In an industry as competitive as hospitality, finding a way to stand out from the crowd is imperative. Whether it’s luxurious rooms, breathtaking views, or a perfect location, every successful accommodation operation offers something special – winning the loyalty of guests looking for a place to stay while enjoying the destination. But what if you went a step further?
Instead of just accommodating travelers while they explore your locality, make your property THE DESTINATION in and of itself. Not only will you stand out from the competition, but you’ll have excellent social media fodder and more opportunities to upsell.
It’s a special treat for you awesome listeners as this week, we are joined by Radka Telyckova. Big-picture and detail-oriented, Radka Telyckova is a revenue guru, and book direct specialist who has worked in digital marketing, creating a stellar online reputation for her clients and channel management since 1999. A motivated hotelier, she brings a unique perspective from her brand, agency, and consulting experience.
Working in the hospitality industry since 1999 (in InterContinental Hotels Group) Radka has expertise in all the areas of hospitality marketing, focusing on mastering revenue with a direct booking approach and online reputation. Since 2010 she has owned a hotel consulting company with a proven record of achieving revenue targets. She loves to see hotels growing up, developing their products towards their niche market, driving sales, exceeding customer expectations, and aiming for long-lasting profitability.
She also enjoys sharing, mentoring, and guiding hoteliers and hospitality professionals to discover the power to stand out and initiate new & creative ideas and subsequently implement changes and new technologies or procedures, which have been successful in generating better results. She has a great understanding of revenue, and channel management, PMS, ORM, and CRM integration in order to increase hotel revenue.
I’m biased (ibooked.online) but oh my goodness, I love this guest and this episode SO much and this interview made me think and understand better. This is a great listen. I hope you like it as much as I do.
00:00 How Get More Direct Bookings by becoming a destination
02:16 Intro and background to Radka and her business.
06:13 What makes an accommodation a destination?
07:12 How to create a story for your property that appeals to your market.
07:57 How to tailor your marketing efforts to your traveler type.
12:01 What goes into creating a unique experience?
15:41 What are the steps to making your business a destination?
16:11 How to attract customers who appreciate what you have.
23:40 How to get your potential guests to experience your business from a distance.
24:01 How to tailor your marketing efforts by traveler type.
26:05 How to create your tribe or community.
Bart: Hello and welcome back to The Accommodation Show. We help accommodation owners like you get the knowledge and skills you need to grow your business, improve your guests’ experience and increase your profitability.
Hello everybody and welcome back to The Accommodation Show. Today I am joined by Radka Telyckoca from Germany. She is a consultant in the hotel hospitality space. She contacted me a little while ago coming from the Facebook group and she’s got an awesome topic that we’re going to talk about today. Welcome to the show.
Bart: Good morning Bart, well actually Good afternoon.
Bart: That’s right. It’s the afternoon for me, it’s morning for you. Good morning. I’m excited about our topic today. And I’m excited to introduce you to our audience. I don’t typically just pick up people that I haven’t been introduced to, but I found that your story was so impressive and the work that you were you were doing was so great and your experiences so vast, but I think that you can really bring an awful lot of noise to everybody that’s out there.
So what we’re gonna do is I’m going to introduce you to everybody and let you introduce yourself to everybody. But in terms of topic for those of you that are listening and that are engaged in this episode, what we’re going to be talking about is actually creating a destination out of your hotel, or if you’re a property manager. If you had a bunch of properties and a destination what would you do to the crew to make a guest come because of your offering rather than coming to visit the location? This is a little bit of a tip of the hat to my friend at will slickers who are also running the Destinationer Awards, which are going to be coming up in Miami in October as well. So that’s something that I recommend everybody checks out. But before we go into it Radka, can you please introduce yourself? Let everybody know a little bit about yourself and a little bit about what you’re doing in the industry.
Radka: Thank you, Bart. Thank you for having me. It’s my pleasure. And when it comes to me it’s very simple. Actually. I was almost born into the hospitality family. We started to run the properties in the Czech mountains at the beginning of the 19th. So immediately after the revolution in the Czech Republic. And so I have been experiencing what it really mean to be a hotelier from, you know, whatever you can imagine cleaning up the rooms taking care of the clients, you know, checking checkout payments. And you know, bringing the clients to the hotel, you know, entertaining them. And it was supposed for me to run this property or those properties we have. But actually, it has never happened. And even though we are still owning those properties, I’m running my own consulting company.
