With Mother’s Day next week (we hope we didn’t just put anyone in panic mode!) many properties are enticing moms to come and stay for the weekend with special Mother’s Day packages. Like other popular holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and of course Father’s Day, Mother’s Day is a great opportunity for lodging operators to generate some attention and boost occupancy through selling value-added packages.
Value-added packages work by offering guests high perceived value — or more for their money. This doesn’t mean deeply discounting package components; it means creatively packaging components to offer guests a special experience in a convenient way and at an attractive price.
In addition to grabbing customers’ attention and boosting occupancy, value-added packages stimulate ancillary sales, increasing total revenue. Value-added packages are also an effective strategy for increasing direct reservations (when only available through booking direct), attracting target customer segments (like families, couples, baby boomers or nearcationers), and for promoting the property’s unique offerings and brand. Not only that, they help increase customer satisfaction by providing memorable experiences. Indeed, value added packages can pack a strong punch.
Designing Value-Added Packages
The most effective packages are designed with a property’s best assets and guests in mind. Think about your property’s unique appeal (or USP — unique selling proposition), be it your on-site services and activities (such as dining, spa, or fishing charters) or your location (nearby activities, seasonal events and other attractions), and build packages around those assets to stand out among your competition.
As well, it’s important to think about who your target customers are and design packages for them. Why do they choose your property and how can you enhance their stay experience? A family-friendly lodge could consider partnering with kid-friendly local attractions like theme parks, while a boutique hotel might offer couples romantic cultural experiences like winery tours or theatre tickets and/or include hotel services such dining and spa treatments.
A family-friendly Mother’s Day package might include an upgrade to a family suite, credit at the hotel restaurant and admission to the local indoor waterpark. For a more pampering experience away from kids and responsibilities, luxury properties could entice moms with in-room chocolates and bubbles, spa and dining credit and late check-out.
Then there are package terms to think about to help maximize profit — for example, limiting the package to certain room types, restricting package availability or booking times to certain dates, applying a minimum length of stay to increase the booking period, or applying stricter cancellation policies.
Implementing Value-Added Packages
With the right technology, lodging operators are limited only by their imagination when it comes to creating and selling packages. A modern property management system (PMS) like WebRezPro offers flexible rate and package management features that make implementing even the most complex packages easy.
From breakfast and in-room extras to scheduled activities like horseback tours or theatre events, WebRezPro allows you to add multiple package components to room rates, with the ability to automatically track the package rate’s add-on components to the appropriate revenue accounts. For example, imagine your Mother’s Day package includes in-room chocolates and a bottle of wine, dining credit and a guided trail ride; the chocolate and wine component can be tracked to your room service revenue account, the dining credit to F&B, and the horseback ride to your activity revenue account.
While you can make packages as unrestricted as you like, a good PMS will also allow you to set various restrictions in support of your revenue strategy.
As well as restricting the availability of packages to certain dates, you might want to limit the package to certain room types, and restrict package sales to a maximum number of rooms per night. You should be able to set restrictions such as length-of-stay, closed to arrival/departure, and how far in advance package rates must be booked, and to override standard cancellation and guarantee policies.
Your PMS should also allow you to determine who has access to the package. Is it available to the general public or restricted to select customers via a special access code, to corporate clients or to travel agents only?
With a PMS like WebRezPro, packages can be pushed out across a property’s distribution channels or limited to direct bookings only. Furthermore, direct-book packages can be designated online-only through the property’s direct online booking engine.
The more flexible your rate management tools, the more effectively your packages can be designed to achieve your revenue goals. Contact us for a free demo to see WebRezPro in action.
In Part 1 of this two-part post, we covered essential features to look for in a property management system (PMS) today, from guest profiles and reporting to integrated channel management and mobile accessibility. But in addition to software functionality, it’s also important to evaluate your prospective PMS provider in terms of whether they will be the right kind of partner for your business. In this next installment, we look at important considerations every lodging operator should keep in mind when looking for a new PMS provider.
