In this article, we’ll cover how hotel loyalty programs can help drive revenue as part of your greater sales and marketing strategy.
This time around, we sat down with Mr. Ulrich Pillau , who is the founder and CEO of Apaleo, where he works with a team of developers, creating the next-generation cloud platform for the hospitality industry.
Mr. Pillau’s extensive experience in the hospitality industry has given him a unique view of its inner workings – and we are grateful that he took time from his busy schedule to answer some of our burning questions.
We asked him how to increase sales for a hotel for someone who’s brand new – a group sales manager or an owner.
Here is a quick summary of our discussion:
Out With The Old, In With The New
Our talk started with the topic of prospecting sales to which Mr. Ulrich Pillau had to say that the whole industry is in a state of transition. Insiders can feel that a shift is happening – as professionals move from the old ways, lines, queues, and paper-based invoices to new methods of process automation and online services.
He explained that travelers today want to quick check-ins and to avoid long lines entirely. They want their mobile devices to handle everything, from booking and room key collection to billing invoices and payments.
Lead acquisition has also changed entirely as face-to-face representation has become redundant – businesses that aren’t keeping up with these developments aren’t likely to last long in this highly competitive industry.
What Do You Do If You Start From Scratch?
The first step would be to build a presence for your hotel through brand marketing.
It involves making decisions about important aspects such as which type of guests you want to attract, and whether you’d be catering to individuals or groups.
After this, you need to take all this information and build it up around technology that allows you to run your hotel as efficiently as possible.
For instance, your lobby is not an old reception desk lobby anymore, but it’s built around a work lifestyle with coffee shops and lounges where guests can easily check-in, order and pay through their electronic gadgets. There is absolutely no need for them to wait in a long line.
Hence, the people you hire aren’t mere receptionists, but your ambassadors who help ease adaptation to new technology for the uninitiated – while also interacting with and supporting your guests.
Making Changes To Your Hotel Loyalty Programs
The old ways to attain loyal customers through the points system will soon go out of style though big hotel chains and airlines still use it.
If you’re a new chain, your loyalty programs should be planned to attract the younger customer base. You could:
- Offer your guests gifts and rewards if they book rooms through your website.
- Offer them rooms at discounts or at the same price initially with options to upgrade later.
Hotels require a modern-tech platform that supports these new methods that older PMS can’t because they are incredibly out-dated. There are some excellent examples of new upscale apps around, which have incredible value for hotels and hotel chains.
According to Mr. Ulrich’s vision, the future will be entirely open tech platforms where hotels can create technology stacks themselves – they choose features and integrations best suited to their needs and incorporate these into their system.
Instead of old legacy PMS which many hotels still use today, you could opt for more advanced systems that will help your hotel acquire new leads and help sell those empty rooms/meeting spaces online.
That’s what the customers want today – an innovative app that lets them put it all together in a shopping basket, proceed to checkout and pay for everything online. They wish to avoid the old ways where one had to book everything separately.
Open tech platforms also give an edge to smaller businesses that can’t invest millions into technology and advertisements like big chains, such as Marriott and Hilton.
Introduce Cloud Management
In the old days, hotels would pay upfront for a management system. The vendors would then fit your hotel in their time slot over the next couple of months, for installation – it would take weeks after your hefty payment to get a PMS installed.
Also, the initial tests to determine whether it works for your hotel came after installation, which meant you couldn’t tell if it was a bad idea to invest in a system until after you had paid for it. And in case your investment didn’t fit your hotel’s needs, that’d be a lot of money down the drain.
But with the modern cloud management systems like Event Temple, hotels can create an account on their cloud server within minutes. Not only does this let them try out these systems initially for free, but they can also integrate new third-party apps into their management system later if they wish to try them out for their hotel.
In short, only when they are satisfied with it, do they implement the system into their hotel management and start to pay its subscription fees.
At the very end, it’s important to note that for hoteliers, technology is changing rapidly. There are innovations on the horizon every day that can help you with guest communication, increasing revenue, etc.
So the key is to have entirely open platforms that allow hotels to put their tech stock together whenever they want, at no additional cost.
This is what Apaleo has tried to achieve, as well – according to Mr. Ulrich, “It is the absolute best lean, cloud PMS that is around: easy to implement, easy to use but no more than that.”