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The key trends shaping the hospitality industry in 2018

Cendyntm ·14 December 2017
1. In your opinion, what are the top three trends that hoteliers should be aware of going into 2018?The evolving nature of the guest experience and keeping up with guests' needs and expectations is a huge focus for the hospitality industry. For a hotel, managing the customer relationship is one of the most critical elements of gaining and increasing loyalty, and yet can be the most difficult for hotels to master, as customers interact with them via a burgeoning number of contact points: email, mobile, social media, at the front desk and throughout the hotel property. Never before has technology played a more important role in improving what is ultimately the human experience of hospitality, both in terms of curating and providing it, but also in the way that customers express their gratitude for that experience in the form of loyalty. Secondly, understanding the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and how that can focus and positively affect the interaction between the guest experience and the hotel. The focus for technology companies serving the hospitality industry is to enable hotels to communicate more effectively with their guests so that they are able to deliver the right message to the right person, at the right time and importantly through the right channel for that guest. With GDPR coming into effect in May 2018, never before has it been so important for hotels to ensure their communication with the guest is relevant and the data they store about a guest is compliant with these new regulations. Lastly, a key focus is personalization. Technology companies will need to work more closely together for the benefit of mutual customers to enable personalization between the hotel and their guests. Customer relationship management (CRM) is no longer just a tool for the sales and marketing departments, CRM is a tool that benefits the operations, revenue management, and distribution departments as well. Because of this, hotels are looking to integrate CRM with their other technology vendors as well, bringing the various data sources into one central place to create a single version of truth about that guest. This enables greater personalized communication between the hotel and the guest. For example, integrating a CRM to a revenue management system has enabled our customers to now offer personalized pricing based on the guests' profile including the recency, frequency and monetary value of that guest to the hotel.2. What is the biggest challenge the hospitality industry is facing? One of the biggest challenges, and opportunities, is how small our planet has become and ultimately how that has made travel easier and more accessible than ever before. This challenge opens up a wealth of opportunity but every culture and guests' needs are different. The industry needs to be mindful of this when managing travel and guest experiences on such a scale. Combine this need with the GDPR regulations coming into effect in 2018, it is imperative that hotels are working with CRM solution providers to ensure the guest profile data is accurate, communication is effective and profile data is managed in compliance with the new regulations.3. In the next 5 years, what role do you see Cendyn playing in the hospitality industry?CRM has become front of mind for hoteliers across the globe. Not just because of its ability to process data and provide a clear, digestible view of that data, but because it is the only way to process data from multiple technology platforms within a hotel and then provide a single version of truth for every guest. This has become imperative for hoteliers who want to provide a truly personalized experience, drive loyalty to their brand and stay competitive. In the next five years, this will become even more apparent as guests become savvier and demand more from their travel experiences. For hoteliers to stay ahead of the curve, we've seen that using data to pave the way in how hoteliers communicate with their guests has revolutionized how they can learn more about guests' interactions, drive direct bookings, maintain brand presence with their most valuable guests and stay competitive in their market. Our continued investment enables hoteliers to keep their guests at the forefront of what they do, and concentrate on providing exceptional, personalized customer service at all times. And as AI becomes more of the norm, hoteliers will need to embrace the ability to use machines/technology to aggregate information and learn from data to provide a seamless experience for every guest.

Personal data, privacy and identity

HFTP ·By Alvaro Hidalgo
The collection of personal data is inherent to the hotel industry; it is what allows us to tailor guest experiences, market our hotels effectively, and foster long-term loyalty. The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force soon, and it has the potential of turning all of this, and more, on its head. Alvaro Hidalgo walks us through the enormous challenges, and even posits a solution.
Article by Ian Graham