Flexibility to Fit Your Operations
Our previous post looked at essential functionality any lodging operator should look for in a modern PMS, but it’s also necessary to confirm that the system can accommodate your property’s specific, unique and changing needs.
Whether you’re dealing with multiple owners as a vacation rental operator, are looking to centralize management of multiple locations, offer tours or activities, or just do things a little differently at your small resort, make sure your new PMS can or is willing to meet your functional requirements (and not the other way around), be it through specialized modules, software customizations, or simply a greater level of flexibility within core features.
It’s important to think ahead and check that your prospective PMS is easily scalable to grow with your business too, whether you’re looking to expand your services, add rooms or locations, or run with an innovative idea.
Intuitive User Experience
The whole point of a PMS is to streamline and improve operations, so, naturally, it should also be easy to use. An intuitive, user-friendly interface will help new and seasonal staff learn even the most feature-rich system quickly.
Look for a system that offers a clean, modern user interface design that you will enjoy looking at and using every day. It should offer intuitive features like an interactive availability calendar (tape chart), shortcut buttons and consistent menus, and should be mobile-friendly for an optimal user experience on tablets and smartphones too.
Lodging operators must take strict measures to ensure their guest data is protected from security breaches, so make sure your PMS has solid security measures in place. Look for a vendor that stores your data in a secure data centre with protocols such as 24-hour system monitoring, redundant Internet connections, diesel-powered electrical backup and continuous data backup in place. Ask about their PCI compliance for credit card processing, and security measures for the user login process, such as two-factor authentication.
When evaluating potential hotel management software, the topic of system training should come up early. Different vendors may offer different training methods, including live online training sessions (via screen-sharing software), recorded training or on-site (in-person) training; make sure that the format and level of training offered meets your requirements.
Ongoing support should also be given serious consideration. Is support included in the cost of the product? How can you contact your support team when you need them? What are the hours of operation? What are response times like? In addition to live support, are video tutorials and a user manual also available for reference?
Ask current customers and read product reviews to get an idea of the level and quality of support the vendor offers. Consistent praise for the product support team is always a good sign.
Upgrades and Innovation
Technology is evolving at an increasingly breakneck pace, so when it comes to modern software it pays to look for a provider that can keep up. Always innovating and evolving, cloud technology is making obsolete programs a thing of the past. Compared to traditional legacy systems, software updates and integrations in the cloud are much easier, quicker and more frequent.
Ask your prospective provider about standard software upgrades — they should be regular and free. Visiting the vendor’s website, blog, or signing up for their newsletter should provide a good indication of ongoing product improvement and innovation through announcements about new features or feature updates, new integration partnerships, participation in industry events, etc.
Company Expertise and Reputation
When evaluating a new PMS, take a look at the company behind it; as well as choosing a reputable product, you want to find a company you can trust to work with you going forward. Find out how long the vendor has been in business and how long their software has been used by lodging operators. Do they have a substantial and growing customer base? Look for a vendor with a proven track record in the hospitality industry.
Take the time to read product reviews, customer testimonials and case studies. Consider contacting current customers directly to ask about their experience with the software.
Compatibility with Local Regulations
Before choosing a PMS it is important to confirm that it is compatible with local requirements such as tax laws and billing regulations. Are other properties in your country or area using the software? If not, make sure that the PMS can accommodate any regional requirements before you buy.
Cloud PMS software is normally available via a monthly fee based on the number of rooms (typically $3 to $10 per room). System upgrades and feature updates should be free. Optional modules, software customizations and integrations with other hotel systems can incur additional costs.
After discussing all your needs with the vendor, find out exactly how much your system will cost to forecast your ROI. Consider the amount of time a modern cloud PMS will save you and your staff and the increase in occupancy and revenue you can expect. The benefits should far outweigh the cost.
As the center of command for all daily operations, finding the right PMS for your property is key to success. Defining your property’s needs and keeping the above considerations in mind should help point you toward the right fit. For guidance on what kind of functionality to expect from a modern PMS, read our earlier post, What to Look For in a PMS Today: Part 1 – Essential Features.
Contact us for a free, no-obligation demo of WebRezPro PMS.