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Tips to Increase RevPar

Cicero's Development Corporation, a hotel renovations contractor for more than 40 years, has proposed 13 ideas for hotel owners and operators that will help make 2013 their most profitable year ever. Sam Cicero, Sr., the company's founder, presented these ideas during a seminar titled "13 Ways To Increase RevPAR in 2013" at the recent Vantage Hospitality Conference in Las Vegas, NV.
According to Cicero, the key to encouraging return visits and excellent online reviews, as well as to  having the leverage to charge higher room rates, is to view the hotel experience through guest's eyes rather than through the prism of business goals.

1. Online reviews determine offline success
Nearly half of all travelers report that they will not book a hotel room without first reading online reviews. Monitor online reviews for input on ways to improve your hotel. Chief complaints cited in online reviews are housekeeping, service quality and general maintenance.

2. Step up the signage
Highway billboards, one of the oldest forms of hotel advertising, remains one of its most effective. Twenty-five percent of travelers say they've stopped at a hotel or restaurant the same day they saw its billboard. Make your billboards more effective by using fewer words, more graphics and stressing unique benefits, i.e., free Wi-Fi or pet-friendly, rather than making low price its only selling point.

3. It is what's outside that counts
A hotel's curb appeal is the reason why drive-up guests either go in to book a room, or flee in their car as fast as possible. Spruce up landscaping, install bright lighting in your parking lot for safety, and mount crisp, modern signage. Remember: the outside of a hotel broadcasts what's inside.

4. A hotel's most valuable real estate
The distance from the door to the front desk is every hotel's most valuable real estate. The atmospheric elements of the foyer and lobby -- color, style, lighting -- help guests visualize their hotel experience. Foyer and lobbies are the most photographed area of a hotel for online reviews, advertising and reservation sites. They influence the buying behavior of customers, as well as impact employee moral. It is little surprise that major chains made updating lobbies and foyers a major portion of the $5 billion spent worldwide in 2012 for hotel renovations.

5. Employee Numero Uno
As far as guests are concerned, the front desk associate is the most important employee in a hotel. Front desk associates are the "go to" guy or gal that solves problems, offers advice, and can be counted on for excellent service. They're the first impression for arriving guests and phone reservations. Train (and reward) your front desk to be warm, gracious and pro-active in handling guest issues. Create an operations manual that clearly states what is expected from the front desk.

6. What's for breakfast?
If you have a breakfast bar, toss out those stale donuts and replace them with fresh fruits and homemade items. Renovate counter tops with grade one surfaces such as granite, stone or marble, along with adding accent elements like columns or arches. Give the breakfast bar a unique flavor by incorporating local arts and crafts.

7. Cause for Paws
Vacation isn't just for two-legged travelers. Becoming a pet-welcoming hotel is a simple, yet very profitable move. Travelers will gladly pay a $15 or more "pet fee" to allow their pet to stay in the room with them. Because of pet allergies, limit the number of "pet rooms' to a few on an end wing where you can install vinyl strip flooring instead of carpeting. Also, putting in a dog run at the back of your hotel lets travelers know you care about their pets. Finally, make sure to advertise being "pet-friendly" on billboards and on popular pet-owner websites like and

8. Ban boring lobby signage
Digital signage is an exciting, fast-moving and dynamic form of communication that grabs guest attention. Use the large flat screen TV coupled in your lobby to convey important information to guests, such as hotel features or restaurant specials. You can also run advertising from local businesses in exchange for them recommending your hotel.

9. Now they see it, now you don't
Corridors are the most seen areas of a hotel by guests, yet remain the most overlooked by hotel owners. Soften corridor design with wider moldings, quality artwork, inviting sofa tables and lush plants. Carpeting in a corridor can have a graphical pattern unique to your hotel that complements guest room schemes. Proper lighting makes a guest feel safe, especially in an empty corridor. Of course, always keep corridors clean and uncluttered.

10. Replace rundown furniture with runaway hits
What is hot for 2013 for hotel furniture? Look for continuing trends such as multi-functional desks and tables that create the "office away from the office," armoires and stands to hold large flat-screen TVs, sitting areas with overstuffed chairs and sofas, larger levers and handles for older travelers, and higher, fancier headboards. Save money on furnishings by buying used from luxury hotels that renovated in 2012, or by combining new and used furniture. Modern furniture gives your hotel an aura of respectability. It also eliminates words like "rundown" or "old" in hotel reviews.

11. And the number one amenity expected by guests is...
Free Wi-Fi. Seventy-seven percent of hotel guests report Wi-Fi is essential, according to JD Powers. Advertise you have free Wi-Fi --  55 percent of travelers say they will not stay in a hotel without it. Another worthwhile fact: paying for Wi-Fi is rated as the "most annoying" of all hotel fees, so don't even think about charging for it.

12. The "make or break" room for women travelers
Female travelers may grade their entire hotel experience on the cleanliness of the bathroom. Double your efforts to clean bathrooms, redo the caulking and tile grout, and fill open joints. Design trends to consider when renovating bathrooms in 2013 include upscale fixtures, larger counter spaces, grade one flooring and counters (marble, granite), lighter and rougher woods, along with neutral colors splashed with brighter colors and metallics.

13. Go green to save green
Everyone knows eco-friendly steps installing low-flow toilets and aerators can save hotels thousands of dollars annually. In fact, just by deploying key locks that turn electricity on/off when a guest enters can save a hotel up to 25 percent off electricity bills. Replacing incandescent bulbs with similar LED lighting translates into 90 percent better lighting efficiency and dramatically lower electrical bills. However, what many hotel owners don't appreciate is that going green also attracts guests. Nearly 90 percent of travelers report that they'd like to stay in a green property, while 33 percent say they will not stay in a hotel that doesn't have green policies. If you've gone green, let your guests know it with plaques in your lobby and by advertising it on reservation sites.


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