Always Dependable And Friendly I.T For You.

Does my business need a Firewall?

Does my business need a Firewall?

Why does a Personal Identifiable Information (PII), Confidential Information (CI) or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI) compliant business absolutely and unequivocally need a firewall.

If your systems connect directly to the Internet and manage or access PII, PHI, CI or PCI data locally, on the Cloud or via Internet web portals without protection, you dramatically increase your risk of being breached.
As a smaller organization, most business owners believe their smaller footprint are invisible to or not targeted by malicious intruders, and believe they are a lower risk of being attacked — however, this is quite the contrary. Hackers don’t target your business specifically, they release automated Bot armies that continuously scour the Internet looking for unprotected devices. They look for vulnerabilities in the way devices are configured—things like factory set passwords, weak encryption, non-updated firmware, etc. Once a weakness is found, they exploit this by collecting user names, passwords, access codes, bank information, SINs, credit card information and other data and send it back to the bad guys, who collect the stolen data for 6-9 months on average before using the stolen information. By the time the breach is spotted, you may have lost thousands or client data records. The average cost of a breach for a small business in the US is $36,000 and huge bruise to business’s professional reputation. Data breaches continue to go up every year, and even though you hear about the big ones (Target, Home Depot, Michael’s, CVS/Walgreens, etc.), most breaches are small businesses like yours.

As Canadians, two separate federal privacy laws protect our privacy. These laws govern the information that businesses can collect on other Canadians, as well as how organizations must manage and protect that data.

As of January 1, 2004, PIPEDA applies to every organization that collects, uses or discloses personal information during commercial activities. However, the federal government may offer an exemption for organizations and/or activities in provinces deemed to have adopted substantially similar privacy legislation (more on this later).

What is the ‘Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act’?

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act is a Canadian law that relates to data privacy. PIPEDA governs how private and public sector organizations collect, use and disclose personal information in the course of commercial business.
PIPEDA stipulates that Personally Identifiable Information (or PII) must be:
• collected with consent and for a reasonable purpose
• used and disclosed for the limited purpose for which it was collected
• accurate
• accessible for inspection and correction
• stored securely

PIPEDA, in plain English, states that once an organization collects data, regardless of the province, industry, or the type, that the organization is fully accountable and responsible for the protection of said data.

Is my organization required to keep our data in Canada?

PIPEDA, at the federal level, does not require all Canadian organizations to keep data in Canada. However, depending on which province your business is in, if your business operates in the private or public sector and which industry your business works in, you could potentially be required to keep data within Canadian borders.

For example, a public sector commercial medical research company in Nova Scotia will almost certainly be required to keep Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data in Canada (under the NS Personal Information International Disclosure Act), while a real estate agent in Manitoba would be free to store their data across borders.

Regardless of where your data might be stored, at the end of the day, each federal and provincial privacy act is very clear. Once an organization collects sensitive data, that organization is then 100% responsible for the protection and security of that data, and it is up to each individual organization to fully understand the rules.

What specific data is protected under PIPEDA?

Under PIPEDA, the following is considered sensitive or Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and is explicitly protected under the law:
• Age, name, ID numbers, income, ethnic origin, or blood type
• Opinions, evaluations, comments, social status, or disciplinary actions
• Employee files, credit records, loan records, medical records, existence of a dispute between a consumer and a merchant, intentions (for example, to acquire goods or services, or change jobs)
Are the privacy laws the same in every province?
PIPEDA is a federal act; however, the federal government may exempt organizations and/or activities in specific provinces deemed to have adopted substantially similar privacy legislation.
For example, the province of Nova Scotia has ruled that

“Public bodies ensure that personal information in its custody or under its control … is stored only in Canada and accessed only in Canada.”
Other Federal Regulation bodies also request that certain types of data remain protected and within Canadian border.

References:

• The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/privacy-laws-in-canada/the-personal-information-protection-and-electronic-documents-act-pipeda/
• Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act, with respect to health information custodians.
https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/04p03
• Canada Revenue Agency – Keeping Records
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/records/

Why do smartphone users prefer Wi-Fi networks over 3G/4G?

Why do smartphone users prefer Wi-Fi networks over 3G/4G?

