SMEs must embrace IT

There’s nothing worse than being left behind. It doesn’t matter the scenario – the world is moving at a rapid pace and it would be uncompetitive, unprofitable and unwise to not keep up.

Everything to do with the web is the future, and hospitality and catering SMEs have to fully understand the value of web usage for sales, and in turn bookings, and worry less about the cost. A basic website required by a small B&B wanting to promote their rooms, receive enquiries and show availability differs greatly from a small hotel looking for an on-line system which can handle supplier invoices, guest billing and expenses, but the principles are the same. The web is proving hugely successful and is here to stay.

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Many SMEs seem happy to hand over the management of their accommodation sales to the likes of Expedia and Booking.com, making it their problem to fill their room needs by agreeing a higher commission rate. But a higher commission means less profit, and consumers increasingly prefer to deal with B&Bs, guest houses and hotels directly for a more personal service and peace of mind. The best way to fulfil this is to create your own on-line presence, designing a user-friendly, informative website which truly reflects your business, your culture, who you are and what you’re all about.

In a day and age where I can almost buy anything with as few as three clicks on sites like Amazon, I want to be able to do the same with my accommodation needs. If I spend too long struggling to make a booking or trying to find a menu, price guide or availability due to a clunky, ill-designed website then regretfully I will go elsewhere to a site where ease is the answer.

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Websites are not the only on-line marketing platforms available. Social media is proving to be a tremendous means to get your message across. On Instagram we can see rooms, food, drinks and flair, Facebook is great for engaging customers, both old and new, and Twitter enables you to get your message across quickly and easily. These platforms are all free of charge, but require a level of commitment, creativity and discipline to keep updated, and therefore in communication with your audience. But, did I mention, they are free?!

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SMEs in the hospitality industry can also promote and enhance their offering with Vines, YouTube, Flickr, blogs and Google+. The array of new sites and options popping up can seem daunting, but aren’t all new things always regarded with a certain level of cynicism?

We now live in a world where quick, impulsive decisions and answers and made and required. We need to embrace and invest. If we want to flourish and succeed then we must embrace results and value over cost.