January FOCUS: Mobile Technology

January, 2019

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.

This month's feature articles...

Mark Heymann

Mobile labor management tools promise hotel managers the ability to schedule staff and monitor performance in real time, on the go, while providing the open communication channels that are crucial to keeping a millennial workforce motivated. This article takes the real-life example of a leading hotel management company that is using mobile across its properties and includes interviews with several of its managers to see if-and how-going mobile has impacted their ability to manage and engage staff. READ MORE

Carlo Cisco

The advent and dramatic improvement of internet connectivity gave way to a plethora of new businesses and forever changed the way existing businesses and their customers connect. Smartphones have since given way to a new group of businesses and, in many cases, allowed for even deeper and more seamless connections between businesses and customers. As the technologies continue to improve and open platforms allow for consistent innovation by numerous companies, all industries are embracing these changes and continually looking for new ways to leverage them to improve their customer experience. READ MORE

Barbara Krzywoszanski

The intelligent use of 'big data' is essential to any growing business. The way data is analyzed and leveraged is unique to each operation. Big data refers to informational data sets that identify patterns, trends, and can be used as an element for operational predictions and forecasts. It is made up of volume, velocity and variety. Volume is the abundance of data. Velocity is the continuous accumulation of data. Variety is the combination of data sources that often reveal 'I didn't know that' moments when merged in analysis. Most hotels use big data to optimize how they market to and engage guests. However, forward looking hotel operators also use data analytics to create more efficient and profitable businesses. READ MORE

Tony  Heung

Wi-Fi has become the fourth utility after water, gas and electricity and its importance is growing so significantly that a hotel room cannot be sold unless Wi-Fi is working at an acceptable service level. While traditional Wi-Fi is primarily used by the hotel guests to access the internet or by the hotel staff to access back-office applications, the explosion of Internet of Things (IoT) changes the dynamic of next generation Wi-Fi design within the hotel property. The investment in Wi-Fi infrastructure today is an investment in the future and the success of your hotel. READ MORE

Sridhar Laveti

The rise in mobile technology (mobility) adoption continues to shift the way many industries do business today. Mobile devices have empowered consumers to make informed decisions while enterprises have given employees the means to be more productive. Hospitality is one such industry that harnesses the power of mobile technology. And why not, when most consumers are walking around with computers in their pockets all day. These same tech-savvy consumers expect premium services and are quick to share their experiences - both good and bad - with the rest of the world through social platforms. The introduction of mobility is enabling hotel and resort brands to provide better guest service. This article summarizes some of the hottest mobile technology trends for everyday hospitality operations. READ MORE

Matt Schwartz

As Denver-based, hotel management and investment company, Sage Hospitality continues to expand into the independent hotel world, their Chief Technology Officer, Matthew Schwartz weighs in on a topic of discussion in their office and presumably other hotel developers worldwide – does it make sense to invest in a mobile app as an independent hotel, or are there other places hotels should be focusing their time and money on? This article explores the downside of consumer "app bloat" and looks toward more sound outlets that independents can capitalize on now while the app debate continues. READ MORE

Joe Schwinger

Mobile technology has transformed the hotel experience, putting countless services and amenities right at our fingertips. The next wave of technology, already gaining momentum around the industry, will take us beyond these simple conveniences and offer a new focus on customer preferences. The hotel room of the future, powered by next-generation technology and data, will be an incredibly personalized experience where guests can control their guest room environment in the same way they are accustomed to doing at home. The benefit is twofold - guests receive all the comforts of home, while offering new levels of customer loyalty for hotels. READ MORE

Ahmad Ouri

Connected technology is advancing quickly and hotels must be ready to meet or exceed the experiences guests have in their homes. By examining current consumer trends, guests expect a multiple device experience integrated seamlessly with the in-room technology. Those expectations include but are not limited to streaming, voice assistants, and environmental controls. These disparate products must work together – over the same infrastructure – to deliver a simple and seamless guest experience. With some smart planning and careful consideration in selecting a solution provider, it is possible to build a technology ecosystem that benefits both guests and hoteliers. READ MORE

