Improve Conversion Rates and the Guest Experience with a Mobile-Friendly Online Booking Engine

Now more than ever, travelers prefer to book on mobile. While bookings overall plummeted with the arrival of COVID-19, Triptease research shows a proportionate increase in mobile bookings (compared to desktop) as travel slowly recovers. Going forward, accommodation providers should provide travelers with a mobile-friendly direct online booking option to maximize conversions.

The pandemic is responsible for historically low occupancy and demand for hoteliers, along with significant financial losses to many businesses, both within and outside of the hospitality/travel industry. During the recovery, mobile-friendly online booking engines (OBEs) are crucial for promoting direct bookings, allowing hotels to recover faster by reducing OTA commissions and directly increasing their bottom lines. Furthermore, being savvy to modern travelers’ preferences, such as offering a mobile-friendly booking engine, will ensure that customers book directly with you and not your competitors.

Mobile Travel Trends

According to Travelport Digital, 62% of millennials want more visual search technology, such as Instagram, when booking travel. Further data shows that OTAs that prioritized their mobile booking experiences generated most of their bookings on mobile, with Booking.com stating that 80% of travelers used a mobile app while searching for a trip and 50% of accommodation searches and bookings were made on mobile. These mobile travel trends emphasize that it is important for hoteliers to prioritize mobile-friendly websites and online booking engines, not only to accommodate modern travelers’ preferences, but to more quickly recover from the effects of the pandemic by slashing OTA commission costs and increasing profit.

Also, Booking.com finds that approximately two thirds of mobile bookings are made by millennial travelers, who tend to write more online reviews than any other traveler demographic. By adapting to current travel trends and making your online booking engine mobile friendly, you drive more millennial business directly to your property and subsequently, positively impact your online presence and reviews.

Features and Benefits of a Mobile-Friendly Online Booking Engine

A mobile-friendly OBE should provide customers with a simple, convenient, and intuitive platform for booking their next trip. The user experience should include clear, compelling guestroom photos as well as detailed room and rate information, while maintaining a quick and easy booking process, complete with auto-generated booking confirmations. A mobile-friendly OBE will feature a responsive design that automatically adjusts to the user’s screen, making it easy to use and to experience your property’s brand.

WebRezPro’s mobile-optimized online booking engine provides a streamlined user experience from availability search to booking confirmation. With a simple, customizable search experience where guests can filter by features and amenities, and a frictionless booking experience, properties can offer guests ways to personalize their stay further by selecting add-ons (e.g., wine and chocolates, spa treatments, etc.) at the time of booking. Such booking options can be used to gather important data from your guests and ensure their repeated future trips to your property with personable, next-level service.

WebRezPro Cloud PMS: Online Booking Engine

Travel bookers aren’t the only ones who benefit from a mobile-friendly OBE. Accommodation providers enjoy many advantages offering a streamlined user experience to their guests. Hoteliers will never miss out on bookings placed anytime, from anywhere, since they aren’t tied down to a physical front desk with limited hours to accept bookings. And, with PMS integration, live rates and availability are always displayed, meaning all these new, incoming reservations cannot be double booked. A flexible mobile-friendly online booking engine will accommodate all types of rates, including packages, password-protected rates and promo codes, supporting even the most unique revenue strategies.

WebRezPro’s innovative features for today’s travel bookers help accommodation providers stay ahead of current travel trends. By providing a mobile-friendly direct booking experience, hoteliers not only benefit their customers, but also their property’s conversion rates and bottom line.

WebRezPro Named Hotel Management Software Leader

WebRezPro was recently named a 2020 Category Leader for hotel management software by GetApp, a go-to online resource for businesses looking for cloud-based software solutions. Every year, GetApp’s Category Leaders highlight the leading North American software products based on ratings and reviews from actual users of those products. Software solutions are rated in five key areas: ease of use; value for money; functionality; customer support; and likelihood to recommend.

The whole team behind WebRezPro is pleased to see our property management system recognized as a leader in hotel management software. Our customers’ success is our mission and we strive to deliver a powerful, flexible and well-supported property management solution at an affordable price to help lodgings of all types and sizes drive operational efficiency, revenue and growth. We view WebRezPro’s recognition as a GetApp Category Leader as further testament to our commitment to clients.

WebRezPro’s GetApp Category Leader ranking comes with especially strong scores in customer support and value for money. We may be a bit biased, but here’s why we think our customers rate us highly in these important areas.

Customer Support

Everyone behind WebRezPro is rooting for our customers’ success and happiness, but our dedicated product support and sales teams are 110% focused on client satisfaction—no matter how small the property. Our in-house North American customer support personnel have deep knowledge of and experience in the hospitality industry and customer service, and know WebRezPro inside out.

Available every day, by phone or email, our customer support team is constantly commended for fast response times, and a high level of customer care.

What our customers say (excerpts from recent reviews on GetApp):

“Honestly, the support is so far above standards it’s amazing and no other platform provides the quality of service that is direct. It’s so nice to not be fielded through a call center and waste time trying to get responses or assistance!! Live representatives that are experts allow us the freedom to do our job and focus on the face to face hospitality for our clients. I feel like we know the staff and they are quick to answer in great detail any questions or doubts and as a ‘dinosaur of technology’ that is priceless!!” — Cathy P.

