A few weeks ago I was asked to develop a marketing plan for an independent hotel.  They told me they had a 15,000-name email list and wanted a campaign that would bring in business.  Their expectations were quite high and a bit naieve.

The challenge for this type of marketing technique is attrition.  Out of 15,000 emails sent out, the average return might be one-percent or 150 initial buyers and, perhaps, 450 in the after-market.  The remainder of the list may or may not respond over the course of time.

A second challenge is knowing who is responding to the email release and, more important, separating their names into a specialized buyers list, which would be surveyed and the information used to improve the future response to a marketing campaign.

My suggestion was more focused and systematic.  I suggested segmenting the list by the dates the guests came to visit.  Those who came around Thanksgiving or Christmas would likely come again around that time.  Guests who came from Canada around the time the Blue Jays were playing the Mariners would make the trip again and again.

Once these lists were separated, then a highly focused marketing campaign would be created to encourage them to visit again.  As the guests responded, the list would be segmented again, separating those who made reservations from those who didn’t.  After several campaigns using these techniques the goal is to establish a powerful, positive relationship with a group of loyal guests who will come time after time.

So far, the hotel management is not open to making this kind of commitment.  Building this marketing process requires considerable resources and expense.  Maybe next year. 

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