Building a small hotel from nothing into a wildly successful venture is no small feat. That’s particularly true today. The hospitality industry is far more competitive than it was even a decade ago.
For owners wondering how to make a hotel better and more successful, the answer is simple: take the right steps and follow some specific small hotel management tips. What steps are those, though? Which tips should you follow? The industry is certainly not short on how-to guides and would-be gurus.
The truth is that hotel business management doesn’t have to be mysterious and it doesn’t have to be frustrating. The five steps below will help ensure that you’re able to stand out for all the right reasons, even if you’re competing against much larger hotels.
Cloud-Based Technology Matters
If you take care of the little things, the big ones will take care of themselves. Or, in other words, get the foundation right, and everything else will fall into place. In this instance, the foundation we’re talking about is technology. Cloud-based technology, to be specific.
Cloud-based PMS platforms offer quite a few benefits, including increased agility, flexibility, scalability, and affordability. Small hotel owners must wear many hats, and this type of technology can take a lot of the burden off your shoulders. The right platform will boost bookings, help you improve customer relationship management, and optimize your overall business.
Don’t be afraid to compare your options, either. There are many different pieces of hotel technology out there today, and not all of them are created equal. Look for a platform that offers an all-in-one solution, comes with 24/7 support, and can help you with everything from employee scheduling to marketing.
If you want to increase hotel business, you’ll need to maximize your visibility online. For many owners and managers, that probably brings to mind getting listed with online travel agencies (OTAs) and other booking sites. However, while those certainly matter, you cannot neglect metasearch engines.
Not sure what metasearch engines are or why they matter? Simply put, these sites allow potential guests to compare hotel room rates from different OTAs and other channels in a single location. Trivago is a good example of a metasearch engine, although there are others out there, including Kayak, TripAdvisor, and even Google itself.
So, how do you use these sites to increase hotel business? The secret is social proof. Metasearch engines allow you to use guest reviews to your advantage. These provide crucial proof for prospective guests, speaking directly to what their experience will be like.
When you combine social proof and the right metasearch engines, you’ll be able to drive both visibility and revenue.
Pay Attention to Your Website
First, if you don’t have a website already, you’re damaging your chances of success. You cannot play this game while relying on third-party sites. You need your own website.
However, you can’t have just any old site. It needs to be converted-focused. Remember that your website is essentially your digital storefront. It’s where your guests come to shop and buy, and it’s usually the first thing that guests will see, making it a critical part of their overall experience.
So, how do you ensure that your site is converted-focused? It all starts with telling the right story. As a small hotel, you have things that big chains don’t, including personality, history, and your own story. Find ways to tell that through imagery and wording throughout your website.
You also need to ensure that your website is designed for mobile users, that it is easy to navigate, and that you have a fully functional web booking engine built into it. This ensures that guests can book their stay right through your website without having to call you or rely on third-party sites to handle that.
Your Distribution Strategy Matters
Another key step in the quest to increase hotel business is to make sure that your distribution strategy is up to par. For small hotels, this means working with as many distribution channels as possible but doing your due diligence first to make sure that they’re all worth your time. After all, if your primary audience doesn’t use a channel, there is little value in adding it to your strategy.
Use most of the big-name OTAs, but take your time to sort through the smaller, lesser-known choices, too. For instance, Venuu isn’t heavily used by vacation travelers, but it is used by those who are planning events. Slowhop and Host Unusual both cater to those looking for something different in their travel accommodations and who are actively seeking something that can’t be found at a big-box hotel.
Know Your Guests and Drive Repeat Business
Finally, you need to know your guests. This means more than just doing your due diligence and identifying your target audience. You must literally know your guests. Just some of the questions you will need to answer include the following:
- Who stays with you?
- Where are they from?
- Do they travel with their family?
- With their pets? With friends?
- What times of the year do they like to visit?
- What do they do while they’re in town?
- Are they interested in local festivals and other events?
Why should you gather this information? It’s all about being able to reach out to them later on and drive repeat business. By collecting this information, as well as contact information, you can create customized emails that speak directly to each guest’s interests and preferences, keep them informed about what’s going on in the local area, and much more.
There’s another advantage here, too: you’re able to get them to book directly through your website, rather than allowing them to go through an OTA or another channel. That builds loyalty, but also saves you the commission that the OTA would have charged. It also allows you to control the conversation and communicate directly with your guests and share special discounts and offers.
Ultimately, the quest to increase hotel business requires that you make smart decisions. You will need to have the right technology, capitalize on metasearch and social proof, ensure that your website is conversion-focused, create an efficient distribution strategy, and then know and communicate with your guests to get and keep repeat business. It is possible to run a successful small hotel, even in today’s ultra-competitive world.
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