And it’s a wrap!

The time has come to bid 2021 goodbye. But what a grand success this year has been!

The hospitality and tourism sector took an enormous blow because of the pandemic. But it is truly a wonder how well it has recuperated from the disaster that was the year 2020. However, some age-old practices had to be revolutionized for the hotel industry to come back to the track. And this is exactly what the focus of StayFlexi had been to stay afloat in these volatile times. From contactless check-ins to smart housekeeping to automated payments, StayFlexi has constantly kept the burning needs of the times in focus. We knew “contactless” was the buzzword of the year. So, that is exactly what we prioritized while developing our newest features. 

All our products are co-created along with the hospitality industry. To be honest we could not have achieved half the milestones that we did in 2021 without the overwhelming support from our clients and well wishers. Just as we step into a new, and hopefully healthier year, let’s look back at what we collectively achieved this year. 


StayFlexi Milestones of 2021:

  • We onboarded 1150 hotels.
  • StayFlexi served 22,518 rooms to guests. 
  • We achieved 1.31 million room nights. 
  • 458,281 guests enjoyed our services. 
  • We made our mark in over 13 countries. 
  • 2021 saw 6 times the growth as was experienced in the earlier years. 

Customer behavior has gone through a sea change in recent years. And the aim of StayFlexi has always been to keep up with the changing customer priorities. The best part about our journey through 2021 has been how the hotels have become aware of these changing customer needs as well. Making the guest feel safe in their home away from home and catering to their need for privacy has been our chief priority. 

The burgeoning labor cost was also a major concern for the hospitality industry in 2021. One of StayFlexi’s main aims was to lower the staff requirement and to promote versatility among the existing staff members. Hopefully, what we achieved as a team this year is going to leave a lasting impact in the future as well. 

After the ruinous effects of the pandemic, the comeback of the hotel and tourism industry has truly been inspirational. We’re proud that we could be a part of this grand comeback along with you. 

So, this was 2021 in a nutshell. Looking forward to another year of successful partnership. Happy New Year!

Gone are the days when you only had to change your hotel room prices once during the peak holiday season. The concept of any fixed room rate itself is outdated now. The same room becomes regular, queen, deluxe and super-deluxe based on occupancy and demand. There are a million factors that influence the rise and fall of room prices now. What this means is that, you cannot just manually change the room prices of the overall hotel once or twice a year. No. The room prices need to change not only on a daily basis but often on an hourly basis. This is known as dynamic room pricing. 

Dynamic room pricing is not at all something new. How many times during the day does Amazon change its prices for the same product? How many times during the day do you see Uber and Lyft prices go up due to surge pricing?

That is exactly what dynamic pricing is. And it is currently being used by all industries. 


Why Dynamic Pricing Is A Must

If all of your competitors are using dynamic pricing (which, let’s be honest, they are) and you aren’t, then you are leaving money on the table. The bookings that you’re getting are based on sheer luck or extreme loyalty of the customers. And obviously, you cannot depend heavily on either. 

Plus, you have to keep in mind that you need to raise your prices as the occupancy rate increases. This is because the rise in occupancy rate is an indicator that demand is increasing. If the customers see that the prices are steadily rising, they will be much more likely to hurry to make a reservation. This is exactly why you need to employ dynamic pricing to raise the occupancy and demand of rooms. 

On the contrary, raising the room prices too much can serve to redirect customers to your competitors. This won’t do either. So, there are times when you need to know when to cut your losses and sell your rooms at discounted prices. After all, a discounted room still gets you more revenue than an empty room.

This is exactly why dynamic pricing is a necessity in this day and age. 


Why Should You Automate Dynamic Pricing Strategies 

This is going to become clearer as I discuss the particular dynamic pricing strategies later. But, as you can already understand, you cannot manually update your room prices multiple times in a day. And you have to do this across hundreds of OTA channels as well. This is exactly why you need automations to do your work for you. 

There are two reasons main reasons to automate your dynamic pricing strategies:

  1. Dynamic pricing is based on certain factors that are already calculated by your Property Management System. StayFlexi, for example, keeps track of your occupancy rate in general. It is much easier for the software to use the data that it already has than to hand over a report to you. Then you won’t have to interpret that report to manually change the room pricings. If you try to do this manually, you simply won’t have enough time to do it multiple times during the day across myriad channels. Automations are faster, more accurate and most importantly- they already have the data that is to be used. 
  2. You have to keep the prices on your hotel site and all the OTAs in sync. This is almost impossible without a Property Management System like StayFlexi. The two-way sync process of the dynamic pricing system is one of the most important assets of a PMS. 

Now, I’ll tell you three strategies in which you can effectively implement dynamic pricing in your hotel. 


3 Dynamic Pricing Strategies You Can Automate to Maximize Hotel Revenue

How to sell each room at the highest possible price while still keeping up the surge in demand? This is the ultimate aim of dynamic pricing. Let’s see how it is practically done:


Occupancy Rate Based Fluctuations

When the last few rooms are left unbooked, the room rate increases. So, demand drives up prices. With StayFlexi, you can simply set conditions like:

“When occupancy exceeds 70%, raise room prices by $40.”

Or, conversely:

“When occupancy dips below 20%, lower room prices by $20.”

But it’s not quite that simple either. Raising room prices to an exorbitant level will just dissuade guests from booking those last few rooms at all. In such a situation, giving the rooms away at a discounted price would be a better idea. But say there is an event in town that guarantees some last minute customers who will be pressed to make reservations. In such situations, it is definitely a better idea to keep the prices high. 

So, not only does occupancy rate matter, the particular situation also matters. The great part about having a PMS like StayFlexi is that it can tell you how this situation is likely to pan out. This is mostly based on past data. For example, say StayFlexi has consistently recorded a high number of late bookings during particular local events. It is going to give you an idea of approximately what kind of occupancy rate you should expect. This will let you take an informed decision on whether to raise or lower the pricing. 

Not only does StayFlexi automatically fluctuate the prices according to occupancy. But it also gives you an idea of what to expect based on past recorded patterns.


Minimum Stay Restrictions

Let’s say there’s a particular one day event somewhere near your hotel (for example, a concert). A huge number of guests are going to start pouring into town. Some of these guests will check in on Friday, attend the concert and then spend the entire weekend before checking out. However, some will turn up after the concert is over, spend the night and then leave. 

Which category of guests should you prefer? In most situations, you should prefer the former. Getting three-day bookings is a lot better than getting overnight bookings just from a profit-making standpoint. This is why you should employ certain Minimum Stay Restrictions. You can do this by informing the guest that you would be taking only three-day bookings. Or, you can even incentivise longer bookings by providing discounts. 

Property Management Systems allow you to implement these Minimum Stay Restrictions easily. You can also implement stay Maximum Stay Restrictions. This is not very common because this is implemented only in very specific circumstances. 

Say there is a highly-anticipated sports event in your locality. You know that guests are going to start pouring in on Saturday night. And they will be willing to pay exorbitant prices to stay because of the limited boarding options in the area. This is when you need to ensure that your other guests check out before Saturday. This way you can fill your hotel up with these high-paying overnight guests. However, this is a risky move. And you definitely need to know what your competitors are doing before you attempt this.


Competitor Pricing Based Fluctuations

Your room prices should always be $5-10 below or above your competitors’ prices. This is because they are also trying to predict the surge or fall in demand at all moments. 

The first thing you need to do is list out a bunch of similar properties. This means hotels which belong to the same area and offer the same kind of hospitality. Don’t try to compete with the prices of a hotel that is extremely different from yours. 

Then, you need to keep a constant eye on their prices. This is because they all have dynamic pricing models too. You should always try to beat their prices but you cannot do this by lowering your prices too much. This will just serve to assure the guests that your property is not of the same standard. This is exactly why you need to have closely competing room prices.

Now, of course, you cannot personally check what the room pricing of all competing hotels are at all times. The good thing is- a PMS will do it for you. You can set alerts that inform you whenever there is a large difference between you and your competitors’ prices.

Also, demand completely depends on whether your competitors have available rooms. So, you need to keep track of your competitors’ approximate occupancy rates as well. 


In Conclusion

Occupancy-based price fluctuations, stay restrictions and competitor pricing triggers- all of these are taken care of by Property Management Systems. These are processes that can be easily automated. If you want to implement dynamic pricing, make sure you depend on the data supplied by a Property Management System like StayFlexi. These are some of the most basic strategies that you can employ to boost your hotel revenue. 

Wondering how else StayFlexi can help you automate your dynamic pricing strategies? Leave a comment below!

