Thursday, March 17, 2011

Motel Marketing

This time of year, motels throughout the country are trying to figure out marketing budgets for the next 12-months. This happens to coincide with the 'Ugly Sisters" (Jasons and AA) hitting the road with their reps offering new multi-media marketing combos to bewildered moteliers.

In order to work out the distribution of marketing spend, a hard core of analytical motelier types ask every single guest how they found them and faithfully record this data for prosperity, others follow what the latest industry buzz tells them to do while others rely on gut-instinct.

While moteliers collecting and analysing the source of business data from their guests is the sensible and correct thing to do, this unfortunately does not give 100% correct lead as to what mediums are really generating business.

Google Analytics will measure with certainty all sorts of webstats including ranking what websites refer potential guests from but it will not reveal the multi-media the browser may have been exposed to before going online. Websites that generate reservations can also be easily measured and ranked however websites that produce seemingly insignificant business can still provide a valuable link for browsers that are researching accommodation options and will book by other means.

Asking guests directly how they found you is a good idea, however the results must be taken with a grain of salt. Most guests become bewildered and confused along the multi-media journey that may include social networking, print and digital. If a potential guest finds that one piece of the puzzle is missing, they will become distracted by dropping a positive lead for another. If most guests are asked what paid marketing lead them to make a buying decision, most would be unable to positively identify with certainty what particular website, directory etc that influenced them. And if they could it would only be the very last source of many that they have referred to.

We would like to think that all marketing should be focused online. Digital is exciting and sexy, we feel reasonably comfortable in this space and are intoxicated with any media delivered by the comforting glow of a screen. Although dead tree media is less exciting, it is far from dead and still a major part of the equation that drives a substantial amount of business. 

John Wanamaker, the US department store pioneer, is often quoted as saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”. Unfortunately this unhelpful quotation seems to be even more relevant today, especially when marketing motels.

So after spending an exhilarating evening last night with a vivacious AA Guides rep that offered me an array of multi-media marketing combos, I hope I managed to tick the right boxes... 

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