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Article by Jos Schaap

Software as a Service? Better Focus on the Service!

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

StayNTouch Releases Eye-Opening Infographic: Keeping Up With Hotel Guest Expectations

StayNTouch Inc. 19 July 2017
StayNTouch(r), the leading innovator in mobile technology and Property Management Systems (PMS) for hotels and lodging, today announced the release of their most inspiring infographic yet - titled Keeping Up With Hotel Guest Expectations. This infographic lays out the trend lines and data points that tell a story about the changing dynamics of guest expectations and how technology has become an essential tool in today's hotel market.To satisfy this enormous appetite for technology, hotel companies of all sizes must be relentless in their efforts to improve experiences at every touchpoint. In fact, two thirds of consumers (68%) say it is somewhat or very important that companies they interact with are seen as a technology leader (Salesforce Mobile Behavior Report 2015) and according to Phocuswright, 64% t of U.S. hotel guests said it is "very or extremely important" for hotels to continue investing in technology to enhance the guest experience. And with the rising mobile adoption, hotel engagement and messaging needs to reach guests on the mobile platforms where they're spending their time.Highlights of the infographic include:The unstoppable rise of mobileImpact of social media and guest reviewsExpectations for messaging, notifications and chatRevenue and service potential of personalized offersWith guest expectations higher than ever due to technology, the pressure is on for hotels to keep up with tech-savvy, always-on consumers--or risk getting trampled by the competition. Hotel brands investing in the latest technologies that enable customization, social engagement and on-the-go access through mobile devices will be able to increase market share, drive more onsite spend and foster good reviews that keep guests coming back.To download the Keeping Up With Hotel Guest Expectations infographic, please click here or visit http://go.stayntouch.com/KeepingupwithHotelGuesttechExpectations_ContentLandingpage.html
Article by Jos Schaap

Service and Reputation Go Hand in Hand: Tech Suppliers and Hotels Need to Work Together

StayNTouch Inc. 11 July 2017
"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently." Warren Buffett"Reputation is only a candle, of wavering and uncertain flame, and easily blown out, but it is the light by which the world looks for and finds merit." James Russell LowellWe now live in a world where service, technology, and reputation are on a collision course - and this affects the hotel industry more than most other industry segments. According to a recent Hospitality Technology study, 85% of guests consider positive reviews and high ratings very important when making a hotel selection.When thinking about a hotel's reputation, TripAdvisor, Google and the companies that supply reputation management solutions come first to mind. However, the reputation of a hotel goes much deeper when you intersect service and technology. Looking at a hotel's reputation from the outside, the top factors that affect reviews, and thus reputation, are cleanliness, Wi-Fi, service, food, amenities and believe it or not, the pool. All of these issues are directly related to the guest stay and the most prominent areas that the guest sees or uses. These areas are critical however with certain tweaks here and there, the reputation scores for each area can be increased by implementing better procedures, monitoring and delivering quick and effective resolutions.Things that cannot be seen by the guest but that can complicate their visit immensely is when the technology that drives the hotel has issues. The issues can be as minor as a clock radio not working properly or the TV malfunctioning to a full system collapse where the hotel can niether check guests in or out, take reservations, or the door locks will not work making for a very uncomfortable service environment.The service shift happens here. The technology provider must have exemplary service and deliver on their agreed upon service level agreement with the hotel to ensure that any system issue is dealt with expeditiously and with positive results. Also, shifting the primary systems, your PMS, out of the property and into the cloud helps immensely. While writing this article, I found a thread online where an IT person stated the following about their hotel PMS, "I'd rather burn my server room to the ground and get everyone to use construction paper, and crayons than ever let XXXXX into my environment again."When a primary system goes down or has integration issues, it impacts every aspect of your business and ultimately affects every guest. Will they post online about this specific experience? Probably no, but they will post a derogatory review about the long wait at the front desk or not being able to check-out or order room service. The technology behind the scene can create havoc if it is not working at its optimal rate.A strong and mutually beneficial relationship between the hotel and its software provider is incredibly important. A relationship of mutual trust must be achieved to deal with problems that arise that may impact hotel operations and thus the service delivery side of the business. Many technology companies tout themselves as partners but are viewed by the hotel as a vendor. If a technology company can escalate the relationship with the hotel by providing responsive service and support of their products, they can be seen as a true partner rather than just a vendor - and all stakeholders should be driving towards this goal.Finally, when discussing service and support related to your technology providers, it is critical to ensure they are on the same page in regards to your expectations. Hotels can easily have over thirty different technology providers - and many of them need to interface their solutions. Too often, tech providers lay the blame and point fingers at each other when it comes to interface or integration issues. Hold each partner to the highest standard and commit to developing long-lasting relationships with them with a focus on service. The delivery of great service by technology providers to the hotel will ultimately enable the hotel to deliver on their guest service promises.

StayNTouch Implements Its Mobile PMS at Filament Hospitality

StayNTouch Inc. 27 June 2017
"What attracted us to StayNTouch, besides the fact that it is cloud-based, were the mobile features and the pre-stay upsell and guest enhancement programs," said Ingrid Summerfeld, Partner and President at Filament Hospitality. "Ultimately, StayNTouch provides the flexibility we have been looking for. In the service industry we always talk about personalized service, but then we have this front desk that is a literal barrier to personal service. I think that having the PMS on tablets help make the guest/staff interaction less of a business transaction and more concierge-like.""We also were very impressed by their openness to work with integrations with our other software partners and commitment to innovation, in general," she continued. "We are excited to be a partner with them."StayNTouch offers hotels the opportunity to integrate multiple cloud-solutions on one platform:Rover PMStm: Next generation Hotel PMS, fully cloud, fits on every device, optimizes hotel operations from front desk, to groups, to housekeeping to revenue management. Simple monthly pricing that includes training, integrations and configuration.Zesttm: Enables guest pre-engagement and guest services via mobile web. Guest-enabled mobile check-in & out via smart phone or desktop. Private labeled, PMS-integrated mobile check-in &/or checkout. Bill review, preference collection, upsell opportunities, and remote key fulfillment. Promote and monetize late checkouts."We are delighted to be working with the team at Filament Hospitality," said Jos Schaap, CEO-Founder of StayNTouch, "Ingrid and her team have a long record of bringing value to independent hotels through flexibility and innovation. We are proud to have been selected to help them continue their leadership in this endeavor."About StayNTouch Inc.StayNTouch is a "Software as a Service" hotel property management systems (PMS) company focused on developing solutions that help hotels raise service levels, drive revenues, reduce costs, and ultimately change the way hotels can captivate their guests. Developed with mobility in mind, the pioneering platform enables hotels to create long lasting relationships with their guests by delivering personalized service levels that today's guests require. StayNTouch operates on tablets and smartphones, empowering hotel employees to go above and beyond in exceeding guest expectations at every touch point.Powering over 75,000 rooms globally, our game-changing solution frees hotels from the constraints of legacy or premise systems, dramatically streamlines operations, increases margins, and revolutionizes how front-line staff connect with guests. StayNTouch is a trusted partner to many of the most forward thinking hotels, resorts, casinos and chains in the industry, including Yotel, Zoku Amsterdam, Valencia Hotels, The Freehand Hotels, Modus hotels and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.To learn more watch our video "THE NEW WAY... TO HOTEL!"Twitter: @StayNTouchIncFacebook: facebook.com/stayntouchLinkedIn: LinkedIn/stayntouchAbout Filament Hospitality Filament Hospitality is the management company for the project. Filament Hospitality specializes in operating independent lifestyle properties, alternative experiential destinations, and educational retreat centers. Through a unique combination of innovation, creativity, and deep industry experience, Filament creates memorable experiences for the modern traveler. www.filamenthospitality.com.
Article by Jos Schaap

Why do companies give up on customer service as they grow?

StayNTouch Inc. 15 June 2017
Everyone experiences second-rate service from a trustworthy brand at some point. Some recent examples of large brands plagued with a reputation for poor service include wireless service providers, airlines, auto manufacturers and Internet service providers. One need only look at Twitter feeds to see the angst that their customers are feeling. In the airline industry, United Airlines seems to be getting the brunt of customer complaints and media coverage as of late due to the infamous dragging of a passenger from one of their flights that went viral. Now, they are once again in crisis management mode because a United employee tried to wrestle an 18th-century violin away from a passenger who wanted to carry on the rare and valuable violin but was being forced to check it in [1].Apart from the odd exception, top brands are not able to retain their status as market leaders as long as they used to. As companies grow, they try their best to ensure that service standards are maintained at the highest levels possible. However, in the long run, a decline in quality of either products or customer service is one of the greatest risks. There are many reasons for this degradation. When companies shift more focus on cost savings, they may consider outsourcing offshore to cut costs. Also, as hospitality management evolves, companies that develop software may have employees that are not up to speed on the latest variations made to the software. This all but ensures they will short on helping their clients with technical issues. Large companies can also become constrained by the fragmented departments and processes they put in place to streamline operations, but these processes can backfire and actually slow down responsiveness. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, McKinsey claimed that disloyalty is caused by a lack of understanding of the various touch points rather than by customer dissatisfaction with a single interaction.It takes a long time to steer a big ship In the hotel technology industry, some big companies have experienced declines in service because they have not been able to adapt to change quickly enough. Their infrastructure is aging quickly. We live in a world of instant gratification. For a software company in the hospitality space, the delivery of reliable, knowledgeable service and support is paramount to building a successful business. Software that runs a hotel or connects a hotel to its guest needs to be working at all times. When something does occur that inhibits the software from performing correctly, there can be no delays in a resolution to the issue. Smaller hotel technology brands can be more agile, modern and responsive.Domain expertise makes all the difference The people on the front lines of hotel software service and support not only need to have exceptional knowledge of the software in varied configurations, but they also need be specialists on how the hotel business works. They need to be able to identify if the issue is of an operational nature or related to the technology itself. Without an adequate background and understanding of the complexities of our industry - service, and support can quickly fall apart. One survey discussing customer dissatisfaction states that a whopping 91% of its respondents complained about customer service because they had to contact the same company several times before their problem was resolved. Regardless of industry, exceeding customer expectations requires the right mix of personal service, quality interactions, and first-call resolution.It is time that customer service returned to its roots With customer service often being a key differentiator, companies cannot settle for declining service levels, especially in the hotel industry as high touch service is the hallmark of our business. The first step for hotel technology providers to stay on track is to determine what constitutes superior customer service, and learn how to deliver it. The next step is to be aware of industry trends and new technologies that emerge as they impact not only on the industry, but they also impact software with issues like new integration requirements, compliance and more. Finally, companies should always plan for success rather than planning for failure. If you plan for success, you will be able to ramp up your support services to address the growth of your company and thus be able to meet the needs of your customers.No matter how big or small our companies may be, as software providers, we are part of the service value chain right down to each and every guest. By providing excellent service to hotels - we enable them to provide exceptional service to their guests. Hotel software companies need to maintain the highest levels of support to ensure that their technology does not negatively impact hotel operations or their ability to exceed guest expectations.[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/united-accused-of-wrestling-musician-for-her-antique-violin/
Article by Jos Schaap

The most important question every hotel should ask of their hotel software providers

