Hotelient seeking to disrupt the internet booking engine market

Hotelient seeking to disrupt the internet booking engine market

From €2000 per month in `booking engine fees to zero in less than five years while increasing direct bookings.

Yes, we know of one small 10 room boutique hotel in central London that was paying an average monthly fee of around €2000 per month to its booking engine provider. Today, Hotelient can service that need without charging commissions or a monthly subscription.

It used to be normal for software providers to charge a setup fee, a percentage of the booking and if they could get away with it, a maintenance fee.

With the advent of cloud computing, the cost of technology has plummeted, a bit like the London FTSE the day after Brexit. The only difference is that, unlike the FTSE index, the prices suppliers can charge hotels for technology will not recover.

The ongoing trend has been to lower the costs which are welcome news for all hoteliers.

Hoteliers have a desire to increase their direct online business. The first step is investing in a booking engine. There are some booking engines currently available on the market that, for a modest monthly fee can be integrated within your website. However, these tend to be limited in flexibility and often become outdated relatively quickly as technology advances. The costs can quickly rack up for a fully featured booking engine with a CRS and connectivity to all channels.

Furthermore, hotels are starting to realise that their online reputation is becoming an essential part of their marketing strategy. No longer is it enough just to rely exclusively on Tripadvisor as they are also targeting your guests to transact through their website, sell your rooms and charge you for the privilege of you sending them your prospect to see your reviews. That’s the best case scenario. Worse case, your prospect could end up booking with a competitor on Trip Advisor, thanks to you sending them there. A brilliant business model for Trip Advisor stockholders. Not so good for hotels.

Hotels should have a business process in place to follow up with guests and ask for feedback. They need an easy way to monitor and respond to reviews while making sure that positive sentiment is shared on the review sites that matter and social media. Ideally, this should be automated to avoid mistakes and to minimise costs. Set and forget reputation management and marketing.

The costs of guest acquisition have been steadily increasing while the cost of booking engines have been drifting down.

Hotelient is disrupting the booking engine market by offering hotels a booking engine that is commission and subscription free. The underlying booking engine technology is already in use with several hundred hotels ranging from 5-star city centre hotels to independent resorts. A number of hotel groups also rely on the technology.

Hotelient advocates that hotels should be investing in the attraction of guests to their web site rather than investing in technology which completes a transaction. Our new booking engine includes an industry-leading CRS that offers connectivity to OTA’s and GDS. The guest interface has been refined over several years to allow the guest to complete their transaction with the minimum of clicks on a desktop and mobile platforms. Hotelient works with its clients on guest acquisition strategies email marketing, reputation, targeted Facebook and Google ad-campaigns.

Hotelient founder John Kearney, said “Hotels by nature are slow to change technology. We still see some hotels on an outdated commission model paying thousands of euros per year. That all changes today. They can adopt our proven technology, without risk. We have created a strategy for hoteliers to optimise their direct bookings. Fundamentally the cost of booking engines has been coming down over the last few years to reach a point where offering this as free service is the next logical step. It is part of our strategy to increase our client base across Europe and the US. When you offer potential guests a seamless booking experience, with social proof at the point of booking, you maximise your direct booking potential. We also see an opportunity educating hotels on how they can drive relevant low-cost traffic to their branded website and receive direct commission/subscription free bookings.

Attend our webinar where you will discover how to obtain our “free for life booking engine technology,” and how to easily increase your average review rating in a week, without increasing your service levels.

If you would like to find out more, come and join our Webinar on the 26th July at 11 am clicking this link.

Is your hotel in need of a comprehensive marketing strategy to lower your hotel’s dependency on OTAs? Get in touch with us at info@hotelient.net

 

How to spot a dodgy reputation optimization company with 3 simple questions and keep TripAdvisor´s Steve Kaufer happy!

How to spot a dodgy reputation optimization company with 3 simple questions and keep TripAdvisor´s Steve Kaufer happy!

As Steve Kaufer CEO of Tripadvisor mentioned in his recent letter (see below) to hotel owners and managers that there are a number of companies in the market place that are promoting to hotels, offering  you lots of fake positive reviews on Tripadvisor instantly, without contacting a single original guest.

Companies like Tripadvisor are now actively clamping down on this type of activity called “Reputation Optimization”. This could lead to your account being suspended by Tripadvisor and other sites.  In order to help you spot one of these dodgy companies, I have come up with these 3 questions that you should ask them:-

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1.Will your company get my hotel higher up the Trip Advisor listings?

The answer  is no.  The only way to improve your rating on Tripadvisor is by your staff & marketing team being proactive, and asking your clients who have stayed at your hotel to write a review on their stay.  What you can do is direct your guests to leave their reviews on Tripadvisor and Google.  This can be simplified by using feedback pages and auto responders.  By organically growing the quantity & quality of reviews  to Tripadvisor & Google, you can improve your rankings and visibility. Ranking well on Google and Tripadvisor will help you get more bookings, as both of these channels allow guests to make reservations. This is how reputable companies like Hotelient help their customers.

2. How much will you charge me for each positive review to bump up my Trip Advisor rating?

You should NOT be charged for positive reviews. Every review you receive should be from a genuine hotel guest.  When someone leaves your hotel a great review on Tripadvisor or Google, it is because your team has worked hard to earn it!  What hotels should be doing is shouting a bit louder about their great feedback.  Reviews should be posted on your Web Pages, social media networks. Smarter hotels use companies like Hotelient to create review commercials for them to share on You Tube, social media etc.. Telling the world how great your hotel is, and by using creative ways to spread the word about your great reviews will result in you attracting more customers to your hotel.

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3.Is there any way I can get into trouble for engaging you to artificially bump up my reviews?

