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What You Can Do To Increase Holiday Occupancy At Your Hotel This Year

by
Stefano Mocella
3 days ago

You may be thinking it’s early to start talking about the holiday season, but as a hotelier, now is the best time to prepare for the Christmas season. Why? With so much competition for rooms and heightened expectations in guest experiences, you need to plan ahead if you want this to be a happy holiday season for your bottom line. Keep in mind many folks had travel plans last year that went by the wayside and are now looking to make up for a lost year. Early data from Travel & Leisure shows that December bookings jumped by 15% compared to 2019 (pre-pandemic levels) in July. Keep in mind, Christmas bookings typically peak in October and November. After missing out on 2020 travel, guests will want to ensure wherever they book their Christmas getaway will deliver an unforgettable experience. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to get guests through your doors without spending a fortune on decorating your property or getting too gimmicky. Here are some holiday hotel marketing ideas that can make this a year to remember for your property.   Leverage Email Marketing If you haven’t been using email marketing to its fullest potential, you’ve been missing out. It’s one of the best ways to get into the minds of potential guests (and stay there). Make this a priority for the holiday season and while you’re at it, chalk it down as a New Year's Resolution. If you’ve been collecting email addresses of past guests in a responsible manner, it’s time to get your Christmas offers out to them. You can get creative with your offers, from a special package or prepare a special holiday menu in your restaurant. Either way, it’s a good time to start engaging with potential guests and pique their interest.   Offer Prizes and Creative Giveaways People love the chance to win prizes, particularly on social media. It’s why we see so many polls and hashtag challenges or merely entering a contest by tagging friends. Contests are an effective way to get some user-generated content for your hotel’s marketing campaigns. Contests can be something as simple as asking people to send their best (or funniest) Christmas outfits or best home decoration and in return they can win a discounted stay at your hotel or perhaps win a free spa day with their stay. You’ll be surprised at how many people will jump at the chance to win; not to mention it’s a great way to boost engagement on your social media channels.   Show Your Holiday Spirit with Deals There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with this one. Everyone loves a good deal and sometimes simple works best. Guests will be looking to save a buck where they can, given how expensive the holiday season can be already. Reducing your standard room rate or offering a discount on a suite might just give you the edge in securing more bookings. Sharing such deals on social media will also get you plenty of attention if the deal is of significant value. Provided you have a powerful channel manager, you can ensure your holiday rates are distributed among your biggest booking channels. There’s nothing to lose in trying, particularly if your goal is full occupancy for the holidays.   Create a Landing Page on Your Website If you’ll be offering deals, then it’s vital to create a separate landing page on your website. This will give you an area on your site to market and focus your holiday bundles. If you bury your Christmas packages and offers within your existing room rates, it’s going to slip by a lot of eyes. If you have a dedicated festive area, you can have some fun with it by adding some cool design effects and throw in some holiday puns in your room description.   What Will Your F&B Program Look Like? If there’s one commonality for the holidays, it’s that everyone wants to let loose and enjoy some mouthwatering comfort food. Your hotel’s holiday offerings shouldn’t just be about decorating and offering special room rates. If you have an on-site restaurant and/or bar, putting together a special holiday menu will capture everyone’s Christmas spirit. There will be plenty who will jump at the chance of booking a Christmas meal or throwing a mini holiday party for their business. And once patrons book with you for a meal, those might just turn into room bookings if you mention the type of accommodations you offer.    Happy Bookings! The holiday season could be stressful for hoteliers, but this should also be your most exciting time of the year. With all-in-one PMS systems like roomMaster Anywhere, you can ensure that you have all the tools you need to maximize holiday bookings for 2021 and beyond. If you start planning now, it could be your most profitable period of the year.  

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2021)

