Social Media Marketing for Hotels: the winning strategies for obtaining direct bookings

In previous articles we have defined what are the pieces of the puzzle that makes up our web marketing strategy, going to explain:

  • the importance of a content marketing strategy to create high quality content;
  • the role of emails to increase direct bookings;

In this article we will list what are the guidelines to be followed to try to attract visitors through social networks using them as an advertising vehicle, both to position and strengthen their brand.

On which social networks should an hotel aim?

Before starting to talk about a latent demand, editorial planning and advanced advertising strategies, we need to understand which social networks we need to focus on in order to increase the visibility of our accommodation.

Some think it is enough to create their own profile on all possible and imaginable social networks (Wikipedia lists 206), publish some content and wait for customers that decide to book. I anticipate that unfortunately that does not work especially because not all platforms are suitable for advertising and launching a hotel.

To give a trivial example, a platform like Twitter is less suitable than Instagram, this not only for the number of users (7 million Twitter against 16 million Instagram) but because Twitter is mainly suitable for “microblogging”, while on Instagram you can share “experiences”, and experiences are the keystone in the travel industry.

Of course if the goal is to use social media as an advertising bill on which to camp their offer, it is clear that what makes available the largest audience is obviously Facebook. Following we can find Instagram , that is the social network of millennials and finally we have to pay attention also to Google+, which even if it is a desert from the point of view of the community is very useful from the SEO viewpoint.

Email marketing strategies for hotels: 4 advantages for hotels

Email Marketing Hotel Albergo Agriturismo

The automation of email marketing in a hotel is a strategy too often underestimated, in fact one of the mistakes that is most frequently committed is to forget the past customers, who are summarily placed in the mailing list after the stay and then be bombarded with email without a clear strategy.

In this article we will explain how important is for a hotel management software to include an email marketing automation system that starts with creating targeted email campaigns. Identify and segment customers based on the information that customers have provided during their stay in the facility.

What does it mean to automate email marketing at the hotel?

The automation of email marketing for your hotel allows you to work smarter and faster, having different data on one platform.
Automating email marketing means creating email campaigns directly from the management PMS in a few clicks, keeping track of openings, undelivered messages and campaign conversions, trying to understand what works and what does not.

The automation of hotel marketing provides the competitive advantage necessary to enter even more in contact with guests, directing them to promotions and offers more suited to them.

4 benefits of marketing automation for your hotel

1) Start email marketing campaign

Guests want to receive quick, accessible and relevant information.
The emails that are provided by customers along with their preferences are included in the CRM, a tool that can track guest data, grouping them with customized tags and filters. Once you know the preferences of the guests and the reason for their stay, it becomes easier to launch email campaigns in which to customize the message and offer targeted promotional packages.

2) Automate cross-selling and up-selling

Using a single tool to manage your hotel allows you to automate up-selling and cross-selling, sales strategies that bring a significant slice of revenue into the cases of your accommodation.

The cross sell makes it possible to automate the sale of additional services such as SPA treatments, catering, entertainment and much more. In this way it offers its customers the opportunity to make their stay even more unique, offering them the purchase of additional services in a professional and elegant way, this will make them happier and more satisfied, thus improving the reputation of the hotel.
For example, at the time of booking or a few days later, the customer may be offered an email to add contingent services to the stay such as: spa package, horseback riding or wine tasting.

Important is also the upsell of the room that is proposed to the customer and purchased even before it arrives in the structure.

3) Analyze reports and data

Analyzes in an analytical way the reports that your management provides you after starting an email marketing campaign, taking into account some important data such as open rate, finished messages in spam and unsubscriptions from the mailing list.
For example, you can monitor which offers or services are more relevant and attractive to certain groups of guests.
Moreover the analysis helps to eliminate from the contact list those who are not really interested in what is offered.

4) Increase leads and keep the brand alive

Sending targeted emails allows you to increase direct bookings and keep your customers’ interest in your hotel alive.
Maybe they have not yet booked their stay and reading the email will decide to play it safe and to book in the same place where they stayed the previous year.

⚠️ Attention to the sanctions of the Privacy Guarantor

This practice can entail different risks because if a user decides to unsubscribe this data will not be synchronized in the management system, leading the hotel owner to run into the risk of serious fines.
Not complying with the non-cancellation of the newsletter may lead to a claim in the first instance to the Privacy Guarantor and in the second instance to a summons for compensation for damages and the termination of harassment to the Justice of Peace.

These aspects have become even more rigorous and restrictive with the GDPR.

Conclusions

We can therefore say that nowadays managing the marketing processes from a single platform is essential to facilitate the launch of promotional offers and increase the conversion rate in complete safety.

 

Visual Marketing Hotel: when the image is everything

Visual Marketing Hotel Albergo Agriturismo

The old adage “a picture is worth more than 1000 words“, today more than ever it has taken on a fundamental role, seen and considered the rise of visual marketing, a subject that has become even more prevalent with social networks and mobile devices.

For some hotels, visual marketing means uploading beautiful photos of their structure, but in this marketing perspective it is not enough to have beautiful photos, because in the digital age it is necessary to create continuous amazement, trying to keep the attention threshold high.

Images and social media

Facebook, Instagram but also Pinterest play a decisive role in conveying images of their hotel structure.
Precisely for this reason visual communication must be treated in every detail, and if possible, we must always try to tell a story.
Users access social media for different reasons and at a frenetic pace, only the care of every detail will be able to bring out their products and implement a proper visual marketing strategy.

On Facebook there is little to add, except that it is the privileged channel to tell not only the hotel, but all that gravitates around it as events in the vicinity and the history of the territory in which your reality is located.
Instagram is the social network where visual communication dominates, especially among young people, who like to tell their stories through images.
Pinterest, even if in Italy does not seem destined to succeed, allows to build bulletin boards organized according to the interests of images.

Via Condotti and booking engine

There’s the rub!

Many hoteliers believe that it is enough to invest in a good website and social content to close the circle of visual marketing, but in the case of the hotel industry it is not at all like that.

Let’s do a practical EXAMPLE!

