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RMS Hospitality Cloud: What You Need To Know About Its Hotel Management System

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

The global hospitality industry has enjoyed a decade of consistent growth. And, whether or not this growth continues, hotels must be prepared to preserve profits in the inevitable downturn. Part of this preparation/preservation involves having the right technology in place to weather the next dip in global demand, technology that’s versatile enough to provide multiple functions in a single package at a reasonable cost. Technology is no longer built for one specific task — to help drive revenue, for example — but instead aims to help hoteliers work smarter and more effectively, and to help them provide a better guest experience. -Jason Freed The most mission-critical technology for any hotel is the software used to manage operations. This is the software that reaches across the operation to connect departments and facilitate efficiency and profitability. With the right hotel management system, hotels are able to more effectively allocate resources, expand their distribution visibility, and maintain service standards -- which leads to a virtuous cycle of a better guest experience, more reviews, and more bookings. That type of loop is a helpful momentum-builder in good times and bad. In our ongoing series comparing other leading hotel management systems (check out our Deep Dives of Cloudbeds HMS and Hotelogix HMS), we now turn our attention to the RMS Hospitality Cloud, a fully-integrated hotel management system.   What RMS does: All-in-one, cloud-based hotel management solution  RMS is a cloud-based hotel management solution that brings together everything a hotel needs to operate a hotel profitably and efficiently. This includes: a channel manager that distributes your hotel’s inventory across multiple channels to increase visibility and bookings. a property management system that centralizes reservations, housekeeping management, and back-office tools in one place.   a booking engine to take reservations on your own website.  a mobile app and guest portal that centralizes guest communications, property information, check-in, and room access. a loyalty rewards module for simple program creation and integrated redemption of accumulated points. an email marketing tool with customizable templates for automated marketing communications. Each of these modules work together by sharing data in real-time so that hotels operate at peak efficiency and profitability. That seamless collaboration is one of the main reasons for using a single hotel management solution: no expensive integrations or messy workarounds; it all just works.      Read reviews of RMS Hospitality.   Who RMS is for: Properties of all sizes There are two flavors of RMS: Pro and Prime. RMS Pro is ideally suited to multi-property portfolios and larger hotels, motels resorts that have more complex needs. These are properties that generally want some measure of customization to align their hotel management technology with the unique needs of their operation.  The all-in-one hotel management system from RMS syncs across devices. Prime, which was introduced in 2019, is a streamlined version of its hotel management software that’s geared towards independents and boutique hotels. These single properties are usually smaller with less complex operations and prefer tech solutions that are quick to onboard and affordable. They definitely don’t want to pay for functionality that they won't use, or face a steep uphill battle when integrating a new technology and training staff. With the addition of RMS Prime, hotels of all sizes can find a hotel management solution that meets their needs. One unique aspect of RMS is that it also serves other lodging categories, offering management software for marinas, campgrounds, and RV resorts. Each of these categories has specific needs that the software accommodates, such as creating detailed boater profiles for marinas, managing different site types for campgrounds, and interactive maps for RV resorts.   Why RMS: Notable Features For Hoteliers Customizable Loyalty Program Loyalty is a major force in hospitality. Consumers are willing to spend more to stay at their preferred hotel brands: for business travelers, it’s a $27 premium and for leisure travelers it’s $23. Unfortunately, even though guest rewards can be a revenue-driving marketing tool, launching a loyalty program can be a complicated and pricey prospect for hotels. RMS is trying to reduce that burden with its Guest Rewards module launching in early 2020. The module empowers RMS customers to create their own rewards programs and encourage guest loyalty by awarding points for each stay. These points can then be redeemed for future stays. Enrollment is simple and straightforward: staff can enroll existing guests into the loyalty program with a hassle-free, one-click experience. Redemption is also easy: with direct integration into the booking engine, guests can redeem points without having to jump through additional hoops.   The RMS Rewards Module allows hotels to launch campaigns with loyalty-based incentives. Hotels can then use smart segmentation of rewards members to drive business priorities. For example, creating marketing campaigns that offer double points or half-price reward redemptions to incentivize specific segments of past guests to book or redeem rewards. This type of segmentation is essential to building a successful loyalty program, as different segments have different motivations. Hotels must be able to target their loyalty marketing efforts accordingly -- especially as consumers are willing to spend more to stay at their preferred brands. Integrated housekeeping management and POS With stress in the workplace rising and talent shortages making headlines, hotels must be mindful of both controlling labor costs and empowering teams with the tools that improve work life. RMS’ all-in-one approach to hotel management offers: Housekeeping management. Room status and housekeeping work assignments are handled right within the PMS. While this is a standard feature in property management software, each software handles it differently. RMS centralizes everything in a Housekeeping Portal, so that managers can allocate tasks and staff can complete tasks in the same interface. The Portal is also mobile-capable so staff can update room status for up-to-date status reports accessible from anywhere.   Point-of-sale management. The integrated POS management makes it easier to generate ancillary revenue. Staff can process sales and returns, as well as charge guest accounts directly to avoid manual folio nightmares. There’s also an inventory component so that you don’t necessarily need separate inventory tracking software. Both of these modules have the added benefit of making more money for hotels. Whether it’s by flipping rooms more quickly for upsells or generating more revenue from guests, these tools are also potential boosts to the bottom line. Guest portal with mobile check-in and automated marketing Guests can check-in anywhere they like, from any device. This speeds up the check-in process and prevents lines from backing up in the lobby. Self-service allows guests to self-select; those that prefer in-person interactions will continue to check in at the front desk and others can skip the front desk. When guests are empowered to craft their own experience, they are generally more satisfied. And satisfied guests lead to more positive reviews and a better online reputation.  And it’s not just mobile check-in. The guest portal features the ability to message a property, add names to a reservation, and to update the expected time of arrival -- such instant self-service functionality is fast becoming an expectation for all hotels, as 90% of consumers prefer doing business with brands that answer questions immediately. In addition to the online chat via the guest portal, RMS supports SMS texts, with all communications centralized in a single dashboard view so that staff can easily follow each thread, regardless of who is working the shift. Hotels can also increase upsells via the guest portal. RMS has “automated self-service technology” that doesn’t require additional investment in upselling software. Upsells and other offers can be displayed at different points in the check-in process, both in the guest portal and via the customizable email marketing automation tool that’s integrated into the RMS system. Dynamic Pricing Engine With RMS, dynamic pricing isn't only reserved for major brands with standalone revenue management tools. Hotels can maximize profits and occupancy through a dynamic pricing engine that’s plugged directly into the booking engine. Rather than static rates that don’t adjust to demand, rates are adjusted based on how a predetermined occupancy levels. You set the desired occupancy and the rates fluctuate depending on property- and market-level demand signals. Rates automatically go up as demand increases and go down when demand drops. The RMS Dynamic Pricing module also allows hotels to set expiration dates on specific rates. This is useful for marketing campaigns that feature time-limited rate promotions. By setting a timeframe for that special offer, you won’t suddenly discover a bunch of underpriced bookings because a special rate from a previous promotion was never turned off.  Smart Printing As one RMS reviewer expressed frustration with printing folios (lamenting going through the “the BS to print a receipt”), RMS offers Smart Printing. The functionality addresses the very real frustrations of setting up printers with proper routing. For properties with multiple POS, there’s greater complexity in routing each print actions to the preferred printer. This routing can be especially beneficial for faster night audits and more organized group checkouts. In only a couple of clicks, RMS Smart Printing reduces that complexity by allowing: (1) Smart routing to define which print jobs go to which printers, so folios print at the front desk and reports print in the back office. (2) User-level printing rules so a user can be logged into multiple devices but only enable Smart Printing on one device and not all devices.    RMS: Pros and Cons According to its Customers  RMS has 20 verified customer reviews, nearly each of which has a direct response by the RMS team. That responsiveness makes sense, as the most common thread mentioning the stellar customer support. It’s something that was mentioned in nearly every review, with words like “excellent,” “awesome,” “patient,” “kind,” polite and “knowledgeable.” As far as implementation, one reviewer said that “the assistance in setting up the system was great,” and another thanking “the support team for working through tricky implementations.” Even so, there’s room for improvement, with one user lauding the quality of support but also saying that “the knowledge base could be improved. It would also be nice to have a user forum, where users could help each other out.” The dual-edged sword of a deeply customizable system was also mentioned by one reviewer, who said that RMS is a “powerful software that is customizable and has a lot of options...this is both a strength and a weakness. Strength for being able to customize, but weakness for complexity.” Some other pros and cons per verified RMS user reviews: Pros: Great support: “very appreciative of the Tech support assistance” that’s “courteous, timely, patient in assisting our staff” and accessible: “There is always someone to assist when I have a question (and I had a lot of questions).”  Interface: “The system is easy to use” Easy group reservations: “the ease of doing group reservations and being able to manipulate existing reservations right from the booking chart.” Cons: Data sync: “Some of the synchronization issues have been challenging” with a lack of “True two way connections.” Country-specific printing issues: “In Canada tax receipts are just a copy of the folio and can be printed at any time. There is no need in this country to go through the BS to print a receipt.” Accounting: “The owner accounting portion needs work.” Integrations: “I would like to see more integrations with other products like Google Data Studio.”   Next Steps with RMS For hotels requiring customization, it will take a conversation with an account manager to determine the next steps. The conversation will help the team understand your property’s specific needs and the best path to a successful implementation. For smaller properties, RMS Prime can be implemented quickly and with little downtime. In both cases, the 24/7/365 RMS support team strives for a smooth transition, as evidenced by reviews highlighting “informative as well as creative” support with “experienced troubleshooting skills” for any implementation issues that arise. No matter what happens economically, the power of technology is that it frees staff from mundane, repetitive tasks that make work miserable, says hotelier Jonathan Tisch: “We need to ask, how can technology free-up our team members from more mundane tasks and allow them to focus their energies on high value-added service that only humans can deliver.” With that freedom, hotels are able to boost efficiency while also preserving -- or even enhancing -- service standards.  

