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Internet booking discount - do you offer one and are you happy with the results?

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Don Draper

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We are definitely implementing a rate increase for next year (we are hopefully refinancing in a few months here and after that I will be very happy to raise rates and maybe see occupancy drop a little, we are definitely getting burned out and want to put the brakes on that).
There are tons of B&B's in our area and we seem to be on the lower end of cost, so we are using a lot of factors to determine how much to bump the rates. I noticed some Inns offering a discount if the guest books online. I think we would like to implement this but wanted to see what the wise ones thought.
If you offer this type of discount, are you happy with the results? Does it truly generate more online bookings (I REALLY want to push this, especially with Webervations and having to check the box that says you've read the policies, it gives you much more solid ground to stand on if you have a credit card dispute for a no-show or late cancellation). Also, if you have someone on the phone, do you offer the discount to them to try and get them to book online or do you just verbally take the reservation?
All comments appreciated!
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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YES AND YES AND YES!
100% happy, 95% of bookings online, less room for typos and user error on my part due to hearing accents on fuzzy phone connections. They check the policies box which is super important to ME. They get the instant confirmation. It is a done deal.
PLUS by agreeing to the policies they have read NO SMOKING, NO KIDS under 14, cancellation policy and other things - read them.
Lastly EVERYONE likes to save money, if nothing else it makes them feel good. I shop for things on sale don't you? The shops are packed black Friday. People find it is incentive to book online.
Do it and you will never turn back. Instead of all these quirky special deals, this is one that has stuck and I will continue to offer.
 

Don Draper

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YES AND YES AND YES!
100% happy, 95% of bookings online, less room for typos and user error on my part due to hearing accents on fuzzy phone connections. They check the policies box which is super important to ME. They get the instant confirmation. It is a done deal.
PLUS by agreeing to the policies they have read NO SMOKING, NO KIDS under 14, cancellation policy and other things - read them.
Lastly EVERYONE likes to save money, if nothing else it makes them feel good. I shop for things on sale don't you? The shops are packed black Friday. People find it is incentive to book online.
Do it and you will never turn back. Instead of all these quirky special deals, this is one that has stuck and I will continue to offer..
Sweet! That is what I was hoping to hear.
So, if you have someone on the phone do you encourage them to book online to receive the discount? Does anyone ever buck against that and want the discount on the phone?
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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YES AND YES AND YES!
100% happy, 95% of bookings online, less room for typos and user error on my part due to hearing accents on fuzzy phone connections. They check the policies box which is super important to ME. They get the instant confirmation. It is a done deal.
PLUS by agreeing to the policies they have read NO SMOKING, NO KIDS under 14, cancellation policy and other things - read them.
Lastly EVERYONE likes to save money, if nothing else it makes them feel good. I shop for things on sale don't you? The shops are packed black Friday. People find it is incentive to book online.
Do it and you will never turn back. Instead of all these quirky special deals, this is one that has stuck and I will continue to offer..
Sweet! That is what I was hoping to hear.
So, if you have someone on the phone do you encourage them to book online to receive the discount? Does anyone ever buck against that and want the discount on the phone?
.
InnsiderInfo said:
Sweet! That is what I was hoping to hear.
So, if you have someone on the phone do you encourage them to book online to receive the discount? Does anyone ever buck against that and want the discount on the phone?
Yes and Yes. I hate to pawn them off and possibly lose a booking, but I tell them to book online if they are in the iffy stage - you know, look at the website for room photos etc, to see which room appeals to you. If they want to book right now I will take it. Most phone calls I have in that regard are "We were about to book online and wanted to ask..." Usually something about distance to an event or similar.
Yes the example I gave on the TA review thread. Why do I have to bother, just gimmee the triple A. BTW for the bennies of all new innkeepers to this forum - I gave up triple A discounts year one. They were ALL the royal pitas we speak of. They truly are hotel-goers, not B&B guests, at all. They will be the ones to GLEAN everything they can get their hands on. (That was MY experience here)
Case in point: I answer a call.
Me "Yes I can offer you $20 off per night"
Old dude "What about triple A? Can't I get a triple A discount?"
Me "Sure, that is $10 off per night instead of the $20 off I just offered you, which would you rather have?"
He "I have to get my triple A discount!"
Okay done.
...the rest of the story - I gave him his triple A like he asked.
DOH!
 

