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RETCON 2021
March 31, 2021, Online, Miami, FL, USA
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RETCON Hospitality: What’s Next in CRE Technology
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  • Description
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About the talk

Panelist:

Sam Schwartz, Vice President of Asset Management, First Hospitality

Andrada Paraschiv, Head of Hospitality, Beekeeper

Hospitality is a leader among property types in real estate innovation. With its emphasis on customer service, experience and efficiency, owners and operators of hospitality have harnessed technologies that bring guest experience to the next level.

As the world and industry changes daily, what tech strategies should you be taking to ensure the best performance of your hospitality properties? We’ll gather the top hospitality owners, operators and tech companies to discuss what they’re doing today in Q1 2021.

About speakers

Sam Schwartz
Vice President of Asset Management at First Hospitality, Inc
Andrada Paraschiv
Beekeeper at VP Hospitality
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Okay. Well, let's go ahead and get started. Welcome everyone to rack on Hospitality. We're thrilled to have you join us today. I'm super excited to welcome Sam Schwartz. The vice president asset management at first hospitality and brought out Karachi head of hospitality at beekeeper, Sam andrada, welcome ourselves. I guess I'll start for luxury division. And actually, this is how I first learned about beekeeper. We're all going to be cheaper hotels in 2014. And then three years later. I made the jump

on the technology side and off for those that don't know, beekeeper is a mobile-first communication platform that allows companies to read the entire Workforce, instantly across different locations, Department languages. And so are my name is Sam Schwartz. I'm a vice-president asset management. At first Hospitality where a midsize owner and operator of franchise predominately franchise hotels, around the Midwest night. It's about 50 properties. In our portfolio. Mostly under the Hilton. Marriott, in Hyatt Flags. We've been

in the industry for 35 years and my role. I really sit in the shoes of ownership, overseeing the owns component of our portfolio, which is about half the hotel. And so, I shouldn't around technology, Investments. Autumn. Come to, always come to my desk. Awesome respect is here. So let's dive on in experience. Damn. How is technology changed the check-in process? For sure? So we can one of them to think it's actually seen from covid-19 testing arrival experience, and there's definitely a large before they even arrived on property. And there's been some pretty interesting shifts. Respect

during the pandemic for Donnelly, the rise of virtual property tours. I have become a hugely popular way for hoteliers to share their property with your potential. Guests were planning their trip and also on the events. I haven't still, I think ramping up, we are finding that because it's been very difficult to get people out to the property to take a sales tour that having virtual tours. It's not really like back out and their number for instead of popped up where they will offer feed

come in and actually scan your property with a 3D camera and then upload that to an easy-to-use interface that potential guests can browse freeze dance. OK? Google street view of the property and we've ordered a whole portfolio with that scene, right results. And so once but once it gets right, on property has the biggest change by forests in the adoption of digital key York, mobile key applications, all the large rim companies Hilton. Marriott Hyatt, others have launched their own versions of this where guests are able

to through an app, receive a digital key. Alton call theris digital key Marriott call Sara's mobile key, but effectively, your phone becomes your room key and that, you know, it's option really Hilton lost launched the program actually back in 2015, stats as of November 2020. They were live in over five thousand other properties. I think they're actually. I think Marriott in high aren't far behind are actually At the levels while which is really the majority of their portfolio. Now you have this option available and

that should have 26 million. Reservations used. I just feel he recorded in November 2020. Which is much higher. Then I would have had the end. It's something we've been watching closely. So I think that that the technology around digital he's gotten better and no one of the other features that starts the launch has the ability to select your room in advance. So the same way you would click on what seat you want him near line. You now can do that with your menu of the hotel brands. And there is a reason Hospitality technology survey

done by the magazine and the percentage of hotels offering or planning to offer certain technology. And you see in the eighties and nineties, the mobile check-in, contactless payment mobile room key, but also their action, I guess digital signage on property. So you don't have to ask anyone and the check-in and check-out you as well. So, yes, I need it all about 60% of the hotel survey. You know, they said they are offering or planning to offer these type of Technology.

