6 Tips for a Winning Influencer Marketing Campaign for Your Hotel

In the last decade, the advertising of hotels and leisure has changed forever. The era of billboard advertising is rapidly coming to an end, and more than 2 billion internet users spend an hour and a half every day on social media, looking at their phones once every 12 minutes. The key to marketing success with ad-block also on the rise is to adapt to changes in consumer buying behavior.

Influencer advertising is rocketing in popularity due to these trends. However, if not done the right way, incorporating influencers into a successful marketing strategy may pose problems. These challenges are discovered at the execution level when assessing influencers, handling collaborations, and managing deliverables and at the operational page when it comes to duties, making deals, and securing complimentary room nights approvals. These can be addressed by owners and operators by educating their teams on how to deal with potential challenges.

1. Create Your Goals

Is your hotel’s goal to promote awareness or direct bookings in a particular market, bolster its Google ranking, or attract interesting content that can be reused on other marketing channels?

Each owner and operator wants to have an occupancy of 100 percent at all times, and ideally a directly booked. Achieving the best, most meaningful audience to the target market of your hotel — on the platforms on which they spend most of their time— is a logical place to start in achieving that goal. More than two-thirds of the time that a person spends on booking trips consists of the processes of thinking and planning. It is therefore essential to capture potential customers early, often before they even know they want to visit a venue, location or property. In “sales-speak,” this is near the beginning of the AIDA (Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action) funnel when regarding direct bookings.

You may also want to promote the property to produce alpha and achieve your IRR (Internal Rate of Return) goals after repositioning properties. Being able to promote your hotel’s rebranding or renovation quickly and cost-effectively helps to speed this up.

2. Set Clear Deliverables

Understand what your hotel needs from any partnerships and find a way to streamline the process.

No matter if RevPAR or EBITDA is your focus, leveraging unsold inventory to create a large, engaged community with the property can make a difference for both in the longer term. What owner or operator does not want great visibility?

3. Develop a Process for Receiving Requests

A process for incoming applications ensures that each application is received and processed in the same way. Consistency is a major thing that a brand can do to earn trust, and everything matters.

Consistency is a major thing that a brand can do to earn trust, and everything matters.

Having a simple online process to which all influencers are referred is the best way to approach it. The form should ask some obvious questions concerning the scale and demographic characteristics of the influencer’s followers, and why they believe they are suitable for your hotel.

This form is important for a few reasons:

  • First, it helps us to snuff out influencers who weren’t willing to fill in a few bits of information for consideration, which helps you avoid time-wasters.
  • Second, all requests go to the same place and can be handled systematically.
  • Third, it ensures that there is positive, professional and consistent interaction with every influencer that reaches out.
  • Finally, it assures that the influencer receives the correct information and makes tracking the entire process easier.

4. Set Aside “Room Off Nights” with Revenue Management

Not only do the most successful hoteliers utilize their unbooked rooms, but they also allocate some inventory as “room-off” so that the occupancy levels of their revenue management system are not affected. Consequently, addressing any potential conflict between key performance indicators (KPIs) for revenue management and KPIs for marketing and PR is also easy.

5. What’s the ROI?

Digital word-of-mouth can easily produce a return-on-investment average of $6 per $1 paid. Hotel owners and operators can receive full monitoring capabilities with the correct approach and remove the uncertainty from influencer relationships. At the minimum, you should be able to calculate new website visitors and record click-through rates

…Remove the uncertainty from influencer relationships

6. Relationship Building

Influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere. This is nothing new, so with that in mind, collaborate with those who are most aligned with your property so that when influencers come back, the hotel can benefit from recall marketing in the future.

The overall message we want to highlight is that it’s necessary to put in place strategies, processes, methods, and agreements to build an influencer marketing campaign that is meaningful, reliable, and creates the right perceptions for your hotel’s brand.

Ultimately, the successful integration of an influencer marketing strategy focuses on a prolonged effort to target an engaged niche audience. Having already shown interest in the brand, the consumers that your hotel targets are key to any efforts towards increasing your online presence through social media.

10 Ways To Increase Your Hotel’s Direct Bookings

When it comes to increasing your hotel’s direct bookings, things can get a little tricky, and there are hundreds of tactics you could try. However, for this article, we are going to go over 10 ideas you should try first.

These are some ideas that some of the top hospitality brands are using around the world to increase the number of travelers booking directly through their hotel.

I realize that increasing your hotel bookings can be somewhat tedious and time-consuming; however, with these tips, perhaps the journey will be slightly easier to handle. At least, that’s my hope. How about we get started, shall we?

Make Your Hotel’s Website More User-Friendly

We live in the digital age of technology. Every year, more and more advanced technologies emerge to provide convenience to our lives. As such, we often need to change and adapt our approach to customers, and that includes how we deliver our services and experiences to our customers.

As such, for our first suggestion to make, we suggest reexamining how your hotel’s website is structured, and perhaps change it to better accommodate mobile and tablet users.

Additionally, not only are people on their phones more frequently than ever before, but they are also on the move. As such, making sure your website is mobile/tablet-friendly is one of the first suggestions I would offer to increase bookings at your hotel.

You should also consider the accessibility of your website. This means your website is designed and developed in such a way that those with disabilities can still use them; easily learning about your hotel, navigating through your site, and, ultimately, booking their stay with you.

Leverage Social Media For Advertisement and Hotel Bookings

Social media is one of the biggest and most lucrative forms of advertisement to have blossomed within the last decade. Even as I write this, millions upon millions of people flock to websites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter every day.

As such, traditional advertising is slowly dying out in terms of profitability and reliability. Why pay thousands, if not millions of dollars for expensive TV ads and booking times when it can be far cheaper to advertise your hotel business through various social media websites.

Why pay thousands, if not millions of dollars for expensive TV ads and booking times when it can be far cheaper to advertise your hotel business through various social media websites.

Not only is social media advertising less expensive, but it offers an easy way for customers to directly interact with your hotel brand through a medium that is most familiar to them. In addition to this, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have massive audiences already built into the platforms, and people are more innately tied to these forms of communication now than ever before.

In my experience, people are willing to talk and interact with companies through social media accounts than any other types of communication because social media has become so user-friendly and simple to use. Because of this, enabling social media users to book directly via sites like Facebook might not be a bad addition to include, as well.

It’s no coincidence that I put this tactic alongside updates to your website; they are almost married to each other. If you can communicate with the modern-day patron through social media platforms, and have a wonderful and easy-to-use website for them to explore, you will certainly increase your direct booking rates.

Test Your Hotel’s Booking Process Yourself

Another idea to help raise your direct booking rates for your hotel is to check and see how smoothly the process is for your website. Test it yourself! Humans like it when things are simple and easy for them to handle; it is why most sites have a one-click purchase option now.

Humans like it when things are simple and easy for them to handle

As such, I know when I want to book a hotel, the last thing I want to see is menus and menus of tabs and rows going to different sites and or parts of the website. I cannot stress how annoying and frustrated I get when it takes me seemingly forever to make my hotel reservations after deciding on what hotel/brand I want to stay at for a trip.

I recommend reevaluating the process in which people have to go through to book their lodgings at your hotel. Maybe count the number of clicks the average customer needs to go through to secure their reservations, and then perhaps find a way to automate or lessen the amount of time it takes to see a reservation confirmation screen.

