Blog Archive

Hotelier news, tips and advice from industry experts.

Welcome Anywhere Property Managment System > Blog > 2016 > August

[fusion_text]Expedia_and_Red_Lion_Hotels_Hit_Reset_on_Loyalty_and_Direct_Booking_–_Skift

It's not often you hear of a love-in between OTAs and hotels, but that's exactly what appears to be the case with Expedia, it's sister site Hotels.com and Red Lion Hotels.

In our blog of the week, Skift reports on how two giants of the OTA world are now offering Red Lion Hotels' member-only rates. What's more, they're also auto-enrolling non-members into the hotel group's loyalty reward program if they book via Expedia.com or Hotels.com (they even share the guest's email address with the hotel, which is an extremely rare thing for OTAs to do).

Could this be the future of OTA and hotel relationships? Read on to find out more:

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Vaping in hotels

We’re forever being told that the hotel industry is changing at a rapid pace, but what does that really mean?

Is it the increasing influx of celebrity-owned and endorsed properties? What about the meteoric rise of services such as Airbnb? And are online travel agencies really set for world domination (if they haven’t already achieved it)?

Sometimes, the smallest of revolutions have the biggest impact, and the real trends to watch out for are those that arrive with every guest that walks into your reception area.

Guests are the harbingers of change. They drive hotel strategy, encourage adoption of new technology and force revenue managers of independent hotels to come up with ever more inventive ways to tempt them away from the big chains.

Unfortunately, such change isn’t always easy to spot, and if you’re unaware of emerging trends amongst hotel guests, they’re likely to creep up unawares and take you by surprise.

For a hotelier to survive and thrive in the modern world of hospitality, they need to be ready for the following 5 guest habits that are already taking hold:

1. The BYOD revolution

There was a time when hotel’s provided PCs in reception areas. Remember that? Perhaps you’ve still got one and, if you have, can you remember the last time anyone sat down to use it?

There’s a good chance it was some time ago. The ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) revolution has had an impact on businesses of all kinds and nowhere is it more prevalent than in hotels. Most guests will now come armed with their own tablet or laptop and they’ll almost certainly have a powerful smartphone in their pocket.

That means every email, web browsing and media consumption duty they intend to undertake at your property will most likely be carried out on their own device. This makes solid WiFi an absolutely essential investment and the order you’ve just placed for those expensive LCD TVs rather questionable.

2. Self-check in aficionados

If you’ve taken a flight abroad within the last few years, chances are you’ll have checked in before you reached the airport. Doing so is convenient, saves time on the day and removes one item from what is usually a colossal to-do list.

While the number of things a guest will have to do upon entering your hotel doesn’t quite match that of an international flight, the ability to check in days before the stay is something that is becoming increasingly attractive.

Hotel booking systems that offer or intend to offer integration with the new wave of door locking solutions make this possible. A guest books online, receives a notification that check-in prior to their arrival is open and, if the option is taken, receives a digital key that resides on their smartphone. All they have to do on arrival is head straight to their room, open the door with their phone and begin the process of relaxing. Simple.

Even if you’re focused on offering a personable service at your hotel, an increasing number of guests will expect this kind of autonomy. Do you want to be struck off their list?

3. Wallet-free payers

Apple Pay and Android Pay are taking the UK by storm. If you’ve seen someone tap their phone against a Chip and Pin machine when paying for their weekly shop, you’ll have seen one of these services in action. It offers ultimate convenience, security and is arguably the future of payments.

Expect to see more guests approach your reception desk or bar without a wallet or purse. They’ll expect to be able to pay with their smartphone and it’s therefore essential you run POS hardware capable of accepting that type of payment if you’re to avoid any awkward “sorry, we don’t take that here” conversations.

Hint: if you’ve got a Chip and Pin machine already, it is almost certainly ready to accept Apple Pay and Android Pay. Speak to your card acquirer to be sure.

4. Luxury guests

Despite what remains a challenging economic backdrop, there’s still an awful lot of wealth in the world and as a hotelier, you’re likely to come into contact with an increasing number of ‘luxury guests’.

