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

by
Jordan Hollander
1 month 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 hotel 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!   Statistics About the Hotel Owners We Interviewed to Research this Article 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   Key Lessons From Our Interviews With Experienced Hotel Owners What do you know now that you wish you knew before opening your hotel? “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” ~Akino West,  Owner at Copper Door Bed & Breakfast “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,” David Duron, Owner at Lemon Beach Resort “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,” Leonard Pinger, Owner at Pinger Hotels “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.” Fay Li, Owner at Beyond Suites What advice do you have for people looking to open their own hotel business in 2020? “Have a well thought out business plan, connect with other hotel owners and learn from your mistakes.” ~Akino West,  Owner at Copper Door Bed & Breakfast “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,” David Duron, Owner at Lemon Beach Resort “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,” Leonard Pinger, Owner at Pinger Hotels “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,” Fay Li, Owner at Beyond Suites   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.   *** 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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HelloShift Achieves Level III Global Support Certification

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month 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 (English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, German, Bulgarian, Russian, Czech, Belorusian, Xhosa, Swedish, Norwegian, Slovak, Portuguese, Chinese, Romanian, Taiwanese)  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/

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These Are the 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech (2020 Edition)

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

Each year Hotel Tech Report surveys thousands of industry insiders to find the best hospitality tech jobs and employers globally. We all want fulfilling careers with intellectual growth opportunities and earning potential to provide for our families. We want to work for companies whose cultures align with our values and to be surrounded by peers who celebrate our successes. But it’s hard to tell which companies are the real deal since most seem great during the interview and courtship process. Every year we do the hard work for you and survey thousands of professionals to find the best companies to work for in the hospitality industry. We ask respondents to rate their employers from 1-10 on these key variables:  Work-life balance Personal development opportunities Gender equality Confidence in company direction Values alignment Hotel Tech Report creates this list each year for two reasons: (1) to help industry professionals find the best hospitality jobs and (2) to help hotel tech buyers understand that it’s just as important to partner with great organizations as it is to find great software tools and products. Vendor culture is important to every aspect of a vendor relationship: Product: Great workplaces attract the best talent who make the best products Customer Support: Happy client reps give better service and stay around longer developing deeper relationships. Sales: When a sales team has high turnover, innovation gets strangled because there isn’t enough cash coming in the door to invest. Our 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech list features companies who foster wonderful work environments for employees.  In return, those employees deliver incredible products and service to clients. This year we identified 6 major trends that made these companies stand out from the pack in an extremely competitive race: Strong cross-departmental collaboration Fast paced: employees take pride because they see their work come to life Memorable team off-sites that build resilience through trust and friendship Heavy investments made into employee onboarding Visible and accessible executive teams who truly care Focus and clarity: teams that know what is expected of them are consistently able to achieve lofty goals Without further adieu here are 2020’s 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech...   #10 Bookboost The youngest startup to make the list is Bookboost, a rising star hailing from Sweden making big waves in the guest messaging space.  Given that it’s a small and growing team, Bookboost employees frequently cite feeling like one big happy family. One employee told Hotel Tech Report that the highlight of their year was when the Company’s CTO Willem suggested that everyone go for an impromptu team swim: “I remember a hot summer day when Willem, the CTO of Bookboost, proposed that we go swimming together since our office is located right next to the port. As I stood on the shore watching everyone in the water, the sun was shining and they were all laughing. I used to work for big companies and the government, so I had never experienced something like this before. I felt the energy, passion, and love of this company.” In 2019 Bookboost closed a fresh funding round and expanded into the German market so don’t expect them to stay small for long.     #9 Revinate Making the top 10 for it’s second year in a row, Revinate is the cure to corporate boredom without the risk of a true startup.  San Francisco based Revinate is one of the most mature companies on our list and recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. We’ve all seen the stats about startup failure rates - so how has Revinate been able to thrive for so long in rapidly changing markets? The short answer is that they’ve got a killer culture. “The culture at Revinate is the best I've been a part of in my 25 years of being a professional.” Revinate has a CEO that’s equally aggressive and empathetic.  The only things the CEO Marc Heyneker seems to love more than beating his competition are his team and his customers and his 98% approval rating on Glassdoor is just another data point to back it up.  This is a rare balance to find in a CEO and Revinate employees around the world have taken note. The company credo is as clear as Heyneker’s leadership: Customer Love. “We have worked super hard to make all customers happy. We have a company motto of customer love. As a product, design, and engineering org we spend time talking directly to our customers and collaborate with them as we build out our new features.” “As an SDR, I am an entry level sales person. I had some sales experience coming into this role, but this company has really shown me that they are willing to invest in their people, to grow them to their full potential. My most memorable event is my second week here and my CEO, Marc Heyneker, had a drink with me and spoke to me as a friend and colleague. He gave me words of advice, confidence, and shared lessons from his experience. I've never had a CEO that cared about all of his employees like this before. Even though I am entry level in sales, he expressed high hopes for my career and could see my eagerness to grow and achieve big things with Revinate. I will never forget this experience.” When you join the Revinate team you can expect to learn a lot about yourself through a personality test called “Insights Discovery” during onboarding.  This test will help you better understand your conscious and subconscious to better set yourself up for success at the Company and in your own career. Results of the test help your peers and manager guide you towards leadership - something mostly reserved for senior executives; however, a benefit that’s available to all Revinate employees.  Once on board, Revinate employees frequently cite speaking opportunities where they are able to build their personal brand and reputation while promoting Revinate around the world. This year team members enjoyed speaking opportunities at No Vacancy Australia, Direct Booking Summit in Miami, California Hotel & Lodging Association and much more.     #8 Asksuite Bust out the Caipirinhas because Asksuite is the first Brazillian company to ever make this list. In fact, Florianopolis based Asksuite is the first organization in all of Latin America to make the list. Developer talent has gotten increasingly expensive in Eastern Europe and timezone/language barriers have made lots of U.S. tech companies look south for development resources.  Despite tons of engineering talent, Latin American tech is still in its early days and companies like Asksuite are making waves by leveraging strong in house tech talent. This isn’t the Company’s first time winning a culture award as it was recently voted the 7th best place to work in Santa Catarina.  Asksuite recently pushed passed the 1,400 client mark (more than 2x growth) which is a huge step towards the Company making its name on the global stage. Employees at Asksuite are totally pumped on the Company’s growth in recent years and enjoy how the firm is constantly helping them grow on a personal level, too. “This company has a greatest culture, I am deepest in love with them just how they embrace ourselves as a human being not just numbers.” “Our first team building was really special because we gathered in a beautiful environment where we could connect to nature and to each other. Not only in a professional way, but also as human beings.” “When I entered Asksuite, I was hired as SDR (Sales). But that was not my field. And they knew that. I just wanted to be part of the company and I thought that I could help them since I am an ex-hotelier myself. However, Content Production was always my target and I was very open about it. They didn't have a position like that back then so we decided to give a shot in Sales.  Eight months later, a job position opened in Marketing and they moved me. I could not be happier!”     #7 Hotel Effectiveness Rounding out the top 10 for their second consecutive year, Hotel Effectiveness had an incredible year reaching over 4,000 hotels, launching a new mobile application and moving into a new office space.  Employees cite being constantly recognized for achieving milestones in and out of work which makes them feel valued. “I have been here less than 18 months and have witnessed our more than doubling in revenues and employees. The ongoing challenges to find workable solutions that allow for scaling are great opportunities. In my own area, I have more than doubled the size of my team, transitioned invoicing over to a new system, and continually work to meet new challenges as we continue to grow. The victories are satisfying as well as we have dramatically improved processes to provide for better forecasting and cash collection.” Hotel Effectiveness also values giving back to their community and recently attended a suicide prevention event to raise funds and awareness for a critical cause as a team.     #6 ALICE There’s nothing worse than feeling like your company is stagnant and that your work is being tossed in a drawer somewhere.  Ultimately, that’s why most ambitious young people are opting out of corporate life. At ALICE you certainly won’t feel like you’re stagnating and you’ll watch your work come to life extremely quickly.  ALICE has consistently reinvented itself over recent years through the acquisition (and integration) of GoConcierge and then through the launch of the housekeeping product its team build from scratch and has landed itself the highly coveted 3peat on the top 10 best places to work list. “Last year we developed a complete new product from scratch. I'm very proud of how much research we put into the design to create an amazing product and this effort was paid off when launching it with beta customers and seeing their satisfaction.” ~UX Designer “I created a performance / load testing tool using a more recent technology. Though it's still being discussed what would be our standard for that, at least I am able to introduce something more recent and what I think is something that can be potentially a good standard for us moving forward.” ~Engineering Integrating acquisitions and building new products is tough work but ALICE always finds time for balance.  