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TripAdvisor has revenue elsewhere to thank as hotel growth remains flat

PhocusWire 14 February 2018
TripAdvisor turned in modest 5% growth in total revenue for 2017 but a notable 24% increase in revenue in its non-hotel category. In fact, the non-hotel segment, which includes attractions, restaurants and vacation rentals, now accounts for 23% of the company’s revenue. In 2014, non-hotel activity accounted for just 9% of total revenue.

China's road to becoming a technology superpower

PhocusWire 14 February 2018
It seems extraordinary now that Western travel brands were encouraged to "target" China and "make the most of the Chinese opportunity" - such was the naivety in the strategy that companies could simply bluster their way in. As we've since seen with the growth (and ambition) of Ctrip and others, it was the homegrown talent that always was one step ahead and could do a lot more, eventually, outside of the China's walls.

ALICE Named a "2018 Best Place to Work in Hotel Tech"

ALICE 14 February 2018
ALICE is excited to share it has been named a '2018 Best Place to Work in Hotel Tech' by HotelTechReport, for creating and maintaining a culture that fosters employee satisfaction along with business growth. HTR surveys thousands of hotel tech employees around the world about what it's like inside the operations of the industry's greatest technology companies. Being on this list is truly and honor and a testament to our commitment to our people.Like the industry we serve, hospitality is one of our core values. We continually aim to anticipate needs, build empathy, be generous, and most of all, be genuine. We believe it's important to act with integrity and to build relationships with the people around us. It all starts with our team."ALICE employees have autonomy to work from home when needed because management trusts that they've hired a team who will stop at nothing to become an industry standard in short order." --Hotel Tech Report"ALICE has prioritized scaling the company and protecting its culture as a pillar of its continued growth plan on a go-forward basis. Investments in people and technology to support growth and its culture are more evident than ever. We win when the team wins." --Ian Adelstein, ALICE Head of PeopleALICE has grown from 3 humble founders to a global team of 80+, since its inception in 2013. Our workforce has hubs in NYC, Los Angeles, Latin America, Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, and beyond. A goal of 100+ employees in 2018 requires special people to come aboard and contribute. We encourage you to reach out to our People team via the Careers webpage, directly via people@alice-app.com or by visiting HotelTechReport, Linkedin and Glassdoor to learn more about how you fit into our growth plan and apply. Every role is critical to ALICE's success. We hope you find your contribution and opportunities for personal and professional growth equally rewarding!

Flip.to joins OPMA, together sparking new conversations in travel marketing

Flip.to 14 February 2018
Flip.to--the advocacy marketing platform that helps reach, inspire and convert travelers worldwide--announced its membership with the Onsite Property Management Association (OPMA), a nonprofit and advocate for the rental management and condo hotel sectors representing a select 53,000 resort accommodation units. Flip.to will work in tandem with a collection of minds together aimed at bettering the travel space.Flip.to is thrilled to be joining the OPMA's exclusive roster of 37 suppliers personally invited to share membership with management companies across the US and globally who are focused on shaping the landscape of hospitality marketing and growing the industry as a whole. OPMA provides a network of partnerships, educational opportunities, and a forum for cooperative efforts to advance the rental market, emphasizing collective growth and mutual support. "It's easy to see where OPMA and Flip.to are aligned, with advocacy a cornerstone to both our identities," said OPMA Chief Marketing Strategist John Dalton about Flip.to. "Likewise, they have a drive to constantly improve marketing as we know it today. The Flip.to team has a deep understanding of not only the travel industry, but also the specific marketing challenges rental managers face daily, so we're glad to welcome them on board," said Dalton.The Flip.to platform empowers guests to share the high points of their stay throughout their traveler journey. Along the way, travelers introduce family and friends to resorts and vacation properties in an authentic and trusted way, reaching new audiences at an incredible scale--ahead of competitors and other dominant players. The platform earns and tracks new bookings while growing brand awareness, web traffic, and warm leads.Flip.to has made strides in enhancing the marketing efforts of hospitality providers across the travel industry, seeing incredible success in the vacation rental market. Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing, Maurice Arbelaez, of Millennium Management Corporation--founding member of OPMA and fellow customer of Flip.to--echoed this sentiment along with the value of membership for the advocacy platform."Flip.to is an example of an industry partner providing incredible value, promoting authentic perspectives on the resort from a trusted source--our travelers. This is key for professional management companies like Millennium who uphold the highest level of service, guest experience, and infrastructure," said Arbelaez."Likewise, these are the values that define OPMA, which is why their organization is key in helping leaders in our industry maintain these standards. We're excited to work together with partners who not only provide top-notch solutions that help highlight these clear differences, but also share a mutual interest in bettering the industry as a whole." Flip.to kicked off their participation with a speaking session at OPMA's 2017 leadership summit late last year. On attending, Richard Dunbar, Director of Partnerships at Flip.to, said, "We saw firsthand the significant value of membership with OPMA, from learning even more about the challenges within the industry to forming new connections and partnerships with those who hold a shared vision for the rental market. As we look forward to seeing the strides OPMA continues to make for rental management companies around the world, we're excited to now be a part of it!"To learn more about OPMA membership and its efforts within the rental management and condo hotel industry, visit www.theopma.org or contact John Dalton at jdalton@theopma.org.To get started with Flip.to for vacation rentals, the advocacy platform for that reaches, converts and inspires and entirely new global audience every day, visit http://www.flip.to/customers/vr, or contact Richard Dunbar at rdunbar@flip.to.About OPMAFounded in March 2014 as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, the Onsite Property Management Association (OPMA) is spearheading an effort to support the advancement of onsite rental property management companies. By providing education and advocacy, the OPMA will promote the value of the rental experience through onsite property management companies. By leveraging the collective experiences of industry veterans, this network of mutual support will elevate industry standards to ensure superior guest and homeowner experiences. The association is committed to providing a clear and cooperative message and to championing the growth and success of the industry.About Flip.toReach, inspire and convert an entirely new global audience of travelers every day with Flip.to.Flip.to lets travelers introduce hotels, vacation rentals, and destinations to the world, combining trust with massive reach to travelers just one degree away--warm leads who are the perfect fit. Start building your ever-growing team of advocates who turn meaningful moments into measurable ROI, and instantly see the unmatched impact when you switch on this entirely new channel.

