News

News & analysis driven by the Hotel Tech Report platform and global community.

< HotelTechReport Blog

Hotel Hotel CRM & Email Marketing Software Articles

Cover image

34 Free Hospitality eBooks You Can Download Right Now

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

The hospitality management and hotel management industry is extremely complex with many moving pieces.   Whether you work in the front office, food and beverage management, corporate sustainability, human resources or anywhere in between - you'll need to constantly stay up to date with the latest trends in this fast paced industry.  That's why Hotel Tech Report curated  this free ebook collection filled with case studies, tutorials, research and guidebooks.

Cover image

Get Smart: Are You Running an Intelligent Hotel?

by
Sean Beardmore
5 months ago

There’s no question that, in these unprecedented times, hotels are facing serious challenges. With the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic impacting so much in the hospitality sector – and these effects varying from season to season and, even, month to month – hoteliers are trying to fulfill the needs and desires of loyal and new guests like never before. To remain open and build the seeds of resurgence for when the coronavirus has receded and, mercifully, the pandemic is behind us, owners are coming to the realisation their hotels must become more intelligently-run enterprises. They need to become hotels run as efficiently and effectively as possible – they need to become ‘intelligent hotels’. But what does this mean in practice? What does an intelligent hotel look like? It comes down to the systems implemented and maintained, on a daily basis. It’s about trying to maximise profit by ensuring a hotel offers direct room-booking and that marketing activity and revenue management blend and work together seamlessly – and then using this symbiotic relationship to increase the revenue-per-available room (RevPar) to drive up bottom-line revenue.   Intelligent Advertising So, if you’re seeking to run your hotel more intelligently, where to start? Well, advertising the property and its available rooms in the smartest way possible, direct to potential guests via pay-per-click (PPC) Google Ads, isn’t a bad place to start. This is because it would ensure your available rooms are advertised not just when they become available, but also to exactly the kind of people most likely to book them. Indeed, to run their property ‘intelligently’, then, a hotelier may well seek out top-of-the-range ‘intelligent ads’ software to complement and enhance their PPC activity. Such a solution would be designed to exploit the hotel’s data insights, in order to drive and improve Google Ads performance, by targeting the most likely bookers and so, in turn, maximise room reservations and increase additional spend on services and amenities. Now, if this kind of digital marketing sounds state-of-the-art, that’s because it is. ‘Intelligent ads’ software solutions like this are at the sharp end of room advertising, ensuring hoteliers can reap the rewards of the latest integrated marketing techniques and digital technology. They seek to drive up revenues at a time when the industry’s facing great instability; when hoteliers are seeking certainties to remain competitive, progress and look to the future with confidence instead of mere hope. ‘Intelligent ads’ solutions tend to be automated; you can set them up as you want and leave them to do their thing – confident they’ll get on and do exactly what they should. For instance, once you’ve set the objectives and the spending limits for your PPC campaigns, you can trust the module to run the campaigns without you having to step in, check on or oversee anything. The software doesn’t just target the right audience but also works out the most profitable target keywords, uses them in ad campaigns and – by scouring past market data drawn from previous campaigns – recommends new keywords for use.   A Great Guest Management Platform All that notwithstanding, any ‘intelligent ads’ solution will be enhanced if it’s capable of connecting and interacting with an outstanding guest management system (GMS). Why? Because if the software is fully integrated with a GMS, it means a hotel owner can maximise their data to convert exactly the guests they desire into bookers. So, what does such a comprehensive management system look like? Well, as a fully-GDPR-compliant, all-in-one platform, it will deliver full guest-data-intelligence to hotel owners. It will be capable, too, of interacting with practically any property management system (PMS) and social media platform to enhance its analysing, quantifying, segmenting and predicting of loyal guest behaviour. In essence, then, an ‘intelligently run’ hotel would be making use of a management system that’s really a GMS/ CRM-plus; being able to harness its AI functionality to not just collate guest data but analyse details of guests’ social attributes, stay behaviour and historical spend. In turn, this would provide a hotelier with invaluable knowledge of their core customers, ensuring the platform can aid intelligent-ads in reaching these customers with pertinent, personalised content and offers – thereby converting them into bookers precisely as and when needed. Moreover, from its single, central dashboard an ‘intelligent’ GMS of this kind would take control of messaging. It would manage marketing emails and social media messages to all the hotel’s followers, as well as analyse these followers. It would create and send out personalised surveys to all or specific guests – before, during and after their stays. Plus, it would enable hoteliers to analyse guest reviews and respond to these reviews – not just on social media accounts/ platforms but also on much-used hotel review sites – thus, making sure they can fully manage their hotel’s online reputation.   A Brilliant Booking Engine Finally, to operate as an ‘intelligent hotel’, a property has to be backed up not just by an outstanding GMS and be able to fire off intelligent ads, but also exploit the advantages offered by a brilliant booking engine. Why? Because a guest’s experience with a hotel doesn’t begin when they walk through the front door and stroll through the lobby to the front desk; it starts far earlier. A guest experience begins as soon as they start to book a room at the hotel – it starts with their experience of that hotel’s booking engine. No hotel can be run intelligently unless it’s using a top-of-the-range booking engine. Such a booking software solution, then, delivers exactly what hotel owners require. Offering exceptional tools and features, it can be customised to fit a hotel’s brand needs. A fully-functional booking engine like this ought, too, to be fast-operating and easy-to-use; designed to provide a consistent experience on hotel websites that appeases customers and makes them far more likely to book direct rather than through an OTA (without redirections or pop-ups). It’s all about building loyalty among guests and, therefore, maximising conversions. Moreover, a state-of-the-art booking engine will enable customers to compare room prices with those offered by online travel agents (OTAs) – when the room price available is cheaper than those offered by OTAs. Plus, being able to integrate with hotel marketing/ management platforms, it should help hoteliers better understand and engage their guests, so they can gain insights to improve overall guest experiences, drive up ancillary revenues and boost direct booking revenues.   Conclusion Without doubt, the world – and, by extension, the hospitality sector – is going through unprecedented changes. Yet, with or without the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re living in the digital age and, with that, comes rapid advancements and opportunities. For hoteliers, that means taking full advantage of the chance to deliver and increase direct hotel bookings and boost revenues, thanks to integrated hotel management platforms, intelligent marketing/ ad campaigns and customisable booking engines. Should they not do so, hotel owners will lose ground to rivals in these uncompromising, unpredictable times. Put simply, every hotelier should join and fully prosper from today’s digital age – by making their hotel an intelligent hotel.  

