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Building customer reviews into your hotel promotion

The results of investing in a great customer experience can be seen in your customer reviews. If you have a great all-round proposition, you are more likely to feel confident in asking for reviews.

Sites like TripAdvisor, TrustPilot together with listings sites like Trivago, Booking.com, LateRooms, Expedia and more all provide opportunities to leave feedback. You should also factor Facebook and Google reviews into your planning as places where good experiences can be recorded.

There are lots of good reasons to proactively seek reviews and to ask for them as early as possible. If a positive experience is front of mind you want to capture that before the detail is forgotten. The more specific any feedback is, you can either use it in active promotion or use it to quickly address areas of concern.

There are lots of ways to encourage all visitors to leave positive feedback including

  • Offering cards at check in and check out.
  • Adding links to receipts in the bar, restaurant and spa.
  • Putting stickers in windows and in rooms.
  • Sharing feedback and reviews around your venue to show customers you value feedback.

Online reviews are a critical component of the marketing mix for a hotel and hospitality businesses. Many people evaluate the selection online and take into consideration reviews before spending money on hotel stays, meals out, business functions or spa days.

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Why investing in your reception and front of house is a good thing for your hotel business

Any Google, TripAdvisor or Trivago search will present your hotel business together with related images. Many of these often feature the building itself.

Your venue must be clean and tidy, freshly painted and with the appropriate level of signage so visitors can find their way in and around. An old TV property show termed the phrase ‘kerb appeal’ and it is important as it can impact first impressions.

But, often the thing that carries the most weight is the quality of the reception carpet. Carpet is an expensive commodity and one which depreciates but one that can carry the brand and make an immediate and appealing visual impact.

Attention should be given to all the aspects covered in other sections

  • Signage
  • Digital screens (AV considerations)
  • The design of the reception desk and area
  • Art / wall hangings
  • Furniture
  • Internal lighting
  • Exterior lighting
  • External sculptures
  • Flowers

It is unlikely that you will find a bank to support funding for ‘soft assets’ such as front of house carpets, as they hold no residual value. However, a specialist fit-out finance provider will fund based on their inherent value to the business.

These secondary elements are important to creating the ambiance that leads to visitors having a better experience, such that they leave positive reviews, so you can build your business and its profitability.

A thriving hospitality business with sustained good reviews is more likely to receive awards and accolades – which in turn will lead to more customers. A virtuous circle which creates opportunities to re-invest and developing your offering and facilities further.

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Why investing in your hotel bedrooms is a good thing for your hotel business

In our hotel investment guide “Invest for Profit” we only focus on hotel bedrooms towards the end of the guide.

That’s because the number of hotel bedrooms and number of nights you have to offer are finite. There are, however, infinite ways to maximise the use of other areas of your hotel with revenue generating business.

That said, guest rooms are where most time is spent. investment in bedrooms can start relatively simply in terms of fixtures and fittings through to bespoke room design for specific clientele.

Investment in your bedroom portfolio is important and relative if you think about who you want to attract. Examples of the sorts of things you might want to consider for the different audiences and room types might include

  • Classic double rooms, with options for single occupancy.
  • Family rooms – which might be slightly larger, contain store-away beds, additional screens, decent audio-visual and be located away from the noisy function suites and bars.
  • Rooms for business travellers – minimal in design, potentially less space and including desks, additional sockets including USB friendly charging, appropriate lighting and the latest audio-visual technology.
  • Rooms for elderly / disabled guests – using the family room concept and situating them on the ground floor or near lifts for easy access, wider doors, walk-in showers, alarm cords and lower level height sockets and switches.
  • The wedding suite/bridal suite – a sumptuous room with soft furnishings, appropriate level of décor, high level of comfort, appropriate lighting, great views and technology.

It’s undeniable though that investing in hotel bedrooms – the place where anyone staying at your hotel is likely to spend the much of their time – is a smart move.

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How to ensure investing in your hotel leisure facilities adds value

Hotel leisure facilities are one of the ‘nice to have’ aspects for some hotel businesses, especially those targeting business and international customers.

Quality hotel leisure facilities can move a property from 3 stars to 4 stars, potentially attracting a higher calibre of spending customer.

Most independent hotels offering leisure facilities do so through a restricted space – often a single room with a few free weights, a bike and a cross trainer. Leisure provision escalates from this entry level to include more machines, changing and shower facilities, to sauna and plunge pools and showers, and ultimately swimming pool areas at the top end.

