Generating revenue from your hotel´s FREE WIFI will be key in 2017

Generating revenue from your hotel´s FREE WIFI will be key in 2017

For hotels and resorts over the last few years have always been faced with the same issue, which is the urgent need to improve their WIFI infrastructure so their guests can enjoy their favourite series on Netflix, upload and download photos or videos without waiting an age for the task to be completed.  Hotels, in general, have been extremely lax in providing quality of service, as the cost to improve the infrastructure could never be offset by the revenue it could generate.   Some hotels charge for the service which is not desirable, as according to Hotels.com who released a survey which stated that free WiFi was the most desired in-room amenity.  Also, from the moment of check-in, either you are giving a small piece of paper with a password on it, or written on your key card folder, or you are provided access without the need to introduce a password.  As we move forward into an era in which a guest will be able to check in, open their room door and pay their bill from their smartphone, interaction with your reception staff will become less and less especially in business hotels.

Bearing this all in mind then, how can a hotel generate revenue from their hotel’s FREE WIFI service?

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The answer is using Social WIFI technology.  So how does it work, let’s take it in 3 easy steps:-

Access

Providing simple and easy access to your FREE WIFI service is key.  By allowing your guest to sign in one time only to your service using their favourite social media channel which in the majority of cases will Facebook or just completing a simple form, whether a guest speaks with your reception staff of not, they will able to gain access quickly to your WIFI.  Clients will be encouraged as well to connect to your social media pages, which automatically increases your fan base and also provides increased visibility.  Guests will also be accustomed to connecting to WIFI using this method especially in Travel where this technology exists in the majority of airports across the world

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Analyse

Now, while your guest is enjoying your high-speed internet access, you are gaining an insight into your guests.  Demographics, guests interests, how long do your clients spend online and email addresses to name a few.  The statistics gleaned from your guests connecting to your WIFI service will allow you to be more targeted with marketing campaigns as well as design offers and services that suit more your guest requirements.  However data collection is only one part, you will also be able to see where in your hotel or resort guests are connecting to your service, how they move around your hotel which will allow you to correctly position marketing for promotions or events that will be taking place at your hotel or improve signage or layouts.  You will also be able to identify and collect data from conference attendees, Diners at your restaurant or spa users even if they are non-residents.  Again sourcing this information will allow you personalise your marketing campaigns.

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Action

So your guests are connected to your WIFI and you an understanding better your guest’s interests and requirements.  Now, it’s time to take action.  Here´s how.  Firstly, right from the sign-up page, you can promote any events or special promotions that your are currently offering.  By knowing at what time of day the majority of your guests are connected, you can also send via email and SMS personalised messages.   You can make them aware of what is going on at your hotel or just simply ask them to provide feedback on their stay which you can encourage them to share on Google, Facebook or Tripadvisor.  Another avenue to generate revenue is to allow companies that have products displays within your resort the ability to promote their offers via your WIFI.

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In summary, by using Social WIFI technology, not only are you making easier for your guests to connect, you are gaining a data capture & marketing tool that will allow you to understand your clients better as well improve your TrevPar revenue and direct bookings.  There is clear data to suggest that we are in the final days of rate parity across Europe, so it is imperative that any hotel or resort is wishing to build an extensive database of users to encourage them to book direct, Social WIFI should be an essential part of this.

If you would like to discuss with us how Social Wifi and generate revenue for your hotel, email info@hotelient.net.

 

 

Why Independent Hoteliers should take note of hotel chains direct booking´s drive

Why Independent Hoteliers should take note of hotel chains direct booking´s drive

Over the past few months, we have started to see a shift in sentiment and resources from the major hotel chains to encourage their clients to book directly.  Loyalty programs that were once afterthoughts and in some cases did not have any meaningful benefits to its members are starting to be restructured to encourage and help guests, that chose to book from the brand website.  Over the past year, we had begun seeing compelling new ads from the chains actively seeking this, when once they were slightly cautious of going up against the all powerful Priceline & Expedia.  So much so that the former CEO of Priceline recently came out with warnings for the major chains, focusing on getting their guests to book directly, clearly a nerve has been touched.

Changing Times ahead

Hotel chains are focusing on direct bookings is due to a variety of reasons.

