Control Issues: Taking Back Your Website

By Mike Kistner President, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman of the Board, Pegasus Solutions | May 08, 2011

The hotel industry is continuing its recovery with strong growth in both global hotel revenue and bookings, according to data we’re reporting in Pegasus Solutions’ monthly report, The Pegasus View. Driven by demand and assisted by rate growth, leisure hotel revenue jumped nearly +15% early this year over the same period in 2010. With growth in business and leisure bookings expected through mid-year, it’s more important than ever for hotels to maintain control of their websites in terms of the look (design and branding), the feel (booking process) and availability (mobile and metasearch).

Bookings to-date made online through the alternative distribution systems (ADS) show increases of more than +10% over 2010 through summer. Average daily rate (ADR) in this channel will continue a slow and steady climb, as look-to-book ratios, a product of online consumer comparisons and transaction processing inefficiency, continue to grow by over +40%.

Consumers will travel as much or more in the coming year, while a strong, but slightly smaller majority will also spend as much or more on travel than in 2010. They plan to spend, but spend wisely by shortening trips or aggressively shopping rates. Hotels would do well to examine their websites to ensure they don’t risk losing any of the business or revenue to be had from this discerning shopping audience.

The Look

The website design and online booking process is the experience your hotel sells at its virtual doorstep. Today’s travelers are savvy, shopping more extensively and deeper than ever before. They peruse metasearch sites, online guest reviews, Tweets, Facebook fan pages, and, most importantly, hotel websites before booking, which they’re still not guaranteed to do on your site. And, even if they’re not booking through your brand site, they’re still visiting it during the shopping process and the trip “sharing” process, especially through social media.

The question becomes how your brand and your website is going to intelligently capture online shoppers, and provide value in visiting and booking on your site as opposed to third-party sites. It’s not as simple as selling the plush beds and thread-count, but rather it’s about producing unique online content, distributing it across various online platforms and engaging with perspective, current and past guests.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.