If an insurance company is judged based on how many premiums it earns over a fixed period of time, how are hotels judged in sense of their profitability?
The main goal for any business owner (regardless of industry) is to make their business profitable. That’s the core goal at the end of the day. Different businesses and business models just have different ways about getting there.
In the midst of this scramble for a self-sustaining status, business owners need a way to measure their performance in order to make adjustments. How do you do that for your hotel?
The Occupancy Rate
One of the most interesting things about hotels is the fact that their profitability is easily measured by means of the occupancy rate. This is simply the ratio between the number of rooms in which you have people and the total number of rooms your property has.
Consider this example as a reference. If, let’s suppose, Hotel A boasts of 50 rooms, that figure becomes the denominator in the equation. If the owner of Hotel A wants to know the occupancy rate for the day, all they would have to do is simply take the number of rooms the hotel filled that day (let’s say 25 rooms) and divide that number by the total number of rooms in the property.
That process would generate .50. Convert that to a percentage and the result is 50%. For that day, Hotel A managed to garner a 50% occupancy rate.
Taking a look at this figure, it doesn’t seem impressive. That just means that the hotel only performed half of what was expected of it. On the other hand, it could have just been a bad day. It could have been the middle of the week or there could have been a local event such as bad weather or road construction that would have affected the profitability of Hotel A.
In that case, looking at the occupancy rate based on that day alone isn’t a good indicator of performance. What should be done is to apply the same equation but instead on a weekly or monthly basis. By increasing the inclusive date range, you broaden the scope of your equation and cover more ground. This gives you a more telling statistic.
By utilizing a combination of daily, weekly, as well as monthly occupancy rates, owners can reveal plenty of things about their businesses. For starters, one can tell on which days the hotel isn’t performing well. It could be the middle of the week where most prospects are home. It could be on particular months because the area in which the business is undergoes adverse weather conditions. In short, it tells the owner the “peak” and “off” times for the business.
Peak and Off Times
With this information, owners can tell what to fix and what to leave alone when it comes to the hotel operation. There is no more blind guessing as to what needs help. An owner can directly implement strategies on specific days, weeks, or months in order to boost the occupancy rate where the assistance is needed the most. Naturally, this covers the weaknesses the hotel and maximizes its earning potential, hereby increasing profitability.
With your peak and off times in mind, there are several tried and tested strategies that can be used to compensate for these supposed weaknesses.
PROVIDING PROMOTIONAL PACKAGES
Take note, though, that this doesn’t exactly pertain to giving out discounts on your rooms, although that is by no means a terrible idea.
For the business owner unwilling to give out discounts, offers can still be given by combining, removing, and adding line items to your offers that will entice more visits to the hotel on off days. Some examples of these are promotional offers that give a free room night for every 5 paid nights.
Owners can also offer usage of certain amenities for free such as any recreational areas and/or facilities for free to guests on off days. The goal is to add value to occupied rooms on off days to make them more attractive when they are naturally unsellable.
REALIGN OTA SCHEMES
With the prevalence of online marketing and commerce today, consumers are now buying things for themselves over the internet. Hotel reservations are not exempt to this trend. Hotels and rooms are being judged by would-be guests all from the comfort of their own homes months before any planned trips.
In order to keep up with the times, many hotels are partnering with Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) in order to tap into the online market. What these agencies/websites do is they market the rooms of hotels on their online platforms, exposing these properties to thousands and millions of viewers on a daily basis.
The promise of increased booking is lucrative, but the appeal shouldn’t only be taken at face value. If your property already has partnerships with several OTA’s and you’re still experiencing lengthy off periods, then something must change.
Perhaps sole dependence on OTA’s may not be the best way to boost occupancy. Perhaps changing schemes and rates and partnership rules with these agencies will help realign the partnerships to better serve both parties. Sitting down with a relationship manager or sales consultant from an OTA is always a good place to start.
WELCOME EVENTS AND FUNCTIONS
Another effective method to invite more business is to utilize the property as a function hall. While these don’t necessarily count as hotel bookings, interested customers may find utility for the hotel by other means.
These means include weddings, training seminars, team building opportunities, parties, debuts, and any other function that your spaces can accommodate. If the hotel can accommodate these particular events, then hotel bookings are sure to follow.
It’s a safe assumption to presume that people that enjoy their events at the hotel will be more likely to stay there in the future when the need arises. In addition to that, the joyous, positive, and welcoming atmosphere of these events is conducive to wonderful customer experiences. In turn, these experiences turn customers into loyal patriots that have successfully been branded.
