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Hotel management: A full guide

  Posted in Resources

hotel management

Within the hospitality industry, hotel management is not one concept, but many tied together under one umbrella.

Successful hotel management is about being able to adapt and meet challenges within a range of roles and responsibilities. Placing yourself on a scale of personal growth is especially important for a hotel manager.

There are always new strategies, traveller preferences, or industry technologies emerging to keep track of. Even within the hotel industry, new roles are always being created that will affect the way one manages their property; so it pays to have your finger on the pulse.

This blog will take you through the major considerations to keep in mind regarding hotel management.

Table of contents

What is hotel management?

Hotel management is really about successfully overseeing every operation of the business to ensure consistent growth and development. This can involve the management of anything related to the hotel industry and requires knowledge of distribution strategy, finance and accounts, customer service, staff management, marketing, catering management, hotel administration and more.

A nailed down definition of hotel management is that it’s:
‘A field of business and a study that tends itself to the operational aspects of a hotel as well as a wide range of affiliated topics. Such as: Accounting, administration, finance, information systems, human resource management, public relations, strategy, marketing, revenue management, sales, change management, leadership, gastronomy and more.’

In no way should any of these aspects be treated as ‘set and forget’. Hotel management is about constantly evaluating performance isin every facet of the business and making necessary adjustments.

It can take time to get everything right and as we can see there’s a lot to be aware of. There are many skills you may already possess, others you learn along the way and in some cases, these functions may require specialists. If resources and budget allow, hire staff that can provide the knowledge for you, but even if you don’t have the luxury of hiring a full team of staff, it’s not impossible to run a successful small hotel business, as you’ll see in this guide.

Hotel management importance

The purpose of managing a hotel is to successfully establish a constant flow of travellers and guests to your property throughout the year, while also showcasing the wide variety of services and products. Through marketing strategies, you’re able to highlight how it benefits visiting guests and with innovative business strategies, you’re able to drive quality leads.

Ultimately effective hotel management will not only ensure your hotel stays in business, but is able to profit and grow over time. Think of the hotel as an ecosystem that will get healthier the better you manage it. As your hotel becomes more successful you can upgrade and charge higher rates, pay staff higher wages, and create an experience that guests want to come back for.

Hotel operations management

The day to day operations of a hotel are pretty widespread and on any given day, you could be looking at a range of areas. A core aspect of hotel management is about managing your room inventory and making sure the occupancy rate is where you’d like it to be. However, you could also be ensuring that everything is in order for your guests needs or organising staff and cleaning schedules.

Inventory and revenue in hotel operations management

Effective inventory management for hotels involves both the creation and management of demand, as well as maximising returns. The investment behind a hotel is tied to room inventory and the returns can only be gained from selling those rooms optimally.

Here are some areas to look at to aid your hotel inventory management strategy:

  • Pricing

By knowing how much and when to drive prices up during high peak periods and lowering prices to ensure rooms are rented during low peak periods, hotels can maximise their return.

  • Distribution

Hotels generally advertise their rooms through multiple channels to optimise reach and promote sales, such as online travel agencies.

  • Market segmentation

Being aware of your market and the variable preferences, demands and affordability of different demographics are paramount to understanding how to price and distribute your room sales across the various channels.

Revenue management is another huge part of your hotel operations, with the main business goal focused on how to get more money coming in.

Smart revenue management and pricing strategies are needed if you want to optimise your Average Daily Rate (ADR). Below are some considerations that can help maximise your hotel revenue management strategies:

  • Packages, promotions and extras

Packages are any rate that pairs the accommodation with an add-on; it could be free breakfast, free parking, a ticket to a local event/attraction or even an airline ticket. It’s important to make sure your packages offer a unique experience.

Promotions are special rates that can change depending on:

– The season or holiday period;
– If the guest is a VIP; or,
– You want to capitalise on an event.
– You can get even more specific by offering things like mobile-only promotions.

Extras are an added expenditure that guests will only realise they want during the booking process.

This might include items like champagne and chocolate stocked in their room, shuttle services from the airport, or activities like exercise classes.

  • Events and tours

Selling tickets to local events, tours or offering car rental is a good point-of-sale opportunity to increase your revenue per customer, as well as providing better guest experience satisfaction.

  • Sell your hotel products

If you offer your guests the chance to buy full size products of your complimentary amenities, such as shampoo, conditioners and soap bars or even bathrobes and beach towels, art pieces, linen and so on, it can drive extra revenue into your hotel.

  • Referrals and return business

If your guests give you positive feedback on completion of their stay, encourage them to share their experience with family and friends, online review sites and on social media to drive more bookings and brand awareness.

You could also provide guests with a promotion code for a discount on their next booking with you. This not only encourages repeat business but also helps your hotel keep a consistent occupancy rate.

  • Accommodate flexible travellers

Some travellers don’t have a set itinerary or try to keep some flexibility with their schedule; take this opportunity by offering guests a discount for an additional night’s stay to encourage them to stay longer, helping raise your occupancy and incremental revenue.

Mistakes to avoid in hotel operations management

Everyone, by virtue of being human, makes mistakes. Some mistakes have worse consequences than others and depending on the industry, backlash can range from minor to cataclysmic, not only impacting you but your customers as well.

