What is hotel management?
Hotel management is the practice of 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.
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. 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.
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
Table of contents
The importance of hotel management
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.
The difference between hotel management vs hospitality management
Hotel management and hospitality management can be different terms for the same thing: managing a hotel. Hospitality management is simply a broader term that can be applied to any business in the hospitality industry: not just hotels, but restaurants, bars, cafes, tour companies and more.
Different parts of hospitality management operations
Hospitality is an umbrella term to many industries. From food and beverage to travel and tourism, any role within the hospitality sector requires providing a service to customers.
Operations management in the hospitality industry is a broad term. Whilst customer service is of utmost importance, each sector needs to be tackled in its own way to maximise efficiency and reward.
1. Food and Beverage
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, whereas catering businesses and restaurants can lean towards a casual take-away experience or seated fine-dining. It is also incorporated under wider businesses such as bowling alleys, cinemas, and hotels.
With customers expecting some sort of dining service from hotel accommodations, it has become almost a standard practice to provide.
Not only can an in-house restaurant provide an enhanced guest experience but can reach a broader range of clientele, especially when your restaurant management operates independently from your hotel management.
2. Travel and Tourism
Tourism is different from hospitality as travel functions as a catalyst for people to spend more money on 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.
Alternate operations in hospitality often rely on the success of the travel and tourism sector. Hotel management teams should think about arranging tours or trips for their guests to local sights. Creating a one-stop shop for your guests is important for convenience.
3. Accommodation and Lodging
The accommodation sector encompasses a broad range of lodging options from hostels and caravan sites to luxurious resorts and boutique hotels. 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 targets other market segments based on location and target audience group. This can include business people, long-stay travellers, budget travellers and backpackers.
4. Entertainment and Recreation
Recreation includes any activity that people participate in for rest, relaxation or enjoyment.
The entertainment businesses can include attractions of special interest such as zoos and museums, or spectator events such as theatre performances or sports games. This industry heavily relies on consumers having disposable income.
Hotel management might consider a games room, gym or spa onsite to encourage guests to stay within the vicinity and encourage boosted spending. For example, drinks or spa packages.
Types of hotel management
If we zoom in on accommodation management, it too can be divided into a few different categories, which reflect the broad range of tasks and challenges that hotel management presents.
- General management: The general manager of a hotel will be tasked with the oversight of all the different types of management listed below.
- Revenue management: Depending on the size of the hotel, the task of managing revenue might be given to the general manager or to a dedicated financial officer.
- Sales management: Sales are the lifeblood of any business, and some will employ a dedicated sales team to drive more business.
- Marketing management: The other side of the sales coin, marketing ensures your hotel has a steady stream of interested guests.
- Reservations management: As soon as a room is sold, the job of managing that reservation begins.
- Front desk management: The human face of your business, front desk management is critical in curating the reputation of your hotel.
- Property management: From gardening to repairs, managing property maintenance is a key task within any hotel business.
- Housekeeping management: Rostering housekeeping staff, and ensuring they know when and where to clean, can be a surprisingly tricky and time-consuming job.
- Food and beverage management: Hotels with on-site restaurants and bars are essentially required to run a business within a business
- Human resources management: With so many staff to consider, human resources managers can be critical in larger hotels.
What is hotel operations management?
Hotel operations management is focused on the day-to-day of running a hotel.
These day-to-day operations are pretty widespread and on any given day, you could be looking at a range of areas. A core aspect of hotel management includes managing your room inventory and reaching desired occupancy rates; however, you could also be ensuring that everything is in order for your guests or organising staff and cleaning schedules. Creating detailed Standard Operating Procedures – SOPs -can ensure that your staff complete tasks to the required standard when priorities are pulling you elsewhere.
Hotel management requirements: Skills needed for the role
Is hotel management easy? Generally speaking the answer to that question will be no, although people who have developed a range of hotel management skills will find the task far less daunting than someone who lacks any experience in how to do hotel management.
