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A Blog by INTELITY

At Your Service

Presenting the latest innovation and trends in hospitality technology and the products that are revolutionizing the service industry.

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3 Ways Your Hotel Can Benefit from a Mobile App

Given the worldwide increase in smartphone usage, it should come as no surprise that nearly two-thirds of travelers rely on mobile apps during trips. OTAs, rideshare companies, and airlines have embraced this trend and created seamless mobile experiences for travelers. For hotels, offering a mobile app can not only meet travelers’ technology-focused expectations but can also greatly benefit the property and its staff.

Here are three ways in which your hotel, casino, or resort can benefit from offering a mobile app experience to guests:

Streamline the check-in experience

A mobile app can dramatically streamline the check-in process and reduce the amount of time spent at the front desk. Implementing mobile check-in and mobile key solutions into your app not only increases guest satisfaction, but it also reduces front desk friction and frees up time for staff to focus on providing more personalized guest service.

By putting the power of check-in (and check-out) into guests’ hands, hoteliers can manage room inventory more effectively. By allowing guests to initiate the check-in process via their mobile app before stepping foot onto your property, room assignments and availability can be better forecasted to ensure that each guest receives their selected room preference. Inventory can also be updated in real-time as customers check out using your mobile app, allowing for more timely updates compared to physically checking rooms for occupancy.

Perhaps the most immediate benefit of implementing mobile check-in is the cost savings from plastic room key reduction. Given that the life of an average key card is just 2.5 days, digitizing your keys can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Assuming that, on average, a single room uses 292 cards per year (two cards issued per day divided by the 2.5-day lifespan of a card), a single 100-room property could save upwards of $14,600 annually in key card costs alone (assuming a $0.50 cost per card).

Create new guest communication channels

Once your mobile app is downloaded, you have a direct line of communication with your target audience before, during, and after their stay. While the guest is staying at your property, they will be able to submit service requests, receive timely notifications and messages, and submit feedback in real-time. Over 60% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a staff member — a mobile app helps to meet this expectation.

When a guest is able to submit a service request (dining, housekeeping, concierge, etc.) through their mobile app rather than over the phone or in person, a more efficient operational process is enabled. Service requests can be routed directly to the relevant department through your integrated PMS, ensuring that requests are always accurate and timely. In addition, the hotel staff can initiate communication with guests by sending relevant information through the app’s push notification feature. This keeps guests informed and happy, and can create new opportunities for ancillary revenue in the form of property-specific promotions and upselling opportunities.

Enable guest feedback and service recovery

benefits of mobile apps for hotels

One issue plaguing the hospitality industry is a lack of real-time insight into the guest experience. A mobile app allows you to capture this critical feedback by implementing surveys upon the completion of service requests. Capturing feedback from guests before they leave your property provides opportunities for real-time customer satisfaction monitoring as well as instant service recovery by proactively resolving any potential issues.

Through your app, you can also encourage guests to leave reviews on third-party sites and OTAs by sending timely push notifications and easy-to-fill forms. Capturing your audience’s attention upon a positive service experience can both prevent bad reviews and induce positive reviews. 76% of travelers say they would be willing to pay more for a hotel with higher TripAdvisor review scores; improving your third-party reviews allows you to increase your average daily rate (ADR) without sacrificing occupancy.

To learn more about how your property can benefit from introducing a guest-facing mobile app, sign up for INTELITY’s bi-weekly newsletter or contact demos@intelity.com.

Apps for Hotel Management: How to Put the Guest First

This article was originally published on Hotel Tech Report on November 20, 2019.

Guests are increasingly interested in communicating with a hotel before, during, and after their stay via mobile apps for hotel management. They’re seeking an easy avenue to check-in remotely, explore amenities, and learn more about the property and surrounding neighborhood. Hotel apps are one way hotels have successfully met this growing guest expectation.

Intelligently integrating a hotel app within the guest experience allows your property to open a clear line of communication with guests. It’s a platform through which guests can access hotel information such as room services and amenities, check-in remotely, place service requests, book a spa service, and more. Mobile hotel apps increase guest engagement and provide a new channel for upselling ancillary services, ultimately improving the guest experience when deployed correctly.

Mobile app providers like INTELITY are leading the way in providing a thoughtful, tech-enabled guest experience. Here’s what you need to know about guest mobile apps to offer a great experience at your property.

Why use mobile apps for hotel management?

Today’s guest is mobile-first, meaning hotels must find a way to provide five-star service optimized for any device. The ability to book and edit reservations, order room service, learn about amenities and check-in remotely are all features that guests expect to manage through a hotel app. Some hotels have taken it a step further to add features that engage and surprise their guests further.

The core benefits that any hotel app must provide are the ability to increase revenue with ancillary offers; real-time marketing through targeted promotions sent through the app; and the capture of data to build guest loyalty through a tailored experience. Apps like INTELITY can do much more than provide these foundational benefits.

Great hotel apps centralize a guest’s digital experience through streamlined communication and messaging. An app should integrate with your guest messaging service and PMS to provide mobile check-in and facilitate other guest requests. The ability to skip the front desk reduces wait times and lobby traffic by 20%, which makes guests happier and frees up staff. Through INTELITY, guests enjoy easy and convenient access to staff via mobile messaging, and staff are more readily available to assist via the back-end dashboard.

Guest mobile apps reduce barriers between guests and the right on-site teams to resolve any issues as they arise and ensure requests get answered quickly. INTELITY’s guest messaging connects guests directly with operations teams through SMS, as well as in-app messaging services, like Facebook Messenger. All messages get routed through the INTELITY platform to make sure there are no missed connections. Whether it’s a request for late checkout, room service, or for extra towels, an app should be able to route these communications to the right team within your property.

And, most compellingly, the right hotel app can unlock new ways to increase guest spend. Send relevant offers through the app to capitalize on guest preferences. A great example is the James Hotels app, James Pocket Assistant. The app helps guests discover and access amenities and special offers on-site. Menus and other content are updated quickly depending on what’s happening at the hotel and guest preferences.

The changing market of hotel apps

This year, the hotel app market saw three big changes: the growth of internet of things hospitality, more personalization, and the introduction of artificial intelligence in the app experience.
IoT has taken the tech world by storm, and hotel apps are not exempt, Mobile apps now allow guests to customize their in-room experience. Lucy, the smartphone app of Virgin Hotels, has multiple features that allow guests to interact with the room. Lucy gives guests the power to adjust the room temperature, stream personal content to their room’s TV, and turn their smartphone into a remote.

Personalization options continue with the ability to map data across multiple guest touchpoints. Hotel apps can utilize smart learning mechanisms to personalize guests’ needs throughout their stay.

It’s important that any hotel app platform you decide to implement has an easy to use content management system so that you can make regular updates without contacting your vendor.  INTELITY’s content management solution, for example, enables your team to update availability across food and beverage operations on-the-fly. Management can sync changes immediately across all channels: web app, in-room tablet, and mobile app, as well as send through discounts and promos in real-time.

And, lastly, artificial intelligence will be able to dissect and analyze guest interactions, behaviors, context and language to intelligently respond and provide a more personalized method of communication. Voice activation has become more common in consumer’s homes, and hotel rooms are likely to follow suit. Voice technology offers access to instant information about your hotel and the surrounding area, as well as answers to common questions that create a backlog at the front desk.

Next year, we predict more apps to enter the market, making it vital that hotel owners consider how their app will add unique value to the guest experience. The market will consolidate, as we’ve already seen with major players like Aimbridge and Interstate merging. And, the use of mobile keys will continue to drive app adoption – Hilton guests downloaded 7.6 million mobile keys through the app in 2018.

What should hoteliers look for in an app vendor?

An app needs to provide a holistic experience at the guest’s fingertips. Here are some of the key features your app must include:

  • Mobile check-in: offer a frictionless way to skip the front desk while driving more revenue.
  • Mobile key: keyless entry leads to an average increase of 7% in guest satisfaction scores.
  • Guest messaging: SMS, Facebook Messenger, or and in-app messages to connect guests directly with your staff
  • Room service ordering: automate service request delivery, track order status, track request fulfillment time, and generate data
  • Loyalty program integrations: encourage increased engagement within your app between stays
  • Local services and content: recommend local services and POIs to market your location and help guests maximize their stay
  • Requests and ticket management: guests can make bookings with the concierge, arrange transportation or request more towels right from your hotel app
  • Room automation: control the lights, TV, AC and drapes right from your phone

Broadly, your app must integrate with your PMS, IoT provider, and service optimization software. Your property management system should be equipped relay guest info to and from the app easily and allow for guests to check-in from their phone. Integrate the app capabilities with in-room technology to control features (lights, thermostat, etc.). And make sure you control traffic with a service optimization provider that can communicate guest requests efficiently and seamlessly to your staff.

Questions to ask hotel app providers

There are more app vendors entering the market each day. Learn more about what each provider offers and make sure they can answer these three questions:

  1. Do you build that can integrate with my hotel brand app? Hotel brands need access to a complete SDK to make app functionality live within their branded app.
  2. Does your app include mobile key? Mobile key is one of the most in-demand features of a hotel app. Make sure the app integrates with many industry-wide lock vendors and hardware partners to provide a seamless experience.
  3. Does your app integrate with my existing loyalty program? Integrate your loyalty program to drive higher ROI by encouraging loyalty members to download the application. Serve more targeted offerings to increase revenue uptake and remove friction between guests and their desired on-property services.

Find out what other hoteliers are saying about mobile apps and learn more about pricing in Hotel Tech Report’s 2020 Hotel App Buyers Guide.

The Future of Hospitality: Giving Guests Control Over Their Stay

How the tech-forward brand, YOTEL, is crafting a first-class guest experience

Lodging Leaders recently published a podcast showcasing the innovative YOTEL brand, its ambitious plans to grow and scale, and its tech-forward approach to guest service. The podcast features YOTEL CEO Hubert Viriot and INTELITY Chief Technology Officer Christoper Grey, who weighed in on INTELITY’s partnership with the brand and how YOTEL is leading the future of tech in the hospitality sector. Here’s a quick recap…

In April, INTELITY and YOTEL announced that they’d partnered to develop and launch a custom brand app for YOTEL’s expansive portfolio of properties. This next-generation app, scheduled to launch early 2020, is designed to give guests complete control over their experience with the brand- before, during, and after their stay. “We want customers to download the app, retrieve their reservation, decide when they want to check-in and check-out, download their [mobile] keys, control in-room amenities…control their entire stay through their own smartphone,” said YOTEL CEO Hubert Viriot.

“YOTEL is one of my favorite customers as a technologist because they’re extremely tech-forward,” said Christopher Grey INTELITY CTO. “That [tech-forward thinking] gives us a lot of latitudes as we work together as partners for ways that we can use technology to better the guest experience.”

Technology is at the center of YOTEL. The hotel brand was one of the first to introduce free broadband internet across its properties and an early adopter of kiosk check-in. Viriot said he has always “considered tech a key element of [the brand’s] DNA and a brand differentiator compared to traditional hotels.”

“That’s one of the reasons YOTEL selected INTELITY and brought us into this engagement,” said Grey. “They know how tech-forward they are and they know they have to meet the needs of their guests… we’re helping them get to their next milestone.” YOTEL continues to look to tech to facilitate and elevate the guest experience as it prepares to launch its new brand app.

The new mobile app will feature mobile check-in and mobile key functionalities, provide guests with a direct digital connection to hotel staff, allow guests to place dining orders and control room environment, and give guests access to information about the hotel and surrounding area.

By automating aspects of the check-in process and providing immediately accessible information about the hotel, local area, and, in some cases, the airport, the mobile app streamlines operations so that staff can spend less time focused on tedious tasks and more time elevating guest service. As Lodging Leaders’ founder and host, Jonathan Albano pointed out, “The ultimate goal [of the app] is to give guests control of their stay and give YOTEL employees the opportunity to focus on guest service. The interaction between YOTEL crew members and the customers should be less transactional and more social.”

As the brand prepares to launch the app, they’re focused on training their staff to use and leverage the new tech to enhance the guest experience and improve satisfaction. Grey emphasizes the importance of staff understanding and adopting the tech, “It’s not good enough just to have the technology if the staff doesn’t know how to use it or if they use it poorly…If you don’t have staff adoption and your guests are trying to use it, then that creates a nightmare for everybody.”

How YOTEL is Driving the Future of Hospitality with Mobile App

An example that Grey called out is the free form chat function, which will exist in YOTEL’s new brand app. “Modern guests don’t want to fill out a specific request. They just want to open a chat window and say ‘I need more towels’…and that message has to go somewhere…somebody has to see the message, they have to be able to respond to it, track it, and be alerted if it hasn’t been addressed in a certain amount of time. Those are all the staff concerns from the other side of the equation that the INTELITY platform does a great job in handling.”

By properly training staff to optimize their tech, streamlining processes through automation, and placing the guests in complete control of their stay, YOTEL is pushing hospitality into the future.

To stay up to date with the latest industry news and for more information on INTELITY, subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter. To listen to the full podcast, please visit the Lodging Leaders website.

“Alexa, Connect Me to My Guests.”

Why Hoteliers Should Be Using Voice Technology to Engage Their Guests

Imagine going on vacation and having a personal assistant at your beck and call. With the rising adoption of voice technology in America, where usage among adults increased from 43 percent in 2017 to 53 percent in 2018, this is becoming more and more possible.

The hospitality industry is gradually adopting voice technology, too. Virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa have crossed over to the hotel business, making guest rooms smarter and more advanced than ever. But aside from the futuristic feel of the technology, perhaps its biggest benefit is enhancing the customer experience by offering hands-free assistance and personalization.

Hands-free assistance
When asked what they would like voice assistants to be capable of, guests’ top response was adjusting in-room settings and climate. Voice-activated hotel rooms can give your guests the ability to adjust room temperature, lighting, and ambiance to their liking through simple commands. This feature is already made available by Alexa and streamlines your guests’ experience in their guest room.

Unlike doing a manual web search, voice assistants also provide instant answers. For example, a quick voice search can give guests information about the local area or recommendations for dining options. What this does is provide a better travel experience, which guests can easily attribute to their hotel stay.

Personalization
According to MarTech Today, 81% of consumers “want brands to understand them better.” In other words, there is a need for personalization when thinking about customer experience as a whole. Voice technology naturally adds a level of personalization that doesn’t exist with other virtual tools, because requests are spoken rather than input into a device. This extra layer of personalization, combined with voice technology’s ease of use, leads to greater guest engagement and higher levels of satisfaction.

Personalization makes consumers feel special and more importantly, increases their brand loyalty. Moreover, voice technology can tailor the guest experience specifically to your guests’ needs. If they leave happy and are well taken care of, there’s a higher chance your guests will return and recommend the hotel to their friends, family and work colleagues.

