Top 3 Hospitality Marketing & Sales Insights for 2014

In the past we set a goal to become hospitality marketing masters. We spent the year researching and exploring the needs of hospitality companies. We talked with leading businesses and experts about industry trends and best practices for marketing their brands and properties. We figured it was only fair that we share what we uncovered, so here you go, 3 actionable insights to help make this year your best year ever.
1. Focus on Local to Increase Net New Business

Most hospitality brands have the marketing and procedures in place to make their business units profitable which leaves low expectations for their individual locations to grow net new business. As we learned from working with some of the most successful hospitality companies in the world, this reactive business model can create a major missed opportunity.

Google-Plus-local-logo+ What are your General Manager’s (GM) and Directors of Sales’s (DOS) net new business expectations?
+ Do they have a plan for how they are going to meet those expectations?
+ Do you have visibility into the marketing activities for each of your individual properties?

Too many hospitality companies rely solely on their brand, their geographic location and their existing customer base to keep occupancy rates up. They fail to realize, however, that there is a huge lead generation opportunity in their own backyard with both corporate and leisure travelers. According to Max Starkov, a CEO and thought-leader in the hospitality space, “Branded hotels are overly brand-dependent: Major hotel brands are doing a good job of brand-building and online marketing at global and national levels, but simply do not have the bandwidth to cover regional, state and local markets or sufficiently address customer segments and feeder markets vital to the property.”

Look Local.

Changes in market conditions are forcing GMs and DOSs to incorporate more proactive go to market strategies instead of relying on the existing customer base. Unless you are the only hotel in town, start by asking yourself these questions:

+ What makes the property stand out from the competition?
+ Are there regional business relationships that the DOS could establish to drive business within the corporate traveler segment?
+ Does the property have the tools to identify, target and close new business with these corporate relationships?
+ Does the property have the procedures in place to nurture brand loyalty?

2. Return of Relationship Sales

Sales has always been a relationship role, and relationships are what create loyal customers. Simply stated, too many hospitality companies are relying on brand and location to drive business which, by itself, does not build consumer loyalty. Identifying the key players in the local market is step 1, and establishing a relationship with those prospects is step 2.

You’ve Got a Friend in the Hospitality Business

Consumers have more hospitality options than ever before. With all the advances in social and mobile, consumers choose brands they trust or that their friends recommend. They now expect a personalized experience and will choose the company that offers them one. Between hosting events, meeting planning and nightly hotel guests, the local market can be unpredictable which means your locations need to be top of mind when opportunities arise. Establishing relationships with your local prospects by staying in touch with relevant offers is key. Your individual locations need to be encouraged and given the right tools to foster those local relationships.

3. Balance Brand Control with Sales Autonomy

While you shouldn’t rely solely on your brand for sales; you can’t disregard it either. Maintaining brand integrity in communications is essential. The challenge with empowering your individual locations to increase personalized communications is that they could inadvertently create brand damaging materials.

A failed attempt to create marketing collateral using MS Word

A failed attempt to create branded, professional looking marketing collateral using Microsoft Word

This Fision sales sheet is brand compliant and has been personalized for a specific prospect—AT&T

This Fision sales sheet is brand compliant and has been personalized for a specific prospect—AT&T

The Future of the Rack Card
In the past, if an individual location needed campaign-specific marketing and sales materials, they had to submit a custom request to the central marketing team (which would take days/weeks to create). Then came FTP sites and Dropbox, which were faster and better, but still lacked personalization. Today, Marketing Asset Management (MAM) software can be a highly effective, easy-to-use solution that provides each location pre-approved, branded communications that are specific to their local market. The end result is a system that allows individual properties to send consumers a timely, personalized message via email, social, text or print—all in a brand compliant manner.

At their core these three hospitality insights can be accomplished by sending local consumers the right message, at the right time, through the right channel. If you didn’t already have a new years resolution you have one now—congrats! Now go get started.

What other tricks and tactics will you use to make 2014 a success? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Photo Credit: Google Local