioned brands. Located in vacation destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, these high-end resorts offer a premium, all-inclusive experience for couples and families. Amenities include top-of-the-line fitness centers, spas, restaurants, bars, and event spaces, plus spectacular outdoor pools and beach access. Hyatt Zilara/Hyatt Ziva competes not only with traditional luxury hotels, but also cruise lines and resorts like Club Med and RIU.   Pictured: Hualuxe Wuhu   Speaking of traditional luxury hotels, IHG’s Hualuxe brand takes tradition to a new level. Featuring traditional Chinese design, amenities, and etiquette, Hualuxe caters to elite business travelers in 10 markets in China. These hotels include nature-inspired decor, local food and beverage offerings, and meeting spaces suitable for conferences or social gatherings with clients. It’s a close competitor of Mandarin Oriental, since they both offer Asian-inspired service and design.   Design-Focused Luxury Brands For the high-end traveler who doesn’t want to stay in a stuffy, old-fashioned hotel, design-forward brands like W Hotels (Marriott), EDITION (Marriott), Andaz (Hyatt), Conrad (Hilton), and Thompson Hotels (Hyatt) deliver exceptional service in totally out-of-the-box surroundings. You’ll feel like you’re staying inside a work of art at these hotels. Eye-catching decor, funky lighting, and unique architecture come standard. Though they’re part of major hotel chains, you’ll have a hard time believing these properties are remotely related to big-box brands like Courtyard or Hampton. Interested in more hotels with a creative bent? Check out the design-focused soft brands at the end of this article.   Pictured: W New York Downtown   Taking inspiration from music, events, and technology, W Hotels is a leading luxury brand with a completely unique look. This brand competes with luxury boutique brands like Morgans and the Standard. W Hotels think outside of the box with design-forward architecture, cutting-edge tech, and an emphasis on music. Many properties have on-site recording studios, high-energy nightclubs and bars, poolside events, and fitness classes that encourage you to detox before you re-tox. Like the sound of the W brand? You have plenty to choose from; there are now nearly 70 W hotels around the world, including destinations like Aspen and Barcelona. Andaz is another arts-inspired brand, though these hotels tone down the party atmosphere and turn up the sophistication. Signature features at Andaz hotels include modern design, high-tech meeting spaces, and state-of-the-art fitness facilities, which are especially relevant to the brand’s guests, who often mix business trips with leisure time. Each Andaz incorporates elements of the local arts and culture scene to create a unique sense of place. Like Andaz and W, Marriott’s EDITION combines luxury with design, food, and entertainment. The EDITION brand is the brainchild of famed hotel developer Ian Schrager, and every property features its own unique design infused with the character of its location. The hotels offer contemporary decor, gourmet dining venues, luxurious pools, and buzzing nightclubs. This new brand includes 11 properties in 7 countries. While Andaz, EDITION, and W feature design that’s almost larger than life, Conrad’s urban and resort properties feature subtler, contemporary design, plus spas, wellness facilities, and high-end dining. The brand’s mission is to inspire your experience with tailored service and on-site art collections, and these hotels target design enthusiasts of all ages. Focusing more on designing great culinary experiences, Thompson Hotels is a collection of high-end boutique hotels which combine the unique character of each destination with a mid-century modern theme present. Thompson Hotels typically include vibrant restaurants or bars and funky, unconventional meeting spaces. Close competitors of the Thompson brand include 1Hotels, Rosewood, and NomadHotels.   Luxury Wellness Brands Who doesn’t love a good massage? Luxury wellness hotel brands like Miraval (Hyatt) and Six Senses (IHG) offer possibly the best way to relax (and redeem points) after all those business trips. These brands compete with independent destination spas like Canyon Ranch, La Reserve Geneve, and Rancho Valencia. Miraval is a collection of four all-inclusive wellness resorts in the United States that provide exceptional wellbeing experiences. These exclusive properties offer nutritious cuisine, spa services, and outdoor experiences to nourish body and soul. They cater to luxury travelers who want to unplug and refresh.    Pictured: Six Senses Con Dao   Craving an international escape from the stresses of daily life? While all Miraval properties are based stateside, the Six Senses brand can be found in 14 countries worldwide. Six Senses provides oases of calm set among stunning natural landscapes. Each property has a high-end spa and locally inspired dining outlets, and some have villa- or apartment-style residences that are ideal for longer stays.   Upper Upscale Hotel Brands Positioned slightly under the “luxury” category, upper upscale hotels are full-service properties with premium amenities and notable designs that cater to affluent travelers. They’re usually located in major cities and resort destinations worldwide. Upper Upscale isn’t a one-size-fits-all category, though. We’ll explore three distinct types of Upper Upscale brands: traditional brands, modern brands, and brands that specialize in groups and conventions.   Traditional Upper Upscale Brands With amenities and service that are pretty darn close to what you’d find at a luxury property, these traditional Upper Upscale brands are ideal for business and leisure travelers who want the best, but also want a good value. This category includes InterContinental Hotels and Resorts (IHG), Hyatt Regency (Hyatt), Wyndham Grand (Wyndham), Westin (Marriott), Sheraton (Marriott), Le Meridien (Marriott), Renaissance (Marriott), Hotel Indigo (IHG), and Alila (Hyatt). These brands often compete with luxury brands like Grand Hyatt and Ritz-Carlton, but come at a lower price point.   Pictured: InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam   If there were a chain scale between Luxury and Upper Upscale, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts would embody it perfectly. These sophisticated hotels offer high-end amenities and exceptional service to business and leisure travelers - a good alternative Grand Hyatt, JW Marriott, and W Hotels. InterContinentals often include spas, executive lounges, elegant meeting spaces, and stylish guestroom decor. You’ll find over 200 InterContinental hotels in 68 countries. Sitting squarely in the Upper Upscale tier is Hyatt Regency, which includes urban and resort properties that are suitable for both business and leisure travelers. These hotels are known for classic design, excellent service, and a wide variety of amenities like meeting spaces, business centers, fitness centers, and restaurants. There are also about 200 Hyatt Regency hotels worldwide, so you’ll always be able to find one in major cities.   Pictured: Wyndham Grand Desert, Las Vegas   Like InterContinental and Hyatt Regency, Wyndham Grand hotels feature amenities for both families and business travelers, including pools, spas, meeting spaces, and restaurants. Guestrooms include WynRest® bedding and modern decor, and public spaces offer a taste of the local character - plus great service. And don’t just take Wyndham’s word for it, 97% of Wyndham Grand hotels have earned a Tripadvisor rating of 4 or above.   Pictured: Westin Anaheim Resort   The Westin brand is on par with Hyatt and Wyndham, though these hotels incorporate a focus on wellness into every amenity, from relaxing pools to healthy cuisine at on-site restaurants to their signature pillow-top Heavenly® Beds. The brand’s partnerships with New Balance and TRX provide an array of fitness options, and many properties have kids clubs and spas. Westin hotels cater to business and leisure travelers who seek personal and professional success. With over 80 years of history, the Sheraton brand is a solid competitor of Hyatt Regency and Westin. This brand combines traditional hospitality with modern amenities in destinations around the world. Sheraton hotels feature elegant design, gourmet dining venues, chic executive lounges, sophisticated meeting spaces, and a slew of wellness amenities. Hyatt Regency has a much larger footprint with over 440 hotels in 70+ countries.   Pictured: Le Meridien Koh Samui   Marriott’s Le Meridien brand brings a touch of vintage French glamour to the Upper Upscale space. Le Meridien hotels feature mid-century modern decor, internationally inspired cocktail bars, and partnerships with European brands like Illy Coffee. Some properties have kids clubs, spas, art collections, and seasonal amenities or pop-up dining venues. Le Meridian targets the “creative traveler” and competes with InterContinental, Kimpton, and Hyatt Regency. Renaissance, another Marriott brand, fills a gap between the chic design of InterContinental and the local vibe of Kimpton. The Renaissance brand appeals to curious travelers who want to uncover hidden gems in their destinations. Each hotel’s staff members act as “Navigators” who provide neighborhood recommendations, and locally inspired on-site restaurants and stylish decor add to the sense of place. If Renaissance hotels sound like your type of place, you’ll be happy to know there are nearly 200 of them in 42 countries worldwide.   Pictured: Hotel Indigo Berlin Centre Alexanderplatz   Like Renaissance, IHG’s Hotel Indigo brand could be considered a traditional Upper Upscale brand inspired by boutique hotels. Echoing the destination’s personality, every Hotel Indigo offers curated decor and local cuisine that provide a boutique-style experience in primarily US and European cities. Each property includes 24/7 fitness and business centers (ideal for business travelers!), flexible function space, and premium guestroom amenities that could include rainfall showers and hardwood floors. While many Upper Upscale brands speak to both business and leisure travelers, Hyatt’s Alila brand is most suitable for vacationers who want to get away from it all. Alila, meaning “surprise” in Sanskrit, specializes in experiences that reflect a sense of place, like upscale gastronomy, outdoor adventures, and locally inspired spa services. Alila hotels are primarily located in Asia and can be competitors of Miraval and Ritz-Carlton.   Modern Upper Upscale Brands Do you like the idea of an Upper Upscale hotel but crave a contemporary twist? Brands like Hyatt Centric (Hyatt), Moxy (Marriott), Tempo (Hilton), and Kimpton (IHG) offer the same high-quality amenities and service but with a dash of personality. These brands are also forward-thinking in their design; some offer coworking spaces and tech features that make them more attractive to a younger demographic.   Pictured: Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami   Hyatt Centric is one of the most popular Upper Upscale brands that has a contemporary aesthetic and vision. These modern hotels invite you to explore your destination through local cuisine at the on-site dining venues, staff that act as local “hosts,” and room decor that offers a sense of place. Every hotel has a multi-purpose lobby space where you can dine, drink, work, and socialize. Like Hyatt Centric, Moxy proves that a hotel with great style doesn’t need to be expensive. Signature features include a combination bar and front desk, a funky lobby packed with art and furniture, a cafe open 24/7, and cozy guestrooms with smart TVs and walk-in showers. Moxy bills itself as “edgy and affordable,” and the brand competes with trendy chains like CitizenM, Yotel, and Generator. Hilton’s brand new Tempo brand is an exciting addition to the Upper Upscale category. Tempo offers premium service and a collection of curated wellness and lifestyle amenities, including exclusive bath products and a complimentary tea and coffee bar. Each hotel also has flexible coworking spaces that target a younger demographic that mixes work with leisure.   Pictured: Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver   A longtime boutique chain, Kimpton is now part of IHG, but these hotels still don’t take themselves too seriously.. The brand is known for stylish guestrooms and high-end dining, and while no two hotels are the same, they all offer a complimentary daily wine hour and in-room fitness amenities - plus, pets stay for free. The Kimpton brand competes with Hyatt Centric as well as more classic properties like Le Meridien.   Convention & Group Hotels Looking for the perfect hotel for your meeting or event? Gaylord Hotels (Marriott) and Dolce (Wyndham) are ideal for large-scale gatherings. They’re the perfect settings for functions that range from conventions to weddings. The Gaylord Hotels brand includes large convention center hotels that have everything you need for a conference, meeting, or social gathering. Every Gaylord hotel has over 400,000 square feet of function space and several dining outlets, while some also offer family-friendly recreational amenities like golf courses and water parks. All six Gaylord properties are located in the US, and they offer comparable service and amenities to Destination Hotels properties.   Pictured: Dolce Athens Attica Riviera   Wyndham’s Dolce brand is a curated collection of properties that are ideal for business or social gatherings with flexible event spaces and on-site catering options. Some properties have spas and golf courses, and most are set in tranquil, scenic destinations in the US and Europe.   