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SiteMinder Achieves Level III Global Support Certification

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 days ago

SiteMinder Achieves Level III Global Support Certification This week, SiteMinder 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. “What’s really unique about SiteMinder’s support organization is their ability to not just provide their product, but also their expertise, data and market knowledge to help clients succeed. Their sheer scale allows them to collect mounds and mounds of market data that they skillfully leverage and turn into insights that they package and deliver to clients through things like bespoke ‘recommendation packs’ and local market updates to help clients get the most value out of being a SiteMinder client which is something that very few companies have the wherewithal or scale to deliver,” says Hotel Tech Report co-founder Adam Hollander. "Your technology will only carry you so far. It’s the service that you provide to customers that keeps a business strong. Knowing this, SiteMinder has had an unrelenting commitment to customer service from day one, and our responsive and global approach is something that we are proud of. Our teams are dispersed throughout the world. We cover phone support in each of the 11 languages that we operate in and make our products available in eight of those languages, so that despite being a global business, we are also a truly local player to our hotel customers," says Sankar Narayan, CEO at SiteMinder. The below GCSC assessment outlines the verified systems and processes that SiteMinder has in place to educate, train, retain and support customers.   SiteMinder's GCSC Assessment Summary  Rubric Score: 27/34 Certification Level:III Customer Orientation: Customer Focused Recommendation: Highly recommended Support Team Size: 145 Support Team Leaders: Vinnie Panicker VP, Global Support Certification Period: February 15, 2020 - February 15, 2021 Support Stack: ProductBoard, Intercom, Google Slides, Wistia, Atlassian, GetFeedback, alteryx, Tableau, Salesforce     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 SiteMinder 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) 4.2 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 SiteMinder has in place for clients: 1.2 Transparent process: Vendor has opened up their systems to Hotel Tech Report via screen share to verify their tools and processes in place to deliver customer support. 1.3 Email support or phone support: Vendor at least one of the traditional methods of customer support channels, email or phone support (additional channels: phone, chat, email) 1.4 Multi-lingual support: Vendor offers support in the languages where they have active clients 1.5 Purpose built support and ticket management tool: Vendor utilizes professional customer support software that has functionality to effectively manage support tickets, followup, escalations and analytics. 2.2 Live Chat support: Vendor offers website or in-app live chat as an alternative customer support channel. 3.3 Contract SLAs: Vendor has service level agreement (SLA) terms in place in client contracts to guarantee that service levels are upheld. 3.5 Feature request tracking: Vendor offers the ability for clients to easily submit feature requests and has a methodology in place for escalating high priority features. 4.5 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 SiteMinder 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. 4.9 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 SiteMinder 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. 2.5 4-star avg. customer support rating: Vendor has outstanding customer support ratings averaging more than 4.0/5 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.

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RFPs Made Easy: Everything You Need to Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

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

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Revenue Management Strategies: Tactical vs. Strategic