Cover image

What Does SMERF Stand for in the Hotel Industry?

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

Sorry to disappoint, but little blue cartoon characters aren’t the stars of this article - hotel sales manager tactics are. SMERF (or the SMERF market) has a totally different meaning in a hospitality context - one that we’ll explore in the next few paragraphs. Trying to diversify your business mix? Looking to fill some rooms in the off-season? By the end of this article, you’ll have gained a thorough understanding of SMERF in the hospitality industry, what benefits SMERF business can bring to your hotel, and how your hotel can attract SMERF guests and functions.   What is SMERF (Social, Military, Educational, Religious, Fraternal)? Okay, let’s break down that acronym. SMERF stands for Social, Military, Educational, Religious, and Fraternal groups. Groups related to sports, entertainment, and recreation, like high school sports teams, fall into this category too. Common SMERF events include weddings, family reunions, religious seminars, and meetings for organizations like the Elks or Rotary Club.  Event planners at hotels like Marriott and Hilton near convention centers and CVBs (convention & visitors bureau) understand the power of SMERF business as much as anyone. These groups book event space, room blocks, and F&B like corporate groups do, but there are some key differences. Unlike corporate group travelers, SMERF guests generally foot their own bill (rather than charging the company credit card). However, the SMERF segment is known to be more price-sensitive than corporate travelers since guests pay out of pocket for their expenses. Another notable characteristic of SMERF is because these guests aren’t traveling or booking event space for business functions, SMERF bookings often fall outside normal working hours - either at night, on weekends, or over holiday periods.   Key Advantages of SMERF You might be wondering why to focus on SMERF meetings if guests are more price-conscious than your average high-rolling business traveler. Even if SMERF bookings aren’t going to fill your penthouse suites, this segment does present several compelling benefits.  Offering incentives to this market segment can be a great way to fill up lower tiered rooms and increase occupancy (even ADR on unsold rooms) at your property: Fill need periods outside of working hours: Since SMERF events typically happen outside of work hours, this segment can be a perfect complement to a hotel’s existing corporate business. Does your hotel restaurant fill up during the lunch period but sit empty in the evenings? Is your RevPAR generally lower on weekend nights? SMERF can help you fill these gaps with events held on nights and weekends. Fill off-season periods: In addition to booking outside of working hours, SMERF groups can also drive business during your off-season. Seeing as SMERF is a more price-sensitive segment, these groups are looking for the best deal. With students paying out of pocket, the local Model UN team probably won’t want to hold their summit on the busiest, most expensive weekend of the year. Instead, they’ll choose a less expensive date - which might be exactly when you need a little boost in occupancy. Reliable group segment: SMERF is a reliable segment in all market conditions. Travel and economic trends can vary from year to year, and city-wide conventions can come and go, but the Smith clan is still going to hold their annual family reunion and the local chess club is still going to host their yearly tournament. Weddings, in particular, are more “recession-proof” than business functions; when companies tighten their belts or scale down conferences, couples still go all-out on the big day with extravagant F&B, A/V, and decor.. Size, budgets, and needs vary: Although SMERF groups have many similar characteristics, no SMERF group is the same. They come in all sizes and with a vast variety of needs and budgets. Therefore, hotels of all sizes and price ranges can target SMERF groups. Even if your hotel has limited F&B offerings or basic event space, it might be perfect for a SMERF group. With these benefits, SMERF can be a strategic way to fill need periods and lock in repeat events that happen year after year.   How Can Your Hotel Attract More SMERF Business? The first step to launching a SMERF strategy is to understand your existing SMERF business. What kind of SMERF groups are booking your hotel already? What can you do to encourage repeat bookings from the same groups? Nurturing the relationships you already have is a great way to secure future bookings and to help you understand what drew those groups to your hotel in the first place. This knowledge will help you effectively market your property to new groups. Next, you can think about new leads to go after. Are there any local groups similar to groups who have stayed with you in the past? For example, if you’ve developed a strong relationship with a local chess club, maybe the local bridge club would be a good lead to investigate. Besides reaching out to organizations, clubs, or teams directly, you can sponsor or attend trade shows or work with the local destination marketing organization or convention and visitors bureau to spread the word about your hotel.  As you start the prospecting process, remember that your SMERF contacts are unlikely to be professional meeting planners; they’re often volunteering their time, and maybe they’ve never booked a room block or signed a BEO before. Taking a little extra time to explain the process, answer questions, and offer advice can go a long way in these relationships. Although, from a numbers perspective, SMERF events might seem like they’re less important than a major corporate event, these events can be incredibly important to the attendees. SMERF guests will be delighted to see the hotel staff treating their event with the same level of care and attention as any Fortune 500 company’s event. And any extras you can throw in, like free airport pickups or an upgrade for a guest of honor will help you secure repeat business.  There’s no perfect recipe to success with SMERF, so it’s crucial to learn as you go. After each event, make sure to ask for feedback from guests and employees to determine what you did right and where you can improve. Do you have any questions about SMERF? Let us know!

