Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference
November 14–15, 2017
Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference
April 11–13, 2018
RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre
Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference
June 26-29, 2018
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 22 June 2017
Attendees at this year's HITEC in Toronto, Canada will be introduced to the latest inspiring innovations from hospitalityPulsetm, a leading provider of next-generation technology solutions for the hotel industry. hospitalityPulse will be unveiling its Internet Booking Engine (IBE) which complements the use of its FIRE (Feature Inventory Response Engine) solution. This new IBE is offered to FIRE users at no charge.pulseBooker enables several unique features that enhance the overall implementation of FIRE. As with most transactional products, pulseBooker will have built-in personalization options including color, logo, and branding available free to FIRE customers. For even more customization, and as with all hospitalityPulse's systems, all of FIRE's web services are built as Open APIs, making it incredibly easy to integrate and implement. According to company CEO, Pierre Boettner, an interactive self-service SDK will be released later this year, and pulseBooker is first to reveal some features of ICE (Intelligent Commerce Engine) that is planned to for release in 2018.Some of the features and benefits of pulseBooker are:trueAvailabilitytm of rooms and featureshotels can increase guest satisfaction by letting them 'assemble' the perfect room for their personalized staymonetization of room assets/yield to the roompowerful personalization options, including contextual amenitiesin sync with roomPulse, automating and ensuring fulfillment of booked featureschanges the paradigm of what it means to book a hotel room (Buy/Sell room features)optimizes monetization of hotel assetsroomPulse also maximizes fulfillment of feature requests from other channelshospitalityPulse will also be showcasing their flagship solution, roomPulse, a revolutionary cloud solution engineered to ensure hoteliers assign rooms based on reservation requirements and room availabilities, resulting in optimal upgrades being granted to the right guests. The highpoint of the conference this year will be the launch of FIRE, which uses predictive future room assignments to ensure what guests are offered to book online, also is what they can expect to receive when they arrive at the hotel. Communication with the property based system using roomPulse enables a highly personalized booking path for each guest, allowing them to select their desired room type, room attributes and features they are willing to pay more for, providing competitive differentiation from other hotel booking experiences currently dominating the market."We couldn't be more excited about launching our next wave of transformative solutions at HITEC, one of the premier gathering places for the hospitality industry's most visionary leaders," said Boettner. "With the addition of pulseBooker and FIRE to roomPulse, hospitalityPulse is solving some of the longest-standing pain points for hoteliers, and changes the paradigm in hotel room distribution."HITEC attendees and media are invited to come by booth #208 to meet with the hospitalityPulse team and view live demos of one of the industry's most innovative platforms.To learn more visit hospitalitypulse.com.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 14 June 2017
hospitalityPulsetm, a leading provider of next-generation technology solutions for the hotel industry, has announced plans to unveil FIREtm, the Feature Inventory Response Engine at HITEC(r), the world's largest hospitality technology show. During the conference, which takes place in Toronto from June 26-29, 2017, the hospitalityPulse team will showcase how its disruptive technology is transforming how guests shop for hotel rooms and enabling hotels to accurately sell by room features."Guest expectations are high - and our solutions help hotels to meet and exceed those expectations," explains CEO of hospitalityPulse Pierre Boettner. "Hotels are demanding better ways to differentiate themselves to drive tangible results, and our solutions like FIRE are designed to help operators continually evolve their capabilities to extract even greater value from their property assets and amenities to give guests what they want. HITEC offers the perfect platform to showcase the power of FIRE and our latest innovations to the hospitality community."FIRE enables picking the relevant room attributes and features guests want, and the booking path to be highly personalized to each individual guest. FIRE empowers hoteliers to permit only booking of rooms and room features that are truly available for the requested stay dates. By determining in real-time how to best assign all future bookings, the remaining inventory is what corresponds to the trueAvailabilitytm at the hotel. Because every feature can be priced according to value and demand, it naturally increases revenues while providing the simplest, fastest, and most intuitive booking experience.High lights of FIRE include :FIRE mirrors the shopping habits of people when they purchase items online (i.e. Amazon) and now enables hotels to sell combinations of room features, rather than choices of room categories.It eliminates the dilemma between more choices and better online conversion.Guests can shop for the experience they want--adding features to a shopping cart and getting more of exactly what they desire.The technology guarantees guests will receive the features and room they booked when they check in.Moreover, this technology eliminates the tedious daily work of manual room assignment and house balancing.Boettner elaborates, "The proper implementation of room allocation software in concert with a hotel's direct booking channel decreases operating costs and enables hoteliers to achieve a significantly higher fulfillment rate of room feature and bed type requests. That leads to higher guest satisfaction, having a significant impact on review scores, ADR, loyalty, and ancillary revenues. Our technology even recognizes guests who book direct vs. third-party channels like OTAs, and hoteliers may reward direct bookers with the best rooms, which ultimately leads to more direct bookings and less commission to third parties. Selling features is the future. Give your guests what they want."hospitalityPulse is a visionary company founded in 2013 by hospitality industry veterans and technologists with a passion for fixing the costly and troublesome issues plaguing hotels and their guests. Their flagship solution, roomPulse, is a revolutionary cloud solution engineered to ensure hoteliers assign rooms based on reservation requirements and room availabilities, resulting in more optimal upgrades being granted to the right guests.Hosted each year by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), HITEC is a well-known, global event with its North American show gathering over 6,000 attendees from around the world, and presenting the latest hospitality technology products and services from over 400 companies - this trade show is the most comprehensive showcase of hospitality technology. Conference attendees are invited to experience live demonstrations of hospitalityPulse's full spectrum of product innovations at the company's booth #208 in the exposition hall.To learn more visit hospitalitypulse.com.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 31 May 2017
The retail industry is presently innovating at a rapid pace. Traditional big box stores like Walmart are buying cutting-edge online retailers like Jet.com solely to provide a better buying experience. Physical retail spaces are reconsidering their entire purpose because the offline and online experiences are shifting. Some previously online-only retailers are creating stores, while traditional stores are creating experiences like wine bars and DJs. Why? Because many of the same products can be purchased anywhere - so they are in a daily fight 'for their lives'. For hotels, the situation is a bit different. Distribution technology remains fundamentally unchanged since the times when GDS was the only option in the distribution space. These systems, originally built to sell seats on flights, became the basis on which all distribution technology is based. To this day, we continue selling hotels rooms, as if, like on a plane, everyone arrives and leaves at the exact same time, all rooms are ready to accommodate all guests at one predetermined time, and each guest occupies exactly one unit. This overly simplified view of a hotel's business allowed rapid growth in electronic distribution, but as it grew, these very significant differences also created a need for ever more workarounds and manual processes, to get the guest into a room that she can actually occupy for the duration of her stay, and that corresponds to her desires expressed at booking.Disruption has become synonymous with technology, but disruption is much more than that. Disruption is reconsidering what we offer and how we offer it. Disruption is a response to the marketplace - and the marketplace says that consumers don't shop around anymore. Consumers today are well educated about what they want, and they know how to find what it is they want when they want it. So it becomes of utmost importance to pick them up right there, the very moment they have decided to make the purchase. Instead of choosing a retailer, they choose the best path to getting precisely what they want. They choose the path that is sure to give them what they want without risk of defect, the one that will deliver quickly, or the one that makes returns simplest.Before you dismiss these retail examples as irrelevant to hotels, remember that Airbnb and HomeAway are busy right now taking a bite out of hotel revenues - and it's not just because travelers like home stays. These travelers know the experience they want, and these platforms are serving up clear choices in a format that travelers like.So what do they get when they shop on a hotel website? They get a choice between two beds or one bed, and between several price classes. Most travelers have enough experience to know they may not even end up with what they selected when they