The Dish On the Niche: Tighten Your Focus and Watch Your Revenue Grow

By Andrew Freeman President, Andrew Freeman & Company | March 06, 2010

"Spray and pray" is so pass'e. Gone are the days of promoting yourself to everyone in the hopes of capturing anyone. With the advent of technology, the increasing presence of the Internet and the growing savvy of travelers, it's now possible - and necessary - to shrink your focus and target very select groups of customers. Niche marketing may mean going after fewer guest segments, but you may find these smaller groups are so much more qualified and loyal, generating greater revenue at a lesser cost as a result.

What exactly is a niche market? It is a small group of potential and existing customers who fall into very specific, well-defined demographics and psychographics. Rather than targeting everyone who needs a hotel room, for example, a niche market might be made up of female corporate executives who travel frequently for business and who look for particular amenities, services and locations convenient to their demanding schedules. If your hotel targets a niche market - and does it well - the group of customers in this market are more likely to remember you, continue to use you and also refer you to like-minded others.

Be prepared before you venture into a niche market. This is a point that cannot be stressed enough. No matter what your targeted group, spend the time and invest the resources beforehand to make sure your hotel makes sense for the niche market you are aiming to capture. You must ensure that your program is well researched, that you understand the buying and behavioral patterns of this group, and that the services, the amenities and the brand your hotel offers exceed the expectations of your targeted niche market.

Your Niche List. How Do You Start? You Gotta' Be Real. How Do You Launch?

You've done your homework. You've found one or two niche markets that appear suited to your hotel's brand. Now you want to develop an operations and marketing plan that go hand in hand with each other, both strategically and tactically, just as you would with any other initiative. Operationally, you want to implement those standards, services and amenities that truly benefit the niche market you're targeting, while your marketing plan includes attention to typical elements such as advertising, public relations, Internet marketing and evangelism marketing. In addition, some key points to incorporate:

Show Me The Money. How Do You Track?

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.