Staying Ahead of the Competition in 2019: Why Smart Hotel Owners and Investors Should Consider A Brand Conversion

By Javier Coll Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, Apple Leisure Group | January 13, 2019

If you ask business leaders to describe what drives the most successful organizations around the globe, they will likely mention concepts such as market insight, organizational adaptability, new product development and customer service. While these ideas may seem to best define a resilient technology company, they are actually quite relevant for hotel owners and operators across nearly every segment of the industry.

Consider this: through the inevitable economic and geo-political fluctuations that regularly impact travel and tourism, the most profitable and enduring properties have been guided by owners and management teams with real market awareness – those who understand when and how to revise their strategies, re-imagine their properties, and restructure their operations.

These hotels have consistently found the right moment to adapt by aligning with new hotel management partners, launching new services and raising capital to upgrade physical structures.

Finally, they have excelled at predicting the needs and desires of travelers in general, and their guests in particular – an example of great customer service in action.

So what does adaptability, market awareness and customer focus look like for hotel owners today? Of course, the answer will vary by region and segment, but one approach has increasingly worked for properties wanting to stay ahead of the competition Рand in sync with guest desires: brand conversion.

While the conversion strategy is not new, it will likely take on new importance in the months ahead, especially in markets where economic and political changes are on the horizon.  It will also be a critical strategy in places where new construction is poised to oversaturate the market with guestrooms. Overall, the market is cyclical by nature, at some point we are bound to experience a downturn, just as we did a decade ago.

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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.