Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hospitality News For The Week Of 12/22/17

What US tax reform could mean for hotel industry

The U.S. Congress passed new tax reform legislation this week that will be signed into law by the President. Oxford Economics, the parent company of Tourism Economics, has published their analysis of the legislation’s expected impact on the U.S. economy and the hotel industry. Oxford predicts the U.S. economy will receive its greatest boost during 2018 with a 2.8 percent increase in GDP.  This growth will result an expansion in business investment of 6 percent and a 2.7 percent increase in consumer spending. Growth is expected to slow down during 2019 to 1.9 percent and 1.5 percent in 2020. Full Story Here:

When Your Hotel Charges $350 for a Negative Review

A guest at the Abbey Inn & Suites in Brown County, Indiana has claimed the hotel charged her $350 after posting an honest, but negative review of her and her husband’s stay. Katrina Arthur claims their hotel accommodations were dirty, smelled and had a broken air conditioner. After leaving the review she was charged $350 and threatened with legal action if she did not delete the review. After deleting it, she contacted the Indiana attorney general’s office, which filed a lawsuit against the hotel. Full Story Here:

Hospitality workers most sleep deprived of all professions

According to study data from bed manufacturer Sealy, the hospitality industry is the most sleep deprived in the UK. After questioning 5,000 working people, including 830 hospitality workers, the research indicated that 14 percent of hospitality workers had suffered a work-related injury as a result of fatigue from lack of sleep. More than half (63 percent) reported losing their temper regularly and 28 percent stated their lack of productivity as well. Full Story Here:

STR: US hotel results for week ending 16 December

Positive results were reported by the U.S. hotel industry for the week of 10-16 December 2017, according to STR. Compared to the same period last year, industry-wide occupancy rose by +4.5 percent to 56.4 percent for the week. Average daily climbed up +3.5 percent to finish the week at $115.67. Revenue per available room was +8.1 percent higher, ending the week at $65.24. Full Story Here:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Managing The Hotel Guest Experience - Part 1

Nearly two decades into the 21st Century, the intensely competitive nature of business is resulting in changes to the manor in which it is conducted. What was once customer service, has evolved into the customer experience. In the hospitality industry this is specifically referred to as the guest experience. How guests perceive their experience during a hotel stay is now critical for hoteliers in order to build and maintain guest loyalty and the resulting return business. Technology is now affording hoteliers the means to both enhance the experience of each hotel guest and better assist those tasked with managing those experiences.

The process of managing the hotel experience should be centered around a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) Property Management System (PMS) and Central Reservation System (CRS). From the hotel website the CRS is the crucial first, directly customer facing, interaction between the potential guest and the hotel. To the new customer, first impressions can be lasting ones. A cloud-based CRS features all the functionality required by hotels to successfully capture the direct booking of the guest and to better compete with third party sites, going forward. Hoteliers can establish a more streamlined connection with the guest right as they begin experiencing all the hotel has to offer them.

The state-of-the-art CRS system is hosted entirely in the cloud and requires only broadband connection to access.  A cloud based CRS provides lightning fast response times while simultaneously offering immense scalability. An additional advantage of a CRS hosted in the cloud is they can be fully integrated with other cloud-based hotel software as part of complete suite including, property management (PMS) and revenue management optimization (RMO) among others.

Today’s hotel guest has much to choose from and has high expectations for their travel accommodations. Guest personalization is becoming vitally important for hotels in order to foster brand loyalty in consumers. The traveling public desires the best value and will search the internet far and wide to find it. They fully expect more for the money they spend on a place to spend the night. The significance of this trend is not lost on hoteliers, who are creating new management positions completely focused on guest experience management.

In part two we will see how the hotel’s property management system, when cloud-based, can help guest experience managers more effectively build brand loyalty resulting in repeated hotel stays.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Voice Command Technology For Hotels - Part 2

The progression of technology in our daily lives is taking another leap forward with voice recognition and command. As the number of homes equipped with digital assistants such as Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s Siri increases, so are the expectations of the traveling public. Some people are beginning to grow weary of all the texting required of them every day and embrace changes which empower them to simply speak to communicate through a device. This reality is driving the explosion of home voice command technology and will push hoteliers to provide voice recognition-based technology for the public when they travel.

Voice command technology provided by hotels in their accommodations is not just beneficial for guests, but for hoteliers as well. Valuable analytical data can be gathered by each use by customers. Since voice command technology is hosted in the cloud, all guest requests for service and amenities can be tracked more efficiently. Additionally, calls by guests to the front desk can be greatly reduced, freeing up hotel staff for other tasks.

