Every hotel, B&B or independent accommodation provider should have a slick, all-singing, all-dancing website to sell their rooms with, and a huge part of its success is down to an efficient hotel booking system that can easily be used by a member of staff at any time of day. You want to be everything that Basil Faulty is not: on the ball, totally calm, and ready for action.
Your booking system should be adept at handling enquiries and checking availability, accepting or rejecting bookings, taking deposits and payments, refunds, and – most importantly – keeping an accurate record at all times. This looks like a lot but imagine life without it – trust us, it’s worth it!
1. Handling enquiries
Nowadays, customers can get in touch any time, so you need to be on-hand to answer any enquiry that comes your way.
The simplest way of taking bookings is through an online booking system, like eviivo Suite. However, your guests may want to know more information, so it’s nice to offer up a more personal approach alongside; make your phone number prominent on your website so people know where to reach you if they want to talk. This is a nice opportunity to demonstrate your great customer service skills too, and creating a rapport with a prospective customer will make them more likely to choose your B&B.
Make sure you have a professional yet personalised voicemail too, so if you’re just too busy with all of your existing customers to answer the phone, they can still benefit from a personal touch. Where emails are concerned, inject a bit of personality into your replies, as this will help recreate the kind of immediacy you get from a phone call.
If you struggle to keep up with the admin, eviivo’s Guest Manager is a great tool for staying on top of guest communications with personalised and automated emails.
2. Your bookings, your way: online and offline
Let’s face it, working online is much more efficient and you can manage your bookings from start to finish, whether you’re working on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. It’s a great way to save time and it will open you up to an international bank of potential customers. TripAdvisor can help you where that is concerned – take a look at our hints and tips for international success here: Going global: how to attract visitors from all over the world.
When you pick your online management system, keep in mind a few things:
- It should be easy to use, so any member of staff can access and work with the bookings.
- It should make all your booking flow seamless and keep key tasks and information in one place.
- Ensure it’s safe, secure and PCI compliant with a clearly communicated support system and process in place. It’s even better if there is a customer support team for you to speak to if needed.
This kind of software doesn’t have to cost you a lot and it will make running your B&B incredibly simple, so it’s definitely worth the investment!
Why not check out eviivo’s Property Manager? It is packed full of all of these features and designed to help your business run like clockwork.
3. What an online booking system can do for your business
Technology has advanced in such a way that you can effectively manage all your bookings from start to finish on the go, whether you use a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Some of the most useful things that you can do with an online booking system are:
- Get bookings from a number of different online channels, including Expedia and TripAdvisor
- Add, cancel or amend bookings
- Accept payments and administer refunds
- Monitor guest payment activity
- Real-time booking and room availability checks
- Easy access to guest information
- Add special offers or seasonal discounts
4. Juggling bookings
As great as high demand for your property is, occasionally this can cause a spot of bother so it’s important to know how to handle a sticky situation. Let’s look at an example.
Say you have three double rooms all booked up, and one twin room which is empty. You receive an enquiry from a couple who want a double room for five nights – what’s your plan of action?
A five-night stay is too good to turn down, surely, so since you do have an extra room to play with, take the booking and see if you can work some magic. A single guest may have booked one of the double rooms, so they might be willing to switch to a twin (throw in a discounted breakfast or bottle of bubbly and they may take the bait). Alternatively, the couple may be happy to take the twin room with the beds pushed together.
There are ways around most booking dilemmas, so long as you stay calm and learn to think on your feet. Keep everyone in the loop (staff and customers alike), and you can find a solution to please them all!
Managing bookings needn’t be a headache. An efficient online system and a practical approach to any challenging situation will work to keep you totally on top of all your rooms and the guests within them, helping you create a smooth, relaxed and enjoyable B&B experience.
However, just in case your customers definitely don’t want a twin room, and you’re not sure how to handle the situation, we’ve got you covered! For tips on how to deal with difficult customers, read our guide: Is the customer always right? How to deal with difficult guests.