News Briefs

  • 6/28/2023

    Kalibri Labs and Hotel Industry Associations Sign a Letter of Intent for Groundbreaking Commercial Strategy Certification Program

    people in a room

    Kalibri Labs, an innovative data science leader in hotel performance analytics and benchmarking, announced a groundbreaking initiative, which will be supported by multiple industry associations, that will revolutionize the approach of hoteliers in a market dominated by digital disruption. 

    In a strategic collaboration, Kalibri Labs and leading industry associations including AAHOA, HFTP, and HSMAI, will launch the first-ever Commercial Strategy Certification Program. This announcement follows the recent release of “Demystifying the Digital Market & Guide to Commercial Strategy”, published in partnership with Hotel Business, a market leader in delivering insights to owners and operators. The new certification program will provide practical tools and techniques to hotel operators faced with increasing challenges of operating profitably in a marketplace with rapidly rising costs.

    The Commercial Strategy Certification Program, powered by Kalibri Labs, will address the emerging discipline of commercial strategy as an imperative for hoteliers operating in a world of digital disruption. The online certification program will emphasize the importance of growing asset value as a measure of success and introduce the concept of profit contribution as a critical component in commercial decision-making. 

    Traditional approaches to commercial techniques have typically focused on maximizing revenue. However, the Commercial Strategy Certification Program will underscore the added significance of growing asset value by focusing on profit contribution. This shift in perspective aims to ensure hotel professionals consider the bottom line in commercial spending decisions, such as those around advertising, sales deployment, digital campaigns, and loyalty initiatives.

    Recognizing the need for a comprehensive and multidisciplinary curriculum, the program will be developed and implemented with guidance from an expert advisory board comprising renowned industry thought leaders, academics, and experienced practitioners. The curriculum will encompass many topics from calculation of asset value to tradeoff analysis and assessing actions related to a hotel’s business mix.

    Cindy Estis Green, CEO and Co-founder of Kalibri Labs expressed the value and impact: "In working on the certification with one of my co-authors on the book, Dave Roberts from the faculty of Cornell’s Hotel School, we recognize that a rigorous certification will define a standard of excellence and convey the necessary skills and knowledge to advance the emerging discipline of commercial strategy throughout the industry. It is a critical toolkit to manage effectively with the high costs of operating in today’s marketplace.” 

    The participating organizations will target various roles, including on-property and above-property general managers, financial and accounting managers, hotel owners, asset managers, and commercial teams consisting of revenue, sales, marketing, and digital leaders to gain deeper expertise in this new approach. With digital disruption significantly impacting profitability, acquiring the necessary skills to navigate these challenges becomes crucial for sustained success.

    Several prominent industry figures have voiced their support for the program. Frank Wolfe, HFTP CEO, explains, "This is a sea change in the hotel industry, and we want to be part of it. We recognize the significant transformation in how hotels go to market and are committed to contributing to this evolution." 

    Bob Gilbert, President and CEO of the largest hospitality sales and marketing professional society in the world (HSMAI), also expressed enthusiasm, emphasizing that “commercial strategy certification is a vehicle to sustaining a healthy hotel ecosystem in the decades to come. Leadership in revenue management, sales, marketing and digital have already started to come together in integrated planning and decision making, and the commercial strategy framework will facilitate this process.”

    "Hoteliers at various levels must grasp the vital importance of evaluating performance based on profit contribution,” said Bharat Patel, AAHOA Chairman. "At present, the burden of debt service has doubled, while labor costs have surged since the pandemic. Consequently, owners are scrutinizing every dollar. A primary avenue to improve asset value lies in growing a hotel’s profit contribution. The main controllable element for a hotel lies in managing customer acquisition expenses by being selective about the business mix pursued."

    Upon successful certification, each team can adapt its own commercial strategy playbook according to its specific portfolio and organizational structure. The Commercial Strategy Certification Program is projected to launch by the close of 2023. 

  • 6/21/2023

    Shiji and IPORT Partner to Transform Hotel Restaurant Operations with All-in-One Tablet and Payment Device Solution

    Shiji teaser logo

    Shiji, a global hospitality technology innovator, has partnered with IPORT, an award-winning manufacturer known for enhancing the usability of iPads and iPhones, to introduce an all-in-one software solution for hotel restaurants. This collaboration will provide hoteliers with a seamless combination of a tablet and payment device to maximize their F&B operations.