“The biggest and most crucial piece of WebRezPro that makes me push this company to others in the travel industry, is the customer support. I have never called for support (during working hours of course) and had no one answer. You all rock!” — AnaLisa G.

“My employees like the WebRezPro system and believe in the customer service people. They know that WebRezPro agents will stay on the call until the issue or explanation of the procedure to solve our problem is crystal clear. We know many of the agents by name and know them to be patient and informative with us.” — William D.

“I like the ease of use of the software. I am not very knowledgeable about computers but I can learn to run a software program. WebRezPro has the best customer support team that I have ever worked with. When I was talking with my executive about WebRezPro I asked whether I could cancel if I didn’t like the software. She said I could but nobody does. I now know why they are the best.” — Claude E.

Value for Money

From small inns and B&Bs to hotel groups and vacation rentals, we believe all lodging operations should have access to powerful software to help them run their businesses more efficiently and successfully. WebRezPro is a fully integrated and automated system that not only streamlines management of rooms, rates, reservations, reporting and the guest experience, but also brings modern functionality like commission-free online bookings, mobile accessibility and direct integration with other hotel systems (like payment gateways, POS software and distribution channels) within reach of independent properties.

We work closely with our clients to ensure that WebRezPro is always improving in the way that lodging operators need, and regular software updates—along with ongoing customer support—are included in our affordable and simple monthly pricing plans.

What our customers say (excerpts from recent reviews on GetApp):

“WebRezPro is able to accommodate smaller boutique properties at a reasonable price… The transfer from our old PMS to WebRezPro was painless. We even opted to use WebRezPro’s booking engine alongside its PMS and I think it’s the best decision we could’ve made. To have your PMS and booking engine be from the same company makes any potential errors easier and faster to resolve.” — Jessica S.

“We have a full-service reservation software system for about the same price with significantly better service than our previous vendor. My employees are happy and that makes me happy with my software selection.” — William D.

“We have been using WebRezPro for 4+ years now. It has been very customizable, and the support is top notch! Their pricing is very fair and allows small hotels to have the power of online booking without a large investment!” — H Dame

“This software has been great for my small inn. It’s simple to use and does everything I need and more. The value, customer support and functionality are excellent.” — Denise L.

“It’s a solid, reliable tool that has never failed us.” — Yvette N.

You can read more reviews of WebRezPro on GetApp, or check out the full list of Category Leaders for hotel management software.

GetApp Category Leaders constitute the subjective opinions of individual end-user reviews, ratings, and data applied against a documented methodology; they neither represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, GetApp or its affiliates.

Google My Business: How to Use It and Why You Should

Whether it’s for a new lunch spot, nearby grocery store, or holiday accommodation, Google is typically the first stop in any internet search.  That makes it an important channel on which to focus your marketing efforts. In addition to the page results returned with a search – which you should be trying to top with search engine optimization – Google also displays profiles for local businesses. You should create and verify your Google My Business profile so you can make the most of this powerful (and free!) resource.

The basics

Categories >> The first step in managing your profile is to choose the appropriate business categories. This will allow your profile to be listed appropriately and give you access to category-specific features. Google offers a large selection of accommodation options. Be specific with your choice as it can affect your local ranking. If your property offers any additional services (like an on-site restaurant), be sure to include additional categories in your profile.

Business info >> Next, you will need to add thorough business information to your profile. This includes your name, address, hours of operation, contact information, website URL, and a brief description of your business. 

Photos and videos >> Be sure to take advantage of the platform’s option for adding visual content. Uploading a selection of professionally shot photos (that showcase all the wonderful aspects of your property) will help boost click-throughs to your website. 

Reviews >> Reviews posted to Google are automatically linked to your business profile and will appear beneath your listing in a Google search. Encouraging and responding to your Google My Business reviews should be a significant priority in your reputation management strategy.

Posts >> When you have announcements, special offers, or events to promote, you can create posts that will appear under the ‘Updates’ tab of your profile. You should keep posts short, use keywords, and include images when possible. For the best results, try to add posts regularly as part of your ongoing marketing strategy.

The benefits

Maximize visibility >> As the number one search engine in the world, Google is used by billions of people each day. It’s simply the best place for new customers to find you and a Google My Business profile will increase your visibility across the platform. Your business will appear in online searches, Google Maps, and local pack listings.

Leverage reviews >> With social proof so heavily weighted in consumer decisions, having reviews displayed prominently on your profile is essential to winning new bookings. A consistent stream of new reviews (and replies on your part) will also help with search engine optimization.

Act on insights >> Among the many great features of Google My Business is their insights tool. You can access statistics about views and engagement to assess the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and view search query reports to help understand how consumers are finding your business. The powerful tool will also summarize your audience by age, gender, and nationality to help steer your marketing strategies.

