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Are you opening a hotel soon? This New Year, adopt the correct prioritization approach in your hotel pre-opening roadmap.
Entering into the market with a brand new hotel comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. After all, hotel business development and planning can be highly demanding, especially during the pre-opening phase. As a hotel general manager, did you realize that opening a fully staffed hotel in 2017 without guests can put your entire investment at risk?
You need to plan your hotel project marketing and distribution strategies in advance. Make it a highly rewarding exercise with a flawless execution strategy. During the course of the exercise, amidst interim budgets, checklists and plans, you will bump into several roadblocks during your hotel’s pre-opening phase such as:
- Surprising operational issues
- Abrupt market dynamics
- Restructured strategy and approach
“More than 60% of project failures arise during the fifth phase – the pre-opening stage.” – PWC
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To achieve appropriate financial objectives and investment returns, you have to be highly observant during this period. This blog post will help you avoid common hotel pre-opening mistakes.
- Public Relations – the brand new placard for your hotel: Early promotion, especially during the festive season of Christmas and New Year can attract the attention of the right people. Information and images should be shared at various stages of construction so that people can stay updated. Create a buzz on the digital media with hot press releases and use it to your advantage. Your media package should be intriguing and your hotel’s vision and mission statements should come through clearly.
- Revenue management strategy is the key to success: The pre-launch process ensures that stakeholders are fully trained and can rightfully implement appropriate revenue management strategies through all the ancillary revenue streams. Key tools need to be in place to focus on a comprehensive 365-day demand calendar to track the market segment. Implementation of a robust revenue management strategy should start immediately after the pre-opening phase. Planners such as demand calendars, segment strategies, pricing grids, competitive pricing surveys and a lot more should be developed. This might be detailed and time-consuming, but one has to run it in the last minute to ensure success.
- Distribution Manager: Contracting distribution channels is a time-taking task. Factors like OTA speed can slow you down. The whole process of signing a contract can consume anything between 1 to 3 months or even more. Besides, you have to convince distribution channels for sales. An advanced hotel channel manager can help you lead with a systematic online room inventory and rate management plan. An advanced distribution manager utilizes a 2-way XML connection and ensures properties of all sizes get to maximize their online exposure. This increases revenue and reduces the time and cost spent on inventory and rate updates.
- Reservation timeframe: If the website is live before the hotel opens, have an automated assistant to take inquiry details. After becoming more organized, calls from all the interested parties can be returned. Since the pressure to generate revenue is high, one has to ensure that the point of sales is well trained and ready to go right from day one.
- Sales: In order to attract business travelers, you should start pitching more. Accordingly, you have to schedule guest visits well ahead of the opening. Goodies like free coupons for coffee, special packages, and lunch discounts should be rolled out so that the guests can come over and know your hotel better. Sometimes, new hotels have a plus point that existing hotels fail to compete with! So introduce your potential clients properly to your services.
- Systems: Technology is a part and parcel of daily hotel operations, and you will soon release the same! Systems such as PMSs, Web Booking Engines, CRSs, GDSs, Channel Managers, Rate Shoppers and CRMs are quintessential. You have to select the right provider, purchase these tools, and install the same at least 6 to 7 months prior to the opening of your hotel.
- Soft Launch: It’s never too late for a soft launch. Let your staff and systems taste the true waters and fine-tune the processes. Take a tour of the press and online space (minus operational pressure). Make sure that your sales staff invites corporate decision makers and converts them into ambassadors for your business. Overwhelming them will help you start word-of-mouth marketing for your brand.Organizational issues relate to the hotel’s corporate culture, policy and processes. Weak organizational structure can adversely impact pre-opening activities – Noordzij.
We always overestimate how easy it is to find a good management team. But when it comes to experience, owners know very well that opening hotels it is not easy. Moreover, start hunting for a highly qualified pre-opening team which can develop, implement and execute your strategies 12 months ahead of the opening date.
To summarize, your hotel pre-opening exercise should concern the following:
- Revenue Management Solutions & Tools
- Sales Representation
- Hotel Distribution Management
- Hotel Online Reputation Management
- Hotel Marketing
- Rate Shopping and Market Intelligence Expertise
- Social Media
- Hotel Website Development
- Search Engine Optimization
- Hotel Management
- Hotel Operations
- Finance & Cost Control
Seek the help of professional hospitality service and technology companies to plan out a strategy in advance. As we have already discussed, when it comes to opening a hotel, there is no room for lethargy. Your pre-opening budget should reflect the necessary investments in the aforementioned preps. Besides, your revenue management, marketing and sales teams need to start rationalizing the process well in advance. Adopt solutions which ensure that your inventory stays updated and bookings increase with time. Only then your hotel can achieve revenue maximization.
Start on time and aim for the best!