These are people who demand personalised services and every whim catered for. Servicing such people may not be your idea of fun, but if you have a hotel that has the resources to cater for ultra-expectant guests with extremely deep pockets, would you really turn down the opportunity?

5. Vaping

If you regularly spot people inhaling from what looks like a car engine component and, seconds later, exhaling a cloud of smoke any concert technician would be proud of, you’re witnessing the increasing number of people who ‘vape’.

It’s estimated that there are 2.8 million users of electric cigarettes in the UK. Chances are, at least one of the guests you welcome into your hotel today will be a vaper, and knowing how to deal with them is becoming increasingly important for business owners.

The devices aren’t illegal, nor are they toxic like cigarettes, but many hotels have taken the decision to treat them in the same way, excluding their use from within the hotel and politely asking that all vaping is carried out in the smokers’ area.

Whether or not you allow vaping in your hotel is entirely up to you, but take time to consider every side effect before you do. Will other guests be offended by the presence of cherry-flavoured vapour filling the bar area or do you encounter that many e-cigarette users within your hotel that it seems daft not to allow them to be used?

Summary

Act quickly on the above. Investigate each one and quiz the guests who exhibit any of these habits - they’ll give you a great steer on how to turn them into revenue-generating and crowd-pleasing endeavours for your business.

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Pokemon go marketing for hotels

The Pokémon Go craze shows no sign of slowing down, despite what is a no doubt significant swathe of the world’s population hoping for a reduction in the number of zombie-like Pokémon hunters wandering into oncoming traffic.

Take a look at hotel finder website AllTheRooms, for example - they’ve set up a specific page dedicated to finding hotels that are situated near spots that are likely to feature some of the rarest Pokémon.

Despite concerns over the inherent dangers of spending more time looking at one’s smartphone screen than the path ahead, Pokémon Go clearly still represents a sizeable opportunity for hospitality marketers.

So, if you’re a hotelier and are yet to jump onto what is proving to be the most captivating mobile gaming phenomena of the modern era, how do you get involved? Can it really help you sell dead bed space and introduce your property to a new wave of guests?

Here are 5 ways you could lure Pokémon hunters to your hotel:

1. Encourage lures with incentives

What’s a ‘lure’, you ask? It’s simply a marker players of Pokémon Go can place anywhere they wish which is designed to attract Pokémon. More Pokémon in any one area means more hunters, and if you can tempt people to place lures near your property, you may just see a few more bookings placed or bar tabs opened as a result.

The key is to incentivise people to place lures either within the grounds of your hotel or nearby. You could do so by offering a free coffee or marginal room discount. Try it and advertise the opportunity on social media and on a board outside your hotel - you have absolutely nothing to loose.

2. Run a social media campaign

Chances are, most Pokémon Go players are fairly active on social media and will devour any content that relates to their new favourite pastime. By leveraging something like Facebook advertising, you can potentially draw Pokémon fanatics to your hotel.

You only need a small budget - £50 to £60 should do it - and a nicely-presented post saying something along the lines of ‘We welcome Pokémon hunters at our hotel!’ with your location clearly marked. That post can then be promoted and targeted at the millennial generation. It’s worth a punt, no?

3. Turn your bar or cafe into a Pokémon pitstop

Pokémon hunting is thirsty work, so why not lure players to your establishment by promoting your bar or cafe as a pitstop for weary monster hunters? You could even design a takeaway pack that includes everything they need to stay hydrated and fed for the rest of the day’s Pokémon chasing.

4. Host a hunt

Pick a particular day of the week and declare it a Pokémon hunt day. If you schedule a specific time for the hunt and share it on social media (use a relevant hashtag such as #PokémonHunt, or similar), you should find people start to arrive and word will get around.

Make it an on-going thing and you’re likely to gain some new regulars in your bar or restaurant, too.

5. Encourage hunters to share their experience at your hotel

If you successfully manage to get Pokémon hunters to your hotel, encourage them to take photos of their time at your property and share judiciously on their social media feeds (remember to ask them to mention your Twitter or Instagram username, too). There’s nothing like a bit of free promotion carried out by someone else!

