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  • Members Only: 2018 HFTP Compensation and Benefits Report

    By Tanya Venegas, MBA, MHM, CHIA. Results to the biannual survey conducted by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP). Information includes data on compensation and benefits trends for finance and technology professionals in the club and lodging industries.

  • Success in the Sunshine State: Highlights from HFTP's 2018 Florida Regional Conference

    The beautiful Sarasota Westin Hotel — with its bright white facade, multitudinous windows and stunning rooftop pool area — made a very picturesque setting for the 2018 HFTP Florida Regional Conference, which took place July 25–27, 2018.

  • Annual Convention 2018: A True HFTP Experience in the Land of the Kentucky Derby

    On the bank of the Ohio River in the east south-central region of the United States looms Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville — home to the famed Kentucky Derby horse race, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Louisville Slugger baseball bats.

  • Members Only: IT Spending in the Lodging Industry Three-year Analysis: 2015–2017

    By Agnes DeFranco, Ed.D., CHAE; Arlene Ramirez, CHE, CHAE; and Tanya Venegas, MBA, MHM, CHIA. PART II: An analysis of IT spending data in the lodging industry based on reporting in the new USALI Schedule 6 — Information and Telecommunications Systems.

commercial

apaleo expands to the UK with appointment of Alan O'Riordan

apaleo GmbH · 1 August 2018
Based out of London, O'Riordan will be responsible for leading apaleo's UK and Ireland business development, as well as the international growth of apaleo, beginning in August 2018. He has also joined the community of apaleo shareholders which consists of the founders, apaAngels and apaChamps.O'Riordan brings more than 19 years of experience and a successful track record to the team, having worked with PMS' such as protel and Guestline in different capacities. In his most recent role, he was Managing Director, UK & Europe, at Xn protel Systems."I wanted the next step in my career to be with a true technology innovator - a company that could bring about genuine positive change in the hospitality industry. Having extensively researched the hotel technology market, apaleo impressed me the most. Its team of founders, technical people and partners is outstanding," says O'Riordan. "apaleo's API-first approach, together with a native cloud PMS and the apaleo Store is unique. Its ability to develop this entire platform in less than a year shows the team's focus, and I am excited to lead business development efforts to make apaleo a global player in the industry."Uli Pillau, one of the original apaleo founders, comments, "apaleo spent the last year heavily focused on building a flawless platform. We are now entering our next phase, in which we will focus on growth and expansion. Alan's great experience, reputation, and leadership is exactly what we were looking for in this phase. We look forward to growing our presence under Alan's leadership."As part of this expansion phase, apaleo is seeking to hire more exceptional candidates for various roles within the company, particularly motivated developers looking to build products that will disrupt the hotel industry and talented sales and marketing candidates with proven track records of success. Candidates are encouraged to submit their applications here.Uli Pillau continues, "apaleo's team and culture impresses many who first meet us. Everyone at the company acts as a true founder. The team's passion and set of core values allow us to be agile, move quickly and deliver on features and promises. This isn't always the case with bigger companies with corporate environments, and we think our hotel customers and development partners will see a clear benefit from our agile approach."About Alan O'RiordanSince graduating with honours in German, French and international marketing in 1991, Alan has worked in sales, marketing and general management for over 25 years. He has in-depth knowledge of hospitality and hotel technology, having worked closely with some of the world's most prestigious hotel companies during his 19 years with Guestline and Xn protel Systems.
Article by Stephan Wiesener

Hotels: Are you a Clunker or a Sports Car?

apaleo GmbH ·26 July 2018
"The most successful technological innovation should feel so natural to the user that it's almost completely invisible. We only notice things when the user experience is awkward or clunky, or when it simply doesn't work." Otto Berkes, CTO CA TechnologiesThis quote is more than two years old, and yet, the hospitality experience still feels clunky, both for hotel staff, as well as for guests. Just think of the check-in experience at most hotels: the front desk staff must ask the guest key details (name, etc.), look up the reservation, make sure the guest has the right room assignment and that the room is clean, type in more guest details, activate the card, and so on. Meanwhile, the guest is standing awkwardly at the other end of the desk, waiting to get access to the room when they would rather be doing almost anything else.Clunky, like a beat up car. You know what guests want? They want the sports car of hotels. Doesn't matter what category, what kind. So how do we go from lemon to luxe? One way to remove the clunkiness is with APIs. Public, 2-way, APIs.Let me back up. If you're a hotelier, you've likely heard the term API a lot recently. You may not know what it is or why it will save you from awkwardness. But you should. API's are the backbone of any digital network of programs. They are the way that we connect software, data and applications. In fact, Forbes Contributor Louis Columbus called 2017 the Year of the API Economy.For those catching up, API stands for Application Programming Interface, and, on the most basic level, it allows systems to communicate with programs. In the "explain-like-I'm-five" version, it is how computers talk to one another.What, then, is a public, two-way open API? This is an API that is available for anyone to use and can push data in, you guessed it, two directions, to and from applications. This is a set-up that allows total developer access to the programming interface. No extra charges, no walls that keep some clients in and some out. Complete access. They allow programmers outside of an organization to access back-end data to make their own applications better. This is what apaleo offers. A true public, open API.So why does it matter? Loads of PMS providers say they have an open API, but they don't really. Tiered pricing that only allows some customers access doesn't really qualify as public or open. And it matters a lot, because this is where the magic happens.It means integrations become a non-issue. No more worrying about how one piece of technology works with another. We've spent so much time and energy spinning our wheels about integrations in the hotel industry. It's time to move on and this is how.It also means the potential for extreme innovation. As Columbus notes about APIs, "The greatest revenue potential they provide is removing barriers to growing revenue by integrating platforms and apps so organizations can quickly launch new business models and scale fast." For this very reason, we want hotels to play around in the API, to innovate, create new apps, new models for an industry that has been historically slow to evolve. An open API speeds up the rate of evolution exponentially as developers discover new possibilities, try them, and sometimes fail but more often sometimes succeed.Hotels aren't the only industry standing at the precipice of revolutionary change. The banking industry is going through a transformative period, exploring open APIs and the potential for innovation. Some say, "But banks are banks, we need them, why would they bother?" Because, as The Global Treasurer reports, there is a danger for banks in not innovating. "Established banking institutions become utilities focused only on providing core basic services that can be accessed via alternative, low-cost personal lifestyle apps such as Venmo." Hotels are similarly at risk. When hotels become just a bed for the night, they will be replaced by efficient, accessible lifestyle alternatives--think Airbnb. Evolution is necessary to stay relevant to today's consumer.Every industry is now underpinned by technology and in order to grow, to avoid being outpaced by the tech savvy of Airbnb and HomeAway, hotels must innovate. Yes, in-room technology matters. And, yes, the way the lobby is laid out is important. But, today, true innovation starts with core technology. A core PMS system with an open API is where this begins. Time to trade in the beat-up ride for something that can cruise the Autobahn.
Article by Margaret Ady

