Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hospitality And The Technology Lag - Part 2

In the competition for the direct hotel bookings of consumers, hoteliers are clearly losing out to the online travel agencies (OTAs). OTAs build their websites around the customer, their needs, and preferences. The user experience is the priority on OTA sites. This is in contrast to many hotel proprietary websites, of which many are not as user-friendly as those of the OTAs. In regards to mobile, this is yet another example of the technological lag in the hospitality industry. This lag in technology advancement is ultimately only hurting those hoteliers lacking the vision to see clear to new revenue generating possibilities.

 

Staff Redundancy 

Another concern often cited for lack of technological adoption in the hospitality industry is that it will create staff redundancies. In other words, the greater efficiencies brought about by the integration of mobile and other technologies will result in the loss of jobs.

The fear is that technology will take over the jobs performed by people. However, nothing could be further from reality.

Technology will not replace members of the hotel staff, but rather empower them to provide guests with greater and more personalized customer service. Hotel staff will have an opportunity for improved interaction and engagement with their guests. Today’s traveler sees their mobile device as an extension of their hand that has fully integrated the technology into their lives. This extends into all of their travels as well. Many customers arrive on hotel property with the expectation of fully utilizing all the capabilities of their mobile devices while away from home.             

Mobile technology can also be implemented by hotels in the area of hotel operations and the management of personnel. The daily tasks of running a hotel, many of which are time-sensitive, can be more effectively scheduled and managed through mobile workforce apps that give staff the ability to mark off assignments as they complete them. Technology such as this can only enhance the ability of hotel staff to perform their jobs, not eliminate them.

 

Fear Of Change 

Ultimately, what is slowing down the adoption of new technologies for hotels is the inherent fear of change within all organizations of any size. Inside the organization are people who are used to doing things a certain way, and may have been doing so for a long time, and whom see change as a potential threat to their positions and importance. In the case of large hotel chains, adopting new innovative technologies is akin to turning a large ship which has huge momentum in the direction it’s headed and completely reversing its course. To remain in control of their ultimate destination, hoteliers must steer their chosen course with the aid of technology.


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Friday, May 27, 2016

Hospitality News For The Week Of 5/27/16

 5 Things To Know About U.S. April Performance Data

 

STR, Inc. published an infographic explaining the important takeaways from their summary of April’s U.S. hotel industry performance figures. Revenue per available room was 5 percent higher. An industry first was reached by selling over 100 million room nights in any April, ending with an occupancy rate of 68.1 percent. After seeing five straight months of decline, group occupancies were up 7.6 percent. In the top 25 markets, RevPar climbed 3.8 percent. The year to date RevPar growth is the lowest since 2010 when the recovery started. Full Story Here:

 

U.S. Hotel Revenue - growth is slowing

 

CBRE Hotels’ Americas Research released the results of their 2016 trends report, which states growth in the U.S. hotel industry is slowing. In the year 2014 - 2015, expenses for hotel operators increased 4.7 percent, while total operating revenue grew by only 5.3 percent. CBRE reports that average daily rate and profits have reached the top of the current business cycle. Full Story Here:

 

Hotel CEOs upbeat about 2016 despite outside pessimism

 

Despite the recent hospitality industry downgrade by Wall Street, hoteliers remain optimistic for the remainder of 2016. Earnings calls from many major hotel companies reported that the expectation is positive after an acknowledged rough first quarter. Most companies project growth rates to remain near their earlier projections, with continued growth in revenue per available room. Bank of America Merrill Lynch had recently downgraded the industry based on the opinion of experts proclaiming the end of the lodging cycle. Full Story Here:

 

US Hotel Occupancy Down 0.9 Percent To 70.7 Percent Week Ending May 21st - 2016

 

Data from STR indicated that the U.S. hotel saw two of the three-performance indicators rise again during the week of 15-21 May 2016. However, occupancy dropped by 0.9 percent, ending the week at 70.7 percent when compared to the same period last year. Average daily rate climbed 2.7 percent to reach $125.76 for the week. Revenue per available room was up by 1.9 percent, ending the week at $88.88. Full Story Here:

