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woman wearing a protecting face mask

Covid-19, also known as the Coronavirus, is rapidly becoming a global emergency. Some countries, most notably China, Iran and Italy, have been hit by large numbers of cases. Other countries have seen lower numbers of cases but are being affected by government restrictions and a growing sense of unease in the community, in what the World Health Organization now has officially called a global pandemic. Large events and gatherings have been canceled all across the world, airlines are suspending certain routes, and the US and other countries have instituted travel restrictions.

This has serious implications for the tourism industry. Owners of hotels and vacation rentals are always seeing their businesses seriously impacted by this emergency situation. Covid-19 does not need to be a destructive force to your business, however. You can handle it effectively. Here is some advice on how to deal with the Covid-19 emergency as a hotel or vacation rental owner.

hotelier painting his/her hotel
source: www.pexels.com

Take the opportunity to improve your service offerings

During the Covid-19 emergency, especially if your property is located in an infected area, your bookings will collapse and your vacancy rates will skyrocket. It is important, however, to focus on the long term. In the short term, your property may be empty and your profits will take a hit. However, take a step back and look at how this period fits into the long-term strategy of your business.

This is a great time to review and improve your offers and services. For example, this will be the ideal time to undertaken maintenance or repairs on your property. You can use the slow period to conduct staff training, either refreshing previous training or adding to their skill set. You can also take this opportunity to develop new offerings of products for your hotel or vacation rental, and in particular to work on your marketing and targeting strategies. This will mean that once this crisis is over, you will be in an excellent position to hit the ground running with your business and make it better than ever before.

During the crisis, it is a good idea to include a message of reassurance in your digital guest communications. As you’re gearing up to deal with the virus at your hotel, provide your guests with up-to-date digital information about the actions you’re taking in regard to health and safety. This will not only enhance the service you offer to your guests but also, it will give them honest, upfront information, which is key during a crisis.

hospitality business notes
source: www.pexels.com

Maintain your rates

During these types of crises, it can be tempting to drop your rates. However, it is important that you hold steadfast and maintain your rates at their current levels. When occupancy rates are slashed due to a global emergency, reducing your rates will have no impact whatsoever on demand. For a guest who is cautious to travel due to health concerns, or is unable to do so because of flight or government restrictions, a lower price won’t convince them to book with your property.

What dropping your rates will do, however, is damage your business over the long term, much more than Covid-19 will. Once you have lowered your rates, it is very difficult to increase them again, and price recovery can literally take years. Therefore, the best solution is to maintain your rates throughout the crisis. A good thing to do at this time, however, is to make cancellation policies more flexible. This will help you to avoid bad reviews from guests who may have already booked but want to cancel because of coronavirus fears.

Maximize revenue from every guest

In the context of a downturn in demand, it is important to make sure you get maximum revenue from every guest you have. Every little bit of revenue helps, so now is the time to put efforts toward optimizing guest experiences. It’s an opportunity to prepare to offer extra services to guests in the future.

This is where extra services come in: our data shows that the highest upselling conversion comes from offering at least eight ancillary services to all of your segments. There are certain things all guests want, such as transportation, food, activities, and a great hotel experience overall. Make sure that your future guests buy these services from you rather than elsewhere.

hospitality business planning using a notebook
source: www.pexels.com

Keep marketing going

In a similar way, it is important to maintain your marketing strategy throughout the crisis. Continuing with marketing tactics is essential to attract as many guests as possible, as well as to set yourself up for maximum bookings once the crisis is over. You should be honest and upfront in your digital marketing about everything that is happening. This is, for example, an excellent opportunity to let them know about all the changes you are making regarding health and safety.

This is also the time to make practical shifts in your marketing to reflect the current situation. You may, for example, look to target local markets. There could be a great opportunity to host domestic travelers who are unable to go overseas at this time. You may also look for countries exiting the emergency and start targeting their markets also.

Final thoughts

Although there is no doubt that Covid-19 represents a significant challenge to hotels and vacation rental businesses, it can also be used as an opportunity. By holding steadfast in your rates and being creative in marketing approaches, you can use this crisis to make your business stronger, so you will be ready to hit your stride again once the crisis is over.

This is also a time to identify your most valuable business partners. These people will reveal themselves through the crisis as the ones who will communicate and cooperate with you to face the emergency together. Although it is difficult to see this global emergency as a blessing, it can be used as an opportunity for hotel and vacation rental owners in a variety of ways.

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Boutique Hotel building

Our industry is constantly changing and adapting to movements and developments. 2020 is a revolutionary year because it will firmly cement several growing trends that cannot be ignored if you want to stay relevant. 

Trend #1 Guests Will Get Serious About Sustainability

People aren’t willing to ignore the global issues we face and the social responsibility they feel you have. Showing your efforts in this space will establish trust and help your guests do “their part” as they travel.

Millennials who travel not only want boutique hotels that manage their impact but that also communicate their initiatives. Point out where you’ve made changes because this group believes the success of a business should be measured by how it impacts the world. 

Takeaways

Expand how you engage with the environmentally mindful traveler. Consider:

  • Monitoring the use of water
  • Removing single-use plastics from rooms and dining areas
  • Sourcing food from local farms
  • Offering vegan options

Trend #2 Digital Will Define the Customer Experience

Digital immersive experience on mobile
Image by FunkyFocus from Pixabay 

The future of the hospitality industry leans heavily on technology. Mobile will continue its influence on how guests book and experience their stays. A growing subset in the digital space is the use of personalized hotel smartphones available for all guests. These allow hoteliers to have a stronger connection to their guests during their visit. 

