Upselling and cross selling – The key to increasing TREVPAR performance for hotels and resorts

Upselling and cross selling – The key to increasing TREVPAR performance for hotels and resorts

The pressure on independent hotels can sometimes be immense, from offering the best price in an extremely competitive market to ensuring that you are providing a unique and memorable guest experience. Sometimes, though, despite all our best intentions, many clients never actually find out about everything you offer.  Our beloved guest directory in the rooms is more times than not never opened or the flyer we leave on reception doesn’t get seen.  There are so many points of contact that a client has with your staff that sometimes that gentle hint or suggestion by a receptionist or waiter can open the door to a potential increase in sales of the many different services you offer.

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Upselling and Cross Selling are not new techniques; they have been around for years. However, Hotels have been slow to adopt methods that a)have been used by airlines ever since the launch of low cost and b)can make the difference to your profit margins.

So how are hotels increasing TREVPAR (Total Revenue per available room) from introducing to their staff Upselling and Cross Selling techniques and initiatives?

Let me tell you about my personal experience.  Two years ago, I contracted HBD Consulting (www.hbdconsulting.es) a company that specialises in training staff on how to interact with your guests to drive revenue from a previous role at a Hotel.  They reviewed our current internal marketing structure and how we communicate with our guests.  They also put together an incentive bonus plan for all guest-facing staff.  After the initial training sessions, there is a continual assessment to ensure best practises have adhered too.  The six months that then followed, we took a check on the results achieved.  My staff produced over 40,000€ in increase in revenue which consisted of the following:-

  • Upgrade of rooms
  • Dinner reservations
  • Late Check out
  • Toiletries
  • Golf Lessons

Services such as parking,  breakfast in your room, theatre tickets and romantic packages can also be suggested. Anything that can be done to make the guest experience more memorable.

We also saw an uptick in average restaurant spend as waiters were taught to help and advise guests, based on dishes the kitchen wanted to be pushed,  as well as moving wine that needed to be sold to reduce and rotate stock.  Staff morale was also improved especially in departments where there is little opportunity to increase their wages.

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Future of upselling and cross selling with Technology

There is a general recognition within our industry that, two things are essential to compete in the future 1. Provide compelling and unique guest experiences and 2. Connect and interact with your clients more fluidly.

These are the two very principals of which Upselling and Cross-selling are based and which technology can only enhance.  Concierge apps for smartphones and tablets are leading the way in bringing your guest service directory to a smartphone and make it easier for your client to interact with your staff.  Instant push notifications that promote events and services that you have available during their stay and in a format that 90% of your clients will read while at the same time making it easier for your customer to find out, book and buy your services throughout your hotel.

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Social Wifi is another important factor as this is also a great option to connect with not just your hotel guests but also delegates to a conference or wedding invitees.  No opportunity should be missed to provide service and up-sell, enhancing the overall experience of a guest’s stay

By developing your staff’s techniques to improve their ability in Upselling and Cross-selling strategies, as well as introducing new ways on which your guests can interact with you, is why hotels who have taken this leap forward are already reaping the TREVPAR revenue rewards from doing so.

(HBD Consulting is a global leading provider of Upselling and Cross Selling techniques that help hoteliers drive revenue and increase GOP performance.  Comprised of a team of professionals with over 25 years experience in the hotel industry. Founded in 2007 their aim is to provide up selling and cross-selling solutions through proactive training courses. Over 35,000 people were trained in 2014 from 10 countries).

Hotelient (www.hotelient.net), a leading provider of guest marketing solutions for independent hotels and Resorts, has partnered with HBD Consulting (www.hbdconsulting.es) to increase the potential of hotels to improve their overall revenue performance and guest experience.  For more information email info@hotelient.net

 

 

 

Investment in technology not a priority for Independent Hotels in 2016

Investment in technology not a priority for Independent Hotels in 2016

Last week was the premier tourism event in Spain, FITUR.  A good chance to take a check on what is the current sentiment with hotels towards the many changes taking place within our industry.  What was a worrying sign, at least for the majority of independent hotels at least, that are located in Europe is that they are totally unprepared and in some cases unaware of the importance of how they should be connecting with their future guests.

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On the technological side, Spain has seen an incredible amount of new starts up offering a range of services to the hotel industry.  From apps to social wifi, the new kids on the block are there to help the independent hotel formulate a strategy of building a solid foundation, to increase not only their direct business but also a unique personalised guest experience.  Powerful and convincing talks by Andy Stalman (@AndyStalman) during FITUR explained how hotels can achieve this.  There were also open discussions by the major Spanish hotel brands discussing how they are using technology to connect with their guests and providing unique experiences.  The technological advances and the embrace by major chains to adapt to this reality have clear benefits for an industry that has only in the past couple years, actually started to invest in a form of communication that guests have been using in the day to day lives for a while now.

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The above advances through contrast with a view of the majority of hotel directors of independent hotels that feel the cards are stacked against them.  That booking.com is all too powerful and that Tripadvisor is going to become their new revenue source.  In a nutshell, there is a overall sense of resignation that the 2 or now three main OTA´s if you include Tripadvisor holds all the cards.  As always, there are exceptions.  Some hoteliers realise they have to connect with Google to gain increased visibility online,  that Social Wifi can be a cheap and cost effective way of building a stable market database or Concierge Apps increase overall revenue as well as build guest loyalty, however, they are in the clear minority.