Work From Home. You either hate or love these three words which became extremely popular during the pandemic. This love-hate relationship is mostly dependent on whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. But that’s not all. There’re a million other factors that govern whether or not you can at all afford to work from home. But what do these three little words mean for the hotel industry?

The most obvious answer is loss. The complete ban on travel also includes corporate travel, which several hotels are completely dependent on. Several IT companies have completely clamped down on their travel budget. And several others have realized that the remote working model actually suits them better. They don’t have to rent office space or invest in utilities. 

But this is obviously not great news for you. National and international conferences brought in huge crowds of guests. Companies used to book rooms in bulk and you could often overbook a certain number of rooms as well. After all, 100% of the corporate crowd never showed up. With the rise of Zoom and Google Meet, this entire source of revenue has been severed. 

But has it though? Has remote working completely ruined the hotel industry that depended on corporate guests? No. And not just this. The remote working culture has several other benefits for you as well. All you need to do is modify your hotel practices according to modern demands. 


How Remote Working Has Changed Travel Patterns Among People?


Digital Nomads 

Who are the Digital Nomads? They refer to the group of people who don’t just work from home, they work from anywhere. So, your aim should be to transform that “anywhere” into your hotel.

Most extroverts hate the Work From Home routine. And even non-extroverts can become sick and tired of remaining shut up in the same room all day. This is why digital nomads work from spaces that are very much not their homes. 

To attract this crowd, you need to have state-of-the-art WiFi and other tech facilities. Don’t charge for the WiFi separately. This is a sure-shot way to turn them away. And make sure your hotel WiFi has enough bandwidth to sustain a significant number of guests. They should also have access to workstations inside their rooms. This might mean changing the current bedroom setup to a partial office setup. 

If you can ensure that they can work comfortably in your hotels, the digital nomads will come flooding in.


Workation

Remember how I told you that the remote working culture benefits you, as the hotelier, in more ways than one? Previously, people had very strict schedules. They had to take leaves if they wanted to go on a vacation. This obviously created certain limitations. 

But you can basically do “Work From Home” from anywhere! So, you can also go on vacations during a workweek. Guests can work during the day and go sightseeing etc. in the evenings. 

People usually prefer to spend their workstations in hotels that are inherently aesthetic. The hotel should ideally be in a beautiful location already or it should be pretty close to one. If you have neither of these factors working out for you, you have to provide worthwhile in-house entertainment. 


Day Stays

The other trend that hotels are welcoming now is that of the Day Stayers. This refers to guests who might not spend the night at the hotel. You might think this leads to an overall loss of revenue but it doesn’t. Day Stayers always visit the hotel to gain access to the POS facilities like the sight-seeing counter, the restaurant, bar, etc. These are also significant sources of revenue. 

Don’t turn these guests away. With the remote working model, they might not be able to book extended stays. But even these stays are profitable for you. If you are trying to encourage extended stays, you can always provide some extra benefits.

Day Stayers should also be provided access to the conference halls with workstations. There might be remote working professionals who just want to visit for a calm and quiet work environment. 


Readily Available Amenities 

No matter how much you love staying at home, sometimes working from home is just not a feasible option. Not all of us live alone or have extremely quiet neighbors. A home office setup is not something that most people can afford either. 

Not just that, many office workers cannot really find the time to cook for themselves either. Doing the laundry and cleaning the room are additional woes. This is why many remote working professionals prefer to work from hotels. 

Room service takes care of your busy guest’s appetite and the housekeeping does the rest. If you have a Property Management System like StayFlexi, this process gets even more simplified. 

You can simply place your food orders on the hotel app from your cell phone. There is no need to call the front desk and then wait for them to connect you to the kitchen. And with StayFlexi’s Smart Housekeeping, the guest doesn’t need to personally find a housekeeping staff member either. They can just register their complaint on the app itself. The concerned staff member will receive the notification of the complaint and solve it immediately. If they are busy, the complaint will be transferred to another staff member who is currently free. Only after the problem has been resolved, the staff member can mark the task as completed in the mobile app/website.

This not only saves the working guest’s time and energy. But it also helps you know who is to be held accountable if something goes wrong. The prompt and easy service of hotels is one of the main reasons why remote working professionals prefer hotels. 


What Can You Do To Attract Remote Working Professionals?

  1. Change the layout of some of your rooms. Rather than a bedroom setup, go for an office setup. If this is not possible, at least add a quiet corner with a table where the guest can sit and work. 
  2. Try to attract Day Stayers by advertising your POS outlets like your restaurant, bar, etc. 
  3. Your hotel has to be well equipped to support the WFH professionals. This means free WiFi with considerable bandwidth, enough charging portals, good phone connectivity, etc. 
  4. Make sure that the guest has to interact with the staff as little as possible. Extended interactions simply waste time and energy. This is why StayFlexi’s Self-Check-In/Check-Out and Smart Housekeeping feature is so beneficial for remote working professionals. No need to wait at the front desk for hours. No need to search for the staff member responsible for cleaning your room.

In Conclusion

If you are worried about the WFH trend getting prolonged, remember that WFH doesn’t just mean loss. The hospitality industry can benefit from the remote working model if it just understands the requirements of the guests.

Your aim should be to substitute Work-From-Home with Work-From-Hotel. How to do this? Allow the guests to retain their own autonomy. Limit staff interactions with guests because this just wastes their precious work hours. Invest in a Property Management System so that your guests can lodge their complaints directly from their mobile phones. 

It’s not remotely impossible to benefit from the remote working trend. To understand how StayFlexi provides more autonomy to your guests, leave a comment below. 

The hospitality and tourism industry is showing promising signs of recovery in the third quarter of this financial year. And this is evident from the statistics themselves. The revenue per available room (RevPAR) in the third quarter of 2021 (July to September) grew by 169.4% as compared to the RevPAR in the third quarter of 2020. This statistic was declared by the JLL consultancy which monitors the figures in the hospitality sector on a quarterly basis. There has also been a 122% increase in the RevPAR in Q3 of FY-2021 (April-June) when compared to the second quarter of 2021. 

There are some obvious reasons for this immense growth in RevPAR. The first is of course the lifting of travel restrictions after the second wave of COVID-19. But we must also take into account that the net increase would not have been so high had the baseline not been so low.

What can we expect in the last quarter of FY-2021? Well, going by the present trend, the RevPAR figures are going to rise even further. IT companies are again pouring money into their travel expenditure budget. This signals that employees of these companies will start traveling across the country for work again. Plus, more vaccinations also mean more travelers. By now more than 50% of the adult population in India has received their double vaccination doses. It is evident from the news reports that locations like Sikkim, Himachal, Uttarakhand, etc. are already filling up with tourists. 

32 hotels were signed in the third quarter of 2021. This meant a total of 2624 keys which resulted in a 13.4% increase compared to the Q3 of 2020. 15 of those new signings are converted old hotels. This counts for 47% of the new signings. The ratio of domestic operators to international operators is currently 57:43 with regard to their inventory volume.

The leader in the RevPAR department was Goa. It witnessed a 389.8% growth in the third quarter of 2021 as compared to the same quarter in 2020. This whopping growth owed much to the very low baseline score of 2020. Hyderabad won over all the states when it came to the highest rise in the occupancy rate. The occupancy level increased by 33.6% in the third quarter of 2021 as compared to Q3 of 2020. The rise in RevPAR for Bengaluru and Hyderabad was 213.2% and 173.5%  as compared to the third quarter of 2020. 

The demand of operational inventory in India’s six major cities witnessed a 159% growth in Q3 of 2021 as compared to Q3 in 2020. Similarly, supply grew by 9.5% in the same period. 

Jaideep Dang, the managing director of the Hotels and Hospitality Group of South Asia, JLL, also spoke about the ‘sharp recovery’ that was witnessed in this quarter. Almost all of the holiday destinations were sold out on the weekends. Not just this, people started exploring new places in order to avoid the more crowded destinations. This led to the rise of tourism in locations that were not very popular before the pandemic. 

Since the restriction on the number of people allowed to gather has relaxed, the demand for weddings is also growing. The F&B dining facilities are also performing better in the metro cities and the Tier-II cities. This obviously is the outcome of the growing number of vaccinations. As soon as corporate travel resumes its original volume, the hospitality industry will be back on track.

What is a Hotel Distribution Strategy? It is the process through which you sell your hotel rooms via various channels. 

I know your mind must have immediately skipped to OTAs. Yes, Online Travel Agencies are one of the major pathways through which you get hotel bookings. But there are various drawbacks of using (or rather, overusing) OTAs, like TripAdvisor and Expedia. 

