[Webinar Recap] Why invest now in your core hotel tech stack

Help drive operational efficiency for your hotel with an intuitive UI and built-in automation, your staff can get up to speed on a new PMS in no time!

—Justin DeRise

The hospitality industry is facing unprecedented challenges from the ongoing pandemic, but 2021 brings some renewed optimism — with positive news of several vaccines soon to be available, we are beginning to see the horizon to the end. 

That’s why there has never been a better time to invest in your core hotel technology. Instead of cost-cutting and waiting it out, hotels that make smart strategic 

technology investments will be those that get a jump start on the recovery next year. 

Experts from StayNTouch, Pegasus, and EOS Investors joined a panel discussion to give their take on why now is the right time for hotels to invest in their core tech stack. In this webinar recap, you’ll find key insights from our expert panelists and a link to watch the complete webinar on-demand.

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Watch Webinar On-Demand: Why Invest Now in your Core Hotel Tech Stack

Panelists: 

  • Joan E. Lee, VP of Operations at Pegasus 
  • Priya Rajamani, Director of Implementation & Support, StayNTouch
  • Gaurav Sharma, SVP Revenue & Distribution, EOS Investors

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Why is now the best time to invest in your core tech stack?

Gaurav | EOS Investors : We felt there was no better time to [invest in technology]. In the key markets

knowing that occupancy tends to run 85%, 90% , and even 100% at times, It’s very difficult to go ahead and change out your PMS, change out your CRM, your CRO, your CRS [ect].  With 20% and 30% occupancy…we started to [evaluate technologies] and see how we could start to test them property by property. As you start to bring employees back in [from furlough], you have the ability to train them on the new systems. 

Joan | Pegasus: Right now is a great opportunity to get really creative with a partnership between a hotel and a tech company. The most important thing right now to do is just to reach out. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with a tech vendor. It’s a great time right now to explore and get creative with your existing

 

 [partners] as well as any new partnerships.

Priya | StayNTouch:  Today’s market conditions are clearly indicating a shift in the consumer needs with contactless check-in, automated mobile key notifications, housekeeping changes with less contact desired by customers also from the hotel perspective; a need to change the current operational model to a leaner, more operationally efficient one. The current downtime paves the way [for hotels] to reimagine the guest experience and evaluate and study what the marketplace has to offer. Choose the vendors that allow for a smooth transition with minimal disruptions to your current operations….with minimal training, remote [installation], and easy deployment. 

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Working with legacy vendors vs. flexible vendors

Gaurav | EOS Investors: Whether you need support 

or whether you need integrations, It’s more and more  difficult to work with a legacy company vs. [flexible companies] 

who have the ability to work with you on some of the features you may need down the road.

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The Most Important Elements of a Successful Tech Strategy Going into 2021

The importance of open APIs and StayNTouch’s Approach to Open APIs

Priya | StayNTouch: Traditionally the PMS has been the custodian of all of the customer centric data at the hotel. Based on the infrastructure at the hotel and the legacy systems in place, access to this data can be difficult and sometimes impossible to access. As a cloud PMS provider {StayNTouch’s] focus has been to provide an open API platform. Our APIs provide a very simplified set of webhooks that facilitate real-time data exchange…rather than receiving messages in bulk, it allows our partners to automatically receive the  messages at the exact time that they need it without the clutter, so that they can 

action [the data] on a real-time basis.  Our goal at StayNTouch is to provide a secured and organized interface [between] application services [to] allow the hotel to scale their integrations and allow us to be flexible. At StayNTouch, we don’t charge for 3rd party integrations…[they] are available to our customers for free. 

Gaurav | EOS Investors: There’s a lot of consultation fees that go into it [when buying a new PMS]. With StayNTouch [it] was null and void…the integration is simple and there’s no hardware required, it’s purely cloud based. 

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Advice to hotels when buying new tech and facilitating integrations

Joan | Pegasus: When it comes to buying technology, hotels should solve existing problems and have a really good understanding of the business goals that they want to achieve so that they can clearly see if potential solutions can help meet and achieve their business goals.  For example: what if your business goal is to increase web direct contribution? What tools and services will help you achieve this goal? You may be looking for a very robust pricing and 

discounting capability;  perhaps strong marketing integrations into meta providers….you can bring these requirements to the conversation when reviewing potential technology providers and see [if] the provider can help you meet your goals. [Regarding Integrations] Hotels need to do their homework and define all of their use cases and business processes that are required in the integrations so that they won’t end up with surprises after the implementation

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Lessons learned when bringing together a whole tech stack for a hotel portfolio

Gaurav | EOS Investors: I’d say don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You do want to test and trial

make winds of the headways you have right now with COVID. You have the ability to go out and test and become [beta or alpha] partners with a lot of companies. 

