Press Release: Cloud5 Teams with Routier for Emerging Guest Engagement Software Solution

Find original press release here: https://cloud5.com/cloud5-partners-routier-add-customized-engagement-software-communications-platform/

Leader in hospitality communications adds innovative guest engagement to its HSIA product suite

HOUSTON, June 18, 2018 (HITEC 2018, Booth #2519)  —  Continuing its evolution as a thought leading provider of hotel communications technology and services, Cloud5 Communications announced today its partnership with Routier, an emerging hospitality software innovator. Routier helps hotel groups and hotels empower their staff and guests with seamless communications solutions that enhance exceptional guest experiences, building high guest loyalty and satisfaction.

This guest engagement innovation allows hotels to communicate with their guests in real-time during their stay without the need for them to download or install anything on their personal devices.  Guests simply need to access the Internet during their stay as they normally would. Hotels can know in real-time if a guest is having a good or poor experience, sense guest sentiment and follow-up immediately with the proper messaging and action.

“Combining Routier’s guest engagement solution with Cloud5’s HSIA platform, scale and operational capability in North America is a winning combination for both of our companies, and, most importantly, for our customers,” said Mark Holzberg, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Cloud5. “This is an important additional component to our product suite that leverages the power of our guest networks / HSIA with innovative technology to provide value enhancing service to the hotels and guests we collectively serve.”

Routier’s seamless engagement, marketing and operational solutions allow for hotels and hotel groups to proactively respond to and resolve guest issues in real-time, identify and qualify guests for upsells, upgrades and special offers, streamline operations by automating formally manual processes, and deliver effective marketing campaigns.

“As we expand our presence in the North American market, we are very happy to be partnering with Mark and his team at Cloud5,” said Gal Bareket, CEO of Routier. “Our seamless communications solution tackles one of the biggest challenges facing hotels – successfully connecting hotel staff and their guests at all times.  Cloud5 gets hotel communications, and our partnership, both operationally and from a technology integration perspective, will offer hotels in North America terrific benefits.”

Cloud5 will be showcasing its guest engagement solutions, alongside its complete hospitality communications portfolio, at HITEC in Houston, June 19-21, in booth 2519.

 

About Routier
Routier creates disruptive communication technologies for hospitality businesses, including hotels, airlines, and cruises. The company’s solution transforms the way hospitality providers connect, communicate, and share information with their customers and staff to substantially improve customer experience, customer engagement, and staff performance. More information at http://www.routier.io

About Cloud5 Communications

Cloud5 Communications simplifies complex networking and support for the hotel industry. It offers a comprehensive user-friendly platform that brings together advanced data and voice solutions, including end-to-end High-Speed Internet Access (HSIA), converged networks, hosted and on-premise PBX, WAN/LAN management, network design and skilled 24/7 support, as well as contact center services. Cloud5 serves thousands of hotels for leading brands, independents and management companies, and touches millions of guests and staff every day. For more information on Cloud5 Solutions, visit www.cloud5.com, or call 877.241.2516.

How to strategically manage your hotel brand’s equity and reputation

Ok, so you work with a hotel brand. Whether you own it, manage it, or manage just certain aspects of it, I have one question for you.

What is the most valuable thing your company owns? Is it your properties? Market share? Number of loyalty members? Take a guess.

The answer is actually your brand. Well actually it’s your brand equity which is based on customer perception of your brand name; customers associate your brand name with a promise, assurance, and a set of expectations that you must be able to maintain consistently. And when you’re managing multiple properties, even multiple extensions with multiple properties, ensuring that you’re maintaining the consistency of your brand promise becomes quite complex.

But before we get into measurement, let’s spend a few moments understanding the importance of guest satisfaction on a brand level and where guest satisfaction truly comes from.