Many hotel owners are tempted to completely hand over the responsibility of hotel distribution to the OTAs. After all, all you need to do is set some fixed prices and wait for the bookings to come rolling in. 

But this is a terrible hotel distribution strategy. First, all OTA channels take a certain commission from you for the bookings. And if you don’t keep an eye on the OTA channels, they might keep increasing the commission rate. Second, you don’t have much control over the prices and the experience that you are offering if you use an OTA. Third, it’s difficult to modify the settings and prices on all the OTA channels. 

The list goes on. Long story short, just depending on the OTA platforms for an effective hotel distribution strategy is not going to help you. You need to have a more nuanced approach and correct certain mistakes that you’re currently making. In this article, I will tell you exactly how to create a profitable hotel distribution strategy. 


How to Create a Profitable Hotel Distribution Strategy


Know Your Target Demographic

Know your customers. This is the first piece of advice that you’re going to receive no matter which industry you work in.

You need to know what your target demographic looks like. Who is the most likely to book a room at your hotel? 30+ business executives? 20+ college students? Honeymooners? Vacationing families? 

These are all widely different categories of people who require widely different treatment both in terms of hospitality and marketing. As you are going to discover from the points which follow, each group has to be catered to differently. If you advertise to 20-something college grads and 60-something retired folks through the same channels, this isn’t going to work. 

How can you find your target demographic though? It’s not like your hotel lobby will be crowded with one particular group at any point in time. 

No, you have to make use of a Property Management System like StayFlexi. Since StayFlexi keeps track of your guest data, it can tell you the prevalent trends in guests. This does not only help you narrow down the category of guests that you usually entertain. You can also find out what their specific preferences are so that you can focus on those elements.


Select OTAs Carefully 

Yes, almost all hotels are listed on Bookings.com or TripAdvisor. But did you know that there are more niche OTA channels like Worldmeetings or hostelbookers.com? The first caters to business executives in particular while the latter caters to college grads. There are also specific luxury OTA channels that cater to honeymooners. 

These niche OTA channels are not easy to find. But if you have a very clear grasp of your target demographic, these niche channels are a great option. This is because your target demographic is already flocking to these sites. 

A lot of hoteliers have a tendency to get listed on all possible OTA channels. But OTA channels charge a huge commission. Why would you want to get listed on one that did not have your target demographic at all?

That’s why this is an essential step in creating a hotel distribution strategy. Only select the OTA channels which can get you the most profit. 


Prioritise on Direct Bookings

As I have mentioned in the very beginning, there are multiple drawbacks of using OTAs. Not only do they charge a hefty commission, but they might also steal away customers from you later. After all, you cannot compete with the advertising or loyalty programs of sites with major funding such as Trivago. 

This is why you need to start redirecting guests to your own site. Offering small discounts or some complimentary services for direct bookings always helps. With direct bookings, your profit margin is much greater because there is no middleman. Without the obligation to pay commissions, you can lower the room rates while keeping the profit high. This benefits both you and the customer. 

With direct bookings, you also have way more control over the experience that you are providing to your guests. You can send them personalized confirmation emails and questionnaires. 

To get direct bookings, you must make sure your site is up and running smoothly. StayFlexi helps with this as well as the payment portal. The process of directly booking rooms should not be too complicated. 


Keep an Eye on CAC

CAC refers to Customer Acquisition Cost. It refers to the amount of money that you have to spend on getting a new customer. One of the major mistakes that new businesses make is not keeping the CAC in mind. Hoteliers cannot focus on profitable hotel distribution without having a clear idea about their CAC. 

If your CAC is too high, you simply won’t make a profit at all, no matter how much revenue you generate. This is why you cannot go absolutely crazy with marketing and advertising. 

A great way to reduce the CAC is by focusing on repeat customers. In the case of hotels, this means focusing on returning guests. StayFlexi allows you to create amazing loyalty programs that let you provide specific benefits to your most profitable customers. Remember, retargeting always takes way less money than coaxing a new customer to enter the sales funnel.


Practice Dynamic Pricing 

The term dynamic pricing is rather misunderstood by most hoteliers. Having a fixed price and then decreasing it by a certain percentage for discounts, doesn’t count as dynamic pricing. A lot of hoteliers tend to stick to this formula regardless because it is easier. After all, it is a huge hassle to go on varying the room prices across 50+ OTA channels. 

But having fixed pricing severely affects your hotel distribution strategy. After all, your room rates should not just change seasonally. They should change by the hour depending upon the occupancy rate. Don’t take the remaining 3 rooms of your hotel off the listing just because you’re scared of overbooking. Instead, increase the room rates for those 3 rooms even more. 

Wondering how to effectively handle this without risking overbooking? Invest in a PMS like StayFlexi. StayFlexi’s Auto Inventory Management system makes sure that the moment a booking is made, that room gets taken off the listing. So, there is absolutely no fear of overbooking. The process is completely automated, so there is no room for human error. 

StayFlexi also allows you to fluctuate the room rates based on the occupancy level. You do not need to manually monitor this process at all. 


Don’t Lower Room Rates Abruptly

Yes, when demand goes up, you should increase the room rates. But is the converse true? Should you sell off empty rooms at dirt cheap prices if you don’t get any booking till the last minute? Will lowering your prices instantly increase the demand?

Not really. This is because seasoned guests are suspicious about extremely low prices as well. This automatically makes them feel like there’s something very wrong with the hotel room. 

Not just that. Even if you get these bookings, will you be making any profit at all? Think about which option is better:

  1. Letting a room be empty but also not spending any human labor on it.
  2. Wasting human labor on it while not making enough profits to cover that cost. 

Of course, the first option is preferable. 

Yes, keeping the occupancy rate high is important. But don’t lower your prices to the extent where you won’t be able to make any profits at all. 


Invest in a Channel Manager

When I was talking about dynamic pricing I mentioned that StayFlexi automates the process of fluctuating prices. However, this is not just valid for the main hotel site. This is valid for all other OTA channels as well. 

StayFlexi syncs up the activities of 100+ OTA channels. So two customers from TripAdvisor and Trivago cannot book the same room twice. The moment one is booked from Trivago, it goes off the listing on TripAdvisor as well. 

StayFlexi is connected to multiple channel managers. But you can bring over your own channel manager as well. The ultimate goal is to make sure there is a perfect 2-way sync between the direct website and the OTAs. Every distribution channel has to be on the same page for an effective and profitable hotel distribution strategy. 


Keep Track of Hotel Metrics

There are multiple metrics that you have to keep in mind while running a hotel. CAC is only one of them. RevPAR or Revenue Per Available Room is another very important metric. When I suggested not lowering room rates abruptly, it was because your RevPAR could plummet if you did so. 

Average Daily Rate or ADR is another metric that you have to keep in mind. This refers to the average cost of the rooms on a particular day. This value is important to chart how your revenue management is functioning on an overall basis. 

Average Occupancy Rate and Gross Operating Profit Per Available Room (GOP PAR) are other hotel metrics that you should be aware of. 


Advertise Where it Counts

This is a direct follow-up to the first point that I mentioned on this list. You need to advertise based on your specific customer base.

If you have an older target base, then focus on email marketing and especially retargeting. Stay in constant touch with your customers and advertise based on their past preferences. If you have a younger target base, focus on social media advertisement. Now Instagram and Pinterest advertising work spectacularly because these are image-based sites. Have something unique that your guests will want to click photos of and then post. These tags get you both free advertising and social proof. You should always try to encourage as much User Generated Content as possible.

Having said that, you should always entertain the likes and dislikes or adjacent groups too. However, you should not splurge your marketing budget on them. The best hotel distribution strategy is to market to those who are most likely to buy. 


In Conclusion:

A profitable Hotel Distribution Strategy brings many different things into its envelope. Marketing, revenue management, dynamic pricing, development of the hotel website- there’s a lot to do. 

However, I think the first step is to put a stop to the overdependence that many hoteliers have on OTA channels. Don’t stop using them, But make sure that you are making more money out of them than you are spending on them. 

StayFlexi can help you create a profitable hotel distribution strategy in multiple ways. If you want to know more about the individual features of StayFlexi, do leave a comment!

Chargebacks and refunds are not the same. There’s one very important difference between them: Chargebacks are much worse. In this article, you will not only learn about what chargebacks are but also how to reduce them. 


What are Chargebacks?

Sometimes a guest will check out of your property and then discover charges on their credit card that they don’t recognize. They will then dispute the charge with the card-issuing bank. The issuing bank will then start looking into the validity of the dispute. This is when a chargeback occurs. A certain amount will be returned to the customer by the bank. If the customer’s claim is proved right, you (the hotelier) will have to reimburse the bank. 


