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Hotel Trends

Unlocking keyless entry

September 14, 2015

Everywhere we turn, technology influences our lives. The hospitality industry is no exception.

Chances are you’ve already stayed at a hotel using keyless entry technology, which is beginning to alter how travelers check in to hotels and enter their guest rooms.

Here’s how it works: Once you reserve a room, the hotel’s system looks for you to arrive via your location-enabled smartphone. Upon arrival, instead of waiting in line at the front desk, you receive a room number and code enabling the phone to unlock the room’s door. Voilà: Hold the code up to the door lock, and sensors securely detect and verify the phone using technology such as Bluetooth®.

ROI opportunities

Digital tools offer a high return on investment (ROI) potential through increased brand loyalty and revenue from push notifications. According to Chip Rosales, Marketing Lead for y!kes, another reason for hotels to make the switch is a customer engagement boost. By allowing guests to check in through their mobile devices, hotels can seamlessly communicate with them. For instance, they can transmit messages asking guests about their room preferences or send information about discounts or events at the property.

Open to change

Major brands such as Starwood Hotels will retrofit 30,000 doors at 150 hotels worldwide by the end of the year. Hilton expects to offer keyless entry at all Conrad Hotels, Hilton, Waldorf Astoria and Canopy U.S. properties, expanding to 11 brands globally in 2016. And Kaba recently announced a partnership with OpenKey to develop and implement a full-property mobile access system, now live at a major Ashford property.

Striking a balance

One downside of keyless is the high up-front cost of retrofitting a large number of rooms (approximately $150 per door, from changing locks to replacing doors), especially at a franchise property, where upgrade costs are the individual owner’s responsibility. This is offset by the unlimited potential of interacting with guests through a mobile app. Another keyless concern is privacy and security, which involves rigorous testing of encryption technology.

Going beyond keyless

Of course, this isn’t the only technology making waves in hospitality. Take the ButlerPad, for example. This new cloud-hosted concierge application offers reputable locally curated activities and real-time customer service to guests. Accessible from a mobile device or computer, and integrated with the guest’s end-to-end travel experience, ButlerPad amplifies the guest experience. Slated to be the next Wi-Fi, many top hotels are expected to roll out the virtual concierge within the next five years.


Get Social This Summer: Tips for Hoteliers

May 29, 2015

Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that social media is here to stay. In the social world in which we now live, it’s important that your venue find its home on the Internet. More than that, it’s important that your hotel knows how to get that social audience interested and engaged.

So, let’s look at the start of summer as the start of your new social presence. After all, this summer promises to be a prosperous season. Check out the five social tips below and begin to spruce up your summer social plan.

Community Management is Key

Your venue’s social pages aren’t just a place to plunk photos and information anymore. These days, hordes of past and potential customers take to social sites to read reviews, get a “sneak peak” at the venue, ask questions and share their experiences.

It’s important that a representative of your venue is always on to respond in a timely manner – whether that’s with information or, more importantly, in sticky situations – to help quell a disgruntled patron.

Get Writing

If your venue doesn’t already have a blog, now is the time. Get writing about things happening on the property, interesting events, shining a spotlight on an employee, anything really! You don’t have to produce a lot – maybe just a post or two per month – but once you start your blog, you want to keep it fresh so that followers will keep wanting to come back!

Break Out the Video Camera

Video is the new “it” content variety on many social networking sites. As it continues to gain momentum, you should be considering how your venue can hop on the bandwagon. Consider posting videos of property “sneak peeks,” a tour of whatever it is that makes your venue unique, promotional videos, or guest testimonials. Just remember, whatever you post, be sure to keep it short and eye-catching.

Put Some Money Behind It

If you’re really looking to make the most impact in the least amount of time, you may want to think about setting aside a portion of your marketing budget for paid social advertisements. With the ability to target a very specific audience, you can ensure that your content is being seen by the people you most want to attract. If major social impact is your game, paid ads are the name of the game.

Get Guests Talking

Encourage your guests to take to social media and share their thoughts and experiences. Consider posting post-stay surveys online and setting up “selfie” or “braggie” photo spots on the property. Creating an environment in which sharing guest experiences are openly encouraged strengthens your venue’s appearance of an honest business. It also allows you to hear, straight from the mouth of your customers, what your venue’s high and low points are so you can constantly improve.