Morticia

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I did this last year under the influence of JBJ's love of the 'book online and save' discount idea. I DID get a lot of bookings online, but I still got way more offline. So, I ended up discounting mostly prime season rates to save myself 5 minutes on the phone in March, when I'm not doing anything anyway.
My take? It wasn't worth it in the long run.
However, that means nothing. Because I don't know if those guests booked specifically for the discount and that they would not have booked without it. Or if they just would have called to book.
I STILL do not get more than 40% online bookings. And last year when I had the discount it didn't go up any.
 

Don Draper

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I did this last year under the influence of JBJ's love of the 'book online and save' discount idea. I DID get a lot of bookings online, but I still got way more offline. So, I ended up discounting mostly prime season rates to save myself 5 minutes on the phone in March, when I'm not doing anything anyway.
My take? It wasn't worth it in the long run.
However, that means nothing. Because I don't know if those guests booked specifically for the discount and that they would not have booked without it. Or if they just would have called to book.
I STILL do not get more than 40% online bookings. And last year when I had the discount it didn't go up any..
When we took over in 2006 the PO's did not have online availability or reservations...so once we put Webervations on our website the online bookings obviously jumped. I'd say we're about 50/50 over the past three years, but these past 4 months in particular it's been a LOT of phone reservations...and we've each made one mistake where we took the phone reservation but never put it in the book...so guests showed up and had no room...FUN!
SO...we are revamping our system to try to get rid of the book all together which will cut down on mishaps, but I think using this kind of discount will prompt more people to book online which also saves on mistakes. I think we are going to build more into the new rates then we would have, knowing we will discount them (this would hopefully save me from discounting prime season rates in March, as you pointed out).
I'm finding as well that repeat guests (who make up at least 40% of our business) are all tending to book online...they are comfortable with the Inn and know exactly what they are getting and they are constantly on our site, checking out the blog, and looking for availability...so this gives me a way to reward them as well.
I'm glad for the feedback from everyone, we really need to mull this over and luckily we have some time to do that.
 

Morticia

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I did this last year under the influence of JBJ's love of the 'book online and save' discount idea. I DID get a lot of bookings online, but I still got way more offline. So, I ended up discounting mostly prime season rates to save myself 5 minutes on the phone in March, when I'm not doing anything anyway.
My take? It wasn't worth it in the long run.
However, that means nothing. Because I don't know if those guests booked specifically for the discount and that they would not have booked without it. Or if they just would have called to book.
I STILL do not get more than 40% online bookings. And last year when I had the discount it didn't go up any..
When we took over in 2006 the PO's did not have online availability or reservations...so once we put Webervations on our website the online bookings obviously jumped. I'd say we're about 50/50 over the past three years, but these past 4 months in particular it's been a LOT of phone reservations...and we've each made one mistake where we took the phone reservation but never put it in the book...so guests showed up and had no room...FUN!
SO...we are revamping our system to try to get rid of the book all together which will cut down on mishaps, but I think using this kind of discount will prompt more people to book online which also saves on mistakes. I think we are going to build more into the new rates then we would have, knowing we will discount them (this would hopefully save me from discounting prime season rates in March, as you pointed out).
I'm finding as well that repeat guests (who make up at least 40% of our business) are all tending to book online...they are comfortable with the Inn and know exactly what they are getting and they are constantly on our site, checking out the blog, and looking for availability...so this gives me a way to reward them as well.
I'm glad for the feedback from everyone, we really need to mull this over and luckily we have some time to do that.
.
I would reward repeats better than off the street guests...
You have absolutely no ongoing outlay of cash for advertising to get repeats. So, cut them more slack than the average online booker. And tell them that when you see them, or in an email. 'I saw you booked online, but you get a better discount for being a repeat. Thanks for your continued business.'
Funny thing with my repeats is that the book all over the place. Some via the web, some in an email, some have us on speed dial and others just show up at the door. I would say that 75% have never seen the website. They have the phone number, that's all they need. Plus, once they figure out it is faster to call me than to do all that typing, they call!
I have to ask, if you are using a guest mgmt system, how can you not know someone has booked? Don't you enter the phone call bookings immediately into Weber? As in, while you are on the phone with the guest?
 

