As a B&B or small hotel owner, managing your property takes work. From getting up in the early hours to prepare for the breakfast run, to dealing with each and every single check-in (and check-out!), to printing out all invoices, doing the usual housekeeping and taking bookings – all while being the perfect host – the typical working day is a real challenge.

Often, it takes up literally all of your day, and it isn’t long before you have to get up and do it all over again. So, why then, is that 12-hour working day still not enough to compete in today’s market?

The hospitality industry today is more competitive than ever, with technology allowing travellers to book at any time of day and from anywhere in the world. As a hotelier, this means you must now compete 24 hours a day, 7 seven days a week for that potential guest searching and booking their accommodation online – even as you enjoy your hard-earned sleep.

The two questions most small hotels ask at this point are: ‘How am I able to avoid missing bookings when I am already so busy running my hotel? How is it realistic to accept bookings 24 hours a day?’

The good news is that there are a number of ways to ensure you do not miss a booking again. Here are our top tips:

Play the online channels

The first and most obvious online channel available to you is your website. A booking engine today is a crucial element of your website to ensure any traveller that lands on your site can easily create a booking – instantly, at any time of day. When choosing your booking engine, make sure it can be customised to your website, is commission-free and allows guests to select their own language and currency.

According to recent studies, 72% of customers prefer to make a purchase in their own language[1] and remember: English is not the primary language in more than half of the fastest growing markets. While most people do speak English, they want to feel that you are considering their needs and are looking forward to hosting them, so showing your ability to cater to foreign markets will increase your credibility as a global player online.

Additionally, there are a number of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) available to small hotels, like, who spend dedicated time and marketing budget on promoting their hotel base to travellers around the world. As a small hotel, you can use these channels to your advantage. Yes, being listed means paying a commission per booking, but using the OTAs will mean you have greater visibility online via the billboard effect, thereby giving you a higher chance of potential guests clicking to your website from the OTA and booking directly with you, commission-free.

Provide great navigation and booking opportunities

Your website should give your visitors the option to book at every opportunity and this involves providing easy navigation to your rooms, the amenities and rates. Ensure all your details are up-to-date, and that you have a gallery of beautiful images that presents your hotel in the best light possible. Add a booking or availability button that links to your booking engine on every page.

Optimise your website and booking engine for mobile devices

Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices are here to stay as a staggering 1 in 4 guests book their accommodation on mobile or tablet, according to Think with Google.[2] Neglecting to optimise both your website and booking engine for mobile devices means a real loss of revenue for your small hotel. Choose a mobile-optimised booking engine as a priority; if your guest cannot easily book on your website, it is highly likely you will lose that booking.

Manage it all from one login

Online booking technology has evolved for the independent hotelier. To truly compete in today’s environment and increase your chance of getting booked, it has become necessary to forego the tireless, manual process of updating your rates and availability across both your website and all other booking channels. A small hotel doesn’t need all the features of an advanced property management system, but instead, a solution that can manage all online bookings across online channels, 24/7.

Learn about how all-in-one systems like Little Hotelier can manage all of this for you so you never miss a booking again. Little Hotelier has been specifically developed for small properties to offer a booking engine, channel manager and front desk property management system as standard – including mobile optimisation, so you can maximise your bookings.

[1] “Driving customer loyalty in a commoditized travel industry”, Forbes magazine, January 2014

[2] “The 2013 Traveller”, Think With Google, November 2013

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).