Strategic Thoughts for the Devon & Cornwall Hospitality Industry in 2012
Qualified in accountancy....
.... experienced in leisure
Well you’re in hospitality and tourism in the south west so ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ - that is a condition of survival and leadership. And there is a lot on the bright side for businesses that have made it through from 2011, if not pre credit crunch 2008.
Surviving so far will mean that you have proof of the fundamentals in place, with number one being great customer service and secondly a product of high perceived value. Analysts pore over our industry but they cannot give grading to the intangible bringing together of a great location and a, for want of a better word, ‘fashionable’ product. That is what has brought, and will continue to bring success.
So if you are providing great customer service, with high repeat business and high scores on Trip Advisor et al, then 2012, with a little bit of innovation, will hold no fear for you.
Thoughts from our Leaders
Here is what the industry leaders said at the Devon Tourism Conference, at the Expowest Exhibition held at the beginning of February. To succeed you must:
(Alistair Handyside – owner Higher Wiscombe Cottages)
(David Gibson – general manager National Marine Aquarium)
(Julie Baugh – director Thurlestone Hotel)
Product is King – ‘long live the product’
Businesses flourish because they fulfil a market need. They have a good product. This applies to many leisure, retail and food businesses in south Devon and on Dartmoor. Make sure it applies to you. That is the most important thing. What you do will have more influence on your profits than any government activity. Question your product, question your marketing communication. Benchmark yourself against a competing business, in the area or beyond. Why have they done well, can it be applied to you?
Sometimes it is difficult to be objective about your own business, a hard-hitting
mystery shop could tell you some home truths.
Beat the Budget Brands
If you’ve ever worked for a corporate you will know that they are bureaucratic, inefficient and have disillusioned employees.
Unlikely you can compete on price, but think about other differentiation. A personal welcome from the owner. Free cup of tea or coffee on arrival. A breakfast greeting by name. A lift into town for a guest – when you were going anyway. A room with a view. Scratch your chin for ideas. Do nothing tell no one and you will be beaten, because price will then be the only differentiator.
Don’t do your benchmarking, read the industry press, get the results of a mystery shop, and conclude that nothing needs to change. You will be wrong. A change is as good as a rest. Even your returning customers will ultimately not thank you, if you continue to deliver what you have always done.
God Save our Gracious Queen
With recent experience of Royal events, from the Royal Wedding of 2011, maybe we have an idea of how the public will react to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Plan your strategy accordingly.
London 2012 Olympics
Finally after all of the hype we understand that the Olympics will not be a ‘golden goose’ and for the country as a whole, may prove a negative. But here in Devon and Cornwall we still have opportunities.
Some are on the Olympic Torch route, others will play host to cultural Olympiad events, these are obvious ‘on the day’ opportunities.
But it seems there will be plenty of Londoners looking to escape their city, and others avoiding visiting there for fear of gridlock. Encourage them to come to you. At the same time accommodate those that have a passing interest. Dedicate a television to the cause. Post news and results on your notice board. Encourage celebrations in your bar. Name a cocktail after a popular athlete. Get into the spirit of things.
And don’t forget to secure your supply chain and staffing. Make sure if there may be transport delays that your deliveries are appropriate. Make sure that your staff time off is agreed and controlled.
Free Activities are Good
We are fortunate to be in a unique destination with great products, not ‘me to’, but market leading. It also leads with natural beauty. If you own a hotel or guest house, for 2012 free activities are going to flourish. ‘Walks from the door’ - and that can be Torquay harbour and the Agatha Christie trail, as much as it can be along the beach at Bigbury. And the biggie for 2012 War Horse book and film locations. Be inventive and guide your guests to what you have around you.
Shrewd hoteliers have a ‘fifty things to do (on a wet day, but need it be said?) from my premises’, published on their website and available to guests on their stay. Crabbing at Stoke Gabriel is a little known gem.
Facilitate simple to do themed breaks. Make sure they do not depend on numbers. They
give you something to say in your marketing too.
Whilst diets may not be de rigueur, healthy themes are increasingly popular. Walking
and cycling continue in popularity. And diners increasingly check for healthy food.
Accommodation and Attractions Work Together
It follows that paid attractions will continue to find it double-tough in 2012. So
they will be keen to partner others. A brewery tour break, or railway buffs weekend.
These can add value and differentiation for hoteliers, and drive volume to attractions.
The new Totnes property of the National Trust is worth a mention by nearby accommodation
Offer Value for Money
In hospitality we have what may be a unique proposition, we can add cost of a few pounds, to give value of much more. And this can apply to every hotel, guest house, restaurant and food-led pub that is not 100% full throughout the year.
Look at your diaries and identify dead days, or dead weeks. The week immediately following the August bank holiday is usually one, as can be Sundays. But look for your own. Now add value into your usual offer at that time. You have the space – and an empty room can never be resold.
‘Three nights for two’, ‘wine included with all meals’ ‘dine on us on Sunday’. ‘Children
eat free’. Yes, you will make a bit less profit on the extra sale, but you will make
some, and you will help to shore up your core business.
