Pollock Cove Resort

Pollock Cove Inn & Cottages is located on beautiful Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada, just over the bridge from Lubec, Maine. This pet-friendly resort offers accommodations in charming cottages, all with ocean views and most with full kitchens. This property has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software enables Pollock Cove Inn & Cottages to accept online bookings!

An Independent Hotelier’s Guide to Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs have been a part of the hospitality game for decades. And for as long as they have been around, they’ve been the subject of much debate. Like any strategy in hospitality, some consider loyalty programs an essential part of their business and others have found them to be nothing but a liability. What it comes down to is discovering the right solution for your business. With new technology and evolving guest expectations, rewards programs come in all shapes and sizes. You just need to find the right fit.

Here’s a quick guide highlighting the benefits of a loyalty program and the various options available to hoteliers:

The advantages

When implemented well, a loyalty program can do a lot for your property. Offering benefits for continued patronage builds an emotional commitment that makes a guest less likely to book somewhere else and more likely to act as a brand ambassador in-person and online.

Loyalty programs are also a great way to incentivize direct bookings, thereby improving profit margins. In fact, a recent study conducted by the School of Hotel and Tourism Management found that a hotel’s spending on these types of programs was associated with better performance and improved overall gross operating profits. They ultimately concluded that there is “strong and scientific justification regarding the investment budget on loyalty programs.”

Points-based systems

How it works >> Points-based systems are the more traditional option available. These loyalty programs award points for purchases made at the property, from room nights to products and services, which can then be redeemed for discounted services and other perks at a later date.

Tips for success >> The biggest headaches that guests have had with traditional loyalty programs came from complicated rules and annoying restrictions. To run a successful program, member points should never expire, and be easy to redeem. Avoid placing restrictions on and setting black-out periods for reservations made with rewards. It’s also a good idea to offer a variety of options for points redemption. Having scaled options (from little things like a complimentary beverage to large rewards like a free night’s stay) will make all members feel like they have a chance to benefit from the program.

In addition to creating more flexibility in the points-redemption process, you may also wish to include more options for earning points in the first place. Offering rewards for engagement on social media and online reviews can be an excellent way to generate valuable UGC (user generated content), and members will appreciate the opportunity to score points in other ways.

Instant rewards

How it works >> Instant rewards is a much newer concept in the world of loyalty programs. Many travelers today (particularly Millennials), are looking for immediate value. The idea of a free stay in the distant future just isn’t compelling enough to sign up now.  For this reason, many hotel brands that cater heavily to a younger cohort have adopted models that forgo traditional rewards for smaller perks (like free wifi, room service vouchers, or a complimentary beverage) that can be earned through immediate actions taken (like booking direct, sharing on social media, or signing up for the rewards program). Members get the instant gratification they’re looking for and don’t have to worry about earning points and navigating the redemption process.

Tips for success >> Like anything else in business, you need to analyze the numbers to ensure you’re creating a model that benefits your business. You need to know how much an action (like booking direct or posting a positive review) saves or makes your business and then choose an appropriate reward within that margin.

Partnership Programs

How it works >> For many independent hotels, running your own rewards program isn’t particularly feasible. With just one property, it can be difficult for members to accrue enough points for it to be meaningful. This is where partnership programs come in. Companies like VOILA and Stash Rewards allow independent hotels to sign up and benefit from a shared loyalty program. Members benefit from more property options worldwide, and your hotel will gain access to a much larger pool of (already incentivized) customers.

Tips for success >>  All partnership programs are different, so make sure you know what you’re signing up for. If they take a commission for all bookings made using the program, you need to know that it’s going to be worth it. You’ll want to look into the demographic that the program caters to, the number of members, and the traffic the website receives. Be sure to read lots of reviews⏤paying particular attention to those from properties similar to your own.

A loyalty program can help your business build a dedicated base of returning guests and maximize direct bookings. Consider implementing one at your property today.

300 Clifton

Located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the Loring Park Neighbourhood, the 300 Clifton is an historic bed and breakfast listed on the National Register of Historic Places – NPS! This meticulously restored 1887 Queen-Ann Victorian mansion offers a variety of beautiful guest rooms and the home is filled with many original fixtures and furnishings that date back to early 1906.

300 Clifton has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to learn more about this historic mansion and to see how WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software enables the inn to accept online bookings!

Ranguana Caye

Accessible by boat from Placencia, Belize, Ranguana Caye is a two-acre private island getaway that is the perfect place to unwind. The resort offers three authentic island cabanas that can accommodate up to three guests in each. All-inclusive packages are available and amenities include free WiFi, a beach bar and restaurant and use of water sport equipment including snorkel gear, kayaks and paddle boards.

