Choosing the Right Ad Agency for Your Hotel
By Gary Leopold President & CEO, ISM | May 19, 2010
The proliferation of advertising agencies, marketing firms, marketing consultants, interactive agencies, database marketing shops, and all other forms of communications related companies plying for your business means that today's hotelier needs to make their choices wisely and apply the legal principal of Caveat Emptor - buyer beware.
Choosing an agency should be viewed in exactly the same way that you would a business partner, and done with the same scrutiny, due diligence, inquisitiveness, proof of performance, honesty, candor, humor and affection.
So where do you start? The first thing you need to do is to find appropriate agencies to consider. Call your colleagues at other hotels and businesses and ask who they work with and who they might recommend. Websites like www.AgencyComPile.com and www.agencyfinder.com can help you identify agencies with experience in your industry or who are located in your area. The American Association of Advertising Agencies and The Advertising Redbooks (www.redbooks.com) are also viable starting points and publications like Advertising Age and Adweek regularly cover the industry and can also help you identify appropriate options. If your account is large enough to warrant it, you can even elect to hire an agency search consultant who will work (for a fee) to help you source and select the agency best suited to your needs.
Assuming that you've surfaced a worthy group of candidates, what should you be looking for?
Number one is to know what you want. Don't be that client who smiles and says "you're the expert" - if you like something about the agency, tell them. If you don't, tell them that too. If you can't speak to them openly and honestly before you hire them, what makes you think you'll be able to do so once you hire them?
Make sure the size of the agency fits the size of your account. Unless you're an unusually tasty fish, you don't want to get lost swimming in a huge ocean. Big agencies can't afford to divert top talent to little accounts and should your account require extra attention, it's much easier for a big shop to walk away from your business, than a little agency that really counts on your revenues to keep their agency afloat.