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  • HFTP Research Report: Pre-opening Expenditures in Hospitality

    A study of the pre-opening budget; the timeline for these expenditures; timeline for onboarding of staff; and the selection, installation and training of the technology component. By Agnes DeFranco, Ed.

  • New Global Directors Join the 2018-2019 HFTP Board

    The HFTP 2018-2019 Global Board of Directors was installed during the association's 2018 Annual Convention and introduces new directors Toni Bau, Carson Booth, CHTP and Mark Fancourt. These extensive director profiles give insight into the distinguished professions and personal goals of HFTP's newest association leaders.

  • Internal Controls and the Important Roles They Play in Eradicating Fraud

    Although I have been preoccupied with getting in the education sessions purely related to hospitality finance, technologies and hotel pre-opening, I made sure to participate in Fun with Fraud and Enchanting Employee Embezzlement in Clubs and Hotels presented by Jerry Trieber, CPA, CHAE, CFE, CFF, CGMA, HFTP Global past president and director of audit services/support at HEI Hotels and Resorts.

  • Members Only: 2018 HFTP Compensation and Benefits Report

    By Tanya Venegas, MBA, MHM, CHIA. Results to the biannual survey conducted by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP). Information includes data on compensation and benefits trends for finance and technology professionals in the club and lodging industries.

Hotel Pricing Strategies: Using Room Types as a Strategic Yield Tool

Xotels ·16 April 2019
The rooms of your hotel are one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal as a revenue manager. It allows you to segment and position the hotel product, differentiating yourself from the competition. If segmented correctly it also allows you to build a revenue management strategy based on a comprehensive demand based yield or rate grid.ROOM TYPE SEGMENTATIONIn a previous article on our blog we already discussed creating multiple room types to improve the commercial positioning of your hotel. Using your rooms to merchandise your hotel, will result in auto-upselling by guests, we concluded.But there is more to it. It allows you to build up a comprehensive rate grid with a multitude of price points. Having a wide range of room types at our disposal, with a well defined product variation, allows us to reach different buyer (aka potential guest) budget level.Let's be realistic, not everyone has the same level of money available. And some people are simply looking for the best rate, while others are willing to pay a little extra to get a bit more. If you are questioning this just look at the cell phone or car industry. We almost all have a different type or model, all with a different price. There is a psychology behind it ...Let them auto-upsell themselves ... Choice will increase your ADR!This exercise, easily adds 5% to your top line room revenue ... we have tried it again and again over the last decade, always with success ...FULLY DYNAMIC PRICINGIn the early days of revenue management yield managers used to work with price BAR levels. However this practice in the age of dynamic pricing is a bit outdated. It limits you to work only within a predefined set of rates.But what if there is demand to sell your rooms can sell at a higher price? Or what if you need to go lower during distressed periods?We prefer with a fully flexible pricing matrix, which allows for any rate (and of course you can set a minimum if you feel this is necessary). Working with an open pricing grid, allows us to find the balance between supply and demand with any rate possible.AUTO YIELDING TO PUSH ADRThe advantage of having multiple room types with different rate levels is that as the category sells out, your pricing jumps automatically to the next level. This replace the need for the old-fashioned rate levels. In essence your room-types become your rate levels. So if you get a wave of reservations, the system will do its work for you, and increase your average room rate.OVERBOOKING ROOM TYPES TO DRIVE OCCUPANCYBut you can also decide to use your room categories to capture extra occupancy in a low demand period. You can decide not close your basic room categories, and oversell them to capture extra volume. This way you don't have to adjust your pricing, and stay-through rates are not up and down for each day of the week.If you are using a revenue management system you should account for this in your room type overbooking levels. Most of the PMS's we work with have a yield grid as well, where we can set the overbooking level for each room type day by day. I.e. setting a room category to 150% allows us to overbook it by 50% of the inventory for this particular room category.DYNAMIC SUPPLEMENTSRoom type supplements are another pricing tool that can help you drive the REVPAR of your hotel. The difference in price between rooms should not be linear throughout the year. To maximize your revenue of your hotel, you need to maximize the revenue on all your room types.This means you need to sell them for the top price when you can, and sell as many as possible at the same time. Rate increments can be configured in either percentages (%) or by value (EUR/$) supplements. Either could work for your hotel. And you can set them up based on the following parameters:Weekend vs Weekday (day of week)SeasonMonthEventsDemand levelThe important thing is to constantly review if at each base rate level, all your rooms are priced correctly and are converting at the desired pace. If a particular room type is not selling, logically you should analyze and adjust.Supplements require constant focus and attention. It is a job never complete ...THE TETRIS GAMEIt is virtually impossible to sell exactly the amount of rooms you have in each category. So you will have to start playing Tetris game to get to 100%.There are different ways to achieve this. We talked before about overbooking room categories. This is a viable option of course to reach 100% (or 95%+) occupancy.Especially when you reach high occupancy over a week, it is hard to have the same room category available for stay-through. You can also upgrade reservations, to open up a room category to which you could sell at a higher price if your system does not allow for overbooking room types.The Tetris game requires constant communication between the revenue manager and front office / reservations team of the hotel.Upgrading for free could help you generate extra revenue, by maximizing occupancy. Still don't forget to try and upsell people at check-in regardless to get a bit more incremental room revenue.TWEAKING AGAIN AND AGAINPerfection does not come in 1 single round. It is about tweaking. To reach optimal REVPAR the same applies. The difference between a good and great revenue manager you will see in who goes the extra mile, and take results beyond ...Once you have reached your target or high occupancy for a particular period or date, you might still have some rooms to sell. The Tetris game explained above is just one of the steps that can be taken.At Xotels we have a saying; "A beautiful hotel is a full hotel."What does it take to sell the extra few rooms to reach 100% occupancy, beyond the amazing 98% you have reached. That is the spirit we are talking about ...To increase the revenue potential of your hotel you need to think in terms of disruption. Unfortunately many in this industry are risk averse, and stay within the comfort zone of the set-out strategy.Sometimes, by changing the base rate by only EUR2, can have a crucial impact on the last-minute booking pace, allowing us to outperform the compset.Or instead of overselling lower room categories, can you decrease the supplements for your superior room types or suites, to sell more of them. We should ask ourselves, what sells better a medium room category at a normal price, or a suite at an aggressive price?Anything to help push your ADR up a few dollars or euros.UPSELLING PRE AND ON ARRIVALOnce we are done selling, we are not done yet. After everyone has booked their room, you need to engage your guests and see if you can upsell them to a higher level and increase your average room rate. You can do this by pre-arrival email campaigns. But the front desk team also needs to be incorporated. If you have oversold room categories, we need to actively identify which guests we can upsell.And don't just upsell rooms, think of breakfast, parking, spa, late-check-out ... there are plenty of opportunities to increase your top and bottom line.THE FINAL WORDWe have covered quite some points on hotel pricing. It is key to understand that you are never done. You need a strategy in place which is aligned to identifying opportunities to improve your hotel's financial results. But also a performance culture across the entire team to support it.Hope this helps you with your hotel revenue management strategies ...Cheers,Patrick Landman @ Xotels

Female-Friendly Hospitality: How to Make Your Hotel Appeal to Women

Xotels ·26 March 2019
Following the global outpoor on International Women's day last March 8 (2019), hoteliers around the world should take some time to look into a very important market segment, the solo female traveler. Tapping into and capitalizing on new and growing niches such as solo and experience-focused travel has become a major asset for hotel manager, but also to open up new revenue streams. "Female-friendly" is one such niche, which is now experiencing considerable growth in the hospitality industry.Women make up half the business travel sector, they are in charge of 85% of household purchasing decisions, and more female travellers are asking for a room for one. Therefore, your hotel has a lucrative opportunity if you can take advantage of this growing trend for female-focused hospitality. This of course doesn't mean employing old stereotypes such as displaying flowers or scented candles, but rather proposing practical solutions to problems, while also ensuring that you appeal to men too.Join me in this article as we look at how to transform your hotel into a female-friendly point of reference, to attract first-time female guests and entice them to come back for repeat stays.How to Become a Female-Friendly Hotel1. OFFER NIGHT-TIME AIRPORT PICK-UPYou can offer your female guests peace of mind when they arrive at what is usually for them an unfamiliar city with direct hotel transfer from the airport at night time.This way you remove the potential worry of finding their way with luggage after dark. And after a long flight, this can be the perfect way to greet your guests and welcome them to enjoy their hospitality experience with you.2. KIT OUT ROOMS WITH HIGH-QUALITY FEMALE-SPECIFIC BEAUTY AND SHOWER PRODUCTSSmall details are often what turn a four-star review into five, or what compels a guest to want to return. While many hotels offer generic bathroom products with little quality differentiation, you can stand head and shoulders above your competition by providing high-quality soap, shampoo, creams and more, designed specifically for women and/or girls.You can also offer different types of products for different age groups. This includes leveraging the appeal of other niches here, such as sustainability by offering environmentally thoughtful products.3. OFFER SUPERIOR EXTRAS THAT MAKE THE DIFFERENCEMany women and girls use devices such as hair straighteners, curlers and powerful dryers. Other often desirable items include a good iron, meditation and exercise matt, makeup, nail polish and nail polish remover. You can focus on their relaxation needs, with a selection of teas and coffees and other refreshments, as well as popular magazines and books, among other add-ons.As an additional add-on, you can solve the problem of forgetting to pack something, which 73% of female travellers do. Offering a service to purchase or otherwise provide replacements for forgotten items is something else to consider.4. ADD A TOUCH OF LUXURY WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANKYou can make your female guests feel like they are in the lap of luxury with some subtle offerings. These can include thick, comfortable bathrobes and towels; pleasant aromas; extra closet space; a full-length beautifying mirror as well as night table; and modern, stylish bedding, sheets and duvets.After all, who doesn't want to feel pampered?5. TRAIN YOUR STAFF TO BE HIGHLY DETAIL-ORIENTEDConscious staff take care of the small details, pay attention to the unique needs of each female guest, and understand when discretion is required in order to provide the best service possible.This extends to room location. Women are more likely to experience sleep problems than men, so a mindful exercise on your hotel's part is to room female guests away from guests who are likelier to be noisy, and to avoid the ground floor or end of a corridor.Otherwise, attention to food allergies or preferences, by including vegan and gluten-free options help your hotel to appeal to a wider audience.6. EMPLOY STAFF WITH SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE OF LOCAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WOMEN.For solo and group female guests, you can publish recommendations for activities, entertainment and so forth on your website. For a bespoke experience, your staff can also speak to your female guests directly.This also gives you the opportunity to organize and sell solo female and group activity packages, as well as partner with local businesses, which can create a snowball business generation impact in other ways.7. IMPLEMENT A 24-HOUR MANNED FRONT DESK AND OTHER SECURITY MEASURESTo make female guests feel completely safe while staying at your hotel, you can implement a series of security measures. A 24-hour manned front desk is critical. The employee on shift should always be contactable via a phone call from your guests' rooms, although for additional peace of mind, you can offer other communication methods such as WhatsApp.Other measures include double locks on room doors, a code at the main entrance, and room alarms.WRAPPING UP: LEADING THE WAY AS A FEMALE-FRIENDLY HOTELMaking female guests feel at home, comfortable and safe in your hotel is essential. But, be careful to avoid cliches and tired tropes. Your hotel female-friendly drive should ideally be led and managed by women.If your hotel management team doesn't contain women, it is advised to identify female professionals who can provide the consultancy that such an initiative requires. And you need to look outside your hotel to find such women.Why not turn to your female employees, from all levels of your hotel workforce? They know your hotel well already. In particular, client-facing staff are likely to already understand your clients' needs and any complaints. As well as taking advantage of insider female knowledge to design and implement your female-friendly drive, you engage current employees in important company-wide decisions.Cheers,Patrick Landman @ Xotels