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

What does your vision of revenue management strategy of the future look like? Running advanced space tourism purchase promotions on Mars hotels or last-minute deals on spaceship cabins? Okay, maybe we can’t predict that far ahead, but we can help you overcome tough economic conditions and make the most of periods of uncertainty. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by everything you need to handle on a daily basis or frustrated that your hotel isn’t hitting its strategic goals, we’ll show you why shifting away from tactical revenue management is the key to success in the long term. This article will uncover why strategic revenue management is so important, and how by switching to a more strategic focus, you can reach your goals without relying on last-minute, reactive tactics. In light of the current COVID-19 crisis, we’ll look at lessons learned from the periods after 9/11 and the 2008 recession to help you work toward strong rates and occupancy in the future.   Evolving Strategies of Revenue Management Before we jump in the time machine, let’s explore the differences between strategic and tactical revenue management. What do the two terms mean? Can you have one without the other? Strategic revenue management, as you may have guessed, refers to your overall revenue management strategy. Strategy has a more long-term focus, and it involves a roadmap to reach a target. For example, your goal might be to increase ancillary revenue or shift share away from OTAs toward your direct channels, and your strategy outlines how you’ll get there. Tactical revenue management, on the other hand, refers to the specific actions you take. If your goal is to drive ancillary revenue, then tactics might include setting up packaged offers with F&B credits or sending email blasts that advertise your spa specials. For many revenue managers, tactics also include setting last-minute discounts or releasing rooms to opaque channels in an effort to book any additional rooms on short notice. Of course, you can’t achieve your strategic goals without actually putting your tactics into action, so both types of revenue management are necessary. However, many revenue managers - maybe including yourself - spend so much time on the tactical piece that they don’t have the time or energy to focus on the bigger picture. The strategic revenue management tasks often get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list as tactical tasks that seem more urgent take priority.   The Future of Hotel Revenue Management The hotel industry, like the economy as a whole, is cyclical. As the economy gets stronger or weaker, so does the demand for hotel rooms. We witnessed the first major hotel industry shakeup after 9/11; during this period of decreased demand, revenue managers became more integral players in hotel operations, and their responsibilities grew to involve both tactical and strategic tasks. The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the dip in demand after 9/11, except for two key differences: the demand for hotel rooms now is significantly less than after 9/11, and technology is much more advanced today, nearly 20 years later. As a result,  innovative revenue management systems allow us to automate many tactical tasks, and revenue managers’ strategic minds are needed more than ever to find creative solutions to get hotels through these tough times. Based on the hotel industry’s post-9/11 restructuring, we will likely see revenue management roles and teams that have different responsibilities in a post-COVID-19 world. When demand is low, all we can think about is getting heads in beds. It’s tempting to throw out our strategic revenue management playbook and grab whatever tactics we can get our hands on. Slashing rates and giving away free nights might seem like good ideas in the short term, but if we look at rate and occupancy trends during the period after 9/11 or the 2008 recession, we discover that these aren’t good ideas at all. Deep discounting actually makes it more difficult to build rates back up since travelers get used to paying cheap rates. The best course of action is to listen to your revenue management system’s recommendations and automate the tactical side as much as possible. Instead of jumping to short-term “wins” that could hurt your performance in the long run, revenue managers benefit from using a slow period to focus on strategic revenue management. Revenue managers should take the hotel’s entire value proposition into account when setting rates, being mindful of the opportunities they can create for other departments by offering value adds (F&B credits, for example). It’s also prudent to only make rate adjustments for dates that you’re absolutely certain will be affected by decreased demand; you don’t want to sell discounted rates too far into the future in case demand rebounds by then.   What’s Needed for Strategic Revenue Management? Just like running a hotel, you can’t do strategic revenue management entirely on your own. Revenue managers that apply strategic revenue management effectively know how to leverage both technology and people within the hotel to achieve their goals.   People Though revenue managers are known for their analytical know-how and razor-sharp Excel skills, strategic revenue management offers the perfect chance to hone your people skills. How do your colleagues fit into good strategic revenue management? Get everybody on board: Before you launch any type of revenue management strategy, you need to get buy-in from your colleagues - especially the executive team. They must understand why you’re choosing certain strategies and what the long-term impact will be. If an ownership group is involved, you can even mention how solid strategic revenue management will boost their overall return on investment and make the hotel more profitable. Once everyone understands the strategy, then you’ll have the support and resources you need to put your plans into action. Incorporate other departments: It’s easy to think that strategic revenue management is only something that concerns the revenue, sales, and rooms departments. But, in reality, a comprehensive revenue management strategy can include (and benefit!) every department on property. Is one of your goals to increase ancillary revenue? Then you can collaborate with the food and beverage team on some mouth-watering special offers. Lay out a plan: Strategic revenue management involves planning and predicting what you need to do to hit your targets. But in order to create a good plan, you need to do some serious brainstorming. Together with your team, block a few hours on your calendars on a regular basis so you can get in the habit of setting aside your daily distractions to focus on the bigger picture. Thinking about your hotel’s position in the market, your services and amenities, major events in your area, and more. How can you maximize these factors? Once you understand where your hotel is currently, you can determine some strategic goals and formulate a concrete plan to reach them. It’s also helpful to include milestones and points where the team can check in with each other to keep progress moving along. Technology But people aren’t the only component in strategic revenue management - especially not when the people are as busy as you are. Revenue managers need high-tech tools and innovative systems to help them glean insights from data and streamline daily tasks. Automate, automate, automate! Let technology handle the tactical piece while you focus on strategic revenue management. A successful revenue manager uses a revenue management system like IDeaS to automate tasks like pulling and sending reports, making rate changes, and distributing rates to various channels. Think of your revenue management software as your trusty sidekick, there to assist with routine tasks and free up your time for more important things. Dig into big data: Revenue management software can also reveal information about your market, your competitors, or your guest behavior that you can use to shape your strategy. Especially after a market downturn, you’ll want to have a pulse on not only your competitors' rates, but also the demand for your market as a whole. You don’t need to spend your valuable time doing research; a technology solution like IDeaS can provide real-time insights based on market data.   Although we like to try, we can’t predict the future, nor can we anticipate exactly when the next slow period will creep up on us. But by making strategic revenue management an integral part of your hotel’s operations, you will be better prepared to weather the storm and less inclined to jump to impulsive tactics. When you focus on a strategy that reflects your hotel’s value as a whole, you can reach your strategic goals, which, in our opinion, is the best vision of the future of revenue management.  

