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 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.

 

How to Sell Better Wi-Fi Packages to Your Hotels

Business travelers and vacationers alike have come to expect reliable wi-fi wherever they go. Whether it’s in the backseat of a vehicle or 35,000 feet in the air, high-speed internet is beginning to feel less like a feature and more like a basic necessity. It’s little wonder that, when a guest checks into a hotel, they anticipate the same quality internet connection that they have back at home. As guests become more and more willing to pay for wi-fi packages, they are less and less likely to be satisfied with insecure, unreliable, or low-speed internet service.

The Importance of High-Speed Internet

According to a recent survey, 71% of hotel guests say that the quality of high-speed internet influences where they stay. Of those polled, 92% said that guest room internet services were “very important” to them. When it comes to wireless internet, travelers value three things above all others: speed, reliability, and security.

It’s important to bear in mind that business travelers don’t just work with documents and websites. The definition of work has changed over the years. Many of us work with multimedia, or connect with peers via video conferences. Travelers rely on a speedy broadband connection that can handle the demands of a vigorous and interactive data exchange.

Reliability is key. Business travelers are constantly juggling work and leisure, and if they are unable to perform the duties of their job when they’re on the go, this can reflect negatively upon their reputation around the office. Travelers demand consistent wireless internet connections that experience a minimum of downtime, and preferably no downtime at all.

Because many of our jobs involve the exchange of sensitive data, business travelers require wi-fi services that keep their information safe. Even a momentary lapse in internet security can deter someone from visiting a hotel in the future.

We live in an increasingly interconnected age. Word of mouth spreads quickly. If a handful of guests report that your client offers an internet connection that is sluggish, unreliable, or insecure, this can have long lasting consequences for your business. Travelers will take note of the negative experiences of others and your client will lose visitors. For that reason, it is vital to provide powerful and versatile wi-fi packages that boast robust bandwidth and top-notch security features.

Offering Services, Features, and Benefits to Your Clients

Because travelers are already paying a little extra for wireless internet, they expect the very best that technology has to offer. While speed, reliability, and security are important features, those should be considered the bare minimum that your customers will expect. Travelers — and especially business travelers — anticipate the sort of benefits that will enable them to connect as seamlessly with others on the road as they would back at home.

For one thing, they don’t just want wi-fi that works in their rooms. They want wireless internet that allows them to prowl the grounds, that extends internet access to the pool, the bar, the hallway, or wherever else they may roam.

Entertainment is in high demand. Travelers often bring their kids along with them, and after a stressful day at the airport or behind the wheel, most travelers want to unwind by providing their family with online entertainment. By offering in-room entertainment options that connect with a television — via, for instance, Chromecast, Hulu, or Apple TV — you can help guests kick back and make the most of their downtime, which figures into their overall wireless internet experience.

A wireless internet service provider needs to supply around-the-clock support. For business travelers, time is always of the essence, and if a traveler is paying for wireless internet that isn’t working, this can lead to frustration and, in the end, a loss of business for your client. By providing 24/7 access to a team of helpful customer service staff members, you can nip any connection problems in the bud and build a positive rapport with a regular customer.

Going the Extra Mile for your Customers

In general, hotel visitors value quality and economy. They want the most bang for their buck. They want a lodging experience that will provide the most comfortable accommodations at the most reasonable price. When it comes to wireless internet, their expectations are no different.

By going the extra mile for your customers and providing the sorts of services that they expect from their at-home internet provider, you can ensure that your clients — and your service — receive the right kind of word-of-mouth publicity.

Travelers are creatures of habit: if they have a positive experience with a particular hotel, they are likely to visit that same hotel again. With high-speed wireless internet quickly becoming one the main amenities that a hotel has to offer, it is vital that your service fits in with the overall experience that your clients are providing. By offering maximum connectivity, security, reliability, and around-the-clock customer support, you can ensure a positive response from hotel managers and travelers alike.

Making Hospitality Better With Wi-Fi

People can now forego chocolate or coffee, but not Wi-Fi! In a survey conducted by Iconic Displays, 39% of the respondents said they would give up coffee to get Wi-Fi access. Another survey of Americans reported that 75% of respondents would become “grumpier” if there was no Wi-Fi for a week as compared to what they would feel if they had to live without coffee for the same period.  And 44% of them are willing to give up chocolate to get Wi-Fi!

