Smoky Mountain Resorts, a family-owned business known for its portfolio of three unique family-friendly hotels – the Creekstone Inn, Country Cascades Waterpark Resort, and The Resort at Governor's Crossing – is dedicated to delivering a high level of excellence even amid labor challenges and rising costs. With fewer hands on deck and a need for greater accountability among all staff members, management sought potential technology partners capable of offering greater control and oversight over daily operations. This included a complete upgrade of its employee communications and workflow tools to promote a mobile-first operations strategy. What they discovered was PurpleCloud Technologies, a service optimization platform designed to increase productivity and decreased labor costs, especially in the housekeeping department, one of the largest cost centers in hotels.
“Like many hotel companies, Smoky Mountain Resorts faced growing challenges that came with reduced staff and higher guest expectations as business began to recover,” said Adria Levtchenko, PurpleCloud Co-Founder and CEO. “Each of their hotels relied on legacy technology before the pandemic, limiting their teams’ ability to perform their duties on the move and adding unnecessary steps to daily operations. This minutia was compounded amidst high turnover and increased worker stress levels, creating multiple barriers to meeting guests’ service expectations. They needed a solution and found it in PurpleCloud.”
Housekeepers at Smoky Mountain Resorts properties lacked an efficient way to inform the front desk when rooms were finished cleaning, as they were still dialing the front desk to update them on each room’s status. If a guestroom needed additional attention, a specific housekeeper would need to be located on property and told to revisit the room, creating a backlog of activities and derailing the process of efficiently making rooms available to guests.
Similarly, the maintenance department at each of location was manually printing work orders to receive a list of tasks. This process took more than five minutes and often contained outdated information – a real problem during high-traffic periods. This problem also extended to managers, who were often forced to check in with each department individually and rely on their reporting to understand the status of work orders and how they have been prioritized. It required tracking down each department head in person multiple times per day and became increasingly overwhelming with limited staff.
These issues shared a commonality: they required each department head to be in a specific location on property to receive or provide crucial operations information. In today’s fast-paced hospitality environment, this became a detriment to the brand’s stellar reputation among travelers and necessitated a change.
“Communications restrictions compounded these challenges,” Levtchenko said. “To stay in contact with each associate, their managers used a third-party messaging app. Although it improved overall communication, the app also created security and operations concerns and provided sub-par cellular service when making onsite calls. At the beginning of each shift, staff had to start new chat threads using the platform. This was limiting and made it difficult to follow up with past conversations and impossible to create a log for long-term conversations.”
PurpleCloud reduces time spent on staff moving from one location to another simply to receive new work orders or update management on their current status. It oversees operations, monitors guestrooms' status, and streamlines daily property checklists.
Available on tablets, mobile devices, and computers, the PurpleCloud app enables staff to quickly review hotel status and any relevant requests via its built-in chat feature. This digital approach to workforce management eliminates redundant paper use, as work orders and property information can be viewed directly within the app.
“We have successfully eliminated many communication barriers and challenges by having operational information flow seamlessly between resort departments and teams,” said Kay Collier, Smoky Mountain Resorts CEO. “Our ability to monitor and maintain consistent accountability within our resorts through daily and weekly checklists is a feature in PurpleCloud that we were not able to find in any other software.”
After adopting PurpleCloud’s suite of operations engagement and insight tools, hotel workers begin their day by checking the PurpleCloud app for assignments, updates, and relevant information. Notifications are delivered to departments or individuals to provide additional information before each shift, and each department receives new updates as tasks are completed in real-time. Management, engineering, housekeeping, and front-office workers all received access to PurpleCloud, creating greater consistency across all departments.
“PurpleCloud’s built-in chat feature improved communication across the board,” Levtchenko said. “Staff could reliably contact one another in an emergency, as our app’s text chat feature supports longer conversations with time-stamped messages that are easily recalled. PurpleCloud creates greater accountability for each department by leaving a clear trail noting when requests were made, addressed, and completed. It allows hotel managers to quickly identify areas for improvement and note successes within their staff for recognition. Most importantly, it helps different departments manage their responsibilities and reduce unnecessary minutia limiting operators’ capabilities.”
Staff at Smoky Mountain Resorts no longer need to leave their departments and visit a central hub to print physical work orders. By using their mobile devices to access PurpleCloud’s application and stay up to date on issues as they arise, the company reduced the time it takes to address work orders by 50 percent. The system also reduced the time it takes for hotel managers to receive an overall update on each department, down from 15 minutes to just a few moments throughout the day.
