Hotel markets across the US are behaving differently. They are each rebounding at a different pace, and even hotels within the same market are not seeing the same patterns.

While you cannot predict the future, you still need a plan. A tiered plan will illustrate what you should be doing now, and when there are positive signals that demand is returning, have that strategy ready.

Here is a 3-step approach to creating a plan that works for your specific situation.

Analyze the Data

While your own hotel reports will show you what segments are traveling to your hotel and your direct competitive set, that may not be forward-looking enough. Look past your own hotel data, as it might not tell the picture of the entire market.

Insert keywords into Google Trends (free) to see if your market is on the upswing. Consider inserting a term like “your city + hotels.” While the values are not absolute, you can at least easily see trend lines, and the data goes back five years to compare year over year.

Check in with your Expedia or Booking.com market manager for more data. In Expedia Partner Central, you can see your own hotels’ booking patterns and how far in advance guests are booking. Other data points you can see:

  • Origin of travelers searching for your location, by country
  • Booking window, by booking or stay date, compared to the competitive set
  • Length of stay, by booking or stay date, compared to the competitive set
  • Your cancellation rate versus the competitive set

Engage with your local CVB to understand what they are communicating to future travelers and event planners.

If you have an independent hotel, you can run a report to see what future dates people are inputting into the booking calendar.

Analyze your Current Positioning

Once the data is showing the green shoots, look for gaps in your customer journey. Where does your hotel fall short?

  • Do you lack exposure to the segments that are traveling?
  • Do you have the right exposure, but lack the ability to convert?
  • Are you tapping into past guests and those that are loyal?
  • Is there something broken in your digital cycle, like extremely high cancellation rates, bad reviews or poor images?
  • Are you too short-sighted (or far-sighted) in your marketing and revenue management strategies?
  • Have you done a recent site visit of your competitors for comparison?

Answering some of these questions will reveal where you may need to put your limited funds.

Create a Tiered Hotel Marketing Plan

Next, it is time to combine the market and hotel data with your positioning analysis. Only then can you create a strategy that will fill in the gaps.

The important thing to remember is this plan will continue to evolve. While your market may not be experiencing business or group travel right now, you need to be poised for when it does.

If you have always been a big group hotel, you should have started yesterday repositioning yourself to the transient market.

Don’t do what you have always done because nothing is the same. Try something new and maybe it will work, or maybe not.

Just because demand has not returned, people are still dreaming and planning. There is still opportunity to outperform your competitors.

About the Author
Stephanie Sparks Smith can weave through the intricacies of the large hotel brands’ digital marketing systems and strategies. As Founder and Digital Matriarch at Cogwheel Marketing, Stephanie and her team help management companies identify the gap between brand and hotel level marketing to drive incremental revenue to their individual Marriott, Hilton and IHG hotels.

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