Upscale Hotel Brands The Upscale category includes full-service hotels with premium amenities that cater to leisure travelers and business professionals. Guests at upscale properties are willing to spend more to stay comfortably in a convenient location or remarkable destination -- but without splurging on over-the-top amenities. There are a lot of brands that fall into the Upscale bracket, so we’ll break them out into traditional, modern, and extended-stay categories to easily explain the differences between them.   Traditional Upscale Brands These brands are the most traditional hotels in every sense of the world. They usually have restaurants, gyms, and rooms that have plenty of amenities, but nothing over the top. Traditional Upscale brands include Crowne Plaza (IHG), Wyndham Hotels (Wyndham), DoubleTree (Hilton), Courtyard (Marriott), Hilton Garden Inn (Hilton), Hyatt Place (Hyatt), and Delta Hotels (Marriott), and they’re suitable for both business travelers and families on vacation. Crowne Plaza tailors its offerings for business travelers with round-the-clock dining options, fitness centers, meeting spaces, and amenities to help you get a good night’s sleep. Most properties are located in major business centers, while some are in leisure destinations, in 65 countries worldwide. Crowne Plaza is a close competitor of DoubleTree, Sheraton, and Renaissance. Wyndham is a longtime brand that includes both urban hotels that cater to business travelers and family-friendly resorts that cater to vacationers. All hotels have meeting space, fitness centers, and dining options, and some offer pools, beach access, and in-room wellness amenities like aromatherapy and air purification systems. Wyndham properties are at the higher end of the Upscale category, competing with Upper Upscale brands like Hilton and Marriott.   Pictured: DoubleTree Hotel Dallas   Hilton’s DoubleTree brand is a close competitor of Wyndham. The brand is famous for their signature chocolate chip cookie at check-in. DoubleTree hotels cater to business and leisure travelers with traditional decor, fitness centers, meeting spaces, on-site restaurants, and golf courses and spas at some properties. DoubleTrees are set in primarily urban locations in 46 countries around the world. As Marriott’s largest brand by number of hotels, Courtyard hotels have business centers, gyms, pools (in some properties), and an all-day bistro serving food, Starbucks coffee, and drinks. Guestrooms are suitable for all kinds of travelers, with desks and modern decor. Courtyard hotels are more “cookie-cutter” than Wyndham and DoubleTree, and the brand has a much larger footprint - over 1200 properties in 56 countries! Like Courtyard, Hilton Garden Inn hotels are largely the same in every city - which is a great thing if you want to be confident in the hotel’s quality and amenities. Known for their classic, bright aesthetic, Hilton Garden Inn hotels are located in both major metropolitan markets and small towns. This brand is a favorite among business travelers, and each hotel has a spacious lobby, meeting space, a fitness center, and cooked-to-order breakfast available daily. On par with Courtyard and Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt Place is designed for guests who want comfort and consistency. Hyatt Place hotels have gyms, meeting spaces, lobby bars, and daily breakfast service (free for Hyatt members). Guestrooms include modern decor and workspaces, and you can usually find Hyatt Place hotels in urban, airport, or college campus markets. Marriott’s Delta brand also caters to business travelers who want both functionality and style, Delta Hotels offer fitness centers, free WiFi and water bottles, ergonomic in-room workspaces, lobby bars, and the 24/7 “Delta Pantry.”   Modern Upscale Brands While the traditional Upscale hotels offer consistency, these modern hotels offer something unique. Brands like Signia (Hilton), Caption (Hyatt), EVEN Hotels (IHG), Voco (IHG), Dazzler (Wyndham), and Esplendor (Wyndham) provide stylish, communal spaces for working and socializing, refreshing dining options, and decor that reflects the local character. These hotels are competitors of not only the traditional hotels in this space, like Courtyard and DoubleTree, but also independent and boutique hotels in each destination. Designed for social and corporate gatherings, Hilton’s new Signia brand offers a sleek aesthetic, high-quality bars and restaurants, and cutting-edge technology in guestrooms and public spaces. The first Signia hotels are planned for Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Orlando. Another new brand, Hyatt’s Caption, is also centered around social connections, but with an emphasis on local cuisine. Caption hotels have flexible common spaces and a unique dining concept that combines a cafe, a bar, and a market at each property. Caption properties are slated to be located in up-and-coming urban areas.   Pictured: EVEN Hotels-Omaha   Catering to the fitness-focused business traveler, EVEN Hotels offer health-conscious cuisine at the Cork & Kale™ Market and Bar, state-of-the-art fitness centers, and spacious guestrooms with exercise equipment and ergonomic workspaces. This brand is a good competitor of Courtyard and Hilton Garden Inn, but it offers enhanced fitness amenities that appeal to wellness-minded travelers. There are currently 13 EVEN properties in the U.S., but that number is likely to grow quickly. Outside of the U.S., IHG’s new Voco brand provides a relaxed, homey experience for travelers who are looking for something besides a cookie-cutter chain hotel. Voco properties are located in the UK, Asia, and Australia, and many have on-site restaurants and living room-style lobbies similar to what you would find at a Hyatt Centric. Also found abroad, Dazzler is a stylish Latin American brand known for contemporary design, free buffet breakfast, and upscale public spaces like gyms, pools, and rooftop decks. These hotels are also reminiscent of Hyatt Centric. Dazzler properties are primarily located in urban markets in South America.   Pictured: Esplendor by Wyndham Buenos Aires   Located in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, Wyndham’s Esplendor brand features curated art collections, a boutique ambiance, and comfortable and classic guestroom decor at each unique property. Some Esplendor hotels have pools, spas, and fitness centers, and the brand’s target demographic is younger guests who appreciate good design. Esplendor is a solid competitor of Kimpton and Hyatt Centric.   Extended-Stay Upscale Brands Some of us wish our travels could last for weeks or months, but for certain travelers, they do. Extended-stay Upscale brands like Homewood Suites (Hilton), Hyatt House (Hyatt), Residence Inn (Marriott), and Element (Marriott) offer apartment-style rooms that have everything you need to feel at home. These brands compete not only with other hotel brands, but also with Airbnb and corporate housing providers. Pictured: Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Hotel Circle/SeaWorld Area   Marriott’s Homewood Suites brand is ideal for guests who are staying for an extended period of time - for business or personal purposes. Every room includes a full kitchen (with dishwasher!), a living area, and ample storage space, and the hotels provide free hot breakfast, a free weekday happy hour, and fitness centers. Fun fact: Homewood Suites was named as having the fastest-growing value out of 50 hotel brands! Named for the very first Hyatt property, Hyatt House offers extended stay accommodation for all types of travelers. Every suite features a full kitchen, living area, and up to two bedrooms, and on-site amenities include free breakfast, a gym, a coin-op laundry room, a bar, and a pool (at some properties). With a home-like ambiance, Residence Inn hotels cater to business travelers and families who need a place to stay for weeks or months at a time. Each room includes a full kitchen, a workspace, and up to two bedrooms, and hotel amenities include free hot breakfast, a fitness center, a nightly social hour, and on-site laundry. Renaissance Inn, Hyatt House, and Homewood Suites are all close competitors. For long-stay guests who are passionate about fitness and sustainability, Marriott’s Element brand might be the perfect fit. Element incorporates sustainable practices and a focus on wellness into the design and amenities at each property, which can include premium fitness equipment, bikes for guest use, saltwater swimming pools, and organic wine at the nightly manager’s reception. Guestrooms feature full kitchens and Westin Heavenly® Beds.   Upper Midscale Hotel Brands Upper Midscale hotels offer spacious accommodations while catering often to extended stays for both business and leisure. Many of these brands have unveiled modern refreshes that bring the category out of the past and into the present. For more clarity, we’ll break out the extended-stay brands at the end of this section. Standard Upper Midscale hotel brands that don’t target extended stays specifically include Hampton (Hilton), Fairfield (Marriott), La Quinta (Wyndham), Atwell (IHG), TRYP (Wyndham), Wyndham Garden (Wyndham), and Protea (Marriott).   Pictured: Hampton Inn Boston - Westborough    One of the most popular Upper Midscale brands is Hilton’s Hampton, which is formerly known as Hampton Inn. This brand appeals to all types of travelers, with a whopping 2500+ properties in rural and urban markets, primarily in the US. Signature amenities include free hot breakfast, gyms, business centers, and multipurpose lobby space. A close competitor to Hampton is Marriott’s Fairfield, which is also suitable for business and leisure travelers alike, Fairfield is known for its simple aesthetic and efficient guestrooms. Most Fairfield hotels offer free breakfast, fitness centers, business centers, and meeting space, and some have pools. While Fairfield properties are a lot like Hampton, the brand’s footprint is smaller, with about 1150 properties worldwide. If you’ve tried Hampton and Fairfield and are looking for something new, the recently refreshed La Quinta brand might be of interest. All La Quinta hotels have modern decor, free breakfast, and guestrooms with pillow-top beds and HDTVs. Some properties have pools, fitness centers, meeting spaces, and pet-friendly policies, making them ideal for both business and leisure travelers seeking a good value. Maybe you’ve already tried La Quinta too - or you’re searching for a brand that’s more unique than the tried-and-true classics. IHG just launched Atwell Suites, which they bill as a new brand that speaks to travelers who seek personal growth and crave social connection, with flexible public areas, free breakfast, and colorful decor. Each Atwell hotel will have suite-style guestrooms, a pool, a bar, and meeting space.    Pictured: TRYP by Wyndham Dubai   If the Atwell brand strikes a chord with you, then you’ll probably like Wyndham’s TRYP brand too. Pops of color add a playful personality to every TRYP hotel, where you’ll also find at least one restaurant, a fitness center, free WiFi, and staff that serve as local experts. TRYP aims to help travelers have authentic experiences in the brand’s destinations on five continents. Many TRYP hotels are located in urban markets, and the brand competes with the hip Moxy, Aloft, and Tru hotels. In addition to its La Quinta and TRYP brands, Wyndham offers yet another option in the Upper Midscale space: Wyndham Garden. Typically located near airports or in secondary markets, Wyndham Garden hotels have meeting spaces, free WiFi, and daily breakfast service (fee applies). Some Wyndham Garden properties have pools, fitness centers, and lobby bars.   Pictured: Protea Hotel Knysna Quays   Marriott also has multiple players in the Upper Midscale space - the Africa-based Protea brand is a solid competitor of Hampton and IHG’s Holiday Inn Express. Protea hotels have full-service restaurants, meeting and event spaces, and free WiFi, and many have outdoor pools. Some Protea properties are located in urban, business-focused destinations, while others are in scenic leisure destinations. The brand currently has about 80 properties in 9 countries.   Extended-Stay Upper Midscale Brands Staying in your destination for a while and want all the amenities of an apartment - at a fair price? Staybridge Suites (IHG) and TownePlace Suites (Marriott) offer two wallet-friendly solutions for extended stays that don’t compromise on quality. Featuring spacious guestrooms with kitchens and living areas, Staybridge Suites is ideal for guests staying in a destination for several weeks or months. Hotel amenities include free breakfast, a free social happy hour, a gym, a laundry room, and storage lockers. Staybridge Suites is a good option if you want a hotel similar to Homewood Suites or Residence Inn at a slightly lower price point. Like Staybridge Suites, TownePlace Suites offers everything an extended stay guest could need, from full kitchens and custom closets in every room to a free hot breakfast every morning. On-site amenities include Weber grills, a 24/7 grab-and-go market, and a fitness center and pool at some properties, and the 450+ TownePlace hotels are located throughout the US and Canada.   