Hospitality Industry Technology Update: “Hoteliers Need to Own Their Property Website”

While low cost and minimal fees are an appealing draw, rental websites are a classic example of a scenario in which one gets what one pays for, but in this case, possibly even less since the ownership of the site and what hoteliers are putting funds toward is not theirs at the end of the day.hotel website This doesn’t even take into account the additional shortcomings seen from rented hotel websites such as no search engine optimization, little service or support following the initial set-up, a limited number of site pages, photos or content and so on.

The hospitality industry has seen a number of agencies offering hoteliers a low-cost, low-budget website that they can rent. It has been widely noted that these agencies, which promise all of the bells and whistles associated with investing thousands of dollars and development resources, often leave hoteliers in the lurch after the deal is done.

Why? A number of reasons, but perhaps the most important is that agencies that rent hotel websites do not provide hoteliers with true ownership of their content which becomes problematic as explained below.

It should come as no surprise that a hotel’s digital assets should be owned by the property, however, the subject of digital ownership seems to be overlooked by hoteliers doing business with rental agencies. Hoteliers’ ownership should reach past the physical ownership of their property to include their digital content and here is why:

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Hospitality Industry Management Update: “Protect Your Property from Common Industry Scams”

To prevent any type of scam, Bragiel suggests that hoteliers establish reliable contacts within banks, businesses, and the hotel’s credit card processor. That way, if questions of authenticity arise,Scam the front desk staff can turn to trusted sources. “When in doubt, we always encourage our members to check with the folks they have relationships with,” says Bragiel

It could be disguised as a typical guest interaction: Someone checks in under a corporate account that does not require a credit card, only for management to later realize the guest was not an employee of the company. Or, it could be someone whose credit card fails to go through, so he or she provides the clerk with a false authorization code. Both of these scenarios are common lodging industry scams, pulled by con artists who exploit front desk protocols to get a free stay, and oftentimes managers don’t even know what happened until the guest is long gone.

Fraud is a growing issue in the United States, with retailers losing $32 million in 2014 to credit card scamming, up from $23 million in 2013, according to a recent Business Insider report. For hoteliers to avoid becoming a victim of one of these cons, it is important that they not only recognize the signs of common industry scams but also learn how to be proactive in protecting a property from vulnerability.

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Hospitality Industry Management Update: “3 Ways the Hotel Industry is Changing”

“We’re under attack right now,” he said. “We’re under direct attack. We’ve got Expedia and Orbitz planning a merger. They have 75% of the online marketplace. This is like the Klingons and Romulans teaming up together.”3 ways hotel industry changing…David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International, said he is not surprised to see consolidation among online travel agencies considering that some hotel companies are consolidating, too.

J. Allen Smith has a problem.

“I keep feeling: ‘What should I be worried about?’” the president and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts said Tuesday during a general session “The leaders forum” panel at the 37th annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.

“You’re mindful of a plethora of risks. None of them seems to be materializing in a way that seems to be disrupting anything, but you have to be mindful of them,” he said

Smith’s comment succinctly summed up the sentiment on Day Two of the NYU Conference. With the industry hitting on all cylinders, it can be difficult to find things to be concerned about.

Difficult, but not impossible it turns out, as top leaders from around the industry discussed their biggest concerns in this part of the cycle. One of the recurring themes throughout the three-hour long series of morning general sessions had to do with how the hotel industry itself is in transition.

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Hospitality Industry Technology Update: “How Hotels Can Engage Guests Through Social Media”

As hotel guests continue to turn to social media as their primary source for information gathering and remote communication,SocialMedia hoteliers will be presented with numerous opportunities to create engagement among their guests via social media. If they succeed at connecting with guests on a social level, they can remain at the forefront of those customers’ minds when they book their next trip.

It’s no secret that social media plays a major role in the way the hospitality industry connects with customers. There are, however, more ways for hotels to use social media than to just attract guests before they book. With creativity and ingenuity, hotels can use this medium as a powerful marketing channel to build brand affinity and loyalty by engaging guests in conversations during their stays.

