New Payments Technologies Expand Hotel Revenue Opportunities

By David Hogan Executive Director of Major Accounts, Heartland Payment Systems | September 23, 2012

With the world shifting to digital and hotel competition increasing daily, hotel owners/operators must adapt on a variety of fronts to increase revenue while meeting or exceeding guest expectations and demands. Nowhere is that more prevalent than in a hotelís various technology options, from the property management system (PMS) to data security to taking guest payment options beyond the front desk to so much more. Quite simply, revenue management is so closely tied to technology that hotel owners/operators must determine which technology improvements will bring the greatest return on investment.

According to PwC's U.S. Lodging Forecast, lodging demand continues to expand and hoteliers should see moderate economic growth this year. As the industry continues to recover, hoteliers are once again investing in infrastructure, amenities and technology. While each of these components plays a critical role in operations, everyone knows that a hotelís PMS is the technological foundation that allows hoteliers to profitably enhance the guest experience.

PMSís allow hoteliers to check past booking patterns and not just sell the right rooms at the right price, but also manage guest portfolios from reservation to checkout. As new and enhanced technologies emerge that upgrade these invaluable systems, it is imperative that hoteliers donít forget about another crucial aspect of PMS revenue management ó data security.

Incorporating security with the hotelís PMS is essential to revenue management because if guest payment data is breached, it can devastate a hotelís reputation, and, thus, financial stability. As cybercriminals continue to target payment card data from the hospitality industry, payments-oriented data security upgrades are imperative.

Why Technology Matters

In order to effectively leverage technology to maximize revenue, hoteliers must understand recent developments in hospitality technology. The hospitality industry continues to be one of the most breached industries and payments innovators are continually responding with new ways to thwart cybercriminals. Although most guests do not have data security top of mind when booking a hotel, if their credit or debit card information is compromised after a stay, no matter how beautiful the room or attentive the staff, that is the only thing they will remember. In todayís social media culture, where a bad experience can be shared with not just oneís closest friends and family, but with hundreds and thousands of online connections, hotel owners/operators must be mindful that a confirmed or suspected data breach can have immediate and catastrophic consequences on revenue and damage to their ďbrand.Ē

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.