How to Make Music Work For Your Hotel

As a hotelier, your biggest concern is ensuring a great guest experience. Of course, that means providing excellent customer service and five-star amenities, but it also means creating the right atmosphere. People experience things with all of their senses, so ambiance matters. An overwhelming scent or off-putting lighting can tarnish a guest’s impression of your property. And the same goes for music. The right soundtrack has the power to change a person’s mood and influence their behavior, so you should be putting much thought into the music choices at your hotel.

While you should aim for music that reflects who you are, that doesn’t mean you should be playing the same playlist throughout your property. Context is important. What’s appropriate in the lobby is likely not the best choice for the onsite bar or hotel gym. Here are a few tips for choosing the right music for each space in your hotel.

In the lobby

The atmosphere in the lobby, more than any other space, should be a reflection of your brand identity. It’s the first experience a guest will have at your property, so it should set the tone for the rest of their stay. Look for music that expresses who you are. Is your property classic and elegant? An instrumental might be the way to go. Cool and trendy? A contemporary playlist of indie songs is likely more appropriate. If possible, incorporate a few local artists to celebrate your community.

You should also consider the tempo of your musical choices. Weary travelers will appreciate something calm and soothing when they arrive. Slower music will also make any wait times feel shorter and less stressful.

At your onsite restaurant and bar

Restaurants are dynamic spaces that can change a lot depending on the time of day, and day of the week. You’ll need a few different playlists to meet the varying needs of your restaurant. During the day, fun light tracks will create an upbeat atmosphere without interfering with lunchtime conversation. Happy hour, on the other hand, can be livened up with an energetic playlist of upbeat songs.

Music can also be used to influence behavior. If you’re hoping for patrons to linger (and spend more on drinks) a slower tempo will encourage customers to settle in and take their time. For high turnover, however, stick with fast and loud tracks that will motivate guests to act quickly.

In the gym

When it comes to a gym playlist, your guests need music that will get them in the zone. Typically, that means something energetic, with a good beat. Electronic and pop music are excellent choices for this space. Just remember to use the radio version of the songs you choose and keep the volume at an appropriate level. You’ll likely have guests that will want to listen to their own tunes (with headphones), and blaring background music will make that difficult to do.

In your guest rooms

The music in guest rooms should be entirely under the control of your guests. It’s their space, and you want them to feel comfortable. A bluetooth speaker they can connect to using their smartphone, makes a great addition to any room. Your guests will appreciate being able to bring their personal playlists with them.

Music is a powerful medium, with the ability to affect our experience and behavior. As such, it’s something that shouldn’t go overlooked by hoteliers. Putting together an effective playlist may sound intimidating, but you don’t have to do it yourself. There are several music-curating companies out there, like Soundsuit and Ambie, that have been used by hotels to strengthen their brand identity and improve guest experience.

Naisoso Villas Resort

Naisoso Villas Resort is located on stunning Naisoso Island in beautiful Fiji! The resort offers a selection of fully equipped villas ranging in size from four to five bedrooms, all equipped with private pools and gardens, kitchens and laundry facilities. Naisoso Villas Resort has just started using WebRezPro Property Management System to help manage their property! See how they are using WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software to accept online bookings!

506 Lofts

Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tennessee506 Lofts provides the best vacation rental experience in the city! Guests can choose from six individually decorated and fully equipped lofts in a historic building. 506 Lofts has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how the property is using WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software to accept online bookings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Welcoming Space

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

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

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

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

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

Mobile Technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attentive Personnel

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

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

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

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

Common Customer Complaints in Hospitality and How Your PMS Helps to Avoid Them

We all know someone who just loves to complain, even when there’s nothing really to complain about. Service industries like hospitality, in particular, see more than their fair share of customer criticisms, which are often voiced publicly online. Even the most luxurious hotels find it impossible to eliminate customer service complaints, but with the right staff, the right attitude and the right hotel technology, you can avoid most of them.

If your property is suffering frequent customer complaints it’s time to identify why. Your property management system (PMS) is designed to streamline daily operations, so that you and your staff have more time to focus on your guests. But your PMS impacts customer service in very direct ways too.

Let’s take a look at some common customer service complaints in hospitality and how your PMS should help you avoid them.

“No self-service options”

In a world of online shopping, we as consumers have come to expect the convenience of purchasing almost whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want (as long as we have an internet connection). In fact, the inability to buy products or book services online ourselves these days is most often seen as an inconvenience, and this is especially true of accommodation bookings.

