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  • New Global Directors Join the 2018-2019 HFTP Board

    The HFTP 2018-2019 Global Board of Directors was installed during the association's 2018 Annual Convention and introduces new directors Toni Bau, Carson Booth, CHTP and Mark Fancourt. These extensive director profiles give insight into the distinguished professions and personal goals of HFTP's newest association leaders.

  • HITEC Special: Does EU GDPR Affect U.S. Hospitality Companies?

    By Alvaro Hidalgo. The EU General Data Protection Regulation has set a path towards protecting personal data which many other countries will follow. In a global industry such as hospitality, it should be a primary objective to take the steps towards compliance.

  • HFTP Report: Hospitality Data Security — Strategy for Data Protection and Regulation Compliance

    This guide from Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP(R)) covers safeguards that can be implemented in hospitality businesses today, tips on how to continuously improve security and data regulation compliance.

  • HFTP GDPR Guidelines: Privacy Policies for Hotels

    This document offers points to consider in the development of a hotel’s privacy policy. In view of the multiple organisational and legal structures under which hotels operate, as well as the complexity of the third party landscape that may be part of the complete guest experience, this document serves as a guideline only.

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dailypoint Launches New Patent-Pending Data Cleansing Product

Toedt, Dr. Selk & Coll. GmbH ·19 February 2019
dailypoint's fully automated, AI-based process includes hundreds of steps, reviewing all key data points within the guest profile. It removes duplicate profiles, corrects mistakes made from human errors, corrects addresses for more than 240 countries and ultimately creates one single, accurate guest profile for each guest. This data is stored in dailypoint's central data management solution as well as pushed to the hotel's PMS so that data is accurate across all key sources."In an analysis of 4 million guest profiles and 4.5 million stays, we found that hotels have 2.3 profiles for their most loyal guests in the PMS alone. And, 14% of their guests had more than four profiles. With so many inaccuracies, it is nearly impossible for hotels to understand their business, market to their most loyal customers, and comply with GDPR regulations," said Dr. Michael Toedt, Chief Executive Officer, at dailypoint. "Our goal is to help hotels minimize these errors so that they can better run their businesses."More than 500 hotels are already using the service and have seen a 7% reduction in redundant guest profiles. The service pairs seamlessly with dailypoint's CRM, where, once the data is cleaned, dailypoint creates guest interests and preferences based on the consolidated data sources like PMS data, the hotel website, email newsletter, guest questionnaires and many others.Hotels interested in this service can get in touch for a demo here or can schedule a meeting to meet dailypoint at ITB by following this link.
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Are travel companies ready for the digital revolution?

EyeforTravel ·18 February 2019
According to the World Economic Forum, digitisation in the aviation, travel and tourism industries is expected to create up to USD305 billion in value through increased profitability up to 2025. This should make digitisation a key priority for the travel industry, however, achieving a strong platform to do so is proving difficult for travel brands. This is one of the findings from the new Understanding Customer Behaviour Through Demand-Based Analytics white paper from EyeforTravel and Datumize, which is free to download now.In a major survey of the industry featured in the white paper, travel suppliers (accommodation, car hire, cruise, ground transport, airlines & tour operators) said that their greatest internal issue is digital transformation (34.4% of respondents). This is followed by technological alignment (30.5%) and the perennial concern of data siloes and internal data quality (29%), both of which are critical to achieving a digital brand fit for the 21st Century."Our data and the industry interviews conducted for this white paper suggests that a significant proportion of the travel industry is struggling to construct the necessary infrastructure to create strong digital brands," said Alex Hadwick, Head of Research for EyeforTravel. "Stringent data practices increasingly underpin the modern travel sector, which is emphasised by our finding that the most important trend for travel suppliers right now is GDPR and cyber security, followed by big data and analytics. There is huge value to be unlocked but brands need to get the basics right first by complying with regulations, creating secure, structured and accessible databases and measuring the right metrics."The research recommends that brands move data into the cloud and focus on getting a picture of total demand. This is the approach of hotel giant IHG: "Before we had a big data platform, we weren't able to store and analyze our availability requests," said Jeff Garber, vice president of revenue management systems at IHG during the EyeforTravel 2018 Digital Data Europe conference. "We had a lot of information about reservations, and customers that had made reservations. As we bring more data into that big data platform, we can really understand the choice model. Our next step is merchandising and being smarter about what people aren't buying so that we can reduce the clutter we are showing to them."Demand-based analytics promise a step-change in travel brands' capabilities, unlocking huge insights that will allow brands to better target consumers, build superior products and adjust faster to changing patterns. To understand how to unlock the value contained in demand-based data, download the Understanding Customer Behavior Through Demand-Based Analytics white paper now! It includes:Real-world examples and case studiesIndustry survey dataData-based techniques and areas of focus that can improve business performance immediatelyExpert insight.This white paper features insights from:EuropcarIHGThe Travel CorporationThomas Cook Hotels & ResortsVuelingClick here to download your copy of the white paper for free!

GDPRapp Solves GDPR Risk Exposure for Hospitality

Hotel F&B· 1 February 2019
dramds.com ltd., a British technology company, said it offers same-day deployments and immediate GDPR compliance with its GDPRapp. GDPRapp is a new solution of mobile apps that work on all mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Deployment across a corporate network can take as little as three (3) hours depending only on whether the customer has a bespoke list of risk and controls.

The Top 7 Hospitality Trends Every Hotelier Should Watch in 2019

The Rainmaker Group ·30 January 2019
Last year proved to be a strong one for the U.S. hotel industry, with occupancy, average daily rate (ADR), and revenue per available room (RevPAR) all trending positively. For 2019, STR and Tourism Economics1 optimistically project another year of growth. Changes in supply, however, will impact local market occupancy levels and hoteliers' pricing power, with many hotels experiencing more intense competition among key guest segments. To maintain profit margins, and stay ahead of the curve, consider your business in light of these top seven hospitality trends.Appealing to Next-Gen Travelers In 2019, we'll see increasing focus on Millennial (Generation Y) travel trends, as Millennials overtake Boomers2 in population this year. Historically, the travel industry has treated business and leisure travelers as two distinct entities. But Millennials - who are expected to account for nearly half of all business travel spending by 20203 - are more likely to extend a business trip into a leisure vacation (bleisure). And adventure-seeking Millennials have championed the burgeoning "experience economy," valuing unique, cultural experiences over material possessions.4Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2000 depending on which source you use) are coming up hot on the Millennial's heels when it comes to desire for changes in travel. While both generations share many similarities, one key difference between Gen Zers and Millennials is their desire for security. Having grown up during the Great Recession, Generation Z tends to be more pragmatic and fiscally responsible when it comes to travel.Hotels can attract more Generation Y and Z customers in 2019 by offering off-the-beaten-path activities and opportunities to interact with locals, all the while incorporating incentives and discounts that appeal to their budgets. When it comes to F&B,5 both generations favor communal dining tables and organic, locally sourced dishes over fancy fare. And they're connected 24/7, with technology influencing how they shop and pay for travel. So, conveniences like mobile check-in and chatbots that provide instant answers to questions are increasingly important. Personalization 2.0In a move that mirrors the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), last summer the California legislature passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)8 which goes into effect at the start of 2020. The new law will affect the state's privacy landscape in terms of personal data collection. And is likely to create an impact that will spread across the entire country.Despite this however, the demand for greater personalization, or hyper-personalization, is increasing. With the vast majority of travelers willing to share personal information and preferences in return for greater convenience and personal touches. And many are willing to pay a premium10 for those personalized services. A survey by IBM Global Business Services9 revealed that more than 70 percent of hotel guests report positive experiences with personalization.To achieve hyper-personalization, hotels must devote resources to harnessing the power of data, collecting and analyzing information at every customer touchpoint from your proprietary website to social media. Cloud-based solutions unify that information across technology platforms, giving you actionable insights into ways you can tailor individual guest experiences that will drive repeat business and increase revenues. As an example, perhaps a repeat business traveler routinely declines your parking option. Advanced systems can detect this behavior pattern and replace it with a more relevant offer, such as round-trip shuttle service or a drink voucher in the hotel lounge.Reinvented Loyalty ProgramsLoyalty programs are popular with Millennial6 and non-Millennial travelers alike, with about half of all U.S. leisure travelers7 now belonging to one. Today's travelers are demanding more flexibility in their loyalty program experience. Not everyone wants a discount or complimentary night's stay as a reward. A change we'll see in 2019 is a move away from the points-only reward system.You can increase guest satisfaction and on-property spend by making points liquid and spendable anywhere within your brand experience. This may include guests using points for a spa treatment, restaurant meal, or in the gift shop. Reimagined programs are also offering experiential rewards, such as tickets to live events, wine tastings, or exclusive activities. A deep understanding of your customers will help you determine which rewards speak most effectively to them, allowing you to forge deeper connections and adding greater value to their stays.Integration over IsolationIn the past, revenue strategy, sales, and marketing have functioned in isolation. Each with their own goals, technology solutions, and customer databases. Their efforts were rarely aligned, with each using different data sets to develop marketing strategies and make key pricing decisions. The result was missed revenue opportunities, less effective direct marketing, and lower profitability.Throughout 2019, we'll see a convergence of revenue strategy, sales, and marketing into one cohesive revenue-generation team, working in coordination to acquire, engage, and retain guests. Integrated technology solutions, particularly those utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze Big Data, will help increase hotel profitability by enabling cross-functional alignment and generating a single customer profile. One that takes into account detailed information like past preferences, reason for travel, length of stay, and booking behavior.Total Revenue OptimizationAnother trend that's emerging, is total revenue optimization that takes the full lifetime value of guests into account. Hotels are applying revenue optimization strategies to all hotel profit centers, going beyond a pure rooms focus to include F&B outlets, ancillary revenue sources, and conferencing spaces. In addition, hotels are becoming more strategic with group bookings. New tools have emerged that allow sales to quickly and accurately evaluate group business. Systems instantly generate optimized pricing, allowing hotels to close more deals while maximizing groups and meetings total revenue.Social Media Matters In the evolving world of digital marketing, hoteliers cannot afford to ignore the tweets, Instagram pictures, and Facebook posts that now define the social media domain. Millennials in particular are extremely active on social media, with 91 percent trusting online reviews11 as much as they would a personal recommendation.Reputation management and having an active social media presence are crucial for your business success in 2019, with 49 percent of leisure guests, and 43 percent of business guests,12 regularly sharing views about their most recent travel experiences on social media. Hotels can engage with guests on social media, obtaining a gold mine of guest preference information and post-trip feedback. In addition, effective and free advertising in the form of user-generated content (UGC) will continue to grow. Hotels are even creating "Instagram-worthy" scenes on property to encourage photographs.Sharing Economy Impact Disruption caused by the rise of the "sharing economy," has reshaped the behavior of travelers. Guests appreciate platforms like Airbnb for their personalized approach, authenticity, and uniqueness. And with 68 percent of travelers13 seeing no noticeable difference between hotel chains, hoteliers have their work cut out for them.Brands seeking to compete effectively with alternative accommodation sites are updating room decor with distinctive, local touches. And transforming lobbies into relaxing coffee shop-style settings that speak to the desires of today's travelers for combination co-working/socializing spaces. Furthermore, on the revenue strategy side, hotel managers are capturing more market share by accessing granular data and leveraging analytics in order to understand market penetration, pricing, and the dynamics around elasticity associated with these platforms.This year is poised to be an action-packed one for the hotel industry, filled with new challenges and changes. By understanding and embracing these trends that are steadily transforming the industry - and putting the right tools and systems in place - you'll improve guest experiences, enhance your reputation, and optimize your revenue in 2019 and beyond.

