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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In episode 12 of the Welcome Systems podcast, we're joined by two award-winning hoteliers - Frances Meeres Young of Stoberry House and Struan Lothian from Knockendarroch Hotel and Restaurant.

Having both picked up prestigious awards from the Good Hotel Guide this year, we decided to quiz Frances and Struan on what it takes to become a successful independent hotelier in the digital age.

This is a must-listen for any hotelier who wants to know how to raise occupancy, develop a consistent yet personalised service and make the most of the wonderful technology available today.

Find out more about Stoberry House by clicking here

Find out more about Knockendarroch Hotel and Restaurant by clicking here

https://soundcloud.com/user-568165456/the-welcome-systems-podcast-ep12-knockendarroch-and-stoberry

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Online travel agencies aren’t going anywhere - let’s get that particular fact out of the way immediately. That means savvy hoteliers will continue to pay commission for the new bookings generated by sites such as Booking.com.

But that’s not a bad thing. You see, if you’re running one of the latest channel managers for hotels, you’ll benefit from a set of tools that make online distribution a cinch.

Such tools provide you with something rather invaluable: more time to work on your direct booking strategy. And, with that in mind, here’s four direct booking strategies you should be working into your 2019 hotel marketing plan:

1. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

How often do you encounter websites that don’t work properly on your smartphone? You have to pinch to zoom and read text and, nine times out of ten, you’ll hit the wrong link as you try and navigate the site.

In a 2017 survey by Google, 89% of people confirmed they’re more likely to recommend a brand after a positive mobile browsing experience. How compatible is your hotel’s website with smaller screens? If it’s a frustrating experience, make 2019 the year you go fully mobile-first with your web presence.

2. Reach out to existing guests

The guest email addresses you collect could hold the key to a significant uplift in return bookings.

With an email marketing platform such as Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor, you can finally make use of those email addresses in 2019 by sending tempting offers to stay with you again. And, if your PMS allows you to filter and export specific sets of customers (by business or leisure and demographical data, for instance), you can send highly relevant emails to people who are most likely to engage with them.

Oh, and the good, old-fashioned telephone and snail mail aren’t bad ways to reconnect with old guests, either!

3. Build a rate strategy from past performance

Providing you have a PMS that offers deep analytical data on your guests’ past staying habits, you should be able to create a rate strategy for 2019 that’s influenced by past performance.

Look for your most popular rates by booking channel and try and identify those which were most often booked directly. You clearly got something right, whether it was the inclusion of some free extras for booking direct or the name you chose for the package.

The more you study last year’s performance, the more you’ll be able to spot direct booking trends that will help inform the hotel’s rate strategy for 2019.

4. Find something unique about your hotel - and promote the hell out of it

Every independent hotel is unique. For some, that uniqueness is obvious (the presence of giraffes as dinner guests, for instance), while for others, it’s a little more subtle - but equally compelling.

Whether your property is supposedly haunted by a ghost, once played host to a celebrity or played a minor supporting role in an episode of Dr Who, make a big noise about it next year.

Booking via OTAs is a relatively soulless experience, simply because every hotel is listed in a near-identical fashion. When people reach your hotel’s own website, they want to be drawn into your world, and one of the best ways to achieve that level of engagement is to highlight the one thing that makes your property unique.

Don’t be shy - shout loud and proud about whatever it is that makes your hotel special and have some fun with it; create a special menu or stay package based on the unique element.

Wrapping up

You have the time to undertake the direct booking strategies above, even if it feels like the clock is forever ticking against you.

The trick lies in making your direct booking strategy a vital task that’s present on every day’s to-do list. Find the time, and you’ll find more guests who are willing to come straight to your website rather than book via OTAs. It’s that simple.

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