â€œIf itâ€™s one call from a regular guest who has to cancel at the last minute because of extenuating circumstances, thatâ€™s not a problem,â€ Rauch said. â€œOur goal is to protect and grow our revenue. But at the same time, we have no desire to have guests hate us. The last thing we want is for someone to badmouth us on social media because of how we handled their cancellation.â€
With last-minute cancellations having the potential to wreak havoc in the revenue management arena, hoteliers from Los Angeles to London are opting for a range of solutions that include tightening the rules on refundable bookings and turning to more sophisticated algorithms to forecast.
Last-minute cancellations have been on the rise in recent years amid an emergence of online tools and platforms that make it easier for consumers to shop and compare hotels, explained Bjorn Hanson, a hospital industry expert and professor with the New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism.
â€œItâ€™s an increasing problem that needs to be addressed,â€ he said.
â€œPeople are always looking for a better deal, and most cancellations happen when they see another hotel lowering their rate,â€ said Jamie Pena, VP of global distribution and revenue strategy for Omni Hotels & Resorts.
She and many of her fellow industry colleagues are taking action.
For more:Â http://bit.ly/1WA7So6
â€œHotels should focus on making room technology easy to understand, accessible and relevant. Do not focus the efforts only on creating â€˜funâ€™technology such as mood lighting and such. Itâ€™s important to pay attention to the devices used by guests and add tech features, which can assist in an improved hotel experience.â€
From cathode-ray tubes to flat-screen televisions to smart screens. From dial-up Web access to Wi-Fi.
In-room technology in hotels has evolved over the years, and it will only continue to do so. But what are the changes hoteliers can expect next? And in an industry often accused of being behind the curve when it comes to technology, what do hoteliers need to keep top of mind to add to the guestroom experience?
Five leaders responded to these questions in this Hotel News Now virtual roundtable. This is what they had to say.
From where it stands today, where do you see in-room technology headed in the next few years?
|Mehul Patel, chairman and CEO of NewcrestImage
â€œTechnology, notably Bluetooth, will increasingly make rooms more â€˜openâ€™â€”both literally and virtually. For example, mobile technology will allow guests to unlock and enter their rooms. And after they are in their room, guests will open their room to the virtual world with customized entertainment content and room management. Because todayâ€™s travelers have their own mobile devices, it enables us as hoteliers to provide them with technology that makes their stay with us smarter and simplerâ€”â€˜smarterâ€™ thanks to Bluetooth and â€˜simplerâ€™ by facilitating their use of personalized content in movies, television and music.â€
|Joachim HÃ¶gefjord, managing director, and GÃ¼l Heper, commercial manager at HTL Hotels
â€œWe believe itâ€™s most important to stay relevant to the guests and their needs. In-room technology is not about filling a hotel room with all possible gadgets; it is about enhancing the guest experience and especially simplifying the stay at the hotel.â€œWe need to continue looking at existing behaviors and identify the right needs, what devices are the guests bringing with them and review how to incorporate this in the room in order to provide a better guest experience. One given area, where we already supply device independent solutions is in terms of in-room entertainment. Why equip the hotels with expensive hotel TV systems with on-demand movies when most guests today can and will be using their own devices to stream and mirror everything from movies to HBO and Netflix for free with their existing subscriptions?â€œMobile access to the room is of course also an area that will continue to develop and be more and more standardized. Today there are few hotels and chains that are fully offering this to all guests independent of distribution channel. From the start we decided that this should be one of our standard features, and already in spring of 2014 we launched our own app with mobile key.â€œOf course there is a lot of talk about in-room control systems for lighting, heating, shades, entertainment controls, etc. They might grow in the future, but at the same time it is generally a learning curve to handle them, and with guests staying in general 1.5 days in a room, it might add more complexity to your stay than added value.â€
|Bashar Wali, president of Provenance Hotels
