With the planning season approaching, the hunt for new strategic initiatives is in full swing; ways to better revenue and market position undoubtedly at the top of the list. Taking stock from a few of my clients, here are five tenets that have proven successful, and may be applicable to your own programs.
1. Embrace Your Local Constituency
Built on a verdant 220-acre property just outside of Los Angeles, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is dedicated to being a community leader. Their ‘Arts & Leisure’ program includes special events throughout the year, which emphasize the wellness-lifestyle standards of a five-diamond resort as well as a strong neighborhood orientation. The itinerary includes guest speaker luncheons with authors and film actors, tea tastings, movie screenings, art classes, and vintner dinners with guest chefs and wine tastings. In this way, the Inn helps bring together both guests and locals to events which may not have otherwise come to this small Californian town. On top of all this, profits from the events are donated to local charities.
2. Create an Event to Increase Property Profile
The Cranberry Resort is a lakefront vacation destination north of Toronto with an interesting predicament. One of their goals is to attract the business crowd, but there’s a nearby conference center many times their size. Moreover, none of the participating small to midsized companies can afford high caliber speakers on their own; they have to cluster at a large venue.
The solution is differentiation. The resort organizes yearly leadership symposiums for groups of companies, giving them full access to the resort’s amenities, F&B and golf course. Not only does this event yield modest profits, but it is quite literally the ultimate ‘sampling’ amongst key decision makers, and augers well for further corporate business.
3. Turbo-Charge an Existing Event
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is one of the longest running sporting events in the world. Held each year at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, the show attracts over two thousand dogs along with their trainers and handlers, as well as tens of thousands of fans. And located directly across the street from all this excitement is New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania.
Everyone at the hotel eagerly anticipates the event, and management has reciprocated their love with welcome dog treats, an onsite spa for dogs (Spaw!) and even a Doggie Concierge. With this sort of pampering and a location that can’t be beat, why would a dog and its owner want to stay anywhere else? As for the regular guests? They love the dogs, too! Every year, the hotel’s efforts turn into a bigger and bigger success. So ask yourself, are there any local events that your hotel could better cater to?
4. Segment Planning: Going Beyond FIT to ES
The recent global slowdown has hit the FIT segment hard, particularly in resort destinations. Windtower Lodge & Suites in Canmore, Alberta, solved this challenge admirably by reassessing their room inventory. Many of their suites include a full kitchen, living area and laundry facilities, so they concluded that the property was well-suited for long-term guests. Using their web site as a primary marketing tool, Windtower repositioned itself as able to handle both FIT and extended stays. Still in its infancy, the results from this new segmentation have already been exceptional.
5. Extending Your Brand Into All That You Do
COMO Hotels and Resorts operate eight luxury hotels throughout the world; locations ranging from downtown Bangkok and Parrot Cay in Turks & Caicos to the remote Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. All properties exude an aura of well-being and COMO applies this core philosophy to all facets of the organization, bringing a unique sense of balance to their business approach. For their guests, this is palpable upon entry.
And the same oasis of calm one feels while at one of their destinations is translated with perfection to their social media, electronic newsletters and printed material. It is this marriage of outstanding guest services with the subtler qualities of their marketing efforts, which bolster exceptional repeat stays and strong sales conversion rates.
Notice that these programs were creative solutions and they did not rely on a price discount to achieve success. Furthermore, each activity builds the property’s brand reputation; something especially important to help fight the commoditization of the hotel industry. In looking at your own marketing program, examine your property’s situation and features. See what guest benefits can be derived from talking about your key points of distinction in fresh, new ways. Then start talking about them. Now that’s marketing!
(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published on eHotelier on February 2, 2012)