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Hotelier news, tips and advice from industry experts.

Welcome Anywhere Property Managment System > Blog > Industry tips

By going the extra mile as a hotelier, you’ll create experiences that guests share far and wide.

It’s a super-simple yet highly effective marketing strategy; you do what you do best and let guests do the talking. Thanks to the power and reach of social media, their effort alone will ensure your hotel lands in the news feeds of countless potential guests without a penny of marketing spend.

All that’s required is some time and ingenuity. Oh, and the following list of small yet brilliant touches that create a great, personalised guest experience:

1. Destination tips

Destination promotion is increasingly being used by hotels across the world to boost occupancy.

By talking about the area in which your hotel is located and providing insider tips on how to get the most out of a stay, you’ll attract the attention of guests who are seeking an authentic, local experience.

This strengthens your brand reputation, proves you’re about far more than just a bed for the night and raises your authority online.

You needn’t spend any money on destination promotion, either, just blog regularly about things to do in your town, city or village and include destination tips in your welcome packs.

2. Provide customer care on Twitter

This might sound a bit too corporate for your independent hotel, but customers expect businesses to respond to their criticism or praise on Twitter - no matter the industry.

For instance, if a guest has a less than enjoyable stay at your hotel and decides to make their feelings known on Twitter, they’ll probably mention you in their tweet. And this is great (no, really!), because it gives you the opportunity to jump into the conversation, reply and show the world that you care about the service you provide.

Be active on Twitter. Complaints will hopefully be few and far between, but aside from dealing with incoming flak, make sure you thank people who say nice things about your service. Search for hashtags relevant to your area, too, and get involved; demonstrate your knowledge of the area and give your hotel that all-important personality online.

3. Leave handwritten notes

In an age of social media, instant messaging and smartphone addiction, handwritten letters are unique, satisfying traditional and - most importantly - engaging.

Why not delight your guests by leaving handwritten notes in their room? If you’re abiding by GDPR rules and ethically collecting data about them, you could say happy birthday, invite the guest to try an update to the restaurant dish they enjoyed last time or simply thank them for staying at your hotel.

This requires minimal effort, yet is the kind of gesture that might make its way onto the social media feed of the guest you’ve delighted.

4. Surprise guests with in-room treats

During the booking process (be it online or over the phone), ask guests if they’re celebrating anything during their stay. Engagements, anniversaries and birthdays are common reasons for getaways, therefore if you’re aware of the special date, you can grab the opportunity to leave a little surprise in the room.

A complementary bottle of champagne, flowers or box of chocolates won’t break the bank, but will put a huge smile on the faces of guests who are in the mood for celebration.

And they won’t forget it!

5. Use a modern PMS

All four tips above can be undertaken without technology, but you’ll save considerable time if you have a modern PMS from which to gather the required data.

Personalising a guest experience starts with their profile on your PMS. The more you know about a guest, the more you can build a stay for them which will feel entirely their own. Old PMSs that don’t offer comprehensive guest profiling, GDPR compatibility or integration with guest feedback platforms simply don’t cut it anymore, and you don’t need to spend a fortune to upgrade, thanks to cloud computing.

Wrapping up

What have we missed? If you’ve experienced success by personalising your guests’ experiences and don’t mind sharing them with the world (hey, we’re all in this together, right?), let us know in the comments section, below!

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The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to lurch into life on May 25th, and the chances are, you’ll already have spent a lot of time and effort preparing for its arrival.

Despite this, and with such a big change to regulation, it’s always sensible to run through some final checks to make sure that you’re not missing anything obvious before the new rules come into effect.

Here are a few steps you can take to prepare your hotel for the GDPR and to help you avoid the fines that might hit hard if you ignore it.

1. Refresh staff on the GDPR’s requirements

The people who need to be most on top of GDPR-related issues are your staff.

It’s a good idea to gather up your team, go over the implications of the new data regulations and make sure they’re up to speed with the changes.

2. Check with third-party partners

Stricter privacy rules don’t just apply to the way you handle guest data in-house; it’s also important that any third-party platforms used to take bookings and manage your hotel are compliant.

Get in touch with whichever OTAs and PMS providers you use to ensure that they’re all set for the GDPR (if you haven’t heard from them already – no news isn’t good news when it comes to the GDPR).

