Okay, so here’s what’s been going on: Two days ago, I released the first of a three-part series about my mom and the beginning of her journey into the world of B&B operation. In Part One, we took a look at what it takes to get those rooms booked and how to keep them clean, followed by Part Two, which was all about the money. And while my mom still has a ways to go, this blog series has reached its final installment. Welcome to:
This being the conclusive chapter of the series means I’m almost done talking, but it doesn’t mean these topics are any less important. Social integration and front desk systems are ways to interact with your customers, both current and potential. Achieving ‘hidden gem’ status is great, but if you’re so hidden that you are the only one who can find your B&B, being a ‘gem’ won’t make a difference. Marketing is a big undertaking, and it’s understandably daunting for anyone whose life hasn’t really revolved around attracting the attention of strangers. On top of that, what do you do with that attention once you have it?
You use it to make money, of course.
When most people think of marketing they think of advertisements, billboards and men from the 1950’s wearing fedoras and houndstooth suits (I assume). While that’s not entirely wrong (the suits are a little out of place) that’s not all there is to marketing. Because of the high level of accessibility and the wide audience it can reach, social media is a quick and fairly painless way to get noticed, but it can also feel complicated and confusing at first glance.
The phrase ‘social integration’ refers to a platform’s ability to interact with and manage all of your social channels (like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, to name a few). Not only will social integration tools allow you to post updates and share content across all your channels, but these same tools record and report your follower’s activity. Put simply, social integration features help you stay active and visible while keeping you updated on how successful your efforts are.
So now, people are liking what you have to say and you’re starting to get some attention for your B&B. What’s next?
Imagine it’s the 1950’s again and you’re trying to book a hotel room (I’m not entirely sure why this is a recurring theme, but let’s just go with it). In order to do that, you’d walk into a hotel and ask the clerk behind the counter if there are any rooms available, the size and condition of those rooms and how much a room will cost you.
Now imagine someone engaging in that exchange from their living room over their computer – that’s your front desk system.
A front desk system like Little Hotelier centralizes everything a front desk clerk would do; guest check in, check out and general management, reservation calendar management and synchronization tasks in order to make sure you don’t promise availability that you don’t have. While there may be a part of you that mourns the classic in-person, face-to-face interaction this system replaces, keep in mind that people like to do things online and with immediate results. You can always give guests the option of calling you on the phone, but don’t limit their choices; you might miss out on the potential guests who prefer to book their B&B stay from their desks.
While certain functions of all business software stay consistent across the board regardless of industry (like accounting and billing tools) there are a handful that are specific to the hospitality segment. Booking tools, for instance, are a feature not every business is going to need but is essential when it comes to innkeeping. Whether it’s a three bedroom house somewhere at the foot of Mount Hood or a ten-story hotel next to an airport, the goals don’t vary.
And with that, brave innkeeper, I leave you. But don’t stop here; there’s always more to learn about your industry and how to increase your success in it. The software available now might grow and change in order to better suit the needs of the people using it, so stay on your toes and keep an ear to the ground. But most of all, appreciate the advantage of hospitality software and use it to make your life easier and your business more successful.
I wish you the best of luck.
This is it for me, but don’t let that stop you from doing more research. Check out our reports on the Top 10 Help Desk Software or Top 10 Enterprise Social Management Software to learn more about the industry.