StayNTouch Inc. 6 June 2017
There are many important questions every hotelier should ask before investing in any new hotel software system. There are questions regarding features, functions, integration, SaaS or license, cloud or on premise, training - and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, one of the big questions that often gets overlooked and doesn't get researched enough is the question of service and support.Service and support of your hotel software platform is integral to the success of your hotel on many levels. Yes, there may be the occasional hiccup during the initial implementation phase, but where the rubber meets the road is when you have issues that impact your operations and your revenue. It could be a system outage or a central interface that fails. However, every time something unexpected occurs to your hotel technology, you want to feel secure that the support and service you receive is quick, effective and rectifies the situation as quickly as possible.Companies very rarely plan for success but they do plan for failure. They plan for market conditions that could impact their sales, they plan for changes in guest buying habits but planning for success...this seems like a strange thing to do. Companies that plan for success can prepare for the future and staff up their help desk department to effectively meet the needs of their customers. This can be a tricky balancing act, but ensuring that the technology provider that you have partnered with has this "success vision" will be critical for you in the long run.Here are just some very basic technology service and support realities:Happy customers are more likely to tell other hoteliers about your productAngry customers gossip more than happy onesIf you are known for great customer service, it gives you the flexibility to try new thingsIn a McKinsey report, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer is being treated and supported. This rings incredibly true when delivering selling, implementing and supporting hotel software. Hotels are in the business of delivering great guest service and hotel technology providers should echo this important element.Service and support is important related to client retention. As stated above, when you have an angry customer, they are more likely to look elsewhere but in a White House Office of Consumer Affairs report, it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain a current customer.Hoteliers are fed up with the quality of service current models offer. The future: human-centric service and support. A human-centric service model revolves around people. It is a model that recognizes clients are a valuable resource, key to a company's success, and therefore all aspects of service and support is designed to go above and beyond to help them. It means anticipating customer issues and addressing them proactively. At StayNTouch, we pride ourselves in delivering amazing high touch, human-centric service and support. It is in our DNA. We know that your property's success depends on our ability to deliver exceptional products and support services. Keeping you informed, being incredibly responsive and adding a consultative approach to the mix are all contributing factors to our support philosophy. It's more than just providing answers; it's an important part of our promise to its clients."The service we have received with StayNTouch is not even comparable to any other companies we have come across in the property management systems space. In general, everyone on the team is extremely competent and passionate about the StayNTouch solution. Their service and support is excellent."Marco Burlimann, Area Manager, Modus HotelsThe line between products and services is blurring, and customer service has become part of the product itself. Keeping service and support top of mind during your PMS purchase decision is imperative. When you're ready to make a move, do your homework. You can use social media outlets as well as LinkedIn groups to read direct feedback from front end users of almost every hotel technology system. Check references and speak to your peers. A long feature list is nice to have, but you should make your choice with a broader framework in mind, keeping service at the top of that list. Not only do you need to know what support channels are available, but also how quickly you'll be helped and with what level of competency.
Article by Jos Schaap

So Many Hotel Software Systems, So Little Time: How to Choose the Best PMS for Your Needs and Budget

StayNTouch Inc. 23 May 2017
It's a jungle out there! The jungle of different hotel software solutions has grown very thick, and the competition between vendors on who has the best solution has hardened.In the vendor section of Hospitality Upgrades' online portal, there are 15 property management systems from which to choose. There are over 12 PMS providers displayed on the vendor directory of HospitalityNet's website. The hotel software systems listed on these leading sites are a mere drop in the ocean of property management systems available these days. According to many industry experts, there are over 100 solution providers that develop, sell and support PMS software systems considered to be at the epicenter of helping hoteliers run their hotels.So how can Owners, General Managers, and their respective teams determine which property management system is best suited to their unique operational and budgetary needs? There are many factors to consider during the decision-making process, and though some carry more weight than others, it can be an overwhelming decision to make. As the technological landscape evolves, it is important to evaluate whether it is necessary to find a system that mirrors exactly what your current PMS does. There are many new functionalities available in today's modern solutions that are more valuable than those that your legacy system can offer. On the other hand, if a hotelier does not see any requirement to advance the technological and service elements of their operation, then there is really no reason invest in a new system.Here are some highlights to help you navigate the journey.Every new system you invest in should be a cloud system The world has changed. Long gone are the days where we required a massive cold room on-property to house the primary software and hardware systems of a hotel. The advent of cloud computing has freed hoteliers to implement solutions that are to some extent future-proofed. Every innovative system being developed today is focused on offering the delivery of its platform using the cloud. The reason is quite simple. Cloud-based systems are more reliable, more flexible, more affordable, and have the capability to scale. Look for simple and intuitive integrations Older systems have their technological challenges. One of the greatest challenges these legacy systems face is that of integrating with other systems. As new products are developed, and guests demand more technological flexibility, trying to get these emerging solutions connected to older property systems becomes very complicated. The introduction of cloud systems breaks down these barriers whereby even if a hotelier wants to connect fresh and innovative platforms to their primary PMS, they can do so easily and with a minimal amount of friction. SaaS-based solutions offer better cost structure and ownership SaaS-based solutions come with low upfront costs because the platform providers take over the asset management portion, and therefore, this reduces the total cost of ownership. No hardware and no software to install makes the choice to move your hotel's principal technology to this delivery model very compelling. There are no lengthy contracts with SaaS products, and the updates that are so cumbersome with an on-property system are now automatic - and best of all - they are free as part of your service. The cost will always be an important component of the decision-making process. However, it should never be the primary decision criteria. Make sure that the solution marries itself nicely to your operations, and if it does, the payback will be seen in short order. Your Cloud PMS needs to enable access from anywhere, anytime The hotel industry is vibrant and always changing as are the roles of hoteliers and the frontline employees that service today's demanding guests. Hotel staff and executive teams cannot be limited to receiving information only when they are their desks. The capabilities of modern technologies and delivery methods now ensure that all the information a hotelier needs to not only run the hotel at its optimal effectiveness but also deliver amazing guest service is available on their mobile device. Look for features that prioritize communication and mobility. There are also operational efficiencies to be gained by being able to access the hotel PMS on a mobile device. For example, by using a tablet PMS, employees can build relationships with guests by completing the entire check-in process while escorting them to their room or by enabling housekeeping to place a special request on the fly while chatting with a guest in the hall. On many levels, mobile is now essential to the continued success of any hotel. Make sure the system providers offer their current clients a reliable customer service with 24/hour support. For most hoteliers, the main area of concern with a property management system is the delivery of unfailing support. It is imperative that any new system you are considering be bundled with 24/7/365 support along with reputable customer service. If you think about it, solutions providers should be held to the same high standards of service that a hotel guest expects from the hotel. We are all in the service industry, whether we are a front desk agent, a General Manager or the CEO of a company that develops and sells systems to hoteliers. We all need to commit to offering outstanding customer service - so make sure that you do reference checks on the service element of the software provider you are contemplating on purchasing. This will substantially reduce any future (costly) headaches.Of course, many other elements play a role in the decision to commit to a new property management system, but the items listed above are critical for hoteliers to ask of every software provider. The right solution partner must be up to speed on the current challenges facing the hospitality industry and fully prepared to address how future innovations will affect hotel operations.Making the right choice is never easy with so many vendors to choose from you really must do your homework. Investing in a new PMS is time-consuming, but implementing the right system for your hotel will take your operations, revenue, and service to the next level.

StayNTouch and MGM Resorts International Redefining Hotel Check-in on the Las Vegas Strip and Beyond

StayNTouch Inc. 16 May 2017
The StayNTouch platform is delivered using two solutions on a single cloud platform. The Rover PMS Overlay mobilizes existing front desk and housekeeping operations. Zest is a guest-centric, mobile website experience, enabling check-in and check-out, preference collection, and upsell opportunities. ARIA, a AAA Five Diamond Award winner, was the first to roll out StayNTouch's cloud-based mobility platform, offering guests a variety of check-in and check-out options via their smartphone. Guest impact was immediate, with check-in lines and wait times significantly reduced. Following ARIA, the platform was launched at Bellagio, Vdara, MGM Grand, The Signature at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Delano Las Vegas, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, Luxor and Excalibur in Las Vegas. In addition, MGM Grand Detroit, MGM National Harbor in Maryland, Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi and Gold Strike in Tunica in Mississippi now offer mobile check-in."We have been searching for a technology component that could improve the guest arrival process at our properties," said Sy Esfahani, Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President for MGM Resorts International. "Following the on-going success we saw at ARIA, we decided to deploy StayNTouch's solutions across all of our properties. Now our guests will have greater control over their stay, checking in and out with ease."Jos Schaap, CEO and Founder at StayNTouch, said, "We are delighted to get close to completing the roll-out to all of the MGM Resorts' properties. Because of their tireless commitment to improving guest satisfaction through innovation, MGM Resorts continues to be the hospitality leader that others try to emulate. StayNTouch is proud that we can be part of that innovative mission."About StayNTouch Inc.StayNTouch is a "Software as a Service" hotel property management systems (PMS) company focused on developing solutions that help hotels raise service levels, drive revenues, reduce costs, and ultimately change the way hotels can captivate their guests. Developed with mobility in mind, the pioneering platform enables hotels to create long lasting relationships with their guests by delivering personalized service levels that today's guests require. StayNTouch operates on tablets and smartphones, empowering hotel employees to go above and beyond in exceeding guest expectations at every touch point.Powering over 75,000 rooms globally, our game-changing solution frees hotels from the constraints of legacy or premise systems, dramatically streamlines operations, increases margins, and revolutionizes how front-line staff connect with guests. StayNTouch is a trusted partner to many of the most forward thinking hotels, resorts, casinos and chains in the industry, including Yotel, Zoku Amsterdam, Valencia Hotels, The Freehand Hotels, Modus hotels and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.To learn more watch our video "THE NEW WAY... TO HOTEL!"Twitter: @StayNTouchIncFacebook: facebook.com/stayntouchLinkedIn: LinkedIn/stayntouchAbout MGM Resorts InternationalMGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) is among the world's leading entertainment companies. With national and international locations featuring best-in-class hotels and casinos, state-of-the-art meetings and conference spaces, incredible live and theatrical entertainment experiences, and an inspired array of restaurant and retail offerings, MGM Resorts creates immersive, iconic experiences through its suite of Las Vegas-inspired brands. The MGM Resorts portfolio includes 15 of the most recognizable hospitality and resort brands throughout 27 locations. The company is expanding throughout the U.S. and around the world, recently opening MGM National Harbor in Maryland and very soon, MGM Springfield in Massachusetts and MGM COTAI in Asia. The 77,000 global employees of MGM Resorts are proud to be recognized as one of FORUNE(r) Magazine's World's Most Admired Companies(r). For more information, visit us at www.mgmresorts.com.Twitter: @MGMResortsIntlFacebook: facebook.com/mgmresorts
Article by Jos Schaap

