We spend all our time helping hotels and resorts with their marketing and that includes working with some very talented and successful DOSMs. During the course of our collaboration, a number of common traits have emerged among the most effective DOSMs we work with…
Based on our working experience with these highly effective hotel DOSMs, here are the 10 things we recommend to all DOSMs seeking better results in 2019:
Always remember that no matter how smart your hotel sales and marketing tactics may be, they will only go so far if guests are given an inferior product and experience at your hotel. Or, as one genius executive said: "Advertising is the tax for an unremarkable product." In the age of Tripadvisor, Google reviews, etc., this is the kiss of death, and will perpetually haunt your efforts until the problems at the property are resolved, whether it's a physical condition, the F&B, or the service levels that are dragging you down.
Keep that in mind this year when the inevitable conversation arises with ownership about investing in property improvements and upgrades.
The best DOSMs are fearless and vigilant about holding ownership accountable for product quality.
But don't expect checkbooks to open from your own personal desires. Instead, keep records of what your guest review/sentiment monitoring has revealed over the last year and present an annual report to ownership that details recommended renovations based on these findings.
The greatest marketers in the world know that a primary key to success is to constantly convey ONE MESSAGE over and over again to targeted consumers. Similarly, at the root of all great hotel marketing is a deep understanding of the respective hotel's unique value proposition (UVP), or simply, its story. Communicating that story—rooted in the specific truthful aspects that make your hotel unique in its market—should be a key focus across all marketing channels, as the prime reason travelers should choose to stay in your property.
That means you'll need to understand your target audiences, recognize which assets and personal storylines at your hotel that they'll be most interested in hearing about, and visualize how those elements combine to offer an experience that's clearly unique compared to your competitors.
Meaningful metrics and KPIs are essential tools in the arsenals of smart hotel marketers, and knowing the real marketing cost per booking (MCPB) for each of your hotel's channels and segments are one of those core calculations. Understanding the MCPBs at your property is mandatory for three reasons:
1. With ADRs and occupancy at all-time highs, the cost of guest acquisition may be the only avenue left for hoteliers to increase profitability
2. Planning where to invest marketing dollars in the future requires a clear understanding of ROI
3. Showing a year-over-year reduction in the MCPB demonstrates your value to ownership
"It's crucial to refocus efforts in the direction of profitability, rather than just top-line revenue growth or index growth, which sometimes can be misleading measures of success," According to Jennifer Hill at Kalibri Labs, a leader in hotel benchmarking and reporting systems and analysis that recently published a widely respected special report, "Demystifying The Digital Marketplace."
"If you're growing top-line revenue like crazy—but you're spending a lot to do it—then you're ultimately less successful in contributing to overall profits. Not an optimal strategy."
And most important of all… remember to pay close attention to your OTA costs per booking when performing this analysis, so you can then compare the MCPB from your paid advertising channels against your OTA costs. You may be surprised to find what that those third-party conversions are really painful: With fees ranging from 15% to 30%, OTA costs typically surpass all other marketing channels. These fees are hidden, however, since hotels usually receive a net rate after the OTA's commission.
Savvy DOSMs memorialize an annual sales budget (and quota for each team member), then scrutinize the variance of results vs budget at regular intervals with the entire team.
In these meetings, review top opportunities, get a no- B.S. status on critical deals and determine actions each salesperson can take to edge closer to winning that piece of business.
Achieving budgeted sales goals also requires an intimate knowledge of an arithmetic-based sales "funnel." The most successful DOSM's know how many leads, opportunities and deals they need to meet their promised objective (and earn their bonus)!!
Do you know your conversion percentages from lead to opportunity? How many leads does it take to generate a proposal? Or how long the average deal takes to close?
Without these KPI trail markers, you will struggle on your way to the top.
Smart DOSMs love getting out from behind their desks and meeting real live guests! Sometimes there's just no replacement for human, face-to-face contact
These are the people that matter the most to your brand, so start a conversation and see how things are going. Chat with guests in the lobby or walk your meeting spaces and chat with attendees during their downtime. Ask what could make their stay or meeting experience even better.
Discover what really matters to them.
Jot down and collect their responses and use that as inspiration to drive your sales and marketing efforts. All of this intelligence can be used to attract more transient bookings or group business in the future. And don't forget to talk to your call center reservations team, these folks remain a vital link in the booking and communications chain and are a near boundless source of guest information and insight.
Being a good listener extends to online "social listening" as well.