COVID-19 tips

The rapid changes and constant uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 has generated a lot of confusion. Here are a few tips for keeping your customers informed during this unusual time:

Temporarily closed >> If you are not currently open for business, you should change your status on Google My Business to ‘temporarily closed.’ Don’t worry, your business will continue to show up in searches similar to any open business as this change does not affect your local search ranking.

Changes to service >> If you are not fully closing but have made changes to things like hours of operation, be sure to make those updates on your Google My Business listing.

COVID-19 posts >> Google has created a post type specifically for COVID-19 updates. These posts will be positioned above the regular post carousel and will be live for 28 days. You should use this feature to let customers know about the safety precautions you are taking, extra services you are providing to the community, and other changes to operations.

Disclaimer removal >> Some businesses may find that a disclaimer has been added to their profile stating that the business info might not be up to date. As a verified business you can remove this disclaimer when you update your hours of operation.

Google My Business is an incredible marketing resource. Be sure to claim and maintain your profile to maximize visibility on the most powerful search engine in the world.

We’re All in This Together: How Hoteliers Can Do Their Part to Care for the Planet

If there’s one thing we can learn from COVID-19, it’s the importance of working together to solve the problems of our world. We all live on this planet together, and it is going to take a combined commitment from every sector to keep it healthy and vital.

Historically, the hospitality industry has left a pretty big ecological footprint. But perspectives and policies within the industry have been changing. Sustainable thinking has been on the rise in the last decade or so and is now widely regarded as key to any successful business.

Here are ways that you can do your part to care for the planet we all call home:

Utilizing bioclimatic architecture

Maintaining a comfortable internal environment can be extremely energy intensive. Heating systems, air conditioners, and lighting features require incredible amounts of energy to counteract the external conditions. Bioclimatic construction alleviates much of this demand by considering the local climate during the building process. Instead of fighting nature, this approach uses knowledge of wind patterns, sunlight exposure, and other environmental characteristics in the design process. Coupled with the right construction materials, design elements, and building orientation, it’s possible to create buildings that passively regulate their own internal temperature with little-if-any-energy input.

Save water

Water scarcity affects every continent on earth. We all need to be doing what we can to reduce our water usage. Lodging operators can install low-flow faucets and shower heads, introduce a linen reuse program to cut down on laundering, and even look into grey water recycling and rainwater harvesting programs. It can also be a big help to encourage guests to be mindful of their own water usage. Hostelling International USA has even implemented “smart showers” which have colorful LED lights to alert guests when time is up on their seven-minute shower.

Reduce waste

Reducing the amount of waste produced is, of course, a key tenet of sustainability. This can be achieved in the hospitality industry by eliminating single-use plastics from your business (try refillable dispensers for bath products, and reusable linen laundry bags), going paperless, and finding creative solutions for dealing with food waste. The Spector Hotel in Charleston, S.C., uses a food-waste diversion program that turns left-behind food into reusable water through the use of a digester. In the last two years they have diverted 11,234 pounds of food and created 944 gallons of water.

Conserve energy

Energy consumption can be reduced in a variety of ways. Simple habits from your staff, like turning off lights and unused electronics and opening and closing drapes to reduce heating costs, is a great first step. You should also consider installing energy-efficient light bulbs, and room control systems that automatically turn off lights and AC when guests are not in their rooms.

Source local

There are a lot of reasons you should consider sourcing products and materials locally. For one, your business depends on the local economy. Putting money directly into your own community helps maintain the vibrant local culture that ultimately draws guests to your region. It’s also important to note that consumers today are prioritizing local products and will be pleased to find accommodation that aligns with their values. But the biggest reason to shop local is for the benefit of the environment. Buying from local vendors eliminates the massive fuel emissions associated with long-distance transport. The shortened supply chain between producer and consumer also typically means less processing, freezing and waste associated with the entire operation. 

Promote sustainability

Progress is made when minds are changed. New perspectives and habits adopted by a large cohort of people are ultimately what will be required to make meaningful sustainability gains. Be a positive role model by promoting sustainability to your guests and in your community. Include recycling bins on-site, encourage guests to use refillable water bottles when they are going out to explore, provide information about public transportation, educate guests about the ecosystems in your area, and get involved in local conservation efforts.

Looking for a little inspiration? Arlo Hotels has created an entire sustainability platform within their business referred to as “Arlo Cares.” In addition to organizing beach cleanups and hosting a green-focused weekend festival, the hotel group puts on free monthly talks about sustainability in order to help form a community of eco-conscious travelers.

Leverage technology

As with many aspects of life, the best policies and practices surrounding sustainability can be made easier and more effective with the right technology. A powerful cloud-based property management system with paperless check-in capabilities and integrations for mobile keys and other smart room technology streamlines operations and significantly cuts back on paper, plastic, and energy use. 

It’s up to all of us to make changes for the betterment of the planet. Do what you can to make your lodging operation a little more eco-friendly. And if you want to become officially recognized as a green property, here’s a complete list of green-certifying bodies for hotels.

7 Considerations for Reopening Your Hotel Restaurant in a Post-COVID World

As many regions around the world move into new phases of their COVID-19 response plan, restaurants are beginning – or at least planning – to open their doors to on-site dining once again. The continuing need for social distancing and sanitization means running a restaurant (just like running a hotel) in this new era is going to look a little different.