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Understanding the Demand Curve (And How It Works)

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Property owners commonly rely on their revenue management tool to “do the work” for them, using their RMS to find the ideal mix of room rates and occupancy. It’s easy to fall into the trap of using your revenue management tool blindly without understanding how it works. As a result, however, you may be missing a strategy that will drive the absolute highest value for your hotel. Revenue management systems like BEONPRICE automate much of the revenue management tasks that would previously occupy much of your time. These systems do the bulk of the manual labor, but stop at providing strategic revenue management. This is where revenue managers need to focus their effort: and returning to the basics of the demand curve can help your team be more strategic in maxing out your property’s revenue potential. Understanding the demand curve gives decision-makers a way to anticipate how demand affects the pricing of your hotel rooms. The demand curve allows you to model travelers’ decisions and price your rooms accordingly to gain the most possible revenue from those seeking accommodation at any given time. Revisiting the basics of the demand curve can help you develop a more intelligent revenue strategy to gain more customers and beat out the compset.   What is a Demand Curve? The demand curve is a graphical illustration of the law of demand. It represents the relationship between the price of a good or service and the amount (quantity) demanded over a given period of time. The x-axis charts the quantity demanded; the y-axis charts the price. The demand curve allows you to predict the quantity demanded when you price your rooms at a specific dollar amount. There are two main types of demand curves: the elastic demand curve and the inelastic demand curve. Elasticity refers to the degree to which an increase in price results in a decrease in demand. When a demand curve is elastic, a price decrease causes a significant increase in the quantities purchased. For instance, when the price of paper towel drops by 15%, a shopper might buy extra knowing they’ll use it eventually. A perfectly elastic demand curve looks like a flat, horizontal line. Inelastic demand curves map what happens when a price decrease doesn’t increase the quantity purchased. Fruit, for instance, has a relatively inelastic demand curve; because fruit spoils in large quantities, a shopper can’t buy more of it just because the price falls by 15%. A perfectly inelastic demand curve looks like a vertical straight line. There are many variables that impact demand elasticity, especially in the hotel industry. Before we dive into those, we’ll cover a basic understanding of the law of demand to provide background your hotel can use along with a revenue management tool to improve profitability.   What is the Law of Demand? In macroeconomics, the law of demand is a principle that states that as the price of a good decreases the quantity demanded of that good will increase (and vice versa). The phrase “quantity demanded” is an important part of this definition. Quantity demanded refers to the discrete amount of a product or services – e.g., available hotel rooms, or hours of labor. Most people just refer to this as “demand,” but in macroeconomics, demand refers to the entire demand curve. The law of demand holds true as long as four key factors that influence demand don’t change. These factors include:  The prices of related goods or services (e.g., airline tickets) The income of the buyer The tastes or preferences of the buyer The expectations of the buyer (e.g., about future prices) These factors, among other things like the state of the economy and regulatory changes, can shift the entire demand curve as the relationship between price and quantity changes.   Demand Curve Shifters When the entire demand curve for a product shifts to the right, that indicates that the product has become more commercially desirable and that a larger quantity will be sold at a given price. If the entire demand curve shifts to the left, the opposite is true: the good or service is less desirable and fewer items will be sold at a given price. What causes a demand curve to shift? The demand curve graph can shift to the left or right depending on changes in income, population, and consumer preferences. Here are some examples of how this works.   Income: when income goes up, so does demand. Consumers who have more disposable income are more likely to spend it. When the economy expands and paychecks go up, consumers tend to spend more on desirable goods, leading to a shift in the overall demand curve to the right.  Population: if population goes up, so does demand – shifting the curve to the right. There are more people who want an item at any given price point, so the curve moves.  Consumer preferences: there are all kinds of things that can influence consumer preferences. Consistently negative reviews of a hotel property, for instance, can cause the demand to drop. Movements in taste change the quantity of a good at every price point. Remember, when the demand curve shifts, it indicates a shift in overall demand – not just in quantity demand. A shift left or right does not mean that the quantity demanded by every individual buyer changes by the same amount. For instance, not everyone who has a higher income will, therefore, buy an additional car. A shift in a demand curve shows a pattern for the market as a whole.   Hotel Demand Curves What does the law of demand mean for pricing at your hotel? There are many variables that increase or decrease demand, meaning the hotel industry is pretty elastic. These independent variables include average daily rate (ADR), income, change in employment, seasonal trends (i.e., demand during spring break or holiday travel periods), and rooms sold. ADR has a negative relationship to demand while the rest can positively shift the curve to the right. “For example, as ADRs increase, consumers purchase fewer hotel rooms, hence the negative sign. As income and employment increase, consumers have greater abilities to purchase hotel rooms, hence the positive direction of these relationships,” reported one analysis. However, different types of properties also have different degrees of elasticity. General price elasticity data shows that luxury rooms and high-end properties are by far the most elastic. Because these rooms are considered a luxury good, travelers are more price-sensitive to spending on expensive vacations; they’ll seek “value” when incomes are down, unemployment is up, or news headlines predict a recession. The following table indicates how elastic demand curves are for each type of property.    What do the numbers in this table mean? If the quantity demanded increases by 7% when price decreases by 10%, the price elasticity of demand is -7/10 or -0.7. In this case, expect expenditures to decrease by 3%. By understanding how guest income, employment, seasonal trends, and ADR can change your demand curve, revenue managers can price rooms effectively to capture the highest possible quantity demanded. This is where a revenue management software platform comes into play.   Revenue Management Software is the Key to Optimizing Demand Revenue management software such as BEONPRICE can help gather data points necessary to properly price your hotel rooms. Revenue management software helps your team sell the right room to the right customer at the right price, incorporating demand curve variables along with channel and timing to maximize profitability. BEONPRICE will factor in historical and market data with forecasting and predictive analytics to recommend rates for each customer segment and room type. The algorithms in an RMS help hotels set an ADR depending on real-time supply and demand information. Accurately pricing rooms with better data leads to an increase in RevPAR and Net RevPAR (RevPAR after operating costs are deducted), as well as the RevPAR Index (a measure of revenue in comparison to competitors in the market). When a spike in demand is predicted for a seasonal, such as university spring break, BEONPRICE can help set prices that account for the right shift in the demand curve.  Hotels that use revenue management systems save between 20 - 40 hours each month by streamlining manual workflows. The AI built into BEONPRICE and similar platforms can free up your team to do more strategic thinking. Leave supply and demand analysis to the robots – and get your pricing on the right track by returning to demand curve basics.  