Hotelier of the Year: Millennials?

January 14, 2015

In 2014, the big industry talk was all about Millennials and how they’re affecting the hospitality sector. Those selective and expectant guests were everywhere, which prompted HotelChatter to actually name Millennials the recipient of the coveted Hotelier of the Year award (yes, you read that correctly). Surprised with the choice? We’re not, and here’s why:

Millennials are so hot right now that every hotelier is catering to them. By that, we mean that there is no shortage of hotels that are A, redesigning or adding elements to their hotel to be more appealing to the Millennial guest, or B, opening a venue specifically built for the young generation. Now, that’s power.

You can thank Millennials for free WiFi. Yes, we’re willing to give that one to them. Sure, business travelers wanted it, leisure guests too, tech-savvy baby boomers even, but it was the ever-on Millennials that demanded it. No free WiFi, no reservation. It’s as simple as that and smart hoteliers knew how much business that meant losing, thus the dawn of free WiFi everywhere.

To hoteliers, Millennials dictate what’s “cool”. Our definition of what’s hip in hotel trends has been set by the under 35 crowd. Those chic bars you see popping up in hotels the world round, the comfortable community work spaces – yeah, that’s all happened because those are the extras Millennials wanted.

So, can they be called hoteliers? Certainly not, but their sway over hotels in dictating mega decisions this past year has shown that they are a powerful driver in the industry and well-deserving of the award. As for next year, HotelChatter has promised that one hard-working hotelier will take the cake. May the best one win!

Hot Hospitality Trends in 2015

January 2, 2015

As we say goodbye to a year of renewed progress, we turn to a new one filled with even greater promise. Let’s get right to it. For 2015, operating performance is looking good. “Supply growth is below trend, while occupancy, average daily rate, and group travel are displaying positive growth,” according to Bobby Bowers, senior VP at STR. Revenue-per-available-room is expected to grow at 5% – 6%, along with a bump in occupancy, too.

At American Hotel, 2015 marks our 150th year in business. While we’re inspired by our past, our trend has always been to look forward. In the spirit of helping hospitality customers like you create the finest guest experiences, let’s explore ways you can gear up for this new year. Here’s a sneak peek at the most anticipated hotel happenings of 2015.

Rewarding the social media savvy is growing in popularity among hoteliers. With more selfies, groufies, and braggies being taken today then we ever could have imagined, the power of the photo is greater than ever. Many hotels are now rewarding their guests with extra perks just for checking in and sharing photos of their venue on social media. We can’t say what’s best for your hotel, but we can say with certainty that this trend is not going anywhere.

Health and wellness were among the hottest trends for 2014 and it doesn’t look like that’s going to waver in the coming year, either. Consumers are becoming more conscientious of their bodies and what they’re putting into them. And although nobody can deny the joy of a big plate of French fries, the fact remains that your guests are going to be looking for something more nutritious to eat, or at least a place to work off that delicious fried treat. If you didn’t hop on board the health train this year, 2015 is your time.

Leisure travel is expected to hit a spike in the coming year. Increases will be seen in multiple categories from millennial travel, to family travel, to senior vacationing (which is expected to grow by a whopping 33%).

However, the most important bit of this trend is how travelers are choosing their leisure spend. New, unique travel opportunities are drawing in the largest crowds. Interesting experiences like “Set Jetting”, in which travelers visit a location seen in a movie, and “Culinary Tourism” (food-inspired travel) will take the biggest pieces of this pie.

Did we miss a new trend that you think should have made the list?  Share it with us in the comments!

Cheers to a prosperous New Year!

Playing the Holiday Host

November 20, 2014

Playing the Holiday Host

The holidays are in full swing and travelers are gearing up for some festive fun on the road! It’s at this time every year that roads get busier and, hopefully, your property fills up quickly. Are you doing the most you can to market your hotel as a house of holiday fun? Here are some tips to play the perfect host to your guests this season.

Holidays are about family. So, it stands to reason that many of your guests will be traveling with their children or relatives. Build interest in your venue this season by offering vacation packages tailored to families. Discounted rates on blocks of rooms, restaurant vouchers, and access to family-friendly activities are all great options to include in your family vacation packages.

