The hotel business is one tough cookie to take a bite out of and leave with your purse (and teeth) intact. There’s stiff competition in every city, on every corner, and with the unstoppable rise of airbnb and other online marketplaces for short term rentals, the prospects of success are slimmer than ever. Something’s needed to set you apart, then, as every owner of a small, independent hotel will keenly know. So, whether you own your own boutique hotel, a small bed and breakfast or an innovative budget hoteL concept, here are 5 IDEAL tips every independent hotelier needs to know.

LOOK AFTER YOUR STAFF

A hotel can have all the amenities in the world, but if its staff are anything less than phenomenal, the whole experience can feel a little off. Staff, without question, are the difference between a disgruntled guest and one that tells every Tom, Dick and Harriet in town about how brilliant their stay was. We’re not just talking about service with a smile here, rather the all encompassing trait called “hospitality personality,” which every member of staff should hold in their heart. And this starts by hiring people with the right spirit, and that’s something you just can’t teach.

That’s not to say that training your staff properly isn’t important. Nope, a proper training program which encourages and facilitates personal and professional development is essential. One of the key components of a successful hotel is happy workforce, and if staff feel like they’re learning and growing, then their loyalty is pretty much guaranteed. From feeding your staff well to empowering them to make their own decisions and creating a work environment that people enjoy, looking after your staff should always be a priority.

THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAIL

One of the best ways to increase hotel occupancy is to turn every single one of your guests into a brand ambassador. How do you do this? By paying attention to everything. In other words; do sweat the small stuff. Indeed, when it comes to separating the great from the good, it really is all in the detail; the myriad tiny touches which will make guest’s stay memorable and encourages them to tell their friends about your hotel, not to mention leave a much coveted tripadvisor review. Harness these tiny flourishes to make your hotel photo-op worthy, which generates free marketing on social media platforms in the form of gushing guest posts. Result!

STAY AT OTHER HOTELS

To be better than everyone else (yep, we did mention that it’s a competitive industry), you’ve got to track the trends and research, research, research. Hotel owners have got to get under the skin of the whole, huge business to be able to succeed and one of the best ways to do this is by staying at other hotels. Take note of everything done right (and conversely, wrong) from the moment you stray onto a competitors website to book in, to the final goodbye after checking out. Pay attention to it all, and if necessary, take inspiration from the elements you’ve enjoyed. Imitation, after all, is the highest form of flattery. That said, you need to produce a unique offering and target the right differentials too.  It should go without saying that, from time to time, you should also stay at your own place, as a customer rather than owner.

STAY IN TOUCH WITH TRENDS

There are so many hotel openings each year; some fail, some flourish and some flatline. To be better than everyone else it’s crucial to track the trends in the market and know in obsessively fine detail what’s currently hot and what’s not. Sign up to industry newsletters, follow as many hotel and influencer guest accounts as your clicking finger allows and, as we mentioned, stay at as many hotels as possible to find out what you like and dislike. From interior design trends to the latest superfood and sustainability developments, make the latest trends your business.

LOOK AHEAD AND CONSTANTLY EVOLVE

The hotel industry is constantly shifting and evolving. The way we receive recommendations, book a room, access its social media, view its photos and even actually stay in a hotel is subject to huge evolution. Technology is increasing the pace of this exponentially, and as with any business, it’s vital that you try to stay one step ahead of the competition and the current trends. After all, something that’s en vogue now has, in its very nature, already been done. Keep your eyes firmly set on the future and don’t be afraid to innovate.

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