Top Five Revenue Management & Distribution Tips For 2019

Xotels ·26 February 2019
In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell popularized what became known as the 10,000-hour rule, by documenting the lives of successful people such as Bill Gates, Mozart and the Beatles. "Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness", he wrote, inspired by the work of Daniel Levitin, the neurologist who scientifically proved that "10,000 hours of practice are required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert in anything". The theory is fascinating, though, not always reliable, especially in our field of hotel revenue management and distribution, where adjectives such as disruptive are frequently (over)used and success is measured more on innovation rather than consolidation. A defining factor here is the ability to adapt and evolve!As Marty McFly (from Back to The Future, a movie the more seasoned hoteliers amongst use watched in their younger years) once wisely said, "I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it". So, what exactly are our kids going to love when it comes to hotel distribution and revenue management? Here are my Fab Four tips for 2019. No buzzwords, no hype. Just pragmatism.#1. GET MORE RIGID WITH CANCELLATION POLICIES AND FOCUS ON PACKAGESAs revenue managers know way too well, high cancellation rates mean worst forecasting and, ultimately, less profit. According to several studies, has over 100% more cancellation than hotel official website, so hoteliers should limit the phenomenon by creating more rigid cancellation policies or prefer Not Refundable Rates over BARs. Make sure to have a solid rate strategy in place and avoid last-minute-panic-prices (often the main reason for last-minute cancellations).According to a recent Expedia survey, "package travelers typically book further in advance, stay longer and are less likely to cancel due to the non-refundable flight element, which helps revenue managers to take more balanced and far-sighted decisions and forecast with higher accuracy. On average, customers who purchase vacation packages book more than 2 times longer than customers who purchase hotel only, they stay on average 2 times longer and cancel at 1/3 the rate as a standalone booker". So make sure to integrate package rates in your revenue strategy. But better make sure to price them well, so you don't erode you revenue potential ...#2. IF YOU CANNOT PROTECT FROM BRANDJACKING, MAKE SURE HAVE A STRONG GOOGLE HOTEL ADS PRESENCEYou may have heard about the recent Google ads trademarks policy update. Up until last October, hotels could file a complaint with Google for trademark infringement, as I explained in this article. Unfortunately, Google now allows virtually any advertiser to bid on your hotel name. At this link, in fact, you can read that "Advertisers may use a trademark term in ad text if they are a reseller of, offer compatible components or parts for, or provide information about the goods and services related to the trademarked term". How to fight back? You can, of course, invest in brand protection on the main search engines, but a more effective strategy may be to strengthen your presence on the Google metasearch engine. By connecting your booking engine directly on the Google Hotel Ads program, you will be able to sell your rooms directly, undercutting intermediaries. Google offers different price models: commission, ROI, or bid, so it is a virtually risk-free investment. Moreover, Google uses machine learning to maximize ROI, so the human factor involved is very limited. Make sure that your IBE supports GHA at this link and get some direct revenue back!#3. FACILITATED IS THE NEW DIRECTYou're very likely familiar with TripAdvisor' Instant Booking, but what about BoG? BoG (short for Book on Google) allows internet users to book a hotel without leaving the SERP. The concept of facilitated booking is nothing new, but when the booking is facilitated by Google, there are good chances that it will be an Industry game-changer. Until last year, BoG was only available in a few markets (US, UK, Australia and New Zealand), but it has now rolled out in over a dozen European Countries as well. Reducing the friction during the booking process is a problem that our Industry has been trying to solve for over a decade, with little to no success. It's indicative that Google decided to integrate Hotel Ads directly in the Google Ad (former Adwords), and in a future not so far away (summer?), you would be able to cross-advertise between the two channels, improving ROI and ad pertinency.#4. GET HELP FOR DECISION MAKING: REVENUE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMSDue to the ever-increasing complexity of hotel distribution, pretending to keep working without some level of automation or data aggregation is nuts. With micro-service systems on the rise, agile PMS and inexpensive cloud-native technology, 2019 will be the year virtually any property will be able to implement some kind of Revenue Management System. Remember when we had to aggregate tons of data and create NASA-engineer-level-of-complexity formulas on Excel sheets? Thank God, we survived the 90's, so machines can now do it for us. Modern RMS, in fact, are designed to optimize performances and help your daily sales strategies, providing easy-to-read reports/dashboards and suggestions about rate, inventory and distribution strategy in real-time, without the burden of manual data aggregation. RMS are great for both GMs of small properties in need of simple, low BS indications on what prices to upload and for geeky cluster revenue manager in love with advanced data and segmentation. With algorithm getting more sophisticated by the day (Moore's Law anyone?) and AI cutting down pretty much all the data noise, RMS are way more than a simple Industry buzzword.#5. WORK WITH OTAs, NOT AGAINST THEMEven though it seems like hotel distribution is an ever-moving target, there are clear patterns and trends. According to Phocuswright, for example, 2016 was "the first year when OTA lodging bookings in the U.S. exceeded total hotel website gross bookings". On Forecasts expect OTAs to reach over 40% market share by next year, meaning that, despite above-the-line marketing, targeted discounts and revamped loyalty programmes, consumers are not shifting to direct as their primary booking option as intensely as we all hoped for. Moreover, OTA distribution is basically a duopoly: even though there's still (a little) space for local OTAs, and Expedia remain the most solid and reliable distribution channels for any kind of property.Having that in mind, hotels should start reconsidering their relationships with them: embracing OTAs does not mean dropping all direct booking strategies. Hotels need to understand the intrinsic characteristics of each distributor, moreover, in an age where OTAs and wholesalers flex their rates across metasearch engines or marketplaces, it is very unlikely that users will simply "stop clicking around". Leverage the OTA in your advantage, use them to get reach and exposure for your hotel. And create direct sales spin-off. This is what is working for us at Xotels ...THE FINAL WORDWork with OTAs, review your cancellation policies, advertise on GHA and keep an eye on facilitated bookings. Pursue a holistic approach, don't focus on just one single element. Otherwise you will sell yourself short ...

Opening your Dream Hostel: the Simple 5-Step Plan for Success

Xotels ·19 February 2019
Do you dream of opening a successful hostel? Or perhaps you're closer to making it a reality, having already scoped out locations and gathered the required investment. Wherever you are on your journey to opening your very own successful hostel, I can relate from my own first-hand experience with my hostel management company.I've worked through all types of pain points and concerns with countless hostel owners to create a strong foundation built for success, maximize profits and alleviate stress triggers.If when assessing your hostel idea you ask, "What am I missing?"or "How can I improve my opportunities for success and minimize potential problems?", you are in good company. The best and most profitable hostels make sure to ask and address these types of questions from the beginning. In fact, doing so is a sign that you are priming yourself for a profitable hostel business.Here is a simple 5-step plan to help ensure your hostel prospers, which can also inform much of your business plan.1. Define your dream hostelFor your hostel to succeed, it requires a clear and consistent concept. It should align every single detail that will make up your hostel to convey one consistent idea.We can kick off with identification of your source of inspiration. Getting inside the minds of travellers and hostel guests - in particular, what they really want from a hostel - is key. If you have stayed at hostels, you can ask what you were drawn to and what turned you off. What would you have liked to see as a hostel guest? Where did hostels impress you and let you down?The internet provides an incredible range of resources to understand how hostel guests think. You can study hostel review websites, forums and online travel agency websites for guest feedback. In particular, looking at the reviews of the hostels that will be your competitors can be especially insightful. Armed with information gleaned from studying such customer feedback, you can better create a concept to wow your guests and outperform your competition.A foundational exercise to defining your dream hostel should include:Target audienceLocationConcept design and architectural needsManagement and operational needs2. Decide your hostel's unique selling pointsA hostel addresses a target cohort that wants to spend a limited amount of money. Added to this, competition is fierce for the hostel sector. With these two undercurrent factors in mind, differentiation via a unique concept is arguably more important than ever before. Therefore your concept can be your most important USP. But how exactly do you come up with one that sells?Research your market to identify opportunitiesChoose your target group: couples, students, digital nomads, young professionals and so forthChoose a niche: technology, physical activities and sport, culture, luxury hostel and so forthHere are some inexpensive tactics you can also implement to increase your hostel's popularity:Include a free, quality breakfast Buying inexpensive products in bulk such as cereal, cold cuts and fruit can trim produce costs, and the breakfast add-on can boost reservations.Offer private roomsSome hostel guests actively search for private rooms. It also offers an avenue to charge a higher price and increase revenues.Partner with a concept design educational institutionWhile concepting is generally expensive, you can cut such costs by aiming to partner with a design school, academy or university. This way, students can propose design concepts for your hotel. Design educational institutions are usually eager to partner with companies to give their students real-world business exposure and experience. And while they may not be so experienced, students are often passionate, dedicated and eager to impress.Create a unique common area and brilliant barThe most successful hostels typically have a common area and bar that they are known for. Hostel guests often want to meet other guests. Your bar is your platform to make this happen and as a result, drive your revenues through food, beverage and entertainment sales. The bar itself can be an extension of your general concept or have its own complementary concept that attracts guests and even locals from the area.3. Work out the set-up and costsCost analysis is necessary whatever your own situation. Whether you are a joint investor, it is a family venture or you are flying solo, working out the hostel's set-up and required costs is essential.a) Typical costsRent or mortgage amortizationHostel design and architectureFurniture: beds, wardrobes, lockers, towels, sheets, bookcases, TVs, First aid kits, fire extinguishers and morePermits and licenses: these will change depending on the services that your hostel provides. They usually include:License related to the building's activityLicense to serve alcohol and foodMusic and broadcasting licensesInsurance: this can include public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance and employer's liability insurance. You will be required to check your insurance obligations with the relevant national authorities.b) Sources of revenuePrivate beds and dorms in short stayMid-term stay bedsRestaurant and barSpa, gym and/or leisureBike rentalLaundry service or pre-paid washing machinesLocal tourism services that your hostel may provide4. Build a strong guest relationship and leverage your hostel's cultural environmentHostels are known to be a location for budget-conscious travellers in which cleanliness is king. Here are some points to bear in mind that will help you cultivate strong relationships with your guests.Digital nomads travel around the world. They are often on the lookout for a work area as well as somewhere to relax and unwind.The number of families travelling is increasing. Those that are on a budget often look to hostels. Private family rooms with beds for children, a changing area and a microwave are therefore in increasing demand.Solo travellers tend to choose hostels because unlike hotels they offer a much better opportunity to meet like-minded people, many of whom may also be travelling alone.Travel is multinational and multicultural. Therefore, if you want to attract people from far and wide, it is advised to accommodate different tastes, cultural mores and preferences.Activities should reflect your target market. For instance, if it is students, you may choose to host a movie night with drinks and snacks. Alternatively, if it is young professionals or digital nomads,you may elect to organize business and innovation meetups, professional guest speaker events or even speed dating.A small shop that provides essentials and entertainment options such as movie rentals meets traveller needs and of course augments your revenues.5. Join a reputable hostel association and build a business networkReputation is critical to a hostel's success. One way to grow and maintain a strong reputation is by joining hostel networks that provide a seal of approval.Being part of an organization that is internationally recognized such as Hostelling international will show your potential guests that your hostel is committed to certain standards in service provision.You can also grow your reputation by:Partnering with local businesses whose services complement your own. For instance, if your target market is digital nomads, partnering with co-working offices to promote each other's businesses and offer promotions can offer a viable route to success.Contacting language schools to offer in-hostel classes.Developing relationships with local startups and businesses on the lookout for short-term hires.Contacting your local council to be aware of cultural activities, trade fairs and events that may interest your guests. You can also avail of possible opportunities to offer promotions and win recommendations for your hostel from local council departments, such as the tourist board.The final wordThe most important task when carrying out your initial hostel plan is to get your ideas out of your head and onto paper. This task turns a dream into a goal. With this 5-step plan, you can implement a simple yet powerful route to shaping the success of your hostel business. Its thorough and meticulous execution will help ensure maximized prosperity. And in realizing this 5-step method, you will be well positioned to develop your subsequent business plan, as well as your marketing, distribution strategy and revenue management plans, all of which will prime your hostel for outstanding success.As ever, please let me know your thoughts or if you have anything to add in the comments!Cheers,Patrick Landman @ Xotels

2019 Plea to Hotel PMS providers for Distribution Cost Tracking Functionality

Xotels ·16 January 2019
Over the last few years there has been much discussion in the the world of hotel revenue management on managing GOPPAR and NREVPAR over only REVPAR. Understanding the cost of distribution is vital to the financial success of every hotel. For this we would need our systems to support us in registering and calculating such costs. Unfortunately many hotel Property Management Systems (PMS) have not yet evolved sufficiently in this area.In a discussion on my last post on the Hotel P&L the topic came up. I have made this plea various times already to PMS providers. So I am using the start of 2019 to make a public plea to request all hotel systems to develop a comprehensive cost of sales functionality.As hoteliers we need to be able to track our cost of sales properly. This includes not only base commissions but also overrides and other transaction fees or costsTherefore, we need a system that allows us to program the cost for each channel. When talking commissions the functionality should administer standard OTA commissions, but also take into consideration commission overrides. This data should be included in the reservation delivery interface, avoiding laborious manual corrections on the hotel side. Some OTA have a mix of sell (gross) and net rates. This would all need to be well recorded on a per booking basis.But we don't only pay commissions to OTA. How about groups an travel agency reservations? Again here we would need for a standard commission to be applied based on a contract. This most PMS allow for. But what if there is a commission override? Can we post this to the group folio to be recalculated over all the reservations?And override commissions on FIT and Wholesale contracts, we should be able to record these as well as a cost of sales. On this segment another question comes to mind, should we be able to add a markup to have a gross rate, when comparing to BAR and other public rates?And then, there are the GDS and CRS, what do they cost by month and transaction. How can we configure our systems to track this as well. Same goes for chain and representation fees. Booking Engine, Channel Manager and interfaces costs should also not be overlooked.Meta-Search and Adword advertising are also important costs we should look to incorporate in our cost of distribution. However the cost of these bidding models cannot be allocated to individual reservations. So maybe we need a module allowing us to administer advertising costs on a scheduled basis. This could either be per month, day or week. But take note the spending moment equals the booking date but is not related to the stay date. Would a calculation considering booking lead time allow us to assign costs effectively?This type of distribution cost functionality will finally allow us to move beyond a proverbial 'garbage in, garbage out' era, and enable hotels to gain much better insight in the true cost of sales. Hoteliers will finally be able to make an apples to apples comparison on Net-ADR and Net Revenue Contribution per agency, channel and segment. It is time we get a full understanding on how each and every single reservation contributes to the bottom line.This is of course highly complex, and as you can see I don't have all the answers. But I hope this post will start a public debate amongst hoteliers on which requirements we have as an industry from our technology providers. This would give them the full specs on what to build, and hopefully we will see some great developments by our system partners in 2019.Look forward to everyone's feedback, both from hotels and PMS vendors of course ...Happy 2019 everyone! Patrick Landman @ Xotels

Hotel Profit and Loss Statement: how to create it?