â€œIn-room technology will focus on connectivity for the travelerâ€™s personal phone, tablets and computer. Guest-provided media will stream to TVs, USB outlets will be within an armâ€™s length away from the bed and desk in every guestroom. Personal technology has surpassed in-room hotel technology to the point of no return. With annual upgrade cycles for consumer technology devices, hotels can no longer spend enough to catch up. Hoteliers, stop implementing technology of the day and just let travelers have power outlets, free, fast Wi-Fi and access to their own media.â€
|Anna Blount, market research manager of MMGY Global
â€œWhen asked which device they are most likely to watch television or cable movies on during a hotel stay, 86% of travelers chose the in-room television, while 13% chose their personal laptop, 6% their tablet and 4% their smartphone.â€œSimilarly, 84% of travelers said they were most likely to watch pay-per-view movies on the in-room television during a hotel room stay, while 9% chose their personal laptop, 9% their tablet and 3% their smartphone. Although in-room television is still dominate, we expect usage of personal laptops and tablets to consume in-room entertainment to increase considerably over the next five years.â€
|Euan McGlashan, co-founder and managing partner of Valor Hospitality Partners
â€œTechnology will soon control the entire guestroom, and thatâ€™s a good thing. A guest will be connected to every element of the in-room experienceâ€”for example, entry locks, television, music, lighting, temperature, roomservice and in-room deliveries or servicesâ€”through simple switches, remote controls and hand-held devices, which are either theirs or provided by the hotel.â€
For more: http://bit.ly/1YzEVea
â€œWe need to embrace the technology,â€ he said. â€œWe can choose to work with them, which we didnâ€™t want to do with (online travel agencies) at one point.Letâ€™s learn from that lesson.â€Â Cox said there are obvious lessons that can be learned by how Airbnb does business.
These are happy days for the hotel industry, so why does it seem like the only thing anyone wants to talk about is the shadow cast by the black cloud of the sharing economy?
Airbnb represents a significant threat in the eyes of many hoteliers, including those who spoke at the â€œAlternate accommodations: The demand banditsâ€ panel of the 2015 Hotel Data Conference.
â€œWe definitely see Airbnb as a big threat,â€ said Kurien Jacob, chief revenue officer of Highgate Hotels. â€œWe come across that in every single meeting we have.â€
Jacob said the preponderance of Airbnb hosts in New York City, coupled with that marketâ€™s well-publicized supply issues, has worked to drive down rates.
â€œAirbnb is so well known internationally, so itâ€™s not just a problem domestically,â€ Jacob said. â€œSo weâ€™re seeing (international travelers) coming into the city and staying with Airbnb.â€
For more:Â http://bit.ly/1EWeZNz
Given that studies have shown an increase in a hotel rating can correlate to an increase in the all-important average daily rate for a property,itâ€™s no wonder why the hotel industry is trying to find ways to anticipate guestsâ€™ needs beforeÂ they have time to bring it to the attention of hotel staff.
In a busy, bustling world, noise can be a problem for both hotel guests and hoteliers.
One company, Quietyme, has set out to reduce noise and cut down disturbances with the help of advanced technology.
Quietyme â€” founded in 2012 inÂ Madison, Wisconsin â€” uses sensors to pick up the decibel levels of locations. Sensors can be placed in individual rooms and are connected via an electronic network. The sensors not only pick up the origin of high noise levels, but also indicate which particular rooms within a property are affected, based on each roomâ€™s decibel level. Reports are then sent to hotel staff either via mobile device or through the main hotel system.
Huey Zoroufy, COO of Quietyme, said the technology was originally designed for apartment managers, who used it to both monitor noise levels and curb property damage associated with high noise levels.
For more:Â http://bit.ly/1IeSGGy
â€œIn an era when the next big tech invention seems to arrive every week, we recognize that our guests require us to stay on trend,â€ Spillett says. â€œWe know that traveling can take its toll and sometimes leaves us vulnerable, without the comforts of home. These comforts increasingly fall in the technology category, so we make every effort to ensure that our guests have convenient access to the latest tech amenities and services.â€
Lodgingâ€™s current robust performance is creating a competitive environment when it comes to product freshness. The industry fundamentals have never been better, and these conditions are driving a flurry of construction projects, rebranding and conversion activity, and renovations of every scope throughout the United States.