Ranguana Caye has chosen to use our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Check out their website to see how WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software is enabling the resort to accept online bookings!

Marisol Condominiums

Located on beautiful South Padre Island, Texas, Marisol Condominiums offers 36 beautiful beachfront rentals with ocean views. Amenities include direct beach access, full kitchens, free WiFi and a gorgeous outdoor pool. The Marisol Condominiums has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Check out their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro to take online bookings for their Gulf of Mexico condos!

Tahoe Beach Retreat

Tahoe Beach Retreat offers cozy lakefront lodging in South Lake Tahoe, California! Offering over 250 guest rooms and suites, this property has the perfect accommodations for everyone, including some rooms that are perfect for doggy family members. Onsite amenities include a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, winter sports gear rentals, a tiki bar, an onsite pub and a fitness center.

Tahoe Beach Retreat has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated (and commission free!!) booking engine to accept online bookings!

Don’t Let the Bad Guys In: What You Can Do to Help Protect Your Hotel Data

Despite the best online data security measures (including firewalls, encryption, intrusion detection, anti-virus protection and network monitoring), online data breaches can happen in any industry and to anyone—just like any locked and guarded physical building can be infiltrated. Facebook, Marriott International and Capital One are just a handful of household names that have recently made headlines due to major data breaches affecting millions of customers.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, cybercrime is rampant and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t been touched by it, whether by a computer virus, compromised credit card or fraudulent email.

Password theft is an everyday threat. Hackers use various strategies to steal passwords, “phishing” being one of the most common methods. Like hooking a big fish, phishing is named so because hackers attempt to lure people into giving them their login information to gain unlawful access to their accounts. They do this by creating messages and websites that mimic communications from organizations or people we trust. Your spam folder is probably full of such deceptive messages—thankfully, email service providers have gotten very good at keeping them out of our inboxes.

We’re talking about those emails that appear to be from your bank or PayPal or a similar legitimate entity, telling you about suspicious activity on your account and asking you to click on a link to verify your password, or something along those lines. These days, phishing attempts not only come at us via email, but through SMS, instant messaging and social media—and they are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from genuine communications. We have to be extra vigilant determining messages we trust.

The good news is there are ways we can keep our data safer online. If you’re a lodging operator using reputable cloud hospitality solutions, you can feel assured that your software provider employs industry-best data security practices (ask if you’re not sure) to safeguard your data. But there are ways you can help protect your hotel data too.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication (2FA) provides an additional layer of security when logging into an account online. In addition to the correct username and password, 2FA requires a second form of identification to confirm a user’s identity before they can log in.

With 2FA, two of the following three forms of ID must be provided to prove that you are you:

>> Something you know (username and password, answers to security questions)

>> Something you have (physical object, such as an ID card, a code sent to a mobile device, or a USB security key)

>> Something you are (think Mission Impossible-type biometric ID like fingerprint and retinal scans and voice recognition)

WebRezPro property management system offers 2FA to help prevent unauthorized access to your hotel data. With 2FA activated, whenever a WebRezPro user attempts to log into their system (with their username and password) from an unrecognized computer or device, WebRezPro will ask the user to enter an access code to confirm their identity. The single-use access code is randomly generated by the system and immediately sent to the user’s mobile phone or email address as determined when 2FA is set up for that user. The user must enter the access code in order to access their system.

This means that even if someone has stolen your login information, they still won’t be able to log into your system without the access code that is sent to your phone.

While adding an extra step to the login process might seem like a small inconvenience, 2FA is one of the most effective ways to protect your data from unauthorized access. And 2FA can be set up to not require the second step (access code) for 30 days if the user continues to log in on the same device using the same browser during that time.

Protecting your hotel data is key to the success of your business, so periodically taking one extra step to log in is unquestionably worth it. Just think of all the trouble you are saving yourself if a hacker cracks or steals your password!

IP restrictions

Another way to protect data from unauthorized eyes is by limiting login access to designated IP addresses. This works because every computer connected to the internet has a unique IP address. WebRezPro PMS allows you to authorize users by IP address, meaning that only people from permitted IP addresses can log into your WebRezPro system.

It’s important to note that this technique only works if your internet service provider (ISP) has assigned static IP addresses to your internet connection. If your internet connection uses dynamic IP numbers, restricting login access by IP address will result in authorized users getting locked out of the system when their IP address changes.

Even with static IP addresses, we always recommend leaving a master login unrestricted, in case your ISP changes a static IP number. That way, you can use the master login to access the system and update user IP restrictions if needed.

