All posts by eZee Technosys

eZee’s CEO Speaks On Future Plans And Growth

Amidst his busy work schedules and hectic life, Aeijaz took out some time to tell us about his future plans and agendas for eZee. He speaks on how his journey has been so far as eZee’s CEO, how he intends to move ahead with the whole team. Besides that, he also speaks on employee engagement and business expansion.

How has your journey been so far, as eZee’s CEO?

[Aeijaz] I’ve been a part of eZee since last 8 years. Starting from a support executive to operations head of Malaysia office and to the CEO; the journey has been exciting and challenging. Since taking over as eZee’s CEO, I am actively taking more responsibilities and concentrating on understanding the basics, rather than arranging closed door meetings. I have been trying to learn about the team’s thought process and customers’ expectations with an intent to align both.

Being a CEO of a multi-faceted company has helped me grasp the pain points and requirements of our clients, partners as well as team members.

I haven’t been to any trade event, exhibition, seminars or got involved in much of the sales activities in the past year; but I’ve tried to be a part of each operation going on in the organization.

It isn’t that complex, if you stick to fundamental things and put your maximum bandwidth in the right place. eZee stands strong on three of its pillars: clients, partners and team members. And at the end of the day, solving their problems is a big joy knowing that I am able to keep all of them content and happy.

How do you boost your team’s morale?

[Aeijaz] Encouraging all the team members for their active participation in business endeavor is primary objective of the company. Since the beginning, we have maintained an organizational transparency such that every team member feels free to share his thoughts and ideas.

Most important aspect, is that we do not believe in bosses having their ‘closed door’ cabins which may be a hurdle for reaching to base level members.

The department heads create an active synergy by working closely and sharing same space with their team. Regular and fair performance evaluations are done acknowledging their involvement and efficiency. Around 70 team members in various departments were recruited in the past one year. We have several engagement programs like Employee Referral Program and even Innovation Reward Program, encouraging the team members in giving their best to the organization.

Moreover, apart from professional sharing at workplace, we make sure that all employees participate in extra-curricular activities like picnic and sports leaving aside professional barriers.

eZee's CEO Also Follows The 'No Cabin' Policy to have other team members reach him easily

What is your core strategy for 2017?

[Aeijaz] One of the strategies for 2017, is to ensure customer delight. Rather than spending high on marketing to acquire customers, we plan to spend on customer satisfaction attracting more of referral business. We want to hear a ‘WOW’ from every customer that enrolls with us. That is why, we are spending huge in terms of support and technical manpower which will eventually delight our customers. Before we ensure that we have a strong support team ready to give exceptional support services, we won’t go for higher customer acquisitions.

With this, we have started working on the next round of advancement, improving the user interface of our products and making them the most adaptable and flexible. Rather than adding features which are useful to limited customers, we want to majorly focus on our existing customer base, making their experience better with us.

What are your major challenges at this point?

[Aeijaz] Each business has its own set of challenges while moving ahead in the industry. Gaining pace in expansion, we are adding huge customers, and also doing massive recruitment. As Surat city is not a IT hub, availability of relevant experienced staff is scarce. The biggest challenge lies in getting people prepared and ready to provide excellent support and services to clients. Other thing is to make the team members know how to empathize with clients, understand their background along with regional level policies and requirements. Once we furnish new team members with case studies, knowledge banks and provide overall training; only then, we can expect to get positive reviews from all our clients and partners.

How does eZee stand-out from other competitors?

[Aeijaz] Since its inception, eZee has catered to the needs of all kinds of establishments in the hospitality industry. Be it a budget hotel, luxury hotel, chain of hotels, stand-alone restaurants, bakeries, cafes, or chain of restaurants; eZee has maintained a niche position in providing a suite of integrated hospitality solutions which are developed taking into consideration the minutest operations of hotel and restaurant management. The launch of our cloud technology platform – eZee Ultimate demonstrates the same. With no investment and no contracts; this platform will enable hoteliers to take complete advantage of prevailing technology.

We nurture a professional team of more than 150 members including developers, support, deployment, marketing, sales, accounts, customer relationship, etc who are poised to provide users with excellent services. We carry a bundle of varied levels of clientele from South Asia, Africa, Americas, Australia, Gulf countries, Europe, etc. With that, we also have a strong channel partner network offering our products and services in all corners of the world.

What do you have to offer for smaller hotels?

[Aeijaz] We provide solutions for all class of hoteliers. But, for small and mid-sized hotels, we launched eZee Ultimate, a complete hospitality technology platform available at no cost, with an aim to equip them with latest technology and helping them establish their brand name in the market. Harnessing a decade of power packed know-how, eZee’s solutions are seamlessly integrated which consists of several interfaces providing basic as well as ancillary services at very competitive rates to hoteliers. The clientele base of eZee includes a big list of small and mid-sized hotels which form a solid base making eZee a prominent game changer in hospitality industry.

When did you realize that eZee should offer no investment plan called eZee Ultimate?

[Aeijaz] Understanding hospitality market scenarios and unique requirements of the industry, eZee has always been a forerunner in offering the most reliable and efficient hospitality solutions. Over the years, we perceived the need for technology in the industry, especially for small and mid-sized hoteliers. Limitations in infrastructure and financial aspects have always kept them from investing in technology until now.

So, the first thing which came into our mind was to devise a no investment strategy, in order to equip all kinds of hoteliers with cutting-edge technology.

On that basis, we contemplated and put forth eZee Ultimate – a range of technology platform available at no investment and no subscription fees. With time, eZee Ultimate has been established in almost all hotel segments; and we intend to spread it far and wide empowering hoteliers extensively.

What are the benefits of eZee Ultimate for hotels?