A smart website, with prices starting from £500, is essential. Even a wet-led pub
needs to advertise that it exists, its telephone number and opening hours.
On–line bookings are a near essential for room sales, and will become increasingly useful for restaurateurs. For hoteliers not big enough for Hotel Perfect, then Eviivo (at 6% commission on each booking), or Angelfish (annual cost from £250- no commission) may be for you.
Eviivo and Angelfish also give you long-term access to the overseas market. Okay 2012 may not bring floods of Olympians, but the resulting publicity is meant to impact positively on future years. International tourism is expected to increase by 80% by 2030. Make sure you are ‘on show’ to the world.
Mobile Friendly Websites:
The newbie for 2012 is the mobile friendly website. By 2014 the majority of enquiries on the web will be from mobile smart phones. But it is already happening. Don’t delay in making your website mobile friendly. This is your ‘marketing MUST DO’ for 2012.
Apps on the other hand are not following through as the promised new dawn.
Working a database with emails is becoming a norm.
And I haven’t mentioned Facebook and Twitter! If your property or product is quirky (in the eyes of the public) and you can cope with the technology, then people will be interested in your tweets. A tweet from Tresco would work for me.
Email traffic actually dropped in 2011, as more and more users communicated to each other from within Facebook. Facebook is not only massive, but continually innovative. Keep a hand in there.
Free Wi-fi Access:
Isn’t it great that some 5* properties do not provide this? (Well for you anyway.) Simon Calder quotes this as his 7th most important factor for a hotel in 2012.
We all know that to use as a telephone is but one use of the mobile phone. Another use is as a camera. Images can be loaded from mobile to Facebook page in minutes. Put the thought in your guest minds. Give a hint – provide a picture ‘frame’. Help your guest advertise your venue.
Put Your Product Up For Sale And Price It Right:
How many websites are still quoting 2011 prices and activities, with no mention of 2012? Let’s hope it is not yours! Nobody can buy something that is not for sale. Always make sure that you have a year of future product on offer.
And don’t kid yourself with your future prices. Make them competitive, reel some business in early. Remember unless you are going to be 100% full you have room to play. Test the market.
It’s Tough Out There – But Not Impossible
So come the end of 2012 95% of businesses that would have survived outside of a recession will do this year. But the statistic is that something like 50% of restaurants fail in their first year in the normal course of events.
If a new business ignores the gloom of the recession and delivers a good product, communicated to the market, that the market want, it will flourish. As will you!
|Sage Instant Accounts|
|Using a Spreadheet to Produce Accounts|
|Sage Accountant's Link|
|Chart of Accounts|
|Taxation of Income from Property|
|Capital Gains Tax|
|Tax Rates and Allowances 2012-13|
|Comparing Tax of Company to Partnership|
|Running a Pub|
|Website and Internet|
|Search Engine Optimisation and PPC|
|Using Social Media|
|RTI or Real Time Information|
|Pensions Law is Changing|
|Agency Worker Regulations|
|Bribery Act 2010|
|Gratuities Tips and Service Charges|
|A Guide to the Calculation of Holiday Pay for Employees|
|MaternityBenefits - statutory maternity pay|
|MaternityBenefits- maternity allowance|
|Customer Service or Customer Delight|
|Health and Safety|
|Product and Venue News|
|AA Hospitality Award Winners 2011|
|New Dining Concept|
|Schooner Glass Size Launched|
|British Food Fortnight|
|Great British Beer Festival Winners 2011|
|Chinese are Coming to England|
|Strategy for 2013|
|Strategy for 2012|
|Hospitality Industry Big Picture for 2012 in Devon & Cornwall|
|Accommodation Grading Standards|
|Minimum Alcohol Pricing|
|Strategy for 2011|
|Trends in Leisure for 2011|
|P38(S) to be Scrapped|
|Vat on Room Deposits|
|HMRC Announces Investigation into the Restaurant Industry|
|Vat on Takeaway Food|
|Furnished Holiday Lets Tax Changes in 2011|
|Autumn Statement 2011|
|VAT Increase to 20%|
|Caravan VAT Concessions Go|
|Hotel Buildings Allowance Goes|
|National Minimum Wage 2012-13|
|Cornish Challenge for Chefs | A&G|
|South Devon Tourism & Business Exhibition|
|South West Tourism Awards 2011/2|
|Devon Tourism Awards 2011|
|Good Hotel & Pub Guides Pull No Punches|
|English Riviera TV Advertisement|
|Store is the Core Initiative|
|Radio One Fun Cornish Video|
|Will Francis Heralding the Value of Pubs|
|Metronomy Promote the English Riviera|
|ERTC and RICC to Merge?|
|Trend for Tourism in the South West 2011|
|Hotel Fined for Pool Death|
|South West Tourism Awards 2011|
|South West Tourism Alliance|
|Von Essen Lessons Leaned for Hoteliers|
|Campaign for Reduction in Vat for the Hospitality Trade|
|National Minimum Wage|
|Drinks Measures to Change|
|Christmas Wow | A&G|
|Humour in Accountancy|
|More Humour in Accountancy|
|Bookkeeper Vacancy in South Devon|
|Accountant Opportunity in north Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset|