OK, we admit it, the title to this section sounds a bit like a self-help book. Nonetheless, our regular contact with our clients puts us in a unique position to pass on some of the best and most common tips that we come across for running a successful business. Unsurprisingly, the best operators generally provide fairly similar advice.
One comment that we regularly hear from experienced operators is that running an accommodation business is first and foremost a people business. You don’t need a degree to run a motel or a management rights, but you do need to be able to get along with people. As long as you’ve got people skills, everything else can be picked up in time.
For the times when you are learning and building your systems and processes, don’t be afraid to surround yourself with experts and don’t be afraid to pay for their services. A short-term investment now can lead to massive long-term gains. If you’re not marketing savvy, hire a marketing consult to manage your website. If your rooms are starting to look dated, work with a renovation expert to come up with a cost-efficient solution.
On-line exposure is incredibly important in this day and age. Very few accommodation businesses can rely solely on repeat guests and their own website. As the importance of on-line bookings grow, so does the importance of 3rd party booking sites, such a wotif.com, booking.com and expedia.com. If managing the vast array of booking sites seems daunting, there are professionals available to help.
Whether you own a motel, management rights, backpackers or caravan park, your client base is key. Having a well-managed database is an absolute priority. After all, it is far harder to attract a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. Contact your clients regularly to inform them of new features or special offers. Give them a reason to return; maybe a free breakfast or a complimentary night?
The power of ‘random acts of kindness’ cannot be underestimated. A small gesture that is unexpected by the recipient can inspire a great sense of loyalty and be remembered long into the future. One of our motel operator clients cleans their guests’ windscreens before they check out, leaving a note under the windscreen wiper reading ‘We’ve washed your windscreen to make your day a little brighter. Safe travelling and come back soon’.
We all know the benefits of joining accommodation chains and regional tourism organisations. Why not start your own strategic alliance with other local businesses? Perhaps there’s a top-class winery and a famous fishing spot in the vicinity. Team up, pool your resources, and come up with package deals to tempt new guests.
Whatever your objectives and aspirations in running an accommodation business, Resort Brokers always recommend that you surround yourself with as many similarly minded people as possible. One of the great things about the accommodation industry is the support that operators are able to find if they go looking for it. It’s a surprisingly close-knit group of people and the most successful operators always seem to have plenty of friends in the industry.