3. Engage guests to build trust

Once the GDPR is enforced, it’s a good idea to keep your guests abreast of the changes and demonstrate that your hotel is aware of its new obligations.

The easiest way to do this is at check-in, when you can let guests know that their personal details will be protected once they’re in your care.

Because this regulation has been so highly publicised, with most people encountering the effects of it in their own workplaces and email inboxes, a hotel which doesn’t showcase GDPR-savvy policies might raise concerns.

4. Update your website

All of the information about how you manage guest data should be available to review online, but don’t just rely on third party platforms to take care of this responsibility.

Check your hotel website and make sure that it features a revised privacy policy which reflects the rules of the GDPR.

5. Contact customers

Most independent hotels will have a mailing list or loyalty scheme aimed at keeping customers informed of news and offers.

You should get in touch with everyone on your books to let them know of any changes to your policies and practices that have been motivated by the GDPR.

This is also a great opportunity to ask your customers to confirm that they still want to be subscribed to your mailing list, while simultaneously reminding them that your hotel exists and that it’s now fully compliant with the new regulations.

6. Plan for problems

Data breaches are unavoidable, and if one of the third-party platforms you use is hit by cyber crime, your hotel will be required to let its customers know.

It’s a case of planning for the worst-case scenarios before they happen so that you’re prepared, rather than being struck by a data security disaster without having contingencies in place.

Wrapping up

Feeling panicky about the GDPR? It might seem daunting, but by this point you should only need to do a few final checks to stay on the right side of the regulations.

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Welcome Systems is fully backing the Cut Tourism VAT campaign, because we absolutely agree with its request for the Government to reduce VAT on tourist accommodation from 20% to 5%.

Thirty-one European countries already enjoy the benefits of reduced tourism VAT. It results in more business investment and savings passed onto consumers, while UK tourism firms battle with a VAT rate which is almost double that of the European Union average.

This isn’t right; it needs to change. And although we doubt you need convincing, we thought we’d take this opportunity to summarise the campaign:

The main benefits of a reduced VAT rate

Everyone would benefit from a VAT rate reduction in tourism; there are no losers.

Even the government would enjoy greater tax revenue, with experts predicting that in the third year after its implementation, the policy would raise over £363 million for the Exchequer.

There would likely be an increase in exporting, too. Tourism is the UK’s sixth largest export earner, and a rate reduction would increase the number of exports while improving the country’s trade balance by £23 billion over ten years.

Here’s three more compelling benefits the reduced VAT rate would bring:

  • Higher employment: 121,000 new jobs would be created over the course of ten years, along with far-reaching social and economic benefits
  • Stronger regional investment: more investment will be generated for businesses across the country, particularly in tourist hotspots such as seasides
  • Stronger international competitiveness: cheaper UK holidays should incentivise more foreign tourists to choose this country for their vacation

What role will Brexit play?

Brexit isn’t a barrier to the change of VAT rate - it can be brought into effect immediately, because there’s no requirement for legislation at EU level.

With the hospitality industry determined to respond to the challenges of Brexit, a reduction in tourism VAT may also help businesses counter the impact of loosing certain freedoms associated with EU membership, such as access to the Single Market.

Will a VAT cut help growth?

Put simply - yes! Tourism benefits communities and the economy quite unlike many other industries. In some places, it’s a primary source of employment.

A reduction in tourism VAT would support 2.4 million jobs outside of London, assist regions that haven’t recovered from the recession and offer vital support to SMEs.

The latter is particularly important, because SMEs make up 80% of all tourism and hospitality businesses. They need help from the government if they’re to grow, and a VAT cut would have a near immediate, positive impact on their ability to do so.

How would the cut work?

As previously noted, there’s nothing holding the government back - they could reduce the VAT rate tomorrow.

What’s more, it was revealed by Treasury Advisor Professor Adam Blake that a cut in tourism VAT is “one of the most efficient, if not the most efficient, means of generating GDP gains at a low cost to the Exchequer”.

The cut would also increase competition in the industry by compelling operators to lower their prices. Indeed, Merlin Entertainment and Butlin’s have already both vowed to pass on every penny of the savings to customers.

