You’re thinking about joining the hotel industry because you’re great with people, you have previous experience, it’s something you’ve wanted to do since you were little, you love staying in hotels, or you have a boring office job. Just to clear up one reason that won’t get anyone anywhere in the hotel business alone, it’s the people who are after a quick buck.
Becoming a hotel owner is expensive, time-consuming, with a lot of setbacks and a million and one things to do daily. At best, it requires someone who has the patience, drive and willingness to get stuck into every single activity without question. This innate perseverance and passion shall give your business a fighting chance of working. If you haven’t yet thought about why you want to start your own hotel gig, you should – right now! It’s what will keep you going when the going gets tough. Like when you’re down to your last dollar, sleeping in your hotel to save on living costs and time spent travelling, and you’re up until 3am in the morning painting the corridor walls. Your reason may not come quickly, but once it has, you’re ready to begin going through the steps to get your hotel business idea going.
Location, Location, Location
At the top of your priority list, you should be sussing your place to build or buy your hotel. Is it Spain, Mexico, Ireland, Paris or perhaps your home town? Where you choose to set up, is a reliable indicator for determining whether it will be successful or fail.
It may be tempting to build a hotel where you live, but you should second-guess yourself on that idea. Just because you live around the corner and it’s easier for you to get to work, isn’t a good enough reason to buy a hotel close by. If that were the case, people would just be popping up hotels in the most random and undesirable of places with little success (and some people do). Research a few locations and assess their residents, tourist attractions, shopping centres and business sector.
A pretty well-known seaside town may attract families and couples, but the location may already be inundated with a bunch of hotels competing for customer’s attention at rock bottom prices. An up and coming town converting to a city, however, may be cheaper to build in, have less competition, but a lot of people come to the town for leisure and business, making it the perfect spot to launch a hotel business. With a few places in mind, book your train/flight/ferry to each destination and book a hotel for your duration to.
What do all hotel startups need? Money. This is a step you need to secure before you can begin building or bidding on your dream hotel. Whether inheritance money, savings, a business startup loan, or investors, the only way you will attract a large amount of funding if you don’t have it already is by creating a strong business plan. Alongside your business strategy, you should also have a financial forecast indicating when your business will break even. Think about the following expenses and research what they might cost for the location you are aiming to set up your business.
- The Building/hotel/ land deposit and cost of the mortgage
- Accounting and reservation equipment to accept bookings and room requests
- Staff – receptionists, kitchen staff, waiters, electricians, cleaners, maintenance
- Interior design – designers, painters and decorators, materials such as paint, flooring and furniture
- Bed linen and launderette service fee
- Essentials and luxuries for the room – safes, cots ironing boards, TV’s
- Marketing costs – launch party, eCommerce website, print advertising, digital advertising
When you are researching the costs of resources, equipment and furniture for your hotel, always ask for a few quotes to gain the best price and the best value. From the electrical company such as Suncoast energy who will assess the safety of your wiring to the wholesaler you purchase your guest’s food and drinks from, it’s also essential to find the service and supplier that is right for your company.
Once you’ve visited your potential hotel’s location, have you thought about the type of hotel you would like to run? Is it an economical hotel, mid-range or luxurious? In a lot of scenarios, it may be worth considering purchasing a mid-range hotel, particularly in a location swamped by cheap hotels. Use your knowledge of your site, and the existing competitors to gauge what hotel would fit in the current market, and the target audience that shall be prepared to pay your hotel fees.
Existing Hotel Or Brand New
It may be wise as an entrepreneur starting out to purchase an existing hotel. A brand new building shall take a lot of financial backing and research into the local government legislation for planning permission, zoning, and so forth. With a ready-made hotel, you know what you’re getting, and you can gauge whether it has been profitable before.
Staff Training And Customer Service
If there is one thing each and every budding hotel owner should invest in, it’s customer service. From the moment a customer contacts via email or phone to book in, to requests for a different room due to other noisy customers, to the moment they leave your hotel, a welcoming and professional service that operates with integrity should be thread throughout the customers stay.
People like to feel special and that they have received value for their money. Your customers’ experience of their stay shall impact how they reflect on your hotel to their friends and family and whether or not they leave a 5-star review.
To ensure your staff are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to provide an excellent service, training is compulsory. This will ensure your team are on the same page and also enable them to work together as a team.
On the subject of staff, to run a great hotel, the people you employ should be taken care of exceptionally well. From the care they choose to take to leave a hotel room spotless, to the effort they make to resolve a complaint for an unhappy customer. Whether providing opportunities for training, routes to progress into new roles, or praising individuals or the team for how well they have done. A happy group of staff means a better attitude at work and towards their position. Giving them the confidence to take on challenging tasks and the fulfilment that they shall be rewarded for their efforts.
Marketing Your Hotel
Your presentation and reputation on the internet shall be the most significant deciding factor for the success of your business. These are the areas you should pay particular attention to.
- Your hotel brand and image should be consistent and displayed on all directories, plus Google maps online. Visibility across a wide range of sources is critical to show customers that you exist.
- An ecommerce website that is user-friendly, informative and straightforward to use. This is your online hotel stop if you will, for all the details about your accommodation and services. It should express the voice and image of your brand and present professional pictures of your hotel. Here, your customers can book their rooms through your website.
- Social media is one of the most significant influencers in the world, and you should work to use it to your hotel’s advantage. On Instagram and Facebook, you can display pictures, advertise offers (however, be careful not to devalue your hotel), present events and competitions to attract new followers. You may also want to contact social media influencers and take advantage of their following, and offer them a place to stay at your hotel so that they shall take a picture and present your hotel to all of their followers.
- Grand Opening – this is the deadline and opportunity date to launch your hotel to the world. By this point, your hotel should be complete and immaculate. Be selective in terms of who you invite to stay at your hotel or visit the opening. Ideally, you want to invite people who will attract and influence a wider audience. From popular magazine writers, bloggers, celebs, social media influencers and VIPs.
Open Your Hotel To The Public
Following your startup marketing efforts, you can now open your hotel to the public. Providing you’ve met the stages above of forming a compelling business plan and strategy and created a stir about your new business in and around your area, you should begin to receive interest from people wishing to visit and book.
Creating or redesigning a hotels brand and image to attract new customers is challenging. It means leaving your 9 to 5 life behind, as you’ll trade your hours to devote time to a ton of research and apply for a lot of capital. Endless energy, patience, and the ability to try your hand at a multitude of tasks is necessary. Following the steps above is merely a guideline. If you have the opportunity to, you may want to seek hotel experiences to get an idea of what it takes to run a hotel – or perhaps even volunteer. Another option that hasn’t been mentioned above that you could consider is, providing you have enough capital to invest, seek to purchase a franchise hotel. This way, the blueprints of the business, the marketing strategy and the clientele have already been established.
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