[Aeijaz] The major benefit which eZee Ultimate renders is; absolutely no investment and no lock-in contract for a suite of integrated solutions. Hotelier pays a minimal amount only for the confirmed online bookings he gets, a compelling transaction based model of business. Hotelier can manage his daily operations and inventory distribution from a single dashboard and eventually he won’t have to deal with multiple vendors to manage different systems. Instead, in eZee Ultimate, he will get all the solutions under one roof. Not all companies provide all-in-one solutions for hotel management. We’re also offering free hotel website in eZee Ultimate and it plays a major role in increasing direct bookings of a hotel.

eZee's CEO, Aeijaz Sodawala Speaks On Future Plans & His Journey So Far

Do you find opportunity in hotel solution apps?

[Aeijaz] Considering the ever-evolving demands of smart phone engagements and their usage, a space has opened up for creating mobile apps which are handy and can be operated from any place and at anytime. Just recently we launched eZee Absolute App, the simplest PMS app and eZee Centrix channel manager app to allow hoteliers to track hotel happenings on the go. These apps will give them access to hotel management system, manage inventory distribution and rate updates from their smart phones respectively. We also have digital restaurant menu apps – eZee iMenu and eZee eMenu, available for Android and iOS.

Besides this, we have Appytect used by a hotelier to build their hotel mobile app. We are also planning to come up with an app to manage mini-bar and house-keeping operations in near future.

What are your comments on partner network and business expansion?

[Aeijaz] Partners are integral part of our business and they are in eZee’s business endeavor since its very beginning. Our partners create and develop business in their regional off-shores. We have covered several regions up till now and many are yet to be conquered.

Right from sales, to team building for support, we provide support to our partners which form an essential base in streamlining their business.

So, for business expansion of our network; we did our first angel investment in a start-up – Travinns Technology LLC, a Bangalore based hospitality revenue management firm. Further, eZee plans to expand on global level developing alike partnership with similar hospitality and revenue generating firms.

Nurturing our global business partnership, we offer them business insights, newsletters, advertising, promotions through exhibitions and personnel assistance flying from head quarters at Surat.

How is eZee getting armed with future plans?

[Aeijaz] We are a bootstrapped and profiting IT company. We have a clear idea on where we want our product offerings to go. In the coming future, we will produce less, but whatever we produce, we want to give a remarkable factor to it. Right now, we are just concentrating of better customer experience and top notch support. The rest we believe, will fall in place automatically. Besides this, we plan to release a cloud restaurant POS system – eZee Optimus in some time to facilitate restaurateurs with the benefits of cloud technology and simplified operations.

We have instated a new team for outbound sales; focusing on the aspect of canvassing campaigns, thereby reaching out to the hoteliers in the comfort of their own offices to explain the benefits and importance of emerging technology for their business. Unlike our inbound sales-force, this team will majorly concentrate on widening eZee’s reach across Indian sub-continent entrusting hoteliers with technology.

eZee has advanced exponentially since Aeijaz took over as the CEO. Myriad of partnerships, growth in infrastructure and team size, and an impressive enhancement in customer services – 2016 brought around a noteworthy year for eZee.

Aeijaz has been a instrumental part of eZee’s growth trajectory over the years. A strategic leader, he was appointed as eZee’s CEO in November 2015. He is acquainted with the know-hows of the hospitality industry and intends to walk progressively with the whole team and establish a firm presence of eZee in the industry.

Walking In Sync With Twenty-first Century Women

What if any education, job, or anything you get is not discriminated by cast, creed, religion or race you belong to? And instead, everything is dependent on talent and skill of an individual.

Just imagine! It will be a world worth living in. A balanced world, where equality and just decisions are employed at each phase of life.

‘Equality Implies Individuality’ – Trey Anastasio

And while talking about equality, the most dominant one coursing through the world is that of gender.

Originating from the stone age, streaming through the medieval era, and commanding it’s presence in the modern world, gender inequality has been a substantial yet unfavorable part of the society. Primarily targeting women in it’s prime; this inequality had managed to seep through the most minutest and under-developed segments of the world. Girl child killing, untimely abortions, favoritism towards men for education and jobs, lesser opportunities, and even lesser scopes of breaking the stereotypical barriers; gender inequality has powerfully affected women of the world.

‘Gender equality is not a woman’s issue. It’s a human issue. It affects us all.’

All things considered, women remained a suppressed part of the modernistic and male-dominated society. Until one fine day; when women like the Rani Lakshmi Bai, Madam Marie Curie, Kalpana Chawla, Anne Frank and Mother Teresa set foot in the world and transformed the ways of traditions.

That’s when a revolution struck; giving way to the untrained yet unyielding women, shaking the entire foundations of how the society worked and functioned.

‘You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.’ – Zig Zagler

It is thereafter, that the opportunities started flowing; giving once in a lifetime chances to the women who managed to surpass the boundaries of the traditional mindsets. Segments like fashion industry, technology, literature, media, politics, and everything which constitutes the world have seen women participating with equal fervor, giving a 360 degree deviation to the existing procedures.

Then as well, eZee too has given myriad of chances to women since it’s inception; eventually employing and establishing capable team leaders in the varied departments right from product development team to deployment team; marking their presence in the contemporary trends in the industry. Carrying a modest 3:1 ratio of men to women in it’s team, eZee has always been impartial towards the common myths of Indian culture. Believing in giving equal opportunities to everyone, eZee has never let the typical factors affect an individual’s progress.

Besides this, women in eZee have tested the waters of onsite implementation trips; showcasing the best of eZee’s solutions and services to clients. Rendering flexibility of working hours; eZee has given a leeway to pregnant women in the team, giving them a chance to be an up and running part of the company till the very end. Thus and so, be it a just-out fresher, or an experienced one, be it a woman having kids; eZee has always focused on skill and talent.

eZee Wishes All The Women Out There, A Happy Women's Day.

Akin to those women who brought around a revolution in the world, the women in eZee have evoked a noteworthy transition in the work ethics, environment and culture. eZee has always and will remain an unbiased part of the industry; believing in talent and skill rather than letting common issues like gender come in between.

‘There is no force equal to that of a determined woman.’

[Infographic] Year in Review 2016

The year 2016 has flown by and we have been striving to spread our wings far and wide. From endeavors to uplift, 2016 was a mixed bag of efforts and achievements for eZee squad. Looking back, we analyzed and built this success review story especially for you.

