Kick-start marketing: 10 easy pieces

Here’s a simple piece to bounce off your marketing folks. For those GMs who think marketing planning is done just once a year, spring this note on your director of marketing to help keep your hotel’s program on track.

1. How’s your focus on repeat guests?

Repeat customers are easier to cultivate than new guests. Make sure you don’t forget to capture as much information as you can for each guest. Expand your database to know why they visited and what they did (spa, golf, meals, room type, etc.). Then, maintain a relationship with your past guests, encouraging them to revisit by appealing to their interests.

2. Everybody eats.

Of course you have a spa, and you might have a ski hill or golf course, too. But, at best, a quarter of people regularly visit spas, with lower numbers for ski/golf. However, I can guarantee your guests eat. Make it your business to ensure they eat with you. Create menus and venues that give your guests what they want. Incentivize them with room and food packages if need be.

3. To everything there is a season.

Mark your calendar in advance. Plan every holiday with military precision. Unlike every other promotional program that you create, these “no brainer” events deserve your full attention. If you’re not full, shame on you! You have the power and the knowledge. Just do it. No excuses for missing Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc.

4. Remember there are five weekdays and just two days over the weekend.

Depending upon your property’s location, this typically means that business groups take precedence over leisure travel. Now examine your sales and marketing plan spending. Is this reality accurately reflected?

5. Marketing needs no introduction.

Marketing needs to start the minute your guest interacts with you. Once you have a reservation, start your engines! Remember the importance of initial experiences. A welcome packet on check-in beats a myriad of tent cards.

6. You don’t control price; the market does.

Only your owners are interested in comparisons to pre-2008 ADRs. Be realistic in your expectations. After the Great Recession, it’s a different world out there. If your competitive set is at $250 per night, don’t even think that the old days of $400 per night are in the cards. Remember that without occupancy, rate is irrelevant.

7. Cut the OTA “mainlining.”

The minute you wean yourself off OTAs, the better. Sure they provide a quick fill. But they drive your rate down and do nothing to generate loyalty to your product. For example, one OTA deal promises a 4-star property at a 2-star price. Think about it for a moment: They are commoditizing all the work it took you to get to 4 stars, relegating you to an equal with others at that level.

8. Love thy neighbor.

Invest in your local neighborhood. Hire and train. Promote and motivate. Donate and participate. Give back and tell everyone about it. It pays to be a friend and a community leader. Treat everyone as family, and they will return in kind.

9. Socially savvy makes sense.

Don’t just pay lip service to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Invest in appropriate programs to harness the energy of these outlets and fully integrate them into your marketing programs and brand strategy.

10. Your website is your window to the world. 

Make it sing, and make sure that it works effectively. Don’t expect to be first in Google search if you are an independent in a busy market. Use creative programs to drive links.

And one bonus idea …

Advertising still works.

The best way to find you is through your website. Advertise its presence. Create meaningful advertising campaigns that combine eye-catching imagery with calls to action. And remember to measure the campaign, not just each and every individual ad.