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The hotel business is not getting simpler any time soon, but independent hotels are still able to compete on a level playing field against properties with support from larger brands. Investing in new technology is often a challenge with operators trying to control margins in an economy that just began to rebound. Fortunately, many of the capabilities that would aid independent hotels most are already baked directly into the hotel’s property-management system.

For example, guests have been calling for a more streamlined check-in process for some time, but only a limited number of hotels are offering a mobile check-in experience. One of the biggest misunderstandings about mobile check-in is that a mobile app is required to facilitate the interaction. While a mobile app is required to meet the hardware requirements of digital door locks, the rest of the digital guest journey can be addressed without downloading any mobile app by using a web app accessed by the guest via direct web links through pre-arrival communications from the hotel PMS. Without directing guests to install an app, which many travelers are reluctant to do, hotels have an opportunity to enhance the guest experience using information already available in the PMS. The key is a Web Browser based mobile application, test messaging and dynamic guest email communications. By directly contacting guests through the technology channels they already use, operators can provide high-touch interactions in a contactless environment.

Using these channels, hotels can quickly provide direct links to any part of the hotel experience, starting at check in. Notifications can be automated or pushed directly through email or text message up to 48 hours prior to the guests arrival. This enables hoteliers to confirm pre-arrival, and whether they have transportation or other needs. Hotels without BLE enabled electronic locks (needed for mobile key) can provide a pre-encoded key for pick up at an electronic kiosk or pre-arranged pick up location to allow for a contactless experience, regardless of door technology.

Talk the Talk

Operators are continuing to be tested by a challenging labor market where demand for rooms is outpacing hotels’ ability to service them. In this environment, communication has become the new focus for hotel technology. Staff-facing technology has taken hold across the industry with fewer hands on deck. Once again, with limited room to experiment with technology these needs can be met through a web app or browser-based operations or text-messaging technology, allowing any hotelier to take advantage of them.

Staff-facing communication tools have impacted every area of hotel operations, from the front desk and concierge to housekeeping and even spa services. Through access links provided via the hotel PMS, housekeepers can quickly check the status of every room on property, which areas of the hotel to prioritize, and even alert them to emergencies, all on their own mobile devices responsive design applications.

Most importantly, text-based communications cut down on time spent communicating with guests or hotel associates. Text-based communications tend to provide more accuracy in less time than direct conversation, and for associates it provides a clear chain of accountability. This is critical if hotels want to meet their goal of providing a high-quality guest experience with fewer employees.

Make it Simple

So much of this process is automated on the hotel’s side, but some aspects of mobile communication have a slight learning curve. Fortunately, email and text messaging are familiar to both guests and hotel associates. This familiarity allows hotels to leverage new technology in a way that embraces existing behaviors without relying on new ones. This makes adoption easy at a time when communication and nimble operations are a priority.

Since this technology is accessible directly from the hotel PMS, the biggest barrier to its implementation is operational. There is a fear of technology that persists in hospitality at a time when it has become a necessity. Implementing new technology can be challenging and initially a distraction from serving guests, however; it is clear from Hoteliers we speak to daily that guests have come to expect a certain level of service and responsiveness that is only possible through technology.

The ability to interface with guests’ devices has grown in popularity due to social distancing requirements, but today it has transformed into a competitive advantage. It could be a way to reach guests in the way that is most familiar to them, or an avenue for operational improvements. The best part is, hoteliers can leverage their existing PMS to make any of this possible, up to any level of digitization they deem important.

If communication is a part of hospitality, it is time to consider the ways discourse has evolved and interact with guests on their terms. Mobile technology has the potential to improve the industry in ways that were 

once considered impossible, and the timing is right for both guests and associates to take advantage of it. The only thing separating hotels from competing in this new digital environment is taking the first steps to bring mobile technology to their guests as part of their competitive advantage.

 
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TORONTO, ON (August 2021) – World Day against Trafficking in Persons  occurs on July 30th each year, an annual event to bring awareness to a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise. 