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Hoteliers, just like in the years when GTA (Gulliver Travel Associates) was the booking.com of today, times change.  Hotels who are dependent on booking.com will become just as dependent on quite possibly Google or Airbnb in the future.  What stays constant though is their has never been a better time for a hotelier to invest in technology that offers the best chance to increase a dwindling revenue stream for many – direct bookings.

As we enter a post rate parity era and the continued evolution of our industry, hotels can start taking the first steps to improving their direct bookings.  Here are few pointers to help you on your way.

  • Some Booking engines are perfect for revenue managers but a minefield for clients.  Compare yours with booking.com and see how it stacks up
  • Social WIFI – By getting you guests to connect to your FREE WIFI through their social media accounts should be a no brainer for hotels.  Not only do they get more followers, but you also get their email address, that can be added to your marketing database.
  • APPs- Concierge Apps should be a must by providing your guests information about your hotel including offers, events and much more.  According to recent surveys, 85% of smartphone users prefer apps to mobile websites.  They also reduce your printing cost on flyers and new guest directories
  • Reputation online is essential to increase your visibility on Google & Tripadvisor and drive business back to you directly

For a more in-depth guide, read this recent article

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Independent hoteliers need to react to these changes soon or yet again, we will be allowing major Agencies and companies determine our future.  For example, Tripadvisor is your frenemy,  they provide a page where they host your guest reviews and dish out awards too! However, they also sell your competitor on your review page and with the latest agreement with booking.com incentivise your guests to book via them too!  So stop sending your future bookers to TripAdvisor to see your guest reviews, let them read on your website and convert them into direct bookers whilst they are there.

For all the regular news that gets published on the latest advancements in new partnerships and advances in technology, it is clear that only the major chains have been listening.  The time is now that Independent hoteliers take note and start taking action before it becomes more and more difficult to increase profit margins as well as dealing with increased agency dependency.

Hotelient provides hotel & resorts with a strategy and vision based on experience and results achieved to increase your direct bookings.  Email us info@hotelient.netinfo@hotelient.net for more information.

 

 

 

How apps are boosting room service revenues and taking guest satisfaction to a new level

How apps are boosting room service revenues and taking guest satisfaction to a new level

For as long as I can remember Room Service has always been problematic for hotels.  Either it has never been rarely profitable or operationally it has been difficult to do well.  To counter this, hotels have chosen solutions like externalize the operation, relying on a local restaurant/take ways to provide the service such as Pizza Delivery, or reduce the size of the menu limiting choice and limiting the hours of operation.  The decision was always based on trying to reduce the cost of the operation whilst providing at the very least a basic service.  Not exactly the best way to improve guest satisfaction or increase overall revenue for your hotel or Resort.

There is though a new way for hotels which is starting to buck the trend, by offering more choice and flexibility when ordering their room service, providing guests with a visually pleasing menu without the cost of reprinting should you wish to change a dish on the menu, and dishes of the day and special promotions which can be created and promoted at a click of a button.  Apps are already helping hotels & resorts convert rooms service into a profitable operation.  This is backed up by the fact that the number one revenue stream for hotels who have implemented concierge apps is room service, which also shows that guests are finding this a new and novel way to interact with a hotel or resort.

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So how does work for your guests?

The Business Guest

The business guest evenings are sometimes spent catching up on emails or finalising proposals or presentations for the next day so more times than not, they end up staying in their hotel room. By using the app, they can plan ahead what they want to eat for when they want to eat it.  Likewise, when they are on the way back to the hotel from a conference or meeting, they might want to make sure that they always have a bottle of water in their room.  The gym enthusiast might also need an energy bar or some fruit ready before they start their daily workout.  Allowing them the flexibility to order it and have it ready for when they get back to their room is practical and common sense great service.  They can also avoid the queues in reception or having to order it from their room,  then waiting for it to arrive, which optimizes their time.

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The Leisure Guests

They maybe arriving late, or their train or plane has been delayed, or they are just in a rush to get to the theatre or a concert on time.   Having the ability to arrange for food & drinks to come to their room when they want is a major advantage.  Having two young children myself, I know what is like to get to the hotel late after an excursion or day out and then try to organise a hot chocolate for example.  Doing that from your car on your way to the resort or hotel is very comforting and practical.   Your guest maybe just by the swimming pool or on the golf course and want to organise something special for a loved one, or a surprise  romantic evening with someone special.  They can also connect to your staff directly via instant messenger if they have any special requests.

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Now having your room service menu on your app and allowing your guests to order is not the only benefit.  You can also  communicate directly with the client for when to remove the empty trays, thus clearing them from the corridors straight away.  You can also show your guests that you care by asking them to provide you feedback on their experience of your room service, thus allowing you to further refine your offering and deliver what your clients are looking for.

Although we are only looking at Room Service in this article today, Apps also help your hotel or resort increase revenues in other departments.  Upselling and Cross-selling techniques are and have been two essential training programmes for hotel staff  which have been demonstrated to increase overall profitability.  Apps support this and take it to a whole new level.

