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

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

How does it work? 

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

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

How are ads ranked?

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

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

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

Should I be using it?

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

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

5 Hospitality Trends to Look Out For in 2019

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

More Mobile

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

Health and Well-Being

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

Social, Social, Social

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

Cool Tech

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

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

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

Adults-only

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 1: Make the Decision to Switch

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

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

Step 2: Choose the Best Fit for Your Business

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

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

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

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

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

WebRezPro PMS’ Interactive Availability Calendar makes managing reservations easy

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

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

Step 3: Make the Switch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harbor Hotel Provincetown

Located in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in the heart of Cape Cod, the Harbor Hotel Provincetown offers 129 guest rooms include 10 super spacious suites. Amenities include free WiFi, onsite dining, some pet-friendly rooms, a swimming pool, a fire pit and a seasonal cabana bar. The Harbor Hotel Provincetown 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!

Everyone Is On Mobile. Why Aren’t You?

What you need to know about adopting a guest messaging platform for your hotel.

***Guest post from Whistle, a WebRezPro partner***

Hotels are in a bit of a technological limbo. We are one of the few industries that still use FAX machines while providing guests with cutting-edge technology like digital keys. In the end, the decision to innovate comes down to the benefits a new service brings to the hotel—the direct impact on guest experience, not how shiny or expensive the new software is. So, what do you, as a hotel, need to consider when bringing on a guest messaging platform?

Your Guests

When guests look for hotels, they’re trying to find the best experience; how far they will be from their destination, what amenities are offered, and more. Guests often need to speak with hotel agents for specific information, but don’t always have the time to wait on hold or dig through your website. Guest Messaging Platforms give guests the ability to send a quick message to your staff, while allowing them to go about their day. The best part is that they don’t have to download another mobile app, they continue messaging your hotel the same way they already message friends and family.

Problem resolution or service recovery is also much simpler with messaging; survey metrics will rise considerably after you start using a messaging system in your hotel. Often, the primary challenge is not the actual resolution of an issue, but rather, those who score your hotel low tend to not report the problems in the first place. With a messaging service in place, it is easy to proactively identify and address any service concerns or guest dissatisfaction, resulting in a positive impact on your scores and loyalty.

Your Staff

Your staff will find that they are able to work more efficiently with messaging services in place. Prior to your guests’ arrival, your team will more accurately plan around given arrival times, work out any logistical barriers, and satisfy any pre-check-in requests, ensuring your guests start their stay on the right note.

Complaints are easier and less stressful to manage now. Your team will have more time to find solutions, and better solutions mean happier guests. Your staff will thank you for having no more angry patrons yelling in the lobby!

Your Revenue

Messaging services will help your team build relationships with your guests and generate more ancillary revenue. By proactively ensuring guest satisfaction, your team will increase the likelihood of guests returning. Your hotel will be presented with more opportunities to keep your current guests happy—and it’s cheaper to keep them happy!

Choosing a Service

What do you need from a messaging service? We suggest reviewing the following:

Price – Fees vary between guest messaging platforms. Look for companies that fit your budget, and watch out for setup/installation costs and hidden fees.

Features – No two guest messaging platforms are the same; find the feature set that matches your needs. Some common questions to ask the provider are:

  • Do you charge for user accounts? 
  • Is there a way to automate messaging?
  • Can we communicate with international travelers?
  • Which third-party systems do you integrate with? 
  • Do you offer a way to verify and collect messaging consent? 
  • Do you offer product training? 
  • What type of analytics or reporting is offered? 

 

Impact – It is very important to find a platform with a proven track record. Ask for case studies, testimonials, references, and online ratings. Make sure your guest messaging platform will yield the highest return in value.

“An overwhelming success for our hotel… we couldn’t be happier.”

“The WebRezPro/Whistle Integration has been an overwhelming success for our hotel.  Beginning within minutes after the customer makes a reservation they receive ‘immediate gratification’ with a welcome SMS message to let them know their reservation is complete.  This helps us quickly establish a direct and personal line of communication with our customers so that we can easily assist them with any of their travel plans. 

As a small, boutique hotel our front desk offers limited hours of availability and now we can clearly communicate reminders about check-in times and guests can easily alert us when/if they plan to arrive beyond our normally scheduled times which allows us to easily alter our schedules accordingly. 

Once a guest checks-in, Whistle quickly delivers answers to commonly asked questions such as Wi-Fi code, etc.  From time to time as information changes we can easily update our canned messages in Whistle without any expensive printing costs or communication delays.  Really, I just can’t say enough about the WebRezPro/Whistle Integration, we couldn’t be happier.”

— Topher Swanson, Co-Owner, The Fred

Whistle

Whistle is the number-one rated Guest Messaging platform. With over 85% of travelers carrying their smartphone, Whistle allows hotels and guests to communicate via SMS Text Messaging and Mobile Messaging pre-, during, and post-stay. Whistle enhances customer service through real-time guest engagement, helping boost service scores while streamlining internal communication and operations through team messaging.

For more information, please visit: www.TryWhistle.com

Castle Accommodation

Castle Accommodation offers great places to stay at Castle Mountain Resort, just 45 km southwest of Pincher Creek, Alberta. A variety of accommodation types are offered, ranging from hotel rooms to hostel beds to on-hill cabins, there is something to suit everyone. Castle Accommodation has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their rentals. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro to accept online bookings!

A Hotelier’s Guide to the Holiday Season

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

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

Special packages

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

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

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

Seasonal cocktails

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

Holiday events

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

Decorations

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

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

Marketing

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

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

 

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

Gibson’s Warehouse

Gibson’s Warehouse is located in the heart of historic downtown Staunton, Virginia, and offers custom designed and decorated guest rooms equipped with WiFi, full kitchens, frameless glass showers and luxurious bath amenities. The hotel has chosen to use our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how WebRezPro enables Gibson’s Warehouse to accept online bookings!

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

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

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

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

Eco-friendly initiatives

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

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

Community Service

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

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

Charitable Contributions

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

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

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

 

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

Westridge Motor Inn

The Westridge Motor Inn is in beautiful Osoyoos, British Columbia, the heart of Canada’s only desert. The motor inn offers 32 guest rooms ranging from queen rooms to king suites, all equipped with free WiFi, kitchenettes and air conditioning. The Westridge Motor Inn has chosen to use our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how the motor inn is using WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software to accept online bookings!