Most of my blogs thus far have been about using technology to improve NOI. The effective use of technology does make a difference, and I will continue to beat that drum.
However, you know the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”? Recently, a general manager at one of the hotels we operate jumped back to the future with some oldie but goodie marketing endeavors that really paid off. It reminded me that in this complex world you can’t just rely on technology to market your hotel and reach more new guests any more than you can serve only beer in the lounge, or only take reservations over the phone.
David Lewis is the GM at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Green River, Wyoming, a terrific property that routinely achieves SALT scores in the top 10% for the brand and more recently achieved “Top 5” status. David does an excellent job, but he had noticed that the marketing efforts just weren’t accomplishing the goals he had set for the hotel.
David and his team were working the social media, participating in brand marketing activities and paying close attention to effective pricing and experience packaging. Those plans just weren’t enough. The key was differentiation, but what could he and his team do to stand out to customers? He didn’t send another e-blast or deliver a logoed gift; he dressed up like cupid and made personal sales calls to local businesses on Valentine’s Day.
David won the hearts of 10 new customers thanks to his Valentine’s Day efforts. Why? Because he remembered that hospitality is a people business, and we buy from people we like. If someone came to your office dressed up as the Easter Bunny (oops, tipped off his April plans), wouldn’t you tear yourself away from your email long enough to go say hello? And, if you were in the market for whatever that person was offering, wouldn’t you want to reward that person with your business just because you admired their chutzpah, their creativity? Would you think of them the next time you needed to, say, host a party for your best customers?
Sure, David could have used his Facebook page, and given my enthusiasm for Internet marketing, it might have been a politically smart move on his part. But he decided, correctly so, that if he wanted to meet with the decision makers at area businesses, he needed to do something personal, something memorable. And who could ever forget this?
I’m pretty certain that Jaime Peterson from Exterran (left) told a few friends about what happened at work that day.
Marketing a hotel isn’t a matter of either/or — either you maximize the use of technology or you rely on face to face sales calls. It’s an AND/AND business. We use online booking channels AND a call center AND our own website AND e-blasts AND fam tours AND personal sales calls and social media marketing and … and … Add it all up, and you’ve got something special — like a GM willing to show his potential customers a little extra love.
There’s no limit to fun, creative ways to reach out to customers and put the personality into “personal service.” What’s going on at your hotels? How do you differentiate your experiences? How do you share the love?