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Calgary, AB – July 21, 2021 – WebRezPro property management system now offers a direct connection to vacation rental online marketplace, Vrbo®, an Expedia Group company. The integration simplifies management of Vrbo listings, helping property managers maximize exposure to millions of travelers in Vrbo’s global network.

“We’re excited to announce our integration with Vrbo is live,” commented Frank Verhagen, President at World Web Technologies, Inc., the company behind WebRezPro. “This much anticipated connection allows WebRezPro users to take full advantage of their Vrbo listings to reach more guests while saving time and reducing the risk of double-bookings.”

The two-way connection allows property managers to seamlessly manage their Vrbo listing(s), including availability, rates and bookings, from within WebRezPro, eliminating the need to manually update data in both systems. The automated interface sends Vrbo bookings directly to WebRezPro and synchronizes property availability across both systems for optimum accuracy and efficiency.

“We're excited about our direct connection with WebRezPro and welcome them as an official Vrbo Connected Partner,” said Trilok Mahadevia, Vrbo Senior Connectivity Account Manager. “Our partnership will provide instant scale to WebRezPro customers helping them reach high-quality travelers, and also give travelers access to more lodging options on Vrbo.”

“Vrbo connects millions of travelers to lodging properties every month. Our connection to this significant channel will help many of our clients drive further efficiency, bookings, and revenue,” said Verhagen.

Existing WebRezPro clients should contact their WebRezPro account executive for more information and to initiate the connection.

 
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Hospitality will always be defined by the interactions between frontline associates and hotel guests, which is why face-to-face training and onboarding has always been favored by the industry. Today, as the nation begins down the long road of recovery left from the COVID-19 pandemic, communication between guests and hotels, and even between hotels and employees, has changed. And, many hotel managers are embracing the strengths of remote training alongside what their workers are re-learning in person.

"Conventional wisdom held that if leaders wanted to reach certain goals or instill specific value in hotel workers they would have to do so in person, just as the business is conducted each day," said Maestro President Warren Dehan. "Flash forward to 2020, the hospitality industry was turned on its head. We were accustomed to providing our services on-site and there were hesitations within our teams and clients who were not in favor of delivering the initial orientation, training and go-live remotely. However, given the travel and health challenges of the pandemic, it was time to adjust and provide a collaborative environment to both maintain the sense of relationship building that is a key part of the on-site implementation process, as well as provide remote training in a way that made sense to hoteliers. As a technology vendor it’s important that we adapt and support the implementation needs of our clients to help them thrive as they return to, and exceed, pre-pandemic activity.”

As the preferred cloud hosted and on-premises single source integrated PMS solution for independent hotels, luxury resorts, conference centers, vacation rentals, and multi-property groups, Maestro cites five ways remote on boarding as well as remote refresher training can be an asset to your hotel:

1. Training for Anyone, Anywhere

Communication will always be a challenge in an ever-shifting environment such as hospitality, and sometimes important changes need to be made quickly and information must be shared even quicker. The pandemic saw the most extreme case of this, with hotels having to constantly and swiftly alter operations based on CDC guidelines. Plexiglass barriers, mask requirements, and more had to efficiently roll out across the industry while enforcing social distancing.

During this period, employees in dire need of clarification and up-to-date communications were unable to physically meet on property. Remote training tools became valuable for workers who were in the process of making sweeping changes to their property. This technology will remain relevant during periods of significant change for hotels, such as those going through a rebrand, enacting new standards, or preparing for a natural disaster.

2. Reducing Travel Costs

Even in a world where safe travel is possible, travel for the sake of training can often be a significant investment for hotel operators. Remote training absorbs many of the travel costs and time lost during in-person training events and mitigates the liability of travel disruption. Most of all, the immediacy of these learning tools allows operators to learn new skills without stepping away from their roles entirely or properties during periods of high volume.

For this to be effective, training providers must change the way they organize classrooms for digital learning. Altered class structures, shorter teaching periods, and an emphasis on visual content are just some of the ways digital training differs from in-person lessons. These alterations are made with the goal of allowing students to learn at their own pace, without unnecessary external pressures.