Want to know more? Simply download the official Cut Tourism VAT factsheet, which is packed full of further details. 

Got something to say? Tell us what you think about the campaign in the comments section below. After all, the more noise we all make, the more chance there is that something will be done!

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The world is driven by the connectivity, content and methods of communication the internet has delivered. And it’s absolutely everywhere.

Virtually every public place and method of transport now has some form of connectivity that enables us all to enjoy high speed internet access on our devices, without paying a penny.

If you’re a hotelier, you can no longer get away with rubbish Wi-Fi. There - we said it. And, if you’re yet to upgrade yours, we’d like to offer five myths about hotel internet connections we feel compelled to dispel:

Myth 1: Your current gear will last for ages

Sorry - it won’t.

In the last decade, we’ve seen countless Wi-Fi standard and methods of security arrive, achieve adoption and then be superseded.

Things move on in tech - fast - and if you hang onto your same internet gear for as long as you can, guests will eventually suffer from slower speeds, incompatibility with newer devices and, worst of all, poor security.

Build a Wi-Fi refresh into your budget at least every three to five years.

Myth 2: You can set it up and manage it yourself

Even if you’re relatively tech savvy, you’re still the owner of an independent hotel, and that’s not the sort of job where you have five minutes spare to fix an dynamic IP address issue on your router.

Instead, make sure you invest in the services of someone who can set up and maintain your internet connection. It’ll be one of the best investments you make, because they’ll ensure your connection is configured properly and will be on hand when it all comes crashing down (which it will).

Myth 3: Guests will pay extra for decent Wi-Fi

Take a trip to your local shopping centre and there’s a strong chance you’ll be able to log onto Wi-Fi that’s fast enough for a bout of browsing and video streaming.

It’ll have been free, too, like most Wi-Fi connections these days.

Are you still charging for access to Wi-Fi or offering a paired-down connection for guests who aren’t willing to pay?

You won’t win many rave reviews if so.

Myth 4: Decent Wi-Fi will cost the hotel fortune

Good news: it won’t.

Speak to two or three providers and ask them to quote. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the packages they offer and the various ways in which you can finance the hardware.

Remember - great, free Wi-Fi will make your guests very happy indeed, and if they return, any investment you’ve made in your internet infrastructure will have played its role handsomely.

Myth 5: Guests will bring their own internet connectivity

Granted - most of your guests will have access to smartphones that have 3G or 4G internet connectivity, but don’t assume they’ll use it over free Wi-Fi.

Most simply won’t. Regardless of the connection symbol displayed on their phone, they’ll usually seek an alternative that won’t cost them anything or eat into their data allowance.

Furthermore, people still use laptops and tablets that don’t have built-in cellular connectivity, and they absolutely need a route into the digital domain.

Wrapping up

If we still haven’t convinced you to review the Wi-Fi connectivity you provide guests, there’s one last thing you can try.

Take a look at a few random TripAdvisor reviews and make a note of how many contain negative comments about poor internet connectivity. Do you want to number among them?

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Large hotels often benefit from dedicated revenue managers who’s job it is to scour the market, looking for opportunities to maximise room rates for profitability and occupancy.

If you’re running a small hotel, we’re going to take a wild guess that you probably haven’t got a revenue manager.

It’s you, isn’t it?

Only, you’re the gardener, too. And occasional chef. Oh, and because Michael’s decided to take the week off and head to Corfu, you’ve got to run reception, as well.

Every hotelier (ok, most) are busy - particularly at this time of year - but that shouldn’t make it impossible to work on pricing strategies that ensure the hotel remains full for the rest of the year and beyond.

Here’s five ingenious pricing strategies for small hotels:

1. Go for a super-low rate

The proverbial ‘dropping of one’s trousers’ when it comes to room pricing might feel somewhat demeaning, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with occasionally offering a super-low rate.

Make it clear that this is an incredibly rare occurrence and that you’ve implemented it to give as many people as possible the chance to check out how awesome your hotel is, and you’ll inevitably raise occupancy levels.

Just make sure you hike the prices back up sharpish and work hard to retain your new customers’ business in future (at standard rates!).

2. Justify a price hike

If the thought of super-low rates has made you feel faint, there’s another option.

