Preparing for an Economic Downturn: 3 Things to Start Doing NOW

It's all over the news feeds: economic pundits are forecasting a downturn over the next 18 months. I've even heard some hotel executives express fear that because there is so much talk about it lately it's going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. No one wants a repeat of the dismal hotel performance of 2008–2009.

With some advance planning and preparation, your hotel can mitigate any degree of decline, but you need to start now to come out on top of the STR benchmark in your competitive set.

Here are my 3 recommendations:

1. Group-up

Meetings, conferences, social room blocks, and the like are an excellent base of business but, in order to increase volume from this segment, you will probably need to be flexible on the rate. This goes without saying during low season but consider offering a lower rate to customers looking for shoulder- and peak-season business to ensure there is a solid foundation for every day of the year.

This is where the 'art and science' of revenue management comes in, with the revenue manager providing the science and the sales manager gathering all the pertinent information to artfully figure out what the customer is willing to pay.

2. Put Greater Focus on Catering Events

Wandering through various hotels as a professional consultant, and even in my personal time, I'm amazed at how often function space sits empty. Now that revenue management has so many tools at their fingertips to optimize guest-room revenue, why not do the same with the function space?

Also consider doing the following:

  • Separate sales and service in catering and handle the booking process the same way as a group booking. If they currently report into conference services, move the catering salesperson into the sales environment with a defined territory, revenue goals and prospecting target.
  • Figure out a way to separate viable leads from 'looky-loos' who eat up a catering sales manager's time.
  • Review, refresh and document the hotel's catering free-sell policy based on current booking patterns. Be cognizant of speed to market. While you are at it, evaluate the process required to confirm a catering booking outside the free sell policy. At one hotel, we identified that 60% of the group bookings had no function space attached yet catering was not able to confirm functions outside of 30 days of the event. It was definitely a missed catering opportunity.

3. Take Care of Your Top Performers

Identify the best people in each department in the hotel. These are the people you want to spend the most time, energy and resources on versus the people who usually capture your attention: troublemakers, complainers and poor performers.


Don't be caught unprepared—take control of your business. If you would like help, schedule a one-hour confidential session with Jo-Anne. This offer is complimentary during the month of October 2019 for all subscribers to the Strategic Hospitality Report.


"Recession is opportunity in wolf's clothing"
Robin Sharma

Take the Next Step Now

Prepare for a possible economic downturn by hiring Jo-Anne to

  • Optimize your sales, including sales processes and deployment review
  • Deliver leadership training
  • Provide leadership executive coaching
  • Get behind barriers that impede employee productivity
  • Create a healthy organizational culture
  • Improve employee engagement

If you would like to hear more, simply reach out to Jo-Anne at
[email protected]

About Jo-Anne Hill

Founded by industry expert Jo-Anne Hill, JH Hospitality Consulting dramatically improves revenue and profitability in creative ways at hotels around the world. Her strategic thinking, skill, and practical approach to problem-solving come from hands-on experience at companies such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group, Dorchester Collection and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

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