Hotel Advertising: How to Create Award Winning Ads (Yes, Even on a Budget)

By Brenda Fields Founder, Fields & Company | May 19, 2010

We know the challenge for independent hotels is to evaluate the best use of its marketing budget, ensuring the greatest return on the investment. Therefore, for owners and operators to ensure that money is spent wisely and that any advertising ensures the greatest ROI, a few basic pointers are in order.

Define your position in the marketplace:

The very first step, whether a new build or a repositioning, is to decide what you want to be. Are you a modern, boutique hotel; a traditional or historic hotel; a convention hotel; or a small, budget hotel? Once you've decided what you want to be, look in the market place to determine what the standard service, amenities, and overall product are in your category. Then, decide where you want to be relative to your competition. In the budget category, do you want to offer the greatest value, such as offering complimentary breakfast, when your competitors do not? Do you want to be the rate leader in the market place or the best price? Try to come up with something that sets you apart from the pack.

And be true to your position. How many times do we see ads for budget hotels with limousines sitting outside or a couple in formal wear sipping champagne? That image was selected to create an upscale image. Buy why? A guest who wants a luxury experience is not going to stay in a budget hotel. So decide who you are, determine your market differentiation, and communicate that.

Defining your position and understating all the elements important to communicate will lead you to designing effective ads and determining the best placements.

Establish your target market(s):

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.