Supplier spotlight: Software and technology

Nearly every facet of the hospitality sector has been transformed by the march of technology. Boutique Hotel News takes a look at the latest software and technology on the market for the industry, and the companies supplying it.

The traveller’s increasing reliance on online reviews to help them make their booking decision has seen a growth in products to help operators use the available data to best effect.

GuestRevu aims to help hoteliers optimise their guest experience through key critical insights – gained from guest feedback and online reviews – that “fuel better decisions, build stronger relationships with guests, and drive direct bookings”.

Using GuestRevu’s guest feedback and reputation management solutions enables hoteliers to gain a deeper, guest-focused understanding of their operational strengths and weaknesses, monitor and manage their online reputation and reviews and improve guest satisfaction to drive more direct bookings and, ultimately, revenue. Specialised group accounts make management across multiple properties a unified experience. GuestRevu is cloud based and has key partnerships with property PMS  systems around the world. It is also one of only three TripAdvisor Platinum Review Collection Partners in the world and says its clients consistently experience an improved TripAdvisor ranking.

GuestRevu’s Francine Heywood says: “The online booking environment is becoming more competitive by the day as hoteliers are competing not only with each other but with online travel agents (OTAs) for their share of the traveller’s money. Travellers themselves are not making this easy with their increasing demands for personalisation, mobile access, simplified booking journeys and technology-friendly environments. GuestRevu believes that feedback from guests is essential to the operational and marketing success of every hotel.  It plays an important role in determining ROI as well as providing business-critical insights that will define you above your competitors in the sea of online travel destinations.

The use of smart phones and tablets in the hospitality sector has created a new platform for operators to interact with their clients in a variety of ways. Julie Grieve of Information Appssays her company is launching a new system to allow property owners and operators to change the way they communicate with their guests.

“Our clever CMS, CRITON allows you to input all the information your guest will need pre arrival and during their stay. It then condenses the information into a branded app (IOS and Android). Along with standard concierge functions, it has some nifty widgets to improve the arrival process for your guest, whilst reducing the time your staff need to spend on guest queries. Our beta test is now live and we are confident that our product will improve the way serviced apartment and short term accommodation users consume the information they need to enjoy their stay.,” says Grieve.

She adds: “The hospitality industry is renowned for systems that don’t speak to each other. A classic example being if you book via an OTA, they send you a confirmation email and then the property owner also sends you a confirmation which will look different and include different information from the original booking. A recent statistic from Google is that by 2020 75 per cent of all data will be in video. The majority of operators want to ensure that their guests have all the information that they need at their fingertips and we know that the way Millennials consume information and interact is entirely different to the current demographic. With a background of trust reviews driving consumer booking behaviour, introducing technology which improves the guest experience at all touchpoints will become crucial to continued success. It could argued that this is perhaps even more so within the short term accommodation market because our guests require more operational information than a standard hotel room guest to enjoy their stay. Technology can help provide the information in a format which suits the consumer and by improving the user information protect the asset as well as improving the user experience.”

Revenue management is another facet of operations which has been transformed by technology. IDeaS Revenue Solutions offers pricing and revenue software, services and consulting for business of all types and sizes in the global hospitality and travel industries. Founded in 1989, IDeaS has been called on by industries as far-ranging as parking, airlines, transportation and event ticketing.

“We transform the right data into clear and actionable insight, so that our clients can price, forecast and report with speed and confidence, improving business performance. Our solutions drive thousands of pricing decisions every second for hospitality businesses across the world,” says the company.

Ksenia Ruffell of IdeaS says: “Recent discussions have been swirling around the revenue management industry and its swift evolution over the past few years, moving steadily past merely filling as many rooms as possible to holistically approaching the quest for achieving total revenue performance. However, approaches and technologies have not been the only revenue management components swept up in these influential winds of change. The lives of hotel revenue managers have also experienced drastic changes in not only their job responsibilities, but in their overall work efficiencies, insights and performance.”

