Designing for Customization:
Using Operations to inform Renovations in the Hospitality Industry
Hotel design and layout has always been a major factor in the guest experience, operational sustainability, and overall business success. During the pandemic, new threats emerged to conventional travel lodging: the “staycation,” online vacation rental, and adventure stays — think camper vans, luxury treehouses, and even glamping in covered wagons. Now agile hotel owners are increasingly focused on creating unique and memorable experiences for guests, renovating and building hotels with enough draw to be destinations in their own right. This is being achieved through innovative architecture and design, creative use of space, emerging technology, incorporation of local attractions, sustainability, and hotel features that prioritize health and safety — think touchless technology, enhanced air filtration, and antimicrobial materials.
As hoteliers seek to create these sustainable, technology-enabled, unique, safe spaces that cater to modern travelers, the field of emerging trends can be a lot to navigate. Customization is key. But, even operators with the best resources have practical constraints: operational, financial, temporal, spatial, and otherwise. Here are some practical strategies savvy operators are using to optimize the future of hospitality.
Guest Satisfaction Surveys
Guest satisfaction surveys have long been an important tool for hospitality businesses to understand their guests’ experiences. Beyond rating overall satisfaction, room cleanliness, staff service, and other factors related to past stays, surveys can also be used to identify preferences for future improvement. They can be tailored to the hotel’s clientele, and designed to validate (or exclude) planned improvements. Although it goes without saying, survey results can (and should!) be incorporated into future renovation strategies, and supported by design decisions. As David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby says, “the most important thing is to listen to what your customers want, then give it to them.”
Room Occupancy and Revenue Analysis
Beyond surveys, hoteliers use a variety of analytics, such occupancy rates, average daily rates (ADR), and revenue per available room (RevPAR) to understand business performance. By tracking these metrics over time, operators can gain valuable insights and make data-driven decisions to improve their revenue and profitability. They might use the data to optimize pricing strategies. They might also use the data to identify trends in guest behavior and customize accordingly. For example, if hotel performance is consistently elevated on certain weekends during the year, the operator may identify local events or attractions that draw travelers to the area, and optimize the guest experience to coordinate with the draw factors.
Website analytics is a crucial aspect of marketing. It involves tracking and analyzing website traffic, user behavior, and conversion rates to optimize marketing efforts. By understanding visitor behavior, web analytics can help hoteliers improve the user experience on their website. The information can also provide insights into general guest preferences and priorities that can inform operations and design decisions. Which 3D tours get more views: the lobby, or the guest rooms? Do website visitors view the hotel restaurant menu as often as they look at the local attractions page? Do they engage the automated chatbot and online booking tools, or look for a phone number on the “contact us” page? How do these behaviors reflect guest preferences? By leveraging website analytics, hoteliers can use data to prioritize strategic improvements to the hotel, and their website.
Staff Recruitment, Scheduling, and Training
Staff recruitment, scheduling, and training are important aspects of managing a successful hotel. It’s critical to work within practical restraints, such as labor costs, while also having the right kind and quantity of staff to offer guests an elevated experience. Effective staffing involves demand forecasting that accounts for seasonal demand, special events, and employee availability. It also involves ensuring that the staff is appropriately trained and scheduled to cover different shifts and roles. Many hotels use staff scheduling software to automate the process. These tools can help managers create schedules that meet both customer demand and employee availability, while also providing real-time updates on staffing levels, shift changes, and other important information. Effective staffing can also help hotels control labor costs by avoiding overstaffing during slow periods and reducing the need for overtime or additional staffing during busy periods.
Effective inventory management is critical to ensuring the right amount of inventory to meet demand, while avoiding overstocking which can lead to waste and increased holding costs. Best practices for receiving, storing, and rotating inventory ensure that products and materials are of high quality and in good condition. Inventory management can also help hotels make data-driven decisions about things like guest services and menu offerings. By analyzing inventory data, operators can identify which products are most desired by guests, and make informed decisions about which products to offer and how to use them in a way that best elevates the guest experience.
Guest surveys, occupancy and revenue analysis, website analytics, staffing, and inventory can all provide insights into the guest experience. They can — and should — all be considered as part of a holistic strategy to inform hotel operations and prioritize renovation decisions. Would you like help considering the “big picture” for your next renovation? Contact us today!