Why are Chargebacks Worse Than Refunds?

The above definition of chargebacks does not truly reveal how many hidden charges are involved. The thing is: the chargeback process is unfairly tilted in the favor of the customers. It is very hard for the hotel to prove that the customer’s claim is untrue. Basically, the “innocent until proven guilty” principle is reversed when it comes to hotel chargebacks. You have to have detailed and elaborate proof to hold up your innocence. The customer, on the other hand, does not have much of a responsibility to prove your guilt. 

Chargebacks involve tons of hidden costs, unlike refunds. A refund can directly be sent to the customers’ credit card without any additional charges. While paying a chargeback fee, you also have to pay the bank for settling the dispute. This means an operational cost, transaction fee, and a penalty fee. And your woes don’t just end here. 

You also have to take into account the amount of time and energy you waste in proving your innocence. Even if you are proven right, no compensation will be provided in return. Not just this. If you get a lot of chargebacks in a month, the bank might actually stop accepting credit card payments for your establishment. Also, the more chargebacks you get per month, the more your chargeback fee increases. So, this can go up from $20 to $100. With the additional fees involved, you might have to end up paying $125 out of pocket for a $50 dispute. 

In 2019 alone, chargeback fees cost merchants 4.4% of their revenue. Another statistic is even more disastrous. Only 18% of the merchants manage to win 60% of their chargeback disputes. So, the bitter truth is- the odds are not in your favor. If a chargeback dispute starts, you are at a significant disadvantage. 

This is why I am going to list 5 days to either avoid chargebacks or win the disputes. 


5 Ways to Reduce Hotel Chargebacks:


Provide Detailed Invoices

Hotels always have a tendency to pile up all the additional charges till the very end. The customer is then handed the final bill during the check-out. This is a guaranteed way to have dissatisfied and mostly confused customers. 

Guests are usually in a hurry during the check-out process. They don’t have time to scrutinize the bill and neither do they have to ask any questions. There is no time for doubt resolution. So, they end up carrying these doubts back home and then filing for a chargeback. 

Most of your problems would be solved if the guest just talked something over with you instead of the bank. This is why you should immediately provide detailed invoices of all the items/services a guest is paying for. This can be difficult if you are handing out actual bills (not to mention, an enormous waste of paper).

This is why a Property Management System like StayFlexi is exactly what you require. StayFlexi will immediately send a notification of the charge that the guest incurred on their cellphones. They can keep checking the hotel app/website to review all of their payments during their stay. 


Shift to Digital POS shops

The reason why it is so easy to keep track of payments with StayFlexi is that it digitizes the process of booking. Be it the act of booking a hotel room or ordering room service or booking a rental car. The guest does it all through StayFlexi. 

Since there is no paper trail to keep track of, these records are much easier to handle. Every single purchase and payment is stored in one database. The guest interacts with the Point-Of-Sale shops through their cell phones. So, there is a detailed record of all of their purchases. 

The added benefit of digitizing POS shops is that StayFlexi then returns to you detailed audit reports. You can find out which item sold the most or least if you depend on StayFlexi’s reports. 


Keep Records for At Least 3 Years

Did you know that most card-issuing banks mandate that you have to maintain your records for a minimum of 13 months? For American Express, this required record retention period is as long as 3 years. 

The guest can file the chargeback a long time after they have checked out. And the dispute settlement period itself can go on for months. So, you must make sure that you maintain records for at least 3 years. 

With StayFlexi’s cloud-based software, storing data becomes incredibly easy. No backup is required. The software stores detailed payment data for many years so that it can be presented during a dispute. Also, storing the data isn’t enough. You must also be able to find a tiny transaction detail years after it has happened. Since StayFlexi keeps all your data nearly organized, it rids you of the headache that something might vanish in the clutter.


Issue Quick Refunds

Refunds will also cost you money. But that will be way lower than the chargeback fee that you will incur if the refund is not paid. Whenever you have to issue a refund, make sure it goes through. Because if it doesn’t, you will have to pay exponentially more in the long run. 

There is no point in delaying refunds. The more you delay them, the more the guest will be convinced that you cannot be trusted. They are going to directly seek the bank’s help in that case. If this is exactly what you are trying to avoid, make sure the payment is processed quickly. 


Process Payments On-Site

As I have mentioned in the first point, don’t let the guest go back home- confused and dissatisfied. The thing is, most chargebacks happen due to “Friendly Fraud.” Friendly Fraud refers to a situation where the guest simply does not remember availing of a service. They see a charge on the bill that they cannot recognize. So, they report this charge without even realizing that they are initiating a chargeback process. 

This “forgetfulness” can simply be avoided if the guest is made aware of the charges immediately. Many hotels postpone the talk about money till the very end because they think it is an unsavory conversation. But this just creates more anxiety in the minds of the guests. They keep wondering how much they’re going to be charged or how much additional tax they have to pay.

That’s exactly why you must take StayFlexi’s help to immediately inform the guests how much they have to pay. Since these reminders come in the form of notifications, the guests don’t need to actually talk about money continuously. But if they see a charge that they don’t recognize, they can immediately inform you about that. They will be less inclined to directly approach the bank when they are still on your property. 


In Conclusion

Chargebacks can cost hotels thousands, if not millions of dollars. And since all payment options have become digitized now, the threat of chargebacks looms large over all merchants. Yes, a chargeback dispute is hard to win. But who can prove you wrong if you have proper proof lined up? This is exactly what StayFlexi helps you to do. It digitizes all payments and then keeps detailed records of these payments for as long as you wish to. 

Want to know more about how StayFlexi can help you reduce hotel chargebacks? Leave a comment below.

Customer Retention is a key factor in every business. But why do you specifically need guest retention strategies for hotels? Can’t you just attract new travellers? You can. But Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is no joke. In fact, it will take you 5 to 25 times more money to get a new customer. Remember, getting people to enter the sales funnel is always the hardest part. An effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program can help you cut down on the CAC greatly. Not just this, repeat guests know way more about your hotel than a new customer does. So, you will generate way more profit from returning guests. 

This list will focus on the strategies which are neither frightfully expensive nor difficult to implement. 


Top 10 Guest Retention Strategies for Hotels:


Prioritise on Direct Bookings

Yes, OTA channels are extremely useful in getting bookings. But you know how they keep a sum for every booking, right? Why not redirect the guests to your own hotel website?

There are two reasons to prioritize this. First, you can upsell and cross-sell more easily from your own website. To get more people to visit your website, you can offer small incentives like a free breakfast. People will remember your hotel a lot better if they book it directly from your site. Through an OTA channel, you just remain a nameless property on a huge list. 

The second reason is a bit more complicated. The OTA channels like MakeMyTrip or TripAdvisor also want to retain THEIR customers. And their marketing and CRM budget is way higher than yours. When they try to retain their customers, they naturally offer other similar hotel options to the guests. Your hotel goes out of focus. 

You cannot win back the attention of a guest who is receiving regular notifications from these large OTA channels. However, the guests who directly book from your site will have no such temptations to distract them.


Keep Track of Guest Behaviour

Pay close attention to what your guests’ preferences are. This is the exact data that you are going to need for all the points that come after. To divide your guest population into groups and to market to them selectively, you need this information. 

But gathering this information without digitizing the process is almost impossible. How on earth will you keep track of who is ordering which food item how many times?

The only way to do this is by having a Property Management System like StayFlexi. The key feature of Stayflexi that will help you out with this is its capability to store data. Also, since StayFlexi sets up all your online POS outlets, you can get that data readily as well. StayFlexi makes sure that people book all facilities through the hotel app/website itself. This also includes ordering room service or getting a rental car. So, you have a huge repository of information about your guests that you can later utilize.


Choose a Target Group

With the information gathered from the above step, you need to start categorizing guests into separate groups. As a hotelier, you must already know that there’s always a select group of people who love to splurge. Your best guest retention strategy is to focus your energies on those who can be retained. 

You might need to go a bit above and beyond to cater to these guests. But it’s always worth the effort because they end up bringing substantial revenue to your hotel. However, this does not mean you can ignore your other guests. You need to track their travel patterns as well. This will be helpful when you ask them to be a part of your loyalty program. StayFlexi’s analytics reports are extremely effective in this process of selecting a batch of VIP customers. 


Personalize the Experience

Guests want to be treated as individuals. The very core principle of the hospitality business is that you have to make your guests feel comfortable. After all, your hotel is going to be their temporary home for a while. No one likes feeling like a nameless stranger in their own home. 