    The integrated iOS and payment device solution simplifies guest service for hotel restaurant servers, providing them with an effortless tool to cater to their guests' needs. As a certified Apple partner, Shiji and IPORT guarantee exceptional performance and reliability. Hoteliers can choose from multiple device options, including iPad Pro, iPad Mini, and iPhone, ensuring flexibility and compatibility with their operations.

    “IPORT products are built around modularity and flexibility that empower our hospitality customers to do more with the iOS platform. We are thrilled to partner with a leading iPad and iPhone cloud PMS and POS platform provider like Shiji,” said Chris Lawson, Head of Partnerships, IPORT. “We look forward to innovating with Shiji in disrupting legacy, monolithic providers who have limited the industry from harnessing the power of iOS and mobility. The future is bright, and the possibilities are endless with IPORT, iOS, and Shiji.”

    "The partnership with IPORT is a significant milestone for Shiji in our commitment to provide innovative technology solutions for the hospitality industry," said Ryan King, Senior Vice President of Shiji in the Americas. "By combining our expertise with IPORT’s hardware solutions, we empower hoteliers to streamline restaurant operations and deliver exceptional guest experiences. This collaboration represents another step forward in our dedication to driving success in the Americas, and globally."

    The tablet and payment device solution seamlessly integrates with multiple payment gateways, allowing hoteliers to choose the system that best suits their needs. By simplifying the payment process, it reduces operational complexities, minimizes errors, and saves valuable time and resources for hoteliers.

  • 6/24/2023

    Steak n Shake Adds New Way to Pay

    Steak n Shake exterior in Indy

    Steak n Shake will offer PopID Check In and PopPay on its self-ordering kiosks in select locations in the Orlando market, with plans to expand to more than 300 corporate locations. PopID Check In is an opt-in service that enables consumers to scan their face to automatically sign into their loyalty reward account and see their past orders, making the ordering process as convenient as possible. When a guest checks in with PopID, they also have the option to use PopPay to automatically complete their payment.

    “Our partnership with PopID is a key part of our effort to provide guests with a fast and seamless ordering experience," said Keith Correia, Chief Information Officer. "When using PopID Check In, a guest does not need to use their phone or take out their wallet as part of the ordering process. They will automatically be checked in for loyalty rewards, and they can choose to make an automated payment with PopPay. A guest can even see their past orders and quickly reorder their favorite menu items. Ordering at Steak n Shake has never been easier or more convenient.”

    In addition to enhancing the guest experience and improving order throughput, PopPay helps to reduce fraud and offers lower payment processing fees.

  • 6/28/2023

    AI Creates Happier Guests and Increases Hotel Profitability, Says AI Pioneer

    Frank Reeves

    AI creates happier guests and increases hotel profitability, says tech pioneer Frank Reeves, who launched the first AI-powered booking engine in 2017.

    allora.ai provides booking and retention technology to over 2000 hotels around the world. It recently joined forces with SHR Global to create a new global hospitality tech powerhouse, with an unrivalled suite of products using AI to maximise both the guest’s online experience and hotel revenue.

    Reeves explains: “AI offers hotels the opportunity to really predict and respond to guest intent in real time. To know what they’re thinking, what they’re likely to do next. Even before they do.  

    “At allora.ai we’ve analysed over 400 million online journeys – and counting - to ensure we really know what the guest wants – and what the hotel needs to do to encourage them to book. And once they’ve booked to ensure they don’t cancel their stay.

    “Thanks to AI we can predict both current and future guest behaviour, to always stay ahead of customer trends. We were very much ahead of everyone else in predicating the rapid rise of cancellations, which can be as high as 40% on some channels.

    “But AI can predict when a guest is likely to cancel and can ensure they stay with a free room upgrade or complimentary bottle of wine. The end result is that the guest is pleasantly surprised and the hotel keeps the booking.

    The merger earlier this year between Avvio and the SHR Group has brought together a unique set of hospitality tech capabilities with AI at their heart. In addition to the AI-powered allora.ai booking and retention engine SHR Group now brings together its entire suite of tools built to maximise both guest satisfaction and their own profitability, including the allora central reservation system (CRS), customer relation management (CRM) and loyalty systems.

    “There’s never been a more powerful suite of tools at a hotel’s disposal to ensure total guest satisfaction coupled with increased hotel profitability,” Reeves explains. “We’re years ahead of our competitors when it comes to AI – and we know how it can create happier guests and greatly increase hotel profitability,” he says.

