Hotel management in the digital age can be confusing, but technology is here to help. From online reputation to day-to-day management, there are tools for all properties’ needs.
Technology is here to stay. Not only that, but it’s here to help you. As someone involved in hotel management, you’ll know that no matter how great your service, no matter how big your profit margins, there’s always room for improvement. And that’s where technology steps in.
But with so much hotel technology out there, how do you choose which products are right for your property?
To help give you an idea of where to start, we’ve put together a list of some of the tools that are available on the market, covering topics like hotel management, message services, online reputation and more. You may already have some of them, others you may have heard of, and some might just surprise you.
Each is designed to make running your business easier. So whether you want to improve your online reputation or you’re struggling to keep your water bills down, there’ll be a tool for you.
Distribution: what you’re selling, and where
Distribution is all about your sales: what rooms you’re selling online, and through which websites (channels). Your property may be available on Booking.com, your direct website, and various other OTAs – sometimes it can be hard to keep on top of it all.
If you’re having trouble keeping all your different channels accurate and up-to-date, you might want to consider using a channel manager alongside your reservation system. This is the most fundamental hotel management software, as it links to your PMS system, pulling all your channels together in one place – making it much easier to manage your hotel reservations, update your availability and reduce errors.
Some programmes go further still. If you feel that you’re losing hotel reservations because your prices aren’t competitive enough, you might want to consider pricing software. Some versions compare your rates against your competition, and offer you the most profitable rate recommendations based on competition and demand.
Management: the day-to-day running of your property
It may not seem like it, but there are always ways that you can streamline your daily hotel management – and technology’s always there to help out.
For example, if you’re having issues with queues at reception, there’s software to allow guests to check in using their mobile devices. And if you find you’re spending too much money replacing keys or keycards, how about a programme that lets guests open their doors using their mobile?
If you feel you’re wasting a lot of time with key handover (either with guests or employees), you can leave keys in a local café, for example, and certain software lets you track how and when they’re being used. You’d get real-time notifications as the keys are checked in or out, and you can control access anytime, and from anywhere.
When it comes to your housekeeping and maintenance, it’s easy to organise your manpower in one app, meaning a more efficient workforce and greater guest satisfaction. You can create photo-based instructions for your cleaning staff to ensure consistency, and photos of maintenance work to keep things running smoothly. Another benefit of these programmes is that depending on your guests’ arrival and departure times, you can free up rooms for guests who’d like to arrive earlier.
You can even get programmes that directly cut down your spending on utilities, by regulating water and energy consumption – either with controls at reception or with in-room software.
Guests: delivering the best possible experience
Your guest is at the heart of what you do – so when it comes to giving them a great experience, it pays to get your guest services right. There’s a whole host of guest-related programmes on the market, all designed to make sure your customers love their stay.
For example, various message services let you share pre-arrival check-in information, house rules, local tips and more – all translated into the language of your guest. You could even go a step further and provide guests with a free smartphone with free internet and international calls, as well as apps that promote your in-stay offers – and let guests order with a couple of taps of a screen.
Online reputation: the cycle of persuasion
These days, your guest’s experience starts and ends online. Various factors will affect whether customers book with you or not, but there’s plenty you can do to get people looking in the right direction.
One of those factors is your content – and in particular, your photos. Some companies offer professional photos, along with an app to make sure they’re always well ordered, cropped and up-to-date.
Reviews are another great tool for giving customers the confidence to book your hotel – and also for highlighting areas where you can improve your guest services. Many programmes let you send personalised emails to your target customers, create custom guest questionnaires and analyse your reviews to compare against your competition. You can also include your latest review score from big channels like Booking.com on your own website – giving an extra boost to both your online reputation and your bank balance.