This is why personalization is the key to guest retention. If your guests feel like you truly care about their preferences, they are going to remember you. 

This is also extremely valid for those who have some specific requirements. For example, people with special diets or some health ailments. These are not people who like to experiment with their living quarters or restaurants. If something suits their special requirements once, they stick to these properties. 

For example, vegans or diabetics won’t be too keen on exploring newer hotels. This is because they can never be sure that the newer hotel will abide by their special requests. On the other hand, they know that you have successfully fulfilled their requirements once. So, they are bound to return to your hotel if they are in the same area. 


Keep in Touch

This guest retention strategy is meant for the post-check-out process. Your duty towards your guest does not end the moment they take their bags and walk out of the hotel. You have to stay in touch with them to keep the memory of the trip fresh in their minds. This way, your hotel is sure to get recommended multiple times when people ask where they went and stayed.

The easiest way to keep in touch is by sending emails with review requests. Of course, you should automate this process because it is impossible to personally mail thousands of guests. MailChimp is a good option for sending semi-personalized emails to your guests. 

Stayflexi has now partnered up with Zapier which also allows it to be connected to Mailchimp seamlessly. The best thing about this email marketing software is that it allows you to understand the level of engagement. You can stop sending emails to the guests who never click on any of your emails. This shortens your pool of potential return customers. 

Send follow-up emails every few weeks. You can also wish your guests on their birthdays and anniversaries to offer them special coupons. The only purpose of this is to plant a little idea into their heads. Which is, they could be saving money if they went on another vacation soon.


Advertise Based on Past Experience

When you are sending these follow-up emails, include something that is bound to make the guest feel nostalgic. For example, if your guest loved spending time in the golf course, in particular, you can always advertise this specifically. If your guest was a foodie, you can include a list of local restaurants. 

This form of advertising does not really feel like malicious targeted marketing. It makes the guest feel nice to have been listened to. When you send these ads based on past experience, it makes your guest feel like they have your attention.  

How to get this information? Easy. Check your StayFlexi POS reports, analytics reports, and the stored user data. There is a mountain of information to pick out clues from. 


Remember Your Guests

Once your guest retention strategies actually work and you have returning guests, what do you do then? You need to make it clear that you honor them specifically as loyal, returning guests. 

But it’s not realistically possible to remember every guest. This is another instance where StayFlexi can come to your rescue. Since StayFlexi is a cloud-based platform it retains years of guest information. So, whenever a returning guest makes a reservation, this is immediately noticed by StayFlexi. 

If you know which of your guests have visited you once, you can also look up their past preferences. Greet them with their favorite drinks and prioritize everything that they like when they arrive. Your guests are bound to return again after this sort of grand welcome. 


Create Loyalty Programs

Guest loyalty programs in hotels are exactly like the mileage rewards that people receive from airlines. There are some frequent travelers who visit the same vacation spots with their families year after year. These are the exact people that you should be targeting for loyalty programs. 

Loyalty programs in hotels usually guarantee some added benefits (like better rooms, free meals, etc.) or room rate discounts. Some guests will opt for the loyalty program simply because of the added perks. 

The key to setting up a good loyalty program is to ensure that earning the reward points is not difficult. Also, you cannot delay gratification in this regard. Unless the guests can see immediate benefits, they are not going to sign up. 

StayFlexi allows you to create a variety of loyalty programs for different sets of your guests. 


Offer What They Missed Out On

Very often, hotels pair up with local businesses to offer entertainment options. For example, your hotel can offer trips to a local farm, a hiking trail, etc. Often, guests cannot avail all of these options in the limited time of their stay. 

A great way to bring guests back is to entice them with these remaining options that they missed out on. Guests will be tempted to come back and try what was left out. You can even offer them small discounts on these facilities to encourage them. This is a guest retention strategy that is bound to work if your entertainment options are truly worth it. 


Opt for a Property Management System

Almost all the points that I mentioned above require a Property Management System. The key to guest retention is that you need to remember your guests’ minute preferences. This information is impossible to store manually. But if your guests make all their purchases and orders through a single platform, it’d be easier to keep track.

This is exactly what StayFlexi allows you to do. It keeps all your data in one place. And makes this data available to you in the form of comprehensive reports. The best part is that you never have to worry about losing this information. StayFlexi requires no backup. You can store decades worth of data and can refer to them whenever you want. 


In Conclusion

None of these guest retention strategies involve huge discounts or expensive marketing tools. The best part is that a Property Management System can pretty much handle the whole process. It does everything for you. From tracking customer behavior to setting up digital POS shops, StayFlexi can do it all. It stores huge chunks of guest information that it can supply to you in the form of comprehensive reports. 

StayFlexi can do all that and much more. Smart Housekeeping, Auto Inventory Management… everything is packed into a single software. 

Do you want to know more about how StayFlexi works? Leave a comment below!

Why does your hotel need good reviews? Because positive reviews influence 68% of potential guests to book a room. Remember, your future guests have no reason to trust your words. You are the hotelier. You have every reason to hype up your property. What do new guests want? Social proof. They want to see good reviews. In this article, I will tell you exactly how to bag amazing reviews. 

Hospitality marketing is just as important as every other process associated with managing a hotel. Even if you can get loyal customers to come back, that’s not enough. No tourist will visit the same location and stay in the same hotel hundreds of times. The core principle that the tourism industry functions around is the thirst for exploration. So, you- a hotelier, have a very transient customer base in your hands. This is exactly why you have to ensure that you keep pulling in new customers. And the first thing that new customers check out is the online reviews.

The problem with reviews is that once you open the door to good reviews, bad reviews get through too. And 40% of your potential customers get discouraged when they see bad reviews. Let’s solve this first before we get to the good hotel reviews. 


How to Avoid Bad Reviews?

You cannot avoid people’s complaints. They are going to have problems with your hotel no matter what you do. So, the solution to this has nothing to do with spending an enormous amount of time and money. What you need to do is solve the guests’ complaints before they permanently become bad reviews. 

Here’s where a Property Management System like StayFlexi becomes indispensable. StayFlexi allows your customers to register their complaints on the hotel website/app through their cell phones. And this can be done during their stay. This especially helps guests who are too awkward to step up to your staff and register a complaint.

If you always keep this extremely accessible pathway of communication with the hotel open, problems will get resolved faster. Guests won’t feel the need to write a bad review after they have checked out. 

Let’s look at an example here:

A guest checks in and feels that the unused room corners have not been dusted properly. This is not a problem that will make the guests rush to the front desk. But it’s a problem that will create a lingering bad impression in the minds of the guests. So, you’ll end up getting a review like: “The hotel is in a fine location but the rooms are slightly unclean.” This is obviously going to turn guests away, no matter how small the complaint is. No one wants to stay in ‘slightly unclean’ rooms. 

Here’s what would happen instead if your hotel had StayFlexi:

It would take the guest very little effort to lodge a complaint  (“Dusty room”) from their mobile phone. The moment the complaint is registered, StayFlexi would notify the staff member who is in charge of that room. This is StayFlexi’s Smart Housekeeping feature. The staff member would come in and solve the problem in no time. And then they’d update the task status from their device. 

See how quickly the problem was resolved? Not only will this leave a lasting good impression on the minds of your guests, but good reviews are also guaranteed. And even if you don’t get good reviews, at least you won’t have bad reviews either. Even if the guest wants to write about this experience, they will probably mention that the problem was solved. This is exactly how StayFlexi turns your bad reviews into good reviews. 


How to Get Good Hotel Reviews from Guests?


Encourage User-Generated Content

User-Generated Content is the best of both worlds. It counts as free marketing and it also counts as social proof. No, I’m not talking about paying influencers to come to shoot videos at your hotel. (That would count as marketing but not as genuine social proof.)

I’m talking about content that is organically generated by users. If you have millennials at your hotel, you can be sure that they are posting content on Instagram already. All you need to do is tap in on this ready-made content which also doubles as review. 

The easiest way to do this is by politely asking your guests to tag your property. This will make sure that these videos and photos turn up collectively when someone clicks on your tag. You can do the same with Facebook, Twitter, and all other social media sites. 

Yes, having reviews on your official website is important. But getting reviews on your social media pages is just as important. You can take screenshots of these reviews and later add them to your website if you want. 

There is another trick that you can employ to encourage User-Generated Content. 

Have something unique in your hotel. This can be anything- big or small. A glass-bottomed swimming pool, an organic herb garden, or just a really beautiful porch with antique chairs. Youngsters flock to spots such as these because they too know that this makes for good content. If your food selection is your specialty, make sure to highlight this. Also, make sure the food photographers all tag your establishment in their photos. 