At the top end, spas are often central to the marketing of a lot of hotel strategies,  providing recurring revenue streams adding to the seven day, round the clock revenue potential of your business.

Adding spa facilities to your hotel offering does the following:

  • Creates a competitive advantage against other local hotels leading to increased bookings / occupancy (and reducing the temptation to discount).
  • Enhances the overall guest experience, leading to positive feedback and reviews which are critical to online marketing.
  • Keeps guests on site, therefore spending their money in your bar, restaurant etc. rather than somebody else’s.
  • Creates referrals and recommendations. There is no better source of business than word of mouth from a satisfied customer.
  • Adds the purchase of spa-related accessories and consumables.
  • Provides a defined targeted marketing opportunity for ‘spa breaks’.

Well-designed hotel leisure facilities offer a range of income streams when you consider the potential users. You might offer several gym memberships packages for off peak, on-peak, older visitors, hotel guests, corporate memberships, classes, fitness classes, baby swimming lessons and more.

 

Further reading:

Why the time is right to invest in your hospitality business.

A mixed use hotel fit out finance case study.

Why is investing in your hotel kitchen a good thing for your business?

Why investing in your bars and dining areas are good for your hotel business?

 

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Why is investing in your hotel function space a good thing for business?

Functions and events bring a whole different dynamic and audience to your venue. Using hotel function space for wedding business, birthday and other milestone occasions are an accepted way for independent hotels to improve revenue.

But considering business audiences can truly turn your venue into a seven-day operation and give you countless opportunities to realise additional revenue and reduce your overheads.

Opening up hotel function space for mixed use.

One successful approach may be to make your venue available to business networking groups. There are several national organisations always looking for quality locations and localised groups looking for regular breakfast, lunch and evening hospitality.

  • It provides regular ‘off peak’ custom. Some operate on a weekly or fortnightly schedule and can host anywhere from 20 to 80 delegates.
  • It keeps the kitchen and staff busy. Imagine that additional business every week in one corner of your venue.
  • It keeps bringing new people to your venue. This sort of approach also encourages a passive audience to experience and become advocates for your venue locally.
  • It stimulates further business. Attendees can be encouraged to leave reviews and some of these businesses return and run meetings and events of their own.

This is just one example of maximising hotel function space. Investment to support this kind of customer may come in the form of meeting room presentation, projection, boosted WIFI and meeting materials such as white boards, drop down screens and audio-visual equipment.

What other local businesses or groups could you accommodate during the day to increase function room usage and what investment would you need to achieve it quickly? What types of milestone events are you missing out on because a lack of the right facilities?

Further reading:

Why the time is right to invest in your hospitality business.

A mixed use hotel fit out finance case study.

Why is investing in your hotel kitchen a good thing for your business?

Why investing in your bars and dining areas are good for your hotel business?

 

Free download

Want the entire 9 Step ‘Invest for Profit – 9 ways alternative funding can impact your hotel and restaurant business and create growth’ guide? Grab your free copy here.

Why investing in your bars and dining areas are good for your hotel business?

Naturally people will spend more time in your bars and dining areas – and therefore spend more money – if the décor, visual impact and ambiance encourage them to do so. So, how can you improve the ambiance and grow your hotel business at the same time?

Typical alternative investment solutions for bars and dining areas include

  • Theming – it is important to consider the right look and feel, something that fits with the overall character of your property or area of the hotel.
  • Décor – how you choose to bring the theme to life in terms of colour, paints and wallpapers.
  • Carpets and curtains – an essential part of the design of bars and dining areas that will be attractive to customers.
  • Lighting – significant in creating an ambiance. What light is required spot lights, full lights, wall lights and where does lighting need to be installed?
  • Audio visual including TVs and sound systems – TVs are probably desirable in certain locations in bars; sound systems with location variability can help set the mood at different times of the day, evenings and weekends.
  • Furniture – tables and chairs go without saying – but what about bar stools, high tables, sofas, coffee tables and other furniture that might work well in transforming space and making it more enticing.
  • Art and wall furniture – don’t forget to consider what goes on the walls. People pay attention and it could just add that finishing touch, creating an environment in which guests will choose to relax.

Think about target audiences. If you are going for a truly mixed use feel – proceed with caution. Be sensitive to where the money comes from. Positioning as a family Sunday lunch venue but looking to provide sports programming can create a conflict if not delicately managed. Create different areas creatively and efficiently.

