hotel pre opening check listIn our last article on tips for pre-opening a hotel we focused on public relations, the website and SEO. Now we will develop a checklist with key points regarding revenue management, distribution, bookings, sales as well as the systems needed to accomplish your success story.
Read the first part
Yes, you have clear ideas, mission control, when should it begin? Your numbers pro should be part of the project from the very first moment. I will say even before the general manager (operations manager) becomes part of the project. He will be able to help you with the numbers as well as establish a real business plan for investors.
The implementation of the revenue management strategy should begin no later than 12 months before the opening. Segmentation strategies, demand schedules, pricing schedules, competitive pricing surveys and many more should be developed. This work is very detailed and time consuming. Establishing your strategy, your path to success, at the last minute is not worth taking risk, especially with such a high investment.
Controlling distribution channels is another task that takes longer than one could imagine. You do not only depend on your team, but also the speed of the online travel agency (OTA) introducing new properties into their system. The process of signing a contract and loading can easily take up to 3 months or more.
You must be ready for sales at least 3 months before the opening of an urban hotel, and 6 months if you have a resort in a summer destination. Tour operators contract at least 12 months in advance.
And do not forget the tedious task of convincing the distribution channels to contract your property and publish it live for sales even if you do not have your final permit (fire safety, etc.).
So, the hotel must be ready for sales at least 3 months before the opening and the website must be launched 12 months before. Who will answer the phone?
We recommend that you have an assistant taking note of the details at the start. We can call back interested people once we are better organized. But, from 3 months before the opening, the reservations call center must be operational.
This department is often considered operational, but it is a real sales office. Upon entering a new hotel on the market, we can not miss an opportunity to ask someone to book a room. The pressure is high enough to start generating income. Let’s make sure this outlet is well-trained and ready to go.
If your hotel aims to attract business travelers, we must start soliciting all the local businesses that can drive guests to the hotel. Organize daily visits to these companies from 9 months before the opening to keep them away from the hotel they currently use.
Give them coupons for coffees and pastries or discounts on lunch / dinner to invite them to visit your hotel. A new hotel has advantages over existing hotels and they can not compete with them. Introduce your services to your potential customers, including the restaurant, meeting rooms and banquet space.
If you also need international companies, MICE companies, make sure travel expenses are budgeted. You will need to send a sales manager to explain to travelers and MICE why they should choose your hotel.
Getting customers started is hard work!
Yes, you will also need technology. You will need a PMS, a web booking engine, CRS, GDS, Channel Manager, Rate Shopper, CRM. All must be selected, purchased and installed between 6 to 3 months before opening.
Sof t opening
D-day is coming and everything has to be ready. However, we often opt for the so-called ‘soft opening’ to open the hotel quietly. It allows staff and systems to be tested and refined.
In addition, it’s a great opportunity to appeal to a press and industry blogger to visit the hotel without the burden of operational pressure from a complete hotel. Reporters really appreciate all the help you can give them preparing a story about this new hotspot in the city.
Sales staff should invite corporate decision makers to test the hotel. Treat them like VIPs. Offer them dinner and wine, and turn them into ambassadors for your business. If you overwhelm them with an unforgettable experience, they will begin to make you known through word of mouth.
Recruit the team
We tend to overestimate how easy it is to find a good management team. Experience has shown homeowners that this is not the case. In addition, finding a highly qualified pre-opening team that has developed, implemented and executed your strategies is even more difficult. You will need to start recruiting this team 2 years before the opening to find the right people for the job and get them started on time.
As you can see, there is no time to waste when it comes to opening a hotel. Pre-opening must reflect the investments needed to make all these preparations. Do not see them as costs. On the other hand, see it as a part of your investment.
Revenue management, marketing and the sales team must start at least 12 months, sometimes even 18 months before the opening. Many homeowners think they are highly qualified managers and will be able to do the job in a much shorter time frame. But wait until the last moment and start 3 months before will be more expensive.
Do not put all your marketing budget in the grand opening. It’s only a day, and it will be impossible to reach enough potential business to fill your hotel in the long run. Marketing is a constant effort in the long run.
Opening a fully equipped hotel without customers puts your overall investment at risk. So, start on time!
Even better, start even too early and aim for superior performance …
Aarti Patel @ firstname.lastname@example.org