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Hotel Technology: 8 Trends to Watch in 2020

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

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

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Revenue Management Category Press Releases

SiteMinder Achieves Level III Global Support Certification

By Hotel Tech Report
2 days ago

SiteMinder Achieves Level III Global Support Certification This week, SiteMinder 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. “What’s really unique about SiteMinder’s support organization is their ability to not just provide their product, but also their expertise, data and market knowledge to help clients succeed. Their sheer scale allows them to collect mounds and mounds of market data that they skillfully leverage and turn into insights that they package and deliver to clients through things like bespoke ‘recommendation packs’ and local market updates to help clients get the most value out of being a SiteMinder client which is something that very few companies have the wherewithal or scale to deliver,” says Hotel Tech Report co-founder Adam Hollander. "Your technology will only carry you so far. It’s the service that you provide to customers that keeps a business strong. Knowing this, SiteMinder has had an unrelenting commitment to customer service from day one, and our responsive and global approach is something that we are proud of. Our teams are dispersed throughout the world. We cover phone support in each of the 11 languages that we operate in and make our products available in eight of those languages, so that despite being a global business, we are also a truly local player to our hotel customers," says Sankar Narayan, CEO at SiteMinder. The below GCSC assessment outlines the verified systems and processes that SiteMinder has in place to educate, train, retain and support customers.   SiteMinder's GCSC Assessment Summary  Rubric Score: 27/34 Certification Level:III Customer Orientation: Customer Focused Recommendation: Highly recommended Support Team Size: 145 Support Team Leaders: Vinnie Panicker VP, Global Support Certification Period: February 15, 2020 - February 15, 2021 Support Stack: ProductBoard, Intercom, Google Slides, Wistia, Atlassian, GetFeedback, alteryx, Tableau, Salesforce     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 SiteMinder 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) 4.2 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 SiteMinder has in place for clients: 1.2 Transparent process: Vendor has opened up their systems to Hotel Tech Report via screen share to verify their tools and processes in place to deliver customer support. 1.3 Email support or phone support: Vendor at least one of the traditional methods of customer support channels, email or phone support (additional channels: phone, chat, email) 1.4 Multi-lingual support: Vendor offers support in the languages where they have active clients 1.5 Purpose built support and ticket management tool: Vendor utilizes professional customer support software that has functionality to effectively manage support tickets, followup, escalations and analytics. 2.2 Live Chat support: Vendor offers website or in-app live chat as an alternative customer support channel. 3.3 Contract SLAs: Vendor has service level agreement (SLA) terms in place in client contracts to guarantee that service levels are upheld. 3.5 Feature request tracking: Vendor offers the ability for clients to easily submit feature requests and has a methodology in place for escalating high priority features. 4.5 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 SiteMinder 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. 4.9 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 SiteMinder 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. 2.5 4-star avg. customer support rating: Vendor has outstanding customer support ratings averaging more than 4.0/5 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.

