Tips To Handle Guests Who Want To Check-in Before Scheduled Time

It may be a style statement to come late, but some guests arrive unfashionably early. In hospitality industry, it happens very often when front office encounters early arrivals. A few days ago, I witnessed a situation where a hotel’s front desk was feeling frantic when guests arrived early and their room wasn’t ready yet. For a hotel, it’s a time that can make it stand out from rest of the crowd or may throw it off the game. The front desk of that hotel was lucky to have cool guests who kept calm until the hotel could make arrangements and escort them to their room. But many times, guests get apprehensive when they are made to wait.

As a hotelier, valuing every minute of the guests goes a long way. It makes them feel valued and they don’t mind spending a few minutes in check-in procedure. In this piece of writing, I am sharing some tips that can help hoteliers and front desk in handling difficult situations of early guest arrival. Applying them, hotels can ensure that guests are taken care of, especially when they have arrived early.

Welcome the guests and check their details   

First things first, guests should not be felt awful about their early arrival. They may be tired after their journey, and trust me, a smiling face with greetings like ‘Good Morning/Good Evening’ or ‘we’re so glad to see you’ can make them feel good. They also can be treated with a welcome drink. Even when your guests are aware that they’re early, don’t make them feel they are troubling you.

You can keep them occupied with stuff like finishing check-in details, or inform them about the services they have chosen during their stay at the hotel. In addition, front desk can verify details on check out time.

Tell them politely that their room isn’t ready  

Instead of confusing them or making excuses, tell them honestly that their room isn’t ready yet as the check-in time is ____hrs. Try saying something like ‘I am extremely sorry; unfortunately the room that you’ve booked isn’t ready yet’. Plus, they should also be made sure that the best efforts will be put to ensure that the accommodation gets ready as soon as possible. In the meantime, they can be offered tea/coffee or other services to entertain them.

Speed up the process   

Ask the guests to please excuse you so that necessary arrangements can be made to ensure they get the room as soon as possible. Coordination should be made with housekeeping to inspect the rooms. Tell them to make the room ready. Inform the guests that their room will be ready within _____minutes.

Once the room is ready, assist the guests

After ensuring that the room is clean and all the necessary arrangements have been made, provide key card to the guest. Tell them about their room number and the floor on which it is located. Escort them to their room. Assist them in how to use the card to access elevator and their room’s door. While on the way, inform them about newly added services and how they can avail them. They should also be told about different areas, like restaurant or bar, of the hotel and how to access them.

Open the door for them, and ensure you are available at their service

Assist guests in using card key to open the room. Inform them about in-room services and fire exist point in case of any emergency. Plus, ensure them that they will be given privacy in the hotel. Tell them the procedure to reach you for any kind of requirements. Don’t forget to wish them a pleasant stay before closing the door gently.

Remember that not all guests need discounted services. Being courteous can leave a good impression of the hotel on them. In return, your hotel will receive good reviews from the host, and possibly a permanent guest.

Customer Loyalty: How To Build It For Your Hotel

Did you know that a hotel has to make extra efforts to get new guests than pleasing the existing ones? I have been asked many times by hoteliers about the role of customer loyalty in the hotel industry and why it is important. Growing volume and rapidly increasing competition make it tough for hotels to acquire new guests with old-fashioned services. In addition, hoteliers have to spend more time and money on applying marketing strategies to grab attention of new guests. Not only this, new customers spend less than a hotel’s loyal customers. So, it is not wrong to say that turning existing customers into loyal guests pays off better than spending time in pleasing others.

Customer loyalty can be defined as willingness of your guests to use your hotel’s services again and again. This is the results of good stay experience, impressive hospitality services and value of products.

As a hotelier, I believe a hotel should continuously look for new customers, but retaining the existing ones is also necessary. This combination allows you to win many guests and stay ahead in the competition. Building customer loyalty requires you to stay connected with your past guests and make efforts to encourage them to choose your hotel whenever they visit the place again. But how you can do it? The best way to make an impression on existing customers is starting customer loyalty program. Here’s how to do it:

Make Great First Impression

You must have heard several times that first impression is the last impression, which is quite true. A small or an independent hotel can be more successful than a chain if it knows how to start with a new guest. In addition to providing the finest hospitality services at affordable prices, you must learn the art of communicating with guests for the first time to turn them into your loyal customers. As check-in the first encounter of a guest with your hotel, make it simple and fast with advance technologies. Your hotel staff needs to take extra steps to make guests feel special and valuable. Take care of guests’ demands and preferences.

Prioritise Guest Experience

While designing strategies and loyalty programs, train your staff to give priority to guests and enhance their accommodation experience. This should be started well before the check-in process, when the guests make bookings online. This can be done by sending email or a welcome message. They can also be informed about your hotel’s speciality, local events and popular places in the neighbourhood to hangout.