Xotels ·19 December 2018
Hotel Management isn't merely about strategy. There are many layers, each of which require your undivided attention. Human resources, operations, budgeting, and income and cost control are but a few areas which necessitate focus, as well as the requisite knowledge and skill. But how can you efficiently assess the business areas that generate maximized profits?To accomplish this step and provide the best platform from which your hotel will succeed, the key is to prepare and execute a carefully structured profit and loss statement. In this article as we review a Hotel P&L sample based o the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USAL), a rich resource that provides numerous key insights for hotel managers.A hotel profit and loss (PnL) statement provides you with an analysis of your hotel's revenue, cost and profit performance. It helps you understand how much bottom line margin the property is making. Therefore, it is essential for any hotel manager to fully understand each line item of their P&L statement, and where pertinent, how to interpret the data to inform business decisions.Note: You may also see P&L statement referred to as your hotel income statement, profit and loss report, statement of financial results, income and expenses statement, or statement of profit and loss.They are typically carried out on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Although the frequency is entirely at your discretion and what you think is best for your hotel, I would recommend to review such a report at least with a monthly frequency to avoid the business moving off beyond control. Larger hotels even provide such reporting on a weekly or even daily basis to really micromanage their financial successThe importance of profit and loss statements for independent hotels1. HIGHLIGHTING CAPITAL FLOWSPeriodic P&L reports are essential for the success of your hotel, as they highlight where your profits are coming from and where your expenses are going. For this reason it is a key tool you want to make data-driven decisions on expenses and revenue at an operational level.2. UNDERSTANDING PRECISELY HOW EACH DEPARTMENT IS PERFORMINGYour P&L statement provides a close scrutiny of departmental performance across your hotel. It also allows you as the hotel manager to analyse this performance compared with your overall and departmental budgets per week, month, quarter or year.The key benefit is that it provides you with insights to identify financial performance weaknesses and strengths. You can then act accordingly to make improvements, such as through cutting hotel costs, enhancing underperforming areas, or investing in new revenue growth streams.The P&L is of course strongly linked to your other two essential financial statements:1. Balance Sheet and Liabilities (A&L) Statement2. Cash Flow StatementThe P&L feeds both these statements. Therefore, its correct and accurate structure, execution and understanding is critical to help small and independent hotels keep a tighter rein on cost control.The simple 5-step plan for an effective hotel profit and loss statement templateImplementing the following four steps will provide a strong foundation from which to develop an effective P&L report:1. Sound management of all revenue operations, producing accurate and timely numerical information for your hotel accounts department (sales figures, expenses and so forth)2. Periodic accounts department preparation of accurate and insightful P&L reports to deliver to management3. Management analysis of the P&L with the purpose of identifying where the hotel is meeting or exceeding established goals / budgets and where improvements can be made. Management must determine the correct course of action to take in order to maximize outcomes, based on the information provided by correct and accurate P&L statements4. Hotel management oversees and implements the previously decided course of action regarding improvements and the resolution of problem areas5. Periodic reviews of the entire P&L workflow process, from drawing up your P&L reports to interpretation and implementation of decisions based on their insights. Rigid commitment to a review process helps you to identify where further improvements can be made and what is and isn't contributing to the provision of value-added data and informationKPIs and elements of a hotel P&L statement:For the specific case of hotels, the most important KPIs to look at in our Profit & Loss statement are the GOP (gross operating profit) and NOI or NOP (net operating income or profit)Working out your GOP (gross operating profit)1. Add the revenue and costs from all operational departments (restaurant, bar, banquets, front office, housekeeping, engineering and others).2. Deduct all the undistributed, fixed and overhead costs to work out your NOI (net operating income) and EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation). This is basically the profit generated from the hotel's own operations.A hotel P&L statement includes the following elements:1 . REVENUE OR TOP LINEThis is typically itemised into individual revenue sources. These include room turnover, food and beverage revenue (restaurant, breakfast, bar, room service), and if applicable, events, activities, spa membership and gift shop income, among other possible revenue sources.Once you have the figure of the total sales revenue, the cost of sale (commissions that are paid to different sales channels, for example to the OTAs ) should be diminished to obtain your gross profit.2. COSTSa) Operational expensesThese are the operational costs for delivering the services of each revenue source, for instance: restaurant, bar, banquets, front office, housekeeping, cleaning, engineering and others.b) Undistributed expensesOverheads such as administration, staff, and property-related costs.c) Fixed expensesThese costs remain constant. They include property tax, property-related costs such as building and/or equipment rental, amortization, depreciation, insurance and the interest to pay on loans or debt, such as from loans, lease and insurance.d) Interest, taxes, amortization and depreciation3. EARNINGS OR BOTTOM LINEDifference of deducting the cost from the revenue. It is also known as net income, profit or earnings.Here's a sample hostel profit and loss statement:1. REVENUE OR TOP LINETo calculate the total revenue generated:Room RevenueFood & BeverageBreakfast RevenueBar RevenueRestaurant RevenueRoom Service RevenueOther Departmental revenue:EventsActivitiesSpaTelephoneGift ShopParking2. COSTSa) Operational expenses:RoomsPayrollCleaningLaundryOtherF&BFood CostBeverage CostPayrollCleaningLaundryOtherOther departments: spa, events and othersPurchasing CostsPayrollOtherb) Undistributed costs:Administration, excluding what has been taken into account already for being related to services of the hotel.Marketing and distribution expenses, you can take into account: cost of commission to OTA, cost of metasearch, marketing expenses and other sales channels costStaff not directly related to rooms, including F&B, spa and events staffCleaningOtherc) Fixed expenses:Property taxProperty rentalEquipment rentalInsuranceBy applying the following formula we obtain our NOI (net operating income) or EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation Amortization):Revenue - Expenses before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and AmortizationTo conclude with the P&L statement, the final step is to calculate the following:InterestTaxesDepreciationAmortizationThe above sample is of course a simplified version of a hotel P&L statement. Your accounting department may wish to break your own P&L statements down into more detail to aid greater understanding and provide deeper insight.A final wordTo understand your P&L as well as possible, what it boils down to, simply, is this: total sales minus total costs equals hotel profits. While it doesn't need to become complicated, the more detailed your P&L, the better for your understanding and insight regarding overall hotel operability and performance.Any hotel management business that wishes to achieve healthy financial results, should invest a good amount of time to build a well structured profit and loss statement, and review it monthly with the members of the hotel executive and management team. It is a key step to your success!Download your free copy of a sample hotel P&L statement in Excel or PDFAs ever, please let me know your thoughts!Cheers,Patrick Landman @ Xotels

Opening your Dream Hostel: the Simple 5-Step Plan for Success

Xotels Blog·17 December 2018
Do you dream of opening a successful hostel? Or perhaps you’re closer to making it a reality, having already scoped out locations and gathered the required investment. Wherever you are on your journey to opening your very own successful hostel, I can relate from my own first-hand experience with my hostel management company.

How to Create a Family Friendly Hotel

Xotels ·12 December 2018
Helping parents with the logistics of travelling with their kids is a huge part of the job while simultaneously providing a stay at your hotel that is fun, inspirational and relaxing.If you want to help level up your hotel into an industry benchmark for child-friendliness, now is the time to look beyond merely offering a standard family room and embrace fresh, creative, innovative ideas to win business from families and keep them coming back time and again.Here are some such ideas for you to consider.Boosting your hotel's appeal to familiesAs hoteliers we increasingy have to dazzle our guests with new, fresh proposals on a regular basis. And families present two buyer personas in one. We must cater to the needs and desires of both parents and children.With this in mind, what can your hotel do to attract families in a unique way that trumps your competition?At Xotels we have worked with many hotels on improving their appeal to families. We see this niche target market as a great opportunity, but unfortunately many hotels are not addressing their needs adequately.One common theme is that families love package offers, complete with meals, activities and perks. And those with activities for young children and early-year adolescents in particular are the most successful. Here are five initiatives you can consider implementing.1. Form a partnership with brands or prominent public figures that complement your own brand. These can include cultural and sports icons unique to your city.2. Appeal to adventure-seeking families by promoting your hotel as a family destination with nearby activities. These can include cultural hotspot visits like a museum, castle or zoo, and sport activities, excursions or events.3. Target families with high disposable income by positioning your hotel as a premium-level location for a family getaway, fully prepared with a range of outstanding children's activities and services to help parents relax and unwind.4. Target families on a budget by offering family room deals including triples and quads. Especially in times of typically lower occupancy this is an effective tactic.5. Create unique, memorable themes for your family packages. Two examples are: (1) "Our first family holiday!" and (2) "The great outdoors family weekend away".Optimising your family package promotionIt is of course essential to promote your family packages to the decision makers in the family: parents. Due to the logistics of organising a family holiday around kids' time off school and parents' time off work, families usually arrange their vacations in advance. With this in mind, how can you best promote your family packages? Here are three suggestions.Send quarterly newsletters to guests with families that detail your upcoming packages that they simply can't miss out on. This also presents an opportunity to attract early bookings with offers and special deals.Partner with bloggers and online publications that write about family activities for your geographical area. Parents are often very receptive to recommendations from recognised authority sources. Many online family publications and social media accounts have enormous influence with parents.Publish and promote professional photos and videos of the activities, spaces and locations that form your family packages on your website, on your social accounts and also consider paid PR campaigns via social media and traditional media, including print and radio.Make your hotel family-friendly"Family-friendly" as a concept refers to all family members as a unit but as individuals too. Here are three family member age groups (adults, toddlers and young children) with various ideas for each to consider.1. FOR PARENTSi. Propose activities for Mum and Dad to enjoy together, such as a romantic meal or leisure pursuit, while offering supervised creche services for babies and on-site entertainment options for older children.ii. Create postnatal or pampering activities and treatments for Mums to re-energize, but be sure to also offer any Dads a range of services to choose from too. Pursuing individual parent activities in such a way also appeals to any families staying with just one parent.iii. Offer a "Baby Breakfast". This sees child carers pick a family's baby or babies up early in the morning to be fed and cared for, allowing the parent(s) alone time to enjoy a restful morning, relaxing breakfast or revitalising spa session.iv. Provide babies and/or young children with swimming lessons with a qualified child instructor. Parents can also join or watch on from the side.2. FOR BABIES (0-3 YEARS OLD)Travelling with babies can be complicated and therefore it isn't so common. But this can be an advantage to hotel managers. Simply through investing in the following kinds of items and services that help provide baby care, your hotel will stand out from your competition by showing that you accommodate families as a priority.i. Cribsii. Baby trolleysiii. Babysitting, creche and playpensiv. Nappy binsv. Changing matsvi. Bottle warmersvii. Arranged agreement for callout doctor visits should they be necessaryviii. Baby essentials such as nappies, wipes and cream as part of a toiletries pack3. FOR PRE-TEEN CHILDREN (4-12 YEARS OLD)i. Kids menus including healthy optionsii. Kid-size pyjamas and bathrobesiii. Activities including child care such as bike tours, water sports, cooking lessons, or interactive pursuits including outside treasure hunts or geocoachingiv. LEGO butler or any toy delivery in the room, by developing a toy room-service menu. If room-service is not your strong suit, you can reserved a drawer only for toys, for children to enjoy in their room.v. Bedtime story butler, reading the perfect bedtime story according to your kidsvi. Children afternoon tea or a play-area that you can do in a conference room or in the bar area, to optimize these spaces, sometimes quiet in the afternoon (under-supervision of course)vii. Candy Man within the hotel, to deliver candy, chocolate bar or gummy bears with his cartviii. Welcoming gift for kids: you can include hotel T-shirts, coloring book, yo-yo, teddy bear.. .Personalized it according to your hotel identity!Family friendliness for boutique and independent hotelsIf you run a boutique or independent hotel, you can make the requisite amendments to boost your family-friendly appeal without needing to invest a lot. Here are some budget-friendly options.1. FAMILY SERVICES AT BOUTIQUE AND INDEPENDENT HOTELSi. Offer standard rooms that can be family-customized with optional extras. These can include snacks and welcome family food packs, a crib or cot, mini fridge, children's TV channels, board games and other entertainment options.ii. Make your lobby area cozy for children with a play area and toys while parents check in or out or simply want to sit and relax with a refreshment.iii. Prepare budget-friendly, quality packed lunch for adults and kids alike.iv. Set up an area of the restaurant dining room for children with small tables and colorful decor.v. Offer extended check out on all family bookings.2. PROPOSE FAMILY VACATION IDEASi. Itineraries and plans for the whole family to do together, as well as individual activities for parents and for children.ii. Make and promote a checklist of the 10 essential things to do in your city or local area and see before your 15th birthday, but that parents will also find stimulating.iii. Form partnerships with local swimming instructors to offer lessons for kids in the morning, or with gyms and other activity centers to offer other types of class.3. FACILITIES FOR BABIES (0-3 YEARS OLD)As we mentioned, travelling with toddlers isn't common. Therefore, it doesn't provide a strong return on investment to spend heavily by focusing on families with children under 3 years of age. But you can certainly provide the following items and services easily, which can make a world of difference in how families that do check in with a young baby view your hotel.i. Baby bibs at the hotel restaurantii. Puree and baby food at the bar/restaurantiii. Bottle-heating room serviceiv. Cribs, cots and playpensv. Nappy changing amenities and products4. IDEAS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN (4-12 YEARS OLD)i. Set up a section of each main common area for children to play in while their parents can watch on. You can deck it out with board games, toys, superhero costumes and indoor playground facilities such as a mini slide. This also provides an opportunity to partner with local companies that provide products or services for children.ii. Organize a themed treasure hunt in a specific area of the hotel grounds. This includes creating a map with clues and prizes for locating the treasure.iii. Prepare for rainy days by offering indoor activity options too, including classes, courses and shows. You can seek to make it unique to your hotel by leveraging local history, traditions, events, culture or folklore.THE FINAL WORDMany families want to spend quality time together on holiday, while others prefer let their kids enjoy themselves while the parents enjoy some time to themselves, and others want a bit of both. Successful hotel management explores and caters to all these preferences by listening carefully to guests regarding services and facilities, in order to inform any necessary update decisions.In a hotel sector in which change is now constant, it is the hotel manager that is proactive and prepared that will achieve the greatest commercial success while delivering an outstanding service that turns families into happy, repeat-stay guests.These reflections are based on our first-hand experience at Xotels working with scores of leading hotels around Europe and beyond on successful hotel family service implementation. I hope they provide you with some valuable insights into how to boost your own family-friendly appeal.As ever, please let me know your thoughts or if you have anything to add in the comments!Cheers,Patrick Landman @ Xotels