 


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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hospitality And The Technology Lag - Part 1

Today, many hotels are giving up large streams of revenue to the online travel agencies (OTAs) many hoteliers wring their hands and feel it is a lost cause. There is a very definitive answer to the question of how to garner more direct bookings and improve the revenue flow of hotels...it’s called technology. Hospitality has been lagging behind other industries in the adoption of new technologies, especially for one so customer facing as hotels. Online travel agencies on the other hand, have built up their success around investing in the user experience in many innovative ways to which they have reaped the benefits.

The reasons for this unfortunate situation that hoteliers have found themselves in is somewhat understandable, yet mostly created by misconceptions about the various technologies and their impact. Often cited reasons include lack of funding and concerns that technological improvements will result in staff redundancy issues, leading to job loses. These concerns, combined with the general fear of change found in organizations both large and small, are holding the hospitality industry back from reaching its true potential.

 

Lack of Funds

This is probably the most profound misconception concerning the adoption of new technologies by hoteliers. The answer lies “above” in the cloud, the computing cloud. Emerging technologies are available to the hospitality industry involving the utilization of cloud-based technology for core services without the investment in elaborate hardware or extensive staffing requirements. Systems that perform all the functions necessary to successfully operate either a single hotel or the largest chains, and do so quickly and efficiently, will streamline hotel operations in the future.

The industry, generally speaking, is holding on to antiquated legacy central reservation systems and still relying on locally stored data infrastructures, with their attendant high costs in hardware, maintenance, and staff. Cloud-based systems featuring all the functionality required by hotels to successfully operate are available to the industry at present and going forward. These systems, much like the Above Property system, are hosted entirely in the cloud and require very little in the way of dedicated hardware. They also feature lightning fast response times while offering immense scalability.

In part two of this series we will attempt to dispel more myths and misconceptions surrounding advances in technology and their lack of adoption by the hospitality industry.

 

 


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Friday, May 20, 2016

Hospitality News For The Week Of 5/20/16

Hotels’ Q1 profits rise despite slowdown in demand

The U.S. hospitality sector has seen a decrease in demand in the first-quarter of this year, as reported by the largest hotel companies. The drop has been brought about by weak corporate-transient businessso far in 2016. Most companies however have reported increased profits in the same time period. Meanwhile, projections are for this to be put a small, temporary drop rather than a trending down turn. Full Story Here:

 

Infographic: ADRs in major tourist destinations 

STR, Inc. published an infographic illustrating the tourist destinations around the globe with the highest average daily rate in the first quarter. Dubai came out on top with an ADR of $234.88, U.S. Dollars. Paris came in second place with an ADR of $225.44. Rounding out the top three was New York with an ADR reaching $202.07 for the quarter. Full Story Here:                                                                    

 

Study shows why ‘going green’ pays off

A report published by Sustainable Travel International and Mandala Research found a majority of American support hotels which conduct their businesses with sustainable practices. The research showed that 60 percent or 105.3 million of U.S. travelers have gone on sustainable trips during the course of the last years. The report states that this segment of travelers spends more and stays longer than other travel segments. Full Story Here:

 

Stuck With a Pricey Hotel Reservation? Maybe You Can Sell It

A new trend is developing as travelers respond to cancellation policy changes among hotels they frequent. These hotel customers are using technology to list nonrefundable hotel reservations for resale. The hotel industry refers to such reservations as “distressed inventory” and resale customers have found customer service to be inconsistent during the hotel stay. Industry experts say this trend will continue and is not going away. Full Story Here:

 


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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hotel Mobile Technology 2016 - Part 3

Hotel Mobile Apps

 

With the explosion of mobile smartphone use by the traveling public, it is the expectation that customers should be able to view and book their hotel stays from their mobile devices. The user experience should be every bit as seamless for customers on a smartphone or tablet as it is on a desktop computer. But some hotels are utilizing mobile technology to take the guest experience to new heights. Mobile apps give hotels the opportunity to interact with their guests and offer services directly through their devices.