  • 6/28/2023

    Canary Technologies & Visual Matrix Join Forces to Provide Digital Guest Management Solutions for Hoteliers

    Canary Technologies logo

    Canary Technologies, a Guest Management System, has partnered with Visual Matrix to elevate the guest experience for partner hotels and brands, such as Best Western. The collaboration will bring Canary’s Guest Management solutions, including Check-In, Checkout, Upselling, Guest Messaging, Digital Tipping, and Digital Authorizations, to the Visual Matrix property management system (PMS) that’s trusted by hotels around the world.

    In addition to elevating the guest experience for hotels, the combined technologies will help properties boost their revenue, streamline operations, and increase staff efficiency, making worker shortages and operational challenges easier to manage.

    “We’re thrilled to integrate our digital guest journey platform to Visual Matrix’s property management system to modernize the hotel technology stack for thousands of hotels, including Best Western properties,” said Harman Narula Singh, CEO and co-founder of Canary Technologies. “As the hotel industry continues to evolve and adapt, this partnership will enable properties to integrate key technologies into their day-to-day operations that will elevate the guest experience and streamline operations.”

    Charlie Rhodes, Chief Strategy Officer, said Visual Matrix shares Canary’s enthusiasm for what they can accomplish together. "We are very excited to partner with Canary to enable integration for our more than 3,000 hoteliers to Canary's suite of guest experience tools. Given the continued labor shortage we’re facing across the hospitality market, we recognize the importance of intelligent solutions that simplify and streamline the workload at the front desk, while providing guests with a modern, intuitive experience from booking to departure."

  • 6/28/2023

    Survey Notes Failure to Modernize Key Apps and Data Limits Hospitality/Travel Companies’ Ability to Benefit from Cutting-Edge AI Technologies

    rackspace logo

    Most in hospitality and travel have been slow to modernize key applications including customer resource management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human resources (HR) systems. In fact, 76% of them agree they will only benefit from AI if they modernize legacy apps and data, according to a new Rackspace Technology/AWS survey of 1,420 global IT leaders across industries.   

    Although travel/hospitality respondents identify increased security (59%), improved efficiency (50%) and increased cost reduction (48%) as the leading motivators of modernization – and ERP, CRM, and HR as the apps that most need upgrading – organizations are still dragging their feet on updating legacy infrastructure.  Of legacy infrastructure, only half (52%) can be modernized, industry IT decision-makers note with 50% saying they have been in the cloud between 1-10 years. 

    Who Is Leading Modernization at Travel/Hospitality Companies?            

    Overwhelmingly, modernization initiatives are led by IT departments (65%) and executive leadership/C-suite (46%). 

    The Benefits & Challenges of Modernization 

    When hospitality/travel IT executives were asked to identify the top expected outcomes of modernizing, security, cost savings and efficiency led the way, followed by speed, ability to adopt advanced technologies, customization and innovation.  Respondents also noted that modernization has resulted in better data management, integration, quality, and lowered data costs. 

    The most critical apps and data to modernize are enterprise, CRM, HR, bespoke apps, business intelligence, data storage, content management, data analytics, governance and security and data integration. 

    However, many insurers still face unforeseen challenges to modernization, including limited resources, cultures resistant to change, integration challenges, lack of senior buy-in, lack of a clear roadmap and communication between stakeholders. 

    If insurers fail to modernize legacy apps and data systems, respondents believe it will result in increased costs, inability to adopt advanced technologies, lack of innovation, poor security, reduced speed/agility and integration barriers in that order.  

    “Travel/hospitality companies cite costs and security issues as two of the main reasons why they have not modernized their apps and data,” said Jeff DeVerter, Chief Technology Evangelist at Rackspace Technology. “However, they also say two of the key benefits of modernization are lower costs and greater security, indicating that many organizations are stuck in a Catch-22.” 

    Coinciding with the results of Rackspace’s Cloud Modernization survey Rackspace Technology recently announced Foundry by Generative AI by Rackspace (FAIR), a global practice dedicated to accelerating the secure, responsible, and sustainable adoption of generative AI solutions across industries. FAIR aims to aid in many of the problems respondents shared, including accelerating the pragmatic and secure adoption of generative AI.  

    Survey Methodology 

    Commissioned by Rackspace Technology and supported by AWS, the survey was conducted by Coleman Parkers Research between April 27, 2023 – May 25, 2023.  The survey is based on the responses of 1,420 IT decision-makers across manufacturing, digital native/technology, financial services, retail, government/public sector, and healthcare sectors in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. 

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