In the hospitality industry almost everything revolves around the customer and it just so happens they’re the quickest party to point out any flaws. There’s also plenty of times where you might simply not have not optimised your hotel operations accordingly and fail to get the most out of your business.

We’ve listed our top ten common errors to avoid.

1. Failing to provide basic contact information
A beautiful looking website with a fancy design and stunning features means nothing to the customer if they can’t find your contact details easily, such as an address or phone number on the homepage.

Travellers have all kinds of queries, some of which are easier discussed over a call for instant clarification.Other times, people just prefer to book over the phone, so having contact details accessible is imperative.

2. Website scarecrows – autoplay videos and music
Many people book holidays between the hours of 9am – 5pm i.e work hours. The last thing they need is for their computer to start blasting commercials or music around the office. The first thing they’ll do is close your website and it’s unlikely they’ll return.

3. Poor use of social media
It’s great to use social media as a marketing avenue but it’s important you use it in the right way. You want to ensure you use the platforms as another path to direct traffic your website and booking pages, not away from them. A common mistake hoteliers make is sending website visitors away to their social media channels immediately after a visitor has landed on the homepage.

You need to think about how many people are realistically going to be coming back once they’ve been redirected to YouTube for instance.

4. Poor quality photos
There’s really no point in investing in a great website design if the photos you integrate into the theme are lacking in quality. Travellers want to see what they’re paying for and if the image is grainy, blurry or poorly framed, they won’t be racing to make a booking.

Paying for a professional photographer is worth every penny and you should also be updating your images every couple of years (or every time you refresh your site).

5. Downloads for simple information
No one enjoys having to download a PDF to their phone or computer and it just leads to poor user experience. If a traveller wants to view the menu of your hotel restaurant for example, they should be able to do it on your website. Making them download documents is most likely going to steer users away from a conversion.

6. Connecting to the wrong distribution channels
When you connect to online travel agents manually or via a channel manager, it’s still important to do some research. You have to look beyond the four or five biggest channels and find partners that most suit your hotel’s target market and brand positioning.

7. Ignoring the potential of the local area
For guests, it’s not just about booking a hotel room; they’re paying for an experience delivered by the destination. It would be a mistake to not take advantage of this. Make sure you partner with local businesses and run promotions and packages around local events and attractions.

8. Ignoring feedback (positive and negative)
Reviews are one of the most important aspects to hotel management. Customer satisfaction and brand reputation are vital if you want to keep the bookings coming in and build customer relationships.

The worst thing you can do is stay silent online when people leave reviews and feedback on sites like TripAdvisor or your social media pages. You need to respond diligently to both positive and negative reviews.

9. Not factoring in seasonality
The price people are prepared to pay for their hotel room will depend on the supply and demand trends over time. Seasonality matters and you’ll have to change rates a number of times throughout the year to reflect buying behaviour and market conditions. This forms an integral part of your sales and marketing plan when combined with date and timing release of packages and promotions.

10. Poor quality housekeeping
One of the most common complaints from guests is about dirty rooms or general uncleanliness of the hotel. There should never be any shortcutting when it comes to housekeeping and cleaning. Not only is it a healthy and safety issue, but you open yourself up to a flood of negative reviews.

Of course, there are plenty of other pitfalls your hotel may face, so you have to be constantly diligent and find ways to optimise your processes, reducing the risk of mistakes that could cost you money.

Hotel restaurant management

Hotel restaurant management involves overseeing the multiple food and beverage operations within a hotel, which can be an integral component to the overarching hotel experience.

Managing a hotel restaurant can be a more complex operation, as it might mean several restaurants in a property are functioning under one system. Hotels will need to ensure restaurant operations and service is seamless across multiple areas and locations. Additionally, your hotel restaurant management will focus on two types of customers: hotel guests and outside guests. These two types of guests, while similar, will also have very different needs.

This means, for the hospitality industry, two primary things to be addressed; people want a nice place to sleep and a nice place to eat. Most of the time, hotel restaurants contribute as a solid driver of revenue and an integral part of the hotel’s identity. It’s ability to help market and sell your hotel should not be underestimated.

As we know, managing a hotel can be an extremely complex and time-consuming task. The same can be said of running a successful restaurant, so combining both might seem like a daunting task. While there’s definitely some risks involved in such an enterprise, there’s also the opportunity for rich rewards at your hotel.

Hotel restaurant operations

Not only does a successful hotel restaurant have to serve and please guests at your property, it also has to stand out on its own as a dining option for anyone in the local area. This is because many guests will want to explore the city and all the options available to them.

If you can’t convince your guests to stay in for a meal, you’ll have to branch out and attract other paying patrons. In the long run, the initial path of awareness of your hotel through the restaurant may lead to some diners deciding to make a night of it booking a room directly through your front desk or can lead to travellers booking your hotel on their next trip.

For this to succeed, the quality of your product has to be high. Your hotel restaurant has to individualise itself and offer a comprehensive dining experience. Things to consider include:

  • Space
    How big will your restaurant be, relative to your hotel?
  • Staff
    How many patrons can you serve and how many extra staff will you need to oversee this?
  • Menu
    Will you create a menu that caters to all with varying options or tailor it as a unique dining experience. No matter what route you choose, make sure it’s in line with who you expect to enter your restaurant.
  • Packages
    Giving guests deals and discounts to dine at your hotel’s restaurant when they book a room directly with you can help increase restaurant foot traffic and overall revenue for your property.
  • Bookings
    It may be worth reserving some tables for your own customers. If a guest walks down to eat and the restaurant is booked out by people not staying at the hotel, the response may be less than favourable.