arrive.What will it take to renovate the shopping experience for hotel guests? Recognition that we have a problem, of course. The proper response to fix the problem is to give hotel guests genuine choices during the booking process; choices that we know, we will deliver to them when they arrive at the hotel. Delivering inventory in a way that allows guests more control over their experience. This should be the industry's primary focus.And the latest innovation from hospitalityPulse FIRE does this. FIRE stands for Feature Inventory Response Engine, and it means that guests can shop and buy features that they expect during their stay. This is not (yet another) fancy way to make an easier selection into a room type they may or may not end up in. It means they can buy a view, a bathtub or a shower, a balcony, a high floor, a low floor, and so forth. In a way, it is the return to selling individual bedrooms, without the effect of fracturing inventory and leaving lots of potential empty. Guests can shop for the experience they want--adding features to a shopping cart and getting more of exactly what they desire. Moreover, this technology guarantees they will receive it when they check in.Transforming the buying experience is a natural next step for the hotel industry that has exhaustively tried to figure out how to be more appealing to guests. Start with giving them more of what they want from the very beginning. Shift the focus from social lobbies and cocktail hours to giving them choices about the product they came to buy--their accommodations and the attributes and amenities they want.Be on the lookout for our big orange booth (because it's the color of FIRE, of course) to take a tour of a truly disruptive booking platform at HITEC 2017 in Toronto.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 3 May 2017
When I think about how simple it is to fill up an Amazon cart with a million things, big and small, I am confounded at how we have limited ourselves to just a few options for booking a hotel room. You select a category, a pre-determined assembly of key room features, offered at a price. Distinct views, corner rooms, the high floor, and so many more features that have true value to many guests are relegated to either find their way into such a category - or they can only be given away for free. Adding extra services such as breakfast, or the occasional massage, some even try selling teddy bears, towels, and bathrobes; that is about as creative as we get when it comes to the use of shopping carts. Yet, we want to inspire them - get them excited and delighted. These are not inspiring choices. And, let's be honest. There are no guarantees their preferences will be delivered. All too frequently, travelers are disappointed when they arrive onsite to find out there are no more king-size beds available, or that their preference of being on a high floor could not be accommodated.This way of booking hotel rooms goes against everything that travelers want. They want control, and we are wrongly assuming that giving them the ability to do everything on a mobile device will fulfill that desire. It will help, no doubt. However, what will set one property apart from the next is the ability to drop features into a shopping cart; choosing a hotel room based on a whole different spectrum of options than they've ever been offered before.Like Goldman, we can look at our current situation and identify a problem. The market is competitive; supply continues to increase, and occupancy is beginning to shrink. How can we give travelers more of what they want in order to drive up occupancy and rates? Creating the desire to stay at your property is a starting point, and it begins with giving them something besides "double, non-smoking" as a choice when booking. Instead, we can directly offer them to book the room features they care about. Instead of having to choose among dozens of categories to find one that best fits their needs, and then hoping the 'Away from elevator' and King bed' requests will be honored, what if travelers are simply offered the choices that correspond to their desires? Guests could choose their view in as much or as little detail as you want. They could drop a balcony into their cart, if available. They could choose their floor: high, low, mid. The features functionality can go as far as you want. Add a bottle of wine or a choice of bathroom amenities to make it even more compelling. Each of these opportunities to make a personal selection also has the potential to move the guest to buying decisions, without ever having to leave the dream phase. Many of these features are also quantifiable, while in today's flows, they aren't capitalized on. Many guests gladly pay extra for the guaranteed bed type, floor, or view. And once committed to "the dream" of their stay, they are less likely to change their mind.Intelligent technology allows hotels to offer these opportunities. It encourages guests to book with you, because you've given them more of what they want, and it increases loyalty when guests can select the exact amenities and conveniences they care about, and that are geared to the purpose of their stay. Making this experience, and consistently delivering on it - that is what creates loyalty. This last point can't be overstated. We are in an era of declining loyalty. According to a 2016 JD Power survey, every succeeding generation is less likely to be a member of a rewards program, and it's safe to say that every succeeding generation desires more control, too (JD Power).Being more competitive in selling hotel rooms is about more than distribution channels and Google rank. Guests know how to search for the kind of place they want, and most will go to great effort to find it. According to Google, a typical traveler has over 700 digital touch points while planning a trip. This includes 52 Google searches, and eight different accommodation brands considered before booking (Think with Google). When it comes down to deciding between hotel A and hotel B, travelers care about a lot more than just price point. They care more about relevant choices and designing their own experience than they do about saving $20. The opportunity to capture travelers is right there in the empty shopping cart space that hotels have not begun to use. Yet.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 11 April 2017
Perhaps it was the surreal location that inspired it, but last week as we introduced pulseLink at the Atlantis resort in Dubai, I had a moment of clarity about how hotels change processes. As we watched the staff navigate the nascent stages of using a new tool--a tool that will make them more efficient and effective at their jobs--I noticed their resistance. Some staff wanted to go around the new system, straight to the PMS. I've seen this desire to bypass a new tool or system before, and not just with room allocation. It happens with plenty of systems that engage with the PMS. As I observed this typical behavior, I thought of Nash Equilibrium.Nash equilibrium is part of an abstract game theory developed by economist John Forbes Nash. Nash, who received the Nobel Prize in 1994 for his pioneering work on game theory, reached popular fame for his lifelong struggle with schizophrenia, depicted in the critically acclaimed movie A Beautiful Mind. Nash theorized that when equilibrium is reached it means that no one person can achieve a higher payoff by deviating strategy. I like the following example of rush hour traffic.There are two main arteries that connect Point A and Point B. Outside rush hour it takes 20 minutes to get from A to B. During rush hour it takes 90 minutes. To alleviate rush hour traffic, the state builds a new highway with the capacity of both existing arteries combined. With the new road in place, the state expects that rush-hour traffic from A to B will be reduced to 45 minutes.The new highway opens, everyone gets on it, and rush-hour traffic takes 2 hours. For weeks, it seems the highway is a failure, and the public proclaims the government is inefficient and ineffective. Months later, however, it takes 45 minutes to get from point A to point B, but no one notices the shift.What happened? The optimal solution is for traffic to distribute itself across all available options. When there were just two arteries, all drivers had their preferred highway, but when there was a new highway, everyone migrated to it. Then they got frustrated, and everyone went back to their old preference, yielding the same results. Even more frustrating, they start testing a different road every day, at times clogging it beyond relief. After several months of trying different highways, the drivers settle into new habitual paths. They choose one of the three roads knowing they are all equally bad at times. When commuters pick one road, traffic settles into a pattern where all navigation options result in approximately the same travel time. No one can gain from switching strategies at this point: Nash equilibrium.What does this have to do with hotels? Agents steal each other's rooms all the time in the PMS because it shows all rooms to everyone. Multiple agents pick the same room. The only one who ultimately gets it is the first to click the check-in button on the screen.Then we come along to introduce pulseLink, a solution that should alleviate this problem immediately and improve the way rooms are allocated. However, there is a forbidden bypass, the PMS.Let's say there are four check-ins for two rooms. The inevitable outcome is that two guests must be queued. Agents 1 and 2 are first to click pulseLink. The room is reserved for 90 seconds. Agents 3 and 4 are instructed to queue the guests. Instead, however, Agents 3 and 4 use the forbidden path--going straight to the PMS. The outcome is exactly the same: two guests get rooms, two guests are queued, and everyone is frustrated with the result. Agents 1 and 2 complain that pulseLink doesn't work because it offers rooms that they can't use to check in the guest. Agents 3 and 4 claim pulseLink doesn't work because it doesn't offer a room that they can clearly see in the PMS.The possible outcomes are:1). That they all discontinue using pulseLink and revert to old processes, or2). They continue using pulseLink until they realize that the biggest benefit is when they all get on board with the tool and quit using the forbidden PMS path, regardless of what it shows.I see this problem in hotels a lot. Hotels invest money and time in a tool to improve processes. However, there are problems. Some people believe that they benefit if they don't use the tool or if they go around it, and because of this, those who adopted it think it doesn't work. And you have disgruntled people, and your processes have actually gotten worse, at least until everyone adopts. As my team worked with the staff at the Atlantis, I realized our job is to encourage adoption and build confidence among the front office staff, as much as it is to teach them how to use it.Maybe it's human nature to want to go around the new process in the (perceived) interest of personal gain. Can we go straight to a new, more efficient process without staff staying stuck in old patterns? I don't know, but maybe Nash equilibrium can offer a format for explaining that it benefits everyone when a new process is uniformly adopted. At the very least, it gives executives and managers an understanding of why the process seems to get worse before it gets better and can help navigate the resistance with more equanimity.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 8 March 2017
