Your Environmental Policy, An Untapped Asset (Part II)

By Tyler Tatum Marketing Strategy Consultant, | August 25, 2010

In the first part of this series, we helped you create a document outlining your environmental policy, which you and your team can use as a point of reference for direction as well as articulating your efforts to guests. In tracking your savings, it will be important to reference this document in order to better understand the source of the savings. For example, if your property is experiencing a large reduction in water usage, but your environment policy identifies no efforts related to water reduction; your team is clearly missing some important information. Either you have forgotten to include key water saving initiatives your property has implemented, or some other factor has changed.

You may notice the use the singular term "property" instead of plural term "properties". Due to differences in environmental conditions, clientele, individual property occupancy, and other related factors, it is important to look at the impact of your environmental policy at the level of each individual property. For those who have multiple properties, you can sum your overall efforts; however, ignoring the individual property differences may cause you to make global decisions without vital information. For example, in a hotel next to a national park, guests may be highly sensitized to environmental issues such that your overall impact may be less than a property implementing changes in the middle of New York City.

Referencing how you are marketing your environmental efforts will become important information in tracking and understanding the overall impact of your efforts on metrics such as sales and guests satisfaction. Without a clear understanding of the changes you are making in your behaviors, you will have a hard time understanding the metrics representing the results of your changes. For example, you will have to include any changes in your sales and marketing efforts in your interpretation of your sales figures.

Once you have created your environmental policy, there are three key metrics in assessing the impact of your environment policy. 1) Understanding your performance prior to implementing changes, 2) estimating the impact of your property's efforts, and 3) matching your estimates to your actual. In reviewing these three metrics, each must be broken into two main categories: overall impact on sales (or heads in beds) and overall impact on operations.

First, we will investigate how to measure and track your policy's impact on sales. In order to understand your past revenue performance, it will be important to retrieve the last twelve months of revenue per available room (Rev PAR) data, as well as the overall occupancy rates. Take these numbers and plot them on a graph (this is easy to do using Excel or just a sheet of paper). Mark where your hotel had lower or higher occupancy during the year. Identify your Rev PAR and occupancy for the year, and draw these numbers on the graph.

Next, use your understanding of how you are marketing your environmental policy to help you identify what the impact on overall sales might be. For example, assume you ran an ad including your environmental efforts in the local media, and 10% of your guests come from the local community. A doubling of traffic from your advertising efforts would only increase occupancy rates by approximately 10%. In looking at future performance, it will be important to use this information in order to understand if any change did occur. If you are marketing through any of the environmental organizations such as the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) or the Environment Protection Agency's Energy Star program, call them and ask how other hotels have been effected from there efforts.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.