“Human trafficking is a despicable global reality. As much as we may like to think that modern-day slavery does not occur in Canada, the ugly truth is that it does,” said Irwin Prince, President & COO, Realstar Hospitality. “Hotels can become the unwitting and unwilling venue for this crime. As an industry, we need to be on the lookout for the indicators all the time.”

Realstar Hospitality embraced all efforts to help raise vigilance for the role that human trafficking can play in the travel and tourism industry.  Through collaboration with the Seattle-based non-profit Business Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST), every employee at over 145 franchised hotels across the country completed BEST’s Inhospitable to Human Trafficking online training.

The department-specific training is a brand standard for all hotel associates at every Days Inn, Motel 6 and Studio 6 franchised location in Canada. Beyond training, hotel employees received resources to supplement their knowledge further and help prepare them for potential occurrences.

Human trafficking networks often rely on legitimate businesses, such as hotels, to sustain their operations and infrastructure. Given the transient nature of the hotel industry, with its service-focused culture that respects guest privacy, hotels can be an appealing environment for human traffickers.

“Prevention starts on the front lines, and we are committed to increasing awareness of the signs and the actions necessary to prevent human trafficking. All hotel employees must understand how they can help,” added Prince. 

For more information and training visit https://www.bestalliance.org/testhospitality.html

 
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KINGSTON, ON (August 5, 2021) –Choice Hotels Canada is pleased to announce the opening of its first-ever dual-branded hotel: Quality Inn & Conference Centre and Comfort Suites Kingston Central in Kingston, Ontario.

“We are so excited for the opening of these two properties and look forward to further serving the Kingston area,” said Brian Leon, president of Choice Hotels Canada. “In this instance, having two of our hotel brands side by side was the perfect fit for the community and we are thrilled to welcome the Springer Group of Companies into our extended family.”

The Springer Group of Companies, based in Kingston, is a large commercial developer and experienced hotel franchise owner and developer.

The two hotels will be adjacent to one another, with the shared reception desk and lobby area located in the Quality Inn & Conference Centre. In the future, the properties will also be connected by a planned underground tunnel for guests to travel between both buildings.

The Quality Inn & Conference Centre is the larger of the two properties with 100 guest rooms, several meeting rooms and a large conference space that can accomodate up to 400. There is also onsite guest laundry, a newly renovated indoor swimming pool and fitness centre. The Comfort Suites has 64 guestrooms, including some with balconies, as well as its own indoor swimming pool and business centre.

“We’re thrilled to be expanding our portfolio in Kingston and opening not one, but two hotels under such trusted and reputable banners,”  said Michael Springer, president of Diamond Hotels, an affiliate of Springer Group of Companies.  “We believe they will be well received by guests and locals and we look forward to the future and growing our relationship with Choice Hotels Canada”

Located at 33 Benson Street off Highway 401, the dual-branded property is near downtown Kingston, the St. Lawrence River, and several iconic institutions including Queen’s University and Royal Military College.

For more information or a reservation at Quality Inn & Conference Centre or Comfort Suites Kingston Central, visit www.choicehotels.com.

 
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The ever-expanding premium hotel brand voco is showing no signs of slowing down, having announced in July that it is bringing its eco-friendly hotels to locations such as Chicago, the Gyeonggi-do province in Korea, Albania and Dubai. Leading data and analytics company GlobalData notes that the upscale hotel market is expected to gain some of the ground lost in 2020, and voco’s focus on environmental sustainability will strengthen IHG’s eco credentials.

Ralph Hollister, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Upscale hotels took a beating in 2020, but this looks to be turning around. In the UAE, for example, GlobalData predicts that the occupancy rate for upscale hotels will increase from 63% in 2020 to 75.3% in 2021. This is promising for IHG and voco’s expansion strategy, which includes this as a key area.”

At the voco Gold Coast, and many other voco properties, each duvet is made from 150 plastic bottles. Its bed linen has also been approved by the ‘100% Better Cotton’ initiative, contributing to the sustainable harvesting of cotton. At voco The Hague, the hotel’s garden terrace was designed by an expert ecologist.