Today’s traveler wants greater control of their hotel guest experience from start to finish and hotel provided mobile apps empower them to do so. With a hotel app downloaded to their smartphone or tablet, customers can select from among commonly variable choices such as, room size and bed type, to customizing the room temperature and even selecting food and drinks for the mini-bar; all in advance of their stay if desired from a mobile device armed with an app from the hotel. Guests can even skip the lines at the front desk with mobile check-in.

Hotel apps can also become an extension of the hotel’s concierge services, particularly when the guest is off the property. Whether the guest is out sightseeing or catching a bite to eat off-property, a hotel branded mobile concierge app can be of great assistance to travelers unfamiliar with the local area. Apps can make recommendations based on local experience for everything from local food and drink to entertainment and culture. Additionally, hotel apps can enable guests with mobile devices to order various extra hotel services and amenities, such as spa treatments.

Of course such personalized service and convenience comes at a price to the customer, in the form of personal information disclosures. Consumers can balance the benefits against the risks. Guests don’t mind giving some personal information as long as there is something to be gained for them. As mobile apps have evolved, customers are now much more willing to provide various preferences and even gender data. However, they are inclined to be much more cautious regarding any personal finance and credit card information.

The twenty-first century hotel guest approaches their hotel stay with high expectations. Because of the conveniences offered by technology in our everyday lives, we have built up the anticipation that this will carry over when we travel. Travelers now expect and demand a hotel experience customized to their needs, tastes, and convenience. Mobile technology offers hoteliers an exciting means to meet guest expectations with highly personalized service. Mobile technology does however require a commitment on the part of hotels to invest in their customers through the provision of these technologies.

 

 


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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hotel Mobile Technology 2016 - Part 2

The demands of the traveling public for user-friendly mobile hotel booking apps is one of the driving forces behind the rise of the online travel agency (OTA) and its domination of hotel booking. With OTAs taking the lion’s share of hotel bookings, hoteliers need to step up and offer their customers what they are seeking. Besides providing a mobile booking engine, hoteliers can utilize a number of other aspects of mobile technology to generate direct hotel bookings and build brand loyalty as well.

 

Web Design

Probably the most effective choice of mobile web design for hotels, in terms of cost and functionality, is the responsive design website. A responsive design website is capable of detecting and then conforming itself to the screen size of the viewing platform whether desktop or laptop computer, smartphone or tablet. All data, both images and text, are correctly sized automatically for a superior user experience on any device.

Statistics completely support the necessity of hotel websites to be ready to book the stay for their customers no matter what device platform they choose. Research conducted by Google and others found that 69 percent of all smartphone users are more likely to make a purchase on a mobile website. This is when compared to sites which are optimized, yet non-mobile. Furthermore, 48 percent of mobile users in Google’s study felt that companies, whose websites don’t perform well on their devices, really don’t care about them as customers. The Phocuswright figures from part 1 of this blog bear this out as well. Hoteliers cannot afford to lose the revenue from mobile customers to OTAs.

The initial investment in a responsive design hotel website may be somewhat higher at the start, however the cost is more than returned in the form of increased direct hotel bookings. When customers and potential guests can plan and book their hotel seamlessly from any device during all the different stages of travel planning, they are drastically more likely to book directly with confidence from the hotel website. 

The traveling public is increasingly making their travel arrangements on the fly and from virtually anywhere. Their expectation is to have the ability to easily navigate and use the websites of all the businesses they patronize, not just hotels, on all their devices. It is imperative for hoteliers to provide the user experience their customers have come to expect from all businesses.

In the last part of this series, we will look at ways in which hotel branded mobile apps can improve customer service while increasing both brand awareness and loyalty for hoteliers. 


