What is a hotel strategy?
A hotel strategy is a detailed plan that outlines the approach a hotel or hospitality business will take to achieve its goals and objectives. It covers several key areas of operation and management, including:
- Market positioning
- Revenue management
- Customer experience and service
- Marketing and sales
- Operational efficiency
- Sustainability and social responsibility
- Adaptability to market trends
- Staff training and development
In essence, a hotel strategy encompasses everything you do, both in the day to day and the long term, to succeed in the accommodation industry.
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Why is hotel strategy important?
A hotel strategy provides a clear roadmap for achieving business goals, ensuring that every aspect of the hotel’s operations, from revenue management to guest services, aligns with its overarching objectives.
Crucially, a well-defined strategy enables hotels to adapt to market changes, effectively target the right audience, and optimise resources, ultimately leading to increased profitability, customer satisfaction, and sustained business growth.
Who is responsible for the overall hotel strategy?
The general manager (GM) of a hotel is largely responsible for the success of the business. Essentially, the buck stops with them when it comes to hotel strategy. They are who staff and guests turn to for guidance or answers and who hotel owners depend on to drive bookings and revenue.
It makes sense then that general managers are some of the most knowledgeable and informed people in the industry.
Hotel general manager
As expected, hotel managers are some of the hardest working people in society.
The large majority (83%) work over 45 hours each week with 15% clocking a staggering 60-69 hours in a working week.
When it comes to days off, they’re limited to less than 10 days off per month 84% of the time. Many of them also don’t see themselves using their full allocation of time off either with 43% saying they had a surplus at the end of the year.
Even with these demanding hours, general managers have a great passion for their job because of one main reason; people. When asked why they stay at their current job, 69% said it was because of the people they work with and 53% stated they loved interacting with guests.
What does the average hotel look like?
Before you look into a hotel strategy, it’s important to know what the average hotel in the industry is like.
A leading hotel industry publication released the Voice of the GM survey.
It’s interesting to see the mix of sizes, class, and segments of the respondents. There really is no such thing as the average hotel. They come in all shapes and sizes as these statistics show:
How many rooms are in the property?
- Under 60: 4%
- 60 to 80: 22%
- 81 to 100: 18%
- 101 to 150: 31%
- 151 to 300: 17%
- 300+: 8%
What segment is your hotel in?
- Luxury – 1%
- Upper Upscale – 9%
- Upscale – 11%
- Upper Midscale – 32%
- Midscale – 38%
- Economy – 9%
What market does your hotel compete in?
- Suburban – 24%
- Urban/City – 21%
- Highway – 18%
- Small Town – 15%
- Resort – 15%
- Airport – 7%
Only 16% of all respondents were from an independent property and 87% said they were only currently managing one hotel.
Over 50% had already performed renovations within the last three years and 74% indicated they would renovate within the next three years. This shows they understand the importance of keeping things fresh and interesting for guests.
The needs of travellers change very quickly with the latest fads, which means that hotels need to be aware of what their customers are expecting during their stay.
How do you write a hotel strategy?
To run a successful hotel business, you must constantly predict and plan for the future with a well thought out strategy.
What trends will remain strong and what new ones will emerge? How will guests and their booking behaviour change? How risky or inventive can you be with your marketing tactics and subsequent guest experience?
These are all questions hoteliers need to ask and develop responses to so they can continue to operate profitable properties. Hoteliers should also ask:
- What specific strategies should we develop to address changes in guest behaviour, market trends, and operational efficiency?
- How can we ensure these strategies attract and retain guests while also being profitable?
- How do we effectively implement our strategies across different areas of hotel operations, and what measures should we use to monitor their effectiveness?
- How can we build flexibility and adaptability into our strategy to respond to unexpected market shifts or guest feedback?
Hotel strategy examples
Different strategies will suit different hotels, and the same strategies that worked in the previous season may not work as well as they did before. Flexibility in strategy is key for success, and every hotelier should have a ‘menu’ of strategies to choose from.
Here are five examples of how you could evolve and improve your future hotel business strategy:
1. Become a ‘Choreographer’
‘The Choreographer’ acts as a virtual concierge to oversee and optimise the logistics of a guests’ stay.
This hotel will be motivated by busy travellers, such as corporate guests or large families, who value convenience above all else. This hotel will try to redefine service by managing the entire travel experience in a painless manner to remove any stress from the guest.
For some people, travel is a necessary but thankless task. Commuting from place-to-place in different modes of transport to perform important tasks becomes tiring. As a result, they look for tools and solutions that make their time on the road much easier. A hotel commercial strategy that can provide those tools – such as a free airport shuttle, a discounted taxi service partnership, or similar – will pay dividends for the hotel that applies it.
2. Become a ‘Neighbour’
‘The Neighbour’ understands the importance and necessity of fitting in with the surrounding area and becoming one with its destination.
Your hotel will be driven by guests who are looking for a purposeful way to engage with the local area and experience the heart of the destination’s culture. Often guests find the spaces of a hotel generic and unappealing.
