With budget planning just around the corner, it’s time for you to start thinking of how you are going to make this year different. Based on over 30 years experience helping various hotels around the world with their strategic planning needs, I believe that marketing is still an area for vast budgetary improvements. Here is my version of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ as a quick message for what to do and what to avoid during this sometimes turbulent process.
Pride: Do not ask the director of marketing to produce a multi-tabbed, hundred-page marketing manuscript. Rather, call for a document that is a useful working tool for the business. Define appropriate strategies for each segment of the marketplace, and once these are set, adhere to them for the entire year, modifying tactics as necessary and readdressing only if dire circumstances intervene.
Sloth: Make sure your team does their homework and reviews what worked and what did not work the previous year. Ask the question: how can we learn from my mistakes and not repeat them ever again? Strategically plan your advertising purchases. Don’t aim to just buy remnants, or “one-off” media on deep discount. Rather, work hard and strive to build a direct relationship with the audience based on generating frequency with a selected publication.
Wrath: Don’t overanalyze everything that’s done in the marketing department. Look at campaigns instead of individual ads or events. Listen and reflect rather than acting impulsively from a reactionary standpoint.
Greed: Don’t increase rates without justification. Your guests will know when greed has set in, and they won’t be impressed. On the flipside, don’t aggressively increase occupancy targets without prudent rationale. And above all, don’t illogically increase both rate and occupancy while at the same time reducing marketing funds.
Envy: Social media is here to stay. Don’t just pay lip service to social marketing, but embrace the concept by responding to customers and enhancing your B2C relationships. There are so many ways to stand out and make an exceptional impact via these online channels. Be original in your thinking and not just a copycat of other similar properties.
Lust: Once a budget is set, don’t create a “stretch budget” without rewarding the team which delivered that base budget plan. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, stick to the document you have and don’t overzealously fine-tune it while stalling execution. Focus on diligently marketing your property, directing your lust not at the budget itself, but at your property’s exceptional aspects and its quality of guest service.
Gluttony: It’s time to wean yourself off OTA activities and refocus on your own website, your supporters (travel agents, Facebook fans, etc.) and the strengths of your own franchise.