Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Make Your Social Media Graphics Work

Okay by the time we've shared this graphic Facebook will once again have changed their layout and their image locations and sizes but in spite of that it is worth publishing!

Always great to find something particularly useful - it's a bit like watching the Gadget Show and seeing something just so cool that you have to pay £2 to enter their competition to win £30, 000 worth of kit you would never use.

This graphic below however was useful enough for us and we've got a vague idea what we are doing! Hopefully you'll find it of some interest when pulling together your own social media strategy. Remember you need to keep your social media working for you, it has to be dynamic and that includes using the header graphics to promote when appropriate.

Have a read at the site too - click on the logo to the right. Some really good stuff on there and a host of practical tips and opinions on how to make use of the media available to you.

Great graphic.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Queensborough Q-Book to Close Down

Blow to Commission Free Booking Models

A former client of ours got in touch last night to advise that the commission free Q-Book booking engine was closing down. It's interesting timing as when sitting with a couple of clients last week the discussion moved to when we were going to change our own booking engine packages to a commission free model.

Our reply was honest and open; we could never afford to turn to a commission free model and we didn't see the long term financial basis that we could offer something for free. We couldn't understand how we could make the commission free business model work so it wasn't an option for us.

So maybe it wasn't a surprise that the commission free market would see a casualty at some point as it is incredibly and increasingly competitive. We have looked at how we could get more of the market share and decided that it was indeed too risky and that it would jeopardise all of the work we have done over the years in providing professional and very personal account management to all of our clients when they needed it. It clearly works for other booking engine providers but we can't get it to stack up at our end. Clearly neither could Queensborough.

Here's the statement to their clients from last night
We recently sent an email out about a £50.00 extra charge for Q-Book, this was to put extra staff in a position where they could help in our support team for Q-Book, as well as helping us develop Q-Book further.We had too many of our clients stating they would move if the charge was put in place, this leaves us in an impossible position to carry on with Q-Book.
With having thousands of clients using Q-Book and the free channel manager, this recently has stretched our resources to the limit, thus not offering the great service we are renowned for.
Due to this Queensborough Group has decided Q-Book will be closed down at the end of this month (30th April 2014) for good.
This means we can add the extra resources and concentrate on our core business for over 16 years which is website solutions and distribution networks.
[Your business} will continue to have large exposure on the distribution networks (80) see list here, new logins will be passed on in due course for these distribution networks.
Any xml connections through Q-Book will cease, please contact your booking service provider for more details, please make sure that you have taken all your booking information out of Q-Book before (30th April 2014).
The correspondence goes on to explain that all XML feeds will cease to work from the end of this month but websites will remain unaffected although we'd guess that these websites were bought because of the integrated booking engine therein. That should be interesting too. They then recommend a list of other commission free web based booking engines that offer similar products. Perhaps they have more robust commission free booking models who knows.

Whatever is behind this and whatever the future may hold it is a major disruption for Q-Book users at the beginning of the main season and will cause palpitations for many who thought they were using a sound long term platform.

My old mammy used to say "Son if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is".

The danger now is that this may push more small operators to the OTA aggregators and lead to further commoditisation of the product and further increases in third party commissions. A commission free button on an accommodation website needs to generate revenues for the service provider somewhere and that is usually through third party commission sales on OTA sites.

If nothing else maybe the provision of "free" services will be at least open to a little more questioning by those using them. They are certainly not bad but neither are they a panacea.

If you or your organisation have been affected by the closure of Q-Book please drop us a note and we will get back in touch with you over the next couple of days with what we offer through our partnership with award winning Bookassist booking engine. It will not be for everyone and it certainly wont be a straightforward replication of a free service but it offers a realistic solution aimed at driving more business through your own website and NOT thorugh high commission third party sites.

We would be delighted to discuss further who we can work with your business to improve DIRECT sales through our integrated online marketing programmes and packages built to convert.

You can find out about Bookassist Booking engine at the More Info link below.

Please email us in the first instance as the phones have been rather busy!

 Enquiry about Bookassist Booking Engine

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Hotel Administration Cycle Just Keeps Turning

Another day, another set of "Akkeron" hotels go into administration. 

We just sit here and shake our heads saying "That's appalling" and then watch it happen all over again. Swallow Hotels, London and Edinburgh Inns, Akkeron Hotels - same hotels different contracts. A decade of wheeling and dealing? Who owns what? Who manages what? Who has freehold? Who has leasehold? Multiple limited company names. Into administration; out of administration. Who really cares?

And we all know it's not just Akkeron. There are hotels being shifted around on paper on a daily basis but what is the consequence for our industry. Is Scottish tourism going to be driven by property speculation and clever management contracts?

You know it may make great financial and economic sense for the property speculators and management companies but it does diddly squat for team building and personal development or for indeed quality of experience or the investment in the fabric of the buildings for the future good of the destination.

Where is the incentive in the management contract to invest?

I remember way back in the day when Grant Sword and Laurence Young were respectively in charge of their family chains; you knew that standards and reinvestment were absolutely key to their longevity and indeed their repeat business.

Hitting fifty must have made much more nostalgic but I'm sure we had a better tourism product when more hotels were in safe hands.

Let's hope that the future is in the nads of the independent Scottish hotelier. Pun partially intended.
Read about Akkeron's latest administration