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Rainmaker Continues Strong Growth Trajectory with Record Setting First Half of 2017

The Rainmaker Group ·5h
ALPHARETTA, GA - July 26, 2017 - The Rainmaker Group (Rainmaker), the hotel revenue and profit optimization cloud, experienced record setting growth through the first half of 2017, adding to its momentum in becoming the de facto standard in hotel revenue management software and services. Since January 2017 Rainmaker has expanded its reach in the number of properties using its platform, with a 41% increase in grouprev(r) and 21% increases in both guestrev(r) and revintel(r). Additionally, in this same time period, Rainmaker's revcaster(r) platform has activated nearly 500 new properties globally, surpassing 5,000 active installs for that product line."It has been a banner year so far for Rainmaker as a company and for our entire team," said Tammy Farley, Rainmaker president. "Our solutions continue to bring exceptional results to each hotelier and casino operator we work with, and our partnerships continue to grow beyond our projections. I attribute this continued success to our staunch dedication to developing the most advanced technologies and continuing to expand our platform, while remaining focused on supplying the best client support and problem solving for all of our current and future customers."Using advanced math and science-based algorithms, Rainmaker's integrated platform of solutions is designed to help hotels and casinos streamline their operational efficiencies, enhance revenue optimization processes, improve lead performance and generate greater demand from every segment of their business.For more information on Rainmaker's hotel revenue and profit optimization cloud, please visit www.letitrain.com.
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Provenance Hotels chooses IDeaS G3 RMS to advance revenue strategy in 2017

IDeaS ·7h
MINNEAPOLIS--IDeaS Revenue Solutions, the leading provider of revenue management software solutions and advisory services, is delighted to announce the expansion of its relationship with innovative hospitality management company, Provenance Hotels.With increasingly elevated revenue management opportunities achieving consistent market share growth of 3 percent - and a partnership with IDeaS that spans back to 2012 - it was an easy decision for Provenance Hotels to continue their long-standing relationship with IDeaS.With nine properties currently running on the flagship IDeaS Revenue Management System (RMS), Provenance's entire portfolio is slated to transition to IDeaS G3 Revenue Management System (IDeaS G3 RMS). "We are very excited to transition all of our hotels to IDeaS G3 RMS as part of Provenance Hotels' strategic investment to elevate our revenue management and distribution platforms. This is technology designed for the decade ahead, while our competitors are operating on systems designed for the previous two decades," says Leslie Lew, vice president of revenue strategy for Provenance Hotels."Provenance looks forward to the added benefit of IDeaS' analytics and business insights to improve revenue, market share and profitability to strengthen our competitive advantage as profit-focused hotel operators. As more and more data becomes available, we count on IDeaS' superior analytics to cut through the 'data noise' and give our revenue leaders actionable intelligence at their fingertips - focusing on improving results rather than drowning in data," Lew added.Provenance Hotels owns and operates unique independent hotels, each with their own hand-crafted story, with several hotels under active development. Prior to implementing their current system in 2012, Provenance Hotels executed revenue management strategies through highly manual processes in central reservation systems and property management systems. Upon implementing IDeaS' RMS, Provenance Hotels saw consistent share growth in all represented markets."Provenance is an innovative hotel company looking for a leading revenue management partner," explains Jane Stampe, managing director for IDeaS. "After carefully reviewing multiple providers, Provenance selected a partner with a demonstrated commitment to their needs as a growing organization, and is equally invested in their success as a company and as individual hotels." About Provenance HotelsFounded in 1985 and headquartered in Portland, Ore., Provenance Hotels specializes in financing, developing and operating award-winning independent hotels with distinct and deeply integrated art stories. The portfolio includes Hotel deLuxe, Hotel Lucia, Heathman Hotel and Sentinel in Portland, Ore., Hotel Max and Roosevelt Hotel in Seattle, Wash., Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Wash., the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in New Orleans, LA., and Hotel Preston in Nashville, Tenn. Provenance Hotels will open Dossier in Portland in August 2017, Hotel Theodore in Seattle in November 2017 and the Woodlark in Portland in spring 2018. The company can be found online at www.provenancehotels.com.About IDeaS With more than 1.5 million rooms priced daily on its advanced systems, IDeaS Revenue Solutions leads the industry with the latest revenue management software solutions and advisory services. Powered by SAS(r) and with nearly three decades of experience, IDeaS proudly supports more than 9,500 clients in 111 countries and is relentless about providing hoteliers with insightful ways to manage the data behind hotel pricing.IDeaS empowers clients to build and maintain revenue management cultures - from single entities to world-renowned estates - by focusing on a simple promise: Driving Better Revenue.IDeaS has the knowledge, expertise and maturity to build upon proven revenue management principles with next-generation analytics for more user-friendly, insightful and profitable revenue opportunities - not just for rooms, but across the entire hotel enterprise. For more information, visit www.ideas.com.
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Minor Hotels partner with CRM leader, Cendyn

Cendyntm 25 July 2017
Cendyn, the leading CRM and sales platform in the hospitality industry, has been selected as the partner of choice for Minor Hotels, a diverse spectrum of hotel chains and brands connected to the needs and desires of today's global travelers.Cendyn was selected by Minor Hotels to help drive loyalty and improve engagement with their guests to deliver the right communication, to the right guest, at the right time. Using unrivalled connectivity to third party vendors, reporting and analytics, Cendyn will provide all five brands in the Minor Hotels group with true intelligence of every guest, across all their hotels, no matter what channel they came through.Eric Cartwright, Director Loyalty & Partnerships, Minor Hotels, commented, "We are delighted to begin our relationship with Cendyn. As a CRM leader, Cendyn embodies what Minor Hotels feels to be a like-minded partner. While we grow beyond our current state, following our roadmap of expansion, we need to future-proof our customer platforms to allow us the ability to immediately recognize our valued, repeat guests as well as our first-time guests in a manner that augments our existing DISCOVERY loyalty program, by delivering insights on each individual so that we can drive loyalty through service delivery, analytics, and timely communication. As we expand, this platform will enable us to easily add functionality and service to our growing portfolio, without the need to rethink platforms."Cendyn will implement a guest intelligence solution utilizing data collected from multiple sources to provide a true, single profile of each guest. This visibility will enable every brand in the group to gain a clear understanding about the history and preferences of each guest in real time, regardless of how they booked."We are honored to be partnering with the prestigious Minor Hotels group. One thing that resonates with Minor Hotels is their drive to put the guest first in everything they do." said Charles Deyo, CEO & President of Cendyn. "Using Cendyn's fully integrated eInsight CRM solution will allow each of their five brands to harness their data to better understand their guests and improve how they engage and drive loyalty with them. Year on year, Cendyn's eInsight CRM customers continue to see increased brand loyalty from their guests which has led to significant return on investment for each of our clients. We look forward to seeing such growth with the Minor Hotels group."Using data to pave the way in how hoteliers communicate with their guests has revolutionized how they can learn more about their guests' interactions, drive direct bookings, maintain brand presence with their most valuable guests and stay competitive in their market. Cendyn's CRM and Loyalty Suite enables hoteliers to keep their guests at the forefront of what they do, and concentrate on providing exceptional, personalized customer service at all times.About Minor HotelsMinor Hotels is an international hotel owner, operator and investor currently with 154 hotels. As an international hotel group, we passionately explore new possibilities in hospitality with a diverse portfolio of properties designed intelligently to appeal to a variety of travellers, serving new passions as well as personal needs. Through our Anantara, AVANI, Elewana, Four Seasons, Marriott, Oaks, St. Regis and Tivoli properties, Minor Hotels operates in 24 countries across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Europe and South America. With dynamic plans to expand our existing brands and explore strategic acquisitions throughout opportunistic markets, Minor Hotels pursues a vision of a more passionate and interconnected world.
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Urban Creation Implements ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access and Locking Solutions at its New Stylish Student Accommodations

ASSA ABLOY Hospitality 25 July 2017
Stockholm - July 25, 2017 - Bristol, UK-based property developer, Urban Creation, has successfully implemented the ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access solution at two of its new student accommodation sites. The Manor House and Charlotte's Rise, historic buildings converted by Urban Creation into stylish student residences, are now offering secure and convenient access through ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access and VingCard Signature RFID door locks, allowing tenants to gain entry to their rooms and suites with a quick swipe of their mobile device.Urban Creation turned to ASSA ABLOY Hospitality's innovative technologies to create a unique and streamlined experience for its student residents, making it the first company in Bristol to launch the technology within a student accommodation. An added convenience for both residents and property managers is that check-in is immediate upon the start of each student's lease through the mobile access app, and the app automatically checks them out at an agreed-upon time at the end of the lease."We are always looking for clever new ways to improve the experience of tenants in our properties and we think this will help to make their stay a smooth one," said Jonathan Brecknell, director and owner of Urban Creation. "The move chimes with our ethos of creating homes that are both stylish and practical to live in, paying careful attention to all the little details that make a home a home - from clever storage space to logical layouts."ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access not only streamlines the check-in and check-out process, but also removes the risk of student residents losing physical room keys, which is a security risk and creates added costs for replacing keys and door locks. If the student's phone is lost or stolen, the key can easily be removed from the mobile app remotely to prevent unauthorized entry. Additionally, The VingCard Signature RFID door locks offer the two properties state-of-the-art security, through powerful and innovative anti-cloning features that prevent unauthorized access.For more information about ASSA ABLOY Hospitality and its comprehensive line of locking solutions, please visit www.assaabloyhospitality.com.
Article by Jos Schaap

Software as a Service? Better Focus on the Service!

