Confessions of a Hotel Marketing Firm: The top ten most dangerous mistakes in hotel marketing – Part 2October 2, 2012 • By Dave Spector
Mistake No. 6 Ignoring the treasure buried in your past guest database. Your database of past guests is gold. Not to mine it for everything it's worth is silly. After all, when people have a good experience with you, they are not likely to take their chances elsewhere next time they are visiting the area. You are familiar to them and (hopefully) they like you. In order to extract the treasure buried in your database of past guests, you’ll need to have a robust PMS or CRM system capable of housing and reporting more than just basic contact info. The best systems make it easy to extract quick reports (and lists) on which past guests might be the best targets for future campaigns. These systems gather data based on recency, frequency and previous spending habits at your property. Have low mid-week occupancy in Summer? Look for guests who stayed mid-week last Summer… Need more spa business? Send a promo to guests who spent twice the average amount at your spa in the past. Better yet, new CRM tools enable you send post-stay surveys and redirect only the most delighted guests to your TripAdvisor page where they can post glowing reviews! Mistake No. 7 Allowing your competitors to outrank you on search engines. Travel begins with search. If you’re not prominently displayed on search engines, you don’t exist. But once you acquire top rankings, you have a powerful competitive advantage. Because everyone covets those precious high rankings, search engine marketing has become intensely competitive, requiring serious scientific and analytical skills. Now you may think your ranking is well beyond your control at this point. We've all been frustrated in the past trying to work the system in pursuit of a first-page, above-the-fold ranking position. But that was then and this is now. The science of SEO has evolved and a few hospitality search engine experts have emerged as true masters of the process. And good news! You can afford to hire them… or a better way to say it might be: you can’t afford not to hire them. If your competitors are using a search ninja… they will soon have an unassailable competitive advantage on you! Mistake No. 8 Doing the same old thing year after year. “If it isn't broken, don't fix it” is great advice for clockmakers. But you're running a hotel. No matter how good business may be, you can't afford to take a business-as-usual attitude… even if you're way ahead of your competition in RevPar. Sustained success depends on consistently finding ways to stay one step ahead. Keeping an eye out for what's working, not just what's new. You should read hotel technology blogs and as much trade press as you can. Keep fresh marketing minds around you, especially younger “digital natives.” Make certain your marketing team and vendors embrace the technological advances in e-marketing and mobile opportunities that are shaping the future of our industry. And watch your competition! You don't want to wake up one morning to find they've adopted innovations you haven't even budgeted for yet. Keep testing new software, new systems and every new means of reducing your marketing costs and increasing your bookings. If you need some inspiration, here it is: this link will bring you to the hottest new marketing technology companies in the industry today. Mistake No. 9 Mismanaging revenue management The most important element of marketing in the hotel business is having a unique, delightful product. But pricing can also be a major factor in your marketing success or failure. If you don’t have some semblance of a revenue management and pricing strategy, all your other marketing efforts will be wasted and your RevPar will be lower than your competitive set. No matter what your property looks like, no matter how good the service, the amenities, your F&B...deriving the greatest possible amount of revenue out of every available room is the ultimate determiner of financial success. Dynamically setting that room rate through a professional revenue management process is key. It's your formula for success, rooted in the basic fundamentals of supply and demand. But proper revenue management is not easy. Room rate adjustments must be made based on a number of ever-changing considerations and sometimes rather illusive information. Up-to-the-minute reservation activity, historical data and even intuitive forecasting must be applied to the pricing process. As occupancy increases, discounted rate tiers must be turned off. And when times are bad, but historical booking high points are approaching, you have to be patient enough to hold the line. If you manage the entire process intelligently and diligently, you will maintain a consistent base of business in perfect sync with historical data and external economic factors. What's more, once you have achieved that level of pricing control, you can begin to alter the forces of supply and demand by dialing your marketing budget up or down. This is how a hotel can get the greatest return for its marketing dollar. Through dynamic flexibility, in pricing and promotion. And this is what distinguishes the winners from the losers. Mistake No. 10 Failing to measure marketing ROI Imagine opening a bank account without knowing what your rate of interest will be. Or sending your kids to a private school and never seeing a report card… Nobody does that. And yet some people in the hospitality business have no way to measure the return they are getting on the money they invest to generate traffic and drive sales. What a mistake! Even if business is good, and 'something' is working, your marketing ROI should be measured regularly. Especially when marketing ROI has never been easier to measure. Many of today's digital/analytical tools provide near instantaneous information. In fact, the world of e-marketing has put a whole new generation of measurement mechanisms at our fingertips. They go well beyond simply measuring raw metrics like site traffic or call volume. Dedicated phone numbers can track inbound calls from specific markets in response to specific campaigns. Online analytics can tell us who, from where, has been interested in what, for how long, and why. And they can tell us exactly how much it cost to convert an e-blast recipient into a booking. We can even sync our booking engines to campaign monitoring dashboards, so all your data can be right there in front of you anytime/anywhere… giving you the ability to measure ROI yield on a minute-by minute basis and enable you to kill low yield programs or ramp high yield endeavors almost instantaneously. What a mistake to let an opportunity like that go unexploited!