Twitter best practices for independent hotels | hotel software uk

It's thought that social networking behemoth, Twitter, has 145 million monetiseable users on its service - daily.

For a service that opened with the rather innocuous tweet 'just setting up my twttr' in 2006, the 280 character-driven social media site is now a driving force both socially and in business. If you run a hotel, it can be an incredibly powerful tool.

Today, we've got three best practices for the social media savvy hotelier who wants to get the most from Twitter.

Don't ignore the bio

Improving hotel standing on Twitter | hotel management software uk

Twitter has made it so easy to set up an account and start posting, that you may forget to perform one of the most important tasks - configuring your bio page. While your Twitter presence will almost solely be digested by people browsing their timelines, whenever someone decides whether or not to follow you, it is likely they will have a look at your bio.

In fact, in most Twitter clients, they have to. If it's blank and uninspiring (or, worse, there's a little egg to indicate you haven't updated your profile picture), they may well not bother.

Add an attractive image of your hotel, your location, website and a small tagline or description of what you're all about. Don't forget to add a header photo, too - you can be a little more creative with here, as Twitter affords you more space.

Forget the numbers

Twitter best practices for independent hotels | hotel booking systems

Social media is all-too-often about numbers. Much like a LinkedIn profile's connections tally isn't indicative of business acumen, neither is your number of followers on Twitter.

There are all sorts of 'back door' methods with which you can gain a large number of followers, but avoid them at all costs. You can't buy love and you certainly can't by a social media following.

Building a genuine list of followers isn't easy and it takes time. You need to cultivate a community in order for it to be effective.

Use Twitter's brilliant built-in search tool to find hospitality leaders and industry partners - follow them and interact with them where possible. Retweet the tweets you like and engage in discussions by using hashtags to offer your thoughts on a particular topic. If you've got positive relations with a neighbouring hotel, follow them, too.

Listen first

Twitter is just as much a listening channel as it is a broadcasting channel. Nowhere is this more important than the hotel industry.

People tweet in real-time and offer immediate thoughts on their current activities. That activity might be a stay in your hotel and they'll probably mention you by name when they say what's on their mind.

They may do this by using your @ Twitter username, in which case you'll be alerted in most Twitter clients, but if they don't, keeping an eye on mentions of your hotel on Twitter is relatively straightforward - you can simply use the powerful search tool or invest in social media reputation software or professional services.

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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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5 tips for attracting more corporate bookings at your hotel | hotel management software uk

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

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

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

1. Keep an eye out for future local business events

Hotel Industry Tips To Attract Business Clients | Hotel Booking Systems

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

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

2. Enable groups to manage the booking themselves

tips for more bookings at your hotel | hotel software london

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

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

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

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

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

5 tips for attracting more corporate bookings at your hotel | hotel management software london

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

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

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

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

4. Automate where you can

hotel industry tips to attract corporate hotels | hotel upselling

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

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

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

5. Don’t skimp on Wi-Fi - ever

Don't skimp on Wi-Fi | hotel booking systems

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

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

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

Wrapping up

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

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

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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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New Year’s resolutions for independent hoteliers | hotel management software uk

So, 2020 is on the way. Another new year. Time to stop, take stock (after the Christmas rush), and start the new year with a bang.

But how do you do that as a busy independent hotelier? With chain hotels continuing to pop up everywhere and brands such as Airbnb redefining guest expectations, what new year’s resolutions should you be making?

The good news? They’re pretty simple and don’t require any immediate action - just a promise to yourself, the hotel and its team that you will make headway on them as 2020 kicks off.

Review your hotel tech

New Year’s resolutions for independent hoteliers | hotel upselling

Hotel technology evolves at a rapid pace. In fact, it’s so fast-paced that you can be forgiven for lagging behind a little as an independent hotelier.

However, there are a few areas in which you might need to invest if you’re to continue providing a range of services and an experience that befits the modern guest.

