Boost Off-Season Occupancy with Staycation Bookings

As we leave the peak travel season behind us, it’s time for hoteliers to implement strategies to maintain occupancy as best as possible. Beyond dropping room rates there are more resourceful ways to boost reservations—marketing your property to staycationers is one of them.

A staycation is a vacation taken close to home, normally within a comfortable driving distance. As our lives are becoming increasingly busier, staycations are becoming increasingly popular. Whether it’s an overnight stay in a local hotel or a camping trip at the beach, a quick getaway that doesn’t require getting on a plane is an attractive option for families, friends and couples who are short on time and looking for an easy, budget-friendly escape from their daily routine. In fact, staycationing is such a convenient way to get away from it all that staycationers tend to get away more often—at any time of year.

Attracting locals to your property not only helps maintain occupancy rates during the off season (and all year round), but offers the potential to grow a loyal customer base. Show local visitors a great time and they’ll come back again and again.

Focus on Food

A big part of travel and escaping the daily routine is enjoying local cuisine—and not having to cook! While staycationers are most likely already familiar with the local fare, the luxury of having it prepared for them is a compelling reason in itself to book a weekend away. Take advantage of this by promoting your property’s dining services and/or culinary hotspots in your neighbourhood through packages and discounts, or simply by highlighting recommended restaurants on your website and social media channels.

Cooking classes and wine tastings can attract locals looking to do something a bit different.

Promote Local Events

Staycationers often look for activities and events to spice up their normal routine, so get involved with what’s happening in your community to provide a stay that excites and refreshes. In addition to recommending local restaurants, promote local events and activities too. Consider partnering up with tour operators and event organizers to offer packages or discounted tickets.

Organize & Promote Your Own Events

If you have the space, consider organizing onsite events that attract locals. Think markets and fairs, snowman competitions, art exhibitions, live music, etc. Even locals who only turn up for the event but don’t stay the night will get the chance to familiarize themselves with your property and may then follow you on social media (where you can inspire them to try a staycation with you).

If your property caters to private functions such as weddings and corporate events, boost marketing efforts for these services to attract local clientele.

Create Packages

Long-distance travelers aren’t the only ones who enjoy value-packed and hassle-free vacations afforded by packages. Bundling accommodation with activities (from dining to spa treatments to boat tours) provides guests with an experience that allows them to save money and time compared to organizing everything themselves, and that appeals to locals looking for a quick getaway too.

Offer Free Parking

If you typically charge guests for parking, consider including it as a perk for staycationers. Because staycationers are more likely to arrive by car than long-distance travelers, free parking is a very relevant amenity that will be much appreciated.

If you typically charge guests for parking, consider including it as a perk for staycationers. Because staycationers are more likely to arrive by car than long-distance travelers, free parking is a very relevant amenity that will be much appreciated.

Highlight Local Gems

Vacationing close to home gives people a chance to get to know their region better. Help them discover experiences that might be new for them, from tourist-centered activities like Segway tours and wildlife viewings to hidden local gems like the new cat café or a family-friendly nature trail.

Reveal neighbourhood hotspots in a local guide section of your website, on social media and share local recommendations with guests on site.

Welcome Pets

It’s much easier (and cheaper) to travel with a dog in a car than on a plane, so many staycationers will choose to bring their pets. If you don’t want to rule these travelers out, welcome their fur babies with pet-friendly rooms and amenities.

Reward Loyalty

Because staycations are typically easier and more budget friendly than vacations in far-off lands, travelers staying close to home are more likely to staycation more frequently, whenever their schedule allows for two or three days away. Reward them for their loyalty to keep them coming back and inspire them to tell their friends about you.

Think discounted rates, a free drink, and personalized service and communications that cater to their preferences and needs—from dietary restrictions to their preferred room type to the special occasion they might be celebrating.

Be Active on Social Media

Guests from nearby are more likely to follow your property on social media. Because your property is part of their local experience, you have the power to be especially relevant to them. They will be eager to learn of specials, events and activities you are promoting, and to be reminded of the wonderful time they can have at your property.

