Benefits of a Hotel Consultancy
by francesco d'acunto
Do you have a hotel and would like to optimise your facility to attract more customers and ensure an unforgettable experience? Hotel consulting could be exactly what you need. From the optimisation of your services to the efficient management of resources, through hotel consulting you can access a treasure trove of knowledge and experience.
This guide will examine the many benefits of hotel consultancy and how it can help refine and enhance your establishment.
From customised marketing strategies to optimising operational processes, we will explore how hotel consulting can be the springboard to your hotel's success.
If you are ready to push your establishment to new heights of excellence, read on to discover how hotel consulting can radically transform your hospitality business.
Introduction to hotel consulting
Is hotel consulting really necessary? I will be honest: absolutely not. Many hotels do not have a consultant or a consulting company (which are two different services) and probably do not need one.
The fundamental concept is that of time. Besides know-how, tools and investments, running a hotel takes time, a lot of time. And if you want to do it professionally then you cannot do without a fundamental activity: data analysis.
Whatever choice you have to make for the coming season, in fact, your only true support will be data. Whether you have to decide on the sales prices of a Suite or a Cocktail, or change your breakfast or even evaluate your cancellation and booking policies, the only sensible thing to do is to do meticulous analysis.
So, if you are the hotel owner and have a lot of time to dedicate to this activity, if you are willing to invest in tools that make your job easier, or if you have decided that your Front Office Manager or your Hotel Manager has enough time to collect and analyse (assiduously) a fair amount of data -and take the consequent decisions-, then you do not need a consultancy.
Conversely, if you believe that the idea of outsourcing some of your company's operational activities can benefit your company, then read on.
Understanding the Benefits of Hotel Consulting
A hotel consulting company normally works with a number of partners and this is the first advantage: having a broader vision.
The privilege of observing different Hotels, Managers, Heads of Reception and, in general, everything that goes on in daily operations, constitutes an enormous wealth of knowledge that is transferred to us and that we in turn transfer after processing. We are not confined to one microcosm: we travel every day.
A structured consulting company has a team of operational analysts who can work for your hotel 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, regardless of the individual's fate. If you have ever, at least once, lost an important employee for your organisation along the way, then you will understand what I mean. Consultancy, when done well, transfers know-how and best practices to your company, supports key figures in the hotel by supporting them on a daily basis, and all of this will remain the assets of the company and not of the individual.
And then there are some working tools (software, destination demand data) that could cost too much for an individual establishment and that a consulting company can more easily amortise.
But there is more. A consulting company normally works by objectives and results, but you are not bound by an employment contract: if you are not happy with the relationship you can always change it.
Key areas of hotel improvement
In which areas can a consultancy improve your hotel's performance?
Definitely distribution, sales and operational results. Selling 100 per cent of your rooms at a high price may seem like a major achievement but it is not always the case. Here we need data again: we need to know how much those sales cost us, whether they are consistent with the destination and our Competitor Set. If, in short, we have really achieved an excellent result or we could have done more and better.
But the contribution a consulting company can make to your hotel is not limited to sales, to Revenue Management. The sales price is only the last of the steps: first there is the product, i.e. the Hotel.
Sales Price and Brand Reputation, in fact, go hand in hand.
Have you ever analysed the semantics of your Hotel? Have you ever compared it with your hypothetical Compset? Have you ever taken the time to do so? Here, a consultancy company will, before talking about hypothetical increases in turnover, analyse the sentiment of your hotel and identify all areas for improvement.
If you wish, the work dynamics will also be analysed for the simple reason that time is often wasted or the results of sales strategies thwarted simply due to a lack of the right training for your hotel staff. Improving the basic processes of your hotel will definitely be a plus when you are supported by professionals specialised in hotel process management.
Imagine a better organised Front Office that has more time to dedicate to our guests...
The role of data analysis in hotel consulting
It would go without saying that a hotel should pursue a data-driven approach: decisions, especially those regarding sales strategies, cannot be made on the basis of an individual's instinct or personal opinions.
The problem, however, is that having reliable data is far from simple. Let us see why.
The first reservoir of data is obviously our management software but, as we shall see, we come up against numerous limitations.
First of all, it is necessary for the software to be used in a diligent manner, and this, in our experience, does not always happen (always due to training deficiencies), but perhaps the greatest limitation is constituted by the logic with which it was developed.
A report is in fact nothing more than a query on the Database: how many customers have left today?
Things start to get complicated when, for example, we need to know how long before arrival on average more expensive types are sold than cheaper ones. Or at what times of the year bookings with certain characteristics are finalised.
Even within the same software, the production value of a given time interval generated by two different reports may differ.
This phenomenon occurs simply because upstream of that report are the operating logics of the developers, with all the -normal- limitations that this entails.