Current Hotel CRMs May Be Doing More Harm Than Good

Concilio Labs, Inc. ·24 January 2019
Hotels worldwide are looking for technological advances to thrive in this competitive environment. As a result, many are turning to CRM systems to gain an advantage. Hotels are pouring millions of dollars into driving loyalty through guest engagement, but without reliable data and technology, many initiatives fail to deliver. While CRM can, at its core, represent so many things, CRM technology is the system hotels have in place to manage interactions with current and potential guests. The prioritization of building relationships is nothing new to the hospitality landscape. Hotel CRM technologies have taken many forms over the years as they evolved to meet modern demands of businesses and consumers alike.In industries where the customer is king (which is every industry), CRM acts as the integral connective tissue between brands and their consumers. Within the hospitality industry specifically, it seems we have been talking about and investing in creating a 360-degree view of the guest for decades. However, the unpleasant truth is that most of the legacy systems achieve the opposite impact. They create independent silos of data that hinder growth, rather than creating a cohesive and whole picture of the guest profile in an actionable way. Although CRM technology has the potential to positively transform your offering, it also has the capacity to harm your operational model if the tool fails to meet rising industry standards. Are current hotel CRMs doing more harm than good? The short answer is quite possibly, yes.While customer relationship management seems to be a simple concept, it's a complex process, particularly given the ever-evolving number of channels and systems that contribute to guest experience and data today. Relying on basic demographic data or guest history is no longer enough to connect to the modern traveler. With credit to social media, hoteliers have a new array of sources to obtain guest data from, and forge unique guest relationships. Social media platforms also act as preferred channels of expression, meaning they offer valuable insight into personal preferences and more (who each guest is, why they stay at a hotel, booking behaviors, social influence, reviews, etc.). This means a truly effective CRM technology must offer the capacity to access data from disparate and growing sources and make the insights available in a user-friendly way. When hoteliers learn about their guests, they should anticipate their guests' needs and fulfill them. Otherwise, hoteliers fall victim to incomplete/improper segmentation and lose the ability to properly understand guests that offer the most value to their hotel or provide relevant and personalized marketing and context. Effectively, by using most antiquated CRMs, hoteliers miss out on vital aspects of the guest experience and conversation.It is also important for CRM systems to consistently and automatically update information, to ensure hoteliers aren't relying on outdated data to inform their marketing efforts and reach guests. With accurate information at their disposal, hoteliers can then begin the process of attaching meaning to that information -- developing insight-driven strategies to effectively reach guests at the right time, through the right channel and with the right messaging. With the recent implementation of GDPR, privacy concerns are top of mind for hoteliers eager to stay within the industry's new, prescribed limitations. CRM databases cannot provide valuable data if that data is collected without explicit permissions - it's important for CRM technology to employ effective communication prompts for privacy requirements.In today's customer-centric world, one of the most essential aspects of your CRM should be its ability to integrate seamlessly with other systems, both existing and those yet to be developed. A hotel's operational model is much like an ecosystem and requires various moving parts (and technologies) to work together in alignment. If a hotelier is using their CRM platform as a standalone system, they're not only creating more work for themselves, but they aren't tapping into the potential of CRM. Data is useless without context, and the integration of other integral systems with a CRM platform provides that context and a complete picture of each guest. It's critical your CRM system can connect with your existing technology, whilst also offering a user-friendly process to ensure there is no barrier to adoption for new staff.The bottom line - CRM is a powerful piece of software for any hotel. You can use it to correctly segment your guests in order to market your property, upsell products and services, and engage with new and existing guests. Just make sure you choose to move past traditional CRM systems to a product that allows your property to holistically view the true portrait of a guest - across all channels - and to engage with them in the right place, at the right moment, to drive both connection and conversion.

Do US Consumers Want GDPR-Like Data Protection Rights?

Hotel Online·24 January 2019
Most consumers in the United States would welcome personal data protection rights similar to those established last year by the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), according to recent research from SAS.
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Vizergy Closes Out Record-Breaking Year With Numerous Platform Enhancements

Vizergy ·22 January 2019
Vizergy, the hospitality industry's leading provider in digital marketing software solutions, continues to invest in its best-in-class Vizergy Marketing System (VMS) platform.In 2018, Vizergy launched numerous upgrades to the functionality and connectivity of its marketing system, the VMS, to better position its client base for online success. The VMS is a robust client portal that allows a hotelier to access key data points and performance metrics to help them make better marketing decisions, understand competitive opportunities, and take timely action to capture more direct bookings. It is currently used by more than 1700 Vizergy clients and is the lifeblood of their digital marketing management efforts.The platform contains layered functionality that pulls together Vizergy's proprietary Content Management System with Adobe Analytics, Google My Business, IBM Watson, and several other platform integrations. The VMS platform allows a hospitality marketer to seamlessly access a variety of software solutions in one managerial environment, leveraging all of them to drive the very best online results.The Vizergy Marketing System makes it easy for its clients to outperform the competition and significantly improve direct bookings. Addams England, Vizergy's Vice President of IT says, "Our clients need reliable data and learnings to really understand their online performance. We have solicited feedback from dozens of users in 2018 and adjusted our VMS development roadmap to meet their needs. We've improved upon what was considered the first and best client portal in our competitive space and made it even better."Vizergy's Director of Client Marketing Services, Ross McAlpine, says, "having all of our client's information in one place, and having actionable insights to help them do what's most important: drive online bookings, is what sets Vizergy apart from its competitors. I have seen the VMS evolve and improve every year during my tenure here with Vizergy. It is a commitment to overall quality and our client's success."Each quarter, Vizergy has diligently worked to improve their platforms and technology to remain ahead of the competition and ensure they keep their title as the leading provider of digital marketing software for the hospitality industry. Take a look back at the platform improvements made over the last year.Q1Vizergy releases the TargetingHub data platformCampaign Detail - Lifetime ReportDistance from Location and Cookie Personalization RulesQ2TargetingHub Export Guest Feature EnhancementVMS - Reply to Google My Business ReviewsGeneral Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)Embedded Google MapsCustom 404 PageADA Compliance OptimizationQ3TargetingHub ROI ReportingCanonical Tags Now Use Absolute URLsTwo-Factor AuthenticationNew Modal Popup Premium WidgetPassword Reset Process ImprovementsColors & Styles Feature & Site Cloning EnhancementQ4New Site Templates: Cosmos & EquinoxBrowser Scan Feature to scan websitesCalendar Widget UpdatesGoogle My Business EnhancementLeading into 2019, Vizergy is projected to focus their efforts on data platforms. To view full details on the VMS enhancements made in the past year, request a copy at results@vizergy.com.

9 Email Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019

MDG Advertising ·21 January 2019
Email is amazing.While it doesn't tend to get the same buzz as channels such as social media, email quietly delivers extraordinarily impressive results for marketers year after year.Just how impressive?Email has a median ROI of 122%, more than four times higher than any other digital marketing format.Email is nearly 40 times more effective than social channels in helping brands acquire new customers.Marketers rank email as the channel that has the best combination of effectiveness and ease.Email marketing has been steadily effective for so long that an important fact about it is often overlooked: it's still evolving.From the platforms that power campaigns to the ways consumers consume messages, email is undergoing profound changes.What are some of these shifts? Which innovations and changes in behavior could have a big impact on the field in the next 12 months? Here are nine key email marketing trends we believe every brand should keep a close eye on in 2019:1. The Ever-Growing Importance of DesignEmail began as a purely text-based channel and that has often continued to be the primary focus. Traditionally, marketers have paid some attention to things like headers and images, but the bulk effort has gone towards developing good copy.Finally, that's starting to change. Brands have begun to realize that effective campaigns are as much about the visuals as the words, and they are starting to focus on design elements such as icons, illustrations, and button colors. Expect to see even more of this in the year ahead as marketers witness increased engagement from their design efforts.2. Mobile-First Becomes a MustWhat's behind the increased focus on design? In part, the same thing that's driving many of the current changes in email marketing: the shift from desktop/laptop computers to mobile devices.Some 55% of emails are already opened on mobile devices, up from just 29% in 2012, and that share is expected to steadily grow in the coming years. In other words, email is now mobile-first and every decision that marketers make in the next 12 months (the length of messages, how they are displayed, etc.) should take that into account.3. More Video Content in EmailsIn addition to the rise of mobile, there's another broad digital trend that is impacting email marketing: the rise of video.Video is expected to make up 80% of all Internet traffic by the end of 2019; 54% of consumers want to see more video content from marketers, and audiences say they are more likely to retain marketing messages delivered via video. Combine all that with the fact that email platforms are making it easier to deliver visual pieces in campaigns, and this could be the year that more video makes it into messages.4. True Email PersonalizationFor a while email personalization was mainly superficial; marketers would "individualize" messages by simply including something like the recipients name.Thanks to more powerful marketing platforms and richer data that has started to give way to true personalization. Brands are increasingly targeting highly specific content and offers to individuals based on past and predicted behavior.This approach already yields impressive results -- 82% of marketers reportincreased open rates with rich email personalization -- and is set to become even more effective in the year ahead as tools become more sophisticated.5. The Impact of Artificial IntelligenceWhy are email marketing platforms expected to become more sophisticated in 2019? Largely because of artificial intelligence.AI is no longer something out of science fiction: the technology is now being implemented across a wide-range of areas. Concerning email specifically, artificial intelligence can already help marketers develop effective content (topics, subject lines, etc), optimize send times/frequency, and predict audience actions.That's just the tip of the iceberg. AI is evolving rapidly and there should be many more real-world applications coming for email marketers in the year ahead.6. The Increased Use of Triggered EmailsTriggered emails -- messages delivered only when an individual has taken a certain action such as subscribing, abandoning a shopping cart, etc,. -- have a 71% higher average open rate and 102% higher average click-through rate compared with general newsletters.Those numbers are driven by the fact that marketers tend to have greater insight into intent when it comes to triggered emails (what the individual did/wants/etc.) and can deliver more relevant messaging. That effectiveness, and the fact that audiences tend to be less annoyed by triggered emails, is a strong argument for their increased use in 2019.7. More Interactivity in Email CampaignsHere's a simple fact that marketers often forget: emails can be interactive.All too often, campaigns are thought of as being static rather than dynamic. Today, though, marketing platforms make it possible to add a host of interactive elements to emails, such as image carousels, hamburger menus, clickable hotspots, and navigational anchor tags.There are also other more simple tactics marketers can utilize to enable audiences to engage with messages, such as including a 'reply to us' option for recipients. At minimum, brands should consider experimenting with this sort of basic interactivity to boost engagement in 2019.8. Respecting Privacy and Data Rights Will Remain CriticalThe biggest email story of the past year was the GDPR. The regulations adopted by the EU put in place strict controls on how marketers can collect/use data and gave consumers much more control over their personal information. Suddenly, many of the approaches brands had taken for years, such as buying email lists, became questionable.While the GDPR concerned European citizens, it was by no means an isolated event. Consumers across the world are deeply concerned about how brands are using their data and the issue is certain to remain at the forefront for years to come. Case in point: the California Consumer Privacy Act goes into effect in 2020 and will impact US email marketers in similar ways to the GDPR.9. The Need for a Unique VoiceEvery day individuals and businesses send more than 293 billion emails, and that number is expected to increase to more than 333 billion by 2022.In other words, consumers' inboxes are flooded with messages.How do you break through that noise to get your campaigns opened and read? In part, through some of the approaches already discussed: utilizing personalization to deliver highly relevant content, sending messages based on triggered actions, and optimizing subject lines with AI.There's also another way to stand out: by having a unique voice. That may sound like a little thing, but it's hugely important. Developing a distinct tone gives marketers a big advantage when it comes to email; it makes messages different and instantly recognizable to audiences.Of course, the need for a unique voice is nothing new -- it's been important since the advent of marketing. That highlights yet another thing that makes email amazing: it's the perfect blend of old-school and new-school. Ultimately, it is the best of both worlds. It is a channel that remains very familiar to brands while also integrating the latest digital advances.