Keep your property’s social media accounts active with regular posts and stories that highlight the distinctive local experience you offer.

Staycation bookings help properties reduce reliance on seasonality, and offer a great opportunity to develop a loyal customer base. Show local guests they can experience something new and special when vacationing close to home, and your property is bound to become their go-to weekend getaway.

With all these bookings coming in, you’ll want to make sure your reservation system can keep up! Read our recent article on what to look for in an online booking engine.

How Hoteliers Can Turn Negative Reviews into a Positive Online Image

Responding to negative reviews is the key to creating a positive online reputation for your business.

***Guest post from BlueJay Reviews, a WebRezPro partner***

Many hoteliers dread negative reviews, however it’s important to know that when negative reviews are managed correctly, they can actually help to create a positive impression among your existing and potential customers.

When your property does receive the unfortunate negative online review it doesn’t mean that your property and service is actually terrible. The truth for any business is that no matter how great your business is, not all customers are going to leave happy. While you can’t prevent all bad reviews, you can have a game-plan for when it does happen.

Negative reviews can be a blessing in disguise

It’s only natural to be upset and defensive when a customer leaves a negative review, but these feelings are misguided. Here are two reasons why negative reviews can actually help your business:

1.) They legitimize your review pages.

A mix of negative and positive reviews shows customers that your online reviews are genuine. If a review page only has very positive reviews then consumers reading those reviews will become a bit suspicious about whether the page is genuine or not. Research has shown that customers will trust reviews more if they see both positive and negative reviews. After all, no one is perfect.

2.) They bring to light valuable feedback.

Negative reviews can uncover real problems and challenges that your property may be facing. This valuable feedback can not only help you improve your systems and processes but can also give you guidance to make simple changes that can improve your business’s overall guest experience. Also, responding appropriately to negative feedback from a guest could be the key to that guest coming back in the future.

The way you respond to negative reviews both online and in action at your property can have major consequences on your bottom line. All reviews, positive or negative, have an important place in your online reputation. The key is to effectively respond to the feedback and use it to grow your business.

Why you should respond to negative reviews

Potential future guests are looking at your property’s review pages. Research shows that 92% of consumers check online ratings and reviews before making any buying decision. This is truer in the hotel and travel industry than any other industry. 40% of consumers will form an impression of your hotels’ reputation based on those reviews.

It’s critical that potential customers who are reading your property’s online reviews gain the impression you want them to have. Customer perception is shaped by how well your business responds to negative reviews. The way you publicly respond to negative reviews shows potential customers what kind of service they will receive if they choose to stay with you. Potential customers understand that sometimes people have a negative experience at a business, but what is most telling is how that business handled that negative experience. Customers want to know that they will be treated respectfully if they choose to stay at your property.

I received a negative review: what do I do?

It’s important to take a deep breath and not let the initial emotional response you may be feeling come across online in your response. Respond to negative reviews tactfully to turn the customer’s negative experience into a positive one. Don’t be overly defensive, keep the conversation going. Make sure that you follow up with the customer until the customer’s issue has been resolved. Once the problem has been solved, you can politely ask the customer to edit the review or delete it altogether.

Here are a few helpful tips on how to respond to a negative review:

Be sympathetic and apologize. While dealing with an upset customer, take a step back and put yourself in their shoes. Whether or not it’s your fault, a polite apology can help retain the customer. The words “I’m sorry” are very powerful not only in your personal relationships with friends and family, but, believe it or not, in business as well. Even if you aren’t completely to blame, offering a sincere apology has the power to defuse a situation, sometimes even instantaneously. By apologizing, you show your guest (and potential new guests) that you hear them and acknowledge their concerns. You make it clear that you are willing to provide fantastic service for all of your guests.

Provide a solution. In addition to apologizing, offering real solutions to the problem is key. The solution should show that you’ve put an effort into the response and aren’t just posting a canned response. The solution should show genuine concern and thoughtfulness. 