Written by Monica Ferrari

OpenSignal released a report about the amount of time smartphone users worldwide spend on Wi-Fi. Based on results, people in countries with developed mobile networks prefer Wi-Fi over 3G/4G, especially when data is expensive and limited.

As per the Global State of Mobile Networks report carried out by OpenSignal; a company that focuses on wireless coverage mapping, smartphone users in almost all developed countries spend more time on Wi-Fi networks rather than 3G/4G mobile ones. The findings refer to data points collected from 822,556 users across 95 countries. Let’s have a look at the main aspects that determine why users prefer connecting to the internet through Wi-Fi instead of using a cellular network.

Wi-Fi availability

Smartphone users prefer Wi-Fi than 4G. The report’s “Time on Wi-Fi” graph shows that developed mobile markets, like the Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany and Belgium, are at the top positions in the list meaning they are more keen to use Wi-Fi over 3G/4G. The Netherlands is at the top of this list as its users spend 70% of their time on Wi-Fi. The main reason for this is that broadband service providers in these countries are supplying millions of Wi-Fi hotspots. For instance, Ziggo, the largest cable operator in the Netherlands, provides 1.9 million Wi-Fi spots throughout the country. On the contrary, most developing markets do not always benefit from a fixed wireless broadband and in many cases, they lack Wi-Fi provisioning. This aspect explains why countries such as Afghanistan, Myanmar and Ethiopia rank at the bottom of the survey.

Mobile data prices

In countries where mobile data is expensive, the cost for GB offered in mobile plans can be higher than a broadband connection. Accordingly, users can save money taking advantage of Wi-Fi. Therefore, internet users in countries like the Netherlands and Germany spend 70% and 62%, respectively, of time on Wi-Fi, although they are provided with high speed and well-performing 3G and 4G networks.

Data limitation

The amount of accessible data is another relevant aspect that determines the amount of time users spend on Wi-Fi. In countries where operators have restrictive caps on mobile data and charge you extra if you exceed the monthly bandwidth cap, people take advantage of wireless networks. For instance, Canadian smartphone users spend 60% of their time on Wi-Fi and as a result, the country ranks 10th. On the contrary, countries like Finland and Switzerland which adopt unlimited data philosophies (meaning that users are free from caps) users therefore spend less time on Wi-Fi networks. In Sweden users only spend 42% of their time on Wi-Fi and the country ranks only 68th, very far from the other Nordic countries – all ranking in the first 25 positions of the list – and close instead to undeveloped countries such as Nepal and Oman.

Based on this report, it can be said that Wi-Fi seems to be a valuable choice among smartphone users at worldwide level compared to 3G and 4G, especially in countries where mobile connectivity is lacking and mobile data is overpriced and limited.

In Canada, business owners would be smart to remember that most cell plans here are not uncapped, and can be expensive for their clients, which will most likely appreciate free access to Wi-Fi.

If you have any questions about Wi-Fi, please feel free to reach out to us at info@servicemybusiness.com or at check https://servicemybusiness.com/cisco-meraki/

 

PR vs. Advertising: Which Marketing Tactic is Best for Hospitality Start-Ups?

PR vs. Advertising: Which Marketing Tactic is Best for Hospitality Start-Ups?

By Jennifer Nagy, President of JLNPR Inc.

There’s a misconception held by many business owners that public relations (PR) and advertising are completely interchangeable (in terms of the benefits that they offer), but that isn’t true. While each has benefits, there are many reasons that PR is more effective for start-ups – especially for those in the hospitality industry.

Here are five examples of when using PR will be more effective than advertising for hospitality start-ups:

When you need to educate your audiences

One of the most exciting things about working in the hospitality industry is the innovation that you experience firsthand. The difficult thing about being the company that is selling an innovative, new product is that it is necessary to educate your potential clients on why this product is different/better than others available in the market. Because many of these products are so technologically advanced, this can be a very arduous process – and a confusing one for your audiences. That’s where PR comes in.