What we want to look at is long term alignment…don’t be afraid to bring in new technology that may be somewhat [uncomfortable] to you. 

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Tech Must-haves to Jump Start Your Recovery

Strategies and tools most effective for hotels in the areas of distribution & marketing

Joan | Pegasus: The first strategy is flexibility in your distribution strategy. During the pandemic your channel mix basically flipped in many markets….corporate and group bookings are at an all-time low…we also saw leisure and domestic travel segments were the first to start to recover. It’s important that your distribution strategy is flexible in order to optimize your channel mix and get your piece of the pie. The second strategy is…have a strategy in place for your repeat and loyal customer. The cheapest guest to acquire will be the one who has stayed with you before…

you need to be sure you have a platform that can give you the best data and opportunity to market to these folks.  You’ll need a provider that has integrations into your loyalty platform. One more strategy [is] strong marketing capabilities. One of the goals for our ecommerce team here at Pegasus is to find the tools to drive down [acquisition costs for direct bookings]. One of those tools is…what we like to call ‘real time ads’. This is where your rates from the CRS can actually connect to the Google and Facebook ad platforms so they can populate those ads with real-time rates and availability. 

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Tools hotels need in areas of operations & guest experience

Priya | StayNTouch: When you’re looking for a [PMS] platform, look for a cloud native PMS [that] allows for ease of deployment,

minimal up-front costs and also allows you to go with a subscription pay as you need model. When it comes to operational efficiencies, automation is key. A lot of processes at the hotel can be in-built and automated; be it assigning a specific room type per the guest preference, assigning it prior to the guest arrival, making sure that the room is auto checked-in, allowing for bulk check-ins and bulk check-outs…all contributing to the end goal of operational efficiency. 

Ease of use…It is critical that you don’t spend too much time onboarding [new staff]. Also, a platform that allows you to do remote work…allows you to connect to the property wherever you are, on your phone, on a tablet, or whatever device…allows you to access your [PMS] and make decisions as a manager. From a guest perspective, the ability to be mobile and contactless [with] self check-in and kiosk options is essential.

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How to Ensure Success in Implementation, Onboarding, & Support Even with Minimized Staff

How do you train staff, coming back from furlough, on a whole new system?

Priya | StayNTouch: Apart from the [onboarding] processes that we have in place, it all ties down to the system itself. Having a system which at its core is easy to use, has a UI that’s self-explanatory, and guides a user to navigate across the system…enables the whole deployment and [training] to be very successful and easy. At StayNTouch, we’ve always had a model that’s been [largely] remote. We do 85%-90% of all of our deployment remotely with a core consultative approach where our team is able to guide and assist the hotel with how they should be going about their processes. Of course with the current circumstances, we [now] do all our onboarding and training [completely] remotely. In addition to training, [we] have self learning modules available for [customers] to revisit the content. 

Joan | Pegasus Support is more important than ever for hotels right now, especially when hoteliers are running leaner and wearing more hats. It’s important that you’re able to see your tech providers as an extension of your team. You should be able to trust and rely on your customer success and support teams because they’re here to understand your business goals and help you achieve them, which gives [Pegasus] the ability to be proactive with our hotels and facilitate a partner relationship. 

As a hotelier, what’s most Important in terms of service and support?

Gaurav | EOS Investors: If I don’t have to reach out to support, that’s the best success [chuckles]. Having the ability to influence one another [customer and tech partner} is very important and the partner having the ability to take the suggestions that you have and make them come to fruition is very important. We tend to do a lot of testing on our end….Does Pegasus have the ability to work with us? Does StayNTouch have the ability to get those things done? I think the answer is yes on both fronts because we have seen that happen. 

Learn more about how StayNTouch Cloud PMS can help drive operational efficiency for your hotel. With an intuitive UI and built-in automation, your staff can get up to speed on a new PMS in no time!

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