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6 hotel challenges for smaller properties (and technology that can help)

Handling admin, managing guest expectations, taking care of finances. There’s no shortage of hotel challenges when you’re running a small independent business. While chains have money and marketing power, smaller properties struggle to find time to complete day-to-day tasks, let alone create personalised guest experiences.  “6 hotel challenges for smaller properties (and technology that can help)”Continue reading
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How to handle negative guest reviews

One thing’s for sure in life: you can’t please everyone. No matter how good your service is, there’ll always be someone who isn’t completely satisfied.

Negative guest reviews are inevitable in hospitality – but what kind of impact they have is up to you. They may seem like a blow to your image, but they can actually be an opportunity to show that you listen to your guests’ feedback – and take appropriate action.

In this six-step guide, we’ll explain how a few negative guest reviews can actually increase trust in your property. You’ll also read our main tips for managing reviews and how to reply to them, both on your property page and through private messages.

When potential guests see that you’re the kind of property that takes feedback seriously, and that you work hard to fix issues, it’ll play in your favour. In the long run, that means more bookings.

a man and woman look at their laptop as they read guest reviews of a hotel they are planning on staying at in the future.
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Infographic: 2019’s Top 5 travel trends

Travel statistics are only helpful if you can apply them to your business. That’s why our exclusive infographic illustrating the top five travel trends for 2019 includes practical tips on how you can make them work for your property, whether you have two rooms or 200.

The more you know about how guests think about travel and technology, the more you can meet (or exceed) their changing expectations. Travel technology can help, but it’s not about keeping up with the latest gadgets and apps for their own sake. It’s about keeping up with your guests and what they want when they stay with you.

To make it easy to scan, we have broken down the numbers behind the trends in this exclusive infographic, so you can keep it handy to refer to as you develop your 2019 strategy.

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Hear from tech-enabled travellers and what role technology plays in their travel

For our exclusive report Understanding the tech-enabled traveller we talked with a group of 30 tech-enabled travellers to learn about the role of technology in their trips.

In this video, the travellers share their experiences, thoughts, and preferences – including what they expect from properties they stay at. You’ll meet some of the travellers we talked with, and hear them discuss the balancing act between the efficiency of tech and the authenticity of travel.

The travellers we spoke to told us they aim to use their smartphones and other technology to help take the friction out of travelling – without removing the human touch. Having access to technology as they explore lets them be more spontaneous. They’ve become their own travel agents, yet they still value locals-only tips from their hosts.

It’s clear from listening to them in their own words that technology has transformed the way they travel, but it hasn’t replaced their desire for authentic escapes and the human touch.

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Gain confidence with a rate management tool

With its elaborate tiled floor and painted ceiling panels, Hotel Royal Gothenburg is one place where it’s clear that history and tradition mean a lot.

It’s the oldest hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden, and has been owned and run by the same family since 1852. The Royal displays the kind of old-world charm that has loyal guests coming back again and again.

So when the their long-serving revenue manager was approaching retirement, he wanted to leave the hotel in good hands – with someone who could bring it into the 21st century while upholding its proud traditions.

That person was Mattias Niklasson, a young hospitality professional who always wanted to work at a hotel that had “something special” about it.

Until Mattias came along, the hotel relied on the intuitions and long-standing knowledge of his predecessor. “It wasn’t that his theories or rates didn’t work, but we also saw that there was some room for improvement, if you could more accurately pinpoint the rates on certain dates,” Mattias says.

So as the hotel revenue management reins were being handed to Mattias, they decided to seize the moment, and try out a rate management tool that would give him an overview of his competitors’ average rates as well as demand forecasts for the Gothenburg area.

It’s a good confidence boost, it’s a big help. It would be a lot harder if I didn’t have a tool like this.
Mattias Niklasson - Revenue Manager

This information gave Mattias a lot more confidence setting rates day-to-day, and well into the future. “It’s not always raising the prices that will improve things,” he says. “It’s not that easy.”

For example, seeing the information on upcoming demand and local events lets Mattias be more strategic when managing his inventory of rooms. “Do we want to sell them early, or hold on to them and sell them last minute? Things like that, now we can think differently than we used to.”

Not only has the technology revolutionised the hotel’s pricing approach, it’s also been a real time-saver for Mattias.

“One thing that took a lot of time was manually searching for different hotels on different dates – to look into one hotel at a time, compare and write it down. That’s how we did it before but now we can compare multiple hotels at once,” says Mattias.

Despite its traditional roots, Hotel Royal Gothenburg has modernised its way of working – and its adoption of rate management technology is reaping the rewards.

“It has made my job way, way easier,” says Mattias.

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Improve your online presence with an easy web tool

When Catharina Tengwall’s boss decided to add a commercial aparthotel to his portfolio of residential apartments, she knew the key to success in the accommodation business would be to embrace change – and technology.

“I’m eager to learn. I have an open mind,” she says.

Today, Catharina is the reservations manager at Hotel Torslanda Studios, a 36-unit aparthotel outside Gothenburg, Sweden. With car maker Volvo’s headquarters just a few kilometres away, the hotel attracts lots of business travellers through online channels like Booking.com.

However, Catharina had less success through the property’s original website because it was just a small section of the residential property management company’s overall website. So it was hard for guests to find Hotel Torslanda online – and there was no way for them to make a direct reservation.

“It didn’t generate any bookings at all – I had maybe two or three requests over one-and-a-half years,” Catharina explains.

The old website also lacked the user-friendly finesse and customisable content that you get with a professionally designed website. “It’s a lot nicer to have a website where you can choose the colours and so on, to give it a nice look,” she adds. So, Catharina sought out another solution. “I checked a few other tools like WordPress, but it seemed very complicated,” she says.

That’s where WebDirect came in. After being impressed by another property’s site that used the site-building platform, Catharina made a business case for creating a dedicated website for Hotel Torslanda Studios. Both felt it was worth the low commission cost, given how easy WebDirect was to set up and use.

“Maybe the greatest surprise was that it was that easy,” Catharina recalls. “I couldn’t imagine it was so easy to make a website.”

It was nice to be able to work with my website at my own pace. There were no problems, and you could follow the development all the time. So I think it was very nice to work with, very easy.
Catharina Tengwall - Reservations Manager

After a quick initial set-up that pulled content from the hotel’s existing Booking.com profile, Catharina added her own touches. She listed local landmarks and chose additional languages to attract a broader segment of guests to her new website.

“You can publish it immediately, and everything goes online as soon as you do that. It’s really easy to get around if you’re a beginner as I am,” she says.

Not only was Hotel Torslanda’s new website easy for her to use, its new design and functionality also made for a much better experience for prospective guests.

“It’s easy to get around if you’re a guest looking for answers – you can easily find them. And that’s how a website should be,” she says.

Having become a website wizard overnight, Catharina’s already planning her next move – mastering social media. She’s started an Instagram account for the hotel, and plans to connect it with the new website to boost her online presence.

“We’re quite new in the hotel business. We’re trying to take small steps everyday,” Catharina says. “It’s changing all the time, and we have to be on our toes.”

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Secure revenue with hotel payments technology

As a hospitality professional, you’ll know better than most just how much hoteliers have to keep track of: new bookings, cancellations, check-ins, staffing – and a whole lot more. One area where there’s no room for error is payment. When it comes to handing over money (or transferring it), it’s only natural that guests are sensitive.

Add in the fact that different people have their own preferences – often guided by practices in the country they come from – and you have a potentially confusing payment landscape.

Payment technology is designed to improve the process for both guests and properties. It helps make payment faster and more secure, offering important peace of mind for both sides. Since the technology is digitalised, it also eliminates human errors, meaning a lower chance of any problems arising. Finally, since payment is managed digitally, guests have extra reassurance because they don’t have to travel with so much physical cash in their pocket.

In this ebook, we’ll talk about why it pays to take payments seriously. We’ll also run through some of the easiest ways to attract a range of guests, no matter what their preferences are when it comes to hotel payments.

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Deliver a great guest experience for less

In southern Italy, family means a lot – and Hotel Ascot is no exception. Located in the province of Caserta, this property has been a family affair since its opening in 2014.

It’s here that owner Antonio Iannotta works, alongside his wife and parents. The Ascot is a small hotel with 12 rooms, and a friendly atmosphere that Antonio describes as “informal”.

The hotel is around 30 km from the nearest major tourist attraction, and when the family first opened the hotel, they had difficulty getting the hotel’s name out there for guests to find. So they started looking for technology tools to help tell the world about Hotel Ascot.

Instant access to millions of guests

The Iannottas were clear that promoting their property online was the way to go, so they hired a local web design company to build a website for them. However, with few bookings coming in, they struggled to see much return on their investment.

That’s when they found out about WebDirect by BookingSuite, a website solution for properties. After signing up, the initial setup was completed in only a few seconds, and the Iannottas had their own professional website with all Booking.com’s years of expertise behind it.

The benefits were visible almost immediately, with a 30% increase in direct online bookings. “With this system we managed to reach the top positions on search engines, almost at no cost,” says Antonio. He easily set up an SEO strategy from the website’s backend and purchased a custom domain as well. “It gave us direct results, and indirectly, thanks to the visibility, we have become the main attraction for the area.”

Quality apps in one easy store

With an effective website bringing in guests from all over the world, the Iannottas were keen to see if there was more hotel technology that could help push their business forward.

Initially, they tried using search engines to find what they were looking for. But without an easy, trustworthy way of identifying useful tools, they struggled. “We weren’t offered the best service available on the market,” says Antonio.

Since WebDirect was working so well for them, they had a look on BookingSuite’s App Store, a collection of tried-and-tested apps for independent properties. Antonio was amazed by the difference. “Booking.com has great experience in selling rooms and promoting properties, so I’m sure that they choose the best companies offering these products in the market.”

“Using App Store was easy and intuitive. It lets you choose the product that is most suitable for your business,” he says.

BookingSuite’s App Store offers valid products. It allows you to save on operational costs, it lets you optimise staff management and it is suitable for various types of properties (small, medium and larger sized companies). It helps manage the property both internally and externally, so it helps with customer relationships.
Antonio Iannotta - Hotel Owner

Simple ways to improve service

One of the tools Antonio found on App Store was a programme designed to collect guest feedback quickly and easily. This chimed perfectly with Hotel Ascot, because “since the very first day we set customer satisfaction as a main goal. We really need to get real, direct feedback from the customer.”

With the new guest review app, they’ve been able to send quick feedback requests to guests’ mobile phones, even during their stay. This has alerted Hotel Ascot’s staff to issues that they’d never considered before. One time, a guest made a comment about the toiletries, “and we managed to fix it immediately,” adds Antonio.

That way, staff have been able to turn potentially negative guest experiences into positive ones straight away. “We manage to solve them instantaneously, while the customer is still staying at our hotel,” he explains.

The unexpected benefits of the new technology didn’t stop at creating great guest experiences. Antonio and his colleagues also managed to save the salary of an additional employee. “If the same person who’s sitting at reception manages to solve these situations while checking in people, it’s great […] Now we have one person in reception managing everything,” explains Antonio, estimating a €12,000 savings.

It completely simplified our business life. BookingSuite’s App Store helped us reach the best business result in the shortest period, using as little staff as possible.
Antonio Iannotta - Hotel Owner

What started with a search for a better hotel website has ended up with the Iannottas building a successful business. The family’s willingness to embrace technology has really proved fruitful – not only with more revenue, but with better guest experiences and a more efficient operation.

“Without Booking.com, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Antonio says.

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How a hotel rate shopping tool can boost occupancy

Zoltan Kovacs is a busy man. As a Revenue Manager for the Gorgeous Smiling Hotels chain, his job is all about maximising profit for seven different hotels around Austria, including the 45-room Arthotel ANA Gala in Vienna.

At the heart of his day-to-day job is a series of Excel documents, tracking the rates, revenue, yield, demand and pick-up for each of his seven hotels.

Scouring the internet for other hotels’ prices and manually filling in each sheet is a painstaking process. “I work on them all day,” Zoltan says. “If you do all this manually, it takes a long time.”

But the process isn’t just slow. This back-and-forth has been leading to lost business, because Zoltan fails to get a clear picture of what’s happening in the market – meaning he can’t set competitive rates based on real-time demand. As a result, Zoltan might underprice or overprice his rooms.

“You can’t react to the changes on the market promptly, so we can lose revenue and guests as well,” says Zoltan.

However, a colleague of Zoltan’s told him about RateIntelligence, a rate shopping tool from BookingSuite. This tool instantly showed Zoltan which room categories the properties in his competitive set were selling, and at what price – meaning a large chunk of his day-to-day tasks were automatically done for him.

graphic design showing how you can increase your occupancy by 20 percent with a hotel rate shopping tool

Zoltan saw the benefits of the tool immediately. “It’s much faster. I can save up to two hours per day,” he explains. “With that time, I can plan the next month, I can make new promotions, I can check my list from last year. I can calculate next month’s budget and which strategy I can use to get a high ADR and RevPAR.”

For Zoltan, the benefits of the rate shopping tool have gone beyond simply freeing up time. The information he gets about his competitive set can let him adjust his whole rate strategy with confidence.

“I check which price my competitive set has. I use RateIntelligence to figure out if my revenue strategy will be OK or not, if it’s too cheap or too expensive. I can go to RateIntelligence and it helps me figure out which strategy I should use,” he explains. With so much of extra time and useful information, Zoltan was able to devise a whole new rate strategy for the Arthotel ANA Gala.

If you’re looking for a nice tool that’s easy to set up and easy to use, this is the perfect one.
Zoltan Kovacs - Revenue Manager

By using a rate shopping tool, he noticed that properties in his competitive set were selling rates without breakfast. “This was really great information for us to understand the market better. They were selling rooms cheaper and we only had rates with breakfast.”

So he added rates without breakfast, and adjusted the differences between his categories – and it worked. Since implementing the change in his revenue strategy, Zoltan’s seen a boost to the property’s pick-up and occupancy. When reflecting on high season at the hotel, he says: “it’s now at 86% occupancy, which is really good. In 14 days my occupancy has gone up 20%. That’s really high for two weeks in August and September.”

Using the tool has made Zoltan’s job so much easier. In fact, he compares RateIntelligence to having an extra colleague solely dedicated to the market’s rates and ever-changing demand. “It’s like somebody sitting beside me and doing one person’s job for seven hotels,” he smiles.

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