Google Ads 101: A Hotelier’s Guide to Advertising with Google (Part 2)

In part 1 of this blog, we discussed how Google’s advertising service, Google Ads, works, and how to determine if it’s a platform you should be using. Part 2 will outline the steps required to begin marketing on this powerful platform.

Getting Started

Set up account >> To begin, navigate to the Google Ads site, and click the ‘Start Now’ call-to-action button. You’ll need to enter your email address and website URL. You can create a new Google account, or use one you already have.

Creating a Campaign

Identify a budget >> When starting a new Google Ads campaign, you’ll first need to identify how much you want to spend in the “Your budget” section. You’ll need to choose your currency and the average amount you wish to spend PER DAY. This value can always be adjusted later as you analyze the success of the campaign.

Select audience by location >> This feature allows you to choose to display your ads to customers from a specific location. You can identify your audience by country, region, city, or even neighborhood. For example, if a local airline just announced a direct flight to your city from somewhere else in the country, you might want to create a campaign that specifically targets that area.

Create custom audiences >> If you’re creating a display ad, you can create custom audiences based on affinity and intent. The feature allows you to enter keywords and URLs that correlate with your target demographic, allowing the system to display ads to users most likely to have an interest in your property.

Select a network >> This is where you identify what type of ad you want to create. For ads that appear in search results, choose Google Search Network. For advertisements that appear in web banners, within apps, or on YouTube, select Google Display Network.

Choose your keywords >> Next, you need to choose the terms that you want your ad to appear in the search results for. For phrases, you can choose to show up in searches containing those words in any order (called a modified broad match), containing those words in order (phrase match), or an exact match only. In addition to things like “Accommodation in X,” you should consider bidding on branded keywords as well (i.e. search terms containing your property name). This might seem unnecessary, but they’ll be cheap, and it will stop competitors from redirecting users looking for your hotel.

Place a bid >> When you’re setting up your maximum cost-per-click bid, you have two options. You can allow Google Ads to automatically manage your bid (by adjusting your CPC to get the maximum number of clicks while staying within your budget) or set the maximum manually.

Write your ad >> For the search network you’ll need to create a text ad. It should include a title and description that are closely related to your keywords. This will signal to the user that you’re offering exactly what they are looking for. You’ll need to enter the landing URL for the ad, which should take users to a landing page specific to their search query (linking to a generic homepage is not a good idea).

Use ad extensions >> There are a number of extensions available for your ad. Location extensions can be used to provide extra business details, call and message extensions enable guests to contact your business directly from your ad, site-link extensions can provide links to multiple different landing pages, call-out extensions offer you more space for text, and structured snippets let you create headers and lists within your ad.

Set up tracking >> Conversion tracking allows you to understand how people are interacting with your ad. You’ll want to set up tracking for your website, so you’ll know how many clicks are leading to a booking. This will require you to set up a conversion action in Google Ads and then copy the tracking tag onto the page of your website associated with a completed conversion (i.e. a ‘Thank you for booking’ page).

Set up billing >> Before you can start advertising, you’ll need to set up billing. Automatic billing will be taken every 30 days, or when you reach your designated budget. You may also make manual payments as desired.

Google Ads is a powerful service with the potential to offer huge ROI—if you’re using it appropriately. Make sure you’re always analyzing the performance of campaigns and adjusting them as necessary. Good luck!

Google Ads 101: A Hotelier’s Guide to Advertising with Google (Part 1)

If you’ve done any marketing at all, you’ll have heard of Google Ads. The advertising service provided by Google is used by millions of businesses worldwide. Which makes sense. Google handles billions of search queries every day, so it’s a platform with the potential to reach any target market you desire. And as the tech giant owns multiple popular platforms, Google Ads gives you access to customers using YouTube, Gmail, and other sites in its network—of course advertisers want to be on it. But it’s not something you can just sign-up for and expect good results. While there’s potential to see huge ROI with the service, a mismanaged account can quickly drain your marketing budget. So, it needs to be used wisely. With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to the powerful service:

How does it work? 