Give Extra, Offer Incentive

Free Wi-Fi or complimentary breakfast is a thing of past. Almost every hotel offers such basic services to their guests without any extra charges. You should try beyond these traditional strategies to turn first timers into loyal guests. You can offer incentive on direct bookings, flexibility in check-in time or complimentary trip to popular attractions near your hotel.

Stay Tech Smart

Whether your guests are baby boomers or youngsters, technology can impress them all. Including quick accommodation bookings, self check-in, entry through cars and smart in-room amenities, there are several ways to engage guests through technology and offer them a memorable experience.

Exceed Guests’ Expectations  

From my experience in hospitality industry, I assure you that you are winning your guests’ heart by exceeding their expectations. If your guest demands for a service that is not mentioned in your service list, try to fulfill it by going extra mile. There should be a constant contact with the guest until the matter is resolved.

Devise An Effective Loyalty Program  

A recent study on guest loyalty suggests that one in five individuals become loyal guests of a hotel after benefits offered under customer loyalty programs. Try to understand the customers’ demand and plan a loyalty program that helps in making them permanent customers.

Staying in contact with guests even after check-out can increase the chances of guests’ repeat visit to your hotel. Ask them if they are satisfied with your hotel’s services or they want to see changes in it. Personal contact and giving/asking right questions can help you turn them into your loyal guests.

How Small Hotels Can Grow More Using Revenue Management

In addition to selling services to right customers at the right time, what contributes to a hotel’s success is an effective hotel revenue management strategy. Despite having remarkable growth in last few years, there are many hotels belonging to renowned chains as well as independent hotels that still haven’t embraced revenue management. While analyzing its role in hospitality industry, I realized that several renowned players of the arena are hesitating to adopt revenue management at a time when it has been playing a notable role in driving hotel’s profits.

Earlier, revenue management was limited to a few sectors like airline. But today, many industries have been using revenue management techniques to avail their benefits. Many chains as well as independent hotels are applying revenue management not just to increase revenue, but also to perform well during off seasons. Through an effective revenue management, rooms and various hospitality services can be priced differently considering their demand.

Revenue management is not just helpful in managing a business effectively, but it also gives opportunities to small hotels to lock horns with big industry players and drive performances to enjoy revenue benefits. Revenue management isn’t only to generate revenue and can be applied to plan strategies that help a hotel work well in all seasons. While having a discussion on revenue management, I have been asked by hoteliers about investment. It is necessary to understand that it’s an investment that produces great results for a hotel. Even a small hotel can have better results than its bigger counterparts by striking in right areas of revenue management.

Focus on inventory management: Rooms are the most valuable asset of a hotel. Therefore, hoteliers can drive success by figuring out how to make the most of hotel rooms. It can be done by improving in-room facilities and offering accommodation at low prices. A hotel’s revenue management should also be focused on embracing digital technologies in the right way. Focus on revenue managers should be extracted from available resources while offering services to guests at minimum costs.

Focus on pricing: An effective revenue management includes all those tactics on pricing that result in hotel room occupancy all through the year. It is also focused on generating revenue for the hotel through restaurant and bar. To make sure that price tactics work, revenue managers should make changes in pricing considering demand and season. Changes can be made in regular rates, special offers, packages and last minute bookings.

Focus on performance metrics: For small hotels where budget is limited, revenue managers should consider the hotel’s performance to understand factors that contribute to its success. Performance measurement can also help in knowing the area where improvements can be made to generate more revenue. By collecting data on different sources of growth, small hotels can make necessary improvements to generate more revenue.

Hotels of all sizes have been using different online and offline strategies to gain attention of potential travelers or increase revenue. Competition rises when OTAs arrive in the contest of promoting a hotel’s services. To remain competitive and generate more profit, small hotel revenue managers should embrace technologies and make use of OTAs. In addition to adopting new tactics, they can design and use an effective digital marketing strategy to improve different sections of hospitality and give tough competition to big hotels.

Investing in revenue management is a beneficial approach that a hotel of any size should embrace to have revolutionary results. In today’s tech-savvy market, it gives equal chances to all hoteliers to generate revenue and stay ahead in the competition. To make it work, revenue management should be applied in the right way by professionals. So, don’t hesitate to invest in revenue management. It will definitely improve your hotel’s revenue generation.

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Revenue Management In 2020: Top Trends Hotels Must Follow This Year

It is amazing to notice how the hospitality world has been changing with time. Before the arrival of Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and several other digital marketing strategies, hotel chains were ruling the sector. Revenue management of independent as well as small hotels was focused on accommodation and price. But the modern-day revenue management has changed, and it is more than just room availability and rates.