Visual Merchandising: Here's What You Need to Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 weeks ago

Interested in revamping your hotel pantry this year? Many hotel owners know they need a lobby shop, but they’re not sure how to make the most of their inventory, space, and pricing scheme. The answer lies in visual merchandising, a practice mastered by grocery stores and retailers that use shopper marketing techniques and psychology to improve profits through simple, yet powerful design choices. Smart hotel owners can apply lessons from supermarkets to their lobby shops and on-site gift stores to increase profit and improve the guest experience. Intelligent retail that uses visual merchandising with a data-driven inventory and retail solution can lead to a dramatic increase in profit. Impulsify is one such solution that’s proven to help hotels grow profit from their lobby pantries. Here’s how to improve sales while minimizing deadstock inventory by using visual merchandising.   What is visual merchandising? In the retail industry, visual merchandising refers to building window displays, floor displays, and floor layouts to attract customers, highlight products, and boost sales. Visual merchandising meets the need of customers to see and experience a product before they make a purchase. According to the US Department of Commerce, only 14.3% of total retail sales occurred online in 2018. Retail analysts found that “the ability to see, touch and feel products ranks highest among the reasons consumers choose to shop in stores versus online.” Visual merchandising plays a critical role in retail – and hotel owners should take note when they think about how to layout gift shops and lobby pantry stores. Visual merchandising isn’t limited to display windows, though those are a common type of visual merchandising. Other examples include:  Store layout: the floorplan of a retail location or showroom Interior displays that show the technical details of a product (e.g., a cross-section of vacuum cleaner to show how it works).  Mannequins  Point-of-sale displays: products displayed around the register, front-desk, or checkout line to incentivize an impulse purchase.  Lighting and interior design, like carpets, window fittings, and ambient light Seasonal displays for holidays like Halloween and Christmas Cross merchandising: displaying products from different categories that go together to increase upsell and cross-sell opportunities (e.g., showing barbeque tools next to charcoal and fire starters). Retail stores like Amazon Go complement the visual displays outlined above with technical elements, like self-checkout, cash-less checkout, or scent and music cues which further entice customers to complete a purchase. Visual elements – like color and design – combine with frictionless checkout to make it easy for customers to buy.    Elements of visual merchandising Visual merchandising in retail is as much a science as it is an art. There are five important elements that play a role in visual merchandising: Color: color affects a customer’s mood, brand associations – and even appetite. Use coordinating color to catch the eye of a customer and draw them into your display.  Space: every store and hotel has empty space; be thoughtful about taking up that space with signage, customer testimonials, or another product display. For hotels, that might include redesigning your lobby, integrating a retail promotion in your restaurant, or adding displays in hallways between rooms.  Focus: create a focal point, or hotspot, around your product. Hotspots can increase sales by 229 percent.  Make sure the focal point is at eye-level (or lower) so the customer can actually see what you’re promoting.   Narrative: what story does your display tell? Give your display a narrative in three bullet points that tell a customer what they need to know about the product. Signage may not be necessary, but your display should clearly convey a certain message to a viewer.  Exposure: The more products customers see, the more they buy. That doesn’t mean you should cram every product into one display. For instance, instead of stuffing as many products as possible into one window, tactfully use a circular store layout to present as much merchandise as possible as the customer browses. Bottom line: use color to catch a customer’s eye, add products as much as you can without looking cluttered, provide powerful signage to tell a story, and make sure the focal point of any visual merchandising display is always the product.    Visual merchandising techniques Your sales team and front desk staff can easily integrate these elements of visual merchandising to your guest rooms, front lobby, and other otherwise unused spaces at your hotel. Great visual merchandising starts with discovery. “Who are your target customers? That’s an important question when designing displays. Aim to appeal to their lifestyle or the lifestyle they desire. Draw guests in with great signage, colorful displays, and simple elements that align with your hotel branding. Your on-site store branding shouldn’t deviate from the overall hotel brand experience. Know what your guests expect, and deploy techniques that match your target audience. Visual merchandising works best when you combine the elements of design outlined above with frictionless checkout. A huge piece of this strategy can be executed automatically by implementing the right software and tech tools.  Impulsify, for example, offers full-stack systems to manage inventory, design your hotel pantry, and reduce front desk retail traffic by 90%, making it easy for guests to make a purchase in your lobby shop, gift shop, or pantry without stress. Visual merchandising techniques draw in the customer, but it’s the guest’s ability to use self-pay kiosks that integrate with your PMS that result in less inventory shrinkage and higher sales.    Use technology to improve retail profits There are some common themes that can be easily rectified by combining cutting edge (yet affordable) retail management software like Impulsify with a fundamental understanding of visual merchandising. First, let’s review the low hanging fruit that’s solved by software automatically. If you aren’t using data to determine prices, you’re likely leaving money on the table.  The average hotel pantry is underpricing their retail by nearly 25%. Most hotels are anticipating that guests are going to “flinch” when they see the prices listed in the hotel pantry and as a result, most hotels are pricing on the low end, and losing profit in the process. “Nothing in the store – nothing - needs to sell for less than $2.00. Not Q-Tips, Granola bars, Tic Tacs, a bottle of water or a men’s comb. Nothing.” ~Impulsify Hotels also make the mistake of not recognizing the goal of a guest when visiting a hotel pantry: convenience. Set up your pantry to help guests find what they need, quickly. Consider ways you can group products together to make it easy for guests to fill their basket without a lot of searching – putting Tylenol next to the bottles of water, for instance, or grouping together toiletries. Use signs and a price sheet to make it easy for your guests to get in and out.   You can ask front desk agents and bellmen what items guests most commonly request.  Your retail management software provider should also be able to provide high level data to get you started on what’s selling in hotel pantries.  If they’re really good, they’ll even be able to get you data on what’s selling in your market segment and geography. Perhaps the biggest error that hotels make in their retail operations has to do with the front desk. Front desk agents simply don’t have the capacity to help customers with retail purchases. Picture it: there’s a line of guests waiting for check-in, and a few phones ringing just as someone wishes to checkout with a bottle of soda. In that customer’s calculation, your lobby is too busy to make the soda worth waiting for. It’s a missed sale that can be easily avoided with a pantry POS system. It’s easy for customers to see that barcode scanners and self-checkout tools offer a more appealing option than the zoo at the front desk. Finally, use data to shape product mix and placement. Impulsify’s massive database of transactions can show you what inventory will yield the highest profit. Generally, you should categorize your pantry into four groups: sweet, salty, healthy and indulgent. Keep candy bars together, health foods like granola bars separate, and salty foods in their own zone. Impulsify’s planograms – a visual merchandising planning tool that uses popularity, preference, and relevancy to place products strategically – can help you optimize your layout by category. These are the retail problems that are easily solved by great tech, now let’s dive into ways to grow your hotel’s retail revenue today by implementing visual merchandising techniques.   The importance of visual merchandising in hotel retail Visual merchandising can go a long way to reducing wasted inventory and improving profit. First step: prioritize. Hotel guests experience the same challenge as a shopper in a supermarket – choice overload. “In many product categories, reducing the number of choices you offer a customer will improve the odds of making a sale,” explains Forbes. Limit the number of products you offer and a guest will have an easier time choosing a product to buy. For your property, you’ll benefit from spending less on inventory. The incremental revenue achieved when the store is properly merchandised and supplied with quality product offerings is substantial and the guest experience. Once you have your pantry layout mapped according to category, make your pantry more visually appealing. Apply visual merchandising elements – signage, color, and exposure – help guests zero in on what they need. Put candy bars in glass jars or chip bags in baskets to give your pantry the look and feel of a general store. Make sure personal care products are on hooks, forward-facing and easy to grab. Lastly, keep track of what products are being purchased together with a keen focus on tracking inventory, profitability, and sales performance. Once you see that your guests are buying certain products across categories – ginger ale along with anti-nausea pills, for instance – you can be smarter about how you layout product displays. Use data insights upsell opportunities and sunset products that simply aren’t flying off the shelves. This data will help reduce waste while providing your guests with the convenience they really need.  

