Three Essential New Year’s Resolutions for Hoteliers

The perennial failure of New Year’s resolutions has become more of a comical tradition than a cause for disappointment. Even with all the advice on how to make our resolutions stick (be specific, measure your progress, focus on the present), we tend to throw in the towel by Valentine’s Day or even earlier!. Researchers at the University of Toronto have traced this problem to something called “false hope syndrome.” We like how it feels to make those resolutions, but we’re not really prepared to see them through.

Fortunately for hoteliers, there are three very simple and realistic goals for 2016 that will have meaningful, measurable results. All it takes is a serious desire to be competitive and successful in the hospitality industry today. Don’t most hoteliers have that already?

1. I will remember what year it is

2016 is the year in which Search Engine Optimization (SEO) becomes even more important. The old keyword tricks are not  quite as effective as they used to be so, in order to climb the ranks in 2016, you’ll need to dig a little deeper.

This doesn’t mean you have to know everything about local packs, rich snippets, conversation rate optimization (CRO) and page tagging. Goodness knows you have enough on your plate. What you can do is learn the basic elements that help your cause: An active presence on social media, timely and personal responses to every customer review, and a content-rich blog. If you’re at a loss for what to write, or if running a blog seems like a waste of time, check out these hotel blogs highlighted by Forbes.

The truth is, peppering your static pages with keywords just won’t cut it anymore. Search engines reward you for being interactive, social, and educational in the virtual realm.

2. I will upgrade my digital imagery

We already know that visual input is a huge deciding factor in the choices made by consumers. The last few decades have produced extensive scientific research on the subject—and as consumers, we now see the fruits of that research on screens all around us. Everything is more visual.

In the case of hotels, it’s important to communicate facts through imagery. Prospective guests need to see the rooms, common spaces, amenities and staff for what they are.

But just sticking to the facts isn’t necessarily the best policy.

I’m not saying you should blatantly misrepresent your property in an effort to secure more bookings—but the imagery should aim for an emotional response. It should engage the senses and form a bond with the viewer. It needs to create an emotion in the viewer that can only be found at your property.

Don’t be fooled by that HD camera in your phone: Compelling results are much more likely with the help of a professional. Your location, design, and target market will be part of a discussion that influences the lighting, angles, colours and details. An investment, yes—but good one for 2016.

(If you want in-depth, technical information on how imagery helps hotels in particular, check out this article on 4hoteliers.com)

3. I will not lose focus of the real world

With all this talk of OTAs, SEO, SMO, pay-per-click and digital imagery, you may feel that more time is spent drifting in cyberspace than actually taking care of business on the ground. It’s true that digital demands form a bigger part of the hotelier’s workload today (even if you hire a digital marketing agency) and this is unlikely to change in the year (or century) ahead. But we mustn’t let the physical, material, real-world fundamentals of the business suffer. In short, we have to become more efficient at managing both virtual realty and, well, reality.

Making resolutions stick

Staff training plays a big part in supporting these resolutions. When your staff are given ongoing training, they come to believe more strongly in your vision and brand. They’re able to embody it more closely, and the customer experience improves as a result. This generates more positive feedback online, and allows more of the digital stuff to take care of itself. Sure, renovations can make a difference. Fresh paint, free wi-fi, fluffy pillows. But guest reviews tend to revolve around service, and all the bells and whistles in the world can’t help you if interactions between guests and staff are off-key.

Anybody can make resolutions but successful businesses always undertake careful l planning, steady execution and meticulous tracking, regardless of the month or year. All of that savvy advice on breaking things down into manageable parts may be a big giant cliché, but it does hold true for hotels wanting to make a change.

 It’s only a question of how much you want it.

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