You are walking along Via Condotti in Rome, when suddenly you are struck by the wonderful shop window. You decide to enter and remain totally bewitched by the beauty and quality of the clothes, then ask the shop assistant to try a dress, she obviously consents and tells you that to try it you have to go in the alley behind the store, a sort of warehouse to heaven open and dreary place of walking for people with little reassurance.
Then enter the “dressing room“, you look around disgusted and pretend to try the dress in front of a mirror that does not exist and then go out quickly, inventing an excuse to leave as soon as possible and of course without buying anything.

We invented this story to compare the boutique with your hotel and the dressing room to try out the dress at your booking engine. When users are ready to book a stay after browsing the website far and wide, they go to the booking engine that must be intuitive, responsive for each device but above all reassuring (and secure) regarding the transmission of personal data and credit card!!!

So if the customer does not feel comfortable in the delicate flow of booking with good probability will flee and end up booking elsewhere, and the only thing that remains to be hoped is that at least book a stay from you anyway (of course through an intermediary) .

What was needed to make a great site with images and professional content if then the conversions do not arrive?

Beware of quotes!

Similar discourse should be made for quotes of stay, because as you well know you can see all sort of things (literally!)

When a customer sends an email to the hotel to request a quote for a stay, the hotelier or receptionist takes time to:

  • check availability in your own management;
  • check the rate;
  • copy-paste the standard response text and replace the requested room prices;
  • insert a sentence accompanying the offer.
  • send!

This process, as well as being costly in terms of time, requires the personalization of the offer for each customer, is risky in terms of possibility of error, is not captivating in terms of graphical interface and not the ability to measure how many quotes are converted into reservations.

This process is easily remedied using a pms that allows you to create quotes directly from the management, going to select the required offer and providing a series of elegant and professional-looking templates, eliminating the risk of running into email with fonts and sizes different.

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If it was not clear enough, today more than ever, the control of visual communication translates into more direct online sales.

 

 

Content Marketing Hotel: the importance of content for your brand

Content Marketing Hotel Albergo Agriturismo

In recent years, we are increasingly hearing the word “content marketing“, a term that is playing a decisively important role also in terms of hotels.

What is content marketing?

First of all, content marketing consists in producing and sharing high quality information material such as articles, images, videos and podcasts in order to increase their visibility.

From a hotel’s perspective, content marketing serves to bring out offers and content to potential guests.

If we were to summarize the content marketing in a sentence we would choose this:

The content creates relationships. Relationships are based on trust. Confidence leads to conversions.

The goal of content marketing for a hotel

The goal of content marketing for a hotel is to create:

  • reach (reach of people who can get in touch with the contents);
  • engagement (ability of a content to create relationships with users);
  • conversions (bring the user to finalize the purchase).

To do this you need to create content that really interests your potential customers, but before doing so you must define a strategy to follow.

How to start a content marketing strategy for your hotel

1) Set goals
Before starting the creation of content, you need to set goals. What is the result you want to achieve?
Increase reservations? Make cross-sell/upsell on a booking that has already occurred? Increase the visibility and the brand of its structure?

2) Choose an audience
The answer we hear more often when we ask what kind of audience we want to reach is: “Everyone, of course“.
But if we are perhaps doing content marketing for a 30-room boutique hotel, whose accommodation starts at € 150, we should go to produce content for a “medium/high” clientele.

3) Creation of contents
Choose content that is lively and close to the interests of your guests.
Making storytelling does not mean promoting just one product, but putting your audience at the center of each campaign, just like Airbnb did on the occasion of the twenty-five year period since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

4) Distribution of contents
The creation of the contents is useless if they do not reach the pre-established public target. Look for suitable channels that can convey your message.

5) Make a point!
What is the point of doing all this work if the objective you have set is not realized?
It’s a bit ‘like when playing volleyball, it is useless to have a great lifter if then who crushes throws the ball on the net. This is also valid in this case, it is useless to produce good content if then when you have to make the reservation, you do not have a booking engine that helps to convert.

In one shot, we will have thwarted all our investments !!!

Video first – Videos are the contents of the future

Now the world is increasingly in the hands of smartphones and the same Mark Zuckerberg from 2012 had stated several times that the strategy of Facebook in recent years was based on the concept of “mobile first“.

Now that the goal seems to be achieved, the new mantra is video first.
The vast majority of the content that people will consume online will be video. It is undeniable how videos are becoming increasingly popular on various social networks including of course Facebook, making them easily usable and often of very short duration.
The Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2010) are tomorrow’s customers, they are purely visual generations, they love to watch rather than read, and the proof is given by the success of platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat.

The secret to creating good videos is knowing how to tell the life “in a nutshell” of your business, a sort of virtual tour that is able to fascinate the customer.
If you have a farm with a horse riding you can not not film the moment when you make horseback riding or the moment when you get out of hot croissants ready to be served for breakfast.

The tourist who peeks videos on social networks or on your site will feel emotionally involved and will tend to book more easily if he already knows that place that you showed him through your eyes. If you manage to convey the atmosphere that you breathe in your structure you are already halfway through the work, especially if the potential client is looking at it while he is in the office, immersed in work and strongly desires a holiday!

Ride the wave of content created by your guests

Building authentic and original content, such as sharing photos of your guests, helps to build a community that knows how to revolve around relationships that are authentic and above all spontaneous.

This is because sometimes traditional marketing struggles to reach customers who often do not trust the advertisements of the structure itself and prefer to rely on a sincere opinion of friends and relatives (this is where the success of the reviews comes from).

Pioneer in this aspect was the company of Luxury Hotel, Loews Hotel, which through the hashtag #TravelForReal has put the perspective of the guest in the foreground, demonstrating the genuine and real side of the structure.
After starting the campaign that has reached more than 8100 photos uploaded on Instagram, Loews Hotel has contacted their guests directly asking them to use the photos posted, thus giving the future guests an authentic and filter-free image.

SEO and content marketing: the golden couple!

Launching sponsorship campaigns with Google Adwords is essential, but the SEO factor that binds with content marketing is equally important.
Some hotels use their own blog to do content marketing and create quality content for their users.
This result reaches its peak with the SEO optimization that leads to a better positioning of the site in search engines.
Google encourages original content and having a good number of pages indexed in search engines leads your site to rise in position in the list of results.

The climb to SERP also starts with content marketing!

