Mar 6

How to Build a Championship Mix of Business for Hotels

By Jon Moore, President, Jon Moore & Associates, LLC and Adjunct Professor at the University of New Hampshire Hospitality Management Program

What can we learn from World Champion and future Hall of Famers like Bill Belichick and Theo Epstein?

Love them or hate them, you have to respect what Bill Belichick and Theo Epstein have accomplished in their amazing careers. They have taken perennial losing franchises and turned them into winners, using a variety of skills all leaders can learn from. For the purpose of this article I’d like to comment that their obsession with prepping their teams with attention to detail, use of data, and analyzing their competition is clearly part of their secret sauce. Both franchises were prepared to launch historic comebacks due to conditioning, in-game adjustments, and a willingness to be positive in the face of defeat.

How does this translate to the hotel business? As leaders, we must demand our teams assess and reexamine our business models, just as Belichick and Epstein tweaked theirs during championship drives.

Start with analyzing your current mix of rooms business. Assess what your optimal mix of business should look like. Challenge high volumes of expensive segments like OTAs. Determine if you have done enough to maximize volume from less expensive channels such as brand.com or metasearch sites.

Next, determine your current net mix of business. Deduct acquisition costs required to attract OTAs, group, BT, brand.com, GDS, direct, voice, metasearch sites, and more. Include your direct expenses such as sales and marketing costs, entertainment, advertising and promotion, loyalty programs, group, leisure, and commissions. Identify your acquisition cost per RN, by channel. This is a great opportunity for savings, since most hotels pay between 16-18% of their business in acquisition costs and many may pay as high as 25-35%!

You are ready to determine your optimal mix! What segments could you dial up or dial down? What are the real costs to bring in each segment?

Once you have determined your optimal mix, there are a myriad of actions you can take to increase incremental business. For now, let’s focus on the digital actions that will have some of the lowest acquisition costs.

1. Establish a robust search strategy – combine SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) into your action plan, with heavy emphasis on SEM. Metasearch sites such as TripAdvisor, Kayak, and Google can integrate personalization to deliver messages to consumers that speak to individual needs and aspirations.

2. Create content for the entire sales funnel – your message, photos, and videos should differ based on where the consumer is in the funnel. The average consumer searches on anywhere from 12-20 sites during their travel research journey, so you must be aggressive in bringing and keeping them on your site! All three of these sales funnel stages should be in play in unison to attract guests from all lead times.

a. Awareess Stage – content and key words should motivate shoppers! Videos should be inspirational and lead the consumer to dream about their trip to your area. Broader destination terms like “beach resort“ and “urban vacation” are in play.
b. Consideration Stage – the consumer has narrowed their research, and wants to know more about availability and activities in your market. Photos and video of area and property activities should continue to inspire and draw the customer research to your site.
c. Converion Stage – property photo and videos are a must! Three or more photos of every type of guest room is critical on your website. Location, pricing, deals, and value-adds will contribute to your conversions. A combination of branded and unbranded key words will keep your bookers coming direct to your website and away from more expensive third parties buying up your branded words.

3. Use retargeting in your digital strategy – less than 5% of visitors to your site will convert on the first search. Retargeting visitors allows you to put messages in front of potential customers who have demonstrated interest in your product.

4. Combine social/content presence – UGC (User-Generated Content) is what your customers want to see. They trust other guests more than brand messaging. Consumers base their decision greatly on what others say on your social sites, through their comments, photos, and videos.

5. Loyalty & advocacy stage customers are more than satisfied and become your raving fans!

Connecting your optimal mix with an aggressive SEO/SEM strategy will charge up your hotel. Like Belichick and Epstein, these types of “in game adjustments” are what creates a championship run. Knowing you can win no matter what obstacles you must overcome is what defines a winner!

About Jon Moore & Associates, LLC (JMA)
JMA is a collection of hospitality leaders specializing in Digital Marketing, Branding, and Revenue Performance. The team at Jon Moore & Associates, LLC has a proven track record of building demand through innovative and cutting edge strategies across the Americas. Through the expertise of JMA partners, we can help hotels content and win with innovative websites, optimization, search marketing, social and content management, and mobile technology. We can tie your direct sales strategy to your business positioning and messaging, reposition hotels, markets, and restaurants to compete effectively, and are skilled in developing pre-opening or renovation sales or marketing strategies. JMA is based in Andover, MA.

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