Hollister continues: “The consistent theme of sustainability in voco properties will meet the growing need for responsible options from travelers, which should help voco to increase its market share as travel recovers. According to a survey by GlobalData*, 42% of global respondents are influenced by the extent to which a product or service is environmentally friendly/responsible.

“Making voco a potential leader in the theme of sustainability will also boost IHG’s eco-credentials. According to GlobalData’s lodging thematic scorecard, IHG scores a 4 in the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) theme. Competitors such as Hilton and Accor score a 5 (the maximum score), illustrating that these two companies have a competitive edge over IHG in terms of sustainability. The rapid expansion of voco could soon create a level playing field for IHG, allowing for an even stronger recovery in the immediate years after the pandemic.”

 
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Hospitality industry employees struggle with passwords, NordPass’s new research reveals. Among the 17 researched industries, hospitality industry employees used their company’s name as a password the most often. Instead of coming up with a sophisticated password to safeguard their business accounts, people simply put their company name as their password.

In addition to that, hospitality industry companies have only 29% of unique passwords. This means that more than two-thirds of employees reuse their passwords across accounts.

“Password reuse is a huge problem that poses a big threat to both consumers and businesses. If one password is compromised, all other accounts are jeopardized too,” says Chad Hammond, security expert at NordPass.

The research also revealed the top 10 most common passwords used by hospitality industry employees. Shockingly, the most common one is “password”.

Here are the top 10 passwords in the hospitality industry:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. Company name123*
  4. Company name*
  5. Company name*
  6. Hello123
  7. Company name 1*
  8. Company name*
  9. company name*
  10. company name1*

    The researchers analyzed data from public third-party breaches that affected Fortune 500 companies. In total, the analyzed data included 15,603,438 breaches and was categorized into 17 different industries. The researchers looked into the top 10 passwords used in each industry, the percentile of unique passwords, and the number of data breaches affecting each industry.

     

    Weak passwords are one of the top causes of data breaches in business

     

    According to the data by booking.com, people are eager to travel, and 47% of people are planning to travel within their own country. With the rising domestic and international travel, the hospitality industry must once again pay closer attention to cybersecurity.

    Simple passwords are very dangerous to all users, but businesses and their employees need to take extra care when it comes to cybersecurity. For example, back in February, a water treatment facility in Florida had a serious computer breach. The company used an unsupported version of Windows with no firewall and shared the same TeamViewer password among its employees. And, in December 2020, SolarWinds suffered from a big data breach, reportedly due to protecting one of their servers with the password “solarwinds123”.

    How can businesses increase their password hygiene?

    1. Create complex and unique passwords, update them regularly, and store them in a password manager.

     

    Adopting a password manager for company-wide use is your best bet to maintain the security of your business accounts. A password management solution provides a secure way to store, share, and manage passwords in a single place.

    2. Use multi-factor authentication or single sign-on

     

    Companies should use multi-factor authentication where possible for an added layer of security. Another great idea is to leverage single sign-on and password synchronization. With single sign-on, employees are less likely to revert to bad password practices, such as creating common passwords or writing them down.

    3. Educate your employees on password hygiene and potential risks

    It’s important to note that employees should avoid mixing their work and personal accounts. This ensures that your personal identity is not only protected, but also any information related to your employer is safeguarded in the event of a breach.

    Consumer-facing breaches can extend beyond personal accounts, potentially exposing the enterprise as well. Data breaches like this can create a domino effect across multiple organizations through the reuse of credentials across personal and business accounts.

     

    Methodology: The list of passwords was compiled in partnership with a third-party company specializing in data breach research. They analyzed data from public third-party breaches that affected Fortune 500 companies. In total, the analyzed data included 15,603,438 breaches and was categorized into 17 different industries. The researchers looked into the top 10 passwords used in each industry, the percentile of unique passwords, and the number of data breaches affecting each industry.

 

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