Can I Get That Revenue Strategy to Go?

IDeaS Blog 14 February 2018
It only takes a few taps of a finger to learn a new language, virtually redesign your living room or order a personal driver—who can also bring you dinner. We are one generation away from having to explain the concept of a desktop computer to a child, and with every passing day, technology continues to push the boundaries of what is possible.

Ellenborough Park Hotel drive additional revenue through UpsellGuru and Guestline interface

Guestline Blog 14 February 2018
Ellenborough Park Hotel have harnessed the power of upselling and generated an additional £25,000 in the first 3 months through upsells including room upgrades and in room purchases thanks to the sleek partnership provided by UpsellGuru and Guestline. The interface, which is readily available by contacting the Guestline team, includes features such as automatically sending and receiving upgrade requests to a hotel’s targeted customers, upgrade bidding and add ons such as Breakfast, Wine, Champagne and Chocolates. It is customisable to display the hotel’s brand colours, logos and the products they want to sell.

Years in the Making, Revenue Strategy's Moment Has Come

Duetto Research Blog 14 February 2018
Years before we started Duetto, Marco Benvenuti and I recognized that revenue management needed to transform if hotels and casinos wanted to keep up with the pace of change in hospitality. What we pictured as hotel Revenue Strategy has taken a lot of work to bring to life, but the industry has reached an inflection point where it’s all possible for any property. Revenue Strategy is a concept that was born from Marco and my days at Wynn when we were running the enterprise strategy team. We knew managing revenue the traditional way wasn’t enough. We wanted a comprehensive strategy that would encompass more than just pricing rooms, including distribution, hotel marketing and e-commerce.

Duetto Closes $80 Million Series D Financing Round Led by Warburg Pincus

Duetto Research Blog 14 February 2018
Duetto, hospitality’s only Revenue Strategy Platform, announced today the closing of an $80 million Series D financing round led by funds affiliated with Warburg Pincus, a leading global private equity firm focused on growth investing. The round is the largest ever non-acquisition investment in a software company serving the hotel industry.

Duetto raises massive $80 million to push hotel tech platform

PhocusWire 14 February 2018
Duetto can boast $143.2 million in funding rounds to date after landing a huge Series D investment of $80 million this week. The hotel revenue management and analytics provider has attracted the support of funds belonging to Warburg Pincus, it says in a statement.
Article by Glenn Wirick

