Fed up of playing coffee roulette in a meeting?

Coffee pot labels
Do away with the guesswork with our coffee pot labels

Introducing our new Bevvies

There’s nothing worse than getting Decaf when you need a caffeine hit. Or pouring coffee onto your tea bag.

With our new Bevvies, you need never suffer that fate in a meeting or conference again.

Bevvacuum flask labelsvies are durable and wipeable plastic beverage labels, designed to fit around jug handles with a plastic loop. Attach them to a flask or jug, remove and then reuse them again. They’re available as Coffee labels, Tea, Decaf and Hot Water labels.

They’re perfect for meeting rooms, events and for those who cater to large number of people regularly, like outside caterers.

You can get a pack of 8 Bevvies (containing 2 Coffee pot labels, 2 Decaf, 2 Tea and 2 Hot Water labels with loops) for just £6.13 + VAT.

Or you can buy them individually.

Want them branded?

Decaf coffee pot label
Make sure you get Decaf when you want Decaf

We can also custom print our drinks labels with your own branding or details, for a more professional image – ideal if you have a large conference coming up. As winter approaches, maybe you’d like some bespoke mulled wine tags for an outside event?

Search our range.

 

The first and last branding mistake made by hoteliers and restaurateurs

If you’ve spent £££+ on your interiors and brand, don’t leave your first and last customer touchpoint unturned

In the hospitality industry, capturing the hearts and minds (or stomach and feet) of consumers is a constant battle of the fittest. Whilst free WiFi, superior mattresses and exceptional food are all standard weapons in the armoury, often the ultimate clincher lies in the brand experience.

Uncovering the right brand essence for an individual hotel or restaurant takes time and money. And once it’s been bottled, thousands are spent on ensuring it’s consistently communicated – across everything from company literature to the cocktail service and even the aroma that greets you in reception.

Yet often, all that hard work is blown through the simple act of taking off your coat.

One of the most forgotten consumer touchpoints

We were invited to a rather expensive, design-led restaurant in Manchester a few weeks ago for a key celebration.

As you would hope, the welcome was warm and professional. The entrance was sleek and atmospheric, a fitting precursor to the opulent interior design promised by the website.

So far so good in terms of experience living up to expectations.

Or it was until we handed over our coats.

The cloakroom tags we were given in exchange were poorly printed on laminated paper, unpeeling at the sides and grubby. They had clearly been through multiple hands before reaching ours and looked it.

Not quite the brand experience we had been looking for – or indeed the image the restaurant wanted to convey.

Ok, so you could argue we’re more picky than most

We are in the plastic cards business, so you’d expect us to be more aware than others. But we are always surprised by the amount of upmarket restaurants and hotels that don’t extend their customer welcome – and farewell – to the cloakroom.

A search on TripAdvisor will show you how damaging a poor cloakroom experience can be. Paper tickets are easy to lose, as are the belongings you’ve been entrusted with.

But the argument isn’t just that professional cloakroom tags are just more secure. They’re a branding tool: a first opportunity to convey the essence of your brand as your customer steps over the threshold.

It could have been worse – we could have been handed a tatty raffle ticket.

But does an ill considered, fraying piece of paper ever seem like a fair swap for a designer coat?

What does your cloakroom say about you?

The Card Network prints branded, full colour plastic cloakroom tags, and has recently introduced the Cloakie to their range of products – a mini, affordable branded cloakroom tag, from £128 for 200 (100 numbered pairs). For more information see www.thecardnetwork.co.uk/cloakie

 

 

Cloakies – the mini, quirky cloakroom tags

Mini branded plastic cloakroom tag
Go mini – and give your customers a branded experience throughout

The Card Network has just added full colour, mini cloakroom tags to their list of printed plastic cards –  Cloakies.

