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!

Hotel Providence

The only AAA Four Diamond luxury boutique hotel in Providence, Rhode IslandHotel Providence offers 80 artfully designed guest rooms and 16 suites! This hotel boasts a wide range of amenities including free WiFi, onsite dining and meeting and banquet space. Hotel Providence has chosen to use our WebRezPro Property Management System to help run their business! See how they’re using WebRezPro to accept online bookings, and while you’re checking that out, perhaps you’ll want to plan your next getaway to Providence!

Hotel Amenities: What Today’s Guests Look For When Booking Accommodation

To win the business and loyalty of guests, hoteliers have always needed to offer more than a simple place to sleep. Whether it was valet parking, room service, or an on-site spa, hotels relied on extra amenities to appeal to customers. And that hasn’t changed. In fact, now that people can find and compare accommodation so easily on the internet, guests are more discerning than ever. You need to provide quality features and services if you want to stand out from the competition and give customers a reason to return.

Just like guest expectations for communication and decor have changed over the years, their expectations for amenities have evolved as well. Here are a few things guests are looking for today:

Free WiFi

When it comes to booking accommodation, the most sought-after amenity is free, high-speed internet. Today’s travelers are incredibly reliant on their phones (and other mobile devices) to research activities, plan itineraries, and keep in touch with friends and family. If you don’t offer complimentary WiFi, guests will likely keep looking for a property that does.

Complimentary breakfast

Whether it’s a traveler on business or a family on vacation, people like the comfort of knowing the first meal of the day is taken care of. So consider offering complimentary breakfast for your guests. It won’t go unappreciated; After WiFi, free breakfast is ranked the second most important amenity by travelers.

Luxury in-room essentials

It’s the little details that make a guest’s stay feel luxurious.  When it comes to in-room amenities, that means ensuring things like linens and toiletries are of the highest quality. Swap out polyester sheets for high-thread-count cotton, and equip rooms with soft, over-sized bath towels. When stocking the bathroom, choose high-end hair products and artisanal soaps. Your guests will leave feeling pampered and excited to return.

Mini-fridge

Mini-bars are on their way out. They’re expensive to monitor and maintain, and often go unused by guests. Many hotels are opting to equip rooms with an empty mini-fridge instead. Hotelier’s don’t have to worry about stocking or tracking the use, and guests can bring in snacks and beverages they’ve purchased elsewhere. It’s a solution that makes everyone a winner.

Flexible food options

Like mini-fridges, room-service is being reconsidered by many hoteliers. In its stead, some properties are opting to provide grab-and-go food options in their lobby, giving guests the flexibility and convenience they desire. They can pick up a burrito on their way out the door, or take a salad back to their room to enjoy in comfort. And as an added bonus, this cafeteria-style approach minimizes costs for you.

Streaming services

In-room entertainment is still a big priority for travelers. Guests want access to TV facilities (especially millennials), but pay-per-view movies aren’t going to cut it anymore. Most guests have a subscription to one streaming platform or another, and they want to continue watching their favorite television shows while traveling. Consider installing smart TVs that allow guests to connect their devices and access their own content.

Shared spaces

A recent trend that we’ve blogged about before is the millennial-led demand for shared-living spaces. Travelers today are prioritizing experiences and looking to socialize. Creating versatile spaces where guests can work, read a book, and mingle, will help foster the environment this new generation of travelers is seeking.

Amenities matter. They’re what elevate the customer experience from good to excellent. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to win your customers’ bookings and earn their loyalty.

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.

BYOD: A Hospitality Trend Worth the Buzz

People are very dependent on their phones and tablets—especially when they travel. In fact, a recent study found that mobile devices are considered the “single most indispensable item” by travelers. That puts them ahead of essentials like a driver’s license and toothbrush. With people that attached to their smartphones, it’s no surprise that the BYOD trend is gaining steam in the hospitality industry.

What is BYOD?

