Hotel Online  Special Report
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Interactive Marketing Can Help Resorts
Reach New Audiences & Increase Sales
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May 2007 - Like many of today’s industries, hospitality-focused companies are trying to find new ways to grow their business by tapping into new audience segments. Namely, the purchasing power of today’s younger generation, combined with the increasing wealth of seniors has made it more difficult to target the right marketing message. Making matters even more complicated, newer marketing vehicles are now widely available but also much more complex.

One challenge faced by everyone involved in today’s hospitality industry is the right mix of marketing. On one hand, the industry has to deal with the fact that traditional marketing isn’t as impactful as it once was. For example, hotels and resorts still struggle to create the perfect advertisement. But unless you’re that one Super Bowl ad that everyone talks about, most of the time you are lost in the TiVo clutter.

Secondly, marketing as we know it is evolving faster than ever. With intimidatingly confusing buzzwords like “user-generated content,” “Second Life,” and “podcasts,” it’s no wonder many executives are playing the same strategies year in and year out.

But as I’ve heard somewhere before, change is a good thing. And so it is time to find out what newer marketing options are available that could potentially help your brand break through all the clutter.

The most important thing to understand about today’s marketing is that the Internet is playing a much larger role than you might think. Combined with traditional marketing (print advertising, direct mail, TV commercials, etc.), the Internet provides an integrated approach to reach customers in a variety of ways so that they refrain from “tuning your message out.”

Hospitality brands must go beyond just having an online presence. They must also be doing a large portion of their marketing activities through the Internet as well, since this is where much of their audience spends their time nowadays.

According to industry statistics, there are more than 100 million people online today – a figure that continues to grow by the day. And according to the Online Publishers Association, seven out of 10 digital consumers (those people using the Internet) have viewed an online video advertisement, with 31 percent of them subsequently visiting the advertiser’s Website. 

If anything, understand that you should be marketing online for the simple reason that your competitors are going to be doing it. According to an e-marketing industry newsletter, online advertising spending by companies is expected to grow from $16.4 billion this year to approximately $36.5 billion in 2011.

Here are a few areas of Interactive Marketing that are in use today:

Web Development – All the Internet marketing means nothing if you do not have a solid Website that is dynamic, clean, easy to navigate and informative.

Content Management – Once you have the right Web presence, you also must have the ability to update the information on your Website often. Giving you this power maximizes efficiency and cost effectiveness by letting your interactive agency focus on higher strategic initiatives. Plus, there’s nothing worse than going to a Website that looks exactly the same as it did five months ago.

Interact Online – People remember brands when they interact with them online. Banner ads that expand to online games, flash demos and videos are all examples of how to get someone’s attention and let them get involved by interacting with your brand, which helps to increase top-of-mind awareness since you are entertaining them. 

E-mail Marketing – People arguably use their e-mail more than their telephone now. Having the ability to send marketing messages and newsletters via e-mail is critical today. E-mail is also a great form of viral marketing, which spreads buzz quickly through word of mouth.

Media Planning – The concept of build it and they will come does not apply to Interactive marketing. Once you have the right Interactive advertisements and banner ads developed, you then must find the right places to put them. Do lots of research to figure out where you will get the most return on investment.

Online Surveys & Research – Communicating with your audience is a two-way street. You must find out what your customer is thinking. And the best way to do this is to construct an online survey to find out more about your customer.

Emerging Media – Today’s Interactive marketing is even more successful when new technologies like SMS messaging, videos and user-generated content are all part of the mix.

Loyalty Programs – Give your customers incentive to purchase from you. Reward them through Web-based offers and special promotions. Develop a way to build loyalty to incite consumers and drive sales. In the end, this will help to build a long-term relationship with your customer.

Hospitality companies that survive into tomorrow as category leaders will take a proactive approach and begin communicating to their customers over the Internet – in addition to their traditional forms of marketing.

Jayson Fittipaldi is president of Nobox Marketing, an interactive agency focused on helping industry leaders deliver universal marketing messages to a variety of audience segments. For more information, visit www.nobox.com
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Contact:

John Sternal
Managing Director
Max Borges Agency
305-576-1171 ext.13
johnsternal@maxborgesagency.com 

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