Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference
April 11–13, 2018
RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre
Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference
June 26-29, 2018
L. Aruna Dhir 17 January 2018
Business is built on trust inculcated in the customer for the products the businesses sell. The success factor of any business depends on the brand value that the Business promises to deliver to the guest. This value is always defined from the perspective of the guest. The smooth running and profitability of any business is based on the efficient, hitch free movement of the supply chain taken care of by capable and diligent employees who own their roles and embody the essence of the brand principles. It is employees, who aim to raise their own standard of work and attitude to the level of an exemplary Brand Ambassador, that are the treasured lot upholding the Brand reputation and ensuring a healthy bottom-line.When these Brand Ambassadors do not uphold the brand flag and become less than competent and conscientious, the Brand value of the business, the Brand promise to the guest, Brand loyalty from the guests and Brand reputation in the minds of all stakeholders take a nosedive.So what are the prime factors that are bound to put you on a downward escalator making the climb back even more arduous and painful than when you started out!Nonchalant Staff that is ill-trained and lacks service orientationWhen we go out to work - in any job or industry - we cannot afford to be uncaring, perfunctory and uninvolved. It is a moral binding that we bring ourselves fully to our positions regardless of internal irritants that exist or imagined issues that we wrestle with.And when we are in the hospitality industry - a show business of providing experiential service to guests who come and spend their top dollar with us - such dismal disregard is completely inappropriate and unbecoming.In the Front of the House areas I find Reception Desks, Mise-en-place stations and Micros centres to be such terrible breeding grounds for overly germ-y behaviour that I dread being seated anywhere close to those.We recently went out for Dinner to a popular Italian Restaurant run by a celebrated City Chef. Unfortunately, the layout of this restaurant was perhaps such that you were always at an arm's length from those chit-chat coves. This evening, we had staff joking around, gossiping and doing anything but work at those hubs in a near empty restaurant.This behaviour pattern is such a dead giveaway for bad training, lack of interest in one's job and lack of respect both for the Company and the guests. The smirking and the smart alec-y attitude does more long term harm than can be envisaged and undone.The Missing 'Attention to detail'Paying attention to detail is a valuable trait in any profession. But in the hospitality industry it assumes far greater significance because there are so many levels of product and sub-product presentations and so many strata of service delivery opportunities.Dropping the ball even in the smallest of tasks in any section of the hotel can have a direct repercussion on the guest experience or an indirect one in terms of Brand delivery and reputation.When we walked into the above-mentioned spiffy restaurant, we were showed to a table that was not clean. Even a Fast Food restaurant with a packed house, pick-eat-go nature of service and fast turnaround cannot afford to seat guests at tables that have not been wiped; this place certainly had no excuse for that.We were seated on a table that was not ready - missing napkins and sundry other things. Soiled mats is never a good way of showcasing a restaurant and you do make matters worse when simple additions of EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar are missing from the table of an Italian restaurant.The lighting of the place was abysmally low making it difficult to read the menu. Poor lighting is an oft-repeated mistake committed the world over, in the name of ambience and mood.How can restaurants miss the basics while planning the structure? Hotels and restaurants have to have a 360 degree view of issues: - light - natural and artificial, temperature control, noise, location, pollution, traffic, accessibility amongst a host of other pertinent aspects.My biggest woe, however, at any restaurant is their complete negligence of cleanliness - telling-tales in the tines of forks, stain marks on glassware, napkins with stubborn reminders of rather sharp gravy, staff uniforms that bear the stench of climate and callousness.There are scores of restaurants - stand-alone and those in the confines of glitzy Five Stars - that kill guest satisfaction with their indifferent service and sub-standard offerings.Technologically challenged Staff, also not in step with the latest adventsTechnology, as is the human need, is evolving every nano second. A new gizmo is being invented or an old gadget updated at lightning speed for our ease, efficiency and convenience. So it is in our own interest that we stay on top of it, unlearn and relearn so as to give our optimal output.Many chains and independent hotels and restaurants invest sizeable energy and budget to systems and devices upgradation and to training their workforce in it. At a Bistro in a well-known hotel, a steward thrust a Tablet in front of me for feedback, not knowing how to operate it himself. When asked to return to a previous page he said resignedly in Hindi "woh toh chale gaya. Ab nahin milega. (The page is gone. I cannot retrieve it)."The steward erred grossly on two counts - first, he resorted to colloquial language while conversing with a guest when he should have stuck to the formal language of communication. Secondly, he or his establishment had failed to provide him with the requisite training. I felt like leaving the same sentence and sentiment as our comment on the contraption!The Heart of the Matter is not in its placeAt places with ill-trained staff, the food and atmosphere can be a great saviour. Suffice it to say that at our ill-fated outing at this 'all shine - no substance' Italian place we were denied even that. The pizza was most ordinary. Domino's does far better. The little accoutrements weremissing, the breads were far from fresh - yes all three, the Parmesan was floor dust massed-up in little balls and not freshly grated. And the tomato and basil spaghetti from the eponymous restaurant left a lot to be desired - the sauce was a thick, over stirred mass, overly salty and robbing the pasta of any taste or flavour, the spaghetti was not quite al dente. If you get your two basic dishes so wrong, how would you instil confidence in the customer to try out your trumped up menu that is heavy on the design value and comes out as a piece of literary fiction because your heart is not in its place!I once had this well-established and feared food critic share her exasperation on how the Doormen made her feel small each time she came to the hotel in a tuk-tuk / auto rickshaw. The disdainful behaviour of one team member made her feel spiteful of the hotel at large.On the other hand, I fondly recall the spotlessly liveried Doorman of The Pierre (a Four Seasons Hotel at the time of my visit) who was such a joy to have the first interface with as I got down from a public transport that was carrying me from around Newark Airport to the heart of Manhattan. The wise, well-behaved, thoroughly groomed Gent set the tone for one of the best hotel stays in my life.When up-selling leads to short-sellingSpaghetti Kitchen, the Italian Restaurant, we have been talking about in this article messed up so badly on staff that were not only ill-trained but also wrongly trained.Now, we know that all hotel staff is tutored to up sell - from the Sales & Marketing representatives and Front Office folks to the Food & Beverage personnel. But up-selling is an art form and a fine-tuned strategy. Its art lies in making subliminal suggestions to the guests who then think that it is either their own choice or have been done a favour by being sold a higher priced service / product.The good fellas at Spaghetti Kitchen were appallingly trained to be pushy and aggressive about all that up-selling they unleashed on us and other guests - from pushing heavily taxed bottled water to diners who do not drink water with their meals, to openly snickering at our small two-course order for the late, late-night quick meal we went for, to pushing desserts to a table that was disinclined towards them, to at least try to shove overrated coffee to the couple that wished to finish the meal with a simple tiramisu - these Brand Anti-Ambassadors managed to short sell their reputation and image, pushing the guests even farther from their brand.Failing to close the loop on a Guest IssueHotels and restaurants, since they are a people centric industry - by the people and for the people - fall open to a multitude of issues and crises that revolve around the troika of human ability, attitude and emotion. Nobody likes to be short-changed in their service expectation and product usage. In technological things, one can still blame the science or physics but in the service industry it is thinking, rational and able people who are at the centre of it and cannot get away by saying that the hardware malfunctioned or there was a systems error.In the case of the Italian Restaurant we have been referring to, we let our displeasure known several times during the evening. Our complaints seemed to be falling on uncaring, unwilling ears. It was only when we let the strange people at Spaghetti Kitchen know that we were "industry folk," that some sense of respect was brought forward and the erring waiter quickly replaced by the Manager and the Maitre'd. This sort of knee-jerk reaction leaves a lot to be desired and robs the guest of any confidence he may have in your brand.Since there were a plethora of issues we faced on that fateful "so-called" fine-dining dinner, we scaled up the matter to the Company's Image managers. The PR Reps., who call themselves PR Pundits, picked up our rant on the Food Forum and came back with too little, too late and too dispassionately. I gave the PR lady a reminder (reminders are sacrilege in the PR world of work); she gave me a passing apology perhaps only to go back to write her nth note to the restaurant management. The Management eventually wrote to me with the standard invite to 'come try them again "on the house"' without realizing that faith is never won with a free meal.In our line of business, there are warning signs that flag out much before they become crises for the guests. We must learn to read them in time and draw out our plan of action to keep our SOPs well-oiled much before we are coerced to get into the battle zone to do the damage control.
The Hotel Financial Coach 16 January 2018
The one thing I see time and time again with clients is just how poorly their financial statements are set up. The statements almost always lack basic information that is readily available and is critical information for maximizing profitability: poor design and missing features. If they were a car, I would want to call them a Lada. My apologies to any Russian readers.The flip side of this challenge is all the information that is needed to fix this reporting problem is at your fingertips. No new software is required. No real investment. Your team just needs to use what they already have and put it to work.Typical stumbling blocks to creating better more useful reporting are twofoldBefore I get into the two areas that typically hold us back from creating better reporting, let us remind ourselves why we are interested in having good and complete financials at our hotels. The reason we want to have great financial statements is that we want to use these instruments to make better decisions today for tomorrow's financial performance. If you cannot see the results of a certain critical aspect of your business, then how are you ever going to improve it? How will that ever translate into increased efficiency and profits? It always comes down to this simple reality: What you can't see you can't measure. What you can't measure, you can't improve.Imagine if you drove a car without a speedometer, and you kept getting speeding tickets.... The financial statement at your hotel is exactly the same.If it is not hooked up and working properly you have no idea how fast you are really going. Or better still, how fast you could be going.Back to the two stumbling blocksThe hotel business is more like the art world than real hardcore business. At least that is my take on it over the last 35 years. What I mean by that is most of our senior operational leaders are not financial people.They typically come from sales or operations and they have little formal training on the financial piece. This is not a slight to their experience or impact--it is just a fact.They are not programmed or predisposed to getting in the middle of the financial engine and ripping it apart, let alone asking or mandating reporting changes.Their modus operandi is the glitz, the spit and polish, the fun stuff, the art.They love this part and they dig in and put on the show. The show is what they get paid for, or at least that is what most leaders believe. So, they do not usually have any ideas or designs of the financial reporting piece.They take what is given and hope no one asks too many in-depth, detailed questions about the numbers.They are typically handicapped on the financials and they rely on a strong financial manager to make up for their lack of knowledge and experience with the presentation and breadth of the financial statement. This is a big mistake because getting comfy with the financials is not difficult. Once we are comfortable with what we have, we almost always see a way to get more.The second stumbling block is the somewhat typical financial leader who is not really interested in making their day or their job any more elongated or complicated: The fewer interruptions the better.They are already busy enough. Doesn't anyone know how busy I am?They want fewer questions--not more--and they certainly do not want people asking them to add more information to their financial statements.Why? Why is this the case more often than not? Again, I am not trying to paint the entire field of hotel financial leaders with the same brush. I am trying to make the point that most will not take it upon themselves to add financial statement features, or reporting statistics with an eye to having the best financial statements.Why is this the case? Well, I think it comes down to two elements: One, they usually have the attitude that operations people do not know what they need when it comes to the financials. Two, it is in their mind that it is just way too much work to stop the machine, pull out the gears, insert the new gizmo feature, re-boot and see what comes out the other end in the form of a change to the financials.In most hotels, it takes an act of Congress to make changes to the financial statements. Paramount to parting the Black Sea, it seems. But it does not need to be this way and it is certainly not complicated or expensive to make this happen. It is what I call evolution. We never really stand still. We are either hopefully moving ahead or we find ourselves silently moving backward.Back to the title of this piece: Recording average length of stayWhy would you want to have this in your financial statements? What purpose would it serve and exactly how do you calculate this statistic?The reason why you want to know the average length of stay for your hotel as a whole--and let's take it one step further, by major market segment--is to understand your different customers, their stay behavior and to ultimately maximize the average length of stay. Fewer arrivals and longer stays equal lots of good things for your hotel operation and profit.Fewer arrivals and a longer length of stay "usually" equalLess wear and tear in your lobby, hallways and room productLower labor costs at the front, in housekeeping and with your room attendantsLower amenity costsLower laundry costsLower linen replacement costsLower guest supplies costLower energy costsFewer guest requestsBetter capture ratios in your restaurants and barsLess congestion at peak times in your lobbyA better opportunity to capture a return guestLower online travel agency feesMore time to make a lasting positive relationship with every customerDon't forget for a moment that the hotel business is a game of inches. There is no holy grail waiting to be discovered that will save your way to prosperity. We are a high-volume transaction-based retail business. If your hotel has 250 rooms and you run 75 percent occupancy, you sell 69,000 rooms each year. How can you save just a little on each item on my list times 69,000? That is a nice number. Flip it around and ask how much inefficiency you can create and multiply that by the same number. That is kinda scary.Calculating the average length of stay could not be much more straightforward. You only need two numbers: room nights and arrivals. In this example last month, the hotel had 8,900 room nights (rooms sold) and 5,500 arrivals. Both numbers are readily available from your property management system or, heaven forbid, your daily reports. Just dig a little and you will find it.(8900/5500) = 1.62 nights as the average length of stay for the entire hotel last month.If understanding and maximizing the average length of stay is important to you then you will want to take it one step further and measure it by major market segment. In this example, we will use just three major segments. In your hotel, it might look different: tours, crew, sports teams, etc. If it does just pull the numbers apart so you can isolate the activity in the segment you want to measure.Transient, 2300 rooms sold and 1600 arrivals (2300/1600) = 1.44 nights - average length of stayCorporate, 3200 rooms sold and 2700 arrivals (3200/2700) = 1.19 nightsGroup, 3400 rooms sold and 1200 arrivals (3400/1200) = 2.83 nightsIncluding these statistics on financial statements is rather straightforward. You create a stat account in each department of your general ledger and an overall stat plug to zero out the P&L effect. If you do not know what this means, ask your financial leader. If they do not know or say they do not know, then get some help. Having these numbers magically appear on your financials requires a mildly skilled person to go under the hood and add the formula to your reporting application.Again, ask your finance person to just get it done!You will also want these stats in your daily reporting, so you can see in the month how things are developing. Another key aspect is including this information with your rooms forecast. This provides your operations people valuable information for their expense and labor forecasting.The last and equally important aspect of capturing the average length of stay by customer segment is how it should affect your marketing and sales plan.How can you design your M&S efforts to go after the most profitable business from an operations angle as well as wear and tear on your asset?What's the right balance between the different segments mid-week and on the weekends?How does seasonality play into this?How does demand in these segments affect this?These questions lack a definitive black and white answer. However, your ability to answer the questions better will be greatly enhanced with reporting on the average length of stay by segment in your hotel.What are you waiting for?Unlocking this information in your hotel is this simple. Go on, and get on with it already!If you would like a copy of any of the following send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.orgEFTE and Productivity ExerciseHotel Financial Policy Manual - Inventory of "Sections"Hotel Financial Coach "Services Sheet"F&B Productivity SpreadsheetRooms Productivity SpreadsheetFinancial Leadership Recipe F TAR WHotel Financial Coach - "Speaking Sheet"Flow Thru Cheat Sheet - EnhancedVisit my website today for a copy of my FREE guidebookThe Seven Secrets to Create a Financially Engaged Leadership Team in Your Hotelwww.hotelfinancialcoach.comCall or write today and arrange for a complimentary discussion on howyou can create more profit in your hotel.