NW BB

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InnsiderInfo said:
We are definitely implementing a rate increase for next year...
There are tons of B&B's in our area and we seem to be on the lower end of cost, so we are using a lot of factors to determine how much to bump the rates. I noticed some Inns offering a discount if the guest books online. I think we would like to implement this but wanted to see what the wise ones thought.
My question to you would be why are you waiting for the rate increase? My suggestion would be to start now...creep up your rates instead of a big jump all at once. That way your repeat guests barely notice. When evaluating your rates, be sure to compare all the amenities you provide in comparison to those other B&Bs around you. Be sure you're not known as the "cheap B&B".
As far as online bookings, we get about 90% of our bookings online (webervations) and it's been my experience that those online bookings are the guests that are not interested in bargaining you down. I would not offer them a discount...they're already sold on your place! I have made it a policy to not discount my rooms, but instead throw in something else free. If you feel like you just need to offer something to encourage online bookings, offer a complimentary bottle of champagne/chocolates, unique gift of your area, etc. if they book online. That way you keep the integrity of your rates, but still offer some perceived value.
If someone called to make a reservation and didn't mention the special online booking offer, I wouldn't tell them about it. You've already got them on the phone, it only takes a couple of minutes to get their info and you don't take the risk of losing them.
 

Don Draper

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I did this last year under the influence of JBJ's love of the 'book online and save' discount idea. I DID get a lot of bookings online, but I still got way more offline. So, I ended up discounting mostly prime season rates to save myself 5 minutes on the phone in March, when I'm not doing anything anyway.
My take? It wasn't worth it in the long run.
However, that means nothing. Because I don't know if those guests booked specifically for the discount and that they would not have booked without it. Or if they just would have called to book.
I STILL do not get more than 40% online bookings. And last year when I had the discount it didn't go up any..
When we took over in 2006 the PO's did not have online availability or reservations...so once we put Webervations on our website the online bookings obviously jumped. I'd say we're about 50/50 over the past three years, but these past 4 months in particular it's been a LOT of phone reservations...and we've each made one mistake where we took the phone reservation but never put it in the book...so guests showed up and had no room...FUN!
SO...we are revamping our system to try to get rid of the book all together which will cut down on mishaps, but I think using this kind of discount will prompt more people to book online which also saves on mistakes. I think we are going to build more into the new rates then we would have, knowing we will discount them (this would hopefully save me from discounting prime season rates in March, as you pointed out).
I'm finding as well that repeat guests (who make up at least 40% of our business) are all tending to book online...they are comfortable with the Inn and know exactly what they are getting and they are constantly on our site, checking out the blog, and looking for availability...so this gives me a way to reward them as well.
I'm glad for the feedback from everyone, we really need to mull this over and luckily we have some time to do that.
.
I would reward repeats better than off the street guests...
You have absolutely no ongoing outlay of cash for advertising to get repeats. So, cut them more slack than the average online booker. And tell them that when you see them, or in an email. 'I saw you booked online, but you get a better discount for being a repeat. Thanks for your continued business.'
Funny thing with my repeats is that the book all over the place. Some via the web, some in an email, some have us on speed dial and others just show up at the door. I would say that 75% have never seen the website. They have the phone number, that's all they need. Plus, once they figure out it is faster to call me than to do all that typing, they call!
I have to ask, if you are using a guest mgmt system, how can you not know someone has booked? Don't you enter the phone call bookings immediately into Weber? As in, while you are on the phone with the guest?
.
Good question! As of now we have no guest management software. We use Webervations, and then we have our dinosaur of a book that all the booking info gets written into, then the actual room schedule book that you have to write the guests' names onto. So what happens is this...we take a phone reservation and never write the guests' names on the room schedule page and never gets "blocked" out in Webervations...then someone makes a Webervations for the same date and room and it does get written in...double booking.
It's happened about 4 times in 3 years...unfortunately the last two were only a week apart. You don't even want to know the system we inherited...absolutely nothing was computerized. And now we are so much busier that we don't have spare rooms when a mistake happens.
So we definitely need to streamline this process but are not sure what the best system will be. RezOvation and SuperInn all seem exorbitantly expensive so we've been hesitant to go there. We just upgraded all computers to Macs and they have their own database system that we are playing with to see if we can make it work.
Again, any and all suggestions and tips are welcomed and appreciated! Thanks for you all your input.
 

