Bitcoin Payments for Hotel Bookings

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The digital currency Bitcoin is growing in popularity. A few days ago Expedia was the first mayor online travel agency to announce they accept Bitcoin transactions.

What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a decentralized virtual currency introduced as open-source software in 2009. Payments work peer-to-peer without a central repository or single administrator.

According to the Wall Street Journal Bitcoin has grown massively over the past 18 months now being accepted by more than 60,000 retailers world-wide. Still the price continues to be highly volatile.

How can businesses collect Bitcoin payments?
Businesses selling goods or services over the internet can use a Bitcoin merchant solution to accept payments in Bitcoin. These usually opt to have Bitcoins converted to USD or other currencies automatically eliminating the risk of holding a virtual currency.

Why not let your guest pay for their accommodation in Bitcoin?
Beds24 gives innovative hosts the option to collect Bitcoin payments. The Bitcoin payment processor bitpay is the technology platform for processing transactions. With bitpay merchants do not need to hold Bitcoins. bitpay will instantly can convert Bitcoin payments straight back into any mayor currency.

Other ways to collect payments from guests
If you are not ready to for a digital currency – most common payment methods are still credit cards, Paypal or simply cash upon arrival.

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Beds24 offers multiple options to collect deposits:

  • Accept Credit Card payments using one of the connected payment gateways.
  • Collect payments with Paypal.
  • Securely Collect Credit Card Details and process the payment through your bank or merchant account.
  • Ask guests for bank transfer or to post a cheque or other.
  • Accept Bitcoin.
If you don’t have an account you are welcome to use the free trial to test without obligation.

Increase Revenue: Distribution & Channel Management

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Fifteen years ago bookings were generated through travel agencies, write ups or ads in publications, repeat-customers and referrals. Today travelers go on-line and search the web. Of course, repeat customers and referrals are still important, but in a world where billions are connected to the Internet, on-line marketing channels are the dominant driver for business.

According to PhoCusWright’s predictions OTA gross bookings in Europe will see double-digit growth through 2015 then representing almost half (41%) of on-line bookings. The OTA market is driven by fierce competition among global heavyweights spending enormous budgets on SEM to be on top of search results.

Own website bookings are most desirable but increasing distribution by listing on third-party sales sites is the easiest way to bost bookings. To do this effectively it is essential to keep inventory and rates accurate.

A channel manager (Beds24 being a leading example) allows accommodation providers to manage availability and rates across multiple online booking sites from a single easy-to-use web page. When a booking occurs on any site the system will automatically adjust inventory across all channels. This maximises the chance of being booked without risk of overbooking.

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Benefits of using a channel manager:

  • Elimination of double bookings
  • Accurate availability and price parity on on-line booking channels
  • A single change updates multiple websites minimising staff and training
  • Adding additional OTA’s causes little or no additional effort for each channel

Connections can be one-way (single) or two-way (reciprocal). Beds24 has certified two-way connections with leading booking channels and is certified TripConnect partner. Visit our website for a complete list of connected booking channels.

Increase Hotel and B&B Revenue: Gift Vouchers

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Gift vouchers for hotels & B&B#sThe popularity of voucher codes has rapidly grown over the past years. This is because they are an easy and flexible way of promotion. The hospitality industry is no excepetion. Many hotels already use vouchers and discount codes.

With people thinking about what to give at the moment it might be a good time to give the topic a thought. Popular uses for lodgings are:

 

Selling gift vouchers
Selling hotel gift vouchers can be a real boost to your revenue. Especially around the holiday season when people are looking for special presents.

Rewarding loyal guests with a gift voucher
Say thank you with a voucher for a free extra or even an extra night.

Promotional discount codes
Everyone loves a bargain. This is why discount codes can really drive bookings. Use discounts to boost direct bookings to maximize occupancy when you need it. Or promote bookings from specific sources.

Corporate rates
Discount codes can be used to offer special rates for certain customers.

Of course discounts lower the margin. But it basically is a from of acquisition cost. And if used wisely the benefit of any promotion should outweigh its cost.

We have upgraded the Beds24 discount code feature to offer even more flexibility for discount codes and gift vouchers. If you don’t have an account you are welcome to use the free trial to test the system without obligation.

Commission Free Online Bookings Without Your Own Website

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You don’t need your own website to accept online bookings. Check out these two easy options to sell online without paying commission:

Use Your Booking Page as Website
The design and the content of Beds24′s booking page is fully customisable. You can add custom content to use it as a stand-alone web presence.

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  • Add pictures or your logo – even picture galeries or sliders
  • Display texts like information, descriptions, policies
  • Embed a map
  • If you have one use your own URL or a custom Beds24 URL with your name
  • Offer multiple languages
  • The mobile friendly design adjusts to the device the guest uses

Links in your Emails, websites like local directories or other marketing activities can be used to direct guests to your page.