From Tech Dependent to Tech Savvy: How Hotels Can Get Ahead of the Curve

apaleo GmbH ·11 July 2018
Patrick Fisher of Thomson Reuters notes that, "As technologies become more and more pervasive across industries and functions, companies as varied as Goldman Sachs, Exxon, GE, Citi, and Walmart are all becoming technology companies as well." Hotels may not be peddling technology, but they are profiting off of their ability to offer guests innovative technology solutions as well as their ability to use technology to do better business. Even if hotels aren't ready to be labelled technology companies, hotel operations have evolved from an industry that once utilized technology to a technology-dependent industry.However, as Futurecast notes, a tech dependency doesn't necessarily mean the users are tech savvy. Even when it comes to digital natives/millennials. Adapting technology to our needs can be a challenge even for those immersed in it. Perhaps this is why hotels are more tech-dependent than ever but most will report they are lagging behind the tech curve.So how can hotels move from laggards to innovators? Here's a look at what tech savvy companies are doing to stay ahead of the curve.Review the budgetTech-competitive hotels dedicate budget to technology. 71% of hotels that consider themselves innovators will increase technology budgets in the coming year, according to Hotel Technology's 2018 Lodging Technology Study. Hotels that do not reallocate the technology budget will fall behind the curve. Increasing the technology budget does not necessarily have a negative impact on the bottom line. This shift will is likely increase efficiency and will, over time, have positive revenue ramifications across departments. Consider this when budgeting.Source -- Hotel Technology: 2018 Lodging Technology StudyReinvent the central technology systemFor many years now, the PMS has been the heart and core system for most hotels. As the 2018 Lodging Technology Study notes, "The PMS has truly become the central hub of hotels, being tasked to do a myriad of different functions." While in theory this sounds fine, in practice it presents problems. In trying to tout all-encompassing feature lists, PMS vendors develop poorly implemented functionalities that would be better developed by app developers specialized in these areas (think upsell, mobile check in, BI/reporting, etc.). But most PMSs do not connect with these third party applications, so hotels are stuck with their PMS's functionalities or none at all.Hotels that want to drive their technology forward will need to rethink the requirements of their PMS and reinvent how it is used within the context of the hotel's full technology stack. Tech-savvy hotels will search for lean PMSs that offer a fully open 2-way API. This allows the hotel to use core functionality from its PMS and add additional features by connecting its favorite apps and micro-services at the click of a button. The hotel can then grant these apps access to the information stored in the PMS and write back data to the PMS so that all technology works together seamlessly. Approaching the PMS this way creates the most innovative scenario hotels have seen to date. It might initially feel risky to make the jump, but what's riskier is relying on proprietary, closed legacy systems that don't innovate at all.Self-disrupt to innovateSelf-disruption - not to be confused with self-destruction - is when companies find ways to evolve or completely overhaul their current mode of operating before another company beats them to it. A good example is when Apple knowingly killed its iPod sales with the iPhone. It is common practice at major tech corporations, and Gartner reports that by 2020 five of the top seven digital giants will self-disrupt.Hotels can get ahead of technology by doing the same. Self-disruption will mean different things for different hotels. For a traditional, single property hotel, it may begin with switching to a native, cloud-based PMS in order to create operational efficiency, train new staff faster, and access data on mobile devices while on the go. For a hotel with tech-savvy business travelers, it may mean connecting new technology that allows for faster (self) check-in - or better yet, setting up the infrastructure to run a staffless operation. For Marriott, this meant introducing voice technology, with the recent announcement of Alexa-enabled rooms. The opportunities are endless, but one thing is clear: hotels that take the time to reflect on guest needs and self-disrupt will succeed in an already saturated market. Technology, guest access to it as well as operational innovation, will become one of the things that differentiates hotels and drives guest loyalty in the coming years.Say it out loud, "My hotel is a technology company"In fact, almost all companies are technology companies now. Even at a coffee shop, if the Wi-Fi is lousy or the POS hiccups every time the tablet is spun around to get a signature, the business will suffer. Hotels that embrace the fact that they are as much a technology company as they are a hospitality organization will inherently put technology at the center where it needs to be. Let's face it, marketing runs on technology, reservations run on technology, revenue management runs on technology, as does F&B, the spa, the gift shop, housekeeping. You get the drift. Hotels that aren't actively prioritizing technology and actively working to change the entire organization's mindset will lag behind.Recruit and hire tech-savvy leadersWhile it shouldn't be a pre-requisite for every executive team member to have worked in Silicon Valley, hotels do need to hire at least one staff member who handles technology. By this, I do not mean hardware. Not the person who makes sure the computers run. I mean a high-level developer, tech lead or CIO who can review and consult on proposed technology purchases. One who can speak to the true assets and drawbacks of the technology. One who can see if it integrates with the rest of the tech stack. This way the hotel will know when a vendor says that they integrate fully that they actually mean it (because, loads of companies say they do, and it's not always true).It may seem odd to discuss forward-thinking technology without mentioning the latest buzzworthy tech like AI, VR and blockchain, but this emphasis on individual technologies is how lagging hotels have gotten where they are - just trying to keep up with the next thing. It's time for hotels to take stock of how they budget, prioritize, implement, and innovate with technology, which requires a philosophical change at the senior level. One that says, Technology is as much our priority as hospitality because it is required to deliver the experience our guests expect. Instead of piecemeal tech solutions doled out to different departments based on who's most in need, hotels must create a holistic technology strategy, one guided by hospitality principles but led by technology know-how.
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Margaret Ady joins apaleo's founding team as the company enters new growth phase

