hotel marketing tip | hotel software uk

Running an independent hotel can feel like an uphill struggle - especially if you stick to the same old methods you’ve always used and ignore the need to innovate.

But rather than let the big chains walk all over you, it makes sense to stop procrastinating and take action.

Here are five things you can do today to level the playing field in this competitive market.

1. Implement price-matching offers

match big chain hotel prices | hotel upselling

With comparison sites making such an impact on the industry, ignoring the likelihood of being undercut by the big chains is not wise.

You don’t necessarily need to make all of your rooms cheaper than your rivals on your PMS, but it’s advisable to make sure your rates are at least in tune with customer expectations.

Matching prices with the big chain competition can lure in bargain hunters while still ensuring that your hotel has that unique, boutique, exclusive feel that you’ve worked so hard to foster.

2. Create a loyalty scheme

create hotel loyalty program | hotel booking systems

Getting guests to return after their initial stay is tricky, but if you offer an incentive, they’re much more likely to re-book.

Many of the major hotel operators have loyalty schemes designed to do just that, but there’s no reason you can’t recreate this on a smaller scale for your own property.

You could even factor in discounts for guests who recommend you to their family, friends and colleagues to spread the benefits even further.

3. Improve your website

optimise your hotel's website | hotel management software uk

There’s no excuse for having a sub-standard website that looks unprofessional when compared with those of mainstream rivals.

Makes sure your website is optimised for search engines, easy-to-use on mobile devices and targeted to win bookings in as few clicks as possible to get the best results.

Make your online hotel booking systems front and centre on every page; it’s what potential bookers will be looking for!

4. Get on top of social media

hotel social media marketing | hotel upselling

You need a presence on social media to both promote your hotel and respond to guests who may be using platforms like TwitterFacebook and Instagram to ask questions and provide feedback.

Running your social media accounts doesn’t need to take up too much of your time, and you shouldn’t neglect them if you can help it.

The potential benefits are too good to pass up, and all the top hotel chains are already maximising their impact on these sites, so you should too.

Also remember that you can use social media proactively, both to request reviews from previous guests and to promote your latest offers to people who have stayed with you in the past.

5. Create a mobile app

hotel mobile app | hotel booking systems

Smartphones are ubiquitous today and you can assume that most guests who stay with you will have an iOS (Apple) or Android (Google) device at their disposal.

Because of this, creating an interactive mobile app is a sensible and exciting idea, and will allow you to impress visitors with what they can do from their smartphone during their stay.

From checking in and out to placing an order for room service without needing to make a call, a hotel app can be flexible enough to offer a wide range of convenient functions, thus creating a memorable guest experience.

If you don’t want the big chains to win the tech war, this is a great investment to make.

What do you think?

What have we missed? If you’re a successful independent hotelier, tell us what has worked for you in the comments section below (don’t worry – you can remain anonymous).

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Welcome Anywhere has over 30 years of experience in helping independent hoteliers deliver guests an unforgettable experience with its simple property management system that controls your daily activities. The best part -  it’s all cloud hosted! We develop scalable solutions for your property such as PMS, a Booking Engine and Channel Manager. Our team has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and we serve you to better serve your guests.

Call us today at + 44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@welcomeanywhere.com. We will be happy to walk you through Welcome Anywhere’s all-in-one solution for your property management needs.

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How To Create A Killer Room Rate Strategy For Your Hotel | Hotel Software UK

We can write teaching-gran-to-suck-eggs articles about being customer focussed on repeat until they become white noise. And it stands to reason; your hotel's warm and friendly experience will always be top priority. However, you can't provide warmth or friendship if there's nobody booked in to experience it.

You're still running a business, after all... right?

Those doors need to swing open; heads need to hit pillows. Your hotel may have a parade of loyal customers coming back to you every time they're in the area, but how often do they visit? You still need a murderously good room rate strategy for your hotel.

Here are a few ideas to get as many guests as possible through your door.

Adopt Psychological Pricing

Psychological Pricing | Hotel Upselling

This might just be the oldest trick in the book - but still one of the best.

We know there's no tangible difference between £99 and £100. When you have time to weigh it all up and talk about it, there isn't a lot of value that can be found in the £1 you're losing. But when people are comparing prices and looking to book online, £99 looks a lot cheaper.

