The Online Property Tour - Is your website just a Billboard on the Information Superhighway?

By Douglas Aurand President, Douglas Aurand & Associates | January 27, 2012

The call to the Sales Department comes in, "Hello, I'd like some information about having a wedding reception for 200 people at your hotel." Now you have to convince the bride-to-be your hotel is "thee" place to hold her reception, before she asks you to mail her one of your banquet menu/info packages and moves on calling her list of your competitors for their banquet menu/info packages.

Or the other sales call, "This is James Black with the Really Big Corporation, we're looking for a place to hold our annual convention." Again, you've got seconds, maybe minutes, to make him decide you're the only choice, or at least get on his Top 10 list.

Of course your Reservationists have this challenge every day, like trying to upsell a suite to an anniversary couple, "What's the difference between your $85 suite and your $125 suite?" was the question in the famous "Think Strawberries" speech by James Lavenson of the Plaza Hotel, New York, NY. Can your reservationists do better than the "Forty Dollars" answer Lavenson got in 1975?

There wouldn't be a problem if you could magically transport one of your brochures over the telephone or if they were visiting your property. Sales or Reservations would just take them on a Property Tour. You'd show the bride-to-be (mother of the bride and maid of honor in tow) the Ballroom. The Convention Planner would get to see the Ballroom, BreakOut Rooms and Registration Area. Reservations would get room keys and show both of the suites, pointing out your gourmet dining room on the way to the elevators. Did I forget to mention the couple are planning a romantic dinner, too?

The good news is, it is possible to send your brochure over phone lines and take a potential customer on a long distance property tour. All it takes is a well-planned website and a Virtual Tour.

With 72% of Home Internet Users and even more Business Internet Users having Broadband*, talking on the phone and surfing the 'Net at the same time is becoming common. Many home offices that still have Dial-Up, often have a phone line that the computer and fax machine share in addition to the "voice line." The Sales Staff and Reservationists just need to learn the phrase "Can you get on the Internet while we're on the phone?" If the answer is "yes," just guide them to your website; "If you'll just type in the Address Field of your web browser and press Enter, you'll be on our website."

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.