Author Archives: Mark Ellis

The Key Ingredients of a Powerful Channel Manager

The Key Ingredients of a Powerful Channel Manager

There are so many sources of potential business for modern hotels. From the humble hotel website to the myriad of online travel agencies (OTAs) and review websites, guests can, literally, appear from anywhere.

But how do you tame this vast online platform of bookings?

For new and experienced hoteliers alike, channel management can be something of a headache. That is, unless you have the right tool.

With that in mind, here are the five key ingredients of a powerful hotel channel manager.

1. Genuine two-way connections with OTAs

A channel manager isn’t much use if it only synchronizes your availability and rates one-way with OTAs.

If you have to manually input reservations into your PMS or spend hours each month uploading your rates and availability into a channel manager, it will cause more trouble than it’s worth.

Channel managers should be in constant contact with OTAs and your website (see point 4). This ensures every room price and level of room stock advertised online is correct.

2. No extra commission charges

Online travel agency commission bills are hard to swallow at the best of times. So why add to them with a channel manager that also charges per reservation?

Most channel managers are built directly into property management systems, but if you’re implementing one as an addition, find a system that doesn’t charge commission or booking fees. It’ll be far more cost-effective if you just pay a flat subscription or up-front fee.

3. Full control over rate and availability distribution

Without getting into the rate parity debate, there’s no denying the fact that, as the hotelier, you should have ultimate control over your availability and rate distribution online.

This is why the channel manager you choose should give you the ability to dictate the prices and availability each website receives. You may never decide to modify those settings, but what if you need to cut off the supply to a particular OTA or remove availability that’s reserved for a wedding reservation?

4. Integration with your website (that’s a channel, too!)

It’s easy to forget that your hotel’s own website is a booking channel, too.

With that in mind, your channel manager should treat it as such. That means it should sit alongside your OTA connections and be given the same level of customizability. It should also be given the same rate and availability distribution options as the rest.

5. Two-way link with your PMS

Just like those two-way OTA links, your PMS should have a constant, bidirectional link to the channel manager.

This means that as soon as availability changes in the PMS (i.e. due to a telephone booking), the net result of your room stock should be updated online – without manual intervention.

The same goes for reservations; they should enter your PMS’s booking chart without anyone having to lift a finger.

If your PMS has advanced revenue management features, those should also be compatible (as far as possible, depending on OTA capabilities) with your channel manager, enabling you to make swift changes to your rate strategy and see them reflected online.

The right channel manager will be key to your success

Modern channel managers of course do an awful lot more than the above, but this list represents the features you simply can’t do without if you want to attract as many guests as possible.

Are you ready to take advantage of the huge market that lies in wait for your hotel? Make sure you have the best channel manager and hotel PMS to hand, because they’re key to making a success of 2020.

___

InnQuest Software is a leading technology provider for the hospitality industry. For over 25 years, innQuest has combined hotelier experience with innovative technology. We deliver an all-in-one solution that empowers hotels to attract guests, drive customer loyalty, and increase profits. Our flagship property management software, roomMaster, helps manage over 5,500 properties across 100 countries. InnQuest develops scalable solutions ranging from a Hotel PMSCloud PMSChannel ManagerHotel CRM and helps properties enable guests to Book Direct. We believe that everyone deserves a great guest experience, whether they’re staying at a small B&B, a thousand-room resort, or anywhere in between.

Call us today at 1.813.288.4900, or email us at sales@innquest.com. We will be happy to walk you through innQuest’s solutions.

5 ways to raise guest engagement at your independent hotel

5 ways to raise guest engagement at your independent hotel

If you run an independent hotel, guest engagement is essential. You’ll want to build a relationship with your customers so that they remain loyal after their first visit. The advantage you have in running an independent hotel, is that you can truly provide some unique engagement that guests are unlikely to get with larger hotel chains. By engaging with your guests, you can get a better sense of what your guests want and in turn, prompt them to book with you again.

This is easier said than done, especially if you’re not a natural marketing whiz kid. And you need to strike the right balance between building your brand and letting your guests get on with their lives uninterrupted.

To help you out, here are five things we think will help you get the hang of engaging guests at your hotel, whether you’re starting from scratch or updating existing strategies.

