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People today expect to be connected always and everywhere; sometimes it’s hard to believe that there was a world before smartphones and Wi-Fi. In the time since Wi-Fi became ubiquitous in hotels, apartments, and public spaces, it has fueled the evolution of connectivity in a lot of ways. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the most basic needs start at the bottom, and you can’t get to the next level without a strong foundation. 

By now, everyone is aware that hotel giant Marriott International announced on Friday a massive data breach that goes back more than four years and may have affected up to 500 million customers worldwide. 

After two years of preparation, the FlyZoo Hotel — a futuristic property that uses interactive technologies to do everything from greet guests to deliver room service — is ready for business. 

Mobile technology is fast becoming central to the entire travel experience. Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to research trips, book accommodation, check in at the airport, and access their hotel room. But one of the next big roles mobile has to play in the travel process is mobile payment. The idea of an entirely cashless society might still seem some way off, but mobile payment is gaining popularity. As it becomes more widely used, its fast and frictionless nature will bring benefits before, during and after a trip. 

Digital marketing, also known as internet marketing, plays a significant role to boost hotel website traffic and online bookings. Recently, many big announcements were made in the digital industry, for example when Facebook introduced a new video format for marketers, or when Google announced a board core algorithm. If you are a new hotelier and want to stay ahead in the industry, then you should know what’s going on in the hotel digital marketing industry. 
 



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Are Select-service and Boutique Hotels Ready for Automated Maintenance and Guest Response Software?

06/06/2017

This may seem hard to believe, but most hotels under 150 rooms still track guest requests and hotel maintenance manually. That’s right, old school paper logs are still widely used to maintain millions of dollars in physical assets, and to service another important asset – the guest! Most larger, full-service hotels use software to automate these processes, but the cost and complexity has been too much for many select-service and smaller hotels. Until now. This is all changing rapidly as advancements in technology make this category ripe for adoption in the select-service hotel market.

New Technology is More Affordable, Easier to Implement and Support
Mobile apps and cloud computing were only a vision when full-service hotels began automating maintenance and guest response processes in the 1990s. In those days, logging every guest request and work order helped associates optimize work flow and improve management reporting. Those same benefits are still at the core of the product category today, but now vendors promote the latest cloud and mobile trends to impress hoteliers into using the latest technology. Although the capabilities in this software category have expanded significantly over the years, cloud and mobile computing now make it much more affordable, and easier to implement and support than ever before.

Automated guest response and maintenance software is now simple and cost effective enough to achieve widespread adoption throughout the select-service and small hotel segment. When you compare the labor costs of the hotel staff with the value from efficiency and quality gains, the software costs are almost insignificant. Spending a couple thousand dollars a year on a system (give or take $1K depending on the hotel size and system) is nothing when you look at the labor involved in managing thousands of work orders, guest requests, PMs and inspections each year. The return on investment is achieved by staff productivity gains, improved accountability to the owner, eliminated costly mistakes, and improved guest satisfaction.

Hoteliers are Ready to Automate and Streamline Manual Processes
The primary purpose of a guest response system is to streamline the process for managing guest requests and urgent work orders. Requests and work orders can be reported many ways including a guest-facing mobile app, phone call or directly from staff, and each request generates a work ticket in the system. Business rules automatically assign, prioritize and notify the appropriate worker on their mobile device. Tasks can be created, updated or completed from the associate mobile app, and escalation messages can be sent to management. The staff appreciates streamlining the process while management can use the data collected to identify trends and improve service quality.

Automating preventive maintenance ensures the scheduled work is getting done on time to maintain the facility and protect the valuable capital investments made by owners. Managing all these assets and check lists, and scheduling the work using manual processes is painfully labor intensive with little accountability. Properly maintaining the facility using an automated system creates a more enjoyable and problem-free stay for the guest.

Understanding What it Takes for Ongoing Success
A critical aspect of achieving ROI with any system is the implementation and successful use of the system by the hotel team. Corporate and hotel managers cannot expect instant results without leading the change management aspects of the implementation. Beware of the vendor that promises instant success or talks more about cool features than people and processes. Experienced vendors effectively communicate expectations and have well-defined processes for implementation and ongoing success management. Sustainability requires a vendor with effective online training, tutorials, knowledgebase articles, and a responsive support team that knows the hotel industry.

Evaluating the Right Vendor and Product
As you would not judge a book by its cover, the same is true for software. Slick demonstrations are nice, but also look under the hood at the company behind the software. A clean user interface is important, but the configurability often shows the true robustness and quality of the software. Software without good configurability restricts flexibility for essential tasks like setting up a new inspection, maintenance checklist, adding new equipment, or custom report filters. The number of vendors in this category has easily doubled in the last 10 years and continues to grow, so it is important to evaluate at least three vendors before you make a decision.

The benefits and rewards for a hotel that successfully automates its guest response and maintenance processes are huge. New technology is now available for small boutique and select-service hotels to move out of the dark ages to “How did we ever run our hotel without it?” Hotel executives who can lead their teams to successful adoption of this technology will reap the rewards along with their staff, owners and guests.

About The Author
Michael Benjamin
Vice President of Sales
Guestware


Mike Benjamin is the Vice President of Sales and co-owner of Guestware – a hospitality customer relationship management (CRM) and Guest Experience software and solution provider. Mr. Benjamin co-founded the company in 1990 after working at Boeing for five years as a Mechanical Engineer. By 1993, he had established a niche in the lodging industry.

 
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