In conjunction with content marketing, PR is the best tactic to educate your potential customers and establish the company as an expert. It is possible to do this because hotel trade publications will publish vendor-neutral articles (articles that don’t reference/sell a specific brand/product) that will teach hoteliers how to improve their operational processes. Over time, this exposure will help your company to sell your solution more effectively and significantly shorten the sales cycle.

When you want to create a stronger relationship with your target audience(s)

The public is accustomed to seeing ads everywhere – and distrusting the messaging that they see reflected in these ads. If you want your public(s) to have a positive impression of your company and/or products (and increased trust in purchasing from you), PR is a better approach; articles written about your company by a journalist – an independent third-party expert – gives your company more credibility in the mind of potential customers. The same message delivered by an advertising spokesperson may be ignored by many potential customers, as most know that the ethical standards for advertising are less strict than they are in journalism.

Lisa Goldsberry agreed: “Many consumers see an advertisement as biased and one-sided. Since a company can’t buy a news story, consumers will regard it differently than advertisements because it’s the equivalent of a third-party endorsement for the company.”
In addition, advertising is only effective at telling your audience your message, making it a one-way marketing tactic; in contrast, PR is a two-way communication tactic (communication flows from the brand to the audience and also in reverse), which makes it more appealing to potential customers and, therefore, more effective.

When you want to sell your product’s story, not just your product

The inherent nature of a start-up (it’s something new and different!) creates a story angle that will be of greater interest, and therefore, you are more likely to secure media coverage.

As well, PR is more effective at delivering a story, rather than just a list of product benefits: “Public relations executives excel in storytelling and, typically, present a perceived problem (i.e. childhood obesity) and their client’s unique solution (i.e. a new type of fitness equipment designed by, and for, pre-teens),” said Robert Wynne.

Especially when your product is re-thinking the industry’s standard way of executing a task, there is a really interesting story behind its development; consumers love to read these stories, so media love to publish them.

Long story, short… If you have it (an exciting story behind your product/service or company), flaunt it – using PR.

When are you are on a budget

Traditional marketing tactics (such as billboards, TV commercials and radio ads) are less cost-efficient than PR. For example, a press release only needs to be distributed to media once (if you have a strong angle) and it will be picked up in numerous publications, on- and off-line, over time. This gets your message and product/service ongoing attention without an ongoing financial investment – unlike advertising, which requires you to continue paying for the advertisement to earn ongoing exposure.

Even more importantly, the results that can be achieved using PR (if executed properly), greatly exceed the ROI that can be earned from advertising.

To create or maintain your company’s reputation, especially during a crisis

Establishing and maintaining your reputation is the essence of PR. As previously mentioned, having a journalist write about your company or product establishes a sense of credibility with readers/viewers.

In addition, during and after a corporate crisis, audiences are not as receptive to traditional advertising. By using PR to communicate with audiences (don’t forget to apologize!) during a crisis, the company can mitigate the negative effects and more effectively protect (or rebuild) their reputation.

You’ve worked hard for your business, and it deserves the very best!

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at info@servicemybusiness.com or at https://servicemybusiness.com/hospitality-solutions/.

Hospitality Start Ups
Hospitality Start Ups

Property Managemt System Updates

Hotelogix and ServiceMyBusiness welcome you with 2016’s Third Quarter Release packed with incredible new features and useful enhancements.

Key Highlights:

1. Hotelogix Pocket PMS – World’s easiest Hotel Management System can now stay in your pocket
Get the power to run your FrontDesk operations, and manage your Hotel business on-the-go.

Hotelogix and ServiceMyBusiness mobile PMS is a ready to use app for your smartphone or mobile device. The simplicity of the system complements our powerful Hotelogix PMS on the Cloud.

2. Hotelogix and SnapShot announce strategic partnership
Hotelogix proudly announces its strategic partnership with SnapShot, offering a free access to all of SnapShot Analytics for your property, at no additional cost to you.

3. Extending permission user level to your Point of Sales
The “User Levels” section lets you set permissions and restrictions for your POS users as well. Important POS operations such as deleting order items, giving discounts on them or cancelling orders can now be controlled and restricted with ease.

Follow the link below for more details on the Upgrade:
Hotelogix Product Upgrade November 2016.pdf

Please do check our detailed November 2016 Product Upgrade Document for new achievements and improved features helping you in your everyday work.