A Keepsake Gift at the End

I’m not talking about bribes. Yes, providing small incentives (like a discount code or a free dessert) does guarantee good reviews. But this is neither completely ethical, nor sustainable. 

What I am talking about here is a heartfelt gift that will help your guests remember you specifically. Some hotels hand their guests beautiful ‘Thank You’ cards or postcards while leaving.  I once visited an establishment that gifted us fresh mushrooms that had been plucked from their own garden. 

Gifts such as these leave a lasting impression in the minds of the guests. If you end the check-out process with these gifts, guests are more likely to leave good reviews. 

The reason I am mentioning this is that most check-out processes end with a discussion regarding the additional charges. There might be confusion regarding the amount, negotiation, or even outright arguments regarding money. Don’t let your relationship with the guest end on this sour note. Such interactions nullify the entire impression that your hotel created in their minds. 

After the discussion regarding money is over, hand them something meaningful and heartfelt as a sweet farewell gesture.


Target the Right People

This is just common sense. Younger people are more likely to review your property online than older people. So, it is obvious that you should be targeting the millennial crowd for the reviews. As I’ve said before, you probably don’t even need to convince them. They are already posting on social media platforms. 

But that does not mean that you cannot get reviews from the older generation. You just need to change your tactics. Instead of an online review format, hand them little notes where they can write their reviews. 

The perk of asking the older generation to review your property is that they are more likely to take this seriously. How many times have we been asked to post a review by our Amazon delivery man? And we have forgotten each time. The older generation is much less likely to forget if you hand them an actual pen and paper. You can always digitize these reviews and post them on your site later. Plus, no one ever suspects that handwritten reviews are false.


Get the Review During the Stay

Though I have mentioned keepsake gifts before, you should preferably ask for reviews during the guests’ stay. The trick that you have to employ here is fairly simple. Don’t outright ask them for their reviews. Whenever they are returning to their rooms, gently give them reminders like:

“Do let us know if we can improve our services?”

“How are you enjoying your stay until now?”

“Enjoying the trip? Tell us your experience!”

These reminders should come when your guests are retiring to their rooms. Don’t offer these suggestions when they are headed out for a trip. Of course hotel reviews are going to be the last thing on their minds. 

Also, make sure that your guests have easy access to WiFi from their rooms. If you cannot provide guests with stable WiFi, they are not going to bother with leaving a review. 

As I mentioned before, having StayFlexi is a great way to facilitate communication between the guests and the hotel. The guests can directly leave their reviews on the hotel website/app. 


Automate Review Requests

Though this is something that you should definitely do, don’t ignore the other points that I mentioned. Automated review requests ensure that every single guest is reached out to. This is obviously next-to-impossible if you want to personally ask the guests for reviews. 

Automated review requests are sent along with post-check-out ‘Thank You’ mails. If you want to maintain a long-lasting relationship with your customer, you need to remember them. StayFlexi can help you out with this. It retains the records of all your customers so that you can contact them in the future. You can send them automated emails during their birthdays or anniversaries as well. 

Along with this, attach a little review request. Just remember to stop sending these requests once the guest has reviewed the property. 


Answer Your Existing Reviews

Getting new reviews feels great. But why are new guests going to review if they see you never answered the earlier reviews? After all, guests do want to feel heard. 

So, make sure you pay equal attention to all reviews. Personalize your answers by mentioning the name of the guest. Don’t make the replies seem like stock answers. Guests should see that you actually interact with the reviews. This is the only way they’ll be encouraged to leave good reviews as well. 


In Conclusion

Incentives and discounts are often provided in order to get good hotel reviews. But we consciously chose to not include that in this article. Neither do any of the solutions involve spending a huge amount of money or time. That is why we also left out influencer marketing. 

The reason for this exclusion is simple. Your guests are smart. They’ll be able to tell which reviews are fabricated and which aren’t. There’s no point in trying to fool them. 

This article tells you all the practical, affordable ways in which you can convince guests to leave good reviews. Since StayFlexi plays a huge part in earning you good reviews, you might be interested in its specific features. Do leave a comment below to know more about StayFlexi.  

Are you a hotelier who is looking for a one-stop solution to all your hotel management problems? Good news for you: StayFlexi is partnering up with Zapier. This article will explain exactly what this partnership means for you.

For those of you who have not opted for StayFlexi yet, let me quickly explain what it is. StayFlexi is a Property Management System (PMS). A PMS is a software that allows you to automate all the processes of running a hotel. For example, StayFlexi provides you with Auto Inventory Management, Self-Check-In/Check-Out facilities, Smart Housekeeping, etc. With StayFlexi, you can simply hand over the responsibility of all processes that are susceptible to human error. After all, nothing can beat a software at handling tons of consumer data and consistently performing routine processes 24×7. 

But, how does Zapier come into the picture? And how does it help StayFlexi users? 


What is Zapier?

Zapier is a software that automates all processes of running a business that is time-consuming and prone to human error. 

Zapier has something in common with StayFlexi besides the automations. It, too, is the master of all trades. Zapier allows you to do multiple things. It allows you to create workflows and create zaps. You can set conditions and be notified when those conditions are fulfilled. You can also create branched workflows. This basically means you can create algorithms without having to work on the actual coding process.

But there is one particular feature that makes Zapier’s tie-up with StayFlexi so beneficial for you. 


How Will The StayFlexi-Zapier Partnership Help You?

How will you be benefitted from this partnership as a hotelier? This question must have already popped up in your mind. 

Well, as a hotelier, you know very well that there are a hundred other processes to overlook. For example, you have to carry out extensive email marketing and also keep in touch with past guests. You also need to employ a Customer Relationship Management software to keep track of your interactions with the customers. You also need a different software to handle the accounting. Besides these, there was also the question of social media marketing and boosting your SEO. 

You probably already use other software like MailChimp, Hubspot, Quickbooks, etc. for these purposes. The problem is that you previously had to keep track of all of these applications separately. This was an unnecessary hassle because all the apps were essentially using the same pile of data. So, why not interconnect all of this?

This is exactly what Zapier does. It integrates the workings of 3,000+ apps. 

What does this mean for you exactly? Let’s say StayFlexi gets a new booking. A new contact can be automatically connected on Hubspot CRM. This contact will also be added to your MailChimp list so that you can send them automated emails. And, of course, you can also start managing the accounts for this contact on Quickbooks immediately as well. 

All of these processes happen simultaneously because Zapier is the thread that connects all of these apps. It allows you to transfer data from one app to the other seamlessly. Not just this, it allows you to create a workflow through these apps. You can do this by creating Zaps.


How to Create Zaps?

Set a Trigger

For this, you first need to fix a trigger app. If a particular event occurs in this app, an action will be triggered. Let’s say this app is StayFlexi. Then you will need to create a trigger event. For this example, let’s say the trigger event is StayFlexi registering a new booking. Then you need to select the app account that will be connected to the trigger app. And then finally, set up your trigger and test it once to ensure the right data is getting transferred.

Set an Action

This basically means: choose what is to be done when the trigger is activated. In this example, that means deciding what is to be done when you receive a booking. So, you need to select an action app. Let’s say you want to automatically create a Hubspot CRM account when there is a new booking. So, the action app will be Hubspot and the action event will be the creation of a Hubspot CRM account. 

Add More Actions or Filters: 

The creation of your Zap is almost complete. You can add further actions if you want to. It is not necessary for the Zap to be a two-step process. It can be a multilevel, multipronged process as well. For example, you can further create a Quickbooks account and add the customer to your MailChimp list. Additionally, you can also add filters to ensure that the Zap is triggered selectively. You can delay the action between certain Zaps if it is required, as well. (The maximum number of steps you can add in one Zap is 100.)

Turn on the Zap

Now all you need to do is name the Zap and turn it on! The automated process will immediately start. You can check all your Zap activity in your Zap History.


In Conclusion

This truly is the one-stop solution that you have been dreaming about. You can handle all your operations from a single platform. Marketing, accounting, inventory management, and SEO are all tied up. So, you don’t have to keep track of a dozen apps separately. 

StayFlexi already brought all your hotel automations to one platform. The Zapier partnership ensures that all your other departments are closely connected as well.

Want to know more about how this partnership can help you as a Stayflexi customer? Leave a comment below. 

You cannot avoid guests screaming at you about unclean rooms or no hot water if you are a hotelier. No matter how clean your hotel is or how much you spend on heating water, you are going to get complaints. But having a jaded attitude towards common guest complaints can be disastrous when it comes to retaining customers. Yes, the complaints might be repetitive. But you still need to solve them each time you encounter them with the same level of enthusiasm. 

