How to remain social while working from home | hotel software uk

Anyone who has worked from home regularly will know that it’s rarely - if ever - a mini holiday.

Staying focused and productive is tough, particularly if you’re a hospitality worker. It requires a determined mindset, the ability to avoid distractions and consistent goal setting.

But there’s another element of working from home which is particularly tough: isolation.

When you’re working from your spare bedroom, kitchen or converted garage, it’s easy to cut yourself off from the rest of your team. In doing so, you may begin to feel lonely and anxiety levels can increase.

Thankfully, we live in a world where working remotely doesn’t have to be lonely. Here are our favourite tips for remaining social while working from home.

Lean on technology

working from home in the hotel industry | hotel management software uk

There are some wonderful apps and online platforms that enable remote workers to stay in touch with one another.

Skype, Slack and Zoom are just three options, but one shouldn’t forget the likes of WhatsApp when it comes to keeping in touch with your colleagues.

Use this tech as much as you can (most of it is free). The more you do so, the more addictive and productive it becomes.

Set up more micro meetings

remail social working from home as a hotelier| hotel booking systems

Chances are, if you work in a hotel, you probably have lots of micro meetings or just a few big meetings each month.

If it’s the latter, try switching to micro meetings when you work from home. These swift regular get-togethers will ensure you all keep in touch, no matter where you happen to be. They’ll also probably be far more productive than the longer meeting you’re used to!

Have some fun

have some fun working from home | hotel upselling

If something drops into your inbox or a WhatsApp group chat while working from home and it makes you smile, share it with your colleagues (within reason, of course!).

Think about it - you have fun while working a ’normal’ day at the hotel, and much of that will revolve around off-the-cuff chats in the kitchen or sharing jokes as you go about your working lives.

Keeping this up while working remotely is vital for productivity levels, mental health and team spirit, so don’t stop having fun just because you can’t share the same airspace with people.

Try remote networking

working from home as a hotelier | hotel booking systems

Networking plays an important role in hospitality. It gives hoteliers, GMs and other departmental heads the chance to get out there, meet potential new suppliers and learn more about industry trends and challenges.

You can still do that while working at home. There are some fantastic groups on LinkedIn to explore and, if there’s a reason most people are working at home, many networking groups will switch to digital meet-ups during that period.

Sniff out the most relevant digital networking events in your area while working from home and make sure you attend them; it’s a whole new way of getting to know people and increasing your industry knowledge.

Wrapping up

We hope our working from home tips will help you become as productive as possible while still maintaining that all-important contact with your colleagues and work partners.

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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 identify big overheads as a hotelier | hotel software uk

Running a hotel is challenging at the best of times, but when something happens that forces you to close the business temporarily, it’s natural to engage panic mode.

A brief panic isn’t a bad thing, providing you keep it under control and lend a sense of perspective once you’ve got it out of your system.

Unless things are particularly dire and you have no contingency pot or support from the government, things will get better. You just need to see your business through this period so that it will come out fighting fit when you can finally reopen your doors.

Inevitably, your overheads will come into question during times like these. That's why we’ve got some great tips on identifying those you can either remove entirely or considerably reduce.

Technology

why hotels should opt for cloud services | hotel upselling

Hands up if you’re still using a property management system that’s installed at your hotel.

Now might be the time to review that particular piece of technology, because the hotel PMS is a classic example of a tool that should be based in the cloud.

By opting for cloud services, you’ll considerably cut the cost of annual maintenance contracts. And you can apply this to most of the technology in your hotel, from file storage to your POS.

Opt for LED lighting

hotelier tips for sustainability | hotel booking systems

Some of the smaller things you do will have a big impact on overheads when combined.

For instance, LED lighting is one of the most eco-friendly and energy-efficient ways to light a hotel. The bulbs will possibly cost a little more up-front, but, according to Energy.gov, they’ll use at least 75% less energy than standard bulbs.

Oh, and they’ll last 25 times longer, too.

Ask guests to do their bit - particularly when it comes to towels

How to identify big overheads as a hotelier | management systems for hotels london

Anyone who runs a hotel will know how colossal the cleaning bill can be - particularly when it comes to towels.

Guests are notoriously bad at re-using towels. Far too often, they’ll leave them strewn on the floor after their first night when they’re perfectly good for another use.