The Secret to Giving Hotel Guests What They Want

StayNTouch Inc. 8 May 2017
Gazing into a crystal ball to see the future has always been alluring. Imagine if a person could truly see the future. What an incredible impact this would have on our world. Hoteliers today are all trying to gaze into their own distinct crystal ball to better understand what guests want and how they can deliver on these guest needs and desires. In a recent Phocuswright Research Report titled, U.S Traveler Technology Survey Sixth Edition, travelers are looking for more engagement with the hotel property and those who run the hotel. When it comes to apps, 49% of travelers wanted to use their mobile device for check-in and check-out while 32% wanted to manage and make their bookings. Finally, 16% wanted to chat and text with hotel staff.When it comes to sharing their travel experiences, travelers were using their mobile device 48% of the time to text with their travel companions and others, and 31% were using messaging apps. What this shows us is that today's travelers wants to be in control of their trip - from the shopping and purchase of their specific trip elements - right through to their in-destination transactions. In days' past, there was a more personal connection between traveler and those who worked in a hotel or at an airline because travel was less easily attainable. Unfortunately, we have turned the travel and hotel experience into a commodity, and the implementations of some specific technologies have taken us here. The systems that run hotels and airlines have been able to drive major efficiencies. However, at the same time, the traveler or hotel guest now feels as if they are just a merely a seat or room number. The hotel industry is trying to change this perception, but it's proving to be extremely difficult.The hotel industry is also trying to keep up with the alternative lodging industry (Airbnb, HomeAway, etc.) as this space has greater technological flexibility due to its "newness". They have also been able to use the social sphere to initiate relationships between the owners of the different locations and their guests by letting both parties review each other. The hotel industry would never do this. In another Phocuswright report, Private Accommodation Muscles in on Hotels in the US and Europe, it is stated that private accommodations are flourishing in the U.S. and growing at double the pace of the overall travel market. More and more travelers are choosing private lodging rentals over traditional options for leisure trips.So, how do hoteliers give guests what they want?Hoteliers need to define the types of guests that stay at their hotel. Are they there on business? Are they traveling for leisure? Are they bringing their family? Once the basic elements are determined, the hotel can dig deeper to understand further what their guests are looking for. There are some fundamentals that every hotel can do to exceed guest expectations. They can make sure that the rooms are clean and bright, help each and every guest with their on-property requests quickly and efficiently, and most importantly, hotel employees can smile.Once the hotel has done everything they can to deliver the best guest experience to their guests, they can start analyzing their data. The data that can be squeezed out of a property system or a central reservation platform can go a long way, but at times, it may not enough. Why? Because the persona and requirements of the guest can change based on the purpose of their stay. As stated earlier, a guest can have different requirements if they are traveling alone versus with their family. So, each guest record must have the capability to include multiple personas and profiles.Also, there are intangible items that may not be obvious using the data provided through systems integration. For example, maybe the guest has a hectic schedule and just wants to be left alone - and does not want to speak with the on-site staff. The hotel must be able to cater to this type of guest, and this requires service level options like self-serve check-in capabilities, mobile room keys, service requests and ordering via tablet or smartphone, and the list goes on and on. This guest is what we would call a "low-touch guest" in this circumstance. One the flip side, you may have a guest that is a high maintenance and wants everything is taken care of them by the hotel, - and loves interacting with the hotel staff. These types of guest would be called "high-touch guest". Once hoteliers authentically understand who their guests are, they will be able to deliver the hotel experience that he or she requires.Finally, we as an industry have often put up barriers between the hotel and our guests. These obstacles - like the front desk, business center or even the cart that a housekeeper rolls through the hallways - make it challenging to connect. We need to leverage new technologies that take the handcuffs off our guests and our employees, so the engagement model increases and we can deliver more personalized experiences. We also need to be open and honest with our guests and invite their feedback, whether it is good or bad and embrace the changes that may be required.The hotel industry is a wonderful world on many levels, - but it is time we get back to basics! By breaking down the barriers, capturing profile data, and embracing innovative technologies, we can give guests memorable experiences that drive great reviews and keep them coming back.
Article by Jos Schaap

Move Over Information Age - This is the Age of Experience

StayNTouch Inc. 25 April 2017
Looking back, the agricultural and industrial ages both ended and were replaced by the information age. They will always be present, we will continue to need agricultural, industry and information but we are now seeing a new phase. Thanks to mobile screens, virtual reality, wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) advancements, it seems we have shifted into what is being commonly referred to as the experience age. This phase combines not only the digital age but also the experiential age. In a TechCrunch article published in May of 2016 written by Mike Wadhera, the founder of Teleport, he stated that "Thanks to mobile screens and Internet everywhere, we're now entering what I call the Experience Age." The Experience Age refers not to the information we're so rapidly consuming, but how we choose to consume this information.In the 1990's we developed software to help with operations and to collect data that would help us run our companies more effectively. The problem was that most businesses really didn't know how to use this data. We would collect incredible amounts of information, store it in data warehouses, and then try to decipher the insights into buckets that we could then act on. It just wasn't as easy as we thought it would be. Now we have amazing new technologies such as fast search and digital devices that allow users to gain insights from the information that was previously stored behind closed doors.Combining digital with experiential, we have come up with some rather innovative solutions not only for the hotel industry, but for all people. The introduction of self-driving cars, the broad use of a cell phone to be so much more than just a phone and IBM's Watson, that yes, uses crazy amounts of data to deliver its results but the delivery mechanism is whatever IBM can think up. Never before have we had connected devices of all sorts uploading data and/or communicating machine to machine as we do today and there is a shift underway which prioritizes data over technology.In the travel and hotel space, we can now use different devices to check in, check out, order room service, or when on a plane, order onboard amenities. All the time we are doing this, the information is being collected to deliver the next experience we have that is catered to our likes and wants versus a generic one-way communications environment. Without even realizing this, we can now use this information to provide better service using digital devices with access to information. We are creating a digital personalization age that focuses on experiences and the delivery of these experiences.There indeed has been a change and there are three hallmarks of this shift from information to digital personalization and an experienced-based age.The massive growth of self-service online shoppingOur phones are now our windows into the worldOur expectations of "service" have changedWhen you look at the winners and losers as we transform into a new age, the winners are the companies that had the vision to see the change coming. The winners include brands like Netflix, Accenture, McDonald's, Spotify, Amazon, Apple, HomeAway, SnapChat, Visit Las Vegas, Virgin Atlantic, Marriott and Uber. The losers could not move as quickly and adapt to the massive change in consumer interaction like Blockbuster, Radio Shack, Sony Ericsson, US Airways, Howard Johnson, and yes, the Taxi trade.The hotel industry can learn from the winners noted above. We need to be as innovative and proactive as the best companies in the world. The hotel industry has, at times, been slow to embrace technological change - but things are moving so quickly these days that there is little choice but to change with a vengeance in order to keep up with the "new guest" and their ever-evolving expectations.
Article by Jos Schaap

These Major Trends Are Changing the Hospitality Industry, as You Know It

StayNTouch Inc. 19 April 2017
In the hospitality industry, the only thing that's constant is change. It's clear you can't talk about the hospitality industry these days without talking about disruption. As a hotelier, you need to constantly keep your pulse on emerging trends to avoid disappointing guests and falling behind competitors. The priority no longer lies in only increasing the number of guests you attract, but rather improving their experience to keep them coming back--whether it be online, on-property or across different touchpoints. Here are the three important changes that'll make (and continue to make) a big impact on the hotel landscape.Changing Guest Behavior and ExpectationsIn an increasingly competitive environment, the way hotels react to guests' expectations has a dramatic impact on their profitability. Guests are continually voting with their wallets through their purchases. Immediate accessibility, mobile obsession, personalized experiences and contradictory preferences--these are just some of the challenges that hoteliers are tackling daily. Today's guests are less interested in the quick sell (i.e. low price sale) and more concerned with building a long-term relationship (i.e. meaningful interactions). If they're an existing guest, they want to be treated from the standpoint of knowledge about the past business. Guests also realize the power they have via social media and online reviews - and will use it when not satisfied with a service. While defining various persona's and generation-based profiles have their place, it is important to keep in mind that millennial guest on vacation with their family has different expectations then that same millennial on a business trip. Hotels need to meet the guests where they are and satisfy their sophisticated needs. The key consideration here is that guests and types of stays are not all the same, so it is counterproductive to treat them that way.Technology Shaping the Guest JourneyAs new technologies emerge, hotels of all sizes can't afford to sit on the sidelines. In a world where new technologies pop up all the time, the hotels that put guest needs first are in a position to win. Over the last few years, hoteliers have realized that online and offline are converging and they need to integrate their systems. This evolution has driven more hotels to move to cloud-based PMS systems, as these solutions enable them to scale quickly, work from anywhere, and get real-time insights into various aspects of their business. Next generation systems offer advanced functionality without the restrictions and overhead costs of being tied down to large, complicated legacy systems.Mobile devices are increasingly becoming an essential part of the guest journey - before, during and after their stay. In fact, sixty percent of all travel-related searches begin from a mobile device. From travel research and hotels booking to checking in and ordering services while on the property, smartphones and tablets are quickly becoming the preferred method of engagement for most travelers. Mobile technology can also help hoteliers increase their sales of ancillary products and services. But mobile is just the beginning. A study by McKinsey found that the uses of IoT in retail could have an economic impact of $410 billion to $1.2 trillion per year in 2025. That may be a long way to go, but that doesn't mean forward-thinking hoteliers shouldn't be laying down the foundation to prepare and take action. The future of hospitality is all about using technology to strengthen guest relationships and improve the guest's experience while making the day-to-day operations more efficient. Hotels using solutions built from the ground up with Open API technology are in better position to scale and prepare for future innovation.One Size Does Not Fit All Service DeliveryThe old adage was never truer: You can't personalize unless you know the person. Since today's consumers go through multiple channels in their path to booking travel, collecting and studying data in silos won't cut it anymore. Analyzing online and offline data together gives hoteliers a more comprehensive picture of their guests' preferences and needs. By understanding what guests are looking for during their stay, hoteliers can ensure they have the products and services ready to deliver when guests arrive. "The one area where hotels [still] have the competitive edge over online travel agents is when the customer walks through the door. It's here when the guest is immersed in the hotel experience, that hoteliers have a chance to upsell" (Eye for Travel, 2015). Exceptional service delivery means providing the right service, at the right time to the right person. This of course can range from offering self-service check-in, honoring the DND sign on the door for total privacy with staff little interaction to offering personalized ancillaries and upsells to create a dynamic guest experience.When it comes right down to it, disruption is being driven primarily by technology. Any hotel that is not embracing this is setting themselves up for failure. The truth is that to be successful - you have to adapt to change.