Embrace diversity. It’s perfectly okay to emphasis a particular holiday in your venue, but it’s a nice gesture to acknowledge other holidays that take place throughout the season. Whether that’s something as small as making a note of it on your venue’s online calendar or something as grand as a feast or party surrounding said holiday, any gesture to acknowledge other holiday events will make guests of all different backgrounds feel welcome. And just for your reference:

  • Hanukkah: Dec. 17th – 24th
  • Christmas Day: Dec. 25th
  • Kwanzaa: Dec. 26th – Jan. 1st

Get festive. ‘Tis the season to be jolly! Give your guests something to get excited about with fun activities to spread the holiday cheer. Parades, tree-lighting ceremonies and gingerbread house competitions are all popular options, but don’t be afraid to put your own creative spin on activities. Just be sure to include a few things that are specifically kid-friendly. Happy parents are happy guests.

Decorate your venue on and offline. Of course you know to decorate the venue itself with twinkling lights and holiday flair, but have you put any thought into your online presence? You can add allure to your venue as a holiday destination by promoting your festive spirit online. Change your Facebook cover photo to a picture of your property all lit up or something else that shows holiday spirit. If you can coordinate it, add something festive to your website, as well, with updated photos or holiday graphics, and be sure to feature your holiday packages and offerings front and center on the site.

Go the extra mile. Let’s be honest here. Each and every one of us has scrambled to do some last minute holiday shopping at one point. Help your guests out in a shopping emergency (or just a much needed mall break) by offering shuttle services to local shops or malls.

Don’t forget the food! Last, but certainly not least, holiday food. It’s a huge part of the season and thus, there should be a large emphasis on it at your venue. Consider laying out some refreshments in your lobby for guests to munch on throughout the day or at key points in the day.

If your property boasts an on-premises restaurant, you’ll definitely want to create a holiday menu. Anything from sit-down service to a grand buffet is sure to draw in a crowd. If you don’t have food service available in-venue, consider partnering with some local restaurants that you can direct guests to for their holiday feast.

How are you celebrating the holidays at your property? We’d like to know! Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

Thrilling Themed Hotels

November 5, 2014

Thrilling Themed Hotels

When you hear “themed hotel,” there’s a good chance that Disney springs to mind. But, it’s not just theme parks embarking on this trend. These days, themed hotels can be found the world round, from teensy little towns to metropolitan cities to sprawling vacation resorts. The daring trend, although not for everyone, satisfies guests on a level that the ordinary room and board could not – our inner child or the secret thrill-seeker in all of us.

To many hoteliers, a themed hotel seems risky business. It’s a misconception that there aren’t enough people interested to stay, for example, in a college dorm themed hotel. But there must be, because venues like the McMenamins Kennedy School (in actuality, a hotel) serve close to half-a-million pints in their pink-tiled in-house brewery designed to look like a ladies restroom. And really, you can’t argue with numbers.

So, for those who are venturing into the great allure of theme hotels or are dabbling with themed suites, we’ve compiled a list of the most unique, talked about, and anticipated hotel destinations.

1) The Propeller Island City Lodge – Berlin, Germany

If you’re looking to feed your sense of adventure, Propeller Island is the place to be. From coffins in the attic and flying beds to rooms designed to feel like underground bunkers, Propeller Island has it all. It’s more art than hotel and rooms vary depending on the whims of German artist, Lars Stroschen.

2) The Chocolate Boutique Hotel – Bournemouth, England

This is the favored hotel of sweet-tooths everywhere. The hotel truly lives up to its name – it’s all chocolate, all the time, but in the warmest way possible. Plush, stylish furnishings in shades of, you guessed it – chocolate – create a cozy environment for any guest. The generous helpings of chocolate in its many forms don’t hurt either.

3) Jules Undersea Lodge – Key Largo, FL

For a mere $500 per person and a few scuba lessons, you, too, can take an underwater hotel adventure! Even though you’re below the surface, Jules Undersea Lodge doesn’t skimp on service. Here, staff divers will hand deliver a well-wrapped pizza straight to your room.