To learn more about how voice technology can improve guest engagement at your property, schedule a demo with the experts at INTELITY.

How Do I Connect With Connected Guests?

What to do when your guests are more engaged with their phones than your staff

Today’s guests are more connected than ever; they use their mobile devices to research, book, and even get to their destination. The modern guest also relies heavily on the internet, social review networks, and apps throughout their travels. In recent years, the travel industry has shifted to focus on better serving the connection needs of digital-first travelers.

Airlines were quick to adopt technology and ride-share businesses like Uber and Lyft implemented technology that is designed to streamline and simplify. While these airlines and car services once required staff interaction to function, consumers are now using online and app solutions to search, book, pay for, and review a trip. From the almost fully-automated check-in process at the airport to the seamless rideshare exchange, staff involvement acts as a complement to streamline customer experience-until guests reach their hotel.

Consumers who are empowered in other sectors of the travel industry often find themselves waiting in line at a hotel to check-in and receive room keys. At many properties, most service requests still require a visit or call to the front desk, including spa or dining reservations and room service, which often results in the guest being placed on hold or having to wait for confirmation. Yet studies show that 66% of guests have a better experience when they can use self-service technology to receive information and complete tasks, and an impressive 70% prefer to use technology to get what they want faster.

In today’s competitive market, creating a frictionless experience is one of the keys to client satisfaction and loyalty. Here are four ways you can use automation to better serve your connected guests.

Mobile Apps

Having your own branded app empowers your guests to control their experience before, during, and after their stay. Mobile check-in and mobile key features can be incorporated into your app, giving guests the ability to bypass the front desk and head straight to their room. Apps can also create revenue-generating and up-selling opportunities like room upgrades, the addition of dessert to an in-room dining check, and much more.

In-Room Tablets

Interactive in-room tablets can replace printed compendiums, alarm clocks, and other “clutter,” which offers more cost savings. What once took a phone call or a visit to the front desk is now at your guests’ fingertips, including ordering room service, requesting additional items from housekeeping, booking reservations at onsite restaurants, spas and more.

In-Room Casting

This TV-package alternative reduces the need to scroll through endless commercials found on real-time TV and local news stations (which often are irrelevant to your guests) and places the guests in charge of their entertainment by providing access to their favorite streaming service. With Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and more, endless entertainment is in the hands of your guests. At the same time, pay-per-view and satellite subscription expenses can be eliminated.

Guest Messaging

Real-time messaging is an effective way for guests to provide feedback and communicate seamlessly with your staff both on and off-property. Even escalated concerns are quickly addressed, reducing guest frustration and potentially negative reviews after a stay.

As the prevalence of technology increases in the industry, hoteliers are right to consider ways to stay ahead of the competition. Creating a seamless experience, from check-in to check-out, is the best way to exceed the expectation, elevate the guest experience, and provide the service the connected traveler craves.

To learn more about how to better serve the connected traveler and stay up-to-date on the latest industry news, sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter or schedule a demo with our team.

Is Your Hotel Ready for a Guest Experience Upgrade?

4 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Guest Experience Platform for Your Property

The MIT Sloan Management Review said it best, “Doing business digitally isn’t an ‘add technology and stir’ proposition.”  When choosing a hospitality technology platform to streamline your operations and bridge the connection between your guests and staff, it’s important to keep your end goal in mind.

You’ll need to consider where you want to be in several years and select the right tech that will help you future-proof your hotel. Selecting piecemeal one-point solutions at random or because they are the newest thing on the market can negatively impact the overall performance of your tech and become a burden for your IT staff to manage. Choosing and implementing solutions that integrate seamlessly with your existing tech is an essential part of the process.

To help you navigate through the sea of solutions out there, here are some questions to help you through the process:

Does it improve your guest experience and increase guest loyalty?

Your biggest goal, whether you are discussing back-of-house or guest-facing technology, should always be to improve the guest experience. The better the experience, the more likely guests will become loyal to your brand. Customer loyalty equates to an increase in revenue, both due to repeat guests and from guests sharing their positive experiences with their friends and social networks. According to a recent study performed by Brand Keys, a 7 percent increase in loyalty can boost lifetime profits per customer by as much as 85 percent, and a 3 percent increase in loyalty can lead to a 10 percent cost reduction.

Does it help you easily communicate with your guests?

Leverage solutions that streamline your guests’ experience with your property and make it easy for them to contact and communicate with your staff before, during, and after their stay. According to Travelport, 51 percent of travelers expect to communicate via text or messenger. Mobile and in-room technology give guests an easy way to make requests, place orders, make reservations or access information about your property, all without picking up a phone. It’s an elevated level of convenience and an opportunity for staff to manage requests effectively, delivering a better experience overall.

does your guest experience platform need an upgrade?

Can you access data that you can actually use?

Use data to make your staff more efficient and provide better guest service. Using the data generated by your tech platforms, you and your staff can make smarter business decisions, improve overall efficiency, and better manage your workflow and schedules. Use your data to anticipate guest needs, personalize experiences and exceed expectations!

Does it create a complete digital experience?

Your guests are booking online, using rideshares like Uber & Lyft, and getting through the airport with digital boarding passes. You need to give them the same experience when they get to your property. Give them access to check themselves in remotely, open their door using their mobile key, control their in-room environment, and easily stream content from their own Netflix account, all through one end-to-end platform. Not only will your guests consider yours a sophisticated property, but creating this kind of “tech ambiance” will appeal to digital natives and build more brand loyalty.

The right tech platform helps hoteliers to provide consistent, excellent service, which in turn creates brand loyalty amongst your guests. When satisfied customers become loyal and repeat visitors, it can drive increased revenue for your property. Bottom line: Delight your customers, and they will return!

With over 120 integrations across PMS, POS, room controls, locks and content providers, there is no other platform more built for seamless integration and implementation. To find out how to upgrade your guest experience today, Schedule a demo, sign up for our newsletter, or email us at demos@intelity.com.

How to Use In-Room Tablets to Increase Retail Revenue

If you haven’t made a digital retail store readily available to your guests, you’re leaving money on the table. Don’t underestimate the possibilities of retail to generate incremental revenue for your property. 96 percent of all Americans have purchased goods online – 80 percent within the last month. E-commerce accounted for about $2.3 trillion in sales in 2017, and it’s projected to hit $4.5 trillion in 2021.

We had this in mind when we designed INTELITY’s retail app, which is included on our in-room tablets and our mobile guest app. Hotels, casinos, and other properties use it to create a customized, digital storefront that offers items from the gift shop or spa as well as other personalized merchandise. It can even be used to sell art pieces on display at your property, high-end cosmetics used in your spa, or in-room furnishings such as pillows and bedding used in your guestrooms.

Guests who are already using the in-room tablet or mobile app to order room service, request services, and control the TV can now see your property’s specially selected items nicely presented for purchase, as well. It is easy for them to add items to their cart, complete the purchase, and view and select tracking and shipping information.

On the property’s side, it is straightforward for staff to add and manage inventory, set availability, hide or reveal items as appropriate, and use promotions and push messages to create awareness. Orders go through INTELITY Staff, which makes it easy to ship an item to the guest’s home or deliver it to the room. Charges automatically go onto the guest’s folio.

