Top 9 Things to Know When Opening a Hotel In Jamaica

Jamaica has always been the tourism hub of the Caribbean, as our tropical weather, natural attractions, rich musical culture and fabulous all inclusive hotels have all been considered one in a million. All of these unique features have made Jamaica one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean over the years. The tourism sector has continued to contribute immensely to our economy and is also experiencing stable growth with a lucrative contribution projection of 13.4% of the total GDP by 2027, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s analysis of the economic impact of travel and tourism on Jamaica in 2017.

The success of the tourism industry is remarkable and owes a great deal to the beautiful aesthetics of Jamaica’s north coast hotels. Tourists flock to these resorts for their fantastic service, delicious food and breathtaking views, yet they could never imagine the painstaking work that goes into establishing, maintaining and running them. Therefore, if you are thinking about opening a hotel in Jamaica here is a list of a few things that you should know before doing so.


1. Understand the Regulations Surrounding the Opening of Such an Establishment

Understanding the laws surrounding the creation of hotels are mandatory in the business. Not only do these laws ensure safety for all the stakeholders involved, but failure to comply with them will result in fines, lawsuits or even more drastically, having the hotel dissolved. For example, it is impossible to start building a hotel near a beach if it is not compliant with the Beach Control Act. You can click on the link below for the tourism laws and policies page on the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) website to fully comprehend the specific legal requirements surrounding opening a hotel. http://www.jtbonline.org/tourism-in-jamaica/tourism-laws-policies/.


2. Location

The location of the hotel will play a major role in its success. There are various factors that should affect the choice of location for your hotel such as:


The target market- Understanding of your target market so that there can be proper alignment of your hotel accordingly is imperative. The target market may include local or international customers coming for business purposes, weddings, honeymoons, beaches and so forth. You will find that the locations would certainly differ in relation to the specific target group whether it be in the city (for customers coming on business) or on the coast line (for beach lovers and cruise ship passengers) etc.


Accessibility- Hotels inherently have a massive need for frequent deliveries of goods, furniture and other amenities. As such, your hotel needs to be located in an area that takes logistical considerations into account. This would play a part in ensuring little to no turnover in suppliers for the hotel, the lifeblood of your business. Having sufficient parking space for all the customers is also vital, as well as ensuring that the hotel is accessible by car and not too far away from the main roads. One must also take into account customers who may be physically disabled and therefore requires special accomodation by the hotel. Accessibility for your employees is another critical factor as a good location (easy to access, not too far away from transportation hubs etc.) would play a major part in the recruitment process.


Rent/Lease- If you are not buying the land that you would want to use for your hotel initially, but rather leasing or renting, then you need to be aware of whether or not you would be able to pay that fee each month while sustaining other expenses of the hotel.


Government Policies- One needs to be mindful of being located in a specific area/region where the government’s rules or regulations may or may not negatively affect the potential operations of the hotel.


Expansion- As your hotel becomes more established it will experience immense growth and therefore would need room for expansion. Ideally, your hotel’s real estate should allow for the possibility of future expansion.


3. Suppliers

Your hotel needs to have various amounts of products and amenities (bar soaps, bed sheets, towels, food etc.) on a regular basis to facilitate your guests’ various needs. Maintaining a good relationship with suppliers is essential as they are ultimately responsible for the provision of these necessities, which makes them extremely valuable to the hotel. It is of utmost importance that great care is taken when considering which suppliers are right for your hotel and as such here are a few factors that should guide your decisions:


Suppliers’ History and Reputation- If the suppliers you are currently thinking about have had a track record of being late in delivery schedules and provision of low quality goods, then it is recommended that you omit them from your considerations.


Suppliers’ customers- If you are aware of some of the customers that your potential suppliers have then you will be able to make an intelligent assumption on the quality of goods you will receive as well as the service and reliability of the supplier.


Size of the Suppliers- Your suppliers should have the sufficient capacity to provide the specific quantity of products needed weekly, fortnightly, monthly etc. One should not contract a supplier who may struggle to meet your demands for products as shortages will certainly have disastrous consequences for your hotel.


Pricing of Suppliers- A key consideration for choosing suppliers is affordability. There needs to be financial security on your part to ensure that you will be able to purchase these goods at the cost that the suppliers require when there is need for them. One must also note that even though affordability is key, the lowest priced suppliers are not always the best way to go as their quality of goods may be inferior.