If your property doesn’t offer the ability to book a room on your website, you’re probably losing customers because of it. Many modern travelers will simply move on to the next hotel website that does offer this convenience. What’s worse than a customer that complains? A lost customer.

Most PMS offer a website booking engine that is integrated with the PMS for live rates and availability. Make sure yours is commission free, easy to use and mobile friendly.

Other self-service options rapidly gaining popularity among guests include the ability for guests to check themselves in and customize their stay via a personal online concierge. Direct integration between your PMS and guest experience platforms—such as CRM software, self-check-in solutions and mobile messaging platforms—make executing self-service options more efficient for hotels, and the experience more seamless for guests.

“Check-in takes too long”

Whether your front desk is busy, or your check-in process just isn’t efficient, guests are quick to complain about their experience at this critical touchpoint.

This is where your PMS plays a very important role. Automating administrative tasks, a PMS makes the check-in process a breeze by making it easy to look up reservations, providing you with pertinent guest and reservation information at a glance, and integrating with your payment gateway and keycard system.

WebRezPro PMS offers paperless check-in, allowing guests to sign check-in receipts or registration cards using an electronic signature capture device such as a tablet or smartphone. This paper-saving feature is not only environmentally friendly, but it speeds up the check-in process and frees staff from the front desk, allowing them to check guests in from anywhere. If a queue is forming at the front desk, for example, another staff member can greet arriving guests in the lobby.

If your property offers a self-check-in option (whether online or by kiosk) a direct connection between that software and your PMS will facilitate a fully automatic solution that doesn’t require you to reconcile data between the two systems—and ensures a completely frictionless check-in experience for your guests and your staff. 

“Doesn’t recognize loyalty”

Making customers feel valued is a fundamental principle of customer service across industries. Repeat customers, especially, want to know that their loyalty is valued, otherwise they’ll likely decide it’s not deserved.

It’s so important to show loyal guests that you appreciate their business by recognizing them and welcoming them back. Through guest profiles, your PMS matches booking data to recognize returning guests and automatically build a stay history. Guest requirements and preferences can also be added to profiles, creating a valuable reference point for personalizing the guest experience. Other reservation features like VIP flagging and pop-up reminders can help your staff elevate service for your most loyal guests.

Your PMS may even offer an inbuilt rewards program or integration with external loyalty programs that automatically reward customers with points every time they make a booking, which can be redeemed for future bookings.

While guests appreciate rewards programs, nothing shows loyal guests you appreciate them more than a warm welcome back and anticipating their needs and preferences. With the right PMS, it’s easy to give all returning guests the VIP treatment.

“Unclean room”

Uncleanliness is one of the top customer gripes when it comes to hotel stays. While the quality of work of your housekeeping staff should be regularly monitored, sometimes this complaint stems from work-scheduling miscommunications and consequent delays in servicing rooms.

The housekeeping schedule is organized from the room status list and guest arrivals and departures, so direct communication between front desk and the housekeeping department is crucial. A PMS that includes an integrated housekeeping report that is also mobile friendly for on-the-go room status updates ensures your housekeeping staff can organize and prioritize their work schedule effectively, and that your front desk personnel know which rooms are clean and ready for guests—in real time.

“Requests take too long to resolve”

From extra pillows to room temperature adjustments, guest requests and complaints must be resolved in a timely manner. When occupancy is high, this can be easier said than done.

Guest requests almost always involve more than one department; the guest notifies the front desk of their request and from there the front desk needs to notify the appropriate department, such as housekeeping or maintenance or the kitchen. Then the front desk needs to follow up to make sure the request has been fulfilled.

Automatically sharing data between departments, a PMS helps staff stay on top of all customer requests. Alarms and reminders can be attached to reservations and maintenance and housekeeping records. Mobile-accessible systems allow you to access your PMS data from a mobile device anywhere on (or off) the property, facilitating faster request resolution without having to return to the front desk to look up or enter information.

If your property communicates with guests via text messaging or a mobile concierge platform, consider integrating your PMS with your guest messaging system for even more streamlined communication and tracking of requests.

No matter how unusual the request—whether it be a framed picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger or a blanket fort awaiting in their room upon arrival (these are true stories!)—your PMS should help make sure all actionable requests are granted on time, every time.

