As a general manager, every decision you make is scrutinised by your staff, and so being a leader requires you to affect every department in your hotel. However, managers often rise through the ranks of a specific department, and are, understandably so, not necessarily comfortable leading some of the other departments.
Since we are hoteliers, we wanted to design our PMS in a way that it would not only be a partner for your operational flow, but utilising the power of a connected data infrastructure, becoming also a partner for your business analysis. As a Cloud PMS company, we have access to all of this data, from hotels in multiple countries, differing sizes, independents, chains and all types of accommodation providers. One thing that comes through when we run analyses to evaluate performance across all of our properties is that every hotel’s operations can be further improved with simple tweaks.
We wanted to share some of the learnings we have taken from this data, and how hotels can use the data to improve their operations. Below you will find one small example per department, that may help improve productivity and business.
The Digital Housekeeper
One of the interesting observations we see in the majority of our hotels is that 70% of rooms are cleaned between the hours of 14:00 and 16:00. This is of course not true, but that is when the bulk of rooms usually are turned “inspected” in the PMS.
What actually happens in the operation, is that housekeepers usually go off shift at 16:00, and that is also the first time they have time to sit down behind a computer to turn the rooms to inspected in the system. The bulk of these rooms have been cleaned hours before, but were simply never returned to front office.
There are many great housekeeping apps available which give your crew the possibility to inspect rooms as and when they are cleaned. This allows reception to check guests in earlier, resulting in happier customers.
Another benefit of a housekeeping app is that the cleaners can see in real time, if a guest is still checked-in, preventing the intrusive knocking on doors in the morning to see who has left, and who is still sleeping. Less disgruntled guests, makes for happier reviews.
Front Office Managers: what is the upgrade strategy?
When you run a report per room type and average rate, we see that regularly the higher category rooms have a lower rate compared to the lower category rooms. Meaning that you are most likely upgrading the wrong customer. If you give away free upgrades, who should they be given to?
Upgrades should always be given to the customer with the shortest booking (length) with the highest ADR, and lowest commission (direct bookings). This ensures that you keep availability for other customers to book the higher room types, or to allow your team to upsell. Also note that someone who booked via TripAdvisor, is more likely to leave a review, so take care of those guests and perhaps try and track these with the help of your booking engine.
Secondly, try not to give complimentary upgrades to regular guests who have previously paid for upgraded room types, they will learn to wait to get a free upgrade upon arrival instead.
Take 30 minutes to look into your hotel history for the past 2 months, how many times did the team upgrade the wrong guest… and what was the financial impact of that decision?
Finance: take control of the rebates
One of the questions we were asked over and over by receptionists, was to make the process of rebating easier. Unfortunately, the accounting teams rarely join these PMS trainings, and to the reception team, we (Mews) were seen as the bad-guys who are making their life miserable.
So we started inviting the accountants to training, and having them explain why they need to know about all rebates, and why they would like a paper trail. How much money does the hotel give in discounts annually, and the impact this has on the bottom line.
Accountants need to learn to check ALL rebates, and ensure that a supervisor (physically) signs off on them. Get the whole Front Office department’s buy in by putting an incentive in place for lowering the amount of rebates.
Sales: How many times are non-refundable rates refunded to your guests?
One of the interesting things we noticed as a trend, is that in many cases, customers who booked a non-refundable rate, ended up getting a refund. There is a reason why you give a discount on this rate, it’s because the customer agrees to take the risk. Unfortunately, when something unfortunate happens to their travel plans (we’ve heard ALL the scenarios), they try their luck, and call the hotel. Make sure that the team is trained on how to handle such customers, so that they can stand their ground.
A cancellation fee is considered almost 80-90% profit to the hotel (as there are hardly any costs associated with it), so it’s a very valuable part of your revenue… protect it with your life!
Guest Relations Managers: Inform your guests when their room is ready
People who travel a lot are used to receiving SMS notifications from their airlines in case of delays, or gate changes. Hotels should also use such tools to communicate with their guests. Why not send the guest a message once the room is clean and ready for arrival? It might be a small touch, but it’s part of building anticipation for his stay with you, and first impressions really do matter.
Most modern PMS systems can build integrations to messaging tools and automate this, but even if you are still running an analogue operation, consider using WhatsApp or any other messaging platform to contact guests.
Revenue Managers: evaluate room category supplements
In the perfect hotel, all room types are booked equally, and the rooms age at the same speed, so that when it’s time for a renovation, all rooms are in the same state. Unfortunately, we see huge discrepancies between the occupancy per room type. The reason for this is that the pricing supplements to upgrade are too steep, and customers do not perceive the same value in the upgrade as the hotels believe they are providing. How to solve this?
- You can either lower the upgrade supplements, and play around with it, to see if results improve
- Empower your team to give deeper discounts when upselling
- Implement upsell tools such as UpsellGuru, which automate (part of) the upselling efforts, and allow guests to bid for higher rooms at discounted prices
E-commerce: Know your guests and target them with custom content
Do you know which customers bring this higher ADR’s? Are they women/men, come from a specific country, or a specific purpose of travel? Any PMS should have reports available, that allow you to analyse who is driving most revenue to the hotel. This is important, so that you can focus on those customers, and try to get a larger share of them in your property.
Women vs Men: if you find that either group buys at higher rates, evaluate your website to see if you can maybe tweak it to convert even better in that target group. So if you are trying to attract women, consider facilities that are important to them and highlight those.
Countries: if you notice 1 country is bringing in higher rates, or booking periods of the year when you need it most, consider:
- Translating your website in that language
- Run AdWords for that specific language
- Build custom landing pages to better capture this target group, and their needs
Often when we share these ideas with hoteliers, we are assured all such procedures are in place and that they have tried to affect change. However, they find that their current technological set-up does not enable them to track whether their wishes are being carried out. We see that the leaders who want to affect change within their organisations, can actively use some of our amazing reports, and to make sure that their implemented procedures are executed flawlessly.
It’s one thing to send out an e-mail with a new procedure, it takes a lot of hard work to turn a directive into a team-habit. Find the right tools to do this and ask for a demo today.
Matthijs Welle - CEO