Guests are the true determinants to whether a brand succeeds or fails and guest satisfaction has been used as a measure of operational success for branding strategies for the past 25 years (O’Neill and Mattila 2015). In fact, not only does guest satisfaction lead to repeat purchases, positive word of mouth, and guest loyalty, it also leads to higher market share, ADR, profits, and shareholder value (Prasad and Dev 2000).

But where does guest satisfaction come from? How can your brand ensure that your properties are performing at a level where no guest leaves your venue unsatisfied?

Well, let’s think about it. What makes guests happy? The location? The room quality? The amenities?

All these things are important, but nothing compares to the immense impact that quality of service delivery makes.

Your guests are happy because of the service they are given and the service is given to them by your employees. So technically, great service and high customer satisfaction depends mostly on the performance of your employees. And ensuring that your employees are motivated and passionate is not something that any brand should be confident about unless they have taken employee satisfaction into consideration when creating their brand standards and operational procedures.

In 1994, three brilliant professors from Harvard Business School introduced the service-profit chain, a methodology which demonstrates how employee satisfaction has a direct positive influence on customer loyalty which, in turn, contributes directly to an increase in revenue and profitability.

The chain is composed of several segments, all acting on a cause-effect relationship, where one event makes the other event happen.

In the next sections, you will find a breakdown of each of these segments: what they mean and how you can achieve them.

Internal Service Quality measures how much an employee’s work environment contributes to their satisfaction. Additionally, it identifies how easily employees communicate with one another inside the workplace. When you empower your employees, you see an immediate increase in employee satisfaction, hotel performance, and revenues.

Did you know that increasing your employee engagement investments by 10% each year can increase profits by $2,400 per employee?

Routier helps you invest in your employees, by empowering them with the right tools, resources, and information they need to help them:

  • Manage their tasks more efficiently and effectively
  • Coordinate with other employees within the organization
  • Engage with your venue’s guests across all channels, with one platform
  • Accomplish their own goals

Employee Satisfaction measures whether your employees are satisfied and happy at work. Higher employee satisfaction is directly linked to higher productivity, motivation, commitment, and service quality. Employee satisfaction derives from employee support and rewards offered by their workplace.

Did you know that the cost of replacing an employee is upwards of 200%? When your employees are satisfied, they are 87% less likely to leave the company.

Routier helps you identify and recognize outstanding team members who deliver quantity and quality. With this transparency, you can create incentive and rewards programs to help boost morale and motivation.

Employee Productivity is an assessment of the efficiency of your employee; it is measured in terms of output over a specific period of time. Higher productivity in the workplace will translate into better customer service and interactions.

Did you know that highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity?

Routier helps hotels measure and improve their employees’ productivity and performance by:

  • Automating staff and guest engagement processes in one central location
  • Eliminating communication redundancies across departments
  • Generating staff performance analytics, to help measure the quality and quantity of employee performance
  • Identifying patterns and trends across departments and employees, helping identify strengths and weakness in hotel operations

External Service Quality measures the quality of service that your employees deliver to your customers; customers place value on quick service and employee friendliness.

External service quality translates directly into increased profits; the more satisfied a customer is with the services offered by a business, the more likely they are to increase their spend, recommend to others, and revisit in the future.

Did you know that if a service business manages to increase its percentage of loyal customers from 76% to 81%, its net profits are expected to double?

Routier helps hotels “do things right the first time” by:

  • Measuring and monitoring the quality of service delivered by their employees
  • Relaying information to those responsible for designing the service
  • Providing staff with real-time alerts and notifications for guest issues, in order to improve issue-recovery time
  • Creating 1-central dashboard which obtains guest feedback in real-time, and translates that data into information in order to improve services and products
  • Creating a seamless engagement experience for your guests; no downloads, no installations, no hassles
  • Producing the highest engagement rates in the industry

Customer Satisfaction measures how your product or service met or surpassed your customer’s expectations. It is provides hotels with a metric they can use to manage and improve their business.

Listening to your customers is important; their feedback is gold! They’re actually teaching you how to improve your service and business so that you can make it better.