In fact, it looks almost £10 cheaper!

Keep an eye on the competition

Create Room Rate Strategy | Hotel Management Software UK

If your hotel's struggling to get people through the door, there's a good chance that it might be happening to other hotels in your area, and some of them may have tried to counteract the quiet period by creating a low room rate strategy.

It's always good to know what your competition are doing.

By using your PMS, researching OTAs, or by using social listening techniques on Twitter and Facebook, you can keep tabs on them. If a competitor's basic room price is lower than yours, then combat it. Can you lower your price to match? Can you add something of value to your own room to capture the interest of potential guests?

Offer packages

Create a Room Rate Strategy | Hotel Booking Systems

Is your hotel just a building full of beds? Does it have a restaurant in which you could add a set price for a meal? A free breakfast, perhaps? If your hotel can add value to the customer's stay, then go ahead and create the ideal package for your guests.

Even if there's little extra you can offer, you can create great experiences by partnering with other businesses in the area. Between you and the local golf course, for instance, can you work together and create a package with great value? And what about local attractions and museums?

There's always opportunity to add value to your customers stay, whether you have extra facilities or not.

Implement a length of stay strategy

How To Create A Killer Room Rate Strategy For Your Hotel | Hotel Upselling

Is your hotel in a bustling city? Is there a local festival or attraction happening? Could it be that there is so much to do that it might just take more than one night to make the most of the trip?

A convincingly low price on multiple nights might just tempt your guests into elongating their visit. Even if this sounds like you're losing money on the room, you may just make up for it at the bar and restaurant.

Wrapping up

For some hotels, standard room rates are as much a fixture of the hotel as that great big tree in the car park. However, some things shouldn't be quite so immovable. By using real-time data, and creating tantalising offers you could still attract people through the door.

Look at your room rate strategy often. In fact, look at the OTAs and GDSs on a near daily basis to see what's happening in the market. I am sure, with one of these strategies, you'll be filling your hotel in no time!

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Welcome Anywhere has over 30 years of experience in helping independent hoteliers deliver guests an unforgettable experience with its simple property management system that controls your daily activities. The best part -  it’s all cloud hosted! We develop scalable solutions for your property such as PMS, a Booking Engine and Channel Manager. Our team has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and we serve you to better serve your guests.

Call us today at + 44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@welcomeanywhere.com. We will be happy to walk you through Welcome Anywhere’s all-in-one solution for your property management needs.

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Google Analytics for Hoteliers | hotel software uk

You’re a modern, savvy hotelier, which means you’ve got a website with an awesome online booking portal. Obviously.

It also means you understand what Google Analytics is. You’re aware that it provides vital insight into the way in which visitors interact with your hotel’s most important web presence. You also know that it offers data that enables you to fine tune your website to better engage visitors and ensure they click the ‘book now’ button.

There’s just one problem. It’s a bit cumbersome and you don’t really have the time to spend on it.

If you feel like this, you’re not alone. Google Analytics is a fantastic tool, but it does require a significant amount of time if you’re to get to grips with it.

…unless you know immediately where to head for the juiciest stuff.

And now, you do. Here’s the three most important Google Analytics metrics to review regularly:

1. The bounce rate

hotel industry tips | hotel software uk

Of all Google Analytics stats, the bounce rate is the worst when it comes to crushing your digital hopes and dreams, because it indicates how many visitors enter your website - and leave, immediately.

A high bounce rate is anything above 60%; keep it below that, and you’re probably serving the right content to the right audience.

You can break the bounce rate down by page if you want, too, therefore if you’ve recently set up a new winter warmer offer and want to see how many people have immediately decided it’s not for them, Analytics will give you all the data you need.

Find it here: Audience > Overview

2. New vs Returning visitors

new vs. returning visitors | hotel upselling

One of the best ways to segment your website visitors is to create two pots - one for new visitors, the other for people who have come back for more.

These are two very different audiences. The new people may never have heard of you before, and therefore probably need a fair bit more encouragement to book. Returners may be far ‘warmer’ and closer to the point of reserving a room. You may be more inclined to implement more hotel upselling initiatives for returning guests, who have already enjoyed a nice stay at your property and are ready for more.

Understanding how many of the total visitors are made up by these two groups is vital in helping you tune your website to best serve them. For instance, if new visitors have a particularly high bounce rate, you may not be providing enough information about the hotel, or the booking facility might be too hard to find.