9 Hotel Marketing Habits You Need to Develop Right Now

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 weeks ago

Do you know how many customers your hotel marketing campaign converted today? This question causes many hotel marketers to break out in a cold sweat. Hotel marketers have many competing priorities to address throughout the day. From meeting with their team to running ads across multiple platforms and planning for the next marketing campaign, few hotel marketers have the time to get granular and learn how their campaigns are actually performing on a day-to-day basis. Carving out time for a daily routine can mitigate some of the anxiety of not knowing whether the work you’re doing is, well, working. Daily rituals, especially for marketers, reduce friction stemming from decision making, eliminate distractions, and help individuals get into that “deep work” mindset faster. Designing a thoughtful routine can give you a clear vision of how your overall marketing budget is performing, eliminating wasted resources or and letting you identify what’s working sooner, rather than later. A hotel marketing manager can develop a daily routine that involves regular collaboration, staying attuned to market trends, and monitoring your competitors to stay ahead. By doing these nine things every day, a marketing manager will establish discipline and industry knowledge to drive revenue with smart marketing campaigns that connect with guests.    Review your hotel marketing plan & track goal progress Start off every day reiterating your goals and prioritizing your tasks based on the impact you think they’ll have on achieving those goals. While most leaders review their goals weekly, a marketing manager has the benefit of getting more instant feedback from Google Ads, blog views and click-through rate, and social media analytics. Reviewing your hotel marketing plan daily can help make sure your day-to-day tasks continuously ladder up to delivering on big-picture goals, like more direct bookings. Make sure your marketing goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. In practice, that means your hotel marketing plan is:  Specific: well-defined and focused.  Measureable: include concrete targets against which you will measure success.  Attainable: aim high, but not so high that you set your marketing up to fail.  Relevant: tied to being attainable, how are your goals relevant to the competitive landscape and macro-economic trends?  Time-based: give yourself a deadline or series of deadlines. SMART goals are actionable; they can help you know which skillset to pull from and which resources to use as you plan your day. Make it part of your routine to revisit these goals to avoid distractions throughout the day.    Collaborate with your team cross-functionally Specifically, a marketing manager should dedicate some time to syncing with their revenue and sales teams. Sales, revenue, and marketing functions must work in lockstep to decide on rates and availability and then create promotional offers and campaigns based on those data points. As one revenue manager explains, “The hotel is an ecosystem, everything connects and affects one another. It’s critical to be aware of what Marketing is trying to promote and communicate because that could affect our decisions the next day.” Assist sales with key accounts and deliver promotions that meet the rate strategy set by revenue management. Set aside face-to-face time each day with sales and revenue to make sure you’re squeezing as much revenue as possible out of your campaigns.   Check-in with your digital marketing agency Even if you perform your routine every day, it’s unlikely that you’ll have enough time to devote to every marketing opportunity available to your property. Delegating to a digital agency like Cendyn is the only way to realistically do everything. A specialized agency will provide digital marketing and web design that brings more traffic to your website, and then ensures you have the graphics, layout, and right on-page SEO settings to capture direct bookings. Improve your SEO and SEM results on Google, Bing and industry specific sites like TripAdvisor & Kayak, and use smart CRM re-targeting to follow up with those at the beginning of the consumer journey. Great agencies can also help deploy social media marketing campaigns and influencer campaigns, driving more viewers to your website. A professional hotel website design team can improve your page’s conversion rate with mobile optimization, personalization, content management and great graphic design. Monitor Google search trends, along with Bing, metasearch, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and more to constantly improve your conversion rates. It’s crucial to make monitoring your digital marketing central to your routine. Check-in with Cendyn to make sure your marketing budget is reaching and converting guests at the best rate possible.    Browse new technologies and research market trends The hospitality industry is changing faster than ever before. Our team has identified more than 100 trends impacting hotels that range from renewable energy to new hotel designs, alternative lodging and everything in between. It took us dozens of hours to compile this list, and it’s likely there are many more trends that we missed. Hotel marketing managers need to incorporate some research into their daily routine to stay on top of current trends as they develop. Learning about current market trends in technology, sustainability, hotel design, smart rooms and the guest experience can help marketing managers generate new blog topics that consumers care about, as well as use social media marketing to highlight specific on-site amenities. For instance, if your hotel uses recycled water to maintain a green rooftop, that’s great content for PR placement on a site like Fast Company. As you monitor new technologies and trends, follow the three key areas that must collaborate for maximum growth: sales, marketing and revenue management. These teams must work in lock-step with each other to generate revenue – meaning it must be part of your routine to collaborate cross-functionally. Cendyn’s acquisition of Rainmaker is an easy way to build an integrated workflow. The Revenue Cloud brings together past, current, and predicted demand data into a single view. As a result, your revenue, sales and marketing managers can alight easily around optimal pricing recommendations.    Study other industries for great marketing ideas Marketing is largely agnostic, meaning what works well in one industry can be replicated in other markets. Read sites like Adweek and Ad Age to take cues from consumer brands and the entertainment industry. Look at how movies are being launched, new beverage brands introduced, or creative ways that restaurants are drawing a crowd for marketing ideas you can incorporate on-site. Case-in-point: traditional Hollywood studios are in fierce competition with streaming sites, just as established hotel chains vye with Airbnb and other alternative accommodation for guests. In Los Angeles, at the epicenter of both these battlefields, “blockbuster hotels” mimic the experience of big-budget movies. Just as The Avengers is designed to blow revenue figures out of the water, hotels are offering premium, unique experiences that small shops can’t replicate. For instance, Petite Hermitage features a Soho House style members only club (only more exclusive) with weekend tarot card readings and jazzy burlesque shows. The Magic Castle features an invite only black tie magic show and the Hollywood Roosevelt famously hosted Beecher’s Madhouse (now shuttered), a debaucherous nightclub and variety show frequented by the likes of Miley Cyrus and The Kardashians. What does this mean for your hotel? Find ways to make waves where other properties can’t. Study how other brands facing disruptive market entrants are adapting to the increased competition.    Get outside your office and speak to guests Guest surveys are a great way to encourage feedback because it’s scalable and easy to access. Another great way to gather customer intelligence and insights is to speak to guests in person. Talk to guests so you can develop a better understanding not just customer personas –  critical to any effective marketing – but also to understand your hotel through their eyes. Often, times the things you learn can be taken and leveraged to market in the authentic voice of your customers. We recommend that marketers do at least 6-8 random guest interviews per quarter to make sure they’ve got a pulse on who’s coming through their doors.  This helps create better offers and content so that your marketing resonates with what guests want. Ask them questions like “why did you choose us versus another property?”, “how did you first hear about our hotel?” and “if you didn’t book with us, where would you have booked and why?”. If you find it hard to get valuable feedback from your guests, at least advertise your guest survey tool and encourage people to leave you private reviews that you can mine for insight.   Browse the latest local events, restaurant openings, etc. Capitalize on local happenings to make your marketing campaigns stick. An event-based promotion can capture a lot of traffic when you pair the right offer with the right keywords. For instance, if your property is near New York City, run a post-NYC marathon spa service special using Google Ads to target “nyc marathon+hotels.” Make paying attention to the calendar part of your daily routine to know when to expect start running a promo for maximum impact. “Around 90% of consumers book within 70 days of their trip, however about 80% of this same group book within just 30 days. Keeping this booking window in mind will help you plan the run-time of your overall strategy,” reports one hotel marketing expert. Events like the marathon will have people booking well in advance; concerts or theater openings will have a shorter lead time. Another option is to use social media to target a specific audience that’s RSVP’d to an event. For instance, use Facebook’s audience tool to reach those attending Salesforce Dreamforce with a “hangover package” you can use to fill rooms after the conference – free late checkout included.    Monitor your compset Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing by reading their blog, signing up for their email newsletter, and setting up a Google Alert to let you know when there’s some news you need to know. Follow them on social media or use a tool like SPYFU and SEMRush to see what words your competitors are using for SEO and SEM. Leverage that keyword research by sharing it with your digital agency to get a leg up on similar properties. Try to ascertain not only what your competitors are doing, but how well they’re doing it: how are your competitor’s campaigns working?    Read non-hospitality marketing blogs Ultimately, digital marketing is similar no matter what vertical you are in. Search algorithms and ad platforms change rapidly; make sure that you are up to date with the latest developments. A few experts we recommend hotel marketers follow include:  Ahrefs: SEO tools and resources to help you grow your search traffic. Their blog offers hands-on tactical advice you can take to improve your website visibility.  Moz: Moz compiles SEO advice, research and how-tos to help you improve your digital marketing, tapping different experts to keep their content fresh. Neil Patel: Neil Patel is a consultant and best-selling author who specializes in digital marketing and SEO.  HubSpot: HubSpot make inbound marketing software, and in the process they gather data and insights around lead generation, email marketing, sales, and social media management.  Seth Godin: Like Neil Patel, Seth is a bestselling author on the subject of digital marketing and content. He focuses on the psychology of marketing and how to make your brand stand out. Regularly following this routine can make a hotel marketer more prepared, more flexible, and more agile when it comes to planning and executing timely marketing campaigns.  

8 Ways to Increase Website Traffic Free

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 weeks ago

Is your hotel trying to get more direct bookings? Or trying to reach specific types of travelers? Maybe just wanting to share updates about a recent renovation? There are a myriad of reasons to want more traffic on your hotel website, but there’s not always a clear answer on how to get it.  Furthermore, acquisition channels like Facebook and Google Ads continue to rise year after year. Many marketers are guilty of trying to throw money at problems they don’t understand. The good news is that there are a ton of ways to increase website traffic free with a little creativity. Where do you start, especially if you don’t have a marketing budget? In this article, we’ll outline 8 ways to increase website traffic free of charge. You don’t need to be a computer guru or professional writer to implement these ideas either; our simple yet impact solutions will help you drive website traffic while keeping costs low. But if your hotel does have some marketing spend available, we’ll also share some ideas for marketing investment that will give you a big bang for your buck.   Search Marketing Many potential guests find hotel websites on search engines. They type in a search term, then they click on a result that looks attractive. How does your hotel stack up to the competition? Does your hotel come up when you search Try searching for some common, relevant keywords on your favorite search engine and see how your website looks in the search results. Does the headline look attractive and engaging? Is all of the text accurate? Optimizing your website’s content in the search results is an easy way to increase website traffic free of charge! Pretend that you’re a hotel guest trying to book a room in your city.  What are the things you’d search for? Create a list of 20-30 terms and analyze the types of content that come up when you search for those.  Identify areas of your website that can meet searcher intent for those queries and if you don’t have any, consider creating technical SEO pages to pick up search traffic for those terms.  For example, if your hotel is in San Francisco you may want to create a page for “restaurants near the Golden Gate Bridge” or “hotels closest to Napa Valley and Wine Country”. You want to target high volume, low competition terms with rich content.  Google is getting better and better at determining the best content for searchers so make sure that you are writing for people and not robots.  Create valuable content that really solves the pain points of consumers and bookers will come. If your hotel has some marketing budget available, you can take your search results game to the next level by purchasing pay-per-click ads through platforms like Google AdWords.   Online Reputation Management & Reviews It’s no secret that good guest reviews are crucial to a hotel’s success. But asking guests to write reviews isn’t the only important part of managing your hotel’s online reputation. Nobody wants to receive a negative review, but those are the most important reviews for a hotelier to respond to. A negative review offers the opportunity for the hotelier to explain their side of the situation, use the problem as a training opportunity, and reiterate the hotel’s goal of providing excellent service. Responding to these reviews with care allows the hotelier to turn a negative review into a positive impression for anybody reading the review. And when a positive review has been posted, be sure to respond to those too, maybe with a note of gratitude for the good feedback and that you hope to welcome the guest for another stay soon. While many general managers or other hotel leaders like to handle their property’s guest reviews, hotels that want to elevate their reputation management can partner with a company like D-Edge that provides reputation management software, which provides review response services and insightful analytics.   Compelling Website and Blog Content Even if you have top-notch SEO and amazing guest reviews, people aren’t going to spend much time on your website if it doesn’t have engaging content. Whether you have a simple website or an established hotel blog, you can incorporate new and interesting content without spending any money. Consider doing a bit of SEO research to determine what keywords people are searching for in your area, then write an article about that topic. Perhaps start an “employee spotlight” interview program or publish a collection of guest photos. You could also write an article about an area event or celebration and ask the event organizers to share the post on their social media channels to receive additional traffic. The possibilities are endless for engaging hotel blog content! Interested in taking your website or blog content further? Consider hiring a professional writer or content agency to create content that really shines. Content agencies can also help you develop a strategic direction for your blog or dive deeper into SEO.   Website SEO We’ve already established that potential guests often use search engines to find hotel websites, so spending some time on your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) can allow guests to find it more easily. It doesn’t take an SEO expert to make impactful changes; a few SEO tips that you can implement today include adding H1 and H2 formatting to headings, compressing large images to improve site speed, and adding internal links. If you edit your website with Wordpress, add free plug-ins like Yoast to see specific SEO guidance for every page. Ready to take your SEO to the next level? Partner with a professional SEO agency for more advanced expertise. An agency can help you determine which keywords to target, discover who your competitors are, and provide ideas for blog posts or content.   Social Media Posts Your hotel likely has social media accounts, but are you using them to their fullest potential? Up your social media game by organizing a giveaway for a free room night, in which people can enter the contest by following the hotel’s account, liking a post, or tagging a friend in a comment. A giveaway helps you build brand awareness without any marketing spend. Some more social media ideas include creating a catchy hotel hashtag that travelers can use or reposting guest photos. Maybe even post about fun things happening in your area, like holiday celebrations or sports events. If marketing funds are available, you can increase your social media presence by running paid ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. These advertising platforms allow you to target very specific guest profiles, like families, foodies, or business travelers. The marketing spend is flexible; you can set daily budgets starting at just $5 or $10.   Email Marketing Hotels naturally build a database of guest email addresses by sending booking confirmation and receipts, but the communication shouldn’t stop after a guest checks out. Leverage that list of email addresses with email marketing, which will encourage recipients to visit your hotel website and book direct. Rather than sending an email from Outlook with your whole database in the BCC field, try using a free email tool like Mailchimp to gain analytics such as open rate and link clicks. Larger hotels or properties with more sophisticated marketing strategies should consider upgrading their email marketing technology to a hotel CRM (customer relationship management). Although these systems aren’t free, they offer even more advanced options and analytics to take guest communication to the next level.   Learn from Analytics and Optimize for CRO You may be thinking, “enough with the acronyms already!” Even though you may not have heard of CRO, or conversion rate optimization, you’re probably aware that it’s important to convert someone who’s browsing your website into someone who books a reservation. Hoteliers can determine their conversion rate by enrolling in the free Google Analytics suite, which will show how many people viewed their website and how many clicked on certain links, like the “Book Now” button. If your website gets a lot of traffic but not many bookings, perhaps the “Book Now” button is difficult to find or a link is broken. A few improvements to your website can make big changes to your conversation rate. Need help making sense of all the analytics out there? Partner with experts from a company like D-Edge who can help with cutting edge website design services.   Competitor Knowledge Your revenue management team looks at your competitive set’s rates on a daily basis, but have you ever checked out their hotel websites? Scope out the competition to get ideas for content, keywords, social media posts, and more. Maybe even sign up for their email newsletter to get the inside scoop on their email marketing strategies. Best of all, gaining this type of competitor knowledge is completely free! Once you’ve mastered our 8 ways to increase website traffic free of charge, it may be time to consider allocating a budget specifically for online marketing. Paid strategies can bring even more guests to your website, leading to more direct bookings, and proving that an investment in your hotel website can pay off. When your hotel reaches that stage, consider partnering with a digital solutions provider like D-Edge that can share expertise beyond what the free tools can offer.  