Hotel marketing: the smart hotelier’s compass

Marketing alberghiero Hotel Albergo Agriturismo

Dear hotelier,
as you have already noted, the needs and preferences of the tourist market are constantly changing and so are also the strategies of hotel marketing and promotion of its accommodation.

The last few years have seen web marketing gaining ground step by step compared to what the manuals define “classic” marketing. Now all the hoteliers, despite some initial diffidence, have realized the enormous potential hidden in the online channels of communication and diffusion, tools that are able to increase the visibility of their hotel by increasing direct bookings and disintermediation in general.

The online sales and communication channels are all those channels that allow to increase the visibility and presence of their hotel on the web. These channels range from the official website, to the OTA portals, up to the engagement on social networks.

With this preamble, we are not saying that digital marketing must completely replace traditional marketing, the two modes must be balanced and coexist, but web marketing allows a stronger and more direct interaction between the customer and the accommodation in the selection phase of the ideal structure by the traveler.

Why is web marketing prevailing?

The first question is not why web marketing is dominating over classic marketing, as the answer is quite obvious: “now if you are not present online, you do not exist“.
So the question to ask is “why can I no longer do without web marketing?“.

We answer this epochal question with 3 reasons:

1) Power goes to connected customers

Globalization has paved the playing field, so with a proper web marketing strategy you can get almost anywhere.
The 30-room boutique hotel can reach customers all over the world, and must not do so through wasteful advertising campaigns “heaped” on television, on the radio or in print media. It can do so through targeted and highly targeted ads that also offer more precise and measurable results through the principle of conscious demand and latent demand (we talked about it here).
At this precise moment in history, power is in the hands of connected clients, and it is to them that web advertising must be directed.

2) F Factor

Philip Kotler, the father of modern marketing, claims that most customers believe more in “Factor F” (friends, families, Facebook fans) that is friends, family and online followers.

So word of mouth, reviews, brands … are the keys that determine the choice of one structure over another.

3) 75% Marketing – 25% Sale

Emblematic is a sentence by Frank Merenda, marketing and sales expert, who states:
“The secret of selling today is to understand that 75% of the work must be done before, and this job is called Marketing.
The secret is that – today more than ever – the things you do before getting in touch with the customer are important”.

For this reason, marketing, and in particular web marketing, must be able to attract customers’ attention and communicate effectively the reality of their accommodation.

What are the four cardinal points of hotel web marketing?

After understanding how the web is now an irreplaceable source for developing communication and the promotion of its accommodation, let’s define what are the four cardinal points of the hotel web marketing.

  1. Content Marketing
  2. Visual Marketing
  3. Email Marketing
  4. Social Media Marketing

Peering the list you realize how the items listed are a real funnel, in fact in a first phase are going to create the contents necessary to advertise their accommodation (content marketing). These contents must be presented in a captivating and professional form that have a specific graphic appearance (visual marketing).
At this point the contents must be promoted; promotion can take place through various strategies such as email marketing or through social media. Social media is a promotional vehicle with a huge size and an important step to reach the ultimate goal ie direct bookings.

To address these issues in depth, we have dedicated an article to each of them, simply click on the links to be redirected to the respective topic of hotel marketing.

Enjoy the reading 🙂

 

 

How to set rates and prices for your hotel

Tariffe e Prezzi hotel

Short practical guide on how to create a simple but effective pricing strategy for your hotel

In this article we will talk about a possible basic strategies to follow to correctly set rates and prices for your accommodation.

This need arises from the desire to apply a hotel tariff policy that is weighted and based on cost analysis, these values must be analyzed carefully in order to create a correct hotel management strategy.

The rules vary, depending on the context in which the structure is located and its type: so, for example, a business hotel in a Fair Area will follow different paradigms compared to a boutique resort in the hills of Tuscany. Despite this we want to try to define some basic lines that can be applied by most hoteliers.

Difference between “fare” and “price”

Let’s start from the basics, let’s immediately clarify by defining what is the difference between the concept of “fare” and “price“.

The price is the economic amount to which we sell an accommodation for a given combination of rate and day, while the rate is the composition of name, booking conditions and basic treatment.

So to give a practical example a rate can be called “Non-refundable Bed And Breakfast“. As you can guess from the name our rate “Non-refundable Bed And Breakfast” will most likely be a rate that provides as a basic treatment that of “stay and breakfast” (BB) that once booked does not offer free cancellation.

How to define rates: a practical example of strategy

Let’s go straight to the practice, as a prerequisite to simplify we assume that your accommodation does not have a restaurant or, even if it had, imagine that you prefer not to sell together with your stay half board (HB) or full board (FB).
We therefore want to sell only the RO treatments (room only) and BB (Bed & Breakfast).

The first thing to do is to create at least 4 rates in the management software of your hotel:

Trattamento Nome Tariffa Condizioni
RO Room only Free cancellation within 7 days, 1 night charge for cancellations within 6 days
RO “Non-refundable” room only Advance payment, cancellation not provided
BB Bed and Breakfast Free cancellation within 7 days, 1 night charge for cancellations within 6 days
BB Bed and Breakfast Prepayment, cancellation not provided

What is described in the table above is a standard configuration, to which must be added, however, the important condition of automatic closure of non-refundable rates. The closing of the rates can be set for 15 days before the reservation date. Obviously, non-refundable bookings must provide for a discount on the “sister” reimbursable rate.

Therefore, non-refundable bookings will only be available if the reservation is registered at least 15 days before the check-in date.
This precaution is necessary to avoid the sale of non-refundable “below” rates, making “normal” rates less and less relevant and convenient for the customer.

What do we want to say?
The probability that guest Mario Rossi will cancel a reservation made 2 days before his check-in is much lower than that of a booking registered 2 months in advance.
But not only that, by encouraging early bookings with a discount, the hotelier registers more early bookings and thus has more time to plan and optimize.

How to set prices.

Best Available Rate (BAR), Rack Rate e Bottom Rate

Once the rates to be sold have been defined, we need to understand what prices to apply in order to be competitive and profitable.
The study of the right price is not trivial and to be taken lightly because this depends on many factors not all easily measurable.