Find it here: Audience > Behaviour > New vs. Returning

3. Average session duration

Google Analytics Average Session Duration | hotel management software uk

Second to bounce rate in terms of potentially demoralising web stats is the average session duration. As you’d expect, this refers to how long people browse your website on average, but the headline figure demands further exploration.

Once again, you can view average session duration by page, and by using the Users Flow report (Audience > Users Flow) to determine the most common journeys through your website, you can start to build a picture of where people are either hitting some kind of barrier or spending a significant amount of time.

It’ll take a bit of guesswork and experimentation, but the average session duration may indicate a usability issue or that you’ve absolutely nailed it with the page content.

Find it here: Audience > Overview

Wrapping up

You’ll notice that we haven’t once mentioned the page view, users or total session stats above. And this isn’t because they’re not important (they are), but the number of people visiting your hotel website is far less important than the quality of those visitors.

Invest the short time you have for Google Analytics in the above datasets and you’ll start to build a picture of how well your website is performing and what needs to be done to improve the number of direct bookings you’re receiving.

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Welcome Anywhere has over 30 years of experience in helping independent hoteliers deliver guests an unforgettable experience with its simple property management system that controls your daily activities. The best part -  it’s all cloud hosted! We develop scalable solutions for your property such as PMS, a Booking Engine and Channel Manager. Our team has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and we serve you to better serve your guests.

 

Call us today at + 44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@welcomeanywhere.com. We will be happy to walk you through Welcome Anywhere’s all-in-one solution for your property management needs.

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Choosing The Right OTA For Your Independent Hotel | Hotel Booking Systems

Whether you’re new to the hotel industry or have been part of it for decades, you’ll doubtless share one opinion on online travel agencies (OTAs).

No, no - not that one…

This one: there are so many of them. There’s the biggies, of course, but the number of smaller, niche OTAs has simply exploded in recent years.

This presents something of a problem for savvy hoteliers who want to maximise their presence online; how do you choose the right OTAs for your hotel?

As it turns out, it comes down to four simple factors. But first…

It’s about quality - not quantity

Spreading your wings wide online and having a presence on several OTAs has always been good practice, but that can lead to OTA overload if you get too carried away.

Your agency strategy should be one that focuses on quality rather than quantity. Even with the best channel manager in the world linked up and ready to go, you’re still giving yourself rather too much work if you sign up to every OTA under the sun.

Instead, it’s better to seek out the OTAs that best fit your hotel’s ethos, target market and, obviously, which are the most cost effective.

Here’s how to find them:

1. Check the audience

Choosing The Right OTA For Your Independent Hotel | Hotel Software UK

If you list your rooms and rates on an OTA that targets an audience you’d never target yourself your hotel might begin filling with customers who’s demands, tastes and expectations simply can’t be fulfilled.

For instance, if you cater mainly for couples seeking short breaks in kid-free environments, listing your hotel on a family-oriented OTA is probably going to result in some rather uncomfortable guest clashes.

Before you sign up to any OTA, find out exactly what type of audience they’re targeting by either asking them directly or scouring their website (the clues will be there).

2. Suss out the price

OTA market | management systems for hotels london

Every booking sent via an OTA comes at a price - that will never change. However, to avoid getting too grumpy over commission, you need to look at it more positively.

Which commission rates are going to deliver the best bang for your buck? If the OTA appears to target your perfect market, or is likely to bring in some high-spending guests, a slightly higher commission rate is probably a price worth paying.

Oh, and the commission rate should reflect something else you get, too…

3. …the features!

OTA Shopping | Hotel Booking Systems

Not all OTAs are made the same; some offer specific rate management and listing features that you won’t find elsewhere - and some of those features may not be compatible with your marketing plan at all.

One of the key things to check during your OTA shopping trip is compatibility with your PMS and channel manager. Without that, an OTA is next to useless, because you’ll end up in double-booking hell and with a huge amount of work that should be undertaken by software. So you'll have to ensure your hotel booking systems comply with consumer expectations.

OTAs spend a lot of time and money creating new features that hoteliers can take advantage of - just make sure they’re features you’re likely to use.

4. The guest experience

Guest Experience | hotel upselling

Time to put your guest hat on.

