Monday, September 24, 2018

Hospitality News For The Week Of 9/21/18

In Carolinas, Hoteliers Help Others, Assess Damage from Florence

Hurricane Florence churned over the Carolinas last week, dumping historic rainfall and bringing catastrophic flooding to the region and causing at least 18 deaths. A number of hotels in other areas of the southeast U.S., including Florida, have helped out by offering discounts to evacuees. Hotels in the areas affected by Florence are now beginning the process of damage assessment and working to get back into business as soon as possible. Full Story Here:

North American Hoteliers Kick Off Second Half of 2018 With Continued Steady Rates And Bookings; Q2 2019 Shows Signs Of Softness

According to data from TravelClick’s August 2018 North American Hospitality Review (NAHR), the second half of 2018 is seeing stability in both rates and bookings across all travel segments for North American hotels. Compared to last year, average daily rate is up by 1.80 percent while bookings are 0.51 percent higher than the previous year. The remainder of 2018 is expected to see a continuation of the positive growth experienced for the first half in the majority of North American markets. Full Story Here:

BCD Travel 2019 Industry Forecast

BCD Travel has released their 2019 Industry Forecast and is predicting that globally hotel rates should rise between one and three percent in 2019. The increase is largely attributed to growth in demand slightly edging out growth in supply in most world markets. Airfares globally are expected to also increase as well at a rate of between one and two percent across the majority of markets. The continued strength of the U.S. economy is expected to result in further year-over-year increases in hotel occupancy. Full Story Here:

STR: US hotel results for week ending 15 September

Negative performance results were reported by the U.S. hotel industry for the week of 9-15 September 2018, according to data from STR. In year-over-year comparison, industry-wide occupancy went down by -3.3 percent to 69.8 percent. Average daily rate was -0.3 percent lower at $131.03 for the week. Revenue per available room dropped by -3.7 percent to finish the week at $91.47. Full StoryHere:

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Dynamic Hotel Revenue With A Cloud-Based PMS - Part 1

At the core of every successfully managed and profitable hotel is a property management system capable of maintaining the efficiency of every aspect of the property’s operations. The data driven age in which any hotel now finds itself operating, requires an entirely new and upgraded system, one that is hosted in the cloud. The traditional legacy systems which have run hotels for decades can no longer keep up with the volume of data and the necessary speed required to gain a competitive edge in today’s hospitality industry.

The future of hospitality data management is undoubtedly in the cloud. A cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) hotel property management system can truly become a dynamic revenue generating engine for the hotels and chains that adopt the technology. The efficient management of data through a cloud-based PMS will empower hoteliers to not only improve hotel operations, but achieve an enhanced level of guest experience with greater security and at a lower cost as well. All of this accomplished while delivering maximized revenue for every room sold by the hotel. Remaining with antiquated legacy software, which is generations behind, is no longer a viable option for hoteliers going forward.

Hotel Operations

The real-time information provided hoteliers by a PMS system hosted in the cloud could immensely improve the efficiency of day-to-day hotel operations. Hotel staffs are empowered with this data that provides guests with greater and more personalized customer service. They can therefore better anticipate the needs and desires of their guests with access to the customer data provided by the PMS. Hotel access to such powerful data can transform hotel operations behind the scenes in ways the guests cannot see and can make the hotel property eminently more profitable.

Some hotels are now leveraging aggregate data to improve utility efficiency at their properties. For example, numerous sources can be mined in combination to reduce energy consumption at their hotels. Local climate and weather data, past energy consumption histories, and fluctuations in electric rates can be compiled and analyzed.  In this way, energy profiles of each building can be created and future projections may be effectively formulated. Because of the nature of the hospitality industry, hotels also tend to be energy wasters. Energy consumption is largely out of the control of hoteliers when guests are physically in their rooms, however smart technology managed through the cloud PMS can return systems to their most efficient levels in their absence.

The efficiency of hotel services can be vastly improved as well. This can be achieved through a data-driven analysis of which hotel services guests are actually utilizing and which ones might be under-utilized. In this way, precious hotel resources may be accurately employed and not squandered on ill-used services.  Additionally, hotel marketing is being revolutionized through targeted campaigns armed with valuable guest data. In order to accomplish this, hotels need complete knowledge and understanding of their guests, so their needs, wants and desires can be effectively predicted. A cloud-based PMS can help hotel marketers identify which customers offer hotels the highest long-term value. Marketing messages must then be created and reach the right customers in a timely fashion.

In part two we will look at how the hotel guest experience is being transformed utilizing the capabilities of a cloud-based property management system.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Voice Search For Hoteliers - Part 2

As digital technology continually progresses forward through the 21st century, so do the preferences of users of each new tech development. An ongoing trend has been the inclination in digital usage toward communicating through images. Another is the voice activation technology phenomenon. People are increasingly asking any necessary Internet questions with their speaking voice to find the answers. Voice search is still an emerging technological trend, however it clearly is the future of search. Hotels need to be prepared in advance of its widespread use by optimizing their websites to ensure that content can be found by digital voice assistants and voice search.

Conversational Tone

To begin this process it is critical to take into account how the voice searches are being generated. A human is speaking with their natural voice into a device, most likely in the form of a question. The person is using spoken phrases rather than in the keyword oriented manner they would use if typing into a search bar. For example many of the voice searches begin with either ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’ or ‘how’. Going forward, as voice search gains momentum and becomes pervasive, it will be necessary for hotel website content to be written in a highly conversational tone.