Protel Deep Dive: This Is The Promise Of An Open Platform For Your Hotel

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 weeks ago

Until very recently, hoteliers looking for an open platform for managing their properties didn’t have many options to choose from. It was basically “pick your poison,” with hotels locked into a single vendor ecosystem that prioritized status quo over fresh functionality. Thankfully, hospitality technology companies are waking up to the power of the platform, resulting in a wave of hospitality marketplaces that integrate a hotel’s siloed technologies into a more functional tech stack. These integrators allow hoteliers to build a bespoke bundle of tech tools that rely on the same real-time data, thus empowering better outcomes across revenue, guest experience, and loyalty marketing. One of the companies pioneering an open approach to property management is protel. Its flagship property management system was recently enhanced with protel I/O, a marketplace for third-party vendors to offer their services directly to hotels. By allowing multiple integrations to connect directly via its vendor-neutral open infrastructure, protel enables hotels to store and use data from across touchpoints in real time, anywhere they need to. That way, hotels can take control of their technology and build a tech stack that aligns with their philosophies around operating hotels, serving guests, and making money. With over 14,000 hotel customers in 90 countries, protel saw firsthand how draining data silos can be. Hotels face an uphill battle to simply share data among each of their tools, further entrenching data silos and limiting the upside of their hotel technology. By eliminating those silos, the company knew just how powerful a platform could be that aggregates property data into a secure, open platform. Here’s what the promise of the protel platform looks like for hoteliers worldwide.  Read reviews of protel PMS   What Protel Does: Property Management with Open APIs The core of the protel promise to “put your hotel at the heart of the digital economy.” But what exactly does this mean? It means that the technology enables easy connections between your PMS data and third-party technology so that you can leverage guest data in real-time, without delay.    The complete protel platform   To achieve this, protel has opened up its platform with APIs that hotels and vendors can use to connect into this data. That’s the promise of an open platform, and while protel isn’t the only way to integrate data across multiple hotel tech vendors, it’s one of the few that is already offering the service to thousands of customers around the world and is the only legacy enterprise PMS vendor offering these capabilities. Here’s how it works. Since your property management system sits at the center of your operation, it is the source of plenty of data that could be used to make your other tech tools more effective. For instance, interactions between staff and guests can shape your subsequent post-stay outreach, with communications seamlessly tailored based on each guest’s actual interactions. Rather than having to build multiple direct connections, or manually transfer data across systems, you can let the technology aggregate data into a single layer across multiple integrations. That way, the data stays accurate and up-to-date, allowing you to focus on the high-impact work, such as nurturing guests relationships, building creative campaigns, and strategizing for the future.   Who Protel Is For: Properties Of All Sizes That Want To Customize Protel’s sweet spot is any property that has a desire to customize how their property management system interacts across touchpoints. The majority of HTR reviews come from boutique hotels, as well as branded hotels in city centres and airports. While this isn’t the complete picture of protel’s client base, it does point to the underlying appeal across segments and hotel types. Given the platform’s focus on customizability, single properties with fewer rooms can still leverage the power of the core PMS functionality while properties with more complex integration needs can take advantage of the platform’s full flexibility. There’s also a standalone module for groups, called CENTRAL, which extends functionality to work across a multi-property portfolio.    Read more reviews of protel PMS   Five Essential Features of the Protel Platform The protel platform is built around connectivity, extensibility, and customizability. Protel believes hotels should be able to connect to whichever services they choose, with a future-proof, flexible solution that can be customized to multiple users, multiple views, and multiple properties. These core beliefs appear in the following five essential features: Open APIs: Build for today and future-proof for tomorrow The flagship is the protel PMS, which was the original product when the company was founded 25 years ago. The industry-leading benefit of the protel PMS is its open ethos. Protel provides an open API that interfaces with other hotel technology, so that hotels can connect their existing tools to the same set of property-level data. With these APIs, hotels can develop any custom solution they want, moving data across revenue management systems.  This data is also seamlessly shared across the Protel Platform, so that relevant PMS data translates error-free into other protel products, such as the GENIUS reporting module. Developers can also build their own solutions layer to protel, using relevant PMS data within existing apps. Protell offers a complete Developer Toolkit, with a sandbox environment for testing new code and reusing existing implementations. Beyond integrations, the PMS has a few other unique features. First, it’s available as either as a cloud-based or a hosted, on-premise solution. This option is welcome news to hotels that struggle with reliable internet connectivity and want to have the technology hosted on-site to improve up time.  Smart Lists: Customize your views with the most relevant information Customizability is at the heart of the protel PMS, thanks to Smart Lists.  this feature allows hotels to customize the order in which specific operational information should be displayed on a given screen and/or an individual user.  Selective information can be used to order each screen by putting the most relevant information front and center, such as arrivals, departures, VIP arrivals, birthday information, and manager overview. Smart Lists are incorporated into each element of the software, so hotels can customize screens across both desktops and the mobile experience. Marketplace: “1-Click Connect” to out-of-the-box solutions Marketplaces have become a trending feature within the fragmented hospitality technology landscape The protel Marketplace simplifies connectivity for hotels, facilitating reliable integrations between hotel technology vendors. The idea is that hotels can smash data silos and realize transformational gains by mixing and matching cutting-edge technologies in whichever combination they choose. All tools in the marketplace are verified and ready to receive a hotel’s complete live data-stream, which can then be used in the third-party app to react to real-time events across a property (or portfolio) footprint.  Protel also promises that many solutions are ready out of the box, requiring only a single click to connect a vendor to a hotel’s PMS data. And, with HotelTechReport review scores embedded in-line, hoteliers can make informed decisions even more quickly. Staff collaboration: Mobile tools for front office, housekeeping, and maintenance The protel PMS extends beyond basic property management functionality with its staff collaboration tools. As a communication layer between the front office, housekeeping, and maintenance, these tools keep everyone up-to-date and on the same page. Without dueling narratives, there’s fewer misunderstandings or communications lapses. These modules are all mobile, so that staff can stay current no matter where they are on the property. By eliminating paper, housekeeping staff and maintenance teams can be more accurate and respond in real-time to shifting priorities. For instance, a maintenance tech could quickly re-prioritize after receiving a picture of a broken faucet uploaded by a housekeeping colleague. VOYAGER: Branded app streamlines guest communications and upsells These staff collaboration tools become even more powerful for hotels that choose protel’s branded app option, VOYAGER. The app’s functionality folds easily into the existing property management flow, which facilitates better communication with guests and creates added revenue opportunities for upsells and ancillaries. The app also gives guests the convenience and speed they’ve come to expect in today’s mobile-first world. Guests can do things like view and edit profiles, add preferences, make special requests, access mobile room keys, check in/out, order room service, and interact with any content uploaded by the hotel.  Of course, protel’s open APIs extend to the app development kit as well, so hotels can fold in whichever functionality they need. With complete customization control, VOYAGER gives hotels the power of a branded app without the upfront cost, development headaches, or ongoing maintenance overhead.   Protel Pros and Cons According to its Customers Protel has 29 verified customer reviews, which offer helpful feedback straight from those who have direct experience with the product. Customers find protel to be a reliable product that offers flexibility to work with up-and-coming technologies that may not yet be widely integrated. One reviewer found the interface to be too complicated at first, with an overwhelming number of features. This is pretty natural for PMS systems with robust feature sets built for the larger hotels and enterprise clients.  Out-of-the-box reporting could also be improved, said another user. Here are some highlighted pros and cons from verified reviews of protel. Pros: “Reliable, well thought-out” with an “interface to the up-and-coming products on the market” which allows us “ to work with exciting smaller technologies too.” “User-friendly,” with an “easy interface to book rooms and email marketing/customer communications” and “well-designed reports.”  “I LOVE the pivot it has changed my way of reporting.” “Very quick response from the consultants -- great support.” Cons:  “Reporting metrics on Messenger mails...would be great to see open rate, button clicks, bounce rate, etc drilled down into market segment.” “Some user interfaces are counterintuitive” and “when we ask a question of a core feature that needs to be sent to the head office, we wait a long time for a reply.” “System could be made a little less complicated” as “it feels like there is a lot of functions that is not really necessary and that we don’t use... at first glance, it looks overwhelming until you get the hang of it.” “Standard reporting needs to be improved: very basic and not a lot of options without protel support.”   Conclusion:  Should You Consider Protel? Protel certainly has a bold vision for what the ideal hospitality technology ecosystem looks like. If you share those ideals, then you should definitely consider protel. The costs of integrating separate tech tools can be insurmountable burdens for the average operator. There’s tremendous value in freeing up development resources from having to figure out how to make everything play nice together!  Coupled with support from protel’s consultants, those integrations can empower your hotel to use technology in ways it never has before, such as seamlessly and accurately sharing guest data across marketing, operations, and revenue platforms. As verified reviewers have said, protel may have some initial complexity -- especially for those looking to leverage the open platform aspect -- but provides powerful tools for those that want to take control of their technology. As the critical interface to integrating up-and-coming technology, you can build a system that works for them (rather than the other way around) And, as many reviewers have shared, supportive protel consultants have enabled them to fully leverage the potential of the platform in their own hotels. Protel is a reminder that it’s no longer sufficient to live within a single vendor ecosystem. Hotels that limit themselves to the development roadmap of a single vendor risk losing out to hotels that define and implement a collaborative tech stack. The right combination of tools, using the same data and working together, streamline operations, enhance the guest experience, and boost profitability. Now that's a lofty goal worth fighting for!  