The most important skill in hotel management is communication. You’ll deal with a wide array of people, including team members, guests and other stakeholders, and you need to ensure everyone knows their role, is on the same page, and is motivated to do what they need to do.
Depending on the hotel management details and situation, the following skills may be important:
- Problem solving
- Customer service
- Financial management
- Time management
- Critical thinking
Hotel management basics for room inventory
Effective hotel management is ultimately about maximising your ability to make money, which is directly tied to room inventory. Maximum returns can only be gained by selling those rooms optimally.
Here are some areas to look at to aid your hotel management strategy for inventory and revenue:
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.
Hotels generally advertise their rooms through multiple channels to optimise reach and promote sales, such as online travel agencies.
3. 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.
You’ll need smart revenue management and pricing strategies if you want to optimise your Average Daily Rate (ADR).
Through a thorough analysis of your TrevPAR, you are not only able to account for each way your hotel is making money but can also conduct a deep dive into your guests.
By discovering patterns in the demographics, purchasing trends and geography of your guests, you can align your marketing and hotel operations to coincide with revenue fluctuation.
Hotel management strategies to increase revenue
Beyond managing room inventory, there are a number of other hotel management strategies that you can use to increase your revenue.
Below are some considerations that can help maximise your hotel revenue management strategies:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 to 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. Low 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 both positive and negative feedback
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. Bad housekeeping standards
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.
Aligning hotel operations and marketing strategies
Effective hotel management begins with assessing every aspect and locating areas you can improve on to save time and money whilst increasing efficiency.
Small but well thought out changes to your largest business expenses can reap big rewards over the course of a financial year.
Marketing and operations teams need to collaborate to identify key market segments, whether that is geographic, demographic, or behavioural.
Determining these segments allows them to predict demand based on external factors. Your teams can then execute strategies that offer specific guests the right products and promotions at the right times. Successful implementation of these strategies can yield maximum revenue and guest satisfaction.
Therefore, both of these teams should be working together to align strategies and collectively obtain all relevant data and produce the most effective marketing and operation strategies. Effective hotel management lies in identifying key trends in the data and utilising them for business gain.
With the information in front of you, your marketing strategies should aim to lower your operating costs and increase revenue.
Whilst RevPAR is a valued metric in evaluating your hotel’s performance, alone it cannot help you optimise hotel operations. This is where your GOPPAR comes in, enhancing existing data by including various external factors such as labour, amenity and food expenses. It provides a bottom line performance of your hotel and allows you a vaster look at your profitability as a business. By providing an in-depth picture of your business health, you can build stronger strategies moving forward. Some key things to consider are:
- Analyse data – If your data shows that certain seasonal periods require more staff, think about reducing staff in low seasons.
- Determine guest behaviours – If you notice that female guests correlate with more retail revenue in the hotel, think about implementing promotions during these periods to bolster sales even more.
- Implement strong marketing tactics – The operational functions of the hospitality industry can be drastically reinforced with a fine-tuned and aligned marketing strategy.
How to streamline hotel operations and improve your reputation
Managing a hotel isn’t all about managing the physical property, it’s also about managing intangible things like reputation, which is easily influenced by customer experiences throughout the initial booking stage all the way through to the reviews they leave post departure.
Here’s how to improve hotel operations in a way that enhances how guests regard your hotel.
1. Personalised Experience
In hotels, guests might interact with many different staff members throughout their stay, meaning they don’t always form a personal connection. They may have to wait longer for services and might get frustrated when the staff member doesn’t remember their preferences.
That’s why it’s important to provide guests with a personalised hotel experience whenever possible.
Technology can help hotels in every regard when it comes to guest personalisation. It can aid operations management, including improving the in-room experience, especially when it comes to speeding up room service or cleaning processes. On the back end, reservations and distribution channels are easily managed, so you can dedicate more time to the guest experience.
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, are 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.
You should explore new technology, both front and back end, if you hope to improve customer service. Not only can this support in providing a personalised experience but the hospitality sector in general.
