10 Powerful Strategies To Turn Around A Distressed Hotel Quickly

lady with red pen drawing an upward curve financial model

Owning an independent hotel is a dream come true for many of us. It’s a place where we pour our heart and soul, aiming to create unforgettable experiences for our guests. However, the path to success in the hospitality industry can be rocky, with financial and operational challenges lurking around every corner.

The recent cost of living crisis has impacted many good hotel properties, as the leisure spend continues to fall, and corporate guests are either travelling less, or looking for more value accommodation for their people. The good news is that you have the power to turn things around! In this blog, we will discuss ten actionable steps tailored to independent hotel owners like you to help achieve financial and operational success.

1: Assess Your Current Situation
The first step on the road to recovery is to take a deep breath and honestly assess your hotel’s current state. Review your financial statements not just the bank balance or cash flow statement, but the P&L line by line, the balance sheet and asset register. Can you sweat the asset? occupancy rates and %, customer feedback, and employee morale. This will give you a clear picture of what’s working and what needs improvement. Remember, acknowledging the issues is the first step towards solving them. Get some external perspective. Often when we speak to owners, they only know what they know. Sounds obvious right? However, if you engage with a credible firm of advisors, they will have worked across many different property types, and will have picked up strategy, tactics and knowledge you don’t have.

2: Develop a Comprehensive Business Plan
A well-crafted business plan is your roadmap to recovery. Define your goals, both short-term and long-term. Consider factors like market trends, competition, and your target audience. Identify areas where you can cut costs, increase revenue, and improve guest satisfaction. Having a plan in place will help you stay focused and motivated throughout the turnaround process. Areas to really focus: organisational structure; are you carrying too many heads? Dynamic pricing through effective revenue management, the customer journey map (Hint: this starts at the moment BEFORE they book online) ensure there are touchpoints where a guest can part with their money BEFORE they check in.

3: Focus on Customer Experience
Happy guests are loyal guests. In today’s hospitality industry, providing exceptional customer experiences is non-negotiable. Train your staff to go the extra mile, often we hear, sorry, we can’t do this because… or hotel policy states… personalise guest interactions, and promptly address any issues. Online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations can make or break your reputation, so make sure each guest leaves with a smile.

4: Embrace Technology
In a digital age, technology is your ally. Invest in a modern property management system (PMS) that streamlines reservations, check-ins, and guest preferences. Implement online booking platforms and a user-friendly website to attract more guests. Leverage data analytics to understand customer behavior and tailor your offerings accordingly. Couple this with an updated EPOS system, this will streamline your food and beverage operation, and will enable you to have accurate gross profit calculations as well as the ability to have dynamic ordering processes, which will ensure valuable capital is not tied up in stock.

5: Control Costs
Trimming unnecessary expenses is a crucial part of any turnaround strategy. Conduct a thorough cost analysis to identify areas where you can cut back without compromising quality. Negotiate better deals with suppliers, manage inventory efficiently, and optimise staff schedules. Every penny saved contributes to your hotel’s financial health. Tech can help here too. Having a comprehensive time and attendance software partnered with a dynamic rota app will cut unnecessary wage costs.

6: Revamp Marketing Efforts
Marketing is the lifeline of any hotel, especially independent ones. Revamp your marketing strategies to reach a wider audience. Use social media, email marketing, and content creation to engage potential guests. Highlight your hotel’s unique selling points, whether it’s a historic charm, stunning views, or personalized service. Don’t forget to collaborate with local businesses to cross-promote.

7: Diversify Revenue Streams
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Explore new revenue streams to bolster your income. Consider offering special packages, hosting events, or renting out meeting spaces. Expanding into complementary services like a restaurant or spa can also attract more guests and increase their spending within your hotel.

8: Invest in Staff Training
Your staff is the backbone of your hotel, and their performance directly impacts guest satisfaction. Invest in continuous training to keep your team up to date with industry trends and best practices. Encourage a positive work culture, as motivated employees are more likely to provide exceptional service. This can be done both in-house, and externally through the apprenticeship levy.

9: Enhance Sustainability Efforts
Sustainability is not just a trend; it’s a necessity. Guests are increasingly conscious of their environmental footprint, so take steps to minimise yours. Implement energy-efficient practices, reduce waste, and source locally whenever possible. Highlight your sustainability efforts in your marketing materials to attract eco-conscious travelers.

10: Monitor Progress and Adapt
A successful turnaround is an ongoing process. Regularly monitor your hotel’s performance against the goals outlined in your business plan. Analyse the results, celebrate successes, and be ready to adapt when necessary. The hospitality industry is dynamic, and your ability to evolve with it is key to long-term success. By building 5 or six key KPI’s that drive most of the performance (both financial and non-financial) you can concentrate on the things that “move the dial” the quickest.

  • Occupancy %,
  • Wage %,
  • Food and Beverage Gross Margins %,
  • Linen costs per room,
  • Net promoter score and
  • Staff morale/happiness scores

Having the management team focus on a few things intensely, will stop them “running down rabbit holes” on issues that do not have much impact.

Owning an independent hotel can be challenging, but with the right strategies and determination, you can achieve financial and operational turnaround. Remember that every step you take toward improving your hotel’s performance brings you closer to your goals. Stay focused on providing exceptional guest experiences, controlling costs, and embracing innovation. In the end, your dedication and hard work will not only save your independent hotel but also make it thrive in the competitive world of hospitality.

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