Takeaway

Yes, guests have their own phones, but allowing them the use of hotel smartphones allows you to:

  • Promote ancillary services and commercial offers
  • Collect statistical data about user behaviors
  • Reach guests inside and outside your hotel
  • Send personalized geolocated communications

An added bonus for foreign travelers is free calling and data. Some smartphones can be used at hotspots.

Trend #3 Travelers Will Want a Culturally Immersive Experience

Travelers are shifting from amenities to experiences. High-income travelers are saying they would rather spend their money on happenings than on upgraded rooms. Boutique hotels are uniquely positioned to capitalize on this trend because of their proximity to cultural hotspots and local attractions.

Takeaway

Partner with cultural centers and other local guides or experts and create experience packages. Or better yet, merge travelers’ love of cultural immersion with your digital offerings and use hotel smartphones to load your city’s best local experiences and attractions.

Geolocated points of interest allow users to be guided easily from attraction to attraction and back home to you. This allows you to be the hotel offering a culturally immersive experience, with the mobility and autonomy people desire. 

Trend #4 There Will Be a Bigger Focus on Direct Bookings

There will be a growing focus on well-designed websites with a high-quality booking engine. Ensure your visitors have a smooth experience and highlight your brand to increase visitors’ recall. 

Takeaway

Revisit your site to make sure the experience is seamless. Become fluent in SEO placement, email marketing, and social media campaigns to increase your brand’s awareness. Offer rewards to loyal customers, so they will be attracted to booking only through your site. 

Boutique hotels need to be listed on metasearch engines (search aggregators) to increase their visibility and online footprint. 

Trend #5 Boutique Hotels Should Become Insta-Worthy

Instaworthy picture
Imageby Tanja-Denise Schantz from Pixabay 

Consumers will continue their photo and hashtag craze. Hoteliers are recognizing how these influencers can attract business organically through clever and posed photos.

Takeaway

You don’t need an overhaul or remodel. A few creative touches will up your hashtag prominence. Unusual elements outside like local plants or an artist’s mural can do the trick. Inside, focus on original food and drink items or different textures and colors in common spaces. 

Customers are always evolving, and the most successful hoteliers stay ahead of trends. Make the most of them in 2020!

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travel technology

Technology continues to influence every part of our lives, from communication and commerce through to navigation and networking. No aspect of modern life has been impacted more than travel, with technology affecting every single aspect of the travel experience. Whether it’s booking accommodation, getting around a new city, or organizing work as a travel professional, let’s take a look at how travelers benefit from technology every single day.

airplane on globe

Instant global communication

Many of the benefits ascribed to technology come under the banner of communication. Never before in human evolution have we had the ability to communicate with anyone at any time. This is especially useful for travelers, who often need to talk with multiple people across continents and time zones. The combination of global networks and mobile devices has made communication easier than ever before, which means you can book a flight, reserve a hotel room, or manage your work emails on the go.

Smart mobile travel assistants make communication easier than ever before, with free calls and internet services allowing travelers to contact nearby businesses and move around like a local. These tools offer a tailored and personal approach to modern travel, as guests are able to communicate, access useful guides, and book tickets for local attractions. Smart mobile travel assistants are equally great for accommodation providers and travel professionals, because they can add value through improved revenue streams and analytics while enhancing the customer experience. 

Information and advice

The internet is a fountain of knowledge and advice, sometimes to its own detriment. Every regular traveler understands the importance of accurate and up-to-date information, with online forums and social platforms often used for travel inspiration and research. Smart mobile travel assistants are a great way to access relevant information in a customized and trustworthy package.

Dedicated travel apps have been tailor-made to solve common travel problems and provide a great user experience. By providing your guests with a free and accessible source of communication, they can access great deals and relevant tourist content. These apps work across the city and within your own hotel, with deep room integration enabling things like room service and automation.

traveler with travel tools

Comparison and contrast

Despite its free-wheeling reputation, travel typically involves lots of research and screen time. With more products and services out there than ever before, it’s important to compare and contrast services in order to find the perfect fit. Comparison websites provide travelers with an easy way to research accommodation, tours, insurance, and anything else that’s integral to the travel experience.

While comparison websites are incredibly useful, sometimes too many options can lead to confusion and paralysis. Travelers now demand a more tailored and streamlined approach, with some comparison services able to learn from past choices and provide valuable recommendations. Smart narrow-cast advertising provides a similar approach, with businesses able to reach out to customers on their own terms. When these services are integrated with travel apps, hotels and other businesses can benefit from improved business opportunities.

Navigation and time management

Travelers need integrated maps and navigation services every single day. Gone are the days of large paper maps. Now we can fit an accurate map of the entire globe in the pocket of our jeans. Whether it’s navigating public transport in a new city, finding the fastest way to the airport, or working out if you’ve really got time for lunch, technology makes navigation and time management easier than ever before.

Smart mobile travel assistants provide personalized help wherever you go, with travelers able to take advantage of browsers, integrated content, and geolocalization features. While Google Maps and other navigation tools are available to everyone, a dedicated operating system designed especially for travelers provides a much richer and more comprehensive travel experience.

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Leisure hotel room

As reported by Geneva Business News, hoteliers need to be aware of the different services and amenities prioritized by leisure travelers, rather than assuming the priorities of business travelers apply to all guests. 

Both the wants and needs of leisure travelers are less restrictive than those traveling for business, which makes catering to this massive group potentially quite lucrative. Here are three different services you can incorporate into your hotel to attract more leisure travelers.