i-rates LLC 15 January 2018
Revenue Management techniques are dictated by the type of product you're selling. What are the main characteristics of hotel rooms as a product and what makes it different from, let's say, apples?..PerishabilityHighly perishable products (hotel rooms, airline tickets, car rental, storage spaces) are anything that is time-dependent. Anything that is rented by month, day, hour, or second.What is the main difference between perishable and non-perishable goods? Obviously, it is timing. Produce is also considered perishable but hotel rooms are much worse! Average shelf life of an average apple is 2-4 weeks (yes, I was surprised, too). So you've got up to 28 days to sell it. But you only have 1 chance to rent a hotel room for the 4th of July - only on the 4th of July. After the end of the day, the product instantly goes bad. You have to take it off the shelf and display a new one - called "July 5th" (which is normally much less valuable).Strictly limited supplyYou can get flexible number of apples, depending on what your demand forecast will be, but hotels are limited by physical inventory. You can only sell X number of hotel rooms (or less, if you're working on fixing that bed bug issue in a few rooms that are out of order) at any given point in time. Hence the specifics of managing this product that will be described below.Unlike other markets where supply can be easily fluctuated, travel industry often experiences situations when Demand exceeds Supply, which results in an overflow that explains the tremendous success of Vacation Rental business that we have been seeing lately. But that is a whole separate discussion...Selling the promiseAnother specific - you can start selling a hotel room before it's even available. You can sell the promise, not the actual product (unlike an apple on the shelf in a store). Hotel rooms are sold 365 days (or even more) in advance. This is also dictated by the perishability. It would be impossible to fill the property by only accepting walk-in guests on the day of arrival. So hotels have to sell advanced reservations. A reservation is "an arrangement to have something held for one's use; also : a promise, guarantee, or record of such engagement" (definition by Merriam-Webster).OversellingWhat is also amazing is that sometimes you can (and you should) sell more promises that you can deliver! Overselling (or overbooking) is a technique used in Revenue Management to offset anticipated cancellations and no-shows. Proper overselling at the peak of demand helps hoteliers sell their rooms at the premium rate and not leave money on the table from empty rooms due to anticipated cancelations and no-shows. This is optimal strategy that leads to revenue (and profit) maximization. The additional revenues gained from the overselling techniques go straight to the bottom line. More details on this subject can be found here.Specifics of managing hotel roomsSo based on what is discussed above, what are the specifics of revenue managing this kind of product?With apples, you maximize you profits through sophisticated logistics and fluctuating Supply (with relatively fixed prices) based on your demand forecast. If you're familiar with basic principles of economics, you will recognize this graph that depicts what happens with those apples:With hotel rooms, on the other hand, supply is a fixed variable (as we discussed above), so all you have left is to fluctuate your Price, according to demand fluctuations. Supply curve is vertical, equilibrium Quantity is determined entirely by the supply conditions (physical inventory in the market), equilibrium Price is determined entirely by demand conditions. This is approximately how it looks:The concept is the following: in general, when demand is strong, price for a hotel room should go up, to capitalize on ADR; when demand is weak, price should go down, to increase occupancy. This concept has a name - "Dynamic Pricing". One of its biggest advantages is the ability to adjust to the real demand fluctuations, even if your initial forecast was inaccurate (again, due to the specifics of the product: you have 365 days or more to play the pricing game). The beauty of Dynamic Pricing is that these prices can (and should) be constantly re-adjusted in accordance with demand fluctuations in the market.Proper pricing adjustments (daily or even hourly), which take existing demand into account, are the key to increased profitability of any property. In a perfect scenario, on any given day, you need to:sell 100% of your available inventoryat a maximum potential pricewith minimum expenses (in commissions and fees).You do that by starting to sell this inventory (or, "the promise") 365 days in advance by trying to predict demand and by pricing your product the way that would allow you to reach 100% occupancy and highest possible ADR. Sometimes you have to oversell, in anticipation of cancelations and no-shows.Some of these individual tasks can be performed manually. However, due to the specifics of the product described above and the complexity of the required analysis, the most efficient way to handle data and generate profits is through Revenue Management Software (RMS). Does Albertsons manually forecast the number of apples to be delivered to their stores each day? Not a chance. So why is hospitality industry so far behind?... (Click here for more details on automation in hospitality Revenue Management)ConclusionThere are a number of characteristics of "hotel rooms" as a product that dictate the specific Revenue Management techniques, which should be applied in order to maximize profits.Managing any perishable time-dependent product is a complicated task that requires a lot of forecasting. In order to be successful, it is necessary to be able to estimate approximate demand level for every day in the future, at least 365 days ahead, and price your inventory accordingly. It is best to invest in an automated Revenue Management solution that is integrated or built in to your Property Management System that allows you to predict demand, track your remaining inventory and price you rooms based on fluctuating market conditions, with the maximum potential outcome.
Minett Consulting 15 January 2018
The majority of hotels continue to operate internal servers today. Why? Convenience, security and economy are the main reasons. In many cases, these systems continue to perform reliably and the case for adopting a new way of doing things is simply not compelling enough..Eventually though, the case for the cloud-based PMS will become overwhelming. As the benefits of cloud-based property management systems multiply -- and as more properties move away from in-house solutions --developers will phase out traditional offerings and stop issuing updates. This is already happening throughout the software world, not just hotel property management systems. What was once a license to install and use software on your own server is now a cloud-based subscription service.But it's one thing to push your music or photo collection to the cloud. Hoteliers need a very strong case indeed before they entrust vital functions and data to faraway servers. What are the issues to consider for the cloud-based PMS?Security concernsThe world has seen more large-scale hacking incidents in recent years. Major corporations have been hacked, exposing the personal information of millions and creating a series of legal/PR nightmares.Cloud-based systems are a migration of many little servers (the traditional way of storing data) toward fewer, bigger servers. Doesn't this make your data less secure? Aren't big professional servers in faraway places more likely to be targeted by hackers?Not necessarily. Cloud-based property management systems know that a major security breach would be fatal to their business, so they have to invest constantly in security upgrades. Overall, their servers are better equipped to protect against viruses and security breaches. As hackers become more sophisticated, so must the measures designed to stop them. Boutiques might argue that keeping information in-house makes their guests less of a target -- but given all the other benefits of cloud computing, it's difficult to argue that in-house software is a better solution.Note: A process called tokenization, wherein sensitive data (e.g. credit card details) is replaced by symbols for its journey through cyberspace, is a vital security feature for any cloud-based PMS.Maintenance/updatesA true cloud-based PMS isn't located anywhere on your property. None of the data you collect and store will ever exist on the premises -- except when you call it up using a PC or mobile device. Maintenance and updates occur automatically in the cloud. As a hotel manager, your only concern is your account credentials and the end-user interface.Which means, of course, that stable Internet is a must for any cloud-based PMS. If your connection goes, so will your ability to use the PMS. Investing in a PMS before you invest in rock solid data infrastructure is therefore not the best decision.Other concerns The cloud-based PMS can perform any function your in-house PMS can -- bookings, point of sale, telephone, accounts receivable, F&B management, HR, payroll, and so on. If anything, there's net-increase in functionality since the system is constantly improving with a view toward winning more clients like you. Plus, you have all the convenience of the cloud.Be wary, however, of any cloud-based PMS designed mainly for desktop use. The increase in mobile interactions continues to impact our industry, and many hotels are choosing to bring reception out from behind the desk. Managers also need to able to monitor and adjust situations immediately, whether they're on the premises or not. In order to be effective in these ways, the cloud-based PMS needs a sophisticated mobile interface that won't compromise functionality.It's also worth mentioning that not every "cloud-based PMS" you come across is "truly" cloud-based. Some of these offerings are user-installed software that lives on your server and updates to the cloud frequently. This leaves you will most of the same problems if something breaks down, and deprives you of real-time monitoring.Other issuesAt the moment, your choices are still on a server, or in the cloud. But there may be even more developments in this area, especially with the emergence of blockchain technology. There are already developers such as Winding Tree looking to revolutionise the travel industry so it makes sense that this new technology will eventually make it's way into a hotel management system as well. According to Duetto, companies such as the TUI Group have already developed their own in-house private blockchain to manage a variety of transactions so it would seem inevitable that the larger hotel management area would be under review.ConclusionsI suspect the current cloud systems will be around for a while, and RMS Hotel, CiiRUS, and Hotelogix are a few of the names you should investigate if you're interested in moving to a cloud-based PMS. The functionality is already impressive, and ever-evolving. Depending on the size and scope of your property -- and depending on what kind of results you get from your existing PMS -- 2018 may not be the year to move into the cloud. But the writing appears to be on the wall (or in the sky). As more capital and more trust moves into cloud-based PMS services, the case will only grow stronger. And if blockchain technology takes off, expect this to be even stronger still.
