Launching a hospitality business — a hotel, motel, bed-and-breakfast inn, or bona fide destination resort — isn’t for the faint of heart. If you have the drive and resources to begin down this path, you’ll want to know a few things before beginning in earnest.
- Seasonality Matters
The hospitality business is notoriously seasonal. That’s particularly true for hotels and inns in recreation destinations, where cold winters, scorching summers, or biblical rainy seasons turn off the tourism tap for part of the year. There’s little to be done about this.
On the other hand, says Manitoba-based hotelier David Janeson, seasonality is a good excuse to close up shop for part of the year. If few tourists are headed your way anyway, there’s no reason to keep the lights on for them.
- Franchising Is a Viable Option
Buying into a hotel franchise is not cheap, but it may be a better deal than starting up from scratch. Plus, franchisees get the name recognition and pricing power of a known quantity, obviating the need for a long, anonymous slog at the outset.
To be clear, hospitality franchises aren’t totally turnkey — you’ll still need to put in a lot of work to make yours work. But you won’t be starting from scratch.
- Your Property Needs Differentiators
Even if you do choose to franchise, you’ll need to set your property apart from nearby competitors. That might be investing in an above-and-beyond breakfast buffet, or installing jacuzzi-style tubs in standard rooms, or offering complimentary turn-down services and welcome gifts. The goal is to get your guests talking — and sending their friends.
- You Need an Aggressive Marketing Plan
Even franchises don’t sell themselves. These marketing tips for hospitality startups might be geared toward techy enterprises, but that doesn’t mean you can’t crib a few notes. For instance, why wouldn’t you invest in a clean, responsive website? Or use social media best practices to attract and retain followers? Or sponsor regular giveaways to build buzz about your property? These efforts cost money and take time, but remember: they’re investments in your future.
- You Can’t Do Everything Yourself
Are you a decent delegator? If not, you’ll need to get better, and fast. Micromanaging and overscheduling are surefire ways to get into trouble as a hospitality entrepreneur. Hire well and have confidence in your team to get things done right.
Not for Everyone
It bears repeating: the hospitality industry is definitely not for everybody.
If you’re not sure you’re ready for a job that requires you to work long hours on weekdays and weekends alike, you might want to consider a different line of work.
If you need regularly planned vacations to restore your physical and mental health, you might want to consider a different line of work.
If you can’t stomach the thought of a feast-or-famine business cycle that exaggerates magnifies seasonality and changes to economic conditions, you might want to consider a different line of work.
You can make a dozen more arguments against opening a hotel or inn. And there are plenty more you likely haven’t thought of.
If you’ve asked and answered as many as possible and remained undaunted, more power to you. You’re among a hardy chosen few. There’s only one thing left to do: turn your hospitality dream into home-away-from-home reality.