One issue that’s cause for concern is if your restaurant is receiving poor reviews. It could turn people off booking a room, no matter how amazing the rest of your hotel is. If it looks like there is minimal effort in the restaurant, travellers could assume the same for your whole business and look elsewhere.

The same applies for your hotel management; if your hotel exhibits a poor experience and occupancy is low, your restaurant could also be impacted, especially if it relies solely on business from outside the hotel walls. So, it’s imperative your hotel and restaurant work in harmony to triumph in your overall management strategy.

Hotels and restaurants both form a large part of the hospitality industry and customer service is vital to both. These businesses survive on positive customer satisfaction because of the public exposure they’re always open to. Guests are only too eager to share stories of their holiday or dining experience – both good and bad.

Different types of operations in hospitality

1. Food and Beverages
The food and beverage sector is the largest segment of the hospitality industry and is integrated in many ways.
Quick service establishments engage in offering snack foods, catering businesses and restaurants themselves can either lean towards a more casual take-away experience or fine-dining. It also functions within other businesses; bowling alleys, cinema, hotels.

When a restaurant is part of a hotel, services provided can enhance the guest experience through excellent food and first-class customer service.

2. Travel and Tourism
Tourism is different from hospitality as it functions to encourage people to travel in which they can spend money on other hospitality services. The travel and tourism sector relates to services that help move people from place to place, such as buses, cabs, planes, trains etc.

Other types of operations in hospitality do rely on the success of the travel and tourism sector.

3. Accommodation & Lodging
The accommodation sector encompasses a broad range of lodging options from boutique hotels, hostels, caravan sites to luxurious resorts and campgrounds. Businesses that provide a place to stay for one or more nights are part of the sector in the hospitality industry.

This type of operation management market to other market segments based on location and target audience group. This can include business people, long-stay travellers, budget travellers and backpackers, even special travellers such as people working with the government, airlines, and military.

4. Entertainment and Recreation
Recreation includes any activity that people participate in for rest, relaxation or enjoyment. Businesses that provide activities for rest, relaxation and enjoyment have the aim to refresh a person’s body and mind.

Entertainment businesses, which can include cinemas, theatre, attractions of special interest such as zoos and museums, spectator and participatory sports are all parts of the recreation business. This industry heavily relies on consumers having disposable income.

Aligning marketing and operation strategies

To improve and develop the way your hotel is managed, you have to consider every aspect, seeing where you can save time and money to increase efficiency. Even small changes can reap big rewards over the course of a financial year.

Within the food sector of the hospitality industry, there’s plenty of opportunity to do so.

Here are our top five tips to make help your hotel’s operation management success:

1. Strike a balance between class and convenience
For guests already staying at your hotel, your restaurant should be a quick and convenient place to get a meal. They may not want to spend too much money nor spend too much time waiting for food, especially if they have other plans. On the other hand, outside diners only experiencing the restaurant may be expecting first-class ambience, food, and service.

To keep everyone happy, you’ll need to think about offering a simple but delicious menu that can be eaten in a comfortable setting and also promotes social interaction.

2. Give your restaurant its own website
While it should certainly be featured on your hotel website, a dedicated restaurant website can help maximise revenue and potentially drive extra traffic through to your hotel via links. Cross-referencing both lines of business will improve your SEO and help maximise conversions and direct bookings.

Be sure to feature large high-resolution images and videos to showcase your food and decor.

3. Create a social media page for your restaurant
If your hotel restaurant has its own website it stands to reason it should have its own Instagram or Facebook page too; this is especially true if regular events are hosted. You can inform followers of live music nights, wine tasting activities, or happy hours, as well as post pictures of these experiences.

4. Offer deals and discounts
You can use different parts of the week and different mediums to drive customers to your restaurant. Before a guest arrives, email them a drink voucher for the restaurant bar. It’s likely they’ll also grab a meal.

You might use social media midweek to promote cheaper drinks or free desserts with every meal order.

On the weekend, you could offer a three-course deal when a guest makes a booking.

5. Hire talented hospitality staff
There’s a range of skills needed to run a restaurant, you need staff that are specifically trained to meet it. Give your employees the opportunity to create the best possible restaurant experience for your hotel’s guests.

Marketing your hotel’s food waste control

Do you really know how much food your hotel throws away each week? Have you worked out its monetary value? Are staff and guests aware of your efforts to be more sustainable and properly manage food waste disposal? Once you’re aware how well you’re managing in this area, you’ll be better informed and can start to align operations with your marketing.

According to Hotel Kitchen, more than 90% of staff say they want to take action on tackling food waste. Guests are also becoming increasingly savvy with 60% of those surveyed saying they expect hotels to be actively reducing waste across their operations. This is a great opportunity to not only optimise your food operations but a new angle to introduce into your marketing strategy. Some tips to help reduce your hotel’s waste:

Tip #1 – Get buy in on food waste from your team
Create a team to take ownership of waste reduction and incentivise them. It would be beneficial if you can include a cook/chef and a kitchen porter (KP) into your team. Kitchen porters can monitor what is scraped off or left on the diners plates, while a chef can determine how leftover ingredients can be better used in future menus.

