Plum · 19 Jun
Hoteliers, now more than ever, must demonstrate their ability to spend money the right way while building out multiple revenue-generating, guest-centric segments across their operational model. Food and beverage programs are often one of the most under-valued hospitality segments which can deliver a great deal of revenue potential — that is, if it's done correctly. According to speakers on an F&B panel at The 2017 Lodging Conference, hoteliers who are doing F&B best know how to combine trends with experiences to yield high-margin operations. Over the last few years, industry experts have predicted that traditional hotel food and beverage is on its way out. While most hotels still offer room service, food and beverage programs are now expected to evolve in tandem with modern guest expectations. Costly room service and mini-bars are — in the eyes of many — now an antiquated format, destined to be replaced by new, more progressive F&B concepts and personalized, guest-driven options. U.S. hotel food-and-beverage revenue per occupied room (F&B RevPOR) increased by 2.7% in 2018, according to total-year data from STR. However, within that increase, we saw a 4.2% decrease in In-Room Dining RevPOR. Room service, after all, represents a costly expenditure for hotels (often without the expected return) and mini-bars are notorious for lackluster performance and massive operational burden.
Plum · 5 Jun
When you hear the term 'upscale' or 'luxury travel' what comes to mind? At the Skift Global Forum in September, hospitality leaders from around the globe found themselves asking the question: How can upscale hotels redefine luxury and rise to the expectations of elite guests? After all, as the industry becomes increasingly more saturated and competitive, hoteliers will have to find new ways to interject 'luxury' touches, both big and small, across guest touch-points. In many cases, the focus might not be on grand gestures and amenities, but rather, thoughtful upgrades and exclusive perks for discerning travelers.
Plum · 22 May
Any hospitality professional knows that the modern traveler wants it all - but they also want it delivered in a faster, more efficient, and more attentive manner. As our world continues to change and adapt under the influence of increasingly automated, smart technology, consumer expectations, and trends are shifting in tandem. What was once the industry standard has, in many cases, been replaced by tech-enabled enhancements that provide instant gratification, simplified touch-points, and personalization. Consumers are used to ATMs at the bank instead of tellers, checking in for airplane flights online, and they are now looking for that same efficiency when they arrive at a hotel. No one wants to wait in line for the front desk anymore. Travelers especially are increasingly in favor of self-service platforms, and technology which taps into (and leverages) their data for a more refined, meaningful experience. This is further exemplified by studies revealing that when it comes to hotel guests, 63% prefer tech-enabled lobbies, and 84% prefer mobile check-in and check-out. However, in the case of hospitality, this brings hoteliers to a conundrum, of sorts. Sure, the modern guest craves an experience that is primarily defined by efficiency and instant gratification - but what about those traditional markers of great hospitality? If hotels empower guests to bypass the front desk and classic touch-points entirely, are they then missing out on the opportunity to engage with those guests? How can hotels find the balance between service that is as efficient and streamlined as it is attentive and memorable? Traditionally, the front desk marks an opportunity for hotel staff to make a lasting first impression; welcoming the guest by name to make them feel appreciated and at home. This was also a prime opportunity for staff to offer certain 'wow' moments, raging from personalized upgrades to complimentary glass of wine or champagne for loyal guests. Of course, these meaningful moments could be easily thwarted in the case of lines and frustrating delays or missed opportunities for personalization. If this is the dilemma which gave life to the self-service movement, allowing hotel staff to better focus their service efforts and guests to bypass notoriously time-consuming touch-points, how can hotels still go the extra mile for incoming guests? And to take this a step further - and by a step further we mean, what if we could extend this into each guest's room? As a matter of fact, we think there is - with the transformation of in-room beverage service by way of single-serve red or white wine by the glass via Plum. As hotels continue to evolve their in-room F&B strategy from traditional mini-bars with next-generation in-room appliances such as by the glass wine, we realize the unique opportunity to virtualize an amenity. That memorable gesture of a complimentary glass of wine offered at the front desk, whether to welcome a guest, reward loyalty or recover guest service, can still be fulfilled even without that physical touch-point at check-in. Considering that 80% of luxury hotel guests drink wine regularly, this represents an especially appealing service offering for leisure and business travelers alike. Now, let's tie this back to the initial discussion of the self-service model. The increasing guest demand for self-service technology is largely rooted in the desire for an efficient, seamless experience that offers enhanced autonomy. Ultimately, guests like to be in control - to be provided a service, yes, but in control. With the help of an in-room wine appliance, hoteliers can go the extra mile for guests with a special offer that is (a complimentary pour for example) completely self-service. Using the in-room device, guests can easily serve themselves a glass of red or white wine, chilled and on demand.
