So, here it is; 2019. Another new year. Time to pack away the Christmas tree (unless you’re doing the whole ’twelve days’ thing), and start the new year with a bang.
But how do you do that as a busy independent hotelier? With chain hotels continuing to pop up everywhere and brands such as Airbnb redefining guest expectations, what new year’s resolutions should you be making?
The good news? They’re pretty simple and don’t require any immediate action – just a promise to yourself, the hotel and its team that you will make headway on them as 2019 progresses.
Review your hotel tech
Hotel technology evolves at a rapid pace. In fact, it’s so fast-paced that you can be forgiven for lagging behind a little as an independent hotelier.
However, there are a few areas in which you might need to invest if you’re to continue providing a range of services and an experience that befits the modern guest.
Pay particular attention to the following:
- The property management system (PMS): is it web-based, reliable and fully integrated with both your website and the OTAs on which you rely? Does it connect to your other hotel technology such as your POS system?
- In-room guest services and entertainment: you don’t have to spend big here – the simple addition of USB plug sockets might be enough to satisfy the digital needs of your guests, but if budget allows, perhaps 2019 is the year you finally upgrade the in-room TVs to be fully on demand and add complimentary iPads to rooms, complete with a bunch of boredom-busting apps for the duration of guest stays. Have a look at last year’s guest feedback on TripAdvisor to spot areas where you might be lacking.
- The restaurant: can you accept online bookings for your restaurant? If not, you might be missing out on a raft of reservations; people are far more inclined to book tables digitally nowadays.
Schedule some events
Staging events at your hotel is a great way to find new revenue streams.
Advertising yourself as a wedding and conference venue is no longer enough. What about running networking events for local businesses, or cooking competitions hosted by your talented head chef?
Live music, social dining experiences and tie-ins with local events can all be explored this year and might just result in a host of corresponding room bookings and new advocates of your property.
Turn your website into a conversion machine
Hotel websites are no longer simply digital brochures – they’re designed to bring in more bookings for the property; lots more bookings.
They can only do this if they’re set up for conversions in the same way an online store is. And if that sounds a bit cold or lacking in the personal touch for your hotel, you might need to leave some of your preconceptions at the door.
When you buy something on Amazon, it’s hassle-free; they’ve mastered the online shopping experience. The same should go for your hotel’s website. If someone wants to book a room, they should be able to check availability and rates and place their reservation as conveniently as possible.
It should be just as simple on whatever device they have to hand, and fast no matter how weak their connection.
Try out your online booking experience with the mindset of a guest in a hurry for a decent room at a decent rate. If you get frustrated, it’s time to look for a new platform.
Touch base with your OTA reps
Yeah, let bygones by bygones and all that – it’s the new year!
The relationship between independent hotels and OTAs has always been rather tetchy, but OTAs aren’t going anywhere and with January hopefully making you feel more reflective, now is the time to get back in touch with your OTA reps.
If you don’t hear from them regularly, be proactive and seek out their help. For all you know, there could be much better ways to manage your listing and there might even be new tools you can use to optimise your presence on such sites which could result in better placements.
Make 2019 the year you foster a healthy relationship with the OTAs you rely on. Challenge them but accept their help when it’s offered. Combined with a conversion-tastic hotel website (see tip above), this is the best strategy for a stellar online presence that will result in plenty of profitable bookings.
What’s your hotelier new year’s resolution? What have we missed?
Tell us what you’ll be doing this year to bring in more bookings and draw guests away from the big name competition by commenting below!