A Weird Tech Tip for Independent Hotels and B&B’s

The loss of the Virginia Rose Inn here in the Historic District has had me thinking about when my husband and I owned a motel in Arizona.  There are a lot of similarities.  A lot of differences (I hated Arizona), but a lot of similarities. McKinney is a destination which makes things easier.  There are lots of people promoting it, which also makes things easier.  That means the big focus is competing to get people to come to your property instead of one of the chains that have immediate name recognition and ease of booking.  The first thing, cultivating a competitive advantage, means something different for every property but there is an easy solution to matching the ease of booking with a chain hotel.

We used a service called ResHero (http://partners.travelhero.com/reshero/)  to provide on-line booking capability and it was wonderful.  It’s a program offered by TravelHero which is ultimately related to some other huge organization that I can’t remember the name of at the moment.  They handle the database and all of the communications.  All you have to do as a property owner is list an inventory of rooms in their database.  If your property has a web site, you add a “Book It Now” button and your future guest can immediately reserve one of the rooms (or several, or all) that you have listed in your room inventory on ResHero.  We had to have a dedicated fax line for the service and the reservation came to us via fax.  ResHero automatically kept up with available inventory.  You could list your entire inventory if you wanted but you have to update the online inventory for reservations booked manually, so we only listed most of our rooms at any given time. 

One of the perks to using ResHero, besides not having to be a true geek, was that they also promoted your property on a lot of different travel sites.  In our experience, 95% of reservations came through our web site and not from the ResHero sites.  However, pretty much 100% of our reservations used the online booking. It was well worth it.  They take a small percentage of the rental but if the room would otherwise be vacant, it’s a small price to pay to have a guest (aka another marketing opportunity via reviews and referrals) instead of a ghost.  (Although there is a definite niche market for haunted hospitality, you still have to have the live ones to keep the electric on).

I know this is a strange topic but it’s what’s been on my mind.  I hope that the Virginia Rose ultimately becomes a B&B again.  I wish with all my heart that it could continue with its current owners who seem really sweet and who have earned some great guest reviews over the past few years. 

Here’s something else I’ll share.  If you ever get bored, it’s fun to check out the motels/hotels and restaurants for sale on http://www.hotels-fsbo.com/.  I once saw an Italian restaurant for sale in Florida for 100k.  You know that’s just the tip of the iceberg but it’s fun to see just how do-able it can be with some properties.  For instance, check out this 21-unit in Corpus Christi for $495k or this 13-unit in Unionville, Missouri for 169,900.

I swear I’ve seen this BBQ restaurant for sale in Dallas, I just can’t remember where.   You never know what will turn up on these sites and it can be fun to browse.

Until next time,

Happy Shopping!

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