Traveler using Manet Mobile Hot Spot for high quality internet connectivity
Photo by Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash

High-Quality Internet and Connectivity

There is simply no excuse for having poor internet services at your hotel, especially not in the eyes of a leisure traveler. Even those not dependent on the internet for work will still consider easy wifi connectivity and accessibility a top priority. Being able to watch videos, search for restaurants, and find activities to do while on vacation will improve your guests’ overall experience. 

Providing high-quality internet service means that there should be no lagging, no overly complex passwords, and no additional charge for your guests. If you want to set your hotel apart from the competition, consider implementing charging stations and enabling internet access everywhere on your property (parking lot, bar, swimming pool, etc.)


Customized hospitality and accommodation services
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Customizable Services and Amenities

Leisure travelers tend to consider customizable service, essentially having lots of variety and options to choose from, an integral part of having a satisfying travel experience. A prime example of how you can offer choice and variety is through room service. Having a wide array of options for the leisure traveler to choose from is highly important. Ways of diversifying how your hotel does room service include serving both local cuisine and international dishes, offering 24/7 service to accommodate every guest’s schedule, and having multiple dishes available for those with dietary restrictions. 

Having choice and variety also helps travelers pay for what they want and avoid paying for what they don’t want. Providing options with different price points will attract leisure travelers with more diversity of incomes and budgets to your hotel.

Notably, having complementary breakfast services is also highly appreciated by leisure travelers. Many of them, especially students or young families, are more money-conscious than those traveling for business. 

Other examples of customizable service and amenities would include:

  • Different room types and views to choose from
  • Different mini bar options
  • Offering a selection of bathroom product brands
  • Consider advertising special room add-ons such as coffee machines and record players
  • Offer access to streaming services such as Netflix and Disney Plus
  • Give guests the option of accessing special amenities such as a pool, a steam room, and spa services
Manet Smart Mobile Travel Assistant
Manet Smart Mobile Travel Assistant

Mobile Travel Assistants

The mobile travel assistant smartphone has changed the hospitality industry since its relatively recent arrival into hotels across the world. Hotel apps have become outdated and inconvenient for guests and hotel managers alike. With a mobile travel assistant, guests will have 24/7 access to a smartphone that improves their experience at your hotel in every way possible, including:

  • Finding restaurants and reviews
  • Organizing their overall trip
  • Contacting the front desk
  • Getting directions
  • Making bookings
  • Hotspot Capabilities

The smartphone can even be used as a room key, a tv remote, and a mainline phone. With the right mobile travel assistant, hoteliers can even access basic data from the linked devices, allowing them to receive helpful customer feedback, accommodate their guests efficiently, and even gain a new revenue stream through advertisements.

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Traveler using technology

The travel and hospitality industries are constantly growing and changing. With technology being developed every day, it can be difficult to keep up with the newest gadgets and platforms. However, it’s important to learn about and incorporate these technologies, as they have the potential to elevate every aspect of a traveler’s experience.

4 Technologies Changing the Travel Industry

Whether you’re a hotelier, tour operator, restaurant owner, or avid traveler, utilizing these 4 technologies will enhance the experiences of you and your guests, and ensure that you’re in the know on today’s tech!

Mobile Travel Assistants

Mobile travel assistants are revolutionizing the hotel experience across the globe. Rendering hotel apps obsolete, mobile travel assistants provide everything a traveler needs, all packed into one smartphone. The capabilities of these devices can’t be overstated.

Hotels are placing mobile travel assistants in their rooms, giving guests access to the device 24/7 for the duration of their stay. Mutually beneficial to both guests and hoteliers, mobile travel assistants help guests organize their trip, allowing them to make bookings, find restaurants, watch audio guides and videos, get directions, and access all the tips and tricks they’ll need to have a great time. The smartphone also works in the hotel as a tv remote, room key, and mainline phone, allowing guests to contact the concierge, order room service, and more. It’s almost hard to believe all of this can be done from one device!

Linking up with mobile travel assistant technology is incredibly beneficial for hoteliers. With an organized web dashboard, hoteliers can access data (basic, non-private data) from the linked devices. This allows them to help guests quickly, centralize hotel services, receive more feedback, and access analytics and data regarding their guests’ average routines. This means that any hotel using these devices will be able to see which restaurants, activities, hotel services, and more are preferred by their guests. 

Given that mobile travel assistants also allow hoteliers to control their own advertisements on the device (creating an additional revenue stream), hotels can market the best possible services to their guests.

These handy devices are capable of providing free unlimited local and international calls, and free unlimited 4G WiFi with hotspot capabilities. Needless to say, mobile travel assistants have become a rising star among hoteliers and travelers alike.

Social Media and 360 Videos

It’s a bit of a no brainer that social media has affected the travel industry. However, considering these platforms are constantly updating, there’s always a new feature to take advantage of. Instagram has come out ahead as an important social media platform to master if you’re looking to bring attention to any destination. With viral hashtags and beautiful filters, some travelers even plan their trips according to what they’ve viewed on Instagram. 

This is why it’s more important than ever to understand how to market your business, city, or event online. Some current methods of marketing on Instagram include:

  • Advertising through popular Instagram accounts
  • Extensive research regarding popular hashtags
  • High-quality photo and video content
  • Consistent content upload schedule
  • Giveaways and contests for likes, shares, and follows
  • Sharing special discounts and coupon codes

There’s a new feature being used on various social media platforms that is changing the way people in the industry are marketing to potential travelers. Three-hundred-and-sixty-degree photos and videos are allowing businesses from all around the world to display their destination and services in a more immersive, emotional, and experiential way. Luckily, with the right camera, this feature is completely accessible to any business on social media. Take advantage of this amazing tool and connect with potential guests like never before.