Net Affinity 15 January 2018
With just a small percentage of difference in your hotel's RevPAR between success and underperformance, the role of the Revenue Manager (RM) is crucial to hotels.With the start of a new year, comes the perfect opportunity to re-educate ourselves on what makes a good Revenue Manager, and what you can do in January to be the best in the year ahead.The job description may vary from hotel to hotel, but one thing that stays the same is the ability to optimise profit and increase the average daily rate (ADR) for the hotel.This is a two-pronged process, the first being to crunch booking data to develop the most effective rates and revenue optimising strategies.The second being, to filter this information throughout the hotel staff members who implement your strategies and rates. This is particularly important for the Marketing team, who use these rates to form their special offers and messaging.The latter is the most challenging to achieve, motivating a workforce to implement your recommendations across the board can be tricky. Therefore, the skills required of a Revenue Manager don't revolve purely around mathematical and technical capability, to do the job effectively you must also be a great communicator.With this in mind, Net Affinity has put together a list of what all Revenue Managers should do in January to excel in the year ahead.1. Get to know your colleagues - successful RM's have topnotch relationship skills.Get to know your team at the top of the year, make an extra effort to catch up with managers and those who will help you implement your strategies across the hotel teams. In a small hotel this is easily done, but for bigger hotels, chains and groups it can be more challenging.2. Envisage your goals for the year, what do you hope to achieve?The beginning of the year is a great time to set yourself targets and envisage the top line changes you'd like to achieve for your hotel during the quarter and year ahead3. Refresh your knowledge of your hotel's markets.As an RM you may or may not have a background in property management, either way, your markets and the hospitality industry as a whole is an ever-evolving beast. Kick-off the year with a refresher, ask the General Manager to give you the low-down on the hotel's markets as they see them.4. Devise a method to quantify your success.Revenue Managers have one of the most crucial jobs for the financial success of the hotel, however, it's not easy. When your predictions and recommendations are on the mark, it's easy for someone else to get the credit, and when you're wrong, it's even easier for others to finger point in your direction. Protect yourself from this by setting up a method unique to your role, which measures your successes, and your failures. You can then use these metrics when pitching new or improved rate plans to your peers.5. Create good habits with a weekly schedule to stick to.Every good Revenue Manager will have a strict structure to their working week. It's important to review and amend this routine in January to allow for any new metrics you need to analyse, or additional duties your role may have encompassed. Through routine checking and monitoring, more patterns will naturally stand out to you within the sea of data you look at regularly, and you'll notice when something is slightly off, so you can make rate amendments efficiently and lessen the financial impact of those unexpected troughs in sales.Go back to school - upskill!New concepts, tools, and technology are available each year in the travel and tourism sector. Don't get left behind with outdated skills, take some time in January to do an audit of what's new in the industry and what is relevant for you to learn to improve in Revenue Management and create a plan to upskill yourself. Embrace new sophisticated tools and automation, after all, they're not replacing you they're just enhancing how you do your job.
StayNTouch Inc. 12 January 2018
"The system is simple and makes training new team members easy. No need to endless hours of "computer training" before taking someone new to the desk. With SNT you can hire for personality and trust that training the skills will be a breeze.""You have to keep up-to-speed with technology and not let interfaces and needless restrictions sit around for a decade untouched. This system pushes you to stay current and flexible."All of the quotes above are directly from clients. There is an interesting theme evolving related to 'a new beginning' that is being fostered by innovative property management systems, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this [r]evolution. The hotel property management system has been around for a long time, and unfortunately for the industry, it has evolved very little over time. Yes, features and functions have been developed, a plethora of interfaces have been added - yet the baseline for a PMS has remained virtually static.For the hospitality industry, times have changed dramatically over the past five years. The introduction of development capabilities that almost any qualified technology company can emulate has somewhat leveled the playing field. However, most of these new "solutions" making waves in the market are actually nothing more than periphery-focused apps that once again place the pressure on the PMS technology to find a way to integrate with them. These apps are often focused on guest engagement, back of house, time management and the list goes on and on. The challenge becomes evident when these new and innovative apps or platforms want to connect with older (legacy) property management systems.What is a new beginning A new beginning starts with throwing out our preconceptions of what matters most and what a hotelier needs to be successful in the current highly competitive environment. The main challenges that hoteliers face need to be addressed, and today, one of the leading challenges is delivering a memorable guest experience that is tailored to the unique needs/wants of each individual guest. Long gone is the era in which a hotel has to be constrained by their technology. Hoteliers should be unrestricted, with the freedom to do what they want to do and partner with whomever they wish - irrespective of platform, operating system or integration language. As a hotelier, you need a system that pushes you to stay current and remain flexible enough to implement any number of new systems at any given moment to meet your goals.When reading the client testimonials at the start of this article, one of the particular operational pain points that stands out is one that hoteliers have struggled with for a long time - the management and optimization of their staff. Specifically, ensuring that staff members at all levels feel comfortable and empowered using the tools and technology available to them to excel at their jobs and deliver world-class guest service. When it comes to technology, especially in a high-turnover industry, ease of use, adoption and training is at the top of the list. A hotel's staff is among the most valuable assets and older PMS' are incredibly cumbersome to use and tough to learn - ultimately leading to high upfront soft costs (time) and hard costs (training). In contrast is finding a user-friendly, intuitive, cloud-based system that requires minimal setup and training. Everything is included in the subscription fee, including software updates and upgrades. Using an SaaS service makes administration easier; provides automatic updates and management; ensures compatibility; enhances collaboration and provides access to users from any device capable of accessing the internet.The new PMS must be able to enhance the guest engagement model, not just act as a glorified cash register. They must deliver more and be profit centers not cost centers. The PMS is the beating heart of your hotel operations, and it must benefit almost every department within the hotel, but most importantly, it must be flexible enough to give your guests the control to choose how they want to interact with your hotel. If the guest elects to check themselves in and go directly to their room, the PMS should enable them to do so. If they want to upgrade or order services prior to their stay, the PMS should let them do this as well. However, if the guest wants to be fawned over like a tried and true VIP, then the PMS should amplify this experience and ensure that they feel exactly like the VIP they would like to be.In a recent Bloomberg article, Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor at NYU's Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism said this about the front desk:"Fifty years ago, people didn't have credit cards, and bad guys would come jump the desk and steal the cash. But that's not the case anymore, and hotels no longer need that type of tall, wide barrier. Now they're thinking: 'Why can't we have a little seating area that's very comfortable and intimate?"The front desk is changing, and the PMS will have to change along with it. Guests require a different check-in an on-property experience and the PMS, using tablets and various mobile devices should be able to deliver on those emerging demands.
The ENTERTAINER FZ LLC 10 January 2018
As a result, they lost my confidence as a guest in their implementation of new digital "bells and whistles".I think of myself as very tech savvy, so I was looking forward to trying out the hotel's in-room smart TV system, smart controls and app. But it was such a nightmare to operate - the remote was your browser and was impossible to control, while the app had very little in terms of usability or information. I ended up more anxious and frustrated than delighted.Changing timesAn exciting revolution seems to be starting to take shape in hospitality thanks to the rise of mobile and emerging technologies - from chat-bots to AI, to voice assistants and robot concierges, smart hotel amenities and even entirely smart hotels.However, hoteliers must take great care that the digitised features they are adding on are not just to appeal to a modern millennial mindset. Such changes must have a purpose. Otherwise, they only serve to feed an on-demand technology monster. Each implementation has to have one purpose and one purpose only - improving the guest experience, on-property and in-destination.Engagement and growth in the hospitality industry isn't just about one time visits, pumping money into paid channels and optimizing conversion rates for rooms sold. What engagement entirely boils down is how successful a property is at making its guests feel taken care of and welcome, so they are likely to recommend the brand or to stay at a sister property in a new city.Human touchWhen building emerging technologies into a hotel's offerings, human-centric design is of the utmost importance. When tech isn't user-friendly, you risk confusing guests and failing to keep their business (while wasting your hotel's budget in the meantime). With competition mounting from the sharing economy, and Airbnb on track to rack up more than 100 million stays this year, hotels can't afford such mistakes.If implemented successfully, emerging technologies can provide quite the competitive edge. A great example is conversational interfaces and messaging, which are probably the trend in emerging technologies in hospitality right now about which I am most bullish.Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Baidu Deep Speech 2, IBM Watson, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana are among the dozens of players competing in this space. Available as voice-based or message-based systems, hotels can use conversational interfaces to provide better responses to guest inquiries about the hotel's features and services, while also using them to recommend and book tours and attractions and things to do in the cities they are in.As I have written before, the opportunity for tours and activities keeps growing and growing, and both mobile and emerging tech will be immense drivers to the industry.Early effortsThe majority of hotels that have started exploring and experimenting are using message-based interfaces, such as chatbots operating via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and other communication services, and that'll soon increase as voice and messaging based tech, and the AI behind it, improves.Gartner Research predicts that 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020, likely fueled by the future popularity of voice-powered searches. Mobile is a driving force of this evolution, even further cementing a "mobile first strategy" as the future of the hospitality industry.Magnus Jern, chief information officer of Digital Management, Inc, a leading provider of mobile enterprise, business intelligence and cybersecurity services, said:"Customers expect to communicate directly with brands from their mobile through Facebook, Whatsapp, WeChat, Twitter and other channels about any topic...If they don't get a response they will go to a competitor or other company to find it."Chances are you've already interacted with a chatbot and didn't even know it. An important part of guest experience is indeed a personal, human touch, but these days many people are becoming open to receiving automated service if it is faster, more efficient and offers a satisfactory result. If a chatbot can provide a reliable solution or answer in half the time it takes to connect with a real person (without any of that mind-numbing "hold the line" music), wouldn't you happily use one?Getting the messageIHG Hotels demonstrates just how a chatbot can develop brand loyalty by improving guest experience. Milda Ratkelyte, social channels manager for IHG said:"We want travellers to interact with Hotel Indigo the same way they do with their friends, so introducing our digital Neighbourhood Host on Facebook Messenger was a perfect way for us to better connect with them through one of the world's most used platform."The chatbot engages the guests not only pre-stay where they can plan but also during the stay, where they can get information about the city, things to do and attractions and much more.Chatbots can engage with existing traffic, increase conversion rates, upsell and solve inquiries and complaints with more ease. It can even act as a reservation channel to facilitate direct bookings. It doesn't just have novelty appeal, and it can be an important means of getting an edge on competition and making the lives of guests easier.However, for users to indeed build trust in a brand and its chatbot, their experience has to be seamless. As trends researcher Sabre Labs put it in it's 2017 "Emerging Technology in Travel" report:"Chatbots must function as expected by the user. The goal is for the technology to disappear and for the user to forget about the interface. For this to happen, understanding intent is essential."If done poorly, conversational interfaces work against its hotel adopters.Future gazingWhat the chatbots of tomorrow will be capable of is incredible. Today many chatbots are rules based rather than AI based. Artificial intelligence is set to one day advance conversational interfaces to an astonishing degree. Christina Heggie, investment principal at JetBlue Technology Ventures, runs down an interesting scenario in a Medium post."Imagine a world where you communicate with a conversational AI through any channel of choice to discuss a trip - from an Alexa-like hardware device to software on a computer or a digital watch. 'Book flights and hotels for my meeting next week in LA.' or an ongoing and evolving conversation: 'I want to take vacation next spring. Maybe somewhere warm. Not too expensive. Using some of my loyalty points. Where can I go?"The software would gather a user's prior booking history, as well as other relevant information, ranging from TripAdvisor Yelp reviews to photos liked on Instagram, capturing the relative words and data points needed to establish accurate context for that traveller.Through the analysis of this information, as well as her stated preferences, AI could produce a short, highly customized list of search results ... in stark contrast to what users often experience today on online booking engines."That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to personalized service. People will give chatbots details they wouldn't put into search engines, and rich data from a full digital footprint will flourish with specific answers that will hit the nail right on the head.Once additional personal information is offered up, it can be collected and mined for data sets. Big data is a term that might sound impersonal and daunting, but it's actually where that human touch and technology meet. Hotels can find out more about who their guests are, their needs and desires, and in doing so be able to deliver them even better service.I've worked on mobile, bots and emerging tech firsthand. I believe in being a practitioner. My current company has developed a mobile concierge for both the in-room and in-destination experience, and I can say that investing in emerging technologies, when implemented right, has the potential to save hotels serious operating costs and delight guests at the same.Thriving hotels such as The Public in New York and chains such as Yotel can inspire with their fuss-free, tech-reliant models. The Public has scaled rapidly thanks to unique automated touches, such as self-check-in using iPads in the lobby and online room service orders with self-pick-up. Meanwhile, Yotel enlists the help of butler robots that take elevators by themselves to deliver amenities such as towels and toothbrushes.But despite how exciting these advancements are, emerging technologies can only act as a complement to warm and genuine human service. The basic tenets of good hospitality should not be sacrificed for innovation, but rather propped up and made better because of it. Don't forget: excellent guest experience always has to come from the heart.