Did you know that an engaged guest with a positive past experience spends up to 140% more than a guest with a negative past experience?

Routier is designed to efficiently communicate, track, and manage all of your guests’ issues. And, most importantly, we make it as easy as possible for your customers to give you feedback and tell you about the problems they are having. Losing even one customer can have a serious negative impact on your business.

Routier helps hotels ensure that no guest leaves their venue unsatisfied by:

  • Providing employees with the right information at the right time to handle client problems promptly
  • Measure and monitor guest satisfaction in real-time
  • Encouraging guests to report their concerns, in the most seamless and easy way possible
  • Gathering guest data in a consistent and objective fashion

Customer Loyalty, derived from customer satisfaction, is exhibited when the customer continuously and consistently repurchases from you or revisits your hotel due to the positive experiences they have had in the past. Creating a loyal customer base is key to gaining a competitive advantage and succeeding.

Did you know that…

  • A 5% increase in customer loyalty can produce profit increases from 25%-85%?
  • It costs almost 7 times more to bring in a new customer than to retain an existing one?
  • That the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%, whereas the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%?

Routier helps you identify and leverage the opportunities that loyal and satisfied guests provide by increasing:

  • Referrals
  • Retention
  • Repeat visitations
  • Loyalty member enrollment
  • Upsells, upgrades, and cross-sells
  • Advocacy
  • And gathering guest information (emails, etc.) for post-stay engagement

So you see, customer satisfaction isn’t independent. It’s completely dependent on employee satisfaction and performance. If you don’t invest in your employees the right way, you can’t empower them with the tools and information they need to do their job correctly. And if they don’t do their job correctly, your properties suffer and your brand suffers.

Your brand is the most valuable asset your company owns. Without your brand name, brand image, and brand reputation, you got nothing. And that’s why protecting your brand is so important for long-term market success.

 

5 simple tips that are going to take your hospitality business to the next level

Hospitality is a competitive business and to stay ahead you need to constantly up your game. Every now and then you need to revisit your strategies, get rid of what no longer works, tweak the parts that do work and see where you can introduce something new. There are some underlying truths of course that will never change; the customer is always right and you have to deliver great service. There is absolutely no shortcut for the latter and as for the former; hospitality is the one industry where that has to be a mantra.

Five tips to take your hospitality business to the next level

Once you’ve got the two main points down to an art here are five simple tips that you can inculcate into your practice to elevate your business:

1. Give your product menu a makeover: Whether you run a hotel, restaurant or bar you have a menu of sorts. Be it services, food or drinks, every now and then you need to add something new or ditch something that is just not selling. Even adding deals like happy hours or buy one get one, could give your customers something new to look forward to.

2. Keep with the times: If you’re not promoting your business on social media nor have an app for customers to make reservations then you are going to get left behind. It’s all well and good to not want to jump on the bandwagon and do what everyone else is doing but times are changing. There is a whole new generation of customers out there who live their lives online and if you don’t have a digital presence you won’t get noticed. Hire a professional if you must but give yourself some online exposure to stay relevant.

3. Stand out from the crowd: If you want to get noticed and continue to stay noticed you need to give people something to talk about. You don’t have to be the best at everything but find one or two things that you can really flaunt. If your location is not the best then try and make your décor fun and inviting. If you are a restaurant, nothing beats providing excellent quality food in hygienic conditions to your customers. A clean setting puts customers at ease and has them coming back for more.

4. Take care of your staff: Overworked and underpaid staff are not only going to underperform but will eventually quit. If you want to provide quality service with staff that sticks around for the long haul you need to take care of them. Give them good incentives, realistic working hours, and days off. Once they are loyal to you they will pitch in on their own when you are a few hands short or it’s a busy weekend.

5. Know the competition: As mentioned earlier, hospitality is a highly competitive business, with new establishments springing up every day. It wouldn’t hurt to keep up to date with who your competitors are and if any of them are doing exceptionally well you could learn a thing or two from them.

