Rebranding? Now Market Your Hotel Conversion!
As owners and developers may now be spending money to renovate, reposition and reflag their hotels, it is critical to set aside monies to promote and market these changes.
By Leora Lanz &
October 24, 2003
As hotel owners are looking to renovate assets and perhaps put a new flag atop the building, we remind you to set aside dollars for the marketing of your renamed hotel. So often owners spend considerable monies in capital improvements to reposition a hotel, and yet set aside insufficient budgets for telling the world about your new hotel and its features.
So much is involved in the comprehensive marketing of a hotel, particularly during the transition period from one brand to another. Some items to keep in mind include:
- The electronic avenues –
Public Relations –
- the global distribution systems (GDS), third party alternate distribution systems, your website.
- You may want to consider a comprehensive GDS marketing schedule to help get that word out quickly and directly to the parties that book your hotel; updating your GDS screens are vital;
Local sales effort –
- Naturally, press releases should be distributed to inform the public about your new hotel product;
- Update all print and electronic directory listings – corporate directories, travel trade listings, and even the yellow pages;
- Schedule press events and conduct site inspections so the media understand the changes you have made and how this new brand will enhance your hotel; include local press; print and electronic as well as hotel trade press to this event;
- Invite the local business community cocktail receptions, for example; let this group of influencers see the changes and become familiar with your newly branded hotel;
- Inform your competitive set; include the General Managers, Directors of Sales & Marketing, Front Office Managers and, Reservations Managers; (you should at this determine if you have a new competitive set as well);
- Host the limousine drivers, local cab companies and even rental car companies for a drive-by for coffee and donuts; a visual of hotel staff handing out messages of the new hotel to cab drivers, for example, can make for a great photo opportunity and garner television and consumer press coverage;
- Building signage needs to be clear and visible from all angles. Even the scaffolding around the buildings during renovation/construction should clearly inform the public of the conversion;
- Will you have a model room? Photography? Renderings?
Training - A key to your success
- Sales and catering should “hit the streets” and educate local businesses of the name change, repositioning, new product;
- Premium items are recommended. Everyone should carry gifts to give away; T-Shirts with your new name and logo is a great way to announce who the “new” hotel is; the $5.00 investment will go far-everyone who wears the T-Shirt becomes a walking billboard for your hotels;
- The front office needs to develop a plan for collecting e-mail addresses for all of your guests so that you can communicate your new name with special introductory offers to your regular clientele;
- Communicate the changes to all top accounts immediately. Remember that most of your key accounts book through GDS, so if they cannot find you, they will stay with the competition;
- Renovations create excellent reasons for site inspections and fam trips; Invite influencers and bookers, plan the visits, provide souvenirs - do everything you can to get people into your hotel to experience the new brand and share the improvements that come along with these changes.
Brand networking –
- The training of the entire hotel team is important; the new brand’s standards, frequent guest programs, rate plans. The changes will be endless and learning the new information is important so the hotel becomes immersed in the new brand; even telephone recordings on premise and scripting the telephone operators is something to consider. Our objective is to maintain and grow occupancy. Slips in procedures and lack of knowledge by the staff will alienate all customers.
- Can you provide your staff with a list of the new and improved features and amenities?
Collateral – Be prepared
- Meet the appropriate players at the new brand so as to capitalize on all the marketing opportunities provided by the brand;
- The sales and marketing director needs to know all the key sales people at the brand level, and develop relationships with the corporate team;
- Know deadlines for all marketing initiatives to insure your hotel is able to participate in as many tradeshows or hosted receptions as possible. This is of utmost importance within the first 3-12 months.
- Have new collateral available as soon as possible;
- Take advantage of the marketing tools you are provided with to insure your brochures, stationery, business cards, premium items, sales collateral, in-room literature is correctly printed and in your hands as quickly as possible;
- Consider your elevator signage as another opportunity to get the word out.
You, as hotel owners, are spending a lot of money on reflagging and required renovations. Don’t miss the boat by not having enough sales people or not properly marketing the news. And start early enough. You need to plan the work so you can effectively work the plan.
Sales & Marketing Services will assist your sales and marketing teams to ensure a comprehensive promotion of your renaming, repositioning and rebranding efforts.