  1. Lower dependency on OTA´s
  2. Competition by OTA´s on loyalty programs,
  3. Millennials – with up to 64 percent stating that they sometimes book directly on supplier sites (Source: Phocuswright).
  4. More and more Business travelers are booking direct, 39% in the UK 33% in France and 35% in Germany and
  5. Potential threat from Airbnb.

We also see chains like Accor, openly targeting independent hotels to join their franchise programs.  With the technological purchases of companies such as Fastbooking they have made over the last 12-18 months, can now offer a credible offering to independent hotels looking to compete in the online travel space.  Accor´s CEO interview late last year is a compelling read

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As consolidation within the hotel industry continues apace, Marriott´s & Starwood merger can now offer the biggest selection of hotels who can benefit from their revamped loyalty program which drives direct bookings.  We are starting to see that not only loyalty program members getting free nights and other perks, such as free high-speed WIFI but also it allows the hotel chains to personalize pricing and marketing too.

Expedia must have seen the writing on the wall by the fact that Hilton & Marriott recent agreement with them no longer guarantees Last room Availability as well as a reduction in margins.  This has allowed the chains also to be bolder in actively targeting direct bookings.

Age of dependency for Independent Hotels

So for the independent hotelier, as I covered in a previous article are still sleepwalking into an age of increased dependency.  This though can be reversed if you take heed and start to learn from the chains, who are starting to take the OTA´s head on as well as introducing common sense practices to increase your direct bookings.

In reality, it could well be as loyalty programs become stronger along with the immense driving power of Marriott and their investment in content marketing strategies as well as personalized marketing, for some hotels in particular locations, joining as a franchise hotel to a chain could become the straightforward choice.

But what about if you want to remain independent, to provide that unique personal experience and differentiate from the rest?

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Then your choice could not be simpler.  You as a hotel have to map urgently out a clear marketing strategy that includes the answers to the following questions:-

  • Can Users find me online?
  • Does my web make it easy for a guest to book me?
  • Am I capturing guest data in the right way?
  • What am I doing to promote my brand online?
  • How to I communicate with my guests?
  • What incentive do I offer them to book direct?
  • What am I doing to convert OTA reservations into Direct ones?

Where I believe hotels, in general, have failed to do is to create value for their customers in the way they find you online and booking process for hotel rooms, with many solutions still aimed at appeasing the revenue manager rather than the client.

If hoteliers are going to start to turn the dial away from increased dependency, they firstly have to connect with guests and connect with the non-residents who already have an existing relationship with your hotel.  Technologies like Social WIFI and concierge apps are excellent tools in this area.

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Talking with a host of general managers, it is clear they pride themselves on the quality of service they provide to their guests.  It is something in their DNA which keeps them at the hotel to ensure that the Wedding or events goes off without a hitch and view those smiling happy faces of the participants.  Where independent hoteliers have failed though is showing the same pride for the first impression your give to any prospective client and which more and more of your guests are using – ONLINE 

The Major chains are starting the fight back, keep paying attention and learn how your hotel too can start moving the dial back in your direction, or risk becoming even more dependent on intermediaries and probably even irrelevant in the future.

Talk to our team at Hotelient today and let us help you devise your online fight back strategy! Email info@hotelient.net for further information.

 

 

 

 

5 Simple steps that help promote your destination and increase your RevPar

5 Simple steps that help promote your destination and increase your RevPar

Travellers are always looking for that something special, the lure of a swimming pool next to a bar that served Mojito´s to pictures of beautifully cooked food or it could just be that they fall in love with a hotels walk-in therapeutic shower.   For the traveller that is seeking inspiration or just a getaway from the daily stresses, they need to be captivated by what they see not only inside your hotel but also what is going on in your local area.

Having worked in hotels, one of our hardest battles is promoting the many great activities that take place in and around us.  There is so much going on all the time, but to ensure your hotel is up to date is always difficult when there are so many other priorities.  So how does a hotel provide a potential guest with that intoxicating view that makes them want to book that magical holiday or weekend break?