Tip #2 – Research waste management software to support processes
Conduct a waste audit by dividing waste into categories and ensuring staff dispose of it in an appropriately-labelled container. Weight-based softwares can help this process; it involves a ‘talking bin’ that records the weight of different waste categories according to descriptions entered by staff on a touchscreen.

The most well-known of these is probably the Winnow system with manufacturer claims that it typically saves operators 3-5% on food costs; a ROI of up to 10 times within a year.

The challenges with using a system like this is that it requires all waste to go into the same bin, leading to congestion in the kitchen or pot wash, and it can take time to input the data.

Tip #3 – Assess raw ingredients vs. diners’ plates
If conducting a waste audit manually, you’ll need to at least split waste into raw ingredients and prepared waste that is left on diners’ plates.

Almost 10% of raw ingredients are wasted. This includes things like potato peelings and cauliflower leaves, which can be difficult to find a use for. Raw ingredients also include kitchen prep mistakes.

Around 35% of restaurant waste is left on diners’ plates. This is most definitely higher in hotel restaurants, where diners are less likely to take their leftovers home.

Tip #4 – Ask staff for their frequent observations
Raw ingredients and diners’ plates might be the two main categories, but make sure you have as many containers as you have space for. Record the waste by weight, but also consider anecdotally too. You’ll find you learn a lot more from staff comments as they experience first hand what they find surprising, what items are plated but not eaten and garnishes that customers commonly leave.

Tip #5 – Follow the ‘less is more’ approach
When it comes to prepared waste, you may find that it’s a result of portion sizes being too large. If this is the case, start to introduce strict portion controls and possibly consider using measure scoops that are colour-coded for different items.

If lots of butter and preserve is left after breakfast service, consider buying in individual wrapped portions. Keep in mind that unavoidable post-consumer waste can often be used by farmers as animal feed. Not only is this a contribution to reducing waste but also provides great marketing value.

Tip #6 – Create a food and beverage expiration date system
If you discover that fresh items are going out of date, introduce a strict fridge rotation system and coloured stickers to identify which items to use first. Store new foods on the right fridge and existing on the left to maximise shelf life.

Get this deep-rooted into your restaurant operations management and start to replicate it in ambient storage areas for rice, herbs and spices, pulses and grains as well.

Out of date ingredients can still be useful to others and usually can be donated to local food banks. Build a relationship with your local food bank operator and boost your presence in the local community. This can help shape a positive image for your hotel’s marketing strategies.

Tip #7 – Sharpen up your kitchen team’s knife skills
Meat carcasses should always be used for stock. If staff report that there is still a lot of meat left on bones, check that knives are being properly sharpened and that staff are trained to bone items efficiently. If staff have the butchery and fishmonger skills needed, not only is meat and carcasses used efficiently, but you can also save on waste through buying, for example, cubed chicken and filleted fish.

The same applies to vegetable prep.

Tip #9 – Allocate some space for composting
Raw vegetable waste can be composted if you have the outside space. A compost area can be simply constructed out of pallets. The resulting compost can be used to improve the soil on site or donated to local allotment groups.

Be inspired by other restaurants customer service

There are similarities between service in restaurants and hotels, but also a few differences. Let’s see how great customer service in restaurants translates to achieving guest satisfaction in hotels.

  • Turn ‘service’ into ‘hospitality’

Service is basically about performing a task; doing something for someone. It denotes a mechanical action. On the other hand, hospitality is about making an impression on someone and going the extra mile to make their experience a memorable one. The interaction involved in hospitality is a genuine one and should be based on a caring attitude.

Hospitality is something the best restaurants do extremely well. Customers will generally be served by one waiter their entire visit and will be made to feel like close friends or family, constantly attended to and conversed with warmly. Any requests will be responded to immediately. By the end of the meal, customers will look forward to coming back and seeing their waiter again.

In hotels, guests might interact with many different staff members throughout their stay, meaning they don’t always get this personal connection. They may have to wait longer for services and might get frustrated when the staff member doesn’t remember their preferences.

The attentiveness of restaurants is certainly something hotels can try to replicate and a great selling point that you can introduce into your hotel’s marketing strategies. Some things to try are to greet guests by name, get to know their interests, and don’t delay when they want attention. You can start building this during breakfast times (if it is included) or when guests are using additional amenities such as the pool or bar and while they’re hanging about in the lobby for a taxi or any other reasons.

  • Provide guests with a personalised hotel experience

More full-service and fast food restaurants are revamping their menus and establishing mobile ordering options, to the delight of customers.

Restaurants are adapting their menus and technology to align with shifting consumer preferences. This can include adapting menu items to consumer tastes for fresh food, mobile ordering and automated kiosks. Essentially, restaurants are more conscientious in pleasing customers in a way they’re dictating, resulting in higher satisfaction.

So why shouldn’t hotels do the same? New technology, both front and backend, should be explored if customer service is to improve. Not only can this support in providing a personalised experience but the hospitality sector in general.

Try to ensure you give each individual guest what they need, even if that means implementing mobile check-in despite it not being something everyone wants. Some guests may want little contact, tired from travel and simply want to get to their room as fast as possible; other guests enjoy human interaction. It’s about what’s best for the individual hotel guest.

