Key Items Owners And Managers Must Address During The Continued Economic Downturn

What can you do to keep your hotel performing well in this tough economy? Industry vet Steven Belmonte thinks it's time to get creative. Here's why.

By Steven Belmonte CEO, Vimana Franchise Systems LLC | September 25, 2011

It's a tough world out there right now and that cannot be denied. This rough and difficult economic climate has caused most hoteliers to write off the past few years in hopes that 2012 will be the year when it all turns around. Unfortunately, these are just pipe dreams and expectations like those are just too high. Instead of just enduring, hoteliers need to begin to find the tools in order to build a foundation to grow upon.

If you ask any industry assessment professional, most will agree that this current cycle will be much worse than the downward cycles of the early 1990's and early 2000's. The few that retain a small glimmer of hope mixed with capital resources are taking a step back to take a better look at what their business missions and future projections are. They are taking the safer road by waiting out the economic storm before moving forward with any developmental projects. When faced with a decrease with occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per room, there is little that needs to be done on the property level except to make sure to outperform your competition while containing costs. The issue is that many hotels will play the rate game and you will see this happening again even though history has proven that we are all together losers when this occurs and in actuality, this does very little to generate new business. Hoteliers needs to begin to focus on literally stealing more business by using value added services and product amenities. It is at this point where hoteliers need to accept and embrace the mantra, "out of chaos grows creativity" in order to make it through these difficult times. Here are a couple examples that hoteliers can use to maintain a status that is competitive:

• Create a solid presence in the world of social media to keep yourself ahead of the marketing curve

Having a presence on Facebook and Twitter shows the younger consumers that you are in the know about the modern technologies and communication tools. Hoteliers need to be promoting their properties and taking ownership of their local area by being known as the hotel of their city. For example, when a consumer searches your city's name on Facebook, your hotel's name should also show up. Remember that social media is FREE! So using it is a wonderful and inexpensive way to interact and reach out to your consumers.

• Create a buzz over your property by coming up with contests that will excite consumers

This can be easily done using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Not only will contests create buzz for your property but they will also help you gain a loyal following and fan-base on those sites. This is important because it helps provides your hotel with credibility and nowadays, everyone goes to the Internet to find hotels. As prizes, you can give away free night stays or if that seems like too much, even just giving out simple gift cards will do.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.