Would you like to find out more?  Email us info@hotelient.net on how Hotelient can help your hotel start benefiting from concierge apps.

Why hotels should be focusing on improving their online user experience to increase direct reservations

Why hotels should be focusing on improving their online user experience to increase direct reservations

The recent announcement that Booking.com was integrating with Tripadvisor’s Instant Booking has been filling our industry news for the last week.  This news though should be another wake-up call for hotels to start taking seriously the user experience on their website and online booking process.

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The likes of booking.com are continually investing in improving their user experience across all devices. This is especially critical when considering 47% of all last minute hotel bookings are done from a smartphone which apps like Hoteltonight and Booking Now from booking.com, with their slogan that you can reserve within 4 clicks, are focusing on.

For far too long, independent hotels have not invested in improving the user experience on their website.  More users are booking online than ever before across all devices and as this recent study suggests, more business travellers are booking their hotel and flights by themselves which also is backed up by booking.com and Airbnb´s focus in this area.

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So with OTA´s investing heavily in user experience across multi-platforms along with their huge budgets in online advertising spend, how can an independent hotel compete with this?

Here´s some helpful pointers to get you going in the right direction:-

  • Booking Engine – This is where the OTA´s have invested heavily in the user experience and hotels just have not improved in this area.  There is a reason that the OTA´s do not offer extras or added value like roses or champagne during the booking process, users want the final price in the fewest clicks.  You will have plenty time once you receive the reservation to promote these automatically and the client will be much more receptive too!  It is also critically important that your booking engine is visually great and easy to use for your guests. Sounds obvious I know, but there are many engines out in the market that have been designed for revenue managers, not users!  View your hotel in booking.com from a client’s perspective and see how they sell to you and make it easy to complete a reservation, then look for a supplier that best replicates this.  Also, you need to make sure that your booking engine backend can provide you with good analytical data, how many visitors and from which countries are coming to your booking engine, what dates are they searching for, how many days in advance are they looking to book and from which websites are they visiting you from.  With this, you will be able to determine the right promotions at the right time to optimize your online conversions.

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  • Cart Abandonment –  A re-engagement strategy can be what makes the difference. An email campaign shouldn’t bombard or annoy customers; it should be treated as an extension of your customer service.  It is perfectly legitimate when users have left your booking engine to send them an e-mail (even without completing a reservation) with a personalised follow-up message. This demonstrates an appreciation of their interest, shows users that you value their custom and that yours is a hotel worth booking.  Some hotels offer promo codes or incentives to stimulate impulse buying, however, this is not always necessary, as the email itself demonstrates that you value their business. It can also serve as a helpful reminder and quick route back to a room they had seen earlier and liked.
  • Website – We all know that users tend to visit around 20 websites before making a hotel reservation, so by being the first website is not necessarily the best.  What is important though is creating a bigger marketing database in which to target and to convert into potential future business booking directly.  A) Invest to get them to visit your website, B) Gain their contact information and C) Target them afterwards.  An average mid-size hotel has around 15,000 visits per month to their website.  How great would it be that even a mere 10% of those visitors is leaving their details with you. That´s 1500 more people per month that you are connecting with, which is 18,000 more people in a year than you are gaining today.  By asking potential clients to provide you with their email address, will allow you to reconnect with them automatically, making the investment you are doing in online advertising offer better value for your hotel and increase your online conversions. As Google is evolving to become the new OTA online, not only is it important to understand what you need to do to maximize your visibility, you also have to capture the clients once they get to your website

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  • Reputation Marketing – In 2015, just monitoring your reviews by Tripadvisor and other review sites is not enough with management products largely becoming redundant.  Users seek out independent reviews before making a reservation, with 95% claiming to read reviews before booking.  OTA´s understand this, so they make customer ratings and feedback a prominent part of the hotel research process, offering millions of reviews directly on the site, so it is incredibly important that you are actively asking for feedback from your guests whilst helping them to promote them on your website as well as other key sites that will aid your visibility such as google, facebook and of course Tripadvisor. Here are some good practices:-
    • Website – Showing good reviews from a variety of places show you care about your reputation on your brand website will help increase your direct bookings and show to your users that you value feedback.
    • Stop giving Tripadvisor a free lunch and remove their widget from your website.  Yes, promote your reviews, just don´t make it easy for you guest to click off to Tripadvisor.
    • Proactively seek guest feedback – Ask your guest for feedback, understand better what you do well and what you can do better.

Book Now

Now doing the above is going to help your direct bookings but a good percentage of your guests will still come from OTA´s no matter how good your digital marketing strategy is, so here are a few more cost-effective ideas that will help you connect with your guests and allow you to understand their requirements to further personalise your marketing message to attract more guests to book directly.

  • Social Wifi – Allow your guests to connect to your free Wifi using their social media channels.  This is a great way for you to connect with everyone coming through your door (Conference Delegates, Wedding guests, Non-residents in your bar) not just one guest per room.  You will also increase your Social media fan base as well as your marketing database!
  • Upselling – This is a great way not only increase your revenue but also learn what kind of experience your guests want from your hotel, which will help you personalize even further.  Having a PMS (Property Management System) or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software that records the buying habits will allow you also to customise your marketing messaging.
  • Concierge APP – Make it easy for your guest to interact with you.  Apart from promoting your services, apps can offer loyalty programs that provide your guests value and provide you with a great new marketing technique – Push Notifications & GPS Marketing.  Read more here on how apps are beneficial for hotels.

