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Hotel Preopening | All You Need to Know


Whether you are planning to launch a boutique hotel, lodge, resort or a hotel, the preopening period is the most critical and challenging stage. There is a lot you have to consider as this stage can either make or break your brand. We will take you through some of the most critical aspects to consider.


We will break down hotel preopening planning into 9 elements:

  1. Administration
  2. Legal compliance
  3. Systems – Software and Hardware
  4. Financial plan
  5. Marketing plan
  6. Rooms Division plan
  7. Food & Beverage plan
  8. Risk Management
  9. Human resources



This is one of the most important aspects you have to consider on preopening and includes the following:

  • Determining insurance needs and getting quotes from different insurance providers. Choose your insurance wisely so that you do not have to struggle later. Your insurance should basically cover everything, from the buildings to contents. Your insurance needs may vary depending on the services you offer. For example, if you will provide shuttle services, you will need an insurance that convers that as well.
  • Confirm leases and make sure that you have the copies available.
  • Identify your suppliers and establish a relationship with them. Some may need you to fill in forms to be on their system.
  • Develop systems including inventory management, purchase order systems, requisition procedures, etc.
  • Your establishment stationery including business cards, brochures, flyers, PMS stationery, guest account stationery, payroll and personnel forms.
  • Staff uniforms and name tags/ badges.


Legal Compliance

Legal compliance varies from one area to the other. Make sure that you comply with every legal requirement, otherwise you may not be allowed to operate the business. It includes the following:

  • Correct zoning
  • Business trading license
  • Certificate of acceptability – to prepare meals
  • Health and safety certificate
  • Liquor license
  • TV license, etc.


Systems – Software and Hardware

Systems are the engines of the business and they include:

  • Property Management System (PMS) to manage your bookings. There are many in the market; choose wisely. We recommend a cloud-based system.
  • Point of Sale (POS) system. Just as with PMS, there is a lot in the market; choose wisely.
  • Computers, tables, telephones, etc.
  • Printers and scanners.
  • WiFi
  • CCTV
  • In-room entertainment including TVs, decoders, etc. We recommend Smart TVs.
  • Timekeeping system.


Financial Plan

This is one of the most critical elements and includes:

  • Accounting Package (ACCPAC) software
  • Financial plan manual
  • Establish credit policy and procedure
  • Obtain accounting procedures manual
  • Set up salaries bank account
  • Order payroll software
  • Order payroll stationery
  • Set up preopening budget
  • Operating forecasts
  • Draft a 12-month operating budget
  • Draft Capex budget
  • Set-up bank accounts and obtain speed point systems.
  • Determine operating cash requirements
  • Open fixed asset register
  • Pre-opening asset stock take


Marketing Plan

You will need guests to run a profitable accommodation business. Your marketing plan should include the following:

  • Develop USP per market segment
  • Complete your competitor analysis
  • Complete SWOT analysis
  • Develop facilities guide/ presentation folder
  • Develop pre-opening brochure
  • Develop your permanent brochure
  • Develop ancillary sales collateral / stationery
  • Develop press kit
  • Develop property maps and set up Google hotel account
  • Co-ordinate photo shoot
  • Appoint a marketing plan coordinator
  • Appoint sales executive
  • Develop your establishment rates structure
  • Complete and submit rate builder
  • Determine target groups
  • Determine official opening date and programme
  • Develop your branding
  • Determine a good web designer and hosting site
  • Plan your URL
  • Get a good booking engine
  • Register with OTAs


Rooms Division Plan

The rooms division department is arguably one of the most important departments. You should consider the following:

  • Obtain quality standard operating procedures
  • Develop guest service standards
  • Schedule pre-opening quality assessment
  • Implement guest feedback system
  • Buy housekeeping equipment including trolleys, carts, buckets, vacuum cleaners, brooms, mops, cloths, cleaning agents, etc.
  • Buy linen and establishment par stock levels.
  • Buy guest bathroom amenities
  • Buy guest stationery
  • Laundry equipment
  • Guest laundry forms and pricelist
  • Lost and found procedure
  • If you will be outsourcing housekeeping, get service level agreement finalised


Food & Beverage Plan

The food & beverage department is another important department. You must consider the following:

  • Develop F&B outlet concepts
  • Develop restaurant concept and theme
  • Menu planning, costing and tastings
  • Develop standard recipes
  • Menu pricing and printing
  • Restaurant furniture and linen
  • Cutlery and crockery
  • Bar concept and operating hours
  • Beverage list and wine list
  • Beverage costings
  • Beverage and wine prices
  • Bar equipment and glassware
  • Room service menu and pricing
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Conferencing equipment
  • Food & Beverage storage facilities


Risk Management

You must plan for the following:

  • Obtain risk management manual
  • Determine insurance needs and get insurance providers
  • Make sure that insurance is activated
  • Draft emergency procedures
  • Obtain emergency services numbers
  • Appoint fire station officers
  • Fire emergency exits and assembly point
  • Order first aid boxes and emergency equipment
  • Get training provider for first aid and fire & emergency
  • Check CCTV installation and monitoring
  • Ensure key registering and monitoring system is in place
  • Ensure computer security and determine offsite server
  • Backup systems and procedures
  • Electronic communication policy


Human Resources

Your staff is the most important asset in terms of making sure that all systems work and your guests are well taken care of. You must consider the following:

  • Determine an organisational chart / organogram
  • Finalise staffing numbers
  • Finalise salary and benefits budget
  • Operating standard procedures manual
  • Establish conditions of employment
  • Draw up contracts of employment and job descriptions
  • Arrange for probationary performance reviews
  • Organise service level agreements for maintenance, security, housekeeping, laundry, etc and as needed.
  • Organize staff transport or staff housing whichever is needed
  • Develop hiring schedule
  • Preopening training budget
  • Develop training schedules
  • Procure training providers and confirm training dates
  • Hire the Management Team and Front Office
  • Hire service and support staff including housekeeping, F&B, guards, sales consultant, groundsmen, etc
  • Hire temporary staff
  • Schedule grooming training and uniform fitting
  • Schedule induction training, skills training, systems training (PMS & POS) and emergency procedures training.


Hotel Preopening Consultants

Preopening requires the know-how and can destroy your brand if some things are overlooked. More often than not, you will require external providers to assist you during this stage. Sam Hospitality has assisted many hospitality operators to launch successful businesses. We offer our services throughout Africa and abroad. If you would like us to help you during the preopening phase, please email us on training@hospitalitycourses.co.za or call Samkeliso Nkwanyane on +27 82 765 9238 at least 6 months before your projected opening date.


Let us help you to successfully launch an amazing hotel, lodge, boutique hotel or resort.