We just actually happened you know, 12 years ago after me switching from the chain hotels working for the chain hotels in revenue manager reservation manager. And then I turned out to be a consultant so working with the hotels on the other side and helping them to really, be more profitable exceed the customer expectation, you know, driving sales, more revenue and really finding their why, why they do the business.
Bart: Yeah. Yeah, that’s really important. I mean, you know, finding your why and where you’re born into the industry, right. Like you weren’t, you weren’t, you never would have sat there and thought about what your why is, it just is.
Radka: Yes, actually, this is yes, you are that person and I have never been kind of thinking about that to become a hotelier it just you know happened somehow.
Bart: Yeah. That’s right. It’s beautiful so you’ve lived and breathed hospitality ever since you were a kid. And then so you really understand all aspects of it. What is your favorite thing about hospitality in hotels?
Radka: I would say the making our guests happy. I just found it a huge responsibility for us to take care of the customer. This should be our first priority because they are, you know, taking their own valuable time to come to our property to spend a few days one week, and two weeks of their own life. And it is actually I think this is the most beautiful thing we can deliver to the clients to really give them what they are looking for. And really get this kind of perfect feeling like that you are not home but you are at home. So this is what I found more desiring.
Bart: Yeah, I love that answer. And I think that it’s one of those things where quite often people don’t appreciate that. You know, these trips for a lot of people. They don’t happen that often. And they might need to save up for it or they might not even have that much annual leave. I mean if you think about it, if people have the opportunity to go on holiday, four weeks out of the year, it’s still a fraction of their life. So those experiences you can really create make a big impact on people but also you are taking a lot of their valuable time.
Radka: Yeah, that’s right. I mean are you really see that especially when the clients are coming back to your property and, and, you know, this kind of, you know, help they really enjoy the state and they are coming to you immediately before they depart and they say hey, we would like to come again next year. So I mean, this is the greatest joy would like to actually see experience. So this is what our business was all about with our private properties. We really have the clients will be saying yeah, next year we’re going to be coming again no matter what. So it is really something that you would like to achieve also with your property because this is I mean, you have made the decision to be a hotelier. So I mean, it’s Yeah, I like it very much this feeling it’s like elevating, right?
Bart: Yeah, absolutely. So and I guess this leads in really well to today’s topic and what we’re gonna be talking about because, of course, you’ve moved into the revenue side the revenue management side and it really understands the numbers, how to get more direct bookings, and all of this sort of or how to how to get beds on heads. But interestingly enough, you’ve kind of then reverse-engineered or peel the onion to such an extent that you said hold on, one of the best ways to be profitable is by creating something which is a bit unique and creating a bit of a destination. So would you like to introduce what you mean by creating a destination and then we can kind of go from there?
Radka: So actually, I see the two types of businesses of the demand. One demand is coming in, let’s say for the hotels in a city so first, the client is deciding where they are about to go to travel. So they select the destination and then they’re gonna select the hotel based on their preferences location price reviews, you know, whatever it’s important for them. And another type of demand is that your hotel is exactly the place they would like to be because of your core values because of who you are. Because they would like to experience something, what do you have, and it simply doesn’t really matter if you are located in you know, 100 kilometers from me or 200 or 300 view feels like too much a patch are so connected to that place that it is exactly like a first thing you are thinking about okay, let’s go over there because this is what we are going to experience or this is what is going to make us happy to see that or experience or you know, enjoy that.
Bart: Yeah, and that’s awesome. What we’re talking about is creating enough of a value proposition for someone to come and visit your specific hotel. Business. Rather than just kind of because it’s Paris, or because it’s a particular city or a particular location. We’ll say we’re going because we want to stay in this particular place for whatever the reasons which may be, which is what we’re going to talk about today is how do we create a destination and then also, I guess what the benefits are to you as a business owner is that right?
Radka: That’s right I mean it that’s also like, revive revisiting actually what kind of property you are on we are your customers. So I mean if we are the destination is going to orient the hotel turn to be a destination always starts with starting to question why you are doing the business and what are your core values and who are the customers because in general, the niching is very important for small independent properties or independent properties if you’re not part of that big brand. Because if you don’t have a big brand on your door, then you have to simply prove who you are and what you’re standing for. And this is why you are able to create you know this kind of feeling that this is exactly this property.
So it means you can be the buyer hotel you would like to be the hotel for the people who really admire the mountains or someone who really would like to see the lake from the room. So I mean if you’re gonna start a building the story behind that, why you have it, why you have built it and why you are managing the property. And what the customer can experience in your property and how they’re going to feel as soon as they’re gonna leave the property. And it’s starting really to be valuable, and the clients are going to be more connected not because of how much does it cost but because of what kind of value and what kind of benefit they’re going to get out of the stay in your property.
