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    Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference

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New Ways to Increase Revenue Besides Heads in Beds

Hotel Business Review by 17 March 2019
The synchronized autonomy within the travel and hospitality industries, along with the tremendous evolution over the last several decades, have created a dynamic mindset among leaders in the industry. While the idea and principles of Revenue Management are still relatively new in the history of hotel and lodging, it is safe to say that in the short time since its inception, we are now at a point where we can differentiate between Revenue Management and Revenue Strategy.

How to Identify the Right Room Pricing Strategy

mycloud HOSPITALITY 17 March 2019
When it comes to hotel revenue management, getting room prices right is arguably your biggest priority. And while you may be aware that there's a science to it, there's so much to do on a daily basis that it can be difficult to determine a starting place.

Three Questions to Ask if Solar Powered LED Lights are Best for Your Business

mycloud HOSPITALITY 17 March 2019
It’s clear to many, especially in the lodging and hotel business, that the effort to “go green” has been greater than ever. With the rising costs of energy, the biggest effort is to find renewable, cheap energy that hotels can rely on for decades. The daily use of electricity, water, heat, lighting, and whatever else a tenant or guest may need can make significant use of the most abundant energy source that everyone benefits from daily: the sun. Using renewable energy lowers costs, ensures continued business success, and keeps guests happy without cutting corners in order to set competitive prices.

Ecolab Launches Smart Water Navigator

mycloud HOSPITALITY 17 March 2019
Ecolab Inc., a global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services, launched the Ecolab Smart Water Navigator, a free online tool to help businesses throughout the world improve water management at their facilities in the face of growing global water scarcity.

"Super Angel" Dave Berkus on the convergence of PMS, CRS and hotel CRM

Hotel Tech Report 15 March 2019
Dave Berkus knows hospitality technology more than nearly anyone. Back in the early 1980s, his company, Computerized Lodging Systems, dominated the nascent hospitality technology market with one of the first electronic Property Management Systems on the market. The immediate popularity of the technology resulted in rapid growth for the company, which was recognized on the Inc 500 list -- twice. Dave also created FOSSE, the property management system technology that Marriott used for almost 36 years.
Article by Raj Singh

Humans and AI: How to Improve Guest Services in a New Collaborative Way

Go Moment 14 March 2019
The Guest Services GrindDon't get me wrong. People in hospitality like serving people - it's what they do, and generally why they were drawn to the industry in the first place. But day-in, day-out, guests pose a lot of the same exact questions, have the same needs, request the same information: "What's the WiFi password?" "How do I get to the hotel gym?" "I'd like to have some more towels sent to my room." "When's checkout?" Fielding these same questions over and over again can start to feel like Groundhog's Day, and that's when burnout can set in.According to the Deloitte Workplace Burnout Survey, even passionate employees can suffer frequent burnout which affects how they feel about their company and their job:Nearly 70% of employees felt their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization;21% said their company does not offer any programs or initiatives to prevent or alleviate burnout;Nearly half of all millennial employees said they have left a job specifically because they felt burned out.AI To the RescueEnter AI solutions -- initiatives that relieve front line staff of some of the rinse-repeat cycles that lead to burnout and disengagement. AI can process volumes of data at scale. One single AI solution can take in multiple and concurrent inquiries and simultaneously send back appropriate responses. In hospitality, this means AI can be used to automate answers to common FAQs and manage multiple guest queries at the same time. Questions get asked and answered through an AI agent that guests access through their smartphone. This kind of AI agent - the "smartconcierge" - provides relevant, satisfying, instant answers to guests while at the same time relieving the employee of having to repeatedly do so (or do so as often).Smartconcierges have the intelligence to also know when they cannot help a guest -- when a human guest services agent needs to enter the equation. The smartconcierge then notifies the human agent and hands-off the entire conversation, context included, to the human agent so she can seamlessly pick up exactly where the AI agent left off. This limits guest frustration at having to start over, which in turn means a better guest experience. (Guests don't like boring repetitive actions any more than employees do!)With the smartconcierge in place as a guest's first go-to, the human guest services agent can instead focus on unique or higher-level, more stimulating problem-solving. This kind of AI solution actually ends up better engaging employees by as much as eight percent per year, as research conducted by Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration has shown. Research has also shown that better-engaged hotel employees directly correlates to employee retention and increased guest satisfaction, proven by higher Net Promoter Scores and TripAdvisor ratings. The employees win, the guests win, the hotelier wins - that's the win-win-win trifecta needed to succeed in this competitive market.Other Benefits to Hospitality AI-Human CollaborationThis winning combination of human and AI collaboration also has more hidden benefits but ones that are just as impactful:Smartconcierges are an agreeable way to get humans used to - an even interested in - what AI can do. Guests are already comfortable with text messaging, and smartconcierges leverage this common practice, enhancing it with human sensibilities. Hotel employees also interact with the AI on the back-end through simple, intuitive interfaces and see first-hand what the smartconcierge has already asked and answered for the guest. It's as simple as just reading someone else's messaging conversation... something we intuitively do with friends and family. In other words, smartconcierges humanize technology.AI makes the whole hotel smarter. Because smartconcierges collect interactive data that hotels can analyze to help improve operations, guest services, and the guest experience, nearly all employees can benefit and grow. In fact, when humans don't have to be bogged-down by dull, repetitive tasks, they can think more creatively, something AI can help them do. Recent research of 1,500 companies by Accenture found that firms achieve the most significant performance improvements when humans and machines work together.Humans + AI sell more together. While smartconcierges can promote suggestive selling - premium upgrades, room service order teasers, special promotional offers and the like - it's the humans who still need to think of what to sell and what the offers will be. AI is merely the technology to deliver human-devised sales content at the right time and in the proper context.The application of human and AI collaboration in hospitality creates far stronger guest and employee hotel experiences. If your hotel is looking to excel at experience, you need to explore this kind of collaboration today.
Article by Eric Bracht

Without a How-To Book for AV Services, Who is Training Hotel Staff on Sales, Set Up and Preventive Maintenance?

Electro-Media Design, Ltd. 14 March 2019
You've recently opened your hotel or refurbished some of your spaces and took all the necessary steps to ensure that the AV systems were installed properly and working efficiently. This is great news, but . . . who at the hotel will manage all this equipment? There are projectors, screens, flat panel displays, indoor/outdoor speakers, digital signage displays, and background music systems. There may also be portable AV gear, such as wired and wireless microphones, cables, portable projectors and screens, lighting instruments, mixers and adapters. Someone needs to be responsible for the proper care of these systems and equipment, such as preventative maintenance, managed operations, break-fix repair, and software updates. These activities require awareness, skills, procedures, and budgets.Being able to market your hotel as a meetings destination with outstanding technology services is an important marketing advantage. But this equipment doesn't operate on its own and it doesn't come with an AV Operations Manual. Someone must be responsible for selling, operating and maintaining this equipment to ensure delivery of successful, memorable meetings experiences.Ask yourself these questions:Who on premises should oversee AV systems and equipment? Is it Engineering? Catering/Convention Services? Information Technology? Who will provide the training to in-house staff on how to properly sell, maintain and forecast AV technologies? What about staffing? What roles and positions will you need to manage the sales, setup, operations, and maintenance of the AV systems and equipment?Who is going to write the step-by-step instructions for the hotel staff to know how to use this equipment? Who will the staff call when they have questions? There are no tech school courses being taught on how to setup, run, or manage AV services within venues. Currently, the only way to learn this is to work in an AV rental company, work with experienced AV staff or operate it by trial and error. There needs to be a solution that enables hoteliers to self-manage these processes reliably and consistently, without rigorous or costly training.Meet AVaStar. . . a managed-services solution that provides step-by-step guidance to manage every aspect of the AV services process. AVaStar is a new platform based on an AV as a Service (AVaaS) model and is supported by AV industry professionals with deep experience in the hospitality industry. Far more than just a software package, AVaStar is ideal for any property self-managing AV and looking for ways to enhance profits and the guest experience. AVaStar supports both technical and non-technical staff with the tools and resources needed to manage an AV operation within a hotel. It is designed to support hotel personnel with little to no experience managing, monitoring and measuring key AV performance indicators while providing tools that an AV team will appreciate, such as revenue and cost accounting, forecasting equipment needs and tracking required service and preventive maintenance. AVaStar enables hotels to provide self-operated AV services with confidence. Here's how AVaStar works:Bill is your hotel's banquet manager, and he was chosen to be responsible for AV services. This means he must plan and detail meeting technology needs, manage venue AV equipment and resources, coordinate with vendors to order additional equipment as needed, ensure portable and built in equipment is working and ready for customer use, all while controlling expenses . . . and technology isn't even Bill's primary responsibility.Unfortunately for Bill, the Event Management system he currently uses only enables him to add AV services to an event (and may allow him to enter inventory counts), nothing else. Bill must figure the rest out on his own, or not - and wait for the inevitable service failure. With AVaStar, Bill can access one dedicated platform to conduct all AV Technology activities in one place. Packed with industry intelligence, AVaStar guides Bill with the tools, resources, information and support that saves him time, effort and money.Too often we discover that AV equipment is not included in the hotel's preventive maintenance plan - but it should be. Rather than utilizing a separate software for PM procedures, we've added a preventive maintenance schedule module within AVaStar. It identifies which tasks must be performed periodically to keep the systems and portable equipment operating reliably and in optimum condition. It also identifies which tasks can be accomplished by the hotel staff and which need to be performed by a servicing technical contractor - and how often.Speaking of outside contractors . . . AVaStar takes care of them too. The system easily manages outsourced service providers and cross rental equipment vendors with just a few clicks.When it comes to self-managing your AV services and equipment, there is help out there. Outsourcing AV services to a third-party provider or going it alone are no longer your only options. AVaStar provides a better, more comprehensive and profitable way to allow your in-house staff to offer efficient and profitable AV services, driving revenue to your hotel's bottom line with confidence.
Article by Stuart Pallister

Guest recognition: Leveraging technology to deliver enhanced personalized service - HITEC Europe Preview