OTA Insight Achieves Level III Global Support Certification

By Hotel Tech Report
2 days ago

This week, OTA Insight 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 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. “While analyzing the OTA Insight team’s internal support infrastructure during the certification process, what really stood out was the depth and sophistication of their feedback loop. Not only do they intake thousands of feedback suggestions across tons of channels and touchpoints like ProductBoard, Slack, email, success calls and live chat to keep a pulse on customer needs; but more importantly, their processes for feedback ingestion, routing, followup and prioritization are key ingredients to a product roadmap that’s driven around customer needs and pain points. As businesses scale this feedback loop becomes harder and harder to organize, prioritize and manage but OTA Insight makes it look easy and there’s no question about it that this is one of the key ingredients to both their success as a company and the success of their users.” Hotel Tech Report co-founder Adam Hollander. "The customer really is at the core of our business and always has been. As a base, customer insights and feedback affect everything from our product development, through to the sales consultation process. When it comes to customer support, our industry-leading customer success team are focused on delivering quick and efficient support around the clock. Not only does this customer-centric model reduce friction, it means customers can completely trust the accuracy of our data." - Gino Engels, Co-Founder & CCO“I am absolutely delighted for OTA Insight to achieve this certification. It re-confirms our commitment to being a fully customer centric-organisation and shows that we take our customer service seriously. I am incredibly proud of the teams who contribute to this service standard, and this award is testament to their continued drive to improve all areas of our service.” - James Parsons, Global Director, Customer Success & Operations The below GCSC assessment outlines the verified systems and processes that OTA Insight has in place to educate, train, retain and support customers. OTA Insight's GCSC Assessment Summary  Rubric Score: 29/34 Certification Level: III Customer Orientation: Customer Focused Recommendation: Highly recommended Support Team Size: 40 Support Team Leaders: James Parsons, Global Director of Customer Success & Operations Certification Period: March 12, 2020-March 20, 2021 Support Stack: Productboard, Intercom, Slack, Chartio, Satismeter, Hubspot, Pendo, Inspectlet, Wistia, Google Slides   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 OTA Insight 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) 4.2 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 OTA Insight has in place for clients: 1.2 Transparent process: Vendor has opened up their systems to Hotel Tech Report via screen share to verify their tools and processes in place to deliver customer support. 1.3 Email support or phone support: Vendor at least one of the traditional methods of customer support channels, email or phone support (additional channels: phone, chat, email) 1.4 Multi-lingual support: Vendor offers support in the languages where they have active clients 1.5 Purpose built support and ticket management tool: Vendor utilizes professional customer support software that has functionality to effectively manage support tickets, followup, escalations and analytics. 2.2 Live Chat support: Vendor offers website or in-app live chat as an alternative customer support channel. 3.3 Contract SLAs: Vendor has service level agreement (SLA) terms in place in client contracts to guarantee that service levels are upheld. 3.5 Feature request tracking: Vendor offers the ability for clients to easily submit feature requests and has a methodology in place for escalating high priority features. 4.4 24/7 support availability: Vendor offers 24/7 support to clients for around the clock assistance.   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 OTA Insight 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. 4.9 Dedicated customer success monitoring software: Vendor utilizes dedicated customer success software to monitor product usage and coach users to succeed with the product. 4.10 Customer conference: Vendor produces an in-person or online user conference to build a community, share product updates and educate users on best practices.   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 OTA Insight has in place for clients: 3.7 Public Feedback Validation: Vendor shows exemplary client relationships and is a top performer on Hotel Tech Report with more than 50 verified client reviews. 4.12 Outstanding Customer Support Rating: Vendor has outstanding customer support ratings averaging more than 4.5/5 across all client reviews. 4.13 Vendor Confidence: The vendor has revealed their private internal customer satisfaction scores to Hotel Tech Report showing high degrees of confidence in their support infrastructure and outcomes which can be a strong indicator of transparency and positive vendor-client relationships.   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/

