Do you know how your hotel is positioned against your competitive set? Have you considered looking at the positioning strategies for your independent hotel lately?
The chances are that you have not.
The reason that this happens is that people in hospitality management are so busy doing everything to keep their property running smoothly. You do everything in your power to be everywhere at once. The fact of the matter is that this can lead to blindness. It could have you thinking that you are the creme de la creme of your competitive set when you are far from it.
Maybe that’s why your quarterly sales are declining. Perhaps that is why your negative reviews are killing you.
As much as we may hate reviews/review sites, they can shed some light on what your actual position is in the market. Knowing this, you can figure out some effective positioning strategies for your independent hotel.
You can have the most beautiful architecture on the planet, but if customers complain about “odors,” all the time, then you end up being the stinky hotel.
If you understand your position in the market, then all the branding, marketing, sales, etc. will stem from it.
There is a real competitive edge that you can gain from knowing your position in the market. In a crowded marketplace, having proper positioning can help you build rapport with customers.
Positioning begins and ends with the customer. It doesn’t matter so much what you sell, but it does matter what the customer thinks that you sell.
Don’t be the “beautiful,” but “stinky” hotel.
In 2015, more than 180 billion U.S. dollars were spent on advertising in the United States. This figure is more than double the amount spent in advertising in China, the second-largest ad market in the world. Forecasts show healthy projections for the ad market in the U.S. for 2016, as media advertising spending is expected to reach the 200 billion U.S. dollars mark this year.¹
The statistic above illustrates why positioning matters. Customers see so many advertisements today that it’s become so easy to ignore your hotel.
There is hope, though. Once you have your positioning down, your direct bookings should begin to increase.
The first thing that you need to do is understand who your customer is.
Not who you think they are, but who they are.
There are some questions that you can ask yourself.
- Who benefits the most from the product that you offer?
- What consumers do you satisfy the best?
Once you come up with this customer, figure out if it is who you want to be targeting. If it is not, and it most likely isn’t, figure out what you can do to change that.
This is where one of the 4 P’s, positioning, comes into play.
Not every positioning strategy will work for every hotel.
Two of my favorite positioning strategies for independent hotels are:
- Reverse Positioning – think reverse engineering. Find out what the fundamentals of your industry are and focus on those. This positioning assumes that customers want something more than the basic, and they do not want EVERYTHING. Using this strategy, you can breathe new life into a mature product by reinventing a category. Think IKEA.
- Breakaway Positioning – This chooses to position the hotel as something other than what it is in the product category. It associates it with a different category. If you redefine the category, then you can redefine the competition. You can become the market leader in this new category. Think THE SIMPSONS, bringing cartoons to primetime TV.
A few other notable strategies are:
- Find a UNIQUE point of differentiation between you and the number one. This helps establish a connection in the customer’s mind. It is hard to unseat the number 1 in your category, but you can leverage your uniqueness against the number one. The perception will be “birds of a feather, flock together,” but your point of differentiation will make you stand out.
- Position yourself as the anti-something. I’m sure every customer and yourself included have had a bad experience with a brand. Understanding customer sentiment could help you position yourself as those brands opposite.
The biggest mistake that you can make is trying to appeal to everybody. Pick a word that you want to own in your customer’s mind and do everything you can to own it. You’ll waste money trying to cater to the masses.
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1. “U.S. Advertising Industry – Statistics & Facts | Statista.” 2012. 20 Jun. 2016 <http://www.statista.com/topics/979/advertising-in-the-us/>