Blog Archive

Hotelier news, tips and advice from industry experts.

Welcome Anywhere Property Managment System > Blog > 2018 > September

As hotelier problems go, this one is pretty epic.

You’re busy (really busy) but you have absolutely no idea why. As far as you can tell, it isn’t anything to do with the season, there’s no local events on, and your competitors, by comparison, appear to be struggling.

What’s going on? Why are you so awesome at this hotelier lark?

Hospitality is a funny beast. You’ll have periods where you are inexplicably busy and, unfortunately, the same goes when occupancy drops. Sometimes, there’s no rhyme or reason for it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a closer look at what’s going on.

Chances are, you’re getting something (or several things) right. And we’d like to give you a head start on your investigations.

People have heard they’ll be getting a great experience

A great guest experience beats a simple bed for the night, hands down, and if you’re personalising the service you offer customers, word will soon get around.

To you, this is the stuff you do each and every day; it comes naturally. But to other, less discerning hoteliers, the idea of using a PMS to its full potential and leveraging guests’ personal and stay data to offer tailored experiences will feel like too much work.

Think about it - you’re not just a hotelier; when people check in, they’re also given detailed information about the area and a reminder that the team is always there for them should they need any assistance in making the most of their time.

The pre- and post-stay emails and text messages you send out are also making a real difference. Guests who stay at your hotel feel welcome, looked after and as though their booking has been tailor-made for them. And you know what? They’ll share that experience with their mates, family and the entire world on social media.

You reward guests

The rewards programme you set up a few months ago may have been a bit of a punt, marketing-wise, but perhaps it’s now starting to take effect.

Once again, as word spreads about the value of being part of your closed group of guests (better rates, room upgrades and whatever else you may have dreamed up for members), people will start to look your way as opposed to the chains.

You’ve nailed the room amenities

Nope, not to the desk…! You’ve nailed your approach to room amenities.

Wi-Fi is free (yes!), each TV offers entertainment on demand, and the money you invested in that keycard system that accepts entry via guest smartphones has all but replaced the need for physical cards.

The process of checking in, using the room and getting stuff done in the hotel when you’re a guest is seamless, fast, efficient and - most importantly - enjoyable.

This stuff really matters.

Your online booking process is mega easy

Lastly, one of the key reasons you’re experiencing consistently high occupancy rates is because you offer a great online booking service on your own website.

Direct bookings are hard to come by in an age where OTAs dominate the online hospitality marketplace, but guests aren’t stupid - they’ll shop around and visit hotel websites before making a decision. It just so happens that yours features an online booking platform that’s a cinch to use and on par with anything the OTAs have to offer.

Wrapping up

This isn’t a fluke - you’re definitely getting something right.

Use our pointers above to suss out where your secret sauce lies… and make some more of it!

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By going the extra mile as a hotelier, you’ll create experiences that guests share far and wide.

It’s a super-simple yet highly effective marketing strategy; you do what you do best and let guests do the talking. Thanks to the power and reach of social media, their effort alone will ensure your hotel lands in the news feeds of countless potential guests without a penny of marketing spend.

All that’s required is some time and ingenuity. Oh, and the following list of small yet brilliant touches that create a great, personalised guest experience:

1. Destination tips

Destination promotion is increasingly being used by hotels across the world to boost occupancy.

By talking about the area in which your hotel is located and providing insider tips on how to get the most out of a stay, you’ll attract the attention of guests who are seeking an authentic, local experience.

This strengthens your brand reputation, proves you’re about far more than just a bed for the night and raises your authority online.

You needn’t spend any money on destination promotion, either, just blog regularly about things to do in your town, city or village and include destination tips in your welcome packs.

2. Provide customer care on Twitter

This might sound a bit too corporate for your independent hotel, but customers expect businesses to respond to their criticism or praise on Twitter - no matter the industry.

For instance, if a guest has a less than enjoyable stay at your hotel and decides to make their feelings known on Twitter, they’ll probably mention you in their tweet. And this is great (no, really!), because it gives you the opportunity to jump into the conversation, reply and show the world that you care about the service you provide.

Be active on Twitter. Complaints will hopefully be few and far between, but aside from dealing with incoming flak, make sure you thank people who say nice things about your service. Search for hashtags relevant to your area, too, and get involved; demonstrate your knowledge of the area and give your hotel that all-important personality online.

3. Leave handwritten notes

In an age of social media, instant messaging and smartphone addiction, handwritten letters are unique, satisfying traditional and - most importantly - engaging.

Why not delight your guests by leaving handwritten notes in their room? If you’re abiding by GDPR rules and ethically collecting data about them, you could say happy birthday, invite the guest to try an update to the restaurant dish they enjoyed last time or simply thank them for staying at your hotel.

This requires minimal effort, yet is the kind of gesture that might make its way onto the social media feed of the guest you’ve delighted.