5 Tech Support Questions That Need an Answer

Pegasus 14 February 2018
Naturally, a few hiccups may occur during the implementation phase, whether during installation or during training. This is normal and to be expected, but easier to work through with the right partner - after all, hotels are complex. But once the system is up and running, the goal of both the hotelier and the technology partner is for ongoing smooth sailing.When something goes wrong with your hotel technology, everything grinds to a halt. This is when service and support are the lifeblood of your operation. To keep your hotel running, it fundamentally comes down to the support from your vendors. Support allows you to operate your hotel (bonus if it's worry-free!) and optimize your business.Here are five considerations every hotelier should have when weighing technology partners, and respective support agreements.Does the tech support group understand not only the platform, but your business? Too many times support groups are handed the keys to the features and functionality of the system, but their understanding of how it applies to a hotel is limited. If this is the case, immediately ask to speak with someone in authority to ensure you are a top priority.Does your account manager not only try to keep you satisfied - but also moves the needle on service? Account managers should be seen as long-term partners, proactively helping you improve your hotel operations. When you invest in a relationship with the right account manager, you can see huge differences in the hotel performance and in the general management of your account. Account managers are there to help.Does your vendor quickly respond when you solicit support? Ensure your vendor will truly deliver on the service promise. For example, what are the ways in which you can contact your vendor, and what are the expected turn-around times in communication and service? Is your vendor available by phone 24 hours a day? What about via email? Be sure to understand exactly how to communicate with your vendor, and the anticipated wait times.Does your vendor provide technical support, service-related support, or both? For example, if you are using a call center for the technicalities of reservations fulfillment, also be aware that agent responsiveness (or service) is key. Demand that the reservations fulfillment come with agents who can adapt to challenges like no availability for a requested room type - and can answer location-specific questions about restaurants and other area landmarks. If they fully understand the landscape, reservations agents will better engage the callers, increase spend, and get that booking even when the King Room initially requested isn't available.What exactly does your service level agreement (SLA) state? There are many different sections to your SLA. Hold your technology partner accountable for fulfilling their side of the agreement. SLAs are in place so that you feel comfortable with the level of support you will receive - but they are also there to measure the support and keep everyone honest.The best technology partnerships are built upon mutual respect and trust. Before getting into a committed technology vendor relationship, ask questions, delve deep into the SLA, request references, and talk to your peers. Choosing the right technology partner can reduce your operational headaches, increase revenues, and boost competitive advantages.

Trainline: focused on efficiency and getting things done

eyefortravel.com·Requires Registration 14 February 2018
In an interview with Trainline's chief executive, Pamela Whitby hears how the online platform for rail travel continues to innovate with a customer first approach In the four years since Clare Gilmartin has been CEO of Trainline, quite a lot has happened. The online platform for rail travel now has 50 million visits a month, operates in 36 countries in 14 languages, has partnerships with 144 different rail carriers, most recently with Japan rail, and has expanded into coach travel. There has been significant investment into mobile, which now accounts for 80% of visits, as well as AI innovation, and most recently voice.

Sage advice for travel tech startups from the investors at JetBlue, Boeing, and Highgate

Nick Vivion 14 February 2018
Sage advice for travel tech startups from the investors at JetBlue, Boeing, and Highgate...

Fifteen questions to zero in on the "room of the future"

By Xavier Etcheberrigaray
Technology is necessary and useful, says Xavier Etcheberrigaray, but it's not the only component to building the future. Here he describes fifteen perspectives he and his colleagues thought about when tasked with the job of imagining the room of the future.

Sabre posts record revenue for 2017 despite slowing growth

PhocusWire 14 February 2018
Sabre saw revenues hit more than $3.5 billion during 2017, in what the company claims was a "transformational year" for the business. The increase of 6.7% year over year is the lowest since Sabre returned the public markets in early-2014, with climbs of 12.5% (2014 to 2015) and 13.9% (2015 to 2016).

Q&A: How blockchain is helping Webjet improve efficiency, cut costs for hotel bookings

PhocusWire 14 February 2018
When Microsoft announced in November 2016 that it was working with Australia-based online travel agency Webjet to build a blockchain proof-of-concept solution, the term “blockchain” was still relatively unknown. Fast-forward less than 18 months, and now blockchain has become one of the hottest topic across not just travel but also finance, healthcare and many other industries.

The resources your hotel can use to improve business right now

SiteMinder Blog 14 February 2018
It’s no secret how intensely competitive the travel industry is in any field (including ours!), so any tips, tricks, or new resources should be taken seriously. Improving a business requires a constant level of analysis, evaluation, and strategy development. As a hotelier, the essential time you devote to guests may restrict how much you can spend researching new ways to run your hotel, or new features to implement. Here’s our list of diverse resources you should keep front of mind when trying to learn new business strategies.