Jack them up!

Feels better, eh?

If you can raise the price of your rooms above that of the competition, you have the perfect opportunity to explain why yours are worth the extra spend.

Throw in a few extras, by all means, but be bold enough to point out that your hotel is worth more than the lowly-priced competition.

3. Capture the middle ground

If you align the prices of your basic rooms with the cheapest market pricing and set the rates for your other rooms closer to your competitors’ base level pricing, you should put your hotel squarely in front the middle market.

Oh, and you’ll still be capturing the lower and higher markets, too - thus killing three birds with one stone, as it were.

4. Take a leaf out of the retailer’s book

When you buy something in a supermarket, it’s rarely a rounded price. Rather than £10, it’ll be £9.99.

You can do the same with your room rates. And, yes, this may feel a bit ‘cheap’ and ‘retail-y’, but that’s the point; we know consumers react well to such pricing strategies, so why not take advantage of them in the hospitality industry?

5. Price match

If all else fails - go for the jugular and price match your competitors.

This is what revenue managers spend a great deal of their time doing, because it remains an effective pricing strategy for most hotels.

If you’re forever cursing the hotel down the road that seems to be overflowing with guests, there’s a reason they’re doing so well, and it may be because you’re either too cheap or expensive by comparison.

Equally, if they’re that busy, there are clearly a great number of new guests to be had, therefore you’ll stand a far better chance of competing if you do so on a level playing field.

Wrapping up

You’ve got time to work on the above, we promise. And, if you don’t think you have - make time, because if you don’t, the competition will gain a significant lead.

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Get a FREE 2 month trial of the Welcome Anywhere hotel booking system and RateManager by BookingSuite!

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Independent hoteliers failing to take control of their online presence and bookings this summer could be missing a massive opportunity, according to John Jones, MD of Welcome Systems Ltd.

“For many, staying in a hotel is no longer an extravagance,” he explains. “It is much more affordable and frequent, meaning there is huge potential for hoteliers to capitalise on the summer period.”

However, despite the latest stats indicating 16 million more nights were spent in European hotels than the previous year, the UK has seen the biggest fall in bookings with a drop of -15.4%.

While the growth of ‘industry disruptors’ like Airbnb may bear some responsibility for these figures, John believes that it is up to hoteliers to raise their game in an increasingly competitive market.

He continues: “This isn’t about just competing on price, but also on services and experience. Our research shows that booking a hotel room is often viewed as the least enjoyable part of a holiday.

“We’ve found there are hundreds of online booking systems on the market, all with one common problem - confusing web layouts, a mass of options and text-heavy pages.”

As a result Welcome Systems Ltd is launching its new ‘Book Yourself Full 2017’ summer campaign, designed to help hoteliers achieve maximum occupancy with the least amount of work and stress.

“By signing up for our weekly newsletter, hoteliers will gain exclusive access to a wealth of top tips and hacks on achieving the ultimate booking simplicity and efficiency,” adds John.

“We’ll be covering everything from developing social media campaigns, improving in-room experiences and accepting contactless payments, through to mastering hotel websites and dealing with negative reviews, plus webinars and podcasts with key industry players and special guests."

Too busy to plan ahead?

We often hear that hoteliers are simply 'too busy' during the summer to do anything more than oversee the daily running of their business.

Unfortunately, this leaves a whole raft of opportunities untapped and means planning for the quieter months takes a back seat.

That gave us an idea...

“We’re offering the first 100 hotels to register for Welcome Systems’ newsletter before the end of July 2017, a free two-month trial of our Welcome Anywhere PMS and its integration with RateManager by BookingSuite," explains John. "However, we appreciate how busy hoteliers are at this time of year, which is why we're suggesting they focus on their business during the summer and have the system installed in September. We're even providing them with a free stress buster to get them through this period!"

To find out more and sign up for two free months* of Welcome Anywhere and RateManager by BookingSuite, click below:

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There’s no getting away from it - if you mention the acronym ‘OTA’ to most hoteliers, they’ll either wince, roll their eyes or suggest the conversation heads elsewhere.

The fact remains, however, that 76% of UK consumers booked their holidays online during 2016. That’s a huge number of people heading to the web in order to find hotel accommodation, and there’s a high chance the first website they land on will be an online travel agency.