Don Draper

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InnsiderInfo said:
We are definitely implementing a rate increase for next year...
There are tons of B&B's in our area and we seem to be on the lower end of cost, so we are using a lot of factors to determine how much to bump the rates. I noticed some Inns offering a discount if the guest books online. I think we would like to implement this but wanted to see what the wise ones thought.
My question to you would be why are you waiting for the rate increase? My suggestion would be to start now...creep up your rates instead of a big jump all at once. That way your repeat guests barely notice. When evaluating your rates, be sure to compare all the amenities you provide in comparison to those other B&Bs around you. Be sure you're not known as the "cheap B&B".
As far as online bookings, we get about 90% of our bookings online (webervations) and it's been my experience that those online bookings are the guests that are not interested in bargaining you down. I would not offer them a discount...they're already sold on your place! I have made it a policy to not discount my rooms, but instead throw in something else free. If you feel like you just need to offer something to encourage online bookings, offer a complimentary bottle of champagne/chocolates, unique gift of your area, etc. if they book online. That way you keep the integrity of your rates, but still offer some perceived value.
If someone called to make a reservation and didn't mention the special online booking offer, I wouldn't tell them about it. You've already got them on the phone, it only takes a couple of minutes to get their info and you don't take the risk of losing them..
We are conflicted on this as well. Our area has over 20 b&b's and I think our amenities are very much on par, our rooms are a bit smaller as are our common areas. It's our location that is distinctive and sets us apart. We are definitely not known as the "cheap B&B" but we are known as the busiest. I've noticed that this year our competitors have all switched to a week day versus weekend rate...we have no desire to do this, just too many factors. Plus we stay just as busy during the week as weekends so I don't see the point. We do have a two night minimum stay for weekends.
I guess we are waiting to try to keep things simple...instead of trying to remember different rate structures. We usually do all increases on a calendar year basis.
I think we will go with an additional discount for repeaters on top of the online booking discount.
 

muirford

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InnsiderInfo said:
We are definitely implementing a rate increase for next year...
There are tons of B&B's in our area and we seem to be on the lower end of cost, so we are using a lot of factors to determine how much to bump the rates. I noticed some Inns offering a discount if the guest books online. I think we would like to implement this but wanted to see what the wise ones thought.
My question to you would be why are you waiting for the rate increase? My suggestion would be to start now...creep up your rates instead of a big jump all at once. That way your repeat guests barely notice. When evaluating your rates, be sure to compare all the amenities you provide in comparison to those other B&Bs around you. Be sure you're not known as the "cheap B&B".
As far as online bookings, we get about 90% of our bookings online (webervations) and it's been my experience that those online bookings are the guests that are not interested in bargaining you down. I would not offer them a discount...they're already sold on your place! I have made it a policy to not discount my rooms, but instead throw in something else free. If you feel like you just need to offer something to encourage online bookings, offer a complimentary bottle of champagne/chocolates, unique gift of your area, etc. if they book online. That way you keep the integrity of your rates, but still offer some perceived value.
If someone called to make a reservation and didn't mention the special online booking offer, I wouldn't tell them about it. You've already got them on the phone, it only takes a couple of minutes to get their info and you don't take the risk of losing them..
We are conflicted on this as well. Our area has over 20 b&b's and I think our amenities are very much on par, our rooms are a bit smaller as are our common areas. It's our location that is distinctive and sets us apart. We are definitely not known as the "cheap B&B" but we are known as the busiest. I've noticed that this year our competitors have all switched to a week day versus weekend rate...we have no desire to do this, just too many factors. Plus we stay just as busy during the week as weekends so I don't see the point. We do have a two night minimum stay for weekends.
I guess we are waiting to try to keep things simple...instead of trying to remember different rate structures. We usually do all increases on a calendar year basis.
I think we will go with an additional discount for repeaters on top of the online booking discount.
.
If you are the busiest, you should definitely raise your rates. Do it now, before the summer season starts in earnest. $15 a night, maybe more. If you are in a tourist location, you may not need weekday vs. weekend rates, or seasonal rates.
 