Google Ads is a pay-per-click advertising service. Businesses bid on the search terms that they want their ads to appear for, and then pay each time a user clicks on it. For example, a bed and breakfast in San Francisco might bid on the phrase “accommodation in San Francisco” so their ad will appear at the top of those search results. If a user clicks on the ad, the B&B pays their bid amount, but if the ad isn’t clicked on, the B&B pays nothing.

There are different types of ads a business can create with Google Ads. Search ads are listings that appear in Google search results. Those are the most popular type of ads, but businesses can also choose to use display ads (banner advertisements that appear on Gmail and other websites within Google’s network), video-based ads (which appear on YouTube), and App Ads (which appear within Google applications).

How are ads ranked?

There’s a lot of competition on Google, and you certainly won’t be the only business bidding on your chosen keywords. Where your ad shows up in relation to other businesses bidding on the same search query is determined by your advertising rank. And your advertising rank is determined by both your maximum bid and quality score.

Your quality score is a value that expresses how optimized and relevant your ad is to the searcher. The click-through rate of the ad, the conversion rate of your landing page, and how specific the ad is in relation to the search query all factor into an ad’s quality score.

It’s important to note that because advertising rank is a function of both your bid value and quality score, you can improve your rank without continuing to throw money at it. Always work on optimizing your ads first, so you don’t end up with an unprofitable cost-per-click.

Should I be using it?

Google Ads is a powerful service for businesses. But like any marketing endeavor, you should assess your budget, availability, and the platform suitability to decide if it’s right for you. First, research the average cost-per-click for your industry. And, using your conversion rates, determine a rough estimate for your cost-per-conversion. Is this an acceptable number? If yes, you should next consider the time you’ll need to invest in managing your account. For Google Ads campaigns to be successful, you need to be regularly evaluating and adapting your bid maximums, search terms, ad types, and so on. If you don’t have an employee that can dedicate at least a couple of hours a week to this account, you may want to consider working with a consultant.

Google Ads is a robust marketing tool. If you’ve decided the service is right for you, read our next blog for a step-by-step guide to getting started.

5 Hospitality Trends to Look Out For in 2019

A new year is beginning, and it’s the perfect time to take stock of what’s working, what isn’t, and start making a plan for finding success and wowing customers in 2019. Need a change but lack inspiration? Here are a few hospitality trends that will dominate in the new year:

More Mobile

The transition to an all-mobile world continues. It seems like every year there are new steps hoteliers must take to stay mobile friendly. In the beginning, that just meant ensuring websites were optimized for mobile devices. Oh, how far we’ve come. Moving into 2019 and beyond, mobile will be an important part of all aspects of the guest experience. Many hotels will allow guests to make and manage bookings through hotel apps, check-in and out on their mobile devices, and access rooms with a mobile key. Rooms will be equipped with smart technology that allows lighting, temperature, and entertainment to be controlled via personal devices and room service orders and other requests will be made over text messaging. Mobile technology has found its way into every aspect of our lives, and that includes travel. So, consider ways to make your business more mobile friendly. This is a trend that isn’t going away.

Health and Well-Being

Moving into the new year, wellness tourism (travel with the intent to maintain or improve health) will be even bigger than it was in 2018. In fact, the industry is forecasted to reach $919 billion in revenue by 2022. With numbers like that, there’s good reason to incorporate health and wellness into your hospitality business. And there are a variety of options for accomplishing this: from installing fitness centers, health spas or saunas, to hosting retreats and serving healthy food options. If you don’t have the necessary facilities on-site, consider partnering with a local business. You could provide a health and wellness package that includes passes to a nearby studio.

Social, Social, Social

This will likely come as no surprise, but social media will continue to play a significant role in 2019. This year we will see a shift towards more ephemeral content, with live-streaming and social media stories gaining momentum across many popular platforms. And behind the scenes, social listening will become a more prevalent marketing practice—allowing businesses to monitor online chatter about their brand for more effective lead generation and reputation management.