This blog assumes you understand the value of an OTA listing for your hotel but haven’t taken the time to maximise the effectiveness of your profile.

Thankfully, optimising your hotel’s presence on the major OTAs is relatively straightforward and can be summed up in four steps any hotelier can undertake:

1. Think SEO

Effective search engine optimisation (SEO) ensures your website can be easily found on Google by the visitors you would consider valuable. The same goes for hotel listings on OTAs; to be found by the right type of guest, you need to employ some SEO tactics.

All OTAs feature some form of ranking system and most will give you plenty of advice on how to ensure your hotel climbs the search result pages. Pay attention to these instructions, and follow SEO best practises.

In the main, that means utilising plenty of keywords, but there’s a lot more you can do, too. We’d recommend a quick hunt through the Moz blog for inspiration. Although it gets a bit techy at times, their advice is invaluable.

2. Use only the best, highest-resolution images

To be honest, we could leave this tip at that, but it’s worth reiterating; don’t use photos of your hotel and its rooms that you’ve taken with your iPhone (no matter how many times Apple tells you it’s the ‘only camera you need’). Get in a pro snapper in to take photos of your property that show it off in its best possible light.

Lastly, if the OTA allows you to include videos on your profile - get someone in to produce an introductory piece for your hotel. Why? Because studies show that videos on website landing pages increase conversion rates by a whopping 80%!

3. Make friends with your OTA marketing manager

You know the person who rings you every so often to talk about your OTA listing? The one you always turn away because you’re too busy?

Yeah… we’re sorry to say you need to make friends with that person.

And, no, you’ll be glad to hear that doesn’t involve taking them out for a pint or inviting them to your first born’s christening - just a desire to hear them out whenever they get in touch.

You needn’t worry, either, because your marketing manager will no doubt be very nice indeed and their job is to help you get the most out of your presence on the OTA.

Remember: you’re paying the company for whom this person works significantly to do a job for you - so let them do it!

4. Finish off that profile… go on!

Think about the number of times you’ve searched for accommodation for your own getaway only to be frustrated by the number of hotels that have incomplete profiles on travel agency websites.

Annoying, isn’t it?

Don’t be that hotel. Make the last task for today that of fully completing your OTA profiles, right down to the very last field.

Final thoughts

Getting your hotel up and running on an OTA isn’t a ‘fire-and-forget’ routine; it’s something you need to spend a great deal of time on initially, and then continue to update as your business grows.

Many people will head for your hotel’s own website after finding the property on an OTA. It’s therefore vital that you make the best possible first impression if you’re to gain that direct booking via you own online booking system.

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Research from the UK Card Association confirms that contactless payments totalled a whopping £25 billion in 2016 - up from £7.75 billion in 2015.

This new breed of payment technology - which enables consumers to pay for transactions worth up to £30 with a tap of their payment card or NFC-equipped device (such as a smartphone) - is fast becoming the default way people make every day purchases.

Do you accept contactless payments at your hotel? If not, you need to get on board - quickly.

If you need convincing, we’ve got five quick-fire benefits of accepting contactless payments as a hotelier:

1. Contactless payments are secure

On 8th May, we’re holding a free webinar that will unravel the facts and myths of processing payment cards in the hotel industry. It’s a thorny topic, and one which has created countless issues for the independents.

Thankfully, contactless greatly reduces the risk of card data theft and is therefore something of a relief among a sea of PCI-related anxiety.

There’s no magnetic strip involved, no contact (obviously), and each transaction is ‘single use’, therefore if a hacker attempts to read them and re-use the details, they’re useless.

If you want to learn more about payment card processing for hotels, we highly recommend tagging along to our webinar (it’s free!):

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2. There’s a growing number of form factors

The old forms of payment (magnetic stripe and even Chip and Pin) rely on a card for the transaction to take place. With contactless, the applications for the technology are almost limitless.

Beyond traditional payments cards, the latest breed of smartphones and smartwatches typically feature Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which enables them to transform into payment devices.

Key fobs, vehicles and virtually anything that can contain contactless technology will open up a whole new world of payments for both businesses and consumers.