The era of the Wi-Fi

The year 2017 will see more than 9 billion users of Wi-Fi enabled devices and those numbers will change to 21 billion by the year 2020! In fact, the year will also see the maximum internet traffic that exceeds the combined traffic of all of the previous years!

Public Wi-Fi hotspots too are slated to grow phenomenally from 64 million hotspots in 2015 to a whopping 432 million by the year 2020.

These figures send a clear and loud message for the hospitality industry – that Wi-Fi is the key to making customers happy! For 38% of participants in a survey by Hotel Chatter, Wi-Fi is a deal breaker and they would book only in hotels where connectivity is available.

The ever increasing demand for Wi-Fi

A Statista poll asked whether they would prefer free breakfast or free Wi-Fi during their stay at a hotel. More than 55% of those surveyed indicated they would rather have free Wi-Fi than free breakfast!  Even the wealthiest of travelers prefer complimentary Wi-Fi, with more than 66% of more than 2000 travelers polled by Resonance Consultancy deeming it to be a very important amenity in a hotel.

A Forrester study revealed 90% of travelers named wireless service as the top desired amenity in hotels.

In 2015, about 85% of hotels in the U.S. and 75% of hotels in Europe offered free Wi-Fi.

Hospitality industry needs to invest well into this trend to meet the expectations of the customers. The challenges in constantly updating technology in tune with the advancement in devices that customers use notwithstanding, more than two-thirds of hotels are planning to increase bandwidth to meet the demands.

Why do customers want Wi-Fi?

For those who travel for work, Wi-Fi is obviously the most important facility to be able to stay connected with work updates. Video conferencing, online calls, and checking emails are some of the needs of the business traveler.

Those on vacation would like to be able to connect with family and friends while checking out local attractions, maps, booking cabs or updating on Facebook and so on.

In fact, many studies show that the first thing that the guest checks on is the Wi-Fi even before inspecting the bed, shower or other amenities.

The benefits of Wi-Fi in improving the hospitality experience for the guests go beyond providing the connectivity. Here are some ways in which wireless services can be great value adds for the guests:

Food ordering: Wi-Fi enabled food ordering services can add to the experience for the guest. Not only can staff use Wi-Fi enabled devices to take orders that will minimize errors and speed up the delivery process, but guests using Wi-Fi to order food anywhere across the hotel is also a value add.

Online menus: Menus available on the internet makes it convenient for guests to choose from options. It is easier for hotel management to update the options as they change online than manually.

Front Desk services: Registration kiosks and check outs can be made a smoother and faster experience with Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Seamless integration: Wi-Fi can also be used to connect the guest seamlessly across other services in the hotel including housekeeping, front desk, travel desk or others.

Faster Wi-Fi the need of the hour:

Many surveys have shown that the speed of the Wi-Fi is a crucial aspect in gaining the approval of customers. Many hotels across the world are increasingly investing in boosting the bandwidth and speed given this scenario. For example, Marriott reviews the internet usage trends every year and sets minimum acceptable standards for its hotels based on these.

For hotels with more than 1,500 the minimum standard is 600 megabytes per second (Mbps). A minimum bandwidth of 300 Mbps is set for hotels with a lesser number of rooms. Wyndham is another hotel offering premium Wi-Fi service to all guests with 100 Mbps of bandwidth. Hyatt goes a step further to personalize the experience for its guests. The Wi-Fi remembers the guest’s device which means that a returning customer need not log in every time.

The Free WiFi Debate – 4 Reasons Free WiFi Is Critical For Success In The Modern Hospitality Industry

There has long been a debate raging on in the hospitality industry, and it’s about free WiFi – or the lack of it. While most hotels now offer free WiFi to guests, there are still a surprising number of holdouts who charge extra for internet access.

Here’s a simple fact – people expect to have free WiFi when they pay to stay at a hotel. And if your chain doesn’t offer free WiFi, chances are that you’re losing out on potential guests, and providing a worse experience for any guests who may still choose to stay in your hotels.

For the 4 reasons listed below, free WiFi is absolutely critical for any hotel chain looking to stay competitive in the modern hospitality industry. Read on, and learn why that’s the case.

