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Ben Graham

The latest news from the hospitality and hotel industries

The month in hospitality: August 2018

By | Hospitality, The month in hospitality | No Comments

Every month, we round up the top stories from the world of hospitality. Covering everything from new hotel technology to industry thought-pieces to the latest travel developments, this is the month in hospitality!

Google upgrades holiday travel search, offers hotel discounts

August brings the news that Google has enhanced its flight and hotel search capabilities ahead of the U.S. holiday travel season. Simultaneously, the tech behemoth has announced plans to offer exclusive hotel discounts to paying customers of Google One cloud storage.

Aimed at assisting travellers in finding the cheapest flights and hotels at peak holiday times, the new search upgrades use historical data to identify whether fares and hotel rates are higher or lower than usual during the Thanksgiving, December and New Year’s travel periods. The tool (in the form of an infographic) is available globally both on mobile and desktop and promises to focus on fares that are at least 30% below typical prices.

For hotel bookings, Google has provided a mobile-friendly in-product price insights feature. With it, travellers can track hotel prices over time and identify if a price is lower or higher than usual. Travellers can also use the tool to compare different hotel prices during the same time period, with filters to further customise information.

Richard Holden, Google’s vice president of product management, explained the upgrades: “Six out of 10 U.S. travellers expect travel companies to give them information tailored to them based on their preferences or past behaviour. It’s not just about providing all prices and options to them. It’s about doing analysis across all those prices and options. We want to help them make the right choice for them and their particular needs.”

Get the full story at Travel Weekly here!

Independent Hotel Show Awards shortlist revealed

The shortlists for the 2018 Independent Hotelier of the Year has been revealed, and there’s an interesting mix of new and established figures to choose from. The award, established in 2012, is based on “recognising the passion of independently spirited hoteliers who drive our sector forward with their creativity and wisdom.”

Winners of this year’s awards will join the Hall of Fame, occupied by hoteliers including Jeremy Goring, Paul Bayliss MBE, Kate Levin and Olga Polizzi, and leading properties including Hotel Gotham, The Laslett and No.15 Great Pulteney.

Among the shortlist are David and Charlotte Reilly of Yorebridge House (Bainbridge), Adam Rowledge of Georgian House (London) and Claire Randall of Lucknam Park (Chippenham).

Meanwhile, the awards also published the shortlist for Outstanding New Hotel, a category aimed at celebrating “an independent hotel that brings dynamism and coveted ideas to the sector and has been operating for no more than three years.” Some of the nominees include: Another Place, The Lake (Penrith), Palé Hall (Llandderfel) and Oddfellows on the Park (Manchester).

Nominations for both awards were selected from online votes, while winners will be chosen via the Independent Hotel Show registration form and will be announced on Tuesday 16 October at the event.

You can get the lowdown on the full shortlist here.

Hospitality in the UK independent hotel awards

Ditching single-use plastic is this summer’s hotel trend

August also brought the news that more hotels are opting to phase out their use of single-use plastics. As more hospitality brands begin to focus on the environmental impact of their products and services, plastic straws have become a byword for wasteful practice.

It’s not just plastic straws that have fallen out of favour with hoteliers – brands are looking at other ways to reduce their plastic consumption. Replacing plastic bathroom amenities with reusable bottles and providing a large in-room glass-bottle of water over individual plastic bottles not only reduces waste, it reduces hotel expenditure too.

Some of the major hotels to get onboard include:

  • Hilton – Removed plastic water bottles from meetings and events at managed hotels in September 2017, the impact of which is the elimination of 13 million plastic bottles annually.
  • Marriott International – Eliminating single-use plastic from 450 hotels, including 60 hotels in the United Kingdom and replaced individual bathroom amenity bottles with in-shower dispensers in the US.
  • AccorHotels – Began to phase out plastic straws at its 125 managed hotels in the UK and Ireland, and pledges to prohibit plastic straws at its 83 hotels in North America and Central America by July 2018.
  • Hyatt Hotels Corporation – Offered 65,000 pairs of recyclable earbuds at 80 participating Hyatt hotel fitness centres in 2017 and pledges to eliminate single-use plastic straws and drink picks at all of its hotels worldwide.
  • MGM Resorts International – Began phasing out plastic straws at all of its hotels, starting with the Aria Resort and Casino and Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas this May, which MGM estimates will eliminate about 100 million straws annually.

Find out more here.

Hospitality brands now doing away with plastic straws

Europe hotel construction pipeline continues to accelerate forward

Europe is set for another year of accelerating growth in hotel construction in 2019, according to analysis by global real estate intelligence leader Lodging Econometrics (LE). Already at the highest level since LE began recording in 2007, the total pipeline currently stands at 1,388 projects/219,251 rooms for the second quarter of 2018. That’s an impressive 18% year-over-year increase.

The LE forecast for new hotel openings shows continued growth for the next several years with a total of 367 new hotels/49,295 rooms opening by the end of 2018, followed by 383 hotels/53,030 rooms expected in 2019, and 392 hotels/60,740 rooms in 2020. Metrics for new hotel openings are also at their highest since 2007.

The countries currently topping Europe’s construction pipeline are:

  • Germany with 247 projects/47,155 rooms
  • The United Kingdom with 247 projects/36,487 rooms
  • France with 130 projects/15,198 rooms
  • Portugal with 83 projects/8,531 rooms, and
  • Poland with 80 projects/12,221 rooms.

The top hotel companies in Europe’s construction pipeline are:

  • AccorHotels with 220 projects/28,281 rooms,
  • Marriott International with 178 projects/29,740 rooms
  • Hilton Worldwide with 166 projects/26,114 rooms, and
  • Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) with 138 projects/23,044 rooms.

These four companies comprise 51% of the total hotel construction pipeline in Europe.

Get the background on LE and Europe’s accelerating growth here.

The month in hospitality

The month in hospitality: July 2018

By | Hospitality, The month in hospitality, Travel | No Comments

Every month, we round up the top stories from the world of hospitality. Covering everything from new hotel technology to industry thought-pieces to the latest travel developments, this is the month in hospitality!

New Build hotels are boosting the UK hotel sector

July brought news that 15,200 new hotel rooms opened last year, a 2.4% growth in hotel supply. The annual UK Hotel Development Opportunities 2018 report from Knight Frank also found budget hotels continue to dominate the market, representing 69% of all new build hotel stock and 65% of all hotel extensions.

Overall, the proportion of new build hotels increased by 37% in 2017, accounting for 66% of all new rooms in the UK hotel sector. This is great news for the industry. Although the most dramatic growth was seen in London, development is also on the rise across the UK. Overall, regions outside of London will contribute approximately 13,000 new rooms by the end of 2018, representing 62% of the total UK new bedroom stock.

The UK Hotel Development Index also named the UK’s most attractive cities, with Inverness, Brighton, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Liverpool taking the top spots. Whether the growth witnessed in 2018 will continue into next year remains to be seen, but it’s a positive sign in an industry still coming to terms with the potential impact of Brexit.

Get the full story from The Caterer here.

London street shot of a new hotel

The world’s first predictive algorithm for hotels is here

Yes, that’s right. This month the industry awoke to find that tech-hospitality specialists The Hotels Network has created the first predictive algorithm for hotels. Named Oraculo, the software marries together revenue management and personalisation to increase conversions on hotel websites, the first ever hotel product to do so. The algorithm was built using machine learning techniques by the company’s data scientists, analysing behavioural patterns based on the data of millions of travellers globally.

The software works by predicting guest behaviour and segmenting users in real-time to identify the ideal offer for each individual visitor. As a result, hotel websites are automatically customised for each unique user. While previous attempts at user-driven personalisation relied on studying previous customers’ on-site behaviour, Oraculo enables hoteliers to personalise the experience for first-time visitors too.