We are here with flashback for the year 2016 with product innovation, new product releases and business endeavor, and accolades of praise. Read on and feel proud, because we live and work only for true-hearted users like you.

Year in Review

 

We are ready to rock 2017, with a promise that we’ll deliver solutions and services better than the best.

 

As an eZee customer, you are never alone: Read our tale of perseverance

Communication is the most important tool for any association to flourish. Right? Well, not completely. ‘Right’ communication along with persistence is the key to make yourself hear loud. This very thought has been instilled into each and every team member at eZee, helping them to tie the loose ends at every situation.

This month we have another praise worthy incident from our Cloud Deployment Engineer- Parth Pol, who successfully put forward an incredible example of diligence and patience.

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Last month, for a particular date, it was found that we had requested to update Stopsell on Premium Room for a property. However, while updating Stopsell on a leading OTA we got an error because of some server problem from their end. As a result, the Stopsell did not get updated and we received an overbooking.

As a testament, Parth sent the XML log to them stating the error that we received and the eventual consequence.

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After few days, their representative got back to us via mail saying that they are willing to refund the money, provided we tried to update the Stopsell at least “3-4 times” after getting the “blank response”.

Parth sent the screen-shot of our multiple attempts to the representative who further forwarded the issue to their NOC (Network Operations Center) team. There was no reply for many days, but Parth continued with the follow up. It took nearly 22 days for their NOC team to reply that there was no issue with their server on that particular day. In short, it was implied that there will be no case of refund in the picture. Still determined to get the issue straight, Parth replied that if the server was up then why we did not get any response from sever!

To fault anyone at this stage would have been pointless, but they showed us red light with a reply- “This is not an issue from our end.” Parth did not let this go easily. He mailed the “blank response marked in red” again and asked to find the “loophole” at their end. Also, if their server was alright then they should pass the XML logs for the same. It seems Parth had the foresight to know what would work because next day we got a call from them confirming that the refund process would be initiated. Parth relentlessly followed the case for a month and got the end result in our favour.

We have dabbled in many complicated issues over all the years, and like always, our specialized team members ensure that they are determined and equipped enough to stand as a unit with our guests whenever the need arises. While we soak in the glory of this commitment tale, our team is gaining momentum and getting ready to take up another issue.

Because, at the end of the day, all this is for a higher purpose— 100% customer satisfaction.

The time when eZee set a new benchmark of client satisfaction

When we consent our services to any guest, we encounter people from all walks of life. Some motivate to push the envelope, some shower affection, while some leave behind a story to be shared with everyone. We take back something from each experience because these multifaceted guest feedback give us the opportunity to contribute more and feel stimulated by the end of each project.

Mr. Walter, Manager at Youth Hostel Los Amigos, Guatemala, recently shared his experience of working with us. This is one tale of fine workmanship which we would like to visit again and again. When anybody mentions customer support, we expect services within the line of duty. Thanks to our customer support members, we succeeded to offer much more than usual support in the case of Youth Hostel Los Amigos.

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There was a time when Mr. Walter had a major database management problem because of machine breakdown at their end. His property was live, but there was problem with server file on the local machine. This could have incurred significant losses to him. It was almost past midnight when he approached one of the eZee support team members. Our support executive not only merged the space between professionalism and comfort, but also worked non-stop for more than 12 hours with Mr. Walter to fix the problem that was affecting the overall functionality.

In his own words:

Since there is not much space left to write about the support executive, I will take this opportunity to say that one member of eZee support team is the best i have ever encountered as far customer service is considered. He was with me for more than 12 hours supporting me and figuring out what I could do to fix my problem. If it wasn’t for him, i would’ve had many many more losses and guests would’ve not felt satisfied. I would truly give him a medal or an award for best employee of the century! There is so much more that i want to say and i know it’s been a while since they helped me out, but i promised I would leave a review because of all their professionalism and skills. A big thanks to all of you in eZee support team, you are all great!!

Amigos
Mr. Walter
Manager
Youth Hostel Los Amigos, Guatemala

A message like this reaffirms your believe in dedication and commitment. There can be hybrid shades of thoughts once you jump on the field to fix a particular problem, but what matters in the end is your ability to establish your expertise and conjointly define a human empathy that will shine through.

The experience with Youth Hostel Los Amigos has been a rewarding one, but the final toast has to be raised to the zeal with which we continue to move ahead. After all, satisfied guests are always the happy ones!

Top answers to why choose eZee hospitality solutions

At the onset of 2016, we celebrated the enrolment of eZee’s 5500th client adapting to eZee hospitality solutions. A great goal achieved and a proud moment for the entire team.

To understand why numerous properties chose eZee over a myriad of other vendors providing hospitality software solutions, we analysed our sales cycle, client behaviour and more. We surveyed our clients and their feedback gave us quite a broad view of what influenced our clients to buy from us.

Top responses to Why eZee Hospitality Solutions

Why eZee Hospitality Solutions

New CEO’s first e-mail to team eZee

Post announcement of the of being the new CEO of eZee Technosys here is the first email that our new leader emailed team eZee.

From: Aeijaz Sodawala
To: all@eZee
Date: 14/12/2015
Sub: Re: New CEO eZee Technosys Pvt. Ltd.

I sit here today, with a new designation “CEO, eZee Technosys”, overwhelmed by the terrific news, all I can think about my journey till here which I can sum up in just 3 lines by Robert Frost-

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

I took the path not taken and today as I am embarking on this new journey I want to give you a little more insight about me and share my ideas for the future of our company.

Unlike many of my fellow mates, after graduation I didn’t take the next flight to other countries and get a monotonous 9-5 job that I would have hated; instead, I pursued my passion of business development.