Bart: Right. So interesting enough, you had said, you mentioned the word to create a kind of a story for the property of the story of what may be a person would experience or the story of the accommodation. Can you kind of elaborate on that for us
Radka: So what I have actually seen by our clients who are coming to us and say, Hey, Rob we would like to increase revenue have more direct bookings or maybe this and that and, you know, maybe in the future just really develop the property is that they are simply missing this kind of why they are doing the business and why it is kind of what they can bring to the customer. So it’s usually the hotels if you open the website, it’s usually on the first page, it’s a bed, but we have everyone in the same bed you know, this is why we are hotels or hostels or, you know, these kinds of accommodation types. So we just need to really start to bring the story of our employees of the location showcasing like how they’re preparing the breakfast showcasing, like what’s important to us, that it is going to attract exactly those customers who are looking for those values.
Which we have for the client. So it means really opening up and looking in or looking inside the hotel not only about this kind of tangible thing like a room or design, you know, the design could be also the reason why the people are coming to your property at because only not because it’s a nice design because, but it’s just they are feeling attracted to you know, to experience this kind of environment. So if you are building the story behind that, then it’s really going to really attach to those customers connect to those customers. Exactly those customers who are looking for what you have to offer. So storytelling and showing everything that is inside your hotel and opening up like it is it’s you simply you and your employees it is the hotel.
Bart: So ultimately what we’re talking about here is creating a unique experience. Right? So focusing on the experience, overall the holistic experience of the hotel and when we talk about creating that experience, you’ve mentioned a few things already. So you said the breakfast right. So how they do breakfast, how the staff will interact with people. What other things do you recommend to your clients in terms of creating that experience, which would align with creating a destination?
Radka: I think it starts from the really small things, and it’s about the way we communicate with the customer and like how we are interacting with them. Like imagine the guest coming to the hotel and you see cold totally stressed people in reception trying to make the paperwork only just to you know, you know, you know, make the SOP, perfect. It’s more about like really feel that person who is coming in that this is actually the value what we are receiving as hoteliers because they feel to be you know, connected. And then we just need to continue to do that. So I mean, we should start to think like how we can make the customer happy just to get out of this kind of SOPs at some point.
I believe I know that we need the SOPs to you know, to meet the expectation of the customer. But if we’re gonna start with the heart, then it’s gonna be much better for us to achieve what they really would like to experience and what we have to deliver. So, our customers usually they sometimes feel like okay, if I only do the pricing if I just do the perfect marketing website, you know, I have this technology that technology is going to, you know, save their lives and it’s going to be everything perfect, but no, the hotel is being created.
By the people which I which are inside. So I mean that we have to bring the team together, we have to start work like we are just one. So all the departments to get a feel like the synchronicity between like what is our total aim? And this is something which sometimes is missing in those hotels everyone is kind of trying to you know, do manage their job to be done right. At some point. So, this is what I have seen in many, many properties we need to start really revisiting and reframing you know how they feel about the business. Why they do the business and why they are actually being hoteliers, and this is where the really the whole story starts because as soon as you don’t do it, you are not able to feel that energy, that kind of perfect feeling from the whole team and the whole team with that perfect spirit is able also to bring you to know, the experience to the customer and even if something is not going well in the hotel.
Then they’re gonna say okay, well, it just happened. Okay, just, you know, fix it if it’s fixed and then we really treat it in that perfect way. And it’s no problem and it’s starting to really happen to the hotel to become a destination. We have to also support it with the sales and marketing you know, with the direct booking strategies and creating the loyalty to the brand and not to the let’s say some other partners who are bringing in this customer. It also shows us you know, during COVID the first clients who’ve been coming back to the properties has been the one experienced already this whole time.
Bart: If we kind of back step a bit and we said all right, so it’s a client that approaches you said, Hey, I like what you’re talking about. I would like to try to work more on creating a destination and I guess there’s a difference between just improving the experience for a customer and creating a destination and then they’ll go Okay, so what’s the first thing that I’m going to do? Am I going to do my brand am I gonna do my customer research? Am I going to think about what my values are and my reasons why I’m doing these business sports, what’s the sort of the hitlist in terms of order of all these different things for women to do?