Cool Tech

The futuristic tech that we’ve blogged about in the past will begin to gain traction in the hospitality industry this year. It’s predicted that chatbots will be involved in more than 85% of customer service interactions by the year 2020—which isn’t surprising. AI can provide 24/7 service while significantly reducing cost. And there is little customer resistance as consumers adjust to the use of chatbots and other digital assistants in all aspects of their lives.

Though still in its infancy, the use of robots in hospitality will also continue to climb this year. What began as an exciting novelty, has become an essential piece of the customer service puzzle in a few larger hotels across North America and Asia. Like chatbots, they have the potential to maximize service while reducing staffing costs.

Other tech trends to look out for this year include the use of biometrics and virtual reality.

Adults-only

While many hotels invest in amenities that cater to the whole family, there is a growing subset of properties doing just the opposite. Adults-only properties (all guests must be 16 years or older to stay) are seeing an upswing in popularity recently that will likely continue into the new year. As more and more adults seek out the tranquility of a kid-free holiday, middle and budget properties are participating in what used to be the exclusive territory of luxury resorts in the Caribbean.

The hospitality industry is always evolving. It’s important to stay abreast of changes in design, operations, and technology, so you don’t get left behind. Keep these current and emerging trends in mind when looking to make changes this year.

Making the Switch: Changing Your Hotel’s PMS Is Easier Than You Think

Ten years ago the thought of changing a property management system (PMS) was a very scary one for lodging operators. Working with on-property, server-based systems made changing hotel technology a complicated and expensive undertaking that was significantly disruptive to daily operations. Without the resources required to upgrade, many properties found themselves stuck with outdated systems that held business back.

The advent of cloud technology helped overcome major obstacles to switching core hotel systems, significantly reducing the cost of investment—in both expenditure and time. Offering pay-as-you-go pricing, intuitive user interfaces, free and seamless updates, professional data security, and compatibility with other hotel technology, cloud PMS make switching faster, affordable and far less disruptive to daily operations today than ever before.

And it’s just as well; as the hospitality industry becomes increasingly reliant on technological innovation to stay relevant and competitive, a smooth changeover is key.

Step 1: Make the Decision to Switch

There are many reasons why you might consider changing your PMS. Perhaps your current system is outdated and incompatible with more recent technology implemented at your property. Or maybe it lacks the flexibility you need to do things the way you want. New management coming on board might want to replace the current system just because they are more familiar with another. Or your PMS vendor may have been acquired by another company, or gone out of business.

Remnant fears or concerns over changing systems—mainly to do with cost and service disruption—still hold some businesses back from making a switch, but in the current hospitality technology climate this frame of mind does more harm than good. As the control center of your business, your PMS needs to be in top form to maximize productivity and profitability.

Step 2: Choose the Best Fit for Your Business

Hotel technology is in an exciting phase, continually evolving and innovating to enhance efficiency and the guest experience. To stay competitive, it’s important to find a PMS that meets your property’s current needs and future plans.

This means partnering with a vendor that listens and responds to the needs of its clients, and demonstrates ongoing improvement and innovation of its solutions. Consider following vendors’ blogs and subscribing to their newsletters to get an idea of ongoing product development.

Along with innovation, you’ll want to make sure your new PMS has staying power. An established, tried-and-tested solution with a solid customer base speaks volumes to longevity and reliability. How long has the vendor been in business? When was the system launched? Does their customer base continue to grow?

Do your research to ensure your new PMS will provide the functionality that you need now, and the flexibility to accommodate the way you might do business in the future. Book some free demos to assess how you would conduct daily tasks, how the system will improve productivity at your property, and how it can grow with your business. A guided demo should give you a good idea of how well the software will meet your requirements, from managing rates and reservations to running reports that generate the information you need.

Read our post on essential features to expect from today’s cloud PMS solutions for further guidance on specific functionality you should look for, such as interactive calendars, commission-free direct online bookings, automated guest communications, mobile accessibility, and more.