The average nightly rate for a hotel room in Nashville last year was $261. In Boston, the average was $257. For the average four-night stay in either destination, a guest invests over $1,000 without anything to show for it but a tiny bottle of shampoo and good memories.Know what else costs $1,000? A brand-new, stainless-steel refrigerator. And if the store delivered the wrong one, would they shrug their shoulders like a front desk agent? Of course not. They would take it back and bring the right one. The same goes for any other major purchase. In fact, I wouldn't buy a product with a $1,000 price tag without some guarantee that the company would deliver the exact item with nary a ding nor scratch.How is it then that every day, the hotel industry delivers the wrong product to many of their guests--telling guests when they arrive that the room type or features they requested are no longer available? There are two issues at play. The first is that hotels have come to consider themselves synonymous with service. Of course, a hotel is only as nice as its staff however, it's more complicated than that. Hotels require product + service in equal measure. Having focused so much on service as of late, hotels have chalked product to social lobbies and WiFi rather than focusing on delivering guests the requested room--the actual product. Think of the money and time that is spent driving guests to the brand's website, only to knowingly accept that some will be disappointed in the end.The reason for this is located in the second issue: technology. Hotels haven't had the technology to bridge the disconnect between distribution and allocation. It is this divide that has created the rift between what travelers buy and what they get when they arrive.If what they receive when they arrive is anything but the room that was reserved with the features that were reserved, those good memories are already compromised, and they have only your hotel to point to, even if they booked through a third-party.Hotels act as though there is no solution. "I'm sorry, the King on the high floor that you reserved? It is impossible tonight. We do our best to guarantee your reservation, but we aren't able to control this."But it is not impossible. And making it so requires dealing with this issue long ahead of check-in, dealing with it at the point of the reservation.It is now entirely possible to guarantee a guest the room type they purchase with the features they request--and to guarantee it no matter where the guest books. By using predictive future room assignments, hotels can ensure that whether the guest books on an OTA, a CVB, via metasearch, or any other third party, she will receive the room she booked. Using this intelligent technology, the studio suite with a view is shown during the booking process only if it is available, and it is allocated upon the reservation instead of the morning of arrival.To do so, the technology communicates with the hotel PMS, enabling the booking path to be highly personalized. This means guests can select the relevant room type as well as room attributes and features and receive the product they ordered.Hotels have succeeded in not delivering on their product promise for so long that guests have little trust that they will receive the requested room. Why else would "travel insiders" repeatedly suggest that guests call ahead to the hotel if they'll be late or if it's "really important." (To which I say, "When is it not important?") And the notion that a guest should have to call ahead after already having reserved their room is preposterous. However, because the industry has been without proper allocation resources for so long, those early adopters that are able to truly guarantee the guest's room and features will have a competitive edge until the industry catches up.It's not magic; it's technology. And it is possible. Nashville Hotel Rates Ranked Highest in US. Tennessean. October 2016.
hospitalityPulse Debuts FIRE, the Hotels Industry's First Feature Inventory Response Engine at ITB Berlin 2017
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 28 February 2017
Attendees at this year's ITB Berlin will be introduced to the latest cutting-edge innovations from hospitalityPulsetm, a leading provider of next-generation technology solutions for the hotel industry. hospitalityPulse will be showcasing a range of products that decrease operational costs, increase guest satisfaction and help hoteliers drive incremental revenues including roomPulsetm, PulseLinktm, PulseQueuetm, PulseMobiletm and FIREtm.The event, which takes place from March 8th to 12th, is recognized as the global travel industry's leading trade show and convention attracting over 10,000 companies from 187 countries and 180,000 visitors. "ITB provides us with an excellent opportunity to share the exciting things we're developing in the hotel technology space," said Pierre Boettner, CEO of hospitalityPulse. "We are setting out to solve two of the most significant problems in the lodging industry; room assignment on-property and the inherent deficiencies related to the distribution of rooms and what guests receive upon arrival at the hotel. We are thrilled to launch FIRE and look forward to introducing all of our game-changing solutions to the global travel community."hospitalityPulse is a visionary company founded in 2013 by hospitality industry veterans and technologists with a passion for fixing the costly and troublesome issues plaguing hotels and their guests. Their flagship solution, roomPulse, is a revolutionary cloud solution engineered to ensure hoteliers assign rooms based on reservation requirements and room availabilities, resulting in more optimal upgrades being granted to the right guests. The highlight of the show will be the unveiling of the company's latest innovation FIRE (Feature Inventory Response Engine). Developed to combat distribution issues, FIRE uses predictive future room assignments to ensure what guests are offered to book online, also is what they can expect to receive when they arrive at the hotel. Communication with the property based system using roomPulse enables the booking path to be highly personalized to each guest, allowing them to select the relevant room type, room attributes and features they want, providing competitive differentiation from other hotel booking experiences currently dominating the market.ITB attendees and media are invited to come by Hall 8.1 booth 124a to meet with the hospitalityPulse team and view live demos of the innovative platform.To learn more visit hospitalitypulse.com.About hospitalityPulsehospitalityPulse was designed by hotel technology and operations veterans tackling one of the most difficult problems hotels are facing: room assignment and its direct effect on guest satisfaction. Our patent-pending optimization algorithms, combined with an intuitive user interface enable hoteliers to assign the optimal room for every guest, every time, with consistent efficiency. Using the multi-dimensional FIRE engine, hoteliers can rely on providing the booker with the trueAvailabilityTM of room and feature combinations on the dates selected. roomPulse dynamically optimizes each room assignment in real time, all the time. Visit us at www.hospitalitypulse.com.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 15 February 2017
The hotel industry thinks it has this issue figured out--the one of room assignments, that is. I am here to tell you that it does not. Far from it in fact, and guests notice in a big way. For those guests who don't get the right room, it is ruining their experience from the get-go.Let's first just be clear, reset the dial. We talk a lot about what travelers want. They want free Wi-Fi, the best guest service, mobile check-in, and so on. However, we're getting so wrapped up with these things that we've lost sight of what they truly came for. First and foremost, what travelers need from a hotel is a place to sleep that feels comfortable and safe. A pillow on the bed size they want in the room size they specified. They need the room that they need, the one that they requested because they requested it for a reason. I can't overstate the importance of this. Someone asking for a King bed isn't a luxury request; it is a very real and significant obligation for your hotel to deliver upon at the most basic level. And guests are at your mercy for that. The very least you can do is deliver on the fundamentals.Unfortunately, hotels are not delivering. In our "2016 Check-in Experience Survey," we found that only 5% of guests are given the room they request on a regular basis. A shocking 95% said they only "sometimes" are assigned the anticipated room. Our research shows that misalignment in the systems that handle room allocations occurs approximately 60% of the time.The process is broken, and the break begins in the booking process. With so many technologies at play in distribution, few of which are truly integrated, there are bound to be missteps, but this is a particular area where we need to solve for mistakes. The first line of defense is ensuring as much technological integration as possible, but this is a challenge