Our retail app is just one more good reason to equip your guest rooms with in-room tablets. In-room tablets can be used to promote upgrades and upsell opportunities, including special offers, discounts, a room upgrade or spa treatments. These are offers that guests might be more inclined to accept from the calm and privacy of their room that they otherwise may forgo or not know about.

In addition to guests learning more about your facilities and offerings, and ordering room service around the clock – hotels with customized apps report a 41 percent increase in room service revenue – they can also control the room environment and the TV, make reservations on-site and off property, engage with entertainment and news apps, submit other service requests, and make purchases.

For more information on how you can increase your revenue through e-commerce, contact INTELITY to schedule a demo with a member of our team.

Extending the Reach of Your Casino Floor to Your Guest Rooms

How to Use In-Room Tablets to Engage Guests in Their Rooms

In-room tablets can be game-changers, so to speak, for casino resorts. In addition to guests being able to use in-room tablets for all the more familiar uses—such as requesting services, making reservations, and communicating directly with staff, as they would at any hotel—casino hotels have the added advantage of a fresh, new way to promote gaming, and special events directly to guests while they are most captive.

Operators can easily use in-room tablets to send special offers, targeted promotions, and casino floor updates in real-time when their guests are most engaged. Depending on where the property is located, some guests can even use in-room technology to gamble right from their room as some casino hotels now offer sports and other types of betting through in-room tablets or a mobile app.

One way they do this is by adding popular gaming apps to the in-room tablets and information and tips on how to play some of the more popular casino floor games. At some casino hotels, guests can also use tablets to get real-time keno and bingo results in their room, as well as to see who won daily drawings and receive real-time jackpot notifications. Using in-room technology in this manner means guests don’t have to worry about missing out on the excitement of the casino floor while in their rooms.

extending the reach of your casino floor with in-room tablets

Today’s core casino customers are generally between 55 and 75 years old and increasingly comfortable using digital devices, including in-room tablets and mobile apps, which makes adding gaming to digital devices a logical, and smart, next step. Also, once they arrive in their room and find the mobile app and in-room tablet integrated with the property’s loyalty program, they are apt to take advantage of customized and targeted promotions and other offers that encourage them to visit the casino floor.

Ultimately, casino guests are eager to spend their time gaming — not standing in lines — so a streamlined mobile check-in process means more time they can spend on the casino floor, or using the custom-branded in-room tablet for gaming while they are in their room.

INTELITY® is the provider of the most robust guest engagement and staff management platform in hospitality. The platform features multiple customizable solutions designed to help operations optimize staff efficiencies, increase revenue opportunities, and further delight their guests.

A variety of casino properties, from the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas to smaller tribal casino properties, like Angel of the Winds and Black Oak Casino, now use the INTELITY platform, and 7 Cedars also plans to implement the INTELITY platform at its new hotel scheduled to open in the summer of 2020. To learn more about how you can extend the reach of your casino floor with hospitality technology, schedule a demo with INTELITY today.

3 Benefits of Using Mobile Key at Your Property

Mobile phones are practically universal these days with 77 percent of U.S. adults having a smartphone. Globally, 2.71 billion people use smartphones – about a third of the world’s population.

It’s no surprise that hotels, casinos, and luxury residential properties are starting to implement mobile key technology into their operations. Also known as a digital key, mobile key allows guests to unlock a door using an app on their smartphone, which is significantly more convenient and efficient than using a plastic room key.

When Travelport surveyed 16,000 travelers from 25 countries for its 2018 Digital Traveler Survey, it found that 50 percent of business travelers want to use a mobile key to unlock their guest room door.

So, why should your property convert to mobile key access? The answer is simple, incorporating this technology streamlines your check-in process, enhances the guest experience, and gives your property a competitive edge.

three benefits of incorporating mobile key technology at your hotel

Enhancing the guest experience

Mobile key technology makes it easier for a hotel, casino, or luxury residential property to manage guest needs better and can increase guest satisfaction by at least seven percent. Keyless entry, when combined with mobile check-in, gives guests the ability to skip the front desk and go straight to their guest rooms, which reduces check-in times and front desk friction.

By offering mobile key technology, properties can reduce the amount of time front desk staff must spend checking in guests and refocus that attention on providing more personalized guest service. Mobile key use also means employees do not have to physically replace lost keys, which increases efficiency.

Increased security

Not only does it increase guest satisfaction and give your guests the convenience of skipping the front desk, but mobile key technology can offer your guests increased security and reduce the risk of a lost or stolen room key.

Digital key technology eliminates the risk that comes with marking a plastic key card with a name, contact information, or a room number before handing it to a guest. If a plastic room key is lost that sensitive information can fall into the wrong hands, but a mobile key located on the guest’s own smartphone removes that possibility.

When a hotel or casino uses mobile key technology, they assign a key directly to each guest and any appropriate friends or family members. This process provides an added layer of security that lets the property better manage who has access to its building – one that isn’t possible when you merely hand out room keys that can be passed along.

Another layer of security with a mobile key is that guests must enter their phone’s password or use Touch or Face ID to access their key, meaning someone else cannot easily use it to gain entry.

If someone does misplace their phone, and therefore key, existing technology can help them find it fairly easily. Using the “Find My Phone” app or similar helps identify a missing phone’s location, whereas there is no such technology to find a lost key or keycard.

Hotel guests prefer mobile key technology

The modern traveler is looking for a digital-first experience. A recent study revealed that 76 percent of travelers said their smartphone is their most important travel companion.  Airlines have already adapted to this expectation by offering mobile boarding passes and mobile check-in through their own apps. Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft give travelers the ability to request and track their ride via their mobile device.

Hotels can meet this need by providing mobile check-in and mobile key technology, which give guests the convenience of a digital-first experience that other sectors of the travel industry offer. Studies show that two-thirds of travelers want to use their mobile device as their room key and 46 percent of guests say mobile key is an important feature for them.

Because people keep their smartphones nearby at all times, a mobile key gives travelers one less thing to keep track of. Guests may forget to bring a plastic room key with them, but they are less likely to forget to bring their phone, which also reduces the chance of locking themselves out.

Converting to mobile key at your property not only allows guests quicker and easier check-in and access to their room, but it also means more efficiency for your staff.

Interested in learning more about implementing mobile key at your property? Contact the hospitality technology experts at INTELITY® to schedule a demo.

4 Ways Hoteliers Can Use Tech to Streamline Daily Operations and Elevate Guest Experience

Providing an exceptional guest experience is paramount to any hotelier, but the modern traveler’s desire for a highly personalized digital interaction has created a challenge. Implementing a tech platform that streamlines daily operations, staff workflows, and offers expanded communication tools will lead to elevated guest service, and free up staff time so they can focus on crafting those exact experiences guests crave.

Here are four ways technology can be used to increase operational efficiency:

1. Streamline Daily Workflows

Incorporating a service optimization solution, such as a ticketing system, can go a long way in streamlining your staff’s daily activities and decreasing service delivery times. Using a ticketing system gives management and operations teams the ability to track, organize, and manage daily tasks and guest requests for more efficient management.

INTELITY’s newly enhanced ticketing system was crafted with hospitality operations teams in mind. Features like preventative maintenance, service recovery, and work order checklists give staff the ability to organize, track, and manage workflows and tasks while giving management teams a comprehensive view of all activity on property. The ticketing system also includes real-time escalations and notifications, so that service delivery times are reduced and the guest experience is elevated.

