How to Write a Rural Hotel Business Plan in 9 Steps: Checklist

  • Starting a Business
  • SWOT Analysis
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Welcome to our blog post on how to write a rural hotel business plan in 9 simple steps. As the tourism industry continues to thrive, the demand for unique and immersive experiences is on the rise. In fact, according to the latest statistics, rural tourism in the United States has seen steady growth of 20% in the past year alone. This presents a great opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs like you to tap into this market by establishing a rural hotel that offers a one-of-a-kind experience for domestic and international tourists.

With the right strategy and planning, your rural hotel can become a sought-after destination, creating sustainable growth for your business while supporting the local economy. In this article, we’ll walk you through a comprehensive checklist of steps to help you write an effective business plan that sets the foundation for your hotel’s success.

Let’s dive right in!

  • Identify target market and customer demographics
  • Research the local tourism industry and potential competitors
  • Conduct a feasibility study and assess the demand for a rural hotel
  • Determine location and assess resource availability
  • Define the hotel’s unique selling proposition
  • Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy
  • Create a financial plan and secure financing
  • Establish a strong network of suppliers and service providers
  • Build a team of qualified and experienced personnel

By following these steps, you will be equipped with the knowledge and tools to create a solid business plan for your rural hotel. Let’s start!

Identify target market and customer demographics

When creating a business plan for a rural hotel, it is crucial to identify the target market and understand the customer demographics . Knowing who your potential customers are will allow you to tailor your marketing offers and strategies accordingly.

To identify your target market, start by considering the type of experience your rural hotel will provide. Will it be a luxury retreat for discerning travelers or a family option for families? Will it appeal to adventure seekers or individuals seeking relaxation?

Once you have a clear idea of the experience, you offer, research and analyze the demographics of potential customers who would be interested in that experience. Consider factors such as age, income level, occupation, and travel preferences.

  • Tip 1: Use market research surveys and tools to gather data on your target market.
  • Tip 2: Analyze competitors targeting a similar customer base to better understand their marketing approach.
  • Tip 3: Consider conducting focus groups or interviews with potential customers to gather first-hand information.

By identifying your target market and understanding their demographics, you can create marketing messages and strategies that resonate with your customers. This will greatly increase your chances of attracting and retaining the right customers for your rural hotel.

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Research the local tourism industry and potential competitors

Before diving into the process of planning your rural hotel, it is crucial to thoroughly research the local tourism industry and assess potential competitors in your area. Understanding current market trends and analyzing your competitors will provide valuable insights that can help you differentiate your hotel and attract more guests.

Start by gathering information about the local tourism industry and identifying any emerging trends or patterns. This could include analysis of tourist demographics, preferences and behaviors. Consider factors such as the popularity of rural destinations, demand for unique experiences, and tourists’ willingness to spend on accommodations and activities.

Tip 1: Visit local tourism boards, chambers of commerce and visitor information centers to gather data on visitor numbers, popular attractions and existing hotel businesses in the area.

Next, perform a thorough analysis of potential competitors in the area. Identify other hotels, bed and breakfasts, inns or similar accommodations that cater to the rural tourism market. Analyze their offerings, pricing strategies, customer reviews, and overall reputation to get a complete picture of the competitive landscape.

Tip 2: Use online travel websites, review platforms, and social media platforms to gauge customer sentiment, feedback, and preferences for existing accommodations in the area. This will help you identify gaps in the market that your hotel can tap into.

When researching competitors, also pay close attention to their marketing and promotion strategies. This can give you insight into their target audience, distribution channels, and messaging tactics. By understanding what other businesses are doing, you can identify areas where you can differentiate and offer a unique value proposition to your potential customers.

Tip 3: Attend local tourism industry events, workshops or networking sessions to connect with other professionals in the field. This will allow you to gather first-hand information from industry insiders and build valuable relationships with potential partners or collaborators.