Cover image

How Hotel Tech Can Help with Labor Shortages

by
Sarah Duguay
5 months ago

As travel opens up, so comes a surge of travel. Pent-up desire for holidays has resulted in what some are calling ‘revenge travel.’ After some hesitation, hoteliers are reporting more demand than ever since the beginning of the pandemic. This has resulted in a challenging scenario. Before COVID-19, the hospitality industry was no stranger to employee retention and acquisition issues. But suddenly, faced with low bookings, many hotels had to make the difficult decision to lay off staff. Fast forward to today, some hotels have been forced to turn away guests because of even greater staff shortages than before. While theories abound about shortages, accompanied by HR strategies to attract new hotel employees, we’re here to remind you to take a deep breath because hotel tech is here to help! Tried and true, existing hotel tech can help your hotel with labor shortages by making operations more efficient and less time-consuming while improving the guest experience.   PMS Features and Integrations Alleviate Hotel Labor Shortages According to Revinate, 95% of hoteliers are facing a staff shortage while occupancy is experiencing record highs. One hotel in their report said their shortage has them operating with only 70-75% of their staffing levels. This is the norm, not the outlier, in today’s market. But, as many independent hotels learned during the pandemic, those with a cloud-based property management system (PMS) already have a leg-up on their ability to streamline operations and maximize staff. Because, as the name implies, cloud-based PMS exist in the ‘cloud’ (they run online), operators can manage their hotels from anywhere at any time. Hotel managers no longer need to drop everything and dash back to the hotel to deal with accounting issues or make rate changes. Front-desk duties, such as group management and availability calendars, or back-office tasks, like rate management and financials, are all at your fingertips, wherever you are.   Automation. Nothing streamlines operations like automated systems! At the heart of operations, the PMS automatically coordinates reservations, inventory and availability, housekeeping, and reporting, centralizing data to streamline front- and back-office tasks. For example, instead of manually sending routine emails to guests, set up and send templated emails from your PMS automatically based on defined triggers for booking confirmation, pre-arrival, check-in and post-stay communications, waitlists, group bookings, rental agreements, and more.  A cloud PMS is easily integrated with your other hotel systems — including payment gateways, OTAs, point-of-sale systems, locking systems, CRMs, and revenue management software, etc. — to automatically share relevant reservation data with those systems so that staff don’t have to manually re-enter information into multiple systems. System integration with your PMS at the core is an important part of automating processes and maximizing efficiency.   Self Check-in: Let guests jump the queue with online registration and self check-ins — saving you time and resources in the process. Typically, hotel guest check-ins — with forms to sign and policies to review — take around five minutes per guest and often result in queues, occupying your front desk staff and frustrating guests. By moving this process online, all agreements, waivers, screening, and guest information collection is completed online by your guests in advance of arriving at the hotel, improving the guest experience by not having to wait in a physical queue, while simultaneously saving staff a lot of time! With automated email or SMS communications, payment gateway and mobile key integration, the entire check-in process can be automated.   