I remember that night back in 2007, I was sitting on my desk with a friend and discussing regarding our future, and right then I started my research and came across eZee Technosys, that precise moment was the moment of impact in my life. The more I researched about this global hospitality solutions provider, the more certain I became about my decision. It seems like just yesterday when I came to the cabin of D-113 for the interview with Hitesh and Vipul, where Hitesh was talking to me while Vipul was busy on the laptop interacting with a client. That is what strikes me even now, Vipul is still working with the same energy that he had 7 years ago which is not Vipul’s energy but it is the energy of eZee and it is contagious. I too caught it very soon and every day I see that energy shared by each member of eZee.

It is an incredible honor for me to lead this dynamic team of very talented individuals like yourself and serve this incredible organization.

Over the time, you will notice many changes in the company, however, I assure you that our core values would remain the same. We have always provided the most innovative solutions to our clients and we will continue delivering  the best. I have said it before and I will say it again we can only progress if our clients are truly satisfied with our service. In the upcoming future, our core focus would be working on bringing customer delight and offering them the best user experience possible.

To achieve this goal, I need each of you to contribute passionately, put your best efforts on the table and have fun with your work. Do remember without the passion there will be nothing that can drive you and without you, there will be nothing for me to drive. I know I can count on you and together we will definitely take eZee to incredible heights. Once again quoting Robert Frost-

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep

One last thing, just to remind you that at eZee we have always welcomed new ideas and I am eager to learn more about your new ideas for eZee’s bright future.

My doors are always open for you.

Aeijaz.

Do’s and Don’ts for enhancing online hotel booking conversions

Over the past few years, hoteliers have adapted to various sources to receive maximum hotel bookings. Although various studies suggest that more than 20% of hotel’s revenue is sourced from OTA’s (Online Travel Agents), bookings can come from any where, it could be from online travel giants such as Expedia, TripAdvisor, InstantBooking, hotel’s own website or even the hotel’s Facebook page. Thus, eZee has accumulated few guidelines of do’s and don’t that will help hoteliers receive more booking from the online world.

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Below are a few of thing to ‘do’ which will enhance hotel’s online reputation:-

blue-check-mark-th  Dazzle your guest with lucrative Visual Content:

To enhance online visibility and increase bookings, let the visitors view exactly what they are booking. With various high definition images and instant gratification of a descriptive video displaying the best features of the property, the guest will be able to easily view the type of room they require. Additionally, visual content will enhance hotel’s visual appeal which will further draw the guest in.

blue-check-mark-th  Accurate and Compelling Room Description:

It is essential that you provide a compelling room description, that will extensively describe the room and amenities offered by the hotel. The detailed room and hotel description will enable the guest to make quick and informed booking decision.

blue-check-mark-th  Optimize room rates and enticing booking packages:

The room rates is the most important information the traveler is looking for. In the very competitive hotel industry, the best way to attract more bookings is to offer the most optimized and competitive room rates and attractive booking packages. Additionally, while describing the packages, use appealing descriptions like best room with complementary breakfast instead of simply mentioning hotel room with continental package.

blue-check-mark-th  Decorate your services and add a little extra:

Appeal to the guest by offering a few complementary add-ons like free WiFi and airport pick up. At times, some travelers who are booking from OTA’s visit the hotel website for to get for information on the hotel. At this stage, you can even draw the guest in by providing enticing deals and packages on booking directly with the hotel.

blue-check-mark-th  Seamless connectivity with distribution channels:

Get a dynamic and robust channel manager that provides 2- way XML connectivity between the channels and hotel’s front-desk. The seamless connectivity will result in efficient distribution and diminish the risk of overbooking. The captivating and swift booking experience will enhance the guest interaction with hotel and build up guest relation.

blue-check-mark-th  Target your audience and provide them an exceptional booking experience:

Offer your guest a dynamic and efficient booking engine that is flexible yet simple to use. Every hotel has a specific target demographics, to get the maximum output select a booking engine that offers a variety in GUI, which is alluring to your target audience. Moreover, a smooth and efficient booking experience will further enhance guest loyalty because the guest may not remember the price he paid, but rest assured he will always remember the ease and efficiency he experienced while booking with you.

blue-check-mark-th  Responsive website and mobile friendly booking engine:

As a hotelier, you have to comprehend that the modern traveler is quite tech savvy, and demand the best service on their finger tips. Therefore it is essential that hotels provide a responsive website, which is compatible with all type of devices and a booking engine which is secure and mobile friendly.

While the above points are things hoteliers can do to boost revenue, there are few issues that can drive the traveler away from booking at your property. Avoiding these issues will ensure you make the most of the online resources and lead to increase in bookings.

Below are few arrangement to avoid to increase online bookings:-

avoid in hospitality  Broadcast correct data at right place:

Make sure the information you are publishing is appearing in the appropriate panel. Displaying room description under cancellation policy is not the correct way to go and will simply confuse the booker with chances of him starting to look for other options.

avoid in hospitality  Be direct and transparent about hotel policies:

One of the driving forces to book a room, is the easy availability of complete information such as nightly rates or hotel’s terms and conditions should be easily accessible. Transparency in hotel policies like cancellation and refund procedure helps the booker to have faith in the hotel and make the booking readily.

avoid in hospitality  Keep it simple and savvy:

Since travelers can be from any part of the world it is not necessary for all of them to comprehend English language. Avoid using a lot of jargon or abbreviation while publishing description or policies. (like CXL for cancel or PAX for number of people). keep the language brief and simple to understand.

avoid in hospitality  Shun away from using uncommon symbols and unnecessarily terminologies:

Avoid using infrequent symbols like (•) in the descriptions, rates or policies as they can make it difficult for the booker to understand your content. This can confuse or mislead the booker or may even head them towards abandoning the booking.

avoid in hospitality  Don’t ignore a negative review, instead start engaging with the guest:

According to many hotel industry experts, one should always respond to an online hotel review irrespective of it being positive or negative. This will minimize the damage and refurbish hotel’s reputation. Furthermore, hoteliers can even acquire recurring business by responding a review with supplementary discounts or packages for next stay.

