When was the last time you took a step back to examine your property’s place in the market?
From luxury hotels to bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, and hostels, every hotel business should regularly evaluate its competitive position and find opportunities to enhance performance. A SWOT analysis is one of the best tools to help you identify strategic objectives to drive your business forward.
Read on to learn more about what a SWOT analysis is and how to conduct your own.
What is a hotel SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis (or SWOT matrix) is a strategic planning tool that allows hoteliers to identify and understand internal and external factors that may impact their business and support decision-making.
In hotel management, the SWOT analysis framework serves as a guide to understanding the position of your hotel within the market and provides you with tools to improve and maximize your resources.
Using this analysis, you can assess your business to re-examine your competitive advantage, set clear objectives, and define action plans and strategies to take your business to the next level.
What does SWOT stand for?
The acronym SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. When defining a business strategy and a roadmap for your property’s growth, you should focus on these four variables.
Why it matters?
A SWOT analysis is an essential component of any business plan and marketing strategy. Conducting a SWOT analysis can help properties of any size with:
- Scaling. Assessing current performance and determining growth potential.
- Prioritization. Identifying the most important initiatives and building a roadmap.
- Benchmarking. Getting a clear overview of a property’s position in the market.
- Decision-making. Understanding how new strategies or market shifts may affect the business better.
4 elements of a hotel SWOT analysis
Every SWOT analysis includes four variables, which can be grouped into internal and external factors.
Internal factors are under your property’s control. This category considers your strengths and weaknesses.
Internal factors include:
- Services: quality and pricing
- Marketing: brand awareness, advertising, visibility, and positioning
- Management: internal processes and organization
- Human resources: recruiting, hiring, and retaining staff
- Finance: resources, profitability, and cash flow
- Guest experience: pre-stay, in-stay, and post-stay
Strengths are the characteristics that make your property stand out from your competitors and position you in the market.
Here are some questions to help you discover your hotel’s strengths:
What is your property’s unique selling proposition?
What attracts guests to your property?
What are you already doing well?
What services do you offer?
What makes your property better than your competitors?
What makes your property profitable?
What resources do you have?
What are your performance metrics?
Examples of strengths
- Loyal guests
- Customized guest experience
- Attractive offers
- Large social media following
- Integrated tech stack
- Modern and responsive website
- Efficient hotel operations
- Experienced and skilled staff
- Competitive ADR (average daily rate)
- High RevPar (revenue per available room)
- 5-star reviews
Weaknesses are the areas your property needs to improve on to excel in the market and stay competitive. Customer feedback and online reviews are a great way to help identify your property’s weaknesses.
Here are some questions to help you detect your weaknesses:
What factors are holding back your property?
Is there a gap in skills or resources?
What are your competitors doing better?
What have your guests been disappointed about?
Are there any budget limitations?
Are your services up-to-date? (facilities, website)
What are your performance metrics?
Are your strategies working?
Is your hotel competitive enough?
Examples of weaknesses
- Weak brand reputation
- Ineffective marketing initiatives
- Minimal social media presence
- Poor technological implementation
- Lack of pricing strategies
- Out-of-date website
- Poor facilities maintenance
- Inexperienced staff
- High operating costs
- Negative reviews
- Narrow distribution strategy (heavily focused on one or two OTAs)
- Low occupancy rate
- Lower ADR than competitors
External factors are prevalent in the hotel industry and are out of your control. This category considers opportunities and threats.
External factors include:
- Market: demand evolution, guest behavior, market segments
- Sector: industry trends, external opportunities for success
- Competition: products and services, pricing, advertising
- Business environment: political, social, legal
Opportunities are circumstances that bring business and benefit your property. They come from analyzing and staying up-to-date with industry and market trends.
Here are some questions to help you identify your opportunities:
What are the market and industry trends you can take advantage of?
Which trends can you tackle with the skills and resources you have?
Are there any new markets you can explore?
Are there any target markets you can reach?
Are there any services on demand you can offer?
Are there any new technologies or integrations to improve your business?
What initiatives can you implement to improve guest satisfaction?
Examples of opportunities
- Growing volume of tourism activity
- Increased attraction to local and unique experiences
- Demand for sustainability
- Digitization of the hospitality sector
- Access to local communities to create authentic and personalized experiences
- Evolving guest expectations
- Improve visibility and invest in SEO initiatives
- Adopt products/services with high demand
- Adapt to changing consumer habits (digital nomads, pet-friendly)
- Technology innovation (self-check-in, guest communication & engagement)
- Open new streams of hotel revenue
- New distribution channels (OTAs, metasearch, GDS, bed banks, etc.)
Threats are external conditions that can affect your property’s performance and hinder your growth.
Here are some questions to help you find your potential threats:
What external conditions can harm your performance?
What is going on in the industry?
How are your guests changing?
Is the market share shrinking?
Are there any government regulations affecting you?
Do you have potential competitors? What are they doing/planning to do?
Are you prepared to face natural disasters/pandemics?
Are you protected against data breaches or cyber-attacks?
Examples of threats
- New competitors
- Changing consumer habits
- Market share reduction
- Economic downturn
- Labor shortages
- Increasing energy costs.
- Tax laws
- Excessive regulation and bureaucracy
- Political situation
- Health crisis
How can a SWOT analysis help your property?
You can assess your property using a SWOT analysis to understand its current and future prospects. SWOT analysis helps you leverage your strengths, transform weaknesses into opportunities, and mitigate threats.
A SWOT analysis helps hoteliers:
- Understand the market and competitors
- Detect areas of improvement and potential risks
- Brainstorm new strategies or reinforce existing ones
- Create roadmaps for projects and initiatives
- Identify problems in advance
- Re-evaluate products and services
- Re-define target audience and guest personas
6 steps to create your SWOT analysis
1. Define your goals
Before creating your SWOT analysis, you need to define your objectives. The analysis may be too generic if you don’t have clear goals. Whether opening a new property, rebranding, or developing a new hotel marketing campaign, your focus should be specific to each goal. This way, you’ll get insights on how to proceed.
2. Gather data
Gather all the information you can about your property, market, industry, and competitors. Having the right data and metrics is vital to create a goal-oriented analysis. Leverage the data from your property management system (PMS), revenue management platform, and other tools to learn more about your existing customer base. From here, you can collect external data to understand more about the market and your competitive set.
Some metrics to include are your ADR, RevPar, and occupancy rate. Your percentage of direct bookings, website performance, and guest reviews are also valuable.
3. Bring your stakeholders together
Decide which of your team members and collaborators will participate in the analysis. It is ideal to have one member from each department. From hotel managers to sales representatives, every participant can provide insight to create a detailed outlook.
4. Schedule a brainstorming session
Schedule a brainstorming session where you and your stakeholders share ideas to fill in the SWOT template. During this session, write down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in each quadrant based on the information previously gathered.
5. Analyze the information
Once you have a list of each one of the variables, analyze them and rank them in order of importance. You can prioritize the ones that will help you achieve the goals you previously defined. Start with the ones that require immediate action, or focus on the ones that will have the most impact.
6. Define strategies to help achieve your goals
Once you have completed the analysis, define strategies to help you leverage your strengths and opportunities and mitigate your weaknesses and threats.
Property owners can fall into a pattern of inaction or inefficiency without strategies and action plans. A SWOT analysis is an excellent tool for reaching your business’ potential, maximizing your resources, managing risk, and staying competitive.