Sometimes this aspect is seen as the bare and raw rate management, that is the price reduction carried out by the hotel owner in a certain period of the year to mitigate a forecast of low employment, but it is absolutely not like that!

Very often we find ourselves talking to receptive structures that set their prices by shaping those of a competitor. This strategy is not entirely wrong but it is potentially very dangerous.
We consider it dangerous mainly because the resulting prices do not derive from a calculation based on our own numbers but on impressions.

We explain better, when we say calculation “based on numbers” we mean that a hotel should firstly carry out a study of company costs in order to know its cost items (fixed and variable) and, based on these, calculate the Bottom Rate, that is the minimum price at which it is convenient to sell a room. Going below the “bottom” price, costs are higher than earnings and it is not cheaper to sell.

Fixed costs Fixed costs are those costs that are not affected by the greater or lesser presence of guests, for example: costs for rent or salaries for staff.
Variable costs Variable costs are determined by the presence or absence of guests and may be laundry and linen costs or raw materials related to breakfast / buffet.
Bottom Rate Price below which to sell a room becomes anti-economic

Attention to image damage

To be precise, we can say that in some cases the calculation of the bottom rate not only looks at the balance sheet numbers of the hotel but also takes into account the damage of image caused by selling housing at a price too low.

BAR (Best Available Rate)

From the diametrically opposed side we have the Rack Rate, this is the maximum price at which you want to sell a specific accommodation.

Between these two values, which obviously vary by room type, we find the “BAR” or the “Best Available Rates“. These are the sales prices of a room for a certain day.

These BAR prices for a given day vary (going up and down) based on factors such as:

  • Occupancy rate;
  • Season or day of the week;
  • Events and manifestations.

So once the hotelier has “carved into the rock” what are the minimum (bottom) and maximum (rack) prices for him, the application of prices (ie BAR) is done on the basis of market factors.

In the example below we are going to show 3 different price ranges that can be applied to the same accommodation. Generally, the number of BARs with which an average accommodation facility operates is around 6-7, so as to give the hotelier the opportunity to appropriately price the price based on the business trend.

Room type Best Available Rate name 1 adult 2 adults
Double room BAR 1 – low inflow (bottom rate) 89€ 169€
Double room BAR2 – medium inflow 99€ 189€
Double room BAR3 – high inflow 119€ 219€

 

How to set your own rates on OTA portals

The OTA portals are a very valid partner for the hotel, which offers an indispensable sales window for many hoteliers, but it is important to set up your hotel in a thoughtful way.

The first basic rule is to never sell at lower prices on portals than your booking engine or even compared to telephone/email bookings. For this reason, a strategy that the hotelier can follow may be to choose not to sell the “non-refundable” and/or “room only” rates on the OTA portal.

Our suggestion

In the case of the above example in which we created 4 rates, a strategy that we recommend provides for the sale on the OTA portals of a single rate or the repayable B&B rate, applying the same prices on the OTA portals on the booking engine, but also the exact same cancellation conditions (thus respecting the rate parity).

On the booking engine, however, it will be possible for the traveler to purchase a room at a lower price by choosing the room-only rate and the other 2 non-refundable rates. In this way, the user gives evidence that by booking directly, one has, if nothing else, a wider choice and convenience.

How to interface the management software and the Channel Manager

The above can be easily configured in a modern hotel management software such as Slope.

The power of a modern management software lies in the possibility of defining the rate and price rules in the configuration phase of its management, once connected to the channel manager Slope the OTA portals, the system will work automatically synchronizing reservations, prices and availability on all the sales channels of the hotel (direct bookings, OTA, booking engine) following the desired rules!

 

4 factors that make customers flee from your hotel’s website

Hotel errori sito web

It is now assumed that most travelers prefer to book their vacations online.
The statistics speak of 4 people out of 5 who complete the process of purchase/booking exclusively via internet.

Even more interesting is the data provided by La Stampa, in which:

45 percent of Italians believe they can get lower fares by visiting hotel websites directly.

While the other half (55 percent) believe it is better to rely on price comparison portals or online travel agencies.

Given this fact, every hotel owner should ask himself if his site is able to effectively convert its visitors.

Here are 4 factors that make customers flee from your hotel’s website.

More than 50% of the accommodations commit at least 3 of these 4 errors that we are about to tell you.

1 – Your site is not updated

It will seem trivial and terribly obvious, but very often the site is the reason why users do not book. The site of the accommodation must have clear and readable texts and easy to reach commands.

Instead, you often come across sites that are never updated, with little information badly presented and a graphic appearance that discourages the reading of any information. Also not to be underestimated are the links of the non-functioning call to action, and moreover sites where there are special offers and packages for past or no longer valid periods.

In addition, the site must also be mobile friendly, or optimized for those who want to book via the smartphone, because a site difficult to access from mobile devices leads to the loss of a considerable catchment area.

2 – Are your photos professional and of high quality?

I admit, I’m an amateur photographer, and for this reason pictures are particularly close to my heart, but I guarantee that it is not for this reason that I inserted this second point in the article.

The images must be of high quality, possibly taken by professionals, and must highlight the peculiarities of your structure. This is an underestimated element, but a quality photo always has a big impact on users, it is the business card that puts the customer and the hotelier in contact for the first time.

The web communication has left more and more space for multimedia contents such as images and video, for this reason it is unthinkable to improvise images that are not captivating or even worse ugly and conspicuously amateur.

3 – Do you have a booking engine? Is it connected to the site in the right way?

The fundamental element to increase the number of direct bookings from the site of a tourist accommodation is undoubtedly the booking engine (we talked about it here in depth).

But any booking engine is not enough: you need a tool with specific features. A good booking engine must be fully integrated into the site of the structure (the brand of the structure must be consistent between site and booking engine). In this way you will get a very effective call to action for the benefit of bookings on our site.

Another important aspect is linked to payment systems. The ideal booking engine allows the user to pay with as many methods as possible and – above all – meets the highest standards of transaction security.

But above all you will have to offer advantages to visitors who choose to book directly from you, so as to increase the conversion rate and customer loyalty!

4 – Do you have a contact form with dozens of fields !?

Some hoteliers who do not intend to focus on a tool like the booking engine, prefer to insert a contact form. Too often we see contact forms with many fields to fill out, a factor that often scares the potential customer who decides to abandon the navigation, preferring a simpler booking system as an OTA channel.

