What are the key elements of hotel marketing? How can a hotelier know if their marketing people are set up to do a good job? In the highly specialized world of hotel marketing there are certain points that must be taken into account by any hotelier intending to check his marketing efforts.
While we could be infinitely more complicated and detailed in this article we've summed it up to the four main elements of hotel marketing for use by a hotelier trying to improve their strategy.
When going in a meeting with your marketing department or marketing agency question the following points to find out what is being done on each and create a cohesive marketing strategy for your hotel.
Each of the above steps can and should be improved step by step to increase your overall revenue and most importantly your direct revenue.
In this post we'll rapidly cover each point to give you, the hotelier, more information on what each means.POPULARITY
The popularity of the hotel is how much search there is for your hotel. It's a simple factor and can be measured through basic tools like Google Analytics or other site analytics tools. The searches for your brand are the most qualified leads you can get and the most important long term strategy is to increase those searches. There are a multitude of channels that should be used to do that and one of the fastest and most immediate is the billboard effect.
Other tools are: social media, advertising on search engines and much more. As a hotelier one of your most important tools is word-of-mouth and that means incredible service, what you can do today is make sure your guests leave with more than they expected. They'll post great reviews on TripAdvisor and other review sites, they'll talk to their friends and family and they'll share stories on Facebook and Twitter.
And then find out from your Marketing staff what they're doing to improve that. If they don't have a plan have them work one out. If it's going to cost you a fortune, then get them to re-work it. Increasing the hotel's popularity is something that can take a bit of time, but on the long-term it's the health of your hotel that depends on it.RATES / AVAILABILITY
It goes without saying that your rates and availability are the number one factor that will get you bookings (or not). In fact per Google's research (Travel Hotel Consumers of Nov 2010) 34% of the people who booked, chose a specific site based on the price.
If you're managing your own rates you have plenty of experience with this. What you can do to improve this? ensure you've named the correct competition to compare to it's not necessarily the hotel's near you. There are hotels we manage that only compare their rates to hotels which are better located than them, because their service, decor quality and reviews are so much better than any hotel in their surroundings they're also much more expensive than those hotels. By comparing to the right competition they've increased their average price dramatically.
On the other hand, some hotels have a fixed idea that their average price must be at a certain level. Don't let you ego dictate your price, it's not a great news but while your hotel may be well located however the reviews, service and decor may not be up to the level guest require. Don't hesitate to cut your rate while you work on improving those. I've never seen a hotel cut a price and not be able to raise it again later. What I have seen is a hotel not being able to raise a price because of bad reputation and bad decor.BRAND PROTECTION
No matter the popularity of your hotel (small or large) you need to protect your brand. Remember these are your most valuable visitors. Find out how many third parties are advertising on your name and make sure you're always before them. Additionally, there are ways you can limit others to advertise on your name and you should demand you marketing department/agency to take action on these.
It isn't a minor point, this is how you will make sure that the actions you have done above (Popularity) will generate direct bookings instead of generating more commission based bookings.
As a hotelier find out if your marketing people have a plan to protect your brand and verify that it's being done. Some actions that should be done are purchasing the direct link to your website on TripAdvisor and other rate comparison sites, ensuring your hotel comes first with your website on all these sites. But that's not all and you should get your marketing people to tell you what they are doing exactly.DESIGN
There are two extremes in design and one middle ground. The first extreme is going totally creative and making the most amazing website. While this is tempting and great for one's ego, it isn't necessarily the most efficient. Then there's the other extreme which is doing a site that's only there to generate bookings and doesn't help the hotel's image. The middle-ground is always the hardest it requires extremely good knowledge of the elements that make a website sell while having a keen eye for design.
To do this a hotel needs to get web design made by designers that have lots of experience in the hotel industry. Getting a website made by any designer often leads to incorrect priorities that doesn't generate bookings. In a hotel website there are certain factors that create bookings. We've covered them quite extensively in a series of articles entitled Moments of Truth in Hotel Marketing, we recommend that you read them to get a grasp of what should and what shouldn't be there. A hotel's website has between 3 and 7 seconds to interest the user and convince him to look further and book. Realize that the user visiting your website is also visiting on average 9 other hotel websites, thus design of the site is a key element to convert into guests.
Now the website isn't everything, you've got to select a booking engine that converts well. Realize that the average traveler spends almost as much time on the site as they do on the booking engine (14 minutes on the website versus 11 minutes on the booking engine). We published an article with the key elements of a good booking engine which you should read here. In choosing a booking engine, cost is not all and if the booking engine does not forward the quality of the hotel's website and image you will lose guests to third parties since their booking process is extremely streamlined.SUMMARY
Hoteliers shouldn't be left in the dark about their marketing, while it is a highly technical subject and requires professionals request information and make sure there is a strategy to align the elements that will make your direct bookings and website the main part of your hotel's revenue.http://wihphotel.com