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Friday, May 13, 2016

Hospitality News For The Week Of 5/13/16

Low gas prices, inbound travel fuel promising US summer

Hoteliers across the U.S. are preparing for what looks to be a very busy summer travel season. A combination of factors is expected to create hotel demand at or above the figures from 2015’s strong summer. Cheaper gas, stronger consumer confidence, increased domestic and international travel are building up anticipation for the summer. Travelers are beginning to show a trend toward traveling longer distances for their vacations. Full Story Here:

 

Hotel owners’ suit fights Marriott’s Starwood bid

The recent acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc. by Marriott International Inc. is running into opposition from a group of hotel owners in New York and Chicago. The owners claim the merger will violate contract clauses designed to prohibit franchise hotel competition from within the same company encroaching on their business. The owners are suing to block the already troublesome merger. Full Story Here:                                                                  

 

Infographic: How millennials want to use tech in hotels

 

Oracle Hospitality recently completed a study of how the millennial generation prefers to use their mobile devices when staying in a hotel. The study called, “Millennials and hospitality: The redefinition of service”, questioned 9,000 millennials in eight countries. The results were published by STR Inc. and summarized in an interesting infographic. Useful takeaways for hoteliers seeking to connect with millennials include, 55 percent want to access their own content through guest room equipment. And 87 percent use their smartphones on hotel property. Full Story Here:

 

US Hotel Occupancy Down 1.6 Percent To 65.8 Percent Week Ending May 7th - 2016

 

Across the three key hotel performance measurements during the week of 1-7 May 2016, the U.S. hotel industry put up mixed results when compared to the same period last year. Industry wide occupancy fell 1.6 percent to 65.8 percent for the week. Meanwhile, average daily rate climbed 2.1 percent to reach $123.43 by week’s end. Revenue per available room was up 0.4 percent to $81.19 by the end of the week. Full Story Here:

 


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Monday, May 9, 2016

Hospitality Net - 5 Innovative Companies to Watch for at HITEC 2016

http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4075834.html


Hotel Mobile Technology 2016 - Part 1

Why Mobile Is Crucial To Hoteliers In 2016

Mobile technology has become nearly ubiquitous around the world. It is a safe assumption that at this point in time nearly all hotel guests travel with some form of mobile device. Either a smartphone, tablet, or both. These smart devices have empowered the public to literally have the world at their fingertips. This has created a number of expectations on the part of consumers. The demands of consumers for user-friendly mobile apps and the ability to compare prices is driving the increasing share of direct hotel bookings garnered by online travel agencies (OTAs). In other words, the market is deciding how they will plan and book their hotel accommodations.

According to figures from Phocuswright, OTAs are winning the battle for hotel bookings share. Mobile devices are beginning to dominate, with Phocuswright predicting the bulk (51%) of U.S. hotel bookings will be made on them by 2017. The ascendency of OTAs has paralleled a considerable rise in hotel prices in recent years. OTAs have gained control of direct hotel booking because of customer price shopping, in response to those increases, to find the best values in hotel accommodations. Some hotels are leading the way to the future, however most are not giving the traveling public compelling enough reasons to book directly on hotel websites.

 

Mobile Booking Engine

Hotel customers expect and demand their hotels to make their traveling lives easier and simpler through the conveniences afforded by mobile technology. One means for hotels to offer what the traveling public is seeking is to offer a mobile website with a booking engine. Hotel customers should be able to view and book their hotel stays from their mobile devices. The user experience should be every bit as seamless for customers on a smartphone or tablet as it is on a desktop/laptop computer. All functionality available to web desktop/laptop users should be offered to mobile users as well. This includes checking rates, viewing room accommodations, booking, paying for and confirming reservations.

Some hotels are utilizing mobile technology to take their guest’s experience to new heights. Mobile apps, for example, give hotels the opportunity to interact with their guests and offer services directly through their devices. In part 2 of this series we will examine a few more ways in which hoteliers can leverage mobile technology to gain a higher percentage of direct booking revenue.  


