Integrated Marketing Communications in Hotels
By Didi Lutz President, Didi Lutz PR | October 28, 2008
If practiced properly, Integrated Marketing Communications is a healthy balance that can yield unlimited results beneficial to the organization's goals. Defining IMC has been controversial and has caused a lot of argument among experts, but generally it is described as the mix of all promotional efforts into "whatever works." With that in mind, hotels have begun applying this notion as part of their everyday outreach.
To begin with, traditional Marketing suggests the theory of the 4 Ps (marketing mix): Product, Promotion, Price and Place (note that Place is often referred to not only as Location but also as Distribution). The ultimate goal is to combine the Ps in such a way that the fifth element is generated, and is known to all of us as Profit.
Specifically, marketing methods and strategies will vary from hotel to hotel and some significant factors to analyze and research prior to drafting are: property size, management structure, type of ownership and type of hotel (luxury, business, hi-tech, economy, etc.), area demographics and psychographics, as well as the dynamics of the internal and external environment.
Once the research is complete, the goals have been identified, and the competitive advantage has been determined, the next step is to select the most effective tools to promote the hotel's niche, whether it is a groundbreaking technology, newsworthy amenities, special services, and anything unique that could become a revenue generator once it is promoted.
The Integrated Marketing Communications toolbox generally includes: Direct Mail (mail pieces, fliers, etc.), Advertising (billboard, TV, print, Radio, Internet), and Public Relations (media relations, press coverage, newsletters, collecting feedback, event management). Choosing the right tactics to maximize the value of the IMC strategy is imperative, and often hotels will outsource specialized firms to handle this project, since the decision on the strategy will directly affect the bottom line in the long run. For example, a good suggestion is to define a timeline that will determine how long a particular ad campaign will run, how much it will cost, where it will run and what results are expected from the exposure.
While tracking campaigns is a daunting task, it is extremely beneficial to outreach efforts of any kind. Nowadays, investing in custom designed marketing software and along with the help of the Internet, tracking results has become much faster, more accurate, and easier to analyze than a few years ago.