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Diversifying revenues through an outdoor cinema and survival courses

Luton Hoo Hotel’s Mansion House serves as the centrepiece

While it may have be tempting to focus on the core offering, Luton Hoo Hotel’s efforts in diversifying revenues is a great lesson in not being afraid to experiment with new offerings.

Set in over 1,000 acres of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire countryside, and featuring a Grade 1 listed building at its centre, Luton Hoo Hotel is a five-star operation attracting guests from around the world.

Combining an 18-hole golf course, spa facilities and a conference centre, the hotel has been successful in diversifying revnues by thinking differently to capitalise on the local market and attract new customers from different areas.

General manager Matthew Long said variety helps Luton Hoo Hotel target offerings to many different markets. “This helps us counteract any seasonal pressures that could potentially affect other businesses.

“For example, a large proportion of our business is meetings and conferences, which his quieter during the summer holidays. However, our leisure and wedding business increases during this time.”

An outdoor cinema and handing over its carefully maintained grounds to a survival course might not seem like a natural fit for a prestigious hotel, but they’ve proven particularly lucrative for Luton Hoo.

Matthew Long took over at Luton Hoo in 2009

“As a five-star resort only 30 minutes from London, we get a lot of requests for partnerships and are always looking for the best suppliers to add value to our meetings and events offering. We currently have a variety of different suppliers that we work with, including Bear Grylls [survival courses].”

Teaching intrepid attendees about emergency shelter building, fire lighting and food foraging, the Bear Grylls survival course is run by corporate events business Chillisauce but makes use of grounds which are used less at particular times of the year.

“As a business, we are always keeping an open mind to potential business partnership opportunities in the local area, to help develop our brand and offering,” Long added.

“Throughout the summer months we host an outdoor cinema. This has been extremely popular with the local community.”

Trying new things as a hospitality business can be risky, but Luton Hoo Hotel is careful to test and learn about what new customer demographics might be like.

“From the initial enquiry stage, our internal events team will work extremely closely with the event organiser to understand their requirements and adapt our proposal to suit their needs,” Long explained. “All conference and event organisers will also receive a post-event survey. The results from this help to inform our decisions about future event offerings.”

A view overlooking the 18-hole golf course

The hotel general manager’s advice for fellow hospitality businesses, when it comes to diversifying revenues and staying busy year-round, is understanding your markets and business levels. “You can then look to implement products, services and promotions to help diversify your revenue streams and level out the peaks and troughs,” he commented.

On the productivity front, Luton Hoo hotel evaluates this on a continual basis through a variety of means. It sets both individual and department KPIs and reviews the company’s productivity and efficiency at monthly management meetings. “We also benchmark ourselves against our sister properties within the Elite Hotels Group,” which includes the Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club in East Sussex and The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, Long said.

“As a five-star hotel with a diverse offering, we need to ensure we are always maintaining our high standards and continually improving every aspect of the business. We have a development programme in place and regularly research and monitor market trends and buyer behaviours and adjust our offering accordingly.”

Despite its standing as a premium hotel, Luton Hoo’s management team have looked to diversify revenue through a testing and learning process backed up by individual and department KPIs. Led by Long, it’s a great example of how thinking differently can future-proof the business plan.

Want to learn more about the importance of KPIs in the business improvement journey? Take our benchmarking tool to receive useful business practice guidelines.

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