Hotel Sales Marketing: Mistakes That Could Cost You, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1 , here are more tips to keep your hotel sales marketing plan from running off the rails.

 

Website Wars

A large and ever-growing number of customers are using online booking engines to quickly and easily compare hotels, amenities, and prices, but that doesn’t mean you can pay less attention to your own hotel’s booking functionality.

Web-savvy customers, after finding your hotel on a popular site like kayak.com or expedia.com, will still pop out to your site for more information. Ideally, you’d like customers to book directly through your site, so once you have them on your site, give them a reason to stay.

  • Greet home page visitors with a clear, concise, one-sentence reason to book with you. Pretend you’re on an elevator and you have precisely thirty seconds to describe what’s great about your hotel.
  • Offer deals they won’t find on a huge, impersonal, catchall booking site.
  • Make sure your web designers know how to optimize a version of your site for mobile devices.
  • Test, re-test, and test some more to ensure the web site’s booking process is easy and works flawlessly.
  • Remember your hotel isn’t an island unto itself. Potential customers want to know what’s nearby in terms of restaurants, entertainment, services, transportation, and attractions.
  • Regularly examine the website’s analytics (information that tracks how visitors get to your site, what they do while they’re there, and where they go when they leave), and adjust the site’s functionality and content accordingly.

 

Failing to Keep Testing Your Limits

Sticking to the same old routine just because it works is a good way to watch your valued repeat customers get lured away by competitor’s new-and-shiny. Stay on top of industry trends, but don’t just jump on every passing marketing and technology bandwagon. Consider carefully what will work for your hotel and incorporate changes logically into your ever-evolving business plan.

Stay tuned for more tips in the next installment of this four-part series!

Avoiding costly hotel sales marketing blunders is easy with SmarteHotels.com. Give us a shout – we’ll help you get the word out!

Hotel Sales Marketing: Costly Mistakes, Part 1

No hotel sales marketing plan ever rolls out smoothly, but there are a few things to remember to avoid making common mistakes that could cost you customers.

Show Customers What They’re Getting

Don’t just wax poetic in a wordy description of your hotel’s rooms. The web is a visual medium, so more pictures and fewer words, please.

  • Provide accurate pictures of the class of room in which the customer will be staying. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises to bring the customer storming to the front desk with complaints.
  • Prominently list the amenities included with each room, such as complimentary coffee/tea, Internet access (and indicate whether it’s free or not), environmental controls, bedding quality, hairdryers, window views, and security features.
  • Provide the ability for the customer to book directly from each room description, or quickly navigate to look at other types of rooms. The more clicks a customer must make to find what they want, the higher their frustration level rises—and the more likely they’ll simply leave your site to look elsewhere.
  • Make pricing levels clear and easy to understand. Don’t make them click through most of the booking process before learning what they’re going to be paying.

You Can’t Put Lipstick on a Pig

No amount of slick marketing copy and pretty pictures will make up for a customer’s first impression when they walk through your hotel’s doors. In other words, if your hotel isn’t located right on the beach, don’t show pictures of surf and sun. Don’t advertise a free full breakfast then provide only doughnuts and cold cereal. Staff members that don’t provide the level of service you’re aiming for should be shown the door. Work on raising the bar in terms of service and amenities, and focus your marketing efforts on what your hotel does have and what it does well.

Stay tuned for more avoidable hotel sales and marketing mistakes in future articles.

SmarteHotels.com can put your hotel sales marketing efforts on the right track. Contact us today!

Hotel Room Pricing: Discount Strategies That Work, Part 2

In the conclusion of this two-part series, let’s look at a few factors that help you decide which hotel room pricing strategies are best for your business.

Picking the right pricing strategy at the right time isn’t as simple as pouring on the discounts every time there’s a hiccup in the economy or room demand dips. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer discounts. Discounts are always an important part of your overall hotel room pricing strategy.

 

Room Price Segmentation
Segmented room prices attract certain customers to certain types of rooms at a particular time. For example, you know that a range of customers will all want to stay in your hotel during peak tourist season. Within that overall group, some of them are willing to pay more for a room that faces the ocean. Others prefer to pay less for ocean view. Still others are content to pay even less for a landside room.
In the same vein, offer discounts to those customer segments the same way. Reward brand loyalty rather than brand switching. For example, after a landside room customer books for the third time, offer them a free room upgrade to ocean view at an off-peak date the next time they return.

