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Siegel Sez

May 21, 2021

Siegel Sez

I am sure the many thousands of hoteliers reading this can relate. Every year we hold our Executive Vendor Summit (EVS) for the technology vendors in March. This year with HITEC in September and the industry still dealing with the pandemic ripple effect, we rolled the dice a few months ago that things would be a bit more normal by June.
We chose the Loews Vanderbilt in Nashville to hold the 2021 EVS on June 9-11. When we booked the event, the hotel was truly excited since they, like most downtown hotels during the pandemic, were suffering with single-digit occupancies. I am the eternal optimist, so we were very aggressive with our commitment to rooms. Last month Liz, our amazing video producer, and I went up to the Loews and got the hotel to help us with a video to promote the event (click here for the short video). The EVS is an invitation-only event that historically in very good years would have around 60 registered attendees. The purpose of EVS is to help the vendors that we do business with to network and partner with other vendors as well as share their collective journeys. We always have all the “big guys” and also those who are just barely past startup phase come together for two and a half days. Since our initial booking at the Loews, we went through our first block and they gladly added rooms. Then we went through our second block and again the Loews added rooms. Now we are fighting for rooms with the hotel being sold out on the second night. It is a problem for us but more importantly it is great problem for the hotel as they hopefully can now look at those single-digit occupancy nights in their rear view mirror. We all know the true recovery will take time but the level of optimism from the hotels and especially the vendors today is so refreshing. We should thank Jan Freitag from STR for kicking off the meeting with a state of the industry, lawyer Greg Duff who will share some pandemic stories, CEOs from HFTP, HSMAI and HTNG discussing what they have gone through and what they predict lies ahead. We have a private equity company sharing how they are evaluating technology vendors and lastly, we must thank Marriott, Hyatt, Loews, Wyndham, Aimbridge and Highgate for having their technology leaders join us as they share the journey of the last year. We will also have some great surprises for the EVS attendees which we hope will work. We booked the event hoping for 60 attendees and now sit at 93! With companies big and small joining us and without our normal European and Canadian companies attending as they still deal with travel challenges.
What an amazing journey we have all been on the last 14 months, and how nice that so many are now looking at the future with positivity. I know we are at Hospitality Upgrade and Hotel Online!
For the hotel industry recovery this means lots of arriving guests. Doug Rice who follows with his Definitely Doug column shares how we are dealing with arriving guests and their expectations of technology when checking in. This is a great read though, and if I never have to hear the word contactless, I will be a very happy guy!  
I will see you at the end with this week’s attempt at you-know-what. If you are a vendor of technology for the hotel industry and you have any questions regarding the Executive Vendor Summit, please email kim@hospitalityupgrade.com immediately. Who knows, maybe we will miraculously reach 100 attendees. I hope many hotels are experiencing what the Loews Vanderbilt is going through with us right now!

Definitely Doug

Rethinking Guest Arrival

For years, hotels have tinkered with every aspect of the guest arrival process, trying to improve service and engagement and offer guests more choice. Few efforts have truly been successful, however. Mobile apps typically apply only to loyalty program members and only a minority use them regularly. Kiosks have been tested for decades but few have achieved much usage except in front-desk-less hotels. Mobile key was much heralded when Starwood launched it in 2014 and has been copied by most major brands, but with few exceptions, guest usage (where offered) remains in single-digit percentages. 

Many hotels are again rethinking the process. Why? Guests want to avoid long lines at the front desk. They may be tired after a long trip and not want to engage in conversation. They may want contactless options because of COVID. Many travelers, especially younger ones, simply prefer self-service options. And today it is no longer just about the guests: staffing constraints that started during COVID now appear likely to worsen as travel recovers, and hotels are actively looking for ways to reduce front desk labor without impacting guest satisfaction.

Too many hotels still offer streamlined arrival processes only to loyalty program members and/or holders of the hotel or brand app. The rationale has been that the benefit of faster check-in would get more guests to download the app, join the loyalty program, and book direct. There is little evidence that this has worked, however. After years of following this strategy, major brands have told me that 80% to 90% of guests do not have the app (or have it but do not use it), and that even most loyalty program members do not use it. When the only choice is an app or the front desk, many guests will choose the front desk. This creates unnecessary friction for the guest and extra work at the hotel.

Hotels often say, “we are in the hospitality business, we want guests to interact with our wonderful hospitality staff upon arrival, not with technology.” I certainly understand this as an objective, but since when is it about what a business wants, as opposed to what their customer wants? Guests who prefer to talk to staff should of course have the choice and ability to do so, and many will. But others want it only sometimes, or not at all. I have never understood the business logic for forcing guests to do something they prefer not to do, that requires expensive staff resources to deliver, and that delivers no significant benefits to the business. Yes, local regulations or practices may require certain things be done that seem to need a front desk (more on that later), but many times that is not the case, and even when it is, there are often more effective ways to comply.

Click here to read more of Doug’s column on Rethinking Guest Arrival


Douglas Rice
Email: douglas.rice@hosptech.net
Twitter: @dougrice
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ricedouglas/
Rethinking Guest Arrival


- iVvy Announces AUD$7M (U.S. $5.4M) Pre-IPO Investment Round to Accelerate Global Growth
- Agilysys Reports Fiscal 2021 Fourth Quarter Revenue of $36.3M
- Relay and the American Hotel & Lodging Foundation Launch Relay It Forward Giveback Program
- Fast-growing Senior Living Innovator Acquired to Enhance Leading Community Engagement Technology Platform


For more information on Corporate News for 5/21/2021


- Knowland Announces Rob Landon as Vice President Engineering
Knowland, a leader in AI-powered group business data for hotels, convention and visitor bureaus, conference centers and other meeting venues, announced today the selection of Rob Landon as its vice president of engineering.


