Category: Featured Post

The 101 Guide to API for Hoteliers

API stands for Application Program Interface. Unless you’re developing an app, website or working in a tech-related profession, API probably remains as another acronym to you. The truth is you might have been using API on a regular basis without recognizing it: using voice recognition to convert text to speech on your messenger, trying to get price comparison for your next flight, or getting located on your food delivery app.

The amazing world of technology that API brings to the hospitality industry is out of line. Without API, monitoring numerous hospitality softwares would be threadful

It may be boggle to a few hoteliers once API pops up, due to the technical side of it. It’s surprising to know how often one uses API on a daily basis

In our previous blog on “The Future of Hospitality Management System is here yet”, we have briefly mentioned Open API as a vital element to transform your regular cloud-based PMS into the ultimate future-proof hospitality PMS. Understanding what is API, the dynamic fundamental principle of how it works and the challenges that lies within to empower hoteliers to utilize the benefits of API at most.

What is an API?

The Application Program Interface is a set of defined rules and protocols, written in programming code that allows communication and data transmission between application software/computer software. API enables software companies to open up their products to their internal development teams, external 3rd party developers, and business partners to further functionality deployment and diversify its features.

API is short for Application Program Interface. The power of API in the hospitality industry is understated

API basically is a middle man helps to convey data transfer for one software/apps/system to another

In the past, it was extremely difficult for systems to speak to others, as they were server-based. Pretty much like having a computer without the Internet, an isolated island per se. Thanks to the exponential growth of the Internet, the software community has leaned toward favoring the hyper-connected platform ecosystem model instead. API comes in as a glue to connect within the applications or systems to exchange data freely. Neither it is an application nor a web server, but rather sits between the two. Acting as an intermediate layer, API plays the role of a middle man to facilitate the data transferring securely without intervening in the core system.

How does it work?

  1. First, initiating API calls: made by the software application or computer system needs to retrieve certain information from others.
  2. Upon receiving a valid request: then the API makes a call to the external software or systems.
  3. External software or system sends a response: to the API for the corresponding information.
  4. API accomplished the requests: by transmitting the required information back to the initiated software or system.
Surprisingly to know how simple API works without having any technical knowledge. In just four easy steps, API can help to connect software and exchanging data

How API works can be described in just four steps. Understanding how API works would help you – hoteliers to appreciate it more

How many types of APIs are out there?

There are 3 types of APIs:

  1. Private APIs: is developed for internal uses only, within in-house development teams to integrate new applications or systems to its existing products.
  2. Partner APIs: stays accessible to the business partners to use with credential logins.
  3. Public APIs or also known as open APIs: has defined APIs endpoints, requests and response format. Available for 3rd parties to access via HTTP protocol.

APIs vs Hospitality

Now we understand what an API is, what does API have anything to do with hotels?

API makes all hospitality industry softwares can be able to integrate with each other, minimize cost while maximize its effectiveness

Is API necessary in the hospitality industry?

In the hospitality industry, hoteliers do not rely on a single software but rather a handful of them. According to HotelTechReport, an average number of software applications that hotels typically use is around 20. In order for those software to provide real-time updates, statistics or valuable insights, connectivity can be carried out via APIs. Or else you would presumably be contacting each software provider personally seeking their support in order to integrate them altogether! Trust me, you don’t want to walk this dreadful and expensive path.

Developers have been using 61.1% more APIs in the year 2020 compared to 2019. 71.1% of developers were also expecting this number to continue to rise in this year, 2021 (reported by RapidAPI survey). It proves the adoption of API is accelerating globally.

The challenges

The conveniences of APIs are viable for future technology product development. Especially for cloud computing software such as cloud-native hospitality management solutions, it’s crucial to have the API development in place and upfront to feasibly integrate with the existing 3rd parties components. This brings an unexpected financial burden to the software development budget.

As mentioned above, there are 3 types of API protocols and it isn’t required for hospitality software APIs to follow a certain standard. Not all APIs are made the same. In short, it’s hard to be compatible with all the 3rd party components. On the other hand, hospitality software vendors are not always willing to “open” APIs at no charge.

The bottom line is achieving a powerful API integration, connectivity for your software allows you to exploit its full capabilities and capacities. It makes the world of full innovations closer to the hospitality industry. There are plenty of methodologies on the appliance of API in hospitality software, solutions, and apps. We would like to save this for a later post as our blog is getting long. If you haven’t looked into this matter, leverage your technology provider or your team, start igniting and exploring the API’s world to maximize the potential value to your business. It’s time to hop on board.

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Tourism in the post Covid world: challenges & opportunities

The pandemic has been an unfortunate turn of events for the past two consecutive years, leaving the tourism and hospitality industries suffering its impact the hardest.

After two years since the pandemic hit, tourism and hospitality industries are taking baby steps toward the recovery road

The recovery of tourism and hospitality post COVID-19 is happening now

However, we are truly excited and curious awaiting to see how both industries resume their glory. If we were passively trying to cope with the coronavirus outbreak in the year 2020, and almost two-thirds of the year 2021, the government has been actively taking progressive actions, steadily picking up where we left and finally moving forward.

The global tourism landscape

According to a McKinsey.com report, the tourism expenditure had dropped sharply to at least 35 to 48 percent globally, especially the international tourism sector that accounted for approximately USD 1.3 trillion in export revenue. That was more than 11 times the loss of the 2009 economic crisis, crazy yet? Unintentionally, putting over 120 million tourism jobs at stake, as well as small and medium-sized tourism enterprises have been forced to close down.

Travelers’ habitual shift – the challenges deriving from your customers

Ticking off their bucket list

The travel demands have surged significantly in 2021, confirmed by 75% of travelers who took the research by Expedia Group. People have already envisioned their next vacation as soon as the restriction is lifted, creating their bucket-list destinations which they have never considered to do pre-pandemic, all due to year-long lockdowns.

Many have planned and made their all time favorite destinations list and can't wait for their next trip

Spending long term lockdown consecutively for the last 2 years has affected us all in travel behavior and habits

Take drivable leisure trips

Travelers are eager to be up on their feet again, has been noticed a drastic change in habits and behaviors. They prefer to travel within drivable locations, either by private or rental cars, which provides them a sense of safety. That is the result of sudden authorized restrictions applied whenever a new wave of outbreaks creeps in. It reassures that they can manage to get back home just in time before the lockdown takes place.