Midscale Hotel Brands Featuring more amenities than Economy hotels but lower prices than Upper Midscale, Midscale hotels are found in urban areas as well as on highways and other transportation hubs. Many also have refreshed designs with contemporary amenities that today’s traveler expects. As new sub-brands emerge, we’ve noticed a trend towards increasingly modern and design-forward offerings in this category - which is dominated by Wyndham brands. Midscale brands include AmericInn (Wyndham), Baymont (Wyndham), Hawthorn Suites (Wyndham), Ramada (Wyndham), Wingate (Wyndham), and Tru (Hilton). We’ll start with the more traditional Midscale brands, then we’ll introduce the new, modern additions to this group. These Midscale chains compete with independent brands like Best Western and America’s Best Value Inn. Located primarily in the midwestern United States, AmericInn hotels offer free hot breakfast, fitness centers, indoor pools, and comfortable lobbies. Guestrooms include classic decor, desks, and TVs, making these hotels ideal for value-oriented business and leisure travelers. And travelers definitely like what AmericInn offers; 86% of AmericInn hotels score a 4+ rating on Tripadvisor!   Pictured: Baymont Inn & Suites Miami Airport   The Baymont brand includes unpretentious hotels that offer free breakfast, fitness centers, no-frills guestrooms, and thoughtful extras like board games and pet amenities. Baymont properties are located in rural and suburban locations throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. Baymont hotels are usually positioned toward the lower end of the Midscale spectrum and compete with Economy brands like Days Inn, EconoLodge, and Quality Inn. If you like the price point and no-frills attitude of Baymont and AmericInn but want a place that’s more comfortable for a long stay, then Wyndham’s Hawthorn Suites might be a good pick. Ideal for longer stays for business or leisure, most Hawthorn Suites properties include a fitness center, laundry facilities, and free daily breakfast and social hours. Guestrooms feature full kitchens, one or two private bedrooms, and living areas with couches and desks - making them a lower priced version of a TownePlace Suites or Hyatt Place.   Pictured: Ramada by Wyndham Amsterdam Airport Schiphol   But perhaps you’re looking for something with a fresher design and more modern amenities. The Ramada brand has been around since the 1950s, but today’s Ramada hotels offer 21st-century essentials like free WiFi and business centers in addition to free breakfast. Many Ramada properties are located near airports around the world, and some have pools, restaurants, and meeting spaces. Wingate is another brand that offers a new interpretation of the Midscale hotel concept. The corporate-oriented Wingate brand is known for its clean, modern aesthetic, spacious lobbies, free breakfast, and bright guestrooms that are perfect for business travelers who spend a lot of time on the road. Guestroom amenities include microwaves, mini-fridges, desks, and coffee makers, and some Wingate hotels have lobby bars and business centers. If you like the vibe of a Moxy hotel, Wingate can be a cheaper alternative.   Pictured: Tru by Hilton Stuttgart   A fresh face in the Midscale category is Hilton’s fast-growing Tru brand. The centerpoint of each of these cheerful, value-oriented hotels is the large lobby, which features a 24/7 sundry market, coworking space, plenty of seating, and pool and foosball tables. Tru’s efficient guestrooms have desks on wheels and spacious bathrooms, and you can work up a sweat at the on-site fitness center.   Economy Hotel Brands Economy hotels target the most budget-conscious travelers. These hotels are often found on highways and near airports. The rooms are simple and amenities sparse, although the hotel usually provides a basic self-service breakfast. Like the Midscale category, Wyndham dominates the Economy segment when we compare the top hotel companies. Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG have no brands here - yet. Economy brands include Days Inn (Wyndham), Howard Johnson (Wyndham), Microtel (Wyndham), Super 8 (Wyndham), and Travelodge (Wyndham).     Pictured: Days Inn Niagara Falls    With its iconic sunburst logo easily recognizable from the highway, Days Inn offers free breakfast and free WiFi to travelers on a budget. Some Days Inns have fitness centers, pools, restaurants, and meeting spaces, and the brand includes over 1600 properties on six continents. Like Days Inn, Howard Johnson is also an iconic roadside motel brand. Featuring an updated look, today’s Howard Johnsons combine retro-inspired decor with 21st-century amenities like USB outlets and free WiFi. All Howard Johnson hotels are suitable for families and offer free breakfast, while some have pools, meeting space, and pet-friendly policies. Though the name might suggest otherwise, Microtel properties are just as spacious as other economy hotels, such as Days Inn and Red Roof Inn. These hotels feature comfortable lobbies, free breakfast, and free WiFi. Guestrooms are efficiently designed and include microwaves and mini-fridges, and some Microtels include pools, fitness centers, meeting space, and free parking.   Pictured: Super 8 by Wyndham Dresden   If Days Inn or Howard Johnson sounded like your type of hotel, then you might also be interested in Super 8. This one is also a modernized version of the roadside motel. Super 8 hotels are known for free breakfast, free WiFi, and simple guestrooms with amenities like microwaves and flat-screen TVs. Some Super 8s have indoor or outdoor pools, and the brand is present in primarily rural markets across the US, Canada, China, and Europe. Super 8, Days Inn, and their competitors are great if you’re on a road trip or visiting a small town for work. But are there any Economy hotels that are not located on the highway? Travelodge hotels are usually situated in urban markets, by airports, or near national parks. They offer basic amenities at a low price, making them good competitors of other Economy brands, Airbnbs, and even hostels.  Many Travelodges have free breakfast, free parking, free WiFi, fitness centers, and pools, making them suitable for budget travelers or sports teams.   Soft Brands & Collections What is a “soft brand” exactly? Having become a popular trend in recent years, soft brands are collections of independent hotels that maintain an affiliation with a larger hospitality company. These collections bring together boutiques and other independent hotels into a distinctive portfolio under one brand umbrella. Their connections to leading hotel companies allow travelers to earn or redeem points via a global loyalty program. While the hotels that make up each soft brand are unique, the soft brands themselves have their own characteristics. We’ll break down the big “soft brand” category into three sub-segments: luxury, design-focused, and boutique.   Luxury Soft Brands Searching for a splurge-worthy vacation that will earn rewards points? Luxury soft brands like LXR (Hilton), The Luxury Collection (Marriott), Destination Hotels (Hyatt), the Unbound Collection (Hyatt), and the Curio Collection (Hilton) offer the best of two worlds: exclusive, luxurious hotels and resorts - and the loyalty programs of their parent brands. These hotels are great options for point redemptions when you don’t want to stay at a Westin, Park Hyatt, or Six Senses.   Pictured: Habtoor Palace Dubai (LXR)   On par with luxury hotels like Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis, LXR’s exclusive collection of luxury hotels and resorts targets affluent travelers with a sense of adventure and an appreciation for personalized service. Renowned LXR properties include Zemi Beach House in Anguilla and The Biltmore, Mayfair in London. Properties in this collection are similar to what you’ll find in the Luxury Collection and Destination Hotels. A close competitor of LXR, Marriott’s Luxury Collection includes 236 properties in 55 countries. Set in truly unique destinations, often away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Luxury Collection hotels offer bucket list-worthy accommodations and local experiences that you can’t find anywhere else. The Luxury Collection includes Vedema in Santorini (where you can taste wine in an ancient cave) and Solaz in Los Cabos (where you can explore an on-site museum).    Pictured: Wild Dunes Resort (Destination Hotels)   Destination Hotels offers beautiful properties with a more family-friendly atmosphere than some ultra-premium brands. With hotels located in remarkable locations across the United States, Destination’s collection includes properties that specialize in spa, golf, and luxury experiences and offer amenities for business and leisure travelers - similar to yet slightly above what you’d find at Marriott’s Autograph Collection. One-of-a-kind Destination Hotels include The Lodge at Kukui’ula in Hawai’i and Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina. Positioned just beneath true luxury collections like LXR and Destination, the Unbound Collection includes luxury and upper-upscale hotels that range from historic to ultra-modern and cosmopolitan to secluded. The Unbound Collection’s guests “crave the unconventional and expect the exceptional,” so you can be sure you will get a truly unique experience. Examples of Unbound Collection properties are the Carmelo Resort & Spa in Carmelo, Uruguay and The Eliza Jane in New Orleans.   Pictured: Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton   While Destination and the Unbound Collection include many family-friendly properties in leisure vacation destinations, Hilton’s Curio Collection is known for its portfolio of historic, distinctive four- and five-star hotels. This brand targets open-minded travelers, both business travelers and vacation-goers, who want the experience of an independent hotel and the level of service expected from an upscale Hilton. Notable Curio hotels include The Trafalgar St. James London and The Logan Philadelphia.   Design-Focused Soft Brands All soft brands technically place emphasis on design - since they’re a far cry from the “big box” brands - but this group makes a special effort to include properties that are truly exceptional. Both Design Hotels (Marriott) and Tribute Portfolio (Marriott) can be viewed as competitors of luxury or upper upscale brands, but a better comparison is to truly independent hotels or independent-leaning chains like Leading Hotels of the World. Since each one of these hotels is so unique, you wouldn’t know it’s part of a “chain” unless someone told you!   Pictured: Ion Adventure Hotel, Selfoss, Iceland (Design Hotels)   With striking architecture and inventive decor, Design Hotels push the boundaries of the traditional image of a hotel. These hotels are located in a variety of locations around the world, from cities to remote beaches, The Design Hotels collection includes over 300 properties on six continents. Exceptionally notable hotels are Habita in Mexico City and Analeya in Marrakech.   Pictured: The Vagabond Club Singapore (Tribute Portfolio)   Like Design Hotels, the Tribute Portfolio includes design-forward properties, but with emphasis on warm, genuine hospitality, curated art and decor, and notable dining venues. Many Tribute hotels feature distinctive themes, like the baseball-inspired Hotel Zachary in Chicago and the whiskey-obsessed Vagabond Club in Singapore. Most are suitable for both business and leisure travel, and the collection is viewed as a competitor of the Curio Collection and Preferred Hotels & Resorts.   Boutique Soft Brands Not all soft brands are positioned at the luxury end of the spectrum - which is good news for travelers who are searching for the boutique vibe at a lower price point. Boutique soft brands like the Autograph Collection (Marriott), the Tapestry Collection (Hilton), Joie de Vivre (Hyatt), and the Trademark Collection (Wyndham) include a range of hotels at various price points. Some of these hotels are on par with a Waldorf or a Ritz, while others can be considered competitors of Hyatt Centric or Tru.   Pictured: The Brown Palace Hotel (Autograph Collection)   The Autograph Collection contains boutique hotels especially well suited for foodies, design fans, stylish business travelers, and corporate retreats - which are broken out in sub-collections. You can find a wide spectrum of hotels in this group, from exquisite luxury properties to hip yet simple boutiques. The collection includes over 200 hotels in 32 countries. Notable Autograph properties include The Douglas in Vancouver and Cotton House Hotel in Barcelona. Positioned slightly beneath the Curio Collection, the Tapestry Collection is made up of boutique hotels with their own unique personalities. The Tapestry Collection caters to a younger demographic with amenities that are especially relevant to millennials. Examples of Tapestry hotels include the Hotel Skyler in Syracuse, NY and The Bernic Hotel in New York City.   Pictured: The Laurel Inn (Joie de Vivre)   Joie de Vivre includes boutique hotels like the Autograph and Tapestry Collections, but this group focuses on bringing local character and thoughtful design to life via chef-driven restaurants, creative meeting spaces, and stylish guestrooms packed with modern amenities. These hotels have a trendy vibe and offer plenty of spaces for socializing, similar to Kimpton. The Joie de Vivre brand includes Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco and Hotel Revival in Baltimore. The Trademark Collection includes unique properties that offer a sense of place and amenities that business and leisure travelers want: on-site dining, access to a fitness center, and flexible meeting space at most properties. Members of the Trademark Collection include The Burgess Hotel in Atlanta and the H+ group in Germany. With so many brands to choose from, you can find a segment or subset that truly speaks to your traveling style, price range, and amenity needs. And if you’re exploring hotel investment or franchising opportunities, you can surely find the perfect brand for your business goals.  

