With most things in today’s business world, nothing ever stays the same for very long, and hotels are no different: from design interiors trends to changing food tastes, and from guest technology expectations to customer service delivery, everything is in a constant state of flux.
Clearly, this presents very real challenges for your hotel: with guest demands and preferences changing all the time, how do you stay ahead of the competition, and how do you keep on giving your customers exactly what they want?
Really it all comes down to innovation, not just in terms of understanding your customers implicitly, but in terms of having the flexibility/ versatility to quickly adapt your services on a regular basis.
But even more than this, it comes down to being incredibly open to new ideas by having the leadership skills to go out into the big bad world to find what’s really going on out there.
To help you think about how you can reinvent your hotel, to give your customers exactly what they want, here are 5 practical tips to help you embrace change.
1 Talk to your guests on an ongoing basis
As with any business, no-one knows what your customer wants or expects, better than the customer themselves. And yet, despite this, there is a tendency for hotel managers (or managers in any business for that matter) to try to second guess what they think their customer wants, based on nothing but their own personal experience.
So, instead of relying on your intuition, hope, and a large slice of luck, why not ask your customers very directly and very often, what they would like you to give them, or what they would like you to do differently?
Simply asking your guests their opinion (invite them to complete a short and sweet survey form during their stay or at the point of check out ), will give you some amazing insights into what you are doing well, what you are doing badly, or what you are neglecting to do at all.
2 Stay in as many hotels as you possibly can!
Think about it, can there possibly be any better way of understanding your competition, and the market as a whole, than by staying at their hotels as a guest? Just by booking to stay overnight with your competitors, as an anonymous guest, will allow to see their full guest offering from the guest perspective.
The benefits are obvious: staying as a guest will enable you to understand how your competitors do things, what they are offering their guests that you are not, and even what they are doing badly that you are doing well.
By staying at as many hotels as possible, you will soak up loads of new ideas on an ongoing basis, and you’ll then be able to implement the best ones in your hotel, adding value to your guests’ experience. So what are you waiting for? Get booking!
3 Stay in your own hotel as a guest
Another great way to understand your own service offering, from the guests’ perspective, is to go and play the role of guest yourself.
To really get the maximum benefit from this research experience (primary market research is exactly what this is), we suggest that you plan exactly what you are looking to find out from your staying experience, in advance of your stay.
So if, for example, your main target market is the business traveller, become that business person and assess whether your hotel’s experience meets the precise needs of the business executive market.
Alternatively, if you feel your hotel is overly reliant on one particular market – again, let’s take the business traveller for example – why not arrange an overnight stay with family or friends, and identify what other services you may need to offer in order to appeal to other markets?
4 Invite your staff to stay at your competitors’ hotels in a fact-finding capacity
Imagine how happy your staff would be if you gave them the opportunity to stay at a competitor hotel, with their family, free of charge?
What, free of charge, I hear you ask? (“How could I possibly justify paying for a staff member to stay overnight at a nearby hotel?”)
This reaction is perfectly understandable because, let’s face it, keeping your costs down is always the first thing you’re hard wired to think about when it comes to your bottom line.
But what if we were to suggest that, rather than seeing this purely as a cost to your business, inviting members of your team to stay at your competitors’ hotels actually represents both an excellent marketing opportunity and staff incentive scheme, all rolled into one?
Pitching this as a staff incentive, offered to a top performing staff member in any given month / quarter, would not only encourage better customer service, increase staff morale, and expose members of your team to different hotel environments, it would result in useful feedback and great new ideas for your business.
5 Build a database of your direct competitors and review their websites every week
These days, you really can tell an awful lot about your competitors from their website alone: just as a super cool website that wows the user is usually indicative of a luxury hotel experience, a functional and rather bland website will usually suggest a basic, but not very memorable, hotel experience.
With this in mind, one very simple way of staying up to date with your competitors is to monitor, review, and analyse their online presence, every week on an ongoing basis:.
Simply clicking into each competitor website, as well as their social media channels, will give you a very good understanding of where their business is at as regards the type of guest they are targeting, any new service add-ons they are offering, and any exciting/new/unique products they are selling.