Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Virtual GM. We’re really excited to be with you. My name’s Spencer. This is Cody. And today we’re gonna be talking about four pieces of hotel technology that you need to use in 2023 to make your reservations, your booking, and your guest experience top notch.
1. WebRez Pro: Using Tech to Reduce Payroll
So what we realized going through this process is there’s so much technology out there that can make such a huge difference in your daily operations. And so if you’re listening to the podcast, you know that this is the Virtual GM podcast, and how that got its name is we created a position that was called Virtual GM.
We had all these amazing properties that wanted to execute technology to allow us to reduce the number one cost of the property; either the mortgage or payroll. Together those two are always the biggest expense, right? So how can we reduce your biggest expense, which is payroll? And we’ve really leveraged technology to do that.
Tip number one: the most important thing is you’ve gotta have a good PMS, right? So we are strategic partners with Web Rez Pro. Any property that we manage, we like to move them over to that. We believe it to be the best. It’s cloud-based, which allows you to access it from anywhere.
What’s really amazing about WebRez Pro is they have won an amazing support staff. They’re so willing to go above and beyond and help with anything that you need. And two, they have the most integrations of any PMS that we found. And if they don’t have it, usually they’ll be able to create the integration. So when I say an integration, it’s like if you wanna incorporate another piece of technology into their system Yeah. If you wanna link your QuickBooks accountant, right, anything that you need, really, they can do that for you. So, that’s where the sales start because that’s where the guests make their first booking. So the first thing you want is a really quality PMS.
And for us, that’s why WebRez Pro. First off, shameless plug, we are the only management company that they recommend. If you check out their professional affiliations and consultants page. Were the only management company on there. That’s just a shameless plug.
Secondly, it’s a cloud-based PMS, which means that you can access it right from your cell phone. You don’t have to have it hardwired into your building doesn’t it’s not a local server based. You can access it anytime, anywhere. And then three, it has really cool permissions abilities. So there’s like a housekeeping login that way they can’t see revenue in revenue out, they can’t see revenue on the books. They’re just responsible for the checklist per room per unit or however you have it set up. There’s a maintenance portal. They can get maintenance requests, they can see if it’s empty, they can see where they need to go, what they need to fix.
So it really does a good job of segmenting the positions on the property into the right roles. And then obviously your GM, the owners, there’s reporting that you can build in customer reports. We even have a property that’s just set up in the strangest fashion that we’ve ever worked with, is just basically condos that are rented out as a hotel inside of a shell that looks like a hotel. And we have reports in WebRez Pro that are set up to run automatically on owner’s commissions and earnings. And that previously took the GM multiple days at the start of every month, and now it just is something that’s done for him. And so really all he’s doing at that point is cutting checks.
So yeah, it’s really automated a lot of his time so that he can focus on building up and increasing the value of the property, where before, who’s crunching numbers and spending time just in these worthless reports. And they’re, I shouldn’t say they’re worthless because for the owners they make a lot of sense, but now it’s all to a computer. There’s no more human error in it. And the GM is so glad that they don’t have to waste all this time when they could be spending time on a guest experience.
Unlocking the Power of Virtual GMs:
Absolutely. And to Spencer’s point, the ease of the program, right? So most of our Virtual GMs, or all of them are, are for the most part stay-at-home moms. And so they are operating these properties off of their cell phones or off of their laptops or an iPad. And none of them when, when they started, had hospitality experience with us. So this is how they got their hospitality experiences through this program, which allows us to give them an opportunity to have income for their families, which they may not otherwise have because their lives don’t afford them the opportunity to be in a location, whether they have kids or whatever it is that’s preventing them from being in a physical location all day. They’re able to be on the go, just use their phones.
So not only is it a huge win for the property because we save them a significant amount of money on payroll, but it’s a huge win for our individuals who are Virtual GMs. It creates an opportunity for them to have a career, while still taking care of their families, which is really exciting.
Yeah. And what’s really cool about WebRez Pro, it works with anything. It works for RV parks, it works for rental units on the side of a mountain. It works for hotels, works for motels, works for hostels. They even, there’s a section you can rent boats out of it, dog kennels. There really is nothing that it can’t do. And that’s what’s really nice is you’re not tied into something with these weird pass-off fees, or you’re limited based on your room type; it really can change and is evolving all the time.
