So you’ve built a brand new hotel. Now what?
The next challenge is getting the world to know about it so you can get that drum beat started to build your property’s business.
That’s the stage Founder, President and CEO of HotelWorks Development, Bob Zachariah is now actively involved in as he gets ready to launch his first Malana Hotels & Resorts next month in Cotulla, TX. We’ve already investigated the development of the brand in two previous articles available here where we talk about the fundamental cornerstones of the brand and here where we discuss the company’s techno edge to empower customers.
Now the property needs some marketing muscle behind it.
To Zachariah the first step he undertook was coming up with words that would be the essence of the brand and which could be used as a hook for marketing in ads and collateral material. Those words: Dream. Culture. Experience.
“These words send a message to guests, employees, the community, suppliers and more about what you are all about” said Zachariah explaining the dream for example can mean the dream of achievement for employees, the dream of the community for having a new hotel they can be proud of and for th3e guest who has the dream of embarking on a happy stay. “Culture is about assembling the umbrella to enable the experience while creating something positive for the community in helping them make money too.”
He said he is approaching sales in a similar manner. The most effective way to generate interest in the hotel is to become embedded within the community, Zachariah believes and believes the hotel should help be an agent of positive change for the neighborhood above and beyond opening a new building and employing some people.
His company has donate money to the Main Street Program in town which is a nonprofit set up with some city funding, fed and state grants and foundation donations to beautify the town.
“We want to help them as they set up a gas lamp like district. Every light will be switched to the old fashioned gas lamps as part of reimagining Cotulla,” said Zachariah. But that’s not all. Employees will be encouraged to volunteer in the community by having giving back tied to a portion of their bonus structure.
Zacahariah and his team also got involved in the Special Olympics and assisted as law enforcement, border patrol and Homeland Security folks carried the torch from county to county. Malana hosted a special lunch for 80 volunteers right in the middle of the hotel’s construction.
“We got the city involved and other businesses in area like gas stations and all of them became involved and it became a better event because of that and we got our name out too. When you give back to the community you will get it back. It is not automatic or expected but you will get it back. Ultimately you have to give money to the community because you have to provide and help because that is what being part of a community is about. Many hoteliers do not become a part of the town and that is an advantage,” said Zachariah, noting they have sponsored the town’s annual kayak race for several years as well.
Zachariah is also putting together a local sales force as he believe you have to have “boots on the ground” to achieve sales success. They started six months before the hotel’s scheduled opening next month to start filling that guest pipeline by visiting all sorts of towns and cities in Texas to introduce themselves and share the Malana story.
“I am an old fashioned believer that nothing is better than a personal one-on-one relationship you build with travel planners. We feel good we will get dividends from building those relationships,” said Zachariah.
He’s also advertising in traditional ways too with a pair of billboards approaching the town from the Austin side and Laredo side. He’s placing ads in key magazines such as “Shale Oil and Gas Business Magazine” which focuses on the TX oil and gas markets and other major campaigns in magazines relevant to his Cotulla, TX market. Malana will also appear on Expedia, Hotwire and other distribution channels and heightened emphasis will be placed on keyword advertising as well.
In all Zacahariah believes he has the right mix of marketing, giving back and creating word of mouth to help launch a hotel brand from the ground up. To learn more about Malana visit www.malanahotels.com.