Hospitality Net 14 March 2019
"As a hotel, we're not recognizing all of our guests, although we try," says Barry Thomas, Corporate Director of Information Technology at Rosewood Hotel Group and HITEC Advisory Board member. "A lot of hotels emphasize guest name usage but it's very tricky to do, especially in city hotels. If you've got a 300-bedroom hotel and the average length of stay is two nights, given the amount of traffic passing through the lobby and F&B outlets, it's very difficult to recognize and use the names of our guests unless they're very, very regular."Thomas, who will be moderating a panel discussion on guest recognition at HITEC Europe, has been looking into the ways companies from other sectors approach this challenge. Citing Uber, the tech and transportation firm, Thomas says that when an Uber pulls up at your door, the first thing they do is confirm your identity by using your name."I can order an Uber and within two minutes it's there and they know my name. Why then is it - when I've gone through the whole booking process and provided details such as preferences, likes and dislikes - I turn up at a hotel where I may spend thousands of pounds, instead of 10-20 pounds for a journey, yet the hotel doesn't know who I am when I arrive?""We invest a lot in recognizing our guests' return on their digital journey during the booking process," he says, "but what we're trying to change is how we do that at the property."Currently hotels tend to rely on the doorman or drivers to pass on messages about guests arriving. "We're doing things traditionally, using radios and taking the guest's name." Clearly though there's room for improvement."Every stay, you receive a pre-arrival survey. If that survey keeps asking you the same questions time and time again though, why as a guest are you going to complete it? As a hotel, we should know we've previously collected your preferences and just ask you to update them, rather than you telling me each time you like jazz, strawberries and foam pillows.""It's recognizing that you're an existing guest of ours. It's that recognition journey to make you feel valued because obviously we're competing for your business as a guest. So, we want to make your journey as seamless and as easy as possible. And we don't want to be constantly asking our guests to repeat themselves as there's nothing more annoying."CCTV is already being used in hotels, but reactively, in response to an incident. What other technologies then could be used to enhance guest recognition and yet be unobtrusive?Thomas points to a couple of examples. At Disneyland, visitors wear so-called MagicBands based on radio frequency technology which can be used to make payments at outlets and gain fast track access at rides.But would hotel guests be willing to embrace this type of technology? "I don't know about using these bands in a city hotel but in a big resort hotel, yes. A lot of luxury guests wouldn't wear a band around the property, but can we utilize other devices such as a mobile phone or (RF) room key?"Airlines provide another good example of using advanced technology. When at Los Angeles airport recently, Thomas (pictured right) was impressed by automated gates which allow passengers to board the plane through facial recognition. "It was a very quick process. So, I think we need to look at what other industries are doing to see how we can do this in our hotels."Privacy though remains a major concern as many guests may not be willing to be effectively tracked while on a hotel property."What level of privacy are our guests willing to give up for enhanced service? I personally would be willing to give up some level of privacy if it means better service. But that's not every guest though.""I'm not saying we should be putting wristbands on guests but how can we do this? Can we utilize beacon technology (that is, using signals from beacons) when guests use the Wi-Fi? Can we then start to locate them in order to recognize them?""We need to be one step ahead of the guest to deliver enhance service (such as a copy of a particular newspaper over breakfast)." If it can be done seamlessly, he says, staff will be able to tailor the service they deliver based on the guest's profile.Another major advantage, of course, would be enhanced security. "If we know who's in our building, at what time, that's a big plus for us." It would allow hoteliers to know, for instance, whether someone on the property has been banned from the hotel or is on a watch list.In short, advanced technology could allow hoteliers to be more proactive. "If a guest comes curbside, walks in, and the reception knows who that person is, we can pre-prepare their room keys for them. We can already be prepared so the guests meet the butlers who escort them to their rooms and make it a seamless journey.""Would they like this enhanced service? I honestly believe that people are willing to give up a level of their information for the benefits of it. But the question is, for the people who do not want it, who truly want to be incognito, how do we turn off these technologies that we're putting in place for the majority?"Clearly a great deal of research still needs to be done and Thomas acknowledges the hotel industry faces challenges, especially following the introduction last year of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which gives individuals more control over their personal data."I think people are a lot more aware about their own privacy and their rights to it," Thomas says. "Hotels have been recording CCTV for many years, so it's just how we're using that data."'Education is key' at HITEC EuropeFor Thomas, education is the main driver why he attends HITEC Europe. "Budgets are always tight within hospitality, so to be able to make a trip like this and get something from it, education is a massive part of why I attend HITEC Europe."As a certified hospitality technology professional (CHTP), Thomas says he needs to maintain his education credits "and this is a great way of doing that in one location and learn about what the industry is doing.""I've just moved into a new corporate role, at a time where Rosewood is going through a big expansion process. We've got more than 20 hotels in the pipeline and for us to scale at this rate, I'm going to need vendors and partners to work with. So, to be able to meet them in one place rather than have meetings over the course of three or more months, I can really condense this process and get some worthwhile face time with them."Barry Thomas, CHTP, is Corporate Director of Information Technology at Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, and is a member of the HITEC Europe Advisory Council. He will be moderating a panel discussion on 'Guest Recognition in an Uber-esque Way While in Property' at HITEC Europe which takes place in Mallorca, Spain, April 9-11.
Article by Victor Bogomolov

Top 5 Ideas How To Use Ar In Tourism

14 March 2019
Augmented reality in the very idea of it is meant to change what we see around. It is meant to enhance our experience and increase our joy while exploring the world. So AR is a perfect tool for tourism. It adds new value and opens new opportunities for both the tourist and the tourism industry. In this article, we will share with you top 5 ideas of how to use augmented reality in tourism.Guide your customersInformation is what people can't live without. It is the fuel for our impressions and our emotions, especially while traveling. Of course, there are adventurers that prefer to wander around with no particular aim peeking into every alley and corner in their search of something interesting. But when one wants a beer, they want it now and not after two hours of walking around the unknown city.AR will help your customers in their search of whatever it is: a bar, a restaurant, a famous bridge, a historic sight. As people point their phone to a certain image or sign, the application will give all the possible information. Imagine the best guide you have ever read or watched: with augmented reality it can be 10 times more fun and interesting. No more paper guides - everything is in a smartphone now.CasesHub Hotels by Premier Inn decorated their rooms with a map of the city, which is more than just a design. Their application is able to recognize the map and show local tourists attractions near the hotel. Fast and easy the hotel gives its guests the information they need. Who wouldn't appreciate this?When you travel to an old city, like Rome or Venice, which are packed with attractions, it is easy to miss an interesting place. An augmented reality application can serve as a real-life guide. Application, created by eTips, allows people to learn more about Florence through the camera viewfinder. As the camera catches the scenery around, the application marks places of interest and gives additional information about it.Help your customers find the waySo now your guests know where they want to go. It's time to answer the question of how to get there. While some have an uncanny sense of direction that will lead them exactly where they need, the unfortunate majority relies on maps in their smartphones.Augmented reality can greatly improve people's experience with maps, making them better and more convenient. Your customers will be grateful when they get to use an interactive, fun-to-use, and helpful way to navigate.CasesDon't you think sometimes that subway maps resemble a code? Augmented reality application TunnelVision helps to crack it. The app brings to life a New York City subway map and helps to navigate around the city. Together with the transport information, it also shows some data about New York.Skyline is an example of a great AR tourism application for hiking and camping enthusiasts. First, it is a great guide that through the phone camera recognizes the view and labels mountains, hills, rivers with their names. And secondly, it can show the way to the destination point in a real-life mode. With this app, there is no chance to get lost in the wilderness.Educate your customersTell them more about your place. Show them extra information about the city. Let them dive into the depth of history and science. People appreciate when they are told and shown interesting stories.Those fascinated by museums will be thrilled to see the exhibits come alive. Augmented reality can easily animate a T-Rex or make a Moai tell where it's from. AR applications open a window into the past. They can tell the story of a ruined building or show what used to be here hundreds of years ago. Augmented reality has limitless potential in sharing information with people.CasesTalking about museums: Museum of Natural History enriched their ever-lasting exhibition of skeletons with an AR application. Now visitors, who downloaded the Skin and Bones app, can overlay the phone over the carcass and see what the animal looked like when it was alive.Augmented Asbury Park does a great job of showing people the history of the place. As people scan a marker with the app, they have an opportunity to see what this building looked like and where it was located. This AR tourism application places the image of the building on top of the real world scenery where it used to be in the past.Break the communication barrierYes, English is one of the most common languages in the world. But experienced tourists know that there are places where an English-speaking person is as rare as a unicorn. You can help your guests duplicating everything into English or introducing them an AR application. An augmented reality app can help people to understand signs and notes, improving their traveling experience.CaseAn obvious example here is Google Translate. A few years ago there was added a feature of instant translation. As a person points a camera to a foreign phrase, the application translates it into English. Or another language among available. It works pretty well, but the quality of the translation varies. Unfortunately, machine translation doesn't work perfectly yet. However, it is possible to understand the general idea.Improve your customers' experienceMake it easier. Make it more interesting. Make it better. If you change something in your service that in any way improves your customer's interacting with it, it will be noted and remembered.Augmented reality is definitely a memorable thing. It can be applied on any stage of a person's interaction with the company: acquaintance, choice, usage. It brings extra excitement and evokes good emotions, which benefits the brand image overall. AR tourism solutions can persuade a customer that your company is what they need.CasesBrochures are not the best way to present a hotel. Unless it is enhanced with augmented reality. Nhow Berlin Hotels offered their potential guests an AR tour around the hotel. To take a look it is enough to visit their website and place the brochure in front of the camera. Colorful and entertaining presentation leaves no one unimpressed.When you read a menu is one thing. When you can see every dish from the menu is the next level play. AR application Kabaq shows the restaurant guests a detailed mouthwatering 3D images of the food. When one sees how beautiful that steak is, it is impossible not to order it.Augmented reality solutions in tourism are various and can serve any company. With AR you can improve customer experience, state your company as an innovative one and draw attention to your brand. Try it and see the difference.
Article by Uli Pillau

It's not worth the wait!