WebRezPro PMS’ Interactive Availability Calendar makes managing reservations easy

Look for a vendor that has existing partnerships with other reputable hotel technology providers, including online distribution channels, payment gateways, POS and CRM solutions, etc. If the vendor does not already offer integration with technology that you would like to connect to your PMS, find out if an interface is possible. Established cloud PMS providers are always developing new relationships with other hospitality solutions.

It’s also important to check software reviews for solutions you are considering. Pay particular attention to what other lodging operators say about the system’s customer support. Occasional bugs can happen in even the best systems, especially in ones that are continually innovating and improving. What matters most is how the technical support team handles such issues as they come up. Whether your property is big or small, your PMS vendor should always be there for you when you need them.

Step 3: Make the Switch

Your new PMS vendor should work with you to make the transition to their system from your old system as smooth as possible.

For example, when properties switch to WebRezPro PMS, we guide and streamline the process by offering: 

  • The ability to import guest profiles and future reservations from your old PMS.
  • A dedicated launch assistant to guide you through the changeover, every step of the way.
  • Commitment to a going-live date that works with your property’s timeline. Depending on the complexity of hotel operations, you can be fully up and running within a few days.
  • Ongoing customer support at no extra cost.

While switching core hotel systems is much less of an ordeal now than a few years ago, it still pays to plan ahead and be aware of issues that can arise during the changeover period. Switching systems is a much smoother process when you are well prepared.

From choosing a changeover date that will be least disruptive to your operations, to thinking about how to process in-house guests staying through on cut-over day, you’ll need a well thought-out action plan. If you’re in need of some direction, check out our guide to changing your property management system, which includes a handy checklist that covers step-by-step action points for before, on and after cut-over day.

If, for whatever reason, your current PMS is no longer meeting the needs of your property, don’t let unwarranted fears and concerns prevent you from upgrading to a new solution that will increase your property’s productivity and profits. If you would like to learn more about WebRezProPMS, contact us for a free, no-obligation demo.

A Hotelier’s Guide to the Holiday Season

You’re probably just beginning to take down your Halloween decor, but pretty soon you’ll have new decorations to put up. Christmas is fast approaching, and you need to be prepared. The holidays are an excellent time for hotels to increase occupancy, up-sell bookings, and delight guests. So, it’s time to start planning.

Here’s a quick guide to help hoteliers get ready for (and get the most out of) this holiday season.

Special packages

Like all special occasions, you should take this opportunity to curate themed packages to offer your guests. These could include things like Christmas dinner, gift-wrapping services, holiday cookies—family packages could even feature a visit from Santa.

When building packages, consider partnering with local businesses. You might not have the ability to put on big holiday events at your property, but you can still include tickets to local events and attractions in the community. Things like sleigh rides, light displays, holiday concerts, and ski passes make great additions to a holiday package.

In addition to creating new packages, look at existing ones and tweak their descriptions to give them a holiday spin. If it includes spa services, for example, you could rename it “Holiday Bliss” and invite them to “have a stress-free holiday this year.”

Seasonal cocktails

If you have a bar or restaurant at your property, the drink menu is an excellent place to add some holiday flair. There’s nothing like the smell of mulled wine (maybe next to a roaring fire) to make it feel like a cozy Christmas haven. And seasonal cocktails like peppermint martinis, eggnog, and hot buttered rum are sure to spread some holiday cheer.

Holiday events

There are all sorts of holiday events you can host at your property. They can be as extravagant or as simple as you want so long as it fits your brand and clientele. Among a long list of holiday offerings, Fairmont Empress is hosting multiple turkey dinners, will have Christmas carolers in their lobby and a life-size gingerbread house on display. Last year Woodmark Hotel invited families to decorate cookies with a local chef. So, get creative. You can hold a snowman building contest, plan a card-making workshop, host movie nights with holiday classics—whatever you think will get your guests enjoying the season.

Decorations

No holiday venue is complete without decorations. These should go up around the first week of December and can include garlands, lights, ribbons, wreaths, ornaments, and, of course, a Christmas tree.

