It is no secret that in the world of hospitality competition is fierce. With the industry seeing an increase of 85% in the number of companies entering into administration in the 3rd quarter of last year compared with the year before (Exaro Insolvency Index November 2013) it is vital that each establishment maximises its hotel revenue management potential.
However it doesn’t have to be just about room rates, occupancy, food and beverages. With the development of technology and social media and a combination of time-honoured marketing ideas, there are a stream of new opportunities now open to the savvy hotel owner or manager to put additional revenue direct to the bottom line.
Making Full Use Of Social Media
With the proliferation in the use of smart phones it is vital to ensure that your own marketing activity takes into account this medium. A new mobile marketing app, Appy Hotel can help do just that. Launched in the second half of last year this new app allows you to showcase your venue to existing and potential customers in an easy to navigate and extremely professional look and feel.
Not only will Appy Hotel enable visitors to see all your amenities and current offers it also enables them to share the details with their friends and family through their social media channels directly from the app. The app also allows customers to feedback directly to management as well as book additional in-house services and make future reservations all from their smart-phone or tablet.
An additional option with the Appy Hotel app is the ability to create a mobile website that can again be accessed by existing a future customers from their smart devices and giving the hotel owner a distinct advantage over establishments who have not yet braced mobile and social technology. Appy Hotel is available on Android and Apple devices with pricing plans stating from a Free version and then ranging from £39-£199 per month for paid options. Full details available from Appy Hotel.
You will have often heard that it is vital to segment your guest markets in order to make the most cost-effective use of your hotel revenue management and marketing budgets. Such understanding of your markets is also important when it comes to your social media activity. There is little point in putting time and effort into developing a social media presence on a particular platform only to find that the majority of your customers do not use it.
Take the wedding market for example. One of the most used platforms for researching wedding ideas is Pinterest, which is an image based social media channel. So if a big part of your revenue comes from weddings and receptions it should certainly be a channel to be looking at. Interestingly from figures shared at the recent New Media Expo (NMX) in Las Vegas Pinterest drives more traffic to brands websites than Twitter, Linked-in and Reddit combined.
The example below is of Gosfield Hall.
However it does not stop there. If other users of Pinterest like your images (pins) they will often re-pin them onto their own boards. Look at how many followers the board below has.
And remember each time your pin is re-pinned the link to your website goes with it! For more information on how to get set-up on Pinterest a couple of great resources are: www.ospinteresting.com (Cynthia Sanchez).
Word Of Mouth in Hotel Revenue Management
This one might seem a little strange and not exactly anything to do with hotel revenue management, technology or necessarily social media. However when you take time to think about it – how do many customers share their experiences in this modern age – through technology and social media. The most important element however with Word Of Mouth is whatever you do “make it worth talking about”. Nobody is going to share their experience of your hotel unless it is absolutely worth talking about.
This was brought home to me recently during a presentation at NMX given by Scott Stratten of UnMarketing. During his presentation Scott highlighted the example of how the Ritz-Carlton turned a lost kids cuddly toy into an amazing experience that is now getting similarly amazing levels of sharing through word of mouth.
Having realised the toy ( called Joshie) was missing on their return home from a stay at the Ritz-Carlton, the father told his son that Joshie was on an extended vacation so as to give him some time to be see if the hotel could find it or he could get a replacement. On explaining his predicament to the hotel they managed to find Joshie and volunteered to ship it back to the guest overnight.
However before doing so they took Joshie around to various parts of the hotel, including the pool and spa, taking photos of him relaxing on his own and with others and included these photos with toy when the shipped it to the guests home. On opening the package the father was totally amazed at the extra mile they had gone to help him ensure that his son could see that Joshie had a great time and was safe and well all the time he was away on his “extended vacation”.
And of course what did the father do – he told everyone who would listen, including sharing to everyone he knew on social media. And where would his first choice of hotel be the next time he was in that location – you guessed it – the Ritz-Carlton. To fully get the true impact of this story I would recommend listening to this short section of Scott’s presentation at:
It doesn’t take much imagination to see the additional revenue spin-off that can be generated by simple but creative ways of dealing with day-to-day occurrences in your hotel. Especially where they have the capacity to exceed your customers wildest expectations.
Front Desk & In Room Up-Selling
With the continued squeeze on revenues any additional opportunity to sell additional products or services to guests needs to be maximized whilst maintaining that balance of surprise and expectation. The obvious place for an initial up-sell would be at the time of booking but with many bookings now being made through third-party systems this isn’t always easy or even possible.
The next available opportunity maybe in the form of an email contact if you have the guests email details. Here is your opportunity to begin the development of a relationship with your guest ahead of their stay with you. It is also a great way to make them aware of the additional services you have to offer but can be done in a very personal way without being over promotional. Having an autoresponder series of emails set-up and triggered to go out at set times ahead of the guests arrival will also mean very little ongoing work is required by your staff.
The next place for a hotel revenue management up-sell will be as they arrive at the front desk. Having you staff engage with the guest about their journey and stay whilst checking in may identify some great opportunities.
• Has the guest been delayed on route, arrived later and not been able to eat – what offer can you make them on a meal or room service?
• Do you have a more expensive room that is free for their period of their stay – can you offer an enticing upgrade?
• Simple additions such as a bottle of mineral water or a small box of chocolates in the room with a bottle neck collar showing the price – very tempting if you have just arrived after a long journey.
Also if you have got you own mobile app as mentioned above, having the reception desk staff promote it’s availability and use is also likely to increase guest engagement and uptake of offers and services.
You have no doubt seen a rise in the use of Photobooths by customers at events in your hotel. Unfortunately in many cases this is a missed opportunity. With the average cost of a photo booth in the UK in the region of £499 for 4 hours during a wedding reception by not including such options in the packages you offer you are potentially leaving vast amounts of money on the table.
Opportunities range from simply doing a tie-up with a reputable photo booth company who will give you a price that will enable you to set a competitive price to offer your customers as part of a package to actually owning your own booth and maximising all revenue earning opportunities.
Photobooths.com the UKs largest manufacturer of portable party and social media photo booths has recently launched a scheme that enables hotel owners to have their own photo booth on the premises but purchased over time on a pay per use basis.
Not only does the photo booth give you the opportunity to expand your range of services offered to customers but you can also benefit from the branding and social media exposure that sharing of the photo’s from each event.
Some really switched on hotel revenue management staff are also encouraging owners to keep the booth up in the hotel for use by guests and also using other functionality of the booth software obtaining survey and video feedback from the guests about their stay. For more information simply visit Photobooths Website or send an email.