Visit www.beds24.com/paradisebnb or www.beds24.com/sunshineinn to get an idea what you can do.

Make Facebook Your Booking Channel
The Facebook app lets your guests see your availabilty and book directly on your Facebook page. A BOOK NOW Button opens your availabilty calendar directly in Facebook. Have a look at our Facebook page to see a live example.

All you need is sign up for an account with Beds24, set up your rates, inventory and booking page and you are ready to accept commission free online bookings. Use the Free Trial to test without obligation.

Tripadvisor Transforms to Booking Channel: Don’t Miss Out

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There has been alot of tweeting, blogging and facebooking about Tripadvisor´s new service recently. It is sheduled to start in September. Here a summary of the facts:

taTripadvisor Connect will allow independent hotels and B&B´s to display real-time availability and online booking on their Tripadvisor profile and let them participate in the hotel price comparison search.

So far these  services have been only available to major online travel agencies and hotel chains while independent accommodation owners had no direct connectivity.

What does it mean for independent lodgings??
Connect give accommodation owners the ability to manage their online promotion on themselves. BUT if you don’t accept direct online bookings you will miss out.

What do accommodation owners need to participate?
To use it you will need to be a registered and verified owner on Tripadvisor, subscribe to a Tripadvisor business listing and use a certified internet booking engine. Beds24 is a certified premium launch partner. If you don’t already have an account you are welcome to join for a FREE trial.

How will it work?
The higher the CPC bid, the higher the rank in the hotel price comparison search results. A link will send travelers directly to the hotel online booking page.

Tripadvisor announced to give owners access to simple online tools to analyse their advertising results as well as to encourage more user reviews through automated post-stay emails.

What will it cost?
Tripadvisor Connect will be a cost-per-click (CPC) solution. Lodgings will be charged each time a user clicks on their URL link in Tripadvisor and is redirected to their own booking page. The cost will be determined via a bidding auction.

When will Tripadvisor Connect be available?
Launch is scheduled for Q4 2013.

Cancellation Policies for Accommodation Businesses

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cancellation-policyCancellations are always unpleasant for the host but often also for the guest. Most hosts have a cancellation policy. Which strategy is used can make a big difference in terms of guest relations and revenue management. Common strategies are:

No Cancellation
No matter when or why the guest cancels the full price of the booking will be charged. Except for discounted rates or special booking periods this strategy is very harsh towards guests.

Cancellation Fee
All cancellations or cancellations within a certain period before arrival occur a fee. For example: If a guest cancels outside of 10 days before their arrival  there is a €30 cancellation fee. If they cancel inside of the 10 days, there is a cancellation fee of €100 or the full price is being charged.  Another common strategy is to charge for the first night.

Deposit
If a booking is being cancelled the guest either looses their deposit. For hosts this is very effective and easy because you already have the money and don’t need to fight for it when the guest cancels.

Vouchers
The guest is offered a voucher which can be used to book another date. If the voucher is not being redeemed within a certain period a cancellation fee applies.  Especially  used in combination with a deposit a very creative way to create a win-win situation.

Unrestricted Cancellation
While this is very nice for guests it can hurt your business.

Dual Strategy
Many professional lodgings offer two prices. For the full can be cancelled without restrictions. A reduced rate cannot be cancelled. This is quite clever because you can use the cancellation policy as part of a competetive price strategy.

Some lodgings are very strict regardless why the guest cancels. As long as your policies are fair and clear, most guests understand. The risk is though if you are strict and the guest has a very good reason you are risking a bad review. This is why other hosts are very generous when it comes to cancellations which then also has a negative effect on business.

Which cancellation policy you choose should depend on your chance to resell the lodging and on the efforts you will have to make to do so. If it is almost impossible to resell you might want to enforce a rather strict policy. Depending on circumstances it might be a good idea to have different policies depending on the season.

If you have a cancellation policy make sure it is communicated to the guest. They should be published on your website as a link or full text on your booking engine.

Beds24 online booking system offers a variety of functions which help you handle cancellation policy:

  • Display your policy or a link on your online booking page
  • Deposit collection
  • The cancel function lets you set a cut off date prior to the arrival where cancellations are allowed. It is also possible to set individual cancellation periods depending on season, rate and even per individual booking. If you use this function the guest can log in and cancel themselves within your rules.
  • Set a dual price strategy and offer different prices on your booking page.

Hotel Reputation – How to Create a Positive Memory

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 I have had many nice restaurant meals but one experience a couple of years ago keeps coming back to my mind. The food was good, the place nice but really not much better than many other places I have been to since. Different was what  happened at the end. After we had payed we were given a pretty box with two complementary muffins for breakfast.
 