Major Trends to Watch for at HSMAI NY Conference

Go Moment ·17 January 2019
As I think about what to get excited about at HSMAI's Digital Marketing Strategy Conference 2019 taking place later this month in New York, the fast-evolving guest experience comes to mind. And, of course, hotel guest experience in 2019 will be enabled by more and better technologies. Here's what I see trending:The Impact of Voice-Enabled Intelligent AssistantsSmartphones already come with voice-activated assistance built-in. Amazon recently revealed it had sold over 100 million Alexa-enabled devices. Google announced that 1 Billion devices support its Assistant product. This news validates that people are not only getting used to giving voice commands to their phones but that they want to control everything with their voice. "By 2022, Juniper Research predicts that Americans will be using nearly 900 million voice-assistant-enabled devices across smartphones, tablets, PCs, speakers, TVs and cars, a 95% increase over today," writes NPR's CMO Meg Goldthwaite in Ad Age.Think about the implications of this. Consumer adoption of AI has finally reached a tipping point. People's behaviors and expectations of technology-enablement are changing once again, especially when the technology - voice-activation -- is so easy to use that it doesn't feel "techie" at all. Google's data shows that 70% of Google Assistant requests are expressed in natural language and that one in three people globally will use digital assistants to search for and book travel. In fact, just this week, Google announced that it had added hotel booking and flight check-in for U.S. users of Google Assistant. According to Phocuswright, as many as 35% of those age 18 - 34 and 28% of 35 - 54-year-olds are already using smartphone digital assistants to book their hotels.What guests are already doing with their smartphones and in-home devices, they also want to do in their hotel rooms. As early as 2016, Aloft hotels started integrating Siri voice-activation into their rooms. By May 2018, Microsoft's voice assistant Cortana had a working integration with Alexa-enabled devices, and in June 2018, Amazon launched Alexa for Hospitality with Marriott onboard -- guests can use their in-room Alexa to personalize their experiences and request hotel services. Hyatt and Google also just teamed up to bring Assistant to more hotel rooms. And at this month's massive CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, voice tech was everywhere: from trash disposals and other household appliances to cars, televisions, and shower systems to name a few. Voice is where it's at: when a trend proliferates at CES, we all better pay attention.Innovative Technologies Will Continue to Disrupt HospitalityWhen I think of hospitality disruption, my Top Three are artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), the Internet of Things, and voice. I just covered voice, so let's discuss the other two. I recently wrote a piece, "A Guest-Centric Future Powered by AI," in which I described how AI works and how it can be used to automate and simplify many of the rote volume tasks that hotels have to contend with every day. These days, guests value their experience above all else. AI can also be used to improve guest experiences by anticipating and delivering useful content, extracting useful guest feedback, and drastically expediting service.Because the programs informed by AI are capable of improving over time, they can continue to improve the speed, quality, and relevancy of guest communications. This learning power makes AI an incredible tool for accelerating predictive analysis and decision-making. Think of all the various decisions hotel management contends with on a routine basis. Decisions about pricing and revenue optimization, inventory management, marketing, staffing, guest services and more. Then imagine having the hard, predictive work already done. Management can make decisions faster, or, in some cases, have decisions fully automated and already put into action. AI even learns from and avoids the repeating of bad decisions, something that's sometimes hard to teach to its human counterparts.When it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) and its application in hospitality, I've already referenced the emerging appearance of intelligent assistants in hotels. Connected devices guests already use at home and in their own lives -- smart thermostats and room lighting, smartwatches and fitness monitors, mobile-activated keyless entry, wireless headsets, smart TVs, even medical and safety alert devices - are also beginning to be offered at hotels. Hotels are also concepting useful IoT that guests might want but which they do not find at home -- things that will further surprise and delight them: A wall-length smart mirror in front of which they can do their morning core-toning regime and on which their vital signs appear. A projected keyboard that turns the in-room smart TV into a fully-functioning work station without the guest having to lug a laptop on vacation. A smart wine dispenser that pours a perfect glass of wine that's ready by the time the guest merely opens the door. This is the kind of enhanced hotel stay future we can expect with IoT.Advancing personalization while managing consumer trust and GDPR Personalization has been an elusive holy grail for the travel industry. What guest wouldn't want an experience that wasn't completely and perfectly customized for them, right? The problem is that this kind of perfect personalization is still nearly impossible to pull off. There are too many disparate data sources, too many duplicative guest records, and guests are not yet ready to willingly part with all of their data in order to get the kind of personalization that we all imagine they want. Layer on top of this the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and very public data breaches like the one Marriott revealed late last year and delivering this kind of optimized personalization becomes even more of a challenge. The industry has to contend with both technical and consumer trust issues. Look for this to be a hot topic for both marketing and hotel operations.As we look at the year ahead, it's clear to see that the mounting pressure to provide extraordinary guest experiences will continue to force hospitality marketing and operations closer and closer together. As hoteliers continue to adopt and adapt to new technologies, they'll be challenged to do so at an ever-faster pace. It makes for an interesting landscape, with a select few players having actually elevated the guest experience for tens of millions of guests. The interesting question to ponder at HSMAI may be, who will deliver a fully-connected and seamless guest experience to one billion guests first?
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Milestone to Present at 3 Free Workshop Sessions at HSMAI New York

Milestone Internet Marketing ·17 January 2019
Silicon Valley, CA - Milestone, Inc. announced today that it will be hosting three free digital marketing-focused workshops for hotels at the upcoming HSMAI Digital Marketing Conference in New York. The sessions will be held Tuesday, January 22 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. Interested Hoteliers can register by visiting the dedicated site at https://www.hsmai.org/DigitalPreCon.Milestone will provide in-depth training on three critical topics that are of high interest to digital marketers in 2019:Digital Competitive Benchmarking: Using digital competitive analysis and data analytics to develop your marketing plans This session will provide insights into how to optimize your hotel keyword strategy for both organic and paid marketing, and how to leverage the latest technology to put your keyword strategy in the larger context of your marketing strategy by analyzing your keyword performance against top local competitors.In this workshop Milestone will provide you with direct actionable ideas on how to benchmark your digital marketing performance against top local competitors in order to grow your direct business and win market share:What digital benchmarking is and why it matters to your HotelWhat the key areas of digital marketing are that you need to benchmarkKPIs that you should track and manageOmnichannel Messaging: What does the future of content creation & distribution look like?In this session, Milestone will discuss how you can create a unified content distribution strategy by leveraging the latest technology available to digital marketers.In this workshop, Milestone will cover the definition of omnichannel messaging, share insights into how digital marketers work with omni channel messaging and discuss strategies and tools you can use to manage your digital marketing messaging:Learn about digital marketing messaging and the challenges faced by marketersSee strategies that can be implementedLearn about new tools that can help consolidate your digital marketing messagingYour Website on Steroids: Next generation website technologies for 2019 and beyondWhat are the next big shifts in website technology? How does voice-search impact how you build your website? How will your website content be impacted by these new technologies? And how do you ensure that all the new technologies that are becoming critical keep you in check with compliance issues like ADA and GDPR? Join Milestone as we discuss the shifts in website technology that we see in 2019 - and beyond - and how they will fit into the larger ecosystem of your modern website.In this workshop, co-presented by Anne Stingle, VP of Sales & Marketing at Triumph Hotels, you will get insights into the technologies that you need to drive direct bookings and see how they were implemented in a real-life example:Learn about the impact of voice search on your business and what you can do to prepareUnderstand the role of ADA & GDPR in your website strategySee a case study about website design & technology and how it impacted the hotelRegister for free now: https://www.hsmai.org/DigitalPreConAbout MilestoneFor over 20 years, Milestone has been a leading provider of digital marketing software and services for location-based businesses. Over 2,000 companies in Hospitality, Retail, Financial Services and Automotive industries rely on Milestone to power their digital marketing strategies. Milestone has garnered over 500 awards, has been short listed 3 consecutive years for the US Search awards and won Search Engine Land's prestigious "Best overall SEO-SEM campaign" in 2018. Milestone has gained a reputation for blending outstanding digital marketing expertise with advanced technological capabilities and is one of Silicon Valley Business Journal's fastest growing companies and an Inc. 5,000 company.
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Revinate Ends 2018 with Strong Company Growth and Innovation

Revinate, Inc. · 3 January 2019
In 2018, Revinate made significant investments in product and engineering, hiring Jason Standiford as VP of Engineering and promoting Dan Hang from Chief Product Officer to President and Chief Operating Officer. The team hit a major milestone by moving all its products to Amazon Web Services, bringing exceptional global performance, security, scalability, and pace of innovation. The company also made an early and strong commitment to the GDPR, building the necessary tools into its products and educating customers on the new policies.Major updates were made to Revinate Guest Feedback, including Department Scores, Segmented Surveys, Survey Sentiment Analysis, and a refreshed mobile app to help hoteliers on the go. Enhancements to Revinate Marketing included the release of Database Insights, the Image Library, Guest Preferences, Advanced Upsell Reporting, and Benchmark Reporting. Finally, Revinate launched a full suite of group-level functionalities, empowering corporate marketing leaders to easily manage, measure, and optimize performance.In 2018, Revinate announced a partnership with Duetto to enhance the power of Revinate Marketing. Now, joint customers can use Duetto's platform and its Open Pricing application, GameChanger, to dynamically price upsells and upgrades driven through Revinate Marketing. The real-time pricing solution enables personalized offers to maximize conversion and revenue.Finally, the company made executive leadership changes this year to recognize strong performance and better align the team with strategic objectives for 2019. In addition to the hiring of Standiford and promotion of Hang, Karen Stephens was promoted from VP of Customer Success to Chief Revenue Officer and Rani Croshal was promoted from Senior Director of Customer Success to VP of Customer Success. In addition, Kelly Robb was promoted from Senior Director of Marketing & Growth to VP of Marketing & Growth.Revinate's Co-Founder and CEO Marc Heyneker says, "In 2018, we continued to deliver on our promise of being first in the industry for innovation and customer service. I am thrilled with how we ended the year and am looking forward to another record-breaking year in 2019."Today, hoteliers in more than 135 countries use Revinate to manage guest feedback and guest marketing. They are supported by a global Customer Success team that provides 24/7 service and speaks more than 20 languages to provide the best support in the industry. Customers rank Revinate as the #1 CRM and Email Marketing Solution on Hotel Tech Report.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: A 2018 Hotel Marketing Review