As the Founder and CEO of The Hotels Network, Juanjo Rodriguez, explains:

“Just as every booker is different, every non-booker is too. Oraculo is able to differentiate between low-intent and high-intent users, so the optimal message and rate can be shown to each visitor, just at the point where they are deciding on their reservation.

This results in a hugely positive impact on revenue, with a potential conversion uplift of up to 65% in the low-intent segment who otherwise may not have spent at all.”

Best of all, hotels currently using The Hotels Network existing suite of tools can try Oraculo for free on a 30-day trial basis to experience the benefits for themselves.

Check out the full story here.

Google Hotel Ads joins Google Ads

Great news for any hotel marketers struggling to manage both their Hotel Ads and other Google Ads (such as search and display campaigns): the two are now part of the same platform. The search engine behemoth announced this month that Hotel Ads are set to become a part of the Google Ads platform later this year. The company also announced it was also launching a new Hotel Center to simplify the management of hotel price feeds.

Aiming to optimise the campaign management process, the new platform has been touted as having a range of benefits:

  • Hotel groups to organize hotels by important attributes like brand and class
  • Robust bidding controls enable marketers to optimise for bidding dimensions unique to hotels
  • Smart bidding powered by machine learning to maximise bookings at your ROI goal
  • Rich reporting and familiar responsive interface available with the newly redesigned Google Ads

The new Hotel Ads platform will launch as an open beta available to advertisers later this year. Hotels looking to stay up to date on the Google Ads integration and Hotel Center launch, beta test Hotel ads in Google Ads or learn more about Hotel ads can do so by filling out this interest form.

Click here for the full story.

Using data in hospitality to optimise the booking process

Buoyant global economy means higher hotel and air prices in 2019

The rising cost of oil and a growing global economy are just two factors behind an anticipated increase in hotel and air prices next year. According to the fifth annual Global Travel Forecast, published this month by GBTA and CWT, travellers could see room prices increasing by up to 3.7%, while overall flight costs could go up by 2.6%.

Kurt Ekert, President and CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, explained: “Prices are expected to spike in many global markets even as inflation remains subdued. The future of corporate travel can be summed up as accelerated personalization – with mobile technology, AI, machine learning and predictive analytics all playing their part.”

For the hotel industry, the overall increase is balanced by discrepancies in different regions. The Asia Pacific region could see hotel prices rise by up to 5.1%, while prices in New Zealand are set to rise a whopping 11.8%. In Australia, 2019 and 2020 are expected to see the largest number of new rooms, with an increase of 3.4% of total supply each year. Like air prices, hotel rates across Western Europe are expected to rise (by 5.6%), although Eastern Europe could see a decline of 1.9%. Hotels prices in Latin America, meanwhile, are expected to fall 1.3%, with declines in Argentina (down 3.5%), Venezuela (down 3.4%), Brazil (down 1.9%) and Colombia (down 0.7%). The report predicts hotel prices in North America will increase by 2.1% with 5% increases in Canada and 2.7% in the US.

Get the full story here or download the full report here.

How to develop an agile hospitality business model

Automating room service

Is traditional hotel room service obsolete?

By | Automation, Hotel management, Room service | No Comments

Room service has always been costly and logistically complicated. Staff spend valuable time ferrying dishes to rooms and orders can be sporadic. Not only that, but the entire process takes longer than restaurant service. The extended transit time between kitchen to room means the food is likely to arrive cold or, if delivered in a heat-retaining dish, overcooked.

If the guest has an issue, resolving it takes even longer than in the hotel restaurant. On multiple course orders, members of staff have to deliver every dish simultaneously or lose valuable time running between kitchen and room. In short, room service is a pain.

As a result, hotels are shifting away from offering the service, but is it really the end of room service altogether?

How to develop an agile hospitality business model

The traditional room service model

Room service has been an established feature in hotels since the early 1930s. When the Waldorf Astoria opened its doors in New York, it promoted itself as a guardian of high society. The hotel wanted to shield its socialites, politicians and other wealthy patrons from the public. 24-hour in-room dining provided privacy and suggested an element of luxury absent from other hotels. The concept was soon picked up by other hotels and, like other ‘luxury’ features, began to filter down into more modestly priced establishments.

Since then, the basic process of room service has changed very little; guests order food and drinks through the in-room phone, kitchen staff prepare the dish and FOH staff deliver it to the room. Additional features like options to request flowers, and even a masseuse, have added strings to the room service bow.

Despite its enduring appeal, the traditional model room service is woefully impractical for a modern hotel. In an industry that relies on streamlining every process, traditional room service is proving too cumbersome for many hotels. 

Automating the in-dining experience

For an industry built on human engagement, automation seems counter to the very foundations of the business model. But it’s not just the hospitality industry that has undergone a seismic shift in the past decade. Guests, too, expect a more streamlined process and are willing to embrace some level of self-service to achieve it.

As technologies like AI, Automation and the IoT infiltrate daily processes, hotels are beginning to move away from features that require additional manpower. With the introduction of voice recognition technology like Amazon’s Alexa into hotel rooms, guests now have more power to order in their own way, with additional potential for personalisation and

For room service to survive, hotels must devise effective ways of automating order and delivery processes. Hotels across the US are experimenting with ‘robot bellhops’, with mixed results. Much better received, however, has been the use of data gathering to build a detailed profile of guests. These profiles can then be used to provide bespoke dishes to regular guests. This AI-fuelled approach to guest personalisation is rapidly finding favour in the industry because it can be implemented with little disruption to service. Additionally, the scalable nature of AI and it’s integration potential with the hotel CRM makes it doubly useful.

Woman using electric device in hotel room

Ordering with mobile

Due, in large part to the proliferation of smartphones, guests now have a world of choice at their fingertips. Even in a new city, guests are more likely to opt for an opportunity to discover local cuisine than they are to shell out for food in their rooms. The changing trends of travellers mean guests are more prone to seek an ‘authentic’ experience, one that’s much more likely to be found beyond the walls of their hotel.

Of course, many hotels are transitioning to a ‘mobile’ first approach. Unfortunately, guests often struggle to find their way to the room service from their own smartphone. Instead, they need a direct line to specific departments. Ordering from room service through legacy hotel phone systems (i.e. the hotel landline) has been in decline for the past decade. Despite this, when hotels introduce new technologies aimed at encouraging in-room dining, they see a boost in orders.

We live in the age of device-driven engagement – people prefer to use technology they are comfortable with, specifically one which already understands their preferences. In this hyper-personalised environment, only hotels

With a Genie device, guests can order directly from room service with options to list additional requests and dietary requirements. Hotels with Genie room service integrated into their CRM can automatically log and collate all orders to the system. This data can then be used to inform future menus and develop a better understanding of guest preferences.

Ordering from outside the hotel

At its core, room service is about maximising RevPAR while showcasing your hotel’s services. So, allowing guests to order food from outside the hotel is surely contrary to a hotelier’s instincts. After all, guests would otherwise spend that money in-house. But more and more hotels are partnering with local delivery services to provide in-room meals.

It’s only when you begin to break down the room service process that the logic behind this move becomes clear. A 100 room hotel where just 2% of guests order room service per night could find the service is less valuable than previously thought. Keeping your kitchen open all hours of the day, paying chefs and sending floor staff on delivery duties will all add up. Instead, hotels that don’t want to deprive guests of the option for food could instead partner with local food establishments. In this way, guests maintain the option for in-room dining, while the hotels take a cut of each order.

It’s not just restaurants that are partnering with hotels to broaden guest horizons; guests of the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham in New York can order an in-room cooking program enabling guests to make meals in their rooms. Meanwhile, the Residence Inn, part of Marriott International, now includes an option for guests to order groceries in their suites. Hotel employees pick up the supplies, with the costs added to the final bill.

