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How to start a hotel business

how to start a hotel business

If you're passionate about providing exceptional hospitality and managing a range of services, starting a hotel business could be a good fit for you. This guide will walk you through the steps of initiating and operating a successful hotel business, including the advantages and challenges involved in starting a business, how to go about creating a business website to support your hotel business and how to generate revenue in the hotel industry.

What is a hotel business?

A hotel business is a service-oriented business that offers a variety of accommodations, amenities and services to guests. Hotel businesses typically provide services such as:

  • Lodging services, including room reservations and check-ins

  • Dining options, such as restaurants and room service

  • Event hosting and conference facilities

  • Recreational facilities, like gyms, pools and spas that can be used both by hotel guests and visitors

Why start a hotel business?

The US hotel industry is on a steady climb, projected to grow by a healthy 5.5% per year through 2033. That translates to big bucks for savvy hospitality entrepreneurs – travelers are spending billions annually on their stays, with the average US hotel room topping $212 per night, according to Hopper's Q1 2023 data. This market presents a ripe opportunity for anyone with a passion for guest experience and a knack for creative ideas. 

How to start a hotel business in 7 steps

01. Decide on your hotel business niche

Various types of hotels cater to distinct preferences and market segments. When starting a hotel business, think about the target audience you wish to attract and what amenities can best suit their needs. Some of the more popular hotel business niches include:

  • Luxury hotel chains: Starting a luxury hotel chain or a resort hotel can provide guests with high-end experiences and upscale accommodations, emphasizing luxury amenities and personalized services. 

  • Resort hotels: Resort hotels focus on providing guests with enjoyable and luxurious experiences, often situated in scenic locations with extensive amenities like spas, recreational activities and fine dining options.

  • Boutique hotels: Boutique hotels are characterized by their intimate settings, unique themes and personalized services, appealing to travelers seeking distinctive hospitality experiences.

  • Extended stay hotels: Targeting guests with longer accommodation needs, extended stay hotels like Residence Inn by Marriott or Homewood Suites offer spacious rooms and kitchen facilities that are designed for extended visits.

  • Budget-friendly accommodations: Motels and economy hotels cater to cost-conscious travelers, providing amenities at affordable rates while maintaining a level of quality and cleanliness.

  • Class A hotels: Class A hotels include well-known brands like Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Courtyard by Marriott that offer comfort at competitive rates, appealing to a broad range of travelers.

02. Create a business plan

Develop a comprehensive business plan that covers key aspects of your business planning such as your target market, executive summary, marketing strategy and financial projections. This plan serves as a roadmap for your business and aids in conveying your vision to potential investors when seeking funding. It should also include other important business information such as the type of business you plan to start and your choice of a business name

Here’s a hotel business plan template to get you started:

Hotel business plan template

Executive Summary

 Business Name: [Your Hotel's Name]

 Business Structure: [Sole Proprietorship/Partnership/LLC/Corporation]

 Location: [City, State]

 Founding Date: [Month, Year]

 Founders/Owners: [Names]

 Mission Statement: [Concise statement of the hotel's purpose]

Business Description

Overview: Briefly describe your hotel, including its key features, amenities and services.

 Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Clearly define what sets your hotel apart from competitors.

Target Market: Identify your primary customer demographic and market segment.

Services and Amenities

 List and describe the accommodations, services and amenities your hotel will offer.

 Include room types, dining options, event spaces, recreational facilities, etc.

Market Analysis

 Industry Overview: Provide an overview of the hotel industry, including trends and growth projections.

 Competitor Analysis: Identify key competitors and analyze their strengths and weaknesses.

 Target Audience: Define your target customer profile and their preferences.

Marketing and Sales Strategy

Marketing Plan: Outline your strategies for promoting the hotel, including online and offline channels.

Pricing Strategy: Detail your pricing structure and any promotional pricing.

Sales Tactics: Describe how you will attract bookings and increase occupancy rates.

