Hoteliers, the New Year is a great chance to make some changes on how you run your property. If you’re looking for some new ideas or inspiration for 2018, here are some resolutions you can make now that can have big payoffs by next December.
- Enhance Your Website
A good website will do so much more than show off pictures of your hotel. New technology makes connecting with potential guests easier than ever. From the moment they land on your website, you can start communicating through a chat program like Provide Support, MeOkay, or LiveChat – answering questions, fielding requests and giving a personal touch. Once the conversation is underway, securing a reservation becomes much easier.
You should have a booking widget on every page of the site so that guests can start to make a reservation no matter where they’re looking. (Don’t include a “cancel” button on the widget until the final confirmation page. If they don’t see the word “cancel,” they’ll be less likely to think about doing so.)
A video background can be a great way to catch a potential guest’s eye and keep them on the site longer, improving the chances of a booking. Take a look at the websites for White Lodging and the Hotel G in San Francisco – the brief videos in the background give a taste of what the guest can expect inside and out when they arrive. (Tip: Don’t cover the video with too much text. Let the visitors scroll down if they want to read more.) If video doesn’t feel right for your hotel, consider a slideshow for a similar effect.
Want to take it a step further? Virtual reality and 360-degree photos are great ways to really show off what your hotel can offer. The luxury Jumeirah brand has a full immersive VR tour of the Burj al Arab that lets visitors to its website see the hotel’s public spaces and guest rooms as though they were there. (Visit inside.jumeirah.com.)
If a major VR addition to your website seems too much to launch right now, start small. 360-degree cameras are very affordable these days, so you can begin with just a few videos and photos and grow from there. It’s a good idea to emphasize your event spaces here: Planners are much more likely to book a ballroom when they can virtually stand inside it and look all around.
If you have a lot of events at your hotel, embed a video or 360-degree pictures that will let potential planners see what cool lighting effects you can create, and all the different ways the spaces can be configured. Walkthroughs of the public spaces and guest rooms will whet potential guests’ appetite and convince them that your hotel is the one they want. A company like PhotoWeb can help take professional 360-degree VR photos and set up virtual tours on your website.
- Boost Your Social Media Presence
Does your hotel have a Twitter account? What about Instagram? Every social media platform gives you access to whole new demographics, and each account you use lets you connect with new potential guests.
Your hotel should have a presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at the very least. Set aside time each day to reach out to potential guests, answer any questions and respond to any comments previous (or current) guests may have shared on all of the platforms. This not only will help you attract new business, it will also keep guests coming back if they feel that you take their concerns seriously.
If this seems daunting, you can also hire a social media professional to help out. This can be a part time position or even an internship role, so the expense doesn’t have to be substantial. The rewards, however, will be.
- Check Out Your Online Security
From the smallest independent boutiques to the largest global companies with dozens of brands, hackers are getting into hotel computer systems, leaving guest information vulnerable.
You don’t want guests to associate a stay at your hotel with having to get new credit cards or trying to fix identity theft, so make sure you have the best security system in place that you can afford, and that everyone on the hotel team who has access to the computers knows how to keep private information safe.
Hotels are finding lots of solutions for this challenge: Treasure Island Las Vegas, for example, is using b4easypost, an online payment and posting software solution designed to protect credit card information, through a partnership with Agilysys and cloud-based hospitality software developer b4checkin.
You can also use a tokenization system to protect guest data during credit card transactions. For example, First Data is providing tokenization services for AccorHotels worldwide, while G6 Hospitality, the company behind Motel 6 and Studio 6, is using FreedomPay for the same service.
- Review Your On-Site Security
Several hotel brands are rolling out new types of locks that let guests open the doors to their rooms with an app on their smartphones. Guests can even bypass checking in at the front desk in some cases—which may be very convenient for people in a rush, but it makes it harder for the hotel team to know who should be heading to the guest floors and who doesn’t belong there. If your hotel is incorporating this type of technology, encourage your team to be very observant, and to report anything unusual. If a front desk agent or a housekeeper expresses any concern, be sure you know what you are legally able to do about it.
Security also has to apply to making sure everyone on your team feels secure. Encourage regular discussion at staff meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of harassment guidelines, and that they know they can come to you with any concerns about inappropriate behavior from guests or coworkers.
- Do A (very) Soft Renovation
A soft renovation doesn’t have to be expensive or very time-consuming. Some new curtains and fresh duvet covers can make a world of difference, and can boost a room’s appeal in minutes.
You can also add a bit of greenery to your hotel, with some larger plants in the public spaces and small ones in the guestrooms. Studies are proving that guests like seeing some elements of nature in their hotel, and that they’re willing to pay more to be close to something green. (If you can’t add plants to the public spaces or guestrooms, look for artwork that includes pictures of nature. It makes a difference!)
If you use LVT or carpet tiles on your floors, consider retiring some worn-out pieces in favor of some remnants that you’ve kept in storage. It can give a space a cleaner, fresher look without costing a fortune or taking much time.
2018 is a fresh start for you and your hotel, and a good excuse to make all those updates you’ve been thinking about. Make the most of it, and have a very healthy and happy New Year!