StayNTouch Inc. 10 January 2018
Following up revenue managers for all our hotels in ScandinaviaStrategies for optimizing revenue and resultsAnalysis of hotel performance and resultsTotal profit managementJohan has been in operations all his life working his way from front-line positions up to his current executive level.In an interview, he shared his insights about his role in finding a new PMS platform for First Hotels.What is important to you related to technology platforms? We focus on technologies that are simple in nature. They must be easy to learn and easy to implement but also be able to fulfill all our requirements. The company has high turnover as do most hotels companies and thus the system needs the capability to train new employees easily. We also want to limit the number of systems required, and finally, it needs to be future-minded, e.g., mobile check-in/check-out door lock integration and whatever next is going to come down the road.Do you think today's technology hotel companies develop what is the next shiny object or do they develop based on the true market requirements of our industry?We have been doing a complete revamp of our entire infrastructure, and I have met many start-ups during this process. I believe that a number of them develop their solutions based on what is "neat" and I have a feeling that they do not always know the demands on a hotel and it operations. Our industry is littered with legacy systems, so it may be a little easier for startups to pitch the future than it would be in other industries.Do you see ancillary spend becoming a large part of how hotels drive revenues?All of it depends on what type of properties you have. People talk about total revenue management, and it is essential to look at all revenue streams when trying to optimize all aspects of your sales. I also believe it is important to look at the true Net RevPar. Too few hotels do this. We, at times, do not know the true profitability of a room. We also need to understand the total cost of distribution, and when you understand this, you can implement a very profitable channel strategy.When you looked at property management systems, what were the features that they had to have, to make your short list?They have to have a mobile check-in, they must be cloud-based, and they needed to be intuitive, to learn quickly. The user interface was very important for us. It has to be with how we teach our employees but also how quickly they can take the information and repurpose this for our guests. The new PMS needed to be able to connect to our other systems such as our loyalty solution, channel management platform, our CRS, etc. We then limited it down to two platforms. We do not want to change how we think, how we work to replace a PMS. Don't get me wrong, we are flexible, but we didn't want to re-invent the wheel.What level of due diligence did you do in regards to the service and support of the new solution?Well, we didn't want to be a small fish in a big pond like we were with our previous provider. We wanted to be able to work alongside a partner rather than a vendor and feel as if our input was going to be heard. The ongoing support is very important to us. When it comes to development, we are very interested in working with a company that will listen to our new requirements and do their utmost to implement new features when required.Where do you see the future of hotel technology?Consolidation is key, so you don't have to require a hundred systems. I understand that we will always need different systems however we would like to be able to reduce the total number of partners. The tech space is evolving and changing at a rapid pace, so we need to find out what to we truly need versus what we wish we had. Technology prioritization should be seen as an imperative when making buy decisions. Finally, gaining information from multiple systems and using that data effectively to affect change hopefully will be a big area of technological improvement.Where do you see the future of hotel technology?Consolidation is key, so you don't have to require a hundred systems. I understand that we will always need different systems however we would like to be able to reduce the total number of partners. The tech space is evolving and changing at a rapid pace, so we need to find out what to we truly need versus what we wish we had. Technology prioritization should be seen as an imperative when making buy decisions. Finally, gaining information from multiple systems and using that data effectively to affect change hopefully will be a big area of technological improvement.About First HotelsFirst Hotels is a leading collection of hotels with more than 90 unique hotels centrally located in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Spain. You can enjoy the ultimate urban experience at our first class hotels: First Hotel Reisen in Stockholm, First Hotel Mayfair in Copenhagen, First Hotel G in Gothenburg, First Hotel Grims Grenka in Oslo as well as our Spanish hotels. First Hotels is proud to offer unique, personal service and modern comfort.First Hotels was established in 1993 and initially comprised six hotels located in Sweden. The company has since expanded through acquisition and the construction of new hotels. First Hotels is committed to providing quality experiences and individual choices. All our hotels offer a unique atmosphere and singular sense of style.Web: www.firsthotels.com
Zaplox AB 9 January 2018
No longer do we need the hotel doorman (aka bellman or porter) to assist in opening doors for today's guests. With the emerging advances in technology, guests now have the ability to define and customize their entire hotel experience destiny - including opening doors with mobile keys. Yes, there are still times where a hotel may deliver that one to one experience by showering guests with overflowing service on a personal level. But, the winds of change are at hurricane strength, and through the implementation of technology, hoteliers can now empower their guests to choose the unique levels of service (or self-service) they prefer.Over the past few years, Phocuswright has done a number of research papers that try to unravel the traveler engagement landscape. At the top of the list is mobile. Utilization of a mobile device, primarily a smartphone, has made it possible for new and innovative solutions to be developed that enhance the guest experience as well as decrease the cost of hotel operations. In a report titled "The U.S. Mobile Traveler in 2017," it was determined that the largest group of mobile travelers are millennials, comprising nearly half of those queried. Of the total responses, 51% wanted to use their smartphone to check-in to their room. The report also stated that mobile travelers, those who a proficient in using their smartphones to research, book and maximize their trip, are likely to spend more. Items that are purchased on a smartphone vary. However, 67% shopped for hotel rooms on the smartphone. This means that there is still a great deal of opportunity to be had when looking at selling travelers even more products or services before, during and after their stay.Not only do "mobile travelers" want to check-in and out of their hotel room using their smartphone, but they also want their device to be the room key itself. The demand has proven itself as mobile digital keys have become a game changer for some of the world's leading hotel brands. Hilton for example, launched its Digital Key in late 2014. As of August, last year Hilton's the technology was available in over 2000 hotels, setting new records for usage and engagement with more than 13.6 million doors opened. The brand expects to have at least 3000 hotels up and running within 2018.How many times has a guest waited to check in to a hotel and have their plastic key card encoded only to have to return to the front desk because of key card malfunctions? The answer? Too many times! Just peruse a few TripAdvisor comments to see how troubling this situation can be and how detrimental it is to the guest's initial perception of the hotel.The power of smartphones to enhance the guest experience is just scratching the surface of what the true impact of mobility can become within the travel ecosystem. Mobile check-in, mobile checkout, and mobile to open doors is just the start. The expanding capabilities of mobile devices also enable new types of interactive marketing. Merchandising will have an impact on the mobile engagement model that hotels will implement. Hotels will be able to send relevant messaging based on proximity, preferences, and behaviors, driving engagement and revenue.The future of mobile guest captivation is looking incredibly bright. Guests today are texting, talking, communicating, buying, searching, watching videos, and taking photographs all on their mobile devices. The use of smartphones will continue to grow, and in the highly competitive travel marketplace, it is crucial to be unique and offer differentiative products or services. To see how Expedia collaborated with Zaplox to redefine the mobile guest journey, just follow this LINK.
Pertlink Limited By Terence Ronson
Have you ever thought about how much paper is still in use - mostly needlessly - in your hotel? Terence Ronson has. For The Hotel Yearbook, he makes the rounds and tallies up all the forms, reports, work orders, requests, lists, folios, CVs, POs, menus, forecasts.... The results are not pretty - and certainly not sustainable.
HVS 3 January 2018
Interpersonal Service and Talent DroughtSpa treatments and correlating services are customarily viewed as manual-therapies with an important emphasis on the unique interface between (a client and a provider). This person-to-person relational component is a critical measure that often determines the overall experience and tone of the elected treatment or service, client satisfaction and the future efficacy of this relationship. While personal-touch is an essential component of the spa industry, the impetus of the industry has accelerated at a rate much faster than the growth of the workforce necessary to support it. Combined with an influx in hospitality development, technological investment hesitation and mitigating employee turnover- keeping pace to hire and train new talent, have not made early adaption an easy process. Consequently, the lack of acclimatization not only impacts leadership, but operational consistency and fiscal volume.A recent study conducted by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics found that employment within the beauty and wellness arenas hold substantial projected growth in the U.S. economy. The study discovered "hairdressers, barbers and cosmetologists have faster than average job growth, citing an average 10% annual increase in employment from 2014 to 2024." Furthermore, the study noted a "62% average annual turnover as people seek career advancement and new opportunities", resulting in "more than 400, 000 available job openings per year, " in the U.S. alone.Further research by the Global Wellness Institute GWI, shared by the [Spa and Wellness Career Development Initiative] reports that "By 2018, we will need 2.7 MILLION employees in the spa industry to meet demand, with the United States, China, Germany, Japan, and Russia leading the job creation." This data underlines the scope of global spa, wellness and beauty growth which reveals the industry will "need an additional 80, 000 Spa Managers and Directors and 500, 000 Spa Therapists more than the workforce in 2013." Recognized as an industry of independent talent, this rouses important variables to consider pertaining to hiring and training. It also presents a need to reconsider operational models that promote continued progress. Understanding where the challenges are can help navigate new pathways to improve and transcend standard operational policies.Reorganizing a ParadigmTraditionally spa and wellness operations have been divided into departments and categories centered on performance and profitability, fixed on manual services to generate the bulk of treatment revenue and sales. Considering the increasing challenges to recruit and retain experienced talent, the diversification of this model requires new elements of protective foresight and calculated planning. Administration and retail components rely on savvy customer service, constant product education and the aptitude to sell. Retail sales measure between 10% to 35% of spa revenue. It's important to provide the resources and tools required to optimize the front desk and administrative performance. Appointment setting and new client intake procedures can be reintroduced with more efficiency to foster extra attention on customer care. Services and retail are a spas biggest revenue producers. However, labor costs and overhead make up a considerable portion of the yield. Compensation structures vary depending on location, region and spa-type. Nonetheless, labor costs run between 45% to 60%. In addition to operating expenses that fall between 35% to 40%. With such a big percentage of sales and service revenue going to labor and overhead, profitability can be challenging even with a well-organized and fully staffed team. A model that is solely dependent on the expertise of licensed providers with an emphasis exclusively on manual actions, will be at a disadvantage as technology continues to accelerate and improve. Whereas traditional spa treatments and personal care services cannot solidly be replaced by technology, nor should they ... It is essential to integrate a subset of automation and new applications. This process will help insulate investors and stakeholders from labor liabilities and staffing challenges that could undermine a spas peak performance. Moreover, industrializing a percentage of spa services will introduce new modalities, create profitable new income streams and protect investments with a relatively fast return on investment. In the figure below, I have simplified these components into three specific groupings based on functionality, industry evolution and impending future growth. I divided these into the following three groups: manual services, administration and retail, and automated services. Each set represents approximately a third of the operational structure in contrast to the long-standing traditional paradigm. By dividing operations into three specific sets, this introduces a "new model" focused on the future, to upsurge agility and increase profitability.InvestmentThe investment to feature new technology fluctuates considerably. These applications should be selected carefully. Without exception, all levels of change are unique for every spa. Each spa has distinct variables to consider such as location, hotel occupancy and volume. These choices should be founded on the goals of the property, company culture, budget ratification and asset planning. Deploying function without purpose, is counterproductive. And authenticity and transparency are indispensable. It's also critical to understand the opportunities associated with the investment, perceived value, marketability and required training. Embracing innovations in software will increase data capture, enhance guest profile analytics and keep marketing and strategic choices timely and relevant. Data is a currency. Data that is gathered through the hotel is pertinent to the metrics of the spa. Deciphering it with systems designed to predict important sequences can provide useful insight, mark milestones and help set important goals. Software can also support employee rotation cycles, manage daily duties more successfully and reorganize priorities vs. demands for better management of quality and time. "Because customer demand can be unpredictable and often doesn't match up with staffing schedules, it can be a challenge to fill appointments with high-quality providers. Tech like Zeel allows spas to tap a large pool of vetted, licensed providers, on demand," said Samer Hamadeh, CEO of Zeel. (3) Hamadeh also cites the value of "wellness technology as it facilitates easy payments, scheduling, and service reminders." Taking advantage of these resources leaves more time for cultivating the team of people who provide the social relationships that fuel the business. It also increases access to quality with operational flexibility.Automated TreatmentsAn increasing selection of automated services offer a wide-range of proven health and wellness benefits including: deep relaxation, sleep tribulations, stress, chronic pain, and a variety of common health issues. Some of these applications include halotherapy systems (known as salt therapy), float pods and tanks, products like BOD PODS and cryotherapy chambers. There are also a variety of frequency devices and treatment table innovations that apply modalities using chromotherapy (light and color), vibration and sound. In addition to these, there are exciting advancements in sleep, neurological health and audio-visual applications involving virtual reality and digital environments to aid relaxation, trauma and reduce stress. With distinct neural and physiological benefits, these modalities are increasing in popularity, mass and demand. Furthermore, these services do not require a licensed professional to deploy them. They generate a service fee uninhibited by typical commission models and free from provider overhead. They can be offered in place of a conventional service, introduced as pre-treatment, post-treatment or as add-ons to help manage busy scheduling and groups. Ultimately, this is a "new breed of spa services" that produce tangible wellness benefits, meet on-demand expectations and significantly increase treatment revenue. Furthermore, the personalized health landscape continues to evolve with new diagnostic customizations and wellness applications, driving a call for new services. Hotels and resorts have an extraordinary opportunity to diversify their spa and fitness programs. The International Spa Association ISPA 2016 U.S. Spa Industry Study (4) highlights "hotel and resort spas have an average of 12, 595 square feet, per establishment." (figure 2) Compared to day spas, medical spas and others that have an average square footage of 3, 904. Reallocating the space of unused treatment rooms and low-traffic fitness areas can produce viable fresh returns.Other ways to engage technology include, new aesthetic and massage instruments, live-fitness and internet applications, personalized spa apps, digital entry and more. The question is, who will use them? How will they use them? Not just today, but in one-year, two-years or more.Demand and DeliveryWhen it comes to bringing these various aspects into play, balancing integration helps manage the curve. It is vital that all elements of the up shift are understood and backed by employees and management. Whereas, these assets should be considered new resources and tools, not countermeasures designed to create uncertainty. Balancing empathy, nature and personalisation with innovation and technology epitomizes the "freedom to choose". There are plenty of people who choose not to visit a spa for the simple reason they are uncomfortable being touched. Automated services are a way to capture these customers by offering an easy, personal and hands-free alternative to traditional spa services. There's a lot of energy pursuing the millennial market. Appealing to this market requires flexibility, constant creativity and new strategies. Millennials shop products and services with a radically different view on value, quality and time. Businesses seeking the millennial spend and loyalty, need to know how to react, create the right incentives and be willing to change. Technology becomes a part of this. Statistics and data are providing realistic assumptions about market growth. And with any rapid development, there are always growing pains. By taking actions to leverage technology you can mitigate the increasing stress to remain competitive. Meanwhile, it's not solely about lateral market competition. It's about pleasing innovative and informed guests seeking services that meet their imminence and whim. Demands for spa and wellness services are changing. While massage and aesthetics are still the most commonly requested services, there are increasing modalities catered to wellness and prevention. Underestimating the benefits of new technologies will result in faster moving, more dramatic fluctuations in performance. Knowing how to choose new applications and integrate new systems is well worth taking the time to understand. Thereby, customizing new applications creates meaningful advantages for everyone, guests, employees, owners and stakeholders.Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from www.HotelExecutive.com.