Our advice is to avoid going beyond the classic fields such as name-surname, email, telephone number, type of stay.
Do not forget to specify an alternative contact form such as the phone number of the structure, which however will not save you if the potential customer is booking at night.

(Having a booking engine is not that bad, is it?)

Conclusions

The care of these details, from the modern website to the clear and intuitive booking engine, are an investment that you can not do without, there are no excuses.

These tools do not only depend on future earnings, but also on the credibility and reliability of your way of working, in a few words the first image that you offer to the customer.

 

Airbnb Channel Manager; 3 tips to use Airbnb the right way!

Channel Manager Airbnb

If you’re a hotel manager, you’re probably wondering if and how to sell your rooms on the Airbnb portal with an Airbnb Channel Manager.

In this article we will give some practical advice on how to make the right choices and avoid making mistakes. We want to share some tips on how to optimize the management of rates and availability, taking into account the new paradigm of commissions introduced by the portal.

As you know, Airbnb has marked a turning point in the way of travel of millions of tourists, the Californian startup founded in 2007 in San Francisco makes available on its website every type of solution: from beautiful houses to simple apartments, going to homes on tree up to ancient abbeys.

3 million structures in 191 countries, 65,000 cities and 150 million guests

Recently Airbnb is winking at hotels, especially those structures that offer tourists an “experiential” holiday, we try to better rattle this concept.

Airbnb for Hotels

The goal of Airbnb is to increase its offer, setting as a goal to arrive in 2028 to a billion guests a year.

There are currently over 180,000 B&B’s and more than 55,000 boutique hotel rooms available on Airbnb. With this aim, one of the innovations introduced in the last few months and more debated in 2018 was the opening of AirBnb to hotels.

At the hotel that would like to sell their rooms on the portal, a seemingly advantageous commission is required ranging from 3% to 5% (the amount varies according to flexible rates and cancellation policies).

If for the hotelier the commissions are reduced and very attractive, it is important to note that the tourist, on the other hand, will have to pay a commission that varies between 10% and 15% of the total.

Going then to add the two percentages of commissions, both the hotel and that on the shoulders of the tourist, it is easy to see how after all we have an alignment of costs to those that are the costs of the main OTA portals.

1) Why do I need a channel manager to manage Airbnb?

Almost always, a hotel sells its rooms through many online and traditional channels. Manually managing the availability, restrictions and rates is a titanic effort that must be absolutely delegated to a software, for this reason the “channel managers” were born.

Therefore, the hotel that chooses to sell its accommodations on Airbnb must absolutely include this channel among those synchronized by its channel manager in order to automate its management.

We therefore expect that an Airbnb channel manager will be able to communicate 2-way with the portal; 2-way means that it is able to send updates from the management system to the portal, but it can also receive the bookings and insert them in the planning of the management itself.

The limitations of the channel manager connection via iCal

Airbnb offers all users the ability to update openings and closings by sharing a calendar in iCal format.

ICal is a very limited tool because it allows the hotel to synchronize only the openings and closures but does not offer any way to send information to the portal about restrictions (minimum stay, maximum stay …) and prices.

As you can easily guess, this is an acceptable limitation for those who run very small businesses (one or two apartments) but become unmanageable for a hotel that applies sudden price changes and receives many bookings.

2) Connect the 2-way Airbnb Channel Manager:

Success stories – Interview with Rossano Allochis, co-director of Vigneto di Roddi

Vigneto di Roddi Slope

Right at the top of the Langhe hills, stands the Vigneto di Roddi, a structure that offers its guests rooms with attention to detail and a typical cuisine revisited by creative and curious proposals.
In this wonderfully restored farmhouse, immersed in the vineyards and hazelnut trees of the UNESCO heritage from where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the most beautiful valleys of the Langhe, we met Rossano Allochis, partner with his brother Manolo of Vigneto di Roddi.
Manolo and Rossano Allochis are respectively Chef and Maitre: strong of a solid experience, gained both in Italy and abroad, they have chosen this Ravinali’s hill, in Roddi, to stop and put into practice the skills acquired in years of intense training.

Rossano told us the story of Roddi’s Vineyard and why he chose Slope as a management software.

How was the “Vigneto di Roddi” born?

The farmhouse was built in 1915 where lived Modesto Lodali, grower of hazelnuts, breeder and small wine producer. He owned about 45 calves and produced wine at home for friends and some families in the area. The farmhouse was abandoned for several years, following the death of his uncle Modesto, and then was inherited by Walter Lodali. With his mum Rita the renovation works begin in 2001, and at that moment they had the brilliant idea of creating a restaurant with some rooms; excellent location for such a structure, called Vigneto (vineyard).

My brother Manolo and I have been managing the Vigneto since 2005, then we were 28 and 26 years old respectively and since that day we have tried to put our experience into practice in an area that is always very popular with foreigners. It has been a continuous growth that has brought us here.

What experience can you enjoy at “Vigneto di Roddi”?

In addition to the already mentioned innovative cuisine and rooms overlooking the UNESCO hills, Vigneto di Roddi combines the values of the Langhe, starting from food and wine with a winery that reflects Piemonte’s viticulture, just think of wines such as Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero.
A strong point of Vigneto di Roddi is its strategic position where you can carry out the most varied activities: from a simple visit to the neighboring castles, to trekking routes in the mountains or to tourism linked to mountain biking. Moreover, it is an hour’s drive from cities such as Turin and Milan.

The “Vigneto di Roddi” also had the honor of hosting some famous people, right?

In February 2016 we had lunch with Gigi Buffon, his partner Ilaria D’Amico and the little Leopoldo. Furthermore, we have had the honor of hosting several Torino players, of which my brother and I are fans.

Why did you choose Slope as management software?

Together with my brother Manolo we were looking for a management software for our structure and the choice fell on Slope because it was exactly what we needed, suitable for our reality and our needs.
A special mention should be made to Michela (Sales Manager) who was always available with us and showed us the software in every facet.

Is there a Slope feature that captured you?