Virtual Reality Travel

Virtual reality technology is becoming more and more prevalent across industries, and travel is no exception. This exciting platform takes immersive marketing to a whole other level. Using video and/or 360 photos, travelers can be transported all around the world with a VR headset. What better way to market your destination than by letting people experience it digitally? 

Virtual reality is a powerful destination marketing tool
Virtual reality is a powerful destination marketing tool

Virtual reality headsets go beyond pictures. Want to see the California redwoods? How about one of the shopping streets in Tokyo? Due to the design of the headset, people can immerse themselves in sounds and other physical sensations that make them feel as if they’ve just been flown across the planet. Interestingly enough, it’s not just parks, beaches, and other natural landscapes embracing virtual reality. More and more hotel chains are beginning to use VR to allow their potential guests to view their selection of rooms. People like to know what they’re getting into when traveling far from home. VR fills that gap.

Virtual reality is slightly less accessible than the other tools on this list, but that’s likely to change as this technology is being incorporated into more and more industries.

Packaged Travel Booking Websites

It’s pretty typical to book your flights, hotels, and activities online. What has become increasingly popular, however, is the rise of interlinked or multiuse booking websites, offering packages and deals for multiple aspects of the standard travel experience. This allows tour operators to offer clients a more convenient booking experience, and oftentimes, a better deal. Here are just a few of the reasons why booking online has completely crushed booking by phone or email:

  • Convenience
  • Ability to access quick reviews
  • Coupon codes
  • Place multiple bookings at once
  • Content available in multiple languages
  • Suggestions automatically generated

It only takes one look at the wildly popular website Trip Advisor to see the success of centralizing bookings for accommodations and events. Second only to the aptly named Booking.com, these websites have been incredibly dominant forces in the travel industry. 

Almost every new piece of technology, whether intended for the travel industry or not, can be utilized to enhance the experiences of both guests and business owners. This can be in the realm of increasing your hotel’s efficiency, in marketing your location, or in simply building an experience that is more convenient for travelers. If you aren’t using these four technologies, give them a try and see what they can do for you and your business!

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Manet Smart Travel Assistant

For years, hoteliers looking to enhance their guests’ travel experience have been using apps to make travel more convenient and personalized. However, while apps have been used by reputable hotel chains like Marriot International and Choice Hotels, they’re quickly becoming a thing of the past when compared to the capabilities of hotel smartphones like Manet. 

Hotel apps
Hotel apps are a thing of the past

With the proven ability to improve guest satisfaction, these devices manage to do everything an app can do and far more. The hotel smartphone, or rather, Manet mobile travel assistant, is already being used in many hotels across the world and is quickly becoming a favorite of travelers and hoteliers alike. The reason? There’s plenty.

What Is a Mobile Travel Assistant?

A mobile travel assistant is exactly what it sounds like. Someone in your pocket who can recommend restaurants (and keep you from the bad ones), help you book trips and activities, and even help you navigate the city. Devices like the Italian Manet traveler smartphones are a high-quality replacement for the apps that guests don’t bother downloading, have trouble accessing, or simply can’t figure out how to navigate. A mobile travel assistant completely eliminates this hassle. The smartphone is there for the guest in their room, packed with features, equipped with a SIM card and ready to be used for the duration of their stay.

Smart Travel Assistant
Mobile travel assistants improve hotel guest experience

The Hotel Master Key

There are so many small cards and devices that hotels use to enhance their guests’ experience. What if these devices were all centralized into just one smartphone? The Manet traveler smartphone can replace a wide range of hotel tech, including: 

  • Room Key
  • Smart TV Remote Control
  • Bulky Hotel Room Phone
  • Air-conditioner Remote Control
  • Room Lighitng Controller
Hotel Master Key
One key for all hotel appliances

With all these features incorporated into one device, guests can worry less about losing things they need for their stay. The convenience doesn’t stop there, however, as hotel smartphones also allow guests easy access to room service and the concierge, and are an easy and fast to use communication channel with their hotel as explained further below.

Free Calls and Free WiFi 

Even if your hotel has a well-running app, what happens if guests need to use it but don’t have internet access? With a smartphone, this problem is completely avoided. 

With Manet’s free unlimited local and international calls, and unlimited 4G connectivity in and outside the hotel property, your guests will never have to worry about connectivity and hidden charges.

Manet wifi hot spot
Mobile wifi hot spot

Even better, devices like Manet can also be used as WiFi hotspots so that guests can use additional devices, like personal laptops, smartphones, and tablets, without additional charges. Talk about earning good favor with guests! With easy 24/7 access to every online service and social app they could want and need, your guests will be taken care of at all times.

The Most Convenient Travel Tool

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, Manet traveler smartphones can help every hotel guest have an experience that’s tailor made for them and their needs. Here are just a few of the features guests can access on their Manet device:

  • Tickets for local attractions, events, museums, etc.
  • Restaurant reviews, directions, and bookings
  • Tips and tricks to enjoying the city to the fullest
  • Maps and general directions
  • Local safety information
  • Texting with the Hotel
  • Hotel ancillary services ordering
Manet Smart Travel Assistant
Manet Smart Travel Assistant

Having all this services and data collected on just one device, without needing to search and dig around for them, allows guests to relax and enjoy their stay and time in the city. Needless to say, this new way of traveling, accompanied by a hotel smart mobile assistant is being highly praised by guests who’ve gotten to take advantage of it. Hotel smartphones are also a great solution for parents, traveling with young kids, who just don’t have the time to plan any last-minute outings without a ton of stress.

Revolutionary Service for Hoteliers 

Traveler smart devices like Manet have made their debut on the market just very few years ago but are already delighting hoteliers at all levels of their industry. Here are just a few of the reasons for which solutions like Manet can enhance how hoteliers conduct business.