StayNTouch Inc. 25 July 2017
According to Gartner, the worldwide market for public cloud services will be worth $204B in 2016. Of this $204B in revenue, SaaS will make up for 20.3% of the addressable public cloud services market.Applications are not only being delivered via SaaS, but they are also focusing heavily on mobile as the mobile landscape becomes increasingly necessary to run business efficiently and effectively. In the hotel industry, the introduction of a SaaS solutions combined with mobile usability is creating a new world of customer interaction and relationship building. There are really no limits to how the combination of SaaS and mobile will continue to embed itself into the hotel and travel industry.The service aspect of SaaS can be divided into several sub-services. These sub-services include distribution of the product, pricing of the product, management of the product and finally support of the product.Distributing a SaaS solution via the Internet has no physical need for indirect distribution because it is not "physically" distributed and it can be deployed almost instantaneously. In the hotel industry, the hotelier will still require multiple systems to manage their business, but as more and more solutions providers begin delivering their solution via SaaS, there will be less of a requirement for intermediaries and partners.The price models associated with a SaaS deployment are also service-oriented. No longer are there significant up-front CAPEX expenditures required to implement a primary or secondary system that will help you manage your hotel more effectively. SaaS providers generally price the solution via a subscription fee model that is charged via a monthly fee or even at times based upon occupancy. This enables the hotelier to budget effectively for expenses that in the past would have disrupted their yearly budget allocation taking monies away from guest facing priorities and having to sound large amounts of money on invisible upgrades. Most SaaS providers also work with the hotel in order to come up with the best pricing model that works for both parties involved.The management of a SaaS solution is virtually unseen by the hotelier. The maintenance of the platform along with upgrades are implemented instantaneously and isn't something that must be dealt with on property. Solutions that are premise-based create an operations headache. Whenever an upgrade or fix is required, the system has to be shut down in order to install the upgrade - which inevitably has an impact on operations. This is no longer the case with SaaS.In concert with the management of a SaaS solution is the support of the software. There is a myriad of backend dashboards that a SaaS provider has at their disposal which enables them to track system performance and even before a glitch is experienced with the system that would impact a hotel's operations. Problems can be anticipated and proactively addressed via the support and monitoring team. Also, when there is an issue that requires direct support, no support representative no longer have to "tunnel into your system" to see what is happening because with SaaS they are right there with you, investigating the problem and rectifying it ASAP.All of these elements are truly service oriented, but the delivery of a SaaS solution adds one more element of service that sometimes goes unnoticed. SaaS systems drive opportunities for higher levels of guest engagement. Employees don't have to be tied to the front desk or within other areas of the hotel because the SaaS solution can be available using most any type of mobile device. With cloud-based access, the executive team can keep an eye on operations or make changes when they are off-property. This would never have been possible just five years ago. Software as a Service is gaining momentum month to month, year to year and it will continue to do so. Most hoteliers are ready for a shift, as they're frustrated by the traditional cycle of buying a software license, paying for a maintenance contract, and then having to go through time-consuming and expensive upgrades. Many hoteliers believe they should have more control over the relationship with their technology provider and SaaS gives that to them. The future is extremely bright for SaaS companies and for those hotels that choose to move towards SaaS implementations.
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HotelTap Workplace Cloud Communication Tool Now Available as Mobile App

HotelTap 25 July 2017
Alameda, Calif. -- Today owners and operators of limited-service hotels with 50+ rooms are communicating with staff and responding to guest requests faster and easier than ever before now that the HotelTap "digital log book in the cloud" is available as a Mobile App for Apple and Android devices, as well as Amazon tablets. HotelTap replaces notebooks, paper tickets, sticky notes, internal emails, spreadsheets, text messages and radios for recording and responding to guest requests, performing and tracking maintenance tasks, and resolving customer complaints. The new HotelTap mobile app is designed to share information via push notification between those who "need to know," from department to department, employee to manager, and manager to owner."Customers were asking for better functionality and ease of use on smaller devices like cell phones and tablets vs. the desktop or web link to access HotelTap," said Sandip Jariwala, HotelTap founder. "To support that experience, developing a native language for mobile devices was the only way to go. Now that we are offering the HotelTap Mobile App, hotel staff are interacting with the system more efficiently than ever before. It's saving considerable time for staff conducting room inspections, and mobile push notifications is proving to be the fastest way to receive requests and share them with appropriate staff or departments. Even bilingual employees are finding the HotelTap mobile app to be the easiest way to communicate."Hoteliers are using the HotelTap Mobile App for:Pushing mobile notifications to employeesSetting tasks and marking them completeResolving complaintsManaging Waitlists, Lost & Found and Group ReservationsCreating recurring checklists for shifts, inspections and preventive maintenanceSearching messages or information with tags and wordsRetrieving equipment records to make informed expense decisionsAttaching documents, photos and videos to notes and tasksStoring data and notificationsFiling Daily Activity Reports to keep a paper trail of communicationsReceiving data security with daily backupsMobile App Streamlining Management / Maintenance TasksThe Hawthorn Suites By Wyndham - Oakland/Alameda was the first property to go live with HotelTap when it launched in 2015. It also was the first hotel to test the Mobile App. Selma Becirovic, assistant general manager, said the new format is dramatically helping her to be more efficient."I've always been a huge fan of HotelTap, and now that it's available as a Mobile App, I love it even more," Becirovic said. "Before, I would receive text messages with employee or guest requests and have to enter my responses into the digital log book. That was fine, because any digital process is better than a manual one. Now that we are using push notifications within the app, my job has been made that much easier. When a push notification comes in, I can immediately see the posting, rather than having to click on a link that would take me to the system where I would select a message to retrieve it. Now, with just one click, I can reply to whomever needs my help. The HotelTap Mobile App keeps me connected with everyone and everything that is happening at my hotel."Migrating from the desktop version of HotelTap to the Mobile App format is easy. Once a user logs in, everything functions as it had before - just better. And, because HotelTap is available to hotels in a subscription model, there is no additional cost to operate the system via the Mobile App vs the desktop.Victor Gonzalez, shift manager responsible for preventive maintenance at the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham - Oakland/Alameda, said he appreciates the HotelTap Mobile App for its "convenience.""Being able to receive push notifications from anywhere on property through the HotelTap Mobile App is such a huge time saver," Gonzalez said. "Rather than having to check in with the front desk to see what needs done, I can be anywhere on the premises. When a work order comes in - whether it's a push notification to fix a leaky faucet or address a problem with a TV - I can respond immediately. Better yet, updates happen in real time. Rather than waiting to log back in to see if tasks are complete, I can see everything in real time. The HotelTap Mobile App consolidates everything we need in one convenient, digital format. Gone are the days of walkie talkies and sticky notes; all you need today to communicate effectively and manage maintenance efficiently is the HotelTap Mobile App."Schedule a DemoHotelTap is available for one low annual fee, based on a hotel's size. The system provides 24/7 security, as all property data is securely stored on HotelTap's cloud servers with daily backups. Round-the-clock LIVE technical support also is provided. To schedule a demo of the HotelTap Mobile App, click here. For more information on HotelTap, visitwww.HotelTap.com or call (844) 381-7221.
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trivago now provides hoteliers with access to its travel demand data and over 5 billion room rates