This year’s team retreat consisted of corporate summer camp. “We had a CAMP! I personally had never been to a camp, with cabanas, lake, bonfires and stuff. We had one this past summer and it was fantastic! As we are from Customer Success most of us are either remote or always traveling, so there were people that I had never met, it was so great to have everyone together on such a beautiful place, we had very productive meetings in the morning and free time during the afternoons to go kayak at the lake, take walks, this definitely helped tremendously to bond more and more the team.” Employees at ALICE are encouraged to push themselves and learn new skills. “I was able to learn mySQL, which has opened new doors and I feel like I've found a new passion. ALICE was able to pay for my course and I am proud to contribute to the company with new skills that I did not have before joining.” ~Customer Success "When I was struggling and reached out to my manager, he was able to provide help and gave me advice on how to prioritize my projects. Also, he spent extra time coaching me through difficult situations." ~Engineering One of the hardest things is when you feel like you’re struggling at work or not loving what you do.  If either of these happen in a corporate environment you might find yourself canned or cast aside - but not at ALICE.   When employees are struggling or in a rut, ALICE team members are encouraged to have an open conversation and be completely transparent so that the Company can identify a better fit for them and figure out how to help them succeed: “Nearly 1.5 years ago, I found myself doing Product Management at ALICE. It was a career that I was unsure aligned with my strengths and passions. Since, ALICE gave me the opportunity to explore marketing at the company. I have been responsible for managing the day-to-day of the creative team, providing feedback to our designers, and contributing to the creation of core content. I feel much more impactful in this role and is aligned with my passions. In July, I was promoted to Marketing Manager. It has been a blast. I could have never made such a quick, smooth transition if it were not for ALICE's desires to care deeply about each employee and his/her growth.” “ALICE gave me a promotion, and helped me into a new career path - sales. I'm excited to be in the community talking about ALICE.” “Although I am still fairly new at the organization, I think the “All Hands” meetings every Tuesday are pretty incredible. I have worked at many hotels and none of them have taken time on a weekly basis to talk as a company going over updates, news in the industry, introducing new team members, etc. All of these meetings are recorded, so if you have a conflicting event you can still be kept in the loop. The team is so incredibly welcome and genuinely cares about creating a positive remote culture.”     #5 Cloudbeds This is Cloudbeds’ 3rd year in a row making our list and if you read CEO Adam Harris’ culture manifesto it’s easy to see why.  We should note that Cloudbeds is the highest ranked U.S. based company on our list. Cloudbeds has a corporate culture that features a lot of the strengths found amongst other companies on this list but two things really make Cloudbeds stand apart from the pack. Firstly, Cloudbeds is a mostly distributed and remote organization.  While it’s headquarters are in sunny San Diego, California - the Cloudbeds team is entirely global.  Cloudbeds employees consistently cite that Cloudbeds has the best travel benefits of any company they’ve ever worked for.  Harris and Co-Founder Richard Castle understand that in order for their team to understand hotel clients and guests they need to walk a mile in their shoes.  Several employees told Hotel Tech Report that they’re highlight of 2019 was meeting up in Bali for a team leader’s 40th birthday where they spent days coworking and getting to know each other on a personal level.  Other team members report team outings in Spain, Nashville and across the world. Cloudbeds even rents long term apartments in core cities so that team members can come and go as they please: “The company strongly supports our travels, we are travelling cloudies. The company rented apartments for us for a year in 2 biggest offices. Everyone who wanted could use it and visit our offices any time!” One concern that many employees have with a remote organization is that it’s difficult to build alliances and move up the ranks or switch into new roles but at Cloudbeds that isn’t an issue.  Don’t believe us? Check out what employees had to say:  “Being promoted 2 times within the year was a great accomplishment. I have been with the company for over 4 years and started as a customer support coach and also an implementation coach. Having the opportunity to use my talents in other areas of the company has been a great motivator and I continue to grow every day learning new things within our company.” ~Product Team “When I was promoted I got all the confidence of Cloudbeds management to assume my new role. It was significant for me to feel that my company cares about my success and that my achievements were aligned with company goals.” “I was promoted within 9 months of work from a low position to a department I wanted to work in.  Success is both noticed and rewarded at Cloudbeds”     #4 hotelkit Nestled in Salzburg on the German border, hotelkit is the only company on our list from Austria but they are a rising contingent of DACH based hotel tech startups (including SuitePad) that are rising to global domination.  Salzberg is where Mozart was born and hotelkit founder Marius Donhauser runs his team like a finely tuned symphony. Employees cite tons of team building events including Oktoberfest and a two day team trip to the mountains that included hiking, canyoning and even spending the night in a hut! “We went on a two day hiking tour as teamevent and i am astonished every time how well we all work together as a team and how we trust each other. We constantly support our hotelkit team members, help each other out and spend a lot of time together after work. My colleagues have basically become my family away from home.” Hotelkit employees have weekly catered lunch, yoga classes, healthy office snacks and more.  These are all nice amenities but what really matters is that hotelkit cares about its people.  With all of these activities and benefits you’re probably wondering when hotelkit has time to get things done.  We were wondering the same thing. While we can’t say exactly, hotelkit recently crossed its 1,000th hotel client and they are now one of the most popular companies on Hotel Tech Report after some huge victories in the HotelTechAwards this year. If you’re looking for a fast paced job in a beautiful location with a CEO who lives and breathes both his brand and his staff - look no further and go check out what openings they have available.  Oh and did we mention, hotelkit also won first place in four categories of this year’s HotelTechAwards...     #3 Mews Systems This ain’t Mews’ first rodeo and it definitely isn’t their first time making this list.  This is Mews’ second year in a row making the top 3 in our list. If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic case of corporate boredom, applying for a job at Mews Systems is definitely the cure. Mews has scaled from 100 team members to more than 400 in the last 12 months, which, needless to say, is an insane growth rate.  When companies scale this quickly they risk culture dilution but at Mews the opposite seems to be happening. The more Mews hires - the more fun they seem to have.  If you don’t believe us go and check out one of their award winning conference booths at events like WTM and ITB where you’ll find Mews team members rocking F1 racing suits, cheeky lab coats or even a hilarious take on miracle grow gardening. Mews makes it look easy but don’t be fooled - they are a work hard play hard company that is even more focused on driving results for clients.  According to one Mews Operations Associate, “Everybody is constantly on 120% level, which is great. Coming from the slow paced corporate world - the team here is giving me a lesson in productivity everyday.” So what’s the secret to the Mews success? They’re polarizing, mission driven and make everyone who joins feel like they’re part of a family.  Some tentpole culture initiatives include the annual company get together in February where the entire team heads to Prague for a week of team building and a company wide cross-functional Hackathon.  Mews likely has the most well oiled onboarding process of any company on this list. New hires attend a monthly onboarding week that includes meeting the CEO in a small breakout and the opportunity to host a company funded theme party for your new colleagues. Last but not least, Mews recently raised a monster $33M round led by Battery Ventures, won the top prize in the 2020 HotelTechAwards for the #1 PMS and made its official US debut this spring so it seems their miracle grow theme may have a few potential interpretations..     #2 Pace London based Pace is another newcomer to our list and the team achieved some huge milestones in 2019.  For starters they grew the Pace family by 100% from 15 to 30 employees. Pace team members frequently cite being  motivated by getting stuff done and even hit their 2019 annual goals by October with two months to spare. “In the past year the Pace team has grown by more than 100%. It was amazing to see the whole company (from recent joiners to old timers) rally around a few key product releases like a well oiled, high performance machine.” Pace team member In his former life, Pace CEO Jens Munch was a journalist and wartime photographer in Iraq which has helped him build a team that’s battle ready to take on the hyper competitive revenue management space.  Pace is a very product driven culture and was designed from the ground up to disrupt the status quo. Pace has developed a completely automated revenue management system and everyone at the firm is focused on helping clients (old and new) feel confident in its recommendations where revenue managers have historically been apprehensive to let machines take over. “The launch of automation at Pace was a great achievement by the whole team that was a true, cumulative effort of everyone working tirelessly in sync. The response from new and existing customers has been amazing, and seeing the product providing even better results instills me with even more confidence for Pace.” ~Pace team member     #1 SuitePad Last but not least, the 2020 Best Place to Work in Hotel Tech goes to…(drum roll please)...SuitePad! This is Berlin based SuitePad’s first year making the list (and their first HotelTechAwards winning #1 Guest Room Tablet provider) but we don’t suspect that it will be their last. SuitePad employees share a genuine passion for building strong lasting relationships both with their hotel clients and with each other. This people focused culture starts all the way at the top according to a SuitePad team member: “I had a personal problem that required hospitalisation, my CEO dropped everything he had for the day and personally took me to the hospital and was there at every step of the recovery.  This is the kind of thing that I have seen time and time again done for employees that have any kind of crisis going on in their personal lives.” Many SuitePad employees cite having never been at a company before where they’ve clicked with so many other team members on a personal and professional level. The co-founders at SuitePad deeply care about the team and who joins it. One employee puts it best, “Work is great here, because the people are great.” It’s not all kumbaya and hugs at SuitePad though, the team is fast paced and extremely results driven.  This year at SuitePad every team pushed their limits: sales and marketing aggressively launched new territories while product developed a new product from scratch on a completely new tech stack (SuiteTV box): “We have worked a lot on our internal processes and our team closed the two biggest deals in the history of the company in the last few months, which is not only great in terms of growth and sales goals, but also because it has shown that our efforts in improving the processes and aligning our strategy with sales and marketing has been successful.” ~Customer Success Employee -- It's 2020 and it's time for a new hospitality job.  Go head to these incredible employers and start dropping those resumes.  