Serving Up Profitability

The Hotel Solutions Partnership · 7 November 2017
The principal revenue generating asset under management in a restaurant are the seats and tables - and this applies whether the restaurant is a stand-alone business, is in a mixed-use development, is in a theme park, is in an airport terminal, is in a hotel, or even is a pop-up business in a yurt. The seat is a hugely perishable asset - every minute that it is unoccupied there is a missed revenue generating opportunity. If you don't fill the seats this meal period, the revenue (not to mention the profit that you could have made) is gone - and probably elsewhere!So, it's clear that a key metric for best practice is Revenue per Available Seat Hour. RevPASH is calculated by getting the revenue for the hour and dividing it by the number of seats that you have. If the restaurant is only half full, your RevPASH will be lower than it might be; if everyone orders one course only, your RevPASH will again be lower again.Caroline Wilce is Finance Director and shareholder at Black and White Hospitality Management Ltd (the franchisor of the Marco Pierre White brands - Marco's New York Italian, Marco Pierre White's Steakhouse and Grill, Wheelers Oyster Bar and Grill Room, Mr White's English Chophouse, Bardolino). She says "the main key KPIs used by successful restaurant operators include:Revenue per available seat hour (RevPASH)Revenue per available square metre (RevPASM)Cancelled / No Show Covers as a % of Reserved CoversTime per Table Turn"The common ways to increase RevPASH are todecrease the amount of time each party spends at their table and/orincrease the average spend and/ordecrease the time that a table stays empty after a party leavesHere are some ideas to increase your RevPASH.1. Breakfast, Lunch and DinnerStelios Haji-Ioannou made a success of easyJet by first filling the aircraft then raising the price. Sweat your asset; how often do we see hotel restaurants closed for lunch. And branded restaurants closed for breakfast. Yet, one rarely sees small privately run restaurants closed - they are open all hours. The entrepreneurial owner/operator knows that the asset must be sweated.2. Seven days a weekBy increasing available seat hours, you give yourself the opportunity to spread your fixed costs. So, if there is a market, keep the restaurant open all week, all meal periods. If there isn't an obvious market, create one. Many hotels have found success with (champagne) afternoon teas. Pre-theatre dinners are a similar reaction to creating a market that enables the restaurant to be more successful.3. No more quiet nightsCapitalize on menu trends. The industry is seeing a need for more organic, healthy locally sourced options. In some cases, and locations, customers value these options and are willing to pay for them. You need to understand your customers, though, as opinions can vary depending on the market or region. Sundays and Tuesdays are traditionally toughest nights for a restaurant, so running promotions to fill the seats will at least get some revenue. Maybe link in with a local cinema, or run a series of promotions to encourage people to come out on your quieter nights.4. Increasing the number of turnsThe number of turns is the number of parties that sit at a table each night. Depending on your clientele and target market, you may be able to get another sitting in. Some restaurants do fixed sittings, say, 6pm and 8pm so that customers know if they are in the 6pm sitting, they need to be out by 8pm This works well if people are going to the movies or the theatre.5. Create a pool of ready dinersThe bar is a great way to increase your RevPASH. Customers have a couple of beers before dinner and are sitting there ready and waiting as soon as a table is cleared. The in-room TV, the lift walls, are opportunities to promote the hotel restaurant to guests. Better still, a recommendation by the receptionist at check-in can generate business that might otherwise walk out of the hotel for dinner.6. Increase your pricesMake sure your prices are right. Check the local competition and see how you compare. The big thing is to look at each sitting individually and try to optimise the results. Some restaurants do this without thinking about it. It is why there are separate lunch and dinner menus. After you evaluate what other restaurants are doing to drive sales a review of customer data might show that demand indicates that some menu prices could be increased without hurting sales.7. Table optimisationSome restaurants and cafes attract more singles and couples, others larger groups. If all your tables are for 4, it means that every single and couple is wasting seats and decreasing your RevPASH.8. Last minute offersIf you are having an unexpected quiet night, why not Tweet a special or post it on your Facebook page. Work hard to get those extra couple of tables in. It can be the difference between a loss for the night and breaking even. Customer traffic is one of the key metrics restaurant operators use to measure success. When traffic is down, many restaurants turn to new promotions or even consider lowing prices, but will these actions reverse the trend? Before you act, first take time to understand the change in traffic and the underlying causes. Two key steps in deciding how to address traffic issues are to determine if it is a sustained problem or a short-term trend and to determine whether the decrease is caused by internal or external factors. Guest count problems can be addressed in many ways. Once you gain an understanding of what causes traffic issues at a specific location, you will be better prepared to create solutions that address the true, underlying problem.Ally Dombey Northfield is a Director at Revenue by Design, creator of revenue management solutions for the hotel industry. In respect of restaurants, she says "..the focus needs to be on optimizing profitability through contribution margins, differential pricing, menu mix and price blending"Restaurant technology can and should be leveraged to provide better information to inform better decisions. Such tools provide insights into restaurant customer purchasing behavior enabling prediction of their reaction to future initiatives. Technology can be harnessed tomeasure the effectiveness and impact of limited time offersunderstand the impact of coupons and deciding on the most profitable offersquantify the impact of testing a new menu line or a new service concepthelp selecting the most representative restaurants to test brand innovationsreview loyalty programmes and recommend marketing initiativesThe National Restaurant Association in the USA believes that over 60% of sales in fine dining restaurants and 80% of sales in casual restaurants come from repeat business. So, remember that it is existing customers who are your most likely future customers - and through social media they can influence potential customers who have not yet experienced your restaurant. Leverage the database of existing customers (respecting GDPR of course).I hope some of these thoughts help YOU improve your profitability