Rate Management: Flexible rate management tools make monitoring and adjusting pricing a cinch, from creating group discounts and package rates to instant overrides. Yield management functionality allows you to automatically adjust prices based on predetermined occupancy rules — talk about a time saver! If you haven’t already added a commission-free online booking engine (OBE) to your property’s website, this is your first order of business. Integrated with the PMS, reservations made by guests using the OBE are automatically updated in the PMS, and live rates and availability are always displayed online. Not only will you save valuable employee time from taking reservations by phone and email but today’s guests expect (and many even prefer) to book online. While OTAs are a great way for guests to find you and book online, why not offer your own online bookings and save on commissions? Speaking of OTAs, you’ll also save time by integrating your OTA channels or channel manager with your PMS to synchronize live inventory, rates and availability across channels, instead of managing each separately. Plus, all reservations coming through your channel partners are automatically updated in your PMS so no matter where guests book, they always have access to up-to-date availability. Integrating your PMS with your online distribution channels is a must for maximizing time and preventing overbooking.    Housekeeping reports: While a PMS cannot perform housekeeping duties, it can make housekeeping processes more efficient, which is essential with a lean staff. With a mobile housekeeping report, staff can check their housekeeping schedule using their own mobile phones, to see which rooms are vacated and ready to be cleaned and to mark rooms as clean as they go, adding housekeeping notes and maintenance alarms as required. The front desk is kept in the loop in real time with the same system. Furthermore, checklists for each room keep staff on track to ensure nothing is overlooked — because as you know, when it comes to cleanliness, guest standards are higher than ever before due to the pandemic.   Mobile keys: Keyless entry is an elegant accompaniment to online registrations and check-ins. While it may seem small, keyless entry technology removes the headache of keys altogether, whether it’s actual keys or cards. No more sanitizing, organizing, re-setting, or distributing. With keyless entry system integration with your PMS, guests can simply unlock their room door with their mobile device. Along with online check-ins, keyless entry integration allows guests to bypass the front desk altogether! Imagine no guest lineups at the designated check-in time and no key drop-offs at check-out. Did we just hear a sigh of relief?   Save time, resources, and money by employing smart room technologies. Allowing guests to adjust room temperature and lighting with their phones puts comfort into the palm of their hands. Better still, IoT offers the ultimate in personalization with room light levels that adjust with the time of day, and keeps the room temperature at exactly the right level — automatically. This kind of efficiency decreases demand on housekeeping and maintenance teams and helps with your sustainability initiatives.    Chatbots: Hotel Chatbots are an excellent way to assist your online guests 24/7 without any extra effort from staff. Integrated with your hotel's website and/or within your guest messaging app, an AI or rules-based chatbot can assist guests with booking, requests, FAQs, upsells, and local recommendations. Younger generations are the most comfortable seeking help from chatbots, with many guests preferring to search for answers this way than connecting with a real human — which frees up your human employees for in-person help.   Robot room service: A couple of years ago, robot room service was exclusively seen as a novelty service to delight guests. But in the age of COVID-19, it’s obvious to see the practical utility of employing robots by reducing human contact (and thus germs) and by reducing the need for bellhops. Because labor shortage is a trend that existed even before the pandemic hit, perhaps investing in robot room service is no longer pie in the sky. Isn’t technology an amazing thing? Instead of providing a lack of care or impersonal service (a common fear about using technology), today’s hotel tech provides hoteliers with a way to upgrade the guest experience even in the face of decreased staffing. If your property does not have one already, a robust and innovative cloud PMS like WebRezPro can set you on the path toward hospitality excellence and higher revenue, not to mention less stress.  

