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    HITEC MINNEAPOLIS

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    Minneapolis Convention Center

    June 17-20, 2019

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Article by Kacey Bradley

Five Practices That Ensure Hoteliers Make the Most of Property Updates

The Drifter Collective 6 March 2019
When planning a major hotel renovation project, industry leaders recommend keeping the following five elements in mind. As the old saying goes, failing to plan means planning to fail. Planning your renovation around the following five key elements ensures a successful return on investment (ROI) from your property improvement dollar.Strive for TimelessnessWhile trying the latest trends may tempt hotel owners, exercise caution, as the whole point of renovation means making your decor fresh. Aim instead for a design that offers timeless, classy elements.For example, recent renovations to the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., entices guests with room color schemes in classic blues, ivory and grey with just a touch of gold accents. This subdued scheme invites rest and relaxation after busy city days. The classic colors pair perfectly with the hotel's target market of politicians and international figureheads.Indeed, the factor of paramount importance in any design scheme requires keeping your target guest market in mind throughout the renovation process. Cozy country inns may incorporate quirky design elements such a chicken, romantic honeymoon retreats benefit from rose and burgundy tones, while chains frequented by business travelers demand cool, neutral, classic color schemes.Consider Comfort FactorsComfy, cozy guests often return to their favorite rooms year after year. They're also more likely to share positive online reviews and provide free advertising via their social media postings.Easy, inexpensive changes include thoughtful touches such as adding USB charging ports along with extra outlets for guests to plug in electronic devices located both on the desk area as well as on end tables next to the bed, so your guests can surf the net in comfort. Replacing traditional coffee pots with Keurig machines and offering an assortment of flavored coffees and teas add smiles to busy mornings.Get picky with fabrics and pillows. Unless you're running a B&B in farm country, patterned quilts and bedspreads scream cheap and tacky. Opt for cuddle-worthy down comforters in solid colors. Providing extra pillows costs little yet makes a huge difference when it comes to preventing guests from waking up with a painful crick in the neck!Design DurablyNothing destroys a hotel manager's best day like having to start to replace furniture and amenities before renovations even conclude. Investing in high-quality furnishings costs more initially but pays dividends in terms of longevity.Consider furnishings such as couches carefully. While fabric couches are prone to tearing, quality leather couches and chairs offer long term durability while adding a luxurious feel to decor. Bureaus and dressers which conceal amenities such as in-room refrigerators likewise add an upscale feel to guest lodgings.Bed bugs have become the bane of the hotel industry. Consider investing in high quality mattress covers intended to halt infestation and keep your guest beds bug free.Don't Overlook Cheap ChicWhile spending extra on durable goods makes economic sense, the artwork you select to decorate your guest rooms need not be pricey Picasso's. Do remove those tacky and bland pictures of boats and ships, but don't break the bank ordering expensive prints. Instead, frequent local art shows to find pieces that capture the flavor of your location for far less than you'd spend buying art online.Other creative ideas include adding a single fake flower in a decorative vase to bring a touch of elegance to guest bathrooms. Sometimes your local dollar store boasts vases, decorative rocks and flowers. Avoid large, fussy arrangements that collect dust, making your guest rooms feel dingy.Keep Guests at the ForefrontAbove all, the hospitality industry revolves around providing a memorable guest experience that keeps folks coming back to your hotel time and again. How do you discover what guests like? Easy -- simply ask them!Provide guest satisfaction surveys and train hotel desk staff to request them from guests upon checkout so that you can gather insight into what guests want while addressing any potential problems prior to your guests' departure. Some hotels have begun utilizing scented cards that sweeten your guests' luggage while reminding them to write Yelp reviews. Other establishments offer discounts on future visits to guests who recommend their establishment on social media.Undergoing a full hotel renovation can seem daunting but reaping the rewards of increased revenue and improved guest satisfaction makes the process worth the time and effort. By planning your renovation wisely, your hotel's reputation will skyrocket, and guests will leave happy and well-rested.
Article by Kacey Bradley