Tambourine · 2 January 2019
The Good:1. The digital counterattack is well underwayIt's taken years of investment and work, but hotel marketers are now rapidly catching up with the digital savvy of the OTAs. The digital counterattack is well underway. In 2018 we saw more hotel marketers than ever before deploying more efficient digital marketing campaigns, create streamlined booking experiences, closed-group loyalty rates, e-check in systems, elevated app experiences, CRM campaigns, RMS automation and powerful guest personalization, among many other initiatives. In the quest to retake control of revenues from third parties, hotel marketers came a long way in 2018!2. Revenue accountability2018 saw more and more hotel and resort marketers are embracing personal quotas for KPIs like lead generation, revenue, and direct bookings. Quantifying marketing performance in this way is actually a help rather than a hindrance: This method comes in handy when communicating performance to owners and asset managers in a meaningful way, and also helps the marketer request higher compensation based on real performance metrics.3. A strong economyThe solid performance of the U.S. economy in 2018 has continued to help maintain lodging industry results at near record levels, leading to surging KPIs across the board and robust demand levels in a host of market segments. Smart hotel marketers have been using this period to their advantage, convincing optimistic owners to reinvest in their properties and marketing campaigns, while courting demand sectors that have been increasingly active, like meetings/group/SMERF business.4. Cross-departmental cooperationIn some organizations, there are still legacy walls dividing the marketing, sales, and revenue management departments, when optimally, these three players on the sales and marketing team should be working together closely to execute their goals. However, 2018 saw many of those walls breached or eliminated altogether. Cross-departmental cooperation became a buzzworthy concept as sophisticated hoteliers pushed hard for innovation amidst record ADRs and occupancy levels.5. PersonalizationAlthough recent data privacy events threaten to derail it... one of the most important positive trends of 2018 was the move towards greater marketing personalization of the guest journey, especially personalized hotel email marketing that targets customers with pinpoint precision. As hotel marketing technology becomes more affordable and integrated, hotels know more about who's looking, booking and bouncing than ever before. With this robust "big data," more and more hotels are personalizing and optimizing offers email campaigns, dynamic website content and pricing.And the rewards are huge: Accenture found that 58 percent of consumers would switch one-half or more of their spending to a provider that excels at personalizing experiences without compromising trust.Website personalization tech has become more mainstream, enabling hotels to trigger custom promotional offers for guests with recognizable past purchase behavior6. The arrival of social advertisingThis past year, hotel advertising on social media continued to grow as an effective and budget-friendly means of conducting promotions and branding initiatives, especially in cases where pricing for Google PPC ads through Google AdWords isn't always an affordable option. Social advertising in tandem on Facebook and Instagram has proven particularly potent and can be a great help to marketers looking to fill their hotel during slow periods where there are gaps in demand.7. Actionable dataAlthough hoteliers have been gathering guest data for some time, 2018 was the year hotel marketers truly began to analyze and utilize that data. Guest data is the essential ingredient for crafting segmented campaigns (see #4 above) and improving service. Smart hotel marketers are now using data from numerous hotel systems (ie PMS, CRM, POS, hotel CRS and booking engine, social media channels, etc) to activate touchpoints that improve marketing messages and the on-property guest experience. Some hotel marketers took data aggregated from "social listening" even further in 2018.... compiling guest review data and sentiment analysis to prompt owners to make sorely needed upgrades and investments. 8. The emergence of MetasearchWhile many argue that rate parity and OTA dominance reduces the value of metasearch sites, players like Kayak, Google, TripAdvisor, and Trivago have a powerful consumer perception as one-stop shops to check desired travel dates, read reviews and compare prices between different booking channels (including the OTAs). For hotel marketers pushing direct rates, metasearch sites have become a positive channel enabling them to increase visibility, lower cost per booking, own and guest reservation data.9. SPAC gets on track...One of the main elements of the digital counterattack (see #1 above) that occurred in 2018: smart hotel marketers learned the value of SPAC: Simultaneous Promotion Across All Channels, which keeps timely promotions uniform, clear and consistent for the customer. Launching the same promo on every channel at the same time creates comfort and avoids the confusion that arises when guests see a variety of offers out there for the same rooms at your hotel. While inconsistency causes mental discomfort and may prompt a potential guest to look elsewhere.10. UGC widely adoptedOne of the net effects of the rise of social media has been the increased importance of user-generated content such as photos and video, which is perceived and more authentic and reputable in the eyes of users than the stock imagery and contrived content many hotels still post. So instead of operating separately in their own social media world, in 2018 smart hotel marketers spent more time than ever working to source user-generated content. Consumers no longer trust advertising... they trust each other. As an article in Ad Age so aptly put it: "Your brand is defined by the interactions people have with it." User-generated content (UGC), especially photos, videos and posts about on-property experiences are more authentic, less sales focused... and let's face it, more creative than anything you could ever dream up yourself.The Bad:1. The wild west of social media "influencers"In 2018, hotel marketers handled countless requests for comp rooms, meals, drinks and more from self-professed social media "influencers," promising to promote the property to the influencer's "followers." While some of these inquiries can lead to valuable returns, many others do not, which is why in 2019, hotel marketers need to thoroughly validate influencer marketing opportunities before proceeding. Key metrics like user engagement can be illuminating for this process.Hotel social media execs were besieged by inbound requests for free rooms from social media influencers2. The stress of excess tech and vendorsLike many other sectors before it, the hotel industry is now besieged by technology, tools and vendors purporting to revolutionize the guest experience and become the must-have asset you need to attract more guests. While this may sometimes be true, it's easy to lose focus while perpetually chasing these dangling techno-carrots, so be sure any time and/or money invested to this end is truly in line with your marketing goals and guest profile. The more vendors a hotel uses, the more difficult integration becomes between systems and the less efficient all related processes become. Working with one, or at least a smaller group, of vendors that can offer a range of solutions will help with integration, boost accountability for each vendor and save the time that would typically be spent coordinating and communicating among all the various vendors. Moving into 2019, it's time to simplify and optimize.3. The agony of ROI attributionMeasuring key KPIs and utilizing data analytics is harder than ever for hotel marketers. There's lots of data, but more data often means more complexity, for example: how do digital marketers calculate ROI when consumers use multiple devices? Instead of eyeing metrics like bounce rate, online page views and social media followers, savvy hotel marketers are embracing new KPIs like marketing cost per booking (MCPB), direct revenue ratio (DRR), website conversion rate and variance from revenue target. These emerging KPIs highlight marketing-specific performance and align marketing's efforts with the overall success of the property.4. Recruiting nightmaresAttracting strong digital talent plays an essential role in the success of a hotel marketing team, yet hotel marketing executives are having increasing difficulties with recruiting efforts, particularly among millennials. The dilemma is partly due to comparatively lower compensation levels, versus the strong demand for digital talent in all industries, as well as a perceived lack of innovation in hospitality that makes other opportunities--like Silicon Valley, for example--seem all the more exciting. Don't settle, either; be sure your hotel digital marketing team deeply understands the hotel experience and booking process.5. Pulling teeth for product upgrades No matter how brilliant a hotel marketer may be, they can only go so far if they are saddled with an inferior product to promote. Or, as one genius executive said: "Advertising is the tax for an unremarkable product."Truly, there's no substitute for a compelling product and marketers continued to struggle this past year to convince owners to make a commitment to keeping their properties up to the level of the compset and new supply. To get an owner onboard this year for needed upgrades, be sure to show them recent reviews where customers discuss the need for these renovations. The Ugly:1. OTAs continued dominanceDespite major investment and emphasis by large players like Marriott and Hilton, almost every credible industry analyst reports little to no erosion in OTA penetration of overall hotel revenue (See chart below from Phocuswright). There are myriad reasons for this troubling issue, including: OTA marketing power, lack of consumer loyalty, consumer perception of OTAs as lowest price provider, hotelier failure to differentiate, hotel marketer apathy and hotel owners with short-term "flip" mentalities who refuse to invest in building a long-term direct guest flow. Hotels would be wise to deploy direct booking campaigns that are proven to work. And fight back with anti-OTA messages with real teeth...2. The rising cost of guest acquisitionWhile the cost of OTA revenue continued to erode margins for hoteliers, the cost of other channels also continued to rise at an alarming rate. According to a recent AHLA report, entitled: Demystifying the Digital Marketplace, "revenue retained by US hotels after paying all customer acquisition costs declined by almost .4% or $600 million... That $600M in additional cost would have contributed directly to net operating income. Using an 8% capitalization rate (which most investors require), these additional acquisition costs of $600 million reduced the asset value of the overall hotel industry by at least $7.5 billion."That's why hotel owners and asset managers are looking more closely than ever at variable marketing costs--particularly the cost of guest acquisition--which is also rising fast. According to experts, acquisition costs commonly in the range of 5% to 10% less than a decade ago have jumped to between 15% and 25%. If a hotel cannot acquire guests at a tolerable, sustainable rate, then the property is worthless as a long-term asset.There are a number of reasons why the cost of acquisition continues to spike (along with the blood pressure of some owners) including: Lack of differentiation and low conversion rates, the dominance of costly OTAs, the rising cost of advertising and the owners own short-term "flipping" mentality.3. "The Privacy Paradox"GDPR was just the beginning... 2018 was the year that hotel marketers confronted what famed venture capitalist Mary Meeker dubbed the "privacy paradox" in her annual Internet Trends report: Essentially, personalization is a profitable technological process dependent on data collection. Everyone is doing it and that draws the attention of regulators (especially when hotel giants like Marriott get hacked). So hotel marketers are facing a "privacy paradox." They're caught between using data to provide better guest experiences and pushing the envelope with consumer privacy. This intrinsic conflict between hotels, their guests and regulators will surely complicate the lives of hotel marketers going forward.

