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Tech Talk

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In case you missed the memo, people no longer watch television the way that they did ten years ago. Not at home, and not at hotels. Nielsen reported that streaming services cornered 34.8% of TV screen time in July 2022, when they overtook cable for the first time. 

Property management systems (PMSs) fundamentally have changed very little since the 1980s. And many hotels still use systems that were built in the eighties, nineties, or aughts. Since then, massive technology changes have occurred: the mobile revolution, cloud computing, distributed ledgers, AI-based large language models, Web 3.0, and other innovations have fundamentally changed both the technological capabilities of software, the way it is designed and built, and expectations for user experience.

Hardly a day goes by that hotels do not express frustration about the inability to tie together key data sources and technology systems. This is not a new problem; it has been around for decades. Progress has been made on many fronts to be sure, but digitalization has created new issues much faster than solutions.

What’s on the minds of hoteliers? What’s keeping them up at night? And what makes travelers happy and eager to return? Some of the best places to have these candid discussions are at the industry’s conferences and events, and this year’s lineup has not disappointed. From AAHOACON and BITAC, to HITEC and The Hospitality Show, I’ve been traveling steadily, attending 13 events since January.

Technology has become an indispensable part of the guest experience. As travelers increasingly expect tech-enabled convenience, hospitality businesses must continue innovating to meet these demands. While WiFi was once the primary tech offering for hotels, today's guests want more. Integrated proptech solutions are becoming the new standard.

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Definitely Doug 11/17/23: The Hotel TV Dilemma
Posted: 11/17/2023 by Doug Rice

In case you missed the memo, people no longer watch television the way that they did ten years ago. Not at home, and not at hotels. Nielsen reported that streaming services cornered 34.8% of TV screen time in July 2022, when they overtook cable for the first time. 

Property management systems (PMSs) fundamentally have changed very little since the 1980s. And many hotels still use systems that were built in the eighties, nineties, or aughts. Since then, massive technology changes have occurred: the mobile revolution, cloud computing, distributed ledgers, AI-based large language models, Web 3.0, and other innovations have fundamentally changed both the technological capabilities of software, the way it is designed and built, and expectations for user experience.

Definitely Doug 10/20/23: Gluing It All Together
Posted: 10/20/2023 by Doug Rice

Hardly a day goes by that hotels do not express frustration about the inability to tie together key data sources and technology systems. This is not a new problem; it has been around for decades. Progress has been made on many fronts to be sure, but digitalization has created new issues much faster than solutions.

What’s the Buzz Among Today’s Hoteliers?
Posted: 10/17/2023 by Mike Gray

What’s on the minds of hoteliers? What’s keeping them up at night? And what makes travelers happy and eager to return? Some of the best places to have these candid discussions are at the industry’s conferences and events, and this year’s lineup has not disappointed. From AAHOACON and BITAC, to HITEC and The Hospitality Show, I’ve been traveling steadily, attending 13 events since January.

Technology has become an indispensable part of the guest experience. As travelers increasingly expect tech-enabled convenience, hospitality businesses must continue innovating to meet these demands. While WiFi was once the primary tech offering for hotels, today's guests want more. Integrated proptech solutions are becoming the new standard.

In the early days of September, MGM Resorts International grappled with a cyberattack on their Las Vegas properties, which wrought havoc on numerous critical systems and operations. Over the course of ten days, MGM's cybersecurity team diligently labored to ascertain the origins and scope of these infiltrations, devising a strategic plan to restore normal functionality. While the precise financial impact remains undisclosed, the reverberations are undeniably significant, given the widespread consequences that befell MGM's infrastructure, affecting everything from slot machines and ATM terminals to the guest loyalty program, room access key cards, and even the operation of elevators.

In my last blog, I introduced the topic of software that enables hotel guests to book local experiences. I cited potential key benefits, including commission revenue, guest satisfaction, reduced staff workload, and new direct bookings.

Three Mistakes Hotels Are Making with Wi-Fi
Posted: 09/18/2023 by Geri Sullivan

Wi-Fi is now like the foundation for your hotel: if it’s not solid, it can jeopardize everything.
Your HSIA network has to deliver the performance and experience your guests demand; Wi-Fi has evolved from being an amenity to a necessity and key driver of guest satisfaction.
In the converged world, all your systems for business operations depend on a solid and secure Wi-Fi network. Without it, nothing else works properly—your staff and systems will struggle, and you will waste precious time, money, and resources trying to recover.
Here are three things you may be doing that put you and your Wi-Fi network at risk, and what you should do instead.

Definitely Doug 9/15/23: Experience Matters!
Posted: 09/15/2023 by Doug Rice

Hotels are usually the first thing a traveler books within a destination. And hotels usually know that destination better than anyone else (or any website) a guest might consult. But are hotels connecting the dots?

Definitely Doug 8/25/23: Check It Off the List!
Posted: 08/25/2023 by Doug Rice

This week I will cover software that goes under various descriptions, including quality assurance, audit, and checklist management. It includes anything that involves a standard list of things that someone needs to perform or verify. In hospitality, this is still an emerging field, but is growing very rapidly.

Today’s Traveler: Your Guide to Current Expectations and Preferences
Posted: 08/22/2023 by Ajay Aluri and Alicia Plemmons

 Between 2020-2022, traveler adoptions fluctuated drastically due to the lockdowns, the impact of the variants, and the vaccination schedule. As the pandemic is behind us and people start to travel in 2023, one question is on every practitioner’s mind: What are the traveler’s current expectations and preferences in the post-pandemic world?

Definitely Doug 8/11/23: Charge Me Up!
Posted: 08/11/2023 by Doug Rice

Few things make travelers more anxious than a mobile phone with a low battery. For years, hotels have tried to play catch-up with evolving mobile device charging standards, and many seem to have given up. Guests can sometimes find desktop or bedside USB ports (dated but still relevant charging standard), but most hotels offer only an electrical outlet, and too many times it is in the most difficult-to-reach location possible. Others have made expensive decisions to install USB ports on bedside tables or work desks, only to find them out of date when the standards changed – or broken by frequent use.

Unless you have been comatose for the past eight months, you have heard about ChatGPT. In fact, no technology product has ever seen such rapid mass adoption. ChatGPT reached 100 million users about two months after its launch late last year. The next closest product – TikTok – took almost five times longer to reach that milestone.

With HITEC 2023 now in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for a wrap-up of what was new, different, and interesting on the show floor. As usual, I tried to visit every first-time exhibitor for at least an overview. There were 89 newbies, of which I was able to visit 75. One was a complete no-show, while 13 others had unattended booths when visited.

Industry Professionals Celebrate 2023 HITEC Return to Toronto
Posted: 07/11/2023 by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals

The Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC®) celebrated its return to Toronto hosting over 4,500 attendees at the Metro Toronto Convention Center from June 26-29. Produced by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®) for more than 50 years, the event showcases the industry's latest technology innovations from over 325 exhibitors and provides a top-notch education program with dozens of specialty topic and general sessions.

What’s in the cloud — and who owns it — anyway? Despite the industry’s reliance on cloud computing, security myths and other concerns swirl among discussions about the technology, sometimes leading operators to mistrust potential technology partners. These rumblings can lead to a storm of operational disruptions, leaving hoteliers feeling rudderless in a marketplace that requires constant adjustment and reaction.

If you are still on the fence about which of the two competing trade shows to attend next week, then you are a master procrastinator. And if you wonder if you made the right choice, I guarantee you are not alone. But stay with me and I will try to provide some insight into whichever show(s) you plan to attend.

In a very intimate, theatre-style setting the boutique and independent hotel groups came together for two days in New York City. Ariela Kiradjian, Partner and COO of BLLA, and half of the mother-daughter duo behind BLLA, facilitated a highly engaging two days of panels focusing on financing, debt, environmental investment and technology. The orange sky and poor air quality in the Northeast were as bad as reported, but inside the Florence Gould Hall was nothing but pure energy. The next few paragraphs will provide a brief overview of the two days at the Boutique Hotel Investment Conference, held over June 7-8 at the famed venue.

Hotels rely on technology to provide the best guest experience and address new challenges big and small, but responsibly leveraging their investment in technology requires a concerted effort. A large part of realizing the benefits of the tech stack is ensuring that stakeholders and users are engaged in doing the work to achieve the desired benefits. The makeup of your hotel’s tech stack determines your property’s capabilities, starting with the property-management system. Measuring the success of your technology investment could mean the difference between thriving and struggling in the second half of 2023.

Hotels are preparing for a busy summer of leisure travel, and for resort hotels across the industry, success during this period will be determined by their ability to improve ancillary revenue from across their property. Considering the limited available labor in the industry, hoteliers need to ensure their property has the right technology in place to maximize the return on their revenue-generating goods and services—especially independent operators. Unfortunately, not every hotel PMS is set up to offer the same advantages in resorts compared to full or limited-service hotels. Determining these capabilities starts with understanding your property’s tech stack.

This week I want to address an important issue for the hospitality industry, albeit one that technologists have not historically had on their radar. They can potentially play a significant role in addressing the issue, which is human trafficking, and more specifically sex trafficking.

In my last column, I reviewed some key trends in autonomous mobile robotics for hotels, and dove into three categories of delivery robots in more detail – room delivery, food delivery, and heavy-lift robots. This week I will round out the topic with several other robot types and applications, as well as general guidance for evaluating, acquiring, and adopting mobile autonomous robotics. If you have not yet read part one, I recommend going back and doing so before continuing below, as some of the introductory material is important background to what follows.

With the arrival of warmer weather and summer fast approaching, hospitality operators are gearing up for another pool season. This year, technology is at the forefront of driving booking revenue and taking operational efficiency to the next level. Modern technology platforms (such as hospitality’s newest technology category – the Property Experience Management System or PXMS) are providing brand new capabilities that unlock new strategies and approaches to filling the pool with satisfied guests.

In the past few years, hotels and restaurants have grown into hubs for entertainment, leisure, and human connection. In an effort to best serve their guests, operators have begun rethinking their technological investments and working to adapt to recent shifts in consumer preference and operations. To ensure that guests have the best on-site experience possible, brands are increasingly looking to new technologies to make their experiences more convenient and comfortable. Advanced property management systems (PMS) and point-of-sale (POS) systems can increase operational and staff efficiency, while also meeting changing customer expectations for a high-value but relatively low-touch experience.

This week I will return to a topic I have covered before, because it has, within the last 12 to 18 months, become one of the hottest-growth categories in hospitality technology. That topic is autonomous mobile robots – specifically, ones that can move around the facility as well as perform specific tasks. Many of these products were launched pre-Covid but were often seen at the time as more of a marketing gimmick than a legitimate operational solution.

In 2017, the Project Management Institute estimated that the value of project-oriented economic activity worldwide would grow from $12 trillion in 2017 to $20 trillion by 2027. This report obviously could not have foreseen the dramatic uptick in projects that the Covid-19 pandemic would initiate across the world economy – accelerating the wholesale adoption of digital tools and technologies and driving transformation across almost every major industry. Today, as we approach endemicity, and organizations look to meet evolving employee, environmental and customer demands, the flow of new projects and the project economy is developing faster than ever before.

In my last installment, I covered the basics of Attribute-Based Selling (ABS) and how it could generate incremental revenue for hotels, even including (up to a point) for bookings made through Online Travel Agents (OTAs). This week will continue that theme and outline reasons why hotels might want to consider using ABS, as well as some of the operational considerations and thoughts on yield managing attributes.

What is PXMS?
Posted: 04/25/2023 by Tracee Nalewak

A new technology acronym has emerged in hospitality--PXMS. Not to be confused with the hotel PMS (property-management system), PXMS focuses solely on the guest experience (X) beyond the guestroom. A Property Experience Management System is a full-cycle solution platform that enables resort leaders to sell their experience-based inventory with as much flexibility as their rooms.

Over the past five years, much has been written in the hotel industry press about attribute-based selling, or ABS. I first covered the topic here about two years ago. At that time, there were lots of reservation systems and booking engines supporting ancillary sales (covered in part two of that article here), but no commercial products that offered guests the ability to specify the attributes of the guest room that matter to them. For those who are unclear, I will cover the difference between attribute and ancillary sales in a moment.

The purpose of business intelligence software is problem solving. The data derived can be analyzed to deliver actionable information that helps hotel owners and operators make more informed business decisions. With a single source of truth across the portfolio, hoteliers hope to budget better, forecast further, and cut costs more consistently to remain competitive in the industry.


This week I want to focus on an emerging tech-forward hospitality company that is pushing the envelope of innovation. Most of its technological developments service its own unique needs in a market that has yet to emerge. But several of its core technologies could well be applicable in mainstream hotels. My crystal ball is not clear enough to say which ones, how soon, or who will find success with them, but to me they are well worth watching.

Merging High Tech With High Touch to Create a New Hospitality Paradigm
Posted: 03/23/2023 by Fran Worrall, Hospitality Upgrade Editor

One of the key challenges facing today’s hoteliers is that of high tech vs high touch. Does technology conflict with personalized service? Is it possible to offer both during the same visit? And can hotels that utilize technology in favor of human interaction achieve guest loyalty?

Business travel is picking back up and families may be taking their first or second real vacations since the pandemic cancelled so many plans just a few years ago. To ensure that guests have the best on-site experience possible, hoteliers are increasingly looking to new technologies to make their stay more comfortable than ever. With an advanced property management systems (PMS) and integration platforms, hoteliers can increase operational and staff efficiency, but also meet changing guest expectations for a high-value but relatively low-touch experience. We looked ahead to see what changes we expect to see sweeping the hospitality industry this year.

Long-term readers of this blog know that I rarely focus on a single company or product. My goal is to help readers understand new and emerging technologies, when and why they might be useful, and what to consider if you are buying them.

The Future of Hotels
Posted: 02/21/2023 by Dr. Chekitan Dev

Hotels have always been a high-touch low-tech business. Today, and into the foreseeable future, hotels are moving away from the pure ‘people serving people’ model towards a more high-tech low-touch business, and doubling down on digitalization. In the paragraphs below, I envision ways in which tech can innovate and enhance the guest experience throughout the guests’ 6 stage hotel journey: Imagine-Book-Stay-Report-Recommend-Return.

Definitely Doug 2/10/23: Planning for June
Posted: 02/10/2023 by Doug Rice

The question I have heard most often in recent months is “where are you going in the last week of June?”. As most readers are aware, two trade shows featuring hotel technology are scheduled during the same dates that week. Many of you are still undecided which to attend. Knowing that your decision will be based at least in part on where others are going (hoteliers and exhibitors both), I decided to try to get some real data that I could share.

The Shiji Distribution Solutions team provided the research on available partners, vendors, and technology, however, for obvious reasons, the chart doesn’t contain every single solution and partner available. 

In case you missed my last column from two weeks ago, it included a very short online poll to assess readers’ plans vis-à-vis the two competing technology-oriented trade shows scheduled for June 26-29. I will report the results in my next column, but if you haven’t taken the poll already, I’d really appreciate it if you could complete it now. The average respondent so far needed just over 90 seconds to complete it, and it will help a lot of people who are still undecided whether to head to Las Vegas or Toronto. Thank you!

The hospitality industry continues to face major challenges as the labor landscape shifts, driven by the pandemic and global macro-economic factors. As in other industries, hoteliers find themselves having to re-write the value proposition of working at a hotel. 

With every new year come the most recent studies and latest predictions aimed to forecast trends that will impact our industry. 2023 is no different.

Definitely Doug 1/13/23: Predictions for 2023
Posted: 01/13/2023 by Doug Rice

Before this week’s column, I’d like to ask you a favor. If you could complete this short survey, we can gather some data that may help a lot of my readers who are trying to assess the relative traction of the competing trade shows scheduled for the end of June. While it’s great to hear that AHLA and HFTP have now agreed to avoid conflicting dates in future years, this year both shows are scheduled for June 26-29. I know many attendees and even some exhibitors are still trying to decide which show(s) to attend. Many are taking a wait-and-see attitude but want to know what others are doing before deciding. I know I do.

Looking ahead, Point of Sale or POS systems for hospitality will be shaped by the confluence of data and interoperability.  Data, understanding guests’ interests, behavior, and history, allows staff to deliver a better and more targeted experience. The interoperability of this data allows for the guest experience to be seamless. Combining these two things ensures that guests will receive a highly personalized smooth experience that feels natural. 

Technology Plays a Key Role in Reducing Travel-Related Stress
Posted: 01/10/2023 by Fran Worrall, Hospitality Upgrade Editor

Streamlining the guest journey is top of mind for any hotelier. Hotel Online recently sat down with Mike Gathright, senior vice president of customer experience at Hilton, to learn what types of technology enable smoother and more stress-free guest stays and to find out what the brand is doing to make guest service more efficient. Gathright oversees reservations, guest services and support, as well as Hilton’s digital channels, including website and mobile app, property and contact center.

This week’s topic will be a holiday-shortened but nevertheless important one. As an industry, we all know there is a labor challenge today. Some parts of the world have earned a temporary reprieve as travel demand has dropped, but others, notably the U.S. market, are still struggling to find staff. For most of the world, it remains a long-term problem.

3 Tips We Learned from a Top Luxury Hotelier
Posted: 12/13/2022 by Matthew Lynch

As a hotelier, you know there are many ways to define luxury. From a property’s physical space to its service culture standard, there’s no question that luxury lives in the details. But can you define a hotel as luxurious without modern, interactive technology? Perhaps luxury hotelier, Vaughn Davis, can offer some insight.

Brand Building and the Guest Journey – An Unbreakable Bond
Posted: 12/06/2022 by Róisín O'Keeffe

Hotel organizations have always invested heavily in their brands. For that reason, both hotel groups and independent properties are highly protective of their brand identities, which is understandable since the brand embodies their reputation in the market. As Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

Payments may appear relatively straightforward for guests, but they can be excruciatingly complex for hotels. The reason for this is that the current payment facilitation landscape is highly distributed: When a guest purchases a room or an add-on and hits “pay,” their request must pass through a series of systems and vendors, including the payment gateway or processors, acquirers and payment service providers, and the various banks and payment methods themselves. The result of this dispersion of vendors is that payments can become needlessly complex for hotels (and their guests!), leading to wasted time, increased errors, and a more cumbersome guest experience. In this article, we’re going to look at ways that hotels can streamline payments, both for their guests and themselves, and in the process develop a secure payments system that can actually enhance revenue and amplify the guest experience. 

Definitely Doug 12/2/22: 2022 in Review
Posted: 12/02/2022 by Doug Rice

As December begins, we can reflect on a year in which quite a bit happened in the hotel tech space. A year ago, we were still contemplating whether and when a full industry recovery from the pandemic would happen. Now the debate has shifted, as many sectors of the industry have recovered, but with structural changes evident. Hybrid workplaces, work-from-anywhere, and greater use of video conferencing in place of many face-to-face meetings, all appear to be part of the new reality. The hotel and lodging accommodation industry are adjusting, albeit in fits and starts. Leisure and blended travel are very strong, conferences and trade shows are returning, but business travel is weaker.

Quick Wins for Conversions This Holiday Season
Posted: 11/15/2022 by Luke Markesky

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have surged in popularity over the past decade, most hotels still need to set up separate campaigns for selling rooms, event tickets, and other ancillary spend throughout the holiday season. Of course, from discounted rates to special inclusions, there are many ways that hoteliers can tempt potential guests and encourage them to book a stay.  

Making the Most of Your 2023 Budget
Posted: 11/15/2022 by Amadeus

2022 will be remembered as the year of travel industry renewal. Throughout the spring and summer, we saw leisure demand surpass pre-pandemic levels globally, laying excellent foundations for a strong Q4 where hotel reservations are outpacing 2019 bookings, according to Amadeus business intelligence data.
With such positive indicators heading into 2023, how are you preparing to allocate your technology budget to tackle your greatest needs? Here are 5 important budget considerations for next year:

In the past few years, several product launches have introduced video chat capabilities for hotels. The underlying technologies are quite mature (thanks to the COVID-induced videoconferencing boom), and some hotels and even larger groups are now moving aggressively to implement them. Most, however, have yet to consider them. Today’s column will explore the technology, why it might or might not make sense for a hotel or group, and key considerations for evaluating solutions.

Definitely Doug 10/28/22: The Trade Show Duel
Posted: 10/28/2022 by Doug Rice

This week I will divert from my more typical subject matters to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart, and that has recently been the subject of much discussion in the North American (and global) hotel tech community. And that is dueling industry conferences sponsored by associations.

The Elements of Hotel Automation: An Infographic
Posted: 10/18/2022 by Shiji Insights Team

Over the past several years, there has been a constant debate around automation in hotels and the dilemma between human interactions and machines. While hotels are a relationship-based service industry, the last decade has proven that the guests don’t appreciate waiting in line and that transaction-type interactions (payments, invoice printing, et cetera) have a low added value. In those interactions, only automation can help. 

Amadeus’ Demand360 business intelligence data, which offers both retrospective and forward-looking insights to inform revenue strategy, reveals that global hotel occupancy has exceeded pre-pandemic levels consistently throughout the summer. For July and August 2022, hotels have seen a global occupancy average of 67% compared with an average of 64% over the same timeframe in 2019 - a 3% increase from 3 years ago.

Several times in the past year, I have heard senior hotel IT executives express views about facial authentication and recognition. I have been surprised at how misinformed some of them are.  To be clear, I’m not talking about someone who knows the topic and was presenting it at a conference, but rather to casual comments made in panel sessions or in smaller conversations where facial biometrics came up.

In the wake of the COVID pandemic, hotel operators are facing intense pressure to mitigate rising labor costs while still providing exemplary customer service. While operators have always been sharply focused on labor costs as a line item on the expense report, the current economic climate will shape the way hotel companies build their teams for years to come.

Hospitality is an industry whose quality of guest experience hinges on “personal touch.” But after two years spent six feet apart, the definition of “personal touch” is being completely reconstructed.

Definitely Doug 9/30/22: You’re Hired!
Posted: 09/30/2022 by Doug Rice

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, the hospitality industry has a major labor issue. Occupancy is roughly back to pre-pandemic levels, but a lot of the workers have not come back – and they don’t plan to. In the U.S. alone, the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show employment in the accommodation sector is still 19% below its February 2020 level, or almost 400,000 jobs short. Many of my past blog topics have explored areas where technology can reduce the workload at hotels, and the feedback is that it often helps.

Everything you need to know about Website Audits
Posted: 09/21/2022 by Nimesh Dinubhai

Think back to a time you went to see the doctor because of an issue. Do you recall the first thing the doctor did? Instead of going straight into surgery, they would first gather all the information about your case and then send you to get some tests done. 

If you are a hotel IT executive and your company operates identical technology portfolios at every hotel, then you can stop reading right now: this column is not for you. But this only describes independent hotels and a few brands that own and manage all their hotels within a limited geographic footprint. Omni, Loews, and some of the gaming hotel companies come to mind in North America. There are others elsewhere in the world, but it is unlikely that they account in total for more than a few percent of all non-independent hotels worldwide.

Definitely Doug 9/2/22: Got Any Hot Tips?
Posted: 09/02/2022 by Doug Rice

I first wrote about digital tipping two years ago, when the pandemic had led many consumers to prefer contactless interactions. The idea was just emerging then, and the products still had rough edges. Two years later, digital tipping is clearly emerging as a trend, with at least 10 to 12 companies in the field having gained some early traction. However, it is still far from a mature application, and many hotels are struggling with whether and how to implement it. Friction for guests, tipped staff, and hotel accounting staff is lessening, but it is still not as easy as it needs to be.

Independent, multi-property boutique chains have grown tremendously in the past few years, as travelers seek out unique, immersive stay experiences. These growing brands offer travelers the best of both worlds, delivering a distinct brand image and unique service philosophy of an independent property, coupled with the consistency and professionalism associated with larger chains.