Stress in the Workplace: The Profit Killer Explained

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 weeks ago

Working on property is stressful enough! Between trying to keep guests, employees, and owners happy, it’s easy to feel stressed out from time to time. Juggling late check-out requests, handling staffing issues, and explaining why a quarter’s results didn’t quite meet target are all challenging parts of being a hospitality professional which lead to stress in the workplace. In fact, hotel managers reported that they encounter interpersonal tensions on 23% of workdays and work overloads on 20% of workdays. Interpersonal tensions, like trying to avoid arguments, were the most frequent stressors for both salaried hotel managers and hourly employees, which shows that no matter what kind of role you have, working in a hotel is anything but relaxing. As a hotel professional, you have enough on your plate, and the last thing you want to deal with is technology that causes more problems than it solves. But just like nights when you end up with a full house and no walks, technology that eliminates stress is indeed available. Though this article covers stress in the workplace with a hospitality industry lens, employees and managers in every industry face stress - and at a growing rate. We’ll explore some broader trends about the effects and causes of stress in the workplace, then offer strategies for tackling this stress to build a more enjoyable and sustainable career.   Effects of Stress in the Workplace Stress, like salt or sugar in food, is necessary in small amounts, but harmful in larger quantities. Food without salt or sugar is bland and flavorless, just as work without any type of stress can be boring and disengaging. Too much stress, however, will make work unpleasant and can even cause serious health problems as your body tries to counteract the stressors. Whether you’re resolving a situation with an angry guest or figuring out how to clean 10 extra rooms when a last-minute group booked, your body and mind are constantly reacting to stress. Your heart beats faster, you take deeper breaths, and your blood pressure rises. While these reactions are perfectly natural - and even help your body make sense of the stressful situation - they aren’t so healthy if they persist all day, every day, for years on end. The effects of stress vary from person to person, and even an otherwise healthy person can experience physical and mental consequences. From a health perspective, prolonged periods of stress can lead to heart attacks, strokes, skin conditions, anxiety, depression, headaches, and, depending on the stressor, conditions like arthritis and asthma. Many people today experience years of continuous stress, going directly from stressful high school and college years to stress in the workplace, where long work hours and minimal work-life balance can be seen as characteristics of a dedicated employee. The effects of stress in the workplace can lead to underwhelming company performance as well.  A stressful work environment usually causes increased employee turnover from burnout. It can even lead to legal problems since employees who are stressed are more likely to be abusive or aggressive towards their colleagues.  A stressful work environment can even lead to poor reviews on TripAdvisor since hotel staff that are stressed are less likely to be friendly and hospitable to guests. Stressful revenue managers often make poor pricing decisions or overlook critical issues in the business which can hurt profitability.  This is a long way of saying stress in the workplace isn’t just bad for employee wellness - it can cause a major hit to your profitability without you ever even seeing it on your P&L.   Causes of Stress at Work We’ve already established that work causes stress, and studies show that people feel more job-related stress than stress about the economy or personal health and people experience more job-related stress today than in the previous generation. But what causes all of this stress? One way stress in the workplace can arise is when the amount or type of work needed is more than what you can give. Think about it as a supply and demand imbalance: if you have a long line of guests waiting to check in, and you’re working as quickly as you possibly can, you’ll feel stress because your capacity for checking in guests cannot meet the demand for check-ins fast enough. Some other prominent causes of workplace stress can be found in interpersonal conflicts, threats to your job security, and constant change. In the hotel world, interpersonal conflicts can happen not only between employees, but with guests and owners. Hotels change ownership and flag frequently, and turnover is high, so hospitality employees can often feel less than secure in their positions. And with high turnover, change is constant, both internally and externally with vendors, market managers, and other business partners. In fact, we often say that “the only constant is change” in our industry! There’s an old saying that running a hotel is like watching a duck swim - everything is smooth above the surface but under the water their feet are kicking like mad! Leaders are best suited to maintain consistency, foster healthy workplace relationships and make their teams feel secure, valued and supported. While you’re bound to encounter some of these situations no matter where you work and which role you have, having the wrong technology in place can make these problems worse. Imagine trying to tackle that long line of check-ins with a property management system that’s slow or unintuitive. Or having to update the contact information in multiple systems whenever your hotel gets a new OTA market manager! Using outdated or unreliable technology can only exacerbate stress in the workplace.   Stress in the Workplace Statistics Let’s dig a little deeper into workplace stressors. Who feels stress, and when? How can hoteliers, armed with knowledge about stress in the workplace, introduce measures to make their workplaces less stressful? Studies show that hotel employees feel stress on 40-62% of work days, which is higher than the average employee across industries, who report feeling stress on 25 to 44% of days. This statistic means that hotel employees would benefit from stress-reducing techniques more than employees in other fields. Hotel employees use technology in many facets of their jobs, and upgrading a hotel’s technology would yield positive effects to employees in every department. This stress can lead to a drop in productivity, as 41% of workers across industries report. In hotels, when productivity isn’t just good for financial results, but also guest satisfaction and loyalty, any amount of improvement can make a big difference. When hotels use centralized technology, their employees can be more productive since communication is easier and tasks like pulling reports or setting rates are more efficient.     Strategies for Managing Stress in the Workplace While managers can (and should!) take steps to reduce workplace stressors, employees are also responsible for developing and using their own strategies for stress management. Hoteliers can encourage employees to find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as exercising or taking an appropriate amount of time off. Hotel employees often work long hours, so helping employees to completely disconnect on their days off can help them come back to work refreshed. An all-in-one technology solution like Cloudbeds’ hotel management system can help hotel employees establish a “no work at home” boundary, since everyone can access the system. If a hotel uses many different systems and software, perhaps only a few employees have access to a certain system, and if another employee needs information from that system, they might need to ask the employee who does have access to log in during their time off. Here are some quick tips to foster a stress-free work environment: Pay employees fairly.  People who feel their work is valued are more likely to be relaxed and resilient when other stressors arise. Staff your hotel properly.  Understaffed teams are spread in many directions which can lead to infighting.  Give your team the resources they need to not be overworked. Create growth opportunities.  It’s human nature to seek progression and esteem is the second most important pillar on Maslow’s Hierarchy.  Esteem is a result of respect, status and recognition.  Employees in the same job for years on end without a promotion are unlikely to feel recognized. Create engaging work.  Google famously lets employees spend 20% of their time on personal projects of their choice.  They do this so that employees can choose projects that are stimulating for them. While this kind of program isn’t as practical on-property, make sure to constantly check-in and ask if your team would like to learn new skills or try new roles on property. Create social support systems.  When employees connect with each other, they feel like they’re not alone when things get crazy on property.  Send your employees on retreats, do team building exercises and have fun together! Set clear performance expectations.  Nothing is worse than feeling like you’re doing a great job and having someone tell you they’re unhappy with your work.  Set clear measurable expectations so that your team doesn’t have to guess.   Bonus Tip: Use Technology to Automate Stressful Processes Technology has proven to be a huge source of stress.  Have you ever been midway through sending a critical email when your browser bugs and shuts down? The wrong hotel technology vendors can be a massive source of stress for your team.  There’s nothing worse than having a PMS glitch and not being able to reach customer support during peak hours. Similarly, software that isn’t easy to use can make your team look amateur in front of guests when they can’t remember how to complete certain tasks. With a platform like Cloudbeds, user access can be easily managed so that everyone can have access to the tools they need with just one username and password. Technology helps automate redundant tasks that create more anxiety and suck time out of hoteliers’ days.  Nothing is more frustrating than manual data entry, repetitive research tasks or waiting 48-hours to get your PMS vendor support on the phone only for them to tell you that you actually need to call your booking engine provider. Using an all-in-one technology solution, such as Cloudbeds, can actually solve integration problems, streamline vendor relationships, simplify billing, and reduce headaches all at the same time. Opting for a system that offers multiple services within one platform can be beneficial because you only need to call once vendor for any issues that arise (which they inevitably do) which usually leads to a stronger relationship with the support team at that vendor. Another benefit of using an integrated system is that everyone is operating on the same platform across departments.  The front desk team can check guests in and out, revenue managers can use an integrated pricing tool like PIE to fine-tune rates, and night audit can access their reports - within the same system. Rather than working with multiple vendors and contacts, an all-in-one HMS like Cloudbeds lets you manage your entire property through one system, with one contact and one bill. Doesn’t that sound relaxing? Stress is a natural part of the workplace, especially for hotel employees. Left unchecked, stress can lead to negative health effects, employee turnover, and poor guest satisfaction. Hoteliers who work to eliminate stressful situations, whether by implementing technology or encouraging healthy stress management, can realize higher productivity and efficiency - and happier employees and guests.  