BYOD—or ‘bring your own device”— refers to the practice of having employees (or, in this case, customers) access applications with their personal devices (instead of using company-owned ones). It’s a trend that makes sense. Virtually everyone is already carrying a powerful phone or tablet around with them. And it’s a device they have experience on and feel comfortable with. So why not let them use it and save on hardware costs?

How can BYOD be used in hospitality?

BYOD policies have been adopted in many industries to great effect. And hospitality is no exception. There are many ways a BYOD-friendly environment can benefit lodging operators (and their guests).

In-room applications >> Many lodging operators have equipped their hotels with in-room tablets. These devices act as control centers, with applications for lighting and climate control, ordering room-service, and making requests and reservations. They’re a great addition to any room, but all those tablets add up. If you adopt a BYOD system, your guests get the convenience of centralized control without the cost (not to mention the ongoing maintenance) of expensive hardware for you.

Streaming >> Whether it’s Netflix, YouTube, Spotify or any of the many other options out there, most people use at least one streaming service. And these types of platforms are only going to get more popular. Creating a BYOD environment means guests can access the content they know and love while staying at your property. And it’s a great opportunity to upsell. 60% of respondents in a survey said they would pay between $3.99 and $6.99 for the ability to stream personal content.

Keyless entry >> Another hospitality trend enabled by BYOD policies? Mobile keys. A simple app allows guests to unlock their door with their smartphones. Not only is this more convenient for them, but it also saves you—and the environment—the cost of printing all those plastic keys (Did you know a 200-room property goes through roughly 12 000 per year?).

Mobile check-in >> Becoming more mobile-friendly is all about making your guests’ stay more convenient. And providing the opportunity for mobile check-in does just that. It’s a chance for customers to skip the queue and they welcome it with open arms.

Things to consider

We’ve talked a lot about the benefits of a BYOD hotel, but there are a few things you should consider when jumping on the bandwagon.

Infrastructure >> Setting up a BYOD-friendly property does involve some initial investment. If you want to offer personal streaming in your rooms, you’ll need TV’s with streaming capability (think smart TVs, Chromecast, or Apple TVs). Keyless entry requires compatible door locks. And climate control applications have to be paired with smart lights and appliances.

Bandwidth >> Another concern with a BYOD environment is bandwidth. Relying on guests’ personal devices means free WiFi is a must, and that could put a strain on your internet service. That being said, WiFi is so important to guest satisfaction these days, that you’ll probably need to invest in as much bandwidth as you can get regardless.

 

The ubiquity of smartphones and other mobile devices has changed the hospitality industry in many ways, especially when it comes to consumer expectations. Personalization is the name of the game and creating a BYOD environment is a great step in that direction.

 

7 Tips for a Work-Friendly Property

As more and more of the workforce has begun telecommuting (at least part-time), a new demographic has emerged in the travel industry. No longer tethered to the office, these remote workers have the ability to do their jobs from anywhere in the world. It’s a freedom many are taking advantage of—taking extended trips to exciting destinations without any time-constraints. But their newfound freedom doesn’t mean ditching their responsibilities altogether. They still need to do their jobs, and that requires finding accommodation that can serve as a comfortable and productive workspace.

Here are some tips for ensuring your property is ready for the remote workforce so you can capitalize on this growing market:

Design

Make it bright and beautiful >> Remote workers are going to be spending a lot of time at the accommodation they book, so they’ll want an inviting atmosphere. Ensure there’s lots of natural light, and unique design touches—which will enhance both productivity and creativity respectively. And try to infuse some local flavor into the decor. It’ll connect guests with their destination even when they’re stuck working indoors.

Feature multiple work-friendly spaces >> While you’ll likely have one space designed specifically for working, try and highlight some secondary areas that a guest might want to work from. Whether it’s a cozy armchair with a side-table, a chaise lounge on the patio or a comfortable bar chair at a breakfast counter, remote workers want to know they have options for moving around throughout the day.

Workspace

Provide the fundamentals >> Whatever spaces you design to serve as workstations require a couple of key pieces. In addition to a chair and tabletop, you’ll need to ensure there is a nearby electrical outlet, flexible lighting options, and a strong WiFi signal. And if possible, it’s preferable for the primary work area to be its own distinct space—as opposed to doubling as the kitchen table, for example—so guests can leave their work materials set up for the entirety of their stay.

Use ergonomic furniture >> For guests that are going to be working hours at a time it’s important to have furniture that is functional and comfortable.  Chairs should be sturdy, with good back support and tables should have a smooth surface with enough space for a laptop, coffee, and a book or two.

Get rid of clutter >> While a few unique design pieces can be useful for inspiring creativity, too many things lying around can be distracting. Make sure to avoid clutter so your guests can be at their most productive while on the job.

Special touches

Include local insights >> If you provide a local guide for your guests, consider including info specifically for your remote-working clientele. This could include recommendations for cafes to work at during the day as well as the nearest post offices and printing shops. They’ll appreciate the gesture.

Provide the supplies >> If you really want to impress your telecommuting guests, you can also include a few office essentials. A basket of pens and pencils, notepads, and post-its is a nice touch that won’t go unnoticed by your customers. And it won’t break the bank either.

 

Telecommuting is on the rise, and many people are seizing the opportunity to travel more and work-on-the-go. There’s a whole new segment of travelers looking for vacation accommodation that can double as a home office. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to catch the eye of these potential guests. They’re a growing cohort with the flexibility to book extended stays and return regularly. So don’t miss out!

Beyond the Bedroom: Hotel Design Trends for 2018

Today’s savvy nomad has realized that the hotel experience is an integral aspect of travel. Hotels are no longer merely the place of a morning departure and evening return, the place to shower and sleep, the place just to hang one’s hat; many guests expect their hotel to be an experience and an extension of its locale. Services and amenities continue to be important, and a beautiful space is essential, but travelers are increasingly choosing and returning to hotels based on ambiance. In other words, how your space feels is as important as what your hotel offers. Many recommend that a hotel create a home away from home, and that’s certainly important in the sense of comfort. A hotel should aim to be as comfortable as a home, but shouldn’t it offer more ease? In a sense, a hotel’s space should aspire to feel like the ideal home.

Rethink Ambiance

Travelers have eclectic tastes and strong expectations; still, it’s possible to enthuse them with unexpected features. The details of these features will depend on the brand you want to portray and story you want to tell – and make no mistake; ambiance tells a story. Decor continues to trend towards minimalism; however, simplicity can be executed in many ways. Some are choosing to mix neutral colors with soft blues, greens, and yellows. Others showcase one bold color – like a deep blue, red, or purple – set against softer creams and whites. Still others include urban art (like graffiti) as a striking visual statement. Mix and match tones, textures, and styles to produce unpredictable and engaging results.

One of the unique aspects your hotel has at its disposal is… itself. What is the history of the hotel? The building? If newly built, what is the inspiration behind its design? What is the history of the community? Every hotel has a story. Tell it through the traditional mediums of photographs, art, and displays, but also in the furniture you choose and the overall mood you set. Including pieces from local artists and artisans is a great way to tell your and your community’s story, and can also give your guests a unique glimpse at local ways of seeing the broader world.

This year many hoteliers will also rethink the function of their spaces.

Lobbies >> Front desks are increasingly being replaced with sit-down concierge desks where guests sip on coffee or wine while the check-in is conducted by staff with iPads. The lobby is your guest’s first interaction with a hotel’s physical space. It should be inviting, not pragmatic. Many hotels already have cafes, restaurants, or bars connected to their lobbies. Others are thinking beyond those mainstays, incorporating specialized bookstores, galleries, and libraries into their lobbies, opening a space for community members and guests to interact.