User Reviews, I Cannot Stress This One Enough, Allow Reviews

As much as we all fear the idea of people leaving a bad review on Yelp and dealing with the hassles of reputation management, it shows a lot about your character and as a company if you allow customers to leave direct reviews on your site. I cannot stress this one enough. That alone can mean a lot to customers.

Additionally, it not only shows a lot on your character if you have a means of letting people leave reviews on your website. It also means you have a direct method of gauging how people are taking to your hotel(s) right on the spot – saving them the time and energy of searching for that on other websites or listings.

Also, by allowing people to leave reviews on your website you have a means of showcasing real positive comments for other customers to see; meaning people visiting your site are more likely to give your business the time of day because they can see that other real people enjoyed staying with you.

Finally, when you allow customers to leave reviews, this opens the door for them to leave valued compliments and criticism that every business needs. That criticism will be important, especially leading into the next section regarding the handling of grievances.

Address and Remove Previous Customers Grievances

Another benefit that can come from on-site user reviews is finding out what it is that they did not like about your hotel, thus not only do they feel validated in letting you know what they may or may not like about your hotel, but it also gives you more concrete information on both them and your business. Just this simple addition can help boost your direct booking rates.

By tackling customers grievances, you help show not only to them but to all of your customers that you are not only willing to hear what they have to say about your business but also directly tend to those problems if necessary. People like to feel like their opinions matter giving them, yes sometimes their ideas can hurt to hear, especially when it comes to your business; but often their views and criticisms may be valid and worth evaluating.

People like to feel like their opinions matter giving them

By having a place where they can air out their grievances, such as a review or comment section, not only can they feel validated in leaving behind often just criticism about their experience at the hotel, they can then feel satisfied when their grievances are handled properly. Moreover, by seeing you handle their negative complaints with your hotel, (whatever that might be), this could encourage them to return for a night or two, maybe even with their friends and family.

At the end of the day, customer feedback is important and necessary. Embrace it, value it, address it, and move forward.

Make Your Hotel Sound and Appear Unique

Another idea I feel I should mention is something that I think every business owner tries to do with their business, and that is making it sound and look unique in comparison to the competitor down the street. This isn’t always easy, especially if you are working in an already over-saturated market. However, there are a number of things you can do to improve your position in the market.

One idea I have to share is to reward your customers for their patronage, perhaps give them discounts on future bookings and services due to their continued support to your place of business. Alternatively, another idea to offer VIP rewards for continued support, like discounts on hotel amenities.

There are ways to reward your customers for their continued support and dedication to your organization. Another idea I have is to allow individuals the luxury of bringing their dogs or cats with them via unique rooms or upscaled cost. Pet owners always appreciate it when hotels allow them to bring their pets with them.

I am positive there are more ways to make your hotel appear unique and offer tremendous value to your customers, so perhaps find those methods out there. Finding and providing those services to your patrons can be a tried-and-true way to increase your direct booking rates.

Focus On What You Can Offer Over Your Competitors

This ties back to the previous section on focusing on what you can offer your customers over your competition. Another way to entice people to spend their holidays at your hotel is via the location and the unique and singular properties it may be privy too over other sites.

For example, are you near a park or heavily trafficked area like a plaza? Then advertise that as a selling point, people like convenience, especially when traveling and on the road. So, if they know, they will be shopping or adventuring in an area, being there as a hotel can be a luxury for them, especially if they are traveling or passing by through parts unknown.

Let people know that after a long day of shopping and adventure that they have a nice cozy hotel room waiting for them not a mile away from them. Alternatively, maybe your hotel was once a historical landmark or site, and it has some artifacts dating back to an era long since past.

In all honesty, it took me a long time to learn why location matters when it comes to starting a business, and this is one of the reasons why. If you have any definite reason to advertise your particular hotel (especially if you are a small brand), then use it, my friends.

Make Sure Your Staff and Employees Are Happy and Content

Okay, the next topic I feel we should discuss is the overall happiness of your employees and why this ties directly into potential bookings for your hotel. Now, I am confident this is one of the first things that managers and business owners have to think about always when running a business, but it would be wrong of me not to make it a section onto itself.

When working in the service industry, especially with hotels, you want to make sure your guests are happy and content, that is how we get those fun five-star ratings on Yelp and other review sites. As such, making sure your staff is actually genuinely happy to be there clocking in those long hours, and not just tapping their foot against the ground trying to wait out the clock.

Additionally, by making sure your employees are happy, this will translate into your patrons being happy as well, mostly due to the fact that they are getting tremendous value from the service of your employees. Moreover, this has many benefits onto itself as we can see.

Furthermore, by allowing the word to spread about your fair treatment of your employees (and their terrific service towards their guests), that can potentially entice guests to book with your hotel as a result. So, it is a win-win situation when it comes to this topic. Your employees are your lifeblood, after all, so treating them right will in return, treat your guests right.

Your employees are your lifeblood.

Ensure Your Hotel’s Website is Easily Found and Relevant

Through all of these additions and suggestions, there are plenty of ways of not only improving your image in the eyes of the public but also improve your chances of increasing your direct booking rates in comparison to your competitors around the state and or country.

Consider hiring an SEO specialist who is capable of understanding the search algorithms of search engines such as Google. Someone who knows the exact methods of getting more people to visit your website.

SEO specialists are the individuals you want when it comes to not only figuring out how your website will work but also provide general tips and tricks on getting people to discover your website, book a room, and then, of course, visit your hotel.

Understand That It Takes Time

As much as we may hate hearing that words “patience” and “determination,” seeing success and growth is not a one-night ordeal. It is not something that will happen immediately, especially when it comes to trying to increase your direct hotel booking rate in comparison to your other competitors.

However, it can happen with time and effort. All I can hope for is that this shortlist has provided some methods to help you achieve your ultimate goals when it comes to your hotel.

Conclusion

With that said, there are countless tactics and approaches you could use to increase your hotel’s direct booking rate. It’s up to you to find out which work best for your property. I hope this short article provided some tips and tricks on growing your hotel’s booking rates, and in return, bring even more lovely patrons to your place of business.

Travel Guide: Autumn in the Ozarks

A friend of mine moved to California last year, and on a recent visit back to Springfield she told me that describing the town to California locals was difficult. “No one really knows what I’m talking about when I tell them how green it is here,” she said, “Or how different and down to earth the culture is.” While visiting, she wanted to do all of her favorite Springfield things, “We have to go to Millsap! Harvest is a must! Winery on Sunday?” But she hated that she was going to miss fall–the changing leaves, the activities, and gatherings, the chill that begins to bite the air–“there’s really nothing like it here,” she said, sighing and setting down the sweater that she’d brought “just in case.”

And it’s true–no matter how much I travel, or how many diverse towns I visit, there’s truly nothing like Springfield. We have the perfect mix of big-city offerings and Midwest charm. Our restaurant scene is competitive and the quality is astonishing for the size of the city. Over the last few years, the farms in and surrounding Springfield have begun offering unique dining opportunities that my friends in larger cities like Tulsa admit sadly that they don’t have access to. “Oklahoma just isn’t doing that yet,” they say, “regardless of the number of farms or diversity in dining options and chefs we have.”

To experience all of Springfield’s best would take months with the changing seasons coming into play. But fall might be the city at her best. We are graced with so many festivals both in the city and within arms reach in neighboring towns, making this season especially festive. Starting early is the key. My suggestion is to choose a weekend in mid to late September or anytime in October and discover autumn in the Ozarks with this 48-hour weekend guide.