4) The Georgian House – London, England

A.k.a. the “Harry Potter” hotel, the Georgian is currently one of the most talked about theme hotels, but for all the wrong reasons. This is one theme that even the most leery of hoteliers might agree has a massive and eager fan base, but that’s just the problem in this case. High expectations led to a serious let-down when patrons realized the hotel was not sanctioned by Warner Bros. Entertainment, J.K. Rowling or the Harry Potter book publishers and was not indeed the “Harry Potter” hotel, but rather just a hotel that duped an adoring fan base.

5) Paramount Hotel & Residences – Dubai, UAE

The much anticipated movie-themed hotel is set to open in 2015, and the world cannot wait. Within hours of opening the first sales of its residences they were sold out. So what can residents and visitors alike expect? Think private screening rooms, home theatre surround sound systems, and classic Hollywood glamour – in short, a movie-lovers dream.

We’d love to hear all about your themed property or suites! Tell us in the comments!

Hotels are getting creepy in time for Halloween

October 22, 2014

Hotels are getting creepy in time for Halloween

Double, double toil and trouble, witches brew and hotels bubble…over with creepy offerings. Halloween is just around the bend and, in honor of America’s favorite spooky holiday, this week’s blog is dedicated to all things creepy found in hotels around the world. Brace yourself, things are about to get chilling.

Interestingly, most of the disturbing hotel fun to be had takes place in the spa. But before we dive into the strange and eerie health sphere, let’s make our first stop at The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

The 1886 Crescent is famed to be America’s most haunted hotel, with a rich history of true deaths over its many years in service. Reports of roaming specters and strange noises are nothing short of plentiful here. Rather than scaring guests away, The 1886 Crescent has found a profitable way to make use of its haunted history with a slew of spooky activities from ghost tours to ghost hunting. And, for the truly daring, there’s the chance to sleep in the abandoned morgue.

Next up, we enter the spa of horrors. We guarantee these real-life treatments found in hotels from here to Tokyo will have you squirming in your seat.

Snail Facial – Yes, you read that correctly and it is just what it sounds like it would be – live, slimy snails dragging themselves across your face. You might be asking yourself why anyone would willing to place snails on their face, but with prices for the treatment reaching upwards of $240, there’s got to be something to it. If you truly want to reverse signs of aging, enthusiasts agree – there’s nothing like some good snail slime.

Leech Therapy – If snails had you going already, leeches are definitely going to put you over the top. Four words can sum this one up – live leeches, sucking blood. It makes us shiver. Celebs like Demi Moore swear by the treatment, said to be used as a natural detoxification. So, sure you might end up feeling younger and revitalized, but is it worth the cost?

Vampire Facial – How does having your blood sucked, separated, and pumped back into your face sound? Relaxing, revitalizing, terrifying, perhaps? We’re inclined to go with the latter. Made famous by Kim Kardashian, the vampire facial is thought to fight signs of aging with platelet-rich plasma found in the blood.  Some say there’s nothing like it. We say it’s the highlight of creepy spa treatments.


How is your venue celebrating Halloween this year? Share your plans and ideas in the comments!

Tips to better serve the business traveler

September 17, 2014

Tips to better serve the business traveler

Business travelers today have far different wants and needs than those in days past. Not only do they represent the fastest growing segment in travel spending but, despite the tumultuous economic playground in which they came to adulthood, this group likes to spend. That can only mean good things for your business. Here are some tips to help you better serve the modern business traveler:

  • Know your customer. We mean really know your customer. Understanding how business travelers are working while on the road is vital to keep up with the changes. Are they using video chat to hold meetings? Are they conducting business in their room, in a business center, the lobby? Be in the know or risk losing a significant portion of guests.
  • Go mobile. Your guests are mobile, so doesn’t it make sense that your venue should be mobile, too? Most hotels already offer online booking, but the easier and more accessible your venue is, the more likely you are to fill rooms. Take a cue from Choice Hotels, for example. The company last year launched a process that allows customers to book a room in three simple taps of a smartphone.
  • WiFi, WiFi, WiFi. You’ve heard it time and time again, the people want WiFi of the free variety. A recent survey proved what we’ve been hearing for ages – free WiFi is the number one factor influencing a business traveler’s choice in hotel.  Considering the staggering amount of time the modern working person needs internet connectivity, it just makes sense.
  • A business center. This is a must-have. Even if travelers prefer to work from their room, most will still rely on a business center for one reason or another – whether that be to use a printer, make copies, or, in the case of a personal computer crisis, hop onto one of the hotel’s desktop machines. Every top rated business hotel has one, so you should, too. Remember, it’s all about convenience, and a business center provides easy access for guests in need.