 

Further reading:

Why the time is right to invest in your hospitality business.

Why investing in mixed-use is perfect for your hotel business.

A mixed use hotel fit out finance case study.

 

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Want the entire 9 Step ‘Invest for Profit – 9 ways alternative funding can impact your hotel and restaurant business and create growth’ guide? Grab your free copy here.

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Why is investing in your hotel kitchen a good thing for your business?

In previous posts, we’ve discussed how specific investments can have a significant impact within a hotel business.  The hotel kitchen is the engine room of most hospitality businesses. Equipment specification and investment decisions are based on drivers such as compliance, reliability, flexibility, economy and environmental.

For example, investing in a wok burner to stage regular and authentic Chinese and eastern cuisine nights requires specialist funding.

Typical alternative investment solutions include

  • Ovens – bringing equipment up to standard, improving power and energy efficiency or increasing output.
  • Extracting and ducting and greasing equipment to ensure a busy modern professional kitchen works efficiently and whilst conforming to local environmental guidelines and not upsetting neighbours
  • Refrigeration – again bringing up to standard, meeting power and energy efficiency standards or simply increasing output.

Utilities are typically the third or fourth biggest overhead in a hospitality business so investing in any efficient equipment can make quite a difference to your bill – and could be something to shout about from a green perspective too.

Don’t forget how you can put your hotel kitchen centre stage.

There is a trend towards open kitchens, where customers can see what is going on, with accessible serving areas. Investing in this area might help you to premium price or certainly to sell special positioned and therefore more desirable tables.

 

Further reading:

Why the time is right to invest in your hospitality business.

A mixed use hotel fit out finance case study.

 

Free download

Want the entire 9 Step ‘Invest for Profit – 9 ways alternative funding can impact your hotel and restaurant business and create growth’ guide? Grab your free copy here.

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Why is investing in a mixed-use hotel business a sensible approach?

It’s likely you have some form of investment strategy when it comes to improving your business. However, before considering further or new investment, deciding on which areas to invest in and where to source funding, take a step back. A mixed-use hotel business is one of the best strategies to adopt.

The key to transforming the profitability of your hotel/restaurant business lies in thinking of ways to successfully use the space and the facilities on offer as optimally as possible.

If there are a wider number of uses for your hotel, it will be full more frequently which means it will be returning more revenue for continual re-investment and improvement.

Why is investing in a mixed-use hotel business a good thing?

  • You already have the infrastructure in place. It is being used and ready for increased use. The best way to increase revenue is to make better use of available assets.
  • A mixed-use hotel business allows you to build additional and quantifiable revenue streams.
  • A mixed-use hotel business helps owners and managers to access new and wider customer audiences. This might open up entirely new clusters at different times of day which may lead to repeat bookings, using facilities that might otherwise sit unused at certain times of day.
  • Optimising use of available space will directly impact on occupancy and revenue.

Impact on the kitchen

Firing up a kitchen costs £100s every day with the additional labour costs of having a chef not generating revenue if the dining room isn’t open until 6pm. As with other areas of the operation, if it is working harder it is making more from the facilities.

This may not necessarily be a direct contribution to the bottom line, but it certainly impacts overheads.

Impact on space and room bookings

Space is a valuable and expensive commodity in hotels and restaurant businesses. Empty, dormant rooms are a problem and need to be maximised. As a hotelier you are paying for a fair amount of space, either in rent or in energy costs, so consider transforming dead areas so they begin to make a return.

Whilst there are benefits to a marginal costing model on selling guest rooms and filling the hotel, discounted hotel rooms are less likely to deliver the type of guest with high discretionary spend.

Alternative finance looks at the sorts of things banks don’t always finance. They prefer the solid value of bricks and mortar. Specialist alternative finance providers will see the commercial value of business-critical assets, including fit-out.

Further reading:

Why the time is right to invest in your hospitality business.

A mixed use hotel fit out finance case study.

 

 

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Want the entire 9 Step ‘Invest for Profit – 9 ways alternative funding can impact your hotel and restaurant business and create growth’ guide? Grab your free copy here.

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Why the time is right to invest in your hospitality business.

The UK hospitality sector is worth £100 billion a year having grown at around 6% over the last five years.1 With over 200,000 businesses providing accommodation and food services in the UK, it is more important than ever to provide the best possible experience if you are running a hospitality business.

Investing to grow is a well-developed strategy in the hospitality space, an investment cycle now reduced to around three years.

But what to invest in… and how?

