Is Your Hotel Sailing the Seven “Cs”?

By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | April 10, 2011

More than a decade ago, the American writer, George William Curtis (1824-1892), was prophetic when he said: "It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage." Little did he know that in 2011, his comments would hit the lodging industry head on. In these turbulent economic seas, when consumers reduce spending, new guests are harder to recruit, and operational costs are rising, hoteliers face unprecedented challenges today and uncertainty tomorrow. (Are you having fun yet?) If you feel like you are shooting the rapids in a rubber raft, you are not alone. There are a lot of properties in the same type of raft. But is it too easy to be hypnotized by all the hazards in the water, to the threat of capsizing your hotel's ship? The short answer is yes. As I read once, "If you focus on the rocks, that's where you will go...[instead] look for and steer to the high water and paddle like a fiend." (Yeah, I know, this is easier said than done.)

To find that high water, owners and managers alike have to remember that the goal of any business is thriving, not just surviving. And the means by which it survives is to invest in "C-worthy" marketing instead of waiting for a change in market wind conditions. As contrary as this may sound, it is a time-worn strategy that is supported by a variety of studies showing that organizations who maintain or increase their marketing activities in down times average significantly higher revenues during the recession and recovery period than those who did not.

So just what are these C-worthy strategies that can steer your hotel on that prosperous voyage? There are seven of them that will allow you to paddle like a fiend. So grab your two oars and start rowing.

1. Cost

Over the past decade or so, there has been a fundamental shift in how consumers define the cost of buying. It used to be that cost meant dollars, but in today's highly paced societies, cost is also measured in terms of time. Or as a popular axiom says, Time is money. So here is where another "C" enters the equation – convenience. How can you make it easier for your guests to spend time and money with you? It may mean thinking outside the proverbial business box to partner with area businesses to offer additional services that compliment what your hotel offers. It may also mean making it easier for guests to help support a charitable organization for people who may be experiencing challenges – i.e. sending cards or care packages to service men and women serving overseas. In other words, look for ways in which you can position your business as a "go-to" concierge convenience center for customers.

2. Customization

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.