Technology is able to help hotels in every regard when it comes to guest personalisation. It can aid operations management, including improving in-room experience, especially when it comes to speeding up room service or cleaning processes. On the backend, reservations and distribution channels are easily managed, so more time can be dedicated to guest experience.

  • Empower all members of staff with customer experience skills

Nothing will frustrate a customer more than a staff member always needing to clear something with their manager. Not only does this take more time, but it makes the staff member look incompetent.

Quality restaurants will take difficult or specific requests in stride and provide customers with any special needs they require. If something goes wrong, their constant hands-on experience allows them to solve it, without the intervention of a manager.

Hotels need to train and empower their staff this way too. A great example is The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, where even hourly employees have permission to spend up to $2,000 per guest to solve any problem or dissatisfaction that may arise, without needing to ask for approval or involve management. You don’t need to focus on the money aspect as such, that’s the point; it’s the knowledge and confidence employees now carry that enables quick solutions for guests.

  • Hire the right traits in your hotel employees

The very best restaurant staff show a passion for their job and authentic desire to make people happy. While the hospitality industry may be known as one where skills can be learned on the job, the approach taken to hiring staff must be taken very seriously. If someone you hire doesn’t portray a good persona, how are they meant to handle potentially difficult guests in an appropriate way?

To name just a few, some necessary traits a hotel should find it its staff include:

  • Empathy
  • Warmth
  • Conscientiousness
  • Enthusiasm
  • Charisma

Hotel property management: Maintaining your reputation

Managing a hotel isn’t all about managing the physical property, it’s also about managing intangible things like reputation. Hospitality businesses such as hotels are at risk if they don’t focus attention on reviews and take control of their reputation management.

Failure to monitor, manage and respond to feedback will skew your hotel management strategy to issues that are inconsequential to customers, as well as provide unhappy customers with ammunition for negative feedback on travel and social media sites.

As the impact of online bookings and digital feedback continues to rise, the importance of reputation management rises with it, yet it is still considered an indulgence by some independent hoteliers. Part of this rationale is driven by the confusion around how to deal with feedback online.

Where a rational negative comment is posted, hotels do have options on how to respond. Here are some standard ways hoteliers can deal with online reviews – regardless of sentiment:

Acknowledge and Action
For a genuine, reasoned negative comment on customer experience, it is best for hotels to respond in a timely manner, within 72 hours of posting, acknowledging the issue and describing how it will be addressed. Ideally, a follow up post will occur after actioning the issue, highlighting that the issue will not be repeated and if the customer is happy with the service.

This is by far the best possible response to negative feedback, because online audiences are far more willing to value action and positive changes in behaviour than to think poorly of the initial negative experience.

Apologise and Compensate
For a negative comment which illustrates an experience that was difficult or impossible to avoid, an appropriate response is to apologise for the poor experience and to privately offer either monetary compensation, or discounts on future bookings.

While this is unlikely to totally satisfy the customer with the stated poor experience, it will indicate to other customers, the prioritisation of customer experiences at the hotel. It’s important to take compensation offline where possible to avoid inviting those likely to complain for free stuff.

Apologise and Thank
For negative comments that focus on pedantic details, the most appropriate response is an apology for the experience and an acknowledgement that this feedback will help shape your hotel’s future guest experience strategy.

This is far more useful than a response which states that the comment will be passed to a customer service team, because the customer already believes that service is the problem at the property.

While most organisations are thrilled with the prospect of positive reviews, keep in mind that businesses should still be responding to them. Not only will doing this improve customer retention rates through loyal and happy customers, but there’s also an opportunity to acquire new customers by further publicising rave reviews and showcasing how committed your brand is to keeping communication channels open.

Be Humble
Where a positive review is excessive and perhaps gushing, it is wise for firms to thank the guest for their enthusiasm, but to also acknowledge areas where you are attempting to improve. This reinforces commitment to customer service.

Be Delighted
Where positive feedback is sincere and reasoned, the best response for hotels is to express delight and appreciation for the feedback and the desire to serve again in future. This is the easiest response to deliver, but is often the least fulfilled.

Be Appreciative
Where feedback is predominantly neutral, but some aspects are highlighted as being of particular value, it is advisable for hotel managers to express thanks for the feedback and to request further advice on how the organisation could improve in specific areas.

In some cases, it may be best to take the conversation offline with an email or personal phone call. This enables more considered feedback than what would usually follow from the initial post.

Reputation management is often considered difficult or time-consuming, however the value of it is undeniable with how influential it can be for a hotel and how fast customer dependence on online reviews is growing.

Understanding how to respond to feedback is not just a competitive advantage, but potentially a means of ensuring your hotel stays in business. You can easily turn complaints around and win hotel guests back, with simple reputation management responses.

Reporting on effective hotel management

Reporting on performance is essential to effective hotel management. You need to collect and analyse data accurately and regularly to see where things are working and what you need to improve on.

There are a lot of different parts of the business you’ll need to reports on to better inform your overall hotel management strategy. Most of them can be pulled from the systems that you’re using such as your property management system and channel manager etc.

  • Some of the most important information you need to track include:
  • Channel performance
  • Website performance
  • Housekeeping
  • ADR – Average daily rate
  • Occupancy
  • RevPAR – Revenue per available room
  • TrevPAR – Total revenue per available room

Channel performance

Channel performance is key to helping you understand a number of factors that can impact booking channels. For instance, you can evaluate which channel is delivering the most reservations, which channel is contributing the most to overall revenue, which channel has the highest cancellation rate, and which has the largest or smallest lead time? This is just a starting point of channel performance reporting.

The point is the more information you have about your channel performance, the more tweaks you can make to optimise your distribution mix. Cutting some channels and connecting others, temporarily pausing all can enable you to maximise revenue.

Remember it can be quite tough having to trawl through this data, ensure your channel manager can deliver some digestible reports for you.

Website performance

Website performance is equally important for direct bookings. Channel performance managers should usually be tracking your booking engines, so you’ll be able to see if direct bookings are down.

Analysis of your website performance is essential for reporting to see how much traffic you’re driving via organic and paid means, what pages are being visited the most, your conversion rate and how many people are abandoning a booking part of the way through.

Housekeeping

Housekeeping is also extremely significant to track in your hotel reports. Record data on how long it takes to clean a room on average, how many guests arrive when their room is not ready, do you have enough cleaning resources and how efficient the staff are.

This is vital information you need to be reporting on each and every month to support your business success by tracking if hotel performance is on an upward spiral or dropping. Through your property and revenue management systems you can track occupancy, ADR, and many other metrics.

To learn about all your important metrics, download our formula sheet here.

Utilising a hotel management software and apps

Technology in the hotel industry continues to advance at a rapid pace and hotel management software (HMS) remains essential for hoteliers looking to improve how they run their business.

The key to reaping the benefits of an effective hotel management software system is to select the right one for your property. It’s critical that you know exactly what the hotel management technology is and why it is important for you to implement it at your hotel.

What is hotel management software?

Hotel management software is technology that allows hotel operators and owners to streamline their administrative tasks while also increasing their bookings in both the short and long-term.

Your hotel management system is not only important for your own day-to-day operations, but it’s a vital part in improving overall guest experience. From the beginning of your guests’ online booking journey until the completion of their stay and their feedback once they return home, your hotel management system is there to enhance their experience.

Finding a hotel management system that offers the features you both need and want is necessary to effectively managing your hotel in a global economic climate.

Benefits of a hotel management system

  • Reduce time spent on administrative tasks

The right hotel management system should do a lot of the work for you, minimising the amount of time spent on admin tasks, allowing you to focus your efforts and your energy on the big picture. The software should also provide you with valuable data on employee retention, satisfaction and productivity.

In today’s fast-paced travel environment, it’s critical that you automate as many tasks as possible. A property management system can help you tremendously with that.

  • Increase your online presence

Management software that is integrated with a website builder allows you to accept direct online bookings and develop a user-friendly website. Naturally, this will increase your relevance in search engine results and online presence allowing more travellers to discover your property during their online booking journey.

  • Build relationships with guests

Develop a better rapport with your target market segment. Loyal guests that have stayed in your property a few times will appreciate the improved experience.

Hotel management softwares not only benefits returning guests but the technology will allow you to reach out to new markets that would not have discovered your brand.

  • Manage your distribution

With a property management system in place that integrates with a channel manager, you’ll be able to advertise across many channels whilst maintaining rate parity. From the large OTAs and GDS’s to individual retail travel agents, you’ll be able to instantly provide real-time booking information to your agents that will help drive bookings.

  • Manage your revenue

Using innovative pricing tools that allow you to create a flexible room pricing strategy, you can maximise the revenue that you generate per room at any given moment.

Pricing your rooms right is the key to succeeding in this competitive industry, and having these tools available can help your hotel’s revenue management strategy significantly.

  • Increase bookings

At the end of the day, the point of every feature within your hotel management business solution is to boost the bookings your property receives.

Whether you want to increase your off-season bookings or want to expand your offerings to new market segments, the right hotel management software, can ensure success for your property.

Hotel property management system

All hotels need some variation of a property management system (PMS), however not all PMS’s are created equal and it can be confusing knowing which one is best suited for your property.

There are still properties trying to manage their business in a traditional way with books and ledgers, others that use server-based systems, while many are now opting for web-based systems.

One of the most valuable things to a hotel manager is time, and money of course. The first two systems; traditional book system and server-based systems listed are a drain on both time and finances, while the latter has become the optimal way to manage hotel operations.

Cloud-based PMS’s are a superior way to automate and accelerate all the important processes at your hotel including;

  • Taking and confirming bookings,
  • Managing reservations,
  • Generating bills and reports,
  • Check-in/out,
  • Room transfers,
  • Checking/editing availability,
  • Guest communication.

Cloud-based technology can handle all these tasks with ease because of its ability to deeply integrate with channel managers, booking engines, and revenue management systems. Despite this, there are still concerns over the validity and cost effectiveness of cloud-based PMS’s, such as:

  • Cloud based technology is hard to use and confusing
  • Sensitive data is not secure and vulnerable to hackers
  • Current software is just as good
  • A PMS is only suitable for large hotels
  • Technology is too expensive

Many of these concerns are groundless and there’s plenty of data that shows how overall a cloud-based PMS can provide you more control over your hotel business, in some of the following areas:

  • An extra degree of customisation,
  • Reporting and data analysis capabilities,
  • Integration with other third-party systems like OTAs and booking systems,
  • Ease of access through any location and device.

