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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Five Reasons a PMS will Increase Your Hotel Revenue | hotel booking systems

Hotels are about the people; the people booking in for a comfortable stay and the people who work to make that stay memorable. Moreover, it is the personal touches that are remembered. Excellent and personable staff increase your hotel revenue with excellent salesmanship. And of course, by creating a desire to return to the hotel at a later date.

This is all well and good. However, the world has become technologically driven, and it stands to reason that your hotel must cater for that. Without a deeply-functional PMS, a hotel has its work cut out. There are many ways that a PMS will increase your hotel revenue. Let me walk you through the top 5.

1. Administering the customer experience

hotel customer experience | hotel software uk

If there is a member of your team hugging a desk, shuffling papers, or performing some other thankless administrative task, then they represent a hole in your customer experience. Nobody wants to be juggling bookings in a dark room, especially when they can make a difference out on the floor.

A PMS will free your staff up to interact with your guests. By taking on the clerical elements of a hotelier, they create the opportunity for customer interaction and help you build connections in a way that carves out memorable moments for guests. It's these moments your guests will consider the next time they need to make a booking in your area.

2. Increasing your hotel revenue online

online channel manager hotel | hotel management software uk

If there is one place you want to be as a hotelier, it is online. Whatever your geographical location, or additional facilities you offer, your guests are all the web. To increase your hotel revenue, your PMS needs to be capable of managing your online presence.

Most hotel guests are in your area for a reason beyond staying in a nice room for the night. They may be there to see Slipknot at your local concert venue, for instance, and those sweaty, tired rockers may not have been aware of your hotel. That is, until they were online looking for a place to stay - and it will have been your PMS that will have lured them conveniently through your door.

3. Distribution Management

hotel distribution management | hotel upselling

A PMS with a channel management function is hugely beneficial.  You can market yourself across all the OTAs and GDSs, as well as retail travel agents.

With such carnivorous competition in your market, creating partnerships in these channels is imperative.  It's important for survial, let alone increasing your hotel revenue.

It might be time to change your PMS if you are still manually updating the OTAs.

4. Transparent communication

hotel customer service tip | management systems for hotels london

Your PMS provides easy and clear communication between the various departments in your hotel. With your hotel functioning efficiently, your hotel is able to save time and offer guests a more personalised experience.

Importantly, your PMS is able to bypass unnecessary kerfuffle. Thus, you have the ability to craft moments for guests, because you will have built an environment for up-selling.  Remember - transparent communication enables you to respond to the whims and desires of your guests.

5. Profitable decision making

making better hotel business decisions | hotel software uk

Revenue and rate management in a modern PMS uses existing data to help identify trends and create profitable, enticing rate plans. With availability and competitor rates data available at your fingertips, you'll find yourself equipped and ready to react to the market.

With such information at your disposal, you can drive higher occupancy rates and implement a competitive room pricing strategy.  Manipulating this data and adjusting your rates accordingly will inevitably result in your hotel's revenue increasing - it's that simple.

Wrapping up

Yes, the hospitality industry is heavily influenced and manipulated by the human condition. But without a PMS installed into your hotel, your resources will be stretched beyond their ability to create a personal customer experience.

If you are a hotel owner, we'd love to hear how you increase your hotel revenue with your PMS. Comment below if you fancy sharing your best practices!

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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 reasons to change your hotel PMS

The signs that you need to change your hotel’s property management system (PMS) aren’t always that obvious. This is because your hotel PMS is a tool which is deeply embedded within your operation, and even if it’s gradually falling apart by the seams, staff will probably accept its increasing number of foibles and assume that’s just how it’s going to be for the foreseeable future.

That’s just not good enough. And not on your team’s part, either; if your PMS is slowly dying or increasingly out of step with modern guest expectations, it’s no longer doing the job for which it was purchased.

Here’s five common but often hard to identify reasons that you need to change your hotel PMS.

1. Your staff are frustrated with your current PMS

reasons to change your hotel PMS | hotel booking systems

Why does it crash every time you click on the arrivals list? Why on earth do you have to keep doing that really complicated workaround just to place a deposit on a future booking?

If members of the team are continually shouting at the PMS or banging their fists on the table in frustration when it doesn’t act as it should, don’t assume it’s because they’re using it incorrectly or need training. While that might be the case, there could be something much worse at play.

Speak to the team and find out what it is that frustrates them the most about the PMS.

2. You’re still updating OTA sites manually (and you hate life because of it)

update OTAs automatically | hotel software uk

It’s the task on your daily to-do list that you’re always pushing to the bottom. It’s tiresome, laborious and nearly always results in you making mistakes because you just can’t be bothered.

In 2019 and beyond there’s absolutely no reason at all to update OTAs with rates and availability manually. Your PMS should connect directly to the likes of Booking.com and Expedia and do all of the hard work when it comes to ensuring every website knows how many rooms you have free and what your latest rates are. It should sort out the incoming bookings for you, too, thus removing any chance of the dreaded double booking.

If it doesn’t do any of this, you need to find a hotel PMS with a brilliant channel manager.

3. Another guest has complained about the bottle of wine they didn’t drink

modern PMS benefits | hotel upselling

Not again!

How many times this week have guests complained about their room bill or queried certain items on it? And how often are those transactions related to the bar or restaurant?

Chances are, this is because you’re still manually transferring charges from the F&B side of the business to room accounts. Did you know there’s a much better way of doing this that pretty much eradicates human error?

A modern PMS should be able to connect to a host of POS systems. In doing so, it’ll enable bar staff to automatically post food and drink bills to room accounts. Some will even transfer across the POS sales data into your main PMS accounts reports! This will increase your hotel upselling opportunities and ensure you maximise revenue on every guest's stay.

Imagine that…

4. Very few guests bother to return

build great guest relationships | hotel management software uk

Tempting guests to return to your hotel isn’t easy, even if they had a brilliant stay with you the first time around.

In order to build great relationships with your customers that result in plenty of return bookings, you need to nurture them with email marketing and personalised guest correspondence.

Can your hotel PMS send pre- and post-stay emails and SMS messages automatically? Are you able to export a list of customers that can then be imported into a modern email marketing tool?

More importantly: are you making it easy to book directly on your website?

If the answer is “no” to any of those questions, it’s time to get a new PMS - it’s that important.

5. Your competitors are wiping the floor with you

modern pms competitors | hotel booking systems

What gives? Your competitors’ room prices seem to flex more than yours and, as a result, they appear to know the secret sauce that draws in more guests.

Why can’t you do the same? And why do you never really know what level to set your room prices at?

Guess what - your competitors are probably using modern PMSs that enable them to flex rates strategically based on market conditions and work from actionable, insightful data about past performance.

Do you really want to be lagging behind because your system is no longer up to scratch?

Wrapping up

The best news? Property management systems no longer cost an arm and a leg. Well, some do, but choose the right one and you’ll pay a manageable monthly fee that enables every staff member to use the system no matter where they are or what device they have to hand.

Is it time you replaced your PMS?

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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.

Read More