When the world has moved online, converting customers for your business has become more accessible, given that you crack the code to drive traffic. So when individuals instantly search about all their questions and need right on the tap of a finger, the business can grow tremendously if you have nailed the art to rank well on the search engine. 
So, if you too aspire to drive organic traffic on your website and need some easy tips to work for the Search Engine Optimization (SEO), read about them in detail and don't forget to implement them and track some legit visible results too! 

Nine in 10 consumers say they are looking for sustainable options when traveling, according to Expedia’s Spotlight on Sustainable Travel. And, the 2022 Booking.com Sustainable Travel Report reveals that 63 percent of travelers want to make more effort in the next year to travel more sustainably, up 10 percent from 2021. These decisions are setting the pace for hoteliers’ sustainability efforts for 2022 and beyond.

While case studies often provide valuable insights into a company or product, they can also leave a lot of room for interpretation and doubt about whether you can reasonably expect similar results for your organization. This is especially true for hospitality, which is why the best case studies encompass data from large and small properties, resort and city properties, branded and independent, casino and regular hotels, and so on.  

My last column introduced the large and complex category of Guest Journey Software (GJS). It made the case that this should be on virtually every hotel’s radar as an inexpensive way to reduce operating costs, increase guest satisfaction, and generate new revenue. I outlined the benefits and explained why the timing is now right for many hotels – when just a few years ago, the offerings were still pretty rough. I also provided insights into the challenges of deploying GJS.

More and more hotel software vendors today talk about optimizing the “guest journey.” But what exactly does this mean? What are the benefits to the guest and to the hotel, and should your hotel(s) be looking at these solutions? And if so, how should you evaluate them?

Today’s hospitality market has seen a resurgence in travel demand, but in many ways it’s a much different environment than what existed prior to 2020. For one thing, the cost of labor will begin to rise as hoteliers offer increased wages, benefits and career advancement opportunities to correct chronic staff shortages. Customer demand has also changed, as guests begin to expect higher service levels, more personalization of the guest experience and more widespread adoption of hybrid travel models, such as bleisure trips or short-term rentals.

As the world of travel evolves, meetings and events are changing with it. Although we may not be experiencing a full industry recovery just yet, the global hotel occupancy gap compared to pre-pandemic is quickly closing, with 2022 group business making a comeback and trending only slightly behind 2019 levels.

To answer these questions and help accelerate hospitality’s recovery, Oracle Hospitality partnered with travel industry firm Skift to publish the just-released, global research study, Hospitality in 2025: Automated, Intelligent… And More Personal.

Despite continued gains in occupancy and revenue in the past 18 months, the hospitality industry still struggles with persistent and sometimes critical labor shortages. A newly released study by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) surveyed over 500 hoteliers in May 2022 and found that nearly all of the survey respondents (97%) experienced staffing shortages, while almost half (49%) experienced severe staffing shortages. These shortages were most pronounced in housekeeping, where 58% of respondents listed it as their biggest challenge. Across America, there still remain over 130,000 unfilled hospitality positions.

If there was one thing said consistently by HITEC attendees in Orlando last week, it was that “HITEC is back.” While its official post-pandemic return may have been in September 2021, that event just wasn’t like the pre-COVID ones. Few international participants were there, and even many of the usual domestic exhibitors and attendees took a pass based on budgets, travel policies, or health concerns. But last week, none of these issues seemed to matter – even if a dozen or so people I saw in Orlando have since been laid low by COVID!

With superheroes, you see time after time a single incident turning a “normal” person into someone with unimaginable superpowers. Whether it’s a radioactive spider bite, being struck by lightning, exposed to gamma rays, or injected with a serum, an ordinary person is turned extraordinary in an instant. Throughout their transformation, they acquire special abilities that range from invisibility to flight. 

Definitely Doug 6/24/22: What’s New at HITEC?
Posted: 06/24/2022 by Doug Rice

What a difference nine months makes. Last September, we gathered in Dallas for the first post-COVID HITEC. Or more accurately, some of us did, but many of the usual exhibitors and attendees sat on the sidelines, hamstrung by the uncertain pace of the recovery, budgets, pandemic travel policies, and personal health concerns. The exhibit floor last fall was significantly smaller than in recent years, and attendance was down, even if most of the vendors felt that the quality of attendees was higher. Those who attended were seriously looking to buy, and the vendors I spoke with were mostly very happy with the event despite the downsizing.

One of These Is Just Like the Others
Posted: 06/20/2022 by Michael Schubach

In life, the easiest decisions to make are the Boolean ones, those for which there are only two possible answers. When your choices are yes or no, true or false, up or down, and in or out, then you can make your wants and needs definitively known in a matter of seconds – just ask any two-year-old.  

Information and Telecommunications Costs
Posted: 06/08/2022 by Robert Mandelbaum & Adam Barry

Just as technology has become more ubiquitous throughout our lives, it is now impacting guest service and hotel operations throughout all departments in a hotel. To provide more exposure to the growing costs associated with hotel information and technology systems, the 11th edition of the Uniform System of Account for the Lodging Industry added a discrete undistributed department to capture these expenses. Prior to the 11th edition the costs for phone and internet service, payroll for telephone operators and computer technicians, and charges related to information systems were allocated to multiple departments within the operating statement.

The sort of web hosting you select is critical for the website you wish to build. If you are just getting started, you should familiarize yourself with the many forms of web hosting. You can then determine which choice is ideal for your website. 


My last column outlined the challenges of connecting hotel systems in order to exchange the data they need from each other. Where vendor-supported interfaces exist and do exactly what you need, they are usually the best way to get reliable performance. But in many cases, available interfaces may not meet your hotel’s particular requirements, they may not exist at all, or they may be cost prohibitive.

Few issues frustrate hotel technologists more than interfaces.

The importance of sharing data across multiple systems in hotels grows every year. Yet some of the most common complaints I heard thirty years ago are still around today, maybe just a little less common. We still hear “my vendor doesn’t have the interface I need” or “we bought the interfaces from both vendors to connect their systems, but they just don’t work together the way we expected.” Closely related is “our vendors interface with each other, but one of them wants to charge us $10,000 and we can’t afford that.”

Definitely Doug 5/6/22: Taming the Water Beast
Posted: 05/06/2022 by Doug Rice

Water has become a major challenge for hotels, both in terms of cost and as one aspect of sustainability programs. Reducing water usage is smart from both a financial and environmental perspective. On the cost side, water accounts for about 10% of hotel utility bills. And while the cost of water varies substantially depending on location, it is increasing faster than inflation. Data on 30 U.S. cities from Circle of Blue showed about a 53% price increase from 2010 to 2019, with many drought-parched locations significantly higher.

Which Loyalty Program is Best for Your Hotel?
Posted: 05/03/2022 by Joel Huffman

The hospitality industry has always faced a unique challenge that most other industries don’t have: Repeat customers are hard to come by. Studies show that around 90% of all hotel guests never return for a second stay. Some of the reasoning for this is understandable — many guests are visiting from far away, and people often like seeing new places when they travel. However, times are changing. In the post-pandemic world, many people are opting to return to familiar places that they trust.

There are three main reasons why hotels solicit feedback from guests. The first is simply to get a “report card” of how your hotel is doing vs. competitors or other hotels in the same brand or management group. This is interesting information and may help make or break someone’s management career, but otherwise is not very actionable. The second is to identify ways to channel capital funds or operating expenses to projects that will have the greatest impact on overall guest satisfaction and, through it, revenue and profit. The last is to get insights into what specific guests liked or disliked about your hotel so that their next-stay experience will be better, increasing their preference for your hotel.

What to Look for When Sourcing Out Your New Cloud PMS
Posted: 04/20/2022 by Warren Dehan

Today’s hotel operators are on the move more than ever and many are challenged with not enough time or staff to manage operations in this new landscape. Hoteliers are telling us they need more mobility for remote staff, on-the-go users, and guest self-serve environments, which is why more properties are taking command of their property using Web browser-based systems. These platforms give operators the freedom to control their properties from anywhere and use a variety of devices, something that has become a necessity due to limitations on available labor and the growing need for operational flexibility.

The Evolution of Hospitality Technology: Part Two
Posted: 04/18/2022 by Shiji Insights Team

We recently kicked off our latest series, “The Evolution of Hospitality Technology,” chatting with five industry veterans and Shiji experts about their experiences watching the hospitality technology space evolve, from pre-internet days, up through today, and looking forward to what the future might hold. 

Definitely Doug 4/8/22: How Was Your Stay?
Posted: 04/08/2022 by Doug Rice

My previous column was the first in a series of three focusing on tools that collect, analyze, and act upon guest feedback. The initial installment covered online reputation management (ORM), which matters at the very first step of the sales funnel – where potential guests are qualifying hotels, typically using Google, Tripadvisor or an online travel agent (OTA). This second segment addresses guest satisfaction survey (GSS) software, which can work in tandem with ORM and is offered by many of the same vendors. For branded hotels, however, GSS is often separate because the tools are usually selected by the brand, whereas ORM software is mostly left to the discretion of the owner or manager.

Social media has slowly become an integral part of everyone's lives. From scrolling when bored to posting some aesthetic pictures you clicked on your last trip, it consumes a considerable amount of your daily life.

For better or worse, every hotel is affected by its online reputation. Summary ratings posted on metasearch sites like Tripadvisor and Google often determine which hotels even get consideration at the start of the planning phase. Further down the sales funnel, reviews themselves become important as travelers look to see what others like them enjoyed or disliked about specific hotels. Online reviews are an anomaly in consumer marketing: unlike your internal data, they are available for anybody to see, both for your hotel and for your competitors. You can be certain sure that if you don’t manage your reviews well and your competitors do, it will hurt you.

The last two years has signaled monumental shifts within the hospitality industry – both good and bad. Along with the challenges surrounding fluctuating demand and staffing shortages, the pandemic has also ushered in a new era of hybrid travel that are giving hotels a new revenue lifeline.

The Evolution of Hospitality Tech: Part One
Posted: 03/16/2022 by Shiji Insights Team

Most of the time at Shiji Insights, we look outward, interviewing the world’s top innovators, thought leaders, and trendsetting professionals in hospitality and hospitality technology. We’ve had some amazing conversations, highlighting everything from WiFi vs 5G in hotels to how one of Europe’s largest golf resorts manages their IT to understanding Distribution in China and much more. 

My last column introduced some of the many Connected Hotel applications that can be valuable for hotels, especially in an age of labor shortages. This week, I will cover key questions to ask to decide whether, when and how to deploy them. While my primary focus today is how to move from an unconnected hotel towards a fully connected one, some of the material should be useful even if you are just looking at adding one or two capabilities to an existing infrastructure.

Social media app TikTok recently topped Google as the world’s most visited website. That impressive feat also cements TikTok as a top channel for hotel marketers. It’s simply no longer possible to ignore the reach and impact of this platform.

The hotel industry is in the middle of its greatest restructuring in decades. Hotels are adapting long-held operating models to compensate for staff lost to the great resignation. In December 2021, there were some 1.7 million hospitality and leisure jobs open, nearly twice the level of early 2020. Where new staff simply cannot be hired, many hotels are leveraging technology to enable the remaining staff to do more with less.

Hoteliers can recognize high-quality service a mile away — they spend all day delivering it to guests, after all. With technology playing a greater role in hotel operations, finding a reliable partner for your hotel’s property-management system is crucial. With so many features and offerings in play these days, from the way data is handled to the growing list of integrations taking place across the industry, finding your ideal PMS partner is easier said than done.

As hospitality companies balance a prolonged recovery with the current labor shortage, they’re rebuilding teams with extreme caution. Team members at both the property and corporate levels continue to wear multiple hats and take on more tasks outside of their core responsibilities. Meanwhile, the reset has given owners and operators a chance to rethink how they structure their organizations, and many are choosing a more centralized and collaborative approach.

Few challenges to today’s hospitality operations are bigger than labor. Shortages have forced many hoteliers to rethink long-held beliefs about hospitality as a business where service is provided only by smiling, welcoming humans. Hoteliers are realizing that they cannot deliver a good experience without changing the mix of humans and technology. And especially during the pandemic, we have learned that many guests want less human contact.

Is your hotel’s data protected? What if your hotel lost access to its data overnight? A situation like this would be more than an inconvenience, it would threaten your hotel’s operations and negatively impact your business in a myriad of ways. Loss of access to data could be the result of an on-premises system crash, which will be inconvenient, but which can be brought back into operation reasonably quickly with the help of your PMS and IT teams. The more serious threat to hoteliers is ransomware attacks, and unfortunately, thanks to their rising prevalence, should be a real concern to hoteliers.

Hotel businesses are run in part based on numbers, and they need to see them quickly if they are to address problems early. But with the many different silos of information found in a typical hotel group’s technology portfolio, this has long been easier said than done.

European Cookie Rules Continue To Evolve
Posted: 01/18/2022 by Richard Sheinis

CNIL, the French Data Privacy Supervisory Authority, has fined Google 150 Million Euros, and Facebook 60 Million Euros, for having websites that do not make refusing cookies as easy as accepting them.  Prior GDPR guidance, and rulings from various supervisory authorities, required that websites using cookies have a cookie banner that allows individuals to accept or reject different categories of cookies on an individual basis.  We are now all used to seeing cookie banners that have a button on a website home page allowing the viewer to view individual cookie settings, and a button that allows the viewer to accept all cookies with one click.

Five Easy Tips to Drive Revenue with Local Staycationers
Posted: 01/13/2022 by Jayme Schreiner

With the surges of COVID-19 variants still impacting international and long-distance travel, hotels and resorts need to get creative and think local to keep generating revenue. From couples and families to remote workers, most of us just need a break from being stuck at home – and your hotel can be the perfect escape. Creating special programs geared to locals is a great way to buoy ancillary spend while simultaneously setting your property up as an authentic community hub. If you aren’t sure where to start, we’ve compiled five easy tips to help transform your hotel into a haven for local staycations.

As the new year begins, industry experts are increasingly hopeful about the state of hospitality. After almost two years of an unprecedented downturn and despite ongoing effects of the pandemic—including the emergence of new COVID-19 variants and increased consumer awareness regarding health and wellbeing—2022 looks to be more promising as the industry figures out how to fulfill guest expectations without compromising safety.

Definitely Doug 12/17/21: 2021 In Review
Posted: 12/17/2021 by Doug Rice

If there has been a silver lining for hospitality from the pandemic, it is the rapid changes that occurred in the technology landscape during 2021. Two major trends are combining to help hotels better address some long-ignored opportunities: expanded interest in technologies that improve operational efficiencies, and consolidation in the vendor space. While these trends are distinct, they are also mutually reinforcing.

This week I am going to return to the subject of my blog from October 29 (“It’s Broken. Let’s Fix It.”). In the very first sentence of that article, I said I thought it would be controversial, because it highlighted how poorly technology is delivered in many hotels, and the resulting frustrations for guests and staff alike. I expected that many brands and technology vendors might react defensively.

A Flurry of Hotel Tech Company Mergers and Acquisitions Marks the End of 2021
Posted: 12/01/2021 by Fran Worrall, Hospitality Upgrade Editor

Since early 2020, the hospitality sector has witnessed a sea change. The worldwide disruption triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic forced almost every technology company in the industry to review their portfolios, reassess their strategies and redirect resources into areas with the greatest growth potential. Some businesses became targets for opportunistic deals, while others struggled to operate in ‘new normal’ mode.

Black Friday has surged in popularity over the past decade, and it has become the most important day for hotels to capture online bookings. Many travelers wait specifically for Black Friday to book their travel for the year, and most hotels cannot afford to miss out on this huge share of the business. Of course, creating an enticing sale offer is the first step to beating the competition and guaranteeing conversions. From discounted rates to special inclusions, there are many ways that hoteliers can tempt potential guests and encourage them to book a stay. 

Finding ways to justify the cost of new technology can be a challenge in today’s current environment, but many hoteliers are relying on it throughout the pandemic to improve operations, interact with guests, train workers, and increase revenue. With 2022 in sight, the rest of the industry is taking stock of the most valuable technology innovations that were successfully put-to-use this year. One big hurdle remains: the hotel property-management system.

Definitely Doug 11/12/21: Innovation in the Air
Posted: 11/12/2021 by Doug Rice

In days past, the onsite hotel IT person was a jack of all trades, knowing enough about each of the technologies to configure and support them reasonably well. Of course, the portfolio was probably just the property management system, point of sale, telephone system, entertainment system, and door locks. And of course, an interface computer to manage connectivity, usually by receiving, storing, and sending text files over serial interfaces.

Demystifying Smart Data
Posted: 11/02/2021 by David Tyre

“Smart Data” has become a buzzword in recent years. Businesses across a variety of industries are embracing intelligent data solutions to improve the way they do business, and the travel industry is no exception; in fact, hoteliers who use Smart Data can gain an edge over rival properties, particularly in today’s fiercely competitive recovery market.

The Single Best Summary of HITEC 2021
Posted: 11/02/2021 by Lyle Worthington

It felt so good to be back in the real world. I suppose that is the single best summary of HITEC 2021 I can come up with. There are quite a few recaps out there on the education and vendors – so I want to focus first on the human side of HITEC. After two years of virtual meetings, video chats, and home offices, we were once again able to walk a convention floor, shake hands, hug, and celebrate in person. Despite the need to wear masks and the extra-wide spacing between chairs and booths, it felt like a normal HITEC: a large convention floor, big vendor events, and a full education program. Certainly, there were fewer people this year, but at some of the events and in some of the sessions you couldn’t tell. Many of the education sessions were standing room only - even the Monday morning sessions. 

This week’s column will be controversial. It is built on both my own experience over three decades in hotel technology, and on countless conversations with some of the most knowledgeable IT leaders in the hotel industry, including major brand CIOs, vendor CEOs, consultants, investors, and others. Brand IT executives might publicly dispute much of what I will say, but many have privately admitted that it is largely accurate. These are things that need to be said.

Posted: 10/19/2021 by James Lingle

“How great is it to be HERE?”
As I took the stage at last month’s combined HITEC/ HFTP Annual Convention to moderate a panel on the outlook of the hospitality industry, that was the first thing I remember saying.  I hadn’t planned it, I didn’t have that in my notes, it just came out.  The response told me that I wasn’t the only person who felt that way.

A hospitality labor shortage wasn’t what anyone was expecting during a pandemic. But as travel demand bounces back, and the exodus of talent from the industry continues, it’s clear that accommodation businesses will be facing a fresh challenge, around people, in the years to come.

HITEC was a little different this year to be sure, but it was every bit as useful as in the past. It felt like the reduced attendance count was just about offset by the smaller number of exhibitors. While the trade show floor was not quite as large and had a good number of empty booths, it felt about equally crowded as pre-COVID. Feedback from exhibitors I spoke with was that the number of people calling on their booths was down, but the quality was very good. In a very tough year, one can only rate this as success.

Hotels are turning to technology to improve efficiency at a time when they are short staffed, but technology alone can’t improve operations or help boost revenue without a clear plan and measured research into the technology solution that actually meets their needs.

Earlier this year in keeping with COVID-19 health suggestions such as possible contamination through payment touchpoints I stopped using cash or credit cards to facilitate payment and moved to use the Apple Wallet app. This now acts as the digital version of the traditional leather wallet, and I have amongst many other apps the following on my Apple Phone which I found to be very beneficial.

After 27 months of absence, the in-person HITEC event finally returns next week. I plan to be in Dallas for all four days, and I look forward to seeing what innovations the exhibitors will have on display. As usual, I will spend most of my time scouring the booths of first-time exhibitors, since that’s where most of the truly innovative ideas are usually found. But if you’re an established industry technology company with something that is truly new and different, please reach out to me so I can find time to see it as well!

What Is the Technology Bus and Should You Get on Board?
Posted: 09/13/2021 by Brendon Granger

More than ever before, technology is playing an even larger part in the hospitality industry as a direct result of the pandemic. It’s being explored in new ways to support social distancing and a contactless guest experience. Paper based in room compendiums and room service menus are replaced with QR codes which allow guests full access to a range of facilities via their own mobile phones. Many hotels are implementing web check-in and in many cases, extending that further to keyless entry by again using guests mobile phones. The ability to deliver these services ideally requires integrated or interfaced systems within the hotel.

In the hotel industry, technologists usually leave basic infrastructure elements, like electricity, water, and ventilation, to the engineers. But digital convergence has brought this into question in recent years. While technology and engineering may be separate departments in the hotel, no longer are they independent. Technologists and engineers alike need to expand their horizons.

Posted: 09/02/2021 by Renie Cavallari

Humans are powerful. We constantly impact one another. It can be as simple as someone cutting you off as you are dashing down the highway. BAM! Their emotional energy jumps out of their vehicle and into yours. Before you know it, you go from perfect happiness to ticked off. Scarier yet, their ripple can continue unless you toss it aside and choose not to pass it on.  

Welcome to my fourth installment of helpful tips to prepare for HITEC 2021.  Today’s topic deals with financial management systems (FMS).  This includes those applications that you may refer to as accounting software, also known as enterprise resource planning applications (ERP), and cover tasks such as:

Definitely Doug 8/20/21: Where Can We Meet?
Posted: 08/20/2021 by Doug Rice

Groups and events are returning to hotels, even if in fits and starts. In the U.S., long-postponed social events such as family reunions and weddings are now filling up venues, especially on weekends. Smaller corporate meetings are still weak but have been buoyed by offices that went virtual during COVID and now need a place to bring the team together. Some larger events have been scheduled during the summer or fall, with many more planned for early 2022. The specific patterns vary in other parts of the world depending on government restrictions, infection rates, and other factors, but in general it seems like the patient is finally showing signs of recovery.

Discover Your BIG LIE
Posted: 08/09/2021 by Renie Cavallari

Through decades of hands-on practical work with clients along with research, observation, and endless modeling, I have explored how beliefs unleash or kill human potential. For over 20 years, RCI Institute and Aspire dug deeper and found that time and time again the same four challenges arose

Businesses spent more than a year adapting operational models, supporting remote workers, and adopting new technology to deal with the pandemic. Investments were made to accelerate business digitalization. With the economic recovery strengthening, companies must now align future technology investment with new business objectives.

HITEC 2021 Tip 3: Expense Management Systems
Posted: 08/08/2021 by Ron Strecker

Welcome to my third installment of tips for a successful visit to HITEC 2021.  Today, I want to focus on expense management systems (EMS).  These include applications for
·      time and attendance,
·      cost of goods sold tracking (food, beverage, retail, services),
·      other expenses (purchase orders),
·      and equipment maintenance, travel and entertainment, etc.

I first wrote about Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) in this blog late last winter. I rarely revisit a topic in less than a year, but the SSI space is evolving so much more quickly than I expected that it is already time for a big update.

Posted: 07/19/2021 by Renie Cavallari

Once you decide where you are going, you must become a fanatical messenger to your team members around why you are evolving and what it means to them.

HITEC 2021 Tip #2: A Lot Has Changed with RMS
Posted: 07/19/2021 by Ron Strecker

By now you should have had an opportunity to read through my first tip for HITEC 2021, and hopefully you shared it with others on your team.  I can't stress enough the need to consider having key members of your team attending this event based on the organization’s priorities.  The individual will benefit and so will the organization.

Knowing where to devote time and energy as a business is difficult in even the smoothest of waters, with contrasting visions, timelines and notions of what’s “crucial” commonplace for teams of every size.

Mobile food and beverage ordering has been around for a few years, but the pandemic has moved it into the mainstream, and diners are increasingly happy with it. The initial impetus was to reduce face-to-face contact and potentially contaminated shared surfaces. That imperative waned as vaccination rates increased and as the mode of virus transmission became better understood. But more recently, mobile ordering has been driven by severe labor shortages in hospitality and the inability of many hotels and restaurants to hire enough staff to return to the traditional operating model.

