Being placed high up on the hotel list ensures that a hotel gets noticed and helps it to win guests. However, a good ranking does not come of its own accord. Anyone who is clever will make adjustments here and there. Leon Heymann from the Hotel am Augustinerplatz in Cologne uses the HRS Group checklist to do this, and juggles with the ranking booster.
text: Astrid Schwamberger // photography: Cornelis Gollhardt
At the Hotel Am Augustinerplatz, all the lights are green: A fourth star is shining at the entrance to the hotel in Cologne's city centre, and in the autumn the newly designed single and double rooms will be launched. General Manager Leon Heymann commissioned Newman Interior Design from Berlin with the makeover. And the 53-room hotel also cuts a dash in terms of placing in the HRS hotel list: It is a permanent resident among the top ten. And that's a good thing, because: "Whoever is top of the list gets clicked," Heymann says.
He attributes this top position to several different factors: On the one hand, there is the good value for money, and on the other hand the conversion rate, meaning the relationship between page impressions and bookings. In addition, a handful of further aspects from the areas of customer satisfaction, hotel attractiveness, appearance, product range diversity and availability also affect the ranking order. HRS Group displays them clearly in a checklist on the Hotel Service Portal. Points in the traffic-light colours of red, yellow and green indicate respectively whether there is still potential to move up further. "The more traffic lights are green, the better," Leon Heymann explains the sophisticated system in simple terms.
The plan appears to be working: When Heymann calls up the checklist on the Hotel Service Portal, he sees everything marked green. When he looks into the hotel list, his hotel has a very high ranking. However, that also means that the Hotel Am Augustinerplatz fulfils the criteria that guests value – and that Heymann constantly does his homework. "Recently, we turned our attention to the hotel attractiveness category," he says. So then they got green points for free Wi-Fi, free cancellation up to 6pm on the arrival day and ability to book on arrival day.
Meanwhile, alarm bells would be ringing for Heymann if he had yellow points anywhere: "I would immediately react if a traffic light was yellow." However, he proves on the issue of appearance that he doesn't ever let it come to that. The precise nature of his presentation on the HRS portal is the next job on his to-do list. Heymann, who is qualified in hotel and catering management, took the renovations as an opportunity to increase the share of high-quality photos in HD. The aim is to achieve 100 percent. Currently, the share has already reached 79 percent – a decent figure that does not compel him to take any action. However, up-to-date, appealing photos and videos do certainly promote sales. Moreover, the number, selection and resolution of the photos play a role too. "We pay close attention to this," Heymann emphasises.
But which points in the checklist actually have the greatest effect on the ranking? Is it primarily the exemplary way they deal with guest reviews? Heymann and his employees respond as soon as a guest posts a review and immediately try to eliminate faults. Or is it the largest possible selection of price and room categories that provide the ultimate kick? After all, Heymann grants the entire range of possible discounts, right up to the Last-Minute Discount. He uses the Corporate Discount for business travellers; as a result, the Hotel Am Augustinerplatz stands out from the competition with the Business Tariff logo. It is the big picture that generates success, in Heymann's conviction. However: "The ranking booster was what immediately had a big effect."
The ranking booster is an additional tool on the HRS Hotel Service Portal which allows a hotel's visibility in the hotel lists to be enhanced in one go using a selectable additional commission payment. Using a slider, the users themselves decide how many places higher they would like to push their hotel. They can switch this on or off at any time, set it higher or lower, set it for certain time periods or leave it activated continuously. "The ranking booster gives me the opportunity to react immediately to my current booking situation," Leon Heymann explains enthusiastically. In future, he wants to use it on the busy trade-fair days, for example, in order to be able to market the rates that are higher at that time in a prominent location. The tool will play a role after the renovations too: "In the autumn, we will use the ranking booster very intensively to publicise our new rooms and to show the world that we are a four-star hotel."
Heymann knows what he is doing. He can look back on twelve months in which he had "set the ranking booster at a very high level" and put it through its paces thoroughly. "When we did this, we actually reached second place." The effect is quite impressive: 20 percent more clicks and 25 percent more bookings were recorded in the HRS Portfolio. Which proves that a better ranking can lead to more bookings, which in turn bring about more reviews and more revenue, through which the ranking will automatically improve in the long term – a chain reaction.
"The ranking booster is perfect for positively influencing the hotel list," the hotel manager summarises. He enters the commission which he pays on a results-related basis to HRS, in addition to the 15 percent agency commission, as part of his marketing budget. "It's a simple calculation," Heymann says.