Friday:

Arrive around 5 pm and check into Hotel Vandivort in downtown Springfield. Bask in the modern luxury for as long as you’d like, then take a walk (if you’re ready for a longer jaunt) or drive to Mother’s Brewing Company. The brewery has a myriad of different beers on tap that is only available in the tasting room. It’s their brown and imperial ales that really shine once the weather turns to cool instead of hot. Think of flavors of whiskey, raisin, rye, coconut, chocolate, and coffee; all the warm goodness you need to fight that chill in the air. If it’s the fourth Friday of the month, stick around for the once-a-month “Friday Flix” in Mother’s backyard. In that case, there will be food trucks, outside beer stations and either a cult classic or a culturally relevant film.

However, if it’s not the fourth Friday of the month, or you’re feeling like some elevated southern comfort food and jazz, head over to The Hepcat. Only a few blocks from Mother’s, heading east down McDaniel, turning left on Campbell, you will enter Springfield’s new and only jazz bar. The Hepcat is serving items like smoked-fried chicken, pickled shrimp, and twice-fried plantains, blackened shrimp and tomato-bacon gravy with grits, an apricot salad, and fried olives. The bar menu has complex cocktails for those that are looking for mixology at its finest, while at the same time there is a “Cheap Beer” list consisting of long-standing American classics like Hamm’s and Stag for $2.50. Suggestion: order the smoked-fried chicken and one of the cocktails that pique your interest and either see where the night takes you, or head back to your cozy room and crisp white sheets.

Saturday:

Take your time getting up in the morning (this is a mini-vacation anyway) and then head across the street to Gailey’s Breakfast Cafe for a slice of local flavor that will be very obviously popular by the hoards of people that will be waiting both in and outside. But don’t let that deter you; put your name on the list and pour yourself a cup of coffee at the Saturday-and-Sunday-only coffee station and settle in for conversation and delicious aromas. When you’re seated, read over everything, but note the skillet list. The skillets are part of the new menu items that were recently added and I’m in love with the “Big Bite Mike,” a skillet with ham, sausage, bacon, red and green peppers, red onion, mushroom on a bed of skillet potatoes and topped with eggs-your-way and queso.

While you’re taking your time with breakfast, start gathering a plan for which festival you’d like to visit. A few notable options include: 

Cider Days – a festival on Walnut Street in Springfield with arts and crafts vendors, food and beverage vendors and live music and dance performances.

Photos by Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce

Apple Butter Makin’ Days – this is an area favorite located in Mt. Vernon, MO. This is small-town goodness at it’s finest; a parade, craft vendors, an apple pie contest, a car show, live music and you can even stir the apple butter pot yourself. Mt. Vernon is a 43-minute drive west on 44. But if you want to really get into the spirit of a small-town adventure, take historic Route 66 west to Halltown and continue west on 96 until 39 where you’ll go south and land right in the heart of Mt. Vernon.

Glade Top Trail Flaming Fall Revue – this event takes place in Ava, MO in Mark Twain National Forest. Ava is an hour’s drive southeast of town with scenic, winding roads the entire way. At the festival expect food, music, a dessert auction, pumpkin and face painting and craft vendors. Once the festival comes to a close make sure to explore the National Forest while you’re in the area.

Once you’re back in town, check out Chicago Cheesesteak Company, a few doors down from the hotel. It’s a tiny hole in the wall and you won’t be disappointed. My favorite is the “Halle(peno) Berry” which comes with chicken or steak (choose steak), mozzarella, fresh grilled jalapenos, cream cheese and grape jelly. The fries are double-fried so they have that nice brown-ness and flavor that’s a rare find. If you’re looking for something to wash it down, head back to the hotel. The Order in Hotel Vandivort has an ever-changing cocktail list and an excellent wine and beer selection with many local breweries featured on tap. Enjoy yourself and then up to bed you go.

Sunday:

I suggest brunch in the Order for both deliciousness and convenience. Notable favorites are the “Circle B Overload” with Circle B Ranch bacon and sausage, bell pepper, onion, sweet potato fries, pepper jack, and chorizo gravy, or on the sweeter side the “Coffee and Salt Waffle Bowl” with a torn waffle, Askinosie cocoa powder, Coffee Ethic maple syrup, and house-made Scotch salt.

Once you’ve eaten and had your caffeine fix, grab your bags and let’s go on the last adventure of the weekend. Head north on Glenstone and into the country. You’ll veer slightly east on Highway KK, and then make an almost immediate right to stay on KK, you’ll then turn right again on Farm Road 171, and voila, there you are at Tyler Ridge Vineyard Winery. This is the only winery in the area that actually harvests its own grapes into wine. The vineyard is right there on property with all of the best Missouri grapes. You’re welcome to stroll through the rows and pick and eat the grapes you find. My favorite wines are the Vignoles–a semi-sweet white with a unique floral and citrus flavors–and the “Hickory Barren”–made with Chambourcin, a red grape, but then fermented like white wine, with the skin peeled. Because of the skin being peeled, this wine is pink and tastes faintly like a full-bodied red and luscious like a white sweet wine. Stay awhile and talk to the owners, Mike and Kathy, they’re kind and treat everyone that comes in like they’re family. They’ll likely want to know what you do and where you’re from and by the end, you’ll be long lost friends. The wine is outstanding, but the experience is heart-warming.

And bon voyage, you’re off to your next journey. Until next time, I hope that the colorful leaves, small-town country drives, and excellent food and drink have left you warm and merry. Visit our town again soon, and look for other itineraries and suggested trips right here in the future.


This article was written by Meredith Tatum, Author, and Co-Owner of Vibrant Space.

How to Calculate Room Cost – Hotel Revenue Management Tips

This article goes into detail about how to calculate room cost, and what that can mean for your hotel. For those who would prefer to watch, I’ve also created a video on this topic which you can watch below.

Finding the Right Number

Someone walks up to your hotel counter at 11:59 pm and says “You have 10 unoccupied rooms that are going to sit empty, and I need a place to stay. Here’s $20. It’s $20 more in the cash register that wasn’t there before.” Do you take it?

For successful revenue management for hotels, knowing how much it costs to put someone in a room is an important first step.

Knowing this number will let you know how low you can go when changing rates throughout the year. Restaurateurs will be familiar with this concept because they have to “plate food” or calculate how much each part of a given dish costs, then use that information to calculate how much to charge the guest.

Figuring how much it costs to rent out a room is a little bit of a tricky question because there are two answers. I’m going to explain both of the costs, the differences between them, and I’ll show you step-by-step how to calculate these for your property.

Incremental Cost

The first cost is called “incremental cost”. It doesn’t matter that you remember the name of this cost (you can even make up a name that helps you remember it), it’s just important that you understand the concept.

Remember our late-night guest standing at the counter offering us $20? If we reject his offer and leave a hotel room empty, we incur no additional incremental cost. Why? Incremental cost answers the question “What is used up if I rent a room to someone?”

Imagine this: the hotel owner’s family member has a house fire, so he lets them stay at the property for one night for free. It’s not free for the hotelier to let them stay there. He will incur additional costs. Those costs are the incremental costs. What will those guests “use up”?

