Thursday, December 17, 2009
ABOVE: This cartoon from xkcd.com completely captures the tech support I received from a well-known computer company today.. This webcomic made me chuckle!
Impacting Future Profit
Every hotel, motel, guesthouse, or inn owner I speak to expresses a desire to help the environment and become more eco-friendly. In some cases, this desire stretches to a willingness to invest heavily in the quest. This article, Blue Sky Thinking, by Daniel Pearce in The Publican is a great example of the extent some publicans are willing to go to in order to make an impact on both the environment and their future profit.
The article begins by stating, “Rising energy costs… You should have already taken steps to tackle them…through ensuring you are on the best energy tariff for you, by taking all the simple energy-saving measures across your business, and by ensuring that your staff are following them too.”
However, many of the publicans I talk to during meetings and on social networking sites just aren’t taking steps to cut costs and increase efficiency.
What steps has your company taken to reduce the need for paperwork and filing?
One of the simplest and most cost-effective methods of reducing paperwork is to invest in a booking system to:
Create new bookings
View and edit existing bookings
Records customer details
Manage room bookings and venue bookings
Control payment details
Plus, using a booking system makes it simpler to produce reports including, customer loyalty reports, customer payment reports, guest arrival reports, hotel accounting reports, room financial reports
So, remember… You don’t need to go to the extent of the pub owner in The Publican article I mentioned above. Simple steps can make a huge difference to your establishment and the environment.
Thanks for reading,
Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to comment. I'll get back to you as a matter of priority. Thanks!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Do You Own a Hotel Booking System?
If you own or manage a UK-based hotel booking system, I’d like to hear from you!
In October, I ran a special offer on behalf of HotelSystems.co.uk and the response they received was overwhelming. Pub and inn managers (as well as hotel and motel managers) downloaded their free trials and the feedback I received was incredibly positive.
Comments about the hotel booking system included:
“Very easy to learn and use” – Anne, The White Horse, Essex
“This is the first system that has made me want to evolve from my paper diary” – Mr. Evans, The Swan, Hertfordshire
“I thought that using a computerised booking system would be difficult as I’ve never been good with computers. However, I was wrong. This system took no time to learn and was really easy to use. In fact, I think it was faster than my paper-based system” – Trevor, The Nags Head, Staffordshire
So, a big success for everyone concerned!
However, I’m keen to hear from alternative systems that feel they can compete with Hotel Booking Systems. I’m aware that different software suits different establishments, and I’d like to promote these systems to the appropriate clientele. Therefore, please do not hesitate to contact me with details of your system and the discount you’d like to offer my readers.
The best way to contact me is on my personal email address: email@example.com
I look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks for reading,
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Are you the owner or manager of a pub or inn with accommodation?
Do you manage bookings with a notepad and pen?
Do you feel as though a computerized booking system is out of your price range?
SPECIAL OFFER FROM MY FAVOURITE UK BOOKING SYSTEM...
Well... I have been in contact with Hotelsystems.co.uk. This British booking company offers an in-house Windows based application to help you automate your day-to-day room bookings, leaving you time to actually run your business.
Their booking software is one of my UK favourites and includes functionality for room booking, maintaining a maintenance schedule and customer invoicing requirements.
This month only...
Hotel Booking Systems have agreed to offer publicans who read my blog a FREE 30-day trial followed by a 5% discount when they purchase the full version. Here's how:
Click on THIS LINK for your FREE 30-day Trial:
Then... To purchase the full booking system:
1) Click HERE
2) Complete the form at the bottom of the page remembering to enter the Site Code and the MID code from the computer that you wish to be licensed.
3) Enter the promo code HSYSTEMSFIVE (as it is shown) to ensure your 5% discount is applied
4) Finally, click the continue button to see the purchase summary and complete payment.
In return for this generous offer, Hotel Booking Systems want to know what you think!
They are continually looking for ways in which to improve their product and/or service; so, if you have any feedback or questions please email them on firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)7811 872519.
Alternatively, let me know what you think of their system, and I'll pass on any criticism, advice, or ideas for improvement... Or, of course, any praise!
Thanks again for reading,
Please do not hesitate to contact me on email@example.com with any comments.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Above: Six pubs are going out of business every day on average, with hundreds more under threat of closure.
Save The Great British Pub
In my article on August 10th, I discussed the challenges currently being faced by British Publicans in the wake of the smoking ban. In the piece, I talked about the many options available to pub owners and supported a 'The Publican’ reader, Steve W’s, opinion that, “publicans must now TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and move their businesses forward to adapt to the new law, instead of just whining about it.”