Pay particular attention to the following:

  • The property management system (PMS): is it web-based, reliable and fully integrated with both your website and the OTAs on which you rely? Does it connect to your other hotel technology such as your POS system?
  • In-room guest services and entertainment: you don’t have to spend big here - the simple addition of USB plug sockets might be enough to satisfy the digital needs of your guests, but if budget allows, perhaps 2020 is the year you finally upgrade the in-room TVs to be fully on-demand and add complimentary iPads to rooms, complete with a bunch of boredom-busting apps for the duration of guest stays. Have a look at last year’s guest feedback on TripAdvisor to spot areas where you might be lacking.
  • The restaurant: can you accept online bookings for your restaurant? If not, you might be missing out on a raft of reservations; people are far more inclined to book tables digitally nowadays.

Schedule some events

2020 hotelier tips | hotel booking systems

Staging events at your hotel is a great way to find new revenue streams.

Advertising yourself as a wedding and conference venue is no longer enough. What about running networking events for local businesses, or cooking competitions hosted by your talented head chef?

Live music, social dining experiences and tie-ins with local events can all be explored next year and might just result in a host of corresponding room bookings and new advocates of your property.

Turn your website into a conversion machine

hotel website tips | hotel software uk

Hotel websites are no longer simply digital brochures - they’re designed to bring in more bookings for the property; lots more bookings.

They can only do this if they’re set up for conversions in the same way an online store is. And if that sounds a bit cold or lacking in the personal touch for your hotel, you might need to leave some of your preconceptions at the door.

When you buy something on Amazon, it’s hassle-free; they’ve mastered the online shopping experience. The same should go for your hotel’s website. If someone wants to book a room, they should be able to check availability and rates and place their reservation as conveniently as possible.

It should be just as simple on whatever device they have to hand and fast no matter how weak their connection.

Try out your online booking experience with the mindset of a guest in a hurry for a decent room at a decent rate. If you get frustrated, it’s time to look for a new platform.

Touch base with your OTA reps

2020 hotel management tips | management systems for hotels london

Yeah, let bygones be bygones and all that - it’s the new year!

The relationship between independent hotels and OTAs has always been rather tetchy, but OTAs aren’t going anywhere and with the latter stages of the calendar year hopefully making you feel more reflective, now is the time to get back in touch with your OTA reps.

If you don’t hear from them regularly, be proactive and seek out their help. For all you know, there could be much better ways to manage your listing and there might even be new tools you can use to optimise your presence on such sites which could result in better placements.

Make 2020 the year you foster a healthy relationship with the OTAs you rely on. Challenge them but accept their help when it’s offered. Combined with a conversion-tastic hotel website (see tip above), this is the best strategy for a stellar online presence that will result in plenty of profitable bookings.

Wrapping up

What’s your hotelier new year’s resolution? What have we missed?

Tell us what you’ll be doing next year to bring in more bookings and draw guests away from the big-name competition by commenting 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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How to improve your hotel offering with mini events | hotel upselling

Encouraging people to book a room at your hotel will involve a number of different strategies.

Some are obvious (someone needs a bed for the night – your hotel is well priced, well located and has great reviews).

Others… less obvious (and require some proactive thinking and planning on your part).

One excellent option is to host regular events. These events will grab the attention of potential guests and give them another reason to choose your hotel over the competition.

These events don’t need to be all-encompassing and over-the-top; you can usually get a leg up with mini events that are interesting enough to turn heads while still being simple and cost effective to organise and run. Not only will events help boost occupancy at your hotel, but they provide a ton of great hotel upselling opportunities.

Here's three brilliant mini event ideas to get you started. Each of these should help boost direct bookings and tempt guests to spend more with you during their stay.

1. Movie screenings

hotel movie screenings offering | hotel booking systems

If your hotel is in a relatively isolated area, guests may be tempted to retire to their rooms early after a busy day of exploring their rural surroundings.

Coaxing them out can be tricky (that iPad won’t play with itself, after all). However, if you’ve got a unique entertainment experience to offer, they might be more willing to head downstairs and give it a try.