Are you keeping your guests' personal data safe? Interview with Alan D. Meneghetti

GuestRevu ·23 October 2017
Having previously been a partner at Clyde & Co LLP and Locke Lorde LLP, and with a legal career that includes specialisation in data protection, privacy and IT, few are better equipped than Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP Partner Alan Meneghetti to offer guidance to hoteliers on how to handle sensitive guest data carefully.We chatted with Alan to get the expert's opinion on how hoteliers can ensure they are treating their guest data with the care it deserves, and in compliance with current and incoming data protection laws.Where did you first begin to work with hotels and the hospitality industry?My first venture into hospitality was working as a room attendant at Sir Rocco Forte's fledgling group's first hotel, the Balmoral Hotel, in Edinburgh. I went on from that to be a trainee hotel manager at the Balmoral and then to work as Restaurant Manager at Sir Rocco's first purpose-built hotel in Cardiff Bay, the St David's Hotel & Spa (which the group has since sold).I knew that I loved the hotel business and spent a long time trying to work out how I could combine it with law, which I had read at both the University of Cape Town and the University of Aberdeen.How do you think hotels will be affected by the new privacy laws coming into effect next year?Hotels, as with most other businesses, will need to ensure that they are up to speed with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which commences across the EU on 25 May 2018, and ensure that their systems and agreements with their contractors are compliant with the requirements detailed in the GDPR (many of which are either new or extensions of the requirements under the existing European legislation).It is also worth remembering that the GDPR does not only apply to hotels operating in the EU, but also to those which offer services to customers in the EU (for example, gift cards, mail order and so on).With the rise of personalisation and hotels asking guests for more data than ever and often on different platforms, do hotels in general put enough emphasis on data security?No, but then I don't think most businesses do! Hotels hold an enormous amount of personal data and, quite often, personal data which is of a sensitive nature (for example, information about guests' medical conditions or meal choices which may indicate a religious preference), not to mention credit card and billing information. As a result of this, the data that hotels hold is particularly valuable and presents a prize target for thieves and fraudsters wishing to exploit vulnerabilities in a hotel's IT network.Hotels need to ensure that they know exactly what data they hold, how long they are holding it for, where they are holding it and what security measures they have in place to safeguard that data (as well as whether that security is currently sufficient - something which requires constant evaluation).Can hotels expect increased pressure to be transparent about how they are protecting guest data?Not necessarily so, in a general sense, although if there is an incident relating to personal data held by or on behalf of a hotel, the hotel must be in a position to respond to that. It is imperative that hoteliers have a plan in place for handling data incidents that is agreed upon and rehearsed in advance. Hoteliers also need to be prepared to explain to an investigating regulatory authority how its systems are set up and why it believes them to be sufficient to protect the data which the hotel holds.What is the first question a hotelier should ask when assessing whether their security measures are good enough?How strong, and where, is the weakest part of my network? This is where the vulnerability lies.Is there a chance that hotel staff could unwittingly be breaching privacy laws or regulations, particularly in smaller hotels?I think that there is every chance that this is the case. For example, does the hotel use a cloud service provider to back up its personal data and, if so, where does that cloud service provider physically store the data? If it is outside the European Economic Area (EEA), is the hotel able to point to a lawful ground (such as guest consent) to permit the export of this personal data outside the EEA?What advice would you give to independent hoteliers to ensure they comply with the new privacy laws?Spend a little bit of time getting to know your obligations under the GDPR and your network infrastructure. You can then work out if you need to update your customer and supplier agreements and your IT network, and create a plan to detail the areas that need addressing in order of priority.What's the best hotel you've ever stayed at?May I have two please? I love the Balmoral in Edinburgh because it is just so beautiful and perfectly decorated and I have watched it evolve since I first went there in 1996. Hadrian's and Number One are also two of my favourite restaurants - amazing food, great service, and both in settings which perfectly complement the food they serve. And then the Imperial in New Delhi, which has the most amazing food and service, and is a haven of calm and tranquillity in the middle of a thriving, bustling and generally very busy city.
Article by Abby Ward