Prefer longer stay

The hybrid work has been adopted widely. This trend does not seem to settle down anytime soon and shall continue paving its path in the future. People take advantage of this flexible working to have longer stays holiday with their beloved ones to make up for the lost time.

Thorough research beforehand

If before, travelers searched for attractive landmarks, activities around town, nowadays their search priority shifted. A deeper search on the property, the facilities, the nearby neighborhoods, the amenities, and any related photos they can get their hands on is mandatory. Cancellations and cleanliness policies are also on top of the list. All to make sure they are in control and be ready for all the possibilities when things go sideways unnoticed.

Deep dive into property's information across the internet to make sure they find what they are looking for before complete their booking itinerary

No longer an impulsive holiday trip, guests are doing their background research before booking their travels

The open opportunities for hoteliers

Digitize your property

In other words, make your hotel known and reachable on the web. Promote your property across all available social media platforms and OTA channels. Focus on your targeting audiences. If you haven’t known who they are, it’s time to sit down and determine your potential customers.

Showcase your property profile with clear, accurate, and attractive photographs, which play a crucial role in the decision-making. The most concerning aspect any guest would always look for is room photos. This includes but is not limited to photo of the bed, bathroom, lobby & other facilities like swimming pools, conference rooms, fitness rooms, spas, shops, etc. They want to know what they will get, and they will expect no more no less.

Offer flexibility

The cancellations policy has become one of the concerns throughout the booking process. It is less likely for travelers to book non-refundable trips compared to pre-pandemic. Just risky in general. Giving guests a flexible cancellation policy would reinforce their purchase commitment. A case study of Eric Brown – an owner of a vacation home in Texas, USA on changing his strict 60 days cancellations to two weeks one had helped him to score 30+ bookings in a week.

Try adjust your hotel cancellations policy to be more on the flexible side. While assuring your guests best interest first, it also guarantee delivering a higher conversion rate

Customers treasure the flexibilities while travelling, whenever the uncertainty is involved, especially post COVID-19

Active in communication

Tech-savvy guests are keen on exchanging information with the property before their arrival. Be available to assist your guests as needed to eliminate their undesired features that your property might be able to remove in advance. You perhaps sneak in a few incentives such as discounted meals, upgraded room, free parking, or spa vouchers and will be amazed at their voluntary spending on other expensive amenities and services during their stays in return.

Provide customer-oriented technologies

Everyone stays connected online whether they are on vacation or not. Get your hotels equipped with the latest technology software to stay relevant in this modern day. Start with hospitality management solutions or what others would call a hotel PMS. It is the central system of your hotel operations. Trust us, a PMS helps everything work seamlessly, efficiently and costs much less. If you haven’t had one in mind yet, check out our cloud-based hospitality management solution CiHMS and choose the best fit package for your hotel.

Introducing our CiHMS - hotel management software which helps automate all your hotel operations seamlessly, effortlessly at a reasonable budget

CiHMS is a cloud-based hospitality management solution that you would ever need: powerful yet flexible at your fingertip

Other technologies to look into are touchless experiences from check-in/check-out to the keyless entry of room cards and public areas, robotic technology for room delivery, laundry services pick-up/ drop-off, voice and facial recognition, etc. There are numerous technologies out there on the market, and these can be quite an investment. Again, understand your customers, know your priorities and select the best match for your property while exceeding your customer expectations.

What about Vietnamese tourism?

Although the international tourism sector in Vietnam took only 17% of the market share, its spending expenditure captured more than half of the whole tourism spending itself. Up to 80% foreign travellers to Vietnam are from Asian countries like China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Many are looking forward to visiting Vietnam on their next vacation, whenever we are ready to open for international travels again. According to Vnexpress, 63.4% of Japanese are eyeing for Vietnam travel tours.

With such demands, the acknowledged challenge for Vietnam is to control the Covid infection cases. Then gradually lost its travel restrictions and eventually opened the borders by starting the vaccine passport program. To achieve such a scenario, the Vietnam government has been aggressively pushing the vaccine campaign at full speed.

The national vaccine campaign is now in full swing. We slowly welcome vaccine passport flights over the last couple weeks, marking the start of tourism recovery in Vietnam

The vaccine passport program has been widely applied in other countries across the globe. Vietnam is taking its first step toward this right direction, remarks the its first efforts in tourism recovery strategy

Many hotels are firm to evoke upcoming promotional travel tour packages as their marketing move. It can be tempting at first, but not sustainable in the long term and might come back to hurt you financially. International tourism might take time to resume its normal stage pre-pandemic. It is best to focus on the domestic tourism sector for now, which seems to shift toward high-end travel experiences after going through the long-term lockdown and not until they complete both vaccine doses.

The world post-COVID-19 fills with challenges and opportunities for the tourism and hospitality industries. There isn’t any clear sign of when the next outbreak will occur, and whether or not we will be able to control it. It is best to take small steps with caution, don’t you think?

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The Future of Hospitality Management System is here yet

PMS (Property Management System) has been around for more than four decades and is known for its capabilities in managing hotel operations seamlessly. Some may call it the center nervous system of hotel operations, indeed it certainly is. It has continually evolved to accommodate hoteliers’ constantly growing demands over time. If on-premises were the only way out for hotel PMS in the past, cloud-based hospitality management software has recently taken over the number one spot. This leaves all the hospitality geeks wondering, what is next from here.

The possibilities of change in your hospitality management system are numerous. As the technology constantly develops, our system has left no choice but to adapt and evolve surrounding the technology evolution

We have watched the hospitality management system mature over time. Cloud-computing technology has taken the PMS over by a storm, and welcome the hospitality industry to enter its new era.

The current Hospitality Property Management System situation

Peeking behind the hotel IT system, no hoteliers relies on only one single software provider, but rather a few depending on the complexity of their hotel operations procedure. Out of the technology products stack, you can easily get Property Management Software (PMS), a Central Reservation System (CRS), Revenue Management System (RMS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), F&B, POS, and the list goes on. Imagine having all of those installed and getting each integrated. Sounds effortless, until you’re on it. Each software provider might need to implement a few custom modifications to successful integration, a bit tweak here and there to fit the hotel’s unique business model. Obviously, it is not done on a free term and clearly would cost you a heap of money in the process.

