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    HITEC DUBAI

    Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference

    December 5–6, 2018
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Article by Jos Schaap

Takeaways from the 2018 Guest Experience Assessment Report: Better Alignment of Tech & Value for Guests

StayNTouch Inc. 6h
The relationship between hospitality and technology is ever-evolving as the demands of the modern guest continue to redefine the industry landscape. With the on-going need for guest personalization and value-driven service, the most successful hotels will be those who allocate more of their budgets for technology that actually aligns with delivering a better guest experience for all types of travelers. This may empower a self-service model for some guests, and high-touch, personalized service for others. To gain a better understanding of current guest assessment trends and technological, guest-centric advancements adopted by industry leaders, StayNTouch, Travel Tripper and TrustYou recently released an extensive study of worldwide hoteliers. The survey provides an overview of key guest experience trends to watch moving forward into 2018 and beyond while highlighting the areas in which some hotels may be lagging behind. Utilizing this information will allow hotels to better adjust their strategy for catering to, and connecting with guests in a way that instills long-term true loyalty, revenue growth and success.Key Findings: - 41.33% of respondents do not offer guests a choice of check-in method, despite this being a popular guest expectation/preference. - Only 30% of respondents felt strongly about their ability and effort to promote upsells and upgrades at check-in, signifying a common trend of missed revenue opportunity. - 74.67% of respondents say that they respond and resolve standard guest requests either quickly or very quickly. - Overwhelmingly, respondents indicated that email and phone were the primary means of communication. This highlights an area for improvement, as in-person interactions are often the ideal environment for establishing more personalized rapport with guests. - 68.46% of respondents recognize that they need to establish or improve their use or adoption of mobile technology. - 48% of respondents acknowledged that they are finding it challenging to capture or utilize guest data to personalize the guest experience. The investment in technology today is much more complicated than it was 20 years ago due to the advancement of our technological world. As we analyze current trends and popular behavioral patterns of the modern guest, it becomes evident that prioritizing the purchase of guest-facing technology should be paramount. After all, sites like Tripadvisor, Yelp, social media channels and more have empowered guests to make their own buying decisions based upon the crowd. Hotels today are in competition for guest loyalty and without the support of guest-centric technology to empower their service offering, empower their employees and ensure guest satisfaction, hotels can expect fall behind the leaders of the pack.[Webinar] How to Adapt Your Hotel's Offerings to Meet Guest's Expectations Give Your Guests the Power of Choice As we've noted before, recent studies show that 70% of guests prefer to use their smartphone to speed up check-in and services, and 67% of travelers are "more likely" to choose a hotel that allows guests to check in and open doors with a smartphone than a hotel that doesn't.To limit your guest to one method of check-in/out is to turn guests away from your hotel entirely in this modern world. Give your guests the power of choice, and ensure they continue to choose your hotel over the competition. Get on Board with Mobile It is more important than ever before to capitalize on the rise of mobile technology and empower guests with the ability to choose their preferred service model (self-service, low touch or high touch). Mobile technology for the hospitality realm includes (but is not limited to) mobile check-in/out, mobile keys, concierge, reservations, alerts, custom hotel apps and more. With 68.46% of respondents to our StayNTouch survey recognizing that they need to establish or improve their use or adoption of mobile technology, this is an ongoing movement that needs to be adopted at a faster pace to keep up with guest demands.Not only does mobile technology appeal to each guests' desire for personalization, but it empowers your staff to serve each guest better the way they truly want to be served. Enhance Your Service Model with the Modern PMSIn the past, PMS systems were never seen -- instead, they were firmly stationed behind the front desk with a server buried in the basement. While these on-premise systems served their purpose, their capacity to truly enhance a hotel's operation and guest engagement were limited in nature. Today's PMS, however, has the capability to do a seemingly unlimited number of things to directly impact guest satisfaction. With mobile-optimized, cloud-based systems that provide comprehensive, actionable insights at a glance to all hotel staff, the modern PMS allows guests to choose how they want to interact with a hotel property while freeing up staff to build relationships with guests one on one.Considering the majority (~52%) of respondents acknowledged that they are finding it challenging to capture or utilize guest data to personalize the guest experience, investing in a modern PMS system should be top of mind. Further to the enhancement of guest engagement, advanced PMS tools will help your staff to better understand and leverage guest data for personalized service. And in terms of capitalizing on revenue opportunity, modern PMS software often offers built-in prompts for upselling and upgrade opportunities.Having these capabilities as an integral part of your operational model by means of an advanced PMS tool is of incredible value to your hotel and should be prioritized accordingly.
Article by Lauren Hall

Groups and Events: Disruption is on the Agenda for Hotels in 2019

iVvy 6h
The emergence and subsequent evolution of transformative, industry-shaping technology cannot happen without some disruption. It's a now-familiar scenario, when we reference the likes of Uber and Airbnb, in which a brave new player comes into the mix to offer a service or product that does things in a way that no one else has (successfully) attempted. Disruptive innovation within industries is often what keeps them alive, bringing forth new ideas and processes that allow companies to continuously cater to modern consumers. The hospitality realm is admittedly notorious for lagging behind other industries in terms of adopting new technology and is, at times, in need of a disruption. This becomes especially apparent as we look to the group and venues segment, specifically. Years previous, the Internet Booking Engine and Online Travel Agencies revolutionized our industry. The process of booking a trip and hotel transitioned from one which was owned primarily by travel agents and uninformed inquiries to one which was independent, convenient and efficient. Booking an upcoming trip was no longer a chore; rather, it was an opportunity to effectively vet viable options online and book a room with the guest's desired attributes (high floor, away from elevator etc.). While this disruption proved to have staying power to become the new industry norm, the group booking segment has failed to catch up... until now. As any hotel sales manager can likely contest, the group and venue segment often represents an under maximized revenue stream -- but why? Is it due to lack of leads? Not at all. In fact, a recent survey (Groupize stat) showed that hotel sales teams are managing an average of 25 leads per day. That's 750 leads per month; 9,000 leads per year. As you can imagine, the problem that exists within this process has nothing to do with the number of leads but rather, the number of qualified leads and the tools available to managers to effectively address those leads. Interested parties are knocking at hotels' doors, but what if staff can't get the door open?In fact, it's well documented that 75% of proposals are being won by the first five properties to respond and 37% of planners cite bad communication as the number one reason they go with another property during the proposal process. Rather than confirming bookings, sales managers are so often stuck in 'process limbo', scrambling to manually sift through and reply to an unrelenting influx of (largely unqualified) leads and RFPs in a timely manner. If it sounds like a somewhat impossible process, that's because it is. Managers are expected to be quick and efficient as they work to identify and convert relevant leads -- a demand which requires online technology that, for a very long time, didn't exist. As a hotelier, you might wonder -- why is this so integral to my revenue stream? We still manage to secure some group bookings, are we really missing out on much? With projections that the event tech market will grow to USD 9.28 billion by 2020, and 300 million room nights attributed to meetings in 2016, it's hard to imagine it's taken this long to streamline the group booking process. 300 room nights amounts to nearly $50 billion in confirmed bookings -- which if you ask me, sounds like 50 billion very compelling reasons to care about the group and events segment. So, what does the future of group and events look like in the eyes of a hotelier and digital-savvy planner? Gone are the days of static "Groups and Meetings" sections on websites with an RFP form. Prospective customers and your staff alike need a more advanced, responsive and ultimately digital solution. After all, we are catering to the age of the online consumer, which means we, too, need to be online. Group planners (whether corporate, or an individual burdened with booking the next 'girls trip') need to access group booking details online -- with rates, live availability, property rules, group communications and all other relevant details displayed through an easy to navigate, online platform. This enables global visibility for hotels, the opportunity for tailored marketing efforts, 3D tours of event space, instant RFPs, online payment and invoicing and live booking management. A process which was previously consumed with communication delays, misinformed inquiries and unqualified RFPs has finally been streamlined for both planners and hotels. Finally, hotels can effectively control rates and publish up-to-date availability online, which empowers sales managers to invest their time in the more pivotal touch points of the guest booking process. This inspires a more efficient, revenue-conscious process as planners are able to access the information they need more quickly than they would via phone or email, and sales teams are freed up from the dreaded RFP flood. With online group booking technology in place, planners are awarded the instant gratification of online booking, with access to all required attributes (audio visual, food, beverage etc.). This in turn, enables managers to focus on the provision of a more personalized, timely booking experience. After all, providing more attention to the details that do require personalized handling leads to extraordinary customer service and a better chance of repeat business. It's about time, don't you think, that group bookings caught up to modern demands? Finally, meeting and event spaces can be booked as seamlessly as a guest booking a room. Disruption is definitely on the agenda for hotels in 2019, and it's headed straight for the groups and events segment. But this isn't just any disruption, this is the long-awaited solution to a problem faced by hoteliers and planners for years. With a responsive online platform in place for the group booking segment, hotels are empowered to succeed and capitalize on a largely untapped revenue stream, whilst better appealing to and connecting with planners around the globe.
Article by Divya Bhat