Plum · 30 Apr
Our world, and how we interact with it, is primarily defined by the digital transformation that constantly unfolds across industries and consumer touch-points. The 'hot' new product of two years ago, might no longer be available today. The traditional cassette tape player and Walkman were replaced by the once revolutionary iPod shuffle, which has since been replaced with iPhones brimming with complex capabilities. Blockbusters - once the highlight of Friday nights across many households - are now a distant, nostalgic memory. We accept food from 'strangers' in the form of Uber Eats drivers, and we ride with those same strangers when we hop in an Uber to get across a bustling city. We can shop at stores using mobile, hands-free checkout, and we can place an order without even lifting a finger by speaking to our voice-activated home assistant. From a consumer standpoint, a hyper-personalized experience has become the anticipated norm across industries. Consumers don't simply make purchases. They expect to engage and connect with brands in a way that wasn't previously possible. Times are constantly changing in this modern era. And yet, there exist a select few industries, platforms and processes that seem overtly resistant to the progressive trends that continuously transform everything else around us. This becomes especially apparent as we look to the hospitality realm, an industry which has commonly shied away from much-needed reform. For years, the guest experience was needlessly limited by legacy technology and traditional processes that merely failed to keep pace with evolving guest expectations. Fortunately, those days of drastically outdated platforms and processes seem to be (mostly) behind us, as hoteliers finally embrace a future of hospitality. A future which promises a more personalized, guest-centric, and ultimately frictionless experience. However, there still exists one exception to this rule - the arguably archaic (but seemingly unshakeable), the hotel mini-bar. You know - that cumbersome hunk of technology that often hums and purrs loudly from the corner of your hotel room, offering up a selection of $6 water bottles, $10 chocolate bars, and grossly overpriced beer, wine and liquor. It's become something of a sad hospitality staple, one which may only tempt indulgence at 2 am after a long night out that exceeded the operational hours of corner stores and local food establishments. Since it's global emergence in the mid-70s, hotel rooms ranging from luxury to family-friendly have included a stocked mini-bar as part of their offering. Amidst the many updates that have taken the hospitality industry and, respectively, the guest experience by storm, you might wonder - what is the mini-bar still doing here? Is it truly a revenue-generating proposition for hotels, and one which generates guest approval and satisfaction? Or is there a better way to appeal to guests' desire for instant gratification and 24/7 access? Basically, if the hotel mini-bar is the iPod shuffle of the hospitality industry, how does the new iPhone look? Identifying the Problem The hotel mini-bar wasn't always viewed with the modern apprehension it receives today. In 1974, the Hong Kong Hilton became the first hotel to include a "liquor-stocked" mini-bar in each of its 840 rooms, and it proved to be lucrative. In-room drink sales skyrocketed 500%, and the company's overall revenue rose by 5%. By 1980, mini-bars had been solidified as an industry norm across 4 and 5-star properties, seemingly peaking in their perceived popularity across guests and hoteliers alike. So, where did things take a turn for the worse? Not long after their initial adoption and surge in popularity, it became apparent to hoteliers that mini-bars invite several problems into a hotel's operational model. These problems include, but aren't limited to: - High labor demand/costs - Overstocking of goods which results in spoilage - Guest disputes or wrongful charges - High installation/removal costs - On-going maintenance of both automated and non-automated units Now, hoteliers are faced with the reality that mini-bars offer exceedingly low capture rates, making it hard to justify the cost to maintain them. In fact, in a 2012 survey, nearly 500 hotel owners unanimously agreed that re-stocking mini-bars was a "nightmare," and 84% reported they'd had guests dodge bills by stealing items and replacing them with inferior goods. Further, in a 2013 consumer study that surveyed some 20,000 travelers, the mini-bar was ranked as the "least important" amenity in a hotel room, with only 21% of respondents desiring one. This brings us to our current dilemma - If mini-bars have become such a tiny fraction of hotel revenue, commanding so much up-keep and trouble, are they worth the bother?
