The seven deadly sins and how they apply to hotel marketing

We all know the seven deadly sins. Using them to draw an allegory to hotel operations may seem like a nice, trite way of shaking a stick at some very common — and, frankly, unsolvable — issues at your property. However, when recalling the seven deadly sins as they were first officially documented by a 4th-century Christian monk, what is perhaps their most interesting — albeit sadistic — quality is each associated punishment.

Yes, we all have problems — staff, guests, technology, physical inconveniences, finance, whatever. It’s all too easy to acknowledge these quandaries and then immediately dismiss them as something beyond your control. Lest you forget the penalties of this contempt, if you know the cause (sin) in addition to the effect (punishment), you are all the more likely to act. Hence, this post addresses the seven deadly sins of marketing in conjunction with their outcomes. (I warn you that it may get a little “dark.”)

Pride/Vanity: Do not ask the director of marketing to scribe a multi-tabbed, 100-page manuscript each year. Rather, call for a document that is a useful working tool and mission statement for the fiscal business. Define appropriate strategies for each segment of the marketplace, and once these are set, adhere to them for the entire year, modifying tactics as necessary and readdressing only if dire circumstances intervene.

Punishment for transgression: Bones broken and body looped through the spokes of a giant spinning wheel, or, stumbling over your own stagnant marketing efforts without moving the gears of business forward in any positive way.

Apathy/Sloth: Do your homework. Review and constantly reevaluate what worked and what did not work the previous year. Ask the question: how can we learn from our mistakes and not repeat them ever again? Strategically plan your advertising purchases. Don’t aim to just buy remnants or “one-off” media on deep discount. Rather, work hard and strive to build a direct relationship with the audience based on generating frequency with a selected publication.

Punishment for transgression: Launched into a pit of snakes, or, left squirming, writhing and reaching for the upper ledge where your proactive competition currently sits.

Anger/Wrath: Don’t overanalyze everything that’s done in the marketing department. Look at campaigns instead of individual ads or events. Yes, it’s nice to look at individual numbers that contribute to the whole, but the key is to not be overzealous or vindictive. Listen and reflect rather than acting impulsively from a reactionary standpoint.

Punishment for transgression: As the early Christians said it, the penalty of anger was being dismembered alive. Or, in modern business, this connotes your staff members not acting as a unit or discordant with your goals due to a gradually building lack of passion and improper motivation.

Avarice/Greed: Don’t increase rates without justification. Your guests will know when greed has set in, and they won’t be impressed. On the flip side, don’t aggressively increase occupancy targets without prudent rationale. Above all, don’t illogically increase both rate and occupancy while at the same time reducing marketing funds.

Punishment for transgression: Being boiled alive in oil, or, watching as formerly loyal consumers lash out at you with fiery scorn and a dearth of dollars down.

Jealousy/Envy: Don’t just pay lip service to social marketing or follow the flow, but embrace the concept by responding to customers and transforming your B2C relationships into real-time assets. There are so many ways to stand out and make an exceptional impact via these social online channels. Be original in your thinking and not just a copycat of other similar properties. This starts by knowing the territory and best practices (research) then seeing where you should focus your efforts and how you can benefit consumers (application).

Punishment for transgression: Immersion in freezing water, or, a building perception that your property is “cryogenically frozen” in the yesteryears when the Internet and social media were only mere adjuncts to the business landscape.

Lust: Once a budget is set, don’t create a “stretch budget” without rewarding the team that delivered the base budget plan. Barring extenuating circumstances, stick to the document you have and don’t overzealously fine-tune it while stalling execution. Focus on diligently marketing your property, directing your lust not at the budget itself, but at your property’s exceptional aspects and its quality of guest service.

Punishment for transgression: Thrown in a tornado of fire, or, your marketing team spinning in hectic circles trying to achieve too many different goals leading to none being fully accomplished and staff exhaustion.

Gluttony: Now that it’s 2013, it’s time to wean yourself off OTA activities and refocus on your own website, your core fans and the strengths of your own brand. There are many alternates to propagate this objective, both in terms of other, newer electronic channels as well as overall cross-channel strategies.

Punishment for transgression: Force-fed crap food for all eternity, or, dilution of your brand image until revenues are so marginalized that on paper they truly do look like crap.