How effective is a Hotel Reservation System in upselling your Hotel Rooms

Hotelogix 7h
Upselling is a common way for hotels to generate more revenue. Whether you are a small, family-run hotel or a multi-property brand, it is just as efficient an option for every property type. Upselling is when a hotel prompts additional services to guests, such as a session at the spa, a breakfast buffet, etc. But hotels can also upsell rooms (otherwise known as room upgrade) to guests with the same intention as with upselling. Both of them not only help improve guest experience but also contribute to the hotel's revenue. While there are several hotel upselling strategies, in this blogpost we will only discuss ways to upsell hotel rooms with the help of a Hotel Management System.But let's understand how to approach a guest with an upselling suggestion. How to determine which guest will prefer what type of an upsell? The simple trick is to use the guest history feature of your hotel's PMS. A robust PMS will allow you to look up all the details of guests who have stayed with you in the past. When they revisit your property, you could easily upsell a hotel room to them by looking into their preferences listed in the guest history data. Let's say, the guest is a smoker and chose to move to a room with a balcony, the last time he stayed with you. This detail is recorded in the PMS and will come in handy, in case the guest revisits your property in the future!Now let's get back to the topic- How can a Hotel Management System help you upsell rooms? Is a Hotel Reservation System powerful enough to enable hoteliers to upsell rooms? We'll find out very soon but before that we've handpicked a few of the most reliable ways to upsell rooms with a Hotel Management System in place:Restrictions:When we say restrictions, what we mean is that hotels can set restrictions on the minimum bookable nights or minimum bookable rooms. In other words, an online hotel reservation software can help you upsell rooms based on the number of nights a guest intends to stay with you (the length of stay) or based on the number of rooms a group of guests wish to book. An upselling opportunity is presented in such cases.Minimum Bookable Nights:This is a great strategy for hotels to upsell rooms to guests who stay for more than one night. If a guest books a room for 5 nights, then you can upgrade him to a better room for the sixth and seventh night! You could throw in an offer around this and run a promotional campaign too. Everybody likes a freebie or an upgrade, especially when it comes with no strings attached.Minimum Bookable Rooms:The approach is the same as for the above strategy except that in this case the factor that will present is the upselling opportunity is the number of rooms booked. If a group booking comes your way for 10 rooms, you could upgrade them to better rooms for a nominal price. This is a lovely way to delight multiple guests in one shot. And honestly, it wouldn't cost you an arm and a leg, but it could fetch you a dozen of amazing reviews!Hotelogix gives hotels complete flexibility in defining your restrictions based on your hotel's needs and target audience. Your front desk staff will have access to all the restrictions on their dashboard, as these can be pre-defined in the background.Packages :With a Hotel Management System in place, you can not only pre-define as many packages as you want, but also customize them as per need. While designing a package, you will have to keep in mind the season, your target audience, their spending capacity, your hotel's offerings, etc. Taking into consideration of all these factors will help you get closer to your guests' expectation and delight them. You should, ideally, have separate and unique packages for your corporate guests, your leisure guests, your millennial guests, etc. Make them as focused as you can to deliver maximum delight.Now, how can a package help you upsell your room? We'll tell you. Consider a couple who wants to spend their anniversary at your property. The most obvious option is for them to book a room and then add on whatever services they wish to avail, during their stay. The other way of doing things (the clever way) is by offering a couple's package or an anniversary special package to such guests. No, we aren't asking you to offer them added services for no cost and incur losses! What this means is, simply give them the experience that they don't even know they want, and they will pay you.This couple, who earlier knew no better than to simply book a quiet, serene room now has a booking with you for a package that gives them a much better, cozier room, a spa session, a candle-lit dinner (and what have you!) for a tad bit more. It's not that they don't want to spend that much more, it is simply that they weren't aware of all the offerings at your hotel. By designing a package, you encourage guests to not just upgrade rooms but also to give you more non-room revenue, thanks to the services and activities you will include in the packages! So, it isn't simply upgrading rooms, but also an upselling activity overall for your hotel!Long stay discounts:Hotels can also increase chances of upselling, and thereby their revenue, when they offer long stay discounts. When a corporate guest or a leisure traveler makes a reservation that runs into weeks, you could use that to lure them to upgrade rooms. When such a reservation comes in, you could offer them a better option of a room for a nominal extra charge. This could work wonders because long-term guests take comfort more seriously than vacationers. Shelling a few extra bucks wouldn't be as big a deal as living in lesser comfort!Shoulder nightsThis is a very commonly used hotel reservation strategy where hotels don't make their inventory as transparent, in order to lure guests to spend an extra day or two. For example: Let's say a guest wants to make a reservation for a deluxe suite for two nights, a Tuesday and a Wednesday. The hotel front desk realizes that this is a great opportunity for the hotel to upsell, as midweeks are when they get least amount of reservations.So, in order to increase the number of reservations, they implement the shoulder nights strategy. The front desk staff gets in touch with the guest saying they will not be able to honor the booking for that particular room-type for those exact nights, unless the booking included a day or two before or after. The staff would, of course, add that they would offer the additional nights at a lower price than what the guest was to pay originally. The guest, normally, would accept the offer and agree to add an additional night or two as it works out to be a good deal for them too!Room Upgrades :This is the most commonly used strategy to upsell. In this case, the front desk staff or even a social media ad would inform the potential guest that the hotel would upgrade their regular room for a luxury suite (or whatever upgrade the hotel offers) for just a few extra bucks.HOW EFFICIENT IS A HOTEL RESERVATION SYSTEM IN UPSELLING ROOMS?Here's the real deal. The purpose of a Hotel Reservation System is quite self-explanatory. It does not come equipped with all the other features that can support the upselling process. Only a Property Management System can do that. An HRS isn't as feature-loaded, nor as dynamic. You could use the HRS as a dashboard to gather how many rooms are booked, vacant, available, etc. But the nuances that make a hotelier's life easier are only available in a PMS. Think of it this way- A Hotel Reservation System is a subset of a Property Management System.The general myth surrounding small and mid-sized hotels is - that they do not need the advanced features of a cloud-based Property Management System. I would even go to the extent of saying that small and mid-sized hotels need it more than chain hotels. Simply because they need the online visibility more as they lack the luxury of a brand name, the marketing budget and so on. Smaller hotels need a PMS to not only upsell their rooms but also to connect with potential guests online.So how does one go about creating restrictions, designing packages, long stay discounts, etc. for guests on an online hotel reservation system? How can a Property Management System help you upsell your rooms through packages? Almost everything related to upselling can be predefined in the back end which the front desk can access in one click. Customizing restrictions, packages, etc. as per your requirement can bring in immense benefits to you.Hotelogix cloud-based hotel management system helps you out with your reservation-related tasks but it is also capable of so much more than that. From guest management to nurturing guest loyalty, from expanding your sources of bookings to integrations with revenue management systems, business intelligence tools, reputation management, accounting, POS management, etc.- Hotelogix is the PMS your hotel needs.Go ahead and get in touch with us to know just that and more and we'll show you just how simple and effective these upselling features are! Get a free trial of Hotelogix cloud PMS or reach out to us on sales@hotelogix.com and we'll be happy to run you through it all.