4. Surprise guests with in-room treats

During the booking process (be it online or over the phone), ask guests if they’re celebrating anything during their stay. Engagements, anniversaries and birthdays are common reasons for getaways, therefore if you’re aware of the special date, you can grab the opportunity to leave a little surprise in the room.

A complementary bottle of champagne, flowers or box of chocolates won’t break the bank, but will put a huge smile on the faces of guests who are in the mood for celebration.

And they won’t forget it!

5. Use a modern PMS

All four tips above can be undertaken without technology, but you’ll save considerable time if you have a modern PMS from which to gather the required data.

Personalising a guest experience starts with their profile on your PMS. The more you know about a guest, the more you can build a stay for them which will feel entirely their own. Old PMSs that don’t offer comprehensive guest profiling, GDPR compatibility or integration with guest feedback platforms simply don’t cut it anymore, and you don’t need to spend a fortune to upgrade, thanks to cloud computing.

Wrapping up

What have we missed? If you’ve experienced success by personalising your guests’ experiences and don’t mind sharing them with the world (hey, we’re all in this together, right?), let us know in the comments section, below!

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In episode 9 of the Welcome Systems podcast, John Jones, Mat Marlow and Mark Ellis talk about how far the hotel property management system (more readily referred to as the ‘PMS’) has come, and how software as a service and changing user expectations are shaping an exciting future for this once 2D tool.

Grab a coffee (although, we won't hold you to that - any beverage of choice will do), and enjoy a tech jargon-free (ish), fascinating discussion on the following topics:

  • The evolution of the '2D' PMS
  • The difference between on-premise and Software as a Service
  • Challenging PMS norms: how relevant is the booking chart today?
  • How smartphones and millennial expectations have changed the game
  • More than skin deep: how do modern systems support growth?
  • The new breed of exciting PMS features (connectivity, rate and yield management, guest experience and upselling)
  • Going global: is it easier to attract guests from abroad with a modern PMS?

Check out the podcast below and subscribe on iTunes:

https://soundcloud.com/user-568165456/the-welcome-systems-podcast-ep9-the-hotel-pms

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Corporate bookings are the holy grail for hoteliers when it comes to filling midweek space that’s inconvenient for leisure guests.

There’s just one problem - attracting corporate clients is hard when you’re an independent hotelier battling against the big brands and their even bigger corporate booking schemes.

Don’t give up! Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and the following five tips will help you attract more corporate bookings to your hotel than you thought possible.

1. Keep an eye out for future local business events

Depending on your location, you may be within a short taxi ride of a popular event venue that regularly holds conferences or trade shows. If that’s the case, keep a close eye on its schedule and add some business seasonality to your tariff by pitching rates competitively during those times.

Look at what the big boys are doing; if they’re offering discounted B&B rates during a conference, go one step further and throw in free transport to and from the venue (assuming you have a minibus or similar), and add dinner as an option for weary event-goers.

2. Enable groups to manage the booking themselves

There’s nothing worse as the organiser of a group hotel booking for your company than feeling completely out of control when it comes to the accommodation arrangements.

As the hotelier, there’s nothing more time consuming than the constant requests for booking changes that often come from corporate clients.

Surely, there must be an answer that leaves everyone satisfied in this situation, right?

Thankfully, there is - if you have the right property management system (PMS). The best will enable you to provide group bookers with tightly controlled ways of modifying and managing the booking themselves. And don’t worry - you won’t be giving them the keys to your castle; instead, they’ll get just enough access to make the changes that would otherwise take up an inordinate amount of your day.

3. Don’t try and be something you’re not

You’re not a big hotel brand, but you know what? That’s absolutely fine!

Trying to compete with the big boys of the hotel sector by becoming a mini version of them will probably land you in hot water as you start implementing levels of service you simply can’t sustain.

Some business travellers want an independent, small hotel experience. In fact, many will crave it if they spend the majority of their travels staying in flat-pack, soulless brand hotels.

You are what you are, and that’s a very good thing indeed. Independent hotels will often stand out for all the right reasons (price, location and flexibility to name but a few) during corporate booking searches.

4. Automate where you can

Even if a business traveller yearns for an independent hotel experience, they’ll still expect certain levels of automation.

Lean on your PMS and its surrounding technology as much as you can to ensure your business guests get the swift, easy service they require from the point of booking to check-out.

Automated booking confirmation emails and SMS messages are a must, as is the ability for guests to have all of their miscellaneous spend conducted in the hotel posted directly (and accurately) to their room invoice.

5. Don’t skimp on Wi-Fi - ever

It’s amazing how many hotels still charge for access to in-room Wi-Fi.

Those days are long gone, and just because you’re trying to attract business guests, it doesn’t mean you can ‘get away’ with charging for access to the internet.

Make it free, fast and secure it behind login systems that don’t require a call to reception to unlock.

Wrapping up

There are plenty of business guests out there for your hotel to welcome through its doors.

Don’t give up - the big boys have absolutely nothing on you when it comes to delivering a corporate accommodation experience that will keep businesses coming back for more.

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