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Non-integrated hotel solutions are dying a slow death, are you stuck with one?

A property management system aka PMS also referred to as a hotel management system, is often the backbone of a hotel’s IT infrastructure. The PMS is the nerve centre of a hotel’s operations and often integrates with various other applications provided by the PMS provider or by independent software vendors.

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Usually, on-premise PMSes tend to have more functional modules and are apt for large and mid-sized hotels. On the other hand, smaller independent hotels prefer cloud PMSes due to lower costs and ease of use. Erstwhile, hotels only deployed a PMS to manage the hotel operations and a CRS to manage the reservations. But with the changing guest behaviour and the growth of hospitality technology, many other important software systems are being used by modern hotels. Nowadays, hotels are heavily dependent on technology to acquire, service and delight their guests. Some of the commonly used tools are Channel Manager, Web Booking Engine, Feedback management system, POS, Facebook booking engine and few more. But not all hotel management systems integrate with these modern age tools and even if they do integrate, then in many cases the integration isn’t seamless and real time. This warrants the usage of robust PMSs which integrate with modern age hospitality tech tools. In fact, a study by Software Advice in 2015 lists “unintegrated systems” as one of the major reasons for hotels to change their PMS.

12 percent hoteliers they want a comprehensive hotel management system that can perform all necessary functions, instead of using different systems for different tasks. -Software Advice

 

What happens when your PMS isn’t integrated?

When your hotel PMS isn’t integrated with a channel manager then you won’t be able to distribute room inventory online on a real-time basis. You may also not be able to maintain rate parity and attract severe penalties from OTAs. You also run the risk of double bookings and attract the guests’ wrath. If your PMS isn’t integrated with other online room inventory distribution channels like GDS, web booking engine, Facebook booking button etc., then you are losing potential customers who prefer to book online. Other disparate tools like POS adds to the chaos and delays guest billing during checkout. You also run the risk of wasted employee productivity and morale due frustrating operational complexity. Moreover, disparate tools don’t allow the hotelier to have a real-time business control on his business operations due to lack of real-time visibility and control. No wonder, standalone PMSes are dying a slow death and if you are stuck with one, then it’s high time you chuck the old system out and implement an integrated hotel management system.

If your PMS isn’t integrated with other online room inventory distribution channels like GDS, web booking engine, Facebook booking button etc., then you are losing potential customers who prefer to book online.

You may also ask, why can’t the disparate systems integrate? Well, the hospitality industry realizes the benefits of providing more consistent and real-time information about the guests and about the property’s operations but the major gridlock in achieving this has been the onslaught of thousands of products from multiple vendors.

The Open Travel Alliance (OTA) has been working on a set of standard XML for easier integrations between property management systems, CRMS, GDS, web booking engines and other tools. But even after years, there is no solution in sight and the disparate systems are adding to the chaos and are proving to be a migraine for the hotelier.

The solution is actually pretty simple. Invest in a robust PMS which integrates seamlessly with other tools and provides a real-time overview of the hotel operations and distribution.

What can you do about it?

The solution is actually pretty simple. Invest in a robust PMS which integrates seamlessly with other tools and provides a real-time overview of the hotel operations and distribution. But managing multiple tools from multiple vendors has its own set of disadvantages and that’s why we recommend you use an integrated hotel management system from a single vendor.

eZee Absolute is an integrated hotel management system used by 5500+ independent and small hotels in over 140 countries worldwide. eZee Absolute integrates seamlessly with channel manager, web booking engine, restaurant POS and much more. Take the first step towards an integrated PMS by taking a free trial of eZee here.

Should Internet Access be complimentary at hotels?

If we just step back a little in hospitality history, we will realize there was a time when hotels’ telephonic communication hub was a profit center for a fairly long time. From local and long-distance calls to faxes, we have moved on to cellphones, emails and video-calling. The telephone department which was a major profit churning entity became redundant with the introduction of cellular technology. Moving forward to the topic at hand: Free WiFi for hotel guests.

free WiFi for hotel guests

It was initially a chargeable amenity at hotels to cover their own costs but to meet consumer demands, hoteliers and restaurateurs started providing free high-speed internet access

As customers are being offered free access, they wish to do more with their access and as a result, there arises an increase in demand for bandwidth. Guests want to stream videos, conduct video conferences and make VoIP calls. Not only that, on an average each guest is likely to have a minimum of two mobile devices and if there are multiple occupants in a room, the demand for bandwidth will be more.

As customers are being offered free access, they wish to do more with their access and as a result, there arises an increase in demand for bandwidth.

If we take a look at JD Power’s “2015 North America hotel guest satisfaction index study”, there’s an increased incidence of internet access across all hotels and almost 31% of hotel guests experience internet issues.