Hotels Investing in Technology to Protect Credit Card Data

Data breaches are everywhere – and hotels are particularly vulnerable to such theft! After all, a hotel sees a number of massive transactions each day (and night as well!), and many of these transactions happen between the hotel and high-end clients. Needless to say, there will be plenty of entities out there waiting for an opportunity to breach the existing security systems and hack the credit cards.

Even big hotels have not escaped the scourge of a payment card hack. Hyatt Hotels Corp, for example, experienced a major breach in payment security between March and July this year. 41 properties across 11 countries experienced what can be called as one of the most massive payment security breaches in the history of the hospitality industry. Similar incidents affected Trump hotels and Hilton as well, showing that nobody is safe from such breaches.

Payment card breaches can cause a huge dent in the reputation of a hotel’s brand image, no matter how well they have established themselves in the market and no matter how great their services are. After all, we are talking about the hard-earned money of the guests, and it is no light matter that their credit cards have a chance of getting hacked due to a lack of proper security systems in the hotel!

And yet, despite such huge cases of data theft making rounds on the news, payment card hacks are still on the rise! Whether it is a matter of outdated security systems or simply due to negligence, at a critical time like this, when the hotels across the world are finding it harder to make profits than ever before, it is required that drastic and urgent measures be taken by all hotels to update their systems and increase payment security.

The way forward – the pre-requisites for better security systems

The preliminary steps that hotels need to take before actually investing in sophisticated systems involve creating an environment that makes payments safer. Now this involves a holistic approach to the matter, and should not be something that is simply left to those responsible for the technology employed by the hotel – this is just one aspect of the measures that the hotels must take up. To create a safe environment, the management needs to transform every aspect of the hotel – be it the payment systems, the executives or even the policies of the hotel – towards being involved in some or the other.

  • A prepared workforce: Is your workforce (especially the front-office executives) well-trained to understand card payments and potential threats to security? Whether or not your answer is yes, the fact remains that training should be an ongoing process as new kinds of threats emerge every day. Needless to say, you need to have frequent training sessions to develop your team into one that understands threats to credit cards better so that they can deal with such issues more effectively and reduce the chances of such events from happening.
  • Having specialists on board: Needless to say, there needs to be someone on board your team who can help educate your executives and who can play a pivotal role in such matters. Having a specialist on your team full-time or even as an honorary member can prove to be of great help.
  • Constant anticipation of the worst: There is a popular saying which goes “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”. Hackers attack the moment they find a weak link in the chain. As such, you will risk much by letting your guard down. Always expect the worst to happen, and keep your hotel prepared for such events at all times.

Successful upgrading of security systems are not only about software and equipment but making sure the entire culture and setup of your hotel are driven towards preventing payment security-breaches from occurring again in the future as well. This is also the area that is most hard to work on because change is not always easy. However, upgrading your software without paying equal attention to the prerequisites will give you poor results – if any at all!

At the same time, not investing enough into upgrading your machines and software will not solve the problem of payment card hacks, even if your executives have received the best training possible. Compromising with one will definitely lead to the failure of the other, and it is only when equal attention and importance is given to the two that you can make payments in your hotels safe and secure for your guests.

How The Internet Of Things Will Change The Hospitality Industry

Closing and opening drapes, controlling room temperature, turn the lights on or off with voice commands in a hotel room? Marriott International, a giant in the hospitality industry is all set to bring in these and more such tech driven changes in their hotels. Marriott already has Netflix ready TVs which allow guests to gain access to personalized accounts and view movies of choice. The technology that makes it all happen is the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT In Hospitality

 First coined in 2004, IoT gained popularity at the end of 2013.  According to Intel, there would be 200 billion connected devices by 2020, up from 2 billion in 2006. Each individual would be connected to at least 26 smart devices, as per Intel’s estimate!  Also termed “internet of everything” or “machine to machine” the concept is that everyday objects would talk to each other to provide a smoother, richer experience.