HITEC 2021 Tip #1: You NEED to Attend
Posted: 07/07/2021 by Ron Strecker

When HITEC takes place on September 27–30 in Dallas, it will have been 27 months since the last in-person HITEC.  For many, this annual event offers the opportunity to visit with most of your current vendors in one location.  It also creates an opportunity to meet vendors offering creative solutions you have been searching for.

Hire People Who Will Shine
Posted: 07/06/2021 by Renie Cavallari

Recruiting the right people is more strategic than most people realize. Your recruiting must align with both your brand and your culture.

A little over a year ago, as the first wave of COVID lockdowns was just starting to ease, I wrote in this blog that virtual and hybrid events would be the new normal for some time to come, and that hybrid meetings would persist post-COVID, and perhaps permanently.

How You Lead is Your Choice
Posted: 06/21/2021 by Renie Cavallari

Life is about choices. And the choices you make every day reflect your life. 

Hospitality is built on the development and nurturing of personal relationships, extending beyond interactions with guests to include other hoteliers and even vendor partners. Hotel and resort owners and operators know that it’s not always enough to deliver positive results to customers, sometimes it’s more important to develop a connection with guests when providing service. This mentality can be a challenge for technology partners who have been conditioned by other industries to deliver results without emotion. However, company culture defines the way partners work together, and technology companies can learn a great deal from hospitality’s service-driven ethos.

Four weeks ago in this space, I published comprehensive thoughts on the need to reimagine the guest arrival process, and the many challenges hotels have faced trying to do that. Guests want the journey from the porte cochère to their room to be simple, fast, and personalized. Hotels, facing the most severe staffing shortages of modern times, want to minimize the need for staff, but also enable them focus on things that can impact guest satisfaction.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is a subtle revolution going on in how people identify themselves. You may have experienced this at airport security checkpoints or boarding gates, where the Transportation Security Administration, Delta Airlines, American Airlines and others have been testing face readers. I admit it was a bit disconcerting when I walked up to the pre-check security checkpoint at O’Hare shortly before COVID, started to present my driver’s license and boarding pass, and was told “you can put those away and go right through” … especially since I had never pre-registered. I can only guess that they had matched the photo they had from my Global Entry membership, or maybe my passport, with a list of departing passengers for that day.

What’s the Difference Between Thriving and Surviving?
Posted: 06/01/2021 by Renie Cavallari

The difference between thriving and surviving is as vast as its impact on our life. When we are thriving, we are in a creative, engaged mindset. We see abundance and tend to be open to achieving more of what we want in our work, relationships and lives.

Even before the start of the pandemic, digital key and mobile check-in solutions were already fast becoming mainstream technologies thanks to the instant convenience that guests can receive. Add to that the advantages of enhancing social distancing and reduced surface contact that the technology offers, and it becomes clear why mobile check-in and digital key services are now experiencing unprecedented adoption rates in hotel markets around the world.

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.

Power is an interesting thing. With it, you can make a tremendous impact relatively easily. Understanding that impact is what makes some leaders "Super Heroes" and others "Super Duds"!

The hotel industry has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID19 pandemic. At its peak, more than ten percent of US hotels were closed and over 75 percent of all hotel workers were laid off. Owners and operators focused on “keeping the lights on,” and for the most part hoteliers were able to survive the worst year in the modern history of the industry. 

Definitely Doug 5/7/21: Over the Top
Posted: 05/07/2021 by Doug Rice

Not too many sectors of hospitality technology are as much in flux as guest room entertainment. Conventional wisdom of just a few years ago is rapidly changing and will likely continue to do so. Many experts in the space hold zealous but contradictory opinions on which approaches to Over-the-Top (OTT, or streaming) content will dominate in years to come. Many of them will be wrong; a few of them might be right.

Those with good memories can recall studies going back five years or more bemoaning the paper and pen nature of the hotel industry. Fast forward to 2021 and, for many, not that much has changed.
Independent properties still rely on this outdated and inefficient way of doing things, while hotel groups and chains have dipped a toe in the technology waters with some basic automation.

Encourage Productivity
Posted: 05/03/2021 by Renie Cavallari

I recently witnessed a conversation that was unraveling. It was interesting to watch how the person who was holding another person accountable became the bad guy. No one won. 

In my 33 years in hotel technology, never has there been a year that brought more change than the past one. Obviously COVID was a major factor, generating new solutions or simply accelerating adoption of preexisting ones. But other factors were at play as well.

How to Lead the Way Forward?
Posted: 04/20/2021 by Renie Cavallari

Throughout the past 12 months, Aspire has worked closely with hundreds of leaders. Many high-performing, and some not able to rise above the chaos of COVID-19. These leaders were across several industries, and approximately 42% found record-level performance. Through our work, we have been able to identify key attributes that high-performing leaders demonstrate. 

Online learning has its advantages, especially amidst a pandemic. Convenience, flexibility, and cost savings are just a few pluses that come to mind. But when a hotel migrates to a completely new financial management platform or adds new software modules, on-site training is still preferred. It’s not that the technology is too difficult to grasp online, but rather, hoteliers seem to thrive when they connect in person with their peers and vendor partners, and they desire to build a relationship with the people behind the software from day one.

Where Everybody Knows Your Name
Posted: 04/13/2021 by Amadeus

The American sitcom “Cheers” is ranked as one of the most popular television shows in history. Over 11 seasons and 275 episodes from 1982 - 1993, millions tuned in each week to see the latest happenings at local Boston drinking establishment "Cheers" (although we Bostonians know the show actually showed the exterior of the Bull & Finch pub). And while the show was mainly centered around various romances, social issues, and the personal dilemmas of the cast, it was the friendship, camaraderie, and good-natured joviality of the staff and guests that created a welcoming atmosphere that kept audiences returning each week.

My last blog addressed the hiring spree that appeared on the horizon once future bookings finally started trending upwards. Several senior hoteliers told me that it was right on the mark, that some hotels now have more than 100 open positions – and very few applicants. Former staff have either moved on to other, more stable industries, and they as well as potential new hires may be disincentivized to return to work by continuing government subsidies and/or child-care needs. If the rapid change from furloughs to hiring spree describes your situation, then you will want to explore some of the tech options I raised in the earlier blog, which continues here.

It is Always About Your People
Posted: 04/01/2021 by Renie Cavallari

I have worked with so many fantastic people over the years. Team members. Clients. Partners. Alliances. What I do know is that human beings are complex and, at the same time, simple. We all need connection. We all need people who believe in us. We all need a sense of belonging and the certainty that our contributions are valued.

How Will Tipping Work in a Cashless Hotel
Posted: 04/01/2021 by Larry & Adam Mogelonsky

The deployment of cashless payment solutions, a necessary commercial change, has been spurred by the pandemic. Indeed, many businesses have taken the additional step of banning the use of cash altogether. But there’s a problem here as this approach disrupts our service tipping mode. This may result in demoralized staff or lead to costly wage increases.

The hotel industry is planning for its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry leaders are flooded with forecasts and opinions about when and how the recovery will happen. Nearly every one of these predictions is wrong.

Definitely Doug 3/26/21: The Coming Hiring Spree
Posted: 03/26/2021 by Doug Rice

The travel industry is finally starting to see signs of real recovery. Air traffic and hotel occupancy are starting to pick up, and future travel plans are now being made at a robust pace for the summer and fall of 2021. Many hotels that have been operating at reduced or skeleton staffs, or closed entirely, are now starting to make hiring plans. Even with returns to reduced staffing levels, this will likely lead to the largest hiring spree in the industry’s history in coming months.

The Coach Approach to Performance & Accountability
Posted: 03/15/2021 by Renie Cavallari

How do you get the productivity you need when fear, worry, and anxiety seem to be driving some people's focus? Performance reflects leadership's ability to ensure productive action and accountability. 

Sometimes, the biggest threats are the ones we can’t see. Surely, this sentiment rang true over the last year, as the COVID-19 virus swept across the nation, ushering in widespread fear and regulatory change in its wake. But now, as hospitality prepares for a long-awaited period of recovery, we must direct our attention to another unseen threat data breaches. As our industry continues to adopt self-service technology to digitize the guest experience, guest data protection must be top of mind for every hotelier.

Definitely Doug 3/12/21: The Next Wave
Posted: 03/12/2021 by Doug Rice

Sometimes we need to step back from the technology challenges of the day and understand the opportunities that today’s emerging technologies will create for tomorrow.

Much has been written in the past six months about health passports; they represent one key element for getting the travel industry back to normal. The number of actual and in-development products I have seen touching this space is easily in the dozens. Some come from large organizations, like the International Air Transport Association’s Travel Pass, the World Economic Forum and Commons Project’s CommonPass, the International Chamber of Commerce’s AOKpass, and IBM’s Digital Health Pass. Others have been put forth from younger companies, like United Solutions’ Siqi, and from COVID-era startups like Verifly.

Building Culture and Cohesion during Social Distancing
Posted: 03/01/2021 by Mark Holzberg

With 2021 now in full swing, many business leaders, including myself, are anticipating and planning for a return to normalcy, even if that means a “new normal.” We eagerly await the day we can bring all employees back into the workplace safely. Today, there are medical treatments for the virus and vaccinations rolling out. However, we’re still a long way from getting a majority of people vaccinated. According to medical experts, we will probably need to continue wearing masks and social distancing at least throughout 2021.

Is HeadTrash Running (or Ruining) Your Life?
Posted: 03/01/2021 by Renie Cavallari

HeadTrash is the internal chatter of the little voices in your head. It doesn’t take much to get them whispering or even yelling. HeadTrash is created by the nasty, little people who live inside your brain. The chorus of critics who minimize you and convince you that you are not good enough. They are the "perfection people" who lurk in the shadows, waiting for you to fall out of your comfort zone and question you, your abilities and even your relationships.

My last column started by reminding readers that for the last 50 years, the way hotels sell has remained basically unchanged. It went on to discuss attribute-based selling as a major opportunity to better align with the expectations of today’s guests. This week I will continue the theme and highlight some of the many other revenue-enhancing technologies that have emerged in recent years (or are in development now) and that should at least be on the radar of hotels, if not already in their plans.

Most hotels today sell using a model that has changed very little for the last 50 years. The customer selects a room type and maybe a rate plan, an arrival date and number of nights, and confirms a booking. This works fine when all the guest needs, is a bed and shower. But for those looking for more, hotels are leaving money on the table.

You Need Tech for the Post-Pandemic Travel Surge
Posted: 02/11/2021 by Larry & Adam Mogelonsky

Vaccines are on the way and every hotel is eagerly awaiting the day when we can ‘get back to normal’ in terms of seeing a steady flow of new reservations to bolster all-too-depleted business returns. Careful what you wish for, though. There is another scenario we must be cognizant of – that of being drastically understaffed.

SiteMinder’s annual list of the Top 12 hotel booking revenue makers has, over the years, become the undisputed source of information on which distribution channels consumers are gravitating toward and, subsequently, which generate the greatest revenue for hotels around the world.

Most attempts to deploy new technologies at hotels fail. That’s my observation based on 30+ years of exposure to hundreds if not thousands of hotel technology projects. To be sure, some benefits may be gained, and success is often claimed, but in too many cases, when you go back to the original objectives, many were never achieved.

How Hotels are Getting Back to the Business of Meetings
Posted: 01/26/2021 by Fran Worrall, Hospitality Upgrade Editor

With the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine, can the return of meetings and conferences be far behind? Although the pandemic has no doubt changed the way events will be held—at least for the foreseeable future—most hoteliers and industry experts are feeling optimistic.

Revenue management endured a strange year in 2020. Last March, the terabytes of historical demand data that drove many revenue management system (RMS) algorithms became useless overnight. Someday it will return, but hotels can’t wait. In the meantime, many hotels have rethought their approach to revenue management in ways that will result in permanent as well as temporary changes.

What 2020 Taught Us
Posted: 01/12/2021 by Renie Cavallari

In early 2020 in celebration of Aspire's 25th Anniversary, I wrote a book called Sh*t I Wish I Knew, 25 Lessons over 25 Years. When we decided to make it a "limited edition," we had no idea how profound that decision would be!

What a difference a year makes. After hotel occupancy peaked at 62.2 percent last January, the onset of COVID-19 led to seven months of consecutive drops, bottoming out at 24.5 percent in April before stabilizing around 48 percent in October. Hotels have largely remained in operation during this bumpy ride thanks in part to investments made in new technology such as contactless communications, data analytics, and automated systems. Hotels are increasingly embracing innovation like never before as they search for new ways to operate, shedding outdated strategies in favor of what works.

The Pathway to Peace = Gratitude
Posted: 01/11/2021 by Renie Cavallari

In the chaos of an epidemic, we have never longed more for peace. Peace of mind. Peace between each other. Peace on earth.

Definitely Doug 12/18/20: The Game Changers
Posted: 12/18/2020 by Doug Rice

2020 is now thankfully almost behind us. With the arrival of vaccines, the hospitality industry is starting to regain some optimism about the future. The pandemic facilitated technology adoption, as hotel managers were forced to implement technologies that they previously rejected – and often found some of them very effective. This experience should reduce the resistance to adopting new technologies in hotels in coming years, at least a bit.

Increase Your Teams Positivity & Productivity
Posted: 12/15/2020 by Renie Cavallari

Everyone is asking for us to do more with fewer people. This can cause overwhelming feelings and frustration as everything seems to be important and urgent. 

The Outlook for Hospitality, Part 4: Technology Vendors Discuss Their Plans for the Future
Posted: 12/15/2020 by Fran Worrall, Hospitality Upgrade Editor

Two weeks ago, in Part 3 of our series on the outlook for hospitality, we asked some of the industry’s leading technology vendors to discuss the solutions that are helping the industry recover.

Where Data Goes to Die - Part 3
Posted: 12/11/2020 by Alan Zaccario

So, the unthinkable has happened. You have to close the hotel perhaps for good. Making some of the most difficult decisions of your career, you part ways with co-workers and friends, get rid of the food from the coolers and freezers and turn off the lights one last time. After agonizing days and nights of hard work, it is finally over and you can rest. Not so fast, there is still important work left to do. Strewn about your hotel customer data lies in plain view and hidden on hard drives, cloud share accounts and third-party applications. You protected your staff and business but who will protect your customers? Well, that task falls to you.

Definitely Doug 12/4/20: Takeaways from HT-NEXT
Posted: 12/04/2020 by Doug Rice

It was good to catch up with many industry colleagues this week at HT-NEXT. As much as I would have preferred a physical event, I will give the organizers a lot of credit for pulling together an engaging program and clever use of two technology platforms. I’ve mentioned the conference/exhibit hall platform (UgoVirtual) in an earlier blog on meetings technology, and for the most part it performed well.

The Secret to Leadership Success
Posted: 12/01/2020 by Renie Cavallari

For over 20 years, I have been blessed with great coaches and mentors that have guided me both formally and informally to awaken my potential, improve my leadership skills, and find both focus and joy in my life. There is no doubt in my mind that my "personal development team" helped me thrive over the years and shined the light on how to navigate the many storms that have come my way.

Last week, in Part 2 of our series on the outlook for hospitality, we asked some of the industry’s leading technology vendors the following question: How has your company pivoted to meet the new demands the industry is facing?

Overwhelmingly, the vendor community has risen to meet the challenges surrounding the pandemic, responding in a variety of creative ways—from offering clients free or discounted services to speeding the development of solutions that provide safe alternatives for guests and support long-term recovery.

This week, in Part 3 of our series, more than 30 leading hospitality technology vendors reveal the solutions and services that have done particularly well during the pandemic. From mobile ordering and payment applications to accounting and business intelligence systems, following are the products that are helping the industry get back on its feet.

Definitely Doug 11/20/20: Touchless Dining
Posted: 11/20/2020 by Doug Rice

COVID-19 has brought enormous misery to the hospitality industry, but it has also had some silver linings. One area that will likely be forever changed is how consumers choose, order, and pay for food away from home. There are hundreds if not thousands of mobile solutions serving restaurants around the world. Most of them did not exist just a year ago. This has of course been pandemic-driven, as a way to reduce COVID transmission risk. But in the process, restaurants and diners alike are finding some great advantages with the new solutions, many of which will survive post-COVID.

The Outlook for Hospitality, Part 2: How Vendors are Pivoting to Meet New Industry Demands
Posted: 11/16/2020 by Fran Worrall, Hospitality Upgrade Editor

In the fall issue of Hospitality Upgrade, we began our four-part series on the outlook for the hospitality industry by asking vendors the following question: What are your thoughts on the future of hotels and the industry in general?

Leading the Way Back
Posted: 11/16/2020 by Renie Cavallari

The five most important leadership considerations at this time are:

Where Data Goes to Die - Part 2
Posted: 11/16/2020 by Alan Zaccario

As the hotel industry is navigating through the remaining months of the pandemic and enduring truly agonizing decisions regarding the fate of some properties, if a property suddenly closes or changes ownership, what becomes of the data? Who protects the customers and employees from the disclosure of data? Ethically, you do.

AAHOA President & CEO Cecil Staton Talks Politics and the Campaign to Assist Hoteliers
Posted: 11/13/2020 by Fran Worrall, Hospitality Upgrade Editor

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) is the nation’s largest hotel owners association, representing nearly 20,000 members who own almost one in every two hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in communities across the country.

Definitely Doug 11/6/20: CYBER HITEC Recap
Posted: 11/06/2020 by Doug Rice

I spent most of last week at HITEC, which is the “event of the year” in hospitality technology. Usually I come home with a literal mountain of notes to digest, follow-ups to schedule, and things to write about. We all knew this year’s virtual event would be different, and it was.

Where Data Goes to Die - Part 1
Posted: 11/04/2020 by Alan Zaccario

Embarrassing reports of lost data surfacing on the dark web are becoming more and more prevalent in the media. As hoteliers we become the custodians of our guests and customers’ data from the time acquired and utilized until that information is archived or permanently deleted. However, what happens when that chain of custody is broken? What happens to the employee data too? More importantly what plans do you as an owner have to prevent a disclosure from surfacing and damaging your reputation?

What's Your Plan?
Posted: 11/02/2020 by Renie Cavallari

As you go into the 2021 planning season, here are five critical planning considerations:

Posted: 10/23/2020 by Renie Cavallari

"Friendship often ends in love, and love in friendship never ends. "

Using Prearrival Booking Software to Grow RevPAG
Posted: 10/22/2020 by Larry Mogelonsky

We’re hardly out of the woods with COVID-19, and that means many properties will have to make do with a customer base mostly derived from local leisure, staycations and workcations from drive-to markets. With fewer overall guests, outside of cost savings efforts we must simultaneously look at maximizing the revenue per available guest (RevPAG), and there’s no better way to go about this than by sharpening your use of the PMS.

Definitely Doug 10/16/20: Cyber HITEC
Posted: 10/16/2020 by Doug Rice

This is the last issue of Siegel Sez before this year’s CYBER HITEC event. HITEC is an event I have not missed in 30 years, and historically it has always been a great place to find innovation.

Toxicity Kills
Posted: 10/07/2020 by Renie Cavallari

It doesn’t matter if it is toxins in your physical environment or toxins in your mental environment. This stuff kills! 

The Power of a Changed Mindset in a World in Flux
Posted: 10/07/2020 by Karla Brooklyn

It’s said that when someone’s mindset shifts, everything around them can change at the same time, and in our current setting, the importance of being in the right headspace, both personally and as an organization, can’t be discussed enough.

In my last installment, I introduced four areas of hospitality technology that I believe have been significantly changed by COVID-19. I covered contactless technologies in depth in that first article. This week I will turn to the other three areas: social distancing; health and sanitation; and communications.

If Elon Musk Was A Hotelier
Posted: 09/25/2020 by Larry Mogelonsky

What if a person of Elon Musk’s character and bravado were to enter the hotel industry? How would they shake things up and presage the next ‘game-changers’ to propel hospitality beyond our current challenges?

How to Jump Start Your Business
Posted: 09/25/2020 by Renie Cavallari

Things right now are hard to predict. That is a fact. Trends lack patterns. Strategy is a 6-month viewfinder. Leaders are in a tactical storm. We feel overwhelmed by the unknown and the feeling of “what is next.” 

Over the past six months, this column has focused mostly on hospitality technologies and issues that were triggered by COVID-19. Innovation has flourished during that time, from both established industry technology providers and from startups. At last count I had identified nearly 300 startups in the space since the beginning of the year, some of them with very interesting technologies.

As outlined in our previous article, cleanliness is dominating the headlines within the hotel industry, with a number of press releases on new initiatives from all the major chains. The landscape has transformed quickly, to help keep up with the standards this article will summarise the basic principles of cleaning and sanitisation of guest rooms and how that can be achieved quickly, easily and cost-effectively.

Decreasing Stress
Posted: 09/14/2020 by Renie Cavallari

Stress does not come without your invitation. It is self-induced by our perspectives of what is occurring in our lives. We all have stress, and the less of it, the more happiness you experience. Life is about living day to day.

If you do a search on blog topic ideas, you won't find the interesting ones. The web is full of companies that have bigger budgets than you and can churn out content daily. If you are going to put your time into creating and promoting a blog post, and hope to get results, it's important to figure out what you're best suited for when it comes to blog topics.

Writing this column every two weeks typically takes me on a journey of discovery. I learn about innovations, find new technologies, and look at a wide diversity of products. Inevitably this involves a lot of web research to identify both core technologies and applications, and the different vendors offering solutions.

A year ago in June, I wrote about artificial-intelligence (AI) powered chatbots. This week I am returning to the topic, but in the broader scope of all guest messaging technologies. This has been a hotbed of activity since the arrival of COVID – one of very few preexisting segments of hotel technology that is doing better than before. Hotels are striving to find ways to reduce points of physical contact with the guest, and this one can be relatively inexpensive – or even save money.

Hoteliers have reopened their doors to a more competitive market than ever before. Travelers are spoiled for choice as every property (no matter what audience they previously catered to) is looking to win their business and keep revenue on the books. It will take a thoughtful approach to your hotel’s marketing plan to entice weary travelers in the era of COVID-19. With their heightened expectations for cleanliness, service, and a good deal in an uncertain economy, is your marketing strategy positioned to succeed?

SEO requirements keep changing, and it can be challenging to keep up with the latest advancements. But if you want your Google rankings to go from unseen to the top of the list, you have to be in the know. Well-optimized sites get more and more traffic over time which means more leads and sales.

Dig In
Posted: 08/18/2020 by Renie Cavallari

Clarity isn’t actually as tricky as people make it out to be. It isn’t about what will be happening in a month as you can’t control that. You never could. Clarity is understanding what matters most today to impact my goals, dreams and commitments. Especially during times like these, it is all the more important to set a daily intention and determine your focus.

COVID-19 has caused many to reflect upon the fundamental operations of our global society and our day-to-day lives, including the way we travel. In hospitality, many are wondering how an industry that is so reliant on personal interactions can recover from the crisis and earn back guest confidence.

Lessons from The Last Dance
Posted: 08/10/2020 by Renie Cavallari

I don’t know about you, but I loved watching The Last Dance, the story of Michael Jordan & The Chicago Bulls' last season together and their journey to their 6th championship, and second triple win (3 years back to back, twice).

With the news cycle laser-focused on the looming threat of a COVID-19 second wave happening in nearly every territory, it is up to each and every hotel to ensure we are all fully compliant with virus safety guidelines in order to restore group booking confidence. And the only way to ensure compliance with these safety guidelines is through contactless and compliance technologies to give guests a strong guarantee of proper sanitization as well as peace of mind.