Booking and reservations for hotels is another aspect of the hospitality industry, which will be transformed by voice command and recognition technology going forward. Although still in its infancy, voice command hotel reservations is being pioneered by the travel search engine Kayak and utilizes Amazon Echo technology. First customers must link their Amazon Echo and Kayak accounts. Then customers can ask the digital assistant Alexa where they would like to book a hotel and Alexa provides them their options. The choices reported back by Alexa will include price, room details and hotel name. Since Kayak is only a meta search engine, one of Kayak’s online travel agency partners actually completes the booking transactions.

Just like other exciting and new technologies being implemented by the hospitality industry, voice command and recognition technology is shaping the future of hotels and how the traveling public experiences them.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Hospitality News For The Week Of 12/15/17

American Express Travel Reveals Emerging Trends and Top Ten Destinations for 2018

American Express Travel has published the results of their 2018 Tourism Outlook: The Exploration of Today’s Modern Traveler. The survey found that for the first quarter of 2018, international bookings are 44 percent higher than for 2017. 25 percent of American travelers surveyed said they enjoy learning about history, art and cultures around the world. The results further support a growing interest on the part of American tourists for international travel. Full StoryHere:

Majority of U.S. Winter Vacationers Undeterred by Recent Natural Disasters

The independent marketing communications agency Eric Mower + Associates published the results of a recent survey of winter travelers. The study indicates U.S. winter travelers are not changing their planned trips to areas impacted by recent natural disasters. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and the wildfires in California are not influencing any changes to travel itineraries in the U.S. to any large degree, according to the survey of 754 U.S. adults. Sixty-five percent of the respondents report no change in plans at all. Thirty-five percent stated Florida is their winter destination, which was damaged by Hurricane Irma. Full Story Here:

What hoteliers need to know about net neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled this week to overturn a previous decision regarding broadband internet. The ruling reclassifies broadband internet as an information service rather than a part of telecommunications. This decision, which is likely to face many court battles before it is to take effect, would make it a service to be regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Since 2015 broadband internet has been regulated under the FCC as a utility. The result of the ruling is likely to drive up the cost of internet service by its providers. Full Story Here:

US Hotel Occupancy Up 2.7 Percent To 60.7 Percent - Week Ending December 9th - 2017

In year-over-year measurements the U.S. hotel industry posted positive performance figures for the week of 3-9 December 2017, according to STR. When compared to the same week last year, industry-wide occupancy was +2.7 percent higher, ending the week at 60.7 percent. Average daily rate went up by +4.0 percent to finish at $125.07 for the week. Revenue per available room went up as well, rising by +6.8 percent to end the week at $75.97. Full Story Here:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Voice Command Technology For Hotels - Part 1

This year has seen the beginning steps taken by hoteliers and travel agents to implement technologies which will have a profound impact on the hospitality industry. Voice command, or recognition technology is rapidly becoming pervasive in homes everywhere and is a perfectly natural choice for hotels as well. In the industry’s quest to personalize the hotel guest experience, voice command technology will be a major factor going forward. In addition, the technology is simultaneously transforming how travelers book their hotel stays at the beginning of their experience, before arriving on-property.

As with many other guest-facing technologies, the adoption of voice command by hotels is being largely driven by the expectations of travelers who are becoming increasingly comfortable with it in their own homes. Home devices, such as Amazon Echo and smartphone applications including Apple’s digital assistant Siri, will become as ubiquitous as mobile phones going forward. A number of hotels and chains have been early adopters of these technologies, giving them an edge in personalizing the experience of their guests.

In the guest room itself is where hoteliers are looking to best utilize voice command technology and it is being implemented in a variety of innovative ways. Foremost is the virtual concierge, a popular hotel application for the digital assistant. By strategically placing one of the devices in each room, hotels can offer guests an alternative to calling down to the front desk. With specific commands of their voice they can access any hotel services, such as ordering room service or making dinner reservations for example. The hotel can even customize a voice greeting upon the arrival of each guest as well.  

Another use for this in-room technology is to allow guests to adjust and set the controls for temperature, lighting and entertainment with voice commands. This is nothing more than an extension of already existing technology which allows guests to make these same customizations via their mobile devices. There are a few things to take into consideration in regards to the implementation of voice command technology in any hotel. Voice command technology is cloud-based technology and requires a cloud PMS interface or property level system in order to perform. The technology also requires specific commands to each specific function and appropriate command instructions must be provided guests. Additionally, placement within the guest room is crucial to proper functioning and should be in a central location in order to hear commands from different directions.

In part two, we will look at several more hotel applications for voice command technology.