apaleo GmbH ·29 June 2018
In her role, Ady will be responsible for apaleo's brand positioning, marketing, and strategic growth. She brings a wealth of experience, having most recently led marketing for Berlin-based SnapShot, and prior to that, for TrustYou. Before joining the hospitality technology scene, Ady held key leadership roles at The Walt Disney Company and The Oprah Winfrey Network."apaleo's API first approach is forward-thinking and will disrupt the hospitality industry by removing the bottlenecks that previously held us back. apaleo's open platform gives hoteliers and app developers alike the freedom to innovate," says Ady. "I'm looking forward to growing apaleo's presence as we drive the hospitality industry into the future.""Margaret has a track record as one of THE leading marketing experts at the crossroads of hospitality and technology. We wanted her to join our founding team as nobody else can do better in helping to shape the next generation of hospitality technology - the API first revolution," says Martin Reents, one of the original apaleo founders.As part of its growth phase, apaleo is expanding its Munich-based team across nearly all business units with exceptional, driven candidates seeking to change the industry. Open positions can be found on apaleo's website here.Margaret Ady continues, "one of the things that impressed me about apaleo is its superhero team, which is passionate, hungry, experienced, and smart. The team's attitude allows us to stay agile so that we can deliver new features and functionality quickly, setting us apart from the competition. I see this as a huge asset for hotel customers and app partners."
Article by Philip von Ditfurth

Lightning Speed & Why It Matters

apaleo GmbH ·21 June 2018
With technology, there is "what it does"--the functionality--and then there's "how it does it," as in how fast, how accurate, what the interface looks like, and so forth. Functionality is that by which we decide we need a technology--a new POS, PMS, CRM--and so the "how it does it" becomes a secondary consideration. The way a technology does what it does gains weight as you move through the evaluation process. When you are presented with competing technologies--those that seem to do the same thing on the surface--the differences start to become clear and the "how" takes on a new magnitude of importance. For instance, legacy property management systems can take months to set up, a typical cloud-based PMS can take weeks, and one with self-service set-up (hint hint: apaleo) alows a property to be set up in minutes. That's right, minutes!Why does this matter so much and why should it be a primary consideration? Of course, there's the simple fact of speed. Who doesn't need more time, more productivity, and faster employees? According to the Hospitality Technology 2018 Lodging Technology Study, among the Top 12 Tactical Objectives hotels have for this year are reducing the cost of managing technology (#4) and increasing employee productivity (#5). The two go hand-in-hand.In order to meet these goals, hotels must give more priority to how technologies do what they do. 1). Setup speed and length of training required, 2). user interface efficiency, 3). Ease in which it can connect to other core systems, are all key components of this evaluation. Whether you're looking to reduce turnover among front desk staff or to increase efficiency, a speedy, intuitive technology will do both. What won't accomplish these goals are closed property management systems that require hours upon hours of set-up, two weeks of training to onboard, and no ability to connect innovative apps. Hotels need systems that take just minutes to set up a new property with inventory, services, rate structure, and policies, as well as add on innovative apps to help run the business.There's more than the act of moving faster--and the implied time and money savings--at play here. In his article, Four Reasons Speed Is Everything, Adam Fridman writes that if you're not fast, your competitors will be and that companies should establish a culture of speed, because "no company in any industry can get ahead with a slow culture" (Inc.). The hospitality industry, even as it has grown in lodging supply and demand, finds itself repeatedly behind the curve with technology. The lag is understandable given the scale on which many hotels must operate and the cost to implement new procedures (another benefit to a speedy and easy-to-use PMS), but there is an undercurrent of resistance to change or, at the very least, slowness to adapt, that runs deep and holds the industry back. One essential aspect of embracing new, innovative, and fast technologies is that it moves the whole industry ahead, and those on the forefront of the movement will be more successful than their competitors.We have entered a phase in which the pace of technology has increased exponentially, but as economist Larry Summers notes, "productivity statistics on the last dozen years are dismal." About this, Vox Editor Ezra Klein says, "There's a simple explanation... It's changing how we play and relax more than it's changing how we work and produce." Hotels have the opportunity to go from lagging technologically to a leading technological industry simply by embracing technologies that help them get ahead, setting a new pace for not only staff productivity but also for guest service. It's time for hotels to play in the technology space in a bigger, more thoughtful way. As CNBC's Todd Haselton puts it, "Every company is a technology company now... as tech has quietly become the beating heart of efficiency in every firm." And speed is one of the most important components.
Article by Uli Pillau

