Marisol Condominiums

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

The Panoramic by Xperience Hotels

The Panoramic by Xperience Hotels is located in Tulum, Mexico, and offers luxurious accommodations including studio suites and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites with kitchens. This modern resort boasts an impressive array of amenities including a 360-degree rooftop infinity pool with a 12-foot waterfall, an electric car charging station and free WiFi. This resort has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Check out their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software to accept online bookings. You may just want to book your next vacation while you’re there – that pool looks fantastic!

Go Greener with a Cloud Hotel Property Management System

Increased global average temperatures, rising sea levels and changing weather patterns prove the time is now to step up and take action for a more environmentally friendly way of life. This beautiful planet of ours is the only home we’ve got, and we’ve got to take care of it.

We need to make greener decisions at work, at home and when we travel—and we are, now more than ever. According to Booking.com’s 2019 Sustainable Travel Report, almost three quarters (72 percent) of travelers believe people need to make sustainable travel choices now to save the planet for future generations. Seventy-three percent of global travelers intend to stay in eco-friendly accommodation at least once in the year ahead—a figure that’s been trending up year over year from 62 percent in 2016. Environmental friendliness sways booking decisions too, with 70 percent of global travelers more likely to book accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly, whether they were looking for a sustainable stay or not.

Green practices are becoming more important for businesses to attract increasingly eco-minded consumers. But going green is most important simply because we are responsible for the health of our planet.

There are many ways lodging operations can decrease their ecological footprint. Linen reuse programs, recycling, energy-efficient lighting, smart in-room energy controls, low-flow shower heads, non-toxic cleaning products, refillable shampoo and body wash pumps, filtered water (instead of bottled water), and composting are some popular examples. But did you know that your choice of property management system (PMS) can also impact your property’s ecological footprint?

Choosing a modern, cloud PMS that is accessible on mobile devices and integrated with your other hotel systems is a much greener choice than one that is not.

A Cloud Community

Unlike legacy systems that require substantial on-property technological infrastructure, including servers and cooling systems, cloud PMS are completely deployed online. Beyond a computer, a cloud PMS doesn’t require any on-property hardware, decreasing on-site power demands.

Cloud technological infrastructure (data servers, back-up systems, cooling equipment, etc.) is located remotely, in dedicated, secure data centers and shared among multiple users—optimizing server utilization for greater global energy efficiency.

While a small property switching from a legacy system to a cloud PMS may not notice significant energy savings as their system server requirements were low, the combined energy impact of multiple properties switching their property management systems to the cloud is huge.

Paperless Functionality

With a modern cloud PMS, hotel and reservation data is more readily available than ever. Cloud PMS that are optimized for mobile devices are accessible via a tablet or smartphone, eliminating the need to print reports and schedules in many cases. Instead, data can be accessed on the go directly from the system.

Mobile housekeeping reports allow housekeepers to access their assigned cleaning schedule and update room status in real time using their mobile device. There’s no need to print work schedules, saving paper while significantly improving productivity and inter-staff communication. And with instant access to live room status, housekeepers can attend to vacated rooms sooner, ensuring lights, TVs and thermostats are all switched off promptly.

Just think of the paper savings with a PMS that offers paperless check-in via electronic signature capture, allowing guests to sign check-in receipts on a tablet or smartphone—which can then be emailed to the guest.

Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change, so reducing paper consumption is an important way to help save our planet.

Eco-friendly Integrations

Cloud PMS are easily integrated with other hotel systems for greater workflow efficiency through data automation. Direct integrations with room control systems and mobile key solutions, in particular, provide practical ways to improve energy efficiency too.

Connecting your PMS to such systems helps reduce energy use and costs by facilitating automatic control of in-room lights and thermostats triggered by guest check-in and check-out. Mobile key integrations eliminate the need for plastic keycards, greatly reducing waste.

A modern, well-integrated, mobile-friendly PMS streamlines daily operations and improves a hotel’s bottom line in many ways—not least of which include improving energy efficiency and reducing costs while doing so. Eco-friendly practices are becoming more important than ever for businesses and individuals alike to implement. Going greener with a modern cloud PMS is one way your hotel can reduce its ecological footprint, and help preserve this beautiful planet we call home.

EST Hotel Toronto

Located in Etobicoke, close to Toronto Pearson International Airport and downtown Toronto, EST Hotel Toronto offers 95 modern guest rooms including some Jacuzzi suites. An impressive array of amenities are offered at this hotel including free WiFi, complimentary continental breakfast, a 24-hour fitness center, a swimming pool and an onsite restaurant. EST Hotel Toronto 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 to accept online bookings!