So having something at the forefront of technology and they’re making investments in growth is really big because a lot of times, PMS exist, and then they only focus on the sales portion of it.
f you have a full-service property, you can run your restaurant through there. You can run your gift shop through there. You can set up if you wanna have, like, a couple’s package or a family package, if you wanna have these extra add-ons you wanna add to the booking process. So it can do all that for you.
So that was tip number one.
2. Maximizing the Value of the Booking with Duetto
Tip number two, the next important thing is you want to get a booking, but you wanna also maximize the value of the booking. So we are working with Duetto, which is this amazing revenue management software. So Spencer and I met them at BITAC in San Diego last year, which quick plug for BITAC? Yeah, you should absolutely go to. It’s the best hospitality conference we’ve ever been to. There’s an opportunity, if you’re a buyer, there’s a chance that you can attend the event for free, depending on the event type. Cody and I are going to one, what is it in August?
Yeah. In Florida.
In Florida near Boca Raton, was it Boca Raton?
I can’t remember. Somewhere down, somewhere. Somewhere like by Miami. But it’s really cool. The last one we went to was in San Diego, and it was just amazing. So that’s where we met Duetto, was at this conference and we met a bunch of different other great vendors there too. But Duetto was something that we were looking for.
So WebRez Pro has yields built into it. But Duetto just takes it to a whole nother level and integrates it right into WebRez Pro. And so it’s going to, you can set all of your yields very easily, and it’s got this autopilot feature. So it will check your comp set and if you want to turn it on autopilot, it’ll really operate as a revenue manager for you. And it’ll fluctuate your rates.
So think of it like an airline, right? So we have dynamic pricing, so the rates are always different. Tuesday’s price might be different than Wednesday’s price, which might be different than Thursday’s price. And it’s really taking in our occupancy, our comp set special events. You can really custom tailor this experience where your revenue is always fluctuating even on the same day.
Tuesday morning’s rate will be different than Tuesday night’s rate, depending on demand. And so it really allows for all of our properties to maximize their revenue. And it’s very seamless to work with. And if you’re a property that works vibrant, we obviously manage that for you, and we take care of all the processes that go with that.
But that’s tip number two. Have a really good revenue management software that can automate that process for you, because many properties will have a revenue manager that you’re paying for, right? That’s in the office every week that’s managing your rates. And so we’re eliminating the need for that position by utilizing the technology that Duetto has created.
Totally. And all these tips go back to number one, you need some type of cloud-based PMS. Obviously we’re WebRez Pro partners. Duetto is a one-to-one integration with Webrez Pro, and it adjusts your yields and yields your prices every single hour based on just what Cody said- your concept. Then it pulls other STR data out of Expedia. And so you can sleep at night knowing that Duetto will be doing that work for you, and you don’t have to worry about it, which is really nice.
You can also say, I don’t ever want to sell a room less for this, and I don’t ever want to sell a room for more than this, right. Because it might run your rates up to a place that’s not actually appropriate for what you’re offering. And we don’t ever want guests paying more for something than what we really deem the top-tier value of the property. Really excellent use of technology.
3. How Whistle’s AI Technology Enhances the Hospitality Experience
Number three, what we want to talk about now, we’ve, we’ve gotten the sale, we’ve maximized the sale, so now we have a customer. So how are we communicating with that customer?
We use a tool called Whistle. And Whistle is an interesting situation because it just got purchased by Cloud Beds, which is a competitor to WebRez Pro. One thing that we’ve been able to work out as a legacy deal where properties to work with Vibrant can still use Whistle outside of Cloud Bed’s PMS. So mainly Webrez Pro because that’s primarily where we operate, but Whistle gives us a lot of technology in the form of AI. And then just texting technology the way that we have Whistle set up for the bulk of our properties.
When someone makes a reservation, they receive a text message it confirms their reservation prior to check-in a text them what their check-in code is going to be.
They can go to the property; they punch in the code to get into their door. It’s usually the last four digits of your cell phone number upon arrival. You can basically have it do whatever you want after that. For some properties, we have it text them a Room Book, it can text them the WiFi password, it sends them a welcome message halfway through their stay; you can text them and ask if they need anything where otherwise they might not ask before. So if they need towels or they’re curious about how to access the pool or things like that, it’ll provide that information for them.