Also, predictably common complaints in hotels are way better than the unforeseen ones. You can at least have a pre-formed response to common complaints. But knowing how to resolve them can help you with unforeseen problems as well. If you are well-versed with customer behavior and complaint resolution, it’s going to help you in the long run.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the most common complaints that hoteliers get:

Common Complaints in Hotels and How to Resolve Them


1. Unclean Rooms

When you receive this complaint, don’t immediately get defensive. Telling the guest that the room cannot possibly be unclean doesn’t help. Of course, the guest must have found something dissatisfactory about the room to have lodged that complaint.

The first step is to promptly acknowledge the complaint and apologize. This is a key facet of complaint resolution in customer service. Don’t hesitate to respond or your guest will think that you are not paying due attention to their plight. And do apologize even when you don’t need to. If you have been in customer service long enough, you will know this tactic. You have to start with “I’m sorry” even if you plan to disagree with your customer later. It simply reassures the customer that they are being heard. But how to really solve this problem?

How to Resolve This Issue?

The hygiene expectations you have from your hotel might be really high. But ultimately, you are functioning through a human housekeeping force. And these workers might make mistakes or be neglectful just like all humans do. This is why you cannot automatically assume that the guest’s complaint is unjustified. 

Now you have to locate the reason for which the room has been left unclean. The most common reason is that the housekeeping staff have to undertake a heavy load of work just after check-out. They have, at the very most, two hours to clean the room before the next check-in happens. And all the work gets concentrated in this two-hour timespan when your hotel has fixed check-in and check-out timings. 

The first way you can solve this is by having flexible check-in and check-out timings. Wondering how you will manage your inventory? Don’t worry. Just opt for a Property Management System like StayFlexi. StayFlexi ensures that the entire process of check-in and check-out is automated. Plus, it also manages your inventory for you through its automation. No human involvement is required at all. 

Not just that. StayFlexi can help you out with your housekeeping problems in two other ways. 

  • You can make automated chart rosters every week with its Smart Housekeeping feature. These staff rosters are evenly balanced so that no one person has to bear a huge workload. The work is also evenly distributed throughout the day and across the week. Also, it allows your guests to lodge their complaints directly into the mobile app/website of your hotel. The moment the complaint is lodged, the housekeeping staff responsible for that particular room is notified. After the complaint is resolved, they can update the task status on the app/website. This way you can always know who is to be held accountable if something goes wrong. 
  • The Self-Check-In feature of StayFlexi allows guests to check-in hours before they actually step into the hotel. This provides the staff with extra time to prepare their rooms according to their specifications and preferences. 

2. Rude Staff

As I have mentioned just now, you cannot rule out human error. Similarly, you cannot rule out human unpredictability either. No matter how much you train your staff, you cannot always predict everything about their behavior. You also cannot keep firing staff members because there is an acute labor shortage in this COVID-19 era. Plus, there might be times when it’s the guest who is to blame. 

How to Resolve This?

The best way to resolve this is to reduce guest-staff interactions as much as possible. You might feel like this is a compromise on the hospitality standards. But guest behavior and expectations have drastically changed in recent years. And the COVID-19 pandemic has consolidated this change: Guests want reduced interaction with staff. 

This is why most of the hotel processes started becoming automated in the first place. If you opt for StayFlexi’s Self-Check-In feature, your guest need not interact with the receptionist at all. The guests also don’t need to search for a staff member to lodge their complaints. They can directly do so on the app/website. 

This, of course, has an added benefit for you. There is no reason to hire a 24×7 front desk receptionist at all. Neither do you have to hire a ton of people who are great at customer service. StayFlexi helps you cut down on labor costs by a lot. 


3. Food Options Unavailable

A lot of people have specialized diets now. So, you have to make provisions for guests if they are vegans or are on a paleo or keto diet. One of the easiest ways to earn a guest’s hatred is to not have anything they can eat on the menu. 

How to Resolve This?

Know your guests’ requirements before they arrive at the hotel. Ask them specific questions about their diet. One of the biggest perks of having StayFlexi is that it allows you to personalize your guests’ experience. Personalization is the key to a good hotel experience. The guest should not be greeted as one of the thousands who stop by your hotel. But rather as an individual with their own specific taste. 

Right when the guest books a room, send a questionnaire with the confirmation mail. Allow them to specify their dietary requirements beforehand so that you can be prepared. Even if your hotel does not provide those options usually, being flexible for a guest doesn’t hurt. You are guaranteed to get loyal customers out of this if you do it right. 


4. Unexpected Charges

Don’t hide your prices. This is one of the most common mistakes that hotels make. To make their rooms seem affordable, they hide a lot of associated costs. This is guaranteed to turn guests away once the unexpected charges start piling up. The worst part is that they don’t realize that these costs are being added till the check-out process. This is when they are provided a bill that is bound to shock them. 

How to Resolve This?

Make your charges crystal clear even before the booking happens. Do the guests need to pay extra for sightseeing? Do they need to pay for the food? An easy way to do this is by explicitly stating which facilities are complimentary. Then you can simply add that anything that is not on this list is chargeable. You should also be open to answering questions from your guests before they book the room. Your customer service shouldn’t start when the booking occurs and end when the guest leaves the hotel premises.


5. Noise Complaints

This one is a bit tricky to handle. This is because the noisy neighbors and the people who are lodging the complaint are both guests. They have paid an equal amount to enjoy their stay. And ‘enjoyment’ is subjective. So, it might mean chattering into the night for some and silent stargazing for the others. You cannot afford to offend either party.

How to Resolve this?

Try offering different solutions to both parties. You can offer the noisy party an option to enjoy the open air of the garden. (The garden area being sufficiently far removed from the rooms.) Of course, this must be done with great tact. Or, you can offer the complainants some complementary services or a bottle of wine as compensation. 

The above solution is only valid if your hotel does not have any pre-decided Quiet Hour policies. If it does, then highlight it even before the booking is made. If the guests know about this clause and still continue causing a ruckus, you can change tactics. If this is the case, then you can inform them of your hotel’s policies, politely but firmly. 


6. Lack of Hot Water

If your hotel is situated in a colder environment, your utility bill must be sky-high. Still, it’s inevitable that at certain points in time you will run out of hot water. And for a guest who has driven miles to reach here, this is a very justified reason for annoyance. 

How to Resolve This?

Having a Smart Shower system really helps. Some people have a tendency to have overly long showers. Of course, doing so will not just deplete water but also prevent the other guests from getting hot water. Smart Showers run for a set frame of time. It gives the guests a gentle reminder before the hot water is automatically turned off. 

You might think that guests will be annoyed with this, but they aren’t. It saves them the effort to get the water temperature absolutely right as well. Smart showers don’t just save water, it reduces your utility bill to a large extent. Plus, you can also opt for the sustainable, eco-friendly hotel tag if you have smart lighting and smart showers. 


7. Lack of Entertainment Options

A lot of entertainment options like the gym or the swimming pool are closed with COVID-19 restrictions in mind. And a lot of guests might complain about this once they turn up at your hotel. Not just this. They might be disappointed that you don’t have the facility that they expected you to have.

How to Resolve This?

If any of your entertainment facilities are closed, make sure that your hotel website and all the OTAs have this information. The guest must be informed of this before they make a booking. Also, inform the guests about this in your confirmation email. Never try to hide facts to lure guests in. Complains are bound to start pouring in later. 

Second, know what your guests are expecting. I know this sounds impractical but it’s nothing that a good questionnaire cannot solve. In the interim period between booking and check-in, you have to stay in touch with your guests. This ensures that the guests won’t forget about your hotel and cancel. Utilize this period to ask them questions regarding what entertainment options they are expecting. If you don’t have these options, inform them immediately. If they cancel early, there is no harm done. You can get another booking. Hoodwinking a guest into thinking that your hotel suits their needs when it doesn’t, never pays in the long run. 


8. Complimentary Guest Supplies Missing

Every guest expects miniature bottles of shampoos, body washes, etc. Now, where this list of complimentary items stops is unclear. Do you also provide bathrobes, slippers, a complimentary bottle of wine? The moment something on this neverending list is missing, you get a complaint. 

How to Resolve This?

Just like I mentioned in the last point, know from beforehand where your guests’ expectations lie. Ask them specifically before their arrival what they are expecting. This does not mean that you have to offer them everything they are asking for, for free. You just have to know their list of expectations to inform them what is chargeable and what isn’t. If it’s something inexpensive, add it to the complimentary list of items. It’s bound to please your guests. If it is something expensive, inform the guest that this can be arranged for, but that it is chargeable. 