2. Access Real-Time Content Updates

Gone are the days where you have to spend countless hours reviewing and editing printing proofs only to update the content and go through the same process all over again a few months down the road. Using technology like mobile apps and in-room tablets, hoteliers can replace printed collateral and in-room compendiums with digital content hosted through those platforms.

At INTELITY, we’ve created a robust back-office solution that includes a comprehensive content management system that gives operations teams the ability to easily make real-time updates to their digital content across property.

3. Make Better Business Decisions

Hoteliers can use the data generated by their tech stack to make smarter business decisions and streamline their revenue dispersion. In-room tablets can lead to data that indicates which spa services are most popular at specific times, which in-room dining menu items are most popular during certain months, which items are requested most frequently from housekeeping, and much more. By using this type of data, management teams can gain further insight into what their guests want and how to best meet those needs.

INTELITY’s platform features robust business intelligence analytics to give hoteliers a complete view of activity across their property and provide rich insight into guest preference.

4. Personalize Your Guest Service

Today’s guests are looking for highly personalized service that is tailored to their unique preferences. Technology has made it easier to provide this type of custom service at scale. Using the data generated by guests’ reservations, stated preferences, and interactions with in-room devices, like in-room tablets and mobile apps, hoteliers can elevate their guest service and meet their guests’ expectations.

INTELITY’s back-end dashboard gives hoteliers snapshot of guests’ preferences and expectations in a single location. This unique feature provides operations teams with the information they need to craft the hyper-personalized experiences the modern traveler craves.

4 Ways INTELITY Staff Better Engages Your Employees

In an age when travelers expect instant service and immediate access to information, hoteliers must embrace technology that streamlines staff management and automates daily workflows so they can provide the best possible experience for their guests.

Staff management and service optimization tools provide solutions to common pain points. This type of technology seamlessly connects staff and guests, streamlines operational workflows, gives management teams the ability to monitor and track task status in real time, schedules and tracks preventative maintenance, and provides a dashboard of data-rich analytics that can guide and advise better business decisions. Giving employees the ability to streamline day-to-day operations and optimize their efficiency means they’ll be able to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time providing guests with elevated service.

INTELITY has created a robust staff management solution, INTELITY Staff, that can help you better engage your staff, streamline your operations, and increase your efficiencies across property. Using technology that engages your staff, streamlines their daily workflow, and integrates seamlessly into the other software systems has endless benefits. You’ll experience lower turnover, increased staff satisfaction, and improved guest service.

Here are some of the unique benefits INTELITY Staff offers hoteliers:

Guest-to-Staff and Staff-to-Staff Communication

INTELITY’s staff-facing tools allow employees to communicate better not only amongst themselves but also with guests. When it’s easier for staff and guests to converse, there is a better understanding of what guests want and less risk of human error in fulfilling requests.

INTELITY’s staff management platform also includes built-in escalation notifications to help with service recovery and enables properties to gather real-time feedback on guest satisfaction. The platform even monitors all in-room tablets from one centralized hub, performing automated software installations and upgrades and restarting them remotely, so devices are always up-to-date without disrupting your guests’ stay.

Cross-Department Workflow Management

The INTELITY Staff ticketing solution means you’ll never have to worry about a lost service request, work order, or in-room dining request. Because INTELITY Staff features a central location where management and staff can manage, track, and dispatch task-based work, and because both desktop and mobile versions sync their data, operations teams across property have access to real-time updates and notifications.

Properties can manage work orders, service recovery, preventative maintenance, service requests, and dining orders through INTELITY Staff’s comprehensive ticketing solution, which also integrates with other leading hospitality ticketing systems.

Generating In-Room Dining Revenue

Staff can use INTELITY’s food and beverage solutions to better manage in-room dining orders, reduce the risk of human error that comes with manual order-taking, and create additional revenue generating opportunities by utilizing built-in upselling and cross-selling features. Staff can also route and track orders while providing guests with status updates, as well as track order fulfillment times and sales revenue.

Digital Content Management  (CMS)

Hotels control all their own content through INTELITY Staff’s content management solution, a welcome upgrade from reviewing printing proofs and paying associated printing costs. It makes for simple control of your content and quick, easy updates. The software also lets you control services, permissions, user roles, and your image and video library.

Overall, significant data is available on usage, dining revenue, marketing, performance, and other efficiencies. This information is gathered and monitored in a customizable dashboard and helps a property deliver an exceptional guest experience and make better business decisions.

Engage Your Employees with INTELITY Staff

Implementing and establishing a successful digital culture begins with giving your employees the tools they need to succeed by training them on the technologies implemented at your property. Ensuring your employees are digitally literate and able to use the tools provided to them sets your staff and your property up for success.

To learn more about how INTELITY Staff can help engage your employees or to experience the platform for yourself, schedule a demo with a member of our team today!

How Hotels Are Using Technology to Gain a Competitive Advantage

Contributed by Kacey Bradley

The world of business is inherently competitive. Every industry has companies trying to rise to the top, which means impressing consumers by learning what they want and finding ways to make those things happen seamlessly. Businesses that invest in delivering on consumer expectations typically see an increase in brand loyalty, which leads to an increase in revenue.

This characteristic is especially true of the hospitality industry. When guests stay at a hotel, they’re looking for a place where they feel comfortable, safe, and have access to the conveniences they’re accustomed to in their daily lives, and hotels are in a race to perfect this.

Technology has become a key component in giving one hotel an edge over another, especially with the increasing popularity of a digital-first approach among travelers. By implementing the right tech, hotels can impress guests, streamline operations, and generate more revenue. It’s critical for hoteliers to stay current with technological advancements, so they can keep pace with expectations.

Mobile devices are the easiest and best way to reach guests- the average hotel guest checks in with at least three mobile devices. Today’s travelers depend on them to provide information and easy access to essential features in their lives. Using mobile technology allows hoteliers to meet their guests where they’re already engaged.

Here are five types of technology that can give a property a competitive advantage:

1. A Branded App

Mobile apps are the perfect solution for engaging guests before, during, and after their stay, especially when integrated with a property’s existing loyalty program. Mobile app technology can also be beneficial in gaining insight into guest satisfaction and guest preferences, which can be used to improve the quality or types of services offered.

An app can track the most common types of guest requests, dining metrics and which menu items are the most popular, and how often they’re using the app to communicate with hotel staff. Management teams can use this information as a framework for making better business decisions and taking guest service to the next level.

2. Mobile Check-In

Mobile check-in is highly sought after by today’s self-service driven travelers. Giving your guests the ability to bypass the front desk not only enhances the guest experience, but it also frees up staff, allowing them to spend more time providing personalized guest service. Offering mobile check-in also incentivizes guests to download your property’s mobile app, which creates a further opportunity for upselling, pre-arrival communication, and to generally craft exceptional experiences.

3. Mobile Key

Major brands, like Hilton and Marriott, have already implemented a form of keyless entry into their hotels and its quickly becoming the leading hotel technology trend. Implementing mobile key technology provides guests the convenience of reducing time at the front desk and prevents guests from ever losing or forgetting their room key. Mobile key technology also saves hotels money on printing costs and increases efficiencies because staff don’t have to spend time printing keycards or replacing lost room keys.

4. In-Room Tablets

In-room tablets provide guests with easy access to hotel information and the ability to place service requests, order room service, control the in-room environment, and communicate with hotel staff. These digital compendiums can also be used to create upselling opportunities and promote upgrades and other special offers targeted to a guest’s preferences.