apaleo GmbH 13 March 2019
If you're one of the many hotels or chains out there that is trying to get a new PMS up and running, but you are struggling with two, three, or more months of wait times to go live, then you may want to reconsider your PMS vendor. Here's some food for thought:Installation/Go Live Should Take Hours or Days, Not MonthsA reasonable time to wait to have your hotel up and running is a couple of days, maximum. Depending on your hotel's set up, this time could be reduced to a couple of hours or less. In fact, with apaleo, if your hotel feels so inclined, you could even set up your hotel yourself, at your own pace. You don't have to even take my word for it - try it yourself!Part of the reason for the reduction in wait times is because next generation PMSs like apaleo can do the entire activation remotely and with minimal effort. Which brings me to another important benefit that comes as a byproduct of reducing time and complexity to get a system live: setup fees become a thing of the past, which can save hotels thousands of euros.Integrations should be immediate and cost-freeOne hotelier that I spoke to recently had been waiting for nine months on a key integration, and still had no clear deadline in sight. When your entire system depends on having these integrations live, this kind of wait is unacceptable.Your PMS vendor should allow any and all systems to connect with ease and without extra costs. apaleo, for example, comes with a pre-connected store where hoteliers can simply click to connect systems - no wait times, no extra fees. And, if a system isn't there yet, the connection can be built with minimal effort. This is only possible when the PMS is built on an open platform with a public API.Training should be simple and on demandOnce your hotel or hotel chain is set up with its PMS and all integrations, you and your staff should be able to work with the systems immediately, not wait to coordinate a time for consultants to come and train the team. These on-site trainings come at a heavy cost, in terms of fees, travel expenses, and man-hours wasted. Reduce this time and eliminate the cost with a PMS that is so simple to use that staff can be up to speed with remote support through guides, exercises, and webinars. And, if an issue arises, the PMS should provide a 24-hour ticketing system to fix any issues.Automating hotel operations should be simpleOnce the entire system is live and running, your PMS should allow your hotel or hotel chain to reduce the amount of time spent on mundane tasks. You know, the repetitive work that your staff does (or rather, hates to do) manually, day in and day out. Things like check in/out, manually entering payment details, night audits, etc. These things cost your staff (and in most cases, your guests) time, and they are prone to human error. So, find a vendor that allows you to automate these tasks. It will save time, make staff more satisfied, improve your guest experience, and keep more money in your hotel's pocket.Bonus roundThe next generation of PMSs, like apaleo, offer much more than just time savings. Costs are drastically reduced, with no need to pay set up fees, integration fees, or consultants to help with set up and training. Because integrations pains are removed, you also get the freedom to test new systems or tools without any risk, allowing for more custom, innovative combinations of technology at the hotel as well as systems that better support the digital guest journey.We all spend enough of our lifetime waiting. Let's remove wait times (and unnecessary fees!) wherever we can, particularly in business where waiting can cost money. Find a PMS vendor that isn't going to make you wait.
Article by Mark Lewis-Brown

Metasearch, Managed

Vertical Booking USA 13 March 2019
Travelers love the metasearch channels; they pull all of the available prices from the different online sites into a single list of search results, easily sorted and easily booked. They spend less time searching and are more likely to find the best possible rate for their stay. What's not to love?!While I know hotels appreciate the bookings that they can get through the metasearch sites, the channel can create lots of headaches for a hotel's staff, especially those on the reservations team.Even still, metasearch is a very important channel for all hotels - no matter their star rating, size, location or independent/branded; here's why: "12% of hotel reservations are made through metasearch channels and they assist [in funneling] 25% [of bookings] to other channels."Mind officially blown! That's a huge number of bookings (and potential revenue!) that your property will lose if you're not using the metasearch channel.Another perk of the metasearch channel: the increasing competition in the online marketplace means that metasearch will continue to work in your favor over time, especially in highly competitive markets, because the popularity of the channel is likely to continue to increase exponentially, as more booking sites are launched.I know, I know... you're tired of all of the reservations-related confusion related to the metasearch channel. That's why I'm here, today, to show you how to make the metasearch channel work for you, instead of the channel making more work for you:Step One: Technology is your friendTrying to manage a technology-based channel without technology is like trying to contain a herd of sheep without fences: time-consuming, crazy-making and, let's be honest, flat-out impossible. Those sheep (bookings) are going to be running away, only to get caught by someone else (your competitor).Baaa-d idea, right?There is no human alive or no reservations team big enough (and available 24/7 enough) to effectively manage every single channel manually. Even if there were (let's play pretend for a minute), hotels' operations would still be compromised by a very common problem: human error. A missed reservation here, a duplicate reservation there, an accidental overbooking everywhere; the ways that human error can negatively impact a property's occupancy and RevPAR are endless!Bottom line: technology is a MUST-HAVE for hotels to effectively manage reservations from the many online channels - direct bookings, the OTAs, metasearch, mobile, last-minute apps, etc. - and offline ones - walk-ins and phone.So, what technology should your property be using to most effectively manage your metasearch channels?There's only one technology solution that you will need to effectively manage the metasearch channels (as well as ALL the others) effectively: a channel manager with a built-in metasearch management tool.This solution will connect your hotel with the OTA channels, automate your pricing updates and inventory management processes, AND manage the metasearch sites - and all of this can be accomplished using a single dashboard.By connecting the solution to your Google Analytics account (again, very important feature!), it makes it easy for you to more effectively establish the ROI that you earn from each channel; because metasearch is so expensive, you'll want to make sure that you're listing your inventory on the sites that are making you the most money.Step Two: Lean on the ExpertsEspecially at a boutique property, the reservations and revenue manager(s) may feel that the financial fate of the entire hotel rests on their shoulders but it doesn't have to.The technology provider (from whom you got your channel manager + metasearch management solution) will offer comprehensive tech support services, from implementation, to integration with your other operational technology, to day-to-day questions and everything in between, these experts are there to make it easy for you to use the highly profitable metasearch channel, without all of the headaches.And that's it; with these two very simple steps, you can now confidently say: metasearch, managed!
Article by Alan Young

The Importance of Using LinkedIn Pulse to Build Trust, Awareness and Influence

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 13 March 2019
Regardless of the industry, content marketing has long since been touted as one of the key differentiators to a company's long-term success. After all, it's one thing to have a great product or offering, but it's another to have a great product or offering that is effectively packaged to the masses from a trusted company that seems to have everyone's attention. But when it comes to establishing credibility, generating positive hype and growing your brand and business, what is the name of the game? We place so much emphasis on content marketing -- and rightfully so -- but what style of content and what method of delivery will play the most integral role in getting a company from point A to point B? What will move the needle the most, and most effectively translate the value proposition of a company (and those who run it) to current and prospective customers? We also must consider the current economic climate, where consumer trust is notoriously hard to earn -- and far too easy to lose. Media has become the least-trusted institution. But if content represents the conduit to which brands can connect with their audience, how can companies shift past media distrust to establish their brand or offering as a trusted source? It's within this discussion that we realize the importance of thought leadership. What exactly is a thought leader?Thought leaders are the recognized, trusted, go-to people in their field of expertise. They frequently produce insightful, engaging and innovative ideas, which they share with their target audience. From a public relations standpoint, company clout can largely be derived from the way in which an audience feels (and speaks) about a brand. This means that company founders and executives have a unique opportunity to leverage themselves as spokespersons of their brand, effectively cutting through the noise with insightful, big picture, educational and value-driven content. In fact, thought leadership -- when done well and distributed strategically across the right platforms -- is arguably the best method to build awareness by sparking meaningful conversations. According to recent studies, consumers say authenticity is one of the top qualities that would attract them to a brand. Not only that, but there is a direct correlation between a company's authenticity and the likelihood that customers become advocates for that brand, whilst attracting more high-value customers. Statistics such as these reinforce the understanding that trust (and a company's on-going investment in establishing consumer trust) represents a tangible asset to any company, especially in the eyes of modern consumers. Not only does thought leadership represent an integral B2C strategy, but it plays an incredibly important role in B2B relationships as well. In fact, the 2019 Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study revealed that 55% of decision makers use thought leadership as an important way to vet organizations, and 81% increased their trust in a vendor organization as a result of that content. Further, 61% of those same decision makers are more willing to pay a premium to work with an organization that has articulated a clear vision versus one that does not publish thought leadership. However, in that same breath it's also important to realize that thought leadership can have a resounding negative effect on a company's reputation, if not done correctly. According to the survey, the majority of leaders said they are disappointed by the lack of high-quality thought leadership. This presents an opportunity -- emerging thought leaders, now is your time. Start writing, start sharing and engage your audience (the right way) before someone else does. Now that we've established the importance of thought leadership, we arrive at the next consideration. Which platform(s) do we utilize to deliver this style of content? Aside from paid media, how can we infiltrate those most active, relevant channels to create waves for our brand? While there are no shortage of useful platforms and paid publications to include in your content strategy, there is one platform which every executive should be utilizing, without exception -- LinkedIn. Feeling skeptical? Consider the following:94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as a content distribution channel, compared to Twitter at 89%, Facebook and YouTube at 77%, and Google+ at 61%91% of marketing executives list LinkedIn as the top place to find quality contentLinkedIn has been named one of the top 10 websites with the most user traffic on the internetEvery single week, content in the LinkedIn feed is seen 9 billion times. That's about 36 billion impressions per month and 468 billion per year Even more impressive, is the realization that of the 500 million total LinkedIn users, only 3 million share content on a weekly basis. Let me translate that for you -- 3 million users are getting 9 billion impressions each week. I don't know about you, but within a social economy rife with changing algorithms and pay to play infrastructures, I like those odds. The LinkedIn Pulse feature, specifically, allows emerging and established thought leaders to self-publish content to their feed amongst other news stories, blog posts and insights on the platform. Identifying somewhere between a blog and a social network for professionals, company executives can customize their LinkedIn experience to ensure it is entirely aligned with their business objectives while enhancing their connection to the (sometimes elusive) consumer ecosystem. To ensure users can curate a feed of relevant and valuable content, LinkedIn Pulse can be tailored to each individual and offers a search function in which users can search by category, popularity, and influencers. Ultimately, sharing content on LinkedIn helps you stay top of mind with your core network, while also ensuring your content is ranks higher on Google to expand your reach to a broader audition. Providing consumers and vendors with -- what feels like -- direct access to the ideas and opinions of CEOs and brand executives is undeniably valuable, and helps to position the leaders of your company as integral industry influencers.