These new innovations come in response to a shift toward a more ‘home-familiar’ experience, mirrored in the rise of the sharing economy and ‘authentic-stay’ establishments.

Ordering healthy breakfast through room service

Of course, the hotel industry isn’t one single organisation. Some hotels will cling to traditional room service for some time to come. Simultaneously, this shouldn’t stop other hotels taking advantage of the growing list of technologies on offer. In this hyper-competitive market, hotels should consider any innovations that can further streamline hotel processes without diminishing service. To say room service is an outdated concept would be premature. The means by which it’s ordered, supplied and enjoyed, however, are in dire need of an update.

The month in hospitality

The Month in Hospitality: June 2018

By | Hotel technology, Industry, The month in hospitality, Travel | No Comments

Every month, we round up the top stories from the world of hospitality. Covering everything from new hotel technology to industry thought-pieces to the latest travel developments, this is the month in hospitality!

AAA Updates Its Hotel Assessment Guidelines to Include Technology Capabilities

In a sign of just how much technology has impacted the hospitality industry, AAA announced this month it will now add ‘technology capabilities’ to its list of criteria when assessing hotels.

It may come as a surprise to those outside the industry, but until now, the AAA didn’t consider technological capabilities as an essential aspect of the diamond rating process. As North America’s premier hotel rating program, the AAA diamond rating process has come to represent something akin to the Michelin star rating for restaurants, identifying those establishments which have gone above and beyond to evolve the concept of luxury hospitality.

Along with the traditional ‘signifiers of luxury’ like curb appeal, décor and layout, inspectors now consider things like free WiFi, USB ports, mobile apps, mobile key technology, kiosks and digital messaging services when evaluating hotels.

With just 0.4% of hotels reviewed achieving Five Diamond status, it’s a coveted award that still divides the industry. Under the new guidelines, hotels will need to stay up-to-date on new technologies as well as maintaining the highest standards of hospitality.

To read the full story, click here.

Building brand trust through your hotel

Apps could provide the answer to sustainable tourism troubles

Sustainable tourism has been a real hot button in 2018. 2017 saw a 7% boost in overseas tourism, leading to cities across the world, previously keen to encourage any and all tourism, calling for greater control over visitor numbers.

In cities such as Barcelona and Venice, the issue has become so pronounced, locals have taken to protests and vandalism. So it’s no surprise that companies across industries are scrambling to develop means of controlling the flow of tourists. Aquarium Software, a travel insurance technologist company, argued this month that a connected, cross-industry approach is the only viable solution. At the forefront of this approach, of course, lies mobile technology and data.

Aquarium Software Director, Mark Colonnese explained, “The whole travel industry has a role to play in addressing toxic tourism,” adding, “barriers and temporary closures are not long-term solutions.” With smartphones now a ubiquitous part of travel, they are an ideal technology to inform travellers about the best times to travel. Aquarium argues the development of an app capable of compiling information from multiple sources, including insurers, tourists, hotels, airlines and travel agents, is essential to managing the flow of tourism. Through this data, information can be deployed to deliver the unified thinking necessary to assess appropriate visitor numbers and where necessary, take steps to sensibly limit them.

The app can also go some way to promoting lesser known locations, diverting tourists to quieter haunts easily capable of managing additional visitors.

To get the full lowdown on this story, click here.

Using a mobile app to improve sustainable tourism

Adobe announces innovations for travel & hospitality brands

In the world of travel, the relationship between brand and consumer is rarely a case of cause and effect. As traveller expectations shift from the one-size-fits-all package to bespoke experiences, travel brands are fighting to stay ahead of the curve. That’s why Adobe has stepped up with a tool that promises to redefine the customer journey.

The company announced this month that travel companies would now be able to use the AI platform Adobe Sensei to harness the power of customer data. By gathering information across a wide array of customer touchpoints, travel and hospitality companies can now develop a more holistic approach to understanding customers as individuals.

Likewise, with Adobe Target, travel brands can now leverage consumer intent online to better predict what content and products travellers might want next. With this technology, brands can personalise offers and create a unified cross-device customer profile.

It’s a smart move from the software giants; with 9 of 10 of the world’s biggest hotel chains and 7 of the 10 largest airlines already using their Adobe Experience Cloud to craft customer experiences. Based on the recent stat that just 31% of travel companies are currently seen as ‘experience-driven businesses’, these industry innovations couldn’t come soon enough.

You can get the full story here.

Using data in hospitality to optimise the booking process

Amazon’s Alexa becomes a digital butler at Marriott Hotels

The hospitality industry has been awash with chatter about the potential value (and pitfalls) of using voice recognition to enhance the guest experience. One company already convinced of the technology’s merits is Marriott International. This month the global hotel chain announced a partnership with Amazon to install Alexa digital assistants in a number of select locations.

The move signals Amazon’s first foray back into the travel industry after the ‘Amazon Destinations’ fiasco in 2015.

To power the deployment, Amazon developed Alexa for Hospitality, a bespoke variant on its digital assistant software designed specifically for hotels. The devices enable guests to request hotel information, contact hotel guest services, adjust in-room devices, as well as accessing the usual selection of Alexa skills.

Following the announcement, vice president at Amazon Daniel Rausch said: “Customers tell us they love how easy it is to get information, enjoy entertainment, and control connected devices by simply asking Alexa, and we want to offer those experiences everywhere customers want them. Alexa for Hospitality makes your hotel stay a little more like being at home and gives hospitality providers new ways to create memorable stays for their guests.”

The software can even integrate with existing hotel technologies. Guest requests are routed to the appropriate hotel property management systems, reducing or eliminating the need to retrofit or upgrade existing software.

Using Alexa for hospitality to enhance in-room service

Be sure to check out the full story at Mobile Marketing Magazine here.

Using hotel guest data from CRM to develop hotel services

Data in hospitality is only as valuable as the insights you take from it

By | Analytics, Hotel management, Hotel technology | No Comments

Every hotel recognises the power of data in improving their services and marketing, so why do so few hoteliers use it correctly?

Of all the travel innovations of the past decade, data in hospitality could prove to be the most significant. Compiling quantified information on every aspect of the guest experience, data is redefining how the industry measures success.

Despite this, industry research suggests businesses are losing $62 billion per year through poor customer service. Meanwhile, recent surveys have also discovered that more than 40% of hotels have only a basic data analysis plan in place. It’s not simply a case of hotels failing to gather valuable data. Often, they simply just don’t know how to turn those numbers into actionable insights.

So how can hotels implement an effective data strategy? The path to data nirvana varies according from brand to brand, but there are some common elements every hotel should consider.

Using hotel guest data from CRM to develop hotel services

Making sense of the channels

In hospitality, data comes from a range of sources. It’s held within primary operational systems, secondary platforms, and online distribution channels. Simultaneously, data can be classified into three distinct groups.

First party data is gathered directly from hotel guests either through the hotel website, social media or in-hotel interactions. Second-party data, meanwhile, is collected from strategic partnerships with relevant companies such as airlines or credit card companies. Third-party data, on the other hand, is purchased directly from other companies.

To help make sense of the myriad channels through which hotels gather their data, we’ve broken them down according to the different daily processes of a hotel, both internal and external.

Hotel operations

CRM/PMS

Tracking the efficacy of your hotel amenities is made easier when your multiple technologies are centralised in one platform. Just like any hospitality business, hotels have numerous points of engagement that must be tracked, measured and optimised.

For hotels, tracking guest engagement can span from initial check-in to guest use of amenities to room service.

Each of these engagement points yields invaluable data. If they’re not analysed as one, they will only show a fractured image of your hotel’s true performance. Only a well-organised, accessible PMS and CRM model can prevent these disconnected sections of data – ‘data-silos’ – forming. As Andrew Sanders, VP, Travel & Hospitality of DataArt says, “Interoperability and integration will be our industry’s biggest challenge as innovation takes hold.”

