Updating Marketing & Sales Strategies Mid Year NOW is Essential
By Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE.
Thursday, 3rd July 2008
Survey results documented that a staggering 41 million trips were avoided with a negative of close to $27 Billion hit to our industry -

During my career we have learned to consider the marketplace, the competition and the overall trends and cycles if I expect to be successful.

In the past, this has usually meant creating an annual marketing plan and working that plan. Weekly and monthly action plans would lead to quarterly reviews and updates.

The next year's plan would take those updates and trends and as a team or a corporation, we would decide the next plan of strategies and tactics.

I must share that I read two interesting and disturbing articles within the past three weeks:

In late May, The Travel Industry Association ( the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $740 billion travel industry) released what they called a "First-of-Its-Kind Study Demonstrates Travelers Changing Behavior Due to Immense Frustration with Air Travel Process". This survey , which can be found at tia.org, offered some alarming statistics about something we all know: "...... Deep Frustration Among Air Travelers ".

The results of the survey documented that a staggering 41 million trips were avoided, with a negative $26.5 Billion hit to our industry.

The survey took opinions on a series of topics:

  • Whether travelers believe the air travel system is either "broken" or in need of "moderate correction."
  • Which direction the air travel system is headed
  • The level of air travelers satisfaction with the air travel system,
  • The sentiments of frequent air travelers (5+ trips per year)
  • Who is responsible for the air travel process, - is it airlines ori issues the federal government can address
The frightening statistic is that of that $26.5 Billion dollars, $5.6 billion was allocated to hotels and $3.1 billion to restaurants. These lost trips would also have generated $4.2 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue.

The second article was almost a month later from Canada and a story found in The Globe and Mail (Toronto)/Reuters (6/25). This story offered that a "Reliance on business travelers this year could hurt hotels next year". The lead off paragraph was that many U.S. hotels are depending on business travelers to fill the gap left by lower numbers of leisure travelers who are limited by the rapid price of gas hikes. The Globe and Mail inferred that a reliance on business travel could give companies a much stronger bargaining position in negotiating 2009 hotel contracts.

For those of us who have been in the industry for more than 15-20 years, the notion of occupancy and rate cycles is not a new phenomenon. What is new is the realization that the combination of gasoline prices affecting literally all products and services is going to hit the hospitality industry incredibly hard.

TIA hosted an emergency summit of travel leaders in June in Washington, DC to discuss next steps for moving this issue forward with policymakers and TIA has called on each of the major presidential candidates to commit to addressing this issue. This type of proactive leadership is healthy for the industry, but will it help individual hotels?

The title of this article is Updating marketing and sales strategies mid year NOW is essential. I offer the following observations:
  • Increase the attention given to all revenue management strategies and tactics.
  • Carefully evaluate all advertising. Be certain it is logical, measurable and targeted
  • Consider increasing ways to improve your online presence – the return here can be outstanding – IF it is thought out, managed and monitored
  • Consider ways to capitalize on the "green" movement. Government and many companies are increasingly paying attention and there is not an automatic winner in this race yet
  • Examine every marketing and sales strategy you have in place. I am a firm believer in "staying the course" if the course is correct, but the danger of global inflation, a weak US dollar, rising gas prices and the national presidential election all figure into what is a non-typical cycle.
Finally, for those of us who have been in the industry less than 10-15 years, think back to whatever industry you may have been involved with before and remember those cycles. If you are under 35 in age, look at the economic histories of other businesses and recall what they did well or poorly.

The hospitality industry has had a solid run of accomplishments these past ten years or so, but that was preceded by a very mixed 20 year cycle.

Look at what is going on in your hometown and figure out as many ways as possible to be an essential part of the community as a good corporate citizen. That commitment will help ride out some stormy valleys of lower demand and will endear you and your hotel to the community and help maintain your levels of success.

Giving what you don't have to give.
Giving when you don't need to give.
Giving because you want to give.
Damien Hess

Feel free to share an idea at johnjhogan@yahoo.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops or speaking engagements

All rights reserved by John Hogan and this column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication

John Hogan is a frequent guest speaker at industry events and advises hotel management groups and owners, lenders, asset managers and operators on industry 'best practices' and conducts reviews of quality in operations and marketing.

John's background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor at three different colleges and universities over a 20 year period, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independent hotels. He was the principal in an independent training & consulting group for more than 12 years serving associations, management groups, convention & visitors' bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness. He joined Best Western International in spring of 2000, where over the next 8 years he created and developed a blended learning system as the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for the world's largest hotel chain.
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