If you’ve just opened a new hotel, you’ll no doubt be hoping that everything will go well and the new venture will soon be raking in the profits. But if you’ve already taken care of all these seven items we’re going to discuss here, you won’t be having too many sleepless nights worrying that things might not go according to plan.
If your hotel is one of the first properties to be established in an up-and-coming hotspot you may just have got yourself a license to print money – at least for the first few years. In fact, if your hotel is located in any city with growing visitor numbers then you have an opportunity to do very well. In Asia, some of the ideal choices may be those secondary cities which are benefitting from the airlines opening up new routes, and the growing numbers of middle class travellers who want to go there. An alternative way to find those destinations before they take off is to look where the backpackers are: where they go today is where the rest of the world goes tomorrow.
This isn’t the same as destination – after all, Phuket is possibly Asia’s busiest beach destination, but if your Phuket property is miles from the beach and nowhere near the city, you’re not likely to be very successful. On the other hand, if you’re right next to the main attraction, whether it’s beaches, mountains, or iconic landmarks, you just made yourself the first choice in one of the most important categories when travellers choose where to stay. If you’re not in that perfect position, you just have to work that little bit harder to compensate.
If you have the right people working for you then you can’t go wrong. This is partly the responsibility of your human resources department to get the selection, training, and management parts correct, but it also helps if you’re setting up in a place where capable people aren’t too hard to find. In some countries you’ll hear endless complaints about how hard it can be to find the right people; in others, not so much. Take Mauritius as an example – the locals are educated in English and French, generally don’t want to leave the island, and there isn’t a glut of hotels. Contrast with the rural Philippines, where anyone who speaks English has a better opportunity to go somewhere else, and staffing becomes a big challenge.
Branding gives you an advantage in terms of recognition, customer loyalty, and inspiring trust and confidence. It is a good idea to set up under the umbrella of a major brand as all the guidance and expertise you need can be provided. However, don’t be complacent – the wrong brand in the wrong place can be a short cut to disaster. If the brand image doesn’t fit the destination image and the expected clientele then it may be time for a re-think. Sometimes it is necessary to downgrade the brand, often to a “lower” brand name within the same hotel group. If the new brand fits the market better, your results will pick up.
You should know exactly which sector you’re operating in, but the situation is very similar to the potential problems with branding. If you’re going after the wrong market you’re going to struggle. Business hotels in beach resorts, family resorts in industrial centres – these may not be ideal. If you know exactly who comes to your destination, and your property meets their needs, you’re giving yourself the best chance to succeed.
Hotels are always told to know their customers – but what you’d really like is a steady supply of repeat business, so your hotel has guaranteed high occupancy all year round. That rules out ski resorts, which do well in winter, business hotels which do well during the week, golf hotels which do well in summer, or hotels next to big sports stadiums which do well whenever there’s a game on. But if you could just combine two or three of these you’d be laughing – the ski hotel which welcomes hikers and mountain bikers in the summer simply can’t miss. If your hotel has two or three reliable customer types to cover all eventualities, you biggest problem will be placating the ones you have to turn away.
You might think that if the first six factors are all in place then you won’t be needing any marketing, and you’d probably be right – which is ironic because you’d have no problems finding a budget for it. However, for normal hotels, a well thought-out marketing strategy is vital. It might be best described as knowing what you’re aiming to do, knowing how you’re going to achieve it, and being in a position to measure exactly how effective your approach is. In short, if you can’t define it and can’t explain it, you’re probably not going to do it. No scattergun approaches here – if you get this right you’re on the path to success.