Tips on Marketing Through a Downturn: Focus and Prioritisation

By Sanjay Nijhawan COO, Guoman Hotels (UK) | June 06, 2010

Whilst we are living in unprecedented times there is no reason why the basic precepts of good marketing practice should suddenly be removed and replaced by knee-jerk reactions and cost-cutting. Indeed the opposite is true - never has it been more important to be faithful to your brand's promise. Now is the time to remember what makes marketing work effectively and, even more importantly in the current climate, efficiently. Maintaining your marketing activity and budget, whilst ensuring it is working as hard as possible, will be vital to negotiating your way through this recession and in ensuring you are in a strong position when we come out of it. So, here are my top tips for marketing through an economic downturn.

Customers

Prospects are not going to make you successful next year - customers will. Existing customers are up to 7 times more profitable to deal with than new customers - so there has never been a better time to identify who your best customers are and get as close to them as possible. Particularly in times of economic uncertainty and tight budgets, there is no point in trying to be all things to all people; it is ineffective and costly. Much better to reach out to customers who will be glad to work with you.

Regular communication with your key customers is vital. Understanding and addressing their issues will be key to your survival, retaining their business and preventing them being wooed by an ever more active competition. Simple steps include targeting your sales-team with regular meetings with these key accounts; develop simple communications, such as email updates, to keep them abreast of any developments or special offers; provide a senior point of contact so they feel recognised, they have a direct communication channel with your company and can speak to an individual empowered to make decisions that will help retain their business.

Differentiate your offering

In tough times it is easy to be too focused on price. Find alternative ways to compete other than solely on price. Not only will your activity be more profitable (as price reductions immediately hit the bottom line) but it will stand out against your competitors, increasing the likelihood of generating responses from your target audience.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.