Adam Gillespie

Hotels are in a unique position as a service based industry is as hotel owners are constantly replacing their technology on property. There are many advantages in how hotel technology can conform to Moore's law of advancement without experiencing a large capital expenditure every couple of years. As new technology incorporates the ability to display advertising targeted to the guest, all decision makers within the hospitality industry should be focused on the advertising revenue that is possible, along with considering options for the guest to be able to use these services easily before, during, and after their stay. READ MORE

Terence Ronson

Change and the mind-boggling speed at which it has shaped every aspect of our lives has been no more apparent than in our growing dependence on mobility. Just look around you – people clutching at their mobile devices as if their life depended on it. And maybe it does! Interestingly too, our dependence with mobility has been almost instant, a seemingly uncanny natural evolution. Almost every industry has been touched by what it offers, whether it be efficiency in the way we do things, or accessibility to data, however you define that to be. This article explores how this most disruptive technology has helped transform not only the hotel itself, but almost single handedly, every aspect of the guest experience. READ MORE

Tim Peter

You might hear some people suggest that we're entering the year of mobile, but that's not quite right. Yes, mobile has promised gains for the last few years, but are you ready to achieve these breakthroughs for your property. Despite massive increases in mobile traffic, there are a major reasons why so many hotels are not generating significant increases in reservations and revenue. Why is that? What's holding mobile bookings back? And, more importantly, in an era when mobile has come to the fore and driving direct revenues has taken center stage, what can you do to increase bookings on mobile for your properties? READ MORE

Scott Schaedle

The digital era has ushered in a wave of innovations forever changing the way hoteliers do business, and technology is now of paramount importance to any forward-thinking hotel executive. Even the most reluctant of properties must confront how to make way for a more connected guest experience or risk getting left behind. In fact, according to the 2018 Hotel Technology Study, 62.1 percent of hotels want to increase spending on mobility technology in the next two years. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons exemplify one such mobile technology hoteliers need to include in their 2019 budgets. READ MORE

Court Williams

The hospitality industry is changing, and is rapidly becoming super high-tech. While we can argue that this benefits guests-and it certainly benefits vendors-how much is it taking away from the guest's personal experience? Theoretically, it should improve the customer experience, particularly through the use of data collected by using the various technologies. Let's look at how guests actually feel, especially the Baby Boomers who look set to remain the most prolific travelers for the next two to three years, and see if the numbers support the theory that technology has improved the hospitality experience. READ MORE

Scott  Watson

In the front of house, today's guests are more connected than ever, equipped with the ability to wield a smartphone like a magic wand from check-in to check-out. Meanwhile, staff members should be using the same mobile connectivity to accelerate operations for the back of house. This article explores the critical link between enhanced customization and rising customer expectations, as well as the needs for brands to "mobilize" their back-office accounting practices to bring staff members (at every level) up to speed and leverage "big data" to keep up with the industry's ever changing needs. READ MORE

David  Millili

Hotels continue to feel the effects of the sharing economy, so much so that chains, such as Marriott, are moving into the alternative accommodations sector. However, most properties have natural assets they can harness to deliver on what guests want without reinventing their model. To recoup revenue sometimes lost to sharing sites, hotels must boost their value proposition. This includes assessing how and when travelers want technology, leveraging staff in the right way and at the ideal times, and using data to their advantage in creating guest relationships that alternative accommodations simply cannot. Fortunately, every tactic will improve the overall guest experience, boosting a hotel's overall ability to serve the modern traveler. READ MORE

Elizabeth DeConti

Recently, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act ("PASPA"), finding that the federal legislation violated the anti-commandeering doctrine of the U.S. Constitution. Murphy v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Assn. et al. Previously PASPA had outlawed "sports betting" or gambling on the outcome of professional or collegiate athletic contests. As a result, states are now free to decide whether they wish to allow gambling on professional and collegiate sports inside their borders, or whether they wish to legislate guardrails or prohibitions around sports gambling. Allowing sports betting will have ramifications for any hospitality venue with a sports bar, lounge, or recreational facility. READ MORE