If your property is family-friendly, consider adding an Elf on the Shelf into your decorating strategy. This popular toy can be moved every night and set up in a new and entertaining pose (look here for inspiration). And you can turn it into a contest with your guests. They can take a picture when they find him, upload it to social media, tag your property, and be entered in a contest. It’s a lot of fun for the guests and great marketing for you.

Marketing

Speaking of marketing, once you’ve planned all your holiday festivities you need to promote them. Whatever packages and events you have planned should be featured on your website and across social media channels. And consider creating a seasonal events calendar on your site that highlights your own activities as well as those in the community. Offering current, relevant information will help SEO and add value for your guests.

Once you’ve decorated your propertyand when events and activities are going onbe sure to take professionally shot photos and footage. They’ll be a valuable marketing asset this time next year.

 

The holiday season is an exciting (and profitable) time. Start preparing your property now so that you can make the most of it.

Hotel Rock Lititz

Located in Lititz, PennsylvaniaHotel Rock Lititz is a modern property that offers 139 guest rooms and a host of amenities including a fitness center, bike rentals, an indoor pool, a hot tub, a restaurant and bar and room service. Hotel Rock Lititz 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 web reservation software to accept online bookings!

Social Responsibility in the Hospitality Industry: What You Can Do and Why You Should

Among the many ways millennials are changing the hospitality industry, their commitment to socially conscious consumerism is a significant one. They consider it a business’s role to contribute to the well-being of the community (in addition to making profits), and they’re ready to put their money where their mouth is. 73% of millennials are willing to spend more on products and services from sustainable brands and nine out of ten would switch brands to one associated with a cause.

In addition to attracting and earning the loyalty of guests, socially responsible initiatives can help entice and retain employees as well. People want to work for a company with a positive impact. They’ll have higher job satisfaction, which means a lower employee turnover rate for you.

Here’s how you can become more socially responsible—and benefit your community and your brand at the same time.

Eco-friendly initiatives

To appeal to the socially conscious traveler, going green should be your first priority. Last year, 65% of global travelers expressed an intent to stay in eco-friendly accommodation. And you don’t want to miss out on those potential customers. So what can you do to show a commitment to the environment? Try things like swapping out lightbulbs for energy efficient alternatives, installing low-flow taps and toilets, and reducing plastic use.

 If you’ve already made those changes and are looking for a little more inspiration, check out El Nido Resorts in Indonesia. They’re a shining example of the steps a lodging operation can take to become eco-friendlier. The resorts were constructed using renewable materials, and their menu consists primarily of locally sourced ingredients. They also boast advanced water catchment systems, grey water recycling, desalination plants, and on-site composting and sewage treatment facilities. On top of all that, the resorts host on-going environmental programs that include beach clean-ups, ecosystem preservation and rehabilitation, and wildlife monitoring.

Community Service

Social responsibility means more than caring about the environment. It’s about caring for people and communities too. And that makes sense as a hotelier. Your community is what makes your locality great and entices travelers to visit—so you should be invested in its health and prosperity. Consider creating initiatives or programs that give back to the community you love.

Melia Zanzibar won a hospitality award for the implementation of their Global Corporate Social Responsibility Model. Their mission was to improve the overall quality of life of the locals living in the neighboring village of Kairo. They built a well for fresh water, rebuilt the village mosque, renovated homes, and taught basic agriculture and self-sufficiency to the community.

Charitable Contributions

Whether it’s to help the community or conserve the environment, setting up your own programs and initiatives can be a daunting task. If you’re not ready to do it on your own, consider partnering with a charity.

Omni Hotels and Resorts makes charitable donations to Feeding America with their Say Goodnight to Hunger campaign. And they use it as an incentive for guests to book direct. For every direct booking they receive, they commit to feeding a family of four for a week.

The chefs at Kimpton Hotels participate in the Chefs Cycle fundraising event for No Kid Hungry every year. And donations are made to the charity when featured items are purchased at participating restaurants.

