How your hotel can stand out from the crowd
In the wake of ever-increasing supply, it’s important for a hotel to be relevant. Panelists on a webinar detailed how that can be accomplished.
Battered by Hurricane Katrina, the Hyatt Regency New Orleans was closed for six years before reopening in October 2011. During the downtime, the property’s owners decided to take the opportunity to reimagine the hotel as part of a $285-million rejuvenation of the property.
A survey of 850 guests was taken prior to work being done on the hotel. The result: greatly expanded meeting and networking space, and a big lift in technology, GM Michael O. Smith said during a recent webinar presented by The Wall Street Journal.
“You have to listen and you have to hear what they’re asking for, and you have to pivot,” Smith said during the webinar titled “Staying fresh: How your hotel can stand out in a crowded marketplace.”
As supply continues to creep higher, it’s important for hoteliers to do whatever is necessary to stand out in the increasingly crowded hotel marketplace, panelists said.
“I think it’s all about remaining relevant with the product,” said Ron Pohl, senior VP of brand management and member services at Best Western International. “I don’t think the age of the brand or the hotel necessarily dictates the success and failure of it.”
At the Hyatt Regency, that meant more than doubling the amount of meeting space in the hotel to more than 200,000 square feet from 90,000 square feet; giving guests the ability to check out from anywhere in the hotel; and using the property’s television system so guests could schedule business meeting appointments from their room; among other things, Smith said.
“We feel we hit the sweet spot with the customers,” he said.
Bobby Bowers, senior VP at STR (parent company of Hotel News Now), said that while supply is growing hotel owners don’t yet have to worry about supply swamping their business. There are 126,000 rooms under construction in the U.S., a 22% increase over this time last year but still down 40% from this time in 2007.
“We don’t think that’s going to be a huge concern as we move throughout the year and even into the next year,” he said.
Smith said he welcomes added supply to New Orleans.
“The city of New Orleans has 39,000 rooms, 20,000 of them downtown,” he said. “What we need to grow occupancy in the city is diversity of product.”