  • Feature-rich Dashboard: The Manet solution is not limited only to smart devices. It also has an saas web-based component allowing hoteliers control all of the device’s services from a well organized web dashboard and offering them an innovative CRM improving and enhancing hotel-guest communication. Through the dashboard, hoteliers and their employees can chat with clients or send them push notifications ensuring their service is both timely and professional.   
  • Reputation Management: Manet offers hoteliers an integrated multi-channel reputation auditing system, including detailed feedback from all major travel reviewing websites like TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, Booking and more. Furthermore, thanks to this system, hotel guests can be sent invitations to review their hotel and messages preventing them from leaving negative reviews. Improving hotel reputation has never been so easy before!
  • Valuable Analytics: Manet’s Dashboard helps hoteliers collect valuable data and analytics about the restaurants, events, places and activities that are favored by their guests. This way, improving guest experience and achieving guest delight becomes extremely intuitive.
  • Marketing and Revenue: Through Manet’s Dashboard and devices, hoteliers can easilly increase ancillary service sales thanks to easy-to-edit-from-the-dashboard mobile device service menus through which hotel guests can order food in their rooms, book airport transfers, buy spa treatments and any other service is offered by their hotel.
Manet Hotel Dashboard
The Manet Dashboard

The Verdict

If you use a smartphone and have read carefully what’s written in this article, you can easilly imagine why hotel apps cannot compete with Manet Hotel Smartphones & Dashboard and why the latter are making travelers’ and hoteliers’ lives easier and happier!

Visit www.manetmobile.com to discover more!

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Neboola Logo

Manet Mobile Solutions is a fast growing and evolving, hospitality oriented and data centered company.

The main infranstructure priorities that have emerged since its foundation are 3:

Flexibility - Manet Mobile Solutions

Flexibility

Being a top-notch player in the hospitality technology industry depends on the ability of adapting fast to the dynamics of a constantly changing and highly competitive environment.

Scalability - Manet Mobile Solutions

Scalability

Modern competitive dynamics push companies to either grow fast or risk going out of business. Therefore fast growth is an imperative along with the ability to manage higher data and operations volumes.

Security - Manet Mobile Solutions

Security

Today’s most important business assets are consumer data. Protecting this data from threats and processing it in the respect of privacy regulations is vital.

For all the above reasons and after extensive market research aiming to identify a cloud solutions partner that could provide our company with the highest flexibility, scalability and security standards available on the market, we chose to rely on Neboola’s AWS based cloud solutions. Our CIO Andrea Proietti presents our partnership with Neboola in this article.

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Ancillary services - Manet Mobile Solutions - in room service

The competition has never been more intense for selling hotel stays and short-term leisure rentals to business and vacation travelers. Two factors that have acted together to drive down prices are online discount travel sites and the rise of Airbnb rentals.

However, instead of having a race to the bottom when it comes to pricing, accommodation providers need to find a way to add value to the hotel experience. Travelers will be willing to pay more if they perceive a vacation rental or hotel to have extra services that add to the value and enjoyment of their stay.

In the past, baby boomers have been the driving force behind profits for vacation and business travel accommodations. Today, millennials are beginning to join the ranks of work and leisure travelers, leading hotels to cater to their needs and desires as well.

For example, when new chains like Marriott’s Aloft and Radisson’s Blu advertised that they welcomed dogs, the more mainstream Holiday Inn Express wasn’t far behind in opening their doors to customers’ furry friends. 

Here are some other ways that hotels and short-term vacation rentals can continue to attract guests without sacrificing profits.

Business Travelers

Loyalty Programs

Frequent traveler programs have been around for a long time, and business travelers are the main recipients of the benefits. To really have an impact on guest loyalty, though, a hotel has to include more than just snacks and bottled water at check-in.

Some hotels provide a lounge for the exclusive use of top-tier members. Giving room upgrades whenever possible is another way to pamper these guests without affecting profits. And surveys have shown that corporate travelers are often willing to pay out of their own pockets for ancillary services that they consider valuable.

Luxury Touches

One way to attract and keep business travelers is to offer upscale accommodations that increase their comfort when they’re away from home. Luxury bed linens, a Keurig-style coffeemaker in the room, and a fully functional business center are a good start. Providing an airport shuttle, dry cleaning pickup and room service with expanded hours are other special touches that business travelers will appreciate and be willing to pay for.

Vacationers

Spa Treatments

Spa services may be one of the biggest draws for leisure travelers. Salon services such as manicures and pedicures, massages and facials elevate the value of the stay. Providing hair and skin treatments and in-room massage can be the difference that makes a lodging more desirable to a prospective guest. If a hotel doesn’t have the budget or facilities to offer spa treatments, partnering with a nearby luxury spa is an alternate way to attract guests and add revenue.

Hotel Shopping

Sundries shops used to be confined to luxury hotels, but in the past few years, on-site shopping has become a new option for vacationers at mid-priced hotels. The convenience of buying a six-pack of beer, treats and snacks, and even frozen dinners, is a value-added feature for guests. Offering these items for sale, along with headache medicine, phone chargers, batteries and toiletries, can be a profitable ancillary service for the hotel.

Vacation Rental Extras

From 2015 to 2017, extended-stay hotel stays grew at three times the national rate for other types of rentals in the hotel industry. Kitchens and living areas increased in size, with ancillary services like laundry facilities and bike rentals added to lure travelers to extended-stay hotels. 

Rental condos and homes can also provide these services for a modest fee to make a short-term rental an attractive choice for guests. This type of upgraded lodging is billed as apartment-style living with all the extras of a hotel.