5 Trends Shaping Your Hotel-Casino Revenue Strategy

The Drifter Collective 5 March 2019
For guests with extra funds and time, hotel-casinos are a lucrative attraction, and the destination appeal of casinos is profitable for tourism. As the hospitality industry incorporates more casinos, the reach of this entertainment form will grow.Developments in consumer habits, marketing strategies and competition can influence your short- and long-term plan of action. A unified revenue strategy across sections of a hotel can target valuable customers and maximize your overall gain.Understanding your guests and the current trends is crucial for continued healthy growth and performance. Here are five trends shaping your hotel-casino revenue strategy.1. Marketing to a Younger AudienceThe marketing focus of hotel-casinos is moving from baby boomers to younger generations, which requires a fresh mindset and the implementation of different strategies.Marketing messages are capitalizing on images and simplified text to stick with the younger audience. Some casinos are also trying to partner with social media influencers to bridge the gap between this leisure activity and millennials. This promotional effort aims to stay relevant and personal.Strategies for younger generations rightly include social engagement. Casinos are highlighting group games over isolated ones to give a richer layout, which is complementing tourism and hospitality practices.2. Increase in Frequency, but Decrease in SpendingThe popularity of casino gaming has grown, and experts project the global casino gaming market will reach $191 billion by 2022. Frequency in gaming is a significant part of this surge in occupancy. As more people fill casino rooms and try their hand at table games, it's possible that will result in an influx of returners or a higher level of new players. However, there's a disconnect in the spending and occupancy levels.The experience of a casino still draws many visitors, because the ambiance is unique. Although visitors are ready to enjoy the venue, they aren't as willing to part with their money. This trend is especially true for millennials, who are conserving their funds for refreshments and less risky entertainment.With customers spreading out their money for a higher number of trips, it's essential to ensure these visitors come back to your facility. Although there's currently a reduction in spending, these trends may even each other out.3. Shift to Online Gambling and AppsNow that most people have smartphones and mobile devices, gambling online has intensified. Virtual casinos can prevent visitors from attending physical locations to gamble. Some casinos are combining location-based gambling and digital platforms to revamp tourism.Mobile apps for the lottery are useful for keeping track of tickets and promotions. They also direct players to physical retail locations in their areas. Hotel-casinos are encouraging mobile engagement to benefit from the interest in technology-based gambling.Both the hospitality and casino industries are extending their services through mobile apps. Apps are acting as a tool to connect to customers and streamline wagering.4. Change in Reward StrategyLoyalty pricing for hotel-casinos is an untapped area with potential. Worthwhile rewards spanning both the hotel amenities and the casino services are set to bring a better public cash rate.Hotel-casinos are restructuring their policies for reinvestment based on customer value. Although the qualifications are changing, customer loyalty possibilities within these facilities are widening.Private accounts allow hotels to offer personalized rates for rooms based on data rather than a fixed rate. Retaining guests with segmentation in an advanced reward system is a rising trend in hotels with casinos.5. Elevation in CompetitionExpanding gaming venues put casinos in a highly competitive atmosphere. Regional development has put further strain on available discretionary income, so each establishment is fighting for guests.Hotel-casinos are contending in this niche market to provide the best restaurants, amenities, gambling options and accommodations possible. As they try to harness the disposable income of visitors, other tourist enterprises are vying for customer attention, too.Refine Your Revenue StrategyWith these emerging trends, hotel-casinos must form a specialized approach to build and maintain customer relationships. Implementing a promising plan of action can put your hotel-casino in a profitable position. Construct an effective revenue strategy to keep up with the evolving market.
Article by Kacey Bradley

How Hoteliers Can Benefit From Last-Minute Booking Apps

The Drifter Collective 5 March 2019
Guests have many spontaneous accommodation needs, and mobile apps are ready to meet them. It's becoming increasingly common to finalize plans on-the-go, as 31 percent of leisure travelers and 53 percent of business travelers have booked on a smartphone.Mobile booking isn't just a perk for customers -- hoteliers can flourish when partnering with last-minute booking apps, too.When the night winds down and there are empty rooms, hotels lose an opportunity. You can't always attract a full house of customers, and you miss out on the potential sale. What if there was a way to get the word out about your extra space?Last-minute booking apps can make the most of the mobile habits of consumers and your fluctuating occupancy rate. Down to the last minute, you can get rid of spare rooms and bring in a profit rather than leaving vacant spaces. Check out these eight specific ways hoteliers can benefit from final booking apps.1. Get Closer to 100 PercentIn 2018, the annual occupancy rate of the U.S. hotel industry was at 66.2 percent. It's typical to run at partial capacity, but hotels are more likely to operate efficiently when they offer last-minute lodging.You can boost your occupancy rate by joining mobile apps so customers can find a place until the eleventh hour. Even offering lower prices to customers is better than squandering a significant portion of rooms. Get nearer to full capacity by listing your extra rooms.2. Reach a Wider AudienceAs travelers search for any available rooming, they go beyond their typical hotel picks. Listing on last-minute booking apps brings you visibility with customers you may not have reached before.With a wider customer base, you can attract and retain loyal guests for your hotel. Branch out from your standard target audience to engage new customers.3. Track Customer DataCultivating your hotel or resort for the best guest experience requires data, and mobile apps give you more insight and access to your visitors.You need to keep up with customer preferences and practices to shape your business plans. Collect customer information on these platforms to direct your next steps for improvement.4. Develop Brand AwarenessTo promote your hotel brand, you need to bring attention to it. However, competition is fierce in the hospitality industry. You can encourage exposure for your brand on last-minute booking apps, though.Mobile apps can complement your marketing strategies, and you can help customers recognize your brand by getting your name and deals out there.5. Streamline the Booking ProcessIn the booking process, both the customer and the hotel can have many hoops to jump through. If it's down to the wire, there's no time for lots of steps. Mobile booking can facilitate a clear process, boosting customer satisfaction.With apps like HotelTonight, you can effortlessly display your rooms for last-minute guests. These services make it simple for you to show your inventory and receive payments.6. Gain Reviews and FeedbackOnline feedback on a visit influences travelers' lodging decisions. Gaining reviews on the last-minute booking apps can drive future sales.Forming a positive reputation on these mobile apps can recommend you to users. Increase your chances for an advantageous online presence by taking advantage of these apps.7. Match Property and PreferencesIf you have a specialty lodging facility, you can find an app that specifically services you. Whether you operate a luxury resort or a charming bed-and-breakfast, you can partner with an app that suits your style and services.Several apps divide hotel listings into categories to house a variety of types. Customers can then narrow down their search to match with your business.8. Thrive MutuallySnagging a final deal is beneficial to customers and hoteliers, and you can share a rewarding exchange. Last-minute booking apps save each party time and money.Maximizing the common good creates a valuable arrangement. When everyone is thriving, you can see this as an all-around win for your business.Partner With a Last-Minute Booking AppSelling as many rooms as possible is ideal for your hotel and travelers in need of lodging. With a range of benefits, you can enhance your occupancy, reputation, booking process and customer satisfaction. Unite with last-minute booking apps to strengthen your hotel.
Article by Kacey Bradley