One of the alternatives I offered was the option of developing the accommodation side of the business, something which doesn’t always come naturally to publicans due to the differences in customer demographics.
The Only Option?
After writing the article I used networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to discuss this option with pub owners in more detail and wasn’t surprised to discover many publicans see this as their only option. More than fifty per cent of the landlords and landladies I spoke to had either newly renovated rooms within their establishment to accommodation standard or had newly marketed the rooms they already had available.
My next question was, “how do you manage your bookings?”
And… Quel surprise… The standard answer was, “a diary and pen”.
What can I say? Wow!
I’m sure that a diary and pen is sufficient for writing a customer’s name and phone number in the correct date, however, surely it will never be anything more than sufficient. If an establishment is marketing to a reasonable standard and providing a sufficient service and is therefore making a reasonable profit, then that’s great. But why would any pub, motel, or guest house want to do a reasonable job when they can do an excellent job in less time and for very little investment?
This was my argument to pub landlords on the many, many networking sites I used, and, in general, publicans and guest house owners agreed.
This is why I was excited, but not surprised, when I returned from my tour of South East Asia and spoke to a number of my suppliers and clients within the hotel booking system industry. Over the last few months the customer demographics have changed enormously and the number of publicans purchasing booking systems to manage both their rooms and their customer base has more than doubled.
… This is great news for British pubs!
It means that publicans know that they must go above and beyond to build their customer base and satisfy their patrons. It means that they are focused on building their businesses by becoming customer focused, and it means one more thing…
It means that if you are a publican, landlord, landlady, or guest house owner, without a booking system to manage your accommodation, you are being left behind. It means that you need to follow the advice of Steve W writing on The Publican Forums… You must TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and move your businesses forward to adapt to the new law… Accommodation may be the only way to move your business forward… And accommodation requires a new level of customer relationship management… You need a booking system.
Thanks once again for reading,
For more information on hotel booking systems for pubs and guest houses, don't hesitate to leave a comment here or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Left: Pagodas and temples in present-day Bagan, Burma
Back in Action
I’m back. Apologies to everyone for the extended absence, but after two years of continuous hard work, I was in desperate need of a long holiday (with a few moments of research thrown in for good measure) to completely unwind.
I was lucky enough to be able to fit in a month of Hong Kong, Thailand, and Myanmar, before heading back to the UK for a winter of research, consultancy, and product development… So now it’s full steam ahead!
I have already been in touch with two of my favorite hotel booking systems and have exciting news from both. I’m currently consulting for Hotel Booking Systems who have (yet again) surprised me with an amazing upgrade to their current system… More news to follow shortly!
I have also been surprised by the change of customer demographics for both of these companies and look forward to reporting more about this.
Who’d have guessed that so much could change in just a month!
I will of course be writing more regularly again and am looking forward to keeping you up to date with the ever-evolving world of hotel booking software.
Thanks for reading,
Please feel free to leave your comments below or email me on email@example.com
Monday, August 10, 2009
Above: Yet another hilarious cartoon drawn on the back of a business card by Hugh MacLeod!
And So the Debate Rages On...
The debate amongst British publicans and landlords rages on… The same argument that has been a hot topic of conversation since July 2007… Should smoking be banned in pubs?
Nowhere is this debate more alive and more relevant than on the blogs and forums presented by The Publican, a popular online magazine for pub and inn owners who are ‘Proud of Pubs’.
The main argument is that the smoking ban is having an extremely detrimental effect on pubs in the UK and that banning the use of a legal substance goes against our human right (and democratic right) to choose.
However, the other side of the coin is that the ban is in place and publicans must accept this, take responsibility for their businesses, and find ways to use the ban to their advantage.
To make it clear at this point, I am neither strongly for nor against the ban. I am a non-smoking, pub-loving individual who regularly frequented such establishments prior to the ban on smoking and will continue to do so post ban. I DO like waking up the next morning without my hair stinking of stale smoke… But I DO NOT like what the ban stands for. I am a firm-believer in freedom of both personal speech and action and if a ban on smoking is imposed now, what will be next.
But is the Ban the ONLY Cause of Pub Bankruptcies
However, many publicans are blaming the ban for the failure of their establishment but fail to recognize that every pub is in the same position, and every landlord or landlady has the same opportunity to adapt and evolve their business to overcome the hardships created by the ban.
As Steve W from The Publican forums says, “The law has changed, plain and simple, so we have to adapt and work in new ways within the law.”
