Now that we've finally closed the book on 2009, a year in the hotel industry that can only be described as dismal, let's hope the worst is over. Instead of making predictions that probably won't come true, here are five New Year's resolutions to help make the road to recovery smoother.
1 – Do not cut or hold rate just because the guy across the street is or because some expert tells you not to. This may be one of the biggest challenges facing hoteliers and the industry this year, so don't just respond to someone else. Make an informed decision and take everything into account, from any and all revenue management software to your franchise and management company's expertise to the guy across the street to your other competition to your historical data to the effect occupancy has on operational expenses to the opinions of the experts to your favorite bartender, if he or she happens to have a thought. Lowering rate may not increase demand, but holding rate may cost you customers. Understand the intricacies of this challenge and be proactive, not reactive.
2 – Keep promoting, whether it's with advertising, public relations initiatives, social media or by whatever means you have, now is definitely not the time to cut back on sales and marketing efforts.
3 – Speaking of social media, don't be afraid of new technology. By now we've all heard of Twitter, iPhones and apps, but there's sure to be more coming this year. Understand and embrace the new ways of communicating with your customers and employees.
4a – Keep your customers happy. You may have been forced to cut staff or amenities, but you can't let your guests leave unhappy. A satisfied customer is a loyal customer.
4b – Keep your employees happier. Be honest and straightforward, even if you have to cut hours or lay people off. Keep the lines of communication open and if you can't reward your best employees with financial bonuses or raises, do the little things like saying thank you, sending a personal note or buying the occasional lunch. Create a positive work environment and provide the tools they need to do the job. You're likely asking the most important asset you have to do more with less. Don't forget that and remember a happy and loyal employee is the most important thing to helping make No. 3 a reality.
5 – Don't be afraid to take a chance. Whether it's in a decision to renovate or build, or on pricing or a new marketing promotion, be willing to roll the dice. There are plenty of bumps ahead on the road to recovery, but those willing to take an alternate route may end up there first.