More and more, hoteliers are assessing their current tech stack to identify areas of opportunities within their hotel software tools to better suit their needs in today’s modern hospitality landscape. Hotel events are complicated, the event space is stuffy, budgets are rigid, and the bottom line is hospitality are service experts, not tech geniuses. Because of this, many hotels are still using old, outdated legacy technology that simply can’t keep up with today’s needs and demands.
Hotels and events have scaled in complexity, sophistication and demand, meaning these legacy systems don’t have the capabilities to perform in today’s setting. New hotel software tools have been emerging and are producing technology that’s easy, user-friendly, integrated and are customer focussed. You hear that? That’s a revolution in the hotel tech space.
But with all these new, shiny hotel software tools, what do you really need? We’ve outlined the five must-have hotel software tools that will help you maximize groups and event sales, make the most of your budget, and generate a strong ROI. Continue reading!
5 Hotel Software Tools Your Hotel Needs For Groups And Events Sales
1 – Venue Sourcing Platforms
Essentially, a venue sourcing platform links planners directly to hotels and venues. Think ‘Airbnb’ but for meetings. Event planners submit RFPs (request for proposals) to hotels and venues, which then attract leads through property listings that include elements like photos, services, and floor plans. These platforms provide a direct connection to networks of thousands of event planners and give hotels a huge boost in exposure and visibility.
Why is this tool important?
This tool is one of the most important hotel software tools because of its ability to significantly reduce group acquisition costs. Most planners start their search online, so meeting your audience where they are is key. Sourcing platforms also act like a CRM and help properties to build long-lasting relationships with planners. Repeat platform visitors are more likely to submit RFPs repeatedly.
Tips to get the most out of a venue sourcing platform:
– High-resolution gallery: When’s the last time you booked a hotel without looking at their photos? Never, right? The right photos will help planners visualize their event in your space. It’s helpful to include photos of your space setup for specific events (like a wedding or banquet). And make sure their high quality photos, it’s their first impression and grainy photos will not get you on their shortlist.
– High-quality videos: Like images, including videos will help planners visualize their event in your space but in motion. This is particularly important as hybrid and virtual events are becoming more the norm. Planners may not have the chance to physically visit the space so providing as much visual representation of your property, the better.
– Detailed floor plans: Including this will be a huge differentiator and help event planners with the granular details of their event. Make sure to include details like dimensions and fixtures. You’ll also want to find a platform that allows you to include floor plans.
– Capacity information: Outlining capacity details and limitations will save planners time from having to message to ask you. Worse, they may just skip your property entirely, from simply not being able to find capacity details. Capacity is a huge criteria when deciding on a property so don’t leave this one out.
– Testimonies and reviews: We don’t know about you, but we typically ask our friends if they’ve tried a new restaurant before we try it ourselves. Same concept can be applied here. Having some of your best customers advocate their past experiences of your property offers proof of what you have to offer.
– Information on nearby attractions: Use the location of your property as a selling point and help planners provide an authentic, local experience for their guests
– Mobile-optimized content: Mobile users submit RFPs at a quicker rate than desktop users. Make sure that you have a mobile-friendly copy and scalable photography to maximize the effectiveness of your profile.
By including these elements in your profile, you’ll have a leg up on the competition. Data shows that listings with these elements show as much as a 13% conversion rate from listing to RFP.
2 – RFP Software
RFP software is a must-have in your hotel tech stack. They help sales teams to identify high-value prospects and respond to them more quickly and efficiently. RFP platforms automate lead scoring and allow hotels to input criteria to grade RFPS against as they come in. Properties can also easily create RFP response templates and forms to efficiently communicate responses and personalization across a variety of segments. This whole process used to take anywhere from hours to days, and RFP solution cuts all that down into mere moments.
Why do hotels need RFP software?
Hotels experience a massive influx of RFPs (with the help of venue sourcing platforms), which makes it difficult to identify high-value leads out of the whole batch and respond in time. 75% of proposals are won by one out of the first five responses. Time really is money here. RFP software helps reduce response times from two or more weeks to under 24 hours, which have now become the brand standard for most leading chains.
How to get the most out of your RFP software tool:
– Consider options outside of the room block: While room blocks are highly lucrative, aiming exclusively for room blocks have a negative impact on hotel bottom lines because they dismiss the potential for ancillary revenue. In 2019 alone, $30 billion of group revenue across the industry resulted in $100 billion dollars of ancillary spend. The numbers don’t lie here.
– Identify high-potential group opportunities: The cost to acquire, needs, timelines, and profitability varies among different group segments. All of these elements paint a picture of your property’s revenue potential. Identifying high-value groups through your property’s historical data will let you better focus your resources and prioritize outreach appropriately. Start with these three segments that you most likely already know, and then get more granular from there.
