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ALICE Looks Back at a Remarkable 2016

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice· 9 January 2017
484,403 tickets created. 258,698 miles flown. And 8,500 cups of coffee (at least). 2016 was a big year for ALICE. Thank you to everyone who helped make last year so successful. Here's to 2017!
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Our Most Popular Reads of 2016

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·22 December 2016
Hospitality innovation, concierge technology, and guest messaging...just a few of the hospitality technologies that mattered most to our readers in 2016. Browse through the posts below to catch up on anything you might have missed.
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The Hotel of the Future: Automated and Voice-Controlled, maybe, Open Stack, definitely -- ALICE Newsletter 37

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·21 December 2016
With New Year’s fast approaching, I do hope some of you have great travel plans ahead. Although we’re not covering it in this week’s newsletter, The Huffington Post put out a recent piece highlighting some of the nicer travel apps you might want to use on your travels. One company not mentioned in this piece was Hitlist. Founder Gillian Morris is a good friend, and the company offers great last minute escape deals. If you haven't planned any travel yet, but suddenly find yourself wanting, it's a great way to get spontaneous. In a year of not so great global news, we have had the pleasure of looking at such great breakthroughs and innovations in hospitality technology. It has really been a great year for our industry. I think the three highlights below are a testament to that... of true promise in fields that will end up mainstream in their ability to improve our industry. It is now just a matter of when. I encourage you to click in and read the full analysis that cannot be covered in a short email.
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The Hotel Industry Stands at a Crossroads When It Comes to Mobile Messaging

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·20 November 2016
Messaging is exploding as an engagement channel at hotels. Within the past year, hotel brands and technology suppliers big and small have made headlines for their experiments with various messaging channels, as well as for the development of their own messaging apps. Despite of, or perhaps because of this growth in messaging, several crossroads or divides have emerged in its adoption. In Part 1 of this piece, we look at messaging’s place in the industry -- how brands are using it and why they’ve taken to it with such verve. In Part 2, we discuss the five of the biggest conflicts we’ve seen emerge in this hospitality messaging revolution. And in Part 3 we look at how ALICE is approaching and resolving some of these conflicts.

Newsletter #35: Will There be a Compromise in Airbnb v New York State?

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·10 November 2016
As we all process the events that have unfolded in the U.S. elections, I’ll stay away from any politics here other than to say I hope the calm and dignified tone given in Donald Trump’s victory speech is a better indication of the next four years than the ostracizing and frenetic campaign that preceded it. While it seems like Brexit all over again, the stock markets ended up and so shall we.
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What's The One Thing In Your Control When It Comes To TripAdvisor Reviews?

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·29 October 2016
The influence of reviews on traveler’s booking behaviors is well established. Some 95% of travelers consult reviews before making a purchase. And data from TripAdvisor reveals almost all of their visitors consult some 6-12 reviews before purchasing a trip. Review sites also have a direct impact on a hotel’s bottom line. One recent study by Cornell University found that if a hotel increased its review score by 1 point on a 5-point scale, it could increase its prices by 11.2 percent without sacrificing occupancy or market share.
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Newsletter #34: Putting the Human Back in Hospitality

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·18 October 2016
It seems the hospitality and travel technology space is heating up. From what I am seeing, investors are starting to take a more interested look. It’s hardly surprising given an industry that for all its immense size is still so far behind in its technology prowess. According to CB Insights’ latest report, the next 5 years will impact the travel industry more than the previous 50. However, as Anand points out with a great image of 24 old war planes attacking King Kong, it is not the incumbent tech companies that are poised to disrupt, rather a host of startups unbundling the space to serve a specific need (or as Innovation guru Clayton Christensen new theory on disruption calls it, a “job to be done”).
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What are the Back Office Operations of a Mobile Hotel Concierge App?

