Are you demanding enough of the spaces you own and have access to? How many times have you walked into empty hotel gyms, restaurants and meeting rooms, or oversized lobbies that seem to have no purpose in life?
How can you optimize these areas to their full revenue potential?
And, even when you are able to optimize a space operationally, how can you insure that you are able to acquire the customers you need to commercialize it effectively?

These questions all have answers. However, you need to be honest about how you can do this, and the effort that you can realistically place on direct versus indirect acquisition in your overall strategy.

It's Not All About Occupancy.        

Hotels today still rely on occupancy (the guests they already have onsite) to drive non-room-related revenue at their properties. Others have been successful in bringing in external parties by redesigning their restaurant offering, employing celebrity chefs, or creating co-working spaces to draw in more patrons. Some have recreated themselves as a ‘spa hotel’ or a ‘wedding hotel’, and while this can also be effective, these strategies often lack consistency and are exposed to dips and shifts in demand. All are at risk of losing out to “the next big thing”.                                                       
Increasingly, hoteliers are seeing the importance of being perceived as vibrant, particularly with the advent of lifestyle boutique hotels and Airbnb, which are taking a greater market share than ever before.
SACO’s Locke lifestyle aparthotel concept, for example, has been successful in attracting customers who crave the ‘whole-property’ experience—not just a bed. Locke aims to create an urban sanctuary for guests, connecting modern travellers and local communities together within mindfully-crafted spaces, where guests can choose to take part in the yoga, music performances and product launches on offer.

The rebrand that Mercure Hotels has undertaken is a further example of this, as the group seeks to create a differentiated, locally inspired look, feel and taste that varies throughout its hotels and immerses travellers in the customs of a region in an authentic way.
Ultimately, we know that pressure comes from multiple stakeholders—from owners, franchisees, GMs, brands, chains and management companies—to better maximize space, and accommodation providers that pivot towards these more experience-led offerings are in the greatest position. Yet, there is often a disconnect in how the success of this will be measured. Many still tend to lean towards traditional methods of tracking performance, such as occupancy, RevPAR, channel mix and department revenue targets, rather than look at their total property revenue accountability.
Think: customer first
To approach the trend, hotel owners and managers should:

1. Identify the space and opportunity available to them. Be bold in this regard as potential can exist within corridors, lobbies and even unexpected parts of hotel rooms

2. Be clear on the customer segment that you want to attract. A cohesive community is key to driving up average spend, and you want to be creating spaces that your customer is keen to use and feels comfortable in.

3. Be clear on your competition, and start to think about your competitive advantage when mapping out your ideal customer and product/service.

Once you know what your space will look like and who your ideal customers are, find them by:
  • Supporting your customer acquisition strategy with technology solutions that allow you to open up your platform and introduce partners that can distribute and sell these spaces effectively.
  • Thinking experience. How can what you are offering, including the technology you have used, allow you to create a great experience for your customer? Further, how can it allow you to retain those customers in the future and gain repeat business?
  • Letting your guests know the whole service being offered at your hotel. Train your staff to be proactive at cross-selling, and create the right KPIs to drive focus and success in your team. 
As consumer expectations evolve, and in the presence of greater competition, it’s important for hoteliers to look beyond occupancy to drive revenue. I encourage hoteliers to embrace the space within their properties, and I encourage our industry to move away from speaking about RevPAR and look to RevPAM (revenue per available square metre) as the more accurate measurement of how a hotel business is tracking.

Remember, you are a specialist in hospitality. There is no need to feel overwhelmed and undertake all of this yourself. In this process, it is crucial to pick the right partners, at all levels. On the technical front, this means insuring that you have a solid and open platform, and that those tools not only provide you with the agility you need to support your growth ambitions, but set you up for greater total profit moving forward.