To get around this problem, a consulting company can resort to the use of a data warehouse: a sort of large container that receives and stores all the data from the hotel's database and implements statistical analysis, reporting and data mining (extraction of useful information from a quantity of data) functions. The advantage is that in this way we can bypass the logic of the management software and implement those more useful to the cause.
Improving the guest experience through hotel consulting
That reviews influence a hotel's financial performance is certainly no mystery; the problem is the correct assessment of the approach (especially statistical) we should adopt to achieve an effective analysis of brand reputation.
If we want to rely on third-party websites to assess the reputation of our hotel, we will have to make do with a few standard parameters that are sometimes too generic and therefore of doubtful usefulness.
To really improve our guests' experience we need - as always - enough data and specially designed tools to monitor our brand. These software tools will not only allow us to go deep into, for example, the individual departments of the hotel, but also allow us to have a much larger sample, that is the totality of our guests.
Thanks to some specific functionalities we can stimulate complaints during the stay to prevent unenthusiastic reviews at departure, but, above all, we can benefit from a semantic analysis of our reviews and set up In-Stay or Post-stay questionnaires that will help us to constantly monitor the sentiment of our Hotel.
But it is not only with software tools that a consulting company can help you improve your guests' experience.
Working closely with experts in Food & Beverage or Housekeeping, a consultancy company can also act in support of the hotel to improve reputation-critical services by transferring valuable know-how to property and service managers.
Harnessing technology for operational efficiency
A hotel needs a lot of technology to function: to distribute its inventory it will use a Channel Manager and a Booking Engine, it will need a website, management software, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to manage communications, probably reputation management software.
If some activities are not outsourced to a consultancy firm, then to manage the pricing diligently, it will need at least a Rate Shopper (to compare one's sales prices with competitors) and, hopefully, RMS software (to analyse historical and current data).
All this technology can be a great ally or in some cases slow down or paralyse the growth process of a hotel.
When one relies on a hotel consultancy company -normally-many of these tools are already part of the company's assets, but more importantly, so is the competence to exploit them profitably. Thanks to a broader vision of the individual, a consulting company will be able to suggest the tools with the best price-quality ratio and those that will actually help the hotel to grow. Again with the support of specialists, the performance of the hotel's site will be analysed to make it more profitable.
Case Study: Successful Transformations in Hotel Consulting
At this point, the question arises: by how much can a consulting company grow?
In 2017, we started following a 4* hotel with a turnover of € 946,000. In 2018, without any major structural investments, the hotel invoiced € 1,784,750 and increased its production by 88%.
This year, the same hotel, after massive self-financed investments, invoiced over 4 MLN.
Another hotel that we have been following since 2019 invoiced just over 3 MLN and today, thanks to major investments and the incredible vision of the owners, invoices almost 10 MLN.
I can tell you with a hint of pride that the most rewarding thing on a professional level is to still be at the side of these Hotels and to continue relentlessly to share ever bigger and more exciting challenges.
Finding the right hotel consulting company
If you have decided to take the 'big step', now all you have to do is choose a hotel consulting company and I want to help you focus on the right parameters to evaluate.
There are (a few) consultancy companies specialising in the mid- to high-end leisure sector (luxury), others in non-hotel management, and many 'generalist' consultants ranging from Holiday Resorts to Guest Houses.
As in all other sectors, also in hotel consulting having specific know-how in a given sector is an added value.
Carefully analyse which hotels are in a consultancy company's portfolio to see how closely they match your structure and feel free to contact some of them for comparison.
Once you have identified a company, assess its professional history, ask for case studies, find out what professional skills it has and what tools it has at its disposal.
Evaluate the company's costs, of course, and do not overlook the presence of any contractual conditions that prevent you from interrupting the relationship for long periods or provide for significant exit penalties.
Last piece of advice. Do not make the mistake of thinking of consultancy as a cost for the company and never make such a delicate and strategic choice solely on the basis of economic considerations. If a partner is really able to help your hotel grow, then it will simply be a short- to medium-term investment normally linked to results that are always measurable.
Conclusion: The future of hotel consulting
Having ascertained that to run a hotel in a professional manner today requires specific skills in many areas, all that is left is to choose whether to organise everything in-house or to think about having a consultancy company support you.
Everything depends solely on the prospects of the owner.
Miracles, even in hotel management, are still difficult to observe. There is no such thing as explosive growth without investment, training, the desire to innovate and grow.
Today, thanks to my wonderful job, I have the privilege of observing hotels that every year surpass themselves, innovate, improve and continuously challenge themselves. Others, on the other hand, lie lazily seated in the armchairs of past glories, continuing to live off the wind.
Consulting is a travelling companion, sometimes short, sometimes longer.
It is enough to question yourself.