First up, I hope everyone had a spectacular Labor Day rest. This August holiday typically marks the end of summer for those of us here in the Northern Hemisphere, even though, officially speaking, the season still has another few weeks to go. Now, with the summer season behind us (winter season for those in South America, South Africa or Australia), spend a few minutes taking stock of your situation and planning your strategic charge through to the end of the calendar year. Here is my ‘Top Ten’ list of items that should be on your radar as we drive towards the final quarter.
- Reflect. Where do you stand through the end of August in terms of GOR and occupancies? What is the current forecast for the balance of the year? How close are you to being on track with budget? Are your promotions and other marketing programs meeting expectations? Are you getting any insight from your STR reports into competitive rates?
- Review capital expenditures versus plan. Often adjustments are needed to reflect unforeseen situations or delays. No one likes year-end surprises. Better to get these changes addressed now.
- A property walk should also include that of your key competitors. A little bit of field research can go a long way; maybe inspire you as well. And while you’re at it, does your property still say ‘summer’ on in-room and in-house collateral?
- Talk to your sales team about the year’s rates. You need to build your base of meetings and conference rooms for next year. While your budget may not even be finalized and targets not yet established, rates and bookings through the fourth quarter are critical to succeed in the first part of next year.
- Time to ensure that all your rates are loaded for online bookings. I understand that you do not even have a marketing plan yet, but you need to have rates available for FIT at least 366 days in advance. Rates can be changed, but customers who can’t book your property will be off scrutinizing the next hotel.
- By this point in the year, you’re already late with your marketing plan. Remember my previous comments and suggestions: brevity is key. You are out to grow your business, not kill trees for photocopy paper.
- Thanksgiving is coming. Begin your plans for this late-year program now. The earlier you get your program established, the earlier you can spread the word and get bookings.
- Along the same lines as Thanksgiving, start thinking Black Friday. It is the number one retail day of the year and you will want to ensure you get your fair share. At the very least, brainstorm ideas with your team.
- Give some initial thoughts to the pre-Christmas period. For most, this is traditionally a lull before the winter holiday boom. Advance planning and special incentives can serve to build revenues. Don't forget to tie a charitable cause into your Christmas program.
- Plan an end-of-year thank you for your past guests. This doesn’t need to be a particularly grand gesture, but something of value and definitely something with a little more punch than an email. Physical is always better as it activates more senses than just sight. Perhaps a small end-of-year gift basket for your key customers and a mailed coupon on future purchases for everyone else? Just something to show that you truly care.
About Larry Mogelonsky
Larry Mogelonsky ([email protected]) is the president and founder of LMA Communications Inc. (LMA Communications Inc. (www.lma.ca), an award-winning, full service communications agency focused on the hospitality industry (est. 1991). Larry is also the developer of Inn at a Glance hospitality software. As a recognized expert in marketing services, his experience encompasses Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Preferred Hotels & Resorts, as well as numerous independent properties throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Larry is a registered professional engineer, and received his MBA from McMaster University. He's also an associate of G7 Hospitality and a member of both Cayuga Hospitality Advisors and Laguna Strategic Advisors. Larry's latest book entitled "Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?" is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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