Yield Management: What You Need to Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Yield management is a fundamental concept for profitable hotel management. You can think of it like the grandfather of modern revenue management, as it was one of the earliest techniques for maximizing a hotel’s revenue. Today, it continues to play a big role in how revenue management systems like Pace deliver results for hotels. Yield management involves the use of dynamic pricing to control profitability around fixed inventory supply.  The term was actually pioneered by airlines in the 1980s and has evolved quite a bit since then.  While flexing supply and pricing are still the fundamental activities of modern revenue management, the field has become significantly more sophisticated in the last three decades as hotels (and all businesses for that matter) have gained access to new data sets.  For example, when yield management was first pioneered, hotels were less focused on maximum guest value or tRevPAR.  tRevPAR stands for "total revenue per available room" which includes ancillaries like F&B, spa, amenities, etc.  Modern revenue management involves pricing based on this total expected spend which is an illustration of how we've evolved from purely yield management into total revenue management. Yield management is still highly relevant in today's business world; however, it's just one piece of the puzzle rather than the entire puzzle like it was decades ago.  Before diving into the cutting edge technical new innovations in revenue management it's critical to first understand the basics of yield management.  Here’s a crash course on what it is and why it matters for your hotel.   What is yield management? In the general business sense, yield is another word for profit. It’s the amount of income left over after paying out all the expenses related to running your business. In the case of yield management for hotels, it refers to strategically setting rates to optimize room revenues (pricing) and occupancy (bookings volume). As a subset of revenue management, yield management focuses exclusively on finding your hotel’s optimal balance of supply and demand for its rooms, or the point where prices perfectly match traveler demand. That’s the point where your rates will “yield” the highest number of bookings at the highest possible price.  Before hotel professionals had access to rich consumer and travel data, yield management was the industry’s first foray into revenue management. “Whereas revenue management involves predicting consumer behavior by segmenting markets, forecasting demand, and optimizing prices for several different types of products, yield management refers specifically to maximizing revenue through inventory control.” ~Livio Moretti, Distribution Strategy Yield management is a tug-of-war of sorts between price and quantity. Set your rates too high, demand drops, bookings slow, and occupancy sinks. Set your rates too low and you sacrifice revenue for volume, potentially pushing demand beyond your ability to supply it -- that’s a bad place to be, as it not only pushes demand to your competitors but also increases the strain on your staff, potentially increasing expenses and further depressing profitability. Of course, supply and demand are never perfectly aligned. And it’s not a simple task to pursue that balance and stay on target. But the upside of greater revenues is worth it!   Importance of yield management The top advantage of yield management is that it efficiently harnesses demand. It ensures that hoteliers are making the most money possible from their asset. With high fixed costs, hotels need to yield the most revenue possible from those fixed costs. Hotels also need to yield the most revenue from existing demand to be as efficient as possible with related distribution and marketing expenses. Yield management is also a critical piece of profitability. If revenue goes up, and expenses are fixed, there’s a significant impact on profitability, as that additional revenue is nearly pure profit. On the flip side, if revenue drops and expenses stay the same, there’s a deterioration in profit. In a dynamic business like hotels, sudden dips in demand can quickly put hotels (especially independents and smaller brands) into crisis mode. Yield management shields somewhat from that downside and helps maximize the upside, all by more effectively managing existing demand. A third advantage of yield management is that it’s a targeted task that doesn't take a village to accomplish. So, while you could also maximize yield (ie. profitability) by working with operations to reduce expenses or working with revenue management, marketing, and sales to increase revenues from room and non-room sources, yield management is more straightforward. It’s all about the data and, with a great revenue management system like Pace, the process can be put on autopilot with minimal intervention. Yield management is low-barrier and high-impact -- it really doesn’t get much better than that!   Yield management formula The basic way to calculate yield is to quite literally calculate how much revenue you left on the table. A simple formula to calculate yield is: Revenue Achieved / Maximum Potential Revenue. Let's say your hotel has 50 all-suite rooms, with a rack rate of $350 each. That means that your total potential revenue is $17,500 ($350 rate multiplied by 50 rooms). Last night, you sold 25 rooms at $200 each, grossing $5,000. Your yield is then $5,000 divided by $17,500, or 28.5%. That yield may be concerning, but it doesn't tell the whole picture.  Each yield must be compared to the bigger picture, such as your compset’s performance for the same date. And, yield management is generally done in advance, so that rates can be adjusted in real-time to account for advance booking trends. For instance, if you see a sustained spike in last-minute bookings at higher rates, you may want to consider increasing rates for future dates to further sustain those high-yield last-minute bookings. To capture the most bookings possible at the best possible rates, you’ll need a clear view into the factors that impact demand (and thus your hotel’s optimal rates). Some of the factors that influence yield management include: Booking windows affect demand, especially when it comes to price sensitivity. Compressed booking windows have “created a fast-paced dynamic environment.” Market-level dynamics. Is your market losing out to nearby destinations? Are there large events in town causing compression? Is local hotel supply shrinking or expanding? Are there shifting traveler trends affecting your market?  Compset positioning, or the way potential guests perceive your hotel when compared to the other hotels under consideration. Perceived value within a compset plays a big role in your hotel’s demand.  Macroeconomic conditions shape demand locally. A recession requires different yield management strategies then periods of growth. For hotels with many international guests, conditions elsewhere can dampen or boost demand. Historical performance provide insights into future demand forecasts at the property level.  Segments, such as leisure, business, and group, each have their own demand curves, and factor into your hotel’s overall business mix. The time of year is a major component in demand for most hotels. The next step is to take all of this information and translate into a full yield management strategy.   How to do yield management There are two ways to manage a hotel’s yield: manual or automated. To manage yields manually, this is generally how it’s done: Pull rates and availability data from your PMS. Pull competitor data from individual OTA channels or rate intelligence tools. Combine the data sets into a single spreadsheet, align dates, and set up custom formulas to calculate key ratios. Enable conditional formatting to highlight high/low trends so you can quickly see areas of concern. Manually adjust rates in the spreadsheet and then upload it to PMS/OTA for onward distribution.   For some, this hands-on process is part of staying close to the property. For most, however, the process is too intimidating and/or time-intensive to do regularly. Technology can help reduce the burden of manually responding to fluctuations in demand by constantly analyzing data and adjusting rates accordingly. Revenue management tools, such as Pace, automatically pull in relevant data sources and deploy machine learning to forecast future demand by identifying patterns in historical demand at both the property- and market-level. These forecasts become the basis for rate recommendations, which can be automatically applied in real-time to keep inventory priced optimally 24/7.   Pace’s easy-to-use tools make it simple to stay on top of pricing decisions.   A caution to those that prefer the hands-on approach: As revenue management tools have dropped in price, they’ve become more accessible to hotels of all sizes and geographies. It's harder and harder to compete against other hotels using machines to optimize their yields. Those tools are speedy, accurate, and always-on whereas manual updates can lag behind and put your hotel at a competitive disadvantage. When considering adding revenue management technology, know that you can turn off total automation and review all rate suggestions prior to onwards distribution. That way you can still keep your pulse on the rates while staying competitive thanks to data-driven intelligent pricing.   Extra credit: A note on price elasticity and perceived value One of the features of supply and demand is the concept of price elasticity, or the idea that different demographics may respond unexpectedly to prices. It’s the consumer’s “willingness to pay,” which doesn't always correlate nicely with classic supply and demand thinking, where higher prices reduce demand. Price elasticity can influence room rates as it’s about the perceived value of the goods being purchased. That’s why luxury hotels can keep supply low and prices high without necessarily dampening demand. Even so, perceived value is hard to measure and won't show up in the data (at least not in a way that makes it easy to identify the role perceived value plays in how a consumer chooses to buy). And the reality of today’s industry is that travelers have more ways to stay than ever before. With the rise of alternative lodging, travelers can consider a wider array of options to find the price and product that suits their specific needs. Since consumers can easily substitute similar room types, amenities, and properties, there’s greater price elasticity. It's easier to get what they want without paying more than they want. Greater choice means more competition and pressure to price properly. More so than ever, hotels must put the right price in front of the right customer on the right channel at the right time -- not to mention market their property with visuals and words that converts lookers to bookers.  

