Hotel Online  Special Report

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 “Turn, Turn, Turn:”
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Making (Marketing) Plans for the Long-Term
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March 2006 - “Turn, turn, turn”: That’s how the old Byrd’s song goes, and so chants the Biblical verse that has reminded generations that things come into being and pass away, everything with a season for growth, decay, and rebirth. 

As spring approaches, it’s not a bad time to remind ourselves that the industry has experienced an amazing rebirth in the past couple of years, to the heights of profitability and revenue-generation that most hotels now enjoy.

It’s also not a bad time to remember that the industry, like all things, is cyclical, and there will inevitably be tough times ahead. Maybe in a year, maybe in five – the timing is not ours to know or understand.

From a marketing perspective, however, the lesson of the industry’s “cyclicality” is clear: Now is the time to take the planning process, for a hotel or a brand, beyond the urge to grab the quick buck – though there’s no reason you cannot grab that, too! – and create a long-term marketing strategy that fosters lasting impressions and loyalty in your customer, a loyalty that will far outlive the fat wallet or padded expense account that currently permits him to stay with you.  

From a marketing perspective, here a few simple ways to invest modestly to increase your long-term marketing strategy:

  • Create a plan – If you don’t have a comprehensive marketing plan for your hotel, now is the time to create one. I know, everybody today is busy selling . . . but when the market slows down, everyone will busy knocking on doors to generate any business at all! Take a step back, work with your internal sales and marketing team, or hire a consultant to create a long-term strategy for marketing you property, and include contingency planning for good times, as well as bad. Dollars to donuts, sooner or later you will be glad you did.
  • Talk to your customer –  Congratulations, you have lots of guests! Listen to them. They will tell you things about your property that neither you nor a corporate manager could ever observe. Take whatever guest-feedback mechanism you have, and utilize it to the fullest. Get their input on the physical property, as well as the service you provide and the way you “sell” yourself. And do it now, while you have guests filling up your rooms evaluating your hotel, for free, in a way that you could never do on your own.
  • Establish professional marketing relationships  - Have you ever considered using an advertising firm, a PR firm, or a consultant to get things done that your professional staff cannot handle on its own? If so, now may be the time to start some conversations. As your business is bustling, so (hopefully) is theirs. That means they can afford to hire additional staff to service clients and (again, hopefully), you can meet with a principal to understand fully what they have to offer. Meet these folks and create relationships. You may or may not need their help now, but you will want to know who the “go-to” people are, when you do need them.
  • Distinguish and differentiate your property, using whatever tools are available – Yes, with the economy strong and travel robust, anyone can fill rooms, and most hotels can raise rates. But when a downturn comes, you will need to rely more than ever on the points of differentiation that set your hotel apart from the competition. Differentiation, however, is cumulative, not immediate. You set yourself apart, when you create repeated unique impressions in a consumer’s mind over time. Start creating those impressions now  - so later, when you really need them, they will be readily convertible into occupancy and rate.  
Yes, “turn, turn, turn.” Enjoy the ride. Be thankful for the plenty, and invest the overflow wisely. 

Above all, think about strategic marketing when you think need it least, and it will pay off handsomely, when you need it most.
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Contact:

 Michael G. Frenkel
President
M Frenkel Communications, Inc.
230 Park Avenue, Suite 1000
New York, NY 10169
(212) 808-6556
(212) 808-6564 (f)
 michael@mfcpr.com
www.mfcpr.com

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Also See: Driving Rate by Building Image: A Primer / Michael G. Frenkel / February 2005

Differentiating Your Hotel: Case Studies in 'Ground-Up' Marketing / Michael G. Frenkel / August 2003

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