How to Open a New Hotel, Successfully

One of the bright spots at this stage of the pandemic is the optimism about the return of travel, as shown by the development of new hotels. Travel will resume, and new hotels will be able to offer guests experiences that incorporate current and projected trends in design, lifestyle, and travel preferences. These elements provide a definite competitive advantage over older establishments.

To successfully open a hotel, some fundamentals need to be in place to ensure that not just opening day is a big win but that every day thereafter is set up for victory. It’s the role of the sales and marketing organization to determine what that looks like. It will vary based on the hotel’s location, its competition, the expectations for it, and the consumer demand.

In overseeing the sales and marketing organizations for numerous hotels in pre-opening, here are some of the considerations to ensure success:

  1. Determine a strategic plan for the property that identifies the market segmentation for the property, both in the opening year and in the 3 to 5 years after. This needs to be developed 6 to 12 months prior to opening—earlier for large convention hotels. The plan should include tactics to target each segment.
  2. Establish the required staffing guidelines based on the tactics outlined in the plan and the typical booking window by segment.
  3. Identify the hotel positioning so its points of differentiation from the competition are highlighted and are relevant to the target customer.
  4. Create marketing and sales tools (e.g., digital collateral) that highlights what is unique about the property and speaks to what is important to each market segment.
  5. Develop a plan to involve the community, including getting it excited about the hotel opening. Articulate what the hotel is to this audience. One example could be “the social center of the community,” which translates to the ideal place for afternoon tea in the lobby, drinks after work, dinner on any occasion, and wedding and milestone social events in the function rooms.
  6. Understand the transportation system that gets customers to the hotel. Airlines serve as the feeder from other destinations, which means an opportunity for sales efforts. Ground transportation such as taxis and ride-share programs such as Uber and limousine companies all need to be informed about the hotel opening date, its location, and how to conveniently drop off customers. Getting this team of people on your side can not only help make the guest experience seamless, even outside the hotel, but also help ensure your hotel and/or restaurant is the first one mentioned when passengers ask for recommendations.
  7. An opening is the best time in the life of a hotel for garnering positive press. The media are often looking for interesting stories and are willing to provide space in their publications to share innovative and interesting news stories. Orchestrate this opportunity carefully with the right message (on brand with the hotel position) and with the best timing (so that stories build one right after the other). Getting the same level of press interest after the hotel is open is difficult and usually requires marketers to switch to paid advertising to keep the hotel top of mind.

These are the some of the many aspects that are part of a pre-opening critical path. To help you learn more about successfully opening a hotel, until January 31, 2021, I’m offering all readers of Strategic Hospitality Report a one-hour complimentary consultation. Simply send an e-mail to [email protected] to book your appointment.


“Great companies are built by people who never stop thinking about ways to improve the business” – J. Willard “Bill” Marriott

Take the Next Step Now

Hire Jo-Anne to:

  • Develop a strategic plan for pre-opening hotels and resorts.
  • Kickstart your sales and marketing organization.
  • Conduct a deep-dive review of your sales and marketing structure.
  • Optimize your sales and marketing organization.
  • Turn all your employees into revenue drivers.
  • Engage a trusted advisor for consultation and recommendations.
  • Remove silos and other barriers to employee productivity.
  • Convert your organization so it can thrive during constant change.

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

About Jo-Anne Hill

Jo-Anne is an industry expert who founded JH Hospitality Consulting to help hotels around the world dramatically improve revenue and profitability in creative ways. 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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