Understand Your Guests to Increase Conversion Rates

Net Affinity ·19 October 2017
Do you know who your website content should be targeting, who's visiting your site and who's actually parting with their cash to make the booking? If you can't answer those questions, it's time to start building a picture of your target market in order to better meet their requirements and wishes.You can do this by tailoring your rate plans and packages to suit various guest types. You can also use data segmentation to send and display the right content to the right people. Be it for email marketing campaigns, or display and remarketing ads.Whilst you should be looking at your own guests in careful segments on a property level, it's helpful to take a look at the industry at large. This data can tell you who you should be trying to talk to and on which platform and devices.Across our portfolio of clients with 12,800,000 hotel website sessions for the first half of this year, we have monitored each transaction to find out those answers. Of course, this data is purely for guests who made their booking online, so keep in mind that there are guests who book over the phone, or in some cases in person, who are not represented in these figures.Let's take a look at the demographic of people who have visited our client sites and those who booked, from Q1 and Q2 2017:Who VisitsWomen made up the majority of visitors. The ratio of female to male users is more than 2:1, at 69% female and 31% male. This may reflect that more women are doing research, or that women simply prefer to visit more sites during their research.The young adults are the most enthusiastic travelers. 56% of visitors to hotel websites are 25-44, and the strongest demographic is 25-24 (28.8% of users).Who BooksWhile more women book than men overall, this number is skewed by the higher number of women visiting sites. On the whole, men convert 1.5 times more often than women, although they contribute less revenue and transactions overall.As far as the age of your guests is concerned, the same pattern as above holds true for transactions and revenue as well. Those aged 25-44 make up about 55% of transactions and revenue.However, it's worth noting that those aged 45-54 and those over 65 convert more often. This suggests that by the time your more mature guests reach the website, they are more ready to book. Younger ones, most dramatically those age 18-24, tend to shop around a bit more before committing to a booking.5 Ways To Implement Guest Data Into Your StrategyAsk your guests for information at checkout: name, email address, age, gender, occupation.Train your front desk in collecting data for each guest. Such as what the purpose of their trip is etc.Tailor your packages for each of your top segments. This could mean using value ads such as a free drink on arrival, or by using local events to make your hotel standout to those attending them.Segment your data for marketing purposes. For example, send your Valentine's Day campaign to males, with a special offer to save them money and hassle.Make sure your data storage processes and systems are GDPR compliant. A new regulation coming into force in May 2018 has significantly tightened up laws around storing and using data, so make sure you're clued up on it.For more interesting insights from our client data, check out our Digital Trends Report.

133 | GDPR Compliance with HFTP COO Lucinda Hart

The Lodging Leaders Podcast: Powerful Business Strategies for Hotel Professionals·11 October 2017
Lucinda Hart, CAE, MBA, has over 22 years of association management and customer service experience in the areas of human resources, certification, membership, chapter relations, conferences/trade shows, nonprofit legal issues, and governance and administration. As HFTP Chief Operations Officer, Lucinda is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the association, managing 30 staff members, as well as representing HFTP at numerous industry global events. Lucinda received her Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management and her Master of Business Administration in Organizational Leadership and Management from Concordia University Texas. She is also a Certified Association Executive (CAE). Lucinda was awarded the Professional Excellence Award from the Texas Society of Association Executives (TSAE). She serves as a mentor for Leadership TSAE and Concordia University Texas.
Article by Kris Troukens