In years to come, we will probably look back at this moment and have a good laugh about how hotels instead of offering free Wifi for hotel guests, charged for access. What this situation strongly resembles and reminds us of is during the 19th century, when hotels used to charge extra for hot water, but soon it became a necessity that became part of the hotel experience. Some things never change and soon the days of paying for internet access will be history.

There is a consumer strong opinion in favor of making internet access complimentary in hotel and hotels are listening to the needs of the modern day traveler.

Why you should offer Free WiFi for hotel guests
  • Importance:

    Free Wi-Fi for hotel guest remains the most desirable in-room amenity according to a Hotels.com Amenities Survey.  Moreover, guests assign free Wi-Fi more important than privacy. Hence, it is clear how hotel guests are assigning more importance to free internet access over anything else.

  • Social Media:

    Social media is one of the biggest marketing tools that companies can have. But this is not direct social media marketing that we are speaking of. We are talking about a referral form of marketing, experiences shared by your hotel guests. Offering them free Wi-Fi for hotel guest would encourage them to use social media, post pics and provide feedback about their stay in your hotel. They will most likely post updates about their stay at your hotel if you start providing free internet access. Younger people tend to use social media, so by offering free internet, you will only be bringing in more business.

It is clear how there is a strong correlation between access to fast internet and guest satisfaction. This will force hoteliers to continuously invest in higher bandwidth internet and sophisticated equipment for its allocation. The area where hotels seem to struggle is the ever-increasing cost that cannot be offset if the amenity is offered for free.

It was the midscale hotels who started offering free internet to win over customers while upscale hotels were still charging their guests for internet usage and later on introduced tiered pricing, meaning that there will be free Wi-Fi access for all, however, guests can pay a fee to upgrade their bandwidth and get access to faster internet.

The importance of internet has been resonating throughout society now, it has become a necessity like hot water instead of a luxury. So, the question that arises is, how long till every hotel starts offering internet access as a complimentary service?

Do you provide complimentary high-speed internet access to your guests? Let us know, if this feature brought in more guests and raised their satisfaction.

Rise of Mobile Guest Self Service Portal in Hotel Software

How often do you see guests walking into your hotel deeply engrossed onto their smartphones? Chances are, it happens all the while. Over the last few years, a silent mobile revolution brewed around us, while hoteliers focussed mostly on mobile bookings. PhoCusWright in its annual Online Travel Overview reported, ”In 2015, Americans will book $39.5 billion worth of reservations on their mobile devices, accounting for 12% of all travel sales.” In 2016, the number of mobile bookings and guests expectation for Mobile Guest Self Service Portal in Hotels is expected to grow exponentially.

As the mobile generation progresses, hotels need to integrate Mobile Guest Self Service Portals with their Hotel Software to attract more Tech-savvy guests.

Progressive hotels realise the need to engage and interact with their guests beyond the regular  front desk and other face-to-face interactions. The Guest service portal is a perfect way to engage with your guests, upsell on-site amenities and at the same time demonstrate a positive attitude. That’s why technology-first hotels are providing Mobile Guest portals to their tech-savvy guests and are boosting incremental revenue from onsite amenities. A robust guest service portal integrated with the hotel property management system is a powerful tool for hoteliers to drive revenue, manage guests and enhance guest satisfaction.

 

Mobile Guest Self Service Portal in Hotels

Some of the amenities which can be extended to the guests through the guest service portal are:

Self Check-in:

According to TripBarometer by TripAdvisor, “34% of Connected travellers want mobile check-in, with just 11% of accommodations offering the time-saving convenience.” Provide self-check-in services and circumvent the tedious manual check-in processes. It will not only give guests good control but also a better first impression. You may also take a step ahead and give them the option to choose the room they want to check-in to. Self-check-in is poised to be a standard in a few years with the airline industry leading the way. Along with regular bookings, some guest portals like eZee allows you to effortlessly manage group reservations where group owner can manage whole group requests whereas group individuals can manage their own reservation requests.

Build Guest Profile:

Allow guests to fill their details and preferences in the guest portal ahead of check-in. This will allow you to segment guests and serve them based on their preferences. Wouldn’t it be a great idea to surprise a valued guest with a cake and a bottle of wine on his birthday. (Wink! birthday details from his self-filled guest portal profile). Guest portals can actually take guest engagement to an altogether different level.

Upsell in-house amenities:

Provide your guests with customized hotel information and offers anywhere in the hotel. Drive incremental revenue by delighting them with exciting offers on dining, spa and other recreational activities. Add your restaurant menu cards with beautiful images of culinary delights of your hotel on the guest portal and witness higher restaurant sales. A great way to persuade guests to eat in-house. You can allow also provide the option to book taxis on the guest portal during the stay or for pickup before check-in. Throw in some special offers and happy hours and see your spa revenues go up.