Offer to take the conversation offline. If a customer is very angry it may be wise to offer to speak to them offline. Explain that this will help you ensure that the problem is resolved quickly. Don’t be afraid to provide them with your direct contact information in a private message.

Say “thank you.” Show that you appreciate their time and feedback. Be sympathetic to their concerns and thank them for leaving feedback that will help you build a stronger business.

Get more positive reviews. Responding to negative reviews is very important, but it is equally important to minimize the impact of negative publicity.  It is important to get more positive feedback coming in for your property. Email or text review requests to your customers. Studies show that 70% of customers will leave a review when asked. WebRezPro with BlueJay Reviews integration can help you automate this process when guests check out.

Stay on top of your reviews with BlueJay Reviews

Staying on top of customer feedback is hard. The BlueJay Reviews platform can help. With BlueJay you can maintain a steady stream of fresh reviews, manage feedback, respond to reviews immediately (even automatically) and share positive reviews on your social media pages plus more. To learn more about the WebRezPro integrated review management program with BlueJay Reviews please visit: https://www.webrezpro.com/partners/bluejay-reviews/

Five Make or Break Moments in the Guest Experience

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. When working to create an exceptional guest experience, hoteliers would do well to remember Maya Angelou’s wise words. A seamless holiday full of five-star amenities can be overshadowed by one poor interaction with staff. On the other hand, a well dealt-with crisis can earn loyalty for life. It’s all about how your guests are left feeling when they walk away.

You’ll have dozens of interactions with a guest throughout their stay. They’re all important for leaving a good impression, but some are more critical than others. Here are five make or break moments you should be prepared for:

Booking

The booking experience is the first major make or break moment in the customer journey. It sets the tone and expectations for the rest of the stay, so it needs to be a good one. Most reservations today are made online, making a quick and seamless booking process the key to success at this juncture.

The first step is to ensure your online booking engine is user-friendly. It should be integrated directly into your website, with a prominent “book now” button and easy-to-use availability search feature. Upon booking, a confirmation message should be immediately displayed, with a confirmation email automatically sent. Your guests should be left with no doubt that their reservation went through.

Check-in

Check-in is likely the first in-person interaction a guest will have at your property, which makes it an important make or break moment. A warm greeting is, of course, necessary for making the guest feel welcome and appreciated, but they are also looking for a smooth and expedient check-in experience. They’ve likely spent the day traveling and are excited to get settled and start their holiday. Make your check-in process more efficient by equipping staff with the right technology, and more personable by finding friendly and resourceful front-desk staff.

Guest requests

Simple requests made throughout a guest’s stay provide key moments that could make or break their experience. Whether it’s asking for a toothbrush to be brought to their room, a taxi to be called, or a reservation to be made at a local restaurant, a gracious and expedient response will ensure your guests are left with an excellent impression. Establish a system for handling these requests and tracking tasks, so your staff never drops the ball and leaves a guest feeling frustrated and forgotten.

Unexpected issues

No matter how prepared you and your staff are, problems will arise. Miscommunication may lead to double booking, credit card issues will occasionally interrupt a check-in, and other unforeseen crises will pop up. The key to navigating these moments and maintaining an excellent guest experience is to address the problem quickly and compassionately. Have a go-to strategy for dealing with unexpected issues and be sure to express your sincerest apologies for any inconveniences experienced.

Casual interactions

Your staff interacts with guests frequently throughout their stay. Those small, casual interactions can be just as crucial to ensuring guest satisfaction as the higher-stakes moments. The little things count. Make sure your guests are always met with a warm hello and a smile. Creating a convivial atmosphere will leave your guests feeling uplifted and appreciated.

Guest satisfaction is the name of the game in the hospitality industry. Make sure you’re ready for these key moments, so you make (not break) their experience at your property.