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice· 6 October 2016
First, let’s define what a mobile hotel concierge app is, as it seems there are two readings of this currently in the industry. A Hotel Services App If you are looking for an app or a mobile site for guests to request services from their hotel then you will absolutely need a back end. When the industry started building apps a few years back, it was driven by marketing. As such, little attention was given to the back-office operations required to actually execute these requests. As we have observed in other industries, mobile services are only a step change improvement for consumers when the consumer has access and transparency to the status of the request. When you request an Uber, you see when it is at your doorstep. Likewise, when you request food via Seamless, you know exactly how long it will take for your food to be delivered. This level of context requires the back-office staff, the actual service “deliverers” to be on the same platform. That means consideration of back-office operations is actually far more important than the mobile app access point (the consumer-facing front-end).
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Newsletter #33: Boutique is Not the Differentiator

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice· 4 October 2016
“Millennial are not anti corporate, they are anti-phony” stated Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott, at the Skift Global Forum last week. While Dmitry (ALICE’s co-founder and CTO) was at Skift, I was over at the Lodging Conference, sitting on a panel about what guests actually want, specifically millennials. Head of UX Research at Zappos (the $1Bn+ online shoe giant), Alex Genov, highlighted how demographics are not so telling. To understand a customer you must understand their emotion drives more than their demographic. Remember, the term “millennial” covers an 18-year age span. There are millennial children and then they are millennials with children... and both travel very differently!
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5 Ways for Hotels to Counter Growing Pressure from Review Sites, the Sharing Economy and the Expanding Technology Stack

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·29 September 2016
airbnb-website.png Hotels are under increasing pressure to evolve. Review sites, the sharing economy, and even the rise of dedicated hotel technology are making adaptability a hotel's most valuable asset. Here's five ways hotels can respond.
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What Hotels Can Learn from Airport Management: How Platform Technology Can Enable A Multi-Skilled Workforce

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·26 September 2016
Have you ever noticed how the airline employee who checks you in at the Departures terminal of the airport is often the same employee who checks you in at the gate? This seems a world away from the assembly line of the industrial revolution, where one person repeated the same task over and over. That is where a platform differs from a traditional value chain approach. In the latter, value creation is linear and one way, solving a complicated problem like the manufacturing of cars. While in the platform approach, value creation is two way and serves to solve complex problems like hospitality. Airlines might underdeliver when it comes to hospitality, but they do a good job leveraging technology and processes to move their staff around as needed and deliver efficient service.

How Hotel Americano Cuts Costs and Delights its Guests with ALICE: A CNN Special Report

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·11 September 2016
Hotel Americano General Manager Osama Aduib: "With ALICE, we actually have the data that shows us how many times we were delivering extra towels to rooms. So, instead of having just two towels in a room, we’d say to ourselves, 'You know what? it makes more sense for us to have four towels in a room.' It was actionable data. It was real time information. And that’s just one example."
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Newsletter #31: Are We Really Siding With The OTAs On This One?

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice· 7 September 2016
I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous taking a stance FOR an OTA, none the less our own investor Expedia. However, their recent move to allow a hotel chain to place their loyalty program rates on the booking platform is genius and while it’s clear why Expedia would want to do it (lower rates and improved relationships with hotels), I genuinely think it’s not a bad idea for hotels either, and at the risk of irking a few, we are going to attempt to explain why. Now, we are not an OTA nor do we deal with bookings, so we do welcome all your rebuttals and follows ups as it will only serve to educate us.
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Newsletter #30: OTAs Are Keeping Emails. Doesn't Mean You Can't Win

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·10 August 2016
I was speaking with a few hoteliers last week who asked me how to beat the OTAs and who told me how, after countless efforts and switching between different strategies, they simply have not found the success they had hoped for in converting guests to book direct. We have quite the audience here so if anyone has any suggestions (and is generous enough to share them), do please let us know.

The Hotel Industry's New Platform Paradigm

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice· 2 August 2016
From Amazon in retail, to Uber in transportation and Airbnb in hospitality, a variety of businesses across multiple industries are embracing platform strategies. For the hotel industry, this new model offers both a competitive threat and an opportunity. By using technology to deliver services in more convenient, faster and more transparent ways, these companies are building massive businesses and threatening incumbents. But the truth is this model offers plenty of lessons for traditional hotels. How can hotels harness the power of platforms to seamlessly unify their operation and realize huge gains in revenue, efficiency, and guest satisfaction in the process?
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Newsletter #29: The Expectation Economy and its Implications for Hotels

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·21 July 2016
We have three really great pieces below: Airbnb loses an important fight in NYC and the conversation on owning (and improving) your guest experience continues full steam ahead. Seems the one true north of the great OTA debates is that there is no substitute for improving your guest experience, however you look at it.
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The Do's and Dont's of Texting, from a New York City Concierge

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·19 July 2016
A few tech-savvy hotels are skipping email and social media and are directly texting their guests. Arrive Hotels which just opened in Palm Springs has done away with telephones in the guest room and instead asks guests to text the hotel for whatever they might need. Sixty LES is also embracing texting as a method of communicating with guests. Even bigger brands like Marriott and Four Seasons are texting guests, albeit through their mobile apps.
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Newsletter #28: HITEC Edition