Conclusion

While the do’s of the list are essential to attract guest, the don’ts of the list have a pretty critical implications as well. In midst of the competitive hotel industry, it is vital to stay abreast of the upcoming trends, prioritize strategy and work towards the methods that drive exponential bookings and upsurge hotel revenue.

Features Guide for a Property Management System

Property Management Systems help hotels to manage their day to day operations with higher efficiency and heighten quality of service they offer to the guests. A good property management system simplifies the diverse operations via features which the staff performs on a steady base.

We are going to cover key features which a hotelier should look for in any good Property Management System.

Front Desk Operations

The very basic of the operations in any property, regardless of its type or size is the Front Desk Operations. A good system will allow easy check-in and checkout process for the staff. Just like any other operations, the front desk staff may have to make changes to reservations such as room change, change dates, assign rooms, and so forth. This should be relatively easy to carry out in a secure system, the modifications should take immediate effect and should make the process easy and not hinder it.

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Booking & Reservations Management

Booking and reservations are important functionality of a hotel management system. Traditionally, hotels received bookings from limited sources such as travel agents and direct bookings. Today, the story is very different as bookings come from diverse range of sources such as hotel’s website, travel websites, business source like a corporate clients and airlines, travel agents, etc. The system should be able to handle walk-ins, bookings from online travel agents, traditional agents, business sources and from corporate website with ease. An efficient system will easily distinguish between the different sources and update the records for future reference.

Billing and Payments

Stability is of the utmost importance when it comes to billing and settling payments with guests. Guests today use multitude methods of settling payments, the system should accommodate multiple payment methods per reservation including cash, credit cards, check and online payment gateways. In addition, it should have the ability to post adjustments, advance deposits, split receipts, extra charges, settlements, folio printing and taxes. The staff must be able to check and modify tasks related to billing and payment at any time according to changing requirements.

Housekeeping

Housekeeping is another central characteristic which a hotelier should look for in a PMS. The important thing a hotelier should look for in housekeeping is the flow of real time information. The housekeeping module should highlight the status of rooms and provide the ability to delegate chores to the housekeeping staff.In addition, built in inventory management for cleaning supplies and linens is always a plus.

Reports

A good system should offer the different departments the ability to generate a diverse set of reports. Given the diverse set of hotel operations and different departments working together, it is imperative that every department is able to generate reports according to their need. These reports can help management to make sound decisions and also help them build better sales and marketing strategies.

Third Party Interfaces

A good hotel management system needs to integrate and work successfully with a multitude of third party hardware and software. The interfaces for your hotel will depend on factors such as size of hotel, facilities offered and operational style. A standard hotel today usually have PABX, Door Lock, ID scanners, cash drawers, payment gateways and financial accounting software. It is always beneficial to go over before hand how compatible the PMS is with third party or they are exposed to new ones.

Conclusion

Traditionally, the hotel software came with features that covered basic hotel operations. Today, choosing the right solution for your hotel is more complex than it has ever been as the processes have become more complex. At the final stage, a good Property Management System should provide solid features that satisfy the requisites of the hotel and should be easy to adjust and carry out. Another key factor is the software provider, the provider should possess the industry expertise and experience and provide high quality post-sales support.

A good Property Management Software is the key to your hotel’s success.

Expert Q&A: Importance of Mobile Booking Engine

One of the biggest trend today in the industry is the rise of mobile bookings. More hotels are starting to take advantage mobile bookings and experiencing rise in their bookings. Taylor Short, market searcher at Software Advice, who recently did a report on Hotel Booking App User Interface. The report included eZee Reservation’s mobile booking capability and strengths of its User Interface.

eZee Reservation - Mobile Booking Engine
eZee Reservation – Mobile Booking Engine

In our first ever Q&A session, we spoke to Taylor short who shared his views on mobile booking engine and eZee’s mobile booking engine.

What are the key factors for a good mobile booking engine?

Travelers are tethered to their phones more than ever, and use them for all kinds of purposes on a trip. Offering functions like real-time rates and information about the area in a convenient and streamlined way is the best way to deliver value through a booking engine.

On what basis or standards did you narrow down the top 5?

When narrowing down the list of best mobile booking interfaces, I put myself in the shoes of a traveler and looked for a system that is eye-pleasing, simple to use and full of useful features—something I would find invaluable while traveling.

Should hotel focus more now on mobile marketing?

Absolutely. Mobile bookings are increasing as more and more travelers use their phones or tablets to plan vacations and trips. Hotels can draw significant business from these consumers by offering an engine that makes bookings fast and easy.

What should hoteliers look for in a mobile booking engine?

Hotels should prioritize two main factors when developing or choosing a booking engine: breadth of functionality and ease-of-use. Users should be able to access every function necessary to make their booking, such as maps, local information and a press-to-call feature, all while being simple to navigate.

What did you like most about eZee’s mobile booking engine?

The first thing I noticed about eZee Reservation’s mobile booking engine is its clean interface and large buttons that clearly show what functions are available, as well as the photos that hotels can use to maintain consistency throughout the booking process.

Where do you see the trend going in next couple of years?

I think mobile booking will be an increasingly important revenue channel for hospitality in the future, and the ones that will standout will be those who offer potential guests the most convenient, feature-rich option.

About Taylor Short

Taylor Short is a Managing Editor at Software Advice, where he does market research on hotel management systems. Before joining Software Advice in Fall of 2013, he worked with various newspapers covering local government and freelanced for Reuters News Agency.

How to Increase Bookings with TripAdvisor

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Everyone knows and most likely have heard of TripAdvisor at this point in time. For the uninitiated, TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site with up to 280 million unique visitors each month, 32 million members and over 150 millions reviews and opinions available online.

It is traveler’s first stop to learn about a hotel they are looking into and see what other people have to say about it. And it is only growing with 90 user generated reviews per minute allowing travelers around the world to be make more informed decisions.

TripAdvisor with its Business Listing service give options to hoteliers around the world to take complete advantage of the exposure they can receive. With a Business Listing you can share your hotel’s contact information, special offers, website link, and directly connect with your guests. In addition, your contact information will be displayed on your mobile listing page as well.

