Monthly Archives: January 2010

10 Online Marketing Tips for 2010

I’m just getting caught up. Tail end of December Ryan Bifulco had following excellent article on If you don’t subscribe to, give it serious consideration.

There are countless studies and reports touting how critical it is for hotels to be active with blogs, search engines, e-mail and social networks. Yet many hoteliers are still very skeptical about new media and Internet advertising. With empty rooms to fill in 2010, perhaps more hotels will warm up to these online hotel marketing programs:

  1. Rethink your Distribution. Partner with people that produce results.  Grow your bookings through a combination of targeted banners, text links and e-mails.  Distribution does not just mean listing on Expedia anymore.  Look at meta search players and travel sites to fish in new ponds.
  2. Stop Ignoring the Power of Viral Marketing. This year it’s about engaging potential customers using online videos, podcasts, blogs, games and social networks.  All of these areas allow users to spread the word about your hotel as they share it with their friends.
  3. Participate in Social Networks. This doesn’t mean slapping up a Facebook page without also having a fan page and group as well as the right audience as friends. Having a Twitter page with 50 followers won’t do the trick, so be an active part of the conversations to boost your following (audience) and make sure you know the Twitter lingo such as “#traveltuesday.”

  4. Fuse in Digital PR. It used to be important to just have your hotel featured in the Sunday section of The New York Times. Today it’s also vital to have your hotel show up on popular online sites like, which coincidentally is owned by The New York Times and draws in 60 million unique users a month.
  5. Retarget Travelers. 98 percent of the users that visit a Web site leave without buying anything.  But hotels can use retargeting to have a second shot at advertising to that same potential visitor even after he has left your site.
  6. Revisit your SEO plan. SEO has changed more in the last year than in the last five years. SEO does not mean buying your way into Google (we call that SEM, folks). It means making your site as friendly as possible to the search engines. It also means doing more with blogs, bookmarks, social media, video SEO and audio SEO.
  7. Shoot an HD video. Time to upgrade those hotel photos from five years ago!
  8. Package your Hotel. You need to offer more than the traditional “breakfast package.” Get creative and sell the experience. Why not put together a “Thrill Seeker Package” which includes the room and a day of skydiving.  And don’t be stingy on your room rate, as you can mask it within the total price of the package.
  9. Publish your own E-mail Newsletter. When guests register online or at the hotel, ask them for their e-mail address and see if they might be interested in receiving a monthly newsletter filled with interesting information about the hotel, specials, packages, seasonal menus, etc. Building this internal database of travelers interested in your hotel brand is priceless and an excellent way to market your hotel throughout the year.
  10. Develop a Digital Strategy. Brainstorm with your team and work with experts to understand how to tie all these things together in a way that fits your brand. The items listed above are all related and must be harnessed together to really get ahead.

Celebrity Owned Hotels

Boston Globe ( started the year with their list of top celebrity owned hotels compiled by tripadvisor.

In Dublin, the Hotel Clarence is owned by The Edge and Bono of U2 fame. Hotel is getaway for singles interested in night life.

Eastbourne, England has pet-friendly Big Sleep Hotel owned by actor John Malkovich.

Of course there is Sundance Resort outside Provo, UT, owned by Clint Eastwood. Rustic beauty and a $600 rate.

Peter De Niro owns The Greenwich Hotel in New York with a $579 rate. A romantic retreat.

Gala Retreat & Spa in Brooklet, Australia is owned by Olivia Newton-John. Great place for a relaxing spa vacation.

Francis Ford Coppola owns Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize. A wonderful honeymoon location with cabanas and villas with thatched roofs, hammock, and open-air living.

Costa d’Este Beach Resort, managed by Benchmark Hospitality International is owned by Gloria Estefan.

Donatella Versace owns the Palazzo Versace Main Beach in Queensland, Australia. Known for it’s stylish decor and high fashion.

Cling Eastwood has Mission Ranch in Carmel, CA. This historic property is on 22 acres of prime Monterey Peninsula.

Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel in Mount Tremper, NY is owned by Kate Pierson. After traveling with the B-52’s as their lead singer, Kate purchased the property near Woodstock. The resort features 1950’s camp cabins and vintage Airstream trailers.

Nagib’s Corner: Ways to Beat the Slow Recovery

Happy 2010,

Firstly, hope you all had a wonderful time with your families over the holidays.

Secondly – wish you have a successful year ahead, both with your business and family.

The basics determine how to develop more business in 2010.

· Leisure Travel Outlook – Value Is Kingno secret on this reality. Focus on building value into your packages.

· Look for deals on the Internet : watch your website and analyze the stats very closely. This still remains your most effective growth medium if you use it – well. Imagine the sheer numbers of people who could be selecting you!

· Both components of demand for business travel services (individual and group) will recover as the economy improves; yet demand from individual business travelers is likely to rebound firstcorporate transient traffic and negotiated corporate traffic. This area will grow ahead of convention and meeting markets.

o In house data mining for leads. Use your employees PLUS all your normal sources.

o Identify originating source of the traffic and make a sales visit to them – it’s inexpensive and highly effective in building relations and loyalty.

o Be strategic in where you anticipate traffic to come from, not just chase what may have been there earlier. Markets evolve.

o Review your approved RFP solicitations – approval is only step one: converting that into sales is where the rubber meets the road.

o Channel management: CRO, GDS, etc. Good time to check visibility and update to highlight value propositions.

No, they won’t come just because you built: however, those who are coming to your neck of the woods will come to you if you give them reason to! And that will likely provide you what you’re looking for.

Good luck and all the very best for the year ahead!