The One Thing Every Hotel Should Consider When Purchasing Hotel Technology

apaleo GmbH ·13 June 2018
Every hotel technology, whether for guests or back of house staff, has the same end one way or another--that is, to improve the guest experience. Reaching that end requires that the technology is easy to use. Here are four ways that choosing technology with the best ease of use will save your hotel operational costs and will improve the guest experience.1). User AdoptionNo matter how elegant the technology, how many bells and whistles, if the technology isn't easy to implement and use on a day to day basis, user adoption suffers and the technology either won't be used properly or won't be used to its fullest.For hotels, the problem of technology adoption is growing. Alan Zaccario, VP of information technology for New Castle Hotels & Resorts, tells Hotel Management, "Ironically, the most complicated systems have little in the way of training. They rely more on vendor engagement." When staff must depend on lengthy training and/or vendor engagement in order to use the core systems of a hotel, they are necessarily less apt to use the technology to its fullest.2). Efficiency = Better Guest ServiceWhen staff don't use technology correctly or completely, they are less efficient, and, therefore, less successful at serving guests. Long-time hotel technology consultant Jon Inge says, "If you improve efficiency, you have fewer distractions for the staff so they can automatically start giving better guest service."Additionally, a fully integrated tech stack saves substantial time on simple, operational tasks and reporting. When systems are properly connected, many tasks can be automated and new tools specific to the hotel's business model can be added or removed with ease.The easiest place to start increasing efficiency through integration is with your PMS. When evaluating a new PMS, hoteliers should ensure that the PMS is native cloud-based and non-restrictive in terms of number of integrations (note: one sure-fire way to know if the PMS platform is completely open is to see if it has a public, open API).3) Save on Staffing ResourcesFurther, hotels that have technologies that can be easily adopted also avoid adding staff unnecessarily. Hotel Uhland implemented the apaleo PMS along with Hotellistat for revenue management. Set up was complete in less than a day and the simple user interfaces that allowed them, for instance, to drag-and-drop pricing helped the property avoid adding more staff to manage channel distribution and rates.4) Tech That Survives TurnoverIt's common knowledge that the hotel industry has among the highest turnover rates of any industry. Estimates tend to fall in the 30% range. During high season, the effects of turnover are felt intensely. Usability is paramount, especially for core technologies, when turnover rates are high. It keeps existing employees happier and more effective when technology they rely on helps them speed up at critical low-staff periods and training is minimal for rapid onboarding with new staff.With digital natives entering the hotel industry in greater numbers, the demand for better usability will grow and frustration with legacy systems will skyrocket. It makes sense to incorporate ease of use as a primary consideration for all tech integrations from here on out.
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apaleo Wins EyeforTravel Europe's 2018 Startup Award

apaleo GmbH · 8 June 2018
apaleo seeks to drastically change the world of hotel software by creating an open property management system (PMS) platform that connects all key hotel systems quickly and seamlessly. The apaleo PMS is at the core of these systems and can be set up in minutes. It is the first PMS which is purely based on a fully open 2-way API that allows hotels to grant applications access to all the information stored in apaleo, as well as allow them to write back data to the PMS. apaleo's public API allows hoteliers to innovate without major risks, integration hassles, long wait times and hidden fees. Developers and software vendors can easily connect to apaleo, and hotels can even develop their own, custom apps with ease. Applications are housed in the apaleo Store, opening the possibilities for hotels to connect to pre-integrated, innovative apps - guest or staff facing - with one click."We are excited to receive this award because it indicates that the industry is ready for a change. Hoteliers and innovators alike shouldn't have to struggle with integrations pains caused by legacy systems," says Philip von Ditfurth, co-founder of apaleo. "We look forward to enabling forward-thinking hotels to embrace the digital future."apaleo was founded in 2017 and launched in less than a year with a team of twelve passionate developers and industry veterans. After its product officially entered the market in March, apaleo has already onboarded several hotels and hotel chains across Europe, has welcomed more than 30 app developer partners, and has grown its team to twenty.apaleo has made it simple for hotels to switch from legacy systems. If your hotel is ready to enjoy the freedom of working with the apps you love, learn more about apaleo or schedule a live demo here.

Is Your Hotel's Data Secure?

apaleo GmbH · 8 May 2018
Is Your Hotel's Data Secure?How To Process Payments Risk-FreeAre you taking the right actions to make sure that your hotel's data is secure? There are security measures and standards in place to ensure that you and your guests aren't at risk, particularly when processing payments. Here are the details about these standards, what they mean for your hotel, and how to ensure that you are safe.An Overview of PCI DSSWhat is PCI DSS?PCI DSS is short for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Opposed to GDPR, the PCI DSS is not a law, but a standard defined and maintained by an independent entity created by major payment card brands. Whenever you want to accept credit cards from brands like VISA and MasterCard, you are required to be compliant with this security standard. The PCI DSS can be seen as a collection of best practices or rules on how to treat the sensible payment card data entrusted to you by your guests in order to prevent data breach and fraud.Do I have to be compliant?Whenever you make a contract with a payment service provider to process credit cards on-premises or online, you will have to demonstrate your compliance. Depending on the payment provider or the acquiring bank and the size of your business you have either to fill out a self-questionnaire or might even have to conduct an on-site audit with a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA).What can happen if I am not compliant with PCI DSS?If payment card data entrusted to you is leaked and misused the payment brands will penalize the acquiring bank. Those fines might be passed to you as a merchant if you are found to be non-compliant. They can be somewhere between 5,000 EUR and 100,000 EUR for every month you are non-compliant, and, in the worst case, you might lose the right to accept payment cards from the major payment card brands. In addition, you could face legal issues and a damage of your reputation. So, best is to see the rules from the PCI DSS as a guide that helps you to secure your business.Choosing Compliant Technology PartnersHotels can ensure that they remain PCI DSS compliant by choosing technology partners that are PCI DSS certified. This applies to any technology that the hotel uses to process payments, which, for most hotels will start with their PMS. As apaleo was building its PMS architecture, PCI compliance was considered from the start, so we were certified within a matter of weeks.How do technology partners get certified?Technology providers should conduct on-site audits to prove compliance. At apaleo, these audits are conducted yearly. QSA Adsigo inspects the technical implementation to identify any potential risks how sensitive cardholder data can be leaked and also checks our security policies and processes. When compliance can be validated, technology providers receive an AOC. apaleo customers can download ours here. With this AOC and the acknowledgment of responsibility from your provider, hoteliers can easily fulfill the requirement 12.8 from the PCI DSS on service provider management.A Hotel's ResponsibilitiesTechnology partners like apaleo allow hotels to run their business in compliance with PCI DSS, but there are still things you need to take care of. Full details on which requirements you need to fulfill can be found on the official website of the PCI Security Standards Council.E-Commerce and Mail Order / Telephone Order (MoTo)If you accept cards on your website and other online channels like booking.com, or you accept credit cards for mail and telephone orders, then the PCI requirements will be related to restricting user access to cardholder data, ensuring compliance of your service providers and maintaining an incident response plan at max. This also depends on your bank or payment service provider.Card-present with modern IP based card terminalsIf you also process payment cards on-premises using a modern IP based terminal connected to the payment service provider through the internet you will be exposed to additional requirements. Most banks or payment service providers will only obligate you to this high standard if you are processing a high volume of terminal transactions though. The payment service provider Adyen, which is used for payment processing in apaleo, currently only sets these high standards if you process more than 1mio transactions.If so, then you will have to clearly separate the network of the IP terminals from the other networks in your hotel and have firewall rules in place that ensure the terminals can only communicate with the payment service provider through securely encrypted connections. All systems connected to the network of the IP terminals will belong to the so-called card data environment (CDE). Only authorized persons should have access to those systems, which also implies heavier policies and documentation efforts to you. On top of that you will have to run a quarterly external vulnerability scan.
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PMS Vendors, Tear Down This Wall!