Upgrade your Hotel Positioning with some Unconventional Amenities & Services

Xotels ·22 October 2018
Our role as Xotels has developed over time from revenue management into a full hotel management company, we are now looking way beyond pricing and distribution for hotels. We are actually also developing new hotel concepts, and for this it is important to keep up to date with the latest developments in the hospitality industry.The hotel industry has welcomed an unprecedented level of luxury. The rising demand for this extravagance is the increasing guest pursuit of meaningful, personalized experiences that are at the same time unique, exclusive and memorable. Join me in this post and discover 10 of the most brilliant hotel offerings that deliver the ultimate experience in luxury.Hotelier insider tipAt Xotels, we work with a number of hotels that offer such services. From this first-hand experience, we have seen that luxury hotel guests don't want to be seen as capricious and wasteful. They value their privacy, yet seek out luxury stays for the unique surprises and thrills that hotel management can offer.By surpassing your guests' expectations with a spectacular 5-star hotel service, your hotel will quickly gain a reputation for an unforgettable, must-have experience.We have gathered some examples from hotels around the world to inspire you;10 OUTSTANDING LUXURY HOTEL SERVICES1. PAPARAZZI POLICEKeeping their vacation private is the minimum that your guests can ask of your luxury hotel, right? But, if for instance you have celebrity guests whose daily life involves being followed by paparazzi, maintaining such privacy presents challenges.To solve this paparazzi problem, the Las Ventanas hotel in Los Cabos, Mexico came up with an innovative solution to ensure their guests' privacy and an enjoyable stay. This hotel's staff are equipped with reflective screens, which protect their guests from prying photographers. These "Paparazzi Police" use their screens to shine light at the photographers, which ruins their photos.Not only that, it also works as a deterrent, as photographers know that there is now little point in trying to take photos at Las Ventanas.2. PERSONALIZED FIREWORK DISPLAYWe focus on Las Ventanas again, as the luxury hotel offers a spectacular personalized, private fireworks show. Costing around $1,700 per minute, guests can easily personalize it to their liking. It is another service that helps create a truly unique, unforgettable experience in a part of the world that is known for its mesmerizing natural beauty.3. ONSITE GIRAFFESLocated in the Langata suburb of Nairobi, Giraffe Manor is an exclusive boutique hotel. Like its name suggests, it is home to a large group of giraffes, which can be seen walking around the 12 acres of hotel land, and are known to greet guests by frequently poking their heads into their windows!Giraffe Manor is one of Nairobi's most iconic buildings, hosting international guests since the 1930s when affluent Europeans began to visit for a safari trip. But, by far the hotel's most stunning attraction is its beautiful and friendly group of giraffes, which year after year continues to entice guests in search of luxury hotel experiences.While you may not be able to offer onsite giraffes at your own hotel, perhaps Giraffe Manor can inspire you to come up with your own unique offering.4. HOT AIR BALLOON RIDEBreathtaking experiences are a favorite of luxury hotel guests prepared to pay extra for the privilege. One such experience is a ride in a hot air balloon. And one such hotel that offers this service is the Kale Konak Hotel, located atop Cappadocia in Turkey.Leveraging its position amid a location of natural splendor, this hotel helps its guests by organizing a hot air balloon ride, which promises a stunning experience of a lifetime.How can your hotel take advantage of its surroundings to offer thrilling adventures and experiences?5. SUNSCREEN-SPRAYING BOOTHSHotel guests don't want to worry about anything when they enjoy the beach or the resort pool at remote and exclusive locations. And if there's one thing that can ruin a vacation, it's sunburn. Proactive hotels take it upon themselves to help guests prevent burning up by including sunscreen-spraying booths as a standard luxury hotel service. In particular, many Caribbean hotels offer this service, loved by solo travelers, couples and families alike.After all, even if a guest carelessly forgets to apply sunscreen and suffers the consequences, they are much more likely to associate your hotel with the negative experience. By offering sunscreen-spraying booths, you cancel out this possibility and create a value-added service for your guests, so they can enjoy their vacation in full.6. PARAGLIDINGFor hotels that are located with expansive countryside hills nearby, paragliding is a luxury service that ticks all the boxes. It can be relatively inexpensive to run, offers a riveting add-on experience, and will hep move you head and shoulders above your competition.A novel twist is to offer a paragliding route from atop a hill to the hotel entrance at the bottom. With the help of a professional paragliding expert, the most demanding and fearless of guests can enjoy an extreme sport and make a rock-star entrance at your hotel.7. SECRET, INVITE-ONLY ROOMIt is an increasing trend to offer a secret or hidden service. But the catch is that it can't be bought by money. Certain luxury desires can only be attained with the right contact, recommendation, knowledge or invite. Think of the appeal of speakeasy bars, or exclusive, secret societies.Take advantage of this winning trend by creating a secret, invite-only room in your hotel. Make it exceptionally beautiful or intriguing, or offer services that are unobtainable to "regular" guests. Choose a secluded or forbidden area of your hotel for its location. And of course, this secret room cannot be advertised on your official channels, such as your website.8. IN-SUITE SHOPPINGLuxury is never having to pack a suitcase, no matter where you go or for how long. Take inspiration from London's Hotel Cafe Royal, which offers its guests a personalized, curated styling service for all occasions during their stay. Guests check in without luggage and find a selection of clothes handpicked by a personal stylist to choose from in their suite upon arrival.By offering your guests this luxury option, you make them feel like pop stars. And not only is it extremely convenient, everyone loves discovering a new outfit to wear and feeling like a VIP.9. COMPLIMENTARY LUXURY CAR DRIVESSome of the very best 5-star luxury hotels offer their guests luxury cars during their stay too, for free. Hotels like The Peninsula Beverly Hills in California provide their guests with Rolls-Royce and Infiniti cars, having developed a strong relationship with the high-end car manufacturers.If you have the budget to ramp up your luxury hotel with this complimentary service, it will help serve as a magnet for guests eager for exclusive experiential stays. And if not, there are other options. For instance, you can approach high-end car leasing companies to enquire about reaching an agreement. And it doesn't have to be luxury cars. You could also tap into the growing importance of sustainability to guests by offering premium eco-friendly cars.10. NO-INTERNET DIGITAL DETOX ZONEC-suite executives and stressed millionaires with companies and scores of people dependent on their decisions and attention find it difficult if not impossible to disconnect. With so much responsibility on their shoulders, they are often available around the clock, seven days a week.Even if they do get an opportunity to get some much needed time off, they are often interrupted by a colleague who needs their input on the latest emergency or major decision at their company. Cue the growing prevalence of no-internet resorts. No WiFi, no mobile internet signal and no onsite computers to access the web. Completely and utterly offline.This digital detox is increasingly sought after by hyper-connected individuals who want to get away from it all, even if only for a few days, offering them total peace and quiet, without the fear of their phone blowing up with calls, messages and emails. For typically busy company executives and such individuals in an ultra-connected world, this kind of opportunity to unwind and relax "off the grid" is an increasingly exclusive luxury.THE FINAL WORDMore and more hotels are trying to make their guests' stay as special as possible so in the near future, many of these unconventional services will be offered by more luxurious hotels all over the world.This being said, a great hotel manager goes beyond what customers say they want, helping them to realize their wildest dreams by combining fun, joyful experiences with exclusive, unique services that make them feel important.More ideas? Let me know them in the comments...Cheers,Patrick Landman @

How to Attract Millennials to Book your Hotel: The 5-Step Plan

Xotels · 8 October 2018
So by now we should all know that Millennials represent the largest consumer demographic group in the world today. And more importantly for the hotel sector, they love to travel. For these reasons, it is critical to the success of your hotel management strategy to appeal to the millennial market.This consumer group is made up of people born between 1981 and 1996, which in 2018 equates to ages from 22 to 37. With the baby boomer cohort retiring and millennial spending power increasing, it will be the latter group that will increasingly drive the success of your hotel over the years to come.So, we have put together top five list of brilliant tactics and tips to get millennials to book your hotel time and again.1. OPTIMIZE YOUR ONLINE BOOKING CHANNELSIs your website up to date? Does booking through it take less than a minute? Does your hotel have actively managed social media accounts across a range of platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat)? Do they drive traffic for direct bookings?If the answer to any of these questions is no, your online booking channels are not optimized, and you are almost certainly losing customers to your rivals.Millennials are the most tech-savvy demographic in history. Frankly, if you don't meet their tech expectations, they will find a hotel that will.Here's a quick to-do list to make sure your direct bookings are as plentiful as they can be:i) Carry out an in-depth assessment of website optimization for the millennial market and implement the necessary updates. And with 46% of travel booked through a mobile phone or tablet, it absolutely must be enhanced for mobile.ii) Integrate a booking management system that is designed with millennials in mind, for a speedy, user-friendly reservation experience. We need to go beyond the basic off the shelf booking engines, with only 1 small image per room type and one line of text. It is time for a big revamp, and give the IBE a look and feel more matching Tinder or InstaGram.iii) Plan and implement a detailed social media strategy to drive direct millennial traffic to your website. Which platforms should you be on? Are you consistently producing and recycling content that can be shared and liked?2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEIR PRICE-SAVVINESSMillennials' spending power is increasing, in particular as many scale the career ladder, but they are generally on the lookout for a good deal when it comes to travel expenses. With their high levels of brand loyalty in mind, your hotel has an opportunity to win repeat millennial custom.A good starting point is to promote a loyalty program that rewards millennials with genuinely appealing gifts or discounts. And we are not talking about a system where the need to gather points before they get something. No millennials are all for instant gratification, so give them their discounts and extras right away when they sign-up.Another important point to keep in mind is that millennials are prepared to spend more for an upgrade to their experience with you, representing up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.You can add to these steps by offering more than just the typical all-inclusive package by including various additional perks for a comprehensive experience package deal. You will find some great tips in our article on 'how hotels should compete with AirBnB'.3. TARGET THE SOLO TRAVELLING MILLENNIALSUnlike previous generations, a large portion of millennials are interested in travelling alone, reportedly up to 37%. When we also take into consideration that the "digital nomad" group - people who work while travelling and staying in different locations around the world - is growing, and that freelancers are expected to rise to around 50% of the global workforce by 2030, the need to appeal to the solo guest market is evident.You can win solo traveler business by designing individual guest packages. This might include perks, such as a personalized spa and leisure offering, a communal area to get to know other solo travelers, and leveraging unique points about your hotel, such as its unique location, history or the local cuisine.Your marketing, customer service and sales processes should also be tailored to individual travelers too, including website landing pages, and social media and email marketing strategies.For example, create a Digital Nomad landing page, where you outline specifically what you offer them, giving some extra perks. Package it up with a e-bike to explore the city, or an airport pick-up with a green-taxi service.4. FOCUS ON THE AFTER-SALES SERVICE AND CULTIVATE A STRONG CLIENT RELATIONSHIPMillennials want to share their experience of their stay in your hotel, and with the massive reach of Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms, not to mention hotel review websites, it is critical to not only make a good first impression on your millennial guests, but to actively invest in and cultivate a strong relationship.What does this mean exactly? To begin with, you must be receptive to feedback, whether good or bad. This will arrive through any of a number of online channels, so you need to be ready to respond as professionally to complaints as you do to glowing reviews (some tips on how to here).The hotel that successfully appeals to millennials does this through efficient communication via social networks, their own internal communication channels, through online travel agencies (OTAs) and review websites. And to maintain direct communication and promote repeat stays, a sophisticated email marketing strategy is essential.We have implemented a guest Whatsapp concierge service in many hotels. This way guests can be in touch with the reception constantly and ask advise on what is going on in town or get help with restaurant reservations 24/7.In our experience, really making an intense effort of talking frequently with our guests during their stay, and sending a sincere personal post-stay thank you message, drives up review scores magically. Don't wait behind the reception desk for them to come to you, go out and meet them in the lounge or breakfast room and create a bond. Show them you care and are interested in their personal stories, and they will pay back the love!5. MAKE YOUR HOTEL INSTAGRAMMABLE AND EXPERIENTIALInstagram is the visual social network of choice for millennials. Put simply, it allows its users to post beautiful images and share it far and wide with the assistance of up to 30 hashtags, the Instagram Stories feature, and of course, its image filter selection.Making your hotel fit for Instagram purpose allows you to essentially get word-of-mouth marketing on a mass scale for free, as millennials will happily share photos of your hotel for you. And if it is truly instagrammable, you can bet that your millennial guests will sing your praises too.Really, your hotel needs to be designed for the millennial guest. If not, it is probably time for a decor update. But before you go about overhauling your hotel to appeal to this group, it is worth paying close attention to their penchant for unique and unforgettable travel experiences.The days of hotel concepts across your city and possibly even country being more or less the same are probably on their way out, because new hotel concepts are increasingly driven by the unique experience that they can offer to millennials.A great example here is the Katikies in Santorini, Greece. Besides that they have an amazing location with stunning views, they go out of their way to be instagrammable. They spend US$29.392 a year on paint. They have a full time painter on their team and patch up every day to stay picture perfect. (check the article)Also check out a positioning strategy article I wrote earlier titled 'give the selfie shooters what they want'Put simply, what can your hotel offer millennials that no other can? How can it differentiate the experience it offers its millennial guests? Experiential hotels take their inspiration from the unique culture of their city, region or country; from an immersive hotel experience that they offer; or basing their concept on activities that their specific location offers, such as, for example, water sports at the nearby river rapids.WRAPPING UPMillennials are arguably the most demanding consumer group in history. They want more, and they want to pay less for it. And whether good or bad, they are very likely to leave feedback on one or more online channels about their stay at your hotel.On the flip side though, if you nail your hotel management strategy for this demographic, you will reap the rewards of attracting and keeping a highly brand-loyal consumer group that is only going to grow in prominence, and that as a bonus is very receptive to up-selling and cross-selling initiatives.While millennials necessitate a more intricate business model, the rewards for successfully executing one for your hotel can be exponential.My advice would be to create a task force and make it part of your annual strategy plan, and during your monthly management meetings, add a time where you discuss what you are doing specifically to attract and serve millennials better. It needs to be a constant focus.Look forward to any other ideas or suggestions from you ...Cheers,Patrick Landman @ Xotels

