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Hotelier news, tips and advice from industry experts.

Welcome Anywhere Property Managment System > Blog > 2017 > September

If you’re sniggering at the back having read the title of this blog post, we should perhaps point out that by ‘specialist accommodation provider’, we’re not referring to the practice of offering hotel rooms by the hour.

However, the hoteliers promoting the use of their properties for such erm… endeavours… may well have a point.

Bear with us.

The modern hotel sector is driven by the desire to create unforgettable guest experiences, and property owners are finding ever more inventive ways to do so.

The key here is to create a hotel stay and experience that is memorable for the right reasons and inspiring enough to prompt guests to tell their friends. This can be achieved by focusing on any of following elements:

  • décor;
  • food and/or drink;
  • technology comforts;
  • warmth of communications;
  • on-site activities (or tie-ins with local attractions); and
  • relevancy to the guest.

In this blog post, we’re going to focus on the latter, and look at three potential areas in which your hotel could specialise and appeal to a very specific audience.

1. The cycling pitstop

British cycling is booming.

Thanks to Bradley Wiggins and co, there appears to be more lycra-clad cyclists on the roads than ever before, and as a hotelier, that could present quite an opportunity.

If you happen to be placed conveniently on a common cycling route (and, let’s be honest, they’re rarely consigned to national cycle routes), your hotel could be the perfect overnight pitstop and respite for two-wheeled addicts.

By offering somewhere to securely store bikes, maps of alternative routes and high energy-based recovery meals, you’ll tap into a huge market that would otherwise have wheeled silently past your property.

2. The walkers’ retreat

It doesn’t matter where your hotel is situated, be it a busy city centre or tucked away in a pretty little hamlet - it probably resides either directly within or close by a common walking route.

A bit like cycling, the nation’s increased thirst for exercise has prompted many of us to head to our nearest outdoor clothing shop and stock up on rambling gear. And anyone who has gone one step further and actually used that gear will know how welcome the sight of a pub is during a long trek.

If your hotel has a bar - that’s your first route into this market, but you can go much further by following the cycling example.

Offer refreshments, restorative meals, maps and reasonably-priced rooms for the night and you’ll capture the eye of many a walking group. Make it clear on approach that you welcome dogs and muddy boots (in specific areas of the hotel, of course), and you’ll be amazed by how many people decide to take a break from their hike and drop in (or pre-book a room once word starts to spread!).

3. The classic car meet

Have you got a sizeable carpark or patch of grass that sits unused for long stretches of the year? If so, you have a brilliant opportunity to encourage car enthusiasts to regularly visit your hotel.

Classic car ‘meets’ are incredibly popular and take place all year round. What’s more, the organisers of these petrol-fuelled events are always looking for space in which to hold them, and your hotel could provide an attractive backdrop, plenty of room for the vehicles and beds for anyone who has travelled particularly far.

Wrapping up

In a market as competitive as this one, you need to get creative in order to differentiate your offering from the bland, flatpack chain competition and more adventurous independents. Our tips above will hopefully inspire you to do just that!

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In episode 3 of the Welcome Systems podcast, we invite founder and CEO of Right Revenue, Adrienne Hanna, to unpick the contentious subject of rate management for hotels.

This fascinating insight into what is often considered the 'dark art' of hotel management asks one of the industry's foremost experts in the field the following questions:

  • What’s the biggest challenge facing hoteliers in the digital age?
  • What’s a ‘strategic rate strategy’?
  • How can hoteliers overcome ‘not enough time’ syndrome?
  • How can hoteliers maximise their use of their own website and OTAs?
  • How do you effective track and measure your rate strategy?
  • How should hotels deal with bargain hunters?
  • Does the AirBnB model threaten the hotel industry as we know it?

Enjoy:

https://soundcloud.com/user-568165456/welcome-systems-podcast-ep3-finding-time-for-proper-rate-management-featuring-right-revenue

Find out more about Right Revenue here: www.rightrevenue.co.uk

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We're delighted to announce that we have appointed Checkout (CI) Ltd as the sole agent in The Channel Islands for the Welcome Anywhere hotel booking system.