Michael Wildes

Immigration courts are not sufficiently independent tribunals because immigration judges work directly under the State Department, and serve at the pleasure of the Attorney General, as do the assistant chief counsels, or the "prosecutors" in immigration courts. Recently, the Attorney General has taken a more hands-on approach in overseeing immigration courts by imposing performance quotas on immigration judges, which impairs their judicial independence. One solution is to extract immigration courts from the ambit of the State Department and to establish a more independent, Article III immigration court in the same vein as bankruptcy and tax courts. READ MORE

Linda Pierce

Cyber fraud has been making headlines around the world for its destructive impact on businesses and consumers through data breaches, email phishing scams and ransomware attacks. Once a business has been compromised, the potential loss to business owners from cyber fraud is significant in terms of the actual loss sustained, potential lost or damaged business relationships, legal proceedings and adverse publicity. As hotel directors, managers and property owners examine effective strategies to combat cyber fraud, it is imperative they consult with their risk managers for a solution before a threat arises. READ MORE

William A. Brewer III

For the last decade, home-sharing services have disrupted segments of the hotel industry, threatening to flip the script on market-supply. Airbnb and other online platforms are poised for further growth, particularly within the super-luxury segment. Their emergence has pitted global hotel chains against homeowners, as well as major metropolitan cities against multi-billion-dollar tech interests. An analysis of market and legal issues surrounding short-term home-sharing reveals its sound legal footing. The need for market-players to adapt to the continued presence of these services, as well as the important role of attorneys well-versed in this debate, is brought into focus. READ MORE

Cate Farmer

The way travelers are taking vacations has changed. Expectations are higher. Travelers want a worry-free vacation with personality. It is all about the experiences and maybe more importantly how those experiences translate to an emotional connection. The story, the people, the adventure is as important as, maybe even more important than, the physical deliverable. The team at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort's mission is to deliver Fun and Escapism to our guests. We provide something unique and somewhat intangible and that ultimately differentiates and makes us successful. We take tremendous pride in knowing that our guests return again and again to the Resort because of this emotional connection. READ MORE

Cristine Henderson

Everything from clothing to condos are now produced with some degree of sustainable measures in mind. The extension of this practice to the hospitality industry might come as a surprise to some, especially with the added competition of short-term rental services such as Airbnb. However, sustainability has made its mark on the hotel industry and shows no signs of slowing down. Not only does this innovation help the environment and perpetuate social responsibility, but consumers love it. Read ahead for a more thorough investigation by Cristine Henderson, AIA, NCARB of Hoefer Wysocki of how the hospitality industry is incorporating sustainable measures to rebuild its foundations through design. READ MORE

David Dionne

In an ever-increasingly competitive hospitality marketplace, owners and operators look to enhance their competitive advantage by providing uniquely positive, memorable experiences. Hotel and resort owners and operators agree that a hospitality brand holds the potential to create such novel guest experiences through the amenities leaders select for the brand's identity. What is a really unique and novel amenity? A really great playground. What makes a great playground? A great playground stimulates a child's imagination, allows children to build confidence through experience and skill building opportunities and can be designed for kids of all abilities and ages. READ MORE

Justin Laxton

Providing your hotel guests with the essential items they want and need is an important ingredient of overall customer satisfaction. In this article, we'll dive into tactics you could use to identify the essentials your customers need, and discuss how the brands you stock can lead to a delightful customer experience. We'll also discuss the role local trends and sustainability can play in creating a strong customer impression. At the end of the article, you will have a good idea of how to build and maintain a continuous process to create memorable experiences for your customers. READ MORE