5. Voice-Controlled Rooms

Another popular technology hotels are embracing is voice. Guests can use this technology to turn on lights, control the TV, adjust the thermostat, and more. Voice technology can also be used to submit guest requests, make reservations, and provide guests with information about the local area. While voice technology may not be as necessary as some of the mobile technologies available, it plays a large role in enhancing the guest experience.

Staying ahead of the competition and remaining relevant is important in an industry as competitive as the hospitality industry. Successfully implementing the right technologies is an easy way to distinguish yourself from your competitors and cater to today’s tech-savvy travelers. Hospitality technology can change how guests experience a hotel and lead to repeat guests, positive reviews, and word-of-mouth referrals.

To learn more about how you can use hospitality technology to gain a competitive advantage, contact the experts at INTELITY to schedule a demo.

What is Service Recovery and How Does It Impact Your Guest Experience?

Service recovery is an important part of the guest experience. Studies show that 63 percent of guests would be willing to return to a property after having a negative experience if they received a follow-up apology or correction from a member of management. While you may not meet your guests’ expectations every single time, it is important to make sure you’re taking the opportunity to recover a guest complaint. Implementing service recovery methods into your daily operations could be the difference between losing a guest and creating a loyal customer.

In the past, guest feedback would often be shared via word of mouth or through written documents and be dependent on staff to relay information about service complaints. Today, technology can be used to capture and track guest feedback and escalate complaints to the appropriate management team for quick service recovery opportunities.

INTELITY Staff offers a service recovery feature, Glitch Intel, to capture and track service issues, guest complaints, or any type of negative feedback issued by the guest in real time, and has a built-in escalation feature that directs feedback to the appropriate management teams.

Glitch Intel allows any staff member to input various kinds of information on INTELITY Staff, including:

  • The original guest complaint
  • Staff members involved
  • Most common guest complaints and service issues
  • Who the complaint was escalated to
  • Steps taken to recover the service
  • The total cost of service recovery

Using this service recovery feature, hotels are able to track, monitor, and organize all guest complaints and service issues, and ensure that they are responding to and addressing guest feedback in a timely manner. Management teams can also use Glitch Intel to generate reports that can be used for further review and analysis.

Another key benefit of INTELITY’s service recovery is the customization available within the feature. We know that no two hotels are the same and each hotel’s operations differ, so we’ve made each field within the Glitch Intel feature customizable to the specific workflow of your hotel.

Are you ready to enhance your guest service and improve your guests’ experience? Contact us today to learn more about the broadest guest engagement and staff management platform.

INTELITY Founder David Adelson Reflects on the First 10 Years

What I’ve Learned So Far and What’s Important Moving Forward as the New INTELITY

INTELITY Founder David Adelson Reflects on First 10 years

Looking back on INTELITY’s first 10 years, I think about how much I’ve learned as its founder and first CEO for the past 10 years. I’m truly excited about what is yet to come in these next 10 years, now that we have merged with KEYPR and have developed into an even stronger brand with a more complete, integrated hospitality technology platform. Building this business from the ground up wasn’t always easy, but it has absolutely been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my professional life.

Here are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about leading and growing a SaaS company in the hospitality industry.

1. It’s about the people

A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all. – Michael LeBoeuf

Before I started INTELITY, I worked as a hotelier, which is where I learned that guests are truly the foundation of this business. It was true in the hotel business, and it’s still true now at INTELITY. We deliver what hoteliers need, but most importantly, we deliver what their hotel guests want. Putting guests first is our recipe for success.

2. Customer success is everyone’s job

The golden rule for every business man is this: “Put yourself in your customer’s place.” – Orison Swett Marden

Sales, implementations, engineering, and marketing can be functions that only the specific teams responsible for them worry about. But customer success needs to be something that everyone on the team internalizes. One thing I’ve learned along the way is that the best measure of success is when a customer or brand hires us again. We can deliver 110 percent of what a hotel needs, but if they aren’t delighted with the experience and willing to hire us again, then we’ve missed the mark.

3. Selling SaaS for hotels is fulfilling

Choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. – Confucius

When hotels purchase INTELITY, they buy a solution to a problem that is often very painful. Checking in with hoteliers who are using INTELITY and realizing that they’re either more efficient now or making more money as a direct result of using our tool is incredibly rewarding.

4. Remain Agile

I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times. – Everett Dirksen

Being flexible in mind, in practice, and in structure has served us well. Technology changes so rapidly. The INTELITY platform was first designed as a web experience, and then for touch screen, then mobile, and now voice. If you don’t change, you get left behind.

5. Discovery never ends

Our business is about technology, yes. But it’s also about operations and customer relationships. – Michael Dell

When a deal closes or implementation ends, don’t convince yourself that discovery is over. It’s crucial that your discovery never ends because customers will keep having new problems. Use current customers to help inform your roadmap, and make sure your tools are matching their pace of innovation.

6. It takes more than tech to build a terrific tech company

Tech is all about building human connections. – Padmasree Warrior

You need more than tech to build a genuinely successful tech company. Customers care much more about the problems your product can solve than the elegant design or ingenious implementation of your solution.

7. Celebrate the wins and understand the losses

It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. – Bill Gates

One of my favorite INTELITY traditions is ringing the bell every time a hotel goes live with our platform. Celebrating every hotel and every achievement along the way is important. And it’s just as important to understand the losses. Both the “what” and the “why” are important and what’s most crucial is reacting to those and learning to win again.

8. Maintain your integrity and vision

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion. – Jack Welch

I believe that integrity and vision are among the most significant roles of the executive team. It’s so important to be able to communicate the company’s vision and reinforce it by every means possible. And when you lead with integrity, you inspire your employees to engage with the same values.

9. Don’t be the smartest person in the room—be the strongest collaborator, connector, and communicator

I think it’s important for people to stay human and remember that genuine human connection is more fulfilling than anything that technology has to offer. – Jon Batiste

Nobody does it alone. It takes a lot of people working together, so be the one helping those people function at their best.

10. It always takes longer than you expect

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. – Leo Tolstoy

It takes time to educate the market as to why your company and product matter. Over the past 10 years, INTELITY has created and delivered only to need to recreate and then deliver again. That’s the way it works. Success is never accidental—you earn it over time through excellence and hard work.

The past 10 years with INTELITY have been a great journey and I look forward to seeing where the next 10 years take the company. Our merger with KEYPR has created new opportunities for the company, opening the door for us to expand into the casino, cruise, luxury residential, and other emerging markets. As we move into this new chapter, I look forward to the company’s continued growth and development and am excited to see where the future will take us.

J.D. Power Survey Finds High Level of Hotel Guest Satisfaction

In-room technology is critical for guest happiness; hotel service is an area where hotels can continue to increase customer satisfaction

The J.D. Power 2018 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index indicated that hotels are definitely getting it right when it comes to guest experience, and their guests are happier than ever. According to the annual survey, overall satisfaction of the hotel industry is up eight points to an all-time high of 825 out of 1,000.

Hotels got high marks all across the board, but one area clearly associated with higher guest satisfaction is adding technology in guest rooms. While 77 percent of guests surveyed said there was a large flat-panel TV in their room during a recent stay, only 10 percent noted a tablet that provides in-room information. A TV raised guest satisfaction 12 points, while a tablet raised it 47 points.

As in-room technology becomes standard, this increased guest satisfaction may start to plateau. In 2018, the addition of a mobile app to a hotel’s offerings brought a 58-percent increase in guest satisfaction, a considerable number but one that’s down from 65 percent the year before.

