It's Time For Hoteliers To Sharpen The Saw.
By Neil Salerno – Hotel Marketing Coach
Wednesday, 23rd June 2010
A common-sense approach to renewal - 

In 1989, Stephan Covey published a book entitled '7 Habits of Highly Effective People', if you haven't read this book, I strongly suggest that you do. For me, it has made a significant impact on my life, both personally and professionally. Habit number seven, Sharpen The Saw, is one of my favorites.

Covey tells  about someone walking through the woods and comes across a man busy sawing down a tree. After watching for a few minutes, He asks the man "how long having you been sawing that tree" and the man responds, "about three hours". The visitor thinks for a moment and says "maybe it's time to stop and sharpen the saw". 

For a long time now, through the recession, hoteliers everywhere have been doing whatever possible to salvage revenue and profit for their hotels. Along with the usual scramble to solicit business, they made necessary rate adjustments, discovered the power of the Internet, while others implemented revenue management for the first time but I think it's time to stop and sharpen their saw.

Sharpening the saw represents making a complete review of everything that you're doing; what works, what doesn't. Gather your team together and get their valuable feed-back. Many hotels were forced to consolidate operational and marketing tasks; now is the time to assess how well these changes are working. Some people do well with multi-tasking and some don't. It's time to assess everyone's progress.

It's also time to prioritize the tasks ahead. What will your marketing priorities be going forward for the second half of this year and beyond? We all know that direct sales should be at the top of the list. It is still the most effective form for soliciting new business. If your hotel is too small to afford an individual to be totally dedicated to sales, my advice is for the owner or manager to look in the mirror and choose the first person they see.

Yes, for smaller properties, owners and managers need to be actively involved in the sales process. Among the activities I always suggest to owners and managers of smaller properties is to get involved in CVB's and Chambers of Commerce. It is always vitally important to rub shoulders with your peers and listen carefully; you may just learn something about your marketplace. This is not a time to withdraw from your market.

If you have a sales force, it's time to get back to the basics; make more contacts. As companies begin to recover from the recession, they will be ripe to form new relationships and loyalties. Most of these companies have cut employees to the bone and they are experiencing the multi-tasking dilemma too. Offering help with their travel needs could create a profitable new relationship.

Internet & Electronic Marketing

The Internet and other forms of electronic marketing are critical elements for success now and into the future. Now, is the time to make an assessment of the production from your website. Start with the number of reservations received versus website visitors. Is this "closing" ratio being negatively impacted by poorly created rates? Is your website attracting relevant visitors; are you receiving site analytics to help fine tune your website? Have you created a symbiotic relationship with your webmaster to create programs to promote your hotel on your website?

Are the rates on your website booking engine in parity with rates offered everywhere else? When was the last time you did a thorough review of your website for updates? Is it time for a new website to boost sales?

Participation in Social Media Activities

It's time to review the guest comments on TripAdvisor. Has the general manager answered all negative comments? Many managers post "thank you" comments on positive comments too. I think that's a great idea.

Comment scores on TripAdvisor and other social media can be influenced too. Train your front desk to encourage guests to post comments, at check-out. Guests who have had a bad experience do not need encouragement; good experiences do. Your TripAdvisor score depends upon the ratio of good and bad comments; more positive comments raises that ratio.

If you participate with FaceBook and Twitter, make sure that your comments and updates emphasize destination, first and your hotel, second. No one cares about your hotel unless they plan to visit your hotel's destination. Provide a "reason" to visit your area.

Online Travel Agents

This is also a good time to examine your hotel's relationship with Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz. If you are not in any of their "preferred" programs, you might want to consider it. OTA's have the ability to boost business, when you need it.

Sharpening the Saw can create the sense of renewal your hotel may need; you've made it through the worst the economy had to offer. It's time to re-group, analyze, and begin to reap the rewards from all that hard work.

Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA
Hotel Marketing Coach
Email: NeilS@hotelmarketingcoach.com 


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