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Hotel Curb Appeal
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by Vincent Lubrano III, CHA, Manager, Regional Services, Best Western International

August 2007 - Curb appeal - it can be one of the strongest selling points for your hotel, or the strongest selling point for your competition! Unfortunately, curb appeal is often overlooked, as hotel owners and managers tend to focus on guest rooms and lobbies. Your curb appeal, however, is your “silent salesperson”, and one who doesn’t require a commission. 

Let’s explore some of the elements of curb appeal to get a clearer picture of just what it is and how it can work for you. 

Consider the Alternative

One way to approach the “curb appeal” concept is to consider the alternative. Like its cousin, Customer Service, curb appeal is most noticeable when it is lacking. A building that appears dirty, has debris in the parking lot, shows areas of the building in poor repair, features landscaping that is sparse or uncared for - these are conditions that will send a prospective guest elsewhere. On the other hand, a property that appears like new, has fresh paint, features an interesting and well-cared-for landscape layout, and a parking lot free of trash - this will attract new guests and help will ensure repeat guests.  The hotel manager wants their property say to guests: “I am a quality hotel – clean and appealing.” It is far less difficult to sell a product that immediately demonstrates its quality, has appeal and creates a sense of urgency in the buyer. Any property, new or old can exhibit this appeal.

But if your hotel is actually saying, “Don’t mind the outside, my rooms come first - I spend my money there,” this may be short-sighted. If you don’t believe me, listen to what hotel guests have to say. According to Maritz research studies, the guest is making decisions about your property from the minute they see it, until the time they leave. But they are most influenced by what they first see of the property. This can be from the highway, the street in front of the hotel or even from the parking lot of a nearby hotel. This includes both walk-in guests and guests who have reservations. A walk-in is thinking, “Is this the type of hotel for me?” while a guest with a reservation is thinking, “Did I make a good choice?” A guest who finds a hotel lacking curb appeal may never take the time to see the rooms. You can have the cleanest, most well maintained rooms in town, but if your exterior does not show the same care, many prospective guests may never know, because they will already have gone elsewhere.

First Impressions

Have you heard the expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? It’s a cliché, but like all cliches, it is based on truth. Your hotel is making first impressions every day. All day long it is meeting new people and trying to impress them. Sally Perkins, co-owner of the Best Western Eastern Shore in Exmore, Virginia, says, “We use the most expensive landscape company on the Eastern Shore and it is worth it. The instructions I give the head landscaper are ‘do something that will make someone turn their head when they are driving past the property at 55 MPH’.” This is an owner who understands! Good curb appeal brings the guests in. 
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Best Western Eastern Shore
2543 Lankford Highway 
Exmore, Virginia
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It can also prevent no shows. A property that exhibits good curb appeal is less likely to have a guest try another place in town even though they already booked with your hotel. How many no shows have been created by guests who, once they see the exterior of the property, just cannot bring themselves to enter the hotel where they made a reservation? 

Curb appeal not only prevents guests from leaving (or not showing up in the first place), it can also have a positive impact on Average Daily Rate (ADR). All guests look for value. As with any product, a customer will pay more for a product (in this case your hotel) if they find it pleasing in all aspects. A clean, appealing, well-maintained exterior not only aids in getting a good rate but it helps the overall sales effort. When working with groups and corporate customers, a great selling tool is the property tour. The advantage of a property tour is that the sales prospect can see the product firsthand. If the first impression is positive, the rest of the tour will take care of itself. 

Guests Have Become More Savvy 

The value of good curb appeal also increases as the buying public becomes more sophisticated. Cable television networks are now full of shows that teach the guest about the overall concepts of design and good maintenance. Many of these shows are aimed at how to make your home more appealing to sell. The prospective guest understands they can also apply these concepts to buying any product. Cracks and potholes, burned out bulbs, weeds, faded striping - all these indicate neglect and lack of care. A guest knows they cannot sell their house if these conditions exist, so why would they buy from a business that indicates neglect? If a guest drives up and sees a cracked driveway and landscape beds with grass and weeds, will they have a high expectation on the overall maintenance of the hotel? Will the guest wonder if the hotel pays their bills? What do you think jumps into a guest’s mind when they see burned out bulbs in the building or parking lot? Just like weeds, burned out light bulbs are a sign of neglect that can make a guest wonder about other aspects of the hotel and its cleanliness. Also, if a guest sees an indication that simple tasks such as weeding and trash pick-up are not being done, they will wonder if the more complex tasks like room cleaning are being done properly.  Adequate lighting is also extremely important. A well lit exterior helps show off your property, day or night. If you are proud of your property, don’t you want to show it off in the most flattering light at all times of the day and night?

Make Curb Appeal Work in Your Favor 

So in summary, let’s see what good curb appeal does for a hotel. It sells the property. It creates walk in traffic and referrals. It prevents no shows. That’s the beauty of curb appeal. It pays for itself!

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Contact:

 Vincent Lubrano III, CHA
Manager, Regional Services
Best Western International
Vincent.Lubrano@bestwestern.com

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Also See: The Fairmont Orchid Goes Chemical-Free, Comprehensive Efforts in Housekeeping, Landscaping and Reef Protection / December 2004
Boca Raton Resort & Club Landscape Team Transforms Resort into Botanical Playground / Sept 1997

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