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DENVER (February 13, 2019)RLH Corporation(NYSE:RLH) announced today it has achieved a record 167 executed hotel franchise agreements in 2018. Specifically, the Company signed 37 mid and upscale hotels and 130 select service hotels in addition to acquiring over 350 select service franchise agreements with the acquisition of Knights Inn. RLH Corporation now encompasses over 85,500 rooms an increase of 24% from 2017 and upscale brands now comprise 8% of the Company’s hotels.   

“2018 was an outstanding and transformational year for the Company,” said RLH Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Mount. “We intensified our focus and invested incremental expert resources on our franchise business, especially on the human capital front. We also began seeing meaningful improvement to the velocity and volume of our franchise agreement signings. These important shifts in focus, leadership and strategy will serve us well, as we continue to progress to a fully asset light franchise company. We are particularly encouraged by the interest in our mid and upscale brands. ” 

During 2018 the Company signed agreements for four Hotel RLs, including one on Miami Beach, Florida. It opened its first resort hotel with The Island in Fort Walton Beach, FL and opened Signature San Francisco, the first from this refreshed brand.

In addition during 2018, RLH Corporation sold nine owned hotels for over $116 million in gross proceeds. In order to concentrate even more of our available resources on the franchise business, the company has transitioned four of the remaining owned hotels to third-party managers in anticipation of future sales. 

The Company is experiencing continued strong interest in its franchises into 2019 and is providing guidance of 160 to 200 executed agreements for the year.  As previously communicated, the Company’s franchise development efforts are being intensified on its mid and upscale brands.

You can refer to the Company’s most recent investor presentation to learn more about RLH’s long term outlook here:http://ir.redlion.com.

Learn more about franchising with RLH Corporation, visitfranchise.rlhco.com.

We don’t wait for the future. We create it.

 
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February 13, 2019

With warmer weather arriving in just a few more months, it’s time for hotels to start prepping for outdoor entertaining. So how do you design an outdoor space that delivers the warmth of hardwood flooring without encountering the risk of guests slipping on a wet surface?

Havwoods International, a global engineered wood supplier, offers a solution for outdoor hospitality settings with the introduction of its first decking product range. Following extensive research, Havwoods International discovered a demand for decking products made from solid construction; this provides far greater impact resistance and ensures a smaller surface area, which means even less chance of water absorption.

Made entirely from recycled wood and plastics, the FSC®-certified Trekker collection offers a range of composite decking and cladding boards suitable for both external and internal use. The Trekker collection consists of three diverse color grades—including chocolate, oak, and vulcan—and textured designs, such as wood grain, fluted, and fascia. The boards are easy to install with the use of fixing clips and even easier to maintain, requiring nothing more than an occasional wash with plain water. Additionally, the range is UV treated for fade resistance. To create a streamlined aesthetic to exterior surfaces, the collection includes matching trims.  

(Photo of Trekker Collection’s Vulcan Wood Grain at the Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa

Courtesy of Havwoods International)

 
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Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) February12, 2019

Canadian hotelier Group Germain Hotels is pleased to announce the official opening of its 18th property in Canada: Alt Hotel Saskatoon. This is the Group’s first property in Saskatchewan and fourth in the Prairies since they already own and operate two properties in Calgary and one in Winnipeg.

Located in downtown Saskatoon at the intersection of Spadina Crescent and 2nd Avenue, Alt Hotel Saskatoon is within walking distance of all the city's major attractions. The hotel is just steps from the Remai Modern, and very close to the Persephone Theatre and the Farmers Market, to name but a few. Alt Hotel Saskatoon offers spectacular views of the city and the South Saskatchewan River, which can be seen from most of the hotel's rooms. The River Landing neighbourhood where the hotel is located is booming at the moment, and several buildings will be added in the coming years including the Nutrien and Kay W. Nasser Plaza which will be accessible from the hotel lobby when completed.

Representing an investment of nearly $35 million, the hotel offers 156 comfortable and smart rooms spread out over 14 floors. Designed by Canadian firm Lemay Michaud Architecture Design, like all Alt Hotels in Canada, this new hotel features a modern design that blends in perfectly with its surroundings. Alt Hotel Saskatoon benefits from unparalleled floor-to-ceiling windows, providing exceptional light in all of its rooms and meeting spaces. Each room has a workstation with an ergonomic chair and connectivity panel for electronic devices, making it easy to work away from the office. As in all Alt hotels the ultra-fast Wi-Fi is offered free of charge, and each room has a Chromecast streaming device that allows guests to stream their favourite content just like at home! In addition, well-behaved dogs are welcome and there is no set check out time when guests book directly with us.

