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Hoteliers Who Fail to Plan…Might as Well Plan to Fail at Marketing

What’s your strategy to keep your hotel or resort relevant?
Tim Trull, Chief Strategy Officer

We all know the adage about failing to plan is a strong predictor for failure, and in today’s hospitality industry it’s truer than ever.

Even a decade ago few would have predicted that home-sharing companies such as Airbnb would be nipping at the heels of established hotels and resorts across the country. Or that the desire for “authentic” homestays—and their use outside of skiing communities and other areas known traditionally for short-term rentals—would proliferate at lightning speed. This includes the rise of boutique hotels, bed-and-breakfast accommodations and other niche properties.

Yet here we are.

In 2019, and beyond, savvy hoteliers and their marketing partners know they need to plan to remain relevant despite encroachments on the hospitality industry.

It’s almost like when television went from a few broadcast networks to an ever-growing lineup of cable and digital options. The potential to execute a hotel marketing plan to reach the masses still exists. You just need to do it with highly focused content and a strategy that speaks to your best potential guests.

Hoteliers Who Fail to Plan…Might as Well Plan to Fail at Marketing

Pinpoint your target audience with precision

You’ve likely done market research to identify who stays at your hotel, or who might be likely to do so in the future. But how well do you know them?

Data which reveals that your average hotel guest falls within a specific age range or has obtained a minimum level of education is no longer enough. You need to get know your customers even better. What makes them tick? What do they enjoy? What type of experiences are they seeking? Which words move them when researching a hotel?

Put simply, it’s imperative for hotel owners to dig into the behaviors, needs and motivations of their desired guests above and beyond demographics. By finding the answers to these types of questions you’ll be prepared to provide alignment between the hospitality industry market and your hotel or resort offerings.

If you’re not equipped to do psychographic research in-house, consider partnering with a hospitality marketing agency or advertising firm, such as LAVIDGE. We can work with you to draft appropriate questions, identify vehicles to field a survey or to make sense of useful data buried in your customer relationship manager (CRM) and even within your Google Analytics account.

Keep in mind that regardless of whether you do psychographic research or demographic research, the process is similar. The methodology is just a little different. So, don’t be intimidated. The idea is to get you deeper insights and information so you can target potential guests with more direct relevance to their needs and motivations.

Analyze your current guest data

It’s important to mine existing guest information. Your CRM may already be full of great information about your current guests to drive a more personalized strategy and find look-alike guests who may be interested in experiencing your property.

Beyond where they’re from or who they are, dig into what they experienced at your property, what excursions they took, what restaurants they visited, etc. If you don’t currently have deep guest experience data, start gathering it today.

Play experience matchmaker for hotel and guests

Now that you know who your target hotel guest is, what they enjoy and how they behave, it’s time to meet their needs in one-to-one fashion. This means putting together meaningful connections between your customers’ needs and the hotel or resort experience you offer.

Develop a marketing strategy to guide each potential guest to the appropriate offerings which best meet their needs and motivations. Literally a one-to-one marketing approach.

Some customers, for example, might prefer the independence of having a kitchenette in their suite so they can prepare meals at their convenience.

Another hotel guest might prefer to be waited on by room service, have a bellhop carry their bags and expect their maid to offer turn-down service—complete with a nightly mint on their bed pillow.

Whatever their desire, potential guests will appreciate knowing everything they need (or want) will be at their fingertips and their stay will be customized to create a unique experience they will rave about to their family, colleagues and friends.

Be highly targeted with your marketing efforts

As mentioned earlier, it’s a new world for hospitality marketers. Just like the broadcast industry, finding your preferred audiences and aligning your offerings with those customers in a very personal way is the path of success.

Successful hoteliers and resort owners are consistently fine-tuning their marketing efforts and focusing on more niche guests with highly customized content and marketing vehicles that specifically reach those audiences.

Mass marketing is great for building awareness, but convincing potential guests to consider and ultimately book a stay is more personalized.

In short, get to know your current guests, dig below the service to understand what they really enjoy, align your experience with guest motivations and develop a marketing strategy to uniquely communicate the experience that makes your property unique.

Need help navigating the new world of hospitality?

LAVIDGE has hospitality industry planning and strategy expertise. We’ve worked on a variety of advertising, marketing and public relations campaigns for clients including JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, Enchantment and more. We can help you too.

To learn more, give us a call at 480.998.2600 or send email to [email protected].

Hospitality Research Strategy at a Glance


Now that you’ve read the full article, here’s a handy recap on how to plan successful marketing strategy based on research:

  • Know your current guests
  • Dig below the surface to get deeper insights on motivations/needs
  • Align your guest experience with their need
  • Develop a one-to-one marketing strategy that uniquely speaks to your desired guests
Source: Tim Trull, LAVIDGE  Managing Director, Strategy



2019 Southwest Hospitality Industry Marketing Report

Marketing Report Brochure

This article is a brief abstract of our exclusive and authoritative study that takes the guesswork out of hospitality advertising and marketing. Rather than speculating about what will drive consumers to action, we've asked them.

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