Housekeeping room inspection times have also dramatically reduced, as room availability is updated quickly. Room inspectors can now mark rooms as clean or needing additional attention directly on their mobile devices, keeping housekeepers informed on the status of each room throughout the shift. These changes have increased the efficiency and movement of every worker on property, cutting unnecessary trips to the front desk and improving workflow.
“With a greater level of information available to the hotel team at all times, Smoky Mountain Resorts’ operation has nearly doubled in efficiency,” Levtchenko said. “Their people are more aware of their priorities, and managers have clear metrics to help them track areas of improvement. Accountability for every team member has increased, contributing to improved guest review scores. These investments show the resorts’ commitment to service and operations excellence and it will help better position Smoky Mountain Resorts for continued success as hospitality resumes recovery.”
Visualization is a powerful tool, and Smoky Mountain Resorts are making use of PurpleCloud’s technology to better manage its rooms, reduce reliance on paper, and cut down on unnecessary trips to the front desk. Corporate now knows more about each property than ever before. Staff are assigning rooms more efficiently because they know the status of a room, its inspection score, and when it is available. These capabilities have better equipped Smoky Mountain Resorts to succeed in today’s hospitality landscape.
“Using PurpleCloud this past year has proven to be successful in reducing administrative costs and time spent handling paper records,” Collier said. “Our focus has been on prioritizing the use of technology to increase efficiency for our team and guests. PurpleCloud has been an integral part of that process. In our next phase, we hope to introduce gamification to encourage our employees and add some fun to the workday. The feedback from the people using PurpleCloud everyday in our organization is overwhelmingly positive and we are truly happy with the choice to incorporate it into our business.”
Makeready Launches GDS Code Unifying Hotel Portfolio
Makeready, a hospitality, restaurant and retail management company, announced the merging of their collection of independent hotels under one chain code – MY – within all four global distribution system channels; Sabre, Amadeus, Galileo/Apollo and Worldspan, in addition to DHISCO.
This decision furthers Makeready’s commitment to the travel advisor community at the direction of Makeready COO and President Christine Magrann. “The chain code launch and unification is an exciting next step for the Makeready collection and our brand's commitment to developing and managing independent lifestyle hotels,” says Magrann.
Makeready hotels that are now under the MY chain code include:
Halcyon, a hotel in Cherry Creek
The Junto, Columbus
The Ryder Hotel, Charleston
Tapped to lead this initiative, Makeready Corporate Director of Commercial Strategy Marcia Murphy has been working towards this launch for years. “As a management company, Makeready has purposely remained in the background, allowing its individual hotel brands to be at the forefront in our guest’s minds,” says Murphy. “By implementing this GDS chain code – MY – we are solidifying our commitment to building consumer confidence in Makeready hotels and empowering travel advisors to cross-reference all of our independent hotels in our collection and book with ease. We look forward to welcoming this wonderful community that serves as an extension of our sales family to experience Makeready.”
In celebration of this advancement, Makeready is offering compelling industry rates and upgrades exclusively to travel advisors worldwide. To indulge in the Makeready experience, Makeready invites travel advisors to simply contact them at [email protected] to learn more about the collection and secure their stay.
The implementation of Makeready’s chain code comes shortly after the brand’s Nashville hotel, Noelle, announced its independence from Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio where it has operated since its opening in 2017. This also follows the news of their newest lifestyle hotel, The Junto, opening this spring in downtown Columbus, Ohio. All of Makeready’s independent hotels have their own distinct identity and point of view, each sharing a common purpose: to inspire deeper connections with the world around them – place by place, person by person.
H World Group Fully Upgrades Its Overseas Loyalty Program
H World Group, announced that it upgraded its H Rewards program to extend its successful direct marketing membership business model in China to its overseas hotel operations. This will further enhance the Group's operational efficiency and add new momentum to its global strategy.
To support the H Rewards upgrade, H World Group moved to a unified global distribution platform, integrating inventory management, connection of direct marketing channels, price control and membership matters across the Group's domestic and overseas operations. H World Group has successfully connected its hotel booking and distribution platforms in China and overseas with unified standards. Over 200 million members will be able to cross-book the Group's domestic and overseas hotels through the platform and link their membership benefits worldwide. This will provide a continuous flow of guests to the Group's hotels around the globe. At present, 80% of H World Group's hotel bookings are made through the unified global distribution platform, with 76% coming from H Rewards members.