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 days ago

Did you know the average small business uses 40 different software applications, and the average hotel uses around 20? In an ideal world, every system in your hotel’s tech stack would help you automate tasks, reduce costs, grow revenue, and deliver a five-star guest experience. But we understand that getting up-to-date on the myriad of technology solutions available to hotels can be daunting! Where do you even start? In this article, we’ll introduce you to each piece of the hotel technology landscape, from revenue management to reputation management and everything in between. Drawing on insights from over 10,000 hotel software reviews written by hoteliers across the globe, this article will also highlight some top software vendors in each category. For more detailed testimonials and additional software choices, you’ll want to click over to the full list of vendors. Let’s dive in!     9 Hotel Operations Software Tools that Drive Efficiency This category of software includes the most essential technology for hotel operations: checking guests in, reconciling accounts, handling payroll, and getting feedback from guests. Your hotel’s size and complexity will determine which systems you need; small, limited-service hotels might be fine with a PMS and a payment processor, but a large resort could benefit from each category of software. 1. Property management systems (PMS): The PMS is the central hub for hotel operations. In this system, staff can check guests in and out, create and manage reservations, pull financial reports, manage guest profiles, and more. According to user reviews and analysis of system functionality, the top PMSs are Cloudbeds, Clock, and HotelTime, though there are over a hundred more great systems on the market. 2. Staff collaboration tools: Hotel staff are scattered across different floors, buildings, and shifts, so a communication platform is necessary to keep everyone on the same page. Systems like hotelkit, Monscierge, and ALICE can replace analog methods like walkie-talkies and logbooks, plus they can track tasks, reduce manual errors, and increase efficiency. 3. Housekeeping and engineering software: These tools digitize the operations of your housekeeping and maintenance departments, with the ability to automate task assignment, monitor real-time status of rooms or issues, and track task completion. Top software in this category includes hotelkit, Flexkeeping, and ALICE. 4. Guest feedback and surveys: Do away with the paper comment cards and give guests a digital platform to voice their feedback, such as GuestRevu, TrustYou, or Revinate. Not only are these tech solutions easy for guests to use, but they also allow hoteliers to customize, automate, and analyze guest comments and complaints. 5. Accounting and reporting: If your hotel accepts payments from guests and issues payments to employees and vendors, then you’ll benefit from an accounting and reporting system like myDigitalOffice, M3, or Omniboost. A modern accounting system reveals opportunities to reduce costs and maximize revenue, plus makes your accounting team more efficient with automated reports and integrations with other on-site software. 6. Payments Processing: Most guests prefer to pay for their reservations with credit cards, but a payment processing system is necessary to get the funds from the guest’s card into your hotel’s bank account. Payment processors like Profitroom, Mews Payments, and Adyen charge a small processing fee, but they make getting paid as seamless as possible. 7. Labor management: Hotels have dozens, if not hundreds, of employees, so scheduling is no easy task. Software such as Hotel Effectiveness’ PerfectLabor™, M3, and UniFocus include forecasting, insight into labor costs, and integrations with payroll and timekeeping systems.  8. Meetings and events: Whether your hotel has one private dining room or several floors of ballrooms and breakout spaces, meetings and events software can support every step of the sales and planning process - and the event itself. Highly rated meetings and events software includes Proposales, Event Temple, and Blockbuster by Duetto. 9. F&B and point-of-sale systems: The pandemic accelerated demand for features like contactless menus and online ordering, so there has been a huge wave of innovation in the F&B software space. Vendors like RoomOrders, Bbot, and Oracle’s MICROS can help restaurants modernize their operations, cut costs, reduce reliance on delivery platforms, and strengthen relationships with customers.   7 Revenue Management Tech Systems that Improve Yield Strategy The goal of revenue management is to sell the right room to the right guest at the right price, and revenue managers leverage a variety of software to achieve their RevPAR goals. 1. Revenue management systems (RMS): The secret weapon of any revenue manager is the RMS; this system analyzes historical data, market supply and demand, and forecasts to recommend the rates most likely to maximize revenue and profitability. You might also hear revenue management software like IDeaS, Duetto’s Gamechanger, or Atomize referred to as “yield management systems” or “pricing engines.” 2. Channel managers: A channel manager is the link between a hotel’s property management system and distribution channels like Booking.com, Expedia, and the GDS. Channel managers such as SiteMinder, Cloudbeds’ myallocator, and D-EDGE’s Smart Channel Manager allow hoteliers to make changes in one system, their PMS, rather than managing rates on each channel individually. 3. Central reservation systems (CRS): Larger hotels or hotels that are part of a chain or group might use a CRS to centralize all bookings, whether they’re made by call center staff, the hotel’s own website, or a third-party channel. The CRS will then send reservations to the PMS for room assignments. Popular CRSs include Pegasus, Windsurfer, and GuestCentric CRS. 4. Rate shopping and market intelligence: A key to revenue management success is selling competitive rates, but how do you know what your competitors are selling? Rate shopping tools, like OTA Insight, Siteminder Insights, and D-EDGE RateScreener, do the heavy lifting for you and present competitor rates and market forecasts in user-friendly dashboards and reports. 5. Parity management: OTAs ask hotels to provide rate parity, meaning selling the same rate across all channels, and, as a hotelier, you don’t want OTAs to sell cheaper rates than your hotel’s website. Parity management tools, like OTA Insight, FornovaDI, and Triptease give hoteliers access to dashboards that monitor rates across all channels in real-time. 6. Business intelligence: Revenue managers love data, but sometimes all that data is too much for Excel to handle. Business intelligence tools offer better solutions for slicing, dicing, and visualising data through dashboards and reports suitable for studying historical performance or predicting the future. Top BI applications include OTA Insight, Scoreboard by Duetto, and ProfitSage. 7. Upselling Software: Driving incremental revenue per guest is possible with upselling tools that automate the entire process - and use profile data and historical trends to serve the most compelling, personalized offers to each guest, like room upgrades or F&B items. Tools like Oaky, EasyWay Smart Upselling, and GuestJoy also enable hoteliers to start the upselling process before the guest arrives on property.   9 Guest Experience Platforms to Improve Satisfaction Scores How do you create a five-star guest experience in the digital age? A plethora of systems exist to delight guests, from contactless check-in solutions to modern in-room entertainment. 1. Guest messaging: Messaging platforms allow hotels to communicate with guests via their preferred platform: text messaging, email, or even apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Top-rated systems like Monscierge, Whistle, and EasyWay support automated messaging and one central dashboard where staff can respond. 2. Keyless entry: Keyless entry software enables a guest to unlock their room or other secure areas like gyms or pools with a wave of their smartphone. Systems like Mobile Access by ASSA ABLOY, FLEXIPASS, and Openkey.co offer integrations with PMSs for a seamless arrival experience. 3. Guest apps: Digitize your in-room directory with a hotel app like ALICE, INTELITY, or Duve. These downloadable apps put everything guests need to know at their fingertips, from contact info and directions to room service menus and local recommendations.  4. Contactless check-in: In the wake of the pandemic, guests prefer a contactless arrival process, and software like EasyWay, Canary, and Duve make it easy for hotels to pivot to a fully digital check-in. Functionality includes ID scanning, digital registration cards, upselling, payment processing, and arrival time coordination. 5. In-room tablets: Just like the smartphone replaced our digital cameras and rolodexes, an in-room tablet can replace your rooms’ telephones, directories, room service menus, TV remotes, thermostats, and more. Tablet providers like SuitePad, Crave Interactive, and INTELITY are even proven to increase guest satisfaction and revenue. 6. Energy management: These systems have two goals: decrease your hotel’s energy costs and reduce your hotel’s environmental impact. Vendors like Verdant Energy Management Solutions, Telkonet, and EcoStruxure are designed with hotels in mind and seek to not only decrease costs, but also enhance the guest experience. 7. Guest room entertainment: Today’s guests want more than local cable channels on their guestroom TVs; systems like Monscierge ZAFIRO IPTV, and Sonifi provide interactive content and entertainment for all types of hotels, plus additional marketing and engagement opportunities you couldn’t get with traditional TV. 8. Mobile ordering/F&B: Bbot, RoomOrders, SABA F&B Ordering, and other systems provide an essential piece of technology for hotels and restaurants: mobile ordering. With this software, guests and customers can access menus, place orders, and pay from their smartphones, and F&B outlets can better manage order fulfillment and deliver an end-to-end contactless experience. 9. Hotel Wi-Fi: What was once a premium add-on is now an essential amenity at hotels, especially with a growing segment of travelers working remotely. To offer reliable high-speed internet access, hotels can partner with vendors like Cisco (Meraki), Percipia, or GuestTek that offer implementation services and ongoing support.   9 Marketing Tools to Lower Acquisition Costs and Drive Direct Bookings Of course, you don’t need any of the software listed above if nobody knows about your hotel! Marketing software allows you to tap into new audiences of guests and build relationships with your existing guest base. 1. Booking engines: For hoteliers seeking to increase direct business, a booking engine is essential. This software allows guests to book reservations on your hotel’s website by displaying rates and availability from your PMS, then integrating reservations into the PMS. Cloudbeds, Bookassist, and SiteMinder offer some of the best booking engines.  2. Reputation management: A reputation management tool helps you request, track, analyze, and respond to guest reviews across sites like Tripadvisor and Google and your own surveys. Some of the industry leaders are TrustYou, GuestRevu, and Revinate, and they can even assist in increasing guest review scores by revealing insights about guest sentiment. 3. Website builders and content management systems (CMS): Outsourcing your website design isn’t necessary with a CMS; these tools allow you to build, edit, and organize website pages and content, and they support integrations with booking engines, payment processors, widgets and more. Smart CMS by Bookassist, Profitroom, and Net Affinity are some of the top website builders. 4. Direct booking tools: If you want to increase direct bookings, then an app like Triptease, Hotelchamp, or TrustYou can boost the number of shoppers who complete bookings on your hotel’s website. These tools let you display personalized messages, snippets of guest reviews, price comparison widgets, and more - all of which give guests reasons to book direct instead of on an OTA. 5. Digital marketing agencies: Don’t have the time or resources to handle digital marketing in-house? A digital marketing agency can lend their expertise to help your hotel succeed in search engine marketing, social media, content creation, and PR. Bookassist, Avvio, and Net Affinity are some of the leaders in this space. 6. Social media tools: Whether you’re trying to build a new audience or stay in touch with past guests, social media is an important component of your hotel’s marketing strategy. Social media vendors like BCV, Sprout Social, and Travel Media Group can help you achieve your reach and engagement goals. 7. Metasearch and ad tech: Metasearch channels, like Google, Kayak, and Tripadvisor, are powerful drivers of traffic to your hotel website - if you leverage them effectively. These sites require special connectivity and a bidding strategy, and tools like Bookassist, Avvio, and Koddi will help you manage budgets, track attribution, and understand market dynamics. 8. Website live chat/chatbots: Potential guests shopping on your website want answers now - without needing to pick up the phone. A chatbot, like one from Asksuite, Quicktext, or Whistle, use artificial intelligence to answer guest questions quickly and accurately, plus capture leads and increase conversion on your website. 9. Hotel CRM: Your database of guest email addresses is a gold mine - if you can leverage it strategically. A CRM system, such as Revinate, Profitroom, and dailypoint 360, allows you to capture email addresses on your website, send automated messages throughout the guest’s journey, create segments of profiles with specific characteristics, and analyze open rates, click-through rates, and conversion.   F&B and MICE The food and beverage and meetings and events components of the hotel industry have their own technology solutions too. Whether you’re trying to streamline your room service offerings or support citywide conferences in a maze of meeting spaces, you can find software to help you execute any type of service or event. 1. Restaurant management: In order to run a restaurant smoothly, restaurateurs leverage point-of-sale software to manage stock in real-time, handle transactions, reserve tables, run reports, and more. Popular restaurant management software includes Vento ePOS, Oracle MICROS, and Lightspeed POS. 2. Mobile ordering and room service: Contactless service is the latest trend in F&B, but it seems likely to become the norm. Mobile ordering systems, such as Bbot, RoomOrders, and SABA F&B Ordering, allow restaurants to upload digital menus, accept online orders, and receive contactless payments, and customers can feel confident in more efficient service and accurate orders and bills. 3. Meetings and events intelligence: This category of software aims to help hoteliers maximize their meetings and events business by understanding market dynamics, uncovering insights about attendees, and optimizing pricing and space usage. Top meetings and events intelligence tools include Blockbuster by Duetto, IDeaS (SmartSpace), and Get Into More. 4. Group sourcing and RFP tools: Without software to assist, the RFP process is tedious. RFP software, such as Proposales, MeetingPackage, and Venuesuite, moves this process online and helps you to automate it, making all the back-and-forth more efficient and helping sales teams reach their goals. 5. Event management: Software doesn’t just help your sales team seal the deal, but also to plan and execute the event itself. Event Temple, Tripleseat, EVENTMACHINE, and others provide functionality to send proposals, get e-signatures, manage traces, communicate with clients, and create and edit BEOs and agendas.   Looking for more resources on hotel industry software? Download the free 2021 HotelTechIndex Market Leaders Report.

