Keeping modern guests satisfied is a constant challenge for hoteliers. New tech, heightened expectations and the influence of industry disruptors such as Airbnb demands a close eye to be kept on the industry as it evolves.
Only, it’s never quite as simple as that, is it? As any independent hotelier will know, balancing the ‘day job’ with business planning is equally challenging.
Does this mean you stand a chance of being left behind if you put the evening reception shift ahead of a strategy session?
Perhaps, but that’s why you’re reading this blog! We’ve got our finger on the hospitality industry pulse, and love packaging up tips into bite-sized chunks that can be devoured in between busy shifts.
Here’s 5 easily-digestible tips for growing your hotel business in the digital age.
1. Keep on top of the latest hospitality trends
You’re reading this blog post - that’s a great start. But how else do you keep abreast of trends?
The internet has a wealth of blogs and news sites for hospitality professionals. Reserve just fifteen minute of your day for checking the latest posts and articles from the best thought leaders and you’ll be doing enough to keep your finger on the pulse.
2. Find and use the best tech
One of the best things about operating a hotel in 2019 is the democratisation of technology.
It wasn’t that long ago that hoteliers needed to be big (really big) in order to benefit from the best property management systems, Wi-Fi guest services and marketing platforms. Now, those tools are available at a fraction of the cost thanks to manageable monthly fees and a vibrant app marketplace.
Never assume you can’t afford a certain technological wonder that makes the guest experience even better - because you almost definitely can.
3. Think like a B2B business
The concept of ‘leads’ in a hotel operation might be a little alien or feel better reserved for businesses that deal with hard-and-fast sales. However, the more you think about generating and converting leads as a hotelier, the more likely you are to build a growing business.
Nearly every hotel can cater for corporate guests, and that’s where the ability to generate and convert leads lies.
Delegate rates and event facilities provide the perfect excuse to approach businesses (both local and further afield) and promote the benefits of your property.
Create some content you can share with them (behind-the-scenes tours of conference facilities, for instance) and start reaching out. Equally, if you have significant gaps in occupancy ahead, a special delegate rate might just entice businesses to look beyond the big chains and fill your empty beds.
There’s increasing demand for hotel rooms this year and the juiciest corporate contracts are there for hoteliers who are the most proactive in seeking them.
4. Promote success stories you find on TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor isn’t to be feared as a hotelier - it’s to be embraced and taken advantage of as a brilliant marketing tool.
If you’re running a tight ship that focuses on delivering a great guest experience, you’ll doubtless be gathering some very positive reviews on TripAdvisor, but are you doing anything with them?
Replying to demonstrate you value the feedback is a great first step, but you can go much further.
Guests who have had a particularly enjoyable stay at your hotel might want to make a bigger deal of their story. Approach them directly and ask if they’d fancy providing a video testimonial or featuring on a blog post that tells the stories of other happy guests.
Success stories act as fuel for marketing strategies that help businesses grow. The more examples you have of how great you are, the more you’ll get noticed. After all, modern guests are far more likely to listen to feedback from fellow guests when deciding which hotel to book - and that can result in a domino effect.
5. Encourage longer stays
One of the simplest ways to grow a hotel business relatively quickly is to encourage longer stays. It’s a simple calculation; double the duration of as many bookings as possible, and your revenue will increase in tandem.
Luckily, we now live in a world where leisure and business travellers are keen to extend trips whenever possible. The latter, for example, are often inclined to extend hotel stays to include some personal travel time, while leisure guests might take the bait if you offer a reason to extend their weekend.
Simple incentives work best. For instance, a discounted rate for the second night or free room upgrade might be all that’s needed to extend a stay.
Try and get in the habit of emailing guests a week or two before their arrival with a tempting offer and refine your incentives based on those that prove most popular.
Wrapping up and further reading
We’ve covered a fair bit of ground in this post, but there’s always further reading to be had:
- Hospitality blogs to follow: an old(ish) but good list is ever-present here
- The latest trends: we recently covered some of the most accessible trends 2019 has to offer hospitality businesses
- Entice more corporate business: your hotel might be missing out on a relatively simple yet untapped source of extra revenue
- Encouraging great trip TripAdvisor reviews: this guide should help dispel any fears you might have of the world’s most important review site
- The business of extended stays: if you’ve got a little more time on your hands, this is a brilliant insight into the unexpectedly fascinating world of extended hotel stays