In the last two years, the economy has taken a severe toll on our industry and its resources. In the resulting scramble to stay afloat, many hotels turned to every marketing and operational technique they could uncover. Some of those techniques helped, some didn’t. Many hoteliers searched for that one unique tactic which would turn everything around; only to find that it doesn’t exist.
Experimentation is always expensive in terms of time and human resources. The simple fact is that the basic tactics of hotel sales and marketing still work. My impression is that, in recent years, many hoteliers have drifted away from the basics, in favor of new technology and the many unrealistic promises about the use of non-travel related social media. This type of social media has not yet made any impact for individual hotels.
Beginning in 2011 or sooner, I believe that we will see many hotels return to a more balanced marketing strategy. More hotels will return to the time-proven tactics of creating more personal contacts and a resolute effort to develop longer lasting business relationships. The climate is ripe for a return to customer relations management after several years of the de-personalization of relationships inherent with the Internet.
I believe that more hotels will begin prioritizing tactics within their marketing strategy to eliminate wasted efforts and maximize time spent on those things that actually produce business. The Internet and other forms of electronic marketing should supplement and enhance your property sales efforts, not replace it. I believe that the Internet can have a significant impact on a hotel’s marketing coverage and resultant revenue income, but it is not the only way to market a hotel.
Less Multi-Tasking, More Specialization During the economic crisis, many hotels were forced to eliminate, or simply not replace, some key positions, which forced the remaining staff to take-on additional tasks and responsibilities; multi-tasking has become the norm in many hotels. As the business climate improves, I see a growing trend to return to hiring sales specialists to create new contacts and build hotel sales.
There is a growing trend for hotels to out-source Internet and electronic marketing in order to free-up time and dollars to be re-directed toward the property sales effort. Outsourcing these tasks allows hotels to concentrate on their core marketing tactics to build long-term business the way we did before the Internet.
On the other hand, many more hotel site designers need to take-on full responsibility for the marketing and sales production of the websites they design. Hotel website designers who design a hotel website, publish it, and "forget it" need to rethink their positions. I believe that our industry will see many more productive sites if site designers begin to accept the responsibility for the reservation and sales results of the sites they design.
This will force website designers to build sites which produce sales and not simply design sites which look attractive, but are dysfunctional from a search and sales stand-point. More site designers are also beginning to realize that there is much more to marketing on the Internet than simply using search engine optimization. A relatively new term for hotels "Search Engine Marketing" needs to be adopted by site designers.
Search engine marketing includes destination marketing, which is so vital for search, creating online packages and promotions, using social media to build in-bound links, using online blogs, the application of site analytics results, and blast email mailings; all necessary to the search and sales success of a hotel website.
A Stronger Focus on Creating Profitable Revenue During the economic crisis, hotel revenue management experienced a resurgence of interest among hoteliers. The reduction in sales volume forced many hoteliers to "sell smarter", not just harder. Revenue management was created to build net income while maximizing occupancy through rate and inventory management.
Revenue management takes the focus off of just selling rooms to concentrating on building net income. Many of those hotels which drastically dropped their rates during the recession will find it extremely difficult to bring them back to more profitable levels as the recession recedes. Unfortunately, many of these hoteliers resorted to drastically reducing rates because they just didn’t know what else to do.
In 2011, it is my hope that more hotels will get on the revenue management band-wagon. There are many forms of RM and most of them will work to build income and reduce the tendency to leave revenue on the table, sell more rooms, but produce less profit.
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