Hotel Tech for a Touchless New World

COVID-19 has pushed us all into a world of caution. Social distancing regulations and fear of infection have impacted our daily lives as we avoid physical interaction. Even as cases drop and official restrictions ease, a level of cautiousness will likely remain with us for some time. Hotels and other businesses are operating under new guidelines that include sanitization, physical distancing and contact tracing protocols, possibly permanently.

Businesses across all industries are turning to technology to help streamline new processes and maintain customer service. While it seems contrary to the notion of hospitality, right now it is important to reduce physical touchpoints during a hotel stay to help keep guests and staff safe. Modern hotel technology makes this possible through automation that also augments and personalizes the guest experience.

Over the past decade, more and more hotels have been implementing mobile technology to improve workflows and the guest experience. Now, in our touchless new world, such innovation is more crucial than ever.

Self check-in

First impressions count so check-in is an important touchpoint to get right. Guests expect an efficient, personable welcome; a bad one can taint the rest of their stay.

While the check-in process traditionally involves physical interaction between the guest and hotel staff, online technology has spurred consumer demand for self-service applications and many hotel brands have already met that demand with a mobile self-check-in option.

Integrated with the hotel property management system (PMS), mobile self-check-in applications provide guests with an efficient yet personalized check-in process while reducing time at the front desk. In fact, when integrated with online payment and keyless entry solutions, self-check-in apps allow guests to bypass the front desk entirely.

A “touchless” check-in process has never been more relevant than it is now. Self-check-in solutions not only help keep guests and staff safe during the pandemic, but improve efficiency and personalization through data automation too.

Mobile housekeeping app

Although there are less guestrooms to clean at most properties due to low occupancy levels brought about by COVID-19, new housekeeping procedures to mitigate the spread of the virus have made housekeeping responsibilities and schedules more complicated.

Right now, many travelers are wary about physical contact with other people and surfaces. To make guests feel more comfortable, some hotels are offering guests a choice between varying levels of housekeeping service. Some hotels have halted housekeeping service altogether during a guest’s stay to protect the health of both guests and housekeeping staff. Many properties are enforcing a 48-hour or longer room closeout between stays to allow for deeper cleaning and decontamination.

While COVID-19 is still a threat, staying on top of cleaning protocols, schedules and housekeeping requests is of utmost importance. Equipping housekeeping staff with mobile access to the housekeeping report ensures staff are efficient and informed at all times while they work.

Integrated with the PMS, a mobile housekeeping app improves internal communication and workflow by allowing housekeepers to view the live occupancy status of rooms (due in, occupied, do-not-disturb, checked out), and front-desk agents to see which rooms have been cleaned, inspected and are ready for guests in real time. Housekeepers can attach notes and maintenance alarms to rooms as they work, to help keep track of special housekeeping requests, maintenance issues or sick/quarantining guests.

Mobile messaging

Mobile messaging provides a way for hotels to offer guests a convenient, open line of personalized communication, without physical interaction. Rapidly growing in popularity well before COVID-19 hit, mobile messaging solutions for hotels are now truly an answer for the need of the hour.

With an impressive open rate of 98 percent, text messaging is an effective and efficient way to keep guests informed about COVID-19 protocols and hotel services. For example, an automated pre-arrival message could let guests know you are looking forward to their arrival, include a link to a dedicated URL containing relevant hotel information, and invite them to let you know if they have any questions or special requests.

As a COVID-19 precaution, hotel information folders have been removed from many guestrooms because these high-touch surfaces are difficult to clean. In many cases, properties are shifting this information online. An automated text message sent to guests upon check-in can link to online hotel information, ensuring guests are aware of house rules, the Wi-Fi password, etc., and remind guests that they can easily reach out via text messaging if they need anything.

During their stay, guests can use mobile messaging to make requests without having to make physical contact with the front desk, and on the day of departure, self-check-out instructions can be communicated automatically.