– Corporate: high average daily rates, but less lead time in general.
– Associations: less likely to host a catered event and rarely book guest rooms. They also typically book farther in advance meaning that you could miss out on higher-margin groups.
– Government: strict budgets which doesn’t leave much room for upsell.
3 – Revenue Management Tool
A revenue management tool helps hotels get the right product to the right group segment at the right price. This hotel software tool supports group forecasting, pricing optimization, total guest value calculations and real-time reporting.
Why do hotels need a revenue management tool?
Large group business has complex demands, and continues to get more complex as time goes on. Because ancillary business is an important part of the equation, it’s necessary to get the right balance and mix of the two segments for an effective revenue management strategy. A revenue management tool enables smart segmentation through total guest value, which gives hoteliers a more nuanced approach when determining total value.
How to get the most out of your revenue management software tool:
– Consider micro-segments when making decisions
Understanding segments effectively means getting into the deep layers of group segments to find true revenue potential. But being too specific or too broad with your approach can alter your results and negatively impact your bottom line. Being too specific may make you miss out on large sections of the market. However, being too general can leave you trying to serve too many clients without enough focus.
– Focus on your channel mix
Many travellers find your hotel through a third party site, like an OTA or blog and then visit your hotel website to book directly. Knowing where your traffic is coming from is helpful for hotels to understand their channel presence, which channels they’re in, and the total value of a healthy overall channel mix.
4 – Hotel Sales & Catering System
A hotel S&C system helps properties to streamline an effective event execution by aligning all the cross-functional teams involved. From sales teams that are managing the pipeline to the electronic signing of proposals to the actual carrying out of the event or creating the BEO, an S&C helps to automate these many different tasks and workflows all in one place and provides trackable data that allows team to stay on top of the complexities of the event.
Other features may include:
– Event & catering management
– Document templates
– Integrations with other hotel software such as RFP tools or PMS systems
– Reporting and Analytics
– Digital invoicing
– Hotel group sales
– Smart Mail
– Chain Management
– Mobile App
Why do hotels need an S&C system?
Hotel S&C systems help streamline communication across the organization, ensures seamless execution and helps to build and maintain relationships. Many event planners report that bad communication is one of the top reasons they would choose another venue, a hotel S&C is becoming increasingly necessary. With the meetings industry becoming more complex, your goal should be to make the lives of those working in events easier. Give them the ability to work in real-time with clients to streamline communication and improve customer satisfaction.
How to get the most out of your hotel S&C:
– Check for integrations that work with your stack
You’ll want your systems to play nice with each other. More often than not, a hotel S&C system will already have an integration with some of your other major hotel software tools as a part of the software already or a simple add- on. Utilize these integrations to get the most out of your systems.
– Track your core metrics
Ask yourself this: Are your core revenue data, sales metrics, and KPI for group sales and venue bookings being reported within the S&C? And is your organization following and tracking these numbers? Your hotel S&C is a platform that allows your salespeople to be more productive and efficient.
Tracking and reporting metrics in your CRM allows you to:
– Have a comprehensive overview of your revenue
– Help you identify potential weak points that may be hindering your hotel from growth and success
– Easily generate your core sales metrics and KPIs that are present in your CRMs dashboard/reports and they can be tracked and adopted all over the company
– Allows you to standardize performance metrics and understand how your hotel is currently performing
5 – Hotel Marketing Software
Hotel marketing software helps hotels to reach event planners with their product. These systems help planners to create SEO optimized content targeted for specific channels. Some systems also assist with multi-channel distribution and allow hotels to diversify their channel mix and cater their approach to each channel, putting their best foot forward in each. Reporting and analytics allow teams to get informed on how to adjust segmenting and targeting for even more effective marketing campaigns going forward.
Why do hotels need a marketing system?
Hotels need to make sure they’re present on the channels that planners are on to gain maximum exposure. Because the demographics of events and planners are becoming more complex each day, reaching the right segment is also becoming more complex as a result. So how do you reach and target the high-value micro-segments in a group like this? That’s where a hotel marketing software comes in.
How to get the most out of your marketing platform:
– Mobile-first marketing: Forbes estimates that by 2021, mobile ecommerce will account for 54% of all online sales.
– Consistency is key: Maintaining a consistent brand presence across communications is shown to result in higher conversion on average.
– Market to the planners: Marketing to your event planners by creating planner resources as a means of marketing, attracting new business as partners in experience creation.
The amount of technology that’s becoming available is a great step in the right direction for hospitality but can also be a little overwhelming. These select hotel software tools are a great place to start because they’ve been hand-selected to provide the most benefits for any property that is looking to strategically adopt a new solution. These solutions cut down on admin time, increase productivity and efficiency, streamline many of your processes, and enable your property to drive group revenue, ultimately driving up your bottom line.