The Key to Being a Market Leader

*Spoiler alert: it’s easier than you think* 

Never underestimate the power of genuine hospitality and good service.  Recently, I was hired by a friend to identify why a particular hotel was underperforming in a strong market.  The owners of the property were simply stumped and could not quite comprehend why their beautiful new hotel, with a national chain, was performing at the very bottom of its competitive set.

I began my analysis with a tour of the property.  The curb appeal was outstanding and included meticulously manicured shrubbery and colorful spring flowers that were in full bloom.  A lovely, curved driveway wrapped around a fountain and ended under a welcoming Porte-cochere.  One step into the lobby revealed upscale, well-appointed décor, complete with freestanding check-in kiosks, huge flat-screen TVs, and the smell of a decadent dessert and a Starbucks beverage somewhere close by.  Obviously, the product was not the problem.

Next, I toured the hotel’s competitors. I considered the possibility that this might be an overbuilt market.  While the other hotels were nice enough, they did not compare to my property.  Most of the area hotels were 5+ years old and showed wear inside and out.

Last, I looked at the demand generators in the market to see if business was fluctuating, or if there had been any changes to travel.  I found that the demand in the market was not only steady, it was growing.  The immediate vicinity was home to several Fortune 100 company offices. Travel had picked up more than it has within the last 2 years, and meetings and events were in full swing. The property was priced correctly within its competitive set and although visibility was not great, the hotel was easy enough to find.

In the end, there was only one negative characteristic, and it was so glaring I am not sure my favorite Ray-Ban sunglasses could have shielded me from it.  The hotel associates were indifferent at best and downright rude at worst.   Upon approaching the front desk, the front desk agent barely looked up from her monitor and, without even a hint of a smile, asked, “Checking in?”.  Did she really think it was okay to greet a potential guest without a simple hello or, better yet, “Hello and welcome to our property.  How may I help you?”.  My questions were met with one-word answers and no extension of the hand of hospitality.  Her attitude silently screamed, “Stay, go, it does not matter to me.”.

There is no question that my hotel has the most inviting physical structure and décor in the area.  There is also no question that I experienced severely lacking guest service at this property. No matter how much business this hotel books, with a few new enthusiastic associates armed with a genuine desire to be of service to guests, this hotel can turn its performance around and easily become the area hotel of choice.  Once again, it is crystal clear that outstanding guest service is the key to being a market leader.

Toni Jacaruso, CEO of Jacaruso Enterprises
November 18, 2022

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