Direct integration between the mobile messaging platform and the PMS facilitates the personalization and automation of messages. In this case, reservation data is sent from the PMS to the messaging platform in real time to automate routine message delivery, and to match incoming guest inquiries with reservation data for more efficient and personalized responses and resolution. This can make a significant positive impact on productivity and customer service, not only when occupancy is high, but also when operating with skeleton staff as business begins to recover.

Smart room tech

Light switches, thermostat controls and TV remotes are high-touch points for guests that can be avoided through the use of smart room technology. Powered by IoT (Internet of Things) technology, smart room functionality can be controlled via mobile app or voice-activated digital assistants like Alexa for Hospitality. Guests can close the drapes, turn on the lights, adjust the room temperature, select entertainment programming, order room service and even turn on the coffee machine using their own smartphone or simply by voice command.

Not only does smart room technology offer an elevated level of convenience that modern travelers desire, but reducing physical contact with high-touch surfaces will make guests feel safer while COVID-19 is still out there.

Smart room technology is a significant investment and doesn’t suit all lodging operations, but it makes sense to consider such solutions for our touchless new normal and beyond. In the meantime, make sure guests know that all high-touch guestroom surfaces are disinfected after every stay.

Many aspects of daily hotel operations have changed in the wake of COVID-19. As long as the virus is a threat, operational protocols that enforce physical distancing and thorough sanitization will be our new normal. From self-check-in to mobile messaging, modern technology can help hotels improve efficiency and customer service as they adapt to new processes and prepare to welcome both guests of today and tomorrow.

Hotel Guest Expectations in a Post-COVID-19 World

It’s hard to know exactly how fast hotel occupancy levels will bounce back as COVID-19 cases drop and travel restrictions lift around the globe. Will travel consumers, confined at home for so long, burst out of the gates as soon as borders reopen? Or will they cautiously hang back, waiting to be sure that it’s safe to go out into the world again? Either way, travel demand is resilient and occupancy will recover, but uncertainty and fear of reoccurring outbreaks is likely to inhibit consumer confidence for a while.

To maximize occupancy and revenue in a post-COVID-19 world, it’s important for hotels to prepare for evolving demand and guest expectations.

Demand driven by domestic market

Health and safety concerns and financial hardship due to the pandemic will deter many travelers from air travel even as international borders open. In the short- to mid-term aftermath of the crisis, a large portion of travelers will likely avoid airports and crowded urban centers, in favor of cheaper, safer domestic trips to less-populated, drive-to destinations.

This initial trend will bode well for boutique properties in quieter areas that can adapt their marketing strategy to the domestic market. Good food, outdoor activities and self-guided or small-group tours will be attractive inclusions in staycation packages during the pandemic recovery phase.

Large chains and convention hotels that typically cater to international travelers will probably experience a longer path to recovery, however luxury resorts situated off the beaten path may see a near-term resurgence in international bookings, especially those located in regions less affected by the virus.

Stricter health and safety measures

The virus’ high infection rate and the resulting promotion of physical distancing and handwashing has made the public keenly aware of sanitization protocols. Going forward, stricter, visible health and safety measures will be required to reassure and attract guests back to airports, hotels, restaurants and other public venues.

Cleaning has always been extremely important to hotel operation, but, unlike before, it will no longer be a hidden process. Instead, guests will expect and desire to see sanitization measures in practice in order to feel safe, perhaps permanently.

Visible demonstrations of health and safety measures may include regular cleaning of surfaces, official clean certification, frequent accessibility to hand sanitizer, temperature screening of guests and staff, furniture placement for increased physical spacing in common areas (including restaurants and gyms), signs requesting physical distancing compliance (like limiting elevator use to one party at a time), removal of shared amenities like breakfast buffets and in-room minibars, implementation of self-check-in and other self-service apps, and promotion of less visible policies like the deep-cleaning of rooms and 48-hour room holds between stays.

Flexible change and cancellation policies

Many hotels have implemented flexible change and cancellation policies during this crisis to help preserve customer loyalty. Going forward, it would be wise for properties to maintain flexible policies that give customers confidence to book during the recovery phase when fears of a resurgence of the virus are still very real.

Consider temporarily reducing or eliminating cancellation and change fees for both existing reservations and new bookings on all rate types until the situation stabilizes. For cancellations, offering credit or a voucher in place of a refund will help secure future business.

Flexibility should be applied to rewards programs too. Extend point expiry dates and status validity accordingly to make sure your loyal customers don’t lose program points and benefits due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Increased sustainability

Lockdowns and travel restrictions around the globe have given our planet a bit of a breather, and the positive effects on the environment are obvious. As a result of the reduction in pollution, the canals in Venice and the sky over Beijing are clear for the first time in decades and smog levels are down over several major cities around the world. Seen by many as a silver lining and evidence that the environment can indeed heal given a chance, there may be renewed vigour for increased sustainability efforts following this crisis.

While pollution levels will likely return with a vengeance as economies push to make up for lost time, consumers may be more motivated than ever to take action by making sustainable choices. It makes sense there will be a focus on local, environmentally friendly and socially responsible business practices as we emerge from a world of highest caution. 

As this global crisis subsides, businesses that have a positive impact on their community will shine.

COVID-19 has had a deep impact on our daily lives and will continue to impact the way we live, work and travel for some time to come. Be prepared to meet evolving demand and guest expectations as we emerge from this crisis. A focus on guest safety, flexible policies and community involvement will help contribute to a positive guest experience that wins loyal customers and maximizes occupancy and revenue in a post-COVID-19 world.

The Historic Lincoln Inn

Located in Gooding, IdahoThe Historic Lincoln Inn offers newly renovated, high-quality rooms within easy walking distance of home-style restaurants and shops right in the heart of town. This inn has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated booking engine to accept online bookings that are commission free!

How Hotels Can Come Out Stronger from COVID-19

COVID-19 and the travel restrictions and lockdowns required to reduce the spread of the virus have brought about an unprecedented drop in occupancy for hotels and other lodging operations all over the world. Some properties have had to close out floors, suspend certain services such as dining and event services, or temporarily shut their doors. While the novel coronavirus has had a profound impact on daily operations, try to take advantage of this forced downtime to reflect on your business and the changes you can make to ensure your hotel is well positioned to maximize revenue when the gates of travel open again.

Review Your Marketing Strategy

There are a lot of predictions about what the new normal of travel will look like after COVID-19. As borders reopen and fears subside, will travelers still travel like they used to? There’s a general consensus that domestic travel will see an increase, while business and international travel will decrease—at least for a while.

Recovery of the travel industry will be fluid and uneven, so it will be more important than ever for hotel marketers to adopt a flexible marketing strategy based on close analysis of their reservations data and market. As the world recovers from the pandemic, hotels should prepare to adjust their marketing spend and channels to align with shifting market segments.

What is certain during these uncertain times is that maintaining communication with customers is crucial. It’s important to reassure potential guests by clarifying your property’s COVID-19 status and policies, and to stay top of mind for guests looking forward to traveling again once this is all over. While marketing messaging during COVID-19 is a topic that deserves a blog post all of its own, now is a good time to evaluate the systems you have in place to reach out to guests. For example, if you aren’t already, seriously consider automating customer communications such as reservation confirmations and pre- and post-stay emails to take advantage of these key touchpoints to build the guest relationship and generate revenue through upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

Take a good look at your website and make sure content is current, updating text and images yourself where you can. If your budget allows, consider getting that website redesign underway. Look at creating fresh photo and video content for your website and to use for future ad campaigns and on your property’s social media accounts. If you haven’t yet started a blog for your property, now might be the right time. A blog is a great way to stay connected to your customers during these uncertain times, and provides good content for your property’s social media accounts and e-newsletters too.

Read Your Online Reviews

Spend some time reading through (and responding to) recent online guest reviews to become more aware of what your guests love about your property, and what they don’t. Reviews shine a light on the areas that really need improvement—which can sometimes differ from the areas we think need attention. Let positive reviews provide encouragement during these tough times, acting as a reminder of what you are fighting for.

If your property’s online reviews are looking a bit thin, consider ways to generate more. From asking at check-out to sending post-stay review requests, review management can be handled manually or via automated solutions that make generating and responding to reviews easy.

Online reviews were critical to a hotel’s reputation before COVID-19 and are likely to be even more important after. Hotel and room cleanliness, for example, has always been a significant rating factor within guest reviews and, going forward, will carry even more weight. Paying some attention to your property’s reviews and review management strategy now can help put your property on a stronger foot when the industry starts to recover. 

Get to Know Your Hotel Operating Systems Better

Your hotel operating systems—including your property management system (PMS), revenue management system (RMS), point-of-sale (POS) software, customer relationship management (CRM) solution, among others—are designed to drive revenue and efficiency, and they will be key to maximizing both in our post-pandemic industry.

Make use of this time to delve deeper into your hotel systems to discover ways of doing things better. Explore features and reports you are unfamiliar with and consider how they might help make your workday easier or provide deeper insights into your business. What would you like your systems to do better? What cross-system integrations would improve workflows and the guest experience at your property? Now is a good time to reach out to your technology vendors with questions and customization requests. If any of your systems are holding you back, dedicate some downtime to researching alternative solutions. Although you might be hesitant to invest in new technology right now, contact solution providers, ask questions, and be ready to go with your top choice when brighter days come.

Cross-train Your Staff

As roles across departments have become quieter these days, consider using this time to cross-train your staff. The flexibility afforded by cross-training staff is always beneficial to a business’s bottom line—both during tough times and when business is going well.

The decision to cross-train staff within or across departments depends on each business and your employees’ strengths and skill sets. Giving employees the ability to step outside their primary roles when needed not only maximizes flexibility and efficiency in scheduling staff, but results in a more productive, engaged and cohesive team that delivers a better guest experience.

Reassess Your Expenses

The COVID-19 crisis has already driven most hotels and businesses across industries to reassess their expenses, looking for ways to reduce costs. While it may never have been so urgent to cut costs as it is now, identifying wasteful or excessive practices has always been key to maximizing profits.

Look for ways to become more cost efficient going forward without negatively impacting the guest experience or brand image. Assessing staff scheduling efficiency, cross-training staff, identifying opportunities for automation, sourcing F&B supplies from fewer vendors and reducing frequency of deliveries, implementing energy-efficiency controls, and sourcing cheaper office supplies are some examples of how and where costs could be minimized without affecting quality of service.

Find Ways to Go Greener

For the world’s population the novel coronavirus is a health tragedy, but for the planet, COVID-19 has brought about a much-needed breather—from us. Satellite imaging has shown a significant reduction in pollution all over the world as a direct result of lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Climate change and the need to live and operate our businesses in a more sustainable way has been front of mind long since before this pandemic hit. Recent research showed that sustainable travel options were becoming increasingly important to today’s travelers. Tomorrow it will be even more important.

If you haven’t already given it much thought, consider ways you could go greener at your hotel and how you can promote your sustainability efforts. Some methods require little upfront investment, like installing energy-efficient lightbulbs, implementing towel and linen reuse programs, and replacing single-use packaging (water bottles, mini toiletries, salt-and-pepper packets, etc.) with refillable solutions. Other ways, such as adopting alternative energy sources like solar and wind power, and implementing automated energy management systems, involve much more significant upfront costs, but dramatically reduce operational costs and your environmental footprint.

These are the toughest times for the hotel industry in recent history, but try to stay positive and focused on the horizon. Use this time wisely to take a close look at your business and how you can emerge from this crisis even stronger.

Managing Hotel Reservations during the COVID-19 Pandemic

As borders are closed, events and gatherings cancelled, and general populations asked to stay home in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, our tourism and hospitality industries are being challenged like never before. Drastic measures are necessary to protect our global health and economy.

Lodging providers and other tourism businesses are having to make tough decisions as they navigate a unique and unexpected crisis that has had a profound impact on nearly every aspect of life. These are challenging and uncertain times, but the travel industry will recover—it’s just a matter of when.

In the meantime, analyze costs thoughtfully, communicate with your customers, and maintain sight of the upturn. When it comes to reservation management during the COVID-19 pandemic, lodging operators can use their property management system (PMS) to implement specific strategies to help manage cancellations, availability and customer communications. Here are some actions to consider:

Create a cancellation code for COVID-19

To help track cancellations due to the pandemic, and to assist with managing cancellation and refund policies, create a COVID-19 cancellation code that can be applied to relevant canceled reservations. A custom report can then be generated, collated by cancellation code, to track all COVID-19 cancellations.

In addition, identifying where the majority of canceled bookings are coming from (geographical regions and booking channels) is important for determining any required adjustments to marketing and distribution budgets and channels.

Convert confirmed bookings into gift certificates

Some properties are choosing to convert bookings into gift certificates or vouchers instead of cancelling bookings and issuing refunds to protect revenue and secure business for the future. When a booking is converted into a gift certificate, the reservation payment is held as a guest deposit for future bookings.

To help track reservations that are converted to gift certificates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, create a ‘COVID-19’ source code that can be attached to converted bookings.

Keep customers informed by email

During any crisis, it is important to keep in touch with customers to inform them of any changes related to your business that might affect them. Use your PMS or CRM to send customers a bulk email informing them of your property’s COVID-19 policy and reassuring them that their well-being is of utmost importance to you.

A customized pre-arrival email template should be created and sent to confirmed reservations arriving within up to 90 days, letting customers know about the steps you have taken to ensure their health and safety, detailing your cancellation policy, reassuring them that you are closely monitoring the situation, and inviting them to reach out with any questions or concerns they may have. Our partner Revinate offers good advice for writing COVID-19 emails to guests.

Apply temporary closeouts

Many properties are making the hard decision to temporarily close out part of their property or their entire property in order to control costs. This is a decision that should be carefully weighed in terms of forecasted occupancy and P&L.

Within your PMS, temporary closeouts should not affect any bookings already in place as a property could choose to honor those existing bookings. If a reservation during the closeout period is canceled, the unit attached to that reservation should automatically close out. Closeouts should also push a stop sell to OTAs integrated with your PMS.

Add COVID-19 messaging to your website booking engine

Use your website booking engine to help clarify your property’s COVID-19 status to customers. For example, if your property is open but some services such as the restaurant, gym and spa are closed, a customized message informing customers of limited operations can be added to your online booking engine, displaying for all availability searches. In WebRezPro this is executed through the ‘maintenance note’ feature, and can also be applied to all booking confirmation emails sent during the designated time frame.

If your property is temporarily closed due to COVID-19, update the “no availability” message that displays when a search returns no availability to let customers know that you are not accepting reservations at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that you look forward to welcoming them in the near future.

No one knows how long the COVID-19 crisis will last, but we can all work together to stop the spread and eliminate the virus. When that happens, people will be eager to travel again and the hotel industry will recover. Until then, use your data and hotel technology to make informed decisions for your business and to implement procedures that will help you navigate evolving operations during these uncharted times.

If you require assistance implementing any of the above reservation management practices in your WebRezPro PMS, please don’t hesitate to contact our customer support team. Stay safe, and keep your eyes on the horizon.

Email Marketing Tips for Independent Hoteliers in the 2020s

Businesses are reaching out to customers today in more ways than ever before—by social media, chatbot, mobile messaging, SMS, phone call, email, online advertising, TV and radio ads, and print… Phew! But of any marketing channel, email still delivers the best return on investment (in both time and money) and remains the key strategic channel for 91 percent of marketers (DMA, 2019). For hoteliers, modern tools to automate and personalize guest email communications make email one of the most efficient and effective ways to acquire and retain new customers.

