10 Things To Do When Your Hotel is Slow by Rupesh Patel
Must-do’s when your hotel is dead
Imagine your hotel completely full, all year long (awesome and scary at the same time!).
100% occupancy would be nice, but in reality, more than 95% of hotels have rooms available throughout the year. This includes off-peak periods, a.k.a. your “slow season”.
You know that precious time when guests aren’t demanding and screaming at you. That moment when you think you actually might get a day off. The times when you look at your daily flash reports and almost go into a panic. Yeah, we’ve all been through it.
The slow season doesn’t mean you close doors and go on long vaca. It’s a perfect time to catch up and improve.
Here are my top 10 things to do when your hotel is slow.
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1) TRAIN YOUR STAFF
Most hotels never even get a chance to train their staff more than once a year, some never train at all. When your slow season is approaching, plan an all-staff training. Here are my successful tips for training:
- Include everyone (not just department heads).
- Plan 3-4 weeks ahead, giving everyone ample time to schedule in.
- Training on customer service, guest engagement, reviews, guest feedback, online/social media, human resources, front-desk selling, reservation call in-take, and culture.
- Bring FOOD – The best way to entice and keep your team engaged during training is to feed them.
- Make sure everyone is taking notes and sharing ideas. Provide pens and notepads (this is my pet-peeve, you MUST come to our meetings with something to take notes on!!).
- Cross-train all positions. Cross-train, so that cheerful housekeeper can fill-in for that sick breakfast host.
- This is also a great time to go over emergency SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures).
What other topics can you include in training? Add your comments below the article.
You’ve talked about replacing carpets for years, but made excuses. Now your competition has better rooms than you. Guess what? Your slow season is the perfect time to knock out capital improvements your hotel desperately needs and deserves.
There’s no reason to be shutting rooms down when you’re busy. Do it when it’s slow. Plus, I’m sure you don’t want to go into your next busy period hearing the same old complaints, do you?
Here are some insights to consider:
- Your slow season is the perfect time to start a big renovation or to complete your PIP (Property Improvement Plan).
- Include a renovation plan into your budget.
- Do a partial renovation due to budget or resources.
- Make sure all approvals, designs, materials, labor, etc, are ready and available to start the very first week of your slow season.
- Stay on top of things to complete on time and include extra time for setbacks.
- Always stay in touch with your vendors, contractors throughout the project.
- It’s up to you to stay on track, so open communication is key. Do not assume.
- Update your guests of your renovations to prevent complaints and bad reviews.
- Most popular renovation items include flooring, furniture, lighting, plumbing, vanities, TV’s, mattresses, and bedding.
Read my article: Things You Need to Do After a Renovation
3) CATCHUP ON PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE
I know, your hotel has been extremely busy to do touch-up paint, shampoo carpets, change smoke detector batteries, and more. Well, low occupancy is coming and it’s the perfect chance to set aside time for your maintenance team to complete those tasks that have been getting pushed off their lists. Complete these items during your next slow season:
- Make a list of PM items
- Build a “Crash Cart” – It’s basically a cart with everything you need to repair all PM items for one room. This way your maintenance team is not running around getting items/supplies.
- Rooms: Clean a/c filters, bulbs, touch-up paint, remote batteries, smoke detector test, door lock update/batteries, case goods touch-up, A/C cleaning, carpet shampoo, etc.
- Boiler check, laundry room systems check, railings and balcony checks, elevators, life safety checks, pool systems, kitchen hoods/vents check/cleaning.
- Deep cleaning – pull furniture, get under bed frames, clean behind frames/mirrors.
- Vacuums are thoroughly cleaned with fresh belts and filters.
- Check all brand requirements and standards are up to date and in place.
- Do an inventory of maintenance supplies. Order back up supplies.
- Set thermostats accordingly.
- Make sure all lights are off.
- Adjust timers for daylight savings.
4) DOUBLE DOWN ON LOCAL MARKETING
I have to confess, when it’s our slow season, I start getting super anxious about our occupancy. I’m sure you’ve been there too! We’re ready to take almost anything that even smells like a guest. Heck, I’ll almost turn our hotel into a pet boarding facility if I have to (ha! – just kidding!!).
When it’s slow you have to take advantage of all the local businesses you’re missing. There are local businesses that need your hotel, but the connection hasn’t been made. It’s your job to go out there and grab that easy-to-get business. A simple call or visit could turn into some lucrative revenues. Here are some local marketing strategies you can take advantage of today:
- Contact surrounding apartment complexes to capture all sorts of room nights, including displaced rented, apartment not ready, families of renters, and more.
- Visit your local hospital and offer a special rate.
- Your local Red Cross may have displaced residence that needs accommodations.
- Pay a visit to local campgrounds and RV parks. You never know when their systems fail or rain floods campers out.
- Bring donuts and coffee to local fire, police, and EMT stations. Always nice to get on their side, especially when you need help!
- Go to all the local cars, trucks, and tractor-trailer repair shops. When parts don’t come in, they’ll need a place to stay.
- Local gas stations are a great way to build a referral business.
- Visit AAA offices or welcome centers.
- Optimize your online marketing with Google, TripAdvisor, and other OTA .
- Make sure your pictures online are the latest, high-res, clear, and distributed across all channels.
Have suggestions of what else can be done locally? Comment below.
5) GET CREATIVE
Most GM’s I speak with say they’re not creative. This is so far from true.
You were creative when you were a child, what happened? Did you just wake up one day and lose it?