I must admit to liking and supporting Steve W’s opinions. In one of his postings he argues that, “Smoking indoors has been banned so publicans must now TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and move their businesses forward to adapt to the new law, instead of just whining about it. I've never claimed my location isn't an advantage, that would be stupid, BUT I pay handsomely for such a location (obviously) so, relatively speaking, I have little advantage over any other pub ( a pub only 2 minutes walk from me, but off the high street, pays £30K less rent) and the point I've made in the past is that your location guarantees nothing; the previous lessee was almost bankrupt - in exactly the same pub in exactly the same location - you have to work the pub to take full advantage of its location, wherever it is.”
Here here, Steve W!
Creating an attractive seating area outside is, of course, one way to take responsibility. However, many publicans are creating ‘outside smoking areas’ which are unattractive and uninviting. Why not create an outside area which is attractive to all patrons and ensure that each table includes an ashtray? Why does it have to be an ‘outside smoking area’? This caters to all pub goers and creates both a smoker and non-smoker friendly environment.
Another alternative has been to increase the amount of attention placed on food within pubs and inns, however, Pete Robinson makes a good point on The Publican forums when he says,
“Let's imagine all wet-led pubs decided to 'move their businesses forward', i.e. concentrate on food. I'm sure that many closed pubs have already gone that route only to discover it's no guaranteed ticket to survival. They would be moving into a shrinking market when competition is at an all-time high - a recipe for disaster. Since pubcos targeted the food sector it's reached such saturation point they can't even find decent catering staff. Read this short report in The Recruiter
So what’s left?
One option for many pub and inn owners is to concentrate on the accommodation side of business. However, many publicans are inexperienced within this highly customer service oriented sector and are unable to provide guests with the level of stay they require. Especially considering the demographics of a typical inn accommodation customer (female, 30 to 45, university educated, looking for a romantic break) vary considerably from the typical demographics of a regular pub goer!
Also, many of the pub and inn owners that I have met over the past year or so have had little experience with managing bookings. Any publican serious about evolving this side of business must throw away his or her notebook and pencil booking system and invest in a customer relationship management system (CRM) and also an effective booking system.
Despite initial reactions of, “we can’t afford an investment like that”, a booking system doesn’t have to be expensive. Take, for example, the booking system offered by Hotel Booking Systems, a UK-based company that focuses on the needs of small hotels, pubs, inns, motels, and guest houses. They offer a FREE 30-day trial by clicking HERE and an extremely affordable, and simple to use, system once you’ve decided to take the plunge.
So, if you’re a pub or inn owner with the means to offer accommodation, then surely this is the way to TAKE RESPONSIBILTY and evolve your business in order to survive this difficult time.
And, if you need any advice with regards to CRM systems, booking systems, or training for your inn, pub, or guest house, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thanks for reading and best of luck,
Please feel free to leave your comments below or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Above: Another great cartoon drawn on the back of a business card by Hugh MacLeod.
How Do You Communicate With Customers?
I love this Josh Bernoff quote from “Why Marketers Have Trouble with Full-Duplex Social Technology” (June 30th 2009):
“The people in charge of talking are in the marketing department. The people in charge of listening are in the research or service or sales department. They hardly ever talk to each other, let alone have full-duplex conversations with customers.”
No truer word has ever been said. And it’s the companies and marketers who have realised this and are making changes in order to bridge this gap that are booming, often thanks to social media.
Have you ever received a marketing email from a company telling you how important you are and how much they value your opinions; only to discover that the email is ‘do not reply’?… Unless of course you want to place a huge order with us right away, in which case, click here.
Companies like Threadless have bridged the gap between supplier, customer, and marketer by allowing the customer to converse with the supplier in order to get the exact t-shirt design they want. You often see comments asking for a different colour t-shirt or for the designer to move the image an inch to the left and half an inch up. Potential customers then get to vote on the design and whether they would actually purchase it… This message then goes straight to the marketers who have the most popular designs printed.
That is full-duplex social technology at its best.
So how do you communicate with your customers? Are you asking for their opinions but not really listening? Is it a one way communication? Are the messages of your customers getting to the right people within your organisation? In fact, are the right people within your organisation having the right conversations with the right people?
Whether you’re a hotel manager, a motel owner, or a hotel booking system supplier, you need to be having full-duplex conversations using social media. That means using Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Flickr, etc, and actually engaging in meaningful conversations with the people that matter… Your customers!
For a great explanation of social media, take a look at THIS presentation called “What the F*ck is Social Media: One Year Later” by Marta Kagan from Brand Infiltration
Thanks once again for reading,
For more information on hotel booking systems or corporate training for the hospitality industry, don't hesitate to leave a comment here or email me on email@example.com