Managing a single independent hotel often demands constant intervention, but when it comes to multiple properties, a small issue can quickly get compounded and may go on to affect the chain’s brand image – negatively influencing bookings across all units.
Here are some of the biggest challenges faced by owners of hotel groups:
Maintaining the Brand Image and Service –
An independent hotel group doesn’t depend as heavily on the same booking sources, such as online travel agents, that have become the livelihood of independent hotels. They instead rely on the brand’s appeal to attract guests, so making sure that this name is never negatively affected takes top priority. This is the biggest challenge that multi-property hotels face – maintaining the hotel’s standard across all units, irrespective of their geographical location. Many of the other issues a unit may face – such as guest dissatisfaction, decreased revenues, and so on – usually stem from a lack of homogeneity.
Hiring the Right People –
While running one property can be demanding, most owners can still manage to oversee core operations and ensure continuity of the hotel’s standard. However, when it comes to multi-properties, it’s close to impossible for the owner to get personally involved in the operations of individual units. Hiring the right general manager is a critical decision, so make sure you screen candidates well before putting them in charge of your property. Remember that each and every general manager you hire for all of your properties should reflect the same values you hold close to your brand.
Complexity in Management –
Another aspect that can easily become complicated in multi-properties is management – the sheer volume of data to be collected, compiled and analyzed by itself is massive. In addition, the different units may cater to an audience more specific to the region – for instance, a branch located in a coastal area or hill-station may attract a lot of tourists while one located in a metropolitan IT hub may attract a more corporate based clientele. All of these variables can make the whole management process extremely tedious.
Organizing Bookings –
With so many online and offline sources of bookings, managing incoming reservations can be strenuous for a single hotel but in the case of a hotel chain, it can turn into an organizational nightmare. Even the larger chains using a Central Reservation Office (CRO) would’ve likely gone through a trial-and-error phase before setting up the right distribution system – the system itself would have to be capable of updating room availability across all establishments in real time. Organizing guest logs, room inventory updates, cancellations, and so on, can also become problematic in a multi-property scenario.
No Real-time Access to Information –
In today’s digital era, getting the information you need instantly can be the difference between recording a profit or a loss. Gathering data from different departments is often a very slow process. It can take an extremely long time to collect data from the different departments of each unit – even when done digitally using emails and online drives. And the dizzying pace of activity in this industry doesn’t make things any easier – it’s likely that the data will need an update by the time it’s been received and organized.
Cost of Training Staff –
Unlike independent properties, hotel chains need more personnel to manage daily operations across all units. This makes it more difficult to manage and monitor staff responsibilities; so proper training is a must in order to ensure that they can meet the brand’s quality standards. Because of all this, a high turnover rate is more common in hotel chains compared to smaller properties. In addition, the hotel will also have to conduct training sessions every time a new property is acquired – even if they choose to retain existing employees, some amount of training will be mandatory to make sure that they are well versed with the new company’s policies.
While investing in the right digital tools can solve some of these problems, it’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for multi-properties. Technology can help automate certain tasks to an extent, and while a lot of property management systems (PMS) are well built to tackle independent hotels, using a regular system can muddle things up when it comes to group properties. You may receive multiple reports about the same issue, for instance. Try to narrow your search down to a management system that can help you effectively run operations that are critical to maintaining your brand’s identity.
Hotel chains have very different operational strategies compared to independent hotels. While the guest experience is obviously important, these establishments are recognized primarily for their brand and standardized service levels. Guests have certain expectations that come with the name, and ensuring that they experience the same enriching service at all properties is non-negotiable.