Running a hotel is an adventure and is definitely not an easy ride. Get it right and your career as a hotelier can be highly rewarding. Get it wrong and it’s an awful lot of money to have spent and lost.
Of course, there are different ways to run a hotel, but many hoteliers will tell you there are certain ingredients it takes to really make a success of the venture. Want to hear what they are? Read on. Here’s how to be a successful hotelier:
Choose a good location
The hotel industry may have gone through some changes (and is still doing so), but the location of your hotel is as important as it ever was. You can have the most outstanding service in the world, but if you’ve built your hotel almost in the middle of nowhere, you’re going to fail because you won’t get many guests.
So, think carefully about who you’re going to attract— domestic travellers or international ones? Business travellers or tourists? The situation calls for a bit of research into the travel industry to identify trends and travel habits. Don’t think, either, that your location can serve as an excuse for a difference in service quality. Today, travellers want good service wherever they go.
Have a global outlook
There’s no place for narrow-minded business thinking in the hotel industry. If you’re going to open a hotel and compete purely on price and location, you’ll soon find yourself out of the game. There are a lot of hotels out there and potential guests can choose to visit places all over the world, then decide where to stay after doing a quick bit of research,
Work on the overall experience so you become their first choice (and so that they want to stay at your hotel again if they return to the destination). If it’s a 50-50 between you and a competitor, the hotel that offers (seemingly) the best experience may clinch it. Do some competitor research to see if they are any gaps in your offering and shift the balance further in your favour.
Know and understand every aspect
To be successful in any trade, you’ve got to know the ins and outs of your trade.
Owning and running a hotel is no different.
This is a professional operation you’re setting up and you need to know how each different element of it should run: the kitchen, the rooms, the reception, the financial management, resource management, recruitment… you need to have a handle on all of this (or work with specialists who can help you with this). If not, how can you make all the right decisions to run the hotel efficiently?
Make rooms as comfortable as possible
This is a no-brainer, but you’ll be surprised at the (low) standards of some hotels. Guests want a clean, tidy room with an equally clean, comfortable place to sleep, but some hotels fail miserably at this, as numerous articles on the internet and episodes of Gordon Ramsay’s Hotel Hell indicate. Be willing to spend the extra on the rooms and make them somewhere to which your guests really look forward to returning at the end of their day.
Be passionate and work hard
Passion in business carries you a long way. You’re not going to build and run a successful hotel overnight and it’s passion that keeps you going when the going gets tough. It will also allow you to make the personal sacrifices, such as your spare time, that starting a business requires and drive you to go that extra mile.
You’re going to have to put in some serious elbow grease to make the hotel work. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and muck in to see where things could be going right and wrong in the business and, generally, to learn everything you can about your trade. If you’re not willing to do this, don’t even think about becoming a hotelier.
Communication is crucial. You and your employees are going to face the general public and will have to deal with all sorts of situations, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. Train them to address them effectively with solid communication, which will reduce errors and miscommunications.
Good communication shows that you’re listening to guests and that you understand their problems. Take on board their feedback instead of letting it go in one ear and out the other. If not, they’ll vote with their feet, which means they won’t return (and may also post a bad review online).
Being a ‘people person’ will help. You’re going to come across people from all walks of life and it’s not just a question of always being nice; it’s a question of enjoying being around others and wanting to communicate and engage with them. Guests — and humans, in general — can smell insincerity at 100 paces.
Keep your guests safe
This is huge. The safety and security of your guests is your top priority and if you’re not up to date on all the right measures and precautions and implementing them, the results could be disastrous. Note that you should also be able to stay calm in an emergency so that you can address the matter at hand and put any plans into action for specific situations.
All this means checking regularly that sprinklers and smoke alarms are working correctly. You must also stay on top of the cleanliness of the hotel rooms and the condition of the furniture and other items in them. Safety in the kitchen is especially paramount and you should also be making sure any outdoor swimming pools the hotel has are also up to the required standards.
Allow managers flexibility
Many different situations can arise in a hotel, so you need to give your management team the power to make decisions and deal with the situation. If your policies are inflexible, your manager(s) might not be able to solve the guest’s problem. The result is an angry guest who loses trust in the hotel and isn’t likely to enjoy their stay — and will then go and tell the whole world about their (horrible) experience.
A manager who has the authority to make the right calls can turn the situation around. They can earn the guest’s loyalty and not just preserve the hotel’s reputation for customer service, but also build it further. Support your management team with any training they need and give them the necessary freedom to help run the hotel smoothly.
Understanding these essential ingredients and strategies can put you on the path to being a successful hotelier. It’s a real journey and involves a lot of hard work, but when you get the praise and feedback from your guests, who have had a terrific stay, you know it’s all been worth it. Enjoy the journey!