Going Desk-less: The New Hotel “Front Desk”

Traditionally an indispensable point of contact between a hotel and in-house guests, the front desk has always been the place where guests check in, make requests, stop to chat, and check out. But not anymore. From mobile concierges to chatbots, today’s hospitality technology makes it possible for hotels to dispense with their physical front desk.

In fact, the mobile self-check-in process, combined with keyless entry (via keypad or mobile key systems), allows guests to bypass the front desk entirely upon arrival. Self-check-in kiosks too, allow guests to check themselves in without interacting with staff.

While plenty of research shows that hotel guests want mobile and self-service technology that improves efficiency (no-one wants to wait in line), studies also show that guests desire authentic travel experiences—of which human connections are essential.

It’s important for lodging operators to stay current and use technology to improve operations and customer service, but when it comes to hospitality, technology should augment human interaction, not replace it.

Japan’s first robot hotel, Henn-na Hotel, illustrates this point beautifully. The high-tech property recently ditched half its robots because of frequent malfunctions and technical shortcomings resulting in frustrated guests. The hotel found that their robots just didn’t work as well as humans.

A hotel’s front desk customarily provides the first opportunity for the property to make a personal impression, but it can also be confining. Tied to a physical front desk, customer service suffers, especially during busy periods as the queue grows, the phone won’t stop ringing and smiles begin to wane under pressure. On the other hand, eliminating this key touchpoint with self-service solutions causes hotels to miss out on a valuable opportunity to make a personal connection with guests—the kind of connection that builds loyalty.

As always, success lies in finding the balance. Hotels can break free from the constraints of the physical front desk without losing their human touch. Here’s how:

A Welcoming Space

Think of how you might welcome a friend at your home, one you haven’t seen in a while. It would probably go something like this: you greet them warmly at the door, take their bags for them, invite them to sit down and offer them a drink. Contrast that welcoming scenario with this one: you stay seated at your table waiting for your guest to approach you, and then you spell out the house rules and tell them where their room is.

If you think about it, the latter scenario is similar to the way many hotels welcome their guests, but which scenario is more hospitable?

Hotels can greet guests in a more personable way by reducing or eliminating the focus on the front desk. A front desk is a physical barrier between hotel staff and guests, and reinforces the transactional element of the stay. Transforming a desk-based lobby into an inviting lounge area creates a more welcoming space and experience.

From comfortable sofas to indoor plants to complimentary tea and coffee, think about how your lobby can be made both welcoming and functional. Done right, your lobby has the potential to become a space your guests can enjoy, not just pass through. Read our tips for making the most of your lobby for inspiration.

If you’re not ready to eliminate your front desk entirely, consider downsizing your desk and moving it out of the central space. That way, staff can work on administrative tasks during downtime, ready to approach and assist guests as needed.

Mobile Technology

Shifting focus away from the physical front desk is of course dependent on the property’s front office software, particularly in regard to check-in/out and request resolution processes. For a successful desk-less “front desk,” mobile-friendly solutions are key.

Modern property management systems (PMS) are optimized for mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, allowing staff to access and update reservation and hotel data from anywhere.

With a tablet or other mobile device in hand, roving hotel personnel can greet guests in the lobby, invite them to put their bags down and take a seat, offer them a cup of tea or coffee, and then continue to check them in, tell them a bit about the property and make any local recommendations. Or show them personally to their room and continue registration there, making sure everything is to their satisfaction. Such a check-in process results in a more natural, fluid welcome than one conducted across a desk, and is much more befitting of a hospitality business.

WebRezPro PMS includes electronic signature capture for a paperless check-in process, allowing guests to sign check-in receipts or registration cards electronically using a tablet or smartphone. Receipts can then be emailed to guests for their records.

Wireless EMV card readers for guest payments, keypad locking systems or mobile keys, and mobile ID scanning apps go hand in hand with mobile-friendly PMS solutions for a completely streamlined desk-less check-in experience.