Welcome Systems’ Managing Director, John Jones, explains:

“As part of our growth strategy we’ve identified a gap in the market. Hotel management systems aimed at large hospitality chains are unprepared to support independent hoteliers based outside of the mainland.

“UK Hoteliers love Welcome Anywhere’s ease of use, regularly updated features and straightforward monthly subscription.

“The days of expensive, outdated booking systems are gone and we plan to break new ground in the Channel Islands by bringing our next generation product to hotels, B&Bs and guest houses there.

“We only partner with the best and Checkout (CI) Ltd, with offices in Jersey and Guernsey, is the leading provider of electronic point of sale systems (EPOS) in the Channel Islands. Offering invaluable local knowledge, expertise and connections, Welcome Anywhere is a natural addition to their product range. This agreement was a no-brainer!”

Mike Le Conte, CEO Checkout (CI) Ltd, adds:

“Our own EPOS software providers interface with many different hospitality management systems and they recommended Welcome Anywhere as the most innovative and impressive they’ve ever seen.

“The Channel Islands have a fantastic selection of mostly independent hotels. Everyone knows everyone else here, and recommendation is absolutely key.

“The introduction of Welcome Anywhere is a huge opportunity for the Islands. There is a high demand for staff, who often switch between hotels, so having an intuitive online management system that can easily manage bookings and guest enquiries 24/7 is vital.

“A major advantage over other UK providers needing to deliver training or on-site assistance is that they have to get on a plane. We can be with our clients in about 15 minutes.”

To book your free trial of Welcome Anywhere in the Channel Islands, please contact Mike Le Conte at Checkout (CI) Ltd on email: gsy@checkoutci.com (01481 716307) or Jonathan Rubber on email: jsy@checkoutci.com (01534 871784).

For anywhere else in the UK, email sales@welcome-systems.uk (0330 1001090) or click here.

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You have to be very careful with the word ‘trend’ in the hotel industry.

We’ve seen plenty of supposed hospitality trends come and go. Most recently, we’ve witnessed the expected rise of ‘social travel’ - where strangers with common travel desires use Twitter to pool their resources and travel together - come to nothing.

Then there were the seemingly more practical trends such as self-service hotel kiosks (which still suffer from poor adoption among independent hotels) and the admirable although ultimately flawed idea of flexible check-out times and pay-by-the-hour hotel stays.

In this blog, we’re going to list six expected hotel trends and let you be the judge.

Will you be watching them with interest, or doing all you can to avoid jumping on each bandwagon as they pass?

1. Themed hotels

Disney recently announced plans to build the first ever Star Wars-themed hotel in Orlando, Florida.

Is this the start of immersive, themed hotel experiences, or something entirely reserved for the magic and wonder of resorts like Disney World?

2. From eco-friendly to sustainable

Operating a ‘green’ hotel is old hat now, apparently.

Rather than being eco-friendly, the hotel of the near future is expected to be fully sustainable, by using solar and geothermal technology to produce it’s energy. Expect non-toxic products to feature heavily in restaurants, too, in a bid to lower carbon footprints.

3. Biometric access goes mainstream

There was once a time when gaining access to rooms by placing your face in front of a retina scanner was the stuff of sci-fi movies, but with Apple including the Face ID biometric scanner in its latest iPhone, there’s a strong chance fiction will become reality for many of us.

Biometric access in hotels isn’t new, and there are plenty throughout the world that offer fingerprint recognition for guests when entering their rooms and paying for services. But how long will it take for the technology to become affordable enough to install throughout a thirty bedroom independent hotel?

4. Personalised spa treatments

With targeted advertising on platforms such as Facebook dictating the way we’re served promotional campaigns, ‘personalisation’ is the new buzzword in marketing, and it already plays a huge role in hospitality.

However, it looks set to go even further.

For instance, if your hotel operates a spa, experts believe you’ll need to begin catering for customers who are increasingly expecting highly-personalised experiences. That means treatments that automatically take into account a person’s preferences and medical condition.

Does this mean the end of the spa menu?

5. Neuro tech

Perhaps our favourite tech trend prediction for hotels is that guests will soon be able to access neuro technology to program their dreams.

An explanation of how this would work is best left to the experts, but the premise lies in the ability to choose ‘dream themes’ that are automatically fed into the brain to help you relax.

Stop laughing at the back.

6. Robot Butlers

Long predicted but ultimately failing to make any kind of impact thus far is the robot butler, or ‘robobutler’.

The idea is for hotels to swap the standard, human-led concierge service for one that leans on artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable robots to cater fully for guests.

From greeting guests on arrival outside to providing full room service and guidance, robobutlers could take hotel automation to a whole new level.

Wrapping up

What do you think? Which of the above trends are likely to last the test of time?

Use the comments section below to offer your thoughts!

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May 2018 will see the arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). And, if your business stores personal data (which, let’s be honest, most do these days), you’ll need to comply - or risk heavy fines.

If you’ve never heard of the GDPR before, this blog isn’t intended to give you the full rundown, because the internet is awash with descriptions of the new legislation (check out the link above for the official detail).

Instead, we’ve decided to gather five of the most common myths about GDPR compliance and debunk them, because there’s clearly a great deal of confusion over the replacement for the Data Protection Act 1998.

Myth 1: The GDPR is all about personally identifiable data only

The GDPR isn’t solely focused on protecting data that is obviously related to individuals (i.e. their name, address or date of birth).

The legislation will also apply to information such as IP addresses and cookie tracking, and this is because the advertising sector no longer treats data of that ilk as anonymous.

Myth 2: Erm… Brexit’s happening, innit?

The fact that the UK is leaving the EU has absolutely zero impact on your business’s requirements to be GDPR compliant.

Firstly, the enforcement of the GDPR will take place a good ten months before Brexit, and even when the UK does leave the EU, businesses within this country will still need to comply due to the fact that the GDPR applies to the personal data of all EU residents.

Therefore, any guests you have from EU member states, or data stored about EU nationals living within the UK, will be subject to the new rules and regulations.

Sorry - you can’t use the Brexit card here.

Myth 3: The GDPR will only apply to new data we collect

Nope. Sorry.

The GDPR applies to all personal data you store and process, no matter when it was collected.

Myth 4: My hotel booking system provider has sole responsibility to remain GDPR compliant - not us

You’re quite right in assuming that the hotel booking system provider will need to be fully GDPR compliant, but there’s a fair bit you’ll need to do, too.

Your hotel will collect and interact with data in a variety of ways, therefore every touchpoint will need to be accounted for, and they won’t all be linked to the booking system.

Equally, even if you’re not physically storing the data yourselves, you’ll still be considered a data controller, and therefore subject to the GDPR’s rules.

Myth 5: The fines are the biggest threat

There’s no escaping the fact that fines of 4% of revenue or £17 million are potentially business-killers, but they should be relatively rare in the UK.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has stated that it prefers “the carrot to the stick”, and it’s likely they’ll focus more heavily on companies that flout the laws or fail to notify them when a data breach has taken place.

So, the fines are a threat, but they’re not necessarily the biggest. If you’re hit by a data breach and your lack of GDPR compliance results in serious problems for your customers, the PR consequences could be far worse.

Wrapping up

There’s no escaping GDPR, but, equally, no reason to panic. Time is still on your side, which means you can start preparing for this signifiant change to data legislation - today.

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In episode 2 of the Welcome Systems podcast, we invite Mark Ferguson from More Fire PR to discuss how hotels can manage their reputation both on- and offline.

Mark tells us what PR is in the digital age and how PR works for hotels. We also discuss the thorny topic of guest reviews and somehow relate Donald Trump's obsession with fake news to the hospitality industry.

Enjoy:

https://soundcloud.com/user-568165456/welcome-systems-podcast-ep2-hotel-pr-trumped-featuring-more-fire-pr-august-2017

Find out more about More Fire PR here: www.morefirepr.co.uk

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