Cover image

8 Ways a Hotel PMS Improves Operations and the Guest Experience

by
Jan Hejny
5 months ago

Shortly after COVID restrictions were eased, I went on a short golfing trip to Austria. I booked a well-known boutique hotel with a SPA and a fantastic restaurant surrounded by vineyards. I found out later that many other people had the same idea, as the hotel was fully booked for the weekend. Well, good for them, I thought. Anyway, when I arrived, it was raining, and I didn't bring my umbrella with me. So I came into the hotel soaked, hungry, and in desperate need of a shower. Unfortunately, out of the two check-in desks available, only one was operating, and the poor guy was trying hard to check in all the arriving guests as quickly as possible, while doing his best to have a cordial chat with them. Make no mistake: I'm sure it wasn't his fault that we had to wait for five minutes before he finished with the previous guest. When finally my turn came, the receptionist spent a tremendous amount of time staring down at his computer. I tried to ask him a few PMS-related questions, to understand why it was taking so long (of course, he didn't have any idea I knew a thing or two about PMSs), but I started to feel bad for the people waiting behind me, so I stopped any efforts to communicate with him, and I wasn't even told where and until when I could get my breakfast or where the SPA was. And that was the moment I realized, at least on a personal level, that there's something intrinsically wrong with hotel tech today.   When Technology Breaks Down Now, I am sure that, if you’re a frequent traveler like me, you have similar horror stories. According to a Qualtrics survey, 57% of poor hotel experiences are down to unfriendly staff. Problem is that, very often, hotel staff is unfriendly because they’re overworked, especially post-COVID, when properties are operating with skeleton staff. Here’s where technology should help, but the Austrian one is the perfect example of a case where it didn’t, and this happens way more than we, in the industry, like to admit. Moreover, tech should not only improve operations, but guest experience as well. Bad news is that, often, it fails in both fields. When your tech stack increases workload and waiting time at the reception (or in any other department, for that matter), you know you’ve got a problem. Technology is fallible, whatever you may think, and choosing the wrong software can heavily penalize your operation. A couple of years ago, a curious news story was published: the Henn-na hotel in Japan, known mainly because a good part of its employees are actual robots, had to "fire" 243 of them for doing "a bad job." One staff member, interviewed by The Mirror, stated: "It's easier now that we're not being frequently called by guests to help with problems with the robots." Well, this is an extreme example, but it’s not uncommon to see hotel staff having to find hacks and workarounds to make things work. If you’ve ever had a job in the hotel business, you know exactly what I am talking about.   The Role of the PMS in the Hotel Tech Stack Now, at the core of hotel operations, there’s always the PMS, so this is where the majority of problems start: bad integrations, lack of built-in features, etc. Choosing wisely is crucial, but not always easy, especially because hoteliers may be, paradoxically, unaware of the problems they need to solve. This is not due to the fact that hoteliers are bad entrepreneurs, quite the opposite! Problem is that being a hotelier means having to manage many operational aspects of the job, most of which are very complex and detailed. A General Manager, for instance, will obviously have to prioritize certain tasks, rather than spending hours to go deep and understand a certain technical problem. The thing with PMSs is that they’re the kind of software which is used by several different departments, so everyone has an opinion on it, yet a partial one. Sales & Marketing will likely never have to insert a group reservation, while the front office department won’t have to deal with MICE requests. In my experience, General Managers are the ones which can green light the implementation of a new software, coordinating, understanding and synchronising different departments’ needs, but chances are that their vision is limited, due to too many things on their minds, too. And we’re back to the hotel in Austria: somebody picks the wrong software, the system makes the life of all (or, at least, some) employees miserable, there’s less time to focus on the guests (which is even worse than the previous issue, while, of course, unhappy employees are unlikely to make guests happy), and… Well, you see where I am going with this, don’t you?   How PMSs Can Improve Operations and Guest Experience So, when picking a PMS, you should always be asking the one million dollar question: will this system make my life (and the life of my staff) easier so that they can make my guests happier? Knowing what to look for in a PMS can make a huge difference, so make sure that you understand what a property management system can (or can’t) do for you while trying to go into details during the process. Because if there’s anything we have learned over the past two decades, is that the devil is always hidden in details. Here are some of the areas where a good PMS can actually make a difference for both the hotel staff and guests: Reducing the workload during the check-in/out process. A publication by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research studied guests’ tolerance of delays during check-ins, and found that the “breaking point” for US guests