Strategic Planning: Positioning Hotels in a Competitive Landscape

By Kim Hehir VP of Strategic Planning, The Leading Hotels of the World | April 15, 2010

For any hotel or resort to maintain its position as a leader, it must analyze its current and future operating environment, economic and market conditions, consumer and travel trends, as well as its ever-evolving competitive landscape.

Those hotels and resorts which will continue to achieve success are those which take a long term view, by establishing a clear, five-year strategic plan which should be reviewed and updated each year. Additionally, companies should produce annual operating and marketing plans which address more tactical initiatives.

Creating an effective strategic plan, and using it as a decision-making tool, will help ensure a hotel's future financial health and profitability. Elements of the Strategic Plan should include:

  • Vision
    The Vision outlines what the Company strives to be. It is an emotional and visual call to arms that drives the behavior of our employees and organizational structures. Employees need to be able to understand and identify with the vision in order to provide a focus for future development and strategy. "Is what we are doing today consistent with our long term vision? If not - why are we doing it?" The vision should be used to support your hotel or resort and any of its sales and marketing efforts.

  • Strategic Intents
    The Strategic Intents are broad based but clearly defined goals that guide the strategic direction of the company. These goals are based on a common understanding of success, culture, etc. and provide the framework for the Company to develop and measure actions against. For example "to grow market share and profitability."

  • Strategic Objectives
    Strategic Objectives relate to outcomes that strengthen an organization's overall business position and competitive vitality. "To grow market share by penetrating new markets such as the entertainment and pharmaceutical markets." "To grow profitability by controlling marketing expenses based on specific Return on Investment thresholds.

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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.