We’d love to hear from you! Please share any feedback, comments or suggestions you may have at http://servicemybusiness.com/contact-us/ to help us continue serving you better.

We Wish You Continued Success!

Your ServiceMyBusiness Team.

Technology Mistake #10: Unsolicited Mail (SPAM)

The 10th technology mistake afflicting SMALL/MEDIUM businesses is one with which most every business and user is familiar: unsolicited email, also known as spam.  Spam messages have become a serious issue, particularly for SMALL/MEDIUM businesses that often misunderstand the problem and fail to take effective countermeasures.

Cost of SPAM

The Radicatti Research Group estimates spam costs businesses more than $20 billion a year. Further, almost half of all email is estimated to be spam.

Damage SPAM can cost you and your company

Thus, SMALL/MEDIUM businesses are investing valuable time, money and system resources processing, delivering and even storing these unsolicited email messages.  In addition to lowering productivity (staff must regularly sift through hundreds or more junk mail messages, deleting the spam, in search of legitimate email), spam takes a toll on an organization’s servers and workstations, which often must dedicate processor cycles, disk space and backup media to untold gigabytes of unwanted mail.

 

Unsolicited e-mail
Unsolicited e-mail

Recommendations to minimize SPAM

Technology consultants wield several weapons in the war on spam.  In addition to network filtering software, consultants can deploy server-based spam protection.  Still other organizations choose to outsource email processing to an outside vendor, who can monitor email streams and filter out unwanted messages.

Such filters can generate false positives, however.  And, they’re not cheap.  Therefore, it’s often a good idea to begin by adopting effective methods for managing unsolicited email messages.  Here are several first steps all email users and SMALL/MEDIUM business owners may take to minimize spam:

  • Do not publish email addresses in plain text on Web sites; instead use form-based tools that prevent robotic harvesting
  • Avoid forwarding chain email messages
  • Ignore credit repair, get-rich-quick and other common email solicitations
  • Use reputable email filters (such as those included in Microsoft Outlook, Google Gmail and other programs)
  • Read all terms before ever submitting your email address to another party
  • Review privacy policies before ever providing an email address
  • Consider creating a free email account (Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) for submitting to third parties
How to beat SPAM
How to beat SPAM

You’ve worked hard for your business, and it deserves the very best!

If you have any questions around e-mail or how to reduce SPAM in your company, please feel free to reach out to us at info@servicemybusiness.com  or at http://servicemybusiness.com/cisco-meraki/.

 

Airbnb

Airbnb is an online community marketplace that connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations. Airbnb users include hosts and travelers: hosts list and rent out their unused spaces, and travelers search for and book accommodations in 192 countries worldwide. A diminution of “air mattress B&B,” Airbnb has grown from appealing to couch-surfing budget-conscious tourists to business travelers seeking a more memorable experience that allows for a different level of collaboration amongst colleagues. Last year Airbnb raised $1.5 billion in funds that brought the value of the company to about $25.5 billion. This made it worth more than the Chicago, Ill.-based Hyatt Hotels Corp (NYSE:H) and the Parsippany-Troy Hills, N.J.-based Wyndham Worldwide Corp (NYSE:WYN), respectively.

While questions about the substantial valuation have dominated Airbnb-related news in the past, many people are asking whether or not Airbnb is something that could work for them. Here, we look at Airbnb – what it is, how it works, and the pros and cons of using this online rental marketplace.

What is Airbnb?

According to Airbnb, they provide “a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world ….” Airbnb hosts list their properties – which can be single rooms, a suite of rooms, apartments, moored yachts, houseboats, entire houses or even a castle – on the Airbnb website. It’s free to create a listing, and hosts decide how much to charge per night, per week or per month. Each listing allows hosts to promote properties through titles, descriptions, photographs with captions and a user profile where potential guests can get to know a bit about the hosts.