Travel Tripper, StayNTouch and SnapShot Reveal How to Build the Perfect Hotel Tech Stack in new Webinar

StayNTouch Inc. 19 April 2017
Travel Tripper, a full-service hotel technology provider with hotel booking and digital marketing solutions has teamed up with leading hotel PMS provider StayNTouch and hotel data company and marketplace SnapShot, for a joint webinar titled "Building the perfect hotel tech stack for your property."The event will assist hotels in building a robust hotel technology strategy that is sure to future-proof their property and better manage, sell, market and run their operations.The trio of hospitality industry experts will reveal tips and tools to help hotels engineer an effective technology stackIn this webinar, attendees will learn:The key tools and platforms that hotel GMs, revenue managers, and marketers need to stay competitiveThe most important components of a modern CRS and booking systemHow a mobile PMS can streamline hotel operations and improve FOH and BOH communicationsHow to create a centralized location so you can have access to timely and accurate dataHow to evaluate tech providers: what questions you should be asking"The winners of tomorrow are going to be the hotels that understand how to leverage technology to provide a key differentiator amongst their competitors," said Jos Schaap, Founder and CEO of StayNTouch. "Knowing how to use technology to improve your hotel's bottom line and taking action to ensure that your building a solid stack is important for every hotel in the modern age. I'm excited to make that argument and share my insight with hoteliers.""There are dozens, even hundreds, of applications available to hotels. The difficulty comes in deciding which technologies to choose and ensuring that each of these applications integrates," said Stefan Tweraser, CEO of SnapShot. "Hotels that build the right customized, fully-integrated technology stack will be able to better understand their data, improve operations, maximize profits, and improve the overall guest experience.""Today's hoteliers have a tough job. Not only do they have to master the business of hospitality and guest service, they now have to become masters of multiple types of technology as well, from the PMS to CRS and everything in between," said Gautam Lulla, President of Travel Tripper. "This webinar is intended to help hotel managers ask the right questions and find the right technology partners that will help their business succeed."The webinar will be hosted on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 at 11:00 AM EDT (8 AM PDT, 4 PM London).To save your seat for this free webinar, register here. About Travel Tripper--Travel Tripper is a full-service hospitality technology provider and strategic partner in helping hotels worldwide to generate demand, optimize conversions, and maximize revenue. Known in the industry for its constant innovation and exceptional expertise, Travel Tripper provides a comprehensive suite of solutions that empowers hotels from search to stay, including central reservation systems, hotel distribution, website and booking, and digital marketing. For more information, visit traveltripper.com.About StayNTouch--StayNTouch is a "Software as a Service" hotel property management systems (PMS) company focused on developing solutions that help hotels raise service levels, drive revenues, reduce costs, and ultimately change the way hotels can captivate their guests. Developed with mobility in mind, the pioneering platform enables hotels to create long lasting relationships with their guests by delivering personalized service levels that today's guests require. StayNTouch operates on tablets and smartphones, empowering hotel employees to go above and beyond in exceeding guest expectations at every touch point.Powering over 75,000 rooms globally, our game-changing solution frees hotels from the constraints of legacy or premise systems, dramatically streamlines operations, increases margins, and revolutionizes how front-line staff connect with guests. StayNTouch is a trusted partner to many of the most forward thinking hotels, resorts, casinos and chains in the industry, including Yotel, Zoku Amsterdam, Valencia Hotels, The Freehand Hotels, Modus Hotels and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.For more information, visit http://www.stayntouch.com.About SnapShot--Founded in 2013 in Zell-am-See, Austria, SnapShot is a hotel data company and marketplace for hotel applications, with offices in Europe, Asia Pacific and the United States. In the last 12 months, SnapShot has signed more than 3,000 hotels to its platform, as well as 40+ data partners.The Snapshot Marketplace offers a wide range of applications from Snapshot and third party developers. These include comprehensive hotel data analytics, easy-to-use budget control tools and a user-centric hotel communication/messaging service.Acting as a hub for application developers needing to access and work with hotel data for applications and hotels needing secure, integrated applications, SnapShot is a unique resource in the industry, allowing a fast and efficient access to technology for hotels, and a rapid and secure access to hotel data for developers. To find out more, visit www.snapshot.travel.
Article by Jos Schaap

How Open APIs are Transforming the Hotel Industry

StayNTouch Inc. 29 March 2017
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have been gaining relevance among hoteliers to transform their business and develop their digital capabilities for some time, but have they truly been harnessed to their full potential? As the 'digital glue' that links applications together, APIs foster collaboration with both internal and external partners and resources, and ultimately optimize operations and guest experiences. There is certainly a beneficial impact on the hotel industry when technology providers can integrate with other systems using proprietary or Open APIs to assist hoteliers in cutting costs, driving revenue and delivering exceptional service. However, with the vast number of vendors floating around the hotel technology industry, the utilization of APIs to drive results has become a driving force in hotel software selection.When one looks at the complexity of hotel operations, the complex nature of inventory distribution and all of the other touchpoints that affect a hotel, it's no wonder that systems need to communicate effectively with each other. In a Phocuswright research paper titled, APIs: A Strategic Imperative published in April of 2016, Bob Offett, the writer of the article stated that there is a growing API economy where there are a number of businesses solely focused on being providers of APIs. The growth of APIs has been surging, and this is a very good thing. It levels the playing field and enhances the decision-making process when looking at purchasing hotel PMS systems.In the paper, Offett writes that "APIs are the digital glue that enables new revenue for exciting business, and provides for new ecosystems, many of which have yet to be defined."The hotel industry is at a technological expectations cross-road. Hoteliers are inundated with a vast number of service providers, technology vendors/partners, and distribution challenges. Hoteliers have to deal with all of these issues, and on top of this, they have to ensure that their guests are happy. Being a GM/Owner of a hotel today is incredibly more complex than it was 20 years ago. Hoteliers need to look at companies that enable them to focus on the real aspect of why hotels were built in the first place. To offer a guest somewhere comfortable to rest and to deliver excellent service, ensuring that the next time the traveler returns, they choose to stay at your hotel. Of course, it also comes down to running a profitable property. Getting back to basics on-property should be a hotelier's top priority, leaving the technology to take care of itself.Many APIs are now trending towards open interface architecture, whereas in the past, technology companies looked at these types of integrations as revenue sources. Companies would keep the data behind private iron curtains, practically holding the hotelier hostage. The introduction of Open APIs is forcing technology vendors to add value to their primary offerings rather than trying to rely on revenue from interfaces. Ultimately this is a huge win for hoteliers. By working with technology partners that have a clean, Open API which other developers can readily connect to, hotels to can implement other systems without limitations and the fear of yet another cost.The technological beating heart of any hotel is the property management system (PMS). In the past, it was likely stored in the basement of a hotel, possibly connected to another "parent brand system" and also connected to other on systems such as the POS, a PBX, a Call Accounting system, a spa system, and so on. These connections would have been serial, and though they functioned and served their purpose, the hotel's technology infrastructure was unable to scale in concert with new platforms that no longer needed to reside on-premise.So, fast forward a few decades, and we are now in a time when new solutions for the hospitality industry are launched virtually daily. Many of these products are cloud-based and not handcuffed by antiquated technologies. Most of these systems seen as periphery systems -systems that are important such a guest engagement solution. However, if a hotelier does not implement one of these types of periphery systems, they may not be detrimentally impacted in the short term. The real transformation is happening with primary systems. Systems that are imperative to have in order to run hotel operations at the highest level.The main system, as stated early, is the hotel's PMS. Choosing a PMS that has the flexibility to deliver an Open API is key and will help you make viable future technology investments. Being able to implement a cloud-based PMS, with a Software as a service (SaaS) delivery model that enables a hotel to instantly connect with guest service applications, as well as many other applications, is finally a reality.As guest expectations continue to change and the technology that surrounds our industry keeps evolving, decisions related to transitioning to new platforms and solutions can seem daunting. Fundamentally, hoteliers need to look for systems that provide technological flexibility by using Open APIs, and ultimately, select innovative systems that deliver on their promises.
Article by Jos Schaap

Hotel Technology - The Easiest (and Most Costly) Decision is Not to Make a Decision

StayNTouch Inc. 14 March 2017
For several years now, we have observed the frustration--sometimes even exasperation--that many hotel executives feel toward information technology and their IT departments. There can be as many as 56 different types of hotel software systems in a single hotel. These systems manage everything from accounting, in-room TV's, front desk operations, mini bars, restaurants, the list goes on. It is no wonder that sometimes the easiest decision is not to make one due to the surmounting complexities and a large number of hotel software vendors.If you look on the popular software review site Capterra, you'll find 75 property management systems providers listed. The number of hotel technology vendors increases when you get to the point of sale (POS) systems, Wi-Fi solutions, telephone (PBX) hardware and software vendors.Brian Young, the Managing Director of the Castle Hill Inn in Newport Rhode Island, commented that "There are so many providers of platforms, primary systems, and secondary systems that the decision-making process becomes highly involved. While running a hotel, you need to constantly stay informed about the latest hotel technologies available and their relevance to your business. It's challenging to keep up."So once again it is understandable that sometimes it is just easier not to make a decision. The hotel technology landscape is moving at light speed so fully comprehending the emerging developments, their applicability to your operations and ROI both from a cost and time/training perspective need to be ascertained before moving forward. So how does a GM or IT Manager decide what hotel software systems to invest in and when is the best time to implement these systems? There are some basics that should be part of the decision-making process if you are considering investing in a new PMS hotel system for your property.Does it integrate well with all the other systems you have on the site that will be complimentary to the new product?Does it have the necessary requirements to do the job?Is it technologically advanced and scalable for the future (cloud, SaaS, )?Does it help your hotel drive revenues and guest satisfaction?Does it help you change the game and deliver exactly what the guests are looking for?No longer should the decision be made solely based on feature/functionality of the hotel management software, but on how these capabilities genuinely complement the guest experience. Any new system should also make employees' lives easier so they can spend more time cultivating relationships with their guests and delivering the best service possible.Just a few years ago, the leading criteria for choosing a new hotel property management system, would have been as follows:ReportingFunctional DesignSystem FeaturesTraining and SupportSecurity (PA-DSS)Corporate ReputationThese requirements all matter in any decision-making process, but now there are new variables that ultimately make things more complicated.Freedom is something that is rarely taken into consideration when procuring a system. The freedom to integrate, deliver services, provide the cost model that works best for your hotel, as well as empowers your staff to build relationships with your guests. Freedom is a critical element to evaluate when you embark on the journey to look for any new hotel PMS. Ultimately, the goal is to provide the executive management team as well as the front-line employees the freedom to run the hotel, not spend their valuable time running the technology that runs the hotel.These hotel technology decisions will never be easy, but delaying a decision to upgrade to a new system could have a detrimental impact on your guests and potential revenue streams. Also, older systems can be expensive, with antiquated support and maintenance models. You may find that moving to a more modern platform decreases your overall cost burden.Finally, the right decision can be made easier if you work with a trusted partner with proven industry expertise rather than just a tech vendor. It is true that the term "partner" gets used too frequently - but if you can find a technology provider that actually does become your partner, they can help you grow your business, decrease your costs and increase your revenues. In the end, winning in business is all about making decisions and executing on them. Your success depends on your ability to develop speed as a habit in both.