Here’s a quick brainstorm list that you can add to:

  • Electricity (lights, TV, charging cell phones, AC/heat)
  • Water (washing hands, brushing teeth, showers, flushing toilets)
  • Wear & Tear (walking on carpet, sleeping on the bed, turning doorknobs, using lightbulbs)
  • Breakfast
  • Housekeeping (room must be cleaned after they leave, cleaning supplies used)
  • Laundry (sheets, towels)

Some people won’t include wear and tear, but then I give them this example: if a mattress costs $1,000 and is rated up to 1,000 nights before it needs to be replaced, then each night someone sleeps on that mattress they use up $1 of the lifetime value of that mattress. Although difficult to track this same scenario is playing itself out as guests sit in your chairs and walk on your carpet.

To calculate the incremental cost, look at your expenses from your P&L (Profit and Loss Statement) for the previous calendar year for the categories we mentioned above. Take that number and divide it by the number of room nights sold for the year and this will be your incremental cost to put someone in a room. (Spoiler alert: it’s usually about $20.)

Example: A hotel’s expenses for these categories is $200,000 and they sold 10,000 room nights last year. $200,000 ÷ 10,000 room nights = $20 incremental cost.

So, do we sell the late-night guest a room for $20?

Really, it’s just a waste of time to let him stay because you’re just spinning your wheels, not making any profit. You’re also training your customers to not pay the going rate for your property and to just wait until the last minute and give you a low offer.

On the other hand, it will put an additional $20 of revenue on the books. So if you’re getting ready to sell you want to have as much revenue on the books as possible (even if it’s not profit), because banks and buyers really like that.

Also, if it’s a slow time, taking that additional booking will give your housekeepers an additional room to clean.

So again… do you book the room? A revenue manager’s favorite answer is “Depends!” Feel free to reach out to me and let me know what you’d do.

Burdened Cost

We’re not done yet. The incremental cost is only half of the story. I’d like to introduce you to “burdened cost”.

Again, I don’t care if you remember the exact name for this (there isn’t going to be a test later). Call it whatever you want as long as you understand the principle. This cost is a full or complete, all-in cost. It is “burdened” with all of the costs a property incurs.

We’ve already addressed the day-to-day costs associated with what guests use up with the incremental cost. If you’re reading this, you’re likely a manager, front desk or office worker and I want to make sure you get paid. That’s where this cost comes in.

Burdened costs are costs that you have to pay whether you sell 1 room or 100 rooms.

You’re going to pay the maintenance worker to go check and adjust the pool levels every morning regardless of occupancy. You’re going to pay a Night Auditor to be at the front desk all night watching Netflix…I mean running end of day reports regardless of the number of rooms sold. With an incremental cost of $20, that means anything we take over that goes to help offset these constant costs. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s stop and make a brainstorm list of burdened costs:

  • Staff (maintenance, front desk, management, breakfast attendant)
  • Mortgage
  • Insurance
  • Internet
  • Parking lot repair
  • New towels
  • Cable TV (Example: $10 per room per month regardless of occupancy)
  • Marketing
  • Trade shows
  • Chamber of Commerce membership

There could also be major costs such as all new furniture for all of the rooms that you might want to take an extra step with. If you expect that furniture to last 10 years, then you could divide that cost by 10. Use just a tenth of that cost in your burdened calculation to help keep from skewing the number. Just do this for major purchases like furniture, mattresses, and carpet.

To calculate the burdened cost look at your P&L again and at the bottom will be a list of total expenses.

Let’s use a number of $400,000. Take that number and divide it by the total number of rooms sold (this will be the same number you used for the incremental cost). Let’s use 10,000 room nights. $400,000 ÷ 10,000 room nights = $40. In America for a basic hotel usually the incremental cost is about $20 and the burdened cost is about $40. If you’re in a big city, or higher-end property these numbers, of course, will be higher.

So, what does this $40 number mean? If you are not consistently getting over $40 a night for your rooms, then you will soon be out of business!

Now, as we already mentioned you can dip below $40 for a short amount of time if it’s part of an overall strategy. Maybe January is a very slow month for your property, so you go to $30 on Sundays. This is $10 more than your $20 incremental cost meaning you can take the $10 you “profit” and use that to help offset your burdened costs like managers’ salaries.

You also might do this because you want to give your housekeepers a few more rooms to clean for the week and because it will help bring down the ADR (Average Daily Rate) for guests who are looking for longer LOS (Length of Stay).

A Word of Caution…

A word of caution when flirting with ultra-low rates even if it’s just for a short amount of time and as part of an overall strategy: there is a rate that is low enough that it starts to attract trouble. When I’ve run experiments of “how low can we go” at the properties I work with, we’ve found that number to be about $45.

Below that rate is when you start getting frequent visits from the cops and have lots of complaints of unruly guests. Suddenly those few extra dollars just aren’t worth it.

Conclusion

The first step in successful revenue management is knowing how much it costs to put someone in a room. The basic cost that guests use up by being on your property is the incremental cost, and for a budget hotel in America is often about $20. The big-picture, all-in cost that matters at the end of the year is the burdened cost and is usually about $40.

The biggest revenue management mistake that hoteliers make is not raising their rates high enough during times of high demand. You can read more about that and other top-six revenue management mistakes that hoteliers make by clicking here.

On the other end of that spectrum, you need to be competitive during times of low demand.

Going too low can cause you to get frequent visits from the cops and soon go out of business, but finding that sweet spot where you’re competitive and beating your competition on the rate is an effective strategy to steal market share.

Follow the process to figure both your incremental and burdened room cost and use those numbers to start your journey to successful revenue —-management.

——

Chris Hunter operates HotelRevenueMan.com and is a preferred partner and content contributor for Longitude Branding.

Earn More 5-Star Reviews with These 8 Reputation Management Tips

There’s no doubt that managing your online reputation and reviews is important, but just how important is it?

Check out some of these statistics from a study conducted by BrightLocal:

  • 93% of people will look at your reviews to determine if you’re a good or bad place to visit.
  • 91% of people age 18-34 years old, trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from friends or family.
  • On average, people will read 10 reviews before feeling like they can trust your business.

Online reviews are super important! So, what can we do to make sure every customer walks away feeling like they had a five-star experience?

Below are some tips to help you earn more 5-star reviews, and be better equipped to manage your reputation.

1. Know When to Correctly Ask for A Review

Do not simply ask customers to leave you positive reviews. To do this would be too forward and demanding. Yet, you certainly do get more reviews when you politely ask for them.

So how can you ask for a review from customers in a way that will be encouraging, instead of desperate? The last thing you’d want is to appear too pushy. Not only that, but this type of behavior is frowned upon by sites such as Yelp.

So here’s an easy way to do it.

When you speak with customers after a stay, a meal or a purchase, consider politely asking for reviews from those of your patrons who had great experiences with your establishment. You can ask them for reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor – which are the top 4 review sites that every restaurant or hotel should monitor.

If you have their email address, you can also email them after their stay with a link directly to your company’s site, making it easier for them to leave a review. You can even use programs like Podium to automatically help customers post positive ratings on social media platforms.

2. Know How to Manage Your Online Listings

The best thing to do is to follow five easy rules to manage your online reviews. You will want to always make sure you are acting quickly and with a sense of compassion when it comes to managing these reviews.

Firstly, know how to answer back.

Use the proper tone and words for the situation at hand. Do not fight back with a customer over a bad review.

Rather, you can try to spin it in a positive way. Offer a solution.

Even simply acknowledging the situation can sometimes be enough.

Second, make sure you write back fast.

This is the age of now. Bad reviews can go around like the plague, so handle it quickly.

A fast response shows that you really care about the customer, too.

Third, make sure you know about social marketing.

These days, over 90% of buying decisions are influenced by social media.