9 surefire tips to boost your hotel revenue on Black Friday (or any Holiday)

Hotel Online 24 September 2018
Mark Friday, 23 November 2018 on your calendar and make the most of this chance to boost online revenues for your hotel.
Article by

Let your Hotel Reservation System upsell your hotel rooms for you

Hotelogix 24 September 2018
Upselling is a common way for hotels to generate more revenue. Whether you are a small, family-run hotel or a multi-property brand, it is just as efficient an option for every property type. Upselling is when a hotel prompts additional services to guests, such as a session at the spa, a breakfast buffet, etc. But hotels can also upsell rooms (otherwise known as room upgrade) to guests with the same intention as with upselling. Both of them not only help improve guest experience but also contribute to the hotel's revenue. While there are several hotel upselling strategies, in this blogpost we will only discuss ways to upsell hotel rooms with the help of a Hotel Management System.But let's understand how to approach a guest with an upselling suggestion. How to determine which guest will prefer what type of an upsell? The simple trick is to use the guest history feature of your hotel's PMS. A robust PMS will allow you to look up all the details of guests who have stayed with you in the past. When they revisit your property, you could easily upsell a hotel room to them by looking into their preferences listed in the guest history data. Let's say, the guest is a smoker and chose to move to a room with a balcony, the last time he stayed with you. This detail is recorded in the PMS and will come in handy, in case the guest revisits your property in the future!Now let's get back to the topic- How can a Hotel Management System help you upsell rooms? Is a Hotel Reservation System powerful enough to enable hoteliers to upsell rooms? We'll find out very soon but before that we've handpicked a few of the most reliable ways to upsell rooms with a Hotel Management System in place:Restrictions:When we say restrictions, what we mean is that hotels can set restrictions on the minimum bookable nights or minimum bookable rooms. In other words, an online hotel reservation software can help you upsell rooms based on the number of nights a guest intends to stay with you (the length of stay) or based on the number of rooms a group of guests wish to book. An upselling opportunity is presented in such cases.Minimum Bookable Nights:This is a great strategy for hotels to upsell rooms to guests who stay for more than one night. If a guest books a room for 5 nights, then you can upgrade him to a better room for the sixth and seventh night! You could throw in an offer around this and run a promotional campaign too. Everybody likes a freebie or an upgrade, especially when it comes with no strings attached.Minimum Bookable Rooms:The approach is the same as for the above strategy except that in this case the factor that will present is the upselling opportunity is the number of rooms booked. If a group booking comes your way for 10 rooms, you could upgrade them to better rooms for a nominal price. This is a lovely way to delight multiple guests in one shot. And honestly, it wouldn't cost you an arm and a leg, but it could fetch you a dozen of amazing reviews!Hotelogix gives hotels complete flexibility in defining your restrictions based on your hotel's needs and target audience. Your front desk staff will have access to all the restrictions on their dashboard, as these can be pre-defined in the background.Packages :With a Hotel Management System in place, you can not only pre-define as many packages as you want, but also customize them as per need. While designing a package, you will have to keep in mind the season, your target audience, their spending capacity, your hotel's offerings, etc. Taking into consideration of all these factors will help you get closer to your guests' expectation and delight them. You should, ideally, have separate and unique packages for your corporate guests, your leisure guests, your millennial guests, etc. Make them as focused as you can to deliver maximum delight.Now, how can a package help you upsell your room? We'll tell you. Consider a couple who wants to spend their anniversary at your property. The most obvious option is for them to book a room and then add on whatever services they wish to avail, during their stay. The other way of doing things (the clever way) is by offering a couple's package or an anniversary special package to such guests. No, we aren't asking you to offer them added services for no cost and incur losses! What this means is, simply give them the experience that they don't even know they want, and they will pay you.This couple, who earlier knew no better than to simply book a quiet, serene room now has a booking with you for a package that gives them a much better, cozier room, a spa session, a candle-lit dinner (and what have you!) for a tad bit more. It's not that they don't want to spend that much more, it is simply that they weren't aware of all the offerings at your hotel. By designing a package, you encourage guests to not just upgrade rooms but also to give you more non-room revenue, thanks to the services and activities you will include in the packages! So, it isn't simply upgrading rooms, but also an upselling activity overall for your hotel!Long stay discounts:Hotels can also increase chances of upselling, and thereby their revenue, when they offer long stay discounts. When a corporate guest or a leisure traveler makes a reservation that runs into weeks, you could use that to lure them to upgrade rooms. When such a reservation comes in, you could offer them a better option of a room for a nominal extra charge. This could work wonders because long-term guests take comfort more seriously than vacationers. Shelling a few extra bucks wouldn't be as big a deal as living in lesser comfort!Shoulder nightsThis is a very commonly used hotel reservation strategy where hotels don't make their inventory as transparent, in order to lure guests to spend an extra day or two. For example: Let's say a guest wants to make a reservation for a deluxe suite for two nights, a Tuesday and a Wednesday. The hotel front desk realizes that this is a great opportunity for the hotel to upsell, as midweeks are when they get least amount of reservations.So, in order to increase the number of reservations, they implement the shoulder nights strategy. The front desk staff gets in touch with the guest saying they will not be able to honor the booking for that particular room-type for those exact nights, unless the booking included a day or two before or after. The staff would, of course, add that they would offer the additional nights at a lower price than what the guest was to pay originally. The guest, normally, would accept the offer and agree to add an additional night or two as it works out to be a good deal for them too!Room Upgrades :This is the most commonly used strategy to upsell. In this case, the front desk staff or even a social media ad would inform the potential guest that the hotel would upgrade their regular room for a luxury suite (or whatever upgrade the hotel offers) for just a few extra bucks.HOW EFFICIENT IS A HOTEL RESERVATION SYSTEM IN UPSELLING ROOMS?Here's the real deal. The purpose of a Hotel Reservation System is quite self-explanatory. It does not come equipped with all the other features that can support the upselling process. Only a Property Management System can do that. An HRS isn't as feature-loaded, nor as dynamic. You could use the HRS as a dashboard to gather how many rooms are booked, vacant, available, etc. But the nuances that make a hotelier's life easier are only available in a PMS. Think of it this way- A Hotel Reservation System is a subset of a Property Management System.The general myth surrounding small and mid-sized hotels is - that they do not need the advanced features of a cloud-based Property Management System. I would even go to the extent of saying that small and mid-sized hotels need it more than chain hotels. Simply because they need the online visibility more as they lack the luxury of a brand name, the marketing budget and so on. Smaller hotels need a PMS to not only upsell their rooms but also to connect with potential guests online.So how does one go about creating restrictions, designing packages, long stay discounts, etc. for guests on an online hotel reservation system? How can a Property Management System help you upsell your rooms through packages? Almost everything related to upselling can be predefined in the back end which the front desk can access in one click. Customizing restrictions, packages, etc. as per your requirement can bring in immense benefits to you.Hotelogix cloud-based hotel management system helps you out with your reservation-related tasks but it is also capable of so much more than that. From guest management to nurturing guest loyalty, from expanding your sources of bookings to integrations with revenue management systems, business intelligence tools, reputation management, accounting, POS management, etc.- Hotelogix is the PMS your hotel needs.Go ahead and get in touch with us to know just that and more and we'll show you just how simple and effective these upselling features are! Get a free trial of Hotelogix cloud PMS or reach out to us on sales@hotelogix.com and we'll be happy to run you through it all.