With this loyalty program upgrade, H World Group added personalized services to attract more new members. For example, Chinese travelers staying at H World Group hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will have access to Chinese-language menus, Chinese-speaking staff and other services. The Group aims to digitize the traditional hospitality industry. Its overseas guests will experience the added efficiency of digital self-check-in machines, delivery robots, a free wireless portal and smart TV.
H Rewards is an autonomous customer-driven direct-marketing platform. "To stand out in the global hotel industry, digitalization and technological capabilities are key," said Liu Xinxin, President of H World Group. "The Group leverages technology to deliver an innovative experience, creating a closed loop of differentiated services while remaining customer-centric. These are some of the key drivers of our success in China, and have attracted a large number of customers to become members. We are now extending our successful business model in China to our global hotel business."
With strong branding, industry-leading end-to-end digitalization, and its own guest-driven traffic platform, H World Group has developed a unique business strategy of "Brand + Technology + Traffic".
H World Group is also committed to sustainable development. It launched the Green Living project to actively encourage members to reduce waste by converting cancellation of certain services into membership points, which can be used to offset accommodation fees.
Animoca Brands and Planet Hollywood to Launch CLUB 3
Animoca Brands, the company advancing digital property rights for gaming and the open metaverse, and Planet Hollywood Group (“Planet Hollywood”), through their joint venture Meta Hollywood, announced they will launch CLUB 3, a private, members-only club that will act as the physical meeting place for the greater global community involved in Web3, NFTs, and open metaverse industries.
The first CLUB 3 location will open in the heart of the famed Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, in the second half of 2023. It will be a 10,000-square-foot facility consisting of diverse dining options, including a main dining room and a rooftop restaurant, eclectic bars and a cocktail lounge, meeting rooms, karaoke rooms, and other facilities. Additionally, CLUB 3 will offer fully programmable areas for experiential events that will be available both in person and virtually, such as industry events, community meetups, talks, experiences, seminars, AMA sessions, and more.
Following the opening of its first location, CLUB 3 plans to expand in multiple iterations in the world’s most popular cities, including New York, Miami, Tokyo, London, Paris, and Hong Kong.
CLUB 3 will offer four types of memberships: Founding, Social, Global, and Corporate Memberships. Membership perks will include access to amenities with respect to the membership type and all members will be able to communicate with each other through CLUB 3’s exclusive community chat. All four types of memberships will be available on launch starting from the internal sale.
The Social Membership will provide its owner with access to one specific CLUB 3 location. The Founding Membership is an ultra-exclusive pass available in limited numbers per club, granting special benefits such as access to a private founders-only lounge and other benefits. The Global Membership, an upgrade to all membership levels, will give owners access to all CLUB 3 locations around the world.
Memberships are available as mintable NFTs and interested parties can go to www.club3members.com to reserve a place on the waitlist. The one-time membership fees for a Social Membership and a Founding Membership are US$2,500 and US$7,500, respectively. All memberships can be upgraded to a Global Membership for a fee of US$1,500. To find out more about memberships and to sign-up for the waitlist, please visit www.club3members.com.
CLUB 3 will be integrating Web3 mechanics into the club’s operations such as community voting on seasonal menus, specialized perks, and collaborative promotions for certain NFT projects and membership holders.
Robert Earl, founder and chairman of the Planet Hollywood Group, commented: “I am proud to be a partner in CLUB 3. Imagine a club composed of groups of like-minded individuals - the setting is designed to be comfortable with great food, wonderful cocktails and exciting programming. CLUB 3 is truly international, both in its footprint around the world and its membership base - come join our journey as we get ready to launch our first CLUB 3 in Los Angeles.”
Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, commented: “CLUB 3 will foster and galvanize the broader Web3 community and serve as a launchpad for those wanting to learn more about this new world. Members will interact within the club’s numerous facility perks and experience what Meta Hollywood can offer. With this project communities across the Animoca Brands ecosystem will have access to new possibilities.”
Bakkt Crypto Rewards Comes to Las Vegas Strip with Caesars Entertainment
Bakkt Holdings, Inc. (“Bakkt”), a technology platform that enables partners to unlock crypto and drive loyalty, announced a deal with Caesars Entertainment (“Caesars”), the largest casino-entertainment company in the U.S. To launch this pairing, the state-of-the-art live entertainment venue at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, formerly known as Zappos Theater, will be renamed Bakkt Theater. Also, the companies’ collaboration includes plans to allow Caesars Rewards® members the ability to redeem their Rewards Credits through Bakkt® Crypto Rewards, pending regulatory approval. Bakkt and Caesars will continue to explore and innovate around Bakkt’s existing suite of cryptocurrency solutions. Additional details on this offering and the timeline for rollout will be shared soon.