The Cloakie has been designed for restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions who want their own colour branded cloakroom tags but might have previously been put off the price. The Cloakie is half the size of a regular cloakroom tag or credit card but is the same height, so it’s still easily visible in a wallet or purse. And because it’s smaller in size, it’s also smaller in price.

Neal Smith, MD of The Card Network explains how it came about as an idea:

We have many restaurants and hotels who order plain plastic cloakroom tags because they want to move away from using tatty raffle tickets, but can’t quite stretch to their own branded version.

he Cloakie aims to bridge the gap. It’s smaller so it’s more cost effective, but it’s still big on impact. Initial feedback shows that our customers love them because they’re a bit different – they’re quirky.”

Stave off negative customer reviews

A quick look on Trip Advisor shows how damaging a poor cloakroom experience can be. Giving a cloakroom tag for every bag or coat checked-in significantly reduces the likelihood of belongings being lost or stolen. And a branded cloakroom tag will always look more professional than a generic one.

Cloakies are full colour on both sides, and are custom printed to a specified design. They are supplied in numbered pairs, with one card being given to the customer, the other slotting easily over a coat hanger. Made out of quality plastic, they are reusable and durable.

Prices for Cloakies start from £128.00 for 200 and include free design and artwork.

It’s not just restaurants and hotels that are seeing the benefits of custom printed cloakroom tags. The Card Network’s customers include hairdressers, museums, galleries, nightclubs, bars and private members clubs.

 

How much of a mini-break can bitcoins buy you?

Bitcoin
Could we soon be purchasing theatre tickets with Bitcoins?

With Expedia joining over 60,000 online retailers that accept the virtual currency, travel by bitcoin is set to become a lot easier, and more widespread

Bitcoins aren’t exactly top of the list for most organisations when they’re setting up online payment methods.

But with their popularity soaring, it could be time for travel companies, retailers and those in hospitality to consider their worth – particularly in terms of attracting a new audience.

Expedia raises the bar

Expedia announced that it was joining the ranks of travel companies accepting Bitcoins as payment a couple of weeks ago. It is only accepting the virtual currency (or more accurately, ‘crypto currency’) for hotel bookings at the moment, and it’s only being trialled in the US. But if it’s a success, it’s likely that they’ll roll this out globally across all their other travel services. Which means paying for a whole city mini-break ‘virtually’ could soon become a possibility.

This isn’t new in the travel market – other smaller travel organisations have been accepting Bitcoin for some time now, but when a player the size of Expedia sets out its stall, you can expect others to quickly follow.

It’s already been proven possible

Last year, a newlywed couple from Utah decided to embark on a social experiment to see if they could navigate the world – and purchase every living necessity – for 3 months just using Bitcoin. You can read more about the experiment and see their series of films document their travels and challenges here. http://lifeonbitcoin.com/

Currency still volatile

With growing numbers of people making their fortune from the mining of bitcoins, adopting the currency as a payment method could open up your offer to a new, highly affluent audience.

But before you rush off to enable your website to accept restaurant bookings, or provide theatre, museum or gallery tickets via the crypto currency, consider the risks.

The currency is still highly volatile and has been in the news lately with regards to security breaches. Expedia themselves don’t ‘hold’ the currency, they trade it back into Dollars at the end of each day.

Its value can vary wildly – at its peak back in March, a single Bitcoin was valued at $1,200. Last week it was around $500.

Have you looked into bitcoins as a potential payment method? Would you? We’d love to know what you think.

New to the world of Bitcoin? Read some FAQs here. https://bitcoin.org/en/faq

 

 

The end of the Hotel Receptionist?

Smartphone technology will get some hotel guests straight into their room – without having to check in at the front desk

Empty receptions could soon be the norm if smartphone technology takes off

On arrival at your hotel, would you prefer to bypass reception, make your way straight to your room, wave your smartphone over the lock and hey presto, you’re checked in?

The answer will probably depend on how far you’ve travelled, the reason for your stay, and what generation you are.

