An article in HSMAI Newsletter, Mile High Chapter, Spring 2003,
by Sandy Heydt of
Panetiere Marketing Advisors.

Marketing plans that mean business.

How many sales directors of hotels and resorts dread the time of year when marketing plans are due? So much work!

When complete, the marketing plan goes in a tabbed binder; the owner, management company and general manager of the hotel or resort may glance at parts of it. Then it goes on a shelf and collects dust.

Sales managers often never get the chance to review the marketing plan, rarely have input, and would probably find most plans irrelevant to their daily lives. After all, most marketing plans are written because they are a requirement, not because anyone really sees the long- term value in the thinking behind the document and the inherent staff training that has taken place through its very design. And this is a mistake.

Marketing plans can be useful, working documents that are used all year long by sales and catering managers, food and beverage directors, restaurant managers, advertising and public relations staff. All these individuals should not only have input into the plan, but assist in writing it. Who better knows their clients, competition, challenges and strengths? And how better to get the buy-in from key staff on plans for the coming year?

A good marketing director will use the marketing plan development process as learning and planning tool for staff. The result will be an action-oriented document with great back up information that the staff pulls from the shelf all year long for guidance and information. In fact, it might not even make the shelf but sit on a desktop.Building a marketing plan that works: architects and builders do it - why can't Sales Directors of hotels and resorts

What a concept - to have the marketing plan be a real living, breathing document and working action plan for the staff!

Marketing plans should never be written without detailed information about your competition. How can a hotel, restaurant, spa or catering department even think about how they are going to market their services and products unless they are knowledgeable about their competitive set?

the competition

What are their features and benefits? Their pricing points? What do their customers think about them? How do your property and products stack up…honestly?

What about recapping the past year's work? What didn't succeed, what stumbled, what soared, and what didn't even make it off the drawing board? Who and what are, were, and will be our target markets? How can we reach them? Do we actually speak on a regular schedule to our current loyal customer base?

collect the facts

All these items are important for room sales, catering sales, restaurant outlets, the spa and golf course. No revenue producing area of a property should be left out of the plan.

Other information necessary to collect before starting on your strategies and action plans includes citywide pressure dates, local and national economic conditions that impact the hospitality, restaurant and travel industry, and a thorough review of any new inventory coming on the market. This information, coupled with historical data, will give you the framework to begin starting to think about strategy for the coming year.

data raining
brain storming . . .

If the staff that are directly responsible for revenue generating departments participate in the data collection, brainstorming of ideas and reviewing how your product stacks up against the competition, you will have an engaged staff that is motivated to follow the plan and feel personally responsible to make sure positive things happen.

How about the silly spa story?

The spa at a resort is trying to appeal to the local clientele, not just resort guests. The spa facility is a bit tired, however there is not much money to put into improvements. To make matters worse, a new, swanky spa opened 30 minutes away. Everyone feels defeated. But one engaged staff member makes a great suggestion when asked for input during marketing plan time. "Can't we at least replace the bright sodium lighting with softer light to make the spa to feel warm and inviting? Plus, softer lights will shine less brightly on some of our flaws." For $100 the spa was improved 1000 percent, thanks to a clever idea by someone who was asked for their opinion during the marketing plan meetings

small business owners

How many plans are big on flashy mission statements and strategy, but short on specific action agendas? A plan without weekly and monthly goals, actions, and targets is a plan that is meaningless. Even if the owner or manager is not interested in these specifics, a sales and marketing director worth their salary will be sure to include this in the plan and have the managers of each specific area provide input and ideas. How better to engage the managers in their jobs than to give them input into the big picture? Who knows the customers better than they? This also teaches managers to think for themselves, take responsibility for their part of the business, and holds them accountable. Treat your managers like owners of their own small business and see what great results you can get!

weekly success updates
to all

The marketing director should follow-up each month with each department and encourage them to work through the action items in the marketing plan and get their input in changes that might need to be made. Share the excitement on a weekly basis; email all hotel staff success stories and press you receive to keep the motivation levels high.

Successful sales managers at work on a marketing plan for hotels and resortsThe following marketing plan outline might seem intimidating but really is not. If you don't have this information at your fingertips anyway, you are selling blind.

Sales directors remember: spread the wealth. Have administrative assistants and managers assist you in compiling the information for this document and everyone wins!

Outine of one format for a Hotel Sales and Marketing Plan

The Process

The following are the elements that we take into account to build a plan for added revenues and market penetration.

I. The Foundation On Which Our Goals Will Rest
The Attractors: E-P G
Architecture and Design
Facility: All Elements
Food and Beverage
Environment Effects


Guest Care

II. Who Is Our Audience?
Major Audiences
Niche Audiences
Market Expansions
Audience Opportunities

III. Visibility Communicators
Distribution Marketing
Direct Sales
Membership/Marketing affiliations
Global Distribution System / IDS
Public Relations Plan
Media Plan
Direct Marketing
Repeat Guest Programs
Customer Relationship Marketing
Special Events
Pricing Strategies

IV: Guarantors
Human Resources
Touch Points - the guest experience
Management and Staff
Repair/Upkeep Rejuvenation
Service Systems
Investment (invest more than money)

V: Action Plan
Staff - Deployment
1st Operating Year
Staff - Deployment
VI: The Budgets to Accomplish (pre-opening, continuing)
Costs, Revenue Expectations
1st Operating Year
Costs, Revenue Expectations

V: Appendices
National Comp Set
Local Comp Set

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a marketing plan that is built by the team is used by the team.