You must know how to connect with your followers and your reviewers. Offer them something in return for leaving a review. This generates positive feedback for you and demonstrates loyalty to the followers.

Fourth, stay current.

Keep reviews fresh and up to date.

This lends credibility to your online presence and has an impact on your sales conversions, too.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Effective reputation management can sometimes be a lot of work and require a significant amount of time. But it’s important.

Many restaurants will hire an agency to help take some of that burden of their shoulds to manage their reputation, and that is often a good choice for them.

Also, there are plenty of reputation management tools and services can be very helpful. For instance, you can be notified when a negative review is posted thanks to various programs and applications, some of which are tailored to your business.

We’ve seen them utilized by all types of hospitality brands.

3. Make Sure Your Guest Experience is Worth 5 Stars

There are many things you can do to make sure your guests have a five-star experience. You may not be running the Ritz-Carlton, but you can absolutely treat your guests like they are the most valued clientele ever.

The best things you can do for your customers is to ensure they have a great experience by…

Being Attentive and Responsive to them.

Keep true to the norms of your platform. 24-hour response time is acceptable for email, but 24 hours on social media is a no-no. The ability to respond in minutes is ideal and demonstrates a great online presence, plus care about your clients’ needs.

Knowing Ahead of Time What Their Needs Are.

You are the expert in your field-flex that muscle and show them you know your stuff! You might even offer a deal on that particular part or service as a means to get them to come back to you when the time comes.

Being Honest and Transparent.

Honesty is the best policy, and it is true more than ever when it comes to your establishment.

This is the age of the internet where people of all walks of life share stories and experiences. Lying about something would only tarnish your reputation- so just be honest from the get-go.

Actively Being Involved in Solving the Conflict

Taking responsibility and solving the problem yourself is a huge win. Pawning it off onto someone else looks sloppy and delays conflict resolution. Once you have figured a solution, follow up with your client and verify that needs are met or better yet, exceeded!

Being Ready, and Happy, To Help Your Customers

A positive attitude works wonders for customers. Smile! Act like they are the only customers you have helped today.

4. Be Active Online

Make sure that you are active on all of your social media profiles.

In this manner, people are more likely to come to you if they have a problem instead of going directly to a review website.

Just an email is not enough. Even if it is plainly listed, many people think twice about contacting in this method. The way to work around this is relatively easy: have an online presence.

Make sure you put a face to the name and utilize social media. Write about your establishment in blog posts, post on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure you have an “About Us” page that is current.

Lastly, be sure all your contact information is clearly listed, and you include turnaround time for when you will contact your client back.

5. Make Sure You Apologize

Apologizing is the name of the game in some situations when it comes to having a small business, or a large one, for that matter.

But knowing when to do so is important, too. Be sure that you are keeping a close eye on what people are posting. No matter how great their stay was or how easy it is to reach your team, there are bound to be a few negative words posted.

Many customers who have had an experience that was less than savory really just want their situation to be acknowledged. They may want to speak with you directly, or they may have posted an online review.

In any case, you should always apologize whether the problem is real or perceived. You can say that you are sorry the experience was not up to par, and that you hope the next one is much better for them.

The best thing, of course, is to use the right words and tone, and always be sincere when you say your apology.

6. Amplify Your Positive Reviews on Social Media

Sometimes we become too “enamored” or wrapped up in responding to those who have left us negative reviews. This is certainly important as we want to make sure we can fix the problem and get them to come back for another chance.

However, you should take pride in your positive reviews just as much. You can and should absolutely share the positive feedback you get on your blog or social media profiles.

After all, we discussed earlier how much of a role social media plays in consumers’ buying decisions. Why not create a positive image for yourself using real reviews from happy clients?

7. Be Easy to Reach

I cannot stress enough how important it is that your contact information is up to date and gets customers to an employee that can help them solve any issues.

Having an email address with a turnaround time for responses listed, a phone number where a human being can be reached, as well as a social media account that is active and thriving are all ways consumers can easily reach you.

The important thing is to make sure your clientele know that they can easily and directly reach you in the event they encounter any problems with their purchase or service.

8. Change Things Based Upon Feedback

Customers always have ideas and suggestions about how things can be improved. Some are actually good ideas, others are not. It is still very important that you read through them, however.

You might see some common themes or trends emerge that could be worth acting upon.

For instance, if you note that several customers had issues with your payment vendor, it may be time to contract with a new one. If several clients noted that a particular server brought them the wrong order, consider coaching or retraining that server or finding them a better job fit.

When you make big or small changes based upon customer feedback, this shows you really care what they have to say and makes a big impact on the experience for customers in the present and future.

Conclusion

So, what are your ideas for creating a guest experience like no other? I’d love to know your thoughts. Feel free to send me an email at jeremy@longitudebranding.com

Also, if you found this article helpful, we’d appreciate if you could share this with your network. Thanks!

6 Biggest Revenue Management Mistakes That Hotels Make

Operating a hotel is no easy task; managing staff and schedules, staying on top of the latest technology and trends, keeping up with maintenance and renovations; not to mention ensuring your guests are happy and working long irregular hours. It’s a lot.

One of the most challenging aspects of running a hotel is revenue management. Hotel revenue management is something that often confuses or overwhelms people, and for many hoteliers, it’s something they don’t even attempt. However, even some small adjustments can go a long way.

In this article, we get a glimpse into the world of hotel revenue management by one of the best revenue management experts out there, Mr. Chris Hunter of hotelrevenueman.com.

Chris began his career in tourism and has years of hotel management experience under his belt. Throughout that time, he developed a system to help hoteliers find the demand curve for any property – allowing them to know when to raise or lower rates. With his special focus in the hospitality industry, his clients are regularly seeing increased annual profits of upwards of 30% using his hotel revenue management strategies.

Chris is also one of our hotel consulting partners. So lucky for us, this means we’re able to pick his brain and share his knowledge with you. Here’s Chris’ list of the Top 6 Biggest Revenue Management Mistakes That Hotels Make. We hope you enjoy.

6. They Don’t Even Try

“Not changing your rates daily based on demand is a big mistake and I’ll show you why.

There’s a hotel in one of my client’s cities that has the same rate everyday: $63. During the week this is too high which causes guests to stay elsewhere. During the weekend it’s too cheap which causes them to sell out quickly. It feels good to be sold out a week ahead of time, but they could raise their rate to $80 and still sell out. They’re leaving $17 per room on the table and for a hundred room hotel that’s $1,700 a day and $3,400 per weekend. Multiply that by the 13 weeks of summer and they’re missing out on tens of thousands of dollars!”

5. They Sell Out Before the Day of Arrival

“In theory, perfect revenue management works like this: you sell your last room at 11:59 pm on the day of arrival. In reality, you want to have at least a handful of rooms to sell throughout the day of arrival.

The demand curve continually increases with the day of arrival having the highest demand and commanding the highest rate. If you sell out before the day of highest demand it means that your rooms were too cheap and you left money on the table.”

4. They Price All of Their Rooms the Same

“One of my clients reached out to me asking me to help him increase revenue at his property. He had a two story, horseshoe-shaped property with exterior entrances to the rooms and no elevator. At the center of the property was a pool and on the outside was a parking lot. He told me that everyone wants to stay on the poolside.

I asked him how much more it costs to stay on that side, and he told me all the rooms are priced the same.

