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If you are still using Excel sheets to manage your hotel operations, you might want to sit back and take a serious look at all that you stand to lose out on. No, we don’t intend to sound sensational nor is this a hyperbole. But in the age of the cloud, where everything you need as a hotelier is available to you on a cloud based hotel PMS, subscribing to obsolete technology can be detrimental.

Some of the major risks awaiting you are loss of data, breach of data security, wastage of time, etc. And these are not issues you can overlook. So, in the best interest of your hotel operations, it is about time you considered switching to a cloud-based hotel software.

No, don’t blindly take our word for it. You need to be aware of the benefits of a cloud PMS over Excel, so you can take an informed decision and our bet is, you will. Here’s a great article if you want to know more about the advantages of switching to a cloud hotel reservation system.In this article, we will focus on the top five indicators that you need to move from Excel to a cloud-based reservation system.

1. The volume of operations

The volume of your hotel’s operations goes a long way in determining if or not excel is the right option for you. Take into account the number of rooms in your hotel, all the amenities and offerings guests can avail at your hotel, etc. If you are a small-scale B&B or a motel offering no more than a night’s stay for travelers, it is still possible for you to run the show with Excel. But no other type of property can afford to use Excel to run its operations. So, whether you are an independent hotel, a boutique property, a hostel.

2. The number of POSs – resto, gym, spa, activity center

The other important factor that you need to consider if you are still using excel to run your hotel is the number of POS at your property. If your hotel has a restaurant, a gym, a spa, an activity centre, travel desk, or any other source of revenue which is not coming in from your rooms, we strongly urge you to move to a cloud-based Property Management System.

There are several interactions that take place between the front desk and a POS, in a hotel. Without a PMS in place, keeping track of all the transactions made by a guest can prove to be a task. A PMS helps you stay connected and have a single point of reference as it links POSs and front desk. The moment your guest has a meal at the restaurant, the transaction is recorded in the POS. And if the guest has chosen to transfer the restaurant bill to his room, it gets added to the invoice. And it is the same with every POS. You can simplify so many otherwise complicated tasks, by investing in a cloud hotel PMS.

3. Your target audience

You cannot run a business without defining your target audience. Especially in the hospitality business, every property type caters to a particular segment of the consumer base- for example, do you cater to millenials, business travelers, leisure travelers, families, domestic or foreign travelers, etc. Depending on who your target audience is, you will have to define your online messaging, roll out targeted marketing campaigns, etc. And in the digital world, it is impossible to please everyone. You will have to define your niche.

Simply waiting for the “perfect guest” to choose you amidst an ocean of competitors is a huge mistake. You need to get out there and make sure your target audience finds you effortlessly. This is only possible via the internet. Connect with them on social media, run campaigns on Facebook or Instagram and also make sure your reputation online is impeccable. Negative reviews are never good, but you can acknowledge and respond to the reviewer that you would love to invite them again to prove that you’ve worked on their feedback. This builds confidence in prospective guests.

No. Excel cannot help you with any of these activities, which frankly are very basic ways to attract guests in today’s world. You need a PMS, and a well-rounded one in that. One that allows you to integrate with the best channel manager & a reputation management tool, automates emailers, and so on. You need Hotelogix.

4. Dependency on OTAs

Doing things traditionally and not exploring the benefits of technology isn’t going to help you thrive in this dog-eat-dog world. In order to appeal to the global masses, one cannot function without OTAs. As cumbersome as it may be to pay commissions to them, they also connect you to an audience which you otherwise can never get to by yourself. Find out which OTA caters to which geo and sign up with them, so your hotel is easily visible to your international target audience. Stay relevant to your audiences and be present where they are.

If OTAs make an appearance in your “sources of reservation” list, then relying on Excel is impossible. You need a system that updates your inventory and rate across OTAs in real-time lest you fall prey to overbooking. You need a system which alerts you in real-time when a booking is made on an OTA. This two-way sync has to be extremely efficient and this is only possible when you have a channel manager in place. Without a cloud-based hotel software in place, managing all of this manually can be a nightmare. An easily avoidable nightmare, I should add!

5. Competitor analysis

Let me ask you this. If you are still sticking to Excel sheets to run your hotel business, how do you work on your revenue projections? How do you get your accounting in place and how frequently do you generate reports? How many types of reports do you spend time on? What about competitive pricing and business intelligence? Do you have a dedicated staff for all this or do you do this by yourself? Oh, and what’s your strategy for revenue management?

We also work with some of the best-in-class third party tools which you can integrate with, depending on your requirement- business intelligence, revenue management, reputation management, channel managers, etc. Stop living in the past if you wish to succeed in the long-term as a hotelier. You need a cloud PMS to manage your hotel operations and you need it now.

 

This article was originally published on Hotelogix Blog.

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There has been a lot of talk about the pros and cons of on-premise and cloud-based Property Management Systems and have turned out to be the debate of the decade in the hospitality space. With even the leaders in on-premise systems slowly shifting their focus on developing their own cloud-based platforms, it’s safe to say that cloud has captured the industry due to the utility it brings in and the ability to grow in the space.

Just for the record, we are not here to light a match and pick a side to set fire to. Any reference of an on-premise system that I might use in the course of this blog will be only for reference purposes. A majority of chain properties are still stuck on the traditional PMS, AKA the on-premise systems, and to highlight how effective a cloud-based property management system can be, we will cover a few aspects in which the cloud-based system excels.

Better control on group operation:

If you have been looking at cloud systems as incompetent when it comes to managing bigger properties, chances are that you have surveyed systems that were built for smaller hotels, or you’ve been grossly misinformed.

Having a cloud system ensures that you can manage several properties from anywhere in the world. Meaning, you do not have to be in the property to access the data that you need. Centralized control, as we call it, will help you manage any of your properties from any location, provided you have the required access rights.

Modify room rates, keep an eye on inventory or access reports of any of your properties centrally. Cloud systems give you a bird’s eye view of all your properties and give you the freedom to customize operations based on your needs.

Doubles up as a stellar Management Information System (MIS):

Waiting on reports from the individual properties under your group should be a thing of the past. Be it a single property or the group, a cloud-based system enables you to generate reports remotely. It gives your clear picture on property-wise or group-wise performance.

Guest Profiling:

It is another feature to help offer your guests the hospitality they crave for. Personalise your guests’ experience based on their spending patterns and preferences. Engage with repeat guests on a more personal level to win their side and have them visit your hotel as a preference. Upgrade their stay packages and nurture them, so they become loyal guests who keep coming back for more.

Customizable as per your needs:

Cloud-based systems bring in a wide range of integrations to help you better in every aspect of your business.

  1. Revenue Management: Integrate with the best revenue management systems that will give you insights on how to price your rooms and the allocation of inventory, giving you an edge over the competition.
  2. Reputation: In today’s age, a major differentiator between a good hotel and a great one is the way in which a hotel maintains its reputation. What’s visible to the outside world is what customers will think of your hotel. Integrate with reputation management systems to drive up your online reputation and score.
  3. Loyalty Programs: Having a chain of hotels and not having a loyalty program in place for your guests to take advantage of, simply means that you are losing out on a lot of business. Loyalty programs integrated with your PMS to drive these benefits and manage it centrally could be your first step to take maximum advantage of the situation.

Cost Saving:

For a chain of hotels, when it comes to a cloud-based system, there is a lot of money to be saved. For starters, with an on-premise system, you’re looking at it as a capital expenditure. The need for servers in your hotel and the licensing cost involved in using this system will be a major chunk of your expenses. Moreover, a dedicated IT department and the additional cost for every other module, is just going to drive that price through the roof.

On the other hand, the cloud system gives you a pricing model more on the lines of operational expenditure. There is no need to spend on a server and on additional licensing fees. The pricing is subscription-based and the system can be accessed with a PC/ laptop and a stable internet connection. The advantage here is that you only pay for the features you use and not for the additional add-ons that come with an on-premise system that might not be of any use to you.