How Marketers Can Be Strategic Influencers, and Why Their Input Is Key for Companies [Infographic]

MarketingProfs·Requires Registration 24 September 2018
"Marketing's strategic input is essential for companies looking to succeed in today's continually transforming business environment," according to an infographic created by Vya, a simplified marketing systems provider.

Honeywell Launches INNCOM Spectre Energy Control

green lodging news | By Glenn Hasek 24 September 2018
Honeywell, a global leader in connected hospitality, announces its new INNCOM Spectre Energy Control, an easy-to-install, efficient lighting and power management system that fulfills California Title 24 requirements. Spectre extends occupancy detection to guestroom lights and outlets to conserve energy while also offering welcoming lights when a guest enters the room. Spectre from Honeywell integrates with its e-Series thermostats to combine lighting and power management in retrofit and new build projects. Spectre will be available for installation in September 2018.

Diversity must be main course, industry leader says

National Restaurant Association (NRA) 21 September 2018
In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, we asked Gerry Fernandez, president and CEO of the MultiCultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance to talk about the influence of the Latino community on the restaurant industry.

Voice automation is becoming part of guest experience

hotelnewsnow.com Featured Articles 21 September 2018
Smart speakers are poised to become an integral part of the hotel industry, and are likely to have a major impact on how guests shop and book hotels.
Article by Thomas Mielke

Hospitality & Technology - Innovation is Being Stifled By Lack Of Leadership

AETHOS Consulting Group 21 September 2018
Technology-enabled interaction has become a "must," not a "nice to have," and guests expect to be engaged and recognized at an ever more personalized level--it is no longer just a marketing gimmick. However, sitting down for a conversation with Klaus Kohlmayr, chief evangelist at IDeaS Revenue Solutions, he confirmed that the sector is playing catch-up. We agreed, gutsy leadership is needed to bring the technology departments at hotel organizations worldwide into the 21st century. More importantly, we agreed that the root of the problem lies in out-of-date software, systems and infrastructure. Too many hotel operators are running on archaic platforms and trying to compete with a horse-drawn carriage in a Formula 1 race.Dealing with Legacy Systems: Leadership Is Asked to Take Responsibility"Technology innovation has never really been the strength, or focus, of the hotel industry," said Kohlmayr. Most of us have probably never thought about it, but the fact of the matter is the majority of branded properties run on reservation systems with core architecture that is over half a century old. Kohlmayr challenges the industry for only paying lip service to technological innovation and said, "Artificial Intelligence, natural-language processing and blockchain make for good marketing copy, but ultimately, most hotels cannot even properly identify and service their most loyal guests walking into their property." In fact, a recent study by industry startup hospitalityPulse found that only five percent of guests actually end up in the room type they booked.Old and out-of-date technology platforms hinder and slow down the progress of an organization and can reduce its competitiveness. "Widespread adoption of true cloud-based platforms is, for example, far from being best practice," said Kohlmayr. It seems almost inevitable that hotel companies reach sooner rather than later a point of no return where "legacy systems" are crippling organizations with only one way out--to cut one's losses and rebuild from scratch. To get ahead of the game, it is about time that senior company leadership makes some tough decisions.Like in many situations, though, it is easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day needs of an operating business. We therefore brainstormed what advice we could give executives who want to drive change and innovation -- this boils down to:Avoid complacency at a departmental level, whilst ensuring the right people are put in charge who understand a consumer-centric technology strategy. "I remember a conversation with a senior executive of a global hotel operator," said Kohlmayr. "The company was about to embark on a refresh of its 40-year-old (!) central-reservation platform, and I questioned the wisdom of spending millions on putting lipstick on a pig." The answer Kohlmayr received was shocking, albeit indicative of the industry's lack of appetite to drive innovation. "Uptime is 99.9 percent, and we have a large volume of transactions this platform handles well, so why replace it?" questioned the hotel executive.Increase awareness at an ownership-level. "Even though institutional investment, especially in the US, has accelerated, let's not forget that most hotels around the world remain owner-operated--and many are either family businesses or small private groups owning a handful of units," said Kohlmayr. Mostly, when deciding where to spend the hard-earned capital, technology comes last. It is understandable that the perceived need for a sophisticated system, built on the latest technology architecture and with all the bells and whistles, is low when the system bought many years ago does the trick. Yet, a mentality which says it is "good enough" is not going to convince clientele which has become much more demanding and accustomed to technology infiltrating every aspect of their lives.Take advantage of new, modular technology architecture. Technology has evolved to a point where it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to replace a system. Companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft, with their respective clouds, the advent of APIs, which make it easy for systems to communicate with each other, and modular designs around microservices make it increasingly affordable to replace outdated technology. These new, open-minded, next-generation software-as-a-service providers allow a hotel to pick and choose the right "services" fit for their needs and budget and keep disruption to the business during implementation at a minimum.Kohlmayr and I concurred that tactical managers focused on short-term fixes are far too often in the driver's seat, frequently forgetting about, or completely ignoring, the changing needs of tomorrow's consumers. "Yes, some very old systems and platforms still work to this day and they are good at handling large volumes of transactions," said Kohlmayr. "But they are inflexible, extremely hard to integrate and there are not many people around anymore who know how to maintain them."It is easy for senior leadership to pass the buck for driving technological change to their managers. Yet, by doing so, many are unwillingly stifling innovation. But progress is difficult to stop, and rising customer expectations, fostered by the mobile revolution, together with online travel agencies spending billions on engaging and connecting with consumers, are sure enough exerting extra pressure on the industry to innovate. Those organizations and leaders willing take the plunge, deciding to strip out their old systems to put in something new, will quickly come to recognize that "it does the job" is not the same as "it is fit for purpose"--the former is a statement of a complacent leader, the latter that of a forward-thinking senior executive who understands that technology should be tailored to an organization's strategies and goals.On that closing remark, it may be worthwhile to draw the attention to what innovative hotel company Yotel has recently announced. Appreciating that, to stay ahead of the game, external help might sometimes be needed, its CEO Hubert Viriot was quoted commenting on the brand's collaboration with a technology start-up incubator, "[...] our business is to manage hotels, not to spend the entire time figuring out new technology. We put innovation at the core, but to be effective, we wanted a partnership with someone that does this as a business" (see full article here). Since new ideas constantly pop-up, across all divisions of a hotel company, Viriot highlighted the benefit of having an external expert telling you what you might not know. Ultimately, though, and in line with what AETHOS discussed with Kohlmayr, he agreed that success depends upon the senior management team's involvement - and for the C-suite to acknowledge this responsibly.
Article by Ian Chinn

