We are just finishing our 2nd month of 2014 which is slated to be a record year for the hospitality industry. If you are a hotelier, by now you've seen the forecast from Smith Travel Research calling for a 6% growth in RevPAR in 2014 and you are excited to capitalize on the growth in our industry. And while this may be a great goal for your hotel to achieve this year, my question for you is what is your plan? There are multiple key foundations that your plan must have in order to ensure the success you need in 2014.
Foundation #1 - Social strategy
What is your social media strategy? Are you engaging with the guest on their terms? If you have social media profiles out there, you need to ensure that you are posting fresh, relevant content on a daily basis that is authentic and genuine. Guests will check out your hotel on multiple social media platforms to see what you are saying and what your guests are saying. If you don't have the time to commit to social media then delete the profile and let your brand be your social media voice. They have the time and resources to ensure that it is done right.
Foundation #2 - Your team
Now is the time to revisit your commitment to your team. Does your team know how important they are to your business? Think about the housekeeper that always cleans the section on the top floor, does he or she know that without them, your business would crumble? Okay, so that is a bit on the dramatic side but that's how your team should feel. They must be engaged, understand how what they do impacts the overall business and therefore their future at the hotel. After all, a guest is guaranteed to come in contact with at least one of your team members every stay, not you. They are your ambassador and they need to know that they are an important part of your business.
Foundation #3 - Revenue management
When it comes to managing your rates and inventory, this isn't like the famous infomercial... you can't set it and forget it. Revenue Management is more an art than a science and you need someone who understands the trends in the industry. They need to analyze the data and make strategic decisions to selling to the right guest, at the right rate, and at the right time. If you expect to see RevPAR growth in 2014 then you need a new strategy for the new year. Your strategy from 2013, no matter how successful, won't work.
Foundation #4 - Sales & marketing
We are not in blockbuster movie about a man with a field of corn, a love of baseball, and a dream. Just because you built it, doesn't mean they will come. You have to have an aggressive, not costly, sales and marketing effort to achieve your goals. In our hyper-connected world, you can have a very aggressive marketing effort on a reasonable budget. Have a plan, think it out, and then execute!
Foundation #5 - Operations
All the revenue management, sales, marketing, team engagement and social strategy will be for nothing if you don't have a solid operation plan in place. Now is the time to revisit your contracts, suppliers, and your own internal processes and procedures to ensure that you are operating as efficiently as possible. Ensure that your operation is giving your team the tools they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability and ensure that the guest experience is the best it can be but tighten up the purse strings so that all your hard work translates to the bottom line.
In closing, now is the time to make sure that you have the right foundations in place for a successful 2014. Don't count on the "rising tides raise all ships" theory to lead you to success in 2014. Take a few hours out of your week and revisit your 2014 plan to make sure you are set up to achieve your fair share of the business and more. If you don't have a plan, get one!