The reason I still have strong positive memories is because of what nobel price winning psychologist Daniel Kahnemann called Peak End Rule.  He and later also other scientists researched that people judge a service or an event by how it was at its peak and its end. We do not sum up but we rate by the intensity of the strongest experience – positive or negative- and the end. This means the more positive the end is compared to the peak the better the evaluation.
 
 Hotel Reputation ManagementHow can a hotel or a B&B use this? Lets say you put some effort into your website. It looks good, your guests can book online. You make a good first impression. Now think about how to improve your service focusing on the peak and the end. Often the end of an experience is being neglected. Make your check out an unexpectedly positive experience for your guests.
 
 

 

 

Online Bookings for Booking Agents and Booking Portals

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A web site is often the first contact point a guest has when looking for accommodation. Most people do not spend the time sending out enquiries. They expect to see if the room or lodging they are interested in is available while they are searching. Agents who don’t show availability on their website risk losing potential customers.

To show availability and accept online bookings agents do not need to buy expensive software. Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions integrate with existing websites and are accessible anytime from any device with an internet connection. Before you decide on a system you should check for:

  • customisable look and feel for a seamless integration into your website
  • user rights management that suits your business
  • flexible pricing options
  • reports to  show where bookings originate from
  • social media integration – online booking system for  Facebook fan pages or blogs
  • option to have a multi language booking form
  • mobile friendly design
  • hidden costs or commissions
  • support to adjust the system to your needs

If you are looking to implement a (new) flexible, powerful but economic online booking system test Beds24.com . The Beds24 team will be happy to help you customise the system to your needs. You can use the free trial to evaluate if its right for you.

Happy New Year!
These are the Hotel Online Marketing Trends 2013

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The general outlook for the tourism industry is still positive. However, The World Travel and Tourism Council  thinks that the change in economic outlooks suggest a potential weakening of Travel & Tourism growth in 2013 in Europe and parts of Asia. The key hotel online marketing trends 2013 might help you to stay on top of things.

Photo Sharing
Last year photo sharing tools  and platforms like Pinterest and Instagram were booming. The trend continues because people want to show their friends and family where they are. Invest in high quality photos and make sharing them as easy as possible for your web visitors. Photo sharing is a great opportunity for you to profit from word-of-mouth. 

Direct Bookings First
Online bookings are still increasing. Saving commissions by encouraging direct bookings will be a very important part of a hotel marketing. Promote your website and make sure it has fresh appealing content, an online booking system and updated promotions.

Content Marketing
One of the marketing megatrends is content marketing. Blogs, Twitter and Facebook let you engage in conversations with customers and potential customers alike. On Pinterest you can generate appealing curated content through images. Social media supports your SEO efforts. You do not need to engage in all – choose the tools that suit you and your business.

Online Reviews
Reviews will continue to be one of the most important factors in travelers decision-making-process. Try to reply to every review. When answering negative reviews make sure your tone is positive – an aggressive response to a negative review makes a hotel look even worse. Think about showing reviews or a guest book on your own website.

Marketing Videos
According to Google 66% of video viewers watch travel videos when thinking about a trip. 43% watch videos when deciding on accommodation. With growing numbers of people viewing and sharing online video is an effective marketing tool. And videos can have a positive effect on organic SEO. A hotel video does not have to be a candidate for the oscars. Most importantly it should capture the look and feel of your property and maybe show attractions in the area.

Increase Hotel and B&B Revenue by Cross-selling and Up-selling

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The idea of cross-selling is getting a customer to buy something else together with the product or service they already have chosen. The classic example is McDonald’s standard question: ‘Do you want fries with that?’ Cross-selling does not mean manipulating your guests. It is about offering something the customer has  genuine interest in, someting well-connected to the product they already have decided they want.

Do you offer additional services such as transport, meals, bicycle hire, a sightseeing trip, room-extras, tours , classes, activities or events? How about sports?  Do you have a tennis court, fitness room? Tell your guests and let them book them as extras together with their room.

If you do not have facilities in-house you could consider partnerships with a local providers and sell them to your guests when they book their accommodation.

Not offering extras during the online booking process means that you will miss an opportunity to increase per booking revenues. All you need is a powerful online booking system which lets your guest select more than rooms.

Beds24 online booking system has build in functions to cross-sell. You can offer services  at the time of booking so your guest can easily select and buy the extras they require. You can  sell your activity up to the number of participants you specify. This works great for classes, tour groups, events etc. with limited availability.

You can do more than increasing room sales to optimise revenue: Let your guests know what you can do for them.