3. It’s ultra-convenient for all

Given the aforementioned statistics from last year, there’s a strong chance you will have used contactless to pay for something. If you have, you’ll know how ridiculously convenient it is, too.

Just retrieve your card, tap the Chip and Pin machine, and you’re done. There’s no fumbling for change on behalf of you or the retailer and the entire transaction is completed within mere seconds.

Contactless payments are convenient for everyone. They’ll raise guest satisfaction, improve the working lives of reception staff and keep check-out queues to a minimum.

4. There’s plenty of opportunities for further innovation

We’ve already established that the application of contactless technology can take place in a whole host of devices and environments, and that makes it ripe for innovation.

Magnetic stripes and Chip and Pin cards could only be taken so far, but the sky is the limit with contactless. Get on board now, and you could benefit from some serious hospitality-led developments featuring this form of technology in the not-too-distant future.

Combining payments with door entry and in-room entertainment systems will be just the start.

5. Contactless is about far more than convenient payments

It’s important to remember that one of the main benefits of contactless for hoteliers is how convenient it is for guests. And, beyond payment processing, it can do far more for the people who enter your property.

When combined with a smartphone app, contactless can offer detailed payment history (no more confusion over who paid the last bar bill!), user-configured pin protection (more security!) and even remote deactivation.

Wrapping up

Have we convinced you to invest in contactless technology for your hotel? Thought so. The good news? It’s very straightforward and won’t break the bank. Speak to your card acquirer or bank today to find out more.

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News reports have confirmed that hospitality giant, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), recently suffered a serious data breach, with hackers stealing the payment card data from over one-thousand of its properties.

The group originally thought just twelve hotels had been affected, until an investigation proved otherwise.

Of the 5,000 properties IHG operates worldwide, around 1,175 are thought to have been targeted with malware designed to steal information from the magnetic stripe on guest payment cards.

What happened exactly?

IHG have undertaken their own investigation, which completed in March. They discovered that malware had been running on hotel front desk systems between September 29 and December 29, 2016.

The malware showed no sign of activity beyond December 29th last year, but the group wasn’t able to remove it until after the investigation this March.

In a statement on their website, the hotel chain confirmed that the breach was widespread: "Many IHG-branded locations are independently owned and operated franchises and certain of these franchisee operated locations in the Americas were made aware by payment card networks of patterns of unauthorized charges occurring on payment cards after they were legitimately used at their locations”.

What kind of data was stolen?

Because the malicious software was designed to steal data directly from the magnetic stripe of guest payment cards, it’s likely information such as the cardholder name, sixteen-digit number, expiration date and internal verifications codes will have been accessible by hackers.

How many people have been affected?

As with most data breaches, the exact number of people directly affected by the attack is unclear.

In fact, IHG haven’t released any indicative numbers, but they have created a lookup tool which can be used to find out the exact hotels that were infected and the duration the malware was active.

Currently, there are three countries listed - the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, but the tool allows you to choose individual states within each.

What is IHG doing?

IHG has notified law enforcement of the data breach and the speed with which they’ve implemented the aforementioned lookup tool demonstrates an admirable desire to be completely transparent about the breach.

IHG is also working closely with payment card networks and cyber security firms in order to confirm that the malware has been completely removed. It’s understood that measures are underway to ensure individual IHG properties are better protected against such attacks.

What can independent hoteliers learn from this data breach?

As is often the case with headline-grabbing news, the eye is in the detail, and if you dig deeper, you discover that IHG franchise hotels running the group’s Secure Payment Solution (SPS) were not affected by the data breach.

SPS is a point-to-point encrypted payment acceptance solution which enables the safe transportation of guest payment card details. Clearly, it did it’s job in this case, by preventing the malware from accessing the precious personal data it was after.

The lesson, therefore, is a relatively simple one: if you run a hotel, it’s vital that you understand the implications of running insecure payment systems. There’s no escaping the fact that we live in a world rife with cyber crime, and businesses must do all they can to protect their customer’s data.

By implementing a PCI DSS compliant payment solution, you’ll ensure your hotel is as prepared as it can be for any form of data breach designed to steal payment card information.

Despite this, many hotels continue to circumnavigate rules that are deemed too confusing. This is often the case for hoteliers who have been in receipt of an eighteen-page PCI questionnaire full of acronyms, payment card jargon and queries that demand a degree in network administration.

We’d like to help, which is why we’re holding a free webinar on 8th May that will uncover the truths and debunk the myths surrounding the requirements for handling payments within the hotel industry. Join us, and you’ll gain the chance to quiz industry experts on all things PCI DSS-related:

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The hospitality industry continues to benefit from some wonderful innovation. Hotel booking systems are now affordable, intuitive powerhouses and in-room services have moved far beyond the provision of a flat screen TV and WiFi internet connection.

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be involved in this industry, and it shows no signs of slowing down. But, what’s next? Where else will these wondrous technological advances take us?

We think there are three hotel tech trends on the horizon that will change the experience for both guests and staff forever (and for the better).

1. Cashless, card-less, wallet-less payments

If truth be told, the payment revolution is already taking place, with people swapping cash and cards for tap-and-pay chips installed within their smartphones and smartwatches. But, equally, this is still a relatively nascent technology and one that hasn’t achieved world domination.

Yet.

If you’re a hotelier operating in the UK, chances are you’ll be familiar with guests using contactless payment cards to settle bills below £30. Some may even be using the aforementioned tech to do so, and it’s hard to discredit the convenience offered by this evolution of payment.

In the not-too-distant future, everyone will likely do away with cash and cards. Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is now present in virtually every new smartphone, and as services such as Android Pay and Apple Pay become household names, they’ll be relied upon by vast swathes of the population. It’s infectious, too; once you’ve seen the ease with which a friend can pay for their drink at the bar with a simple tap of their phone, you’ll want ‘in’, too.

The hotel booking system will play a vital role in the payment revolution, with the systems of tomorrow integrating payment functionality directly into the software itself. That potentially means the end of fiddly Chip and Pin machines and costly acquirer contracts.

If your hotel booking system is PCI complaint (if it isn’t, you need to look for one that is), it will also offer the ability to keep a safe record of guest payment card details. And the change afforded by this functionality will be more of a strategic one, forcing hotels that have perviously relied on what are effectively gentlemen’s agreements for securing bookings to switch to far more secure, reliable methods that offer full protection for the business.

2. The end of the traditional hotel check-in?

This is a tricky subject, because on the surface it involves digitising and - as far as many independent hoteliers are concerned - de-humanising the guest check-in experience.

It demands exploration, though, because we’re living in an increasingly automated society. As discussed during our recent webinar with BookingSuite, the digital, convenient experiences offered by other elements of travel, such as flights and Uber rides, needs to continue once the guest reaches the hotel.

Similarly, the rise of digital personal assistants like Siri and Amazon Alexa is offering consumers functionality within their homes and while travelling that was once the stuff of sci-fi movies. If you can walk into your living room and ask a small circular device to turn your lights on (which it does - instantly), why shouldn’t you expect an autonomous check-in experience when you enter a hotel?

Independent hotels will always set themselves apart from the chain, flatpack hotel competition with the service they offer, and while the traditional hotel check-in desk’s days probably are numbered, the importance of attentive, human service to compliment the technology will increase. Hospitality was, is and always will be a people business, after all.

3. Rise of the IoT

At it’s base level, the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) simply refers to devices that possess internet connectivity. Smart fridges, TVs and doorbells are already entering the home and providing owners with the ability to keep tabs on their property, no matter where they happen to be.

Such technology is also making its way into hotels, with large chains introducing Amazon Alexa personal assistants and making changes to their building management systems that provide guests with ultimate control over every aspect of their room.

The challenge at the moment is one of cost; introducing IoT devices at scale still represents a significant investment for independent hotels, but as tech firms continue to innovate, prices will start to fall, enabling every accommodation owner to dip their toes into the IoT revolution.

Wrapping up

Excited? We are. With change comes opportunity, and the technology we’re starting to see filter into the top-end of the hospitality industry won’t take long to make it’s way into the independents. That means better guest experiences can be created and a more profitable business maintained.

What are you looking forward to the most? Tell us below!

On 8th May 2017, we’re holding a webinar which will dive deep into PCI DSS compliance and explore the facts (and myths) of processing guest payment cards. Places are limited, so why not book a front row seat today, by clicking below:

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