Summary

If you’re still scratching your head, Pokémon marketing (let’s give it a name!) may not be for you. However, you could do a lot worse than download the game yourself (it’s free) in order to get a feel for what all the fuss is about - it may be all you need to be inspired to jump on the Pokémon bandwagon.

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Usain Bolt

Just like Usain Bolt striding confidently ahead of the young pretenders, Welcome Systems has released yet another impressive update for the Welcome Anywhere hotel booking system.

There'll be no cheeky grinning while crossing the line, though - we'll leave that to the peerless Mr Bolt.

It was another bumper selection of updates for Welcome Anywhere users this week, as we launched several new features and tweaks that'll make hoteliers' lives easier, reception staff's time better utilised and the ability to predict future revenue and occupancy as simple as it should be.

Here are just some of the new features our customers are now benefitting from:

Blink-and-you'll-miss-it group booking

No hotel booking system should make group booking a chore, and Welcome Anywhere now comes with a completely revised group booking process which is more intuitive and features fewer steps.

Simply choose the stay criteria (arrival date, number of nights, guest, etc) - or click a date on the Booking Chart - and the group booking enquiry screen appears:

Group booking enquiry screen

Once the correct number of rooms have been chosen for each type, they can be added to a room 'basket'. The user can then allow Welcome Anywhere to allocate specific rooms automatically or do so themselves before adding pertinent guest details. It really is a cinch.

Forecast report

Need to know your projected lead times, stay lengths, occupancy percentages and number of rooms sold for any given date in the future? That information is now just a click away, thanks to the new forecast report:

Forecast report

No-shows

If you've ever done your best Basil Fawlty impression when a guest fails to turn up, you'll know how important it is to be able to process any no-show details quickly and without hassle.

In Welcome Anywhere, you can now mark no-shows in a variety of ways, depending on their payment status. And you can do so quickly (because we don't want to add to the headache)...

End of Day report improvements

The End of Day report provides vital financial information our users rely on all year round. With that in mind, we have treated it to a restructure that makes the data ultra-digestible. It's as powerful and insightful as ever, but even more approachable for new entrants to the hotel industry. As it should be.

New bug reporting tool

We don't always get it right, which is why we have long relied on our wonderful customers to highlight any minor bugs they spot while using Welcome Anywhere. Thankfully, they're few and far between, but when discovered, we wanted to make the reporting process as simple as possible, and we've achieved this by introducing a new tool that enables users to screenshot the issue directly in Welcome Anywhere itself:

Bug reporting tool

If you'd like to know more about the latest Welcome Anywhere update or find out how the industry's freshest system could benefit your hotel, get in touch today by clicking here.

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[fusion_text]Triptease logo

Never heard of advertising your hotel on 'Metasearch'? Confused about TripAdvisor's InstantBooking feature? How about further exploring the ability to tempt guests to book direct by promoting loyalty schemes?

Today's blog of the week is a video piece by the guys at Triptease and offers some fascinating thoughts on the above topics. Could TripAdvisor be the unlikely key to a direct booking revolution?

Well worth a watch!

[/fusion_text][button link="http://www.triptease.com/tripadvisor-marriott-hilton-adverts/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTlRsbFlXUm1ObVkxWVdJNSIsInQiOiJkekdwTksrWndOeVNqK2xIdzROc0hIN0s1VmZWUVhuOCtaeU5ZVlBkREFJZFROTCs4NjZPRnRjZEhOVGY0a01oa1lxWXBqeHE0TVdNOHlvMkF0YzgzaWpwUW9XK0tiRUVmNUxlazlZRzZ1RT0ifQ%3D%3D" color="default" size="" type="" shape="" target="_blank" title="" gradient_colors="|" gradient_hover_colors="|" accent_color="" accent_hover_color="" bevel_color="" border_width="1px" shadow="" icon="" icon_position="left" icon_divider="no" modal="" animation_type="0" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="1" alignment="" class="" id=""]Read Article[/button]

 

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PR for hotels

Public relations (PR) in the hotel sector is all about raising your profile and enhancing your reputation by achieving free (or ’earned’) media coverage.

