Andrew Metcalfe, Chief Technical Officer at Guestline, who deliver technology solutions to hotels, offers his expertise into how the hospitality industry can stay competitive in the forthcoming year.
1. Website Simplicity
A recent study of 2,000 people conducted by Guestline, looked how people book their hotels and the factors involved in room cancellations. It was found that over a quarter of people take into high consideration the quality and detail of a hotel's website (such as photographs and information) before making a direct booking online1.
Investing money into your websites simplicity in all stages of the guest journey will help acquire traffic, increase conversion rates and drive more people to book direct. The simplicity of website use (including less re-directs) will result trustworthiness of the potential customer. Hotel management may also find reporting efficient with less redirect windows to consider.
Andrew advises; "The booking ecosystem will be an interesting area of change in 2020, as Airbnb, Google and others start to enter, many of these will create options to drive people to your website but also more competition. If you can show your offering more easily, make booking slick and then integrate it to an onsite experience it will encourage guests to use you for converting their search to a reservation."
2. Upselling Tech to boost profitability
Carefully choosing the right time to upsell a guest's hotel booking is crucial to a hotels' additional revenue stream. After a booking has been made there is a fresh window of opportunity to upsell, as guests will reflect on their budget spend and perhaps feel there is room to spare on extra luxuries and see what they may be missing out on.
Andrew believes;"Upselling is an important aspect of hotel revenue. Upselling is also a conversion killer if done at the reservation confirmation stage. Don't mistake upselling with configuration, configuring a booking needs to happen but upselling can happen subsequently through nudge marketing via emails, push notifications or even on arrival at the hotel. Many systems are developing to help you keep conversion rates high but total revenue retained."
Technology such as Upsell Guru offer options to schedule notifications and alerts through different communication platforms to guests after collecting their details from a booking. The added value can range between upgrading to meals to booking a premium room.
3. Secure payment systems to increase consumer confidence & credibility
Where credibility issues are concerned, payment systems are the leading topic. It made headlines in 2019 for fake bookings, hacker attacks and unsafe jobs in hotel operations.
An investment in secure payment gateways protects the data of hotel guests, and the hotels credibility. For example, if a guest was to see the wrong value on an invoice, they may become wary of how secure that hotel's payment system is and look elsewhere.
A secure payment gateway also checks in advance whether the credit card exists and is covered which could reduce chargebacks. This way, the hotelier can make sure that the booking via the credit card is genuine and at the same time protect the guest's data.
"Hotel payments have adjusted to new legislation and as the move towards a more integrated guest experience aspects through check-in and checkout, invoice retrieval march on the payment aspects will have to dovetail seamlessly and accurately. Nothing erodes trust like a rekeyed payment amount being wrong and the guest having to challenge it"says Andrew
4. Self Service and Automated Check-in
In a recent survey of 2,654 consumers by the Travel Leaders Group, 78% of respondents said they would like to see self-service kiosks more widely available for check-in2.
Consumers are becoming accustomed to self-service systems as they appear across retail, leisure & transport industries. Another study, suggested that guests favour hotel self-service check-in's as it provides a faster service, results in more privacy and waiting time/lines are much shorter3.
Hoteliers could consider how their core data system might be centralised as much as possible in order to make it a less complex & more efficient guest journey from booking to check in. Technology such as guest portals can be efficient for customers to retrieve their invoices quickly and will centralise all the data for the hotelier.
Futuresens, a self- service solutions business who currently integrate with Guestline provide their insight.
Kenny McLean, Operations Director at FutureSens says that such automation relieves the hotel of many now 'unnecessary' costs and headaches:"In partnership with Guestline and specifically their Rezlynx PMS we have reduced customers front desk operations costs by up to 40%. Automation of many traditional reception tasks such as check-in, products and services upsell, key-cutting and payments are now available 24/7 and they never call in sick!"
5. An omni platform which centralises operations
Payment processes are often a slow funnel for hoteliers with multiple payment gateways and PMS providers, data stored in different areas and revenue segregated. Month to month reporting can be difficult and productivity of staff slowed.
Omni channel platforms enable you to centralise operational systems, take back control of your revenue flow and transparency of guest data, so hotel management can focus on creating the best experience for customers.
"Having all the data in one system makes presenting and acting on the data much more effective. For example, Amazon don't deliver packages 100% of the time but the rest of the experience they control, making it so easy for people to buy from them. Hotel systems will need to move this way in order to provide similarly strong guest experiences." Says Andrew
- Guestline's Booking and Cancellation 2019 study was conducted on 2,000 UK respondents. Data available upon request.
- Hospitality Tech - Why consumers like Kiosks in hotels (PDF) - Can be sent on request
Established 30 years ago, Guestline provides innovative property management, guest engagement and distribution software to the hospitality industry. Founded on cloud technology, Guestline's revenue generating solutions enable independents of all sizes and small hotel groups to achieve maximum occupancy at the most profitable rate.
With offices in the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Thailand, Guestline's property management software is currently growing revenues in businesses in 25 countries across five continents. The range of solutions include Guestline PMS, CRS, C&B, Channel Manager, EPoS, IBE, GuestStay and GuestPay. Additionally, Guestline's PMS can be integrated with nearly 200 third-party solutions via an API.