Stock marketing doesn’t work
Beware of conventional logic and watered-down “stock marketing.” Do not be lulled into a sense of comfort because you are marketing your property the way “everyone” says it should be done.
Conventional logic says you should have a Facebook page, but few talk about how you use it to create a true connection with your fans. Conventional logic says that search engine optimization is important, but few talk about how to leverage search engines to find market segments that actually matter to your hotel. You might say, “Yeah, but I have page one ranking on this keyword.” So what? How is that accretive to a robust and strategic marketing campaign? Did you actually accomplish something, or are you just doing what you have been told is important?
The world of online hospitality marketing allows you for the first time to establish a real dialogue with individual hotel customers, to tap into their desires. Gaining an understanding of these customers is both time-consuming and complex — there is no one-size-fits-all blanket solution. Different hotels are advantaged in different ways, and a strategic approach to online marketing allows a hotel to find the customers that will care about its particular advantages. But that means applying different tactics in different situations. It means making sure that all actions you take online are part of a master plan, where the parts work together for a cumulative effect.
Take, for example, a luxury boutique property in a vibrant city center with a stellar room product, amazing guest service and general aesthetic appeal. The hotel is surrounded by iconic food, beverage and entertainment outlets, dwarfing the options on property. The strategy that was developed annexed the surrounding outlets into the hotel instead of treating them as competitors, positioning the property as the “main entrance” to one of the top restaurant and entertainment rows in America. The implications of the new positioning informed every tactic that came next. Capitalizing on the strategy, the property was able to use social media, search marketing, website design, mobile marketing and online advertising to market its “advantages” to its target audience while also integrating the brand equity of the location as a whole. The position the property took in the market was wholly unique to the situation, and could not be replicated by any of its competitors.
But, if strategic marketing really matters, why are we seeing more product-driven approaches to online marketing? Tradition, mostly. The hospitality industry is famous for taking ground-breaking new ideas and doing everything possible to duplicate and replicate them for mass consumption.
More than anything, strategic marketing can be your hotel’s single greatest competitive advantage. It cannot be duplicated or replicated. Strategic marketing is the result of a process that evaluates the advantages of a property, the needs of its client base and the goals for the asset. The result of the process is a roadmap that will help you maneuver through the online ecosystem and achieve your goals. Every roadmap is different. That alone is the key to achieving premium results. And it works.
The best-performing assets are those that understand the vast number of tools available to them and find just the right mix for their unique situation. Positive results can still be achieved through stock marketing practices, and sometimes those results show nice gains year-over-year. However, they pale in comparison to what can be achieved with a more comprehensive and customized approach.
No, strategic marketing won’t die or become commoditized. There are too many variables to a successful online marketing presence for the practice to ever become automated. Smart marketers — those who spend their hours identifying and projecting unique and defendable advantages — will always generate premium results that hoteliers are hungry to achieve.