Destination Marketing: Selling Your Destination to Increase Room Sales

By Bob Dauner Vice President, Sales & Business Development, BeDynamic, Inc | May 19, 2010

Have you ever asked your guests why they are visiting your city? Beyond just casual conversation at check-in, are you actively documenting the specific activities that bring your guests to town?

If you're not, you should be. Marketing your destination as an attraction is just as important as marketing your hotel. If you do document guest activities, is everyone trained on how to enter the information and how to utilize that information to market to that guest for a future visit?

Most hotels are focused on marketing their property on price and amenities like on-site fitness centers, four-star restaurant, plush pillows, and other services. While your guests are in town for a specific purpose - a business meeting, a visit to friends or family, vacation, or some other specific event - chances are they are also looking to enrich their travel experience with a visit to a cultural or historic place such as a museum, theater, nightclub or even a sporting event. Whatever brought your guests to town, you should take the opportunity to learn more about what your guests are doing once they walk out your front door. By not proactively seeking out this information, you could be missing out on an opportunity to increase hotel room sales by leveraging regional events and activities for the guest to attend and therefore extend their stay.

An Emerging Market: The Cultural Traveler

Over the past few years, a new market segment has emerged: cultural tourism. Travelers who make up this market typically include cultural, arts, heritage, or historic activities as part of their itineraries. These are travelers who love history and culture and tend to spend more and stay longer than average tourists. According to a recent study by the Travel Industry Association (TIA), 61 million travelers cited a cultural event or activity as a reason for taking a trip, while 35 million travelers say their choice of destination is influenced by a cultural event. Also significant: TIA's research has found that 40% of cultural travelers, or 47 million people, added extra days to their trip for a cultural-related event - that equals more nights in your hotel.

This growing market creates great economic potential for the travel and tourism industry, and a unique opportunity for hotels to increase revenue by leveraging cultural tourism as a way to market destinations.

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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.