How Hotels can Create Extraordinary Experiences with The Help of Microsoft Dynamics 365

mycloud HOSPITALITY 13 March 2019
Are you ready to unleash your Hotels potential by breaking down data silos to connect customers, products, people, and operations? Microsoft Dynamics 365 is leading the way with new AI, mixed reality Hotel solutions. For many Hotels, this will be how we start retaining new customers and build loyalty through some very detailed and informative insight.

The Rise of AI in the Construction Industry

Hotel Online 12 March 2019
Today, it seems as though everything is under construction. It is almost rare to walk outside without seeing a sleek looking building or a bridge being built. Although these projects are being constructed to meet the newest and latest criteria and aesthetics, the crews building them are not necessarily taking advantage of the latest available technology.
Article by Martin Soler

Food for thought: some thoughts post-ITB, are marketplaces a thing now?

Soler & Associates 12 March 2019
Food for thought.Marketplaces, are they happening now?Booking launched their hotel software market place, is this going to be enough to tip the scales and finally make them mainstream? About 5 years ago eRevMax launched the first marketplace concept with LiveOS, followed by SnapShot and then Siteminder. Yet none of these have taken off yet. I'm not counting PMS marketplaces, those are just PMS companies doing their jobs with integrations as a good friend D. Turnbull pointed out. Independent marketplaces have struggled to be relevant. Two main thoughts about that, one is that it is hard to change habits of how people select and buy software. We're not looking at a market size of billions, not even millions. The second thought is that hotels are all about processes. The people in hotels aren't all tech nerds geeking out on the new app. They're janitors, housekeepers, front-desk people and many on minimum wage. So training and implementing a new software process in a hotel is rarely fun. The idea of switching app over-night is exactly not the idea of fun and freedom. It's not quite as plug-and-play as what the marketing and product managers tend to think. But that doesn't mean it can't work. And maybe Booking manages to push the category into mainstream....I wonder if there'll be a "book direct" campaign by software companies.BOOKING.SUITE APPSTOREMore Hotel Brands, Smarter Than You ThinkThe idea of sub-brands for hotel companies has been is often criticised as either really dumb or really confusing. However there's a reason growing the number of brands is a good idea. In the current environment of choice overload, the concept of single product loyalty is a thing of the past. It's why we get yearly smartphone updates and multitude of other constant product updates. The appetite for the newest has grown far beyond what it was 20 years ago. But the reassurance that there's a strong brand behind a product does guarantee a certain level of quality and standard. When faced with the choice to book a hotel in an unknown area and the choice is between a branded hotel and a boutique, brand has an advantage which is standards. The guests know that they have standards to uphold and it reassures. But guests also want to try new things, hence the sub-brands strategy actually is pretty good. Now enter the spanner in my theory as someone quite rightly pointed out that this is merely a strategy to get more investors to buy hotels with their brands.THE DEATH OF PRODUCT LOYALTYMcDonald's Better Service Than a Hotel?The fast food chain is known for a lot of things but better service than hotels isn't one of them. And yet they're managing to get better at service than the ultimate service industry (hotels). The self-service screens that are being installed around the world apparently increase order size. More importantly they improve service. Rather than waiting in line to order one's food one can do it oneself at one's own speed. Then one doesn't need to stand in line to pick-up the food as the staff now come and bring it to the table. And if one has a question one can now speak to a human waiter rather than a half-human order taker at the counter. Hotels still have half-human order takers at check-in. They're stuck to following a process, rather than helping the guest get what they want as fast as possible. Computers were meant to help hotels take care of guests. ADDING TABLE SERVICE TO MCDONALDSTell Trends: Order nowAs I mentioned above, independent and knowledgeable source of information in the industry is quite limited. Those who seem to be quite independent aren't that knowledgeable and those who are knowledgable aren't independent. Tell Trends is a rare mix of both. Get your copy today.SECURE YOUR COPY TODAY

Nuvola, Evolutix Integrate Guestroom Automation, Energy Management Solutions

Hotel Online 12 March 2019
Nuvola, a hotel optimization and guest engagement platform known for its intuitive user interface, announces their partnership with Evolutix to integrate their guestroom automation and energy management solutions into Nuvola’s comprehensive software.
Article by David Lund

Hospitality Financial Leadership The Next Big Thing

The Hotel Financial Coach 12 March 2019
For almost 10 years our industry has been a rocket ship of top-line growth driven almost exclusively by big gains in RevPAR driven by solid increases in occupancy and rate. You also can't go too far inside the online world without finding articles that speak to when and if this growth will stop. We all know it will and it's never been a question of if it will stop, the question is when it will stop. Knowing this growth inevitably will stop and being cognizant that when it does stop it will go backwards, what can you do? History always repeats itself.When the growth stops and revenues year over year shrink what will hotels do to minimize losses and maximize profit retention? For most of us we remember the major negative historical economic events of the past 25+ years and the results to the hotel business that followed. For me my memory going backwards is this: the 2007- 2009 debt crisis, SARS (I'm Canadian), 9-11 and the Gulf War. All of these had a major impact on the hotels I worked in and we scrambled to throw anything and everything off the sinking ship.I painfully remember: hiring and wage freezes, layoffs, mandatory vacations, amenity reductions, outlet closures, corporate training program suspensions, mandatory productivity targets and FF&E contribution freezes.I also remember preemptive contingency plans that targeted a 10-15% decrease in revenues that dictated reductions in: fixed staffing, linen pars, china glass and silver pars, fresh flowers, service audits, uniform purchases, suspension of conferences, relocation freezes, VIP gift eliminations, departmental restructurings, management incentive plan cuts, live music expenses curtailment, aggressive food and beverage cost targets, elimination of administrative assistants, employee opinion survey cancellations, health and safety program reductions, moratoriums on seasonal parties and sports teams, a halt to the company newsletter and travel bans.I took part in planning and communicating: in house meal and entertainment stoppage, the temporary addition of energy surcharges, elimination of hotel executive auto leases, combining like positions, grandfathering personal device purchases, curtailing of cell phone reimbursement, direct in dial telephone line termination, fax number consolidations, pool attendant layoffs, security department day/time/hour reductions, crisis and communications training moratoriums, sales incentive plan restructuring, FAM trip reductions, guest floor shutdowns, and the elimination of supervisors on the front desk and in housekeeping.I vividly recall how painful it was when we: eliminated turn down service; mandated business center staffing cutbacks; eliminated one-time seasonal decoration expenses; trimmed dry cleaning privileges; downsized duty meals; we combined stores and receiving positions; we outsourced payroll services; we made cutbacks to in-house IT staff; we completed sales coordinator right sizing; we exercised reservation department closures; attempted Sunday lounge service moderation; delivered on banquet captain consolidations; completed valet parking outsourcing; started charging for parking; then the up-sell program pruning; and worst of all for me was the requirement to show all of these changes and adjustments in the subsequent detailed forecast for the balance of the year.This is where the rubber hit the road. I recall how impossible it was to execute the reductions, in many cases, because the departmental managers did not know what was really in their budget/forecasts to begin with. Sure, they had dollars for their expenses and hours and dollars for their payroll, but it was not defined in detail. There were no zero-based expenses where we could really look at the current shopping list and eliminate or adjust real things. The same with payroll, there was no fixed staffing guide and no formula for variable payroll. We just took our expenses from last year and added 5% when doing the budget and the same with payroll; wages were forecast to increase 3% so we added 3%. We did cost per cover and cost per room occupied so we would simply extrapolate that and create the budget. Things would come together because they always do until they didn't any longer.We didn't know what was in the middle of our statement so when someone said reduce something it's like, OK we will make that change but it's not a defined result because we were starting without a list, without a real starting point. Here is a domestic example of what I mean. If I send you to the grocery store with $200 and tell you to go buy some groceries you will come back with $200 worth of stuff. On the other hand, if I send you to the store with a list and the corresponding costs for each item you will come back with exactly what was on the list. Now this is where it gets good. I now send you to the store with the same list, but I only give you $175 to spend. I inform you that we must make some reductions this month. I now tell you to eliminate, reduce or forgo what you can to equal the new cash I gave you. This way you know what you're starting with and what your changes result in.The same applies to payroll. You need a concrete fixed staffing list that's approved annually with your budget and meticulously maintained through the year and a detailed staffing formula for every variable payroll category in your entire hotel - not a guide of payroll cost percentage by department or an hour per room or covers formula. These are useless when it comes time to trim, reduce and curtail. They do not work when reductions are necessary. They just confuse the executives and frustrate the department managers.The next big thing as I see it is we learn form our past mistakes. We take the appropriate actions to ensure our operating department managers all know what's in the middle of their statements, down to how many of each item and at what cost that makes up every line of their expenses. We also need to go down to a monthly payroll forecast that is detailed by position and contains the exact number of hours wage rate. This way when it's time once again to cut costs we will have a real starting point. Or, we can just hold our breath like I did and hope that it will all get better soon.Once upon a time...

AI-Powered Leak Detection & Water Conservation System Launches

Hotel F&B 11 March 2019
WINT Water Intelligence, a leader in water management solutions for commercial and industrial applications, announced the availability of its products and services in the United States.

Rising Capex, Development and Wellness Construction

Hotel Business Review by 10 March 2019
Over the last decade, the spa and wellness sector has faced tremendous growth in the hospitality industry. This evolution has significantly evolved over the last few years. Many hotels and resorts have found it increasingly necessary to adopt new performance models, renovate existing structures, and greatly enhance their food and beverage programs. This has also stimulated innovative property updates to accommodations, public spaces and spa and wellness facilities.

From Beds to Ballrooms: Total Revenue Performance for Your Total Property

mycloud HOSPITALITY 10 March 2019
Get as much heads in beds as possible while optimizing your hotel's profit potential. This straightforward definition of a revenue manager's job-albeit oversimplified-probably rings true for many of us in the industry. However, if a revenue manager is solely focused on guest-room pricing, then who's in charge of enhancing revenue for the rest of your property?
Article by Abdullah Rashed Jasem Al-Abdooli (B.Arch.)