Over time, each of the software in the stack gradually gets heavier, more complex, and cumbersome to update, troublesome to further customize its features. At a certain point, the software providers would intentionally stop supporting your requests, and neglect your concerns as the fix would not apply to the majority in the industry. This scenario has happened across the hospitality industry. Many have thought an “all-in-one” system would resolve this issue, however, not all are. The system structure is limited or reluctant to remove restrictions when it comes to 3rd parties software integration capabilities other than theirs.

The future of Hospitality Property Management System

It leads the hospitality industry toward the concept of a cloud-based open platform PMS, where its lean core remains the backbone of the system. Other software/systems can seek integration via two-way open API connections (Application Programming Interface), which allows them to communicate with minimal efforts at greater stability. At this stage, your PMS acts as a hub, other hotel applications would just simply plug in and play accordingly.

The future of all hotel property management system seems far-fetch but is already here within our reach without we acknowledge it

A cloud-based open platform PMS with built-in Open API is the foundation for 3rd parties hospitality software to simply connected to, ready to work without the need of any professional help

Why has such a great PMS model not been done yet?

The future of PMS is already here, in the form of a cloud-based system with open API. Many PMS software providers’ mindsets have shifted monumentally. The adoption of cloud computing technology across the hospitality industry is impressive. However, it still remains a small portion of the market. How come? The building process is outrageously complicated, exhausted, and pricey. In order to walk this path, the PMS provider has to “plan” every single step ahead of time with a clearly defined vision, detailed roadmap, and practical product life cycle strategy.

While open API encourages outside developers other than your own to innovatively develop valuable applications for your core software, it can be a burden when it comes to standardizing open API. This leads to much broader issues and concerns that we might not be able to cover all in this blog. If you’re interested in such matters, leave us a comment down below, we shall get back to it in future blogs.

We have been there, done that! The CiHMS team has strived relentlessly to become who we are today. Building a cloud-based open platform hospitality management solution has always been the fundamental foundation of CiHMS original product’s vision. The snippet of our journey was shared in CiHMS previous blog at: Build or Buy your own PMS.

Not all hotels are the same. The modern PMS will allow hotels to select the appropriate features that suit them the best in order to create their unique version of the guest journey. We believe cloud-based PMS shall remain the heart of your hotel operations. Open API facilitates connectivities to endless 3rd party applications, solutions out there in the marketplace, which is established by the PMS providers. The world is opting to be very different 5 years down the road. If you are still on an on-premises PMS system, it is time to consider the switch. Read our blog post here for in-depth insights on the pros and cons of on-premises versus cloud-based hospitality management systems.

The journey in finding a perfect hospitality management system is a tough one. We - hoteliers have to walk this path. If you fail, just pick yourself up and start over

Transitioning into a new hospitality system is a hardship, especially if you are not tech-savvy. Eventually, things come around, so be wise and act fast or else you’ll stay behind the revolution

Hospitality is a customer-centric industry. As technology evolves, our guests’ expectations continue to change. Decision on whether or not to transition into the new platform, adopt the latest trend seems rather daunting and obscure. Focus on your hotel’s underlying principles, be flexible, stay relevant, and ultimately hoteliers will pursue the innovative software that represents your business value, image, and worth.

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Revenue management strategy for hospitality post COVID-19

Instead of anticipating when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides or waiting for the hospitality and travel industry to resume, business leaders have already been working on their post COVID-19 recovery plan through the revenue management approach, to ensure the cash-flow “in”. Putting themselves in an active position, together with the national vaccination campaign for the last few months to accelerate the domestic economic recovery.

On the road of recovery for the hospitality industry, revenue management is vital for hoteliers post COVID-19

Revenue management strategy in the hospitality industry have always been under estimated its effectiveness. However, to a smooth sailing for hospitality recovery post COVID-19, having a strong revenue management strategy is imperative

Many often disregard the importance of revenue management in hospitality without the acknowledgement of its core value and financial benefits. It has always been the least understood part of the industry, and not always is appreciated by the management team nor the hotel owners. Having a proper revenue management strategy helps hotels to issue the best selling room rate, attract their ideal guests, allocate their manpower in high season, and over-crowded staff in low season. There are far more advantages that revenue management brings along and mentioning them all here might drag the blog too far from today’s blog. We would save it to a later blog, drop a comment down below to let us know if you are looking forward to it.

Speaking of revenue management, people would generally navigate toward demands and supply concepts. Through the unstable travel pattern of 2020 and 2021 pandemic, it has become extremely irrelevant to determine pricing strategy through historical events. If in the past, hotels were depending on system and software tools to generate an optimal room rate, this no longer works. Alternatively, let’s take in consideration the last few years as the new foundation paces to alter and examine as the pandemic implications go on. The goal of revenue management is selling the right product with the right price to the right customer at the right time. It comes down to: What is your optimal rate, Who is your customer and When.

Determine the Optimal Rate

COVID-19 has swept all the travel and hospitality industries off its feet by surprise. Many hoteliers found themselves lost as the pandemic progressed aggressively. The coronavirus outbreak disturbed the traditional algorithm to determine the best possible optimal rate, at which would maximize profit for the business. In lieu of such, putting the 2020 customer purchasing behavior into perspective would result in negative output down the line.

Determine your hotel optimal rate post COVID-19 is never an easy job. Review rate from your competitors, adjust them as you go

Each hotel has its own pricing strategy, but which rate is the best rate?

The one thing hoteliers had to learn throughout this global crisis was to be flexible at all cost. Stop counting on automating tools and systems, start doing your own critical analysis on the short-term demand obtained through recent market research reports, review and compare with your competitors’ room rates. Manually adjust your pricing strategy along the way, while submitting the learning process to your automation tool, which helps the system to update the current trend and generate a more accurate rate later on.

The right customers

Hoteliers frequently pay attention to attracting as many customers there are on the market as possible, making sure to obtain maximum room occupancy. Not all business is good business. Focusing on nurturing your existing customers, as it costs a lot more to acquire new ones than retaining them. Back to square one, identify who your customers are. Build your campaign, bundles and promotions targeting them specifically. Keep your message consistent on all channels, throughout all your customer purchasing journey, track their behaviors and conversion ratio associated with or without promotions. Hotels unintentionally established a correlated database for themselves that had eventually evolved from the traditional demographic segmentation to behavioral segmentation.