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Preno Review: Hotel Management Software that Puts Independent Properties on Autopilot

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

It’s not always easy to choose a property management system (PMS) when there are a variety of options out there. But picking a PMS is one of the more important and impactful decisions you will have as a hotel manager. The right technology can help you achieve your business goals, and the wrong system can add tedious (and often stressful, unnecessary) work for your accommodation - which might result in a less than ideal guest experience. In this article, we’ll walk through the features and functionality of Preno’s hotel management software that is helping independent hotel operators automate time-consuming daily tasks.  In addition to Preno's core property management system that is perfect for independent hoteliers, Preno's all-in-one hotel software suite also includes a channel manager and booking engine.   Preno’s Automations are Designed to Save You Valuable Time Let’s take a look at the various modules that owners, managers, and staff would use on a daily basis.   Reservation Management The reservation page is intuitively designed and straightforward; on this page you can see all information pertaining to a given reservation, like the guest’s name, contact info, payment method, and communication history. The interface is clean and easy to read, meaning that even a front desk agent with no experience will be able to learn the system in 20 minutes - with free training provided.     Payments and Accounting are a Total Breeze with Preno Also on the reservation page, you’ll find secure credit card information and payment history associated with that specific booking and guest. When a guest books on your property website using Preno’s booking engine, credit card info will flow into Preno via a powerful integration with preferred payment gateway app ‘Stripe’ Guest credit card details will be safely and securely stored on their individual profiles.  For security, all details are encrypted via the Stripe API, and storage is fully PCI compliant, meaning that guest data can never be leaked or lost. Unlike booking engines that simply pass the credit card number through to the PMS, the integration with Stripe automatically validates the card so that the guest cannot use an expired or invalid card. Multiple credit cards can be stored on the same guest profile, which comes in handy when a guest charges their room rate to a corporate card for the room but uses their personal card for incidentals, for example. Cards can be stored against guest profiles for returning stays, ensuring an excellent guest experience.      From the reservation page, you can click a button to automatically generate a nicely formatted invoice, thanks to a leading integration with accounting software Xero. This feature can save time and ensure accuracy as it's not necessary to log into a separate system to generate invoices and double-handle data.     When funds are collected as a deposit, Xero classifies the funds as a current liability on your balance sheet, which allows accounting staff to easily see how much revenue is actualized versus just taken as a deposit - this also ensures that taxes are paid at the right time.     Calendar View Options Preno offers a wealth of view options, to view your hotel dashboard and calendar:: by reservation status, payment status, repeat guests, and groups. Each of these views provides valuable insights for front desk staff at a glance.     The “Group” view highlights all reservations associated with a group. The “Guests” view marks all repeat guests with a star. The “Payment Status” view shows which reservations are fully or partially paid, plus which ones have not been paid at all. Also highlighted are those who have invoices against their account.   Reservation Creation Hotel staff can quickly create a new reservation by clicking on an available date on the calendar. When entering the guest’s name, Preno will highlight potential matches from your guest database so that saved guest profile data, like contact and payment info, can be used again. This historical data is valuable, and Preno can import up to 3 years of reservation history if you switch to Preno from different software.     If you receive many group bookings, Preno has features that support splitting and merging reservations with a couple of clicks. This is a super cool and unique feature we haven’t seen in many other PMS systems. Splitting a booking allows you to assign individual rooms within the same booking to their own invoice. For instance, if a corporate travel manager booked several rooms for employees traveling for a conference, but the employees need receipts with their own names on them to get reimbursement, the booking can be split. Conversely, Preno can combine separate reservations into one bill, for instance, if several family members book their own rooms but one person is responsible for payment.   Real-time Housekeeping Coordination with Just a Few Clicks On the Housekeeping dashboard, you can see clean rooms prioritized by time and urgency – starting with turnovers, then departures, stayovers, arrivals, and special requests. The room status is shown in real-time, housekeeping staff can mark a room as “clean” from any device and it will show live updates on the grid.  Preno also enables bulk room status updates in case a room attendant wants to finish a floor and mark it as complete to save time, for example.     Preno logs all room status updates, so you can see the change history of a specific room.   Easy to Use Rate Management Interface The rate module allows you to create and edit rate plans and add restrictions to certain rooms types and/or dates. You can enter rates manually in Preno or in a connected channel manager.  Preno has its own channel manager and also supports integrations with SiteMinder and Staah. Preno also has its own channel manager to streamline vendor billing and relationships.  If you’d prefer not to manage rates manually, Preno integrates with the revenue management system RoomPriceGenie.     Preno supports several restrictions, including minimum length of stay, closed to arrival, and closed departure. Closed to arrival and closed to departure restrictions can be used to control check-ins and check-outs on high-demand dates - a feature that more basic property management systems might not support. It’s also possible to create derived rate plans, such as promotional rates, which automatically apply a discount to your base rate.   Intuitive Reporting for Real-Time Insights Preno has a variety of reports that allow you to not only view historical and on-the-books performance, but also to input your own goals to monitor progress. For example, on the Revenue report, you can enter your target revenue for each month of the year, then you can track how you’re pacing toward those targets. You can set custom data ranges and customize certain reports to export and share or analyze the data further.     Additional reports show production by source (OTAs, corporate accounts), reconciliations, and chargebacks (available through Preno’s integration with Lightspeed POS).   Preno is a Powerful Hotel Management System for Independent Operators Who are Tired of Manual Administrative Work Preno is a solid property management system for small to medium sized boutique hotels with on-site management. The system works best for hotels with up to about 250 rooms and the fact that Preno has developed an all-in-one suite enables hoteliers to consolidate vendor relationships and software expenses. Preno has an abundance of tutorial videos and help center articles to guide you.  Preno is a great choice for hoteliers who are looking to upgrade a legacy system to something more modern, or for properties who want a reliable rock solid partner but don’t need the laundry list of features that come with expensive systems designed for large multi-property enterprises. Preno is so good that they don’t even lock clients into contracts. You can get started today and literally cancel whenever you’d like. So what are you waiting for?   This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.

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Are Hotels Undervaluing Metasearch?

by
Victoria Sweeney
1 month ago

An email flashes in a hotel marketers inbox. Their Metasearch report for the month has arrived. They hurriedly flash through, glancing at the key metrics with a touch of nervousness. Finally, their eyes rest on one metric in particular—the Return on Ad Spend. They do the calculations on a scrap of paper and let out a sigh of relief. The figure is lower than the commission for Booking.com. Mission accomplished, money has been saved. Within this story is the widely held belief that Metasearch is a direct booking tactic. It is a tool to compete with the performance-marketing-savvy OTAs and push down costs. Knowing that a Meta booking can be cheaper than an OTA booking, hotels run their campaigns until the cost is equivalent to the OTA commission. There is common sense in this strategy. However, we argue in this article that this overwhelming focus on direct bookings misses a key benefit of competing on Meta. It stops a guest from booking a competitor hotel.  This begs the question: how does a comparison of rates help a hotel against its competition? A hotel comparison, sure, but a rate comparison? Is Metasearch not targeting the fabled bottom of funnel traffic that have already decided on a hotel? If the visitor clicks on Booking.com’s link, sure it is a commission booking, but it is still a booking nonetheless. Central to our argument is that a visitor clicking an OTA link often leads to a booking at another hotel, by design. OTAs’ core competitive advantage is their curation of a whole market of hotels. Their function is to compare hotels, suggest hotels, filter hotels, and promote hotels. A single hotel cannot offer the same functions. The OTAs are shameless in (implicitly) communicating this fact.    Take the following example. 1. When you click a Meta link to Booking.com you will not arrive—like on the direct website—in Booking’s “booking engine”. You will not even land on the hotel page. Instead, you land on the search results page, 2 (giant) steps away from starting a booking. In a world of one-click purchases, this is a lot of extra friction. 2. The hotel card makes up only around 21% of the landing screen space and a fraction of the space on the page as a whole. The selected hotel competes with 26 similar listings on this page alone.      “Amsterdam: 477 properties found” is written in a font size that is 15% larger than the hotel name. This is not a mere fact, but perhaps the most important USP of Booking.com. The search box features the strongest colours with its Ikea-esque clash of yellow and blue. Filters, navigation links and (not one but two) map call-outs fill the remaining space.      3. For new visitors, Booking.com even places a tool-tip over the hotel listing to call attention to filters. While we are here, notice that Booking.com now promotes a free taxi ride to win this first time customer (compared to a member who only gets 10% off rental cars).  4. Clicking on “see availability” loads the hotel page in a new tab, this allows a visitor to effortlessly return to the search results rather than go back to Google. Booking.com knows its paying a lot for this visitor and is not going to waste them.     5. Even on the hotel page, the search bar retains its prominent position. A bread-crumb navigation bar highlights links to “Netherlands Hotels”, “Noord-Holland Hotels”, “Amsterdam Hotels” and “Amsterdam City Centre Hotels”.  Notice that the guest isn’t even dropped into the room rates section of the page (that you would expect for a bottom of funnel visitor). Booking.com knows visitors are not fully convinced. Indeed, in our analysis, we see that meta visitors take between 8 and 11 minutes to make a booking (varying by device). That’s not an open and shut case.     6. Curious about the location? If you open the map you are not shown the hotel’s location USPs but are instead barraged with nearby deals.  Booking.com even declares that the 3 closest hotels provide “better value than current property.” That kind of messaging alone should make a hotel uncomfortable with losing clicks to Booking.com.     There are three separate links to the map search on the hotel page alone.      7. Hotels.com goes a step further than Booking.com. When exiting the website they push you to consider alternative hotels.    An accident? OTAs are conversion rate juggernauts. They AB test on a titanic scale. No design decision is by accident. They are carefully calculated moves to capitalise on their strengths (not yours). They communicate subtly, at every step of the way—“do not stop searching.” The implication is that many people who click on an OTA get sucked back into the top of the funnel. Booking.com is shaking the funnel like a snow globe—some snowflakes sink straight back to the bottom (of the funnel), but others will float around landing in all sorts of places. So long as it remains in the Booking.com sphere, they don’t mind.   What does it mean for hotels? When a hotel uses Metasearch and wins a visitor’s click, you are not only reducing costs of acquisition, but you’re also increasing the chance that the visitor will book with you and not elsewhere. By controlling the landing experience, you monopolise the space for your hotel. That is a powerful advantage that shouldn’t be wasted.  