StayNTouch, Fuel & Flip.to Reveal How to Win Guests at Every Step of the Traveler Journey in Upcoming Webinar

StayNTouch Inc. 14 March 2017
StayNTouch, innovators in mobile technology and Property Management Systems, have teamed up with travel industry and direct booking experts Fuel, and hotel advocacy platform pioneers Flip.to, for a joint webinar--'The Evolution of Guest Expectations and How Hotels can Exceed the New Demands.' The event will help hotels exceed their guests' evolving expectations to build better guest relationships and drive more repeat business.The trio of hospitality industry experts will reveal insight on navigating each phase of the purchasing decision, from inspiration and discovery until long after their stay.Key topics include:Your guests' new demands--Understanding the evolution of traveler expectationsPlanning travel--Knowing your guests and differentiating your property to gain maximum market shareOn-property hospitality--Enhancing the experience with refined service elementsRekindling your guests favorite moments--Staying in touch, building long term loyalty and repeat business"Guests today are defining their own standards of service, thanks to the digitally driven world we now live in," said Dante Sapp, Product Manager at StayNTouch. "Knowing how to adapt and exceed demands at every phase of the traveler journey is vital for attracting and retaining loyal customers. I'm excited for the opportunity to partner with Fuel and Flip.to and share these valuable insights with hoteliers.""Understanding your guest, knowing what factors matter when planning a trip, and digging into how travelers do their research is key for hotels to get more bookings," added Stuart Butler, Chief Operating Officer at Fuel. "We're excited to be able to deliver advice on these topics with leaders from StayNTouch and Flip.to. Hotels will better know how to compete and inspire greater conversions."Richard Dunbar, Director of Partnerships at Flip.to echoed the sentiment. "We're thrilled to help guide this session with our friends at StayNTouch and Fuel. Attendees will walk away from this webinar with ideas they can immediately action. From there, hotels will know how to better enhance the guest experience in every part of the travel journey and build better relationships with their guests in the long term."The presentation will be hosted on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 1 PM EST (10 AM PST, 6 PM GMT).To save your seat for this free webinar, register here. StayNTouch Hotel Software provides a fully-featured mobile Property Management System, a PMS-overlay and guest self-service capabilities. Visit http://www.StayNTouch.com to request a demo.Fuel is a comprehensive digital marketing agency with an emphasis in travel and tourism; services include website development, SEO, PPC, email marketing and more. To get started, visit http://www.FuelTravel.com.Flip.to is a marketing platform that lets your guests become advocates for introducing your hotel and earning new visitors and customers. To learn more, take a tour at http://flip.to.About StayNTouch--StayNTouch is a "Software as a Service" hotel property management systems (PMS) company focused on developing solutions that help hotels raise service levels, drive revenues, reduce costs, and ultimately change the way hotels can captivate their guests. Developed with mobility in mind, the pioneering platform enables hotels to create long lasting relationships with their guests by delivering personalized service levels that today's guests require. StayNTouch operates on tablets and smartphones, empowering hotel employees to go above and beyond in exceeding guest expectations at every touch point.Powering over 65,000 rooms globally, our game-changing solution frees hotels from the constraints of legacy or premise systems, dramatically streamlines operations, increases margins, and revolutionizes how front-line staff connect with guests. StayNTouch is a trusted partner to many of the most forward thinking hotels, resorts, casinos and chains in the industry, including Yotel, Zoku Amsterdam, Valencia Hotels, The Freehand Hotels, Porto Vista San Diego and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.For more information, visit http://www.stayntouch.com.About Fuel--At Fuel, we think a little differently. We believe that we're making the world just a little bit better by connecting people with the right products and services. "Travel Marketing... Simplified." That's our motto and our commitment. Headquartered in the heart of the travel and tourism industry in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Fuel provides all digital services in-house through a team of experts who understand the potential of well-executed, effective online marketing. To learn more about Fuel and to take your travel marketing to the next level, call (843) 839-1456, visit our website or check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+. http://www.FuelTravel.comAbout Flip.to, the advocacy platform for hotels--Reach, inspire and convert an entirely new global audience of travelers every day with Flip.to.Flip.to lets your guests introduce your hotel to the world, combining trust with massive reach to travelers just one degree away--warm leads who are the perfect fit. Start building your ever-growing team of advocates who turn meaningful moments into measurable ROI, and instantly see the unmatched impact when you switch on this entirely new channel. http://flip.to
Article by Jos Schaap

CFO/Controller Alert: Hotel SaaS will make your life easier

StayNTouch Inc. 2 March 2017
A hotel CFO or Controller has a very difficult job in today's demanding hospitality environment. They not only have to ensure that the hotel increases profitability month over month and year over year, but they must also have a deep understanding of all the latest technologies that can be implemented to reduce costs and gain efficiencies.CFOs are constantly being bombarded with companies trying to sell them solutions that promise to deliver on every aspect of their hotel's requirements. The challenge comes down to determining which systems fit the hotel's unique business needs as well as what the underlying technology looks like. Is the application delivered on-property or in the cloud? How will it integrate with other primary applications that are already be in place? And most importantly, how much will it cost? What is the ROI? And how will they budget for this new expenditure?So, with all the emerging technologies designed to have a direct implication on revenue, profitability and guest satisfaction - how can a busy CFO or Controller decide what business applications will help your employees get their jobs done more effectively with less risk and up-front capital?Total Cost of OwnershipIn Deloitte's most recent quarterly (Q3 2016) CFO Signals survey found that almost 80 percent work in North American companies that have implemented cloud solutions. The solutions are primarily focused on the sales and marketing side of their businesses however primary operational solutions are also gaining momentum.There is quite a delta between on premise solutions and SaaS solutions. A CFO needs to look at the variables related to the costs of software, hardware, labor, consulting, and training associated with an on-premise solution versus a SaaS delivered solution.There are definitely costs savings to be had when implementing a SaaS solution and the lower TCO allows companies to re-invest in innovative ideas rather than technological infrastructure. However, CFOs need to look at the same metrics they use when purchasing any other solutions or platform. What is the ROI and payback period? Does the implementation of the SaaS offering help to increase guest satisfaction, decrease operational costs and possibly even deliver new revenue opportunities? There are some many questions that need to be considered however using the same decision based metrics may help in swaying a CGO to look at SaaS in a favorable light.Proper Budgeting and ForecastingOne of the most aggravating issues that CFO' and Controllers must deal with related to technology purchases is delivery and maintenance creep. While an on- premise ERP suite can also deliver much of what is needed, the imperatives of scalability and agility mean on-premise hardware is now viewed as a hindrance to growth. In light of the demand to also drive unnecessary IT costs out of business, IT infrastructure and its support and maintenance costs are now viewed as unacceptable. The older platforms will have ongoing maintenance contracts for support and upgrades, but there is always something unanticipated that pops up during the implementation and use of a system that can be unforeseen. SaaS fees are inclusive of updates and upgrades to ensure that the hotel using it stays current on guest and market demands.Implementing a SaaS solution takes the guesswork away from the CFO or Controller. They know exactly how much their monthly spend will be for the solution and the spend covers everything related to the implementation, support and initial roll-out of the solution. Managing this from a budgetary perspective makes life easier and helps with maintaining positive cash flow. There are no surprises.Flexibility to change with new business requirementsFinally, as SaaS solutions in the hotel industry become more widely adopted, the integration of the systems will become easier and easier to track. SaaS supports agility, rapid scalability, fast decision making, and real-time information on guests and the business. The anytime, anywhere accessibility create a substantial amount of flexibility to manage the ever-changing demands of the hotel industry. By operating in the cloud, back-up data and storage capacity is greater and frees up on-premises bandwidth for other vital business operations and guest needs. SaaS hotel applications make it easier to get new users up and running, turn on modules or features and add new capabilities. The cloud also opens the door for innovation by introducing new ways to engage and share information between staff, departments, and guests with innovative options like mobile PMS systems.Software-as-a-Service is booming as hotel companies aim to reduce their total IT expenditure, but it's also shifting the IT balance of power towards the hotel's financial executives. As the availability and impact of technology continues to evolve, CFOs and Controllers will often become the gatekeepers to technological advancement. However, when it comes to the hotel solutions in the cloud, leaders are embracing the cost saving benefits, less maintenance, scalability, superior remote accessibility, and tighter security.So, the only question left right now for those hotels who want to better manage and grow their business is to choose the hotel SaaS solution provider wisely!
Article by Jos Schaap

Cloud PMS - A Safe Bet for Security, Liability and Payments

StayNTouch Inc. 15 February 2017
In the hotel industry, nothing is more important than making guests happy. Nothing that is, except keeping them safe. This is relevant no matter what the issues are and whether technology is involved or not. It's every hotelier's worst nightmare: a data breach that shatters the brand's reputation and destroys guest trust. In the past, managing data security as a hotel owner may not have been a priority - but it is now - and should be top of mind.There was an article in Yahoo news back in January about hackers that took not only the hotel but all of its guest's virtually hostage. They did this by hacking the hotel's property management system (PMS). Unfortunately, in most hotels, all technology is interdependent, and as such, they were able to lock the guests in their rooms, or out of their rooms as the door locks were integrated with the PMS Software. The hackers demanded cash, and they got it. Though this makes for an interesting news item, the ramifications of such a hack are far and wide.In a report researched by Sky High Networks, the percentage of organizations that experience at least one threat per month from data exfiltration (hackers) is 49.8%. Over the last ten years, nearly 1 billion consumer records were stolen through data breaches in the United States. That is a lot of hacking! As cloud usage continues to soar, we can rest assured that these percentages will increase. There are also several different types of attacks; these include Point of Sale intrusions, Denial of Service attacks, like the one mentioned above, and Insider and Privilege attacks, perpetrated by those who have rights within the systems.Over the last ten years, nearly 1 billion consumer records were stolen through data breaches in the United States. However, we are beginning to trust cloud-based solutions more and more every day. When you think of it, we use OneDrive, Salesforce, Skype for Business, Exchange online and Cisco WebEx without even thinking these are cloud solutions. We also pay online using personal credit cards on sites such as Amazon, eBay, and the list goes on and on. This does not mean that we must stay vigilant, it only means that people are becoming more and more comfortable working and transacting with POS solutions they cannot touch or feel.In the hotel industry, we are lucky to have so many technologies to choose from and an even larger number of companies delivering these technologies to our industry. This, however, can make the decision process regarding the purchase of new technologies quite daunting. When looking for a property management system (PMS), which is the beating heart of your hotel, many variables must be considered. Feature/functionality ranks highest on the list, but security should be a very close second.A cloud based PMS can be more secure that an on-promise based platform. One may not think so, but this is indeed the case. Most reputable cloud-based solutions use powerful encryptions. These encryptions are very strong and cannot be easily defeated. The trick is choosing the right multi-layered security approach for your hotel. Having a multi-layered approach ensures that there are many failsafe measures in place that will enhance the overall security of your guests and your hotel.Choose a Cloud PMS that:Takes liability away from the hotel and to a large some extent from the PMS vendor by using tokenization - this is where the PMS does NOT store or transfer any CC numbers)Utilizes P2PE encryption - is a payment security solution that instantaneously converts confidential credit card data and information into the indecipherable code at the swipe of the card to prevent hacking and fraud.Plans a switch to EMV or known as "chip and pin" outside of the US - this is the chip and PON technology used by many credit card companies and is being rolled out in the USUltimately you need to choose the best technology for your individual property. When you decide to switch to a new PMS, consider one that meets your current needs while addressing issues that may arise in the future. The future holds great innovation that will have a beneficial impact on the hotel industry, but it can also be intimidating and scary when that evolution is moving so quickly. But it doesn't have to be. If we set the bar high enough and we're using it to solve problems, technology is just a tool to personalize the guest journey and achieve a 360-degree view of the guest.
Article by Jos Schaap

The Hotel Industry and SaaS. Does it Differ from Other Industries?

