PLAINFIELD, IL, MAY 3, 2022 — For the hotel industry, the last two years has been a rollercoaster. Dragged down initially by COVID-19 lockdowns, hoteliers are now finding their business on an upswing with bookings exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Even group business travel is showing promising first signs of returning on the books.
Thanks to ongoing widespread vaccinations and the power of pent-up demand, this momentum will likely continue throughout the year with travelers willing to pay pre-pandemic or higher rates. To help hoteliers “get heads in beds” and drive RevPAR, Cicero Construction Group, a general contractor specializing in renovating hospitality properties, has ten great tips on how to take advantage of this long awaited return of leisure and business travelers.
1. Promote “Staycations” in your hotel. COVID-19 lockdowns put Americans off air travel, and helped establish the hotel “staycation” as a fun escape that was inexpensive and easy to reach by car. In addition to avoiding unnecessary exposure to COVID risks, staycations were easy to plan and could be arranged at the last minute. There is no reason to not continue to promote staycations in your hotel to the local market, especially to busy families looking for an escape, delicious food, peaceful relaxation, and lively entertainment on a budget.
2. Partner with neighboring businesses. If your hotel doesn’t currently have a restaurant, health club, bar or other attractions, find one in town to cross-market services. For example, partner with a local laundry to let you offer same-day dry cleaning for guests.
3. Respond to on-line reviews. Nearly 80 percent of travelers report that they will not book a hotel room without first reading online reviews, with 91 percent of 18-34 year old’s saying they trust online reviews as much as friends’ recommendations. Monitor online reviews for input on ways to improve your hotel’s reputation. Post a response to negative reviews explaining how you are remedying the problem rather than let it impact the next guest’s opinion.
4. Brush up on curb appeal. Easy to read signage, neat landscaping, and a well-lit parking area, along with a contemporary entrance, creates a welcoming sense for guests on arrival. In a hospitality industry, where subtle distinctions can make a significant difference in occupancy rates, an exterior appearance is as important as morning coffee and room service. It’s the first impression a guest experiences when arriving and the last thing they see when they leave.
5. Improve the lobby. The lobby is the most valuable piece of real estate in a hotel property. The atmospheric elements of the lobby — it’s color, style, textures and lighting — creates the environment that reflects the caliber of a hotel, improves a guest’s experience, and enhances the property’s value. Also, the lobby is the most photographed area of a hotel for both online reviews, social media like Instagram, and reservation sites. Make it standout. Soften the design with wider moldings, local artwork, inviting meeting spaces featuring soft chairs and plenty of outlets to plug in electronics, and lush plants wherever possible.
6. Re-imagine underused spaces. Nearly 55 percent of the entire US workforce is currently either remote or in a hybrid arrangement working from the office and at home. If you have underused spaces, for example a conference room or guest rooms that are left dormant in low seasons, they can take on a new lease of life as remote offices or co-working hubs to generate new revenue sources.
7. Educate and train the front desk. With the recent influx of new guests, there is no better time to train your front desk on how to engage them in conversation and make them feel welcome and important. Educate the front desk staff in how to effectively up-sell. For example, if a guest has booked a basic room, offer them the option to upgrade for a small monetary difference. Or ask what the guest’s favorite drink is upon check-in, which can be delivered to their room as a welcome gift.
8. Learn from the competition. Things have likely changed in your local market over the past two years. Familiarize yourself with the level of service local hotels now offer as well as their price structure. Spend a night at one of your most successful competitors to learn what they’re doing differently. How are you treated by their employees? Have they recently renovated? Is the FF&E more up-to-date than in your hotel?
9. Update the breakfast bar. Toss out the stale donuts and replace them with fresh fruits and homemade items. Renovate the counter tops with clean looking updated granite, stone or marble, plus add new flooring, wall coverings, and LED lighting. Finally, give the breakfast bar a unique flavor by incorporating local arts and crafts.
10. Go Green. Installing low-flow toilets, replacing incandescent bulbs with LED lighting, installing solar panels, and taking other pro-active steps translates to lower utility bills. Going Green also attracts guests. Nearly 65 % of travelers report that they’d like to stay in a eco-friendly property while 33 percent say they would not stay in a hotel that doesn’t have green policies. If you’ve gone green, let your guests know it with plaques in your lobby and by advertising it on reservation sites.