Below are simple but innovative ways a few major hotels are already using social media to create memorable guest experiences:

Installing Social Walls
The desire to connect with and meet new people is one that is shared by nearly all of mankind, but compelling any person to actively make connections with other guests during a hotel stay can be tricky. The Four Seasons Dallas, however, came up with a brilliant tactic to overcome this obstacle. During the Fourth of July holiday in 2013, the hotel unveiled “social walls” in its lobby. The walls consisted of screens that showed social posts of people staying at the hotel.

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Hospitality Industry Risk Update: “Is Your Hotel Properly Collecting and Preserving Incident Related Evidence ?”

Videos can make or break a case. For example, in one case, video footage clearly showed that the plaintiff initiated the fist fight that was at the heart of his lawsuit.collecting evidence The video would have absolved the hotel from all liability, but the hotel failed to properly preserve this key piece of evidence.As a result, the case had to be settled instead of vigorously defended. Further, as digital surveillance systems continue to become the industry standard, judges have been less forgiving when it comes to claims that the pertinent footage was either lost or never preserved.

By the time a case reaches an attorney’s desk, all too often pertinent evidence either has been lost — or was never collected in the first place. California’s statute of limitations for a personal lawsuit is two years; consequently, an attorney’s first involvement in an incident on your property usually happens more than two years after the incident has occurred. If your hotel or resort has not properly gathered and preserved evidence, it becomes very challenging to recreate what transpired. Hence, it is imperative that; your hotel have formal written evidence retention policies; that first responders and security teams are properly trained on how to gather the evidence; and that hotel staff take steps to ensure that this evidence is preserved. Failing to collect and preserve evidence can turn a defensible case into a major settlement.

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Hospitality Industry Conference Update: “California Hotel Owner Conference”

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Come out and see Brad Durbin from Petra Risk Solutions in the educational session:

Hotel Cyber Liability:  Claim Trends & Cost Analysis

 

Last year’s Hotel Owner Conference was a huge success!  So back by popular demand, join the California Hotel & Lodging Association, June 11-12, 2015 at the historic, state-of-the-art Silverado Resort & Spa, in the world-famous Napa Valley. The conference will bring together hotel owners, brands, brokers, CEO’s and other hotel industry experts for a conference all about networking, deal-making and high-level education.

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Hospitality Industry Management Update: “5 Ways to Improve Responses on TripAdvisor”

Leisman cited data form a Phocuswright poll of the TripAdvisor community of travelers that found 84% of U.S. users agreed that an appropriate managementonline engagement response to a bad review “improves my impression of the hotel.” Six of 10 users (62%) said seeing hotel management responses to reviews generally “makes me more likely to book it (versus a comparable hotel that didn’t respond to travelers).”

It’s funny observing the disparate number of policies hoteliers employ regarding reviews on TripAdvisor. Company A insists on responding to every comment, while Company B tells its managers to reply only to the bad. Company C takes a different tact entirely: It doesn’t respond to any.

Those are the broad buckets. Nuances and further variation exist at each stage along the spectrum. And each company that employs them insists theirs is the only and obvious approach.

Some variety might be warranted. One hotel is often not like the other, so I understand a degree of unique plans that appeal to unique bases of demand, product offerings and location types.

But clearly there are some hoteliers who, despite their best intentions, are engaging with guests on TripAdvisor in a manner that could prove potentially harmful to further review rankings and thus future bookings.

In cases such as these, I find it’s best to go straight to the source for the prescribed best practices. In this case, that would be TripAdvisor—or more specifically, Heather Leisman, business VP of industry marketing.

This topic was top of mind for her. TripAdvisor recently released a report which examined why travelers write reviews. The top reason? “To share useful information with others” and because “they find reviews helpful, so they want to give back.” (Who knew the TripAdvisor online community was so altruistic?)

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