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The Best Hotel Software of 2020 (Ranked by Data)

by
Jordan Hollander
3 weeks ago

Are you overwhelmed by all the new hotel software solutions coming into the market? You’re not alone. Perhaps you’re ready to find a new property management system and need trusted information about which vendors are potential fits based on integrations, feature functionality and unbiased client reviews or even a great all-in-one hotel managment software. Maybe you know that your hotel is missing opportunities but don’t even know which hotel software categories you’re missing in your stack let alone the best vendors that serve each of those categories. Each year Hotel Tech Report leverages our global community to answer these questions for hoteliers like you so that we can save you time and help you make better technology decisions.   This year the Hotel Tech Report community has spent 600+ hours reviewing the hotel software that they use on property to help you find the best solutions for your property. This list will save you time researching tech for your business and is 100% data driven.   What's inside this hotel software guide? 1. What are the different kinds of hotel software? 2. List of the best hotel software products (by category) 4. How does Hotel Tech Report determine the best hotel software? 5. Proprietary software ranking methodology   What Are the Most Popular Categories of Hotel Software? Many online lists online wrongfully group hotel software into a single category but the reality is that the hospitality industry has unique challenges that require multiple point solutions to tackle different problems.  Here at Hotel Tech Report we use 37 different software systems to run our business and the hotel industry is no different.  The typical hotel uses at least 10 different hospitality software systems to operate.  The good news is that today's SaaS model has enabled these solutions to be ultra affordable and developments in design have made them extremely user-friendly for front office staff and beyond. Property Management System: property management software is the core operating system of your hotel.  It’s the place that houses inventory management capabilities and powers all of the other systems you use.  The PMS is what your front desk agents use every day to streamline check-in.  Smaller properties sometimes opt for what is called a hotel management system or lightweight hotel PMS.  This is an all-in-one management solution with integrated hotel property management system, channel manager and booking engine capabilities. Hotel Website/Digital Marketing: 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 because each booking is commission-free 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 who can really drive direct bookings for your business. Booking Engine: An online booking engine 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 for online booking via your website via credit card (or other payment method) across all devices like smartphone, tablet and desktop. 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.  This software also help monitor guest satisfaction and improve operations. 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.  Automate these connections and ensure that once you’re found on third parties, that your property is bookable with effective channel management.  Channel managers also facilitate hotel reservations on third party channels in real time to prevent overbookings.  Whether you run a guest house, vacation rental or five star boutique resort, this functionality is absolutely critical for yoru business. Central Reservation System: The central reservation software is the connective layer between the PMS and all other distribution interfaces.  A CRS ultimately manages rates across channels like a channel manager, booking engine and GDS (global distribution systems). 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 management and intelligence 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 tiny properties 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. Point of Sale: Point of sale systems enable your hotel to capture revenue from on site outlets like restaurants, bars and spas. Hotel CRM: For hotel chains large enough for a dedicated loyalty program a CRM powers guest profiles and rewards.  Smaller groups and independent hotels who typically don't benefit from a dedicated loyalty program leverage rich guest profiles to run marketing automation and promotions.   The Best Hotel Software Products of 2020 (According to the Data)   Best Guest Experience Software Best Guest Room Tablets: SuitePad (2020 Winner), Crave (Finalist), Volo (Finalist) Best Guest Mobile App: ALICE  (2020 Winner), INTELITY (Finalist) Best Guest Messaging: Whistle (2020 Winner), Bookboost (Finalist, Best in Europe) Best Guest Room Entertainment Product: Monscierge Apple TV (2020 Winner) Best Voice Activated Tech Product: Volara (2020 Winner) Best Mobile Key & Keyless Entry Solution: ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions (2020 Winner) Best Hotel Operations Tech Best Property Management System: Mews Systems (2020 Winner), Clock (Finalist) Best Staff Collaboration Software: hotelkit (2020 Winner), ALICE (Finalist, Best in North America), HelloShift (Finalist) Best Labor Management Tool: Hotel Effectiveness (2020 Winner) Best Housekeeping Software: hotelkit (2020 Winner), ALICE (Finalist), Quore (Finalist) Best All-in-1 HMS: RoomRaccoon (2020 Winner), Cloudbeds (Finalist) Best Fraud Prevention Tool: Canary Technologies (2020 Winner) Best Facilities Management Software: hotelkit (2020 Winner), ALICE (Finalist), Quore (Finalist) Best Concierge Software: ALICE (2020 Winner) Best Accounting & Finance: MyDigitalOffice (2020 Winner), M3 (Finalist) Best Lobby Tech: Monscierge Connect Signage (2020 Winner) Best F&B Point-of-Sale Solution: ImpulsePoint by Impulsify (2020 Winner) Best Revenue Management Tech Best Revenue Management System: IDeaS  (2020 Winner), Atomize (Finalist) Best Central Reservations System: Pegasus (2020 Winner) Best Channel Manager: SiteMinder (2020 Winner), Cloudbeds (Finalist), D-EDGE (Finalist) Best Rate Shop & Market Intelligence: OTA Insight (2020 Winner)  Best Business Intelligence Tool: HotelIQ (2020 Winner), Duetto (Finalist) Best Meetings & Events Intelligence: Get Into More (2020 Winner), Duetto (Finalist), IDeaS (Finalist)  Best Hotel Marketing Software & Services Best Email Marketing & CRM Software: Revinate (2020 Winner), Experience Hotel (Finalist), ForSight CRM (Finalist) Best Upsell Software: Oaky (2020 Winner)  Best Booking Engine Bookassist (2020 Winner), Net Affinity (Finalist), Pegasus (Finalist) Best Digital Marketing Agency Bookassist (2020 Winner), Screen Pilot (Finalist), Net Affinity (Finalist) Best Metasearch Management Software: Bookassist (2020 Winner), Koddi (Finalist, Best in North America) Best Website Builder/CMS: Bookassist (2020 Winner) Best Direct Booking Tool: Triptease (2020 Winner), LaaSie.ai (Finalist) Best Reputation Management Software: GuestRevu (2020 Winner), Revinate (Finalist), TrustYou (Finalist) Best Guest Surveys: GuestRevu (2020 Winner), TrustYou (Finalist), Revinate (Finalist) Best Website Live Chat: Asksuite (2020 Winner), HelloShift (Finalist, Best in North America)   How are the the Best Hotel Software Vendors Selected? The HotelTechAwards (produced by Hotel Tech Report) announced the year's top rated hotel software companies and tech products based on thousands of hotelier ratings and other key data-points. During the HotelTechAwards hoteliers from the world's leading hotel companies across 100+ countries review the top tech products used at their hotels to increase operating efficiency, drive revenue and improve the guest experience. This data is used to identify the best hotel tech products and organizations. The competition spans core areas of hotel software & technology: marketing, revenue, operations and guest experience. 2020 Voting included participation from major hotel groups including: Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, Accor Hotels, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Rosewood and thousands of independents. "Each month Hotel Tech Report helps more than 40,000 hoteliers research and vet technology partners for their properties.  Winning a HotelTechAward is the highest achievement in the industry because it’s based on real data. Winners have truly earned their showcase with our rapidly growing community.  Hoteliers trust this award when making purchase decisions because scoring is transparent and participation is ubiquitous amongst the most reputable vendors in the industry," says Jordan Hollander, CEO of Hotel Tech Report. "We created the HotelTechAwards as a democratized way to help our fellow hoteliers quickly determine best of breed vendors based on data they can trust.  Our process is simple, transparent, and unbiased--judging is based on time tested ranking factors, publicly available data and crowdsourced insights from verified hoteliers who have hands on experience with each product.” The HotelTechAwards are often referred to as "the Grammys of Hotel Tech" and winners were selected from more than 100 of the top technology products around the world. The HotelTechAwards are the industry's only data driven awards platform with winners determined not by a handful of judges or popularity votes but by a global community comprised from thousands of verified hotel technology users across more than 120 countries.   Time Tested HotelTechAwards Scoring Methodology

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The 2020 Ultimate Guide to the Hospitality Industry