In the last few months, I have met several hoteliers during digital marketing events who were convinced that an effective revenue management strategy can boost the hotel’s business. But I found many hoteliers scratching their heads when they were told to modify their current revenue management strategy. One of them asked, ‘why do I need to follow a new trend when the existing ones are working well for my hotel?’

The modern hospitality industry is different from what it was a few years ago when only big players were generating more revenue than others due to their popularity among guests. Unlike before, independent hotels have been giving tough competition to major industry players, thanks to advanced revenue management strategies. Although revenue management has been appreciated by hoteliers since last few years, it has evolved dramatically and its trends are changing rapidly. By adopting new revenue management changes, a hotel of any size can manage demands and generate more revenue. We have already entered in 2018, which is predicted to be the best time for hoteliers to be a part of rapidly-moving industry and take benefits of new revenue management trends.

Technology Shift: Increased Presence of Automation

With time, more sectors have been utilizing advance technologies in revenue management to avail its benefits. In hospitality industry, the technology influencing revenue management has been changing rapidly. Revenue management strategy that includes automation is more beneficial than a strategy without it. Automation improves efficiency of revenue management and helps make more profit. Using it, revenue managers can develop more effective strategies driving profitability.

Direct Booking: Encouraging Guests to Book Accommodation Directly         

Revenue managers can increase brand value and generate more business by encouraging guests for direct booking through the hotel or its official website. Although online travel agencies (OTAs) are a great source to gain attention of potential travelers, direct bookings are more profitable for a hotel. Direct booking increases the chances of repeat business.

To boost direct bookings, revenue managers must focus on highlighting benefits on the official website. The would-be guests should be told that direct booking is more profitable than an OTA.

Profit Management: Increased Focus on Profit

More revenue managers today admit that profit management should be provided special attention while planning a revenue management strategy. It is important because hoteliers have shifted focus from traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) of generating revenue to new methods to earn profit. Gross operating profit per available room, also known as GOPPAR, is KPI today, which focuses on profit. It also allows revenue managers to continuously look for new ways to increase profit while keeping profit management in mind.

Mobile Marketing: Increased Interaction and Booking    

Smartphone isn’t just a communication device, and plays a major role in promoting a business. In 2019, hospitality industry has experienced a significant increase in mobile interaction and bookings through a hotel application. Mobile marketing will make revenue management more beneficial for a hotel. Online sources accessible through a smartphone will generate more business and improve guest engagement. Revenue managers should focus on making the hotel’s official website and other platforms over the Internet more interactive and easily-accessible for online customers. In addition, the websites should be updated regularly to deliver high-quality services.

Data Metrics: Efficient Use of Data

A hotel may have a large amount of data to work with. But there should be a strategy to leverage it. Revenue Management strategy of a hotel should include different tools to make the most of available data. Using data efficiently can help revenue managers drive profit for a hotel.

Revenue Management is an effective way to generate profit. This year too, it will help hoteliers with its action-packed techniques to win more customers and make more profit. All that a hotel should do is ensure that its revenue managers are following the latest trends of revenue management.

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Capitalize Social Media For Hotel Marketing: Strategies To Create Engagement

A few days ago, a street food vendor requested me to like his page and asked to give ratings to the dish I ate. It was amazing to see how social media has influenced businesses of all kinds. Social media is no longer a luxury, but necessity. Today, more than 2.5 billion people are living their life on social media. At a time when a vendor has realized the power of social media, there are some hoteliers who still feel a hotel’s social media presence doesn’t impact its business.

It’s the Internet which brings hotels of all types on one platform where they get equal chances to promote their services and generate more revenues. It’s the social media’s influence that many independent hotels are performing better than chains and big brands. By using right social media strategies, traffic can be diverted to a hotel’s website and people can be turned into guests by encouraging them to make bookings.

Being a digital marketing professional, I have conducted surveys on social media strategies of several hotels and observed that many brands’ strategies fail. A major reason behind this fall is more focus on number of strategies and less on their effectiveness. Rather than applying the right strategy, these hotels prefer many social media strategies. I believe that a hotel’s social media’s strategy that attracts 1,000 online users is far better than five strategies that grab attention of 100 users each. Hoteliers should research well and use only those strategies that could increase engagement on its social media pages. In hospitality industry, interacting with followers is the best way to turn them into potential guests. There are many other strategies to garner attention of many online users, and here I have compiled some of them:

Reach Out, Pay Attention To Fans/Followers   

For a business of any kind, nothing works better than listening to their social media audience. A hotel must listen to what people think and say about it or its services. This works as feedback for the hotel. Listening to people not just helps a brand understand what guests want during their stay at the hotel, but also develops a relationship between them and the hotel. This strategy can also be used to create content to highlight unique services of the hotel. For example, if a former guest talks about restaurant or gym services of the hotel, create a post about the two categories. It will tell people more about these services and encourage them to use them whenever they visit the hotel.