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Advanced Profile Synthesis: Your CRM’s Missing Ingredient

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

The hospitality industry is in the middle of a unique challenge when it comes to producing profitable bookings. The cost of acquiring hotel guests has increased dramatically over the past several years. (Display advertising rose by 19% from 2015-2019, for example.) While, at the same time, budgets have declined in the wake of the global pandemic. If hoteliers hope to begin increasing profitability over the coming seasons, it will be critical that they have a strategy in place to effectively maximize their earnings on each and every booking going forward. Thankfully, travel demand is resurfacing so there’s an opportunity to absorb revenue. But what’s the best way to approach it without securing more marketing dollars? The answer is to focus on your guest database where you can generate new direct bookings from previous guests and increase their spend on property and across your portfolio. Guest database marketing is the lowest cost and most profitable audience at a hotelier’s disposal. And mastering your strategy to leverage it should be at the very top of your list as you navigate profits today. At the heart of that strategy, you should prioritize personalization. Driving personalized messages to the right guests at the right time will have the biggest impact when it comes to producing returns on guest database marketing efforts. According to a study by Revinate, targeted, personalized campaigns sent to fewer than 5,000 recipients get opened 2x more than campaigns with broad messaging sent to 50,000 recipients. These segmented campaigns also generate 5x more conversions than unsegmented blasts. For segmentation and personalization to yield profitable results, hotel marketers must first tackle the issue of messy data – an issue that plagues every hotel. It’s important to have a tool that automatically cleanses your guest database with a high degree of accuracy so that you can focus on monetizing it rather than wasting precious resources sifting through and trying to reach faulty, incomplete data. To do this, you will need a partner like Revinate who will guide you through advancing your guest data into actionable information that you can easily monetize. Their Advanced Profile Synthesis –a sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning process that unifies fragmented guest data– gives you the most accurate single view of your guests so that you can use data from their full journey across your portfolio to deliver personalized strategic marketing.   Messy Data Has a High Opportunity Cost Impersonal email campaigns yield low conversion rates but the only way to personalize is to ensure your data is clean and complete. Incomplete data carries high opportunity costs such as missed revenue opportunities, decreased guest loyalty (lifetime value), ineffective marketing campaigns, and increased OTA commissions.  Let’s look at an example.  If you receive bookings and virtual payments through Expedia you know that some of these reservations show the Expedia headquarters as the guest’s billing address. This could lead you to see a misleading share of guests from Seattle, where the Expedia head office is located. Likely, those guests actually booked from locations across the country (or the world). And if you were to use this data to send a targeted email to Seattle-based guests that says “Escape the grey Seattle weather and come visit us for a long weekend!” your campaign is unlikely to generate strong results. Similarly, inaccurate guest profile data can throw off your personalized emails for birthdays, anniversaries, or loyalty-related offers. Nothing is more off-putting to a guest than receiving a “happy birthday” email nowhere close to their birthday, and a “we miss you” email that hits a guest’s inbox the day after they check out is probably not going to move the needle. These emails can come across as unprofessional and may cause your guests to unsubscribe altogether. Here’s where Revinate’s Advanced Profile Synthesis comes into play.   What is Revinate’s Advanced Profile Synthesis? Given how costly messy data can be, it’s important that you have a tool in place that automatically cleanses your database and provides you with the insights you need to monetize it. We mentioned that Revinate uses a sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning process, called Advanced Profile Synthesis, to do just that. But, what exactly is Advanced Profile Synthesis? Most hotel databases contain plenty of typos, duplicates, and incomplete information about their guests. If you have thousands of profiles in your database, it’s impossible to manually clean and maintain this information. Some software allows you to simply merge duplicate profiles or exclude incomplete records, but guest profiles are nuanced and sophisticated hotel marketers know they need more than this basic functionality. For example, the same guest could have two different email addresses (e.g. work and personal). Those two email addresses should not belong on two separate guest profiles. Revinate’s Advanced Profile Synthesis takes a more holistic approach to cleaning guest profile data and merging or removing duplicates. Using natural language processing and machine learning, the system sorts through guest profiles in a more human way. Rather than automatically categorizing two unique email addresses as two unique guests, Advanced Profile Synthesis considers numerous other fields in the profile. For example, if two guest profiles have the same name, address, and phone number, but different email addresses, Advanced Profile Synthesis will understand that these profiles represent the same guest and merge them. By contrast, most CRM systems would keep them separate, since it would require all information within the two profiles to be an exact match. The Advanced Profile Synthesis process occurs automatically and in the background, so you can focus on putting your up-to-date guest profile data into action rather than sifting through it.   How Does Revinate’s Advanced Profile Synthesis Work? What’s happening behind the scenes as Revinate’s Advanced Profile Synthesis scrubs your guest database? The software follows a three-step process: standardization, clustering, and learning. Data that gets ingested into your PMS is often logged in unique formats and includes typos. This makes it difficult to match data so, in order to standardize data, Revinate first puts all the information it ingests on an even playing field in terms of formatting. For example, guests can enter their phone numbers in a variety of formats. Some write 123-456-7890. Others write (123) 456-7890, or maybe even 123.456.7890. Revinate’s functionality automatically removes all punctuation from phone numbers to avoid miscategorization. The system will also standardize addresses to make 123 1st St. match 123 First Street, and it will remove placeholders like “n/a,” “null,” or “555-555-5555.” Finally, the standardization process ends by assigning “tags” to each field, like “phone number” and “email address,” so that it can compare fields in an apples-to-apples way. The next step is to cluster similar values that fall within the same tag. For example, profiles with names like “Catherine Smith,” “Cathy Smith,” and “C. Smith” would get grouped together. Then the system will analyze additional elements of those guest profiles to determine if they’re a match or if they are indeed unique guests. If “Catherine Smith” and “Cathy Smith” share the same street address and phone number, then the system understands that the two profiles are likely the same person. But if none of the profile data for “Cathy Smith” aligns with data for “C. Smith,” then the system will assume they’re different people. Revinate’s algorithm also incorporates known nicknames, so profiles with first names “Mike” and “Michael” will be grouped together, while “Ryan” and “Bryan” will not. In addition, Revinate weighs the popularity of names, so it will be more picky when considering grouping “Mike” profiles versus profiles with less common names. For example, if there are two guest profiles with the name “Eustace” in a database, the likelihood of that being the same person is much higher than “Mike” and “Michael” being the same person, given that the latter name is so common. The third element in Revinate’s process is that it’s technology is continually learning. The system constantly analyzes the profiles that it has matched successfully to find patterns or similarities in your unique database. By doing so, it becomes more accurate over time, which means that you’ll be able to target narrower segments of guests with more engaging and personalized offers.   The Importance of Creating Guest Segments with Clean Data  Clean data allows hotel marketers to get creative with campaigns and maximize conversions at the lowest possible cost by getting incredibly specific with targeting criteria. Let’s say you want to invite back families who visited your hotel over spring break in the last three years. With your cleansed database, you could easily create a segment of guests who traveled for leisure, booked a suite with twin beds, stayed for at least 5 nights during March and April from 2018-2021, and left a positive review post-check out. In this way, you can be confident your spring break offer will reach the right audience. On the other hand, perhaps you want to inspire past guests who originally visited your hotel for business to instead book a vacation with you once they’re ready to travel again. By targeting guests who booked as part of a conference or with a specific negotiated corporate rate, you will likely get better engagement than if you were to blast your entire database. Running Advanced Profile Synthesis also tends to yield a surprising result which is that you have a more accurate view of the average number of stays per guest. Having an accurate understanding of this data point is critical for targeting. It will help you understand who your true loyal guests are so that you can drive campaigns to them and also learn more about them so that you can target similar guests who have the potential to become loyal as well. Here’s why the average number of stays tends to increase: Once a database is cleansed, guest profiles that were previously counted as unique, but who were, in fact, the same person, will have been merged. Let’s say that the profiles of “Catherine Smith” and “Cathy Smith” each had two stays totaling 7 nights, and the profile of “C. Smith” had one stay totaling 5 nights. If Advanced Profile Synthesis was able to determine that those three unique profiles were the same person, your database would now consist of one Rich Guest Profile for “Catherine Smith” with her entire guest history. Her new, complete profile would show that she has stayed five times at your hotel for a total of 12 nights. If you’re building a personalized campaign using # of nights stayed as a variable, having an accurate view of this data is invaluable. Accurate guest profile data is key. Without the right data, you might have the wrong idea of who makes up your largest or most profitable segments.    Maximize Your Guest Database So how can you maximize the potential of your guest database? The first step is to clean your data and consolidate duplicate guest profiles. Then, you can begin to analyze your segments and tailor your marketing messages based on those segments that truly align with your hotel’s overall strategy. Regardless of which segments you target, these highly tailored campaigns will garner better engagement and generate more conversions than campaigns sent to a more generic audience. In fact, hotels that use Revinate’s advanced segmentation tool see a five-fold increase in booking rates, on average, compared to hotels that launch less specific campaigns. Employing sophisticated segmentation will not only increase direct bookings, but also decrease the amount of marketing budget spent on emails sent to invalid or duplicate email addresses. Furthermore, a tool like Revinate doesn’t charge extra to leverage advanced targeting, segmentation, or A/B testing. Nor does it charge for database size or email volume thresholds. So you are free to build, test and optimize without hurting your budget. Whether your goal is to decrease marketing costs, drive guest loyalty, or increase conversion of your campaigns, leveraging the power of a clean guest database thanks to Advanced Profile Synthesis will help you realize the full potential of one of your hotel’s most valuable assets: your guest database.   This content was created collaboratively by Revinate and Hotel Tech Report.  