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Hotel Operations: 5 Practical Ways to Improve in 2020

Hotel Tech Report
2 days ago

Running a hotel is no easy task and hotel operations are insanely complex. Between managing rates and reservations on dozens of channels, keeping your teams in sync across multiple shifts, assigning rooms across various room types, and, most importantly, ensuring that guests are happy, there are a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong. And what about keeping the physical building in good shape? Organizing all of your SOPs and actioning all of these daily tasks is barely humanly possible, so how can you make sure your hotel succeeds? With the right hotel technology, you can make every department more efficient, streamline your basic hotel operations, delight guests, keep your property in tip-top shape, and even increase your RevPAR. Without it, your hotel could suffer from overworked staff, dissatisfied guests, and even physical damage. Hotel tech might seem intimidating if you’re just starting to explore the possibilities, so in this article, we’ll break down how technology can prevent things from going wrong in several hotel departments.   1. Streamline & Sync Your Presence Across Hotel Booking Sites Guests today book across dozens of hotel booking sites and the booking journey is extremely complex.  Some will book on your hotel website and others on a 3rd party OTA.  Others lean on their travel agents to book on their behalf via GDS.  A modern hotel PMS like Jonas Chorum sits at the center of reservations processes and acts as your property's single source of truth with regards to inventory management.  Without a modern PMS you risk poor connections with key systems.  A bad connection with your channel manager could lead to overbooking and a weak connection with your RMS means that you are likely losing revenue from inaccurate pricing. A modern cloud based PMS like Jonas Chorum also helps your team collaborate on reservations.  Your call center agents can quickly access and manage current bookings.  Your sales team can check to see which inventory is available and can be promised to new groups.  Your front desk agents use the PMS to create last minute walk in bookings.   2. Optimize Front Desk Agent Workflows with a Cloud PMS What if your front desk had no computers? Not only would the check-in process be tedious, there are so many opportunities for the check-in to go wrong. How would a front desk agent know which rooms are clean? How would they know about special requests? How would they search for local recommendations? A good property management system not only makes basic hotel operations more efficient for your front desk team, but it also allows the check-in process to be a positive part of the guest experience. And if you’re a hotel manager, you know that the daily hotel operations manager checklist is long enough already, so a strong property management system will allow you to automate or streamline some of these responsibilities. When a guest walks up to the front desk to check in, your front desk staff will probably ask for their name to pull up their reservation. With a property management system in place, the front desk agent can find the guest’s booking in just a few clicks and immediately see the guest’s history, preferences, and reservation details. From there, the agent can check the guest in or out, move them to a new room, extend their stay, change their payment method, and more in seconds. Without good tech working behind the scenes, your employees would spend so much time on administrative tasks and communication that they wouldn’t be able to provide a good guest experience. You’ll save your guests from a poor front desk experience (and your front desk team’s time and energy!) when you implement an intuitive and robust property management system like Jonas Chorum.   3. Bring Teams Together with Business Intelligence and Analytics Software Managing a hotel’s finances is a difficult enough task even with technology. If your finance team needed to manually add up all of the payroll expenses, utility costs, food and beverage orders, and more, they would never catch a break! Financial software can not only keep your finance department sane, but also help you uncover trends that can prevent your hotel from losing money. Except for your finance staff, most hotel employees are blissfully unaware of the billing process. Finance staff, however, know how tedious budget season is and how time-consuming it is to invoice vendors and manage payroll. Good finance technology can save your accounting team from a mountain of work by automating payroll, creating invoice templates, and even compiling reports on the hotel’s financial activities. Rather than tracking all of your hotel’s revenue and expenses in Excel, a robust accounting system can create a P&L in a quick click of the mouse. Business intelligence isn't just about revenue management or finance, it's about bringing your department heads under one centralized roof with real-time data to empower efficient hotel administration and deliver high guest satisfaction scores.   4. Price Rooms Smarter with Revenue Tools In order to sell competitive rates, you need to have a pulse on market behavior. When are the high-demand dates? What rates are your competitors selling? Since rates change constantly, if you had to do all of this research manually, revenue managers could never keep up. Revenue management software does the heavy lifting for you by analyzing market trends to recommend the best rates for your hotel, which prevents you from leaving money on the table. Revenue management tools provide rate recommendations based on market demand and competitor rates and can update your rates automatically, which saves a lot of time. These systems are especially useful for setting rates during peak demand periods (like special events), since they save your hotel from underpriced bookings that erode your RevPAR. Of course, these systems allow you to enter your own restrictions and overrides, so you can save yourself from the risk of selling rates that are too low.   5. Maximizes the Life of FF&E with Engineering Tech Your maintenance team can’t possibly catch every leak or replace every lightbulb as soon as it goes out all on their own. The engineering team needs help from other departments (especially room attendants and front desk agents) and from technology to receive, action, and track service requests. Imagine if a housekeeper noticed that a sink was leaking in a guestroom, told a maintenance employee right away, but the maintenance employee was busy and forgot about it? A few days later, your hotel could face some costly water damage all because you didn’t have technology in place to track the maintenance issue - not to mention a potentially poor guest experience. Engineering software allows hotel staff to submit service orders that can be actioned by the maintenance team, ensuring that nothing gets overlooked or forgotten. The engineering team can even access these systems from their smartphones, so if an urgent service request comes up, someone can handle it immediately. These systems also track requests in a queue, which means team members can hold each other accountable, and you can analyze trends to see which requests occur more frequently. Armed with this knowledge, your hotel can stay in perfect condition for years to come, and guests won’t keep calling the front desk about the lightbulb that hasn’t been replaced for three days. -- By now, we hope you understand just how crucial technology is for basic hotel operations. Your hotel manager duties and responsibilities are hard enough without the added stress of service recovery, missed revenue, or maintenance issues. You can prevent all kinds of guest experience failures and potential back-of-house mistakes by implementing good hotel technology that allows you to organize, automate, and streamline tasks. Besides helping you avoid these potential hiccups, good technology will free up your time so you can think strategically and delight guests.  

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Hotel Technology: 8 Trends to Watch in 2020

Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

In 2017, Uber predicted that the company would launch flying car ridesharing by the end of 2020. That hasn’t quite panned out, obviously – joining the list of Jetsons-like technology of the future that never lived up to the hype. For those of us keeping an eye on technology in hotels, it can be difficult to discern what trends are here to stay and what trends are simply a marketing stunt. We can’t predict what will happen in the future, but we can watch industry trends as leading indicators. That’s just what we’ve done to compile this list of trends that we believe are worth watching in 2020. From white labeling to the decline of OTA dominance, here’s where we predict hotel technology will go this year. 1. SaaS is exploding 2. APIs are mainstream 3. Guest room technology innovation 4. Privacy & cybersecurity 5. OTAs struggling 6. WiFi 6 7. Big data 8. Digital hotel companies   SaaS is Exploding Interest in investing in hotel technology has slowly ramped up in recent years. Venture capitalists are finally starting to recognize the opportunity to invest in tools and platforms that allow hotels to capture new levels of hotel operations efficiency and revenue growth. “Despite all the innovation that has taken place in the sector over the last decade, there remains massive, untapped opportunity and potential in many categories within the hospitality arena. Despite being one of the largest and most dynamic segments of the US and global economy, penetration of cloud-based technologies in the segment remains incredibly low, and the vendor landscape remains tremendously fragmented on a global basis,” says Matt Melymuka, co-founder and partner at PeakSpan Capital. Those untapped opportunities that Melymuka references? Venture capitalists are starting to catch on. This month, Cloudbeds announced a Series C minority investment round of $82 million, led by Viking Global Investors with participation from PeakSpan Capital, Recruit Co., Ltd., Counterpart Ventures, and Cultivation Capital. Cloudbeds offers an all-in-one suite of tools, including a property management system, channel manager, booking engine, and revenue manager, growing revenue and automating workflows at more than 20,000 properties. Their Series C fundraising success indicates a growing appetite among investors for cloud-based, low-cost solutions that seamlessly communicate across platforms to target, acquire, and retain guests. Mews Systems, another top-ranked, cloud-based property management system, raised $33 million in its Series B funding round led by Battery Ventures. “As hotel and other hospitality property owners look to address the challenge of competition from peer-to-peer platforms like Airbnb, Mews provides hoteliers with the tools to not have to worry about the day-to-day of running the business, and instead focus on improving guest experience and helping travelers have the trip of a lifetime,” said Sanjiv Kalevar, Principal at Battery Ventures. Oaky, one of the industry’s leading upselling tools, raised a Series A funding round of $9.5 million led by PeakScan Capital. Oaky’s appeal to investors stems from the app’s data-driven approach to driving incremental revenue. Their deep understanding of customer behavior makes Oaky one of the top-rated upselling tools on the market today. VCs aren’t the only stakeholders interested in investing in hotel tech. Zingle, a guest-messaging software, was acquired by Medallia, an experience management company, for a $42 million cash deal in 2019. Hotels use Zingle’s messaging tools to deliver five-star service at scale; Medallia’s investment in Zingle gives hotels the opportunity to provide frictionless guest service and streamline time-consuming interactions, such as check-in. Life House, a tech-first hotel experience, shows proof-of-concept: that hotels that invest in technology drive higher revenue, better guest reviews, and a higher star-rating. Life House’s market traction epitomizes the appetite for investing in hotel tech. The hospitality startup closed a $30 million Series B from a large group of investors led by Thayer Ventures. “Life House is an unusual company in that it started out as a software provider aimed at fixing ‘the broken and complex hotel operational model’ before morphing into a combination of tech provider, hotel manager and boutique hotel brand,” reports Crunchbase. Last but not least in the litany of hotel tech brands seeing interest from investors, SiteMinder raised $70 million led by BlackRock, valuing the company at $750 million – and making it the industry’s first unicorn. SiteMinder, like Cloudbeds, offers an end-to-end tech solution: a channel manager, online booking engine, website builder, and more. Its early success at over 35,000 properties shows that this market is only growing.    APIs are Mainstream White labeling is a practice in which a product – in this case, hotel software – is manufactured by a third party and uses branding by the purchaser, or marketer, so that the end product appears to have been produced by the purchaser. “The advantage is that a single company does not need to do it all: one firm can concentrate on producing the product; another on marketing it; and another can focus on selling it, each according to its expertise and preference,” writes Investopedia. White labeling has already begun in the hotel industry without hoteliers even knowing it. Property management systems that offer channel management integrations are usually white labelling their channel managers from other vendors. We believe this trend will continue, especially in the revenue management space where white labeling can solve two distinct problems: strategy and tactical management. Most revenue management systems focus on reporting and data visualization; the addition of white label software to the backend of an RMS can improve price optimization, letting hoteliers spend their time on higher value tasks and strategic revenue management. Along with white labeling, APIs are adding efficiency to hotel technology by integrating your tech stack and helping your tools talk to one another. An API, application programming interface, is simply a messenger of data between applications. APIs allow your various hotel technology tools and programs to work together, connecting your RMS to a PMS, or your PMS to your upsell software, or your business intelligence software to your PMS. An API makes your technology user-friendly and efficient; when your tools work together, you capture each platform’s full capabilities. API penetration in the hotel tech market has opened up a world of opportunities for property owners. For instance, feeding data from your PMS into a business intelligence tool leads to real, operational data to analyze trends and provide recommendations for better marketing campaigns, smarter staffing decisions, seasonal trends, and market competition. Hotels that are comfortable using APIs can automate tasks that take up much of their employee’s time with manual data entry.   Guest Room Technology Innovation Guests around the world have unprecedented convenience at home. The number of voice-controlled and streaming services that have proliferated the home in recent years is unprecedented: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for streaming; Alexa, Google Home, and Amazon Echo for voice; Creston, Nest, and other smart-home devices; Uber Eats, Door Dash, and Caviar for food delivery at the touch of a button. On-demand convenience dominates our lives, and guests expect this level of ease from their hotel experience as well. Hotels are catching on, adding convenience through streaming, voice activation, guest-room tablets, and food ordering tech. “Unlike other amenities that are requested but not necessarily used, streaming services are used on average by 40% of rooms—and they’re used longer than their cable counterparts,” Gavin Philipp, VP of operations at Charlestowne Hotels told Hotel News Now. The Amazon Fire Stick, Roku streaming stick, and Apple TV are all low-cost, easy-to-implement tools that some guests are even bringing with them. Hilton is taking a different approach, partnering with Netflix to allow guests to control their streaming straight from the Hilton Honors mobile app. As far as voice-activation, Volara is leading the way in providing a thoughtful, Alexa-esque guest-room solution. Volara integrates with the most popular work order management systems so that guests can make requests and get confirmation when the item or service they need will be delivered. It also integrates with in-room entertainment, eliminating the pain point of touching a germy remote control. Volara’s success is more than gimmicky – their product allows properties to interact with guests in a fun and scalable way. Guest room tablets provide convenience in a simple, straightforward upgrade that improves guest satisfaction scores virtually instantaneously. Tablets like those from Crave Interactive allow guests to customize their experience at will, booking spa appointments, taking advantage of F&B offers, and exploring local tours. And for savvy marketing managers, tablets provide a new channel through which to send targeted, automated messages generating $5,000 per month in additional revenue. Lastly, hotels are replicating the Uber Eats experience with tools like 2nd Kitchen and Bbot. 2nd Kitchen is a godsend for hotels without a kitchen on-site: guests can order room service from restaurants near your hotel, taking care of care of orders, menus, payment, fulfillment, and customer support for your property. Bbot’s mobile ordering technology gives guests a way to order and pay for food and drinks from their phones, cutting down on labor and menu management at your property. For guests, no need to call down, sign a receipt or spend time waiting in line for service.   Privacy & Cybersecurity Hotels are a prime target for hackers. “Only about 25% of all U.S. businesses, including hotel operators, are fully compliant with current data security best practices. That means that three out of four are not and are potential disasters waiting to happen,” reported one cybersecurity expert. Numerous high-profile malware attacks on the hotel industry have led to hundreds of millions of guests’ data being compromised and millions of dollars in damage. Just this February, MGM Resorts revealed they were the target of a massive data breach that compromised personal information for more than 10.6 million guests. Files leaked in the MGM attack included information on celebrities, chief executives of technology companies, reporters and government officials, according to Skift. With this trend on the rise, hotels are being forced to get smart about security. Property owners must do their research in selecting tech tools that provide multilayer security, data protection, secure transactions, and compliance with international payment and data privacy standards. Hotels must regularly host training to their staff on the proper way to handle personal information, comply with privacy regulations such as the GDPR, and change their access credentials regularly. The many tech innovations we see penetrating the market require constant vigilance of cybersecurity best practices, regular updates to security software, and dedication to routine testing and threat assessment.   OTAs are Struggling Expedia and Booking have taken some pretty big hits in recent months. Expedia’s shares ended 2019 down 4%, a slight decline but significant in comparison to the S&P 500, which returned 29%. Booking.com’s stock finished down 11% in January 2020 (in part due to COVID-19). Why the dive in stock price? There are two factors outside Coronavirus that are impacting OTAs. First, hotels are getting better at capturing direct bookings. Hotel tech like direct booking platforms, metasearch ad managers, and messaging integrations help properties draw more visitors to their site and convert more direct bookings, circumventing the high OTA commissions in the process. Direct booking tools that connect a property’s PMS, parity, behavioral and demographic data across the entire booking journey has put hotels on even footing with OTAs when it comes to winning bookings. Secondly, Google has entered the travel market in a big way. Google has expanded from traditional AdWords to include hotels everywhere via its Hotel Ads product. Google has historically been the source for much of OTAs inbound demand, and now that the platform is a direct competitor, OTAs are vulnerable unless they pay billions of dollars each year to Google to ensure they show up high in search results and get clicks from travel planners. Free traffic is “shrinking all the time”, Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom explained to analysts.   WiFi 6 5G may be getting all the buzz, but for property owners, WiFi 6 is much more relevant. WiFi 6 is the term used to describe the next iteration of Wifi, a faster, more efficient connection enabled through new technologies. WiFi 6 is about 30% faster than our current WiFi. This might not sound that impressive at first glance, but considering how many devices we’re adding to our WiFi networks, the increase in speed is dramatic. Like 5G, WiFi 6 will have obvious implications for guests who use their smartphones to book and manage their stay. But beyond the guest experience, hotels can take advantage of faster WiFi to power all those streaming, tablet, and voice-activated devices. With WiFi 6, your property can leverage in-room technology to provide better service, driving positive guest reviews and repeat business. Smart thermostats, smart speakers, and smart locks will all perform better with the adoption of WiFi 6 over the next five years.   Big Data Investors in Oaky already recognize this next insight: data has become the world’s most valuable resource. The sooner you start to mine guest data for better customer insights, the better positioned your property will be against your competition. Why is data so valuable? “Data are now part of every sector and function of the global economy and, like other essential factors of production such as hard assets and human capital, much of modern economic activity simply could not take place without them,” argues McKinsey. Data can fuel smarter marketing campaigns, inform your pricing, and help you capture a higher market share than your competitors by knowing your guests on a deeper level. Hoteliers are just starting to realize the potential of its guest data. Earlier this year, Revinate launched the hotel industry's first Guest Data Platform to aggregate, clean and deliver rich guest profiles for hotels and property groups of all sizes. The platform combines data from multiple sources to provide a complete picture of a hotel’s guests, delivering the information needed to increase guest satisfaction scores, direct bookings, and ultimately, profit. An acquisition by CoStar Group put a dollar figure on just how much hotel industry data is worth. The Group purchased STR for $450 million in cash in the fall of 2019. STR aggregates data from more than 65,000 properties worldwide, distributing more than 1 million reports each month. That amount of data synthesized into nice reports? Priceless.   Digital Hotel Companies All these trends – the flow of VC cash into hotel tech, the rise of consumer-convenience tech, the use of white-label software and APIs – means the landscape of the hotel industry is changing. New competitors are challenging old management companies that haven’t innovated enough.  These next-gen properties are sometimes called hometels (home+hotel), or more generally, alternative lodging.  Brands in the alternative lodging sector include Stay Alfred, Sonder, The Guild Hotels and to some extent groups such as Selina and OYO.  VCs seem to love these alternative lodging options. Sonder, for instance, hit $100M in revenue thanks to its venture capital-fueled growth; the brand raised a $225M Series D and projected $313M in forward 12-months revenue (2019/2020). The biggest distraction or barrier these next-gen hotels face is that they’re taking the wrong approach to tech. The companies that win will be the ones who stop acting like tech companies – using buzzwords like AI and virtual concierge – and focus on being more innovative and agile real estate businesses than traditional market players today. Those that succeed will be tech-enabled businesses; not tech businesses. They will be better at buying and using tech components via APIs and lean infrastructure, but be founded on sound business principles enabled by the industry’s best tech tools. 