Here are seven things you should be thinking about when reopening your on-site restaurant:

Follow the regulations

COVID-19 is affecting every place differently, and the response from lawmakers is extremely varied from region to region. You’ll need to find out what regulations have been put in place for your municipality and formulate a plan for adhering to them. Most places are requiring restaurants to reduce their capacity to a stated percent, ensure tables are a specific distance apart, and offer guidelines about staff wearing PPE.

Reduce touchpoints

One of the most important steps in inhibiting the spread of the virus and keeping your patrons safe is to reduce the number of touchpoints in the customer experience.  Customers in the pre-COVID world interacted with a lot of different surfaces, so this task takes some creative solutions. In addition to virtual waitlists and reservation systems, many restaurants are eliminating physical menus with the introduction of QR codes on each table. The customers can then scan the code on their phone to view the menu. For guests of your hotel, a POS interface will allow charges to be added to reservation folios for a completely contactless dining experience. The server will simply pop by to take orders and deliver food, and a guest will only come into contact with their table and dishes (making sanitization a much simpler task).

Make changes to service

Many restaurants offered take-out options to help get through the COVID shutdowns. Continuing to offer these alternatives in addition to on-site dining is worth your consideration. With reduced capacity, and a large proportion of people that are still reticent to dine-in, take-out options will help maintain revenue.

That being said, a reliance on third-party delivery services – which can take up to 30% of your revenue – should be avoided. Do what you can to encourage curb-side pickup. You could try special offers (like family packs or meal kits), or even post a call-to-action on social media. Consumers are extremely empathetic to the plight of local businesses right now; if you make an honest post encouraging them to pick-up instead of order off an app, many will oblige.

Maintain the dining experience

With a reduced capacity and little to no human contact, the dining experience is likely to feel a little weird for everyone. Do what you can to make the on-site experience still feel exciting and vibrant. Adding interesting decor elements, choosing the right music, and having a friendly and engaging staff can do a lot to recapture some lost ambiance.

Take advantage of outdoor spaces

Al fresco dining is going to be a big part of post-COVID life. According to what is currently understood about the virus, transmission is much less likely outdoors. People will (understandably) feel safer staying on the patio, so you should be taking advantage of every inch of outdoor space that you have. What’s great is that many municipalities are offering patio extensions into streets, parks, and other public spaces to help support local businesses. This will help mitigate the losses associated with cutting your indoor capacity.

Get creative

At the end of the day, reducing capacity and introducing new safety measures will likely affect sales. This is the time to be thinking of creative solutions to find new revenue streams. With so many people staying at home, you might want to consider offering virtual services like an online cooking class.

Communicate with customers

Everything that you do to reopen your restaurant at this time is to ensure the safety and comfort of your patrons, so let them know! Social media posts and updates to your website that highlight the measures you’re taking will ease their minds about visiting your restaurant. It’s also important that customers are aware of any new rules or procedures (like waiting outside until the host calls their reservation) so they know what to expect and can help you keep everyone safe.

We are all trying to find ways of moving forward in this new normal. It can certainly be overwhelming, but adaptability and creativity will help restaurants re-open their doors (and keep them open) in a post-COVID world. Good luck!

Cleanliness and Communication Key to Guest Satisfaction

While the latest J.D. Power North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index (NAGSI) Study (2020) was cut a little short due to COVID-19, the results (released in July) clearly support a focus on hotel cleanliness and proactive guest communications to drive guest satisfaction during the pandemic and beyond.

The annual study measures guest satisfaction with the entire hotel experience (from booking to check-out), and this year analyzes the responses of almost 38,000 recent hotel guests. Now in its 24th year, the study includes approximately 100 hotel brands in six market segments (economy through luxury), and offers important insights to hoteliers about guest expectations and industry trends that can be applied to their own properties to help drive guest satisfaction and loyalty, especially during these challenging times.

In this year’s study, guestroom cleanliness scores reached a record high rating of 8.53 (on a 10-point scale). A key driver of satisfaction, guestroom cleanliness significantly impacts overall satisfaction scores, with the overall satisfaction score averaging 942 (out of 1000) among guests who rate room cleanliness 10/10, compared to an average overall satisfaction score of 829 among guests who rated guestroom cleanliness 8 or 9 out of 10.

The study shows that pre-arrival communication is another important driver of overall guest satisfaction—even prior to the pandemic—with overall satisfaction scores dropping an average of 66 points when no pre-arrival communications are received. Now, with so much caution and confusion surrounding travel, pre-stay communications are more important than ever. Based on separate J.D. Power data collected since the start of the pandemic, communicating safety precautions and sanitization protocols with guests is one of the most important actions hotels can take to reassure travelers right now.

Here’s our take on the practical implications of the study’s results…

Housekeeping

Housekeeping has always been a central focus of lodging operations, but COVID-19 has put even more pressure on the housekeeping department. Cleaning procedures are even stricter and more time consuming than before the pandemic, and accountability is much higher. Now, more than ever, it is absolutely critical that housekeeping standards meet high guest expectations.

