Getting the most from elina PMS post-lockdown
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As we come out of lockdown together, we have put together some tips how to use elina to help, and our plans to make some improvements or new features, which we know will help with operating in this new environment.
How elina is evolving for Covid-19?
During Covid-19, we have continued to operate a full development and support team to support customers as best we can and plan for the future efficiently, making sure we are ready and organised.
Here is a reminder of our published roadmap in May, of which a number of new features or improvements have been released this year.
Pre-arrival and self-checking
Some of our customers are taking advantage of fabulous 3rd party integrations like Wishbox (upgrading to 2-way in July or August 2020) or Digi check-in, which process the collection of information and check-in of the guest.
As not all elina customers choose to use a 3rd party service and to help, within the elina platform we will be designing and developing a self-check-in / pre-arrival experience.
The guest self-check-in will be designed for mobile and be easy for guests to update, checking and collecting key information, using custom fields, which was new in January, to collect information like dietary requirements, or car registration. This will also collect documents via upload (where appropriate), a snapshot of the person face (if appropriate) and an e-signature to verify against the booking terms. This online version of a guest registration card will save time, improve guest experience and improve the information known on guests. The check-in link will be able to be automatically or manually sent and will sync directly back into your reservations and profiles. It will make information collection seamless and can also help to get the right email address from OTA bookers!
We know personal contact is going to be more limited with Corona virus, so we are designing this to allow personalisation during the check-in experience, through custom messages, similar to our Smart.BE booking engine. This will allow accommodation providers to communicate with guests how they want and present their brand as they want.
Refunding or crediting guests from elina
Very soon, the significant invoicing module upgrade comes will be introduced to switch on elina. This new charging and invoicing engine allows elina to start coding a new feature with our payment gateway partners (for which we do not charge any additional fee per booking) to allow refunds. This will allow full collection via payment rules (current) and refunds of money to guests (coming) so that staff do not need to log into the payment gateway to refund. We will also show missed payment data and reasons in elina, where payment gateways provide it, again enabling full management from elina. This will apply to all payment gateways that offer this data in their APIs.
We already have a number of door integrations, however, we will be adding more to allow automation around room access. Feel free to ask us or connect us to the company you would like to be integrated. It will depend on the nature of the integration as to whether elina or the door access provider code the integration.
15 tips for using elina to help with post-lockdown
Our support team have put together 15 tips on how you can harness elina to help with adjusting to operating with Covid-19.
- Use integrations such as Price Labs or Outperform to get pricing right for demand as it changes quickly based on market information or review your rate set up, with our team and in elina
- Website customers take advantage of how easy Umbraco is to publicise changes to service, such as Covid-19 policy
- Use the enhanced Google Analytics integration to check the demand for direct. Uncertainty drives people to book directly. That’s why clear information on your website and booking policies will yield results
- Update your terms and conditions in elina to reflect changes to Covid-19 and keep customers informed. Your terms and conditions are central to your direct bookings and to a degree to your OTA bookings
- Set up custom fields in elina to manage preferences as guests become more demanding, so frequency of cleans, wipe down of surfaces or others. Use it to track people’s preferences or concerns. Guests will need extra care during the next six months or more
- Update your booking confirmations and other automate communication in elina to give a link to your Covid-19 service terms, or to communicate important or reassuring info.
- Use the elina marketing / communications tool to inform guest the latest pre-arrival of useful information about their stay, whether social distancing guidelines, support from staff, or cleaning information – especially regards the cleanliness of their bed, room or apartment as they arrive
- Set a last minute offer in dynamic rules to be competitive for late bookers, of which there will be more, given people making last minute decisions based on friends, family and situations
- Make the most of the dynamic rules tool to set up company, key worker or contractor rates, or use the manual override to change rates as you agree and book people in. Keeping up to date records
- Take advantage of the quotes in elina to send out options to inbound enquiry leads and offers and make sure the quote template is adjusted for Covid-19. More quotes issued which can be found in reservations module or reservations (beta ) report can lead to more booked pipeline
- Use existing features to improve earnings. In April, we introduced a ‘maximise occupancy algorithm’, which when switched on (default is fair allocation to minimise room over-use) means better revenue earned and less time moving bookings. Turn this on in settings to improve allocation of bookings to maximise revenue as we come out of lockdown
- Update property area and types in elina to mention cleaning changes and social distances measure, or PPC from staff, plus any other measures introduced from covid-19 to keep guests booking direct updated
- Use the sellable pick up report to judge pick up this year (booked window to stay window) versus last year, if you have 2019 data or more in elina. This will allow you to see how you are really doing for pick up versus 2019. Run a report for this year and one for last year and compare excel or PDF files. For example April 1 to June 30 booking window into July to September stay window, for both years. It may not be pleasing, but it helps to give the senior management team crucial information to compare year to year and make decision from this
- Use the yesterday dashboard to see transacted money from yesterday dashboard through the payment gateway and also overdue and retry Cash-flow is so important now and tis dashboard helps to inform
- Use off the market to create up to 3 day gaps in-between bookings to block gap bookings, allowing Covid-19 time to disappear. The government advice is to allow three days, so that is quite easy to manage from elina, but taking units off the market, or moving bookings, then taking rooms or apartments off the market.
Thanks for reading and do give our team any feedback or suggestions.