How to Market a Resort

 

How to Market a Resort

While we all try to avoid talking business during social dinners at the home of friends, it is evermore frequent that we get asked the most popular question: “What could I do to market my resort”, traditionally ending their sentence with “without spending a fortune to do so”.

 

While every scenario is different, we have decided to compile some very simple elements yet essential elements of an affective marketing plan for hotels and resorts.

 

As always, we will supply industry partners with more detailed plans or the with the support services needed to execute world-class marketing plans to expand your hotel and resort’s footprint.

 

1. Train and motivate your sales force. We have found that motivation can be as simple as awarding your sales person a Friday off for the closing a much needed group or incentive program, or telling them the more they close the more marketing dollars you throw behind helping them generate more leads. These can be:

a. Hire temporary support by contracting a telemarketing service while your sales people are traveling, working trade shows or operating group functions.

b. Design a tradeshow plan to secure more exposure for your sales team and therefore generate more leads. Most resorts don’t use a plan, their “plan” is to show up and to have material to give away, little is done to attract people to hotel and resort booths.

c. Make sure your sales team has ample face-time with their top clients, with so many competitors getting in front of your clients even if only online.

 

2. Email blast. Yes, email still works, but only if you do it correctly. Segment those clients who travel in a specific season by offering them perks for only those periods of time when they travel. Pay attention to guest moves across your website and when asked about specific information for your onsite spa or amenities, don’t send them emails about your snorkel excursion focus on creating a plan for what your customer wants. Personalization is key.

 

3. Use social media to stay in front of your meeting planners and customers. Before you start your social campaigns you must make a few decisions on which channels will best reach your specific target. You don’t have all the time in the world and your clients aren’t on all channels. See our other articles about social media specifics.

 

4. Search Engine Optimization. We have all heard this a million times, but it is a critical component if you are to generate leads. In the past companies executed key word analysis and then attempted to change things across your website to match those key words. See our other articles about SEO planning.

 

We hope this gives you a little insight into what is needed to market your resort. At Valorem Group, we help hotels sell, market and create the best content plans for their audience. There are affordable plans for resorts of all sizes and you can select one or all services.

If you would like to read more marketing plan tips and news, click onto https://valoremgroup.com/tips-news/

Contact Victor Bao at vbao@valoremgroup.com or call 786.546.2778.

Restoring Group & Incentive Markets in Today’s Business Environment.

 

Restoring Group and Incentive Fortunes in Today’s Business Environment.

For a little over four years we have watched many of our hotel and DMC partners focus on cost-cutting activities across their organizations in order to hold on to cash in uncertain times.  Cost cutting became the “new” old strategy used to reach their goals.

 

Since most General Managers and executives had not lived a recession of this magnitude, they quickly searched through their memory banks and latched onto a familiar strategy: cutting wherever possible.  Cut marketing, sales people, support staff and even c-level suite positions.  Marketing and sales staff worked in a permanent “triage” mode handling a multitude of tasks with as much speed and efficiency humanly possible.  This left teams in complete disarray and now executives must consider the Post Economic Stress Disorder (PESD) this recession and job cuts will cost them when they inevitably transition to a sales strategy for growth.

 

With this apparent shift from cost cutting to growth, the main question is whether executives should dive back into the familiar sales and marketing efforts in a new era, or do they reinvent the entire sales and marketing process.  Since no substantial thought was used to solve the economic woes of companies in 2008, I am fearful that no real brainpower will be used to reevaluate the sales process and marketing strategy for the years to come.  Some say “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, but it is broken and it is time to fix it.

 

That being said, I offer a few quick observations for hospitality leaders to consider before they move forward on growth plans and strategies.

 

  1. Consider the strength and weakness of your team. We must consider the traumatic experiences of living a long term recession battle will affect your growth plans.  An exhausted sales and marketing team characterized by little motivation, shock, anger, nervousness, fear, and even guilt, will negatively impact your plans for growth.

 

What’s the solution?  It’s time to rally your troops.  These crisis years have taken their toll on your team and they may not be ready to fight in the new battle ahead.  You must eliminate their nervousness, their guilt from having remained while their colleagues were let go, and remove their anxiety.  How?  Reinstate a training program, organize an effective retreat, involve them in change and reward them (using simple rewards) for their conscious efforts.

 

It’s also imperative to reevaluate the way you lead.  A good exercise is to make believe that you have just been hired to do your job.  What would you do differently?  Now go ahead and do it.  Past methods will not produce great results in the years to come so forget them and start anew.

 

2.  Break away from past year’s blueprints.  Yes, in order for you to transition from cutting costs to growth strategies you must reinvent the way you and your teams operate.  Start with candid conversations about what you have learned about your customers, your service and your real shortfalls as a hotel or DMC.

 

Your first plans should not be market plans, but plans on how to regain your footing with the new customer sentiment.  Don’t forget, you have gone through changes and so have your customers.

 

3.  Reevaluate your competitors.  Yes, you knew them, but lost track of them over these years while you were busy cutting costs.  Take a good look at their entire sales and marketing structure.  Are they less competitive because of a reduced staff?  Did they not cut back staffing at all?  Is their service worse or is it now better than yours?  Has their price point changed?

 

Take a careful look at your market share and see which competitor has walked out of this recent war with the most amounts of victories.  Understand your new situation before you start charting your course.

 

4.  Interview your clients.  Yes, it has been some time since you have engaged your clients and asked them what they would change about your hotel, its amenities and its service.  Know that customers have moved up and down the star rating line so analyze which ones moved from a 5 star property to your 4 star resort but without changing their deluxe expectations.