How Independent Hotels Can Cater to Solo Travelers

The freedom to choose their own schedule; the opportunity to self-reflect; a yen for adventure – whatever the reason, more people are opting to travel solo than ever before. A survey conducted by Kayak found that more than a third of adults had holidayed alone, while Pinterest saw a 539% increase in solo adventure pins for 2018. It’s a trend that’s picking up steam across generations and one you might want to start capitalizing on. Here are a few things you can do to cater to this emerging cohort of travelers:

Create communal spaces

Co-working and co-living spaces, which have become a prevalent feature in hotel design as it is, are a big draw for solo travelers. Those globe-trotting alone are often drawn to properties set up to facilitate social interaction. Think about creating flexible lounge spaces, with relaxed seating, communal tables, and entertainment options (like board games and playing cards). Solo guests will appreciate the opportunity to unwind in a social atmosphere and meet like-minded people.  

Host activities and events

Scheduling activities and events at your property is an excellent way to appeal to the solo traveler. This type of guest is typically looking for new experiences, and you’ll be in the running for their business if you’re able to provide those opportunities. What types of activities and events should you host? That will vary greatly depending on your location and clientele. Pool parties, cocktail hours, and quiz nights are great opportunities for guests to mingle while film-screenings, cooking classes, and performances can offer a connection to the local culture.

If your property doesn’t offer tours, collaborate with local companies that do. Having your property serve as the check-in point for popular trips and excursions will help win bookings with solo travelers. Staying at accommodation affiliated with the tours they want to take adds an element of safety (and convenience) that people traveling alone will appreciate.

Sell the local social scene

Solo travelers are looking to immerse themselves in the community, so make a point of selling the buzzing social scene that your location gives them access to. Promoting nearby hot spots on your website will assure potential guests of the ample opportunity to mingle with locals. Include information about nearby parks, popular cafes, neighborhood markets, and any other notable spots. A calendar of events going on in your area (from concerts to bingo nights) would also make a great addition to the community page of your website.

Add health and wellness options

Wellness opportunities are a draw for many solo travelers. In fact, the majority of guests using The Healthy Holiday Company travel on their own. When planning activities and events to host at your property, consider adding in health and wellness options. Yoga, hiking, and meditation classes are all popular options to include.

Highlight the solo experience in marketing content

Once you’ve created an environment that appeals to the solo traveler, you’ll want to promote that aspect of your property online. Include images of people enjoying communal spaces in your marketing collateral and highlight information about on-site activities and events on your hotel website. Create social media posts that speak directly to the solo traveling experience (and be sure to use hashtags that will draw the attention of that demographic). Your marketing strategy shouldn’t focus entirely on solo travelers (of course), but allocating a portion of your content for this group will help establish your property as a solo travel destination.

Smartphones have empowered travelers of all ages to set out on their own. This growing cohort is looking to meet like-minded people, find adventure, and immerse themselves in the local culture. A few small changes can prove your property is the best place for them to do just that.

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. 

What to Post: Ideas for Creating Engaging Hotel Social Media Content

Social media is an integral part of any marketing strategy. To stay competitive in today’s marketplace, you need to regularly post content that is engaging, entertaining, and informative. That can be an overwhelming task; It takes consistent work and creativity to run an effective account. In fact, for many businesses, managing social media is an entire job description. But for independent hoteliers, social media manager is just one of many hats. We know that. So if you find yourself struggling to come up with content to post on your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds, we’ve got your back. Here are a few suggestions for engaging social content:

Insider information

An easy way to ensure your social media posts are adding value for your followers is by posting insider tips and advice. Post information about nearby attractions, events, and local businesses. In addition to making you an authority on the area, piquing interest about things to do and see in your locality encourages followers to travel to the area. And if you’re the one who convinced them to come, it’s likely you’ll be the property they choose to stay at when they do. Consider approaching other businesses about cross-promotional opportunities. You can work together to promote your community and highlight each other’s businesses when you do.

Behind-the-scenes content

Social media is, by nature, a personal medium. It’s where people share their lives. So there’s an expectation that brands will share personal details as well—which is a good thing. Sharing behind-the-scenes content humanizes your staff and endears followers to your property. So take advantage of it. Consider posting pictures and stories that showcase your company culture. Something funny happens onsite? Snap a photo and share it on social media. Recently host a company event? Post pictures and let followers know what you’re up to. You can even use your platforms to showcase stellar staff and welcome new members to the team. Give guests a glimpse into what makes your business special.

Property highlights

It’s a good idea to avoid traditional advertisements on social media. They’re jarring for users, and constant selling is often ill-received. But that doesn’t mean you can’t post promotional material. It just needs to be organic and balanced (promotional content should make up less than 20% of everything you post). So show off what your property has to offer. Include posts about special packages, noteworthy amenities, information about loyalty programs and photos and videos that showcase your property.

Questions

Good user-generated content (UGC) can be leveraged to boost credibility and win bookings. As a business, you should be doing everything you can to encourage and take advantage of UGC. One good way to encourage sharing? Ask. Post questions that followers can respond to (things like “what is your best memory at our property?”, or “what did you like most about your stay?”) and then leverage those responses when they do.

Contests

Success on social media is measured by engagement. You need people to see, like, and respond to your content for it to be an effective marketing tool. And that can be tough to do. That’s why many businesses provide an incentive (in the form of contests) for likes, shares, follows, and comments. In fact, accounts that run regular contests grow 70% faster than those that don’t. So consider hosting your own giveaways to build followers and increase engagement. You’ll need something to give away (think a free night’s stay, complimentary bottle of champagne, dinner for two at your restaurant, etc.), terms and conditions, and a way to enter (tag a friend, use a hashtag, or upload a photo).

Creating content for social media is a big task, but it’s a necessary one for marketing effectively. Give these posts a try and don’t forget to use analytics. When you find out what works, repeat it (just not too often). Good luck!

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

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

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

Free WiFi

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

Complimentary breakfast

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

Luxury in-room essentials

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

Mini-fridge

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

Flexible food options

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

Streaming services

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

Shared spaces

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

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

Google Ads 101: A Hotelier’s Guide to Advertising with Google (Part 2)

In part 1 of this blog, we discussed how Google’s advertising service, Google Ads, works, and how to determine if it’s a platform you should be using. Part 2 will outline the steps required to begin marketing on this powerful platform.

Getting Started

Set up account >> To begin, navigate to the Google Ads site, and click the ‘Start Now’ call-to-action button. You’ll need to enter your email address and website URL. You can create a new Google account, or use one you already have.

Creating a Campaign

Identify a budget >> When starting a new Google Ads campaign, you’ll first need to identify how much you want to spend in the “Your budget” section. You’ll need to choose your currency and the average amount you wish to spend PER DAY. This value can always be adjusted later as you analyze the success of the campaign.

Select audience by location >> This feature allows you to choose to display your ads to customers from a specific location. You can identify your audience by country, region, city, or even neighborhood. For example, if a local airline just announced a direct flight to your city from somewhere else in the country, you might want to create a campaign that specifically targets that area.

Create custom audiences >> If you’re creating a display ad, you can create custom audiences based on affinity and intent. The feature allows you to enter keywords and URLs that correlate with your target demographic, allowing the system to display ads to users most likely to have an interest in your property.

Select a network >> This is where you identify what type of ad you want to create. For ads that appear in search results, choose Google Search Network. For advertisements that appear in web banners, within apps, or on YouTube, select Google Display Network.

Choose your keywords >> Next, you need to choose the terms that you want your ad to appear in the search results for. For phrases, you can choose to show up in searches containing those words in any order (called a modified broad match), containing those words in order (phrase match), or an exact match only. In addition to things like “Accommodation in X,” you should consider bidding on branded keywords as well (i.e. search terms containing your property name). This might seem unnecessary, but they’ll be cheap, and it will stop competitors from redirecting users looking for your hotel.

Place a bid >> When you’re setting up your maximum cost-per-click bid, you have two options. You can allow Google Ads to automatically manage your bid (by adjusting your CPC to get the maximum number of clicks while staying within your budget) or set the maximum manually.

Write your ad >> For the search network you’ll need to create a text ad. It should include a title and description that are closely related to your keywords. This will signal to the user that you’re offering exactly what they are looking for. You’ll need to enter the landing URL for the ad, which should take users to a landing page specific to their search query (linking to a generic homepage is not a good idea).

Use ad extensions >> There are a number of extensions available for your ad. Location extensions can be used to provide extra business details, call and message extensions enable guests to contact your business directly from your ad, site-link extensions can provide links to multiple different landing pages, call-out extensions offer you more space for text, and structured snippets let you create headers and lists within your ad.

Set up tracking >> Conversion tracking allows you to understand how people are interacting with your ad. You’ll want to set up tracking for your website, so you’ll know how many clicks are leading to a booking. This will require you to set up a conversion action in Google Ads and then copy the tracking tag onto the page of your website associated with a completed conversion (i.e. a ‘Thank you for booking’ page).

Set up billing >> Before you can start advertising, you’ll need to set up billing. Automatic billing will be taken every 30 days, or when you reach your designated budget. You may also make manual payments as desired.

Google Ads is a powerful service with the potential to offer huge ROI—if you’re using it appropriately. Make sure you’re always analyzing the performance of campaigns and adjusting them as necessary. Good luck!