Radka: Yep. So there are two options. Either you are a brand new property or you own a property which is already on a market. So let’s say let’s take a property that is already on a market. So first of all we need to do is really revisit why we do we have the hotel and which are our core values. So what is important for us, if it’s to delivering certain, if it’s about the food because you are a fine dining restaurant, it’s about the views which you have over there, it’s about that there is nothing there is no destination there are no really maybe anything around that which is kind of tempting to visit but it is about you know your property about the experience inside. So this is what we need to revisit.
This is the first thing. Another thing is that we have to look into the reviews which we have already received and try to see or understand what the clients are talking about us and how they are talking about us because it’s not about how we feel about ourselves it’s about how the customers what how they think about us and incorporate this finding into the marketing message. So we do not create something that we believe should be very looking very nice on the website to attract more customers.
We are simply taking the sentences and the findings from the reviews and putting them into the marketing text on a website or promotional materials, anywhere you really would like to be seen. And based on that, we will be able to attract exactly the same customers which are actually who are actually going to experience the same experience as the clients before and we have to do it in that way that on your website when a customer is coming on to your website and they can see your own reviews. And they can let’s say validate their shopping behavior or the kind of intention to buy that this is exactly what they would like to achieve. So we are attracting exactly the same type of customer who is going to appreciate what you have and this is going to help you to really become a destination because the clients are coming off because of that reason which is who you are or what you delivered to the customer if so, this is the most important thing, and based on that we are actually building up the pricing strategy. So it means we are more in direct booking strategies.
We are making sure that our pricing strategy is always the best one or that the price is the best cancellation condition for the product. You know what you’re gonna get inside the price and the price is the best when booking directly. You can always use the OTAs because they are always there. And we need them to you know to be seen in that you know in every place is very possible that we would like to when the customer is coming to our website we would like to just get them the confirmation.
Yeah, this is exactly what you are looking for. Because it is being confirmed through the reviews. And then the price is the best when you book directly so it means that they will be always coming to you directly to get the better deal or best deal and it’s starting to become really a destination so call it this way because they will see if I would like to, you know to get the best out of this hotel I need to book directly because they are also reading the reviews. And you ask them upon departure would you like to rate your stay? They are willing to do so because they have seen that other clients have been into it as well and it’s motivating them to do the same.
And after let’s say two-three days, the review is showing up on your website. So they’re gonna see it’s like it’s the real thing the reviews are genuine even. Maybe some negative review is going to show up and it’s going to show that you are the reviews are genuine. From the genuine people, you will see your own review showing up you will also see the reply from the management and this is in a long run is going to create this kind of destination because of exceptional services because of who you are because you are attracting exactly the same people who have enjoyed the stay before you and you are actually that exactly the same person who is kind of confirming Yeah, the others have been saying this and I can just confirm that this is exactly why you are going to this property
Bart: I don’t disagree with all this and it’s interesting because when we list our properties on an OTA, typically it’s quite commoditized so like you say we’re just selling rooms and beds and bathtubs and saunas and whatever else is included in the property but if we want to create a story if we want to create an experience if we want to create a brand then we do need to look at our distribution channels and via direct bookings and everything else we can start to create more of an experience and I guess what you’re saying is that you can through all of that, you can find as long as you’re matching up with the right audience. They’re going to start to come because you’re delivering on their particular expectations that go beyond just a room.
Radka: Exactly. This is what this is a really big difference. Because as you mentioned, on our OTS we are a commodity and they are only just two ways how to attract price location or you know your rating. Usually, these are the main let’s say the reason why they are choosing you but if you are becoming to be a destination there is really like there is a high reason there is something more than you know this and that it’s more about really the experience and it is going to help us to really build a brand and this is the most let’s say the healthiest password. I have experienced with the hotel how to create a brand from the independent property to end to become a destination and year after year increasing the revenue having higher more reservations, you know, even let’s say optimizing the occupancy so it means even from occupancy 70% Going down to the 55% occupancy and it’s not really that bad, especially if you compensated on pricing and also on a customer experience.
Because I mean, imagine that we have also hotels which are trying to achieve higher occupancy. I mean yeah of course we have 100 rooms and we would like to sell all of them but you know this kind of experience you know, overcrowded hotels. I mean, I’m not pretty sure that everyone is really enjoying that. Even if we do hotels yes we do we like it because 100% occupancy is brilliant. Right? I wouldn’t want to have it but when it comes to from the customer perspective, we can just, balance a little bit when it comes to the pricing and when it comes to how many guests are coming in into the property.