How to Attract Chinese Travellers to your Hotel

Xotels ·23 August 2018
With around $300 billion spent every year overseas, Chinese market is incredibly tempting for hotels, but it's probably the hardest one to penetrate as well. We are always looking to develop our revenue management and distribution strategies for new opportunities. Talking with some of the experts in the market we have put together a top 10 list of tips and best practices to make your hotel 'chinese friendly' and attract this massive growing market segment.So, if you don't know where to start with the "Land of the Dragon", forget about noodles, dumplings or martial arts B-movies and follow this short guide to turn your hotel into the ultimate Chinese-friendly experience!1, 2, 3, GO!Statistically, the average Chinese travelers stay is pretty short (according to a recent Ctrip study, most package-tour travelers visit over 3 Countries in 10 days), they prefer to move in groups and avoid the DIY approach. This is because of several reasons: usually Chinese do not speak fluent English, so traveling in groups is reassuring, moreover, agencies take care of pretty much every aspect of the travel, including getting Visas (only 7% of the population actually possesses a passport and getting a Visa is usually a pain in the butt, if you pardon my french). Chinese travelers have a clear preference for beaten-track destinations with known landmarks.TIP #1: SPEAK TO YOUR TOUR SERIES AND GROUP BOOKERS AND FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE CHINESE CLIENTS. YOU COULD USE THIS GROUP MARKET TO QUOTE 'OPAQUE RATES' TO CREATE BASE OCCUPANCY. OF COURSE HIGHLIGHT THE SPACE YOU HAVE FOR BUSSES OR MINIBUSES TO DROP-OFF AND PICK-UP GUESTS.THE YEAR OF THE CAT, NOPE, THE DOGEqually important is to recognize the religious, cultural and political differences. For example is not unusual for Chinese to have only one or two weeks of annual holidays. Unthinkable, for us, lazy Europeans! Nevertheless, last year over 6 million of Chinese travelers spent the Lunar New Year Holiday week (late January - early February) overseas, a period that is usually considered low-season in Europe and can be, therefore, exploited!TIP #2: STUDY THEIR TRAVEL HABITS AND CREATE SPECIFIC PACKAGES FOR THE SPRING FESTIVAL BREAK!MEETING THE EXPECTATIONSYou should learn what the Chinese travelers expect from hotels when abroad: paying for wifi, for example, is unimaginable and, even though they do not expect your staff to speak fluent Mandarin, it will certainly improve their experience. Comb, toothbrush, and slippers in a room are expected, just like kettles to make (huge quantities of) tea. When managing a complaint with a Chinese guest, staff should be indirect, diplomatic and avoid confrontation at all cost: the worst offense you can do to a Chinese is to lose your temper, as hiding emotion seems to be the national sport over there. As bad as it may sound, hotel staff (and staff in general) is considered as servants by Chinese, therefore more delicate issues should be managed by General Managers directly. Never turn your back on a Chinese guest and don't forget to smile like until your mouth aches when talking to them. Do not offer preferential treatment to women and, in the rare case a Chinese offers you his business card, treat it as the Holy Grail and grab it with two hands.TIP #3: SOMETHING THAT IS NORMAL IN WESTERN CULTURES IS OFFENSIVE TO CHINESE. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! HAVING CHINESE SPEAKER STAFF IS A VERY EFFECTIVE, YET, NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR SMALL PROPERTIES. TRY ADDING SOME CHINESE TV PROGRAMS AND A FEW TYPICAL DISHES ON YOUR MENU! AND HOW ABOUT PARTNERING WITH A LOCAL CHINESE SPEAKING TOUR-GUIDE ...THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILSDid you know that the Chinese word for "four" sounds like the Chinese word for "death"? Greek call this tetraphobia, or fear of the number 4. This number should never be pronounced during holidays or when somebody is sick. Chinese elevators often skip the 4th floor. So, you got it: NEVER put a Chinese guest on the 4th floor. Looking for a complaint (or an ancient Chinese curse?): assign the room 444... But, hey, the good news is that the numbers 8 and 9 are considered very lucky.TIP #4: MAKE SURE YOU NEVER ASSIGN A ROOM WITH A "4" IN IT TO A CHINESE GUEST, BUT PREFER ROOMS WITH A 8 OR A 9I PAY WITH MY LITTLE PHONEA friend of mine from Shangai once told me that "I can live pretty well by having only Alipay or WeChat on my mobile". This can sound like a radical statement, but it is incredible how quickly the Country managed to move its payments from cash to digital, almost skipping the credit card phase tout-court. According to a recent Nielsen survey, when abroad Chinese travelers "subconsciously take out their phones, only to realize later that the merchant does not support mobile payments".TIP #5: ACCEPT ALIPAY AND WECHAT AS METHODS OF PAYMENT! DON'T FORGET TO MENTION IT ON YOUR WEBSITEBANNED IN CHINAEven though there is a timid, new trend of tech-savvy Chinese travelers using western online platforms such as Google (via VPN, of course) remember that over 6 million websites are blocked in mainland China. And, between them, there are the main western capitalist social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. So trying to penetrate the Chinese market using these platforms is like tying eat chicken soup with chopsticks.TIP #6: ACCORDING TO DRAGON TAIL, OVER 70% OF CHINESE TRAVELERS USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS THE MAIN CHANNEL TO ORGANIZE THEIR TRIP. DID YOU KNOW THAT WECHAT HAS MORE USERS THAN INSTAGRAM? CREATE A WECHAT ACCOUNT (POSSIBLY A SERVICE ONE) NOW!FORGET ABOUT BOOKING.COM AND GOOGLEOTAs are different from ours in China (oh, yeah, that's surprising...): even though and Agoda are available, Ctrip, Qunar, and Alitrip are way more popular. TripAdvisor has its own Chinese language version (DaoDao), but it is way less used than Qyer or Mafengwo. Same with search engines: political pressures have negatively influenced the expansion of Google, so the majority of hotel searches start in Baidu (700 million users). On top of that, the algorithms developed to organize search results in Indo-European languages are not effective for different alphabet and syntax.TIP #7: CONNECT WITH CHINESE OTAS, AT LEAST WITH CTRIP (OVER 50% OF MARKET SHARE AND 160 MILLION APP DOWNLOADS) AND DO NOT WASTE MONEY ADVERTISING ON GOOGLE, BUT TRY SOME BAIDU ADS!PAPER IS DEAD, BUT NOT ENTIRELYDid you know? One of the most popular travel search queries in China is "name of city + travel guide". As anachronistic as it may sound, being listed on a few guides is not such a bad idea.TIP #8: LIST YOUR HOTEL ON A FEW CHINESE TRAVEL GUIDES TO INCREASE YOUR BRAND AWARENESSWHERE TO HOST YOUR CHINESE WEBSITELoading times for websites not hosted in China can be incredibly high. But, in order to host your website over there, you should register a Chinese business... And it's bloody expensive.TIP #9: IF YOU CANNOT HOST YOUR WEBSITE IN CHINA, CHOOSE HONG KONG: IT'S SLIGHTLY EASIER AND LOAD TIME WILL BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR CHINESE WEB USERSKILLED BY DESIGNThe cultural background heavily influences Chinese aesthetic canons as well. Try to compare Tripadvisor with its Asian equivalent Daodao: the profound aesthetic web design differences are striking. Advertising in China is not that simple, either. Baidu, for example, is way more restrictive on advertisements than Western search engines and it requires the approval of your account before you can start bidding.TIP #10: CREATE A DEDICATED WEBSITE VERSION FOR CHINESE USERS AND MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW BAIDU GUIDELINES FOR ADVERTISING!THE FINAL WORDChina is a complicated market, especially for the cultural and political differences that divide us. If you want to attract the Chinese traveler to your hotel, you will have to learn and about their habits and preferences. Adapting to their needs and expectations is fundamental to success.So, in order to penetrate this segment, enhance your hotel management strategy and start following these ten takeaways. Otherwise, they will simply pick another hotel that does ...Cheers,Patrick Landman @ XotelsPS: 1 more tip, but as we did not want to break the top 10, we put it here ...When traveling, Chinese prefer to spend more on shopping than accommodation. Yes, like to all Asian, shopping is a must. They spend a lot on buying European brands ...TIP 11: ADD SHOPPING INFO ON YOUR WEBSITE. A ROUTE OF DEPARTMENT-STORES OR LUXURY BRAND BOUTIQUES WILL BE VERY EFFECTIVE. ALSO INCLUDE DETAILS ABOUT THE CLOSEST OUTLET SHOPPING VILLAGE. SHOPPING PACKAGE COULD ALSO WORK WELL, EVEN THINK ABOUT PARTNERING WITH A LOCAL CHINESE PRIVATE SHOPPING CONCIERGE / GUIDE.