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How to Break Away From Room Categories

by
Markus Mueller
1 month ago

Why should hoteliers change the way they manage room inventory in the first place? The simple answer is: because they can make more revenue and increase customer satisfaction when guests are able to self-select room features that are relevant to them.   By moving away from traditional room categories and taking a granular inventory approach, hoteliers can cover several new revenue-generating opportunities, including: • New revenue management tactics due to a higher number of price points • Upselling solutions of room features and services • Automatic room assignment and avoidance of free upgrades • Clear differentiation of own sales channels compared to third-party channels   All of these elements can strengthen your brand value through positive guest recommendations and increase the chances of returning guests. Historically there were many good reasons to display and sell room inventory in a simplified way. However, technology has improved significantly and now allows hoteliers to reinvent their sales strategy by digitizing their inventory with all its uniqueness and selling directly through their own channels. With a granular inventory, hoteliers can create real differentiation from third-party sellers and are able to sell something that no one else offers. This could previously only be offered by email or phone, assuming the seller knew the rooms well. It depended on guest participation prior to check-in.   Product Sales Approach in Other Industries Other industries have already learned from crises and optimized their online sales process years ago to meet the needs of the "connected consumer". In the airline industry, there was a lack of upselling opportunities to increase sales due to a non-differentiable product. The retail sector was increasingly forced to provide an appealing online sales experience due to advancing digitalization and pioneers such as Amazon. Clothing can now be tried on virtually and many products can be personalized according to customer needs.   Airlines: • Additional price points due to different booking conditions • Differentiation through additional services - sales attributes • More than quadruple in ancillary revenues & baggage fees alone Online retail: • Configurator & filter functions to individualize the shopping experience • Extra revenue through product personalization options • Double-digit growth compared to traditional retailers   Comparison of Two New Approaches Attribute Based Selling: The hotel industry has long talked about adapting the airline approach of Attribute-Based Selling (ABS). This approach proposes breaking rooms into smaller attributes to increase potential upsell sales during the booking process. In an ongoing effort to improve return on investment opportunities, some major hotel chains are already piloting their beta versions of this approach, but they are a long way off final implementation. Room Feature Combination Sales: A newer approach than the one just described is feature-based room sales, in which rooms are clustered according to combinations of features. Additional experience dimensions are digitized and codified. With this new system, each room can be clustered into an individual combination, resulting in many more price points. Through this approach, the booking journey is much more experiential and the customer-centric approach leverages artificial intelligence to better align guests' needs with the hotel's sales strategy.   New Sales Approaches Using a basic room category and selling individual room attributes on it (ABS approach): In this approach, the price is based on a room category with the lowest common denominator of the whole inventory (basic/standard room) and all other attributes can be added by the booker depending on whether he considers them relevant or not. When the booker adds attributes, the price of the room increases. Simple, right? The principle is to first select the basic room at an entry price and then add attributes such as bed type, balcony, air conditioning, connecting door, high floor, or even other services not related to the category, such as early check-in or late check-out. In terms of upselling, the ABS approach starts with the room rate, with attributes being added. It is up to the booker to decide which attribute is considered relevant. This method is copied from the airline industry and enables upselling at the point of purchase. The more attributes the guest adds to their shopping cart, the higher the final room rate. The price point of each attribute is transparent to the booker in the selection option. You can find further explanations of the ABS approach in the article from Hospitality Technology.   Room Feature Combination Selling: A Guest-Centric Experience Approach The basic approach here is to move away from room categories as a whole and divide all rooms into room feature combinations. This allows rooms to be sold with both their unique features and a reduced number of features, and to be labeled differently. The guest has the possibility to select preferences and is shown corresponding room options as a percentage match. The booker is given the option to select the best room combination for them, with the bundled price points of the various room attributes displayed in aggregate (i.e. without displaying the price of the individual features). The approach not only allows the sale of all room attributes including connecting rooms, but also any inventory combinations a hotel can and wants to offer such as rooms next to each other, three rooms to a newly clustered offering, etc. This provides the basis for a radically new sales approach. More price points are naturally created by repackaging rooms in different ways and marketing them through different labeling. Upselling takes place during the booking process. The booker can select feature preferences, but without considering how much they are actually worth. Supporting statistics or studies on user preferences in terms of attributes or room characteristics are almost non-existent for the hotel industry. Since the approach of moving away from room categories is still very new and attributes can vary greatly from property to property, collecting data points to understand which attributes are preferred by which user profiles is a critical first step to understanding price elasticity and demand patterns.   The Departure From Room Categories Moving away from selling by room category brings with it a high number of additional price points at the point of sale. The value of each room feature can be assessed differently depending on the reason for travel and personal needs. For example, traveling with companions such as a spouse or family, the purpose of the trip, or personal preferences can significantly change the value perception and price elasticity of each room feature. The more price points and options that can be intelligently offered and presented to each booker, the higher the booking conversion and value will be. In addition to additional price points, a new feature-based inventory management also offers the opportunity to enhance one's own brand and pursue a new sales strategy. Only granular inventory management can also enable a differentiated inventory offering according to target groups, individual pricing, and differentiated marketing activities.   First Steps for Feature-Based Inventory Management In principle, it is recommended to check your inventory to make sure it is up to date. In the end, the room turnover is the one with the highest margin. • Take the time to review your inventory, identify the differences, and record any previously undocumented features! • Download a template here to get started and customize it according to your needs. • Update your inventory in your relevant systems (PMS, IBE, CRS, etc.). • Define the way you want to sell through your direct channels and implement the approach starting with email and phone reservation requests. The next step is to review your current technology landscape to identify which solutions are already in place for this approach and which may still be needed. It may also be possible to replace several existing solutions with a single new approach.  