Basic, Better, Best: Low Season Revenue Strategies

IDeaS 20 September 2018
The longer-term ramifications of rate reductions to boost business in times of lower demand are far reaching. Not only does this impact brand perception but it also impacts product value perceptions and future pricing scopes when the market is in recovery. The overuse of incentives to attract guests can reduce the revenue coming into a venue and turn away higher-paying customers who are attracted to a hotel for its reputation or prestige.Given the seasonal operating environment many properties face, how should a hotel's revenue, sales and marketing teams work together to maximise revenue through any low season? Below we identify three possible approaches; a basic, better and best practice way to approach periods of lower demand.The basic approach: At a basic level, preparing for a hotel's low season would involve analysing booking patterns over previous years for the same period to identify trends and incorporating them to the property's demand forecast for the upcoming low season. Once any patterns amongst booking segments have been identified, incentivised hotel promotions would be designed and distributed to try and attract guests to the property. As mentioned previously though, this approach may impact overall value perceptions and is not ideal longer-term for hotels looking to capture higher-quality revenue.The better approach: A better way to maximise revenue through a hotel's low season is to move beyond applying blanket discounts, or incentives, to attract bookings. Rather, hotels should identify specific market segments that are falling behind forecast and design market segment specific promotions to address any short-fall. Monitoring and adjusting the promotion channel, spend and incentive are also critical to the success of any low season offer, and hotels should look to adjust any underperforming campaigns accordingly.When faced with softer booking periods, hotels need to be smarter about how they price themselves and what incentives they are using, or giving away, to attract business. Overuse of general incentives to attract guests can reduce the revenue coming into a property in the long run.This isn't to say that incentive offers aren't important to attracting guests in periods of lower demand. They are, but they need to be tailored and mindful of each booking segment's motivations. Hoteliers should be asking themselves questions like: "Why should I provide an upgrade to the executive or concierge floor, is this customer less price sensitive and will book the premium room type no matter what because they are travelling on business?"The best practice approach:The best way for a hotel to address low season weaker demand is to ensure they have a good understanding of their historical performance both same time last year and more recently. Once they have that they can easily compare and validate their current demand forecast against those benchmarks to better understand the exact position they are in and what they need to produce to achieve their business goals. Revenue managers should also align with a hotel's marketing department to develop and adjust promotions in relation to the available channel, resources and marketing budget. If you truly want to steal the limited demand available in the market; a marketing plan to put the offer in front of the guest is just as important as the curated offer itself.When it comes to incentives, specificity is key. What motivates one group of potential guests to book can be completely different to the next. Hotels need to design specific promotions for each channel or geographical region, taking booking lead time into account. For example, a hotel might consider enacting a GDS promotion to attract corporate individual travellers, or a digital marketing campaign to attract direct booking to the brand website and the components of those offers should vary based on the audience's needs. For any low season promotion a hotel runs, revenue targets should be established and benchmarked against. Hotels should continue to monitor booking pace and occupancy forecast, adjusting the promotion and marketing allocations while they are still in play to ensure maximum success.When any low season promotions have run their course, hotels must conduct an intensive evaluation process of each campaign to assess the ROI of marketing spend. A record of all promotion schemes and production should also be kept to assist with next year's low period activities.Periods of low demand also present hoteliers with the opportunity to fence cautiously. By creating new products that increase business during low seasons, hotels can drive demand from a new sector. The advantage of offering a range of fenced products is that market segments that find these offerings meaningful will begin gravitating toward purchasing new products. This produces previously untapped business - and the possibility of further untapped business. Fencing successfully will enhance revenues and capture existing demand based on the occupancy levels and business patterns.Outside of activities aimed at attracting bookings, in times of lower demand, hotels should also focus their attention on ways to better manage their costs. When applied to its fullest potential, revenue management technology can also positively impact efficiency and improve operational performance across an entire property, even in quieter operating periods. Advanced forecasting models or systems provide powerful insights into business demand, which assists with project planning and staffing. For example, if a hotel can accurately anticipate lower levels of guest occupancy, it can ensure that the property is not overstaffed and carrying unnecessary wage costs in this lower revenue phase. This same principle can be translated throughout the hotel's entire operation for better overall maintenance, staffing and inventory levels. The optimised wage costs translate into financial savings and directly benefits the hotel's bottom line.If a sustained period of low demand impacts a specific geographic market, hotels can face not only issues from discounting rival properties desperate for guests; but also pressure from contracted distribution partners (such as wholesalers) after better deals on their contracts. For example, a wholesaler might ask for more access to a hotel's inventory, push for increased value adds, decrease materialisation commitments or allotment release periods. Under such a scenario, hotels should consider awarding additional incentives by room type rather than at the hotel level. It is not just the price on the contract, but the terms of the contract, that are also important. Hotels should ensure that their distributor contracts allow for re-evaluation of the price and contract terms at regular intervals throughout the contract term based on usage, as well as materialisation.Incentivise smarter, attract better business Hotels approaching a low season, or experiencing softer booking conditions, need to be smarter about how they price themselves, what incentives they are using, and what they are giving away to attract business. Overuse of incentives to attract guests can actually reduce the revenue coming into a particular venue and attract poorly rated business to a property. It is those hotels that monitor previous years' booking patterns, build accurate demand forecasts and develop specific campaigns for specific audiences that are best positioned to succeed in a time of low demand.

How Do You Explain These NYC Room Rates Metrics?

Hotel Interactive 20 September 2018
Like most every other role at a hotel, being an owner or investor has never been easy. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in New York City where exorbitant construction costs mixed with steadily increasing wage rates, maintenance and depreciation can make the break-even point higher than practically any other locale on the continent. Thank goodness this is reflected in the average daily rates.

Budgets, Channels, and Technologies: Stats About Marketing Today [Infographic]

MarketingProfs·Requires Registration 20 September 2018
The marketing landscape is varied and evolving, and there's a lot for marketers to keep up with. This infographic by NCC Home Learning offers statistics about customer preferences, marketing best-practices, marketing budgets, and more—all in one place.