2. Customer Service
Nothing will frustrate a customer more than a staff member always needing to clear something with their manager before providing any helpful response. Not only does this take more time, but it makes the staff member look incompetent. Empower all members of staff with customer experience skills in order to provide quick and efficient customer service to all guests at the moment of their trouble and maintain a reputation of promptly dealing with arising matters.
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.
When focusing on improving customer service in your hotel, make sure you hire the right traits in your hotel employees. The very best 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 in its staff include:
3. Online Reviews
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 a common area of hotelier failure due to confusion around how to deal with feedback online.
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 asking 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 that 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 that states 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.
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.
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.
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.
How to do hotel management reporting
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 report 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.
Some of the most important hotel management information you need to track includes:
1. 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, contributing the most to overall revenue, has the highest cancellation rate, or which has the largest or smallest lead time. This is just a starting point of channel performance reporting.
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, or even temporarily pausing all can enable you to maximise revenue.
Remember it can be quite tough having to trawl through this data, so ensure your channel manager can deliver some digestible reports for you.
2. 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 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, whether you have enough cleaning resources and how efficient the staff are.
This is vital information you need to be reporting on each 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.
Hotel management technology
Hotel management software is a 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 (HMS) is not only important for your own day-to-day operations, but it’s a vital part of improving the 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 HMS is there to enhance their experience.
Finding hotel management technology that offers the features you both need and want is necessary to effectively manage your hotel in the global economic climate.
Utilising software tools in hotel management
Technology in the hotel industry continues to advance at a rapid pace. By choosing the most capable tools for hotel management, you can greatly improve how you run your business, and secure a genuine competitive advantage .
The key to reaping the benefits of the best hotel management tools is to select the right one for your property. It’s critical that you know exactly what the right hotel management technology is and why it is important for you to implement it at your hotel.
Benefits of using technology to enhance hotel management
Why invest in hotel management tech? Here are just a few of the most compelling reasons.
1. 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 administrative tasks, and allowing you to focus your efforts and energy on the bigger 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.
2. 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 your online presence, allowing more travellers to discover your property during their online booking journey.
3. Build relationships with guests
Develop a better rapport with your target market segment. Loyal guests that have stayed at your property a few times will appreciate the improved experience.
Hotel management software not only benefits returning guests but the technology will allow you to reach out to new markets that would not have discovered your brand.
4. Manage your distribution
With a Property Management Systems (PMS) in place that integrates with a channel manager, you’ll be able to advertise across many channels whilst maintaining rate parity. From the large online travel agents (OTAs) and Global Distribution Systems (GDS) to individual retail travel agents, you’ll be able to instantly provide real-time booking information to your agents that will help drive bookings.
5. 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.
6. 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.
There are numerous hotel management software options available to cater best to specific hotel types, sizes and targets. GDS remains the top promotional software that hotels use to reach a global travel market and attract corporate travellers. Many hotels use some variation of a PMSto handle bookings, reservations, check ins/outs, guest communications, generating reports and more.
Whether you want to increase your off-season bookings or expand your offerings to new market segments, the right hotel management software can ensure success for your property.
Hotel management system example: Direct booking 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 engines
This is essential if you want to capture direct bookings and reduce the reliance and commission you pay to 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
- Making it 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:
1. Prioritise booking engine and website integration
Seamless integration between a booking engine and the hotel’s website will make a guest’s 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.
2. 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.
3. 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!’.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Introduce last-minute rates
Setting attractive last-minute rates is good for increasing your short-term occupancy or filling any remaining rooms. Offset the rate by taking a high deposit to limit the number of cancelled bookings or no-shows. Clearly display these rates and use them in conjunction with urgency messages.
7. 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 encouraging 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.
8. 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.
Hotel room management system: Channel managers
A channel manager is 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 it can benefit the business, increasing bookings and revenue, and enabling long-term business planning.
OTA hotel management ideas
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 your chosen online travel agent websites.
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 inventory management 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 to 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
Paid advertising 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 provides 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 the 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.