 

Pay Attention to Costs
Whenever possible, avoid using commission-based distribution channels to fill rooms during low-demand dips. Social media is a great way to get in touch with customers directly, and attract them to your website for direct booking.

 

Positioning Within the Market
How do you want your hotel to be perceived among your competitors? If low pricing is your only focus, then your aim is going to be having lower prices than your competitors. However, this strategy can backfire if your goal is to position your hotel as upscale/luxury. Discounting prices too deeply could have a negative effect on your hotel’s image, because the prevailing attitude among customers is that you get what you pay for.

 

Know Your Costs
You must have an accurate picture of your fixed and variable costs, and what it takes to cover your overhead and still turn a profit. This is no time to guesstimate.

 

Economic or Political Upheaval? Don’t Panic.
While it’s important to stay informed on local, regional, and even international conditions, it’s equally important not to overreact to gusts of economic and political winds. Stay focused on your target customers’ travel patterns. They may change, they may not, but if they do, keep your pricing strategy aimed at adding value for those customers, not just cutting prices.

Make SmarteHotels.com a strategic part of your hotel room pricing and marketing plans. Contact us today!

What’s New in Hotel Revenue Management Systems—Part 2

Continuing our look at What’s New in Hotel Revenue Management Systems, this time we cover two more stars on the software horizon, both traditional and cloud-based. Whatever your management style, there’s a software package that fits it perfectly. Even when you feel like changing things up a bit, these software systems help you keep from running off track in your quest to maximize your bottom line.

Here are a few hotel revenue management systems creating a buzz right now:

i-Rates
i-Rates is starting a revolution aimed at increasing your hotel’s bottom line. This innovative hotel revenue management system is based on what developers call “reinforcement learning.”

It’s almost like you have an intelligent being learning your hotel facility, your management style, and your customers to make sure every one of your rooms is competitively priced 365 days a year. You can adjust the degree of automation to allow for maximum flexibility, plus you can input your own data, which the system will then take into account for this and future dates. Any room rate changes are automatically transmitted to all hotel global distribution channels.

Duetto

Another hotel revenue management system on the cutting edge, Duetto saves your hotel from the dreaded “room rate slide” that happens all too often when managers figure that simply offering cheaper rooms will draw more customers. Duetto helps protect your brand and your bottom line by keeping your focus squarely where it belongs – your target customers.

Using algorithms based on past history, the software quickly gives an accurate picture of future demand, allowing you to keep your target customers filling rooms during peak-demand periods while attracting new customers with special (but not artificially low) pricing during off-peak periods.

Unlike some other hotel revenue management software programs, it’s cloud-based so there’s nothing to download, upgrades are automatic and free, and the monthly fee you pay is often earned back in the form of a healthier bottom line.

Some of its productivity-enhancing features include block allocation management, event tracking, reporting of competitors’ rates, and web shopping data.

Let Smart eHotels™ help you choose the best hotel revenue management system for your hotel. Contact us today!

What’s New in Hotel Revenue Management Systems—Part 1

Hotel revenue management (or yield management) is the lifeblood of every hotel, small independent to international chain. It’s also an eternal source of stress for hotel managers, even those who are good at it.

These days, though, you don’t have to spend hours poring over spreadsheets, punching a calculator, or consulting a crystal ball. Modern hotel revenue management software systems have taken out much of the guesswork while retaining the ability to customize for your unique facility.

Here are a few hotel revenue management systems creating a buzz right now:

Frontdesk Anywhere

These days, it’s all about the cloud, and hotel revenue management software developers are aiming for “cloud nine” when it comes to making your job easier and more mobile.

One of Frontdesk Anywhere’s strongest features is its ability to integrate hotel revenue management and hotel global distribution channel management into one seamless application. The software keeps an eye on room availability, and analyzes all available data to assign the up-to-the-minute optimum room rate in a snap. It also covers all the bases: if the room rate changes on one distribution channel, it automatically hits the web to make sure room rates are consistent on all channels.

There’s also a social media app that allows potential customers to find your hotel and book a room – right from Facebook. Desktop, laptop, tablet, or smart phone, Frontdesk Anywhere has it covered.