For a certain kind of traveller, it’s almost certainly going to be a reason they’ll choose one kind of hotel over another.

It’s been talked about for a while, and it’s nearly here

Virtual keys, powered through an app that uses Bluetooth technology on your smartphone are being trialled and perfected by a handful of hotel chains. They signal the end of lengthy check-in queues for weary travellers, and the frustration of hotel key cards fails after you’ve dragged your bags half way across the hotel.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts in the US have been working on their virtual room key for months now. The app isn’t released yet, but they’re asking for people to ‘opt-in’ to register for the pilot. They’re confident that it will be a game changer for the industry, and as an early adopter, a real opportunity for them to carve out a distinct position.

Hardly a coincidence then that have chosen to trial the technology in their Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, California, which is just around the corner from Apple’s headquarters.

But not everyone is convinced.

The attempt to streamline the check-in process isn’t new. Some hotel chains introduced check-in kiosks in their busiest hotels, but to mixed results. They found that many travellers just ignored them, preferring to speak to a real person.

Leisure travellers, more so than the business travellers, tend to look for a personal welcome to their hotel experience. If it’s a planned trip away, or a special occasion, the guest will want to interact with staff to try for an upgrade, or request a room with a view for example. And if they don’t know the area, they’ll have more questions than most – which will be far quicker answered by a person than an app.

‘Ease and convenience’ also means less to the older traveller, who won’t necessarily be as au fait with the technology on their phone.

The potential danger

Although Starwood Hotels sees the virtual keys as a key guest attraction method, particularly for regular travellers, the opposite could also prove to be true.

Given how competitive the hospitality industry is, one of the only ways that establishments can genuinely differentiate themselves is through their customer service and brand experience. If guests are bypassing the opportunities to experience those – won’t the hotel just become faceless, and the same as everyone else?

Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between. There is no shortage of hotels offering the ability to check-in online, in the same way as you would before boarding an airline. Those guests then go to a different check-in desk to pick up their key, presumably avoiding the queues at the main check-in desk. Then guests get to experience convenience and customer service.

Whatever the answer is, you can expect smartphones to truly live up to their name in the next few years.

Smartphone technology is already the biggest news in access control since biometrics

From an access point of view, smartphone technology is poised to take over from physical items like ID cards or access key fobs/tokens. And it’s going to happen soon.

You can already use your phone to prove your identity to open the car park barriers at work, enter your office and gain access to a festival or event. Its success is obvious: it makes sense to use the one thing that the overwhelming majority of people always carry with them.

What do you think about checking into your hotel via an app? Would you use it? We’d love to know what you think.

 

 

 

Branded hotel key cards from just 18p per card

Before you re-order blank hotel key cards for the summer, take The Card Network’s price challenge 

Branded hotel key cards
Which make a better impression on guests: branded hotel key cards or generic ones?

Hotel key cards are a great branding and promotional tool, yet many hotels, guesthouses and luxury B&B’s still default to ordering blank cards because they think that personalised cards will be too expensive.

At The Card Network, we believe we can print double-sided branded hotel key cards for around the same price you’re currently paying for generic, off-the-shelf ones.

Which means your hotel key cards could be acting as a mini-billboard in your guests’ pockets, and maximising the value of their visit.

A branded card will always make a greater impression on a guest than one than is clearly off-the-shelf. But they can also do much more than just open doors. You could use them to:

–       Advertise a specific promotion within your restaurant

–       Promote an upgrade offer

–       Promote your spa or leisure facilities

–       Raise awareness of a sister establishment or partner

–       Offer discounts off their next booking within a specific timeframe

Or just use them as a branding opportunity and push out your key messages.

Some accommodation providers choose to advertise a nearby attraction through a partnership deal, and have the partner pay for the production of the hotel key cards.

Our hotel key cards start from just 18p a card. How does that compare to what you’re paying now?

Why not put our claim to the test and check out our prices.

 

Future hotels: more personal or sold as commodities?