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How to Start a Hotel Business (and Succeed) in the Age of Coronavirus

Jordan Hollander
3 weeks ago

If you’ve ever wondered how to start a hotel business, you’re in good company. Today, in a world where anyone can become a hotelier by uploading their property on Airbnb, the hotel dream is alive and thriving. It’s never been simpler to turn that dream of starting a new hotel business into a reality! But living the dream is easier said than done. The growth of Airbnb has made for a hyper-competitive environment that requires a thoughtful, thorough approach. There’s a lot more that you need to do if you want to build a business and not just a hobby. It takes a ton of time to build up enough cash to scale your business when you’re going property by property, unit by unit. To grow wealth faster as a hotel entrepreneur, you’ll need to take more risks and make bigger bets. Every month thousands of independent and hotel brand owners leverage Hotel Tech Report to find the latest technologies to help run their properties.  We reached out to more than 50 hotel owners to ask them about their journeys, struggles and lessons learned along the way. As you plan to open a successful new hotel business, the insights from these entrepreneurs will help shape your journey.  You’ll need to take concrete steps to plan the best approach to starting your hotel business. The path starts here. We’ve put together a high-level guide to getting started with a hotel business. Step by step, we’ll show you how to mitigate the risks of starting a new hotel business in today's hyper-competitive market. By planning carefully, being strategic and empowering your operation with the right technology, you can turn your hotel business idea from dream to reality! What's in this guide? 1. Hotel owner survey 2. Hotel startup costs 3. Benefits of owning a hotel 4. Lessons from succesful hotel owners 5. 6 steps to hotel ownership 6. In-depth hotel owner interview 7. Running a hotel in the age of Covid   Hotel Owner Survey Results If it’s your dream to open a hotel one day this article is for you.  When most people think about hotel owners they think about billionaire magnates like Conrad Hilton or Bill Marriott but in reality owning a hotel is actually not so different from opening a retail shop or convenience store.  Hotels do require a bit more capital but they are much more profitable and sale-able than other small businesses.  Here’s a bit about the hoteliers we interviewed for this article: 90% of respondents own a single hotel like a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast 70% of respondents own a hotel between 11-50 rooms Top 3 funding sources: bank loan, savings and friends/family investment Average time owning a hotel is 6.4 years so they have significant experience to share but generally aren’t lifelong hotel owners   How Much Does it Cost to Start a Hotel? The cost to start a hotel business obviously varies based on tons of variables such as: Location: places like New York City are much more expensive than somewhere like New Delhi, for example Quality: obviously a five star resort is much more expensive than a roadside motel Size: the number of rooms, restaurants, meeting spaces, etc. all have massive impacts on cost Despite the hotel startup costs varying dramatically, there are some data points that we can take into consideration when factoring for a "typical" hotel.  Data from HVS Consulting shows that ground up construction of a full-service hotel typically costs $323,500 "per key" (or per room).  Again, this is for a lifestyle full-service hotel so it's not the cost of a 10 room bed and breakfast, for example.  That figure breaks out into 5 buckets: Land: $33,900 (10%); this includes real estate cost Building/Construction:  $221,500 (66%); naturally building and construction is the largest budget item.  Owners typically secure construction loans in order to fund the project before the cash flow comes in. Soft Costs: $41,800 (12%); these include everything non-construction related like designers, architects, lawyers, insurance, permits and taxes. FF&E: $29,100 (9%); FF&E stands for "Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment" and includes anything that's movable in the building desks, computers, electronic equipment tables...well you get the idea.  FF&E is also sometimes referred to as "hard costs" Pre-Opening & Working Capital: $10,700 (3%); you'll need to hire staff ahead of opening so pre-opening expenses fund salaries before the operation goes live and revenue starts flowing in to fund the day-to-day.   Benefits of Starting a Hotel (According to Real Owners) Rather than list out the benefits of starting a hotel business, we wanted to share some of the responses we got from hotel owners around the world who helped us with this article.  Generally, hotel owners love to meet new people who travel to their properties and thrive on positive feedback about the experience that they deliver to guests.  They also tend to enjoy a more flexible lifestyle that doesn’t involve 9-5 desk work.  Here’s what they had to say: “I would say the two things I love most about owning a hotel are: the freedom of lifestyle it affords me and meeting interesting people/guests who I would have never ordinarily met” ~David Duron, Owner at Lemon Beach Resort in Ghana “The first aspect is being self-employed and meeting positive people every day. We love people and enjoy being around them. The second aspect is the possibility to try different strategies and new technologies to achieve success. The most fun is to discover the place again and again where your guests have never been.” ~Janis Stepins, Owner at Karlamuiza in Latvia “It’s literally a dream come true when you see your own design being built and executed exactly in the way you have envisioned it. In my case, coming from a background in technology startups, my philosophy still is to move fast and frugal. So when you own a hotel, you have full control to run it very agile and effectively see how your decision and execution affect the performance. But in the end it’s most rewarding to seeing guests enjoy their stay, especially as we put a lot of our own personality into our places. What’s also really special, is to see the team feeling proud to be involved in the business and truly care about it as if it’s their own house.” ~Fay Li, Owner at Beyond Boutique Villas in Bali   Beyond Boutique Villas in Bali, Indonesia   Lessons from Successful Hotel Owners Akino West,  Copper Door Bed & Breakfast: “Really focus on developing a great marketing plan and revenue management strategy so that you can continue growing the business and refining over time.  Hotel marketing often gets overlooked but it's what differentiates you from the competition.  Have a well thought out business plan, connect with other hotel owners and learn from your mistakes." David Duron, Lemon Beach Resort: “I wish I spent much more time selecting the right property and restaurant management systems.  Those are at the core of everything we do and it’s a huge decision that we didn’t take seriously enough when we first started.  Buffer your market research.  Whatever business plan you have, always add 30% of extra costs and 30% of extra time for building it. Then you will not be surprised" Leonard Pinger, Pinger Hotels: “Get versed in revenue management and dynamic pricing systems.  If you start a hotel with flat or seasonal pricing in this day and age you are almost surely destined to fail.  Many owners choose location based on passion (places they love) or opportunity (wherever they can buy).  Before you start your search, do a comprehensive analysis of the location and local real estate market.  If there is too much supply or too little demand, it’s going to be a very difficult road no matter how good your product is" Fay Li, Beyond Suites: “Build from scratch. For our first hotel, we chose to innovate and upgrade and existing property. And even though it performs very successfully from the very start up until today, we did learn a lot about how some people take shortcuts in quality during development. Luckily we had calculated that anything potentially could need to be replaced and we used almost all that budget. That’s where we learned that design and quality are most important. Also finding the perfect person who has a local operations background is worth the time, effort and salary. As they say, the first solid blow is half the battle.  Things like management styles and operational efficiency can be learnt and improved over time. So that’s something you can adjust or even reinvent at any time necessary. Even your interior design, decoration style and what’s on the menu can be updated or upgrade whenever needed. But that can’t be said for the design of your place and the location. These are things to focus on hardest as there's no way back. And even then, some of the best looking places in the wrong spot fail. So it sounds like a cliché, but it truly is: location, location, location. Besides that, use as much local expertise as you can as it will make operation much easier and it’s important to respect the community"   STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE Step 1: Do You Want to Build or Buy? Your first decision is whether to find a hotel for sale or to develop one from scratch. When we asked our hotel owners whether they would prefer to build a new hotel or buy an existing one for their next property 72% told us that they’d prefer to build a new one.  This was surprising to us because building is always riskier and more capital intensive. Hotel acquisitions are lower risk because there’s a past performance history and you know what you’re getting: a turnkey hotel business that’s already generating cash. You also avoid the time-intensive logistics of getting permits, designing the space, and building out the property. Not to mention a valuable database of past guests and a staff that’s already trained and familiar with the property. On the flipside, developing your own property gives you more control over building the experience from the ground up. New hotel developments can also produce more profit  long-term than buying an existing hotel. Generally speaking, once completed you’ll have an opportunity to make more money because you took on more risk -- including the potential for a future windfall if you ever sell. But it’s also much riskier because your cash will be tied up for an extended period of time with no income. When deciding whether to build or buy a hotel for sale, you’ll need a strong market analysis to verify the positive market trends supporting new hotel developments. You’ll also want to evaluate any existing properties for potential efficiencies, such as adding new technology to streamline operations and improve bottom-line profitability. These efficiencies allow you to capture more profit from that existing hotel, making it a much better investment than it would be otherwise.   The Gaige House + Ryoken in Sonoma County, California features 29 rooms in a tranquil setting   Step 2: Analyze The Data And Determine Feasibility Once you’ve chosen to buy or build, the next step is to make sure that the numbers work. The numbers will tell you how much capital you'll need, how much that capital will cost, how long it will take to turn a profit, and what the potential upside is to you, as the operator/owner/investor. A feasibility analysis includes: A financial model. Model the financial inputs and determine how much capital you need. How much will the build out cost (or the purchase of a hotel for sale)? What rates can you realistically expect to get, and at what average occupancy rate? Will you be able to increase your rate over time, once your hotel has been established? This is where you call out the assumptions that underpin the rest of your feasibility analysis. A pro forma. The pro forma includes your balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement to show how You foresee the investment for farming. This includes your forecasted income and expenses over time so you can project cash flow and see how long it will take to turn a profit. The pro forma accounts for your front-loaded expenses within the context of a longer term forecast so investors can see the business’ potential.  Capital sources. Of course, you’ll also need to figure out where you’ll get your capital. Will you get investors like friends and family, go to a bank or pull from your own savings? Or maybe it’s a mix of all three.  you need to lay this out clearly to be sure that you have access to enough capital to cover the costs of your financial model. The final piece is to carefully consider your profitability projections, especially as they relate to the cost of capital. Calculate how much your capital costs and then be sure that your pro forma shows that you’ll make enough profit to compensate for the risk.   Step 3: Create A Hotel Business Plan Now that you have a handle on your financial projections, now it's time to make a hotel business plan. This is the plan for how you’ll launch, promote and operate your new business. Without a persuasive plan, it's going to be nearly impossible to secure investment -- especially if you're going through traditional institutions such as banks, which have more stringent requirements. So what should you include in your hotel business plan? In general, an effective business plan evaluates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (also known as a SWOT analysis) for different areas of your business. It also makes the case as to how your hotel business fits into the local market and broader industry trends. Ultimately, it’s a storytelling document so try to avoid the trap of overly formalizing everything. The temptation to “business speak” is real! Specifically, the plan should include: Executive summary. This is the high-level overview of your hotel business plan. It should be a quick and concise view into the most important elements. Brand positioning. Tell the story of your brand. What is your concept? What does it stand for? Who is it targeted to? How does it fill a gap in the local market? Also work including is a bit about your objectives -- revenue targets, occupancy rate profitability date, etc.  Market analysis. This analysis should be done at two levels: your local market and the broader industry. Show the local market travel patterns and put broader industry trends into context so potential investors understand the market sizing and potential for future growth. Competitor analysis. Clearly outline your competitors. Be honest and don’t hold back. Investors will cop to any glaring omissions. Highlight your understanding of who your hotel competes directly with to highlight your savvy to potential investors. Guest segmentation. Expand upon the demographic targets from the brand positioning section. Who is the hotel for? Be as specific and detailed as possible here, including any personas and the addressable market of your target market. For example, if your boutique business hotel will target Millennial travelers, show how large this segment is.  Understanding guest personas is absolutely key to creating a successful hotel and is often under-appreciated. Strategic plan. Explain your strategies around marketing, distribution and revenue management. This is where you'll convince investors that you have a sound plan to connect with customers, manage your inventory, and maximize your revenue. Operations plan. Provide a detailed look at how you operate the hotel, including the types of technology that she'll use, how you will hire, what roles you will need to fill,  your service standards, and any other relevant operations info. Financial plan. Include your pro forma to outline forecasts and profit potential. The team. Sell your management team! Investors are looking at the management team’s ability to execute the vision laid out in the plan. Milestones. A timeline of relevant milestones, from initial permitting to build out to staffing, grand opening, and eventual profitability. Appendix. The end of the plan is where you'll put any additional information or supporting documentation. Push anything that’s too complex here so that you can focus on the most important strategic highlights elsewhere. Remember that the objective is to secure investment so the plan should be edited accordingly.   