At the end of the stay. It’ll text them and give them a TripAdvisor review and ask them for a review. Oftentimes we use that as a return guest promo. If they do that, they get 15% off the next day.
What’s cooler about this is it can be preloaded with a lot of questions. So if you can’t find where the wifi is in the room, you can text that number and say, what’s the wifi password? And it will reply back with what the wifi password is. Or how do I get to the fitness center? And it can reply back with how to get to the fitness center.
Or what are some things to do in town, and they can recommend a few restaurants in the area. It’s also pretty smart, so you can spell things wrong. You can ask it questions that still have the same meaning, but maybe it doesn’t know, or we didn’t tell it. So it’ll fill out the answer. And if it’s not able to actually complete the request, you can just call that number, I believe.
You can call the Whistle number. If it’s not preloaded with AI like what’s the wifi and what are the pool hours, whoever is managing the Whistle account (in our situation, our virtual GMs), have the option to just respond manually. If it’s not something that the AI will take over, that’s again how we’re grading that payroll savings. Because you don’t have to have someone at the front desk to answer all these questions because the AI is gonna take care of it for you in a lot of instances. Or again, in our instance, we have the AI plus the Virtual GM. So there’s that human component to it as well. And the fact of the matter is humans are more prone to mistakes. And so this just ensures that guests always know their information at arrival.
We know in hospitality that if someone has a bad experience, if you can catch it before they leave and correct it, then they’re usually very, you know, understanding and appreciative of that. So doing that, that midday check-in that Spencer talked about allows us the opportunity to see other stays going, see if we can make it better, which in turn in ensures that we get a really good review.
Revolutionizing Guest Communication
So if you go onto our portfolio and you check any of our properties, you’ll see how good their Trip Advisor reviews are. And part of that too, just as Spencer mentioned, is because Whistle is asking them for that and has the link right in their text messages say, which we know that more guests are gonna be on their text messages than on their emails. And most people prefer to communicate that way versus calling. And so it’s just eliminating the amount of workload that it takes. And again, our Virtual GMs are just doing it from their phones wherever they are with their family.
Yeah. I read something that 90% of people are clearing their text messages before the end of every night, which is totally the opposite for your email. A lot of people will let that stack up 20, 30, to a hundred, right? So if you’re sending them a text and asking them with some type of call to action in exchange for a discount, that’s super helpful.
The other thing that you might be thinking is that maybe the guest is gonna miss out on that human experience or the human element of their stay. And what we found is that if we pre-condition the stay by sending a text that says I’m your virtual assistant or something along those lines, people don’t seem to care. In fact, they really enjoyed the experience more. They pull right into the parking lot, punch into the code to get to their room, and they’re in the room. There’s no waiting in line for check-in. You don’t have to get the key; it’s just done. And they can go about their day. For us, they go up the Zion Canyon, or they head into Mount Carmel or wherever they’re going, and they don’t have to wait on a human to accommodate their request to get in.
Yeah. Very frequently, we’re gonna get, can I check in early? Can I check out late requests? And so that allows the Virtual GMs very easily to look at the cleaning, talk with the housekeepers and give those people an answer. And so that really leads us into, and we kind of talked about a little bit, but technology number four.
4. Revolutionizing Guest Access with Lynx Locks
So we love to use Lynx locks, there’s a bunch of cloud-based lock systems you can use. But what that allows us to do is not, again, have to have a front desk because, as Spencer mentioned, they’ll just get a text code with their lock. So they arrive at the property, they go to their door, they type in their code, it’s gonna unlock it for them, give them access to their unit, and then they leave. They use that same code to lock it, and they can just come and go as they please.
What’s also nice about that is our Virtual GMs have the ability to do it for them. So if someone is struggling or they can’t figure it out, they can just open the door remotely for them. Or if it’s like a maintenance issue and they say, Hey, we’re gonna go hike for a couple of hours, I need more towels. Can someone bring it in? Then one of the housekeepers can have their own unique code, which gives us a log. So we always know if people are who has entered and exited the room. Yeah. But we can also open it for them if they ever need our
What’s worth mentioning too is the, brand that we mentioned, Lynx locks, it is also a one-to-one integration with WebRez Pro. Everything we’ve talked about is one-to-one, and that’s what makes this perfect ecosystem work. You’re on a cloud-based PMS that’s always yielding your rates. So you’re getting the most guests for the best price, or I shouldn’t even say the most guests, but the right guests at the right, the right price.