Atomize Achieves Level I Global Support Certification

By Hotel Tech Report
2 days ago

This week, Atomize earned Hotel Tech Report’s level I 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. “Atomize has focused on building a self-serve automated product but their support team is always accessible to clients if they need help.  With an average support rating of 5/5 from 75+ verified client reviews, it's clear that their system is working.” Hotel Tech Report co-founder Adam Hollander. "The hotel industry is the most service minded industry out there. It is in the DNA to serve guests beyond expectations. Consequently; to serve hotels as a technology vendor, it is imperative to set customer service first. True customer service cannot however be achieved by a department, it needs to include the entire company which is a receipt of the overall company culture." Alexander Edström, CEO @ Atomize The below GCSC assessment outlines the verified systems and processes that Atomize has in place to educate, train, retain and support customers.   Atomize's GCSC Assessment Summary  Rubric Score: 18/34 Certification Level: I Customer Orientation: Customer Minded Recommendation: Recommended Support Team Size: 3 Support Team Leader: Richard Harmon - Global Client Success and Support Manager Certification Period: February 20, 2020-February 20, 2021 Support Stack: Atlassian, Hubspot, Google Sheets     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 Atomize 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. 3.2 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)   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 Atomize has in place for clients: 1.2 Transparent process: Vendor has opened up their systems to Hotel Tech Report via screen share to verify their tools and processes in place to deliver customer support. 1.3 Email support or phone support: Vendor at least one of the traditional methods of customer support channels, email or phone support (additional channels: phone, chat, email) 1.4 Multi-lingual support: Vendor offers support in the languages where they have active clients 1.5 Purpose built support and ticket management tool: Vendor utilizes professional customer support software that has functionality to effectively manage support tickets, followup, escalations and analytics. 2.2 Live Chat support: Vendor offers website or in-app live chat as an alternative customer support channel. 3.5 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.   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 Atomize has in place for clients: 1.7 Customer satisfaction monitoring (ex. NPS surveys, CSAT): Vendor has processes in place to regularly monitor customer satisfaction. 3.6 Performance reporting: Vendor offers reporting and analytics to show clients the value of the product or service.   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 Atomize has in place for clients: 3.7 Public Feedback Validation: Vendor shows exemplary client relationships and is a top performer on Hotel Tech Report with more than 50+ 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. 4.13 Vendor Confidence: The vendor has revealed their private internal customer satisfaction scores to Hotel Tech Report showing high degrees of confidence in their support infrastructure and outcomes which can be a strong indicator of transparency and positive vendor-client relationships.   About the Hotel Tech Report Global Customer Support Certification (GCSC) Support is one of the most critical aspects of the vendor selection process and yet historically there has never been a way to know the quality of a company’s support, until now. Using Hotel Tech Report’s proprietary framework, companies are assessed along four key dimensions: pre-emptive support, reactive support, coaching/success and client validation to provide hoteliers unprecedented levels of transparency to more easily identify top technology partners. For more information please visit: https://partners.hoteltechreport.com/global-support-certification/