When it comes to guest requests, they can be logged and resolved on the go, without having to return to the front desk. Armed with modern mobile solutions, hotel personnel can essentially take the front desk with them wherever they go for improved efficiency and customer service.

Attentive Personnel

Getting rid of your front desk is a bold but exciting move that results in a more personable and memorable stay experience. But it only works with a welcoming, comfortable space, the right technology—and attentive personnel.

Removing the front desk will catch some guests off guard, especially those from older generations, so it’s critical that staff are always available to greet guests as soon as they arrive. No guest should arrive confused, wondering where to go. Even the most meticulous staffing schedule can fall short during periods of high occupancy, but guests can still be invited to take a seat and help themselves to a drink while they wait—a much more appealing scenario than standing in a queue.

Roving personnel should be available to greet guests and check them in, answer questions, respond to requests and make local recommendations. Even properties with a self-check-in option should have staff at the ready to welcome all guests with a smile upon arrival and provide assistance as needed.

While technology is essential for streamlining hotel operations and enhancing the guest experience, it can never replace human hospitality (as Japan’s Henn-na Hotel has shown). Hospitality will always be about people and hotels will always need their human frontline—they just don’t need the desk.

3 More Sleeps! How to Upgrade the Pre-Arrival Experience

Customer service is the name of the game in the hotel industry, but it starts well before the guest checks in. The days leading up to check-in are an exciting time for your guests. Anticipation builds as travelers start dreaming about and researching destinations, choose a place to stay, then count down the days until they get there.

A recent study from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration found that savoring an upcoming experience heightens the enjoyment of the actual experience when it happens and when it’s remembered.

In the quest to deliver a high level of customer service to guests on site, the pre-arrival experience is often overlooked, but it’s an important part of the guest journey. The pre-arrival stage offers lodging operators a prime opportunity for increasing guest engagement, personalizing the guest experience, boosting ancillary revenue and improving guest satisfaction.

Upgrading the pre-arrival experience isn’t hard to do and is well worth the effort!

Start with Your Website

Inspire prospective guests in the dreaming stage of their journey with an engaging website design that reflects your property in its best light. Promote not only your property’s features, amenities, location and what makes it special, but also your local destination from an insider’s perspective. Portraying your property as an experience, rather than just a place to stay, will appeal to your customers’ sense of discovery and fuel their excitement.

Simple design, big, beautiful images, intuitive navigation, mobile friendliness and easy online bookings are some key elements of a hotel website that converts lookers into bookers.

Social Media

Social media networks like Facebook and Instagram are ideal platforms for inspiring travel plans and building excitement. Approximately 30% of U.S. travelers turn to social media to find travel inspiration. Once a trip is booked, consumers turn to social media to feed their excitement, with 52% liking pages related to their vacation and 59% posting a status update about their upcoming trip.

Sharing positive user-generated content and posts about special experiences at your property and local destination will help build anticipation and encourage pre-arrival engagement, whether in the form of a like, a follow, a comment, or contacting your property directly to find out more.

Pre-arrival Communications

Once the booking is made, direct communications by email (mobile-friendly) and mobile messaging are the best way to build guest excitement, promote upgrades and upsells, and gather valuable guest data for personalizing the guest experience. Pre-arrival emails have an average open rate of 57% according to Revinate. There’s an audience you don’t want to miss!

Many properties send a booking confirmation email and then stop there. But the time between booking and check-in is ripe with opportunities for boosting engagement and revenue. We recommend reaching out to future guests three or four times before they arrive.

>> Booking Confirmation – Your booking confirmation email should thank the guest for their booking and contain details of the guest’s reservation as well as helpful information about your property and amenities too. Your property management system (PMS) should recognize repeat guests and trigger booking confirmation that acknowledges their loyalty.

Invite guests to let you know in advance of any special requirements, and offer ways to enhance their stay through upgrades and add-on services.

>> Pre-arrival / Upgrade Offers – About one week before arrival, reach out again to take advantage of the guest’s growing anticipation. Remind them of the details of their stay, invite them to ask questions and make requests, and offer ways to upgrade their experience—through room upgrades, add-ons, restaurant bookings, early check-in, etc. as appropriate.