While email marketing has been around since the 1990s when the internet revolution changed our lives, email marketing strategies have changed a lot since then. Here are our tips for doing hotel email marketing right in this new decade.

Grow Your Email List

Since the introduction of anti-spam and data protection laws like CASL and GDPR that were designed to protect consumers, marketers have had to adhere to stricter rules regarding sending emails, like compiling permission-based email lists. Such laws have helped to ensure B2C communications are reaching more engaged and receptive audiences, which is a win for both consumers and businesses.

It’s important to keep growing your email list in an organic way. Allow customers and potential customers to opt in through your website (for example, newsletter sign-ups and through your online booking engine), and encourage them to do so via other channels too, like social media, mobile messaging, booking confirmations, on-property signage and even in person upon check-in. Make the value of joining your mailing list obvious, whether for exclusive perks and discounts or for local travel tips and advice.

Also very important is to make sure all email marketing communications include an opt-out (unsubscribe) option in the footer of every email.

Use Data to Deliver Relevant Content

When it comes to routine emails that are directly tied to guest reservations and focused on building a loyal relationship, like booking confirmations, pre-arrival emails and feedback requests, targeted communications can be automated by your property management system (PMS), whereby relevant content is triggered by booking data (such as room and rate types, and check-in and check-out dates).

When it comes to sending promotional emails (like specials and package promotions, birthday or anniversary offers, exclusive discounts, or property news and events), the key to delivering relevant content is segmenting your mailing list and tailoring content to fit those segments. This depends greatly on customer profile data stored in your PMS or CRM, including demographics, interests, previous stay and spend history, etc. Segment your list in a way that makes sense for your property, for example, by highest-value customers, industry demographics (business guests, leisure guests, families, etc.), purchasing history, geographic location, etc.

Keep To the Point and On Brand

In our era of digital media, attention spans have become shorter. Inundated with choice, online consumers have become adept at skimming and scrolling at top speed. If we don’t get the information we need instantly, we move on to the next site—or delete the email. We don’t have time for long-winded paragraphs of text.

Just like current hotel website design trends highlight simple, clean layouts, concise text and captivating images that do most of the talking, marketing emails should follow suit. Grab and keep your customers’ attention with well-written and to-the-point textual content, and a simple, visually pleasing design that reinforces your brand.

Include Strong CTAs

Make it clear what your customer’s next steps should be by including a strong call to action (CTA), whether you want to encourage customers to contact your front desk, or direct them to a dedicated landing page for more information.

For example, a booking confirmation email might also promote upgrades and add-ons with an “Enhance My Stay” button that takes the customer to the “Amenities” page on your property’s website, and/or directs them to contact your front desk via the provided email address or phone number. An email promoting your latest special package could include a “Book Now” button that takes recipients directly to your online booking engine, with the package pre-selected. An email requesting guest feedback about their stay should include an in-email survey or a CTA (such as a “Review My Stay” button) that takes them directly to the feedback form on your preferred review platform.

Ideally, customers should be able to achieve the desired result with a single click, so send them exactly where they expect to go upon click-through. And always include an email address and phone number for your front desk, along with an invitation to contact you with any questions or special requests.

Use Subject Lines That Make Value Clear

Over the years, email subject lines have become increasingly important for cutting through the chatter and they have a direct impact on open rates. It pays to put some thought into them.

Just like email content, the subject line should also be brief and to the point. It should clearly communicate the benefit or value to the customer. For example, the subject line for an email promoting a new package could read something like, “Wine, dine and recline in Kelowna.” The subject line for a special offer could go something like, “Enjoy an extra night in Brisbane on us.” A request for feedback, something like, “Help us make your next stay even better.” Pique curiosity about renovations with a subject like, “A sneak peek at our new pool… opening soon.” Avoid the hard sell and instead tell customers how what’s inside can benefit them. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, “Would I open this email?”

Make It Mobile Friendly

Various reports conclude that more than half of all emails are now opened on mobile rather than desktop. And if an email doesn’t display well on mobile, it’s immediately deleted in more than 70 percent of cases—no matter how good the content is.

From booking confirmations to special promotions, all your emails should be mobile friendly. The easiest way to do this is by making sure your PMS or CRM solution offers responsive email templates. Then, think mobile-first when designing the layout of your email by keeping image sizes in check, keeping paragraphs short, using buttons instead of linked text, including image ALT text, and linking to your property’s social media accounts. Once your template is set up, send yourself a test email and check it on both mobile and desktop before sending it to customers.

Automate, Automate, Automate!

With modern PMS and CRM solutions, managing guest email communications is almost effortless. As mentioned above, templates can and should be set up for booking confirmations, upgrade offers, pre-arrival, check-in/welcome, in-stay, check-out and post-stay emails that are triggered by reservation data such as stay dates, and room and rate types. Pulling data directly from reservation information, including the guest name, automated emails save hoteliers significant time while personalizing communications.

Test & Track Engagement

Finally, make sure your email marketing is working by tracking engagement, and testing and tweaking to improve results. Customer engagement and ROI can be measured by tracking open and click rates and, of course, revenue generated by email campaigns. Test what works best by trying different subject lines, CTAs, message length, delivery times, and track those results too. Modern email marketing platforms provide real-time tracking and reporting that makes analyzing campaign success easy.

Staying in touch with customers is critical to winning bookings and guest loyalty, and email is still one of the best ways to do it. Automating guest email communications, modern hospitality technology ensures hoteliers deliver personalized communications to each and every guest at the right time. Ask us about WebRezPro PMS’ automated email templates and direct integrations with hospitality CRM platforms that make guest email communications a breeze.

The Davidson Hotel

Located in one of the nation’s largest intact Victorian era National Historic Landmark Districts – Cathedral Hill – in Saint Paul, MinnesotaThe Davidson Hotel is a boutique property that offers eight unique suites in a beautiful historic mansion. Guests have easy access to the district’s restaurants, museums and theaters. The Davidson Hotel has chosen to use our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they are using WebRezPro to accept online bookings!

How Independent Hotels Can Show Guests Some Love This Valentine’s Day

The month of love is almost upon us—is your hotel ready to woo guests? Whether you personally relish the romance of Valentine’s Day or think it’s nothing more than a marketing tactic, Valentine’s Day is a prime opportunity to boost the bottom line of any business in the hospitality industry.

Here are some ideas to make guests fall in love with your property this Valentine’s Day!

Offer Something Special

It goes without saying that romance packages do well during February. From wine and chocolates to spa treatments and candlelit dinners, romance packages are popular throughout the year. Consider spicing things up by offering something a little different to stand out this Valentine’s Day. Some ideas that go well with accommodation include couples classes (think painting, pottery or surfing lessons), tours and activities, event tickets, and in-room extras like massage kits, fairy lights and cocktail stations—and consider including babysitting for couples with kids. You could even go all out and put together a customizable proposal package!

Have you thought of offering something special for those without partners too? A self-love spa package could be promoted to singles, complete with a free drink at the bar during singles’ happy hour. Or perhaps an anti-Valentine’s Day package for groups of friends that could include tickets to a show, party or speed-dating event.

From activities to in-room extras, ancillary products and services that can be included in packages can also be offered as add-ons, allowing guests to customize their stay whether they book a package or a standard rate. People are inclined to indulge on occasions such as Valentine’s Day, so take the opportunity to offer relevant upsells to boost your bottom line.

Your imagination is the limit—just be sure to tailor packages and add-ons to your property’s key guest segments and to reflect the personality of your brand. Once you’ve created your special offers, make sure those packages and add-ons are available to guests on your property’s website through your online booking engine.

Celebrate in Style

Dressing up for special occasions makes us feel good about ourselves and Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse for doing just that. If your property has the space and facilities, why not throw a party to celebrate your guests? The glamour and mystery of a masquerade ball, the seduction of a salsa dancing night, or the fun of a speed-dating event will attract both travelers and locals looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day in style.

Look to your locale for inspiration. Today’s travelers enjoy authentic experiences so injecting some local flavor into your event will help create a memorable affair. Whatever event you plan, make sure it fits your brand and clientele, and incorporate it into a swanky date-night package your guests can’t resist.

Set the Mood

Nothing sets the mood for romance like soft light, seductive music and succulent food, so dim the lights, choose a romantic playlist and add some aphrodisiacs to your menu.

When it comes to decorations, both common areas and guest rooms can be dressed up with fairy lights, flowers, heart garlands and such. Choose decorations that complement your property’s décor to avoid coming across as tacky, and resist the urge to go over the top—you don’t want to alienate guests who aren’t there to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

When choosing a romantic playlist, it’s important to select a soundtrack that also reflects your brand identity. Consider incorporating local artists and if you can host them live, even better. Imagine the elegance of live piano music or the soul of an acoustic guitar in your lobby.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to spice up your menu with irresistible limited-time specials that will also attract local customers. Let your chef express their passion through creative and adventurous dishes like oyster shooters, sweet and smoky cedar-planked salmon, shakshuka, black truffle ravioli, and chocolate and raspberry torte. Don’t forget cocktails!

It’s important to set the mood even before guests set foot on your property—you’ve got to lure them through your doors via your website first! Do this by making sure your Valentine’s Day specials and packages are promoted on both the packages page and the homepage. Consider adding a popup, inviting guests to take a peek at your romantic specials. Update photos to include images that portray your romantic side, like an intimate table setting for two, a rose-petal-covered bed, a couple enjoying a drink at the bar.

Share the Love

Once all your Valentine’s Day plans are in place, shout it from the rooftops! Make sure customers know what your property has to offer.

In addition to promoting your Valentine’s Day specials and events on your website as mentioned above, send targeted email campaigns to segmented mailing lists. (Here are some great examples from our partner, Revinate.) Consider offering discounts or exclusive deals to guests who have stayed before or just to your most loyal customers. Send two rounds of emails—one a few weeks in advance to remind customers Valentine’s Day is coming and let them know what you have to offer, and another about a week before the big day to catch those last-minute bookers! Managing email campaigns is a breeze with a property management system that offers automatic emails and/or integration with CRM platforms.

If you are hosting a themed event, create posters that can be put up around town, and start promoting it on social media weeks in advance.

Speaking of social media, occasions like Valentine’s Day generate plenty of fun and photogenic content to share on your social channels. As well as promoting your property’s special offers, take the opportunity to create themed content that strengthens customer relationships and attracts new ones. Contests and campaigns asking guests to share their own stories and content are good ways to drive engagement. Put effort into creating enticing images that provide a glimpse of what awaits guests at your property.

Run targeted Facebook ads, bid for online advertising terms like “Valentine’s Day hotel deals,” and make sure you communicate special packages through your OTA channels too. Selling special rates and packages on multiple OTAs is simple and automated when your property management system is integrated with a channel manager.

Whether or not you’re a lover of Valentine’s Day, it’s an occasion that lodging operators should embrace. With Valentine’s Day spending totaling approximately 20 billion dollars in the U.S. alone, this romantic holiday can be a lucrative one for hoteliers. We hope some of the above ideas help make guests fall in love with your property this Valentine’s Day.

Thatcher Hotel

The Thatcher Hotel in Hopland, California, is at the southern tip of Mendocino County and offers easy access to area attractions like wineries. A wide range of individually decorated guest rooms and available, and additional amenities include onsite dining, an outdoor pool and private event space. The Thatcher Hotel has chosen to use our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s availability calendar and booking engine software to accept online reservations!

BelleVue Oasis

BelleVue Oasis is a boutique hotel in Palm Springs, California that offers a wide range of guest rooms and amenities like an outdoor swimming pool, free WiFi, a hot tub and bicycle rentals. BelleVue Oasis has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help run their business. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s booking engine to accept reservations directly from their website!