Forget The 4 P’s & Focus On The 3 I’s


Alex Corral

May 9, 2016


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Being in the hotel business is tough. When you think that you have the secret to success, you find out that all of your competitors have been doing it for months. There are so many new ways to get customers to your business, but ethical old fashioned marketing principles always seem to do the trick.

You might be saying, “If it was this easy, then why isn’t everyone using these techniques?” Well, the answer is that they have not transitioned from the 4 P’s to the 3 I’s. Let me explain what I mean.

The Four P’s

In the industry, there are four things that you must first answer to ensure that you can market yourself the best way possible. They are as follows:

  • Product: What is it that you are trying to sell
  • Price & Position: What are you going to charge and where will it fall in the comparative marketplace
  • Place: Where do you hope to attract your customers
  • Promotion: How are you going to get your product in front of your customers

Speaking specifically to the 4 p’s of marketing for hotels, it would look something like this:

  • Product: Most likely hotel rooms, but could be meeting space
  • Price & Position: Are you a motel, mid-level hotel, boutique, or luxury hotel; what is your ADR?
  • Place: Most of you reading this will be focused on the conversion happening on digital
  • Promotion: What sets you apart, what channels will you use to get your offer out to the public?

While the Four P’s are a great place to start, there needs to be something extra. Something that could give us a better shot at converting. See, the Four P’s were created at a time when direct marketing was what drove business. Now that digital plays a more significant role in the customer journey, there needs to be some adjustment.

Enter the 3 I’s

As you are looking through this list, I am sure that you will find some similarities to the classic four P’s.

  • Identity: What is your brand’s personality? How do you hope to service them?
  • Intent: How can you tell who is ready to buy and when?
  • Information: How will your potential customers know if your product is right for them?

Again, since we are hoteliers, let’s assume that you are a mid-priced hotel with an ADR of between $160-180, and you are looking to sell more rooms to new customers, digitally.

  • Identity: It would depend on your particular competitive set, but fundamentally, what differentiates you from your competitors? This is not who you think is your competitor, but more so who your customers think your competitors are. Hotels in this price range can waste a lot of money competing against much more expensive brands that aren’t in the same market.
  • Intent: Since the purchase journey is so long, how are you going to differentiate customers who are ready to buy vs. those who are just browsing. This is more than just demographics. If you are only looking at demographics, then you risk missing 70% mobile shoppers! Imagine what that means when you combine that with the whole marketing strategy. Push-then-Pull, push-then-pull. You need to dig into the data to see exactly what search terms & placements signify buyers v. researchers. Push your marketing efforts to the furthest away from the purchase and pull them in once they have shown interest. This takes some lead time but is worth its weight in gold.
  • Information: No customer likes to be sold. The days of in your face advertising and marketing are out. The customer needs to decide for themselves. If they do not choose you, it’s either because you didn’t meet their needs or, they were confused on what you are about and don’t know if you will fill their wants. The information that you put out should line up with your customer's intent and view of your identity.

If you focus on the customer with the 3 I’s, then you can hope to see stronger results. The Four P’s are great, and they have their place, but they are focused on what you believe you are selling to the customer, not what the customer thinks that they are being sold. Think about your purchasing habits. Are they any different?

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