Help build excitement by letting future guests know about relevant events happening around town while they are visiting, what the weather is like, what to bring, and that you are looking forward to seeing them!

If you are comfortable with it, consider sending another similar (yet briefer) message approximately three days prior to check-in to give guests another opportunity to ask any questions they may have or let you know of any special requests.

A pre-arrival questionnaire provides an easy way for guests to convey their needs and preferences, and can cover questions like, “Are you traveling with kids?” “Do you have any special dietary requirements?” “Are you interested in activity bookings?” “Do you need a ride from the airport?” etc. that will help you personalize their stay.

>> Check-in Day – On check-in day, reach out again to let your guest know you are looking forward to their arrival and to offer any helpful check-in information, like self-check-in options, where to park and when their room is ready.

Some guest engagement platforms like Guestfolio and Zenya enable hotels to send pre-arrival messages that link guests to pre-arrival surveys and/or a personal mobile concierge, allowing guests to personalize their upcoming stay. But even without such technology, your pre-arrival communications should always invite future guests to let you know how you can make their stay perfect.

Any guest information garnered from pre-arrival communications should be added to the guest’s profile and used to personalize their experience going forward.

PMS + CRM & Mobile Messaging Integration

Through customizable templates, personalized pre-arrival communications can be automated through your PMS, CRM or mobile messaging platform, greatly reducing the burden on staff (we’ve yet to meet a lodging operator with the time to personally write to each and every guest!).

But the real magic happens when you integrate your PMS with a CRM or mobile messaging solution. Direct integration allows your PMS to send live reservation data to your CRM or messaging platform, eliminating the need for staff to input that information manually, and resulting in fully automated, highly targeted communications that boost your brand and guest engagement.

Upgrading the pre-arrival experience is something you can achieve today, so don’t hesitate to get your guests excited about their stay and reap the benefits of higher guest engagement, richer guest data, more incremental revenue and more satisfied guests!

An Independent Hotelier’s Guide to Ancillary Revenue

For any hotelier, booking rooms is, of course, the most important strategy for driving profits. But disregarding the potential for ancillary revenue would be a big mistake. Your hotel has more to offer than just a bed to sleep in, and it’s worth recognizing the potential of your property to offer additional products and services. This comprehensive approach to revenue generation will not only improve your bottom line but can help boost customer loyalty and build stronger ties to your community. Here are a few ideas for generating ancillary revenue at your independent hotel:

Utilize your space

When looking for new ways to generate revenue at your property, taking an audit of available spaces is a good place to start. Once you know what you have to work with you can make an appropriate plan. If your hotel caters to a high number of business travelers, or you’re located in a community with a demand for meeting spaces, consider setting up a conference room that can be booked hourly. Larger rooms could be rented out for events, or to local instructors to host exercise classes. A hotel in New York even knocked out two bedrooms to build a stage, and has hosted sold-out magic shows for the last three years.

Partner with local artists

You might not have enough space for large events or exercise classes, but what about a little nook in the lobby? A small display selling the work of local artists or artisans requires little investment of time and resources but can generate ancillary revenue and delight your guests. Think of it like a locally-sourced, trendy gift shop. Your guests are looking for authentic souvenirs to remember their trip. What better to buy than locally crafted goods from the community?

Offer entertainment

Events and activities are a great way to not only generate ancillary revenue from your guests but also members of the community. If you have an on-site restaurant or bar, you’re already set up to do it. Things like live music, trivia nights, and comedy performances can be a big draw in the right community. If you don’t have a restaurant, consider hosting things like outdoor film screenings or markets. And don’t forget about the option of offering your facilities for private events.

If you aren’t able to create your own events or activities, collaborate with community members that do. You can sell tickets to local tours, events, and attractions (for a cut of the profits) independently or as part of a package.