When to offer discount

Perhaps, it might get tricky when it comes to discounts. How do you know how much discount is enough? Leveraging the psychology of discounts to make more money, as it makes your customers feel a sense of urgency, stops them from shopping around. In the meantime, recurring discounts might backfire and become expected from your brand. We suggest looking at A/B testing on different types of promotions for the same customer segmentation. This helps to better analyze your product’s features, which in hospitality terminology can be equivalent to length of stays, advanced booking period, complimentary meals, etc.

An awfully practice in all industries is giving out discounts. When to discount, with whom is the core issue

Discounts can trigger customer happiness while backflash and hurt your business. People start expecting promotion from your brand

Also take advantage of pre-arrival email to up-sell, offer either free or discount rate of complimentary upgrade package to your existing customers. The incentive only available after the initial purchase goes through, allows customers a time to reconsider whereas pricing has become less sensitive compared to during the time of booking. Discounts are arguably the essential component on the road of recovery. However, exercise this wisely and precisely and avoid undisciplined discounting if you must. Remember a full hotel does not guarantee profitable business.

Desperation is not a strategy. Neither is hope! In a nutshell, there is definitely no snap-back to the normal stage prior COVID-19. The post COVID-19 scenario is still ambiguous, unknown and uncertain. Stop panicking and overreact during a crisis; be flexible, be spontaneous, and make unemotional decisions instead. Have an agile revenue management strategy in place and get ready to rock it out when this turbulence of coronavirus is at halt. Reminding yourself to always measure, analyze,monitor and keep track of your strategy to adjust and modify accordingly. It is the only way to secure a successful recovery.

We also have an upcoming webinar Hospitality Revenue Management coming up shortly this month. Register to join us now. There is a limited offer for this webinar. More information can be found @Live webinar: Hospitality Revenue Management – Recovery Strategy post Covid-19. We see you then!

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Smart Hotel Technology trends

In our previous blog, we have walked through the concept of a Smart Hotel model, in today’s one, we will continue to talk about the technologies behind it. Many hotels seek shortcuts and easy ways out by arguing every guests’ request can be solved just with a single phone call. Ideally, that would be right, however, with hundreds of requests per hour, prioritizing and assigning these manually seems like a nightmare to any front desk.

The smart hotel technology has been the controversial topic not just within the hospitality industry in self, but has attracted endless arguments regarding the topic

Hotels are trying to catch up with the new technology by transforming their ordinary hotel into smart hotels during the pandemic

Before COVID-19, hotels focused on building brand loyalty, customer satisfaction through different branding and marketing strategies. Things change, hotels need to adjust their strategy and operations to survive and move forward. Sanitary standards, contactless, and definitely health-related elements are concerned. That is when the Internet of things (IoT) technology actually comes into play. Here are the few things hotels can start putting into consideration to transform your ordinary hotel into a smart one.

The cloud technology

You might have heard of it, not once, but multiple times, technically everywhere on the net. It’s beneficial not for the hospitality industry alone but applied for all sectors. Cloud computing allows customers and hotels to simultaneously connect and communicate through applications conveniently on mobile devices. It also reduces costs overall for hotels by relieving them from heavy IT investment on server infrastructure, database storage, and full-time IT staff to maintain, monitor and update. The advantages of cloud computing can go on, it’s why we have chosen to build our CiHMS Hospitality Management Solution on it, details on all the reasons, can be found in our previous blog post.

A robust hospitality management solution

A hotel management software serves as the heart and soul of a hotel, just as our human brain transmits orders for our body to act upon. It keeps the hotels’ operations running seamlessly and efficiently. Hotel management software helps to automate the manual work from the front desk to housekeeping, saves manpower, and offers scalability as your hotel grows. The system enables hotels to record guests’ profiles, centralizes room reservations management, executes hotel daily tasks effectively, and many more. There is various hotel management software out there for hotels to choose from, however, looking for an ultimate software is not an easy quest.

Hotel management software is a heart of your hotel. CiHMS is a robust hospitality management solution that fits all type of hotel models, and grows as your hotel expands

CiHMS is a powerful yet flexible hospitality management solution that aims to helps all hotel models successfully manage their daily operations seamlessly

We, CiHMS are also a proud developer of an All-in-one solution cloud-computing hospitality management solution. Our CiHMS software offers hotels jump-start their own digital transformation journey to evolve as the technology is constantly revolutionizing. To discover the CiHMS journey, read them here.

Overall contactless experience

Automatic check-in / check-out with QR code

Guests post COVID-19 would likely expect a contactless experience as soon as they arrive. Self-service kiosks are questionable for sanitary standards. Check-in and check-out via their own mobile devices seem to be the way of doing it. Most hotels allow guests to automatically check in themselves by scanning a QR code, available at the reception counter. The guests would have to fill out the necessary information, take proper required personal identification photos to submit, and receive their electronic key rooms right on their phone.

Convenience yet? This mobile key grants access to hotel elevators, their hotel rooms, banquet, and other facilities included in their room package. Hotels can be able to monitor and know exactly where their guests are, what they are doing, and the activities they enjoy the most in real-time, again thanks to your cloud-based hotel management system. When your guests are ready for check-out, they can proceed with the similar procedure they went through while check-in, by scanning a specific QR code provided at the check-out counter. Cashless payments proceed on guests’ mobile phones for maximum security purposes, no physical contact is involved during the process.

Facial recognition technology

If your hotel wants to step up a bit further, facial recognition technology is another option to look at. The technology had been developed and used daily, especially for smartphone users. Undeniably, it is extremely convenient for guests, giving them extraordinary hotel experience throughout. Vinpearl has applied this technology to allow check-in/ check-out, entry to amusement parks, safari, and all of their restaurant facilities just with facial recognition devices.

Apart from cashless payment technology, facial recognition is a spectacular perk, allows guests to enter in different hotel facilities with just their face identity

Facial recognition technology might be familiar with Vinpearl visitors. It allows guests to quickly enter hotel facilities just with a facial recognition device

Human-less concierge counter

The availability of human-less concierge to assist your guests 24/7 on just about everything they need the answers to. Powered by AI, installed voice recognition software, together with an extensive database constructed by past questions from guests, a robot can serve your customers just as your ordinary concierge counter: from book taxi, switch room, reserve room, make a restaurant reservation, request in-room services, and so on.

