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 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.