apaleo GmbH ·12 April 2018
While it is an obvious over-exaggeration to compare Ronald Reagan's famous "Tear Down This Wall" speech to a proverbial technology wall, hotel technology does come with many barriers. The barriers that property management systems have created (installation fees, long sales cycles, integration costs, long wait times for upgrades) leave hotels stuck with clunky, expensive software that doesn't always address their guests needs. It is time for PMS vendors to initiate a change and tear down the proverbial walls so that hotels can provide great service and streamline operations, developers can innovate, and travelers can get the most out of their hotel experience.The 3-Pronged SolutionPMS vendors should make it simple for hotels to customize their software so that it makes sense for their business and caters to their guest segments. To do this, the PMS must be fast, scalable, and connect to third-party applications without any friction. This can be achieved by focusing on three main components:A native, cloud-based PMS: To quickly add technology to the PMS, hotels need a cloud-based system that can be set up quickly and does not charge hidden fees for integrations. These systems allow hotels to add new features, integrate new apps immediately, and set up new hotels as needed because there are no on-premise installations. (side note: a great explanation of what it really means to be cloud-based can be found here)A public, 2-way API: Hotels must be able to easily connect third party applications to their PMS without any wait times or additional fees, so the PMS should make it easy to develop and integrate apps with a public, 2-way API that allows apps to write data back to the PMS and vice versa.A centralized location with pre-integrated apps: Now that apps can easily be built and integrated, hotels should have the ability to find and purchase them with the click of a button to customize their software based on guest needs.How tearing down the technology wall changes the industryAs solutions become barrier free, the entire industry benefits, from hoteliers to technology providers. But perhaps most importantly, hotel guests win with better, tailored hotel experiences.Hoteliers have the freedom to customize their technology based on guest needs and expectationsThe openness of this setup allows hoteliers to have a core PMS on top of which they can add pre-integrated tools based on the profile of their guests and the nature of their business, all without having to worry about long wait times and fees for new features and integrations.For example, the technology required to operate a staffless hotel will be different than that of a 5-star, high-touch, family-friendly resort. Both could use the same PMS, but the staffless hotel would plug in technology to facilitate seamless check-in - automated pre-stay emails, keyless entry, automatic checkouts and billing, etc. - while the resort would connect apps that personalize the experience - customized upsell packages, tools for staff to identify and address guests by name, mobile chat for room service requests, VR experiences, and so on. Both may want to connect a channel manager, BI and reporting tools, a CRM, etc. All of these technologies can be connected and running with the click of a button.The applications that hotels add to their PMS can be scaled up or down, allowing hotels to evolve with their guest segments and guest expectations. On top of this, with a public, open API, hotels can even dream up their own app ideas and build custom solutions for specific to their hotel.Technology providers can focus on improving the guest experience rather than on integrationsIn the industry's current state, hotel technology providers are forced to allocate a considerable amount of time and resources on building integrations, rather than enhancing their products and innovating. With a public, 2-way API connecting developers to the PMS, developers no longer must worry about integrations.This frees up time to build tools that are useful and meaningful, from optimizing hotel operations so that staff can spend more time with guests to guest-facing applications that 'wow' travelers or make their experience more seamless, to tools that help hotels better understand their guest data so that they can better personalize marketing, optimize pricing, and so on.Because all the technology integrates and is available in one store, developers have a central place to connect and sell their technology. Within the store, apps are filtered by category and popularity, allowing new developers to introduce their technology on a meritocracy basis.A better guest journey encourages more bookings and loyal customersHotel guests benefit from wall-free technology because they receive a more personalized, improved experience. It allows them to book and travel with the apps that they already love without compromising their preferences. It allows for faster booking, check-in and check-out. It allows guests to easily interact with the hotel pre-, during, and post-stay as well as update and save their room and personal preferences so that hotels can accommodate their needs without having to ask. The list goes on.As guests have a better experience, they may leave higher reviews, and generate more business via word-of-mouth, allowing hoteliers to adjust their room rates, increase the lifetime value of the guest and to differentiate from competitors.In ConclusionBarrier-free hotel technology will have a significant, positive impact on how hotels approach technology, how developers build their products, and how guests experience travel. But it is up to PMS vendors to take action. Let's make 2018 the year where we finally tear down the proverbial walls!
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Death to PMS Interface fees!

