Special Offers Deserve a Special Place in Your Marketing Mix

By Rob Kall President, Bookt LLC | May 05, 2010

Name a more competitive online arena than Travel. Can you? As an entrepreneur in hospitality marketing and technology – perhaps I am biased. To me, the Travel marketplace is at the top tier of the web's explosion of channel aggregation, information, and game changing consumer sophistication. To compete and win, today's hotelier must develop a multi-layered strategy and deploy an array of finely-tuned tactics. And must do so while battling a recovering economy and navigating crowded sea lanes. Bon voyage!

Special times require special measures, with the keyword being "Specials" – a tried and true marketing tactic that can help you beat your competitors, engages consumers, and can be profitable when smartly done and managed. Unless your city is hosting the Super Bowl, every day, forever, specials should have a time and place in your marketing mix.

Priming the Pump

According to their most recent survey on consumer satisfaction with reservations made on seven major independent travel sites, J D. Power and Associates reports – in order of importance – that consumers are looking for "competitiveness of price, ease of booking, usefulness of the information on the website, availability of booking options/travel packages, appearance/design of site, and ease of navigation." Thus, while price clearly plays a key role in consumer satisfaction, just as clearly – improving your site itself is also critical. This means that savvy hoteliers will continually refine their website. Consumers are seeking comfort and value in your property as well as in their online experience. To prime the pump for effective use of special offers, get your website house in order. This is absolutely Step #1.

Website Content

Okay. Your website functionality and design is new and improved. So it's time to launch your Valentine's Weekend Away promotion – right? Not so fast. One other area on your site requires a look before you leap. Content. According to an April 2009 report from the global online travel and tourism site, TravelMole, when booking a holiday online, consumers say the following content are important:

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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.