How to Select a New Booking Engine For Your Hotel

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Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

By one estimate, only two out of 100 visitors to a hotel website make a hotel reservation. Online travel agents control a large percentage of hotel bookings – and charge high commissions in the process. It’s imperative that hotel owners implement the right booking engine technology to ensure that high margin bookings aren't leaking through your direct channel funnel. A hotel booking engine like Bookassist exists to drive and convert direct bookings. It moves traffic away from an OTA so hotels capture higher revenue, providing a seamless booking process for guests. Bookassist boasts boosting direct bookings by 44% with an average conversion rate of 14.8%. The right booking engine will increase your direct revenue, integrate with your PMS to ensure inventory accuracy, and provide deeper insights into your guest data to improve your product offering. Here’s what you need to know about hotel booking engines for 2020. In this article we'll show you how to run an effective hotel booking engine comparison and give tools to sift through a long list of hotel booking engines so you can find the perfect fit for your property.   Booking engines clear the way to more direct bookings A good booking engine optimizes your hotel website to capture as many direct bookings as possible. The biggest advantage a booking engine can provide is to make it easy for guests to easily check room availability, rates, and different room types. A booking engine should remove any obstacles preventing a guest from completing their booking: mobile optimization, the ability to accept a wide range of payments, even the layout and design of your website are all things a booking engine must synthesize. Bookassist’s booking engine removes friction points throughout the reservation process that can lead potential guests to abandon their carts. Simple changes like minimizing the number of clicks it takes to book or adding a grid layout to your rooms page can increase through your own website. Many booking engines allow you to accept new payment methods like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, AliPay & Paypal, making it easy for a guest to click buy. More direct bookings mean a lower cost of acquisition per booking and an increase in revenue by double and triple percentage points– meaning more profit in your pocket. While the core value of a booking engine lies in increased direct bookings, there are ancillary benefits from adding a booking engine to your technology stack. A booking engine that syncs with your PMS and channel manager saves time by automatically updating bookings and controlling inventory distribution to reduce overbooking. Marketers can glean insights from your booking engine to learn more about what and how your guests like to book. Improve your product offerings to upsell better and drive ancillary revenue. This year’s innovations in booking engine technology promise to help hotels gain even more ground in the OTA booking wars.   Latest trends in booking engines In the retail industry, one study found that “$200 billion in sales are lost each year due to friction in the checkout process, which is roughly a 50% abandonment rate.” The majority of the time, shoppers in the retail industry abandon their carts due to a long or complicated checkout process. The hotel industry takes important lessons from this e-commerce trend. This year, booking engines have become more flexible by accepting different forms of payment to speed up the checkout process, resulting in higher conversion rates. Part of Bookassist’s mobile-first approach means hotels can accept one-touch payments such as Apple and Android Pay, PayPal and Amazon checkout. In 2020, we expect top booking engine providers to continue to focus on offering flexible payment options. 2019 also brought the advent of AI integrations to booking engines. These integrations pull data from internet browsers and in-house records to deliver personalized rates and offers that convert guests. Offers are curated from extensive data sets, resulting in more engaged users and stronger conversion rates over time. Stronger conversion rates will continue to be a focus for booking engines into 2020. A/B testing is one feature many booking engines are adding to their product capability.  An A/B test allows hoteliers to experiment with different implementations, designs, and intent triggers to see what converts best. Add ons like deals, price comparisons, timer countdowns, social proof, and intent triggered popups can be added to your hotel’s website to entice customers to book faster. A/B testing provides insight into which integration works best, allowing your page to convert better without sacrificing user experience. Learn from your booking engine what works best to create the most seamless booking experience.   How to pick a booking engine vendor There are a few factors to consider in selecting a booking engine. First and foremost, a booking engine must not slow down your site’s load speed. Load speed has an extremely high correlation to conversion rates and can also impact your site’s SEO. Likewise, your engine must be optimized to handle mobile bookings – on average, 52% of traffic to a hotel site comes from mobile. Top booking engines will include these features:  Mobile-first approach: works seamlessly on mobile and is compatible with the social media websites that your hotel is listed on. Fast load times: decreasing load time with a better user experience leads to increased conversions and more revenue. Sync with your channel manager and PMS: make sure that your room inventory across all of your online channels is automatically updated.  Language and currency options: Does the booking engine display the languages and currency that your guests are familiar with? Does it provide online voucher redemption or does it offer wedding and corporate booking modules?  Capture social media bookings: take advantage of Facebook’s booking tool to seamlessly integrate to sync inventory, availability, and content. Group booking functionality: create unique booking experiences for groups and events based on rate codes or unique URLs. Data collection & reporting: get transparent, in-depth insights to find demand and booking patterns. Flexible payment methods: accept new flexible payment methods like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Stripe & Paypal to provide a faster and more frictionless booking experience. Ancillaries & gift vouchers: upsell add-on services, from local experiences to packages to gift vouchers to drive additional revenue per guest. Purchase intent triggers: offer deals, price comparisons, timer countdowns, social proof, and intent-triggered pop-ups to increase conversion rates. Lastly, make sure your booking engine provides service and support. Does the team offer training, on-site set-up, and 24/7 troubleshooting? Find out whether or not a hotel booking engine is flexible to your needs.    Integrate a booking engine into your operations A booking engine tool must share information with three critical systems: your channel manager, payments processor, and property management system. Channel manager integrations work with a booking engine to provide a one-stop revenue management platform. Your channel manager can send and receive rates and availability from your booking engine for more intelligent revenue management. Update your inventory in real-time and proactively manage rates to maximize ARR. Rules and alerts set up via your channel manager allow the hotel to drive high volume bookings through the booking engine. Integrate a booking engine with your payment system to make it easy for your guests to check out seamlessly. Work with a payment provider like Stripe / Global Payments to create rules for payments to be taken and at what time. For example, trigger the first night’s payment to be charged 24 hours before the guest arrives. This takes the manual function of storing and charging credit cards away from your hotel team and also helps you comply with PCI and Data Protection guidelines. And, finally, when your booking engine feeds data from your website directly into your PMS, your team captures automatic room stock adjustment, significantly reducing their workload and reducing errors. Confirm with the provider whether or not their tool integrates easily with your existing tech stack.  The final step to selecting a booking engine is to make sure you’ve thoroughly vetted your vendor’s feature functionality and capabilities. Ask booking engine providers the following questions:  What is the average conversion rate for booking engines in my market segment? This can help you project ROI and calculate the change in booking volume What is the average page load speed of your booking engine? Load speed has a strong correlation with conversion rates: faster speeds lead to higher conversion rates.  What steps have you taken to make sure that your booking engine is mobile optimized? If your mobile experience is poor, expect a guest to book on an OTA; and, expect your Google AdWords and other pay-per-click campaigns to be less effective. What kinds of optimization features does your booking engine have? Things like dynamic pricing, geotargeting, integrated rate match and rooms remaining widgets materially increase conversion.    Still have questions about selecting a booking engine? Read more in our in-depth 2020 Booking Engine Buyer’s Guide. 

Wireless Panic Buttons: The Complete Hotel Owners Guide to Regulation

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Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

The story captured global headlines in 2011: a member of the global elite forcing himself on a maid in a luxury hotel. At the time, most hotel owners had never heard of wireless panic buttons.  The incident was all too familiar for frontline hotel employees across departments at hotels, many of whom organized protests in solidarity and shared experiences of being groped, propositioned, and put in risky situations. The problem was endemic, with one survey of Chicago hotel workers finding that 58% had been sexual harassed and 49% having been flashed or otherwise exposed to a nude guest. Las Vegas workers report similarly high levels of feeling unsafe or sexual harassed. “We’re part of the package when they pay for a luxury hotel,” one housekeeper said about the mindset of some guests. Another shared: “You have no idea what they are going to do to you. I’m so worried about my safety.” Even with such widespread safety issues, the wave of mainstream coverage of housekeepers facing sexual assault took several years to reach its crest, becoming part of the nationwide #MeToo movement. Consolidated industry action took root in 2018, when the AHLA brought together the major hospitality brands to back the 5 Star Promise. Participating companies agreed to a 5-point initiative to enhance employee and guest safety with better policies, trainings, and resources. The initial 17 companies has since expanded to 56, which bodes well for what the AHLA calls an effort “to ensure America’s hotels are safe places for all those who work in and visit them.” At the core of this pledge was a commitment to provide employee safety devices (ESDs) to all employees by 2020. The wearable panic buttons give staff a layer of protection that connects directly to their colleagues, which gives them peace-of-mind while acting as a visible deterrent to any would-be aggressors. Part of the reason that the industry is only just now addressing staff safety is that the technology to support individual wireless panic buttons wasn’t quite there yet. In recent years, staff safety technology has evolved to the point where it has become much more effective, reliable, and user-friendly. Many of today’s panic buttons, such as those from ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions rely on some combination of cellular, GPS, Bluetooth, radio frequency and WiFi to provide consistent connectivity. The devices can work off different signals to prevent diminished functionality from signal dead zones. Before we discuss the technology, let's look at a brief round-up of U.S. regulations around staff alert devices.   Regulatory Roundup on Wireless Panic Buttons In the U.S, there’s no national law mandating employee safety devices. Beyond the commitment from Hilton, Marriott, Windham, IHG, Hyatt, and others to equip staff with panic buttons, some governments are moving towards making this technology mandatory. There’s also been a concerted multi-year effort on the part of unions to use their leverage to negotiate for employee safety devices for their members. New Jersey State: Starting in January 2020, state law mandates panic buttons for staff working at hotels with more than100 rooms.  California State: Statewide law failed to pass state assembly. Washington State: Starting in January 2020, state law mandates panic buttons for hotels with 60+ rooms. Hotels of all sizes must comply by January 2021. Illinois State: Beginning in January 2020, the Hotel and Casino Employee Safety act requires panic buttons statewide.  Seattle, WA: Voter-backed ordinance requires hotels to provide ESDs. After a lawsuit backed by several hospitality associations, the law was overturned by the courts and remains in effect as verdict is appealed. Chicago, IL: “Pants On, Hands Off” regulation began on July 1, 2018. Las Vegas, NV: No city ordinance; union contracts may soon require panic buttons. New York, NY: No city ordinance; union contracts require panic buttons. Los Angeles, CA: No city ordinance: union contracts require panic buttons. Long Beach, CA: Starting January 1, 2020, city ordinance requires hotels with 50+ rooms to provide ESDs. Santa Monica, CA: Effective January 1, 2020, city ordinance requires hotels with 50+ rooms to provide ESDs. Sacramento, CA: City ordinance requires ESDs for hotels with 25+ rooms. Miami Beach, FL: City ordinance requires ESDs in hotels of any size.    What to Consider When Evaluating Staff Safety Technology Staff safety has become an industry priority, one that may soon be mandated by law in many areas. As your hotel adjusts to these new requirements, you'll have lots of decisions to make. Here’s what you need to consider when evaluating potential staff safety technologies for your hotel. Not all solutions are the same. As the regulatory environment evolves, hoteliers must be careful to implement solutions that meet existing or pending requirements.  for certain markets, it may also be wise to select a flexible solution that can adapt to the evolving regulatory framework. For example, some devices simply make noise to call attention to the employee, while others are directly connected to a back-end communication system to alert security or colleagues of distress. Each solution must be weighed against implementation cost, adherence to regulations and staff preferences, as well as a hotel’s existing tech stack and the solution’s hardware requirements.  Connectivity is the top priority. ESDs depend on reliable connectivity to function correctly. Signal dead zones are a potentially disastrous failpoint. In light of the diversity of building materials, layouts, and locations affecting signal strength, hotels must do a careful analysis of each solution to ensure complete connectivity.  Direct integration aid adoption. Ideally, installing Panic buttons requires a minimal amount of additional infrastructure investment. When the system integrates with existing Communications workflows, it's more likely that employees will use the functionality --  and that colleagues will quickly receive messages so they can intervene.  Proper training is a must. Choosing a solution that's easy to learn is an important consideration, as safety technology only works if it’s used appropriately. That's why new standard operating procedures and staff training is an essential piece of the implementation puzzle. Frontline staff need to know how, and under which circumstances, to use the device. And security and safety teams must also understand the technology and know the right actions to take in the event of a staff alert.  Read your contracts carefully. Finally, it's especially important that hoteliers  understand the terms of any contracts. With some hotels potentially deploying hundreds of devices, there could be unexpected costs, as far as ongoing support, as well as maintenance and replacements/repairs. After making such a significant investment, the last thing that hotels want is for the devices to fall out of use and create liability exposure.    Vendor Watch: ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions The top vendor in Hotel Tech Report’s staff safety technology category is ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions, which provides staff safety solutions as part of a broader portfolio of mobile access solutions for hotels. Its network of Bluetooth low-energy beacons provide the precise location of each staff member so that any alerts are matched to real-time locations. Once installed, the beacon system can be expanded to include indoor wayfinding, proximity messaging and other location-based features, such as tracking assets and monitoring conditions around the hotel. Verified reviewers praise the system as “robust and stable,” with “high performance, durability, support, experience and quick response,” as well as the company’s “excellent customer service.”    Read more reviews of ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions’ staff safety devices - No hotelier wants their staff traumatized -- and most certainly don’t want to see their hotel inundated by a wave of global scrutiny.  In an age where smartphones can reach massive audiences instantly, it’s mission critical to provide the tools staff needs to stay safe and avoid abusive situations that can be magnified beyond the walls of the hotel. Not to mention the importance of the right working conditions in an industry starving for talent. When staff feels safe and secure, they are more productive and less likely to leave. Employee safety devices can be valuable to hotels of all sizes, even those not covered by new regulation. To ensure that staff and guests stay safe for the duration of their time on property, staff safety technology provides that essential peace-of-mind for staff and an active deterrent for unsavory guests. The industry is rapidly adopting this technology as a best practice, so it’s time to consider how and when to implement the employee safety devices that will soon be standard in hotels worldwide.  

