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Hotelier news, tips and advice from industry experts.

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Travellers today are more connected, informed and tech savvy than ever before. This has opened a multitude of new ways for hotels to gather data and use it to enhance the guest experience. However, there are challenges when it comes to gaining a 360-degree view of that data. Hotels need technology solutions that can integrate together to help build a more detailed view of the guest and use it to deliver more personalized services and marketing.

One of the most important integrations in the hotel technology suite is a tight relationship between the PMS (Property Management System) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management). By connecting data in these two systems, hotels can create memorable guest experiences at every digital touchpoint. By integrating these two systems, and other hotel technology platforms, hotels are able to have a single view of each guest and take advantage of the tools available to collect data and engage with guests while at the same time work from a shared database.

With a single view of the customer, hotel staff can ensure that engagement is meaningful and relevant at every touchpoint during the guest journey. These integrations allow a single profile to include the guest’s photo, stay history, total spend, interests, preferred room types, links to social profiles, loyalty program status and feedback from previous stays.

In addition to the single, consolidated view of every guest, hotels are also well positioned using CRM, to be transparent and upfront about how they use and store guests’ data. By centralizing their data, hotels know exactly where the data is stored, who has access to it, and who controls it.

Some hoteliers have misconceptions of CRM, that it provides an email marketing platform and not much else. CRM has capabilities far outreaching that of email marketing, by providing a consolidated view of every guest, it allows hoteliers to act on their data through segmentation, personalization and accurate, real-time reporting.

A great example of this is how a central profile within a CRM can play a pivotal role in improving the guest experience across the whole travel journey. Hoteliers can automate, segment and tailor how they communicate based on data points such as:

  • Spend per stay
  • Frequency of visits
  • Preferred locations and booking patterns
  • Interests
  • Behavior
  • Satisfaction
  • Reasons for travel

This wealth of data and activity means they are now communicating via the right channel, at the right time, with the right message. All in all, a simple integration between CRM and PMS can dramatically improve how hoteliers interact with their guests and allow them to focus on what they do best – focusing on the guest.

Here are a few examples of how using segmentation and personalization can improve every day activities at a hotel:

  • Tailor transactional/confirmation emails based on reservation and preference data
  • Up-sell room upgrades, and amenities based on reservation type, room type and preferences
  • Provide a tailored check-in experience based on arrival times
  • Display and provide personalized welcome gifts in the room for arrival
  • Send reminder emails to guests to book again based on stay dates and preferences

To find out more about how a PMS and CRM integration could help you, contact us today. You can also find out more about how a PMS and CRM integration works by downloading this guide.

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In our latest guest blog, AllTheRooms content writer, Rebecca Pittore, considers the differences between hotels and Airbnb properties. Taken from the guest's perspective, this is a unique insight into how the modern hotel customer might view these considerably different options for accommodation. What's likely to draw them to the hospitality industry disruptor? A must read for hoteliers.

Planning a trip? Finding the right place to stay is tricky, with so much to take into account. Do you want a big open space or just a simple room? Do you want everything at your fingertips or do you want to be far away, immersed in the sounds of nature?

Deciding between Airbnb and hotels can be tough, but it all depends on what you’re looking for in your accommodation. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the four main differences between a private Airbnb rental and a hotel.

Airbnb Package

How many hotels have you walked into that look exactly the same, with the exception of the rack of maps of the city and maybe some pictures on the walls of local hotspots? Hotels (especially large hotel chains) have specific designs that make them feel less like a home and very much like, well, a hotel.

An Airbnb rental, on the other hand, is usually a private residence, and lets your vacation truly be a “home away from home.” The apartment, house, boat, or whatever it is you stay in will surely have a much cozier vibe, with local elements, as designed by the owner, a local resident.

Staying in a hotel gives you arguably less freedom than an Airbnb might give you. Your hotel room is your space, but even then, hotels often have stricter codes of conduct to follow.

In a private Airbnb rental, the entire space is yours for you and your friends. Not to say the hosts of an Airbnb don’t have their own rules, but often in a private rental, you have more space to enjoy. If you’re traveling with a group of friends, this may be much more appealing than being split up in different rooms across the hotel.

There’s also the location. If you want to be in the middle of all the action, you’re sure to find all the hotels you want in any city’s downtown area. However, if you want something a little more secluded or residential, you’re more likely to find an Airbnb rental than a hotel.

Airbnb rentals can cover more parts of the place you’re visiting, with spaces from the city center to far outside the city’s noise.

Amenities and Services

Hotels always come with a certain set of amenities. Need to know the best places nearby? Need an extra of anything in the middle of the night? From cleaning staff to a 24-hour concierge, if you need anything, a hotel can help you out.

In an Airbnb, you are often only provided with basic toiletries, cooking appliances, and bedding. If the host lives on or near the property, they may be able to help out with anything you may need during your stay, however, this is not always the case. Plus, hotels provide room service and all the amenities you need to treat yourself.

Do you like to cook? Airbnbs that come with a full kitchen give you the opportunity to cook your own meals, while also saving money by not spending on meals out. If you choose the hotel route, this becomes a bummer for both those who want to save money and those whose passion is cooking. On the other hand, you will be given ample opportunities to try all the best local flavors.

Price

The difference here is harder. The price for hotels varies, as does the price for an Airbnb.  Hotels tend to be more expensive, but you’re typically paying for more services and treatments. If these don’t matter to you, an Airbnb rental leaves you more room in your budget for more exploring.

Typically, Airbnbs tend to be up to 50% cheaper than a hotel room, plus you can save by not eating out all the time. This is not always the case, however, as there are Airbnb rentals that go for more per night than some hotels.

Safety

In terms of safety, you will find both hotels and Airbnb properties in both safe and not-so-safe areas. Hotels in general, however, provide more security and a better sense of safety than an Airbnb. When you stay in an Airbnb, you are effectively staying in the house of a stranger. On the other hand, you know you can trust the constant reliability of a hotel.

If you are a solo female traveler especially, the comfort of a hotel staff and security system may be reassuring. You should also take into account travel times. If you are arriving or leaving at odd hours - in the middle of the night, for instance - a hotel is a much safer and more convenient option, whereas, in an Airbnb, you may need to wait for your host in order to check in or out.

Are you a hotelier, guest or Airbnb property owner? What do you think to the points Rebecca makes in this post? Tell us in the comments section!

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Our latest guest post comes courtesy of Booking Suite's Idan Velleman, who digs deep into the many benefits technology can offer the modern hotelier when it comes to setting and managing competitive room rates.

For any property owner, managing prices is a time-consuming business. You need a lot of data to help you do it, but at the end of the day, the final decision on pricing is up to you. There’s an art and a science to setting rates, and chances are, you rely on a little of each.

To start, there are so many factors to consider. You have to take into account your competitors’ rates, your historic and near-term occupancy, your reservation history, local events, and your unique business strategy. Where does all that data come from? For many properties, it arrives on paper or via a downloaded Excel spreadsheet. You take all of the contributing factors mentioned above, stack them up against each other, and plan your rates. There’s the science.

For most properties, however, managing rates isn’t all science. After considering the data, you also weigh-in with your personal experience and history. After all, you know your property better than anyone. The data informs decisions, but it doesn’t make decisions for you.

And that’s how it should be. You need to retain control. Given this, the idea of using technology to aid your revenue management strategy might be unsettling. It might also seem like the safer bet to continue to manually implement your revenue strategy all by yourself.

However, we at Booking.com are firm believers in the potential of technology to help properties better run their businesses. In this article, we’ll take a look at how technology can help you improve and run your revenue management strategy. Most importantly, we’ll also examine how technology gives you more control and flexibility when it comes to setting the right prices for your property.

The case for technology

Revenue management systems save you time. If you don’t have software to help, setting rates can take up a good portion of your day. You might be a small business owner doing it on your own, or lucky enough to have a member of staff dedicated to rate management; however you do it, the effort is worth it, because setting the correct price is vital to your business.

Just imagine, though, if you had the ability to automate the tedious elements of the data collection process that are part and parcel of setting rates. Revenue management systems do just that, by collecting and analysing diverse data sets relevant to your property’s rates. The majority of properties do not have the time or knowledge to consider vast amounts of data as a whole, but a revenue management system can use such information to recommend optimal rates, which the hotelier can then push out through their channel manager with ease.

How it works

But how exactly do revenue management systems work? Which factors does this technology take into account when making rate recommendations? Most revenue management systems (including the BookingSuite RateManager) operate using advanced algorithms to analyse factors such as your unique PMS data, occupancy rates, market demand, competitors’ rates, events, and more, to give you relevant rate recommendations.

Revenue management technology streamlines work which usually takes hours into a matter of minutes. Ultimately, these rates are optimised for your unique property and market, and may help improve your bottom line.

Stay in control

Above all, revenue management software still gives you control when you need it most.

Let’s consider an everyday example not related to revenue management. Nowadays, many people rely on their smartphone’s map for directions while walking around a city or driving to a new destination. Complicated software works behind the scenes of your phone’s map to give you suggestions about which route to take. But other factors may come up on your journey. Let’s say the GPS tells you to go a certain way, but you happen to know that making a left turn at that intersection is difficult at rush hour. You therefore adjust your route, so that you can turn left when you have a traffic light to help.

Sometimes, it makes sense to follow your GPS' instructions at every single turn. Other times, however, you need to adjust your decisions based on your own knowledge and expertise. In such moments, we're able to pause the directions, change them, stop and review the map. We can take time to consider the best route.

Using technology to optimise your rates is similar to the example above. You still have the final say over your prices, because you know your property, your guests, your competitors, and your strategy best. That art will never leave your side, but it's a science that you can automate, and that will make your job easier and your hotel more profitable.

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