"We fell in love with Saskatoon," said Hugo Germain, Director of Development at Group Germain Hotels, "the river right in the heart of downtown gives this Prairie city a European flair, and Saskatoon’s dynamism is perfectly aligned with Alt Hotels’ personality. It must be said, if the intense cold characterizes the city’s winters, the warmth of the welcome you receive more than makes up for it!" he added.

Among the services offered in the hotel: a well-equipped gym open 24 hours a day as well as nearly 4,500 square feet of meeting space divided into 5 multipurpose rooms benefiting from natural light and offering state-of-the-art technology. Altcetera, our on-the-go food counter located in the hotel lobby, offers a wide selection of snacks and refreshments. Breakfast will also be offered on site very soon.

We called on local artist Herry Himanshu, @herry.with.an.e, to create Alt Hotel Saskatoon’s Altexpo, the giant piece of art that represents the DNA of Alt Hotels.  These 47 spectacular photos have come together to illustrate our tribute to the Prairies. Altexpo is sure to impress guests when they arrive at the hotel!

General management of the hotel has been entrusted to Corinne Lund, who has more than 25 years of customer service experience in the hotel and tourism industry. Corinne has developed strong expertise in management as well as in catering and business development. Well known in Saskatoon’s industry and recognized for her leadership, she takes the reins of the hotel with enthusiasm. "Our teams have worked very hard over the past few months and we look forward to welcoming our guests in order to share the Alt experience," said Corinne Lund.

 
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February 5, 2019

Hoteliers know an engaged guest is a repeat guest and often the most persuasive sales person a property has. Understanding how to effectively engage with guests is essential for a hotel’s success, but what is the best way to do this?  An effective guest engagement strategy is based on total property commitment, and the initial step to establish a successful program is planning.

First, a property must decide on the level of guest engagement it wants to achieve. Email is the standard method of guest engagement today, however there are many other tools available that a property can leverage and take guest engagement a step further for a more personalized guest journey. Each strategy and tool requires a different level of commitment and effort from a property’s management and staff, and each delivers different results. Here are several examples of guest engagement hotel software tools, how properties may use them, and the level of staff involvement required to be effective.

Mobile check-in & check-out and pre-registration: Guests value the convenience of mobile check-in since it allows them to bypass the front desk or have a VIP experience upon check-in with most of their stay particulars already shared with the property. It also allows the property to engage the guest further at a more personalized level by offering room upgrades or inviting the guest to enhance their stay with other amenities or services such as dining reservations.

Staff involvement: Mobile pre-registration and check-in requires minimal staff engagement. Guests receive an email confirming their reservation details and providing a link for online check-in. Staff must be trained in online check-in and pre-registration systems and procedures to be able manage their tasks effectively and to assist guests who may have questions. Staff should be made aware by the property management system (PMS) of which guests checked-in online, their preference criteria and when they will arrive. Housekeeping must also have instant knowledge to prioritize rooms and confirm when a pre-assigned room is vacant and clean. Maestro’s WebPRO provides guests online check-in via mobile, tablet and desktop. This speeds up onsite check-in, and provides pre-arrival information to hotel staff for planning and upsell opportunities. Maestro’s mobile housekeeping app also plays an important role in creating a fluid experience for the guest. Finally, a natural extension to this is mobile check-out that offers a digital copy of the folio and a post check out survey to continue the engagement after departure.

Guest surveys: Most online surveys engage with guests after check out. These are digital comment cards and most are easy to create. More sophisticated survey tools provide performance measurement and highlight areas where the property should focus its attention to deliver an improved guest experience. They are usually emailed to guests asking for input on their stay and require low effort from the property. The most effective guest feedback systems are integrated into the PMS which automatically emails a survey to each guest at check out. Some systems go further to offer post check-in survey that proactively ensures the guest experience is off to a proper start while the guest is in-house. Maestro PMS’ Guest Experience Measurement (GEM) system is fully integrated with Maestro’s Front Office System to provide a highly personalized guest engagement experience. Automated communications with the guest throughout their stay creates a unique, intimate experience and develops a close guest relationship that promotes loyalty.

Helen Watson, GM at The Adelphi Hotel – Saratoga Springs, said, “I find Maestro’s GEM extremely helpful to find out how our guests experience the hotel. I look for patterns to determine what our guests like, the areas we can improve, and where we are doing well. We find Maestro particularly useful to track each guest’s specific needs. The system gives us the opportunity to wow them. What makes the biggest impact on our guests is the attention to detail that Maestro makes possible.”

Staff involvement: Greater staff involvement is required when surveys come back. Although satisfaction thresholds are available to automatically alert a staff member when a response is particularly low, someone should review all returned surveys and determine which require action by the hotel and if management response is needed. This is important. If responses are not monitored and responded to, the penalty may be a bad online review for the hotel and loss of business or reputation.

On-property text messages: Text messages are an excellent way to engage guests with full 2-way communication. These can be effectively used to promote events for all guests, and also for subsets of guests, such as those belonging to a group, those staying on a specific rate, or VIP guests.