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

The hospitality industry spans across service industry sectors such as restaurants, hotels and the broader tourism industry (e.g. cruise ships). As one of the largest job creators and economic contributors, it is important for both customers and workers to understand the ins and outs of this dynamic industry. Did you know that the hospitality industry is one of the largest employers globally? The U.S. travel industry, for example, generates more than $1 trillion in economic output each year and when you look to seasonal markets with less industry, travel & hospitality sometimes makes up the majority of the economy (think about places like Hawaii and Phuket). The word hospitality evolved from the Latin hospitalitis, which referred to the relationship between guest and host, as it took its root from hospes, the word for host, guest, stranger, or visitor. Thus hospitality is the act of welcoming guests or strangers (Princeton) or “entertainment of strangers or guests without reward or with kind and generous liberality.”  At its core, hospitality is all about delivering a great customer experience (we explore this more in our piece What is Hospitality?). So whether you’re an industry veteran looking to up your hospitality game this year or even if you're just getting started and want to fast track your knowledge - you’ll love this guide.   What’s Inside this Hospitality Industry Guide? Hospitality Industry Jobs Hospitality Industry Trends Hotel Industry Conferences Top Hospitality Business Publications Hospitality Industry Organizations Best Hotel Schools Largest Employers in the Hospitality Industry Books Every Hotelier Must Read Hospitality Terminology & Industry Jargon Continuing Education & Certifications Technology in the Hospitality Industry   What Makes the Hospitality Industry so Dynamic? With a global footprint and an annual revenue of well over $500 billion, it’s hard not to ignore one of hospitality's most important segments: the lodging industry. A career in this exciting sector can be enriching and challenging, but you may be wondering where to begin. Whether you’re just getting started in your first hospitality job or considering a mid-career switch, this guide will reveal the ins and outs of the hotel industry. This guide will cover aspects of the industry like popular hotel jobs, hotel industry organizations, and recommended hospitality industry reads. We’ll even decode some hotel industry lingo!   Best Hospitality Industry Schools Some hospitality professionals begin their careers in an entry-level hotel job, such as a front desk agent, and climb the ranks by earning promotions from one level to the next. Other hospitality professionals, who knew they wanted to build a career in the hotel industry, might earn a college degree in a hospitality-related field in order to jump into a supervisory or managerial role upon graduation. While many colleges and universities have hospitality or tourism classes, only a few have entire schools dedicated to the hospitality industry. If you want to earn a degree from one of the best, here are the world’s top hotel and hospitality management schools. Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne Located in Lausanne, Switzerland, this prestigious school offers a world-class hospitality education with a global focus. Courses are taught in English or French, and students are required to complete two six-month-long internships, often in different countries, before graduation. The school also focuses on culinary skills and restaurant management, and there are several “teaching restaurants” on campus, including one that has earned a Michelin star. Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration As part of the Ivy League, this program offers hands-on training in its on-site restaurants and hotel, plus a focus on academics in its Center for Hospitality Research and Baker Program in Real Estate. The school is located in Ithaca, New York and offers a dual degree program with the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. The School of Hotel Administration’s alumni network includes over 14,000 members and more than 50 Cornell Hotel Society clubs around the world. University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management Named for the owner of Florida-based Rosen Hotels and Resorts, this school is located in Orlando, Florida. It offers traditional hospitality management degrees in addition to specialized programs in theme park management, golf and club management, entertainment management, and event management. Students can earn Bachelors, Masters, and PhD degrees. Les Roches International School of Hotel Management This globally focused school has campuses in Switzerland, Spain, and China, which offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students can choose between specializations such as digital marketing strategies, hospitality entrepreneurship, and resort development, and successful completion of two six-month internships is required before graduation. University of Nevada’s William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration Located just a stone’s throw from the Las Vegas Strip, it makes sense that this school would offer some of the world’s best programs in casino management, golf management, and meeting and events management. Top hospitality companies visit the campus every year for recruiting, and students often work part-time or as interns during their studies. Hotelschool The Hague Located in the Netherlands, this school has campuses in The Hague and Amsterdam, which offer undergraduate and MBA degree programs. Courses are taught in English, and the school attracts students from across the world, who often embark on global hospitality careers upon graduation. Oxford Brookes University’s Oxford School of Hospitality Management This British school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees with a focus on international hospitality. Students have the option to spend one year in an internship, and the school matches students with experienced industry professionals in a mentorship program. Glion Institute of Higher Education Known simply as Glion, this hospitality school has three campuses; the original is located about 40 miles outside of Geneva, Switzerland, and two satellite campuses are located in Bulle, Switzerland and London, England. Students can specialize in International Event Management, International Hotel Development and Finance, Luxury Brand Management, and more. Michigan State’s Eli Broad College of Business, School of Hospitality Business This school is most well known for its undergraduate degree program, but it also offers executive education and a minor in Hospitality Real Estate Investment Management. The school often hosts guest lecturers and speakers from various leading hospitality companies and encourages students to complete internships. Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business, Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management Offering a wide variety of courses, this school provides education in tourism destination management, catering management, revenue management, data analytics, and more. Students have the opportunity to earn dual degrees with other Virginia Tech programs, like Real Estate or Business. Online Hotel Management Degrees If full-time school isn’t the best option for you, a few e-learning platforms offer hospitality management degrees online. In addition to full degree programs, you can also find continuing education courses online to continue to hone your hotel management skills without committing to full-time classes. Some leading online programs include Florida International University’s online bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, The University of Alabama’s online bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, and eCornell’s suite of continuing education courses that range from revenue management to guest loyalty strategies.   