Glittering lights, soft background music, crafty dessert tables, décor that embodies the spirit of your hotel—you likely have some idea of what you want your hotel grand opening party to look and feel like. If only you could blink and make that vision (or Pinterest board) magically come to life in front of your very eyes. But like any great event that you don’t have a fairy godmother to help you with, your hotel grand opening party won’t happen by itself. It takes plenty of planning, creativity, and vision to make your ideas come to life.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to know where to begin and what to include. Unlike a private party, your hotel grand opening may be open to the public, have press members present, and will likely have pictures circulated on various platforms. With so many eyes upon it, you know it has to be just right. Not only that, you want it to be a solid representation of your hotel’s personality in order to achieve its main goal—attracting target clientele. Here are some things to consider and remember when planning an incredible hotel grand opening party.
1. Don’t go it alone.
Whether you feel like you’ve got every detail locked down and you know exactly what to do, or you on0ly have a general idea of what you want, having a killer team by your side is essential. Besides being able to delegate so that each member can dedicate themselves to doing an amazing and thorough job on their assigned task(s), party team members can help catch any details that were left out or are in need of an adjustment, as well as offering their own creative ideas.
Your team might consist of in-house colleagues and staff members, but it will definitely include any vendors you hire. This makes crystal clear communication of your ideas very important (since they, unfortunately, cannot read your mind). Clue them in on the specifics of what you are looking for and how they can help make your vision come to life. Remember that they are pros at what they do, so be open to advice on how you can improve (or need to tweak) on your already awesome ideas.
2. Understand your goals.
While it’s true that the ultimate goal is sales, you need to achieve various preliminary goals to get there. A killer grand opening party can help you to achieve them, but first, you have to outline what they are in order to have the greatest success. What are some goals you might want to keep in mind during planning?
- Building brand loyalty: You don’t want clients to just come and stay at your hotel once, you want repeat business. Your goal at the grand opening isn’t just about having a good time, it’s about building real, person to person customer relationships in a fun setting. It’s about relationship building, and people are more likely to patronize businesses who they feel that they have a connection with.
- Building relationships with investors: Why do many business meetings take place in restaurants or the golf course as opposed to an office? Because a casual type setting is more conducive to relationship building. Whether you are looking to gain investors or keep relationships with existing investors fresh, a killer grand opening can help achieve that goal.
- Building relationships within the community. You may or may not be the only hotel in the area, but your business is still interdependent on other businesses and vendors in the vicinity (food vendors, supply distributors, employment agencies etc.) Show yourself to be an invested and valuable member of the community and get everyone excited about your business. It can help set you apart from the competition.
3. Create some buzz.
What’s the point of planning a killer grand opening if no one is there to appreciate it? Don’t let all your creativity and planning prowess go to waste because of poor marketing for your event.
- Social media: Go where the people are—and the people are on social media. Don’t you dare underestimate the power of social media to advertise your event. So, if you don’t already have social media accounts/pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) set up for your hotel, what are you waiting for? Set those up and post your event. Use popular hashtags and tag other local businesses to help gain followers.
- Online advertising: And the best part isss….it won’t break your budget! Once your Facebook business page is up and running, create an event. You can also use Google ad campaigns and other ad managers (where you can set your budget) to help your event come up during online searches.
- Local radio: Just because tons of people are listening to Spotify and Sirius radio doesn’t mean no-one is listening to local radio. Tons of people will hear your ad and you can target specific audiences by selecting the station accordingly.
- Local papers: There are also plenty of people who love to read their local news whether it be in print or online. Advertising locally helps you zero in on the community and surrounding area to generate interest in people that are living close by and therefore more likely to attend.
3. Choose themes and décor that complement your hotel and/or neighborhood:
When you think party décor, your mind might go straight to balloons, streamers, and banners. Rein those thoughts in, and then throw them out into the pasture to be trampled and buried—this isn’t your child’s birthday party. This is your opportunity to impress the hell out of your guests with your clever creativity.
Consider the décor, theme, or color scheme of your hotel and plan for linens, tableware, signage, floral arrangements, and any art pieces that highlight and accentuate what you already have. Your goal is to accent the hotel and have it stand out. Garish, clashy, tacky, or mismatched décor can become all anyone sees or thinks about, taking the attention away from the guest of honor.
Is your city, neighborhood, or region known for something in particular, and can that be incorporated into the theme of the décor? Would the theme of a particular era (the 20’s/art deco, for example) work with the style of your hotel?
We briefly talked before about building relationships with the community around your hotel. An excellent way to show that you support the community is by supporting a cause—and that can be wrapped up into the theme of your grand opening as well. Is there a particular need in the community? Is your hotel affiliated with a certain charity? Are there certain charities or causes that are near and dear to those in that particular community? You can choose to have your grand opening double as a charity event and show that your hotel is not just another faceless business but full of people who care.
4. Accentuate your hotel’s best features.
The best selfies are the ones that highlight your best features and let your flaws fade into the background. Think of your hotel grand opening as a snapshot for potential clients, vendors, and investors to look at. Closely tying into the point above, you want your party to do all it can to highlight the best your hotel has to offer.
Do you have an amazing pool area? Time of year permitting, take your party (and maybe theme) and center it around the pool. Is your bar area super chic and Avant Gard? Is your lobby a living work of art? Are your event rooms fit for a royal wedding? Make sure everyone knows by making those areas the center of attention.
What if you feel that your hotel excels at something intangible like excellent customer service or being detail oriented in caring for clients? Can you find a way to roll out the red carpet or give your guests the VIP treatment? Can you consider adding fine touches like mini bottles of champagne or gift bags?
5. Give a grand tour.
Just because you want to highlight certain aspects of your hotel doesn’t mean you want to hide the rest of it away. Guests may be impressed by a stunning lobby, but they are more concerned about the areas where they will be living and sleeping.
Though they can walk around the hotel and see it for themselves, the best way to tell them about it (or sell them on it) is through your well-prepared staff. Can you have team members do guided tours? Or have well-placed signs that guide guests to areas they want to see, with staff members stationed at each location to tell guests all they need to know and answer questions?
6. Give guests something to remember you by.
Yea, of course, you are going to throw a party that no one will forget, but people are more inclined to remember with their eyes. What we mean is, when they see something connected to your hotel and/or grand opening party, it’s going to keep refreshing those memories. What can you do?
Well, it depends somewhat on your budget. Pens, magnets, keychains and the like are usually fairly inexpensive to personalize and buy in bulk. But here is an opportunity to get creative once again. Create a parting gift swag bag for your guests to take home—full of stuff that is useful and personalized to your hotel. Think champagne and wine bottles, wine glasses, slippers, lotions, and soaps (and also any of the previously mentioned smaller items can be included in the bag as well, if budget allows)—anything that would connect your hotel with good vibes and give them a taste of how you treat your guests.
If possible, have guests sign in and leave their email address. Follow up with thank yous, pictures of the event, news, and exclusive deals or discounts. And of course, don’t forget to post pics of the event on social media.
When planning your killer hotel grand opening, remember that this isn’t just any event. It’s your first impression, and we all know that you don’t get a second chance at that. Plan ahead, get the rest of the staff on board, and stay focused on your event goals.
Don’t fear if your budget doesn’t allow you to turn up the swank factor, it’s important to work with what you have and use your creativity to make it something outstanding. Focus on inexpensive details that will make guests feel special and appreciated (free valet service? Complimentary coat check? A disposable champagne flute of sparkling water as they walk in? The list can go on). Stay true to your vision and your brand identity and let the best of your hotel shine through.