In todayÕs challenging, ever-changing hospitality industry, public relations (PR) is an operational necessity for savvy hoteliers and hotel marketers, as properties that use PR to promote their property to potential guests can experience a greater increase in bookings compared to properties that donÕt.
Although this can also be accomplished using other more traditional marketing tactics to a lesser degree, PR is much more effective, as consumers are more trusting of endorsements from a third-party expert as with media coverage of your property than they are of marketing messaging.ÊÊ
That being said, one of the most difficult things about using PR in your hotelÕs marketing strategy is properly evaluating and proving the ROI on your outreach; in fact, this was an industry-wide problem until 2010 when PR pros from 33 different countries met in Barcelona to discuss the state of PR metrics. Before that meeting, the traditional metrics used to evaluate a PR campaign included:
The number of media placements secured within a month.
The Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) of each placement, which showed Òthe cost of buying the space taken up by a particular article, had the article been an advertisementÓ.
As you know, the goal of a PR campaign is to inspire action, be it to increase brand awareness, boost website traffic, increase bookings, etc.; as such, in Barcelona, it was decided that AVEs are no longer the most effective way to measure a PR campaignÕs efficacy. Instead, it was determined that there are three new levels of metrics that offer more in-depth information when evaluating a campaignÕs ROI:
Level one: Outputs
Outputs are metrics that can be measured quantifiably, but which donÕt actually demonstrate the impact that the results are having on your audienceÕs perceptions of the property or their actions. Outputs metrics include the number of media responses to your pitch, the number of stories written about your property, the reach of each story (the number of people who read the article), increased website traffic, potential customer contacts, etc.
Level two: Outcomes
This measurement shows the impact or change on the target audienceÕs perceptions or behaviors, including changes in brand awareness, opinions of a company and its product/service, level of credibility held for the company, purchasing intentions, etc.
Keep in mind that it is necessary to establish a baseline metric before getting started on your campaign, to ensure that your activities are having a quantifiable impact on the perceptions or behaviors that you are aiming to change. To do this, I recommend doing an industry survey prior to launch your outreach campaign to evaluate your current metrics, and then redoing the survey every quarter to monitor the progress over time.
Level three: Business results
This level of metric is self-explanatory, as it directly impacts the financial results of the company; it includes metrics such as increased sales, increased demo requests, increased market share, increase in stock prices, etc. The marketing team should be working closely with the reservations department or GM to track whether the campaign is having a positive, negative or neutral impact on the propertyÕs bookings and revenues.
Evaluation best practices
For best results, all three types of evaluation metrics should be monitored on an ongoing basis. A good rule of thumb is to evaluate your campaignÕs results every month, so that you can identify any issues or objectives being missed and update your strategy accordingly immediately if there are.
To be more effective at monitoring your results, create a monthly report that outlines all of the above metrics in greater detail. Not only will this be useful in determining your progress at-a-glance, it will also be useful information if your company ever decides to sell or needs to secure investor funding. In each monthÕs report, track the results for each month and the percentage change from the month prior both positive or negative. Again, this gives you a simple way to see, at a single glance, whether the ROI of your PR campaign is increasing or decreasing, month-to-month.
Finally, instead of evaluating the entire strategy at one time, evaluate each part individually, every month. For example, evaluate your PR and social media outreach using different baseline numbers and different metrics, even if your objectives are the same. By doing so, you will generate a more accurate picture of your campaignÕs ROI, as well as if any single part or parts are working less effectively than others.
By evaluating your PR campaign using the above metrics every month, you will be able to track whether your outreach is helping to achieve your strategic objectives and, if not, determine what is necessary to boost the ROI on your outreach. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
By Jennifer Nagy, President of JLNPR Inc.
About JLNPR Inc.
JLNPR Inc. is a full-service public relations and marketing agency that lives and breathes all facets of the travel technology industry. From online travel agencies to revenue management systems, tablet-based aviation automation solutions to IFE technology, hotels to airlines and everything in between, JLNPR uses our knowledge and experience to get your B2B travel technology company noticed by media, influencers and potential customers Ð and whenever possible, without the overused, often abused press release. In addition to traditional media relations outreach, we also ghost-write exciting, informational copy that will be published (in our clientÕs name) by top hotel industry media outlets Ð in order to increase your companyÕs visibility with potential customers, boost brand awareness and increase sales.ÊTo learn how to do your own PR for your company, download JLNPRÕs free guide:ÊHow to Use Public Relations to Boost Your Sales – Without Blowing Your Budget. To find out more about JLNPR (including our services and out-of-the-box philosophy on press releases), please visitÊwww.jlnpr.com.