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Hotelier news, tips and advice from industry experts.

Welcome Anywhere Property Managment System > Blog > 2013 > November

The Welcome Anywhere booking systemWe’ll admit it – we’ve been a little quiet on the Welcome Anywhere beta test front, but there’s a very good reason for that.

As we hinted in a recent blog post, there are some rather significant changes on the way; our development team have been working tirelessly on an overhaul of the user interface for Welcome Anywhere. Learning from beta test feedback and being mindful of our future plans for the system, we have greatly improved the look, feel and general workflow of the system.

We are currently conducting in-house testing, but hope to release the new version to beta testers next week. Here’s some sneak peeks of the new-look screens:

The old login screen:

Old Welcome Anywhere login page

The new login screen:

New Welcome Anywhere login page

The old Home screen:

Old Welcome Anywhere Home screen

The new Home screen (you'll note the subtle, yet visually-pleasing changes to the accordion panel and system as a whole):

New Welcome Anywhere Home screen

The old booking chart:

Old Welcome Anywhere booking chart

The new booking chart:

New Welcome Anywhere booking chart

The old booking enquiry form:

Old Welcome Anywhere booking enquiry

The new booking enquiry form (some of the biggest changes have been made here):

New Welcome Anywhere booking enquiry

The old arrivals list:

Old Welcome Anywhere arrivals list

The new arrivals list:

New Welcome Anywhere arrivals list

So, big changes are afoot, and they run a lot deeper than just the visual elements. The new Welcome Anywhere is now set for a 2014 packed full of exciting development.

If you're a beta tester, stay tuned - more information will follow in due course.

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revPAR rises for hotelsRevenue per available room (revPAR) and profits are on the rise in UK hotels, according to recent reports, giving experts reason to suggest that hotels are now 'out of the worst'.

HVS London and Zolfo Cooper's latest Hotel Bulletin, which focuses on Q3 of 2013, found that there had been an average increase in revPAR of eight percent at hotels outside of London. Average profits were up by 3%.

In the capital, revPAR actually decreased by 3%, although September's revPAR was up 9% compared to the same period in 2012.

The ongoing feel-good factor of the Olympics and fine weather experienced this year has certainly helped boost hotel trade this year, and HVS London director Tim Smith has claimed the sector is now 'over the worst'.

Bank funding is also now 'relatively accessible', according to the report, although it was noted that most new openings were limited to budget hotels.

 

Image courtesy of jscreationzs / freedigitalphotos.net

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Olympic legacy boosts hospitality figuresThe London Olympic and Paralympic games have been nothing more than a memory for over twelve months now, but their legacy is still being felt economically and not least in the hospitality sector.

It appears that the UK is still benefiting from the significant worldwide exposure London 2012 granted it with a noticeable increase in tourism numbers. Hotels have been the main benefactors.

The latest figures in the Hotel Bulletin: Q3 2013 from Zolfo Cooper, HVS and AM:PM show that the UK has avoided the slump in tourist volumes which other recent host nations experienced following their Games. There's no escaping the fact that the prospect of increased congestion and perceived high prices forced many non-games visitors to avoid travelling to the UK last summer, but they now appear to be returning in greater numbers.

A long-overdue summer of warmth and little rain boosted domestic tourism during July and August this year. That, coupled with the increase in international demand saw revenue per available room (revpar) figures increase by 20% in Edinburgh, 14% in Stratford-upon-Avon and Bath, 11% in Oxford and 7% in York. London, on the other hand, saw a fall in revpar of 8.5%, which is no doubt attributable to the increased pricing strategies implemented during the 2012 Games.

 

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Twitter for hotelsEarlier this month, Twitter floated itself on the New York Stock Exchange. Within hours, shares rose to $45.10 a piece, making the fledgling social media company worth an astounding $31bn.

For a service which opened with the rather innocuous tweet 'just setting up my twttr' in 2006, the 140 character-driven social media site is now a driving force both socially and in business. If you run a hotel, it can be an incredibly powerful tool.

Today, we've got three best practices for the social media savvy hotelier who wants to get the most from Twitter.

 

Don't ignore the bio

Twitter have made it so easy to set up an account and start posting, that you may forget to perform one of the most important tasks - configuring your bio page. While your Twitter presence will almost solely be digested by people browsing their timelines, whenever someone decides whether or not to follow you, it is likely they will have a look at your bio. In fact, in most Twitter clients, they have to. If it's blank and uninspiring (or, worse, there's a little egg to indicate you haven't updated your profile picture), they may well not bother. Add an attractive image of your hotel, your location, website and a small tagline or description of what you're all about. Don't forget to add a header photo, too - you can be a little more creative with here, as Twitter affords you more space.

Forget the numbers

Social media is all-too-often about numbers. Much like a LinkedIn profile's connections tally isn't indicative of business acumen, neither is your number of followers on Twitter. There are all sorts of 'back door' methods with which you can gain a large number of followers, but avoid them at all costs. You can't buy love and you certainly can't by a social media following.

Building a genuine list of followers isn't easy and it takes time. You need to cultivate a community in order for it to be effective. Use a service such as Wefollow in order to find hospitality leaders and industry partners - follow them and interact with them where possible. Retweet the tweets you like and engage in discussions by using hashtags to offer your thoughts on a particualr topic. If you've got positive relations with a neighbouring hotel, follow them, too.

Listen first

Twitter is just as much a listening channel as it is a broadcasting channel. Nowhere is this more important than the hotel industry. People tweet in real time and offer immediate thoughts on their current activities. That activity might be a stay in your hotel and they'll probably mention you by name when they say what's on their mind. They may do this by using your @ Twitter username, in which case you'll be alerted in most Twitter clients, but if they don't, keeping an eye on mentions of your hotel on Twitter is relatively straightforward - you can simply use the powerful search tool or invest in social media reputation software or professional services.

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Google Hotel Finder goes mobileHead to google.com/hotels on your smartphone and you'll notice that the search giant's hotel finder has now been optimised for mobile browsing. Simply enter your arrival and departure dates, pop in your intended destination and press the blue search button.

Listings appear almost immediately, and the user has the option to filter the results by price, hotel class, distance and user rating.

The hotel listing pages display photos, blurb, amenities, the map location and guest reviews. You can then proceed to book the hotel either via agencies such as Booking.com or, hoteliers will be pleased to hear, via the hotel's own website.

The mobile version of Google Hotel Finder is currently confined to the US, but Google says they "hope to expand more broadly soon".

Google Hotel Finder Mobile

The Google Hotel Finder on iOS Safari

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Since the beta launch of Welcome Anywhere earlier this year, it has received a number of tweaks to the look and feel of the user interface. We are refining it further every week and, as we near the launch of the system, we have once again been busy with the paintbrush.

In this blog post, we want to show a sneak peak of the new design. We're not going to show you much, though - you'll have to wait until next week for that. Here is the 'old' login screen:

Old Welcome Anywhere login page

...and here is the new login screen:

New Welcome Anywhere login page

There's not a huge difference, at first glance. Some clouds in the background, a more rounded login window and refined typeface... Big deal? Actually - yes! The changes run far, far deeper than that. We have significantly refined the entire user interface and we can't wait to show you it.

Stay tuned...

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