How Does Your Marketing Compare?
How Does Your Marketing Compare?
After occupancy rates, marketing plans are one of innkeepers’ favorite
topics of conversation with others in the industry. How old is your website?
What online directories do you use? Are you still printing a brochure? Do
you let travel writers stay for free? How many room nights do you give away
in a year? Did you ever write a press release? The answers to these
questions, and many more, can be found in the just-released PAII Study of
Innkeeper Marketing Practices. For the first time, you can compare your
marketing budgets and activities with those of almost 500 other innkeepers
from around the country.
PAII commissioned The Highland Group to conduct a study of how innkeepers
market their properties. An online questionnaire was developed with the help
of PAII’s Research Task Force and sent via email to innkeepers nationwide
(to non-PAII members as well) in February 2006. The questionnaire was
composed of 38 questions covering such topics as the size of the marketing
budget and its breakdown by category; target markets; and the mix of booking
sources. We asked about promotional activities including press releases,
contests, and complimentary room nights. The most comprehensive section is
on Internet marketing, with questions about web design, web hosting, web
maintenance, web traffic, search words, pay per click, online directories,
online referrals, and online reservation systems. Perhaps the most useful
question was, “What new idea or promotion successfully generated business
for your inn last year?”
We received responses from 497 properties in 47 states and Canada. The
Highland Group analyzed the data and created a report that provides answers
to the questions above. We now know, for example, that marketing expenses
have been rising in double digits for most properties. Innkeepers spent 11%
more on marketing on average in 2005 than they spent in 2004, and they plan
to spend 13% more this year than last year. That’s not true for all
properties, though if an inn’s marketing budget this year is substantially
less than last year it’s probably because they had just completed a major
investment. The size of budgets is most affected by big ticket items such as
web or brochure redesigns.
So, who should purchase this study? Any aspiring innkeeper will benefit from
such basics as knowing how many dollars it takes to conduct a successful
marketing plan. If your inn will be opening soon, you’ll want to know how to
spend those marketing dollars and how much to allocate for the different
marketing activities you’ll need to have. Established innkeepers will also
benefit by having detailed information they can use to evaluate their own
Occupancy rates are the No. 1 concern for most innkeepers, according to
previous PAII surveys. Since occupancy is tied to successful marketing,
you’ll want to know how your marketing practices measure up in this
Perhaps your online reservations have been soft? Is it because your website
traffic is down? Do you know how to track your website traffic? If your
traffic is not what you think it should be, it may be time to take a look at
the online directories innkeepers say work the best for them. Or perhaps
you’ve not reviewed which search words are most appropriate on the search
engines these days. Could you name the top search words today’s travelers
are using? If you’ve not updated your website recently, perhaps it’s time to
review the website elements that innkeepers named as most important.
Successful marketing involves more than just a good website these days, so
taking the time to review your other marketing activities can also have a
big payoff to your bottom line. Do you still need to be in printed
directories? What about printed brochures and print advertising? What kinds
of promotions are innkeepers running – and which ones worked the best? Are
you confident that you have the right PR plan, and do you know what to say
when a travel writer asks for a free three-night stay? Do you say ‘yes’ to
every charity that asks for a free room night?
In short, even successful innkeepers need to review their marketing plans
each year – and the best ones take the time to look not only at what they’re
doing, but also how it compares to the marketplace in which they operate.
That’s what the PAII Study of Marketing Practices enables innkeepers to do –
and for an investment of less than a single night’s stay.
Thank you to the hundreds of innkeepers that participated in this study. If
you completed the survey questionnaire, you’ll be receiving a complimentary
electronic copy of the PAII Study of Marketing Practices. Thanks also to our
three study sponsors: BedandBreakfast.com, Select Registry, and Third
Millennium Marketing. Their financial contributions helped to make the study
If you would like to order a copy of the PAII Study of Marketing
Practices, contact the PAII office at 1-800-468-7244 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost of
the 46-page study PDF is $39 for PAII members and $59 for non-members; add
$9 for shipping and handling a printed copy. To learn more about PAII
publications, upcoming conferences, and membership benefits, visit the
This Month's Sponsor
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BedandBreakfast.com, RezOvation and Expedia, Inc. are
hitting the road to bring you comprehensive information about Internet
marketing, online reservations, yield management, and property management
software. Please join us for these workshops and for an Innkeepers'
Appreciation Luncheon. Read more...
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