What successes have you had with evolving to suit the modern business traveler? Tell us in the comments!

Ways to welcome the whole family

September 4, 2014

Ways to welcome the whole family

With the hospitality industry experiencing resurgence, hotels can expect to see more guests – one type in particular. Children. That’s right, with infants, toddlers, teens and more adding their presence to your property, it’s time to prep rooms and programs for the onslaught, as Kimpton, Loews, and many others have now done.

For Infants and Toddlers:

  • Parents generally don’t want to snuggle baby (dangerously) into their bed, and they’re not likely to check-in with a crib in hand after traveling, so that means you need to have an alternative available upon request. Cribs are great, but if you’re working with a small space, play yards may be the way to go, as they can fold into a sleek, more compact form.
  • From the moment a baby becomes mobile, parent anxiety skyrockets. Ease parent’s minds and keep your little guests safer by preparing a ‘Safety Kit’, including outlet covers, nightlights, spout covers for the bathtub, and more.
  • Stock up on on-the-go items like strollers and car seats. If your venue can’t carry those items in-house, team up with a local business that does so you have a quick response when a parent asks.

For Older Kids:

  • For the walking, talking, more self-sufficient kids, invest in some rollaway beds. Depending on a child’s age and tendency to roll, some parents may be nervous about tucking their kids into a bed high off the ground. Rollaways are the solution.
  • Do you know any professional sitter services nearby? Pair up, hoteliers, because parents are on vacation, too, and they are sure to want a night or two out on the town.
  • Kids can be picky eaters, so make sure you have food options available to suit their selective palettes. Just be sure to keep it healthy to suit picky parents, as well.
  • How many times have you heard a kid say “I’m bored”? It’s your job to make sure there is plenty to keep those kiddies entertained. If your venue boasts a pool, you’re winning brownie points from the kids already, but don’t stop there. Consider organizing kid-friendly programs or renting out game consoles, board games and toys. Memories are made on family vacations, so make them fun.

How does your venue cater to the under 18 guest? Tell us in the comments!

Promoting health, wellness in hospitality

August 25, 2014

With the growing trend of health and wellness, travelers are now demanding more from their stay – from healthier food and spa treatments to meditation. Explore the latest wellness movements hitting the hospitality industry, and consider ways to make your business healthier.

Stressing the Physical Form. Though exercise isn’t exactly high on everyone’s list of ways to spend a vacation, a recent survey showed that 70% of travelers want a gym with both cardio machines and weights. Closely behind the fully equipped gym is a desire for more exercise options, according to the survey. Many hotels now offer fitness programs complete with a variety of class offerings – including dance-like exercises such as Zumba, indoor and outdoor yoga and meditation classes, and fitness boot camps. Don’t have the space for all that fitness? Not to worry. Many smaller venues partner with a nearby fitness center to meet the needs of their guests.

Back to Nature. If there is one word to sum up the health and wellness movement in 2014 it’s ‘natural’ – natural beauty, natural food, natural products. Delivering on the “less is more” appeal involves a closer look at your amenities. Reevaluate any scents and aromatherapy that don’t take an organic or natural approach. Do the same for food. There are a lot of terms being tossed out nowadays when it comes to eating – farm-to-table, organic, raw. Learn them, use them, and market them.

Ensure A Good Night’s Sleep. Hotels are improving guest health by changing the sleep game. No longer will guests fret over whether or not they’ll have a lumpy pillow or a bed with wonky springs. Now, finding the perfect pillow for guests is easy. For many hotels, promising sound sleep involves ambient sound machines, blackout shades, aromatherapy, and even chocolates and lighting that emit a dose of sleep-inducing melatonin.

We want to know – how is your venue attracting health conscious guests? Tell us in the comments!