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I guess it depends on your guests. We are in wine country and don't offer a discount online. If they call on the phone I usually get them to do it online as I tell them the online booking is set up with questions so that I can be sure not to serve them breakfast foods they dislike, and to find out their wine preferences. This gets them to do it. Chris flat out says we prefer it so we both know they have read our booking policies which I don't point out.
I have only had about two who didn't use computers but did use email so i sent them a form to fill out and email back.
Riki
 

EmptyNest

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I did this last year under the influence of JBJ's love of the 'book online and save' discount idea. I DID get a lot of bookings online, but I still got way more offline. So, I ended up discounting mostly prime season rates to save myself 5 minutes on the phone in March, when I'm not doing anything anyway.
My take? It wasn't worth it in the long run.
However, that means nothing. Because I don't know if those guests booked specifically for the discount and that they would not have booked without it. Or if they just would have called to book.
I STILL do not get more than 40% online bookings. And last year when I had the discount it didn't go up any..
When we took over in 2006 the PO's did not have online availability or reservations...so once we put Webervations on our website the online bookings obviously jumped. I'd say we're about 50/50 over the past three years, but these past 4 months in particular it's been a LOT of phone reservations...and we've each made one mistake where we took the phone reservation but never put it in the book...so guests showed up and had no room...FUN!
SO...we are revamping our system to try to get rid of the book all together which will cut down on mishaps, but I think using this kind of discount will prompt more people to book online which also saves on mistakes. I think we are going to build more into the new rates then we would have, knowing we will discount them (this would hopefully save me from discounting prime season rates in March, as you pointed out).
I'm finding as well that repeat guests (who make up at least 40% of our business) are all tending to book online...they are comfortable with the Inn and know exactly what they are getting and they are constantly on our site, checking out the blog, and looking for availability...so this gives me a way to reward them as well.
I'm glad for the feedback from everyone, we really need to mull this over and luckily we have some time to do that.
.
I would reward repeats better than off the street guests...
You have absolutely no ongoing outlay of cash for advertising to get repeats. So, cut them more slack than the average online booker. And tell them that when you see them, or in an email. 'I saw you booked online, but you get a better discount for being a repeat. Thanks for your continued business.'
Funny thing with my repeats is that the book all over the place. Some via the web, some in an email, some have us on speed dial and others just show up at the door. I would say that 75% have never seen the website. They have the phone number, that's all they need. Plus, once they figure out it is faster to call me than to do all that typing, they call!
I have to ask, if you are using a guest mgmt system, how can you not know someone has booked? Don't you enter the phone call bookings immediately into Weber? As in, while you are on the phone with the guest?
.
I have always hated the work DISCOUNT!!! I gave no discounts to anyone except military and that was it. I certainly wouldn't give a walk in a discount. Sorry but that is just me. Since I wasn't running the B & B to make a living, I didn't care if my rooms were empty or not. If they were going to be filled it was at full price though:)
 

seashanty

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i did not offer any money off for booking online .. most of my bookings already came online.
but i did offer SPECIALS (never discounts) ... constantly. my area was known as a place to get a bargain and that's what people were looking for. also, a little hotel across the road had such low rates i was competing against. i say hotel, but after my first year there, they gave guests complimentary breakfast and coffee/tea any time.
my special was always the same lower rate, i just had a different name during those 'special' times. i was always trying to draw people to my door.
also, i offered last minute specials for the unbooked rooms that day. this was always done on MY terms. if i did not want to do it at certain times, i turned off that feature in webervations.
you have to do what works for you.
some caution against lowering your rates to fill your place. and there is a rate below which i would not go ... period. but there were times when i was really struggling to make ends meet - pay the electric bill - things like that - so i was in that frame of mind.
good luck
 