Plum · 17 Apr
No one ever said that running a hotel would be easy. With so many moving parts; attending to ever-evolving guest needs, creating a share-worthy property aesthetic, piecing together an all-star staff and creating a memorable travel experience can be a lofty (albeit rewarding) task. And yet, modern hospitality leaders are taking recent technological changes in stride to consistently create new-age travel experiences both on and off-property, while placing enhanced emphasis on guest personalization and creating a frictionless experience. It's this momentum that is propelling hoteliers towards an exciting hospitality future, one that boasts high expectations and equally high profit margins. However, how do we get there? What are the primary pillars to ensuring a property is on-trend and tapping into its true revenue potential? Let's break it down. Hoteliers - regardless of the size, type or scale of their property - have at least a few common goals:
Plum · 3 Apr
What does a memorable customer experience mean to you? This question inspires some of the most critical aspects of any business' customer-facing strategy, as brands constantly seek out new and improved ways to connect with modern consumers and create a lasting impression. When looking to sell a product or service, businesses should strive to not only inspire consumers to make the purchase but to ensure that the process of making that purchase caters to a larger (and ultimately memorable) customer experience that instills long-term loyalty. This proves especially true when we look at the hospitality realm. Travel is, in itself, an experience — one which begins long before a prospective traveler even clicks 'book now'. From the planning phase to post-trip, travelers are consumed with the potential (or the memory) of a certain experience. As travelers scroll through sprawling social feeds showcasing luxurious travel destinations, modern hotels and local experiences, hotels, and travel brands are implored to curate a trip that goes beyond perceived expectations. In fact, modern customers seem far less inclined to base their loyalty off a price or product — and instead, demonstrate loyalty to companies based on the end-to-end experience they receive. Not entirely convinced? Consider the following:
Plum · 19 Mar
How do you define luxury travel? It's a well-worn phrase, one which translates across industries and generations; but how can we truly understand such a subjective concept? With the increase in demand for unique and exotic holiday experiences, the luxury travel market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 6.83% globally. So the question becomes — Is luxury travel about the appearance of a hotel, or more about the service? Can it be attributed to the destination or the amenities? What about emerging technology, or local experiences? How can hoteliers ensure they are tapping into the potential of luxury travel and appealing to modern guests? Depending on who you ask, the key indicators and differentiators of a luxury travel experience may be different. But, at its core, luxury travel calls for a truly exceptional, memorable and otherwise unique experience. Modern travelers especially crave an accessible, new-age luxury experience that spans across the marriage of high-touch and high-tech service, local experiences, high-tech amenities and so much more. Modern luxury, if anything, is rapidly evolving within the hospitality realm, and hoteliers are heeding the demand to keep up with the trends. After all, in an industry that is constantly reinventing itself, it becomes paramount for hoteliers to keep their finger on the pulse of emerging guest demands. So, what are the key luxury travel trends hotels should watch in 2019? We're here to tell you.
Plum · 6 Mar
How exciting is it, to live in a time during which industries and brands are continually re-inventing themselves in tandem with the rapid evolution of technology and innovation(s)? Exciting — absolutely, but these frequent consumer-driven shifts also create a unique challenge for industries hoping to keep their finger firmly on the pulse of modern expectations. And with the influx of millennial consumers, it's not merely a matter of remaining technologically savvy — brands also need to demonstrate an understanding of generation-specific desires and preferred service models. In the case of hospitality, we arrive at the ultimate question; what does the modern guest look like? Is marketing to the millennial masses vastly different from previous generations? What trends are forecasted for 2019, and how will those affect travel and hotel brands in their pursuit of long-term guest loyalty? Luckily, we can shed some light on this topic. Millennials Millennials are inherently value-driven consumers. I don't mean value regarding the best perceived monetary value, though. Rather, I'm alluding to their desire to interact with brands who demonstrate an intimate understanding of their core values. In fact, millennial purchase behavior(s) are rooted in a different set of values than previous generations. These include: - Quality and variety
Plum · 21 Feb
When it comes to curating an exceptional guest experience from top to bottom, pre-stay to post-stay, hoteliers must pay mind to a number of factors and touch-points. What matters most to guests? Is it the property itself? Is it the local experience? Is it the room? Do they crave a more high-tech experience, or traditional high-touch service? What inspires guest loyalty in 2019?
Plum · 24 Jan
There's no denying it — the modern consumer wants what they want when they want it, and how they want it. We've long since entered the 'Age of the Customer' and, in that same breath, the 'Age of Personalization.' Regardless the product or service, success in 2019 (and we would surmise, beyond) will be largely dependent on a brand's ability to continuously forge personal connections with customers while offering a consistently frictionless and convenient experience. To remain competitive in today's real-time world, brands need to effectively anticipate and deliver personalized, on-demand, timely and inspiring experiences.
