2014 was a great year for many independent hoteliers across the U.S. The industry’s most important performance metrics, like occupancy, ADR and RevPAR, all continued to trend positively as the year came to an end. And for as successful as 2014 was for owners and operators, hotel performance is expected to be even stronger in 2015. With as much hard work as it took to make last year successful, we want to remind operators to do one important thing in 2015… keep it going!
As operators know all too well, the reality of running a hotel, or any business for that matter, is that after finally reaching certain milestones, it becomes even harder to sustain and build upon that success. This is why it’s critical that, though their core business plan continues to produce results, hoteliers regularly take a fresh look at their operations, challenge the traditional ways of running their property and consider new, innovative ideas. This review process shouldn’t be a once per year exercise, operators should look for ways to improve their business each and every day.
A great first step is examining existing internal items or practices that can provide greater value without increasing costs, such as evaluating contracts for services and utilities. Managers should review their agreements and determine if they are receiving maximum value for their dollars. If the value received is inadequate or costs are too high, look to renegotiate the contract or open it up for bidding. Many hoteliers maintain relationships with their vendors based on familiarity, but if driving more dollars to the bottom line is a serious goal, managers must ultimately do what is best for the hotel.
Moving beyond the property walls, operators must also be in-tune with what their competitors are doing to drive their businesses forward: Are they using online travel agents? Have they recently renovated their guestrooms? Or are they relying on strong brand recognition? This is information hoteliers should know about their competitors if they want to remain competitive locally. If operators don’t have these answers, they must go find the answers. Booking rooms with competitors and experiencing their service and property is the best way to gain first-hand knowledge. Not only will operators better understand how each competitor operates their property, they’ll gain insight they can then take back and implement in their own hotel.
Networking can also be a powerful tool for hoteliers working to keep their momentum moving forward in 2015. It’s a slower and more strategic process, but developing the right relationships can pay great dividends in the future. Attending events sponsored by the local chamber of commerce, travel and tourism board or other business associations puts operators in the company of local business leaders and government officials who have great influence in the community. There’s no telling what will come from cultivating these relationships, but as the saying goes… it’s not always what you know, but who you know.
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