Rooms First or Rooms Last? A Case for Event Marketing as a Primary Revenue Model

By Marc Portugal Director of Marketing, Bortz Group of Companies | August 03, 2010

As of today, March 24, 2009, there are 800+ hotel-related sales and marketing jobs in the US posted on alone. That doesn't sound like a recession...unfortunately, that's not the case. While jobseekers perk up at the notion of an abundance of hotel sales & marketing positions, I cringe at the notion that conventional expectations and benchmarks for these roles may be impossible to realize.

Business and leisure travel is down in general, as well as convention attendance and off-site meeting planning. This will not change anytime soon. For many hotels and resorts, the rooms that guests would occupy if they were traveling for any of the aforementioned reasons constitute both the majority of a hotel's space and the primary source of its revenue. So - now what?

In my first article for, "The New "H" Word and the Future of Hotels: (and stop ignoring the locals...)" I proposed that many hotels may benefit from a shift in branding and marketing toward a "habitat" model - providing an ongoing "hub" of activity and experiences for locals as well as out of town guests. In my second article, I discussed means of cross-marketing these activities once they were created. In this article - allow me to back up and clearly address the activities themselves - what I will call Event Marketing - and how they can make hotels money both now and in the future.

To begin with, and for the sake of clarity, allow me to establish some basic operational definitions (at least for this article.) I specifically suggest that hotels pursue Event Marketing to make money sooner and later. Event Marketing is 100% different than Sales Management and 100% different than Event Planning.

Event Marketing (also referred to as Experience Marketing or Experiential Marketing) uses relevant events based on consumer habits and core interests to grow brand awareness, trial, and revenues. Event Marketing makes up the activity allowing hotels to function as a "habitat" and capture revenue from locals.

Sales Management is selling rooms and meeting space. Event Planning is helping guests and clients with their meeting, convention, celebration, etc. once rooms or meeting space is sold. Again and with respect, this paragraph is not meant to be patronizing. It is merely meant to establish clarity of terms, and meant to make clear that I am NOT recommending a duplication of typical sales or event planning efforts.

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