Choose your country

Or view all businesses for sale



How To Run a Motel

As a new or longtime motel owner, there are unique challenges that come with the hospitality industry. Here are a few strategic ways to profitably run a motel.

The motel industry continues to grow year after year, with no signs of slowing down. Over the past five years, the industry grew 4.4% to reach a total revenue of $194 billion in 2018. Just because the industry is healthy though, doesn’t mean that running your own motel is easy or that any motel is sure to be a success.

Motel success relies on maintaining a healthy occupancy rate to facilitate positive cash flow. The average occupancy rate nationally was 68% in 2018, meaning that nearly 7 out of every 10 rooms are occupied at any given time. Maintaining an occupancy at or near that threshold can help ensure a profitable business.  

However, it takes a well-developed business strategy and a strong understanding of customer behavior to consistently meet the occupancy rate you need to be profitable. Here is what you need to do to make a successful hotel a reality in 2019.

Comfort, cleanliness, & care

When it comes to retaining returning customers and maintaining positive customer satisfaction, it’s helpful to know what guests prioritize when staying at a motel.

According to a study by the Hotel School at the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell

University, motel guests care most about the comfort and cleanliness of their room and the customer service they receive during their stay.

Other considerations like motel amenities, location, and the physical building itself are less important to customers, which clearly demonstrates how they prioritize the experience of the stay over the physical motel itself.

With that knowledge, it’s easier to cater to guests’ priorities. Ensure your staff cleans frequently and thoroughly, especially in guest rooms and bathrooms. Reallocate your budget to spend more on items like bed linens, mattresses, good lighting, and in-room amenities and less on extraneous amenities like gym equipment or superficial upgrades to the building itself.

Finally, make sure your staff is fully trained to deliver the best customer experience possible. They should be able to anticipate guest needs and maintain a positive and helpful disposition with guests. If your motel is short staffed and the lack of workers prevents them from delivering adequate service, it’s worth the extra money to hire more hands.

Keeping an eye on the competition 

Aside from ensuring customer satisfaction within your own property, it can be helpful to keep an eye on the local competition. First, conduct research in your area to determine what other motels are charging per night.

You may learn you’re charging more than your fellow motel owners and losing business as a result. Or, you may learn you’re charging less and generating less profit than you could be.

Another helpful strategy is to stay at your competitors’ motels once a year to determine why they’re successful and where there’s opportunity for your motel to shine. As a guest yourself, it’ll be obvious if beds are comfortable, the morning breakfast is well-prepared, or if the bathrooms are always spotless. Use these insights to improve your own motel and stand out from the competition.

Advertise strategically for 2019

When guests choose a motel, it’s usually an in-the-moment decision; it’s rare for business travelers or roadtrippers to plan their motel stay ahead of time. That’s why it’s important to advertise where your guests are most likely looking for you. In 2019, this primarily means showing up in Google when people search for local businesses.

Your business can show up organically in a Search Results Page (SERP), in a local 3 pack, local finders, or other SERP opportunities. It’s important that you optimize your motel’s website and encourage reviews from websites like Yelp in order to show up when a potential customer searches for a place to stay. Moz, a renowned SEO website, provides a helpful guide on all the ways your business can rank better for local search.

Another classic advertising strategy for motels is billboards. Travelers know when a motel is nearby thanks to well-placed billboards and exit signs on popular highways. The investment is worthwhile, as these signs are one of the main ways travelers pick a motel. Then, if they do a quick Google search of your motel and see good reviews and helpful images, it’s likely you’ll get them through the door.

Running a motel isn’t easy, but by understanding your customers and implementing smart strategies, a successful occupancy rate is possible. For more helpful information and advice on the hospitality industry, trust for all the tips and tricks that can take your motel to the next level.

Bruce Hakutizwi

About the author

USA and International Manager for, a global online marketplace for buying and selling small medium size businesses. The website has over 60,000 business listings and attracts over 1.5 million buyers to the site every month.


Subscribe to our email updates

Sign up to receive the latest advice, most popular businesses, special offers and much more.

I'm interested in is committed to protecting your privacy. We will use the information you provide on this form to send you marketing emails . Find out more about what we do with your information in our Privacy Policy.
Marketing Emails: You will receive newsletters, advice and offers about buying and selling businesses and franchises. We will also send you information about events relating to buying, selling or running a business.

Are you a Business Owner?

Set up your Private Seller Account and create your listing today

Get Started Here

Are you a Business Broker?

Set up your BrokerWeb Account and list multiple businesses

Get Started Here