Pet Accommodations

Recognizing the attachment people have to their dogs, some luxury hotels are providing pet services to entice travelers. Besides water and food bowls, treats and beds, a few upscale hotels even offer pet massages. Not only do guests get to bring their furry companions with them, but their pets can experience some pampering and it gives the hotel another revenue stream.

Ancillary services - Manet Mobile Solutions - pet friendly facilities

Counteracting the Airbnb Trend

For hotels and vacation rentals, a winning profit strategy is to differentiate these accommodations from the Airbnb model while highlighting increased opportunities for guests. Hotels can provide some of the same advantages as Airbnb along with others that are more difficult for private individuals to offer. 

The consistency and professionalism of a business that serves hundreds of thousands of travelers a year should be highlighted to persuade travelers to choose hotel accommodations over Airbnb rentals.

Networking with local businesses can also elevate the desirability of staying at a hotel. Local food, beverage and entertainment providers can turn the hotel lobby into a hub of interest and activity. This is something that vacationers will never experience in a private rental environment. 

Treating guests to live music or the chance to pay for activities like a ‘paint and sip’ wine party adds fun to the stay. It also gives the hotel an edge that translates into better profits.

The Tech Revolution

One ancillary service a hotel can use to take their image to the next level is adding a lobby touchscreen that connects to guest services, local restaurants and nightlife. Some hotels even have interactive screens that take selfies to be uploaded to guests’ social media accounts. 

Millennials are used to sending directions to their phones and connecting with local businesses at a touch. Touchscreens add to the hotel’s revenue through partnerships with local businesses at the same time they increase the hotel’s desirability to guests.

When guests check in, a hotel that offers the choice to swipe Apple Pay, Google Wallet or Venmo will have an edge over less tech-savvy establishments. Once they’re checked in, the ability of guests to connect with housekeeping or room service through a hotel app is another addition to the tech-forward image of a hotel.

The latest example of added hotel tech value is Alexa for Hospitality. This is a digital concierge that can answer guests’ queries about the hotel, play music, report on the weather, or make hands-free phone calls. The in-room Alexa console can also contact housekeeping and room service upon request. 

Ancillary services - Manet Mobile Solutions - digital concierge services

At smart hotels, guests can even ask their digital assistant to adjust the thermostat or raise and lower the blinds. Marriott is testing this perk in several of its hotel chains, including the millennial-geared Aloft hotels.

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Hotel KPIs - Manet Mobile Solutions

When it goes right, everything is good — when it goes wrong, it really goes wrong. As anyone working in hotel management knows, getting this difficult balancing act right is difficult. With this in mind, you need to keep an eye on the right Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to track your success. By paying attention to the following metrics, you can effectively measure the performance of your hotel.

1. Average Daily Rate

Your average daily rate reflects how much you’re earning per room, each day, on average. To calculate your average daily rate, calculate your total room revenue over a 30-day period and then divide it by the number of hotel rooms you have. Repeat this each month to track the trends in your averages.

Hotel KPIs - Manet Mobile Solutions

CC: Rhema Kallianpur at Unsplash

2. Average Occupancy Rate

Calculating your average occupancy rate allows you to identify which months and seasons prove most popular. You can then use this figure to market your hotel accordingly or to address the periods where you’re under-performing. You can get this figure by dividing the number of rooms occupied by the total number of available rooms, and multiplying this by 100 to achieve a percentage value.

3. Average Length of Stay

Average length of stay is an incredibly useful hotel KPI. If you can increase your average length of stay, you’re likely to spend less money on labour. This is because every time a hotel guest leaves you need to go through the motions of cleaning their room, replacing linen, restocking certain features, and checking them in and out. You can get this figure by dividing the number of occupied rooms by the number of bookings over a set period. Work to increase your average length of stay to maximise profitability.

4. Online Ratings

Whether you like them or not, online reviews are here to stay. Around 90% of customers will read a review online before using a business, so this is a KPI all hotel owners need to pay attention to. Check popular review websites such as TripAdvisor to assess the number of positive versus negative reviews you’re receiving. Paying attention to what has been written will allow you to push your business towards a more positive trend.

5. Advertising Return on Investment

When you spend money on advertising, tracking your return on investment is essential. Many hotels are now expected to deliver more, but with tighter budgets. As such, you can’t afford to blindly throw money at adverts without knowing what effect yours are having. Wherever possible, survey your customers at the point of booking to find out where they learned about you. That way, you can determine which of your local print ads, PPC, or social media ads are having the biggest impact.

6. Gross Operating Profit Per Available Room

Gross operating profit per available room helps you determine how much money each room makes throughout your business as a whole. You can include figures such as spa sales, food, and alcohol in this calculation. To calculate it, divide your gross operating profit by the number of rooms you make available to members of the public. Using this metric you can see whether your hotel performs well as a whole, or whether it’s just the room sales that bring in money.

Hotel KPIs - Manet Mobile Solutions
CC Hans at Pixabay

7. Profit per Available Room

Unlike gross operating profit per available room, this figure looks at how profitable room sales are on their own. Take the profit you’ve made from room sales over a set period and divide it by the number of rooms available. Using this figure, you can identify whether the rooms in your hotel are currently turning a profit. If they don’t represent as much of your overall profit as you would like, you can use this information as a driving force to make changes.

8. The availability of Internet connectivity to guests

Most guests who book a hotel room will now expect free Internet as standard. It allows them to remain connected to the world at home, especially when they’re in a different location where they may need to pay additional charges to use their mobile network provider. Additionally, Internet availability allows those who are travelling for business to maintain their usual activities throughout their stay. As a part of measuring this KPI, you should also assess how accessible and reliable the Internet is in each of your rooms.