What’s the OTA like when it comes to booking a room? Is the booking process accessible, intuitive and likely to resonate with your audience?

A great feature set, cost effective commission rate and perfect audience is nothing if the OTA is a pig to use - tough but true.

Wrapping up

Happy OTA hunting! Take your time, but use the four factors above to narrow down your search to the most relevant websites for your hotel.

Been there and done it? What’s your OTA strategy? Have we missed something? If so, tell us in the comments section, below.

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Welcome Anywhere has over 30 years of experience in helping independent hoteliers deliver guests an unforgettable experience with its simple property management system that controls your daily activities. The best part -  it’s all cloud hosted! We develop scalable solutions for your property such as PMS, a Booking Engine and Channel Manager. Our team has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and we serve you to better serve your guests.

 

Call us today at + 44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@welcomeanywhere.com. We will be happy to walk you through Welcome Anywhere’s all-in-one solution for your property management needs.

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Specialist Accommodation Provider | hotel software uk

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

How To Turn Your Hotel Into A Specialist Accommodation Provider | Hotel Software UK

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

Hotels Specialist Accommodation Provider | hotel booking systems

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

Hotel Classic Car Meets | hotel upselling

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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Welcome Anywhere has over 30 years of experience in helping independent hoteliers deliver guests an unforgettable experience with its simple property management system that controls your daily activities. The best part -  it’s all cloud hosted! We develop scalable solutions for your property such as PMS, a Booking Engine and Channel Manager. Our team has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and we serve you to better serve your guests.

Call us today at + 44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@welcomeanywhere.com. We will be happy to walk you through Welcome Anywhere’s all-in-one solution for your property management needs.

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Big Data And Hotels: How It’s Changing The Game For Guests | hotel upselling

Travel and hospitality is an incredibly competitive industry which requires the businesses operating within to create unforgettable guest experiences.

Until now, the ability to do this has required massive marketing budgets and inordinate amounts of time.

Now, we live in a world of big data and something called ‘hyper personalisation’. In human language, this means there’s an inordinate amount of information about consumers available to businesses, who now have the ability to use that information to send precisely targeted marketing campaigns.

But what does this mean for independent hotels, their guests and online hotel booking systems?

Big data and hotel customers

Big Data And Hotels | hotel booking systems

It’s easy to dismiss big data as being another indication that ‘big brother’ is watching us all, ready to pounce with unsolicited offers and irritating emails, but that’s a little short-sighted.

The hospitality mantra of ‘customer-first’ runs deep within hotel operations, and big data could help your hotel tailor a much more personalised offering for its guests. And that’s a win-win for everyone.

The more data you collect about a guest, the more you know about them. Demographics, past stay habits and their behaviour on your website can all inform the packages you put together and the offers you send to them via email.

It enables you to segment your guest database, too. An example described on Forbes.com tells of a hotel chain that used analytics from big data to rearrange rooms for either leisure or business travellers.

Why not match your rooms, service and food offering to the data you hold about guests?

Big data and the benefit it offers hotel businesses

Hotel PMS UK | hotel software uk

Big data can be a bit overwhelming. It comes at you from all angles and arrives in such large quantities that it’s understandable if the desire to do anything with it slips further down the priority list.

For instance, if you publish your availability via OTAs, they’ll likely provide plenty of data and statistics on the guests who book via that method. Likewise, your PMS will probably store comprehensive guest contact and preference details, along with stay histories.

Then you have the smartphone-carrying housekeepers who generate data about room cleanliness and turnaround times. And what if you’ve connected your till system to the PMS? All those bar tabs and table accounts will be generating countless transactions that provide invaluable insights into your F&B operation.

Exhausted? Fair enough. But there’s an answer to the big data conundrum.

With the right systems in place, you can take advantage of this data by gaining access to dashboards and reports that make sense of the raw information.

It’ll help you make decisions about the lifetime value of guests; which ones generate the most revenue for you? Who returns regularly but is yet to spend a penny in the bar?

Big data will benefit your hotel operation, even if you’re yet to obtain it.

Big data: is it ‘now’ or ‘future’ for independent hotels?

Big data might not quite be at full adoption stage for independent hotels, but with technology once reserved for large chains fast filtering down the industry food chain, it’s coming.

