What are hospitality consulting firms?
Hospitality consulting firms are specialised service providers that offer expert advice and tailored solutions to businesses within the hospitality industry, including hotels, resorts, restaurants, and leisure facilities.
The primary aim of hospitality consulting firms is to enhance the overall performance and profitability of their clients’ businesses, typically through in-depth analyses of existing operations, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing best practices and innovative strategies.
Most hotels do not need a TV-show inspired ‘hotel inspector’ on their doorstep to transform their operations, but hotel leaders everywhere require help sometimes, even industry veterans.
When it comes to running your own hotel business, it can be a daunting task to decide whose advice to trust. With a few hotel consulting firms competing for attention and, indeed, business, there are a few factors hotel owners and operators should consider in their selection process.
In this blog, we detail what is involved in hotel consulting, why you may want to engage in consulting services, and list some top hospitality consulting firms around the world.
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What is hotel consulting?
Hotel consulting is a service provided to hotels, whereby an outside individual or team of consultants supports the hotel, usually its leadership, on a clearly defined project or business question.
While that is not substantially different to other consulting firms that businesses hire every day, hotel consulting companies and consultants specialise in the hospitality industry.
In an industry that is used to employing temporary staff in day-to-day operations, consulting teams take on a much larger and more clearly defined role behind the scenes.
The size of projects that hotel consulting firms work on tends to be substantial, with their engagement viewed as an investment into the business and its future. Their direct customer is not the hotel guest, but always the hotel and its leadership.
The business of a consulting firm is mainly advisory in nature but can take the form of facilitating the setup of new areas of the business. To find the best fit in a hotel consulting company, there are nuances to consider during the selection process based on a hotel’s specific needs.
Reasons to seek out hotel consultants and hospitality consulting companies
Hotel management and consulting go hand in hand in a number of situations that warrant the support of someone not full-time employed by the hotel. Commonly, these situations include:
- Being new to the industry, for example when opening a hotel for the first time
- Being presented with a new business challenge or evolving market conditions, such as a shift in the type of guests attracted to the market
- Re-strategising a hotel business for growth
- Adapting to internal changes such as succession in a family business
- Needing an outside opinion or even mediator or facilitator for conversation
- Seeking support with branding, marketing, HR or other specific divisions
- Re-designing facilities such as public spaces
- Asset management
- Acquisition and development
- New construction design
- Operations analysis, (re)designing an optimally functioning servicescape and process improvement
- Strategic planning
There really is no limit to the number of topics a hospitality consulting firm may support a business with, given that they are in business to help with every aspect of running a successful hospitality operation.
To determine the best professional help based on your situation, it is important to understand clearly where you are at right now and where you want to go.
This may look like someone new to the industry wanting to build a boutique property, or an industry veteran re-strategising their business to stand out in a newly crowded market. Armed with that knowledge, hoteliers can evaluate potential consulting firms against their specific needs.
Main outcomes of utilising hospitality consulting services
The direct outcomes of engaging a hotel consulting firm vary based on the assignment, however most outcomes also affect business growth, revenue, and occupancy
Whether it is the creation of a loyalty program to engage existing guests that drives this growth, or a new smart room design that differentiates the hotel just enough in the market to drive incremental business: long term growth or sustainability for the future are usually part of the plan.
Beyond the agreed upon goals, consulting firms also bring another perspective. They often add international experience and professional connections, as well as a closer awareness of competitors.
Situations that may be new to the hotel and its ownership to encounter, are often not new to consulting teams, just different versions of scenarios familiar to them.
Given a clear goal, the expectation is for them to deliver against that goal and, in the process, likely grow key performance indicators, such as occupancy or revenue.
What to consider when starting a hospitality consulting business
Thinking of starting your own hospitality consulting business? Whether it’s a side hustle or a new venture, this change of pace can be rewarding both personally, professionally, and financially. However, no matter how experienced you may be in the hotel industry, it’s imperative to nail down a few key steps and considerations:
Define your niche and services
The hospitality industry is vast, encompassing everything from hotels and resorts to restaurants and travel services. Identifying your specific area of expertise and the services you can offer is crucial to setting the foundation of your consulting business.
- Conduct market research: Understand the current trends, challenges, and needs within the hospitality sector to identify where your expertise can be most valuable.
- Specialise: Consider focusing on a niche where you have significant experience or where there is a gap in the market, such as sustainable practices, digital marketing, or revenue management.
- Define your offerings: Clearly outline the services you will provide, such as operational assessments, strategic planning, training programs, or technology implementation.
Establish your brand and online presence
A strong brand and online presence are essential for attracting clients and establishing credibility in your field.
- Develop a professional website: Your website should highlight your services, experience, and success stories. Include a blog to share insights and establish thought leadership. This is the first port of call that many of your clients and potential clients will see. Make sure it leaves a good first impression.
- Leverage social media: Use platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter to connect with potential clients and industry peers. Share valuable content that showcases your expertise. Don’t be afraid to try other social channels like TikTok as well – it’s not just for a younger audience in the modern day.
- Networking: Attend industry events, webinars, and conferences to build relationships and enhance your visibility in the hospitality community.
Build a strong network
Success in consulting often hinges on the strength of your network. Building relationships with industry professionals, potential clients, and other consultants can lead to referrals and collaborative opportunities.
- Leverage existing contacts: Friends and family are the foundation of many successful businesses. Reach out to former colleagues, clients, and industry contacts to inform them about your new venture.