“The average hotel revenue manager touches a diverse range of systems within their role: reputation management, channel management, rate shopping, revenue management, property management and central reservations systems. And as advancements in these system technologies have improved how hotels are driving better revenue, they have also freed revenue managers from the tactical handcuffs once restraining their productivity. It is clear to see that revenue managers working without the benefit of an automated systems commonly find themselves handcuffed to manual data entry processes with higher risks of human error, meetings spent focused less on strategy and more on basic logistics, and relying on limited data insights to make pricing and strategy decisions. The benefits that today’s revenue management technology brings to the life of the modern day revenue manager reaches well beyond a scope limited to the hotel work day. Recent evolutions in technology have positively improved on-the-job system learning frustrations and job demands that previously made a healthy work-life balance seem downright impossible at times. And as the industry continues its discussion on evolving revenue management approaches and technologies, let’s not forget to mention the monumental evolution of revenue management’s biggest champion: the life of the revenue manager.”

Avvio is a company on a mission to enable operators to reduce their cost per sale by increasing direct bookings. The company’s Frans Diels says: “Avvio is Europe’s most advanced booking platform. Our products and services are designed to cater to the ever-evolving needs of leading hotels across Ireland, the UK and North America. Our booking platform is supported by a suite of services – including digital marketing for hotels, responsive website design, analytic insights and revenue management consultancy – to offer an all-in-one, fully-supported solution.”

“Software and technology are becoming more and more important for boutique hotels on many levels – from getting your customer to book to getting them to come back. As you work hard on creating a hospitality brand that stands out from the crowd, you should embrace technology to create an even more memorable experience for customers. An example of how technology can help you create such memorable experiences is online personalisation. Through clever, anonymous tracking you can provide a unique booking journey for every customer and use this to for example sell upgrades or packages, encourage reviews or create loyalty. Today’s technology will help you save time and money so that you can focus on running a successful business instead.”

Guestline is a leading UK supplier of cloud based software solutions to the hotel and serviced apartment markets. The platform it provides is an integrated solution made up of three core modules; reservations, distribution and a WebSuite all brought together in one PCI compliant “wrapper”.

This offering is “focused and capturing all customer data, whilst managing the operational needs of the business; invoicing, marketing,maximising revenue, and reducing the operational costs”.

Guestline’s Rupert Gutteridge says: “The continued challenge of driving business to the hotels own website and increasing conversion is a never ending battle and the struggle to compete with the OTAs is constant headache. In order to meet this challenge Guestline have launched their new WebSuite product that has the capability to improving the guest experience and conversion on the hotels own web site. With such a high level of integration between the website and the customer profile in the PMS, the hotel website is now capable of offering a tailored package or rate to the guest that is based on the type of guest as well as previous transactional detail from historical stay records.”

“This not only gives better guest satisfaction but also improves conversion as well as revenue. This tool is offering richer content and a more tailored experience to the guest which in turn allows the hotel to better compete with OTAs. Google has quoted that 56 per cent of OTA customers will visit the hotel website before returning to the OTA to complete the booking. Well now the hotels have a tool that can out complete the OTA with the more tailored offering to the guest,” he adds.

Maxxton is a leading provider of ERP software for the accommodation rental industry: holiday rentals, serviced apartments, extended stay, aparthotels and holiday parks. It delivers tailored systems and web services to its clients across Europe and the US.

The company says its “unique one database approach enables multi-property organisations to efficiently improve processes and maximise revenue, thanks to implementation and tailored delivery of modules such as central reservations, administration and accounting, channel management, property management, business intelligence, customer relationship management and reporting.”

Maxxton’s Séverine Obertelli says: “Boutique hotels have been thriving thanks to delivering outstanding and personalised service, connecting their guests to a special and often local experience. Technology plays more and more an important part on the ability to deliver that customized and relevant guest experience and attract more bookings. Most legacy systems now deliver good property management features, however to fully capitalize on the new market opportunities, at Maxxton we believe that the key aspects for choosing a successful software are the following: control of your data and integrated CRM for a killer marketing strategy; high connectivity with API technology and flexibility of software configuration; and seamless administration and dynamic pricing for maximizing your revenue. When some companies stop innovating, it can literally kill them, just make sure that your technology is ready for tomorrow’s market. Being ready for today is not enough anymore.”

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