GDPR - Advice for the Hospitality sector

Quality Hotel Services ·13 September 2017
SITUATIONGDPR, what is it, and is it important to the Hospitality Sector?The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is a major overhaul of the EU data protection law. It comes into force on May 25th, 2018. It requires any business (including hospitality industry businesses) that handles personal data of a EU citizen to have adequate measures in place.What is meant by "adequate measures"?By "adequate measures" they mean data should be properly protected, and any theft or misuse of this data cannot occur. The EU citizen (the guest) also has specific rights on the data that you are holding about him. (see below)Does GDPR only apply within the European Union?No, it applies to data stored on EU citizens, wherever they are staying around the world. This impacts the entire hospitality sector, worldwide.What if I am not compliant?If a EU citizen files a complaint, the hotel may face some hefty fines. The maximum fine is set to 20 million Euros, or 4% of the annual global turnover (whichever is the greater).HOW TO PREPARE in 13 STEPSThere are several steps that the hotel can take to properly prepare for GDPR. Some of them may already be in place. They are listed below.1) Create awareness in the hotel.Buy-in of the hotel management team is also essential. There may be changes in procedures or systems, so all managers should be aware of GDPR, fully understand it, and be able to understand the impact on their department.2) Create a "data-register"You should be documenting which information you are holding, where it is stored, where it comes from, whom you are sharing it with, and if the guest has given his consent to you collecting all this data. This "data-register" will map all your data streams.All processing steps should be recorded, and this may require the compilation or review of existing policies and procedures.3) Communicate to your guests about your new privacy rulesMake sure you ask the guest for his agreement on giving you all required data, and document that agreement. This could be easily done on the registration card, or when checking-in on line. Adapt your legal statements and customer agreements to the new legislation. You will need to disclose for which purpose(s) you intend to collect data, and how long you will be keeping it.4) Guests rightsThe European guest has several rights, and you need to ensure he can exercise his rights, which include:The right of access to his dataThe right to rectificationThe right to eraseThe right to restrict processingThe right to transfer his data to another partyThe right to objectThe right not to be included in automated marketing initiatives or profilingMany of those rights may already be in existence today.5) Guest access requestsYou will need to be ready to handle a guest request coming in about his rights. You are not allowed to charge for this service, and you have a maximum of 1 month to provide an answer. If you refuse a request, you must inform the guests about your reasons, and provide any details about the Privacy Commission and the name and contact details of your DPO (Data Protection Officer, more on this below), so that the guest understands how to file a complaint.6) Lawful basis for processing guest dataWhile the hotel is collecting data, it can only do so if there is a lawful reason. You need to review and ensure all questions you are asking (on registration cards, online forms etc...) are absolutely required for you to process the guest. As an example, the departure date of a guest is a required piece of data. However, asking for the guest's birthday may be more difficult to justify.7) Guest consentIt is important to review how you are obtaining, and recording the guest consent. He may be arriving via a travel agent, via a telephone reservation, or it may be a walk-in. All these cases need to be considered.At all times, there must be a clear "opt-in" given by the guests. There cannot be any pre-ticked boxes where the guest agrees to give his data; opting in is never by default. Also consider how you will handle the case of a guest who withdraws his consent.8) ChildrenThere's an additional consideration for children under 16. Authorisaton to process a minor's data should be obtained from their parents or responsible adult. The hotel needs to prepare for this scenario.9) Data breaches or theftThe hotel should be ready to detect, and remedy any data theft concerning personal data. The data register should be able to provide insight into which pieces of data are concerned.Any incident should be reported within 72hrs to the Privacy Commission, for all cases where there is a risk that guest data may have been compromised.By extension, this implies your network and storage systems should be up-to-date with the latest intrusion detection programs and should have successfully passed penetration testing.10) Data protection by design, and Data Protection Impact assessmentsFor any new systems or major changes, it would be wise to keep the "Data protection by Design" in mind. Indeed, when discussing requirements for a new tool or procedure, you can already include the data protection principles, right from the design stage.An Impact Assessment is required when major new technology is introduced, or significant upgrades are taking place on systems which contain personal data.11) The Data Protection OfficerWithin your hotel or company someone should be tasked to become the Data Protection Officer (DPO). Make sure this is someone who knows and understands the importance of personal data processing. This can very well be an additional task for an existing employee or manager.It is mandatory to appoint a DPO when you are handling large volumes of personal data records, such as medical or criminal records. In a hotel, large amounts of credit card details are processed, so it is eminently sensible to have a DPO in place.The DPO should always understand and be aware of all data flows in the hotel, and he should ensure that he has an updated data register at all times, in case any queries arise.The name of the DPO should be mentioned on all privacy statements on any media. When filing a complaint, the guest will reference the DPO by name.12) International and Group HotelsIf you are an independent hotel, this point does not apply.For hotels with multiple properties, or in multiple EU countries, it is important to align the procedures, and to identify who is taking the lead (presumably the country or regional office) for the coordinated GDPR efforts. If you are present in multiple EU countries, it is required to identify a "main establishment", and also the country lead supervisory authority.13) Existing ContractsIt is likely that for the processing of your data you are assisted by third parties or subcontractors. Make sure you are aware of who they are, and what your current contractual obligations are. It would also be an excellent opportunity to review these contracts to include any GDPR related aspects and ensuring the contractor is aware of his obligations under GDPR and that services or systems help you meet your GDR requirements.MORE FAQ'SWho is overseeing the introduction of these new regulations?Every country has one central organisation to oversee the introduction of the new regulation. For Belgium this is the "Privacy Commission" ( Any queries or complaints from guests will be addressed to them.Who is responsible?Ultimately it is you, the hotelier who is responsible. So, if any of the above points fail, and a guest files a complaint with the country authority, it will be addressed to you, and you will have to justify your actions to the Privacy Commission.What if I need assistance?Quality Hotel services can help you in several ways:Compile a comprehensive awareness campaign, tailored to your propertySet up a "data-register" for you, or provide you with a workable templateMaking sure the necessary "consent" statements are included on all printed and electronic media where you collect guest dataRecommend processes on how to obtain consent from guests, and childrenEnsuring your network and data storage devices are 100% safe and protectedDesign an "Impact Assessment Analysis" template documentCompiling the job description and procedure manual for a DPOCompiling your "Data" supplier list, and reviewing/suggesting contractual amendments