Operational Plan

Location and Facilities: Describe the physical location and facilities of your hotel.

Suppliers: List and describe key suppliers for goods and services.

Staffing: Outline your staffing plan, including roles and responsibilities.

Financial Plan

Startup Costs: Detail initial investment requirements and startup expenses.

Revenue Projections: Provide realistic revenue projections for the first 3-5 years.

Operating Costs: Outline ongoing operating expenses, including utilities, maintenance and staff salaries.

Funding Requirements: Specify any funding needed and potential sources (loans, investors).

Funding Proposal

Purpose of Funding: Clearly state how the funds will be utilized.

Amount Needed: Specify the amount of funding required.

Repayment Plan: Outline the proposed repayment plan for loans or investments.

Risk Analysis

 Identify potential risks and challenges that may impact the success of your hotel.

 Develop strategies to mitigate and manage these risks.


Include any additional documents or information relevant to your business plan.

Examples: Market research data, resumes of key team members, mock-ups of marketing materials.


 Summarize the key points of your business plan and highlight the potential success of your hotel.

 Conclude with a call to action or next steps.

Note: This template serves as a general guide. Adjust and expand sections based on your specific business model and goals.

03. Select a business structure

Choose an appropriate business entity or structure for your hotel, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC) or corporation. Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, so select the that algins with your business goals.

04. Obtain business financing or capital

Starting a hotel business involves substantial start-up costs. You’ll need to secure considerable financing through methods like bank loans, grants or investments from stakeholders to launch and sustain your business.

Costs that you’ll need to factor in when securing financing for your business include:

  • Purchase or lease of land or existing property

  • Renovation or construction costs for the hotel building

  • Fees for obtaining necessary licenses and permits for operating a hotel

  • Interior design services

  • Furniture, fixture and equipment for guest rooms, common areas and facilities 

  • Installation of reservation systems and hotel management software

  • Purchase of computers, servers and other technology infrastructure

  • Recruitment and training costs for hotel staff

  • Initial salaries and benefits for employees

  • Marketing and advertising campaigns to promote the hotel

  • Making a website and its maintenance

  • Initial inventory of linens, towels, toiletries and other guest supplies

  • Setup and stocking of restaurant, bar, or catering facilities

  • Licensing and health inspection costs for F&B operations

  • Property insurance to protect against fire, theft or natural disasters

  • Payment of applicable taxes, including property taxes and business taxes

05. Set up accounting and bookkeeping systems

Establish robust accounting and bookkeeping systems from the outset to track income, expenses and ensure financial viability. This includes managing corporate tax obligations if applicable.

06. Source specific hotel equipment

Acquire the necessary equipment for your hotel, ranging from room furnishings to kitchen appliances, based on the services you plan to offer. Some more specific examples of this include:

  • Front office systems: Computers, POS systems for check-in/out, reservation management software, and key card systems.

  • Payment and communication: Cash registers, credit card processing terminals, and telephone systems.

  • Guest room essentials: Beds, mattresses, linens, towels, wardrobes, dressers, bedside tables, lamps, desks, chairs and room safes.

  • Room comforts: Air conditioning/heating units, mini-fridges, minibars, televisions, irons, ironing boards and hairdryers.

  • Cleaning and maintenance: Cleaning carts, vacuum cleaners, carpet cleaners, laundry equipment and basic maintenance tools.

  • Kitchen and dining facilities: Commercial ovens, stoves, grills, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, utensils, dining tables, chairs, tableware, and flatware.

  • Technology and entertainment: Wi-Fi, internet connectivity, audiovisual equipment, gym equipment, pool/spa equipment and game room equipment.

  • Security and safety: Surveillance cameras, monitoring systems, access control, alarms, security lighting, fire detection and suppression systems.

  • Operational supplies: Cleaning supplies, toiletries, guest amenities, staff uniforms and waste disposal systems.

  • Meeting and event facilities: POS systems for restaurant transactions, conference tables, chairs and catering equipment.

