This article originally appeared on Tambourine.
It’s easy to see how things can go off course in hotel marketing.
With an array of channels, disparate vendors and multiple audience segments to manage, it’s inevitable that some things may fall through the cracks, questions will go unanswered and mistakes could quickly multiply.
The good news is that even if your hotel marketing is out of control from time to time, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost control.
You are still at the helm and can turn things around whenever you decide to acknowledge the wrong turns you’ve made and the missing pieces you overlooked.
Here are a few of the telltale signs that your hotel marketing might need a reality check… and how to turn things around:
1. You’re Clueless About How Much You Pay OTAs
Sooner or later, your owners or managers will ask you, “How much are these OTA bookings really costing us?” It’s a question that all hoteliers dread. Why? Because OTA commissions are often opaque. They generally pay a net rate to the hotel, aftercollecting their commission. Unfortunately, this means the fees being paid to OTAs will never show up as an expense on your P&L statements.
Not only do these invisible marketing expenses cost significantly more than direct bookings, they also pose a threat to your other marketing assets as well. When owners look at the budget to see which marketing costs to scale back on, the first thing on the chopping blocks are the expenses that are actually shown, even if they produce profitable bookings, such as your hotel website.
So hidden OTA costs are allowed to continue, while your other marketing investments are reduced. You should specifically examine and document how much each OTA booking costs vs the actual cost per booking of alternative channels.
2. Too Many Vendors, Too Much Chaos
The more marketing vendors you work with, the more complications and chaos you can expect. Managing several, disconnected vendors to handle separate marketing functions, like advertising campaigns, hotel website design, email marketing or social media, can hurt you in several ways: First, you’re most likely paying more for each vendor’s separate services. You’re wasting time by managing and relaying messages from vendor to vendor. And, worst of all, no single vendor is held accountable for overall success. Instead, they likely point fingers at each other.
The key is to consolidate.
Narrow down your marketing partners to those who you trust the most, who produce the best and those who can handle multiple critical functions.
3. You Can’t Measure Your Contributions
Hotel owners and managers expect their marketing teams to contribute to their revenue targets IN MEASURABLE WAYS. However, many hotel marketers still shy away from being accountable for any revenue responsibilities. Instead, they lavishly tout their “rebranding initiatives,” number of social media followers or new hotel photography.
This continued disregard for numerical evaluation will put you in a difficult position next year, when you attempt to request a larger marketing budget. Without measuring your success, owners and managers will be more apt to cut back on marketing expenses and staff, believing that your intangible branding results can be achieved with less.
To show how your marketing efforts are contributing to the hotel’s revenue, calculate your marketing cost per booking (MCPB). Use this figure to prove your team’s value and make sure you’re given the proper correlated amount of marketing funds next year.
4. You’re Unable (or Afraid) to Discuss Property Upgrades With Owners
For the past few years, major hotel brands have invested millions in revamping their current properties or launching new collections in response to the expectations of modern travelers. With so many of these new or freshly renovated/re-imagined properties vying for your guests’ attention, it’s more important than ever to keep up and stay competitive by offering remarkable experiences, aesthetics and amenities.
It’s vital that your ownership is on board to invest in the necessary renovations, redesigns and upgrades. Or else, don’t be surprised when guests pass you over for the newer kid on the block. No amount of creativity and provocative marketing can mask an aging and tired property.
Remind your ownership of that unavoidable reality in the nicest possible way.
5. You Fail at Rate Parity
We get it.
Managing rates can get complicated. Setting rates every day, for every room, on every channel can easily get overwhelming and confusing. And, not just for you, but your customers, as well.
Maintaining rate and market parity is vital to your bottom line. If you and your revenue managers fall asleep at the wheel, you can bet you’ll quickly be surrendering revenue.
This is about diligently staying on top of all the channels, using the right automation tools and working with a conscientious revenue manager. Monitor your comp set’s rate strategy weekly to ensure you have market parity.
6. You Are Unable to Increase Meetings and Events Lead Flow
Meetings and events are often a hotel’s game changer. And, you know that a single group’s spend on event venues, F&B, guest rooms and other ancillary services can quickly help you meet budget.
But, what if your group sales numbers remain stagnant, leads consistently go cold and sales calls fail to produce interest?
Something is wrong, but it’s nothing that you – a bold, brilliant and boundless hospitality leader – can’t fix. There are numerous ways to get in front of meeting planners, earn their trust and compete for and win their event contracts.
If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to freshen up your sales approach with new tactics. Some of our favorites include:
- Reshuffle your sales team by keeping your top performers and attracting other great sales managers.
- Create a fresh new roadmap for sales success by outlining each market and goals for sales calls/visits, industry trade shows, and marketing and sales campaigns, etc. Keep this visible and open to update often.
- Do more of what actually impacts meeting planners’ decisions and site selections (Discover the highlights of our recent meeting planner survey here).
- Consistently position your hotel as the epicenter of your destination’s epic group experiences.
- Require each sales leader to remain active in LinkedIn groups and offer relevant commentary and participation everyday.
7. Your Guest Sentiment is Plummeting
Every hotel has their share of negative reviews. But, this doesn’t give you a hall pass to shrug them off. How a hotel decides to manage guest reviews will determine if that property shines or stumbles in the future.
Notice your TripAdvisor score declining or stagnating? This means your owners and management staff have largely ignored the golden nuggets of feedback that guests leave for them. Do guests express their irritation with the noisy air conditioners in the rooms? Are there several complaints about the lackluster breakfast buffet? Do guests often mention a rude staff member?
Frankly, if you receive the same complaint twice, that is already one time too many. Bad service, bad sleep, bad food options and a host of other things can essentially ruin a guest’s opinion of you and their decision whether or not to come back.
Consider your guests as your eyes and ears to the problems that are holding your hotel back. When something is broken, actually fix it. Don’t just promise to ‘look into it,’ then walk away.
Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com
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