I assumed people preferred the ground floor so they could skip the stair climb and told me I was right. I told him to take his current rate and make that his discount rate, then build from there. Add $5 for poolside and $5 for the ground floor. So, a ground level (+$5), poolside (+$5) room will cost $10 more per night than an upstairs, parking lot view room. This property instantly found revenue they had been leaving on the table.”

3. They Don’t Go Low Enough During Times of Low-Demand

“Typically, in a tourism destination, Sunday is the biggest checkout day of the week leaving Sunday night with the lowest demand.

Each day of the week the demand slightly increases to the weekend (Friday/Saturday night). With demand being low during the beginning of the week and the city being full of rooms to sell, leaving your rates as high as they were during the weekend is a mistake.

I figured this out, lowered rates for my clients during times of low demand and stole market share. One of the OTAs (Online Travel Agencies or websites that resell hotel rooms like Booking.com or Expedia) reached out to me at the end of a season and told me that in one of my client’s markets only one other hotelier figured this out.”

2. They Don’t Look Far Enough Into the Future

“The majority of hotel bookings come two weeks prior to arrival. If you only get the last two weeks right your property will still probably do pretty well.

But, if you look further into the future you will be able to spot potential problems and fix them before they cost you thousands of dollars. Right now I help my clients manage about a month out, but I also take the opportunity to quickly scan data for three months out.

Recently I saw that one of my clients had a holiday weekend about three months out priced too low and I encouraged him to increase the rate by 50% to an appropriate rate. A few guests who were planning that far ahead found that deal and had already booked rooms, but that was much better than having half of the hotel sold at a discount rate.

Concentrate the majority of your efforts on the approaching week, two weeks and month, but don’t forget to at least glance into the future to see if anything stands out as being a possible issue.”

1. They Don’t Go High Enough During Times of High Demand

“This is EASILY the biggest mistake I see hoteliers make.

Right now stop reading this, open google docs, and type out the 10 busiest times of the year in your market.

I’ll give you a head start: Holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day, summer weekends, special events like the annual car show or strawberry festival.

Now, look at your list. Your rooms are not priced high enough during those times.

Look at last year’s occupancy. Every day that your property was 100% occupied (or really close like 95%) is a time where you could have gotten more money for your rooms.

I had an out of state client that had been on Hotel Impossible. A year later he found my revenue management videos on youtube and asked if I could help him. He had bad reviews and no money to fix issues. I taught him this principle and asked him for the dates where demand was so high that it was likely that the entire city would sell out.

I then taught his GM my system for tracking demand. We ended up raising rates to almost double the previous year’s rates during those times of high demand. His busiest month saw a revenue increase of 47.2%, his busiest quarter was up $171,000, and his revenue increased 24% for the whole year.

Raising rates feels scary, but I want to challenge you to at least start taking baby steps even if that means raising only $5. When you see that work, then look at the next time of high demand and try $10. Each time it works successfully you’ll gain the courage you need to make bigger, necessary adjustments in the future.”

In Closing

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the knowledge that Chris has regarding revenue management. And as you can see, revenue management is something that could be a game changer for your hotel. The potential upside is huge, and the amount of risk is low. But, you’ll likely need some help along the way.

Bottom line… the successful implementation of revenue management strategies for your hotel could help you experience more predictability and profitability.

A Room with A Bed Isn’t Enough- 8 Ways to Future Proof Your Independent Boutique Hotel

As an independent hotelier, you are always looking for ways to provide the best in service to your guests. You want to give them the best experience so that they come back to you when they require your services again, and the way to build loyalty and a great hotel brand.

Largely, customers are seeking a personalized experience, and they definitely want to remain connected from the booking process all the way to check out. Trends like mobile check-in and checkout are growing in popularity, and Wi-Fi remains a most-wanted amenity for guests of all ages.

Here are eight ways you can make your brand the greatest and get your customers coming back for more great stays.

1. Get Super Connected

In the old days, you would pick up that phone that sat on the little desk in between the beds, and you would call the front desk for help with whatever you needed. Or, you’d call the designated number for concierge, and get the help that way.

However, if your hotel has an app, consider taking a cue from Marriott and Hilton. They have the ability for consumers to complete the check-in process right from their smartphones, get into their room using a mobile key, and send out text messages with queries and requests to hotel staff members.

Connectivity is certainly growing as a standard by which hotels are measured. And of course, be sure that your rooms are equipped to handle the changing needs of today’s device-carrying travelers: some hotels even feature charging ports that are a welcome sight to those who may have left theirs on the plane.

2. Emphasize the Wi-Fi

Business travelers are getting work done. Digital nomads are meeting guidelines. Families with kids need the tablet for entertainment. The faster, the better!

The faster you can make your Wi-Fi, the better. Some customers are willing to pay an upcharge for higher speed, but this may be off-putting to some.

In the same vein, provide plenty of power outlets so that devices can be plugged in and charged with ease. Every member of the family has at least a smartphone-so be sure you are prepared.

3. Put A Focus on Local Fun

One way to really improve hotel guest experience is to help travelers experience the city like a true local. With the advent of Airbnb, this is now more important than ever. One huge example is the Unforgettable Experience packages that the Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria offers.

These include destination-specific activities right in the room rate. One such experience situated in Dubai includes dinner and a camel ride for two people. While you certainly do not have to provide camel rides, consider ways you can appeal to your guests by integrating local activities.

You might offer a rate that includes passes to a local attraction, or a dinner voucher for a favorite local restaurant, for instance. Experiences are now more important than ever to consumers, especially millennials, who currently hold them in higher value than “stuff.”

4. Improve Brand Experience by Making Training an Everyday Occurrence

There is no doubt that your staff already puts in 110% when completing their daily duties, and everyone from the GM to the housekeepers to the landscapers does their best. But there are some great ways that you can combine traditional training methods with technology to ensure that every agent and employee is up to speed.

For instance, suppose you have implemented a new Property Management System. Be sure that you are taking advantage of all methods available to teach and train employees. Have them take part in classroom training exercises, complete e-learning, or use an application that monitors your employees’ actions while they work so you can guide them as they learn the system.

Make a concerted effort to have every employee trained on new procedures, technology, and rules. Customers having to wait in line while an employee fumbles around is unacceptable and leaves everyone frustrated.

A well trained and informed staff will resonate soundly with guests. Your brand becomes synonymous with excellence.

5. Provide Personalized Customer Service

A hallmark of your brand can easily be personalized customer service. In a world where we are becoming more and more connected in the digital sense instead of the personal sense, it has become critical to treat your guests like they are the only ones in the entire hotel.

Not all guests should get the same treatment, and excellence is measured in different ways from guest to guest. Some want a speedy check-in; others like to stop and chat with you. Do your best to learn your customers’ name and greet them as such.

Demonstrate an eagerness to help. Remember the guests’ preferences. And be sure you and your employees are able to offer solid information about the local area such as good places to dine or interesting local activities.

Though your brand may not be as large as national chains, you can still treat guests like VIPs. Be sure your staff is trained to be attentive and treat everybody with the utmost of care, regardless of who they are. Guests leave reviews everywhere now: Google, Yelp and more-so when they feel special and cared for, others will know and book with you.

6. Make Booking Easy

You can do simple things that will hugely improve on your booking process and deliver guests the fast and easy experience they desire. Make the calendar part of your process easy by filling out the check-in and checkout boxes with today’s date, plus one day.

Lots of hotels have blank calendar fields and filling it in helps the user get one step closer to whatever dates they need.

You can include a progress measurement for the booking progress. People like to know how long a task will take before they can move onto the next thing, and a progress bar, steps till completion or other measurement method helps consumers move along and stay encouraged to finish the process.

