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Last year, the data hack at Marriott’s Starwood division shocked the hotel industry. Affecting over 500 million customers, the cyberattack resulted in email addresses, passport information and, most worryingly, encrypted credit card data being compromised.

Fast-forward to 2019, and British Airways is fined a whopping £183 million for a data breach after falling foul of the GDPR's strict guidelines.

When news stories like this emerge, it’s a reminder that any hotel is at risk of fraud. A security breach can be very damaging - especially in the digital age where hoteliers are requesting more sensitive information from their customers.

Whilst hotel fraud is thankfully pretty rare (thanks in part to software security updates becoming a necessary part of everyday life), regularly assessing the associated risks within your own business should still be a top priority.

The scale of the task for Marriott’s IT security team is not to be underestimated, but this very unfortunate incident is a timely reminder that guest information security must be treated seriously by hotels of all sizes.

Let’s consider some of the modern forms of fraud that can take place in hotels.

1. Loyalty schemes

Loyalty schemes are a great way to ensure customers continually choose a stay at your hotel to keep racking up their points. By rewarding frequent guests with discounted nights or free use of your hotel amenities, you’ll keep them coming back.

However, loyalty schemes also feature an attractive database of information for cybercriminals, due to the belief on their behalf that customer loyalty scheme information is easier to obtain than encrypted credit card data.

By retaining names, email addresses and other sensitive information, your customers can become more susceptible to identity fraud. With the right cybercrime knowledge, their hard-earned points can be compromised or transferred to fraudsters to sneakily reap the benefits of your scheme.

2. Digital check-in

Offering a smartphone app to check-in and out of hotels is a great way to increase guest satisfaction. It reduces reception desk queues and makes for a highly convenient stay, thus benefiting both your staff and guests.

However, you should always be aware of the increased risks this type of technology can have on the data you collect.

The depersonalisation of hotel check-ins can, unfortunately, result in guests being more susceptible to identity fraud. While fraudsters might not be able to bag themselves a free overnight stay, there’s still the possibility of skilled hackers bypassing the check-in procedure to make use of guest-only amenities.

3. EMV fraud liability

Card pre-authorisation via EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) terminals is by far the most secure way to take payments from hotel customers, be it at the front desk or via online booking.

EMV-equipped terminals accept fraud liability, which means your hotel and its guests are covered if any fraudulent activity takes place.

If your hotel doesn’t use EMV or a member of staff inadvertently uses a non-EMV-equipped POS terminal at check out, the liability remains with your hotel, which is bad for business and reputation. You should therefore always invest in up-to-date payment technology for your hotel - not just for efficiency, but for the extra security it offers you and your customers.

Wrapping up

Even with adequate security measures in place, it’s important to consider the ways emerging hotel technology can be targeted by cybercriminals for fraudulent activity. Marriott’s recent troubles demonstrate that it really can happen to any business, no matter how deep their pockets for cybersecurity.

Investing in the latest tech to create better guest experiences is still an important strategy for modern, savvy hoteliers, but cybersecurity is, unfortunately, a topic that isn't going anywhere.

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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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tips to boost revenue at your hotel

Running a small hotel isn’t easy - particularly when you seem to be doing most of the work yourself. This leaves most hotel owners with a constant list of growing concerns - chief of which is how to ensure beds are occupied at an average room rate that makes the business sustainable. Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do without spending a fortune on consultants and expensive marketing campaigns to get more guests through your doors. Today, we’d like to share four of our favourite ways to boost revenue at your hotel:

1. Packages

Modern guests want more than just a room. And that’s great news, because it means you can package up your offering and raise the value of every booking that lands on your reservation chart.

It might be that you have a spa on site, or can strike up a deal with a local attraction. Perhaps you can put on a special themed night in the restaurant.

Get creative - think how you can turn what would normally be a simple hotel stay into an experience.

2. Seasonal promos

seasonal promotions boost occupancy at your hotel, which in turn, boosts your hotel's revenue

At the time of writing, we’re in the warmest days of the year, but with vacation season helping business pick up, it’s a brilliant reminder that seasonal promotions should go down a storm in hotels to ensure you're booming all year long.

