Stay Safe and Secure

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IMG_0192_2 Cybercrime is a fast-growing area of crime causing serious harm.

Stolen details like username and passwords from sites hacked recently and even many years ago are available for sale on the internet. Criminals are using these details to attempt to log into any site not just the one they were stolen from.

Scams and fraudulent actions have hit hotels and other areas of the tourism industry including mayor players.

What can you do to protect you and your customers data?

Keep your passwords secure

  • If you are still using an old password or the same password on multiple sites you are at risk that a criminal can log into all your accounts if one is hacked. For example, your old myspace password is likely in the hands of hackers who are actively trying to log in to every single site on the internet with it.
  • Always reset passwords sent via Email immediately.
  • Do not reuse your main Email password. If a hacker has access to your main Email account he could easily change your passwords for other services because password resets are sent to your main email account.
  • Lock your phone, tablet and computers in areas with public access. Reentering passwords is tedious but can prevent unauthorized access.
  • If you have not changed your passwords recently, now is the time to do it.

Update your operating system

  • Make sure you update your operating system to the latest version to have the latest security features.

Make sure your browser is safe

  • Use the latest version of your web browser and install all security updates. Normally the latest version of a web browser contains security fixes and new features to protect from known security risks.
  • Check which security features your browser offers. Your browsers help page gives you information on available features and explains how to activate them.

Protect from malware and phishing

  • Email attachments are a common source of virus infection. Do not open attachments from someone you do not know. If you know the sender but were not expecting an attachment check with the sender before you open it.
  • Only enter personal information, credit card numbers, bank information, or other personal information on secure sites. Secure sites have a locked padlock or unbroken key symbol in the URL and are showing in your browser using https (not http).
  • Links in Emails (hyperlinks which open websites when you click) are often used for phishing and spyware scams and can also transmit viruses. Check who the sender is before you click on a link.
  • Web browser add-ons which allow webpages to display toolbars, stock tickers, video or other features can also install spyware and malicious software. Only install add-on from trusted sources.
  • Most Wi-Fi hotspots do not encrypt information. Any program or person using software that searches for data being transferred on a Wi-Fi network can intercept your data. If you are not using encryption software you should not access any sites which contain critical information or enter passwords while using public Wi-Fi.

Install a firewall, virus protection and spyware protection

  • A firewall checks information going through your computer and allows or denies access based on your security settings. This can prevent hackers and malicious software from gaining access to your computer.
  • Antivirus programs scan e‑mail and other files on your computer for viruses, worms, and trojans and either isolate it or delete it before it can do harm.
  • Most spyware infections are caused by downloads of free software. In some cases just visiting a dubious website can result in a spyware infection. Spyware software can collect data, change settings on a computer or display ads without permission. An antispyware program helps to protect your computer.

Get the latest information

Government organizations for example in the US, the police or organizations providing consumer information like the ftc provide up to date information on how to protect your data and your devices.

Yield Management for Small Accommodation Providers

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yield-optimisation-small-hotel

Ideally a hotel would always sell all rooms at the highest rack rate.

As this is rarely possible the challenge is to find the right price to utilise a hotels capacity in the most profitable way possible.

In a nutshell the idea of yield management is to achieve the highest selling price while maximising occupancy.

 

What can small hotels and accommodation providers do?

A refined pricing structure is a very effective way to maximise profit.

Pricing Strategy
Use different rates and discounts to offer the right price at the right time to the right customer. Common price strategies are:

  • Standard pricing /rack rate
  • Seasonal pricing
  • Day of the week pricing e.g. weekend/ weekday
  • Last minute rates
  • Early bird rates
  • Long stay discounts
  • Promotional prices
  • Refundable/non refundable prices
  • Packages
  • Benefits for loyal guests / voucher codes
  • Group or agent rates

Dynamic Updates
Beds24 has a yield optimiser function which automatically adjusts prices based on remaining availability and time before check-in. Prices can be adjusted up if demand is high or down if demand is low. Multiple rules can be created and will work together.