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Innsider, we do not discount for online booking. We do however discount for multi nights (varies due to time of year, weekdays vs weekends etc). I have been toying (due to JBJ's constant statements) with the idea and may give it a try like Bree did...
Regarding your rates, it is 1st important to compare what you provide to what all the others provide vs the rates. Use a spreadsheet to help you with this process. You also should look at what types of business your B&B is attracting...are you mainly getting tourists (and is this seasonal)? Or is it a mix of business guests week days vs 'weekend getaways'. This would help you determine if a higher rate for weekends would work...you have already come to the conclusion that weekends need a min. night stay.
One mentioned inching up your rates and I think this is a good idea if you are going to raise them more than $20. But you do not want your regulars to continually see $5-10 rate increases each time they book ( if by regular you mean booking several times within a 6mth period).
This IS a tough decision each of us has to make from time to time. You may loose a few repeat guests but it will all work out in the wash.
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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I did this last year under the influence of JBJ's love of the 'book online and save' discount idea. I DID get a lot of bookings online, but I still got way more offline. So, I ended up discounting mostly prime season rates to save myself 5 minutes on the phone in March, when I'm not doing anything anyway.
My take? It wasn't worth it in the long run.
However, that means nothing. Because I don't know if those guests booked specifically for the discount and that they would not have booked without it. Or if they just would have called to book.
I STILL do not get more than 40% online bookings. And last year when I had the discount it didn't go up any..
When we took over in 2006 the PO's did not have online availability or reservations...so once we put Webervations on our website the online bookings obviously jumped. I'd say we're about 50/50 over the past three years, but these past 4 months in particular it's been a LOT of phone reservations...and we've each made one mistake where we took the phone reservation but never put it in the book...so guests showed up and had no room...FUN!
SO...we are revamping our system to try to get rid of the book all together which will cut down on mishaps, but I think using this kind of discount will prompt more people to book online which also saves on mistakes. I think we are going to build more into the new rates then we would have, knowing we will discount them (this would hopefully save me from discounting prime season rates in March, as you pointed out).
I'm finding as well that repeat guests (who make up at least 40% of our business) are all tending to book online...they are comfortable with the Inn and know exactly what they are getting and they are constantly on our site, checking out the blog, and looking for availability...so this gives me a way to reward them as well.
I'm glad for the feedback from everyone, we really need to mull this over and luckily we have some time to do that.
.
I would reward repeats better than off the street guests...
You have absolutely no ongoing outlay of cash for advertising to get repeats. So, cut them more slack than the average online booker. And tell them that when you see them, or in an email. 'I saw you booked online, but you get a better discount for being a repeat. Thanks for your continued business.'
Funny thing with my repeats is that the book all over the place. Some via the web, some in an email, some have us on speed dial and others just show up at the door. I would say that 75% have never seen the website. They have the phone number, that's all they need. Plus, once they figure out it is faster to call me than to do all that typing, they call!
I have to ask, if you are using a guest mgmt system, how can you not know someone has booked? Don't you enter the phone call bookings immediately into Weber? As in, while you are on the phone with the guest?
.
Good question! As of now we have no guest management software. We use Webervations, and then we have our dinosaur of a book that all the booking info gets written into, then the actual room schedule book that you have to write the guests' names onto. So what happens is this...we take a phone reservation and never write the guests' names on the room schedule page and never gets "blocked" out in Webervations...then someone makes a Webervations for the same date and room and it does get written in...double booking.
It's happened about 4 times in 3 years...unfortunately the last two were only a week apart. You don't even want to know the system we inherited...absolutely nothing was computerized. And now we are so much busier that we don't have spare rooms when a mistake happens.
So we definitely need to streamline this process but are not sure what the best system will be. RezOvation and SuperInn all seem exorbitantly expensive so we've been hesitant to go there. We just upgraded all computers to Macs and they have their own database system that we are playing with to see if we can make it work.
Again, any and all suggestions and tips are welcomed and appreciated! Thanks for you all your input.
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InnsiderInfo said:
Good question! As of now we have no guest management software. We use Webervations, and then we have our dinosaur of a book that all the booking info gets written into, then the actual room schedule book that you have to write the guests' names onto. So what happens is this...we take a phone reservation and never write the guests' names on the room schedule page and never gets "blocked" out in Webervations...then someone makes a Webervations for the same date and room and it does get written in...double booking.
