Online Marketing The Tail Wagging the Dog
This might seem like a ridiculous thing to say for a company that spends so much time on Online Marketing, but please bear with us.
Over the years when sitting down with hotels to discuss marketing it generally starts with an embarassing silence, at which point the Online Marketing Expert jumps in and says 'why dont you try this new widget..../Adwords Remarketing/TripConnect/Pinterest/Instagram etc etc, and all the jargon of the day.
The bamboozled Hotel manager says ' Thats sounds good, give it a go!'.
But all Sales and Marketing can effectively be stripped back to these basics; A MESSAGE (ie What are you offering) and a MEANS (How are you getting it out there ie E Mail/Post Cards/NewsPapers etc).
He who sends out the most attractive 'MESSAGE' with the most efficient MEANS wins, and this basic tenent of Sales and Marketing has been the same since the Romans sold Chariots on the Appian Way.
However Online Marketing is really just the 'MEANS' part of getting the message out there, via Adwords or E Mail Marketing, or SMS etc. These people still need the MESSAGE, ie What does the hotel want to promote? Gift Vouchers in December?, Wedding Venue offers in January?, Romantic Breaks in February?, Family Easter Packages in March? etc etc. Only the hotel can really know what their core market is or what new markets they wish to target.
If the hotel does not provide the MESSAGE then what exactly are the Online Marketing people promoting with the MEANS at their disposal? The Tail is Wagging the Dog. These people (we) really should be used as the hotels 'monkeys' or 'goafers', we use the tools at our disposal to distribute the hotels MESSAGE. Employing endless amounts of wonderful technology without knowing what we want to use it to say is pointless.
In simple terms to get the maximum benefit from any Online Marketing effort the hotel really needs to know what markets they want to target when. Below is a sample plan (just a 3 month section). Ideally a Hotel would construct something like this, pass it on to the various marketing people INCLUDING the Online Marketing People and say' Get on with it!.
AND BY THE WAY - Good old fashioned Offline Marketing is NOT dead. Hotels get confused because they see so much of their business come through their website or Online Travel Agents, but very often this business is driven by OFFLINE marketing. Recently we constructed a website for a small hotel chain to sell one type of package (lets say 'Spa Packages'). In fact one particular hotel only in the group garnered the majority of the bookings, causing the management to wonder 'Is there something wrong with the website that it only favoured 1 hotel?'. After much debate and soul searching it transpired that Post Cards had been created for all the hotels to distribute, but only the one that had received most of the bookings had actually bothered putting them in the post).
This was a good example of a bit of old fashioned offline marketing generating online bookings.
Section of a Sample Hotel Online Marketing Plan