This is why so many hotels are placing an increasing number of reminders for guests to re-use towels as often as they can. You can quote environmental stats, or simply give an honest reminder that you have big bills and would rather invest the hotel’s profits in creating a brilliant guest experience.

There’s also nothing wrong with politely asking guests to ensure all electrical devices such as the TV are turned off when they leave the room. That's particularly true if you don’t have a building management system to do it for them.

Remember - it’s the small things that can make a big difference.

Try out a labour management system

hotel labour management system | hotel management software uk

Once solely the domain of large hotel chains with big budgets, labour management systems are slowly becoming more commonplace within independent operations.

This is because staff schedules should reflect the day-to-day variations in your business. Hotels rarely operate to standard working hours; things go wrong, guests spring surprise requests and some events take longer than you’d expect to host.

A modern labour management system will help you create staff rotas that work for the team. It'll also help produce the best guest experience while allowing you to reduce labour costs - undoubtedly one of the biggest you have.

Wrapping up

This blog post was written at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. However, the strategies above will be useful for hoteliers at any time.

Rising overheads can sink hotel businesses if they’re not monitored and addressed in time. We hope our advice today plots a course for a profitable future for your hotel business.

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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 keep hold of your best hotel staff | hotel software uk

There’s still a lot of uncertainty in the UK economy. Brexit may finally have taken place, but the far reaching effects of it on the hospitality sector remains to be seen.

In the meantime, every independent hotelier is best advised to continue providing an amazing guest experience by retaining the best possible team.

If you’re concerned about losing your best employees or struggling with a particularly high staff turnover rate, we’ve got some tips for ensuring you build a rock solid team, and keep it that way.

Hire the right people from the outset

tip for hiring hospitality staff | hotel upselling

You won’t get far with your hotel team if you hire poorly.

Unfortunately, it’s an easy mistake to make; hiring is damn hard.

However, the more time you invest in recruitment, the more likely you are to hire the best people from the outset.

Before you choose a candidate, think about the values you have at the hotel. Consider the culture and goals you’ve set - make sure anyone who steps into the interview room is capable of adding value.

Remind yourself that you won’t be able to retain everyone

how to handle exit interviews at your property

Staff leave for a variety of reasons - that’s a fact of life and something you won’t be able to change.

For instance, changing circumstances at home, decisions to move abroad and illness are common examples of why team members might have to leave.

When you accept that you’ll inevitably lose some staff at some stage, it’ll become less of a shock when it happens. Just make sure you hold a decent exit interview before they go to find out where you can improve and what they enjoyed about working at the hotel.

Show your team how much they're valued

show appreciation to your staff | hotel management systems

Showing appreciation for your team doesn’t always have to result in some form of monetary recompense. You can say “thank you” for their hard work in lots of different ways.

Sometimes, a hearty pat on the back for a job well done is enough, but if you feel like taking the entire team out for a night of bowling, go for it.

The more valued people feel, the more likely they are to hang around - it’s one of the simplest facts of management.

Challenge each and every team member

have discussions with your hotel staff | hotel management software uk

Believe it or not, your team members want to feel challenged; no one wants to go to work each day and clock watch.

This is why it’s so important to have regular one-to-one chats with the team. Ask how they’re getting on, what they’re struggling with and where they feel under-utilised.

Make changes to their rota, level of responsibility or tasks to ensure they feel challenged and pushed to their maximum potential.

Create an awesome hotel team culture

create an awesome culture

Who would want to leave a hotel where the team culture is so amazing?

Most of us have experienced that desire to get to work and get stuff done, and that usually stems from a love of the job itself and the team you work with.

The culture you create in your hotel will define the longevity of your staff base. Make sure it’s one you want to get out of bed for each morning.

Wrapping up

The key learning today is that you will lose staff occasionally. The hospitality industry is one of high staff turnover - that’s just how it is.

However, follow our tips above and you’ll stand a far better chance of retaining your best people for much, much longer.

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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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These hotel trends are set to shape 2020 | hotel management software uk

Trivago has recently listed what it believes to be the most important UK hotel trends headed our way in 2020.

With the end of the year fast approaching, we thought we’d do the hard work for you and delve into these trends and highlight what we think are the most prevalent for independent hoteliers on these shores.

There’s an awful lot of uncertainty surrounding the economic future of the country at the time of writing, but these trends represent opportunities for you, as an independent operator, to put your best foot forward and make a success of the next twelve months.

1. The influence of digital on the guest experience

2020 UK Hotel Trends | hotel upselling

Few people will be surprised to hear that digital is going to power most of the hospitality industry as we head into 2020 and beyond.

However, Trivago picks out a few specifics - some of which caught our eye.

  • Internet of Things (IoT).This relates to the smart devices which are gradually making their way from the home into the hotel. Think Alexa, smart lighting and security features. It’s unusual for the home to be ahead of the hospitality industry, but expect to see far more of this tech enter independent hotels in 2020.
  • Virtual reality (VR).Abandoned in the 80s and 90s, VR has had a huge resurgence of late, along with its new cousin, augmented reality (AR). From next year onwards, we should expect to see these technologies make their presence felt more wholesomely in hotels. They’ll offer pre-stay walkarounds and the ability to immerse yourself in a number of new guest experiences after checking in.
  • Facial recognition. Many of us are used our phones unlocking at the mere sight of our faces, but this form of biometric security is expected to become more prevalent in hotels next year. Is it time you upgraded your door locking system?

2. Online character-building

The Top UK Hotel Trends Headed Your Way In 2020 | hotel booking systems

A hotel’s online presence has never been more important, thanks to the influence of social media and the power of the guest in the digital world.

To get in front of as many potential guests as possible during 2020, hoteliers are being urged to define their property’s online character and put as much effort into distinguishing themselves online as possible.

This goes far beyond a few social media posts each week, too. Hotels need to create memorable, branded content that tells the story of their property.

The best news? It costs nothing but your time and some inspiration - and as an independent hotelier, you’ll certainly have plenty of the latter!

3. Embracing sustainability

hotels should start embracing sustainability | hotel software uk

Fed up of reading the word ‘sustainability’? It’s here to stay, and if you’re a hotelier, you need to get on board. Sharpish.

Sustainability is, at its heart, about undertaking environmentally-friendly practices as a business, but it can also be a key differentiator.

Hotel guests are becoming savvier and increasingly look for hotel experiences that keep the health of the Earth in mind. If you can be overtly environmentally conscious, you’ll be the hotelier who picks up more guests next year than those with the lackadaisical laundry policy (people will find out - trust us).

Wrapping up

Which of the above trends are you looking forward to the most next year?

Get involved in the comments section below - particularly if you feel we’ve missed a trend that is going to take the industry by storm.

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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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There's nothing quite like a group booking in the hotel trade. A single enquiry that results in several room sales is great for revenue, a boon for occupancy and nothing more than good, solid business which also levers food sales.

Unfortunately, hotel booking systems have often made something of a ham-fisted attempt at implementing functionality for the management and processing of group bookings. That's why we've always focused on refining this element of Welcome Anywhere to ensure it's as approachable and deeply functional as it should be.

We also understand that group reservations are just as important to the booker as they are to the hotel. Often, they'll be linked to a key occasion such as a wedding, anniversary, christening or important business event. As a result, such customers can become rather cumbersome to deal with. They'll call the hotel every day, with numerous requests from Uncle Albert to have his room moved or Sarah from accounts who needs a garden view of an evening to aid contemplation of the latest end of year figures.

While it's undoubtedly lovely for hotels to be given the opportunity of regularly speaking to guests, dealing with group bookings can become a burden, with reception staff rapidly growing tired of the endless requests and changes issued.

We'd like to put a stop to this, and we think we've done so with the latest feature addition for Welcome Anywhere.

Enter the guest group booking portal

So, how do you lift the burden from the reception team when it comes to group bookings? You put (some of) the power in the hands of the guest!

With that in mind, we put our development team to work on creating a guest-facing group booking portal, and the results are rather profound.

The new feature enables hotels to provide group bookers with a web address from which the customer can swap people around, change the numbers of guests and add special requests to their heart's content, without ever having to speak to the hotel:

Every change they make is automatically communicated back to Welcome Anywhere, without the hotel staff having to lift a finger:

The time saved on behalf of the hotel is vast, and by giving the group booker just enough control to make the many, common changes on the lead up to the booking (but not enough to do any harm to the hotel's occupancy) everyone benefits.

