After a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions, people are preparing to go on holiday this summer as travelling within the United States is becoming safer due to the rollout of vaccines. That being said, international travel is still complicated or even impossible in some countries so most holidays by US citizens this year will be to domestic locations.
The likely uptick in domestic holidays this year will mean more business for hotels in cities and towns around the country. Guests to hotels, whether travelling for business, tourism or visiting family, will more likely find a hotel and book online. For that reason, it is a good idea for a hotel to incorporate technology such as the Internet and online payment systems into its marketing and operations plans if it wants to make the most of the coming holiday season.
If you are the owner or manager of a hotel and would like to ensure your business is making the most of technology and following regulations then here are some useful pieces of advice you can follow.
Use Hotel Management Software
To ensure a high-quality guest experience it is vital to use a computerized hotel management system that provides several key features needed to run a hotel effectively. There is a range of software packages out there so it is probably best to read over some reviews of vacation rental software to get a good idea of which one is most suitable for your hotel. To help you choose the right software package it is worth making a list of the functions it should perform and it can help the business achieve its goals.
Ideally, hotel management software should become a central hub for all hotel operations so the key features and functions often provided include:
- Check-in and check-our processing
- Sales channel manager
- Payment processing
- Connections with external booking platforms
- Recording guest details and profiles
- Processing reservations
- Managing housekeeping and maintenance
- Creating performance reports
Utilize Sales Channels
One feature of hotel management software mentioned above is a sales channel manager, which is a distribution tool employed to sell hotel rooms to multiple different travel agents. The system works on a pooled inventory model so room availability and rates are updated automatically on every channel, making the need to split inventory amongst channels redundant.
Sales channels can be direct such as on a hotel’s website or indirect using third party websites or travel agents. A good mix of direct and indirect sales channels is recommended to increase your chances of getting reservations. There are several indirect sales channels a hotel should be tapping into including global distribution systems, online travel agencies, tour operators and wholesalers.
Get More Bookings With Online Travel Agents
Online travel agencies (OTAs) host digital platforms that allow customers to find and book activities, cars, cruises, flights and hotels from travel suppliers. Making travel arrangements online is now the most frequent method of booking so your hotel must be but fully utilizing as many well-known online booking sites as possible.
OTA platforms usually have thousands or even millions of people shopping around on their site for deals on flights and hotel rooms every day, meaning there are probably a fair few people using their site that are your target audience. You can set up a profile for free on most OTA websites and then tailor your listing and optimize it using location and hotel specific keywords to attract travellers from your target audience. OTA websites also offer market insights and performance tools to help you price your room rates according to current trends.
Make Sure Your Website Is Up-To-Date
An alternative to selling indirectly through travel agents is to sell directly to customers using a hotel’s own website or one belonging to its parent brand. By cutting out the middleman hotels can make more profit and communicate directly with guests to improve customer service.
When designing a website for a hotel there are some considerations to make in the planning phase first, these include listing the required functions and style. One thing to remember is that the majority of time spent surfing the web is done on smartphones and tablets so any website should be set up and optimized for use on mobile devices. A website should also appear near the top of search engine results which can be achieved through search engine optimization in addition to unique content related to your hotel and surrounding area.
Check-In and Out Remotely
Remote check-in and check-out are growing in popularity as it allows the guest to control the check-in online or through a mobile app. The flexibility of this type of booking is a great way of selling empty rooms last minute.
Maintain Strong Wi-Fi
Access to fast and stable Internet is a must for almost everyone wherever they are, and that is especially true when staying in a hotel. Hotel managers should take time to test and upgrade the Internet connections and wi-fi coverage in each room to ensure the network can handle a hotel full of guests in summer all connected at once. It is also good practice to write down the wi-fi password somewhere handy for the guests to see such as on keycards or on the bedside table.
Guest Apps Are a Better Way to Connect With Guests
Developing a custom made smartphone app for guests may be costly and is suitable for larger hotels or hotel chains. The benefits provided by a guest app for a hotel are numerous and include improved access to guest information and preferences, easier reservation tracking, improved staff productivity, increased opportunity for upselling and greater brand loyalty.
Some hotels are seeking to improve their guest experience by incorporating various smart appliances into rooms so guests can control a range of things using their phones such as air conditioning, blinds, lighting, temperature and TV. Not only do smart solutions make a stay more convenient for guests, but it also saves money on energy bills for hotels as appliances are not left running all the time.
The hospitality sector has taken a hit over the past year, however, the summer season is just beginning and travel is about to increase rapidly over the coming months which will surely lead to a sharp increase in hotel bookings. With that in mind, hotel managers should take steps to prepare their businesses for an influx of guests and take time to consider if they could benefit from utilizing more technology to increase sales and improve operations.