for the industry at large, one that is going to require a near-political movement. The second step is to leverage technology with a seamless interface that displays room types and features availability in real time. This technology needs to eliminate the "special requests" text box, because honestly when was the last time you put a note in that text box and actually got the bottle of wine you requested, or checked the box for a foam pillow and received it? These are regularly overlooked issues. That said, only part of the problem is human error; most of the problem is technology.Leaving room allocation to be handled by the Front Desk as a pre-registration task creates unnecessary problems. Room allocations, along with special requests, can and should be happening during the booking process, in real time on the hotel website, and guests should feel confident that they are guaranteed their chosen room.If you think this is a small issue when it comes to guest satisfaction, think again. Look at these reviews.Allocating the wrong room has very real and costly ramifications. Note that two of these reviews focus entirely on having been dealt the wrong room. In these cases, it appears that the room allocation process wholly ruined a guest's stay. Which then became a bad review, which then affected your reputation, which has far-reaching effects on your ability to achieve optimal rates and earn new business.Poor reviews are just one among the costly issues associated with room allocation problems. Perhaps your hotel is savvier at managing guest disappointment in the event that their chosen room type is not available. Typically this looks like offering an upgrade (read: lost revenue potential) and potentially disappointing a loyalty member who would have been in line for that upgrade. I can only imagine this is the case when considering that the vast majority of respondents who identify as loyalty guests say they "sometimes" get a better room assignment than a non-member. Shouldn't this say "often" if not "always"?Reading the spate of trends pieces for this year, we have learned that, among other things, guests are looking for high design even in mid-scale hotels. They want it "to look good, and feel good," says Skift. That's all well and good, but if they don't get the room they want, the hotel's aesthetic is going to matter a whole lot less. We need to go back to the basics as an industry, so that we can first meet guests' needs, we need to be able to deliver mobile check-in that works and deliver products and services on-property to ensure guest satisfaction then maybe we can hire notables to design our spaces.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 7 November 2016
Spending for hotel IT has hit an all-time high in 2016, and experts are predicting that many of the systems that already have high adoption rates are also on schedule for an upgrade in the coming year. While much of the focus lies on new CRM and mobile solutions, it is easy to forget how a perfectly customized hotel stay can be easily spoiled. Be it due to category overbooking or last minute inventory changes, a hotel can quickly find itself unable to assign the best room for each guest.A new technology that needs to be on hoteliers' radar - and placed into their 2017 budgets - is one that takes the guesswork out of room assignment. An automated room-allocation solution optimizes the room assignment for every guest - every time - with consistent efficiency. Guests are assured of getting the most possible room features and preferences they requested during booking, while the hotel avoids inventory fragmentation, costly downgrades and unnecessary complimentary upgrades."Often, more than half of a hotel's guests are not checked in to their pre-assigned rooms," said Pierre Boettner, hospitalityPulse CEO. "This may be due to overbooking situations, room's housekeeping statuses, or competing last minute guest requests. Apart from the negative impact on repeat business and fidelity from guests who are unsatisfied with the rooms they receive, hotels with non-optimal room allocation face true costs of downgrades and of unnecessary and expensive complimentary upgrades. All of this should draw hoteliers' attentions to the need for room allocation software and improved optimization in 2017."Here are 10 reasons why hoteliers should add Room Assignment software to their 2017 budgets: A room-allocation solution saves operating costs. Instead of spending hours manually pre-assigning while trying to figure out how to best balance the house, which upgrades to grant, or what downgrades to swallow, the roomPulse engine provides an optimally balanced inventory in minutes.It enables hoteliers to achieve a significantly higher fulfillment rate of room-feature and bed-type requests. That leads to higher guest satisfaction, having a direct impact on review scores and ancillary revenues. The end result is higher ADR and more bookings compared to your competition.Room-assignment software enables staff to quickly recognize and consider the most valuable and loyal guests and then assign availability-based complimentary upgrades. That in turn fosters loyalty and creates incremental future repeat business.It automatically recognizes guests who book direct vs. third-party channels like OTAs, and it rewards direct bookers with the best rooms to be assigned first. This supports a hotel's direct sales strategy which ultimately leads to more direct bookings and less commission to be paid to third parties.With a system deciding on the most optimal, and balanced room assignments, hoteliers will see fewer large, and instead more and smaller upgrades. This results in less opportunity costs for complimentary upgrades that must be awarded due to overbooked base room categories and more happy guests receiving upgrades.An automated room-allocation system dramatically reduces downgrades, and with that reduces the reimbursements hotels typically pay to guests that get downgraded, leading to direct cost savings.Front desk agents supported by an automated room allocation system spend less time during check in searching for an optimal room. A more efficient check in reduces guest dissatisfaction, and with that creates better reviews and with that the opportunity to create higher ADR and more bookings.Agents spend less time at check in. That means less costs at front desk operations, more time for other tasks or a smile and a friendly, welcoming conversation with the guest, instead of staring at a screen to find a room.An optimally balanced house means less fragmented inventory which equates to more rooms to sell or upsell to, which means more revenue per day.Rooms optimally assigned means less friction and interruption of housekeeping processes and with that a further reduction in operations cost.To increase customer satisfaction and secure guest loyalty, hoteliers not only need to cater for a personalized and mobile booking experience, but they need to deliver on the newly created expectations."Pairing the positive revenue effects of optimal room assignment with the tremendous efficiencies in operations allows for a quick ROI," Boettner said. "This area of digitization needs to be moved up the priority list for hotel technology investments in 2017."For more information on room-allocation software and the roomPulse solution from hospitalityPulse, the technology leader in automated room assignment solutions, visit www.hospitalitypulse.com.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 20 June 2016
hospitalityPulse Inc., the technology leader in automated room assignment solutions, will be presenting its fully integrated suite of products at HITEC designed to significantly enhance a hotel's traditional and mobile check in processes. In addition to the company's popular roomPulse and PulseLink room assignment solutions, hospitalityPulse will unveil new tools in Booth 1713 that will transform traditional transactions into guest interactions by enabling front-desk agents to focus more closely on their guests.NEW at HITEC!roomPulse, the solution that dynamically optimizes each room assignment in real time, is the anchor of the hospitalityPulse product suite. Tomorrow, hospitalityPulse will unveil a pre-check queue solution at HITEC that seamlessly integrates with roomPulse to automate the handling for when guests arrive too early and rooms are not yet available, or when guests check in prior to arrival via a mobile device or a web interface. Called PulseQueue, the system continuously monitors all rooms as they become available and matches them with reservations that have been placed in queue. Guests are then automatically assigned the most optimal room based on overall room needs at the hotel; rooms are assigned based on propriety of guest and reservation value, as well as time spent in the queue. When a room has been found and assigned, the front desk and the guest are automatically notified by the system."PulseQueue evolved from learnings, based on our customers' use of roomPulse," said Pierre Boettner, hospitalityPulse CEO. "It has long been clear that roomPulse solves some of the persistent issues that have surfaced as a result of a hotel offering early and mobile check in. While both enhance the guest experience, mobile check-in solutions exponentially increased manual handling at front desk, causing more, instead of less, friction. When mobile check-ins are offered to guests, an already difficult process is made even harder for staff. We also learned that it wasn't so much the ability to show guests a room number at the time of check in, but rather the automation of the underlying queue assignments that was really the missing piece. It is impossible to consistently anticipate and match up arrival times with cleaning predictions. A guest having checked in early may still have to wait for a room once he or she has arrived at the hotel."PulseQueue also is preventing conflicts arising from agents directly competing with queued arrivals, for available rooms. When there aren't enough rooms available for pending check-ins, or when available rooms aren't matching with what is needed for arriving or expected guests, the competition for rooms can become heated. Guests that arrived early or checked in prior to their arrival may find themselves at a disadvantage with regards to feature fulfillment. All too often, rooms are