Hotel Marketing Starts Locally;
Never Forget Your Neighbors

By David M. Brudney, ISHC, March 2006

I love it when clients put me up at a hotel I never would have found nor selected on my own.  I love it because I always come away from the experience with either a reminder or a new lesson to share.

One lesson I’ve learned over the years is to always engage other guests in conversation, when and wherever the opportunity presents itself.

This past week I found myself in a suburban, independent limited service hotel near a project where I anticipate doing some future consulting work.  

So here I was, having a really nice complimentary breakfast - - make your own waffle fresh, what a great idea! - - when a fellow business traveler sat down at the table next to mine.  A CNN news item triggered some conversation during which I learned the following:

  • The guest was a “brand new” road warrior
  • He drove his own car 400 miles from home
  • He made no reservation because he didn’t think it was necessary (Metro suburban area, winter time, midweek arrival), but he had done some Internet homework and knew of two options 
  • Upon arriving in the town he tried to check in at a branded inn and suites property in the heart of the small downtown
  • He couldn’t find the entrance and due to all the surrounding construction (condo development), he made the assumption the hotel was not open
  • He had an address of the other option (“our” hotel) but he could not find it in the dark
  • He saw a familiar branded supermarket across the street and since his wife worked for the same chain, he went in and asked a cashier where he might find a room for the night (3 nights!)
  • The supermarket cashier not only told him about “our” hotel, she told him it was a nice, clean place and then gave him specific directions on how to find it
My fellow business traveler’s stay represented $262.11 in room revenue and taxes.  None of that would have been collected by the innkeeper had it not been for a neighborhood merchant’s awareness and testimonial. 

And that testimonial did not come from the supermarket’s general manager nor manager on duty, it came directly from a cashier, possibly part-time hourly.

As I reflected on the experience, I wondered if the hotel’s general manager and/or sales associate had made neighborly calls on the market, providing information while delivering “goodwill” packages (breakfast or snack samples) and thanking the team for keeping the hotel in mind whenever shoppers inquire?

I wondered if the hotel had ever called on all the other neighboring merchants: fast food, restaurants, lounges, service stations, auto repair, car rental and retail shops?

Paraphrasing the late Tip O’Neill, all marketing is local and it begins with careful cultivating of merchants in your immediate and surrounding neighborhoods.  A testimonial and/or referral from a local merchant can make the difference in a point or two in weekly occupancy or making room revenue monthly budget.

Better yet, should the innkeeper deliver the product and service, that one referred guest might return a dozen times in the future and who knows how many other potential guests he or she might influence?

A successful restaurateur told me once that a table of four - - producing a positive dining experience - - represented $1 million worth of future business. 

Here’s a few other reminder tips:

  • Seek out website linkages with merchants, attractions and venues of interest to your guests
  • Seek out database sharing and possible co-op marketing efforts and cross-selling opportunities with selected local merchants with interest in your guest profiles
  • If your complimentary breakfast is your hotel’s signature item, invite selected merchants to experience first hand
  • Offer neighborhood merchant owners complimentary rooms and breakfast (subject to space availability, of course) as part of their employee bonus and incentive planning
  • An annual neighborhood merchant reception with heavy “working the room” by the G.M. and/or Sales associate, is very good for business 
Note: for more ideas and tips on neighborhood marketing, read  “Uncertain Times Call For Backyard Basics,” April 2003.

© copyright 2006

David M. Brudney, ISHC, is a veteran sales and marketing professional concluding his fourth decade of service to the hospitality industry.  Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders and operators on sales and marketing “best practices” and conducts reviews of sales and marketing operations throughout the U.S. and overseas.  The principal of David Brudney & Associates of Carlsbad, CA, a sales and marketing consulting firm specializing in the hospitality industry since 1979, Brudney is a frequent lecturer, instructor and speaker.  He is a charter member of International Society of Hospitality Consultants.  Previously, Brudney held sales and marketing positions with Hyatt, Westin and Marriott.


David M. Brudney, ISHC, Principal 
David Brudney & Associates 
Carlsbad, CA 
760-476-0830 Fax 760-476-0860

Also See Notes from the ALIS Conference / David Brudney / February 2006
General Managers Workshop: Managing Today's Hotel Sales Teams / July 2005
Owners & Asset Managers: Need Expert Advice, Referral? Ask A Trusted Consultant / David M. Brudney, ISHC / May 2005
Larry May: The Passing Of Another Hotel Soldier / David Brudney ISHC / April 2005
Hotel Owners: Better, Worse or About the Same? / David Brudney ISHC / December 2004
Let’s Put Bush and Kerry Through the RFP Process / October 2004
Bev Kordsmeier, Hyatt Sales’ First Lady / April 2004
Message to Hotel Sales Associates: “It’s Not You!”/ January 2004
What Innkeepers Want Every Christmas? Fill Those Empty Rooms / December 2003
Uncertain Times Call for Return to Backyard Basics / April 2003
Time to “Group Up”?  Maybe, Maybe Not / May 2002
America’s Front Desk  Fights Back! / January 2002
Front Desk Fails To Catch America’s Hospitality Spirit / David Brudney ISHC / November 2001
A Very Good Time For That Sales Audit / David Brudney ISHC / Sept 2001 
More Theater, Less Zombies / David Brudney ISHC / Dec 2000 
It’s The Experience, Stupid! / David Brudney ISHC / Nov 2000 

Return to David Brudney & Associates Special Reports and Articles
Return to Hotel.Online Ideas and Trends
Search Hotel Online