Travelers (or “guests”) search the available database of properties by entering details about when and where they’d like to travel. Travelers can further refine searches by making selections for:

  • Room type – entire place, private room or shared room
  • Price – range from minimum to maximum
  • Size – number of bedrooms, bathrooms and/or beds
  • Amenities – wireless Internet, TV, kitchen, pool, pets, etc.
  • Property type – standard properties such as apartments, houses and bed & breakfasts, as well as non-standard accommodations such as castles, caves, igloos and tipis
  • Host language – English, Spanish, French, etc., including sign language
  • Keywords – if the traveler is looking for something specific, such as “oceanfront” or “close to Le Louvre”

How it Works

Travelers can search the database of properties at any time, but need to create an Airbnb profile to book any reservations. Travelers can contact hosts using an online form that appears on each listing page, and can submit a reservation request by clicking the “Book It” button and entering payment details via a secure payment system. Travelers pay a guest service fee of 6-12% on top of the reservation to cover services such as customer support and the Host Guarantee.

Airbnb supports several payment methods, including major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover, and JCB),PayPalGoogle Wallet (on the Airbnb Android App for the U.S. only) and some debit cards that can be processed as credit. Travelers are not charged until the host confirms the reservation.

Once a traveler pays and the host confirms the reservation, Airbnb holds the payment for 24 hours after check-in before releasing the funds to the host. Available payout methods and currencies differ by country, but hosts are paid via automated clearing house (ACH)/Direct Deposit, bank transfer/international wire, PayPal, Western Union, paper checks (in the U.S. and Canada only), and Payoneer. Airbnb takes a 3% service fee from the host for each reservation to cover the cost of processing the transaction. This fee is in addition to the 6-12% paid for guest service fees.

Another fee you might come across is a value-added tax (VAT) (applicable to hosts and guests from the European Union, Switzerland, and Norway). Also, if you pay for a booking in a currency different than the one the host has chosen in the listing, you’ll be subject to varying Airbnb’s exchange rates.

How Airbnb started
How Airbnb started

Pros and Cons

Airbnb can benefit both hosts and travelers. Hosts get to meet people from around the world while making a little extra money, and travelers can often stay for less than the cost of a hotel room. In addition, many travelers enjoy accommodations that offer a different experience from standard hotels. Many users find the personalized service, both from hosts and from Airbnb’s customer service, makes for a good experience. Airbnb has fantastic listings, fair prices and their staff are very eager to help and easy to reach by phone or email. We have booked different places through Airbnb, and so far, I’ve been happy with their service and ease of [using the] website.

While Airbnb has primarily served budget-minded tourists, it has been attracting a larger share of business travelers. This is due in part to cost – companies can save money on conferences, meetings and retreats. But the attractiveness of staying in someone else’s home goes beyond the travel expense report. These properties allow travelers to trade in the cookie-cutter hotel experience for one that offers colleagues a unique and comfortable space in which to connect and collaborate.

Despite the benefits, there are concerns for both hosts and guests. Perhaps the biggest risk for hosts is that their property will get damaged. While most transactions occur without incident, there are stories of entire houses being trashed by dozens of party-goers when the Airbnb hosts thought they were renting to a quiet suburban family, or an instance when a host came home to find his property had been damaged, items had been stolen and the place was littered with meth pipes.

While Airbnb states on its website that “you’re unlikely to experience any issues with property damage,” their Host Guarantee program “provides protection for up to $1,000,000 in damages to covered property in the rare event of guest damage, in eligible countries.” The Host Guarantee program does give peace of mind to Airbnb hosts, but it’s important to read the terms and conditions to fully understand what’s covered, what’s not covered (things such as cash, rare artwork, jewelry and pets aren’t covered) and the steps a host must take to seek payment under the Host Guarantee. In addition, hosts should understand their homeowner’s, renter’s, and/or umbrella insurance coverage, and speak with a qualified insurance agent about any questions or concerns.

The biggest concerns for guests may be that the property does not match the description, or that the host is unresponsive to guest needs. In one case, a man had rented an apartment in a European city through Airbnb, and the apartment’s real owner showed up wondering who was in his apartment. Both hosts and guests can help limit risks by using Airbnb features including Verified IDs, profiles, reviews, messaging, secure payment platform and the Host Guarantee.