Beyond NDC: The Sabre fast-forward approach to deploying personalized retail

Sabre Corporation Blog 13 February 2018
As the world's leading travel technology company, Sabre is in constant forward momentum. Sabre is investing beyond NDC in a fast-forward approach to next-generation retailing and distribution. A key component of this vision is deploying new product using the IATA (International Air Transportation Association) NDC (New Distribution Capability) standard by the end of 2018.

HelloShift Named Top Rated Staff Collaboration Platform by Hoteliers in the 2018 HotelTechAwards

HelloShift 13 February 2018
The HotelTechAwards platform (by HotelTechReport.com) leverages real customer data to determine best of breed products that help hoteliers grow their bottom lines. HelloShift exceeded the category average by 10%, with top ratings for likelihood to recommend, ease-of-use, and onboarding.Founded in 2014, HelloShift is modern messaging for hotels. Hotel teams use HelloShift's integrated platform to manage guest communications and collaborate across shifts, departments, and geography. Teams quickly come to rely on HelloShift's simple approach to notes, tasks, and checklists with familiar social media tools like newsfeeds, tags, and notifications. Managers keep their fingers on the pulse of hotel operations and can instantly message their whole team."Just as we bring transparency and ease to hotel software acquisition, HelloShift brings transparency and ease to hotel staff collaboration," says Adam Hollander, co-founder of Hotel Tech Report. "HelloShift has an incredible user experience that's easy for new employees to pick up and optimize out of the gate."In review after review, hotel users pointed to how easy HelloShift makes communication for hotel teams and guests. One reviewer described how HelloShift helped his hotel save thousands of dollars. A maintenance manager for a branded property in Virginia told Hotel Tech Report: "We had a major water issue in our hotel and I was able to find out about it within minutes because of HelloShift all before the issue got out of control.""Modern messaging for hotels changes everything," says HelloShift founder and CEO Sudheer Thakur. "We have watched hundreds of teams transition from skeptics to modern hoteliers, transforming their operations, sales, guest satisfaction, and direct bookings with HelloShift's integrated messaging platform. This HotelTechAward shows the delight modern hoteliers experience when they wholeheartedly embrace our tools in their daily work life."To read the full review and more, head to: https://hoteltechreport.com/company/helloshift/
Article by Alan Young

How Amazon Go No Checkout Stores Will Influence the Future of the Hospitality & Travel Industry

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 13 February 2018
Our world is endlessly transformative, with a wealth of technological innovations and advances coming to life and capturing large-scale societal attention on what feels like a weekly basis. Self-driving cars, cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence -- the future seems to be arriving faster than some of us have a chance to take a breath. At the heart of most revolutionary technology exists the progressive desire for increased convenience and efficiency as it applies to our day-to-day lives, businesses and more. Staying true to this trend, Amazon Go recently opened a grocery store like we've never experienced (but probably always dreamed of) in Seattle. No carts, no lines, no cash and no waiting -- a completely cashless grocery experience in which shoppers enter through turnstile gates, grab the items they need and exit the way they came, just like that. While shopping, the store takes inventory of what you pick from the shelves and automatically charges your Amazon account. Could this be the future of shopping? It sure seems like it. According to most experts, there is little doubt that many, if not all of the concepts from the Amazon Go store will be adopted by A-level customer-centric industries over the next five years." If we think about it, the pursuit of automation and mobile optimization has long since begun its takeover. Self-checkout, server-less restaurants, Apple Easy Pay, Uber, mobile orders at places like Starbucks, mobile keys for your hotel room and the rise of voice-powered personal assistants, the need for technology-driven efficiency is paramount. So, the question becomes, how will a revolutionary (and potentially disruptive) advancements like the Amazon Go no checkout store, influence the future of other industries? Specifically, how will the hospitality and travel industry be affected or better yet -- how can it keep up? An Emphasis on Frictionless Experience Sometimes, cutting-edge tech solutions are rejected by consumers, and this occurs when the technology places increased cognitive stress on the consumer based on a complicated user interface. Increased efficiency can't be achieved without simplicity -- if the technology in question doesn't readily make the user's life easier, it simply can't be viewed as efficient. The key to wide-spread adoption lies in frictionless user simplicity and in the case of the hospitality industry, this requires solutions that are easy for both guests and staff to interact with and master.Using the Amazon Go store as an example, we can call attention to the simplistic nature of the "just walk out" process. There is no complicated user responsibility involved in the model; it presents a clear process that can easily be understood and adopted by the general public. For hoteliers, this emphasis on the frictionless experience will be expected at every touch-point, for every guest. No front desk lines, mobile keys, mobile payments for ordering items and special requests and immediate response to service requests. This type of interactions will quickly become the expected standard for hotels embracing the future of hospitality and advanced customer-driven solutions and sales. The Era of Self-Service Has Arrived The future is mobile. Hoteliers are feeling pressure, now more than ever before, to embrace their guest's desire for mobile optimization and self-service functionality. This applies to mobile booking, room keys, check-in, concierge, stores, notifications, payments and more. Guests want to hold all the power, right in the palm of their hand. We should also consider the consumer psychology at work within uninterrupted self-service and how it can empower individuals to spend more. Traditionally, the further we are removed from the "pain of paying" that's often associated with cash transactions, the less we understand how much we're really spending. Additionally, if stuck in a line at check-out, consumers are granted the opportunity to mull over their more impulsive purchase items and potentially change their mind. When you remove these two psychological processes with the help of automated payments and self-service technology, you are tapping into increased revenue potential. This same logic applies to the hospitality industry, as hoteliers can use the frictionless, self-service model to empower their guests to spend more while on property and, most importantly, continue re-booking. Automation Should Enhance Guest Service, Not Replace ItDespite the increased demand for efficiency and self-service, many guests still seek a high-touch, hands-on and personalized approach throughout their hotel stay. The increase in automation within a hotel's core processes should create a subsequent shift in staff roles, allowing them to focus more on helping and guest engagement, rather than transactions. The carefully curated provision of exceptional (and personalized) face-to-face guest service will, without a doubt, become a key competitive advantage and differentiator for hotels. As a hotelier, ask yourself, how can increased automation revolutionize the way your staff engages with your guest?

ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Awarded Inaugural 2018 HotelTechAward for Top Rated Keyless Entry Provider

ASSA ABLOY Hospitality 13 February 2018
ASSA ABLOY Hospitality, developer of innovative security solutions for the hospitality industry, is announcing its win of the 2018 HotelTechAwards for Top Rated Guest Experience Tech: Keyless Entry Provider. ASSA ABLOY Hospitality has been recognized for its ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access, a keyless entry solution that allows guests and staff to enter certain areas of a hotel, including guestrooms, with a quick swipe of their mobile device."We are excited to have been honored with an industry award that aims to innovate the way hoteliers find potential and innovative solutions for their properties," says Markus Boberg, senior vice president commercial excellence at ASSA ABLOY Hospitality. "Customer service continues to be a major priority for ASSA ABLOY Hospitality, and we look forward to bringing not only the best solutions, but the best service to all current and future customers."ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access operates through secure Seos technology, allowing guests to bypass the front desk and enter their room immediately upon arrival. Through the use of BLE technology, ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access delivers a digitally encrypted key directly to a guest's smartphone, which they then quickly swipe to unlock their guestroom door or access certain areas of a property."Keyless entry technology is quickly becoming a reality, even an expectation, for frequent travelers who value convenience and efficiency," says Hotel Tech Report's Jordan Hollander.The first year of the annual HotelTechAwards, the awards are hosted by Hotel Tech Report and celebrates hotel technology vendors based specifically on customer feedback. More than 100 of the industry's most well-known hospitality technology suppliers entered the award, with ASSA ABLOY Hospitality claiming the title over key competitors in its respective category. Using a specific algorithm, the award measures ROI across key metrics and categories - ease of use, customer service, implementation, ROI and likelihood to recommend.For more information about ASSA ABLOY Hospitality and its comprehensive line of hotel security solutions, please visit www.assaabloyhospitality.com.