then rushed, leading to additional inefficiencies and even quarrels with housekeeping."We wanted to make room assignments for early or mobile check in as seamless as possible, so that agents don't have to deal with yet another separate system," Boettner said. "This is why optimized room assignments in roomPulse and pre-check transactions in PulseQueue are made available via PulseLink; the agent popup directly accessible from within the PMS reservations screen. At the time of check in, PulseLink provides the agent with the most optimal room at that very moment. It also enables agents to place a reservation in, or retrieve it from, PulseQueue to make the entire room assignment process as efficient and quick as possible. If needed, alternative rooms can be found in a very easy to use interface. Rather than spending time on finding rooms in the system, what are transactions are transformed into interactions with the guests."FREE of ChargeTo complete the suite of products with a guest facing component we created PulseMobile, a mobile check in solution that allows guest to check in online prior to arrival, offered to our hotel customers completely free of charge. Hotels that intend to offer a simple, yet powerful mobile check-in solution can easily integrate PulseMobile into their processes. It takes advantage of PulseQueue, assuring speed, consistency, and optimal room assignment."We are really excited about the fully-automated product suite what we are showcasing at HITEC," Boettner said. "Of course, as with all our applications, roomPulse, PulseLink, PulseQueue and PulseMobile can be fully integrated with a hotel's existing mobile applications. All hospitalityPulse solutions support a high level of guest service and satisfaction, ultimately results in greater loyalty and spend."To experience the NEW and fully automated suite of room assignment products from hospitalityPulse, visit Booth 1713 at HITEC, or visit www.hospitalitypulse.com.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 13 June 2016
Lately I've been wondering if mobile check-in is all that it's cracked up to be. Sure, it's supposed to zip me from the front door to my room, but depending on the hotel I choose, the time of day, whether I arrive earlier or later than planned, and many other factors, the direct-to-your-room experience doesn't always deliver on its promises.As a frequent traveler myself, I often wonder if other travelers feel as I do about mobile check in. Not only am I unsure if I like it, but I question whether or not it provides any advantages. One thing is certain, whether travelers like mobile check in or not, studies show travelers "say" they want it.Business travelers especially seem hip to the idea of skipping another queue - me included. Not every "check-in before arrival" process avoids the front desk, but many do offer an express line to grab your key and go to your room. If this isn't offered, a mobile key program may work even better; here my cell phone becomes my room key and it enables me to bypass the front desk altogether. Regardless of how I skip the traditional check-in process, mobile check-in programs are geared to help eliminate, or significantly reduce, the time spent waiting in long lines to get my reservation processed.When given the option to skip registration and avoid the front desk, I take it. For one, it makes me feel good and gives me a shot at accelerating check in; and two, I have a certain level of professional curiosity to see how the hotel or brand is managing this process. Now, in the rare instance that my phone is turned into a magic room key that unlocks my room door and I can bypass the front desk altogether, I am elated! But . . . when I get into my room, my feeling of delight quickly begins to change.I didn't realize the hotel had a club, and I forgot to specifically ask about a quiet room - that my bad. However, I also didn't get the room type that I requested when I made the reservation. I specifically requested a room on a higher floor, away from noise such as from elevators and vending machines, the pool or other distractions. Also, the room had a bath tub and not the shower I asked for. Instead of the King bed I booked, I was given a Double Double.Several questions now come to mind: Is the price that I pay for mobile check in convenience a compromise in choice or fulfillment of my preferences?Would I have received a better room, had I checked in later or at the front desk, where I can be presented with options and maybe even sweet-talk my way to a better room-type category?Did my advance check in before my arrival just cause me to be given one of the first rooms that became clean on my day of arrival - rather than a room I really wanted?As a loyalty member for that brand, did I receive the upgrade I am entitled to? As it is based on availability, what is the point in time that validation is made? Suddenly I realize that my time in this room is precious - and the many hours I have until the next morning seems a lot compared to the minutes I saved during check in. Does this make me want to wait in a queue again?Time Saved vs. Overall ExperienceAs a professional in the lodging industry, I know of course that much of the time savings aren't really savings at all, but rather shifts in time - a spreading of the workload. The night shift may be able to now do even more to prepare the arrivals. But once you get to the hotel, is your pre-assigned room really ready, or will it need to be changed a few times over to allow even earlier arrivals to get to their rooms so they aren't just waiting in the lobby? Is there a better way to make the entire process more fluid and more precise, regardless of your method of checking in?Working in the hotel technology space, I am interested in the hotel's perspective. How does the front office team cope with the new mobile check in functionality? Is the time I saved as a guest time they save in operations as well? Does hotel management see a rise in guest satisfaction and loyalty? How often do guests still need to see a front desk associate because of issues with the key, the process, or the room itself? In the end, is this all about mobile check in or about not wanting to wait in line needlessly?Having talked to many room operations staff over the last year, it is clear that the fundamental requirement of a good mobile check-in solution is not the ability to show the right room (or any room number for that matter) at the time of check in, but rather to automate the underlying reservations in queue. It is not possible to predict actual check-in time, nor is it possible to predict which of the rooms that were occupied when the mobile check-in occurred (generally up to 24 or 48 hours in advance) would be ready, vacant and clean to check into at that unpredictable time of arrival. Add to that the important question of priority. Is the most fitting room the one that should be given to a guest checking in early, or from a mobile device? The most valuable guests often arrive the latest, but should they really be the ones to have the leftover rooms?For those reasons, I think it is important that we recognize not only the promise of mobile check-in, but also the challenges it helps uncover. Rather than dismissing these as side effects stemming from still low adoption or missing smartphone locks, we need to embrace these failures and think about using the resulting insights as a guide to addressing the real underlying challenges.A recent Skift article titled: "This Is 2016. Why Can't We Still Book Specific Rooms in a Hotel?" poses a very insightful question. The article quotes a mobile check-in vendor who clearly recognizes that the underlying issues lie with room selection, room assignment, and the impacted fragmentation that room selection/assignment can have on overall occupancy and RevPAR. As an industry, it's time we deal with these critical questions.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 7 June 2016
This month hoteliers attending HITEC will be introduced to server and network technology that is rarely utilized in the hotel environment. When architecting the infrastructure platform for hospitalityPulse, the technology leader in automated room assignment technology, the company's Infrastructure Architect and Co-Founder William Cannon was able to design the system creating and utilizing automation tools typically prohibitive for small technology companies. The result is a system platform that takes automation and reliability of systems to an entirely new level."With automated room assignment via roomPulse, we address an area that has never before been tackled in hotel technology," Cannon said. "We also wanted to build systems with an underlying infrastructure that would allow automatic scaling without human assistance. With initial customers spread around the globe, we also provisioned for issues that we felt would arise with certainty. In addition to requirements on scalability, fault tolerance and high reliability, we anticipated needing an infrastructure that we could easily replicate in the same, or other data centers. This is important for chain customers requiring their own private servers, and also in cases of legal requirements regarding the geographic location of guest data."Cannon not only created a self-healing system, but it also self-scales up and down with resource utilization. This is especially important when responding to high traffic or when processing power needs to be added or reduced. The technology creates cost efficiencies not only on the human side, but also in terms of optimal server utilization. These savings are then reflected in the pricing of roomPulse."With startups, customers need assurances about availability, fault tolerance and business continuity," said Denis Bajet, founder and CTO of hospitalityPulse. "They need guarantees that using our services will not introduce vulnerabilities in their operations. Therefore, we leverage Amazon's cloud, AWS. Along with specialized automation to achieve highly available systems that scale automatically and seamlessly recover from component failures, we can deliver on an unparalleled level of service. Our entire infrastructure is designed to fix itself, and we built our application stack on top of this infrastructure to pass on the benefits to our customers."Solutions from hospitalityPulse are not only open to hotel customers, but also to other hotel technology vendors seeking to enrich their own offering by adding room assignment and check-in queue automation. By setting the infrastructure foundation properly, hospitalityPulse is meeting even the greatest of expectations.To learn more about this advanced self-healing, self-scaling system architecture, visit hospitalityPulse in Booth #1713 at HITEC June 21 to 23 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. To pre-schedule an appointment, call Mario Bellinzona at +1 831 824 4952, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on hospitalityPulse, visit www.hospitalitypulse.com.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 31 May 2016