Rooms >> How often do guests use all the drawers in hotel rooms? Or hang a full closet of clothes? If your hotel caters to short stay visitors (and most do), the trend in room design is moving towards simplification with furniture designed especially for hotel rooms, including wall racks for hanging clothes, bed frames that enable a guest to slide their luggage underneath, and nightstands that double for desks. This trend is particularly appealing to hoteliers in urban markets where square footage is limited. Simplified furniture lends a spacious feel without needing as much space. Also, by designing variations in layout and differences in decor (through wall treatments, rugs, and lighting), hotels are increasingly providing a more distinct, fresh, and memorable experience, one that guests will be inspired to relive.

Incorporate Nature

Including natural elements in hotel design is not new in 2018, but it has recently gained a new name, and with that comes a whole philosophy for rebuilding a relationship between humans and their environment. Biophilic Design will be on many designers minds this year. Biophilic Design seeks to remedy the discord between our lifestyle (especially urban) and our innate desire to connect with nature. Designers with this mindset aim to integrate buildings into their surroundings, incorporate natural elements like large plants, wood and stone, and maximize natural light. In a hotel’s communal spaces, designers are incorporating vertical gardens and multi-level terraces. At resorts, room sizes are decreasing to make room for larger balconies and verandas. In urban and rural hotels alike, expansive windows enable the local foliage and panoramic views to become part of a room’s ambiance.

The Human Spaces report into the Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace suggests that having a view of nature can trigger a dopamine response, and that contact with nature “has a restorative effect,” reducing stress and contributing to overall well-being.  Designing spaces that incorporate elements from nature encourages an emotional connection with our environment, which will not only provide a sense of experience in your guests but also contribute to the productivity of your staff.

Embrace Technology

We crave more interaction with nature and people, but we’re also not willing to relinquish our electronic devices. Hotels should design bedrooms, boardrooms, and communal spaces that allow guests to stay connected.

Designers are creating clever ways to hide charging stations and preserve the décor of a room. Seamless doors in desks or nightstands open or lift to reveal USB ports and electrical outlets, enabling the modern guest to quickly plug in for work or play. Other designers are creating innovative ways to incorporate ports and outlets into the design of their headboards and other pieces. Hotels are also providing ports to enable guests to connect to their own media (Netflix, Apple TV, Google Play and YouTube) to watch their own content on the bigger screen. This is especially attractive for families who desire immediate access to cartoons and other programming for their young children, but many of us live in a world where we’re used to having our media at the tips of our thumbs. Offering access to our own media is one more way to offer the comforts of home, and offering access through innovative designs has the potential to elevate those home comforts.

Hotels are continuing to adopt smart technology like solar panels and personalized tablets to control room temperature and room service, but hotels are also ushering us into the future by embracing dynamic design features like wallpaper that changes color or pattern based on light and temperature. The hotels that deliver the most memorable experiences in 2018 will fuse innovation, design, and storytelling with comfort, leaving guests to return home to tell not only of their adventuring in your community, but of the experience they enjoyed throughout your hotel.

 

WebRezPro’s Top 5 Blog Posts of 2017

It’s been a big year of blogging here at WebRezPro. We’ve covered a wide range of topics—from digital marketing to hotel operations—aimed to support independent hoteliers. As 2017 comes to a close, we’d like to take a look back at the most popular posts of the past year.

Here are the top 5 blog posts from 2017 (listed in order by number of views):

1. Hospitality Technology Trends to Implement in 2017

Technology continues to change and improve operations for hoteliers. To remain relevant and maintain a competitive edge, it’s necessary to stay informed about (and be open to adopting) emerging technology trends. In this post, we highlighted a few of these trends to consider for 2017. The year is almost over, but that doesn’t mean you’ve missed the boat. Everything we discussed back then holds true today. Take a look for more information on data consolidation, mobile PMS, direct bookings, mobile messaging and in-room technology. >> read blog post

2. 7 Smart Social Media Practices for Hotels in 2017

Social media has become a potent marketing tool. And its role will likely only continue to grow. Like any marketing platform, it’s only effective if you’re intentional about how it’s used. Simply having accounts and posting isn’t enough. This blog post highlights smart social media strategies to help hoteliers make the most of this power medium. >> read blog post