Robotics

Apart from the concierge, robotics can be used for front-desk activities: greet, meet, check-in, and check-out guests accordingly. They can also help with luggage delivery to guest rooms, operate the elevators, and take guests on hotel tours easily. For hotel restaurants, robots often are in charge of serving customers to their tables, chopping and dicing stations behind the kitchen, bartenders serving at hotel bars, and delivering foods & drinks to guests’ rooms upon requests.

Many hotels have taken advantage of robots to tasks that are routines and tedious. Making sure their human resources working at full capacities in which their expertise is at

Robots have been used in many hotel procedures that do not need the human touch. It eliminates routine tasks, allocates human resources effectively, and enables guest privacy as requests

In housekeeping, robots would do all the vacuuming in lobbies areas, lounges, and other public common areas. Transporting laundry items to or from guests’ rooms, deliver amenities such as towels, sanitary equipment for guests without having any unnecessary human interaction. Guests can enjoy maximum personal privacies and feel absolutely comfortable at the same time.

Smart rooms

With IoT technology, all room’s facilities, such as lighting, AC and heat, curtains, TV, can be controlled through your smartphone or via an AI built-in device similar to Alexa for hospitality. It lets the guests freely discover tourist information, getting to know the hotels within their personal space. During your guest’s stay, their preferred temperature for AC/heat, lighting levels, curtains habit, TV channels will be recorded on their profile to use for future visits. For all the perks the voice recognition technology has to offer, hotels are embracing it truly.

mart room enables guests to touch on the technological products while enjoying their stay with conveniences and all the

Not just ordinary hotel rooms, hotel owners take them up a scale. Integrated with voice recognition devices and AI technology, guests can order, adjust lighting, AC, TV, and more

Big data

Hotels welcome thousands of guests per month. The database regarding their stays is huge and considered as big data, which hotel owners can base upon to make decisions on their marketings or hotel strategic plan. These data can also be used for revenue management, giving our personalized offers to targeted groups, and to have an impact on guest experiences. Data means nothing unless they are analyzed and interpreted.

The possibilities of technologies are endless and not limited to the ones mentioned above. Guests are no longer coming to hotels just for sleep. They pursue comfort, foster personalized experience, adore the technology to satisfy their curiosity, or merely just to savor memories. The smart hotels model provides all the solutions to enhance your guest experience, making sure to meet your guest expectations, while being sustainable in the long run. Not all of these features mentioned in this blog are feasible or practical to your hotels at the moment, but rather depending on the current hotels’ infrastructure as well as its financial status.

Hoteliers who are capable of acting promptly in time to minimize their operational costs and rationalize the business processes efficiently are the ones who focus on building their scalable technology infrastructures and integrated with an open API earlier on. These all aim to achieve the best connectivity throughout the hotel property, ensure all high-tech applications and components are working properly, transmitting real-time data and performance. This depicts the future of the hospitality industry and how hotel owners should adapt gradually to staying relevant. If there is a quote that represents the smart hotels model, in short, we thought we should share, Shep Hyken’s quote is pretty close to it:

Whenever you see the opportunity to create a WOW! moment,

act on it.

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The future of the hospitality industry: Smart Hotels

Hospitality is a customer-centric industry. Focusing on the guest experience has always been the top priority for hoteliers. The happier your customers are, the more they are willing to spend, and most likely return to come back. Innovation and the current emerging technologies offer hotels to seize the opportunity to leverage their existing strength and weakness to adapt and enhance their service delivery. Recently, a hotel model concept that has been actively discussed at hospitality networking events and seminars is Smart Hotel.

Hospitality industry is getting interested in the smart hotel model as the technology continuously evolves

Smart hotel model has been mentioned in hospitality seminars, events and panel discussions recently

Not many hotels find themselves willing to transition into one, simply due to the budget and time-consuming. The acceptance phase can also be tricky, resulting from the major shift in culture change and employee etiquette. In return, smart hotel technology guarantees customers satisfaction, guest experience, setting your hotel value apart from the competitors and ultimately increasing profitability. Although the term “smart hotel” familiarizes itself with the hospitality industry, only the minority understand it inside and out. Are smart hotels really the future of hotels? How is the progress of transforming into a smart hotel model? Would the benefits be worth thinking about?

What is a Smart Hotel?

A hotel that utilizes technology into their organization operation, enables it to transform the customer journey from pre-stay to arrival, in-hotel, departure to their post-stay, then repeat. Collecting the customer data throughout the journey to analyze, improve, develop and perfect each journey segment mentioned above. There are hotels already successfully transitioned into smart hotels, making revolutions in their daily hotel operations, and still yearning for more. What is exactly the smart hotel experience in each segment?

Smart Hotel Experience

A normal customer journey generally would be divided into 4 basic the following segments: Pre-stay, Hotel stay, Departure, and Post-stay.

Pre-stay

The Search

First off, customers would start out the Search phase. They are looking for accommodation for their planned destination based on various factors including but not limited to location, pricing, referrals, and their past experiences. Smart Hotels advertising or posts would have appeared once customers start their search for the hotel destination inspiration. There would be promotion packages and deals personalized to the customers’ criteria, assure to capture the lead once you detect it.

Detecting your customers' criteria as soon as the beginning of the search phase would resulting in a faster booking for your hotels

Corresponding hotel ads with customers’ destination search offering guests’ criteria on stays, locations, and hotel facilities would close the deal right away

Customers can contact your hotel through the chatbot available on your website, get instant assistance on questions and queries related to bookings or accommodation features. Any unanswered questions can be followed up through emails or direct phone calls, making sure customers do not need to go through multiple sites to get the answers they are looking for. In addition, your customers intentionally ask for your hotel room’s photos and details on the room’s layout. Nothing would explain better than a VR experience of the hotel tour from room to the common area, restaurant to fitness facilities, swimming pool to the spa and lounge. This would prompt your customers to quickly decide and close off on the best-suggested deal from your hotel offers.

The Purchase and before the arrival

Once the guests are ready to make their bookings/reservations, hotels can offer guests to choose the room’s attributes such as views, bed and pillow type, corner or connecting room, non-smoking/smoking room, etc. Guests can choose to log in by using their social accounts, which allows the system to load all their information and auto-fill as required without entering these fields by themselves. The smart hotel experience would enable guests to take their picture at the moment of booking and store this identification photo to use for check-in later on. Payment by cards is easily done by taking a snapshot of the credit/debit cards. The purchase stage is closed by your booking system automatically sending out a verification email once the payment is completed.