None of the above are going to break your budget and will help set you on the path to increasing one of your most profitable reservations channels.  OTA´s are constantly improving their user experience, it is about time that independent hotels focus on this too.

Push Notifications vs Emails vs Facebook, which offers better value to hotels, Resorts and Golf courses?

Push Notifications vs Emails vs Facebook, which offers better value to hotels, Resorts and Golf courses?

Hotels and Resorts are as usual being very conservative when it comes to adapting to the new realities on how to market to their prospective guests. Most European hotels will find it hard now to find a guest who is not in possession of either a smartphone or tablet.  This is the world we live in, where your guests are accustomed to using Apps from Facebook or Amazon.  They are also already used to receiving marketing messages via push notifications and most use Google maps to find their way around, so why are hotels & resorts being slow to react to this technological change.

Let´s take a look at 3 core marketing communication strategies that hotels should be planning to use in 2016:-

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Email Marketing

As part of your marketing strategy, emails campaigns are great at promoting your services, promotions, blog entries and general information.  You work hard with your front office staff to get the right email address, maybe run competitions both online and offline to increase your marketing database as well as use technology like Social Wifi within your hotel and landing pages on your website. These are all worthwhile exercises and should be continued but let’s get one thing clear, on average only 10-15% of your emails you send will be opened.  That’s an incredibly small number.  What’s more, the vast majority of hotels have not invested in creating a database that includes gender, date of birth, likes, dislikes etc so at least you can be slightly more specific when it comes to you email content.

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Facebook

Like with Smartphones, nearly all your guests are going to have an account with Facebook.  In 2015, they are registering around 1 billion daily users.  In general, most users have been happy to provide Facebook with all kinds of information from their relationship status to age, interests etc so you will be able to use the Facebook Ads Manager to define a target audience. For ads, you are not limited to just your fans; instead you can choose your audience based on geography, gender, age, interests, and purchasing behaviours. For example, hotels can choose to target London business travellers between 35-45 who have returned from a trip within the last two weeks, or let´s say your hotel is a wedding venue, you could target all people within a 100km radius who are engaged.  This is by far a more effective marketing tool and with some major international companies planning to spend over 80% of their marketing budget with Facebook over the next 12 months, demonstrates that advertising with Facebook is providing them with much higher rates of return.

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Push Notifications

Now, for your guests to receive notifications to their smartphone, your hotel is going to need to invest in an App.  Now in my previous article, I laid out how apps are improving the revenue performance in hotels, so I am not going to cover it again here. Push notifications are unique because it’s short and sweet. Unlike traditional marketing, once your app is built there are no further costs.  Push notifications are received exclusively by guest’ who have opted in for your offers, so you will never come across as spammy.  They can be used to show specials that you currently offer in your F&B outlets or for example: If your hotel is in a part of the world known for its seasonal appeal a push notification can increase your revenue of outdoor activities in the offseason. If your hotel is known to be in a great area for skiing, and there is a fluke snow storm in early April, a push will allow you to quickly inform anyone with your app that the slopes are open. The same applies to beachfront properties- if the weather is predicted to be sunny in the high 20´s or 30 degrees in January that will be a great time for you to drive traffic.

Here is also a great example on how Push Notifications are providing new ways to connect with your target audience.    One of the functionalities that our hotelient apps offers is for a golf course that can add the round card to an app.  By using GPS, a user will be able to see how far their ball is from the green as well as a short note on how to play the hole.  So let’s assume an average golf course receives 20,000 golfers a year and 50% download the app.  With 90% readability rates, you will be connecting with 9,000 golfers per year via push notifications, maybe offering them offers from their pro shop, or F&B outlets.

This is an extremely powerful marketing tool that the OTAS are taking full advantage of, but as yet the majority of independent hotels and Resorts.

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Conclusion

So which one offers better value?  Email campaigns are a question of numbers, the more you send, the higher amount of guests that open.  Facebook offers hotels the opportunity to market specific messages to a specific audience, whilst push notifications have very high readability rates using technology that the majority of your guests are accustomed to now which are free to send once your hotel has purchased an app.  You should not discount any of these three strategies but what is apparent is that Facebook and Push notifications offer great value as they enjoy higher readability rates when compared with email campaigns.

The reality though is that the majority of hotels, Resorts and & golf courses in 2015 have been only using email campaigns as their communication strategy.  Hopefully, we have offered you something to think about when planning your 2016 marketing campaign!

Need Help?  Talk to us and we will work with you to optimize your 2016 marketing strategy.  email info@hotelient.net for further information

How concierge apps are transforming European hotels revenue performance

How concierge apps are transforming European hotels revenue performance

It is now a common acceptance within our industry that more and more of your guests are searching for a hotel using their mobile rather than a desktop.  In a recent study from the UK, 70% of travellers at some point during the buying process for flights and hotels used a mobile.  A further study revealed that 85% of mobile users prefer Apps over mobile webs.

Most hotels these days have the website optimised for mobiles and feel they are doing everything to ensure they are interacting with their guests via mobile but is it enough?  This is a common question and one that we will tackle today

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Apps are transforming hotels that have already implemented into their business, here’s how:-

  • Information – Hotels & Resorts are, in general, are notoriously bad at informing their guests on everything that is going to take place during their stay.  From the flyers that we leave next to reception, to the personalised letter they receive on check-in and let´s not forget the infamous hotel directory.  The majority guests are searching for information about the great services you provide before they even arrive, instead they need it when they are on the plane, train or just simply planning their holiday.  Many resorts offer excursions like scuba diving, children activities or trekking that are nowhere to be seen on the brand website but still offer an important part of someone’s holiday.  Having that information beforehand is providing your guests with useful information that they can plan their perfect holiday or stay with you which is available both when there online and offline.
  • Events – Most hotels these days are focused on providing experiences to their guests whether business or pleasure.  From offering yoga, cookery classes to a live act in your bar, these have always been difficult to promote for the hotel.  From publishing on Social media & website to producing a flyer which takes time and incurs costs for printing and designing.  One of the great functionalities about apps is push notifications – These are small notifications sent straight to the phone and appear on the front screen.  At present, these have 95% readability rates, far higher and more cost-effective than any other form of advertising.

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  • Revenue – Apps are proving a great way to increase incremental revenue by selling via your app for services like room service, Spa, Restaurant or promotions on food & drink.  Hotels that have implemented apps have already recouped their initial investment within 6 months of operation. From promoting your room service menus shown with pictures which is proven to increase demand  to Spa treatments which can be pre-booked, this can all be done via the app.  Guests can also interact with your staff instantly to organise transfers, housekeeping etc.  All this helps your guest have the right information at their fingertips at the right time.  From an operational point of view, you app can be connected to your PMS to automatically charge the guests room bill.
  • GPS – So you are a resort in Malaga with many of your guests flying into the local airport.  How great would it be for your guest to receive a welcome message when they arrive along with directions on how to get to your hotel?  Or if you are a golfing resort, how cool would it be for your golfers to know how far their ball is away from the pin?  All of this is possible with an App which offer those little details that set you apart from your competitors.

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  • Loyalty Programmes – Apps are a great way to incentivize multi-purchases as well as encouraging repeat stays.   Promotions like buy 5 beers and get the 6th one free can be controlled by the app, as well as promotions to ensure that your clients come back and stay with you by booking directly.

Apps offer much more versatility and can be an incredible source of direct income if used correctly. Once a client has reserved your hotel via any channel.  You should be informing them to download your app to receive special promotions/information etc that they can enjoy when they are staying with you.

Whereas Mobile websites are instrumental in the initial reservation, apps also provide a valuable tool that your guests will appreciate.  A key component is that all your staff is correctly trained to make sure that your staff are helping your guest take full advantage of the many features that the app can offer them, which also helps to increase your hotels overall revenue performance.

All this taken together establishes that Apps are a vital marketing strategy.  For the hotels and resorts that have already adopted them, they are already reaping the rewards.

Email us info@hotelient.net if you would like to find out more on how an app can be beneficial for your guests and revenue.

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Simple handy guide to help you prepare your hotel´s online marketing strategy for 2016

Simple handy guide to help you prepare your hotel´s online marketing strategy for 2016

About this time of year, most Director of Sales & General Managers are sitting down to finalize their Sales & Marketing budgets and plan for 2016………..Best time of the year,  right before the RFP season begins!

So to help you all, here is a handy guide for you to plan your online marketing strategy.

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Website – The most important part of any online strategy is your own website.  Key things to take in consideration or at least be asking your providers or technical team.

  • Is my website mobile optimized? –  Google now penalizes non-responsive websites on searches from a mobile phone
  • Do I promote Guest reviews? – Showing off your great guest reviews increases your online conversions.
  • Are my photos up to date – Photos are key for hotels.  If they are more than 3 years old, update them.
  • Have I got any videos to show?- Videos are key in the selling process, a great video about your hotel on your homepage is a great selling point……..and google loves it too!
  • Can my content be updated quickly –  If you are relying on 3rd parties to update your content, this is not the best idea when we are living in an era where content is king.  Updating your website should be a question of minutes.
  • Is my website in my guests language? – Numerous studies have shown that when a hotel´s website is in your guests local language, they are more likely to buy directly from you.
  • Can my website add Landing pages and pop-up windows? – These are great for data capture and client retention.

Booking engine

  • Is my booking engine easy to use from a client´s perspective?  Many booking engines are great for revenue managers but a minefield for clients.  Compare yours with booking.com and see how it stacks up
  • Add-ons or extras to be shown after initial reservation? – This is proven to increase your revenue against showing them during the initial process.  Does booking.com show extras or Add-Ons?  So why do you let your guest choose one, when they are more likely to be  looking to compare your prices with an OTA?
  • Create separate booking engines for unique offers – Putting your booking engine in more on more pages with only some of your great promotions is key to driving revenue.  Ask your provider whether they can create this for you

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Connectivity

  • Can my channel manager connect to Google/Tripadvisor /Trivago and other meta search agencies? –  If they cannot, look for alternative solutions.
  • Should my Channel Manager & Booking engine be separate? –  The success of your booking engine will depend on how much your provider is investing to keep up with the industry trends, so by separating them, will allow you to move between providers more freely without the hassle.