Nagib Lakhani
RevMax Hospitality Consulting Services
O: (425)677-7866     C: (425)445-7750   F: (866)508-7866

5 Questions Every Revenue Manager Should Be Asking

Following is one of the most helpful articles I’ve seen for Revenue Enhancement for 2010. Patrick did excellent job. Here’s the link if you have not subscribed to this excellent publication.
04 January 2010 9:03 AM
By Patrick Mayock
Associate News Editor
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—While presenting at the Hospitality Leadership Forum in early November, Mark Lomanno, president of research firm Smith Travel Research, made a statement ominous enough to send chills up the spines of revenue managers everywhere.

“On an inflation-adjusted basis,” he began, “ … it’s going to probably take eight to 10 years to get room rates back to where they were in 2007.”

This assessment was more severe than the reality faced in the aftermath of 9/11, when it took rates six years to recover on an inflation-adjusted basis, according to STR. But then again, this downturn also has seen historic extremes in industry performance declines.

Still, not everyone agreed with Lomanno’s projection. Jim Rozell, senior director of revenue optimization at Carlson Hotels Worldwide, said that 2007 was an inflated benchmark to begin with.

“In 2008, portions of 2007, rates were not where they should have been,” he said. “They were well above where they should have been,” adding rates are now where they should have been.

For the industry to think it will recover to 2007 levels is probably unrealistic, he said.

Yet others, such as Bonnie Buckhiester of Buckhiester Management, a Seattle-based yield management consulting firm, concurred with Lomanno.

And whether you agree with the claim or not, it’s important to start thinking about recovering rates at the onset of the economic upturn. Here are five questions every good revenue manager should ask himself or herself to get started:

1. Have you forgotten your price point?

There’s a difference between slashing prices and making discounts look like promotions, Rozell said. The former implies cutting rates to establish the lowest competitive price point among your peers, assuming that guests’ booking decisions are based solely on price.

Promotional discounts, however, offer cost-conscious consumers a value-oriented deal that maintains a reference to the original price point. For example, if a guest buys two nights and gets one night free, they still know how much that third night is worth.

“The key thing is to keep that higher reference price out there, so that people being driven by value still realize this is a (US)$299 product,” said Chris Anderson, assistant professor for the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

2. Are you using the right comp set?

Bonnie Buckhiester

“Revenue mangers have to go back and revisit their comp sets and determine if they’ve got the right comp sets,” Buckhiester said. This is especially important as revenue managers learn to navigate the new normal, in which five-star hotels are charging four-star rates, four-star hotels are charging three-star rates, and so on.

Read “It’s all about who is in your comp set.”

3. How often do you update your forecasts?

Monthly forecasts are great for C-level boardroom meetings, but they don’t provide the type of up-to-date information needed to make accurate, day-to-day decisions from the revenue management perspective, according to Buckhiester.

So how often is often enough? Track accuracy by the day, Buckhiester advised. This is especially important for hotels at which revenue management is not outsourced or automatic.

4. What’s your most profitable business mix?

It’s not enough to determine your most profitable business mix in general, Buckhiester said. You must determine the most profitable business mix for today’s market conditions, and then adjust it accordingly as the economic climate changes.

To do so, look at all revenue streams, all income, all internal and external costs, and really drill down into them to determine what mix of guests will generate the highest total revenue—not just the highest initial room rate.

5. Does the product match the price?

Price points shouldn’t be arbitrary; they should accurately reflect the product and demand, Buckhiester said. While this might sound obvious, far too many hoteliers aren’t analyzing where the demand for certain guestrooms and packages actually lie.

Buckhiester advised taking a month or two to track upgrades to see what guests want and are willing to pay for. Then, build in up-sell opportunities to capture that demand.

Kimpton Hotels, for example, offers guests upgrade opportunities in their confirmation e-mails. “This is what you bought … you can get this upgrade for (US)$10 right now instead of (US)$20,” Buckhiester said. “It may or may not be available when checking in, and you can change your mind.”

Billionaire-Owned Hotels and Resorts

Forbes magazine ( published info about hotels and resorts owned by billionaires. Web sites make fun viewing:

Hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones bought 350,000 acres in Tanzania.His Singita Grumeti Reserves feature air-conditioned tents and other amenities to provide a luxury experience.

William Cook restored French Lick Hotel & Casino in Indiana. It includes golf, 12 eating venues and the casino.

Kuwait’s richest man, Nassar Al-Kharafi owns Port Ghalib Resort, close to Egypt’s pyramids. Three resorts in one. Great beach and scuba diving.

Donald Trump’s Trump International overlooks Central Park.

New York’s Plaza Hotel is owned by Israeli titan Yitzhak Tshuva. It’s Central Park and Fifth Avenue location is premier.

Topping the list of billionaire owned hotels is Steve Wynn’s Wynn Las Vegas. While staying there you can check out the cars at the Ferrari-Maseratie dealership, or the multi-million dollar art collection.

Sheldon Adelson took his concept of the Venetian in Las Vegas to unparalleled heights with the Venetian Macau. It is the equivalent of 56 football fields and includes a 14,000 seat stadium.

Hasso Plattner, Germany’s richest man owns Fancourt Hotel and Country in South Africa. It offers 3 rated golf courses, 6 gourmet restaurants, and lush tropical wilderness garden.

Las Ventanas in Mexico is owned by Beanie Baby creator Ty Warner. It features 71 suites overlooking the Sea of Cortez.

Ritz Carlton Chicago is owned by Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm.

The Carlton Hotel in St Moritz is owned by Swiss retail mogul Carl-Heinz Kipp. It is certainly one of the most prestigious ski resorts.

Ready to plan your next vacation?