The adage of knowledge being the key to success holds true even – or especially – for increasing your number of midweek bookings. Midweek travelers are likely to be retired or traveling for business; they could hold unconventional jobs (freelancers or hotel and restaurant staff, like yourself) whose ‘weekends’ occur midweek, or they could just be on the lookout for an enticing deal. In other words, they’re eclectic with potentially niche desires and expectations for a midweek stay. But with a little innovative thinking, you can find strategies to appeal to the guests you most want to attract. How?
Create and Promote Distinct Value-Added Packages
Significantly reduced room rates often do not entice enough bookings to offset the reduced revenue, and in the end, they set the wrong expectations and seriously erode your price integrity. As an alternative, use your imagination and resources to combine your hotel’s services into an appealing package. What does your hotel do best? Do you have a spa? Modern gym? Renowned restaurant? Know your hotel’s strengths, understand who your midweek guests are, and build packages that add value and appeal to individual tastes.
Build Community Relationships and Collaborate with Local Businesses
Knowing your community is important for all hotels, but it’s especially vital for smaller inns and B&Bs and anyone who has built their brand on delivering a personalized experience. Many travellers are looking to immerse themselves in cultures and communities, so it’s important to know not only the local tourist attractions (bus tours, wine tastings, amusement parks, zoos) but also to have a finger on the pulse of what events bring out the locals. Is there a musician who is beginning to gain attention? Or a university sporting team that’s set to beat a record? Travellers in their 50s and 60s are particularly intrigued by cultural festivals, art shows, and theatre. Those who are in the service industry might be intrigued by a midweek chef pop-up at a local restaurant. Collaborate with other businesses to build and promote mutually beneficial packages that encourage guests to travel midweek or to extend their weekend stay.
Reach out to businesses, like…
Larger restaurants. This is particularly important in the early fall (or even earlier) when restaurants start to book and plan Christmas parties. It’s in their interest and yours – and it offers flexibility to potential clients – to collaborate on an option for midweek celebrations that include accommodations. It’s becoming more common for businesses to offer post-party hotels to their staff, and large organizations with offices across the country are increasingly flying their staff to a central location for a once-a-year party to build staff relationships and boost morale. You may be the right place at the right time. Plus, don’t forget, that businesses that are particularly busy over the holiday season often hold early (November) or late (into January) Christmas parties, so expand your thinking to include not only midweek but off-season parties.
Real Estate Agents. Many people travel to cities and towns to view a new house or office building. Find out which agents are most likely to bring in out-of-town clients and discuss collaborations, special rates, and the potential for mutually beneficial advertising.
Building Contractors, especially those who bring in a large portion of their work force for large scale projects. These contracts are lucrative, but they require you to be proactive. Speak to contractors about the incentives, long term rates, and other services you offer, like earlier breakfasts and packed lunches.
Universities and other companies that interview candidates from out of town. Not only can you offer a hassle free and comfortable place to stay during what’s undoubtedly an anxious time for the interviewee, you have the opportunity to show them the community they will potentially be joining through providing the right package promotion.
Train and Encourage Employees to Know and Discuss Local Events
While related to community building and collaboration, it’s important enough to mention separately. Your staff is the voice of your hotel; they talk to guests every day, so educate your staff on events and encourage them to contribute their own knowledge of the community. A chat about a midweek author’s visit may inspire an impromptu extended stay, or a conversation about an upcoming concert may inspire a return visit.
Update Guest Profiles
This is especially important for repeat guests and those who are visiting from within a 250-mile radius. They are the ones most likely to be persuaded into a last-minute midweek getaway. Use your technology. The guest data provided by your PMS (property management system) can help you build your promotions based on demographics and past behavior. It can show a guest’s preferred rate and the days of the week he or she is most likely to stay. An updated profile with interests (like a preference for a certain fitness class or love of a particular sports team) can help you build the right packages and then promote them to the right people at the right time. To add an even more personal touch, it would be a particularly nice gesture if a guest shows interest in an upcoming festival, to make note and send them an email as a reminder.
