Effective Ways of Providing Value Through Effective Packaging

By Lanny Grossman President, EM50 Communications | November 06, 2009

Each of us as a consumer at one point or another has uttered the phrase "Ok, it's worth it." We have evaluated a situation that required the expenditure of either personal or financial capital and made a judgment call as to the value of what was being spent versus what is being received. When booking hotel or travel packages, travel agents and consumers alike go through that very process.

The most common and basic "package" offering in a hotel is simply Bed and Breakfast. Although I would argue this is not really a package per se, it does get hotel operators thinking about assembling a bulk offering that ultimately translates into a savings for the guest. That said, the goal of packaging is to of course drive reservations, but to also generate media coverage and consumer interest by offering something new and exciting, and most importantly, of value. Those components will organically then deliver the desired business goals.

Strategically Use What You Already Offer

In order to go above and beyond the typical Bed and Breakfast offering, hotels must use all of their resources. The first step is to strategically use what you already offer. Similar to the cable companies that offer bundled services, take the services and amenities you already offer, whether complimentary, or for a fee, and put them into a package that makes sense. For example, for a package targeting business travelers take your Wi-Fi, breakfast, parking, business center, access to the gym and other relevant components and turn it into a special package that speaks to them. Sure you offer most or all of the components anyway, but when the guest sees a variety of services and amenities all listed together it not only gives them a grand sense of the hotel but gives them an opportunity to feel that they are getting more for their money. Hopefully, items that come at little or no cost to the hotel, but normally carry a retail rate for guests, can act as newly created added-value illustrating a savings. Alternatively, even if many of those services are already complimentary, there is a sense of perceived value for receiving so much at once. From the travel trade side of things, travel agents will often search the GDS using the code for 'special packages' first. In that scenario, even if your rates wind up being the same or similar, the special package will display before room-only rates during their search.

Form Partnerships to Create a Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Although bundling services that are already offered or easily accessed is a good start, more is required to meet the goal of offering great value and creating interest from guests, as well as the media. In order to include interesting added-value, form partnerships to create a mutually beneficial relationship. For example, if you would like to create a holiday shopping package, having a close proximity to great stores is not good enough. Instead, reach out to a few retailers and create a partnership that will benefit both the hotel and store. For the holiday shopping package, maybe there is a clothing store that is willing to provide $25 gift cards to include in each package. The store knows most of their items are well above $25 and it will bring extra traffic into their store. While the hotel has now built an extra $25 worth of value into the package price at a zero wholesale cost, allowing more of the package price to go directly to the room rate. This can also be achieved by negotiating wholesale rates with local vendors. For example, if brunch at a local restaurant is normally $50 per person, try to make a deal to pay $30 and include it in the package giving you an extra $20 in value and added cushion to the bottom line. It helps to first identify a theme and then search for partners that fit the theme and are attractive to the desired target audience. If offering a Mother's Day package, perhaps work with a florist or chocolatier to create the appropriate added value; Girls Getaway maybe a spa or salon etc etc.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.