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 How to Stretch Your Marketing Budget; Using
Unsold Room Inventory as Currency

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by Jody Merl, August 2005

How do you rise above the crowd in today’s competitive marketplace if you have limited funds?

How do you announce a renovation or new hotel feature without the budget to print collateral or undertake a direct mail campaign? How do you support a tactical sales effort without the money to buy media to reach your target audience? The answer is using unsold room inventory as currency to stretch your marketing budget.

Whether you are giving away a weekend for two in a radio promotion, or hosting a group during slow season in exchange for a page in a magazine, you are already trading inventory for something of value. Why not take it to the next step and create a meaningful advertising schedule paid for with empty rooms? Using barter as a financial tool to expand your sales and marketing efforts is a simple and effective way to purchase media without writing a check. A 200-room hotel with an average rate of $300, for example, can use 1% of its inventory to achieve a $219,000 barter credit to purchase media and marketing services.

According to The Wall Street Journal, barter is a $20 billion dollar industry and 80% of Fortune 500 companies have used barter successfully. Many of the top hotel companies, airlines and cruise lines use barter to expand their advertising schedules because of the multiple benefits. In addition to increasing profit and revenue, your average rate and occupancy increases from the redemption of the rooms at full rate. The barter credit gives you the purchasing power to buy quality media and services that will impact sales.

How did JetBlue launch its airline? How did Rosewood Hotels & Resorts expand their consumer branding campaign? How did the Marquis Los Cabos run a media campaign to create awareness as a newly opened hotel? They all used barter to buy consumer advertising placed through a top hotel barter company. As long as you are not a current cash advertiser, most consumer, travel trade and business publications are available on trade. You can also use trade credit to buy radio, television, billboards and even printing services and client gifts. Putting a barter line in your budget annually will afford you the marketing dollars to stand out in the crowd and get results. 

Jody Merl is President of Innovative Travel Marketing, a member of the Leading Service Provider Network.

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Contact:

Deniz Omurgonulsen
Strategic Planning Manager
The Leading Hotels of the World
denizo@lhw.com

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Also See: Maximizing the Value of Available Rooms - Putting Barter to Work / Nov 2000
Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau Turns to Bartering for Advertising After Budget Cut Nearly 60% / May 2003


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