Marketing: Maintain the Big Picture (12/07)

Q.

I have taken over a unique Manor House hotel and am thinking of plugging into an online system to boost sales.

A.

Before looking at reservations systems you need to be aware that whatever you choose should fit into a comprehensive marketing plan which in turn should be a subset of your business plan.

Generally online reservations systems are good for bringing in individual guests. Furthermore these are likely to be leisure guests seeking a weekend ‘deal’ (in other words clients that erode your profit) or business people from Sunday to Thursday. This means that you will be investing in a system that will not bring groups or attract the lucrative MICE market (meetings incentives conferences exhibitions).

If however you are satisfied these markets are right for your property proceed with sourcing an online system.

Traditionally a hotelier would sign up to a Global Distribution System (GDS). You need to pay for the services of marketing /representation company to put you in these systems, but once this is done your hotel is accessible to corporate clients and IATA travel agents all over the World. This method is looking costly these days and the ROI is looking poorer because travel agents are declining.

Of course the key channel for business is the internet. To have a decent presence you will still need to consider joining a consortium of some kind and /or investing somewhere north of £30,000 to have your own bookable website. On top of this you will need a decent budget to invest in web optimisation (that’s paying the likes of Google and Yahoo to keep you on their first results page).

Lastly – if your hotel is as unique as you think get a good PR agency on board. They will get added interest from the press and broadcasters.

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