Visible cleaning and precautionary measures

From wearing face masks to disinfecting surfaces to physical distancing signage, safety measures must be visible to the public eye to reassure guests that the hotel is a clean and safe environment. While housekeeping efforts were largely conducted behind the scenes before, now they will be under the spotlight.

Guests will want to see frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as front desk counters, elevator buttons, door handles, public bathrooms, handrails, gym equipment and vending machines. Other visible measures include providing hand sanitizer dispensers at key guest entrances and contact areas (for example, the reception desk, lobby, elevator landings, restaurant entrances, meeting spaces, and exercise rooms), and providing signage in high-traffic areas reminding guests of safe hygiene practices, like how to wear and handle a mask correctly and maintaining physical distance with others. Protective screens at reception desks are a clear attempt to keep guests and staff safe, and furniture and seating arrangements in gathering spaces such as the lobby and restaurants should adhere to physical distancing requirements. “Clean seals” on guestroom doors and/or certain high-touch items in guestrooms can help reassure guests that their room has been thoroughly cleaned and sterilized.

Effective housekeeping department

With recovery riding on cleanliness, the housekeeping department needs to be in ship shape. There may be less rooms to clean due to lower occupancy rates, but the demands on housekeeping teams are high.

Work with your housekeeping team to determine the most effective way to manage and track new practices, from 24-hour room closeouts between stays to new cleaning products and processes. Make sure your housekeeping staff are confident and motivated by encouraging open communication, and providing sufficient training and the right tools to do the job. A property management system that includes an integrated mobile housekeeping report allows housekeeping staff to manage and track tasks on the go as they work. For further guidance, read our recent Guide to Effective Housekeeping.

Communication

From new sanitization protocols to social distancing expectations to service changes, much has changed in hotels in the wake of COVID-19. Managing guest expectations during this time is critical to maintaining guest satisfaction, and the most effective way to do this is to communicate your property’s precautionary measures and service changes to guests before they arrive.

Pre-arrival communications

Pre-arrival messaging (whether by email or text message) should inform and reassure upcoming guests by providing clear information about hotel protocols designed to keep guests and staff safe. Outline important adjustments like additional cleaning measures, service closures or changes (for example, contactless check-in options, housekeeping service options, buffet closures, etc.), and what is expected of guests, such as social distancing and when to wear a mask.

If there is a lot of information to cover, use links to direct guests to the relevant COVID-19 content on your property’s website for further details.

Don’t forget to show your property’s human side, which is especially important in these sterile times, by letting guests know you are looking forward to their arrival and how you will make their stay experience a great one.

When integrated with the PMS, customizable pre-arrival message templates can be automatically personalized and triggered based on reservation data for effortless, proactive communications that make guests feel valued.

Hotel website

Providing up-to-date information on your website via a COVID-19 statement and/or FAQs is important for managing guest expectations from the get-go and helps to inspire the confidence to make a booking. As well, your website booking engine can help communicate service closures and changes via customizable messages that display on all room availability searches, letting customers know of currently limited services—like buffet and pool closures—before they book.

Social media

Use your property’s social media channels to keep prospective customers up to date about the COVID climate at your property too. Social media is an especially good platform for showing your business’s human side and inspiring positive thoughts about travel.

Spin posts about service changes in a positive light, showing your commitment to the health and safety of your guests and staff. As always, it’s important to monitor your social media accounts closely, responding quickly to questions and comments from the public. Open communication channels show customers you are there them and can help boost consumer confidence leading up to the booking phase. 

Cleanliness and communication have always been important drivers of hotel guest satisfaction, and the latest J.D. Power research shows they are becoming even more critical. As long as COVID-19 is out there, cleanliness and communication will likely go hand in hand as the two most important factors in maintaining guest satisfaction for the foreseeable future.

20 WebRezPro Clients Named TripAdvisor’s 2020 Best of the Best!

Every year, TripAdvisor celebrates exceptional hotels, airlines, restaurants, attractions, beaches, destinations and experiences around the world with its annual Travelers’ Choice® Awards. Winning a spot in the coveted awards is based on the quality and quantity of millions of real traveler reviews and ratings collected on TripAdvisor over the previous year—and is true testament to a hotel’s commitment to service, quality and value.

TripAdvisor announced the winners of its 18th annual Travelers’ Choice Awards (based on reviews collected on TripAdvisor in 2019, prior to the pandemic) at the end of last month, recognizing 4,817 remarkable businesses (out of 8.7 million listings!). The 2020 Travelers’ Choice winners are honored as Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best, representing the highest-rated properties among the top 1% of listings on TripAdvisor. This year, the awards come at an extremely tough time for the industry, but serve to inspire both travelers and lodging operators as the desire to travel slowly rekindles around the world. We are proud to work with the following extraordinary properties awarded this year’s Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best for going above and beyond their guests’ expectations…

The Lyme Inn (#13, Top 25 Small Hotels – United States)

Tamarindo Bay Boutique Hotel (#3, Top 25 Small Hotels – Costa Rica; #8, Top 25 Hotels for Service – Costa Rica)

