How to Market Your Hotel Today for Success Tomorrow

By Vanessa Horwell Founder & Chief Visibility Officer, ThinkInk & TravelInk'd | August 01, 2011

In today's operating environment, hotel marketing strategies have put an overwhelming emphasis on immediacy. And with good reason; with demand and average rates at or near historic lows in many markets, marketing is needed to reinforce occupancy and keep a property fresh in consumers' minds. The fact is, hoteliers are more concerned about their marketing programs drawing in new guests right away than about developing a brand or laying the groundwork for a successful 2013.

While understandable, this is ultimately a shortsighted approach to hotel marketing. Setting a discounted rate and blasting out an announcement about it may yield some short-term results, but at what long-term cost? How will heavy discounting affect the brand over the next year or 18 months? How will loyal customers react to the initiative? These considerations should be weighed as carefully as ROI projections.

Fortunately, positioning your hotel for future success and accomplishing your short-term marketing goals are not mutually exclusive concepts. There are several ways to market your hotel for future success without compromising the pressing needs of today. In many cases, these tactics don't even involve large financial investments, but rather rely upon a focus on multiyear aims; good analysis of markets, customers, strengths and weaknesses; the utilization of emerging technologies; and a strong brand identity.

Many of the marketing hints below are rooted in common sense, and can seem quite obvious when taking the long view of things, but often get trumped by the unrelenting urgency of now. So let's get started sowing your property's seeds of success.

Reach the right demographics

This is marketing 101 and it holds especially true when you're planning for long-term success. Define your audience, segment it in terms of demographics, and target them with relevant messaging. Too often hospitality marketers cast the widest net possible, acting under the rationale that a mass market approach will attract the most potential customers.

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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.