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

By Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

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

Registration is Now Open for the 2020 HotelTechAwards

By Hotel Tech Report
1 year ago

Registration is now open for the 2020 HotelTechAwards (www.hoteltechawards.com), the industry's only data driven awards platform that recognizes best of breed hotel technology companies who win in the eyes of the judges that matter most - their customers. 2019 winners of the HotelTechAwards included top hotel technology companies such as TravelClick, Beekeeper, Screen Pilot, Atomize and Oaky. New York based ALICE won "The Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech" edging out runner up Mews Systems (10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech). "Revenue generation and operations have become very complex for hotels, threatening profitability and detracting from the customer experience. The answer lies in innovative technology solutions, which can disrupt the disruptors. The HotelTechAwards recognize these technologies and their beneficial impact on the future of our industry." says Marc Heyneker, CEO at Revinate, one of the hotel tech industry's most recognized brands and 2019’s top rated Hotel CRM. Companies are competing for category leadership across marketing, revenue management, guest experience, operations and sales technology. Hotel technology companies ranging from hardware to software and service businesses like digital marketing agencies are eligible for nomination. More than 40 companies around the world have already pre-registered for the competition. Registration closes on September 1st. Voting will take place through December 31, 2019 and winners of the 2020 HotelTechAwards will be announced on January 15, 2020. "As a former hotelier there was ultimately one thing my team wanted to know about prospective technology partners," says Jordan Hollander, co-founder of Hotel Tech Report. "We wanted to know what other hoteliers like us thought about the service providers, that they were tried and true and that the company could deliver on their sales promises. The HotelTechAwards were designed to do exactly that - they help hoteliers see what people like them honestly think about products and services to help them make better decisions for their properties." Learn more about the HotelTechAwards and register now at www.hoteltechawards.com

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Revenue Management Category Overview

Revenue management has made great strides in recent years. The transition to cloud-based systems built flexibility into the software development process, accelerating the pace of new features. The shorter cycles allow the software to more accurately meet the evolving needs of hoteliers. This is a relief to many hoteliers with less-than-pleasant memories of the shackles of frozen legacy technology.

A review of today’s revenue management technology highlights just how far the industry has come in fulfilling a vision of connected revenue management systems that use data to dynamically price room inventory. Real-time, data-driven intelligence now comes standard in the industry-leading tools.  

An agile approach to releasing new features is also a requirement. As the industry experiments with new ways to sell its inventory, such as attribute-based selling, the best revenue management software anticipate change, test features, and deliver on the promise of true revenue optimization.

Even so, only 1 in 10 hotels deploys some level of revenue management software, due largely to the complexity of practicing proper revenue management. A comprehensive approach to revenue management generally includes a solution from each of the following categories: CRS, RMS, rate shopper, and business intelligence. Some solutions offer more of a one-stop-shop, while others overlap.

Whether you choose to stick with one multi-purpose solution or craft a bespoke tech stack, be sure to prioritize agility, flexibility, and extensibility. You want a vendor that keeps ahead of the trends, while also offering a flexible product that can be customized to your needs through flexible implementation and extensible integrations.

With that in mind, here are some of the key categories that you should be leveraging to optimize revenue management at your hotel.


Revenue management software automates the process of using analytics -- mainly supply and demand -- to determine the right price for hotel rooms to maximize revenue and profitability. The primary goal is to sell the right product to the right customer at the right time for the right price on the right channel. Revenue management software ingests historical and market data, combines this with forward-looking demand signals and recommends a rate for each segment and room type at your hotel, specific for each channel on which you are selling. Recently, modern software has moved from on-premise to cloud-based applications that are delivered as Software-as-a-Service, meaning multiple users can login to the applications from anywhere they have an Internet connection.

Key Features:
  • Integrations - It’s important that your RMS integrates with your PMS, CRS, CRM and booking engine with a reliable, two-way connection so that the systems can share the right data.
  • Open Pricing - Your RMS must be able to price room types and channels independently of each other, rather than in lockstep with a set BAR price. For example, on some days you want your AAA rate to be 10% less than BAR, on other days you may want it 1% less than BAR.
  • Cloud technology - An RMS that runs on multi-tenant cloud architecture allows your systems to integrate and share data more seamlessly, and allows developers to push updates to your software in real time. No more purchasing new versions of software just to get the latest features.  
  • Intelligent reporting - It’s important that your RMS be able to build, export and share your most critical reports. Revenue teams must be able to share reports at the push of a button with management, ownership and other departments within the hotel.
  • Data Visualization - A good RMS not only presents your data in tabular reports, but allows you to visual your data and reports in graphical form. This allows revenue teams to better understand trends, outliers and patterns in data.

Key Players:

Market intelligence tools help hoteliers make more informed decisions on pricing and revenue strategies. Previously manual processes, such as monitoring competitors’ rates, managing your own property’s (or properties’) rate parity across multiple channels, predicting your competitors’ demand, pulling local event and weather data, etc. are now fully automated. For those who operate a broader portfolio, the time savings is multiplied for each property under management.