It’s a key feature of any successful hotel management strategy.

The purpose of management systems for hotels

Management systems are important for both hotel operators who manage large chains as well as independent hoteliers. There are several purposes it can provide, including:

Managing bookings
Your property management system should help you efficiently and effectively manage your bookings by automating the process for you.

It allows you to escape the back office and focus more on interacting with your guests. A PMS also significantly reduces the risk of overbooking your rooms, directly improving guest experience at your property.

Direct bookings
You’re able to actively drive direct bookings to your website. Travellers today are more likely to book online than they are to call or partner with a travel agent.

Direct bookings allow your hotel to maximise the revenue that is generated per booking. You’d be better off considering software that integrates with an online booking engine.

Channel management
Managing a hotel with software that offers a channel management will allow you to create and implement a diverse distribution strategy that continually drives bookings. Creating partnerships with different types of agents in the industry, from OTAs to GDSs, is necessary to survive in a competitive climate.

Hotel website
Your software should help enhance your hotel’s online presence. Your management system is only effective if your brand is visible and can reach guests.

Choosing a program that offers a web editor or website creator will allow you to build a clean, appealing and user-friendly site, that encourages guests to book their stay at your property.

List of property management systems

There are literally hundreds of property management systems on the market. The most important aspect when choosing one is to ensure it’s easy to use, has all the functions you need, and that it is able to integrate with your other important systems, such as your channel manager.

Some popular examples you might come across include:

  • Little Hotelier
  • Mews
  • Sirvoy
  • CloudBeds
  • Frontdesk Anywhere
  • eZee Frontdesk
  • Hotelogix
  • Maestro
  • OPERA
  • Avvio

The list goes on. Finding a PMS if you don’t already have one will require some research and evaluation.

Hotel property management software: Questions you should ask provider

Selecting the right hotel software is critical, particularly in a world where consumers are relying more heavily on their devices with each passing day. An investment into the right software can make all the difference to your overall success as a hotel operator, but will require some research.

These are seven main questions that you should ask your hotel system provider as soon as possible:

  1. How does the product maintain its relevance in the hospitality industry?
    While the core of a technology system may remain the same over time, the product will need to adapt to changing trends and preferences from travellers within the hospitality industry. You need to ask this question so you have an understanding of how technology can aid and support your hotel’s growth along with the industry.
  2. How often is the platform updated or upgraded?
    There’s always room for improvement within softwares and technology, and the best hotel software providers will ensure that regular updates and upgrades are available for their clients. It’s important to have an understanding of how often these upgrades will be available, how you’ll be able to successfully implement the upgrades and how they might impact your distribution channels or reporting.
  3. What level of customer service will you receive from the company?
    Unfortunately, far too many hotel technology providers focus on hard sales tactics without much support after the purchase is complete. You will want to verify with the provider that there will be an on hand contact to support with the software, provide training when requested and work with staff after the technology has been installed.
  4. Is the hotel platform secure?
    Security should be a top priority with your chosen hotel technology provider. Ask about the details regarding their security features, as it’s imperative that both your hotel and guests’ data is secure.
  5. How easily can the system be personalised?
    Hotel technology providers need to offer a versatile system that includes not only the generic features that are necessary for any hotel, but also adaptable features that allow a business to personalise the platform to a particular brand. Ultimately, your investment in technology needs to result in a system that works specifically for your hotel.
  6. What reporting features are available?
    Some of the most important features of a hotel management software include the reporting features. Verify that you’ll be able to run detailed reports using live data, as this is the only way to get an understanding of the market, your performance and competitors to ensure that you can grow your brand.
  7. How can I access the hotel technology system once implemented?
    Be sure that you are investing in a system that allows you to run your hotel from anywhere. You need hotel technology that is optimised for all devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Hotel management system software: Direct bookings websites

Direct booking technology is imperative if you want to run a successful hotel. This means making sure your website and online booking engine are working seamlessly together.

Online booking engine
This is essential if you want to capture direct bookings and reduce the reliance and commission you pay to online travel agents (OTAs). The majority of travellers will visit your hotel website even if they discover your property on an OTA.

If you do want to capitalise on this traffic, your booking engine needs certain features beyond just a booking function, including:

  • A seamless online experience for your guests via a customised, two-step booking process
  • Multi-language and currency capabilities to convert guests from around the globe
  • It is mobile-friendly and Facebook-compatible to reach travellers on-the-go
  • Upselling capability so you can offer a more personalised stay for your guests

The important thing to remember here is that your booking engine can be a powerful tool that can be customised to suit any marketing strategy, allowing your business to maximise its revenue. Ensure you get as much value as possible out of your booking engine by following these tips.

Prioritise booking engine and website integration
Seamless integration between a booking engine and the hotel’s website will make a guests booking experience so much easier. It will be more responsive to mobile, there’s less pressure and resources that are reliant on you, from the design of the engine to maintenance of branding throughout the entire booking process. All of this will enhance the trust customers have in your hotel.

Create a strong foundation for search engine optimisation
While not directly related to your booking engine, search engine optimisation (SEO) is vital. If your website isn’t optimised for SEO it won’t matter how amazing your booking engine is, you won’t be visible enough to attract sufficient traffic to drive bookings.