Frequently Asked Questions

An effective voice search optimization strategy is to also create a frequently asked questions page. Adding a richly informational FAQ section to the hotel website will be mutually beneficial to both travelers and the hotel’s SEO efforts. By addressing the most commonly asked questions of the hotel in a colloquial manner, hoteliers will build trust and establish engagement with the traveling public. Concurrently, a FAQ section will also offer voice searches easily digestible content to improve voice search optimization.

Local Area

Every hotel is naturally a part of its surrounding local area, especially as a travel destination. Many travel search queries should be highly location-oriented, for example, ‘restaurants near here’ or ‘hotels near here’. Therefore, it is also valuable for any hotel to optimize their website for such localized searches. The website needs to embrace the hotel’s place in its locale by including content regarding nearby tourist attractions and landmarks, or local events being held in the area. All guests should be strongly encouraged to leave a review of their stay as soon as possible upon checkout as well. It is also extremely crucial for successful local search optimization to ensure all hotel information is accurate and always current across all online channels.

Mobile Devices

Another factor to consider is the type of device that will most likely be used for a hotel voice query. Mobile devices are used in the majority of hotel searches. It is imperative for any hotel website and other digital channels to be optimized for mobile. As mobile devices have become ubiquitous, so too have digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s Bixby. The adoption rate by users of digital voice assistants, mobile features already found on their phones, will only increase over time as they become more comfortable with the technology.

The technology of voice activated searches is rapidly progressing; it is the future and will have a profound impact on the hospitality industry in the years to come.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Hospitality News For The Week Of 9/14/18

Hoteliers, Residents Brace for Hurricane Florence

Hoteliers and residents in the states expected to bear the brunt of Hurricane Florence have been making preparations for the worst all this week. Although ultimately striking the North Carolina coast Friday morning as a Category 1 hurricane, Florence has slowed its forward progress and is expected to dump locally record-setting rainfall across the region. Widespread, potentially catastrophic flooding and power outages are also expected as a result of Hurricane Florence in the immediately affected states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Full Story Here:

U.S. Department of Commerce Reports Record Spending by International Visitors in 2017

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce the U.S. had nearly 77 million international visitors in 2017. The department’s International Trade Administration National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) also reported those visitors spent a record-setting $251.4 billion during 2017, representing a two percent increase over 2016. The NTTO also stated that during 2017 travel and tourism exports supported over 1.2 million American jobs in the United States. The American tourism industry also generated a $77.4 billion trade surplus last year as well. Full Story Here:

Labor, taxes headline hoteliers’ agenda on Capital Hill

Members of Congress are hosting a group of hoteliers from the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association this week to discuss issues important to the hotel industry. Issues to be discussed include permanently extending tax deductions for small businesses and lower individual rates, government support for career development and apprenticeship programs. Full Story Here:

US Hotel Occupancy Down 3.5 Percent To 61.7 Percent - Week Ending September 8th - 2018

The U.S. hotel industry reported largely negative performance data compared to the same period last year for the week of 2-8 September 2018, according to STR. In year-over-year comparison, industry-wide occupancy was -3.5 percent lower at 61.7 percent for the week. Average daily rate was +1.0 percent higher at $121.95 by the end of the week. Revenue per available room was down by -2.4 percent to finish the week at $75.25. Full Story Here:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Voice Search For Hoteliers - Part 1

The technology of voice search has been exploding in popularity and becoming nearly ubiquitous in the homes of consumers everywhere. The devices used by the public to interface with the Internet through voice recognition technology can be found in their homes, Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa for example, or in their mobile devices such as Apple’s Siri or Samsung’s Bixby. Naturally, as these users become more comfortable in the use of this technology, the expectation will grow among traveling consumers to complete their travel arrangements while utilizing voice search.

One aspect of voice search on home assistant devices that has held back use of the technology for making hotel reservations, due the visual nature of travel, has been the lack of a visual screen. However, this could change rapidly in the near term as the technology leaders, Google and Amazon, are beginning to include screens with their devices. Formerly, Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa had been voice interfaces only, limiting their travel application.

This limitation however, has no impact on what is more correctly called dictated search, meaning those performed via mobile devices. Voice searches executed on mobile devices using either Apple Siri, Google Voice Search or Microsoft Cortana bring up web results to the device’s screen, no different than if the search was typed by the user into their search bar. How users will be utilizing home assistant devices for travel search in the near future still remains to be determined as the technology unfolds. However, dictated voice searches made on mobile devices are currently having an impact on hotel bookings, whether hoteliers are prepared to leverage these searches or not.

Going forward, it will increasingly become imperative for hotels to optimize their websites for voice search, as it is the future of travel searches. Numerous research studies support this assertion, including the search giant Google. They have stated that fully 20 percent of all mobile searches are with voice search. Voice search will only become more prevalent each year that passes. Hotels need to prepare now for this reality, or be left behind by the online travel agencies and powerful meta searches including TripAdvisor, Trivago and Kayak.  Meta search companies are already preparing to provide voice search optimization.

In part two of this series we will examine a few steps hotels can take in order to optimize their websites for voice search.