The hotel industry has always been highly competitive, especially in recent years, but new research shows how establishments are refurbishing their premises in order to up their game and secure profitable custom.
Funding Options, the online business finance firm, found that the British hotel industry had increased its refurbishment spend to £1.6 billion in the past year (a rise of 57%) in order to compete with the new wave of home-letting offers such as Airbnb. These new online competitors are proving to be a tough new form of competition for traditional hotels - who are fighting back and increasing their capital spend for the third consecutive year.
The good news for hoteliers is that the post-Brexit fall in sterling has made the British staycation more popular, and there are plenty of opportunities to win business by investing intelligently in the right attraction and retention strategies.
Customers expect more
Customer expectations have increased, and hotels need to step up in their offers. Benefits such as complimentary Wi-Fi are now expected as standard for example, and most bigger venues offer spa treatments and broad dining options.
Standing out from the crowd
The trick to standing out from the competition is to offer unusually good features and benefits that may be unique to your hotel establishment, and to deliver on these consistently.
The importance of experience
Customer service needs to be absolutely perfect - this is a given in the services industry. So invest heavily in the right staff and train them well. Ensure they are wearing smart uniforms, that they have great communication skills and that they are passionate about your business. Pay them appropriately and be a good employer so that they feel loyal to your business. Invest in mystery shoppers to check that the right level of service and customer experience is being offered when you aren't present.
Invest in a refurbishment programme that presents a comfortable, attractive and welcoming accommodation in the style that your customers are looking for. Consider finishing touches that needn't be overly expensive - but which are thoughtful. A handwritten note, a home-baked round of shortbreads, and quality local loose leaf tea are good examples of touches that are memorable.
Don't skimp on the things that customers really value when they are on holiday. For example, invest in top quality bed and bath linens, as these comprise a core part of the customer experience, and high-end bed linens, towels and throws. It is easy to appreciate the luxury of a beautifully soft and fluffy towel, high thread count bed linens and a luxurious cosy throws- and your customers will certainly notice this attention to detail and desire to make their stay special.
After a successful stay, remain in touch with your customers, so that they consider booking with you again. Send a personal card at Christmas perhaps if you are a small boutique establishment with time to extend to individual guests, or at least deliver a personalised email or direct mail campaign to possible repeat bookers if you are a larger hotel with bigger numbers. Think strategically and always keep the customers' needs in mind.
Remember, hotels offer a chance to escape the mundanities of everyday life and give guests the chance to experience rest, luxury, fun and pampering for their stay. Ensure that you deliver these experiences, and your guests will keep coming back for more.