Key Players:

A central reservation system (CRS) is a platform used by hotels to centrally manage and distribute room inventory, rates, and reservations. The CRS typically receives inventory from the PMS, then distributes rates and availability in real-time to direct and third-party channels, including the hotel’s own website booking engine and call center (direct channels), as well as channel managers, OTAs, GDS, and metasearch (third-party channels). Reservations from these channels are sent back to the CRS and subsequently synced into the PMS for room allocation. Hotel revenue managers and marketing/e-commerce managers use the CRS to create various promotions and offers through rate plans for different channels and to adjust pricing quickly to be updated across all channels. Reservation agents also work in the CRS to manage reservations.

Key Features:
  • Integrations and distribution: channels The CRS should integrate seamlessly with your existing PMS and allow your hotel to distribute rates and availability through a wide network of channels, including direct channels (website, call center) and third-party channels (OTAs, GDS, metasearch). 
  • Pricing capabilities and flexibility: Every good revenue manager needs a good toolset. Your CRS partner should offer dynamic pricing tools that will give your hotel enormous flexibility when it comes to executing complex revenue strategies. Also consider whether integrations between your revenue management, merchandising, and CRM platforms with the CRS would help to increase operational efficiency (e.g. being able to automate pricing from an RMS, being able to enter rates only once within a backend, etc.) 
  • Booking engine / e-commerce platform: A huge deciding factor for many hotels is the quality of the CRS’s booking engine, which should offer conversion optimization features to encourage direct bookings. Key features include the ability to showcase strikethrough pricing, social proof, scarcity messaging, and incremental pricing, among others. 
  • Support and account management: A good CRS partner should not only provide round-the-clock technical support, but should also have active account management focused on customer success. Client services should include performance reviews with detailed analytics and reporting, as well as advice on revenue and pricing strategies. 
  • Innovation: Your CRS partner should always be seeking to enhance features, support the latest technology trends, and evolve the platform to fit the needs of today’s hotel.

Key Players:

Business Intelligence tools are designed exclusively for analysis; to provide fast and widespread access to accurate information and insight. Through dashboards, reports and analytics. users can explore their business – both historical performance and future activity. BI automates reporting, turning report producers into information consumers who can in turn analyze and apply their findings to influence business results. Business Intelligence is about gathering data from a variety of sources and then utilizing technology to serve information to decision-makers in ways that help them to understand where opportunities exist within their business.

Key Features:
  • Cloud Infrastructure: Ease of access to BI across devices. No expensive, lengthy implementation or physical on-site installation. 
  • Depth of Information: Ability to not only view statistics/figures, but to dive deeper into the data and understand what’s impacting those results. 
  • Data Management: Ability to manage & clean data to maintain data & reporting quality and accuracy. 
  • Forecast & Budget Support: Forecasting/Budgeting at the most granular level allows hotels to measure their performance on an ongoing basis to achieve their goals. 
  • Enterprise Level Reporting: Allowing users to view performance of multiple hotels using unified standards makes for easier reporting at an area or portfolio level.

Key Players:

A channel manager is a technology that allows a hotel to expand its reach and visibility online, as well as more easily manage its rates, availability, and reservations. With a channel manager, hotels can access hundreds of online distribution channels and connect to as many as they like at the same time. Hotels can list all of their rooms and availability on all channels and the channel manager will update these automatically and in real-time when a booking is made, thanks to a pooled inventory model. This allows the hotel to maximize occupancy and reservations with minimal risk of being overbooked.

Key Features:
  • Supports your existing booking sites and has a large network: Hoteliers will want to make sure their preferred channels are supported by the channel manager they plan to invest in. Additionally, it’s important the hotel has the opportunity to connect with many new booking sites, in new markets, to grow business and revenue. It’s important the hotel can have the opportunity to connect with many new booking sites, in new markets, to grow business and revenue. 
  • Deep system integrations: The channel manager should be able to integrate with existing systems such as the PMS, RMS, and CRS, and ensure seamless, two-way reservation delivery. 
  • Simple and effective reporting: To manage revenue properly, the channel manager needs to provide the hotelier with a clear view on channel performance for as many channels as the hotel is connected to. 
  • Pooled inventory: It’s vital that the channel manager operates on a pooled inventory model, to minimize overbooking and maximize the room sales. 
  • Real-time channel management: Manage room inventory, availability and rate plans across all channels through a simple user interface, in real-time.

Key Players: