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.
But innovation in the hospitality industry is changing all that, with digital solutions making it easier for smaller properties to manage workloads and be competitive. We look at the biggest challenges facing properties like yours, and suggest easy ways to overcome them.
Challenge 1: Increasing OTA presence
To reach a wider audience of potential guests, smaller hotels usually work with Online Travel Agents (OTAs). Perhaps you’re reluctant to do this because of the risk of overbookings or the cost of commission, and you instead focus on trying to increase direct bookings? Why not have it both ways?
Solution: Adopt channel management technology
A channel manager is a type of software that sends hotel information such as availability, rates and inventory to all online distribution channels at the same time – including to a property’s own website. This allows smaller properties like yours to partner with multiple OTAs without having to worry about getting overbookings.
Challenge 2: Managing increasingly complex business operations
While big hotels and chains have scale on their side, independent properties have to go it alone. You may have numerous tasks to take care of in-house, from front-desk staffing and housekeeping, to HR and payroll – and maybe even concierge or dining services. That’s a lot for a small team to handle, and it can easily lead to human error.
Solution: Implement a property management system (PMS)
A PMS can help small hotels to coordinate operational tasks and keep business in order. This, in turn, helps to reduce stress, remove the risk of human error and free up time to take care of guests. You can even integrate a PMS with a channel manager and have an all-in-one management system that connects your property to multiple booking channels.
Challenge 3: Maintaining a direct booking channel
Although you know that accepting direct bookings can reduce your reliance on OTAs, perhaps you feel you lack the technical expertise to maintain your own website? Some small properties see a property website as simply having an online presence as opposed to a source of revenue. Even if you have a website, you may not realise that last-minute bookers use their smartphones to book – and expect a smooth user experience.
Solution: Get a mobile-friendly website with a booking engine
With the right technology, a small hotel can easily create and maintain a website that allows potential guests to browse and book on any device. Instead of relying on expensive web agencies, you can use smart website-builder tools to design your own site, control your online information and get more direct bookings.
Challenge 4: Creating personalised guest experiences
If there’s one thing that can set smaller properties apart from their bigger competitors, it’s the guest experience. Your property can feel cosier and more intimate to guests, and allow for more one-on-one interactions with staff. The issue is often a lack of time to dedicate to guests, with staff at smaller properties having to juggle numerous tasks and roles across the day.
Solution: Use messaging technology to communicate with guests
An efficient way to personalise your guest experience is with the help of messaging technology. This solution lets you create an ongoing dialogue with guests, from sharing a greeting before arrival and supporting in-stay requests, to sending a guest-review request after check-out.
Challenge 5: Managing online reputation
Even if you manage to create unique guest experiences, how can you take advantage of that? Consumed with daily operations and with no parent brand to fall back on, a small hotel has neither the time nor resources for post-stay follow-ups with guests. This means you miss out on opportunities to retain guests’ loyalty, receive reviews or generate word of mouth.
Solution: Try reputation management tools
Thankfully there are solutions that can help you capitalise on positive guest experiences. Reputation management tools let guests leave reviews on various platforms and let you gather them all in one place. This makes it easy for you to track and respond to reviews – and find testimonials for your own property website.
Challenge 6: Finding the best technology solutions
It’s clear that with the right technology in place, smaller properties can save time on admin tasks and put more energy into optimising the guest experience. But with little spare time to search for solutions and a gap in technical knowledge, how can you make sure you pick the tools and apps that best suit your business needs?
Solution: Browse the BookingSuite App Store
Reviewed and handpicked by our team of experts, the solutions available in the BookingSuite App Store are designed with smaller properties in mind. We research and present the best options for guest reviews, guest messaging, revenue management, online check-in, upsell and promotions, and online presence – so you don’t have to.