A great deal has been written over the years about the viability of moving a hotel’s property-management system (PMS) to the cloud to take advantage of the latest technologies, but hoteliers need to realize that it’s not the only viable option. All platforms have advantages, including self-hosted, private cloud and on-premise solutions that leverage the latest mobile, contact free and web-based technologies. Independent operators can still enhance the digital guest experience, support personalized and mobile check-in, deploy contact free technologies, and secure hotel/guest data even if their PMS does not reside in the cloud. It should not be a question of “Cloud or On Premise?” but rather “Does the PMS solve your business objectives in both technology and service?”

Much has been written in the mainstream hospitality press about the challenges COVID-19 has presented to the industry. Hotels are in more pain than at any time in our memories. Because of the extensive media coverage, I won’t dwell on this topic further in what is primarily a technology column. But it’s the background for this week’s column, and so merits acknowledgement.

Are You All In?
Posted: 07/27/2020 by Renie Cavallari

Imagine everyone in your organization engaged, aligned, and performing to their potential. Imagine everyone playing “All In.”

Great organizations have synergy. Their culture allows them to play to a rhythm at a different tempo than the average organization. How do you get that at your organization?

Definitely Doug 7/24/20: The COVID Tipping Point
Posted: 07/24/2020 by Doug Rice

Many front-line hospitality workers rely on tips for a significant part of their paychecks. If not for tips, many hotel associates who serve as waitstaff, bartenders, housekeepers, bell staff, concierges and pool attendants would soon be looking for other jobs. This is a regional issue: in most of Asia and Europe, staff get higher base pay, and tips are either not expected at all, or are truly discretionary. But in the U.S., Canada, Britain and other countries, tips are an important reality, and one that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

As somebody who’s helped to grow a company from 13 people to nearly a thousand, I know very well the excitement that comes with having a mindset focused entirely on growth. Every newly acquired customer, every new office and every milestone means the gap between you and your nearest competitor is that much bigger and that much harder to overtake.

Technology Companies Help Hotels Get Back to Business
Posted: 07/10/2020 by Fran Worrall, Hospitality Upgrade Editor

As the travel industry begins to rally, technology companies are taking steps to help their customers get back to business. Strategies run the gamut from complimentary webinars and virtual learning events to special promotions and discounts, all designed to enable hotels and other hospitality venues to reopen confidently and economically amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to Popular Demand - Room Service in the "New Normal"
Posted: 07/10/2020 by Brendon Granger

Room Service and the New Normal - Food always has been, and always will be, a major part of the travel experience. But in a post-pandemic world, change is inevitable. Crowded restaurants and menus which have been handled many times may well (even temporarily) be avoided by wary travelers.

Definitely Doug 7/10/20: Voice Assistants
Posted: 07/10/2020 by Doug Rice

Over the past few years, there has been much media hype around the concept of a voice-controlled hotel room. It’s not hard to see why: voice assistant devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home achieved remarkable penetration in the consumer market in just a few years. Statista reports that about 157 million smart speakers were installed in U.S. households as of December 2019, an astonishing 1.22 devices per household. I haven’t found hard numbers on penetration in hotels, but based on the companies in the market and what I know of their size and success, it’s still very low, probably still under 1% of US hotel rooms. Is that about to change? Should it?

As we examine and develop new strategies for the changes that we can expect to see in the hospitality industry post-crisis, we are also starting to envision the world beyond the pandemic and to the new normal of radically shifted travel consumer expectations and preferences. The probability of guest technology expectations worldwide significantly changing becomes high as guests prefer a more touchless and fully mobile-enabled hospitality experience post-COVID-19. The future of hospitality has always been mobile–but COVID-19 will accelerate this trend from a nice-to-have to a must-have for hoteliers.

Always Have an Eye on the Future …
Posted: 06/24/2020 by Renie Cavallari

When it comes to leadership today, how do you stay ahead of the competition? How do you innovate in your niche? How can your team think differently when most people hold on tightly to what they know? To have a competitive advantage, it’s all about keeping your eye on the future and looking for opportunities.

Much is unknown as to when, how fast, and how the hotel industry will recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Never has there been more uncertainty around what capabilities and processes hotels will need, when they will need them, or how technology should support them.

More Than Just a Like: Engagement Focused on Real Stories
Posted: 06/15/2020 by Erika Wuelfrath

The introduction of Instagram Stories and their real-time, ephemeral content has significantly altered the course of our social media experience, especially for the hospitality industry. Since its launch, Instagram Stories have become an integral tool for content discovery, a sense of welcome and comfort, platform engagement and deeper storytelling. With more than 500 million daily active users, Instagram Stories continue to draw in more brands, hungry consumers, and content creators.

Having been brought up in the world of hotelling, and with family and close friends who remain in the space, the last few months have served as the disruption that none of us asked for, but one that nonetheless forced us to pause for perhaps the first time in many years.

It’s Time to Invest in Your Employees' Safety
Posted: 06/10/2020 by Jay Reed

It’s a dangerous world out there. New threats are making it challenging to reduce risks facing hotel employees. Even with heightened cleaning standards and sanitizing technology, it may be difficult to lure frontline workers – especially housekeepers – back to work. Think about it. There is no Coronavirus vaccine; those who return to work are doing so knowing that conditions are unsafe and that they can potentially get sick. As an industry, we need to rally around these hero’s and do everything possible to motivate them to come back. We need to celebrate them. Train them. And most importantly, protect them from disease and threats of violence or sexual harassment.

The Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) released its annual summary for 2019. During 2019 the report confirms 32,002 incidents, 3,950 of which are breaches. Topping out at 119 pages, here’s a quick overview before you go “all in.”   

Effective Strategies to Attract Guests to Your Hotel
Posted: 06/01/2020 by Nimesh Dinubhai

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the population of the whole world is suffering and almost every industry has come down, especially the hospitality industry as people have stopped traveling. But slowly we are overcoming this pandemic and will surely win over this soon. But COVID-19 is not the only challenge to attract guests toward your hotel we all are in a hunt to gain a competitive edge over our contemporaries.

As the world and the hotel industry start to see the first green shoots of recovery from the COVID lockdowns, there is no shortage of new technologies emerging to try to address the new realities. As I sat down to write this week’s column, I found a list of more than 30 new or significantly modified products that had hit my radar I the past few weeks, all of them innovations somehow related to COVID.

The availability of NFC contactless payment (Restaurant POS, Front Desk, Kiosk), and NFC contactless access control (guest room doors, parking garages, elevators, meeting rooms, gyms, spas, front doors etc.) in hotels to reduce the need to touch shared surfaces that allow the transmission of coronavirus is both an urgent need, and an intelligent response, to one of the most significant issues that the hospitality industry has ever faced: coronavirus transmission and COVID-19 . Importantly also, NFC contactless, if widely implemented, would demonstrate that the hospitality industry has the well-being of its guests and employees front of mind once hotels start to emerge from lock-down. 

As millions across America practice social distancing, hotels and Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVBs) are faced with the overall challenge of supporting their community and planning for the post-COVID-19 rebound. In addition to working directly with meeting planners, CVBs often report and forecast tourism for the entire community. CVBs play an integral role in the education and knowledge of upcoming events and trends in their community.

5 Things That Limit Your Potential to Shine & Be Happy
Posted: 05/20/2020 by Renie Cavallari

Shine is that light within you. It motivates us and it brightens our path. When we are down, afraid or experiencing unknown territory, it is what you say to yourself (your beliefs and thoughts) that determines if your light will stay bright or fade. 

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) announced last Wednesday during a press conference to industry media that the organization will consolidate its three major annual events to one location over a four-day period in October, and will call it, “The Best of HFTP.” 

2020 and Beyond: What Does Recovery Look Like?
Posted: 05/18/2020 by Kristi White

2020 is a year like no other — at least we hope so. At the end of 2019, who could have imagined what would happen to our industry. Smart hoteliers were planning for the possibility of a small downturn. Smarter hoteliers were considering how to steal share before a downturn took hold. Either way, a global pandemic was not in anyone’s plans.

In my last column, I introduced some technologies that could help hotels deal with the new realities of travel in the COVID-19 era. I’ll continue that theme this week, with the same caveats as last time – some of these are still in development or even prototype form, and I haven’t been able to look at many of them as closely as I would like. But they may still be useful in terms of exposure to new ideas to help jump-start your own thinking.

Sometimes when things seem the darkest, moments of beauty emerge in the most unexpected places. During this time of quarantine, rivers are cleaning up, vegetation is growing, the air is becoming cleaner, there are fewer reports of crime, families are bonding, workers are resting, and nations are banding together for the good of mankind. While hospitality is possibly one of the hardest hit industries, it too is finding a silver lining amidst the darkness.

Finding Peace Within
Posted: 05/05/2020 by Renie Cavallari

As we continue to social distance and find our way in this new world order, the one thing you can control without exception is how you think and what you choose to focus on. Your thoughts reflect your beliefs. A belief is something you feel certain about. Generally, your beliefs are a reflection of your life experiences. This is why one person can experience something and see it as a positive while another person has the same experience and feels terrible, stuck and afraid. 

As hotels start to imagine the post-COVID world, they will need to adapt to both the ever-changing regulatory environment and to new guest and staff behaviors. Some of these changes will persist even if COVID-19 suddenly disappears: the experience of living through lockdowns, nonstop media coverage, and fear of infection has unquestionably altered human behavior and expectations. Some of the changes may fade once the threat has been reduced via a vaccine, through better treatments, by herd immunity or by mutation. But experts say that it could well be 12 to 18 months before we can fully and safely resume our prior lifestyles. In the meantime, hotels and their technology partners need to be laser focused on solutions that can help hotels deal with the “new normal” – however long that may last.

10 Ways to Turn Your Motivational Switch
Posted: 04/21/2020 by Renie Cavallari

In challenging times, it is sometimes hard for us to dig in and turn on. Today more than ever, we get sucked into the endless news feed. We have limitations on what we can do and how we can do it.

As the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel industry continues to feel its effects. As a trusted hospitality payments provider, POST Integrations is providing the following credit card acceptance best practices to help guide you and your properties through these uncertain times.

During these trying times we are seeing a meteoric rise in cyber security threats targeting user credentials, financial information and sensitive business data.  The current environment presents specific risks and opportunities for hoteliers.  Identifying and addressing these risks has not yet garnered support from the top of the hotel’s management structure.  This must change and will before long.  It is vital that hoteliers take this opportunity to review their data security processes and procedures in order to close the threat vectors.  The coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on serious process and technical security gaps that lead to an increase in the probability that hotels will suffer catastrophic data compromises. 

It may be quite some time before hotels start buying technology again. There will be exceptions, to be sure, but for now they will be few and far between. And as much as I have enjoyed highlighting pockets of cool innovation in this column over the past year, very few readers will be able to act on those insights in the current environment. So while I hope to be able to return to my old format sooner rather than later, I’m going to change focus in this and upcoming columns. I’ll instead talk about what hotels, technology providers, and displaced technologists can do today.

Connection is Good for Your Soul
Posted: 03/31/2020 by Renie Cavallari

During this challenging time, remember that your people need even more emotional connection.

Well, I had a topic all lined up for this week’s column. I had completed most of the research and sat down on Monday to start writing. But with all that is going on in the world, I decided to put that on the shelf for a cycle or two. No one is going to take the time to read anything right now that doesn’t talk about the novel Coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease. So, I started afresh and will diverge from my usual approach.

COVID-19: Industry Leaders Speak Out
Posted: 03/18/2020 by Fran Worrall

Last week, the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19—the viral disease that has swept the globe and killed more than 8,200 people—is officially a pandemic. And on Saturday, the Trump administration extended the ban on foreign nationals from certain European countries to include those traveling from the United Kingdom and Ireland. Industry conferences and meetings have been cancelled or postponed, and many companies are electing not to require employees to travel.

Leading Through Chaos
Posted: 03/18/2020 by Renie Cavallari

At this time there is no more important tool in your tool kit then your ability to lead people through the storm. Most leaders have their heads in revising budgets, dealing with layoffs, cutting costs and surviving all of which are real realities that need attention. So do your people!

It was 12 years ago that the hotel industry first experienced a large breach of payment card data. Hotels and technology vendors have made very significant efforts since then, yet it is hard to identify a major hotel group that has NOT suffered at least one incident, and many breaches have been quite recent. Despite all the efforts, the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigation Report says that the accommodation industry is still the most common victim for Point-of-Sale (POS) intrusions (and based on their terminology, this includes breaches of Property Management Systems as well as POS systems). As much as hotels have improved security, hackers have improved their own methods to keep pace.

Epic Technology for Iconic Slopes
Posted: 03/02/2020 by Jennifer Jones

It's that time of year when powder hounds and snow bunnies alike head out to the mountains, rip some turns or cruise down a groomer. And no matter if you’re a solo adventurer or a group enthusiast, there's some impressive technologies that the ski industry has launched that have gamified the entire experience and feed the hungry social media fanatics. For decades many have stated this industry has been behind on the technology curve, however some of these applications could definitely be transferred into the hotel industry with some creative alterations.

Definitely Doug 2/7/20 - Innovating Revenue
Posted: 02/28/2020 by Doug Rice

Before I get into this week’s topic, a quick reminder that I really need to hear about what YOU have seen that is new or innovative in hospitality tech. Readers often ping me AFTER I write about a topic to tell me about some product or company I should also have looked at. It’s much more useful if you tell me BEFORE I write about it! And indeed, cool new companies I hear about from readers are often my inspiration for a topic. My contact info is at the end of this section, so please reach out … I’m always happy to spend time learning about new companies or products.

Definitely Doug 1/24/20: The Movable Feast
Posted: 02/28/2020 by Doug Rice

The ubiquity of mobile devices for both guests and staff, together with continual improvements in location technologies, has created new possibilities for serving guests and upselling. Nowhere is this more evident than in food and beverage. For many hotels, F&B is a low-profit or loss-leader product that could be moved to profit if just a few more sales opportunities can be found.

Hotels always talk about how focused they are on guest satisfaction. But studies such as the ACSI Travel Report consistently show hotels coming in way below even banks and limited-service restaurants in guest satisfaction, and just barely above airlines and gas stations. And it’s getting worse: 2019 showed a 1.3% drop over 2018. Net promoter scores for most major hotel brands are lowest for millennials and Generation X, which does not bode well for the future. A 2016 study by Revenue Strategy Summit showed that poor service delivery accounted for 56% of negative trip reviews.

Could QR Codes Transform Hospitality?
Posted: 02/10/2020 by Brendon Granger

Could QR codes revolutionize the hospitality industry? While far from being mainstream in Australia, the use of QR codes is on the rise thanks to improved technology and innovations in consumer engagement.

From the company’s simple beginnings in a Beijing apartment to the global expansion and recent major technology acquisitions, over a short period of time Shiji Group has experienced fantastic growth to serve a fully worldwide customer base. Looking back over the previous decade, Kevin King, COO of Shiji Group, shares the company’s background and pathway moving forward mixed with a desire to push the boundaries of technology for the hospitality industry. Below are some key takeaways from Mr. King’s article:

Are you demanding enough of the spaces you own and have access to? How many times have you walked into empty hotel gyms, restaurants and meeting rooms, or oversized lobbies that seem to have no purpose in life?
How can you optimize these areas to their full revenue potential?
And, even when you are able to optimize a space operationally, how can you insure that you are able to acquire the customers you need to commercialize it effectively?

These questions all have answers. However, you need to be honest about how you can do this, and the effort that you can realistically place on direct versus indirect acquisition in your overall strategy.

Enterprise System Pitfalls: Summary
Posted: 01/14/2020 by Mark Loyd

Enterprise System Pitfalls: Summary
Today I’m wrapping up a series of posts on the broad topic of Enterprise System Pitfalls. In this series, my hope was to help shed light on the primary problems that cause us to miss budgets, fall short on capabilities, or completely fail when implementing an enterprise system. 

Definitely Doug 12/20/19: The Year in Review
Posted: 12/23/2019 by Doug Rice

The Year in Review
As 2019 comes to a close, it’s time to count our blessings. One of mine has been the privilege (and fun!) of being able to reach out to so many interesting companies and get them to tell me what they’re doing that’s different, disruptive, and game-changing. The list of things I have to write about in future columns has only gotten longer in the nine months since I started writing this column.

Definitely Doug 10/18/19: Sustainable Innovation
Posted: 12/06/2019 by Doug Rice

Sustainable Innovation
Sustainability can yield multiple benefits to hotels. Saving energy and water yields direct cost savings. Revenue can be generated by guests who prefer to deal with businesses that minimize their environmental impact. And many would argue that conserving scarce resources is simply the right thing to do.

Definitely Doug 12/6/19: Meetings Innovation
Posted: 12/06/2019 by Doug Rice

Meetings Innovation
The sale and delivery of groups and meetings is perhaps the most significant and under-automated functions for many hotels. Even though groups often account for 30% to 60% of revenue, most group bookings are still handled manually for most if not all of steps, as they move from a meeting planner’s research to a confirmed booking.

Enterprise System Pitfalls Part V: Complexity
Posted: 11/18/2019 by Mark Loyd

The biggest enemy to any system is complexity. In a system of inputs and outputs, such as an enterprise system, more complexity means more parts are used in interaction with inputs to create the outputs. Every part that must be built and maintained costs time and money

Hotel Data Digest: Seasonality vs. Moving Average
Posted: 11/18/2019 by David Eisen

Tracking the evolution of key performance indicators (KPIs) over time allows hoteliers to identify meaningful trends, create forecasts and budgets and assess the results of different strategies. To perform this kind of analysis, data has to be recorded within consistent time intervals and in chronological order. This is known as a time series.

Definitely Doug 11/15/19
Posted: 11/15/2019 by Doug Rice

Every time I turn around these days, I see a new vendor or product promising something called a complete Guest Experience Management, Guest Journey Management, or Guest Engagement (or some variation on those words). This week I looked at some of the emerging products claiming to be in this space, both to try to better understand it, and to see what promising ideas it may hold.

In today’s fast-paced business world, there are still many employing tools of the past.  Are you one of them?  Let’s look at one service available today that should help you save some money and take steps to solve a growing industry problem; recruiting, training and retaining competent team members, especially in the accounting field.

In this fourth post in my series on Enterprise System Pitfalls, I’m going to discuss a conceptually difficult topic called Implicit Dependencies. I reiterate to my R&D team all the time that complexity is our number one enemy, and that dependencies have the most significant impact on complexity. Most architects understand that dependencies create complexity, and it is one of the primary reasons there has been such a shift away from monolithic design. Interwoven dependencies inside a monolith is the reason updates begin to be very difficult. A change in one area of the system can have a negative side affect in unexpected ways in unexpected modules. Many times, a small update will require an entire system build and deploy, slowing down our ability to improve the system quickly, or to create smaller independent teams. Most of these problems trace back to dependencies. Well, that and poor system design, but let’s just focus on dependencies.

I continue with the third part in my series on enterprise system pitfalls and now discuss the problem of what I call the infrastructure imbalance. I have two previous posts that introduce the topic of pitfalls of enterprise systems and discuss the pitfall of over abstraction.

Today I continue my series on enterprise system pitfalls and discuss the problem of over abstraction. Be sure to read my previous post which lays the foundation for this series.

Enterprise Systems Pitfalls Part I: Intro
Posted: 08/22/2019 by Mark Loyd

Are we getting the economic return we should be with new technology innovation? In this article, I’m starting a series reflecting on common weaknesses in enterprise systems development, and am going to try to unpack as concisely as I can these pitfalls we fall into.  We’ll analyze why we stumble into these problems, our struggle recognizing the root causes, and the results.

HU talks with Bob Diachenko, the cybersecurity expert who discovered the breach, about steps hotels can take to prevent data incidents

A groundbreaking new report by the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C. explores sustainability in the hospitality industry and examines ways in which hotels are incorporating eco-friendly best practices into both operations and construction. The study includes insights from leading hotel owners, developers and investors.

Every hotel owner wants to know how he can increase the traffic to the website, and at the same time, boost direct bookings. The key to accomplish both the objectives is to design a site that is accessible even to disabled people. It will not only improve the usability for all types of visitors, but it will also improve your market penetration. Designing ADA website is also very imperative to prevent legitimate complications. In addition to this, an ADA feature will aid in improving the website performance in search engines.

2019 HITEC Recap from a First-timer's Perspective
Posted: 07/09/2019 by Dave Rubin

The underappreciated city of Minneapolis served as host for the 2019 edition of HITEC (produced by HFTP) which wrapped up its most recent four-day run on June 20, 2019. In the days and weeks leading up to the event, meeting solicitations and party invites filled my inbox at a growth rate any VC or entrepreneur would envy. As a first-timer to this international hospitality technology behemoth, it became apparent that HITEC actually begins a few weeks prior to when that first request or invitation lands in your over-stuffed inbox.

Time is limited. Once it’s gone, you can’t gain it back. Similarly, once a room goes unsold for a night, it will go unsold forever. There’s no way to recover that loss, because there’s no way to go back in time.
Many hotels fight this limitation by trying to sell as many rooms as possible. If all the rooms are completely booked, time no longer becomes a factor. But most don’t have the luxury of being at-capacity every single night. That’s why last-minute booking apps are growing in popularity in the industry, where hotels can make the most of each day. These apps specifically target guests who don’t plan far in advance, seeking accommodations from one week to one minute later.
There are several different ways your hotel can benefit from using last-minute booking apps in your business strategy.

IoT is Coming, Jon Snow…
Posted: 05/21/2019 by Gary Hasty

Hospitality is prime for the coming advent of the various devices that make up the Internet of Things. Estimates show the industry now represents 17.5 million rooms worldwide and savvy guests are demanding more personalization and an overall improved guest experience along their connected travel journey and belief is that IoT can bring this to reality. 

How to Improve Your Company’s Local Search Rankings
Posted: 05/06/2019 by Nimesh Dinubhai

The forces driving local search rankings are constantly changing. But recent studies suggest that in 2019, four key factors make up the local search algorithm. 
The most significant factor is Google My Business (GMB). If you’re not on it, get on it now.

The robotic revolution in the hospitality industry might seem to have taken a step back. This January, the famously quirky Henn-Na Hotel in Japan fired half of its 243 robot staff. The robotic workforce reportedly irritated guests and frequently broke down.

Think about the moment when you first enter your hotel room. Look around: Does the room tell you anything unique about the hotel where you are staying? Or is it all beige walls and double beds with white covers, and you have to walk back outside and look at the sign on the hotel’s facade to even remember where you are?

Hotel guests commonly bring multiple devices with them during their stay. However, many hotel environments don’t provide easy access to charging outlets. This situation can lead to a guest feeling more than inconvenienced. A recent survey found almost 90 percent of people "felt panic" when their phone battery dropped to 20 percent or below.

Spam is one of the major problems that most hotel website owners face on regular basis. It is a bad practice used by spammers to persuade the page rank of a site.

The Role of Hotel Loyalty Programs in Business Travel
Posted: 02/18/2019 by Jessica Collison

GBTA recently partnered with AccorHotels to conduct a study investigating the role of loyalty in managed travel programs in Europe with the goal of understanding how loyalty programs currently fit within company travel policy and what opportunities may exist in the future.

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. 

The Future of Mobile Payment in Travel
Posted: 11/27/2018 by Brendon Granger

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. 

The expectations of hotel guests has changed radically in recent years. Having a comfortable place to stay is no longer enough. Today, the digitally connected traveller wants a hotel room that lets him stay connected from the moment he arrives, while also enjoying the same technology he uses at home. 

Five Ways Chatbot Will Improve Your Website
Posted: 10/08/2018 by Nimesh Dinubhai

There are several functions you can add to your website which while minor will improve the website's and business' effectiveness by a great margin.

The wave of digital disturbance is causing ripples in the hospitality industry. Initially, travelers/guests would visit a brick-and-mortar travel agent every time they needed to plan a family vacation. But, today is a completely different scenario. Here are some of the trends that are likely to change the way the hospitality industry conducts business:

The hospitality industry is in an unprecedented period of growth. However, this growth has not been driven by group. In the past decade, transient growth has outpaced group growth in a dramatic way. 

