MARKETING OF A HOTEL OR HOTEL CHAIN
FEATURES OF THE INDUSTRY
The hotel business is one of the most crucial sectors of the tourism industry, is exceedingly complex, and has a multitude of unique characteristics. The sheer number of hotels is indeed vast and is continually increasing. Attracting guests, satisfying their needs, garnering positive feedback and recommendations to others are becoming increasingly challenging. While the price factor still plays a significant role, it is no longer the sole determinant. Moreover, being caught in price competition makes it very hard to ensure necessary income and to renew the hotel's foundational assets. There's an understanding that it's essential to compete not on price, but on reputation and guest satisfaction, to create an atmosphere where guests are delighted and not overly concerned about the costs. How then can one compete in such conditions?
First and foremost, it is necessary to understand that the hotel business is very complex and has its peculiarities. Here are the main aspects that characterize the hotel services market and which need to be taken into account when building an effective marketing strategy for an individual hotel or hotel chain:
- Location. The location of a hotel is a key factor in its success. Hotels located in convenient and attractive locations near tourist attractions, city centers, or near business centers have a better chance of attracting guests. For hotels that are remote from popular tourist spots or business centers, being situated in an area with a developed transport network or organizing their own shuttle service can be an alternative.
- Client Requirements. Hotel guests have various requirements and expectations. Some look for luxury relaxation and are willing to pay a high price for a high level of service, while others are looking for budget-friendly hotels that satisfy just the basic needs. The list of potential requirements is quite extensive, and hotels need to find a balance between them – location, cost, food, comfort, leisure, services, security, privacy, transport infrastructure, eco-friendliness, accessibility for disabled individuals, and so on.
- Dependence on Reputation. A hotel's reputation plays a significant role in its success. Guest reviews, ratings on hotel booking websites, and social media can significantly influence the popularity of a hotel and its ability to attract new customers.
- Competition. The hotel business is very competitive. Hence, regardless of a hotel's location, there are likely to be other hotels or alternative accommodations competing for guests. Competition can influence prices, as well as the quality and range of services offered to attract customers.
- Seasonality. Many hotels operate in regions where tourism is subject to seasonal demand, meaning the demand for hotel services changes with the seasons. For instance, hotels in resort areas may have high demand in the summer but significantly less in the winter. In urban areas, demand may be more stable but can still vary with the seasons.
- Events and Business Activity. Large events such as business conferences, exhibitions, sports competitions, cultural festivals, concerts, etc., can lead to increased demand for hotel rooms in the corresponding location. Participants and visitors of such events seek accommodation, and hotels can leverage this demand to fill their rooms and secure higher profits.
- Service Diversification. Due to competition, some hotels broaden their range of services to attract more guests and increase their revenue. This may include offering restaurants, bars, conference halls, gaming, fitness centers, spa services, unique tourist routes, entertainment programs, mini-zoos, or other additional amenities.
- Innovations and Technologies. The hotel business actively employs new technologies and innovations to improve customer service. This includes implementing online booking systems, mobile apps for guests, and using artificial intelligence for personalized service offerings.
- International Tourism. The rise of international tourism presents new opportunities for hotels. Hotels can attract tourists from various countries and cultures, but must also be prepared to meet the diverse needs and requirements of guests from different nations. Conversely, the hotel business can be significantly affected by adverse global factors such as epidemics, political conflicts, or economic crises, which can dramatically alter the demand for hotels and tourist traffic in certain regions.
As we see, the hotel business truly depends on a wide array of factors that must be considered when building a marketing strategy. However, depending on the hotel's location, specialization, and target audiences, the impact of these factors will vary, leading to a diversity of possible marketing plans and tools that can be utilized for branding, positioning, and promoting an individual hotel.
SOME GENERAL STRATEGIES AND APPROACHES
As our experience shows, contemporary realities and competition require hotels to adopt a strategy of comprehensive brand development and multi-channel promotion of services. This entails creating a marketing plan based on the specific business conditions and circumstances of the hotel business that needs marketing support. Here are the main components of a comprehensive marketing strategy that are relevant for most hotels:
- Branding and Positioning. Establishing a unique brand, clear positioning, and identity is foundational for promoting a hotel. A recognized brand provides numerous advantages over competitors in terms of attracting new guests, retaining a current customer base, setting premium prices for services, and attracting more partners, among others.
- Advertising. Utilizing advertising channels such as television, radio, press, internet, social media, and outdoor advertising to draw the attention of potential customers. Special attention is paid to advertising in tourist publications, on internet tourism websites, or on social media.
- Online Marketing. Leveraging the internet and digital channels to promote the hotel, including creating a hotel website, landing pages, mobile apps, search engine optimization (SEO), and employing email marketing and social media to attract new customers.
- Collaboration with Opinion Leaders. Partnering with influential personalities, bloggers, tourism experts, or other authoritative figures to raise awareness about the hotel and its appeal to the target audience. Opinion leaders can publish reviews, recommendations, and photos of the hotel on their social media or blogs.
- Reputation Management. Using online reviews, ratings, and customer comments to build a positive reputation for the hotel, including active monitoring and responding to reviews, as well as developing positive relationships with customers.
- Joint Offers. Partnering with other businesses or organizations such as airlines, travel agencies, restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues to create joint packages or offers. This allows the hotel to attract new customers through joint advertising and integrated marketing.
- Loyalty Programs. Developing incentive programs for repeat customers that offer discounts, complimentary nights, privileges, or other benefits. This encourages customer retention and increases repeat bookings.
- Pricing Incentives. Setting competitive prices for rooms and hotel services, including the use of pricing differentiation strategies such as discounts for certain client groups, seasonal discounts, or special offers.
It is important to note that within the scope of one article, we cannot show all the pitfalls or demonstrate all the marketing methodologies and tools specific to the mentioned industry. These are just a few examples of quite general marketing approaches that can be applied to the hotel business. From a practical point of view, everything is much more complex - the choice of a specific marketing strategy and tools depends on the target audience, competitive environment, and unique advantages of the hotel, etc. At the same time, it is desirable to understand that hotel business marketing may face a number of specific problems that are unique to each individual case and require an individual approach to their solution.
Achieving the commercial objectives of a company through effective marketing requires a deep understanding of the market situation, consumer needs, the ability to analyze and explore alternatives, and a creative approach to problem-solving. Our company has extensive experience in defining optimal marketing strategies for our clients' businesses, creating a strong brand and market positioning, as well as developing a marketing mix and implementing the chosen strategy. You can familiarize yourself with the services and solutions our company offers on the "Services
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