9. Market Penetration Index

Your market penetration index highlights how much of your local market you’re currently gaining over your competitors. To get this figure, take your hotel’s occupation number, divide it by market occupancy, and multiply this by 100. This should return a percentage figure that tells you what portion of the market you currently hold. You may want to repeat this calculation during busy times of the year when you expect occupancy rates to be high, as well as during quieter periods when occupancy rates are usually lower. Once you have your percentage figure, try to work on practices to raise it. You should then return to your baseline market penetration index percentage to see if your improvements have resulted in a higher number.

10. Your website conversion rate

Your hotel’s website may be attracting visitors, but do you know how many of those online visitors are turning into customers? After looking at the number of visitors who head to your website, calculate the percentage of those that make a booking. You can get this percentage by dividing your online bookings by the number of site visitors and multiplying this by 100. It’s normal for this figure to be low. Around 2 to 3% of visitors will turn into bookings, but if your figure is below that it’s worth considering whether your website is as enticing as you need it to be.

Overall, measuring your hotel’s most important KPIs provides you with invaluable information. Using this information, you can identify the areas where you may be weak. For example, if you have a low market penetration index, you need to start asking yourself what your competitors offer that makes them so attractive. Additionally, you can use these numbers to measure your performance over time. With a consistent approach to making improvements, your hotel will become a stronger business.

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Bed and Breakfast - Manet Mobile Solutions

Let’s face it: No one goes into the Bed-and-Breakfast business thinking they’re going to strike gold. 

For many small business owners, it’s the joy of meeting people, of serving weary (and excited!) travelers and the love of sharing the place they call home with others. 

At least, that’s what propels that initial foray into the world of B&Bs.  

Five-star reviews, running meet-and-greets, booking out rooms – these all come right after the initial buzz of starting something new has worn off. 

Yet, by all accounts, B&Bs have a rosy outlook. 

From 2013 to 2018, the number of B&Bs has grown. 

In terms of revenue, long-term trends indicate an overall rise, projected all the way to 2024. 

Besides the mini-dip in 2023, the strong demand for B&Bs shows that owners have a chance to really capitalize in the next five to seven years on a market that’s on the rise and likely to thrive. In fact, while the industry is considered “mature,” there’s a very strong expectation of growth in revenue when compared to revenues from other industries within the sector. 

So there’s an opportunity here. But how can B&B owners get a slice of the proverbial pie?

So far, all the chips are playing out in their favor.

“Average occupancy, or number of rooms filled on a daily basis, according to PAII, has skyrocketed along with the number of available properties, increasing from 45 to 50 percent in a recent four-year period. And room prices have also increased, going from $103 to $121 in the same four-year stretch.” – Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII)

Part of the robustness for the industry can be attributed to the precedent set by Airbnb: it’s managed to popularize more informal and personal travel accommodations. A greater number of people have come to prefer this more intimate and “local” way of booking and traveling. 

And closely connected with this digital disruption caused by Airbnb is the larger, more macrocosmic shift in the hospitality market at large: digital and tech innovations that streamline, simplify, and promise to delight the customer experience, from booking to departure, at a fraction of the cost. 

And it’s something that B&B owners would do well to harness. 

1) Review Management

The first aspect to digital enhancements for the B&B market is important for everyone within the hospitality sector: managing those reviews. 

You’ll see that managing reviews in the digital space is actually not about completing the customer’s experience but, rather, anticipating it, and then having the forethought and planning in place to engineer that experience and the resulting glowing review. 

In other words, intend to put into place all those pieces that will get you the review you’re looking for. 

Harnessing the power of review marketing

Review marketing: What is it?

When your potential customer is looking to book you over hundreds of other, comparable, accommodations, reviews are a huge propeller. They’re the “why,” the catalyst, and the justification for the customer’s choice. 

But it’s not just the number of five-star reviews you get nor how many of these review sites you populate. Of course, that’s important. What’s really critical is how you respond. 

You’ll notice, for example, that the proprietors of Netherleigh Bed and Breakfast respond to reviews in a highly selective manner. For the most part, all their reviews are positive. And even the ones marked “critical,” such as the 4-star review below, are generally positive.

However, instead of responding to both, the proprietor decided to only respond to 5-star reviews. That’s unfortunate because, with a simple acknowledgment, they might have ensured an even more delighted customer who, now, may end up booking elsewhere.

Traveler reviews - Manet Mobile Solutions

The thing is, customers are willing to overlook a “bad” review because they understand that everyone’s experiences are subjective. What irks one person, another person may not even bat an eyelid at. 

They’re more interested in how you, or a member of your team, respond to and resolve the situation reported by the irate traveler. 

Your response can be an opportunity to give a potential customer/reader the chance to know, more fully, the picture behind the scenes. So it’s not just about following up – if you don’t respond at all, you miss out on speaking to your potential customer in a more subtle way.

For example, since 52% of customers want to see reviews that “mention tips that improve the guest experience,” this is the owner’s chance to do just that!

What travelers look for in reviews - Manet Mobile Solutions

Source: Little Hotelier

Managing your reviews in a timely and friendly manner, engaging with, thanking, and even addressing customer concerns on these platforms is incredibly important. Review management, at the end of it, is all about managing and addressing the details.

The details are, after all, where you can prevent customer attrition.  

What’s your niche? 

See, your “niche” is directly related to your customers’ experience of your B&B. And it’s not just your “digital” niche, either. Your B&B can benefit from using particular themes and marketing itself in this way. 

Choosing a niche or theme for your B&B attracts the right kind of travelers and will determine which booking sites you should rely on and manage reviews on. 