i-rates LLC 3 January 2018
What is Dynamic Pricing?As we know, the main goal of Revenue Management is to sell the right product to the right customer at the right time and for the right price, with an ultimate goal to maximize the bottom line (the final profit). "The right price" is found through Dynamic Pricing, which should be the central element of every property's Revenue Management strategy.Effective Revenue Management requires a lot of forecasting. In order to be successful, it is necessary to be able to estimate approximate demand level for every day in the future, at least 365 days ahead, and price your hotel room accordingly. One of the biggest advantages of Dynamic Pricing concept is the ability to adjust to the real demand fluctuations, even if your initial forecast was inaccurate.The basic concept behind Dynamic Pricing in Revenue Management is simple: a hotel room should be priced based on supply and demand inter-correlations (equilibrium price).And the key points to remember are the following:each day should be treated as a separate seasonprices need to be constantly re-adjusted in accordance with demand fluctuations in your marketIn general, room rates should be increased when demand exceeds supply (to capitalize on ADR) and lowered when demand is weak (when it is necessary to increase occupancy). Proper pricing adjustments (daily or even hourly), which take existing demand into account, are the key to increased profitability.Types of dataThe next question is: how to properly track Demand? There are various data points that can be collected to assess demand fluctuations for any given day in the future. But in general, they can be grouped into 2 main categories:"Macro" level - external market data (in the form of published rates of all hotels in the area/region, as well as observed volume of searches/bookings for future dates in this region). Published rate information can be obtained through various rate shopping tools. There's no shortage of those in the market right now. OTA's also have vast amounts of this data and they're now willing to share this information with their partners and individual hotels."Micro" level - internal hotel data (in the form of daily statistics, booking pace, etc). This data is only available on the hotel level, through access to the property's PMS system.There's also the third kind of data that many hoteliers refer to when speaking about Dynamic Pricing. I call it "the noise". It includes: weather conditions, reputation scores, gas prices, air fares... The list is long but what these items have in common is the following: if you try to take any of those into account, you'll just end up distorting your calculations. These factors do affect the equilibrium market price but their impact is already reflected in the first two major data types above. So no need to count them twice.Now, let's take a closer look at the Micro and Macro levels of data. Both are important (though, not equally) when making pricing decisions for future dates.External Market DataOTA's have vast amounts of external market data, like detailed information about published prices for any day in the future. This is what normally goes in the algorithms that are built in their pricing intelligence tools, to calculate the recommended room rates. However, if used alone, without the second group of internal hotel data points, it can't provide adequate pricing recommendations. "Compset-oriented pricing" is quite far from the optimal strategy that hotels should use when making their revenue management decisions (see more details on the subject in this article).There are a few questions you have to ask yourself. Have you picked the right compset for your property? What IS the right compset? There's really no such thing. Your compset changes from day to day, from season to season, it also changes based on the market segment (for example, leisure travelers will consider one set of hotels and convention attendees will review a whole different number of properties, and your property may be a representative of both). Do your competitors really know what they're doing? Is it really worth following them? These are the reasons why compset-oriented pricing should never be used alone.Please don't misunderstand, compset data plays a big role in Revenue Management decisions (logically, those prices are what forms the market situation at any given moment) but one should never ignore the importance of internal hotel data like booking pace, group business on the books, number of vacant rooms, etc. It is impossible to build optimal pricing strategy without having this data on hand.OTA's also assess market demand strength based on the volume of bookings they receive for a particular region and the number of searches for specific dates in the future, which is also a very important piece of the puzzle. But again, should only be used in conjunction with the rest of the data.Internal Property DataAs discussed above, it is important to be aware of the rates that your competitors are publishing for any given day in the future. However, in many cases, blindly following their prices draws you away from the optimal market price (equilibrium price that is based on real supply and demand), and actually can drive your RevPAR down in many cases. That is why, in order to calculate optimal pricing decisions, you need to have access to instant on-demand internal hotel data (number of vacant rooms by room type, groups on the books, OOO rooms, overselling capacity, booking pace, etc.). This will help you consider the property specifics and adjust your strategy accordingly, as well as recognize the real demand flow that is affecting your particular property.There are 2 types of internal property data:Static data, which represents a one-dimensional "snapshot" of a property's current condition (occupancy level, ADR, RevPAR, OOO rooms, groups, etc.) for any given date in the past (final end-of-day numbers) or in the future (current state, on-the-books).Dynamic data, which is more informative and volumetric. It describes what happened during some period of time and how the property has reached the current state. It is more like a "historic video" rather than a snapshot. An example of such data is booking pace (or pickup dynamics) that reflects the speed of sales. This data can also be obtained for past as well as future dates that already have reservations on the books.So, how exactly do you use your internal data to assess demand? Many independent and brand hotels are still viewing occupancy as an indicator for increasing or decreasing room rates. A PMS alert may look like this:"On July 4, 2018 your occupancy reached 70%, you need to increase your rates by $10".Making pricing decisions based on occupancy alone is absolutely incorrect and can lead to great revenue losses (see this article for more information on this topic).When using internal data, demand fluctuations should be measured through the property's booking pace (pickup dynamics). Unfortunately, most Property Management Systems are built in a way that does not allow for the tracking of booking pace, so managers have to manually accumulate daily pickup data.Now that we have described the 2 main data categories, let's discuss which one should prevail. The answer is: internal property data (when available) has priority over the macro-level data. Here's why:Internal data reflects true demand fluctuations that are specific to this particular property and reflects its unique characteristics (i.e. location, value, physical number of rooms, market mix, FIT and group volume, etc.)Internal hotel data can be used alone and still help hoteliers achieve great results in terms of YOY RevPAR growth. This can't be said about external market data.Everything stated above does not eliminate the need to be aware of the external market information in order to have a clear understanding of what is happening in the area/region, and how your property is positioned in it. Macro-level data can be used to provide additional details for adjusting/correcting pricing decisions or when internal data is not available or not significant enough to be successfully analyzed (i.e. for smaller-size properties).ConclusionWhile internal data has higher priority, both categories are important and both need to be in the equation when calculating optimal prices that lead to profit maximization for your property.
In the world of hospitality, digitalization opens up many more opportunities than having robots manning the reception and the myriad similar visions rooted, at least a little bit, in science fiction. Instead, the sustainability benefits extend to an overall healthier workplace environment, write Verena Vinke and Marc Wagner of Detecon International GmbH, and Jakob Schofer and Martin Pietzonka from the Innovation Center Connected Living e.V.
Guesty Inc. 28 December 2017
We have all seen elements of the hospitality industry stepping up and providing shelter for those who have needed it, and we've witnessed some lovely examples of kindness, compassion and care. The importance of good hospitality and providing exemplary guest experience is most important in times of crisis and need.Guesty was recently contacted by Boaz Sobrado, one of our Guesty clients based In Cuba. Boaz is the co-founder of CubaPura, a company that helps Cubans market tourism services and vacation rentals, online. Guesty is a cloud-based solution designed to simplify property manager's operations all in one platform and allow the management of listings from multiple accounts like Airbnb, Booking.com and other vacation rental booking channels.In September, due to Hurricane Irma, most guests who had booked to travel to Cuba cancelled their reservations. This in itself, put many of the local hospitality businesses in a financially difficult position.One hospitality business that was impacted by the hurricane was the Baylac family, one of CubaPura's most beloved hosts. Owners, Jenny and Jorge, are so loving to their guests, so attentive to their every need, that not a single person has given them anything less than a 5-star review. They are the type of hosts that go out of their way to provide an exceptional experience for their guests.Unfortunately, because of it's location next to the seafront in Havana, the Baylac's property was severely damaged from the flooding.Boaz wanted to do something to help the Baylac family and felt sure that their past guests would want to help too. As most of that Baylac's guests had booked through Airbnb, where there is no shared contact information, Boaz would not have been able to trace the contact details of past guests.Using Guesty's Address Book feature, Boaz was able to track contact details of guests who have stayed at the property. Through the Guest Book feature, Boaz was able to export a list of 60 phone numbers of guests who had previously stayed with the Baylac family and over the course of the weekend he contacted all 60 guests by SMS and asked if they would like to help support the Cuban family. Amazingly all 60 wanted to help and donated to a GoFundMe page.This story is a lovely example as we come to the close of 2017 of how both owners, managers and guests can look out for each other. It also shows the wider ripple effect of providing a top-notch guest experience and how important it can be to keep an open communication channel between accommodation providers and guests.You can read the full story of Boaz and the Baylac family on our blog.
INTEREL By Florian Kriechbaumer
The majority of energy related activities in hospitality fall under the remit of engineering and facility management teams, whose approach is no longer limited to mechanical and physical activities, but needs to be driven by technology, connectivity and data. As INTEREL's Florian Kriechbaumer explains, this presents numerous opportunities for the Internet of Things to come into play.