ChargePoint Commits to 2.5 Million EV Charging Spots by 2025

green lodging news | By Glenn Hasek 20 September 2018
At the Global Climate Action Summit, ChargePoint, the world’s leading electric vehicle (EV) charging network, announced a global commitment of 2.5 million EV charging spots by 2025, laying the groundwork for a future fueling network that will support the significant global increase in electrified mobility in the years to come. ChargePoint’s commitment will allow drivers to avoid nearly two million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Summit’s mission to inspire climate action.
Article by Margaret Mastrogiacomo

The Top 5 Things You Need to Know Now in Hotel Digital Marketing: September Edition

HEBS Digital 20 September 2018
1. SEO: The Google search algorithm update on August 1 is now officially rolled out. Overall, the search engine update is considered a broad core algorithm update, so there are no specific optimizations that the SEO community should be focused on. However, now more than ever, marketers should ensure that the website offers a great user experience, rich content, and is valuable and relevant to website visitors. While some sections of the website might drop in ranking, other website content may rise in the rankings and become more favored by the search engines. The arts and entertainment, auto and vehicle, beauty and wellness, finance, and health industries saw the largest impact from this algorithm update, while the travel vertical remains the least affected industry.2. SEM: Google Ads introduces ad strength indicator for responsive search ads. Google has stressed ad diversity as an AdWords best practice for quite some time now. Google claims that the more ad variations an ad group contains, the more impressions and engagement the ad group will achieve. In light of this, a new ad strength meter will measure the relevancy, quantity, and diversity of ad copy for responsive search ads. The meter ranges from "poor" to "excellent" and provides actionable insights for optimizing ad groups for best performance. Google is also introducing reporting for responsive text ads so marketers can gauge the performance of these changes and learn from their optimizations. For hotel marketers, this will help further boost performance of responsive text ads and provide more tools to understand what is working for the hotel brand in search results.3. Display: Go beyond organic marketing with user-generated content. User-generated content is commonplace in social media marketing. However, a new trend in display advertising is turning user-generated content into paid marketing gold. It's no secret that customers are the best brand advocates, and that consumer trust in paid advertising is on the decline. Bearing this in mind, why not take authentic content from your hotel's best brand advocates and get permission to promote this content across channels? This strategy was highly effective for Coca-Cola with their "Share a Coke" campaign, and with so many postcard-ready vacation shots being shared on Instagram every day, this could be the perfect way to showcase a getaway at your hotel through the eyes of a guest.4. Social: Facebook opens up new video ad format to more advertisers. Ad Breaks, a new Facebook in-stream ad unit, will allow advertisers to include a 15-second pre-roll and mid-roll ad unit throughout video on Facebook in addition to image ads displayed just below the video. Pages within the US, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia with more than 10k followers that were able to generate more than 30k video views in the last 2 months are eligible. This new feature is great for hotel brands with a strong Facebook following and video content. Include special offer and package promotions throughout hotel and destination video or promote a multichannel campaign throughout rich video content.5. Design: Actions speak louder than words with animated typography. A design trend that is gaining even more traction as we move into 2019 is animated typography. Bold typography that takes up major real estate on a page has been a trend for quite some time, and now with interesting and engaging animation, it's making an even stronger impression on website visitors. Animated typography is perfect for highlighting emotive copy and taglines throughout your hotel website and draw a visitor's attention to key selling points of the hotel.

What could you create if nothing were impossible?

The Analytic Hospitality Executive | SAS 19 September 2018
Referred to as the instigator of innovation, Mick Ebeling works to expand the human possibilities of technology through his company, Not Impossible Labs, whose mission is to change the world through technology and story.

Independent Hotel Show Partner: Meet Mirko CEO @ Travel Appeal

Hotelhero Blog 19 September 2018
We are celebrating our UK Entry at The Independent Hotel Show in London this 16 & 17th of October. To celebrate this we are joining forces with 6 of our amazing partners and hosting the most exciting hotel technology stand at the show.

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball during a Crisis

4hoteliers.com 19 September 2018
Crisis management mistakes can cost you: In this guest post Tim Scerba, multinational reputation and crisis management expert, explains a deceptively simple problems that impacts crisis teams around the world.
Article by Trevor Lynn

Why Hotels Need to Rethink Lead Strategies or Lose the Group Business Game

Social Tables 17 September 2018
Meetings are getting bigger -- 22.7% bigger, to be exact. With every four people at a meeting having been joined by a fifth new peer, that's quite the spike in yearly meeting attendees since just 2009.Knowing this, one might be quick to expect similar growth in the number of meetings. The numbers tell a different story.Since 2009, the number of total meetings has grown only 5.4%. Attendees are outgrowing total meetings four to one, and of those meetings, only 4% require over 500 room nights -- but make up 39% of the entirety of group revenue in the hotel industry.The point? The lead pool isn't growing, the big fish are few, and it's more vital than ever for hotels not only to attract the best possible leads, but to identify them quickly and maximize the revenue from each.It all starts by optimizing RFP management strategies.The industry's drowning in a sea of RFPs."Now once we know what a meeting wants to achieve, we can easily send it to 10 or 20 hotels."This quote from Betsy Bondurant during a panel at IMEX 2017 effectively sums up one of the biggest changes in the world of venue sourcing in recent years: It's easier than ever to submit RFPs when a single click can send requests to multiple properties. It's a large part of the reason that the industry has seen a 300% increase in RFPs in just a five year period (Cendyn).As a result, hotels are floating in a sea of RFPs, and sales teams are scrambling to identify the most lucrative opportunities and respond faster than the competition. With over 75% of proposals being won by the first five properties to respond, that type of speed isn't just an advantage, it's an imperative.Speed is your key to swim (here's how).Luckily, in the same way that our digital world has catalyzed the RFP process, huge innovations in RFP management technology are enabling teams to qualify their leads and respond more quickly than ever. How much quicker? RFP response times have dropped from 2+ weeks to within the first 24 hours -- which is becoming the brand standard for many hotels.Responding to RFPs faster than the competition doesn't just have the advantage of visibility, it's also important for building relationships with planners. And with meeting growth stagnant in terms of quantity, those relationships are the key to repeat business, which may in turn be the key for success.By responding first, you communicate the notion that a planner's event is desirable to your property. Essentially, it's one of the strongest ways to relay that a hotel cares about a planner's business. In the client's eyes, faster response times correlate to better communication throughout the process. This is especially important for the 37% of event planners who say bad communication is the number one reason they choose another property.At the end of the day, first impressions can be just about everything for business. Wait too long, and that opportunity goes out the window.It's time to let technology handle the lead scoring.Taming the RFP rodeo is a multi-pronged solution that couples the right technology with the right internal processes. A pile of RFPs doesn't convert into opportunities without putting a smart lead scoring system in place.Sure, technology can score leads automatically as they role in, but when it comes to today's solutions, that scoring is only as good as the parameters identified by in-house teams. Once the right scoring guidelines are in place, it opens up the opportunity for teams to switch their focus from lead scoring to outreach and relationship-building -- exactly where sales talents should be applied.As RFP software evolves moving into the future, these CRMs will begin to make intelligent suggestions sans input, proactively scoring leads and alleviating sales professionals from prospecting blindly.Ditch the room block bias.Last month, I was at STR's Hotel Data Conference, where amongst a multitude of data points, a few key takeaways stood out for the world of group business. The bad news: Group occupancy rates are dropping (no surprise with Airbnb effect) along with the number of days per event. The good news: Meeting quality is high and planners are spending more on F&B.That news is problematic in an industry where the room block bias still prevails. According to an HSMAI survey, a majority of revenue managers (52%) and sales teams (36%) identify RevPAR index or room revenue as primary indicators of performance. With dropping group occupancy, the bias leads sales reps to potentially disregard other opportunities for high-margin revenue outside of the room block.In fact, last year alone, the industry generated $110 billion in ancillary spend (F&B, AV, etc.) for $30 billion in group revenue. When the ratio of ancillary spend to group revenue is almost four to one, snubbing proposals without room blocks becomes a potential danger to success.Especially when, thanks to service optimization software, hotels can easily increase F&B profit margins across the board. That's in addition to already favorable F&B margins, which increased from 24.9% to 29.5% between 2010 and 2016 alone.Transient business takes a potential hit too. Deprioritizing blockless proposals disregards the higher rates of transient bookings. Hotels should think about that potential revenue chopped off the top, especially for properties where transient demand is high. By using a transient displacement model, sales teams can quantify the potential loss and determine how to move forward.Time for a new approach?Technology created the influx of RFPs -- now it's the industry's best bet for adapting to a new world of rapidly increasing requests. In a time when landing leads is more important than ever, properties can't afford to lose out on a potential edge. In that light, an RFP management platform like Social Tables' Event Sales Solution might be the difference maker in meeting your revenue goals for the year ahead.Looking to optimize group revenue moving into 2019? Download the 2019 Group Sales Playbook for 30 pages of stats, insights, and tactics for your sales strategy.

UK business rates need change to provide more fairness

hotelnewsnow.com Featured Articles 17 September 2018
The United Kingdom’s entire hospitality industry is suffering, and changing business rates is the first line of attack in order to reverse worrying trends.

Bartco Expands LED Luminaire Series for Wet Applications

green lodging news | By Glenn Hasek 17 September 2018
Bartco Lighting, a leading innovator in lighting manufacturing, introduces the Fathom Series, which includes eight clean, sleek, contemporary low-profile, remote- and integral-driven, linear LED luminaires that perform in wet outdoor locations.

What Is RFM? Top 5 Ways to Elevate Your Digital Strategy & Increase Direct Bookings

Hotel F&B 17 September 2018
The digital landscape is constantly evolving. Hotel digital marketers continue to seek more effective and cost-efficient ways to reach the right audience, at the right place, and at the right time. But do hotel marketers truly know the value of each and every guest and, more importantly, do they understand what motivates guests to choose their hotel, then choose to stay again?

Hotel Food Waste is Your Business

Hotel Business Review by hotelexecutive.com 17 September 2018
When hotels adopted Energy Star technologies and implemented 'Hang Your Towel' water stewardship campaigns, they saw benefits beyond achieving environmental targets. These efforts yielded a return on investment by improving efficiency. Today, hotels are presented with a new opportunity for efficiency – food efficiency – with the potential for financial, social, and environmental benefits that far outweigh implementation costs.
Article by Lina Zhong and Rohit Verma

Robots: Hotel customers like them (mostly)!

Cornell 14 September 2018
Because the possibilities for robot applications have not been lost on the hospitality and service industries, we conducted an exploratory study of robot use among hotels in China, including the functions robots handle and whether guests are pleased with the robots' assistance. As we explain here, the results are a bit mixed, but on balance the hotel guests we surveyed were satisfied with the robots' service.During calendar year 2017, we conducted a survey involving robot applications in 88 hotels, comprising 789 rooms (or robots) in 23 cities in China. Our data included well over 745,000 requests (or commands). The most common requests are (in descending order) turn the room (power) on all night, turn off the TV, turn the entire room off, and open the curtain. Closing the curtains and window screens for sleep were also high on the list, along with playing music. Looking at the list, this appears to be functions that you'd find when a guest is returning to a room for a moment in the afternoon or turning in for the evening. Indeed, we found peaks in the number of commands in the mid-afternoon, around 15:00, and at night, between 21:00 and 23:00. Morning is also represented, but it's further down on the frequency list, with guests requesting that the curtains open, the TV turn on, and lights go on.To get an initial indication of guest satisfaction with robots or artificial intelligence, we surveyed 94 guests in six hotels (including metro and airport), comprising 188 rooms (or robots). Our sample was split about evenly between men and women, and it skewed toward young travelers, with almost two-thirds being between 18 and 30. We found that these guests have high expectations for robots, including better living experiences, more convenient and customized services, and more interesting experiences. They also believe that staying in a "robot hotel" will be a cost-effective choice (although we also learned that guests are not so interested in paying a higher tariff to stay in a robot-supported room). Looking ahead, the respondents expected robots to handle numerous specific functions, notably, delivering food and goods, checking in and out of the room, and offering travel information and recommendations.The travelers' reported satisfaction levels were high. They found the robots to be responsive and gave high marks to the overall robot room experience, including making the stay more interesting, convenient, and customized. They also liked the idea that the robot would chat with them. One concern stated by some guests involved privacy, since robots have cameras installed.So, how did the robots do? Not perfect, but not terrible. Guests were reasonably satisfied with the robots' performance in turning the lights on and off, turning on the TV, and playing music. Satisfaction was less unanimous regarding the robots' response in changing channels, moving on to the next song in a mix, or pulling back the curtain. Part of the problem here appears to be a malfunction, such as when the robot stops working correctly or isn't able to follow an instruction. That said, virtually all guests rated their overall satisfaction with the robot room at four or five on a five-point scale. Moreover, almost everyone would stay again in the robot room, but (as we said) they were less interested in paying a ten-percent higher rate for that stay. As a side note, we found that--having experienced the robot room--nearly half of the respondents were open to the idea of purchasing their own robot-supported devices, and most of the rest were at least on the fence. Only a small group nixed the possibility of their own robot assistant.In terms of guest acceptance of robot rooms, one research question that arises from this initial study involves which guests will welcome robots in their rooms and which are not interested. To address this issue, we propose to develop and test a "Technology Acceptance Model" for hotel guests. We expect the following constructs will contribute to technology acceptance: perceived adaptability (of the robot); anxiety regarding, familiarity with, and use of technology; perceived cost (of the room); social influence and presence; perceived usefulness, ease of use, and enjoyment of a robot; attitude toward robots; and intention to use the robot.Managers were measured in their reactions to having their new robot "employees." When we asked the management of 16 hotels to estimate the return on investment, their response was everywhere from zero to over 400 percent. With such a range, our suspicion is that it might be difficult to measure the actual return on this technology, and it may also be that different hotels have installed different types of robots, with various price tags. We found, for instance, that the average payback period for hotels in Hangzhong was two years, while Nanjing properties reported a payback period of barely two months. Hotels in Shanghai, Suzhou, and Xi'an fell between these two extremes, but these payback periods generally involved only a matter of months.To go a bit deeper, we interviewed some of the hotel managers. We found that they viewed robot installation as something of a publicity stunt to attract guests, most of whom don't select a hotel because it has robots (and, again, don't want to pay extra for a robot room). The managers didn't see improved profit margins from robot rooms, but they also didn't see added complications from managing the robots, other than the occasional problem with the robots failing to complete a command (and thus incurring guest complaints). In the robots' favor, the managers observed that children staying at the hotel enjoyed interacting with the robots, although older guests didn't show much interest one way or the other.Hotel stakeholders were somewhat fatalistic about the trend toward robot rooms in their properties. On the one hand, they expect to continue installing robots in more rooms, with the belief that they bring benefits to the guests. On the other hand, the stakeholders were not specifically calculating the benefits from the robots, and they couldn't say whether the robots were boosting profits. In any event, the hotel stakeholders were convinced that artificial intelligence was a growing trend for future development.
Article by Jason Q. Freed

Is RMS Technology Actually Holding Hotels Back?