Synchronised for Success -Marjan

MEED 10 March 2019
The overarching theme of the Arabian Hospitality Investment Conference 2019 - 'Synchronised for Success' - underlines the spirit of collaboration that has fostered the growth of the hospitality, leisure, tourism, retail and property development sectors of the region.It is a befitting take on the real need of the hour: collaboration and co-creation of experiences that consider the rapidly evolving aspirations of the customers, who are increasingly discerning, demanding and seeking higher value across every touch point.I believe that for years our industries had operated in silos. Before the era of big buzz mergers and acquisitions that have transformed the hospitality industry, the major players were intent on competing on prices. It is no secret that the hospitality industry was among the laggards in adopting tech innovation, and now it is catching up for lost time with gusto.Similar trends have prevailed in in the property development and retail sectors so much so that digital innovation has forced both industry players to relook at their business model and evolve quickly to be relevant for the new generation of tech-savvy customers.Four drivers are critical in the new 'synchronised model for success' that every business must consider: Innovation, positivity, tech-adoption and creativity.These are not just options but imperatives in today's changing market dynamics. Innovation must become part of an organisation's DNA and a work culture, whereby every stakeholder voluntarily involves in identifying new ways to do things more efficiently.With innovation becoming a watchword in today's business lexicon, there is a tendency to associate it solely with some ground-breaking invention that will transform the entire organisation.It need not necessarily be so: I believe that innovation can roll-out even in the simple things, from the way guests are greeted and welcomed to hotels to, say, adding a personal touch to the customer journey. Small incremental measures that innovate on old practices add up to create positive change.But what is important is for every employee to be open to ideas and for the management to be receptive to them.The second key driver is the ability of organisations, including every stakeholder, to remain positive even in the face of challenges. There is never a perfect market situation. Every market has its share of challenges, and then again, there are the economic cycles that are inevitable. It is key for business to learn from the experiences of the past and to stay upbeat in the face of challenges. Market difficulties are not an excuse for inaction: Continue to do what you do and focus on creating value because with every challenge comes an opportunity.The third driver is the need to be tech-savvy and to adopt the realm of digital revolution that is transforming the way we work, live and play. Big data and advanced analytics offer a tremendous opportunity in understanding guest preferences, and this must be leveraged to finetune and perfect customer service standards. Data, per se, is of little value unless it is used to achieve tangible business objectives.Finally, it is important to promote a culture of creativity among your stakeholders. With a team of creative and dedicated stakeholders, organisations can build resilience, achieve goals and sustain their success for the long-term.All these also take us to the fundamental pillar of success in any business - one's purpose. As Simon Sinek, author and organisational consultant observes, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." Your organisational purpose indeed defines you and your business today, and when you work together with partners from diverse sectors towards a common goal, you march towards success and progress in harmony.I can think of no better example than Ras Al Khaimah, an emirate that today stands synchronised for success. The spirit of collaboration that drives the emirate - integrating all business sectors to create a destination that is sought-after by investors and tourists makes Ras Al Khaimah a compelling success story today.Hosting events such as AHIC and welcoming the world to share their success stories further deepens our focus on the spirit of collaboration that indeed ushers in a win-win era for all.
Article by Max Starkov

