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Tina Stehle

In the current economy, it's more important than ever to conserve resources and cut costs. One of the best ways to streamline operations is to automate inventory and procurement. Hotels that do so typically report savings in the range of 5 percent to 15 percent - through efficiencies as well as direct cost savings. The operational benefits of e-procurement are numerous, including reduced inventory levels, improved auditing and financial control, elimination of paperwork, enhanced staff efficiency and shortened delivery time. Today's systems take inventory and procurement to an entirely new level with automated e-mail bids, the ability to route purchase requisitions for approval via e-mail or PDA, electronic invoicing, budget tracking, business intelligence functionality and more. In this article, I outline five top reasons to automate your hotel's inventory and procurement system. READ MORE

Rob Kall

Online travel reviews are nothing new; they have existed in one way or another for over 10 years. Sites without user reviews may become less common over the next few years, as consumers rely more heavily on others' experiences before making a decision. So how can hoteliers take advantage of this growing trend to bring in more business to their property? Easy, include customer reviews directly on your site. This article explains and analyzes the pros and cons of posting consumers' reviews of your property on your own website. READ MORE

Jacki Kelley

The Internet has revolutionized the way consumers make travel purchasing decisions. In fact, according to a recent comScore Media Metrix study, more than 55 million consumers used web searches to research travel throughout the month of July 2006 alone. Moreover, the majority of those who conducted a web search booked travel online. According to Forrester Research, the Internet makes up one quarter of all travel sales today and is projected to grow to just under 50 percent by 2010, making Travel second only to computer software and hardware when it comes to overall category growth. Lodging companies have made significant strides in harnessing the Internet to leverage distribution and make it easy for consumers to research, compare and buy from their desktops; however, when it comes to building brands on the Internet, opportunity exists. With broadband penetration projected to reach 83 percent of U.S. households by 2008, the opportunities to leverage the medium, engage consumers, drive preference and manage channel distribution has never been greater. READ MORE

David Chin

Historically, the hospitality industry hasn't exactly been the leading hotbed of technology. Earlier this millennium, the best you'd usually find was billing and room reservation systems linked using the room TV as a display. And guest services tended to be centralized with terminals at reception and in restaurants. Now, IT is everywhere. In-room mini-bars are connected to IP networks that add purchases to the bill 30 seconds after a cold beverage is lifted from the fridge. The flat screen TV offers streaming music services with soothing screensaver photos. Even the room key has become part of a technology link that allows guests to buy food in restaurants and access voice mail and wireless Internet portals. And a new generation of gadget-minded and gear-toting business and leisure guests are forcing hotel operators to continuously -- and at warp speeds -- adopt new information and entertainment technology systems. READ MORE

Hilary Murphy

The challenge of optimizing IT investment is relentless for the hospitality sector. This article reviews some of the salient issues that impact on optimizing new technologies by revisiting the determinants of technology adoption and then by sharing some of my research into Strategic Technology Relationships in the Hotel Sector, conducted earlier this year with the hospitality technology managers (CIOs and IT Directors) in the major European hotels. Finally, some suggestions are proposed for the future optimization of technology in the hospitality sector. READ MORE

Jacki Kelley

We all know the Internet has changed the way people consume media. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would dispute this. But lately, the conversation has evolved to include Web 2.0 - a second-generation of Internet-based services that let people collaborate and share information online in new ways. But to understand the true value of this shift, let's talk about Consumer 2.0 - at the heart of Web 2.0. READ MORE

Tina Stehle

Success in hotel operations means reducing costs and improving operational efficiencies while enhancing guest satisfaction. The most visible benefit of deploying a document management solution is an immediate reduction in manual processes and volumes of paper. Companies that choose to deploy a document management solution gain a rapid return on investment. The costs savings are easy to see: dramatic decreases in the time and labor required to search for and retrieve documents, increases in work capacity and productivity and reduced physical space demands for filing paper copies of documents in offices and off-site warehouses. READ MORE

Mark Tapling

Why has guest experience accelerated in importance over the past several years? Some say it's the build out of local markets where location and price have reached their zenith. Oversaturation is the death knell for many an operation. But there are still others that realize a focus on guest service and the guest experience has the potential to negate many of the affects of competition, location and price. In fact, many are finding that they can significantly increase revenue by focusing on guest service. READ MORE

Tina Stehle

Enhanced customer service, reduction to staffing costs, and a better utilization of hotel resources are just some of the hotel benefits obtained by successfully implementing self-service kiosks. Many customers are already accustomed to using self-service alternatives for airline check-in, rental cars and supermarket check-out. Today, customers are demanding the same convenience and ease of use in the hotel check-in process. READ MORE