10 Trends That Will Shape Business Travel and Spend Management in 2019, and Beyond - SAP Concur

SAP Concur ·19 December 2018
As 2018 draws to a close, here's what you can expect in the coming year, and beyond:1. The risks female travelers face will rise to the top of the corporate agendaWomen make up more than 40% of all business travelers and that number is growing. Travel professionals agree that female business travelers face unique risks while traveling compared to their male counterparts, but what are they going to do about it? A recent GBTA report found that only 18% of corporate travel safety policies specifically address female safety needs. Because safety threats impact the well-being and productivity of female travelers, companies will need to place more serious emphasis on ensuring their corporate travel policies address priority female concerns such as sexual harassment, assault, and theft. At the same time, women will take the initiative to demand companies take care of them and this will become a key consideration for talent retention. - Kim Albrecht, CMO, SAP Concur2. Data privacy will fundamentally change product engineeringIn 2018, GDPR fundamentally changed how global technology companies work with user data. In 2019 and beyond, GDPR is now table stakes. Product engineers and developers are looking at how they can deliver both ultimate protection and ultimate personalization. Approaching privacy as a sliding scale vs. a simple model of opt-in or opt-out, opens the door to more possibilities for transparent data collection and machine learning. Concepts such as data washing and a privacy dial can allow users and/or their companies to increase or decrease the type of information gathered by filtering different levels of personally identifiable information. - John Dietz, VP, Concur Labs3. Shifting immigration and tax policies create new pressures on multi-national companiesIn 2019, there will be a growing focus on business travelers as a source of tax revenue, which has created new challenges for companies that send employees to conduct business across state and/or international borders. National and local governments continue to adopt complex worker-visa and cross-border tax rules in response to global trends on the movement of people and products across borders. An employee who spends a certain number of days in a calendar year in another country or state can trigger large liabilities on both the individual and the company, and potentially prevent business from being conducted.For example, in Singapore, tax and immigration authorities are collaborating to check if a business traveler may have triggered a tax requirement during their stay, sometimes leading to temporary detainment at the border. In addition, U.S. states such as New York and California are increasingly performing audits, to identify business travelers who have crossed thresholds that make them liable for income taxes. Companies can also face huge financial liabilities - sometimes in the tens of millions - for violating visa rules, and there are reputational risks when those penalties bubble up in the news. This year, there will be a bigger need than ever before for companies to navigate these complexities and make sure they, and their employees, remain compliant. - Mike Eberhard, President, SAP Concur4. SMBs will gain a competitive advantage by crowdsourcing data insights, thought leadershipTrue to my prediction, we saw technology help level the industry playing field in 2018 for SMBs, enabling them to be more powerful than ever before. In 2019, SMBs will continue to advance thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Due to their size and flexibility, SMBs will use this game-changing technology to gain a competitive edge over larger companies. They'll grow by tapping into their professional networks to learn from thought leaders as well as crowdsource data insights that once wasn't available. SMBs also will become increasingly diverse and we'll see a rise in women, minority and millennial ownership. - Christal Bemont, SVP and GM of Global SMB, SAP Concur5. Business travel booking is still a time-consuming processAccording to prior research, almost 50% of business travelers take between 30 minutes and one hour out of the working day when completing expenses, while 18% spend between one and two hours. We believe that, in the next year, technology --such as bots and machine learning (ML)--will tremendously improve employee productivity. And that's not just for travelers, but everyone involved in the process (e.g. travelers, managers, travelers arrangers, travel agents, travel managers). Some examples include:Anticipatory searches based on calendar informationPre-request approval based historical informationAutomatic classification of business vs leisure expense for trips involving both components (bleisure trips now constitute 10% of all business trips) - Nancy Hang, Vice President, Consumer Travel Products, SAP Concur6. Consumerization of business travel leads to massive shifts in OBTsOver the last 40 years, corporate travel has largely become synonymous with TMC administered booking programs (aka your company's travel agent) reliant on one of a few GDS'. But as travel tools, options, and technologies continue to rapidly evolve for leisure travelers, employees increasingly expect business travel tools to follow suit. In the next year, Online Booking Tools will embrace new content sources to drive adoption, such as Lufthansa NDC Offers, Airbnb, and HRS Hotel Portal. They must also fundamentally evolve their platforms to allow travel managers to capture all bookings, regardless of where they occur, to manage compliance and ensure their travelers are safe. - Doug Anderson, SVP Travel Product 7. Machine learning goes mainstreamA recent report by McKinsey found that while few occupations are fully automatable, 60% of all occupations have at least 30% automatable activities. However, the gains delivered by increased processing power and greater access to machine learning (ML) tools by developers will extend well beyond the automation to include unique data driven insights, greater compliance and improved user experiences. In spend management, ML models that read handwritten tips and totals on receipts will replace legacy technologies like optical character recognition giving companies the ability to analyze and audit spend at unprecedented scale and speed. With the ability to identify patterns and anomalies across millions of data records in near real-time, companies gain the insight and agility they need when improving business processes, reducing costs or deterring fraud. - Tim MacDonald, CPO, SAP Concur8. Hotel content battles heat upNDC airline content will continue to grab headlines, but even more attention and competitive effort will be devoted to hotel content. Historically the source of most managed travel program leakage, travel managers, OBTs and TMCs have long struggled to consolidate compelling hotel content that will keep travelers booking in the traditional channel. In 2019 the TMC's efforts will start to gain traction, as the likes of CWT's RoomIt and BCD's TripSource battle third-party content aggregators like HRS and Booking.com. As long as TMC's efforts are transparent and unbiased, everyone (except hotel suppliers) wins. Travel managers should see lower leakage, TMCs benefit from improved supplier revenues and OBT's generate more bookings. Hotel suppliers, unfortunately, are likely to see their distribution costs increase. - Mike Koetting, EVP of Supplier and TMC Services, SAP Concur9. Closer collaboration between CIOs and CFOs at state and local organizations will unlock fundingAcross the U.S., state and local governments have made clear strides to modernize their IT systems to overcome common challenges, drive greater efficiencies and cost savings, and meet the demands of the 21st century. In fact, the annual GovTech Navigator report shows a steady increase in IT spending among state and local governments, reaching $103 billion in 2018. Despite this commitment to investment in IT, many state and local governments still operate critical workflows using manual processes - many of which are outdated, costly and error-prone, not to mention less secure. The risks associated with these legacy systems are too big to ignore. With taxpayer dollars--and data--at stake, CIOs from states, cities, and counties will need to work cohesively with their CFO counterparts when looking to maximize their IT budgets over the next year. Focusing on making larger investments to support their automated technology projects--from cloud adoption to the deployment of AI and machine learning solutions will be critical. The collaboration fostered between CIOs and CFOs in the coming year will enable state and local governments to strike a balance between their IT budgets and their IT priorities, helping drive greater outcomes for the citizens in their communities. - David Ballard, Sr. VP Public Sector, SAP Concur10. Higher education institutions can't afford to overlook technology as a retention toolUniversity leaders are facing increased financial pressure as enrollment growth slows, and traditional classrooms are evolving into remote locations extending beyond central university campuses. As institutions work to make the most of their limited resources in the service of teaching and learning, technology can tip them over the competitive edge. Deploying more progressive technology solutions will not only streamline campus and finance operations to create cost savings, but will also solve emerging priorities, such as ensuring the safety of students and staff on and off conventional campuses in the event of an emergency. Taking proactive measures to invest in technology that clearly demonstrate their campus values can help attract the next generations of prospective students. - David Ballard, Sr. VP Public Sector, SAP Concur
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Beekeeper Reflects on its Landmark Accomplishments in 2018; New Year Looking Equally as Promising

Beekeeper USA, Inc. ·18 December 2018
San Francisco, Dec. 18, 2018 -- When you've had a banner year like Beekeeper, it's difficult to see it end. Looking back on 2018, the leading communication and employee operations platform company is seeing an impressive list of accomplishments, yet it is even more excited for what is coming in 2019. Beekeeper is one of the most talked about and recognized technology providers today due to its ability to digitize hospitality workers who don't sit behind a traditional desk and don't have access to work email. By connecting operational systems and communication channels within one secure, intuitive platform, Beekeeper is helping hoteliers exchange information, share property updates, and communicate best practices within or across departments in 30 languages.Here are just a few Beekeeper highlights from 2018:Beekeeper was named "Most Innovative Technology of 2018" by Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG); voted "People's Choice" at HITEC Houston as part of the Entrepreneur 20X Competition hosted by Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals (HFTP); and earned the "Most Innovative Hotel Technology" designation during the Tech Pitch at HX: The Hotel Experience.Beekeeper executives spoke at the following industry events: The Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), Asian American Hotel Owners Association Convention & Trade Show, Boutique Hotel Investment Conference, HITEC Amsterdam and Houston, HR in Hospitality, HT-NEXT, HX: The Hotel Experience, and New York University International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.Beekeeper was named the 59th Fastest Growing Company by SaaS 1000.1 Hotels, SIXTY Hotels, the iconic Watergate Hotel, Feather Falls Casino, Lodge & Brewing Co., and InterContinental Miami hotel chose Beekeeper to communicate more effectively with its employees.Beekeeper raised an additional $13 million in funding as a part of its Series A extension round to invest in hospitality market growth.Beekeeper became GDPR compliant and achieved ISO 27001 Certification to protect intellectual property, employee details, and information entrusted to Beekeeper by third parties. ISO certifies that Beekeeper's product and services will reduce its customers' risk significantly in the digital workplace.Beekeeper added the following companies to its growing Marketplace: ADP, BambooHR, Gustaf, Microsoft Azure, Mirus, Swisscom eAlarm, UltiPro and Workday. The company also partnered with Hapi, a disruptive data streaming, integration and enrichment platform at HITEC to create the #BeeHapiBus.Beekeeper hired Connie Rheams, named one of the most influential women in hospitality technology by HFTP, to serve as the new Vice President, Hospitality.Beekeeper continued its Bee School webinar series that brings knowledge on workplace dynamics and behavior out from behind the paywall of an MBA certificate, ensuring that managers in non-desk industries can lead their teams to unprecedented success. The series was taught by Best-Selling Author and Employee Engagement Expert Jill Christensen. The company also hosted an Employee Engagement webinar with ALICE, a hotel operations platform that manages staff work and guest communications across departments."2018 was a banner year for Beekeeper," Rheams said. "It will be difficult to top these successes, but programs and partnerships are already underway that will make 2019 even more momentous. We will continue to drive innovation through technology and look for new opportunities to help hotel companies empower their organizations and deliver personalized end-customer experiences. Earning hospitality's top-three technology awards this year signifies that Beekeeper is truly the next frontier for hospitality. Our team looks forward to connecting with more hoteliers in the coming year and leading conversations at industry events about connecting hotel employees to their companies and culture."

How to Win the Battle Between Privacy and Personalization

Hotel Online·13 December 2018
It’s hard to believe that 2018 is drawing to a close. It’s safe to say that few topics this year have been more relevant than the themes of both privacy and personalization. Hoteliers are swimming in opportunities to learn more about their current (and prospective) guests than ever before. But with that opportunity to swim also arrives the opportunity to sink. Many hoteliers find themselves stuck between the need to personalize their offering with user data and the need to tread carefully within new GDPR rules and regulations. If they don’t tap into guest data to curate a more personalized, unique experience, they may not appeal to guests — but if they don’t secure data the right way, they’re putting guest privacy (and their reputation) at risk.

