In 1970 in northern Minnesota, the local banker convinced my parents to buy the Town and Country Motel and Restaurant. The motel owner had died suddenly, and the banker was willing to loan them the mortgage and the down payment. He didn’t care that they had never even slept in a motel before and were young parents with a bunch of kids. We all rolled up our sleeves and worked hard to make the old place cash flow. The hotel industry is much more competitive now and demands a certain know-how to leverage revenue opportunities. Here are seven tips to bolster revenue management.

Providing excellent customer service is a critical part of the equation. 

How our world communicates is much more sophisticated now.  But no matter how advanced technology has become people still appreciate a warm welcome and a heartfelt smile. Your hotel guest experience should be your primary focus. Your guests might not remember the color of the carpet or the type of beds you have, but they will remember the experience they had. Having a personal connection with your guests makes their experience at your hotel stand out and worthy of their business. Word of mouth advertising remains the most cost-effective advertising there is. Repeat customers add value to your business. Their feedback can travel long and far through social media.

The most important and robust revenue channel is your website. 

 My parent’s marketing strategy was to hang a “We are Open sign” on the front door. Today your storefront is your website, and it better be attractive and user-friendly. Make sure your website has optimum exposure through a healthy mix of Search Engine Optimization, content marketing, and paid advertising. Make it easy for your guests to book online with a smooth and intuitive booking engine. Consistently post on all social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, and TripAdvisor.

Building Relationships is essential.

I knew when we were hosting the Lions Club at our restaurant because my parents would get dressed up. This organization attracted state governors and other community leaders. My parents knew the impact that could have on our business. Many things have changed in the hotel industry, but relationships are still vital for hotels. Building strong relationships with your community, including service providers, channel managers, revenue manager, visitors’ centers, local shops, etc. is crucial. Every connection you make is someone who could promote your hotel. 

Train Your Front Desk Staff to have a customized strategy when taking reservations.   My dad’s approach was to rent rooms to anyone that wanted one even when they woke him up from his night’s slumber at 2 a.m.  In today’s world, it is crucial to train the front desk staff. Implementing a standard sales process formula converts guest inquiries into bookings, helps maximize hotel revenues, and also start guests’ experience on a path to greater satisfaction. By training front desk clerks to ask the right questions, you can move away from the price-quoting-order-taking approach to a more customized strategy. Asking why the guest is coming to your hotel allows you to expedite the reservation process. For example, if you ask, “Have you stayed with us before?” and they say yes, you can quickly pull up their information, making their reservation effortlessly and rapidly. 

Have a comprehensive pricing strategy.

Our first summer working at the Town & Country Motel brought some surprise guests. We had anticipated the motel selling out on July 4th, but the Hell’s Angels showed up. They did not stop in to rent rooms. The tattooed bikers lined the parking lot with their motorcycles, occupying our entire parking lot. Many potential customers drove by and did not stop. There are some things you can not anticipate, but usually, the demand patterns for your hotel will be somewhat predictable. While revenue management relies heavily on past performance, it’s essential to also look at seasonal and economic changes that will affect your hotel. Comprehensive pricing strategy includes forecasting demand and comparing booking trends. Scan websites like to see what competitors are charging for various dates.

Know how to add value to your hotel.

When my mom wasn’t cooking in the restaurant or cleaning hotel rooms, she was sewing curtains. She wore many hats, including interior designer. Her special touches helped our family to sell motel rooms. Pricing your hotel rooms higher than the competition alone won’t translate into increased revenues. You must offer your customers excellent value such as outstanding customer service, quality design, location, and special packages. Another way to do this is by offering value-added benefits, such as discounts or free offers for spa or activities, free parking, etc. By including details about the rooms, you will help to raise the value of the room. For example, instead of saying the room is non-smoking with two queen beds, include details that demonstrate the value. Specify how the room’s amenities will benefit them, for example, in room 219, when you look out the window, you can see Lake Superior.

Promote the hotel’s reward program.

Some believe loyalty is a thing of the past, but several guests embrace hotel reward’s programs. Getting hotel Customers to enroll in the hotel’s reward’s program is priceless. It is also a great way to build the hotel’s database that can be used to send marketing emails. Here are some simple ways to get more people to sign up.  Make it a routine to ask during the reservation process, if they are a Rewards Club member, and if not, offer to sign them up over the phone. Let them know that it is FREE, that it should take less than a minute and will speed up their check-in. Explain to each customer all of the benefits of joining, and they start earning points immediately. Have fun with it. Brainstorm with co-workers to get ideas for signing up more members. There are usually on-going franchise incentives and awards for whoever signs up the most members in a month or quarter. 

Bolstering hotel revenues takes commitment and know-how. It also requires an understanding that the customer is the hero of your hotel story. Show them you care about them, and they will come back.