The competition between hotels and the OTAs has never been higher. Travelers prefer to book their stays through online as it is a convenient way of booking. That's why, it becomes very crucial for every hotel owner to own a website. 

Over the years alternative payments methods have grown in popularity. Merchant Link’s Director of Product Christian McMahon sat down an online source to talk about the rise and challenges of QR- based payments.

Jumping into the world of online marketing can be daunting, especially if you fall victim to famous marketing myths that could affect your hotel promotion mission. These marketing myths can cause you to lose revenue if you base your hotel promotion decisions on them. Don't be mistreated by marketing myths that lure you down the wrong path, drain your resources and leave you more exhausted than elated. 

Hotel management companies are asking, how does the new privacy act in California compare to the new European Union privacy law? Here is a side-by-side comparison which reveals a few things that hotels should know. 

HITEC 2018 brought on new innovations and cautions of data protection. James Lingle reviews his highlights from HITEC and questions solutions for the hospitality industry customers. 

Everything's bigger in Texas, including HSMAI's 2018 Revenue Optimization Conference co-located in Huston with HITEC. HSMAI recaps their highlights from ROC; an event that drew more than 600 attendees for the third year in a row.

What Caught My Eye at HITEC 2018 - Off the Beaten Path
Posted: 06/26/2018 by Geoff McDowell

Feel like you missed something at HITEC Houston 2018? Never fear, Geoff McDowell has you covered! Check out his must-sees that you might have missed along the tradeshow floor. 

At HITEC 2018, Mike Walsh said, “The future advantage is focus on the people part, not the technology part." As we know, in the hospitality industry it is all about people, the guests.
And for guests it is ultimately about trust.

Natalie Doyle Oilfield offers up her advice for creating a competitive edge over the competition. 

8 Ways to Meet Your Hotel Guests’ Expectations
Posted: 06/07/2018 by Nimesh Dinubhai

When people go on holidays or travel for business, they often stay in a hotel. Staying at a hotel can be a great experience. However, in today’s digital era, when travelers are informed and well connected, their perceptions and desires are changing. Nimesh Dinubhai shares the power of the personal touch to make all guests feel valued. 

Consumers are growing more comfortable using smart devices at home and while traveling. Asking their AI-enabled products to do everything from opening the front door to turning off lights has become almost second-nature. However, realize that the more Internet of Things (IoT) devices you connect to your network, the more possible access points to your IT systems and data stores you open for cyber attackers. Dean Coclin looks into the risk of devices and security measures to protect them from intruders.

A recent study finds that 89 percent of sites leave their users' accounts potentially exposed to hackers due to unsafe password practices. Do yours fall within the majority? Geneva Rinehart discusses which websites might need a password update. 

Is Your Website Voice Search Optimized?
Posted: 05/29/2018 by Nimesh Dinubhai

If the 2017 holiday season taught us anything, it’s that consumers are not just eager but ready for voice search engine technologies. They were the season’s hottest trend in gift buying, whether it was smartphones with voice search capabilities or digital virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. Nimesh Dinubhai talks about the importance of implementing voice techonology now to stay ahead of the curve.

The Top 5 GDPR List for Hoteliers
Posted: 05/08/2018 by David Durko

May 25 is quickly approaching, and the streets are abuzz with GDPR. Hoteliers are struggling for guidance and everyone has a thought or opinion as to what getting to GDPR compliance means. The worst part is so many hotels receiving incomplete or faulty information and will be in for a rude awakening soon. David Durko gives a checklist for hoteliers to focus on compliancy as the deadline quickly approaches. 

Reasons to Attend Oracle Industry Connect
Posted: 05/03/2018 by Geneva Rinehart

Oracle hosted its 5th annual Oracle Industry Connect (OIC) in New York City. More than 1,900 people attended this year’s event from the seven industry verticals Oracle serves: Communication, Construction and Engineering, Energy and Utilities, Financial, Health, Hospitality and Retail. HU's Managing Editor Geneva Rinehart recaps the event and why it's an important one to attend.

Technology Booms for All Generations
Posted: 04/10/2018 by Boston University: Janiece Nelson, Kimberly Kibler, Sabrina Avila, Elise Tringale and Ivy Guo

It is widely accepted that millennials are the most tech-savvy generation today, but in the midst of focusing marketing efforts toward one group are the other generational groups forgotten during technology implementations? Special thanks to Leora Lanz's Digital Marketing for Hospitality class at the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration for providing this series for our readers.
This is the fifth article in a total of five articles in this series

In the mobile-first era, it is certainly crucial to have effective search engine optimization (SEO). Most people use a mobile device to access the internet. As the majority of search requests increase by mobile device, Google will be switching to mobile-first indexing in the near future. Nimesh Dinubhai unpacks how mobile indexing will influence business SEO strategies.

It’s March Madness and Everything is Awesome
Posted: 03/28/2018 by Geneva Rinehart

As more and more events are added to the schedule each year, too often we hear the same speakers rehash the same industry information. From the start, the Hunter Hotel Conference set itself apart. Hospitality Upgrade's own Geneva Rinehart recaps the Hunter Hotel Conference and the March Madness that ensued in its 30-year anniversary.

The Secret to Strong Social Media Campaigns
Posted: 03/27/2018 by Boston University: Aidan Intemann, Elana Kalish, Lynn Kuo, Pajaree (Mary) Suriyaprapadilok

Social media is a powerful marketing tool. Marketers have risen to the challenge of using social media as a tool in order to increase brand knowledge and loyalty. With all the content thronging social networks, it becomes impossible for the average user to view it all. Special thanks to Leora Lanz's Digital Marketing for Hospitality class at the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration for providing this series for our readers.

This is the fourth article in a total of five articles in this series.

Understanding and anticipating individual guest needs lies at the heart of offering a superior hotel experience. To offer evermore tailored and personalized levels of service, it’s now possible to access an unprecedented amount of customer data via sources such as mobile check-ins, online bookings, loyalty programs and past spending habits. Brendon Granger dives into beacon technology and how to make the most of it on your property.

The annual event known as International Women’s Day is held on March 8. The stated origin and goal is to “celebrate women's achievements throughout history and across nations.” At the end of the day, what was the end result? Anything more than thoughts? Marion Roger tackles International Women's Day within the hospitality industry and how to better impact the community of women in hospitality technology past March 8th. 

Transforming Social into Search: The Ultimate Customer Engagement Tool
Posted: 03/13/2018 by Boston University: Megan Carmichael, Eirhenz Espiritu, Jialin Ma, Wei Chi (Victor) Su and Lauren Wagner

As human beings, we are a species that inherently craves information. Our world is information-driven, and social media has only compounded the impact on individuals. Throughout the past decade, how people get their information has drastically shifted: from reading the white pages, searching on Google, to social media via smartphones. Special thanks to Leora Lanz's Digital Marketing for Hospitality class at the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration for providing this series for our readers.

This is the third article in a total of five articles in this series.

What Is Yet To Come: Robots Taking Over The Hospitality Industry
Posted: 02/28/2018 by Boston University: Estefania Abufele, Wincy Gigy Yu, Cecilia Chen and Teddy Booras

With the use of industrial robots on the rise, society has become aware of what the future of robots might mean for certain industries, especially the hospitality industry. But, what we know for sure is the continuous development for robots. Boston University students look into their purpose within the hospitality industry and how it might change over the next coming years.  

Different seasons bring different opportunities–if we understand that from the get-go, things are going to go smoothly for our hotel. We cannot treat every season the same; each one of them has its own characteristics and elements, so it’s paramount we use that for our advantage. Nimesh Dinubahi gives seven tips on catering to the differing seasons. 

Right now in your lobby or lurking around a corner, or in a small room or closet is a potential thief, one that is ignored or unnoticed because of its ubiquity. That’s your ATM, sitting there as an attack vector against our guests and your reputation. Jeff Parker opens up about the obvious threat sitting in your hotel lobby and how to best protect yourself.

Security: Steps Every Organization Should Already be Taking, But Aren’t
Posted: 02/06/2018 by Boston University: Andrea Almosny, Elizabeth Karakachian, Melika Mai and Catherine Ostuni

The last two years have been invaded with mass data breaches and the hospitality industry has not been immune to these attacks. With the swell of guest data being collected today, security of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is something hotels need to be particularly aware of. Boston University students look into data security and how to best protect your organization. 

Why Is It Important to Have a Website Refresh?
Posted: 01/24/2018 by Nimesh Dinubhai

In today's technological world, having a strong internet presence has become essential for every hotelier. Similarly, we can't overemphasize the importance of owning a professional-looking website. Nimesh Dinubhai explains the importance of a fresh and clean website and how it benefits your website in the long run. 

Take Time to Think: The Strongest Strategy for 2018
Posted: 01/24/2018 by Renie Cavallari

Innovation, technological advances and leadership have one major thing in common... you must be intentional to achieve progress and success in all three. And to ensure consistent improvement, you have to TPM: Think and Prepare before you Move. Renie Cavallari talks game-changing strategy for you and your team in the new year.

Fall 1995: How Secure Is Your Hotel?
Posted: 01/01/2018 by Peter Klebanoff

Check out Peter Klebanoff’s original article “How Secure Is Your Hotel?” in the fall 1995 edition of Hospitality & Automation Update.

You wouldn’t consider using a spreadsheet to manage your contact list or manage your guestroom inventory; you probably use software applications specifically designed for each of those functions. CapEx planning and administration technologies are no different, needing its own system to provide for greater accuracy, reliability and efficiency. Thomas Riegelman explains how you can find your own CapEx Planning Paradise in seven steps.

Millennials are more likely to make purchases after seeing or hearing advertisements compared to Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and other older generations, according to a new survey from Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm.

Will Machines Replace Humans in the Hospitality Industry?
Posted: 11/29/2017 by Brendon Granger

The impact of artificially intelligent machines on the future job market has been gaining significant attention in recent years. Brendon Granger talks of the impact machines and robots could have in the hospitality industry in the very near future.

As North American hoteliers enter the holiday season and round out the year, all travel segments are seeing a noticeable increase across the board in both average daily rates (ADR) and occupancy, up 1.4 percent and 3.9 percent respectively, during the fourth quarter of 2017, according to new data from TravelClick’s November 2017 North American Hospitality Review (NAHR).

The Nine Circles of CapEx Spreadsheet Hell, Part 1
Posted: 11/28/2017 by Thomas Riegelman

Hotel owners spend an average of seven percent of gross revenues on CapEx, every year; a very significant reinvestment of scarce owners' capital. Thomas Riegelman talks about the perils of using spreadsheets to manage CapEx, which he calls "The Nine Circles of CapEx Spreadsheet Hell." 

The Future of Hotel Wi-Fi
Posted: 11/15/2017 by Coleen Carey

Today’s hotel guests expect a homelike Wi-Fi encounter. As this “instant-on” experience becomes table stakes for hotels to compete for guest loyalty, it also opens the door to a revolution in delivering a more personalized guest service. Coleen Carey shares how to best serve your guests a seamless and familiar Wi-Fi experience.

Five Functions to Use in Google Search Console
Posted: 11/15/2017 by Nimesh Dinubhai

Google Search Console offers a number of resources to tune your site's SEO functions as well as get important information about visitors and their activities while on the site. Nimesh Dinubhai dives into the best features of the offered webmaster tools.

Anyone who works in the hospitality industry knows how gratifying it feels to receive a good review. Unfortunately, many hospitality businesses have also experienced the flip side of this coin: a scathing review of your business, its staff, and everything that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Roseanne Luth talks about the importance of monitoring your online reviews and how they affect potential customers.

The Central Role Voice AI Will Play in Our Future
Posted: 11/01/2017 by Brendon Granger

Today, a growing number of brands believe that AI assistants have the power to enhance the guest experience. But the sentiment isn’t shared by all. Brendon Granger reviews the transition of technology in guestrooms and the influence it could have in the hotel-guest relationship.

Budgeting for Success in 2018
Posted: 11/01/2017 by Rich Rebidue

For many hoteliers, it seems budget season begins earlier and earlier each year. While the process and timeline varies from company to company, every hotel ultimately has to answer the same question: “What can we do differently next year to optimize revenue and maximize profit?” Rich Rebidue talks budgeting options as 2018 quickly approaches.

Providing immersive environments that play to the five senses, which trigger neural pathways that that enhance memory, unlock emotions, make customer engagement more profound and relationships longer lasting. David Kepron of Marriott International digs into how collaborations between teams can enhance the customer experience at your hotel.

If a personal computer breaks, should it be repaired or replaced? Many hotel companies have adopted a policy that a broken PC is not worth repairing and should be immediately replaced, and the old computers erased and donated to students or senior citizens. Other companies evaluate the condition of the malfunctioning PC to determine if it can be reasonably repaired. Geoff Griswold evaluates the best course of action for repairing vs. replacing hotel technology. 

 As you pursue your optimal hotel internet marketing strategy for your luxury hotel, you want to make sure you’re attracting the savvy business mogul or free-spending socialite rather than, say, a spring-breaking “bro” with a bad fake tan and cheap tequila pouring out of his ears. Maria Harrison talks about five strategies to make sure that you’re attracting the right customers

No single company buys enough insurance limits to have such a major impact that the prices go up or capacity falls away immediately following an event. A systemic loss, like one that impacts the power grid or halts the financial sector from trading for a few days, would be an entirely different (and scary) story. Mary Guzman talks about the scary after-effects of the Equifax breach for hopitality companies. 

Overcoming Content Challenges
Posted: 10/03/2017 by Bryan Meszaros & Steve Glancey

Although often relegated to the back seat, the process of content creation drives the success of a digital signage program. Steve Glancey of Screenfeed and Bryan Meszaros at OpenEye Global offer a list of tips and tricks to create impactful content.

Why Blogging is Important
Posted: 10/03/2017 by Nimesh Dinubhai

Blogging has been an important part of online marketing for a variety of industries for some time. It has been the most consistent trend in SEO and is still relevant even now. Nimesh Dinubhai covers the number of reasons why this is so despite the changing of algorithms and other new methods.

Helping Older Resorts Stay Hot with an IoT Retrofit
Posted: 10/03/2017 by Matt Oberdorfer

Today, there are nearly 800 luxury hotels and resorts across the globe with an average life of about 40 years. Many of these properties are nearing the end of their peak revenue, and will need to consider how to remain competitive against the continual flow of new and updated hotels and resorts. 

In a year of projected slowdown for travel, Millennial families are going to spend more and travel more than all other generational segments according to MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers® survey. Catch the new statistics plus a handy infographic that show growth for the travel and hospitality industry in the next 12 months.

Great service is paramount, and text messaging makes it easier to run your hotel and keep your customers satisfied. Text messages are opened more than 98 percent of the time, and it's the fastest way to reach your customers. Ken Rhie discusses the easiest ways to integrate a text messaging platform and make it your hotel's esaiest communication tool with guests.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in hospitality might once have been envisaged as part of some distant future, but it’s now making its way into the hotels of today – helping to improve internal efficiency, price rooms, and enhance the guest experience. Brendon Granger looks at the different ways AI is being implemented right now by hotels around the world.

Understanding and anticipating individual guest needs lies at the heart of offering a superior hotel experience. So how does beacon technology work, and what specific ways can it be deployed for maximum benefit? Brendon Granger covers the basics and what to consider to maximize its value.

Here Come the Robots!
Posted: 08/21/2017 by The Lodging Conference

A robot first appeared in a motion picture in 1919, The Master Mystery. The machine was called “the Automaton,” as the term robot would not be used until 1920. Since then our imaginations have been led by humanoid machines capable of capturing our hearts (R2D2) to threatening our very destruction (Westworld, The Terminator).

Hotel Wi-Fi and Property Networks – A HITEC 2017 Review
Posted: 08/15/2017 by Natalie Doyle Oldfield

HITEC Toronto showcased many new technologies and services for the hospitality industry. Great companies exhibited and discussed their products and offerings with hoteliers. 

Property Management Solutions – A HITEC 2017 Review
Posted: 08/15/2017 by Terry Price, CPA, CHAE, CHTP

HITEC, eh? In preparing for HITEC this year there were discussions concerning vendor participation and attendance due to having to cross the border. Passport issues, customs issues, etc. all pointed to a diminished attendance. The critics were proven wrong. Attendance was up, vendor participation was up and the show floor was full and busy. Great job, HFTP.

Wow-Factor Website – What's the Secret?
Posted: 08/14/2017 by Nimesh Dinubhai

What are the core ingredients of a wow-factor website? I think Websrefresh.com has found the answer with their newest website launch of hotelbellatx.com. After years of experience, research and listening to what travelers are looking for in a hotel website; we have come up with the core ingredients to convert visitors to guests.

A Look Back at HITEC 2017 Toronto Door Locking Trends
Posted: 08/02/2017 by Geoff McDowell

While there was no major theme across the electronic door locking vendor space the way mobile was the big deal in 2016 where everyone was either showcasing a mobile key or announcing it would be coming soon, there were several interesting technology and business-related developments to report.

Golf enthusiasts and casual fans alike agree that Jordan Spieth’s play on the 13th hole during the final round of The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale proved nothing short of miraculous. The enthusiast admires the application of the sometimes-arcane rules of the game of golf, and casual fans and most significantly, entrepreneurs, see many lessons.

2017 HITEC Report: The Wi-Fi Edition
Posted: 08/02/2017 by Dan Phillips

I went to this year’s HITEC in Toronto in search of three main things: Wi-Fi providers offering personal area networks (PAN), TV providers showcasing casting capabilities, and vendors working in the guest experience and personalization space. On all three accounts, this HITEC delivered.

In my June column, we discussed why the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) matters to the hospitality industry and the technical/organizational steps members should take to comply with the regulation. Practically speaking, any U.S. company desirous of European customers must comply with the GDPR as of May 25, 2018, or risk facing penalties as high as 4 percent of global revenue.  

HITEC Toronto 2017, A CFO’s Perspective
Posted: 07/18/2017 by Ron Strecker

I’m a numbers guy so let’s start with a few from this year’s HITEC. HFTP, who produces HITEC, turns 65 years old this year, HITEC celebrated 45 years in existence by setting an attendance record, and Hospitality Upgrade is celebrating its 25th birthday. And you couldn’t help but feel the buzz in Toronto as Canada prepared to celebrate its sesquicentennial (150 years) the Saturday after HITEC.

Last year was a pivotal one for independent hotels, per STR, an American company that tracks supply and demand data for multiple market sectors, which revealed that these ‘un-branded’ properties had greater overall average daily rate (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) than their branded hotel brethren. Expedia, Inc. dug deep into its Q1 2017 data to shed light on the continued rise of independents in 2017, and offer tips for independent properties to best leverage this momentum.

Employee engagement has been getting more attention from executives, especially as more practitioners worry about the shift in workforce mentality and what employees expect from their organizations. Jimmy Lin shares three vital building blocks to engage (and retain) employees. 

Top Five Reasons Not to Use Hotel Template Websites
Posted: 06/22/2017 by Nimesh Dinubhai

Hotel template websites while being a cheap and fast way to set up your website are not recommended if you are looking to make the most of your money.

US companies collect, analyze, and leverage consumer data to optimize efficiency, advertise and, hopefully, increase profits. However, with the rise of data breach incidents, varying laws and consumer demand pressure companies to secure networks, scrutinize vendor usage and be transparent with "collection practices." Sam Crochet takes a closer look into the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation.

The Shrinking Value of Hotel Loyalty Programs
Posted: 06/20/2017 by Vikram Singh

My work revolves around travel. Every night away from home is spent at a hotel or Airbnb property. I was recently asked about my hotel brand preferences and which loyalty program I use. The answer is that I belong to all of them but never achieve a high status due to the fact that my hotel nights are spread across many independent and brand hotels. If I were to pool all of my annual room nights into one brand, I could easily qualify for top tier status.

How Hotel Chatbots Will Change Guest Experience
Posted: 06/08/2017 by Brendon Granger

The world loves to chat. Today, more than 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app installed, with predictions that the number will hit 3.6 billion within a couple of years. Brendon Granger talks about the future of chatbots in the hospitality industry and how they will rapidly change our guest experience.

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.

The Events Industry Council released the top five trends shaping the events industry after discussing the state of the industry at their recent Council meeting. The Events Industry Council members comprise the CEOs of more than 30 of the leading industry associations that represent more than 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the meetings, conventions, and exhibitions industry.

Six Hotel Trends to Watch
Posted: 05/24/2017 by Brendon Granger

Understanding the changing preferences, desires and expectations of travelers is crucial for hotels to influence booking behavior. By staying on top of what guests care about, hotels can evolve how they market themselves and tailor their services to match the shifting demands of consumers.

Is Your Website Optimized to Drive Online Bookings?
Posted: 05/24/2017 by Nimesh Dinubhai

This year the 2017 AAHOA Convention was a huge success; not just for the thousands of hoteliers that attended, but also for the hundreds of venders that participated in the trade show. While conventions such as these are supremely famous for bringing together hoteliers and management companies from around the nation together in one platform, the primary focus of the AAHOA Convention is to educate on the newest hotel trends and offer classes that teach how to get the best out of various marketing tools. One of the biggest questions that came up at the convention from hoteliers this year was about their website and how to get the best out of it as a major marketing tool. Now that hotels have finally made the push to create private non-branded websites, hoteliers are left not knowing how to get the best out of them to drive the online bookings as was expected.

The way hotels communicate with guests has changed radically in the past few years. Not so long ago, phone calls and face-to-face conversations represented the standard form of engagement.

Nine in 10 global cyber security and risk experts believe that cyber risk is systemic and that simultaneous attacks on multiple companies are likely in 2017, according to a study issued by American International Group, Inc. (AIG).

In a world constantly vying for your attention, unexpected content and form factor is king. While large digital displays in High Definition (HD) or Ultra High Definition (UHD) are almost a commodity, new form factors are successfully capturing the attention of potential consumers. Whether it is the digital outdoor roadside signs that change every few seconds, a series of displays with sequenced creative content, or displays that draw attention because of their unusual size or placement, digital signage is being used to capture the attention of a growing population which is fixated looking at mobile phone screens.

In the 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) just released, Verizon presents a detailed picture of the nature of cybercrime in the past year. Now in its 10th year, the DBIR provides analytical insight on information from 65 organizations encompassing 42,068 incidents and 1,935 breaches from 84 countries.

In the latest version of the PCI-DSS the Council officially introduced the QIR (qualified integrators and resellers) requirements. Although they have been communicating the requirements and publishing the list of validated companies we haven’t read or heard much more about it… until now!

As North American hoteliers forge ahead in 2017, average daily rates (ADR) are holding strong in both the second and third quarters of 2017 despite declines in committed occupancy*, according to new data from TravelClick’s April 2017 North American Hospitality Review (NAHR).

Best Hotel Rewards Program
Posted: 04/11/2017 by Albert Boswijk & Jeroen Oskam

Hotel rewards programs are important, both to the travelers who join them and to the chains that run them. Roughly 18 percent of frequent travelers become loyal to a given hotel brand primarily because of its rewards program, according to Deloitte.

Online Journey of Today’s Traveler
Posted: 04/11/2017 by Nimesh Dinubhai

To understand what decisions today’s travelers, especially millennials, are making, we need to dissect, appreciate and understand each step of the journey made before making their booking decisions. Understanding the mindset and decision making factors that guests make will help hoteliers and their web designers create content that is not only relevant, but financially sound.

The Evolution of the Guest Room TV
Posted: 04/11/2017 by Brendon Granger

In the not-too-distant past, hotel guests could invariably expect to find their hotel room came with a cumbersome 21 inch TV offering a limited array of channels. Not especially exciting, and certainly not a selling point.