In addition to making daily operations more efficient, your PMS is key to managing the guest experience. The right PMS will equip you with the tools you need to provide excellent customer service that even the most passionate complainers find hard to fault.

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

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

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

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

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

Start with Your Website

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

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

Social Media

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

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

Pre-arrival Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PMS + CRM & Mobile Messaging Integration

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

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

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

An Independent Hotelier’s Guide to Ancillary Revenue

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

Utilize your space

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

Partner with local artists

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

Offer entertainment

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

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

Sell hotel products

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

Welcome pets

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

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

Small Things Hoteliers Can Do that Make a Big Difference to Guests

Customer satisfaction is a top priority for any business, but for those in the hospitality industry it’s the entire purpose. Most hoteliers do what they do because they are passionate about making every guest’s stay special. And what makes anyone feel special? Simply feeling valued. From a warm greeting to a good cup of coffee, the smallest things can make a big difference to your guests, elevating an average stay to a memorable experience that will help earn their loyalty.

We all get busy and distracted from the main goal from time to time, so read on to make sure you are doing these small things all lodging operators should be doing to make a lasting impression on guests.

Remember Your Manners

In a world of chatbots and mobile check-in, good “old-fashioned” hospitality is still so important. All staff should be encouraged to be courteous hosts, getting the door for guests and helping with their bags, greeting guests with a genuine smile at every interaction, and using guests’ names whenever possible. Such courtesies are expected at luxury hotels, but should be a part of the service at any property—after all, what is hospitality without good manners?

Get to Know Your Guests

Being a good listener is an important skill for getting to know someone in any relationship. Hospitality professionals especially tend to have very well-trained ears for garnering information during interactions with guests that will help them personalize service. Pay attention to your guests’ preferences when it comes to menu items, amenities, activities, room preferences, etc., and special dates like birthdays and anniversaries, then record relevant data in guest profiles to help staff tailor guests’ stays and anticipate their needs.

Show Appreciation

Showing your customers in a tangible way that you appreciate them—for example, with a little gift or note—is always well received. Such small tokens of appreciation surprise and delight guests and make them feel extra special.

Even a simple, personalized note left in the guest’s room, welcoming them to the property upon their arrival, is a thoughtful touch that will make them feel appreciated and invite them to reach out should they need anything. If finances allow for including a small welcome gift as well, even better! From locally made chocolates, or vouchers for a couple of free drinks at the bar, to small souvenirs, welcome gifts don’t have to cost much—but to be extra memorable, try to choose them to reflect the personality of your property. Gifts for returning customers can even be tailored especially for them, based on profile data.

Offer Free Amenities That Matter

According to various surveys, free WiFi is considered one of the most important amenities to travelers when choosing accommodation. And lots of travelers get excited about free breakfast. We all love to get freebies, but only if they are of value to us. For example, if you choose to offer free WiFi (and you really should), make sure it’s good and fast. Slow, unreliable internet access will only frustrate guests and result in negative reviews, even if it’s complimentary.

When it comes to choosing amenities to offer your guests for free, pick those that are popular at your property to ensure they add value to the guest experience. In addition to WiFi, in-room tea and coffee should always be included, and filtered water is always appreciated (think about using a dispenser or refrigerated pitcher, not plastic bottles). Free use of cellphone chargers and universal adapters is another convenient amenity that will save the day for many guests.

If you’re worried about the financial implications of offering certain amenities for free, consider slightly increasing room prices; it’s better to raise rates by a few dollars than charge for staple amenities. And make sure to promote free amenities on your website.

Be Inclusive

Traveling can be stressful at times for anyone, but especially for travelers with disabilities and specific needs, from alternative dietary options to amenities for young children. Even small efforts to be inclusive can make a really big difference to some of your guests.

Providing simple gluten-free and vegan options at the breakfast bar and on menus, and adding ingredient lists and allergen warnings to menu options will be much appreciated by guests with food allergies and intolerances. Travelers with young children will always be grateful for diaper-changing facilities, use of playpens and highchairs, kids’ activity packs, and family-friendly local recommendations. Thinking about the placement of furniture and amenities so that people using wheelchairs and walking aids have space to move around easily and being ready with local recommendations that are wheelchair accessible, will make the traveling experience much easier and more enjoyable for guests with mobility issues.

Share Your Local Expertise

A quick online search will show your guests the main attractions in town, but what really makes a stay special are the authentic local experiences they won’t find in the travel guides. Let your guests know about the local gems in your neighborhood, and tips for enjoying main attractions as the locals do, like best times to visit, cheapest tickets, best places to park, best places to eat, etc. It’s the pleasantly unexpected local experiences that make for a truly memorable trip.

Share your local expertise in person, on your website/app, and within in-room information as well.

Be Responsive and Available

Finally, make sure you deal with complaints and requests immediately and diplomatically. Even the most seemingly petty complaint can make a big difference to a guest’s experience. Addressing and resolving complaints and requests quickly shows guests you care and makes them feel valued. Your property management system should help you keep track of guest requests, and free up your staff’s time to be available for guests.

Showing your guests they matter doesn’t require a big budget, just some good old-fashioned hospitality. Even simple efforts to make guests feel welcome can help create a memorable experience that will bring them back for more.

An Independent Hotelier’s Guide to Easy Group Bookings

Filling multiple rooms on a single reservation, group bookings are a cost-effective way to maximize occupancy, especially during the shoulder season. Group bookings for both corporate and personal events (such as weddings and reunions) have traditionally been the territory of large hotel brands and conference centers, but times are changing. Event planners, much like travelers in general, are beginning to favor unique, authentic local experiences and the venues that can provide them. Independent hotels and lodgings are perfectly poised for capturing and managing group bookings.

How to Attract Group Bookings

Event planners choose venues based on various factors, from location to amenities to price. Make sure what you’re offering appeals to event organizers.

Communal Spaces

You don’t need a banquet hall or a conference room to appeal to groups, but you will need space for people to gather. A meeting room is crucial for corporate groups. Think creatively about the spaces your property already has—perhaps a rarely used, spacious office would be more profitable as a meeting room, or a guest room could be converted?

Lawns and gardens can make a delightful summer setting for weddings and other private events, with canopies and tables set up for receptions. Think lawn games, a small stage for live music, fairy lights and the like for a special outdoor event setting. If your property offers an on-site restaurant, consider setting aside an area for group functions or booking it out completely for larger group bookings.

Take another look at your communal spaces, like your lobby, lounges, etc.; do they invite people to relax and mingle? Such spaces can be especially appealing to corporate groups wanting to wind down after a long day. Read our tips on making the most of your lobby for ideas.

Group Rates & Packages

Entice event organizers with group rates that offer discounted rooms, or package additional services that appeal to groups, such as activities, breakfast and early check-in/late check-out.

Amenities & Services

Make sure you offer everything a group will need to make their stay and event as smooth and enjoyable as possible. In addition to staple amenities like strong WiFi, breakfast, and tea and coffee, you should be able to provide audio-visual equipment, seating, catering services, photography services, laundry service, etc. as needed. If you don’t provide such amenities in-house, establish relationships with local suppliers so that you can offer these contracted services for your customers’ convenience. The easier you can make the event planner’s job, the more likely they’ll book your property.

Online Bookings

Make it easy for group organizers to book through your website with an online booking engine that allows them to book multiple rooms at once and access their special group rate.

Spread the Word

Lastly, make sure the world knows your property is a great venue for events. Advertise amenities, services, rates and packages for groups on your website, preferably on a page dedicated to information about event bookings. Promote your property as an event venue on social media, through your local business association or chamber of commerce, and/or on an online event venue directory.

How to Manage Group Bookings

Group bookings are great for your bottom line but are also more challenging to manage than transient reservations. Contracts, room blocks, invoicing and group check-in/check-out can get complicated without the right processes and technology in place.

A property management system (PMS) that offers group booking functionality will make managing groups much simpler. If you want to welcome groups to your property, here are some features to look for in a PMS:

Group Folios

Group folios allow you to manage all reservations within a group from a single folio. In addition to compiling all reservations within a group, a group folio should provide a central point of control for managing all aspects of a group booking, from tracking contract status and deposits, to setting up room blocks and rates, to managing rooming lists, reservations, charges, payments, invoicing and group check-in and check-out.

Reserved Allocation

Make sure your PMS allows you to set up room and rate allocations for groups, which will make managing room blocks much easier—from booking the group rate to tracking room pick-up to setting release dates for unsold room allocations.

Group Check-in/Check-out

Look for a group edit feature that simplifies working from rooming lists and speeds up the group check-in and check-out process by allowing you to edit multiple reservations at once, including assigning rooms.