 

Travelers today are more conscious about their impact on the world than ever before. They want to stay in accommodation and support businesses that are doing what they can to improve their local communities. So, consider implementing social responsibility initiatives at your property. It’ll be good for the world and great for your brand.

If You List It They Will Come: A Hotelier’s Guide to Google My Business

Most people planning a vacation start with a Google search. That’s why you work so hard to optimize your search results placement with SEO strategies. And you should. But it’s not all you can be doing to make the platform work for you. Managing your Google My Business listing is an important step for staying competitive on the powerful search engine.

What it is

Google My Business is a free, online tool that allows you to control how your business appears across Google. A listing for your property, curated by you, appears on Google Maps and in the Knowledge Graph (the info-box on the righthand side) of search results. It’s like an online storefront. Users can see your property, and relevant information about it, before clicking onto your websitemaking your business more visible and more accessible to potential guests.

Where to start

The first step is to search for any existing listings for your business. While you may not have created one yourself, an unclaimed listing may exist—in which case you’ll need to claim it. Otherwise, visit the Google My Business page and click ‘Start Now.’ From there you’ll need to create an account, verify your business, and then begin managing your listing.

Managing your listing

Categories >> You’ll need to choose a primary category that represents what type of business you are. This helps Google list your business appropriately and gives you access to category-specific features. Hotel listings, for example, can add class-ratings and amenities to their entries. In addition to one primary category, you can choose up to nine others if appropriate for your business.

Business information >> This is obvious, but you’ll want to ensure all your business information is accurate and up-to-date. That includes things like your contact info and website URL as well as a description of your business. If you choose to upload a description (you should), it must be less than 750 characters and adhere to Google’s description guidelines.

Photo and video content >> Listings with photos experience 35% more clicks through to their website. So, don’t skip this step. Upload as many professionally shot photos that you need to tell your property’s story and inspire prospective guests. Within the bunch, you can identify a profile photo and cover photo so Google knows which ones you’d like to display first. Click here for Google’s full photo and video guidelines.

Reviews >> Google is always encouraging customers to leave reviews after visiting a business. It has turned the online juggernaut into the #1 review site in the world, and those reviews are included in your Google My Business listing. That’s a good thing because user feedback is significantly more trusted than traditional marketing. So make sure you are responding to these reviews as part of your reputation management strategy.

Updates >> Make listing updates a regular part of your management strategy. In addition to ensuring the accuracy of all information, and responding to reviews, you can post special offers and promotions directly on your listing. Keeping your Google My Business page fresh will help it stand out to potential guests.

Optimization >> Google My Business includes an analytics feature (called Insights) that allows you to understand how people are interacting with your listing. You can use it, for example, to determine how people are finding your listing, how many times they view it, and how often people ask for directions to your property.

Google My Business is a powerful marketing tool. Make sure you’re claiming and managing your listing to maximize its potential. And consider downloading the platform’s app to make the job as easy as possible.

A Hotelier’s Guide to Responding to Online Reviews

Today’s consumers rely heavily on reviews to make purchasing decisions. The quantity and quality of online reviews are both considered when determining what to buy or where to book. That makes them critical to a business’s success. But it’s not just about maximizing positive reviews and minimizing the negative ones (although that’s certainly important). Responding to reviews is also an essential part of reputation management. If done correctly it can further capitalize on the good reviews and mitigate the damage of the bad. Here’s a quick guide to responding to online reviews:

General tips

Use their name >> Always start your responses with the name of the customer. “Hi, Louise. Thank you.. “ or “Hello, Max. We are so sorry…” sound much more personal than beginning with a cold “Thank you …” or “We are so sorry…”. Using names tells your customers that you care about them as individuals. And it makes it seem less like an automated response.

Be genuine >> Nobody likes receiving a canned response. It feels inauthentic and doesn’t do anything to build a connection with customers. So, avoid generic statements and use language that showcases your property’s personality.

