Having an independent hotel, while not without its challenges, can be very rewarding. Having a small business means everything feels a bit more intimate – from the smaller numbers of staff, to more capability for personal attention to guests. It also means that managers and owners have more say in what goes, without the scrutiny of a massive brand and corporate headquarters mandating how things are done.
For all of the freedom and comfort of running a small hotel, there is still one obvious hurdle: standing out amongst the crowd. Especially when those aforementioned corporate chains have brand recognition and huge marketing departments to push their accommodations out to the masses. It can feel overwhelming to consider trying to capture market share from these big brands, but there are plenty of things you can do while staying true to your unique offering, to attract more visitors and ensure guests are filling your rooms.
Whether it’s a business trip or a leisurely holiday, a personal touch goes a long way at a hotel. Making a guest feel comfortable and welcome is a great way to ensure they return, or recommend your accommodation to their friends or colleagues. A small hotel is better poised in many ways to give attention to the small details, so take advantage of it!
Train staff to address guests by their surname, so that they feel acknowledged. A small welcome note in the room that is addressed to them by name is a great touch. If you have televisions in the room with a welcome screen, include their name there too. It’s also great for staff to check with guests upon arrival about the intention of the trip. Your guests are spending the day on safari tomorrow? Welcome them back with a small snack and a bottle of water when they return from their long day. A family arrives with children for a vacation? Offer coloring books or other appropriate things to entertain the kids.
You may offer paid refreshments in the rooms, but try offering complimentary coffee, tea, and water. The cost to your hotel is relatively low compared to the value it brings your guests to have something to drink when they arrive to their room.
If possible, connect with locals who can offer unique experiences in surrounding areas. Walking tours and culinary experiences for local cuisines are popular amongst travelers these days as they want to experience the essence of the place they’re visiting through the eyes and experience of someone who lives there. So offer these mini-excursions to guests and make it easy for them to book through you to really get a feel for the locale.
Thank you notes are also a sweet gesture for a guest to feel they’re receiving individual attention. Slip a nice, personalized note under the door on the morning of their final day, thanking them for their stay and wishing them well on their further travels. Make sure to follow up with an email to thank them again a couple of days after check out, and make it easy for them to provide feedback or leave a review online.
Guests can ask for a lot, and the suggestion is not to aim to cater to each and every whim. This tip is a bit more practical than that – be flexible in how you accept bookings and payments, as guests have a range of needs in this side of things.
Consumers are defaulting more and more to online bookings, so make sure your website is clean, comfortable, and easy to navigate. Make sure it also looks good from a mobile device – some estimates say up to 80% of bookings are made from a mobile device. You can also make arrangements for listing your property on third party booking sites such as Hotels.com and Booking.com, increasing your visibility and leveraging a greater network of potential guests.
A fresh coat of paint, a restaurant renovation, or lobby redecoration can go a long way to keeping your space welcoming and comfortable for guests. From small touches to major changes, there is always something that can be done to spruce up the place.
It can be easy to fall behind on the upkeep and “modernization” of a hotel, especially for small hoteliers who always have so much on their hands. If your business is highly dependent upon travel or holiday seasons, it can also be challenging to implement renovations in the low season – less guests means it’s a better time to start in with the power tools, but less cash flow may make it seem less accessible.
DPO Easy Advance offers merchants an opportunity to take a loan – up to $8,000 – to invest back into the business. The online application is easy, approvals are returned quickly, and hotel owners can start in on some projects around the property to make sure guests continually have a comfortable, enjoyable experience during their stay.
Give payment options
It’s also important to offer a range of secure payment options, so guests can make the choice that suits them. More payment options means more bookings (which means more revenue!), so accept a variety of credit or debit cards or eWallets.
Using a trusted Payment Service Provider (PSP) helps to reduce customer frustration by streamlining the process, keeps information secure, and prevents fraudulent transactions which helps you as the hotelier have better peace of mind. Your PSP can also accept a range of currencies, managing the exchange rates for you when the payment is processed, which will save your bookkeepers some headaches. Merchants who accept a range of currencies and payment types are more likely to attract guests into their hotel, and those guests will also find it easier to spend money during their stay – at the restaurant, spa, room service, etc. – if their chosen payment method is accepted throughout the hotel.
If you’re on top of all of these suggestions and want to take things to the next level, it may be time to look at your marketing strategy. We’ve compiled some handy information for marketing your hotel to business travelers, levering Instagram for hotels, and some general strategies for making sure your bookings are sweet and steady.