The way consumers engage with brands changes constantly and it’s imperative that you keep up. Your marketing department will drive how your brand message is communicated and be key to fuelling your hotel’s growth. We look at how a marketing team should be performing to capture business from all markets.
Every wondered exactly what it is that your marketing department should be doing? A key part of the operation, your marketing department should be bursting with creative ideas, new strategies and delivering consistent and coherent brand messages to fuel your hotel’s growth.
At the heart of it all should be a strong leader and good communicator who knows the DNA of your hotel and its ethos. Once your team is set up, the hard work really begins. Keeping ahead of the trends and developments that come with marketing a complex hospitality business with many moving parts – from advancements in social media to working with vloggers and maintaining strong relationships with the media – is crucial to beating the competition. With the continued rise of the OTAs, your marketing team need to have the right appetite to lure consumers direct to your website and find new ways to poach guests online.
We speak to Rahul Katrak, managing director of Futura, a business growth, branding and marketing company to discover ways to ensure your marketing department is working at maximum capacity.
The key aims of a hotel’s marketing department should be five-fold. The first is for them to create a stunning and compelling brand that articulates their hotel’s uniqueness. They then need to identify and build a profile of the hotel’s ideal clients and most profitable market segments.
Subsequently, they need to create marketing strategies and campaigns that target these segments, which can be effectively monitored, measured and tweaked.
At the point of booking, they need to collect and interpret data that allows them to understand and cater to customer needs and preferences and receive feedback about their experience at the hotel. Lastly, they should aim to implement strategies that maximise the lifetime value and spend of a customer through encouraging repeat custom, referrals and up-selling new experiences to them.
A good marketing plan
A cohesive hotel marketing strategy should include reviews and listings in travel, style and even local neighbourhood blogs, PR features in travel and airline magazines, maximising the usage of booking engines, SEO for search terms which the booking engines are not targeting, social media marketing, email marketing and strategic partnerships.
Marketing should not stop at the point of booking. It is easier to woo a customer back, who has been delighted with their hotel experience, than to win over a new one and this can be done by providing an unparalleled customer experience.
Marketing should collect data as part of the booking process to understand the customers’ needs and then use this data to provide a bespoke and tailored experience for each stay.
It is imperative that a survey is collected after the customer’s stay to understand their experience and anticipate future hotel stay needs, to maximise any opportunities for repeat custom, referrals and up-selling new experiences to them.
Marketing within a portfolio
Whilst marketing across a hotel portfolio may create potential economies of scale, it is important that the target market and ideal client for each property is clearly defined and that marketing activity stays aligned with this, to create ROI for each hotel in a group.
Assuming that each property in a group has a distinctive character, range of facilities and ambience, it is important to have websites, brand collateral, social media channels and marketing campaigns that evoke this uniqueness and which speak directly to specific and unique purchasing needs.
When groups invest in a single website presence, it is imperative that there is a sufficient depth of information, to convey each hotel’s uniqueness and range of facilities, as well as providing intuitive user journeys to convert leads to bookings and landing pages to support a range of marketing campaigns.A hotel that is part of a group has the potential to cross fertilise customers between properties and up-sell a variety of experiences and locations to customers that are seeking the new or that travel for business or pleasure to different parts of the world. Understanding their needs, travel plans and preferences is the key to successful up-sell marketing across a portfolio of hotels.
Working with a PR company
A PR company will only be able to add value if your hotel has a unique and differentiated experience that would make a compelling story. At a macro level this could be the design, furnishings and brand thinking behind your hotel at the time of launch, at a micro level it could be a highly differentiated menu, appointment of a renowned chef or a unique spa experience.
Ideally the marketing personnel should ensure that the engaged PR company commits to tangible deliverables and that they work in conjunction with the hotel’s marketing agency, so that any PR achieved supports other marketing activities like SEO and allows for the collection of data to market to prospective guests in the future.
PR is only one of an arsenal of marketing activities that a hotel should be investing in and PR budgets should never be all-consuming at the expense of other forms or marketing that may be able to deliver a higher ROI. Hotel marketing departments can reduce (or eliminate) PR spend by working with bloggers and influencers on stories and experiences that can help promote and market the hotel.
Using data to your advantage
Having significant amounts of data allows hotels to spot trends, make predictions, anticipate guest needs, glean feedback and enable better decision-making.
Data allows hotel to identify what they do best and market those strengths more powerfully. If a hotel knows that most people come to it because of its location as opposed to its amenities, they can heavily market that feature to maximise their appeal.
Data also offers hotel the scope to predict revenue curves. Hotels that accurately predict demand for rooms can tweak their pricing and maximise profitability. They will understand when to lower rates just enough so that they optimise occupancy at the highest possible price. Presently, most hotels do this manually, but analysing data for hotels presents the chance to introduce precision to this process.
The third use of hotel data is providing huge scope to anticipate guest needs and provide a bespoke experience that meets those needs swiftly – extremely important for boutique hotels.
Using data allows hotels to segment this information and understand the sorts of guests coming through their doors (i.e. business people, big restaurant spenders, families) helps hotels know what they should be offering more of and where to focus their marketing efforts.
For instance, if the majority of guests are professionals staying one or two days for business meetings, marketing family-friendliness isn’t very effective. Promoting strong wi-fi, conference rooms, or complimentary newspapers and business centre services will enhance the customer experience and the retention of those guests.