Operational efficiency

Coordinating staff in a large hotel is a major logistical challenge. With so many different elements operating to their own time-frames, ensuring optimum efficacy requires a cohesive approach informed by measurable objectives. Thankfully, internal avenues rich in data abound in hospitality.

From data on electricity and water consumption to cleaning supplies, the analytics gained from internal operations can enhance efficiency and reduce expenditure. When this information is compiled into a centralised platform, hoteliers have a complete picture with which to develop actionable insights for planning, strategy, costing and decision-making.

Using data in hospitality to inform guest offers

Room pricing

Data is an essential element of yield management, ensuring each room is optimally priced according to the fluctuations in demand typical in any hotel. When combined with unstructured and semi-structured datasets such as weather and local events, hotels can accurately forecast demand. From this, they can begin to determine a value that offers both value for money and a good margin for the hotel. This is essential in 2018, where customers are willing to trawl the OTAs in search of the best deals.

The hotel chain Red Roof Inn is a great example of the value of anticipating demand through data. During the particularly snowy winter of 2013/2014, the company found that flight cancellations had increased by a pretty substantial 3%. This meant around 90,000 passengers were left stranded every day. The chain’s marketing and analytics team worked together to identify public datasets on weather conditions and flight cancellations. Following the launch of a targeted marketing campaign, Red Roof Inn hotels located nearby to airports saw a 10% increase in guest business.

Booking/pre-arrival

Approximately 80% of IT respondents indicated their budgets have grown over the past five years. Under increasing pressure to improve the customer experience, many have invested that budget in a range of customer relationship management tools. Despite this investment, many hotels still fail to track basic customer feedback. While customer service tools like voice recognition, live chat functions and AI have become more commonplace, the data gathered from these tools often languishes in outdated CRM’s.

That’s a crying shame – for hotel and guest – because so much of this information can be used to improve the experience. For instance:

  • Contact information – Guests begin providing valuable information even before they check-in. By compiling a guest’s contact info, hotels can begin to build up a detailed picture of guest statistics and tailor personalised marketing messages to develop mutually beneficial long-term relationships.
  • Reason for visit – Identifying the reason for a customer’s visit empowers a hotel to begin tailoring their service to their specific requirements. Is the guest travelling on business? Offering access to a meeting room or a wake-up call shows a hotel is willing to go that extra mile and builds brand loyalty.
  • Social profiles – Hotels that include social buttons in their digital interactions with guests open up a world of opportunity for data-gathering. Not only do social profiles give hotels an opportunity to reach new potential customers, they provide invaluable demographics on their guests. This information can go on to influence future marketing campaigns and provide more background on particular guests.

Using data in hospitality to optimise the booking process

Website

When it comes to tracking site metrics, the sheer volume of information can be daunting. It’s not enough to simply track on-site behaviour. Digging into how a guest engaged with content gives hoteliers a better understanding of the strengths and, more importantly, weaknesses of their current website marketing.

Likewise, knowing exactly how a guest found the site – i.e. organically, via an OTA, etc. – enables hotels to understand where to target future marketing campaigns.

With over 83% of bookings now made online there’s no shortage of data. This data can go on to inform almost every aspect of a hotel’s digital marketing procedure and enrich the guest experience.

Mobile

It’s 2018, so every hotel should have optimised their website for mobile. But a mobile optimised site isn’t enough. Even just looking at the different devices visitors use to access your website can shine a light on where to direct future marketing campaigns.

Likewise, the time at which your visitors book a room can tell the hotel a lot about the kind of services they may want upon arrival. If a guest books their room the day before check-in from another country, it’s unlikely they’ll respond to follow-up emails until they arrive. The same guest, however, may be more receptive to information about nearby venues and attractions, as they’re less likely to have researched the local area.

Social media

While most hotels are waking up the value of using social media as customer relationship builder, they still regularly underestimate the power of social media in its data gathering capabilities. In fact, less than 50% of the companies surveyed use tools to analyse and implement social media data.

That’s not to say there aren’t tools out there to fill this gap. Hotels have access to a range of social media analytics platforms. These media management tools can reveal which social posts received the most interest, how many times they were viewed and how many resulted in click-throughs.

Social media provides an invaluable opportunity for hotel brands not just to learn more about their guests, but to learn more about their own services and the guest experience.

Hotels can use social media data as a means of personalising offers directly to customers. Not only does this reduce waiting times, it builds brand trust through greater transparency and informs future services.

Using social media data in hospitality

Arrival

Check-in

Mobile optimisation isn’t just for your website. With some form of automated check-in, hotels can increase guest satisfaction and gather valuable data. This data can inform any number of actions, including upgrades, dietary requirements and the preferred check-in times of specific guests.

Of course, the amount of insight gained by studying the data from check-in can vary. Collecting standard guest information like name, country origin, room and check-in time keeps things simple. However, building a more nuanced picture of guest preferences requires a greater degree of grey-shading.

Knowing what kind of device a guest uses, preferences from previous stays at your hotel and the reason for their stay enables hotels to promote relevant services through the right channels.

With real insights gained from data, a hotel can identify not just the right guests, they can target that guest with personalised information at the optimum time and drive revenues through timely deals.

During their stay

Maximising room value – Every guest engagement with staff and request for in-room services provides an opportunity to learn more about guests.

RevPAR might give hotels optimum return on room rates, but that’s only half the picture. Hotels must also study what guests spend when in their room.

Look at what guests are spending on the mini-bar, in-room entertainment or room service. Hotels willing to integrate this data in real-time can develop personalised offers the very same day. The guest enjoys access to deals that enhance their stay while the hotel enjoys a boost in room-revenues.

Hotel amenities – Likewise, promoting in-hotel services and amenities like the restaurant or spa is a fool’s errand unless hotels track their success rate. With a Genie device in every room, hotels promote in-hotel amenities and gain invaluable metrics on guest behaviour. For instance, if guests tend to click-through on a certain dish around the festive season, the hotel can begin to tailor future offers around this dish and drive restaurant revenues.

Outside the hotel – It’s a question that has perplexed hoteliers for generations. Just what do guests enjoy when they’re not in your hotel? In this hyper-connected world, the answer no longer has to remain a mystery.

Today, there are numerous channels through which to engage a guest when they’re exploring a city, providing the hotel can provide an incentive to engage. With a Genie device, guests can explore the local area with unlimited data. In return, hotels have the opportunity to study anonymised metrics to gain a better understanding of guest preferences.

It’s a major challenge to hotels, but gaining insights on guest behaviour outside the hotel isn’t impossible. By supplying guests with a Genie device, hotels can help curate the guest experience while turning the observations into personalised suggestions.

Engaging with eco-travellers through eco-hotel resources

Upon leaving

Check-out

When a guest leaves the hotel, hoteliers might be forgiven for merely keeping their details on file, adding them to a mailing list and, at most, emailing a ‘thanks-for-staying’. But checkout doesn’t signal the end of the guest journey. Data in hospitality settings comes from every step of the guest experience, and that includes after they check out.

By registering data from other elements, including flight times, hotels can offer additional services like late checkout and post checkout-storage to the right guests. This, in turn, builds brand loyalty and lays the foundation to return visits. Likewise, if the data shows a guest has used a hotel amenity during their stay, a voucher provided on check-out can go a long way to enticing them back next time around.

Guest feedback

Everyone’s a critic these days. Online OTA’s and travel review sites have shifted the power dynamic to guests. Anyone can leave a review, and these reviews can have a major impact on a hotel. 88% of travellers filter out hotels with an average star rating below three. Every hotel now dedicates some of their marketing effort to increase ratings on online review sites, but very few dedicate any time to looking at the data behind these reviews.

But how do you quantify qualitative feedback? First, you have to develop a coherent method of collecting feedback. This requires deciding which elements of the guest experience mean the most to you.