Movie screenings can be an excellent activity, so long as you have a suitable space within the hotel to accommodate such an event.

You could showcase old classics, highlight recent releases or even theme the screenings around the season; just be sure to keep your audience in mind when choosing which films to exhibit.

2. Open mic nights

How to improve your hotel offering with mini events | hotel software uk

If your hotel has an appropriately sized bar area, there are many ways to take full advantage of it.

An open mic night is a good choice. It’s not only a great way to get guests interested in spending time in the bar, but also helps boost your engagement with the local community and its artists. Of course, guests could have the option of performing themselves, alongside acts from the surrounding area.

It’s a tactic that works for pubs across the UK and is equally impactful in a hotel setting. You just have to make sure things wrap up promptly and guests aren’t kept awake by the noise.

3. Quiz nights

quiz night hotel | hotel industry tips | hotel management software uk

Another great mini event option for hotels is a quiz night hosted on a weekly basis. The great thing about quizzes is that they’re relatively easy to arrange and run, and appeal to a wide audience.

Again, you’ll need to dedicate the bar or restaurant to the quiz (although a conference room could work, too), with mid-week probably being the best time to host - unless weekends are proving to be quiet in the bar.

You could even tie in the prizes that are on offer with the hotel itself. For instance, why not give the top three teams a discount on their next stay, money off at the bar or some other perk that will keep them coming back for more?

Wrapping up

Whatever route you decide to take with your mini events, it’s definitely worth promoting these added extras so that guests know what to expect when they book.

It could also provide an added boost for the hotel’s social media profile. With these events, guests will likely tweet and check themselves in on Facebook if they have a good time.

You can highlight your upcoming events schedule with a modern online booking platform and PMS that reminds both guests and reception staff of events taking place during a particular stay. In turn, this should help increase occupancy rates, drive up customer spend and enhance your hotel’s reputation.

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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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By going the extra mile as a hotelier, you’ll create experiences that guests share far and wide. It’s a super-simple yet highly effective marketing strategy; you do what you do best and let guests do the talking. Thanks to the power and reach of social media, their effort alone will ensure your hotel lands in the news feeds of countless potential guests without a penny of marketing spend. Managing the hotel guest experience doesn't require a large financial investment.

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

1. Destination tips

destination promotion strategies | hotel management software uk

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

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

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

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

2. Provide customer care on Twitter

hotel customer care Twitter | hotel booking systems

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

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

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

3. Leave handwritten notes

personalise hotel guest experience | hotel upselling

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

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

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

4. Surprise guests with in-room treats

hotel guest experience tips | hotel upselling

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

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

And they won’t forget it!

5. Use a modern PMS

Update your hotel PMS | hotel software uk

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

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

Wrapping up

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

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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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The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to lurch into life on May 25th, and the chances are, you’ll already have spent a lot of time and effort preparing for its arrival.

Despite this, and with such a big change to regulation, it’s always sensible to run through some final checks to make sure that you’re not missing anything obvious before the new rules come into effect.

Here are a few steps you can take to prepare your hotel for the GDPR and to help you avoid the fines that might hit hard if you ignore it.

1. Refresh staff on the GDPR’s requirements

The people who need to be most on top of GDPR-related issues are your staff.

It’s a good idea to gather up your team, go over the implications of the new data regulations and make sure they’re up to speed with the changes.

2. Check with third-party partners

Stricter privacy rules don’t just apply to the way you handle guest data in-house; it’s also important that any third-party platforms used to take bookings and manage your hotel are compliant.

Get in touch with whichever OTAs and PMS providers you use to ensure that they’re all set for the GDPR (if you haven’t heard from them already – no news isn’t good news when it comes to the GDPR).

3. Engage guests to build trust

Once the GDPR is enforced, it’s a good idea to keep your guests abreast of the changes and demonstrate that your hotel is aware of its new obligations.

The easiest way to do this is at check-in, when you can let guests know that their personal details will be protected once they’re in your care.

Because this regulation has been so highly publicised, with most people encountering the effects of it in their own workplaces and email inboxes, a hotel which doesn’t showcase GDPR-savvy policies might raise concerns.