Hosts Should Know State and Local Laws

Of special concern to hosts are provincial and local laws that may limit or prohibit the renting of property. They could have restrictions that could result in hefty fines, and Airbnb includes this warning on its website:

“Some cities have laws that restrict your ability to host paying guests for short periods. These laws are often part of a city’s zoning or administrative codes. In many cities, you must register, get a permit, or obtain a license before you list your property or accept guests. Certain types of short-term bookings may be prohibited altogether. Local governments vary greatly in how they enforce these laws. Penalties may include fines or other enforcement.

These rules can be confusing. Often, even city administrators find it tough to explain their local laws. We are working with governments around the world to clarify these rules so that everyone has a clear understanding of what the laws are. In the meantime, please review your local laws before listing your space on Airbnb. By accepting our Terms of Service and activating a listing, you certify that you will follow your local laws and regulations.”

Taxes

In addition to complying with provincial and local laws, hosts should be aware that they might be subject to rental income taxes. To assist with tax compliance, Airbnb collects taxpayer information from hosts so they can provide an account of their earnings each year.

The Bottom Line

Airbnb provides an online marketplace that connects people with rooms to share with people who need a place to stay. In the past, these types of services have been used largely by thrifty tourists looking for the cheapest place they can find in a particular city. Now, however, more and more business travelers and professionals are looking to Airbnb for a unique and memorable experience. Although there are certain risks associated with using a share economy system such as Airbnb, users can take steps to help mitigate any potential problems. Hotels may not benefit from a system like Airbnb, however, business owners that have Motels in their property repertoires may want to have a look and see if they are a good fit.  We’ve heard from several clients that by using Airbnb, they have been able to rent out all their space, consecutively, on and off season.

You’ve worked hard for your business, and it deserves the very best!

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at info@servicemybusiness.com  or at http://servicemybusiness.com/property-management-system/.

Hospitality Technology Trends

Technology trends that are changing hospitality

In the evolution of the hotel business and hospitality technology trends, the guest is the driver.  The dominant change in guest behavior in recent years has undoubtedly been in the realm of technology. Guests are increasingly tech-savvy leading them to demand higher and higher standards. These fast-changing standards are increasingly difficult for hotels to reach. But they are a key factor in guest choice.

It was a truism in the restaurant business that a customer would be disappointed if presented with food inferior or similar to what they could reproduce at home. The analogous problem for hotels now is that guests often have far superior levels of networking and technology at home, leading to a disappointment factor with the hotel.

Here are just some of the key hospitality technology trends that we see as crucial in hotels today:

Hospitality Technology Trend 1: Guests Expect Speed

One very important hospitality technology trend is that guests are now traveling with their own technology, and prefer to choose and consume their own media. This has a number of immediate implications.

Wireless broadband connections in rooms and throughout the hotel must now be fast, easily accessible and preferably free. On the speed end, many hotel customers would now routinely have 50Mb or 100Mb fiber connections to their homes, so inferior speeds at hotels leads to frustration. It is not an exaggeration to say that the lack of quality high speed Wi-Fi is an inhibitor to your business.  At Bookassist, “wifi” and “free wifi” are a dominant search term for hotels online.

Some estimates put the amount of lost revenue across the industry from lost bookings due to poor Wi-Fi at close to $5 billion a year.

Hospitality Technology Trend 2: Multi-Device Guests Are the Norm

A mistake that many hotels make is “rationing” of Wi-Fi connections.  Providing access to Wi-Fi based on guest name and room number log-in is commonplace, but often it is restricted to one or two simultaneous logins per room. This is crazy in the modern age.

It’s not just business travelers who need connectivity. Most of your guests will have two or more Wi-Fi devices.  It’s not uncommon for one person to have a laptop, iPad and smart phone all on the go at the same time and with a couple or a family in a room, the number of devices required to be connected can quickly mushroom. Even cameras can now use Wi-Fi to transfer photos to computers and iPads. Also expect guests’ smart watches to add to the connectivity list.

If you are aiming to deliver an experience that is even better than “home away from home”, then your network architecture is an area that needs to be seriously and quickly addressed.

Examples of recent hospitality technology trends.  Multiple devices are the norm and the number per person is sure to grow. The expectation of Wi-Fi services is now a key decider in booking trends.