First of all it is an intuitive software and this helps the hotelier to carry out the various daily tasks. I really appreciate the fact that the system is constantly updated, it is not a static thing, but rather are made continuous improvements to optimize the user experience.
If I had to identify a feature in particular I would say that of estimates; I find it very convenient and quick that you can send a quote in a few clicks where the customer will see and book the solution that he prefers, so this booking will automatically synchronize in the management.

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How can we choose a management software for hotels?

come scegliere software gestionale hotel

If you are a hotelier looking for a new hotel management software for your accommodation (hotel, farmhouse, country house, b & b …) you will surely be full of questions and you will probably try to understand what are the features that you can not do without .
There are many software solutions that would spread long lists of functions, additional modules, connections to services and much more; what we will do in this article is try to understand which are the main functional blocks you can not do without.

First of all, we start from the essential concept that in order to efficiently manage one’s own accommodation, it is essential to have a hotel management software that is able to simplify both daily and planning work.
For this reason, the management software PMS (Property Management System) needs to be integrated with 4 key features that are:

  • booking engine;
  • channel manager;
  • analysis and revenue tools;
  • marketing tools.

In the next lines we will analyze how these tools should be connected to the management software.

1) Booking engine integrated with PMS management software;

The booking engine is the tool at the base of the disintermediation hotel, is the backbone to define a sales strategy that does not sink its roots only in the sale through the OTA portals.

We open a short parenthesis only to remember that if your structure depends massively on the OTA portals, ie the number of bookings you receive come mainly from these channels … then you have a problem (even quite serious).
One step towards solving this problem is certainly that of having a booking engine.

How do I choose a good booking engine?

First of all, the booking engine must offer an attractive interface that is both simple and fast; able to record a reservation in a few steps even by users without special knowledge of the web.
The second fundamental factor is that it is integrated with the management software PMS.

Booking engine integrated with PMS: what does it mean?

  1. Rates, offers, conditions of sale, restrictions, rooms etc are specified directly in the management software PMS;
  2. Each booking received through the booking engine must be entered automatically in the management PMS schedule.
  3. The booking data must be saved in the customer database of the management software (CRM) automatically.

2) Channel Manager synchronized with the management system

The purpose of the channel manager is to make the hotelier forget the manual operations of synchronization and updating of rates and availability on the various OTA portals such as Booking.com, Expedia or Hotels.com.

A good channel manager fights every day alongside the hotel owner to avoid problematic overbooking, which otherwise would lead to very unpleasant situations that could affect the professionalism of the structure.
This battle becomes much easier if the sales rules (prices, availability and restrictions) can be specified in a single software, of course we refer to the management PMS.

For this reason, to allow the hotelier to work in an excellent way and to reduce to zero the possibility of making mistakes, the channel manager must be integrated into a single software solution.

From a purely practical point of view, the scenarios that can occur are:

  • The hotel receives a reservation from an OTA portal, this will be sent to the channel manager who will manage it by sending it to the hotel management software, which will show the details of the case;
    or
  • The hotel inserts into its management system a reservation received directly. As soon as the booking is entered automatically the management software PMS must inform the channel manager that the number of rooms for sale has been reduced by 1 unit; the channel manager will update the OTA portals with the reduction of availability.

3) Management software for the control of the revenue hotel

You can not make rates choices based on impressions.

When you manage a company that operates in the hospitality industry, first of all you need to know your numbers, only in this way you can analyze them carefully, thus defining sales strategies and budgets.
The idea of improvising revenue policies based on the sixth sense or summary analysis is therefore not humanly conceivable.

First you need to start with knowing the fixed costs and variable costs of the accommodation, these are the basis for drawing a line in the sand that represents your break even point (price below which it is not convenient to sell).
It is out of the scope of this article to explain what are the criteria and strategies with which to define the bottom rates of your hotel, but what we want to convey is the need to have a software solution that can present numbers and indices to the hotel so that you can make informed choices in the tariff area.

For this reason, a management software for hotels must be able to highlight comparative data on personalized time intervals, must also be agile and simple enough to give the hotelier the ability to adapt BAR and OTA availability in a few clicks.

4) Hotel Marketing tools in your hotel management software

The diktat is one and only one:

Do not try to follow trends, create them!

A well designed hotel management software must integrate marketing tools that can promote site, promotions, rates and social networks in an effective and targeted way. The aim is to offer the potential customer the stay he has always wanted, analyzing opening rates and conversions of the campaigns sent.

This discussion also includes the possibility to send estimates in a simple but extremely professional way, creating templates that can enchant future customers even before they arrive in the structure.
Too often you see hotels (even of good quality) send emails with imaginative formatting due to scraps of copy and paste with typos that can create embarrassing quid pro quo with their prospective clients. Not to mention the incredible amount of time needed to create tailor-made offers to every customer who contacts the front desk (especially during high season).

Conclusions

We can therefore say that nowadays to keep pace in such a competitive market it is essential to have a management software that in a single environment gives the possibility to manage every aspect of its structure (booking synchronization, check-in, billing, campaigns of email).

 

How to choose a management software for hotels and why you should retire your current management software

come scegliere software gestionale hotel (2)

A hotel management software is undoubtedly a fundamental tool for the hotel owner and his team. Without modern software it is virtually impossible to manage any accommodation facility efficiently and economically.

If we could choose only one concept, just one, to pass to a reader who has no intention of continuing to read beyond this period, then we would choose this:

If you are the manager or director of a hotel and DO NOT USE modern management software correctly, then you are very likely to be losing money, a lot of money!

It is known to insiders that the hospitality industry works like this, an empty room has a cost, every day that an apartment remains unsold it is not only a loss of income but also a series of inevitable fixed costs that add up.

We immediately state to our readers that in this article we will not respond directly to the ambitious question of “how to have rooms always full” (we have written other posts that revolve around this theme) but we want to explain what we think are the concepts to know in order to choose and evaluate a management software.

If you too are one of those hoteliers who thinks:

My management software is a “Ferrari” but we use only 10% because it does so many things and it would take a lifetime to learn all of them.

Um, we’re sorry to tell you, but probably your software is NOT a “Ferrari”!

Throw away the instruction manual

Steve Jobs was firmly convinced that a product should not have an instruction manual. If a technology product needs a manual or a guide then it means that this has been designed badly.