Duetto 14 September 2018
An overwhelming theme in 2018 is that hotel pricing power seems to be a thing of the past. More people are traveling and staying in hotels than ever before, but hotel operators are facing shrinking profitability margins because rates and revenue are not growing at the same clip as costs, such as labor, marketing and distribution.Ask why hotels can't drive ADR, and you'll get blame pointed in several directions, from online price transparency, increased hotel supply and new competition from home-sharing services like Airbnb. But in hallways and breakout rooms this year, I heard a new challenge: technology systems that rely too heavily on competitor rate-shopping and thus recommend severe discounting as day-of-arrival approaches.After some candid conversations, it's evident that some revenue managers and revenue management systems are relying too heavily on competitor prices and rate-shopping tools to make pricing decisions.Honestly, this caught me off guard. How could systems meant to aggregate and analyze data, build an accurate forecast and make profit-driven pricing decisions be in fact suppressing ADR growth?So, I came back with honest questions for Duetto's product team. And it turns out the answer is two-fold: mistakes are being made on both the strategy and the technology fronts.Here's what I already knew: rate shops and competitor pricing data is meant to be a guide and a measurement, not a "demand signal" or the sole data set off which hotels are making pricing decisions. Below, I'll highlight some new strategies and data sets to help hotels make better pricing decisions and ways revenue teams can break themselves from the competitor-driven pricing mold.I also knew that discounting rate to boost occupancy as day-of-arrival approaches is a bad strategy because it sends your competitors into a tailspin and more-importantly trains your customers to either wait to book or cancel and rebook when price inevitably drops.What I was more curious about though, was the accusations that revenue management systems are recommending heavy discounts, and it turns out that is partially true. Some hotels with a one-way integration to a lightweight RMS are in fact weighing rate-shops too heavily and thus overreacting to competitor price drops. Other revenue management systems use a legacy theory called "zero-bid" to shape their algorithms, meaning when demand is not there, the value of the next room to sell is zero. More on that after the strategy discussion.New Strategies to Move Beyond Competitor PricingOn a panel at the Hotel Data Conference, Ash Kapur, SVP of hotel asset management and CRO for Starwood Capital Group, said even with a revenue management system, the biggest challenge for any hotel is dealing with a foolish revenue manager in the comp set. We've all heard similar refrains from hoteliers about only being as good as their dumbest competitor on the street corner.Kapur said a core issue is that hoteliers are looking at market trends and competitor rates before simply evaluating how many rooms they have left to sell."People are starting to price based on these rate shopping tools. No!" he said. "We set the rate. Then we will push it to all channels: hotel website, call center, OTAs. If managed correctly, if you understand the demand channels and your customer needs, then you are able to push higher rates even through the OTAs."Competitive rates are one piece of the pricing puzzle, but many hotels are paying too much attention to their competitors. Whether it is done manually or with an automated system, any strategy relying on competitive rates and competitor data as the primary mechanisms for pricing is flawed, argues Michael McCartan, Managing Director of Duetto."Each hotel has unique demand every day based on its geography, branding, amenities, group business, corporate contracts, online reviews and more. A good forecast considers competitive data, but also other local factors like events, flight arrival information and even web shopping data to more accurately understand overall demand," McCartan writes here. "If you or your revenue management system are primarily focusing on competitor pricing and someone across the street cuts rate for little or no reason, and others follow, it could and probably will lead to a race to the bottom for everyone."It seems as if the No. 1 thing hotel revenue teams can do to drive rate is to stop pricing based on their competitors. Instead, look to the market as an indicator, not a decision-driver, and consider new metrics like GOPPAR and GOPPOR as key performance measurements.What Does Rate-Shopping Technology Actually Tell You?Until recently, it was common practice for hotel revenue teams to call neighboring hotels daily and ask their current rate. Understanding the importance of this data, new technologies were developed to help hotels move beyond manual, static rate shops and provide them with live visibility into competitor rate changes and updates.This insight can be key for hoteliers to ensure rate parity across channels, including brand.com, OTA, wholesalers, etc.But even rate-shop providers understand that room rates should not be set on competitor data alone, and thus provide their data to larger platforms that ingest and analyze additional data sets. Pricing driven by competitor rates as the main indicator sets hotels up for failure. For this reason, lightweight pricing tools without a two-way connection to the hotel PMS for availability and other in-house data sets are fading out of fashion.It's one reason Booking.com shut down its in-house revenue management solution; the necessary integrations were just too complex and costly to build.At Duetto, the pricing application was built to put a much greater focus on finding a price that will make hotels the most money rather than on estimating demand as a means to that end. Rate shops do not influence the pricing algorithm unless a user wants to set up rules where they always sit at a certain position above or below a competitor, and even this strategy is vetted through a complex conversation before implemented.Instead, Duetto prices more holistically by using multiple Demand Signals, relying on price, web shopping data, and other third-party data as the cornerstones. Merging real-time signals with a hotel's historical data provides a better guide.In fact, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Marco Benvenuti told me that when he co-founded Duetto and was working with engineers to develop the algorithm, he made sure to buck legacy revenue management trends that were suppressing pricing power."The very first thing that I wanted to do was not to rely on what we call the bid-price approach to pricing. The bid price basically tells you: If I had an extra room in my hotel, what would be the value of that extra room, and traditional legacy revenue management systems base their algorithm on this," he said. "The weakness of that approach, in the modern world with complex distribution, is that [hotel rates] can go very low very quickly if you're not forecasting a sellout. So, if for whatever reason your forecast 90 days out was to approach a sellout, but something derailed that forecast, the bid price reverts to zero."Obviously starting the value of the next available room at $0 is not going to help hotels push pricing power.So, while there are plenty of events and trends that hold back hotel revenue teams from pushing rates, your RMS should not be one of them. If you're dropping rate as day of arrival approaches or relying too much on last-minute discount channels like Hotwire and HotelTonight, challenge your team to identify the causes and revise a strategy to break out of this mold. Proper pricing strategies will help the hospitality industry as a whole fend off disruptors and ensure profitability and longevity.RELATED HOTEL REVENUE STRATEGY ARTICLESExperimenting With Price Elasticity and the Fallacy of the $0 Bid PriceStop Calling it Unconstrained DemandHotel Ecommerce Could Get a Boost from Data and Analytics

Approaching The Tech Buffet Without Getting Sick

Hotel F&B 14 September 2018
How to build a tech stack based on what your guests need (instead of just what’s available); Don’t lie; you know you’ve done it, I sure have: The hotel breakfast buffet, you’re so hungry and there’s so much food, you want your money’s worth, each station looks better than the one before it, and those decorated plates piled with pancakes the size of your head make it all too delicious to pass up (I usually have these as my 'dessert course').

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