Implement urgency messages
Urgency messages do exactly what they imply; invoke urgency in the shopper. By drawing attention to rates through alerts and urgency messages, you can make your guests think they are in danger of missing out, or receiving something other customers aren’t. They’re a great way of pushing customers further along in the booking process and increasing conversions.
Examples of ‘urgency’ messages include ‘Book now, pay later!’ or ‘Only two rooms left!’.

Use promo code banners
If you’re running a promotion, you want guests to notice it. Display a prominent promo banner on your website using your booking engine so guests can easily view and select applicable dates and benefit from the promotion.

Set up an early-bird rate
By selling discounted early-bird rates you can improve your short-term cash flow by collecting full prepayment from the booker. You can control when to flag an early-bird rate via your booking engine extranet.

Introduce last-minute rates
Setting attractive last minute rates are good for increasing your short-term occupancy or filling any remaining rooms. Offset the rate by taking a high deposit to limit the amount of cancelled bookings or no-shows. Clearly display these and use them in conjunction with urgency messages.

Entice guests with a ‘stay pay’ deal
Maintain your occupancy by offering incentives for guests to increase the length of their stay. Offer them a discount for one or more of their dates, clearly indicating the price difference and encourage them to book additional nights. Make sure you have control over what night is to be discounted; first, last, cheapest day within the stay etc.

Interest guests in package deals
Packaging up extras like entry to events, attractions, or restaurants gives guests a one-stop shopping experience that they can easily enjoy. Offer options guests won’t be able to find on OTAs.

If used intelligently a booking engine can be a hotel marketing and branding tool that will incentivise guests to become loyal hotel customers, further increasing your direct bookings and revenue, through customer retention, in the future.

Hotel room management software: Channel managers

A channel manager is a software that allows you to sell all your rooms on all your connected booking sites and distribution channels at the same time. It will automatically update your availability in real-time on all sites when a booking is made, when you close a room to sale, or when you want to make bulk changes to your inventory.

There’s a lot more to a channel manager than simply making life easier when updating your rates and availability. You can use it to perform many tasks when managing a hotel and can benefit the business, increasing bookings and revenue, and enabling long term business planning.

Take a look at this comprehensive guide on channel managers and how they can be used to benefit a hotel.

Other hotel management ideas

OTA hotel management: Optimising your online travel agent profile

Hotels are at a disadvantage if they aren’t engaging with online travel agents to boost their distribution and sell rooms. Connecting to OTAs will help hotels increase their visibility, maintain a constant occupancy rate and may even see an improvement in rankings on search engines.

The prominence of OTAs, such as Expedia and Booking.com, continues to grow and are a proven resource for travellers using them to discover a diverse range of accommodation options at the best price in one convenient list.

To make sure you benefit the most out of OTAs and their potential reach, you should do as much as you can to optimise your hotel’s profile.

Your marketing efforts should be consistent across all channels; don’t save your best images and content just for your website, make sure this is also on the online travel agent websites chosen.

Similar to search engines such as Google, OTAs also have their own algorithms for where your property will rank. Here are 6 simple steps to optimise your hotel’s OTA profile visibility:

  1. Accurately manage your inventory
    Availability of rooms will fluctuate during peak periods or seasonal changes, so it’s important to maintain an accurate inventory across all OTA channels to keep your occupancy rate maximised. Using a channel manager with pooled inventory is the best way to achieve this and can help ensure travellers won’t be disrupted by double booking issues or incorrect data.
  2. Cleverly manage your rates and promotions
    Guests don’t just use OTAs to discover a wide range of choices and inspiration, they’re often looking for last minute deals and offers. Time-sensitive promotions have more chance of being caught and so rooms are sold more easily. It’s simple to make alterations on price rates within OTAs to capitalise on seasonal events and attract more guests to your property profile.
  3. Carefully respond to reviews
    While only 14% of consumers trust traditional advertising, 92% respect reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor. Reviews on OTAs are more reliable because guests can only post a review after they’ve stayed at the property. However, only 36% of hoteliers respond to reviews on OTA sites. It’s important to do an efficient job of managing online reviews to build your visibility and trustworthiness with consumers which can help drive bookings and impact sales.
  4. Consider paid advertising
    This doesn’t have to be restricted to big and rich hotel corporations. It can also be a viable option for independent hotels on a pay-per-click basis. While paid advertising is no guarantee of more bookings, it will ensure your property is in front of users in search. If your content and aesthetic is strong enough, you should see a rise in revenue and your OTA ranking.
  5. Focus on specific markets
    Narrowing down your target market will mean impacting a lower volume of customers but you’re also likely to secure more bookings. Use certain time periods, events, geo-targeting or other methods to help define specific target audiences.
  6. Understand your competition
    It’s vital to know who the competition is in your market so you aren’t significantly underselling or overselling your rooms. If you are, you won’t be able to compete. Being aware of their activity may provide an opportunity to snare extra bookings, for example, changing rates to compete with occupancy of a competitor or promotions. There are specific data systems hotels can use to monitor competitors.

With an optimised OTA profile, your hotel will not only gain bookings from third-party channels but direct traffic to your website should also increase, helping offset the commission fee you pay.

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