Hospitality Digital Technology: Challenges, Priorities, and Buzzwords

HEBS Digital 8 March 2019
Background:Today's typical online travel consumer is exposed to more than 38,983 micro-moments in a 60-day timeframe and visits an average of 18 websites via multiple devices across eight sessions before making a hotel booking (Google Research).With the explosion of the "digital way of life", the customer journey has become increasingly complex, forcing hoteliers to overhaul not only their corporate and marketing strategies, but also their technology stack in order to engage, acquire, service and retain these digitally-enabled travel consumers across multiple digital touch points and across all digital channels and devices.Today's hospitality is being transformed into a 100% digital technology-enabled industry powered by online, mobile, cloud, IoT, AI and blockchain tools and applications. Digital technology is making its way into every aspect of the industry: hotel operations, guest services, communications, revenue management, distribution, CRM and marketing.Today's hotelier must understand, know and use digital tech solutions in their everyday environment, and be able to assess, evaluate, recommend and acquire technology solutions to improve guest satisfaction, operational efficiencies, productivity, customer service, and revenue.Types of guest-facing hospitality digital technologyIf we set aside the traditional hotel operations, administrative/back office and HR technology, and the hotel engineering infrastructure and "mechanical" technology (all of which are typically "hidden" from the guests), there are two categories of guest-facing digital technology:Guest Engagement, Acquisition, and Retention Technology- these are technology applications focused on engaging and bringing the guest to the property, continuing the conversation pre-, during and post-stay and eventually turning the guest into a loyal and repeat guest.Guest Services Technology- these are on-property hardware devices and appliances, and software applications (on-premises or cloud-based) that provide or enhance guest services, improve guest comfort and satisfaction and enable customer service and communications.Today, the vast majority of hoteliers are primarily focused on and investing in Guest Services Technology, while underinvesting in Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology.Unlike hoteliers, the OTAs are focused exclusively and investing only in Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology since they do not have to worry about on-property technology and guest experiences. In other words, hoteliers' technology focus and investments end where the OTA focus and investment begin.It's no wonder that over the last 6 years the OTAs have increased their market share by over 40% at the expense of the hotel direct channel. By investing heavily in technology applications to engage the traveler at all possible touchpoints of the customer journey, OTAs have monopolized the guest relationships and left hoteliers in the dust.This is particularly true for independent hotels and resorts, smaller and mid-size hotel brands.1. GUEST ENGAGEMENT, ACQUISITION AND RETENTION TECHNOLOGYThere are crucial aspects of the Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology category which the hospitality industry is ignoring, not excelling in, or dramatically falling behind in including:Online Distribution Technology:Over the past 15 years or so, the industry has become somewhat better at adopting online distribution technology: cloud-based website booking engines (WBE), central reservation systems (CRS) and channel management platforms. Yet, many independent hoteliers still utilize separate WBEs, CRS, and Channel Management vendors. WBEs are used that are not mobile-friendly or have a weak uptime record, and some hotels are even a WBE and CRS provided by an OTA. To reduce friction and lower costs and vendor management efforts, evaluate and select a cloud-based distribution technology vendor that provides all three capabilities: WBE with proven user experience (UX) record, CRS, and Channel Manager, naturally with a two-way API tom your property's PMS.Revenue Management Technology:Over 95% of independent hotels, resorts and casinos do not have an adequate Revenue Management System (RMS). An RMS is a predictive analytics tech platform for accurate and often real-time data processing, demand forecasting, pricing and segment optimization, and channel optimization. An RMS allows the property to sell rooms at the right price, at the right time, through the right channels, and to the right customers, which can result in significant increases in occupancy and revenue. Look for a cloud-based RMS which have lower implementation and ongoing SaaS costs, typically priced per room/month.Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Technology:Over 95% of independents have no meaningful CRM application as part of their hotel tech stack. A CRM technology platform typically provides guest profile data management with ongoing cleansing and de-duping, guest pre-stay communications, in-stay communications, post-stay communications, guest satisfaction surveys, marketing automation, ongoing marketing, loyalty, and guest recognition programs. If your property's repeat guests are 10% and above, you need a CRM solution to help you double or triple that number. A cloud-based CRM is the best way to go today.Online Reputation Management Technology (ORM):Monitoring and reacting to your customer reviews has become a must-do in hospitality. An ORM system typically includes sentiment analysis, comp set analysis, reputation monitoring, guest satisfaction surveys, and analytics. Using ORM, hotels can understand what the sentiments of the traveling public are toward their property versus their competition, and can proactively impact their guests' online reviews and ratings by better understanding their guests and by making improvements that address issues brought up in reviews. By default, ORM services today are cloud and subscription-based.Digital Marketing Technology:All marketing efforts of the property involve digital technology and applications. Marketing is used to engage travel consumers in the Dreaming and Planning Phases, acquiring them in the Booking Phase, and re-engaging them in the Reminiscence and post-stay phase. The digital marketing tech stack includes:SEO technology to manage rankings, monitor competition and provide keyword and ranking recommendations.Dynamic rate marketing applications to engage and convert customers who have expressed interest to travel to your destination.Programmatic and native display advertising.Metasearch marketing.Multichannel campaign applications for offers and promotions.Audience segmentation applications.Demand-side platforms (DSP).Email marketing technology.Social media management tools.Typically, independents and mid-size or smaller hotel brands outsource digital technology needs to specialized tech-enabled digital marketing firms.Website Technology:The property or hotel brand website has become the gravitational center of all hotelier's efforts to engage, acquire and retain the customer. Any marketing efforts of the hotel today lead the potential customers to the hotel website. Today's website technology includes cloud-based Content Management System (CMS), comprehensive merchandising suites, reservation abandonment tools, personalization pricing and content, technical SEO, cloud hosting, and robust analytics suite.Case Study: What Should Your Website Technology Do?Many hoteliers often fail to understand the crucial role the hotel website and its user experience (UX) plays in the overall health of the property and the bottom line. With nearly 59% of online travelers now visiting the hotel website from mobile devices, a mobile-first website design is a must.According to Google, 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. On average, hotel websites download in 6 seconds or more. Mobile-first responsive website with cloud hosting and CDN (Content Delivery Network) provides far better server response times and faster download speeds.Your property's mobile-first website must be backed by a mobile-first website technology platform and Content Management System (CMS) that includes mobile-first functionalities specific to the hoteliers' needs, such as:Mobile-first website design, ensuring an optimum mobile user experience and content access plus best-in-class UX booking path strategy to ensure users can easily complete a booking across devices.Automated Schema Markup on the mobile-first hotel website, which help the search engines understand the content and intent of websites, especially dynamic content elements.Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), greatly increasing hotel visibility and creating another entry point to boost mobile visitors and bookings.Advanced merchandising technology platform for pushing specials, including last-minute offers for mobile users as well as automatic time-based offers, etc.Personalization capabilities to target users with one-to-one marketing messages and promotions, based their demographic info, geolocation, feeder market origin, loyalty member affiliation, and many more.Secure cloud hosting platform, featuring a full stack of automated download speed- enhancement tools and bandwidth, specifically designed for mobile users.Today's hoteliers must create and manage a robust digital presence and engage, acquire, service and retain travel consumers in this increasingly mobile-first world. They must understand and invest in digital technology and marketing that enables the best possible user experience, provides the best customer service, increases efficiencies and boosts revenues.2. GUEST SERVICES DIGITAL TECHNOLOGYUntil recently, hotels offered better technology and amenities compared to many guests' own homes. This is no longer the case. Quite often, today's travel consumer enjoys better technology and amenities at home: high-speed internet, voice assistants like Alexa, streaming media like Hulu or Netflix, smart TVs, and IoT-enabled refrigerators and A/Cs.From a technology perspective, the challenge to hoteliers is to create a hotel and room environment that at least matches but preferably exceeds their guests' home environment. In other words, hotel and room technology, amenities, and features should be the same or better than what guests already enjoy at home. These include:Smart Room Technology:High-Speed Internet(HSIA): true HSIA of 200 - 500 MbpsEntertainment: including big screen 4K, Ultra HD or OLED smart TVs, seamless multimedia hubs to enable the "synching" of the guest-own streaming media accounts (Hulu, Amazon Fire TV, AppleTV, Google Play) with the room TV.Voice personal assistants: these natural language processing devices, typically based on Alexa or Google Home, allow the guest to access room service, facilitate guest requests, and manage utilities and amenities such as adjusting room temperature or lights.Smart Barista and Beverage Center: hubs that "know and remember" the guest's preferences and taste.RFID keyless mobile device-enabled locks and security.Smart Utilities Management: through voice assistants, IoT controls, thermal occupancy sensors or hotel app (ex. Cirq+).Frictionless Messaging Communications: with front desk, housekeeping, engineering, concierge and room service (ex. ReviewPro, Zingle, Whistle).Issue Resolution Technology: guest incident tracking, logging, dispatching, and follow up. Virtually connect guests to housekeeping and engineering or work order automation (ex. Runtriz, Guestware)The future of this technology is the Smart Guestroom which will be completely personalized to guest preferences and loyalty member profile. Hilton Hotels via their Connected Room and Marriott via their IoT Guestroom prototypes are already working on synching loyalty member profiles and preferences with the room experience: room temperature, lighting, bathroom accessories, streaming media preferences, beverages, bedding, and more. Recently Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta stated: "Imagine a world where the room knows you, and you know your room."Self-Service Guest Technology:For DIY-obsessed consumers, self-service kiosks, devices, and mobile applications have already entered the marketplace and are enjoying wide adoption, both by hoteliers and guests. The most common devices and applications are:Hotel Check-in/Check-out Kiosks: these lobby-based devices typically provide guest Identification, room upgrades and special offers, early check-ins, room selection/assignment, online registration card and signature, acceptance of the hotel policies, credit card payments and keycards issuance.Mobile Apps: all major hotel chains, and many midsize/smaller hotel brands, provide their loyalty members with mobile check-in from anywhere, room selection/assignment, ability to customize stay, ability to receive alerts (traffic, weather, when the room is ready), get key from Mobile Check-in Desk or mobile key, credit card payments.Interactive Information Kiosks: these guest information kiosks serve as a 24/7 virtual concierge and information source for both property and destination information, which increases lobby functionality, shortens concierge wait times and enhances the guest experience.Virtual Concierge: these mobile or website apps allow 24/7 guest interaction via messaging with the Virtual Concierge, which can make suggestions, order services, and track the status of requests. This technology enhances the guest experience and generates additional revenue from auxiliary services and upsells.Chat Bots: these AI-powered applications have already received wide acceptance and adoption in the marketplace, especially for customer service and call center reservations. All OTAs and major hotel brands have deployed some form of chatbot or AI-powered customer service application. Some OTAs already handle as much as 85% of their online customer service via an AI-powered chatbot, which has led to huge cost-savings and improved customer satisfaction.Self-Ordering Kiosks: these F&B kiosks typically provide full menu ordering with real-time order information sent to the kitchen, inventory management, credit card payments, and printed or emailed receipts.What are the main challenges for hotels to adopt digital technology?Hoteliers are overwhelmed by the amount of technology, data, and digital marketing silos and the need to work with a multitude of vendors in their guest acquisition and services efforts. The typical hotel uses a myriad of vendors that do not talk to each other, and in many cases do not even know each other. There will be one for CRM, a second for the property website, a third for SEO, a fourth for SEM, a fifth for online media, and so on.Each property team, from revenue generation teams like RM, S&M, and CRM to guest services teams such as housekeeping, engineering and front desk, operate in isolation of each other. Each team has its own technology tools, databases, and vendors which are not in communication with the other teams.These are the major impediments to the industry becoming a digital technology-driven and technology-savvy industry:Reluctance to invest in digital technology: This reluctance to invest in digital technology comes from the lack of understanding that we are serving technology obsessed travel consumers who demand a hotel technological experience be equal or better to what they have at home. In this digital age, hospitality technology goes way beyond the flat-screen TV or the property PMS, and should focus on guest-facing digital technology applications and devices like streaming media hubs, voice assistants, messaging capabilities, mobile-first property website, personalization technology, and one-to-one pricing and marketing applications.Antiquated accounting in hospitality: Most of the cloud Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology solutions and many of the cloud Guest Services Technology applications are accounted for from the Sales, General and Administrative Expense section of the property P&L. In other words, these new technologies are not being amortized like capital expenses or considered COGS (Cost of Goods Sold). This singular fact makes many property owners and managers reluctant to invest in new types of digital technology applications, most of which are being sold to the property on a subscription SaaS basis.The technology and data fragmentation in hospitality is another big challenge and impediment to progress the industry faces today. Guest data lives in multiple "data islands" that do not talk to each other: PMS, CRM, CRS, Social Media, Web Analytics, Marketing Data, and BI. Very few properties and hotel companies can boast a single view on customer data with live data feeds from ALL touchpoints with the traveler.Most of the time, CRM data is not being utilized to engage and retain past guests. Quite often different teams at the property use different sets of data in their day-to-day operations, creating a total "data integrity mess," which directly affects the property's guest acquisition and retention efforts.The goal here is very clear: bridge the guest data and technology silos in hospitality and create an end-to-end solution, empowering hotels to acquire new guests, engage current guests, and retain past guests by combining digital marketing, website, and CRM data into one cohesive marketing and personalization platform.Lack of proper education and professional development opportunities on digital hospitality technology and the latest technology innovations, trends and best practices. How many hospitality schools today teach hospitality technology courses? Only a few. New York University's Tisch Center for Hospitality launched a brand-new course on Hospitality Technology in the Spring 2019 Semester, which is a great start to educating future hoteliers on the importance of technology in this industry.And finally, we have become an industry of buzzwords and flashy gadgets, in the hope of impressing guests, owners, and investors. These show that your hotel brand is not "falling behind the curve." Recently, an independent hotel introduced room service delivery robots, which would have been great if the rest of the hotel tech stack were in order. The hotel was still using a 6-year old website and had no CRM technology.Hotels should first focus on the fundamentals of the technology stack before implementing more advanced things.Fragmentation in the hospitality tech sector.The global hospitality industry a highly fragmented industry with a lot of technology deficiencies and needs that require smart solutions. The U.S. hospitality industry is a $155 billion industry. This provides endless opportunities for smart technology vendors to thrive and service the industry with state-of-the-art solutions.The technology and data fragmentation at the property, discussed above, is further exacerbated by the fragmentation in tech vendors. The industry needs fewer, as opposed to more, technology vendors.Due to the increasing complexity of hotel tech, vendors are already in need of significant investments to innovate and scale up. As a result, it's expected there will be consolidation and M&A in hotel tech over the next few years.What are some next-generation hotel technology applications?Hoteliers need to monitor, proactively inquire about and familiarize themselves with the Next Generation Technologies that are already making their way into hospitality, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Voice Assistants, Chat Bots, Robotics, and Blockchain.It is up to hotel tech vendors to carry the torch and help the industry overcome its technology deficiencies by embracing the rising tide of digital-obsessed travel consumers. Hoteliers need to embrace, learn about, and invest in the next-gen technologies already being adopted.Labor-intensive hotel positions that involve repetitive or structured work such as housekeeping, customer service and call center reps, and F&B waiting staff will see wider adoption of robotics, automation, and other AI-powered devices in the years to come.Over the next 3-5 years we will witness wider adoption and implementation of the following next-gen technologies:Artificial Intelligence (AI): Customer service (chatbots), personalization (one-to-one marketing, one-to-one pricing), database management (single-view customer data) and loyalty programs.Voice Assistants/Voice Search: Integration of major hotel brand CRS with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Home Pod, customer service (voice assistants in hotel rooms).Internet of Things (IoT): Customer service (concierge, hotel lobby, room service); hotel security, operations (power and A/C management).Robotics: Robots will replace jobs around the property, from front desk to housekeeping to kitchen staff.Blockchain:The much-promoted use of blockchain in all aspects of hotel distribution, marketing and operations is another affirmation that we are an industry of buzzwords. Over the past two years, many hoteliers got overly excited by this new technology and its perceived "magic wand" ability to solve industry deficiencies.In my view, blockchain technology will have the following three potential uses in hospitality:Procurement: a mega brand like Marriott deals with tens of thousands of vendors in hundreds of geographies. Utilizing a public or a private version of blockchain technology (like the IBM Blockchain Platform), a major hotel brand can introduce unprecedented traceability and transparency in its supply chain and streamline its procurement logistics.Secure Contracting: blockchain can power secure legal contracts between hotel chains and numerous legal parties: from franchise agreements, preferred vendor contracts, and corporate groups.Universal Digital IDs: in the future, blockchain could provide travel consumers with Universal Digital IDs which could be used for voice hotel reservations and loyalty program memberships. These could ultimately facilitate easier and more secure online transactions.One thing blockchain technology is not good for at this point is hotel distribution. In order to utilize blockchain for hotel distribution, any blockchain player has to tackle the complexity of hospitality technology which consists of many moving parts.Conclusion:The "digital way of life" adopted by today's tech-savvy travel consumer is forcing the hospitality industry to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies and become a 100% digital technology-enabled industry.By being primarily focused on and investing in Guest Services Technology, while underinvesting in Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology, hoteliers are allowing the OTAs to gain more visibility and engage, acquire and retain the online travel consumer.OTAs are focused exclusively and investing in Guest Engagement, Acquisition, and Retention Technology. By investing heavily in technology applications to engage the traveler at all possible touchpoints of the customer journey, hoteliers have the opportunity to take market share away from OTAs and keep guests engaged throughout their lifetimes.
Article by Stuart Pallister