apaleo GmbH ·27 March 2018
If the industry agrees that this shouldn't be such a hassle, why is it still a pain? The reason lies with the legacy Property Management Systems (PMS) which still dominate the market. They are closed, monolithic, and often unwilling to work with third-party tools.Barriers of legacy technologyLegacy PMS technology typically gets a bad reputation for being difficult to use, not user-friendly and slow. They are individually set up for each account, which means that the initial implementation and set up can take time thanks to server set up, installs and configuration. Once set up, all upgrades (including new integrations) must be done manually, since they are specific to each server - there is no common setup across accounts. So, before building any update or new integration, a legacy PMS provider must first evaluate the cost and benefit based on the expected return of a customer over its lifecycle. If building the interface can provide a return, it is added to the queue, where a hotel could wait months or even years for the new version.Hidden fees stack upBecause PMS vendors control the timeline and acceptance of requests for interfaces, they can pick and choose if and when to work on them. When a request is accepted, it is often at such a high cost that the connection is not worthwhile for the hotel to pursue. Technology companies may have the opportunity to build their own integration to the PMS but face similar challenges - the integration comes with high certification fees and take months or even years to build.The costs do not stop there. The PMS then starts charging their clients, the hotels and chains, with significant interface fees per hotel per interface. Often hotels only find out about these additional fees, which may add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of euros, only after the final integration is complete. And, on top of these fees, the PMS vendors again add additional fees for installation and support of the interface. These fees are lucrative for the PMS vendors. The interface fees are often significantly higher than the cost of the PMS software license itself.No incentive to change the business modelIn the current model, the only winners are legacy PMSs, which are reeling in fees from hotels and technology vendors and are dictating the speed at which technology can be adopted.Both hotels and tech companies lose - hotels don't have an easy way to connect their preferred tools and certainly don't have the ability to test new products, and technology companies must allocate significant resources for building integrations.The industry seems to have accepted this as the norm, without demanding change from PMS providers. It is time for hotels and technology companies to demand a better way, otherwise, legacy systems will continue to monopolize their influence and stifle innovation. So how can we as an industry put an end to costly PMS interface fees, long wait times, and siloed technology?A better way with cloud PMS and open APIThe first thing is simple. Hotels should look for next generation, cloud-based PMSs. Cloud-based PMSs come with many advantages. They can be setup quickly - sometimes even in a self-service style by the hotel itself - because they don't require any on-premise installation. Once setup, hotels can begin using the PMS almost immediately. Cloud-based PMSs are also scalable and accessible anywhere, so hotels can grow and access their data from any device.Because cloud-based PMSs are new compared to their legacy friends, they tend to have a more user-friendly user interface, saving hotels time and resources on training and onboarding new staff. Considering the high turnover rates at hotels, this can be a huge benefit.Adding features, building integrations and setting up new hotels become simpler and faster with a cloud PMS. When an upgrade is made on a cloud-based PMS, it can be done once, for all customers. No queue, no wait times.While cloud-based PMSs makes it easier to build new integrations, this alone will not solve the problem. The PMS should have a public, open API that allows any third-party software to connect to the PMS. This API must be 2-way, allowing apps to write data back to the PMS and vice versa. This open approach allows integrations to be completed within days and eliminates certification fees for third-party tech companies and interface license fees for the hotel or hotel group.While many companies preach cloud-based PMSs and open APIs, most still come with hidden fees and workarounds. It is time to remove the barriers that traditional PMS providers have created and break the current business model of legacy PMS players. It is time to claim once and for all that PMS interface fees are dead!
commercial

What technology is required to operate a staffless hotel?

apaleo GmbH · 6 March 2018
So how can hotels go unmanned while still ensuring that guests remain satisfied throughout their entire guest journey? The answer lies in the hotel's technology. Here's how PLACE TO SLEEP Hotels manages its staffless hotels.Pre-arrivalAs with most hotels, guests can easily book a room directly through the hotel website, through any major OTA, or by calling the hotel's central office, where a motivated team supports all service requests. However, at PLACE TO SLEEP Hotels, once guests make a reservation, they automatically receive a confirmation email generated by Swedish company, Loopon. As part of the reservation process, guests have options to customize their stay with vouchers for breakfast, coffee and more, which can be redeemed at a partner cafe near the hotel.Prior-to-arrival, guests receive a PIN code via email and SMS, which can be used to open the main door to the hotel as well as the guest's room throughout the stay.In-houseOnce on premise, the guest is automatically checked in once his or her code is used at the hotel room, meaning that the guest does not have to spend time in a queue just to let the hotel know that he or she has arrived. Additional services can be offered at the hotel by the online kiosk at the hotel's entrance which is connected to apaleo.There are systems at play behind the scenes as well. PLACE TO SLEEP hotels uses apaleo's cloud PMS to automate room assignments and Adyen Payments to process credit card payments, all without manual work from hotel staff.Post-stayJust like the automated arrival process, there is another time-saver for guests at the time of the check-out: The guest can simply leave the hotel without any sign off and will be automatically checked out at noon, when the PIN code is also automatically deactivated. An invoice generated by apaleo will be delivered via email.Making the process run smoothlyIn order for a staffless hotel to work well, the hotel should reduce the number of room types to a required minimum. This means that a large number of rooms are essentially equal. These rooms do not have different sizes or rates.Policies and prices for early check-in or late check-out must be entirely clear and not open for negotiation. Either there is no such thing as early check-in or every hour of early check-in (when available) requires a certain fee, which is automatically posted. Group bookings are simply multiple individual bookings.With all these policies and technologies in place, the hotel can indeed run essentially on its own. Some people, such as housekeeping are still required, but even the communication with housekeeping staff can be automated. At PLACE TO SLEEP Hotels, housekeepers are informed via apaleo's housekeeping app, which notifies the staff as to which rooms need to be cleaned. The team can then clean the room and update the status of the room within the app so that it is ready for check-in.BenefitsWith such a reduction in personnel, the hotels that operate unmanned has two major benefits.Firstly, they do not require a high number trained staff and therefore have lower fixed operating costs, which in turn means they can operate even smaller units profitably. This enables a blue ocean strategy for the PLACE TO SLEEP Hotels by allowingexpansion to smaller destinations and 'secondary locations' of major cities where demand is lower and indeed too low for a traditional full-service hotel, but enough for a small staffless unit.Secondly, they can save a significant amount of money. These savings are passed on to the guests via highly competitive rates, and the hotel itself can choose how to invest the savings - in particularly nice rooms, excellent locations, or a combination of the two. In addition, the company can increase the profits and run a highly lucrative operation from day one.Jan-Henrik Holmlund, co-founder and CEO of PLACE TO SLEEP Hotels, says, "We are very proud of the highly effective hotel concept we have created. The results we produce with our hotels and through the technology automation can beat almost all of the traditional hotel concepts we are aware of.""The guests love the easy and mobile-friendly guest journey and getting rooms at a great price," he adds. "We see a significant interest in Finland and the Nordics in having many more hotels in that region, and next will be an expansion to other European countries. The PLACE TO SLEEP Hotels' financial model using automation allows us to operate properties with profits hardly seen before in the industry in destinations with lower demand. Innovation is at our very core, so it was vital for PLACE TO SLEEP for find an innovative partner with a next generation PMS. We believe in the big vision and team of apaleo which we have known for many years."What's next?Are you looking for a more flexible PMS that can help you to embrace the digital age? apaleo founders will be at ITB in Berlin, stand # 114-117 in hall 8.1. Hotels looking to book a meeting with the founding team may do so here.
commercial

