Surviving the credit crunch: Improve, don't cut your prices

04 September 2008
Surviving the credit crunch: Improve, don't cut your prices

Debbie Taylor, managing director of the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews, Fife, says adding value, not cutting back, is the key to surviving the credit crunch

We all hear the phrase "credit crunch" day in and day out, and there is no doubt that the tougher market conditions are worrying for the hospitality industry.

A knee-jerk reaction might prompt you to think about lowering room rates or filling your hotel with two-for-one deals. I would caution against lowering prices for short-term gain, as this means you'll have to cut back a service or investment in your product somewhere down the line. In the long run it's better to add value.

In recent months I tasked my team at the Old Course hotel to look at gaps and identify where we could create new business opportunities through creating customer-care initiatives with a key aim of adding value to the guest experience.

One of the newest services, which aims to take advantage of the trend of families holidaying closer to home, is Luxury Kids, a range of services targeted at babies, kids and teenagers.

We are aiming to highlight the resort's offering and, as the sample programme promotes the diverse family-friendly attractions in and around St Andrews, also boost tourism in north-east Fife. There are no extra costs for this programme the idea is to enhance a family's experience so that they want to return at Christmas time and during the school holidays.

It's not just the luxury operators that should be adding value to the guest experience we all have our part to play in building a positive reputation around the world.

As chairman of the British Hospitality Association Scotland Committee, I am passionate about raising standards across all sectors of our industry to position Scotland as a high-quality destination.

We can, and should, compete with countries like Switzerland, where a reputation for quality is present throughout the entire industry. On the basis of current average spend and numbers of visitors, if just 10% of Scotland's visitors spent the same amount as the average visitor to Switzerland, this would be worth an additional £550m to Scottish businesses.

However, this is not about high prices it's about adding value to ensure a unique world-class experience, which is crucial in driving the UK's hospitality industry as a whole.

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