Staying competitive is key to success. In the hotel industry, small independent hotels always have to compete with bigger brands or chain properties to attract guests, sell more rooms and to earn more revenues. The question here is that with their limited budget and reach, how can independent hotels beat their bigger rivals?
What’s in your favour?
Given their limited number of rooms and offerings and not bound by any legacy or brand guidelines, independent hotels have the liberty to get creative when it comes to attract and serve more guests. They have the freedom of flexibility to make on-the-spot changes in their policies to offer personalized services to their guests. Whereas, given their restrictive regulations, group hotels often find it difficult to accommodate special or unusual guest requests.
Group or chain hotels often neglect ‘customization’ but focus on ‘uniformity’ in their management strategy across all the hotels, located across multiple locations. However, an independent property can easily implement customized strategies specific to the location and especially designed for its targeted audience. That’s the reason, many guests nowadays are preferring independent hotels over group hotels. In other words, ‘Originality’ makes sense for travelers over ‘Uniformity’.
Let’s take a look at some other ways that can help independent hotels stay competitive against group or chain hotels –
1. Don’t ignore OTAs
As an independent hotel owner, you know that your brand is not as sought after. And in today’s world of online hotel bookings, you need to strengthen your brand positioning across online portals, mainly on OTAs. Because OTAs help independent hotels across the globe with around 2/3 of all their online bookings. Since merely listing on an OTA does not involve any cost, find out your target audience, their regions and go ahead with listing your properties on popular OTAs.
However, to ensure that you make more out of your OTA deal, don’t forget to have the right combination of hospitality technology solutions – a cloud Hotel PMS that comes integrated with a Channel Manager. This would you distribute rates and inventories on all the OTAs in real-time, sell more rooms while avoiding double bookings and overbookings.
2. Leverage the power of metasearch sites
Metasearch helps you drive more direct bookings at a lower cost of acquisition. See this – in the independent hotel segment, around 63% of hotels in the United States and 58% in Europe have received direct bookings through one or more of the metasearch systems.
While group hotels have an advantage on metasearch with more bidding power, you can play it smart in your bidding strategy.
To see more results out of your metasearch investment, make sure that you have an auto-bidding tool in place which can help you with CPC campaign. Initially be very careful while bidding for a position in metasearch sites. After the first round of campaign, wait for three months to gain enough data so that you can change your bidding strategy accordingly.
3. Own your channels
Look for a hospitality technology that can help you with a management software integrated with booking engine solutions – one for your website and one for your Facebook business page. This will help you drive more commission-free direct bookings both from your website and from your Facebook page.
4. Automate operations, reduce costs
To stay competitive, you need more time on hand and that is possible when your day-to-day operations are taken care of.
Handled manually, the process can become prone to error. Adopt a cloud PMS to automate and streamline daily operations with ease. It would help you manage reservations, check-in, checkout, multiple POS outlets, billing and many more with precision. It doesn’t only reduce operational errors, it saves enough man-hours and enables you to serve guests better.
Plus, the adoption of a cloud PMS also helps you save on CAPEX. Unlike group properties, you don’t have to invest on servers at your property to host your data as the cloud PMS provider does this for you. Moreover, you don’t have to pay for software upgrade costs. You get better capabilities at a fraction of a cost.
5. Strengthen your online reputation & ratings
This is another area which helps you attract more guests to your property. Almost 95% of travelers look at guest reviews while doing their research on hotels. While good reviews can influence a potential buyer’s booking decision in your favour, bad reviews just do the opposite. Here also you can work with TripAdvisor’s Review Express that can help you with automating the process of review collection.
6. Serve guests efficiently, win their loyalty
This would help you bring them back to your property. Offer them personalized services, like they would get it in a 5-star or 7-star hotel, take care of their needs and be proactive to respond to their queries on time.
In this case too, technology like a cloud PMS would help you immensely. It will help you with guest data collection likes – type, gender, nationality, contact details, special preferences and spending patterns during their last stay. The more you understand your guests, the more you will be empowered to serve them efficiently. Example: The system can tell you who’s your guest, whether it is a returning guest/VIP guest and more. Instead of saying Hi John, you say Welcome back, John. Trust us, small details like this go a long way in creating positive guest experience.
Technology levels the playing field by empowering smaller independent hotels with the tools to compete with larger properties. Invest in the right technology to stay competitive, stay successful.