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MARKHAM, Ontario — Thankfully, the lingering pandemic of 2020 has not devastated every hotel in every market. Twin Peaks Lodge and Hot Springs, located in the tourist town of Ouray, Colorado, is weathering the health and economic crisis quite well due in part to its vast array of outdoor activities and its migration to Maestro PMS. Nearly doubling its accommodations footprint in 2018 and adding a spa required the independent lodge to find a new property-management system provider. Maestro PMS, with its sophisticated feature set and array of mobile and touchless technologies designed to reduce or eliminate the need for physical contact between guests and staff, proved to be the best choice.

“What a smart decision we made choosing Maestro,” said Twin Peaks Lodge and Hot Springs Assistant General Manager Beth Bridges. “We were growing and needed a super flexible property-management system that could grow right along with us; we anticipate reaching 250 rooms by 2024. We began looking for a single system that could run all front and back office operations, Sage Spa, and work with Mineshaft Restaurant’s Silverware POS. Maestro had everything we needed — the PMS with integrated ResWave online booking engine, yield management, enhanced GDS/OTA integration, central reservations, mobile housekeeping, a Spa and Activities module, and workorder management. What we did not foresee was just how well prepared we were to meet guests’ needs amidst a global health crisis.

“Maestro’s Self Check-In Kiosk partner integration is enabling us to register guests safely and meet social distancing requirements,” she said. “When guests arrive, they approach a kiosk rather than a front desk agent, enter their contact details, vehicle information, and electronically sign the digital registration card. All information is automatically saved in Maestro. The kiosk then prints out directions to the guest’s room, along with a map of the property, and dispenses their room key. It’s completely contactless, and guests and staff appreciate the simplicity. Of course, should a guest need personal assistance, our front desk team is standing by to help. This is just one of the many ways that Maestro is supporting us today.” 

In addition to kiosk-only check in, Twin Peaks Lodge and Hot Springs is limiting its lobby, Sage Spa, and pool access; stopping daily housekeeping (guests staying more than one night can request additional linens or toiletries by contacting the front desk and they can place trash outside their doors in provided bags); and sending digital receipts (no paper) to guests’ email addresses on file. The Mineshaft Restaurant is open for outdoor dining only from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The rest of the year, foodservice is available via online ordering with room delivery or pick up, and a continental style grab-and-go breakfast is available at the front desk for pick up, all managed through the unique integration between Maestro PMS and Silverware POS.

“Due to COVID restrictions, we’ve had to close the room that we typically used for breakfast,” Bridges said. “That service disruption turned into an opportunity, as we are now using Maestro’s Sales and Catering functionality to book that space for meetings. The 150-seat room is large enough to comfortably accommodate people 10-feet apart. Local companies have used it multiple times for training, and soon we have a teachers’ conference coming in. This is just another example of how Maestro is growing with us; their sales-and-catering module enabled us to create revenue opportunities. Now our new meeting business is centralized within Maestro.”

Bridges said today her team is only using a third of the functionality that Maestro PMS offers. Being able to successfully operate and manage her hotel and meet the contactless needs of today’s guests with limited use “speaks volumes about just how awesome Maestro really is.” In the future, Bridges said she hopes to leverage Maestro’s Condo Management module, as some of the units have private owners. Regarding Maestro’s service and support, Bridges calls it “super responsive.”

For more information on Maestro PMS, visit maestropms.com.

 
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OTTAWA — The federal government has launched the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP), which will provide financial support to businesses that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

HASCAP is designed to help businesses with their day-to-day operating costs during the COVID-19 crisis and enable them to invest in their longer-term prosperity. The funding is available to businesses across the country, in all sectors, that have been hit hard by the pandemic, including restaurants, tourism-and-hospitality businesses and those that rely on in-person service.

“We know that even the most resilient businesses continue to face incredible challenges,” says Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade. “We are launching the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program to help those businesses hit hardest by the pandemic with low-interest, government-backed loans. By investing in Canada’s businesses, as well as workers and their families, we are investing in our shared recovery and a better future for all.”

The program, which was originally outlined in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, will see the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) work with participating Canadian financial institutions to offer government-guaranteed, low-interest loans of up to $1 million. Hard-hit businesses such as a chain of hotels or restaurants with multiple locations under one related entity, could be eligible for up to $6.25 million.

The program offers up to a 10-year re-payment term with a four-per-cent fixed interest rate, as well as a postponement of principal re-payments of up to 12 months at the start of the loan. The loan proceeds from HASCAP can’t be used to pay down an existing debt/lease facility.