There are the obvious bricks and mortar investments that the banks will help you with.

But what about kitchen equipment, bar backs, bar and dining room furniture, lighting, room theming and artwork, extensions, fit out, leisure facilities and the less obvious things such as carpet, lighting (interior and exterior), curtains, blinds, soft furnishings, reception areas?

PwC also recently reported that 2018 has been a boom year for the hospitality sector. 

There has never been a better time to invest in your hospitality business. And the power of alternative funding models – puts business growth right in the palm of your hand.

https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2018/06/uk-hospitality-sector-could-be-worth-100-billion-by-the-end-of-2018-despite-closures-and-staff-shortages/

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Hotelympia 2018 exhibition review

Hotelympia 2018 exhibition review

As a first-time exhibitor and visitor, and as a relative novice to exhibitions, there was plenty to see and plenty to learn at Hotelympia 2018. This post explores what we saw and offers our view on the best stand experiences.

Hotelympia, which runs in London every two years and next appears in March 2020, welcomed over 750 exhibitors and thousands of visitors.

I will freely acknowledge that the Fit Out Finance stand won’t win any design awards, though fortunately our stand did its job as a meeting point for both suppliers and customers with an interest in funding.

Fit Out Finance at Hotelympia

Using my own criteria, I thought it would be interesting to evaluate my personal top 5 stands of the show.  This chart isn’t compiled based around glitz and budget but around the buzz, the passion of the stand holders and the products on display themselves.

In traditional reverse order, here they are:

 

NUMBER 5:  Food & Drink Wales

Food and Drink Wales at Hotelympia

With some bias, an interesting and diverse stand of Welsh food producers – from wine to cheese, from cured meats to salt. Foods could be tasted, there were lots of demonstrations, it was well branded at height making it very visible and they used big screens too.

And they had Welsh cakes, which must make them a winner.

 

NUMBER 4: Beverlecs

Beverlecs at Hotelympia

Hidden away at the back of the show was Beverlecs; a father and son business who have dedicated themselves to creating a single solution to many of the front of house issues facing hotel bars.

Exhibiting pre-launch this unassuming stand – with a solitary demo on display – was attracting attention from the right people, including key people in some major chains. Definitely a case of passion winning over budget! Lesson: Understand your niche and deliver specifically for it.

 

NUMBER 3:  Blue Ice Machines

Blue Ice Machines at Hotelympia

Again, nestled at the rear of the Professional Kitchens section, the positioning didn’t seem to adversely affect Blue Ice Machines who had a steady footfall of interested customers, many of whom made purchases on stand during the show.

The buzz was in no small part down to the enthusiasm and cheer of owner, Mindy Rubin who was pretty much constantly engaged in discussion with interested parties.

The stand budget was mostly spent on demo machines (and free ice cream) – which evidently had a magnetic effect.

 

NUMBER 2: KMS

KMS at Hotelympia

The buzz for KMS came mostly from the display of innovative technology including smart mirrors and digital coolers, all of which were displayed on a stand designed to take potential clients through the customer journey from arrival – EV chargers and external weatherproof digital displays –  to departure. Bright, colourful and technologically enticing.

 

KMS owner Emlyn Cole-Jones has built the business over 15 years and was on stand for much of the show. A recurring theme perhaps?

 

NUMBER 1: Rationale

Rational at Hotelympia

OK, so this clearly is a big-budget show stalwart, who splash out on pole position, staff and top-notch display equipment.

However, they use the budget well to create the biggest, most consistent buzz of the show.

The star of their own show has to be the man who I now know to be Alan Evans – part entertainer, part chef, part cooker salesman. Alan takes the selling of industrial cooking equipment to a whole new level! Add to that the fact that their food is superb, Rationale definitely have to take top spot on this chart!

 

And a word on competition

From a Fit Out Finance perspective, the only putative competitor, Grenke Leasing, was on the stand next to us. In reality though, they aren’t a true competitor, they are a principal lender whose focus is wholly on IT and tech, which constitutes a small percentage of what we do at Fit Out Finance. As is often the case, far from competing we shared insights and even possible enquiries over the four days.

 

Summary

We had a rewarding, if exhausting, time at Hotelympia, spending most of the four days of the show engaging with fellow exhibitors (who it transpires could be a lucrative route to market) as well as interested delegates.

We’ve come away with a much deeper knowledge of how the hotel sector works and will be even better placed to help ambitious independent hotel owners realise the hotel businesses of their dreams

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