Tag Archives: Lodging Magazine

Hospitality Industry Technology Update: “DIY Not the Answer with Hotel Technology”

For the first time, technology has become a real point of differentiation for hotel companies. As owners and asset managers become more involved and focus onDIY Hotel Tech technology and distribution, the pressure will grow for brand companies. It’s great the entire industry recognizes the problem, but the question becomes, how does it get solved? Or worse, what happens if it doesn’t?

After attending the summer season of hotel industry events, I was surprised to see a new found recognition from hotel brand companies that technology has become an urgent priority. It is refreshing to hear executives admitting that they have fallen behind the curve and are desperate for new solutions.

It wasn’t that long ago that technology and distribution were barely mentioned at these events, but now they are often the focus of general sessions at even the biggest investment conferences like NYU. And now we even have newer events like the Revenue Strategy Summit and the Hotel Data Conference where distribution is a main topic on the agenda.

It’s remarkable to see such a transformation, but that’s where my excitement stops. In the next breath, many of the same hotel brand leaders talk about a renewed commitment to building better technology. They want to compete with Expedia, Priceline, and Google by creating their own in-house platforms.

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Filed under Guest Issues, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Technology

Hospitality Industry Management Update: “Three Rules of Renovation”

“In an era when the next big tech invention seems to arrive every week, we recognize that our guests require us to stay on trend,” Spillett says.Renovation “We know that traveling can take its toll and sometimes leaves us vulnerable, without the comforts of home. These comforts increasingly fall in the technology category, so we make every effort to ensure that our guests have convenient access to the latest tech amenities and services.”

Lodging’s current robust performance is creating a competitive environment when it comes to product freshness. The industry fundamentals have never been better, and these conditions are driving a flurry of construction projects, rebranding and conversion activity, and renovations of every scope throughout the United States.

In the last three years, an estimated 1.2 million hotel rooms have been renovated, representing more than 20 percent of the existing supply, Lodging Econometrics (LE) data reveals. According to Bruce Ford, LE’s senior vice president and director of global business development, the number of renovations will likely trend downward as strong hotel operating profitability discourages owners from making rooms unavailable while being renovated. However, for those hoteliers willing to take the plunge and make some upgrades, here are some key takeaways for making the best renovation decisions for your bottom line.

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Hospitality Industry Management Update: “Cuts to Per Diem Rates Could Mean Less Business for Hotels”

However, not only does this policy penalize the men and women who ensure our national security on a daily basis,perdiem but it also threatens to erode the morale of the workforce and will mean less business for hotels and firms that cater to federal travelers. These same companies are extremely supportive of our military and veteran communities, and they too will face negative effects of this policy.

As Congress and the Administration make decisions on how to reduce fiscal spending, there is a basic set of principles they must follow to make sure the policies enacted are fair and balanced. While cuts in spending are guaranteed to have an adverse effect on at least one group or geographical area, a 2014 policy on per diem rates for military personnel and defense civilian employees who receive temporary duty assignment (TDY) for long-term periods failed to be either fair or balanced. It affected service members and defense personnel in my home state of Hawaii to a far greater extent than the small amount of savings it contributed to the budget. That is why I made it my top priority in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act and was successful in including the provision in the bill that reversed this ill-thought-out policy.

Defense spending heavily supports Hawaii’s economy—nearly 20 percent, according to a study by the RAND Corporation. This economic contribution falls second only to our tourism industry, which adds approximately $14 billion to the state’s gross domestic product every year. Therefore, dedicating support to preserve and enhance these industries is a top priority for any politician representing the state. Reversing policies with unintended consequences that negatively affect these industries, along with the almost 20,000 Department of Defense civilian employees in the state, also should take
top consideration.

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Hospitality Industry Management Update: “Protect Your Property from Common Industry Scams”

To prevent any type of scam, Bragiel suggests that hoteliers establish reliable contacts within banks, businesses, and the hotel’s credit card processor. That way, if questions of authenticity arise,Scam the front desk staff can turn to trusted sources. “When in doubt, we always encourage our members to check with the folks they have relationships with,” says Bragiel

It could be disguised as a typical guest interaction: Someone checks in under a corporate account that does not require a credit card, only for management to later realize the guest was not an employee of the company. Or, it could be someone whose credit card fails to go through, so he or she provides the clerk with a false authorization code. Both of these scenarios are common lodging industry scams, pulled by con artists who exploit front desk protocols to get a free stay, and oftentimes managers don’t even know what happened until the guest is long gone.

Fraud is a growing issue in the United States, with retailers losing $32 million in 2014 to credit card scamming, up from $23 million in 2013, according to a recent Business Insider report. For hoteliers to avoid becoming a victim of one of these cons, it is important that they not only recognize the signs of common industry scams but also learn how to be proactive in protecting a property from vulnerability.

