- 8th January 2020
The larger hotel chains have historically had the edge over owner-managed accommodation and family businesses in the battle for market share in the Swiss hotel industry. Here Guestline give three tips that will help independent hotels compete more effectively.
2018 was a record year for the Swiss hotel industry with 38.8 million overnight stays, according to the latest report by Horwath HTL and hotelleriesuisse. Never before have there been so many overnight stays with 4.5% more foreign guests than Swiss (+2.9%) guests staying in hotels. Hotel chains have the greatest market power - through aggressive marketing they secure more bookings at the expense of independent, owner-managed hotels.
However, owner-managed hotels certainly have the potential to stand out. They are usually more individual, focus heavily on providing a personalized service and are generally more hands-on. But the numbers have to be right, and that depends a lot on how the hotel stands out from the competition by becoming more visible, promoting direct bookings and retaining guests. And how is this achieved? With the right technology of course! Because when it comes to automation, family businesses are still lagging behind hotel chains. That can change with these tips:
1. Use the Channel Manager to automate rates distribution
The be-all and end-all of successful hotel operations is occupancy. The crux of high occupancy is rate management. If hotels make clever use of their rates, they can increase their revenues. In other words, it can be worthwhile for hoteliers to revise their pricing strategy and automatically reduce or increase rates depending on demand and availability. In the individual hotel industry, manual pricing, which is not infrequent, not only takes a long time, but is also costly. Trained employees are needed who have the appropriate market knowledge and are always keeping an eye on the rates of the competition and seasonal events. Hoteliers must know their guests exactly and know what they want: either a more expensive, but flexible rate or a cheap, fixed one.
This does not always necessarily require a highly paid revenue manager. The right software can help to optimize capacity utilization, for example a Channel Manager. Here you can preset when the rates should increase on which channels and for how many rooms. The Channel Manager automatically accesses availiblity from the PMS via a live two-way interface. In this way, hoteliers always know what their occupancy is and can determine where there is still room for improvement - or when there is a good opportunity for upselling.
2. Serve individual needs, increase direct bookings
To continue on the topic of upselling: The unique selling proposition of owner-managed hotels is usually that they are very individual and specialise in a very specific target group - be it skiers or wellbeing enthusiasts. It makes sense to optimize your own website for a feature that makes the hotel stand out and to address only a certain target group. For example, if the hotel is located high in the mountains, promote that you’re an "ideal hotel for skiers" on your website and focus completely on their needs. If the website is done well, this can increase sales and at the same time retain guests. A Guestline survey showed that direct bookings are 44 times less likely to be cancelled than bookings via OTAs.
But how can hoteliers improve their own website such a competitive marketplace? Hoteliers should focus on their own channel - their own internet booking engine with an interface to their PMS – and they should only integrate with partners that deliver the most profitable bookings, instead of connecting to multiple partners for fear of losing visibility. Additionally, hotels should focus on their own website, improve their SEO strategy and address the needs of the guest. Hotels make themselves particularly attractive if they offer guests the option of booking additional services at the same time - or if they use discounts to drive customer loyalty. Our e-book tells hoteliers exactly how to do this.
3. More guest time and personal service
If we have succeeded in attracting the desired target guests to the hotel, owner-managed hotels can triumph with their exceptional personal service. With the help of technologies that relieve the hoteliers of some of the workload through automation, hoteliers can use it to spend more time with guests and get to know them better. After all, who doesn't like to come back when the hotel owner gives good tips for excursions in the lobby or at the bar? This is where family businesses and owner-managed hotels can clearly stand out from hotel chains. Because with chains, guests can rely on recurring standards, but in the individual hotel business the real adventure awaits: pleasant surprises, personality, hospitality. But this requires technology that creates appropriate resources and complements the human touch.
Wengen Classic Hotels is a great example
So how do you upgrade your tech platforms without disrupting your operations? Bettina Zinnert from the Swiss Hotel group Wengen Classic Hotels explains:
"For two and a half years I searched all markets and exhibitions for the right cloud-based PMS and looked at every provider in the German-speaking world. Guestline was really the only system that fully convinced me and who I trust whole heartedly with my company. It works perfectly, the support is ingenious and the value for money is perfect".
Even if the search for the right technology partner sometimes takes a little longer: the investment is worthwhile. Because technology gives smaller hotels the opportunity to keep up with the big chains.