Step 4: Create Your Digital Presence and Distribution Strategy Once you get to this stage, it means that you've secured financing and you're moving towards building your own line strategies for building your business. Exciting but also scary. To start, you'll need to create your hotel website. This is your calling card to the world! It should be a modern website, designed and optimized for eCommerce, with its own booking engine that works across all devices. As the center of your direct booking strategy, you want your website to work well and help you capture as many commission-free bookings as you can! You’ll also need to get listed on third-party sites, like Booking.com, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and others. You’ll need to craft an engaging profile with on-brand descriptions and captivating imagery. Great profiles are proven to bring more bookings, so invest the time and don’t rush through it! Be sure to also claim your social media handles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Even if you don't plan to use all those platforms, be sure to secure as many handles as you can to prevent squatters! Finally, you want to interview different PR agencies to promote your property. Early on, you’ll want to raise awareness about your upcoming opening with relevant travel agents and news media. This is the kind of early digital buzz that can lead to a successful opening. Once you have your website up, and your social media handles locked in, put your PR agency to work.   Step 5: Pre-Opening Strategies As more properties and brands enter an already-crowded market, differentiating on experience takes center stage. You absolutely *must* deliver an exceptional guest experience that earns great reviews and helps your new property stand out in a crowded field. Use the time during construction wisely to set your hotel's operations up the right way from the get go. Three key pre-opening strategies are your staffing, operations and technology plans. First is your hiring plan: which roles are hiring for, how you will fill those roles, what’s the timeline for staffing up and how will you train them prior to opening. Given the inherent unpredictability of the build-out phase, it’s never easy to know when to hire key roles, such as the GM and the director of sales and marketing. GM: around 12 months before opening to start planning the operational framework for the hotel, select other key hires, build a training program, and craft a launch plan.  Directors of Sales/Marketing and Finance: around 8 months before opening to begin plotting the path to profitability. Director of Engineering/Facilities: around 10 months before opening so there's enough time to become familiar with the building and its equipment. Second, you must create the operations blueprint for the hotel. This is where you plan out how each element works together, including the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that structure the hotel for consistency and predictability. At this phase, you’ll want to work on things like: Brand standards. Set the standards for how your brand is represented to the public, including room cleanliness, staff/guest interactions, service recovery and communications guidelines, among others.  Checklists. Operationalize each process into a corresponding checklist. This makes for stronger consistency, easier training and will also be handy inputs for your software tools.  Legal. Are you protecting your investment with the right legal documentation? Do you have the right employment contracts in place? What about contracts for buyouts, maintenance, or other commercial relationships?  HR policy. How you hire, fire, and retain employees says a lot about your business. You'll also need job descriptions, a standardized interview process, and a plan to manage the inevitable interpersonal conflicts. Third, you must set up your property with hotel software that enables smarter, leaner operations. In partnership with your key hires, evaluate software according to form (is it easy to use?), function (does it do what we need it to do?), and budget (can we afford it?).  36.4% of the hotel owners that we interviewed for this article said that setting up the right IT and technology systems was the most difficult part about opening their hotel. Here’s the basic tech stack that every hotel absolutely needs to run a profitable business no matter the number of rooms: Property Management System: this is the core operating system of your hotel.  It’s the place that manages live inventory and powers all of the other systems you use.  The PMS is what your front desk agents use every day to check guests in.  Hotel Website: Many small hotels still choose to rely solely on OTAs and travel agent partners for bookings.  This is a huge and costly mistake.  Your direct channel is most profitable and hotels without a dedicated website lose trust in the eyes of guests.  At minimum, create a website that acts as your hotel’s digital brochure for prospects to learn about the property.  If you really want to win in direct you’ll need an agency partner. Booking Engine: This is the equivalent of the hotel industry’s “shopping cart”.  Shockingly, many smaller hotel websites even today require guests to inquire for bookings.  These hotels are missing massive opportunities and rarely succeed.  A booking engine makes live inventory from your Property Management System (PMS) available to book from your website. Reputation Management Software: Reputation is everything in today’s world.  50 years ago travelers only relied on travel agents and brands to select hotels.  Today, guests look to places like TripAdvisor, Google and OTAs to see what guests like them are saying.  Online reputation software enables you to establish and maintain a presence on these third parties to make sure your hotel is getting found. Channel Manager: You want to list inventory on as many relevant channels as possible but don’t want to spend all day changing rates and managing availability.  Channel managers allow you to automate these connections and ensure that once you’re found on third parties, that your property is bookable. Commercial Wi-Fi: Unless your property is positioned as an “off the grid” type of experience, good luck getting guests to come back without WiFi. Rate Shopping Tool: How you price your hotel should change as market conditions evolve.  Getting signals from the local competition can help inform your strategy.  A rate shop tool will scrape third party websites and give you pricing intelligence in real time that you can act on to win more guests. Revenue Management Software: Gone are the days of seasonal flat pricing.  Well, at least the hotels who still price like this will soon be gone.  Price too high and your guests book with the competition, price too low and you’re losing revenue.  RMS tools use machine learning to help you price rooms without the guesswork. Staff Collaboration Software: For the smallest properties (5 rooms and under) a simple Slack channel or Trello board might do.  But even small properties can have complex operations when it comes to servicing guest requests, maintaining a property and managing workflows between shifts.  Specialized hotel operations software is highly recommended for almost any hotel size.   Step 6: Throw A Killer Opening Party At long last, it's time to revel in the fruits of your labor: an opening party! This is certainly a moment worth celebrating alongside friends, family, colleagues and investors -- and also with influencers that can amplify your hotel launch. One approach to launch is to have a private “soft opening” party for a limited group of friends and family. This allows you to test out the space and get a feel for hosting events there. Then, once you work out the kinks, you open up the doors to an “official” launch party that includes influencers, VIPs and other locals. As you plan the big night, give your party a theme and dream up some Instagram-worthy backdrops. Some other elements of a killer opening party: Press. Work with your PR  agency to ensure that you have all relevant local press in attendance, as well as any other outlets that may be interested Influencers. In addition to journalists, collaborate with your PR agency to identify some local influencers to invite. Nearly every city has lifestyle, food, and travel influencers that can put your hotel in front of a broad audience for a minimal investment. Event planners. Your sales and marketing team should also take advantage of the launch to invite event planners to come experience the space in person.  This is a great way to jumpstart the relationship with potential prospects! Entertainment. Book some live entertainment that brings your space to life and aligns with your brand promise. Live music or other entertainment  is also a nice enticement for people to post to social media during the party. Food and drink. Of course, it's not a party without delicious food and drink! If your property has its own F&B, the opening party is also a great way to introduce the new offering to the community. Giveaways. Mark the occasion by giving away a few stays and some swag. These are small moves that add up to big impressions for a new hotel.  Photographer. It's a worthwhile investment to mark the occasion with a professional photographer. You can use these photos on your social media accounts and to share with event goers. Photo booth. You might also want to have a photobooth that's connected to social media so that you can encourage attendees to take funny photos and share them online, creating a direct line to some complimentary advertising. To amplify your opening, consider adding a paid advertising campaign and some exclusive, limited-time only promotions to celebrate the launch. These are great ways to get people through the door to experience the hotel and start building word-of-mouth.   Hotel Owner Interview Spotlight with Marius Donhauser Marius Donhauser comes from a family of hoteliers and is the owner of Der Salzburger Hof hotel.  While running his hotel, Marius noticed dozens of opportunities for growing efficiency and delivering a better guest experience that were slipping through his fingers without the right hotel operations software in place and decided to create hotelkit.  Marius has come a long way since first piloting hotelkit at his property and has works with more than 1,000 properties globally.  As a hotel owner who also helps thousands of other hotel owners, Marius is a wealth of knowledge for anybody looking to start a hotel business.   What’s one thing that you know now but you wish you knew before running your own hotel? I come from a family of hoteliers. We have been working in the hospitality industry for generations. So, I like to think I knew quite well what I was “signing up for”. I certainly didn’t blindly throw myself into this business. I was prepared to be open-minded. After all, hospitality is one of the most fluid and rapidly changing industries. What I did not anticipate was that most hotels were still stuck in the paper and post-it era when it came to managing daily tasks. With digital solutions taking hold nearly everywhere else, so many opportunities to simplify operations were not taken into consideration at all by the hotel industry. How could it be that, in 2012, we had successfully landed another Mars Rover, but major hotels were still writing handovers and to-do lists on paper? In summary, I really underestimated the lack of innovation in internal processes at the industry’s core. Hotel owners themselves have to drive change in their organization and get everyone on board. Basically, I wish I’d had a software like hotelkit from day one. What is the most important skill that a hotel owner must have? You’ve got to have the common touch to succeed at managing diverse hotel staff. As a hotel owner, you need to be able to work well with people from all walks of life. Your teams will not be made up of only people who are just like you. Or even of people who are sort of on your wavelength. In fact, having uniform teams would be counterproductive! Therefore, the most important skill a hotel owner must have is to understand how to be the linking part between different groups and people, to understand their needs and be open-minded. In the end, diverse teams make for the best results! What personality traits differentiate average hotel owners from great hotel owners? It’s nice to be nice, but just being a pleasant host is not nearly enough. A great hotel owner is an allrounder with a good grasp of many concepts, including marketing, sales, revenue management, design or innovation management and being tech savvy is not a disadvantage. Moreover, great hotel owners are not afraid to work with people who are better skilled than themselves or with people who are true unconventional thinkers. Great hotel owners know how to deal with constructive criticism. After all, innovation and revolutionary developments are never spearheaded by conformists and yea-sayers.   Running a Hotel During Covid with Jens Peter Tang Dalsgaard Our small beach-side resort on Siquijor Island in the central Philippines got hit like everyone else by covid-19. All of a sudden no or only few guests, little or no income. How to handle our largest setback since opening in 2012 in a good way? This is after all our livelihood. Our strategy has from day 1 been one of no staff layoffs, staying open, doing renovations and upgrading facilities, going greener and eco-friendlier, while riding it out and anticipating recovery. Our staff have no job alternatives and there is no government support for them or us. They stood by us in good times and we stand by them in bad times, using the last couple of years’ good earnings and savings to support all. We are lucky to have built a solid buffer to withstand a crisis and that, with hindsight, is a major lesson: keep a very healthy cash-flow balance and probably more cash in the bank than most bankers or financiers would normally advise. Don’t get ahead of yourself in terms of growth and expansion. There are fat years and lean years. Beach at White Villas Resort in the Philipines   We focus on the 4th bottom line – purpose – apart from the usual triple bottom line of social, environmental and financial concerns. The 4th bottom line is about the more human and existential aspects of business: the purpose of one's work and what one seeks to accomplish. What motivates and gives deeper meaning and joy beyond the immediate, short-term gratification and fulfilment from creating and running a business? It is about integrity and doing the right thing. It is about care, compassion and humanity. Not least in a covid-era. Some context: The Island was until covid-19 one of the faster growing international tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, with visitor arrivals increasing almost eightfold from around 112,000 in 2010 to 860,000 in 2018 and 49% year-on-year growth in 2018[1]. Big changes for an island of around 100,000 inhabitants known for its relatively unspoiled environment, charm and mysticism, and for its friendly and hospitable people the Siquijodnons. Many Siquijodnons have moved from artisanal fishing and farming into the tourism sector and sub-sectors on an island that in the past offered little alternative livelihood options and saw high unemployment rates. Covid-19 will trigger a return to some of this. We have 25 local staff, mostly women. Mostly uneducated from simple and poor fisherfolk backgrounds. Many are single mothers and responsible for feeding children and family. They are more than just staff. They are part and parcel of our family-business. There are still no reported covid-19 cases on Siquijor Island. Once travel gradually resumes, probably with local and national tourism first, we will use social media to advertise. The Philippines is huge on Facebook and Instagram. We will have basic health measures in place including thermometer guns, masks and hand sanitizers, and will reinforce social distancing rules etc. We are keeping our website fresh with frequent updates on the evolving covid-19 situation. And we now more than ever emphasize “travel with compassion and care” and giving something back to the community.   *** With these insights, you're well on your way to knowing how to start a hotel business.  It’s most definitely an involved process that’s not for the faint of heart. If you’ve got that itch for hospitality, sometimes you just have to scratch it!