Today, smart DOSMs are practicing "social listening" to accomplish real business goals.
They have made it a priority to allocate resources to actively monitor and respond to guest sentiment and behavior on social media, eyeing opportunities to resolve guest issues, but also, to go above and beyond and delight customers with amazing service.
Personalization became mainstream in 2018.
Hotel marketers up and down the chain scale have more customer data than ever and they've started making darn good use of it. Fundamental personalization techniques for serious hotel marketers now include:
• Segmented email promos based on past purchase behavior
• On-the-fly dynamic pricing via RMS systems like Rainmaker based on multiple variables
• Personalized responses (from a human) to reviews, UGC and social media posts
• DRIP email campaigns to meeting planners based on past event history
• Dynamic personalization of content of hotel website design based on visitor behavior/demographics
• Promos inside the apps of major chains and soft brands based on demographic and behavioral triggers
• On-property/in-stay promo offers and messages based on past purchase behavior in the PMS
• Localized F&B promos in targeted advertising to viewers in the geo-region as the property
The most successful DOSMs confer with their revenue manager almost every day. Filling sporadic gaps in demand requires forethought and careful planning. That's why successful hotel marketers always make a point to check-in with their revenue management team, far in advance, to identify upcoming, cyclical and ongoing periods of weakness.
Break down the walls dividing the marketing, sales, and revenue management departments.
Just like your top sales opportunities, you also need to stay on top of your hotel's pace reports, upcoming low periods, performance vs. budget and the strategies to drive more revenue from ancillary products. The days of sales and marketing departments operating in separate silos from revenue management are firmly over. Check out this brief article on how to connect all the departments that affect your property's revenue.
One of your most effective hotel marketing tools may not be to highlight what's INSIDE your hotel, but rather, what's OUTSIDE your property. With travelers now more than ever seeking unique, authentic local experiences, smart hotel marketers are seeking out what's cool, memorable and unique in their market, and then making their hotel the center of that experience.
Start by posting rich destination content on your hotel's website and social media, including blog posts, travel tips, staff picks and "insider" information, targeting the guests and groups who will be most interested in these offerings. And remember, meeting planners LOVE unique experiences too!
Talk to your staff, read your local newspapers (especially the alternative newsweeklies) and monitor local social media to learn about new hotspots. You can explore partnering with these local businesses, attractions and experiential providers, to devise special packages that you can then market to prospective guests.
Keeping a close eye on your comp set is Hotel Marketing 101, but this should go far beyond just viewing the numbers in your latest STR report. Smart hotel marketers make a concerted effort to glean real insight into the operations, culture, improvements, and promotions of competitors, through whatever means available.
There are many new tech tools to surveil the compset, but one of the most effective, yet often underutilized, methods is to follow the hotel social media accounts of competing properties. This will offer valuable insight on their latest promotions, their UVP, their campaigns, as well as a look into the latest guest reviews and feedback on the property. This will help with formulating competitive strategies while revealing more on the desires and preferences of your shared customer base.
Further, smart DOSMs should set aside a few hours each week to ready about industry trends and success stories, an often overlooked task that most DOSMs feel like they're too busy to do. Some of our favorite industry resources include Skift, Hotel News Now, and Hospitality Net.
Unfortunately for hotel DOSMs, the industry is drowning in metrics.
From "look-to-book," to unique visitors, to sentiment scores, to clicks…the list of stats goes on and on. With so much to measure, it's easy to get caught up in the wrong metrics.
Instead of leaning on metrics that only sound impressive on paper, highly effective DOSMs memorialize the most meaningful KPIs with ownership, then pay obsessive attention to the numbers that will actually measure their contribution to hotel revenues.
Every day, you should be checking the KPIs that actually matter to your hotel's owners and asset managers.
Savvy marketers are constantly evaluating their efforts, budgets, and staff in relation to budgeted business mix targets.
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Dave Spector is a Partner in Tambourine, a 34-year old marketing technology firm specializing in driving demand, revenue and direct website bookings for tourism and hospitality clients around the world. The firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale, New York City and Bogota. Prior to Tambourine, Dave was chief marketing officer for a global software company, managing an annual marketing budget of $15 million dollars across 17 countries. Earlier in his career, Dave was a founding member of two start-ups that eventually become thriving public companies whose current revenues today exceed $300 million dollars. Dave lives in Delray Beach with his wife and daughter who constantly remind him that he knows very little about anything!
Partner: Tambourine Hotel Marketing