Here are suggestions for how hoteliers can utilize several different technologies to stay competitive in the New Year.
A recent study of 2,000 people looked at how people book their hotels and the factors involved in room cancellations. It was found that over a quarter of people take into high consideration the quality and detail of a hotel’s website (such as photographs and information) before making a direct booking online.
Investing money into the simplicity of your website in all stages of the guest journey will help acquire traffic, increase conversion rates and drive more people to book direct. The simplicity of website use (including fewer re-directs) will result in in trustworthiness of the potential customer. Hotel management may also find reporting efficient with less redirect windows to consider.
The booking ecosystem will be an interesting area of change in 2020, as Airbnb, Google and others start to enter, many of these will create options to drive people to your website but also more competition. If you can show your offering more easily, make booking slick and then integrate it to an onsite experience it will encourage guests to use you for converting their search to a reservation.
Upselling Tech to boost profitability
Carefully choosing the right time to upsell a guest’s hotel booking is crucial to a hotels’ additional revenue stream. After a booking has been made there is a fresh window of opportunity to upsell, as guests will reflect on their budget spend and perhaps feel there is room to spare on extra luxuries and see what they may be missing out on.
Upselling is an important aspect of hotel revenue. Upselling is also a conversion killer if done at the reservation confirmation stage. Don’t mistake upselling with configuration, configuring a booking needs to happen but upselling can happen subsequently through nudge marketing via emails, push notifications or even on arrival at the hotel. Many systems are developing to help you keep conversion rates high but total revenue retained.
Technology such as Upsell Guru offers options to schedule notifications and alerts through different communication platforms to guests after collecting their details from a booking. The added value can range between upgrading to meals to booking a premium room.
Secure payment systems to increase consumer confidence & credibility
Where credibility issues are concerned, payment systems are the leading topic. It made headlines in 2019 for fake bookings, hacker attacks and unsafe jobs in hotel operations.
An investment in secure payment gateways protects the data of hotel guests and the hotel’s credibility. For example, if a guest was to see the wrong value on an invoice, they may become wary of how secure that hotel’s payment system is and look elsewhere.
A secure payment gateway also checks in advance whether the credit card exists and is covered which could reduce chargebacks. This way, the hotelier can make sure that the booking via the credit card is genuine and at the same time protect the guest’s data.
Hotel payments have adjusted to new legislation and as hotels move towards a more integrated guest experience, all payment aspects need to combine seamlessly and accurately. Nothing erodes trust like a rekeyed payment amount being wrong and the guest having to challenge it.
Self Service and Automated Check-in
In a recent survey of 2,654 consumers by the Travel Leaders Group, 78% of respondents said they would like to see self-service kiosks more widely available for check-in.
Consumers are becoming accustomed to self-service systems as they appear across retail, leisure & transport industries. Another study suggested that guests favor hotel self-service check-ins as these provide faster service, results in more privacy and waiting time/lines are much shorter.
Hoteliers could consider how their core data system might be centralized as much as possible in order to make it a less complex & more efficient guest journey from booking to check-in. Technology such as guest portals can be efficient for customers to retrieve their invoices quickly and will centralize all the data for the hotelier.
An omnichannel platform which centralizes operations
Payment processes are often a slow funnel for hoteliers with multiple payment gateways and PMS providers, data stored in different areas and revenue segregated. Month to month reporting can be difficult and productivity of staff slowed.
Omnichannel platforms enable you to centralize operational systems, take back control of your revenue flow and transparency of guest data, so hotel management can focus on creating the best experience for customers.
Andrew Metcalfe is Chief Technical Officer at Guestline, which provides innovative property management and distribution software to the hospitality industry. Andrew has previously been Chief Technology Officer at Ve Interactive and is an expert in consumer websites and people management solutions. With over 14 years of experience in technology and hospitality, he’s knowledgeable in supporting hotels to drive their best performance. Founded on cloud technology, Guestline’s revenue-generating solutions enable hotel groups and independents of all sizes to achieve maximum occupancy at the most profitable rate. Fully integrated into the Guestline distribution and central reservation platforms, the property management software is currently growing revenues in businesses in 25 countries across five continents.