Prepare for Competition: How to Survive When New Hotels Come to Town
We have a few tips for how established hotels can stay ahead of new hotel competition.
There will always be new competition for your clientele. Whether your hotel exists in a tourist town, near an airport or other public transportation, or in a drive-through city that resides along the route of a popular road trip, your hotel can’t rest on its laurels for long. Newcomers always challenge decade-long-standing hotels—all thanks to novelty. Hotels with a few years under their belts can do a few things to push back against new hotel competition and fight to stay on top of the market.
Refresh Your Look and Your Amenities
Start an update with the area that customers care about the most: the rooms. It might be as simple as a new coat of paint or more extensive, like adding new beds and furniture. Keep these elements as neutral as possible so they don’t seem out of style in the next few years. Replacing old appliances can also help an old room feel new, whether it’s a microwave, a coffee maker or an air conditioner. Even something as simple as rearranging the location of the bed can free up unexpected space and make an old room look like a fresh addition.
New hotels often have more to offer than just rooms. Check what amenities your hotel currently offers and see what extra touches you can provide. Wifi, for example, is something that many hotels offer to lure in guests. Most travelers expect free Wifi somewhere in the building. Offering it to guests for free in their rooms might be the difference between a booking and a lost sale. Pools, while a more intense addition, can grab both tourists looking to splash away with kids and business travelers looking for a place on-site to relax. Before you open a pool, be sure to adhere to pool safety standards.
Consider giving the outside of your hotel a fresh look, too. You’ve already started to make preparations for spring. Many of these small improvements can make a big difference if completed early on. Larger improvements can also give your hotel more of a campus feel. Hotels located in urban areas might look to create rooftop gardens or take advantage of unused spaces and reclaim them for guests. Rural hotels have land to spare, so you can make additions to give your space the homegrown feel of classic Americana.
Streamlining Business Operations & Going Green
Also look for ways to improve efficiency. Usually there are plenty of opportunities for streamlining processes. Preventative maintenance often saves a lot of money. Money spent on weekend service calls and overtime repairs is best spent in other areas of the hotel. Consider reducing housekeeping expenses as well. The trick isn’t to remove services your hotel already provides. Instead, strive to provide those services in smarter, better ways.
A change that benefits many hotels in both the front of house and back of house are ecological initiatives. Going green helps your bottom line. More efficient light bulbs lower energy costs. More efficient washers keep water and heating costs down. Going green also provides many new opportunities to engage with your customers. People want to help the environment. Bringing a green initiative to the public makes guests feel better about staying with you. Making changes to go more green makes your hotel seem more modern and fresh, allowing you to steal one of the main appeals from that new hotel and claim it for your own.
The Court of Public Opinion
If your hotel has been around a while, many guests have certainly enjoyed their stay. Use your reputation to your advantage by reminding guests what they liked about you. Many hotels (big and small) offer loyalty programs for guests who stay with them multiple times during a period of time. If your hotel already has one, it may be time to up the ante a little bit to get guests to come to your place. This is also a chance for you to check how your hotel stacks up on ratings websites and on social media. All it takes is a few minutes to type your hotel into a search engine to see what the web thinks of your place.
If your search results look dismal, don’t take it as all negative. You have customers providing feedback. Use it to your advantage! Take those suggestions to heart and make those improvements first — especially if they’re in the realm of customer service. People post negative opinions all the time when they think nobody is listening, or that what they say doesn’t matter. Showing improvement and engaging with critics can be challenging, but when done right it will encourage even more loyalty because your guest will feel like somebody listened, and better yet: that you cared enough to make a change.
New competition causes anxiety. After the initial wave, take the time to make improvements to stay competitive. Evaluate what you can change in your rooms to make them feel brand new. Consider what amenities you can add to stay competitive. Update what you can outside so it reflects improvements within. Cut costs by getting on a preventative maintenance schedule. Look for places where going green can help both your spreadsheets and your PR. Leverage the positive aspects of your reputation. Work on changing the negative elements of your reputation. Competition is a good thing. It’s even better when you win.