Football and hospitality have a lot in common. For a start, there’s their ubiquity. Wherever you are in the world, you’re never too far from someone kicking a football (yes, I’m talking about soccer); just like you’re never far from a hotel, hostel or long-stay lodging. 

Europe’s attention will be focused on Germany this month as Euro 2024 gets underway, which makes it a pertinent time to ask: what can hospitality learn from football? 

Table of contents

Value teamwork

Football is a team sport. The same is true for hospitality. Let’s explore the metaphor.

The most obvious part of a football team is the players on the pitch. They’re the most visible and they perform the most eye-catching role. These are your guest-facing staff, the people who guests will see throughout their stay, from receptionists to waiters. They have a hugely important role to play, but without proper direction, they won’t provide the most remarkable experiences. 

That’s where the coach – or general manager – comes in. It’s their vision that sets out how the team/brand acts, from training to motivation.

But there’s much more to a football club (I’m not talking about the mascots). The off-pitch staff play just a vital role in the success of the team, from commercial managers to marketers to chefs. The most successful clubs have a cohesive vision and ethos across every department, and this mindset is equally important to the performance of any hotel.

Use technology the right way

Believe me, I don’t want to get into the pros and cons of video assistant referees (VARs). But it’s telling that the overall feeling towards the newly introduced technology is mixed, to say the least.  

Here’s the thing: the main objections aren’t about the technology itself. It’s about the application of it. The tech is good, it’s just not being used in an effective way by the officials. 

And that brings me to hospitality. It’s all well and good choosing the best PMS (Mews) and the most sophisticated integrations, but if you don’t use them in the right way, your business and your guests will suffer. A platform like Mews has so many cool features that it’s easy to miss some. It's my job to write for Mews and even I’m always discovering new things. That’s why I love our release notes page. It’s a great overview of all things new and ensures that hoteliers are making the most of their hotel tech. 

Dream big

Denmark in 1992. Greece in 2004. The Euros show that even on the biggest stages, a well-organized team can produce outstanding results.

You don’t have to be a Marriott or a Hilton to lead the way. Smaller, independent hotels are often able to outperform the usual suspects if they leverage technology to help them perform above their means. For instance, a boutique hotel won’t have the marketing budget of a branded resort, but with smart integrations like a customer relationship management (CRM) tool and marketing platform, they can run highly effective campaigns that boost revenue across the guest journey.

Be flexible in your tactics

Great football teams (and managers) can adapt quickly. If the opposition is dominating or what you set out to do is proving ineffective, you can’t just sit there and hope things will change. Being proactive pays off. 

You can probably see where I’m going with this one. If occupancy levels aren’t as high as you’d like, try different techniques to see what’s most effective. It could be tweaking your rate management or trying a new revenue management integration. Or maybe you run a tailored marketing offer or even explore day room bookings and boost revenue that way. 

Never assume something will or won’t work. Test it, analyze the performance, and see where the biggest impacts are. As long as you have a flexible hospitality cloud (coughMewscough), trying out these tactics should be fast and easy. 

Harness your local community

Perhaps the greatest virtue of sport – alongside its physical benefits – is the fact that it brings communities together. This is true at club level, where communities can cross continents, and at country level, where whole nations are united. 

Why is this important for hoteliers? Communities are powerful. They foster strong emotional bonds that influence decision making, such as whether to return to a much-loved hotel, or whether to try somewhere new.  

More and more guests are searching for authentic community experiences when they travel. Your property is the perfect hub for this; you can promote local businesses, showcase local artists and partner with local charities and organizations that give back to the area. All this will help foster bonds that not only bring guest stays to life, but also bring real value to the local community. And with services like F&B, spas, day room use and workspaces, you broaden your reach to those who live in the neighborhood. 

Learn more about How to Diversify Hotel Revenue. 

In the mood for some more outside-the-box thinking about hospitality? Dive into more of the Lessons from series: