Hotel Marketing Confessions: Hoteliers Reveal Their Top Marketing Struggles

March 18, 2014 • By

Hotel Marketing by Tambourine

Once upon a time, hotel marketing was a simple undertaking. All of your marketing options could be counted on one hand (billboards, direct mail, public relations, broadcast media and print media) and it was just as easy to determine where to find your next potential guest.

Technology has changed the rules completely. Now, marketing your hotel is stunningly different than how you handled it even a mere five years ago. And, the changes keep coming. Leisure and group travelers are now 100 percent mobile and in complete control of the content they receive, and how and when they receive it.

Today’s hoteliers face both obstacles and opportunities undreamt of in years past.

Today’s hoteliers face both obstacles and opportunities undreamt of in years past.

Curious what marketing hurdles fellow hoteliers are up against? We thought it was time to step back and find out. We spoke with three seasoned hotel pros who shared their top marketing concerns with us. Here are the common themes that we discovered in each conversation:

Rapidly Increasing Marketing Channels

One thing is for certain. With social media and marketing technology being developed at lightening speed, one of the biggest challenges for hoteliers is to simply keep up.

Jeff Brown, director of sales and marketing at Los Arboles Hotel in Palm Springs,  likens social media as a moving target. “Just when you think you are making headway, the goalposts are moved.”

Bryan Guillot, president of the Thomas Lee Group, which manages sales and marketing for resorts throughout the Caribbean, knows to expect volatility in a marketplace where media evolves so quickly. “There is always a new distribution element, tool or access point coming in the very near future,” Guillot said.

Staying on top of all upcoming communication tools is a key to our success.

“Staying on top of all upcoming communication tools is a key to our success.”

Hotel guests now have so much media at their disposal. Creating marketing campaigns that get opened, read, and acted upon is at the top of every hotelier’s wishlist, though smaller hotels will have the additional challenge of a limited market spend.

“Fighting through the clutter to get the message out and be directly discoverable to guests … this seems to be a playing field dominated by people with very large PPC, SEO and TV budgets,” Brown said.

Neverending Need for Content

The most time-consuming marketing task? All three of our hoteliers agreed: Regularly creating compelling content for social media, blogs, mobile, promotions, and email marketing.

First comes strategy, says Cesar Rocha, director of revenue management at b2 Miami Downtown Hotel.

“It’s about tailoring the right message, then deciding how to deliver it.” he said. “What is the customer looking for? And, why would they book at your property?”

Guillot agrees that while it takes most of his and his staff’s time, talking regularly with customers and delivering consistent value to them is paramount.

“It’s easy to get sidetracked; however if we communicate to clients through every distribution portal, we drive sales and deliver guests to our resort.”

Brown believes building content is something that can’t be rushed, and is a marketing necessity that requires pure talent.

“Creating the content and crafting it to be engaging and not overly advertorial is an art,” Brown said. “An art that takes time to create.”

Leveraging OTAs to Increase Direct Bookings

Of course, we all know that Priceline, Expedia, Hotwire and other online travel agencies are one of our most valuable resources to filling rooms and marketing our properties to an audience of millions.  But how do you reap the rewards of your OTA relationships, while also shifting reservations away from the OTA site and instead to your own?

Rocha  believes it lies in a multi-faceted approach.  “You’ll need strategies for consistent engagement, PPC marketing, content, etc, that will lead to higher conversion rates,“ he said.

Driving direct bookings requires hotels to be at the top of their game and always looking for ideas. “With OTAs, customers have the power of choice. So, we have to go above and beyond with our marketing and consistently tweak our message to keep up.”

Targeting Effectively

The marketplace is in constant motion, with customer buying patterns and preferences ebbing and flowing in an unpredictable manner. And, that could easily lead to marketing campaigns with poor aim. Guillot says a constant goal is making sure he has the right offer in front of the correctly targeted customer at the right price and the right time.

Rocha points out that sometimes your target audience is not who you think it is. “You might believe it is one customer, but the market demand could dictate it is someone else entirely.” He said this is most common with new hotels, which may want to cater to business travelers, but end up getting leisure guests who are more attracted to the brand.

Your Hotel Marketing Challenges

As the world of hotel marketing rapidly evolves, what’s top of mind at your property? Share your insight and leave a comment below!

About Tambourine

Tambourine drives revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide using advanced marketing technology. The firm is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. For more information, visit Tambourine.com.