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.


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:


LOS ANGELES (January 28, 2019)The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today announced its 2019 Officers, Board of Directors and Executive Committee, which includes top leaders representing all segments of the hospitality industry.

Notably, Geoff Ballotti, President & CEO of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, was named chair of the board, Jon Bortz, Chairman, President & CEO of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust as vice chair, Justin Knight, President & CEO of Apple Hospitality REIT, joins the officer slate as secretary/treasurer and Dave Johnson, president & CEO of Aimbridge Hospitality, will continue in his role as chair of the Board of Trustees. Ballotti succeeds Mark Carrier, President, B.F. Saul Company Hospitality Group, who has served as chair for the past two years and becomes immediate past chair.

“I’m honored to serve as chair of AHLA at such a pivotal and exciting time for our association and our industry as a whole,” said Ballotti. “The past year has been one of AHLA’s strongest yet, with a wave of momentum around our most important issues. I want to thank Mark Carrier for his outstanding leadership as AHLA chairman over the past two years as AHLA was out front positioning our industry around the critical jobs and career development we foster for our current workforce and aspiring young talented individuals who seek jobs in our dynamic industry through the work of our association and foundation. I’m excited to begin the next chapter for our industry, welcoming our incoming president & CEO Chip Rogers, and building on that momentum to achieve even more success in the future.”

Incoming AHLA President & CEO Chip Rogers addressed the AHLA Board of Directors during its January meeting. He officially takes the helm of AHLA today, January 28. At the meeting, Rogers noted the incredible momentum from AHLA in 2018 around advancing its policy agenda as well as improving member engagement, growing HotelPAC to record levels, strengthening its premier partnership program and building out new, high-value events and thought leadership platforms.

“It is an honor to be joining AHLA and leading an association that makes such a positive difference for so many people,” said Rogers. “The lodging industry is truly remarkable, creating opportunities for millions of hardworking people and providing a home away from home for Americans and international visitors alike. AHLA represents the pinnacle trade association of the lodging industry, and the American Hotel and Lodging Foundation has advanced the education and careers of thousands of industry leaders. That’s due in no small part to the leadership of Katherine Lugar, the strong AHLA team and the commitment of the AHLA Officers, Board and Executive Committee as well as our Foundation Trustees. I look forward to building on Katherine’s legacy and working closely with our distinguished Board of Directors, Executive Committee and Trustees as we continue to move AHLA and our industry forward.”

The AHLA Board of Directors represents leaders from all sectors of the lodging industry, including brands, owners and real estate investment trusts (REITs), management companies, independent hotels and state associations.

Click [HERE] to view the 2019 AHLA Board of Directors.

New members of the board appointed to two-year terms in 2019 include:

Owner Representatives

Joe Berger, President & CEO, BRE Hotels & Resorts

Krissy Gathright, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Apple Hospitality REIT

Sean Mahoney, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, RLJ Lodging Trust

Mitch Patel, President & CEO, Vision Hospitality Group

Steven Siegel, Partner and Chief Operating Officer, KSL Capital Partners, LLC

Nate Tyrrell, Executive Vice President & Chief Investment Officer, Host Hotels & Resorts

Management Company Representatives

Ted Darnall, CEO Lodging &Technical Services Companies, HEI Hotels

Sloan Dean, COO, Remington Hotels

Michael George, Founder, President, and CEO, Crescent Hotels & Resorts

Thomas Penny, President, Donohoe Hospitality

Independent Representatives

Jack Damioli, President & CEO, The Broadmoor

John Tolbert, President/ Managing Director, Boca Raton Resort & Club

Allied Representatives

Reggie Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Cvent

Michael Leone, Chief Commercial Officer, PSAV

Tammy Weinbaum, Executive Vice President-Global Client Group, Global Merchant Services, American Express Compay

At-Large Representatives

Catherine Powell, President, Disney Parks Western Region, Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products

Kate Walsh, Dean and E.M. Statler Professor, School of Hotel Administration, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

Additionally, AHLA welcomed four new members to its Executive Committee, which serves as the association's core governance body and guides its policy agenda.

Click [HERE] to view the 2019 AHLA Executive Committee.

New Representatives on the Executive Committee

Leslie Hale, CEO, RLJ Lodging Trust 

Walter Isenberg, President & CEO, Sage Hospitality

Stephen Bartolin, Jr., Chairman of The Broadmoor and President of The Broadmoor-Sea Island Company

Rob Palleschi, President & CEO, G6 Hospitality LLC

AHLA’s success would not be possible without the support of its partner organizations. The AHLA Premier Partner Program offers industry vendors and suppliers the opportunity to engage directly with AHLA members at an executive level and increase brand visibility.

AHLA 2019 Premier Partners

Platinum: American Express, CventHcareers a Virgil Company, PSAV, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, STR Inc.
Gold: Avendra LLC, Brand USA, Ecolab
Silver: Pearson


Atlanta, GA – January 28, 2019 – Today, Atlanta-based hotel owner, operator and developer, Hotel Equities (HE), announced they have been selected as the management firm for the 394-room Westin Prince Toronto. The luxury resort style hotel is located at 900 York Mills Road in North York and offers 28,000 square feet of versatile event space. The ownership group has invested in a major renovation including guest rooms and public space. The renovations are expected to be completed in the summer of 2019.

“I’m proud to announce the addition of this beautiful hotel to our portfolio,” said Joe Reardon, Chief Development Officer for HE. “We [Hotel Equities] are celebrating our 30thanniversary this year and are thrilled to help kick-off the celebration with further growth into the luxury category with this four diamond resort. The landmark hotel was built to the highest standards.”

The Westin Prince, Toronto showcases luxurious accommodations in a resort-style setting. The oversized guestrooms and suites feature contemporary amenities, high speed Wi-Fi, signature Heavenly® Beds and expansive windows with views of a lush park or cityscape. The resort employs 400+ team members dedicated to exceeding guest expectations.

“Our entire team is honored to partner with and support the associates at the Westin Prince, Toronto,” said SVP of Operations for HE, Bryan DeCort. “Hotel Equities’ accelerated growth in Canada allows us to scale our best-in-class service delivery and performance results to provide immediate impact for our owners.”

The Westin Prince, Toronto offers guests two on-site restaurant options to fit their mood. The Katsura is one of Toronto’s most popular and authentic Japanese restaurants, featuring a sushi bar and private tatami rooms for a more intimate setting. Seasons at The Prince offers a more informal dining experience and provides American cuisine in a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. Stay refreshed while away from home by taking a dip in the heated outdoor pool, utilize the on-site tennis courts or exhilarate your body in the WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studio.

“The Hotel Equities team is professional and experienced in operating a vast range of hotel classes from select service to resort-style properties,” said Maggie Zhang, owner representative. “Their diverse and expansive portfolio of hotels throughout North America, as well as their ability to be nimble and deliver top results is impressive. The HE leadership team is devoted to ensuring their associates remain engaged through a deep-rooted culture that comes from the top. We are thrilled to partner with them to manage our asset.”

The Westin Prince, Toronto is a haven amid a vibrant urban landscape and offers guests a location in close proximity to the city’s exciting attractions, such as the Ontario Science Centre, the Toronto ZooCanada's Wonderland and CN Tower.


Ottawa (Ontario) – January 28, 2019

The Canadian hotelier Group Germain Hotels and the Ottawa International Airport Authority announced today the construction of the Alt Hotel Ottawa Airport, an investment of $40 million. The hotel will have 180 comfortable and modern rooms on eight floors. The meeting rooms (about 3,000 square feet) and a restaurant will be located on the top floor of the new building, providing an incomparable 3600 view of the airport’s operations. An indoor skywalk will connect the hotel to the airport terminal for ease of use of travelers. The hotel is scheduled to open late 2020.

“This announcement marks an important milestone for Group Germain Hotels. It means that we have reached our goal of 20 hotels by 2020, and we are extremely proud of this achievement,” says Jean-Yves Germain co-president Group Germain Hotels. “Since we set out this ambitious goal, our teams have been working relentlessly to find the best locations to establish our three hotel brands across Canada, this was a tremendous collaborative effort,” adds Christiane Germain co-president Group Germain Hotels. “We are well on our way to reaching our ultimate goal which is to become the first Canadian independent hotelier group to be present all across Canada,” they both concluded.

The Alt Hotel Ottawa Airport will be Group Germain Hotels’ third property in Canada’s Capital Region. The first Alt Hotel, located in the business district, opened in 2016 and in the spring of 2018, Le Germain Hotel welcomed its first guests. YOW will be the third Alt Hotel to open in a terminal airport location confirming the growing demand for airport stays.

“After more than a year of due diligence, we found the ideal site and partner to develop a YOW terminal-connected hotel” said Mark Laroche, President and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority. “This development, plus LRT connectivity, plus our pre-board screening and concession revitalization plans underline YOW’s commitment to serving the growing demands of Canada’s Capital Region’s residents and visitors. We invite our passengers and partners to follow our development projects at”

Once again, Group Germain Hotels will be relying on Montreal-based LemayMichaud Architecture Design to bring to life the vibrant and unconventional Alt style to life in this new hotel. Comfortable and well-thought-out rooms with ergonomic workstations, sleek urban design with an eco-friendly environment, lobbies designed so that guests can socialize, relax or have impromptu meetings, as well as fitness rooms accessible 24/7, are all Alt Hotel signature elements. Other Alt Hotels amenities include ultra-fast free WI-FI, and Chromecast streaming media players allowing our guests to watch their favorite content as though they were at home! Also, dogs are welcome and there is no set check out time when guests book directly with us, giving them plenty of time to relax before their next flight!


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