StayNTouch Inc. 31 January 2017
Software-as-a-service has gone mainstream, and statistics related to the adoption rate of SaaS applications by industry are everywhere. The one interesting observation is that the hotel industry is not necessarily mentioned in any of these statistics. This fact is surprising since the hotel industry drives over 493 Billion dollars in revenue annually per Statista, the statistics portal. Even with this impressive number, for some reason, our industry often goes unnoticed.Adoption of SaaS is growing exponentially in most every industry, with SaaS cloud hardware and infrastructure software spending projected to reach $55B in 2026. In a ZDNet article published last August, Gartner placed SaaS on its way to the "Plateau of Productivity" that focused on applications such as Salesforce, Office 365, Box and others. These are all highly utilized business applications, and the trend towards the implementation of SaaS solutions to drive engagement and productivity is now a business imperative.The advancement of SaaS solutions has always addressed much broader business functions rather than industry verticals so it makes sense that they would see a higher level of early adoption. CRM, ERP, and HR can be seen as horizontal SaaS applications that touch much larger business segments and can leveraged to bring down costs and driving up efficiency. By 2020, penetration of SaaS versus traditional software deployment will be over 25% and packaged software will shrink to 10% of new enterprise installations (source: IDC 50th Anniversary, Transformation Everywhere).Now, it is the hotel industry's turn to ratchet up the adoption of cloud-based property management systems, focusing on vertical adoption of SaaS products. This does not mean that our industry will not purchase horizontal SaaS solutions, it just means that these horizontal solutions do not necessarily meet the needs of our relationship and service-based, complex ecosystem.To answer the question, "Does it differ from other industries"? Yes, it certainly does. The hospitality industry is a fast-paced, 24/7/365 business that is dependent on a plethora of systems. In the past, there was a designated room in the hotel where these 'traditional' systems resided. This is also where they broke down. In other trades that run from Monday to Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM, the mission critical nature of platforms is not as extreme as in our industry. Not to discount other sectors as times have changed and there is an emerging necessity to have on-demand platforms in all categories. However, the pressure of the of the hospitality environment makes other industries pale by comparison.Hotel systems leading the pack when it comes to migrating to the cloud and being delivered in the SaaS structure include property management systems (PMS), point of sale systems (POS), sales and marketing systems and guest service platforms (guest engagement).Of course, there are both benefits and challenges in implementing SaaS solutions for hotels. The benefits are substantial, and they focus on cost savings, flexibility, scalability, employee productivity, and guest service. Being able to deliver information seamlessly and quickly within the property and throughout the chain while enabling the ultimate in guest service and satisfaction is the primary driver for SaaS adoption for most hoteliers. The cost savings are impressive, however without happy guests and the data to ensure that their needs are met so that they return, saving capital is only part of the reason why SaaS solutions for hotels is on the rise.There are also some roadblocks that impact adoption. One of them is letting go of the peace of mind you get knowing that all your mission critical systems and data are just a few floors away in an onsite computer room. The other is the issue of integration and interfacing. There are often 50 different technologies running a single property, all of which need to communicate with each other. Ensuring that integration and interfacing is working seamlessly within a SaaS deployment can make the decision to move from on-premise to the cloud a little more disconcerting. That is why it is essential to partner with only the most experienced and innovative technology providers who have a proven track record and understand the unique needs of the hotel environment.The hospitality industry has indeed reached the Gartner "Plateau of Productivity." The industry understands the need to embrace SaaS products and platforms to not only better engage with guests - but to also integrate with a multitude highly popular external applications and data feeds. This necessary evolution can only be accomplished if hoteliers move away from on-premise systems to SaaS. That being said, behind every great tech innovation is the need for effective tech implementation, and there is a bit of a mashup going on within the industry these days. Hotels are looking to gather information on guests, their buying habits, where they are coming from and what are their true preferences are - and the solutions available today do not meet all these requirements. Hotels need to get their data from countless different sources. The interconnectivity with other industries, other applications and across the globe will ensure that to remain competitive and relevant, the hotel industry will need to be at the forefront of SaaS delivery and adoption.To learn more about the SaaS PMS systems changing the way hotels run and grow their business, watch the video "THE NEW WAY... TO HOTEL.

New E-book by StayNTouch Explains How SaaS Technology is Transforming the Hospitality Industry

StayNTouch Inc. 19 January 2017
In a newly released e-book titled, The New Era of Hospitality: How the SaaS Movement is Transforming the Hotel Industry, Jos Schaap, CEO and founder of StayNTouch breaks down the complexities of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model for hotels and helps readers gain a deeper understanding of the potential impact on operations, collaboration, revenue, and guest service.Technology has changed almost every aspect of travel, and, as a result, it has transformed what guests expect from hotels. As Schaap explains in the e-book, SaaS opens the door for innovation by introducing new functionality and mobile capabilities for bookings, promotions, guest service, maintenance and housekeeping related communication, check-in, check-out, and more. The insightful guide serves as a primer, exploring some of the most relevant topics affecting hoteliers looking for a better way to manage their business in the cloud.With over two decades of success as a hotel software executive, visionary, and entrepreneur, Jos Schaap brings a uniquely broad perspective on the current state of hotel systems - and the view is an unsettling one. Noting that traditional on-premise hotel solutions are costly, cumbersome and have failed to fulfill their promises in this rapidly changing climate. To stay competitive, hotels must embrace new technologies today. Jos Schaap asks, "How can hospitality industry and guest experience evolve using the same old legacy PMS solutions?"According to Schaap, what has happened in the market is not a revolution, but an evolution. Leading hotels around the globe are restructuring their businesses to capitalize on the efficiencies these new web-based PMS alternatives offer. At the same time, a SaaS-enabled PMS can help hotels capture more valuable guest data and use it to enhance the overall guest experience as well as drive more revenue. The potential for SaaS to transform the hospitality industry is enormous in areas like rate management, reservation management, online bookings, front desk management, housekeeping services, and guest engagement. The trends are clear. Though it will keep evolving, the cloud is here to stay. In short, if you are a hotelier, start moving (to the cloud)!To download your complimentary copy of The New Era of Hospitality: How the SaaS Movement is transforming the Hotel Industry, please click here or visit http://connect.stayntouch.com/hubfs/StayNTouchNewEraHospitality01.09.2017.pdf About StayNTouch(r)Driven by the need for hoteliers to raise service levels to respond to the needs of today's guests and increase hotel revenues, StayNTouch delivers a cloud-based Mobile PMS with a suite of tablet-based solutions. The company's PMS Mobile Overlay brings mobility to both hotel staff and guests in order to drive guest revenue while enhancing the guest experience. With any tablet or touch device, Guest Service and Housekeeping have mobile access to PMS via a touch-optimized interface. Guests, from their smartphone, can self check-in and out, view room bill and receive upgrade promotions. StayNTouch dramatically streamlines operations and increases margins, and revolutionizes how the hotels connect and engage their guests and how guests experience their hotels. StayNTouch partners with many of the most forward thinking brands in the industry, including Yotel, Great Wolf Hotels and Resorts, Zoku Amsterdam, Porto Vista San Diego and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.For more information, visit stayntouch.com.Unless indicated otherwise, all trademarks and service marks herein are trademarks of StayNTouch, Inc. or an affiliate thereof.

The Hotelier's Wake-Up Call

StayNTouch Inc. 12 January 2017
No, I'm not talking about actual hotel wake up calls or polices or guidelines on automatic or manual wake-up calls. If you thought that's what you were going to find out here, then you have definitely hit on a wrong link. Besides, most travelers nowadays have smartphones with built-in alarm clocks to get them up in the morning, so traditional wake-up calls are something that are becoming a little bit redundant, if not going completely by the wayside.But speaking of smartphones, or mobile phones to be more exact, that is precisely what I am talking about and focused on in this report. Over the past quarter I have released several articles focused on mobile; its continuous growth and domination in our everyday lives and how exactly our use and reliance on mobile has changed the consumer landscape, what type of service we have now come to expect, and how businesses themselves have not only been affected by consumer use of mobile, but how mobile has changed the way they do business. Specifically, we are concerned with how mobile has changed the hotel guest relationship and its impact on hotel operations.Guests are changing, their requirements are changing, technological innovation is driving change and globalization is ensuring that we must change. With the delivery of on-demand services via mobile from companies such as Uber and Netflix and the personalization of an experience based on past habits, many brands both within the hotel industry and beyond are finding themselves subject to the same expectations created by these services.So, when it comes to traveling, guests do (and want to) use mobile devices before, during and after a hotel stay. They have a desire to stay connected through the entire travel journey and use their mobile devices (via a hotel app or mobile website) to gain convenience during their stay, most notably for receiving notification when their room is ready, checking in and out of the hotel, and requesting guest services. They also rely on mobile to augment travel during their trip, doing things like using maps or navigation apps and checking the weather (94%), locating restaurants (81%) and finding things to do and see (80%).Truth is, mobile is changing the very nature of how services are requested and delivered at hotels. As a consequence, outdated, antiquated technologies cannot keep up and meet the demands of the new, connected traveler. However, newer mobile-cloud-based innovative platforms can. A cloud-based PMS's not only empowers the guest to choose how they would like to be serviced, but enables hotels to connect with guests at every touch-point...leading to improved guest satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.So, the alarm bells are ringing everywhere as new technology permeates the hotel industry in a big way. Hoteliers, at times, have tried to turn a blind eye to transformative change due to the old saying "If it is not broken, why fix it?" Well, technology is moving so quickly that embracing this change has to happen, and it has to happen now.Social media has brought about a tremendous amount of change in the hoteliers' world. Most importantly, it has increased awareness of the hotel and its products as well as truly involving the guest in a conversation. Hotels are constantly being bombarded with feedback via Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor as well as the barrage of other channels, and this now consumes a great deal of time.Integration and distribution have also brought with it some incredible challenges. More channels of distribution make the management of hotel revenues more complicated and the requirement to integrate with the myriad of new hotel apps that let hotels book, check-in, request special items and text with the hotel add even more complexity.How do you deal with all of this while operating old, antiquated on property systems?Download The Complete Ebook
Article by Jos Schaap