9. Didn’t Live Up to the Expectations

I’ll share a personal anecdote about this. I once witnessed a fellow guest lodging this complaint to the hotel manager: 

“The hotel website promised a beautiful view of the sunrise. It’s all rainy and cloudy.”

You can be tempted to laugh at this. Or just say, “I can’t control the weather.” But do suppress these urges. 

You will get a plethora of non-sensible complaints if you spend enough time as a hotelier. Even in this situation, the best course of action is to start with “I’m sorry.” 

Unfortunately, there is no set way to resolve this. Your hotel will always disappoint some people in some unexpected and uncontrollable ways. In such situations, all you can do is polish up on your best customer service practices. The key to conflict resolution is to not lose your cool and not to take the guest’s complaint personally. 

In Conclusion 

There are many problems on this list that a PMS like StayFlexi can easily solve. But there are some, like the last one, that has no sensible solution. But, in most situations, the problem can be dealt with by having a deep understanding of individual preferences. Every guest is looking for a personalized hotel experience. And StayFlexi allows you to offer exactly that. After all, you cannot disappoint guests when you know exactly what they want. 

The Smart Housekeeping feature, along with the Self-Check-In and Check-Out feature, is also a great perk. Do you wish to know more about StayFlexi’s features? Leave a comment below! 

How to influence travellers and boost hotel bookings via social media?

2 out of 5 millennials agree that they are influenced by the travel posts that they see on social media. Not just this. 97% of guests share travel photos on Facebook, Instagram, etc. With those stats, it’s obviously mandatory for you to learn how to use social media to boost your bookings. 

This article deals with the ways through which you can influence travelers and boost hotel bookings via social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the 3 social media sites that have been focused on here. Besides this, you can also market via visual platforms like Pinterest. Youtube is also great for posting long-form video content. But this article provides alternatives to professionally shot videos. 

I will discuss the nuances of perfecting the art of social media marketing through the following points. 


11 Ways To Influence Travellers and Boost Hotel Bookings Via Social Media:


Go live

Going live is a great way to show off every aspect of your property. Also, if you’re going live, you have an enormous time limit. Facebook live videos can last up to 8 hours. Instagram live videos do have a shorter time limit but you can easily start a new live. 

You might be wondering, “Why go live instead of shooting a video?”

There are two reasons for this. While videos do have obvious merit, videos are also heavily edited. Videos don’t show every nook and cranny of your hotel because you can easily edit out any unsavory bits. And the audience is well-aware of this. 

When they are deciding whether or not to pay for a room, they want to test the real experience. With a live, your potential guests can be sure that you are not hiding any aspect of your property. 

The second reason for going live is- you can read the comments of your audience flowing in, in real-time. You don’t have to respond later as you have to do with a video. 

Just received a comment that says, “Is this hotel close to the sea”? Why not walk right from the hotel porch to the sea to show them how close it is? You can address your audience’s concerns immediately by going live.


Focus on Image Content 

This is mostly an Instagram marketing technique. Instagram and Pinterest are mostly visual social media sites. These are great platforms to showcase how aesthetic the surrounding scenery of your hotel is. 

A huge portion of millennials, justifiably, are influenced by the photos themselves. If the scenery is not your main selling point, focus on the pristine interiors of the hotel. Anything that is Instagrammable, highlight it. It might be an Alice’s Tea Party-themed dining room or a vintage grand piano. If it is Instagrammable, it is sure to go viral.

Also, did you know that our brain can process an image 60 times faster than it can process text? This is exactly why you should focus on advertising your hotel through image-based content instead of text-based content. The aesthetics of the travel location or of the hotel is the main concern of most guests. Huge chunks of written content have no value in this regard.


Ask guests to tag the location

This is directly related to the last point. When people click on the tagged location in an Instagram photo, it does not lead them to the official page. It leads them to all such photos of other guests where the same location has been tagged. 

This is an incredible spot for gaining social proof. Simply getting people to tag your hotel as their location is incredibly useful. This creates a collection of User-Generated Content that everyone has access to. They don’t even have to focus on the features of the hotel itself. Just tagging the location is enough to prove that they had a good time at that location. 

Creating a unique hashtag for yourself serves the same purpose. Linking all your social media accounts is also very important. This way you can simply cross-post the same content instead of doing it over and over again.


Make short reels

When it comes to images-based content, short is always better. Instagram reels are solely designed to focus on the visual aesthetics of a place in a fun format. This is the benefit of advertising through reels instead of still images. Reels show the guest what they can be actively doing in that hotel or travel location. 

Instagram is also one of the fastest-growing social media platforms now because of its reel feature. The best part about reels is that it is the happy medium between an image and a video. It’s more animated than a still image and it’s way easier to shoot than a full-length video. 


Add to your Highlights list

Stories on Instagram or Facebook are exactly like short lives or reels. There’s only one difference, they last for a day. 

The thing is- you can make them permanent. Not just that. Highlighting them also sticks them front and center of your Instagram page. Highlights are the first pieces of content that a visitor checks out when they visit your page. You can make separate highlight sections for your promotional offers, guest reviews, additions to food menus, etc.


Keep up with the chatter

Let’s get to Twitter finally. Twitter is not a visual platform primarily and it also has a strict character limit. This is why Twitter might not be the best place for you to post anything but promotional offers and images. 

But, Twitter has a completely separate significance when it comes to influencing travelers. Ask yourself this, if a customer has a complaint, which social media platform are they most likely to complain on? 

Yes, the answer is Twitter. Twitter is a social media site where people engage in active discussion. So, addressing the complaint publicly will prove that you are not afraid of being held accountable. 

But there’s a way of avoiding social media platforms completely when it comes to bad reviews. Customers only complain on public platforms when they don’t receive any answer from the business owner. And this itself often happens because of an act of negligence on your part. The guest is often confused about where to register the complaint so that it reaches the required target. 

This is why having a Property Management System is so useful. PMS is a cloud-based single platform through which all the processes of the hotel are managed. It doesn’t just provide you with more control over the hotel management processes. It also gives the guests way more control over their hotel stay.

For example, with StayFlexi they can directly register their complaint on their mobile hotel app. The staff members in charge of the room will be notified of the complaint and they will immediately take action. If the complaint is not addressed, there is still proof of the fact that it reached the correct people. In such a situation, you- the hotelier, will have a clear idea about whom to hold accountable for the issue. 


Invest in influencers

Yes, User-Generated Content is extremely beneficial in boosting hotel bookings. But you might need to bring out the big guns occasionally. Travel bloggers and influencers have immense followings. So, employing them once in a while is not necessarily a terrible idea. If one of their videos goes viral, you will have both travelers and more user-generated content flowing in. 

The thing about influencers is that they depend on hotel owners like you as much as you depend on them. So, you might not need to comp off their entire stay. Maybe just provide them with some attractive discounts and offers. 

Influencer marketing works brilliantly for the millennial population. A brilliant example of influencer marketing done right is Wanaka, New Zealand. This was a relatively unknown location till the tourism board started inviting influencers. This one decision led to a 14% growth in tourism in a very short span of time. 


Consider paid advertising

The first thing you need to do is have a business page on every social media site. This means that the guests should be able to start the process of reservation immediately after browsing. They should also be able to contact the hotel easily. So, make sure the hotel website address and the phone number are clearly visible at the very top. 

Paid advertising on social media is not a bad idea if you have the money to spare. Facebook and Instagram are especially useful for paid marketing since you can set up targeted marketing campaigns.

Now, with regards to targeted social media campaigns, you yourself have to understand your guest preferences before you start. This is something that StayFlexi can help you with. StayFlexi helps you digitize the entire process of interacting with your guests and storing their personal details. And it also lets you store extremely valuable data that you can later use to understand customer behavior. This is why StayFlexi is also extremely beneficial when it comes to personalizing the hospitality measures towards guests. 


In Conclusion

Social media marketing takes way more creativity than any other form of marketing. But this is the go-to method if you want to influence millennial travelers and boost your hotel room bookings.

Did you know that millennials go on 5.6 trips per year on an average? This is way higher than the 4 trips taken by Gen X and 3.5 by the boomer generation. This is exactly why you need to start catering to the youth. 

Millennials also prefer limited interactions with the hotel staff. This is why almost all of them prefer to interact with the hotel via their smartphones. You cannot do without a PMS like StayFlexi if you need to satisfy this generation. 

Do you want to learn more about how StayFlexi caters to millennials? Do leave a comment below!