Preparing Your Hotel Landscape for Spring

By Ken Hutcheson President, U.S. Lawns | March 19, 2017

As temperatures start to warm up and thawing begins, many hoteliers across the country are thrilled to say goodbye to winter. In some regions, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest, this winter proved to be a hotelierís worst nightmare. With above freezing temperatures and blizzard-like conditions, it was difficult for some guests to even travel to their destinations. Keeping entranceways, parking lots and sidewalks clean and safe was another challenge many hotel owners and managers faced this winter. Now that winter has officially come to an end, itís time to prepare your landscapes for spring.

Below are a few simple tips to ensure your landscape is prepared for the upcoming season:

Protect and Invest in Your Curb Appeal

Hotel owners and managers know that their hotelís year-round curb appeal is extremely important in attracting the right guests to their property. The landscape is often a guestís first impression of your hotel (whether the guest realizes it or not). Because of this, hotel owners and property managers need to focus on creating a visual landscape that aligns with their hotelís brand image. For example, two to three star hotels/motels like the Quality Inn, Comfort Inn & Suites, Best Western, and Holiday Inn arenít trying to give off the impression that theyíre competing with high-end hotels. Thatís not to say that they donít care about their landscapes Ė theyíre just unlikely to create elaborate flower displays/arrangements or invest in high maintenance landscapes with expensive foliage. Despite this, these hotel managers and owners know that they still need to foster a crisp and clean landscape. Low cost and low maintenance landscapes are the ideal gardening solution for these types of hotels.

Talk to your contractor about what vegetation is right for your geographic location. This will help you determine which plants/flowers are right for your hotel. Keep in mind that durability and maintenance are two important factors to think about when choosing foliage. For instance, Snapdragons, Cleome, and Caladium are a few examples of vegetation that are suitable for all locations and they donít require much upkeep.

On the other hand, if youíre a property manager for a high-end resort or hotel, the costs associated with your curb appeal are going to be higher. Four and five star hotel brands like The Ritz Carlton, The Four Seasons, The Park Hyatt, The Fairmont, and The Intercontinental, have a certain look and feel about them. Those property managers should work with their contractors to plant more extravagant flower displays in the public areas where the guests have access. There should also be a consistent theme throughout the property to uphold the hotelís brand. The pool area needs to express the same level of luxury as the entranceways and the lobby. While the costs are going to be higher to do this, itís necessary to meet the expectations of your customers. Itís been proven that flowers in particular create an emotional impact on guests. In fact, a Rutgers University study showed a that thereís a link between mood elevation and flowers. Flowers also work to enhance a destinationís atmosphere. For example, a hotel in Hawaii would be full of tropical vegetation like plumerias and hibiscus, while a hotel in China would lean more toward Zen arrangements.

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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.