I believe the foundation of a marketing plan is the marketing strategy, or as some people call it the positioning statement. These can take many forms and ours have evolved over the years. The one we are currently using has three components, which are presented below:
1. All Guests We Accommodate Must Leave Willing to Return -
and speaking to friends, family, acquaintances and business associates about the Best Western Mayan Inn Beachfront, in Daytona Beach as one of the best, if not the best, hotel values they ever received. We want them to feel it was a service value not just at check-in/out but also in area information, breakfast, recreation and courtesy calls. We want to insure that we have a physical facilities value in cleanliness, maintenance, room ambiance and in-room amenities. We will market to the two and three diamond market and give the guest, at least three diamond service and facilities.
2. Maximize Market Share in Historically Profitable Segments
This will be done by examining what has previously worked in marketing and improving on those; by marketing more aggressively to those same types of people (psychographically) in the places (demographically) where they have come from in the past. The registration card data base currently being established will be a key to this effort.
3. Find and Exploit New or Smaller Profitable Segments
This will be done in various ways. Among them will be using research and our data base to find and pursue niches in order to expand them and to convert them into mainstream business. If we're popular with bike week attendees during bike week, why aren't they staying with us all season and for other events and attractions? Are Disney cast members (employees) a potential market? They may have a disproportionate amount of weekdays off due to their busy weekends. Why shouldn't we be "their beach hotel"? The concept of "their hotel" will be tested on several potential market segments in order to enlarge the hotel's demand base.
A hotel's strategy development should include, to some degree, representatives from every department so that the staff takes ownership of the strategy. Employees, in more cases than you might imagine, know where guests are coming from, why and what they are doing while in the area. Capitalize on that knowledge.
Even more important, is making sure that all the staff is made aware of the strategy and the relevant details of its execution. For instance, part of a guest's perception of value is a friendly, service oriented staff. That means every employee passing a guest must make eye contact and greet the guest, hold doors, and generally be aggressively friendly.
Once the hotel's strategy is decided upon the hard work of turning the strategy into an action plan and budget begins. Based on financial and human resources sales tools need to be selected for each market segment and spread over a calendar. The timing of doing things relates to the both resources and the lead times needed to for timing the market. It probably wouldn't be appropriate for a north shore resort to start pushing ski packages in May for instance.
Sales tools that are generally overlooked include employee training, scripting, uniforms and landscaping. Tracking inquiries, actual room nights, geographic origins, modes of travel and, where applicable, coupon redemptions is critical to measuring the results of your strategy over the long run. Be religious in this and modify your spending based on this information so your dollars can be spent more efficiently each year.
The marketing strategy is an important part of the vision the owner and management have for growing the profitability and value of a hotel.