The guest group booking portal is available today. To find out more about this feature or indeed anything to do with the Welcome Anywhere hotel booking system, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Main image credit

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ncedo1zg_400x400Earlier this month, we launched a brand new online booking system for hotels. Designed with a mobile-first mindset and drawing on thirteen years of experience, the new platform represents a seismic leap forward for Welcome Anywhere.

Forever a hospitality original, we were one of the first in the industry to develop an online hotel reservation system. Launched in 2003, it grew to become one of the most popular in the sector, thanks to its ability to slot seamlessly into any hotel website and provide a satisfyingly easy to use booking process.

Things are changing, though. Consumers are evolving. Technology will never, ever slow down. And, by 2020, experts predict 70% of the world’s population will be using a smartphone.

That’s 6.1 billion smartphones in use across the globe; a clear indication that when most people need to reach for a computing device, they’ll go straight for the mini computer in their pocket.

The new Welcome Anywhere online booking system isn’t just for now, it’s for the future. Pick up any device, and you’ll be able to book a room via a simple, step-by-step process we’ve refined over the course of thirteen years. Only, now, it’s fresher, more inviting, more addictive and more user friendly than ever before.

That means happy guests and - most importantly - more direct bookings for hotels.

But what goes into creating such a system? Who’s behind the bits and bytes?

We took some time out to speak to a member of the Welcome Systems development team, Jack McGuire, who played a pivotal role in the creation of the new online booking system.

WS: Hi, Jack. Congrats on finishing the first version of the new online booking system! What were your main priorities for the hotelier during the development process?

Jack: “When re-designing the new online booking system, we wanted to achieve a modern, clean look that worked great on mobile and desktop. We wanted to retain the customisation options from the previous system but build on them significantly to give the hotelier as much control as possible.

“We also wanted to build a platform that packed functionality into the booking process for guests whilst ensuring it was still easy for hoteliers to promote their rooms and better highlight what made the property special.”

WS: What did you want to achieve with the new online booking system for the guest?

Jack: “We wanted to create a consistent core experience across every hotel that uses our system, while ensuring that specific areas (content, background images and the like) could be customised for each hotel’s needs and branding.

“Most importantly, we wanted the booking process to remain the same, no matter where it was placed, increasing familiarity across the board.

“We also wanted to ensure it was easy to use, which may sound easy in itself, but including all of the features we wanted to pack into the system required a lot of planning and tweaking to make it usable. Lastly, the system is fully responsive, meaning the guest can access it on any device, be it a mobile phone, tablet or desktop PC.”

WS: What challenges did you meet along the way?

Jack: “The biggest challenge we had was the accommodation page. That particular page could have turned into a behemoth, as it includes all of the hotel’s room types, rates, room images, descriptions and more.

“To avoid it becoming a monster, we spent a lot of time thinking and re-thinking the user experience until we settled on something that was intuitive.”

WS: What single piece of functionality are you most proud of?

Jack: “The theme options and customisation. We could have taken the same approach as the old system by allowing techies to access the CSS code, but that requires the hotel to have a web developer or someone with good knowledge of CSS to make changes to the look and feel of the online booking system. Not ideal.

“We instead included theme options that enable anyone to go in and brand their own online booking system to match the rest of their website.”

WS: Which element(s) of the new system do you expect to shake up the hotel industry?

Jack: “The booking cart allows for very quick and easy group bookings to be made and provides a clear and concise view of the booking being made. Few competing systems we reviewed during the planning stage seemed to get this element right.”

WS: What new technologies and techniques did you have to adopt in order to take the new online booking system from concept to reality?

Jack: “We decided to take a different approach to creating the front end of the app by using a PHP framework. I haven’t done much development with PHP frameworks before and this required new learning and techniques for me to get going, but it was worth it - the app is really snappy as a result!”

WS: How do you see the system developing in the future?

Jack: “I would like to see a centralised system that can connect hotels within a group together (although we do offer this already for any hotel group that wants to build its own, bespoke online booking system).

“I would also like to expand on the accommodation screen, by allowing hoteliers to set a display order for rates and rooms. Lastly, it would be cool to give them the ability to set specific rooms as premium in order to add even more depth and customisation.”

WS: Thanks, Jack (and to the rest of our wonderful development team)!