2018 HEDNA Distribution Conference Exceeds Expectations

HEDNA 13 February 2018
The HEDNA Global Distribution Conference concluded its annual event in Austin, Texas with a record number of attendees, captivating keynotes, educational sessions, interviews and engaging discussions. The overwhelming sentiment from all at the event was how relevant and important HEDNA conferences are for hoteliers to participate in if they want to stay informed, understand and compete in today's dynamic landscape."We are extremely happy with the turnout and the amazing content that we were able to deliver to such a large crowd," said Sarah Fults, President of HEDNA. "The success of the Austin Conference bodes well for the upcoming event we will be hosting this June in Lisbon, Portugal where we will tackle 'a conversation with tomorrow's guest' - which is also the theme."Austin 2018 Conference takeaways and highlights included:Current and relevant Data and Insights everywhere: Keynote speaker, Harper Reed Harper, shared his insights on demystifying big data.Justin Rao from HomeAway clarified the competition between VR and Hotels.The fast-paced State of the Industry sessions portrayed and analyzed the different perspectives of distribution (Guest, Property, Distributor).Cutting Edge Technology and Innovation:HEDNA's first Hackathon proved that HEDNA can hack - generating compelling concepts over a weekend only.The Innov8ors presented exciting new ideas and solutions challenging the status quo.Blockchain technology has arrived in Hospitality through Payment and Digital Identity.Passionate debates included: How Austin regulates the sharing economy without slowing down innovationHow soon until AI (artificial intelligence) applications replace humans?Why is there still a reception in the hotel and what is the guest experience of the future?"I always clear my schedule to attend this conference," said Chris Murdock, Director, Distribution Operations, AccorHotels. "The content was engaging and educational providing me and my company valuable insights and a clear advantage. Great Return on Investment."The next HEDNA Global Distribution Conference will be held in Lisbon, Portugal from June 4 - 6, 2018 at the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel. Registration is set to open Spring 2018.About Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA)HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) is a not-for-profit trade association whose worldwide membership includes executives and managers from the most influential companies in the hospitality industry. Founded in 1991, HEDNA's mission is to be the leading global forum for advancing hospitality distribution through collaboration and knowledge sharing. Its vision calls for HEDNA to be known for creating an environment that fosters strategic collaboration toward business development in the global hospitality industry. For more, visit www.HEDNA.org.

Powering Sentiment Analysis with Machine and Deep Learning

CloudCherry Blog 13 February 2018
Emotion plays a critical role in our daily lives. Be it in shaping our relationships or day-to-day brand choices, we look for a connect at some level. And companies that tap into this emotion and get it right are usually the ones customers flock to. They are also the ones to turn customers into loyal, lifelong evangelists.

Moving to direct and fighting for parity: the life of hotelier in Asia-Pacific

Triptease Blog 13 February 2018
Asia-Pacific, the world’s largest regional travel market, is arguably also its most exciting. An influx of visitors, especially from China, means there are opportunities aplenty for ambitious hoteliers. But competition is tough, with new businesses emerging all the time seeking to capitalize on this wave of demand.

What are the Pros and Cons of Contact Center Outsourcing?

HFTP Connect 13 February 2018
Competition for customers is fiercer in the hospitality industry than in any other. As today’s fickle customers come to expect more and more from hospitality service providers, the success of your brand is dependent on providing the best customer experience possible. Because your contact center is the front line of your company’s customer support, the question of whether to outsource any of these activities must be considered carefully, not only from the perspective of your customers, but for its impact on your business operations and the bottom line.
Article by Lorraine Sileo

Hotels win small victory: So why are we still arguing about OTAs?

Phocuswright 13 February 2018
Hotels have long lamented their dependence on online travel agencies (OTAs) and their ascribed high cost of distribution (commission or mark-up). Over the years, Hilton, IHG and Hyatt are among the brands that have tried to cut the cord (generating dramatic headlines), only to rejoin the OTAs with fresh, new agreements. While it's easy to say that hotels are fighting a losing battle - since OTAs now make up more than one fifth of U.S. hotels' overall revenue - the fact is that chains are making some inroads. Perhaps hotel loyalty rates - whereby loyalty members get unique discounts for booking direct - are paying off after all.The truth is that OTA hotel sales keep growing because U.S. hotel sales are rising modestly while the shift from offline to online is accelerating at nearly three times the pace. U.S. hotel sales gained 4% in 2017 to reach US$158 billion, but the online hotel segment (including both OTAs and hotel websites/apps) jumped 13% to $69.3 billion. These gains are based on the simple fact that offline processes, such as calling the hotel or using a travel agency, will continue to give way to desktop/laptop and mobile devices for young and old. Still, 56% of hotel sales are offline, including corporate, groups and traditional channels.The phenomenal online growth for hotels is not just credited to the fortitude of Expedia and Priceline/Booking.com (annual gains are not expected to recede to single digits until 2019). Considering both channel shift and organic growth, OTAs and hotel websites have both soared over the past 18 years. Most recently, each channel is basically growing in lockstep with the other, meaning that overall, they each represent about half of online hotel sales. This balancing act will continue, regardless of hotel loyalty rates or guest services/features - such as virtual check-in, digital keys and free Wi-Fi - that are reserved only for loyalty members who book direct. OTAs have their own loyalty programs that are gaining ground, and Expedia plans to provide unique guest services as well. The stalemate between hotels and OTAs will be an ongoing scenario, despite the $5+ billion sales and marketing budget of Expedia, not to mention continued gains in the U.S. by Booking.com.This doesn't mean hotel loyalty rates are a failure. If anything, hotels would still be losing share considering that most travelers - especially millennials - prefer the choice offered by OTAs1. Hotel chains have shored up their position, especially with older, more loyal travelers. In addition, millions of new travelers, many in the 18-34-year-old age group, have joined programs for the low-hanging fruit (free Wi-Fi and lower prices).To be sure, there is plenty of work to do for hotels to measure the impact of two-plus years of loyalty rates on the bottom line. If travelers are simply taking advantage of them to save on single bookings, they are not exactly loyal customers. Regardless, the fact that hotels are holding their own vs. OTAs should make many owners and operators happy, but with hotels vying for a perfect world without intermediaries, the question is: Will they ever be happy?Gain a comprehensive view of the hotel and lodging market in the U.S. - including market sizing and forecasts, loyalty programs, private accommodations and an update on mobile bookings - with Phocuswright's U.S. Hotel & Lodging: Loyalty Rates Make Impact.Other U.S. Online Travel Overview Seventeenth Edition reports available:U.S. Car Rental: Coasting Along for NowU.S. Online Travel Agencies: The Big Get Bigger