Here are five simple solutions that technology can you help

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1. HD Webcam

Webcams have been around for a while now, but taking a continuous image of your best view from afar such as your swimming pool, view over the city or iconic monuments can set you apart from your competition.  Guests like to feel they are already there.  What is a better story than showing off your beautiful weather with your guests diving into the crystal blue water of your swimming pool!  This technology can be embedded into your website, and as all the images are saved,  they can be used in any marketing material or just shared on to your social media.  Some great content to drive engagement.  In this video below, you can see some examples of time lapse videos that auto-generated, which could be the perfect tool for that Mice agent looking for examples on how your hotel prepare events!

2. Virtual Concierge

Providing up to date information has always proved challenging, with then the task of having to get that information on to your web and other channels.   Guests, once they have identified a possible destination like to research and see what is going on around your hotel, so the more information you provide, the more chance you have of convincing them to choose you.  For a city like London, which has numerous tourist attractions. It is imperative that Hotels keep up to date information on their website.  Companies like fiz.com offer hotels solutions in searching automatically and curating locally based content, which could save you a lot of time and resources.

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3. Smartphone Apps

Once a client has reserved at your hotel, they are most likely to download your concierge app and discover the many great services you have to offer.  I have covered this functionality in a previous article.  The main attraction being that you can communicate with your guest via Push notifications, which at present have 90% readability rates, much higher than any email campaign, in order inform of any events taking place in your hotel or surrounding area.

4.Virtual Reality (VR)

Still a relatively new concept, but will allow your guests to experience first-hand what it is like to be on your terrace bar at night time with views overlooking Times Square, or what is a wedding would be like at your resort.  We are already seeing destination bureaus starting to use this technology to get travellers a feel of what it is like in their part of the world.  Marriott has already launched “VRoom Service,” which allows guests (Currently only available at New York Marriott Marquis and the London Marriott Park Lane) to order a Samsung Gear VR headset, which is brought up to their room for 24 hours. The devices, which run on Samsung’s Milk VR platform, come pre-loaded with three videos that Marriott is calling “VR postcards.” which promotes destinations such as Chile & Bejing.

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5. A Blog

We have seen hotels slowly start to curate content on guest experiences within the local area.  I believe that this is something all your staff can take part in, not writing the articles but provide opinions of local restaurants or recent visits to local monuments or museums, just make sure they take photos and videos of their experience.  Airbnb is leading the way and has been highly successful about sharing experiences of cities or locations from a guest perspective.  Marriott also launched there Traveller magazine traveler.marriott.com.  This recent article goes into more detail on how to help you build a content marketing strategy.

I am sure you can think of other ways; the main thing though is that hotels & resorts have to be more adept in the way they promote their local area by being proactive and offering travellers visually compelling arguments coupled with useful information and personal experiences.  After a stressful week at work, we sometimes need to be carried off to the place that takes us away from our daily routine.  Ensure that your hotel & resort make it easy for them to get there.

If you are interested in finding out more, email us info@hotelient.net or visit www.hotelient.net.

 

 

Is bidroom.com, Europe’s fastest growing OTA about to disrupt Booking.com and Expedia’s stranglehold, by connecting hotels directly with guests?

Is bidroom.com, Europe’s fastest growing OTA about to disrupt Booking.com and Expedia’s stranglehold, by connecting hotels directly with guests?

As Priceline and Expedia continue their consolidation as the two dominant Ota´s, who are currently at present purchasing up all their competitors around them.  Dependency for hotels on these two major companies will continue, especially if the rumors of Priceline´s possible acquisition of Tripadvisor prove to come true.  So it was a breath of fresh air when I caught up with Michael Ros and Casper Knieriem who are the founders of a new and exciting company called Bidroom.com, offering hotels the opportunity to gain lower commissions reservations, which in some cases could be less than what hotels are paying for receiving bookings directly online.

I sat down with Michael & Casper to find out more:-

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Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

We are both entrepreneurs with a proven track record in the hospitality and travel industry. Having already founded a successful travel company together, TravelService, we possess a wealth of insider knowledge about the hotel sector and plenty of passion for driving the business forward.

(Michael) I have a lot of experience in negotiating at a corporate business level. I started my first company when I was 18. From the age of 24 I worked for four years for a large international enterprise and was responsible for a turnover of 45 million euros per year. After that, I founded the online travel agency Travelservice.

