In order to ensure that your hotel is orderly and organised from an operational perspective then you cannot expect technology to work for you if it has been poorly reviewed online and has negative word of mouth. If you are not generating enough sales, then there are things which you can do in order to improve and enhance your business as a whole, and ensure that you are successful in your endeavours.
The majority of guesthouses still consider online travel portals as something which they think they have got to grips with, but are not really looking after properly. Moving towards an online sales and OTA (Online Travel Agency)-focused mind-set can be a difficult step for many hoteliers used to dealing primarily with offline agents, spending time on their own at the front desk and manning the phones. Adapting to dealing with OTAs successfully requires hotel managers and owners to spend more time behind their laptops than many people are used to.
You might have to pay high commissions to OTAs, but your destination’s search results on every OTA can be some of the largest and most effective marketing platforms for you to be visible on. These search pages are being viewed directly by serious buyers who are actively looking for a hotel in your location, so you have to figure on all possible search results on important OTAs as much as you can, and as highly ranked as possible.
Research has suggested that a decent overall OTA presence not only increases businesses through the use of OTAs, but it also adds to your direct revenues. The convenience which OTAs offer to customers has enabled them to become a centre of huge online traffic, and therefore holds the potential to drive hotel room sales forward. Despite relatively heavy commissions they charge it can be profitable if they are able to process a decent amount of bookings. Larger numbers of room sales could help when it comes to boosting occupancy rates, even when it is not peak season.
Some OTAs may cut down your pricing without prior notice, and not pay out for late cancellations or no-shows, and various other issues. It is equally important to track what kinds of revenues every OTA is providing you with, and whether the business being sent your way is coming due to the OTA’s own organic traffic, or is it simply re-routing traffic which is intended for your establishment.
In India, 97% of bookings are made online as opposed to over the phone. Recent research has found out that most hotels situated in India are merely listing an extremely small inventory of around two rooms only. So if a large family is looking for three rooms but can only find two then they are certain to book elsewhere. If you chose to neglect updating an entire room inventory and sufficed with merely listing a few options, then they never converted. Hotels never actually get a real sense of what they are losing until they begin to witness the positive overall effects when they manage their OTA presence more competently.
Hotel revenue management
should be of paramount importance, as it can considerably improve your business as a whole, and guarantee turnover increases straightaway. Providing a full and detailed room and property description as opposed to giving limited information can boost your hotel’s take-up rate by an impressive 5%, which shows the direct impact of proper management when it comes to listing on room sales.
All OTAs choose to rank hotels by popularity, which is determined by sales being generated by a hotel. If you fail to provide the sufficient volume of room nights, have shabby, substandard visuals showcasing a property and do not update your inventories regularly then this could prove to have detrimental effects. Putting out incomplete descriptions of the services you provide can also negatively impact sales and rankings, so things have to change.
And why suffice at merely listing? You could take things further and expose more inventories, present yourself in a way in which coincides with your brand identity, manage review scores and take a rational look at quoting rates if you really want to get to the top on OTAs. To sum it up succinctly, hoteliers have to fulfil the ‘4 C’s’ in order to make it to the top of an OTA. There are competitive rates, constant availability of rooms, customer reviews and content management.
Managing reviews is just as important as managing hotel operations. Recent studies have revealed that 53% of people said they would not book a hotel which had no reviews on the site, and 87% stated that reviews helped them feel far more confident that they were making the right decision.
Business cards are a fantastic way in which to entice customers and attract interest. A simple line at the back of the card inviting guests to review your hotel can work wonders, as it serves as an effective call-to-action. Using sentences such as “Your Opinion is Valuable to Us” could serve as subtle way of reminding people to submit a review, even if it is just a couple of lines.
You could also have a review form available on the counter for guests to fill in. On check-out, customers could be asked to share their experiences through that form, and it only takes a couple of minutes. Alternatively, since you want reviews posted online, a kiosk located near the front desk can easily be set up, where guests can be asked to post reviews online whilst their check-out details are being processed.
Once a customer has successfully checked out, a personalised e-mail thanking them for their visit and requesting feedback can also serve as an effective marketing tool. Many hotels have used modern-day technology in order to manage customer reviews. Some guesthouses also have in-room iPads, through which visitors can share their opinions with others.
Small and independent properties can find tracking and managing pricing strategies across length of stays and multiple time frames is a daunting and tricky task. Hotels also rarely use revenue management-friendly PMS (Property Management Software), which is more than capable of predicting future traffic, based on competitor tracking and historical data. A lot of hotels are not even using integrated reservation systems, which would enable them to manage their rate strategies across a multitude of channels using only a single interface.
The hospitality sector is extremely competitive, so hotels have to be quick on their feet and think logically in order to remain one step ahead of their closest rivals. Flexible pricing strategies can greatly help sales increase. With the price of technology on the decrease, obtaining a channel manager or yield manager integrated with a productive centralised reservation system is easily within the grasp of smaller hotels. Spending a few pounds on a system which is guaranteed to give business a boost should not be considered an unnecessary expense, but rather an investment.
If you follow these guidelines then you are certain to drive more direct revenue and see profits go through the roof. Just remember to keep things simple, make sure that you are technologically-aware and you will undoubtedly reap the rewards in the process.