There are certain basics which endure in spite of the advent of new technology. In this highly-competitive marketplace, new technology tends to capture everyone’s attention, perhaps with the desperate hope to discover some magic panacea which will solve all our problems. When you find it, please let me know.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of innovations to support hotel marketing efforts. My own business concentrates on Internet and electronic marketing, certainly an emerging technology. The conundrum is that we humans tend to latch on to new technology and decide that many of those tried and true basics no longer serve us well. After all, they are basic, by nature, and not as much fun.
I believe this is caused, at least in part, by the possibility that many of today’s sales and marketing people came into the business during the explosion of technology in the last ten to fifteen years and therefore, were never encouraged to learn the tried and true basics of hotel marketing. The basics may not be as exciting as the Internet, websites, blogs, and playing with social media, but here’s a news flash, the basics still work.
The Basics of Building Business Many experts agree that it is impossible to build business with new business alone. The cost of soliciting new business alone is huge. The big test is how well a hotel creates loyalty with its guests, to provide a base of business to build upon and determines how much business we keep.
Fifteen years ago, CRM, customer relations management, was the buzz through-out our industry. It was based upon the belief that, to build repeat business, we need to earn the loyalty of our customers by personalizing the travel experience. I believe that at least some of the new technology, we love, instead, tends to de-personalize the travel experience.
Prior to the mid 1990’s, we all had to converse with a human being in order to research and make a hotel reservation. The Internet has changed all that. It is no longer necessary to converse with a human being to research, plan, or make a reservation. I believe that we need to find new ways to re-create that contact.
It’s impossible to fill a bucket with sand if it has a great big hole in the bottom. To build business, it is necessary to fix the hole in your hotel’s bucket by creating customer loyalty. To do this, we must communicate with our guests, during and after their stay with us. For sales people, that means staying in touch with group clients, even after they leave your hotel.
The 80/20 Rule Still Applies This simple rule states that 80% of your business comes from 20% of all your clients. This rule may be a point or two different for your operation, but it is generally true. The way I see it, there is a real danger, in today’s electronic atmosphere, that time is being wasted by hoteliers who spend too much time and resources on areas which have too little business potential, even if their effort is successful.
In hotel sales and marketing, it is important to "fish where the fish are" to be successful. The hardest question in our industry is "where are the fish?". That answer should be based upon weighing the effort, necessary to capture business, against the potential results we can gain, if we are successful. The difficulty lies with the realization that most people concentrate on tasks which they enjoy most or are the easiest to do, instead of what is most productive.
Time is finite for everyone; often, the difference between success and failure depends upon how we spend that time. Hotel marketing today is very complex in its diversity. To avoid wasting time, hoteliers need to prioritize tasks based upon their potential results. Success depends upon how well you choose what you do every day, not how hard you work. Many people work hard and accomplish very little.
If you have the resources, use out-sourcing to help you discover new market sources; while you concentrate on your core business sources; experimentation is sometimes fun, but could be time-consuming and costly in terms of results.
Contacts Still Count The old axiom still applies; the more people you speak with, the more business you will book. Years ago, we measured how hard sales people worked by how often we had to order new business cards for them. Today, I constantly see hoteliers who don’t even bother to place a signature on their emails. I often wonder how many new contacts they make every day.
The need to create new contacts is not much of a secret; but for some people, it just isn’t natural or fun. Fun or not, it’s a necessary ingredient to improve sales. Some would have you believe that the need for direct contact and face-to-face selling has changed; I don’t believe that at all. Most people still prefer to do business with people they know.
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