5 Technologies The Hotel Industry Can't Afford To Ignore In 2017

StayNTouch Inc. 10 January 2017
It's that time of year again where we all get bombarded with a myriad of articles that focus on emerging trends related to the hotel industry in the coming year. Some of these articles are fascinating, while some just reiterate what most of us already know. Mobile is important, ubiquitous in-room technology is a requirement, not a nice to have and yes, you may be able to unlock doors with mobile check in.What are the primary examples of technologies that will impact the hotel industry in 2017?Technology is an enabler. It helps us communicate more effectively; it helps us drive our businesses to greater heights, and hopefully it helps us create stronger and longer lasting relationships. Technology within the hotel industry has been rolling along at a feverish pace lately, and it appears that this trend will not be slowing down in 2017. However, are there any innovations being developed that deliver on their promises of a better hospitality industry? I believe this has yet to be seen. What we do know is that hotels are in the people business. Delivering the ultimate in hospitality and service has always been a primary objective. Now there is a different dynamic in play. Some guests do not want great service; they just want to get to their rooms to relax and turn on the big game at the end of a long day. Others want to be fawned over and catered to at every touchpoint. This diverse range of guest expectations creates an attractive environment for companies developing hotel technology in 2017 and beyond.So, let's take a look at the hotel industry technologies that will have an impact on guest service, or not, in 2017.5G Wireless TechnologyIt may not happen in 2017, and it looks more like 2018, however, when 5G hits the broader market, it will have an enormous effect on the hotel industry. In an article posted on CNET yesterday, DirectTV is now suing a 5G connection with AT&T to increase its bandwidth. 5G is 100 times faster than 4G. A hotel's wireless infrastructure may no longer be required where 5G is available. Fiber may even become redundant. Watch out for 5G and how it will revolutionize in-room entertainment, how property systems are connected, and the list goes on.Energy ConservationThere is now an emphasis on ensuring that hotels and hotel companies are being energy conscious. This does not mean washing or not washing guest towels after every use; it is much larger than this. Eco-consciousness means giving the guest and hotel management control of things like room lighting, water consumption, and temperature. This could easily be facilitated by guests on their mobile devices - and incentivized with rewards given for being a "green guest". Hilton deployed LightStay, and the company is now gathering data from all its hotels to manage energy usage and performance. By doing so, it can set targets for its operators and bonus them for energy reduction.Social ListeningToday, there is a large segment of the population that has a Facebook account as well as a Twitter handle, Instagram followers and so on. This social influence factor has spawned companies to developing hotel industry technology that "listens" to what consumers are talking about on these and other social channels. The data derived from querying this 'chatter' is massive. Imagine fully understanding your guest's needs and wants at a micro level - and also having macro level data about what is trending and what is popular to the broader guest audience? Though it might sound a little creepy at first, it is worth considering that if people are willing to share their life story online, the hotel industry should be able to leverage this data to deliver better service.Loyalty vs. Loyalty ProgramsMost hotel companies have some sort of loyalty or rewards program, as do the airlines, and car rental brands. Then there are all the rewards programs from retailers, credit cards, restaurants - well you get the idea. Our wallets and attention spans are just not big enough to keep track of all the rewards programs that are out there. Hotels need to look at new software technologies that help them increase loyalty in a more authentic way. Guests want to feel as if they are a part of something unique, and by delivering individual experiences and/or items based upon acquired data, rather than loyalty points, hotels will ensure that these guests become loyal advocates. Don't be afraid to think outside the box like Kimpton Hotel, who will still deliver a fish to keep your kids company upon request. This extraordinary experience creates loyal guests and breaks free from the constraints of a traditional loyalty program.Service-Based TechnologiesTechnology needs to be an enabler to service. As stated earlier, the guest landscape is changing, which means technologies in 2017 and beyond need to be flexible enough to meet the increasingly diverse types of guest requirements. Long gone are the days where guest wants to walk up to a front desk and wait in line to check register for their room. Using mobile devices to empower staff to meet and greet the guests face-to-face in order to build that stronger relationship is not a nice to have, but a have to have in 2017. Conversely, the same technology that enables better relationships also needs to be able to let the guest circumnavigate the front desk or any people and go directly to their room. By offering technology that helps the hotel staff to drive relationships or to stand down is the next frontier and hopefully, front desks will disappear and no longer be a barrier between hotels and their guests.I am sure that other technology trends should have made it on this list, but my guess is that you will find plenty of them in other articles and predictions in the coming days and weeks.
Article by Jos Schaap

Driving Ancillary Revenues With Your Hotel Property Management System

StayNTouch Inc. 13 December 2016
In the travel industry, 48% of airline passengers and 59% of hotel guests said they were interested in upgrades or additional services. The airline industry has found a model that enables more revenues by compelling the traveler to pay for luggage, food and a growing list of other items. The problem with this scenario is the fact that they are not letting the traveler to choose, they are forcing added purchases upon him or her, thus creating an environment of angst.The hotel industry has an opportunity to not only drive ancillary sales on-property, but also to develop long lasting relationships with their guests by presenting products and services that are valued. Hotels usually focus on increasing on-property spend through room service, gift shops, mini-bar sales and hotel dining establishments. Today, through the use of SaaS hotel property management systems, hotels have the flexibility to exceed service expectations and still increase their top line revenues.Room Upsells and Monetizing Early Check-In/Late Check-OutEven before a guest checks in, cloud-based hotel technology enables you to send relevant offers that the guest may want to purchase pre-arrival. The most popular of these is the upsell to an upgraded room type, perhaps a room with a better view and breakfast package - the variables are endless. Hotels can also enable the guest to check-in early or check-out later for a nominal fee. By offering these types of options, you are giving greater choice to the guest and enabling them to personalize their stay on their own terms. Some guests may not decide to do so - but those who do will be willing to pay for what they want. Upselling isn't just a sales tactic; it's a guest happiness tactic that can help you build deeper relationships with guests by delivering more value.Tracking the Guest Journey to Help Drive RevenuesThere is an immediate data effect occurring today, and this is allowing hoteliers to understand what drives the booking of a hotel room, on-property amenities, as well as guest preferences. Having all this data at your fingertips ensures that you can guide the guest through the journey that he or she may find most attractive. For example, if you have information on a guest that suggests an affinity to spa treatments, why not offer them something additional to a basic massage, like a pedicure or a manicure to upsell more services, driving ancillary revenues as well as tailored service. Capturing data to gain a deeper understanding of guest preferences, and then using that information to market enhancements, upgrades, or add-ons is all about creating a better experience.None of this can be successfully achieved without the integration of on property hotel PMS as well as supporting external platforms. Though we may have cracked the code related to connecting multiple solutions and platforms to each other; we still need to use the collective data to proactively engage with guests and give them what they want, plus a little bit more.Immediate Gratification Due to Instant ContactWe live in a world today where immediate gratification is becoming the norm. People want to receive information immediately. The responsiveness of the Internet and the countless apps that reside on a guest's smart device have motivated this exciting shift.With a single click, people can now book an Uber, purchase a book, or hire a cleaning service. But this is all powered by instant contact. Enabling guests to make requests at any given moment, whether on-property or off, will increase revenues by capitalizing on the myriad of special requests that are available. There is also another benefit to this immediate gratification phenomenon. By delivering what the guest wants, when they want it, the hotel will invariably garner better reviews and win loyalty based on great experiences, not on points. Better reviews can directly equate to better rankings and more business. Don't forget - hotels are in the service business. However, by aligning your hotel with a technology infrastructure that provides these types of guest relationship enhancers, hotels will ultimately come out on top.Guest Relationship Building Develops TrustThere has been a separation between the hotel employee and the guest for far too long. There are many companies on the market that profess to offer "guest engagement solutions" but essentially, they are just communications providers. By empowering hotel employees to break away from the front desk and authentically build connections with guests upon arrival is very powerful. This type of interaction would not be imaginable, once again, without the advancements in technological flexibility. By having employees use mobile devices to check-in guests or facilitate special requests to another department, it ensures that the rapport between the guest and the hotel can solidify and flourish. It all comes down to delivering personalized services in new and innovative ways that build trust and enhance relationships.Choice is KeyFinally, it truly is about choice. If options are readily available to guests, they will feel in control and invariably want to continue a long-term relationship with the hotel. Not all guests are alike. Some will want to navigate through the hotel on their own terms and may never want to speak to an employee while others will want white glove treatment and expect all the service elements that a hotel can offer. Whatever type of guest your hotel caters to, you must ensure that you have tools and processes in place to deliver the level of amenity that the guest chooses - whether it be high touch, no-touch or somewhere in between. The key to increasing on-property sales is to offer what your guest might not even know they need or want, and to do it at the right time, and in a way where they don't feel pressured or that all you want is their money.

StayNTouch(r) Releases A Hotelier's Guide to Reducing Cost & Increasing Profits

StayNTouch Inc. 1 December 2016
A new e-book, "A Hotelier's Guide to Reducing Cost & Increasing Profits" has been released by mobile hospitality technology leader StayNTouch(r).The guide addresses an area of hotel management that rarely is a topic of conversation when incremental revenue or cost efficiencies are discussed - the hotel property management system (PMS). Traditionally, hotels have had a "set it and forget it" approach to their PMS. Installation is long and difficult, the license model is long-term and the software itself is very complicated. The feeling has been that as long as you can check people in and out of rooms, then you don't have to think about or deal with the PMS.However, today's hotels are evolving. New hotel concepts are raising the level of competition and hotels are re-examining every corner of their business. The PMS is not exempt from this process and now has been seen as the cornerstone to an evolved, efficient and revenue generating IT strategy. This guide examines the emergence of the cloud-based PMS and how the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model is exposing the weaknesses and inefficiencies of traditional premise-based PMSs. The StayNTouch e-book addresses topics such as:The traditional approach to PMS procurement and managementThe wide adoption of cloud technologies by verticals other than hospitalityHow third party integrations with the PMS are key to an IT poilcy that focuses on using best-of-breed technologiesSecurity and cloud technologiesHow upgrades and maintenance costs are sinking the on-premise model in the face of Saas technologyROI comparison between cloud and on-premise systems"The hotel PMS has been long overdue for real innovation," said Jos Schapp, Chief Executive Officer at StayNTouch. "The PMS remains the hub of all staff and guest touchpoints. Hoteliers are now discovering that a cloud-based PMS is the key to cost efficiencies and PMS evolution should be a part of any plan to drive more revenue out of your hotel business."Ultimately, the e-book highlights the fact that the future for hoteliers will be defined by how well they leverage mobile and cloud technology to enable greater efficiencies and customer engagement - Hotels who dismiss cloud-based PMSs are missing out on technology that can offer significant advantages.The complimentary e-book is available at http://connect.stayntouch.com/reducing-cost-and-increasing-revenue-ebook-0. To learn more or request a live demo of StayNtouch solutions, please visit stayntouch.com. About StayNTouch(r)Driven by the need for hoteliers to raise service levels to respond to the needs of today's guests and increase hotel revenues, StayNTouch delivers a cloud-based Mobile PMS with a suite of tablet-based solutions. The company's PMS Mobile Overlay brings mobility to both hotel staff and guests in order to drive guest revenue while enhancing the guest experience. With any tablet or touch device, Guest Service and Housekeeping have mobile access to PMS via a touch-optimized interface. Guests, from their smartphone, can self check-in and out, view room bill and receive upgrade promotions. StayNTouch dramatically streamlines operations and increases margins, and revolutionizes how the hotels connect and engage their guests and how guests experience their hotels. StayNTouch partners with many of the most forward thinking brands in the industry, including Yotel, Great Wolf Hotels and Resorts, Zoku Amsterdam, Porto Vista San Diego and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.For more information, visit stayntouch.com.Unless indicated otherwise, all trademarks and service marks herein are trademarks of StayNTouch, Inc. or an affiliate thereof.
Article by Jos Schaap

Mobility and the Hotel Property Management System: Ending the Epidemic of Guest Experience Complacency