  1. People Rate Free WiFi As The Single Most Important Feature Of A Hotel – And Lack Of Wifi Can Be A Dealbreaker

 What’s the most important thing to your guests? A clean bathroom? Fresh towels? Comfortable beds? A flat-screen TV? Little mints on each of their pillowcases?

No, no, no, and no. In a recent survey, 67% of travelers listed fast, free WiFi as their #1 top priority in a hotel. That ranked higher than a good night’s sleep (58%), friendly staff (40%) and even location, which squeaked in at second place with 65% of travelers.

Among business travelers, the numbers are even more shocking – 90% of all business travelers say that fast, free WiFi is their highest priority at a hotel, and 27% of polled business travelers say they would refuse to stay in a hotel that did not have WiFi.

The numbers are clear. Free WiFi is a major priority for travelers – and if your business ignores this, you’re going to lose business.

  1. Guests Are Already Paying For A Room – Why Make Them Pay For WiFi?

 This is, perhaps, the most important thing to consider when thinking about offering free WiFi at your hotel. Think about WiFi as an amenity – part of the overall package that your customer pays for when they stay at your hotel.

Your guests don’t pay directly for the soaps, shampoos, lotions, and other amenities that they use when staying at your hotel, nor do they pay each time they have their towels laundered. Instead, the costs of these amenities are built into each individual hotel’s pricing model.

This is in contrast to luxury items – such as minibar snacks, food, and liquor. Customers are fine with paying extra for these things, because they’re not absolutely essential to their stay – and they’re totally optional.

In today’s world, free WiFi is not optional. So don’t think of it as a luxury. Think of it as an amenity – something that each guest pays for when they decide to stay at your hotel. If you really need to, you can even raise your rates slightly to ameliorate the cost of a high-quality WiFi network. As long as your network is high-quality and free to guests, they won’t complain.

  1. Most Modern Devices Can’t Use Wired Internet

 Some hotel managers may say “But wait! We offer free wired internet connections through Ethernet jacks! Isn’t that enough?”. The simple answer is – no. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are now driving the majority of web traffic – and these devices cannot use a wired Ethernet connection.

It’s not just smartphones and tablets, either. As modern laptops continue to shrink in size, they often do away with unnecessary ports – and the Ethernet port has been the first to go in both Apple and Windows-based computers.

And while customers could set up their own WiFi networks if they brought their own routers, requiring someone to do so just to get access to your internet network would be ridiculous.

To put it simply: if your hotel is only offering free wired internet, it may as well not be offering internet access at all.

  1. Guests Can Already Get Free WiFi Just About Everywhere Else

 Here’s a quick thought experiment for you. John is a customer at a major hotel chain. He’s on a business trip. He goes to the front desk, checks in, and grabs a quick coffee from a Starbucks, located in the lobby before he heads up to his room. He opens up his laptop and tries to connect to the internet.

He connects to the hotel chain’s WiFi network, and a popup appears on his web browser, informing him that he’ll be charged $9.99 per day for internet access. He’s confused – why isn’t the WiFi free? He’s especially confused because he knows that the Starbucks in the lobby offers free WiFi.

How is it fair that a guest can pay 2 bucks for a cup of coffee and get all of the WiFi connectivity they need, but paying $150/night for a hotel room isn’t enough for management to offer free WiFi?

Believe us – customers understand this injustice. Just about every major coffee shop, library, bookstore, restaurant, and even airports offer free WiFi. In our modern world, we have grown to expect that WiFi will be fast, free, and readily available at just about every establishment we go to.

Failing to meet those expectations can lead to frustration, anger, and poor customer satisfaction results.

 Get With The Times – Or Get Left Behind. Free WiFi Is Essential For A Modern Hotel

 It’s hard for us to overemphasize how important free WiFi really is, in the modern hospitality industry. Customers expect to get access to your WiFi network when they pay to stay at your hotel – it’s as simple as that. Failing to meet those expectations will result in sub-par business performance, and poor customer satisfaction results.

You don’t have to go crazy and offer your free wireless networks to everyone who walks in the door of your establishment, but guests who are staying at your hotel should always have access to a fast, free WiFi network – for the 4 reasons listed above.

So if you still aren’t offering free WiFi at your hotel, get with the times – or you risk getting left behind.