Most hotels do not need a TV-show inspired ‘hotel inspector’ on their doorstep to transform their operations, but hotel leaders everywhere require help sometimes, even industry veterans. When it comes to running your own hotel business, it can be a daunting task to decide whose advice to trust. With a few hotel consulting firms competing for attention and, indeed, business, there are a few factors hotel owners and operators should consider in their selection process.
In this blog, we detail what is involved in hotel consulting, why you may want to engage hotel consulting services, and list some top firms around the world.
What is hotel consulting?
Hotel consulting is a service provided to hotels, whereby an outside individual or team of consultants supports the hotel, usually its leadership, on a clearly defined project or business question. While that is not substantially different to other consulting firms that businesses hire every day, hotel consulting companies and consultants specialise in the hospitality industry.
In an industry that is used to employing temporary staff in day-to-day operations, consulting teams take on a much larger and more clearly defined role behind the scenes. The size of projects that hotel consulting firms work on tends to be substantial, with their engagement viewed as an investment into the business and its future. Their direct customer is not the hotel guest, but always the hotel and its leadership. The business of a consulting firm is mainly advisory in nature but can take the form of facilitating the setup of new areas of the business.
To find the best fit in a hotel consulting company, there are nuances to consider during the selection process based on a hotel’s specific needs.
What are the reasons to seek out hotel management and consulting firms?
Hotel management and consulting go hand in hand in a number of situations that warrant the support of someone not full-time employed by the hotel. Commonly, these situations include:
- Being new to the industry, for example when opening a hotel for the first time
- Being presented with a new business challenge or evolving market conditions, such as a shift in the type of guests attracted to the market
- Re-strategising a hotel business for growth
- Adapting to internal changes such as succession in a family business
- Needing an outside opinion or even mediator / facilitator for conversation
- Seeking support with branding, marketing, HR or other specific divisions
- Re-designing facilities such as public spaces
- Asset management
- Acquisition and development
- New construction design
- Operations analysis, (re)designing an optimally functioning servicescape and process improvement
- Strategic planning
There really is no limit to the number of topics a hospitality consulting firm may support a business with, given that they are in business to help with every aspect of running a successful hospitality operation.
To determine the best professional help based on your situation, it is important to understand clearly where you are at right now and where you want to go. This may look like someone new to the industry wanting to build a boutique property, or an industry veteran re-strategising their business to stand out in a newly crowded market. Armed with that knowledge, hoteliers can evaluate potential consulting firms against their specific needs.
Main outcomes of utilising consulting services
The direct outcomes of engaging a hotel consulting firm vary based on the assignment, however most outcomes also affect business growth, revenue, and occupancy. Whether it is the creation of a loyalty programme to engage existing guests that drives this growth, or a new smart room design that differentiates the hotel just enough in the market to drive incremental business: long term growth or sustainability for the future are usually part of the plan.
Beyond the agreed upon goals, consulting firms also bring another perspective. They often add international experience and professional connections, as well as a closer awareness of competitors. Situations that may be new to the hotel and its ownership to encounter, are often not new to consulting teams, just different versions of scenarios familiar to them.
Given a clear goal, the expectation is for them to deliver against that goal and, in the process, likely grow key performance indicators, such as occupancy or revenue.
Top hotel consulting firms around the world
Several of the big global brands in consulting have hospitality divisions, such as Deloitte, PWC, McKinsey, and Boston Consulting Group. The latter lists on their website that they currently work with five of the top 10 hotel groups, three of the top five cruise companies and seven of the top 10 passenger airlines. Considering their other divisions and focus areas, these companies are trusted brands across a wide range of industries. If expertise with multinational companies and large scale projects is what you are after, then these brands certainly have the track record to prove it.
In addition, there are consulting firms that specialise in hospitality with everything they do. Some of these include:
Within the consulting companies entirely focused on hospitality, there are again examples of firms that further specialise on specific subsegments, such as:
For those who prefer to work with an individual rather than a firm, there is another route to consider: the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) aims to be the leading source for global hospitality expertise by connecting hotel owners and managers with individual consultants worldwide. A search on their site makes it easy to narrow down on specialities such as franchise experience in a specific country or interior design for an extended stay hotel. The consultants listed here are all part of ISHC by invitation only.