There really isn’t any way to put a gloss on what is happening at the moment. However, it is always good to think of the positives and make the best of the situation.
We would suggest that the enforced break due to COVID-19 can be seen as an opportunity to re-envisage what you want your hotel to be. This can be difficult to do while the operations are running, moreover, it is hard to put things in place on a moving vehicle. But now it can be a time to read, learn and reflect on what you want your hotel to be. And bounce back stronger.
Here are five suggestions for what you can do.
Benjamin Franklin once said that “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”.
Taking this time to learn more about revenue management, digital marketing, and how to implement the best strategies into your business will ensure the continued safety of your hotel. Understanding this complex subject will aid you in making better business decisions.
When it comes to learning, you have the world at your fingertips. There are online courses, websites and an abundance of reading material readily available to you through your device.
In particular, we recommend this excellent Coursera online video course on ‘The Fundamentals of Revenue Management’.
If you prefer the written format, regular reading can provide excellent learning opportunities. More specifically, we can recommend the following reading on revenue management:
- 49 Tips to Supercharge your Revenue: A Practical Guide for Smaller Hotels – Ari Andricopolous
Our 49 Tips book gives readers useful advice and solutions on all things revenue management. From dynamic pricing to perceived value, this book offers a wealth of knowledge from the cutting edge of hotel marketing theory.
- Revenue Superstar!: The Simple Rules of Hotel Revenue Management – Johan Hammer
Simple, accessible and easy to read, this book from Johan Hammer explores the timeless principles of revenue management and gets you started on your journey to becoming a Revenue Superstar! This book contains practical ideas suitable for beginners and experts alike.
- Revenue Management Made Easy – Ira Vouk
Bringing a fresh view on revenue management, Ira Vouk provides simple tools that are accessible and relevant to today’s environment. With a mixture of theory and practical advice, Revenue Management Made Easy helps readers delve deeper into the world of revenue management.
And to learn about how best to manage your revenue coming out of this, we have written a blog article where we asked the experts.
2. Get the right Property Management System (PMS) in place
If you’re looking to use this time as an opportunity to re-evaluate the efficiency of your business, your best starting point is most likely your hotel Property Management System (PMS).
With your PMS handling multiple daily operations such as check-in, check-out, inventory, payment, and invoicing, it acts as the core of your business. Therefore, having the right PMS is critical to ensuring smooth running all round.
Most importantly, we would suggest that if you have not got a cloud-based PMS that has the integrations you need, then you will be going backwards over the next few years. Now is the perfect time to change PMS to one that will work in the future. Contact us for appropriate suggestions and take the opportunity to review your whole stack. Now is the time to change!
When looking for the best fit for you, there are a few things to consider:
- Your budget and your needs
There is a PMS to meet every need but being aware of your budget is an essential step in the process. By establishing a clear budget and knowing what is available to you within that, you will be able to start prioritising which features are of most value to your business. We recommend setting a top and bottom price limit for your PMS, ensuring you’re taking into account added costs such as set-up, ongoing extras and integration.
- Ease of use
There is little point in investing your money in a system you cannot understand. Take time to investigate how easy each PMS is to run, whether you have the workforce to take on a more complex system or whether a ‘plug-and-play’ solution is more suitable to your business. For example, if your goal in investing in a PMS is to save time, look to a system that has high automation and an easy user interface.
There are a considerable number of tools available to hoteliers that can aid them in the running of their business. Hotel technology such as channel managers, revenue management systems, upselling and cross-selling software can all help you maximise your profit. Finding a PMS that can seamlessly integrate with all your favourite tech should be of high priority when shopping.
3. Get the right Revenue Management Software (RMS) in place
Every time you charge too little, you miss out on possible revenue. Every time you charge too much, you miss out on clients (and revenue). Charging the right amount is essential, especially in this day and age where all the information is available to a potential customer.
Especially in times like this, having a robust revenue management strategy in place can help you to get back some of the revenue lost.
As we recover from this, you don’t want to be priced too high relative to everyone else, as you will not be competitive and with low demand, this will be very damaging. But at the same time, you don’t want to be too cheap. The problem here is that everyone gets dragged down with you and the whole area loses out on revenue.
By implementing revenue management software, you can offer market-reflected rates in which your room prices match demand in your area. This process can be fully automated, with the software examining hundreds of data points and creating price suggestions that are sent to your PMS or/and Channel Manager (CM) several times a day. What may have taken hours can take seconds. Not only this, but by using an RMS, you are given a greater insight into the changes within your market, better equipping you to predict future demand.
But let’s pause a bit, as this is a real-time scenario and we need to act fast!
We would like to offer you an extended free trial with RoomPriceGenie if you sign up now. Not only will you be able to test Revenue Management Software in action but this free trial period will last long enough to help you recover from this crisis and make the most of the recovery time.
All you need to do is get in touch and set up a demo call.
4. Improve your website to encourage more direct bookings
Many hotels have expressed dissatisfaction with online travel agents over this period. So why not fight back by working on your website to attract more direct bookings?
If you’re looking to start from scratch, we would recommend getting a cheap web designer. You may be able to find one on platforms like Upwork that can provide you with the look you want at a reasonable price. Alternatively, if you are on a tight budget and want to do it yourself, you’ll want to find the right website builder for you. Wix is considered the most popular on account of being easy to use and producing professional-looking results.