apaleo to present new Cloud PMS and the apaleo Store in Berlin at ITB 2018

apaleo GmbH ·27 February 2018
apaleo, the innovative Munich based company developing a flexible and scalable cloud PMS fully equipped with a 2-way API and a store that delivers pre-integrated apps for hotels looking to embrace the digital age, announced today that it will be in Berlin for ITB 2018 running 30-minute Setup Shows that will showcase how simple its next generation cloud PMS is to set up.The PMS, which is built for single and multi-property hotels, is easily set up and supports all mobile devices. apaleo clients enjoy access to a growing number of third-party apps, including a modern Internet Booking Engine (IBE), 2-way integrations with distribution channels such as booking.com as well as specialized components for certain hotel areas covering guest communication, rate management or housekeeping.Uli Pillau of apaleo, says, "In 2017, we concentrated entirely on the development of the PMS and the Ecosystem with quicker results than expected. There are already over 30 innovative third-party companies doing integrations using the apaleo public API. We created a comprehensive offering of excellent software components for the hospitality industry."Over the past few weeks, apaleo has onboarded its first hotels and hotel groups in several European countries.Regarding the plans for 2018, Pillau adds: "In 2018, we are building many new product enhancements and will begin to roll out apaleo to hotels in key destinations in Europe, including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, UK, France, Spain and the Nordics. We are also committed to adding more applications to our marketplace so that hotels have access to pre-integrated, highly innovating tools that will help hotels keep up with the latest technology. The apaleo Core PMS is in the background so hotel groups and hotels can have their preferred partner in each category working together as part of a seamless platform."apaleo is working on the platform with a core team of 20 people in Munich, Germany. Hotels and hotel groups that want to become more digital and address the needs of today's travelers can use the apaleo systems which is entirely independent of hardware. The apaleo Cloud PMS can be activated within a very short time without going through an extensive installation and onboarding process.The apaleo team will prove its fast set-up during hotel demos at ITB (stand #114-117 in hall 8.1) and show how they can be fully set up in 30 minutes or less. Hotels looking to book a demo can do so here.
commercial

Removing The PMS Nightmare: How One Hotel Set Up a New PMS and Fully Integrated Revenue Management Tool in A Matter Of Minutes

apaleo GmbH ·19 February 2018
One hotel, unsatisfied with its current setup, decided it was time to make a change and searched for a better way.Hotel Uhland, an independent property located in the heart of Munich's city center, struggled with its legacy PMS. The system itself was clunky and did not offer simple, integrated solutions for managing rates, channel management, and more. The team was spending too much time and manual work on its pricing, taking away from time that they could be spending with guests.Susanna Worle, General Manager of the hotel, notes, "We are a rather small team with a very personal touch to the guests. A challenge we are facing is positioning our unique offering on the competitive Munich market. Technology is playing a critical role to stay in the race. But as a small team it has become nearly impossible for us to deal with the increasing complexities integrating the tools we really need."Worle began her search for a flexible PMS that could be set up quickly and could easily connect to core revenue management tools. Her goal was to find a solution to optimize the hotel's rates using data like competitors' rates, events, historical data and business on the books, without manual work and the possibility of human errors.After extensive research, she settled on apaleo, a fully cloud-based PMS with a pre-integrated marketplace of applications in a variety of hotel software categories. Through the apaleo marketplace, Worle selected Hotellistat for its revenue management tool, which provides a simple drag-and-drop interface to adjust prices and update rates in the apaleo PMS.To Worle's surprise, the entire set up was a breeze. She notes, "It is amazing how easily we can manage our prices with Hotellistat - not to mention that the rates are automatically updated in our apaleo PMS and synchronized with our OTAs without a channel manager. Because Hotellistat is pre-integrated with apaleo, the setup was done in less than one hour."With numerous comparison and filter options, Worle and her team were able to analyse the price of room per category, length of stay, occupancy, cancellation policies and included services. What's more, by a simple drag-and-drop, Hotel Uhland can adjust prices to its competitors' rates. And with a click of a button, optimize and update rates into the apaleo PMS, saving countless hours of work without the need to hire additional staff.Download the entire case study here.Want to see how you can set up your hotel with a new, flexible PMS in less than an hour? Book a demo with apaleo at ITB!
commercial