StayNTouch Inc. 15 November 2016
Hotel technology has come a very long way over the past decade and yet it still has a very long way to go in order to catch up with other industries. Companies such as SAP and Infor, in the ERP space, have taken the user experience to the next level by implementing social and mobile aspects to their platforms. This new movement ensures that the platform is truly engaging, the user is more productive, and the educational curve is largely diminished - resulting in cost savings.When we think about mobility within the hotel and travel industry, our minds immediately gravitate to the hotel room or air travel booking process using a smartphone or possibly a tablet. The term mobility gets washed away with little impact or focus on guest experience.We, as an industry, have been extremely complacent when it comes to ensuring that our guests feel as if they are genuinely experiencing the best service possible. We position our staff behind huge front desks; have the General Manager's office in the basement; the housekeepers are only visible in hallways or elevators, and they pass us simply uttering pleasantries. The Food and Beverage Directors office is located near the kitchen, and he or she patrols the public outlets only during peak periods. This is not an ideal environment whereby a hotel can create a long-lasting (aka profitable) relationship with their guests.Now enters a genuine term of mobility. In some earlier pieces, I have written about the need for hotels to break free from the shackles that bind employees to the limitations of their respective areas, destined to call on others when a guest requires attention outside the scope of the employee's primary duties. True mobility is the key to enabling your employees to deliver the ultimate in guest service at every touch point. Mobility empowers staff to build relationships with guests beyond the essential meet and greet upon arrival or wave goodbye when guests depart.Systems and technologies that hotels require to operate their business have, at times, been the malevolent force behind the epidemic of guest experience complacency. If the system requires you to be stuck behind a front desk or use some antiquated phone system to update the status of a room, then, unfortunately, the employee is only doing as best as the system can deliver. Today, almost all of the installed property management systems require a front desk, as is the case with point of sale. The server must run over to a terminal to input an order, housekeeping has to update the status of a room using the phone in the room, and if the guest has a special request when they see the housekeeper, he or she must jot it down in a notebook. This is definitely not the optimal way to run a hotel or exceed service expectationsThe implementation of a "New Way to Hotel" platform is the only means by which hotels can keep pace with the new and ever-changing requirements of today's travelers. Employees must be mobile to connect with the guest face to face in order to create a relationship. Loyalty programs may influence the guest stay at a particular hotel brand because they want free nights or added perks, but does this mean they are loyal to the hotel chain? No, they are likely loyal to free nights. The key is building relationships with the guests on a personal level.Technology has evolved to the point where it has the capability to deliver any type of data to any type of device at any given moment. We no longer require immense systems that try their best to keep us in one place. Innovation now enables us to run an entire system (or many systems) using wireless tablets as the main hardware interface. We have IP interfaces available to a myriad of older systems that can provide data to the tablets, ensurig that guest needs are managed effectively.Imagine the scenario where front desk agents walk guests to their room and engage in a thoughtful rapport with them, while gathering critical information for the guest profile. Imagine housekeeping staff, using the exact same tablet, being able to place an order or notify another department about a guest request they receive. There are hotel systems available today that can facilitate this level of exemplary service, and they are redefining what guest service should truly be.The latest "Cloud-based" and "Software as a Service" hospitality solutions are changing the game and helping the hotel industry reimagine the future. By leveraging SaaS property management systems that use tablets and smartphones as the primary hardware device, employees are empowered to go above and beyond when providing the personalized attention that keeps guests coming back. Hoteliers that are bold enough to embrace new mobile platforms will be the big winners in the coming years. The hotel technology is available, so how will you use mobility to improve the guest journey?
Article by Jos Schaap

Solving the Property Management System Value Conundrum: Invest in the Future, Not the Past

StayNTouch Inc. 10 November 2016
There are those unenlightened people in the hotel industry that will say that a property management system is nothing more than a grandiose cash register. That its only function is to account for the spend that a guest incurs during their stay and produce a folio upon departure. In fact, that claim could not be further from the truth. Yes, it connects to a myriad of systems to track guest charges such as a point of sale system, call accounting, sales and catering system, and so on, but increasingly there is an obligation for the hotel PMS to do so much more.As pressure is placed upon the PMS to go beyond the scope of a simple transactional tool, there needs to be a strategic shift in the technological deployment of the system the includes increased agility and responsiveness in the platform itself. Software as a Service (SaaS) or cloud-based PMS within the hotel industry is the next frontier as more systems can now be facilitated via the Internet to whatever device the user chooses to conduct their business. The pricing and delivery models of SaaS PMS allows organizations to meet the specificity and intricacies of its needs.SaaS PMS, faster, better, cheaperIn a special report, respected analyst firm Gartner states that as cloud-based alternatives to monolithic, on-premises ERP and enterprise applications continue to mature, on-premise ERP systems are quickly becoming known as 'legacy' software. The report also warns that CIOs and application leaders must take action to address the fast-approaching reality of "legacy ERP."We hear the word "Cloud" being used within every industry today but this is just a method of storing and managing data without using on-premise machines. The real trick is how to deliver this technology to the hotelier in a cost-effective manner and also offer all the services they received when the PMS was on the property. The benefits of a SaaS PMS are certainly plenty, but at a fundamental level they come down to:Rapid implementationIntuitive functionalityAffordable, fixed-price subscriptionNo large upfront investmentNew features every 2 to 4 weeksEase of use, less trainingThe Economist, in an article published in 2015, stated that 80% of customers are now demanding new technology consumption models and SaaS is the right way to deliver cloud technology. In fact, demand for SaaS enterprise applications is accelerating and exceeding the demand for on-premise applications by five times according to an IDC report. SaaS business applications have doubled since 2011 and are forecast to climb at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.5% through 2016. All of this shows that the move is well underway and the hotel industry needs to get on board.Justification for a new PMSThere are a number of arguments to be made concerning a shift from on-premise solutions to SaaS.The PMS is truly the "beating heart" of your hotel and as such it needs to be able to be highly stable, have the functionality you need to run your operations smoothly and effectively, run quickly and be able to integrate and talk to all of the current systems in place as well the plethora of new platforms that will require connectivity in the future. Ultimately, you want your new SaaS PMS to run like a BMW M5 but be easy to manage and have the affordable price point of a Honda Civic.By implementing a SaaS PMS, hotels see substantial soft and hard cost savings. Within the SaaS model, everything is combined into an all-inclusive fee per room per month. No more maintenance fee surprises or extra support charges. The investment is also highly manageable from a budgetary standpoint due to the predictable nature of the cost structure.Data compiled by StayNTouch shows that with the implementation of an on-premise solution, the percentage spent on the PMS can be relatively high related to RevPAR. The proper benchmark for the operating budget of a hotel directly related to a SaaS PMS should fall between 0.35% and 0,75% of RevPAR. The investment in the "heart" of your hotel is definitely a tiny percentage of your overall RevPAR, especially since it is the most essential tool you have in optimizing operational requirements and making sure your guest's needs are met.SaaS, the enablerSaaS will not be ignored. There is just too much value to be achieved from point solutions that provide needs-specific functionality, for a relatively low cost, that can be implemented rapidly and will scale with the needs of the business. As the adoption of SaaS property management systems becomes more mainstream, the effects of an implementation can be widely felt. The hotel operations can now empower employees to increase productivity and service as they are no longer hindered by restrictive, static platforms. Any platform can now be used such as tablets, smartphones and yes, the old PC if required. They can now move about the hotel meeting and greeting guests, facilitating guest requests right from the housekeeping trolley and most importantly, creating an authentic relationship with the guest. No longer is a huge screen a barrier to connecting with the guest.SaaS also empowers the guest to choose how they would like to be serviced. Today's guest are looking for new ways to engage with their respective hotels. High touch guests will still be able to maintain that high level of service to which they have been accustomed to, and low contact guests can bypass the front desk, use their phone to check into their room and order room service, once again using their smartphone. Today's guests want to be in charge of their travel destiny.A property management system is today, a truly wondrous technological platform that has grown with the hotel industry but at times it has not been fast enough. Now, with the introduction of a SaaS PMS, hoteliers now have the chance to grow at the cadence that the industry and guests require but also be able to be flexible to handle new technologies as they arise. The initial financial benefits for a SaaS PMS are inescapable in comparison to the time, effort and cost involved in implementing and supporting a new on-premise application So what is your PMS worth? It is worth a great deal, and it should be at the top of your technological priority list. The inevitable conclusion: if you're in the market for a better PMS to run your hotel, then buy the future of with a SaaS PMS, not the past.
Article by Jos Schaap

The "Connected Guest" - What Do They Really Want?

StayNTouch Inc. 25 October 2016
Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying "change is the only constant in life" and the ever-changing demands of today's travelers is putting hotels in a precarious position. Hotels have always been focused on delivering exemplary service and experiences for their guests. However, the landscape is evolving due to the massive influx of technological adoption. Guests are embracing new technologies and apps on a daily basis, and hotel companies are trying their best to also get into the fray by developing their own guest facing applications to drive loyalty. All of this comes during the most fascinating time for the hotel industry as it grapples with the disruption from alternative lodging companies such as Airbnb and HomeAway. To say that all of these dynamics combined to make it difficult for a hotelier to connect and build relationships with their guests would be a major understatement.In the U.S Consumer Travel Report presented in July 2016 by Phocuswrighttm, research shows that 82% of leisure travelers are within the older millennial travel bracket (25-34). Their main differentiators are; their desire to stay connected through the entire travel journey, to like to travel alone, they are motived to see the world, they enjoy air travel and like to rent private accommodations.So what exactly does today's connected guest really want?It would be fair to say that some guests are still very old school and want a high-touch in person relationship model that most hoteliers pride themselves on delivering. On the other hand, many guests (at least at some point) just want a bed, services, restaurant and a bar in a location or setting that helps them either experience a great vacation or an optimized business trip.According to the Phocuswright 2016 Technology Trends report, messaging is a game-changing trend for the travel industry. If you look at the adoption of messaging apps, this indeed should be an area for hotels to keep their eye on. There are now many guests that are open to and even prefer communication via messaging apps. They want to be notified when their room is ready so that they can check in. They want to be informed about daily specials via an SMS message. In fact, 49% of travelers would be persuaded to make a purchase of relevant offers from mobile push notifications (Frost & Sullivan/Amadeus). They also want to the option to communicate back to the hotel about any changes in their plans or to report an issue. It appears by all accounts that messaging is definitely here to stay.The connected guest also wants to feel as if they are unique and not just another traveler being given a key to yet another room that looks and feels like the last room the occupied. Personalization helps hoteliers reach specific guests, but this is all contingent on the gathering of specific data. Big data has been a "buzz word" for quite some time. The mining of this data to help with decision-making and also the delivery of personalized service is a panacea. I believe that gathering great data on the property is the best way to ensure that guests are delivered the ultimate engagement model based on their on-property preferences. The only way to gather this information is by talking with them and recording their likes, dislikes and optimally, what they are passionate about.As technology continues to permeate our lives, it only makes sense that we start replacing the outdated, antiquated technologies within the hotel industry for innovative platforms that enable hotel employees to truly connect with guests at every touch point. This way, employees can create a unique interaction and input relative data within the guest profiles that most hotels cannot get online or using other channels.The best way for this type of engagement model to occur is to empower hotel employees with readily available technologies to perform their daily tasks and routines. One example is using a cloud and tablet based property management system (PMS) for employees to check-in guests and to truly connect with the guest by meeting them face to face without the front desk as being a human barrier. Also, by empowering housekeepers, using identical tablets, to also engage the guest more than by just saying hello will help in gathering information that can be input as another layer of data thus ultimately refining the personalized service that the guest wants. The power of a human connection should never be dismissed and by delivering technologies that enable relationships to be fostered should be a top priority.The connected guest also wants to feel as if they are an insider. When traveling, they want to understand what the area/region has to offer. They do not want a brochure to help them make a decision on where to dine or what to do. They want to hear about authentic experiences from others and make their decision accordingly.Finally, today's hotel guests want to share their experiences. We are all about sharing these days. In a 2015 study developed by Phocuswright titled "How (and Way) Mobile Messaging Will Transform Traveler Engagement" there are multiple platforms that travelers use to tell their stories (Figure 4). Messaging and social networks are the most prominent and hotel companies enabling the use of these platforms will ultimately drive engagement with the connected guest.The one constant is change. Our guests are changing, their requirements are changing, technological innovation is driving change and globalization is ensuring that we must change. The hotel industry is under a great deal of pressure, but if hoteliers listen to their guests, deliver what their guests want and need and go beyond in developing relationships with their guests, they will be able to flourish during complex times.

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