By thoroughly researching the local tourism industry and analyzing potential competitors, you will gain a full understanding of market dynamics and be better equipped to position your rural hotel for success.

Conduct a feasibility study and assess the demand for a rural hotel

Before embarking on the journey of establishing a rural hotel, it is crucial to conduct a feasibility study to assess the demand and viability of your business idea. This study will help you determine if there is sufficient demand in the market for a rural hotel and if the location you have in mind is suitable for such a business.

Start by researching current traveler trends and preferences. Identify the target market and customer demographics to understand what they are looking for in a rural hotel. Assess the demand for accommodations that offer a unique rural experience and the various activities and services that appeal to this specific market.

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Plus, extensive research of the local tourism industry and potential competitors in the area. Analyze offers and pricing strategies of existing hotels and lodges in similar rural locations. This will give you valuable insight into the competition and help you determine how you can differentiate your hotel from others.

During the feasibility study, it is important to assess the potential demand throughout the year. Consider factors such as seasonal variations, holidays, and local events that may attract tourists to the area. This will give you a better understanding of when your hotel is likely to experience higher or lower occupancy rates.

Feasibility Study Tips:

  • Research travel and tourism trends in the specific region where your rural hotel will be located.
  • Identify the target market and customer demographics to understand their preferences and expectations.
  • Analyze the offers and pricing strategies of existing competitors in the region.
  • Consider seasonal variations and local events that can impact accommodation demand.

Once you have conducted a thorough feasibility study and assessed the demand for a rural hotel, you will be equipped with crucial information to make informed decisions about your business. This information will guide your decisions regarding location, services and marketing strategies, ultimately ensuring the success of your rural hotel.

Determine location and assess resource availability

Choosing the right location for your rural hotel is crucial to its success. When determining location, consider factors such as accessibility, proximity to tourist attractions, and availability of essential resources.

Accessibility: Make sure your chosen location is easily accessible to domestic and international travelers. Assess proximity to major transportation hubs such as airports, train stations, or major highways. This will allow customers to reach your hotel and attract more customers.

Proximity to Tourist Attractions: Research and identify popular tourist attractions and activities in the area. Choose a location close to these attractions, as it will make your hotel more appealing to tourists. Additionally, consider any scenic views or natural settings that can add value to the overall guest experience.

Availability of resources: Assess the availability of essential resources needed to run a successful rural hotel. This includes a reliable and sufficient supply of water, electricity and internet connectivity. It is also important to consider the availability of skilled labor, local suppliers for food and beverages, and any other resources necessary to provide high quality service to your customers.


  • Visit potential locations: Take the time to physically visit potential locations before making a decision. This will give you a better understanding of the environment and allow you to assess the feasibility of running a hotel in that particular area.
  • Engage with local authorities: Contact local authorities, such as tourism boards or chambers of commerce, to gather information about the area and any potential grants or incentives available to businesses in the tourism industry.
  • Consider infrastructure development: Look for ongoing infrastructure projects in the area, such as road extensions or upcoming attractions. These projects can have a significant impact on the future appeal and accessibility of your hotel.
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By thoroughly evaluating location and resource availability, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your target market and sets the foundation for a successful rural hotel.

Define the hotel’s unique selling proposition

Defining the hotel’s unique selling proposition (USP) is an essential step in creating a successful business plan for a rural hotel. The USP is what sets your hotel apart from the competition and makes it irresistible to your target market. To define your hotel’s USP, consider the following:

  • Identify your hotel’s unique features: Consider the specific features of your rural hotel that make it stand out from others. It could be its location, amenities, services or even the experience it offers.
  • Highlight your customers’ benefits: Determine how your unique features will benefit your customers. This could include providing a tranquil and rejuvenating environment, showcasing local culture and activities, or providing exceptional customer service.
  • Emphasize the value proposition: Clearly communicate the value your hotel brings to your target market. This could offer competitive prices, special packages or exclusive experiences that are not available elsewhere.