(Casper) After studying Business Administration at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam,  I started my outsourcing company for financial services, which I sold in 2007.  I also founded the online travel agency Travelservice along with Michael.

Foto Bidroom founders

How receptive have hoteliers been to Bidroom? 

Hotels are fed up with high commissions, restrictive contracts, and loss of control of their brands, and are desperate for alternatives to these domineering OTAs. Bidroom is the solution, allowing hotels to offer lower prices direct to customers and yet make more profit – a win-win for both sides. Bidroom can become the ‘white knight’ of a stressed industry, as well as the cheapest booking channel for guests.  Bidroom disrupts the high commission model by introducing a standard 2% commission for all hotels. Due to our exceptionally small fee, hotels all over the world have been eager to join our platform. Every day we are getting around 100 – 150 hotels who are signing up!

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-03 a las 19.50.19

What has been your progress to date?

We have launched a minimum viable product in January 2014 and received extensive press coverage and an overwhelmingly positive reaction from both hotels and customers. Since the launch, we have received international press coverage and was nominated for the Accenture Innovation Award, Sprout Challenger Award, Zoover Awards, and The Next Web Startup Awards.

There is clearly a need for a platform such as Bidroom. The pilot website covered only 60 cities. Hotels made over 12,000 offers to guests in 5 months – with no marketing spend at all. Bookings have been made, and we have clients who have used Bidroom several times. We have been working on a brand new website that addresses all the issues and recommendations of hotels and guests using our current pilot site, from January 2016 this new website was launched. Some figures:

Members using Bidroom: 432.000

Hotel which signed up:  +/- 12670

How are travelers discovering Bidroom?

Bidroom’s marketing is based on a cheeky but forceful message of ‘kicking out the middleman’ and getting the cheapest deals – direct from hotels. We will be the whistleblowers of this industry, following the marketing approach of companies like Transferwise.com (Foreign Exchange) and Uber. Online marketing will include Facebook advertising and promotions. Offline marketing will include in-flight magazines, trade fairs and guerrilla marketing campaigns.

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-03 a las 19.48.50

About Bidroom

Bidroom provides a platform that connects travelers in need of a hotel with hotels in need of guests. A platform that stands for simplicity, flexibility, and openness. A platform that brings an end to the hidden costs and hassle of traditional booking websites. No more frustration from comparing prices on multiple sites and searching the internet for the best deals. With Bidroom, guests always know they are receiving the lowest available rate for their booking.  Users are granted a direct overview of the prices listed on competitor websites so that they can make the right choice. Transparency is the core principle behind Bidroom.

We are on a mission to reinvent the way consumers book their stay. We believe that consumers always deserve the best prices. We believe hotels have the right to remain in control of their inventory and pricing. We strive to make the world of online booking a little easier by putting guests directly into contact with hotels.

Bidroom is a revolutionary hotel booking platform that connects travelers directly to hotels at no cost, so both sides get a better deal. Currently, when guests book a hotel online, up to 25 percent of the price they pay goes to the booking website, and not to the hotel. That’s just not fair, and it is time to put a stop to it. We are building Bidroom as a highly disruptive, transparent, global booking platform that is set to revolutionize the travel industry and finally create a fair, open way for customers to find great hotel deals, by decreasing removing the commission tot 2 percent and giving the middlemen the boot.

From speaking to Hotel Directors across Europe and their frustration at having little alternatives should get them signing up to companies like Bidroom over the coming months.  A new way of thinking for a new generation of reservations.

Visit Bidroom.com or email Michael michael@bidroom.com or Casper casper@bidroom.com for further information

An overview of Europe´s fastest growing OTA – Bidroom.com

An overview of Europe´s fastest growing OTA – Bidroom.com

As Priceline and Expedia continue their consolidation as the two dominant Ota´s, who are currently at present purchasing up all their competitors around them.  Dependency for hotels on these two major companies will continue, especially if the rumors of Priceline´s possible acquisition of Tripadvisor prove to come true.  So it was a breath of fresh air when I caught up with Michael Ros and Casper Knieriem who are the founders of a new and exciting company called Bidroom.com, offering hotels the opportunity to gain lower commissions reservations, which in some cases could be less than what hotels are paying for receiving bookings directly online.

