5. How to check competitive positioning in the commercial audit

To thrive in a competitive market, it is crucial to understand your hotel’s competitive positioning. Identify direct competitors and evaluate their offerings, pricing strategies, and market differentiators. Identify opportunities for differentiation, target niche markets, and gain a competitive edge. Develop strategies to showcase unique selling points and position your hotel as a preferred choice for guests.

Here’s a checklist to help identify competitive positioning for your hotel as part of a commercial audit:

5.1. Identify Direct Competitors:

Identifying direct competitors is the first step in understanding the competitive landscape. These are hotels that offer similar services, target similar markets, and are located in close proximity to your hotel. Conduct market research, use industry benchmarks platforms like STR, review local listings and directories, and analyse online travel agencies (OTAs) to identify hotels that directly compete with your property.

5.2. Evaluate Competitors’ Offerings and Amenities:

Understanding the offerings and amenities provided by your competitors helps identify areas where your hotel can differentiate itself and provide unique value to guests. Visit competitors, their websites, review their marketing materials, and analyse guest reviews to gain insights into their offerings, such as room types, dining options, recreational facilities, and additional services.

5.3. Analyse Competitors’ Pricing Strategies:

Assessing your competitors’ pricing strategies helps determine how your hotel’s pricing compares in the market and identify opportunities for competitive pricing advantages. Monitor competitors’ rates on their websites and OTAs, review pricing trends and packages, and compare their rates to your own. Consider factors such as seasonal pricing, discounts, and value-added offerings.

5.4. Identify Market Differentiators:

Market differentiators are unique features, services, or experiences that set your hotel apart from the competition. Identifying these differentiators helps position your hotel as a preferred choice for guests. Conduct a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to identify your hotel’s unique strengths and advantages. Consider factors like location, architecture, design, amenities, personalized services, sustainability initiatives, or partnerships with local attractions.

5.5. Assess Competitors’ Target Markets:

Understanding the target markets of your competitors helps identify niche markets that are underserved or have growth potential. Targeting these markets can help you gain a competitive edge. Analyse competitors’ marketing materials, social media presence, and guest reviews to understand the demographics, preferences, and behaviours of their target markets. Identify untapped or underserved segments that align with your hotel’s strengths.

5.6. Analyse Online Reputation and Guest Feedback:

Assessing competitors’ online reputation and guest feedback provides insights into their strengths and weaknesses from a guest perspective. This information can help you identify areas where your hotel can excel and differentiate itself. Read guest reviews on popular review websites, social media platforms and OTAs for your competitors. Pay attention to recurring themes, positive feedback, and areas of improvement mentioned by guests. Identify opportunities to enhance guest experiences based on these insights.

5.7. Conduct Mystery Shopping:

Mystery shopping involves visiting (or calling) competitors’ properties and experiencing their services first hand. This approach helps evaluate their customer service, check-in processes, cleanliness, and other aspects that contribute to guest satisfaction. Assign a team member or engage a third-party mystery shopping service to visit competitors’ properties and evaluate their services. Document the overall experience, quality of service, staff interactions, and any unique offerings observed during the visit.

5.8. Analyse Competitors’ Marketing & Distribution Strategies:

Analysing competitors’ marketing and distribution strategies helps identify their strengths and weaknesses in reaching target markets. This information can guide your own marketing and distribution efforts. Research competitors’ digital marketing campaigns, social media presence, and advertising efforts. Analyse their distribution channels, partnerships, and online visibility. Identify areas where your hotel can differentiate its marketing messages or leverage different distribution channels.

5.9. Benchmark Against Industry Standards:

Benchmarking against industry standards allows you to assess your hotel’s performance and position relative to the overall market. This helps identify areas where your hotel can improve and gain a competitive advantage. Utilise industry reports, market research data, and performance benchmarks to compare your hotel’s key metrics (e.g., occupancy, ADR, RevPAR, guest satisfaction) against industry averages or top performers. Identify gaps and set goals for improvement.

5.10. Develop a Competitive Positioning Strategy:

Based on the information gathered from the previous steps, develop a competitive positioning strategy that highlights your hotel’s unique selling points and differentiators. This strategy should guide your marketing, pricing, and overall approach to attracting and retaining guests. Use the insights gathered from the previous steps to create a positioning statement that clearly communicates your hotel’s unique value proposition. Develop marketing messages, campaigns, and pricing strategies that align with your competitive positioning and target the identified niche markets.

By following this checklist, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your hotel’s competitive positioning and identify opportunities for differentiation. This should help guide you develop strategies to showcase your unique selling points and position your hotel as a preferred choice for guests in a highly competitive market.

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