It's happened about 4 times in 3 years...unfortunately the last two were only a week apart. You don't even want to know the system we inherited...absolutely nothing was computerized. And now we are so much busier that we don't have spare rooms when a mistake happens.
So we definitely need to streamline this process but are not sure what the best system will be. RezOvation and SuperInn all seem exorbitantly expensive so we've been hesitant to go there. We just upgraded all computers to Macs and they have their own database system that we are playing with to see if we can make it work.
Again, any and all suggestions and tips are welcomed and appreciated! Thanks for you all your input.
We bought this place and she had used index cards, that was all no online rez system no guest mgmt. We had not one stitch of info on any guest who ever stayed here before us, nada.
A guest mgmt system is paramount as I can push a button and run any and every report imaginable, like I just did for monthly taxes. You have notes, search features, and much more. I would not be without it. We use Guestall. They offer a free trial if you are interested.
You can even print out a room availability chart/calendar to keep with you if you do take bookings remotely. It is concise, all on one page. It allows al the great features like services/gift shop sales/discounts/prints confirmation and all correspondence, statements (I print every statement which has policies and more info on it that I attach the guest cc rcpt to), special rate periods, all the same things you can add in webervations you can add here.
I also can print anything to an email file in PDF format...I do this when someone forgets their rcpt or a company needs a copy of it. PDF it to them
Guestall http://www.guestall.com/
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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InnsiderInfo said:
We are definitely implementing a rate increase for next year...
There are tons of B&B's in our area and we seem to be on the lower end of cost, so we are using a lot of factors to determine how much to bump the rates. I noticed some Inns offering a discount if the guest books online. I think we would like to implement this but wanted to see what the wise ones thought.
My question to you would be why are you waiting for the rate increase? My suggestion would be to start now...creep up your rates instead of a big jump all at once. That way your repeat guests barely notice. When evaluating your rates, be sure to compare all the amenities you provide in comparison to those other B&Bs around you. Be sure you're not known as the "cheap B&B".
As far as online bookings, we get about 90% of our bookings online (webervations) and it's been my experience that those online bookings are the guests that are not interested in bargaining you down. I would not offer them a discount...they're already sold on your place! I have made it a policy to not discount my rooms, but instead throw in something else free. If you feel like you just need to offer something to encourage online bookings, offer a complimentary bottle of champagne/chocolates, unique gift of your area, etc. if they book online. That way you keep the integrity of your rates, but still offer some perceived value.
If someone called to make a reservation and didn't mention the special online booking offer, I wouldn't tell them about it. You've already got them on the phone, it only takes a couple of minutes to get their info and you don't take the risk of losing them..
We are conflicted on this as well. Our area has over 20 b&b's and I think our amenities are very much on par, our rooms are a bit smaller as are our common areas. It's our location that is distinctive and sets us apart. We are definitely not known as the "cheap B&B" but we are known as the busiest. I've noticed that this year our competitors have all switched to a week day versus weekend rate...we have no desire to do this, just too many factors. Plus we stay just as busy during the week as weekends so I don't see the point. We do have a two night minimum stay for weekends.
I guess we are waiting to try to keep things simple...instead of trying to remember different rate structures. We usually do all increases on a calendar year basis.
I think we will go with an additional discount for repeaters on top of the online booking discount.
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InnsiderInfo said:
We are conflicted on this as well. Our area has over 20 b&b's and I think our amenities are very much on par, our rooms are a bit smaller as are our common areas. It's our location that is distinctive and sets us apart. We are definitely not known as the "cheap B&B" but we are known as the busiest. I've noticed that this year our competitors have all switched to a week day versus weekend rate...we have no desire to do this, just too many factors. Plus we stay just as busy during the week as weekends so I don't see the point. We do have a two night minimum stay for weekends.
I guess we are waiting to try to keep things simple...instead of trying to remember different rate structures. We usually do all increases on a calendar year basis.
I think we will go with an additional discount for repeaters on top of the online booking discount.
With guest mgmt software you hold the rates for whatever period. So if I raise them for July then they show up in the system. Dh knows to never tell a room rate without looking at our guestall system. We are not one to have weekday vs weekend rates here, we are like you, just as many weekday it seems.
 

