Hotel Marketing Plans That Mean Business

By Sandy Heydt Director of Sales & Marketing, The Logan, Philadelphia's Hotel | October 28, 2008

When completed, most marketing plans only get placed in a tabbed binder, while the Owner, Management Company and General Manager may or may not even glance at it. Then it goes on a shelf and collects dust.

First things first: everyone along the food chain needs to take responsibility for marketing plans that are not meaningful. Sometimes Management Company executives or General Managers just want a plan to look good...i.e. big and thick with lots of graphs. Marketing directors just want to get it done and move on to the next project - like actually selling rooms or putting out the first fire of the day. I can remember that when I was on property I dreaded marketing plan time because I had so many other things to do, and I was also a tad resentful because I knew the plan would really never be read carefully by anyone else.

Working document

What a waste of a potentially great tool. Marketing plans can be valuable, working documents which are used all year long by sales and catering managers, food and beverage directors, restaurant managers, revenue managers, advertising and public relations staff. All these individuals should not only have input into the plan, but assist in writing it. Who better knows their clients, competition, challenges and strengths? Who is responsible on a day-to-day basis for revenue production? There is no better way to get the buy-in from key staff on plans and actions for the coming year than involving them in the planning process.

How many of us have written plans while cloistered in our office, just writing to deadline, daring anyone to interrupt? I can remember in the old days, before I got smart about writing plans, that my staff would avoid me like the plague during this time. I must have had a look that said, "Ask me a question and I just might lose it!"

Use your staff to help

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.