especially understanding the true room availability on the day of arrival and in real time.2. Can you ensure that the room features requested by the guest during booking are the room features the guest receives at check in?Overlooking the "small print" in contracts is easy to do, and the same applies to imprints displayed during a hotel booking process. How often have we all seen verbiage such as "Special requests are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed at time of booking?" Despite such disclaimer, a glimpse at online reviews quickly demonstrates that guests consider such requests as part of "what they booked." Even without mobile check in, it is already challenging to ensure that all guests' room feature requests were fulfilled. How would a mobile check in provider deal with the swaps and cascades that make up the house balancing task at time of arrival?3. How are connecting room requests managed during mobile check in?There are many reasons why guests may have asked for connecting rooms: a family traveling together, with the parents wanting privacy, but with easy access to the children in an adjacent room; colleagues traveling together needing to collaborate on a project late into the night and preferring the convenience of adjoining rooms; or friends who like the convenience of being close, and their proximity enhances their overall stay experience. Any such request for connecting rooms is difficult enough to be consistently considered even without advance check in. Guests wanting to check in to connecting rooms a day prior to arrival can easily turn into an operational nightmare if not handled properly by the mobile check in solution.4. Are guest preferences from your CRM taken into consideration during mobile check in?Guests don't mind answering questions about their likes and dislikes when subscribing to a loyalty program. In return, they expect a higher level of service to be provided by the hotel, even when they omit indicating their preferences on their next booking; after all, we are living in the age of hyper customization, so meeting basic requirements shouldn't be an issue, right? Wrong. Another glimpse at review sites confirms that meeting hotel guests' requests for specific room features isn't as easy as allowing a traveler to pick a seat on an airplane. And, no, it's not a "hotelier-made problem," and hotels need to do more than "just hire the right - or more - staff." Once you really dive into the challenges of room assignment, you quickly discover that there is a virtually unsolvable problem. The least you can expect from a mobile check-in provider is to be cognizant of the room assignment problem and hope that their solution doesn't accentuate what is already an impossible task to complete consistently and well.5. Do you consider loyalty, VIP, or other guest statuses during the mobile check-in process? And, are other complimentary- or availability-based upgrades considered?Complimentary upgrades are necessary to achieve good occupancy rates. Used intelligently, they are also an incredibly powerful tool to boost guest satisfaction. But when guests who are entitled and accustomed to certain complimentary upgrades are not able to have those accommodations fulfilled, it can cause significant consequences for hoteliers. Just like room feature requests, guests anticipate that their upgrade requests will be honored; when they are not, they become frustrated and annoyed. The last thing hoteliers want to do is convey the message that mobile check-in will negatively impact a guest's ability to obtain their expected and promised upgrades.GO! Put your best mobile foot forwardChecking in a guest reflects a hotel's ultimate truth in terms of room availability and the ability to provide the accommodation as expected. When considering a new initiative, like mobile check in, hoteliers need to look past the hype and over-simplifying statements. The operational impact on room assignment and the handling of the check-in queue must not be overlooked when it comes to adding check in to a hotel's mobile, or overall digital strategy.If finding a mobile check-in solution is high on your HITEC shopping list, please visit with hospitalityPulse first in Booth # 1713. We have the automated room assignment solution that hoteliers need to ensure their mobile-check in program will be a success right out of the gate. To pre-schedule an appointment at HITEC, call Mario Bellinzona at (831) 824-4952, or email@example.com. For more information on hospitalityPulse, visit www.hospitalitypulse.com.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 3 March 2016
you MUST deliver on their expectations. If you can't, you MUST be ready to respond to bad reviews.Loyalty Status was not RecognizedMany loyalty programs incorporate complimentary upgrades based on availability at check in. When a loyalty guest checks in, he or she generally accepts whatever room they're given on the assumption that they are receiving the best possible room available. Once inside the room, if the guest feels the accommodations are not commensurate with the expected upgrade, they will often check the hotel's website for availability of better rooms. If the guest finds better availability, look out! Once a loyalty member realizes that he or she was not granted the upgrade they were entitled to, the person, now seriously annoyed, will return to the front desk and demand a better room. If the guest doesn't have time for that, it's off to TripAdvisor to post a negative review.Take all of this together and a very different picture emerges - one that implies that the systems that agents use cannot solve what has been incorrectly sold or promised at the time of booking. The people taking the heat for these inacuracies are the agents, the room controllers, and the General Manager.The Room Assignment DilemnaRoom assignment is one of the most complex tasks in the entire lodging process, and there are no mathematical algorithms that can solve it. Front desk agents can make assumptions that enable them to hone in on subsets of requested room categories to find a match, but typically overbooking of some categories arises and fragmentation still occurs. There is no way for an agent to be fully aware of all pending reservation requests or guest requirements when making these decisions. Worse yet, any room assignment decision they make will directly impact that day's arrivals - or even tomorrow's arrivals. In the end, specific features, amenities or room types requested by the guest won't be fulfilled.Mobile check-in initiatives also add to - or even amplify - room assignment challenges; when speaking to front-office staff, mobile check in does nothing to make their jobs easier. Someone still needs to find and assign the "right" room to each mobile guest who prefers using a cell phone as a room key and bypassing the check in process altogether; rooms may or may not be ready at the time of check in or they may still be stuck in queue. Efficient mobile check in can only happen if there is smart room assignment. We're not there yet - but it's coming very soon.What can be done?One of the first things that hoteliers can do to address the room assignment dilemna is to eliminate irrelevant and duplicate room feature codes. Out of the 30 to 50 categories or codes present, statistics show that fewer than 10 are being requested by guests. Determine which categories count; generally the most requested are "Views," "Bed types," "Floor" and "Balconies." Always add ADA requirements and (non) proximity to noise from elevators or ice machines. Anything else is just in the way of room search. For example, you cannot search simultaneously for rooms that have King beds (KB) and box spring king beds (BK). Every room has one or the other, but never both. Whether the bed is box spring or framed is really not important to the guest. If you need the information for other purposes, then keep it elsewhere.Once you have re-organized the feature codes, make sure that every room has an indication of "View," "Bed type" and "Balcony" if appropriate. If a code exists and the room corresponds to it, the feature must be configured. Relying on the room category code for that type of information saves time when configuring the system, but will ultimately cost you time every day - time that is precious to the guest and scarce for the agent. It may also decrease some training time for new employees.Finally, set a clear hierarchy of features. What is most important to guests? Here again, simple request statistics will help. At a resort, it may be "Views" and "Balconies" over "Bed Types," whereas in city hotels "Floor," "Noise" and "Bed Types" may trump the views. Make sure the features are shown in that sequence of importance, as it will make it easier for the agent to proceed by elimination, without removing some of the most important features first.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 15 February 2016
Hoteliers looking to take the guess work out of room assignment while simultaneously increasing guest satisfaction, revenues and loyalty should plan to visit hospitalityPulse March 9 to 12 at ITB Berlin in Hall 10.1 / 112a. Using a patent-pending optimization process and intuitive user interface, hospitalityPulse will show attendees how they can assign the most optimal room for every guest - every time - with consistent efficiency using the company's roomPulse and pulseLINK solutions."One of the biggest problems hoteliers are facing is assigning rooms to guests upon check in that match the features and characteristics they requested during the booking process," said Pierre Boettner, hospitalityPulse CEO. "More than 50 percent of guests are not checked in to their pre-assigned rooms upon arrival due to overbooking situations, housekeeping status or competing last minute guest requests. As such, it's not uncommon for guests to be unsatisfied with the rooms they receive - especially if they are a frequent customer or loyalty club member with a specific profile and specific room preference. Not getting the room you request translates into lower guest satisfaction and less repeat business. For the hotel, we see the negative financial impact of being forced to upgrade guests complimentary in much higher-valued room categories, as no other option seems available when balancing the house. "At hospitalityPulse, we understand that room assignment is a complex, multidimensional task that is easy to mess up," Boettner said. "It requires training of front desk personnel and integration into the broader operation of a hotel. Looking at the many variables to consider when assigning the optimal room, it is a task impossible to solve without the support of technology Rather than allowing owners to leave money on the table by not optimally assigning guests the right room at check in, we developed roomPulse, a radically different multi-dimensional inventory engine that automates room assignments to streamline check in."roomPulse is the first real hospitality solution that dynamically optimizes each room assignment in real time, all the time. It solves all possible movements based on reservation requirements, reservation and guest value and room availabilities, resulting in more optimal upgrades being granted to the right guests. It defragments the inventory, provides clarity of available rooms, and facilitates better upselling. More importantly, roomPulse reduces costs, increases guest satisfaction and revenues, and it makes employee tasks a lot easier too.With roomPulse, hoteliers can:Automate the room assignment process by taking into account all aspects of imminent and future arrivals - at the same timeReduce guest complaints due to unfulfilled expectationsBecome acutely aware of true room availability and room conditionsPrevent inventory fragmentation and increase upsell opportunitiesSupport automatic enforcement of loyalty-related upgrades for top tier guestsAllow for better visibility into front desk activitiesStreamline and accelerate the check-in processEliminate inefficiencies and conflicts caused by manual pre-assignment"Room assignment is complex and tedious due to the vast number of reservations and inventory variables," Boettner said. "Until now, to meet even basic expectations while considering detailed available inventory, all hotels could resort to was add more manpower. For example, when considering just arrival dates and stay lengths, it is already difficult and time consuming to find a solution that avoids conflicts, guest satisfaction issues and unnecessary upgrades or downgrades. Now, add more guest expectations in the form of room feature requests and loyalty-based upgrades, and the complexity increases exponentially. roomPulse takes all these variables into account and assigns rooms to guests optimally and efficiently using computational reasoning. We've taken what once was complex, and made it easy." The 'pulseLINK' AdvantageAlso at ITB Berlin, hospitalityPulse will showcase pulseLink, an extension of roomPulse that is designed to reduce the amount of time front desk staff spend searching for rooms during check in. pulseLink is designed to automatically select the most optimal room available at the moment of check in directly within the PMS reservation screen. It enables agents to easily find and hold other rooms or increase the hold to have more time more time to offer an upsell.With pulseLINK, front desk staff can:Leverage roomPulse for instant optimization of available roomsReceive clear assignment recommendations via the intuitive room cardStay up-to-date on housekeeping status in real timeConduct flexible advance room searchesAvoid assignment conflicts using automatic room holdsEnhance customer satisfaction by having more accurate fulfillment"Today's hotel operations are being pressured to meet guest demands and generate higher revenues all while trying to deal with technological limitations," Boettner said. "It's a daunting task. At hospitalityPulse, we have developed a way to embrace this complexity, not turn away from it. It's room assignment made easy, and it's on display at ITB Berlin in Hall 10.1 / 112a."To pre-schedule an appointment at ITB Berlin, call Mario Bellinzona at +22.214.171.124.978, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on hospitalityPulse, visit www.hospitalitypulse.com.About ITB Berlin and the ITB Berlin ConventionITB Berlin 2016 will take place from Wednesday to Sunday, 9 to 13 March. From Wednesday to Friday ITB Berlin is open to trade visitors only. Parallel with the trade show the ITB Berlin Convention, the world's largest tourism convention, will be held from Wednesday, 9 to Saturday, 12 March 2016. The WTCF (World Tourism Cities Federation) is Co-Host of the ITB Berlin Convention and Studiosus and Toshiba are Basic Sponsors. More details are available at www.itb-convention.com. ITB Berlin is the global travel industry's leading trade show. In 2015 a total of 10,096 companies and organisations from 186 countries exhibited their products and services to 175,000 visitors, who included 115,000 trade visitors.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 2 November 2015
In what follows, we aim to spark some thought and reflection on your own operation - and help you gain some perspective on this important subject.Understanding the Impact of Room Assignment - Beginning at the BeginningIn a previous article [add link], we established the booked room as the core product of a hotel, and suggested how important it is to reduce the number of room categories offered in the booking process.But do you realize how exponentially difficult it is, under currently room assignment constraints, to fulfill each guest's request to the maximum extent possible, producing that elusive "happy customer?"Take a quick look at the below room categories, picked at random from a brand's website. In both cases, and in almost all cases of base room categories, the bed type choice is unclear.Continue in the booking process (on this particular site), and you can specify your preferenceNotice that on this particular site, the brand gave itself the ability to more closely track a guest's preferences. On most booking sites, only a generic comment can be added, making tracking of room related requests even more difficult. With a booking completed, the available inventory for 'Coral Rooms' is decremented by 1 for the date booked. There is however no guarantee that the hotel will be able to fulfill my request for a King bed. Had I picked a category with a distinct bed type, my chances of fulfillment would be significantly higher, but since no one can actually say how many KING beds are available in CORAL rooms and for the date(s), it is basically a gamble. It is even a bigger gamble of you add in the functions, combination CORAL + KING + HIGH, and ELEVATOR.Adding to the complexity, the agent performing room assignment needs to also consider the impact of different overlapping stay lengths, number of adults, children, loyalty based upgrade requirements, impact of this and previous room assignment decisions on other reservations current and future, and not least, the 'style' of the individuals responsible for the process on that day.At the moment of check-in, the front desk agent also needs to make sure the room is clean and inspected, may have to swap rooms with other reservations, sell the guest on not having the high floor or having to wait an undetermined amount of time... and ideally, to produce revenue, they should try to upsell the guest to the better, but less popular suites, ensure that all documents are in order, the reservation accurate, the deposit paid or a credit card swiped, guests understand the various fees charged, and on and on and on. All that becomes the responsibility of your front desk staff. Because they are the only ones that are certain to meet the guest, they are naturally asked all kinds of additional things, sell a table reservation, spa, and explain the resort... - not only from management, but also from the guests.So when we unpack it, it's a very complicated picture, with lots of moving parts, at least the parts that are left to the desk agent.Is it any wonder errors happen, revenue is left on the table, and check in is often a stressful time for guests and agents?There are additional factors. Member services pushes check in personnel to ensure that loyalty members all get the upgrades they should be entitled to; marketing seeks to improve guest reviews; overall, Revenue management to increase ADR via upselling, reservations to reduce the fragmentation of the inventory, and the GM to reduce the unsightly wait lines to check in or out - sometimes, the GM criticizes supervisors because they failed to go through the full scripted welcome procedure and rooms control, or because they made assignment decisions "on the fly," which produced additional work for the next days.As a result of all this complexity, a typical front desk operation today has often as much staff in the back of the house, as there are agents facing customers. It is only natural that the task of room assignment is gradually being moved to specialized staff in the back office. And it is increasingly clear, that the front desk has not kept up with the times. Some of it is due to antiquated systems, some due to the industry's characteristic attachment to legacy systems - particularly in all things having a direct impact on guests. Most commonly, the rooms division will ask for more staff to improve guest satisfaction, while management will ask to reduce cost. How Do We Solve The Problem?It is not easy.A 100 room hotel with stay lengths typically between 1 and 4 nights and an occupancy slightly above 80% will produce a number of theoretical placement possibilities that a single processor core at 4 GHz would need longer to compute than the Cosmos is estimated to last.Even if one presumes a strong correlation between booked and assigned room category, there are still tens of millions theoretical placement combinations. Nowadays, the task is often assigned