My data, my privacy Featured Articles· 8 September 2017
The future is full of revenue opportunities for hoteliers who try to monetize their guests’ data, but from the guest perspective, it may seem akin to living in a surveillance state. The hotel industry is doing its best to catch up to other industries that collect consumer data and turn it into actionable items and, therefore, monetize it in one way or another. It could be sharing guest data systemwide throughout a brand so that when a guest arrives at a particular location, his or her information is available so front-desk associates can make check-in a more personal, welcoming experience. It could be using facial-recognition technology to not only confirm a guest’s identity, but also to determine a guest’s mood and recommend an action, based on that analysis, to improve the guest’s stay.

Addressing consent management in GDPR

The Analytic Hospitality Executive | SAS·31 July 2017
When we talk about consent management for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), one of the key considerations is “consent for a purpose.” It might have been sufficient in the past to provide a form with a single generic consent check box and store the fact that consent was given or not. But under the GDPR, consent is per purpose, specific, might change over time and applies to a single type of interaction or channel. In GDPR terms, this is also known as “explicit consent.” Such explicit consent is given for a specific purpose -- and might only affect a portion of the personal data collected and stored.
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Talking Tech with Carson Booth - HITEC Amsterdam Advisory Council Chair

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. ·22 March 2017
This March 28-30, HFTP is producing its newest endeavor, HITEC Amsterdam, a smaller, boutique version of the ongoing, popular 45-year event. Helping to guide the educational component is long-time HFTP member, Carson Booth, vice president of global technology for Marriott International (Starwood). Using his expertise in the European, and international, hotel market, Booth leads a council of advisors to make the program uniquely European, with global appeal.What were some technology challenges that you faced early in your career? What are some of the top challenges you are facing today in the workplace? And how are you resolving them?I started my career in the late-'80s at the beginning of the technology revolution and have since witnessed the complete immersion of technology in most essential and non-essential activities. The evolution of usage went from users who were non-technical who then became tech-savvy, but still functioned well without the support of technology. Then as personal technology became universal, the tech-savvy user became tech-dependent. Extending further, we are now in the app era where users self-support personal experiences and expect accelerated technology release cycles with new functionality -- always seeking something "more."This ultimately results in the BYOD/BYOT blurring of business and personal use. Tech-dependence and devices in every pocket create very disruptive challenges to organizations trying to control the need for standard processes and data security against app-proliferation. Neither the food and beverage director, nor their niece, should be allowed to download an inventory management app. Or even more concerning, develop one themselves.In addition to the BYOT concerns of today, technology sophistication, especially technology security, has far exceeded most skills and capabilities of today's property-based IT manager. This creates gaps in security and service levels. Fortunately, above-property solutions with professionalized service level agreements (SLA) and security management are now maturing and the whole industry will continue to benefit.What technology developments interest you most and why?Augmented Intelligence -- The intersection of technology advancements in mobile and cloud computing delivers untethered, real-time information, communication and enhanced decision-making capabilities. The hospitality industry has a significant opportunity to profit from these advancements by recognizing that our guests are empowered by this intersection. Companies should redefine Data as an organizational strategic asset and build customer intelligence programs to leverage this data to ultimately provide a highly personalized experience for the guest.Micro-services Architecture -- Technology sophistication for an individual hotel has surpassed its ability to manage and secure it. This sophistication tipping point, along with industry advancements in cloud services, is driving technology above property and locking hoteliers into recurring services models where product suites can stagnate. Developers and suppliers that adopt a flexible, micro-services architecture will create a significant share shift by enabling a more flexible, open and modular approach to applications which suit an operation's needs and provides best product choice.What are some consumer-driven technology practices that have driven technology applications in the hotel?Portable personal content is driving two distinct changes in hotel technology. First, hotel internet service bandwidth continues to be a significant detractor to the customer experience. Customers compare the internet access speed/cost ratio against their home/consumer experience and place a very vocal, highly-weighted critique against operators delivering sub-par experiences. On-street mobile technology continues to improve in speed and data caps, and is also driving increased expectations for hotel internet access performance. I look forward to the day where this expectation peaks and the on-street and in-room connection experience is ubiquitous and indistinguishable, delivering an experience on-par with in-home Wi-Fi.Second, viewership and purchase of hotel-supplied content continues to decline due to increasing customer expectations and desire for bespoke content and lineups. These expectations are supported by capacity increases of portable media devices and cloud services like Netflix, Amazon and iTunes. These services are driving the guest's desire to display their personalized content using the in-room television and media players.What are some best practices you have for running an IT department in a field that is always changing?The constant evolution of technology is unsustainable for the average individual hotel with limited resources. Hotels need to carefully prioritize their investment decisions and consider the following best practices:Remain agile in product choice and contracting terms. The balance of right fit and terms needs to be weighed against medium- and long-term technology trends in the industry. Lengthy contract