Top Ideas to grow Hotel Ancillary Revenue

Xotels · 9 July 2018
Start Upselling from Today and Maximize the Revenue of your PropertyOver the last weeks, we have been racking our brain and plowing through hotel websites to gather best practices for upselling and generating ancillary revenues in hotels. We have looked at our own portfolio, and outside to come up with a list of amazing tips.Whatever the size of your property, the potential of ancillary revenue is big and the options to get it can be very creative ...WHAT ANCILLARY REVENUE OPPORTUNITIES EXIST IN HOTELS?Your hotel has high occupancy, the reviews of your resort are good, or your want to increase the average income of your hotel or resort. This is the moment when you ask yourself "What is next?" Annual industry reports say that ancillary sales will account for more than 18% of a 'tourism business' total revenues. Want your piece of the pie?There are 4 different ways to use ancillary revenue opportunities and start with a total revenue management strategy:1o CREATE PACKAGES:Bundle ancillaries (add-on services) with higher category room types. This option is known as "Themed Packages", and is all about selling an experience. You can call them romance, adventure or family packages.Be aware that some guests look for the entire travel experience, but others prefer to organize flights and hotels first ... and think about activities after. Address both:- Offer themed packages on your web so they can choose it during the booking- A week after a room booking is completed, send an email to the guests offering the activity (with a nice picture and the price), and upsell to them...Do not limit yourself: if you do not have facilities for activities, partner with local third parties. We talked about this as well in our last article about what hotels can learn from AirBnb.Examples on How to apply this Ancillary Revenue idea to ResortsYou have a nice hotel or resort in a beautiful location, congratulations! Some guests will choose your location and will find you, but you can do much better...Use your surrounding to sell a broader experience, that goes beyond your hotel. Add a pack of activities in the form of a package and find one key activity related to each target customer market (young adventurers, couples, seniors). Two awesome examples:Spa:Did you know, you don't even need to have a spa to actually position / market your property as a Spa Hotel? Look at Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra in San Sebastian, for instance. Here we have partnered with the high-end La Perla Spa and created a wonderful package.Romantic EscapeIt is one of the most looked for searches on Google for your destination. So why not offer it on your website? You can do a simple champagne and chocolate offer, or build a more extensive romantic package with a dinner for 2 in an exclusive location or restaurant. You can let your imagination do the work.Golf & SportsA popular sport, with dedicated travelers. Again, there is no need to be on or next to the golf course. Build a package together with the local golf course.And what other activities can we target just as golf? Hiking, diving, cycling, kite-surfing, paddling, kayak, and many more ...Other packages that come to mind: culinary, family activities, cultural, city tour, weekend break, etc2o TARGET A CLIENT NICHE MARKETChoose a niche client market and be the best there. To properly cover the niche you will have to adapt your property and your communication. The good part of this strategy is that you can, and should, offer related services to improve the experience and your guests (and charge them for it...)Dog Friendly HotelPet owners are known for being very generous with their furry friends. But the hospitality industry is slow in getting adapted to cover their needs. Not just in terms of accepting pets at hotels, but also for offering special products for them. So we have put some ideas together for you: - Offer a pet friendly room rate that includes an extra mini bed for the dog and a pack of plastics bags, a toy and some dry food - Have a little shop with products that the pet owners might need during the stay - Partner with a veterinary, so you can easily offer it in case is needed - Propose services such as dog walking, dog washing, dog daycare, so guests can go to touristic activities while their dog is enjoying too!Family & Kid FriendlyDo you have Family Rooms in your hotel? How will families find your hotel when searching on Google ... a fair question to ask, if you want them to stay at your hotel, right?Family vacations are expensive, and a cool family friendly hotel is the perfect option. But is your hotel truly kid friendly? What activities inhouse and outside do you offer?Some ideas to ponder on ... - Nursing and childcare service, to help parents to rest some hours a day and enjoy the city by themselves. - Early check in and late check out, so they can easily adapt logistics to the schedule of the children. - Propose a daily schedule of paid activities for children at various ages in the city and the nature...and adult activities at the same time. - Sell nice but simple and healthy packed lunch to take out, for a day on the town. - Offer family rooms to keep their spent low and also to make easy the night care of the little kids.PrecruiseIf you are planning to go on a cruise from Barcelona and want to leave your car at the city, Hotel Grums offers the possibility.3o GET ROI FROM UNDERUTILIZED AREASTrue, every refurbishment requires money spent but...Have you ever calculated the ROI of any of the actions below?- Call to advertising agencies and startup incubators to offer them your garden for their events, do it for free the first time, make stunning pictures and get awesome reviews ... and after you can start charging for it.- Are your meeting rooms being used all the time? Could they be used as a space for for photographers to do a photoshoot? Or as a space for companies to conduct interviews, recruiting staff?You could potentially also turn it into a co-working space ... it all comes down to math. The trick is to make the spaces as polivalent as possible, and not just for banquets or weddings ...4o CREATING A COMPETITIVE EDGEOTA and Meta-Search are still very focussed on selling rooms. So it is up to you to make your hotel stand out, and add experience to the mix.The key to succeed is to be an expert on your customer profile and to clearly define which product or service could be interesting for each stage of the customer journey, because if you do it on this way the offer will be seen as a valuable proposal instead of a sales opportunity.- Offer some low cost service during the booking process:Stand out from your competitors with a pick up on the airport or a free parking spot. What surprises me the most is the big number of properties that are including this service already but do not highlight it during the booking process!Inspiration and planning during and after the booking:Offer activities for guests who need inspiration and for the ones that think about activities days after the hotel reservation is done. Zoku Hotel sends an email with upgrade offers and San Nicolas Hotel in Belgium offers a delicious chocolate tour on their web.Offer paid activities during the stay too. Your front desk can mention it to the guests at the arrival. It could be cooking classes of local recipes on rainy days... or yoga lessons at your lovely rooftop.Partner with local artists and decorate your hotel with pieces of art available to buy. See an example of the Omni Hotel in Dallas that is exhibiting more than 7000 artworks at common areas and at guestrooms.Send promotions for a second stay, and special offers to guests after their departure.MORE TIPS TO GENERATE EXTRA REVENUESPOSITION YOUR RESTAURANT TO NON-GUESTS:Promote it by building an independent website for the restaurant or the spa. One of our customers, Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra in San Sebastian, has a great Basque Restaurant, which page is on the top menu of the Hotel web and also redirects to the own web of the restaurant. By having a separate identity, you will attract more people from outside...OFFER EARLY CHECK IN AND LATE CHECK OUT:Think about your customers, are they business people or leisure travelers?- Business people usually flight very early or very late, to be able to work during office time. And they value easy and fast logistics ...- Leisure travellers spending a single weekend, might be glad to have a nice offer to extend the check out on sunday and enjoy the day before going to the airport. Include this offer on your confirmation email.Extra tip: Offer room service directly to all guests who have requested early check in or late check out...because restaurants will be closed at very early o very late hours, right?SELL EXPERIENCES, NOT JUST ROOMS:Our hotel hotel Es Moli, located in the beautiful Mallorca, with access to a private cove...offers a private sailing sunset experience.SELL MERCHANDISINGHotels could replicate the same strategy than museums. Have you heard that your guests love your pillows? Put a logo, a slogan, and sell them. Do your offer coffee to take away? Sell travel coffee mugs. But please do not go cheap, if you are stamping your logo the quality of the product should be awesome. The Pantone Hotel is frequently visited by fans of the brand, they use their own mugs on the room service and sell them at the hotel store ( and online also...)CAKE AND FLOWERS FOR YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDSThe Townhouse Hotel Maastricht member of LBG, you can buy a delicious local Maastricht flan pie to take home. You can enjoy it with family and friends talking about you visit to this beautiful town and fun hotel. When they were selling 30 to 40 cakes a weekend and generating an annual profit of EUR11.000, they decided to extend the idea to week days too.MOTORBIKES TO RENTMove beyond bike rentals...You can buy 2 or 3 motos and rent them rent per hours and days, or make an agreement with a local company. Make sure you invest on cool models, so your visitors cannot resist to instagram their pictures....with your logo on them. Find some ideas:- TO PROPERLY MEASURE ANCILLARY REVENUESo which ancillary revenues are more profitable? And which are most popular? I have talked with upselling companies and they all agree that the most requested ancillary services are, sorted:- Early check in and late check out- Wifi- Breakfast- Dinner- Champagne- Chocolate - ToursAnd It is interesting also to have a look to the evolution of the different ancillary revenue stream on the last years:Graphic representing the evolution on Ancillary Revenue Streams from 2014 to 2017. (Source: Eye for Travel)Let's talk now about how are revenue managers measuring how profitable is each ancillary service. I read a report online stating that 71% of revenue managers feel that they do not have the tools to properly measure ancillary revenue...We face this challenge because ancillary revenue tends to be measured on a holistic way, assuming that the spent on ancillary comes just from guests of the hotel or resort. But on the examples above, we have seen that a service such a restaurant, a diving activity or golf course can also bring customers that just pay for the activity, and that could also become into guests of the hotel because of it. All these scenarios should be measured separately.The main KPI to measure the ancillary revenue spend is Total Revenue Per Available Room (TRevPAR) but the only way to have a proper indication, is to compare it as an index with the RevPAR. GOPPAR also provides good insight, as it gives a more complete view of the entire business and the cost of sales.CONCLUSION: THE FINAL WORDTracking and managing ancillary revenue is much more than a trend in hotel revenue management. There are clear strategic opportunities to use it in hotels, hostels and resorts.As revenue managers and hotel managers, we have large and proven experience on how to use it, as an income source or to increase the occupancy on low season. Which strategy have you tested? Which example did you like the most? Let me know it on the comments.Are you getting your piece of the pie?Cheers,

What should Hotels Learn and Copy from AirBnB

Xotels ·22 May 2018
The hotel industry generally suffers from a victim mentality. AirBnB is the big bad wolf that is not playing according to our rules. Them and other sharing economy business models are bringing damage to our hotels, and it isn't happening in a fair way. But let's turn the game around and find out what we can learn from them to become better at our own business, hotel management, a.k.a. hospitality ... Let's have a look at their strategies to find some disruptive ideas and see how we can apply them in our hotels. Ready?Innovative Strategies for Hotels in the Sharing Economy Age1.USE OF EXPERIENTIAL HOSPITALITYThe city is the experience itself and Airbnb helps their guests to live it. Experiential travel trumps convenience. So, Airbnb rentals not only offer a place to rest but also unforgettable experiences during the stay. How? They bought the company Trip4real, so their guests can directly book experiences during the stay with local people. Conclusion: it is not just about the stay anymore, it is about the offered value of the entire stay.HOW CAN HOTEL MANAGERS APPLY THIS INITIATIVE AT THEIR HOTELS?Work with sharing economy platforms or with freelance local tour guides and offer your guests themed walking tours of your city. Check out these even further by recommending your guests to join events on one the following sites during their stay for a real local experience:www.EatWith.comwww.meetup.comwww.mealsharing.comYour Host (reception) team should become local social concierges. They should network with locals and get to know the best of the best, and know what is on in town besides the big events. They can even organize MeetUp events with locals in your hotel to stimulate more interaction.2. MAKE THEM FEEL HOME AT YOUR HOTELSome guests choose AirBnB it because staying at an apartment makes them feel home. Have a look to the facilities of their apartments and figure it out what do they value: access to a kitchen, a living room to relax, a laundry... Hoteliers can offer this too, one idea is to create a new rate including some of these services.. and see what happens. Do you have business travellers that come to your hotel on a regular basis? Test it with them! You can have great ROI from very little investment.HOW CAN HOTEL MANAGERS APPLY THIS INITIATIVE AT THEIR HOTELS?Gift them cozy slippers to be used on the facilities. Note they need to be nice ones, they can take home as a souvenir, (so not the standard white hotel edition).Have an open area with some free drinks snacks opened 24h so they will have something to eat at any time.Organize a daily free aperitif with some wine and something to nibble on. This works magic for your guest review scores by the way.Have free books that they can read during their stay and take with them when they leaveOffer free laundry service for a limited weight.Create a package around the above options to present it well on your website.3. BE HUMAN THROUGH TECHLet's look at the way they interact with their guests before, during and after their stay. AirBnB is killing it, compared to hotels in service level.There is an efficient chat mechanism. Actually it's more like email, but it poses as chat, to make it feel more personal. Guests can contact hosts for any question on the facilities, location etc. And the host can make recommendations and provide personalized add-on service throughout.What upsets me, is that in the hotel industry we have become lazy. Our website is a gatekeeper. It is a barrier that replaced the phone. It allows us not to have to talk to travelers who might be interested to stay with us, or even guests who booked that might, that have some questions.No mind you, most hoteliers don't want to talk to prospective guests. We have a website, all information is on there. Please look it up yourself, and we will even give you a discount if you book online on our website.We have to admit AirBnb has smartly noted hotels have missed the boat on how to best use new technology and smartly played into this humanizing the booking process with a more personal human touch.So let's use all those resources we have our hotels to provide amazing pre-stay and post-stay service, and show travelers how much better we are at this game than AirBnB hosts.Yes, hoteliers should also communicate and answer questions or concerns and quickly reply or make adjustments, which ultimately builds trust, repeat customers, ...and more (direct) hotel bookings!HOW CAN HOTEL MANAGERS APPLY THIS INITIATIVE AT THEIR HOTELS?Implement a live chat to answer questions on the spot while potential customers are using your website. They will see that there is a real person behind, looking forward to welcome them. It is a preview of what to expect when staying at your hotel. So a moment to shine.Contact with your guests before their arrival, as a human host would do, you can propose them some local activities during their stay or just to ask if they have some special requirement. Use an automated email campaign and after you just have to interact with the ones interested!Do follow-up calls to guests prior to their stay to upsell them. This comes across very personal, and is perceived as additional service. Based on certain criteria you can define on what to offer. I.e. if they are in a drive radius, offer them parking, and explain space is limited, and you want to make sure your guests are taken care off. There are a million things you can think off4. UNIQUENESS AND DESIGN PERSPECTIVEWe have all seen that AirBnB is now open for hotels to advertise their rooms at their platform. The idea behind is that some hotels can offer added value in comparison with the apartments. Basically, They just want hotels that have two characteristics in special: the uniqueness of their space, and cool open areas with common spaces that motivate socialization among guests.HOW CAN HOTEL MANAGERS APPLY THIS INITIATIVE AT THEIR HOTELS?Build common areas, with a unique design concept. Make sure it is also accessible and welcoming to locals, so your guests can interact with the community.Co-working spaces are very popular as well to integrate into hotels mixing travelers with locals.5. DECENTRALIZATION & SUSTAINABLE TOURISMControversial topic that always jumps into the table when we talk about AirBnB. It is a fact that Tourism has caused congestion at some areas of the cities and this deteriorates the quality of live of the residents. AirBnB says that they are moving guests to areas of cities outside of the city centre because they have apartments all around the city area..Also lately, AirBnB has published an statement talking about how sustainable tourism benefits to all the stakeholders guests, hosts and cities, and have developed their business taking this mindset into account. And for this reason they want their hosts to be sustainable and to implement green practices. Great but...what can we do?HOW CAN HOTEL MANAGERS APPLY THIS INITIATIVE AT THEIR HOTELS?Build your hotel at a new and trendy neighborhood. Be a pioneer and position yourself as the place to enjoy the city out of the crowd, and you will kill it with the travellers who want to spend a few days living as locals.Install a green energy system onsite of water conservation and use of renewable energy.Use green and recycled, organic, fair trade products on the hotel facilities and rooms.Choose and promote local suppliers for the the food of your restaurant, the sheets and towels of the room, hire local designers to develop an unique lodging concept.THE FINAL WORDAirBnB has taken a piece of the cake by offering a disruptive product, and their growth in few years means that they know what the travellers want. As hotel managers, we need to adapt our offer to satisfy these needs. So..Why limitate ourselves to use them as a new booking channel? Let's steal some strategies from their success and be disruptive, try, experiment!

What should Hotels Learn and Copy from AirBnB

Xotels Blog·21 May 2018
The hotel industry generally suffers from a victim mentality. AirBnB is the big bad wolf that is not playing according to our rules. Them and other sharing economy business models are bringing damage to our hotels, and it isn't happening in a fair way.

10 Tips for Hotels to Penetrate the Chinese Market

Xotels Blog·10 May 2018
With around $300 billion spent every year overseas, Chinese market is incredibly tempting for hotels, but it's probably the hardest one to penetrate as well. We are always looking to develop our revenue management and distribution strategies for new opportunities. Talking with some of the experts in the market we have put together a top 10 list of tips and best practices to make your hotel ‘chinese friendly’ and attract this massive growing market segment.