Five Strategies or Corporate Rate Negotiations

The Drifter Collective 7 February 2019
For travel buyers, the goal is simple -- get the best possible hotel for corporate clients at the lowest rate. But when you sit on the other side of the bargaining table, it's up to you to ensure your business gets the deal it needs to thrive.These competing intentions may make it difficult to settle on a price or corporate package for a potential client. However, it's not impossible to strike up a corporate rate that suits both sides of the negotiation. To make the task a little easier, here are five strategies to deploy during your next conversation with a travel buyer.1. Keep a Level HeadPerhaps the most critical approach to any negotiation, whether it's professional or personal, is to remain calm. A rate debate between you and your client can become heated, and it's up to you to keep things level.Start by adopting tactics meant to promote calm during negotiating chaos. For starters, if you feel yourself losing your grip on your emotions, focus on something physical, such as your breathing. Deep breaths in and out will ground you. You can also take note of your physical surroundings and sensations. All of this will help you zoom out and regain focus on the task at hand, rather than letting your emotions take over.To that end, you should always keep in mind that the person with whom you're negotiating is, indeed, a customer. If they've been one for years or have otherwise contributed significantly to your business, approach talks with the aim of maintaining your relationship. Sometimes, it's not worth losing a loyal client -- or your head -- over a few dollars difference in rate.2. Focus on ValueFor some hoteliers, corporate rate negotiations hinge upon the bells and whistles that a hotel can provide. If your price exceeds what the travel buyer expected, explain precisely why your property deserves the extra dollar. Perhaps the rate includes free Wi-Fi, which is a necessity for business travelers. Or, maybe you've thrown in a free breakfast or fitness center access, knowing your professional guests will want to stick to their at-home routines.On top of that, it's important to flex the benefits specific to corporate guests. Take, for example, Tachi Palace. It's both a hotel and casino, so it may not seem like the right fit for corporate travelers -- at least not at first. However, the staff has made it comfortable for professional clients by offering group accommodation rates, as well as meeting rooms and event space. They indeed flaunt these benefits to corporate clients, who could be swayed into saying yes because of the additional benefits to them.3. Make Sure Rates Match DemandIn some cases, a blanket rate for a corporate client simply cannot work. That's because hotels in one city or region will have more demand -- and, therefore, higher rates per night -- than those in less traversed areas. As the hotel's negotiating representative, it's up to you to know the prices at each of your customer's intended destinations.Present this information to the client but soften the blow of a high number by promising lower rates in the cities where they need rooms and you need the foot traffic. Or, find a number in the middle that will balance out stays in both places. Either way, you're likely to discover a middle ground that prevents them from breaking the bank -- and saves your budget, too.4. Beware of a One-Size-Fits-All Pricing ModelOn that note, it's also a good idea to have a consistent corporate rate for all your business-centric clients. Of course, this option might work for some business, especially those who proactively map out their travel budget for the year ahead. Knowing the cost of a hotel per night will ensure accurate accounting, thus allowing them to budget more precisely.But other customers don't need as much assurance for their rates and prefer to take on a more flexible plan. For instance, some of your corporate clients might prefer the option to book with the given corporate rate -- or to book as a regular customer, should a promotional offer make a stay more cost-efficient. Similarly, you might also prefer to offer a discount to corporate clients, rather than an unwavering price per night. That way, their fees will ebb and flow with demand, which could benefit both of you at different times of the year.5. Find Clients with Similar GoalsFinally, a like-minded customer will make negotiations simpler for you. For example, if you hope to boost volume in the coming year, seek out corporate clients who can commit to many stays throughout the year. On the other hand, you might aim to increase the number of nights a guest says per visit. Long-term projects can keep professionals in hotels for extended periods, and you can court these types of clients, as well. Just offer them a discounted rate if their numbers will help you reach your goals -- both sides of the bargaining table end up happy then, too.Although your interests are often competing, you can find common ground with a corporate client. There's no better feeling than landing on a rate or discount that suits both of you, so don't give up -- and don't give in. It all starts with a conversation and, perhaps, a few deep breaths.

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