Hospitality Jobs & Career Paths: A Complete Breakdown If you’re certain that you want a career in the hotel industry, you’ll need to decide exactly which role is best for you. A wide variety of jobs compose the entire industry, so people with any type of background or experience can find success in one facet or another. It’s also common for people to start in one role or department, then switch, sometimes multiple times, between roles and departments to build a holistic understanding of hotel operations. General managers have sometimes worked in nearly every hotel department before reaching the GM role! It might seem daunting to apply for your first position, but remember that it’s quite common to jump between departments, if you later find there’s another role you would prefer. Corporate vs. on property hotel jobs Do you think all hotel jobs are based in actual hotels? Many hotel industry professionals don’t work in a hotel at all, but instead in a corporate office or headquarters that works closely with the properties themselves. Some corporate hotel jobs are even split between several properties, with the employee spending a day or two each week at a couple different hotels in one market. Corporate hotel jobs can include roles in marketing, revenue management, sales, reservations, and even branding and real estate development. Corporate hotel jobs can be a fantastic way for someone who is passionate about the hospitality industry to also gain experience working in a traditional office setting, and these jobs often offer the unique perspective of working with more than just one property. However, these jobs can be more difficult to find as hotel companies typically have just a handful of corporate offices, compared to a whole portfolio of properties around the world. Hotel Operations Are Highly Cross-Functional A successful hotel should operate like a sports team, with various departments responsible for different tasks, and the general manager acting as the team captain. Like positions on a soccer field, each position in a hotel requires different skills and work styles, and, while the roles themselves are unique, they’re all crucial to the overall operations of the hotel. General Manager: Every hotel is a business, the GM is the CEO. The GM is responsible for everything that happens on property, from steering the hotel’s strategy to making hiring decisions to resolving serious guest complaints. A general manager usually has his or her own office, but they spend much of the day meeting with the executive team or other departments or walking throughout the hotel and speaking with guests. A GM should be a true “people person” who has strong leadership skills, since they interact constantly with both guests and employees. Sometimes the GM also interfaces with the hotel’s owner or brand representatives, so communication skills are also important. Many general managers work their way up from other departments, perhaps spending a few years as a Director of Rooms. While the role of a general manager can be extremely rewarding, it’s also a challenging job, which carries a lot of responsibility and the flexibility to respond to problems around the clock. General managers typically have a decade or more of work experience in the hotel industry, and many hold college degrees in hotel management. Salaries can vary greatly based on the size and location of the hotel, with average annual pay between $75,000 and $140,000. Operations Manager: An operations manager sits below the general manager and is responsible for overseeing all of the operational aspects of the hotel, which is essentially everything involved in the delivery of a great guest experience. This role supervises the front office, housekeeping, sales, food and beverage, and any other operational department the hotel may have. Ops managers must have a wide range of leadership and communication skills, since their work involves leading teams of employees and solving problems. The operations manager role can be challenging due to the high time commitment and constant demands of both employees and guests, but it’s also a fantastic stepping stone for someone with the goal of becoming a general manager. Operations managers should have several years of work experience, and many hold degrees in hotel management. Salaries depend on the size and location of the hotel, but an average salary is between $51,000 and $95,000.  Housekeeping Manager: The housekeeping manager is responsible for everything required to cleaning guestrooms and the hotel’s public areas. But this role isn’t as simple as overseeing the washing of sheets. Housekeeping managers must coordinate housekeepers’ schedules, hire housekeeping staff, manage inventory, provide quality control checks, and work closely with the front office team. A housekeeping manager must be detail-oriented and a team player. While this role doesn’t work closely with guests, a big part of the role is motivating and developing the housekeeping staff, which can be a challenge in a department that traditionally has high turnover. Some housekeeping managers work their way up from the front desk or housekeeping teams, and others land the job directly out of college or as part of a management training program. Average housekeeping manager salaries range from $66,000 to $90,000. Front Office Manager: The front desk is one of the most important parts of the property, handling check-ins and check-outs, answering questions, and performing administrative tasks. A front office manager supervises the front desk’s operations, which can involve hiring, training, and motivating staff in addition to resolving guest issues. The front office manager works closely with the housekeeping manager to coordinate room cleanings, and the role also plays an important part in communicating guest complaints (or recognizing great guest experiences) to other departments. Front office managers should have excellent communication skills and a lot of patience. Like housekeeping managers, front office managers can get promoted from a front desk agent or front desk supervisor role. Some also come through management training programs. The average front office manager salary is around $42,000, but can vary based on the size and location of the property. IT Manager: Technology is no small part of hotel operations, with nearly every department using some sort of technology solution - from property management systems behind the front desk to reservation systems in restaurants. The IT team is responsible for ensuring all of the hotel’s systems are working properly in addition to maintaining guest-facing technology (like WiFi and electronic locks) and protecting the hotel from cyber attacks. The average IT manager salary is approximately $80,000. Engineering: The engineering team has arguably the most important job in the hotel: they’re responsible for ensuring the physical building is in tip-top shape. Someone working in the engineering team should like being hands-on and have a sense of pride for building they work in. Engineering managers and team members often have a background in maintenance work, perhaps having worked in an office building or hospital previously. The average salary for a hotel engineering manager is around $32,000. Revenue Management: Depending on the size of the property, a hotel might have one revenue manager or a 3- or 4-person revenue management team. Revenue managers are responsible for setting rates, managing the hotel’s online distribution channels, and forecasting rates and occupancy. Revenue managers should have both analytical skills and people skills, since the role involves analyzing historical and market data and working closely with front office, sales, and marketing colleagues. Some revenue managers come from front office or reservations backgrounds, while others find their way to a hotel revenue management job from another type of revenue management field, such as airline or rental cars. Revenue manager salaries vary based on the level of responsibility, but the average salary is around $65,000. Marketing: The marketing department’s key responsibility is to communicate the hotel’s value proposition, brand, and unique characteristics to travelers who may want to book the hotel. Traditional marketing methods like print advertising, are becoming less common, and marketing departments now focus on online channels, such as email newsletters and social media. The marketing team works closely with sales and revenue management to brainstorm upsells and promotions then decide which marketing channels to utilize. Hotel marketing professionals should be creative, resourceful, and articulate.  They should also be great managers because they’ll often need to oversee a hotel’s digital marketing agency where they’ll need to be well versed in marketing skills like SEO, PPC, CRO and more to be effective. Hotel marketing managers and coordinators don’t necessarily need to have backgrounds in the hotel industry, as many come to hotels from other types of marketing roles. Average salaries range from around $44,000 for coordinator roles to $63,000 for manager roles. Sales: The sales department is in charge of selling meeting space, arranging group room blocks, and planning catering and banquet functions. Small hotels may have just one sales manager who handles everything, while large hotels and resorts may have sales teams with coordinators, sales managers, and catering managers, some of whom may even be based remotely. Sales managers work closely with nearly every department at the hotel, from front office to food and beverage. Rather than working directly with guests, sales managers often work with event planners, like corporate travel planners and wedding planners, to decide on the specifics for the event or room blocks. Sales managers can work their way up from other hotel departments or come from other industries altogether. The average sales manager salary is around $60,000 but can be higher depending on the size of the property and commission or bonus structures.   