We meet or talk with GMs, DOSMs, and Revenue Managers on almost a daily basis and the follow 10 ideas that can help attract and retain new guests, as supplied by Larry Mogelonsky with LMA Communications, should be framed and hung in each one of their offices as a constant reminder that marketing a hotel is a 365-day campaign.
Many GMs think that marketing planning is done once a year, typically in the fall and in advance of the coming fiscal year. Here are a series of quick points you can spring on your director of marketing to see to help keep your marketing program on track.
1. Repeat customers are easier to cultivate than new guests. Make sure you don’t forget to capture as much information as you can for each guest. Expand your database to know: why they visited, what they did (spa, golf, meals, room type, etc.) Then, maintain a relationship with your past guests, encouraging them to revisit by appealing to their interests.
2. To everything there is a season. Mark your calendar in advance. Plan every holiday with military precision. Unlike every other promotional program that you create, these no-brainer events deserve your full attention. If you’re not full, shame on you! You have the power and the knowledge. Just do it. No excuses.
3. Everybody eats. Of course you have a spa and you might have a golf course, too. But at best a quarter of people regularly visit spas, with lower numbers for golf. However, with almost perfect certainty, I can guarantee that your guests eat, Make it your business to ensure that they eat with you. Create menus and venues that give your guests what they want. Incentivize them with room and food packages if need be.
4. Remember there are five weekdays and two days in the weekend. Depending upon your property’s location, this typically means that business groups take precedence to leisure travel. Now examine your sales and marketing plan spending. Is this reality accurately reflected?
5. Marketing needs to start the minute your guest interacts with you. Once you have a reservation, start your engines! Remember the importance of initial experiences. A welcome packet on check-in beats a myriad of tent cards.
6. You don’t control price; the market does. Only your owners are interested in comparisons to pre-2008 ADRs. Be realistic in your expectations. It’s a different world out there. If your competitive set is at $250 per night, don’t even think that the old days of $400 per night are in the cards. Remember that without occupancy, rate is irrelevant.
7. The minute you wean yourself off the OTAs, the better. Sure, they provide a quick fill. But they drive your rate down and do nothing to generate loyalty in your product. For example, the latest OTA deal is to offer a four-star property at a two-star price. Think about it for a moment: they are commoditizing all the work it took you to get to four stars, relegating you to an equal with others at that level.
8. Invest in your local neighborhood. Hire and train. Promote and motivate. Donate and participate.Give back and tell everyone about it. It pays to be a friend and a community leader. Treat everyone as family and they will return in kind.
9. Socially savvy makes sense. Don’t just pay lip service to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Invest in appropriate programs to harness the energy of these programs and fully integrate them into your marketing programs and brand strategy.
10. Your website is your window to the world. Make it sing, and make sure that it works effectively. Don’t expect to be No. 1 in Google search if you are an independent in a busy market. Use creative programs to drive links.
And One Bonus Idea
Advertising still works. The best way to find you is through your website. Advertise its presence. Create meaningful advertising campaigns that combine eye-catching imagery with calls to action. And remember to measure the campaign, not just each and every individual ad.
Larry Mogelonsky (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the president and founder of LMA Communications Inc., a, full-service communications agency focused on the hospitality industry. Larry is also the developer of Inn at a Glance hospitality software. As a recognized expert in marketing services, his experience encompasses Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Preferred Hotels & Resorts, as well as numerous independent properties throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Larry is a registered professional engineer, and received his MBA from McMaster University.
Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook or contact him by email.