Warning Signs Your Hotel is in Trouble... and May Need Outside Help

By Bill Morrissey President, Morrissey Hospitality Companies | October 28, 2008

Given the complexity of running a successful operation today, there are many ways a hotel can find itself in trouble and in need of outside help. Some pretty obvious indicators that things aren't going very well might include:

That last one is really a quote from Albert Einstein, so I really can't say it's an original thought. And as far as I know, Dr. Einstein did not own or operate a hotel. But the simplicity of his words suggest that when things are not going as expected it's a good time to seek out fresh thinking and address issues affecting the business; what are the current market conditions, how have they changed over time, and how is the property responding to them? What has the competitive set done that in some way threatens or jeopardizes the business long-term? What do your customers think, feel, and believe about your brand?

Being prepared, a decree not exclusive to the Boy Scouts, works well in planning for the ups and downs of running a hotel operation. Having a solid sales and marketing effort supporting all revenue generating areas and reacting to current market conditions affecting the hotel is fundamental. But protecting the reputation of the brand is often overlooked or not prioritized in far too many organizations.

Beyond the issues listed above, many of which are a result of poor revenue performance, there are, of course, many external factors that can unexpectedly and negatively affect the business and brand, such as a food borne illness outbreak, labor dispute, or traumatic newsworthy event. Acts or situations that oftentimes happen outside the control of hotel management can have long-lasting damaging effects on the property. How the management team and brand respond to such issues when they happen is critical, and having a trained team with a crisis or issues management preparedness plan at the ready can be the difference between defending the brand versus seeing it destroyed when under attack.

So to address the topic of "Warning signs your hotel is in trouble...and may need outside help," I would suggest a simple question: Are you prepared for when your brand's reputation is under fire jeopardizing the entire business? Having a crisis plan written down and understood by key employees is critical to ensure that as much as possible you control the issue threatening your brand instead of letting it get control over you.

At our properties, we place great value on the reputation of each brand under management. With a diverse portfolio and each property having its own unique characteristics and operational nuances, we strive to place an emphasis on managing the reputation of the brand and providing a quality guest experience over all else. A strong and healthy brand can be more resilient during hard times, and opportunistic during good times. And it needs to be supported and defended every day by every employee representing it. At its simplest form, a brand is a promise made to people who entrust us with their business, regardless if for leisure or corporate use, to us every day. Operations staff deliver on the brand promise being made to the guest, and if there is a disconnect in the guest's mind between the perceived versus actual experience, the brand is broken. Even when shown through the eyes of the media. One of the true tests of a brand promise comes when a crisis occurs.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.