“As today’s customers grow to be increasingly savvier online, we look forward to offering new crypto options to millions of Caesars’ customers,” said Bakkt’s Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, Mark Elliot. “We’re thrilled to solidify our relationship with Caesars with the naming of Bakkt Theater and the integration of Bakkt Crypto Rewards into the Caesars Rewards program.”
As the digital economy continues to evolve quickly, Bakkt and Caesars are committed to ensuring their customers have a seamless experience, both online and through more traditional customer retention methods. This commitment continues to guide Bakkt in its development of leading crypto solutions and has helped shape the award-winning Caesars Rewards loyalty program, the most extensive loyalty program in the gaming industry.
“We are constantly looking for new and unique ways we can expand the wealth of benefits associated with Caesars Rewards, and it is that consistent push to improve that makes Caesars Rewards best-in-class,” said Megan Rodriguez, Senior Vice President of Loyalty and CRM with Caesars Entertainment. “We look forward to exploring how Bakkt’s crypto offerings will differentiate Caesars Rewards and help us continue to be the leader in this space.”
With more than 60 million members worldwide, Caesars Rewards is one of the largest and most acclaimed loyalty programs in the world. A fully connected ecosystem of gaming, hospitality, entertainment, nightlife, dining, and shopping, more than 50 destinations, and a full suite of mobile products, including Caesars Sportsbook and iGaming, are tied to the Caesars Rewards network. Members can earn and redeem credits across the network for the experiences they value most. Caesars Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its guests through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership.
Through this relationship, the Bakkt brand will come alive in Las Vegas as the namesake for one of The Strip’s most influential theaters. Since 2013, the newly renamed Bakkt Theater has been recognized as the epicenter of A-list entertainment in Las Vegas.
“Bakkt Theater showcases the best in live entertainment and experiences to match the extraordinary talent roster the venue features,” said Jason Gastwirth, President of Entertainment for Caesars Entertainment. “We’re pleased that Bakkt recognizes the unique destination we’ve created at Planet Hollywood, and we are excited to have them join us in the venue’s next chapter.”
While world-class content and the venue’s capabilities set it apart, amenities and guest experience, including VIP table seating concept, bottle service and multiple seating configurations that allow artists to create the vibe that best suits their show, further distinguish Bakkt Theater from other venues in Las Vegas. With its unique combination of nightlife-inspired amenities coupled with world-class live entertainment content, Bakkt Theater continues to be a premier performance destination in Las Vegas.
Bakkt and Caesars will share additional details on forthcoming crypto offerings soon. Legends Global Partnerships represented Caesars Entertainment in sourcing and negotiating the strategic agreement with Bakkt.
Solutions Travel, a new Travel Management Company, announces a partnership with Spotnana to use Spotnana’s Travel-as-a-Service Platform as the core infrastructure powering its travel business.
“After decades championing change, I’m excited to bring new innovation to the corporate travel marketplace through the launch of a new TMC built from the ground up on Spotnana’s new modern infrastructure,” said Mark Walton, CEO of Solutions. We will deliver the most advanced travel technology, coupled with a strong service orientation, real time data, direct content sources, and other integrated components.”
“We showed Spotnana to Travel Managers who were wowed by what they saw. Once we realized that Spotnana’s modern cloud-native platform could be white labeled, rapidly deployed, and easily integrated with other systems via open APIs, we decided to build a company around it,” said Walton.
Solutions will use Spotnana’s entire Travel-as-a-Service Platform, including Spotnana’s Online Booking Tool, Agent Desktop, Booking Engine, System of Record, and Content Engine.
“We’ve selected Spotnana as our exclusive travel platform to differentiate ourselves and accelerate our time to market. Corporate clients want a new travel model with integrated applications, flexibility, ease of use, and access to more content. To deliver on this, we needed a travel platform that goes far beyond a traditional Online Booking Tool and has been designed from day one to serve as the foundation for a modern Travel Management Company,” said Walton.
“We’re delighted to partner with Solutions Travel and provide the core infrastructure that enables them to power a new generation of traveler experiences,” said Sarosh Waghmar, Founder and CEO of Spotnana. “Mark and his team are industry innovators who share our vision. We look forward to partnering on future enhancements to Spotnana’s Travel-as-a-Service platform that will add value to all Spotnana and Solutions customers.”
Solutions offers a broad range of personal services from experienced agents including VIP Service all available 24/7/365 in a multilingual environment. Clients can reach Solutions via all communications channels; phone, email, chat, and text. All are integrated to track service levels.