Lisa Ross

The vast millennial population makes them a major target group for all businesses. That's why, hoteliers must find effective ways to attract this young, tech-savvy and demanding generation. Millennials are more well-travelled and adventurous than the previous generation. Their exposure to technology sets them apart as the first to grow up fully connected. They expect something new from the hospitality industry, throughout their entire experience – from making the reservation to checkout and beyond. Read on to learn how to cater to millennial desires for customization over generalization, need to stay super connected, and appreciation for brand engagement on social media. READ MORE

Daniel Lafferty

Hoteliers are well-versed in the art of visual branding and the creation of ambient spaces, recognising the significance of brand image in attracting customers. Yet how a leisure brand sounds is becoming as important as how it looks when ensuring business success. But how do you create a unique brand soundtrack that best reflects specific brand values and personality? Daniel Lafferty, Director of Music and Voice at global audio branding specialist PHMG, explains how hoteliers can harness the power of audio to differentiate their venue from competitors by using the right combination of custom composed music, voice and script. READ MORE

Felicia Hyde

Travel has no age limit. This is one of the many reasons it's one of the world's fastest-growing industries and enjoyed by many age groups. From baby boomers to millennials to Gen X to the growing Gen Z cohort, each group has needs that drive their purchasing behavior. Pointedly, a hotel that appeals to one group may not resonate with another, so hoteliers must deliver a custom experience that leaves their target audience wanting more. To achieve this, consider these key design strategies that have transformed the multifamily industry when designing your next hotel. READ MORE

Christopher Manley

Hotels operating in a seasonal market must be prepared to continually adjust to the drastic variations in business throughout the year. By far, one of the greatest challenges for such properties is to maintain proper staffing throughout the seasonal swings. Hotels that proactively combat staffing challenges – through tailored strategic planning and cultural efforts – will be well positioned to thrive in seasonal environments. Hiring team members during the proper season, incentive programs, referral programs and career pathing efforts all contribute to creating an "Employer of Choice" brand, which is an often overlooked yet critical factor in successful recruitment and retention. READ MORE

Javier Coll

As hotel owners and investors discuss strategies for success in the coming year, a careful review of current market conditions is imperative. While supply in the international hotel market remains growing and strong, room rates are beginning to soften, and smart owners should now consider a brand conversion strategy to stay ahead of the curve. In this article, Javier Coll, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Apple Leisure Group, shares why a conversion, with the right brand partner, is key to beating out the competition in a potentially oversaturated market. READ MORE

Brett Tabano

Consumers are spending increasing amounts of time on mobile devices, forcing brands to rely more heavily than ever on digital marketing to drive bookings and boost revenue. Unfortunately, the ever-changing digital landscape is becoming more difficult to navigate and control, often resulting in brand safety issues. From ensuring that ads don't run next to damaging content to preventing competitors and other nefarious "squatters" from exploiting the awareness you've built, marketers must take proactive measures to protect the value of their brand. As a scalable, efficient solution, a growing number of marketers are shifting to a real-time, programmatic, platform-based strategy. Here's why. READ MORE

Michael Hess

While some hotel executives may manage only one hotel operation, most owners and operators oversee hotel chains big and small. Executives have a large order of tasks, employees, guests and more to keep straight-all while keeping the bigger picture in mind to ensure steady revenue and growth. Having a cohesive data system is of utmost importance whether managing hotel chains or singular locations-from a revenue, profits, employee and guest standpoint. One area that often gets overlooked but can greatly impact your bottom line is waste management. READ MORE

Steven Klein

Everchanging challenges sweeping the hotel industry, from new technology-related consumer demands to rising labor costs to shifting competition, are making it more difficult than ever for hoteliers to manage soaring operation costs. With margins thinning, it's crucial hotel operators maintain profitability by performing financial audits. In this article, Steve Klein, a partner at South Florida accounting firm Gerson Preston, dives into the specifics surrounding the importance of a properly conducted, regular and thorough audit so hotels -- large and small -- remain sustainable and allow for greater efficiency to address the evolving landscape of the industry as we know it. READ MORE