How do you spell renown as that, you know, customer service industry and contact list kind of goes against a little bit boring? A lot these days. How do we create service touchpoints? When guests are blowing right by the front desk, they're going straight to the room and they're preferring that the other, especially our business Travellers are experienced Travelers, who are rewards members. They have that ability to actually bypass the front desk, the other credit card on

file. It's already been authorized and then you just go. So it is absolutely something that you were to stay and I think it's all so it's not entirely generational preference. You know, we may be a stereotype that younger people tend to be more comfortable to ask, but we see usage across the Spectrum. It's just more convenient way to stay with us at our properties. And so I know we have We foresee a future where the front desk really is more of a concierge. And this is there such as a general support role and, you know, whether they're

at that still requires a desk, or we shift to a shift, away from someone and agent behind a desk, and more of a support staff. That's out in the lobby there, if you need them, I think that that shift is already underway salary. And I know one of the biggest brands last year are they were trying to check in for her son would be actually. I'm not sure what happened to it, if I know, but when you think about the idea was there before I took off because of safety or security and

Samuel. Yes. It's awfully interested in coming. We're seeing a ton of different real estate. Property types is the Technologies, were there around. It's, it's nothing new, but we're finally moving forward. Who run and operate the hotel. What kind of unique Technologies contact list or otherwise? Are we saying revolutionize employee experience in Toronto? So, yeah, when coffee the kids, everyone jumped on the gifts contactless technology, but the reality is that if you have the same

constraints that apply to stuff, I mean for you since your stand-up meeting, Become a little bit impossible. If you have in all this big game, groundings were rooms talking from ask, how far is this a customer that is opening in a few months? And they want to have one because of coffee and I'll just make it safe to because that's the direction of the technology was going anyways, and the generations are going I mean since 2016 and Millennials having the largest Workforce in North America with 35% increase and they are born in their

hand. It looks like that and you know, how many areas where this thing? I would you like subtracting mixed the company attracted to do the work for it. and even though I mean, people will have to start a hiring and that they will be A word for Talon and you know, how do you position yourself? So that you are appealing to the workforce? And then we see many areas where employees are getting to know if you can help driving plates dreams and productivity and I can speak from our perspective and

just you know, your thumb down communication and local regulations are changing overnight and you really want everyone to know. He's right away versus the GM. Tell Daddy, right before their teams. And he keeps trickling down because you have no control of what the last person and you're staying, you're going to hear and not to mention that he may not even speak English. So well, so what I understand is also different. Different time is right. We got communication platform. You can push a button and everyone gets a message instantly and can see it in their own language as well.

So, Makes the work was more important and then some efficiency problems and it's not the only safer from a perspective of you don't have to have several hands touching the same folder or paper but it also saves time. And you don't have to go to the HR office to ask for time off. Can just do it. When you have a minute. You can just fill it out and it just go straight to HR. And I have to walk 10 minutes there and back pain where you are on the property is density. Focus on something better and do your job.

Sounds like a very important tool that can definitely make a huge, huge impact on employee experience in advance company is top of mind for me, but I'm meeting space technology enabled from a attendee standpoint of a major Trend in the industry right now. Is this notion of hybrid events where you have some of the attendees were there, physically in person? And some were joining fee up a videoconference, her otherwise. Dialing in and how it's a major town for a bag. I feel for, you know, who these are spaces. Because it's,

it's really just a really difficult Dynamic navigate. You know, how do you keep both populations? Both audiences and gave me an event. Make me feel like they're both at the same event. And so, you know, that it really comes down to on the technology side from a hotel perspective or from the facility is is offering a comprehensive AV and that's not another example of my knowledge. There's certainly been a major improvements and some of the vendors out there. But as far as fundamentally new

technologies, really not more about how are they use? And the really didn't agree to support that. The possibilities are provided. We're seeing a spike in demand for on-site, AV staff to help event planners navigate that technology. And I think the other in addition to having a really good video conferencing I've really got to get something set up. Where also seeing the rise of second screen solutions, that allow attendees to wear their personal device in

