Cultivate The “Wider Resources” Of Hospitality Sales & Marketing

By Mark Ricketts President & Chief Operating Officer, McNeill Hotels | June 03, 2018

Keeping the rooms of a hotel property fully occupied with guests that we serve well and from which we generate a reasonable profit is no easy task. It requires a sound operating model; a skilled and motivated staff at all levels of the organization; and lots of elbow grease, i.e. hard work. It also takes getting our name, as an individual property and as an organization or affiliated group of properties, out there loud and clear.

In the modern environment, we are perhaps somewhat spoiled in that the Internet, in particular, has proven be an outstanding commercial avenue for bringing guests to our doors. Numerous travel websites (OTAs), brand websites and our own individual websites do a great job of attracting guests, explaining our features and pricing, and motivating guests to stay with us.

That's not to say that making the best use of the Internet doesn't take a great deal of diligence on our part, substantial financial and staff resources, and technical expertise. We must ensure that our property websites are active, secure and appealing. We need to monitor closely our "storefront" on any website and respond professionally to ever-growing numbers of reviews and comments on formal hotel and travel websites, as well as social media, travel blogs and job websites. Staying alert to our Internet signature takes time and skill. These efforts must be supported through world-class revenue management and communications systems and well-trained reservations staff. A further discussion of the role of social media in many aspects of hospitality management, its positive aspects and its pitfalls, is best left to its own article.

Most importantly, a comprehensive sales and marketing approach will extend beyond these portals in order to attract additional revenue streams and user groups. These efforts can accomplish many things. They will enhance our brand awareness, locally and to broader audiences. They will help maintain strong occupancy and room rates as either corporate or family travel oscillates, as it always eventually does. They will help drive total room spend and supplemental income from a property through meetings, affiliate deals with local businesses, or food and beverage operations, as applicable.

In this article, we will review some approaches to a wider view of sales and marketing that goes beyond conventional advertising or having the rack at the local tourist bureau stocked full with our brochures. This strategy includes extending our relationships to our host community, building specialized user groups and understanding how to enhance the posture of our staff as brand ambassadors. In doing so, we will revisit some still useful strategies in our hospitality sales and marketing toolbox from simpler days, and perhaps suggest some new ones.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.