Maximizing the Potential of Your Hotel

By Sanjay Nijhawan COO, Guoman Hotels (UK) | June 06, 2010

There are two ways of dealing with a severe economic downturn. One is to withdraw - pull back and wait it out. That's the "let's hope and pray" approach. The other is to view the circumstances as opportunity - not to simply forge ahead doing what we've done in the past but the chance to find creative solutions to new realities while remaining realistic about the bottom line.

Around the world, the coming months will represent one of the most challenging sales environments in decades, not only for hotels and resorts but for all industries. According to HTrends.com, Smith Travel Research predicts that the hospitality industry has a 99.9 percent likelihood of falling into a recession. We are already seeing some of the consequences. Media organizations are lamenting steep declines in advertising. Government figures show consumer spending at record lows.

As individuals, businesses and nations seek ways to regroup and revive economically, we as hoteliers will need, more than ever, to develop innovative, cost-effective ideas and methods to retain customers and find new ones. With travelers increasingly concerned about spending, we will need to convince them that we offer outstanding value for money spent. To succeed, we must maximize the potential of our brand and our hotels. At Guoman Hotels we rely on five essential practices to do so.

1) Know Yourself and Your Audience

We are an industry in which everyone sells a similar thing: a place to sleep where varying levels of luxury, comfort, service and, usually, food and drink, are provided, at prices appropriate to the levels offered. Within any single price category, why would travelers care which hotel they stay in? Because of what we offer, and how we offer it, that is above and beyond the actual product and services we provide. In short, who we are - our identity, our brand essence.

In the current economic climate, it is all the more important for us to know who we are. Not in such vague terms as "a luxury hotel with fine dining," but specifically - the vision, history, personality, operating principles, even philosophy of life that make us unique. This is the essence of the brand and it works on many different price levels.

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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.