How to Win the Battle Between Privacy and Personalization

Concilio Labs, Inc. ·13 December 2018
But the battle isn't as simple as sink or swim. Modern consumers decidedly connect with brands who understand (and cater to them) on a personal level, while privacy concerns are at the forefront of that same conversation. McAfee surveyed 6,400 people globally to learn more about how they handle and protect personal information. The survey revealed that one third of those surveyed did not think they could control how companies collect personal information. In a 2016 global study, unwanted marketing was cited as consumers' top concern about businesses using their personal data (59 percent), followed by their data being sold to third-parties (58 percent) and organizations having unsecure systems (55 percent). But in that same breath, the personalization guests crave today extends far beyond a hotel just knowing their name upon arrival or their ability to receive targeted and personalized marketing communications. Today, savvy consumers expect their preferences to be saved within systems and devices, their voice commands to be recognized by digital assistants, and their hotels to offer specialized upgrades, room preferences and personalized communications. The modern consumer is fueled by instant gratification and hyper-connectivity; these are all concepts that thrive on the availability of relevant user data to curate a unique experience.How can hotels (safely) tap into guest data in a way that benefits their guest and their travel experience, without neglecting privacy measures? Ultimately, how can hoteliers can win the battle between privacy and personalization? There is not a single, easy answer. As most (if not all) of you know, GDPR was brought into effect to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). Following the longstanding realization that privacy standards are often not sufficient to truly safeguard the personal data, GDPR was enforced to give power back to consumers. This legislation applies to all data about persons in the EU (both guests and employees) and demands that hotels keep clear records and documentation of what personal data they access, where it came from, how it is shared and the consumer-provided consent to obtain that data. Given that hotels operate with the use of online travel agencies (OTAs), PMS, CMS systems, mobile apps, social media and more, understanding how to navigate within the means set by GDPR is ever-important. However, the GDPR framework was not put in place to limit hotelier's ability to access guest data and utilize that information to curate an improved, personalized guest experience. Rather, it was created with the intent to ensure hoteliers are transparent with their guests as they collect, and best utilize, personal information. So, what's the trick here? Find a happy medium. Guest data isn't out of reach; it's simply protected. Rather than taking, storing, and sharing without permission, hotels are now required to earn the trust of their guests. Provide your guests with clear communications when looking to collect or store information, attach clarified incentive to the provision of that information, and give them good options. Keep track of who consented, when they consented, what they were told at the time, how they consented and if consent has been withdrawn for any reason.The work required to get in compliance is not insignificant, but these updates will also encourage more engagement from your prospective guests. After all, a recent Salesforce study found that 63% of millennial consumers are willing to share personal data for personalized offers or discounts, 61% of millennial consumers for personalized experiences and 58% for personalized recommendations. Consumers are willing to share with brands, as long as they're given adequate reason to and can trust that their personal information will be used to curate an enhanced experience. Establishing guest trust, rapport and winning customer service experiences may require a little more work on behalf of hoteliers, but the reward is worth the return. Instead of sinking against the data, you'll swim into blue waters of a personalized, engaged guest experience.

9 Resolutions Every Marketer Should Make for 2019

MDG Advertising ·12 December 2018
As we head into the new year it's time to make some resolutions.On top of personal commitments -- does eating healthier, getting physically fit, and saving more money sound familiar? -- what should marketers seek to improve professionally? Which approaches should you embrace to make your marketing efforts more efficient and effective?Here are nine resolutions we believe every marketer should consider making in 2019 to have a more productive and prosperous year:1. I will use social media to engage, not just to postOver the past few years, many brands have fallen into the habit of using social networks primarily as distribution platforms for content and advertising. While this is certainly an important role, it is not the only one. In the year ahead, brands should remember that social media is a powerful tool for interacting with audiences, not just for delivering offerings.Why is using social to engage so important? Because utilizing it as a service channel can lead to a big payoff: 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand say they are likely to recommend it to others.2. I will embrace voice-controlled assistantsDigital is undergoing a profound shift that marketers should pay close attention to in 2019. Thanks to the integration of platforms such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant with smartphones and other devices, consumers are increasingly utilizing voice rather than typing to ask questions and issue commands.Some 58% of consumers say they have already used voice search to find a local business and it is predicted that half of all searches may be conducted via voice by 2020. This is important to brands because voice and typing spark different types of queries and are processed in different ways by digital platforms. That means it's necessary to employ targeted tactics to optimize your offerings for voice.3. I will respect consumers' privacy and protect their dataIn 2018, the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gave consumers much more control over their digital privacy and imposed strict requirements on how businesses can collect and use data.This should not be dismissed as a one-off event or as the act of overzealous European regulators: GDPR is just the tip of the iceberg and it highlights the growing concerns consumers across the globe have about how brands use and protect personal information. Given that, ensure that you are diligent in the year ahead about respecting consumers' privacy and protecting their data.4. I will focus on quality, not quantity when it comes to contentHere's a sobering statistic: it's estimated that 5% of a brand's content generates 90% of engagement, on average.One takeaway from this is that quantity is not the solution to your problems: simply producing more and more pieces is not likely to attract more interest, boost interactions, or generate more revenue.Ultimately, focusing on quality is vital. If you concentrate on developing a few superb pieces rather than on many mediocre ones, your content investment will reap a much higher return.5. I will be transparent and honest with my audiencesWhat do people want from marketers on social media? Transparency.Some 81% of consumers say brands have a responsibility on social networks to be transparent and 86% say a lack of transparency makes them more likely to take their business to a competitor.As for what demonstrates transparency, it's relatively simple: consumers say they want brands to admit mistakes, provide honest answers to questions, be clear on pricing, and avoid withholding information.6. I will start with my mobile deviceIt's no secret to brands that mobile is ascendant. More than two-thirds of Americans now use a mobile device to access the Internet and more than half of US online traffic originates from smartphones and tablets.Despite this, when reviewing digital campaigns many marketers still default to using a computer. This desktop-first approach in a mobile-first age creates a disconnect between consumers and brands.So, what can be done? Try learning from what a very old-school organization, The New York Times, did to emphasize the importance of mobile. For a period of time, the publication blocked the desktop version of its site in its offices, thereby forcing its staff to make their phones or tablets primary rather than secondary.7. I will pay attention to the metrics that matterWhile measurement is always a good thing, many marketers continue to pay too much attention to vanity metrics and too little attention to actionable metrics.What's the difference? As HubSpot puts it: "Vanity metrics include data such as social media followers, page views, subscribers, and other flashy analytics that are satisfying on paper, but don't move the needle for your business goals. They offer positive reporting, but no context for future marketing decisions -- something actionable metrics can do."Often actionable metrics are more difficult than vanity metrics to collect and analyze, but the effort is worth it. Fundamentally, your marketing efforts will only become more effective if you truly know what is and isn't working and if you know which specific things need to be done in order to improve.8. I will maintain my brand voiceOften marketers will spend time developing their brand voice but then lose it when executing campaigns.This is understandable. With constant demands on time, and so many channels to engage on, it's a difficult challenge to concentrate on carrying your identity across everything you do.Our advice: do it anyway. Your brand is your defining attribute and must be part of everything you create. We've seen over and over again that whether it's through design cues or vocabulary, maintaining consistency in all facets of a brand can exponentially increase its recognizability.9. I will embrace the changeFinally, here's some food for thought: less than two decades ago Facebook and YouTube didn't exist, the iPhone hadn't been released, and print was the second-largest advertising channel.In other words, while things may seem relatively stable in the moment it's important to remember that we live in an age of rapid advancements. While emerging platforms and approaches may seem like just buzzwords today, they could soon be critical to marketers. For example, it's estimated that the augmented reality and virtual reality markets will surpass $94 billion by 2023.Of course, there's no way to predict exactly what will become big and what will fizzle. What we do know is that things won't stay the same. For marketers, then, the most important resolution may simply be to adopt a mindset. In the year ahead, don't become entrenched; instead, start to get excited for what's new and embrace the change.
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2019 will be a year for IT to uphold international security compliance across all digital properties and tools

Beekeeper USA, Inc. ·12 December 2018
Increased Security and ConfidentialityAs the EU puts GDPR into effect this May, ensuring the security of your internal communications channels will be more than just a trend in 2019--it will be an absolute necessity. Adopting a private platform for internal messaging will help employees discreetly convey necessary information amongst themselves without unnecessarily involving guests. As nowadays these sensitive messages can take many mediums (email, direct message, video, image, etc.), adopting a platform that can support a variety of media formats will be important in the coming year.With a secure chat tool in place, any confidential company or HR information will remain protected. While corporations can establish confidential communication solutions within internal apps, they can also document employee activity and collaboration for posterity. For teams that work in customer service, this can prove invaluable as information is readily accessible yet discreet should employees require it.Smart RoomsWith more people using voice-activated devices in their homes, it's only natural to use these same devices to make rooms more "smart." In 2019, IT departments should anticipate the adoption of technologies that allow guests to control lights, temperature, and other features in a hotel room can be difficult to decipher.Adding a voice-activated device like a Google Home or Amazon Echo can eliminate the risk of a poor Yelp rating or a middle-of-the-night complaint to the front desk. The guest can control specific functions of the room, just like at home.According to The Wynn Las Vegas, over 4,700 of their rooms will be equipped with an Amazon Echo to help guests control things like lighting and temperature with ease. Don't be surprised if you start seeing rooms with "smart" beds that can determine whether or not a guest is asleep or awake and heat or light a room accordingly.BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) ProgramsWith the rise of mobile communication apps for the workplace comes the expectation that messages will be responded to in real time, or at the very least, in a timely manner. While it is up to your company to establish rules of engagement so that employees don't burn out or rack up overtime while dealing with off-the-clock internal communications, it's also important to make the digital workplace app as accessible to all employees as possible. For many, this means using whatever mobile phone is in their possession. In the coming year, it will be of critical importance to ensure that your digital workplace provider can function on a wide variety of devices.An Increase in AI PresenceDepending on who you talk to, artificial intelligence (AI) is either met with excitement or skepticism and worry. While there are many industries that will eventually be dominated by AI, the hospitality industry isn't likely to go full-automation in 2019, or ever for that matter.With that said, many businesses within the hospitality industry have begun to incorporate some friendly robots to help out with some of the house keeping and other tasks that don't require a lot of face-to-face interaction. AI will ultimately help the guest experience by improving the quality of any person-to-person exchanges.Automation is not meant to threaten a booming industry but rather keep it streamlined, error-free, and maintain high standards in what it does best; striving to make the customer experience as impeccable as possible. hbspt.forms.create({ portalId: "506469", formId: "4eae38d1-0b94-4a56-85de-987e7ce67638", css: "", sfdcCampaignId: "7010B000001hcgiQAA"});

