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 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.