Do hotels need to focus more on offering a personalised service to secure guest bookings in the future, or is the shift more to selling a ‘bed in a box’?

Hotel loyalty cards
Hotel room or commodity?

A recent report from the InterContinental Hotel Group says that post-recession, hotels must focus on offering an individual service to guests in order to be rewarded with their loyalty.

The results of the report are based on a survey of around 7,000 international business and leisure travellers, plus interviews with travel experts. It argues that the advent of personal technology and the concept of ‘always with me’ devices has created a demand for service that is tailored to their individual preferences.

What that personalisation should be varies depending on nationality. UK travellers value the ‘little touches’ in their rooms for example, whereas Americans regard choosing their exact check-out time as more important.

Hang on, just where are they going to get this information?

The sceptics among us are likely to respond that this is just another way for establishments to justify gleaning information about our consumer habits through ‘spying’.

Does this mean hotels will be researching us on Facebook and Twitter after we book? Will they take it from Aunt Bessie’s birthday party photographs on Flickr that I have a particular weakness for chocolate cake? Surely this is just a bit creepy.

Of course hotel loyalty cards can do a lot to record guest preferences, but they can only do so much. And you have to get the guest to sign up in the first place.

But if more hotels are becoming commodities, do we need to be worried?

At the recent Master Innholders GM Conference 2014 in London, the great and the good of the Hotel world debated whether hotels are being increasingly viewed as commodities.

The rise in popularity of OTA’s (Online Travel Agents), flash sales and price-driven discount sites means that guests’ perceptions of hotels’ value and services are changing.

Mark Lewis, managing director of Hotel Rez, commented: “Working with the likes of Groupon is a strategic decision but it does lead to commoditisation of your property and quickly leads to dilution of margins.

Stuart Johnson of Browns followed with: “We have to be very careful at the luxury end. Now at the three-and four-star level, we certainly are seeing commoditisation, especially in fast-moving hotel companies in which the guest basically gets a box and then seemingly has to buy soap, towels, Wi-Fi, service and so on.”

If this is the future for the hotel industry, do we need to be worried about our personal data?

Horses for courses

As is the case with many things in this world, it will depend on the hotel you choose, and the kind of experience you’re after. You wouldn’t find a boutique 5-star hotel charging you to use their soap (or you’d hope not). Nor is a 3-star city centre chain hotel likely to hand you a bottle of your favourite red wine on a repeat visit.

It’s likely that we’ll see a growth on both sides of the coin. You’ll just need to decide which side you’re on in a particular weekend.

Oh, and make sure you review your Facebook settings, just in case.

Read more about the debate ‘Are hotels commodities?’ here.

Spruce up your cloakroom for Christmas

Your Christmas specials are in place and the Christmas decorations are up; you’re all ready for the Christmas rush. But is your cloakroom ready to welcome the extra visitors?

Don’t leave yourself open to negative reviews online this festive season  

Printed plastic cloakroom tags
Ditch the tatty raffle tickets for branded cloakroom tags

When it comes to customer online reviews, you’d be surprised how many people reference a negative cloakroom experience. Lost or mislaid coats or luggage is never the kind of review you want to read about – even less so in the season of goodwill.

If you think it’s time for a Christmas make over, the good news is there’s an extremely affordable solution in the form of plastic cloakroom tags.

Low-cost, off-the-shelf or branded plastic cloakroom tags?

Handing your customers a tatty raffle ticket in exchange for their most prized possessions is arguable worse than giving them nothing at all.  Especially when you can get your hands on 200 low-cost numbered plastic cloakroom tags for just £42.00.

These credit card sized plastic cloakroom tags come in sets of identical numbered pairs: give one to the customer, the other slips over the coat hanger, or is attached to a shopping bag using a luggage strap.

Do so, and straight away the customer is more confident about handing over their Designer winter coat.