I sat down with Michael & Casper to find out more:-

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-03 a las 19.49.23

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

We are both entrepreneurs with a proven track record in the hospitality and travel industry. Having already founded a successful travel company together, TravelService, we possess a wealth of insider knowledge about the hotel sector and plenty of passion for driving the business forward.

(Michael) I have a lot of experience in negotiating at a corporate business level. I started my first company when I was 18. From the age of 24 I worked for four years for a large international enterprise and was responsible for a turnover of 45 million euros per year. After that, I founded the online travel agency Travelservice.

(Casper) After studying Business Administration at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam,  I started my outsourcing company for financial services, which I sold in 2007.  I also founded the online travel agency Travelservice along with Michael.

Foto Bidroom founders

 

How receptive have hoteliers been to Bidroom? 

Hotels are fed up with high commissions, restrictive contracts, and loss of control of their brands, and are desperate for alternatives to these domineering OTAs. Bidroom is the solution, allowing hotels to offer lower prices direct to customers and yet make more profit – a win-win for both sides. Bidroom can become the ‘white knight’ of a stressed industry, as well as the cheapest booking channel for guests.  Bidroom disrupts the high commission model by introducing a standard 2% commission for all hotels. Due to our exceptionally small fee, hotels all over the world have been eager to join our platform. Every day we are getting around 100 – 150 hotels who are signing up!

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-03 a las 19.50.19

What has been your progress to date?

We have launched a minimum viable product in January 2014 and received extensive press coverage and an overwhelmingly positive reaction from both hotels and customers. Since the launch, we have received international press coverage and was nominated for the Accenture Innovation Award, Sprout Challenger Award, Zoover Awards, and The Next Web Startup Awards.

There is clearly a need for a platform such as Bidroom. The pilot website covered only 60 cities. Hotels made over 12,000 offers to guests in 5 months – with no marketing spend at all. Bookings have been made, and we have clients who have used Bidroom several times. We have been working on a brand new website that addresses all the issues and recommendations of hotels and guests using our current pilot site, from January 2016 this new website was launched. Some figures:

Members using Bidroom: 432.000

Hotel which signed up:  +/- 12670

How are travelers discovering Bidroom?

Bidroom’s marketing is based on a cheeky but forceful message of ‘kicking out the middleman’ and getting the cheapest deals – direct from hotels. We will be the whistleblowers of this industry, following the marketing approach of companies like Transferwise.com (Foreign Exchange) and Uber. Online marketing will include Facebook advertising and promotions. Offline marketing will include in-flight magazines, trade fairs and guerrilla marketing campaigns.

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-03 a las 19.48.50

About Bidroom

Bidroom provides a platform that connects travelers in need of a hotel with hotels in need of guests. A platform that stands for simplicity, flexibility, and openness. A platform that brings an end to the hidden costs and hassle of traditional booking websites. No more frustration from comparing prices on multiple sites and searching the internet for the best deals. With Bidroom, guests always know they are receiving the lowest available rate for their booking.  Users are granted a direct overview of the prices listed on competitor websites so that they can make the right choice. Transparency is the core principle behind Bidroom.

We are on a mission to reinvent the way consumers book their stay. We believe that consumers always deserve the best prices. We believe hotels have the right to remain in control of their inventory and pricing. We strive to make the world of online booking a little easier by putting guests directly into contact with hotels.

Bidroom is a revolutionary hotel booking platform that connects travelers directly to hotels at no cost, so both sides get a better deal. Currently, when guests book a hotel online, up to 25 percent of the price they pay goes to the booking website, and not to the hotel. That’s just not fair, and it is time to put a stop to it. We are building Bidroom as a highly disruptive, transparent, global booking platform that is set to revolutionize the travel industry and finally create a fair, open way for customers to find great hotel deals, by decreasing removing the commission tot 2 percent and giving the middlemen the boot.

From speaking to Hotel Directors across Europe and their frustration at having little alternatives should get them signing up to companies like Bidroom over the coming months.  A new way of thinking for a new generation of reservations.

