HFTP Connect – Hospitality Blog

Posts Tagged - customer service

E-cigarettes: Is it time for hoteliers to butt in or butt out?

Written by: Frank Wolfe, CAE

Editors Note: Since the publication of this article, movement to regulate e-cigarettes by the FDA has progressed. On the local government level and in other countries e-cigarettes have been banned in public places or banned all together. Recently, the European Parliament rejected a proposal to regulate e-cigarettes as medical devices.

The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) boasted the largest show floor in its history featuring more than 3,200 exhibitors. It was a sight to see, with a lot of improvements on things we have been hearing about in the industry for quite a while.

One trend that really stood out to me was the proliferation of e-cigarette vendors and users. The growth in sales of the e-cigarette will likely make it a habit that’s here to stay. Many large tobacco companies seem to think so, including R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Altria (think Marlboro).

Read More »

2014 Kicks Off With New Member Benefits

Written by: Danielle Chong

This past year, 2013, brought many changes to HFTP and the association hopes to grow even more in the new year. With growth comes new benefits for HFTP members. Recently, HFTP has partnered with other organizations to offer world class education, extended office hours for increased accessibility to staff, revamped CPE tracking capabilities, and continued savings programs to relevant businesses. Below are details on the great new benefits HFTP members were able to experience in 2014. Read More »

How Replying to TripAdvisor Reviews Keeps the Four Seasons No.1 in the City

Written by: Taylor Short

Ranking highly on TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index, a rating system based on quantity, quality and recency of customer reviews, is the best way to draw new customers to your hotel. Knowing that responding to reviews can entice others to write their own, the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin jumped 26 spots to become the highest rated hotel in the city. But how exactly did it happen? Read More »

Employees Untethered

Written by: Warren Markwart

This is the year of the tablet. Try and find a vendor, that doesn’t have a tablet as part of their product.

In two years we will have forgotten that there was actually a “year of the tablet.” As mobile, hand held computing will become so ubiquitous in the operation of our business.

Tablet productivity will come from two sources. The guest and the hotel employee.

The guest becomes another user on your system without the training you would normally give to your staff. They make reservations, will check themselves into your hotel, order room service, request towels, all with no training.

Now just think of the effect tablets in the hands of your employees will have. They will be mobile, but more importantly, training times will be greatly reduced. You will even be able to train a general manager or director of sales to check a guest into the hotel. Read More »

It’s Going to Change Bigtime

Written by: Warren Markwart

The REALLY Big Show

“The Rise of the Metamediaries” sounds like a science fiction horror show.

The “rise” occurred on Tuesday afternoon and It was a REALLY big show starring senior people from Facebook, Google, Trip Advisor and Room 77. The stage was groaning with all these heavyweights in one place. Cindy Estis-Green did a great job in getting each to discuss their strategies of:

  • Dreaming
  • Planning
  • Booking
  • Experience
  • Sharing

She had two pundits that started the Q&A into a frank and lively discussion. Read More »

It’s All About the Guest

Written by: Warren Markwart

Hundreds of vendors are about to spend three days hawking their wares to thousands of attendees at HITEC. It’s a thrilling time for all the techies who attend. It’s like a toy show. All new bright shiny stuff to look at. This year, Tablets and clouds…… sounds like what doctors and weatherman talk about.

On the exhibit floor, there will be magnificent castles with princesses spinning stories of the “magic wand” that will solve all technology problems. A three ring circus with all sorts of software performing a cunning array of stunts. Travelling medicine wagons with tonics to cure all that ails you. Read More »

You Fools, You Picked Me Again

Written by: Brad More

Well, hello again! For better or worse, I’m back for another year as a HITEC Guest Blogger. I so enjoyed meeting and speaking with many of you last year, and writing up my thoughts,that when the opportunity arose I once again tossed my hat in the ring. I’m pleased and gratified that HFTP has (foolishly) seen fit to let me do it again this year!

Rather than repeat myself and my bio, I’ll just point you to my introductory post from last year; Pretty much all remains the same, including my interests in mobile, discovery and cloud.