Advertising/SEO

  • If your hotel already investing in Adwords but not connected to Google HPA? If the answer is no then you need to get this sorted.  Also, Google RLSA has a better rate of conversion and could be a smarter investment.  Talk to your provider about RLSA or read this recent article.
  • Retargeting Ads are a worthwhile investment, as studies have shown clients visit about 20 web pages before deciding on where they are going to book.
  • Ensure your website has up to date Keywords, SEO Description and Titles on every page.
  • SEO is now not just about backlinks, Google users over 200 algorithms now so just doing one thing is not enough

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Reputation

  • Your reputation is key, not only from a point of monitoring but also to incentivise direct reservations.
  • Generate online feedback for your guests to complete and promote it across your social media, website and Videos.

Social Media

  • Is your Community manager or Social media manager just promoting offers and showing pictures and videos of your hotel?  If they are, tell them to stop or look to replace them.
  • Social media is all about telling stories, interaction, and conversation.  One golden rule, only 20% of your content should be your promotions, the rest should be about your destination, events, interesting stories, interviews etc.  Read this article on how to get the best out of your social media.
  • Building your youtube channel with videos of your hotel, interviews, guest reviews is also a great tool.  40% of all global searches are for videos which are set to rise to nearly 70% by 2018.

Other Technologies

  • Social WIFI – By getting you guests to connect to your FREE WIFI through their social media accounts should be a no brainer for hotels.  No only do they get more followers, you also get their email address, that can be added to your marketing database.
  • APPs- Concierge Apps should be a must by providing your guests information about your hotel including offers, events and much more.  According to recent surveys, 85% of smartphone users prefer apps to mobile websites.  They also reduce your printing cost on flyers and new guest directories!.

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I am sure there are many more ways you can all think of, however by doing the above is a great start.

According to a recent survey we conducted, over 70% of hotels receive less than 35% of their total online reservations directly.  Every point that I have written above, I have implemented and was able to achieve 60% of my online reservations directly in my previous roles within hotels.  It can be done and it also does not need to break your marketing budget in doing so.

Talk to your providers or your team today and see how you can implement these during 2016, or alternatively, allow Hotelient to provide you with a free review on your general online positioning to ensure you are checking all the boxes.  Email us for further information info@hotelient.net

I am passionate about direct sales for hotels and I have put into practice what I believe. We cannot live without OTA´s, but we can take advantage of the many great technologies to ensure the hotel that we work for is getting a fair share of direct reservations.

How Hotels increase RevPar with online guest surveys

How Hotels increase RevPar with online guest surveys

Most hotels spend hundreds and in some cases thousands of euros every month on ensuring that they promote their website either with google AdWords campaigns, SEO optimisation, and general online marketing techniques.  This is good practice, but Google has been saying over the last few years that REVIEWS to them matter and have been making it key that Hotels focus in this area.

So how can online guests surveys increase RevPar?  

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Reviews Matter

Google invites anyone who cares to post a review of any business that they have used. Who cares most? People who have had a bad experience. We estimate that a dissatisfied guest is up to twenty times more likely to post a review.

Studies too numerous to mention, as well as massive amounts of anecdotal evidence, show the effect reviews have on guest behavior. Great reviews drive RevPar, bad reviews drive guests away.

Combine those two factors alone and it rapidly becomes apparent how important it is for all businesses to engage where reviews are concerned.

Google – the major player

This has been (and continues) a major subject for debate. Google has not made life easy for any of us: constantly moving the goal posts. But what is now called Google My Business is well on its way to becoming the dominant force in reviews, for a host of reasons, here are just some which stand out…

  • Verification: since Google introduced mandatory registration all Google reviews are attached to a verified account (YouTube, Google+, Gmail etc.).
  • Coverage: Google provides a ‘one stop shop’ for reviews – of any business or service. Guests will soon tire of looking up different specialist sites depending on what kind of reviews they need.
  • Ease: once registered, writing subsequent reviews is simple.
    Google is the gatekeeper: their reviews will always be shown before any others
    The new Google layout: providing much more information about each individual business, by default this drives other review sites down below the fold (or onto page two – the graveyard)

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So if Google is focusing on Reviews, are they enhancing the visibility of those hotels in their searches who have great reviews, which leads to a higher level of reservations and increase in RevPar?……..You Bet!

1). More reviews = better Search Engine Rankings

Hotels using online surveys have significantly more reviews, and the search engines eat this up. Search engine algorithms are fine tuned to pick up nuances in score and number of reviews. In search world dominated by OTAs, this can make the difference in whether a hotel appears for its own brand.

2). More reviews = increased confidence with travelers

The volume of reviews influences the level of trust a traveler has in the feedback. The difference between a hotel that has 300 reviews and a hotel that has 3,000 reviews is noticeable unless scores are the highest of the high.

3). Higher rankings (Enough said!)