For your guests, big data will deliver a more personal experience. For your hotel, it will enable you to build profitable relationships with customers, give you a competitive edge and uncover countless latent revenue generating opportunities.

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Welcome Anywhere has over 30 years of experience in helping independent hoteliers deliver guests an unforgettable experience with its simple property management system that controls your daily activities. The best part -  it’s all cloud hosted! We develop scalable solutions for your property such as PMS, a Booking Engine and Channel Manager. Our team has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and we serve you to better serve your guests.

 

Call us today at + 44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@welcomeanywhere.com. We will be happy to walk you through Welcome Anywhere’s all-in-one solution for your property management needs.

 

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How to Limit Your Hotel's Impact on The Environment | Hotel Software UK

For some guests, a visit to a hotel is an excuse to forgo their usual frugal behaviours and take full advantage of the facilities available to them.

Whether blasting the air con at max, charging all their devices at once, running a piping hot bath or getting fresh towels every 24 hours, eco-friendly habits go out the window when someone else is footing the bill.

Meanwhile, hotels are increasingly under pressure to improve their sustainability and cut their carbon footprint. So, what options are available to environmentally conscious hoteliers?

Recycle, recycle, recycle!

Recycling for hotels | management systems for hotels london

With recycling resources in abundance today, there’s no excuse for sending all hotel waste to landfill.

A lot of the hard work can be taken out of the equation if you encourage guests to sort their waste materials for you. Add a separate bin for recycling to each of the rooms in your hotel and you’ll be off to a good start.

Leverage renewable energy

hotel energy supply | hotel software uk

There are lots of sustainable alternatives to electricity generated by burning fossil fuels. And with solar and wind power becoming more affordable, adoption doesn’t need to be a drain on your finances.

Even if you just supplement your existing energy supply with some renewable alternatives, rather than going all-in immediately, you’re taking a step in the right direction.

Avoid water waste

water waste hotels | hotel software uk

While modern hotels may benefit from baked-in improvements to water management, older premises are often not as well equipped in this department.

Thankfully there are lots of cost-effective adaptations that can save water, including devices which reduce the amount used in each flush of a toilet. Even contemporary shower head designs can create savings, both for the environment and your bank balance.

Overhaul laundry handling

laundry housekeeping hotels | hotel software uk

A lot of a hotel’s resources are tied up in keeping sheets and towels clean. So, if you can improve the housekeeping efficiency of your laundry processes even a small amount, the cumulative benefits will be significant.

Replace old, power-hungry machines with modern equivalents which boast better energy ratings. Or if you outsource your laundry, only work with third-party firms that are committed to combating waste and avoiding environmental issues.

Even implementing a PMS that has built-in housekeeping features will enable that team to be more efficient and environmentally-friendly.

Get creative

Green Spaces for hotels | hotel management software uk

Your eco-efforts don’t need to be kept behind the scenes. Why not create green spaces around your hotel which are not only easy on the eye, but also do more to curb climate change than concrete and tarmac?

You could even start growing vegetables and fruits on-site as part of a gardening project, which will be worth boasting about on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram and will also be a tasty treat for guests to enjoy!

Work with customers

Work with customers hotels | hotel booking systems

You might worry that actively promoting your green policies will put off guests who want to relax without having to obey more rules. But in this environmentally aware age, the opposite is true.

Ask visitors if they’re willing to stick with the same sheets and towels for more than one night (it’s standard practice in many major chains today). Even think about giving them tips on how to travel locally while leaving their car at the hotel to reduce emissions.

With a positive attitude and a few good ideas like those above, you can make your hotel a fine example of environmental friendliness.

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Welcome Anywhere has over 30 years of experience in helping independent hoteliers deliver guests an unforgettable experience with its simple property management system that controls your daily activities. The best part -  it’s all cloud hosted! We develop scalable solutions for your property such as PMS, a Booking Engine and Channel Manager. Our team has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and we serve you to better serve your guests.

Call us today at + 44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@welcomeanywhere.com. We will be happy to walk you through Welcome Anywhere’s all-in-one solution for your property management needs.

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hotel destination marketing | hotel upselling

A question for you: is your hotel the main reason for guests to be visiting your area?  Perhaps you have a spa and run relaxation weekends.  Maybe you host major events.  It would be nice to think that your venue is the epicentre of your guests’ weekend, but for many, it’s probably more a matter of convenience.

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