Develop Email Lists
This is still an effective way to communicate with repeat and potential guests. Again, though, know your clientele and word your promotions accordingly. Some guests will be tempted by 2-for-1 appetizers or free kids’ meals while others will prefer a complementary tasting of local wines.
Keep on Top of your Social Media
It’s important and repetition is key, especially on Twitter because posts have a short life span. Be aware of the different advantages of each medium. Facebook can target a specific demographic or interest group, whereas Instagram should be used to promote the most visual aspects of your hotel experience. Dynamic social media accounts convey a dynamic hotel.
Promote Midweek and Off-season Weddings
With more people working flexible hours and unconventional jobs, midweek weddings are becoming increasingly popular, especially for second marriages, older couples, and those who are looking for a subtler, more intimate celebration. Learn to plan and execute midweek weddings well, and then why not promote them by holding a Midweek Wedding Fair midweek?
Midweek travellers are savvy. They’ve either thrown away the rule book on what a ‘getaway’ should be or they’re a business traveller with accumulated generic hotel experiences. So get creative and be proactive. Know your brand and what kind of clientele you want to attract, utilize your hotel resources and staff to create personalized experiences, and learn about your community to propose inventive collaborations. Combining knowledge, imagination, and action is how to increase your midweek hotel bookings.
Choosing a property management system (PMS) is an important operational decision for hoteliers and innkeepers. These days there’s a wealth of choices when it comes to hospitality management software (which doesn’t make the decision any easier!), so we’ve put together a handy checklist of essential features to look for and other important considerations (Part 2 of this post coming soon) to help you pick the right PMS for your property.
You’re likely looking for a system that streamlines operations by automating processes and consolidating front- and back-office data, and you are certainly looking for a system to manage reservations, invoices, room inventory, guest check-in/-out, and to help manage the overall guest experience. In respect to these core functionalities, let’s take a closer look at what a modern PMS should offer…
Visual Availability Calendar (Tape Chart)
Most modern PMS feature a graphical tape chart, which provides an overview of real-time reservations, availability and occupancy at a glance. A visual calendar helps you to better see and analyze availability, allowing you to optimize occupancy by moving reservations to different rooms, for example. Look for a calendar with a clear layout that makes sense for your property and provides necessary information at a glance, like best available rates, room status, close-outs, color-coded reservation status, etc. An interactive calendar that allows you to move and manage reservations directly on the calendar is ideal.
In the quest to personalize the guest experience, guest data is your most powerful resource. Therefore, guest profiles are an essential feature of a modern PMS — and the more comprehensive, the better. Beyond guest contact information (which is very important), look for guest profile functionality that automatically records stay history and allows you to record comments or notes about the guest, such as allergies and preferences. Comprehensive guest profiles enable the system to recognize returning guests and help lodging operators personalize future stays to increase guest satisfaction and loyalty.
Handy guest folio features include reservation alarms and pop-up reminders to alert staff of any special guest requests, VIP flagging to help staff identify particularly valued reservations, and rewards program functionality.
Booking Confirmations and Automated Guest Emails
Following up with guests manually to confirm reservations — and sending pre-arrival information and post-stay thank-you emails — takes a lot of time. A modern PMS should offer the ability to send confirmation, pre- and post-stay emails automatically, via customizable email templates triggered by parameters such as arrival/departure dates and room and rate codes. This ensures that all guest communications are delivered in a timely and professional manner.
Flexible Rate and Package Management
Look for a PMS that provides the level of flexibility you need when it comes to setting rates and creating and selling packages and discounts. Flexible rate management functionality will allow you to set up a rack or best available rate from which discount and package rates can be based, as well as completely independent rate types. Make sure you can easily change rates at any time, attach promotional codes and corporate accounts to special rates, and track package components to different revenue accounts.
Whether you want to add a temporary minimum LOS to a rate, close rates or rooms to online bookings, or close out a room for maintenance, your PMS should offer easy-to-use availability override tools for instant updates. Quick override functionality allows lodging operators to respond to and take advantage of fluctuations in demand, in the moment, to maximize revenue.
Look for a PMS that fits your property’s reporting needs. From sales reports to occupancy rates, revenue reports to night audit, a modern PMS should offer both standard and custom reporting functionality that allows you to track the right data for growing your business. Make sure reports are easily and quickly generated and exported, and if your property tracks recurring customized reports, look for a custom report templates feature that saves report parameters.
Direct Online Bookings
Because most travelers today prefer to book accommodation online, and direct commission-free bookings are healthiest for a property’s bottom line, an online booking engine is a key feature to look for in a new PMS.
Choose a PMS that offers a commission-free, mobile-friendly online booking engine that can be customized to fit the look and feel of your website. Any online booking engine included with a PMS should be fully integrated with the PMS for live rates and availability. Direct online bookings are automatically sent to the PMS and can be accepted 24/7. Make sure your online booking engine can sell special rates and packages too.
Integrated Channel Management
Updating your GDS and/or OTA inventory and rates manually is time-consuming and inefficient, and can lead to pricing errors and double bookings. If your property sells rooms through third-party channels, choose a PMS that offers two-way integration with those channels or a channel manager. Integrated channel management allows you to manage your online inventory directly through your PMS, automatically synchronizing rates and availability across all channels to save you time, maximize revenue and greatly reduce the chance of overbooking.
If your property regularly accepts group bookings, you can save a lot of headaches by choosing a PMS that offers a convenient group folios feature. Group folios provide one place from which to track and manage all reservations within a group, as well as reserved allocations, group check-in/out, and invoicing and payments.
From parking and airport transfers to business amenities and wine and chocolates, selling additional services and products is great way to increase total revenue and is an important part of a property’s revenue management strategy. A good PMS will support ancillary sales through features that make managing and tracking sales of additional products and services easy.
Look for a product and services feature that allows you to enter additional services into the system, attach them to reservations and separate point-of-sale invoices, and track ancillary sales. Make sure you can create packages that include ancillary components, and that customers can add extras to their booking during the online booking process. A PMS that offers direct, two-way integration with your POS (point-of-sale) system is important for automating the process of posting restaurant charges to guest folios.
Properties of all sizes benefit from an integrated housekeeping report that keeps track of room status in real time, automatically marking rooms that require cleaning and those that are expecting new guests, etc. The housekeeping report should allow you to assign housekeepers to certain rooms (organize the report by housekeeping sections), and should allow housekeepers to enter guest requests or housekeeping notes for each room.
Look for a PMS that offers mobile housekeeping reports so that cleaning staff can access and update their housekeeping schedules via their tablet or smartphone as they work, providing front desk staff with up-to-the-minute knowledge of which rooms are ready for arriving guests.
Integrating your PMS with your other hotel systems (POS system, payment gateway, revenue management software, channel manager, etc.) is key to maximizing operational efficiency. For example, integrating your payment gateway with your PMS allows credit card payments to be processed directly through the PMS. By automating cross-system processes you can greatly reduce your manual administrative workload and improve data accuracy.
Choose a well-connected PMS that offers the ability to integrate with your other hotel systems.
A mobile-friendly PMS offers numerous practical advantages and can help put a property ahead of the competition. From paperless check-in with electronic signature capture to on-the-go access to reports and guest profile and reservation data, a mobile-friendly PMS frees hotel staff from the constraints of the front desk, empowering staff to provide guests with more efficient, personalized service, and allowing managers to run their property from anywhere. Look for a PMS that is easy to use on your mobile device to maximize productivity and take guest service to the next level.
Staying current in an increasingly technological and competitive industry is crucial to a property’s success. At the core of your property’s operations, your PMS needs to provide the tools that will not only make your work day easier, but will keep your property ahead of the game. Stay tuned for What to Look for in a PMS Today: Part 2, which will look at other important considerations, from upgrades to security measures to support.
Designed to automate processes, cloud property management systems (PMS) are key to streamlining daily operations and customer service that results in satisfied guests and repeat business. Most lodging operators understand how the level of efficiency and personalized service facilitated by a cloud PMS helps turn first-time guests into loyal customers — but it’s also important to understand how a cloud PMS helps bring those first-timers through your door.
Approximately 80% of travelers turn to the Internet when planning their trips, visiting 38 sites on average before booking, so it’s crucial for hotels to be visible online where potential guests are looking.
When it comes to expanding and managing online distribution, cloud PMS give lodging operators an advantage through direct integration with channel managers or OTA partners. Direct connectivity between the PMS and OTA channels or a channel manager not only puts a property in front of travelers all over the world, but also ensures that rates and availability are up to date across all channels to maximize occupancy and reduce overbookings.
Integrated distribution is key to expanding the visibility and accessibility of your property — and saves lodging operators a lot of time and hassle managing inventory and reservations.
In today’s online-oriented world, hotels need to be accessible for booking wherever their customers are. In addition to putting a property’s live rates and availability in front of travel consumers around the world through integrated distribution channels, cloud PMS also provide direct online booking functionality through a property’s own website.
According to Google survey, 52% of travelers will visit a hotel’s website after seeing them on an OTA, so offering direct online bookings is key to increasing conversions. The easier your direct online booking engine is to use, the higher your conversion rate will be. Features like photo slideshows and upselling/cross-selling options will help your property stand out to prospective guests.
Lodging operators should look for a cloud PMS that offers a mobile-friendly direct online booking engine since more than half of travelers who book travel online now do so via a mobile device.
Cloud PMS play a fundamental role in generating demand through rate and revenue management and by helping to identify target audiences for marketing purposes.
Rate and Revenue Management:
Price is a major influence on many travelers, so attracting new customers depends a lot on setting rates competitively. Cloud property management systems include flexible rate management features (like quick overrides, rate reports, day-of-week pricing and packages) that allow properties to create and sell the right rates and packages at the right time to the right customers. When integrated with an automated revenue management system, cloud PMS help power dynamic pricing strategies based not only on a property’s historical pricing and occupancy data, but also on market and competitor analysis.
Successful marketing efforts rely on PMS data — particularly guest profile data. Guest data helps properties identify their most profitable customer segments and design more effective marketing strategies targeted at lookalike audiences. Cloud PMS make it easy for lodging operators to access and make sense of the data that informs pricing and package setup, advertising campaigns and content marketing efforts that successfully attract new customers.
Cloud PMS are well known for the part they play in building customer loyalty by taking operational efficiency and guest service to the next level. But, according to many of our customers, even more beneficial is the integral role cloud PMS play in acquiring new customers through automated distribution, direct online bookings and data transparency. To learn more about how a cloud PMS can help your property win customers, drop us a line.
Last week WebRezPro attended the InnSpire Conference & Trade Show in Monterey, California. It was our first time exhibiting at this event, and we had a blast!
The annual CABBI (California Association of Boutique & Breakfast Inns) conference and trade show event was held downtown at the Monterey Marriott, overlooking the bay. It started with an opening reception on Sunday evening, giving attendees a chance to wander the trade show and meet some vendors while enjoying some drinks and nibbles.
Here’s a pic of Carrie, one of our account executives, all set up and ready to meet some inspiring innkeepers!
Over the next two days at the trade show, we were kept busy at the booth, chatting with many passionate and forward-thinking innkeepers interested in improving operations with modern technology. A lot of people wanted to know more about WebRezPro’s mobile accessibility and functionality, showing a growing desire among operators of small lodgings to utilize property management software on the go to take operational efficiency and guest service to the next level.
We also had the pleasure of catching up with some of our existing California clients and meeting some friendly faces from a few of our interface partners, including Stash Hotel Rewards, SiteMinder, Booking.com and myallocator.
While InnSpire, with approximately 150 attendees, is one of the smaller shows we have attended, we thought the event was very well done and brought together a lot of interested (and interesting!) people who are committed to what they do. Talking with them gave us further insight into what really matters to innkeepers today.
If you stopped by the WebRezPro booth at InnSpire 2016, don’t hesitate to get in touch with any further questions you may have about WebRezPro — we would love to hear from you!