This is a guest article by Norma Brandt of HotelMarketingClub.com
, an accommodation agency specialising in growing direct bookings using search, training, social media, email and mobile marketing.
One of the top discussions among hotel marketers today is about cutting costs and growing revenues in this tough market.
Most now have a clear idea that online is where the growth is, and direct is where the profit comes from. The big confusion is whether to run their online marketing campaigns with in-house team or outsource it as many others do now.
TPI, an outsourcing advisory firm, says:
"More than $24.7 billion of outsourced contracts were dished out in the fourth quarter last year – up 8% year over year."
So, how does a hotel plan it’s in-house or outsource strategy? Here’s a five-step plan:
1. List the activities your team does currently
Create a list of all online marketing activities your hotel staff perform on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. This would be the base of your further plans. Evaluate these activities with the returns it generates.
This would help you prioritise the activities better. Is your marketing staff more productive at offline deals? If yes, then let them do that more than the Facebook updates.
2. Add other online channels that might help you grow faster
Any hotel planning to succeed beyond 2011 has to be ready with four major online channels:
- Search engines: Google & Bing (Yahoo).
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, YouTube & Linkedin
- Mobile: Mobile optimized website, mobile seo, short code & bulk text(sms)
- Email: Newsletters, deals.
Ask yourself, where your hotel stands currently on each on these marketing channels. Are you just present there, or thriving with activity, conversations and engagement?
3. Assess your team’s channel knowledge and proficiency
Once you know the major channels to grow futher, do a self-analysis of your current team. A team with half-baked knowledge and action-plan could do more harm than good. Tools (free or paid) could help your team handle most activities in a quicker, easier way.
Ask these questions for a Yes/No:
4. Can someone perform better than our in-house team?
- Does your team’s age and attitude go with the conversational skills needed for new-age channels?
- Is you team well-trained to handle the intricacies of all four major online channels?
- Is your team well-equipped with the right tools in place to run the campaigns effectively on each channel?
Management basics teach us to try and accomplish every goal at the lowest cost possible. Even if your team can handle most part of your campaign, check their efficiency and whether the effort leads to better results.
To reach your ultimate goal in the most cost-efficient manner takes time and practice. Ask the right questions to firms which bid for running your online marketing campaign. Make a clear description of your goals and do not compromise on measuring them among deliverables.
The professional ones would offer a plan which aligns with hotel’s goals.
5. Track your staff’s cost efficiency
Ultimately, what matters is the running cost and efficiency in achieving your business goal – whether you outsource or not. In this tough economic scenario, every dollar saved is a gain on the bottomline.
First, find the cost of running your campaigns in-house with your staff count, their salary, training, tool costs, and other expenses, then calculate how many of your monthly or yearly bookings could be attributed directly to this expense.
Simple formula: Total Revenue from Channel - Campaign Costs = Profits
Now, establish the percentage profit for each channel in your total revenue, and sort these into ascending order. This would provide the most productive channel break up run by your team.
Let these numbers help you decide your effort and budget for the next month or quarter.
With your in-house cost to get bookings known, you can make an informed decision. More often than not, your in-house staff can run your online campaigns at the lowest cost – the trick is in empowering them with the right training and tools to do this efficiently.
Check out the outsourcing firms only when you have your in-house numbers clearly known. If the outsourcing firm specializes in your segment, aligns to your goals perfectly, and achieves them at a lower cost than yours’ – go ahead, and outsource.
This is a guest article by Norma Brandt of HotelMarketingClub.com, an agency specialising in growing direct bookings using search, training, social media, email and mobile marketing.