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.

A Hotelier’s Guide to Recruiting, Hiring and Retaining Employees

Your employees are the backbone of your business. That’s true in many industries, but the hospitality industry in particular. They’re the ones that facilitate bookings, welcome guests to your property, ensure their stays are comfortable, and make their time at your hotel a memorable one. So it’s imperative you find (and hold on to) quality staff members.

Here’s a quick guide to help you find the right people, bring them on board, and make sure they stay:

Recruiting

Marketing >> Recruiting talent is a lot like making bookings. You need to get your brand out there and seen by the people you’re hoping to connect with.  And much like marketing collateral, it needs to stand out. Job descriptions should be specific and comprehensive (so you get relevant applications tailored to the posted position) and have a little flair (to give applicants a taste of your company culture). In addition to listing on places like LinkedIn and other job boards, be sure to post on social media platforms as well—if you’re working hard to curate exciting social media feeds, they’ll serve as an excellent space for recruiting new talent.

Referral programs >> Nobody knows your property like your employees. They’re experts at understanding if someone would be a good fit for your business. Consider implementing a referral program that rewards employees for bringing in new hires. They’ll have already done the vetting for you and likely ensured the candidate understands the details of the job. Referred hires eliminate a lot of guesswork for both parties.

Applications >> Millennials make up a vast majority of new hires today. And their expectations are different than other generations. If you want them to apply, it needs to be possible to complete the application process entirely from a mobile device.

Hiring

What to look for >> Traditionally, hiring practices placed a significant emphasis on experience. While experience can be valuable, it’s not necessarily the most important thing—especially in the hospitality industry. Providing excellent customer service is all about personality and competency. Look for people who are personable, confident decision-makers, team-players,and display a growth mindset. You can teach the details of the job. You can’t teach attitude.

Interviewing >> To better identify the characteristics you’re looking for in an employee, consider alternative interviewing styles. A formal Q&A sit-down isn’t the best way to see how someone handles situations or interacts with other people. Instead, you might use assessment activities (individually or in a group-interview setting) to see their communication and problem-solving skills in action.

Retaining

Employee turnover is a big problem in the hospitality industry. American hotels see, on average, a 73% turnover rate each year. That’s a big deal. Not only is it costly and time-consuming to continually hire and onboard new staff, but guest satisfaction is also likely to suffer when your property is understaffed and regularly training new people. So it’s essential you make employee retention a priority.

Professional development >> Employees are more likely to show loyalty to a company they feel they have a future with. Show them you’re invested in their professional development by discussing their goals within the company and mapping out what they need to learn and do to get there. Provide opportunities for staff to undergo ongoing training (both internally and externally), so they don’t get complacent. If an employee feels they don’t have room for growth, they’ll likely see employment at your property as a short-term situation.

Employee benefits >> Happy employees are loyal employees. So, make sure you’re treating them well and showing you care. In addition to things like vacation days and benefits packages, you can offer discounted meals at your restaurant, flexibility in scheduling, and other perks that align with your company culture.

Team culture >> It’s important to make your staff feel like an essential part of the business. Foster a team culture at your property by sharing and creating company goals. Ask for input and then act on it. When staff members feel a sense of ownership at work, they’re more likely to remain loyal to the business and go above and beyond in their roles.

A hotel can’t be successful without hardworking and committed employees. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to recruit,hire, and retain the talent you need to be the best lodging operation you can be.

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

Jungle Keva Tulum

Located in beautiful Tulum, MexicoJungle Keva Tulum is a boutique property that offers five stunning lodges that feature an expansive wall of glass, giving you the sense that you are sleeping in the majestic outdoors. All lodges have a private terrace with a hammock and property amenities include WiFi, daily yoga classes, complimentary breakfast and a swimming pool. Jungle Keva Tulum 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!

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!

Congrats to 7 WebRezPro Clients Voted Best by Condé Nast Traveler Readers!

The results of the 2018 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards rolled in earlier this month and we are thrilled to see seven WebRezPro clients included on the list! Condé Nast Traveler is an esteemed luxury and lifestyle travel publication and this year 429,000 of its discerning readers took part in ascertaining the best travel experiences in the world.

We would like to congratulate our clients mentioned below on their inclusion on this respected list—and on being recognized for their commitment to the guest experience. These remarkable properties all demonstrate a calibre of hospitality that goes above and beyond.

The Pitcher Inn – #6, Top Hotels in New England

The Pitcher Inn in Warren, Vermont is an idyllic destination for a romantic getaway. Accommodating guests in two beautifully appointed two-bedroom suites in the “barn” and nine delightful guest rooms in the main house, this magical, historical property also inspires guests to relax and indulge with an exceptional Vermont à la carte farm-to-table dining experience.

Mill House Inn – #19, Top Hotels in New York State and The Mid Atlantic

Located in the heart of the historic village of East Hampton, New York, the Mill House Inn makes guests feel at home in 10 beautiful rooms and suites, each with its own décor and personality. This small luxury bed and breakfast is run by a team of people who are passionate about hospitality and go the extra mile to make each guest’s stay unforgettable. According to the reviews, Carolyn’s breakfasts are unforgettable too.

Dunton Hot Springs – #7, Top Resorts in Colorado

Nestled in a stunning alpine valley in the Colorado Rockies, Dunton Hot Springs is an extraordinary, lovingly restored 19th-Century ghost town that truly transports guests to another time and place. Featuring luxuriously appointed hand-hewn log cabins, natural hot springs, an inviting saloon serving delicious food, stunning mountain trails and relaxing massages, this enchanting old mining town offers a life-enriching experience.

Secret Bay – #4, Top Resorts in the Caribbean Islands

A part of the nature that surrounds it, Secret Bay comprises six private, sustainably built villas tucked within a clifftop rainforest, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. This eco-luxury resort is located on the unspoiled island of Dominica and is dedicated to the protection of the stunning environment that surrounds it—and to the comfort and experiences of its guests. Offering five-star service (including fine dining and spa services that can be enjoyed in-villa), this special hideaway immerses guests in the surrounding natural paradise through a range of activities, from yoga to snorkeling.

Young Island Resort – #31, Top Resorts in the Caribbean Islands

Young Island Resort invites guests to enjoy true island life on a private Caribbean island just a short ferry ride from St. Vincent. The 29 airy, tropical-themed cottages each offer guests a private haven from which to enjoy this lush oasis, which is also a national wildlife reserve. Surrounded by turquoise water and views of the neighboring isles, guests can explore the island by land or sea, savour exquisite beachfront dining and indulge in a variety of spa treatments.

Kamalame Cay – #1, Top Resorts in the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Turks and Caicos

Just off the Andros Great Barrier Reef in the Bahamas, you’ll find Kamalame Cay—a private island resort set among tropical jungle, coconut palms and endless stretches of white-sand beach. This family-run retreat hosts guests in secluded, oceanfront villas, each individually decorated in chic island style and perfect for families and friends’ getaways. Guests at this slice of paradise can enjoy a range of ocean adventures, fine dining, an overwater spa and plenty of barefoot strolls along the beach.

The Cove – #14, Top Resorts in the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Turks and Caicos

The Cove is an intimate 57-room boutique resort set on the secluded shores of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Tucked in unspoiled, picturesque coves, surrounded by palm trees, The resort’s seaside cottages, villas and guesthouse rooms embrace guests in modern beach-house style, and put them within steps of white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, gourmet dining, relaxing spa treatments and a spectacular hilltop infinity pool. Oh, the views!

 

These extraordinary properties truly transcend the norm, going the extra mile and beyond to provide guests with unforgettable experiences. With the highest attention to detail, each and every guest is treated like a VIP.

WebRezPro PMS is proud to help these properties manage their operations and provide exceptional guest service. With features that include rich guest profiles, reservation alarms and pop-up reminders for staff, flexible package management tools, mobile functionality, and integrations with numerous other hotel systems, WebRezPro is committed to helping all of our clients exceed their guests’ expectations.