Guest Privacy - It's Your Business

JMBM · 8 December 2018
That obligation has become increasingly complex due both to the vulnerability of hotel companies to breach, and the enactment of laws and regulations, worldwide, that impose additional burdens on hotels - the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, California's Consumer Privacy Act, as well as industry developments have further heightened the concerns with guest privacy and securityThis focus must be seen in the context of two key issues: first, that hotels collect large amounts of data from their guests, both directly and through third parties; and second, that the hospitality industry has a checkered track record in protecting personal information. Both these demand that the hospitality industry take a renewed focus on data securityData CollectionHotels and hotel companies collect tremendous amounts of information, directly and through others, including vendors, credit card companies, websites, use of wifi and other systems. The fact that hotels are increasing reliant on technology - and responsive to guest demands for increased connectivity - increases both the amount of information and the risk involved in collecting and processing information.The increasing incorporation of technology into hotel operations can lead to more breaches. Hotels are seemingly in a race to become more innovative - consider the trend to allow guests to bypass the need to go to the front desk by using their mobile devices to select a room, check-in, receive texts when their room is ready, and even unlock the door to their room. Guests are encouraged to use mobile devices to customize their stay by requesting items, ordering room service, planning activities, or purchasing upgrades. Not only does this trend increase the likelihood of a breach by adding new access points to the system; these programs collect even more data, making a hotel breach more valuable.Hotels are also pressured to expand Wi-Fi networks, share data with OTAs, and proliferate other interconnected systems, making the hospitality industry more vulnerable to a data breach. Each of these factors increases the number of parties that have access - authorized or otherwise - to hotel data, and increase the number of threats to the industry.Breach VulnerabilityTrustwave's 2018 Global Security Report reported that nearly 12% of the incidences investigated by Trustwave originated at hotels - the third largest share of data breaches, preceded only by retail and the food and beverage industries, which share many of the same vulnerabilities. The hospitality industry possesses a number of factors that make them attractive to hackers: large volumes of valuable information, multiple vectors for accessing information, large workforces and dependence on vendors, to name a few. There are, however, a number of trends that make hotels more vulnerable. However, there are other reasons that contribute the frequency of cyberattacks on hotels.One of the key issues facing the industry is the prevalence of outside vendors who provide key hotel functions. Almost every breach involving hotels that have been reported over the past several years generated not with core hotel functions - check-in and check-out, reservations, etc. -- but from companies engaged by hotels to provide services to the hotel. Virtually every major hotel chain has suffered a data breach through point of sale merchants - each of Hyatt, Marriott (and before its acquisition by Marriott, Starwood), InterContinental, Hard Rock, Four Seasons, Trump and Loews has reported at least one breach in the past two years, and many have reported multiple breaches.Third parties are a common source of breaches for many industries, but the hotel industry is particularly reliant on third parties for many functions. In addition to credit card processing, hotels look to third parties for reservation services, payroll, human resources, asset management, maintenance and improvements - many hotels have determined that third parties are better qualified to provide specialized services, and thus have access to hotel systems. Many hotel companies have not fully recognized the need to monitor vendors and require them to implement adequate secure standards.It is not surprising that hotel brands are particularly vulnerable. Brands often select vendors for multiple properties and often for an entire flag. Individual hotels may have little, if any say, in the vendor, the terms of engagement, and the impact of a breach. Moreover, even when a weakness is discovered, the cost of remediation may be untenable - a security breach involving key-operated door locks required the replacement of almost every door lock in the United States! At the same time, under the typical hotel management or franchise agreement, the hotel owner is required to bear the cost of a breach, whether in terms of direct costs (including notifying potential victims and the increased cost of cyber liability insurance) and the indirect cost of diminished trust in the hotel.The widespread dependence on third party vendors is a greater problem because hotel systems are widely interconnected. To follow up on the point of sale example, these vendors must tap into basic hotel systems in order to allow for room charges and financial reporting. Hotel operators want and need single point access to hotel operations, meaning that information from separate systems must be accessible and shared by a variety of systems. Even where direct access is limited, varying systems may share a single hotel network, and often a wireless network; the network itself has the potential of breach, which can impact all systems. Ultimately, hotels face the dilemma that the system as a whole is only as strong as its weakest link, and a single vulnerability may expose the entire system.A variety of other factors exacerbate the vulnerability of hotels:Multiple Systems. Hotels use a variety of different systems for operations, ranging from off-the-shelf, commercial programs to specialty programs. Each of these programs presents the potential for breach and, as noted above, a single weakness can create a weak system. Moreover, the transfer of information from one system to another is, in itself, a source of weakness.Legacy Systems. Along with the existence of multiple systems, many hotel systems are legacy systems that were never designed with security as a key element. Legacy systems are a particular weakness.Unclear Lines of Responsibility. As the hospitality industry has developed, there is rarely a unity of ownership and management; instead, most hotel properties are owned by one party, which has entered into a franchise agreement to operate under a particular brand, and managed by yet another company. While each of these entities shares responsibility for data security, it is often unclear who is ultimately responsible - it is the manager, who operates the hotel, the franchisor, who selects or approves systems, or the owner, who has financial responsibility for the venture? The lack of precise responsibility can lead to a vacuum in leadership.The Human Factor. Hotels rely on large numbers of employees, many of whom have access to hotel information systems. Most data breaches can be traced to individuals, whether acting maliciously, negligently or with complete innocence, and training hotel personnel is time-consuming and expensive. Added to this, many hotels have high turnover rates and uneven training in privacy and security, further complicating creating a culture that promotes security.What Should Hotel Companies Do?While creating a secure environment is a daunting task, hotel owners and operators can and should begin the process, and the most important thing owners can do is to take responsibility for the security of the properties they own. Rather than leaving the issue to franchisors and managers, all involved should take actions that will start the process of creating a data secure environment.Take Control. Cybersecurity cannot be relegated to a single party; owners, operators and brands all need to take an active role in reducing cyber risks. Even where one party might contractually assume responsibility for security, all parties must conduct their operations so as to promote security. If a franchisor establishes effective security guidelines, it does no good if the manager ignores those guidelines. Taking control means conducting a detailed risk analysis of your enterprise, and determine what risks must be avoided, what risks can be assumed, and what risks must be shifted to other, including insurers. With that analysis in hand, a company can make realistic business decisions that reduce cyber risk.Prepare for the Inevitable. It is often, and accurately, said that a data breach is a matter of "when," not "if." With that in mind, all parties should be prepared to react to a breach by having a well-constructed and tested incident response plan in place - reacting in the midst of an emergency is ineffective and counterproductive. Similarly, in light of the prevalence of ransomware, wiperware and other threats, firms need to have robust and effective backup programs that allow them to recover and protect their guests, employees and properties. Finally, preparing for the inevitable means identifying means of mitigating damages, which must include obtaining effective cyber insurance that addresses and covers the actual damages hotels face.Respond to Breaches. Much of the criticism of hotel companies has been not just to the perceived insecurity of their systems, but to delays in responding to breaches. The Hyatt and Hilton incidents noted above, as well as the FTC's action against Wyndham, are all based on failure to take the existence of breaches seriously. Hotels, like all companies, need to have in place and have tested effective incident response teams and plans, including identifying all internal and external sources (attorneys, security consultants and public relations, among others) who will respond to a breach.Create a Culture of Security. Probably the hardest task, but arguably the most important, is to create a top-to-bottom culture of cybersecurity. Every individual in the organization, and every affiliate and third-party vendor, must take the task of cybersecurity seriously, and take on the responsibility of creating a cyber secure environment.A New Legal LandscapeWhile the hospitality industry continues to grapple with data breaches and the vulnerability of existing systems, recent legal developments in Europe and in the United States will have require hotel companies to re-evaluate how they collect information, how they process it, and how to comply with varying and conflicting requirements.GDPRThe European Union adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which became effective on May 25, 2018. The GDPR is a watershed event that will impact every business that collects personal information, wherever located, and it is likely that no industry will be more impacted that the hospitality industry. Other companies can choose not to do business with EU citizens; some companies have determined that it is impossible to comply and have actually closed. That is not an option for hotels. Hotel companies need to understand the goals and requirements of the GDPR. The nature of hotels and the various data holding sources such as OTA bookings and PMS systems escalate the regulation for travel and hospitality industries.The consequences for non-compliance can be extreme: The maximum fine that can be imposed for serious infringements of GDPR is the greater of EUR20 million or four percent of an undertaking's worldwide turnover for the preceding financial year. There is only limited experience in enforcement actions under GDPR, and those experiences have been inconsistent. No one knows yet how European regulators will apply GDPR it to firms based outside the EU, but there are already public interest groups that are targeting multinational companies, and it seems likely that there will be some fallout.GDPR is based on general principles, which allow leeway - and confusion - for companies. The rules of the road are likely to become clearer as the regulation is implemented, but for now, each company must make hard decisions. GDPR requires that an organization both comply with its principles and document compliance. It is more than just adopting a new privacy policy; it requires concrete actions, and recording those actions.And GDPR is not the end of the story. The EU is actively pursuing the adoption of an "ePrivacy Regulation." The e-Privacy Regulation will, in many respects, go beyond GDPR and create additional challenges for companies that have contacts in the European Union.CaCPAThe California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CaCPA) addresses many of the concerns and requirements of GDPR. Companies that take prompt action to comply with the California Act and the GDPR will likely gain a substantial advantage over competitors who wait. While CaCPA has already been amended, and while there are a variety of attacks CaCPA that create uncertainty, businesses need to consider immediate steps to avoid the significant penalties for non-compliance. Businesses must be in full compliance on the effective date of January 1, 2020. It will not be adequate to start compliance efforts on that date.Addressing both the GDPR and CaCPA requires new policies and procedures. Hotel companies need to take initial steps to ensure compliance by creating a standardized approach for handling consumer requests for personal information; develop procedures for responding to consumer requests and data collection and processing tracking procedures to understand what data is collected, where it resides, how it is maintained, and who is responsible for it. Importantly, hotels will need to analyze the legal basis for collecting and processing personal information - businesses will need to explain their legal rationale for exemptions to the consumer's right to have their information deleted.Finally, each hotel company must review its public-facing website disclosures, including adding a description of consumers' rights under the Act, listing the categories of data collected and a conspicuous link titled "Do Not Sell My Personal Information."The hospitality industry is facing both continuing challenges protecting the personal data of guests, as well as grappling with a new legal landscape. Companies need to recognize that while the trials are great, success will create trust in the industry's most important commodity - its guests. A comprehensive approach can give companies the chance not only to confront these issues, but create brand value in doing so.Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from http://www.hotelexecutive.com/

Marriott Breach Shows Importance of Digital Security

skift Inc. · 6 December 2018
The Starwood hack wasn't the first data breach at a major hotel chain, and it won't be the last. As the meetings and events sector becomes increasingly digitalized, so too does the risk increase when it comes to cybersecurity.The reveal last week of a long-lasting security breach inside Marriott's Starwood Hotels & Resorts should act as a reminder of what is important in the post-GDPR world we all live in.Check out our coverage below on the impact of the breach on Marriott and Starwood hotels, and what it means for the greater travel industry.For meetings and events, expect even stronger vetting of technology partners and venues in the near future. A series of lawsuits over the next few years is going to help set a precedent for how giant corporations respond to data breaches going forward.

The Gist on GDPR

Hospitality Technology Magazine· 6 December 2018
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) unifies the data protection rules across Europe, strengthening the rights of EU residents by emphasizing transparency and accountability.

I feel sorry for Marriott...

