When we look deeper into what makes the hospitality world go round, we see the job of the hotel director gets ever more complicated as traditional business is forced to adapt to the ever-changing marketing and technology innovations and services. However complicated these new tools and services for hotels may be though, age old business logic still applies. I was reading recently from a report by Fastbooking about choosing hotel technology and service providers. The company that made a name boosting hotel sales via meta-search, offers sound advice on more than choosing a set of advertise features. Here’s the simple logic for getting the best service and/or provider for your hotel.
Looking at the report from Fastbooking hoteliers can quickly create a kind of benchmark of value to seek when selecting partners. I’ll show you a set of cards designed to simplify the selection process in a minute, but something the Fastbooking experts refer to as “soft skills” are a super important aspect to cooperation most business people know of, but often lose sight of in the busy day-to-day. Soft skills, at least according to Fastbooking, can be broken down into; knowledge, culture, understanding, and communication. So, let me address these one at a time.
Understanding Your Special Requirements
The Fastbooking experts classify this aspect of business intelligence as “Knowledge”, which is appropriate if a bit confusing. Anyone who’s ever worked hand in hand with a service provider of any kind understand the importance of cohesive connects, and that provider’s understanding of your business’ goals, culture, and limitations. As the Fastbooking paper suggests, there are hundreds of tiny factors that differentiate one hotel operation from another. And discerning which provider can best understand and integrate is perhaps the most important factor in choosing a partner. And good partnerships determine success more often than stunning technological differentiation.
An offshoot of knowledge and understanding, a service provider absolutely must have a grasp of your hotel’s vision for marketing, sales, and brand. While the short-term vision may well be immediate conversions, the best and brightest in the industry understand that brand is even more important than the marketing/sales strategy, since it is the brand that is the long tail of business success. As the Fastbooking report shows, a hotel business is about more than the final transaction. This is the nature of hospitality, after all. First providing the value, and then receiving the guest’s reward.
Most hotels and their associated technology and/or marketing providers take a narrow view of operations, with an equally confined strategy that is relatively inflexible. The Fastbooking report I’m focused on here talks about this briefly, and introduces a “phased approach” for choosing business partners. The report mentions the divergent goals and needs of a startup hotel, for instance, versus the needs and culture of existing hotel businesses. The ideas expressed by the Fastbooking gurus can be taken a step further though. If we factor in the geography of a hotel, the short and long term needs and goals, and then superimpose the relative capabilities of various services – well, this is where things get complicated again. Sifting through desirable value, any hotel director will end up relying on trust. And this is another function of brand.
Connectivity: Communication or the Lack Thereof
At both ends of the communication spectrum, this is where hoteliers and service providers can really fumble the football. In the mobile world we live in today, it’s actually amazing for me how often the message gets delayed. Fastbooking points to the nature of this 24/7 nightmare, classifying the hurdle as mostly unachievable. And based on my 30 years in this business, I fully concur. No matter how perfect the relationships are, circumstances like the increased complexity of operations make lost messages a fact. I am sure the best advice along these lines is to engage a company that best demonstrates the willingness to connect. The bottom line here is that bad communication under ideal circumstance, means a nightmare when things get complex.
So, choosing the right partner and service is not really any different than choosing a tennis partner or bartender. Things only get complex when we factor in all the necessary value your hotel requires. As far as “soft skills” go, most hotel decision makers will be successful at a level equivalent to their hospitality success. I am thinking of clichés like; “It takes one to know one,” and so forth. Almost to a man, the owners and managers I know can ferret through value quickly and effectively. As for the “hard skills” – the Fastbooking team has prepared (follow the link) learning tools to help hotel execs put eyeballs on the value proposition of suppliers. These crisp insights can assist operations in selecting everything from a web design agency to a channel manager. Some examples of key attributes include (for instance):
For choosing an online ad agency, decision makers need to focus on finding:
- A Google certified partner
- Vertical experience in hotels and hospitality
- Clear campaigns reporting
- Google analytics connection
- Knowledge of you local market
- The business model (eg. Fixed fee or success model)
- Social ad platforms integration
- Facebook certified professionals
- And their ad campaign success footprint
Of course, these suggestions are the minimum benchmark for discerning the right partner, but there are many more variables to consider. For some operations, for instance, it may be advisable to look at several “all in one” solutions, while for other hotels individual ad agencies (as an example) might make more sense. Then there’s the decision to either go local or to search out the best in class partner no matter where. As you can see already, we’ve ventured back into the maze of complications. However, the Fastbooking guide goes a long way to narrowing the decision-making process down, which is a step in the right direction. Ultimately, it should be the decision maker’s goal to make the right decision the first time. This is the best advice I have as a former PR and marketing guru for hotels.