Plum · 3 Jan
At its core, great hospitality is centered around the provision of excellent guest service and the consistent curation of an experience that meets or, better yet, exceeds guest expectations. While the defining elements of that desired experience may differ depending upon the guest, hospitality in the modern age is largely centered around guest personalization.
Plum · 18 Dec
When we speak to modern guest expectations, a number of considerations come to mind. The mobile experience, the self-service model, advanced guest-facing technology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and hyper-personalization are just a few of the trends currently redefining the future of travel and hospitality. But as we continue to shift into this age of personalization and rising guest expectations, we arrive at the question — Is there an ROI to exceeding guest expectations?
Plum · 4 Dec
Let's take a moment and consider these scenarios: In the first scenario, you're in town on a business trip and having just landed from a long flight — coupled with a layover delay — you're ready to settle in for the night and finish off some work. After checking-in and collecting your things, you make your way to your room and do a quick scan of the amenities. There's a mini-fridge situated in the far corner of the room, and a room service menu left on a small coffee table. You roll your suitcase to its respective spot beside the bed, kick off your shoes and grab the menu to look through its offerings. It's been a long day, and a glass of wine sounds like a pretty tempting nightcap to pair with emails. But as you look through the menu, you consider the delivery charge, and the time it will take for that wine glass, wrapped in cling wrap, to actually end up at the door. 'Is it really worth it, for one glass of wine?' You ask yourself… In the second scenario, you roll your suitcase to its respective spot beside the bed, kick off your shoes and grab the menu to look through its offerings. However, something else catches your eye, first. You notice that your room features an automatic wine by the glass device, serving up a chilled and preserved bottles of red and white wine by the glass, on-demand. The decision is easy, you help yourself to a glass (tracked by a cloud service) and get going on those emails, wine in hand. We like the sound of the second scenario best, don't you? Over the years, the landscape of the in-room food and beverage experience has changed to meet the evolving needs and expectations of guests. We've witnessed the transition from the days of room service to mini-bars (with people to staff them), online ordering and now, in-room devices to cater to an on-demand experience. This comes as no surprise, as the travel and hospitality industry have, at large, adopted a more personalized approach as we continue to transition into the 'Age of the Guest'. With prospective travelers demanding more from the hotels they frequent, the ability to provide a seamless travel experience and responsive, on-demand service are more critical than ever before. In fact, according to studies, 54% of customers have higher expectations for customer service today compared to one year ago. Curating a seamless, service-driven food and beverage strategy becomes especially important to hoteliers when we consider the primary revenue streams hotels rely on. First, hotels generate revenue from initial bookings and, second, they generate additional revenue from each guest while on the property. This represents a wealth of opportunity for hotels to connect with the "new hotel guest" as we look to those travelers who not only expect an enriched food and beverage experience on the property, but also within the comfort of their room. So what does this have to do with wine, you might wonder? Well, a lot, actually. Online sales of beer, liquor and wine for delivery grew 32.7% in 2017, according to reports. By far the most popular kind of adult beverage bought on the web is wine, which represented more than 65% of online alcohol sales during the 25-month period. Again, this comes as no surprise, as we observe a consumer shift in favor of self-service technology and instant gratification. The installation of in-room appliances enable hotels to increase sales while offering unparalleled convenience and unique amenities. This keeps modern guests happy, while also helping to lessen the burden of cost associated with traditional food and beverage programs and upkeep. In today's world of instant gratification, there are new and innovative ways of delivering services and products that readily meet and exceed the expectations of guests. This is where Plum and the new wave of beverage service comes into play. Much like the rising popularity of Nespresso's in-room coffee service, Plum offers on-demand, chilled red or white wine, with cloud-based tracking of consumption to enhance in-room profit. Considering 80% of luxury hotel guests drink wine regularly, this represents an exciting opportunity to improve guest engagement, increase direct bookings and reduce labor costs. Moreover, for anyone thinking, 'Well, if there are restaurants and room service available on-property, why would guests be interested in an in-room wine appliance?" consider this: Hotels have been pushed to adapt their offerings based on modern consumers and their everyday habits. Once an admirable profit center, hotel revenue from traditional services such as phone calls, in-room pay per view movie rentals, and mini-bars are becoming a thing of the past. Today's guests are accustomed to sophisticated technology at home, and they expect it in their hotel room too. So, what do you say — are you ready to exceed guest expectations by offering the Plum experience? Click here to learn more.