Books to Help Hoteliers Understand & Improve Their Marketing In The Next Quarter

stack of books
Alex Corral
Alex Corral
June 1, 2017

Table of Contents


Running a hotel is tough. I think that we can all agree on that.

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You are required to wear many different hats every day. Depending on the size of your property, you could be the revenue manager, the housekeeper, and human resources all in a single workday.

We get it, you're busy, but I wanted to share with you some books that could make your life easier in the long run. I’m offering these suggestions, because when marketing is done right, it will bring in more sales. If you increase your sales, your revenue should go up meaning that you should have the chance at more budget. You could use this budget to hire others to leave you time to actually….manage the hotel.

Adding some daily reading is going to give you more work initially, but if you stick to it in this next quarter, it will give you more freedom (and a better performing business) in the long run.

These 8 books will help you to better market your hotel this year! If you read just 25 pages every day, you will be able to form (or asses) a better marketing strategy for your hotel.

It doesn't seem like that much when you put it into perspective. Plus, you will be a more knowledgeable GM in the long run because of it. Isn’t that the goal? These books are not one hit wonders. Some of them have withstood the test of time. Just check out Scientific Advertising, it's from 1923 and is still relevant today.

The Purple Cow - 224 pages

This is the most basic book of the bunch. It is marketing 101, and it is written by Seth Godin. Seth brings up the point that there are so many products that are out there today, that it is nearly impossible to stand out.

He uses the example of seeing cows grazing to make his point. If you have never seen a cow, you might be in awe the first time that you see one. After that, you probably won't bat an eyelash when you see another one.

You won't particularly care about your average run-of-the-mill cows. Unless, one day you spotted a purple cow. Now that is that type of cow that would make anyone do a double-take. You might be so surprised in fact, that you will tell everyone that you know, about this purple cow so that they can see for themselves.

This book helps aspiring marketers figure out what makes their company's extraordinary. It forces hotels to think about what really makes their business remarkable, or noteworthy. It will force you to ask yourself if you are offering an experience, or if your hotel is just another bed and a shower to consumers.

Trust Me, I’m Lying - 320 pages

Ryan Holiday does a fantastic job of explaining the modern PR landscape. He does so by showing how one can manipulate the media in their favor for their businesses. He brings up an interesting concept about “trading up the chain.”

You start with a very small story and you turn them into real news by moving it up the media chain. For example, you can get a local newspaper to pick up your small-ish story, Once it has been picked up, you use that link to feed it up to bigger news outlets, until you have reached the top of the chain. It can quickly turn something that wasn’t really news, into something newsworthy. By the time you get to the top news sites, your traffic will have exponentially grown.

Most people don't understand how the media actually works, even though they are completely dependent on it. Reading this book will show you how to get your hotel noticed...if you are willing to put in the work. It you are looking to kick your social media or promotion strategies up a notch, this is the book for you.

Scientific Advertising - 88 pages

Claude was one of the great advertising pioneers. This 88 page book is still relevant, and it was created in 1923! If you do any type of paid advertising or digital advertising of any kind, you can agree that there is a lot of knowledge to take in. There is also a lot of change that happens.  I am of the firm belief that there are certain principles that will always hold true & can make your life easier. Yes there is a certain level of creativity that is involved when advertising, but at the end of the day, it is a science. Following the principles in this book can make your advertising journey a whole lot easier. They might even make you a better salesman.

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Permission Marketing - 256 pages

How many advertisements do you see in any given day? Alot. So much so, that you tune many of them out without even noticing. This is the reason that so many consumers have gotten desensitized to “traditional marketing.” Seth Godin emphasizes that the “spray and pray” model for marketing is on its way out. People don't want to be yelled at, they want to be asked. You have to look for people that want to receive your message and then ask them for permission to start a dialogue.

Marketing to someone today is a privilege and not a right. Understanding this concept can catapult your hotel to the front of consumers mind. If you learn who your consumers are and then market to them on a somewhat personal level, you can gain a competitive advantage that is going to be near impossible to take away.

The books prior to this were focused on marketing. The next few are not so much marketing, but they do talk about important concepts that should tie back to your marketing.

The Outliers - 336 pages

Probably a top book of mine. This book talks about how to be an outlier, how to stand out, and how to excel at what you do. How long does it take someone to be a master at something? How long would it take me to be a master marketer, or a world class coder? How long would it take you to be a leading hotel manager, or an expert sommelier?

We tend to think that people are just innately more talented , but that is not the case. In essence it is about taking advantage of unique opportunities and working really deliberately on your craft.

Zero to One - 224 Pages

I think that it is safe to say that some pretty cool things have come from PayPal.  Tesla Motors, LinkedIn, Palantir Technologies, SpaceX, YouTube, Yelp, are just a few. Why is this?

Well Peter Thiel, who was one of the co-founders of PayPal says that it is about creating businesses that do something new. It's not about copying businesses, but about going from Zero to One. He states that when going from Zero to One, you must focus on making your business monopolistic. That way you cannot be easily replicated, and you can shift consumer behavior.  

He makes this justification, by saying that capitalism & competition are opposites. Forward thinking readers with a love for business strategy will enjoy this book.

How to Win Friends and Influence People - 291 pages

All business is about interacting with people. Dale Carnegie understood that. When you read this book, you might say to yourself, “I knew that,” and that is okay. Many successful people, including Warren Buffet had one fundamental difference. They applied everything that this book promotes in their business dealings.

It is one thing to understand that something can make a difference, but it is another to actually put them into practice. I think this quote pretty much sums it up:

“Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn't bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: "Wouldn't you like to have that?"

Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people?”

Networking in the hospitality industry is imperative. Read this book, and dust off your business cards.

Thinking Fast, and Slow - 499 pages

a lightbulb inside of a thought bubble

In order to excel at marketing, you need to have a solid understanding of who your customers are. Not just demographics, but who they really are, like, what makes them tick. What causes them to make the decisions that they do? Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman shines light on this by helping you understand how people actually make decisions.

I considered myself to be very rational until I read this book. All of my marketing knowledge had this premise behind it. Little did I know that this was constraining growth. Kahneman makes the case that, given its ease ( & preferred use), intuition can impact many of the decisions that we believe to be rational.

He boils it down to System 1 and System 2. System 1 uses heuristics, feelings, and emotions to come to conclusions. System 2 is 100% logical, but requires substantially more effort. A great read for all who make important decisions.

Do you have any other book suggestions that are relevant to marketers & the hotel industry? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

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