Visit Bidroom.com or email Michael michael@bidroom.com or Casper casper@bidroom.com for further information

 

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 Facebook messenger can help increase guest satisfaction and RevPar performance

How Facebook messenger can help increase guest satisfaction and RevPar performance

Hotels have in general been slow at introducing new ways to connect and interact with their guests directly to their mobile, especially considering a vast majority of your clients are already using a smartphone daily!  Users spend more than one out of every five minutes on Facebook via their mobile.  Facebook also announced recently that more than 700 million monthly active users engage with Messenger. Think about how you communicate with your friends and family today.  From organising a night out to arranging a get together at Thanksgiving.  We have become so accustomed to Instant messaging being an important part of the way we communicate with others.

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Over the past couple of years, we have started to see major companies like Tesco, Audi and more recently El Corte Ingles in Spain beginning to use Facebook messenger as a new tool to connect with their customers.  More recently, Hyatt was the first hotel chain to announce that they were testing a new guest service channel using Facebook´s new “Businesses on messenger”, available currently only in the US

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Hotels & Resorts are also starting to be aware of a higher amount of guest interactions from a smartphone for complaints, questions or posting photos.  Clients want solutions in real time, from dealing with a complaint to booking a table in the restaurant,  or just finding out what they can explore within your local area.    Reservation confirmations, which are usually sent to emails are one-way forms of communication which don’t provide your guest an opportunity to personalise their stay further.  Facebook Messenger can also provide a better online booking experience by offering real time support for the user to navigate through the transactional parts of a booking and improving the overall user experience.   Interacting with your clients in real time is becoming a necessity for hotels, especially as it will help improve guest experience and satisfaction that leads to increased revenue performance.

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So how can you implement this into your hotel operation?

  • Which department should be responsible for responding to guests?  Offering messaging in real time needs to be available 24/7, so reception would be the logical choice.  They must ensure that the are always online on messenger, so having the page open on one of the back office computers is ideal.
  • Ensure that all your marketing material throughout the hotel, as well as online via your web, booking engines as well as your descriptions on Tripadvisor, Booking, etc., include that you provide 24/7 real-time guest support on Facebook Messenger.
  • Interact with your guests, rather than reacting will allow you to anticipate your clients wants and needs, sometimes before they even tell you!
  • Connecting with your guests on a personal and emotional level will also enable your team to build relationships and trust that will allow your hotel to increase guests satisfaction and reservations booked directly overtime.

All of us are so accustomed to using instant messaging,  so it should be only natural that hotels & resorts are exploring new ways to interact with their guests and offer that personalised experience that every hotel wants to provide.

Hoteliers should also be aware that as Google starts to become an OTA; Google Now will also be in the not too distant future, an important part of your guest communication strategy.

Hotelient provide guest marketing solutions to Hotels across Europe If you like to find out about more ways to connect to your guests and increase your RevPar performance, email info@hotelient.net for further information.

 

 

How should the independent hotelier react to the latest changes in the online travel market?

How should the independent hotelier react to the latest changes in the online travel market?

It is a fascinating time to be part of an industry that is changing day by day.  Over the last few years,  it was about the explosion onto the scene of Airbnb, Hoteltonight and meta search ads by Tripadvisor and Google, to today where Expedia buys HomeAway and  booking.com integrates with TripAdvisor’s new platform – Instant booking.  To add further confusion, over the last 12 months, some countries in Europe started to state illegal, the rate parity clause that has helped the likes of booking.com and Expedia to enjoy the strength they have today.

Exciting times ahead but when all the dust has settled, where does it leave the independent hotelier?  What is the right strategy to take over the next 12-18 months with the major brands?

