How to succeed when taking over a distressed hotel

Thousands of us dream of a simpler life in the country or fantasise about running a small guest house in a vibrant town or city and buying up a distressed hotel can be a great way of achieving this. However, turning around the fortunes of a struggling hotel, once it’s in your ownership role, isn’t as easy as you may think.

Here are some fundamentals to bear in mind after you're at the helm of what was once a sinking ship.

It’s not the staff’s fault

It’s extremely unlikely that the failure of the hotel you have taken over was down to the staff working there. The former owners were the problem and with the right guidance, training and support, the hotel’s staff could be your greatest asset. Make sure you invest in their development and in their wellbeing in order to ensure they are motivated to do a good job for you and the future of the hotel. If the hotel closes, they lose their jobs so you all have a vested interest in making a success of things.

Don’t underestimate the value of the local knowledge and client relationships your staff will have built up over the years. Pick their brains and you could uncover some insights that will help you to better tailor your offering and build repeat custom.

When it comes to rates and special offers, keep it simple

There’s no denying that special offers can help draw in customers. In fact, many prospective guests will expect some kind of special offer these days. However, in order to keep on top of costs and ensure you are still making money, keep offers simple and few.

Simplifying rates means that guests can fully understand what they are paying for and how much they are going to be paying. It shouldn't require a Masters degree to decipher the difference between your room rates. In addition, it means that keeping abreast of your income and outgoings will be made much more straightforward.

Control is everything

Making sure that you have total control over your rates and your costs is vital. Make sure you are making a profit on everything you offer, even down to the in-room freebies and the breakfast condiments - the books must balance or there’s no point in running the hotel at all.

Control over ordering is also vital so make sure you balance autonomy with oversight that allows you to ensure you're not spending more than you can afford.

Service really is the key

Providing great service is what gets you great reviews. It’s what gets you repeat custom and its what wins you a place in guests hearts. Decor, comfort, value for money, ambiance and food are all important, of course, but it’s the service that guests receive that they will remember after heading home from their stay with you. And the key to providing great service? properly training your staff.