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Economy Got You Down?
A Four-Step Survival Guide for Tough Times

by Michael G. Frenkel
May 2008
Soft economic numbers, and a devastating credit crunch.
You see the headlines every day, and they all seem to add up to the same thing: Things are bad, bad, bad.

When credit is tight lenders don’t lend; that means tough times for hotel developers and deal-makers. 

When oil prices are at record highs, drivers don’t drive – challenges ahead for hotels. 

When the media masses bark that things are rotten, even the wealthy come to heel, and cut back on spending – sorry, Four Seasons and Silver Sea.

With all the doom and gloom, what’s  a hospitality professional to do?

Here’s a four-step plan for keeping your head up, weathering the storm - and even having a bit of fun while you do it.

Step 1: “Wake up on the Bright Side.”

This phrase I borrow from our friends and clients at La Quinta hotels, which has created a quirky and effective advertising campaign around seeing the silver lining.

They should be commended for doing so, and beyond that, everyone in our industry should take a lesson: Let’s remember who we are and what business we are in. We provide people with good times, help them escape the daily grind to experience new places and faces, and yes, we even provide a refreshing and optimistic outlook on life.

There’s no feeling like waking up with the sunrise at a clean, comfortable hotel after a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, being greeted with fresh brewed coffee and a smile, and looking out at the peaceful vistas or the highway rolling out before you. Kind of makes you want to grab that briefcase and sell a widget, doesn’t it?

Well go ahead: grab and sell – you have nothing to lose but your gloom!

Step 2: When you’re selling, let everyone know it.

If it’s true that nothing succeeds like success, then nothing builds successes faster, than letting everyone know you’re successful. 
If you followed the logic of that last sentence and actually believe it, then you have the heart and soul of a marketer. Go with it.

Has your hotel recently completed a renovation or hired a new general manager? Has your company closed a deal in spite of obstacles created by the challenging economy?

If so, then for goodness’s sake, “tell someone!”

We fail not because we have no good news to communicate – but because we fail to communicate the good news effectively.

Step 3: Communicate Constantly

Successful communications, like accumulating wealth or living well, is not a one-shot deal; it is cumulative, and builds upon itself.
That means you cannot just tell the world “we did a great job” and let it rest at that. 

No sir, you must communicate the good news about your service or product again and again, using new and creative communications channels – communicate it while you work, do it at the gym, do it when you drop the kids at school, do it while you sleep.

But here is a secret: Never let your audience know you’re doing it! 

No one outside of Wall Street likes a braggart or self-promoter, so use a “light touch” when  you communicate with clients, potential customers or even cold-call strangers.

Send a funny email, invite someone to lunch or a party – or even write a humorous bylined article that sells your services without seeming to do so.

Confucius say, the indirect way is always the best way – and all things considered, who are we to argue with Confucius?

Step 4: Use Public Relations

Okay, let’s admit it: I’m a PR Guy, and the PR Guy’s job is to sell public relations services.

But just because it’s your job and you’re good at it, doesn’t mean there isn’t truth to what you sell.

You see, we are ALL PR Guys – everyone who enters a business meeting trying to create a good impression, who tours a young bride and groom through a ballroom trying to get their wedding business, who writes a letter or press release in the hope that someone will pick it up and be persuaded that their product or service is best.

So go ahead, let your “Inner PR Guy” emerge. 

Send those press releases, have the after-work parties, give the property tours, network your way around the CVB and your local business community.

Doing so can only help your cause – and besides, in this economy there is no place to go but up . . .  right?

Michael G. Frenkel is President of MFC PR, a NYC-based public relations firm that specializes in hospitality PR and communications. He can be reached at . . . or, on The Bright Side.

Michael G. Frenkel, President


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