5 free tech tools for hoteliers
5 free tech tools for hoteliers
24 FEBRUARY 2014 7:20 AM

There are an abundance of free tools available to help hoteliers drive sales and increase efficiency. Here are five that caught my eye.

With the allure of billions of dollars in valuation on execution of a great idea, there are millions of geniuses looking to solve your problems. Here are some of the best ones I’ve found that can be put to use in the hotel industry—for free.
1. Google Alerts
Google Alerts is so simple, yet so incredibly useful. You basically receive an update daily or weekly on the search query of your choice. This is an incredible resource for salespeople and revenue managers so that they understand what is coming up in their market and possibly turn it into booked business.
Navigate to Google Alerts, and your query will be your Google Search. The default settings work well, but it is best to cater them to your needs. If it is something that will have a lot of results, you should limit the number of emails you get a week. Set it to “Once a Week” for those. Only the best results will limit the response even further. Again, you might want this to be “Only the Best Results” for something that is popular. For something more specific like wedding, midtown, Plymouth, you wouldn't want to use this setting. 
2. Yesware
Originally designed with the salesperson in mind, Yesware keeps track of your emailing efforts. Want to know if your email is actually opened? How about where the email is opened? How about the date, time, how many times it was opened and on what platform? Creepy? Yes. Effective? Yes. It works with Gmail and Outlook.
Effective salespeople will adjust their subject lines, sales pitches, display name, etc. to improve their open rates. You can also link your inbox to your customer management system. Automatically inputting sales communication in your system can help you keep track of your team's efforts. To make life even easier, Yesware also has templates that you can share directly with your team. After you find that winning template, send it out to your entire sales force to increase the team’s effectiveness. 
3. Boomerang
Boomerang is designed to “conquer your inbox.” This program automatically send emails if there is no response in a given amount of time. Schedule an email to go out at a specific date and time, remind yourself about a bill or event by having your messages delivered back to your inbox on a specific date and more.
You can automatically re-send an email. It even has the option to not re-send the email if someone has replied to the message.
You can also return an email to your inbox at a certain time. This comes in handy if you don't want to struggle finding your confirmation number the night before a flight. Simply schedule the confirmation to come the day before you take off. This can be used as a reminder to pay a bill at a certain time or as a reminder for a variety of tasks.
Boomerang was originally designed for Gmail but now can be used in Outlook. The company also just added the ability to use Boomerang on your mobile device. You'll need Firefox or Chrome to make it work.
4. SmartRecruiters
SmartRecruiters is a complete human resources tool that was designed by a nonprofit organization to help small businesses hire employees. The result is a cloud-based human resource application that manages everything from posting the job on several job sites to making the hire.
All resumes are funneled into one system where resumes, cover letters, correspondence and their ranking are all stored. The intelligent application also lets applicants attach their profiles to various accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. LinkedIn users can easily upload their resumes and benefit by adding a face to the name if they choose to share it. 
Every applicant can be asked specific questions before applying. This is a great tool to weed out applicants who haven't read the job description. For one of our locations, front of house staff are obligated to speak English and Spanish. For these applicants we ask which languages they speak and at what level. This saves us valuable time and effort when there are hundreds of applicants to sort through. 
The database keeps information organized by source, data and time applied, which job was applied for and what correspondence came back and forth through the system. While reviewing applicants, an individual or team has the opportunity to rank the candidate for a colleague to come in later and go through a final review. 
We easily create job templates and deploy them at all of the hotels whenever applicable by using the simple template option when creating a new job posting. Inviting a candidate includes a calendar invite, so it can easily be inserted into your personal calendar. Managing candidates is simple with the hiring funnel where a candidate enters as a lead, goes to the in-review stage, advances to interview, offered and hopefully hired. Letters corresponding with candidates can all use templates that automatically insert custom data points such as location, job, candidate’s name, etc. This streamlines the process and allows hiring managers to focus on finding the best individuals. 
The system is so well built it includes advanced search functionality. Look up candidates in certain geographic areas who have applied to specific positions who have a certain keyword in their resume. If you’re reviewing someone and find he or she qualifies for a different position, move the candidate over to another open position. You can also assign hiring teams to specific job postings.
5. If This Than That (IFTTT)
IFTTT is a simple solution to a complex problem. It takes two separate applications or networks that share data if a trigger is released. We have made it so guests’ public Instagram photos that tag our hotel’s location are automatically submitted as a draft post in our blog feed. This enables us to do two things at the same time: engage our guests and create digital content on our site. 
The best part, though, is how little work it takes to make these types of triggers possible. Instagram and Facebook aren't just the only applications that can connect with IFTTT; you can find it is in great company with Gmail, iOS photos, Twitter, Google+, Calendar, etc. 
While my example is hotel-related, there are thousands of applications where IFTTT comes in handy. You can automatically receive Hotel News Now articles delivered to your inbox, receive custom Craigslist searches via SMS, notify your spouse when you are headed home, etc. Once you get the hang of it, there might be a solution to that nagging issue you have had for so long. 
The best part about all of these tools is that they are free. Get started today with saving time, knowing if your emails are effective or reminding yourself to pay the water bill on time. There is no limit to what you can accomplish with these amazing free tools.
Sam Trotter is portfolio eCommerce Manager at Boutique Hospitality Management. Besides focusing on website revenues, Sam dives into how technology can positively influence a hotel's business. A self-confessed data junky, Sam Trotter provides news and analysis on website design, applications, marketing programs and other digital trends that are or will affect a hotel's business. To continue the dialogue or for the latest technology news that impacts your hotel, follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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