View and interact with whatever digital content is being Stream. So, if there's a presentation at the pump screen that people at home are seeing on their device, that the attendees in person can view the same screen on their own device to make notes or comments, or engage that way. Now, I'm into that, I think is another bottle, but it's definitely its involving space. All of the major franchise companies have rolled out their own programs, that have their own meat packaging of preferred vendors and guidelines around running these hybrid events, but I think

it's a category that's not going to go away with the rise of work from home and pressure to be in there in person. I think. Certainly, if you're trying to build relationships, showing up, as I think it's going to come back, but there will be certainly, a new and growing category of people who prefer. And if we talk about events and employee targeted technology, like, where is Jen? Health is improving. The experience of the participants are the groups. I just want money down for like when everybody else

property is informing, they know what you mean. What if somebody? And I thought seeing any employee of the hotel. Do you know where my meeting today than usual on? Cuz I don't know go downstairs and check. Please follow me and I'll go ask my manager and I think if you know communication solution that will empower the employees that they have information, they fingerprint, you know, they can take out the phone and check because the system would what do connect with Delphi trance, 29 get their room, assignments and everything and then they would be able to do back the

person to write to him right away. A trend we're seeing is a real spike in event specific apps where conferences are putting out an app that's dedicated to that conference. There's number of platforms out there that has skin sign up within loader event information into an app, that the attendees then can refer to easily with something that was in place before the pandemic will just really spiked is a way to self-serve. I'm in and have those questions answered without having to ask is just another example of a

service touch points that are being subsumed by technologies, that were another example of that. Is it, is it going to bug you guys too much. That's why we definitely forgot that. We believe if you can't beat them, join them. And we're always looking for just be most convenient, positive spirit. Stopple and Technology, certainly can offer that operators is how do we find other ways to to be helpful? Now that now that the team is not answering questions. Are there other proactive things they can be doing to make the experience better.

And that's that's where we focus. Super exciting things now, and to come for sure, for events and, you know, staying gas as well. Food Service. Are you guys doing some stuff? We talked about that there have been major changes or two around. What? In in property really room service offerings look like Hotel. Operators room service is rarely profitable than you even even charging $23 for a hamburger if it's really, really, and that's been true for a long time.

And what we seem models. I like to model the first, I think about the most common example of this is a bender named second kitchen, where they will partner with. Restaurants surrounding your hotel and allow hotel to offer a whitelisted room service menu that pulls that. That actually is basically coordinating delivery from these local restaurants in to the guest room. And so from the guest perspective, it's really convenient. There's a couple different ways. You can serve the

menu to Gatsby. Can either be an in-room QR code. It can be a link that's included on the tracking, but if they can pull up a curated list of local offerings and prices are lower to every so often faster and they get the experience of having some local Cuisine and really satisfaction goes up from an operator perspective. It's much more if you, I think there's a couple different Revenue models, they work on but you're not losing money, which can give you a win in this case. And so, I think that

model is really going to grow the other model. What is a guinea fraction this company called Butler hospitality? And they actually will take over a staff? Are they, they look for a full-service hotels, that where they can staff the kitchen, and then he hub for providing room service to other not affiliated hotels in the area. And in that same way can be achieved, economic scale, economics of scale. And I'll provide really high quality offerings at lower price points in and faster just because they're serving more people. They can afford to have more staff and more delivery people on

call. And so, there's this kind of moving away from each Hotel, providing its own food service to either, branching out into a local restaurants or on a network effects. And if I think it's a win-win for upper operators, and yes, Yeah, sounds sounds super cool and a lot of discussion around technology and and focus on the guest experience, but the lot is the focus on the employees and bring value to the employee experience. Yes, and I think it all means go to remind everyone of the service trophic chain, that starts with happy employees that lead to Happy Gas and

returning gas and then Happy owner at the end of the day. If translates into guesting pack an overnight bag and I will give, you know, some examples of of an employee up. You know, what, the numbers are down. The communication is everything that company in Chinese do do it. That's why I can have communication needs significant and just because employees don't want to do their job properly. Know it's more because they don't know what they're supposed to do. And I don't understand why you think so. I think it's really important that this Unication is

over and precise and then with more communication. They understand what's expected of them. And why does he important in these? They play in this big puzzle for the success of the success of the company? And, you know, maybe some sloppy to others, but the end of the day, if he really has an impact on productivity, and also and retention and turnover and play there, never can be answered. I mean, they're the most conservative numbers. I've seen are four thousand to $5,000 per employee that