Bart: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So look I think that gives us a pretty good summary of creating those destinations and what we can do with that. One of the things I think that you had mentioned before we started was I guess, how about hotels and sort of these destinations are operating posts COVID and post-pandemic? And kind of how demand is being driven at the moment. I’d love to hear your thoughts on kind of what’s happening out there and the value of creating this destination in this current marketplace.
Radka: What I feel right now in Europe is mainly that they are still you know, there is still domestic demand and there’s also a demand from the neighboring countries. So from this perspective, we just need to start to really dig into the inside of who are our customers, how we can attract them, and how we can really make them understand that this is the value that we are able to give so that the customers are coming to our property.
I think the most important thing is just only to concentrate on getting the feedback getting the reviews and making sure that the other customers are going to see this are your own review. So it means they can also help you out your website to be always with fresh content. So the Google and other search engines, they’re gonna really like the content and it’s really going to help you to validate or for the customers to validate their decision.
And this is starting as your guide to healthy paths to start creating to become a destination you focus only on your niche. You don’t try to be you know for everyone. And then and it is this is the way how you gonna let’s say survive at this moment. Also, whatever is going to come in often in Europe, for example, because everyone is starting to be worried again, don’t focus on this kind of just like I have my initial good. They are the customers who are appreciating what we do what we know what we have to offer, and just use your focus like you create your bubble around this niche market. And this, I believe it’s something that is going to help us to also let’s say overcome any difficult period because we will be selling to the community and this is the most important thing, but I feel like it’s going to helping us to move forward and have a clearer, let’s say path whatever, if any crisis is about to come, you know.
Bart: So, just kind of interesting as well and I think we’re getting towards the end of our episode but the other thing that I’m really hearing you say as well is that the destination of course is part of our marketing our branding, create an understanding for people that this is what you’re going to get. This is the stuff this is how they look after you but also one thing that I’m kind of underlying tone that I’m hearing is about creating a tribe. I don’t know I don’t know if you’ve listened to Seth Godin before but he’s one of the pioneers of this of talking about tribe and communities and that sort of thing. And that’s I guess that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re talking to our tribe in our community. And trying to talk to that is my sniffing in the right direction?
Radka: Yes, exactly. Exactly. So we are, let’s say really building the community of the people who appreciate or admire or enjoy what we have. We have nothing else to offer them what we have. And this is perfect because you can really target your customers much easier and reads a much easier message if you just simply say. Hey guys, this is what we have right now. Go for it a special promotion is valid for another I don’t know one week you go for it, otherwise, the price is going to up so I mean, it is really like it’s really helping really a lot and I have seen by our customers doing exactly the same process.
Year by year the increasing number of loyal customers, even maybe the brand like let’s say a design of your logo. It’s not really that appealing. But it’s not about you know how your logo looks like it could be nice, but still, it’s about who you are, how you present yourself what’s important, how you know, treat the customers in place, and how you really show them that you really appreciate They are over there and yeah, so I mean, tribe or community selling I think this is what’s very are actually heading when it comes to the hospitality.
Bart: I don’t disagree, obviously. I mean, that’s even the biggest hotel chains across the world have figured this out. Like yeah, the marriage the Hilton, they figure this out. They’ve got great loyalty programs and they understand all of this. So if you are listening and if you’re on the smaller end or a little bit smaller or anywhere in between, this goes all the way down to being a short-term rental owner or manager. You can do the same sort of stuff and you can create your tribe you can create a community and that becomes a destination because they know the level of service they’re gonna get Radka I’m going to wrap this one up. So look, thank you so much for coming on to the show and participating. I do appreciate it. I appreciate your time. How does everyone stay in touch with you?
Radka: Well, actually, I have a website at this moment moredirectbookings.com that they can have a look at. There are a few online courses available. I’m doing kind of challenges also for the hoteliers to be more actionable. So moredirectbookings.com and you can find me on LinkedIn definitely and am happy to connect with your audience, and the guys who are listening, thank you Bart for having me it is my pleasure. And thank you for delivering this message to the audience. Thank you so much.
Bart: Beautiful my absolute pleasure. And if you are listening to the episode make sure you give us a like and follow and subscribe it does make a huge difference. Make sure that you check out the show notes on the bottom. And also if you actually want a website then come to us and I will look after you that Ibookedonline and tell tell tell them whether you’ve heard us in the accommodations show and I will make sure that you are looked after once again, Radka thank you so much. Have a great morning. Have a great evening afternoon. So take care of yourself and we’ll speak again soon
Bart: Take care. Thank you. Bye.
Bart: Thank you.
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