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9 Simple Tips to Becoming a Better Manager in 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

“Love your staff.” That’s the secret to running a successful hotel according to the founder of the iconic One Aldwych in London. It’s great advice and an essential mantra for hospitality, which is a people business at its core and relies heavily on team members coordinating for a higher cause. That mantra is put to the test during downturns, such as the COVID pandemic or the financial crisis of 2008. Faced with uncertainty and economic headwinds, managers must balance the needs of the business with those of its people.  So it's understandable that you may be asking yourself, “How can I be a good manager?” and "what management skills do I need to succeed?" these are important questions and an indication that you're already well on your way to being an effective leader.  Questioning and learning is a key to managerial success in and of itself. Self-awareness and a desire to improve are two valuable traits in any manager. As you focus on improving your leadership skills during challenging times, here are 9 tips for becoming a better manager. 2021 has been incredibly difficult but there is a silver lining: you’ll be a stronger manager, with a whole new set of skills to build on moving forward. As you invest the time in building meaningful relationships with your colleagues, you’ll earn respect and loyalty that’s helpful in both good times and bad. Here are some questions we'll answer in this article: What learning tools and hospitality books are available to new managers? What steps can managers take to facilitate a stress-free work environment? What characteristics do the best managers in the world possess? How to hone decision-making abilities and communication skills Why motivating employees is hard work and how career development is key   1. Be honest and objective Always be honest with your staff! You don't want to sugarcoat things, hide from the truth, or seem aloof, evasive or uncaring. Your staff will see through any BS anyhow, so it’s best to be as honest as possible (without being mean).  At a time when stress and emotions run high, stay objective. It helps keep your head level and your approached even-handed. Dialing too deep into emotions can create an inconsistent experience for individual staff members. That breeds feelings of unfairness and resentment, as individuals feel they’re being treated differently. Avoid that and stay both objective and honest.   During performance reviews, for example, you may be tempted to hold in critical feedback, especially with your favorite colleagues.  Critical feedback helps employees develop new skills and facilitates goal setting that leads to progress in your teams professional lives (and personal lives!).  Effective management and being a team leader is all about communicating the hard news in an empathetic way while being honest and objective.  It's also critical to strategize the right times to communicate - for example, maybe team meetings are a bad place to call out team members for a lack of soft skills.   2. Get out of the office When times are tough, the last thing you want is for staff to think you’re hiding in your office. Get out into the hotel and stay connected with all aspects of the property. You’ll have a better understanding of the current mood and operational needs. This is called “Management By Walking Around (MBWA),” and it keeps you up front and visible with staff. You lead by example and show them that you’re active and engaged, rather than hidden away in the office.  Being visible is also a fantastic way to provide a top-notch guest experience. Greeting guests and being available to address comments or concerns keeps you in tune with their needs -- a personalized approach that encourages glowing reviews and builds your online reputation.  Remember that it’s not enough to just get out of the office: you also must interact with others to really catalyze the benefit, says Mark Hamister, CEO of the Hamister Hospitality Group: “Adding an "I" for Interaction to MBWA enabled us to finally encourage teamwork between management and staff, increase the number of informal problem-solving opportunities on a daily basis, and thereby produce immediate and creative solutions.”   3. Prioritize speed over precision Whether you realize it or not, your team takes cues from your confidence and posture. As their leader, you set the bar. Especially during times of crisis, when circumstances change often, you must be the fearless leader. You don’t have the luxury of rumination. So you must be decisive and prioritize speed over precision. Even if you have to fake it because you are freaking out inside, act fast and with conviction. See next point for a specific tactic that requires a good leader to be decisive.   4. Fire quickly and fairly Even if you have to fire people today, you may want to hire them once the downturn eases and demand returns. The last thing you want to do is leave a poor impression that scuttles employee loyalty. Do right by them, as you may want to bring former employees back rather than trying to find new staff. Furloughs may become temporary as the downturn drags on. And you may even need to fire employees that you recently brought back on. Firing is often the worst part of being a manager.  It's emotionally exhausting and extremely difficult. But don’t delay the inevitable, as making several rounds of smaller layoffs leads to lower morale. To minimize stress of an already difficult situation, fire quickly and fairly. Make an honest appraisal of what you need to do to keep the lights on and then make those decisions quickly. You also want to be fair and as transparent as possible about how these decisions were made. Avoid politics and personal preferences to avoid favoritism or ill-will. And always follow the traits above: Be objective, honest and helpful!   5. Listen, listen, listen! Great leaders are great listeners. They're able to listen, synthesize and act based on what they’ve learned. Listening is the foundation of hospitality, as it builds mutual understanding, meaningful relationships and memorable, experiences, says Gary Gutierrez of HRI Lodging in New Orleans: “For hoteliers, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Running a hotel, like life, is all about how you make people feel.” And it’s not just with guests; sometimes it's just about being a friendly ear for your team. You don't have to be a therapist but you certainly have to be there to listen. Oftentimes, that’s what your team needs most: a sympathetic ear.   6. Be available to your staff Micromanaging is the enemy.  Time management is key and delegating tasks to direct reports will free you up to create a better work environment for other team members.  Succesful managers make it crystal clear that you are a manager with an open door policy. Build trust with your staff by listening to their concerns and doing what you can to address them.  Of course, much of it will be out of your hands. So just listen and empathize.  Be there for your staff and they will have your back. Even in tough times, people know when they are treated fairly and with respect - and that makes a lasting impression.  Sometimes an open-door policy may not be enough to encourage employees to surface issues. Experiment with holding office hours, which are open to anyone and held at the same frequency (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly).  You also should offer anonymous channels of communication. Not everyone is comfortable with face to face conversations. To reduce gossip, prevent abuse and shorten the distance between you and your employees, make an anonymous feedback channel for your staff. Anonymity helps you build trust and address concerns quickly before they get out of control.   7. Embrace creativity, patiently A crisis is an ideal time to experiment and try new things. It pulls you out of the everyday routine and provides an organic opportunity to embrace creativity. Convene your staff and encourage them to brainstorm creative ways to both address the current crisis and build resilience for future ones. One of the corollary benefits to creativity is that it often engages your staff. Most people respond well to being asked to brainstorm ideas and contribute to the success of the organization. By unleashing your the creativity of your staff, you inspire and bring out the best, which also nurturing potential future leaders, says Paul Patiño of the Saguaro Palm Springs:  “The true challenge is being that leader that can move everyone in the same direction together and bring out the best in each person, inspiring them to be better versions than they already are. All great things take time, patience, and lots of love.”   8. Do more with less Hotels everywhere are trying to do more with less. There’s fewer bookings which means fewer staff.  Look for opportunities to economize your operational footprint and be as efficient as possible. If you can find room in the budget, invest in new technology that preserves service standards despite being short-staffed -- and reduces the burden on your small team overloaded with tasks. Roll your sleeves up and show your team but no task is too small. It’s all-hands-on-deck, so step up and lead by example. This behavior will build trust and motivate your staff, as well as create a “we’re all in this together” mindset.   9. Be helpful and humble Great managers aren't just good listeners and clear communicators, they're also helpful and go the extra mile to help their team at all costs. As a trusted resource, you show staff that you care and that it’s ok for them to bring their whole selves to work.  When you fire people, offer to write recommendation letters and do help them in their job search. When you discipline individuals, provide clear performance improvement tips that help them improve. When you walk around the property, be helpful to guests and staff - helpfulness is a form of hospitality, after all! You also must be humble. As someone in a position of authority, it’s easy to think that your position makes you the best person to solve the problem. But that leaves blindspots and leads to employees feeling disengaged at work. That’s not a good recipe for hospitality! To avoid this, leaders don’t just listen but also ask to lead with questions, says Joseph Kirtley, GM at Highgate Hotels: “Leaders often feel that we are supposed to have all the answers. In actuality, being a great leader takes humility, and asking the right questions. Opening yourself to the strengths and knowledge of those around you takes you to another level.” Did we miss any good tips? Let us know via live chat!  