3. Reinforcing In-Person Training

The trend toward remote learning is taking place just as corporate culture is experiencing a clash of ideas as employees who value remote work combat calls to return to the office. In many ways the comfort of one's home can increase productivity and can even help with the retention of new ideas, showing value in creating portable lessons for workers to dial into at their own pace.

Remote learning also allows management to update large groups of workers, such as entire departments, on small operational changes prior to their arrival on property. Digital training tools are often accessed using guest devices, making them easier to reference than hard copies, helping with long-term retention of information.

4. Improving In-Person Meetings

It is important for hoteliers to look at new technology as a potential tool for improving existing processes as much as they are for eliminating unnecessary ones. For example, at some point during in-person meetings it is inevitable a video is introduced as a training tool. While this is an important part of the training experience, it is also disruptive to the flow of training.

Instructional videos are often best sent to employee devices for remote viewing. This way, workers can maximize the effectiveness of hands-on training while having something to reinforce what they learned waiting for them later. Just as hotels work to keep guests present and in the moment while on property, so should training be used as efficiently as possible while key people are physically present to take advantage of it.

5. Speeding the Onboarding Process

Time, like labor, is in short supply. That is why hoteliers need to consider any tools at their disposal to assist with the onboarding process for new team members. While on-site meetings are traditional for the first day of training, remote curriculums are invaluable for helping new hires absorb information.

Remote training will be particularly effective for employees returning to the floor after an extended period of social distancing. Remote learning tools can help these workers get back into their zone of genius faster than otherwise. This way, hotels can focus on operating at the top of their form without neglecting the training of their newest workers.

To learn more about the Maestro PMS approach to on boarding your new property management software solution, or for a variety of tools to help you through technology evaluations, please, visit www.maestropms.com to download a series of tools to assist you.

 
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Finding dedicated workers and retaining them once they are trained has always been a challenge for hospitality, but in the current economic and social climate there is no time to waste on retraining workers only to lose them in the short term. In a market where acquiring skilled workers is the greatest challenge, retaining them becomes imperative.

As leisure travel begins to return and hotel occupancy increases, operators will be challenged to provide a high level of service to every guest on a limited staff. Hotels are not alone in seeking out new hires, as retail, restaurants, delivery services, and more are all bringing their workforces back at the same time.

According to Edward Gallier, head of Learning & Development at Jurys Inn & Leonardo Hotels UK & Ireland, a number of prior hotel employees were forced to find new positions during the pandemic. A significant portion of them are either not returning to hospitality or are actively considering new sectors.

“Hospitality has to fight for its place in the recruitment market,” Gallier said. “People today are making sure the next job they take is reliable and fits the lifestyle they’ve found for themselves over the last 14 months.”

Speaking Out

Hoteliers will need to embrace digital communication technology in order to onboard new employees and stay in contact with existing associates in the coming months. On one level, digital communications can help automate some of the onboarding process, freeing managers to continue to operate their properties at a high level. They also allow management to stay in contact with all associates in order to keep them up-to-date on operational changes, shifts in schedule, or for distributing training tips.

Hospitality turnover creates a number of unique challenges for operators right now because hotels are excellent training grounds for the development of a variety of professional skills, which often leave the industry never to return. According to Sandy Gentles, Vice President of Talent Point at Marriott International, hoteliers need to embrace communication as a key theme going forward when retaining employees, and seeking new ones.

“The key words right now are change, expectations, and communications,” Gentles said. “Everything about how we do business on property has changed. We need to communicate directly with returning front line associates in terms of what those changes are and why.”

Gentles elaborated that this should be an ongoing process, as hospitality is an ever-changing industry and associates may require weekly—or even daily—updates in order to operate at the highest level in some markets. Gallier agreed with this strategy, and challenged operators to foster a positive internal culture and a willingness to teach through improved internal communication.

“People will pick employers based on their reputation, but ultimately employers have to create a job role that is enticing, attached to a company culture that shows workers it is a great place to be,” Gallier said. “Hospitality has always had these elements, but in a discerning market it is necessary to find ways to stand out. A good employer will try harder to make their roles attractive.”