Sell hotel products

Are guests constantly raving about your luxurious linens or toiletries? You may want to consider selling those hotel products so guests can take a piece of your property home with them. Westin Hotels & Resorts are among a number of hospitality companies that sell their products (from shower curtains to body lotions) online. In addition to providing supplementary revenue, it can help reinforce brand recognition and loyalty.

Welcome pets

Pets are a part of 68% of American families. That’s a significant cohort you may want to start catering to. Opening your property up to guests’ four-legged friends means, in addition to potentially boosting bookings, that you have an opportunity for ancillary revenue. Not only are pet fees common practice, but you can also offer services like dog-walking, pet-sitting, and other pet-specific extras.

Finding alternative revenue streams is never a bad idea – especially with high OTA commissions cutting into properties’ bottom lines. Look at your business with an open mind and you’ll be sure to find new opportunities for generating revenue. The potential is there. You just need to find it.

7 Tips to Reduce Booking Abandonment on Your Hotel Website

From redesigning your website to rolling out new marketing campaigns, you spend plenty of resources boosting online traffic. And you should—your property’s website is your store-front to the world. But just getting traffic isn’t enough. It might feel like the battle is won, but you need visitors to make a booking for it to matter. So what’s the final hurdle? Booking abandonment. It’s a big hurdle too; the travel sector experiences booking abandonment at a rate of 81%. Of course, a portion of that abandonment is due to forces outside of your control (many users are doing casual research, with little immediate intent to make a purchase) but a lot can be addressed by making simple changes on your end. Here are eight tips for reducing booking abandonment on your hotel website:

1. Simplify the process

The more steps and confusion involved in making a booking, the more likely a user is to abandon it altogether. In fact, one study suggests that every unnecessary step in the booking process costs you 10% of your customers. Reduce the fatigue and frustration felt by bookers by shortening the sales funnel. Try aiming for a two-step booking process.

2. Optimize design

If your website isn’t optimized for mobile yet, it should be. Over half of all internet traffic in 2018 was generated through mobile phones, and that number is only going to grow. It is, therefore, imperative that mobile users have as good an experience on your site as those accessing via a desktop. If the text and CTA buttons are the wrong sizes, or navigation bars appear in the wrong place, mobile users will be quick to abandon the booking.

3. Test the experience

Once you have simplified your booking process and ensured your website is optimized for mobile, you should make sure your efforts were successful. Have somebody test the user experience (by filling out forms, signing up for newsletters, and making bookings) and report back on the usability and intuitiveness of your entire site.

4. Be upfront about costs

We’ve all gone to make a purchase online, only to discover unexpected fees added at checkout. It isn’t a good feeling and often results in booking abandonment. Make sure your customers aren’t leaving with a sense of distrust and resentment by being upfront about all costs.

5. Incorporate live chat

Should a customer encounter an issue, or require the answer to a question before committing, it is likely the booking will be abandoned. You can mitigate this risk by incorporating a live chat (or chatbot) feature into your website. This way, questions can be answered in real-time so the booking can be completed.

6. Highlight your USP

It’s easier for a customer to abandon a booking if they feel like there’s a line-up of similar options available. Without the perception that your property is offering something different, there is no sense of urgency to book now. For this reason, it’s essential you are highlighting your unique selling point (USP) throughout your website. This could be anything from your one-of-a-kind location to excellent staff to exciting onsite events. Whatever it is that makes your property stand out, make sure bookers know what they’ll miss if they abandon the process.

7. Incentivize direct bookings

Offering an incentive to book direct is vital for reducing revenue lost to OTA commissions, but it can also help minimize abandoned bookings. Any special offer, whether it’s a complimentary drink or early check-in, creates a sense of urgency in the customer to complete a booking.

Abandoned bookings are missed opportunities for revenue. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to minimize their effect on your business.