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5 Tips for Hotels to Capitalize on Increasing Spikes in Travel Demand

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

The travel industry rebound is well underway but the recovery remains uneven and demand trends are rapidly evolving.  The guest acquisition strategies that succeeded prior to the pandemic are less likely to succeed in the new normal. In a recent global study conducted by Revinate, 68% of travelers said they would feel more comfortable returning to a hotel they’ve stayed at before. Many of the highest value guests in the world have already stayed at your hotel.  These repeat guests are cheaper to bring back to your property and tend to spend more than new visitors.  Revinate’s study also found that repeat guests spend 67% more during their stay than new guests. This attractive pool of potential customers is sitting in your guest database and we’ll walk through how to attract them. In this article, we’ll share five tips to help you capture your guests’ attention (and travel dollars).  We’ll cover how to ensure your past guests book with you and not another previously visited destination.  We’ll provide guidance on how to incentivize profitable direct bookings and maximize the revenue opportunity with every sale.   Use Segmentation to Attract High-Value Guests As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, hotels need to segment their guest database to identify high probability bookers based on local market conditions.  For example, where international travel restrictions remain in place - hotels need to focus on domestic and drive markets using personalized messaging and offers targeted to guest segments like families to sell more rooms. Creating smaller, focused segments and targeting with personalized and specific action-oriented messages yields materially higher returns. Revinate’s global survey found that segments of 10,000 contacts or less tend to generate 2x revenue compared to larger segments.  Small hyper-targeted segment campaigns are also much more cost-effective because they tend to result in lower unsubscribe rates.  Every contact in your database has the potential to yield revenue in the future, so unsubscribes present a very real hidden cost that many hotel marketers wrongfully overlook.  Additionally, every campaign takes time to create and execute so when those campaigns aren’t yielding results there is a significant opportunity cost.   Leverage Revenue Upsell Opportunities Post-Booking Another effective, revenue-generating marketing strategy is to offer upsells to guests who have already booked at your property but haven’t yet arrived.  Bringing back old guests is far cheaper than finding new ones, but upselling existing guests can yield even more profitable outcomes. According to the Revinate survey, the most popular upsells last year included pre-purchased food and beverages, early and late check-in and late check-out, and room upgrades. Additionally, hotels that have sophisticated segmentation strategies can get extremely creative with campaigns.  If your hotel is popular among families, you could promote a “movie night in” package to the portion of your database who have previously stayed with their kids. Similarly, if your hotel is cozy and romantic, you might want to offer a “date night” package that includes a bottle of champagne or a takeout dinner for two from your restaurant.  When formulating an upsell strategy you’ll want to create segmentation rules so that the right offers go to the right guests.   Communicate Health Measures in Booking and Pre-Arrival Campaigns It’s no secret that health and safety are top of mind for travelers in the rebound.  In fact, Revinate’s survey shows that safety, cleanliness, and pandemic risk-mitigating measures are top priorities for travelers - even topping price and location as decision-making factors for the first time ever.  Hotels looking to minimize cancellations are wise to create pre-arrival “clean theater” campaigns educating guests about health measures taken on property and in destination to boost confidence leading up to every trip.  Running campaigns that communicate health measures that your property has taken can also influence guests to book with your hotel in the first place.  During times of uncertainty, clear and transparent communication is the key to instilling confidence and driving bookings.   Avoid Generic One-Time Promotions It’s tempting to blast your database with generic offers to save time but these campaigns create database fatigue which results in poor campaign engagement and email unsubscribes. The best hotel marketers share relevant, timely, and personalized offers to targeted segments of their databases.  While it takes a bit more thought and planning to set up these campaigns, behavior-based automation with tools like Revinate means that you can “set it and forget it” for the most part. Automated campaigns can be triggered in real-time by actions that your guests take, they provide high lifetime value and generate strong engagement. Automated campaigns such as pre-arrivals, on-property welcome letters, win-back offers, and birthday promotions receive, on average, 270% higher open rates than unsegmented offers. This translates to more direct bookings, loyal guests, and upsell opportunities.   Grow and Maintain a Healthy Database While marketing creativity is vital, growing and maintaining a healthy guest database is the foundation of a profitable long-term guest acquisition strategy. Database health can be measured via growth rates, unsubscribe rates, and campaign engagement. Implement a data collection process when guests check in. This way you can gather accurate contact details from guests whose information may have been masked through OTA bookings. With this information, hoteliers can build strong relationships with guests through personalized communication, from pre-arrival to post-stay. Time and effort invested into expanding your hotel’s database pay off with extremely high returns on investment.  As the industry rebounds, focus on growing and maintaining your base of loyal, repeat guests. Create processes to collect, clean, maintain, and action on guest data - finding the right Hotel CRM is key. The good news is that many of these vital processes can be automated via technology partners like Revinate.   This content was created collaboratively by Revinate and Hotel Tech Report.

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How Are Hoteliers Adapting to Welcome Travelers Back in 2021?

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

We certainly don’t need to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the travel industry. But despite all the pandemic’s negative effects, this unusual year has inspired many hoteliers to take the leap into new technology that will enhance guest stays in 2021 and beyond. According to recent studies conducted by Amadeus, people are eager to travel again, with 75% of survey respondents stating they would travel within just three months of loosened restrictions. Although many of those travelers might feel nostalgic about the world “before,” the data shows that travelers expect technology to help reduce physical touchpoints, encourage social distancing, and more. In fact, 84% of respondents said hotel technology would actually make them feel more confident that they can stay safe and healthy on the road. In this article, we’ll explain five key areas where hoteliers can strategically implement technology to give guests a warm welcome to the “new normal.” By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of guest expectations and exciting innovations in the travel and tech space.   Staff Collaboration Tools Help Improve Team Efficiency at Lower Staffing Levels With 87% of travelers feeling skeptical that their peers are following health and safety guidelines, impeccable housekeeping and maintenance service is more important than ever. If guests think their fellow travelers didn’t wash their hands before pushing elevator buttons or opening doors, then your employees need to go above and beyond to keep your property clean. You’ll want to do whatever you can to avoid housekeeping mishaps that could break guest trust, and a key element of success is staying organized and avoiding lapses in communication between staff. Staff collaboration tools make teamwork a breeze - even with teams that work on different schedules or in different locations. Software like Amadeus HotSOS gives hotel managers and employees the power to log maintenance issues, centralize housekeeping requests, record guest preferences, and more. The app integrates seamlessly with Amadeus’ own PMS as well as 100+ other systems, so your tech stack can work harmoniously.  “We use Amadeus HotSoS for logging guests’ needs as well as general area maintenance, such as lighting fireplaces, old light bulbs, clogged sinks, broken tiles, missing paint. To be able to log and communicate with housekeeping, engineering and bell in this manner is excellent,” a Resort Activities Manager in Rancho Palos Verdes told Hotel Tech Report. Collaboration tools like HotSOS not only reduce communication lags and potential friction between departments, but they can enhance the guest experience by helping staff provide faster and more accurate service. In a post-COVID world, it’s even more crucial that guest expectations are met (if not exceeded) and that hoteliers can reduce costs wherever possible.   Use Customer Messaging to Communicate Compliance and Safety Local health restrictions are changing frequently, and today’s traveler needs to stay in the know - and they need to receive information from a trusted source, like from their hotel. Hoteliers are implementing customer messaging tools like Amadeus GMS to communicate rapidly changing regulations and standards with guests. Whether you need to alert guests about a new travel restriction or share the good news about reopening the spa, guest management technology can help you spread the word. 42% of respondents even say that technology that provides on-trip updates to local guidelines and outbreaks would make them more confident about traveling. If you’re considering adding a GMS to your hotel’s tech stack, you have no shortage of choices. Through customer messaging platforms, you can communicate with guests via their preferred method. Some guests prefer email, while others prefer text messages. Some platforms, like Zingle (which integrates directly into HotSoS, even support WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger). Plus, you can set up automated messages that will free up your employees’ time while increasing guest engagement.   Ditch Guest Room Phones for Smart Assistants Hotel guest room phones have been slowly dying out for years and the advent of smart assistants like Google Echo and Amazon Alexa accelerated their decline. Why? According to the Amadeus research, 61% of travelers would like to use voice assistant technology if present in their rooms. Hotels and larger groups like Viceroy are welcoming guests back to hotels by eliminating in-room phones and allowing them to order via the same technologies they’re using at home like mobile apps and smart speakers. Smart assistants powered by software like Volara are preprogrammed to control every facet of the in-room guest experience going far beyond the capabilities of in-room phones without adding significant cost. Volara’s voice technology integrates seamlessly into Amadeus HotSOS to fulfill service requests.   “The reality is anything you can do to limit direct contact with other people and even our own surroundings is part of widespread change in personal behaviors. Guests no longer want to have to touch the remote control or use the guest room telephone to make service requests. If a guest has forgotten toiletries or needs to report maintenance issues for instance, or even play music, watch shows, set alarms, or request more towels, they will want to do so in a contactless manner.  Having the ability to simply ask an in-room voice assistant to help fulfill special requests and preferences will be an opportunity to increase guest Loyalty,” says Volara CEO Dave Berger in an interview on the Amadeus blog.   Eliminating Lobby Crowds with Contactless Check-In Like with contactless ordering, offering a contactless way for guests to check in to your hotel is the welcoming touch that every traveler wants these days. Amadeus’ research shows that 62% of travelers would prefer to handle check-in and check-out via an app, so hoteliers that don’t yet have a technology solution for contactless check-in are making it a priority to implement one. Both guests and employees enjoy peace of mind when they don’t need to exchange physical credit cards, IDs, registration cards, and pens. “There are a number of ways the PMS can become a key component of the new guest experience. First, advanced two-way integrations with other supporting systems (CRS for instance) will allow for synchronized data across platforms to capture and make data actionable data coming from new apps. Second, many PMS systems provide simple and robust integrations with hundreds of third-party systems to make the implementation of new mobile services and tools simple and painless. Finally, some PMS systems offer open APIs, which make it possible to integrate with custom internal apps. This allows hotels and hotel chains to innovate at their own pace, and be more agile,” says Patrick van der Wardt, Head of Sales Specialists International, SO, S&C, PMS at Amadeus. Besides just providing a solution for check-in without physical contact, contactless check-in software can personalize the guest experience further by offering upgrades and add-ons that can lead to incremental revenue. -- As we’ve learned throughout the pandemic, guest preferences and expectations are changing rapidly. COVID-19 ushered a new wave of contactless technologies and efficiency driving software into the hotel industry. As we prepare for a travel rebound, hoteliers are still in a prime position to optimize their tech stacks to ensure they are able to capture and maximize on new business opportunities. Every facet of the guest experience is being reimagined with the creative use of technology from booking to check out. Let market data like this Amadeus research and the needs of your own guests guide your technology decisions and set your hotel up for success in 2021.   This content was created collaboratively by Amadeus and Hotel Tech Report.  