SiteMinder 22 December 2017
The situation created by the pro-independence referendum in Catalonia not only affects Spanish citizens; it also has an effect on people of other nations - whether or not those nations are members of the EU. Many international tourists travel every year to Catalonia, holidaying in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, skiing in the Catalan Pyrenees or sunbathing in the beaches of the Costa Brava, among other beautiful corners of the region, making me wonder what effect the independence of Catalan will have on tourism within the region - and, indeed, within Spain more broadly.In October, the referendum caused many hotels in Catalonia to suffer from booking cancellations. While we can see the situation has stabilised somewhat, the industry is still registering an unusual drop in the number of rooms booked. If we focus only on the city of Barcelona, not surprisingly visits to the most popular location in the region (and Spain) are around 4% less than this same time last year.Volume of guests aside, the region's hotels are also worried by their RevPAR, which has dropped 2.8% in spite of predictions it would increase 7%. Cancellations have forced many hoteliers to reduce their prices and still it seems the market is scrambling to achieve at least 50% occupancy levels this Christmas.Of the more than 75 million travellers who visited Spain last year, 18 million visited Catalonia, signifying the importance of tourism for the country, the role it plays in creating employment and also the problem it can create for travel companies if international travellers decide to spend their holidays elsewhere.WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?I read recently that Netflix is producing a documentary about the current situation in Catalonia with the aim of explaining the situation's origins and how we arrived at where we are now. While it's a great opportunity to learn about and understand the conflict, it begs the question: how does one go about capturing a situation as complex as this, in a world where everyday citizens, governments and nations are closer than ever, and where social media has become the source of seemingly-authentic, real-time reporting? You only need to take one step into Las Ramblas in Barcelona to find people from all over the world, from Germany and Mexico, to France, the USA, Japan and the UK.What happens to this mix if border controls are enforced? Will Barcelona soon lose its position as one of the most visited cities in Europe? What would that mean for the Catalonian region's 5,700 hotels - and restaurants?Time and time again, I am asked which side of the fence I sit on, and the truth is: I sit on neither. However, I do think about the potential consequences of a situation created by few and affecting so many.Catalonia offers incredibly rich cultural, historic and gastronomic traditions which, in themselves, are attractions to travellers from all over the world. They, I believe, are the true wealth of the region's cities and are ultimately what allow local hotels to achieve their full potential year-on-year.If I'm certain of one thing, it is that no one knows what will happen in Catalonia, not even following this week's election.WHAT CAN HOTELS DO?The future for local hotels is even more bleak, but there are steps they can take to ensure they continue to provide guests the best possible experience. Here are just a few:Remain helpful and be empathetic. If a guest calls to cancel a booking, because of what they've seen in the news, sell the features and benefits of your hotel and stay away from discussing the conflict. Make your guest feel assured, safe and welcome. This will help not only your bookings, but subsequent reviews on TripAdvisor, social media and OTAs.Offer competitive pricing without falling into the trap of discounting too heavily. Short-term adjustments can produce gains for the longer term.Employ powerful distribution and booking technology. This is key at any time of year, but especially during uncertain times like these. Broaden and diversify your distribution to increase your reach and visibility online. And, make sure travellers have a way to book with you directly.SiteMinder is proud to have many thousands of hotel customers located right across Spain, within and outside of Catalonia, because it isn't only during tourism booms that hotels benefit from our support; arguably, it's during times of uncertainty such as these that we really see the power of technology. No matter the situation, our technology makes hotels visible to travellers from all over the world and gives them the best chance to keep business alive. We saw that during the recession - when hotels weren't able to afford any other kind of online marketing - and if we are to see it again, we will be there.This article was originally published as "Cataluna no solo es relevante, es necesaria y, si no, que se lo digan a Netflix" in SmartTravelNews.
hospitalityPulse, Inc. 18 December 2017
Controlling costs and expenses is one of two ways hotels have of increasing profit margins, which are among the tightest of any industry. Often in the past, hoteliers cut rates in order to increase gross revenue, but this comes at the high cost of reducing profitability per booking. With rooms bringing in 68.1% of total operating revenue, according to the 2016 edition of Trends in the Hotel Industry (far more for limited service hotels), any impact to rooms revenue can have a staggering effect.CBRE's Robert Mandelbaum and Gary McDade note that "Even more impressive than the contribution of rooms revenue to total revenue, is the influence of the rooms department on hotel profitability... In short, as the rooms department goes, so goes the hotel." We've put a lot of energy into revenue management, the front end of room's division profitability, but what about the losses that happen thereafter? We don't speak to those very often. We talk about efficiencies--doing more with the same amount of resources--but we don't address the leaks. Maybe it's because we don't know where the leaks are. It's not that we don't care about losing money as much as it is that we don't know how, or where, or even that we're losing it.Here's what to consider about identifying and rectifying losses in the rooms division.TrackingIt's easy to identify a problem when housekeeping is taking as long on a stay-over as on a turnover day. You can see this problem, count the minutes, and then resolve the issue. It's trackable, and thank goodness, because this is a leak that adds up quickly when you multiply by a few hundred rooms each day.Consider your rooms, however. Are you able to track the way that guests are checked into their rooms? Are you able to see if an alternative was available yesterday at 3 p.m. when your front desk agent didn't have a Deluxe available for a confirmed guest and, instead, booked them into a Standard room? Are you able to uncover why the requested Deluxe room wasn't available? (Were other guests upgraded during the previous days causing the impasse? Was there an alternative to downgrading the guest when she was checked in?). Tracking rooms is maybe the most fundamental strategy toward identifying room's division losses because these losses are occurring every single day and they can amount to a substantial amount.StandardsLet's say that half of guests are putting shampoo bottles in their bags when they arrive, and housekeeping is bringing fresh ones every day. A leak. Some will suggest that you can save money on shampoo by installing a dispenser. However, then there's your branding to consider? Do your guests really want a shampoo dispenser in the shower? That's the thing about fixing the leaks. You must maintain--or improve, whenever possible--your standards while plugging the drain.The same goes for solving problems with guests by upgrading. The front desk should have it top-of-mind that rooms are not a free solution to a guest complaint. They should also be able to see with crystal clarity that the upgrade they are offering a guest is reserved tomorrow or the following day. Too many complimentary upgrades become losses not so much because they would have been reserved at the last minute (though this does happen), but because they are affecting reservations for days out.MonetizeWhat about those rooms with balconies? Your rooms have beautiful views, and it's a quiet neighborhood (these things are quantifiable), but you're giving balcony rooms away pell-mell to guests who may or may not care for one when there are guests who would have paid extra for it. When you don't take advantage of your assets, you are losing money. Take stock of your property and sell your features.A while back I came across an article about the top ten ways hotels are losing money. Only one of them--just 10% of the list--had to do with the rooms division, and it was about laundry. "As rooms go, so goes the hotel," so why aren't we figuring out where the problems are in rooms? Because we don't know how (at least, not until recently. Read about that here.)If you don't know what is happening in the most fundamental product delivery of your hotel, chances are you're losing money. These losses will become make-or-break in the near future despite the fact that the hotel industry is performing at record levels. Expense growth (4%) is outpacing revenue growth (2-3%), and the most considerable expense at any hotel is labor, most of which falls under rooms. Better training in the rooms division, creating awareness of the compound effects of their daily decisions, along with better tracking technology can close some of this expense gap and recoup profits due to unknown leaks in the most important revenue-generating department on property.
MicroMetrics 18 December 2017
Since its beginning, the hotel industry has constantly evolved and transformed to meet the changing needs of travelers. While the industry has always been innovative, the recent advancements in technology have catapulted the industry into unprecedented change.Starting as a necessity for wandering travelers, the hospitality industry has certainly come a long way. However, before we can predict the future of the industry, it's important to understand the current trends in the hospitality industry and how it grew into the billion dollar industry it is today.The PastSince our ancestors roamed the Earth, people have been providing hospitality. However, the experience a guest may have had centuries ago is quite different than the one we experience today.In early biblical times, "hotels" were mainly hospitable townsfolk who opened their homes to weary travelers. Most visits lasted only one night, with the guest continuing their travels in the morning. In comparison, villages in early Greece built thermal baths for travelers to rest their joints and muscles. These travelers did not spend the night, the baths simply provided them with the recuperation they needed. It wasn't until the year 1200 more permanent hotels were built. Though they were modest structures, they lay the foundation for the intricate hotel facilities we're accustomed to today.The 15th century saw a breakthrough in the hotel industry. French law required hotel managers to keep track of guests through a registry, to which other countries soon followed. More hotels were built, each with an increased focus on guest amenities. The next century saw the introduction of hotel advertising, with the first "guidebooks" published promoting the best establishments. Another major development occurred during the Industrial Revolution. The century's technological, economical and social developments made travel more accessible for all people, not just the wealthy.This momentum continued into the 20th century, where the population increase, urbanization and economic prosperity in industrial nations prompted further growth from the hospitality industry. This increase in demand triggered more properties to open and encouraged diversity.While the hospitality industry has only continued to grow since, the current trends in the hospitality industry still reflect the needs of society.The PresentFlashforward to today, travel is even more frequent. The hotel industry has continued to evolve alongside changing demographic trends and technological advancements and became a highly complex segment of the economy. Now, the current trends in the hospitality industry revolve around comfort and exceptional guest service.As shown throughout its history, the hospitality industry is constantly changing. For hospitality professionals to remain competitive, it is ever more crucial to stay current on the trends in hospitality 2018.The FutureWith that in mind, hospitality professionals all over the world are wondering: "what is the future of hospitality?".While nothing can be determined for certain, the opportunities and threats listed in the above infographic will definitely play a major role and be trends in hospitality 2018. As a company deeply rooted in the hospitality industry, we also asked ourselves: "what is the future of hospitality?". To answer, we took matters into our own hands and created The Future of Hospitality 2018 Research Report, the industry's first data-driven look into the future of hospitality.This report will provide concrete data detailing the predicted path and future of the hospitality industry, as well as list promising areas of business growth & investment opportunities and threats to keep on your radar.To receive this in-depth report for free, simply contribute your own valuable insights and join the community of hospitality professionals dedicated to bettering the industry.Gain free access to The Future of Hospitality 2018 Research Report: Click here to contribute.
Zingle 15 December 2017
Chatbots have begun to shape almost every area of our lives. From menial tasks like providing weather forecasts to helping us make important financial decisions, and even replicating yourself, there seems to be no limit to what chatbots can help us do.One area that has seen a particularly noteworthy explosion of bots is the travel industry. From Expedia's Facebook Messenger hotel search chatbot, CheapFlights' big personality flight and hotel bot, to Carla, the personal travel assistant who can help you pack for your trip, travel and, hospitality companies are investing a lot of resources into creating chatbots to assist us along our journeys.Putting Travel Bots through the Holiday RingerWith more than 100 million Americans preparing to travel this holiday season, this time of year is the barometer for the state of the travel and hospitality industries.This year it will also be a measuring stick for how travel chatbots are performing today and a window into how they could evolve the traveling experience for the better in the future. Let's take a look at the current state of holiday travel with chatbots and where they may take us.Automating Instantaneous TravelGoogle released data earlier this year that found 60% of travelers would impulse-book a trip. That research also found a 150% surge in travel-related searches for "today" and "tonight". The move towards last-minute and nearly real-time travel booking puts a crunch on airlines, hotels and other travel-related services trying to answer consumer requests with a human hand or a traditional, pull-based, website.Human support worked in the travel space when travel was more about the weeks and months ahead. As the mobile internet has transitioned travel into an industry that is more about the hours and even minutes ahead -- seconds matter. And simply put, a human can't be available 86,400 seconds a day. Therefore, making a human the gatekeeper of real-time bookings turns them into a bigger roadblock than a helper. The same could be said of web-based travel services that rely on pulling large swaths of information out of travelers to suggest and book trips.As nearly 40% of online travel sales come to mobile devices, chatbots are best positioned to automate instantaneous travel. Of course, companies like Airbnb and Hotel Tonight are already capitalizing on this shift towards more real-time travel. However, chatbots can turn real-time booking on its head by both automating the entire experience and pushing more relevant information in front of travelers.Take the Skyscanner chatbot for instance. Via a streamlined chat field on Facebook, you can simply type where you are headed and when -- in the same way you'd text your husband, wife or favorite travel companion. From there, the bot will quickly text back your options. And, if you're not sure where to go just type 'anywhere' and the bot will serve up some recommendations for you. This is an example of why in the future ease of use will be a 'nice to have' for travel chatbots, but the speed of booking will be key.The Personal Chatbot ConciergeThe majority of travel bots today are designed to help us get to our destinations. However, in the future, bots will also be adept at enabling us to get the most out of our journeys once we've arrived.With hotel bookings on mobile devices up 67% in the U.S. last year, hotel guests -- especially younger guests -- are primed for mobile messaging interaction with their hotel upon check-in. A survey we commissioned with Google last month of 824 prospective hotel guests found that 52% of millennials would rather chat by text message with hotel staff versus talking over the phone.As guests move towards preferring this type of chatbot interaction on site, it's easy to envision a not so distant time where IoT devices are merged with automated travel bots, creating tour guides that are with you every step of your trip.Waking up on the first morning of a Christmas vacation in Europe and not sure what to do? Simply ask your voice-enabled travel bot on your smartwatch to automate an itinerary, and guide you along your day. The key to this working effectively is personalization.For a bot to be able to plan an unforgettable day in a foreign country it needs to have much more than access to reviews and recommendations. It needs a real understanding of who the traveler is -- from their personality and past behaviors to purchase habits and overall communication preferences.Take things a step further, a bot that is integrated with your health app could make itinerary decisions based on things like lack of sleep (recommending activities that don't require a lot of energy), high cholesterol (providing a list of restaurants with healthy options), and many other things that wouldn't require you to cut corners on your health regimen during vacation.And with international travel projected to increase by 35% over the next decade, designers would do well to program their bots to make traveling overseas a smoother process for the linguistically challenged. While there are plenty of translation bots out there, imagine a bot that can not only plan your day and get you to where you need to go, but one that can instantly translate the words spoken to you and help you reply in the native language of wherever you are.Jet-Lagged Language ProcessingWhile chatbots have the potential to disrupt the travel experience for the better, and offer businesses worldwide the chance to save $8 billion annually by 2022, there are some issues that need to be addressed before they can bring us directly into travel's future.Chatbots were created to make things easier. However, in many cases their interactions can actually have the opposite effect. This is why 40% of a bot's users only interact one time. There are several factors that contribute to this high rate of churn.For one, the majority of bots today are based on a decision-tree logic, where the response given by the chatbot is based on specific keywords that the communicant uses. This means that a given bot's effectiveness is directly correlated with the skill and thoroughness of their designer to program for a seemingly infinite amount of use cases and inputs. Given the range that needs to be accounted for, especially in a complex environment such as travel where variables can change at a moment's notice, it's no surprise that bots make mistakes.For that reason, some of the most successful chatbots are transparent with their users and make it clear that they are not speaking with another human. In that use case, they are perfect for customer-centric travel organizations.They are 24/7 frontline customer care specialists that even in their early stages are adept at handling basic queries on demand. Frequently asked questions, such as "what restaurants are nearby?" can be answered with the timeliness that customers expect today. From reducing overhead to improving customer service, there's no doubt that chatbots are already making a positive impact on the travel experience.Chabots have enormous potential to improve the travel industry. While companies should be commended for experimenting with and developing chatbots today, it's important that they don't lose sight of what humans are best at; providing personalized experiences.So if you're using bots to help you travel to family for holidays, maybe in Memphis, just understand that you're dealing with a robot and not a human. Otherwise, you might end up having a very lonely holiday in Memphis, Egypt.Ford Blakely is the CEO and founder of Zingle, a two-way, business-to-customer messaging platform for leading hospitality companies.
