Maximizing Your Hotel Communication in an Uncertain Market

By Gini Dietrich Founder & CEO, Arment Dietrich Inc. | November 27, 2009

Is the unstable economy throwing shadows over your sunny vacation destinations or business travel hot spots? In these uncertain times, you are undoubtedly re-evaluating your business plans, sales strategies and of course, ways to cut costs. Often when budgets are cut, marketing is the first thing to go, but now is not the time to stop talking. In fact, it is more important than ever to be out there communicating with your current and potential customers and the people who play one of, if not “the” most crucial role in promoting your brand — your employees.

The mistake that many companies make across all industries is when business gets tough, all communication becomes price driven. Don’t get me wrong, the right pricing strategy can make or break a business, but if price is the only message that is communicated, then what you offer guests becomes a commodity conversation and that is a scary place to be and an impossible position for growth. When the dust settles, organizations that build up their identity and brand emerge the winners.

Public relations is one of the most effective and economical communication strategies. Not only does it build awareness, it builds trust and let’s face it, that is hard to find in the current economic climate. When a reporter “chooses” to interview you, when a leading organization “asks” you to speak, or when a
well-know blogger “engages” you in a conversation, it sends a message that you can be trusted and have something useful to say. So how do you go about building relationships with these key influencers?

Transcend Commoditization

Two major challenges afflict the hotel industry in tough economic times — smaller budgets mean less travel and hotel sales become price driven. In tough economic times, hotel stays become a commodity
rather than a service. Business travelers and vacationers search online for the least expensive stay. When your brand touts its quality and experience rather than its prices, stand out from the competition using communication in a down market.

Think of ongoing communications during uncertain economic times as an investment in the future. It is analogous to being the first hotel on an island. You invest more capital upfront in the development of roads and sewer systems, but in the long run your business stays ahead of the game providing rooms for travelers while your competitors are still under construction. Maintaining strategic public relations through rough economic times gives you a competitive advantage and keeps you ahead of your competitors in the
long run.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.