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18 Must-Have Features of a Hotel Management System

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

Choosing a hotel management software system is like buying a car: it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of options, and it can be difficult to find trusted advice about the PMS features you need most. “There’s often a misconception in business software that one size fits all. Every hotel has very specific needs based on property size, chain scale, geography, and dozens of other variables. On top of that, every owner or manager has their own preferences in terms of design, usability, and support.  It is absolutely critical to narrow down the problem you’re trying to solve to engage with PMS vendors, and ensure you aren’t being sold on things that your property doesn’t need” says Amelia Gain, CEO of popular Hotel PMS company Preno. Hotel industry veterans often use the analogy of a duck on a lake to describe hotel operations.  Above the surface, the duck appears calm and collected, but under the surface its legs are kicking furiously. Guests are often stressed with their own travel plans, or are trying to escape stress altogether during their holiday, so it is critical for staff to appear calm and relaxed regardless of the hustle and bustle. Technology is one of the key tools that hoteliers leverage to make operations appear effortless to guests, and hotel management software is the single most important system in the entire hotel. Whether you work at an independent bed and breakfast or a global hotel chain, your hotel management system is the nucleus of your property. Nearly every member of a hotel team must access the PMS to perform daily tasks. Guest service staff need to prioritize hotel rooms that must be cleaned for early VIP arrivals. Sales & event management professionals need to block off rooms for groups. Hotel managers need to access the system for data and operating insights. Hotel management system vendor selection is one of the most important and difficult decisions a hotel operator will ever make. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what to look for so that you can make informed technology decisions for your property.   The Most Essential Hotel Management Software Functionalities Let’s start with the basics. These features are true must-haves for any modern hotelier who wants to use technology to improve the guest experience, make back office operations more efficient, and build lasting relationships with guests. Intuitive & easy-to-use interface: A user-friendly interface is the most important factor when choosing mission-critical software for a hotel. If your hotel software is complex and confusing, more mistakes will be made, costing you more money. Common tasks should not take lots of time and steps, as this slows down your team and limits your ability to grow quickly – hence the need for a powerful hotel management software system. Mobile & tablet optimised: When your manager, housekeeping team, and other staff members need to check details on a booking quickly they shouldn’t have to rush back to the office. Any system you use must not only be accessible by, but also optimized for use on mobile phones and tablets. Better yet, your owner should be able to check performance while on holiday. Clear visibility of the grid: Adding special events that are happening in the region, highlighting returning guests, and identifying guests who are yet to pay their bill are all features your grid should enable by default. Your grid should allow you to quickly & easily see key information about your guests. Guest profiles: Are you working on building guest loyalty? Guest profiles store your guests’ contact information, stay history, and even preferences, so that you can deliver a more personalized experience during their next stay. Better yet, a guest profile with stored CC’s of your guest will make it even easier for returning guests.  Email automation: You can communicate with guests and reduce manual work for your staff by deploying personalised, customised, and automated emails. Using your own templates, automated email functionality allows you to build a communication journey from the initial booking to targeted offers for repeat guests. Housekeeping management: Your PMS should allow your housekeeping team to mark rooms as clean, dirty, or out of order. Having this information in one central place gives the front desk visibility of room statuses, so that they can accommodate early check-in’s and room moves without needing to radio the housekeeping supervisor.     Reservation management: Perhaps the absolute most essential PMS feature is reservations management and front office features. By housing all of your reservations digitally, hoteliers can make a paper reservation book a thing of the past. Within reservations management, you should be able to set rates, control availability, offer promotions, and visualize reservations on a calendar. Room management: The room management module of a PMS is like your virtual front desk. This functionality lets front desk agents check guests in and out, and cancel or extend reservations with just a few simple clicks. Group bookings/reservations: If your hotel plans on hosting any type of event or group of guests, then group reservations functionality is crucial. Group reservation features include allowing guests to book reservations within the room block, exporting a room list, and configuring billing settings so that you can bill one account for multiple rooms. Invoicing: When most guests check out, they want a copy of their bill, so, your PMS should be able to easily export guests’ folios that contain all charges from their stay. Similarly, you’ll want solid, straightforward financial reporting that helps you reconcile revenue and expenses from room revenue, outlets, vendors, and more. Payment processing: Gone are the days when guests paid with cash or cheque, so you’ll want a PMS with a payment processor integration that allows you to effortlessly charge guests’ credit cards and have secure access to major payment gateways. Business intelligence & reporting: How do you know if your hotel is doing well if you can’t measure your performance? A PMS with robust reporting features will give you insight into your revenue, ADR, RevPAR, and a slew of other metrics so that you can find opportunities for growth – and track your progress toward your goals. Rate management: Do you want to offer a non-refundable rate or value-added packages? If so, you’ll want rate management functionality that allows for multiple, customizable rate plans.     User logs & permissions: With so much turnover in the hotel industry, it is important to keep front-line staff accountable with detailed user logs to have an automated record in case of any mistakes, as well as to ensure proper training and issue resolution. Additionally, we are living in a world where consumers demand heightened security, so it is critical that staff are only able to access the parts of the hotel management system required to complete their core tasks without unnecessarily accessing sensitive information like credit card data.   Key Software Integrations to Supercharge Your Hotel Property Management System A PMS is an important software partner in its own right, but running a hotel is very complex, which usually means that more feature functionality will be needed than a PMS can provide.  For that reason, some of the most important PMS features are actually software integrations with other key systems to unlock more value and performance through real-time data sharing and triggers. Let’s explore some of the most critical PMS add-ons. Accounting software: Accounting is an ever-changing, complicated industry, and you don’t want to be stuck with software that is out of date when rules change. As such, you should look for software that has robust and complete integrations to the world leaders of accounting software like Xero. This will empower you to streamline your invoicing, reconciliation, commission payment, and billing processes and automate repetitive tasks to help your finance department run more smoothly. “Whether you’re tracking agency commissions or configuring payment policies for groups – it is vital for hotels of all sizes to have a seamless integration between their property management system (PMS) and hotel accounting software. Why? It saves countless hours of tedious administration via automation,” says Preno’s CEO, Amelia Gain. Point-of-sale system integration: If your hotel has a restaurant, bar, spa, or other outlets, then an integrated POS can do wonders for your operations. When your POS can talk to your PMS, guests can seamlessly charge purchases to their room, and you can keep a record of guest purchasing activity to analyze trends and personalize future loyalty offers. Channel manager: Do you work with third-party channels like Booking.com and Expedia? If so, you’ll need a channel manager to push your rates and availability to these platforms, and more. In return, it will send reservations back to your PMS to capture more hotel bookings. A channel manager can also prevent overbookings by syncing with your PMS since it will know when to turn off distribution as a certain room type gets sold out. Channel manager software solutions are also important for hotels to optimize the allocation of rooms across channels and to ensure maximum profitability.   Booking engine: Allow guests to book directly with you, with no expensive commissions. An online booking engine, which publishes your rates and availability to your website, collects the necessary information from guests, and creates reservations in your PMS. Looking for more advice and information on hotel management systems? Download Hotel Tech Report’s 2021 Hotel Management Software Buyer's Guide to inform your vendor search.   This content was created collaboratively by Preno and Hotel Tech Report.