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The month in hospitality

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

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.

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

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