The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) has also stated that, in a special advance technical briefing on HASCAP with senior leaders at the BDC and Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, BDC indicated it will consider loan application for more than $1-million per entity in circumstances where individual hotel properties are not separately incorporated.

To be eligible for HASCAP, businesses need to show a year-over-year revenue decline of at least 50 per cent in three months, within the eight months prior to their application. They must also be able to show their financial institutions that they have previously applied for either the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) or the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS).

Eligible businesses can start applying as early as February 1 at principal financial institutions and more widely by February 15. Interested businesses are directed to contact their primary lender to get more information and to apply. Additional information is also available at bdc.ca.

HAC is also planning a special Q&A webinar with BDC officials to help members prepare to apply for HASCAP. Further details on this event are expected in the coming days.

 
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WASHINGTON (January 21, 2020)The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today released “AHLA’s State of the Hotel Industry 2021” outlining the forecasted state of the hotel industry in 2021 and into the immediate future. The report examines the high-level economics of the hotel industry’s recovery, the specific impact on and eventual return of business travel, and consumer travel sentiments.

The pandemic has been devastating to the hospitality industry workforce, which is down nearly 4 million jobs compared to the same time in 2019. While some 200,000 jobs are expected to be filled this year, overall, the accommodations sector faces an 18.9% unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, half of U.S. hotel rooms are projected to remain empty in 2021.

Business travel, which comprises the largest source of hotel revenue, remains nearly nonexistent, but it is expected to begin a slow return in the second half of 2021. Among frequent business travelers who are currently employed, 29% expect to attend their first business conference in the first half of 2021, 36% in the second half of the year and 20% more than a year from now. Business travel is not expected to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023 or 2024. 

Leisure travel is expected to return first, with consumers optimistic about national distribution of a vaccine and with that an ability to travel again in 2021. The report found that heading into 2021, consumers are optimistic about travel, with 56% of Americans saying they are likely to travel for leisure or vacation in 2021. While 34% of adults are already comfortable staying in a hotel, 48% say their comfort is tied to vaccination in some way.

The top findings from this report include:

  1. Hotels will add 200,000 direct hotel operations jobs in 2021 but will remain nearly 500,000 jobs below the industry’s pre-pandemic employment level of 2.3 million employees. 
  2. Half of U.S. hotel rooms are projected to remain empty.
  3. Business travel is forecasted to be down 85% compared to 2019 through April 2021, and then only begin ticking up slightly. 
  4. 56% of consumers say they expect to travel for leisure, roughly the same amount as in an average year.  
  5. Nearly half of consumers see vaccine distribution as key to travel.
  6. When selecting a hotel, enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices rank as guests’ number two priority, behind price. 

“COVID-19 has wiped out 10 years of hotel job growth. Yet the hallmark of hospitality is endless optimism, and I am confident in the future of our industry,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA.

“Despite the challenges facing the hotel industry, we are resilient. Hotels across the country are focused on creating an environment ready for guests when travel begins to return. AHLA is eager to work with the new Administration and Congress on policies that will ultimately help bring back travel, from helping small business hoteliers keep their doors open to ramping up vaccine distribution and testing. Together, we can bring back jobs and reignite a continued investment in the communities we serve,” said Rogers.

The resurgence of COVID-19, the emergence of new strains, and a slow vaccine rollout have added to the challenges the hotel industry faces this year. With travel demand continuing to lag normal levels, national and state projections for 2021 show a slow rebound for the industry and then accelerating in 2022.

The hotel industry experienced the most devastating year on record in 2020, resulting in historically low occupancy, massive job loss, and hotel closures across the country. Hotels were one of the first industries affected by the pandemic after travel was forced to a virtual halt in early 2020, and it will be one of the last to recover. The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry so far has been nine times that of 9/11.

 
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January 26, 2021 (OTTAWA, ON) – The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) is pleased to see the launch of the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP). Announced by the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, HASCAP will provide financial support to businesses that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

The industry applauds other government support programs such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), which have provided some much-needed relief for the sector. However, even with this support, liquidity remains a significant challenge, making this program necessary and much needed.

“Our industry was one of the first hit by this pandemic and it will be the last to recover,” said Susie Grynol, HAC President & CEO. “We have been calling on the government to implement a tailored loan program for the hardest hit since last Spring, and today it has come to fruition. We applaud their recognition of this need and we are optimistic that the roll out will be smooth and efficient.”