The numbers reported in a recent survey by Oracle Hospitality and Phocuswright are clear:

"64 percent of U.S. hotel guests said it is 'very or extremely important' for hotels to continue investing in technology to enhance the guest experience... 94 percent of business travelers and 80 percent of leisure travelers expressed interest in using smartphones to request service and message hotel staff."

In a recent study from Cornell University on female executives in hospitality, it was reported that while women make up 52.4 percent of the labor force in these companies, they constitute only 15.5 percent of executive officers. And in hospitality technology, the numbers are even lower

Five Steps to More Bookings
Posted: 03/27/2017 by Nimesh Dinubhai

Hotels need to be there when customers are looking for them, and they need to turn those searches into bookings. It is no longer enough to attract visitors to your website. Converting most visitors to customers must come not just from direct traffic but also on other platforms.

CES 2017: Beyond the Realm of Possibility
Posted: 03/14/2017 by Lalia Rach

What just keeps getting bigger, creates electronic envy on an unfathomable scale, and overwhelms your senses 5 seconds after you walk on the floor?

How To Measure Your Digital Marketing Effectiveness
Posted: 03/13/2017 by Boston University: Oren Altmark, Jennifer Ma, Gina Hock, Hannah Olson and Emma Crain

Digital marketing successes can be measured by a variety of metrics, which help to identify your performance against the goals and objectives of your company.

Shopping on the Holodeck
Posted: 03/13/2017 by David Kepron

When I was growing up, Sunday nights were always ‘dinners with Disney.’ We would gather around the TV, and if my mother had not created something fabulous for my four brothers and me, it might have been Swanson who laid out dinner on a folding TV table in front of us.

Digital Marketing on a Budget - for You and Your Wallet
Posted: 02/21/2017 by Boston University: Junyue Hu, Danielle Simpson, Richard Kwok, Megan Chacon-Diaz, Kaitlyn Tran

Digital marketing is your best friend. It allows you to interact and engage with your targeted audiences in real time. When executed correctly, it can help your business grow. 

Artificial Intelligence: Coming to a Hotel Room Near You
Posted: 02/21/2017 by Brendon Granger

In recent years, the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) has become a major point of intrigue in the travel sector. Right now, travel brands are using AI to power a new generation of chatbots that can communicate with customers and handle requests through text-based conversations.

Your Job is to Turn on Their Motivational Switch
Posted: 02/21/2017 by Renie Cavallari

In my research for my new book, aspire... to shine, I interviewed and collected data from hundreds of highly motivated and not-so-motivated people. There is one overriding commonality for all of us:

How to Leverage User Generated Content
Posted: 02/09/2017 by Boston University: Josh DeFord, Sara Szymanski, Janey Bernstein, Sophia Levine and Sophia Shi

User generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool for social media marketers. Videos, blogs, discussion form posts, images, tweets and other forms of media created by consumers, are considered user generated content. It’s proven that people trust other consumers’ experiences on products and services more than direct marketing from brands. UGC campaigns are particularly effective in promoting brand image and community. It allows you to create content with your customers, not just for them.

Dangerous Phishing Scam Hitting HR and Payroll Departments
Posted: 02/08/2017 by Better Business Bureau

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry issued an urgent alert to employers that an email scam involving Form W-2 content is spreading. Scammers are attempting to steal employee W-2 information by targeting payroll or human resource departments.

2017 blew in like a long-awaited whisper and will most assuredly go out with a bang. Let’s hope your marketing campaigns will do exactly the same. Complacency is out and being engaged is so definitely in! The hospitality industry has taken a huge hit in 2016, especially in oil field areas like Texas and Oklahoma. It is more important than ever that you double up on your marketing efforts and start off the new year with basic marketing tips that will boost your more expansive advertising campaigns and kick start higher revenues. There is no better time like the present, so let’s get started.

What I find even more ironic is that it does not appear the hotel industry is any better off this year to face the onslaught of data security challenges. In general, hoteliers are ill prepared to deal with such a large threat surface. Network and system hygiene has been ignored and the industry has always viewed data security as someone else’s problem (the brands) to deal with. Few have accepted the harsh reality that franchised or not, branded or independent, compliance is the sole responsibility of whoever holds the merchant account. The time for proactive security measures is here. The question for 2017 is, “Who will be prepared?”

How to Incorporate Digital Marketing into Fine Dining
Posted: 01/24/2017 by Boston University: Rafi Pell, Tessa Ohebshalom, Zifan Li and Maura Feltault

Since the recent growth in fine dining casual dress codes, environments, added value and culinary enhancements are among the ways in which fine dining restaurants have changed to meet their customer's’ needs.

How to Personalize Email Marketing
Posted: 01/12/2017 by Boston University: Tal Chesed, Celina Friedman, Natalie Mazouz, Vivian Wu, Andrea Soto

As competition in today’s noisy, technology driven world gives way to constant disruption and disintermediation, brands find themselves vying for hospitality and travel market share. Within this volatile landscape, marketers remain loyal to email. The reasoning is clear —email delivers better ROI than any other channel. According to a Mckinsey study, email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined when it comes to acquiring customers. Heinz Tschabitscher and Lifewire completed a study that showed more than 205 billion emails are sent daily. In an oversaturated digital world, personalization has become a well-recognized and highly discussed term in the hospitality industry. Only the savviest marketers will understand that digital media is no longer static. While personalization is not a new idea in the marketing arena, it is key in order to drive business value and strategically market to the vast and eclectic market of online consumers. This involves a dynamic use of customizable content matched with each customer’s unique preferences. Many marketers shy away from personalization, assuming a complete re-organization of the brand’s database is required. In reality, integrating the following personalization strategies into any brand’s email marketing campaigns will ultimately drive increased customer-satisfaction, interaction, awareness and overall brand loyalty. 

The HSMAI Americas board consists of a wide range of hospitality professionals from all areas of the industry, including representatives of 24 hotels and hotel companies. There were a number of interesting themes that emerged from the discussion. I’m excited to share some of their insights and provide my perspective into the industry trends and changes ahead.

Checking In before Checking Out
Posted: 12/19/2016 by Scott Schaedle

Today, nearly 60 percent of travelers book hotels using a mobile device and 81 percent find user reviews important. With mobile devices serving as a natural extension of travelers, hotels must engage with their guests where they’re talking and listening before, during and after their stay to manage the guest experience from check-in to checkout.

That’s Your Opinion… sort of.
Posted: 12/08/2016 by Michael Schubach

In the 20 years that have passed since I first heard the line, I have believed in the inherent truth of that statement. Now, I am having second thoughts. I don’t disagree with everyone’s high opinion of their own opinion; what I now question is whether everyone’s opinion is their own. The truth is that we may not be in complete control of the conclusions we draw. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but the opinions we hold – the thoughts that define us unique individuals – can be primed by external signals, subliminal suggestions, and any number of subtle cues. We are complete with our unconscious need for acceptance, our social biases and preconceived notions. The human brain is very powerful at manufacturing its own reality.

IT Items to be included in remodeling projects
Posted: 12/08/2016 by Geoff Griswold

First, there should be a clear definition of the project. This includes time of completion, exact type of materials used, labor/contractor costs and the overall budget. Hotel operations and construction companies/crews must work closely together to insure a smooth project. If the hotel is open and operating during construction, hours of work may be limited. There should be well defined guest and contractor areas.

Guest-Facing Kiosks Are Here to Stay
Posted: 11/21/2016 by Shuja Rahman

From the guest’s point of view an excellent experience is one that is simply frictionless. No one wants a struggle to meet a basic need; today’s population insists on convenience. They want an experience without the friction of having to repeat things that have already been communicated, or spending time trying to solve issues that shouldn’t exist in the first place. Such friction takes away from the overall experience.

Marketing Outside the Box 2017
Posted: 11/18/2016 by Nimesh Dinubhai

Hospitality marketing has made waves in the revenue stream in the last few years and lately we are seeing more and more ad campaigns, banners, articles and webinars on the importance of proactive marketing. It is all very effective and has definitely spread quickly among hospitality professionals trying to fit into today’s trends, but there are many unsung heroes, marketing must haves that seem to get swept under the carpet. The not-so-common marketing tips need to be revisited. Here is a small list of marketing ideas that are geared to bring in online customers that are visiting your site, and are either passing by because there was not enough visual appeal, or because you were not showcasing your property as well as you could be. These marketing tips are designed to give you a more proactive connection with your guests; past, present and future.

A recent string of cybersecurity events affecting a surprising number of well-known hotel chains has been making headlines. First, it was revealed that a point-of-sale (POS) malware breach hit a total of 20 hotels run by HEI Hotels and Resorts, including Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood and Intercontinental properties. The attack was active March 1, 2015 through June 21, 2016, potentially affecting thousands of customers — according to a statement by HEI Hotels and Resorts.

Is the Age of the Hotel App Over?
Posted: 10/28/2016 by Brendon Granger

A few short years ago, mobile apps were being heralded as the next big communication tool in the hotel industry. But in a presentation at this year's HITEC, it was argued that the hotel app might be coming to an end.

It’s no secret that the hospitality industry has a serious cybersecurity problem. In the past few months alone, there have been dozens of hotel data breaches reported. Hotels and resorts have long been a hot target for criminals, and that trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

OTT Entertainment Gets Personal
Posted: 10/19/2016 by Mike Bitz

Entertainment makes us laugh and cry, gives us fodder for the water cooler, and brings us together, and yet it’s also a highly individual experience. Despite 21 years of marriage and a multitude of common interests, my wife will never share my obsession with Game of Thrones. In fact, everyone in our household has their own favorites – the boys like Dual Survival and YouTube videos of puzzle solvers (respectively – don’t get it wrong!), and my wife looks forward to a few quiet hours watching The Bachelor each week (which frankly I will never understand).

In my last few articles, I have stressed the importance of hotels branching out and creating a custom website that offers guests a brighter picture of their properties and what they offer. But what happens if after your site is up, you are still not able to see the grand results you were expecting? All is not lost!

Mobile Payments, An Important Part of Hospitality
Posted: 10/04/2016 by Roberta Braum

Today’s guests are accustomed to doing things on the go. They live in a mobile world. They value a simple and frictionless consumer experience for selecting where they will stay, what they will eat and where they will spend their dollars. The manner in which guests assess, select, experience and spend is changing almost as quickly as technology is advancing.

How Hackers Attack Your Hotel Back Office
Posted: 09/20/2016 by Rick Warner

Experts estimate between 38 percent and 47 percent of credit card fraud occurs in the hospitality and food and beverage industries. The high volume of credit card transactions, high staff turnover and data-rich target environment make the hospitality industry attractive to cybercriminals. Despite industry reliance on compliance standards such as PCI DSS, over the past few years, many major brands were breached and lost hundreds of thousands of guest credit card numbers.

Top 3 Hospitality Must-haves to be in the Techy Trend
Posted: 09/20/2016 by Nimesh Dinubhai

The hotel industry is no different today than it was hundreds of years ago. Travelers still want a first-class product at the cheapest price possible, with ultimate customer service. The only thing that has really changed is the means in which we provide it. As advances in technology continue to rack the hospitality industry, owners and general managers are fervently scrambling to keep up with new technological trends. Let’s face it, that “unique and novel” experience doesn’t just happen on its own and today includes a variety of technological trends.

How Hotels Can Use Technology to Attract Millennials
Posted: 08/30/2016 by Brendon Granger

The popularity of Airbnb with millennials has been well documented causing the hotel industry to rethink how it appeals to this travel-loving generation.

When it comes to revenue management, size matters. Historically, it has anyway. The old adage, “it takes money to make money” has held true in the hospitality industry, particularly for larger, high-guest traffic hotels that have run the show by implementing complex revenue management platforms; once unobtainable by smaller properties with less resources at their disposal. With big properties shaping the demand for such solutions, revenue management’s technology landscape has consequently been shaped by hoteliers accustomed to sold out nights and being able to leverage an array of analytical resources. While commonly designed to maximize the best yield, such platforms focus on minimizing room availability for lower paying guests; a highly effective strategy in boosting revenue for larger, busier properties that sell out frequently. Tools catering to this aspect can be complex, designed for large-scale properties who typically employ experts dedicated to understanding the many intricacies of revenue management. To the mid-market hotelier who is short of time and may more realistically sell out one night in 10, this approach simply does not make good business sense.

Under Siege – Staying out of the Headlines
Posted: 08/17/2016 by Geneva Rinehart

Another week and another hospitality company is in the headlines after a security incident involving payment information was announced. This week the baton was handed to HEI with the announcement that 20 properties under the Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood and InterContinental brand names, were breached through POS malware. Last week’s headlines followed the detection of malicious code in certain legacy MICROS systems, and before that it was Omni Hotels and Resorts in the news. And the list will continue to grow unless something changes.

Stressed Out?
Posted: 08/16/2016 by Renie Cavallari

You don’t shine when you are overly stressed. Stress generally creates negativity. It does not drive innovation nor inspire people to perform at their best. Focus does. Stress puts endless limits on how you think. It triggers fear which makes us small – and small does not serve you or the world.

Using Hotel CRM Data to Segment Your Audience
Posted: 08/16/2016 by Christophe Tayon

Data is becoming an integral component of how the hospitality industry approaches marketing. Hoteliers have a wealth of data they can leverage to provide guests with the best possible experience during their stay. Compiling data is now essential to ensuring customer loyalty and satisfaction, and has a direct and powerful impact on revenue growth. To make that data actionable, marketers use audience segmentation to enable content personalization. Rather than sending the same email to their entire database, hotels can communicate to different groups of guests based on common interests and lifestyles. It allows marketers to focus on the quality of their communications instead of the quantity. In other words, it is not about how many guests you reach, but how many guests are engaged with your content. As a result, hoteliers can connect with their guests before, during and after their stay by using a one-on-one marketing strategy.

Last week a new hacking device that threatens many POS and door lock systems circulated like wildfire. We have been fielding a large number of calls from clients and prospects asking questions about the story and the risks to their properties.

Direct is Better!
Posted: 08/04/2016 by Nimesh Dinubhai

Many hospitality professionals ponder the questions: Why do I need a private website? Why can’t I rely on the corporate brand site and let bookings come in through OTAs?

Pitfalls of a Pricing-Only Approach for Hotels
Posted: 08/04/2016 by Charles Wang

What happens when hotels use revenue management approaches that focus only on pricing and exclude other analytical aspects?

The Sea of Mediocrity
Posted: 07/22/2016 by Renie Cavallari

At work, an astounding 72 percent of people play at the mediocre level according to research based on Aspire's 10-year study of top performing people and teams. Think of the productivity and profits lost!

Is it Safe to Travel?
Posted: 07/22/2016 by Michael Schubach

One does not have to think back very far to decide if we live in a troubled world. Early last month I started to write a Hospitality Upgrade Watercooler piece on the growing threats to travel and accommodation. Before I could get through a rough draft on the topic, Orlando burst to the forefront. First, Christina Grimme, a contestant on NBC’s talent show, The Voice, was gunned down at a fan meet-and-greet. Then, a scant 48 hours later, before I could get through my revised second draft, Orlando’s Pulse nightclub was attacked and 49 more victims were left dead. Does all that seem like ancient history that you’re already tired of hearing? That was all the way back during the weekend of June 10–12.

Hospitality Upgrade reached out to the team at DANNI Enterprises to provide a summary of experiences from HITEC 2016. Each team member scouted HITEC through the lens of his or her specific area of expertise.

Hospitality Upgrade reached out to the team at DANNI Enterprises to provide a summary of experiences from HITEC 2016. Each team member scouted HITEC through the lens of his or her specific area of expertise.

Hospitality Upgrade reached out to the team at DANNI Enterprises to provide a summary of experiences from HITEC 2016. Each team member scouted HITEC through the lens of his or her specific area of expertise.

Hospitality Upgrade reached out to the team at DANNI Enterprises to provide a summary of experiences from HITEC 2016. Each team member scouted HITEC through the lens of his or her specific area of expertise.

Hospitality Upgrade reached out to the team at DANNI Enterprises to provide a summary of experiences from HITEC 2016. Each team member scouted HITEC through the lens of his or her specific area of expertise.

Hospitality Upgrade reached out to the team at DANNI Enterprises to provide a summary of experiences from HITEC 2016. Each team member scouted HITEC through the lens of his or her specific area of expertise.

The HITEC of Yesterday and Tomorrow
Posted: 06/17/2016 by Michael Schubach

I was recently asked if HITEC is different today than it “used to be.” This, of course, is code talking; the question less politely phrased was actually “how was it in the olden days when you first starting coming here?” Admittedly, it has been some years – OK, decades – since I first attended HITEC and the experience is admittedly different. However, that has less to do with the evolution of the HITEC experience and more to do with how I’ve changed over the same span of time.

Revenue management continues to evolve at a very fast pace and compared to a few years ago we need different types of tools, skills and mindsets operating in this critical role.

SNEAK PREVIEW: WTF! (Why They're Freaking!)
Posted: 06/07/2016 by Marion Roger

On March 7, 2016, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued orders to nine companies requiring them to provide the agency with information on how they conduct assessments of companies to measure their compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).The accompanying Order to File a Special Report compelled these entities to report on their policies, practices, budgets and handling of potential conflicts of interest between the PCI assessments and other services the companies might provide their clients (i.e., auditing and consulting).

Buyers, Beware
Posted: 06/07/2016 by Terry Price, CPA, CHAE, CHTP

Summer is here – one of my favorite times of the year. The weather gets warmer and we have the opportunity to get outdoors. Among the fun things we do in the heat is the gathering of all our friends and colleagues at HITEC. This year’s show promises to be another extravagant display of new technologies and solutions for our industry. With the economy looking up, many will be shopping for some much needed solutions. The advances in technology and the adoption of cloud-based solutions give us some exciting new options to choose from. But beware, we need to proceed with caution.

Guest Arrival: Turning Your Data Into Action
Posted: 05/25/2016 by Christophe Tayon

For the hospitality and travel industry, guest arrival represents a crucial moment that drives overall guest experience and loyalty. It's a necessary and common interaction yet one where the stakes are high because the guest’s impressions from check-in can set the tone for the entire stay.

In order to be more competitive, many organizations have amped up their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts over the past decade, yet it’s no secret that the hospitality industry is still trying to find its way when it comes to going green. Major corporations now include reports of their sustainability efforts in conjunction with financial reports. As corporations continue to focus on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit, many find that consumers are choosing their products over the competition in order to support their CSR efforts. The same concept holds true for consumer’s choice in hotels as many consumers are increasingly basing their accommodation decisions according to the hotel’s environmental sustainability initiatives commonly called “eco-friendly.”

It’s The Fast Who Eat The Slow!
Posted: 05/11/2016 by Marion Roger

Every year Verizon releases its Data Breach Investigations Report, an in-depth analysis of the breaches and incidents it has analyzed. The report is considered the most highly anticipated cybersecurity report of the year and the 2016 edition does not disappoint, shedding new light on the evolving landscape. The information presented, if you have the time to read it (and you really should make the time!) gives you for free, some of the key statistics and lessons learned from over 100,000 security incidents and 2,000 data breaches. This report helps professionals and newbies stay on top of the most useful insights into how it all happens.

Quality Over Quantity
Posted: 05/09/2016 by Nimesh Dinubhai

When shopping around for a web design company for your business, it is easy to get caught up with brand name or rely on an extensive resume portfolio when making a buying decision; especially on big ticket items. Many of us are guilty of this, in fashion, restaurants, even in the shoes we wear. My son wears the shoes that all the other kids are wearing and I carry the purse all the women are or want to carry – sometimes, even if I don’t necessarily like it. Sounds crazy, yet we all do it. I have since mended my ways and have learned the very important concept of quality over quantity, especially in the business world; it just makes sense. I would rather work for a small company that I know has potential growth and partners that I know will recognize and nurture their staff as opposed to a huge company or conglomerate that is always just focused on the bottom line, regardless of how they get there. So why should you not think the same way when looking for the perfect web design company to design, maintain and monitor your website that is bringing in business and money for you?

How Millennial Expectations are Transforming the Hospitality Industry
Posted: 04/27/2016 by Geneva Rinehart and Katherine Darsie

The report surveyed more than 9,000 millennials from around the world and discussed their use of technology in hotels, restaurants, bars and coffee shops – quantifying the impact mobile devices have on the hospitality industry. Millennials are projected to spend an average of $3,900 each on travel this year.

A Beacon in the Dark
Posted: 04/26/2016 by Terry Price, CPA, CHAE, CHTP

As a beacon of light guides a ship to safe waters, beacon technology guides the consumer to something they may need or want. This revolutionizing technology uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signal to communicate with a guest's phone when it is within 230 feet, or 70 meters, from one of the devices. The technology opens up the concept of proximity marketing and target marketing to only individuals that are near or in your facility.

Forty Nine Vendors Walk Into a Bar...
Posted: 04/13/2016 by Michael Schubach

Last week was my inaugural visit to Hospitality Upgrade’s Executive Vendor Summit. I was a little late to this party – this was the 12th year of this annual get-together – but my first time attending. To be fair, I didn’t previously qualify for an invitation; I wasn’t a founder or C-level executive of a hospitality technology or service company (strike one) that advertises in Hospitality Upgrade (strike two) or a consultant (strike three). All that changed this past year when I began practice as an independent industry consultant and – bingo! – I made the list.

Your Website is Your Business!
Posted: 04/12/2016 by Priya Patel

It has always surprised me how many small businesses and hotels thrive without a website, especially in this day and age where a technologically advanced website can become the most powerful marketing tool available. Sure there are websites created by franchises according to the brand, but to have an independent website can put thousands of more dollars a month in your bank. An independent website will be feature rich with buttons for social media sites, dropdown menus with links that take you to local restaurants or entertainment sites, or the newest trend of a virtual reality tour of your business using Google Cardboard. Let’s face it. Without marketing, a business cannot succeed!

The Jugaad of Inbox Hero
Posted: 04/12/2016 by Chuck Coveleski

In the last article, I tried to share some ways to help reduce the emails. Maybe they helped, maybe they didn't or maybe you didn’t even try. That’s okay. We have an innovative fix to give you more time working on your goals and less time spent on managing emails.

Photos from the Executive Vendor Summit 2016
Posted: 04/08/2016 by Hospitality Upgrade

Photos from the Executive Vendor Summit 2016

Getting Technical
Posted: 03/28/2016 by Renie Cavallari

We continue to increase our dependence on and use of technology for communication to take advantage of the convenience and efficiency. If you only use these tools to deliver your message, you have a 93 percent chance of being misunderstood!

Hospitality Hype Over Social Media Marketing
Posted: 03/24/2016 by Priya Patel

That is a great question a lot of businesses are now asking; what is all the hype about with the new social media craze hitting the marketing platform? Facebook and Instagram still remain the top outlets for showcasing new hairstyles and who’s going where, when and with whom for millions of people. Social media is obviously not just a fad. It’s here, and not going away. So why do I, an owner of a hotel or any leisure business need to be on Facebook or Google+? First and foremost, remember all of the millions of people on Twitter, Instagram and the many other social media sites – at the end of the day, they are our customers! With that many people using social media, it’s only obvious the hospitality industry will be greatly impacted.

A philosophy I've long applied to yield (I tend to use “revenue”) management I lifted from medicine's Hippocratic oath: “First, do no harm.” Done well, revenue management is perhaps the most efficient means of converting a property's supply and demand characteristics into optimal revenue and profitability results. Done poorly, it can cripple monetary success and alienate guests in the process.

Pre-Opening Sensation – Buzz to Boom!
Posted: 03/09/2016 by Nimesh Dinubhai

Congratulations, you're midway through construction of your hotel, but now what? The word pre-opening is being tossed around more than a basketball in the NBA, but what exactly does it mean? I always thought pre-opening a hotel was between the owner and the franchise marketing group so that they can pre-sell your property before the doors even open. Well yes, it is, and that has come a long way in helping to market your new property but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Now hotels have the capability to open their doors and create a sensation with a huge boom by creating an online buzz. Opening a hotel is obviously a challenge, no matter how many properties you have opened, but it can also be viewed as an opportunity. In today’s market, it is all about your media presence.

