Hotel Marketing Apathy: The Hidden Cost Of Doing Nothing

A dangerous trend is creeping its way into the hallways of hotels and resorts throughout the country. 

Hotel marketing teams, overburdened with small staffs and growing responsibilities, are resorting to the old, seemingly harmless adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

In-house management teams are getting overwhelmed with change, especially the rapidly growing list of hotel tools and trends crowding the market. In addition to becoming weary and lethargic, one popular way to cope has been to avoid the changes altogether and remain content to market their properties “the way we’ve always done.”

However, it’s thinking like this that is leaving hotel ROI on the table. While doing the same thing (or even nothing) is the path of least resistance, it can easily become the road to ruin. 

Keeping Up With The Status Quo: Disaster

Nothing can kill a hotel faster than a resistance to change and improvement. Some hotel marketers are afraid of what might happen if they try something new. Will they alienate their existing hotel guests and clients? Will another hotel do it better? How much more work will this mean for their staff? While no one has all the answers, it’s actually hesitation that can be most fatal to the bottom line. 

“Your hotel will stagnate,” said Patrick Goddard, president and CEO of Trust Hospitality, a hotel management firm based in Florida. “You’ll lose loyalty and, eventually, market share.”

Jamie Adams, vice president of asset management at The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager in Washington D.C., agrees. 

“Market share is so vital and we won’t gain if we’re not constantly figuring out how to do it better,” he said. Adams stresses that in the age of daily developments in technology, you have to remain flexible, agile and on your toes. 

“You’re either moving forward or backwards. The real danger is if you fall behind.”

Fighting Complacency 

The reality is that none of us will ever be doing as well as we should be. There will always be room for your hotel to improve its marketing campaigns and make them even more effective in capturing your audience. 

Adams and Goddard offered advice to both hotel owners and hotel management teams. 

“It all starts with a strong brand DNA that is well communicated across all stakeholders: Agency, owners, corporate team,” said Goddard. “When you have this in place, developing both passive and active marketing tactics come easy.”

“You’re only limited to the creativity of your team.”

Adams suggests hotel owners check in regularly with their in-house team (he opts for a weekly call to his hotels) to push for fresh and relevant marketing concepts. 

“At all of our hotels, we are pushing to find value in every nook and cranny. I want our team to be focused on it every second of the day.”

Moving Forward

Getting too comfortable with ‘business as usual’ will eventually yield diminishing returns. Your competition will get smarter, new hotels will enter your market, and suddenly the same rules won’t apply anymore. 

Goddard believes avoiding marketing apathy at your hotel depends on making innovation and creativity company standards. 

“If your hotel doesn’t believe in innovation, then you won’t have innovative people working for you,” he said. “Innovation is part of our DNA – we hire people and agencies that believe that innovation is important to dominate the market.

“People who get complacent don’t belong here.”

I am offering another tailored piece of advice to keep hotel marketing teams moving forward. 

Most hotel management teams are understaffed and can’t keep up with all the new evolving channels of business being pushed at them.

Our advice: if you do nothing else this year, make sure you have a revenue projection by channel (i.e., OTAs, direct, corporate, etc). Measure your results every quarter and invest the time and resources to fortify underperforming channels.

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3 comments about "Hotel Marketing Apathy: The Hidden Cost Of Doing Nothing".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , April 28, 2014 at 10:37 a.m.
    I have yet to see marketing and preparation for a growing area. 2 people sharing a room who are not in a relationship and do not share a bed. Growing boomer market, especially for women. Not a bad idea to grow a male market either. There are so many people who will not go anywhere alone and their spouse/partner will not/does not want to go and there are a huge single market without a significant plus parent-child trips. This is bigger than nooks and crannies. 2 single beds with the night table in between. Not a lot of extra work for a lot of extra rooms sold. It is an audience that the bed and breakfast category seems to loathe.
  2. Ann Mcdowell from McDowell Consulting , April 28, 2014 at 10:50 a.m.
    Great article that can be applied to any hospitality category -- attractions, DMO's and more. Would just change one detail of your final advice. Sometimes the biggest opportunities are about enhancing the good performing channels, not fortifying the underperformers.
  3. Stacy Graiko from Firefly Millward Brown , April 28, 2014 at 11:56 a.m.
    And then there is the Starwood example, who tapped into a growing need for traveler well-being by committing significant resources to creating an experience for hotel guests, aka the Westin Wellbeing Movement: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140320005098/en/Westin-Hotels-Invites-Travelers-Discover-World-Well-Being#.U155kseSBEE. Any discussion of innovation in the hotel industry should include this example.