NORTHWIND Details Top 5 "Most Important Priorities in 2010" for Independent Hoteliers 

| January 07, 2010

As independent hoteliers set their 2010 priorities, five operational areas are essential to building a secure and profitable future.ã•

1. PCI compliance and certification
PCI compliance and certification is number one on the priority list for 2010 because of the consequences of non-compliance. The PCI standards guidelines stipulate that by July 1, 2010, all credit card acquirers must ensure all merchants that use payment application software, utilize only hotel software systems validated as compliant with the PCI, PA-DSS requirements. This is a top priority because operators risk penalty fines if they are not certified compliant by the deadline.ã•Unlike chain properties, independent operators must handle the PCI issue themselves with the help of their tech providers. NORTHWIND's Maestro Property Management Suite is fully PCI PA-DSS certified to support operator compliance, and NORTHWIND also provides professional property PCI audit assistance.
2. Direct website bookings and eMarketing to lower costs
Direct website booking capability is becoming an important strategy for independent operators to market themselves, stay competitive and control booking costs in 2010. When an online booking engine is fully integrated and developed by the property management system (PMS) provider, as with Maestro's ResWave solution, it can accurately sell last room availability and show real-time optimized rates across all channels for maximum profitability. The system must also provide a seamless GDS interface to capture third-party online reservations. With Maestro's eMarketing tool, all customer emails and relevant data can be consolidated from all channels (GDS, POS, CRS, Call Center, etc.) to drive reservations direct to the hotel website booking engine and lower costs per booking. It is important to note that when vendors add a booking engine to their PMS 'at no cost,' or offer a self-hosted solution, there are often costly fees associated with remote hosting, system maintenance, and online travel agencies (OTAs) transactions. Booking engines that are self-hosted, are also required to be PCI PA-DSS compliant. As a result, operators must require vendors provide verification of PCI compliance for both their booking engine and PMS. Maestro's hosted Web booking engine alleviates this requirement to reduce the operators overall PCI obligations.
3. Focus on total guest experience to increase loyalty and referrals
Personalized service and a positive guest experience will be king in 2010. When properties anticipate a guest's needs and deliver personalized service, the result is repeat business and profitability. The most effective way to deliver high-touch service is with a robust, easily accessed guest database that is integrated with the property's PMS to get a 360 degree guest view at every touch point. The Maestro Property Management System provides over 20 integrated modules that utilize one centralized database that records every guest transaction and request across a single property or multi-property hotel group. A property team can leverage this information to deliver amenities and intuitive, personalized service that builds loyalty, increased spending and referrals.ã• Savvy operators should use BI tools such as Maestro Analytics to view in-depth reports, spending patterns, determine most valued services and create highly targeted lists for effective email and direct mail campaigns. Effectively targeted campaigns will attract guests based on their guest profile, stay patterns and activity preferences to fill rooms during seasonal soft periods. When promotions are intelligently designed and personalized to guests that are most likely to respond, guests feel valued, revenues go up and everyone wins.

Further, Maestro's integrated GEM (Guest Experience Measurement) module enables operators to automatically send online comment cards to capture departing guests' perceptions. The survey results are stored in the guest's history record for easy access during check-in. GEM's detailed reporting provides operators with valuable predictive and actionable intelligence to keep guests coming back, increase up-sell and resolve issues quickly.ã•

4. Yield management and revenue management to maximize profits
2010 will be a year of recovery for the hospitality industry. As with the post 9/11 turnaround, operators who utilize effective yield management and revenue management systems will lead their comp-set with higher RevPAR in 2010. The Maestro PMS includes a fully-integrated proactive yield management system that lets operators and hotel management optimize rates for all segments across all reservation channels, including OTA's to create and maintain smart revenue strategies without resorting to emotional rate slashing tactics.
5. Social marketing essential in 2010 for hoteliers to stay connected
How we stay connected is changing and experts agree that social media is here to stay. Today's guests are communicating with friends, family, colleagues, and companies they do business with online through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels. In 2010, the most successful hotels will reach guests and create brand advocates by using social marketing tools and channels to grab the attention of new visitors and keep in touch with their loyal client base. Learning to create and execute effective social marketing programs may not be easy, but Maestro is ready to help.ã•Maestro's Web Connection suite of online revenue generating tools leverages viral marketing features such as email 'forward to a friend' and 'Share This' plug-ins as well as icons and links to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Maestro also develops custom guest and group landing pages that connect online shoppers with trackable Web pages offering unique promotions that increase occupancy while boosting referrals and loyalty.

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