Suppliers’ Financial Security- It is best to confirm that your potential suppliers have a strong cash flow to deliver what you need at the time that it is needed. You could perform a quick credit check or use other methods to ensure that the suppliers are not likely to experience financial failure in the future.


Partnership Approach- It is best to employ suppliers that want to develop a strong relationship between your hotel and their business. This type of relationship will benefit your hotel, as the suppliers will make every effort in their power to ensure that you are provided with the best service possible and there is also the potential for discounts and other incentives.


4. Maintenance

Hotels operate on a 24 hour basis all year round in an industry where the margin of error is very narrow. Therefore, every aspect of the hotel should always be properly maintained to facilitate satisfaction of needs and wants of guests of your hotel. A strategy that could be implemented is the preventive maintenance strategy.

Preventive maintenance refers to a regular routine check up (done weekly, fortnightly, monthly etc.) to ensure that the equipment of the hotel is functioning correctly. Cleaning, lubrication, oil changes, adjustments, repairs etc. are some of the actions that should be taken out by your maintenance personnel during these regularly scheduled check ups. It would be even more beneficial for you to have a preventive maintenance software to record the company’s maintenance data so you can be aware of all the inspections and repairs taking place in the hotel.

The preventive maintenance strategy is in itself a very advantageous system because:


Decreases unplanned downtime- The preventive maintenance strategy is focused on initiating regular check ups on equipment. Due to that routine check up, the percentage possibility of equipment being broken down unexpectedly is significantly lower, which also decreases the expensive costs that could be incurred because of this.


Less expensive repairs- The maintenance strategy alleviates the problem of unexpected equipment failure which can cause drastic and often expensive repairs, not to mention the risk of dissatisfied customers as a result.


Increase in the equipment life- The constant check up and maintenance of equipment gives added benefit of ensuring that they are in the best condition. This will extend their lifetime and reduce the cost of future replacements.


5. Energy Issues

In order to satisfy their customers, hotels often have massive energy consumption needs. Factors such as growth in occupancy and changes in consumer demand due to modern lifestyles has created more intensive usage of electronic (computer,TV etc.) and operating equipment (electric cooking, cold rooms etc.) which ultimately increases the energy consumption of a hotel. In fact, about 3%-6% of a hotel’s operating cost is allocated to energy consumption on a monthly basis, thus making it the second largest spending category. However, there are ways to minimize the level of energy consumption for your hotel:


Daylight sensors- It would be best to install occupancy and daylight sensors to ensure that the lights are only on when they are needed or required.


Do not overheat water- It is suggested that the water in the bathrooms should be heated to about 60 degrees Celsius as it is considered the ideal temperature for comfortable hot bathing water. Overheating of water is a waste of energy and will increase your expenses.


Installation of a Building Management System (BMS)- A BMS is a computer based control system that can be used to monitor the hotel’s mechanical and electrical services. For example, the BMS could be used to control the mixture of heating and cooling of the rooms of your guests while ensuring that the guests receive optimum comfort and at the same time saves energy (at least 10%) for the hotel.


Buy cost efficient equipment- When acquiring electrical appliances for your hotel, it should be a point of duty to look for those that are more cost efficient. This in itself will decrease energy consumption for your hotel, saving you hard earned money.


Consider solar power- Solar power should also be one of your options to decrease energy consumption. Solar power uses energy from the natural environment (the sun) and converts it to electricity to be used by your hotel.

Educate your employees- Reducing the energy consumption of your hotel will definitely require the cooperation of your whole staff. Educating your employees on certain energy practices, tips and tricks will help in your bid to reducing energy consumption.


6. Employment

The hospitality industry is customer service driven and therefore means that the employees are the brand ambassadors of your hotel. The margin of error is very small meaning any slip up could be detrimental to your hotel as it is very hard to recover from a bad hire in the industry. Hiring in the hotel industry should not solely focus on education, hard skills and experience because that is not what makes them perfect candidates for great customer service. It may be that in your process of hiring you would have to employ on a probationary period to see if your employees are the right fit, but it is also good to identify traits beforehand that indicates they are right for the job. Some traits that you could look for during the probation period and during the initial interview are:


Strong communication skills- </