The lodging business is more crowded and competitive than ever. While competing amongst themselves, independent hotels must keep an eye on chain hotels, elusive home sharing services, and other competition. Successful independent hotel management is challenging, but not impossible as shown by our client Michael Casper of Private Hotel + Pure Food. In addition to operating his unique, #1 TripAdvisor-rated bed and breakfast, he trains students from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, so we asked him to share a lesson on differentiating in the marketplace. Here are a few tips:
Commitment from hotel leadership
“I work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure my guests have the highest quality experience possible. I also have a part-time staff of four, but my guests can count on me being available throughout their entire stay.”
Great leadership is required for independent hotel success. It’s displayed in various ways, but top leaders are known for “going the extra mile” to stay ahead of competitors and ensure memorable guest experiences. Their drive and commitment help motivate team members and set expectations for performance and hospitality. If operators want to separate their independent hotels from the competition, their leadership skills will be needed to navigate the way.
Dare to be different
“I make sure my guests receive the best of everything. Upon arrival, they’re usually “wowed” by the natural surroundings and the museum-quality pieces that decorate the property. Each room has its own unique character, so every guest has a different experience when staying here.”
Independent hotels are unique and different – traits that guests love and chain hotels envy. Unlike chains, independents have opportunities to be creative in how they operate and serve their guests. Rather than following the lead of competitors, independent hotels should explore taking calculated risks that will help distinguish their brands and enhance guest experiences. Fortune favors the bold, so taking the path less traveled can lead to the success independents desire.
Understand your hotel’s value
“Of course, providing this level of hospitality comes at a cost. I could lower my rates to attract more guests and bring in more revenue, but I enjoy knowing that my guests leave having received a truly unique experience.”
Changing the perception of an independent hotel will likely include increasing rates, which is scary for some operators. However, offering more requires hotels to charge more, so independents must understand the value of their enhanced rooms and services and price them appropriately. When satisfied with their experience, travelers are willing to pay more, so understanding value not only allows independent hotels to capture more revenue, it helps communicate that they’re a cut above the competition.