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 – and 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 March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.