Anything that pushes up rankings is pure gold for hotels in this day and age when 95% of travelers use reviews to make a booking decision. Hotelient surveys easily integrate with your website and can be pushed out to third-party travel sites to help drive higher rankings exactly where you need them.

4). Surveys = guiding the conversation

On review sites, the traveler controls the conversation; in a survey scenario, the hotel guides the conversation. Choosing which questions to ask and how they are asked can influence the way travelers recall their experiences and how they respond. Actionable feedback is still the goal, but framing a survey so that it taps into a traveler’s positive experiences at the very beginning makes sense.  Once completed, the guest will view a short video either in response to a positive review or a negative one.

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Now many hoteliers express resistance regarding post-stay guest surveys; they say it risks the hotel becoming a nuisance. Hotelient suggests that hotels reconsider surveys as a guest service rather than a request—and they really can be, when presented the right way.

Hotelient has touted the benefits of surveys, knowing there’s a reward to hotels reaching out proactively for guest feedback. Just the act of sending a survey lets guests know you care, and when surveys are sent within 48 hours of departure which can also be done automatically saving your team time, guests are still fresh on the experience, making them better able and, perhaps, more willing to give feedback.

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But what about Tripadvisor, is there any correlation between reviews and their ranking on their site? 

In the table that follows, hotels that rank across the spectrum, calculated the number of reviews each has and then divided that by the number of rooms. This gives a figure that enables you to fairly compare any hotel with another.

Ranking Reviews per room per year

Top 10 –  7.4

Top 25 –  4.3

Top 50 –  2.2

75 –  1.4

100  – 1.1

250  – 0.7

500  – 0.5

750 –  0.3

The key question is: can we draw any conclusions from these numbers?

Yes. The more reviews you can get the better your ranking on Tripadvisor & Google will be.

For every hotel? Yes. in one of two ways:

  • You can invest in better facilities and staff training and invite reviews, or…
  • You can invest a fraction of that amount in a professional review management system and invite reviews

Hotelient Reputation Surveys will:

  • Get you more positive reviews to TripAdvisor, Google & Facebook (at least 25% more – based on results for our clients)
  • Enable you to manage at least 75% of the negative reviews you are currently receiving before they are ever posted to TripAdvisor, Google & Facebook
  • Without any radical restructuring in-hotel, you begin to get more positive reviews per year per room, and your ranking begins to climb which leads to increase in RevPar

Hotelient is also offering the following Summer offer:-

If you contract our reputation package before the 31st October 2015, we will design, configure and host for your hotel  a fully customizable App ready for Iphone and Android Smartphones completely FREE and with no hidden charges or obligations.

If you would like to find out more call +44 (0)203 287 1276 or email info@hotelient.net

How Hotels & Resorts can learn from FC Barcelona to reap rewards in Social Media

How Hotels & Resorts can learn from FC Barcelona to reap rewards in Social Media

Barça became the first sports club on the planet to reach 100 million fans on social media by February 2014.   At the time, Barça was attracting, on average, more than 100,000 new followers every single day among its 30 official channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.  These spectacular numbers are proof that they aren’t betting on a single channel, but rather they are looking for users wherever they may be. Barça doesn’t wait for its fans to come to it; Barça goes out and finds them.

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Their strategy was concentrated into 3 areas a) Creating content adapted to each territory through the Club’s international websites b) Utilizing social media as a platform for distributing this content; and generating engagement — commitment — through the employment of mobile apps, promotional marketing, and c) management of the global community of FCB fans. Their digital strategy was strengthened in November 2011 with the inauguration of their new web platform. It featured a fresh design and a broader structure supporting more than 6,000 pages, giving Barça fans everywhere a cutting-edge source of information and enjoyment. The new websites in Catalan, Spanish and English kept up their growth in the ensuing months while the Club incorporated sites in several new languages. The first was Chinese in June 2012, followed by French and Arabic one month later, Japanese in December of the same year, Indonesian in May 2013 and, finally, Portuguese in October 2013. By then, the platform consisted of sites in nine different languages with content specially adapted for each country or region. The launch of each site brought with it new social media profiles that could promote social networking, most importantly on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

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So how can Hotels & Resorts learn from FC Barcelona when implementing their Social Media strategy? Know where to find your audience Look at which nationalities visit your hotel or visiting your competitors and start connecting with them in their language across the social media platforms that THEY use.  With the many great CRM options for independent hotels these days, ensure that your website is in their language, so they can easily find out about the offers and services you provide for their specific nationality and customs as well as the great activities that they can enjoy within your local area.

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Content is King Offer insights on whats it like to stay at the hotel, maybe a video of behind the scenes of a wedding, or your why not share the recipe of your chef´s signature dish.  Celebrate your clients national festive days as well as offering insights in what is going on  around your community.  Focus on encouraging engagement, and extending the value for your clients.  Make sure you share the great content you are generating across all social platforms in your clients language

Go Mobile A great way to connect with your guests is through mobile apps by generating engagement and commitment through the employment of promotional marketing in real-time.  Push notifications have over 90% readability rates, far higher than any other marketing medium.  By incentivizing your guests to download your app from the moment they have booked a room, will allow you to connect with them in a totally new format that they will appreciate.  Who today does not use a smartphone or use a APP?

