Hard work and creativity is part and parcel of an independent hotelier’s job—and never has this been more true! We can’t overstate how difficult this past year has been for hotels worldwide. Yet independent hotels have demonstrated the art of the pivot time and time again to come up with unique ways to use hotel spaces to increase their profits.
While more hotels are stepping into this territory, it isn’t new! The idea of repurposing hotel spaces to boost profit has been trending for a few years, providing more value to guests in the process. But for many hotels today, diversifying hotel revenue is now crucial to remaining in operation. The good news is that the leg work you put in today to make it through the pandemic is building a foundation for a sustainable business model for long-term growth—a foundation that diversifies your hotel profits and differentiates your hotel in the process.
1. Dream Scene
Do you have a dreamy view? Rent it out as a backdrop for headshots, professional photos, model shoots, product photography, engagements, and videos. Reach out and build relationships with local photographers or a service like Flytographer. You could either offer a space to rent to photographers, or charge guests a fee to use your in-house photographer. Hotel rooms, lobbies, and meeting rooms can also be used, complete with white backdrops or green screens. Test the waters, then think about creating a library of lighting accessories, light reflectors, camera stands, lenses, and even cameras.
Outside the box: With clubs and concerts closed, one pandemic trend has seen DJs spinning (live and recorded) against beautiful backdrops. Heineken sponsors a prominent series with Defected that showcases international DJ talents on rooftops, local beaches, and studios broadcast live on YouTube so fans can take part even if they can’t be there. Could you work with a local club or business as a sponsor? Check out this legendary set by Melvo Baptiste on a patio in London, England for inspiration.
2. Movie Time
Use the boardroom screen, add reclining, comfortable chairs and create a cinema space, complete with popcorn! The Parkside Hotel and Spa in Victoria, BC, created a private hotel movie theatre as a permanent structure that seats 29 people comfortably and offers nightly showings during normal times. During the pandemic, groups of allowed bubbles can rent the entire space for their viewing pleasure. This would also be a great place to watch sports. Throw in some catering and you’ll further transform this space into a goldmine!
3. Game Room
A pre-pandemic trend, guest or meeting rooms are easy to transform into a virtual reality (VR) lounge. In 2017, the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas launched a 2,000-sq-foot gaming arena with the capacity for eight people to play in an interactive digital world, together. When strangers must socially distance in real life, VR has the amazing ability to bring people together. It’s a good work-around for those feeling isolated.
VR gaming doesn’t need to make a big footprint, though. Take Hotel Zetta in San Francisco, for example, who has rented a VR cube that features custom experiences, including guided meditation—something so many could use any time, but especially during these times.
4. Co-working Space
Turn common spaces into socially distanced co-working spaces. Plexiglass barriers can add extra privacy and virus security. Or remove beds and transform rooms into private office spaces. But to really appeal to the professional, up the ante with freshly brewed coffee, treats, and sandwich orders. Scheduled workout room and pool slots are very nice perks, too.
The CitizenM hotel brand has run with this idea by offering corporate subscriptions for remote workers that include accommodation, daily workspace, guaranteed meeting room bookings, and high-speed internet for a monthly fee—it’s like a hotel on retainer. Fixed-rate, inclusive stays are also available for individual ‘digital nomads.’
5. Wellness Rooms
People need R&R more than ever. Create a space where guests can have some space and much needed “me time.”
Hotel Zetta’s Well + Away Rooms include a Peloton bike for upscale in-room exercise! Wind down with on-demand meditation (in-room meditation cushion included). Then sleep in comfort on a brand-named bed and linens.
Make these rooms available not only for couples or solo sleepovers, but consider daytime bookings as well. Sometimes we all just need a place to go for a couple of hours.
6. Private Dining
Transform hotel rooms into private dining space—but we’re not talking about room service. Clear out the beds and turn rooms into mini-restaurants with waiter service. This allows for safe, intimate private-dining experiences that can be maintained after the pandemic.
The Eliot Hotel in Boston has created private dining rooms for their restaurant, Uni. They put the beds in storage for six of their rooms, and now each space includes two dining tables separated by a partition. This personalized experience may be one that extends beyond the pandemic.
7. Co-Living Hotel
These aren’t the long-term rental hotel rooms you’re thinking of. Co-Living is a movement that emerged in Denmark in the 1970s and promotes independent living with shared spaces that foster community. Hmlet is the AirBnB of co-living and touts hassle-free living and meaningful connections so you can live your life to its fullest.
Komune Living in Kuala Lumpur is an inspiring example of what can be achieved with hotel suites, co-working spaces, and shared living spaces with an outdoor barbeque, gym, game room, open kitchen and dining room. But shared spaces during a pandemic? Even with social distancing at play, those who live alone can thrive in these spaces simply by seeing and conversing—masked and at a distance—instead of being in isolation in an apartment block. A virus situation does take some planning (like a schedule for shared spaces) and extra cleaning.
You’ll need a business plan to pull co-living off for your hotel, but it could be the future that sustains your property for years to come.
8. Community and Cultural Events
Banquets and conventions are on the back burner these days. Re-purpose those breakout rooms for socially-distanced functions instead and rent out to book clubs, writing groups, poetry/author readings, committee/political action meetings, and film screenings.
Promote your ability to offer social-distanced seating, complimentary face masks, hand-sanitizing stations, fast and reliable internet connectivity, and any other audio-visual amenities.
Take a page from the Betsy South Beach, offering the Pulitzer Prize of hotel accommodations with their Writers-in-Residence program that provides complimentary stays in their Writer’s Room for poets and writers. A hotel could offer this service in exchange for readings and media promotion (social and traditional) that boosts exposure and brand.
9. Pop-up Markets
Instead of renting out a whole space, consider running events whereby you make revenue by renting tables. Think pop-up makers’ markets that showcase local artisans, or antique dealers with rare finds. Charge admission and you will pocket a little extra, too. An admissions person at the door can also control how many attendees enter at a time.
The cost to you for these events is limited to providing tables, plus minimal staffing to man the door and roam the room to ensure protocols are adhered to while performing frequent sanitization of surfaces.
Streamline this one step further and host one pop-up store at a time. For this, look to partner with popular local, national, and international names, which will enhance your brand awareness. Create hype on social media and foster that ‘newness’ that keeps brands relevant, such as expertly executed by 11 Howard in New York. Pop-up shops can take up smaller spaces, even a corner in your lobby, and enhance the guest experience.
10. Maximize Outdoor Bubble Space
Create secluded spaces where people in the same bubble can congregate, such as a sumptuous and private outdoor igloo as created by the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.. Usable in any weather, these private domes located on their Whisky Bar Patio are heated for use in any weather and include waiter service. Igloo rental fee + food & beverage = ka-ching!
Less complicated and requiring less space, The Battery Wharf Hotel’s Firepit Getaway includes personal outdoor patio firepits complete with deluxe s’mores snack kits.
There are many innovative ways to repurpose hotel spaces for added profit. Do your research into what will work for your region and property. You may love the idea of a private dining room, but if there’s no need in your community, then your room flip could be a flop.
When researching revenue stream ideas for your hotel, keep an open mind and think beyond the hospitality industry. In this case study, a Kelowna hotel transformed a space into a mediation and arbitration center! The decision was anything but arbitrary and resulted after three intensive months of business assessments based on regional demands. By all accounts, the hard work has paid off handsomely.
Challenging times are followed by an explosion of creativity. Get flexible and stretch your ideas about what a hotel can do—then please keep us posted! We’d love to share how your hotel is getting creative and boosting profits.