Be sure your process does not ask consumers to log in or create an account unless they will be rewarded in some way (points, etc.). This just annoys the user with more tasks all for marketing reasons, not a great experience.

Every hotel is different, but at the minimum, just ask for full name, email, and phone number. You might also include special requests and time of arrival fields, too. Be sure that your website also offers security credentials, too-it’s peace of mind for users.

7. Guest Engagement

This ties into making guests feel like they are the only ones present in your hotel at any given moment. Guests that are disengaged are not as likely to return to a property and will more than likely discuss their experience online using any number of popular review sites.

Millennials are less likely to be engaged, says Gallup, but the silver lining is that guests who are engaged are less sensitive to price whether they demand luxury experiences or an economical stay. Therefore, guests that have an emotional attachment to a hotel are more likely to book at that property, regardless of budget.

You can encourage engagement by doing some easy things: Encourage them to provide feedback, and of course, treat them as the unique and varied individuals they are. Even though guests are there for different needs and experiences, they all desire great customer service that is delivered with a strong personal touch. Be sure you go over expectations with your staff to ensure the highest satisfaction among guests.

8. Provide Guests the Amenities They Want

There are amenities that customers really like, and then there are ones they can do without. Providing the right mix of amenities that add value to your guests’ stay is critical in making an impact. Consider changing the following:

  • Room Service-Customers are yearning more for good, strong Wi-Fi or a gym. Combine this with the desire to eat local cuisine and experience what the locals do, room service is desired less and less.
  • Valet-Many travelers, even those who stay at luxury hotels, prefer to park their own car.
  • Slippers and robes-Many guests prefer to just wear their own clothes and would not mind if hotels nixed the bathrobes.
  • Mini-bar-The mini bar is often expensive, and travelers do not want to pay the price. Plus, it is expensive to stock these.

Final Thoughts

Your independent boutique property can speak volumes for itself when you provide customers what they seek, which is a personalized, engaging experience, a connected stay at your hotel, bridges to the local cuisine, activities, and establishments, and of course an easy process from start to finish.

By integrating as much helpful technology as you can, and keeping staff trained to be attentive and friendly to your customers’ needs, you will surely notice more repeat business and your hotel will be established as a modern and beautiful place to stay for business, travel, or anything in between.

Save Money on Marketing Your Independent Boutique Hotel with a Great Brand

As a boutique or independently owned hotel owner, you want to effectively market your brand. However, getting a strong return on investment (ROI) may be a challenge. For example, many independent, boutique hotel owners and managers are spending upwards of a $1000 a month on marketing. What they typically lack, though, is measurable results from their marketing spend. This lack of return can typically be pointed back to a poor or non-existent brand strategy. In this article you will learn some ways that a brand strategy and better visual identity can affect your marketing efforts for the good and create measurable returns on investment.

There are several ways how having a strong brand strategy and visual identity can greatly enhance and improve a hotel’s marketing efforts. Below are the four most effective strategies.

  • Develop a Strong Market Position
  • Understand Your Guests Needs/Decision-making
  • Have a Well-Crafted Message that Resonates with Guests
  • Create Better Brand Identity to Drive More Valuable Customer Perceptions

Building a great brand by implementing these four strategies can save your hotel from the effects of wasted marketing dollars. Great brands are contagious and the consumers start becoming brand ambassadors. However, getting to that point requires dedication to a clear strategy outlined in these four steps. As you execute on these strategies you will start creating better ROI from your marketing efforts. Helping your guests become evangelists for your brand becomes the end goal with the right strategy in place.

Develop a Strong Market Position

A market position is defined as the consumers’ perception of your brand in relation to other hotel options in your region. As an independently owned boutique hotel, your resources are very likely limited when it comes to marketing and branding expertise. However, that does not limit you on your ability to develop a strong market position.

Some of the steps any boutique hotel owner can take to develop such a position are:

  • Create a position statement – what do you stand for and why does it matter?
  • Identify how your position statement stands out against your competitors. What other offerings do consumers have when they come to your geographical location?
  • Create an outline of where your brand fits in the midst of all of the competition. This might look like a market position map of sorts.
  • What are the conditions of the marketplace? Is tourism up/down? What are guests looking for? Do you offer something unique that they cannot get anywhere else in the region?
  • How is your independent boutique hotel unique? A strong market position requires a clear differentiator. Something more than just a bed to sleep on.
  • Consider hiring a third party to provide some qualitative and quantitative testing of your market position. Will it hold up? Is it accurate?

Understand Your Guests’ Needs a Decision-making Process

Your brand identity and marketing message should align with your guest needs and be communicated through channels they use in their decision-making process. By understanding your guests, you can communicate clearly with them the way they want to be contacted. For example, maybe your guests are more advanced in age and are not on Instagram. Those dollars once spent to attract guests can be used where your customer is, in this case maybe the dollars are better spent on newspaper or radio? Once you have a clear market position, communication becomes the next most important thing. Rather than cast big nets to draw in guests, you can focus your efforts getting much more return for every dollar spent. Meet the customer where they are at. Know them and know their process for making a decision when it comes to lodging in your town.

Have a Well-Crafted Message that Resonates with Guests

When it comes to marketing, getting the message right is critical. There are examples over and over again where the brand message significantly increases the consumer perception of value. For example, big hotel brands use things like a robust reward program to drive engagement for frequent travelers. In fact, just recently Marriott merged loyalty programs of Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards for exactly that purpose. The benefits for frequent travelers in their program are things like…executive lounges with gourmet snacks and drinks. What message resonates with your guests? What matters to them? Craft a clear message that reminds guests why boutique is unique.

Create Better Brand Identity to Drive More Valuable Customer Perceptions

Brand identity is defined as the image which is connected to your independent hotel’s brand culture. It typically includes a logo, typography, fonts, colors, positioning, white space, and strategy. A better brand identity improves customer perception. However, it is important that any change is executed right. You must be careful to build the image that drives perception of value. While there are several examples where building a brand identify have failed according to the brand and marketing community, most brands only fail if they don’t deliver increased perception of value to their buyer. The image should be designed to reflect your customer. Apple, Google, and Amazon are three companies that are good at building brand images and experiences that resonate with their customers.

In summary having a good strategy and solid brand identity helps guests connect with your independently owned boutique hotel. When they are connected to your brand’s position you turn guests into raving fans. They create a sense of need for the experience they had with your brand. Guests remember amazing experiences and associate brand image with that experience for good or for bad. Experience is important.

When guests are in love with your hotel experience and the brand image is strong, over time they will stand up and fight for your brand when needed. There are examples where boutique hotels were rebuilt after a disaster like a fire or a flood. While the hotel owners didn’t always want to rebuild, those that did were driven by their guests. When you have guests, who stand up for what your market position is, you have a powerful way to increase sold-out nights, price per night which result in increased revenue and profits. You must remember that guests want an experience… not just a bed to sleep in when it comes to going boutique.

What is your guest experience like?

 


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An Independent Hotel Brand Built to Last Through Any Economy

Challenges Independent Hotels Face

It should certainly come as no surprise that independently owned hotels face many hurdles that chain hotels (commonly referred to as branded hotels) do not have to worry about. For this reason, it’s important to understand the pitfalls and risks associated with independently owned hotels, and how to combat them with a strategic vision and game plan.