- Investing in the Guest Experience: Wyndham Becomes First Major Hotel Company to Begin Rollout of Oracle’s OPERA Cloud Globally
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest hotel franchising company with over 8,900 hotels across nearly 95 countries, today announced the roll out of the next-gen Oracle Hospitality OPERA Cloud Property Management (PMS) to its full-service hotels, making it the first major hotel company to adopt the system globally.

- Maestro PMS Integration with HelloShift Brings Seamless Guest Messaging and Comprehensive Hotel Operations
Following the impact of the pandemic, hotel guest service and communication is more virtual than ever. The new integration partnership between Maestro PMS and HelloShift brings their mutual clients a guest messaging solution that is simple and intuitive for staff and guests to use.

- Visual Matrix Adds Staff Productivity Tracking and Guest Texting Features to All-in-one PMS Solution
Innovator of cloud-based PMS technology provides labor resource-strapped hoteliers with advanced tools needed to effortlessly adapt to the uptick in guest bookings.


- SHR Introduces Bridge to Automate Processes and Increase Efficiency
Sceptre Hospitality Resources (SHR), a leading provider of technology that helps hotels execute their best revenue generation strategies, has unveiled an innovative platform that automates processes between different applications so hoteliers can work more efficiently and drive more profit to the bottom line.

- ROOMDEX, A Hotel Upsell Innovator, Releases Full 2-Way Integration with Oracle Hospitality's OPERA PMS
ROOMDEX, the leader in hotel upselling automation, is happy to announce the release of its full 2-way integration with Oracle Hospitality’s OPERA PMS using OXI. This integration will enable hotels using OPERA PMS to enable fully automated digital upselling to increase profit margins, while eliminating the current manual administrative tasks hotel staff has with upselling.

- SHR Recognized as Top Connectivity Provider
SHR, Sceptre Hospitality Resources announced their status as an Elite Connectivity Partner, the highest designation available in Expedia Group's Connectivity Partner Program.


- Village Hotels Installs Google Nest Hub Solution Powered by Volara Across All 32 U.K. Hotels
Village Hotels has selected Volara to voice enable all guestrooms and guest services in its portfolio of hotels across the United Kingdom with Google’s hotel solution. Volara’s conversation-management software and secure integrations hub will enable guests staying at any of the innovative hotel brand’s 32 properties.

- Bartech Customers Experience Dramatic Rise in Minibar Operation Profits During COVID-19 Pandemic
Hospitality’s leading provider of automated minibar technology is credited with more than doubling hotel revenues from F&B services.

- Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Greater Washington D.C. Adds Amazon Echo Devices, Powered by Volara, to Make Stays Easier for Families
Guests can access property and area information, plus optimize requests for maintenance, ride sharing, and more by simply asking Alexa.


- myDigitalOffice Announces the Acquisition of Broadvine, a Leader in Hotel Budgeting, Forecasting, and Performance Reporting Technology
The acquisition expands MDO's platform by adding standardized hotel budgeting capabilities with week over week forecasts.


- World Equestrian Center Saddles Up for Next-Gen Guest Connectivity with Blueprint RF, a Cox Business Company
Blueprint RF, a Cox Business company, announced it will become a connectivity provider for the World Equestrian Center, the nation’s largest equestrian complex located in Ocala, Florida. Blueprint RF will power WiFi network solutions throughout the property, including its forthcoming extended stay hotel.


- Oracle Cloud Keeps Iconic Zaks Diners Serving Customers During Pandemic
Ian Hacon and Chris Carr bought Zaks Diners in early 2020, with big plans to expand its American-style diners in Norwich. Core to this expansion was selecting Oracle MICROS Simphony Point-of-Sale (POS) to streamline its backend operations and create new business opportunities.


- The Fuzzy Log Hotel Enhances Guest Safety with VingCard Signature RFID Locks and Mobile Access by ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions
ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions as a comprehensive provider of hospitality’s latest security access technology, has announced the successful deployment of VingCard Signature RFID door locks and lockers alongside Mobile Access at The Fuzzy Log hotel in Slovenia.


- AHLA Statement on Updated CDC Mask Guidance
The following is a statement from Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, on updated face-covering and physical distancing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- AAHOA Statement on New CDC Mask Guidelines
AAHOA President & CEO Cecil P. Staton issued the following statement in response to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on masking and social distancing that ease requirements in most circumstances for fully vaccinated adults:


- Travel Apps Will Play Key Role in Tourism Recovery
The desire for a ‘seamless’ travel experience will have heightened during COVID-19 with travelers searching for an easy-to-use platform, where they can be inspired and informed of where they can travel safely. COVID-19 has increased the race to deploy contactless processes, digital health passes and safely store customer data. Therefore, companies should be looking to re-model travel apps to more effectively service and manage the post-pandemic traveler, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.


- Hotel Executives Share How Operations Have 'Relentlessly Focused on the Now'  
- Hotel Recovery Faces Challenges From Worker Shortage, Rising Labor Costs
- Vaccine Passports: World’s 20 Biggest Economies Give Go-Ahead
- Seattle-based Hotel Startup Roomza Promises a Fully Contactless Hotel Stay   

For more information on Piqued Our Interest for 5/21/2021


And now for you-know-what.…

Ok, this might be a little silly, but creative!    Watch until the end....

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