You have to work hard, really hard, to get more business for your hotel. You can not simply put out the vacancy sign and expect a steady stream of guests to come walking through the front door. It can take years to build up a hotel’s reputation, but only a few bad reviews to knock it back down.
A hotel manager needs to take a look at the big picture. First, he or she must focus on making everything right with the hotel itself. Next, it is important to know your competition. Finally, and most importantly, you must focus on attracting new guests and making sure that when they stay, they will want to come back and stay again.
Who is your target market?
No hotel can be all things to all people. Your hotel’s mission statement and business plan can be broad and inclusive, but also needs to be narrow enough to create an identity for its core target audience. A four-star hotel in the financial district should focus on the business traveler, while a moderately priced hotel near Disneyland should focus on providing accommodations for families. You can bring in more business by knowing who your customers are and giving them the things they need and want most.
Las Vegas is a good example of where some hotels tried unsuccessfully to appeal to all demographic groups. A few years back, the city decided to promote itself as a place to bring the kids. Hotels started changing to cater to family based vacationers. While the message being sent out brought more families to Las Vegas, it also distracted Vegas hoteliers from its core identity as an adult playground for gamblers. Targeting your market works better than trying to appeal to everyone.
What makes your hotel different?
You always want to give a guest a reason why they should choose your hotel over another hotel in the area. Price can be a big reason, but certainly not the only reason to drive business to your hotel.
If your hotel happens to have lake and ocean views that is a selling point. Maybe you are the only hotel in the area that allows pets? You can differentiate your hotel by the level of service you provide, offering your guests freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or anything else that adds value to a guest’s stay.
Develop a relationship with your guests before they arrive
When people have the chance to get to know you, they will be more apt to book a room with you rather than going to an unfamiliar place. Just as you are more likely to visit a friend than a perfect stranger, the same holds true for staying at a hotel.
Using all available means to build friendships and relationships can lead to more bookings. Start with a content-rich website that is constantly updated. Create a hotel newsletter. Have a Facebook and a Twitter presence. Allow people to ask questions and respond to all inquiries in a timely manner. Anything you can do to connect to people interested in your hotel will help attract more paying guests.
Are you getting the most out of your website?
You should look at your website as the central core of your online marketing strategy. All advertising material from brochures and print ads to television and blogs on the internet should have a link back to your website. Social media sites can encourage people to visit your website, but you need to make your website valuable to visitors when they arrive.
Professional design is almost mandatory. You want your website to function properly and be easy to navigate. A good website should not feel cluttered, but should provide all of the information a person might want or need to make a booking decision. Put any discounts or special offers in a prominent spot on your home page. Your website should allow a person to book a reservation or get in touch with someone to answer any questions he or she may have.
Keep your website fresh and full of interesting and valuable content. You can have an area that tells readers about upcoming local festivals and events. A guide to local restaurants, shopping and attractions, with links to those places, will be very useful for visitors to your city.
Build an email mailing list
Creating a big list of solid leads is a valuable asset in any kind of marketing campaign for your hotel. In the old days, businesses paid money to buy names and addresses from mailing list providers. It has been shown time-and-time-again that growing an email mailing list is the better approach.
Offering an incentive for people to give you their email address is the fastest and best way to build an email list. Among the ways to encourage people to furnish their email address is to offer them a free subscription to a monthly newsletter or give them access to special discounts that are sent to them through their email accounts.
When you develop a large list of people who have an interest in traveling and staying at hotels, you can target them in different ways. While you do not want to bombard people with too many messages, an occasional email will remind them of your hotel and may just get them to make a reservation.
Give your guests more value
When people return home from a vacation they like to share their experience with their friends. While they are more likely to talk about the fun they had at Disneyland rather than the hotel in which they stayed, if you do something special that impresses them, they will very likely rave about it to their friends.
It might cost you a little extra to provide a deluxe free breakfast instead of a continental breakfast, but the goodwill you build with guests will more than offset the additional cost. Instead of just offering cold cereal and toast, offer scrambled eggs and bacon.
First impressions matter
When guests pull up to your hotel, they immediately form an impression of the property. While you may not have fancy gardens and fountains to wow them, you should keep your grounds well maintained. You do not want cigarette butts outside your entrance or garbage blowing around in the parking lot. Your hotel should look clean inside and out.
When guests come to the front desk to check-in, they are probably tired from a long day of travel. Always make sure you greet them with a friendly smile and get them their room keys as quickly as possible. Offer them a cool drink or a cup of coffee. Don’t keep them waiting and don’t bog them down with too much information that they can read about in their room. When a guest is treated with courtesy from the start, he or she is likely to form a positive opinion of the hotel.
You always want to give your guests the same great experience on every day of their stay. If a guest loved your hotel so much when he stayed with you in May, don’t disappoint him when he comes back in October to stay with you again. In order to maintain a consistently high standard with everything from clean rooms and fresh towels to the breakfast buffet and the front desk service, you need to have a quality control plan.
Everything that needs to be done in a given day should be clearly written down. You should set up a schedule with times when the hallways need to be vacuumed, the pool cleaned and the air conditioning filters changed. Organization is important as is communication and regular meetings with your staff. Guests, particularly those who stay with you frequently, have the right to expect the same level of service every time they visit.
Be flexible and accommodating
Following policy is fine in most situations, but you should also be willing to bend the rules a little to make the customer happy. Most hotels do not let you check-in until 3:00 pm and make you check-out by 11:00 am. They do this to have time to clean the rooms and get them ready for arriving guests.
If you have empty rooms and a guest wants to check-out at 1:00 pm because his flight does not leave until 5:00 pm, let the guest stay the extra few hours.
Learn from guest comments
The best way to see what you are doing right, or what you might be doing wrong, is to ask the people who stay at your hotel. Encourage guests to write online reviews or ask them to fill out a short comment card in their room. Your front desk people should always ask departing guests how they enjoyed their stay. Use complaints as an opportunity to fix problems and make your hotel an even better place to stay.
If you want to bring more business to your hotel, follow three simple steps. Treat every guest like you would treat a member of your own family. Constantly strive to improve the service and facilities of your hotel and always keep an eye on the competition.
- 30 Ways Hotels Can Increase Revenues, Decrease Costs and Boost Booking (hmghotelsblog.com)
- Hotel Reputation Management Tips (business2community.com)
- Wifi is now the communications hub of the hotel (tnooz.com)