terms will hinder an organization's ability to pivot when necessary.Keep it simple. If it feels complicated and is not well-understood, then it should be reconsidered and questioned more.Spend constrained training funds on life-long learning skills and not on IT training. The technology of the day is transitory and so are the training investments in certifications for IT staff. It is more critical and will provide greater lasting value for IT teams to learn life-long skills like public speaking and financial management for non-finance people. The technical training can be on-the-job or self-study.Become more agile and responsive to your business partners. Do this by adopting a DevOps approach which emphasizes collaboration and communication between involved parties to break down the silos of the legacy plan-build-run organizational structures. Your business teams will thank you.Celebrate success. Digital/mobile teams receive more praise than IT due to the front-end nature of their solutions; however, do not forget their stuff is a pretty front-end for complex back-end systems and interfaces. So be sure to celebrate success across the entire technology spectrum.Having worked in hotels across the globe, in what aspect do you see regional differences?There are definite technology expectation and capability differences by region driven in large part by legislation, affordability and other market considerations. For example, in the U.S., convenience outweighs privacy. Therefore services like automated credit card settlement (chip/signature vs. more secure chip/pin) and keyless check-ins (registration-free) are examples of trading additional information or accepting greater data risk for quicker service.Global and regional operators are constantly tasked with managing legislation and requirement variances across political-economic unions, like the EU and member-states. For example, the registration card remains paper-based across some EU countries, but not all. Variations in VAT and other fiscal requirements for receipts and financial processing need to be accommodated for; as well as, differences in data nationalization efforts for countries like Russia versus the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).In Asia, several differences are noticeable from highly-connected and automated Japan with pervasive 4G, cube and robot-staffed hotels, to solution inward-looking China which challenge global operators in their quest for operational, guest-service and data consistency.There are broader inconsistencies in language requirements and staff capabilities, costs for internet services, currency exchange and average rates which impact solution affordability, as well as definite gaps in true global cloud service offerings and service-provider. Its complex and requires local knowledge with global coordination for the larger brands to efficiently deliver consistent technology solutions to enhance the customer experience.Describe a professional experience that has stuck with you. What did you learn from this experience?Many years ago, U.S. legislation drove the need for greater accountability in financial reporting for U.S.-owned assets held around the world. In Europe, we embarked on consolidating and raising above-property the hotel-based financial reporting systems for 68 hotels in 10 countries to a self-hosted private cloud service. We built and deployed a self-managed data center, created appropriate policies and processes, and brought the solution up technically. By today's capabilities, this seems an easy and natural solution, but at the time, it was new for our users and IT staff. This took an equally-significant effort to win their hearts and minds and to prove the solution provided the needed security and service levels.This program has had three lasting effects. The first being, the program's IT processes and security program laid the foundation for Starwood's Global Information Security Policies and started the Information Risk Management program which is still deemed best in industry today. The second was the clear establishment of an above-property technology strategy for Starwood.The third lasting effect, which is personal in nature, came with the realization that one success doesn't necessarily translate into a pattern. Fond memories remain of the spectacular failure of the immediate subsequent project to implement a hosted, enterprise project management solution for all departments. Learning how to develop and present a business case, bring others along and identify when to press ahead versus when to walk-away, is one of the most important lessons of my career.Leadership and teamwork are always important. Describe an experience when you led and worked with a team to resolve an issue.The decentralized property technology that remained local created an impediment to our company's strategy. Our team was tasked with identifying multiple paths to advance property technology agility, security and standardization across the globe. We brought together a small, but very capable team, to seek solutions internally and externally with major tier-1 technology partners.Enterprise class solutions were preferred, but came with a significant cost premium which we knew the board would struggle to approve. Nine months of effort around design, scalability, iterative pricing negotiations and navigating the inherent sacred cows on both sides of the table, led to a tired and very frustrated internal team with significant personal/ownership stakes.Finally, we had a proposal that we could present and defend to our senior leadership team, but we knew its price tag was a long shot and would come down to a few minutes pitch followed by a yes, revise or in this case, a no. Several weeks prior to this decision, it was important to start a coping process to help the team transition away from their personal ownership stakes and realize in any sizable business no one person can make all the decisions. Most importantly, this included helping them recognize that as a team the journey was a success regardless of the outcome.HFTP's inaugural HITEC Amsterdam is the first of three HITEC events planned for 2017, and will take place 28-30 March at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The pre-conference events will take place on 28 March, followed by the full HITEC Amsterdam event featuring two full days of education, an expo and networking party. HITEC Amsterdam registration is now available on the HITEC Amsterdam website. Co-located with HITEC Amsterdam are two additional events brought by HFTP industry allies. The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Region Europe will locate its Revenue Optimization Conference (ROC) with HITEC Amsterdam. Also co-locating is the Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) Insight Summit Europe.

