Marketing hotel services include in its purview everything and almost all the dimensions directly or indirectly helping in promoting the business. This necessitates formulation of a sound marketing mix, such as an aggregation of different sub-mixes such as product, promotion, pricing, place, people and process.
Market Segmentation for Hotel
The hotel professionals segment the market in such a way to identify the changing needs and requirements of different segments to make the marketing decisions effective.
The main bases for hotel segments are geographic, psychographic and socio-economic. The geographic bases include hotel companies located at different places and psychographic bases include life cycle, buying motives and knowledge of prospects regarding the services. The social-economic bases include women segment, weak-end segment and instant market segment. To be more specific, the life-style segment is found to be more important.
Marketing Mix for Hotel Industry
The term marketing mix is the combination of what market offers and identifying the actual point where marketing actions can be taken to improve the acceptability of hotel product and stimulate demand. The combination of core and peripheral services, the creative promotional decisions, the pricing strategies helping hotels in maintaining the commercial viability, the efficient hotel personnel are important decision making areas which gravitate attention on the formulation of a sound mix for the hotel industry. It is against this background, the different sub-mixes of the marketing mix are discussed.
The product mix for the hotel services include catering management, restaurant and cafeteria management, management of bedrooms, management of convention halls etc. The boarding services are considered to be an important part of product mix. In addition, the lodging services also become significant.
Product Mix of Hotel Services
Here it is essential that facilities like light, water, electricity, ventilation, entertainment, sanitation arrangement of bed etc. are also equally important. While formulating the product mix, the hotel organisations are required to make possible a fair mix of all the above services.
It is not only sufficient to provide quality services, but it is equally important to promote the business in such a way that the prospects come to know about the quality to be offered to them. There are number of components for promoting the business such as, advertisement, publicity, sales promotion, personal selling and word of mouth.
The hotel professionals make productive use of print media, broadcast media and telecast media for advertisement. There are significant developments in the print media and due to sophistication in the printing technologies, it is possible to attract the attention of prospectus by displaying attractive scenes, events, comforts etc. While selecting the media, it should be kept in mind the magazines and newspaperspreferred by target audience. The professionals have to select a suitable time for transmission in broadcast media, when a majority of the target audience are supposed to be close to the radio set.
Similarly, in telecast media, while advertising due weightage to be given in selecting sensitive hours,
when a majority of viewers are found before their T.V. sets. The scenes of hotel location, the swimming pool, the shopping complex, the personal car centres, the arranged bed rooms, the restaurants and convention hall, the aesthetic management are required to be telecast in such a way that attracts the target users.
In the hotel industry, public relations activities play an important role in informating the clients regarding the merits of different services offered. The specialties of hotel are presented in such a way that the prospects are motivated to avail of the facilities offered by a particular hotel.
In the hotel business, there are number of events which should be transmitted to the local press, such as menus for certain functions held at hotel, particulars or certain important conferences or exhibitions to be held, menus for special days of the year, photographs of staff dressed up for special days and well-known people staying in the hotel. Sponsored fashion-designing events, entertainment programmes, beauty contest etc. can also be effective publicity tools.
Like other organizations, the hotels also offer incentives to the users vis-à-vis to the personnel and organizations evencing interest in promoting the business.
Tools of sales promotion
·Directed at Hotel Staff: Travel, concessional accommodation for close relations, use of wedding halls for staff, contests, gift.
·Directed at Tour Operators and Travel Agents: Compliments (Pen, ashtrays, diaries, calendars, brochure, trade exhibition, lunch, direct mail –letters, circulars) concessional accommodation, contest.
·Directed at Guests: Off-reason discount, point of sale, sales, literature, compliments (Pen, ashtrays, diaries, calendars, gifts, contest, joint promotion with travel companies, direct mail).
Word of mouth
The word of mouth promotion is very much instrumental in sensitizing the prospects. In the hotel industry it is much more significant. The word of mouth promoters are those who are satisfied with the service of hotels, who inturn motivate the prospects. The hotel professionals bear the responsibility of identifying opinion leaders who can successfully act as a publicist. Persons with high communicative ability, having a reputation in the society are found suitable for publicizing the services of hotels.
The hotel business is substantially influenced by personal selling. The sales personnel are required to be friendly in dealings and expression. They are required to be helpful and patient and work towards generating more satisfaction to customers. For selling successfully, it is essential that sales forces are professionally sound. A fair combination of personal and social skill is found essential for the sales force to be engaged.
Pricing decisions are found critical and challenging. The hotel professionals need to be intelligent while fixing the hotel traffics since the service are of perishable in nature. In addition, the seasonal fluctuation in demand and increasing intensity of competition also complicate the task. So they need intelligence while making strategical and tactical pricing decisions.
Tactical pricing is found instrumental in promoting the hotel business. There are number of ways for practicing this tool:
·Seasonal Discounts: To charge lower prices, especially during off-season.
·Trade Discounts: This is offered to tour operators and travel agents
·Special Discounts: Special function room rates for overnight conventions.
In the hotel industry the distribution of services is mainly related to the transmission of information by the related persons to the ultimate users. As and when the bookings are made of a bed-room or a function room or of a restaurant, the confirmation is found essential. A number of factors are found influencing the distribution process, such as location, point of sale, the cost of distribution, effectiveness of marketing resources, image of hotels, tactical strategy and the motivational schemes.
The choice of location is the most important business decision, specially for proprietor owned restaurants, guest houses and small tourist attractions. With the introduction of computers and increasing user of information technologies, a radical change has come in the distribution system.
The middleman are wholesalers buying hotel rooms in bulk and then selling the same to the retailers, known as the travel agents. The tour operators are called the producers of services. The travel agents buy the services at the request of their clients and provide a convenient network of sales outlets which caters to the needs of the catchment area.
The strategic choice between internal and external selling, domestic and international selling, direct and indirect selling occupy a place of significance. The hotel professionals are supposed to make the decision sound, so that the process of distribution is made cost effective.
The people working in the organisation are quite important for the success of the business. In hotel industry, the receptionists, the porters, the house-keepers, the waiters and waitresses play an incremental role in promoting the business. The marketing managers take up the responsibility of managing the frontline personnel in such a way that the promised services reach to the ultimate users. If the hotel personnel in such a way that the promised services reach to the ultimate users. If the hotel personnel prove to be high performers, personally committed, professionally sound, value oriented, aware of the behavioral management, familiar with the aesthetic management, they can satisfy the users.