These challenges are intensified during times of economic recession. Independent hotels don’t have the luxury of relying on a large brand name to help them cut costs during a changing economy. In fact, in a study conducted by John W. O’Neill and Mats Carlbäck and the International Journal of Hospitality Management, it was shown that big chain hotels experience higher occupancy rates during recessions. According to the study, it appears that chain hotels are able to sacrifice higher room rates during tough times to achieve these higher occupancy rates. Basically lowering rates, and putting independent hotels in a race to the bottom of their prices.

In short, independent hotels can’t compete against these dirt-cheap rates that big chains are marketing.

Independent hotels can’t compete against these dirt-cheap rates that big chains are marketing

Stop Competing on Price Alone

This is why it’s so important to adjust your brand strategy so that you don’t always have to compete by price alone. There are many other methods and approaches you can take in order to stay competitive, especially during economic changes. Your unique market position, guest experience, the compelling story of your hotel, and your deep and personal connection to guests are just a few ways you can shine against big chains.

Your brand is extremely important. Hotels live or die on their reputation. This study concludes that hotel brands, in general, are important, and especially matter during times of economic recession.

The study goes on to say that this information should be added to the complex discussion of the true value of these intangible assets. This seems to suggest that many hoteliers, hotel investors, and private equity firms may not realize the true value of a brand. However, just like any business – a hotel can benefit from the basic principles found in a brand strategy.

With a brand strategy, your hotel should know the answers to these:

  1. What are your core values as an organization?
  2. What is your brand’s personality?
  3. Who are your customers, and what really matters to them when booking their stay?
  4. What is your unique selling proposition and market position?
  5. How and where should you be connecting with your audience through messaging?
  6. What actions should you be taking on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to maintain consistency?

Independent Hotels Need a Brand Strategy, Period.

Bottom line, if you want to experience the benefits of owning an independent hotel and freedom from franchise fees and payments you need to invest in your brand. If not, you will be taking some big risks that could sink your hotel. Are those risks worth it? I don’t think so. Especially not when companies like Longitude° exist to equip you with all you need to build a solid brand strategy.

you will be taking some big risks that could sink your hotel

This is also why you need resources, support, and a community behind you (Join our Hotelier Facebook Group if you haven’t already!). We are actively providing these resources with free access to articles aimed at helping you attract more guests, beat big-chain hotels, keeping your guests loyal, and general tips to keep your hotel from failing.

It’s can seem like an impossible task, but with the right strategy for building your brand, cultivating your identity, maintaining healthy operations, building your management team, and enhancing your revenue management system – you can certainly be competitive in this ruthless hospitality industry.

See Our Latest Hotel Branding Work

View our latest hotel branding case study here: The Allen Hotel – Manhattan, NY

The Allen Hotel – Lower East Side Manhattan, NY

 


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Bring Guests Back Again, and Again with a Great Brand

As a boutique or independently owned hotel manager or owner, you want to use your brand strategy to build loyal, returning guests. Getting guests in the hotel and servicing their stay for the first time is just part of the battle. Another major part of your brand strategy should be to get guests excited about the experience they had at your hotel, so they want to come back again and again. This article is all about ways you can enhance the hotel experience and use brand strategy to build guest loyalty.

There are 9 recommendations which can enhance the guest experience at your boutique hotel. These brand recommendations are intentionally built around people and culture.

1. Elegant guest experience

Often times when hoteliers think of elegance, they think of the cost. Just the fact that your hotel is independently owned, and/or a boutique destination already sets the tone for an elegant guest experience. An elegant guest experience is an experience where your brand strategy comes to the surface. The guest has an experience which is pleasing, graceful, stylish, and most importantly consistent. Elegance is perceived differently by nearly every person; however, most often elegance is referred to with only two words, unique and simple. Invest in your brand so the guest experience is unique and simple. Don’t over complicate the experience.

Don’t over complicate the experience.

2. Develop boutique concierge services

Your brand represents your hotel’s culture. As such, the customer experience and service should be a significant part of the strategy. Independently owned hotels overlook the concierge service offering to guests far too often. However, the ones which get concierge service right, stand out and create loyal guests. Good concierge services help guests have an amazing experience outside of your hotel. Concierge services should recommend, arrange, and reserve services for guests from your hotel partners who also represent your brand culture. By doing so, the experience is carried into the local community and outside of your hotel. You’ll find that guests will seek out your fun spot when they come back to town. This is a strong indicator of brand loyalty.

3. Empower and reward hotel employees

People should be central to your brand strategy. Employees are people and should be empowered to make decisions as such, even though there could be an error. When employees are empowered to service guests, the guest experience benefits every time. While errors are possible, rewarding your employees when the right behavior is caught is ideal over calling out the things they did wrong. As a hotelier, this will build up a culture of belonging. You want your employees to feel like they belong with your brand story.

4. Reward loyal guests

Guest loyalty should be recognized and rewarded. One example of how boutique hotels can deliver this experience is to really know their guests. Welcome back Mr. & Mrs. so and so, are you back in town to visit your folks? How are they doing? It is important that your staff is genuine and not reading a computer screen. Hotel customer relationship management tools can help track this type of information. But it is up to your staff to know who is showing up each day. This example is a reward doesn’t cost much. People love to be remembered and recognized much more than just getting some points or a free bottle of water.

People love to be remembered and recognized.

5. Develop personalized marketing strategies

A personalized marketing strategy goes along with rewarding guests. Knowing your guests makes all the difference to creating brand loyalty. When you email them or post promotions on your social media sites, try to make those messages as personal as you possibly can. Sending an email with “Dear {insert name}” can kill everything you have already done in creating the guest experience in person. However, personalization of your messaging should also go beyond the first line of an email.

6. Resolve maintenance issues and reward guests that mention them

One of the best ways to know about issues with your hotel is to invite guests to tell you and rewarding them when they do. For example, you can call the guest once they get to their room to check and make sure they have everything they need and to get quick feedback about their room. If they mention something isn’t right, fix it if you can. If you can’t fix the issue right away, tell them you’ll have maintenance look into the issue. However, in both cases reward them with dinner or a drink for telling you. Again, you are looking to reward behavior that can improve the guest experience.

7. Align staff, vendors, partners on your brand’s core objectives

Brand alignment is not an easy task. However, when your core objectives are clear it becomes easier. You are building a culture. A culture of what your brand, staff, vendors, partners, and guests want to be part of. As this alignment occurs over time you will notice how customers tend to want to join the cause and experience they had again and again.

8. Get guest feedback, every time you can

Knowing everything you can about your guests is important as mentioned above. Why they come to town, what did they do while they were in town, what things do they enjoy, what are their hobbies? Understanding these will help improve your guest experience. Such feedback will help you attract new guests using the language that is the right message. A message they can relate to. Guest feedback is everything to building a great brand strategy.

9. Make booking dead simple

Far too often boutique hotels are booked through outdated technology and made by phone only. Booking your hotel should be dead simple. Guests typically avoid friction. Think about how many times you tried to buy something in a store or online, but then just left the shopping cart. The line was too long, or you had to re-enter data that the merchant should have already had. When it comes to booking a room with your boutique getaway, it must be easy.

Hotel managers or owners can use brand strategy to build loyal, returning guests. These tips will ensure you execute on your mission to get guests excited about the experience they have had at your hotel. This excitement results in guests that tell others about their experience, in fact, many will post about things immediately on social media. Happy customers cost so much less than those who had a poor experience. However, raving, loyal customers help grow your brand in the hotel space and revenue.

 


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