Over the last year, frontline hotel workers adapted to face masks, plastic barriers erected between them and guests, and sanitation guidelines that seemed to change each day. With vaccination rates increasing and the global economy slowly picking up steam, more changes are inevitable. Hoteliers must stay on top of shifts in the travel ecosystem, and they must be able to quickly, efficiently, and confidently share that information with guests and employees.

Lean Teams

All across the industry hoteliers have been finding ways to “do more with less.” Fewer guests meant fewer amenities and services, lower rates but also lower operating costs. Now hoteliers are being asked to do more with fewer associates, and this is simply not possible without the use of advanced communication technology. With it your hotel can operate at high level with a more efficiently sized team, while keeping these workers engaged.

Employee engagement comes in many forms. According to Gentles, operators showing a willingness to provide small concessions in order to improve an associate’s work or home life go a long way toward maintaining their interest at the property.

“Due to the pandemic there has been a need for greater flexibility when working with employees, since everyone’s lives have been disrupted,” Gentles said. “As hoteliers, we need to do whatever we can to keep our best employees on property. Something as simple as engineering a schedule that allows parents to spend more time with their children, or even 

arranging for childcare as kids come home from school, could eliminate the barriers to hospitality employment for many.”

Digital communication tools such as Beekeeper’s are perfect for organizing schedules such as these, allowing management to stay up to date on each employees’ status and needs. By organizing schedules this way, all hotel associates will be consistently informed as to who is working when, who needs assistance covering shifts, and how to get in contact with anyone necessary.

“Having a close and effective team has never mattered so much,” Gallier said. “The number of people on a shift team is definitely less. [Associates] need additional knowledge of products and services that are available, must stay updated on restrictions being lifted, and be able to share that information competently with guests and their co-workers. They can achieve this through support with data, technology, and their line manager.”

Rebounding Employees

Teamwork has never mattered as much as it does today, and as furloughed employees gradually step back on property hotel leadership will have to address the divide that may have formed between them and workers who stayed on during the pandemic. Gallier clarified that both groups of employees were forced to overcome different challenges during the pandemic, and both need to be addressed in unique ways in order for workers to feel valued.

“People have been forced to overcome a great deal of mental and physical tiredness during this period, and now some of them are coming back to work,” Gallier said. “Everyone dealt with the pandemic in their own way, but returning employees are coming back to a work environment that is very different from what they are used to. Employers cannot underplay the significance of that element.”

It has been often said that those who have returned to hospitality are the workers who truly want to be there, but Gentles cautioned the industry against relying on this way of thinking as a crutch to avoid confronting the current labor shortage and the retention challenge around the corner.

“When we say [workers] are coming back for passion, there is only so far that attitude will get us during this rehire,” Gentles said. “We have to understand what is driving their search for employment this time around, and that will be different for each associate and market but we have to become more efficient at understanding what those drivers are.”

Returning workers must also find commonality with those who stayed on during the pandemic, as both groups went through demonstratively different experiences following worker furloughs. Beekeeper’s technology can help new and returning workers stay in touch to speed up the onboarding process for each role, while providing a communication platform for workers to build rapport. These tools are also useful for helping existing employees acquaint themselves with newly developed roles during the labor shortage.

“[There is a need for] a team that can work cross-departments, cross roles, and have greater understanding and empathy for colleagues doing different roles,” Gallier said.

Worker Hospitality

The biggest trend going forward is the need for hoteliers to make their properties destinations not only for bookings, but for applicants. This means flexibility where it did not previously exist, a willingness to understand the hotel worker as much as the hotel guest, and a desire to extend hospitality to everyone under your property’s roof. Most importantly, hotels must use the visibility modern video and social media presents to get the word out about the value of their property and the potential for future growth within the industry.

According to Gallier, the long-term impact of labor disruption will be the rewriting of hotel roles, creating an environment that enables collaboration across the property, supported by a shared learning of hospitality skills.

