It’s not a groundbreaking revelation but the competition between independent hotels and global brands is becoming increasingly unequal.
International hotel corporations like IHG and Marriott are launching new brands so often, and modern technology driven hotel management already became standard. Independent hotels are not only losing space on the market but also becoming less attractive for talents.
What can owners and managers of independent hotels do to step up their game and improve their productivity without significant investments?
Offer a better management style & environment
Probably the biggest challenge of independent hotels is talent acquisition. Motivated talents typically do not stay in small hotels, unless they get paid more or other life circumstances require them to do so. People who want to unleash their potential choose big brands where mobility and opportunities for improvement are given.
If an independent hotel can secure a talent then the person will likely to stop improving and her knowledge will become obsolete in some years. Even worse, GMs, DOSMs and other high level managers at independent properties are often holding on to their outdated knowledge and practices, saying no to improvements just because they don’t understand it.
Offering a comfortable environment with competitive salaries will make a huge difference. As well as embracing an open management style where passionate talents have the freedom to implement their ideas will make an independent hotel more attractive compared to rigid corporate environments.
During the past years of my hotel consulting practice, I’ve seen employee disengagement as one of the biggest bottlenecks.
Embrace technology to simplify workflow
Unbelievable, but in 2018 there are still hotels that choose to check competitor rates on booking.com manually, instead of using a rate shopper. No need to invest in the latest AI tools, some common sense to save time, cost and automate repetitive processes is enough to start with.
Do the math, checking rates like this will cost around 20-30 hours monthly and doing it manually will never be as complete and correct as a software could do.
Pricing decisions in many hotels are still made without proper analytical tools. This can lead to mistakes and missed revenue opportunities which on the long term will far more costly compared to paying for a revenue management tool.
The purpose of technology is not “another thing to do” but to take care of recurring tasks faster and without human errors, and in most cases much more cost efficiently.
Work closely with consultants or hotel marketing companies
Hotel managers might wonder why would they spend on a consultant or on a third party hotel marketing company when they have staff to do the work? It’s because that the staff, and in most cases the management do not have the level of up to date experience, insights and perspectives consultants can bring.
International hotel corporations are filled with talents, they invest in research and testing, and have all the practices independent hotels might have never even heard of. These are not available for standalone hotels.
Companies and consultants that work with international brands are deeply involved in technology and up to date with the latest hotel marketing management practices. They can bring the knowledge and practices to independent hotels by highlight inefficiencies, setting new directions and by improving the day to day workflow a lot – which will all result in positive changes if the management is open for it.
Independent hotels, unless they offer a fantastic environment or salary, are not likely to attract top talents who can do the same. People who agree to work for a mediocre salary in an unattractive environment are usually not motivated or experienced enough, so new ideas for improvements will not be initiated by them. This is why 3rd party support becomes necessary.