How to focus on your traveler niche - Manet Mobile Solutions

Source: Little Hotelier

For example, according to research by The Business Research Company, “wellness vacations” are an increasing theme that is spurring B&B profitability.

“People are interested in incorporating activities such as cycling and yoga into their travel plans.”

Focusing on a niche is a B&B proprietor’s way to tap into digital behavior, thinking like a hotel, but operating (especially in terms of cost) as a small business. 

According to the same research, 74% of B&Bs are profitable precisely because they have no employee overheads or they use sub-contractors on a more casual basis. 

And if you can use these digital enhancements, you’re likely to see an influx of guests while still being able to operate like a lean, mean, booking machine. 

Using email marketing

Email marketing is incredibly powerful. It’s not so much about open rates as it is about timing. Email marketing can be used to great effect in building nurture sequences and for building trust, providing personalized perks, rewards, and discounts.

A powerful loyalty program or an email marketing suite that provides a way to “tag” customers is crucial to your retention and re-booking rates. You want to make sure that all the trouble you’ve gone through and the effort you’ve put forth creating an unforgettable stay actually pays off. 

And the best “ROI” is a re-book. Loyalty programs, even in small-format operations like B&Bs, can pay-off, big time. If 18% of travelers already sign up for them and 35% “sometimes” sign up, that’s over half your guests!

In fact, part of the profitability factor of B&Bs is precisely because they’ve had to compete in an already “competitive” environment. 

While Airbnb has paved the way for a change in travelers’ behaviors (booking and otherwise), it has also made the market far more saturated, since individuals can now list their personal properties as accommodations. 

In order to keep up their momentum and professional edge, B&Bs owners have had to resort to certain “flexible trends in the industry,” including: 

  • Flexible check-out times
  • Smart room keys
  • Increasing use of analytics
  • Personalization of services

Yes. Even B&Bs. 

2) Streamlined Booking Experience

A streamlined booking experience is all about your digital activities online. Review management is just one part of it. 

But there are three other prongs from which to tackle your attrition and booking rates: the online customer experience of booking through OTAs, aligning your social media, and using your website as a viable hub for your digital footprint. 

Online booking

See, customer behavior is already about booking using OTAs because of the convenience and user-friendliness of the entire experience.

So why not meet them where they’re already at? 

At the same time, booking directly through providers is perceived as less user-friendly and less convenient though increasingly secure. Yet individuals opt for convenience over security. 

This points out clear areas for improvement. If you’re a B&B owner, you have a chance to take over your customers’ preferences for booking with OTAs by either matching or surpassing the convenience and user-friendly aspects.

Travelers' booking preferences - Manet Mobile Solutions

Source: Little Hotelier

And that’s where your website comes in. 

Use your website as more than just a content corral

Many individuals who own B&Bs will simply use their website to display a plethora of beautiful pictures of their property. 

If they’re a little more tech savvy, they may also hook up a calendar or some kind of primitive booking system – which turns out to be a nightmare to try and organize on the back-end. 

Instead of this ad-hoc, informal, rigged together system, B&B owners need to have a firm, streamlined strategy for capturing bookings and crucial customer information – making it easy on the customer side and on their own side. 

They’ll need to invest in technology like property management systems, channel managers, website builders, and a booking management software that hooks in to and plays nicely with email marketing. 

Remember the semi-negative, 4-star review we saw above? The customer’s major complaint was that it was too cold and, worse still, they were unable to reach the manager. This could have been easily prevented with technology. 

For example, a property management app could have been easily used by the guest in order to create a request, which someone on the team or the proprietor could then look at and address – especially if it’s after hours. 

It’s not just about improving the perception of your guests. A streamlined booking experience includes creating the systems on the back-end that will capture and support these “standard” customer expectations. 

Many of these systems give proprietors cloud-based benefits that include automating and accelerating administrative tasks and paperwork, alongside allowing them to distribute rooms online, expand market reach, and maintain a good relationship with the Google gods of search.

Social media much?

Especially because you own a sweet little B&B, it’s important to use social media to the max. 

Customers already like to book online and, as we’ve seen, rely on customer reviews to make their final booking decisions. 

And part of that research is social proof through social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. 

3) Ancillary Services

The final skewer in this three-pronged approach to positively affecting your online booking rates is to offer ancillary services that are standard but “upgraded” using technology. 

You can certainly take your cues from boutique hotels and think of it less as an upgrade and more of a catching-up with traveler expectations. 

Digital meeting spaces

Wi-fi. It’s what everyone demands when they first walk through those doors. 

Often, inns and B&Bs can host business meetings or be “quaint” lunch spots for travelers, either in a professional or leisure setting. 

And since an increasing number of guests are also “remote” and location-independent, offering “digital” meeting spaces is a great way to enhance your guests’ experience. 

Turn Meet’n’Greets into on-boarding sessions

Meet-and-greets are standard in the B&B profession. So why not take a chance to “on-board” your guests, acclimating them to not only the property and the particulars of your service but the various digital enhancements they can rely on as well? 

Have you just installed a new, automated home cooling and heating system powered by an app? Have you partnered with a local meal delivery service to speed up “room service” as part of your B&B?

Take the time to walk your guests through these enhancements. 

Conclusion

Many of these actions designed to enhance booking rates are actually all about a shift in behavior.

See, customers’ and guests’ actions and intentions are already digitally-driven. While it may feel like a huge ask, what these “changes” really come down to is bigger-picture thinking. 

And, in order to start thinking bigger, B&Bs don’t have to look far – nor spend too much. Even overhauling just their booking system or website can completely simplify and, at the same time, amplify pretty much everything from bookings, to revenue, to customer satisfaction, and beyond. 

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