Don’t be repetitive >> It can be tempting to use the same responses over and over to save time, but people read multiple reviews when researching online. If the same phrases are repeated time and time again, they’ll notice. So, mix things up—it’ll look better for your brand.

Positive reviews

While most of your responses should be focused on negative reviews, responding to some positive ones is still important. It shows you don’t take customers’ kind words for granted, and is an opportunity to leverage the review even further.

Repeat the positive feature >> When a guest writes a rave review they usually include the specific details that meant the most to them—things like “the breakfast every morning was delicious.” Restate those details in your responses. Saying something like “we’re so glad you enjoyed our breakfast!” shows the guest (and others reading the exchange) that you’re listening to what they have to say and reiterates the positive attributes of your property.

Use your business name and keywords >> When crafting your response make sure to include your property’s name (i.e. “we are so pleased to hear you enjoyed your time at [PROPERTY NAME]” as well as other keywords. You want people to see your positive reviews, and this will help them show up in search results.

Include subtle marketing >> Reviews have a vast audience of potential customers, so don’t miss the opportunity to plug your property further. After thanking the guest for their kind words, include a subtle call-to-action. Something like “we’re so happy to hear you enjoyed your view of the lake! You should come back and see it in the winter; it’s so beautiful!”.

Negative reviews

Negative reviews aren’t fun, but they happen to everyone. And your responses say a lot to the potential customers reading them. So, you need to have a plan for how to move forward. If done well, you can significantly reduce any fallout (and a guest may even revise it afterwards).

Acknowledge and apologize >> The first thing you should do is acknowledge the experience your guest had and express your apologies for it. People tend to calm down when their feelings are validated.

Move the conversation offline >> You don’t want to turn negative reviews into long, drawn-out discussions online. After apologizing for the guest’s experience, include an invitation to contact you offline so the situation can be resolved.

Keep it short and sweet >> Nobody wants to read paragraphs of text, especially when they’re upset. So, don’t add fuel to the fire with long-winded responses. A simple acknowledgment, apology, and an invitation to communicate further are all you need.

Don’t use your business name or keywords >> Unlike your positive reviews, you really don’t want negative reviews to be popping up on search results. For this reason, avoid using your property’s name or relevant keywords in your responses.

Responding to online reviews should be a regular part of your marketing strategy. Make sure you’re doing it right, so you can make the most of positive reviews and reduce the effects of negative ones.

15 Years (and Counting): WebRezPro Looks Back—and Forward—on the Cloud PMS Story

This year marks WebRezPro’s 15th year streamlining daily operations for lodging providers as an automated, cloud-based property management solution. As we look back on WebRezPro’s pioneering beginnings and ahead toward ongoing innovation, this milestone is an achievement that both fills our team with pride and encourages us to never stop striving for the best for our customers.

How It All Began

Way back in the mid ‘90s our company, World Web Technologies Inc. (WWT), was running an online travel agency. The internet was pretty novel back then, but our company president, Frank Verhagen, knew it wasn’t a passing fad. In the late ‘90s, WWT released an online room reservation system for independent hotels and inns. Today it would be considered pretty basic, but back then it was exciting, cutting-edge technology that opened up a whole new marketplace for our hotel clients. As people became more comfortable with making reservations online, hoteliers quickly began to see the potential of web-based technology.

Soon our clients began to ask us about the possibility of integrating front- and back-office functionality into their online reservation system, so that they could use the software to check guests in and out, and keep track of inventory and invoicing.

Working closely with our customers, we built the features they needed into the system, until it was no longer just a reservation system. And so, in 2003, WebRezPro was born, and it continues to evolve in the same way; guided and inspired by our clients—real lodging operators.

The Potential of the Cloud

When WebRezPro was launched in 2003, web-based (cloud) software was still a fledgling concept within the hotel industry, but it was hard for our clients to ignore the benefits of an online system.

The ability to accept reservations online boosted hotel revenue for no extra effort, and the automation of previously manual administrative tasks (such as tracking reservations and inventory and issuing invoices) saved hotel staff a lot of time that they could instead focus on guests.

