How is your hotel different?You’ve probably noticed that there are quite a lot of hotels out there. The only way that you can get your voice heard, is by offering something different, and becoming the best at whatever it is that you’re specialising in.

As with any business, it’s important to have a niche, and to stick with it. Try and appeal to everyone, and you’ll be competing against every hotel in the country. Specialise in a certain area, be clear and confident about what it is that your hotel does best, and you’ll become a big fish in a much smaller, and much more lucrative pond.

The only way to avoid drowning in the competition, is to have a thorough understanding of who you want your hotel to appeal to, and why they will choose your hotel over the competition’s.

Many hotel owners struggle with this, as they automatically assume that their hotel is just the same as countless others. In truth, every hotel offers something different and, with a little consideration, you’ll be able to identify exactly what it is that make your hotel unique. You can then exploit your uniqueness to create something that stands out from the rest of the crowd, and makes your hotel the only logical choice for your audience.

What do you offer right now?

The first step is to dig in deep and think hard about what you’re actually selling to your customers, at this moment in time.

The obvious answer is a hotel room. It’s much more than that, when you really think about it, however. There’s a reason people are choosing your specific hotel room over every other room in the world.

You could simply ask your paying customers why they book with you, but chances are you’ll already know, if you sit down for a while and think about the practical reasons, and chat to a few of your staff members.

• Are you close to a major venue/attraction?
• Are your rooms unbelievable value?
• Is there a great city or beautiful scenery nearby?
• Are your facilities second to none?
• Is your hotel in an attractive building?
• Do you have great business facilities?

Once you’ve thought about the practical reasons that cause people to book with you, you can then think more about the more emotional elements of what it is that your hotel is providing for your customers. Don’t think about what you’d like guests to feel, but think about what they actually do feel when they book a stay with you.

  • Are they excited by the adventure?
  • Is it a romantic place to stay?
  • Do your staff make guests feel like family?
  • Do they simply see your hotel as a base for doing other things?
  • Do they love the gorgeous views or setting of your hotel?
  • Is it an opportunity to spend time with the kids or relax and leave a stressful desk job behind?
  • Do they feel like royalty for one weekend only, while enjoying your indulgent spa facilities?

Once you’ve had a think, try and sum up your findings in a sentence or two.

So perhaps you offer a ‘stress-busting break in the rural idyll of the Lake District National Park, where customers can come to escape their soul-crushing jobs, and reconnect with the beauty of nature.’

Or maybe it’s ‘a chance for business customers, who are constantly on the move, to slow the pace and indulge in a few finer touches. They still having access to great business facilities, if they need to effortlessly polish off their presentations, however.’

What’s your experience?

What this all comes down to, is the fact that the product you’re actually selling is an experience – far more than simply a hotel room. An experience is also far more marketable than just a hotel room.

If you can identify what your experience currently is, and why your current customers are booking, you can then use this as a focus moving forwards.

Compare your findings with the customer personas that we made earlier. Do their needs match up with what your hotel’s offering? If not, you need to make changes.

The key is to align your ‘experience’ with the needs of your preferred customers. Do this, and your hotel will stand out from the crowd, and generate long term, loyal customers.

– image courtesy of Stuart Miles /