Showcase Your Property with Seasonal Color

By Ken Hutcheson President, U.S. Lawns | June 30, 2013

With strong competition across the hospitality industry, first impressions are key when it comes to hotels contending for guests’ business. While quality customer service and generous amenities will encourage guests to return to a property a second and third time, how do you ensure that they choose the hotel in the first place? The answer to this question could be as simple the property’s grounds. A bland or overgrown landscape can speak poorly about the quality of service provided by the hotel, eroding customer confidence and injuring long-term loyalty. However, a healthy, well-maintained landscape creates an environment that is appealing and inviting to guests, and sends a strong message about the hotel’s commitment to service. Regularly updating and improving a hotel’s exterior appearance can present a continually fresh and lively feeling, giving guests an experience rather than just another hotel stay.

In today’s fast paced world, guests now have access to hundreds of reservations online and the option to view properties before booking, making it more important than ever for a hotel property to make a great first impression. Consider the following advice as you work with your commercial landscape contractor to develop a healthy-looking, eye-catching landscape that sets your hotel apart from the competition without crippling your bottom line.

Proper planning is essential

Making sure a hotel property looks its best year-round can help keep the reservations coming in, but it requires foresight and proper planning. For example, spring bulbs should be planted in the fall, and annual plants and flowers should be selected based upon which varieties grow best in the regional climate. Tulips and daffodils are great choices for northern states like New York and Connecticut, while cool season annuals such as pansies and violas are well suited for the southern climates of Georgia, the Carolinas and the like. In regions that endure particularly long or harsh winters, ornamental greens such as red twig dogwoods and evergreens provide a festive touch during colder months. Winter-flowering plants will also inject a burst of color into otherwise dreary landscapes. The most popular winter bulbs are daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, and tulips. These cold weather bloomers are suitable for resorts in various geographic regions.

Remember that spring and summer are times to showcase inventive design and creativity, as warmer weather presents considerable options for choosing flowering plants. These flowering varieties add greatly to the overall look of a hotel and the related experience a guest has during their stay. Because there are so many options of spring and summer varieties for hotel owners or managers to choose from, creating a unique, inexpensive look is easy. During fall and winter, efforts should be focused largely on landscape preservation and maintenance. This will help ensure your property is ready to shine in the warmer months, attracting both new and existing customers. Consult your landscape contractor for more ideas about seasonal plant options and care.

Keep in mind that beauty is not everything when it comes to landscaping. It is equally important for a landscape to be intelligently designed. This means taking ease of maintenance, sustainability, and water usage into consideration. These are key details to discuss when working with a landscape contractor to develop a complete landscape plan. If done properly, a well-designed project can significantly reduce a property’s operating costs, while still keeping it attractive and impactful.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.