November 12, 2012 • By Dave Spector
My partner and I attended a fancy dinner at a major tourism conference recently. We were seated next to the GM and Director of Sales & Marketing for a fairly large independent resort. When they asked about our Company we explained that we helped hoteliers increase direct bookings using advanced digital marketing techniques. They nodded and smiled and exchanged curious glances at each other. After our brief explanation... and a long awkward pause, the GM asked with genuine sincerity: "Isn't that what we pay the OTAs for?" That incident proves that some hotel marketers are still stuck in the past when it comes to marketing... using the same old techniques their competition are using year after year. By failing to evolve, these hotel marketing "dinosaurs" are endangering their property owner's investments and their own livelihoods. Are you evolving and using new marketing techniques to drive revenue at the lowest possible cost? Here's eight ways to avoid becoming a hotel marketing dinosaur:
- Embrace your inner geek: Marketing and technology are more intertwined than ever. Understanding the systems that impact your marketing results (PMS, CRM, CRS, GDS, Delphi, Google Analytics, Omniture, etc), their differences and outputs are critical to staying ahead of the competition and bolstering the confidence of your owners/management.
- Flip your OTA ratio How do you explain to your boss that someone else does a better job of marketing your property than you do? Stop overpaying the OTAs to siphon your revenues. Reserve (and guarantee) your best rates for your own site. Launch your own marketing initiatives that drive direct bookings on your website. OTAs can still send incremental bookings, but more should come from your own website than the OTAs!
- Harness the power of CRM PMS and CRM systems offer hotel marketers a treasure trove of data about past guests. Who are your best guests based on recency, frequency and monetary value? Who spends more in the spa on summer weekdays? Dig into your data and you'll gain valuable insight into your guests' behavior... which you can use to generate relevant promos that drive repeat visits.
- Learn to love stats ADR, RevPar and AOR are important industry metrics, but more and more owners want to hear about MCPS (marketing cost per sale), ROAS (return on ad spend), look-to-book ratios, availability checks, bounce rates and other KPIs (key performance indicators) of your marketing performance. Develop a list (less than 5) of the key marketing indicators signaling future success or weakness for your property.
- Be social (online): We monitor/manage Facebook and TripAdvisor for many hotels, but we also know dozens of GMs (and owners!) who personally manage the day-to-day postings on their properties' social pages. They love sharing current events and communicating with their ever growing base of fans and friends. They also field complaints directly. By monitoring and participating in your social media activities, you'll give guests a sense of transparency, honesty, authentic local events and personal on-site management attention.
- Be social (offline): Whether your hotel is in a city center, a remote island or rural town, connecting with relevant neighbors is essential to becoming a thriving member of the local ecosystem. Get to know the leaders at nearby cultural centers, attractions and large companies. If these folks know your property and know you, they'll include you in their own planning... driving unlimited direct bookings revenue at virtually no cost!
- Don't wait for the flag: When you pay for the rights to fly a well-known flag over your hotel, you're paying primarily for marketing resources driven by a remote team of folks at the brand-level who often have to service hundreds of properties like yours at the same time. If you're not getting fast turnaround times, compelling materials and measurable results.... take matters into your own hands. When the time comes to report to your owners, you don't want to say: "we missed our numbers and I'm waiting for the brand team to fix it!"
- Break the clutter: Research shows that consumers see more than 2,000 marketing messages every day. Why should they respond to yours? If it's not provocative, or fails to communicate a unique benefit... chances are you will see no ROI. Your marketing should be memorable, likeable, persuasive and truthful. Your marketing messages should showcase compelling photography and always, always offer a meaningful CTA (call to action) that leads to a frictionless direct booking experience (phone and/or web).