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Your Anti-Slow Season Serum

Here are the steps you can take to ensure you are keeping your hotel full year round.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Joy Gendusa
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If you are an owner or manager in the hospitality industry, you know that business is extremely seasonal. You may have a weekend during the summer booked months in advance, while a weekend in October still has too many vacancies for your comfort. These are the times when your revenue is not where you’d like it to be.

But even though many factors influence your business, when revenue is not high enough, it is a direct result of not having enough leads. This is good news because it’s something that you can take control of.

There are two things you need to control your revenue all year long: (1) An integrated marketing approach and (2) An organized marketing plan. Integration and organization can actually drive your marketing to a level where you no longer need to worry about “slow” seasons because you will be confident in the results that your marketing will generate.

Let’s take a closer look at these two factors:

1. Integration

When your marketing is integrated, it means that your marketing is conducted through a variety of channels that work together to produce results that are more effective as a combined effort than disconnected pieces.

For example, an integrated approach could look like this: You have a direct mail campaign that drives traffic to your website. Your website has been optimized to guide visitors to do a specific activity, such as filling out a form with their contact information in exchange for an informative article on travel. Your website has also been branded to have a look and feel that matches the design of your postcards. The contact information captured on your website populates an email database to which you send predetermined emails for a period of six months. At the same time, your sales team also follows up with your prospects over the phone.

This may sound like a lot, but it’s a good example of how marketing is much more than simply sending a direct mail piece to a mailing list. You can target your exact audience with a specific mailing list and contact these people several times in order to really engage them and get the sale. Your integrated approach should also be customized to your specific business model for an even more tailored marketing campaign.

How to Integrate:

Your integrated marketing plan relies on the following systems being in place:

Lead generation
  • Direct mail postcards are a great and cost-effective way to generate new leads.
  • You can also use television, radio, billboards, letters and more.
Lead reception
  • Your website needs to be optimized for marketing purposes. That means you need to create forms on your website that capture contact information and feed that information to your email database. It also means there has to be a good reason for that prospect to fill out that form. The term optimization simply means “the act of rendering optimal”. Optimal means “Most favorable or desirable; optimum” So optimizing your website for marketing means that every aspect of it compels the visitor to do something or leads them to take action – whatever that action may be that leads to the sale.
  • Your receptionist, or whoever answers your phone, needs to have a predetermined way of taking down the contact information of all new callers, without fail.
  • These are the keys to receiving leads: your receptionist and your website. It’s easy to overlook these as the gatekeepers to your results, so make sure that you don’t.

  • Email is the most affordable way to follow up with leads. There are many services available to help you manage a series of follow-up emails.
  • Direct mail postcards are also effective in following up with prospects.
  • Phone calls can be used to reach out to prospects as well.

There’s not enough space here to go into detail on each of these steps here, but by searching online for the keywords I’ve laid out, you’ll be able to find more specifics on how to execute each of them. This is a lot of information out there, and I highly encourage you to keep learning. Everything I learned about marketing, I learned from doing research online and applying it in my own business to see what worked.

2. Organization

It’s one thing to integrate your marketing plan. It’s another thing to be organized about it. While some pieces may fit together well, you need to be fully organized and answer important “big picture” questions to make sure that your marketing plan has been organized to generate maximum revenue.

Though it may seem obvious, each decision about your marketing plan must be intentional, not haphazard. You need to know exactly how each integrated piece is going to work together. Then if your marketing machine ever needs tuning, you know exactly which pieces to examine and fix.

For example, how many days will pass before an online prospect gets their first email from you? Does the design of your postcard match the design of your website, or will the prospect think they are in the wrong place when they get there? How long will you wait before calling a prospect?

These kind of questions need to be answered in advance, before you put everything into motion. It’s not as effective to set up systems if you don’t really know how they are going to work together.

The best way to approach this is to sit down and go over the following questions. If you have a business partner or marketing team, include them in this exercise. Start with lead generation and work all the way through the process to the sale.

Ask yourself the questions below, and add questions to the list as they come up in your mind.

  1. How am I going to generate leads?
  2. How am I going to receive these leads?
  3. When they call or visit my website, will they know they have reached the right place?
  4. How am I going to get prospects’ contact information?
  5. How am I going to follow up with leads?
  6. Is there more than one way I should be following up?
  7. How are my different follow-up methods going to work together?
  8. How often should I contact my leads?
  9. How long should I actively pursue leads?
  10. Once someone has booked a room, do I want to create a separate campaign to generate repeat business and have them return?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you will be able to organize your marketing plan in a way that makes the most sense for your hospitality business. The next step is to implement it!

As you do, look for a pattern to emerge in your revenue numbers based on your marketing output. When you isolate this pattern, you’ll have the key to controlling your revenue and the confidence to effectively overcome slow seasons, simply by adjusting your marketing quantity.

This won’t change the fact that the hospitality industry has busy and slow seasons, but it will allow you to take control of your fate when revenue lags, knowing that your marketing will still produce leads and you will still make money.
Joy Gendusa    Joy Gendusa
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division

Bio: Joy Gendusa is the owner and CEO of direct mail marketing firm, PostcardMania. Joy began PostcardMania in 1998, with nothing but a phone and a computer, never taking a dime of investment capital. Joy originally started PostcardMania as a full-service postcard marketing company helping clients create turn-key marketing campaigns with graphic design, printing, mailing list acquisition and mailing services. Since then, PostcardMania has expanded to offer its clients more services including ...
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