Unlocking business potential: Building the right tech architecture in hospitality - HITEC Europe Preview

Hospitality Net 8 March 2019
Hoteliers are missing out on business opportunities as they fail to gather guest data properly. Michael Levie, Chief Operations Officer at citizenM Hotels and member of the HITEC Europe Advisory Council, says that given the rapid pace of business today, consumers are "not going to wait for us"."Let's face it, our guests travel frequently, they're very tech savvy and they don't see their smartphone as technology. It's all about functionality. If they take an Uber it's easy. If they take an airline, they can check in, they have everything available.""If we don't get our act together and react, we'll become more and more dependent (on vendors and online travel agencies). And data basically sits at the base of all that."Tech firms and others such as airlines are using data more efficiently, he says, adding that if the hospitality industry does not begin to handle reliable data better, and keep it "clean and ready for use, then I think we'll miss out on a lot of business opportunities."To date, hoteliers have relied heavily on property management systems. "But because we've hung so many interfaces on to it for point-of-sales, door lock systems or any other technology, the PMS looked as all those connections as transactional or for its functionality."Radio-frequency identification (RFID) door cards allow guests to access their rooms during the reservation period but beyond the functionality, hoteliers are failing to access "the micro detail that travels in those interfaces" about the guest's behavior."There's a richness of information about our guests and their habits in the systems, yet there's no way for us ever to bring that data to bear."By using dashboards, instead, hoteliers could gain a great deal of micro detail in addition to functionality. "Through a service bus or that one pipe that all the data travels through, we can start generating dashboards to understand a lot more information about our guests as it becomes available.""All of a sudden we get that richness of data of guest behavior." It also allows hoteliers, Levie says, to have an overview of how savings can be made and how profits can be increased."Unfortunately, data only unlocks when we've got our architecture right. And I think the biggest issue facing our industry is the systems architecture."Hotels in large chains probably have to - or have been 'advised' to - use a specific PMS but then the "knowledge that sits there basically gets sucked into the chain and doesn't necessarily sit at the hotel level. So, at the hotel level, there's very little they're allowed to do or can do.""If you think of contemporary successful organizations, they're all data driven. Take an Amazon or a Google, take what they do with data and the anticipation (of customer behavior) they're able to generate out of the data and you see that unlocks a lot of new business potential.""We, as hoteliers, are still focused on a PMS or a specific device, but unfortunately insufficiently look at what data really represents and, in order to capture that data, what type of architecture we need within our systems to be able to do better."For tech firms coming into this space, it represents an ideal opportunity. Certainly, tech issues have become highly specialized, so much so that hoteliers can no longer count on their limited tech ability to devise systems architecture and understand data flows, says Levie. "But many hotels should realize that if they become dependent on advisors - whether consultants in the broadest sense or tech firms - there's always a sales component in their advice. And what concerns me most is that hoteliers, who are not generally tech savvy and don't know what questions to ask, aren't able to steer their own destiny."Hoteliers, he says, need to understand the whole structure rather than taking a piecemeal approach by adopting, say, accounting software to generate expense reports or using a distribution tool to do rate comparisons. "On and on through the entire food chain there are all kinds of devices being glued on to old stagnant technology that sits in the PMS, whereby the data doesn't flow but gets stuck.""If you have the right architecture, you can start to organize that data: how it comes in, how it gets collated, where it gets stored and how it gets cleansed. And if you'd like to mine that data and learn from it, or have specialists work with it, then that data starts to tell the story."Investment though is a major challenge facing the industry. "If you keep on spending little by little, without looking at the big picture, you're missing an opportunity.""We are investing in technology and every day we're being asked if we want to add technology to what we have already and we readily add it if it has value and is easy to understand. But if it doesn't fit into a broader strategy, it doesn't sit in a broader architecture that enriches our own path."Vendors may be selling hoteliers another piece of software or a system that may be functional and produce a return, he says, but "in its totality, we need to be smarter.""Will that require investment? Yes. Will that require the appropriate intelligence? Yes. Will it take time for us to get better at it? Yes. But if we don't understand why we're being overtaken and we don't understand what data is all about, then we'll never get it right.""Although it's expensive to put your own house in order - and it doesn't come free - by not doing it, you pay the bill somewhere and you become totally dependent."Up to now, the industry has, with a few notable exceptions such as citizenM, glued digital solutions on to analogue processes and systems. As an industry, Levie says, "we stay on very legacy-based systems and are trying to keep up with people who've figured it out in a much more pragmatic and deep way and have started with a clean slate.""We're already behind the eight ball and need to catch up," so hoteliers need to be smarter and more pragmatic, "otherwise we'll never get there."Using the analogy of an architect designing a building to make sure it's efficient and flows well, Levie says a poorly-designed structure would be "more expensive and less intriguing." However, when it comes to IT or systems architecture, this is not viewed as a necessity. "So I would say, start with an architect who can translate what you desire and need in systems. That will reveal also the need to understand your customer and the associated data. Then, if we get that organized, we can make better overall decisions to get to the Promised Land."In search of 'a different trade wind' at HITEC EuropeFor Levie, because of the rich variety of vendors and visitors taking part in HITEC Europe, "a different trade wind starts to blow." There are opportunities to learn from participants and meet hotels, organizations or individuals that "battle the same thing that you do.""As such, we can grow and set up a network of people who can help us."Levie, who has been attending HITEC Europe for many years, says it has been "an enriching path. Through that, I've built up the knowledge I have today and the ability to be focused and get what we need.""I started citizenM and have a good understanding of technology but it's insufficient to be a CIO of the size of a company that we are today. If we hadn't invested in the right structure and architecture, we'd be as dependent as many others are in the industry on PMS releases and on what vendors are going to dish up next."
Article by Robert Rauch, CHA

Flexing Hotel Labor Today

R. A. Rauch & Associates, Inc. 7 March 2019
In a market of uncertainty and seasonal fluctuations, managing hotel property expenses is a challenging job that remains on the forefront of the minds of strategic operators. Hotels that implement a staffing strategy that adapts to these changes will keep operations running smoothly throughout the year and even throughout an economic slowdown. This can be a remarkable way to improve profits when revenues are flat or even down. With a focused attention on payroll, creative training programs, automation, and F&B streamlining, hotel operators can reduce turnover and ultimately cut property costs.According to both Marcus & Millichap's national economic outlook and CBRE's report on hotel profitability, wage growth slowly increased, especially in the hospitality sector. In 2019 an average 3% pay increase is predicted, which is the same as 2018 and 2017 in the U.S. Additionally, the real wage increase is forecast to be 0.6%, down from 1% last year. This takes into account an expected 2.4% inflation rate in 2019. This year minimum wage has also increased in 19 states and 24 cities. This wage growth across the country lends little opportunity to achieve cost savings when average rates remain flat.To combat this, operators need to find creative ways to retain employees with something other than higher pay. Training is an investment directly linked to employee retention and not only improves output, but will also lead to higher job satisfaction. In times of economic stress, one of the biggest mistakes operators often make to try to manage expenses is cutting training. With maintained training programs, turnover is expected to decrease, productivity will increase, and the cost of finding, hiring and training new employees will shrink as well. This has been proven by almost all major hotel companies over the past 30 years.With a highly seasonal industry, operators need to ensure their year-round employees have meaningful work during slower times. One successful technique to ensure consistent productivity is cross-training employees for different disciplines within the hotel. This will foster increased work efficiency and will allow employees to take ownership over what happens on property. Employees stronger sense of responsibility will make the most of their talents and skills, ensuring labor cost optimization. For example, in a hotel's rooms division, Front Desk Supervisors should execute desk responsibilities and whenever applicable, cover all or part of a shift thus reducing agent hours. The Assistant General Manager can also work partial desk shifts in an effort to reduce desk agent hours either on schedule or when agents are sent home early due to limited activity.Unique Ways Toward ProductivityAs an operator, it is critical to decide which positions are mandatory to run an efficient operation. Automation is something that scares many operators but the truth is, automation can improve productivity and virtually never causes a reduction of jobs. As an example, we utilize a service robot from Savioke that delivers sundries, housekeeping supplies and food and beverage items to guests without having to page an employee and pull them off their primary job. Guests love technology so there is no disappointment when our robot arrives and calls the room.Today's workmen's compensation claims have risen sharply in the area of housekeeping employees injured while vacuuming. The answer? A robot from Maidbots. This robot vacuums rooms while housekeepers tend to cleaning the bathroom. While it takes longer to vacuum a room robotically, the productivity increase is significant.Enrolling in sustainability programs not only lowers energy costs, but can also result in significant labor cost savings. In fact, the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth found that 92 percent of a building's design, construction, operations, and maintenance costs come from labor and labor-related costs. An example of this realized savings from sustainability efforts can be seen at one of our hotels in San Diego. RAR Hospitality's management team has implemented the Green Clean program, which offers guests a $5 credit should they opt out of full clean service each day and many hotel companies are implementing a similar program.In food and beverage, it is time we made it easy for today's guests to have a choice of self-service with an iPad or assistance from a manager when ordering in a fast casual or casual restaurant. Servers will be able to handle significantly more customers this way. Does it replace servers? Possibly, but it will increase the number of jobs in software development and many servers are educated enough to fill those spots.The bottom line is, we need to be prepared for a change in economic conditions. With labor being a hotel's largest expense generator, the benefits of these seemingly minor changes will accrue in increased productivity and reduced overhead. Start now and watch profits rise for another two years. To a strong finish and another profitable year in our industry!
Article by Adam Hoydysh

