The hospitality industry is bouncing back, step by step, as each day we see alleviated lockdown measure by lockdown measure. The industry has certainly been shaped by the last year, often for the worse, and for obvious reasons. Hotel owners must be aware of address the key items in this new "normal".
However, with new starts come new beginnings, and that means that now could be the best time for you as a hotel owner to consider your forward path, and what, potentially, opening a business in this field could entail. However, it’s also true that even in normal times, the hospitality industry is notoriously tough to operate in. Competition abounds, and seasonal success can make or break the productivity of a year and its associated future.
For this reason, diving into hospitality is certainly not a consideration you need to follow lightly. That said, if you get it right, it can be a tremendously profitable and long-term means of chasing revenue and expanding. However, not all people get it right. Ultimately, what ‘right’ means can depend based on what kind of hospitality you offer, who you appeal to, and where you’re based.
In this post, we hope to discuss some essential guidance and foundational advice for those looking to open and/or manage a hotel. This way, you can feel empowered in knowing how to begin, how to sustain your operation, and what challenges to inspect. Even if you’re opting for the seamless, supported and well-branded hotel franchise opportunity you have been pursuing, it’s true to say that advice and guidance will be necessary all the same.
With that in mind, let’s consider some of the following advice:
It’s good to have hospitality experience before opening a hotel. Hotels are very complex businesses with many different moving parts, and all of those parts can affect your guests. For this reason, it’s essential for hotel owners to have some kind of hospitality understanding before you begin this process. Ideally, you will have worked in hotels or restaurants before, perhaps even working in an assistant manager capacity.
Sometimes, people who wish to take on larger hotels have already run bed-and-breakfasts before. While it can seem similar, running your house as an Airbnb location is not always analogous to running a multi-headed entity like a hotel. While we cannot tell you how to make your business and career decisions, make sure you’re confident and up for this challenge.
You cannot run a hotel well if you’re misanthropic. Hotel owners have to love people and wish to give them the best experience possible because you’re not simply selling a room, you’re selling a total stay, an experience, a memory that can be referred to. You may make or break someone’s stay in a country for the first time, or give them peace during a busy week filled with business meetings.
For that reason, you not only need to care about people, but understand them, and their needs, and their feedback. For this reason, it’s good to have some form of client-facing experience in the past, even if you were a skilled customer service agent, you can draw on those skills to help you. Ultimately, you have to understand that hotels are social experiences, and without this you can suffer in your management (this is even before you begin taking care of the staff in your employ).
Hotels are situated in an environment, even chain hotels that span the globe with a recognizable brand are located in one area at a time. For that reason, your hotel needs to not only embrace the local culture, but serve as an ambassador of it.
From making the most of serving locally-accessible seafood in your restaurant to designing your hotel to match the cultural aesthetics of its local environment, to simply making sure your internationally-equipped hotel provides full accommodation to signs represented in a necessary language (hotels in Wales, for instance, will offer both Welsh and English signposting in everything they do.)
This may sound like a simple accommodation, but it’s essential to get right as a hotel owner.
While it may seem as though a hotel’s success depends on the thread count of their pillows and duvets, actually, essential Covid-19 hygiene measures must be the standard that defines the quality of your hotel. Anything less than total hygiene, all of the time, will degrade the good standing of your business.
This means that working with essential dry cleaning firms (or establishing those utilities in your housekeeping areas), ensuring regular daily scheduling checks are committed, making sure that the hotel is well cleaned after each guest visit, and ensuring that the trimmings, decorations, and utilities (like restaurant seating) are continually wiped down is essential.
This will take investment in time, energy and finances, but this isn’t the kind of utility you should expect your staff to grapple with in an ill-equipped fashion.
Many hotels and hotel owners allow the discourse surrounding their business to be defined on social media, without ever responding to it. Of course, it’s impossible to avoid having your business spoken of on social media, as even the best franchise will garner negative opinions and false impressions.
So, it’s best to start early, and to embrace the public discourse. Responding to positive and negative reviews, the former with gracious thanks, the latter with apologies and a willingness to fix, correct or learn more about the issue can be tremendously helpful. It’s through this effort that hotels can help correct the record, or at least seem totally engaged with their audience with the prime purpose of increasing the quality of experience for their guests. You can only do this via carefully calibrating your social media strategy, but also being active and ensuring you put at a positive, totally nourishing image.
This may take effort, but it results in helping to clean your image and also worthwhile, free marketing.
The presence and dynamism of a hotel will help contribute to its place in the local economy and culture. This means that a hotel must continually focus on hosting events that can be seen as integral to the local space. It might be, for instance, that a large convention is taking place near your hotel. Reserving rooms for those who may be in attendance, perhaps along two levels of the hotel, can keep convention-goers and their late arrivals each night away from other families and business guests.
It might be that making use of your guest hall for weddings and other functions could help you earn money even during those seasons where guests are less frequent. As you can see, hotels are not only aided by reserving more space for other guests and other utilities, but in planning the events year-round so that seasonal and tourism shifts do not affect the bottom line as harshly as they otherwise may.
Monetizing your hotel is an essential component of running it as a business rather than simple accommodation. This doesn’t mean you have to charge for absolutely everything, such as complimentary shampoos, soaps and welcoming chocolates on pillows, but it does mean opening up the potential for guests to spend and enjoy their stay at your hotel.
For instance, a pre-stocked fridge full of alcoholic beverages can provide a great means of convincing a guest to partake in your room service and general utilities. A gift shop, if you have the room for it, can help them purchase branded merchandise from your hotel that celebrates the local area, as well as providing guests a last-minute souvenir they may have forgotten to find. As you can see, it’s a privilege to own a hotel in a specific location, and so making the most of that in every capacity is truly advisable.
It’s important for all hotel owners to remember that if you serve food in your hotel, you’re also a restauranteur to a specific capacity. Even if you only run a breakfast service, you need to make this as high-quality as possible while keeping your prices affordable and even bundled in with the package if necessary.
A clean, vibrant kitchen with a strong, composed head chef can help you here. Make sure you shop for local produce, and that you give your chef creative control of the menu so that it stays fresh. Rotate dishes and stock as appropriate, and make sure you ensure guests know about your restaurant facilities and how they can make the most of them.
As a hotel/restaurant, you can expect annual reviews to determine how safe and clean your business is. That’s great. However, we’d also recommend that you use an internal auditing agency to help you conform to even higher standards before the official government inspection takes place. This keeps your staff on their toes, as well as ensuring that the best standards are felt year-round. This can help you avoid being caught out by easily-avoided mistakes, as well as securing the functioning of your business with no need to close in order to make corrections.
With this advice, we hope you can feel empowered, informed, and calibrated when considering opening that new hotel.