Creating a Lively Landscape on a Budget

By Ken Hutcheson President, U.S. Lawns | March 29, 2015

Hotel executives must make tough budget decisions every day. When funds are limited, it's tempting to limit expenditures on a hotel's exterior landscape. But this is a mistake-a beautiful landscape can bring more guests (and, consequently, more revenue) through the door. If you're working with a limited budget, follow these best practices to make sure that you see a positive return on your landscaping investment.

Start with the Basics: Before Your Invest, Evaluate Your Maintenance Plan and Your Landscape

Before you talk to your landscaping contractor about making any big investments on your hotel's property-take a deep breath-and evaluate the landscape first. The easiest way to improve a hotel's overall look and feel (without breaking the bank) is to look over your routine maintenance procedures and make sure that they are effective and efficient. At a bare minimum, your property should appear clean, safe, and well taken care of. Sidewalks, curbs, parking lots, and flowerbeds should be crisply edged at all times. If that's not the case, it's time to talk with your landscaper and reset expectations. These regular maintenance services should be included in your contract, so there should be no additional cost to you.

Refreshing your mulch throughout the year, at least four or five times annually, is cost-effective way to keep your landscape looking continuously fresh. Many hoteliers replace their mulch right before spring or sometime during the warmer months, so by the fall and winter the landscape looks tired. Having your contractor replace the mulch regularly gives your property a well-cared-for appearance and helps your shrubs and flowers stand out. Replacing mulch also is a very minimal cost and definitely won't make a dent in your budget. So it's a good conversation to have with your contractor, if you're looking to brighten up your property.

Additionally, replacing any unhealthy or unsightly shrubs, plans, or turf is absolutely essential. You and your landscaper should routinely survey to identify landscape elements that need to be replaced. Staying on top of "one-off" issues will save you the money (and time) of more extensive landscape overhauls down the road.

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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.