The hospitality industry is one of the biggest spenders as far as IoT is concerned.   Close to $128 million was spent in 2015 per company across the world which is much more than what other sectors like manufacturing, banking or utilities spend.

Rooms Of The Future

 The next logical step for Marriott is to make the voice controlled actions in the hotel rooms a reality. The hospitality leader is testing Amazon and Apple devices at the Aloft Hotel in Boston and once the right device is chosen, guests at Marriott will experience the convenience of the Internet of things (IoT).

In collaboration with tech partners such as Samsung and Legrand, Marriott is testing another concept at its innovation lab to bring about “connected hotel rooms.”  Samsung’s IoT in the form of ARTIK and smart lighting systems from Legrand will help Marriott bring in the most advanced IoT technology to its rooms to enhance guest experience.

According to Samsung, the IoT will help provide the “ultimate relaxation” and bring in personalized and intelligent experiences for guests. Business travelers could enjoy increased productivity while helping the hotel be more energy efficient.

Some possible experiences include asking a virtual assistant to sound a wake up alarm, taking yoga classes on the full length mirror or setting the required temperature for shower – all with voice or app based commands.

While the three-month project testing is on at Marriott, the “room of the future” could be all about smart technology from IoT. While technology enabled smart rooms would become a reality at Marriott five years from now, other big brands too are increasingly interested in leveraging smart technology to enhance guest experience.

At a recently concluded Revenue Strategy Forum event at London, the key message for hotels was to invest in and adapt the digital age technologies in order to improve market share, guest engagement and the bottom-lines.

Predictive Behavior

 The changes that IoT will bring in the hospitality industry are not restricted to providing seamless experiences during their stay. Hotels could benefit in many ways including improved efficiency, energy saving and reduced manpower. Another crucial aspect that IoT would help in is to do with data related to consumer behavior.

IBM Watson which has already made headlines with predictive intelligence in other domains – particularly healthcare – is set to foray into the hospitality industry with connected devices such as Panasonic digital mirror, Softbank Robotic lobby concierge and the Harman JBL intelligent speaker. These IoT devices would also help hotels gain valuable insights into guest behavior including their preferences, complaints or requests. Retrofitting these would also be possible, according to Bret Greenstein, Vice President of consumer business at IBM.

Telkonet’s EcoSmart and Samsung’s Hospitality Business went a step ahead with a welcome sign with the guest’s name in the smart room that also showed the controls of lights, temperature and shades.

For a returning guest, the EcoSmart can remember the guest’s previous preferences and adjust the light and thermostat accordingly.

IoT will make it possible for hotels to know the dining preferences of guests, which means there is no need for elaborate surveys and feedbacks.

Super Wi-Fi

 Experts predict that the coming years will see smart phones being capable of handling Super Wi-Fi, that uses TV broadcast frequencies.  Not only is Super Wi-Fi more affordable, but has a bigger bandwidth and coverage area which is of critical importance to the hotel industry. Such Super Wi-Fi could change the way hotels collect user data to create better experiences. The Super Wi-Fi platform would make it possible to have a seamless network of all IoT connected devices.

Improved Operations

 IoT can help probably eliminate the need for elaborate check in which also is one of the most often negatively rated services in hotels.

The Hilton Group and Starwood Hotels are set to introduce ‘Digital Keys’ that are sent to guests before they check in once the rooms are ready.

Location finding technology will in the future also help do away with check in with an automatic check in becoming a reality. This would also reduce the need for front staff personnel.

Smart sensors in the room can help hotels manage their assets also better.  The smart sensors can alert the administration personnel when there is a maintenance schedule or when in distress.  Correcting leaky pipes and tubs well before they become expensive problems is one of the advantages of having connected devices and sensors.

Starwood Hotels also use smart technology to control indoor lighting based on the amount of natural light that is entering the hotel.