Nope, everyone’s creative, including YOU.
Some people just need a little less time and focus when they’re being creative than others. Have a little patience and your creative mind will open up. OK, enough of this mumbo jumbo stuff.
Getting creative is thinking about how you and your team can do things differently. Do things that may surprise and delight your guests. Do things that go outside the boundaries of hotel biz. Who said we needed work shifts from 7 to 11, 3 to 11 and 11 to 7?? Someone made that up and others copied.
Do you get my drift? Change it up. Get creative.
Maybe your staff will love the change. Maybe you get their buy-in. Maybe you let them come up with ideas. Perhaps you borrow ideas from other industries and make them your own?
This section is about individualism, be yourself. Don’t follow where everyone else is going. Create your path and let others follow you.
Here are two creative tools that will impress any arriving guest to your hotel:
Water Bottle Label Template – Printable (PDF)
Printable Templates – Candy Bar Wrapper Template – Printable (PDF)
Just try to be creative!
6) OPERATIONAL SAVINGS
OK, I’m going to keep this one short and sweet.
You buy stuff for the hotel on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.
Why not get better pricing for it. Break out your bills and compare them with another equal vendor. Heck, give potential vendors your invoice and have them shop it out for you. I’ve had the first-hand experience with many vendors that will creep up prices after a certain period. Keep them honest by asking for the lowest prices.
Re-negotiate pricing with your following vendors…
- Food Supply such as Sysco.
- Amenities supplies such as HD Supply or Guest Supply.
- Laundry liquids and supplies.
- Payroll admin rates.
- Merchant Services – credit card fee’s
Who else can you ask for a better price from? Comment below.
7) DO INVENTORY
Do you actually have enough supplies?
Is your storage room stocked with enough linens? Or are you running around every time supplies are missing?
Well, if you answered “No” or “I don’t know”, it’s time to do an inventory of your hotel’s soft-goods.
Here are some items you should inventory for record-keeping, budgets and staying sane during the peak season:
- Inventory towels & linen.
- Count your maintenance repair supplies.
- Keep track of office supplies.
- Electronics such as TV’s, AC’s, and more.
- Inventory your in-room amenity items, such as coffee makers, hairdryers, ironing boards/ irons.
- Keys, hard and electronic (good time to re-key or refresh your set)
What else could be inventoried at your hotel? Comment below.
8) PAYROLL EFFICIENCIES
When your hotel’s busy, we sometimes let an extra few hours slide. We let it slide because we’re making money! We let it slide because we want our service to be top-notch!
But when it’s slow, we need to step on the brakes and look at efficiencies. The first place most hotels look at is payroll, one of the largest variable costs that can be trimmed. Payroll efficiency doesn’t mean cutting service all-together. It means creating a balance.
Here are a few things you can do to create payroll efficiencies during your slow season.
- Have the GM or managers work shifts
- Watch your minutes per room in housekeeping like a hawk!
What else can you recommend hotels do with payroll? Comment below.
9) KEEP LEARNING
Most people think when they’re schooling is done, they’re done learning. FALSE!
To be the best person you can be, you need to keep learning. So why not learn a new skill or brush up on hospitality habits during slow times.
Here 10 things you can do to keep your mind fresh and productive.
- Listen to hotel podcasts. – No Vacancy Podcast with Glenn Haussman
- Read trade magazines.
- Learn what’s hot in the industry via online articles.
- Follow hospitality influencers and brands to see what’s trending.
- Ask other hotel professionals questions about how they do things.
- Read hospitality, customer service, sales & marketing books.
- Take hospitality courses.
- Learn from webinars.
- Your local Chamber of Commerce or CVB is a great resource for learning.
- Get certified, CHA, SafeServe, etc.
10) IMPROVE YOUR REVIEWS
By now you know how important online reviews are for any business, especially for your hotel. Almost every single day guests tell our hotel staff..”We stayed with you because of your great reviews”. People are reading reviews and making booking decisions based on your hotel online reviews.
So why not come up with a solid plan in your slow season.
Here is what my hotels do to get more positive online reviews and you should too!
- Every single employee at your hotel needs their own personalized business card. If you don’t have them, get these cards here.
- After providing exceptional customer service, hand out business cards, and ask for reviews.
- Create a memorable check-in experience.
- Get feedback on how their stay is going and if there’s anything you can do to make their stay more enjoyable.
- Get feedback at check-out – “Mrs. Smith, How was your stay? What is one thing we can do to improve?”
- If they were happy ——> ASK FOR REVIEWS.
- Send post-stay email thanking them for staying with you.
- Mail hand-written cards thanking them and looking forward to seeing them in the future.
- Ask your most loyal and favorite guests to post a review. I’m sure they would do it right away!
- Set goals for staff.
- Implement an incentive program for staff. Every time their name is mention in a positive review, they are rewarded.
Do these 10 things while you’re slow and reap the rewards when it picks back up.
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What else could hotels do in the slow season? Comment below.
Have a super successful day!
About Rupesh Patel
Hi! I’m Rupesh Patel, Hotel CEO and Founder at SmartGuests.com, a U.S. based company that helps businesses like yours, improve guest interactions by implementing customer service training, strategies, and marketing tools. My hands-on experiences and creative ideas have been featured in industry magazines, websites, books, and blogs. I’m not a writer, just sharing ideas! Today, I’m here to share my passion for entrepreneurship, customer service, and marketing with you.
Connect with me LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rupeshpatel1/
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