Tag: property management software

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How to choose a booking engine for today

When this blog started out, quite a few years ago, it was intended to focus primarily on marketing and evaluating reservation or booking software. With changes in the industry, and in my situation, that emphasis has shifted, but, from a high-level view, it has all been related. However, it has been some time since I've written specifically about booking engines, but for some historical perspective, you can find some useful information here and here. There are several reasons why reservation software (booking software) has not been the focus of posts here. Among them, is sheer volume of the offerings. There were over 40 different offerings emphasizing B&B bookings when this blog began. Today some of those have gone out of business, but many are still there, in one form or another, and there are literally dozens of new additions to the field. Another reason is that my consulting work has lately been occupied with specific booking systems, so I have been reluctant to write about systems I'm evaluating for clients. Yet another is that several of the existing systems have promised to provide me with demo access so I can do a full review, but have failed to come through with the goods. Hmmm. What does that say about their ability to follow-through for customers, I wonder? Meanwhile, many (perhaps most) of the posts have explored ways to evaluate your marketing using Google Analytics - an area of much greater concern to many I speak with. Getting Started Whether you are considering a change of booking engines (and for our purposes I'll be using the terms "booking engine", "booking software", and "reservation system" or "reservation software" all to refer to the same thing - an external system for capturing guest bookings that can be - or appear to be -…

Year End Review: Cutting through the cobwebs

[Updated, December, 2014] In our previous posts, we've talked about organizing a year end review of your bookings and about the information that will help you identify guest booking trends and stronger or weaker performing rooms, providing an outline of the information you can track (or should start tracking) to prepare you for next year's review. In this concluding post we'll talk about a year end review of web analytics, specifically emphasizing paid listings. For the purposes of this post, we'll assume you have Google Analytics (or something similar - but we'll use GA for our examples and terminology) installed on your website. If not, you'll certainly want to have it installed soon, so you can track information for next year. [pullquote]Our Key Performance Indicators are Referrals and Bookings over time.[/pullquote]The primary things we want to look at (our Key Performance Indicators, or KPI's, if you will) are referral sources and bookings over time, and specifically bookings and participation in bookings from our paid listings. In plain English, how is our website doing at attracting traffic and converting it to bookings, and how are paid listings doing at getting us bookings. Referral Sources over Time For this piece of information, there are two things we want to examine. The first is quite simple - it is how did we do this past year, compared to the year before. To see this, in the Reporting section (top), we'll go to the left side menu, Acquisition -> All Referrals. Then go to the top right column where the date range is located, and put in the entire previous year (for 2014, that would be Jan 1, 2014 through Dec 31, 2014). Below that tick the box for Compare to Previous Period (or Previous Year) and click Apply. If you want to see…

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…

Google Analytics and Your Booking Engine

Several of our previous posts on analytics have dealt with the "how to" aspect of setting up various things you might want to track across your website and your booking engine. A recent online forum discussion among innkeepers about this topic prompts an overview of what things you can track, why you might want to track them, and some potential problem areas. 1. Is your site set up to use Google Analytics? [pullquote]Does your booking engine support ecommerce tracking? Is it set up correctly?[/pullquote]Do you have Google Analytics set up on your website? It should appear on every page (any page that doesn't have it, will not be tracked). How do you verify that it is set up? Open your favorite browser and visit your website. In most browsers, you can press Ctrl-U on the keyboard to view the source code of the page you are viewing. On all you can right-click on the page and select View Source (or something very similar) to see it. Look through the source (or press Ctrl-F to search, if you prefer). You are looking for code which will include "_gaq". By the way, if you find code that includes "_gat" you are using the older, slower, form of Google Analytics, and it should be updated to use what is called the asynchronous code. If you don't find either the "_gaq" or "_gat" sections, you don't have Google Analytics installed. Once you find the code, check to see what it looks like. Basic tracking looks like this (the XXXXX-X is your Google Analytics ID, and don't worry if the lines don't break at the same points): <script type="text/javascript"> var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXX-X']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol…

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