Smart sensors can also help hotels know when a room is empty. While knocking is an invasion of privacy and can be rude, smart sensors can help personnel know if the room is occupied.

While personalization can get technical, too much automation could also be detrimental. Server bots for room service and absence of front desk personnel could deprive the guest of the valuable human interaction that can still make all the difference.

While hotels embrace technology, the guest’s comfort and personalization will always be at the heart of hospitality. Big data, IoT and automation can be intelligently used to add to the guest’s experience and improve operational efficiency.

 

Guest Personalization: The Roadmap To “Youniverse”

Hotels are one of the few industries that depend entirely on satisfying every whim of their guests. The pressure becomes all the more intense given that hotels also happen to be one of the only industries where the good business depends on the number of customers staying overnight at the premises itself. As such, there customer-satisfaction has to be taken to all new level in a hotel than, say, in a company that deals with marketing or retail.

So what exactly makes a hotel such a highly critical industry when it comes to customer satisfaction?

  • A hotel runs non-stop. There are guests at all times of the day and night, unlike most other businesses
  • In the Hospitality industry, it all boils down to one thing – ‘hospitality’ – how you make your customers feel, rather than any product
  • Customers need to be made to feel special, rather than just be given the same routine treatment like other guests. This is the basic aspect that helps a hotel gain an edge over its competitors

These challenges have given way to an intensive customer-centered approach to hotel business operations called ‘Guest Personalization’. It simply means that the services of your hotel are carefully tailored to meet the individual needs of your guests, based on research, customer tracking, forecasting, analysis of online customer-behavior and so on.

If successfully done, these are the five major outcomes that you can expect your efforts to have on your hotel’s business:

  1. Higher Guest-Retention

In Hospitality, guest-retention plays a greater role than getting new guests. Guest-retention is more difficult to achieve because to convince your guests that you are so good that they should stick to using only your services can be quite a challenging task. Through Guest Personalization, Guest Retention can be enhanced because each guest will be made to feel special. Greater guest retention will translate into better business, and even help you expand your customer base because of the kind of positive reputation you will gain.

  1. Better Image In The Market

Once you have successfully achieved higher customer-retention, there is every chance that the market sees your hotel as one that is the best at doing what it is supposed to do. If you have successfully managed to create a happy recurring customer base, it will speak volumes of the quality of your services, thereby helping you to get established in the market as one of the best hotels. Better your image in the market, higher will be the turnover of your business.

  1. Enhancement Of Guest Experience

Once you are able to personalize your services to your guest, you will be better able to enhance your guest experiences. You will know exactly what kind of services to provide, how and when. Having good services in place are not the only thing that will ensure customer retention. Knowing how to deliver those services is just as important if you want to ensure better customer satisfaction. Today, the focus is not just on delivering goods and services to customers, but on enhancing ‘Consumer Experience’. This means that along with giving something to your customers, you should be able to help them experience and enjoy those services better. Customer experience can be enhanced by giving each guest services that personally have a strong value for them, even if it is a just a few services. This trumps a long list of services that the customer does not need, any day.

  1. Better Reviews

Reviews can either make or destroy any business. And today, what with the conveniences brought about by the internet, social media, travel websites, online complaint forums and so on, more and more customers are coming forward to share their experiences than ever before. These reviews are then read and shared by a wide circle of people within no time. Naturally then, all businesses – and especially those in the Hospitality sector – are afraid of bad reviews because that would be all it takes to undo all the effort invested in building up the business.

Now, if each guest is treated in a special manner, there is no doubt that it will lead to better reviews because each of them will want to tell the world how they felt when your hotel understood their every need and catered to each of them beautifully. As a result, you will see a better flow of business and a stronger recurring-customer base.

  1. Cost Saving

Guest personalization may seem like an expensive concept. However, the truth is that you will end up saving a lot in the long run. Think about the resources you would be wasting on offering services that your guests do not even want! Now, if you focus on giving each guest only what is required by them, you will definitely see your savings increase and cost of operation going down.