- Join industry associations: Becoming a member of relevant associations can provide networking opportunities and access to industry resources, not to mention mentors and peers to draw expertise and inspiration from.
- Offer value: You get what you give in this industry. Provide helpful advice, introductions, or resources to others without immediate expectation of return. This goodwill can lead to referrals and partnerships.
Set your business structure and legal foundations
Establishing the legal and administrative framework of your business is crucial to operate smoothly and professionally.
- Choose a business structure: Decide whether to operate as a sole proprietor, partnership, or limited company, considering factors like liability, taxes, and administrative complexity.
- Register your business: Ensure you’re registered with the appropriate local and national authorities. Obtain any necessary licences or permits to operate legally.
- Draft contracts and agreements: Develop clear, professional service agreements to use with clients, outlining the scope of work, deliverables, timelines, and payment terms. This reduces the potential for messy disagreements and clearly lays out what you will (and won’t) do for the businesses you engage with.
Top hospitality consulting firms for hotel owners
When every detail matters and every touchpoint counts, the right hospitality consulting firm can make all the difference to your hotel’s success. Below, we’ve put together the 3 of the best firms that can provide a wide range of enhancements, expansions and analyses of your hotel business:
Best for all-in-one hotel consulting
HotelMinder brings together a global team of seasoned consultants with decades of collective experience in the hospitality industry. Their mission is to enhance hoteliers’ operational efficiency, guest satisfaction, and employee engagement through top-tier technology, strategic marketing, revenue management, and comprehensive operational support.
Serving a diverse range of establishments, from cosy budget accommodations to luxurious boutique hotels, the all-in-one hotel consulting firm tailors its services to the unique needs of each property with thorough market, customer, and opportunity analysis.
As an added bonus, they provide the hospitality sector with an academy, a marketplace, and a freely accessible knowledge platform covering vital topics like hotel technology, marketing, revenue optimisation, and operations.
Best for data-based hotel consulting
TrevPAR – yes, named after the hotel KPI – is an award-winning data analytics company that specialises in helping hotels to boost their revenue through scalable distribution technologies. They provide full-service solutions, including technology, marketing strategy, revenue management, and operational support.
Best for free hospitality consulting
Der Hotelflüsterer conducts a free consultation and find out exactly what improvement opportunities any hotel has. Hoteliers then decide what and to what extent they would like to implement their proposed plan. Their modular system presents an offer that is perfectly tailored to a specific hotel’s needs.
Best for hotel OTA consulting
Marketing Distribution Concept (MDC) is an online travel agency, or OTA such as Booking.com, Airbnb, etc., management company providing full OTA marketing, distribution, and conceptualisation services to over 25 hotels and resorts across 5 countries.
They create and implement bespoke, creative, and profitable online marketing strategies for hotels and resorts of all sizes. They are a forward-thinking marketing consulting agency built to help hotels and resorts accelerate their revenue growth using effective OTA and Direct website marketing.
Specialised hospitality consulting firms
Within the consulting companies entirely focused on hospitality, there are again examples of firms that further specialise on specific subsegments such as revenue management and digital marketing.
Hospitality revenue management consulting companies
- RevenYou – Their consultants are highly accomplished specialists who complement the knowledge and skills existing within your own business. Their team team has a proven record of working with a variety of accommodation operators throughout Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific region to grow profit.
- The Net Revenue – They are focused on improving the direct sales of your hotel and thereby increasing profitability. They achieve this by putting the basic indicators of revenue management at your fingertips in order to make the best decisions. They work connected with your business and being part of it.
- Four Sides Hospitality Consulting – They focus on smaller, independent properties to bring them out of the shadows and make the property shine in their competitive market. Their process always starts at the hotel: the people working there and the guests staying there. They are firm believers that communicating effectively is essential.
Hospitality digital marketing consulting agencies
- Miand Asia Co – They are a fully-fledged digital marketing solutions provider, specializing in the hotel and hospitality sector. They help their partners develop and execute an effective integrated strategy for success that optimizes all available channels.
- Suntryp – They are an emerging commercial agency specialising in online distributon and management of hotel establishments and tourist flats. Born as a commercial management company, they have emerged as an online agency specialising in various lines of business over the years.
- Darano Consulting – They are made up of a group of experts with more than 20 years of experience in tourism and business technology. Their team offers a platform that helps businesses run more smoothly and efficiently in the digital marketplace, with a focus on automating as much as possible.
Best hospitality consulting firms in the world
Several of the big global brands in consulting have hospitality divisions, such as Deloitte, PWC, McKinsey, and Boston Consulting Group. The latter lists on their website that they currently work with five of the top 10 hotel groups, three of the top five cruise companies and seven of the top 10 passenger airlines.
Considering their other divisions and focus areas, these companies are trusted brands across a wide range of industries. If expertise with multinational companies and large scale projects is what you are after, then these brands certainly have the track record to prove it.
For those who prefer to work with an individual rather than a firm, there is another route to consider: the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) aims to be the leading source for global hospitality expertise by connecting hotel owners and managers with individual consultants worldwide.
A search on their site makes it easy to narrow down on specialities such as franchise experience in a specific country or interior design for an extended stay hotel. The consultants listed here are all part of ISHC by invitation only.
Looking for more hospitality consulting firms? Visit our expert partners page and connect with our partnerships team today.