Welcome to the new, open SAS!

The Analytic Hospitality Executive | SAS·13 March 2017
For many years, we’ve been saying that to do advanced analytics, well, you must have good quality, clean and standardised data. And now we’re fast approaching the deadline for businesses to be compliant with the GDPR regulations (with fines for noncompliance up to four per cent of revenue).
Article by Mihaela Lica Butler

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - A Talk with Alvaro Hidalgo

Hospitality Net ·13 February 2017
Continuing our interview series in anticipation of HITEC Amsterdam which takes place at the end of March (28-30) at RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre, we interviewed Alvaro HIDALGO, the Managing Partner of FIRST LOGIC Consulting and a respected Professional in the implementation of low & high contact traceability systems in Hospitality & Sports related facilities.Hidalgo shared with us ideas and updates about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the impact the new law that will be in force in May 2018 will have on the Hospitality Industry. Adopted in April 2016, the law aims to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals within the European Union.As far as hospitality is concerned, the new GDPR changes the landscape dramatically."The new GDPR expands all rights and freedoms of data subjects and provides new processes and procedures for companies to manage personal data," Alvaro Hidalgo told us in an exclusive interview. "In addition, these methods need to be proven, and businesses will be compelled to maintain records of the same. Therefore, a clear traceability model is now part of the obligations of the regulation."Alvaro went on to explain that the new law implies the creation of new responsibilities and positions within a company, like Data Protection Officer (DPO), whose role will be to ensure that all data management within a business is carried according to GPDR. In other words, GDPR places the burden of proof with the company.As such, new EU GPDR will obsolete the current management of data currently in place in most companies, where various departments collect the needed data and carry the custody in the way they deem appropriate.While the EU GPDR includes significant legal changes (aforementioned "burden of proof," Codes of Conduct, Certifications, and Privacy impact assessments), the law focuses on the establishment of robust, consistent internal processes.The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law requires a complete overhaul of all internal activities and processes that involve capture, use, storage or transfer of Personal Data, and as such, it affects not only IT and legal departments but all departments of any company."So companies will have to assess ongoing processes and their compliance with GPDR. New procedures will be implemented, and training material and systems for all staff involved will be put in place. As I said, a complete overhaul," concluded Alvaro (pictured right).While some may consider the implementation of the GDPR a major problem, Alvaro believes it is an opportunity for companies:"Centralized and coordinated data management is the first step to using Big Data. The hospitality industry manages a large quantity of personal data, which means that it will no doubt create the conditions to exploit new avenues, to innovate services, and to provide new sources of revenue."Planning for HITEC Amsterdam is in full swing with guidance from an advisory council representing eight European countries. The committee is chaired by Carson Booth, CHTP, and vice-chaired by Derek Wood. For the latest news, follow HFTP/HITEC on HITEC Bytes, PineappleSearch, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (@HFTP) and Instagram (HFTP_HITEC). For more information about HITEC Amsterdam, contact the HFTP Meetings & Special Events Department at, +1 (512) 249-5333.


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