After that, you’re going to need some form of automated natural language processing (NLP) to comb the feedback and pick out recurring themes. These NLP’s don’t always provide an accurate picture. After all, language is so diverse, it can be difficult to tell when a guest has mentioned a feature or service in a negative or positive light. That’s not to say it can’t provide valuable insights into commonly mentioned elements of your hotel. AI and machine learning are constantly improving the review quantification process. Hotels that are willing to invest a little now could reap invaluable insights from the wealth of data available.

Quantifying text reviews to gain data in hospitality

More than anything, it’s vital that hoteliers ensure their data focus aligns with their strategic objectives and goals. Charting a map through the jungle of metrics becomes significantly easier when you clearly establish your objectives beforehand.

With disruptive technologies like social media, Airbnb and mobile-first technologies shaking up the industry, it’s never been more vital that hotels take advantage of every available innovation. Data can provide that competitive advantage, but only if hotels know how to turn cold hard numbers into real-world actions.

Luxury hotel facade on blue sky

The month in hospitality: May 2018

By | Hotel technology, Industry, The month in hospitality | No Comments

Every month, we round up the top stories from the world of hospitality. Covering everything from new hotel technology to industry thought-pieces to the latest travel developments, this is the month in hospitality!

Friction-Free Experiences Are Must-Have Amenities For Travelers

The people over at CMO took a detailed look at how travel brands can better engage new customers while continuing to grow their core business. The answer, as you may have guessed from the title, lies in embracing technology to create friction-free travel experiences.

One of the key takeaways: Hotels need to look at integrating AI into their marketing, pricing and in-house interactions to create a truly frictionless service.

Likewise, experiential marketing is pushing the boundaries of what a travel company can do. Brands such as Disney and Scandinavian Airlines are utilising data and wearable technology to develop a seamless service that puts the customer front and centre.

Mobile and geolocation technology, meanwhile, is now a central facet of the travel experience. Travel brands have clearly recognised this; mobile analytics were the number one investment point for travel companies in 2017.

The key takeaway from all of this? Brands need to be ready to adapt to new technologies in-line with the customer. Those that don’t will soon find themselves left behind.

You can get the full story here.

Using mobile data to improve the hospitality experience

Will Automation Be the End of the Hotel Check-in Desk?

Genie provided their expertise on a guest post for the good people over at HospitalityNet this month. The article discusses the growing prevalence of AI in hospitality and, specifically, what it means for traditional hotel features like the check-in desk. Long seen as integral to hotel operations, more and more hospitality brands are beginning to ask if the check-in desk is an outdated concept.

After all, the ubiquitous nature of smartphones, along with the shift toward a more socially-oriented design approach, is already changing how we travel. The introduction of automation, AI and IoT solutions to the hospitality sector could prove too much for the fabled front-desk.

So is the hotel lobby about to undergo a drastic change? Not exactly – even if every hotel shifted to a completely automated check-in process, there’d still be traditionalists looking for a bit of personal engagement and a central starting point for new arrivals.

You can read the full article here.

Managing guest check in using your hospitality CRM

Hospitality industry launches packaging waste pledge

As one of the biggest sector contributors to plastic waste, the hospitality industry has a responsibility to pursue sustainable initiatives wherever possible. Thankfully, this month proved industry figures aren’t looking to shirk this responsibility. Boutique Hotelier covered the UKHospitality’s Unpack the Future of Hospitality and noted that industry leaders had committed to a number of pledges, including:

  • Collaborating to eliminate unnecessary plastic in the hospitality sector by 2030
  • Producing industry-wide guidance to reduce packaging throughout the sector and its supply chains
  • Promoting WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact and implement its principles
  • Establishing a hospitality sector sustainability forum
  • Working with expert groups to enhance the UK’s recycling system.

The hospitality industry has always been at the forefront of innovation, so it’s heartening to see brands taking a serious approach to one of the biggest challenges of our time. As UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The hospitality sector is acutely aware of the problems caused by packaging waste and have been taking innovative and effective steps to proactively and voluntarily tackle the issue.”

You can check out the full post here.

Reducing plastic packaging waste in hospitality

Why are travellers so open to alternative accommodation?

The guys over at Hotel Business posed a question this month that the industry has been grappling with for some time: Why are modern travellers so open to alternative accommodations? The question might sound like it has some easy answers, but those answers, in turn, throw up a whole new set of questions: the key question being, what can hotels do to respond?

With the news that Airbnb is pushing further into the hotel sector with the launch of Airbnb Plus, hotels are now faced with the prospect of an online OTA offering properties with all the amenities and features of a hotel.

But the article from hotel Business looks to understand why more travellers are opting for alternative accommodation. The answer may lie in the success of companies like Airbnb Plus, but there are already some secrets hoteliers can discover if they know where to look.

You can find out all about alternative accommodation right here.

Building brand trust through your hotel

Check in desk threatened by automation in hospitality

Is automation in hospitality rendering the hotel check-in desk obsolete?

By | Automation, Hotel management, Hotel technology | No Comments

Technologies are transforming traditional hotel practices. What does it mean for the fabled front-desk?

After some industry figures speculated the hotel of the future could do away with front desks altogether, there was an uproar from experts and consumers alike. But in an industry where any opportunity to reduce costs must be considered, doing away with the check-in desk could be the only option for hoteliers. So what does the level of increasing automation in hospitality mean for customer service, and are we losing the personal touch so integral to the hotel experience?

The check-in desk of today

Gérard Laizé, general manager of VIA (Valorisation de l’Innovation dans l’Ameublement) put it best when he explained the current hotel predicament – “As far as lobbies go, there are currently two concerns: a general exasperation with welcoming guests like bank tellers, a desire to offer a warmer welcome and a will for speed and efficiency.”

One of the key issues arising from the traditional ‘check-in desk’ setup is that most new guests don’t really want to engage with a member of staff. This is doubly true in hospitality, where guests often arrive from a long journey with tired children in tow. This makes it more challenging for members of staff to upsell hotel amenities, offer upgrades and generally make a good first impression. Designated check-in times can also lead to bottlenecks. When numerous guests try to check-in simultaneously, staff can be overwhelmed, leading to delays that could impact a guest’s overall perception of the hotel.

Many in the industry, however, still see the front-desk as integral to the overall ‘feel’ of a hotel. They argue that without it, guests would be left adrift on arrival, unsure of who to turn to when trying to find their way to check in. As Emma Crichton-Miller emphasised in an article for the Financial Times, ‘The overt function of the desk is diminished but its symbolic function remains’.

Hotel lobby with check-in desk resisting automation in hospitality

Automation and AI in hospitality

Of all the changes in the hospitality industry over the past decade, AI and automation will have the most significant impact on the day-to-day guest experience. Although not limited to the lobby, these technologies are already improving the check-in experience by giving more freedom to the guest, enabling check-in outside peak hours and freeing up staff to focus on providing additional services.

Although the check-in desk is still the preferred option for many looking to find information, guests increasingly look to digital solutions, including AI and in-hotel chatbots, for answers to an array of typical questions. Automated hotel services take the pressure off hotel staff while increasing upselling opportunities. After all, the easier it is for guests to check-in, order room service, and book tables in the restaurant, the more likely they are to use the service throughout their stay.

Simultaneously, technologies like Genie can act as a portable, personal concierge, giving tips on the best places to eat, drink and explore, regardless of whether the guest is in the hotel or exploring the city outside.

Using a hospitality CRM to manage hotel services & up-selling

Face-to-face interactions aren’t obsolete

Of course, the hotel check-in desk isn’t just for checking in. It’s also the go-to point for information about the hotel as well as a place to find tips on external attractions, restaurants, and venues. Hotels will find the most success in adapting the desk to guest’s changing preferences, including finding a means to keep hotel staff available – not to mention visible – upon arrival.