TripAdvisor has Changed: Here’s What’s Different and What it Means for Hoteliers

Hoteliers today use a variety of online channels—from social media platforms to online travel agencies—to market their properties and take bookings. These online channels are integral to the success of all lodging operators today, but just as you make changes at your property to stay competitive and find new revenue streams, these third-party platforms are doing the same. Distribution channels and other social sites regularly adjust their algorithms and formats. To continue finding success on these platforms, business owners must remain aware of and ready to adapt to these changes. So, here’s a rundown of TripAdvisor’s latest big change (see their press release about it here.)

What has changed?

In an attempt to bring TripAdvisor further into the realm of social media, and encourage people to use it on a more regular basis, the travel juggernaut has introduced a ‘travel feed.’ Similar to Facebook, users of the site can: create profiles; post photos and videos; and follow friends, brands, and influencers. They can create “trips” (private or public) to consolidate all the maps, itineraries, must-sees, and must-dos for a destination they are planning on (or just dreaming about) visiting. And when they first log-in, users will be met with a personalized front page showcasing posts, articles, and profiles relevant to their current travel interests.

While on a trip, TripAdvisor can send notifications to a user when they are nearby businesses or attractions that someone they follow has reviewed. If a user wants to make a booking, they can do so directly through the platform. After visiting a business, reviews (of course) can be posted directly onto the platform.

What inspired the change?

In a word: efficiency. According to CEO and co-founder Stephen Kaufer, TripAdvisor wants to make travel planning and booking simpler for its users by having everything in one place. As the majority of today’s travelers rely on consumer reviews as well as advice from friends and family when booking a trip, it just makes sense to create a space where both those sources can be accessed, saved, and referenced as needed. Combined with built-in booking, TripAdvisor is looking to be involved in the entire travel experience, before, during, and after a trip.

How will these changes affect hoteliers?

It’s difficult to say for sure how this change will impact businesses listed on the platform largely because we are still waiting to see how successful the travel feed is. However, it is likely that consistently generating reviews will be even more important than it is now. The personalized travel feeds will prioritize businesses with the most recent reviews so hoteliers should do what they can to encourage guests to post feedback.

According to Elliot Cohen, VP of Product, TripAdvisor’s new travel feed can be leveraged by businesses “to reach new customers and reach people in real time.” Just like they would do on Facebook or Instagram, businesses can post special promotions to encourage users to make a booking.

TripAdvisor is a huge player in the tourism industry. With an average of 456 million unique visitors logging on every month, it is estimated that the site influences 546 billion dollars of spending annually. That’s no small impact. So when they announce an overhaul of this magnitude, it’s a good idea to stay informed. The changes are new, so it’s hard to say just how this format will affect business in the tourism industry. Make sure to keep an eye on your analytics just in case.

The Southampton Inn

The Southampton Inn is a century-old home that has been gracefully transformed into a charming seven room inn. Located in Southampton, Ontario, this inn is just one block from Lake Huron and offers amenities such as private baths, free WiFi and a delicious and nutritious breakfast. The Southampton Inn has just started using our WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Click through to their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro to accept online bookings!

WebRezPro Clients Named in TripAdvisor’s 2019 Travellers’ Choice Awards

It’s that time of year again. TripAdvisor has just released its annual Travellers’ Choice awards, acknowledging excellence in the hospitality industry. These awards, which are now in their 17th year, celebrate lodging operators around the world, who are delivering an exceptional guest experience in various niches of travel accommodation. Top properties are named in Luxury, Bargain, Small, Best Service, B&Bs and Inns, Romance, Family, All-Inclusive and Top Overall categories in regions that span the globe. We are excited to see that many WebRezPro clients are among the 7,812 Travellers’ Choice recipients this year. We’d like to offer a big congratulations to the following lodging operators:

Well done! These awards, which are determined by millions of reviews posted to TripAdvisor throughout the year, reflect an unparalleled commitment to quality, service and value. Inclusion in this list comes directly from guest feedback, making it a truly meaningful win. We hope you have another successful year and continue to impress your guests from all over the world. Keep up the good work!

You can see the full list of winners here.