“Hotels in all price ranges have excelled at ensuring their customers have a top-notch experience,” said Jennifer Corwin, Associate Practice Lead for the Global Travel and Hospitality Practice at J.D. Power. “Years of capital investment in offerings such as higher-end televisions and in-room tablets have left their mark. Now, as hotels look to push customer satisfaction levels higher, their focus should turn to service areas, particularly when it comes to direct booking.”

Satisfaction with hotel services did go up in the 2018 survey but this was lower than the increase in satisfaction with hotel product. Satisfaction with product-focused areas such as guest rooms and hotel facilities are increasing at a higher rate than any other factor (13 and 11 points, respectively). Service areas with the highest level of staff touchpoints (check-in, check-out, and food & beverage) have improved the least (5 and 7 points, respectively), and this coincides with a smaller improvement in cost and fees (5 points). Even with the significant improvement the past few years have seen, there is still room to increase guest satisfaction in areas related to hotel service.

The 2018 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study analyzes guest responses to more than 150 questions regarding their overall experiences and includes 70 officially ranked brands in eight market segments. This year’s study is based on responses from approximately 55,000 hotel guests who stayed at a hotel between May 2017 and May 2018. The study was fielded between June 2017 and May 2018.

For more information, read the full 2018 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.

Top 10 Questions Guests Can Ask Alexa

Say “Hello” to the new voice of guest service.

Implementing voice technology can lead to an increase in guest satisfaction and elevate your guests’ overall experience at your property. Voice technology not only streamlines guest requests, but it can also save guests time.

Studies show that guests spend an average of 12 minutes adjusting the environment in their guest rooms but, by implementing voice technology and integrating it with your room controls, you give your guests back that time and the added convenience of controlling their guest room environment simply by speaking. Not only does voice technology save time, but it can also be used to create personalized experiences tailored to each guest. You can use voice technology to greet each guest and cater specifically to their needs, which goes a long way in creating an exceptional guest experience.

Many guests are used to interacting with voice technology at their own homes or through mobile assistants like Siri, and will be comfortable using it within their guest room. Voice-activated guest rooms can increase guest engagement by giving guests the ability to place in-room dining orders, make service requests, request information about the local area, and make reservations for your on-property restaurants or third-party partners.

So, how can guests use voice technology to engage with your property? Below, we’ve included a list of 10 questions your guests can ask Amazon’s Alexa. INTELITY’s voice solution, leveraged with Amazon’s Alexa, has unlimited possibilities for guest service requests. Check out some top examples below:

“Alexa, please turn on the lights.”

“Alexa, turn the AC to 70 degrees.”

“Alexa, ask the hotel to order me a Caesar salad.”

“Alexa, what time does the gym open tomorrow?”

“Alexa, please ask the hotel to retrieve a valet for me in 15 minutes.”

“Alexa, what are some local attractions?”

“Alexa, ask the hotel to bring more pillows.”

“Alexa, please send a check out request to the hotel.”

“Alexa, please set an alarm for 6 AM.”

“Alexa, ask the hotel to make a reservation at the Inn Grille tonight at 7.”

 
Interested in seeing a demo of the INTELITY voice solution? Schedule a demo with a member of our expert team today. 

Forbes Five-Star Hotels List Dominated by Hotel Technology

The Forbes Travel Guide Star Award Winners list is out, and Five-Star hotels appear to fully embrace hotel technology for exceptional guest service.

We’re thrilled to congratulate all of the global hospitality industry for an incredible showing in the Forbes Travel Guide 2017 Star Awards. What’s amazing is how many of the recognized hotels have fully embraced hotel technology.

For example, out of this year’s 175 Forbes Five-Star hotels, about one out of four are Intelity partners and utilize some form of guest engagement hotel technology, whether it is mobile hotel apps or in-room tablets in hotel rooms. Out of the 22 first-time Five-Star hotels making an appearance on this list, 18 percent are our hotel technology partners.

1 in 4 of the 2017 Forbes Five-Star Hotels is an INTELITY hotel technology partner.

INTELITY has hotel partners in the four United States with the largest number of Five-Star hotels (California, New York, Florida, Massachusetts) and the four international cities with the largest number as well (Macau, Paris, London, Hong Kong).

Only 11 global properties won Five-Star Awards in all three categories for Hotel, Restaurant, and Spa, and one of those, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, is one of our celebrated hotel partners.

“This year’s Star-Rated properties — the largest and most global group in the company’s history — achieved an impeccable standard of excellence in hospitality, underscoring our overall mission of positively contributing to the international tourism industry as well as the individual hotel experience,” said Gerard J. Inzerillo, Chief Executive Officer of Forbes Travel Guide, in an official press release.

“We are excited to recognize the 2017 Star Rating recipients, an exceptional collection of hotels, restaurants, and spas with a strong culture of service.”

INTELITY Forecasts Hotel Technology Trends for 2017

INTELITY CEO and President, David Adelson, comments on hotel technology in 2017 and what trends the industry can expect to see on the rise.

A new day for the hospitality industry has dawned.

Hoteliers have finally recognized the significance of hotel technology and its correlation to the industry’s future success. I would say that 2016 was the year of awareness and planting the seeds for growth, with hoteliers testing the digital waters with widespread experiments involving mobile hotel apps, social media, and digital loyalty program engagement.

The future of hotel technology in 2017 will have to mark a progression in maturity for the industry. Conversations about the buzz phrase “high touch, high tech” have flourished for some time, and the next step is actual implementation in a more refined manner than we’ve seen in the past.

The move could mean a world of difference for the industry, separating properties and brands into the categories of innovative and fresh versus stagnate and out of touch.

Bigger Hotel Tech Budget

Hotel technology took a front-and-center position on the industry stage this year, with more investments than ever being made into creating a sound digital framework that extends from back-of-house infrastructure to guest-facing systems.

In fact, the average hotel technology budget in 2016 increased by 3.4 percent from only 3 years ago and now sits at about six percent. But as ROI reports come in showing the positive results of hotel technology upgrades on guest satisfaction and overall experience, justification of expanded tech budgets will become more fluid. This expansion will become more necessary to match rising guest expectations, competitive demands, and the required upgrades to support and maintain such a network of hospitality technology.

Adoption of Hotel Tech Across Lodging Segments

The primary early adopters of hotel technology fell within the luxury hospitality segment, but innovation has broadened accessibility and lowered price points, making cutting-edge hotel technology more of a reality for other segments as well. In 2016, it was actually midscale hotels that led in IT expenditure (7.3 percent), trailed by upscale hotels (6.1 percent) and luxury hotels (5.6 percent).

Overall more than half of all hoteliers reported increasing spending on hospitality technology trends and needs in 2016. Moving forward, it can be expected that all segments of the lodging industry will need to catch up to hotel guest expectations. Travelers have expressed a willingness to spend more on travel, but winning and retaining their business will be a matter of standing out and making them feel like they’re getting a quality experience. Surveys show that weak (or expensive) hotel WiFi and other digital limitations or shortcomings can hurt hospitality brand perception.

Even guests who prioritize price and budget when traveling will be looking into available packages of digital amenities with the expectation that limited- or select-service hotels will accommodate their basic needs with the same technologies so readily available in the average home. Most technologies, such as an app, are not considered to be a luxury frill anymore. They’ve become so common in the interactions between business and customer that they’re expected at this point, even from the hospitality industry.