They’re having a really great high-end experience just using artificial intelligence that can be managed remotely, and they can punch into a cloud-based lock that helps identify that this is the right desk going into the room. And all of this, again, is made possible because of what WebRez Pro is able to do for us.
Hey everyone, quick interruption. This is Spencer at Vibrant Management. If you are a growing property, specifically in the boutique space, you’re looking for operations help, management help, and rate and revenue management help; that’s exactly what we run this podcast for. If you’re looking for help beyond tips and tricks, shoot me an email at [email protected], and let’s get things started.
Then I’ll give you a couple of bonus technology pieces here. So we like to use for our call system, we use Mango Voice, which is amazing because it records every call that comes in. So if the owner wants to check and see, you know, how these Virtual GMs interact with the guests, what do the phone calls sound like? Or if there’s an issue with the guest, we have all of that data to know what every single phone call is.
You can also use it for marketing purposes to see if you know what brought them to the property, and there’s always a recording of it. So Mango Voice is another amazing technology piece that we use to ensure that our clients get the best possible service from us.
Yeah, and all these are pretty affordable too, I would say, with the caveat of Duetto. But even if you work with Vibrant Management, we have a legacy contract with them, so your cost is lower with us, and more often than not, depending on the number of keys you have in your revenue, we’re going to provide that for you anyways. But outside of Duetto WebRez Pro is under $10 per room per month. Normally Lynx locks are just the cost of the hardware and a quarter cost for Lynx, but it’s really affordable. So something nominal, and then I mean for Whistle’s pretty inexpensive too. Most of our properties are about 90 bucks a month. Yeah. And when you’re thinking about the payroll, you’re saving.
Oh, and that reminds me too, Whistle also has a chat feature. So you can also integrate Whistle into your website. So guests who have not yet become a guest and are inquiring about staying con chat with you directly through the website through to Whistle. And there’s a bunch of other good ones out there too, like Kippsu is one that Hilton uses. That’s really good. There’s a new one that our Virtual GM just did a test on. I can’t remember the name of it. But we will have that too. So reach out if you want. I’ll get you that name. But there’s a bunch of them out there.
There is so much great technology, and I think really the most important thing is you don’t have to use the technologies that we’re using. Yeah, right. Just use technology in general.
I know that Spencer’s done an episode on Chat GPT. So if you’ve got a welcome letter you need to write, and you’re not a writer and need help, we’ll utilize Chat GPT to do that. Even if you’re not great at responding to TripAdvisor reviews and you have a hard time wording things, that’s another opportunity that you can use technology to help incorporate in your, in your business.
Just Press Record
So there’s just so many things out there. These are the four that we find to be the most important and most valuable.
Send us at DM on Instagram and tell us what you wanna hear about, what topics you wanna know about. We’ve been really grateful for everyone who’s listened to this and will continue to listen to this. We’ve met some really amazing properties and really great people just from sitting down and pressing our record. Shout out to Sean Cannell Think Media for inspiring us to just press record. It’s still Friday in Utah in case you’re wondering, please return your voicemails.
Another thing to note too, we talked about BITAC. If any of our listeners out there know any other really great conferences that you think would be a good fit for us to be at, please reach out and let us know. We want to meet people in person and network as much as possible. So if you have any great events out there, please be sure to share those with us and we’d love to get to go to them and be able to meet you guys in person. And I think before we wrap up, anything you have a promo too that you want to talk about?
Oh yeah, yeah. Great point. Yeah. So from now until the end of the month, we’re offering a free month of digital marketing. That includes Facebook, Instagram, and Google ads. Usually this costs anywhere from 2,500 to $3,000 as a service cost. We just wanna show you guys what we’re capable of doing. We guarantee a five times return on ad spend. A lot of that is predicated on your PMs. So if you’re a WebRez Pro partner, we’ll be able to tell you basically that the penny, how much we’ve returned on your ad spend.
So feel free to reach out to me, [email protected]. We can get that set up for you. No obligation to continue. There’s no contract, anything like that. We just want to be able to show you what we’re up to.
Thank you guys so much for listening. Stay tuned for more episodes to come and we hope you have a great week! Thanks everyone.