Guests are liable to be wary of any establishment where their presence isn’t immediately acknowledged. Hoteliers need to establish clear processes for guests to follow. Not only this, hotel staff will need to remain on hand to provide assistance as soon as guests step through the door. This means integrating visible ‘key touchpoints’ (i.e. social area, hotel services, etc.) into the lobby design. Ideally, these key touchpoints will be in open, fluid spaces that enable guests to move freely without ‘penning in’ new arrivals.

Efforts by established hotel brands to streamline the check-in process are still in their infancy, but there is no shortage of ideas for how the lobby of the future could look. Holiday Inn recently introduced Open Lobby, where the multiple functions of lobby, restaurant, bar and business centre are combined in a ‘coherent space’. The design was based on numerous studies into how people used space in their own homes, combined with a survey of travel perspectives by IHG (Holiday Inn’s parent company) into the changing preferences of business travellers. The study identified a growing trend away from the traditional office format and towards a more personal, mobile-focused interaction process.

Hotels competing with AirBnB and embracing automation in hospitality

The hotel lobby lives on

Hoteliers still recognise the lobby as key to nailing that first impression. Lobbies are where new arrivals orientate themselves, and the front desk is still integral to this. Particularly in the age of the Instagram traveller, providing that shareable moment is integral to gaining organic attention. Hotels have been slow to embrace these new opportunities (after all, redesigning a lobby is time-consuming, expensive and, above all, disruptive), but more hoteliers are beginning to recognise the power of a great first impression.

The lobby serves a number of purposes beyond check-in, however. A survey of French hospitality professionals found that, while most of those surveyed say the primary functions of lobbies clearly remain welcoming clients (86%) and providing them with information (75%), 46% also mentioned meetings, 41% relaxation, 19% catering and 16% work. Hoteliers are already taking steps to integrate more ‘socially centred’ features. As interior designers, Paradigm Design Group pointed out in a recent blog post, “Hotel designers know that the lobby will keep a variety of groups and events, and they try to make the space versatile and multifunctional. We have changed the perspective that hotels are only a place to check in and out. The rise of competition and social nature of guests demand so much more.”

Free-moving staff could still be on hand to greet new arrivals in the lobby in the check-in-desk free hotel of the future. This dispenses with the rigmarole of long waiting lines and static meeting points but requires hotels accept, as they are slowly coming to, that self-service doesn’t necessarily mean lack of service.

Using a hospitality CRM to manage hotel services & up-selling

The future of the check-in desk

Even with the rapid pace of change in the industry, hotels will maintain some form of check-in desk for years to come. The main changes to hotel operations, according to a report by Amadeus, will be in the back-office systems. Automation, cloud storage and AI will streamline services while brands experiment with different FOH options.

While these innovations streamline the check-in process for hotels and guests alike, they won’t mark as significant a change to the overall hotel experience as removing a universally recognised element like the check-in desk. So what would a desk-less vision of hospitality look like?

In a future without physical check-in points, guests check-in simply by entering their room for the first time. Patrons receive their room number, download an access code (either in the form of a QR code or through uploading a fingerprint scan), gather information on hotel amenities and make special requirements known in advance through hotel-provided handsets.

Hotels could include automated (and even robotic) check-in points dotted around the lobby, much like the ‘self-check’ luggage kiosks popping up in airports around the world. Guests can check in at their own pace and the kiosks can upsell room upgrades and spa passes as simple CTA’s (Call To Action’s).

 

Hotel check in desk with trees

Fairmont Hotel Lobby: Image courtesy of Pargon, CC.-BY 2.0

Conclusion

The ultimate aim of hospitality is to provide the same level of comfort guests achieve at home. As Rohit Talwar predicted in his ‘Hotels 2020’ report, “With no front desk to include, hotel designers will be able to let their imaginations run that little bit freer. And for guests, staying in a hotel could become that bit more like staying at a friend’s house, where you’re approached on entry, given a comfortable seat and a drink, and then shown your room.”

While the desk itself may become a relic of the past, digital innovations will never completely replace face-to-face service. Technology can never totally replace human interaction. Instead, technology should complement and enhance face-to-face engagement. The leaders of future hospitality brands will have to establish a balance between these competing interests.

Using data in hospitality to optimise the booking process

The month in hospitality: April 2018

By | Hospitality, Industry, The month in hospitality | No Comments

Every month, we round up the top stories from the world of hospitality. Covering everything from new hotel technology to industry thought-pieces to the latest travel developments, this is the month in hospitality!

Using a Hospitality CRM to augment the hotel experience

The hospitality industry has undergone a seismic shift in the past decade, and nowhere has this change been more apparent than in the technologies used to shape the guest experience. Of course, different hotels have adopted different technologies, with varying levels of success, and nowhere is the diversity in approaches more apparent than in the customer relationship model (CRM).

The modern hospitality CRM goes well beyond creating a database of guest information; it’s about measuring how the entire structure of hotel operations contributes to the guest experience. From using data to understand how guests engage with the hotel before their arrival to developing future marketing strategies to measuring the impact of collaborations with OTAs on your ROI, the modern CRM is an essential asset not just to the guest experience, it’s integral to the continued success of your hotel.

For hotels to truly succeed in 2018, they must be ready to offer service that goes above and beyond expectations. As hospitality CRMs and personalisation tools become more common features in the industry, those expectations are only going to increase.

Get the full story from Tenfold here.

Using CRM data to develop sustainable initiatives for your hotel

AI can revitalise operational hotel dynamics

In the hyper-competitive hospitality industry, any new development that can streamline processes without damaging the hotel brand should be welcomed with open arms. While still in its infancy, AI and the Internet of Things have quickly become indispensable tools for the industry. Looking at the growing demand for automated technologies, it’s clear we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of AI’s role in hospitality.

From centralising every element of hotel operations to delivering a hyper-personalised stay for every guest, AI and machine-learning have the potential to completely redefine what a hotel is capable of. Not only this, but these technologies are fast earning a reputation as the most versatile solution to streamline in-house operations and reduce overall outgoing costs.

As hotels increasingly turn to automated processes in their search for the most affordable, flexible and effective guest engagement tool, the true value of AI in hospitality is only going to become more apparent.

Find out more from TechNative right here.

Using AI in your hotel

Technology can bring home comforts to your hotel

Technology isn’t just a means of streamlining processes behind the scenes, it’s also essential to creating an environment in which guests feel totally at ease. The traditional idea of creating a ‘home away from home’ for guests has transformed as the common features of a home become more advanced.  

Guests now bring an average of five personal devices away with them when travelling. Hotels, in turn, need to be able to cater to the additional requirements these personal devices entail.

In a world of interconnected, cloud-based networks, guests can now expect to use their own Netflix account to watch their favourite shows from the comfort of their hotel room, to enjoy the same room temperature settings as they do back home and to be able to use their own personal devices for everything from opening their hotel room door to paying for in-hotel amenities.

More and more, guests expect a personalised experience capable of catering to their unique interests. Hotels with the technical infrastructure in place to meet these interests will see their innovations repaid through more bookings, better reviews and a deeper understanding of their guests in general.

Check out the original article from Phys.org here.

A luxury hotel room, probably

Sustainable travel is only just getting started

The latest global Sustainable Travel Report from Booking.com has arrived, and it’s packed with interesting statistics with repercussions for the entire travel industry. Commissioned in anticipation of Earth Day (April 22nd), the report surveyed more than 12,000 respondents across 12 markets on everything from changing purchasing habits abroad to the eco-inspirations drawing tourists to new locations.

