Best Practices and up to the minute news on Customer Experience Management and Service Excellence

What to Consider Before Bringing a Hotel to Campus

Michigan State, the University of Georgia, and Texas A&M all run hotels right there on campus.

What should you be thinking before you pitch the area to leaders at your local institution of higher education? As someone who works for the seventh-largest public university in Florida, I have an idea how to make a hotel work where I work.

If leaders at your institution are considering a plan to have one on their campus, here’s a list of the factors they need to consider before doing so.

What’s the market like?

Figure out what the local hotel market looks like in the area. This is something you can commission a firm to do, or perhaps you can get a feel for it more cheaply by talking to the right people if you know who they are. Who are the business travelers employed by? What are the peak months for lodging? What markets are your visitors coming from? If you’re in a tight hotel market, you’ll want to think about how you can beat or best those competitors.

Where is the demand coming from?

The largest employers in the area may bring in people all the time for job interviews and other activities associated with business travel. That’s useful information because you want to know what places you might be competing with if you decide to open that hotel to the public or restrict it just to members of the campus community. Your institution might be one of the largest in the area. Are you going to market it to the community or mostly to folks associated with your campus?

What’s the neighborhood like around your campus?

If you’re in a community that might be working-class, or if students are coming from families that are, you have to take that into consideration. If not, you might inadvertently price out the people who might have the most interest in using your hotel.

There are many issues with doing so, and it’s a quick way to alienate yourself from the surrounding area if you aren’t careful. Dealing with customers who might arrive from out of town, you may find yourself dealing with some stigma if they perceive the neighborhood immediately around as a unkempt or dangerous.

Are there other ways to use the building?

It’s common to let your hotel also serve as a conference center if circumstances allow. Many employers are looking for places to hold a work retreat or whatever else, and that could be an option especially in the summer if the campus isn’t as busy. Perhaps it could also serve as intern housing for students who just need a room for two or three months while they gain experience.

How can students benefit?

Students who care about the hospitality industry could get much-needed experience from an on campus-hotel. If you’re in a tourism locale, it’s a natural fit. It’s a way for you to get relatively cheap labor and a surefire way to give students real-world experience that could be useful where job placement is concerned. For student leaders, perhaps there is a way to use the buildings as spaces for student event at the right price.