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Friday, May 6, 2016

Hospitality News For The Week Of 5/6/16

Online and Mobile Bookings Continue to Strengthen Hotel Performance

According to data published in TravelClick’s North American Distribution Review (NADR; Q2 2016), hotels in North America are experiencing continued growth in both online and mobile bookings. The report is an aggregate of hotel bookings by channel. TravelClick projects online (OTA’s, hotel sites, and GDS) booking growth to remain positive in the next quarter, especially for hotel websites and OTA’s. The report highlights the migration by the traveling public away from obsolete technology and toward greater acceptance of digital technology for travel. Full Story Here:

 

US Hotel Occupancy Up 1.5 Percent To 68.0 Percent Week Ending April 30th - 2016

The U.S. hotel industryput up positive numbers in the key performance measurements, for the week of 24-30 April 2016. According to data from STR, industry wide occupancy climbed 1.5 percent to reach 68.0 percent for the week when compared to the same period last year. Average daily rate rose by 0.6 percent to $121.15 by the end of the week. Revenue per available room was up by 2.2 percent, reaching $82.34 by week’s end. Full Story Here:

 

TripAdvisor changes Popularity Ranking algorithm

TripAdvisor is implementing changes to its ranking algorithm designed to limit the influence of so-called “fast risers”. The intention of this change is to raise the level of accuracy for the rankings, according to the company. TripAdvisor expects the accuracy of rankings to drop during the transition period, but will improve as the rankings stabilize over time. Full Story Here:

 

Megamergers could spur new wave, types of consolidation

A new wave of mergers and consolidations within the hospitality industry could be coming soon, according to a panel discussion at Michigan State University Real Estate Investment Management Advisory Council. A number of factors were cited as possible drivers of these mergers, including globalization, the fluctuating price of oil, and the relationship between smaller start-up companies and large, established corporations. Full Story Here:

 


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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hotel Cloud Computing - Part 2

Applications For Hotel Cloud Computing

 

The future of data management for hotels clearly is in cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms. The benefits of a hotel central reservation system hosted in the cloud are quite clear, but there are a number of other practical applications for cloud driven hotel systems. Many of the opportunities afforded hoteliers by cloud technology are centered around improving the hotel experience for their guests and streamlining hotel operations.

 

1. Personalization

Cloud computing can help facilitate at reduced cost, greater levels of personalized service for hotel guests. Individual preferences, likes and dislikes on everything from dietary needs and allergies to pillow preferences can be better managed from the cloud. For example, a golf resort hotel can create special offers and promotions built around a guest’s passion for golf. And these promotions can be sent to the past guest in a timely fashion, at just the right season. These are but a few ideas of personalized customer service which can be better managed from the cloud.

 

2. Connection

The overwhelming majority of mobile phones are now smartphones and travelers are increasingly booking their hotel stays via these mobile devices. While on hotel property as a guest, today’s consumer expects excellent wi-fi connections for all their mobile devices and laptops. A cloud driven global reservation system gives hotels the platform from which to best leverage travelers who are routinely connected to the internet.

Hotels can stay better connected with their customers via the cloud, even when they are not on hotel property, through a variety of hotel services, mobile concierge being but one example. Also, cloud technology gives hoteliers the capability to effectively forge partnerships with companies which provide transportation, entertainment, recreation and other services to their guests.

 

3. Operations

The day to day operations of hotels can also be more effectively managed from data stored in the cloud. Property maintenance, tracking and ordering of hotel inventory, and human resources can all be better administered through cloud technology driven, SaaS platforms. Many points of daily interaction between hotel staff and guests can be conducted via cloud based technology. Guests for example, can then easily order meals at the restaurant or room service, make appointments at the spa or get a tee time on the golf course, and access any number of hotel amenities or services through their mobile devices and computers.

Ultimately, it is lowered costs and increased efficiency which is driving the hospitality migration to SaaS and cloud technology. Storing, maintaining, and accessing data through the cloud offers hoteliers significant savings while improving the levels of customer service offered to their guests.





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