Among some of the highlights found in the report were:

  • 87% of travellers asked said they want to travel sustainably
  • 39% claimed that they often or always manage to travel sustainably
  • 68% of travellers intend to stay in an eco-accommodation in 2018 (up from 65% in 2017 and 62% in 2016)
  • 67% of travellers would be willing to spend at least 5% more on their travel to ensure their stay had as little an impact on the environment as possible

The report offered some valuable insights for the industry and, more generally, it proved there is a growing appetite for eco-travel. Travel agents, tour guides and hoteliers would do well to take notice and consider how they can begin to introduce sustainable elements to their services now.

Find out the full story from Booking.com here.

Lake shot with shoes of sustainable traveller

How has luxury hospitality adapted to the modern age?

By | Hospitality, Hotel technology, Luxury | No Comments

Luxury hospitality is at a crossroads: new technologies like AI and social media are changing the way we travel, but can the industry respond to the new generation of switched on traveller?

The past decade has seen a remarkable change in the hospitality industry. The near ubiquitous use of smartphones, the shift to all things digital, the growth of the sharing economy, have all had a profound impact on day-to-day hotel operations. It’s not the first time the industry has faced dramatic change – see the introduction of package holidays in the ‘70s – but never before have hotels faced so many new challenges, and opportunities, at once.

These new challenges have affected every level of the industry, but what about those at the top end of hospitality? Even just two decades ago, high-end hotels tended to adhere to a ‘traditional’ concept of luxury. Today, that concept has undergone a seismic shift. Gilded finishings, gaudy opulence and servile waiting staff are being replaced with sleek minimalism and carefully curated guest experiences.

Premium tech is essential

A recent report by Oracle Hospitality, which polled more than 2,700 U.S. and European travellers, found that nearly two-thirds of U.S. guests said it was “very or extremely important” for hotels to continue investing in technology to enhance the guest experience.

Whereas the luxury hotelier of the past placed a strong emphasis on face-to-face interactions, today’s hotels have a myriad of channels to communicate with guests through. This means utilising technology to provide a tailored experience and being fluent in (and connected to) whatever channel the guests most prefer to communicate through.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has also proven a hugely valuable development for the sector. With IoT integrations, guests have the power to alter the heating in their room, run a bath and even open the curtains from a single device.

Of course, there are technologies today that would be described as a ‘luxury’ feature ten years ago but now feature as standard. Keyless entry, online room selection and one-click dinner reservations have all become common features. To stay ahead of the curve, hotels not only need to keep an eye out for the latest technologies but also understand which are right for their particular brand image.

Integrating IoT technology into luxury hotel room

Consolidate your data

Gone are the days when gathering guest preferences involved an end-of-stay questionnaire. Today, hotels have a range of technologies at their disposal to understand guest requirements and, just as importantly, streamline this information into a single source.

Cloud-based CRM’s can provide a centralised platform to turn guest data into valuable insights on their unique preferences. Hotel staff can receive real-time information on anything from room service orders to a guest’s preferred dinner time. By identifying their key demographics through analytics, hotels can develop a sustainable, long-term growth plan and shape in-hotel services around guest preferences.

Genie devices gather valuable metrics on guest interactions both inside and out of the hotel, allowing hoteliers to paint a detailed picture of their guest and cater to their needs accordingly. Guest satisfaction is paramount, so those hotels that can most effectively tap into exactly what their patrons want during their stay will go on to define the new gold standard in hospitality.

Using hotel guest data from CRM to develop luxury hospitality services

Empower guests

Some things never change in the industry. Guest satisfaction remains at the forefront of every hotel process, but the means to achieve that satisfaction have evolved. One thing that stands out above all else is the need to give guests autonomy over as much of their stay as possible. Providing guests with the freedom to choose a specific room, or how to engage with staff, will increase the likelihood of a return visit and simultaneously free up hotel staff for other tasks.

While the luxury experience of yesteryear centred around supplying guests with luxury items, the trend today is to provide valuable experiences that guests can choose to consume in a number of ways. In the age of ‘individual experiences’, guests want to follow their own path. Any assistance that does come should be minimal and, if possible, provided through the platform guests feel most comfortable using.

Using translator apps abroad

Optimise promotion opportunities

With the growth of the Instagram tourist, luxury hoteliers want to integrate ever-more visually memorable experiences into their service. The power of social promotion has prompted hoteliers to seek ‘Instagrammable moments’ in every aspect of service, from distinctive dishes in the hotel restaurant to grandiose, eye-catching displays in the hotel lobby. A single photo by an influential Instagram figure could reach hundreds of thousands of followers; that’s the kind of coverage money can’t buy.

Similarly, with the growth of online booking and review sites, anyone can share their opinion of a hotel with thousands of potential guests at the click of a button. These reviews can make or break a hotel, so it’s vital every possible measure is taken to cater to their needs during their stay. This also requires staying on top of new technologies. Even one additional feature point on a review site could be enough to sway a potential guest trying to decide between two luxury hotels.

Hotel guests taking a selfie for hotel brand promotion

Personalise the experience

Guests want an experience tailored to their specific needs and, with the proliferation of data, hotels can now provide exactly that. By studying guest interactions with services, hoteliers can build up a detailed understanding of what particular guests want, and when.

Thanks to data, guests can now expect to wake up to an alarm automated to their day, dine on a breakfast specifically selected from data gathered on their previous meals and jump in a taxi waiting outside, called specifically for their day.

Guests (particularly those travelling from overseas) crave information but are more likely to seek it through an internet connection than the concierge. The Oracle Hospitality survey found that 62% of guests used non-hotel sources outside the hotel’s remit for dinner reservations and activity recommendations. The luxury hospitality brands that can harness this technology and provide a personalised, curated experience to their guests will be the obvious choice for future visits. As Jay Upchurch, Vice President of Oracle Hospitality says, “Technology can address the industry’s dual challenge of operating efficiently at scale and simultaneously providing individualized service.”

Building brand trust through your hotel

Develop your USP

The growth of Airbnb has pushed hotels, particularly those in the high-end sector, to focus their design and services on providing a unique experience that can’t be found anywhere else. With travellers now able to choose from thousands of different locations, and a variety of different styles of accommodation, it’s vital hotels develop their unique brand value and express it coherently through a strong online presence.

These ‘niche-appeal’ features can cover anything, from eco-friendly design to locally-sourced food in the hotel restaurant. Although brand loyalty has been diluted by the host of online booking sites, where price and ‘bullet point features’ are often deciding factors, studies have found that customers who feel engaged by a brand are less price-sensitive. Gallup’s 2014 Hospitality Industry study has consistently revealed customers of higher-priced hotel chains tend to be more engaged than those of lower-priced brands. In fact, luxury hotel customers are twice as likely to strongly agree that the hotel they visit most frequently cares for their well-being than economy hotel customers.

Developing a niche appeal for your luxury hospitality brand
While the industry has adapted to significant change in the past twenty years, luxury hospitality still faces an uphill battle in keeping on top of the evolving needs of guests. The advantages provided by technologies like online booking, automated in-room amenities and guest data also come with challenges and increased competition. Only by staying receptive to customer interests and being willing to adapt rapidly to new innovations can hotels hope to maintain an edge in this most competitive of industries.

Woman using electric device in hotel room

The smart guide to increasing sustainability in your hotel

By | Hospitality, Hotel technology, Sustainability | No Comments

The hospitality sector is at a critical point. The industry has experienced a steady lift in revenues in the past decade but margins have remained razor thin and, in some places, have actually decreased as innovations like the sharing economy inspire travellers to look elsewhere for accommodation.

Hotels house more technology than ever before, with the average hotel room now hosting six different electric appliances. Meanwhile, guests now take an average of five connectable devices on nights away from home, all of which will probably require charging from a mains power supply at some point in their stay. In short, we’re using more energy than ever, but hotels are expected to shoulder the costs of this increased consumption. Coupled with a growing awareness of the human impact on our natural environment and increased pressure from environmental agencies, it’s never been more vital that hotels take steps to reduce their reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

Woman using laptop to increase sustainability in your hotel

Whilst integrating new technology to your hotel can be a daunting task, introducing sustainable features can actually save money in the long run, particularly if those technologies improve operations efficiency and earn your hotel a reputation for green innovation.