3. Essential Elements of a Hotel Website

The number of hours the average person spends on the internet each day continues to climb. People live online. That’s why all businesses should make their website a priority. It’s likely the first place people will go to learn about and engage with your brand, so it’s imperative to make a good impression. From content to functionality, this post breaks down the most critical elements of an effective website. Read on to make sure your business is maximizing the potential of your online presence. >> read blog post

4. Mobile Musts for Independent Hotels in 2017

As mentioned above, the average person spends a lot of their time online. With the ubiquity of smartphones, the majority of this is done from a mobile device. This transition from desktop to mobile browsing has both significant implications for your digital marketing strategies and exciting applications for your on-premise operations – both of which are are explored in this blog post. Have a look to make sure you’re not missing opportunities to improve your business or getting left behind in this mobile era. >> read blog post

5. Getting to Know WebRezPro: Housekeeping Report

A good housekeeping report is critical for running an efficient property. With numerous rooms and staff members, delegating and communicating can be challenging to manage. But a report with interactive capabilities, real-time information, and mobile accessibility makes it easy. This post describes WebRezPro’s housekeeping report and how it supports our clients’ operations. >> read blog post

What an exciting year! Succeeding in the hospitality industry requires reconciling timeless fundamental principles (like providing excellent customer service) with ever-evolving trends in communication and technology. It’s a lot to stay on top of, but that’s what makes it fun! We look forward to another year of learning, blogging about, and helping independent hoteliers keep their finger on the pulse of this dynamic industry. Until then, have a wonderful holiday season!

Skeptical of the Cloud? Four Cloud-based PMS Myths Debunked

Just like many major technological advancements before it, the introduction of cloud computing has revolutionized the way businesses operate across all industries (including hospitality). From integrated online booking engines to increased flexibility, the introduction of cloud-based property management systems has resulted in incredible benefits for its adopters. But despite its many advantages, some hoteliers are still hesitating to take the plunge due to a few persistent myths surrounding the cloud. Here are four common myths about cloud-based PMS debunked:

Myth 1: The cloud is not secure

There is a pervasive perception that information stored in the cloud isn’t safe. This idea seems to come from a misunderstanding of how cloud-computing works (and where the data is physically stored). Contrary to images the term ‘cloud’ might conjure, information is not just ‘floating around.’ Like traditional property management systems, cloud-based data is stored on servers. The differences between the two systems lie in the location of those servers. While PMS hardware requires them to be on-site, cloud-based systems store encrypted data on servers in remote facilities. And security offered by these facilities is much more sophisticated than what could be accomplished at a hotel (they’re in the data storage business after all). Concrete security measures, authentication gateways and sophisticated firewalls protect information from physical and virtual attack. And the separation between property and data means that should a physical disaster befall a hotel (be it flood or fire), important proprietary information will not be lost.

Myth 2: A cloud PMS is expensive

A common association made concerning technology is that new always equals pricey. While this certainly can be the case, when it comes to cloud-based systems it just doesn’t hold true. Legacy property management systems are so riddled with up-front and on-going expenses that cloud-based solutions can be a money saver. Traditional systems require expensive hardware, regular IT management, security and energy for on-site servers, and licensing. But because cloud-based systems don’t require any infrastructure, those costs (and headaches) don’t have to be a part of the equation. Instead, hoteliers pay one low setup fee and a subscription based on the size and needs of their property (with all system updates free of charge).

Myth 3: Data in the cloud is hard to access

Because data does not physically reside on-site, there is a misconception that information in the cloud can be difficult to access. In reality, a cloud-based PMS gives hoteliers enhanced accessibility. Instead of requiring the use of specific on-site computers, cloud software allows staff to access the management system on any device, from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection.