2018 Checklist for Hotels and Resorts

Xotels · 4 May 2018
Case Studies for Hotels & Resorts:REVENUE MANAGEMENT CASE STUDY 1: HOTEL QBIC AMSTERDAM WTC1. PROFILE OF THE HOTEL:Modern Budget city property with very high occupancy (94%-95% every year.) The hotel is located in the business district called the South Acis, inside the World Trade Center. It is a real hub in the city. The property has a podstyle hotel with cool and functional design, located inside an office building.2. THE REVENUE MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES:Xotels has been running this property since 2010. After 8 years of successful performance the revenue management challenge of this hotel case study is to keep growing the generated revenue. And with occupancies always in the mid 90%, ARR increase is the only way to go ... Ah, yeah, and of course to replace OTA business with Direct bookings.3. REVENUE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES PROPOSED AND IMPLEMENTED BY XOTELS: Better inventory management:Revising room-type supplementsOverbooking room-types strategically in low demand periodsRestrictions on OTAs on MLOS and room categories on high demand periodsInventory micro-management to optimize conversion on stay through availabilityGroup quotations:Increasing conversion levels for low / mid demand periods with competitive offersDriving ARR for high demand periodsWebsite growth techniques:Trademark protectionMeta-search with a strategic selective approach, favoring high value stays over blanket volume biddingConversion stimulation via persuasive pop-upsSubscription based discount and promotional codes prominently positioned on websitePost stay emailing to gain loyalty and improve reputation scoreFocus on Best Price Guarantee on website and in Booking funnelFixed corporate rates to used to drive demand on low seasonYield opportunities, driving ADR on weekends and special events with a longer lead timeDeeper and better analysis of segmentation and booking pace, micro managing yielding for a 13 month window4. THE RESULTS: REVENUE MANAGEMENT KPI'S TO MEASURE THE SUCCESS OF THE HOTELAfter having this hotel at our Revenue Management portfolio for many years, and as result of the revenue management strategies implemented, the KPI'S are as follows:RevPar: 30% increase on the last 3 yearsNet RevPar: 32.3% increase on the last 3 yearsREVENUE MANAGEMENT CASE STUDY 2: SAN DOMENICO PALACE HOTEL *****1. PROFILE OF THE HOTEL:A 5 star Leading Hotel of the World, set in an ancient Dominican monastery on the cliffs of Taormina, Sicily. The prestigious and luxury hotel features a 2 star Michelin restaurant and attracts a note worthy high end clientele. The G7 was also hosted by the hotel this year.2. THE REVENUE MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES:Xotels started running strategies for this seasonal property as of January 2017. The hotel was suffering over-production of lower priced segments and distribution partners.3. REVENUE MANAGEMENT ACTIONS PROPOSED AND IMPLEMENTED BY XOTELS:Strategic restrictions across selected distribution channels:Limiting production of lower rated tour operator contractsFreeing up inventory across all room categories to sell via premium travel agentsChanging price positioning from a seasonal approach to a daily yield gridRepricing of room supplements, based on daily demand patterns (dynamic supplements)Micro-management of inventory:Managing room type availability at a per segment and per channel basis, based on daily revenue potentialOpening up lower room types to a wider distribution spectrumUsing room type availability management as a dynamic yield tool over simply selling physical room product4. THE RESULTS: REVENUE MANAGEMENT KPI'S TO MEASURE THE SUCCESS OF THE HOTELThe results we achieved at this resort hotel speak for itself:Average Daily Rate, ADR, increase of 24%RevPar increase of 40% year on year (2017 vs 2016)REVENUE MANAGEMENT CASE STUDY 3: HOTEL GRUMS BARCELONA1. PROFILE OF THE HOTEL:Modern 78 room Boutique hotel in Barcelona, at a central location near the old port and cruise terminal. Guests say in their reviews this hotel has some of the best beds in Barcelona to sleep in!2. THE REVENUE MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES:When we took the revenue management of this hotel in 2013 the hotel was positioned as another generic hotel with no clear differentiation versus the multitude of competitors in the market. The property had been commoditized by 3rd party distribution channels.3. REVENUE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES PROPOSED AND IMPLEMENTED BY XOTELS:Defining a more clear positioning of the values of the hotel:The hotel was positioned as an independent boutique hotelA focus was added incorporating the guest review feedback about the amazing bedsResegmenting room types:Creating categories that offer a clear value propositionA multitude of room types with small supplements allowing for easy self-upselling by guestsCreating yield levers beyond rate managementTargeting different client niche target markets:Launching several dedicated SEO landing pages on the hotel website, targeting different client profilesPersonalizing room product descriptions to match the needs of the various target marketsWebsite growth techniques:Trademark protectionMeta-search with a strategic selective approach, favoring high value stays over blanket volume biddingConversion stimulation via persuasive pop-upsSubscription based discount and promotional codes prominently positioned on websitePost stay emails to increase loyalty and online reputationFocus on Best Price Guarantee on website and in Booking funnelDifferentiated yield and distribution strategy:Uncoupling supplements of room types of single / double occupancy from higher occupancy room typesAnalyzing lead time per room category and adjusting pricing strategy individuallyDiscrimination of 3rd party channels favoring direct sales over high demand periods, by differentiating room type availability and MLOS restrictionsClose monitoring of competitor activity, identifying their strategic weaknesses and taking advantage4. THE RESULTS: REVENUE MANAGEMENT KPI'S TO MEASURE THE SUCCESS OF THE HOTELAgain I am excited to share the results with you:2016: +10% RevPar increase 2016 versus 20152017: in May, June and August 2017 the revenue was 25% higher that in 2016(unfortunately politics in Barcelona has put the market under pressure since then, but we are holding a top spot in RGI performance)REVENUE MANAGEMENT CASE STUDY 4: ES MOLI1. PROFILE OF THE RESORT:A luxury 4 star summer resort hotel, located on the cliffs of Tramuntana coast of Mallorca, in the picturesque village of Deia. The rooms of this boutique resort offer amazing views over the crystal blue water of the Mediterranean sea.2. THE REVENUE MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES:This property used to sell the resort hotel via traditional tour operators mainly. And clientele target market was limited to an older age group from only a few countries .3. REVENUE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES PROPOSED AND IMPLEMENTED BY XOTELS:Expand global distribution reach:By adding a broader mix of distribution channels, both online and offline, a wider range of target markets could be reachedPre and post season promotional campaigns were used to expand brand exposureRevamping of pricing grids:A fully dynamic rate strategy was implemented, moving away from a seasonal structureRates were now manage fully flexible on a daily basis based on demand curves, pace and revenue potentialRoom categories readjustment:Producing a clear value propositionCreating additional yield leverage toolsInventory micro management:Artificially yielding on tour operator fix contract pricing through room type availability managementRoom type availability discrimination on 3rd party channels to stimulate direct salesWebsite growth techniques:Trademark protectionMeta-search with a strategic selective approach, favoring high value stays over blanket volume biddingConversion stimulation via persuasive pop-upsSubscription based discount and promotional codes prominently positioned on websitePost stay emails to increase loyalty and online reputationFocus on Best Price Guarantee on website and in Booking funnel4. THE RESULTS: REVENUE MANAGEMENT KPI'S TO MEASURE THE SUCCESS OF THE HOTELYes, it works like a charm the best practices we have developed for seasonal resort hotels. Just check out these results:Since 2010 the occupancy has been increased +23%, the ARR +27%, and the revenue +93%, meaning +1.973.213EURProfitability increased with even higher % due to a shift in segment production. Take a look at the change in business mix from 2010 versus 2017: - 2010: Direct 41%, Online 9%, TTOO 50% - 2017: Direct 48%, Online 32%, TOO 17%, Travel Agencies 1% Groups 2%The final wordIt is always exciting to see the results we are achieving in our hotels. Even for after 12 years it remains a fun challenge identifying the revenue potential and turning a property around.I hope these case studies provide you with a checklist on revenue management and online marketing action steps to implement. And if you need some more marketing tips, check out our hotel marketing plan.To find your opportunity for growth, you have to take a step back and look at your business objectively without any preconceptions. Once you have identified weaknesses, it takes rolling up sleeves and getting into the details. A methodical and structured approach is key.And remember, no matter how good your financial performance is already... there is always room for improvement.Cheers,Patrick Landman @ XotelsPS: or you could consider bringing in our team of experts of course ...

2018 Revenue Management Checklist

Xotels Blog·24 April 2018
OK, so last year we sold 1.836.117 rooms at Xotels. Not bad. To be honest I am even impressed by these kind of numbers myself. But how did our team of hotel strategy experts maximize revenue and profit for these? We have put together 4 revenue management and marketing case studies, highlighting our best practices and proven techniques.

Protect your hotel brand from brandjacking

Xotels ·20 April 2018
So how do we deal with this in our Revenue Management strategy?Take a look at the Google Search for this hotel below. Whos is first? Is this what we want as hotels?HOTELS: CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD?According to a recent study by MarkMonitor, the economic damage of Affiliate Brand Bidding in travel is estimated to be around 2.2 Billion USD because, while in almost any other industry companies are prevented from using this questionable strategy by the legitimate trademark owners, it is (unfortunately) common practice in our business. Online Goliaths such as and Expedia, in fact, are not particularly worried about systematically hijacking hotels' brands by redirecting traffic to their websites. Because of the almost-non-existent bargaining power that hoteliers have towards their distribution channels, in fact, it is no surprise that one of the many clauses of contacts gives the famous OTA (and its subsidiaries) complete freedom to bid on the name of your property. Did you know that?HOW CAN HOTELS PROTECT THEMSELVESRenegotiating contractual clauses with OTAs and other distributors, therefore, would obviously the best way to go, even though it is, unfortunately, the most impervious. Another, more expensive but less complicated, solution is to bid on your hotel brand, using your official website as the landing page for the traffic generated by these campaigns (technically, this practice is known as brand protection).A third, less known but extremely effective, method is to file a complaint with Google for trademark infringement. Let's take a closer look.YOU JUST GOT LITT UP!The prerequisite for submitting this complaint is to apply for a trade mark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) based in Alicante, Spain at this link: type of mark hotels should apply for is the word mark. This step is extremely important, because figurative marks (logos) are not taken into consideration by Google's trademarks infringement team. The EUIPO website provides a simple step by step application form, where hotels can create and submit their application in less than ten minutes. It is crucial to know, anyhow, that one in five applications is opposed. So if you are concerned about conflicting trademarks, seeking legal advice is highly suggested. The mark is valid for ten years and it has a cost of 850,00 EUR, that should be paid in advance. A short video tutorial can be found here:'S TIME TO COMPLAIN!Only when the trademark is registered one can finally file the complaint with Google at this link: complaint can be filed by the trademark owner or by third parties (consulting agencies, lawyers, advertising companies, etc.). In the latter case, the trademark owner must send written authorization , confirming that the third party is authorized to act on his/her behalf.WHAT YOU CAN ACHIEVEWhat next? Unfortunately, in recent years the legislative attitude towards Google advertisers has become more and more permissive. Just up until a few years ago, in fact, it was possible to ask for trademark protection at keyword level but, since 2010, it is no longer possible to prevent an OTA (or a review site, or a metasearch engine, etc.) from bidding on trademarked keywords. But not all hope is lost, on the contrary! Hotels can still protect their brands at Ad level: yes, OTAs can appear when a user searches for the hotel brand, but they can not use the hotel brand in the ad text (even though it may still appear in the display URL).For ad campaigns targeting the EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) regions, the policy for trademarks in ad text applies, while no protection is possible for ad campaigns targeting Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, UK, and Ireland. In these countries, in fact, AdWords advertising campaigns can include the hotel trademark in the ad text, hence the inutility to register one's trademark worldwide.NOT ONLY GOOGLE: THE OTHER SEARCH ENGINESWhat about other search engines? Bing has a similar approach and hotels can file a complaint through its online form here:, the main Russian search engine, is unfortunately much more permissive, asserting that Russian laws are "designed to encourage competition and freedom of economic activities".Completely different is the approach of Baidu: in order to advertise on the Chinese search engine, in fact, one needs a special authorization issued by the People's Republic of China.THE QUALITY SCORESo, is it really worth applying for a trademark? Yes, it is. By preventing the use of one's trademark in the ad, in fact, OTAs quality score in Google Adwords drops, forcing et similia to bid more just to keep the same position on the SERPs or, if the quality score gets too low, preventing them to show the ad tout court. Google quality score, in fact, ranges from 1 to 10 and is an estimate of the quality of the ads and of the landing pages triggered by that specific keyword. A high-quality score indicates that Google believes that the ad (and its landing page) is relevant and useful to the end user and vice-versa.CONCLUSIONSApplying for a trademark is, especially if combined with a solid SEA strategy, the most effective way to regain control of one's brand. And, according to Benjamin Sebagh, Technical Director at Creative Hackers, "Your Brand is your more precious asset". And you don't want it to end up on the wrong hands. Do you?I think it is time Hotel marketing and revenue managers take charge of this issue. Trust me your web production goes up more than 10% if you control this well .... So nothing should be stopping you ...Cheers,Patrick LandmanP.S. for more tips, check out Hotel Marketing Plan

Secrets of Revenue Management: Protect your hotel brand from brandjacking

Xotels Blog· 4 April 2018
The neologism brandjacking was coined over a decade ago, by astutely combining the words branding and hijacking. In our industry, when we talk about brandjacking, we usually refer to all those activities whose lowest common denominator is the exploitation of another company brand's equity, such as the creation of fake social network profiles or mirror-websites. The most frequent use of brandjacking is, however, is the one that goes under the name of Affiliate Brand Bidding. This mischievous tactic consists in investing in search engines advertising campaigns and bidding on terms that are related targeted company. Ever googled your hotel’s name and found, Expedia, trivago and TripAdvisor before your official website? Well, that’s ABB.
Article by Patrick Landman

