The Impact of Recession Marketing: Getting Creative With Less

By Didi Lutz President, Didi Lutz PR | May 06, 2010

With trying to keep your hotel afloat and operating during a downturn, it is important you don't panic about what's ahead. This is the time to invest in a fast action marketing plan to help you plow through the recession we are facing, and the key is to invest wisely in those areas that will get you the most exposure, branding and outreach.

Below are some tactics to keep in mind as you create your recession-proof marketing plan. First of all examine all your options:

Advertising.

Does it make sense to create a very bold campaign for the year to make a strong statement and stand out from competition? Are you a new property that really needs to brand itself in the marketplace? Are you an older property that's just slipping off the public's mind? Maybe you just aren't sure. Whatever the case, it is important to know that in order for this tactic to work, it has to be properly run. You can't run an ad once or twice and expect results. Either invest six-twelve-eighteen months on an ad campaign (depending on the message you want to send out) or keep the money for something else.

Direct Mail and E-Blasts.

An old tactic, but a classic one that still yields results if strategized. If you have a loyal customer base, it makes sense to keep in touch with them through direct mail every two or three months, with a simple offer, a complimentary appetizer, or a free upgrade. While mailing costs get higher every year, I still know a lot of people who love opening their snail mail and finding an invitation from their favorite hotel, who remembered their birthday with a 20% off certificate on their next stay.

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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.