As hotelier problems go, this one is pretty epic.

You’re busy (really busy) but you have absolutely no idea why. As far as you can tell, it isn’t anything to do with the season, there’s no local events on, and your competitors, by comparison, appear to be struggling.

What’s going on? Why are you so awesome at this hotelier lark?

Hospitality is a funny beast. You’ll have periods where you are inexplicably busy and, unfortunately, the same goes when occupancy drops. Sometimes, there’s no rhyme or reason for it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a closer look at what’s going on.

Chances are, you’re getting something (or several things) right. And we’d like to give you a head start on your investigations.

People have heard they’ll be getting a great experience

A great guest experience beats a simple bed for the night, hands down, and if you’re personalising the service you offer customers, word will soon get around.

To you, this is the stuff you do each and every day; it comes naturally. But to other, less discerning hoteliers, the idea of using a PMS to its full potential and leveraging guests’ personal and stay data to offer tailored experiences will feel like too much work.

Think about it - you’re not just a hotelier; when people check in, they’re also given detailed information about the area and a reminder that the team is always there for them should they need any assistance in making the most of their time.

The pre- and post-stay emails and text messages you send out are also making a real difference. Guests who stay at your hotel feel welcome, looked after and as though their booking has been tailor-made for them. And you know what? They’ll share that experience with their mates, family and the entire world on social media.

You reward guests

The rewards programme you set up a few months ago may have been a bit of a punt, marketing-wise, but perhaps it’s now starting to take effect.

Once again, as word spreads about the value of being part of your closed group of guests (better rates, room upgrades and whatever else you may have dreamed up for members), people will start to look your way as opposed to the chains.

You’ve nailed the room amenities

Nope, not to the desk…! You’ve nailed your approach to room amenities.

Wi-Fi is free (yes!), each TV offers entertainment on demand, and the money you invested in that keycard system that accepts entry via guest smartphones has all but replaced the need for physical cards.

The process of checking in, using the room and getting stuff done in the hotel when you’re a guest is seamless, fast, efficient and - most importantly - enjoyable.

This stuff really matters.

Your online booking process is mega easy

Lastly, one of the key reasons you’re experiencing consistently high occupancy rates is because you offer a great online booking service on your own website.

Direct bookings are hard to come by in an age where OTAs dominate the online hospitality marketplace, but guests aren’t stupid - they’ll shop around and visit hotel websites before making a decision. It just so happens that yours features an online booking platform that’s a cinch to use and on par with anything the OTAs have to offer.

Wrapping up

This isn’t a fluke - you’re definitely getting something right.

Use our pointers above to suss out where your secret sauce lies… and make some more of 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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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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4 things hoteliers can do to increase direct bookings | hotel booking systems

If there’s one question hoteliers ask themselves every day, it’s: “how can I increase direct bookings?”.

And that’s understandable because ‘beating’ the online travel agents (OTAs) feels like an impossible task…

…until you realise that it isn’t really a battle.

Seriously - in order to gain more direct bookings as a hotelier, you need to view this industry as a level playing field, because in the digital age, that’s exactly what it is.

In today’s blog, we’re going to look at four things you can do today to increase direct bookings at your hotel (and none of the tips below involves getting into a backstreet brawl with an OTA):

1. Get into digital marketing

digital marketing tip for hotels | increase direct bookings

Isn’t all marketing in the digital age, er… digital?

Nope!

In fact, the hospitality industry remains one of the few that still relies on old-fashioned methods of brand promotion thanks to the prevalence of printed brochures and direct mail campaigns.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that stuff, but it needs to run alongside a concerted digital marketing effort if you’re to be found online.

Here are a few ways you can up your digital marketing game, relatively easily:

  • optimise your website for keywords relating to the type of hotel you run, its various services and location (this is known as ‘SEO’ - speak to your web people if you’re unsure how to approach it);
  • start a blog and write regularly about the hotel, its events and topics that relate to the area in which it’s situated;
  • use your social media presence - don’t just let it sit there unloved; a post or two a day advertising your latest rates or showing off photos of your rooms and grounds will work wonders;
  • give Google Adwords a try - it isn’t the money pit some will tell you it is.

The above list is certainly non-exhaustive, but it’s a start, and if you make good on your promise to keep on top of each task, you’ll gradually start to see results in terms of increased visitors to your website and - all being well - increase direct bookings.

2. Respond to - and share - guest reviews

hotel industry tip | hotel software uk

Ah - reviews. Well, we were going to mention this sooner or later, weren’t we?

Guest reviews can make or break hotels - but not in the way you’re perhaps thinking.

Receive a bad review? Respond to it; demonstrate that you’re listening and care deeply about your business and the service you provide guests.

Receive a great review? Share it! Tell the world via social media and a testimonials page on your website.

By proactively dealing with guest reviews, you’ll become the master of them, and the more active you are with such guest correspondence, the more chance you have of diverting people to your own website rather than an OTA.

3. Give guests a reason to part with their money

bespoke hotel packages | increase direct bookings

Getting people to your hotel website is only half the battle. Once they arrive, they need to be given a compelling reason to book direct.

Try creating bespoke packages that are only applicable to people who are willing to book direct. Avoid rate parity issues by retaining the same OTA rate but instead include something on top that is of high value to the guest but relatively low cost to you (a breakfast upgrade, for example).

If you avoid the opportunity to give potential guests a good deal immediately, they’ll quickly head elsewhere.

4. Implement a killer online booking system and payment gateway

online booking system hotels

Potential guests need two things to convince them that booking direct is the thing to do:

  1. Ease of booking.
  2. Reassurance.

Number 1 simply means you need a great online booking system that enables people to make bookings in just a few short steps. Number 2 requires a recognisable payment gateway (e.g. PayPal) and a crystal-clear booking policy. Both will be bolstered considerably with a PMS that connects directly to your website's hotel booking systems.

Make your deposit, cancellation and no-show policy ultra-clear and ensure guests are forced to agree to your terms before booking.

The more transparent your booking process, the more people will use it - it’s that simple.

Wrapping up

Have we missed anything?

If you’re an independent hotelier and have experienced a significant uplift in direct bookings, tell us your experiences below. It doesn’t hurt to share your successes with the world once in a while!

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adopt Psychological Pricing

Psychological Pricing | Hotel Upselling

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

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

In fact, it looks almost £10 cheaper!

Keep an eye on the competition

Create Room Rate Strategy | Hotel Management Software UK

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

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

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

Offer packages

Create a Room Rate Strategy | Hotel Booking Systems

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

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

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

Implement a length of stay strategy

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

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

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

Wrapping up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recycle, recycle, recycle!

Recycling for hotels | management systems for hotels london

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

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

Leverage renewable energy

hotel energy supply | hotel software uk

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

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

Avoid water waste

water waste hotels | hotel software uk

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

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

Overhaul laundry handling

laundry housekeeping hotels | hotel software uk

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

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

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

Get creative

Green Spaces for hotels | hotel management software uk

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

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

Work with customers

Work with customers hotels | hotel booking systems

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

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

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

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

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

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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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