September 24, 2012 • By Dave Spector
After 25 years of working with hoteliers around the world, we’ve made every mistake in the book. Strangely enough, that’s why most of our clients hire us… Because we’ve made mistakes at someone else’s expense in the past, we’re less likely to make costly mistakes on their account in the future! Here’s a list of the top ten mistakes we’ve made (and corrected) that inhibited client revenue, how many are you still making? Mistake No. 1 Believing You Can Market a Product That is Fundamentally Bad We used to think great marketing could outshine a bad product (also known as “Putting lipstick on a pig"). The truth is that a bad product will always kill great marketing. The product IS the most important component of your marketing. If your rooms, your amenities or your location are bad, you can’t hide behind fluffy ad copy. No matter what you say, no matter how hard you sell, you're in for trouble with the guests you do attract. And they'll trash you… big time, on the spot and online. They'll be waiting for you at the front desk. They'll be complaining out loud in the lobby. And they'll be bashing you all over the Internet. Even before they leave the property. So if you do have an inferior product, whatever you do, don't over hype it. Fix it instead. The higher you raise the expectations of your guests, the greater their disappointment. And their anger. The truth is, you only have two choices when your product isn't what it needs to be. You can fix it. Or you can adjust your rates so your clientele can live with it. If you decide to improve your product, start by raising your level of service. That's usually the easiest area of improvement to address (and least capital intensive). Get rid of bad apple employees. Raise the bar for the rest. And stick to your new standards. You can also improve your product offering by creating special packages that put the emphasis on the best of your features and amenities. In other words, sell what you deliver best. Mistake No. 2 Tolerating Anything Less Than A+ Performance From Your Website Not so long ago, killer websites were a luxury, not necessity. Now, before today’s travelers go anywhere, they go to the Web. They research. They investigate. They compare you to your competition. And all they have to judge YOU on is YOUR website. It’s up to you to make the very most of that prospective guest’s initial visit. The longer they stay, the greater the possibility of a booking. In fact, the most critical job of your website is to get them to book directly with you. Here are some absolute musts for your site to be the most forceful weapon in your arsenal:
- Make certain you greet your visitors with a clear, simple statement of exactly why they should stay with you.
- Tell them what makes you uniquely different in the most concise, most memorable way possible. This is called your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
- Use quality imagery, both stills and video, to illustrate your property in the best possible light
- Call your visitors to action. Give them incentives. Give them a sense of urgency. Offer them deals they won’t want to miss out on and let them know the clock is ticking on the offer
- Make sure your booking engine is world class. If it’s unfriendly and just plain clunky, you’ll actually lose business in the booking process
- Some hotels now get more traffic and bookings from mobile devices, so make sure your online presence is compatible with iPads and mobile devices, which account for a steadily increasing amount of traffic for all hotels and a fortune in bookings.
- Welcome meeting and group travel decision makers. Make them feel special. Speak their language. Invite them to visit and encourage them to see for themselves
- Enrich your site with all that your location and surrounding area has to offer. Give your visitors details and let them go as deep as they’d like in exploring the area
- Equip your site with the latest technological tracking and retargeting tools you need to continually hone in on your target audience.
- Show your customer care and transparency by responding to ALL reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp and other sites.
- Add new Facebook apps like Flip.to which enable bookers to spread news of their booking using Facebook’s intrinsic sharing platform.
- Utilize the “voice” of the hotel across the social sphere to clearly define the hotel brand and shape the demographic of the hotel’s following. By actively engaging with guests (pre, during and post stay), properties are in greater control of their online reputation and will see more frequent, positive reviews as a result.