is as short as five minutes. There’s an interesting discussion on Quora titled “What is the actual average length of time (in minutes) for hotel check-in and check-out?” Of course, the method is far from scientific, but it’s a fascinating read. According to the discussion, a best-case-scenario-check-in is at least 2-3 minutes. You know what that means? That if an American guest has two persons in front of him, he will likely leave a pesky review… Self check-in kiosks and apps can dramatically improve the check-in/out experience, yet most PMS do not support the technology; Remove friction during payments. It’s not uncommon to find hotels that still manage credit card payments manually. Usually, it goes like this: the back office department receives a booking, and they have to log in into the extranet, find the reservation, get the card, switch to another page for the CVC, get the physical terminal POS, type the total amount and the card details, wait for the transaction to go through. If this doesn’t look like a big deal for you, try to time your staff while they do it. I doubt it will take them less than five minutes per transaction. Now, let’s say you receive 25 reservations a day: that’s over two hours wasted just to charge credit cards. Not to mention what happens if the card does not work, you have to ask for a new one and start the process all over again. A PMS can solve the issue with payment automation proprietary features, or by integrating to third-party providers; Integrate invoicing systems. It may sound crazy in 2021, but I have seen too many hotels where the reception has to ask accountants to issue an invoice and, on the other side, too many accountants typing numbers manually from PMSs reports into their accounting systems… A simple integration will save hours of manpower every day; Connect your PMS to your SPA system. In most cases, if a hotel guest wants to book a treatment at the desk, the reception has to call the SPA, check availability and then book. Integrating the two systems will dramatically reduce workload, and guests will also be able to book and check availability directly online; Get smart in F&B. The adoption of QR codes and online ordering increased dramatically due to anti-COVID guidelines, and this is a prime example of a system that can dramatically reduce waiting times and improve guest experience. Customers are able to order (and pay) immediately on their phones. This reduces the waiting time (the waiter does not have to come and take your order or bring you the bill). Customers are in full control of the timing, and restaurants can allocate less staff to serve the same number of people, saving money. Moreover, thanks to Kitchen Display Systems (KDS), orders are not printed on paper but are shown digitally on a screen in the kitchen. KDS can also measure the average time needed to cook a meal, improving efficiency and customer satisfaction; Housekeeping digitalization. Another feature that COVID dramatically accelerated is the adoption of housekeeping apps, both built-in in the PMS or provided by third-party vendors. They reduce workload and make communication between departments easier. Hoteliers can also benchmark housekeeping staff timing to optimize operations and - particularly important for green hotels - drastically reduce the use of paper. According to a study, hotels use almost 2B A4 sheets per year in the United States only, meaning that 268,000 trees are chopped down annually only to fulfill the hotel industry's needs. It's the equivalent of 15 New York Central Park worth of trees cut every year! Automated emailing. Even though this is a feature we tend to associate with CRMs, some PMSs provide built-in functionality to communicate with guests pre/mid/post-stay, improving both the guest experience and increasing revenue coming from ancillary services proposed in the emails; Connect. Connect. Connect. It may sound crazy, but there are still a lot of hotels without a proper 2-way-integration between the PMS and the channel manager. It goes without saying that linking the two systems will dramatically reduce workload and bring human error down to virtually zero.   Understand the Tradeoffs of New Technology to Maximize Impact Paul Virilio once stated: “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution... Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.” This is true for hotel tech as well, that is why implementing technology just for the sake of it it’s never a good idea. Choosing any software, and PMSs, in particular, requires a complete understanding of the property’s current (and future) needs. The risk with picking the wrong system is to end up like the Austrian hotel I wrote about at the beginning of this piece. At HotelTime Solutions, we provide tailored solutions and follow our customers during all the phases of the implementation, making sure that they can focus on what they do best: taking care of their guests.  

Cover image

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

by
Stefano Mocella
5 months 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.  

Cover image

The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2022)

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months 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.

Cover image

Advanced Profile Synthesis: Your CRM’s Missing Ingredient

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months 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.  

Cover image

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

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 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.