Ideas for hoteliers, guesthouse and B&B owners: How to downsize without compromise

Many hotels and other accommodation providers are looking to cut costs as the travel slump continues. Hotel News Now published an article listing 16 sensible cost-cutting measures.  Aimed at offering luxury accommodation providers ideas for how to effectively downgrade their facilities, many of the ideas can be applied to the full range of lodging options.  Read the full article by clicking here, or scroll down for our edited version.

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Here are some key ways to make tangible changes, on a budget, that effectively communicate your new identity:

The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit’s Motor Bar features high design seating arranged for flexibility.

• Reposition restaurants to offer affordable menu options and a more casual atmosphere or vibe. Prompt conversation and telegraph a new attitude by mixing up table settings with a variety of styles of plates and even silverware.  Throw out large cumbersome dining chairs and replace with smaller scale chairs with a lighter feel. Or add stylish slip covers to existing chairs to give a fresh, casual look.

• Convert your bar at breakfast to a “grab and go” featuring specialty coffees and signature pastries.

• Add vibe to your lobby by replacing large sofas and heavy lounge chairs with more tempting “high design” seating arranged for flexibility.  Add engaging and whimsical decorative lighting. Consider an over-the-top window treatment as a signature focal point.

• Pump up the energy with appropriate upbeat music, selected specifically for parts of the day.
>• Change your artwork, particularly in public areas, to telegraph a more current sensibility. Add over-scaled framed mirrors to enliven dark corners.

• Make sure your property has wireless connectivity and sufficient coverage to ensure that guests PDA’s and cell phones work reliably. Too many hotels drive guests away from the building in search of reliable service and with them the F&B revenue and possibly that next booking.

Modern artwork conveys a current sensibility in the elevator lobby at the Stoneleigh Hotel in Dallas, Texas.

• Tap into the psychology of scent to appeal to your guest mix and telegraph that the changes in your hotel are positive. You can also change the scent by time of day, or day of the week. Starwood’s major brands led the way in this applied science with much success. To learn more, check out “Whiff! The Revolution of Scent Communication in the Information Age” by C. Russell Brumfield.

• Turn on the color. Paint is an inexpensive way to change the look of a space, add emphasis or render a space more casual. For example, don’t ignore or rip out outdated or overly formal stained wood paneling and moldings. Paint them a fresh, even bold, solid color.

• Replace tired or boring guestroom carpet with a punchy, over-scaled pattern.

• Replace outdated, heavy guestroom draperies with a patterned sheer with a colored black-out drapery behind. Depending on the pattern of your existing draperies, try moving the overdrapery to the rod closest to the window and adding a tone-on-tone patterned sheer in front. The resulting pattern play could be just the thing to enliven the room.

• Forget the bed throw, but add a whimsical, interesting decorative throw pillow on the bed. You will save money on throw replacement and cleaning as well as daily labor folding and placing the throw. Plus a pillow adds a new look to the bed for little expense.

• Eliminate the duvet cover (labor intensive) and instead triple sheet the bed, placing the down duvet between the top two sheets.

• As you reorder bed linen, take the thread count down a notch.

• Add color in the bathroom for a noticeable change. Contrary to conventional wisdom, using color on the walls of the bathroom injects personality into an otherwise bland space. Guests respond positively to the contrast with neutral tile and white towels and plumbing fixtures.

The Nines in downtown Portland, Oregon, is a good example of a hotel that’s undergone an effective and economical update.

• As you replenish stock, eliminate unappreciated amenities but make sure what you retain is great quality. Even changing the size of containers or soap bars but maintaining a high quality product can save money. Many guests will appreciate having amenities sized for short stay use rather than knowing that underused items will end up in a land fill.

• In this market, the upper-upscale segment has benefited from what Mark van Hartesvelt of Gemstone Hotels & Resorts calls “the luxury trade down.” So, if your luxury property has lost market share and your brand has another brand positioned just below yours, explore “down flagging” to reposition the hotel and the perception of value. This option may require additional capital expenditure to achieve the required look and feel of the new brand. But if your strategic assessment points to extended softness in your market, this may be the most prudent decision. Brands seem receptive to this approach in the right circumstances. But, be aware that this could affect the value of the asset.

Now is the best time to make well considered, strategic changes to affect guests’ perception that your hotel is in touch with the times and remains committed to their comfort and focused on their needs, priorities and budgets. If this is, indeed, the new normal, your efforts will be rewarded with an expanded client base and you will be poised to take advantage of the upturn with a refreshed property and a sensible value proposition.

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What do you think? How else are you cutting costs? Share your tips here!

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