Tink Labs Limited 15 December 2017
Implementing the right technology allows hotels to address evolving needs of guests while delivering attractive return on investmentWith over half of hotels (57%) poised to spend more on technology in 2017 than they did last year, hotels are looking for fresh ways to deliver high-quality experiences to keep pace with rising customer expectations.While most hotels are generally focusing on being "smarter" and "more innovative", the real burning questions are: how can hotels make sure their investments are worthwhile in the right technologies?1. Get to know your guests firstThe concept of putting the customer first is not new, but knowing how to stay relevant requires staying up to date with their evolving needs. Implementing the right technology allows hotels to focus on modern needs beyond what traditionally makes good service, such as offering travelers mobile check-in and check-out, virtual concierges and one-touch access to room facilities.Tink Labs' mobile hospitality solution, handy, provides hotel connectedness to guests inside or outside the property, ability to promote services that guests value, and access to guest analytics to gain a more comprehensive picture of how guests like to be served.2. Balance technology with the human touchTechnology should be an aid, not a replacement, for face-to-face staff and guest interaction. Person-to-person communication is an essential part of hospitality. Guests expect travel tips, attentive services and friendly, personal interactions as part of their hospitality experience.The balance is in finding technology that complements human interactions and vice versa. With handy's 'Push Messaging' feature, staff can share promotions and offers with guests, while 'handy Chat' keeps guests connected to the front desk or concierge at all times - providing tips on where to eat, what to buy, or simply to order an extra pillow in the middle of the night.According to the 2017 Lodging Technology Study.3. Invest in mobile based technologiesMobile technology has changed the way we live. The travel and hospitality business is no exception. Mobile makes a direct impact on how guests interact and consume. Guests expect more than just WiFi - they want all services at their fingertips at all times.Mobile based technologies have the advantage of familiarity and convenience. With handy's preloaded apps, curated city guides and maps, guests can find out about the city, decide what to do, where to go and where to shop - with all the convenience mobile technology brings.4. Try before you commitThe complexity of integrating multiple systems is probably the biggest problem hoteliers face when deciding which technologies to invest in. Integration difficulties, coupled with high costs, mean that choosing a solution that works smoothly with existing systems can be costly and diminish returns on investment.More and more hotels prefer plug and play solutions to test technology and assess returns. Once the concept is proven to meet objectives (which in most cases is superior guest satisfaction) then hoteliers can think of seamless integration with their other systems.5. Future-proof your technology investmentsThink about which parts of your business you are trying to improve by using the technology, and look for one integrated system that could manage this. It might seem like a larger investment at first, but continuously updating hardware and software, and taking the time to train each staff member, can be tedious, risky and not cost effective. An integrated platform that provides for most of your innovation needs under one hood, can be a more efficient, reliable, future-proof solution.
Bizzmark 14 December 2017
When strategising about the optimisation of your hotel's revenue streams, hotel parking and its lucrative opportunities rarely come to mind. For most hotel managers, the parking they offer to their visitors is not only complementary and an essential part of the service, but it is rarely considered a multi-million feature that it actually is. Or rather, that it can become.On an annual level, you hotel's parking can rack up tens of thousands of dollars, if not millions if your business takes off, and in order to exploit and maximize this lucrative opportunity you need to implement the following steps. Here is how to boost the revenues of your hotel parking.Embrace parking technologyFirstly, the majority of hotel parking charges are based on an honour system that doesn't work, and that never will. Charging for parking only to your guest that admit to having a car and failing to monitor your daily parking occupancy can cost you thousands of dollars on a weekly basis.More than 50% of visitors will park for free any given day, and by simply introducing a parking access and revenue control system (PARCS) you will not only eliminate unauthorised parking, but you will also be able to charge a valuable feature. This will help you pull in more revenue to better your business across the board.Revenue control and guest parkingRather than thinking of your parking space as a complementary amenity, you need to think of it as a small gold mine ready to be dug out. This will help you maintain the quality of your overall service, but also invest time and resources in training your staff to handle parking logistics and finances rather than just watching over the parking lot.Your parking department staff also needs to be well-versed in the associated parking accounting processes and front desk management systems so that guest arrival and departure can be monitored effectively. This will help you optimise event parking and fees as well.Parking maintenance and upkeepOne of the most important aspects of a profitable parking lot is its regular maintenance and upkeep. In order for your guests to want to park and more importantly, pay for your parking service, the lot itself needs to be in stellar condition.To this end, you want to adhere to regular cleaning and upkeep with water hoses, and promptly fix any surface damage with floor coatings to protect the parking area from further wear and tear. Also, as aesthetic appeal and lot quality plays a key role in monetising your hotel's parking, make sure you use a durable line marking paint that delivers long-term performance under any weather conditions.The "problem" with parking feesA major problem in the hotel industry is managers not charging for their parking at all, as they fear that doing so will deter their potential customer from staying and that they will opt to go to their competitors. This is, although arguably valid, a mindset that is setting you back.While customers don't like paying for extra features if they don't have to, they will readily do so if your brand portrays an image of trust and quality. If every single one of your services is second to none, including your parking, your prospective customers will have no problem paying a little extra as long as the price is reasonable. Simply conduct your own market research and figure out your fee based on what the competition is charging.Complimentary parking and discountsFinally, discounted and complimentary parking are great ways to attract guests and spread the word of your hotel as a fine choice in the industry. However, these practices must be implemented strategically, as you would strategize about offering any other benefit to your customer.Think about it, if you would strategize how much it pays off to offer free drinks after 10PM, why wouldn't you do the same for your parking? Consider who is visiting, how many people they are bringing, and how long they will be staying. Sometimes a discount is perfectly fine, but with high-priority guests, offering free parking is one of the best decisions you can make.Hotel parking is often an unexploited revenue pool that could transform your business and put you on the fast track to success. Use these essential tips to strategically implement parking charges and optimise your parking revenue streams.
Cendyntm 14 December 2017
1. In your opinion, what are the top three trends that hoteliers should be aware of going into 2018?The evolving nature of the guest experience and keeping up with guests' needs and expectations is a huge focus for the hospitality industry. For a hotel, managing the customer relationship is one of the most critical elements of gaining and increasing loyalty, and yet can be the most difficult for hotels to master, as customers interact with them via a burgeoning number of contact points: email, mobile, social media, at the front desk and throughout the hotel property. Never before has technology played a more important role in improving what is ultimately the human experience of hospitality, both in terms of curating and providing it, but also in the way that customers express their gratitude for that experience in the form of loyalty. Secondly, understanding the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and how that can focus and positively affect the interaction between the guest experience and the hotel. The focus for technology companies serving the hospitality industry is to enable hotels to communicate more effectively with their guests so that they are able to deliver the right message to the right person, at the right time and importantly through the right channel for that guest. With GDPR coming into effect in May 2018, never before has it been so important for hotels to ensure their communication with the guest is relevant and the data they store about a guest is compliant with these new regulations. Lastly, a key focus is personalization. Technology companies will need to work more closely together for the benefit of mutual customers to enable personalization between the hotel and their guests. Customer relationship management (CRM) is no longer just a tool for the sales and marketing departments, CRM is a tool that benefits the operations, revenue management, and distribution departments as well. Because of this, hotels are looking to integrate CRM with their other technology vendors as well, bringing the various data sources into one central place to create a single version of truth about that guest. This enables greater personalized communication between the hotel and the guest. For example, integrating a CRM to a revenue management system has enabled our customers to now offer personalized pricing based on the guests' profile including the recency, frequency and monetary value of that guest to the hotel.2. What is the biggest challenge the hospitality industry is facing? One of the biggest challenges, and opportunities, is how small our planet has become and ultimately how that has made travel easier and more accessible than ever before. This challenge opens up a wealth of opportunity but every culture and guests' needs are different. The industry needs to be mindful of this when managing travel and guest experiences on such a scale. Combine this need with the GDPR regulations coming into effect in 2018, it is imperative that hotels are working with CRM solution providers to ensure the guest profile data is accurate, communication is effective and profile data is managed in compliance with the new regulations.3. In the next 5 years, what role do you see Cendyn playing in the hospitality industry?CRM has become front of mind for hoteliers across the globe. Not just because of its ability to process data and provide a clear, digestible view of that data, but because it is the only way to process data from multiple technology platforms within a hotel and then provide a single version of truth for every guest. This has become imperative for hoteliers who want to provide a truly personalized experience, drive loyalty to their brand and stay competitive. In the next five years, this will become even more apparent as guests become savvier and demand more from their travel experiences. For hoteliers to stay ahead of the curve, we've seen that using data to pave the way in how hoteliers communicate with their guests has revolutionized how they can learn more about guests' interactions, drive direct bookings, maintain brand presence with their most valuable guests and stay competitive in their market. Our continued investment enables hoteliers to keep their guests at the forefront of what they do, and concentrate on providing exceptional, personalized customer service at all times. And as AI becomes more of the norm, hoteliers will need to embrace the ability to use machines/technology to aggregate information and learn from data to provide a seamless experience for every guest.