Don’t miss a branding opportunity

Print your own logo or brand message onto the plastic cloakroom tags for a more professional image. Doing so shows that you care about your customers’ belongings: that you’ve invested in keeping them safe. The tag is also an advertising opportunity: many people keep their tag beside them at the restaurant table for example, so advertise a long-term promotion or a sister organisation.

The cards are made from durable PVC, so can be reused over and over again.

Search our range of plastic cloakroom tags

Should boutique hotels offer loyalty cards?

It’s a question that’s currently being debated by some of the industry’s leading figures on BoutiqueHotelier.com. Are boutique hotels missing out if they don’t offer guests loyalty cards and reward them for their custom? Or should the guest experience alone be enough to secure repeat bookings?

The argument for

Hotel loyalty card
Loyalty cards can be the reason a guest chooses you over a competitor hotel

A number of well-known boutique hoteliers are in favour of introducing some kind of loyalty cards or programme. Tom Rowntree of IHG talks of the benefits of ‘brand reassurance’:

“The power that a brand can deliver is that we can take away the risk of staying at different hotels because we come in with a brand reassurance. Then of course there all the programmes we plug into, such as the IHG Rewards Club loyalty programme, so there are loyal guests that want a risk-free stay and they’re rewarded for it.”

James Lohan, CEO of Mr & Mrs Smith, believes their loyalty scheme is important for securing bookings. It offers money-back on future bookings or a gift, as well as 24-hour support from a booking team. He views these ‘a nice thing to offer guests.’

The argument against

Some hotels feel that they shouldn’t need loyalty cards and a specific loyalty programme to incentivise guests to choose their establishment. The argument is that the guest experience should stand out on its own, without needing to be propped up by the promise of points or rewards on loyalty cards. This is admirable as a sentiment, and is a great brand promise for all staff to live up to. But what happens if a competitor nearby is offering just as good customer service, but with incentives of free room upgrades or spa vouchers?

Make the stay personal to the guest’, is the view of others, including Gary Davis, CEO of Malmaison Group. Rather than offering points, reward the guest with something that you know they like. It’s hard to find fault with the concept, just as long as the mechanism is in place to flag when a guest is classed as a regular customer. Miss the opportunity to reward and you may just find that they have gone off to try a competitor hotel.

One thing is clear – loyalty cards can’t secure bookings on their own

Of course, loyalty cards and programmes will only be effective if everything else is right. It doesn’t matter how many rewards you offer if customer service is poor, your prices don’t stack up or the beds aren’t comfortable. However if you’ve invested heavily in creating a boutique hotel experience to be proud of, a good loyalty cards scheme can help you to secure repeat bookings with minimal investment.

Read more of the debate here

 

Do hotel key cards contain my personal data?

Custom printed hotel key card
Hotel key cards aren’t clever enough to retain financial information

Do a bit of research on this and you’ll find wildly conflicting answers.

There’s a school of people out there who believe that hotel key cards must contain personal information including credit card numbers and details. How else could the hotel ‘charge’ items to the right room during your stay?

It’s turned into a bit of a myth.

We have a friend who had a friend who knew someone that had their bank details stolen from a discarded hotel key card.’

But it’s exactly that: a myth.

– For a start, the information contained on a hotel key card is encrypted. Even if you were able to break the code (which you’d have to be a tech geek to achieve), the only information you’d find would be the date you checked in and out. Not exactly useful data for an identity thief.

– Also, the magnetic stripe on hotel key cards just isn’t that clever. It simply can’t hold detailed information like credit card details. It doesn’t hold information for all that long either – if you’ve stayed in a hotel for more than a few nights, you’ll probably have experienced the ‘card doesn’t work any more’ scenario.

– There is no need for them to hold financial information. As long as the card identifies you and your room, the hotel can add the charges to your bill.

So don’t feel you have to destroy your hotel key cards the next time you’re checking out.

And the next time you’re told about someone having their bank details stolen from a key card, tell them it’s an urban myth.