1. Know your audience

It may be tempting to send out offers and deals to every single one of your previous guests who are still on your mailing list. Unfortunately, this approach is guaranteed to annoy some people. Each guest is different, which in turn should have you trying different approaches in engaging with guests during their stay.

Receiving marketing that isn’t relevant to their interests will create a bad impression of your hotel. Instead, it’s a good idea to drill down into the data, assess which customers will be a match for your various packages, offers and services, and target smaller segments to get the best results.

2. Make suggestions

Guests will feel that you understand them better if you give them a few ideas about activities and offers that are best suited to their lifestyles and desires.

Suggest local events which fall into their areas of interest when writing marketing mail-outs. Just be sure that these are relevant; it might not be appropriate to send a customer who visited alone on business an invitation to the next family fun day, for example.

3. Encourage feedback

Unless you take action to engage your guests after their first visit, they’ll probably forget about your hotel altogether. By simply requesting a quick review following their stay, you’ll stand the best chance to boost the likelihood of repeat business.

You can also try other tactics to earn future bookings. Why not email customers in the run-up to their birthday with a discount offer that they’ll recognise as an opportunity to treat themselves?

If you don’t follow up on the first visit, you’ll never establish lasting relationships with guests.

4. Avoid oversaturation

Remember the balancing act we mentioned earlier? Engagement isn’t about bombarding people with constant blog posts and emails or prodding them for interaction at every turn. It’s about working out the right time to strike and not taking advantage of their contact info too often.

Ultimately, it’s the little things that count. From the unique touches that make guests feel welcome the minute they arrive, to the help and support you provide throughout their stay and beyond, good customer service goes a lot further than an unwanted shower of emails.

5. Share what makes you special

Being honest about what sets your hotel apart from your competitors is the best way to get potential customers interested. And you shouldn’t be worried about being copied by rivals, as imitations rarely match up to the real thing.

You could use social media to give people a behind-the-scenes look at how you operate, from preparing food in the restaurant to choosing quirky accessories to create compelling room designs. Don’t be shy to experiment with new platforms to generate engagement.

These tips are just the ‘tip’ of the iceberg when it comes to guest engagement! So, get experimental and see what works for your independent hotel.

___

InnQuest Software is a leading technology provider for the hospitality industry. For over 25 years, innQuest has combined hotelier experience with innovative technology to deliver an all-in-one solution that empowers hotels to attract guests, drive customer loyalty, and increase profits. Our flagship property management softwareroomMaster, helps manage over 5,500 properties across 100 countries. InnQuest develops scalable solutions ranging from a Hotel PMSCloud PMSChannel ManagerHotel CRM and helps properties enable guests to Book Direct. We believe that everyone deserves a great guest experience, whether they’re staying at a small B&B, a thousand-room resort, or anywhere in between.

Call us today on +44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@innquestemea.com. We will be happy to walk you through innQuest’s solutions.

For US, please call +1 813 288 4900 or email sales@innquest.com.

How UK hoteliers can boost destination promotion to boost occupancy

How UK hoteliers can boost destination promotion to boost occupancy

Some hotels try hard to be unique so that guests are more likely to come knocking, but the biggest influence on booking numbers will often be location, location, location. Hence, destination promotion is crucial in having guests flock to your hotel.

The UK hospitality industry is currently in a period where reaching out to domestic travellers will be key to maintaining occupancy. There’s clearly an appetite for travel, even if it means staying within the UK, as bookings soared by 450% following the PM’s announcement that the industry can reopen this May. Therefore, boosting marketing efforts towards staycationers will be crucial to hotels navigating the storm.

While hotels in the country may not be hosting many guests from abroad for the foreseeable future, it doesn’t mean that all other marketing efforts are in vain; it just makes it important to emphasise that your hotel is the gateway to an amazing destination. Implementing some effort into destination promotion can help your hotel in a big way, as guests will be more inclined to flock to your hotel if you’ve made the effort into helping guests fill out their trip. Not only that, but if guests enjoy your suggestions, they’ll be more likely to become return guests. Incorporating this into a simple booking engine for your hotel also helps matters. By going the extra mile in helping guests learn more about your hotel’s area, they’ll feel more comfortable in staying at your hotel. So be sure to tout your hotel’s location!

Here are some ideas to help you promote your independent hotel based on the incredible attractions in the surrounding area.

Surf the social media wave!

While it might not be practical to hire a hotshot influencer to promote your hotel via social media, you can still get your guests involved to enhance your traction online.

One idea is to encourage customers to share snaps and videos captured during their stay using a unique hashtag to make them searchable and trend-worthy.

You could also incentivise mentions of your hotel’s social media accounts by offering discounts for guests who use Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to post pictures of local landmarks in which you’re tagged.

Secure local partnerships

Cross-promotional deals with other businesses in the area will always be mutually beneficial, so approach potential partners and suggest joining forces, (providing they’re not potential rivals, of course!).

For example, you could provide discounted access to nearby tourist hot spots to people who book a room at your hotel, which will increase occupancy rates and also send more visitors the way of the attraction itself.

Invest in unique content

Many independent hotels have already taken the step of amplifying their online marketing and increasing their influence by producing bespoke content.

This can be in the form of blogs, podcasts or videos, and tuned to highlight on-site facilities, while also drawing attention to the wonders of the region in which your hotel sits.

If your hotel is in a rural area, why not commission a video with drone footage of the countryside trails and gorgeous views that customers can experience?

Located within an urban sprawl? Be sure to pick up on the entertainment, leisure and dining options available nearby and write regular blogs that highlight the wonderful experiences they offer! Just make sure you always link it back to why visitors should use your hotel as a base for the night.

Promote events and activities

Even small-scale events taking place near your hotel or hosting your own virtual events will have some form of online buzz which you can latch onto in order to generate more traffic for your website.

You could simply get in touch with organisers and ask them for a press release to publish on your hotel’s website or go one step further and write a uniquely worded summary so that you can latch onto some of the search traffic for the event.

Wrapping up

Promoting your hotel as a gateway to an amazing destination is an incredibly effective tactic, but one which many independents overlook.

In an age of OTAs and web bookings, it’s easy for guests to compare every hotel in a specific area based on location and room price, while ignoring the countless steps you’ve taken to grab their attention via other means.

Proper management of destination promotion is one way to pique their interest and demonstrate that there’s far more to a stay at your hotel than the property itself.

___

InnQuest Software is a leading technology provider for the hospitality industry. For over 25 years, innQuest has combined hotelier experience with innovative technology to deliver an all-in-one solution that empowers hotels to attract guests, drive customer loyalty, and increase profits. Our flagship property management softwareroomMaster, helps manage over 5,500 properties across 100 countries. InnQuest develops scalable solutions ranging from a Hotel PMSCloud PMSChannel ManagerHotel CRM and helps properties enable guests to Book Direct. We believe that everyone deserves a great guest experience, whether they’re staying at a small B&B, a thousand-room resort, or anywhere in between.

Call us today on +44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@innquestemea.com. We will be happy to walk you through innQuest’s solutions.

For US, please call +1 813 288 4900 or email sales@innquest.com.

The 5 funniest things left in hotel rooms – and how you should deal with them

The 5 funniest things left in hotel rooms – and how you should deal with them

As the old saying goes, what happens in hotel rooms stays in hotel rooms…

Looking after countless guests over the years inevitably leaves hotel employees with some amusing stories over what they’ve encountered in their experiences. Inevitably there are days when all you can do is have a good laugh about it. It’s perfectly normal for a guest to perhaps leave an eyeglass case behind or perhaps a pair of shoes, but what’s one supposed to do when a guest leaves say, an animal or a strange letter behind? Well, we’re going to share some amusing stories addressing that along with some quick tips on how to proceed, other than chuckling of course.

With that in mind, here’s a few of the weird and wacky things guests have forgotten to take with them when checking out, as well as some tips on how independent hotels might cope when faced with a similar situation.

1. Enough potatoes to fill the bath

A few years ago, one guest at a Travelodge reportedly left a vast number of Jersey Royals… in the bath.

This is just one of the many odd objects guests have forgotten to take with them from this particular chain of bargain hotels, but surely one of the hardest to explain; who takes potatoes to a hotel?

If you end up with several hundred kilos of potatoes courtesy of an eccentric, carb-obsessed guest, at least you won’t run out of chips for the restaurant that evening…

2. A love letter to salad

Finding little notes or memos in a hotel room is perfectly normal and it’s been known for guests to accidentally leave their personal diaries behind.

What’s perhaps less normal is the notebook one hotel employee discovered, which was filled not with dates and reminders, but with an 80 page monologue on why salad is so delicious.

If you find a similarly bizarre food-based pamphlet (although, this is surely a one-off), we’d advise getting on the phone to a publisher ASAP, because you might just have a best-selling diet book on your hands.

3. Upside down furniture

This one’s funny in theory, but dealing with the reality might be a bit too much to take for many hoteliers.

A worker at a high end hotel reported that one guest had stuck pieces of furniture to the ceiling of their room, creating a complete inversion of how it would normally look.

An elaborate stag do prank or attempt at modern art? We’ll let you decide.

Ideally, in this situation, you’d take a deep breath to calm yourself, pull up the guest’s booking information on your property management system and give them a call – after taking plenty of photos for social media, obviously.

4. A small horse

Some hotels are happy to allow guests to bring pets with them, but this can have a few unforeseen consequences.

In 2015 a hotel in Scotland was visited by a Shetland pony, known as ‘Pudding’. Cute, yes, but a little unwieldily as a hotel guest.

Perhaps the best way to prepare for an animal event of this nature is to stock up on bales of hay, or when a guest arrives with any pet larger than a dog, just say “nay”. Sorry.

5. A fabric man (no, really)

Hotel guests often create a lot of obstacles for cleaning staff when they make a mess, but what if a customer took the time to construct a man-shaped avatar out of throw pillows, sheets, glasses and the TV remote control?

That’s exactly what happened at one hotel in Azerbaijan as a social media-savvy holidaymaker attempted to go viral with a new craze dubbed the ‘room service challenge’.

If this occurs at your hotel, you could politely ask the guest to stop, or better still, engage in some friendly competition by trying to one-up them each day with your own creations.

Wrapping up

In reality you’ll probably never want to discover an abandoned horse in one of your hotel rooms, or the furniture stuck to the ceiling. But, clearly, it happens.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found left in your hotel? Let us know in the comments section, below!

___ 

InnQuest Software is a leading technology provider for the hospitality industry. For over 25 years, innQuest has combined hotelier experience with innovative technology to deliver an all-in-one solution that empowers hotels to attract guests, drive customer loyalty, and increase profits. Our flagship property management software, roomMaster, helps manage over 5,500 properties across 100 countries. InnQuest develops scalable solutions ranging from a Hotel PMSCloud PMSChannel ManagerHotel CRM and helps properties enable guests to Book Direct. We believe that everyone deserves a great guest experience, whether they’re staying at a small B&B, a thousand-room resort, or anywhere in between. 

Call us today on +44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@innquestemea.com. We will be happy to walk you through innQuest’s solutions. 

For US, please call +1 813 288 4900 or email sales@innquest.com.

How to turn your hotel into a specialist accommodation provider

How to turn your hotel into a specialist accommodation provider

If you’re sniggering at the back having read the title of this blog post, we should perhaps point out that by ‘specialist accommodation provider’, we’re not referring to the practice of offering hotel rooms by the hour.

However, the hoteliers promoting the use of their properties for such erm… endeavours… may well have a point.

Bear with us.

The modern hotel sector is driven by the desire to create unforgettable guest experiences, and property owners are finding ever more inventive ways to do so.

The key here is to create a hotel stay and experience that is memorable for the right reasons and inspiring enough to prompt guests to tell their friends. This can be achieved by focusing on any of following elements:

-décor;

-food and/or drink;

-technology comforts;

-warmth of communications;

-on-site activities (or tie-ins with local attractions); and

-relevancy to the guest.

If your hotel is closed at the moment, this could be an opportunity to take some time and think of ways where you can begin to zero in on potential guests you may not have considered before.

In this blog post, we’re going to focus on the latter, and look at three potential areas in which your hotel could specialise and appeal to a very specific audience.

1. The cycling pitstop

British cycling is booming.

Thanks to Bradley Wiggins and co, there appears to be more lycra-clad cyclists on the roads than ever before, and as a hotelier, that could present quite an opportunity.

If you happen to be placed conveniently on a common cycling route (and, let’s be honest, they’re rarely consigned to national cycle routes), your hotel could be the perfect overnight pitstop and respite for two-wheeled addicts.

By offering somewhere to securely store bikes, maps of alternative routes and high energy-based recovery meals, you’ll tap into a huge market that would otherwise have wheeled silently past your property.

2. The walkers’ retreat

It doesn’t matter where your hotel is situated, be it a busy city centre or tucked away in a pretty little hamlet – it probably resides either directly within or close by a common walking route.

A bit like cycling, the nation’s increased thirst for exercise has prompted many of us to head to our nearest outdoor clothing shop and stock up on rambling gear. And anyone who has gone one step further and actually used that gear will know how welcome the sight of a pub is during a long trek.

If your hotel has a bar – that’s your first route into this market, but you can go much further by following the cycling example.

Offer refreshments, restorative meals, maps and reasonably-priced rooms for the night and you’ll capture the eye of many a walking group. Make it clear on approach that you welcome dogs and muddy boots (in specific areas of the hotel, of course), and you’ll be amazed by how many people decide to take a break from their hike and drop in (or pre-book a room once word starts to spread!).

3. The classic car meet

Have you got a sizeable carpark or patch of grass that sits unused for long stretches of the year? If so, you have a brilliant opportunity to encourage car enthusiasts to regularly visit your hotel.

Classic car ‘meets’ are incredibly popular and take place all year round. What’s more, the organisers of these petrol-fuelled events are always looking for space in which to hold them, and your hotel could provide an attractive backdrop, plenty of room for the vehicles and beds for anyone who has travelled particularly far.

Wrapping up

In a market as competitive as this one, you need to get creative in order to differentiate your offering from the bland, flatpack chain competition and more adventurous independents. Our tips above will hopefully inspire you to do just that!

___ 

InnQuest Software is a leading technology provider for the hospitality industry. For over 25 years, innQuest has combined hotelier experience with innovative technology to deliver an all-in-one solution that empowers hotels to attract guests, drive customer loyalty, and increase profits. Our flagship property management softwareroomMaster, helps manage over 5,500 properties across 100 countries. InnQuest develops scalable solutions ranging from a Hotel PMSCloud PMSChannel ManagerHotel CRM and helps properties enable guests to Book Direct. We believe that everyone deserves a great guest experience, whether they’re staying at a small B&B, a thousand-room resort, or anywhere in between. 

Call us today on +44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@innquestemea.com. We will be happy to walk you through innQuest’s solutions. 

For US, please call +1 813 288 4900 or email sales@innquest.com.

Why the Cloud Will Make Your Hotel More Resilient

Why the Cloud Will Make Your Hotel More Resilient

It’s thought that the shift to cloud computing among American businesses will amount to over $1.3 trillion in IT spend by 2022.

That huge figure should come as no surprise. Cloud platforms are now commodities in many industries – the hospitality industry included.

Despite this, there’s still some nervousness among hoteliers when it comes to moving from an on-premise property management system to a cloud-based alternative.

This is understandable, but the resilience offered by the cloud has never been more important. Here’s why it could transform your hotel business.

You’ll never worry about data loss again

Data loss is a major concern for any business, but the cloud guarantees that your data is always available, even if you have hardware problems on-site at the hotel.

In fact, the term ‘disaster recovery’ is rendered largely irrelevant if you’re running your hotel software in the cloud, because it simply isn’t going anywhere!

It’ll mobilize your team, right when they need it most

The best cloud-based platforms work across a variety of devices. For instance, that means you can access your reservations from your tablet and break free from your workstation.

As demonstrated during the coronavirus outbreak, cloud-based apps come to the rescue when the team has to temporarily work remotely, by providing them with the tools they need, wherever they happen to be.

It’ll scale as fast as you do

If your hotel business is growing, you need technology that can come along for the ride.

On-premise systems often need to be updated to account for business growth, but the cloud scales at the same rate you do, which can significantly reduce costs and periods of downtime.

Data security will always be ahead of the curve

Relying on your own in-house IT security is challenging because it involves continually updating antivirus software and device operating systems.

Moving to the cloud won’t alleviate the need to think security-first entirely, but it will mean that the most important data you deal with is secured on servers that are equipped to deal with the latest forms of cybercrime.

It’ll help you gain control of your overheads

Gone are the days of big, expensive up-front implementation costs and high recurring support fees.

The cloud isn’t only scalable, secure and mobile – it’s highly cost-effective, too. Most cloud platforms are offered at a reasonable monthly fee which can be easily accounted for and which typically includes upgrades, too.

Wrapping up

The reasons for moving to the cloud are mounting.

It won’t happen overnight for many hotels, and their concerns about moving away from an on-premise solution are understandable. The PMS does, after all, sit at the heart of every successful hotel.

Have we tempted you to make the move sooner rather than later?

___

InnQuest Software is a leading technology provider for the hospitality industry. For over 25 years, innQuest has combined hotelier experience with innovative technology to deliver an all-in-one solution that empowers hotels to attract guests, drive customer loyalty, and increase profits. Our flagship property management software, roomMaster, helps manage over 5,500 properties across 100 countries. InnQuest develops scalable solutions ranging from a Hotel PMSCloud PMSChannel ManagerHotel CRM and helps properties enable guests to Book Direct. We believe that everyone deserves a great guest experience, whether they’re staying at a small B&B, a thousand-room resort, or anywhere in between.

Call us today at 1.813.288.4900, or email us at sales@innquest.com. We will be happy to walk you through innQuest’s solutions.

4 Things Hoteliers Can Do To Increase Direct Bookings

4 Things Hoteliers Can Do To Increase Direct Bookings

If there’s one question hoteliers ask themselves every day, it’s: “how can I increase direct bookings?”.

And that’s understandable because ‘beating’ the online travel agents (OTAs) feels like an impossible task…

…until you realise that it isn’t really a battle.

Seriously – in order to gain more direct bookings as a hotelier, you need to view this industry as a level playing field, because in the digital age, that’s exactly what it is.

In today’s blog, we’re going to look at four things you can do today to increase direct bookings at your hotel (and none of the tips below involves getting into a backstreet brawl with an OTA):

1. Get into digital marketing

Isn’t all marketing in the digital age, er… digital?

Nope!

In fact, the hospitality industry remains one of the few that still relies on old-fashioned methods of brand promotion thanks to the prevalence of printed brochures and direct mail campaigns.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that stuff, but it needs to run alongside a concerted digital marketing effort if you’re to be found online.

Here are a few ways you can up your digital marketing game, relatively easily:

-optimise your website for keywords relating to the type of hotel you run, its various services and location (this is known as ‘SEO’ – speak to your web people if you’re unsure how to approach it);

-start a blog and write regularly about the hotel, its events and topics that relate to the area in which it’s situated;

-use your social media presence – don’t just let it sit there unloved; a post or two a day advertising your latest rates or showing off photos of your rooms and grounds will work wonders;

-give Google Adwords a try – it isn’t the money pit some will tell you it is.

The above list is certainly non-exhaustive, but it’s a start, and if you make good on your promise to keep on top of each task, you’ll gradually start to see results in terms of increased visitors to your website and – all being well – increase direct bookings.

2. Respond to – and share – guest reviews

Ah – reviews. Well, we were going to mention this sooner or later, weren’t we?

Guest reviews can make or break hotels – but not in the way you’re perhaps thinking.

Receive a bad review? Respond to it; demonstrate that you’re listening and care deeply about your business and the service you provide guests.

Receive a great review? Share it! Tell the world via social media and a testimonials page on your website.

By proactively dealing with guest reviews, you’ll become the master of them, and the more active you are with such guest correspondence, the more chance you have of diverting people to your own website rather than an OTA.

3. Give guests a reason to part with their money

Getting people to your hotel website is only half the battle. Once they arrive, they need to be given a compelling reason to book direct.

Try creating bespoke packages that are only applicable to people who are willing to book direct. Avoid rate parity issues by retaining the same OTA rate but instead include something on top that is of high value to the guest but relatively low cost to you (a breakfast upgrade, for example).

If you avoid the opportunity to give potential guests a good deal immediately, they’ll quickly head elsewhere.

4. Implement a killer online booking system and payment gateway

Potential guests need two things to convince them that booking direct is the thing to do:

-Ease of booking.

-Reassurance.

Number 1 simply means you need a great online booking system that enables people to make bookings in just a few short steps. Number 2 requires a recognisable payment gateway (e.g. PayPal) and a crystal-clear booking policy. Both will be bolstered considerably with a PMS that connects directly to your website’s hotel booking systems.

Make your deposit, cancellation and no-show policy ultra-clear and ensure guests are forced to agree to your terms before booking.

The more transparent your booking process, the more people will use it – it’s that simple.

Wrapping up

Have we missed anything?

If you’re an independent hotelier and have experienced a significant uplift in direct bookings, tell us your experiences below. It doesn’t hurt to share your successes with the world once in a while!

___

InnQuest Software is a leading technology provider for the hospitality industry. For over 25 years, innQuest has combined hotelier experience with innovative technology to deliver an all-in-one solution that empowers hotels to attract guests, drive customer loyalty, and increase profits. Our flagship property management softwareroomMaster, helps manage over 5,500 properties across 100 countries. InnQuest develops scalable solutions ranging from a Hotel PMSCloud PMSChannel ManagerHotel CRM and helps properties enable guests to Book Direct. We believe that everyone deserves a great guest experience, whether they’re staying at a small B&B, a thousand-room resort, or anywhere in between.

Call us today on +44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@innquestemea.com. We will be happy to walk you through innQuest’s solutions.

For U.S., please call +1 813 288 4900 or email sales@innquest.com.

5 tips for maximising direct bookings in 2021

5 tips for maximising direct bookings in 2021

Hosted by TripTease, the Direct Booking Summit is now in its third year and is the first event of its kind devoted to helping hoteliers increase the number of direct bookings they receive.

The fact direct booking now has its own summit is a clear indication of how big a challenge it is for hoteliers (particularly independents) to drive bookings through their own websites as opposed to the commission-based alternatives.

The good news? If you’re an independent hotelier, there are five things you can do in 2021 to maximise your direct bookings – and they’re easier than you might think!

1. A blatantly-obvious online booking button

We’ve offered this tip so many times in the past, but there’s no harm in reiterating it.

When you have a new website designed for your hotel, it’s easy to get lost in everything but the most important element – the call-to-action (CTA).

For a hotel, that’s the ‘book now’ button, courtesy of modern online hotel booking engine. If yours can’t be found immediately (i.e. without scrolling, or pinching to zoom on your phone [see tip 5]), you’re missing out on direct bookings – simple.

2. Nail the user experience

A beautiful website isn’t necessarily a functional website or one that’s a pleasure to use.

Given the visual nature of this industry, we’ve seen far too many hotel websites where there has been too much time spent on the design, overlooking the user experience.

You need beautiful, original imagery and video if you’re to engage potential guests, but you also need to make it easy for them to navigate. Here’s our user experience golden rules:

– Make it easy to book (see tip 1)

– Put all of the important information within the upper-third of each page

– Create a simple, clear menu

That’s it. Easy, right?

3. Make security a top priority

Understandably, there’s a lot of nervousness about data protection and cybercrime these days, and your hotel website needs to give its visitors the confidence to hang around.

You can do this by investing in a PCI-compliant online booking system for their credit card payments, and by ensuring that you have an ‘https’ security certificate for the website. The latter displays the little padlock icon in most browsers and is an industry-standard form of security.

These little things will add credibility to your brand and encourage people to hang around long enough to book.

4. Rate parity

If you’re advertising rates higher or lower on your website compared to the OTAs, you’ll be both breaking their rules and confusing guests.

Sound odd? Not really. Guests want transparent pricing, and finding multiple prices for the same room at the same hotel across multiple websites including your own doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Why are they different?

If you have price parity across all of your online channels, the choice of booking method for the guest will usually come down to whichever website they land on when they’re at the buying stage of the customer journey. If yours keeps them engaged and makes it easy to book, why would they head back to an OTA?

5. Mobile compatibility

Test your hotel website on your mobile phone.

Most of the people who visit your website will do so on their smartphone. And that means everything should auto-adjust to fit any screen size, while keeping that all important CTA (re-read tip 1!) front-and-centre.

Whats the experience like? Painful?

You’re missing out on direct bookings!

Wrapping up

You’ll never achieve 100% direct bookings for your hotel. If you do, we’d love to hear from you.

But you won’t – sorry.

That doesn’t matter though, because by using our tips above, you’ll significantly increase the portion that originate from your own website and in turn establish a brand that people want to return to again and again.