Best Hospitality Industry Conferences One way for hotel professionals to learn about trends and grow their networks is by attending industry events. Many industry organizations host small, regional events, while some other events are held annually and attract attendees from all over the world. ALIS: Held every January, the Americas Lodging Investment Summit is one of the world’s largest hotel investment conferences, with about 3,000 attendees every year. Lodging Conference: This annual conference attracts nearly 2,000 hotel general managers, CEOs, and owners for a few days of brainstorming and networking. The atmosphere is relaxed, with golf outings, shared meals, and think tanks that encourage the participants to come up with creative solutions for trends impacting the industry. Phocuswright Conference: Since Phocuswright is a hospitality industry market research company, it only makes sense that their annual conference would be rooted in data and trends. Their yearly event showcases speakers from the most cutting-edge facets of the industry, like CEOs of hotel technology start-ups, along with insight from Phocuswright’s own analysts. Skift Global Forum: Relatively new to the scene, this travel media company hosts several exciting annual events, including the Skift Global Forum, which explores the future of the travel industry. The Forum event brings speakers from cutting-edge travel companies and offers educational and networking opportunities for travel industry professionals. Indie Congress: The Independent Lodging Congress brings together independent hotel owners and operators for a few days of networking and idea sharing. Speakers include leaders of independent hotel, food and beverage, media, and technology companies.   Top Hospitality Industry Publications The hospitality industry is constantly changing, thanks not only to technology, but also as a result of economic factors, legislation, politics, climate, events, and more. In order to stay up-to-date on the latest industry news, hospitality professionals read industry publications to keep them informed. These publications contain articles about new hotel openings, industry conferences, mergers and acquisitions, new technology for the hotel industry, and more. Hotel News Now: As the press arm of Smith Travel Research, a leading hotel industry analytics company, HNN publishes articles rooted in data from STR’s many studies and events. They track new hotel openings, closures, and brand changes, and their almost-daily “5 things to know” articles provide essential talking points on trends and industry news. Lodging Magazine: Published by the Americna Hotel & Lodging Association, this magazine is both a print magazine and an online news source. Topics range from new hotel openings to food and beverage trends to career development. Hotel Management: This media company delivers articles on topics such as technology, design, and strategies for owning and operating hotel businesses. In addition to their online content, they also produce the monthly Hotel Management print magazine. Hotel Executive: With a focus on providing relevant content for hospitality industry leaders, this online news site covers topics like hiring strategies, hotel design trends, and career development. Hotel Business: This media company isn’t only relevant for property-level hoteliers, but asset managers, owners, and investors too. They also produce an Executive Roundtable series which features insight from industry leaders. Hotel Business has both print and digital editions.     Most Influential Hospitality Industry Organizations Many hospitality industry professionals will tell you that the industry feels very small. It’s not uncommon to run into former colleagues or classmates at events or trade shows - or to get to know fellow hospitality professionals in your area. Industry organizations play a big role in creating a sense of community within the hospitality space in addition to hosting events, holding conferences, and offering networking opportunities. HSMAI: The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International isn’t only an organization for sales and marketing professionals, but any hotel industry professional who plays a role in revenue generation. The organization has chapters all over the world and hosts educational workshops, networking events, and conferences. HEDNA: The Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association started in 1991 with the goal of advancing the hotel industry through electronic distribution channels. Today, electronic distribution includes OTAs, the GDS, tour operators, technology solutions, and more, and the organization hosts educational events and conferences globally. AAHOA: As the largest hotel owners group in the world, Asian American Hotel Owners Association has over 18,000 members in the United States and provides a variety of educational and career development resources. The organization holds an annual convention and produces the monthly Hotelier magazine. AHLA: The American Hotel & Lodging Association works as a supporter and advocate of the hotel industry in the United States. The organization offers educational resources, provides networking opportunities, and hosts the annual Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS). BLLA: The Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association brings together a variety of independent businesses, from boutique hotels to fitness studios, fashion retailers, and wellness businesses. The organization helps its members succeed in largely corporate industries while retaining their unique character. HFTP: Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals began in 1952 and now operates offices and chapters around the world. The organization provides education, events, and resources for people in the finance and technology sectors of the hotel industry in addition to organizing the annual HITEC conferences.  HTNG: Hospitality Technology Next Generation is a trade association for hotel IT professionals and technology vendors. The organization aims to help hotels become more efficient and successful through implementing technology solutions.   Major Employers in the Hospitality Industry Though the hotel industry is more than only chain hotels, global brands are the largest employers in the industry - and some of the world’s largest employers. Working for a major hotel company can offer benefits like complimentary hotel nights at properties around the world, a global network, and the opportunity to transfer to another property to grow your career.  Hilton: Hilton began when Conrad Hilton bought his first hotel in Waco, Texas in 1919. Today the company operates 5,757 properties in 117 countries. 17 brands make up the Hilton portfolio, including Waldorf-Astoria, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, and Hilton Garden Inn. Some of Hilton’s newest brands include the Curio Collection, the Tapestry Collection, and Canopy. Aside from its impressive brand portfolio, Hilton is known as a technology pioneer & innovator amongst the brands. Hilton’s corporate headquarters is in McLean, Virginia. Hyatt: In 1954, the first Hyatt House hotel opened near LAX airport, and during the company’s first few years, the strategy was to open hotels near airports with the expectation that air travel would continue to grow in popularity. That hypothesis proved correct, and Hyatt now has over 875 properties, 20 brands, including Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, and Hyatt Place, and a global footprint in more than 60 countries. Their headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois. Marriott: The world’s 3rd largest hotel company started from modest beginnings with a family-run root beer stand in 1927, later opening their first hotel in Washington, D.C. in 1957. Marriott continued growing, adding new properties and brands to their portfolio, and in 2018, Marriott acquired Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The combination of the two companies now includes 1.1 million rooms in over 5,700 properties, with brands like St. Regis, JW Marriott, and Courtyard by Marriott. Marriott’s headquarters is in Bethesda, Maryland. Accor: As Europe’s largest hotel company, Accor operates over 700,000 hotel rooms, about half of which are in Europe. The company was founded in 1967 and, after several acquisitions, now includes brands like Fairmont, Novotel, and Ibis and properties in 110 countries. Accor’s headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France. IHG: Intercontinental Hotel Group is a conglomerate of several hotel companies, including Kimpton, Holiday Inn, and Intercontinental, which includes 5,795 hotels and over 860,000 rooms. While IHG itself was founded in 2003, the brands have longer histories. IHG has a few head offices, including one in Atlanta, Georgia and another in the UK.   The Best Hospitality Books Whether you’re trying to determine if the hotel industry is for you or if you’re an experienced professional looking for some inspiration, these books by industry legends are compelling reads for anyone interested in hospitality. Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer: The legendary restaurateur and businessman tells his story of building his restaurant empire from Union Square Cafe to Shake Shack. Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy by Isadore Sharp: You’ll find this book in the offices of general managers around the world, in which the founder of the Four Seasons brand shares his wisdom about taking care of not only guests, but employees too. Without Reservations: How a Family Root Beer Stand Grew into a Global Hotel Company by J.W. "Bill" Marriott Jr.: The son of the founder of the Marriott hotel brand, Bill Marriott writes about the lessons he learned from his father and the key takeaways from building an iconic company. 100 Tips for Hoteliers: What Every Successful Hotel Professional Needs to Know and Do by Peter Venison: As a former hotel management textbook writer, hotelier, and frequent traveler, Peter Venison compiled his tips and tricks for running a successful hotel and being successful in the industry, making this book a good read for anyone curious about the hotel industry as well as hotel executives. Nuts!: Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success by Kevin Freiberg: With lessons that apply beyond just the air industry, this book shows how Southwest Airlines’ unique approach helped the airline built passenger loyalty and financial success. Looking for more great industry reads? Check out our 16 favorite hospitality books!   Major Trends Impacting the Hospitality Industry Right Now Like every industry, the world of hospitality changes continuously. As a strong economy and new technologies make travel more accessible to people around the world, the industry is growing and expanding in new ways. Forward-thinking hoteliers should always be aware of the leading industry trends so they can ensure their own businesses stay competitive and relevant. Vacation rentals/homesharing: The rise of Airbnb led to vacation rentals, previously a niche market in leisure destinations, becoming a viable competitor of traditional hotels not only for vacationers, but also for business travelers and groups. As travelers try homesharing (some even developing a preference for it), traditional hotels can compete by offering more local experiences and home-like amenities while maximizing the features that set them apart, like unique food and beverage outlets and creative public spaces. Globalization and international travel: Thanks to the rise of technology, a growing global middle class, and people seeking experiences rather than material possessions, more people are traveling than ever - especially internationally. The number of international travelers has risen steadily for decades, with the most growth coming from the Asia-Pacific region in the last few years. Bleisure: For years, hoteliers treated business travelers and leisure travelers as two distinct guest profiles. Business travelers would typically stay during the week, and leisure travelers would book weekends. In recent years, the lines have blurred, with many business travelers choosing to include leisure time on their business trips, even extending their trips in some cases, leading to the term “bleisure.” Eco-friendly development: As consumers show a preference for sustainable businesses, hotels are going green - in more ways than just encouraging guests to reuse towels for an extra day. Some ways hotels are becoming more sustainable include eliminating single-use toiletry bottles, adding recycle bins to guestrooms, and using compostable to-go containers and utensils. A recent Booking.com study showed that 70% of travelers would be more likely to book eco-friendly accommodations. The hotel industry is incredibly dynamic going into 2020 so we couldn’t cover everything happening in this article. Want to learn about more hospitality industry trends? Check out: 100+ Hotel Trends to Watch in 2020   Hospitality Industry Terminology, Definitions & Jargon If you were to sit in on a hotel’s revenue management meeting, it might sound like the meeting participants are speaking another language. Acronyms, abbreviations, metrics and jargon. Occupancy: The percentage of rooms occupied during a given period of time. For example, if your hotel has 80 rooms, and 71 of them were occupied last night, then last night’s occupancy was 88.75%.  Occupancy = Rooms Sold / Total Number of Rooms ADR: ADR, or average daily rate, is simply the average rate sold during a given period of time. For example, if a hotel booked 71 rooms last night, and the total room revenue was $6745, then last night’s ADR was $95. ADR = Total Room Revenue / Room Nights Sold RevPAR: An abbreviation for Revenue Per Available Room, this metric is calculated by multiplying the occupancy percentage by the average daily rate (ADR). For example, if your occupancy was 88.75% and your ADR was $95, then your RevPAR would be $85.31. RevPAR = ADR x Occupancy % RevPAR Index: RevPAR is a great metric to determine how a hotel is doing today versus yesterday or compared to last year, but what about the hotel’s performance against the market? RevPAR index compares a hotel’s RevPAR to the RevPAR of a set of other hotels.  RevPAR Index = Hotel’s RevPAR / Total Sample Set RevPAR CPOR: This metric stands for Cost Per Occupied Room, and it’s calculated by adding up all of the expenses associated with a booked room, including housekeeping, utilities, laundry. Compset: Compset is short for Competitive Set, which is a group of approximately 4-8 hotels that your hotel views as close competitors. Typically, compset hotels are located in the same area, offer similar amenities, and sell similar rates. Chainscale: With so many hotel brands on the market today, Smith Travel Research’s chain scales organize them into quality classifications which represent roughly the same level of service and amenities. The chain scales are Luxury, Upper Upscale, Upscale, Upper Midscale, and Economy. For example, Four Seasons falls in the Luxury category, Residence Inn is Upscale, and Econo Lodge is Economy.   Hospitality Industry Professional Certifications As hospitality professionals gain more experience in their fields, they may want to further their knowledge and credibility by earning an industry certification. Several industry organizations offer certification programs which could require specific work experience, an exam, or a course. Once certified, a hospitality professional can add the designation to their resume (or after their name on LinkedIn) to demonstrate their expertise in their field. CRME: Certified Revenue Management Executive. This certification is organized by HSMAI and is designed for revenue management professionals. It requires work experience in the revenue management field and a passing grade on an exam. CHTP: Certified Hospitality Technology Professional. This certification is organized by HFTP and is designed for professionals in the finance and information technology fields, such as hotel controllers or IT directors. CHRM: Certified Hospitality Revenue Manager. The American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) organizes this certification, which requires either work or educational experience in a revenue management field and a passing grade on an exam. CHA: Certified Hotel Administrator. Also organized by AHLEI, this certification is for hotel general managers, assistant general managers, owners, or directors of rooms, and it requires at least two years of experience in an executive role and a passing grade on an exam. CHAM: Certified Hotel Asset Manager. The Hospitality Asset Managers Association organizes this certification, which has strict requirements that include letters of recommendation, years of work experience, an exam, and final approval by HAMA’s advisory board. CHHE: Certified Hospitality Housekeeping Executive. Organized by AHLEI, this certification is specifically designed for housekeeping executives and open to anyone who has worked in a managerial level in a hotel’s housekeeping department for at least a year. CHFE: Certified Hospitality Facilities Executive. AHLEI also offers this certification especially for hotel engineering or facilities leaders. At least 1 year of managerial work experience is required in addition to a passing exam grade. CFBE: Certified Food And Beverage Executive. Hospitality professionals working in kitchens, restaurants, or banquet operations are eligible for AHLEI’s food and beverage certification, which involves passing a test in addition to demonstrating relevant work experience. CHAE: Certified Hospitality Accountant Executive. Another certification run by HFTP, this one is designed for accounting professionals within the hotel industry. Candidates could be directors of finance, CFOs of hotel companies, or consultants. -- By now, your interest in the hotel industry should be sufficiently piqued. We invite you to continue learning - whether you’re new to the industry or not - by subscribing to industry publications, participating in industry organizations, or perhaps studying for a certification exam. This exciting field can open up a world of opportunities, build lifelong relationships, and take your career to new heights.   Did we miss anything in our guide? Let us know!  