Kurt Meister

Managing any hotel renovation requires management of a myriad of issues: budgets, deadlines, contractors, expectations and ongoing services to name a few. What often isn't top of mind in the early stages of a renovation is a plan to manage the inherent risk. This article addresses nine considerations every hotel operator needs to prioritize at the start of any renovation project. In fact, these nine considerations must take higher priority over your other considerations. Why? Because if you botch any of these nine considerations, many if not all of those other priorities mentioned above will be negatively impacted. READ MORE

Zoe Connolly

Industry-wide, there is recognition and agreement about the pitfalls of hiring the wrong person. Aggressive estimates say that the cost of a poor hire can go as high as $240,000, and the US government says it is 30% of the the (ill-fated) employee's salary. But as we all know, turnover is real, and there is a 100% chance a hotel, hospitality company, TravelTech provider or chain of properties will need to make a new hire. Below are five ways to ensure your next hire is the right hire, every time. READ MORE

Lily Mockerman

One of the most overlooked opportunities for hoteliers today is maximizing all hotel space for more profitability. Hoteliers know that empty rooms generate no revenue but finding a purpose for every space requires creative thinking, a comprehensive plan to execute ideas seamlessly and an understanding of the challenges that may arise. In this article, revenue management expert Lily Mockerman delivers original solutions for hoteliers looking to maximize hotel space and, in turn, maximize profitability. READ MORE

David Bilicic

Research firm Magid digs into the opportunities and challenges presented by subscriptions in the hospitality industry, especially among loyalty program members. Magid found that travelers who already belong to a loyalty program are much more likely to be interested in a subscription program offering than those who are not part of loyalty programs. This research, which was conducted through an online study of 3,000 individuals who have an active subscription within one of 14 business verticals (Including meal kits, fitness, music, beauty, clothing and more), also delves into other consumer perceptions around subscription programs including price, offerings and "must-haves." READ MORE

Mark Ricketts

There's clearly a fun side to hospitality, one that we should embrace and celebrate, for our guests, our host communities and ourselves. Keeping hospitality entertaining is a great way to keep staff engaged. It's about teamwork, motivation and a sense of pride in one's work, as well as a way to show appreciation for what our people do to make us look great in a wide range of activities and interactions with others. In this way, fun also has a serious side and can accomplish a great deal for our organizations. READ MORE

Jackson Thilenius

Why should we consider hostels a hot new market? With the rise of the sharing economy and the power of millennial spending, there is a lot to unpack as to why hostels are thriving in this economy. Beyond being a growing trend, hostels are quickly driving more market share as they become a "go-to" for today's generation of savvy travelers who will spend less so that they can travel more without sacrificing value-based amenities they rely on. Jackson Thilenius, Principal at Retail Design Collaborative, elaborates. READ MORE

Simon Hudson

Après ski in ski resorts used to consist of a few pints of ale and plate of nachos, but increasingly the bubbly allure of champagne, beer and spirits is being packaged by resorts into beer and distillery tours, private in-room liquor tastings, champagne toasts on the slopes, and beverage and food pairings. This article takes a look at some of the ski industry's more innovative beverage-focused offerings, from North America's highest-elevation fine-dining in Telluride offering a choice of 400 wines 12,000 feet above sea level, to Pow Day, the Waldorf Astoria Park City's own custom craft beer. READ MORE

Coming up in September 2022...

Hotel Group Meetings: The Great Outdoors

There is some welcome good news in the Hotel Group Meetings sector. There seems to be a resurgence in activity - across all sectors and all sizes - from small board meetings to large in-person groups. However, hotels must remain flexible and proactive, as they seek to provide venues and programs that are productive, comfortable, and safe to all parties. One major development is the expansion of outdoor meeting activities. This trend not only serves to meet regulatory health standards, but it also promotes an environment of well-being. According to a recent study from, spending just 29 minutes outdoors can result in a 45% increase in productivity; and 63% of employees reportedly felt invigorated after being in fresh air. Combined with guided physical activities and healthy food and beverage offerings, a sense of wellness and productivity are established. The September Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to accommodate the revitalization of group meeting business in their operations.