 

Consider changes in customer migration patterns as they moved around the U.S. searching for new jobs, relocating to affordable areas, etc.  Check the gender of your current consumer base. At one of our client properties we pulled a full data feed from customer check ins and discovered an increase in women as business travelers of 12% making them the dominant guest while all marketing plans still catered to men.  It is not time to step back, but to step forward with clarity.

 

5.  Plan differently.  Most plans are created in sync with the hotel’s fiscal year or calendar year to better understand the year’s budgetary needs.  This year you will need to develop an annual budget, but want short term gains from this long term planning.  It isn’t going to happen unless you change the way you create plans.

 

We suggest you not write a plan.  Write everything that your team believes will impact sales throughout the year on a long list.  Put these activities into a “backlog” of items.  Now that all items are listed, make sure that costs are associated with each activity along with a quick ROI figure (yes quick ROI).   Have your team tell you what they will take from the backlog list and execute during the next 30 days.  If one person decides they will go on a sales blitz to say New York City in the next 30 days, ask the rest of the team how they are going to help him make that trip as successful as possible.

 

Perhaps one person will help make appointments, the other will send an email to people in New York they have had contact with and one will set up a breakfast training at a high-end agency.  The key is to generate a tactical plan where the entire team is engaged in the attack.  No war was won without all elements of front line soldiers combined with back end services and support.

 

Our message is clear:  generate renewed energy to fight the battles to come and do this by motivating your team, changing the way you plan and lead, and understanding your new competitive set, market positioning and demographics.

 

Victor Bao is a Fellow of Valorem Consulting Group and a Professor of Marketing strategy at Florida International University and a Professor of Market Research at the University of Miami.

How to sell outbound group meeting and incentive travel

 

Improving your group and incentive sales

 

Improving your group and incentive sales to the U.S. Meeting Planner and Incentive Houses is as simple as it is difficult.  We have been the liaison between international hotels, their sales teams, and the U.S. Planner for nearly one quarter of a century and understand the gap between cultures, expectations and deliverables that impede effective sales efforts to outbound group and incentive programs from the United States.

 

Most sales people are always in continuous touch with their accounts, but we ask why then do they lose the business?  How much business are you losing without even being aware of the reasons why?

 

Here are a few pointers that may help you and your international hotel or resort.

 

  1. Acknowledge receipt of all Request For Proposals [RFPs].

 

I can’t tell you how many times meeting planners tell me that they don’t know if they should even expect a response because the hotel they sent the RFP to never even acknowledges the receipt of their RFP.

 

It is very commonplace for hotels that CANNOT accommodate the group because of date availability, size of group, lack of meeting space or inadequate function space to simply not respond to the Planner at all.  Not even a “courtesy email” thanking the planner for thinking of them and advising them that they cannot accommodate their request.  Communication, courtesy & hospitality should always be part of the sales process even if the hotel/resort cannot accept the group.

 

2.    Late responses. 

 

Let us start by saying that while a great many hotels already respond to RFPs in a timely manner, many do not and the General Management is unaware of this occurrence.  While we understand that hotel and resort sales people are very busy traveling, in long meetings, taking care of customer requests as well as the needs of General Managers and other Executive Committee members,  they must understand that the U.S. meeting planner is pressed by a variety of other requirements, including time. A standard response is a maximum of 48 hours and of course after acknowledging the receipt of the planner’s proposal.

 

3.    Incomplete & Unformatted RFP’s. 

 

In many cases sending an incomplete response in many cases is even worse than not responding.  It takes Planners time to read the partial replies only to have to make further requests that more often than not, go unanswered.  If a Meeting Planner requests information about meeting space specs, banquet menus, and for the hotel to complete a specific RFP questionnaire, the least the Sales Manager MUST do is to provide the full and accurate information, fill in the questionnaire, and return it within the specified 48 hours!  Planners will not consider a hotel’s standard proposal formats if they have sent you a specific questionnaire and your hotel will not be presented to their client.  Many planners use specialty software that scans these FORM responses and sorts them for simple and quick presentation to their clients.  Sales personnel may think they are providing the Planners with at least some of the details needed, yet they are not.

 

4.    Language and customs.

 

While many international hotels have been hiring English-speaking sales managers, there remain many idiosyncrasies and literal translations from Spanish, Portuguese, French or other languages that simply do not make sense in English.  It is very important that each hotel have a native English-speaking professional read through their current proposal templates for accuracy and clarity so that Meeting Planners do not have to decipher the offer being presented, often requesting clarification.  Planners are not ignorant, they are just confused by unclear English templates and different customs in countries where they may not be as well-versed as in the US.

 

Since the downturn in the economy, the ability for companies to plan and budget for a meeting or conference is left to a late priority.  The decisions on the venue are based on a series of factors:

 

  • Pricing
  • Convenience for attendees  

 

5.    Room to negotiate.

 

It is a common misconception among international hotels that there is always room to negotiate.  Many times hotels start off quoting rates that are way higher than the client’s stated budget, and/or they do not provide most of the concessions/value added items requested by the planners. Later,  upon follow up with the planner, they find out their property has been ruled out  because of some of the above reasons, when it is already too late!  Please, if your proposal is your “best offer”, by all means go ahead and present it, but if you know that you have room to negotiate, please be forthright and extend what you can offer from the beginning…don’t wait until it is too late and your property has been already ruled out to react!

 

Make sure your proposals, contracts and documents explain succinctly what you can and cannot offer.  We recently had a client contract with a property, plan all meals, activities, work on BEO’s, and two days before group check in found out that the hotel DID NOT accept credit cards for master account payments, only payments via wire transfer or personal/company checks.  Can you imagine?  To say the least, this situation certainly put the meeting planner in a pickle!  All because within the contract, it never stated that ONLY wire transfers or checks were accepted and that credit cards were not.

 

This article was written by Michelle Anseeuw- MBA, CMP, CHSP, Vice President Global Sales, Valorem Group.

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