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Operations Category Press Releases

HelloShift Achieves Level III Global Support Certification

By Hotel Tech Report
1 month 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 (English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, German, Bulgarian, Russian, Czech, Belorusian, Xhosa, Swedish, Norwegian, Slovak, Portuguese, Chinese, Romanian, Taiwanese)  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
2 weeks 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 Global Support Certification, hoteliers can confidently enter new technology partnerships with transparency into the support systems that are in place to mitigate such issues.  Software inevitably goes down and great customer support is the best defense against steep losses. Hoteliers who work with Hotel Tech Report Support Certified vendors also know that those partners have invested in training materials and content to ensure that their teams have everything they need to realize successful outcomes. The certification creates accountability in the vendor community to maintain the highest levels of service for clients through an annual audit by analysts at Hotel Tech Report, the world’s largest technology research platform and online community for the global hotel industry. Leading firms such as Mews Systems, OTA Insight and IDeaS Revenue Solutions have been key supporters of this new industry standard which paves the path for better relationships between technology firms and their hotel clients. “We initially came to Hotel Tech Report with a simple concept.  Our hypothesis was that companies with great customer support would be happy to grant full transparency around their support KPIs with Hotel Tech Report and that companies with subpar support would never give that kind of access.  The team at HTR has brought that concept to life and we’re proud to give full transparency into how we engage, educate and support our customers on a global scale. Ultimately this support certification is an easy way for hoteliers to identify the companies who really treat their clients as partners - it’s a gamechanger for the industry,” says Richard Valtr, Founder of Mews Systems. Decision makers at hotel groups often spend months researching software feature functionality and pricing - but rarely are they able to develop deep insights into how the relationship changes and the level of support their team will receive once the contract is signed. “Hoteliers are constantly rated by parties like JD Power and AAA on the service they deliver to guests which ultimately helps guests find the best hotels.  With this initiative, hoteliers can now benefit from the peace of mind that comes with knowing their future vendors have not only been pre-vetted for professional customer support prior to contract lock-in but they can also easily learn about which tools and processes are most important and which one’s prospective vendors have invested in to help them succeed beyond deal close.” ~Adam Hollander, Hotel Tech Report Poor customer support is incredibly costly for both hotel software buyers and sellers.  For buyers, poor customer support from technology vendors can lead to lost revenue, poor guest satisfaction and weak ROIs on technology spend. “When a booking engine goes down hoteliers can lose thousands of dollars each minute.  What if it takes 24-hours to reach their vendor’s support team and fix the issue? Hoteliers rarely anticipate, let alone, calculate these kinds of costs when signing up with a new vendor because they’re out of sight and out of mind.  Once it happens to them they go into a panic and wish they knew ahead of time,” says Hollander. Another benefit of strong customer engagement processes is maximization of software feature functionality.  A study conducted on 3.8M software users shows that $30B is wasted each year on unused software in the U.S. alone.  Vendors that meet Hotel Tech Report’s support certification have been pre-vetted for the tools and processes necessary to ensure that hotel teams will be properly trained on all feature functionality which ultimately helps them maximize their investments in software and achieve higher ROIs on their software spend.  "45% of software features across the SaaS sector never get used. This is a huge waste. While OTA Insight's usage stats show that the intuitive features in our tools are very well used, we strive for more than just delivering software that works properly; we're committed to ensuring that clients can maximize their investments by ensuring our products and functionality are simple, intuitive and add value. With a heavy focus on customer feedback and input, this informs our ongoing product development," says James Parsons of OTA Insight. Founding members of the Support Certification rallied across the globe to bring this initiative to life.  Each founding member granted Hotel Tech Report access to their internal systems for the team to rate service delivery with its proprietary support certification framework.     Founding Members of the Global Support Certification include:  Mews Systems (Prague) IDeaS (Minneapolis) OTA Insight (London) TrustYou (Munich) Travel Tripper (New York) Hotelchamp (Amsterdam) Oaky (Amsterdam) Revinate (San Francisco) D-EDGE (Paris) Pace (London) Beekeeper (Zurich) RevControl (Eindhoven) Hotel Effectiveness (Atlanta) GuestRevu (Port Alfred) Stardekk (Brugge) The Global Support Certification is now live for hotel technology suppliers to apply for certification.  This budget season, for the first time ever, hotel tech buyers can easily vet customer support for future vendors and access support certification details right from company profiles on Hotel Tech Report. Learn more about the certification

Registration is Now Open for the 2020 HotelTechAwards

By Hotel Tech Report
9 months 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
8 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
3 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:
Quore
RoomChecker
Amadeus HotSOS
OPTii
Aavgo
Flexkeeping

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: