Managing a hotel is not easy. Apart from guests, there are thousands of details to take care of. It can very quickly become hectic, making you waste time, and as a result, lose revenue. There are tools out there, however, that can help you maintain your business. Let’s focus on six of the most important ones.
It is relatively easy to manage your hotel’s own website, but it becomes increasingly difficult as the number of distribution channels start to grow. When hoteliers decide to use online booking platforms or metasearch engines to gain more visibility, bookings are then made and modified simultaneously on multiple websites – making it nearly impossible to track them all. This is when channel managers come in handy.
Channel managers oversee all distribution channels, continuously updating the number of available rooms on across all of them. That means you do not risk overbooking your property or misinforming your guests about the availability of certain rooms. Not only is it significantly safer, as you do not have to fear misleading your customers, but most importantly, it is much more efficient, as you can focus on other tasks, instead of keeping an eye on every website you cooperate with.
Online Travel Agents
Love them or hate them, today it is nearly impossible to run a successful hotel business without the help of online travel agents. Websites dedicated purely to bookings have taken over a large chunk of the industry. There are various types of OTAs dealing with different aspects of travelling, however, most of them are focused on hotels and flights, with car rentals and activity packages taking the next spots.
We spoke about distribution channels and how to manage them and OTAs are one of the main reasons why the channel managers were created in the first place. The idea is brilliant – showing all of the offers from each city in one, easily accessible place. It is much easier for customers, as they do not have to search the entire Internet for the right offer. It is also great for hoteliers, as before, only hoteliers with budgets for good online advertising were easily found online. Now, with a more level playing field, each hotel gets a chance.
Of course, the existence of such powerful companies that monopolize the market comes with some issues. The first of them is the commission charged by OTAs. Fees are tearing down many smaller hoteliers, who have to hand on up to 30% of what could have been their revenue to the booking platforms. Then there are also rate parity clauses which don’t allow hotels to show different pricing on any of their channels. This means that they can’t give discounts on their own websites.
There are a few ways hotels can fight back. One is making sure that the local governments make the mandate of rate parity illegal. Secondly, hotels can use online travel agents that do not charge a commission, such as Bidroom.com. Bidroom has found a way to work successfully without the need of imposing any fees on hoteliers and it also fights against the unfair practices of other OTAs.
Using the help of the booking platforms is inevitable, but there are ways to do it without overpaying and feeling used.
Project management tools
Working in a hotel can be very demanding. With the growth of the business comes the growth of staff and an increase in the number of projects running to make everything work smoothly. The right project management tools may be true life-savers.
Dividing tasks and subtasks, setting clear deadlines, creating projects, and choosing those responsible for them are crucial to keep any business running. Not only do project management tools allow you to keep track of everything happening in the hotel, but it is also the perfect way to control other staff members, keep people accountable for their actions, and make sure everyone works as a team. No task will be forgotten and you will always know what is there to be done.
There are plenty great project management tools, but my favourites are Wrike and Asana. Both are very functional, both allow you to divide tasks, mark their due dates, add subtasks and, of course assign, them to different members of your team. If you haven’t already, test one of them and see how much your efficiency will improve over time.
While on the subject of increased productivity, it is impossible to dismiss email tracking tools. As a hotelier, you send hundreds of emails each week. Some of them are more urgent, some can wait, but they are all important in their own way. That’s why email tracking tools are so useful. On many occasions, you want to be sure your message was delivered and not sent to spam. You want to know whether it has been opened or left untouched.Tracking tools let you better control your conversations and be more aware of what is happening in your relations with recipients.
They are also useful for marketing purposes, as you can see how many clicks you got and how many of your messages were even taken into consideration.
The most important section on your website is, of course, the offer page. You want them to be clean and easy to navigate. You need your guests to know exactly what to do and which buttons to click in order to make a booking. You also want to maximize your sales possibilities. There are a few useful tools you should think about using to improve the buying experience as well as possibly increase your revenue.
Firstly, you need the right system of the booking buttons. One you should consider as it is very popular in the industry, is Siteminder’s BookingButton. It makes your guests’ experience a lot easier, gives you many additional options you can choose from and works on mobile devices as well as desktops.
Secondly, you should think about adding special offer options to your web page. A good tool for this purpose is Picreel. It makes special offers you customize pop up on the screen when guests want to leave your website. You can tempt them with special offers, additional benefits or discounts to convince them to book a room in your hotel.
Online payment tools
Lastly, when guests decide to book at your hotel, they often expect to be able to pay online. Paying with cash is becoming less popular, and even credit card payments are losing their popularity. People want to do everything quickly – find a hotel, book it and pay for it, all in one sitting. It goes without saying that online payment tools are a must for any entrepreneur displaying business on the Internet.
The most popular of online payment tool is PayPal. It processes millions of transactions each day, operating in almost every country in the world and in nearly 30 different currencies. Alternatives to PayPal include Google Wallet, Authorize.net or Square.
All these tools help you do your work more efficiently so that you can focus on what matters the most – your guests.
About the author
Brought up in Poland, Klaudia Fereńczuk is a journalist and a blogger, with articles published in Business Hotel, MamStartup and more, as well as over 150 blog posts related to the hospitality industry and travel on her account. She focuses mostly on the travel market, with special regard to the Online Travel Agencies.