Before your guest arrives, a reminder email about the trip should be sent out a few days before the events. With the help of social media, hotels can customize personalized accommodation to fit guests’ stay and upsell packages as needed.

Hotel Stay

Smart Hotels enables customers to check-in via the mobile app. All the customers’ private information is processed on their mobile devices and highly secured. Guests can check in at the self-service kiosk station available at the hotel property. By scanning guests’ identification such as passport / national ID/driver licenses. Thanks to the OCR technology, the system will automatically check in the guests, and take their pictures at the kiosk station. Depending on the hotel’s, the physical room key card or the electronic key card would be sent to guests’ mobiles. Yes, contactless check-in is possible! Your hotels might not need a physical front desk.

As you apply the smart hotel model, physical front desk might not be necessary for your hotel. Facial recognition technology would let guests to check-in as soon as they approach the hotel lobby

Check-in counter might not be matter once rolling out smart hotel model project. Self-service give guests the freedom to check-in at their own pace

Some hotels have upgraded their game by letting the guests check-in using facial recognition via their hotel camera. Once the guests walk in, facial recognition features are built-in with hotel camera matches with the guests’ identification picture given during their booking process, check-in the guests immediately, and send the check-in completion confirmation to their email. The elevator would give direct access to guests’ designated floor and let them into their room with facial recognition devices or programmed e-cards. All room features such as curtains, lighting, TV, phone, AC temperature can be adjusted via mobile/tablet app or the voiced demand.

Hotels are trying to make their guests feel comfortable and truly relaxing like they are entering their own space. Access to hotel apps to request room services, laundry, and housekeeping, everything is within their fingertips. Robots are in use delivering/collecting foods and collecting/returning to the guests’ room. All appointments regarding restaurants (including buffet status, restaurant busy status), fitness center (full or empty), and spa would be available on the hotel apps at the guest’s convenience. Hotels’ partners such as tour companies, nearby attractions suggest guests with promotional packages through the hotel apps. Everything is taken care of for your guests to enjoy their stays even if it’s in-hotel or outside-of-the-hotel.

Departure

It’s finally time for your guests to leave. Queuing in line to check-out is no longer a thing. Everything is done through the hotel apps. Even minibar assumptions can be billed with IoT technology enabling electronic bills sending to guests once they pick up items from the bar. All other services would be billed and added to the check-out invoice. Cashless payment, which we mentioned in our previous blog, can be processed with guests’ mobile devices. The guests walk out with their luggage and the check-out is completed.

Post-stay

Upon their departure, emails should already be sent to customers’ inboxes to share their feedback regarding the stays and ask for their review on our hotel website in return for rewarding points for them to save up in exchange for added value services or room features upgrade for their next stage. Following up emails in a few months offer promotional and value packages for their upcoming stays.

Your guests should be received on-time following-up emails to share their feedback and review on appropriate platform, giving hoteliers the chance to improve their hospitality services

The conveniences of technology would impress your guests making their stay extraordinary. Quick follow-up upon their check-out to collect positive reviews and feedback should also be on hotels’ to-do-list

The above are merely the smart hotel experiences following along the customers’ journey. There are many other revolving smart hotels if we follow the hotel operation path: Front office, F&B, Housekeeping, Sales & Marketing, etc. To dive deep into these areas, it would take us another blog dedicated to these only. If you are interested, drop us a comment down below, we shall get that coming. The smart hotels model has been applied worldwide; surprisingly, it is quickly adopted in mainland China and attracts the young generations who come to visit on their weekend break pretty often.

What to start with transitioning into a Smart Hotel?

The most important factor for hotels in considering transitioning into smart hotel models is to find their ideal hotel management system which helps them to achieve their goal as they grow. We would not boast about our PMS if it is not what we believe is your first kick-start in this journey. Our hospitality management solution does not aim to be the ordinary PMS, we strive for digital transformation in everything we do.

Is it worth it?

Customers are your indicator. It’s the future we get you ready for, not just catching the current trend but also setting the industry. Transition into a smart hotel model is only worth it if you can follow through, and not doing it halfway. Otherwise, it only costs you more than the benefits it brings.

Looking for a private consultation on our PMS and discover what your hotel can become? Please do not hesitate to contact our support team! Or you can read all the details on our PMS at the blog section and our Facebook page for the latest news and events.

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Can your hospitality management solution handle a single booking with 82,000 transactions?

CiHMS is a fairly new hospitality management solution in the market. We recently launched our software to the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding the hardships and challenges a new PMS might have faced, we acknowledged the lack of practical operations on multiple business models’ practices at a much larger scale. Challenges come hand in hand with opportunities. In the midst of the pandemic, we had received an event to prove that our system is capable of big-scale at any time: 192 reservations – over 82,000 transactions, were routed into a single guest profile. Our clients were amazed at how massive the routing function can handle without missing any details.

Routing functionality comes in handy amidst this pandemic for our customers in welcoming a group of 200 quarantined people to their properties

With the help of the routing functionality, our customers welcomed a group of 200 people to quarantine during the pandemic at ease without a hassle system-wide

What does it mean by Routing Transaction?

In hotel operation, Routing is an action of forwarding charges/transactions in a set of reservations to a room, guest folio. This functionality allows hoteliers to manage all the transactions for the group in one spot. This tactic is quite common. For example, a company books several rooms for a corporate meeting and wants all room charges routed to one specific room for corporate payment. In this case, the routing for each room reservation sends rate and tax charges to that specified room.

A clear process on how routing transaction works

All transactions of the group reservations will be forwarded to a specific room with the routing functionality

Routing options can be varied depending on the characteristics of the group. Typically, reservations can be routed by room charge only; room and laundry; room and breakfasts; or all charges. For our CiHMS PMS, we can customize options for routing depending on hotels’ operational needs. Giving flexibility in group reservations can help prevent unexpecting requests that hoteliers might not be able to see all through. Take last year as an example, we allowed routing rooms by TA (travel agents), which has been widely used when traveling was in season. It had sped up the check-in and check-out procedure for guests.

Routing in action

During the pandemic, the Vietnam government has called out the local hotels and resorts for help in providing accommodation for quarantined people. Some have voluntarily become “quarantine-friendly” hotels to contribute their share back to the community. Recently, one of our clients has joined this positive campaign and welcomed large groups of guests for long-term stays: 192 reservations for a quarantine period of 21 days.

