Maximizing Press that Aligns with Sales and Marketing Objectives

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

If PR does not enhance any other outreach effort in the hotel then it is not on target. Period.

So many times I have heard from clients that previous pr campaigns have totally missed the mark on what the hotel was trying to accomplish, whether it was showcasing a renovation, introducing a new image, expanding audiences or recovering from a crisis.

Public relations campaigns can be damaging as much as they can be successful if they aren't planned to the last detail. By details, I don't necessarily mean holding countless of fruitless meetings that last for hours with the hotel management, but rather using time productively by taking what was said in a meeting to produce pure public relations results that will align with the overall objectives of the hotel.

I have put together some pointers and suggestions about creating a public relations plan that will prove to be successful!

  • Listen, listen, listen carefully. When in meetings with the hotel management, it is important to listen to the executive staff, in particular, to the General Manager and the Sales and Marketing department head. They will pose the "problem" that requires public relations assistance. Listen closely as they outline what the issues are according to them and put those comments into a communications/pr prospective.

  • Ask questions. Throughout my career, I have always believed that it is not about providing the right answers, but asking the right questions. This not only ensures that you're understanding what is being presented to you, but asking questions also engages the hotel management into a two-way line of communication. By asking questions, you can also find out what the hotel is looking to accomplish. For example, if the Sales and Marketing Director says, "Our goal in 2006 is to reach Generation X-ers because our research shows that it is a good fit for us." In response, ask an open-ended question that probes for more information: "How do you feel about reaching to this audience through lifestyle magazines that would appeal to them?"

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In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.