Sustainable Hospitality: 8 Ways to Do Your Part Right Now

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Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Conscious consumerism is the next big trend – and one that will impact nearly every vertical, from retail to travel to dining. Reports indicate that eco-friendly resorts and sustainable hospitality practices have quickly become the norm, rather than the exception, as consumers worldwide use their purchase power to go green. Conscious consumerism has forced hoteliers to think deeply about sustainable hospitality. A survey by Booking.com found that 68% of travelers plan on staying in an eco-friendly hotel, a trend that’s continued to increase since 2013. Millennials are the main consumer group encouraging companies to be more sustainable, according to Credit Suisse’s 2017 Global Investor report. “Companies must deliver good social and environmental performance and engage in sustainable practices or their future growth could be at risk,” writes the report’s research analyst. Many hotel brands have already answered the call, bringing more sustainable practices into their operations. Marriott International and other large chains have joined the movement to eliminate the use of plastic straws and other items that never fully decompose. This is the bare minimum: other hotels, hostels, and eco-resorts have implemented smart showers, added solar panels, and have gone so far as to regenerate coral reefs on their property. Going green pays off in publicity, as well as in bookings. Eco-friendly luxury resorts, like Soneva Resorts in Thailand, get regular publicity from celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow and publications like Vogue. OTAs and metasearch partners including TripAdvisor, Travelocity, and Hotels.com enable customers to add a “green” search option, filtering listings by how eco-friendliness. Many of these green initiatives to cut down on waste and make your hotel more efficient, a win-win for both consumers and property owners. Investing in sustainable hospitality is a savvy move for properties of all sizes: and there are a number of ways, both big and small, to get involved. A simple change like adding digital compendiums to get rooms, like SuitePad, can replace paper waste and immediately make your hotel more eco-friendly. Larger investments, like getting LEED-certified, provide excellent talking points and publicity for hotels looking for a more competitive edge. Here are some of our top ways to go green – and save money in the process.      Get rid of paper menus and compendiums One report found that a hotel guest generates about two pounds of waste per night; paper, plastic, and cardboard account for half that waste. Paper menus, flyers, and in-room directories contribute to a massive amount of waste at most hotels, which is why switching to a digital guest room tablet can have an immediate impact.  Platforms like SuitePad cut down on printing costs and waste while providing a channel for upselling ancillary products and services to drive revenue. A general manager at one German hotel reported, “As a tech-driven lifestyle brand also taking care of our environment, we love the paperless approach SuitePad is offering to us. This goes for keeping our guests informed in a very dynamic way, communicating with them in real-time once checked in and also enabling them to book additional services.” The Falkensteiner Balance Resort Stegersbach used SuitePad to increase revenue from their spa services by over 50%, sending well-timed notifications and marketing through their digital guest directory to sell an additional 257 treatments in one year – generating €20,774  in the process. Going green with digital directories is a win-win for your bottom line.     Get rid of disposable shampoo bottles “Some room amenities such as shampoo, soap, lotion, and coffee can all wreak havoc on the environment. Think about switching to natural and organic toiletries in biodegradable or recyclable packaging. Better yet, consider offering these items in bulk dispensers to cut back on needless waste,” recommends one environmental expert. Small-batch toiletries are expensive and add up to a ton of wasted plastic. This year, some states have taken legislative action to curb the use of small shampoo bottles. California’s ban on 1-2oz bottles goes into effect in 2023; New York state and parts of Georgia are considering similar policies. Some hotels, like Marriott International, Hyatt Hotels and IHG, will replace single-use bottles without government intervention. It’s a great PR move: Marriott claims that simply by eliminating 500 million small bottles a year, the company will save 1.7 million pounds of plastic from entering landfills.    Offer guests a way to opt-out of daily cleaning In-room tablets also empower guests to make their stay greener by forgoing housekeeping. SuitePad offers a Green Option, which guests can select to help preserve the environment. Guests see a notification on their SuitePad tablet asking if they would like to have a cleaner visit their room the next day. They are given the option to accept or decline. In one case study with a property in Germany, the Green Option led to massive cost-savings as well as sustainability benefits. “To incentivize guests to choose the Green Option, the Esplanade decided to offer guests benefits such a €5 voucher for their restaurant or spa, or a 20% discount on purchases made in their in-house soap factory for using the service. In the first month, the Green Option was booked 115 times. Not only did this mean the environmental footprint of the hotel was dramatically reduced, but it also equated to a total of €1,476.60 made in cost savings,” reports SuitePad.    Use eco-friendly cleaning supplies There are a number of reasons to switch to eco-friendly cleaning products, not just because it’s a requirement to have your property LEED-certified. Green cleaning supplies lead to better air quality in your hotel and are safer for your guests and for your staff. Bio-based cleaning products are a must for hotel properties located on or near the beach. They’re also a great PR move.   Limit water waste with a water management system and low flow toilets Hostelling International USA made headlines this year when it became the first hostel company in the world to implement “smart showers.” Smart showers limit showering time to seven minutes. “If each guest showers for 30 seconds less, we save around one million gallons of water each year,” reported Hostelling International’s marketing director.  The brand has plans to install more than than 750 showers across 50 properties, with colorful LED lights to gently alert guests when their seven minutes are up.  Water management doesn’t need to be so dramatic. There are things you can do to save water that won’t impact the guest experience. For example:  Add a voluntary linen reuse program, like Project Planet Program, to your guest rooms  Use rainwater harvesting, a greywater system, or air conditioner condensate for your irrigation, toilet flushing, or fire suppression systems.  Plant drought-resistant plants and use smart landscaping practices to reduce irrigation and gardening water waste Convert to low flow or dual flush toilets or install toilet-tank fill diverters to save water The more water you conserve, the less energy your property uses – cutting down on utility costs in the process.    Conserve energy with motion sensors and efficient light bulbs LED lightbulbs use 25%-80% less energy than traditional lightbulbs and last 3-25 times longer, according to the US Department of Energy. Just by replacing the bulbs in five fixtures with LED light bulbs, you can save $75 a year. It’s a no-brainer for properties of all sizes seeking to save on energy costs. If you have a bigger budget, conserve more energy with motion sensors that can switch off lights when your guests are out for the day.    Hire an energy consultant to perform an energy audit “Consult outside sources to evaluate the total system when replacing major mechanical equipment (such as chiller, water tower, etc). Often, this can lead to downsizing and other opportunities to reduce both the initial investment and operating costs,” recommends the Global Stewards blog. An energy consultant can weigh in with recommendations that save your hotel in operational costs, as well as improve your sustainability metrics. They will factor in things like the number of rooms, your budget, the guest services you provide, the size of your team, and where your property is located.      Consider adding solar panels Two properties recently gained attention for leading the way with their commitment to renewable energy. Kundadoo, a private resort island in the Maldives, added solar panels to its main building: in the process, the eco-resort is now able to fully power the entire island. Meanwhile, in Norway, Svart is scheduled to become the world’s first net energy-positive hotel above the polar circle. Svart’s solar panels will save excess energy for when the country has longer nights and short days. If your property is interested in solar panels, now is the time to make a move. Until 2021, the federal solar tax credit will allow hotels to deduct 30% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from its federal taxes.  -- What green initiatives did we miss? Tell us on Twitter or get in touch to share your best practices for sustainable hospitality.