4. Update your website

All of the information about how you manage guest data should be available to review online, but don’t just rely on third party platforms to take care of this responsibility.

Check your hotel website and make sure that it features a revised privacy policy which reflects the rules of the GDPR.

5. Contact customers

Most independent hotels will have a mailing list or loyalty scheme aimed at keeping customers informed of news and offers.

You should get in touch with everyone on your books to let them know of any changes to your policies and practices that have been motivated by the GDPR.

This is also a great opportunity to ask your customers to confirm that they still want to be subscribed to your mailing list, while simultaneously reminding them that your hotel exists and that it’s now fully compliant with the new regulations.

6. Plan for problems

Data breaches are unavoidable, and if one of the third-party platforms you use is hit by cyber crime, your hotel will be required to let its customers know.

It’s a case of planning for the worst-case scenarios before they happen so that you’re prepared, rather than being struck by a data security disaster without having contingencies in place.

Wrapping up

Feeling panicky about the GDPR? It might seem daunting, but by this point you should only need to do a few final checks to stay on the right side of the regulations.

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Welcome Systems is fully backing the Cut Tourism VAT campaign, because we absolutely agree with its request for the Government to reduce VAT on tourist accommodation from 20% to 5%.

Thirty-one European countries already enjoy the benefits of reduced tourism VAT. It results in more business investment and savings passed onto consumers, while UK tourism firms battle with a VAT rate which is almost double that of the European Union average.

This isn’t right; it needs to change. And although we doubt you need convincing, we thought we’d take this opportunity to summarise the campaign:

The main benefits of a reduced VAT rate

Everyone would benefit from a VAT rate reduction in tourism; there are no losers.

Even the government would enjoy greater tax revenue, with experts predicting that in the third year after its implementation, the policy would raise over £363 million for the Exchequer.

There would likely be an increase in exporting, too. Tourism is the UK’s sixth largest export earner, and a rate reduction would increase the number of exports while improving the country’s trade balance by £23 billion over ten years.

Here’s three more compelling benefits the reduced VAT rate would bring:

  • Higher employment: 121,000 new jobs would be created over the course of ten years, along with far-reaching social and economic benefits
  • Stronger regional investment: more investment will be generated for businesses across the country, particularly in tourist hotspots such as seasides
  • Stronger international competitiveness: cheaper UK holidays should incentivise more foreign tourists to choose this country for their vacation

What role will Brexit play?

Brexit isn’t a barrier to the change of VAT rate - it can be brought into effect immediately, because there’s no requirement for legislation at EU level.

With the hospitality industry determined to respond to the challenges of Brexit, a reduction in tourism VAT may also help businesses counter the impact of loosing certain freedoms associated with EU membership, such as access to the Single Market.

Will a VAT cut help growth?

Put simply - yes! Tourism benefits communities and the economy quite unlike many other industries. In some places, it’s a primary source of employment.

A reduction in tourism VAT would support 2.4 million jobs outside of London, assist regions that haven’t recovered from the recession and offer vital support to SMEs.

The latter is particularly important, because SMEs make up 80% of all tourism and hospitality businesses. They need help from the government if they’re to grow, and a VAT cut would have a near immediate, positive impact on their ability to do so.

How would the cut work?

As previously noted, there’s nothing holding the government back - they could reduce the VAT rate tomorrow.

What’s more, it was revealed by Treasury Advisor Professor Adam Blake that a cut in tourism VAT is “one of the most efficient, if not the most efficient, means of generating GDP gains at a low cost to the Exchequer”.

The cut would also increase competition in the industry by compelling operators to lower their prices. Indeed, Merlin Entertainment and Butlin’s have already both vowed to pass on every penny of the savings to customers.

Want to know more? Simply download the official Cut Tourism VAT factsheet, which is packed full of further details. 

Got something to say? Tell us what you think about the campaign in the comments section below. After all, the more noise we all make, the more chance there is that something will be done!

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