Pertlink Limited · 4 December 2018
THAT'S AWFUL - but in all honesty, it was an accident waiting to happen.All of the major robberies, and with this I include hacks who embark on unapproved removal of an asset - successful or failed, have focused on BIG targets - whether it be the US elections, Beyonce's jewels, banks, Brinks trucks, the Royal Mail train in 1963, UBER, Hyatt, Target, Home Depot, Cathay Pacific, Dunkin Donuts, USPS, DELL, EMC, Yahoo, or an Apple Store. These are all high-profile targets which have been like honeypots to these felons. Marriott, which now includes Starwood, has grown so huge, it inadvertently put itself firmly and squarely in their sights and became a sitting target. It was really just a matter of time before the inevitable happened - and they would be hit.Sadly, but not surprisingly, we live in a world which is also unfortunately populated by people with malicious intent who either do this for kicks or are commercially driven based on the potential value of the data which can be sold or exchanged for crypto on the dark web. One may even be tempted to classify this event as an act of cyberterrorism or espionage. And let's not forget the lawyers - the wolves at the door [aka Ambulance chasers], just waiting to lay stake to a class action claim. It's a sad reality - and so I feel sorry for Marriott.As a Consultant to the industry, [and in full transparency, I have done work for Marriott so I have had a close perspective on how they operate], I know for a fact that this hotel group and so many other companies go to great lengths and expense to exercise duty of care and use their best endeavors to protect the data given to them for safekeeping so they can provide the best services to their clients. They constantly implement and update hardware defenses, employ tokenization and various encryption protocols for PCI DSS compliance as well as perform extensive vetting of software and hardware vendors, hosting/cloud providers and employees who handle the data. And while we are on the subject of vetting perspective vendors, look at the recent hoo-hah surrounding Huawei and the position some governments took in regards using them for their 5G data networks.Some of the data collected by hotels are for Government compliance, and some for marketing purposes - but the overarching reason is to provide great personalized service. The heavy burden of keeping that data safe is only compounded by government legislation imposed in certain countries and jurisdictions, which add yet another layer to the firewall - one of those being the recent GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] introduced in Europe on 25th May 2018. I'm very sure more jurisdictions will follow to include the Cybersecurity laws of China, and who knows what Brexit may bring if they install physical borders for the movement of people, then it's almost foreseeable, data flow controls will follow.But the inevitable reality is that there will be individuals, corporations, some possibly state-sponsored, lurking in the dark with evil intent. Do you really stand a chance against them and their specialized tools? As fast as the security device companies find a new way to secure or encrypt data - someone cracks it with some kind of wizardry or an even bigger hammer. We've seen many instances where companies such as Apple have released a new version of a software, only to have it cracked the next day - and so the process of closing that breach has to happen with panic-stricken Elves working overtime. Don't kid yourselves, this is a full-time problem internally and externally - akin to shoring dikes when flooding occurs. Once you sandbag part of the wall, another crack appears and so on.For the last forty years, hotels have, albeit gradually, embraced technology to help process, control and digest the enormous amounts of personal and transactional data that passes through its walls with one major element being Central Reservations [CRES] often with GDS connections. Some of these systems have been around for a very long time and could probably do with an upgrade - maybe utilizing Blockchain. When people make bookings - we use that data to allocate accommodation, provide various services, and associated logistics. The technology came with a promise to make things better - it was to enhance manpower, provide faster and more accurate access to data, and let's not forget, deliver personal service - every Hoteliers dream, by matching the guest's expectation. However, when you collect something valuable like terabytes, petabytes or even zettabytes of personal data about people - that's such an attractive honeypot.I am hopeful that the data forensics team will comb throughany crumbs or fingerprints that may have been left behind -and do whatever it takes to seek out and bring the infiltrators to justice.One has to ask oneself - Is there a solution? Well, I for one, don't have an answer for this - I suspect though it will get worse before it gets better, and that's a sad fact also. The more data we expose, be it to places like Hotels or on Social Media, the more likely it will be targeted and used for dastardly purposes and so I repeat myself when I say, "I feel sorry for Marriott" and I can feel other hoteliers thinking - "there but for the grace of God, go I".But as is often the case, we need a disaster to happen before things get fixed and so hopefully, this will be a loud enough wake-up call for technology suppliers, governments and industry bodies to find a solution. And to these entities - I throw down my gauntlet 4th December 2018

The Cybersecurity 202: Senators call for data breach penalties, tougher privacy laws after Marriott hack

washingtonpost.com · 4 December 2018
A slew of Democratic senators are calling for tougher privacy laws -- and even steep fines for companies that fail to protect their customers' data from data breaches -- in the wake of Marriott's admission that hackers compromised the personal information of up to 500 million of its customers."We must set clear customer data protection standards for all companies -- whether they're hotel chains, online retailers, or big tech -- and severe penalties for those who fall short," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) tweeted.Sens. Mark Warner (Va.) and Ed Markey (Mass.) also pressed for tougher data security laws, and said Congress needs to set limits on how much customer data U.S. companies are allowed to store. Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) went even further -- he said senior executives who ignore customer data privacy should face jail time.After potentially one of the largest breaches of consumer data in history, lawmakers appear ready to take a page out of Europe's playbook to ensure it does not happen again: Their calls for aggressive penalties for companies that have poor data security are reminiscent of the General Data Protection Regulation that went into effect in the European Union earlier this year. The GDPR requires companies to adhere to a highly specific set of security requirements -- and contains fines up to 4 percent of a company's annual revenue for violations. It is unclear, however, how such legislation would fare in a split Congress that appears poised for gridlock.
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Direct Bookings on Autopilot: the new A.I. that knows what hotel guests want

Hotelchamp · 4 December 2018
Amsterdam - December 4 2018 - Hotelchamp today introduced 'Autopilot' - new technology set to revolutionise how hotels think about their online guest experience."Today's hotel websites provide the same static experience for every visitor, which is bizarre given how different guests and their preferences are," says Kristian Valk, CEO of Hotelchamp.Hotelchamp is set to change that with the introduction of Autopilot, an artificial intelligence engine trained to recognise and personalise the experience of every visitor to a hotel's website.Hotels already spend huge amounts of time and money on guest personalisation - from email campaigns and communication, to advertising and loyalty programs. But most if not all these efforts are funnelled to static, one-size-fits-all websites."Personalisation is already the standard that guests have come to expect from hotels. The challenge has always been how to deliver that on a website in a scalable and meaningful way," says Valk."The truth is, only A.I. can deliver a truly adaptive website experience tailored to every single website visitor. One that brings the right information, interaction or offer, to the right person, and at the right time."Hotelchamp's Autopilot is not a chatbot or 'digital concierge' - it customises static hotel websites using a range of marketing techniques and tools. With a seamless integration, the result is a living, responsive and personalised experience, guiding guests through the entire direct booking process depending on their characteristics and needs.Hotelchamp's data science team developed Autopilot using years of data and millions of A/B test impressions on what exactly convinces guests to book direct. Autopilot applies this knowledge against a range of factors; including real-time data from a hotel's website, GDPR-compliant visitor insights and behaviour, and best practices from amongst Hotelchamp's thousands of hotels.Whilst this may sound complicated, all the hotelier needs to do to activate Autopilot is literally flick a single switch."We developed Autopilot to make it easy, not just for hoteliers, but also for guests to see the best information on the website. Autopilot makes direct bookings smarter - not harder," says Valk."We believe that with this type of technology now available to the hotel industry, hoteliers can bridge the gap between the online experience and the personal service hotels are famous for - a website that knows what guests are looking for, even before they do."About AutopilotUsing an A.I. engine to identify customer segments and audiences, Hotelchamp Autopilot can automatically serve the best information for each guest.Autopilot has been trained using insights from the Hotelchamp data science team and millions of A/B test impressions. Using this knowledge and live insights from the hotel's website, Autopilot recognises and personalises the website experience in real-time to convince visitors to book direct.All Hotelchamp tools can now be controlled by Autopilot, meaning the system will only deploy the right tools at the right time to the right audience. This process happens in real-time and is entirely personalised to each individual website visitor and moment in the booking phase.Autopilot bridges the gap between the digital journey and the personal service hotels are famous for - a website that knows what guests are looking for, even before they do.

Marriott sued hours after announcing data breach

zdnet.com · 3 December 2018
Hours after announcing a data breach on Friday, two Oregon men sued international hotel chain Marriott for exposing their data. Their lawsuit was followed hours later by another one filed in the state of Maryland. Both lawsuits are seeking class-action status. While plaintiffs in the Maryland lawsuit didn't specify the amount of damages they were seeking from Marriott, the plaintiffs in the Oregon lawsuit want $12.5 billion in costs and losses.This should equate to $25 for each of the 500 million users who had their personal data stolen from Marriott's servers in the breach announced last week, on Friday.The two Oregon plaintiffs told a local newspaper, that they view the $25 as a minimum value for the time users will spend canceling credit cards due to the Marriott hack.The Maryland lawsuit was filed by Baltimore law firm Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, according to a press release.

Data Security in Hospitality: Risks and Best Practices

EHL · 3 December 2018
Information security is a pivotal aspect of many industries, not least the hospitality industry due to the nature of the data collected by companies operating within hospitality. Hotels, motels, resorts, and rented apartment complexes all gather and electronically store a range of sensitive personal guest data, such as names, phone numbers, addresses, and credit card details.From the perspective of cybercriminals, hospitality appears to offer an ideal target vector for conducting crimes such as identity theft and credit card fraud due to the existence of multiple databases and devices containing both Payment Card Information (PCI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII).This article focuses on five of the biggest data security concerns in the hospitality industry and highlights some best practices for protecting hospitality data.Data Security Concerns in HospitalityComplex Ownership StructuresRestaurants, hotels, and other companies in the hospitality sector often have complex ownership structures in which theres a franchisor, an individual owner or group of owners, and a management company that acts as the operator. Each of these groups may use different computer systems to store information, and the information can also frequently move across those systems.A case in point was the Wyndham Worldwide breaches of 2008 and 2010. Hackers gained access to the systems of an individual operating company through easily guessed passwords, and the attack easily proliferated through the entire corporate network, with the result that 619,000 customers had their information compromised.Reliance on Paying By CardThe nature of the hospitality industry is such that it is extremely reliant on cards as a form of payment. Restaurants and hotels alike often require credit card details for reservations, and final payment is also frequently made by the same card.Cybercriminals use this reliance on cards to infect point-of-sale (POS) systems with malware that steals credit and debit card information by scraping the data. In fact, it was reported in 2017 that out of 21 of the most high-profile hotel company data breaches that have occurred since 2010, 20 of them were a result of malware affecting POS systems.Because this malware can often proliferate or move between POS systems run by the same operator, multiple individual and groups of hotels can be afflicted by these types of attacks, and they can go unnoticed for months.High Staff TurnoverA vital part of protecting data is training staff to securely gather and store personal information. Well-trained staff also know how to recognize social engineering attempts and they understand an organizations compliance requirements. The risk is that the hospitality industry involves lots of seasonal work in which people might move on after only a few months, or they might be transferred. In the U.K., for example, the job turnover rate in hospitality is as high as 90 percent.The high level of turnover and high degree of staff movement between different locations makes it a real challenge to maintain teams of well-trained staff. All it takes is one person who isnt familiar with the importance of data security for a cybercriminal to exploit a hospitality companys systems and gain access to sensitive data. ComplianceData security risks in the hospitality industry extend far beyond the reputation hit that a hotel can take if guests data is compromised. Industry and political regulators are becoming stricter in governing how organizations process and store personal data.The GDPR regulation was introduced by the EU in May 2018 as a landmark legislation that aims to return control over personal information to individuals while simultaneously enforcing stricter rules for organizations in protecting such information during any period in which they possess it.While GDPR protects individual data within the EU and EEA, its ramifications have rippled through industries globally, and organizations are realizing the need to put greater compliance measures in place.PCI DSS is another important global regulation that protects credit card data, and fines for non-compliance begin at $500,000 per incident. The risk here is not just to data security but to the future survivability of hospitality companies, many of which would not be able to absorb the substantial losses resulting from non-compliance fines. Insider ThreatsThis type of data risk is more subtle and it involves employees selling data to third parties without the knowledge of the organization that employs them. Such insider threats typically occur to data on customer preferences and behavior, which hospitality companies can collect at multiple touchpoints, from interactions with their website, to form data on booking systems, to review data.This data could be potentially lucrative when it ends up in the hands of those who know how to use it to gain a competitive advantage.Best Practices for Data Security in HospitalityBest practices for companies in the hospitality sector to protect data include:Always encrypt payment card information.Operate a continuous training program in cybersecurity to maintain a well-trained workforce.Always adhere to relevant regulations, such as PCI DSS.Use cybersecurity measures such as firewalls, network monitoring, anti-malware, and traffic filtering to protect against common threats.Conduct tests against your organizations cybersecurity defenses in which you mirror the behavior of an actual hacker.Know where your data is and enforce the principle of least privileges to limit access to sensitive information.Wrap UpWith a full understanding of the main data security risks and some best practices for mitigating those risks, organizations in the hospitality sector are better placed to implement a comprehensive information security strategy that entails the necessary procedures, processes, and people to improve cybersecurity.

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