The Rise of Hotel Guest Room Technology

A major area of focus in 2016 was mobile technology and the front desk, with hotel apps, in particular, getting a spotlight. A number of hospitality brands and independent hotels centered their guest technology strategies around the rollout of a guest engagement app. More than half of hoteliers reported having a mobile app available for guest use in 2016, and another 21 percent said they planned to develop one in the near future.

The next step for hoteliers will be to focus on improvements to the guest room experience, an area that is in dire need of innovation. Most hotel rooms still largely look the same as they did 10 years ago, but this doesn’t match up with guest expectations or desires. In the next year, hoteliers are going to need a reexamination of the hotel and its appeal to modern travelers (namely tech native Millennial travelers), and the guest room is key to this overhaul.

Hotelier surveys reveal the following sample of interests for 2017 and beyond when it comes to guest room technology:

  • 14 percent of hoteliers reportedly plan to install or upgrade in-room tablets
  • 39 percent plan to implement hotel room mobile key
  • 31 percent have an interest in room controls (or hotel room automation) systems
  • 28 percent would like to upgrade or install smart TVs in hotel rooms

Better Back-of-House Streamlining

One of the most unrealized capabilities of hotel technology, even guest-facing systems, are potential to increase back-end efficiencies in multiple departments, from housekeeping to food and beverage to marketing. Enabling staff with the technology to improve their performance, lighten their load, and provide more insight, in general, could help reduce turnover and increase hotel staff satisfaction. This could be critical to increasing guest satisfaction since staff members are the ones who have to interact with guests in a positive manner.

The industry has only touched the surface of how cutting-edge technology can be incorporated into hotel operations. The next year will be an opportunity for hoteliers to ramp up not only the surface of hospitality technology, those interfaces that directly touch guests but also the underlying framework that drives staff and procedures as well.

HITEC 2016 Highlights: Hospitality Technology Trends to Watch

There was a record attendance at HITEC 2016, and anyone who was present will tell you it was a flurry of sights and sounds. From awesome robots, like Savioke’s Relay the Robot, to a range of upcoming start-ups in the HITEC Entrepreneur 20X showcase, there were a large number of exhibitors at this hospitality technology conference covering a range of products and services, from hotel WiFi to hotel keyless room entry solutions to hotel staff uniforms. With so much going on, it was hard to pick out the dominant hospitality technology trends this year, but here are a few that stood out.

Guest Engagement Technology

This could be considered a very broad category, but guest engagement is the main focus for hospitality right now due to increased competition and dwindling guest loyalty. Hotel technology has become a key competitive differentiator, and there were a number of HITEC exhibitors showcasing ways hotels could improve appeal with guest-facing technology.

Mobile was the strong underlying theme of the majority of guest engagement technology being showcased, which makes sense given that 9 out of 10 modern travelers around the globe reportedly don’t take a leisure or business trip without at least one mobile device with them. Mobile has become invaluable for business to reach customers, regardless of industry.

Using mobile for direct and text messaging guests was a recurring topic of discussion, with hoteliers taking interest in expanded methods of reaching guests through mobile technology. David Temple, CEO & co-founder of Hello Scout (a HITEC Entrepreneur 20X participant), gave a presentation during this year’s HITEC 2016 Tech Talks focused on the benefits of text messaging hotel guests. According to David, messaging apps now have higher usage than social media apps. One of the benefits of hotel guest messaging is the extreme personal connection this enables hotel staff to have with guests, he added.

In-room technology was also a big focus, as touchscreen tablet technology has evolved to the point where there are now models available specifically for hospitality industry needs. Reduced hardware costs and high rates of guest engagement for these guestroom devices makes them an area of hospitality technology investment that could continue to grow in popularity in the near future.

Interest among hoteliers was also in how these guest-facing technologies could provide insight into guest behavior and preferences through a collection of Big Data in hotels.

Hotel WiFi & Connectivity

Strong WiFi has been one of the most important aspects of hotel technology for years, and that hasn’t changed. But as travelers increasingly pack a wider variety of devices, such as smartphones and tablets, it’s put more demand on hotels when it comes to supporting guest connectivity needs.

Daran Hermans, the senior product manager with Zebra Technologies, said, “It all has to do with the mobile devices that guests bring into the hotels. They’ve changed completely. Not only the devices have changed, but they’ve also changed the way the network and the hotel operators have to respond to that.”

Daran identifies the introduction of the iPad as one example of a new technology that impacted connectivity in hotels by altering WiFi demands. Hotel networks weren’t designed to accommodate the use of tablets and mobile technology. Networks had to become more powerful as guests began carrying more mobile devices.

“The trend line is going toward putting one access point in every single hotel room and getting very personal with wireless,” he said.

Mobile technology and the BYOD trend among hotel guests have created other changes in hotel network needs.

Daran said, “Repeatedly hoteliers are saying I’ve got really bad cellular coverage inside my hotel.’ And we all understand that. Newer LTE phones actually don’t work as well, don’t have as good coverage as the older 3G technology did. So one of the trends that have happened to solve that problem is all the major U.S. based cellular carriers are all supporting voice over wireless LAN.”

“So between [these major carriers], your phone calls are now running over WiFi, they’re not even running over the cellular network anymore. That means now you have great cellular voice coverage inside your hotel. Now that’s a great trend. It’s great for me as a WiFi vendor because it really means that now we get to design products that work really well with those voice over wireless LAN type phones that guests are going to be bringing into hotels.”

Hospitality Cloud Technology

Hospitality has got its head in the clouds, and there are a growing number of hotels currently in the process of or interested in migration to the cloud. There are numerous benefits to the industry that come with the shift, including diminished internal hotel IT support needed to maintain onsite systems.

Tom Cook, the marketing manager of Evolve Guest Controls, said he thinks cloud technology in hotels will be a primary focus moving forward. “Trending in hospitality you’re going to see a lot of reduced onsite infrastructure and a major shift into the cloud.”

“It’s slowly making its way into hospitality. Renovation cycles, new construction, and if there’s a way to reduce onsite infrastructure and offer managed services and cloud services, I believe that’s going to be [a trend] in the next five years, in tandem with the Internet of Things and Big Data.”

Hotel Internet of Things

It’s a phrase you can expect to hear repeatedly this year, and it’s possibly the biggest hospitality technology term being discussed at the moment. It was certainly one of the hottest topics at HITEC 2016, with a number of speakers leading sessions on it.

Dr. Ajay “AJ” Aluri, the assistant professor at West Virginia University, presented a Tech Talk about the hospitality Internet of Things, during which he said surveys show that people are interested in value-added experiences in hospitality as a result of the hotel Internet of Things. In time, this trend will create demand for fast, convenient accessibility of automated functions.

He also said IoT will increase the importance of hotel integration between multiple systems in order to have seamless interaction between various devices and systems. If data can’t be fluidly communicated through these hotel system integrations, it could cause disruptions to the guest experience that would potentially decrease guest satisfaction.

In a corresponding special report for HFTP, Ajay wrote this bit of advice for hoteliers wondering about how to prepare for the coming of IoT: “The first step to the future of IoT among businesses is to embrace the Internet and Wi-Fi as the source of valuable consumer data for creating new customer experiences, no longer just for customer personal use.”

A shift is necessary for the hospitality industry. Hoteliers must embrace all the existing hotel technology trends that are widely available, and also become more open-minded and swift when it comes to adoption of emerging hospitality technologies that hold potential to allow businesses to thrive in a modern, connected age of travel.

Contact us today to learn more about our complete hospitality technology platform.