In the last three years, an estimated 1.2 million hotel rooms have been renovated, representing more than 20 percent of the existing supply, Lodging Econometrics (LE) data reveals. According to Bruce Ford, LEâ€™s senior vice president and director of global business development, the number of renovations will likely trend downward as strong hotel operating profitability discourages owners from making rooms unavailable while being renovated. However, for those hoteliers willing to take the plunge and make some upgrades, here are some key takeaways for making the best renovation decisions for your bottom line.
For more:Â http://bit.ly/1MrH4ks
“Regardless of the content of the call, hoteliers should be ensuring that they are using automatic disclosuresâ€”in order to obtain consumer consentâ€”if using an automatic recording system. If an operator becomes the target of one of these consumer privacy class actions, taking an aggressive approach and attacking these claims as incongruent with the legislative purpose and intent behind the respective statute is a recommended.”
In the past few years, class action plaintiffs have recovered billions of dollars in punitive damages by exploiting strict liability laws that punish businesses for failing to properly notify customers when a phone call is being recorded.
Under the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act and similar state statutes, businesses including hotels are prohibited from using certain tactics when telemarketing or making calls to solicit potential guests or customers. Hotels and other businesses are precluded from making calls or using any kind of prerecorded message, unless the caller has obtained a recipientâ€™s prior express consent in writing or electronically.
Additionally, hoteliers are prohibited from making calls to residences before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m., and a future hotel guest calling to confirm a reservation also must be notified if the call is recorded. Hence, under these laws, if a hotel receptionist in Montana receives a call from a California resident to confirm a reservation but never notifies the recipient that the call is being recorded, it could result in damages ranging from $500 to $5,000 per call under federal and state laws.
This seemingly innocuous business practice of recording customer service calls without providing some variation of the oft-heard disclosure, â€œThis call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposesâ€ has the potential to financially cripple a business.
For more:Â http://bit.ly/1CBRlu6
In analyzing the searches and seizures from hotel rooms, the court recognized that whileÂ a guest is legally registered in a room, the hotel room is a temporary residence and thus, just like their primary residence, the guest is entitled to the same protections under the Fourth Amendment to their guest rooms in a hotel as they would for their primary residence.
Many municipalities have enacted ordinances that authorize local police agencies to enter a hotel during regular business hours and request an inspection of the guest register to obtain information as to who is in the hotel, when they checked in and their anticipated check out time, how long the guest has stayed in the hotel, manner of payment and private information given by the guest to the desk clerk regarding their home address, car license plate and drivers license information. The municipalities argue that such ordinances and warrantless searches are necessary to help stop prostitution and drugs or to ensure compliance with the length of time requirements for motel guests. Many hotel operators have allowed the police agencies to inspect the guest registers without objection as they did not want to be subject to arrest or citation for not complying with the police requests.
However, some managers have objected and have been convicted of failure to comply with the inspection request. They argue that the police need a warrant to search the hotel registers and further, that the ordinances are not specifically limited to time, scope and duration of the inspection allowed or an opportunity to seek judicial review of the ordinance before being subjected to arrest and conviction for refusing to comply with the police agency’s request.
For more:Â http://bit.ly/1F1pS2t
This week the news includes a warning that hackers are using third-parties to gain access to data through vulnerable systems. Also, hotels and other retailers are adopting new mobile technology for check-in. Â And finally, in an interview with Forest Key of Buuteeq, we find out why hotel marketing is flying to the cloud.
Hackers Lurking In Vents And Soda Machines
This article fromÂ The New York TimesÂ discusses how your clients could be vulnerable to cyberattacks through solutions and devices be tied to a leaky third party, such as online menus, or even heating and cooling providers who now monitor and adjust office temperatures remotely, and vending machine suppliers who can see when their clients are out of Diet Cokes and Cheetos. Vendors are tempting targets for hackers because they tend to run older systems, and once hackers have found a way in, the devices offer them a place to hide in plain sight.
For more:Â http://www.bsminfo.com/doc/restaurant-and-hospitality-news-for-vars-april-0001