Repackaging Hotel Packages

Every hotelier ponders how to increase revenue. Whether you’re looking to increase midweek bookings, improve off season reservations, increase your ADR, or avoid offering discounts, the advice you’ll find time and again is: Create Value-Added Packages! So, we thought we’d take the time to explore how to make your hotel’s packages more compelling. Price is one aspect to think about, but it’s not the most important. Potential guests seek value and experience. Most packages include lodging and an activity, but because packages seem to be the answer to the numerous ways hotels seek new and returning clientele, there are many on offer, which means, to the potential customer, they start to all look the same. So, here are some reimagined packages to help spark your creativity.

Make Use of Your Locale

You are the only hotel in your particular space. What makes your location unique? Consider offering an upgrade to your mountain or cityscape view when someone books three or more nights. Who are your neighbours? Collaborate with the restaurant at a winery next door to create a package for an evening of wine and food where they can walk back to your inn via a private lantern lit path, or consider pairing with a local bakery for a morning delivery of fresh croissants. What amenities do you have onsite? Perhaps the chef at your restaurant has started to create buzz or a bartender’s cocktails bring in locals. Don’t just package free appetizers or cocktails with a room, but tell the story of why a potential guest should experience them.

Your city, town, and/or community is also unique. Exploit that. What businesses, services, and experiences are unique to your community? Is there a music venue or comedy club that’s gaining popularity? A so-called restaurant that is rumored to have the best fried chicken? Rotis? Ramen? Poke? Hot dogs? One of the first things a savvy guest will do is ask the hotel staff where to eat and what to see in the city; they’re looking for the inside scoop – the coveted personalized experience – so discuss this with your staff and approach up-and-coming businesses for mutually beneficial collaborations. Packages that highlight local individuality not only offer a unique experience to guests, they also demonstrate that you know and are connected with what’s going on in your community, which is another attractive trait that guests seek.

Also, consider including (and tell potential guests that room rates include) shampoos, soaps, and lotions from a local producer. These can be marketed as features that add value in the eyes of potential customers. You may also want to consider selling these products in your lobby to further boost revenue.

The Wellness Package

The wellness package has been in vogue for many years if not decades, and they continue to be popular. Friends, couples, and solo travelers still enjoy weekend spa getaways or week-long yoga retreats. Whether you’re a larger hotel with amenities onsite or a smaller boutique inn who collaborates with a local yoga studio or spa, it’s also important to highlight the relaxation that your rooms provide through views, beautiful décor, comfort provided by a particular brand of linen and (again) wellness extras like local organic toiletries. These add-ons increase value while augmenting the package you’re offering and the brand you’re portraying.

You may also want to expand your idea of wellness. Increasingly, health and wellness is being associated with what has traditionally been called adventure. Consider including biking, kayaking, or walking tours in your wellness packages. Offer surfing or archery lessons, wall climbing or hiking. Wellness and an active lifestyle go hand in hand, and by combining and marketing activities in unique ways, you can set your hotel’s packages apart.

The Adventure Package

Expand your idea of adventure packages as well. There continues to be a market for getaways that include activities like zip-lining, white water rafting, air balloon rides, and whale watching, but the number of experiences that can now be marketed as “adventures” has grown. Urban adventurers are often looking for culinary escapades. Collaborate with restaurants, markets, food festivals, wineries, breweries, and distilleries to package and promote the culinary expertise of your area.

There’s also an increasing trend towards traveling to gain new skills. Travelers want to learn to cook local delicacies, to make wine, chocolate, and craft beer. Wood-working, photography, cheese-making, gardening, and sustainable farming are other skills that people seek.

Renovation vacations have also gained popularity. The Chateau de Gudanes in southern France offers packages with a variety of charming options, including morning yoga, guided walks to local villages, lessons on cooking traditional French food, horseback riding, walking through the woods to pick flowers, and an opportunity to help with renovations and contribute to the restoration of this historic property. They expertly craft a unique adventure for their guests by making use of their locale, collaborating with their community, and giving guests the opportunity to gain new skills.

The Seasonal Package: Think Winter!

In the past, winter travelers have sought sun and surf or slopes and skis. Not anymore. Winter travel to northern destinations has dramatically increased. Quebec’s Winter Carnival, China’s Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, Norway’s Ice Music Festival, and Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival have all become major attractions. But even if your northern hotel is not in one of these high-profile locations, you can look for opportunities to create winter traveling packages that include experiences like snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding. You may want to think about promoting your area’s ice sculpture competition, pop-up chef event, or ice wine festival to guests who live within a couple hundred miles. The seclusion and silence of the off season can also be attractive to some travelers who are looking for an individual and authentic experience away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist season.

Other Tips

Consider the Modern Traveler. Single parents travel with their children; grandparents travel with the grandkids; and people travel alone. Keep these groups in mind when you’re building and marketing your hotel’s packages. With these groups of travelers on the increase, packages should include options that include and attract them.

Allow Personalized Packages. Individual experience is a top priority for many travelers, so where possible, let your guests choose the components of their packages.

Think Ahead. Don’t wait until the beginning of December to think about what you’ll plan to do to attract guests over the holidays. Plan and promote early, but not too early. Find the appropriate balance between having enough time to create thoughtful packages and being close enough to the date that you can generate excitement.

Offer Exclusive Packages. You may want to consider approaching a bridal or lifestyle magazine or website to promote an exclusive offer to their subscribers. This can be especially effective for new or experimental packages because you can easily track results that will help you build future packages.

Your ability to create and promote unique packages will directly contribute to your hotel’s bottom line. By making use of your unique location, forming good connections within your city or community, and transforming traditional package genres, you can offer the personalized travel that guests seek when they search for new destinations and hotels to explore.

What an All-in-One PMS Means for Lodgings that offer Activities

Lodgings that offer scheduled activities operate with an added layer of complexity; inventory, bookings, invoicing and reporting must be managed and tracked for both sides of the business. Running separate systems, however, is time consuming and prone to error as a result of manually cross-checking data. Managing a stay-and play business with disconnected systems is detrimental to efficiency, revenue and the customer experience.

Instead, a single, integrated solution that simplifies and aligns management of both accommodation and activities saves time, improves customer service and increases revenue. A complete property management system (PMS) for lodging-and-activity operators provides a single place to store, manage and access all data for both sides of the business.

Whether your property offers sightseeing tours, guided trail rides, fishing trips, or any kind of scheduled, bookable activity, look for a PMS that includes:

  • Integrated Room and Activity Bookings

An efficient booking process is essential as online and mobile bookings become ever more mainstream. A reservation system for stay-and-play businesses that package their services should offer the ability to book accommodation and activities together, within the same booking process, both online and offline. Combining room and activity bookings is convenient for customers, promotes upsells, and makes managing customer folios easy.

  • Flexible Rate Management

A PMS for lodgings with activities must offer flexible rate and package management to accommodate stay-and-play packages. This includes the ability to manage pre-built packages, add-ons, multiple pricing levels, seasonal rates, reseller commissions, quick overrides, and to track package components to appropriate accounts.

  • Complete Invoicing

Managing the check-out process with separate systems can be complicated and can result in lost revenue when activities are inadvertently left off a customer’s bill. A PMS with integrated activity management ensures accurate billing for a smooth check-out process. Confusion and billing discrepancies are eliminated when accommodation and activity charges are automatically and conveniently included on the same customer invoice.

  • Activity Calendar and Dispatch Reports

A PMS for lodging-and-activity operators should provide quick access to dispatch reports and an activity calendar for any given dates, allowing reservation clerks and activity operators to easily keep track of activity bookings.

  • Guest Email Communications

After making a booking (whether for accommodation or a tour or both) most customers appreciate receiving an email that confirms the details of their booking. Modern reservation systems include customizable email templates that make this process easier — and even completely automated. A PMS with integrated activity bookings allows operators to automatically generate confirmation emails that include both room and activity booking details as appropriate.

  • Comprehensive Reporting

The benefit of an all-in-one PMS for lodging-and-activity operators is also obvious when it comes to reporting. Integrating data from both sides of the business in a single system eliminates the need for manual cross-checking and makes running reports much faster and easier. Booking, sales and financial reports that allow operators to track room and activity revenue and analyse business performance can be generated instantly at the click of a button.

  • Mobile Access

Lodging-and-activity providers are busy people and hate being tied to the front desk, especially when there are rivers to kayak and trails to ride. While taking an iPad white-water rafting is probably not a good idea, many tour operators appreciate the convenience of a PMS that offers mobile accessibility. Checking dispatch reports and payments owing, identifying overnight guests, and viewing bookings for the next scheduled tour are some tasks activity operators like to have access to while on the go.

 

Integrating both sides of a stay-and-play business with an all-in-one property management system increases day-to-day efficiency by reducing administrative workload, gives a clear, easily accessible picture of business performance, and increases revenue by helping operators improve the guest experience.

If you are spending too much time going back and forth between disconnected systems, ask us about ActivityEngine integration with WebRezPro PMS.

Banff Sundance Lodge

Banff Trail Riders offers horseback riding and trail rides in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. Overnight trips include accommodation in the Banff Sundance Lodge, the Halfway Lodge and campsites. Banff Trail Riders has just started using WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their horseback riding and lodging packages. You can see WebRezPro in action by visiting their website!

[button color=”#ffffff” background=”#ff8000″ size=”medium” target=”_blank” src=”http://www.horseback.com/”]Visit Website[/button]

Bring On Group Bookings!

As the busy summer begins to wind down here in North America, lodging operators may be pondering ways to keep the momentum going. (Or perhaps you’re just breathing a sigh of relief!) Shoulder and low seasons present a challenge in terms of maintaining occupancy rates and, while you may appreciate a respite after the peak-season madness, most lodging operators would like to up the number of guests during the quieter months. With transient bookings on the decrease, now’s a good time to think about luring groups.

The economic downturn is behind us and group bookings are making a comeback. In the business world, the way people are working is changing; virtual offices are increasingly common with more and more individuals working remotely and this is creating a need for on-demand meeting spaces. According to LiquidSpace, an online marketplace for finding and booking meeting rooms, hotels are the fastest-growing on-demand office space in the U.S.. If your property has some great work areas, even local customers can help boost revenue through hourly bookings.

In this post, though, we’re thinking beyond hourly bookings and aiming for occupied guestrooms, preferably bunches of them in a single booking. Let’s run with this idea of hotels as on-demand office space — the next step is to get your business guests to stay a while. Marketing your property as event space will appeal not only to companies running seminars, conferences and team-building weekends but also to event planners and individuals organizing personal gatherings like weddings and reunions.

Even if your property doesn’t have event-friendly facilities like conference space, catering services or an on-site restaurant, you can still attract groups with special rates and packages. Think about running special group rates during a major local event or offering packages that include activities — this type of value-added pricing attracts friends and families traveling as a group. You could even offer special group rates catering to guest overflow from a nearby hotel during a large conference.

Worth the Effort

Obviously, the great thing about any kind of group is that they fill multiple rooms in one pop. Even still, the challenges of managing group bookings can be a put-off. The group booking process is more complicated and takes more time than the booking process for individuals. There are contracts, room preferences, room blocks, booking and cancellation cut-offs, billing terms, incidental charges, and the complexities of group check-out to worry about. If your property management system (PMS) isn’t up to the task, group bookings can be a real headache.

But the fact still remains: groups guarantee numerous occupied room nights, which, during the off season, is a blessing and well worth the extra effort. And with the right PMS, managing groups can even be close to effortless.

Group Bookings & Your PMS

Some PMS are more group-friendly than others. A PMS like WebRezPro is designed with group bookings in mind and offers a convenient way to manage all reservations for a group in one spot.

WebRezPro’s Group Folios feature allows you to easily manage all aspects of a group’s stay, from proposal to individual reservations to check-out. Setting up a group’s reserved room allocation and special rates, adding individual reservations, and processing deposits and payments can all be done directly through the group’s folio.

With WebRezPro’s group folios you can:

>> Record all information needed to determine availability and contract details (contact details, check-in and check-out dates, room requirements, booking and cancellation cut-offs, etc.).

>> Email quotes and confirmations.

>> Set up reserved room allocations and special rates.

>> Add notes and set alarms.

>> Add and manage individual reservations within the group.

>> Assign an access code to the group to let them book online through the WebRezPro booking engine.

>> Set the group folio to automatically create separate guest profiles for each reservation.

>> Apply deposits.

>> Add incidental charges (like breakfast or spa treatments) to the master account or individual reservations.

>> Manage room changes and early and late check-ins/check-outs.

>> Apply payments to the group or as separate payments to individual reservations.

With all information conveniently organized into a single folio, WebRezPro’s group folios help prevent even the smallest details from slipping through the cracks, ensuring all administrative processes are completed on time and that each and every guest within the group receives your best customer care.

And group folios really do take the stress out of group check-outs. Whether one person is paying for the lot or the bill is being split among the individual guests, the group folio keeps clear track of who has paid for what and what remains to be paid for.

A PMS that offers effective management of group bookings is integral to the success of hosting groups at your property and will reflect directly on your guest service and revenue.

Bring ‘Em On!

So, now that you’re ready to welcome groups to your property, how do you get them in through the door? Here are some simple ways to get the word out:

>> Advertise group specials on your website and social media channels.

>> If you offer event hosting for business seminars, weddings or reunions, etc., make sure you include information about those services on your website.

>> Use your email marketing campaigns to inform subscribers about group specials and event hosting services.

Here’s to a lucrative low season!