Unlimited POS:

Setting up unlimited Points of Sale is another advantage of a cloud-based system. Be it your restaurant, spa or your gift shop, set up any number of POS outlets to increase non-room revenue your hotel is earning. What would otherwise cost you per POS module, on a cloud system comes at the fraction of the cost.

Security:

Now, this could be a most debated point, but just because your data is hosted on a cloud server, it does not compromise your hotel’s data security. On the other hand, a cloud system backs up your data on a minute-to-minute basis, ensuring none of your data is lost in case there is any downtime. With dedicated teams working on securing your data, chances are that these cloud systems are likely to be more equipped in detecting data breaches and thereby, tackling the problems with better efficiency than your internal IT department.

Accessibility:

This should be one of the biggest advantages of owning a cloud system- it is accessible from anywhere in the world on any device that has an internet connection. The real advantage is that all the data is accessible in real-time. Though some on-premise systems claim to give you data in real-time, they will never really be in real-time because of the time taken to upload the data from any one system to finally reach your hands.

Here are just a few of the benefits that a cloud-based system has for chain properties. The fact is that cloud systems are growing in popularity purely because of the level of customizability they cater to hotels and all the additional features they offer.

Have more questions on the hows and whys of a cloud-based system? Drop a comment or get in touch with us and we’d be glad to help you out with it.

Interested to know how a cloud-based PMS can technologically help an independent hotel? Read more here.

This article was originally published on Hotelogix Blog.

Have you ever wondered why OTAs give you more bookings? Why the average online hotel booking engine conversion rate stands at below 2% (Source) despite hoteliers spending on marketing and SEO activities?

The answer is clear and simple – OTAs help potential bookers with all relevant information they would want while making a reservation. This means that your hotel website does not help convert lookers into bookers. So, how do you plan to address this issue? Have you ever tried to optimize its capabilities?

If not, let’s see how you can get more out of your online hotel booking engine by adopting 4 simple booking engine hacks for hotels as explained below.

1. Adopt a highly responsive website with an integrated web booking engine

Now that you know that only 2 out of 100 visitors make hotel reservation via the hotel website, you must work towards having a website that has all the information a potential guest would look for. You need to ensure the real-time visibility of room availability and rates on your website. Your hotel descriptions and images play a major role in this effort and all the pages should load in as little time as possible.

You must offer them a seamless booking experience. For your visitors, the booking process should not be a time-consuming affair. Don’t compel them to fill out every minute detail while making the reservation. It also pays to make your website mobile-optimized as today’s guests love to make hotel bookings using their smartphones. Upon booking completion, your guest should get an instant confirmation. This helps them believe that you will honour the booking.

In short, you have to enhance the quality of your website and its user experience.

2. Implement multi-language and multi-currency features

Allow your potential guest to read your website content and know about you in their own language. You can do it at least for customers of your targeted countries. Let them see the room rates and such details in their currency, too. This would help you to broaden your market reach, to instil confidence in your potential guests and ultimately to create an edge over your direct competitors.

3. Implement virtual tour and promote guest reviews

Allow your website visitors to take a virtual tour of your property. It can be done when they are on your website. It would work well for you if they get to explore your property even before their arrival. Don’t forget to promote positive guest reviews to attract and influence potential guests’ booking decision.

4. Offer ‘best rate guarantee’

Offer ‘best rate guarantee’ and the same should be in parity across all your other distribution channels. Also, you need to ensure that the rates you offer on your website are competitive enough against hotels that are your direct competitors. Additionally, to attract early-bird bookers, you must offer them an advance purchase rate. For example, you can run this campaign in October to attract more guests during end of the December – “Book now with us and avail 20% off on final bill during your stay between 25th – 31st Dec”.

Most importantly, be loud and clear that their credit card details will be safe as you have implemented a secured online payment processing gateway.

If you plan to generate more direct bookings to stay profitable, you must look at the important features of a booking engine that you plan to integrate with your brand website. Once implemented, don’t forget to analyse how your online hotel booking engine is working for you. To start with, you can review a cloud-based Hotel PMS that comes with a smart hotel booking system.