trivago 25 July 2017
Dusseldorf, Germany -- trivago has now made over 5 billion room rates visible to hoteliers around the world. With its new Rate Insights feature, trivago grants hoteliers access to an unbiased and comprehensive set of data on traveler demand and competitor prices, enabling them to compare room rates from over 250 booking sites as well as official hotel websites on a single dashboard. Through Rate Insights, which is part of the complete metasearch marketing solution trivago Hotel Manager PRO, trivago is empowering hoteliers to establish competitive pricing strategies.trivago Business Intelligence data reveals that independent hotels visible on trivago have on average 8,000 rates online a year. Johannes Thomas, Chief Revenue Officer and Managing Director at trivago, said: "We understood how difficult it is for hoteliers to find, monitor, and analyze competitor room rates across hundreds of booking sites." He added: "We were quick to realize that the price comparison data we provide to travelers is equally valuable for hoteliers. Therefore, we created a rate shopper that gives hoteliers easy and actionable access to this data, as well as data on traveler search volume that reveals fluctuations in demand. No other rate shopper has this combination of data in this amount and with this granularity."Instead of gathering data from just a few booking sites, Rate Insights aggregates rates from over 250 websites and makes it easy for hoteliers to compare them by room type and other variables. It also enables hoteliers to respond quickly to changes in the market and anticipate what upcoming local events can be leveraged to boost RevPAR. Hoteliers overcome the time-consuming challenge of monitoring the market, their competitors' prices, and their own. They know when and by how much to adjust their direct rates and all those listed with OTA partners to stay competitive online."With the Rate Insights feature we're able to see our competitors' prices and position ourselves in the market. And the statistics are beneficial when there are sudden changes in the market and we need to adapt accordingly." Maximilian Kaufmann, Managing Director, Hotel Alte Krone, Kleinwalsertal, AustriaUtilizing data is becoming more and more crucial in making decisions that will lay the foundation for future success. By displaying its rate and traveler demand data on a single dashboard with simple analytics, trivago has made it easier for hoteliers to access, understand, and act on data to increase their competitiveness online.For more information: http://hotelmanager-blog.trivago.com/en-us/rate-insightsAbout trivago Hotel Manager & Rate Insightstrivago is reinventing the way hoteliers connect with travelers online - via trivago Hotel Manager. With 1.4 billion visits per year to 55 localized websites available in 33 languages, trivago is a leading hotel metasearch for travelers around the world. As of June 30, 2017, there are already over 300,000 hoteliers across the globe using the metasearch marketing platform to build a unique hotel profile so they can boost their ranking on trivago and drive direct bookings on their own website. trivago Hotel Manager currently operates in ten languages across 21 localized platforms. Rate Insights is available with trivago Hotel Manager PRO, the full solution that provides hoteliers with additional analytics and promotional tools to help them be more competitive online and stand out in search results.To find out more, visit www.trivago.com/hotelmanager/proAbout trivagoFounded in 2005 and headquartered in Dusseldorf, Germany, trivago is a global hotel search platform focused on reshaping the way travelers search for and compare hotels. trivago's mission is to "be the traveler's first and independent source of information for finding the ideal hotel at the lowest rate." As of September 30, 2016, trivago's global hotel search platform offered access to approximately 1.3 million hotels in over 190 countries. trivago's platform can be accessed globally via 55 localized websites and apps in 33 languages.
Article by Maeve Walls

The Missing Link in Book Direct Strategies: the Front Desk

Net Affinity 25 July 2017
Hoteliers have been putting huge amounts of efforts into building solid book direct strategies. However, your fantastic strategy to align your goals for marketing & revenue might be missing a crucial element. Beyond ensuing that both departments communicate well, there's another link missing for a lot of properties: the full inclusion of your front desk staff in the goals and strategy.More and more responsibility has been given to front desk teams, and tasks have increased and diversified. However, how well are you communicating the purpose and importance of tasks designed to improve your revenue strategy?These tasks include:Establishing the purpose for guest visitIdentifying a return guestEncouraging an OTA booker to book directly next timeReservations out of hoursUp-selling on arrivalThese are big ticket items. However, too often, little explanation is given as to why these items are so important to the hotel's long term strategy. Additionally, many hotels don't seem to incentivise front desk teams to excel, or encourage healthy competition for the sales items.Taking the time to fully train your front desk staff and include them in your property's major goals will give you huge returns over time.Let's take a look at these tasks and why they're so important, one by one:Purpose of VisitsHow much time does marketing spend laboring over the market segmentation of guests? So much of a hotel's marketing spend and strategy is centered around the current market segmentation for hotel guests, and the areas where they want to grow.However, the simple phrase "if you put rubbish in, you get rubbish out" is core here. If the purpose of the visit is not being recorded accurately at reception, then your hotel's segmentation process is flawed at best.Identifying a Return GuestYour front desk staff are the members of your team best placed to physically recognise a return guest and possibly spot whether or not a duplicate profile has been created for this guest.It's still a big ask on a busy reception desk, or at a larger property. To make sure you have an accurate record, reservations staff must be fully aware of why measuring returning guest numbers is so key to your revenue strategy. They must also be motivated.Encouraging Guests to Book Direct Next TimeEncouraging guests to book direct on their next stay is one part of an overall strategy. However, does your front of house team understand where they fit in?Your front desk team are reinforcing a message about the merits and benefits of booking directly with the hotel. This will hopefully already have been clearly featured on the hotel website and featured in the in-room literature.The front desk team become the face of this message in your hotel.The front desk team are the first voice or face to face encounter the booker will have with your hotel. The way guests are treated on calls, during check in and over the course of there is hugely important. It is the measure of whether the perception put forth by the hotel online then lives up to the reality.Reservations & Up-sellingBecoming a charming sales person, both on the phone and in person, requires a whole different skillset. Charming and encouraging a guest to make a booking or to enhance their stay in some way takes both talent and training. Sales skills need proper training, not just a script to use.Money shouldn't take precedence over the motivation to provide a great guest experience. However, if teams aren't incentivised to close sales, what's in it for them? They already have a full task list of work to fill their day. Incentivising here also helps foster healthy competition, some banter and will help the team become more of a team.Train, Include, Value and RewardIt cannot be stressed enough how important it is to properly train front desk teams. They must know how to use the various systems and handle the standard items of check in and check out, balancing accounts, and more. Here is a thorough list of front desk skills.The technical aspects aren't the most important part of the job, though. The value of committing meaningful time to upskill team members fully in sales skills, customer service and the bigger picture of your hotel's strategy is inestimable.Make sure your hotel's overall goals are specific and valuable. As Todd Cline writes, "There's no doubting the value of goals. Without them, it is too easy to become situation-oriented, and allow the environment to dictate responses instead of strategy. However, the key is to limit the number of goals. Successful execution relies on a disciplined approach that focuses on just a few critical principles." What are your hotel's critical principles?Your front desk teams must be included and valued for their core role in the end success of the actual guest experience. The guest experience is the result of the work marketing and revenue have completed to deliver the guest to the website and completing their booking. Make sure it's worth it.
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Back to the Futurecasting

IDeaS Blog 25 July 2017
“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” Those famous words were spoken by a confident Doc Brown as his time-travelling DeLorean careened into the future. Doc and Marty McFly were quite the dynamic duo and, thanks to some seriously cool inventions and a great deal of intuition, these two always achieved their desired outcome in the end.

Phocuswright Battleground: 16 of Travel's Most Innovative Companies Compete in One-Day Event

Phocuswright 25 July 2017
Phocuswright Innovation PlatformBattleground: The AmericasSeptember 12, 2017The Plug and Play CenterSunnyvale, CASunnyvale, CA -- Phocuswright has created a stand-alone Battleground event. Debuting September 12 at the Plug and Play Tech Center, the world's largest startup accelerator, 16 finalists will compete for a chance to take the stage at the annual Phocuswright Conference in November.Battleground will feature the most innovative early-stage travel startups from North, Central and South America. This one-day event is dedicated to bringing promising travel innovators into the limelight to demonstrate fresh ideas in front of potential investors and partners.Attendees will have an unprecedented chance to see the industry's youngest innovators live for an entry fee of just $199."We will showcase for our first-time attendees the next market-changing innovations, fresh ideas, new partners and investment opportunities," said Simon Lehmann, Phocuswright President. "With this expansion we give more members of our industry a chance to see the future on stage and get excited about the amazing possibilities for the future of the travel industry."The event will feature a keynote from Sam Shank, CEO & Co-Founder of HotelTonight, a panel conversation state of innovation and investment in travel, and a Phocuswright research presentation of insights from the upcoming The State of Startups 2005-2017 report series.During the Battleground, participants have six minutes each to demonstrate their innovations to a panel of sometimes ruthless and uncensored judges. The top two companies will move on to present at Summit during The Phocuswright Conference among 1,800 of the most influential leaders in travel.Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley is a venture fund, innovation platform, startup accelerator, and corporate innovation consultancy.For those interested in applying, applications close on July 31 - and this year, there is no fee to apply or demonstrate. Eligible applicants will be part of a startup company 4 years or younger, based in North America, Central America or South America, have $2M or less in funding and pass a rigorous Phocuswright screening.Attendee registration is also open.