Hotel Information:

On the guest service portal, you can provide directions to your hotel from the airport, railway station and help guests locate your property easily. You can also provide maps, details about nearby attractions and help guests explore the city and the locality in particular.

Guest Management and Reviews:

To achieve highest guest satisfaction, you must offer an exceptional guest service. Using the mobile guest portal you can allow your guests to modify their booking, room type, the number of arriving guests or even cancel their booking if need be. You can take guest delightment to an altogether different level by allowing guests to order extra pillows, modify pickup/drop off time from their smartphones. The portal updates the front desk staff regarding the modification in real-time allowing you and your staff to take immediate action on all those requests.

Assisted Checkout:

Your guests can check the estimated bill on the guest portal before checkout. What’s more, you can send them paperless bills through the guest service portal. They can also request for concierge services before departure.

It’s just not the millennials who are driving the do-it-yourself trend but a large number of young families and business travellers too who prefer self-service portals.

It’s time you add a guest service portal integrated with your hotel’s property management system.

 

Check out the amazing features included in eZee’s dynamic Mobile Self-Service Guest Portal seamlessly connected with online hotel management system.

Exploring TripAdvisor Programs: TripConnect Instant Booking and TripConnect CPC

Connecting the world of travellers with prospective hotels, inns and B&Bs to formulate their upcoming travel plans, TripAdvisor TripConnect introduced 2 powerful programs of TripConnect CPC (cost per click) and TripConnect Instant Booking. Launched in 2014, both programs quickly became a market favourite for accommodation providers as well as travellers all around the world. TripAdvisor truly believes that both programs will significantly increase monetization, as the travellers all around the world establish a direct relation with the hotel through the trusted medium of TripAdvisor.

However, understanding the difference between both the services can be a little bewildering. Nonetheless, I will help you differentiate between TripConnect CPC (cost per click) and TripConnect Instant Booking and get a hang of both the services.

Explore the TripAdvisor programs to increase hotel revenue

TripConnect Instant Booking

Being one the largest review platform, TripAdvisor enjoys more than 10 million unique visitors on daily basis. Travellers from all over the globe rate, review and now even book travels with the online review giant. The unique feature of Instant Booking allows hoteliers to take advantage of their ‘pay-per-booking commission’ model and enrich their online bookings. Instant Booking offers the traveller opportunity to immediately confirm the booking at your hotel without even leaving the metasearch site of TripAdvisor.

Functions of TripConnect Instant Booking

Along with hotel reviews, the metasearch engine also allows the traveller to compare the real-time rates and availability of your property. Furthermore, the Instant Booking model offers the booker to instantly confirm the hotel booking by clicking on ‘Book on TripAdvisor’ button. Adding to the advantage, TripAdvisors delivers all the guest information to you from the first point on, and you are directly in contact with your guest without any interference of the middle agent.

As the entire concept works around the ‘pay-per-booking model ’, you only pay commission for the confirmed booking. Additionally, the travel giant offers you 2 different commission rates to choose from, 15% commission per booking ensures that you receive half of the bookings received on TripAdvisor. On the other hand, the commission rate of 12% brings in the hotel on 1/4th of the booking through Instant Booking. The remaining booking which are not claimed by your hotels is passed on to the OTAs connected to your hotel with you ultimately paying the OTA commission.

Moreover, the simple yet innovative service of Instant Booking requires no bidding, no deposits and the commission to the company is only paid after the guest stay.

Click here to enrol your property with TripConnect Instant Booking.

TripConnect Cost-Per-Click

Another program introduced by TripAdvisor is the TripConnect Cost-Per-Click (CPC). Similar to Instant Booking, this program also allows travellers to view real time rate and inventory of the property. However, instead of offering the traveller option to book from TripAdvdisor platform, TripConnect CPC offers direct booking to the hotel by redirecting the booker to your hotel’s website.

Functions of TripConnect CPC

Contradicting the Instant Booking plan, the TripConnect CPC program works on ‘cost per click ’programme which requires you to bid the amount you pay per person, visiting your website through TripAdvisor. The hindrance here is that the place of your hotel on the price comparison search bar is determined by the price of your bidding. Thus, the bidding structure gets a little complex here, as the highest bidder is placed on the top of the price comparison search bar as you are once again competing with the might OTAs ( you are connected with) for direct bookings. The CPC model ranks your hotel’s position according to your bidding, and higher your ranking more you get noticed. As soon as the booker clicks on your property’s website link, he is redirected to your hotel’s website to further confirm the booking. In this policy, your hotel is charged for the click regardless if the traveller actually completes the booking or not.