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice· 1 July 2016
What a week... 7 days later and all the email follow ups are in full flow now and deservedly so - this was yet another record breaking attendance for HITEC. We ourselves only have last year to compare to, but with the conference sharing the New Orleans stage with IPW it felt like the entire industry was in one town networking night and day. Big thanks to HFTP - what a success it was, busy from the minute it opened until an hour after it closed. Even Thursday was a demo-full day this year on the floor.
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Newsletter #27: Messaging is the Future of Hospitality (and what to do about it)

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice· 9 June 2016
What a week it has been for Hospitality in New York! Coming off the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference and the Boutique Hotel Investment Conference, the industry has come together yet again to discuss and to drink to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Boutiques continue to rule the roost as the industry embraces the fact that guests today demand original and inventive experiences.

How Hoteliers are Using Data to Improve their Operation

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice· 8 June 2016
When describing the benefits of using ALICE, our sales team typically focuses on the ability for hotel staff to consolidate all guest requests into a unified interface, making it easier to manage their workflow and providing their guests with a more intimate, high touch experience. While these are clearly huge benefits of using a single system, to me the most exciting part of ALICE is its ability to provide management with hundreds of data points of business intelligence.

Newsletter #26: The Great Hotel Front Desk Debate

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·25 May 2016
Yesterday, CBRE put out an article on “U.S. Hotel Revenue Growing, But Slowing” with a fascinating statistic that “from 2014 to 2015, what stands out as a concern for hotel owners and operators was the 4.7% increase in expenses, especially during a year when inflation was just 0.1%.” To me, this should be the title of the entire piece. In a world where we are all so focused on revenue, it is easy to forget how equally important costs are in the profit equation. As competition increases from all sides for our hotels, reigning in operating costs without negatively impacting your guest experience is vital. Think only as far as the emerging threats from the vacation rental and sharing economy industries who are undercutting our hotels’ prices as they don’t have the expenses of running an entire hotel to realize that operations is the new black.
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'Hospitality, in general, can't be automated:' What Hotel Functions Can and Can't Be Replaced by Technology

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·24 May 2016
Virtually every industry has been changed by technology in recent years, and at ALICE we know that hotels are no exception. The GMs we spoke with generally felt that certain new forms of automation have been helpful, especially if they reduce operation costs. However, there’s still much room for improvement, and many cases where automation seems inappropriate or even self-defeating.

'There's nothing more expensive than cheap managers:' How to OptimIze Your Hotel Workforce

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·18 May 2016
There's nothing more expensive than cheap managers:' How to OptimIze Your Hotel Workforce Although employees are often a hotel's greatest cost, they can also be the hotel's most valuable asset. Proper training is a vital investment that will optimize your hotel workforce.
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Newsletter #25: Luxury Hotels Have the Most to Gain From Improvements in Online Reputation

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·10 May 2016
In Newsletter #25: Luxury hotels have the most to gain from improvements in online reputation | Google debuts a new travel app | Morgans acquisition another win for in boutique brands.

ALICE Looks Forward to a Roaring Good Time at ARDA's Lion's Den

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice· 3 May 2016
ALICE will join five other digital travel startups this Wednesday, May 4 in Hollywood, FL at The Lion’s Den at ARDA World: A Phocuswright Innovation. Take a look at the innovative companies slated to present. We look forward to seeing you all there! Tansler is a vacation rental marketplace that allows renters to name their price, choose multiple homes and submit one binding offer. Trekkable is creating a new hotel booking experience. Starting with a custom booking engine, we are able to accept special service requests and ensure their delivery to service providers in a more efficient way than ever before, in addition to accommodating little extras that just make life easier (extra pillows, towels, early check-in, late check- out, etc.).
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Newsletter #24: The New Frontier of Hotel Revenue Management

Hosp. Tech Matters - A Blog by Alice·27 April 2016
A couple things outside of the ordinary happened these last two weeks: 1. A TV ad came on that I actually wanted to watch - I was watching my beloved Arsenal play this weekend and an advert came on. As I watched it, I did not turn down the volume nor did I fast forward, I actually paid attention. This was Airbnb’s “live like a local” campaign and it is scarily captivating. Let’s hope we don’t all continue doing what we are told not to… watch it.

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