Morticia

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I did this last year under the influence of JBJ's love of the 'book online and save' discount idea. I DID get a lot of bookings online, but I still got way more offline. So, I ended up discounting mostly prime season rates to save myself 5 minutes on the phone in March, when I'm not doing anything anyway.
My take? It wasn't worth it in the long run.
However, that means nothing. Because I don't know if those guests booked specifically for the discount and that they would not have booked without it. Or if they just would have called to book.
I STILL do not get more than 40% online bookings. And last year when I had the discount it didn't go up any..
When we took over in 2006 the PO's did not have online availability or reservations...so once we put Webervations on our website the online bookings obviously jumped. I'd say we're about 50/50 over the past three years, but these past 4 months in particular it's been a LOT of phone reservations...and we've each made one mistake where we took the phone reservation but never put it in the book...so guests showed up and had no room...FUN!
SO...we are revamping our system to try to get rid of the book all together which will cut down on mishaps, but I think using this kind of discount will prompt more people to book online which also saves on mistakes. I think we are going to build more into the new rates then we would have, knowing we will discount them (this would hopefully save me from discounting prime season rates in March, as you pointed out).
I'm finding as well that repeat guests (who make up at least 40% of our business) are all tending to book online...they are comfortable with the Inn and know exactly what they are getting and they are constantly on our site, checking out the blog, and looking for availability...so this gives me a way to reward them as well.
I'm glad for the feedback from everyone, we really need to mull this over and luckily we have some time to do that.
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I would reward repeats better than off the street guests...
You have absolutely no ongoing outlay of cash for advertising to get repeats. So, cut them more slack than the average online booker. And tell them that when you see them, or in an email. 'I saw you booked online, but you get a better discount for being a repeat. Thanks for your continued business.'
Funny thing with my repeats is that the book all over the place. Some via the web, some in an email, some have us on speed dial and others just show up at the door. I would say that 75% have never seen the website. They have the phone number, that's all they need. Plus, once they figure out it is faster to call me than to do all that typing, they call!
I have to ask, if you are using a guest mgmt system, how can you not know someone has booked? Don't you enter the phone call bookings immediately into Weber? As in, while you are on the phone with the guest?
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Good question! As of now we have no guest management software. We use Webervations, and then we have our dinosaur of a book that all the booking info gets written into, then the actual room schedule book that you have to write the guests' names onto. So what happens is this...we take a phone reservation and never write the guests' names on the room schedule page and never gets "blocked" out in Webervations...then someone makes a Webervations for the same date and room and it does get written in...double booking.
It's happened about 4 times in 3 years...unfortunately the last two were only a week apart. You don't even want to know the system we inherited...absolutely nothing was computerized. And now we are so much busier that we don't have spare rooms when a mistake happens.
So we definitely need to streamline this process but are not sure what the best system will be. RezOvation and SuperInn all seem exorbitantly expensive so we've been hesitant to go there. We just upgraded all computers to Macs and they have their own database system that we are playing with to see if we can make it work.
Again, any and all suggestions and tips are welcomed and appreciated! Thanks for you all your input.
.
What I meant was that you would be using Webervations while you are on the phone. As if the guest did the booking, but instead you are. Then everything is typed into the system. I don't know what it looks like from the innkeeper's side, I just thought you must see what the guest wrote in so you could then use the same info if you typed it vs the guest.
 

gillumhouse

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I raise my rates a few dollars every year or two. I give repeat guests last year's price as a reward for being repeat - that way they are always paying less and a few choice special people are a couple years behind in rate hikes. I do not believe in discounts. I have posted on my web site special rates for military, cops, and firemen - if you qualify ask.
Little increases are not noticed as much as the whoppers because the rates did not change in 10 years. Everyone understands small increases - and only your repeats are going to notice the increase because the new guests do not know what the rates WERE.
 

Copperhead

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I raise my rates a few dollars every year or two. I give repeat guests last year's price as a reward for being repeat - that way they are always paying less and a few choice special people are a couple years behind in rate hikes. I do not believe in discounts. I have posted on my web site special rates for military, cops, and firemen - if you qualify ask.
Little increases are not noticed as much as the whoppers because the rates did not change in 10 years. Everyone understands small increases - and only your repeats are going to notice the increase because the new guests do not know what the rates WERE..
gillumhouse said:
Little increases are not noticed as much as the whoppers because the rates did not change in 10 years. Everyone understands small increases - and only your repeats are going to notice the increase because the new guests do not know what the rates WERE.
Unless your repeats are several years between visits...I had these 2 couples that visited here 2-3 times in our early days. Then did not hear back from them until '06 (4-5 years later) when they called to book for an upcoming weekend.. "Wow your rates are WHAT? You use to be much less. I will call you back after I talk to Joe." Never heard from them again... Now my rates had inched up (as well as the amenities etc) in this time...So for them it did not matter all they saw was a big price difference. Don't tell me they had not experienced inflation..
 

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