5 Common Mistakes in Hotel Revenue Management

Xotels · 7 March 2018
Unfortunately, making just one wrong move can prove detrimental to your top and bottom line results. You could easily suffer less-than-stellar KPIs and lackluster market performance.Here are several common mistakes we have noticed in hotels, to help avoid losing revenue potential in your hotel:1. DON'T IGNORE TIMEIt is imperative to understand your target segment typical booking window when rolling out an offer. Failure to do so won't help produce your desired revenue results and may even cause a complete flop of a promotional campaign. Missing out on key booking windows, even by as little as one day, is a catastrophic mistake and can be avoided by taking advantage of dashboard and reporting features in revenue management software.Timing is not the only thing that is essential here.Our team more than anyone else is focussed on 'speed to market'. Time is of the essence. We aim to be more dynamic and work faster (more output) than our competitor hotels. Slow implementation times are costing money. Dynamics is what can get you ahead.Make sure you also pick and choose actions that actually generate revenue. A lot of time can be spend on many topics. The question is however how much does it bring in return to the bottom line. Unfortunately in many hotels a lot of time is spent on meetings, actions and promotions that don't generate revenue. So measure what works, and ditch what doesn't.Efficiency and effectiveness should not be underestimated.2. FOCUS ON THE WRONG METRICSWe agree on the importance of the Room Occupancy, of the understanding the business demand, and the need of to tracking on the pricing of the competitors, but the key for success on Revenue Management is on analyzing the ADR (average daily room rate) while improving the occupancy.Too much focus on only Occupancy or ARR (average room rate), could erode the business.In the end the bottom line is what counts. So a Revenue Manager should always be tracking the impact on the NRevPar(Net RevPar) or GOPPar (gross operating profit per available room).3. BEING AFRAID OF CHANGEFailure to change rates can prove to be a major revenue losing mistakes made by hotels. Static rates prevent you from reaching your full revenue potential. Instead, rates should be changed often to reflect supply and demand in order to maintain a steady pace of bookings. Extraordinary high demand can throw an additional level of complexity into pricing decisions.Understanding that extra demand is not necessarily going to be on top of your typical business demand is essential.Haphazard pricing is also a common downfall for managers. By merely relying on a "gut feel" with no analytics behind your decision, you are only increasing your chance of making mistakes as well as missing out on other revenue-increasing opportunities.4. NOT UTILIZING TECHNOLOGYHotel managers often fail to measure the impact of pricing strategy, something that can be easily achieved with the correct revenue technology and software. Revenue management software help you make data-driven decisions by providing vital information such as the booking history and details of rate discounts. With these solutions, managers can ensure they are maximizing revenue while still offering competitive and attractive rates for guests.Trust me when I say, the machine can help you uncover things you might not notice yourself that easily ...5. FEARING THE OTASUnderstanding booking patterns must also include gathering data from OTAs. While they may have been dreaded and feared by the hospitality industry at first, third party booking sites' popularity gives hotel managers no choice other than to embrace them.You have to use them to your advantage, as distribution channels. This means that you do not simply jump on the bandwagon with any promotion or feature they are trying to sell you (background article). But rather you pick and choose what coincides with the strategy you have laid out for your hotel.As rule of thumb, make sure that you control your inventory and prices across all channels. You should not offer lower rates on more expensive 3rd party channels, than your own direct website.Leverage OTA for global distribution and future demand trends, and stay in control!The final word: lessons learnt on your hotel revenue management strategyWhile it was a prosperous year for many in 2017, it's also important to realize that success doesn't come without continuous evaluation and data analysis. Hotel managers should utilize data, trends and technologies to their advantage, ensuring positive revenue results and business success for their hospitality business.Using the right revenue management tactics and avoiding the above mistakes, will make your hotel revenue management strategy more successful.Hope this has been helpful!Cheers,Patrick LandmanPS. A quote we use in Xotels: "The difference between a good revenue manager and a great revenue manager. Good revenue managers enjoy thinking about high level theories, macro economic changes and general market trends that affect their properties. Great revenue managers know that the devil is in the details. Control over details allows you to understand your property performance inside out."

5 Common Mistakes in Hotel Revenue Management

Xotels Blog·28 February 2018
I have been in this hotel revenue management game for more than 2 decades now. And after all these years it still gets me anxious when I see hotels not performing at their full potential. So I have put together a list of 5 common mistakes made in revenue management in hotels, resorts and hostels. Unfortunately, making just one wrong move can prove detrimental to your top and bottom line results. You could easily suffer less-than-stellar KPIs and lackluster market performance. Here are several common mistakes we have noticed in hotels, to help avoid losing revenue potential in your hotel:
Article by Patrick Landman

Coolest Hotel Marketing Video of 2017

Xotels ·12 February 2018
Going through industry news articles this last week I came across a hotel marketing video that blew me away. You should really see this one, as we nominate it to be the best hotel marketing video of 2017. Going through industry news articles this last week I came across a hotel marketing video that blew me away. You should really see this one, as we nominate it to be the best hotel marketing video of 2017. Last we showed you the amazing creative video of la Siranuse: CLICK HEREWe have found a new contender for the coolest hotel marketing video for this year, 2017: A day in the life of Patrick Both, General Manager at the Anantara Siam in Bangkok. It is a great spin introducing the hotel manager with a flair of James Bond and George Clooney ... Credits to Benji Greenberg to spotting this one, see hotelsmag.comWhat are your favorite hotel marketing videos? Please share them with us below ...Cheers,Patrick Landman @ Xotels
Article by Patrick Landman

The Changing Role and Future of Revenue Management in the Hotel Industry in 5 Steps

Xotels · 7 February 2018
In this time, it has been overshadowed by other departmental functions within the industry, such as sales and marketing. Revenue managers, in comparison, have worked behind the scenes and tended to report to these departments.But not anymore.Hotel revenue management is moving front and centre of the overarching business model for many hotels, and this trend is only set to rise further. In this article, I discuss its changing role in the hotel industry and what we can expect to happen in the near future.1. Revenue management is levelling upWe have seen a growing trend of hotels elevating revenue management's role. Many now look to take advantage of analytical insight and strategic knowhow that uniquely come from revenue management.This insight and knowhow supports key business decision-making. Increasingly, revenue managers are sitting in on executive committees, equal in status and stature to the marketing and sales department heads.Many hotels no longer have a revenue manager but rather a director of revenue management, having upgraded the importance and weight of the role. No longer are they reporting into the DOSM. They have a straight line to the general manager.2. The role will continue to expandRevenue management undergoes constant change, more so than other departments. This is because it is rooted in technological capability. Technology will continue to evolve and more sophisticated methods of guest analysis will come to the fore, as revenue managers keep searching for ways of becoming more competitive.This constant change has contributed in large part to the expanding roles that today's hotel revenue manager is charged with carrying out. After all, it is through inventive marketing strategies that hotels can generate business. Ecommerce, social media, client engagement and relationship management have all become central to the revenue manager's job in order to drive business.Some additional roles include:Managing the hotel's online presence and reputationOverseeing website digital marketing strategiesCustomer communication and engagement initiativesTechnological development of the hotel services, facilities and proceduresIdentifying new markets and new opportunities within current marketsProduct evaluation, business development and capital investment recommendationsToday's successful revenue manager must wear many different hats. And it is exciting to see how this will evolve further with new technologies, customer trends and industry innovation.3. Total hotel revenue management will be unleashedThis is a concept that has been discussed for a few years, but it looks like it can really begin to take hold soon. Total hotel revenue management expands from a focus only on room rate revenue to encompass all other hotel revenue generators.These include the hotel restaurant, space rental, room service and leisure facilities. According to a recent study by Cornell University, 63 percent of revenue managers believe that the concept is on the verge of breakthrough.Can you imagine how important this will be for revenue management? Its development could make it the kingmaker department in the industry at large.4. Profit management will take centre stageThe elevation of revenue managers in importance to hotels comes down to one thing: they are uniquely positioned to help drive profits. The function is increasingly seen as profit generation rather than revenue management.Revenue managers are pivoting to a focus on increasing profit margins rather than on increasing revenue. The ideal is of course to do both. It's great to grow, but it's better to do so with higher profit KPI's.This focus on profits will sharpen in 2018 and beyond, as revenue management uses new methods to understand guests better and improve margins.5. Revenue managers will focus on guest analyticsThe hotel sector is probably more competitive than ever before. Hotels aren't only competing with their cross-town rivals, but inter-city and even international counterparts. Online travel agencies, the rise of hostels, and high guest demands make the industry even more competitive. So, hotels are turning to guest analytics; and new technology is making efficient analysis that produces unique, valuable insights possible.The final word: Get used to constant change'The only constant in business is change' is an old business maxim. But for revenue managers, it is particularly applicable. Let's look at just some of the recent changes to the role: adapting to the new guest expectancy of unique hotel experiences and nothing but the best service; the rise of technology-driven solutions; data analysis and use of communication channels to build relationships with guests long after they have checked out; and not least, the importance of mobile strategy to hotel success.These represent a lot of changes, but revenue managers must continue to adapt and anticipate future trends. The most thrilling thing of all is that most hotels still don't use a revenue management system, but they are catching on to the benefits that they are missing out on. This is great news, as revenue management is set to continue growing and to play an even more important role in driving the success of hotels.The key to the future is Business Acumen!Business acumen ("Business savvy" and "business sense" are often used as synonyms) is keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with a "business situation" (risks and opportunities) in a manner that is likely to lead to a good outcome.Cheers,

Record Performance for Independent Hotels in 2017

Xotels Blog·15 January 2018
Looking back at 2017, it was an incredible year for independent hotels. We have measured record performance levels at Xotels. Financial results based on strategic revenue management have never been higher.Looking back at 2017, it was an incredible year for independent hotels. We have measured record performance levels at Xotels. Financial results based on strategic revenue management have never been higher.

Best Hotel Marketing Video of 2017

Xotels Blog·30 November 2017
Going through industry news articles this last week I came across a hotel marketing video that blew me away. You should really see this one, as we nominate it to be the best hotel marketing video of 2017. Going through industry news articles this last week I came across a hotel marketing video that blew me away. You should really see this one, as we nominate it to be the best hotel marketing video of 2017.

Creating an Effective Revenue Management Strategy for Independent Hotels

Xotels · 1 November 2017
Independent and boutique hotels have the opportunity to capitalise on traveller appetite for unique experiences. Big hotel chains simply can't compete on this front. And your hotel is also able to completely differentiate itself from other independent hotels. Coupling this with the implementation of hotel revenue management best practices gives your hotel ample opportunity.Read our 10 hotel revenue management tips here to drive the success of your organisation:1. Focus on ValueIn a price-sensitivity sector, value and perceived value are king. It is important to differentiate the two: one, you need to provide the value to your guests that you say you will; and two, that value must be clear to potential guests when considering which hotel to book. It doesn't mean to undercut your competition at all. What a focus on value means is what the guest gets - where is the bang for their buck?You can bring value through outstanding customer service, food and beverage packages, free parking and so forth. Value-added extras that are unique to your hotel go a long way to making guest experience positive and memorable. This is the kind of value that leads to repeat stays and recommendations.2. Get your Distribution Channels RightAs an independent hotel, you may not have the marketing budget that many chain hotels have. For this reason, it is essential that you choose the distribution channels that will boost your revenue management strategy best. But how do you decide which channel is best for you?A number of factors are important. These include ease of channel management; their potential; the cost involved; marketing opportunity the channel provides; and not least, the technology it uses and its compatibility with your own property management system.3. Offer Direct Booking IncentivesBooking through external partners such as online travel agents is important, but direct bookings are the most desirable method of guest reservations. As a hotel revenue manager, you can implement measures to increase them in number.Direct bookings help create customer loyalty. You can encourage direct bookings by offering value-added incentives. These can include anything, from food and beverage discounts, reservation price reductions, discounts on future stays and so forth. The goal is to divert guests away from using hotel comparison sites, where they are more likely to choose a competitor. You can also promote a loyalty programme and drive the likelihood that guests recommend your hotel.4. Create a Culture of Perpetual Revenue Management ImprovementA culture of revenue management improvement creates focus and negates the threat of complacency. If a focus on hotel revenue management is pervasive through your organisation, it leads to awareness among all employees of its importance. This in turn leads to more thoughtful business decisions and behaviour, which ultimately help drive revenue.5. Maintain Organised Records of Key DataData is key to the evolution of your revenue management efforts. But the data must be pertinent. Some hotels collect a lot of extraneous data. This impedes rather than helps business decisions. Focus your hotel on the most essential - on quality over quantity, and on how it will be recorded and used.Not only will it be easier to store and interpret the data, but it will be faster and it will lead to more relevant insights. These insights will drive your entire revenue management approach.6. Always Keep up with Changing Consumer TrendsYour hotel must never lose sight of the importance of staying up to date with changing customer behaviour. This also plays an important role in supporting business decisions. You can do this through various means. For instance, a periodic review of the booking process will tell you if the channels through which customers make reservations change in any way, and of customer demographic trend movements and so forth.Monitor what guests say about your hotel online, on social media, blogs and hotel review websites. You must keep up with and respond to all online activity concerning your hotel, and involve the revenue management team. Knowing what customers are saying at any given time gives the revenue manager vital information that can assist decisions.7. Use Automation to Support, Not ReplaceAutomation has become omnipresent in modern revenue management. But, it is important to not fall into the trap of thinking that everything can be automated. It should be used to assist effective revenue management, which involves many complex decision-making processes that require human professionals.Automation is an excellent solution, particularly for time-consuming tasks such as data entry and reporting, but it is human capital that separates the best revenue management systems from the mediocre.8. Prioritise Website and Mobile ExperienceQuite simply, too many hotel websites are out of date or neglected. Considering the vast majority of guests make reservations online, it is paramount to have an updated, optimised website for computer, mobile and tablet. A professional website also requires periodic updates, taking into account technology updates, changing customer behaviour, design trends and security.An optimised website assists your search results. But you can also use it as a foundation for online marketing tactics including advertising via Google and social media as well as organic growth through your blog and social media accounts.9. Always Keep ROI in MindROI should be front and centre of a revenue management strategy. It underpins every choice made and helps the revenue manager evaluate the merit and potential benefit to the hotel of pursuing a given decision.With efficient use of KPI data, a focus on ROI also provides hotel management with greater insights during periodic hotel performance reviews. These insights shape the business direction of the hotel.10. Achieve Accurate Demand Forecasting and MappingForecasting hotel demand is essential to revenue management. Accurate forecasting informs the hotel of projected costs and needs, as well as expected revenues. But your hotel will also benefit from knowing where your demand originates. This is known as mapping.Through mapping, you can spot trends that tell you if demand is growing or declining from specific customer demographics - age, place of origin and so forth. Mapping can also reveal other vital information, including changes to type of reservation, average customer spend per age group and so forth. This can then support marketing and sales initiatives to increase future revenues.To implement these tips for successful hotel management, we recommend a comprehensive and large-scale review of your operations as a starting point. With these best practice tips, you will be well placed to increase efficiency and revenue across your hotel.Cheers,Patrick Landman @


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