To have a product that does not need a manual, however, there is a need for meticulous project work, study of interfaces and implementation rigor.
The logical disposition of the elements must make the user experience natural, intuitive and immediate because only in this way a user is able to use an instrument in its entirety.
Suffice it to say that the greatest innovations of the new millennium are born as a synthesis of simplicity and immediacy, only thanks to this fundamental feature were born and spread tools such as: social portals, work software, tablets, smartphones and virtual shops. These tools are used daily by people of all ages thanks to their immediacy and ease of use.

Returning then to the key concept of the article, a management software for hotels, to be really powerful (a real “Ferrari”), must be a software:

  • easy to use;
  • with an excellent usability (user experience);
  • that offer features fully exploited by all members of your team. In practice, software that helps you in your daily operations and can guide you and your employees in daily tasks.

Staff in the hotel is not set, there are periods of high season in which there is more need for help, for this reason the management software should not be a brake in the choice of a receptionist or a hybrid figure that will take care of the front desk and other tasks.
For this reason it is necessary to adopt software solutions with which an operator can become familiar in half a day, without the need to purchase packages or training courses.

Speaking of management software we are then to define what are the basic functionalities that fully fall within the sphere of competence of the management system:

  • Booking calendar;
  • Check-in and check-out management;
  • Housed and ISTAT cards;
  • Management of rates, prices and restrictions;
  • Billing system;
  • Tax reporting;
  • Statistical reporting;
  • Lists;
  • Rates;
  • Booking conditions.

The above list is an idea of maximum with regard to the functionality that must be performed by a management software for hotels, but it is important to remember that a PMS can not be taken alone but must be connected to a booking engine and a channel manager.
Thus creating an ecosystem of integrated and connected software tools you can drastically simplify your work and reduce the possibility of making mistakes.

As we have explained in other articles of this blog, management software is not the only thing a hotelier needs to keep up with the continuous changes in the tourism sector.
The management system is fundamental to combine the tools that allow the hotel to increase its profits by raising the number of direct bookings and its online presence.

Just think of the marketing tools that once were seen as auxiliary tools and contour, today they have become primary tools to sell more and nibble that economic marginality that at the end of the year considerably shifts the hotel budgets to positive signs.
Email marketing campaigns must be defined in calm periods and the sending must be scheduled for the exact day in which it is believed that it will be more successful.
It is important to have a unique tool that keeps track of all customers (customer relationship manager CRM) and that in a single screen shows:ù

  • Customer details;
  • Documents;
  • Past and future bookings;
  • Note;
  • Email campaigns sent;
  • Estimates sent;
  • Tags and membership groups;

Therefore, buying a management software for a hotel that is an end in itself (not connected to instruments able to increase the number of bookings) is a big limitation that can result in a significant economic loss for the hotel.

The management software for hotels is also known by the name of PMS, this is the acronym of Property Management System, a term widespread in the hotel sector, but often is incorrectly interchanged with the term CRS which instead means Central Reservation System.

What’s the difference between PMS and CRS?

A CRS software is a centralized reservation management system, created to connect a structure to all its sales channels (GDS, Booking Engine, OTA, Metasearch …) while a PMS is the part of software dedicated to the management of the accommodation.
A receptive structure needs both the tools and it has the necessity that these work in symbiosis between them, for this reason it is fundamental to choose a software solution that contains both.

What’s the difference between a cloud based hotel management and a non-cloud (on premise)?

A cloud management software is accessible via an internet connection because the server machines that run the application are “remote” or physically located outside the building of the accommodation.
A non-cloud software (on premise) is installed on a server owned by the hotel owner. The hotel owner and his staff are therefore responsible for maintenance, security and updating of the server machine.

Choosing a cloud management solution compared to a non-cloud offers a number of significant advantages, and some of these are:

  • Zeroing the risk of damage and server failures;
  • Ability to access information from multiple locations also located;
  • No server maintenance management;
  • Speed in receiving platform updates from the supplier;
  • Automatic data backup;
  • Reduced costs by not having to buy server machines;
  • Drastic reduction of the risk of data loss (viruses, human errors, damage to the machine).

Why you should NOT choose a “cheap” hotel management software

I need something simple, without too many frills, an immediate solution that does 4 things but does it well.

Pay attention to this sentence, evaluate it well because management is at the base of your business, sometimes choosing savings is much more expensive than selecting a software solution for your needs.
A modern management software is an investment, and as such a hotel entrepreneur must measure its ROI.
Measuring ROI is not always easy and immediate and for this reason many hoteliers run into the mistake of choosing an inadequate solution for their needs.

In the specific case of a management software solution for the hotel, there is the risk that investing little, then buying an unsuitable management solution, in the end there is a significant economic remittance for loss of income, in short, to put it popular proverb: “who spends little, spends a lot“.

 

Goodle AdWords or Facebook Ads: what’s better to promote your hotel?

Google Adword Facebook Ads

If you are interested in tourism web marketing, you will surely be asked whether it is better to focus on Google AdWords or Facebook Ads to reach your customers even more effectively.

At the moment, Google and Facebook are the major online pay-per-click advertising channels that make it possible to reach an incredibly vast audience by following a few steps, offering the opportunity to control the budget and segmenting its audience in detail through accurate criteria. .

These tools have given life to two pivotal concepts that are increasingly mentioned: a latent demand and a conscious demand, indispensable terms for intercepting the web audience and for defining a successful strategy.

Conscious demand (active traffic)

A conscious demand means that target that consciously searches for a specific product or service (active traffic).
To do this it generally uses the search engine (Google), and in this case tools like SEO or Google AdWords are essential to intercept the conscious question.

Example: Mario Rossi has to go to Perugia for work reasons, so he decides to book a hotel and in the search engine he goes to formulate a query like this: “three-star hotel Perugia“.
In this case, as already mentioned, it is essential to prepare an adequate strategy through BigG advertising.

Here is the guide on how to set up your Google AdWords campaign.

Latent demand (passive traffic)

A latent demand identifies the target that does not consciously and actively search for a specific product or service, but which may be interested in it.

This type of passive traffic can be intercepted on some social networks like Facebook. Zuckerberg’s platform, which collects more than 2 billion users, has such a quantity of data that it is the most appropriate and consolidated tool for this kind of demand.