HFTP and OpenTravel - Announce Newest Partnership in Systems Standards Horizon

HFTP 25 July 2017
The nonprofit groups, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP(r)) and Open Travel Alliance (OpenTravel) have announced a partnership to accelerate the support of travel industry distribution standards, as well as the creation and adoption of hospitality technology standards across the entire spectrum of the global consumer travel experience. Of top priority to both organizations are mobile standards for use within the industry, which are first on the work list.To facilitate the intended projects, OpenTravel will co-locate its corporate office with HFTP Global headquarters in Austin, Texas, USA, starting in August 2017. The move will enable the organizations to combine resources to help develop standards that ease communications between disparate technology systems, enabling stakeholders to conduct business more efficiently.More than 25 years ago, HFTP was given a mandate by its members to lead in establishing information processing practices and standards explains Frank Wolfe, CEO for HFTP. He said, "HFTP represents stakeholders from the cruise line to the casino, fairway to foodservice, the motel to the midway, and the resort to recreation, across the globe. OpenTravel also represents every one of these verticals, and by partnering on this objective, both of our organizations will better serve our stakeholders."Individually, the two organizations represent stakeholders that do not fully overlap; but combined, there are no other groups that encompass this broad horizontal reach. OpenTravel represents the enterprise and HFTP represents individual professionals, together they represent the full consumer experience."OpenTravel's 1.0 XML Messaging Standards are paramount among the travel standards and our new 2.0 Object Model will positively impact the consumer experience for years to come," said Mike Tinkey, CEO for OpenTravel. "OpenTravel continues to enable the future for the connected consumer end to end with their business and leisure travel across all aspects of travel including, but not limited to, airlines, lodging of all types, cruise lines, car rental firms, railways, ground transportation, leisure suppliers, solutions providers, service providers, travel agencies, tour operators, technology companies and distributors, and events of all types. HFTP's resources will allow us to accelerate standards awareness, adoption and utilization."Both HFTP and OpenTravel are in the process of planning upcoming events in Orlando, Florida USA. Visit the organizations' respective websites for the latest updates at www.opentravel.org and www.hftp.org.About OpenTravelOpenTravel is a global not-for-profit trade association founded in 1999 by travel companies across all travel verticals, with a primary focus on the creation of electronic message structures to facilitate communication between disparate systems in the travel industry. OpenTravel is the source of the most adopted cross industry technology standards that enable business and leisure solutions driven by the travel industry. For more information on OpenTravel membership, please email: info@opentravel.org.About HFTPHospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP(r)) established in 1952, is an international, nonprofit association, headquartered in Austin, Texas, USA, with offices in Hong Kong, United Kingdom and the Netherlands. HFTP is recognized as the spokes group for the finance and technology segments of the hospitality industry with members and stakeholders spanning across the globe. HFTP uniquely understands the industry's pressing issues and assists its stakeholders in finding solutions to their challenges more efficiently than any organization. It does this via its expert networks, research, certification programs, information resources and conferences/events such as HITEC. HFTP also owns the world's only hospitality-specific search engine, PineappleSearch.com. For more information about HFTP, email membership@hftp.org or download the HFTP/HITEC media kit via the HFTP website. Read industry updates on the suite of HFTP hospitality news sites: HITEC Bytes, Club Bytes, Finance Bytes and HFTP News.
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New Luxury Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Installs the InvoTech RFID Uniform System

InvoTech 25 July 2017
LOS ANGELES, CA -- InvoTech Systems, Inc., a solutions provider for hotels, casinos, and resorts worldwide, announced The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah implemented its RFID Uniform System to manage uniforms for 600+ person staff. InvoTech has implemented inventory management systems for hundreds of international hotel, casinos, and resorts worldwide. Please click here for more information on InvoTech's uniform, linen, and laundry systems for efficient operations.InvoTech has several Uniform System installations in the Middle-East, but this is the first in Saudi Arabia. The InvoTech Uniform System is used in more than 35 Ritz-Carlton hotels worldwide.The RFID technology allows for multiple uniforms to be processed simultaneously and automatically. The InvoTech Uniform System establishes a perpetual uniform inventory and has extensive reporting capabilities to determine and forecast appropriate uniform purchases. The system manages employee uniform assignments and tracks laundry activity without manually sorting and hand-counting. This provides significant cost saving benefits by eliminating losses, reducing purchases, and lowering laundry bills."The InvoTech on-site installation services were very professional and knowledgeable. The training was on-point and clear. During the implementation and installation, the InvoTech installer made sure that that our staff were very comfortable with the daily processes and the managers understood the reports and benefits.", said Sudhir Gogeneni, Assistant Director of Rooms "The luxury hotel is true to every sense of the word, and the uniforms reflect the same standards. Monitoring the upkeep of the uniforms will ensure that reflection stays true to what The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah is trying to achieve, which is one of the many benefits our Uniform System provides.", said Oswald Lares, InvoTech Systems, Director of Sales & Marketing.InvoTech's clients include Madison Square Garden, Universal Studios Hollywood and Florida, MGM Resorts International, The Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott, Hilton Hotels, Loews Hotels, Mandarin Oriental, and the Empire State Building. International clients include LEGOLAND Dubai and Japan, Venetian Macau; MGM Macau; MGM Cotai; Park Hyatt Sydney, Australia; Perth Arena, Australia; Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, Korea; Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore; Systematic Laundry, Singapore; Genting Malaysia; and Palace Resorts and Laundry, Mexico.About The Ritz-Carlton, JeddahThe Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah boasts striking architecture and elegantly designed spaces. InvoTech's UHF-RFID Uniform System will manage The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah inventory for its 600+ employees operating in this 224-room luxury hotel with two restaurants, spa, 20 meeting spaces, conference facilities, press room, ballrooms, and a full array of other amenities.Located along the Al Hamra Corniche and overlooking the Red Sea, the palatial hotel celebrates classical design with Arabic accents featuring Royal Suites that blend the essence of glamour, Saudi heritage and provoke a feeling of Royalty. The hotel experience also offers exceptional dining venues that combine authenticity with regal ambience. As befitting a hotel of such imperial stature, guests are offered a selection of gourmet dining venues, including Reyhana, the signature all-day dining buffet restaurant featuring international favorites; and Karamel lobby lounge for leisurely breakfast, lunch or the signature afternoon tea. For more information on The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah, please visit www.ritzcarlton.com/jeddah
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Article by Jogbojogbo Abdulrahman

On Chatbots and the Hospitality Industry

Hotels.ng 25 July 2017
In the hospitality industry, one which is built around making the customer alpha, communication and information transactions must be smart, swift, insightful and analysable. Chatbots are hence the perfect tool for this type of communication and service provision. They live in messaging apps where today's internet user spends a significant portion of his time, they are also cheap in the long run and can provide deep insights into customer preferences that can greatly improve offerings for the the customer, the alpha.In 2017, the key players are still trying to figure out how to build the perfect chatbot - smart, capable of understanding complex semantics, and conversing with the customer as an experienced service rep would. Today's chatbots, limited as they are by the available underlying technology have been deployed by several players in the hospitality industry - flight providers, hotels and more.Hotels.ng, a Nigerian OTA looks at existing and projected applications of chatbots and attempts to estimate the net effect that they might have on the entire industry in years to come.Bookings and reservationsBrands that require that bookings be made - flights, hotels, tour guides and more are already rolling out functional chatbots. Using these bots is convenient, simple and gives an air of chatting with a friend. Hipmunk recently upgraded their chatbot to allow for group planning and chats on their Facebook Messanger based platform. It's easy to see how this can be adopted for OTAs providing group tours.Expedia and Kayak are some other early adopters of chatbots for the purpose of making reservations.Learn user preferencesBy silently sitting in the background, and potentially collecting information such as correlation between geolocation and time versus brand-specific actions carried out, smart deductions can be made as to the user's behavioural tendencies and preferences. Also, past responses, questions and queries that the customer made can be automatically processed to give actionable insights into the customer. Brands can as a result offer personalised and customised services to the customer and increase the chances of delighting him and spending less to acquire each dollar from him than they normally would.Customers can also be retargeted in the future with higher precisions. Brands are able to engineer a greater correlation between the time of the customer's need, and the content and timing of chats sent with a marketing intent.Upselling to clientsWith chatbots, brands can more easily induce customers to make more expensive purchases, upgrades, and add-ons thereby increasing the chances of squeezing more value out of the client without appearing over enthusiastic. Products and services can be upsold or cross-sold through casual suggestions to the client.Top-of-mind awareness (TOMA)The modern day internet user spends more time on messaging apps than they do on social media. In the fight for users' eyeballs, chatbots which mostly live in messaging apps therefore provide very great opportunities for subtle top-of-mind awareness campaigns. TOMA is defined as awareness campaigns aimed at making a brand the first a customer thinks of when asked an unprompted question about a brand's category.Cost effective customer supportEventually, AI driven chatbots become smarter through learning. When they become sufficiently smart and are able to handle complex queries, brands spend less on the supervision of chats, customer support, and can dedicate saved funds into other segments of the brand.Challenges & ControversiesAs with most novel technologies, chatbots too have controversies and challenges tied to their successful implementation. A few pressing ones are discussed below:Threat to existing jobs: As in all forms of automation, job shifts occur and jobs designing and managing the automation always displace the jobs that previously ran the processes. Markets will always demand for more reliable, cost effective, and faster processes making these threats to jobs an occurrence that can be managed but not eliminated.Sharecropping: To tap into what makes chatbots powerful for brands - large audiences, they have to be sharecropped on platforms that host the most people thereby expanding the potential reach and influence of the brand. Facebook, Wechat, and Amazon Echo are a few popular platforms that host numerous chatbots. They are popular because people want to interact with brands on platforms where they already interact with friends. Understandably, this hands over reins of control to the messaging and voice AI giants, but it's a reasonable compromise that should be made.-Privacy concerns: Chatbots have the potential to offer so much personalised information and services that they might come off as intrusive. Care must therefore be made while designing them to handle information transactions at levels of personalisation that are at par with the target audience's temperament toward AI. Helpful can easily become creepy.-High cost of build: Chatbots can be expensive to build. In the long run however, they are almost always smart investments as they bring down operational costs, open up new opportunities for brands and help generate more revenue.-Lack of empathy: Chatbots can come off as stiff or robotic. While this is not a problem for many, a few people are put off by it. Most primitive chatbots work like a search engine that search for some keywords that then trigger predetermined responses. AI driven chatbots are however more capable of handling more complex queries and conversing as a human would.ConclusionChatbots are simple, ubiquitous, and highly effective. AI driven chatbots also become better and smarter with use so while the wide adoption by hospitality brands will create job shifts, it will also create new opportunities that will allow for better personalisation of experiences for the customer.In one line, the hospitality industry will be benefit greatly from the adoption of chatbots.

The next era of hotel distribution: Connecting supply and demand in the moments that matter

By Javier Delgado Muerza
Because a hotel's inventory is perishable, the core of the hospitality business, according to Google's Javier Delgado Muerza, is to manage occupancy in such a way that revenue is optimized. To do this effectively, you've got to connect with travelers in a relevant way in every moment that matters, he says.
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10 data science insights from the Trainline

eyefortravel.com·Requires Registration 25 July 2017
The discipline of data science is not for the fainthearted but at Trainline, an innovative, independent digital rail platform for rail travel, it’s at the heart of everything As head of data science at Trainline, Fergus Weldon, who will be speaking at EyeforTravel’s Smart Travel Data Summit 2017, is at the coalface of innovation. In an exclusive interview he shares ten things he knows about data science today.
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5 Tech Nightmares in Hospitality Management (and How to Prevent Them!)

Glion Blog 25 July 2017
Why All Hospitality Management Professionals & Businesses are Vulnerable… In the realm of hospitality, customer satisfaction and fidelity are vital and technology can either nourish or damage that relationship. It’s probably one of the most vulnerable industries for tech fiascoes for three main reasons:
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Why travel brands need to up their chatbot game

eyefortravel.com·Requires Registration 24 July 2017
In a final taster from EyeforTravel’s latest white paper on chatbots we find that travel brands still have work to do Chatbots are a potential route to billions of consumers but travel brands are failing to fully take advantage of their possibilities, according to a recent report from EyeforTravel and Travelaer titled Are Bots Worth the Bother?
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How Spas are Using Technology to Elevate Guest Service

SMS Blog 21 July 2017
There is both an art and a science to providing guest service, particularly for hotel and resort spas where guests have high expectations. While remaining focused on classic guest service, many spas are deploying technology to assist them in executing their high-touch service efforts. As the dominant generation shifts away from the Baby Boomers towards Millennials, embracing technology to support guest service is one way that spas can be relevant and welcoming.

Here's Why You Should Not Miss the Skift Global Forum in NYC

Hospitality Net 21 July 2017
The Skift Global Forum in NYC is one of the most anticipated events of the year for travel and hospitality professionals and time is running out for those who want to plan a business trip to attend.With a stellar roster of speakers, the conference promises to bring great value to the attendees. Personalities like Stephen Kaufer (CEO TripAdvisor), Edward H. Bastian (CEO Delta Airlines), Dara Khosrowshahi (CEO Expedia), Glenn Fogel (CEO The Priceline Group), and Richard D. Fain (CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.) among several others will take the stage to deliver what the audience expects to be the "TED Talks of travel.""Take a day or two out, come, sit back, and listen, and we will promise you the best creative brainfood for the year," wrote Skift's CEO and Founder Rafat Ali in an article introducing the Skift Global Forum 2016. You can expect this promise to hold for the fourth edition of the conference in 2017 too.The speakers are the main reason for you to plan a trip to New York City this September. The early bird tickets already sold out, and the organizers expect more than 1000 travel professionals from across all industry sectors to attend the Skift Global Forum 2017. The venue chosen for the event is the Frederick P. Rose Hall at the Jazz at Lincoln Center performing arts complex.The conference is just three months away, and a full access ticket costs $ 3495. Thanks to a partnership between Skift, HospitalityNet, Travel Daily USA, Travel+SocialGood, Priority Pass, and Wanderful you now have a chance to attend the forum for free if you enter this giveaway. If you are lucky you will win a round-trip flight to New York City, a two-night stay at The Empire Hotel, a Skift Global Forum Priority Pass Standard Membership ticket, and four airport lounge visits.Hsyndicate.org CEO and Founder Henri Roelings encourages you to enter the giveaway for a chance to meet in person: "Make sure to grab your chance to win the ultimate Skift Global Forum package... and maybe we will meet in NYC in September 26-27."ENTER TO WINThe Skift Global Forum is "designed to inspire travel professionals about the business and creative potential of the world's largest industry," according to its organizers. More than a conference, it is an event where you can meet like-minded professionals, learn about the latest industry trends and forecasts, and even form new partnerships.

Strength in Global Economy Means Higher Travel Pricing in 2018

GBTA 21 July 2017
BOSTON -- According to the 2018 Global Travel Forecast, travel prices are expected to rise sharply in the coming year, reaching nearly 4 percent increases in some sectors. Released today, the fourth annual forecast, by the GBTA Foundation in partnership with Carlson Wagonlit Travel, and with the support of the Carlson Family Foundation, shows global airfares are expected to rise 3.5 percent in 2018; hotel prices are expected to be 3.7 percent higher; and ground transportation such as taxis, trains and buses are expected to rise only 0.6 percent - significantly less than the 3 percent inflation forecast for 2018. "Geopolitical risks, uncertainties in emerging markets and ever-changing political environments in Europe and the United States mean today's travel professionals have more than ever to take into account when building their travel programs," said Jeanne Liu, GBTA Foundation vice president of research. "The most successful programs will have to keep a watchful eye on both geopolitical risks and a rapidly-changing supplier landscape as they reevaluate strategy often and adapt as necessary." "The higher pricing is a reflection of the stronger economy and growing demand," said Kurt Ekert, president and CEO, Carlson Wagonlit Travel. "The global numbers from this forecast should be considered strong leading indicators of what 2018 will mean for global businesses, as we anticipate higher spending." 2018 Air Projections The rise in global airfares comes as crude oil prices rise, in spite of airlines adding an expected 6 percent capacity in 2018. Complicating airline pricing is increased segmentation of basic fares among large carriers, as travelers now have the option of choosing a basic economy, restricted fare versus various upgraded fares, with specific service options and pricing varying by airline. Asia Pacific expects to see a 2.8 percent rise in 2018 pricing with domestic demand increasing, particularly in China and India. However, as many of the economies in Asia strengthen, weaknesses in infrastructure - and airports in particular - are increasingly becoming apparent.Across EMEA, air travel is anticipated to continue growing, with prices rising a whopping 7.1 percent across Eastern Europe and 5.5 percent in Western Europe. However, Middle East and African countries only expect a 3 percent increase as they face ongoing security threats and an oil industry that is still in recovery. Currency fluctuations in Europe may further impact airfares in 2018. Given limited competition and the upcoming summer 2018 World Cup Soccer tournament in Russia, Eastern Europe may again have the most significant price increases in the region.Across Latin America and the Caribbean, prices are expected to change little in 2018 - up only 0.3 percent. Airlines have cautiously added capacity back into the market. Broader analysis of South America shows a 20 percent increase in scheduled flights by the end of 2019. Low cost carriers are well positioned for this area given the low penetration in the region. And, new, more efficient aircraft coming into in operation will lower operating costs in 2018.North America will see prices rise by a modest 2.3 percent, according to our projections. Citing the potential for stronger U.S. travel restrictions, flights to the United States have already been reduced accordingly. Canadian airlines are expected to aggressively compete given new market entrants and capacity growth of about 11 percent in 2017 and 12 percent in 2018. With the region's air travel market nearly flat year-over-year in early 2017, competition is fierce between carriers who now compete on branded fares rather than on bundled fares or by carrier type. 2018 Hotel Projections Globally, the 3.7 percent average increase in hotel prices masks what is actually happening on a regional level. Europe is expected to post strong increases, while other regions are barely keeping up with inflation. Additionally, prices are expected to fall in Latin America and the Caribbean. We expect the impact of the 2017 mergers will be felt during the 2018 RFP season.Suppliers are progressively moving corporate buyers away from fixed, negotiated hotel rates and toward dynamic rate pricing. There is also a global trend towards "smarter" hotels, with hotels investing in beacon technologies, messaging, in-room entertainment and more. Increasingly tech-savvy guests will use apps to check in and out, unlock their hotel room door, operate the television remotely and control room temperature. Across Asia Pacific, hotel prices are likely to rise 3.5 percent - with a large discrepancy as Japanese prices are expected to fall 4.1 percent, but New Zealand is set to rise a full 9.8 percent. Strong economies means demand is increasing in the APAC region. Buyers should anticipate a more challenging discussion with newly merged hotel groups, especially in high-volume markets such as Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore.Across EMEA, hotel prices are likely to rise - 6.6 percent in Eastern Europe, 6.3 percent in Western Europe, but only a modest 0.6 percent in the Middle East and Africa. Norway is expected to lead with increases of 14 percent expected for 2018, while Russian hotel prices will rise 11.9 percent thanks to increased demand from hosting the 2018 Summer World Cup.Revenue per available room growth is expected for most major cities across Europe in 2018, with Porto and Budapest leading the pack. With its halt on hotel construction, Barcelona may join the top five cities for occupancy rates, while Amsterdam has implemented a "hotel stop" policy to limit new hotel development. Dublin is increasing supply through 2020. There has been a large increase in upscale hotel transactions in the United Arab Emirates as oil prices start rising again. Use of sharing economy players will remain limited as governments tighten control.Within Latin America, hotel prices are expected to fall 1.2 percent, with steep declines in Brazil (down 8.7 percent) and Argentina (down 2.3 percent). However, Peru (7.7 percent) and Chile (5.5 percent) are expected to see increases. Buyers may see efficiencies in 2018 as bigger brands purchase independents and upgrade systems. Capacity is being added throughout the region with an estimated 449,500 new hotel rooms being constructed between late 2016 and 2025 - a huge 57 percent increase in supply. Sharing economy accommodations are still not very popular for corporate travel in Latin America, given structural security concerns.North American hoteliers may be banking on economic growth as demand has leveled off since mid-summer 2016 - but supply is expected to continue growing steadily through 2018. With international travel projected to grow 4 percent in 2017 and 2018, U.S. hotel growth is expected to be concentrated primarily along with the West Coast and in Washington D.C. In Canada, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are expected to maintain good pricing power amid a weak Canadian dollar. 2018 Ground Transportation Projections Ground transportation pricing is expected to rise only 0.6 percent in 2018 (but 5.5 percent by 2022). Industry experts predict record new car sales over the next five years, pushing up per unit fleet costs, while used car pricing is expected to fall 50 percent, hurting residual value for used rental cars and making current rental car pricing unsustainable. Market-specific regulations for curbing emissions, and rising oil prices have suppliers' already increasing availability of "green" rental cars. Sharing economy players such as Uber and Lyft are expected to continue double-digit growth upwards of 10 percent in 2018, before settling down into single-digit growth for 2019. Their growth is under threat by costly regulation and government bans. Continued uncertainty in mining, and a cautious recovery in the oil and gas industry will result in flat rates for 2018 in Asia Pacific. Business continues to grow in China as most major car rental and sharing economy suppliers have a presence. Sharing economy suppliers Didi Chuxing in China, Ola in India and Grab in Southeast Asia have all achieved economies of scale that make them key competitors to more traditional car rentals firms and taxis. Meanwhile, Malaysia and Singapore are pushing ahead with a high-speed rail line from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. Construction is not expected to be complete until 2026, but figures to strongly compete when finished.Ground transportation remains very competitive in EMEA. Prices are expected to remain mostly flat in Europe, and up a meager 1 percent across the Middle East and Africa. Rail continues to be a viable alternative to air travel throughout Europe, especially with enhanced security at airports. The continued expansion of Enterprise, the re-emergence of Budget and the continued impact of new players like Uber and Lyft are all creating downward pricing pressure for 2018. Both Uber and Lyft have been banned in some markets and restricted from airport access in others as governments turn their attention to regulating this new industry segment.Prices are expected to rise slightly (1.0 percent) across Latin America. Brazil and Mexico are anticipating increased demand for car rentals in 2018 as their economies rebound. However, the rental car market there is still heavily fragmented. Uber is betting big on its Latin American business (despite issues in Brazil, Peru and Argentina) - especially after its recent departure from the Chinese market. Regional and international rental companies continue to expand and pricing is expected to stabilize.Canada is expected to see a healthy 4.6 percent increase in 2018, but the overall region will only be up 1.0 percent. Limited railways, along with improved income per capita and increased corporate travel, are expected to push up rental car rates in North America. Still a low-margin business, rental car companies have implemented operational efficiencies and made investments in technology to better manage fleets and improve utilization. Sharing economies continue to grow, but face improved competition from traditional cabs and government regulation.About the 2018 ForecastForecast projections provided by CWT Solutions Group. Data analysis provided by Rockport Analytics. The report, 2018 Global Travel Forecast, is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailingpyachnes@gbtafoundation.org. Download the report.About the Carlson Family FoundationThis report is made possible by the Carlson Family Foundation. Established in 1950, by its founder, Curtis L. Carlson, the Carlson Family Foundation represents the commitment of the Carlson family to give charitably to humanitarian and community affairs. Through investments in education, mentoring, children and youth at risk, youth mentoring, anti-trafficking initiatives, and workforce development programs, the Carlson Family Foundation actively participates in creating strong and healthy communities, and a competitive workforce.

Travel Industry Must Overcome Economic and Political Disruption to Harness Future Growth

Amadeus 21 July 2017
New report from A.T. Kearney, 'What if? Imagining the future of the travel industry', identifies trends of personalization and seamless travel as key drivers of success in the next five to seven yearsReport also outlines four different world scenarios of the future, and warns that the emergence of protectionism and populism could hinder future commercial opportunities across the industryThe travel industry must be better prepared for economic and political disruption if it is to make the most of future economic growth, a new report from A.T. Kearney outlines today. Whilst the sharing economy, virtual reality and the Internet of Things are all improving the traveler experience, international geo-political, social and economic developments are disrupting and polarizing the world as we know it, limiting the industry's potential for future prosperity unless companies act now the report says.Against this backdrop, A.T. Kearney highlights two key trends that are changing the travel industry landscape, and driving future success:Personalized travel experiences versus mass market. Technology enables the aggregation of consumer data and the use of Artificial Intelligence to learn about traveler behavior. In addition, it may help to meet individual needs, instead of a more traditional one-size-fits-all approach.Seamless travel versus fragmentation. Truly seamless travel will require governmental cooperation and data sharing between businesses: from airports and airlines to destination services such as hotels, restaurants, and ground transportation.Based on these two key trends, Amadeus and A.T. Kearney have identified four future-looking world scenarios that travel companies need to prepare for today, if they are to maximize future growth and success tomorrow:The Picasso scenario is built on a fragmented world marked by the rise of populism and by heightened security concerns. This has the effect of making more travel destinations off-limits. Even so, most parts of the world enjoy economic growth. Companies invest in innovation to reach more customers through mobile channels, and this interaction enables businesses to provide more sophisticated personalized offers.The Dali scenario assumes that both social attitudes and economic prosperity create a more favorable environment towards sharing data. This brings about more relaxed privacy laws and lighter regulation, which allows for greater personalization of travel. Living in the Dali scenario, travel becomes faster, cheaper, and safer. People benefit from less security controls at borders and have real-time information about unexpected events such as flight delays.In the Bosch scenario, business costs rise across the industry as companies struggle to comply with a mosaic of different legal, tax, labor and data protection laws. We are confronting a fragmented world based on protectionism and distrust. Facing Bosch's political environment, travelers seek comfort in trusted brands and book directly with well-known travel providers.The Warhol scenario is characterized by seamless and not personalized travel that considers the implications of strong economic growth in Asia, giving rise to a large middle class with more disposable income for travel and leisure. Travelers would rather go for low cost, mass-market travel instead of having personalized options even in a world free of barriers."Technology has never held more promise for the travel industry," says Alex Luzarraga, Vice President Corporate Strategy of Amadeus IT Group. "But the status quo is being turned on its head. There is widespread mistrust and populism. Things we used to take for granted, such as the right to travel across Europe without passports, for example, may be less likely in the future. It is important to evaluate and understand, in partnership with A.T. Kearney, those issues that will continue to confront and disrupt the industry in the coming five to seven years, so we can as an industry be better prepared to deal with those issues, and also stimulate economic growth and success as a result.""The report is based on the perspectives of a broad range of stakeholders from across the travel and technology worlds. It illustrates a broad view of the future, which allows companies to uncover their organizational blind spots. Moreover, the study tests existing plans against industry outlooks, and helps us understand 'no regret' moves and imperatives in company strategy. This paper will provide an interesting perspective to the businesses that wish to prosper in the travel industry in the coming years," says Yelena Ageyeva-Furman, Principal, London, at A.T. Kearney.Commissioned by Amadeus, the study was based on a series of industry workshops and interviews from across the technology and travel industries. To learn more about the research and to download the What if? Imagining the future of the travel industry report, please click here.A.T. KearneyA.T. Kearney is a leading global management consulting firm with offices in more than 40 countries. Since 1926, we have been trusted advisors to the world's foremost organizations. A.T. Kearney is a partner-owned firm, committed to helping clients achieve immediate impact and growing advantage on their most mission-critical issues. For more information, visit www.atkearney.com.
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Shifting Cancellation Policies Creates Revenue Management Issues

Duetto Research Blog 21 July 2017
As expected, once Marriott International implemented new guidelines that in general require guests to cancel reservations 48 hours in advance of arrival, other mega brand companies are making similar moves. The shift, now enacted by both Marriott and Hilton, presents new challenges as well as opportunities for all revenue managers. Extending cancellation policies is the latest in an ongoing trend by hotel companies to tighten their grip on consumers’ booking habits. Until 2015, most chains and properties allowed penalty-free cancellations until 6 p.m. the day of check-in. Then, most chains changed to a 24-hour penalty-free window. Now, Marriott and Hilton might be the leading edge of an industry-wide shift in cancellation policies.
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Good Nite Inn Deploys RoomChecker At Redlands Location

qMetrix Group 21 July 2017
RoomCheckera is an end-to-end quality improvement solution that includes staff assignments, time tracking, performance reporting, guest satisfaction reporting, and issue tracking. Good Nite Inn has also integrated RoomCheckertm with its property management system, which allows it to further streamline its operations while delivering even higher levels of quality and service to its guests.Good Nite Inn is a leading limited service hotel operator in California. With 12 locations across the state, from the rolling hills of Wine Country and the exciting San Francisco Bay Area to a multitude of vibrant destinations in Southern California, Good Nite Inn is where guests want to be."Good Nite Inn has been a valued customer for years," stated Robin Mangold, principal of qMetrix Group. "Their progressive philosophy makes RoomCheckera a great addition to their processes. We are excited to see them expanding the use of RoomCheckera to more of their locations."The data collected on the mobile devices is saved to the Cloud and used to trigger automatic notifications. The RoomCheckera website is available 24/7 and offers a wide array of reporting options with trend reporting and detailed history of all inspections completed. Good Nite Inn regularly analyzes these reports to understand opportunities to further improve the quality of its guest rooms, as well as the efficiency of its operations. According to Nicholas Ho, VP at Good Nite Inn, "RoomChecker gives us a competitive edge by providing us the data we need to continuously evaluate and improve our operations."About Good Nite InnGood Nite Inn is a leading limited-service hotel chain serving the California market. The company currently owns and operates twelve strategically located properties within the state and aims to deliver the best possible guest experience for budget-conscious travelers. For more information please visit www.good-nite.com or contact:Good Nite InnNicholas Ho310-235-2745nick@good-nite.comwww.good-nite.comSource: qMetrix Group
Article by Pamela Whitby

Is Personalization Travel's New Super Power?

EyeforTravel 21 July 2017
Is "Challenging Assumptions" the key to cracking customer experience? Booking.com thinks so and others do too. Love them or hate them - and yes hotels over the years have had a pretty tetchy relationship with booking.com - but few could dispute how successful a company the Amsterdam upstart has been.After being acquired in 2005 by Priceline for $135m in cash, booking.com helped catapult its US parent from a $10m company to one worth over a billion dollars. This booking.com acquisition, along with others like Agoda, Kayak and more, was, as Priceline CEO Glenn Fogel outlined at a recent EyeforTravel conference, part of a strategic push to go global. "We found companies that knew how to sell the way people in Europe [and other parts of the world] wanted toA decade on and in 2016, booking.com was responsible for 80% of Priceline's annual revenues. Great news for Priceline! Not such great news for hotels, which over the years have lost control of inventory and forked out commissions of anything between 15 and 30% for privilege of a presence on OTA websites.But with eroding margins and regulatory pressure brought to bear on OTA bully boy tactics in the US and Europe, the fight back has begun. Recently, we've seen some hotels taking back control by innovating with loyalty programs, technology and more, and even entering what are perceived to be fairer deals with Google (that is another story).Although there is still some way to go, there is a growing recognition that OTAs, if managed correctly, can play a valuable role. But as Brian Harniman, a former Priceline executive and founder of strategy advisory firm Brand New Matter, puts it hotels need to "partner wisely". Other advice includes using data to shift from cost per booking to cost-per-customer, providing real value (such as upgrades, free drinks and so on) and never ever allowing anybody to dictate RM practices.Data is key here, something that booking.com understands well. Just about every decision taken here is driven by data, which are driven by a clear purpose. That purpose, Booking.com Commercial Excellence Manager Ben Bates recently told an EyeforTravel audience is, quite simply, about "keeping the customer at the centre of everything we do".This core goal is one of the secrets of booking.com's success. Joerg Esser, a theoretical physicist and former senior Thomas Cook executive, believes that in these turbulent markets, it is Booking.com's ability to 'anchor a purpose' that has made it so successful. Anchoring purpose is the first of five simple smart 'ant colony inspired' rules that Esser has been working on since leaving a senior role at Thomas Cook last year, that will give firms a 'toolbox' to drive real change.But what exactly does this mean in practice within the walls of booking.com and are there any lessons for hotels? Bates, who will be speaking again in Las Vegas this October, makes this point: "We hear a lot about trusting your gut [about what the customer wants] but I would like to challenge that assumption."The results from A-B testing, a practice that Booking.com is an evangelist of, proves the point. "Nine out ten A/B tests fail," Bates admits, because very often companies design a product or tool by making certain assumptions about what users want and are time and again proved wrong.Esser agrees arguing that in competitive markets with shifting consumer behavior, you have to start from the position that everything you do is a hypothesis and not that you have an "expert gut feel"Innovative hotels are beginning to recognize this. In a recent interview with Sagar Desai, Head of Acquisitions & Development, Viceroy Group he said: "Lot of companies today are A/B testing. Smart hotels should A/B test too. Why put up one website? Put up two and see which responds best."Viceroy is one of those hotel organisations operating with a flattened hierarchy and in a more nimble fashion. According to Desai, who will also be speaking in Vegas, in order to survive, hotels really need to operate more like tech companies and be willing to work flexibly and rapidly test and change.As a successful tech company there are, perhaps, lessons to be taken from booking.com. Bates sees seven data-driven themes emerging for hotels to take note of, and whatever your relationship with the Amsterdam based upstart, this is pretty compelling stuff. Drawing from Bates' recent presentation we have compiled these top tips.Take a Long Hard Look at Your ImagesMost immersive experiences start with immersive images, says Bates, with 67% of travelers seeing more value in clear images than in the room description or guest reviews. Customers scan images to define what they are interested in and what they are not interested in, so keep that in mind. Interestingly, 150% more booking.com users engaged with a property on the website when there were more than 20 images loaded. Other insights show that women are particularly keen on bathroom images, and more likely to convert for a two-night stay, or more, if there were at least three bathroom images on the front page. Going forward, 360-degree images could be a game-changer, especially with Facebook - another platform to watch - stepping into that environment and ecosystem. A top tip recommended that hotels prioritise snaps to reflect what previous guests have said they like most about the experience.Come to Grips With What People are Saying About You on Social Media and Review your ReviewsWhat Bates calls "cafe culture social proofing," can also leads to "buyer confidence"; in other words reviews count. According to Bates, 78% of customers see reviews as a credible source information which points to a "revolution" in customer behavior that is leading customers to trust complete strangers over established institutions. Another tidbit is that online reviews today are more effective than star ratings. In fact 50% of travelers will not book today, until they have read a review. Since 66% of guests post at least once during travelling, hotels can also benefit from highlighting social activity along the lines of '20 people are viewing this property' as a definition of perceived popularity.Differentiate Room ExperiencesNot all rooms are equal, so why not display them differently? It seems this might be worth doing too, with 90% of guests complaining that rooms are not well differentiated online. For example, help the customer to understand, with images, why they are paying $30-40 dollars more for an upgraded room. Reviews and comments on comments on photos can drive engagement when the guest is still in exploration mode.Give Your Business Travelers 'Isolated Togetherness'People travelling on business want company while "being productive" but they might not always want to engage. This desire for 'isolated togetherness' means that 36% of millennials prefer to work in the hotel lobby. This desire to slip into a hotel without having to speak is also playing out in other areas with 56% of travelers saying they prefer automated check-in. Business travel upgrades are another opportunity as Bates says over 40% of travelers do not feel the need to - upgrade that is! So one tip is to offer single occupancy upgrades to achieve higher price point. Hotels could also offer upgrades for a longer stay, , given the trend to blurring lines between business and personal travel.Consider Eco-Friendly CredentialsOn an eco-friendly note, the data finds that 62% of customers appreciate a hotel's efforts to act in an environmentally friendly way and especially (47%) if it impacts their pocket. However, while might like to do the right thing, its worth noting is that most millennials won't pay more for an eco hotel. What is more, three-quarters say they disengage if the message is overdone.Understand the Same-Day Browse and Stay Culture, and Multi-platform BehaviorPeople can make quicker decisions today, and more customers than ever are booking spontaneously within shorter windows. 'Staycations' in key cities are also on the rise. Bates says that half of bookings made on smart phones today were for the same or next day. Top tip include guaranteeing a specific room but selection at check-in, to offer inclusive meals options (a last-minute customer preference), and in markets like the US, where 80% of domestic guests travel by car, to consider publicizing parking at the right time. On the multi-platform score, 43% guests are shopping across multiple devices when planning travel, and so ensuring a consistent experience on mobile, desktop and app is absolutely crucial.Come to Grips with LoyaltyThe last theme, delivered by Bates is that brands need to rethink loyalty, as it's "very common for customers to be loyal to numerous hotel brands". In what he admits are a somewhat "controversial" stats, their data shows 47% of leisure guests booking on the brand site, and 92% through a travel agent, don't belong to any loyalty program.Perhaps the hint is that it's a waste of time to launch a hotel branded loyalty program, something the bigger chains have been investing in to drive direct bookings! But, as Harniman says, hotels shouldn't let anybody dictate their business practices. Instead, they must take back control.
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How AI Is Already Changing Business

harvardbusiness.org 20 July 2017
Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT Sloan School professor, explains how rapid advances in machine learning are presenting new opportunities for businesses. He breaks down how the technology works and what it can and can’t do (yet). He also discusses the potential impact of AI on the economy, how workforces will interact with it in the future, and suggests managers start experimenting now. Brynjolfsson is the co-author, with Andrew McAfee, of the HBR Big Idea article, “The Business of Artificial Intelligence.” They’re also the co-authors of the new book, Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future.
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Cendyn joins the Cloud Security Alliance