The great advantage of learning how to ‘do’ PR is that you start to tell your story in an effective way that can prove highly attractive to guests and help establish a distinctive brand for your business.

PR doesn’t have to be scary. It’s a straightforward process of thinking creatively and understanding what journalists do and don’t want. Here are our top tips on how to get your PR programme up and running:

1. Find the media who matter to you

Which newspapers or radio stations cover your local area? What magazines do your customers read? Do you have something to say that would suit industry press? Begin by drawing up a list of all the publications, websites, or broadcasters that you’d ideally like to feature in. Research their news and feature sections, and learn who’s who on their editorial teams – it’s important to understand who covers what; in a paper it might be the editor or news team. On radio or TV it could be an individual journalist or producer. For specialist news websites, click on the ‘contact us’ section to discover who you should pitch stories or ideas to.

2. News is new, and different

Remember – no media outlet will produce a story about ‘who you are and why your hotel is brilliant.’ If you want to go down this route consider paid-for advertising. You need to offer a story or angle that will suit their readers, listeners or viewers, and it has to be factually accurate. Never, ever lie to the press! Firstly, they’ll quickly discover you’re making things up, and secondly they’ll never trust or work with you again.

On the whole news is ‘new, quirky or unusual; links into a national theme; has the potential to affect a big group of people; includes strong visual opportunities, and offers charismatic interviewees.’

If you imagine you’re ‘pitching’ a story idea to the media – keep it short and sweet. Offer a descriptive headline and an opening paragraph that tells the whole story. Think about how you flick through a newspaper or magazine and a headline captures your attention, making you want to stop and find out more. Here are a few recent new stories that caught our eye:

You might also want to consider the ‘features’ sections of particular media. Beyond the news pages do the media you are looking at review hotels or restaurants? Can you offer a competition stay or meal for their readers? If a journalist is interested in finding out more invite them to your hotel for a coffee and a chat if they have time.

Always be polite, friendly and to the point. Never be disappointed if they don’t pick up your story – it’s all part of the learning process.

3. Social media and websites

If you haven’t done so already invest some time online setting up Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages for your hotel. There are plenty of how-to guides available on the web to explain how to do this, along with best-practise advice on how to make the most of these valuable and far-reaching resources.

Keep your online comments updated regularly – one post a day or even week can be enough. Use attractive photography that shows off your hotel, facilities, services and location. Be prepared to quickly answer questions from prospective guests, and thank social commentators for their positive comments.

Create a news section for your website and also post all of your news stories here – remember, these are the sort of things that increasingly web-savvy guests expect to be able to look up and review before committing to book with you.

4. Some PR ideas to start with

Think about your hotel’s history, geography, staff, guests, services and community links:

  • Is there anything that makes your offer different from other hotels in the area?
  • Are you active in charity events?
  • Is there a human interest story about one of the team?
  • Have you reached a milestone in your history?
  • Is there a new industry trend you can predict or comment on?
  • Are you employing new technology to make your guests’ lives easier?
  • Have you had any unusual requests from guests that you now cater to?
  • Are you experiencing a boom in business? Why do you think this is?
  • Is there a local event or nearby tourist attraction that boosts your bookings?

For newspapers and television in particular think about the best visual opportunities you have to offer. For radio who is the best person to speak on your behalf? They need to be positive, well-informed and unflappable.

The above represents just a few ideas that your hotel could offer a unique and newsworthy perspective on.

Summary

To achieve PR success in the hotel business, it is important to develop a long-term programme of activity and get proactive! This approach will help keep your business front-of-mind with both journalists and their audiences.

Have fun, be bold and experiment!

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[fusion_text]Clockwork logo

If you're a hotelier, you'll know that barely a week goes by when a guest doesn't take it upon themselves to point out a failing in your lovingly-crafted accommodation experience. A leaky tap, poorly-located breakfast table or the inability to tune into Sky Sports 4 are the kind of complaints that will rear their heads without warning and often prove tricky to address.

In our favourite blog post from this week, marketing gurus Clockwork run through the 10 most common hotel complaints. They include dated features, unwanted surprises, the age old topic of cleanliness and 'dodgy' guests themselves.

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