Maurice Martin

Today's savvy consumers not only compare your brand and your online offerings with your competitors; they compare you against every other site on the Internet. New capabilities are emerging every day on the big consumer sites that the hospitality industry will soon have to emulate. Hotel brands must produce and maintain an integrated offering that neatly presents all properties and services, while providing a best-in-class user experience. Customers expect that offering to include advanced features: online reservations, loyalty program redemption, local restaurant recommendations, tickets to attractions, smart profiles and much more. The demands on IT organizations are rising dramatically yet few hoteliers maintain the internal resources to stay competitive on a rapidly changing e-commerce playing field. In fact, many IT budgets remain flat or are in decline, forcing companies to turn to lower cost delivery models like offshore development as a cost-effective way to augment staff. But is this model really viable? READ MORE

Mike Stacy

There are many elements that go into planning a group getaway; whether it's a group business trip, a family reunion, a friend's getaway or a destination wedding. For each of these groups the questions of where to stay and what to do will vary. What is the anatomy of a great destination for a group trip? The answer is simple, the right city for the right group of people. Equally important is the right accommodation and service for the group. Some of the most popular types of traveling groups are Corporate, Family Reunions, Friends Getaways, and Destination Weddings. The following is an exploration into these groups and some of their top destinations. READ MORE

Donald R. Smith

Many hotel companies prefer a CPA model since it can be tracked to an actual stay; thus, the individual hotels pay for actual business received. CPA is a lower-risk option than CPC and much easier to manage, however, both have benefits depending on the needs of the company. Regardless of the distribution model used, it is important for hotel/hotel groups to carefully analyze the ROI before and during each campaign. Within the next five years, online advertising will take the majority the advertising budget so the pressure is on now to figure out which distribution model works best. When deciding, a key success factor will be working with online companies that understand each model and have experience successfully implementing them. READ MORE

Maurice Martin

Most hoteliers realize the importance of their Web face to their customers and the extent to which customers interact with the brand through that medium; therefore, we should always invest in the best possible experience for our visitors. Rich Internet Applications provide the potential to take that experience to the next level. The best way to decide if Rich Internet Applications are right for you is to recognize your current Web site's unique problems and identify optimum opportunities for improvement. READ MORE

Tina Stehle

Thirty years ago many hotels were implementing their first Property Management Systems (PMS). Its main role at the time was to automate processes that had been handled manually. As the PMS has evolved, hotels have utilized these systems' capabilities to increase efficiency and maximize profits. Initially, this was accomplished primarily through interfacing and more recently, via integration and seamless communication. The complexity of our systems has increased and tech-savvy consumers are driving development. So, now that the PMS has evolved beyond merely managing our information, what will the Property Management System of tomorrow look like? READ MORE

Roger G. Hill

Traditionally, we define luxury hotels as five-star resorts with sleek design, top-notch amenities, and expensive accommodations. At the most basic level, a hotel or resort experience is most luxurious when it offers indulgences and unexpected touches, and hotels often create lavish environments with sumptuous d'ecor and attentive service. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, technology, if properly applied, can help a hotel owner take both d'ecor and service to the next level. Every hotel, from an exclusive beachfront resort to a country bed and breakfast can use technology to create luxury. READ MORE

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Coming up in August 2020...

Food & Beverage: New Technological Innovations

In the past few years, hotel food and beverage departments have experienced significant growth. Managers are realizing just how much revenue potential this sector holds, both in terms of additional revenue and as a means to enhance the guest experience. As a result, substantial investments are being made in F&B operations as a way to satisfy hotel guests but also to keep pace with the competition. Though it has been a trend for many years, the Farm-to-Table movement shows no signs of abating. Hotel chains are abandoning corporate restaurants and are instead partnering with local chefs to create locally-influenced dining options. Local, farm-sourced ingredients paired with specialty beverages or local wine also satisfies the increasing demand from Millennial travelers who are eager to travel sustainably and contribute to a positive impact. A farm-to-table F&B program also helps to support the local economy, which builds community goodwill. Also popular are "Self-Serv" and "Grab & Go" options. These concepts stem from an awareness that a guest's time is limited and if a hotel can supply them with fast, fresh, food and beverage choices, then so much the better for them. Plus, by placing these specialty kiosks in areas that might be traditionally under-utilized (the lobby, for instance), they can become popular destination locations. Of course, there are new technological innovations as well. In-room, on-screen menus allow guests to order from any restaurant on the property, and some hotels are partnering with delivery companies that make it possible for guests to order food from any restaurant in the area. Also, many hotels are implementing in-room, voice-activated devices, so ordering food via an AI-powered assistant will soon become mainstream as well. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these developments and document what some leading hotels are doing to expand this area of their business.