If you are not yet using Beds24 you are welcome to use the free trial to test without obligation.

How to Generate Last Minute Bookings

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Being fully booked all year around is the dream of every hotelier. In reality most places have slow seasons which require increased marketing efforts.

last-minute-hotel-bookings
The good news is: The last-minute market is emerging. More and more people travel with mobiles, tablets or laptops and use these to book on the go. These tips can help you generate last minute bookings.

Have Last Minute Pricing
Everybody loves a good deal.  Special last-minute deals can trigger more bookings. With more people booking at short notice such a strategy can help optimising occupancy rates.

Promote Deals
Publish your deals on social media. Use good #hashtags so your information can be found and encourage your followers to spread the word. Newsletters and Email marketing are cost effective tools to promote your lodging to previous and potential guests. Show last minute deals on your web site and make sure potential guests can book directly online.

Be Mobile
A growing proportion of last minute bookings are made from mobile devices. If your web site and booking engine are not mobile friendly you might miss out on direct last minute bookings.

List on OTA´s
Big portals receive large amounts of website traffic. Several OTA´s including Booking.com and Expedia have launched special same-day booking services. Therefore listing on portals is an easy way to fill last minute bookings. If you are using third-party booking channels a channel manager can help you manage your rates and inventory.

What can Beds24 do for you?

  • With Beds24 you can create multiple rates, discounts and special offers. Even fine tuning your prices on a daily basis is possible.
  • The Beds24 booking page is mobile friendly. You can promote up to three special offers along with your standard rate. Guest can book directly and commission free from any device.
  • A guest database makes it easy to keep track of all previous guests for marketing and other purposes.
  • The channel manager makes it easy to manage multiple booking channels. Administrating your business on one secure platform not only saves time but also reduces the risk of overbookings.

Reviews and Online Reputation Mangement

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Word of Mouth has always been one of the key success factors in the hospitality industry. Online Word of Mouth (eWOM) is an even more powerful marketing tool. We have heard from many new hosts that the first good review changed the game. The more reviews a lodging has, the more inclined potential guests will be to book. Research proves these observations:

93% of global travelers say their booking decisions are impacted by online reviews  (Trip Barometer)

70% of global consumers trust consumer opinions posted online (Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey)

49% of travelers will not book a hotel without reviews (Statistic Brain)

Beds24’s partnership with Review Express makes it easy to automatically generate reviews.

What is Review Express?
Review Express is a free marketing tool from TripAdvisor that makes it easy to invite guests to write reviews. According to TripAdvisor research Review Express users see an average increase of 33% in the amount of TripAdvisor reviews for their property.

How does it work?
Beds24 customers can automatically invite guests after departure to write a review.  All you need to do is opt in for Review Express in your Tripadvisor account and enable the function in your Beds24 control panel. Guests will automatically receive an Email from TripAdvisor asking them to write a review.

Managing Online Reputation

The impacts caused by online reviews are huge. This makes it important to actively monitor and manage them.

87% of survey participants agreed that an appropriate management response to a bad review improved their impression of the hotel (PhoCusWright)

62% agreed that seeing the hotel’s response to reviews generally influenced them positively to booking at that hotel (PhoCusWright)

Monitor reviews regularly and appreciate all guest feedback

Reviews help you understanding your customers needs. You can see your business through your guests eye and get a better understanding of your strength and weaknesses. Thus, feedback helps you shape your business.

Respond to comments quickly and regularly

Respond to all negative feedback or comments which call for an apology or clarification. Explain what caused the bad experience in a positive personalised way. Diplomatically correct false information. Occasionally thank guests for a positive review but do not reply to all good comments. If you want to thank every reviewer consider sending a private message.

There is a fine line between negative and offensive or irrational comments. There is no need to jump over every stick. It is ok to respond to “the Good, the Bad, but not the Ugly”. Damaging false reports or fake reviews can be reported to TripAdvisor through tools in their management center.

