Technology has changed the landscape of how we operate and interact with our guests. Travelers now expect to communicate instantly and so it is wise to assess if we have the right hospitality technology to help them with their decision-making.
The Property Management System (PMS) connecting to a Channel Manager which in turn then talks to the website booking engine, guest reputation management systems, revenue management systems, and chatbots are the new norm. Guest writer Suresh shares his top tips on hotel technology and ops strategies for independent accommodation owners below:
1. Choose the right Technology Partners for your property
PMS solutions are now real-time, cloud-based and allow you to access your property’s information remotely. If you are connected to such a solution ﬁnd out what other integrations (apart from the channel manager) they are partnered with. Doing this will save you time on hotel operations and allow you to focus on delivering guest experiences.
2. Try before you buy
If you plan to use an integration such as a revenue management system, a hotel app, a guest reputation management system or chatbot, make sure you try the technology ﬁrst and assess the usability with your front desk staff/hotel staff before integrating this with the PMS or Channel Manager solution. Make sure to get references of users of this solution so you can get a real feel from others using it.
3. Invest in Photography and Video
There are many factors that are considered before someone books your property and how you represent the hotel via photographs and videos of your hotel room, guest services, experiences, hygiene & cleanliness posts, etc will help this process immensely. This may cost in the short-term which in this environment could be prohibitive but perhaps a barter deal while rooms are empty or voucher for a later stay or a part payment, the part voucher could be some ways to get what you need.
4. Use Guest Reputation to your advantage
Guests who stay have many ways of commenting about their stay. Some of these include reviews via Google, TripAdvisor, and reviews on OTA sites. Responding to these give conﬁdence to guests who are considering staying at your property. There are software solutions that can consolidate reviews from all platforms that give you a clear idea where you are doing well and areas that need attention.
5. Automate processes internally
COVID-19 has forced some of us to re-think how we operate and connect with each other especially for the hospitality industry. In this ‘contactless’ environment, technology can help by creating smart room services such as automating check-ins, lockbox or key-less entry into rooms, self-service kiosks, digital communication between guests and staff for room service, and much more. A chatbot could be a good way of communicating for most general queries.
6. Adapt guest conﬁrmation & pre-arrival emails
An automatic conﬁrmation email is usually sent to the guest when they make a booking. Create a pre-arrival template/personalize guest emails to send to the guest 1-day before-arrival to let them know that you are looking forward to welcoming them with detailed information of lock-box codes, guests’ expectations, and any operational changes due to COVID-19. Eg. If you have a breakfast room where guests usually go for breakfast you may want to pre-package a breakfast basket and leave this in the guest room before arrival.
7. Food and beverage deliveries and collaborations
This will be a good time to re-think how we can adapt our F&B services with social distancing rules and work in partnership with delivery companies to move product to avoid waste, reduce cash-ﬂow issues and bring in revenues. Another good way to promote community initiatives is to collaborate with other restaurants, cafes and bars in the vicinity with a good value add or a discount so that guests have a choice. Setting up chargeback facilities with select restaurants can be beneﬁcial especially with corporate travelers.
8. Use Guest Reputation to your advantage
Gift Vouchers – Can be a great way to increase short-term cashﬂows by having offers for rooms, meals in the restaurant or a spa offer etc. Gift Vouchers could be sold independently with a manual system, online system or by using a gift voucher mobile app. Some channel managers have this capability, and this may be a quick way to get things moving quickly. Regardless of which way you decide to go you will need to promote this on social media and other platforms, so people are aware about your deals.
This article has been taken from Suresh Subramaniam’s ebook Independent Accommodation Business Owner’s Toolkit
About the Guest writer
Suresh Subramaniam is CEO of Innov8 Hospitality Solutions and CEO/Founder of U Hotel Group based in Wellington, New Zealand. His work focuses on helping small accommodation providers be more knowledgeable in revenue management, distribution and marketing while building a respected brand in the small accommodation space.