Example: Mario Rossi is shaking the Facebook wall while waiting for the bus, suddenly appears in his home a sponsored offer of a farmhouse just a few kilometers from him that for the Valentine’s Day is offering a pack with dinner, overnight and health centre. Mario Rossi had not yet decided how to spend Valentine’s Day with his girlfriend but has already done some online research for stays in Umbria for that period.

Here the guide on how to set up your campaign with Facebook Ads.

Can Google AdWords and Facebook Ads be used in synergy?

Absolutely yes!
Both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are incredibly powerful advertising platforms that meet virtually every need.

It seems obvious how trying to find a winner in the dispute does not make any sense; on the contrary, it is more useful to evaluate the strengths of both, trying to see them in a complementary way and trying to implement a strategy that can make them work in synergy.

The synergy of the two instruments allows to optimize the economic investments and therefore to lower the cost per conversion.
The two tools are absolutely complementary and allow the first (Google AdWords) to bring new traffic and users on their website while the second (Facebook Ads) to bring back on their site those who came out without buying.

To understand better, let’s take a look at the diagram above. We have schematized a simple flow of traffic on your website through different channels.

Organic traffic (not paid), Google AdWords and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are used to convey people on their website, once they reach the site they are profiled and put on the list of potential customers because probably interested.

A user who lands on any page of the hotel’s website can then perform two actions:

1) Book directly through booking engine, email, call in the structure;

2) Browse the site and exit.

In the second scenario, ie in the event that the purchase process has not been successful, you can/must create a retargeting campaign through Facebook Ads reporting lists of profiled users who have visited the site and are therefore potentially interested but haven’t bought.

A practical case

Do you still have any doubts? We quickly see a practical case.

Relais Villasole (fantasy structure) is a 35-room boutique hotel in the province of Perugia. The manager of Relais Villasole decides to create a promotional package for Valentine’s Day through Google AdWords. At the same time he decides to listen to the Facebook Pixel, so as to intercept the visitors and be able to retarget on Facebook.

This strategy is useful to avoid “shooting in the pile”, thus going to intercept those who have expressed a conscious demand, continuing to intrigue the potential customer with our contents.

Recapping:

  • Intercept the traffic that comes from the conscious demand with Google AdWords;
  • Activate and “listen” to the Facebook Pixel;
  • Do Retargeting through Facebook Ads.

Users surf the web in a frenetic, fast, distracted way. Advertising campaigns can attract the attention of a user and convey it to your product but other distractions of any kind can take it away making you lose the conversion. For this reason it is even more important to re-propose to potential customers what you have to offer so as to increase the possibility of conversion and sales.

For any doubt or curiosity, do not hesitate to contact us by sending an email to info@slope.it or by writing to us on Facebook.

Channel Manager Booking.com: everything you need to know

Channel Manager Booking.com

In 1996 Booking.com was only a Dutch startup, today it is a giant of the travel sector; its portal has established itself in the world market, offering 1,754,664 facilities in 130,898 destinations in 227 countries and regions all over the world.

More than 1,550,000 overnight stays are booked on the platform every day.

9 out of 10 managers of accommodations have found themselves in recent years to sell their rooms on Booking, increasingly wondering how convenient it is and looking for solutions to optimize their sales strategies.

In this article we will try to shed light on how to use a channel manager to sell their rooms on Booking.com in the right way!

Let’s start from the basics: what is the channel manager?

A channel manager is a software that can synchronize availability, rates, restrictions and reservations between your hotel management system and online sales portals.
We had already talked about the characteristics of a good channel manager here.

How can we connect a Channel Manager to Booking.com?

In this section we will explain what procedure an hotelier must follow to connect his channel manager to the Booking.com OTA.
First of all it is essential that the channel manager you have adopted is the official partner of Booking.

After that you will need to access the Booking.com extranet:
• Click on the Settings icon and choose channel manager from the drop-down menu;
• Choose the channel manager with which you want to connect and send the request;
• The channel manager provider will receive a request from Booking to confirm the connection with the structure.
• The channel manager provider after confirming the request, will perform the map (connection) of the rooms between Booking.com and the management software.

Price management: Parity Rate yes, Parity Rate no

On August 2nd, after a three year long journey, the Italian Senate approved with 146 yes and 113 no, the “DDL Concorrenza”, with which the clauses of the Parity Rate are definitively abolished.
After an initial blow and response between Federalberghi and Booking.com, the debate has not subsided and many have wondered what strategy to adopt: sell on all channels at the same price or apply a discount for direct sales?

Let’s make an example!

On the one hand, some hoteliers have decided to place better offers on their websites, by inserting on Booking surcharges that usually correspond to commissions, for example:

  • € 100.00 on theri booking engine (direct booking);
  • € 120.00 on OTA portals (e.g. Booking.com, Expedia);

Other hoteliers have decided to keep the same price both on the official website and on Booking, choosing to be more competitive on the latter, despite the final commissions.

Why do I need a 2-way XML channel manager to manage Booking?

Whether you want to respect the price parity between the various sales channels or want to apply surcharges on certain portals, in any case you need a software that can manage the operations automatically.

The channel manager has the task of synchronizing: prices, availability and reservations on all online sales and distribution portals; this is because managing manually availability, restrictions and tariffs is a truly exhausting effort that must be absolutely delegated to a software, so as to automate and simplify its management.

A hotel that wants to sell on Booking.com therefore needs to have a 2-way channel manager with an XML system, because it has a bidirectional interface with a “server to server” communication able to exchange data between the channel manager itself. and OTAs, with which prices, availability and registration of bookings are exchanged.

It will also need to be able to update:

  • prices;
  • minimum stay restriction;
  • maximum stay restriction;
  • availability;
  • closures.

But it must also allow you to receive real-time updates on registered bookings; this implies that for a simpler and more efficient management of the structure it is advisable to use an all-in-one software that integrates booking engine and channel manager, so you can keep everything under control.

Slope Channel Manager

If you are wondering if the Slope’s Channel Manager is able to help you manage the various OTA channels, through automatic updating of prices, availability and reservations … the answer is yes 🙂 Contact us!