From Startup To Live In Nine Months: apaleo Launches Cloud PMS In Record Time

apaleo GmbH ·23 October 2017
apaleo, the creators of the Open Hospitality Cloud, announced the completion of multiple milestones. Not only did they complete the development of the first native-cloud PMS, they also released an integrated IBE (internet booking engine), certified their two-way integration with Booking.com, achieved PCI-compliancy and took their first hotel customer live. The entire project is built on top of the Open Hospitality Cloud, the API-based ecosystem that enables multiple companies to rapidly build apps and components."The record-breaking speed in which we built this PMS is due to the revolutionary architecture of the ecosystem on which it is based," said Uli Pillau, CEO of apaleo. "Not only is the development more efficient, but the reliability, security and performance is magnitudes stronger than anything we have seen before in hospitality technology."The pilot customer will open its doors in 2018. Currently they are taking reservations via the IBE on their own website, via Booking.com and via the group call-center."We didn't merely build a standard integration with Booking.com; we implemented some of the newest and most advanced features Booking.com has to offer" added Benni Schmid, co-founder of apaleo. "Of course it helps that several members of our technical team have done this before."The Open Hospitality Cloud ecosystem represents a new paradigm in hotel technology. No longer are hotel companies forced to choose a proprietary, monolithic product. Open Hospitality Cloud solutions are collaborations of multiple software vendors who have agreed on a common API. This enables hotel companies to build their dream solution using their favorite components and apps from different vendors, with the confidence that all the pieces fit together.apaleo is currently taking orders from European hotels. The company management will be in London at the World Travel Market at Excel from 6th to 9th November. Interested hotels and partners may contact wtm@apaleo.com to schedule a meeting.
commercial

apaleo announces Open Hospitality Cloud, an ecosystem for the hotel industry that integrates a true cloud PMS and an extensive API

apaleo GmbH ·31 July 2017
apaleo's Open Hospitality Cloud is centered around a true cloud PMS with an intuitive user interface which facilitates quick and easy implementations in hotels and hotel groups. At the heart of the platform, a powerful inventory system manages inventory of all kind, i.e. rooms, beds, workspaces or meeting rooms for any given period - not only overnight stays and day use offerings but also bookings specified to the minute encompassing spa appointments, late checkouts and anything else that is required to operate a hotel with flexible service offerings.Martin Reichenbach, founder of apaleo, comments, 'There is a considerable need in the market for a new approach to deploying and running a PMS considering the mobile business requirements of the hotel industry. Hotel groups have been stuck with closed, inflexible systems for far too long and are looking for an open ecosystem.'The Open Hospitality Cloud will provide third parties with a powerful open interface to pull all relevant data into their apps, apply business logic and push any data back into the platform. apaleo has already been working closely with several launch partners such as Conichi, Up Hotel Agency andOaky who are developing specialised apps that plug into The Hospitality Cloud.'This will be a vast improvement over the status quo in which hotels may be dependent for years, if not decades, on a single vendor and their monolithic system. The API has already been published andanyone is free to access our platform through our website (www.apaleo.com),' explains Stephan Wiesener, apaleo's CTO.A major benefit for the hotels will be the ability to pick vendors autonomously. The hotelier will be able to choose a housekeeping app from one vendor, a CRM app from another vendor and a banqueting app from a third vendor. The plug-and-play infrastructure of Hospitality Cloud ensures that everything works together smoothly. If the hotel is no longer satisfied with one of their apps, itwill be able to swap it for a different one from the Hospitality Cloud App Store.Marloes Knippenberg, CEO of Cloud7 Hotels comments, 'We are not technologists, we are hoteliers. We have strategies we would like to implement in our hotels but are unable to do so because the technology has not allowed us to. In this fast-changing industry, we can't afford to wait. We want solutions now. With Hospitality Cloud, we will be able to react quickly to changing environments. The possibilities will only get better over time.'apaleo was founded in 2017 by experienced hospitality and cloud software experts. The Munichbasedcompany is well-financed and already employs 15 hospitality enthusiasts.About conichiconichi offers seamless hotel stays by merging digital processes with traditional services through the guests' smartphones. The app technology enables an Express Check-in, gives Keyless Access to rooms and allows Mobile Payment & Check-out in all participating Smarthotels worldwide.About Up Hotel AgencyUp Hotel Agency has one mission, to be the best Digital Hotel Agency in the world. We work very much like a boutique hotel providing a unique range of services that are completely tailored to our individual clients. Our full service team provides modern web application development, creative websites and digital marketing to hotels which provide real results.About OakyOaky is the commission-free and personalised upsell platform for hotels to maximise profit and enhance the guest experience. With modern upsell for the modern traveller, Oaky put guests in control of designing their upcoming stay with upgrades, deals and services. Using the online dashboard, hoteliers add guest-facing deals in just one minute. Real-time revenue reports help Revenue Managers maximise profit.
commercial

apaleo announces completion of seed financing round

apaleo GmbH ·26 June 2017
apaleo was founded in January 2017 by a group of friends and partners who had a unique focus on hospitality and technology. The group started developing a true cloud platform for hotel management in February which form the basis of an open ecosystem. The Munich-based start-up of currently 15 people is constantly growing and the funding will support this infrastructure for at least 18 months.Digitisation is the main driver for innovation in hotels but unfortunately the integration of new systems has turned out to be extremely cumbersome and expensive because today's core technologies for operating hotels are entirely closed. The vision of apaleo is to establish a software ecosystem based on an open API. Hotel groups and hotels will be empowered to instantly connect third party software and apps of their choice.Both hospitality customers as well as existing and new technology companies will benefit hugely from this type of ecosystem. apaleo's mission to develop an open platform has the potential to change the IT landscape for a hotelier and can impact IT planning over the long term.One of the founders of apaleo Uli Pillau adds, 'Initially this round of seed financing had been planned with internal resources only. When we pulled together our apaleo community we saw a great deal of interest from parties who not only wanted to support the company with their expertise but also with financial backing. This led us to establish a group called apaAngels consisting of good friends with an excellent reputation in hotel or hotel technology.'

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