The Impact of Googles Next Major Update on Bookings

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Mobile devices have become a natural part of most peoples lives. More and more people are browsing the internet on mobile devices like smart phones and tablet. According to Phocuswright  mobile travel bookings will account for 27% of the U.S. online travel market by this year – from just 5% in 2012.

These developments will reflect in the next major update to Google’s search algorithm. Starting April 21 Google will use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. Google announced that this change will have a significant impact on search results. Websites with flexible designs will be rewarded with higher search rankings than web sites which are not mobile friendly.

Mobile Friendly Hotel Booking

What does this mean for the accommodation industry?

Without a mobile friendly web site, guests searching for accommodation using mobile devices will not find you as easily on Google. The result might be less direct bookings.

Are you ready?

With Google’s Mobile Frindly Test  you can check your web site. Google’s Mobile Guide gives information on how to make your site great for mobile users.

Mobile friendly by default. No extra costs.

The responsive/advaptive design of Beds24´s booking page is mobile friendly. If you are a Beds24 customer you can be sure that your guests can enjoy a mobile friendly booking experience. The booking page automatically adapts to the device the guest uses. You will not need to change any settings and this service is included at no extra cost in every Beds24 account. If you are not yet using Beds24 you are welcome to use the free trial to test without obligation.

Photo: © DeathToTheStockPhoto

Increase Bookings with Up-To-Date Calendars

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Booking websites have become an important source of bookings. For some hotels or properties even the most important source. Using several sites usually means increased visibility and revenue. The downside to this strategy used to be the management effort involved.

Manually keeping multiple calendars up to date is tedious and time consuming. The solution to this are automated updates using a channel manager. This not only frees up time but also reduces the risk of double bookings.

Synchronise_Calendar

Synchronising Calendars which Support iCal
Many booking sites, especially in the holiday rental market support the industry standard iCal. iCal (or iCalendar) is a file format designed to transmit calendar data. Information can be exported from one calendar and imported into another. This also works for calendar apps on your smartphone or Google’s calendar. iCal can be used to import calendar information from a booking source or export bookings into another calendar.

Which calendars can Beds24 synchronise?
Specially constructed connections keep Airbnb, Homeaway, FewoDirekt, Wimdu, FlipKey, Housetrip, 9flats and HolidayLettings calendars synchronised with your own web site.

What can you do with Beds24´s iCal sync?
You can use the Beds24 iCal Sync for automatic updates for example with ebab, Homewaway/VBRO/FewoDirekt,  Only-Apartments and many more.

Two Way Channel Management
While iCal can only transport calendar information XML allows transmission of more than just calendar events. The Beds24 channel manager lets accommodation providers manage availability and rates across multiple online booking sites from a single easy-to-use web page. Connections include Booking.com, Expedia, Agoda, Hostelworld, Laterooms and many more. Visit our website for a complete list.
logos_channels

Improve Your Guests Experience

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An efficient check-in process, a clean room and quality staff are essentials a guest expects. To make a difference hosts need to move beyond the basics. Personalised service is one key to improve guests service experiences.

Customer Service is the New Marketing*
Service has always been a differentiator. Due to the growing influence and importance of ratings and social media for the hospitality industry the impact of every single guest experience can be huge. Knowing guests needs and delivering proactive service is the differentiator in a competitive environment.

Guest Management for positve guest experiences.

Personalization is not only a benefit to the guest. It can also provide sales opportunities by offering the right customer the right services or extras.

The newly added Guest Database gives Beds24´s users the option to not only view a guests previous and upcoming bookings but also store additional information and preferences. Thus, hosts can incorporate proactive strategies to optimise guests experiences. The guest database is included in all Beds24 accounts at no extra charge.

If you don’t have an account you are welcome to use the free trial to test without obligation.

*Quoting Brian Solis who explains his thesis on his blog.

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.

Hotel Channel Manager

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 exception. 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 maximise 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.