How to prep for 2017…

Wow, what a year.  2016 has definitely kept us on our toes and thrown some very interesting curve balls.  If anyone had given me a crystal ball back in 2015 and told me that:

  • The UK would vote to leave the EU
  • Donald Trump would be president-elect of the USA
  • David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Prince and so many more would take their final bows
  • Leonardo DiCaprio would finally get his Oscar
  • Apple would introduce a phone without an earphone jack
  • Melbourne would host a Grand Final and the CBD hotels would not fill

I would never have believed them.

As I try to process all that has come and gone, I now start to look forward to 2017 and wonder what next.  What will the global economy do in 2017 and will tourism be up or down?  Will people travel or will there be a recession as the effects of Brexit and Trump take hold?   Will changes in government effect the dollar and pound?  Will people book their big international holiday?   Will corporates travel?

My crystal ball is on the blink, it took a pounding in 2016 and is refusing to give me any idea of what comes next, therefore, I feel it is time to hunker down and focus on the basics.  Get out your Revenue, Sales and Marketing Plan and plan for all eventualities.  Australia may be seen as a safe & reliable destination with huge increases in travel or it may be a case of us relying on the domestic market to fill our rooms. Either way, we need to put our best foot forward and ensure we are optimised and ready to sell.

Please note that I added revenue to what we traditionally class as sales & marketing plan because I believe that revenue is what we are all about, we sell a room and it makes money.  As revenue people, we must know how that room is being sold and what action is being taken to sell more, to accurately forecast then analyse any outcome and hence, decide whether the cost involved in selling said room was warranted. Nett RevPar is it. Selling any room costs but which cost is better.

Spend a bit of time collating information on all marketing drives, sales strategies, meetings, pitches, blog posts, advertising, etc., you paid for in 2016 and how much it cost you and what profit it produced. Did you put an ad in a magazine and if so, how much did it cost and how many bookings did you get? Break all this information down into an easy to read chart which allows space for you to put next year’s info. Looking back allows you the chance to work out whether what you did worked and hence, should we do again next year and when should we do it.

Don’t forget to add areas such as commission and website hosting fees.  These areas are replacing magazine, newspaper and radio advertising.  We need to know how much it is costing us to produce new bookings so why ignore a commission bill?  For example: we ran a winter promotion on an OTA for Q3 and received x revenue but we also received a commission bill of y.  Could we do something cheaper next year and achieve same revenue over same time period for same staffing costs?

Get together will all team members involved in generating income for your hotel.  Bring in some food and drink and start brain storming what you can do next year.  Think outside the box and include staff members you may not normally invite to these meetings; they may have ideas that you don’t.

Grab some paper and add titles for all areas of business.  For example: direct website, OTAs, corporate, inbound, coach tours, sports groups, key events… don’t limit yourself as you may discover you have a new area that is very important and has yet to be named/identified.

Start adding ideas to each piece of paper for each area of business.  How will you control this area? What can you do to increase business in this area?  Who can you approach for help generating additional business?  What packages work at what time of year?  What do the guests like to do/see/hear/experience?  What tools do you have onsite that you can use for free?

Think outside the box, social media is a key area of interaction with guests but may not be an area where people book.  How can you better interact with the Millennial Generation who want Instagram ready moments they can share with followers?

The corporate market is constantly evolving and changing.  Contracted rates may not be as important to your clients as they were 10 years ago but ease of booking online via “promo codes” and dynamic rates may be.  A show round, coffee and a catch up may not fit with the average bookers calendar so how can you bond when people are just too busy?

China is Australia’s biggest market so what are you doing to gain your share?  A rice cooker and slippers may need to morph into green tea, Chinese language newspapers, congee on the buffet, translated websites and listing on OTA’s such as CTrip.

Review all the exciting ideas you come up with and decide what is cost effective and possible depending on your size of hotel, location and staffing?  Don’t discount something that sounds random and weird, it maybe the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd.  Be the first to try something new in your market and not the last to jump on the bandwagon.

Put these ideas into some sort of order of what you need to do 1st, 2nd and 3rd depending on urgency and dates they will affect.  If you want to run a winter promotion, when do you need to start getting it ready?

Now it is time to get the laptop out and create a spreadsheet with a line for each area and an idea in each month according to when you need to action not when it will take effect.  Remember, it is too late to plan an Easter promotion on Good Friday.  You need to have a plan in place and be working on said plan according to knowledge or your hotels lead time and what happens in the local area.

Encourage discussion.  An idea might be amazing but if the cost and feasibility of said idea is beyond your hotel, be prepared to walk away.  Making personalised birthday cakes when you don’t have a fulltime chef may not be feasible but popping to the local supermarket and getting a readymade cake, taking it out of the box and decorating with fresh strawberries might be.

Once you have completed your wonderful new Revenue, Sales and Marketing Plan, print it out and in big bold colours and put it up on the wall loud and proud so everyone can see what is happening and when it should be happening.  Allocate certain areas to specific staff and make sure you review your plan at the end of each month to check for success and record notes for when you sit down to complete your next plan in November 2017.

Every month when you get together as a hotel team, bring the beautiful plan along and review last month’s activities then ensure someone is allocated to each of next month’s activities.  Make this a working document. Scribble on it, add figures, cross things out and replace with new activities where appropriate.  By the end of the year each person’s printed copy should be pretty tatty but a treasure trove of information on which to base next year’s Plan.

Set a date, order lunch, gather your information and get started today, tomorrow is just too late.

Good luck.

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