07. Register your hotel

Register your hotel business in compliance with local regulations, obtain the required licenses and secure appropriate insurance coverage.

How much does it cost to start a hotel business?

Starting a hotel business requires a substantial financial investment to cover various expenses such as property acquisition or lease, renovations or construction, operational costs, furnishing costs, staffing, amenities, marketing and contingency funds. The amount of money needed to start a hotel business can vary significantly depending on factors like location, size, target market and level of luxury.

Starting a small boutique hotel could require anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, while larger upscale hotels may require multi-million dollar investments. It's crucial to conduct thorough financial planning, including budgeting for both initial startup costs and ongoing operational expenses, to ensure the successful launch and sustainable growth of your hotel business.

Tips for managing your hotel business for profitability

Once you’ve got your hotel off the ground, you’ll need to understand how to properly run and manage it in order to make sure it’s profitable. Here are some general tips on how to achieve that: 

Research your industry

Gain a deep understanding of the hotel industry, including market competition, target demographics and financial requirements. If you lack experience in the hotel industry, consider working for an established hotel or volunteering at a local hospitality agency to acquire valuable insights and experience. You might also choose to partner with someone who has that experience and industry connections.

Create a financial plan

Create a financial plan that includes detailed projections for startup costs, operational expenses, revenue forecasts and a profitability analysis. It should also include a thorough market analysis to determine the feasibility of starting your hotel business, considering factors such as target market demand, competition, pricing strategies and potential ROI.

Your financial plan should also outline capital sources, whether through personal investment, loans, partnerships or investors and establish a clear budget allocation for areas like property acquisition, renovations, staffing, technology implementation and contingency funds. Effectively managing resources and startup capital, you can proactively mitigate risks.

Promote your hotel

Develop a robust marketing strategy from the beginning to proactively promote your hotel. You’ll also need to make a hotel website, for hotel bookings and promotions.

Emphasize customer service

Exceptional customer service is crucial for success in the hotel industry. Ensure a positive experience for guests from booking to check-out. Invest in well-trained staff and establish clear customer service protocols to handle any hotel issues that may arise.

Hotel businesses to inspire (all built on Wix)

This boutique Williamsburg hotel offers unique rooms as well as a beach club, nightclub, dining and other great facilities for their guests. 

This alps based hotel offers luxury stays from its historic building. Their large lawns offer a number of popular activities for hotel guests, including a children's play area. 

This Mexican holiday rental villa includes 5 bedrooms and a stunning pool, for the perfect getaway. And is proof that you can start a hotel business with a vacation rental and build from there. 

This furnished local accommodation for all lengths of stays also proves that a hotel business can be started with all types of properties. 

This motel in North Carolina also offers pet stays and online booking services. 

Benefits of starting a hotel business

Operating a hotel allows you to be your own boss, set your own hours and make independent decisions. At the same time the demand for hotel services is consistently high, particularly in areas with a substantial tourist or business traveler presence. For business owners who enjoy interacting with people, a hotel business can be rewarding on many levels. 

Challenges of running a hotel business

Hotel management requires diverse skills in areas such as customer service, event planning and facility maintenance. You’ll either need to become an expert fast in all of these areas, or invest in people who can do them. 

Coordinating bookings, managing client expectations and ensuring timely service delivery can be challenging. Working with an online booking system or scheduling software is crucial for managing this effectively. 

Hotel occupancy rates can vary, leading to fluctuations in workload and revenue. With these challenges comes also the fact that the hotel industry is competitive and standing out requires a unique value proposition and effective marketing.

How profitable is a hotel business?

The profitability of a hotel business depends on factors such as location, market demand, competition, pricing strategies and operational efficiency. For example, high population density and tourist-centric areas often offer more potential customers but may also mean increased competition from other hotels. This intense competition may be applying more competitive rates and diversified services in order to compete and make a profit. In general, regardless of the type of business, streamlining business processes can contribute to higher profitability by reducing costs and enhancing service delivery.

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