High-Impact, Low-Cost Solutions
Adam Zembruski, Chief Hotel Operations Officer for Pharos Hospitality, discussed high-impact, low-cost solutions to attracting more guests. On the premise that most rivalries—such as those between a hotel and its competitive set—result from similarities, these solutions can help give you an edge over the opposition. Read on to see what you can be doing to up the ante that your competitors currently are not.
Maintain a rigorous training program. Branded properties have in-depth training programs already set up—if you are part of a brand, it is essential to take full advantage of those resources. If you are independent, create a training program that empowers employees to market your property as unique. Because hotel staff-members have the most contact with guests, training them to be a part of your brand image—and to take being part of a team seriously—is integral in ensuring that guests are given the right impression. Before a training session begins, Adam suggests breaking employees into four teams and asking each team to perform one part of a SWOT analysis of the property. This is low-cost and will help prepare them for the session.
Develop an excellent online reputation. We live in an age where consumers research products before they buy, and hotels are no exception. Social media sites, review pages, and more can make or break your brand image. That is why it is important to track your online presence. Start by collecting data—search far and wide for your property on the internet. Use a benchmark to measure online satisfaction, set goals for satisfaction levels, and strive to meet those goals. Produce social media reports and review analytics by department; this way, you can provide department managers with decision-making tools and action plans.
Take advantage of brand-developed marketing programs. Many brands provide opt-in marketing programs for franchisees, and many franchisees miss out on the opportunities. Be aware of offerings and expiration dates, hold periodic marketing-management meetings, and develop cost/benefit analyses to make educated decisions about these programs. Further, if you have already accepted a marketing program, analyze its success by looking at increases in incremental revenue, guest satisfaction, etc. If you are willing to spend the money on the franchise fees associated with brand marketing initiatives, you must ensure that your hotel is maximizing its use of the program.
Periodically update your marketing collateral. This includes everything from the area rugs in the lobby to the uniforms worn by staff members. Aesthetics make up a large percentage of guest perception—seat a guest at a table with a stained tablecloth or fail to change the faded curtains in a guestroom, and that perception is negatively (and sometimes permanently) altered. Train staff members to constantly check for such defects and to report them when found, and use quality assurance audits and mystery shoppers to locate problem areas. With a team of expert eyes and ears, you can be sure that your hotel will consistently appear welcoming, fresh, and up-to-date.