Rainmaker's revcaster Powers Newly Enhanced Market Intelligence for Omni Hotels & Resorts

The Rainmaker Group 13 February 2018
ALPHARETTA, GA - Feb. 13, 2018 - The Rainmaker Group (Rainmaker), a leading provider of cloud-based hospitality revenue and profit optimization software, today announced that it has expanded its partnership with Omni Hotels & Resorts (Omni) by transitioning them to the recently launched, next-generation of revcaster across the brand's portfolio of properties, covering more than 20,000 rooms across 60 properties in North America.In addition to being a revcaster customer since 2015, Omni is a longstanding customer of Rainmaker's guestrev and grouprev, which optimize room rate and other ancillary revenue for transient and group business. By adding revcaster to the mix, Omni strengthens its revenue management technology stack and gains unparalleled market and competitive intelligence and analysis.Last year, Rainmaker unveiled revcaster's next-generation platform, which increases the power and functionality of the original competitor rate shopping model. The addition of third-party systems integrations, cross-functional collaboration tools, and flexible rules and alerts -- all wrapped into an updated and modernized user interface -- allows users to go beyond simply monitoring competitors' rates. The new platform enables revenue managers, owners and operators to follow standard revenue management best practices without the heavy investment typically required when implementing a true Revenue Management System (RMS)."revcaster's new platform is a game changer for our organization and our industry," said Jamie Pena, Vice President of Revenue Management and Global Distribution at Omni. "The ability to create custom personalized dashboards that display market data in any format really makes the product feel like our own. And the data itself is more powerful than ever with the addition of real-time rate shopping, integration of other data points, such as weather and events, and the like.""Since soft-launching the revcaster product in the second quarter of last year, we've partnered with several strategic customers to test and push the platform to its limits," said Matt Curry, Vice President and Head of Product at The Rainmaker Group. "In doing so, we were able to identify opportunities to add finishing touches to the application, and we're excited to get the product into the hands of the broader market."Rainmaker's groundbreaking revenue and profit optimization product suite includes:guestrev, an intuitive and easy-to-use revenue management solution that analyzes total guest value across a hotel or casino property to forecast and price rooms;grouprev, an innovative group pricing solution that streamlines the process of responding to group RFPs by analyzing historical data, future demand, and price sensitivity to recommend the best pricing for group business;revcaster, a powerful rate shopping tool that gives hoteliers access to real-time actionable market data, so that rates can be set against the competitive landscape; andrevintel, an intuitive business intelligence solution that improves day-to-day revenue management by mining various data sets and providing deep insights at a granular level.Omni Hotels & Resorts is a privately-held international luxury hotel company based in Dallas. The company is currently owned by Robert Rowling of TRT Holdings, who bought the company in 1996 from World International Holdings, Ltd. and the Hong Kong-based conglomerate The Wharf (Holdings) Limited. The company currently operates 60 properties in the United States, Canada and Mexico, totaling more than 20,000 rooms and employing more than 23,000 people.

Why it's time to rethink the start-up model - JLL Real Views

JLLH 13 February 2018
Now entrepreneurs seeking to use technology for social good--while generating profits--are disrupting the status quo and bringing a more diverse face to the industry.It comes in response to the rapid rise of America's tech industry over recent decades, where talent has generally been drawn from a small pool and concentrated in specific areas of the country. Start-up funding is disproportionately concentrated on the coasts, with the states of California, New York and Massachusetts receiving three-quarters of venture capital funding, compared to 23 percent for the "rest of America," according to the Kauffman Foundation.Meanwhile recent industry analysis from Recode found that women hold less than 30 percent of leadership positions at tech companies, with black and Latino representation even lower at between 4-10 percent."It's time to flip the way we think about how start-up funding is allocated in the tech sector, and finding ways to support more women and people of color," says Patricia Raicht, Senior Vice President and National Director of Research for the Western US JLL. She points to the broader benefits that come with diversity. "Diverse teams mean diverse thinking--and that can make for a more innovative work environment, which in turn drives company growth."While some inequity is simply symptomatic of a larger cultural phenomenon in the U.S., Mara Zepeda, co-founder and CEO, Switchboard, believes the lack of diversity in tech can also be traced back to the conventional "burn-and-churn" model of venture capital, which can stymy diversity in the earliest stages of a company."Traditionally, venture capitalists have sought out the tech founders who can deliver fast growth and major returns, exclusively," says Zepeda. "They haven't placed value on whether or not those founders--and their ideas--might also contribute to the greater good."Changing the face of techDiverse thinking may be just what the tech industry needs to fuel a movement to use technology to solve some of the world's most vexing problems. "There's tremendous interest right now in launching tech entrepreneurship in a more equitable and inclusive way," says Zepeda, who is seeing some of this momentum first-hand as an organizer in the "Zebras Unite" movement.The Zebra concept started when two female CEOs of socially conscious tech companies struggled to get funding from venture capitalists who only cared for the elusive billion-dollar-or-bust Unicorn. So they spearheaded the idea for creating 'Zebras', companies that drive profits and social good, often with an emphasis on including women and other underrepresented founders. The idea is gaining global traction from "zebra parties" in Berlin, to the DazzleCon conference in Portland, OR.Diversity efforts abound outside the Zebra umbrella, too. In Oakland, California for example, the Kapor Center for Social Impact leverages capital, research and outreach to ensure an ever-growing number of tech startups by founders of color.Geographical barriers are also being broken down, bringing funding to start-ups located far from the traditional tech heartland of Silicon Valley. In Chicago, Impact Engine offers mentorships and cash to entrepreneurs who see market opportunity in solving big social and environmental challenges. More than half of its portfolio companies are based in the middle of the country, addressing issues from economic empowerment and resource efficiency to health and education.As more tech entrepreneurs flock to secondary markets in search of lower cost centers of innovation, investors are likely to find opportunities to help local economies flourish as they invest in businesses that do good. "A thriving tech sector is always good news for local communities," says Craig Reinhart, Managing Director, JLL Portland. "The start-ups of today are tomorrow's major employers and wealth creators."And when these start-ups come with a social conscious, they can ensure their values are embedded within growing markets. "When entrepreneurs embrace socially responsible principles, such as diverse hiring practices and local jobs, they have a tremendous opportunity to shape our communities," says Raicht. "They can act as a catalyst for others in the area to become more inclusive as well."Solving societal ills, while turning a profitA growing class of socially-conscious financiers is looking to disrupt the current capital model with an eye toward long-term, sustainable growth. Unlike traditional venture capitalists, impact investors look for solutions to environmental, health and social justice problems--all areas where a diverse array of tech innovators could make a meaningful contribution, should they win the funding.The funding category is growing quickly, with impact firms raising around $10 billion in investments since 2010alone. But far more capital is needed to fund the growing numbers of entrepreneurs striving to build businesses that solve real, meaningful problems."A large portion of impact investment funding is restricted to verticals like clean technology, microfinance or global health, limiting innovation in other sectors -- like journalism and education -- that could desperately use it," says Zepeda.She points to potential sources of capital that could be allocated to "enlightened businesses" seeking to make an impact. For example, local and state governments can look at whether their pension funds are representing the public interest. "One of the most important ways forward will be to develop alternative financing mechanisms that bridge the gap between traditional bank loans and venture capital. We need more financing solutions for companies that fall in the middle," says Zepeda.Such gaps will take time to fill. But, ultimately, boosting tech start-up diversity could bring new opportunities that benefit investors, drive innovation and create thriving and sustainable communities built on socially responsible values.

The open truth about APIs

By Armand Rabinowitz
The API is the unit that allows platforms to exist, and the single most important ingredient to allow a technical ecosystem to thrive. Yet they are not transparent. HTNG's Armand Rabinowitz describes an initiative to change this. As he puts it: It's all about the power of a community working together to get something done.

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