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Filed under Crime, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Training

Hospitality Industry Technology Update: “How Hotels Can Engage Guests Through Social Media”

As hotel guests continue to turn to social media as their primary source for information gathering and remote communication,SocialMedia hoteliers will be presented with numerous opportunities to create engagement among their guests via social media. If they succeed at connecting with guests on a social level, they can remain at the forefront of those customers’ minds when they book their next trip.

It’s no secret that social media plays a major role in the way the hospitality industry connects with customers. There are, however, more ways for hotels to use social media than to just attract guests before they book. With creativity and ingenuity, hotels can use this medium as a powerful marketing channel to build brand affinity and loyalty by engaging guests in conversations during their stays.

Below are simple but innovative ways a few major hotels are already using social media to create memorable guest experiences:

Installing Social Walls
The desire to connect with and meet new people is one that is shared by nearly all of mankind, but compelling any person to actively make connections with other guests during a hotel stay can be tricky. The Four Seasons Dallas, however, came up with a brilliant tactic to overcome this obstacle. During the Fourth of July holiday in 2013, the hotel unveiled “social walls” in its lobby. The walls consisted of screens that showed social posts of people staying at the hotel.

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Filed under Guest Issues, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Social Media, Technology

Hospitality Industry Technology Update: “Best Tips for Creating Fast, Reliable and Secure Wi-Fi Networks”

Wi-Fi is a business driver that enables a comprehensive guest experience. Soon, hotels will leverage the power of Wi-Fi to expand on loyalty programs,Hotel wifi integrate with the in-room TV, and take part in other customer-engagement strategies such as location-based promotions and time-based offers.

Yaroslav Goncharov, CEO of Hotel Wi-Fi Test, has had a front row seat to the rise of Wi-Fi in the hotel industry. “It’s become a key amenity,” he says. “Some studies even claim it is second only to a comfortable bed.” At a time when basically every handheld device features Internet connectivity, guests place immense value on reliable wireless networks. This means that top-notch Wi-Fi services have changed from a nicety to a necessity.

When it comes to best practices, nothing trumps capacity. “While bandwidth growth has always been an issue for hospitality IT departments, the additional demands of Wi-Fi have accelerated the urgency,” says Alexandra Sewell, executive director, emerging markets, Comcast Business. She notes that many hotel guests carry two or three mobile devices, and they expect to be constantly connected when they travel. “And without the proper network capacity, Wi-Fi will be slow and frustrating,” she says. Kirk Hylan, owner of INsite Networks, a San Francisco IT company, says there’s no rule of thumb when it comes to determining how much bandwidth a hotel property needs. “With bandwidth, it’s really a matter of how much your pocket can afford because guests will use it all.”

“Technology is evolving faster than most of us ever imagined,” says Doug Gehret, general manager at Hilton Orlando. “We must be proactive to remain relevant.” Gehret’s hotel recently upgraded to the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard and now touts its high-speed data rates (up to 10 times standard Wi-Fi) as a key selling point in promotion material. With the AC Wi-Fi standard now over a year old, hotels that haven’t upgraded may find themselves falling behind the competition. And a property’s Wi-Fi speed isn’t a secret anymore, as third-party reviewers like Hotel Wi-Fi Test provide free, easily accessible ratings of wireless services that potential guests may use when choosing hotels for their next stay or event.

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Filed under Guest Issues, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology

Hospitality Industry Management Update: “The Real Value of Dual-Brand Hotels”

“Based on the analysis of the seven subject properties, it appears that operating efficiencies do not come automatically for all dual-branded properties. Throughout all facets of the lodging industry, attention must be paid to the fundamentals.dual branding Dual-branded hotels provide the opportunity to achieve operating efficiencies, but management still needs to optimize shared resources to earn their efficiencies.”

The pace of new hotel construction is picking up. According to STR, there were 1,003 hotels under construction in the United States as of January 2015, up 31.8 percent from January 2014. The most active under-construction segments of the hotel industry are upper-midscale (37.9 percent of total projects) and upscale (34.5 percent of total projects).

One way developers are taking advantage of the popularity of these segments is to build dual-branded hotels. The majority of dual-branded properties in the United States consist of affiliations within the upper-midscale and upscale segments. For the purpose of this article and analysis, we defined dual-branded hotels as single buildings that contain two distinctly branded operations. More often than not, the dual-branded properties contain separate entrances, front desks, and elevators for each brand but share back-of-the-house operations and guest amenities, such as meeting space and pools.

According to Kallenberger Jones & Company, there were 30 dual-branded hotels in the United States as of year-end 2014, offering a total of 12,193 rooms. Another 24 projects, with a total of 10,284 rooms, were under construction as of January 2015.

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Filed under Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Social Media