Group Invoicing & Payments

Your PMS should provide the option of applying charges and payments to a master invoice or to individual reservations within the group, so that you can bill groups the way they want. The group folio should also clearly show any outstanding charges for the group to help ensure the bill is paid in full upon check-out.

Online Group Bookings

Extend the convenience of online bookings to all your customers, including groups. Make sure your PMS provides an integrated, commission-free online booking engine for your property’s website that allows group bookers to access their group rate. This is commonly done through a special access code assigned to the allocated rate. Once a group booking is made, the online booking engine should send it to the PMS where it’s automatically posted to the group folio.

As we head into the shoulder season, make sure your property is ready for group bookings to boost occupancy and revenue. With the right PMS, managing group reservations doesn’t have to be complicated. Contact us to find out more about how WebRezPro PMS makes group bookings easy.

Paid to Post: A Hotelier’s Guide to Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing. It’s likely a term you’ve heard thrown around in the last year or two, and perhaps is something you’ve considered doing yourself. You wouldn’t be alone; Hotel brands like Starwood Resorts, Fairmont, and Hilton Hotels are just a few of the businesses that have capitalized on this new opportunity. And a recent post on eHotelier included it as one of the top 5 marketing strategies for 2019. But it’s not just for large chains. Influencer marketing is a powerful tool available to independent hoteliers as well—one that is certainly worth your consideration. Here’s a quick guide to get you started:

What is influencer marketing?

Platforms like Instagram and YouTube have created an ecosystem of influential people with huge followings. And just like traditional celebrities, their endorsement has immense commercial value. By partnering with these individuals, brands can reach new and larger audiences more authentically.

The arrangements between brands and influencers (and the content that is created) can come in many forms. Brands can ask for anything from blog posts, to photos on Instagram, to Snapchat videos, and compensation can be in the form of money or free product.

Why should I do it?

It works >> Influencers are called that for a reason: they have influence (a lot of it). These internet personalities have amassed troves of followers sharing their lives online and have earned tremendous loyalty from their fans. So, their endorsement matters. In the same way that a recommendation from a friend holds more credence than an advertisement, the endorsement of an influencer packs a massive marketing punch.

Makes targeting easy >> Partnering with influencers also gives you access to very specific and well-understood audiences. Their followers are their business, so influencers are acutely aware of who their demographic is and what they want. This can help you choose who to partner with in the first place and also means the influencer can create content they know will resonate with their audience.

Who should I partner with?

Find the right audience >> Choosing the right influencer is key to finding success with this marketing strategy. You want to find someone whose ethos and audience align with your business. Make a profile of your typical guest (based on region, age, lifestyle, and income) and search for an influencer that can deliver that demographic. If you own a boutique hotel that caters to affluent millennials, find an influencer whose audience reflects that. If your guests are primarily families, partner with a family travel blogger. Like any marketing investment, you need to ensure your content is reaching potential customers.

Micro-influencers >> Influencers with massive followings can be extremely expensive to collaborate with, but don’t let that scare you. Social media is a flourishing ecosystem, and there are plenty of smaller influencers, called micro-influencers, that make great collaborators. Not only are they cheaper to partner with but they tend to have a stronger relationship with their followers (more like a friend than a celebrity) and therefore can have much higher engagement.

How can I be successful?

Assess their engagement >> The success of social media influencers has prompted many people to buy fake followers in hopes of reaping the same benefits. Obviously, you want to avoid collaborating with these types of accounts. To ensure your influencer is legitimate, you should assess the engagement of their account (the number of likes versus the number of followers) and take a scroll through their comments to see if they reflect genuine, loyal fans. A comment section full of spam is a big red flag.

Measure ROI >> At the end of the day, influencer marketing is like any other marketing investment. The point is to increase revenue at your business, so you need to know it’s working. Calculate how much the partnership is costing you (whether it’s in free nights stays, amenities, or a fee) and compare it to the revenue they bring to your business. You can track their impact by giving them a unique promo code, a branded hashtag or using UTM parameters. 

Social media has changed the marketing game irrevocably. Today’s consumers (made up by a millennial majority) engage with businesses and each other in entirely new ways. Influencers that rose to fame on social platforms are the newest celebrities, and they have the power to bring in massive revenue with their endorsement. Consider incorporating influencer marketing into your current strategy to increase your marketing reach.