Myth 4: Transitioning to a new PMS is too much work

A complete overhaul of a hotel’s PMS can seem like a daunting task. And some hoteliers may think that switching systems and learning a new program isn’t worth the effort. While a transition will inevitably take some time, adopting a cloud PMS is easier than it sounds. There is no hardware or software to install, and the user-friendly interfaces come with tutorial videos, user manuals and tech support. When you factor in the many benefits of a cloud PMS, the decision to upgrade to this new system shouldn’t be a difficult one.

 

Cloud computing has brought about a paradigm shift in hospitality management. As with any new technology, there is some lingering skepticism based on common misconceptions. Don’t let these myths stop you from reaping the benefits of a cloud-based system.

 

Improve Guest Experience with Automated Emails

With new online platforms popping up all the time, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of new marketing and communications opportunities. While it’s important to keep up with current trends like Instagram and Twitter, don’t forget to give a little TLC to a tried and true strategy in your communication toolbox: email.

You’ve probably been using email to interact with your customers for many years, but while the medium has stayed the same, the expectation of how it can and should be used has evolved. Today’s consumers are used to constant connection. They are open to (and expect) email attention from their favorite businesses as long as they are personalized and specific to their needs (we are long past the time of a simple confirmation email!). This is great news because a well-curated collection of automated emails can improve guest relationships, upsell products and services, and generate sales (email conversion is still three times that of social media).

Make the most of this affordable communication tool by setting up a schedule of pre-stay, on-site and post-stay automated emails.

Pre-Stay

The emails you send before the guest arrives are critical. They offer a taste of your property’s culture, are an opportunity to upsell and are the first step in inspiring guest loyalty. Consider including the following emails in your pre-arrival email strategy.

At time of booking 

  • Confirmation – The confirmation email assures the customer that their booking has gone through correctly. Be sure to include a heartfelt thank you message for booking with your property, a summary of the booking details, and an invitation to contact your property should they have any questions or requests.

 

Three weeks before stay 

  • Experience Planning – Send a pre-arrival email that helps your guest plan their stay. This email can include schedules for any on-site activities, options to upgrade or add packages to their booking, information about local events and an opportunity to make any special requests.

 

One week before stay 

  • Travel Information – Closer to the date of arrival, send an email with helpful travel information. Include things like directions to get to your property and the weather forecast for their stay.

On-Site

People have come to rely more and more on their mobile devices. As a result, on-site communication with guests is no longer strictly in-person (with the front-desk staff and concierge). Make sure to adapt to this new climate by creating a collection of personalized emails for guests while they are at your property.

At Check-in 

  • Welcome – It’s important to welcome guests to your property once they arrive (especially if you offer mobile check-in). Use this opportunity to provide them with relevant information such as WiFi passwords, facility hours, and a means to contact staff if they have any questions or problems.

 

Throughout stay 

  • Special offers – Inform guests about specials for on-site services and amenities. This is an opportunity to upsell that you really shouldn’t miss out on.
  • Reminders – If a guest has signed up for any activities, or your property is hosting an event, be sure to send a reminder, so they don’t miss out.
  • Social Media Invitations – It’s important to engage with your customers over social media (especially Millennials!). Invite guests to share their experiences at your property (and then make sure to comment, like, or share to show you care).

 

Post-Stay

The relationship you have with your guests shouldn’t end at checkout. By following up, and sending out personalized emails throughout the year, you can nurture customer loyalty and hopefully score a returning guest.

At Checkout 

  • Thank you – Let your guests know how much you appreciate their patronage by thanking them upon checkout. This is also an excellent opportunity to invite them to join any loyalty programs you offer.

 

Three days after stay

  • Satisfaction survey – Make your customers feel heard (and get helpful feedback) by inviting them to participate in a satisfaction survey about their stay at your property.

 

Throughout the year 

  • Birthday wishes – An easy way to show guests you care is to send them a short email wishing them a happy birthday.
  • Insider Info – Keep your customers up-to-date by letting them know about any upcoming special events or offers at your property.

 

Email remains an exceedingly useful (not to mention affordable!) communication and marketing tool for the hospitality industry. Make sure you are using it to your full advantage by creating a schedule of automated emails for the entire guest life cycle.