Let us know if you have tried any other hacks that have worked well for you. We would love to hear from you.

This article was originally published in HotelNewsResource

Implementing the best procedures and practices of revenue management at a hotel to increase overall revenue is not an easy task. Especially, when the market is as fiercely competitive as it is today. Smart hotel revenue management is all about how efficiently you locate new revenue opportunities, optimize inventory/rate distribution and how well you analyze competitor pricing strategy, plus local market demand. Moreover, it also depends on the extent to which you understand the importance of hotel business intelligence, on decisions pertaining to revenue management. However, even the smallest of miscalculations can backfire and sabotage all your hard labor towards maximizing revenue at your hotel.

Here are top 5 mistakes you must avoid –

1. No strong inventory distribution plan

Not having a strong and well-structured inventory distribution plan across OTAs, GDSs, hotel website, etc can result in inefficient revenue management strategy. Inefficient inventory management leads to issues like overbooking, double booking, under booking, etc. These issues lead to other problems like guest dissatisfaction, loss of revenue and business opportunities. Additionally, not monitoring sales channels’ performance is also not ideal when we talk about hotel revenue management.

You must know which sales channels are working for you, in terms of giving you more revenue. You must understand this clearly – it is mandatory that you have a right strategy in place to drive more direct booking via your hotel website, while striking the right balance with your OTA partners. You also cannot ignore the large presence of offline travel agents and must work with the leading GDSs.

In short, it is a must to have a strong inventory distribution plan, both online and offline, in order to increase your RevPAR.

2. Ignoring guest service, their feedback & online reputation

You really cannot ignore the importance of guest service, when you aim to improve your hotel’s revenue. You simply cannot go wrong here. Why? Here is the explanation – if you can increase your reputation score just by 1%, you will be in a position to increase your hotel’s ADR by almost 7%. Moreover, increasing your reputation score will also help you to increase your occupancy by 1.4%. Now, this is what you want to achieve, right?

Best-in-class guest services increase their (guests’) happiness; they become your loyal customer and they give you repeat business. They also write positive feedback about your property on various review sites and on social media platforms. This helps you improve your online reputation and rating. And with an enhanced online reputation/rating, you will be certainly in a position to increase your room price.

3. Making assumptions, focus on wrong metrics

On what basis can you come up with an occupancy forecast and room pricing, if you are not in a position to analyze local market demand? How would you beat the competition if you don’t track their pricing? To do all these with ease, you must understand the importance of business intelligence in revenue management.

Key metrics on such aspects will surely help you to analyze and increase ADR while improving the occupancy. As you know that higher ADR is the key to your hotel’s profitability, too much of focus on ARR or occupancy might not help you in the long run.

4. Not adopting occupancy-based dynamic pricing

Hoteliers’ failure to change room rates is another major mistake they commit. While having a static rate will weaken your hotel position, occupancy based dynamic pricing can help you to reach your full revenue potential. Set pre-defined rates for different occupancy levels. For instance, a offer a 10% lower rate when occupancy is at 70% and roll out a discount of 20% when occupancy goes below 50%. This helps you generate more demand during off seasons, and earn more revenue when demand is on higher side.

5. Not adopting a smart cloud-based PMS

This is the most serious mistake that hoteliers must avoid in today’s highly competitive business environment. With the absence of a smart cloud-based PMS, you cannot –

  1. Have a strong inventory distribution plan
  2. Manage guest reviews and improve reputation score/rating
  3. Have KPIs at your disposal to take data-driven decisions
  4. Apply occupancy-based dynamic pricing

Additionally, a cloud PMS comes integrated with a revenue management solution. Without this, you cannot create relational rates and implement multiple rates & types support in a single stay.

In short, with the help of a revenue management solution, you can optimize GOPPAR (Gross Operating Profit) and NRevPAR (Net Revenue per Available Room) at your hotel while offering competitive yet attractive rates to your guests.

This article was originally published on Hotelogix Blog.