Never click on a message link to log in

To avoid falling prey to a phishing attack, never click on a link contained in a suspicious message asking you to divulge your password, credit card number or other sensitive information. If in doubt, contact the organization the message claims to be from directly via their official channels to verify the communication.

For example, imagine you receive an email that appears to be from your PMS provider, informing you there is a problem with your system and asking you to click on a link to fix it. Once you click on the link, you are taken to a login page that looks like the login page for your PMS. But beware—the login page is a cleverly disguised fake and entering your login information sends your username and password straight to the bad guys!

To be safe, always access your software provider’s official login page to sign in, whether by typing the URL into the address bar manually, or via a saved bookmark or desktop icon.

Unfortunately, cybercrime has become part of our everyday lives. Just as we have to protect our physical valuables with locks and alarms, we must be equally vigilant with our online valuables (data) by maintaining anti-virus software and other proven security measures, as well as our cyber street smarts. Two-factor authentication is one of the best ways to prevent data breaches caused by phishing attacks, and we highly recommend implementing it for your online hospitality systems, as well as for any other online accounts that support 2FA.

A Good Sleep and a Quick Check-in Most Important Drivers of Guest Satisfaction

Pillow mints and chatbots are all well and good, but when it comes to satisfying guests it pays to focus on the basics. A good night’s sleep and a swift check-in are two of the most important elements of the guest experience, according to the recently released J.D. Power 2019 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index (NAGSI) Study.

Measuring guest satisfaction with the entire hotel experience (from booking to post-stay communication), the study analyzed the responses of almost 45,000 guests regarding their overall experience based on a stay within the last year. The study, now in its 23rd year, includes 85 officially ranked hotel brands in six market segments (economy through luxury), and offers important insights to hoteliers about guest expectations, satisfaction and industry trends that can be applied to their own properties to help drive guest satisfaction and loyalty.

“Of all the discrete variables of the hotel guest experience we measure, a better-than-expected night’s sleep is the one with the potential to drive the highest level of overall guest satisfaction for those hotels that can deliver,” said Jennifer Corwin, Senior Manager of Consumer Insights for Travel & Hospitality Intelligence at J.D. Power.

Let’s take a closer look at the study’s findings—and at how properties can ensure they’ve got the basics right.

A Good Night’s Sleep

A good sleep does wonders for our physical and emotional well-being, so it’s not surprising that quality of sleep is a core element of a hotel stay.

A better-than-expected sleep impacts overall satisfaction scores by an increase of 114 points (on a 1000-point scale), however, only 29 percent of hotel guests experienced such sweet slumber. Of the guests who were lucky enough to enjoy a better-than-expected sleep, 78 percent say they “definitely will” return to that property.

So, what exactly does it take for a superior sleep? The study confirms what you no doubt already know—the top contributors are: a comfortable bed; a quiet room; comfy pillows; room temperature; and quality linens. But what you may not already know is that quality-of-sleep satisfaction scores are also higher when hotels provide sleep-enhancing accessories like white noise machines, earplugs, and robes and slippers.

An Efficient Check-in Process

The J.D. Power study also highlighted the importance of a quick yet friendly check-in process. Key elements of the check-in experience that impact guest satisfaction are: efficiency (ideally five minutes or less); accuracy; and a warm welcome. Satisfaction scores fall as much as 100 points when any of those criteria are not met.

A modern property management system (PMS) is crucial to an efficient, accurate and welcoming check-in process. Automating administrative tasks and providing all necessary data at your fingertips, a PMS makes it easy to create and look up reservations, access guest data, recognize returning guests, assign rooms and manage billing.

Integrating the PMS with other hotel systems like online booking channels, payment gateways, electronic locking systems, and self-check-in apps and kiosks, streamlines the check-in process even further, eliminating the need to manually crosscheck and duplicate data between systems.

Through data automation and an intuitive user interface, a modern PMS greatly simplifies the check-in process so that administrative tasks do not distract attention away from the guest. Plenty of eye contact and warm smiles make guests feel much more welcome than extended moments of silence as the check-in agent stares at a computer screen.

It’s easy to get distracted by the latest gadgets and trends, but when it comes down to it, a pleasant welcome and a good night’s sleep will always be central to the stay experience. If you get these fundamentals right, research demonstrates you’re well on your way to satisfying your guests and earning their loyalty.

The Carlton Hotel

The Carlton Hotel – Atascadero is in the heart of the city and makes the perfect home base when exploring the wine regions of Edna Valley and Paso Robles. Featuring over 50 guest rooms, this boutique hotel offers complimentary WiFi, free parking and two onsite restaurants. The Carlton Hotel has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro to accept online bookings! You might even want to book a trip to Atascadero, California, while you’re there!