To quote a famous fellow Irishman (he’s famous, I’m Irish) George Bernard Shaw, playwright, once said; “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Marketing has never been so necessary. A changed landscape means the need for a new plan, a new marketing plan.
When life is good and the tills are ringing, it’s all too easy to get lazy. Lazy people get unfit. Unfit people can’t run and when a storm blows we need to be able to sprint, be flexible and adapt to the new conditions.
This is not a note on recession; this is about marketing after a recession. There is a difference.
There are lots of excellent academic definitions but for me, marketing is simply the messages we use to create the desire to buy. Simple, nothing more.
However, hotels can be very good at marketing and poor at delivery. The contrary is true too. Many hotels provide a marvellous experience but sell their wares badly.
Success is balancing both equally, fairly and without over or understatement.
Cleverly crafted it will make you stand out from the crowd. Not careful crafted and you will still stand out for all the wrong reasons.
The Problem With Hotel Marketing
The problem with marketing in the world of hotels is quite simple. Great hoteliers are rarely great marketers. Why would they? It’s not their skill just as running hotels would have many a General Manager rolling around with laughter if a marketer attempted their craft.
Clever hoteliers spot the difference and recognise the need for expertise.
However, if the marketer’s skill is weaving a complex web, that is not to say that the hotelier can’t direct. They can, it’s simple, once they see everything as the guest sees it not as the operator.
That is the first flawed strategy when costs must be cut, amateurs become experts.
The trick is to stay with what you know, what you are good at and avoid the trap of amateur dramatics.
It’s All About The Experience
The role of a hotel leader is to create the experience. This is what makes you memorable. Marketing is everything you do before they arrive. If you concentrate on the experience, guests will return, talk about you and follow. That is your best form of marketing.
To illustrate, consider this;
A hotel is like a theatre. Every night when the lights go down the show is over another day is done. The next day, no matter what has gone before it, the show will have a new audience, often a first time audience, and today’s show must, at the very least, be better than the day before. The actors who will deliver the show are your people. If you do not invest in them in many ways you will have an average show. After all, what is the point of a beautiful comfortable cosy theatre with great sets, great seats and great lighting if the guys on stage have no idea what they are doing?
The hotelier’s job is to keep the actors acting and the audience smiling.
Marketing is all about your message. There is a great danger that hotels begin to talk jargon. An even bigger danger is that brands lose the run of themselves when writing. It should be simple, clear and easy to understand. If I don’t understand, I don’t go.In an ever more sophisticated market, people are not price conscious, they are value conscious. It’s not what it costs, it’s what I get. Nothing is more uninspiring than 2xDBB+1XYZ PPS PN all for only €99.99+VAT+SERVICE PP Subject to T&C Language, and how you use it, sets the tone and ought to set out your stall. Think of an advert that said; “Imagine a beautiful hotel. Imagine a woodland walk. Imagine family smiles by a roaring fire. Imagine great food and a great night’s sleep. Imagine no more, be there” Not perfect but more inspiring than you know what!
As William Bernbach, American Advertising Executive said; “nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make”
Big Boys And Little Brands
Small hotels cannot offer what big branded hotels do. They should not begin to try. They should develop difference. Both are relevant, both are necessary but both are different.
Our needs determine our mood and our needs and moods therefore determine our decision. At different times we will absolutely need and demand all the things the branded chains have to offer. On the other hand, the quirky little unique family run hotel may just be the most tantalizing little piece of heaven to help me escape the travails of life. This is the opportunity and this should be the focus, after all, it’s how every great brand started.
Who decides if your hotel thrives or fails? The customer, nobody else. Great marketing will attract me but it must be followed through by the experience. One has to match the other.
In those long lazy care free days money could solve many problems. Today, few businesses have that luxury. Today, social media, boards and a virtual world decide our fate. Research, messages and people power are like never before.
We know everything is in a constant state of change. A business is either growing or dying, it is never standing still. Even though we are acutely aware of change, the paradox is that we resist it. Years ago the proprietor was the judge of who came in, who stayed & who was excluded. Now, it is the customer & the circle has turned.
As the court records once recently reported - Convicted Criminal - "As God is my judge-I am innocent” - Judge - "He isn’t; I am, and you’re not"
Isn’t it time to review your marketing and your message?
Through a customer’s eyes perhaps?