How to research competition for boutique hotels

Competitive intelligence provides actionable insights to develop a new hotel product and also maximise hotel revenue.

With the emergence of new channels, shifting buyer preferences, the evolution of the marketplace model, changes to cloud technology platforms and connectivity that impacting the booking journey, a buyer’s expectation and the booking patterns especially those of millennials continue to evolve.

Online distribution requires fierce competitiveness.

Assessment of competitor landscape is a critical starting point when planning your boutique hotel but also must be reviewed frequently. Unlike offline distribution, which is declining rapidly, in the online world often “the winner takes it all”.

Studying competition helps position your hotel better and understand competitor weaknesses that can become your hotel’s opportunities.

So what are you looking out for?

Establishing the right competitor set is important so that the comparisons are relevant Here are some areas that should be considered while creating a competitor set for your hotel:

  • Location of your planned hotel and the distance to other boutique hotels in the market
  • Type of hotel – while the label of hotels can be misleading sometimes, it is important to identify hotels near your location that attract an audience that you want to tap into
  • Star ratings and the brand positioning
  • Number of rooms – If you are planning a hotel with less than 50 rooms, benchmarks should be with hotels of a similar size
  • Type of service – are they full service and what is the overall quality of service provided
  • Facilities – does your competition target corporate customers or leisure? And how are they positioning the facilities that they have for a specific segment?
  • Online visibility – how active and successful are they on the public online channels like OTAs?

And how can you find out more about your competition?

  • Follow your competitors on social media channels like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to give you an idea of the promotions they run and the type of followers
  • Use a keyword research tool like SpyFu – they can tell you keywords that websites buy on Google Adwords as well as the keywords that websites are showing up for within search results. 
  • If your competitors send out newsletters, make sure you sign up for them to understand what they are telling their customers
  • Go the old fashioned way – walk into your competitor’s hotel lobby to observe service levels. Study conference and event boards to learn about companies who use the hotel. Talk to the owners and managers of these hotels if they are open to speaking about their product and services
  • Monitor what guests are saying about your competitors on TripAdvisor and OTA websites – specifically the aspects that the reviewers consistently rave about as well as what they complain about. Addressing an identified gap can be a big help while developing your own product and service.
  • Use STR reports which are particularly relevant in major established destinations; however, they offer very little advantage in emerging destinations.

Looking for a checklist?

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Tags: Booking channels, Boutique hotel guide

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