Abigail’s Hotel (#2, Top 25 Small Hotels – Canada; #5, Top Hotels for Service – Canada; #1, Top 25 Hotels for Romance – Canada)

The Grove Hotel (#4, Top 25 Small Hotels – Canada)

The Barracks Inn (#6 – Top 25 Small Hotels – Canada)

Tweedsmuir Park Lodge (#7, Top 25 Small Hotels – Canada)

Earl Grey Lodge (#8, Top 25 Small Hotels – Canada)

Kemptville Suites (#14, Top 25 Small Hotels – Canada)

Northridge Inn & Resort (#23, Top 25 Small Hotels – Canada)

Secret Bay (#9, Top 25 Small Hotels – Caribbean; #5, Top 25 Luxury Hotels – Caribbean)

Casa Cupula (#11, Top 25 Small Hotels – Mexico)

Park Centre & Hotel (#4, Top 25 Bargain Hotels – Canada)

The Cube Hotel (#14, Top 25 Bargain Hotels – Canada)

Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort (#18, Top 25 Bargain Hotels – Mexico)

Turtle Island (#15, Top 25 Luxury Hotels – South Pacific; #17, Top 25 Hotels for Romance – South Pacific)

Ylang Ylang Beach Resort (#16, Top 25 Hotels for Service – Costa Rica)

Thatch Caye, a Muy’Ono Resort (#11, Top 25 Hotels for Romance – Central America)

Alpine Village Cabin Resort Jasper (#16, Top 25 Hotels for Romance – Canada)

Alpine Meadows Resort (#25, Top 25 Hotels for Romance – Canada)

Crystal Cove Beach Resort (#1, Top 25 Hotels for Families – Canada)


These outstanding hotels and resorts have earned their top spots through unwavering dedication to the entire guest experience, achieving the admiration of their toughest critics—the guests themselves!

A big congratulations to each and every business listed above. We at WebRezPro are honored to help such special properties streamline daily operations and deliver memorable guest experiences every day.

Check out the complete list of TripAdvisor’s 2020 Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best award winners for more travel inspiration.

How Independent Hotels Can Maximize Revenue in the Pandemic Era

Faced with limited demand due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, hoteliers must think outside the box to capture bookings and maximize revenue. Pricing practices that made sense before the virus hit—like seasonal pricing and non-refundable rates—may not be so relevant now in our pandemic era.

In this tentative climate, revenue management strategies should aim to boost consumer confidence, focus on value, and increase revenue per guest. Here are some ways hoteliers are maximizing total revenue now.

Value-added packages

While international travel is still largely on hold, most properties are focusing on domestic demand. Value-added packages are a great way to attract local guests and domestic travelers looking to break from the routine and stresses of pandemic life and to enjoy experiences they don’t get at home.

Create packages that offer your property’s target market the conveniences, luxuries and special moments they crave, whether it’s a romantic dinner package, a wellness retreat, or a family-fun deal that includes kayak rentals. Despite the higher price, packages offer guests more value. While the actual room price is normally discounted, ancillary revenue increases.

Marketed well, value-added packages can help your property stand out from your competitors and increase your share of the domestic market.

Extended-stay pricing

Extended-stay pricing is another effective way to increase revenue per guest while offering guests great value at the same time. Discounting additional nights entices guests to extend their stay, especially for staycationers with freer schedules afforded by traveling with their own car and the recent shift to working remotely.

Even when discounts are offered, longer stays result in higher profitability than short stays considering lower overheads (cleaning and other operational costs) and higher ancillary revenue.

Exclusive discounts

While it may be tempting to slash rates across the board to stimulate demand, past crises have shown our industry that this is not the answer. Deeply cutting prices may bring in a few extra bookings in the short term, but can harm a hotel’s image and hold the property back on an even longer road to recovery after the economy stabilizes.

As mentioned above, implementing value-added packages and extended-stay pricing are much healthier ways to capture bookings—and so is offering exclusive discounts to select groups of customers.

Offered only to limited audiences, exclusive discounts allow you to present irresistible offers to valuable clients such as repeat guests/loyalty program members, recent cancellations and Facebook fans without breaking rate parity agreements. Discount codes can be sent to select groups of customers via email or text message, or advertised on your social media channels.

Flexible change and cancellation policies

We’ve all learned the situation can change very quickly during a pandemic. In these uncertain times, cautious travelers will be hesitant to book stays that cannot be cancelled or rebooked without penalty in the case of further outbreaks or traveler illness.

For the foreseeable future, flexible change and cancellation policies will help give travel consumers the confidence they need to book. Consider removing non-refundable rates for the time being, and eliminate or at least reduce penalties for cancelling and changing reservations due to COVID-19.

Use your property management system to track bookings that are cancelled due to the pandemic to help you manage pricing and cancellation policies going forward.

Direct bookings

Mass cancellations caused by COVID-19 overwhelmed OTAs, resulting in a negative customer service experience for many OTA customers. During these continuing uncertain times, many travel consumers are now choosing to book with hotels directly for a more personalized and responsive customer service experience.  

Now’s the time to focus on your property’s direct booking strategy to take advantage of this shift and maintain a strong direct sales channel going forward. Incentivize customers to book direct with value-added packages, exclusive discounts and direct-booking perks available only through your direct booking channels.

It’s also important to provide a secure, user-friendly online booking process on your website. Integrated with the property management system (PMS), the online booking engine always displays live rates and availability and manages incoming reservations automatically, as well as booking modifications and cancellations coming through your website.

With a lower cost of acquisition compared to bookings acquired through third-party channels that charge commission, direct bookings can make a big difference to your bottom line. (Make sure your website booking engine is commission free!)

Ancillary products & services and new revenue streams

While extras such as parking, breakfast and welcome amenities can be included in value-added packages and used as direct-booking perks, they can and should also be offered to other guests for a fee.

Ancillary products and services will be key to boosting revenue in the wake of COVID-19. Promote your dining and spa services, welcome amenities (like champagne and food baskets), bicycle rentals, fitness classes and other activities, and allow customers to purchase add-ons when booking through your website booking engine.  

Get creative and try new revenue streams that make sense for your property and guests. Consider partnering with local businesses to offer guests local experiences such as surfing lessons or wine tasting tours. Think about the type of experiences and services your customers are looking for now. The recent focus on physical distancing and cleanliness makes options like food delivery services, sanitizer and mask packs, and sanitized airport transfers more relevant than ever.

Supportive technology

To stay ahead of the game, hoteliers should be equipped with a property management system (PMS) that supports ancillary revenue streams and dynamic pricing strategies with flexible rate management tools—such as instant rate and availability overrides, package pricing, channel management integration, and yield management functionality that automatically adjusts prices in response to occupancy-based rules.

And while historical data has lost a lot of relevance in these unprecedented times, automated RMS (revenue management system) integration can assist with analyzing data going forward (including daily rate, availability and occupancy data, competitor rates and local market data) to help determine optimal pricing on an ongoing basis.

Don’t just wait for things to get better; keep a close eye on your booking data and the local market as the situation unfolds to help identify opportunities to boost consumer confidence, offer guests value and increase revenue per guest now. As travel slowly restarts, hoteliers must be agile and creative to increase their share of existing demand, maximize revenue and get a step ahead of the competition as we emerge from this crisis.

Basecamp 550

Located in beautiful Ridgway, ColoradoBasecamp 550 offers unique accommodation in glamping tents and tiny homes and also boasts some RV sites. Onsite amenities include an outdoor kitchen, WiFi, fire pits with free firewood and laundry facilities. Basecamp 550 has chosen to use our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated booking engine to accept online reservations!

Hotel Digital Marketing Tips for the COVID-19 Recovery

As lockdowns start to lift, hotel bookings are beginning to pick up. Despite ongoing COVID concerns, people are eager to venture out again and this is very good news—as long as travel is managed responsibly, with effective preventative measures in place.

A recent Revinate survey found that 73 percent of global respondents plan to travel within the next year, with 70 percent expecting to engage in domestic travel first.

With positive signs now visible, lodging operators can look forward to and plan for increasing occupancy rates with more confidence.

However, we must also remember that while international travel is still on pause, the pool of travel consumers is much smaller. A hotel’s success during the recovery phase ahead will largely depend on their ability to adapt to the domestic market and to stay visible and relevant as the situation evolves.

Target domestic travelers

We recently wrote about marketing hotel stays to domestic travelers in the wake of COVID-19. In addition to making precautionary measures (sanitization and social distancing protocols) clear to customers, hotels can attract local and domestic guests by focusing on the kind of experiences that people are craving right now.

Looking to escape the pressures of daily life in a pandemic, travelers will seek accommodation that makes them feel safe so that they can relax a little in new surroundings away from crowds. They will be looking for conveniences, luxuries, and special moments they don’t have at home. So find your niche (outdoor adventure? Wellness retreat? Romantic interlude? Family fun?…), collaborate with like-minded local businesses, and package experiences that your domestic target market(s) can’t resist. Capitalize on existing demand by providing incentives to increase length of stay, for example free upgrades or extras.

Review distribution mix

As the bookings start to come in again, pay attention to where they are coming from. Focus on the distribution channels that are driving the highest ROI. Channels that historically brought in a large proportion of international bookings might not work so well for your property right now. Consider buying ads in price-comparison searches through metasearch brands such as Google Hotel Ads, TripAdvisor and Trivago to capture travel consumers with high intent—and their data.

You may find that direct bookings are increasing. This makes sense during a time when many cautious travelers seek reassurance through contacting the hotel directly. Run with it. Invest in your direct booking strategy to grow a loyal customer base and to help your bottom line by cutting commission costs.

Reinvest in SEM

SEM (search engine marketing) is key to any direct online strategy. Using paid search advertising to increase your property’s website visibility on search engine results pages, SEM is a great way to reach new customers while reducing acquisition costs.

The most popular paid search method is PPC (pay-per-click) advertising. PPC ads only appear when relevant searches are made, delivering qualified traffic directly to your website. Ad text can be updated instantly, allowing you to change the message customers see in real time.