You can refer to TripConnect CPC user guide

You can enroll your property for TripConnect CPC programme from TripConnect website.

Which program is better for your property- TripConnect Instant Booking or Cost-Per-Click?

Through both the programs, TripAdvisor is offering hoteliers a power and low costing platform for gaining a tremendous online exposure. Identifying on you requirements and expectations you can choose either of the programs to increase your online sales or you can benefit immensely by strategizing a combination of both.

image 2 - Explore the TripAdvisor programs to increase hotel revenue

The eZee Connection

eZee is a Premium Partner of TripAdvisor TripConnect and has established a seamless interface between eZee Reservation and TripConnect Instant Booking. As a result, our clients would be able to easily update rates and inventories directly to TripAdvisor and increase hotel revenue by receiving direct bookings from the massive number of travellers visiting TripAdvisor.
This article was originally published on ezeetechnosys.com

Legacy Hotel Software v/s Cloud PMS

The hospitality industry is ever evolving, replacing the manual management with various automated software technology is one of the most predominant change in the market. Particularly, for efficient property management, the developing technology has contributed two types of hotel management solutions. The foremost is the widely accepted and locally installed desktop based hotel management solution while the other explores the power of SaaS and cloud computing and is a web-based PMS. Thus, hoteliers are no longer bound to one type of management system, they are given an opportunity to analyze their own requirements and select the most appropriate for their property.

Even though, both solutions have demonstrated their efficiency and benefits, not all of them are right for all hotel type and choosing the most beneficial PMS for the business can be a daunting task. To aid hoteliers to select the accurate software, eZee has researched few foremost requirements from a hotel point of view to explore the pros and cons of both servers based and online property management software.

Desktop Vs Web PMS

Maintenance and specific requirements

System-computer-icon  A desktop PMS requires a comprehensive and detailed infrastructure in terms of technological requirements like spectacular hardware, local servers and different license for each hardware. However, a legacy PMS is not dependent of internet connection and can be very useful in remote areas with low connectivity.

1439829229_icon-132-cloud One of the greatest advantages of an online PMS is that it requires no special installation or downloads. All it requires is a browser and a favorable internet connection. As a cloud PMS can be accessed from anywhere, hoteliers can run the front-desk functions even during power cut of with the help of a laptop, tablet or even a smartphone. Moreover, as all the functions are run on the cloud the software needs no specific hardware or even an IT personnel for maintenance.

Easy accessibility- anytime, anywhere

System-computer-icon A legacy system has the advantage of being locally installed and doesn’t rely on the remote server, thus all functions are robust even during downtime. Correspondingly, it ties the user to a particular machine and shuts down completely during electricity cut off.

1439829229_icon-132-cloud As discussed earlier a web-based hotel management system requires no special downloads and can be accessed anytime and anywhere, using any type of device be it desktop, tablet or mobile. As a result, you can use from the remote location while traveling or in the case of multiple properties, where you can retract reports and other data of any of your properties sitting far away.

Favorable financial estimate

System-computer-icon The majority of installed front-desk system a very heavy number of detailed and complex features making the solution significantly more expensive than a cloud solution. Moreover, the periodic maintenance, upgrades and requirement of IT staff members can further increase the expenses.

1439829229_icon-132-cloud A cloud PMS offers a significant reduction in capital investment, mainly due to its low costing technology and subscription-based pricing strategy. Adding to the advantage, a majority of online hotel systems are robust and require no download, no installation, no service and not even an IT personnel. However, in the long run, the cost sometimes can be either equivalent or more when to compare to the cost of a legacy system.

Feasibility and proficiency

System-computer-icon A desktop PMS is incredibly complex and exceptionally detailed, offering a myriad of integrated third party solutions. It is always available due to the local installation, and can effortlessly manage any type of property including full-service hotels.

1439829229_icon-132-cloud Alternatively, online property management solutions are easily upgradable and are up to date with the latest market trends. As a result, they integrate effortlessly with a variety of other solutions like a channel manager and booking engines leading to an enhanced online exposure.

When it comes to choosing the correct PMS for your hotel, it all depends on a type of operations you run. Cloud technology has come a long way in automating various time-consuming manual tasks. The introduction of this revolutionary technology transformed the face of hotel management and a lot of properties are migrating from a legacy PMS to cloud PMS. If you own a small, independent hotel or a small B&B, a cloud hotel software should be perfect for you. Nevertheless, if your property is large and requires more detailed functions, the complex yet sophisticated technological infrastructure of the locally installed hotel management solution is a tried and tested way to go as well.

[This article originally appeared on ezeetechnosys.com]