to specialized employees with very detailed knowledge of the hotel and a high degree of intuition - exactly the staff that you would rather have available at the desk to deal with difficult situations.Adding more staff will yield limited results, as each pair of eyes can really only consider a partial problem at a time. The more you distribute the work, the more incoherent the overall result.So here are some moves to consider:1. Start by measuring certain key indicators. Have your teams define what is the most important data to keep track of, and then identify the reports and data sources that will allow keeping track of these. Which are the most important feature requests to pursue? How many availability-based upgrade promises are kept? How many key feature requests could be fulfilled and how many early check in or late check out requests couldn't and why?Add the number of total up and downgrades due to balancing and the movements by room type. This will provide you with an objective base line against which to improve.2. Today's operations are much more complex than they were 20 or even just 10 years ago, and you need to effectively manage that complexity. You need to become more analytical and ruthless in identifying areas of concern and developing necessary changes to the operation. You need to become change agents and establish a culture where transformation is welcome, rather than viewed with suspicion. The operation of the future needs to be nimble, and systems must be able to adapt more easily and quickly.Systems are more connected, but also more disjointed than ever - and functional improvements to hotel's core systems have been limited. Suggesting that Front Desk staff '...just have to do a better job...' is disingenuous and only reveals that the complexity of this task is not well understood.The degree to which revenue is directly impacted by better fulfillment of the core contract depends on the individual operation, but I would like to invite you to track the following values:Average incremental spend per day/adult and per day of week for:- Guests assigned to a room not fulfilling requested key features (i.e. VIEW & BED) and up to the value of the booked category- Guests assigned to a room fulfilling requested key features of at least the value of the booked category Bringing it All TogetherToday's hotel operations are being squeezed - on the one hand, between an increasingly demanding guest, and on the other, by technological limitations that hold back the potential for understanding the complexity of the new operating environment in order to fully satisfy that guest, and generate higher revenues.We must embrace the complexity, not turn away from it. And continue to search for innovative solutions.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 6 August 2015
and is not.It begins from the nature of a hotel's data sets, and how they are accessed - but how many of us really understand how to access those data sets, and do it well?In many cases, the data sets available are just too miniscule, the differences between one and another record are too minute to be used in a meaningful way. As a result, lots of time, money and energy have gone into a host of Big Data driven add-on tools that all solve some hotel problems, but none provide a truly holistic, comprehensive, and monetizable view of guest expectations. The real uses, and impact, of Big Data so far at hotels - has been remarkably small.The Point of Sale has always received special attention. It is after all the very first interaction for the vast majority of guests. But what is most interesting is how the Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have turned the Point of Sale not just into a moment of purchase decision - but a process that reverberates to impact the entire guest experience throughout his stay.Let's take a look inside the process, to see what they have done.OTAs are removed from the hotel room - the actual product. They hold no traditional points of view and no convictions of certain undeniable truths about 'our' guests. This has allowed them to use Data to analyze and then use a consumer's behavioral patterns in a ruthless and disciplined manner. Because the delivery of the promise made during the sale is entirely up to the hotel, OTAs can also apply Data to the promise at their leisure, while completely ignoring such 'mundane' constraints as actual availability.Stay with me and review the website visuals below, to learn why Booking and cohorts are so much more successful at converting lookers to bookers, than hotels are:!!! Note that while I am using one particular hotel here, you can replicate the results with pretty much any property!!!On an OTA site:In the response above, a particular room category has been pre-selected. This is done based on very limited information (weekend stay, 2 adults). Other information stored in a host of available coookies on my laptop may have further influenced this choice. I recently booked 2 Double rooms at another hotel and Booking may very well have tapped into that history.The price is immediately visible and the booking decision takes just one more click.As consumers we WANT this to be the case; we want our interactions on the web to be easy to navigate and simple to conclude.It is only AFTER that booking decision has been made, that the traveller is shown available room categories, most at different rates.Note that the room that led to the decision is not available to book. Its place has now been taken by a King room, offered at the originally shown price.This may amount to false advertising, but the fact is, Booking.com is now much more likely to keep the traveler to finalize the reservation. This holds true even when the customer now needs to select a higher priced room to accommodate her needs.In a nutshell: The decision on which room to book has been separated from the decision to book the hotel. Each choice in isolation is easy to make.By contrast, on a Brand's website:To see the full result, I had to zoom out to 33% of my browser's scale. The room needs to be selected before a buying decision has taken place. With 7 distinct options, many aspects of each need to be compared and room descriptions read. Though we don't feel it, our brain is now asked to do some pretty remarkable acrobatics to make the choice.This is where what neuroscientists call 'false choice paradox' comes into play. It works as follows: 'Consumers think they want to have lots of choices. But present consumers with difficult choices, and the process gets complicated. For example: 'Would I rather have a view of the 'Arc de Triomphe' or of the 'Tour Eiffel', or maybe rather a balcony, or maybe both...?' The reality is that we prefer, even expect choices to be simple, even self-evident. We want to make informed choices. We don't really want THAT many options, we really just want the ones that make sense for us, with the others serving to 'frame' or 'anchor' the deal. We prefer easy decisions over hard ones. It makes us feel empowered and feel good about our decisions.Present no choices and consumers feel forced into a decision; present more than just a few, and your prospective guests may abandon the booking process.Hotels will need to catch up on applied science and let go of cherished beliefs of what guests should be presented with, or what customers mean when they indicate they want 'choices'.=The point is that there has not been nearly enough attention paid, to the SCIENCE behind matching the right guest with the right room.On TripAdvisor, the reportings of room mismatches were so dominant in negative reviews, that TA introduced 'room tips'. This is where travelers can share information about good or bad rooms with others.Indeed, fulfillment of rooms has become a major focus for every major brand. Not just in operations, but in Marketing departments and Quality assurance as well. From the GM to the front desk agent, everyone is focused on achieving the best possible guest satisfaction.So where do we fail?Even in the hotel example shown above, distribution teams have already reduced the number of categories offered. They will want to continue consolidating to improve distribution performance, though even the current categories are probably no longer representative of detailed room differences. Rooms operations on the other hand would like availability tailored as closely as possible to each room request.If every unique combination of Size, bed type, view, floor, connecting, accessible, balcony, elevator and so on and so forth were to be configured in the hotel system, the number of categories would balloon to many dozens. The likelihood of lookers turning away from such a site is all but certain.What started out as an attempt to satisfy a guest with a reasonable number of well-tailored choices, has turned into a nightmare of complexity for the operation. Once the guest actually arrives at the hotel, the generic selling category and the requested features will need to be 'translated' into a real room. If you only then find out how many 'High Floor King Balcony Shower' rooms were requested for a given date, it is too late to take any corrective action.Sadly, that is the reality hotels are dealing with daily.To summarize, there is an inherent and increasing inefficiency in the ways rooms are currently assigned - and it turns on the misuse of, or inability to use properly, the right data to match customers' needs with the right inventory.A few years ago, room fulfillment didn't seem to be that much of a problem, if any at all. One person spending less than an hour or so was really all it took to "balance the house," decide who would get upgraded while making a very rough approximation of the possible impact on future arrivals.Today, with power having shifted entirely to the consumer and standards for a quality stay having risen dramatically higher, more hotels have dedicated more and more time to the problem. But solutions seem as elusive as ever.Here is a prediction: As brands and hotels continue to search for new ways to capture more direct business, keep the guest satisfied, even more power shifts in the direction of the customer, the problem will intensify - and draw even more attention.The room is a hotel's core product.In my next article, I will take a closer look at the impact of this trend on the operation and financial results.