  • Serving 3 meals per day and snacks upon requests
  • Room services and laundry were available
  • Following the strict sanitary standards and “Safe to stay” policy to ensure the guests and employees working in a safe environment.
  • All transactions regarding the group activities were forwarded to 1 single guest profile.

This “quarantine” experience has proved that CiHMS system capabilities can unleash PMS performance during a crisis, and our hospitality management solution is reliable.

Routing transactions can be easily done from our CiHMS hospitality management solution right at the front desk

Routing procedure is carrying out by front office staff for our guests, using CiHMS hospitality management solution

The 21 days went by in a click. Thanks to the routing functionality, our customer had successfully issued the VAT tax invoice with detail of 82,000+ transactions for the guests at the check-out tables.

We were blown away knowing such a massive number of transactions had routed for a reservation on the event. An OTA might pass over an average of 200-300 bookings for a group booking at the max. The group duration might fluctuate anywhere from 3 to 12 days top. Generally, this probably generates up to 10,000 transactions at best. If this pandemic did not happen, we would never know how many transactions a routing function can process. Again, our very high standard requirements in software development seemed to pay off.

At CiHMS, we strongly believe it’s not just another hospitality management solution, but also an opportunity for hotels to practice outside of their comfort zone, ready to adapt and transform with the constantly evolving world.

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[Feature Update] Direct OTA channels connected with CiHMS Distribution Channel Manager

The Distribution Channel Manager (DCM) module developed within our hospitality management solution CiHMS aims to manage all your bookings from all OTAs in one platform. Is it necessary? Absolutely! With the help of a DCM, hotels can easily approach targeted customers through direct as well as indirect OTA channels. According to a recent study from D-Edge.com, OTAs have brought over 63% of the market share in the Europe region, and 61% in the Asia Pacific. Although the COVID-19 pandemic did slow down the travelers, the market share of OTA remains high.

Hotels often sign contracts with an OTA to be listed on the OTA’s website without any upfront fees. The OTAs only make money, which is calculated as a percentage of the room’s total value, once the reservation is successfully booked and paid. OTA is gaining its popularity with its huge marketing expenditure to attract customers around the world from TVCs to online advertising through social media and sponsorships, even spending a huge budget on billboards, various marketing channels to promote their brands. In general, it’s a low-risk investment to get connected with an OTAs channel, especially if your hotel has a limited budget for marketing.

CiHMS-DCM is a Channel Manager of our hotel management system targets to manage all bookings at once

Channel Manager in CiHMS – your ultimate hospitality management solution will centralize all your bookings on one platform, allows you to manage, monitor, and modify easier, quicker while stay synchronize in real-team across all distribution channels

Each OTA is targeting different types of audiences. Understand who your potential customers are to match it with the OTA profile and get the brand visibility your hotel is seeking for. There are not one or two OTAs, but a couple of hundreds per se. Imagine logging in all of these OTAs to monitor, manage and update your hotel rooms manually. It is not only a boring job but also tedious.

Thanks to the CiHMS Distribution Channel Manager, you are getting connected with all the available OTAs either directly independently, or indirectly via distribution points. At the moment, our CiHMS is connecting directly to the 5 leading OTAs worldwide: Traveloka, Agoda, Expedia, Tripadvisor, and the latest: Trip.com. Booking.com is coming up next, and more to come.

“Here at CiHMS, we respect each and every client equally. CiHMS allows hotels to approach their valued guests responsively in their best interest,” said Mr. Hoang Nguyen – CEO of CiHMS. “Direct connection with leading OTAs globally helps hotels to scale and grow their guests’ list, simplify and improve their operational practices.”

CiHMS Distribution Channel Manager also enables direct OTA connections through public API technology. With this methodology, hotels can instantly get connected with their favorite OTAs directly with a single click. CiHMS is quite new to the market, but speeding up quite fast and thriving to exceed our customers’ satisfaction.

Have you checked out our DCM yet? Contact us for a free demo of CiHMS-DCM. To go in-depth on what a Distribution Channel Manager is and why hoteliers need one, check out the details in our previous article. Contact us for a free demo of CiHMS-DCM.

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CiHMS is now partnered up with Google

Looking for information? Searching for your next holiday ideal destination? Typically, we would go on to “Google” it. This has become the conventional habit that all the generations unintentionally established over the last decade. That is the result of how fast and convenient Google results come back with your initial keyword input. Undeniably, Google has gradually defined itself as a “free, easy and accessible” encyclopedia across the globe. 

Recently, Google Travel products have launched the Free Booking Links last March 9, 2021, to allow hotels to receive traffic and bookings via Google hotel search. This feature brings such huge opportunities to hoteliers approaching internationally and domestically. Understanding the importance and competitive advantages hoteliers may gain with Free Booking Links, the CiHMS Hospitality Management Solution – has partnered up with Google to provide a seamless connection with Google for our customers. How does this work actually and what are the benefits you – hoteliers get from this partnership? 

Free Booking Links is the new feature released by Google in March 2021 strives to support hotels to appear on google search engine easier, attract direct sales and user engagement at zero cost

The free Booking link feature was recently announced by Google. The new feature is going to change the online distribution in the hospitality industry worldwide

Google Free Booking Links

There are millions of travelers constantly searching for hotels and destinations on Google daily. To show up on Google search engine, hoteliers have to do SEO effectively, practicing, and monitoring it. Some even have to dedicate a large portion of their marketing budget to Google Ads, making sure to maintain their ranking and position on the Google search result pages. The broader your target audience is and depending on how high you want your search result position to be, the budget can fluctuate anywhere from 4 to 6 figures easily. 

Google is constantly observing and evaluating their user experience along with their interactions within Google’s travel products to best enhance it. Free Booking Links feature was first experimented with in September 2020 aiming to help hoteliers gain direct traffic and reservations through the Google search engine at a free cost. 6 months later, this new product feature was officially introduced globally and has contributed to the change in customer searching habits especially in hotel searches. You might have already experienced this feature without acknowledging it. Free Booking Links appear among the mixture of ads (which are marked with “Ads” to distinguish) whenever you search for hotels. 

Free Booking Links is not Google Ads. It appears right under the Ads, and placements cannot be bought likes Ads

Free Booking Links appears in Google hotel search in the results search page right after Ads. Allowing the hoteliers to approach direct customers

Free Booking Links allows hoteliers to have their hotels listed with their best room rates available for travelers to choose from. There is no payment or user engagement from Google collected for those links. Free Booking Links may look like Ads but they are not. The placements are ranked based on a variety of signals, including but not limited to: best matched available room rate for a custom search query, up-to-date feed price, price accuracy score, and matching price between your feed price and the landing page. While you can bid to rank higher in the Ads section, better placement cannot be bought for free booking links. 