 

Hospitality Technology Trends
Hospitality Technology Trends – How many devices do you travel with?

Hospitality Technology Trend 3: Are You Investing in Pointless Provision?

Traditional in-house entertainment is rapidly fading as a service. On-demand TV movies are increasingly ignored. A guest with an iPhone likely has their entire music collection with them, or can access it from the cloud. With a tablet or phone, it is likely your guest has movies with them, or access to a cloud movie store with far greater choice than you can offer. Ensuring that your Wi-Fi can handle this traffic is therefore critical. But you can go further and ensure the guests’ experience can be enhanced by what you provide.

Docks for iPhone/iPod are already problematic since Apple’s devices have multiple connectors and many guests are not Apple users. But both Apple and Google have cheap Wi-Fi devices that connect to HDMI flat screens and sound systems and allow content to be “beamed” wirelessly to them from smartphones, tablets and laptops. The AppleTV device is a small Wi-Fi device that also shows the iTunes store, and Netflix, for renting movies with a choice that would be unrealistic and impractical for a hotel to attempt to provide. Google’s new Chromecast similarly allows any smart device running the Google’s Chrome web browser to feed its screen wirelessly to an equipped TV. Guests may indeed increasingly be bringing these devices with them.

Beyond accessing online movie content, another major advantage of these inexpensive connectivity devices is that they allow for large screen gaming. As family vacationers know, gaming is a critical time filler for the kids much appreciated by their parents. But gaming is also strongly embraced by adults of all ages. Connectivity should facilitate it.

It may not be necessary to equip all TVs with these gizmos, but having a stock of them available and advertised at check-in is something you should consider. Some hotels have gone further, with the provision of in-house iPads for guests, loaded with local info and hotel information, but the cost of this service and the speed at which these devices are superseded would indicate that this is not a trend to follow. With guests bringing their own technology, connectivity is the key focus area.

Hospitality Technology Trend 4: Mobile and Social Feed Each Other

Of course you can capitalize on all this connectivity you are providing too. Ask guests to share pictures online of their happy moments in your hotel. Post signs and have your check-out staff remind them to request their positive comments online if they are enjoying their stay. Give rewards for the best meal photo of the week shared on your Facebook page. Be creative in encouraging social media in a positive way. Most of all, ensure it is being monitored on the major channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, TripAdvisor so that you can fix issues arising instantly.

Remember that the impact of social media on hotels is not just all about TripAdvisor. Private social media is even larger, where people check-in or comment on Facebook or Google+ or other such services. When guests post pictures and comments about your hotel to their friends, you do not have the opportunity to interact at all. But the influence of a friend’s comments on you are far more persuasive than those of hundreds of anonymous TripAdvisors.

Hospitality Technology Trend 5: Digital Guest Interaction

Evaluating an in-house internet channel, or in-house app service, specifically for guest interaction and information provision is something well worth considering. Digital concierge is a fast growing area, and is a natural but powerful evolution of the old TV-driven in-room information system. For example, having multilingual room service menus on such a channel, as well as ordering capability, is something that is trending well in larger hotels and has a place in smaller ones too. Couple this with clear and regularly-updated information on services available in the hotel (like your stock of AppleTVs or Chromecasts available on request) and you are providing information right where your guests expect it. Your app could even suggest services based on the type of device the guest is using, or the usage pattern in the hotel. This is a strong area for the future.

There is a popular hospitality technology trend towards automated check-in and check-out, which is desirable in larger properties and business properties to avoid queues. Such services are probably far less necessary in boutique and family hotels with the personal touch, but are nevertheless worth watching. It is also the point at which services can be advertised and upsold in simple touch-screen format.

Bottom Line

Guests are highly connected and multi-device dependent. They are increasingly bringing and consuming their own media. Hotels must deliver high speed connectivity, online services, and allow guests to optimize their own digital experience. It is no longer just the business guest that requires technology, though the requirements for business and conference capabilities have just as seriously grown in recent years. The question for you is, is guest-facing technology a true priority for your hotel?

You’ve worked hard for your business, and it deserves the very best!

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at info@servicemybusiness.com  or at http://servicemybusiness.com/hospitality-solutions/.