“[Hospitality] has always been a business where it is easy to move sideways based on associate interests, and we have ladders in place for promotion and personal development,” Gallier said. “We are beginning to cultivate teams within hotels who are capable of working across departments and roles, based on the training we can provide both on hand and digitally.”

Gentles is optimistic about the future of hotel employment, and he looks forward to hospitality’s growing search for talent outside of typical channels.

“Opening the door to have [outside workers] move into hospitality is a game changer,” Gentles said. “We have the technology and the system in place to make anyone with a hospitality mindset successful on property. If we can connect with the right personality, the sky's the limit.”

Even as the industry overcomes the current hiring challenge it is facing, hoteliers will need to confront the challenge of  doing more with less and retaining these workers. Both Gentles and Gallier agreed that technology and a willingness to experiment with new operational strategies are key to overcoming these difficulties. Hospitality has just come out of one of the most difficult periods in its history, and the tools exist to help operators find continued success even in a landscape dominated by constant change.

 
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July 19, 2021 (OTTAWA) - The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses has released the following statement in response to today’s border announcement:

“The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses is pleased by today’s plan for reopening Canada’s border. Our businesses look forward to safely welcoming U.S. travellers in August and international travellers in September.

While this is welcome news, most tourism businesses lost our international travel summer season. This reopening alone will not save many of Canada’s businesses in the tourism, travel, hospitality, arts, festivals and events sectors from financial ruin this fall and winter.

Over the coming months, our industry is facing a perfect storm. The wage subsidy (CEWS) and fixed costs (CERS) support programs that kept us alive are sharply declining, while business and convention travel remain low, and Canadians think about travel south in the fall and winter.

Even with Canada’s border open to all fully vaccinated international travellers, Canada’s hardest hit businesses need tailored support to stay alive and employing almost two million people.”

 
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Washington (July 20, 2021) – Midway through 2021, a new report and state-by-state job loss breakdown released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) find that while leisure travel is starting to return, the hotel industry’s road to recovery from the pandemic is long and uneven, with urban markets disproportionately impacted.

Industry projections have improved since January with the uptick in leisure travel, but the industry remains well below pre-pandemic levels. Key findings include:

  1. More than one in five direct hotel operations jobs lost during the pandemic—nearly 500,000 in total—will not have returned by the end of the year
  2. Hotel occupancy is projected to drop ten percentage points from 2019 levels
  3. Hotel room revenue will be down $44 billion this year compared to 2019
  4. States and localities will have lost more than $20 billion in unrealized tax revenues from hotels over the past two years

The findings come as AHLA and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association host their Virtual Action Summit (July 20-22), where hoteliers from nearly every state across the country are scheduled to meet with members of Congress to share how COVID-19 impacted the industry and call for additional aid by urging Congress to:

  • Cosponsor and pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act (S.1519/H.R.3093)
  • Cosponsor and pass bills to establish fair per diem rates (H.R.2104/S.2160)
  • Help provide hoteliers access to the Employee Retention Tax Credit, which currently excludes many hoteliers

“Despite an uptick in leisure travel, midway through 2021 we’re still seeing that the road to a full recovery for America’s hotels is long and uneven. These findings show the economic devastation still facing hotel markets and underscore the need for targeted relief from Congress for hotel workers and small businesses,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA“Hotels and their employees have displayed extraordinary resilience in the face of unprecedented economic challenges, but whether it’s the Save Hotel Jobs Act, fair per diem rates, or expanding the aperture on the Employee Retention Tax Credit, we need Congress’ help on the way to a full recovery. That’s why the industry is united behind our Virtual Action Summit.”

COVID-19 is the single worst economic event in the history of the American hotel industry. While the recent uptick in leisure travel for summer is encouraging, business and group travel, the industry’s largest source of revenue, will take significantly longer to recover. Business travel is down and not expected to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023 or 2024. Major events, conventions and business meetings have also already been canceled or postponed until at least 2022.  

Despite being among the hardest hit by the pandemic, hotels are the only segment of the hospitality and leisure industry yet to receive direct COVID-related aid.

 

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