In the sad aftermath of the hideous Manchester Arena bombings, the hotel association in the area initially saw a softening of demand for rooms – but not for long.
Resilient tourists, visitors and families refused to be cowed, and were soon booking hotel rooms again, according to a report by analysts PwC.
It’s another sign that the hospitality industry in the UK remains remarkably robust, despite terrorist threats, Brexit uncertainties, and rising costs.
In fact, PwC’s forecast for 2018 predicts hotel occupancies could rise as high as 76% in London and 83% in the regions.
RevPAR – revenue per room – is also predicted to be on the up and up, by 2.4% in the capital and a slightly more modest 2% in the rest of the country.
And that’s also despite the fact that thousands of new hotels rooms were created across the UK in 2017.
How did it all go so right – and can it last?
Well, the weakest pound in 30 years was certainly a beneficial factor, bringing in the tourists and making Britain good value for money.
It’s unlikely that this will continue indefinitely, of course. And with UK inflation continuing to rise and potential interest rates threatening to cramp the spending power of locals, the hospitality industry may well start to feel a pinch as we venture into 2018.
Your 2018 hospitality management health check
With that in mind, if you are a hotel, restaurant or restaurant business, this is no time to rest on your laurels.
Instead, ask yourself these key questions to determine whether your hospitality management practices are really up to the coming challenge:
1) Do you know your guests well enough to offer a personal service?
2) Can your guests easily book rooms or tables online?
3) Is your hotel receiving good online reviews?
4) Do you have an effective loyalty programme?
5) Is any events space you have being well used?
6) Do you always have the right number of staff at the right time?
7) Are you managing waste and keeping supply costs under control?
8) Do you have an end-to-end view of your operations at all times?
9) Are you making decisions about your business supported by data?
10) Is your forecasting up to scratch?
Most of these are yes/no answers – and if you find you’ve answered no to many of them, your business is taking some serious risks.
For instance, take Question 6. The hospitality industry is already facing a shortfall of 60,000 workers a year thanks to the effects of Brexit, according to the BBC. You want to get full value from the ones you’ve got.
And Question 7. Costs running out of control is a major issue for hotels – and uncontrolled waste can be a shocking drain on resources. The green group Sustainable Brands studied a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand for a week, and found it was throwing away 70 tonnes of food a year.
Ouch – you can feel the bottom line hurting.
Inevitably, it will be the best-managed hotels in the UK that get through 2018 successfully, whatever the economic climate.
So how do you make sure your hotel is among them? We’ve identified 5 best practices you should start using now if you want to tip the odds in your favour.
1) Get up close and personal:
Hotel and restaurant guests are becoming more demanding, particularly digital-savvy millennials, who are used to being offered personalised services online.
A hotel PMS system or a restaurant EPOS system captures crucial information that allows you to create that personal service.
If you’re a hotel, it helps your guests to book effortlessly online, automatically pushing out your availability and rates to all the OTAs.
Then from the minute they arrive, your receptionist can greet them because he or she knows their name, and immediately cater for any preferences. For instance, they may prefer a ground floor room, or like to book a vegetarian meal.
With this kind of data at your disposal, you can also create effective loyalty programmes and email marketing, targeting offers where they will be likely to impress.
2) Get handheld:
With labour at a premium, a PMS system or EPOS will help you to roster efficiently and make sure you have the right number of staff available at the right times.
Hotel housekeeping staff can use a tablet linked to the system to let reception know when rooms are ready, and they can also quickly notify maintenance of any jobs that need doing.
In a restaurant and bar, serving staff can use handheld devices ranging from dedicated units to tablets or smartphones to take orders (sent direct to the kitchen) and payments at tableside.
Less running back and forth saves a huge amount of time – and the system discourages staff fraud because it’s not easy to cheat.
The overall result cost-saving efficiency, and value for money when it comes to your staff.
And the system even alerts you if a guest is posting an adverse social media review, giving you the opportunity to put matters right quickly before any reputational damage is done.
3) Go green:
70 tonnes of waste a year? I do hope you’ve not got to that state of affairs…but you’re still probably wasting more food than you want to.
Your EPOS system will help you identify best-sellers in the restaurant so waste is kept to a minimum – and it also helps you track your best procurement suppliers so you can always get advantageous prices.
4) Get digital for events:
Many hospitality organisations bring in valuable additional revenue these days from conferences and events.
Your property management system provides powerful sales tools that help you capture potential sales opportunities, and also help customers book their event online 24/7 – this is particularly useful for corporate clients booking last minute meeting space.
A good PMS can integrate with your back office systems such as accounts, too, for seamless billing.
5) Get into the cloud:
The best hotel management and EPOS systems these days are offering cloud-based facilities. This has a number of benefits, particularly if you are on multi locations.
For instance, it means you can access your system on a mobile device wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection.
With constant access to real-time data and comprehensive reports including forecasts, you and your managers can get the full picture about what’s going on in your organisation.
It means your decisions about the way forward are based on solid data – no guesswork required.
The luxury Hothorpe Hall hotel and venue in Leicestershire is one of the thriving establishments that is finding that harnessing the power of the cloud pays off.
The hall has been hosting meetings, group breaks, church functions and weddings for more than 30 years with its sister event village The Woodlands, and has built its reputation on exceptional service and helping make client events a success.
Maintaining that level of service across a complex, multi-site venue is tricky, but it’s also crucial to the venue’s continued success. And the answer has proved to be technology.
Josephine Taylor, Conference and Events Sales Manager, says their PMS is helping Hothorpe Hotel to stay ahead of the game: “The system is providing our team with all the management information that we need at our fingertips,” she says.
So it looks like it’s going to be a successful, Brexit-proof 2018 for Hothorpe Hotel and The Woodlands. Will you be taking a best practice leaf out of their book?