IDeaS Revenue Solutions

IDeaS seeks to help small chain or independent hotel managers to maximize revenue on each and every room night. No more giving in to the temptation to “say yes to the guest”—any guest—just to fill up your hotel. Tapping into the most up-to-date data available, plus razor-sharp data analysis and uncannily accurate forecasting, IDeaS helps you bring the right guests through the doors: guests who are prepared to pay the right price for the right room.

This hotel revenue management system offers the manager a choice of room rate solutions, letting the manager choose the best one based on an instinctive knowledge of the big picture, while leaving the hard-core number crunching to science-based algorithms.

While the software is easy to learn and use, IDeaS doesn’t just send you a package and leave you to plug and play. Real live consultants can come to your facility to help you customize the software to your needs.

Tune in next time for a look at two more hotel revenue management systems: i-Rates and Duetto!

Smart eHotels helps independent and small hotel chains maximize their GDS and sales; contact our experienced team of hotel marketers today!

Hotel Revenue Management Systems: How to Choose the Right One

During our series on Yield Management Strategies, we covered the basics using simple, easy-to-understand examples. As we emphasized, though, if you’ve been running your small or independent hotel for any length of time, you know how often reality manages to throw a monkey wrench into the best-laid strategies.

Control Issues

A good, automated hotel revenue management system is designed to take almost every variable into account and show you the best course of action. Depending on how hands-on you like to be, you can choose from a couple different types of systems:

  • “Decision” Systems
    A decision system takes your input based on the four-step revenue management cycle, and automatically takes the reins to deploy the best course of action in your central reservation system (CRS, also known as a global distribution system, or GDS). Once you hit “go,” you don’t have to lift a finger.
  • “Recommendation” Systems
    A recommendation system stops short of choosing and deploying the best course of action. It will show you a list of possible choices, leaving the final decision and input into the CRS up to you.

In general, the recommendation system requires more time, training, and monitoring than the decision system.

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Another consideration is that there is no one yield or hotel revenue management system that will exactly fit how you do things at your small or independent hotel. Whichever one you choose may require you to move some of your engrained business practices out of a rut, but don’t worry; it’s good to shake things up once in a while. The effort it takes to adjust and streamline your business practices to ensure the system works for you is well worth it.

Cha-ching?

A revenue or yield management system is designed to, of course, increase revenue. Increasing revenue involves more than manipulating room prices, though. Adjusting your hotel operations to maximize the effectiveness of the automated system has its own set of positive impacts on your bottom line, just as measurably as the numbers on the computer screen. Make sure you take these collateral effects into account.

Culture clash?

Once the culture within a business is engrained, it can be a challenge to change, even if you’re lucky enough to have a staff sent from business heaven. When choosing a yield management system, look at your existing culture and envision how your staff will handle the training, installation and support processes required to make the system run smoothly and consistently.

The best yield management system in the world won’t work if your employees don’t feel like they’re part of the integration process. When you take an honest look at your staff, you probably already know who’s going to jump in with both feet and who might dig their heels in. Keeping this in mind will help you figure out the best way to approach the training process.

Chain Reaction

An added benefit of implementing a good, automated revenue or yield management system is the ability to more easily coordinate and access data from more than one property. If you’re the owner of a small, independent hotel chain, this is a priceless plus!

Caution Signs

There are a couple of common mistakes to avoid when transitioning to an automated revenue or yield management system.

  • There is such a thing as too much upselling. As discussed in our Yield Management Strategies series, one way to optimize demand is to discount only a limited number of rooms, and when they’re reserved, the rest of your rooms are regular price. Be careful with this practice, though; if it’s overused, you could get a reputation for using “bait and switch” tactics.
  • Relying on an automated system can lead to complacency. The temptation is to let the system make all your room pricing decisions, but the system isn’t keeping an eye on your competition for you. The system may be telling you not to sell rooms below a certain rate, but what is your competition doing? If they are selling rooms in that rate class, they’re going to cut into your market share.

Properly used, an automated revenue management system will provide the feedback you need to improve your pricing strategy. It will show you how to raise potential revenues in ways you may not have discerned before—but it’s not a substitute for your business experience and gut instinct.

Are you ready to get started with hotel revenue management strategies custom-designed for your small or independent hotel? Call us today!