Keep an eye on market data and your own booking data to identify demand trends and target those who are traveling. Use PPC remarketing to re-engage potential customers who have previously visited your property’s website but didn’t make a booking.

Keep in touch with email

Until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available, wariness will continue to surround travel so it will be important for lodging providers to maintain clear and open lines of communication with customers. Automated emails make it easy to deliver relevant, personalized messages to individuals at key touchpoints.

During these uncertain times, email marketing campaigns should focus on keeping customers informed about the protocols the hotel has adopted to keep guests and staff safe, any positive changes such as sustainability and community initiatives, as well as flexible cancellation policies and value-added promotions.

Target past customers and those with cancelled bookings due to COVID-19 with enticing offers to rebook.

Make sure you are taking advantage of your property management system’s automated email functionality, or consider integrating your PMS with your CRM for highly targeted data-driven messaging.

Take advantage of social media

Social distancing has turned more and more people to social media to stay connected, informed, entertained and inspired. From organic posts to paid ads, social media is a cost-effective marketing platform that offers highly targeted reach. 

Things can change rapidly during a pandemic, including hotel protocols and offerings, and social media is a great way to share up-to-the-minute information with followers. The fleeting nature of ephemeral posts like Instagram and Facebook stories, which are only visible for 24 hours (unless saved), makes content inherently authentic and spontaneous and can create stronger relationships with your customers. Ephemeral content also relays a sense of urgency for viewers to act quickly and respond to the content while it’s still available.

Blogging is also a great way to keep customers informed of the travel climate in your area and can help improve SEO too. For social media messaging and blog post topic ideas during COVID-19, read our recent article on the topic, much of which is still relevant even as various areas begin to emerge from the worst of the pandemic.

As travel consumer confidence starts to grow and local bookings start to pick up, now is a good time to think about restarting your Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns. Allowing you close control over your advertising budget and target audiences, social media ads are a cost-effective way to reach your property’s ideal customers.

Experiment with video

Confined by lockdowns and travel bans, many of us have enjoyed “traveling” online via video these past few months. Video immerses viewers in an experience and is an effective way to re-inspire travel consumers.

Make sure brand marketing videos are up to date and relevant to your location’s current COVID climate. For example, while social distancing regulations and decontamination protocols are in effect, avoid promoting videos that show crowded events and buffet tables.

Consider experimenting with different video formats for new, refreshing and memorable ways to connect with future guests. Two noteworthy video trends are live videos and 360º / VR videos, which can be used on Facebook, Instagram (within Instagram Stories), and Twitter.

Going live may seem scary because mistakes can’t be edited out, but viewers will be able to connect to the authenticity of a behind-the-scenes video featuring your property and staff, whether or not there’s one or two bloopers. Additionally, your audience can react to and comment on your content in real time, allowing you to personally and directly address their feedback and thoughts. 360º / VR videos offer an equally immersive experience where guests can move the video’s point of view around and see their surroundings like they would in real life.

Manage online reputation closely

Online reputation is critical as the travel industry emerges from the pandemic. Extra vigilant travelers will be keeping a watchful eye on hotel cleanliness and preventative measures in place. They’ll also be extra sensitive to shortcomings and will feel it is their duty to warn other travelers online by writing a bad review.

Going forward, it will be crucial for hotels to implement and successfully manage visible sanitization and physical distancing protocols. And it will also be important to actively seek feedback from guests to both improve the guest experience and strengthen your online reputation.

Use automated check-out or post-stay emails/text messages to not only thank the guest but to ask them to write a review if they enjoyed their stay, providing a direct link to your property’s listing on your preferred review platform. Invite guests to contact the hotel manager directly if they were not satisfied with their stay so that their negative experience can be rectified.

As the travel industry navigates a “new normal” it will be important to keep a close eye on guest feedback online, responding quickly to any negative reviews. An automated reputation management solution like Revinate or BlueJay Reviews allows you to monitor and manage your property’s reviews from all over the web in one convenient place. For further guidance on managing and responding to online reviews, read this guest post from our partner BlueJay Reviews.

Make sure to share positive guest feedback on your website and social media channels to help reassure future guests. Social proof is one of your most influential marketing assets.

Keep your hotel website up to date

While the virus is still at large, uncertainty will surround travel. It will be important to closely maintain your property’s website to inform and reassure potential guests of your property’s current operational status and preventative measures, as well as special offers, cancellation policies, and safe local experiences.

Producing content that addresses your potential guests’ questions about your property’s COVID-19 status and policies (including adding a COVID-19 statement to your website, updating your FAQs and blogging regularly) will provide customers with the information they are searching for right now and will also help improve SEO.

As previously mentioned, now’s the time to push your direct booking strategy to boost consumer confidence and support your bottom line. Be sure to highlight direct booking perks on your website and offer customers an intuitive, secure direct online booking process.

While international and—in many countries—regional travel restrictions remain in place, travel demand will be limited. The goal for hotels is to increase their share of existing demand. Going forward, keep a close eye on where bookings are coming from, how your different channels and campaigns are performing, and what your competitors are doing. As travel continues to open up, adapt your strategy accordingly to remain visible, relevant and competitive.