DataArt 14 December 2017
While AR and VR have a lot in common, they could also lead us down totally different paths. Augmented reality is a synthetic, computer simulated reality or recreation of a real-time environment where a user can interact with the replicated real environments, whereas virtual reality is entirely immersive.It is understood that both VR and AR have their unique applications, but right now, the latter is proving to be much more traveler friendly. The use of VR can be very attractive when used as a way to entice a prospective traveler or group buyer to give them visibility into your property look and feel. It can also be leveraged as a proactive sales tool, and in fact - it should be used in this manner. Selling space for conferences, weddings, and larger group bookings can be managed and results delivered with virtual reality. The big shift towards AR occurs when we look at how to impress the physical traveler. When it comes to impressing the individual traveler, augmented reality is definitely where it's at!There are many app development companies in the hotel and travel space that are implementing AR into their platforms. The goal of these innovations is to amplify the traveler or guest experience. Including data that is delivered via a mobile solution is certain to pique the interest of almost every leisure and business traveler. AR information can be consumed to make a business trip more efficient or productive, but it is also in place to educate and make a leisure trip much more interesting.Some of the ways that AR can impact a trip are:It can show directions and routes to the tourist.It helps to translate the signs on the boards while traveling.It gives the travelers a detailed information about sightseeing at a particular location.It helps the users to track and guide the locations by adding the layer of AR technology.It provides a new cultural experience to the mobile app user.A great example of this functionality is illustrated in the image below (mtrip):mtrip, based out of Montreal, Quebec has been in the location guide/technology business for quite some time, and they are beginning to perfect the implementation and delivery of AR to impact the guest journey directly. This is the essence of AR. It needs to be impactful to be widely adopted. It also has to be incredibly in-depth so as not to leave out information that a traveler seeks. It may be the evolution to a predictive environment that ultimately makes the adoption of AR by the traveler or guest a top priority. Once the persona or details of the guest and their individual likes or wants is applied, it will be much easier to deliver relevant information to them. This approach is far more effective than the delivery of just generalized information.Some of the challenges that face the AR travel world are significant. One of the biggest involves the cost of developing the content. In a Lifestyle Magazine article, DestinationCTO founder Alex Bainbridge brought a dose of reality to the Travel Tech portion of WTM in London. He noted that creating high-quality AR and VR content is expensive in today's current environment and that he looks forward to the time when independent tour providers and hotels can all participate in these technologies. Bainbridge explains, "Technology teaches us something. 10 to 15 years ago a content management system was $1 million now you can use systems such as WordPress for free. When technology is expensive, it's winner takes all which means the big intermediaries."While VR and AR have been a hot topic for a while, the next few years will see an explosion in applications, innovations, and revenues in the category. The travel industry is merely scratching the surface with these technologies, and there is still a great deal of groundwork to be done in delivering the optimal VR or AR experiences. Technical issues posed by AR are of a very different nature than in other technologies. Though the challenges can be overcome, companies delving into this space will need to stay focused on the emerging expectations of today's travelers and guests in order to successfully develop relevant offerings and meaningful content. They will also need to fully appreciate both the technological and human engineering requirements that are necessary to create engaging solutions that provide value and reach mass adoption.With technology changing so fast, it's hard to imagine what's coming next. Your imagination may very well be the limit and seeing the game-changing potential for augmented reality in travel and hospitality isn't hard.
L. Aruna Dhir 13 December 2017
The Bottom line is almost always the plank from which business strategies spring up and from where Company Vision gets its focus. And to keep a healthy bottom line, hotel companies must always endeavour to retain their leading position (if they are market leaders; otherwise aspire to be one), increase their market share and always stay ahead of their Competition.With 2018 close on our heels, a lot of the industry mavens and trend forecasters are working overtime to predict what will be the new developments, what will last and what will be thrown into the relics of history. Yet, it is a given that the virtues that have stood the test of time continue to guide brand growth and brand relevance.Below follow five basic and essential steps to keep you ahead of your game, regardless of your geopolitical, cultural, time-driven coercions -1. TQC - Total Quality ControlThis is what separates the grain from the chaff. Your quality consciousness is one singularly important facet that puts you on top of the heap, regardless of your size, location, features or specialty.I am completely swept off by hotels that do not drop the ball in the faultless crustiness and chewiness of breads in the morning baskets, in the perfect grainy texture of their mustard, the freshness of ALL fruits and cheese and cold cuts on the vast buffets, the crispness of their fresh smelling, spotless linen, the perfect point on which their temperature control rests, the poise and the pleasant disposition of the immaculately trained staff, the little thoughtful gestures exhibited at welcome and turndown. I appreciate these much more than the design, the period or modern furniture, the art deco objets d'art, the number of awards showed off in their press gallery.I am of the strong contention that if hotels and the big guns that run them can ensure quality control in the tiniest of facets then they have definitely got the big picture right. Those who aim for the surface sheen, the outwardly, the meatier in-your-eye things and skim over the finer aspects are quite missing the point.2. Competition CheckThose of us in Public Relations and Sales & Marketing have the privilege of enjoying a great perk at least on the up side; until it comes down to hard work and serious study that is tagged to it. Great because it entails wining and dining at competition hotels! The somewhat down side because it involves checking out the menu, the ambience, the rest of the accoutrements that form part of fine dining (this does take away the gay abandon with which we'd rather like to wine and dine), a kind of studious approach that the exercise lends to an evening we would wish to be carefree and the serious report that we must fill in and submit the next morning. Like us, our brethren from the Food & Beverage and Kitchens brigade are also extended ample opportunity within the month to dine several times at the fabulous places housed in other hotels in the city.Then there is the new hotel FAM that we go for to familiarize ourselves with the latest in town that will fight tooth and nail with us for the share of business our geographical location attracts.I remember on a sabbatical to the United States while working with a hotel chain, that was a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, I was encouraged by my boss to approach the other member hotels in the cities I was visiting across the east and west coast and seek a stay in order to check out their brand and product.Like with most other products - durable, FMCG, experiential, ethereal - it will always be imperative to know what and how well the Competition is doing.3. Brand BenchmarkingIn these tough times of economic recession, lack of guest loyalty, availability of too many options, advent of newer chains that come attached with the strings of their unique features and discerning facets, it makes a whole lot of sense to continually benchmark internally and raise the bar amidst the other players in the industry.Guests will stay with you for the overall goodness of your product and will return only when they see a different value for themselves from the rest of the pack that hounds and courts them and solicits their business.4. Eye for InnovationThere is always an opportunity to better your best; to present an idea in a more superior way than the next good guy in town. And that is where your inclination for innovation comes in. Faster Wi-Fi, more well-stocked mini bar, a much more improved in-house laundry, greater hassle-free check-in and check-out, far more efficient in-room and butler services, more refined ease of conducting business affairs while still in the Limo, a stellar guest history software that remembers every tiny detail about the guest - the penchant to reinvent yourselves and keep your R&D skills razor sharp will always stand you in good stead.5. Trending in TechnologyWhile with a lot of other things we can set our own rank (think permutations in infrastructure, preferences in design, choice of services' routine and template), with technology we can only follow what has been devised by the denizens of the Silicon Valley and madly copied and distributed in tech labs and IT firms.From Apple founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne down to Zuckerberg's Facebook, the A to Z of tech wizards are stumbling over each other to present the next big and better craze.While many other things are in our hands, technology is in the hands of those who dive deep into the sea of innovation and swim back with one magnificent creation after another. Withtechnology making the world smaller and hospitality always endeavouring to bring the world closer, it makes sense to keep up with the latest offering in personal and business technology, especially when the competition has just reworked and jazzed up their tech menu and offerings for the guests.The five above will always guarantee to keep your Brand alive and kicking, your think tank busy, your creative teams satiated, your employee base motivated and above all, your guests happy.When caught in the jargon of business theories and the loop spun by the new age witchdoctors; do reflect on these basic tenets and see how your business continues to thrive and outperform.Have a successful and satisfying 2018!
Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited 13 December 2017
But once the consumer purchases a specific room type, how do you entice them to spend a little extra to get something even better than what they've already confirmed? While there's the age-old approach of prompting them either through a pre-arrival email or phone call, or once they are physically at the front desk, many hotels are trying something new.Several chains now utilize programs that immediately offer all confirmed reservations a standby upgrade rate, typically at a discount versus the full upgraded cost. These programs can be quite effective in generating further revenue from participants. After all, ten bucks more for that better room (versus double that on the rate card) is better than nothing at all.As a personal example, consider my most recent flight to Los Angeles for which I booked an economy return fare. The email here was received shortly thereafter, offering me not only an opportunity to make an upgrade, but to competitively bid for this upgrade with other passengers. Thus, the upgrade decision was not a binary yes-or-no at a fixed price, but one that had a sense of play involved.Just like an online auction, I was notified each time my bid was beaten by another fellow passenger. Regretfully, I had a limited budget and ended up flying in the gulag. I do not know the exact value of the victorious bid, but my cut-off point was $250 each way and clearly this was not enough.The key component of any simple gamification like this is participation. Unlike a simple 'Do you want it at this standby price?' situation, involvement, variability and sense of control add to consumer excitement and interest. As with most games, there is an element of chance, thus the ubiquitous signoff of 'Good luck!' at the end of the email.Now imagine offering customers an opportunity to upgrade their superior rooms to deluxe, a suite or perhaps one of your signature rooms with a bidding system introduced? After the initial hurdle of setting this system up, your revenue management team can then easily control the situation, adding minimum bids and possibly a random success element as well as awarding one weekly participant with an upgrade at no incremental cost. Tangentially, imagine what this will do for your social media efforts when you post the weekly winner?The airline industry has shown strong leadership in yield management. Here is another idea that we can 'borrow' from them to add to our success. Now is the time to use the principles of gamification to your advantage.
Marriott 8 December 2017
Take a look at the past 25 years. Within that relatively short period, mobile devices have, overwhelmingly, been placed in the hands of consumers that empower them. They choose to research and plan their holidays online, pay for them the same way, and curate them via social media platforms. It's almost unthinkable that we used to store up our memories on 24-unit film rolls, hoping that they wouldn't get accidentally exposed, and then we'd have to get them developed before placing them in an album that we'd have to physically show to friends and family. Now, you can say, "hey, mom, look where I am today", from the other side of the globe.That's a simple illustration of consumer adoption of technology, but it mirrors the parallel adoption of tech within the hospitality sector.From facilitating guest experiences with feedback apps on property, to rolling out marketing campaigns based on data-driven insights about guests and then also providing slick payment options, it's all changed.Customer experience managementCustomer, or in our case, visitor experience management has taken over from customer service as a focus. Businesses recognise the need to personalise what they have on offer, since this is what the market expects. However, despite this knowledge of the need that exists, companies are lagging behind when it comes to strategic implementation of initiatives that work towards enhanced visitor experiences.In 2018 we expect to see CEM roles created within hospitality groups with this goal in mind. An entirely new career option that's been created upon demand. The Customer Experience Manager will be tasked with tracking the visitor's experience at all touch points and, where necessary, streamlining processes to improve on this. It's not just a customer-facing role (or for hotel professionals who do that), it's a behind-the-scenes examination of everything that goes into a hotel stay.Smart keys, connectivity, chatbots and appsConnectivity allows for many enhancements to the visitor experience, from smart keys that allow access to rooms from mobile devices to Instant Messaging apps that allow the visitor to communicate with hotel staff. Chatbots can reduce the time human agents have to spend dealing with inquiries by providing basic information via websites, or, if the bots are Artificial Intelligence-driven, perform more complex tasks.AI is key to data-driven business, since it can assist with workflow optimisation, route queries according the best agents to resolve them and refine processes, making it easier for hotels and customers to conduct business.Another application for a chatbot is in training - in a large, perhaps multi-national company where consistency is high on demand, it may not be possible to train thousands of people all at once on a new product, but a chatbot allows teams to receive training right where they are by asking it questions.Security and data protectionWhile on the subject of data, it's clear that hospitality businesses need to seal the places where personal data could leak. There have need numerous stories of data breaches in the news recently - it's no longer an option to secure your business and customer data - it's a must.Let's say your guest's personal information gets leaked. An unscrupulous hacker could call up a contact centre and use that information to answer security questions for the purpose of identity verification. A couple of minutes, and they could access online profiles, change details and passwords, effectively becoming that person.Hospitality companies can look towards more watertight forms of identity verification such as biometric identification. Voice authentication is one such solution that closes many of the security question loopholes, for example. It's fast, simple and secure, making the experience a far smoother, safer one for guests.Will we see Bitcoin and the wider Blockchain trust economy taking a stronger foothold in hospitality? It's highly likely, although, this is largely at the experimental or explorative phase, so we won't see Blockchain-based solutions being rolled out on a grand scale in the near future - but watch this space.It still comes down to trends - what visitors want and how to deliver that - but the options are so much more sophisticated now; we can reach our market in their own homes, on their devices, and speak to them in a language that appeals to them.