The answer is YES! Review sites like Tripadvisor will take the strongest action possible against you and the company you have paid for false reviews. Your hotel could be suspended by Tripadvisor and other sites which will have a detrimental affect on your hotel.  If Tripadvisor see that you suddenly have an abnormal amount of positive reviews over a short period of time, alarm bells will start to ring and they will investigate whether the reviews are genuine or not.  If your reviews are legitimate then you have nothing to worry about, but is they find your reviews come from an IP address in an unusual location for instance..then you’re in trouble!! Best practise is to implement a process to get a review from every single guest that stays at your hotel.

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Your hotels Reputation online is extremely important to increasing RevPar and continued guest satisfaction.

Companies like Hotelient info@hotelient.net, that offer Reputation Management & Marketing solutions will provide your hotel with feedback pages, auto responder’s and other tools targeted at your guests to encourage them to leave genuine reviews and feedback. This is the way to do it!! Be very careful that you do not engage with a company offering you fast solutions by providing fake reviews, it could end up costing you very dearly and your hotel may not recover from a suspension on Tripadvisor and other social media  outlets. Genuine reviews from  genuine guests obtained by the hotel through their own feedback system supplied by a reputable Reputation Management and Marketing company is the key to success.

If you would like to find out more on how Reputation Marketing solutions can help your hotel, visit our web or email info@hotelient.net

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

5 quick steps to generate video content for your hotel without hurting your marketing budget

5 quick steps to generate video content for your hotel without hurting your marketing budget

Two things future guests look for most when researching hotels for their next trip: photos and video. Video is by far the best way in showing travelers what your hotel or resort looks like and what they can expect upon arrival. It allows your guests to feel confident their cash will be well spent at your hotel.

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Are you the Sales or Marketing Director for a hotel? Here are easy 5 tips to generate video content for your property:

1. Invite guests to submit video reviews of your hotel. Customer reviews can be the most vital selling point you have. This will allow researching travelers to access a well-rounded source of information about your hotel. You can even help them on the way by getting your reception team to record it for them.

2. Make the most of property slideshows, photos and videos. Sell your hotel or Resort as well as surrounding area to the researching future guest, with photos and video of your property — from the pool, to guest rooms, to the lobby and fitness center. Let them see it all.

3. Inspire guests with your videos. Don’t simply show them the inside of your hotel or Resort, but the outside as well. Is your hotel over looking the beach or has great views of a golf course? That may be your number one selling point. Use videos to help clients imagine spending their holiday on the white sandy beaches outside your hotel. Are you located in a major city centre? Perhaps you’re located in a quiet mountain town. Whatever your location, use your surroundings as a selling point to future guests.

4. Avoid setting false expectations. As much as you want to inspire your guests and sell your property as the best in the area, you do not want to set up false expectations. If your property isn’t a five star hotel or resort, don’t sell it like it is. Focus on the realistic selling points and pros of your property without giving customers the expectation they will have an experience they simply won’t get at your location. If your hotel is more of a conference center than a resort, that’s OK! But tell it like it is.

5. Share content from industry experts. Travel authors and consultants can be an incredible resource at your disposal. Search out trusted travel personalities and collaborate with them to create video content around a creative topic that you will both be able to share online via your web or social pages. A few ideas of topics: Travel tips, top 5 things to do when visiting your city, best restaurants in town. Consider the topics prospective guests might be interested in when planning a holiday and create video around those topics.

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Always remember that when creating video content for your hotel, your mantra should be: “Show, don’t tell.” Create content that is more than people talking about your property. Show your guests what they will experience when they book at your location, rather than telling them. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Does everyone know about your great guest reviews?

Does everyone know about your great guest reviews?

As Hoteliers, we have always based importance on what our clients think of your quality of service and experience.  From the paper questionnaire that was reviewed by the general manager on a weekly basis at the heads of department meeting to connecting your reviews to providers such as Reviewpro to ensure you are monitoring the great feedback from your guests both online & offline.  This has always been a major part of any hotel management strategy.  It is imperative for any General Manager to be make sure that they the hotel is receiving great reviews which in turn will provide new clients with the confidence to book with you.  Some GM´s even have bonuses linked to level of guest satisfaction.

This is all great, but why don´t hotels actively market the great reviews they receive?

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A relatively new concept, but also a very powerful one.  Hotels should actively look for clients that can become their salespeople.  Are there better advocates for your brand that happy satisfied customers?

Online reputation has become the most significant single factor affecting the number of reservations that you receive from search engine traffic. In the UK, over 90% of that traffic originates from Google search, and over half of that traffic comes from mobile devices. 2014 was the year that Google declared that when its users search for a hotel or resort, it is going to suggest the best rated according to its user reviews.

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So how can Hotels and Resorts get ahead of the curve?  Reputation Marketing works by helping you build a stellar online reputation, then creating engaging content from reviews and posting to a range social media and websites.  Now that Google is becoming like Tripadvisor to hotels & resorts, you will attract clients who were originally checking out your competition.  So by getting your reviews out there, your clients when searching you on the media of there choice, will encounter what your guests are saying about your hotel.  By ensuring that you are getting the reviews into Google+ page,  you are also maximizing your visibility in searches which as I said before is key if you want to be first in google hotel location searches.

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Hotelient can provide your hotel with the tools and the know how to get you up and running to starting receiving and promoting the great client comments. We can make it easy for your clients to promote the great review they have given you.  We can also help you in promoting these reviews across all channels whilst filtering out the negative ones, so what your prospective customers see is not just a great looking hotel but also great reviews that they are viewing on the channel of their choice.

Building your brand through reputation marketing, now thats clever!

Call or email us for further information.