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Marketing In A Recession.
By Vijay Dandapani
Tuesday, 29th January 2008
 
With equity markets in free-fall around the world thus far spectral visions of a downturn are morphing into real tangible losses and pain for a lot of people.

While the financial sector losses are still to materially affect bottom lines in the industry - although development has already been constricted in many places - it is perhaps not too early to revisit low to no-cost marketing strategies as customers hold on more tightly to their wallets.

Taking advantage of adversity involves more than making lemonade out of lemons it involves a pro-active approach that includes:
  • Focus on websites that offer free listings such as Travelpost and hotelbook (commissions due).
  • Check yourself out on Google and conduct a website functionality audit that takes a comprehensive look at source of business to the hotel's website, home page wording and layout, target words, facility of booking and of course, the essential search optimization review.
  • Put out press releases, particularly those targeted at your home town newspaper - while it is nice seeing one's hostelry in national and international media, too often marketers focus on far flung sources of business to the exclusion of demand generators in their backyard.
  • If trade show booths have become unaffordable, it may still be worthwhile to attend and build awareness.
  • Put the marketing focus on employees in other departments through cross training. Every employee must always be a salesperson for the hotel; in a recession that aspect becomes particularly acute. Starting with the GM down to line employees the emphasis must be on the USPs of the hotel at every point of customer contact. Guest interaction could be used as a reward for employees by gaging and monitoring customer responses.
Hotels are lagging economic indicators, and merely confirm the presence of a recession once it is underway. Nevertheless having an entirely reactive marketing program in response to demand that has declined puts the property behind the eight ball.

Some of the foregoing measures and other initiatives can be applied regardless of the broader economic picture but a greater emphasis and a fresh look is warranted when there are dark clouds on the economic horizon as is the case now.

Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city.Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York. www.vijaydandapani.com

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