Category: Operations

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Year End Review: Who’s Naughty or Nice?

The first part of this series discussed the sources of information for our year end review. In this post we'll look at ways you can "drill down" in the information you have to learn more about the year's performance. If you haven't been keeping records that will give you the information, we'll talk about how to get started keeping those records. We'll look at two different areas for our year end review. The first will be a look at bookings and revenue. The second, in the third installment in this series, will be website performance, referral sources, and the like. Year End Review of Bookings and Revenue [pullquote]There is gold to be mined in your guest records![/pullquote]Most (but, incredibly, not all) property management software or online booking systems will allow you to generate a report that will show the number of bookings you had over the past year, and the amount of revenue that represents. Fewer of them will allow either a direct comparison with the prior year, or at least allow you to run a second report for the prior year, so you can compare the figures manually. That's a good start, but there is so much more gold to be mined! Year End Review of Room Performance In essence, your guests are telling you, by their booking patterns, which rooms they prefer. Our objective is to see what they are telling us, and learn from it. So we'll begin by looking at the performance of individual rooms. Many PMS systems will provide a report of room performance, showing nights booked by room, revenue by room, and ADR (Average Daily Rate) by room. If yours gives this information, use it. Be sure you can compare it to prior years, as well. If your software doesn't do it, or if…

Year End Review: Making a List

Wouldn't it be nice to do a year end review of the year's bookings and see if there are areas that can be improved? As the calendar year draws to a close, our natural tendency is to take a look at how we did this year. But what will give you that information? Most of us will look at total revenue, total number of room nights sold, and perhaps one or two other statistics, and then hope we're on track and getting better. What else will help us measure our performance, and decide what changes could increase performance? In this post we'll talk about the sources of information we'll need. In our next post we'll talk about how to organize that information so we can evaluate not only our performance, but the performance of our paid directory listings and other paid advertising. Where Does the Information Come From? Our purpose is to review our annual performance in several areas, to see what changes might improve performance in coming years. Certainly knowing total revenue and number of rooms sold, compared to prior years, is helpful, but that hardly gives us any information to see how to improve. Information about bookings, revenue, etc. Ideally we would like all the information about our bookings and guest behavior for our year end review to come from the reports in our booking systems. As we've pointed out in our product reviews, the greatest weakness of most booking systems is their lack of adequate reporting. Even those few who do offer a reasonably good selection of reports may not have one that gives you exactly what you need. If you find that your booking system doesn't provide all the information you need in its reports, there are several steps to take: Determine how much of the…

You Call That Hospitality? Your House, Your Rules? Really?

Rules, rules rules. Our lives are filled with rules, and many of them are essential to an orderly civilization. Sometimes, though, it seems that even in a hospitality industry, innkeepers can become consumed with the idea that little signs (house rules) around the house can solve their problems. [pullquote]Rules, rules, rules! But I'm on vacation![/pullquote]Most of us have visited a B&B where there were little cards everywhere you turn. Each card has a rule on it. "Please don't use towels to remove makeup." "Please leave door locked." "Please turn off the lights." "Do not leave wet towels on the bed." "No coffee in guest rooms." "Private - Do not enter." How do all these house rules come across to the guest? Do they see these signs as informative, or as imposing a lot of rules on their freedom? As innkeepers we know that sometimes our guests, whether through carelessness, cluelessness, or crabbiness, cause problems. They soil linens, track dirt on the carpet, mark walls by banging their luggage into them, leave makeup stains on sheets, pillowcases and towels, spill wine or coffee, leave trash in the recycling and recyclables in the garbage. It almost seems as if they're trying to cause problems for the innkeepers. Almost. The natural response to these inconveniences and problems is to try to prevent them from occurring again. One way is to put up a sign or create a house rule (policy, if you prefer), urging the guests not to do the thing which the innkeeper dislikes. Yet most innkeepers will agree that guests almost never read signs. Why do we try to solve a problem with a sign, when we know that is unlikely to be effective? If one sign is ineffective, many signs are many times more likely to be ineffective. So why…

Don’t imitate Google if you want to grow your business

This isn't a rant against Google. Really, it isn't. But it is an interesting customer service lesson for small businesses, taken from large businesses. Most people who are in business can see first hand the value of good customer service. For small businesses, especially those in hospitality, this is particularly true. In the hospitality business, good customer service can lead to good reviews on TripAdvisor or other services. It can also lead to instant gratification when you see the smiles on the faces of your guests/customers, hear the sincerity in their voices when they thank you for the time they've spent at your establishment, and promise to return. The results of bad customer service are often just as obvious. On more than one innkeeper forum we regularly see innkeepers complain about the behavior of their guests. Sometimes they have good reason, but usually it is just because the guest's schedule or priorities don't match those of the innkeeper. Some of those innkeepers will tell how they responded. Others will share their own similar experiences, and tell how they fought back against the guest's schedule/requirements/preferences Still others will simply offer advice on how to resist the guest's request. We realize that some of these stories are just that - fictionalized versions. It is important to remember, though, that this advice is being offered to others on how to deal with a perceived problem. Some will take it as advice they should follow. [pullquote]Every interaction is a customer service interaction.[/pullquote] Sometimes innkeepers seem to have forgotten that every interaction with a guest is a customer service interaction. If you've ever had to deal with Google about a problem, you've seen some of the worst examples of customer service, ever. Local search expert Mike Blumenthal recently described what he called not only Google's…

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