Whatever business you are in, there is always somebody who wrecks it for the rest of us and gives everybody a bad name.
Yesterday, I got an e-mail from someone who is selling new-business coaching. He had what he said was a sure-fire way to get a better return on new-business approaches. It was an e-mail. One that went more or less like this:
"Dear _________, I haven't heard back from you in response to the e-mails I have sent and the voice messages I have left . . . " Well, that's as far as that has to go, right? I get those kinds of e-mails a lot and I have to be honest, I hate that I have to take the time to send a "no, thanks" e-mail to someone clearly too stupid to get the message that the fact that I haven't responded to any of their e-mails of voice messages just might mean I don't have any interest in having a conversation. But I just don't have the time to respond to everybody who sends me a note. But now, the only way to get them to stop is to mark it spam or (sigh) reply.
In a very real sense, I am answering them when I don't answer them. Look, we deal with the same thing in our new-business efforts. People don't respond to our outreach, We get it. We just don't feel the need to keep up an annoying assault.
Sorry for the long lead-in, but talking about that with Karen this morning, she commented that people who run bad e-mail programs ruin the tool for everybody else. Ain't it the truth.
Let's define bad e-mail programs. Choose as many of the following as you like and feel free to add your own. Too many, poorly done and hard to read, of little real value to anybody, keep coming even after you try to unsubscribe, irrelevant . . . I could go on, and so could you.
Point is, it's really a shame when someone pees in the pool and ruins everybody's afternoon. Here are some other examples:
Agencies that respond to RFPs that ask for spec work . . . with spec work.
Radio stations that produce radio spots on the cheap.
Television stations that produce television spots on the cheap.
Ad agencies that talk clients into self-indulgent creative that doesn't work.
Social media agencies focused on things like Facebook likes and numbers of Pinterest posts, regardless of whether or not that actually serves any real purpose for the client.
(And speaking of Facebook) companies that who clutter their Facebook page with specials and offers and give readers a whole bunch of no reason at all to stay interested.
I suppose I could go on. But I got it out of my system.
One reason budget development for hotels and resorts is often such
a headache is because of starting at the
wrong end. With tactics.
If you start with a list of tactics and assign costs next to
each one, you will almost always end up with more than you can afford. Do you
start with a list of "things to do" like advertising, PR, SEO, PPC
and so on and simply put a cost next to each one? Let's re-think that. Don't
just start with last year's tactics.
Start with goals and expectations instead. Be clear in your mind
what your goals and expectations are. Build occupancy? Increase rate? A little
bit of both? Or just maintain and not lose any ground?
We've put a thought-starter spreadsheet in the Thinking section
of our website that can help you determine a budget level – and you'll see how
having goals in mind can help you settle on what that budget figure ought to
be. This worksheet lets you play around with different revenue goals and budget
scenarios. The point is, have your goals and expectations and a budget
figure all lined up. Now you can think about tactics. But this way, you're
looking at which tactics will help you reach that goal the most
You still may find that they don't all fit within your budget.
But at least this way, you have some parameters with which to evaluate and prioritize those efforts and determine
which will bring you the best return. That's good. And one reason it is good is that it might force you or whomever you work for to examine exactly how serious you are about your goals. If you have aggressive goals, but aren't willing to apply aggressive resources to them, well then, the whole budgeting exercise can seem a bit pointless.
If you've approached this the right way – setting goals and
expectations first, then setting your budget figure, then prioritizing the
tools you need to reach those goals and you simply can't get there from here, it's
time to go back and re-think your goals or your budget. That spreadsheet makes
it pretty easy to do either one.
This is a big topic that could go on forever, so we posted a downloadable
paper in the "Thinking" section of our website with more on it. Help yourself.
But if you're like many in the hospitality industry, when budget
season comes around you are asked to do more with less. This might be a business-based
argument to take to the CFO.
OK, so we're the creative agency for a warm-weather resort client and Somebody Else does the social media. Right now, it's cold as hell in the Northeast, but, of course, toasty warm at the resort property.
So, the client wants to get some Facebook ads placed right quick pointing this out to their target.
OK now believe it or not, Facebook has different ad specs if you want to drive business to your website and if you want to generate page likes.
We sort of assumed the goal was to drive people to the website. You know to, um, well book a room? The social agency patiently explained to us that their goal is to generate page likes, so we need to re-size the ad.
So, to repeat: It's cold where the target lives, warm where the resort property is and rather than try to get people to visit the web site to book a room our goal is to generate page likes?
That might make the social agency look good, but isn't the ultimate point here to sell rooms?
At one point, digital marketing tools like adwords, pay-per-click, retargeting and such were pretty terrific for smaller companies, like independent
hotels. And, for many, it's still the go-to marketing channel. The must-do.
Sometimes at the expense of other avenues.
Unfortunately, it's not necessarily the slam-dunk benefit that it used
For one thing, the cost is going up. Many will say you need
to be spending $10k a month to get any value out of it. Even my
journalism-school math tells me that's $120,000 a year. A big part of a
marketing budget for a property doing between $12 million and $20 million in
And any messages that might show up way down on a page (often
out of sight) still count as an impression (that you pay for), so it's hard to tell exactly what
benefit you got from the expenditure. Further, unless you're using full-path
attribution, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what drove a potential guest to make a reservation. "Last-touch" certainly isn't the only factor
that will drive someone to your property and get them to actually book a room.
In fact, often the keywords that most frequently drive
pay-per-click and adwords responses are the actual name of the property. Which
begs the question, how did that person find the name of the property in the
first place? And there's the logical follow-on question: How can we get our name out
Few digital marketing tools like these lend themselves to effective delivery of a brand position - and a brand distinction is
one thing an independent hotel can use to its advantage. Creative delivery of what sets your property apart from another is not exactly a strong suit of something like
This is not to say that digital should not play a role in
the marketing of an independent property or collection. It should.
sure your eyes are wide open about the cost, the benefits and how they fit
into your particular circumstance.
There is an article and discussion The Economist about something that really makes you realize that people at big companies aren't always really that smart.
Apparently Marriott hotels was fined ($600,000!!) for blocking guests' personal wireless modems and hotspots and now a complaint has been filed against Hilton too.
The Economist piece goes into detail about it - and the comments are pretty interesting too - but the learning for anybody in the hotel business comes at the very end: "But notwithstanding its legality, price-gouging your customers is generally a bad idea if you are interested in the long-term success of your business. Here's a better idea if hotels are keen to make money from their Wi-Fi, why not offer something worth paying for?"
We've always wondered why hotels seem to be driven - like airlines - to nickel-and-dime guests. At least the big chains seem to take that approach. Independents seem generally to be much more guest-friendly. A hotel that charges Ooopty dollars for parking could, instead, add Ooopty dollars to the room rate and offer "free parking". Maybe instead of gouging on things in the mini-bar, only stock it with things you're willing to give away.
And for crying out loud, don't charge for the Internet.
Sure, a hotel has to pay for it, as one commenter pointed out. But, as another was quick to note, they also have to pay for the free breakfast, the gym, the pool and all the rest of it.
But whether it's an airline or a hotel and whether it's a genuine desire to provide a lot or a pricing mask, add-on charges tend to give customers a bad taste in their mouths.
Especially when they could just walk across the street to a Starbucks and use the Wi-Fi for free.