While this may incur additional remodeling, staffing, equipment, and payment scheme changes, these are necessary investments to stay relevant in a very competitive marketplace.
This entails setting aside a few rooms to accommodate pets. While the logic behind this move may not seem smart at first, the long-term effects of such an investment far outweigh the costs.
Nowadays, pets are deemed as a luxury. In that sense, they could be seen as a symbol of an opulent status. That is, customers with pets and the capability to take these animals with them as they travel is proof enough that they are good customers to have within the hotel. Why not welcome them and their non-human companions? It would be tantamount to welcoming their businesses as well.
Take note, though, that it is not necessary to make all the rooms in the hotel pet-friendly. Starting in this direction would only take just a few rooms to give these customers options. On top of that, training some of your staff on the basics of pet care and maintenance is a great addition to welcoming these kinds of guests.
INVEST IN TRAINING STAFF
In line with training staff, an ideal consideration would be to have them go through sales and customer service training. The importance of such as step cannot be emphasized enough.
Take note that your staff represent the hotel to your guests. For your valued clients, your staff are the hotel as far as they are concerned. This step will work for you in one of two ways.
Primarily, additional training will prepare them to deal with your customers. They will be empowered to introduce your property in a positive light without your supervision. This will naturally create a positive image to your clientele.
Second, employees that see concern for their development from management won’t just work better. They will also develop a sense of loyalty to your management. Happy employees stay longer and have more reason to interact well with the customers.
On top of being an effective means of communication, it also serves as a novel approach to marketing that isn’t usually seen with hotels.
This publication can contain news about the hotel and the locality. Highlighting certain events in the locality is one way of inviting more potential guests to the property.
This can be done with a printed copy that can be given to guests as they check-in/check-out. This can also be done in an online publication that can be mass-sent like a prospecting tool to email lists. It extends your marketing reach and opens up the possibility of appealing to new markets.
PROMOTE THE LOCALITY
In line with promotions, it would also do the hotel much good not just to focus on the property, but the locality in its entirety.
This means not just highlighting what’s nice about the business and the hotel. It means flashing the spotlight on the people, culture, traditions, lifestyle, and even festivals of the area in which the business resides.
Low occupancy rates could stem from poor tourism of your area as well. Including the town or city helps the local businesses, traders, cultural artisans and other members of the locality attract more tourists. Who else will these people refer for lodging when they encounter potential guests?
As of today, video streaming sites such as Youtube and Vimeo are enjoying an unprecedented seat of influence in the online market. People nowadays find watching content more appealing than reading about it. This is why videos have a special influence over people.
Used as a marketing tool, videos can attract new markets and even reinvigorate old customers to come back and do business with your hotel once again.
The video content doesn’t even have to be groundbreaking. The central message just has to revolve around your mission and vision statement. These videos may also promote the various activities that can be done at the hotel. It could be scenes of happy guests that are enjoying their stays. As long as the video presents the property in a good light, it will serve as a great tool for reaching more people.
Another way to fully utilize videos is to treat them like instructional materials that introduce guests to your city and locality. They could also be helpful tour guides around the city that will help would-be tourists find their way. And where else should they be guided?
REINVEST IN A COMPANY SITE/BLOG
Most owners underestimate the research capacities of tourists and customers. When a certain hotel catches the fancy of anyone on the internet, finding a website or sales portal dedicated to the hotel is a simple Google search away.
Once customers see the site, an impromptu sales presentation takes place where you, the owner, are not invited. The customer judges the value of the hotel based on the contents of the website or blog without a chance to for the hotel to intervene. You could be losing customers right at this very moment.
Is the company blog updated with the latest news? An outdated site may even lead customers to think that the business is no longer open! Updating a blog on the hotel easily fixes this problem. On top of that, customers will estimate the value of your hotel based on how well-maintained the website is. You may even get inquiries via the site. Manning this portal is of utmost important.
With a good writer on your side, you could also optimize the content of your pages to match search-engine-optimization schemes for various web crawlers. With curated content, your hotel page will find itself closer to the first page of search results on Google searches. That naturally means a larger reach and better market penetration.
With these tips, fixing a skewed occupancy rate becomes a doable task. These activities target new markets, open up channels for old customers, initiate sparks of interest, and most importantly reinstate the relevance of your business to the market.