The following information would normally be shown in the Free Booking Links section:

  1. Hotel’s properties: those are the hotel’s name, address, phone number, websites, and directions to the hotel. There would also be reviews, your hotel’s pictures, average customer rating score, hotel descriptions, and highlights. 
  2. The “Book a room” button drops down all your hotel room listings.
  3. The booking module with top-ranked booking links and customers can easily adjust check-in, check-out date, number of guests to find the best rate available. 
  4. Filtering option to view by nightly rate, nightly total or stay total.
  5. Booking link ads which have to be paid for and labeled with an “Ads” badge. These ads are from OTAs, travel agencies, or even your own hotel running Google Ads for the selected hotel shown in this Free Booking Links section.
  6. Free booking links under “All Options” and can be configured by hoteliers.

Here are all the elements consisted in Free Booking Links section

The benefits of Free Booking Links

The advantages that come along with Free Booking Links are the followings but not limited to:

  • Free traffic: Yup, to show up on Google Free Booking links means you are visible to the world. These are natural traffic sources and are potential leads that are 100% Free. 
  • In control of your guest experience and data: Google doesn’t charge anything on clicked links and the engagement for Free Booking Links. You can control your guest experience from the Free Booking Links section to your landing pages. Google allows you to track and enable you to generate Reports for your Free Booking Links to further configure to take advantage of it to the max. 
  • Maximize your revenue with real-time rates and room availability: This benefit is for our CiHMS customers who own our hospitality management solution. CiHMS will automatically update your rate and availability directly with Google without you doing any further work in real-time. While others have to regularly update their feed price and send it to Google, we would do all that work for you. Fast, easy, and effective.

How to be eligible for Free Booking Links

You have to have an active Hotel Center account. If you don’t, you can register for one here. However, the process may take longer and there is no confirmation regarding the detailed timeline for this process yet. 

The other fastest way is through a Google integration partner, which is us – your CiHMS hospitality management solution. We are proud and honored to get contacted and become an approved Google integration partner. Make sure you have already set up your Google My Business profile for the property you wish to be listed on Free Booking Links. Please keep in mind that your hotel information on Google My Business should match with the hotel properties you have registered with us, otherwise problems may occur. 

If you are a CiHMS family member and not sure whether or not your hotel appears on the Free Booking Links section, contact us for more details. Any changes and modifications may take up to several weeks to apply on Free Booking Links, please be patient. 

The Free Booking Links feature has definitely brought out numerous potential to hoteliers at no charge, although this pandemic has not ended. COVID 19 shall pass and this tough period soon ends, it is exciting looking forward to the resume of the travel industry. Take this time to improve your hotel portfolio, physically and virtually, including its infrastructure as well as its online presentation. Make your property “within reach”, searchable, and in its best practice. Free Booking Links is worth trying at zero cost and would allow you to accomplish all the above. Why haven’t you started it yet? Have you tried out this feature yet? If so, share your thoughts in the comment section down below.

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The launch event of CiHMS – hospitality management system: Hello world!

On April 9th, 2021, the Grand Official launch event for CiHMS – an All-in-one hospitality management solution was held at the Gem Center, Ho Chi Minh City. Thanks to all the guests that came to join us on this special milestone. We were extremely honored to welcome our dear customers, exciting investors, keen tech-savvy professionals, as well as enthusiastic experts in the field. Though the software has already been deployed for a number of customers since the beginning of this year, we believe CiHMS deserves the spotlight at the launch event itself. It is also a celebration and our appreciation party for the team, who have been striving harder every day in the last two years to get CiHMS to where it is today.

Hotel management system - CiHMS was officially launched last April 9th, 2021 with numerous of guests, customers, investors as well as tech experts

The launch event for CiHMS – hospitality management solution on last April 9th, 2021

CiHMS is an all-in-one hospitality management solution that can transform your hotel operations from the inside out. It helps to automate daily operational activities from the front desk to the back office. Room rate, allotments, and availability now can easily update on one platform and synchronize in real-time with hundreds of booking channels, across multiple properties. CiHMS also provides a centralized reservation system that allows you to quickly get an overview of your business with detailed reports in just a single click.

On top of that, our hotel management system is cloud-based software, meaning you can get access to the software from anywhere at any time with your mobile devices or a computer connected to the Internet. Cloud-based computing technology also frees your financial burden on IT infrastructure investment with zero cost on building your own server or IT staff to monitor and maintain it. No longer worry about regular maintenance, software update, and system upgrade. Leave them all to us!

Fully integrated with other 3rd party components, expandable to your business size as it grows, CiHMS is truly a flexible and scalable hotel management system while staying strictly secured. We respect and put our customers as our first priority. Being certified for PCI-DSS, HTNG, and is going to get our ISO 27001, ISO 27018 in a few months’ time now, CiHMS is determined to achieve data transparency with our customers while protecting their data privacy. (To read more on CiHMS features, please dig in here)

Mr. Hoang Nguyen - CEO of CiHMS shared the hardship in the journey of building the all-in-one hotel management software witht he attended guests

At the launch event, Mr. Hoang Nguyen – CEO of CiHMS shared the journey of CiHMS and how to build the complete hospitality solution from the start

Instead of paying in a full lump sum as you would for an on-premise hotel management system, CiHMS enables our customer to pay upon subscription services: Essential for small hotels, Plus for 3-4 stars hotels, Boutique & Premium targeting 5 stars hotels, resorts, and multi corporation hotel chains. During the launch event, Mr. Hoang Nguyen – the CEO of CiHMS also shared: “CiHMS has been developed with the latest technologies aiming to help hotels to operate effectively, minimize its operation cost, and provide customers experience at its best. Thanks to its capability to connect with hundreds of OTAs domestically as well as internationally, opening new doors and opportunities to hoteliers approaching themselves into a bigger market with greater revenue”. The launch event definitely closed on a high note. It has been a journey with CiHMS. Thank you all for your attendance. It meant the world to us!

If you haven’t read our CiHMS journey yet, don’t forget to check out the series at our very first entry: Buy or Build your own PMS.

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