Now we need to look at the key features every hotel website should have:
- Internet Booking Engine
The number one rule of driving direct bookings is making sure your guests can book online. Having a comprehensive Internet Booking Engine (IBE) where visitors can check rates and availability straight from your website is key to ensuring you don’t lose out to OTAs. You will also want a price widget that shows that they are getting the best price possible.
In finding the right IBE for you, be sure to check it can connect to your PMS and can regularly update your incoming bookings and available inventory. Alternatively, if you already have a CM, a booking engine feature may be included in your package.
- Call to Action buttons (CTAs)
When you have visitors to your webpage, the last thing you want is to lose them or have them forget why they were there in the first place. Regular Call to Action (CTA) buttons instructing visitors to ‘BOOK NOW’ or ‘BOOK HERE’ will ensure your potential guests follow through and make the decision to book direct.
- Multimedia – photos and videos
A hotel is visual and potential bookers want to be able to see what they are paying for. Bright, high quality and professional photographs and videos of every aspect of your hotel will help win guests over and show them precisely what you have to offer. You should strive to include photos of everything available to your guests; rooms, dining areas, leisure facilities, surrounding areas and anything else that makes your property unique and desirable.
- SEO optimised content
SEO, meaning Search Engine Optimisation, is a way of marketing your hotel that ensures it is visible higher up in search engine results. It relies on using keywords and phrases organically embedded into your website. For hotels, this means making sure the written content on your site matches the keywords searched for by your designated audience. For example, if you are a luxury spa hotel situated in the centre of the city, walking distance from good public transport links, then you need to state that clearly on your website. Your location, property type, public transport access, amenities and much much more can all help boost your SEO and drive you further up the search results. A blog on the local area can also improve your results considerably – with the added benefit of getting viewers to your site before they have even thought of hotels.
- Booking and Cancellation Policies
To keep visitors on your website, you will want to offer clean and easily accessible information on the various policies of your hotel. Which will not only help your SEO and encourage traffic to your website but will also prevent visitors from seeking that information elsewhere, i.e. an OTA. You want to make sure your website has direct answers for every question a potential guest may have as well as clear markers on how to find them. Make sure that your policy is no worse than what is visible on OTAs.
- How to find us page
Including a brief description of where your property is situated and how to find it will not only ensure your guests don’t get lost, but it will also act as good SEO content. It will place your hotel amongst others in the area and draw more click rates for those who are looking for hotels based on location.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it! Including information on and images of the facilities available to guests in both your hotel and the surrounding area is a great way of encouraging booking. Not only that but if a couple is explicitly looking for a golfing holiday and you have failed to list that you offer a free 9-hole round with every booking, then potential bookers will look elsewhere. This is no time to undersell yourself.
5. Explore new technology
In these changing times, despite the chaos, there is no room for being ordinary. Simply having beds and some clean sheets will no longer cut it in such a competitive industry. Hotels must strive to be better than they have ever been, and although investment seems impossible right now, this break offers the opportunity to research some of the ways you can provide higher value to your price.
More and more, we are seeing hotels reach for new technology to enhance their guest experience and provide a streamlined service within their property. There is a huge variety of options to fit every type of hotel and hotelier, but here are a few we suggest:
- Self-service reception kiosk – eg. Mews
This all-in-one virtual concierge web app offers your guests the opportunity to check-in, check-out and direct message, all with the touch of the button. It saves time and reduces queues. Whether it be ordering room service through the direct messaging service or adding a companion to their check-in, it is easy to use for both guests and hoteliers alike.
- Review and reputation management tool – eg. Travel Appeal
Reviews play a crucial role in the success of your business and the rates you can charge. The better your reviews, the more you can charge and vice versa. Managing incoming reviews, however, can be a mammoth task for a lot of hoteliers. Available through the Apaleo store, Travel Appeal works on enhancing your brand and building your online reputation. By analysing data points such as reviews, social media and your website, Travel Appeal then provides you with suggested actions that can immediately improve your online reputation.
- META Search Connections – eg. HotelSpider
Extend online visibility and reach a global audience beyond ordinary OTAs. META Search Connections helps you place your direct booking rate alongside those found on other channels and encourage more bookers to visit your website. This means being on sites like Google Hotels and Trivago in your own name, rather than just through the OTAs at higher commissions.
- Upselling tool – eg. UpsellGuru
While investing in ways to increase your visibility and encourage more bookings is one way of maximising revenue, working with existing guests is another. The upselling tool offered by UpsellGuru allows your guests to bid on room upgrades before their arrival. Not only is this a fun and engaging activity for your guests, but it is also a great way to minimise free upgrades, free up more easily sold rooms and increase your revenue.
In conclusion, there is no time like the present. Using this time to reimagine your hotel and seek previously unseen opportunities to enhance your business is a great way to make wine from water. It may be a global crisis, but that is no reason to abandon all hope.
As B. B. King put it, “the beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you” – now is the time to learn, to read, to strive for better and to come out fighting!
If you’d like to find out more about how RoomPriceGenie can help you through this tough time, please get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help you and your business come out on top!