___ 

InnQuest Software is a leading technology provider for the hospitality industry. For over 25 years, innQuest has combined hotelier experience with innovative technology to deliver an all-in-one solution that empowers hotels to attract guests, drive customer loyalty, and increase profits. Our flagship property management softwareroomMaster, helps manage over 5,500 properties across 100 countries. InnQuest develops scalable solutions ranging from a Hotel PMSCloud PMSChannel ManagerHotel CRM and helps properties enable guests to Book Direct. We believe that everyone deserves a great guest experience, whether they’re staying at a small B&B, a thousand-room resort, or anywhere in between. 

Call us today on +44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@innquestemea.com. We will be happy to walk you through innQuest’s solutions. 

For US, please call +1 813 288 4900 or email sales@innquest.com.

Getting to know your guests: the basics of guest profiling

Getting to know your guests: the basics of guest profiling

If there’s one thing the OTAs know how to do well, it’s guest profiling. In fact, there’s a high chance they’ve obtained more data about your guests than you have… and you’re the one providing the service!

The good news is this can be fixed, because as the hotelier, you have access to just as much technology and right to collect data about your guests. GDPR may have thrown a few marketing plans out of kilter, but that was for good reason; before the new regulation, there simply wasn’t enough importance placed on the protection of our personal data.

Providing you abide by the rules, you can collect guest data that will enable you to profile them fully and in turn create more personalized stays and a hotel service which lives long in the memory.

Today, we’re going to look at the basics of guest profiling.

Always get their email address

Email marketing is a powerful tool because it offers a direct route to a defined endpoint: your guests’ inboxes.

This is why you should always obtain guests’ email addresses. If they book directly via your website, this step is easy, but if they come via an OTA, you’ll probably be aware that you’re often given a temporary OTA email address for them – or nothing at all.

If that’s the case, make it a standard procedure for reception staff to follow up new OTA bookings with a request for the guest’s personal email address. In fact, this field should be a mandatory field on the Reservation Form, just make sure you are following GDPR Guidelines and retaining the information with the guests consent. roomMaster is GDPR Compliant and offers the settings and features needed to assist you with your own GDPR Compliance.

Use a CRM platform

Customer relationship management (CRM) software was once the sole domain of the corporate world, but thanks to cloud technology and lower costs of enterprise-level tools, every business can now benefit from such software.

To drive customer loyalty, increase repeat stays and encourage better online reviews, you need a CRM Platform like Cendyn’s Guestfolio, that fully integrates with your hotel PMS. Link the two together, and you’ll gain far more options for guest data capture.

Embrace guest feedback

Do you squirm at the thought of checking your TripAdvisor reviews? If so, you’re missing out on countless opportunities to profile your guests.

By collating guest feedback, you’ll not only learn as a hotelier and improve your service, but find out exactly what matters to individual guests, too.

For instance, if a particular guest expresses how perfect their garden view room was, why not make a note against their profile to ensure the same type of room can be offered again next time they book?

There’s powerful detail in guest reviews, so make sure you allocate plenty of time each week to read through them.

Analyze your email marketing efforts

We mentioned earlier how important email marketing is for hoteliers, but sending offers and newsletters out is only half the job; you need to analyze the performance of those campaigns, too.

By keeping track of email marketing engagement, you’ll be able to sniff out the guests who are most interested in your brand. Equally, you’ll start to get a feel for how they want to interact with your hotel based on the links they click and the type of information or offers they appear less interested in.

This is only the start…

We’ll delve into guest profiling in much greater detail on this blog soon but keep the points above in mind as you begin to build a far more powerful guest database; it will hold the key to greater brand recognition and more direct bookings.

___

InnQuest Software is a leading technology provider for the hospitality industry. For over 25 years, innQuest has combined hotelier experience with innovative technology to deliver an all-in-one solution that empowers hotels to attract guests, drive customer loyalty, and increase profits. Our flagship property management softwareroomMaster, helps manage over 5,500 properties across 100 countries. InnQuest develops scalable solutions ranging from a Hotel PMSCloud PMSChannel ManagerHotel CRM and helps properties enable guests to Book Direct. We believe that everyone deserves a great guest experience, whether they’re staying at a small B&B, a thousand-room resort, or anywhere in between.

Call us today at 1.813.288.4900, or email us at sales@innquest.com. We will be happy to walk you through innQuest’s solutions.