The age of the eco-traveller

Travellers are increasingly turning to more eco-friendly accommodation as the true impact of our presence on the surrounding environment becomes clearer. A recent survey by E.On revealed that 50% of hotel guests value sustainability and energy efficiency in hotels, while almost one in five would be more likely to stay somewhere if it used renewable energy sources.

Energy efficiency represents a unique opportunity to appeal to the environmentally conscious traveller while simultaneously reducing hotel expenses.

Hotels can earn eco-credentials with guests by integrating more sustainable hospitality technology. Differentiating your hotel from the crowd can be a challenge but aspiring to some kind of eco-hotel status can open up new channels of guest and earn valuable accolades from industry leaders.

Engaging with eco-travellers through eco-hotel resources

Sustainability starts with design

It’s no secret; installing features to harness renewable energy will save you money in the long-run. The industry can benefit from harnessing renewables, including through utilising tax breaks and encouraging a more sustainable approach to daily operations. As hotels move to integrate more technology, the need for clean, renewable energy sources becomes essential to maintaining profit margins.

It might sound obvious, but ensuring your hotel is lit entirely by LED lighting can dramatically reduce your electricity output. Meanwhile, installing water aerators, allows guests to enjoy hot, clean water at up to 50% less cost.

Installing motion-sensitive lighting in hallways and shared spaces can reduce the overall amount of time lights spend on. In areas where natural light is available, look at dimming your electric lighting to reduce energy consumption without reducing visibility.

Integrating energy saving static features from the renovation-stage can lead to significant savings down the line. In hot countries, where a significant portion of energy expenditure is spent on air conditioning, light reflecting windows can have a valuable impact. Likewise, in cold countries where heating can account for up to 50% of a hotel’s energy costs, including extra insulation features like thick curtains and energy-efficient glazing can pay dividends in the future.

How can the hotel industry adapt to the sharing economy?

Cut costs with initiatives

Almost every aspect of a hotel’s daily operations can be tweaked to encourage a more energy-conscious service. Most hotels now operate on a ‘specified cleaning needs’ system. So if a guest wants their bedsheets and towels cleaned daily, they can make this clear with a sign on the door or by leaving their items on the floor. However, if they’re happy to keep the same bedsheets and towels on for the duration of their stay, they can also specify, saving the hotel valuable time, money and energy in unnecessary cleaning.

Integrating your hotel management system with a comprehensive CRM can also open new avenues for reducing energy consumption, particularly when combined with data on various hotel operations. With analytics on food consumption, cleaning, toiletries and more, hotels can the identify the least efficient areas of a hotel and incrementally optimise individual processes.

Many governments also offer a number of incentives to increase sustainability in your hotel that could lead to long-term savings. These incentives can cover anything from insurance premium discounts, to financial grants to tax write-offs.

With a Genie device in each room, gathering data on guest behaviour  – including room service orders and media usage – becomes significantly simpler. By integrating data gathered from Genie phones with your hotel CRM, you can track hotel processes and develop energy saving solutions around tried and tested means.

Using CRM data to increase sustainability in your hotel

Get guests & staff in on the act

Training your staff to take a proactive role in the sustainability of the hotel ensures it’s an all-around effort. Even simple office functions, like switching to recycled paper, or going digital altogether, will help cut down on waste.

Designate specific members of staff to manage resource consumption in key areas of the hotel, and provide regular training sessions. Make sure employees turn off lights as they leave a room, recycle waste and, where possible, share transport.

The same E.On survey also uncovered an interesting fact: guests use more energy in a hotel than in their home. Sure, guests are less inclined to watch their energy usage when they don’t pay the bill, but hotels should still incentivise guests to enjoy a more energy-conscious stay.

Given the option – and a gentle reminder – most guests will try to limit their energy usage in your hotel. Even a small sign by the hotel room door encouraging guests to turn off appliances as they leave can make a big difference to your bottom line.

Harness your eco-strengths

Hotels should strive to make the most of the surrounding environment and climate. Just because a technology becomes available doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your hotel. Solar panels on a hotel in Scotland won’t begin to pay for themselves as soon as they would in Spain. Similarly, rainwater storage technology will have limited use in a Dubai hotel. That doesn’t mean discounting these technologies altogether, but justifying expenditure on new energy-saving features requires prioritisation.

In Iceland, for instance, many hotels take energy from the country’s natural geothermal energy reserves. Several of these hotels also provide access to geothermal pools that act as ‘natural jacuzzis’. Not every hotel has access to geothermal energy, but you can utilise the local environment to reduce your carbon footprint.

It’s not just about adding new technologies. By managing your guest bookings intelligently, you can reduce energy-reliance and ensure a comfortable night’s stay for everyone. Save on heating by providing rooms that receive the most sun in winter. Likewise, try to book rooms in clusters and avoid placing guests in corner rooms (where more energy is needed to maintain a comfortable temperature). The differences may seem minimal, but by limiting heat loss throughout the year, you can boost your overall annual revenue.

Harnessing geothermal power to heat your eco-hotel

Go green – literally

Hotels have turned to green features like rooftop green-spaces and vertical gardens to increase the aesthetic appeal of their grounds. It’s a win-win scenario; hotels can showcase their environmental accomplishments and previously unappealing areas become Insta-worthy photo opportunities.

Because concrete doesn’t absorb rainwater, runoff goes into drains and other water sources. This runoff is often filled with contaminants that damage the surrounding ecosystem. Adding more green space on your hotel grounds has the added bonus of helping channel rainwater. Gardens, ponds and shrubs create areas of natural beauty while reducing the impact of your hotel on the environment.

In areas where the weather changes dramatically from season to season – for instance, in tropical countries, where periods of intense rainfall are followed by periods of water scarcity – features like tree box filters can help store water during the rainy season and distribute it during the drier months. 

Adding green features to increase sustainability in your hotel

Sustainability starts in the kitchen

Approximately 18% of all food purchased in the UK hospitality sector goes to waste. For hotels, this means lost profits and a sizeable amount of food gone to waste. Despite this, cutting down on excessive food wastage is a major challenge. Hotels always err on the side of caution, but changing guest numbers make predicting demand a major challenge.

Hotel kitchens operate to strict health and safety guidelines, so features like dimmed or motion-sensitive lighting are a no-go. Instead, look at partnering with local food charities who can remove excess food that can no longer be served. It won’t necessarily reduce your financial spend, but it will mean less food goes to waste.

Kitchens run to strict processes. That’s why it’s essential you look at how you source the food that comes into your kitchen.

By adding more seasonal produce to your menu, you can save money on importing overseas goods while supporting local businesses. Just as importantly; by sourcing food from local, sustainable suppliers, you reduce the carbon footprint of bringing food to customer’s plates and provide a taste of the local culinary culture. To learn more about approved sustainable local suppliers, check out resources like Sustainweb.

If your hotel has enough green space, look at setting some aside for growing your own herbs and vegetables. This enables you to manage every stage of the production process and limit the cost of importing foodstuffs from elsewhere. As an added bonus, you can use most forms of organic food wastage as compost. Not only does it nourish the soil, it also reduces the hotel’s reliance on external sources.

Using free data roaming abroad for national dishes

Of course, cutting hotel costs should be at the forefront of every hotelier’s actions. That doesn’t mean, however, that it should be the only reason for increasing sustainability in your hotel. We’re only just coming to terms with the real impact our existence is having on the planet. To ensure future generations enjoy the diverse wonders of our planet, hotels must take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.  The hospitality industry as a whole owe it to the guests, and the world, to do their part.