Use Latest Social Media Tools To Get Personal With Fans

Various social media websites have advanced tools to get personal with others. For example, Facebook Live or Twitter’s Vsnap can be utilized to create videos. An online postcard, image or video can be sent to hotel’s fans online to make them feel special. If the user is former guest of your hotel, record a message for them and thank them for using your services. This method of social media engagement can also be used on fans or followers who have been sharing your posts with their friends or followers.

Remedy Guests’ Concern ASAP

Social media engagement can be improved by showing users that they are being valued. Posts on social media sites should be created in a manner that each post is giving value to all followers. The posts should be focused on upcoming events, festivals or offers in the hotel. In case any user is having any query, it should be resolved as soon as possible. If former guests complain about any service of the hotel, attend it politely and try remedying it in any possible way.

Social media is an effective tool to create brand awareness and figure out what modern-day guests are looking for in their hotels. Engagement on social media is an opportunity for a hotel to connect with potential guests who are with thousands of questions regarding their past or upcoming stay. By connecting with them, a hotel can increase the chances of bookings. So don’t hesitate to make the most of social media to promote your hotel and its services.

Online Hotel Bookings: Drive Direct Bookings To Improve Revenue

In OTA-dominated hospitality industry, hoteliers are trying new tactics to bypass OTAs and increase direct bookings online to generate more bottom-line revenue. Although online travel agencies help increase exposure, direct online booking boosts brand loyalty and turns guests into loyal customers.

There’s a hunch in hotel market that OTAs are giving up little grounds to hotels as a chance to drive direct bookings, but my observations and data I studied portray a different portrait. OTAs are not getting smaller anytime soon and there are bleak chances of any shift. Hoteliers have to figure out new methods to tackle OTA channels and also compete for direct bookings in the ongoing hotel war. I have surveyed different data sets to understand how to make hotel campaigns work and boost direct bookings. An effective strategy to drive direct bookings can help a hotel get guests directly through its website.

I have figured out some practical ways to tip the scales:

Hotel Booking Engine For Direct Bookings    

It’s a simple accommodation booking system to increase direct booking on your hotel’s official website. By adding the booking engine to your website, you allow guests to book accommodation through smart devices, like smartphone as well as tablet. Not just room booking, but a hotel booking engine can be used to offer various other purposes too. Some of them are:

  • Advance room bookings
  • Multiple room bookings
  • Extra hospitality services, incentives and packages for limited time period
  • Call for action
  • Personalized bookings where guests can choose only those services they require
  • Easy booking and room cancellation process
  • Automate emails to guests once the booking is done

Attractive Offers On Direct Bookings

What attracts guests towards OTAs and third-party online booking websites is easy access to a number of hotels at one time. They get a platform where they can easily compare room types, services and prices of many hotels. Hoteliers who show the best rates on their websites have high chances to win guests than those who do not pay attention to accommodation prices during the time of direct booking.

Room rates or service prices on a hotel’s official website shouldn’t be higher than costs shown on OTAs or other booking platforms. To make guests aware of special offers on direct bookings, you can add price comparison pop-ups on the website. There are some OTAs that allow hotels to show rates featured on their official websites.

Make The Most Of Social Media      

According to a recent survey, more than half of the hoteliers in the study admitted that they experienced surge in direct hotel bookings after marking presence on various online platforms. Successful hotels and brands also highlight the power of social media while sharing their success stories. It is because people believe in a brand when they see their friends posting about it on social media. A study says that more than 80% travelers are influenced by their friends’ posts on a hotel. There are several ways to use social media to engage people on your hotel’s social media page.

  • Post images and videos of the hotel with gripping stories behind them
  • Hotel’s blogs should be in storyline format
  • Discounts, special packages, quiz and contests on your hotel’s social media page should be highlighted through attractive visuals
  • There should be constant and effective connection between the hotel and guests
  • Every query should be resolved and reply should be given to every comment

Turn OTA Hotel Bookings To Direct Bookings

OTAs charge commission on hotel bookings, but their power cannot be underestimated. Guests can be lured for direct bookings by offering extra when they choose to book accommodation via official website. You can start loyalty programs, update guests with new offers and packages via emails, special offers to loyal guests and more targeted discounts.

OTAs are going to be a part of hotel industry for years to come and they should not be neglected. But you can make right moves to increase direct hotel bookings and decrease the dependency on OTAs. Make your efforts as valuable as you can.

by AVI ARYA | Leave a comment