  • Conduct market research to understand the needs and preferences of your target market. This will help you align your unique selling proposition with their desires.
  • Stay up to date on industry trends and the competition. Regularly evaluate what other hotels in your area are offering to ensure your USP remains relevant and engaging.
  • Communicate your USP consistently across all marketing channels, including your website, social media, and promotional materials, to create brand recognition and attract potential guests.

By defining your hotel’s unique selling proposition, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and attract guests who are looking for a one-of-a-kind rural experience. Remember, your USP should be clear, compelling, and aligned with your target market’s desires and preferences.

Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy

A solid marketing strategy is essential for the success of a rural hotel. This involves identifying your target market and creating strategies to effectively reach and engage with them. Here are some important considerations for developing a comprehensive marketing strategy:

  • Identify your target market: Determine who your ideal customers are, their demographics, preferences, and needs. This will help you tailor your marketing efforts to the right audience.
  • Create a Compelling Brand Identity: Develop a strong brand that resonates with your target market. This includes creating a memorable name, logo and visual elements that reflect the unique rural experience you offer.
  • Use various marketing channels: Consider using a mix of traditional and digital marketing channels to reach a wider audience. This may include print advertisements, online platforms, social media and email marketing.
  • Optimize your online presence: Create an attractive, user-friendly website that highlights your rural hotel’s unique amenities and offerings. Use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve your website’s visibility in search engine results.
  • Engage your target audience: Use social media platforms to connect with potential customers, share engaging content, and promote special offers or events. Encourage user-generated content by running contests or encouraging customers to share their experiences online.
  • Collaborate with local businesses: Form partnerships with local travel agencies, event organizers, and other businesses to create packages and cross-promote. This will help you expand your reach and attract a wider pool of customers.
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Tips for developing a comprehensive marketing strategy:

  • Research and understand your target market in detail to effectively tailor your marketing efforts.
  • Stay up to date with the latest marketing trends and technologies to take advantage of new opportunities.
  • Track the success of your marketing campaigns and make adjustments accordingly. Regularly assess the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing activities.
  • Consider offering special promotions or discounts to attract customers during off-peak seasons.
  • Monitor and respond to online reviews and comments to maintain a positive reputation.

Create a financial plan and secure financing

Creating a financial plan is a crucial step in ensuring the success and sustainability of your rural hospitality business. It involves assessing the financial requirements of your business and devising a strategy to secure the necessary funding. Here are some important considerations:

  • Estimate initial investment: Begin by determining the initial capital required to set up the hotel, including construction or renovation costs, furniture and equipment, permits and licenses, and any other necessary expenses.
  • Project Revenues and Expenses: Develop a detailed projection of your hotel’s expected revenue and expenses over a specific period, typically three to five years. This will help you assess the financial feasibility of your business and set realistic goals.
  • Explore funding options: Look for different funding sources such as bank loans, government grants, partnerships or private investors. Consider the pros and cons of each option and choose the one that aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.
  • Prepare a Compelling Business Plan: Create a well-structured and persuasive business plan that highlights your hotel’s unique selling points, potential market demand, competitive advantage, and financial projections. This document will be crucial in obtaining funding from investors or lenders.
  • Seek professional advice: Engage with financial advisors or consultants who specialize in the hospitality industry. They can provide valuable information, help prepare financial statements, and help you navigate complex financial issues.
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Tips for creating a financial plan and getting financing:

  • Include an emergency fund in your financial plan to account for unexpected expenses or emergencies.
  • Investigate local and regional economic incentives or subsidies that may be available to rural tourism businesses.
  • Clearly communicate the potential return on investment to potential lenders or investors.
  • Consider developing partnerships with local banks or credit unions that have experience financing hotel projects.