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Operations Category Press Releases

HelloShift Achieves Level III Global Support Certification

By Hotel Tech Report
2 days ago

This week, HelloShift earned Hotel Tech Report’s level III Global Customer Support Certification (GCSC) for its investments into tools, processes and strategies to ensure the ongoing success of its customers across the four of the key pillars of the GCSC Rubric including: pre-emptive support, reactive support, coaching and customer validation. The Hotel Tech Report GCSC certification program analyzes software vendors along critical dimensions of customer support infrastructure in order to help hoteliers minimize risk and maximize positive outcomes when selecting technology partners.  In order to become certified, companies must open their internal systems to Hotel Tech Report for assessment along HTR’s rigorous 34-point GCSC Rubric. “Typically when a company has a high employee-to-user ratio it means a more hands off service and required a more automated approach but in HelloShift's case it's quite the opposite.   The HelloShift team has really focused their support efforts towards white glove service where users have clear and open lines of communication at all times so not only can you get help on-demand, but clients often get responses from the founders which builds unique personal relationships with customers” Hotel Tech Report co-founder Adam Hollander. "As a SAAS (Software As A Service) company, we're in the service business. If our customers aren’t successful with our software, we have failed. We think of our support team as our “success team” --we are only successful when our customers are successful." Sudheer Thakur, Co-Founder @ HelloShift The below GCSC assessment outlines the verified systems and processes that HelloShift has in place to educate, train, retain and support customers.   HelloShift's GCSC Assessment Summary  Rubric Score: 31/34 Certification Level: III Customer Orientation: Customer Focused Recommendation: Highly recommended Support Team Size: 3 Support Team Leaders: Bobbie Devereux, Customer Success Manager Certification Period: February 20, 2020-February 20, 2021 Support Stack: re:Amaze, Close.io, Google Forms, AWS, Sentry, Tutor LMS, HelloShift   GCSC Support Rubric Section I: Pre-Emptive Support  The Pre-Emptive support pillar of the GSCG Scoring Rubric audits the tools and processes the vendor has in place to provide customers with easy access to self-help resources.  These self-help resources serve as a basis to offer easy troubleshooting as well as to preempt answers to product related questions before they arise providing a more intuitive and seamless experience for clients.  The following are the rubric items that Hotel Tech Report has verified that HelloShift has in place for clients: 1.1 Online knowledge base/help center: Vendor offers a searchable help center for customers to easily find answers to common customer questions. 2.1 Online training videos: Vendor offers pre-recorded videos that clients can access 24/7 for self-teaching and deeper product knowledge. 3.1 In-app guided tours: Vendor offers in-app guided tours that are embedded within their interface to provide coaching and education for users to organically discover and easily access while using the product. 3.2 Tooltips: Vendor offers helpful tips and hints presented when users hover over buttons and UI elements in the interface. (min of 10 in-app tooltips) 4.1 Implementation documentation/roadmap: Vendor offers clients a visual map of the steps, processes and stakeholders upon onboarding to ensure that all stakeholders are aligned to make the implementation process more seamless. 4.2 Proprietary data recommendations: Vendor aggregates product usage data across clients to benchmark performance and provide recommendations to their users to help them learn about best practices, make better decisions and maximize product utilization. GCSC Support Rubric Section II: Reactive Support  The Reactive Support Pillar assesses the company's responsiveness to clients and their ability to resolve issues quickly when they arise ensuring prompt response and service to clients.  The following are the rubric items that Hotel Tech Report has verified that HelloShift has in place for clients: 1.2 Transparent process: Vendor has opened up their systems to Hotel Tech Report via screen share to verify their tools and processes in place to deliver customer support. 1.3 Email support or phone support: Vendor at least one of the traditional methods of customer support channels, email or phone support (additional channels: phone, chat, email) 1.4 Multi-lingual support: Vendor offers support in the languages where they have active clients 1.5 Purpose built support and ticket management tool: Vendor utilizes professional customer support software that has functionality to effectively manage support tickets, followup, escalations and analytics. 2.2 Live Chat support: Vendor offers website or in-app live chat as an alternative customer support channel. 3.3 Contract SLAs: Vendor has service level agreement (SLA) terms in place in client contracts to guarantee that service levels are upheld. 3.5 Feature request tracking: Vendor offers the ability for clients to easily submit feature requests and has a methodology in place for escalating high priority features. 4.4 24/7 support availability: Vendor offers 24/7 support to clients for around the clock assistance. 4.5 Verified Contract SLA monitoring: Vendor has SLA terms fully integrated into their customer support software that has automatic notifications ensuring that SLA's are monitored and upheld.   GCSC Support Rubric Section III: Customer Success & Coaching While keeping customers happy is commonly thought of by software companies as the top priority, keeping them well informed is of equal importance. The third pillar of the GCSC Rubric identifies the key ways that vendors inform, educate and train their customers to realize successful outcomes with their products.  The following are the rubric items that Hotel Tech Report has verified that HelloShift has in place for clients: 1.7 Customer satisfaction monitoring (ex. NPS surveys, CSAT): Vendor has processes in place to regularly monitor customer satisfaction. 2.3 Product updates/changes (release notes/changelog): Vendor offers easily accessible robust documentation of feature updates and product improvements to educate clients on new ways to maximize usage of the product. 2.4 Quarterly success check ins: Vendor offers [at least] quarterly customer success check ins to review progress, share best practices and ensure that clients are successful and happy with the product or service. 3.6 Performance reporting: Vendor offers reporting and analytics to show clients the value of the product or service. 3.4 Managed Services: Vendor offers additional consulting and managed services to help clients maximize their usage of the product. 4.6 Learning Management System (LMS): Vendo has a Learning Management System in place that offers videos, guided trainings and assessments for customers to be able to expand product knowledge in a structured way over time. 4.9 Dedicated customer success monitoring software: Vendor utilizes dedicated customer success software to monitor product usage and coach users to succeed with the product.   GCSC Support Rubric Section IV: Customer Validation The GCSC’s 34-point rubric and Hotel Tech Report’s verification of internal tools and processes validate the vendor's systems in place; however, the validation of the success of these tools and processes can most significantly be validated by the unbiased perspectives of real hotelier customers.  This pillar looks at unbiased verified client reviews and satisfaction scores to validate that the processes in place are working in the eyes of customers based on their satisfaction ratings. The following are the rubric items that Hotel Tech Report has verified that HelloShift has in place for clients: 4.11 Public Feedback Validation: Vendor shows exemplary client relationships and is a top performer on Hotel Tech Report with more than 100+ verified client reviews. 4.12 4.5-star avg. customer support rating: Vendor has outstanding customer support ratings averaging more than 4.5/5 across all client reviews.   About the Hotel Tech Report Global Customer Support Certification (GCSC) Support is one of the most critical aspects of the vendor selection process and yet historically there has never been a way to know the quality of a company’s support, until now. Using Hotel Tech Report’s proprietary framework, companies are assessed along four key dimensions: pre-emptive support, reactive support, coaching/success and client validation to provide hoteliers unprecedented levels of transparency to more easily identify top technology partners. For more information please visit: https://partners.hoteltechreport.com/global-support-certification/

15 Tech Companies Partner to Solve the Hotel Industry’s Billion Dollar Problem

By Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

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 GCSC Global Customer 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 GCSC Customer 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 GCSC Global Customer 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

By Hotel Tech Report
1 year ago

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

ALICE Named Top Rated Concierge Software in the 2018 HotelTechAwards

By ALICE Hotel App
11 months ago

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

Top Hotel Tech Providers Revealed in the 2018 HotelTechAwards

By Hotel Tech Report
6 months ago

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

As any hotelier can attest, a modern hotel operation is a tangle of systems and technologies. Navigating the options can be overwhelming and frustrating, mainly because it's impossible to know how reliable the technology is -- or how responsive customer service will be during the inevitable outage. With such high-stakes, it's easy to get caught up in the details or to delay making a final decision. 

“For an industry that’s fundamentally about human interaction, it’s ironic that technology has come to be such a big deal. But in today’s and tomorrow’s world, being strategic about how you allocate your tech investment resources is critical to the hospitality mission.” -Mark Van Amerongen, COO, Prism Hotels & Resorts

 To get to the nirvana of seamless hotel operations, it takes the best technology, customized according to each property’s needs. Irrespective of how long it takes to identify these solutions, the result should be a technology suite that works well together and is adaptable to ever-evolving guest expectations. Security and data protection should also be a priority as a hotel builds out its modern hotel operations tech stack. While your hotel may not need technology from all of these categories, each category has its own merits to carefully consider. Ask tough questions, request introductions to existing customers to prove further, and don’t rush into a decision on your hotel’s operating systems.

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).

Key Features:
  • 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.

Key Players:

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.

Key Features:
  • 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.

Key Players:

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.

The secret to housekeeping is that it is, at its core, the same in all hotels; full service or focused service, 3 star or 5 star, rooms are cleaned and maintained before, during and after a guests’ stay. Because of this, the best software will add value to the process, from the associates cleaning the rooms all the way up to the ownership group’s most senior executives.

Key Features:
  • 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.

Key Players:
Amadeus HotSOS

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.

Key Features
  • 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 “dont-reply@vendor.com” will miss a lot of important feedback and booking requests.

Key Players: