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Mark Loyd Appointed President of MSI Solutions

PAR Springer-Miller ·8h
August 25, 2016 --MSI Solutions (MSI), a leading provider of mid-market property management software solutions serving the North American hotel industry, today announces the promotion of Mark Loyd to President.As President of MSI, Loyd provides strategic and operational direction for the company's suite of property management solutions for mid-market hotels. MSI's CloudPM solution recently celebrated its 500th implementation, establishing CloudPM as one of the top true cloud solutions for hotels. Loyd has previously led Springer-Miller System's ATRIO group and served as Chief Strategy Officer for MSI. Prior to MSI, Loyd served as President & CTO of Remco Software. As President, Loyd will bring an increased focus on MSI clients, enhancing product stability and ensuring satisfaction across the growing MSI customer base."Mark is a skilled leader and innovative thinker who can take the talented team at MSI to the next level," commented Michael McCarthy, CEO of MSI Solutions. "With Mark at the helm we will leverage the proven success of the CloudPM property management system to grow our network of installed customers in the mid-market hotel space." About MSI Solutions ("MSI")MSI is a leading provider of Property Management Software and solutions to the North American hotel industry. Over the years MSI has built a leadership position in the mid-tier, economy and extended stay segments of the North American hotel market and works with a number of well know hotel properties and brands. MSI has recently released a true cloud-based PMS solution that is proving to be very popular with both new name prospects and existing clients looking to make the move to the cloud. www.msisolutions.com

Aloft Hotels Unveils Voice-Activated Hotel Rooms

Starwood ·10h
Guests Can Control Temperature, Lighting and More Simply By Using "Hey Siri"Aloft Boston Seaport and Aloft Santa Clara Offer Guests Access to In-Room iPadImagine asking a hotel room to turn up the air conditioning when it gets too hot or to turn on the lights before getting out of bed. Well, the future is here and it just checked in at Aloft Hotels. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) today unveiled the results of its top secret "Project: Jetson" experiment, and are excited to today debut the first-ever voice activated hotel room, giving guests entirely new ways to interact using "Hey Siri." Each Aloft Voice-Activated Hotel Room is equipped with an iPad running a custom Aloft app used for controlling the in-room guest experience, with HomeKit-enabled accessories including room temperature, lighting options and more. These new rooms are available today at Aloft Boston Seaport and at Aloft Santa Clara."Forget the phrase 'at the touch of your fingertips.' Today's early adopter, hyper-connected global traveler wants a level of personalization unlike ever before, and that means being able to control their hotel experience with the sound of their voice," said Brian McGuinness, Global Brand Leader, Aloft Hotels. "We're thrilled to be the first hotel brand to bring voice-activation to our guests in this way, using Siri to control room temperature, lighting and more during their stay.""At Aloft, we are constantly pushing the envelope, our imaginations and the adaptation of technology to reinvent the hotel stay of today and tomorrow," said Sarah Downing, Vice President, Global Guest Initiatives & Innovation, Aloft Hotels. "We love working with companies like DigiValet to help bring our visions to life. The new Aloft Voice Activated Hotel Rooms are going to change the way that our guests interact, literally, with their room during their stay with us. It's the latest way Aloft is changing the way we all travel."When guests arrive, they will launch a custom Aloft app on their in-room iPad to control various aspects of their voice-activated room. A personalized welcome screen will advise guests on how to set up their room and use their own voice with "Hey Siri." Each iPad also offers a simple tutorial to guide guests through the setup process and answer any questions they may have.Here is a sampling of what the smartest hotel room in the world can do:Control Temperature - Wake up hot at 2 am? Simply ask Siri to adjust the temperature on the Ecobee HomeKit-enabled thermostat by saying "Hey Siri, cool the room" to your desired setting.Adjust Lighting - Watching a movie or reading in bed? Use Homekit-enabled Philips Hue lights to select preset lighting options for every mood including: Re:set (standard lighting); Re:lax (evening); Re:view (movie theater); and Re:vive (morning). Just ask Siri to turn on the lights, turn off the lights, or simply say good morning."Set the Mood (Music) - Singing in the shower but want a new track? Say "Hey Siri, put on my morning playlist." To use this feature, guests must be signed into their iTunes account on the iPad. Music plays through the guest's personal device.Explore Local Attractions - Need a virtual concierge? Just ask "Hey Siri, what are some attractions near me?" so you can navigate the area like a local.The new Aloft Voice-Activated Hotel Rooms also allow guests to browse the internet, check the weather and more. At the end of each stay, all iPads are reset and all personal preferences are removed from the device.The results of "Project: Jetson" are the latest innovation from the team of dreamers and doers at Aloft Hotels and were brought to life in collaboration with DigiValet, the iPad-based guest room solution for luxury hotels. Always ahead of the curve, other tech-forward offerings from Aloft have included: Botlr, the world's first robotic butler, currently employed at Aloft Cupertino and Aloft Silicon Valley; TiGi ("text it, get it") the world's first Emoji-only room service menu; and SPG Keyless, which allows guests to utilize their smartphones as room keys.

London hotel prices drop by 16% this month

trivago ·10h
Hotel prices have fallen in major cities across the UK this month, according to the trivago Hotel Price Index (tHPI), recorded monthly by hotel search websitetrivago.co.uk. In comparison to July, London hotel prices have dropped by 16 per cent, from an average of PS171 in July to an average of PS143 during August. The only exception is Edinburgh, which hosted the International and Fringe festivals this month and subsequently saw a 35 per cent increase in hotel prices, from PS150 per night in July to PS202 in August.xxxAs the table above shows, London hotel prices are currently at their lowest since March, at an average of PS143 per night. This is a 16 per cent decrease from July and a 15 per cent decrease from August 2015, when a hotel room cost an average of PS169 per night.Other major UK cities follow the same trend in comparison to last month - hotel prices in Manchester are down 17 per cent to an average of PS104, Brighton is down by 15 per cent to PS112 and Leeds is down by 14 per cent to PS86. When compared to the same time last year, prices are still down but the difference is less dramatic - hotel prices in York are down by 8 per cent and Liverpool by 5 per cent. London is the only city with a significant year-on-year decrease in hotel prices.Edinburgh hotel prices 41% more expensive than LondonThe annual International and Fringe festivals in Edinburgh have caused hotel prices to rise by 35 per cent, from an average of PS150 per night in July to PS202 in August. This makes Edinburgh the most expensive city in the UK for a hotel stay this August. Last year, a hotel room cost an average of PS207 during August.Denise Bartlett, Communications UK & Ireland: "Following Brexit on 24th June, London hotel prices changed little between June and July, increasing by an average of PS10 - which is normal for the summer season. In August, however, they have dropped by an average of PS28, now reflecting prices which are more in line with the winter months. Due to the huge number of hotels in London, prices usually remain fairly stable - it is very unusual to see such large price differences, both month-on-month and year-on-year. It will be interesting to see if the downward trend continues in September.Edinburgh has come under fire in the past for failing to provide affordable accommodation during the festival, which spans the majority of August and annually results in largely inflated hotel prices. An overnight stay can often cost double the amount it would during one of the cheaper, winter months."
Article by Thomas Magnuson

The Dark Side Of Hotel Brand PIPs

Magnuson ·11h
It is claimed that PIPs (property improvement plans) exist to ensure all franchisees are brand compliant and to drive customer satisfaction. However, it appears big brands such as Choice, Holiday Inn, Wyndham and Best Western, often use them to push hoteliers out of a market to benefit corporate expansion strategies. So are PIPs really in the best interests of franchisees?Refreshing a BrandBrand refreshes, defined by Property Improvement Plans (PIPs), are initiatives that many major chains have undertaken in recent years and by default, are an essential part of branded hotel ownership.Choice Hotels International announced a complete brand rebirth in 2015, one that would encompass a new logo, website and refocused marketing efforts to reflect the new branding. Just a few months later, Best Western followed suit and also launched a re-positioning that entailed similar changes, along with the addition of new brands to its portfolio. However, with all of this progression comes a potentially darker side, one that can leave well-intentioned franchisees engaged in needless litigation and with big economic losses.When Choice Hotels made the announcement, it did so with one clear caveat: all franchisees would have to renovate their properties to fall in line with this new branding through adhering to a specific property improvement plan. President and CEO Steve Joyce told a media round-table that those who didn't comply would invariably become "one of the 600," a reference to the 600 franchisees that had been terminated the year before.Choice Hotels has come under fire before for so-called "anti-franchisee policies", and many in the industry view PIPS to be a prime example. Choice became an archetype of the industry-wide practice of imposing PIPs that entail extensive and expensive renovations.Failing to comply with even the smallest aspect can result in penalties and in some cases termination as a franchisee altogether - so are PIPs really in the best interests of today's hotel owners?The Costs and Consequences of PIPS A PIP is, more often than not, an expensive undertaking, and one that can place an enormous financial burden on small franchisees. This is not only in the form of the cost of undertaking renovations and the loss incurred with the disruption to business, but constantly evolving standards mean properties often have to endure ongoing renovations to remain compliant.In many cases, perfectly functioning hotels 10 years of older are forced to make design changes that may not be economically viable. For example, exterior corridor hotels may be deemed no longer permitted, and if one wants to stay with its brand, it will need to structurally enclose all exterior corridors. Many brands say market research states that exterior corridors are unsafe. Yet, top hotels such as the Arizona Biltmore or Hawaii's legendary Mauna Kea Beach Hotel use exterior corridors.Some brands are now requiring costly installation of elevators for 2 story properties, even when the property goes above and beyond in providing top quality disabled facilities on the ground floor. For a 40 room Best Western grossing $500K a year, the cost of the elevator is nearly 15% of annual sales.Holiday Inn Express, which recently implemented its 'Formula Blue' PIP requires hotels to redo all rooms and common areas whether the fixtures are old or not. For a 100 room property, design oriented PIPS can easily run $200,000.Hotels in a franchise are required to stay up to date with the set brand standards, and failing to stay up to date with these can result in hefty fines. For example, one top global franchise actually fines franchisees $2000 for running out of bananas at the hotel breakfast bar.PIPs and the concept of re-franchisingWhile PIPs can be used for the purpose of maintaining consistent branding in hotels, they can also be used to drive good hotels out of their contracts and effectively re-franchise an area. For example, a chain may have offered an area of protection to a specific hotel, but as the local economy has changed, the chain wants to capitalize on this growth with market expansion. Enforcing a PIP that is untenable can see that existing franchise close doors, thus there is no area of protection to maintain, and the chain can install as many hotels and sub-brands in the area as it likes.Wyndham Hotel Group, which has recently announced a global brand refresh states that over the past two years, the company removed 90% of the rooms in 2015 that did not meet its PIP standards. At the same time, Wyndham added 650 new builds to its pipeline.Chains maintain that PIPs are necessary for driving consumer satisfaction, and a growing number of hotel owners disagree, stating that PIPS are firmly in the interests of the chains and not their franchisees. So could this be the reason so many hotels are exiting the traditional franchise model in search of alternatives that encourages owner-driven PIPs?About Magnuson Hotels:Since its launch 13 years ago, through the emphasis on the ability to 'run your hotel your way', Magnuson Hotels has become America's fastest growing hotel brand, and a top 10 global chain, marketing 1000 hotels across six countries and three continents.

Talking Travel Tech - Jeff Lewis, VP of engineering at Viator

Tnooz25 August 2016
Around the same time as Stephen Kaufer was busily creating TripAdvisor above a pizza parlour in Massachussets, Viator was plotting its own path as a travel startup.It would take another 14 years before the pair would eventually unite but during that time the online tours and activities agency worked hard at proving a market for selling in-destination products on the web could exist.

4 Features That Will Help Your App Deliver a Great Mobile Experience

Hospitality Technology Magazine25 August 2016
Frequent travelers by their very nature are people on the go, so it's only natural they'd rush to take advantage of mobile conveniences, loyalty programs and perks offered by hospitality brands. In fact, a recent report by Deloitte found that at least 64% of millennials, 50% of Gen Xers, and 30% of baby boomers have downloaded at least one hotel mobile application.

Announcing Audience Lab - A Tool to Improve Testing

Adobe Digital Marketing25 August 2016
Audience Lab, a new feature of Adobe Audience Manager, is doing a lot to give marketers greater levels of control over audience targeting when testing variables in their advertising stacks.Audience Lab gives you the ability to split one of your audience segments into mutually exclusive buckets. For example, if you have an audience segment of males, you could split that segment into two identical but exclusive groups of males to use for testing. With the audience variable controlled, you can layer different targeting variables to determine what drives the most conversions -- for instance, you might test different ad creative to see which one gets a better response from your male audience.

Starfleet Research: Hoteliers Looking to Upgrade Property Management Systems

Hospitality Technology Magazine25 August 2016
Until recently, there was no single software application for managing or automating all of the different functions that take place at a hotel or resort in a unified and integrated fashion. However, next-generation property management solutions (PMS) are empowering hoteliers to drive ever-increasing levels of efficiency and effectiveness. And hoteliers are looking to upgrade their PMS systems.

Holiday bookings to be 'transformed' by new technology, says Expedia

hotelmarketing.com25 August 2016
In its latest The Holiday of the Future report, Expedia says increasingly customers will be able to 'try before they buy' through immersive virtual and augmented reality technologies.Rachael Power from Virtual Reality News, who contributed to the research, said: "Virtual reality has the potential to radically change travel."People can'try before they buy' by visiting locations in VR, from the UAE to the Irish Wild Atlantic Way.

Chinese carriers gear up for diversified needs of global digital platforms.

4hoteliers.com25 August 2016
Be it for an e-commerce platform or supporting different phases of a journey via their digital assets, Chinese airlines are looking at refining their respective sites and apps, they are focusing on expanding their presence globally, and to do that they know they need to understand international travelers better and connect with them through a platform that is tailored to their needs and expectations.As we have learnt over the last 12 months, Chinese airlines are trying to improve upon their foreign websites' e-commerce capabilities.

The future of revenue optimization: more than just the room

By Sanjay Nagalia
Optimizing revenue and profitability means understanding how a hotel's many different streams can affect one another, says Sanjay Nagalia of IDeaS Revenue Solutions. "Without a big-picture perspective, opportunities can go undetected, and revenue can be left on the table," he writes. "Sophisticated analytics technology is now capable of aggregating and transforming large, disparate data sets into actionable intelligence."

Part 2 of the Hotel Mobile Technology Series: Why Your Hotel Should Be Prepared for Mobile Bookings.

4hoteliers.com25 August 2016
Mobile devices are a powerful tool for travelers, providing access to information and sales, travel research on mobile devices continues to grow and this year will be the first time mobile bookings are higher than desktop reservations.Shoppers make a growing number of decisions in micro-moments. They often have only a few moments to spare and rely on their phone for online information. In fact, smartphone bookings outpace tablet bookings, supporting a transition to on-the-go transactions.Mobile bookings include a large segment of last-minute purchases. Impulse purchases depend on one main thing: making a great first impression. Websites won't get a second chance with travelers making on-a-whim decisions. They want the facts, fast, and don't need extra information weighing their decision down. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking to drive more mobile bookings.

5 considerations when pursuing a hotel deal in today's market

Hotel Management24 August 2016
With low interest rates and higher capital gains tax rates having translated into lofty asking prices for assets, buyers "reaching for yield" and more buyers seeking to defer taxes by doing 1031 tax-free exchanges, one has to be very disciplined in pulling the trigger on a hotel purchase these days. You'll have to live with your decision for many tomorrows. Here are a few thoughts that ought to impact your offering price decision.
  • John Cahill Memorial Reception - HITEC 2016
  • Speaker Lyle Worthington, CHAE at HITEC 2015 in Austin, Texas USA
  • John Cahill Memorial Reception - HITEC 2016
  • HITEC 2016 Exhibit Hall
  • Audience at HITEC 2015 in Austin, Texas USA
  • Entrepreneur 20X at HITEC 2016
  • HITEC 2016 Tech Talks
  • HITEC 2016 Tech Talks
  • HITEC 2016 Tuesday Keynote
  • HITEC 2016 Tuesday Keynote Speaker Josh Linkner

Impact Your Rank and Revenue with Top Search Strategies [Webinar Recap]

Milestone Insights24 August 2016
We have this week's webinar recap ready for you! Our search team hosted an educational 30 minute webinar to discuss the best ways to get your business to rank higher on the search engines and increase your online revenue. This webinar covered topics such as how users search today, the capabilities your website platform should contain for easy indexing by search engines, mobile testing and content, relevant links and directories to allow searchers find your business on and off line, and the impactful updates to make in Google My Business.

Amsterdam startup Hotelchamp banks EUR1.75 million seed investment

Hotelchamp 24 August 2016
Hotelchamp is raking in EUR1.75 million worth of investments. With this first round of funding the Amsterdam-based SaaS-startup can continue its rapid growth and expand its client base. Hotelchamp helps hotels obtaining more bookings through their own websites. The seed investment comes from the founders along with a team of carefully selected angel investors, including a group of entrepreneurs from the hotel- and e-commerce-industry.Hotelchamp advantagesThe smart technology of the Amsterdam startup personalizes hotel websites in real time based on visitor behavior. Thanks to Hotelchamp, hotels are now capable of encouraging and convincing visitors to book a room directly. As a result, hotels will profit from significantly higher conversion rates. This offers advantages to both hotel and their guests, explains CEO and founder Kristian Valk: "Hotels become less dependent on the large booking websites by using our software on their own websites. They will have direct contact with their hotel guests, which makes the entire booking process a lot more personal."Massive chains worldwideHotelchamp's technology is already being used by hotels around the world. Most recently Millennium Hotels signed up to Hotelchamp. This hotel chain has 120 hotels in 79 different cities in Europe, Asia, the United States, the Middle East and New Zealand. Other chains and renowned names, like the Pallazzo Versace in Dubai, the Baros luxury Maldives Resort, Amber Hotels in Germany, as well as Bilderberg Hotels and WestCord Hotels in the Netherlands.Popular with hotelsHotels pay Hotelchamp a fixed amount each month to use its software. The amount depends on the number of rooms they have on offer. Hotels are not required to pay Hotelchamp any fees or commissions for bookings, like they have to do with the existing booking platforms. Growth numbers indicate this model proves to be successful with hotels. Currently the Amsterdam Saas-startup's turnover increases by 77 percent each month. Hotelchamp expects an eightfold increase in subscription fees this year.Carefully selected angel investorsHotelchamp carefully selected the angel investors they approached. Among these are several well-known internet entrepreneurs. Founding partner Investion Venture Capital brings specific expertise and experience in the field of startup acceleration, which helped Hotelchamp to realise its extreme growth in such a short amount of time.Perfect team of investorsValk: "We specifically went looking for a perfect team of investors, consisting of thoroughly experienced experts in fields such as hospitality, e-commerce, media and finance. The fact that we also have three investors from the hotel industry proves that Hotelchamp is catering to an urgent demand in the hospitality industry. Hotels want more control and more direct contact with their customers, and through our technology that has become possible".

Springer-Miller Systems Addresses Growing Luxury Hospitality Technology Market

PAR Springer-Miller 24 August 2016
Springer-Miller Systems (SMS), the leading provider of guest-centric hospitality management systems, today announces the promotion of Robert Selwah to President and Michelle D. Young to Vice President, Sales & Marketing.As President of Springer-Miller Systems, Selwah provides strategic and operational direction for the company's suite of luxury-focused software solutions including the SMS|Host Property Management System and SpaSoft Spa and Wellness Management System.Selwah joined Springer-Miller Systems in 2007 as a Product Development executive with over 15 years of experience managing global software development divisions for KPMG and ACNielsen in Canada. Over the past 9 years, Selwah has led the product, support and professional services operations for Springer-Miller Systems, helping to guide the company through a dramatic renaissance of their luxury resort, hotel and spa software products. As President, Selwah will ensure that Springer-Miller Systems is meeting the hospitality technology needs of high-end properties around the globe.With more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Young leads Springer-Miller's global sales and marketing organization. Young joined the organization in 2010 and she has been focused on providing strategic vision and support to Springer-Miller clients around the globe. Her expertise includes front and back office property management systems, spa systems, point of sale, central reservations, web booking, distribution, and customer relationship management solutions. She has worked for industry leaders such as Panasonic, Lodgistix, Sulcus Hospitality, Wayport, Inc., Hotel Information Systems and SoftBrands/Infor."Rob is a technology visionary who will ensure the vitality of Springer-Miller's products into the future. Michelle's unwavering commitment to our customers will continue to drive the growth of both sales and customer satisfaction," commented Michael McCarthy, CEO of Springer-Miller Systems. "Our vision includes the continued support of our impressive list of SMS|Host and SpaSoft customers with technology enhancements that will take SMS and our customers into the future. These leadership promotions position our organization to achieve incredible growth and customer satisfaction." About Springer-Miller SystemsSince it was founded in 1984 in Stowe, Vermont, Springer-Miller Systems has been an innovator of technology systems for the world's most exclusive hotels, resorts and spas. The SMS|Host(r) Property Management System offers a complete set of fully-integrated modules enabling complex resorts to provide highly personalized guest service from front office to food & beverage to spa to the golf course and more. Springer-Miller's SpaSoft(r) provides a dynamic spa and activities management solution used in more than 70% of the world's Forbes Five Star SpasVisit www.springermiller.com for more information.
Article by Taylor Smariga

6 tips for Combating High Cancellation Rates on OTA Bookings

Net Affinity 24 August 2016
Today's hotel guests are empowered and informed, which in some ways is very positive. However, it has also led to a trend of guests making multiple bookings far in advance, before cancelling ones they decide against just a day or two before their stay dates. High cancellation rates on OTAs or other channels can be a problem for your hotel if you don't have a strategy ready to deal with them.These high cancellation rates can lead to distorted demand levels for hotels, meaning non-optimal rates and lost revenue. Why does this happen, and what are a few quick tips for hotels looking to deal with the effects of these cancellation rates?We've put together a quick guide to help you figure out the causes of higher cancellation rates, followed by some quick tips. Our goal is to help you figure out:Which channels cancellations are coming fromWhat kind of cancellation rates you should expectHow to plan for them and turn cancellations to your advantageThe first thing to realize is that your cancellation rates will be very different for each channel, whether that channel is your brand website, an OTA, over the phone, etc.Where are cancellations coming from?Average lead times tend to be longer on OTAs. This is because their message to the consumer is to book now, even if they're not sure. They encourage guests to reserve a room even when they're still in the 'looking' or 'dreaming' stages of the buying process, with the message that they can take advantage of cancellation policies later.These messages are found explicitly on Booking.com's homepage, for example, and they're peppered throughout the booking process. They're far from alone - Expedia and other OTAs have similar messages:Even if this is in reality the same policy your hotel has on its brand website (free cancellation, no booking fees), these messages have a natural result: long lead bookings through OTAs have a higher cancellation rate than short lead bookings and bookings from other channels.Of course, these trends are going to be slightly different for every individual hotel. It's vital that you evaluate your hotel's own booking patterns - it may be that you get a much larger percentage of cancellations from Expedia instead of Booking.com, or that cancellation messages on your own site are creating a spike of cancellations on your direct bookings.Evaluate your cancellation rates on each channel. When you know where your cancellations are coming from, you can start planning for them. If you're not sure about the source of cancellations, how will you know where to start? When it comes to cancellations, forewarned is forearmed.What kind of cancellation rates should you expect?Our own data is showing us cancellation rates of up to 60% on OTAs across all of our clients. A recent study from Mirai found an average of a 19% cancellation rate on a hotel's brand website, compared to a 39% cancellation rate on Booking.com and a 25% cancellation rate on Expedia over a four month period.That equates to 104% more cancellations on Booking.com than on a hotel website, and Expedia's cancellation rate averages 31% more than the rate on the hotel website. These rates weren't divided on long lead vs short lead bookings, and it's good to keep in mind that bookings with long lead times likely had even higher cancellation rates.Why are cancellations higher on third party channels, and on OTAs in particular? One major reason is the culture of encouraging early bookings, illustrated above. OTAs are encouraging guests to book before they're even sure they'll travel.One of the reasons their encouragement works is inspiration. OTAs spend millions on market research, advertising campaigns and marketing strategies to inspire people to travel.These efforts are reflected on their website and in emails they send, and are extremely effective in encouraging booking - there's definitely room for hotels to take a few leaves from their playbook! However, this inspiration effect can also lead to casual bookings, especially if cancellation is free and guests don't pay in advance.When a guest is booking on a hotel's own website, experience tells us that these guests are generally more committed to the stay: this is reflected in the lower cancellation rate. For example, cancellation rates on our clients own sites are significantly lower than the rates on OTAs, averaging at only 7%. For hotels taking deposits at the source, it's an average cancellation rate of 4%. These guests are more serious bookers, and more likely to follow through on the stay.Even if you recapture a large number of your lost bookings closer to stay dates, it's likely that you're still losing money through cancellations (this all depends on your pricing strategy, of course). So what can you do to stay ahead of potential problems?How can I plan for cancellations?Unusually high cancellation rates have a few serious effects on your hotel's demand forecasting.They can distort hotel demand levels by inflating them to an artificial high. They can also lead to the hotel filling too fast - what kinds of bookings have filled it? Will they cancel later?In this case, when higher-quality demand starts within the usual decision-phase booking window (the time when the guest is no longer browsing or considering: they've made the decision to book), the rate may be too high for these guests or the hotel might appear to be fully booked when, in reality, cancellations from early bookers are just around the corner.When an OTA pushes early bookings and creates the perfect set up for high cancellation rates, they're holding up your hotel's most valuable asset: its inventory.How can hotels manage these bookings and deal with high cancellation rates?Here are a few quick tips to deal with cancellations:Pay attention to what channels are booking and when: monitor your lead times from each channel, online and offline, and figure out how many bookings you're getting through each channelFocus on the cancellation rate on each channel: how many guests actually stayed, compared to those that were forecasted to stay? Keep a record! This will help you track cancellation rates over time and develop a plan of actionConsider more restrictive cancellation policies on channels with larger numbers of cancellations. This will need to be checked against your OTA contracts, but if you're able to reduce cancellations on certain channels with a more restrictive cancellation policy, you'll also be able to reduce uncertainty.Of course, you want to avoid reducing the number of good bookings you get through these channels as well. To make sure a more restrictive policy doesn't affect this, run a trial for a few months before committing.Use overbooking practices: Don't give away the house too early and then close it out - you'll likely be filling too fast, with bookings that are quite likely to be cancelled nearer to the date. Tracking the pace of cancellations by days prior to arrival enables you to determine how overbooked a given date in future should be. It's not enough to have a fixed total number of rooms you overbook by.Reviews Allocation and Free-sale Bookings: If an OTA is operation on an allocation of rooms from you, are you topping this up too far in advance? Is the OTA selling the additional free-sale rooms and holding on to their allocation?Analyse Forecasted versus Actual Demand: Long lead bookings are distorting actual demand levels. When you track your cancellation rates over time, you can predict how many of these are likely to become actual bookings, and adjust your demand levels from there. A forecast is never 100% accurate and will always have some variation from actual demand. The difference between the forecasted demand and actual demand is the Forecast Error - the goal is for the error to be as low as possible. If you're seeing a higher level of error, it may be attributable to the cancellations.ConclusionTake these tips, and have a serious look at your OTA cancellation rate. Cancellation rates that are too high can have a big effect on your revenue. There are techniques, like those outlined above, that you can use to control cancellation rates and recover from high cancellation rates. However, to take advantage of those you need to have a plan.The more you're aware of where your cancellation rates are coming from, the more you'll be able to do to create a plan and stay in control! What techniques do you use to combat high cancellation rates?

IHG(r) Announces Global Partnership with Alipay

IHG 24 August 2016
IHG(r) (InterContinental Hotels Group), one of the world's leading hotel companies, today announces that it has signed a global partnership with Alipay, China's leading third-party online payment solutions company. It makes IHG the first global hotel company to give Chinese guests the ability to pay via Alipay through all of IHG's online and mobile channels, as well as across its full estate of hotels globally.The new partnership, which has been agreed with Alipay's parent company Ant Financial, will initially apply to IHG's existing estate of more than 270 hotels in Greater China, as well as a number of hotels around the world that participate in IHG's China Ready Programme, which offers a range of tailored services to Chinese travellers. The global rollout of Alipay will begin in 2017.IHG was first global hotel company to enter the China market more than 30 years ago and China is now its second largest market globally. The partnership will allow IHG to further capitalise on the significant increase in Chinese outbound travel. According to IHG's Future of Chinese Travel Report published in 2015, nearly 90 million Chinese households will be able to travel overseas by 2023, fuelled by a growing middle class and increasing propensity to travel.Keith Barr, Chief Commercial Officer, IHG commented: "IHG has always been a leader in providing advanced payment solutions to guests through our direct booking channels. We are thrilled to be partnering with Alipay to strengthen our ever-evolving travel experience for our guests globally."Sabrina Peng, Vice President of Ant Financial, commented: "As China's leading online and mobile payment solution provider, Alipay aims to deliver convenient and flexible services to customers. We would like to provide 'a taste of home' for our users when they travel abroad. With IHG's extensive global footprint, this strategic collaboration will help Alipay reach out to more customers, especially Chinese customers as they travel around the world."Emily Chang, Chief Commercial Officer, IHG Greater China, added: "Being able to pay for rooms and services in a familiar payment format is integral to the overall guest experience by ensuring a smooth booking, onsite and checkout process for our guests. Furthermore, via this strategic global partnership with Alipay, we will be exploring opportunities for more in-depth cooperation, including Post Post Pay and the Hotel of the Future Programme, to further improve the booking, onsite and departure experience for our guests."Alipay is currently available in 70 countries and regions across the world. It handles over 160 million transactions every day, of which mobile payments account for more than 70 per cent. To further enhance the user-experience at hotels across China, Alipay is working closely with Alitrip's innovative Hotel of the Future Programme. This programme includes the Post Post Pay product, which enables hotel guests with high credit ratings to make hotel room bookings through Alitrip without paying a deposit at check-in, and to enjoy the true convenience of express check-out.Today's announcement builds on IHG's existing agreement with Alipay. In 2012, IHG became the first global hotel company to launch a flagship e-store on Alitrip at ihg.alitrip.com, China's largest e-trading platform for online tourism services. The same year, IHG began partnering with Alipay to offer the payment solution through IHG's online booking channels for its hotels in China.

Who Is Responsible for Marketing Technology Purchase Decisions?

MarketingProfs·Requires Registration 24 August 2016
The role of the person who is ultimately responsible for deciding which marketing technologies to purchase varies widely from company to company, according to recent research from DataXu.The report was based on data from a survey of 532 marketers who work for companies in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Just over three-quarters (76%) of the marketers surveyed work for companies with 500 or more employees.

Hotels' time for change management is now

Duetto Research Blog24 August 2016
No one could have predicted the way 2016 has turned out, and we're only in August. It was always tipped to be a landmark year for European hoteliers after data from 2015 showed the European market overtake the United States for the first time in terms of RevPAR growth.

Distribution vs Profitability - the future of hotel revenue management | By Kiran Sunny

Hotelogix 24 August 2016
Long periods of market uncertainty are becoming increasingly common in today's highly fragmented industry and hospitality professionals are always on the lookout for better ways to maintain consistent profitability. Revenue management strategies have played a critical role in enabling hotels to cover their operating expenses during periods of low demand. By employing dynamic pricing strategies based on market variables and accurate forecasting, properties began to witness significant improvements in the bottom-line.However, guest trends and spending patterns are subject to a high degree of unpredictability in our current digital landscape. The rapid onset of smartphone technology has seen OTAs capitalize on mobile platforms by offering travelers an unprecedented level of convenience in the form of apps and mobile-optimized websites. Unsurprisingly, the online agencies now dominate a sizeable portion of global distribution. According to data released by the HAMA Study & Kalibri Labs, while industry-wide revenue had witnessed incremental growth over a three-year period, commissions grew twice as fast. In fact, revenue management leaders Duetto recorded customer acquisition costs as high as 40%! In light of these developments, it may be time for revenue managers to modify their approach.Segregating all booking sourcesAlthough it's a fairly common industry practice among revenue managers, general managers and other hotel decision makers; estimating factors like ADR evolution targets and customer acquisition expenses can be costly if there's no objective information to back the projections.Analysis of each of the channels currently in use at the property is the first step to gathering objective data. At most hotels, the prominent channels are OTAs, direct booking centers including the hotel's website and front desk, corporate relationships, and travel agents connected to the GDS.All channels need to be studied for three key metrics:Gross Revenue - The total revenue being generated by each channel for a specific periodCustomer Demographics - The segment of travelers which each channel attracts Channel Costs - The total cost of customer acquisition associated with each channelWith sufficient information on each channel's gross revenue, demographics and cost of acquisition, revenue managers can evaluate the profitability of individual sources and identify areas that need to be prioritized.Measuring the performance of each channelWhile the information gathered by the above channel-wise segregation provides hotels with a clear picture of the profit breakdown, it fails to account for the opportunity costs. Put simply, a profitable scenario could have been significantly improved if certain transactions had taken place on different channels. This is where revenue managers can begin to have problems with the increasingly complexity, although the cutting-edge it can provide a hotel with is worth the effort.This is better illustrated with an example; consider a hypothetical scenario involving a 100-room property Hotel A, with four primary sources of bookings - two OTAs, a direct booking site, and a GDS network. Rooms sell for $100 on all channels.Now we analyze each channel's profitability, OTA 1:Costs - Commission of 25% for each bookingNet profit per room - $75OTA 2:Costs - Commission of 15% for each bookingNet profit per room - $85Hotel website:Costs - SEO, SEM, hosting/subscription expenses $400 ($4/room*)Net profit per room - $96GDS:Costs - Sales and marketing expenses, transaction fees ($10/room*)Net profit per room - $90[*in the most profitable scenario]At first glance, it would appear as though the most profitable channel is the direct booking portal. However, the customer acquisition costs here depend on the final number of rooms sold on the hotel's website for that period. For instance, if Hotel A were to sell 50 rooms through it's website, the costs incurred would be borne by those bookings and the cost of each acquisition would subsequently rise to $8. If this number is too low, costs can rise dramatically.GDS costs can fluctuate too, based on the hotel's objective. Costs will increase in the case of hotels that opt to lower their rates in order to maintain relations with agencies. OTAs tend to provide more stability when it comes to this aspect, albeit at a high cost.Analyzing results and uncovering the opportunity costAlthough it's tempting to focus solely on direct bookings, most hotels simply can't generate the sort of exposure they get through listing on OTAs - these are companies that spend several billion dollars annually on marketing and site optimization. Moreover, online agencies provide hotels with a powerful distribution platform and connect them to specific guest segments, such as last-minute travelers. The key is to uncover the opportunity costs associated with each of the hotel's channels - this allows revenue managers to take informed risks and determine the right blend of distribution and profitability.Once the objective data has been compiled, successful implementation of any strategy cannot take place without a coherent understanding between all the hotel's business units. The team should evaluate each channel's priority and ROI, as well as the customer segment they attract.This is important as certain channels are better suited to certain types of guests - bookings from families and last-minute travelers could be more likely to come from better connected platforms like OTAs while frequent business travelers and returning guests may prefer to book direct. This information enables hotels to improve their targeting by customizing specific emails and packages for different guest segments.Demand generation is a continuous process. Revenue managers need to constantly stay abreast of the latest political, economic and industrial news in order to take those crucial decisions at the right time. However, with the help of objective data and a robust strategy, the task can be significantly simplified.

Running the Marathon: How to Understand and Leverage Customer Experience to Increase Sales

Adobe Digital Marketing24 August 2016
If you are like most CMOs, you periodically find yourself up to your ears in sales data, trying to find some way to meet this quarter's sales goals. All brands want to increase their sales. It's easy to get caught up in digging through your numbers and metrics reports to find ways to increase your revenue and profits year over year.

VivoAquatics Announces Launch of VivoPoint Management System

VivoAquatics 23 August 2016
VivoAquatics, the leader in providing innovative and sustainable aquatic solutions, has just announced the launch of VivoPoint, the industry's first aquatic management system. The platform enables facilities to improve water safety and reduce operating costs while also giving property and executive management the tools to improve overall guest satisfaction.VivoPoint is an advanced "smart" technology platform that automatically sanitizes water while also tracking and monitoring real-time information 24/7 to help property professionals manage swimming pools, spas, fountains, lakes and more. The platform is a unique combination of chemical feeders and a cloud-based system that analyzes the data and sends real time alarms and status reports. In addition, the system allows properties and service providers to automate maintenance operations through record keeping and documentation of equipment specifications and warranty information.VivoPoint was developed through testing with a number of resorts, hotels, multi-family housing REITs, municipalities, fitness clubs and waterparks including those operating under the Marriott, Starwood, Wet'n'Wild and MGM Resorts International brands. Operators and managers face significant challenges in mitigating litigation risk, maintaining compliance with local and federal regulations, reducing costs and resources while simultaneously improving the guest experience. VivoPoint allows operators and managers to more effectively identify and solve these pain points to improve overall profitability."Brands are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per property to manage their aquatic features, and face significant challenges as water becomes more scarce, energy and maintenance costs more costly and guests more demanding," said Willan Johnson, CEO of VivoAquatics. "VivoPoint will automate many of the manual tasks as well provide management with the analytical tools to make more informed decisions.""The launch of VivoPoint is the culmination of testing and development in conjunction with numerous clients and partners," added Maxwell Koby, General Manager of VivoAquatics. "The platform will continue to evolve as we partner with additional clients to solve their needs through expertise and automation.""VivoAquatics and the VivoPoint platform has been a big part of our aquatic success," said Alan Otlo, Director of Engineering at the St. Regis Deer Valley and formerly Director at the Sheraton Kona. "We have used the systems across multiple properties and the platform allows us to save on operating costs and improve the quality of the water, while the remote monitoring allows our team to pre-empt any issues."With a focus on reducing liability and increasing operational efficiency, VivoAquatics regulates safety and improves the guest experience with a complete online pool management system as well as fully automated chemical dosing systems. Experts in aquatic care, VivoAquatics strives to find innovative solutions through sustainable practices and provides services such as energy saving assessments, quality control support, remote monitoring, remodeling and full operational support with state-of-the-art systems. The brand maintains quality and staff proficiency with onsite installations and dedicated service and staff training, and works in partnership with leading hospitality brands such as St. Regis, Westin, Ritz Carlton, W Hotel and Sheraton.For more information on VivoAquatics, please visit http://www.vivoaquatics.com.###

The History of Direct Bookings [Infographic]

Triptease 23 August 2016
As we prepare for the upcoming Direct Booking Summit on September 13-14, we've taken a look at the history of direct bookings and all of the key events that helped shape this movement.

Internet Moguls gets the Digital Mandate for Ramee Group of Hotels

Internet Moguls 23 August 2016
Internet Moguls, a 360-degree strategic digital solutions company has been announced as an official Digital Marketing Agency for Ramee Group of Hotels. Presently, the Ramee Group operates 42 hotels, resorts and apartments in India, UAE, Oman and Bahrain. Internet Moguls, on the other hand, is the digital marketing agency for the hospitality industry and helps its clients to drive its revenues through digital techniques. As an official digital marketing agency, Internet Moguls will handle all the digital services that includes Website Designing & Development, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Online Reputation Management to Email Marketing and much more. Moreover, it will also take 'digital hospitality' training classes to impart digital marketing knowledge to its hotel partner.Commenting on their alliance, Mr. V.M ( Raj) Shetty, United Arab Emirates - Chairman & Managing Worker - Ramee Group of Hotels & Resorts said, "Seeing as this is an era defined by rapid incremental digitalisation, we actively sought out an agency that thoroughly understands the industry and has expertise in their field of work. In the span of 7 years, Internet Moguls has ecxelled in their quality of work and have found themselves serving leading brands in the hospitality industy. We chose to partner with them exclusively for our chain-wide digital marketing needs based on their expertise and their highly passionate dedication to their clients. We are pleased to have them as our partners, and by combining their digital know-how and our services, we hope to grow our businesses in tandem while accelerating growth and development".Speaking on the same, Mr. Avijit Arya, Chief Mogul at Internet Moguls and host of the #AskAviAryaShow added, "Winning the digital mandate from a big chain like Ramee Group is indeed an achievement for Internet Moguls. This win restates Internet Moguls credentials with regards to a full-service, cutting-edge digital marketing agency. We have planned some interesting creativities for the brand which would deliver positive results for Ramee Group. We are clear with our thoughts and ideas and are sure that this association will be another value addition for both Ramee Ground and Internet Moguls". About Ramee Group of HotelsRamee Group of Hotels, Resorts & Apartments and the Ramee Group of Companies is the brainchild of Mr. V.M ( Raj) Shetty, Chairman, and Managing Worker. It is the vision of the Chairman to diversify into products and services related to the hotel industry. Ramee Group of Hotels, Resorts & Apartments is a multi-national group currently operates and manages 42 properties in the excellent standards mid-market segment as hotels, resorts and apartments in UAE, Bahrain, Oman, and India. Each year, the company has to go a step ahead and adding and acquiring more hotels under the portfolio. Besides offering quality accommodation at the hotels, the group also specializes in restaurants as well as in live entertainment and has established and expanded some of the well-known brands of today. Ruka Lounge, Rock Bottom Cafe, Bollywood Cafe, Mirchi, Elegant Beauty Salon have created waves in their respective markets internationally. The group employs more than 5000 employees from 15 countries across the globe having global management and marketing expertise on the other side of the table. About Internet Moguls:Internet Moguls is Asia's largest hotel marketing corporation, founded by Avijit Arya in 2009 with an aim to bring digital revenues when the term never existed. Internet Moguls works closely with hotels to help them drive revenue through strategic digital marketing tools, technology integration and revenue channels. The company offers end-to-end digital solutions and provides services from Website Designing and Development, Online Reputation Management, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) , SEM to Email Marketing and much more. So far, the company has served credible names in the hospitality industry like Al Diar Hotels, Dunes Hotels Howard Johnson Hotels, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Lemon Tree Hotels, Radisson Blu, Ramada, The Imperial, New Delhi, Sayaji Hotels, The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Crowne Plaza Hotels to name a few.Internet Moguls also takes specialized 'Digital Hospitality' training classes to impart knowledge about Digital Marketing to hotels. The company has a strong partner network in Europe, North America & Canada and is working towards strengthening its reach in South East Asia & GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Rising Demand for APAC Hotels to Provide Mobile Charging Stations

Kube Systems 23 August 2016
Kube Systems APAC region distributor Ming Fai has announced tech-savvy hotel guests to be the main growth driver of demand for Kube Systems and LinkTechtm branded mobile charging products."Kube Systems' products are receiving an excellent response from hotels seeking a mobile device charging solution for their guests," said Ming Fai Marketing Director Tracy So. "Many leading brands such as Marriott, LanghamHong Kong, Four Seasons Macau, and Conrad Macau and Beijing are requesting these solutions. While we offer other charging products, none compare to the LinkTechtm Clock and Kube 5 Portable when it comes to convenience and service."According to So, three factors contribute to the demand for mobile device charging across APAC:1. Even with high-capacity batteries, the growing desire for connected experiences, such as checking email, browsing the web, using navigation tools and posting to social media quickly depletes the charge. Today's connected guests expect access to convenient mobile device charging everywhere they go.2. Business travelers are packing multiple intelligent devices; that means having to remember to bring multiple power cords. In the true spirit of hospitality, hotels need to provide charging solutions that power ALL types of mobile devices conveniently... at speeds comparable to wall outlets ... and keep the devices charged for a sufficient time.3. Hotel guests want an in-room experience that includes listening to their personal music and powering multiple devices at the same time all within close proximity to each other and without a lot of clutter at the bedside."With the advancement of today's mobile charging technology and intellectualized design, Kube Systems is positioned to provide hotel guests with amazing experiences by solving the increasing problem of forgotten charging cables," So said. "Furthermore, hotels are providing a value-added service by alleviating guests' anxiety when they lose battery power at exactly the wrong time. For these reasons and many others, we are excited for the penetration of the LinkTechtm Clock and the Kube 5 Portable into the Asia Pacific market, and we are honored to serve as the authorized distributor of Kube Systems in this territory."Dave Weinstein, Kube Systems vice president, concurs."Kube Systems greatly values its distribution partnership with Ming Fai," Weinstein said. "This group is a preferred supplier for all aspects of the hospitality and service industries. Not only does Ming Fai deliver high quality and trusted 5-star solutions, but they pride themselves on building long-term relationships through exceptional customer service to many internationally renowned hotel brands. Our solutions are growing quickly across APAC, and we owe it all to Ming Fai. We look forward to announcing several new LinkTechtm and Kube 5 customers in 2016 and beyond."About Ming Fai GroupMing Fai is the distributor for Kube Systems and LinkTech branded charging products in Greater China including Hong Kong and Macau, Singapore and Malaysia. The agreement includes distribution of new Kube 5 and LinkTech products, upgrades and spare parts. Under the agreement Ming Fai will also become the primary provider of service support in the covered regions. To see the wide portfolio of hotel solutions available through the Ming Fai Group, visit www.mingfaigroup.com.

ALICE Brings its ALICE Suite Platform to Hotel Des Trois Couronnes, a Leading Hotel in the Heart of Europe

ALICE 23 August 2016
ALICE, info.aliceapp.com, announced that the Hotel Des Trois Couronnes, Vevey Switzerland, has adopted ALICE Suite - a SaaS solution that completely connects the guest to the hotel, and connects all service departments within a hotel.ALICE Suite now drives guest engagement as well as back of the house efficiencies for dozens of hotels in Europe and North America thanks to the immediate benefits it provides hoteliers - helping them respond to guest requests more efficiently, generate ROI from ancillary services, build more positive guest reviews, and achieve cost savings at the same time.Hotel Des Trois is the first European Leading Hotel of the World to utilize ALICE Suite, which it discovered at a seminar on technology innovation and the hotel industry at Leading's headquarters in Manhattan earlier this summer."We are happy to announce our partnership with ALICE, which brings a complete service platform for our guests, tailored to our property's specific needs," said Jay Gauer, General Manager at Hotel Des Trois Couronnes. "We appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the latest innovations at the Leading seminar in New York earlier this summer, and look forward to a long and productive relationship with ALICE as we deliver the best guest service possible using the most innovative solutions available."Alex Shashou, ALICE's Co-Founder and President who addressed the group of Leading hoteliers, added, "We are thrilled to bring ALICE's comprehensive platform to this amazing hotel, to bring a hotel with little technology into the modern era of hotel operations - connecting all points within the hotel to simplify staff communication and make them more cost-effective. We appreciate the opportunity to work with Hotel Des Trois Corounnes, with Leading Hotels of the World, and look forward to even faster adoption of our solutions by distinctive properties throughout the world."ALICE offers a multi-tiered suite of solutions for hotels:ALICE Suite - an end-to-end system that allows hotels to run on one platform, connecting guests with the hotel, and all service departments within the hotel to one another - fully incorporating all of the individual ALICE solutions listed below.ALICE Staff - a complete, easy to use request management software that connects front-desk, housekeeping, maintenance and F&B teams in real-time, providing quick and simple ticket management, monitoring for completion time, and real-time mobile app for service staff on the move.ALICE Concierge - a tool to keep the concierge team organized and to connect the concierge and the guest instantly and seamlessly, providing guests with instant responses to requests - and saving the concierge time and effort in meeting those requests.ALICE Guest - innovative guest facing Mobile, Web and SMS tools, integrated to allow a full range of guest communication and functionality, pre-arrival and on property - including ordering services, real-time chat, and upselling.ALICE is available as a stand-alone solution, and is also fully integratable with PMS, POS, and all other third party management systems.Fore more information, visit info.aliceapp.com.****About ALICEALICE, info.aliceapp.com, has created the first complete communication, cost savings and revenue generation operations platform for hotels, which enhances the guest experience and connects all points within the hotel to simplify guest service - and make it more cost-effective. ALICE SUITE, which brings together the ALICE Staff, ALICE Concierge and ALICE Guest products into a single platform, allows hotels to connect guests, staff and hotel operations teams quickly and easily, via an easy to use and integrate suite of Mobile, Web and SMS tools.ALICE was founded in 2014, and received a $9.5million Series A investment in 2015. It is gaining rapid traction in its mission to help hotel operators and owners leverage innovative technology to create happier guests, and more efficient and effective operations teams. Its products are in place at dozens of branded and boutique hotels across the country.###

Don't let the sun go down

By Tammy Farley
With hotel room inventories increasing but opportunities to book groups in decline, hotels must become more competitive when it comes to maximizing their potential group revenues. To do this, as Tammy Farley of Rainmaker writes, they must be able to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to leads.

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