Staff involvement: Text engagement demands a more sophisticated level of communication that requires staff training and accountability. Some text systems have the smarts, based on an AI (artificial intelligence), to automatically respond to guests, or to direct incoming guest communications to the appropriate department (e.g. housekeeping for towels, or room service for guest amenities).  Some offer group messaging to notify guests of event changes and updates in real-time.  Nevertheless, staff must continuously monitor guest texts and respond in two to three minutes to ad-hoc requests such as recommendations on local attractions, or dinner reservation inquiries. Text messages also benefit staff operations. Housekeeping tablets are gaining wider adoption in hospitality. These systems enable housekeeping staff to have seamless mobile communication to and from the PMS for faster room status updates. Maestro’s SMS Text feature lets management monitor guest text messages and its Mobile Housekeeping tablet capability facilitates a prompt response when guestrooms need attention.

“The Adelphi Hotel’s Housekeeping Manager finds Maestro’s Housekeeping app incredibly helpful,” says property GM Helen Watson. “She can update the status for any room remotely on her mobile phone in real time in the Maestro Front Office System. This saves a great deal of time and gets guests into their rooms faster to begin their stay experience.”

Social media: Social media has proven to be a very effective way to engage guests, particularly for independent operators. Independents are experts at developing personal relationships and can often more freely engage with guests online. One advantage of social media engagement is that some hotel tech suppliers, like Maestro PMS, have developed direct-booking links for social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter. These links enable guests to book a reservation directly from a social media page which offers greater booking convenience and brand advocacy.

Staff involvement: Many properties turn to third-party contractors to handle online marketing and to respond to social media requests. This takes the weight of continuously monitoring social media channels, like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram off the property’s hands. If a property selects this method of guest engagement it is important that it hire contractors trained to understand and mirror a property’s online image.  There are social media tools that work well for automating part of a property’s online presence. If the property decides to regularly use social media for guest engagement it must commit to maintaining and refreshing its online presence. This includes creating compelling, time-sensitive promotions for upcoming events, developing special offers, and coordinating and advertising local activities to attract guests. All this must support a consistent online presence to maintain engagement and increase followers on the property’s social media feeds. 

Loyalty programs: Loyalty programs engage guests and expand relationships through frequent-stay programs and rewards. Usually properties connect with guests via email to update them about frequent-stay points for room nights, dining, and other activities that accrue in a guest’s loyalty profile. Guests are provided with secure access to their frequent stay rewards program page through online portals. This gives the property an opportunity to engage guests by suggesting promotions as guests view their loyalty points. The integration of the loyalty engine to the core PMS solution is an essential part of centralizing the guest information to add to a personalized guest journey. Guests value a well implemented rewards program. With a property’s use of powerful analytics and data mining tools, they are able to further personalize their offerings to loyalty members with direct booking opportunities and promotions based on preferences to enhance guest engagement.

Well trained, committed hotel management and staff are essential for a successful guest engagement program. As you consider your strategy, schedule time to meet with your team and agree on the level of engagement you want to achieve and the resources needed to accomplish it. Effectively deployed, the right guest engagement program and systems will absolutely lead to an improved guest experience, repeat stays and create a family of loyal advocates for your property.

 
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ESTEVAN, SK (January 30, 2019) – Days Inn by Wyndham Estevan today announced it has been recognized as a winner in the Bargain category of the 2019 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice® awards for Hotels, ranking 17 out of 25. Travellers’ Choice award winners were determined based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected in a single year from TripAdvisor travellers worldwide. In the 17th year of the awards, TripAdvisor has recognized 7,812 properties in 94 countries and eight regions worldwide.

This year, the awards celebrate hotel winners in nine categories, including Top Hotels Overall, Luxury, Bargain, Small, Best Service, B&Bs and Inns, Romance, Family and All-Inclusive. The hallmarks of Travellers’ Choice hotels winners are remarkable service, value and quality.

“This wonderful achievement can be attributed to the efforts of our entire team at Days Inn by Wyndham Estevan,” said Jeff Pierson, hotel general manager. “We work as a team and make it our goal to ensure each guest’s stay is a unique and memorable experience.”

Click here to see TripAdvisor traveller reviews and opinions of Days Inn by Wyndham Estevan.

“We congratulate the properties around the world recognised as the best hotels, which receive our highest honour – Travellers’ Choice Hotel awards,” said Desirée Fish, vice president of global communications for TripAdvisor. “Winners should be proud of their award as millions of travellers will consider this list when picking the perfect hotel for their needs this year.”

For the complete list of Travellers' Choice award-winning hotels for 2019 across all nine categories, including the top hotels around the world, visit: www.TripAdvisor.co.uk/TravelersChoice-Hotels

 

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