you lose when you have to hire more expensive on your manager for director-level. Tension would be higher on the bottom line. And number three out there training and Again, and then sometimes, you know, it's a feeling that something that's easy or overlooked right away. Focus a lot on, that's what I'm going to do, but then we shall face. We are overlooking some of the details. Make or break your success. And we have customers that he has really leverage

trading capabilities to communicate or standard operating procedures and I have seen improved results in compliance with the brand standards and and also enjoy satisfaction. So it is I guess. Yes, the employee is the harder. It may be to connect the impact it because it's not as direct. There may be other factors influencing it as well, but it is a critical step to a company's success. Yeah, it definitely is very important. Really, really excited to hear that folks are investing that

we've been thinking about recently, very top of mind and I think, I hope we're close to. It is a return to normalcy. Something very top of my Hospitality. What role can Tech play in, helping us to get back to a normal life. So, I think top-of-mind is I'm going YouTube mobile to your digital key and I think not having to worry about that unfortunate, potential exposure, even as acting as our I probably developed. I think that it's a awareness that's going to be with us for a while. And so I think I'm going to vomit of those tools and Adoption of those tools. It probably perhaps

the greatest enabler of a quick return to normal. I think the other the other General Mission if that were keeping an eye on is the second abled vaccine passport and there's no reading articles on this site. I have the impression that it's still a fairly fragmented effort. In some cases. There are individual governments that are pursuing their a couple of samples in the European Union of up individual governments launching. Health passport are examples of specific airlines that have offered Hold vaccine information

from their flyers and and help serve that. And then I've also read about certain text Giants on IBM is pills made a minor to around their National National Health. Passport offering deals on blockchain on blockchain technology. And the intense there is to create the technological platform, that governments and service providers, like Airlines can build their own passports on, but I think that, unfortunately, I haven't seen a single effort in the United

States that really looks like it's gaining ground and hopefully that changes and that, you know, there might be some out there, but it's certainly an evolving situation. And I think if we can get it right, I know something that is operators. It would make our lives simpler to be able to easily confirm, whether I guess has received the vaccine allows us to make sweeter. Operational decisions around how to manage that that Gaston and help manage to save you the property. Isn't I mean I would be Jesus by questioning by the normal, see you

because like we're discussing here, some things that we're not so normal. For, like I said, right now they are normal and probably they will be here to stay and from the employee point of view. You know, why I was talking to different people and I think the general opinion seems to be that we're never going to level. Just because they were forcing the backyard or forced to do more with less and they did it. They feel they can operate with gelatin stuff. And

so I have a customer for his friends. Dad is going to be 30% less and transaction, Staffing levels been before even when it's at its full capacity. With, you know, everything just because you know, he added something that says that if you don't have created and there is able to. So she was able to operate this way and it's because of ology that was added into the mix. Definition point on. What? What is normal? But will be no more. I think yeah, we've all just become very

just to change. So we want to continue to talk about different elevations. Of course, there are so many tech companies coming about approaching a bunch of operators, you know, how to put put their technology, which is, of course. It's so exciting. But as operators. Yeah, we need to be able to make informed decisions and operator go about making a decision on which Technologies they should be at acting or. Excuse me now, so I can share it. So our approach, we tend to be very trying to be very

mindful about RIT Investments are in the end technology investments in broadly. Break them up in you too too intense. The first sometimes, sometimes we will on board a platform purely from a no for an R&D perspective. We don't really tie an expected return to it. We think that there is this is a promising solution might work for us. It might not but it's something that we should be familiar with because it could do. It seems promising down the road or because our competitors appears our have adopted it. And, and so, very strongly that mode of,

