Reservations: Useful software tools

As your private accommodation business expands and grows, you will find it more and more difficult to stay on top of all the reservations and bookings of your property. Some of your bookings are made well in advance (e.g. one year in advance), some are made that very same day, some of them are for one day stays and some bookings might be for 14 days or even longer.

Therefore, the use of appropriate software tools for reservations and organization of your business is a good idea, which can greatly contribute to the professionalization of your business. Additionally, it can increase your efficiency, occupancy rate and consequently increase your profits by spotting unsold accommodation units and alerting you (or your sales manager) just in time to sell it, especially during the high tourism season.

Most of the computer software tools aimed at small accommodation owners are not pricey and are relatively easy to use – you don’t need to be an ICT professional in order to make the best out of them. In addition to booking/front desk reservation system, this kind of software is most commonly featuring channel management solutions, easy integration to your existing web site as well as many other useful features.

Therefore, in order to run your day to day business smoothly you should make technological advancement to work in your favor.

Best vacation rental software:

   Housekeeping standards

In order to achieve and maintain high quality of the housekeeping in your accommodation facility, it is a good idea to develop a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the housekeeping staff to follow. According to Encyclopedia Britannica “standard operating procedure is a set of written guidelines or instructions for the completion of a routine task, designed to increase performance, improve efficiency, and ensure quality through systemic homogenization.”

SOP commonly includes a check-list of different tasks that should be performed by accommodation staff while attending the room that is currently vacant and which is being made for the next guest. SOP for the small accommodation facilities should include check-lists and instructions for the following:

• Entering and cleaning the guest room
• Cleaning the bathroom and balcony
• Cleaning and maintenance of the common areas
• Dealing with lost and found items
• Communication with the guests

Standard operating procedures are useful as they serve as a constant reminder of all tasks that housekeeping staff must perform while attending to a room. This is especially important in the case of seasonal staff which might not have previous experience in housekeeping.

   Effectively handling of special requests and orders

In order to provide a high-quality service, private accommodation staff should be able to handle a wide range of special requests from guests in an effective and timely manner. In the big hotels this is the task of the front office or concierge, but in the small, family owned accommodation most of the employees must be trained to accommodate most of the guest’s special needs and requests.

Special requests may range from simple requests such as providing an electricity adapter, charging a cell phone, providing a baby cot, extra bath towels, blankets or pillows, to more complex requests, such as ordering flowers or cakes for celebrations, organizing a party, finding a medicine or a medical doctor, renting a car or a boat/yacht etc.

Regardless of your current ability to meet a particular special request, you should always be polite to a guest and try to follow some simple rules:

1. Listen to what the guest has to say
2. Try to understand the essence of his/her request
3. Use positive language: I will be happy to look into it….
4. If you cannot meet the guest’s special request, offer the best possible alternative and explain why it is not possible to meet his/her original request
5. Check with the guest that the solution you can provide is a satisfactory one
6. Make sure the guest understands that you feel personally responsible for the request
7. Keep the guest regularly informed about the status of his/her special request