For this year, however, I have my eye on a couple of new concepts that aren’t so much about technology itself, but how technology can help us do better serving our customers, whether those customers are guests or other businesses. Read More »

How to Brew a Better E-mail Strategy

Written by: Donald Moro

Starbucks Knows Coffee, Tea and E-mail Marketing

I don’t drink coffee. Coffee upsets my stomach and makes me jittery. And yet, I love Starbucks.

While enjoying a fine cup of tea the other day at my local Starbucks, I reflected on why I feel so connected to Starbucks and how this connection could help hospitality professionals.

My conclusion: Through frequent, friendly and financially rewarding communication, Starbucks makes me want to visit its stores and buy its product.

Communicate Frequently

Starbucks sends me an e-mail once or twice every week. Sometimes I am too busy to look at the e-mails, and sometimes I have a minute so I take a peek. I think that Starbucks counts on this and contacts me frequently enough so that there is always something new for me to look at.

The title of the e-mail always gives me a clue as to the content. For example, “Send Starbucks Give eCards This Valentine’s Day,” or “Get a Free Drink When You Buy Starbucks Blonde Roast Coffee.”

When you send e-mails to your members or your guests, does the e-mail title always describe the contents? Are you sending communication in a consistent time frame so your recipients know when to expect the next note from you? Read More »

What Bill Marriott’s Parting Words Mean to Your Company

Written by: Matt Lucas, CHAE

Bill Marriott stepped down recently as CEO of Marriott International. In the flood of news coverage, the focus has been on three things:

  1. His business history

  2. His successor

  3. The future of the company and the industry

In general, the news coverage is missing the core ingredient to his success. Can you discover that ingredient in this video?

Hint: It’s in the very first sentence. Read More »

Reducing Your Technology Footprint — The New Normal

Written by: Alan Young

During the economic downturn, many families decided that the prudent thing was to downsize their lives by purchasing smaller homes and vehicles, but most importantly, by simplifying their lives. Similarly, hotel companies also downsized, frequently letting staff go, which created additional pressure on remaining staff to hold the company and its underlying technology together.

So, the question is: Is there a way to consolidate technology to reap full benefits without downsizing and eliminating valuable systems?

In most full-service hotels, you may find up to 20 systems on property that track multiple facets of the hotel’s operations, including PMS, POS, PBX, call accounting, door locking, video, sales and catering, accounting, revenue management, asset tracking, incident reporting and internal Intranet. Then there are “above property” solutions, such as central reservation systems, channel management solutions, online distribution Extranets, a brand.com proprietary booking engine and often even more.

Managing so many disparate systems is a technological nightmare, as each system needs to communicate to another on different levels of complexity. These interface points are a source of much concern to hotels and hotel companies. The hospitality industry has made the technological landscape so incredibly complicated that productivity and go-forward technology strategies have been affected. Even worse, non-integrated systems can negatively affect customer satisfaction, because the staff has to focus on technology rather than the customer. And in hospitality, customer service is—and always will be—king.

A number of industry associations have tried to standardize the integration/interfacing of systems to simplify the technological landscape. While this is a step in the right direction, wouldn’t it be easier just to try and consolidate some of these solutions? The hotel technology community is beginning to grasp this idea, and run with it.

By having a large number of systems above property or in the cloud, hotel companies can stop focusing on technology and infrastructure, and focus instead on guests. The hotel property management system and central reservations system are converging into one system, helping to alleviate many of the technology challenges. We’re also seeing a number of other solutions deployed above property, most notably CRM and revenue management. These systems go hand-in-hand to ensure great customer satisfaction and maximize profitability.

Finally, another area of hotel technology will soon be deployed above property: the financial management system. It just makes sense that all pertinent financial data, along with guest data surrounding a hotel, be easily accessible via a web browser. This will reduce hotels’ technological footprint and allow management to interact with systems no matter where they are located.

The industry is well on its way to “downsizing,” but still has a number of challenges ahead.

Alan Young is VP of global marketing for Infor Softbrands, a leading provider of business application software. Mr. Young is past Chair of The Board of Director of The OpenTravel Alliance, and has also been involved with AH&LA, HEDNA and HTNG. He has been a guest speaker at World Travel Mart, HITEC, HEDNA, The HOT Conference and a number of other industry events.

Learn more from Infor Softbrands on their blog, follow them on Twitter @softbrands_hosp and network with them on LinkedIn.

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