Owning a hotel is the dream of many – but all too often that dream can turn into a nightmare. Hotel keeping is an arduous profession. It needs technical, managerial, marketing and economic expertise; what’s more, it demands total commitment.
Miles Quest and Peter Nannestad have just published the latest edition of their book How to Buy and Manage Your Own Hotel (available through the eHotelier – digital and hardcopy). Aimed at hoteliers and investors, it provides a no-hold barred toolkit for all those considering entering the challenging world of hotel ownership.
We asked Miles and Peter a few questions:
What prompted to you write this book?
It’s actually the fourth edition of a book first published in 1979 – and my word, how the industry has changed since then – even since the last edition in 1996! This edition is completely revised and re-written. It was originally written to open the eyes of potential buyers to the joys and risks of hotel ownership – and that’s still the aim.
People think that owning a hotel is easy – a good job for retirement. We hope the book enables them to make a more balanced judgment. Owning and operating a hotel is sheer hard work and demands total commitment; it can also be risky. We wanted the book to highlight the key pitfalls, in which case some people might be put off! If so, that’s a good thing. It could save them a lot of money and much heartache. But let’s hope it encourages others by giving them plenty of advice for the journey to ownership. That’s its aim.
What is the biggest challenge to entering the world of hotel keeping today?
Probably recruiting and retaining the right staff – that’s always been a significant challenge and always will be. A hotel can only come alive with good staff. But there are other challenges – finance of course is a significant one; budgeting and cost control is another critically important area. You can lose so much money if you don’t have good control systems. And marketing – particularly using social media – has become incredibly important. But you always tend to come back to the challenge of employing the right staff. If you haven’t got good staff, you haven’t got a good hotel.
Can the independent hotel ever beat the big chains?
Absolutely – but only by doing its own thing. Of course every independent has to meet the challenge that group hotels pose in terms of quite sophisticated marketing and financial back-up but group hotels have two big weaknesses: they all look a bit alike (many being newly built) and they are all run by a hotel manager. Independent hotels are run by their owners. They can (and must) imprint their own personality on it. The hotel will reflect their own personality; they will be striving after perfection because it’s their property. They can give the personal welcome and the fond farewell. That’s their USP. It’s much more difficult for the manager of a group hotel to be so identified with a property.
If you had one piece of advice for those considering buying their own hotel, what would it be?
Remember that the public can be very fickle, very difficult to please, extremely irritating and quite mindless of your feelings. So you need endless patience and total commitment. Just keep smiling!
Click here to buy the book that takes readers step by step from the time of their initial interest in buying a hotel to the day they take over – and beyond. Complete with sound bites and advice from industry experts who have first-hand experience of ownership, it unravels the purchase process – and much more:
- Why location is key – and how to use the business agent to maximum effect
- What type of hotel to buy – and where; why franchising is so important
- Raising the finance and the critical importance of understanding the accounts
- Why good marketing will dictate your success – and the critical importance of social media
- How to lead, motivate and communicate with your staff – your biggest challenge!