HASCAP will address a number of the gaps in the previously announced Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) including a government guarantee, low-interest, liquidity of up to $1 million per property, a 10 year amortization period and no personal guarantees. Related entities will have access of up to $6.25 million.

“Results from our latest Hardest Hit Coalition survey demonstrate that without new financing, over 40% will not make it to the end of February,” added Grynol. “This announcement could not have come at a more critical time and we wish to thank Ministers Ng, Freeland, Joly and the Prime Minister for standing by our sector to help us get to the other side of recovery.”

Hoteliers will be able to apply for HASCAP through their primary lender as early as February 1st at principal financial institutions and more widely by February 15th. For more information, please visit www.bdc.ca/hascap.

 
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Chicago — January 26, 2021 — Today hotels with in-room voice assistants powered by Volara can enable their guests to leave a gratuity for hotel staff by simply scanning a QR code on Google’s Hotel Solution or uttering a voice command to Amazon’s Alexa. Through a new integration partnership between Volara, the voice hub for hotels, and youtip, a contactless, cashless and “appless” gratuity system for frontline hotel workers, guests now have a contactless way to reward good service without leaving cash or having to download an app. Not only does this solution enable operators to add more money to their employees’ paychecks, but it enhances the hotel’s contactless safety initiative.

“When I read about youtip launching a digital tipping solution, I saw an immediate advantage to featuring their QR code for digital tipping on our contactless guest engagement and touchless room controls solutions,” said Volara CEO Dave Berger. “We firmly believe that today’s frontline hotel workers — who are putting themselves at risk every day during this pandemic — should have every opportunity to safely receive a gratuity. With fewer people carrying cash, and even less service workers feeling comfortable receiving it, leveraging the in-room voice assistant to leave a tip is a no brainer.

“I have had the pleasure to work with youtip Co-founder and CEO Sarah Taveprungsenukul on other integrations in the past and knew that we could quickly bring this joint technology to market,” Berger said. “We believe this collaboration will make adding voice assistants to guestrooms even more valuable to operators, staff, and guests, as voice command is truly the safest way to communicate today.”

Volara provides platform agnostic voice-based conversation management software and a secure integrations hub that voice-enables existing hotel technologies. Its software turns the major natural language processing platforms into a business tool that drives more efficient customer service. In addition to facilitating digital tipping via the Google Hotel Solution, Volara is also enabling guests to ask the popular voice assistant to make calls, play music, watch shows, bring them toiletries, book services, turn on/off TVs, set alarms and more without ever lifting a finger. Guests also are accessing a range of entertainment, information, recommendations, and services just by speaking in their rooms.

Volara can also voice enable digital tipping via youtip on Amazon Alexa devices. Guests simply say things like: “Alexa, leave a tip for the housekeeper.” In addition to leaving a tip, guests will have the opportunity to quickly rate service and leave feedback for the hotel staff.

“We are thrilled that Volara stepped up to be the first integration partner for youtip,” Taveprungsenukul said. “The sky is the limit to youtip’s integration potential. By placing a QR code for digital tipping on Google Nest Hubs or enabling Amazon Alexa devices to initiate the tipping process on voice command, we are enabling operators to put more money in employees’ paychecks, and they can simultaneously benefit from our full transactional reporting and rating and review feature. It’s a win for everyone involved.”

youtip can integrate with other critical business solutions, such as the property-management systems, point-of-sale systems, accounting/payroll solutions, service optimization systems, and voice/text technologies for hotels. Technology companies in the hospitality space who feel their solution, when tied to youtip, will further help hoteliers to recognize and reward today’s unsung heroes are encouraged to contact youtip at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

youtip is PCI compliant and utilizes the built-in security of Apple’s Apple Pay and Google’s G Pay. The company charges a convenience fee on every transaction to the person leaving the tip. QR codes can be leveraged to process both pooled and individual gratuities.

“We are waiving system subscription fees through the end of 2021 to help the hospitality industry recover as quickly as possible,” Taveprungsenukul said, noting that charges may apply for design customizations and third-party integrations, such as PMS, payroll systems and branded mobile applications. “What we are most excited about through this technology launch is that youtip solves two key problems for the service industry: 1) Fewer people are carrying cash, and 2) increased demand for contactless services.”

For more information on youtip, visit www.youtip.money. For questions about business customization, integration, or enterprise deployment, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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