As we all settle in for budget season in advance of the arrival of 2020 in a matter of weeks, many of us may find that we haven’t set aside a lot of time or financial resources for new initiatives. Instead, many hotel managers are too swamped with quotidian operations and staffing issues to take a step back and see the forest for the trees.
Yet in this era of disruption, we are being challenged on multiple fronts for the hearts and minds of our consumers, and it is essential that you continually add new features and new aspects to your guest service training protocol in order to keep up with constantly morphing customer expectations.
Rather than rage hellfire and brimstone at the current prospects of a looming global recession, trade wars or the conquest of the sharing economy over traditional hotel properties, you should be glad to see such changes come, as they are in my mind long overdue. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
At this time, you must look for what will help your property sustain its competitiveness in a world where consumers have options beyond the conventional hotel. Your mission is to ensure that they will continue to consider your property as a viable option, even as boatloads of newer and trendier accommodation options present themselves.
The first and most fundamental step to reinventing your hotel, and leaving it in a good place for continual reinvention, is to no longer think of it as just heads in beds. You must reorient your mentality towards viewing your property as a place where both travelers and locals like to congregate. In effect, how can you make your property a destination in and unto itself?
In this sense, you must create an experience so that your hotel is no longer interchangeable with any other in your comp set. There is always that elusive ‘x factor’ to distinguish you and to add another emotional driver so you are never solely competing on price.
As a thought exercise, consider modeling yourself after an all-inclusive resort, considering how you can keep your guests interested in staying on property for 24 hours a day. This task is simpler on a resort with a pool, a beach, sports facilities or nearby hiking trails. Nonetheless, there are fascinating amenities that are emerging for midtown hotels that emulate this ideal – look no further than the ‘living room’ concept. And, of course, environmental or sustainability programs are rapidly shifting from value-adds to essential must-haves, whereby those who stagnate may draw the ire of everyone under the age of 30.
Hotels will survive the age of disruption by diversifying their appeal to various stakeholders. Guests come to stay, to dine and to meet. Members of the community must likewise come to recognize your property as an abode for social mingling and for exquisite yet approachable cuisine. What about the pastime of shopping and the delivery of unique retail options that are unavailable elsewhere in your locale? Moreover, have you ever considered transforming a part of your hotel into a flexible collaborative space that can accommodate the modern, portable, 24/7 worker? Lastly, how can your hotel become a bastion of learning for the greater community? Just a few thoughts to consider.
Altogether, this means changing the paradigm as to how we look at all of the public spaces within the property and how they might become multifunctional. We have to stop looking at the profitability of every single square foot and instead look at how our rooms can be better utilized to build the overall profitability through social amplification.
A true dialogue is needed to get the hotel revolution underway and the time is now, in the weeks immediately before budgets are locked for the next calendar year.