Exceeding Guest Expectations Across Generations: Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers

Plum 6 March 2019
How exciting is it, to live in a time during which industries and brands are continually re-inventing themselves in tandem with the rapid evolution of technology and innovation(s)? Exciting -- absolutely, but these frequent consumer-driven shifts also create a unique challenge for industries hoping to keep their finger firmly on the pulse of modern expectations. And with the influx of millennial consumers, it's not merely a matter of remaining technologically savvy -- brands also need to demonstrate an understanding of generation-specific desires and preferred service models. In the case of hospitality, we arrive at the ultimate question; what does the modern guest look like? Is marketing to the millennial masses vastly different from previous generations? What trends are forecasted for 2019, and how will those affect travel and hotel brands in their pursuit of long-term guest loyalty? Luckily, we can shed some light on this topic. MillennialsMillennials are inherently value-driven consumers. I don't mean value regarding the best perceived monetary value, though. Rather, I'm alluding to their desire to interact with brands who demonstrate an intimate understanding of their core values. In fact, millennial purchase behavior(s) are rooted in a different set of values than previous generations. These include:Quality and varietyConvenienceThe history/story/team behind a product or serviceA brand's innovations, philosophies, and techniquesAuthenticitySustainable footprintPersonalizationAcross industries, these are the primary drivers of millennial loyalty (which, for the record, is notoriously more difficult to earn), and hospitality is indeed no exception. Millennial travelers are actively seeking out travel experiences that are unique, with sustainable properties that have a history or local ties. They also seek innovative technology and hospitality brands which exercise a deliberately authentic voice and epitomize a more personalized service model.Furthermore, millennials deeply value the opportunity to experience something novel or exclusive. The Deloitte study, "Winning the Race for Guest Loyalty," found that millennials highly value exclusive experiences more than other groups, with 66% of polled millennials indicating that unique experiences matter, compared with just 50% of travelers in all other age groups.When looking at the list of values above, how many can you check off for your property? And if those aren't currently pillars of your service model and offering, how can you work them into your brand strategy? Baby BoomersWhile millennials have consumed a great deal of attention from brands over the past few years, baby boomers are not to be forgotten. Especially considering their generation is expected to inherit a whopping $8.4 trillion by 2030 and most of them will soon be 'empty nesters.' As 'baby boomers' represent anyone born between 1946 and 1964, it's important to identify their desire for a more hybrid service model. While they demonstrate an appreciation for modern technology and those subsequent conveniences, they also grew up in a time in which a high-touch, traditional service structure was the norm. With this in mind, baby boomers respond positively to 'outstanding' and personalized experiences with brands -- which, luckily, settles in nicely with the millennial preference as well. To appeal to baby boomers, hoteliers should consider the ways in which they can better connect with those guests on a personal level, to make their stay meaningful while still appealing to their penchant for simplicity. So, how can you curate a more simplified, but meaningful experience? Think affordable luxury, clean accommodations, personalized communications and user-friendly technology that delivers convenience.Generation Xers Situated between baby boomers and millennials, we have the Generation Xers -- born roughly between the years of 1965 to 1975. With a front row seat to much of the technological evolution that has occurred over the past few decades, Generation X is the perceived middle child generation that may often be overlooked in the eyes of brands. However, when considering Gen X's strong connection to both baby boomers and millennials, impressive spending power and their strong brand loyalty -- it's ever-important for brands to get to know their preferences, too. So, what do Gen Xer's want? Well, it's not actually that complicated. Being a technologically savvy generation, Gen X travelers appreciate a mobile experience -- one which is rooted in convenience and self-service. It's reported that 60% of Gen X use a smartphone on a daily basis, while 67% use a laptop/PC daily - which surpassed the 58% of millennials who use laptops/PCs daily. They are noted as the generation that reads the most reviews, and thoroughly researches brands/services before making a purchase decision. With this in mind, hotel properties must remain especially aware of their online presence, while ensuring their offering is communicated clearly and effectively online. Similar to their generational counterparts, Gen Xer's value sincerity and authenticity from brands, and are likely to approve of (and demonstrate loyalty to) those hotels who show an understanding that every guest has a unique set of needs and expectations. By offering a more personalized travel experience with access to self-service technology, hoteliers can effectively appeal to the Gen X group of travelers.Keeping up with the.... TechnologyIn the hospitality industry, technology is a priority across all demographics. A recent study found that 34% of hotel guests rank outdated technology in guest rooms as the most frustrating aspect of their stay. Further, 38% said the front desk taking too long to complete requests and 31% cited delays in service from hotel staff. This really comes as no surprise -- with the rapid adoption of modern technology, long-standing administrative frustrations such as these no longer seem justified. Today, all demographics demonstrate an undeniable penchant for instant-gratification across all touch-points of the consumer experience. Don't believe me? Consider the following:- Consumers rarely wait more than two to four seconds for a website to load- In 2017: Google had 3.8 million search requests, more than 400 hours of video was uploaded to YouTube, viewers watched 87,000 hours of video on Netflix, and 65,000 photos were uploaded to Instagram. All in just one minute.- Only 26% of individuals polled say they would wait longer than 30 minutes for takeout food, and 41% of consumers say they would not wait longer than 15 minutes for a ride requested via a mobile app.This all ties back to a common theme -- the modern desire for instant gratification. With this in mind, it becomes ever-important for hotel and travel brands to invest in new technology that allows for a more streamlined experience. Convenient, fast and efficient should be the adjectives of choice when describing the service process at any hotel in 2019. Luckily, with the latest innovations in hospitality technology, everything from the check-in process to serving a glass of wine can be nearly offered in a self-service model, serving up a dose of instant gratification at every touch-point.So, what does the modern guest look like? Well, there's no one answer to that question -- and perhaps that's precisely the point. The 'modern' guest spans across generations and traveler 'types' to encompass anyone currently seeking out an exceptional travel experience. Gone are the days of a "one-size-fits-all" hospitality service model -- modern guests demand their own, unique fit, every stay. Ultimately, this represents a call for a more individualized service offering and an intimate understanding of each guest. Modern guests are leading the charge to a new and improved hospitality standard, and it's up to hotel properties to keep up -- or risk being left behind.
Article by Kacey Bradley

Five Practices That Ensure Hoteliers Make the Most of Property Updates

The Drifter Collective 6 March 2019
When planning a major hotel renovation project, industry leaders recommend keeping the following five elements in mind. As the old saying goes, failing to plan means planning to fail. Planning your renovation around the following five key elements ensures a successful return on investment (ROI) from your property improvement dollar.Strive for TimelessnessWhile trying the latest trends may tempt hotel owners, exercise caution, as the whole point of renovation means making your decor fresh. Aim instead for a design that offers timeless, classy elements.For example, recent renovations to the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., entices guests with room color schemes in classic blues, ivory and grey with just a touch of gold accents. This subdued scheme invites rest and relaxation after busy city days. The classic colors pair perfectly with the hotel's target market of politicians and international figureheads.Indeed, the factor of paramount importance in any design scheme requires keeping your target guest market in mind throughout the renovation process. Cozy country inns may incorporate quirky design elements such a chicken, romantic honeymoon retreats benefit from rose and burgundy tones, while chains frequented by business travelers demand cool, neutral, classic color schemes.Consider Comfort FactorsComfy, cozy guests often return to their favorite rooms year after year. They're also more likely to share positive online reviews and provide free advertising via their social media postings.Easy, inexpensive changes include thoughtful touches such as adding USB charging ports along with extra outlets for guests to plug in electronic devices located both on the desk area as well as on end tables next to the bed, so your guests can surf the net in comfort. Replacing traditional coffee pots with Keurig machines and offering an assortment of flavored coffees and teas add smiles to busy mornings.Get picky with fabrics and pillows. Unless you're running a B&B in farm country, patterned quilts and bedspreads scream cheap and tacky. Opt for cuddle-worthy down comforters in solid colors. Providing extra pillows costs little yet makes a huge difference when it comes to preventing guests from waking up with a painful crick in the neck!Design DurablyNothing destroys a hotel manager's best day like having to start to replace furniture and amenities before renovations even conclude. Investing in high-quality furnishings costs more initially but pays dividends in terms of longevity.Consider furnishings such as couches carefully. While fabric couches are prone to tearing, quality leather couches and chairs offer long term durability while adding a luxurious feel to decor. Bureaus and dressers which conceal amenities such as in-room refrigerators likewise add an upscale feel to guest lodgings.Bed bugs have become the bane of the hotel industry. Consider investing in high quality mattress covers intended to halt infestation and keep your guest beds bug free.Don't Overlook Cheap ChicWhile spending extra on durable goods makes economic sense, the artwork you select to decorate your guest rooms need not be pricey Picasso's. Do remove those tacky and bland pictures of boats and ships, but don't break the bank ordering expensive prints. Instead, frequent local art shows to find pieces that capture the flavor of your location for far less than you'd spend buying art online.Other creative ideas include adding a single fake flower in a decorative vase to bring a touch of elegance to guest bathrooms. Sometimes your local dollar store boasts vases, decorative rocks and flowers. Avoid large, fussy arrangements that collect dust, making your guest rooms feel dingy.Keep Guests at the ForefrontAbove all, the hospitality industry revolves around providing a memorable guest experience that keeps folks coming back to your hotel time and again. How do you discover what guests like? Easy -- simply ask them!Provide guest satisfaction surveys and train hotel desk staff to request them from guests upon checkout so that you can gather insight into what guests want while addressing any potential problems prior to your guests' departure. Some hotels have begun utilizing scented cards that sweeten your guests' luggage while reminding them to write Yelp reviews. Other establishments offer discounts on future visits to guests who recommend their establishment on social media.Undergoing a full hotel renovation can seem daunting but reaping the rewards of increased revenue and improved guest satisfaction makes the process worth the time and effort. By planning your renovation wisely, your hotel's reputation will skyrocket, and guests will leave happy and well-rested.

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