How do I Build a Cheap Motel?

by Bryan Ordman; Updated September 26, 2017
Build a cheap motel, not a roach motel.

Opening a motel can be both a daunting and exciting project. Steps such as finding the proper location, applying for business licenses, building permits and renovating your location in an economical way are all paramount to starting up a successful low-budget destination for travelers.

Items you will need

  • Foreclosed motel or apartment building
  • Building permit
  • Business license
  • Low cost fixtures

Steps to Success

Step 1

Research and locate a low-cost building. Investigate foreclosed properties via local newspaper ads or internet websites like Forclosuredatabank.com to locate a low-cost building around the area where you want to open your motel. If you do not have enough liquid assets to plunk down on a foreclosed property, you may want to visit a local bank or lender to inquire about taking out a small business loan. Write a business plan for your hotel to show the loan officer.

Step 2

Visit your local county clerk's office and apply for a business license. Also check into whether or not the name you plan to use for your motel is available or already taken.

Step 3

Figure out if you need a zoning permit for any construction that you plan to do on your motel. Your local county clerk's office should have all the records on file to help you research which permit will work best for your situation.

Step 4

Renovate your motel with economical fixtures that are decorative and clean, but cost effective. This will help to ensure your motel meets health inspection requirements and provides your customers with a nice, economical place to stay. Contact the corporate offices of big chain hotels and ask if they have any remnants left from recent renovations anywhere in the country. If they do, then ask if you can buy enough furniture and fixtures to decorate your hotel. If that does not work, then consider a furniture warehouse store like Ikea, or contact a furniture manufacturer directly to see if you can get a reasonable price based on the volume of your purchase.

Make sure to buy new mattresses for all the beds in your hotel. Used mattresses are a bad idea because germs and small insects can easily adhere or burrow into a mattress' surface. Buy new mattresses for all your rooms and enclose them in vinyl mattress covers to prevent germ and insect infestation in your new motel.

Step 5

Develop a marketing strategy, including creating a sign for your hotel and investing in billboard advertisements. Also, place advertisements in the travel sections of newspapers and magazines in cities across the country. You want people traveling to your area to know the location and rates for your motel. Contact travel agencies and tour operators and offer heavily discounted rates for their customers. If people like your hotel, they will refer friends and relatives, so the discount will be well worth it. Request to have your motel added to internet hotel travel booking sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz. Since your motel is a smaller establishment, also consider listing it with sites that specifically book Bed & Breakfasts and smaller hotels/motels.

Step 6

Provide your customers with discounts and pricing that is competitive with competing motels and hotels in order to keep repeat business.

About the Author

Bryan Ordman is a film school graduate of Columbia College Chicago and has been working as a freelance writer since 2007. His primary focus while attending college was screenwriting. He has written in the past primarily as a film columnist but is now regular writer for eHow and Answerbag. Ordman obtained his Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College Chicago in 2008.

Photo Credits