Creating your hotel marketing strategy doesn’t have to be a headache. Similar to other businesses, there are five primary areas you have to focus on, but make sure that you address the unique challenges and opportunities of your hotel. Those primary areas, as outlined below, are: Situation Analysis, Marketing Mix, Financials, and Controls.
1) Situation Analysis
In your situation analysis, you’ll have to examine the market needs, the market trends, your own hotel’s mission, and your competition. Simply put this means: Who exactly are you catering to, and without fanfare, how do you intend to cater to their needs, above the capacity of any comparable establishments? For example, are you setting out to establish a 5 star luxury hotel for corporate visitors or a hostel for the 20 something crowd? If the latter, are your facilities geared for that demographic? Are there other hostels in the area? Once you’ve dealt with these big picture questions, it’s time to dig deep and answer second tier questions. Simply mentioning the 7% overall growth in the travel industry from 2005 to 2009 is surface information, and while important to your plan, is just the tip of the iceberg. Increasing the complexity of your analysis will increase the comfort of both you and any investors. For example, if you’re setting up a hotel for corporate visitors, which industries have primary offices in the vicinity of your hotel? Examining the growth or decline of those industries, in addition to your own, in your hotel marketing strategy will show that you have your eye on the ball. The next major component of this section will be your SWOT analysis, a section that takes a hard and honest look at your hotel’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
2) Marketing Mix
The next section of your hotel marketing strategy highlights all of the mediums and techniques you intend to use in marketing your hotel and your budget for each. Do you plan to spend $8,000 on public relations, and $80,000 on advertising? How much will you allocate to your website development or internet marketing campaigns? This is the place to put those initiatives and their cost. Once you’ve reached this part of the planning stage, make sure that you’ve not forgotten the information you’ve laid out in the previous sections. All aspects of your marketing strategy must work together like a well-oiled machine. Too often, for instance, hotel entrepreneurs forget to take serious account of the target demographic they’ve clearly delineated in the Situation Analysis, when crafting the Marketing Mix section. Mistakes like this can result in large portions of your budget being tossed into the abyss without significant (or any) Return on Investment (ROI). Take for example the hotel targeted to the business traveler. Allocating a percentage of your marketing budget to Facebook advertising (that might be a great idea for a hostel, or hotel in a spring break destination) could be a huge gaff if research shows that the average business traveler is an executive in their early 50’s, yet 78% of Facebook users are under the age of 34.
The financial section of your marketing strategy will mirror many of the financials laid out in your general hotel business plan. This section should make sure to go into much greater detail about your total sales and marketing costs, however, and should discuss the relationship between your strategies/tactics and expenses.
Who is the person or people in charge of making sure your marketing is a success? What are your contingency plans in case of unforeseen circumstances or new competition? This is the section to answer those and similar questions. Now that you’ve addressed some of the major questions, it is time for you to kick your marketing into high gear with a clear and well thought out marketing strategy.