Establish a strong network of suppliers and service providers

In order to provide a unique and authentic rural experience for your hotel guests, it is crucial to establish a strong network of vendors and service providers who can contribute to the overall guest experience. This network will not only help you source locally made products and services, but will also support the local economy and build strong partnerships within the community.

When sourcing vendors and service providers, consider the following:

  • Research and Identify Local Businesses: Start by conducting research on local businesses that align with your hotel’s values and target market. Look for vendors that offer products and services unique to the rural area and can improve the customer experience.
  • Visit and Evaluate Potential Suppliers: Take the time to visit potential suppliers and service providers to get a first-hand look at their operations. Evaluate their professionalism, product quality and ability to meet your hotel’s needs. Make sure they have the capacity to meet your expected demand and ensure timely delivery.
  • Set Clear Expectations: Clearly communicate your expectations and requirements to your vendors and service providers. Establish clear guidelines for product quality, delivery times, and any specific certifications or standards they need to meet.
  • Negotiate Partnerships: Establish mutually beneficial partnerships with your vendors and service providers. Negotiate fair pricing terms, delivery schedules and payment terms. Consider offering incentives such as extended contracts or exclusive partnerships to encourage long-term collaborations.
  • Review and Evaluate Regularly: Continuously assess the performance of your vendors and service providers. Regularly review their products, services and customer feedback to ensure they meet your standards and exceed customer expectations. Solve problems quickly and consider seeking new partners if necessary.


  • Build Relationships: Take the time to build strong relationships with your vendors and service providers. Attend local events and participate in community activities to foster trust and loyalty.
  • Consider sustainability: Prioritize suppliers and service providers who adhere to sustainable practices. This can include sourcing locally, using eco-friendly materials and supporting community initiatives.
  • Encourage Feedback: Regularly ask for feedback from your vendors and service providers. This can provide valuable insights into how your hotel can improve its operations and strengthen its network.
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Build a team of qualified and experienced personnel

One of the key factors in running a successful rural hotel is having a team of qualified and experienced staff who are passionate about providing exceptional customer service. Here are some important considerations when building your team:

  • Hire individuals with relevant experience: Look for candidates who have previous experience working in the hospitality industry, especially at hotels or resorts. They should have a strong understanding of customer service, operations, and the unique challenges that come with running a rural hotel.
  • Look for individuals who are passionate about rural hospitality: Finding staff members who are truly enthusiastic about the rural experience and eager to share it with guests can dramatically improve the overall guest experience. Look for people who have a strong connection to the area and a genuine love for the outdoors and rural pursuits.
  • Invest in ongoing training and development: Hospitality is an ever-changing industry, and it’s important for your staff to stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices. Consider providing regular training programs or encouraging staff members to attend relevant workshops or conferences to improve their skills and knowledge.
  • Involve collaboration and teamwork: A cohesive and collaborative team is essential for the smooth running of your rural hotel. Encourage open communication, teamwork and a positive work culture to foster strong relationships among your staff members.
  • Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits: In order to attract and retain top talent, it is important to offer competitive compensation and benefits packages. This includes fair wages, health insurance options, retirement plans, and opportunities for advancement within the organization.

Tips for building a strong team:

  • Conduct thorough interviews and reference checks to ensure candidates have the necessary skills and experience.
  • Consider hiring local residents who have extensive knowledge of the area and can provide valuable information to your guests.
  • Create a positive work environment by fostering a culture of respect, support and recognition.
  • Provide ongoing feedback and opportunities for professional growth and development.


In conclusion, writing a business plan for a rural hotel requires careful research, strategic planning and a solid understanding of the target market and the local tourism industry. By following the nine steps outlined in this checklist, entrepreneurs can effectively craft a comprehensive plan that addresses key areas such as location, marketing, financing, and personnel. Implementing a business model that includes partnerships with local travel agencies and offering unique experiences can help attract domestic and international tourists while supporting the local economy. With a solid plan in place, rural hotel owners can build a successful and sustainable business that delivers memorable experiences for their guests.