Seasonal promotions are a great way to boost occupancy when you may otherwise be quiet. You can tailor them to the weather or to run alongside any local events that are taking place.

At the start of each year, take a look ahead and suss out where your seasonal promotions could land. The more homework you do on this, the more chance you’ll have of ensuring a healthy flow of guests all year round.

3. Loyalty deals

How do you get guests to come back? You reward them!

Loyalty programs work very well in retail, but they’re just as useful in hospitality. Thankfully, you don’t need to get complicated with points schemes, either - just keep it simple.

Get your 3rd stay free, or grab a free lunch if you revisit, are two examples of very simple loyalty programs that should tempt people to return to your hotel. If you want to get more fancy with membership options in the future, you can!

4. Promotional Events

Remember - you don’t just have to attract travelling guests to your hotel, and by running a promotional event, you might be able to bring in some local business.

It doesn’t matter if you have a small hotel, either - you can still run events that will attract a decent-sized crowd. A cookery competition or wine tasting session, for example, will work wonders.

If you can, involve your suppliers, too. If you’re able to drum up enough interest and confirmed bookings, you should find that they’ll be happy to provide complementary products or services (they’ll benefit from the event too, after all).

Wrapping up

See? Raising revenue at your hotel doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. In fact, implementing the right procedures and having an all-in-one hotel PMS can further simplify the process. The four ideas above undoubtedly require effort, but it’s effort that will have a measurable, successful outcome if you put your all into it.

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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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Regardless of how you might feel about the significant interest placed on millennials by seemingly every media outlet, the biggest generation in existence is definitely in the driving seat when it comes to the economy.This year they’ll outnumber baby boomers, so it’s important for businesses across all industries to cater to their needs in order to attract millennial customers.

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Some hotels try hard to be unique so that guests are more likely to come knocking, but the biggest influence on booking numbers will often be location, location, location. This doesn’t mean that all your other marketing efforts are in vain; it just makes it important to emphasise that your hotel is the gateway to an amazing destination.

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As we march into a new season, it's time for us to spring into action.

I'm sorry - I couldn't resist...

Calendar puns aside, now the mercury's rising and the sun's out for longer, it's clear that spring's just over the horizon.  As the packed agenda of festivities begin to creep closer to us, it's time to give your hotel marketing strategy a bit of a spring clean.

Here are 5 tips to increase your hotel's bookings this Spring.

Rejuvenation and Rebirth

It might seem like a bit of a cliché, but Spring's all about rebirth and starting anew.  Maybe it's time you freshened up your website and email marketing templates.  I'm not suggesting you turn them all green and add daffodils just because it's Spring.  However, a new look might just renew the interest in your subscribers and social followers and encourage more people to book directly.

You could even use your rejuvenated image to tease some guest-generated content.  A simple: "What do you think of our new look?" campaign might stir your market into action.  It can generate traffic to your new website, and have them tweeting in response.

Remember your Mother, Patrick and the Bunny

With Spring comes a lot of exciting marketing opportunities.  Mother's Day and St Patrick's Day both happen in March.  You could use Mother's Day as an excuse to get people sat in your restaurant.  St Patrick's Day promotions involving Guinness and Jameson's whiskey might bring a few more people to the bar.  How about an Easter Egg hunt in April?

Not only are these good times to hold promotions, but they are also events searched for by your target market.  Make good use of your email marketing, website and social media to draw attention to your hotel over these important dates.

What's Going on in Town?

You're probably sick of me droning on about destination marketing.  It's sort of becoming my 'thing'.  So I'd better not let you down.

What's going on in town?  Is there a Spring festival happening?  Will there be flower shows, local parks and farms having fun days?  How's Spring enriching the area around you?  Working with the organisers of local events will increase your reach, and make you a central part of everything that is going on.

Perhaps you could offer a special discount for any frequenters of the local festivals and concerts that'll inevitably be springing (he he) up around your area.

Start Looking to Summer

On average, travellers book 34 days ahead of their stay.  A quick sum reveals you'll therefore be a month into Spring when people will be considering their Summer bookings.  It won't hurt to get a little bit ahead of the game.

This will really come in handy when you're getting closer to Summer, because finding time to do any marketing is more difficult once the kids are off school anyway.  Look at the many ways you can draw people into your hotel throughout the Summer and be ahead of the competition.

Keep an Eye on the Competition

As much as I would like to imagine that I'm a one-of-a-kind true original hotel guru, the chances are that other people have already looked at their calendar.  There will be some that began their marketing back in January, but that doesn't mean you have lost.  In many cases, it gives you some time to react.

Make good use of your PMS and OTAs to see what the competition is doing, and then devise a killer room rate to match.  As more and more people start to flock to your area, make sure your competitors don't price you out of the market.  Perhaps consider a fresh new offer if you find your nearest rival has a room rate that's difficult to match.

Wrapping Up

Spring to me is a dress rehearsal for Summer.  It's the time the party people start to slowly come out of hibernation and throw on a couple of village fetes.  It still presents many opportunities to march a few customers over your threshold.

What marketing techniques are you considering this Spring?

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The future of guest experience

You can be forgiven for acquainting the idea of "change" with the word "radical".  Often change is punctuated by a glitter cannon.  In software terms, innovation is celebrated, advertised, and delivered with a great big neon arrow.  Yet, when we think of innovation, we rarely think "hotels".

But that doesn't mean that hotels aren't evolving.  In fact, the guest experience is constantly being transformed.  Here are 3 things that subtly change the hotel experience.

The eco-friendly guest experience

You can say a lot about millennials.  You can (if you’re that way inclined) ridicule their dress, their music, and their outlook on life.  But there are two things that are important to remember:  they’re the future customer of every industry, and they tend to care a lot more about certain aspects of modern life – particularly when it comes to the environment.

Travelers are acutely aware of their carbon footprint.  Moreover, they're consuming products that openly offer the same values.  That includes the hotels they book.

Hotels that responsibly source recyclable goods, or make an obvious effort to conserve energy in rooms are making an impact.  Expect more air-conditioning units that turn off when you're absent from the room.  Don't be surprised by paperless hotels and downloadable restaurant menus.

The good news? An eco-friendly guest experience is desirable.  It's also cost effective.

The fully connected experience

It starts with those Wi-Fi-media-infused coffee machines.  You know the ones - they tell you the latest on Trump's wall whilst you’re waiting for your latte.  It's a small addition but its' an important one.  The guest experience is only augmented by more connectivity.

Some hotels are already using smart televisions to deliver special offers to their guests (whether they’re in their room or busting reps in the gym).  Now the hotels are wrapping their loving arms around the technological revolution, it will move in leaps and bounds from here.

I’m not suggesting toasters that play Radio 1.  But it stands to reason that we may see tablets installed on tables wherein you can place orders, or play Angry Birds.  Technology, in all industries, is becoming more prevalent.  Subtly, the hospitality industry is putting more and more of the guest experience online.

The "more personalisation, please" experience

It's becoming a buzzword isn't it?  Personalisation.  Somehow, the world is automating everything to the point that we only see a human when they’re running back from the bathroom.  Yet, we crave a more personalised experience.

PMS platforms are working hard to make sure that they’re offering a service that indulges the nuanced idiosyncrasies of their guests.  In the office, behind the singular receptionist, the PMS is humming and clicking.  Using the data that their system harvests, hotels are now working towards creating as many guest experiences as there are bookings.

Smart televisions provide rooms with engaging and targeted content aimed directly at the individual guest.  Expect more of this.  Expect recommendations rooted in the online experience and brought to life in your hotel experience.

Wrapping up

You’ll notice that there’s nothing radical above.  Hotels are already moving into the future. And there are no flying cars or AI driven androids.  That is the art of the guest experience; a hotel’s motivation and direction summed up in one word…

Seamless.

Nothing glamourous.  No glitter cannons.  These changes are drawing hotels into providing an experience that can't easily be separated into distinct clunky steps.  Just one fluid experience that relaxes the guest.

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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 Pyschological Pricing

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, £99 looks a lot cheaper.

In fact, it looks almost £10 cheaper!

Keep an eye on the competition

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 low rate strategies.

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

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

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 drag people through the door.

Look at your pricing 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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