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By utilizing this strategy, Hotels can make their themselves far more discoverable, reach a far greater audience, enhance the guest experience and improve customer loyalty.  FC Barcelona maybe leading the way in the amount of fans, but hotels can learn from them and be just as successful. Struggling to gain visibility in Social media or do not have the budget or man power?   Do not worry, we can help you get up and running, with the right configuration and a little know how, Social media can become a powerful tool. Email us at info@hotelient.net for more information.

Hoteliers need to do more to connect with 70% of UK market study finds

Hoteliers need to do more to connect with 70% of UK market study finds

A recent study by Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising sales division of Expedia, Inc., analyzed online travel content consumption and booking across devices and audience segments in the U.K. The findings should provoke a wake up call for hotels and Resorts to update their marketing strategy and reflect the conversion to mobile that is currently taking place if the UK market is an important source of guests.

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“No matter how much focus you’ve given mobile to this point, you can still do more. Data from Google suggests that 100% of all the growth in search volume now comes from mobile. More than half of all smartphone users sleep with their devices, for fear of missing out on emails, calls, texts, and tweets. As a result, mobile often represents the first experience guests will have with your property. And for most hotels, that mobile experience — from discovery, research, and booking, through on-property and loyalty — has plenty of room for improvement to attract and retain guests.”

–Tim Peter, Digital Marketing Expert, Tim Peter & Associates

Commissioned by Expedia Media Solutions and conducted by comScore, the study found that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the 48 million people in the U.K. is engaging with digital content across smartphones, tablets and PCs are interacting with travel-related content. The total U.K. travel audience in mobile is equal to that of PC, as mobile device ownership and usage continues to grow. The study further revealed that smartphone users in the U.K. are the most likely to access travel content in a given month. With these findings in mind, there is an increasing opportunity for hoteliers to reach customers in the U.K. across smartphones, tablets and PCs.

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PC usage remains high, but mobile device ownership continues to rise in the U.K. (outpacing the U.S.), pointing to the importance for marketers to employ multiscreen strategies to reach audiences across devices.

Three out of four U.K. travelers own all three types of devices – PC, smartphone and tablet – up from one out of two U.K. travelers in 2014
Nearly half of the travel audience in the U.K. engages with travel on both their PC and mobile devices each month
Among the 25 million U.K. consumers using mobile devices to access travel content monthly, 70 percent access travel content only via smartphone; 14 percent use both smartphone and tablet
The majority of U.K. users access all of the travel categories—including travel information, ground/cruise, hotels/resorts, online travel agents, airlines, car rental, and travel—via PC, however more than one-fourth of the total travel audience only accesses travel content through their mobile device.
Mobile devices are being used by the U.K. travel audience across all travel stages – from researching to planning to shopping to during a trip – but marketers need to understand how content engagement varies between tablets and smartphones.

The majority of mobile users in the U.K. are engaging with travel content on their mobile devices via the browser; 66 percent of smartphone users and 81 percent of tablet users access travel content exclusively via the browser
While the mobile browser drives the travel experience, mobile apps are still important to this audience with 21 percent of smartphone users and 10 percent of tablet users accessing travel content only through the app
In the U.K., tablet usage is consistently leveraged across all travel stages – researching destinations (51 percent), shopping for air and hotel (41 percent), planning trip activities (48 percent) and during a trip (42 percent); the U.K. audience is much more engaged with tablets across all travel stages compared to the U.S. audience.

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U.K. consumers are making significantly more online purchases on tablets than they did the prior year – tablet travel transactions are following pace and are expected to increase even more in the next year.

Over one-third (36 percent) of tablet owners in the U.K. have booked travel on their tablet while one-sixth (16 percent) have booked via their smartphone in the past six months.
When looking at different travel segments, the luxury traveler is more likely to book travel on both the tablet (64 percent) and smartphone (35 percent) than the family, budget or business traveler.
Nine out of 10 travelers in the U.K. who have booked on a tablet plan to book again, and six out of 10 travelers who have booked on smartphone plan to do so again.
U.K. travelers are consuming more content across the travel category, and are more likely to browse travel content for fun – the key for hoteliers is relevant and captivating experiences.

In the U.K. 18 percent of mobile owners intentionally clicked on a mobile ad, primarily because they found the ad relevant to a product or service of interest or it caught their attention.
Also, 21 percent of U.K. tablet users are more likely to see and intentionally click on ads compared to 13 percent of smartphone users.
U.K. business travelers were significantly more likely to intentionally click on mobile ads than other groups, regardless of device.
“Mobile adoption is showing no sign of slowing, and people are getting even savvier with how they are using tablets and smartphones for travel content consumption and booking,” said Noah Tratt, global senior vice president of media solutions at Expedia, Inc. “Using these insights, marketers can better understand U.K. travel audience behaviors across devices and better identify effective points of engagement on each device and during any stage of the of the travel experience.”

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Conclusion:- It is clear that Hoteliers who wish to target UK travelers have to engage with them via the mobile, which is why an optimized webs sites is just a first step. Apps and a clear content marketing strategy is also a key requisite as the study shows.