It doesn’t seem like a place they want to hang out because it’s empty of the experiences they can find elsewhere in their destination. They want their hotel to be a welcoming extension of the exterior environment, further enriching the time they spend on their trip.
3. Become an ‘Architect’
‘The Architect’ will be a hotel that utilises the spaces inside and outside of a property to the benefit of all guests. It will pay particular attention to those who book for longer periods of time, visit frequently, or require flexibility.
‘The Architect’ recognises that many guests, such as business travellers, have specific and personalised needs. They want a hotel that adapts to where they need to be, and also to where they want to be. The feeling of being at home at the same time as being encouraged to explore is an ideal experience for guests. And when they have to work, they need a space that supports this mood too. ‘The Architect’ will design dynamic spaces that give travellers the opportunity to adopt whatever attitude they like throughout their stay.
4. Become a ‘Curator’
‘The Curator’ will be a hotel commercial strategy that places strong emphasis on integrating experiences into the hotel environment. It may implement its own ideas or engage with external partnerships to keep its hospitality fresh, deliver variety, and enable guests to try new things.
This hotel recognises many guests can be sensitive to certain hotel features that change their mood and mindset. This is why all guests need a variety of environments that support their desire to feel comfortable, engage in new lifestyles, socialise with new personalities, and also relax when they need to.
When guests visit a hotel, in most cases they want to suspend their reality and find a slightly different one to refresh, reinvigorate, or unwind.
5. Become a ‘Matchmaker’
‘The Matchmaker’ is an integrator of people and constructs its strategy around allowing guests to help create the culture of the brand, using the existing strengths of the hotel to foster relationships. This is common for big hotel chains such as the Hilton as their hotel strategy.
‘The Matchmaker’ is passionate about guests who are searching for meaningful interactions while they’re on the road. The hotel will work hard to facilitate personalised connections, socialising, and networking.
For travellers who are regularly on the road, a social life and personal relationships can sometimes take a backseat, exacting an emotional toll on the individual. Often they will seek out places they can find company, conversation, and inspiration to offset the drudgery of solo travel.
Creative hotel business strategy for you to use
To maintain a competitive business proposition hotels need to be attentive to the needs of guests. Understanding the specific and varied desires of global travellers is paramount to providing world-class service.
Once you have this knowledge you can develop creative strategies that set you apart from competitors and give guests a reason to talk about, and return to, your hotel.
Here are four ways you can set a higher standard for hospitality when international visitors come to stay:
1. Give guests control over your brand culture
Instead of telling guests what they will experience when they visit your hotel, let them shape the direction of their stay. By extension, this will also help contribute to your brand image and potentially improve the reputation of your hotel.
To do this you need to enable a social, intimate, and networked environment where there is a constant buzz around the property. Consider the following tips:
Instead of a normal hallway, why not implement a mini art installation as guests roam your hotel?
Facilitate positive interactions
Give your guests the opportunity to attend a bingo night where they can win prizes such as bar and restaurant vouchers, or amenity discounts.
Create a social platform
A Facebook group specific to the guests staying at your property will encourage networking, meet-ups and a social atmosphere for guests who don’t want to be cooped up in their rooms when they’re not out and about.
Essentially, you should always gear activities towards giving your guests a chance to interact with each other and also your staff.
2. Emphasise the creation of valuable hotel experiences
Don’t be afraid to experiment to ensure you’re always presenting a fresh experience for guests. Travellers increasingly value experiences over materials or products so you should allow them to customise their own stay.
For example, some guests may prefer a downstairs room, later breakfast, or 24-hour gym access. Providing these choices will make the guests feel like they’ve had a more personalised stay.
You can also give guests a lasting experience by letting them purchase hotel features such as glassware, linen, or soap, and sending them home with interior design guides they can try themselves.
3. Create flexible and unique property spaces for long-term guests
You may want to pay closer attention to those guests who book for longer periods of time, visit frequently, or require more flexibility than the average traveller. Most often this group will be characterised by business travellers or families.
If you are targeting these travellers you’ll need to foster an environment that promotes work, play, and relaxation. It’s also important to remember you don’t have to be in the heart of your destination, but where your guests want you to be. For instance, many business travellers enjoy a hotel that has close proximity to the airport.
Spaces within the hotel, such as under-utilised common areas, could be transformed into co-working areas or retail spaces for local businesses.
Designing the hotel as a set of interconnected spaces, instead of a single centralised hub, will give guests more flexibility and choice about how they enjoy their stay.
4. Embrace the strengths of your property’s destination
Demonstrating cultural awareness and sensitivity at your hotel will impress local and international travellers alike. Guests are looking for meaningful ways to engage with the local flavour of their destination so you will want to help them do this by incorporating it into your property.
Here are some things you can do at your hotel:
- Open space for a farmer’s market or other similar activities
- Collaborate with other companies to promote things like educational forums, public events, and exhibitions
- Incorporate the work of local designers, artists, and craftsmen into the spaces of the hotel
This will increase the authenticity of your hotel and make guests want to spend more time there, giving you an opportunity to earn more revenue.