System setup was a breeze (no software installation needed) and typically didn’t require any extra hardware beyond what our customers already had. Plus, we took care of system maintenance, upgrades and data security remotely, taking a huge weight off our clients’ minds. Basically, we offered lodging operators an automated system that greatly increased daily operational efficiency, kept data safe, didn’t demand technical know-how from hoteliers, and was affordable to even the smallest properties.

Even so, not all lodging operators were convinced. As always, there was some resistance to change; the idea of making reservations online made some hoteliers nervous. Is the internet safe? Wouldn’t guests rather talk to someone on the phone? Isn’t software expensive and hard to learn? (I’m doing fine with my big reservations book and a calculator!)…

But as the years passed, word got around. WebRezPro was improving the bottom line at our customers’ properties, and it was bringing advantages legacy systems couldn’t offer, beyond affordability. As a web-based system, WebRezPro allowed hotels to securely access their property management system from any computer with an internet connection—on or off property. Even before the world went mobile, this was recognized as a huge convenience, eliminating the need to install and pay for software on multiple workstations.

Unlike with their legacy systems, our clients had free access to software upgrades, and they could hand over system maintenance and data security to us. As more years passed, software vendors began to realize the increasing technical ease and benefits of integration partnerships, afforded by advances in cloud technology. Integrating their hotel systems allowed lodging operators to further streamline their workflow by automating cross-system processes, for example, applying long-distance call charges and ancillary sales to guest folios, and processing credit card payments.

Those early years were an exciting time for cloud hotel technology and the innovation hasn’t stopped. We love helping our customers’ properties reach their full potential with the latest real-world technological solutions.

The Secret to Our Success

Fifteen years in, WebRezPro is enjoying exponential growth, now used at over 1,200 properties in 40 countries. That’s great news not only for our company but for the hospitality industry as a whole. It’s proof that lodging operators are embracing cloud technology to optimize operations and the guest experience.

We think WebRezPro’s success stems from an unwavering commitment to our clients’ success. No matter how big or small the property, the needs of each and every one of our clients are important to us. Our dedicated Support Team know WebRezPro inside out, are fluent in the hospitality industry, and are consistently praised for quick, personalized customer care (just take a look at some of our reviews).

As part of our mission to see our clients succeed, WebRezPro offers a high level of flexibility. This is evident within core functionality (from flexible inventory and rate/package management to customizable reports), through optional modules tailored to different lodging types (for example, our Owner Payout Module for vacation rental operators and Centralized Administration Module for property groups), through integrations with numerous other hotel systems, and through software customizations.

Every property is unique. We believe that hotel technology should be adaptable to a property’s needs and facilitate their unique vision, not limit businesses with rigid functionality.

WebRezPro is a comprehensive PMS that is always improving. Software updates are driven by industry technology innovation and lodging operators’ needs, and are often a result of direct requests from our clients. Our clients are not just customers, they are our partners, and this relationship is a big part of WebRezPro’s success.

Looking Ahead

Our mission to support lodging operators with practical technological solutions that improve efficiency, the guest experience and revenue, in step with the latest hospitality trends and innovations is an eternal one. Technology is always evolving, and so must we all with it!

Vendor partnerships that contribute to the centralization and optimization of data through system integration are key to unlocking greater efficiency and innovation at every property. WebRezPro currently has partnerships with over 90 hospitality technology vendors, including channel managers and OTAs, payment gateways, POS systems, guest experience platforms, mobile keys and more. We are always forging relationships with vendors that help enhance our solution, and will continue to do so.

Solutions that optimize and mobilize data for greater personalization of the guest experience—such as guest messaging, mobile check-in and mobile key apps—are particularly exciting. Continuing advances in mobile technology within WebRezPro’s own feature set, along with third-party integrations, will ensure our customers stay ahead of the game.

“Our team is proud to reach this milestone with such a strong outlook. We believe in this product and the value it offers our clients, and are proud to be a trusted technology partner for all types of properties.” —Frank Verhagen, President at World Web Technologies, Inc.