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Tripadvisor

According to this recent article by tnooz.com, they are the number one visited travel site by far in the US & UK.  Their recent evolution from just being a review site to OTA has been taking place over the last few years. Tripadvisor clearly has power in our industry and the take-up of their instant booking in the US has been brisk by hotels.  Connecting to booking.com made sense, as they will getting the inventory of hotels from the rest of the world overnight,  which so far have not had access to the instant booking product.  We will also see over the next few months the other major hotel chains joining, following in the footsteps of Marriott.  At a recent conference in Asia, Tripadvisor was already signalling that they will be pushing forward quickly to implement this agreement with English speaking countries the first to be connected.  So what should you be doing to take advantage of this?  We will have to see how booking.com processes reservations from Tripadvisor.  One would expect that there will be an increase in commission to compensate for the % they are paying Tripadvisor.  If that is the case and you start to see bookings come from this particular channel, then it would make sense to connect directly with Tripadvisor, as most likely, the cost of sale will be less. Also, remove the Tripadvisor widgets from your website, do not give them free traffic, which could lead to a potential loss of direct reservations.  There are other ways to promote your reviews whilst keeping your users on your brand website.

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Google

They have been recently working on their new offering that will likely be called “Book on Google.”  At the moment, this is only available in the US and again, hotels have been signing on steadily as well as the recent deal to connect with Sabre which provides them access to 20,000 properties.  Hotels in Europe can still connect manually or through solutions such as Siteminder for their Meta Ads “Google HPA” however, this has not proved very popular with hotels, like Tripconnect wasn´t for Tripadvisor, hence the change.  We should not underestimate Google.  Should they wish to turn on the taps, they can.  They are totally dominant on Mobile, 70% of Europeans use Android, most smartphone users use Google Maps and Google search is still frequently used in hotel searches.  You should be attentive to the industry news, Will Expedia integrate with Google, now that Priceline is with Tripadvisor?  Which chain will be the first to connect?  Once book on Google gains traction, as with instant booking by Tripadvisor, your hotel should get connected.

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Trivago

They have been testing their express booking product currently testing in the German market.  Trivago´s owners – Expedia, have been very insistent on not going down the same path as Tripadvisor & Google and will maintain the cost per click meta ad model.  The cost of sale usually using this method is less for a hotel, although as their main rivals found out, not exactly the most popular with independent hotels who have to compete with OTA´s and who have limited marketing budgets.  The upside for Hotels though is that the transaction is done on your brand website and with the European market entering the post rate parity era,  should present some interesting pricing opportunities for hotels who have the budget to invest in Meta ads.

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Expedia/Priceline

With the majority of hotels according to numerous surveys enjoying over 70% dependency for all your online reservations from these two giants, this is not going to change overnight.  With Expedia´s recent acquisitions, they now own 75% share of the online travel market in the US.  What we are most likely to see over the next couple of years is the new players in the OTA space gaining traction which could force Expedia & Priceline to review the % of commission they offer your property.  Hotel revenue managers will also start to take the cost of sale into consideration when setting prices, especially in Europe where rate parity is no longer obligatory in some countries.

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HotelTonight/Booking Now

The last minute booking market is becoming enormous and the competition is getting fiercer with Priceline recently launching the Booking Now app.  Proving to be very popular is Geolocation offers with some city hotels seeing big increases in last minute bookings and the commission rates are roughly in line with other OTA´s  These are great apps for travellers who need to organise at the last minute, so if you are based in a city centre, you should make sure that your hotel is visible.   These guests are also great targets in converting to direct bookers so if they have a great experience, the next time they travel to your city they’ll more likely book directly with you.

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Airbnb

Still not quite on the hotel scene but a big hit with Millennials.  Airbnb is also starting to actively target business users. Some hotels in the US are already offering their rooms on this portal and with a 3% commission level, offers an interesting cost effective option for hoteliers.  The three big questions still to be answered though will be 1)Will Airbnb start to actively recruit hotels? 2)Will any major hotel chain sign on? 2)Will any OTA follow their strategy of charging both the client and the hotel commission? Early days but watch this space……

We are in an evolving market and it is important as an hotelier to understand these changes going on within our industry, but never lose site of the following:-  All the above companies provide your property with added visibility to drive guests to your hotel.  Your job is then to convert these guests that come through your door to book next time with you directly.  Incentivize them, take advantage of technology to capture data, make sure your web is intuitive and shows off your property with great photos and videos, and finally do not over complicate the booking process with an engine that is great for your revenue manager but your clients find long winded and slow. Read this recent article on how to improve your guest experience online.

For further information relating to this article,  email us at info@hotelient.net or visit www.hotelient.net

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.