Cendyntm 20 July 2017
The CSA is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing, and to provide education on the uses of Cloud Computing to help secure other forms of computing."We pride ourselves on our continued commitment to data and cloud computing security at Cendyn." said Charles Deyo, CEO & President of Cendyn. "Our clients range from some of the largest groups of hotels in the world, to some of the most bespoke independent, boutique properties, all with different needs for their data. While the data landscape and security needs are continuously changing for every one of our clients, our membership with the CSA is a testament to our dedication to them, no matter who or where they are in the world."Cendyn's membership in the Cloud Security Alliance assures hoteliers that all Cendyn products have the security and credibility required of more than 200 other businesses. This demonstrates their dedication to providing secure technology products through this membership."Cendyn is a cloud-based organization that puts security and data integrity at the heart of what they do," said Jim Reavis, co-founder and CEO of the CSA. "With their extensive experience delivering secure data across the globe, for all their clients, we welcome them and look forward to Cendyn sharing their wealth of insights on data security and deliverability with our membership." About Cloud Security AllianceThe Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is the world's leading organization dedicated to defining and raising awareness of best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. CSA harnesses the subject matter expertise of industry practitioners, associations, governments, and its corporate and individual members to offer cloud security-specific research, education, certification, events and products. CSA's activities, knowledge and extensive network benefit the entire community impacted by cloud -- from providers and customers, to governments, entrepreneurs and the assurance industry -- and provide a forum through which diverse parties can work together to create and maintain a trusted cloud ecosystem. CSA operates the most popular cloud security provider certification program, the CSA Security, Trust & Assurance Registry (STAR), a three-tiered provider assurance program of self assessment, 3rd party audit and continuous monitoring. CSA launched the industry's first cloud security user certification in 2010, the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK), the benchmark for professional competency in cloud computing security. CSA's comprehensive research program works in collaboration with industry, higher education and government on a global basis. CSA research prides itself on vendor neutrality, agility and integrity of results. CSA has a presence in every continent except Antarctica. With our own offices, partnerships, member organizations and chapters, there are always CSA experts near you. CSA holds dozens of high quality educational events around the world and online. Please check out our events page for more information.About CendynCendyn is a cloud-based software and services provider that develops integrated technology platforms for driving sales and marketing performance in the travel and hospitality industry. The Cendyn Hospitality Cloud offers the most complete set of innovative software and services in the industry, covering hotel marketing, guest engagement, group sales, and event management. With offices in Boca Raton, Atlanta, Boston, San Diego, Toronto, Whistler, London and Singapore, Cendyn proudly serves more than 30,000 clients in 143 countries with enterprise spend levels in excess of $1 billion. For more information on Cendyn, visit www.cendyn.com.

Taking the guest experience to the next level with mobile access

ASSA ABLOY Hospitality By Markus Boberg
Providing guests with the ability to unlock guestroom doors using personal smart devices is no longer just a futuristic concept or non-essential amenity. With record numbers of hotels around the globe now adopting digital key solutions in order to streamline operations and better serve the increasingly tech-savvy, mobile-oriented generation of guests, mobile access solutions are going mainstream. As Christophe Sut of ASSA ABLOY Hospitality explains, growing demands for instant service have spurred hoteliers to seek out platforms that minimize wait times and inconvenience. With continuing advancements in mobile access innovation, more and more hospitality professionals are finding that they too are able to benefit from a solution that takes personal budgets and needs into account, while allowing them to tap into today's increasingly mobile lifestyles in a way that maximizes guest satisfaction without jeopardizing security.
Article by Cindy Heo

Revenue management: Using data integration to move from tactics to strategy

EHL 20 July 2017
As the practice of revenue management continues to evolve, industry professionals should increasingly look to use their RM systems and processes strategically and move away from tactical operations. Integrating data from the various systems and resources is an important first step.Revenue management used to focus primarily on setting room prices and optimizing room inventory. The revenue manager's main job was to analyze data to recognize trends and make pricing and inventory management decisions. Over the last ten years, due to technological advances, the scope of RM has expanded as traditional hotel revenue management practice became much more complex, while offering new approaches to enhance hotel revenue. Today, revenue management strategy goes beyond pricing and inventory management, and revenue managers should look for new ways to optimize revenue growth and profitability. Although more advanced revenue management systems (RMS) have been developed over the years, with the aim of analyzing performance and forecasting demand, demand patterns have become much more unpredictable, while increasingly dependent on numerous external factors. Successful revenue management strategy starts with a clear understanding of the guests and market demand dynamics. Revenue managers should not just crunch RMS numbers but need to understand guests' selection behavior, consumer psychology and their competitors' strategies by analyzing various pieces of information.RMS cannot, therefore, be the only toolkit for a revenue manager, because customer data reside in different hotel systems. RMS should be integrated first with the property management system (PMS) to take into account the entire booking information, analytics, and reporting functions, as well as with other internal systems such as the central reservation system (CRS), point of sale (POS), the customer relationship management (CRM) system, competitive rate shopping software, channel management tools, the hotel's own website, and various social media channels.User-generated content is one way of learning about the guests' needs and wants. By analyzing such content, revenue managers can identify their competitive advantage from the guest's perspective and update their rate fence structure accordingly.Moreover, external resources can help revenue managers in their decision-making. It is essential for revenue managers to broaden their view of their market by incorporating external market data in their planning to make sure their RM strategies correspond with market demand. Data supply services like STR and HotStats offer reports on hotel performance metrics and trends, as well as supply and demand analysis, market segmentation, and supply pipeline reports.Some distribution partners also offer useful tools for revenue managers. For example, Expedia's Rev+ helps hotels gauge their rates against competitors over the course of 90 days and alerts hotels to changes to rates over the course of the last 24 hours. Hotels can keep track of up to 20 competitors operating in their area and averages for the lowest rates are displayed in calendar form. Further, a forecasting tool helps hotels view demand for markets based on data captured across the portfolio of Expedia brand. These external systems and resources provide valuable data analytics that offer visibility into a specific area of a hotel's positioning or market performance, relative to their competitors or even the entire market.Effective revenue management strategy depends on integrated information to ensure revenue managers can react quickly when they need to. Thus, combining data from various systems and sources is an important issue, because RMS cannot exist as a standalone application. However, the different systems used by hotels do not always share all the transactional data because hotels typically acquire different systems at different times from different vendors.Data integration is the process of identifying ways to bring data from disparate sources and combine them in a unified way to produce meaningful insights. This task, in itself, is not at all easy. It is the first challenge revenue managers face in connecting their different systems so that they work together and allow for seamless data transfer. Vivek Bhogaraju, director of global strategic alliances and initiatives at IDeaS Revenue Solutions, says "without better systems integration, companies may be missing opportunities to mine customer data for insights they can use to target guests with customized offers."Another challenge is turning all data into valuable, new insights. Information is powerful only if you can access and analyze it properly. Competent revenue managers should be able to pose the right questions and find answers through the careful interpretation of data and by providing actionable recommendations to all departments. To this end, revenue managers should be capable of communicating their analysis and strategy to all stakeholders in their hotels and then adjust their strategy based on feedback from the stakeholders.Without capable revenue management professionals, sophisticated systems and data are no longer useful. Organizational structures also need to be reformed to promote teamwork and collaboration across departments and the revenue management director should report directly to the hotel's general manager. Mike Chuma, vice president of product strategy for IDeaS, says too many revenue management teams still remain siloed and calls for RM teams to work closely with sales, marketing, F&B, and event teams.From a revenue management perspective, not all guests are equal. Some guests may only make use of the hotel rooms but not the other facilities, while others may spend hundreds of dollars on F&B, leisure facilities, and spa treatments. Identifying those guests with a higher value to a hotel in the long run is extremely important in today's market. In order to maximize long-term profits, hotels need to increase guests' spending by satisfying their expectations and encouraging repeat visits. An increased amount of data does not automatically lead to better revenue management decisions but it should lead to more opportunities.

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