Hotel performance hacking in the downturn

Much has been written about how to deal with the current crisis. Cut your costs, modify your approach, innovate, take advantage of stimulus etc.

Hotel performance hacking in the downturnBy now, you should be well down this path.

By now, you should be turning your focus to the development and improvement of your business. Getting back to the fundamentals and tackling some of those projects you’ve never had time to fully flesh out.

Right now, we all have an amazing opportunity that we will unlikely ever get again. While the rooms and hallways are quiet, the phones aren’t ringing quite to the norm, and the pace of life has slowed to barely a walk, now is your time to grow!

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Now, is the time to reinvent your business, like never before.

So, what should you do to prepare for the rebound?

What we’ve come up with is the three stages of hotel performance hacking to get you to the other side of this pandemic in full stride (not slowly waking up from hibernation!)

What is performance hacking?

A growth (or performance) hacker is someone who uses creative, low-cost strategies to help businesses acquire and retain customers. Growth hackers tend to be obsessive, curious and analytical:

  • Growth hackers focus solely on strategies related to growing the business.
  • They hypothesize, prioritize and test innovative growth strategies.
  • They analyze and test to see what’s working.
  • The ideal growth hacker knows how to set growth priorities, identify channels for customer acquisition, measure success, and scale growth.

For each property, growth hacking is different and it’s about figuring out why you grow and looking for ways to make that happen on purpose.

We call it Hotel Performance Hacking because that’s what needs to happen when you are in an unknown and volatile environment like we are in now. It is very much the same as growth hacking, a term commonly used in the entrepreneurial space. – Michael Harper, Co Founder – Hotel Strategy Co.

Let us explain further.

Tactical reactions – First reaction Action Plans [immediate]

These are the immediate reactions and adjustments you make to your business to survive. To stem the bleed and apply triage. Aside from all the fiscal stuff your accountant should be telling you, by now you should have most these in place.

Examples are rate and distribution adjustments, inventory alignment to demand, channel leveraging, front desk training, adjustments to your operation, so on and so on. These items should by now be complete, or well on the way to being there.

Strategic response – Market manoeuvres [medium term]

The here and now. Making the best of a bad situation. Looking for the strategic actions you can take to keep the cashflow alive.

Examples of what you can be doing right now include:

  • Adapting rates, conditions and offers to new markets
  • Looking at self-isolation packages
  • Hosting medical staff
  • Day rates for temporary offices
  • Mining and shift workers who can’t return home between shifts.
  • Local businesses and projects that are continuing (or perhaps booming) in spite of the crisis.
  • Considering new markets, new partners, new distribution and new ways of thinking.

This will be a constant ‘watch and act’ approach until the crisis subsides. Every bum in every bed counts right now, and you need to ensure you’re getting at least your fair market share.

Overt opportunities – Ready for the rebound [long term]

Once you’ve taken care of the immediate and medium-term priorities, now start to think like an entrepreneur. Be more creative; be more thorough. Get onto that project, review that technology upgrade, expand your footprint, develop that market.

You’ve likely never had so much time on your hands to work on your business not in it. Much like a saying we heard the other day:

“When fishermen cannot go to sea, they repair nets.”

It’s time to repair the nets. But better than that, it is time to think of new ways to fish. It’s time to optimize, time to recreate, time to re-imagine your business.

Here’s a handful of practical ‘overt opportunity’ activities we suggest:

Online visibility audit

Taking a view of your accommodation business literally from the consumers’ view. Grab a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone and see what the booker sees when they have needs or desires in your general direction.

Start with a Google search of “{your suburb} accommodation”. Check on multiple devices and follow the trail down each of the paths that are commonly available. Use the mindset as if you don’t know your property exists. Watch and learn, how early you appear, how accurate a representation of your property is out there, consider how it ‘motivates’ you to dig deeper, plus check how easy it is to actually transact with your hotel.

This activity will certainly uncover some areas for optimisation.

Future forecasting – “The Next Big Thing”

We’re hearing lots of talk around what’s the next big thing on the back of the pandemic, meaning how can this be turned into an opportunity. While we like this thinking, it’s not a one size fits all approach. It will be much more customised to your individual business. So stop looking for ‘the next big thing’ out there, and start looking for it within.

The fact is, no one knows what the future will look like, every hotel is unique and will need its own approach to market demand returning.

Therefore, the best way to create a customised approach we believe is to facilitate a planning session with your team using our Future Proof your Hotel beyond Covid-19 guidelines. This activity is really designed to help you arrive at a customised plan of attack, but one that potentially positions you well ahead of the marketplace and puts you on the front foot when demand returns.

Hotel health check

Take a more holistic view (not just online visibility as above) and check the pulse of your business while benchmarking it against the industry. A hotel health check should, of course, include occupancy, average rate & RevPAR along with all the online visibility factors like search, website and social proof. Plus, it should also cover pricing, messaging, revenue management and sales strategy. This type of review works by obviously pointing out your areas of deficiency and therefore prescribes the action required to address it.

Technology overhaul

Now is the time to consider an upgrade of your PMS, Channel Manager, CRM or perhaps some add-ons and enhancements to your existing technology stack. You have a perfect window of opportunity to research, strategise, implement and troubleshoot new technology solutions into your operation.

Be careful though, to not get attracted to a ‘bright shiny objects’ (like a moth to a flame), by ensuring any technology solution you consider is tied in with your broader hotel performance strategy. In other words, don’t let technology lead your strategy. Use technology to leverage your strategy.

A roadmap

Rather than just going madly about the place, trying to re-invent yourself, we strongly advise that you need a plan first. You not only need an action plan but an execution plan with it (that is, a list of jobs to do, as well as a means to stay on track).

A solid plan, so you don’t end up back where you were 2 months ago, madly jumping from one activity to the next, barely keeping your breath as the pressure of the operation pulled you in every direction!

Build yourself a plan, with thought, with strategic reason, and then follow through on execution.


Just remember, we believe there are 3 stages to your recovery.

Stage 1 TACTICAL REACTIONS, should already be completed.

Stage 2 STRATEGIC RESPONSE, is constantly monitoring and adjusting to the market place and where you need to keep your finger on the pulse for now.

Stage 3, OVERT OPPORTUNITIES, is the stuff many of your competitors will choose not to do. Many will find themselves too busy (even though they are not). Too pre-occupied, too worried, too frozen, too lazy or too much of an attitude like ‘I’ll just wait for the rebound’.

Now is the time to take ground, keep moving forward, optimise, improve, enhance, do better and all those other fluffy words that ultimately mean ACT NOW!

Over to you.



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