I'm boarding my tea, and then there was the, we have a specific return on investment expectation and that number, right? I would I know we don't we explicitly do not tie yourself to a dollar amount or an expected return. That is always quantifiable, a lot of great item vestments. Are we may have not always had quantifiable benefits, and it gets into this kind of monkey Matthew. Maybe you can assign it a value to it. But when you dig into that. And it on your, what's

the, what's the worth of a one-point Improvement? I'm around, you know, maybe you can tie that to turn over. Maybe you can try that your engagement type to get satisfaction tie at the higher rate. But if it ends up being a brat. And so when we were in, when we are making a decision, where there is an expected return, we do set our expectations up front that we know, we do expect to see an increase in you get satisfaction with you expect to see an increase in employment, rail or revenue generated. And then we do measure and that that follows through is

really important,, Even if there's not a specific goal in mind. I mean, we have a, an order of magnitude that we're shooting for and week me to Monitor and then, and would absolutely recommend that and, I think. Another broad strategy. We keep in mind we're making technology. Decisions is we we certainly pride ourselves on being early adopters on average but that the back of our new Technology Solutions on possibly being developed, pretty much every aspect of the business. We pick our

battles and we we try to generally identify what are the areas that are absolutely most valuable to us as the company, as operators and try to become picture in the IT solutions in those areas and are more inclined to take risks in the experiment because we want to be on The Cutting Edge of the areas that are valuable to us, whereas other other aspects of our business were more inclined to not be early adopters. There is risk, costed often hire thugs. That still need to be ironed out and there's, there's absolutely no shame in in waiting to see

how do, you know? In offering her product of matures and jump in when you can slide into your complex budget. Yes, I honestly,. I think it is stuff and then there's so much cuz I don't want you out. There are three things that I would recommend. If my experience is chicken, white wine is kicking mine which are trying to achieve that. Sometimes people get distracted by some bells and whistles of certain technology, but I know they may be cool, but do they help you with that? You're trying to achieve nor

did I get the job done? So keep that in mind. Second. I think should be something that it's going to be used for one because it's easy to use. And a lot of the most recent technology is very user-friendly and two and it's a very important point that I would say. He provides value not just do the buyer, miss all being a corporate office, but also to the user themselves in the hotel was actually she's using. Because otherwise, they would just look at it as she has a lot of pain from corporate that I have to

do what I'm already busy with all this, in the buying process and get their opinion. They're buying a number 3. What I've seen, I mean we work with a lot of different partners in hospitality and we see this more and more from customers, being able to integrate. Do you have all of these different tools that don't talk to each other? That's early and they all have great information and he might actually try to put them together, you really can Empower your, your work for us and can take

the Night by guest experience to it to the next level. Great great points there. So, fortunately, we have some very tech-friendly books on today, but maybe or just beginning their Journey or Ben were hesitant to adopt new technologies. What, what advice would you give them? Yeah, I think, you know, like I said, there are in many cases. There's no shame in and not being an early adopter in and I think I would suggest that the anther, the right approach is that really pick your battles and have an awareness of where technology or work to have an awareness of their technology

to really provide the most value. And perhaps if your toe into that area of your business, so, whether that I unite in hotels, we haven't really talked much about our Revenue management, but from Aldi, we'd have a huge emphasis on leveraging AI platforms to help us better price, our properties and anticipates a man dance. So that's an area that we identify to keep our business and spend a lot of time investigating the solutions that are out there and working on our own. And so I think that's if if technology in general I'm

intimidating. Narrow, your focus and and try to find one or two areas that you think it could make a difference and maybe that will help with the general overload. And then has it been nice to know what you are trying to achieve. I think it is. Gold standard and it's amazing how hard it is to lose track of that or how sorry, how easy it is. It is amazing. How easy it is to lose track of what you're really looking to get out of the solution. The really know we make it explicit. We have steering documents with all of our IT projects and it helps keep us on track.

I would say there is no going back but fortunately or unfortunately, I don't know that he has been sick for a while. But now it has become more of a must have been nice to have. If you want to remain competitive and I know change is hard, but it doesn't mean it's bad, right? So I guess you have to see how you can deal with this. And for my perspective, from from what I've seen, all the things I did not just provide have a proven, otherwise, there's not just parents, if I can

buy cement, good investment and he sure has it and I would just talk to others that have you tried on a sample of hotels, may be as different solutions in different hotels, whatever works for you and the boy organized. But It's the way they're moving and nobody. Some great advice there. I never was very appreciative of that. The two of you and everybody tuning in today for joining us will have a job working putting next week with one on multifamily technology. So super excited to see everyone next week.

Wednesday, and thank you again for joining us. We will see you soon by everyone.

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Sam Schwartz
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