Business Listings will give hotels access to :

Direct Contact Information:

Add up-to-date contact details to your hotel’s profile page making it easy for your travelers to book directly.

Special Offers:

Perfect place to highlight special promotions and offers attracting more travelers.

TripConnect:

This service will allow hotel subscribers to appear in Hotel Price Comparison search showing rate and availability to users.

Property Dashboard:

As a Business Listings subscriber, you get exclusive access to Property Dashboard which lets you access important analysis such as competitor metrics, local market trends, visitor details and overall performance of hotel on TripAdvisor.

Sideshow and Announcements:

This will let you post important updates and news for the readers. In addition, the photos uploaded will automatically be converted into a slideshow for your travelers viewing pleasure.

So now you got your hotel in Business Listings, So how can you make the best use of the tools provided? Read on to find out:

Reply To Reviews:

Probably the single most important thing you can do is to reply the reviews posted by users, after all that’s what people read the most on TripAdvisor. Regardless if your hotel has received a positive or negative review, it is very important that you reply to it no matter what. Just a simple a reply can put big impressions on travelers. If possible, have a dedicated person who looks after reviews online and establish the practice for managing online reviews.

Update Information:

It is more common than you think that many times hotels might have the wrong number listed or the page has not been updated. This is probably the worst thing you could do, the traveler will most likely avoid your hotel if the information is wrong or is not up to date.

Write Proper Descriptions:

Spend quality time on the description which potential guests are going to read. It is very important write a proper and detailed description of your hotel, as you are the best person to do so. Description should Speak the strengths of your location and services you provide, setting yourself apart from the competition.

Right Photos:

The best way to showcase your hotel is to have the right combination of high quality photos of your property. Have a diverse collection of pictures that not only show your rooms and lobby but also other facilities. Get creative with your pictures, take pictures of art and decor in your lobby, show case rooms with different view points, pictures of views from your hotel rooms etc.

Showcase Awards:

TripAdvisor regularly rewards hotels with their Travelers’ Choice Awards which cover various categories. If your hotel has received one, make sure to highlight that on your hotel website and TripAdvisor page.

TripAdvisor with various options available for hoteliers, allow them to maximize their online presence. Hoteliers with the right practice in place can have the same exposure like big brands and increase their bookings.

Survey: What Travelers Are Looking For In Online Reviews

Online reviews play an important role when travelers are choosing a place to stay for their travel. The rise of travel sites, review websites, and social media has made it easy and convenient for travelers to look at others travel experiences and opinions. In one of the latest survey conducted by Software Advice, some of the results were obvious and some very surprising. This information can help hotels to understand customer behavior and changing trends among travelers.

In the latest survey conducted by Software Advice in which they chose 2,500 travelers to find out exactly what they look for in hotel reviews when booking a hotel. Staggering 79% of respondents said that they trust online reviews by other travelers on various travel and review websites as much as they trust recommendations coming from close family and friends.

One of the main objectives of the survey was to find out exactly how and why travelers use online reviews and what other aspects of these reviews they find most convincing when booking a hotel. You can read about the findings with important aspects with a corresponding charts highlighted below.

Large Number of Young Consumers Use Reviews Before Booking

When the survey asked travelers how often they checked online reviews of a hotel before booking a room, 46 percent of them used online reviews “sometimes,” “most of the time” or “always”.

How often do you check online customer reviews for a hotel before booking a room?
How often do you check online customer reviews for a hotel before booking a room?

Among the respondents, the largest group said they never checked online customer reviews and those who did use online reviews skewed younger: 30 percent of them belong to age group of 25 to 34 years old who used reviews most of the time, and 28 percent in the age bracket of 18-24 always use reviews.

Demographics: Online Review Usage by Age
Demographics: Online Review Usage by Age

Taylor Short of Software Advice, a company that evaluates hotel booking software had to say this regarding the trend among young travelers, “ Younger age groups between 18 to 34 are the most frequent users of online hotel reviews, most often to initially identify hotels to consider booking.”

These trends are a result of increasing internet access and mobile use, specifically among young travelers. The rise of review websites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp is due to in large part to the increased use of Travel Apps and mobile browsing.

Majority of Reviews Are Used to Identity Possibilities

Next, the survey asked respondents on what exactly they were looking for when looking at online reviews before booking a hotel. 35 percent of them use to identity hotels to consider, while 28 percent use them to narrow down their choices to selected few.

What is your most common reason for checking online customer reviews of hotels?
What is your most common reason for checking online customer reviews of hotels?

19 percent of respondents use reviews to find the best price for their choice of hotels and rest 18 percent to confirm their final choice of hotel.

Internet is the first place to look for hotel and travel information for majority of the travelers today. The popularity of review websites providing all the information and photos can be easily accessed today via various devices easily. Today’s traveler directly search for for hotels on a review site instead of directly checking the website of the hotel or even calling the property.

Expedia is the Most Popular Online Hotel Review Website

Expedia came on top as the most popular online hotel review website when travelers were asked which site they use most often, with 38%. Popular travel review site TripAdvisor came in second with 28 percent and third was Hotels.com, at 25 percent.

When viewing online customer reviews of hotels, what website do you use most often?
When viewing online customer reviews of hotels, what website do you use most often?

Among other options, Booking.com, received 6 percent. Two percent of the travelers chose none of the above and entered their own choice of website, including Hotewire.com, Kayak.com or just a Google search.

TripAdvisor and Expedia generate traffic of 260 million and 60 million visitors per monthly respectively, both of the websites offer different services to the travelers, which accounts for these numbers.

TripAdvisor offers reviews and hotel information for travelers and directing them offsite to complete a booking. Expedia on other hand operates as a full-service travel site, selling multiple types of travel arrangements such as flights, car rentals and hotels from a single point, in addition to offering reviews.

TripAdvisor and Expedia Are the Most Trusted Review Websites

Now we know which websites were used by travelers, next was the question of which websites were the most trustworthy? Surprisingly even though most of the respondents used Expedia more than TripAdvisor, both websites were equally trusted, at 34 percent.

When viewing online customer reviews of hotels, what website do you consider most trustworthy?
When viewing online customer reviews of hotels, what website do you consider most trustworthy?

The rest of the results were pretty much the same as last set: 24 percent trusted Hotels.com, and 6 percent predominantly trust Booking.com

TripAdvisor was one of the first travel websites to embrace and promote user-generated content back in 2000, it is evident from their growth that majority of the travelers may prefer unfiltered reviews. In case of Expedia, it might not receive the same level of engagement but it does verify reviews with hotels by checking sales record ensuring that reviews are real. However, at the end the type of reviews come down to personal preference.

Taylor Short further adds “Travelers say they most often use Expedia over TripAdvisor to check online hotel reviews, but results show they trust both equally. This may be a result of each website offering different types of reviews.”

Most Important Review Information Is The Hotel Price

When travelers are looking at these online reviews, what is the most important information that they’re looking for? 58 percent responded say that the price of the room is important to them.

When reading reviews of hotels online, what’s the most important type of information you’re looking for?
When reading reviews of hotels online, what’s the most important type of information you’re looking for?

Other important information travelers look for in reviews includes proximity to local attractions (16 percent) and aesthetic features, such as the size of the room or the view (15 percent). Description of on-site amenities, such as a gym or restaurant received 10 percent of the vote.

In “Other” category, respondents were given a chance to enter their own answer, and everyone stated that information about room cleanliness was a big factor for them. Among rest of the comments mentioned “Safety,” “Quality” and “Overall Experience.”

There is, however, a significant difference when looking at how each gender answered the question. Out of 15 percent travelers for whom aesthetic features was important, 63 percent were female and rest 37 percent male. Conversely, of those who said on-site amenities were most important, 59 percent were male, versus 41 percent female.

Demographics: Most Important Hotel Review Information by Gender
Demographics: Most Important Hotel Review Information by Gender

Guest-Submitted Comments Most Enticing Review Element

We know price is an important factor to consumer looking at online hotel reviews, but we wanted to know other factors convinces them to book a room. We asked travelers what element would most entice them to book, and 40 percent say specific, guest-submitted comments in the reviews are most effective at driving their decision to purchase.

Which element of an online hotel review would be most likely to entice you to book a room?
Which element of an online hotel review would be most likely to entice you to book a room?

The next most enticing feature was the hotel’s percent or star rating according to 29 percent of the respondents and 18 percent sighting guest-submitted photos of the rooms. The least enticing element of a review, according to the results is the hotel’s ranking relative to other hotels in the area for 13 percent of the travelers.

While the last question revealed that price is a huge factor, this data shows that, with the amount of information available online, travelers are looking at the bigger picture to make decisions.

Nearly Half Wouldn’t Pay More for a Well-Reviewed Hotel

As much as travelers claim they value online reviews, our findings show they might not necessarily want to pay more for a room just because of positive reviews. 47 percent replied that they wouldn’t any more for a hotel with positive reviews over one without positive reviews.

How much more might you be willing to pay for a hotel with positive online guest reviews over one without?
How much more might you be willing to pay for a hotel with positive online guest reviews over one without?

30 percent of respondents say they would pay a “a little more” and other 17 percent said they would “moderately more” for rooms with positive reviews. Very few of the travelers said they would pay “much more” or “twice as much or more”.

As we can tell from the survey that online comments can entice consumers to book a room, it seems like they do not feel like paying much more for one with positive reviews. Many consumers tend to for the overall value which could be a result consumer behavior changing from the recent economic slump.

Conclusion

The survey results clearly show that 18 – 34 year-olds tend to use online reviews to find potential places to stay. TripAdvisor or Expedia generally used by this age group for looking at the price and user reviews. But they won’t spend much more for a hotel with positive reviews over one with without.

Majority of hospitality professionals today realize the impact of authentic guest reviews, and their primary target is the younger age groups, who are willing to spend more of their disposable income on travel.

Taylor Short stats “Many hotel brands have discovered the fact that using reputation management software helps them keep an eye for negative reviews across the Web. Having that information quicker means hotels can respond sooner and have more proactive presence online.”

As the survey concludes that knowing the most important aspects of your hotel’s online reviews and how consumers use them can really help your hotel’s marketing campaigns more efficiently. The marketing team can perform reputation management more effectively and entice the travelers to book with your hotel.

Importance of Hotel Software for Small & Mid-Size Hotels

The importance of Hotel Management Software or Property Management System for hotels cannot be stressed enough anymore. It is one of the most important factors which contribute significantly to the long-term success of a hotel.

In recent years, there has been a rise of budget travelers around the world which has led to rise in number of small to mid-size hotels in the industry. This has drastically changed the landscape of the Hospitality industry in general and also directly affected the Hospitality IT industry.

Hotel Management Software (HMS) BuyerView 2014, a survey conducted by HMS research firm Software Advice, who surveyed 385 randomly selected buyers in 2013. The survey was conducted in order to discover what exactly buyers expect or want when they are choosing software for their property.

According to the report, 54% of hotel management software purchasers in the industry are independent small to mid-size hotels. The report also states that majority of the buyers are adapting to the latest software in order to leave behind the manual management of their property and buyers who are specifically looking for a software which offer reservation and online booking facilities.

Majority of Purchaser are small to Mid-size Hotels

Majority of the owners or managers, who are looking for a software solution represent (57%) properties which have 10 to 50 rooms. A combined 11 percent of buyers are from very small properties such as B&B’s, Inns, chain hotels, or large hotels with 500 plus rooms.

Majority of Purchaser are small to Mid-size Hotels

Independent Hotels, Resorts and Inns are the Primary Customer

When consulted with various managers and owners of different property types, the report found that around 1 percent is looking for software for a large hotel or a chain hotel. This is not surprising as the big brands usually have to go for in-house or corporate-mandated software. The rise of independent properties is very evident from the fact that majority of the buyers (54 percent combined) comprised of independent hotels, inns, and resorts.

