In hotel marketing if perceived value is replaced by short term discounts, the business plan is out the window
When I was real young I always wondered why my dad had so many more pants than colberts in his closet. No I’m not talking about Stephen Colbert; I’m talking about suit jackets. On average I counted two to one. Now dad did financial controlling for the Dutch State Mines, so his closet had only suits. No slacks with different jackets or past time clothes either. I found an answer to my question when I asked my mom one day and she said, whenever dad gets a suit, the tailor sold him two pants for one.
So the perceived-value concept is really nothing new to consumers; smart tailors in the first part of the last century already preferred this over reducing the price of each suit. And ever since it’s preferred way of presenting a better value while preserving price integrity.
Since People don’t really buy price but perceived value, the recent recession has provided ample margin space as we all know from late night informercials where “act now and get two for the same price” has become a favorite standard.
Hotels include breakfast or airport transfers or free WIFI, Cable TV, beach rentals and many other amenities that are part of the direct operating cost of a hotel anyway, thus creating much better value-added programs than dropping the room rates.
There are a couple of very different approaches to marketing hotels today. There are some hoteliers who still believe that reducing rates will boost lagging room sales, while others stand firm that value-added promotions and robust marketing will turn the tide. The problem with reducing rates is that even though it may work for walk ins in high occupancy tourist areas during a recession, but when the economy rebounds, these hotels will find it very difficult to get their rates back to “normal”.
Rates are the longterm compass of a hospitality operation. It is what the business plan is based on, including covering fixed cost.
The variable expense pattern offers different opportunities
While many hotels are using the Internet to parade themselves, too few actually use the channel to promote themselves.
Some hotels ignore the Internet entirely or if they are part of a chain or franchise, they assume that the internet is taken care of by headquarters. Yet others want to embrace the net but are in the dark on how much time and money they need to allocate to Internet marketing and promotions. Still others have over time improved their online presence from unsearchable cyberbrochures, only exposed on traditional magazine ads and business cards, to search engine ranked websites. But they forget to build a blog site next to the website as the essential daily interaction with the marketplace.
There is no doubt that most hoteliers now recognize the many benefits offered by the Internet; the controversy lies in the approach and the actual use of their site. The net is rapidly evolving and changing; site design functionality and accessibility is more important than ever. Flash built sites are rapidly losing functionality as search engines are more sophisticated than ever, and social media, with its user-generated content, is making a huge impact on hotel selection once the destination is mapped out. But most importantly why not use the opportunity to promote value-added offers on your site?
Savvy hoteliers are using their sites to promote packages and destination-oriented offers with a call to action. There are also hotels very involved in using social media, yet they have websites which are worse than a maze with a dozen open exits, not to mention the badly conceived, poorly-written sales copy. Many of them appear focused on FaceBook and Twitter with little concern or activity with for example TripAdvisor or Fodor or TravelTalkOnline and others.
While numbers of fans and followers are important using comments made by actual guests are better sales tools. Sure by all means, put a special promotion into your Twitter and Facebook pipelines. Create a special LinkedIn promotion for professionals, place a video on youTube and link it with your other efforts. It’s great if you decided to make the time to work on all three, but if you don’t, at least work on travel social media and do it right.
Also don’t forget that if you have employees, to make it mandatory for them during work hours to perform some outlined social media tasks. Franchised Hotels with proprietary sites are seeing great results Many hoteliers with franchised hotels have discovered that having their own proprietary website, not only provides additional hotel find-ability on search engines, it also hugely increases control of their product’s sales message, because they can easy and quickly update the information on their own site, often within hours.
A warning here: make sure you own your domain URL and hosting account.
In spite of all the evidenced results to the contrary, some franchises apparently still frown upon the very idea of allowing their franchisees to have and maintain their own websites. Trying to understand their resistance is tantamount to control issues familiar with the past.
Several franchises “get it” while others don’t. And based on that it just doesn’t make good sense to leave the entire Internet marketing effort solely in the hands of the franchise. They are into brand-building, but you should be into business-building.
In the end every website project must meet your financial requirements to produce a good return-on-investment. Your website design, or re-design, plans should be able to withstand the same financial scrutiny as any other capital expenditure for your hotel. This payback is highly influenced by how well the site is designed for search and sales.
From site visitors to conversion
In summary; develop value-added packages and use your website and blog site to promote, not just present, your property. Search engine optimization of your website will get more visitors to your site, as will social media networking and even strictly monitored pay per click campaigns, but visitors mean nothing unless your site coverts them into customers, quick and easy.