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TripConnectWe're aware that many of our customers have been informed about Tripadvisor's latest feature, TripConnect. Understandably, they're excited about it. And so are we.

If you're yet to discover TripConnect, it finally offers a way of displaying hotel website rates directly on TripAdvisor listings. All you need is a Business Listing and a compatible online booking system.

We're delighted to confirm that Welcome Anywhere will soon be integrated with TripConnect, enabling you to offer Tripadvisor guests a direct method of booking, alongside the agencies which usually appear on Tripadvisor listings. This means TripConnect could help further reduce your commission bill and increase brand awareness.

TripConnect is a high priority for us and we will be launching our interface in the new year. Please stay tuned - further information will follow in due course.

If you have any queries on the above, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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Gmail logoGmail has received some significant attention from Google developers this year. Most notably, the world's largest webmail client saw the introduction of a new tabbed inbox, which intelligently groups emails into specific folders in an attempt to separate personal messages from social media notifications and promotional emails.

Despite something of an uproar in the email marketing community, the feature appears to have worked rather well and has actually encouraged Gmail users to check their promotional tab in the hope that tempting offers nestle within it.

More recently, Google has added some nifty new features to Gmail and there's one in particular which we think could prove to be very useful for hoteliers.

'Quick Action' buttons are starting to appear to the right of email subject lines in Gmail users' inboxes. They work by scanning the content of the email and providing an action for anything deemed to be interactive. For example, it might be something as simple as adding a specific date to a calendar, or saving a file to Dropbox... or booking a restaurant table.

OpenTable has joined the growing list of developers making use of Quick Action buttons by giving diners the ability to quickly book tables directly from their inbox and without having to open the email from the restaurant. All the restaurant has to do is send an enticing subject line and the Quick Action lets the user do the rest with the minimal fuss. It could prove a very quick conversion technique.

Imagine doing the same for hotel bookings! It's something that has certainly caught our eye and we will be looking at ways in which we can implement the use of Quick Action buttons for the benefit of Welcome Anywhere users and hotel guests.

Got an idea how Quick Actions could be used in email? Get in touch!

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The Welcome Anywhere booking systemWe’ll admit it – we’ve been a little quiet on the Welcome Anywhere beta test front, but there’s a very good reason for that.

As we hinted in a recent blog post, there are some rather significant changes on the way; our development team have been working tirelessly on an overhaul of the user interface for Welcome Anywhere. Learning from beta test feedback and being mindful of our future plans for the system, we have greatly improved the look, feel and general workflow of the system.

We are currently conducting in-house testing, but hope to release the new version to beta testers next week. Here’s some sneak peeks of the new-look screens:

The old login screen:

Old Welcome Anywhere login page

The new login screen:

New Welcome Anywhere login page

The old Home screen:

Old Welcome Anywhere Home screen

The new Home screen (you'll note the subtle, yet visually-pleasing changes to the accordion panel and system as a whole):

New Welcome Anywhere Home screen

The old booking chart:

Old Welcome Anywhere booking chart

The new booking chart:

New Welcome Anywhere booking chart

The old booking enquiry form:

Old Welcome Anywhere booking enquiry

The new booking enquiry form (some of the biggest changes have been made here):

New Welcome Anywhere booking enquiry

The old arrivals list:

Old Welcome Anywhere arrivals list

The new arrivals list:

New Welcome Anywhere arrivals list

So, big changes are afoot, and they run a lot deeper than just the visual elements. The new Welcome Anywhere is now set for a 2014 packed full of exciting development.

If you're a beta tester, stay tuned - more information will follow in due course.

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Since the beta launch of Welcome Anywhere earlier this year, it has received a number of tweaks to the look and feel of the user interface. We are refining it further every week and, as we near the launch of the system, we have once again been busy with the paintbrush.

In this blog post, we want to show a sneak peak of the new design. We're not going to show you much, though - you'll have to wait until next week for that. Here is the 'old' login screen:

Old Welcome Anywhere login page

...and here is the new login screen:

New Welcome Anywhere login page

There's not a huge difference, at first glance. Some clouds in the background, a more rounded login window and refined typeface... Big deal? Actually - yes! The changes run far, far deeper than that. We have significantly refined the entire user interface and we can't wait to show you it.

Stay tuned...

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