HMS buyerview images.002

As the travelers are also opting more for independent hotels, inns and resorts, the properties have to adapt to new technology and advancements to keep up with the growing demand.

Majority of the buyers want to upgrade to a better system

When questioned about what method they currently use to manage their properties, 34 percent respondents are already using a property management system. The next 28 percent use manual methods consisting of spreadsheets or paper, on other hand 15 percent had no method in place.

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The “Other” categories (10 percent) use independent booking system or have stopped using a property management system. 7 percent of buyers use management software with reservation facility to meet their requirement, and last 4 percent use software built specifically for them.

Buyers want feature-rich and faster software

The report also highlights the diverse set of reasons which buyers have provided. Approximately 18 percent are looking for speed and efficiency in software which is also compatible with the latest hardware in the market. 16 percent of respondents said they go for a new product because the current one being used lack the necessary features, such internet bookings and channel management, other 15 percent just wants to improve efficiency.

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The rise of Global Distribution System (GDS) channels over last few years is no surprise as online bookings have become a standard norm in the industry today and since 2011 bookings from GDS has grown by 14 percent. Making it a surprise to no one that one of the most frequently request feature is the feature to connect to the (GDS) and system with ability to manage real-time rates and inventory.

Among others looking for an upgrade towards new software is bad experience with support service (15 percent), lack of satisfaction with user interface or GUI for other 9 percent and unsound technical software for the 7 percent of the respondents and remaining 6 percent are looking for a solution which requires minimum investment.

First timers expect higher efficiency

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72 percent of first-time buyers for hotel software make it clear that they want to achieve higher efficiency in their day-to-day operations and get away from the traditional methods. Property Management System can automate daily operations and bring a higher level of efficiency.

Majority of Buyers Need Reservation and Guest Management

28 percent of total respondents, the highest in this survey said they would like the ability to enter and edit reservations, which is a central function of a property management system. The next 22 percent buyers want an online booking capability giving them a competitive advantage, which does not surprise as 65% of hotel bookings now are made online.

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Approximately 11 percent would use guest management feature which will help them maintain information about their guests in order to understand them better and provide better service in the future.

Housekeeping management was important for 9 percent of respondents and another 9 percent expect advanced accounting and reporting feature. Lastly 6 percent of hoteliers want a distribution management and marketing functions part of their hotel management software.

Implementation in less than three months

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Staggering 85 of buyers expect the new hotel software to be implemented in less than 3 months; given the nature of the industry and how fast things are evolving it comes as no surprise. 14 percent want system to be implemented in three to six months, and remaining 2 percent in 6 to 12 months ahead of time.

Conclusion

Analysis by Software Advice Team, reflected in the report clearly shows the diversity and rapid expansion of independent hotels and how they are demanding higher-performing systems with latest features. As the competition is heating up across the industry, first-time buyers or buyers who are upgrading are looking for a solid property management system with specific features, real-time reservation, online bookings, channel management and guest management as it is the key to constantly grow and stay ahead of the competition.

How Content Marketing Can Help Your Hotels and Tourism Businesses

The word “Content Marketing” has been the industry buzzword for quite some time now, specifically in the last few years and there is definitely a valid reason for it. When done right it can do wonders for your business and increases brand value and build customer loyalty.

Businesses cannot stick with the old methodology when it comes to creating content and it is especially true for the hospitality industry. The industry that is as diverse as the businesses which offer different products and services.

There is neither a specific method nor any kind of rule that you need to follow when it comes to the creation of content and distribution of it. So how does one know if they are producing the right content and distributing it through the right channels? The answer to that question is a little more complex because getting the most relevant content to the correct audience at the very right time is no easy task and that too through the right channels.

So what exactly is Content Marketing? Content marketing is basically a practice of creating and distributing valuable content to attract the target audience. The practice of sharing the content in forms of text, images, videos, etc. and distribute it via websites, mobile apps, and social media channels.

Below I am breaking down the 3 most important things to keep in mind for Content Marketing.

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Identifying Target Audience

Identifying the target audience for your hotel is the first step towards a successful content marketing strategy and then comes the segmentation of the target audience which is equally important. You will have to go back to the basics; you have to know what kind of travelers are choosing your hotel and for what reasons. This will help you to identify other aspects of your business, i.e. is your strength and weakness of the services you offer. Once you have identified your strengths, it becomes easier to reach your current and potential customers as you will be putting your brand’s best foot forward.

Content Creation

Now that we have figured out what our target audience is and what they expect, we come to the next step that is creating content. There are no fix parameters when it comes to content creation, but one needs to follow a simple rule of thumb that is to create engaging content which has a clear purpose that is to meet an organization’s goals. First, you have to identify the form in which the content will be published; today there is no limit in what form content can be published in, web pages, blogs, videos, brochures, etc. there is an immense amount of options to choose from.

But how does one know which is the right content and in which form? To be honest, you don’t and for that matter no one does either and that is perfectly fine. Initially, you will have to experiment quite a bit and majority of the time it might not even connect, but that’s okay. You have to remember that no one knows your products and services better than you and what worked for a different organization will not necessarily work for you and vice versa.

It is very important to make the content in the simplest form possible which can be understood by your audience as you do not want your audience to lose interest. Keep it simple, keep it relevant and keep experimenting.

Content Distribution

This is one of the harder steps in content marketing as the way organizations communicate and distribute content keeps changing with constant evolution in technology. Given the prominent rise of social media, the consumers themselves have become content creators and publishers. So now hotels will need a combination of traditional distribution channel such as print media and a mix of website, mobile app and social media channels to engage their target audience.

Trying to make sense of all the options available today for distribution of content in different forms can be very overwhelming. The best approach is to try out as many as options as available and see which one connects the most with your target audience.

Once you have gone through the cycle, you will start getting more clear idea about your own products and services and your audience. Content marketing is the best way to build relationships with the audience and keep the growth constant for your hotel.


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