Airbnb: What is Next?
Posted: 03/03/2016 by Albert Boswijk & Jeroen Oskam

Only recently the understanding has emerged that Airbnb – and similar businesses – would be something big. There is now a consensus that, maybe unlike other initiatives coined as the “sharing economy”, the large scale use of residential housing for traveler accommodation will change the way we do business in the hotel industry. And if things were not clear enough, the company last summer raised 1.5 billion U.S.D. private funding for its further plans.

Can Real Innovation Come Without Disruption?
Posted: 02/22/2016 by Ron Strecker

If you’re like me, your inbox has included recent cover stories, emails and blog posts about disruption. Some have spoken about embracing disruption, others have offered ideas on how to minimize it. Regardless how you feel about it, the amount of disruption in our industry is going to increase.

Extended-stay accommodations are long time players in the hospitality industry, with the majority of hotel groups having one or more long-stay brands within their portfolio. Extended-stay accommodation typically refers to extended-stay hotels, aparthotels and serviced apartments – and their popularity over the recent years have been quickly on the rise.

The early-stage evaluations are flying back and forth in the patent lawsuit between Nomadix and Blueprint RF. A second round of motions has been decided in Nomadix’s favor, but unlike the initial industry reaction the final outcome appears far from being determined.

Millennials: What Do They Care About Technology?
Posted: 02/10/2016 by Brendon Granger

Millennials - also known as Generation Y - are the generation of travelers born between 1980 and 1995. Millennials were the first generation to be born into the digital world; they’ve grown up in an age where technology is an everyday part of life and regular travel is very accessible. This has created a wave of so-called savvy travelers, who look for unique value in their travel destinations at an affordable price.

ADA Compliance: Is Your Website in Violation?
Posted: 02/10/2016 by Nimesh Dinubhai

In 1990, Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). At that time, the public Internet did not exist. But two landmark cases heightened oversight of government and advocacy groups, and set the precedent that public websites that offer a service need to comply with ADA standards.

The Wabi-sabi of Email
Posted: 02/09/2016 by Chuck Coveleski

Wabi-sabi. I just like saying the word: "Wabi-sabi." What is Wabi-sabi? It is the Japanese ideal of celebrating and embracing the imperfect and the worn.

Speaking of revolution, in 1902 Vladimir Ilyich Lenin published “What Is to Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement." It was intended in part to mark the end of one period of political development in Russia and to give practical tips for what was needed next. So not very different from this column…

The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Americas Board of Directors members recently offered their predictions for what to expect in hospitality sales, marketing and revenue optimization in 2016. The HSMAI Americas board consists of a wide range of hospitality professionals from all areas of the industry, including representatives of 24 hotels and hotel companies. I’m excited to share some of their insights and provide my perspective into the industry trends and changes ahead.

I Don’t Have Time to Read a Productivity Book
Posted: 01/26/2016 by Chuck Coveleski

"Too much to do and not enough time." If I had a nickel for every time I heard that phrase I could be on a tropical island right now.

For those of us who are fascinated with technology, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is a lot like Christmas. It comes very quickly and is over before you know it.

While the FRHI Hotel & Resort brands have storied histories, in 2014 a strategic focus on internal digital communications and its link to employee engagement was still new to the company. At that time, FRHI had recently reorganized, and the employees across the globe had little-to-no knowledge of the parent company and often felt only a connection to the hotel for which they worked. There was a lack of effective internal communication between the many hotels within the system on a variety of levels – time zones, cultures and languages, as well as a lack of strong community culture.

It's Like Knight and Day
Posted: 01/11/2016 by Renie Cavallari

When you think about encouraging your team to fully participate and collaborate, have you supported the effort both symbolically and environmentally? Take King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, for instance. King Arthur did away with the long [conference] table and replaced it with a round one. He knew that to achieve the unity he desired, he could not seat some people in privileged up-table positions where he could hear them and others at the opposite end where they would have to shout to be heard as that only resulted in a divisive court, struggling for status.

End of Year Review: Technology
Posted: 12/22/2015 by Jeremy Rock

When asked to comment on the technology highlights of 2015 I initially drew a blank but then a number of items popped into my head:

End of Year Review: Distribution
Posted: 12/17/2015 by John Burns

Dizzying, perplexing, intimidating and exciting are all appropriate adjectives to describe hotel distribution in 2015. More developments impacted the manner in which hotels offer their accommodation through election sales channels to potential guests in 2015 than in any year in memory.

End of Year Review: Data Breaches
Posted: 12/17/2015 by Marion Roger

The numbers are in... this year (2015) the total number of data breaches reached 732, surpassing last year's total of 726 for the same time period, according to the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center. It is reporting more than 176 million records were exposed this year so far. When you think that we still have two weeks to go before 2016, the trend does not augur well.

End of Year Review: Digital Marketplace
Posted: 12/17/2015 by Cindy Estis Green

2015 has been a whirlwind year for the digital marketplace. Here are just a few of the changes that affected hotels and the digital ecosystem in which they operate.

End of Year Review: Privacy and Cybersecurity Law
Posted: 12/17/2015 by Risa Boerner & Heather Steele

This past year saw a number of developments domestically and internationally in the area of privacy and cybersecurity, many of which have had – and will continue to have – a significant impact on the hospitality industry. From the European Court of Justice’s historic ruling in the Schrems case to the EMV liability shift, the following are four of the most significant legal developments in privacy and cybersecurity law from 2015:

Your conversation rate is simply the percentage of visitors that make a reservation through your website. You need to understand that having a large number of visitors is one thing and convincing them to make a reservation is an entirely different thing. It is not enough to focus on how to increase the number of visitors to your website, but you also need to pay serious attention to things that help convert visitors into customers.

This article concludes our 12-month “Flex Your Data Muscles” analytics challenge. Congratulations! We hope that the monthly tasks associated with the analytics challenge have been worth your while. If you’re just getting to know about the challenge, refer to the Hospitality Upgrade newsletter issued in January 2015 to learn more.

Welcome to Part 10 of our 12-month “Flex Your Data Muscles” analytics challenge. We hope that the monthly tasks associated with the analytics challenge have been worth your while. If you’re just getting to know about the challenge, click here to refer to the Hospitality Upgrade newsletter issued in January 2015 to learn more.

Despite some extensive public hand wringing for the past few days, there’s one certain ray of sunshine amidst the dire speculation racking the hospitality industry: there are now many more hotels that will accept your points if you’re a member of Marriott Rewards or a Starwood Preferred Guest. The bigger question, of course, is if you aren’t a loyalty club member, an employee, a supplier or a shareholder, did anything of any significance actually happen during Marriott’s annexation of Starwood.

Anatomy of a Hotel Data Breach
Posted: 11/20/2015 by Sandy Garfinkel

Data breach incidents have dominated the news in 2014, and they are only becoming more frequent and damaging. Security industry experts have estimated that 78 percent of all companies and organizations in the United States suffered some sort of data loss or theft within the past two years. The prevailing view among most analysts is that data breaches are unavoidable. It is not a question of if companies will become victims, but when, and how prepared they will be to react when it happens.

I have been preaching for several years now the unrealized potential of analytics as it pertains to digital out-of-home networks. Because I run a 52,000 digital display network on the Las Vegas Strip, which is clearly the largest of its kind, the horsepower I am able to tap into may not translate to a smaller or fragmented system, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t test a tiny installation and gain a wealth of information if you plot your course correctly and track the results. The biggest value to smaller networks is the ability to control the entire process from inception to deployment.

For more than a year a fight has been brewing between Blueprint RF and Nomadix over Internet gateway patents. As the lawsuit begins to find clarity there are two basic functions that remain in dispute, the captive-portal or login page and PMS-billing connection fees to guestrooms.

What is the Future of Wearable Technology in Hotels?
Posted: 11/06/2015 by Brendon Granger

If you’re at all interested in technology – whether it is for work or just for fun – you’ll know the future that all the big tech companies are working towards is wearable technology. The release of the Apple Watch earlier this year goes to show that users are still looking for the next new and exciting piece of tech to own... and now to wear.

I Got Your Annual Review Right Here
Posted: 11/06/2015 by Michael Schubach

Those who believe that a free market system always corrects itself will be heartened to know that the magic is still happening. The market giants involved: Microsoft, Adobe, Accenture, Kelly Services and General Motors, with more companies poised to follow suit. Their motivation: mollifying millennial workers, the largest, most influential and whiniest labor segment in the American workforce. The issue: traditional performance evaluations. The prognosis: said evaluations are headed for the history books. Some commentary offered to you by a Baby Boomer no longer effected by such changes: it’s about damn time.

Converting Accountability Into Top Productivity
Posted: 10/26/2015 by Renie Cavallari

Anything sustainable has a process associated with it. Processes allow us to repeat performance, and good processes are formulas for ongoing success. As a leader, one of your main jobs is to grow the productivity of your people. You always hear not to sweat the small stuff, and yet it is the small stuff that eats our time. Every organization has this challenge. There's already too much on our never-ending to-do lists, so we tend to react to what matters next rather than what matters most. In the chaos of every day, we tend to do, not think. This means we end up constantly correcting our course — an expensive approach to business.

Top Five Challenges Hoteliers Face Online Today
Posted: 10/25/2015 by Nimesh Dinubhai

There are a slew of facets to building a powerful online presence, and for many it can be incredibly overwhelming. Even a seemingly simple decision on where to begin can become a blind struggle. An ill-informed and misdirected approach can lead to money and time wasted.

There Is No Safe Harbor In This Perfect Storm
Posted: 10/13/2015 by Marion Roger

On October 6, 2015, the European courts ruled that the 15-year-old Safe Harbor Act is immediately invalid, citing it clearly violates privacy rights. This has a direct impact on how hotels operate overseas or, for readers without hotels in Europe, how they treat information about guests who live in Europe and travel to your hotel. Whether you know about Safe Harbor or not, you should understand why this is so important.

I often hear, “Isn’t vulnerability scanning outdated?” from my clients. After all, with log monitoring and patch updates readily available, they tend to wonder, “What’s the point?”

Commonly Asked Social Media Questions Answered
Posted: 09/29/2015 by Nimesh Dinubhai

Social media is much more than just sharing food pics and cat memes. Okay, so maybe 80 percent of it is food and cats. But in all seriousness, there's a game being played on social media and it can be confusing if you're just now showing up to play.

Our 12-month “Flex Your Data Muscles” analytics challenge has been running for seven months, and we hope that we’ve been able to provide you with some useful takeaways that will help improve your existing analytics efforts. If you’re just learning about the challenge, click here to view the Hospitality Upgrade newsletter issued in January 2015 in order to learn more.

C’mon Baby, Light My Fire
Posted: 09/16/2015 by Renie Cavallari

If you’ve been keeping up with this series, you know how important it is to have an aligned culture that supports your organization’s vision, mission and values, along with strong strategic planning to see sustainable success. And yet there is a key ingredient that ignites these components and without it, your engine will stall: passion. The more passion an organization has, the more fuel it has.

You are in the hospitality industry, providing lodging to travelers and vacationers and you have a website to maintain. Planning and building your content calendar is important to get the most out of your online prospects. If you think about it, your interaction on the web is 100 percent through content. It only makes sense to adjust your web activity and focus it around what we want to market, right?

Those following the FTC Wyndham case just heard that the federal court rejected Wyndham’s challenge of the FTC’s authority to enforce data security as an unfair trade practice. In its original lawsuit, the FTC accused Wyndham of a long litany of privacy fails, from storing unencrypted credit card information to lacking firewalls to using easily-guessed passwords.

The Decline and Fall of Civilized Systems
Posted: 08/24/2015 by Michael Schubach

As I spend time with system users throughout the industry, there is a comment that I hear frequently enough to have it register as a recurring theme. It comes in the form of a sometimes wistful, sometimes angry complaint: “our system used to handle that situation just fine but then something happened and it isn’t working anymore.”

As an update to our first article on the lawsuit filed by Nomadix against Blueprint RF, a federal judge ruled allegations of deceiving federal patent examiners could go forward against Nomadix Inc. (an NTT Docomo Company).

We are now past the halfway mark in our 12-month “Flex Your Data Muscles” analytics challenge, and we’ve made significant progress towards achieving our goal. If you’ve undertaken all the challenges posed so far, we hope that you have been inspired to improve your existing analytics efforts. If you’re just getting to know about the challenge, refer to the Hospitality Upgrade newsletter issued in January 2015 by clicking here.

Who Could Live Without 25 Years of HUGs?
Posted: 08/07/2015 by Jennifer Jones

“You don’t know what you don’t know”… until you go to HUG. The Host Users Group (HUG) is a unique conference held annually for the users, by the users of Host, one of PAR Springer-Miller’s property management systems. This year, HUG celebrates their Silver Jubilee at the Sunriver Resort in Oregon, Nov. 8 – 12, 2015. This 25th Anniversary is special as there has been an ocean of memories to reminisce over the years. There’s also a few select people who have been along on the journey willing to revel in the yearly family reunion.

Mistakes Most Business Owners Make With Website Design
Posted: 08/06/2015 by Nimesh Dinubhai

It is estimated that a website is born every eight seconds, which means you will have about 324,000 new websites in front of you in one month. Unfortunately, not all these websites achieve what they want to. Website designing is a tricky art not many have mastered. It's not about using some simple or sometimes not-so-simple codes to display a jumbled up mess of content.

Augmented Reality: Your New Digital Marketing Experience
Posted: 07/29/2015 by Leora Halpern Lanz and Sarah Andersen

Picture yourself walking down the street on a busy weekday. You look up to see what special treats are on display in your favorite local bakery’s window. As you scan the usual favorites, your eye catches a delectable creation that you’ve never seen before. You grab your smartphone and open the bakery’s mobile app. As you hover your phone’s camera over the bakery’s storefront menu, this tasty-looking treat instantly appears on your phone’s screen and you learn its ingredients. You simultaneously discover the bakery’s current promotional specials along with their second store opening, which happens to be near your parents’ home.

School’s out, and countless families are preparing to visit attractions like amusement parks and resort hotels. We’ve seen plenty of evidence that cybercriminals will attack all types of businesses, and those that process payment data are especially valuable. The recent investigation by popular vacation destination Hershey Park into a pattern of credit card fraud further emphasizes this. Therefore, it’s essential that hospitality companies take the necessary steps to protect customer data and ensure that stronger security measures are in place for their network, payment systems and on-premise Wi-Fi services. Making those areas a priority now will allow them to keep their visitors’ information safe and secure throughout the busy summer travel season.

Big Data: The Vulcan Blind Side
Posted: 07/15/2015 by Michael Schubach

There is a commodity available in great abundance in the 21 Century: data, which steams toward us in a 24x7x365 relentless torrent. Diamonds used to be forever but data is the new infinity.

Thoughts on HITEC 2015: Hospitality's Halley's Comet
Posted: 07/10/2015 by Michael Schubach

With HITEC 2015 as my assigned topic, I have little choice but to start off selfishly: this year’s gathering in Austin was the site of my induction into the HFTP International Hall of Fame. That experience meant a great deal to me – the Hall of Fame is the honor of a lifetime for someone who has spent almost that long working in hospitality technology. That said, there is still the larger issue of what HITEC 2015 meant to me as a rank-and-file attendee. As always, this year’s event aligned rather smartly with what I think is the enduring meaning of HITEC – it’s a touchstone of certainty in an uncertain world. For example:

The more things change, the more they stay the same! That old saying rang true in Austin at HITEC. So many companies that used to exhibit and have the biggest stands are now gone… divested, acquired or broke. And so many new dewy eyed hopeful companies pop up to replace them – yet it seems cyclical – so in a lot of ways nothing has changed. Weird.

Everyone has HITEC stories. Whether they be about the conferences themselves, or the friends they made, or the after-hours high jinx they lived through, everyone that attends a HITEC has a story. My first HITEC was in Baltimore in 1992. If you were there, and commit to being old enough to have attended that show, I was an exhibitor. I was the guy that had a basketball goal and ball in his booth, and dressed as a referee. The more shots you could make the bigger discount I would give you off of a telecom audit. A moment that I am sure Frank Wolfe is proud of. Marketing still isn’t one of my strengths!

Buzzword of the Week: Mobile Check-In
Posted: 06/24/2015 by Dan Phillips

The big get bigger! There have been several mergers this last year, and a couple more rumored. That makes for fewer companies for hotels to choose products and services from. While many hotel companies and brands strive for standardization, several of them hope to differentiate themselves. It is important that many new companies, with different ways of doing things, continue to enter our industry.

Wow, what a week. This year marked my 19th consecutive HITEC and it was by far the best. There was electricity in the air, along with a tropical storm. The educational sessions were top notch and the addition of vendor showcases was a great idea. And it was one of the busiest for me in the way of appointments made in advance with nine different vendors. I also had two HITEC first-timers with me this year. Deuce Sapp is our company’s IT director and Brad Good is the controller for the Galt House. I truly enjoy introducing new folks to the few people I have known through these years.

Last month we took a breather to reflect upon the various tasks we’ve undertaken so far in our 12-month “Flex Your Data Muscles” analytics challenge, and also to fine-tune our accomplishments. Hopefully, the challenge has given you a few ideas on how to kick-start your hospitality analytics journey or perhaps inspired you to improve your existing analytics efforts. If you’re just getting to know about the challenge, refer to the Hospitality Upgrade newsletter issued in January 2015 by clicking here.

In recent years, there’s been a major movement toward adopting the cloud across the hospitality industry. In 2013, for instance, nearly half of all hotels were already using the cloud or wanted to make the switch, and the number has only grown since then. This should come as no surprise: As hotel guests themselves use the cloud more and more in their personal lives —booking rooms online, working remotely from their hotels, or collecting loyalty points on mobile devices — they expect the hotels they trust to do the same. It’s all part of delivering excellent customer service. But not only can adopting the cloud industry-wide provide additional convenience for your guests, it can also revolutionize the way you work.

Super Size Me?
Posted: 06/10/2015 by Michael Schubach

In case you didn’t see it, on May 19 Hotel-Online published the press release for Abraj Kudai, the structure that will become, on its scheduled opening in 2017, the largest hotel in the world at 10,000 rooms. AK, if you will, is being constructed in Mecca (here I use the traditional spelling), Saudi Arabia, approximately one mile from the Grand Mosque, the holiest shrine in Islam. By definition, it’s aimed at the religiously observant; non-Muslims are not permitted in Makkah (and here I use the transliteration). Beyond the observant, the hotel is obviously targeting a well-heeled clientele: twelve towers, ten of which will be designed with four-star accommodations and the remaining two will offer five-star rooms and amenities. Oh, and by the way, five floors are reserved exclusively for the Saudi royal family.

Hotels used to be a place where people went to get away from it all. Whether it be a quiet refuge for business people after a day full of meetings, a romantic escape for couples, or a destination away from busy home lives for vacationing families and friends.

Some think it's "fluff" while others think it is "done because it's on a wallet card" possessed by every employee. Yet culture is the tool that leaders use to inspire and align. When your people are aligned, they stay agile and focused, making decisions effectively. It's time to start thinking differently about the power and control your culture has over your business and its future!

What’s My Motivation?
Posted: 05/05/2015 by Michael Schubach

Recently I had reason to find myself in a conference center hotel. (That opening makes me sound a bit like lost luggage, doesn’t it?) My friends, knowing that my background was primarily in destination resorts and upper upscale luxury hotels, issued the usual friendly warnings that I should gird my loins for the unpleasant trip downscale. The trip proved to be interesting and productive and the accommodations, while somewhat Spartan, were… just fine, thank you very much.

Verizon released its 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) this month and extended an exclusive preview to Hospitality Upgrade including an interview with one of the authors, Jay Jacobs, the senior analyst and DBIR co-author with Verizon. HU asked Jacobs to cut through the more than 60-page report and share what this year’s investigation means to the hotel industry.

We've reached Part 4 of the “Flex Your Data Muscles” analytics challenge. Have you taken the opportunity to tackle some, if not all, of the challenges presented so far? If you are unfamiliar with this challenge, refer to Part 1 of this series for further details. In summary, each month throughout this calendar year, you will be presented with one analytics-related challenge to tackle. The challenges, each with two levels (basic and advanced), will be presented and discussed via this newsletter and the Hospitality Upgrade magazine.

Not to be confused with the exchange of taunts by athletes, SMAC is a helpful acronym. Each letter represents a direction in workplace learning that, if utilized together, they may combat hospitality’s globally crippling talent shortage. At the very least, they will boost your ability to compete.

Verizon released the Verizon 2015 PCI Compliance Report on March 12. The 84-page report contains an overview of how ‘compliant’ companies are and the findings compare prior years’ results to current.

Why Keyword Research is Critical for Your Online Presence
Posted: 03/27/2015 by Nimesh Dinubhai

SEO has now evolved into an amalgamation of tried-and-tested SEO techniques, social media optimization and content marketing, but it doesn't mean the basics are no longer important. Keyword research is still very much the life and blood of your SEO campaign and is critical to your online presence. More than 61 percent of online users start the buying process with the help of Google – and the first thing they do is enter a keyword in the search bar.

Proving the Negative
Posted: 03/09/2015 by Michael Schubach

Remember George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign? Of course you do – Vice President Dick Vader was running the country from the White House basement while President Bush II was telling us how much safer we all were as a result of the government’s hard work. What was the self-evident evidence of our safety? We hadn’t had another September 11, so of course we were safer – what don’t you get?

It is true that reviews on TripAdvisor, OTAs and social media play a role in helping leisure travelers make a purchase decision, but a large majority of these travelers still visit the hotel website to learn more about the hotel they are going to book. This means it is important to design a convincing and effective website, but exactly what do hotel website visitors want to see in a website? Do you really understand what makes the difference between bouncing and booking for visitors to your hotel website? If you ensure that your website has the following elements it will work just fine.

This is part two of the “Flex Your Data Muscles” analytics challenge. If you are not familiar with this challenge, click here for the first article in the series. In summary, each month throughout this calendar year, you will be presented with one analytics-related challenge to tackle. The challenges, each with 2 levels (basic and advanced), will be presented and discussed via this newsletter and the Hospitality Upgrade magazine.

The Difference Between a Community and a Team
Posted: 02/18/2015 by Renie Cavallari

In technology, it is essential that teams collaborate effectively. Communication standards must be in place with projects divided up and deadlines set, and everyone must deliver on their expected results or else the entire workflow gets jammed. In the midst of a complicated project, it can be easy to forget that a single organization is made up of many teams — all essential and all working to deliver different elements adding up to a whole.

Loyalty – Do your Travel Providers Have What It Takes?
Posted: 02/10/2015 by Michael Schubach

One of the biggest hooks in travel and tourism is the loyalty program. It’s a godsend to a modern marketing department that understands that nothing fuels the love a consumer feels for the consumed like something for nothing.

The revenue management culture in a hotel is best built on exceptional interdepartmental communication. The revenue department’s drive and ownership of the message is key for the property’s revenue influencers to be well informed and make good decisions.

As is often mentioned, the hospitality industry is still playing catch-up when it comes to the adoption of analytics to support decision-making. Even though quite a number of hospitality organizations have made significant strides and are extensively using analytics to improve their performance, a larger proportion still remain behind the curve. Those who find themselves behind the curve may perceive the adoption of analytics to be a very daunting undertaking, and are more often than not stuck in the “how do we get started?” rut. While it is true that becoming an analytics-savvy organization is not a quick and easy thing to do, there are quite a number of relevant and less daunting analytics tasks that can be undertaken to help you explore the benefits of utilizing analytics within your organization, and also get started with your analytics endeavors.

The Distribution Landscape in 2015
Posted: 01/22/2015 by Estella Hale

The recent shifts and changes in the landscape of distribution continue to take form in 2015. With fragmented distribution, fierce competition and better-informed consumers, guest loyalty is elusive and costly. Transactions via mobile are increasing exponentially and bookings shift from what we used to know as walk-ins, to mobile app bookings with a lead time of zero.

The distribution division of Pegasus Solutions, now renamed DHISCO (an acronym for the Distribution Hospitality Intelligent Systems Company) will now operate as a stand-alone hotel distribution services company following its acquisition by H.I.G. Capital. Official announcement of the acquisition and rebranding will take place at the HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) Winter Conference in Long Beach, Calif., Jan. 13-15, 2015.

Hacking Hospitality: So Easy, a Child Could Do It
Posted: 12/19/2014 by Gary Glover

Most hotels are riddled with security gaps. But I’m a glass-half-full kinda guy. The good thing about that is the issues that plague the industry are also simple to fix.

Dear Troubled Traveler
Posted: 12/18/2014 by Michael Schubach

Early in my hospitality career (which to me is a gentler opening than “Many years ago…”) I served as an administrative assistant to a regional manager of a franchise company that operated several dozen roadside motels flagged by a famous chain. It wasn’t my first job in hospitality – I’d already been a desk clerk and night auditor for a chain of two vacation hotels on San Diego bay. But I was looking for the next rung on the ladder of advancement in hospitality and this was billed as a golden opportunity by the guy who hired me. My initial learning moment from that experience: don’t believe everything you hear in a job interview.

Establishing an impressive online presence where guests can find, review and even book a room is now as important as the bed itself. Many social media channels help create more impact on the target audience. Top social media channels include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Foursquare. Facebook is still the 'big kid on the block' with over 1.3 billion users and counting, but you can use Twitter and Foursquare for maximum gains.

Big Data Analytics Needs Big Questions
Posted: 12/02/2014 by Jian Wang

Data, by nature, represent the information about yesterday’s world. The more the data, the better we can learn about what happened. In conventional wisdom, the bigger the data, the more profitable the analytics will be. This, however, is not always true. The profitability of big data analytics is largely determined by the questions that we can ask.

Snapshots from HOSPACE 2014
Posted: 11/24/2014 by Geneva Rinehart

Yeah, Baby! Rich, Henri Roelings, Frank and Emily Wolfe have the rare opportunity to capture a moment with the famed Austin Powers.

Nomadix Sues Blueprint RF Over Gateway Patents
Posted: 11/23/2014 by Trevor Warner

Introduced in the mid ‘90s and then exploding at HITEC 2000, hotel guest networks (HSIA) became an integral part of the hotel industry. Cais Networks, Darwin, and Wayport took the industry by storm. Of course, by storm didn’t mean anyone was buying. The original business model was free with a revenue share. Some installed computers in the rooms, some just installed a network. The premise was based on take rates. While all their theories may have been on the right track, they were 10 years ahead of their time. The bottom line, customers were not buying and the bleeding edge companies crashed. More than 14 years later doesn’t seem so long ago, but HSIA has progressed light years since that first introduction.

In both 2001 and 2008, within a relatively short period of time, striking global similarities triggered two cataclysmic declines in travel demand. In the early 2000s the Internet was coming of age. During this period there was unprecedented and often irrational Internet growth. It triggered an artificial bubble of speculative economic activity that was unsustainable. The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent collapse of the first Internet economy plunged the world into a recession that within months decreased global hotel demand by more than 40 percent.

POODLE: A Major Threat or Call to Action?
Posted: 10/23/2014 by David Durko

In the fast paced world of information security it seems that exploits outpace the fix resulting in the compromise of sensitive data. Security has always been a reactive discipline but maybe that is changing.

I live and work in Indiana, a state rich with both high-tech and agribusiness, so believe me, I understand the value of silos... for farming, that is. Corporate silos are another matter entirely.

In part 1 of this three-part series, I discussed the health of the overall US hotel market specifically focusing on the group segment and the less than stellar ADR growth. In part 2, I discussed the need for and related challenges of estimating group demand in today’s current environment and the impact on pricing. If you haven’t already, you can read part 1 and part 2 now. In this third (and last) post, I will talk about how your measurement of group demand may be causing you to price group business incorrectly.

In Part 1 of this three-part series on the Changing Landscape of Group Demand Measurement, I discussed the health of the overall U.S. hotel market specifically focusing on the group segment. If you missed it, read it here. The looming problem is that group ADR growth is far below what it should be – a challenge that must ultimately be solved by the revenue and sales team responsible for an individual hotel. It’s obvious, but many times forgotten, that overall statistics are made up of each individual property and the decisions they make. Now, let’s take a look at some possible reasons for lackluster group ADR lift and what hotels can do about it.

The hotel industry had a record setting year in 2013: It was the year of most rooms sold, highest rooms revenue, highest ADR, and highest RevPAR. 2014 is shaping up to be even better: Occupancy is projected to grow between 2.1 percent to 2.6 percent, and ADR is forecasted to grow between 4.2 percent and 4.5 percent. In fact, in the United States, May 2014 RevPAR growth was a new record breaking 10 percent.

Big Data: Correlation Does Not Equal Causation
Posted: 08/28/2014 by Amy Maloney

There are many opinions on what constitutes big data, but the most widely accepted definition was coined by Doug Laney (currently with Gartner) back in 2001. His definition of big data is based on the three V’s– volume, velocity and variety.

The truth is that many of the greatest protective measures you can take to secure confidential information are also the most simple. While attacks have incrementally gained in sophistication, they often aren’t immune to being detected and stopped before the damage has been done. Yet even today, we’re still seeing that security basics are being overlooked and leading to compromises. For example, passwords are a key way to securing access to computers and your point-of-sale environment. Not changing these passwords regularly or using ones that are easily-guessed is like leaving the cash register open and one of the simplest ways for criminals to sneak into your system and access valuable customer payment information. ‘Password' is still one of the most common password used by businesses today; in 2013 two out of three breaches involved compromised credentials according to the 2014 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR).

Investing in Yourself Is the Best Investment
Posted: 08/06/2014 by Walt Grassl

Karl and Bob were good friends when they attended college. After they graduated from college, life happened and they slowly lost contact. They reconnected at their 20 year reunion. They were working for similarly sized companies, graduated with nearly identical GPAs and had the same work ethic. However, for some reason, Karl was two levels higher in his organization than Bob.

Eliminate Internet Browsing on Check-in Machines
Posted: 07/24/2014 by Gary Glover

At virtually every hotel security audit I’ve ever conducted, and at every hotel I’ve ever stayed at, front desk computers are used to both browse the Internet and accept credit card transactions. That is a serious violation of security protocol.

Post-HITEC Takeaway Tweets
Posted: 07/21/2014 by Hospitality Upgrade

HITEC is always a unique and exciting experience for both attendees and providers. We all meet so many people and see an incredible amount of new products and services, but just a few weeks post-HITEC, the takeaways can become a little fuzzy. With Hospitality Upgrade’s post-HITEC takeaway tweets we offer great reminders to clarify your notes. We asked our partners who were HITEC exhibitors to provide a recap of their HITEC exhibit in just 140 characters or less:

Segmentation is one of the most critical tasks in pricing and revenue management, yet getting it right is the most daunting task. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work with extremely talented hotel and casino-hotel revenue managers who, via extensive experience at their properties and a strong analytical skillset, are able to identify segments with impressive accuracy. For instance, they are able to deduce that guests booking between two weeks and 60 days prior to the arrival day have a distinct behavior and sensitivity than other guests. Or that groups arriving on Mondays and staying two nights should be priced differently than groups arriving on Thursdays for the same length of stay. More often than not, data analyses performed by our science team corroborate the revenue managers’ insights.

The Path to Personalization, Part 2: Digital Intelligence for Hospitality
Posted: 07/14/2014 by Kelly McGuire and Suneel Grover

As discussed in the first article in this series, in order to survive and thrive in today’s extremely competitive hospitality environment, hotels need to continue to distinguish themselves from the competition by improving the guest experience. Those companies that can take all of the Big Data about their guests and their operations, and turn it into a personalized experience that provides value both for the guest and the hotel will be the ones that win.

Move Fast and Break Things
Posted: 07/03/2014 by Geneva Rinehart

Even days after the close of #HITEC2014 in Los Angeles I’m still recounting the details of this tremendous industry event and takeaways that I will use in the workplace. My mind continues to download information, insights and new connections to my network.

A History of Gaming and Gaming Regulation
Posted: 06/22/2014 by Bill Geoghegan

Gambling in America has a long history that can be marked in three segments. Many of the original settlers brought English traditions and beliefs, while the Puritans discarded those values. As a result, the tolerance of gambling was very much a regional attitude. In New England and Pennsylvania, the Puritan values prevailed. In the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the possession of cards, dice and gaming tables was outlawed (even in private homes) as was dancing and singing. In other colonies, gambling was viewed as a harmless diversion, as long as it was for recreation and not as a trade. Professional gamblers were considered unsavory, a theme which prevailed for over two centuries.

What Is the Secret to Secret Passwords?
Posted: 06/11/2014 by Ryan Ward

Sadly, according to last year’s Data Breach Investigation Report, the hospitality industry grabbed the top spot for the most data breaches in both 2011 and 2012. Released in April, the results for 2013 show the same ranking. The industry snapshots, aimed at helping organizations understand the anatomy of a data breach and how to best provide protection, offered an in-depth view of the financial services, health care, retail and hospitality sectors. Ranking behind the retail industry is, in my opinion, embarrassing.

Be Vigilant in Your Pursuit of Payment Security
Posted: 06/03/2014 by Laura Meck

In March, Merchant Link held its first Lodging Focus Group Summit. There were 14 large and mid-sized hotel brands represented, with the goal to bring together hospitality professionals to better understand what they knew about payment security, what they were concerned about in payment security and what things will be coming that they should begin preparing for with regards to payment security. It was discovered that e-commerce and the recent reported credit card breaches were two hot topics, followed closely by integrations to alternative third-party vendor interfaces.

Forging New Guest Connections
Posted: 05/20/2014 by Eric Harte

As connected, mobile, always-on travelers become the norm, hotels and other travel providers are increasingly using wireless communications to improve services, to enhance guest satisfaction – and to drive bottom-line business performance.

Hotels’ total energy consumption costs can be 6 percent of the operating cost and utilities cost continue to rise. While energy management focuses on the amount of consumption, cogeneration allows the hotel to have greater control on the cost of consumption. While other energy-reducing technologies have produced limited results, cogeneration appears to be a technology that will meet expectations. It’s a technology that has significant corporate investment behind it so we expect to see continued research and development to improve the technology and lower its pricing.

It's an Exciting Time for New Technology Products
Posted: 04/10/2014 by Geneva Rinehart

It’s getting to be that time again – we are only weeks away from HITEC and the buzz around new technology innovation is starting. It’s an exciting time of year. This week I was approached with two very interesting and unique technologies for hotel, resorts and restaurants.

While the hotel industry is on a firm path to recovery and room demand especially for higher end hotels continuing to break records, average rates have still not recovered in real terms, suggesting that hoteliers continue to experience challenges in taking full advantage of the strong demand in many markets.

Hotel Food and Beverage: Numbers to Success
Posted: 03/17/2014 by Damian Mogavero

Food and beverage revenue can make up to 20 percent of all hotel revenue or more. That is a significant part of a hotel P&L. Recently, an increasing number of hotel executives have begun to view their full-service restaurants as a way to attract customers and drive incremental revenue for their business.

“We're deeply sorry for the inconvenience and frustration this issue has caused our guests.” Those are the words prepared by the public relations staff for the 40 million Target customers impacted by the data breach announced in December 2013. Besides having their information stolen and sold on the underground market, many of those guests found themselves with banks, credit unions, and state benefit programs closing down their cards as a result of "recent fraudulent activity occurring on customer’s compromised cards.” Those cards have been or will be reissued and the customers will not be financially liable for losses but they still have had unnecessary hassle introduced into their holidays.

Typically my messages and insights shared in Hospitality Upgrade revolve around security and ways to simplify PCI compliance. After all, I consider myself first and foremost a merchant advocate. This message is a little different; it’s more of a heads-up on a little-known PCI regulation that could cause you major problems in the near future.

The Cruise Business Marketplace of Technology Solutions and Ideas
Posted: 02/12/2014 by Cruise Shipping Miami

Contemporary cruise ships are arguably among the largest, most complex machines on earth. As passenger vessels have gotten larger, the technologies employed to operate them have grown ever more complex and integrated.

Hoteliers - Monitor Your Google+Local Pages Like an Expert
Posted: 01/25/2014 by David and John Atkins

On January 14, 2014, SearchEngineLand broke a story that the Google+Local pages for around 4,000 hotels, branded and unbranded alike, had been “hijacked” by a third party. Many of hotels in question had unverified listings on Google+Local that had been claimed by the 3rd party to steal traffic, according to Danny Sullivan, the founder of SearchEngineLand. Google has said it is aware of and addressing the issue.

With the announcement on January 15, 2014, and the news of DIRECTV dropping The Weather Channel because of a disagreement on a market-based carriage deal, our Publisher Rich Siegel sought the opportunity to explore how this would affect the hospitality industry. Rich went straight to the source and interviewed the EVP/CIO of The Weather Channel, Bryson Koehler.

As usual, I was surprised when looking back to see just how many mergers and take-overs there were last year. The biggest deal by far came right at year-end with Amadeus picking up Newmarket. This is a fascinating move; Amadeus has been working on expanding its offerings to all areas of hotel operations for some years, and this both fills major gaps in its product range and gives it a major boost in credibility outside the GDS/CRS arena. Further, while Amadeus does have capable RMS and GMS products already, it’s tempting to wonder whether it might also be hunting for similarly-renowned products in those two areas as well. IDeaS? Protel? It’s fun to speculate, but only time will tell.

Part 7 of 8 - Check back daily for each section of Jon's Technology Year in Review. (excerpt from full post - 01/09/14 Siegel Sez Newsletter)

It was interesting to see the growth in formal ties between vendors of complementary systems, especially in the reservations/distribution/revenue management area. InnLink integrated RateGain’s PriceGain rate intelligence software into its CRS, and Denihan Hospitality integrated Duetto's revenue strategy software with Sabre Hospitality's SynXis CRS. The impact of reputation management was shown by IDeaS integration of data from Brand Karma’s iO reputation analytics tool into its RMS pricing analysis, and by Genares’ partnership with TrustYou. Genares also integrated Flip.to’s social-media referral engine into its CRS

Australia-based SiteMinder had a banner year, being adopted by Silken Hotels (33 hotels), Macdonald Hotels & Resorts (45), Malmaison and Hotel du Vin (26), Secret Retreats Hotels (37), Sun International (30), Hoteles Catalonia (60) and Anantara (24).  MICROS also used Siteminder’s RDX platform as the basis for its Channel Manager in Asia Pacific.

Jon Inge's 2013 Technology Year in Review - CRS
Posted: 01/16/2014 by Jon Inge

Despite continued forecasts of their decline GDS and CRS services had a strong year. Sabre Hospitality picked up Park Hotel Group and renewed contracts with Marriott and Leonardo Hotels, Trust International gained Falkensteiner Hotels & Residences (32 properties), Indonesia’s TAUZIA (13) and Malaysia’s Hospitality Integrated Technology Sdn Bhd (5), and Pegasus added Atahotels (19), Bangkok-based Compass Hospitality (28) and India's Fortune Hotels (37). Sceptre’s Windsurfer also had a good year, attracting broughtonHOTELS’ 12 properties and being white-labeled by both MSI and

Jon Inge's 2013 Technology Year in Review - Guest Management Systems Part 3 of 8 - Check back daily for each section of Jon's Technology Year in Review. (excerpt from full post - 01/09/14 Siegel Sez Newsletter) To read part one: click here To read part two - Mobile: click here Part 3 - GMS Two interesting new developments this year were Indra’s introduction of its exceptionally capable all-in-one Travel Management Suite to the U.S. market (an SAP-based rival to Cenium) and Choice’s launch of its in-house cloud-based GMS to the worldwide market under its new SkyTouch Technology division. It’ll be interesting to see if Choice has more success with this than Starwood has had with its in-house Galaxy system, but a 5,500-strong installed base with Choice-branded properties is a great place to start. Micros continues to dominate the GMS scene with Opera, and its Opera 9 version looks set to continue that trend. To no-one’s surprise Marriott announced Opera as its standard GMS for all Marriott brands worldwide; Best Western also added it to its list of Preferred Hosted PMS Providers. Infor continued steady development of its new HMS product and added the 1,295-room Galt House Hotel to its client list. PAR Springer Miller enhanced its striking Atrio system and added a POS module; ResortSuite added a tablet-based POS to its comprehensive suite. Agilysys continued development of its second-generation new GMS for release next year while continuing to gain further casino sales for its LMS product. Northwind celebrated its 35th year in business and added many new features to its Maestro suite, including on-line booking of guest activities and mobile BI functionality. RSI International’s Roomkey received a major boost when Magnuson Hotels named it as the exclusive recommended GMS for its 2,000 independent North American hotels, offered at a minimal fee per occupied room-night. Hetras made a good comeback this year after its recent rewrite and attracted a steady stream of new clients, including independents Hotel Bellevue Kärnten Seeboden (Austria), Stare Miasto (Krakow, Poland) and the Prinz Hotel (Munich), and the first properties of start-up chains Glow, Ruby Hotels, Aducco Hotels, OKKO Hotels and Scandic’s new HTL brand. To read part one: click here To read part two - Mobile: click here Jon Inge's 2013 Technology Year in Review - Guest Management Systems By: Jon Inge Date: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Keywords: Jon Inge, Hospitality Technology, Guest Management Systems for hotel, GMS, Indra, Choice, SkyTouch, Galaxy, Micros, Infor, Marriott, Best Western, Galt House, PAR Springer-Miller, Atrio, ResortSuite, Agilysys, Northwind, RoomKey, Magnuson Hotels, Hetras

The sound and fury surrounding “mobile everywhere” has signified nothing much more than a flurry of apps spreading existing functionality across more convenient devices, putting even more strain on overloaded WiFi networks.

Jon Inge's 2013 Technology Year in Review
Posted: 01/10/2014 by Jon Inge

It’s been an odd year. Apart from Indra’s bringing its successful and comprehensive TMS system to the US market and Choice launching its proprietary GMS onto the open market under the SkyTouch name, no major new systems have appeared. The sound and fury surrounding “mobile everywhere” has signified nothing much more than a flurry of apps spreading existing functionality across more convenient devices, putting even more strain on overloaded WiFi networks. There have certainly been many interesting developments across the board, but these have tended to be incremental rather than game-changing. Probably the biggest news of the year was Amadeus’ takeover of Newmarket, which may indicate a potential shake up in the established order of vendors, and this is discussed more below.

After hours of traveling, you finally arrive at your destination for the holidays, ready for some well-deserved R & R. However, instead of handing your luggage to the porter and grabbing a key from the concierge, you walk into the lobby and see a long line of hotel guests waiting to check in. Frustrated by the prospect of waiting in yet another line, you wonder, “Isn’t there a better way to manage the check-in process so I can get my vacation started sooner?” The answer is yes, and the solution is simple. In fact, it can probably be found in your pocket, purse or suitcase: a mobile device.

The Power of the Negative Review
Posted: 12/18/2013 by Kelly McGuire

The hotel marketplace is rapidly evolving from price transparency, where the advent of the OTAs suddenly allowed consumers to easily compare all room rates in a market, to value transparency, where, along with price, consumers have ready access to user experiences with hotel stays in the form of reviews, ratings, rankings and images. As this transition unfolds, nearly every hotel revenue manager I’ve spoken with in the last couple of years (and there have been many) has (smartly) asked some version of the same question: How should all of this user generated content impact pricing decisions for my hotel?

PCI: “Not All Tokens Reduce Scope”
Posted: 12/06/2013 by J. David Oder

PCI DSS 3.0 was just released and hoteliers around the globe are scrambling to determine what the new requirements are and what changes they need to make to stay (or become) compliant. While there are some significant changes in 3.0, I fear that many are overlooking a much larger change that they will have to make as the PCI Council implements its new standard for tokenization in the coming year.

In the past, implementing a digital signage solution was either a financial (what are my current cost for graphic, print and installation), and/or a marketing decision (what opportunities am I missing by not having a dynamic digital infrastructure.) However, if you have not yet adapted and are still trying to determine if you should go digital, know that bus has already left the station. While you’d be late to the table, admittedly you have missed the growing pains of early adoption, including the initial high cost of investing in a system that didn’t fit your business needs or selling your soul to a vendor that is no longer around.

Online Privacy Policies - The Report Card is In and It's Not So Good
Posted: 11/22/2013 by Scott Warner and Colleen Hannigan

Corporations like Google and Facebook collect incredible amounts of information about their users,1 and this summer saw confirmation of widespread surveillance of private citizens by the U.S. National Security Administration. Between government and corporate information collection, privacy experts have gone so far as to say that privacy on the Internet no longer exists. As data collection has become ubiquitous online, privacy regulators and other enforcement authorities such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have become more interested in reviewing websites' and Web applications' privacy policies. These authorities require or strongly encourage, depending on the jurisdiction, website and app operators adopt and publish privacy policies that inform users of the information they collect and how they use it. Indeed, California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law new provisions of California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA), which require website operators and online services to notify users whether other parties may collect information across different websites and disclose how they respond to Web browser do not track signals.2 Given the increased scrutiny being given to privacy policies and the size of the penalties levied for not complying with applicable laws in this area,3 it is surprising that so many websites and apps have inadequate policies or none at all.

Google’s latest release codenamed “Hummingbird” drives specific implications for SEO, marketing, technology and content efforts. In the next print edition of Hospitality Upgrade, we will delve deeper.

When compared to competitors, companies that can achieve the digirati level of digital maturity are driving 10 percent more revenue, are 26 percent more profitable, and have a 12 percent higher market value.

Hotels are a business, and as such need to make money to stay in business. Hospitality is the art of the hotel business. Once the business was all about getting heads in beds, and driving customer satisfaction and loyalty by providing the best accommodations for the price, today the business is different. Today, hospitality is all about the customer experience; it is not sufficient to merely offer the same quality of stay at a similar price.

When a new child is coming into this world the endearing couple is anxiously awaiting the special delivery and wonder if they are prepared. Most couple research extensively to prepare for the event. Similar to this rite of passage, the hospitality industry is awaiting a delivery of a darker kind and one that each professional should be anxiously monitoring.

Mobile: Where do we go from here?
Posted: 11/06/2013 by Greg Webb

As a father of three Generation Z’ers, I’m able to watch first-hand the impact mobile technology has on their life. If their smartphone, tablet or high-speed internet is unavailable, it’s downright catastrophic. Unfortunately I can’t say much, because I’m the same way. Look around the office, the mall, even schools…it’s apparent we are a mobile society with digital-connectivity engrained in our DNA.

Rainmaker Honored in Georgia Fast 40
Posted: 11/06/2013 by Kylie McKlveen

Over the phone, Tammy Farley, president of The Rainmaker Group, seemed cool and confident and completely modest about her recent achievements. Congratulations were in order for the company’s honor in the Georgia Fast 40, and as she politely accepted, she pointed the credit to her colleagues and also to the industries The Rainmaker Group works within.

Automatic Tipping Faces Uncertain Future
Posted: 10/31/2013 by John Riccione

Tipping is a practice that varies from culture to culture. In many countries, tipping isn’t expected and in some cases, it is not even allowed. However, in America, servers and bartenders rely on tips for their economic survival. And, Americans are quite generous when it comes to their tipping practices. According to recent statistics released in The Wall Street Journal, the average American tips around 19.1% when dining out, a number that has increased steadily over the years.